Noct wasn’t fishing.
He’d dragged Prompto out of the tent at dawn, which Prompto had been way too agreeable about, and by the time they’d gotten down to the Neeglyss Pond dock, Prompto had been more awake than he was which was both admirable and disgusting.
The chocobos had settled behind them on the shore, nestling in little feather poofs for a nap in the rays of the rising sun. Prompto had been cuddled next to his bird, half-buried in yellow fluff, but had eventually meandered over to the dock and shed his boots and socks to dip his toes in the cool water of the slough. He swung a leg, causing tiny splashes and ripples around the dock and scaring off the fish, and Noct had started to say something, but found himself too lazy to care. The sun was warm, and the water was cool, and Prompto next to him made him feel like he was home, and he suddenly realized that despite the hell this entire trip had been, he was feeling something fuzzy in his chest that was either contentment or something so close to it that he couldn’t tell the difference.
At some point, Noct’s fishing technique had disappeared and he’d sat down on the edge of the dock, still casting and reeling but with no real conviction. His motivation lessened even more when Prompto ambled over to sit next to him, then slowly sank down until he was lying on the dock, head in Noct’s lap, right leg crossed over his left and his arms stretched toward the sky, holding his camera above his head.
Somewhere in there, Noct’s left hand had dropped to the dock, clinging loosely to the handle of his fishing rod as his right hand lazily brushed throughout Prompto’s hair. It was a comfortable position--a familiar one.
“You ever think about what’s gonna happen after this?” Prompto said suddenly, breaking the silence. His camera buttons clicked as he continued scrolling through his picture gallery, and for a moment, that was the only sound other than the slapping of the water against the fishing dock.
Noct looked down at his fingers buried in Prompto’s hair. “After what?”
Prompto waved his camera vaguely. “I dunno. After we figure everything out, get Insomnia back, you’re king, all that?”
He made it sound like it’d be easy, and for some reason that made Noct feel a little better about it. “Not really. Just kinda thinking about right now.”
“Oh.” The sound of the camera buttons clicking paused for a second, and Prompto seemed like he was going to say something else, but he didn’t. The clicking resumed.
“Do you ?” Noct asked.
“Yeah. Probably not realistic stuff, but…” Prompto trailed off.
“What kinda stuff?”
Prompto hesitated for a second, then lowered the camera and rested it on his belly. He stared up at the sky, lips pursed, and eyes soft and unfocused, like he was peering through a window at whatever future he was imagining. “I dunno. Just trying to figure out what I’m gonna do. Maybe I can do some more photog stuff. Try to go professional, you know? Maybe like a wildlife photographer or something?”
“I could see that.”
“And, I don’t know. Maybe I can stay in the Crownsguard if Cor’s fine with it. That way I could stick around and bug you at the Citadel.” He tipped his head back, meeting Noct’s gaze with a sparkle in his eyes and an impish grin on his face. “Ever at your side, like a housefly.”
Noct brushed his hand through Prompto’s still-yet-unstyled morning hair so that it flopped into his face, and Prompto laughed, knocking his hand away. He picked his camera back up, and started to flick through the pictures again, and Noct looked back to the water, trying to ignore the vague gnawing feeling that had suddenly appeared in the pit of his stomach.
He removed his hand from Prompto’s hair and half-heartedly flicked his fishing rod a few times. The sun was high enough now that a lot of the early morning mist had been been driven back to the pond, and with the way they’d both been dipping their feet in the water and his shorter casts from sitting flat on the dock, Noct wasn’t really harboring any great hope of catching anything else. Still, he cast and reeled a couple more times before he spoke again, trying to sound casual. “ Are you gonna stick around?”
Prompto blinked, then glanced up at him. “Huh?”
Noct kept his eyes on the line, because if he looked down he knew he’d feel more stupid and clingy than he already did, just for asking. “After this. Are you planning to stick around the Citadel?”
Prompto shrugged. “Yeah, probably? I know you’re probably gonna be crazy busy running everything, so no more game night or anything, but I’ll at least be there a lot if I’m still in the Crownsguard even if I don’t actually see you around.”
Somehow that didn’t make the gnawing feeling go away. Noct cast again, absently. “You know, you could live in the Citadel if you wanted.”
Prompto wrinkled his brow. “Wait, really? Do people do that?”
“Sure. Specs lives in the Citadel. Uh, he used to.”
“Oh.” Prompto considered his camera, but didn’t really seem to be looking at it anymore. “Isn’t that, like, a special case, though? Cause Gladio’s got a seperate house. And Cor. And most of the other ‘guard, too.”
“I could just make another special case. If you wanted to.”
Prompto was quiet, and Noct swore at himself. “I mean, you don’t have to. I just thought that--”
“No!” Prompto interjected suddenly. “I mean, yeah, that’d be awesome, but wouldn’t it be kinda weird?”
“I mean, I could just marry you, if that would make it less weird.” The words were out of Noct’s mouth before he even knew he was thinking them.
But he had been thinking them, he’d been thinking them for so long—
He felt his face heating up, but the words were out there and he couldn’t take them back now, and even if he could, he didn’t know if he wanted to. But it felt as if the world was stopped for a brief second, like the air had been sucked from around him and was waiting for Prompto’s signal before it would return.
Prompto had gone silent, and the incessant click, click, click of the camera buttons as they moved through the photographs was still. Then Prompto laughed, and Noct’s heart shattered.
“Don’t play with my heart like that, dude.”
“Y-you’re.” Prompto stuttered and stopped. He sat up suddenly, and his voice was watery and weirdly high. “Wait. What? You’re actually--?”
Noct shrugged. “If I married you, then you could live in the Citadel and anyone who thought it was weird would just be delusional.” His heart was pounding so hard he wondered if it wasn’t visible through his t-shirt.
Prompto was silent again, mouth open, and in that moment, Noct had the horrible realization that he’d just fucked everything up.
Then, abruptly, Prompto snorted. “Dude.”
“Dude, what?” Noct said, when he didn’t explain himself.
Prompto’s cheeks were flushed and pink, and he had a grin on his face that was equal parts devilish and bright as the sun. “Did you just— did you just propose to me?”
Noct’s ears were burning. “No. Yes. I don’t know.”
“You totally did.”
“So what if I did?” Noct said hotly. “What would you say if I proposed to you?”
Prompto stared at him, and Noct mentally slapped himself.
Just dig yourself a deeper grave, why don’t you?
“I mean, if you were actually asking, I’d say yes,” Prompto responded in a soft and serious voice that was half a whisper, like he was afraid the question would dissipate once he answered it. “Like, right away.”
Noct hadn’t noticed that his hands had fallen to his sides. His fishing rod was held loosely in one hand, and if something bit now, he’d straight up lose the whole damn thing.
“But then I’d be like, ‘Ring, or no deal’,” Prompto said, “Or at least, like a new camera lense—”
Noct felt a smirk growing on his face, but rolled his eyes anyway and shoved him. “Whatever.”
“No, I’m serious,” Prompto protested. “Or at least, like, a candy bar—”
“You’d get at least a crown, dumbass,” Noct said and watched the realization hit him with enough glee that he caught himself by surprise. ( The silver resting in Prompto’s golden hair would catch the sunlight and reflect itself to be as golden as Prompto’s hair was.)
“Wait— no shit?”
“Duh. You’d be a king.”
The dumbstruck look on Prompto’s face was worth the weeks of teasing that he was probably going to get after this conversation was over.
Noct’s fishing rod suddenly slipped off the dock and dropped into the lake, startling them both. Prompto looked at him in alarm. “Wasn’t that the lure Navyth gave you?”
Noct’s eyes widened. “Shit!”
He turned and warped right off the dock and into the water after it, the blue mist of magic and sharp crack muffled by the cool water that suddenly surrounded him. Closing a fist around the handle of the rod, he kicked sharply and shot back up to the surface again. Prompto was there already, grabbing the arm he flung up and pulling him back onto the dock. He pushed the fishing rod back into the Armiger and flopped onto the dock with a groan, wiping the water from his eyes with one hand and trying to wring out his shirt with the other.
“Nice,” he heard Prompto say, followed by the sound of a shutter clicking.
He shot to his feet, already reaching for the camera, but Prompto, laughing and unsoggy, danced out of his reach.
“No way! This is going in my Candid Roadtrip Shots folder, right next to that picture of Ignis getting chased by that dualhorn.”
Prompto pulled a towel from the Armiger and flung it in his face, using that opportunity to shut off the camera and put it away before Noct could get to it. Noct caught the towel and rubbed it in his hair, grudgingly. “You’d better not show anyone.”
“Oh, I’m gonna show Gladio as soon as we get back.”
“Yup!” Prompto responded cheerfully.
Noct finished drying off and tossed the towel back into the Armiger to deal with later, then leaned over to put his tackle box back together. When he straightened, Prompto was staring at him.
Prompto blinked. “Uh, nothing. I just, uh.” He cleared his throat. “Does this mean we’re dating now? Like, for real?”
Noct felt that flush creeping back into his cheeks, but he forced a nonchalant shrug. “Well, yeah. If we’re gonna get married, then it makes sense.”
“Okay. So then...” Prompto stared at him for a brief second. Before Noct could say anything else, he stepped close, pulled the tackle box out of his hand, and kissed him. Warm and fierce and sweet at once, fingers buried in his hair at the back of his skull and body pressed so close that he could feel the warmth through his soaked clothing. When he pulled back, Noct followed and kissed him back, wrapping one arm around him and using the other hand to smooth Prompto’s hair out of the way.
They’d kissed before. In Noct’s apartment when Ignis wasn’t there, in the back of the movie theater they’d frequented, hidden by the dark. Behind the Regalia after Gladio sent them back to grab the rest of the camping gear. Back when there was a wedding and a treaty and the road in front of them was mapped out by everyone but him and his future was set in stone. This felt different--not like it was a wish but finally something real.
They pulled apart after Noct’s phone went off twice.
“Probably Specs. Wants us back for breakfast,” Noct mumbled reluctantly. Prompto stepped back, and Noct barely resisted the urge to grumble for him to come back. He didn’t move far, just far enough to release the tacklebox into the Armiger.
“Guess we should head back.” He slipped back to Noct’s side and grabbed his hand, meeting his eyes. “Lead the way.”