chlorhexidine: (Iggy)
[personal profile] chlorhexidine posting in [community profile] fic_ception
Gladio had been in a great mood all of the following day, and all of the day after that. He was busy, of course, with his father giving him more things to look at and study and memorise, but he mustered up the extra time to go and spend hanging around Ignis regardless. He'd visited after lunch, and again after dinner, and he'd whisked Ignis out into the gardens, where the air had turned cold again and kissed him under the light of stars, hidden from view by a tree. He'd talked happily about his plans for the city apartment, asking Ignis what he'd want in his kitchen, and pondering how much book space he might be able to squeeze in to a place he'd never actually seen.

The second day he'd had to stop himself when he'd realised he was kissing Ignis up against that tree again and Ignis was flushed and breathless with it, under assault and unequipped to fight back. This was new to him, he'd reminded himself, it all was, and he had to take it slowly if he wanted Ignis to enjoy it as much as he should. Gladio was determined this wasn't going to become duty for Ignis, that he wouldn't just learn to bear Gladio's affections. Which also, however frustrating it may be for now, meant taking things slowly and letting Ignis set the boundaries. It meant working up to all the things Gladio wanted to do, which included, for now, pinning him to this tree and taking his breath away.

He pulled back, tilting his head down to rest his forehead against Ignis's and sighed. “Sorry,” he murmured, quietly, “I'm getting carried away.” He stroked Ignis's cheek with his thumb, and moved his other hand up, from dangerously low on Ignis's back to his arm.

He felt Ignis's slim hands rest on his shoulders, and then brush down his arms, pulling them down until they reached Gladio's own hands. Ignis turned his hands then, so they were palm to palm, and gently pressed his fingers between Gladio's. Gladio curled his fingers up over the backs of Ignis's hands in response, and sighed again. “It's quite all right,” Ignis replied, giving Gladio's hands a gentle squeeze with his fingers.

Gladio opened his eyes, pulling back just slightly to see Ignis, flushed as he was, short of breath as he was, smiling sweetly up at him. It was too dark for Gladio to see the green of his eyes, but that didn't matter. He pressed a kiss to Ignis's forehead before he pulled his hands free in favour of wrapping Ignis up into a gentle but inescapable hug. He felt Ignis loop his own arms around Gladio's back as he did. “I can't believe you're going to be mine,” he said, his voice little above a whisper.

“I would wish to belong to no one else,” Ignis replied, his voice coming muffled from the depths of Gladio's shoulder.

Gladio wanted to squeeze and never let go, hearing that response, but he resisted. Ignis was slender, and, he'd realised, taller than he'd noticed, but he was also not built to withstand Gladio squeezing him with the full force of his adoration. Gladio would risk suffocating him. “Promise me something?” he asked.

“Of course,” Ignis replied. Gladio felt the gentle tightening of Ignis's arms around him and bit his lip. Lucky didn't even begin to cover it, and if he did this right, and took it slow, Ignis would be able to bask in Gladio's affections and, he hoped, return them.

“You'll tell me no,” he said, quietly. He leaned back so he could see Ignis's face, and the furrowed brow and confused, worried expression. “I'm not going to hurt you,” he promised, swore, his eyes locked with Ignis's. “I'm never going to raise a finger to you, or ask you to do something you don't want to do, or continue anything you don't enjoy, but,” his eyes flickered aside, his lips tightening for a moment, “if you don't wanna go somewhere, or do something with me, or if doing something with me means skipping out on sleep, if you're busy, things like that, say no.” Ignis's expression softened, and Gladio felt a flush of relief that he was understood. “I wanna look after you, but I know I can be a bit,” he frowned, remembering the phrase Iris had used, “full on, so if you're tired, or you wanna do something else, that's okay.”

“In that case, sir,” Ignis said, his voice gentle, and his eyes holding a sparkle of sharp intelligence and something that sent a shiver down Gladio's spine, “I must insist you refrain from visiting the kitchens for the rest of the week.”

Gladio frowned. “Why?”

A smile, or was it a smirk, tugged at the corner of Ignis's mouth, and Gladio got the sudden sinking feeling that he'd well and truly walked into a trap, albeit in the best possible way. “Your birthday approaches, and I find myself pressed for time.”

Gladio grumbled. “What about after dinner. You still going to be coming out here with me?”

Ignis smiled up Gladio, running his hands up Gladio's sides to come and rest over his shoulders as he tilted his head and answered, “Perhaps it would be best if I come to you?”

That was when Gladio knew he'd really fallen, and hard. Ignis had looked as if he was enjoying the mere idea of controlling when he got to see Gladio so much that Gladio wouldn't have been able to deny him even if he'd planned on it. He'd agreed, and then cursed himself for it because now he didn't know when he'd get to see Ignis again. It could be hours, or he could be awful and leave Gladio hanging for days. Just until his birthday was done, Ignis had said, but that was still most of a week where Gladio might not get to see Ignis more than a couple of times, and the idea made him miss Ignis already.

His regrets disappeared the next morning when his breakfast tray arrived, done up in the usual way with one small difference. There was a slim envelope on the tray, sitting between his orange juice and his toast, addressed in a slightly pretty hand to 'Master Gladiolus'. He took that, and opened it first, before he touched anything else on the tray.

I will be unable to make our evening sabbatical, but I will admit the prospect of going a whole day without seeing you lacks appeal. I will make time after supper, you have my word. Until then, I can only give you these words.
Ignis
xx


Gladio read it over twice before he smiled. Ignis's formal language suggested he wasn't used to communicating via letter, but somehow that only made it more endearing. Ignis was thinking of him, it meant, thinking of him enough to take a few minutes out of his day to let him know about it. Gladio ate his breakfast, and found some paper himself. When his tray was returned to the kitchen, there was a matching little envelope on it, addressed to Ignis.

I'm going to hold you to those kisses.
Gladio
xxxxxxxxxx


Gladio could picture Ignis's face as he opened his own note and read it. He could picture the exact way his cheeks rose with colour, and the way he dipped his head when he was blushing. He knew exactly how Ignis would smile; small, and shy, and indulgent, revelling in the blossoming warmth in his chest.

There was another letter in reply at lunch, this time sitting on Gladio's place setting at the table. He tucked it in his pocket, instead of opening it in front of his father, and Cor, who either were oblvious, or were very good at pretending to be oblivious, and Iris who spent the whole of lunch giving Gladio a meaningful look.

Iris caught up with him after lunch, as he made his way to his room. She was notably less subtle without their father watching. “What's your letter?” she asked, skipping slightly to keep up with his long stride.

“My letter would be none of your beeswax,” he replied.

Iris clasped her hands behind her back and walked with a teasing sway to her shoulders. “I know it's from Ignis,” she said, her chin tilted up. Gladio cast a sideways glance at her, but didn't reply. “He told me he's banned you from the kitchen.”

“You need to quit bothering him if he's busy,” Gladio said, his voice low and serious.

Iris nudged him with her elbow and grinned. “He said I'm okay. I'm not a distraction.” Gladio frowned down at her, willing her to stop. He would have protested that he didn't need to be a distraction either, but he also knew he'd be really bad at that. It wouldn't be the same if he couldn't hold Ignis while he worked, or brush close enough to him to feel his warmth. “It's also not my birthday menu he's putting together.” Iris looked up at Gladio and flashed him a smile. “He said if he doesn't work on it today, it'll be cup noodles for everyone.”

“That wouldn't be so bad,” Gladio defended. Cup Noodles for his birthday, and Ignis for his here and now. He'd be happy with that arrangement. Ignis wouldn't be though; he was too proud of his cooking for that, which was really kinda cute if mildly inconvenient.

“I told him you'd say that,” Iris replied, cheerily. “He's been working with a smile on his face all day, though.” Gladio looked at her, and Iris flashed him a glance in return. “You know how normally he looks all serious, like he's channelling Cor?” She did her best impression of the look, which involved a heavily downturned mouth and a look of concentration. “Well, he looks happy today. Since you're not allowed to bother him, I thought you'd want to know.”

Gladio looked at his little sister, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. “Thanks,” he said.

“He wouldn't say what was in the note,” she said, cheery and chirpy once more, and probing for information.

“Yeah?” Gladio asked, reaching his bedroom and opening the door. “Then neither will I.” He stepped beyond the threshold, and quickly pulled the door shut against his sister, grinning broadly as he did.

“I hope you're not corrupting him, Gladdy!” Iris called, from beyond the door.

Gladio counted to five before he walked further into his room. He pulled Ignis's note from his pocket as he did, and finally opened it.

If I allow you to bestow that many kisses I may not sleep, and that would run counter to your instructions. I may, however, allow you to render them in instalments.
Ignis
xxx
P.S. Another three for your collection, to be served at a later date, with associated accrued interest.


Gladio grinned at the note, extremely glad he hadn't opened this one at the table with his dad present. Or Cor. He didn't know what Cor would think of Gladio kissing Ignis until Ignis couldn't stand, but he doubted it would be heartfelt approval.

He tucked both of Ignis's notes into his current book, using them as his bookmark. His heart sang with the fact Ignis was flirting with him, via little love letters, whether Ignis knew it or not. It was going to be an uncomfortable wait until the evening.

At just gone nine that night there was a knock at Gladio's bedroom door. He'd been stretched across his bed, distractedly alternating between reading his book and checking the time, and hoping that Ignis hadn't grown too tired or too busy to come and see him after all. He all but bolted off the bed when he heard the knock, calling, “Yeah?” He hoped for Ignis, and not Cor to give him the lecture he knew was likely to come, or worse, his father, to give him the same lecture.

“Ignis, sir,” came Ignis's voice as Gladio reached the door and pulled it open.

Gladio looked him over and smiled. It was strange to realise he'd missed Ignis. Somehow the knowledge that he couldn't come to see him only made him want to see him all the more, and looking at him now was a pleasant catharsis. “Come in,” he said, standing aside.

Ignis looked sideways down the corridor, a frown on his face, “Sir, I--”

“You're moving in with me, with just me, soon; they'll talk anyway,” Gladio said. He'd thought this through during the day, when he'd had little else to do but await Ignis's visit. He'd tidied his room, and sat and thought about how it looked to others to see them together, and how nervous of that Ignis had been before because it might cause trouble, and how none of that mattered now because Ignis was going to be his, and all alone with him. If the other collars were going to talk then they already would be; word had already got out that Cor wanted Gladio's collar to have companion training, and word had already got out that Ignis was going to be Gladio's collar. Trying to refrain from giving the gossips ammunition now was locking a barn long, long after a horse had bolted.

Ignis frowned, and turned to look the other way down the corridor before he gave a nod and stepped into Gladio's room.

Gladio closed the door gently behind him, and then stroked his worried face, his thumb against Ignis's cheek. What he wanted to do was pin him up against the wall and cash the IOU on those kisses. Instead what he did was run his hand down Ignis's arm until he could take his hand, and brought it up to kiss the back. “See,” he said, “we're alone in my bedroom without rampant impropriety.”

Ignis flushed scarlet, staring at his hand in Gladio's with wide eyes. Gladio observed him, dipping his head to brush his lips against the back of Ignis's hand again, watching Ignis watch the movement of his mouth. Ignis seemed transfixed, and Gladio gently turned his hand over so he could press a kiss to Ignis's palm instead.

His hands were soft, Gladio realised. The skin on the back of his hands felt like warm silk, and his palm was warm and soft under his lips. He could feel, just at the edge of his cheek, where the pads of Ignis's palm lay, that the skin there was harder where the handles of knives rested as he worked, but the centre was satin soft and inviting. He pulled his lips away and replaced them with his thumb, guiding Ignis's hand up to his shoulder so he could ensnare him in a hug. “I missed you today,” he said, softly, “but I liked your notes.”

Ignis was still red from the attention to his hand, but he stepped into the hug, letting Gladio wind his arms around him and then tilt his head back to rest his chin on Ignis's head. “I missed you too,” he admitted, quietly.

“Iris said you were smiling all day,” Gladio said, with a teasing tone, “you sure you missed me?”

“I was smiling because of you, sir,” Ignis answered.

Gladio grinned at the candour, and then let Ignis go so he could take his hand and lead him over to the bed. He felt a slight tug of resistance in Ignis's hand as he did, and turned to give him a glance, and a reassuring smile. “Just come and sit with me?” he asked. “That's all.”

Ignis was still noticeably pink in the face, but he nodded, and Gladio led him to the bed. He kept hold of Ignis's hand as he sat down, turned to the side so that one leg rested on the floor, and the other lay crooked on the bed. Then he tugged Ignis slowly into the space between his legs, watching his face shading from pink to red again as he settled him down and then wrapped his arms around him.

“You okay?” Gladio asked, as he nestled Ignis's weight against himself and relaxed that way until he felt Ignis begin, by degrees, to relax as well.

“Yes sir,” Ignis answered, after a few moments, letting Gladio draw him in so that his back rested against Gladio's chest, and Gladio's arms folded around his waist. Tentatively he rested his hands on top of Gladio's.

“Good,” Gladio said. “I was busy. Dad keeps giving me stuff to read about the place I'm gonna be working.”

“It will be a lot of responsibility for you,” Ignis said, his voice quiet.

Gladio shifted his hold as he shrugged. “Not really,” he said, “it's not like I'll be in charge. I'll just be a pain in the ass of the auctionmaster for a while. The guy's named Weskham. He's a friend of dad's, so I'll have to be on my best behaviour.”

“You may have to do better than that,” Ignis quipped, his tone dry.

Gladio grinned into the side of Ignis's neck and rewarded his teasing with a tighter hug. “Look who's talking,” he replied, as Ignis squirmed a little as if he was being tickled. “You're getting comfortable, aren't you?”

Immediately he felt Ignis stiffen, his expression shifting from happy amusement to deep concern. “Is that a problem, sir?”

“No,” Gladio replied, stopping so he could look Ignis in the eyes. He brought one hand up and took Ignis's chin in his fingers so he could make him look at him while he repeated, firmly, “No, I like it.” Ignis stared at him for a moment, and then nodded quickly and swallowed. Gladio leaned in to press a kiss to Ignis's cheek, and then tightened his hold on him, giving a contented sigh. “I want you for you, Iggy. I want you happy, and comfortable, and giving me sass, okay?”

Ignis relaxed in his arms again, and Gladio nuzzled him, affectionately. Ignis smelled of the kitchens, of coffee, and baked cakes, and leftovers turned into something delicious for tomorrow. “Cor visited me again today,” he said, softly. Gladio lifted his head and listened. “He thinks I should take companion training.”

Gladio frowned. “I told him I don't want you to have that,” he growled.

“I,” Ignis began, and faltered, “told him I would take it if you wished it, sir.”

Gladio frowned, thinking back on what Cor had said, and on what his father had said. “If you want it, Ignis,” he said, quietly, tightening his hold on Ignis as he spoke, “I won't stop you, but I don't want you to take it for my sake. It has to be for yourself.” He released his hold again so he could twist, and look at Ignis properly. “I want you that way,” he admitted, softly, his gaze fixed on green eyes, “but I don't want you for that. It's not why I asked for you.” He reached up with the fingers of one hand to push Ignis's glasses back up for him. “I want who you are, not what you can do for me.”

Ignis held his gaze for a long time, and then he dropped his head, his cheeks and tips of his ears going pink again. “Thank you.”

“You don't have to thank me,” Gladio replied, pressing forward to plant a sweet kiss on Ignis's lips.

Ignis left that night still owing Gladio a number of kisses, and Gladio received another note the next morning with his breakfast.

Good morning.
Ignis
x


Gladio stashed that one with the others, and had a hard time suppressing his grin when he and Iris were drafted in to taste test recipes for the birthday cake. The main was, for now, top secret. Even that night, when Gladio managed to steal ten minutes from Ignis and claim his kiss from the morning, Ignis refused to reveal anything except to voice that he hoped Gladio would like it.

He packed Ignis off to his own bed when he yawned, with strict instructions to rest. The next morning, there was another note with his breakfast.

I dreamed of you. Please find enclosed a notation of the kisses I must return to you, from your invasion of my slumber.
Ignis
xxxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxxx


It took Gladio half the morning to reply, half giddy from the sweetness of the action, and mostly thrilled at the implications involved with Ignis dreaming of him. Dreaming of him, with that number of kisses.

Looks like I did a lot more than kiss you in your dream. I want the kisses back, and two kisses for anything else I did to you, to make it even.
Gladio
XXX
They're big ones, because they're going to last.


At dinner that night he received his reply.

I don't have paper big enough for all those kisses.
Ignis
xx


That night Gladio made good on his promise of the kisses to last, but Ignis still seemed tired, and he refused to give in to the temptation to keep him longer. His little stack of notes was safely secured in an envelope in the drawer of his bedside cabinet. He'd never throw them away, he knew. He was going to keep them, and remind himself occasionally of how amazingly sweet, and how much of a damn tease Ignis could be. He didn't even know if Ignis was teasing deliberately, if the mention of having dreamed of Gladio had been a deliberate, knowing response to Gladio having told Ignis he did want him that way, or if it was simply done in the spirit of admitting that interest was returned.

He was smitten. He'd been smitten anyway, but now he walked around with this knowledge that Ignis was probably every bit as fond of him as he was of Ignis, and the proof of it rested in his drawer.

They passed notes back and forth as the days wore on, and at the end of the day an increasingly weary Ignis would come to his room and curl up with him on the bed to share the tale of Gladio's day, and taunt with the promise of birthday preparations that were to remain a surprise.

The night before Gladio's birthday Ignis rested his head against Gladio's shoulder, his hand resting in Gladio's own, quiet, and relaxed. It took Gladio a few minutes to realise Ignis wasn't simply quietly resting but had actually fallen asleep. His eyes were closed and his breathing had become slow and even.

Gladio bit his lip, not wanting to wake Ignis up, and yet knowing he must be thoroughly spent to have fallen asleep on him. He compromised, deciding to give Ignis an hour, and settled back, shifting himself and Ignis slowly so that he could lie back on the bed himself. Ignis was warm in his arms, a welcome weight against him as he closed his own eyes.

When they moved, in just a few weeks time, this was how Gladio wanted to spend his nights, he decided. Sure, he wanted to precede them by pinning Ignis into the bed and smothering him in all those kisses he'd been dreaming about, and making Ignis grasp at his back, and his hair, and cry out his name, but he wanted to spend the actual night like this. With Ignis resting against him, the sound of his breath in Gladio's ears, and the weight of his head on his shoulder.

Gladio opened his eyes again and checked the clock to find their hour had become two. He considered, for a little while, leaving Ignis to just spend the rest of his night like this. Unfortunately, it probably wouldn't be good for Ignis, and neither of them was dressed for sleep.

He woke Ignis with a kiss to his forehead. The murmur he got tugged at his heart. “It's time you went to bed, sleepyhead,” he said, fondly.

Ignis opened his eyes, and then closed them again and groaned, moving to sit up. Realisation dawned sharply, and he sat up quicker, going pink again as he said, “My apologies, sir.”

Gladio only grinned at him. “It was cute,” he said, “but you really should go to bed.”

Ignis nodded, and rolled his shoulder. As he sat up, he looked at the clock. “Is that the time?”

“Yep,” Gladio agreed, sitting up himself and stretching. He saw the stricken look on Ignis's face, and grinned brightly at him. “It was really cute,” he said, as explanation for why he hadn't woken Ignis earlier.

“It's past midnight,” Ignis said, faintly.

Gladio felt a pang of guilt at Ignis's tone. “Sorry,” he said. He really should have stuck to just an hour. He should have stayed awake himself.

Ignis looked at him, and then looked down. A small, shy smile crept across his face as he said, “Happy birthday, master.”

Gladio looked up at the clock, and then back at Ignis. He leaned forward, tucking his fingers under Ignis's chin and turning his head to look at him. “Happy birthday to me,” he said, with a smirk, before he pressed forward and took a kiss from Ignis.

At breakfast there was another note from Ignis, this one a simple 'happy birthday' that Gladio tucked safely away with all the others. His morning was largely his own, and he spent it with Iris, opening presents and dreading the cavalcade of family members that would descend on them later.

At lunch he saw Ignis's handiwork in what they were served. It was noodles, but fresh, served in a glass jar with hot water, and looking for all the world as if Ignis had taken the time to recreate cup noodles from fresh ingredients. There was even a packet of flavouring. Gladio grinned the whole way through lunch, and he didn't care one jot that Cor kept looking at him from across the room, looking like he was assessing his reactions.

The guests for the evening arrived in the lull before dinner, and Gladio found his time slipped away from him as he was taken from one relative to the next. Some of them he hadn't seen in years, but they'd arrived nonetheless, most of them with companions in tow, in a rainbow of colours that Gladio wasn't really used to seeing.

Friends arrived too. Gladio managed to spend a whole half hour with Noctis before he was whisked away to greet another distant aunt he didn't recall, and who may not actually have been his aunt, leaving Noct in Iris's company. When it came time to eat, there was no cute little note awaiting Gladio this time, but once the food arrived it became clear why. Ignis wouldn't have had the time to be writing notes.

Their first course was seared scallops with shrimp. Gladio had never had scallops before, but he trusted Ignis's palate and found his trust wasn't misplaced. The shrimp, he felt, was probably a nod from Ignis towards Gladio's love of noodles, and there was a citrus tang to the sauce that suited it well.

The next course was described as surf and turf, which sounded a bit plain for the tone Ignis was setting even if it was one of Gladio's favourites, until he saw what came out. Gladio had to take a moment to just look at his plate, wondering if Ignis had personally overseen every single one, and knowing that Ignis would have made sure to put Gladio's together himself. Filet mignon, done to perfection, with large battered prawns, and a dark sauce that tasted a lot like a very good wine, and just a little bit of green vegetables. Every bit, Gladio knew, had been done from scratch. This was Ignis pushing the boat out, this could even be described as Ignis showing off.

Ignis was definitely showing off with the dessert, Gladio decided. He wasn't much of a cook himself, but he didn't have to be to know a soufflé was a tricky dish. He remembered Jared complaining about them once when he was young. He couldn't help but grin as the perfectly risen dessert was put in front of him, knowing that Ignis was probably taking a well earned five minutes now. No wonder he'd been exhausted the last few days with all this being planned. Ignis was probably glad the party wasn't larger. It was bigger than the usual three of them plus Cor, but at least they were only catering for thirty people and not three hundred, or Ignis would have killed himself.

There was cake still to go, of course, but that at least would have been finished yesterday, and probably decorated this morning. Gladio wished he'd thought to bring some paper and an envelope with him so he could send Ignis a note telling him he was amazing. Unfortunately, he hadn't expected to suffer such a pressing need to tell him that right here and now.

The cake was brought in an hour later, and Gladio almost felt bad that he had to run a knife through Ignis's handiwork. They got through most of it before relatives finally started to leave. Gladio finally got down to the kitchens, wanting to catch Ignis in a hug and tell him he was brilliant, only to be informed by Talcott that Ignis had gone to bed.

He had, however, left Gladio another note.

I hope you enjoyed your day, my master. I had hoped to see you before retiring, but I fear I would be poor company right now, and you instructed me to refuse you if being with you would involve cutting my rest short. I am lifting the embargo on your presence in the kitchen, so you are free to come and see me at your convenience tomorrow.
I hope to dream of you tonight.
Ignis
X


Gladio tucked that note away with the others, and every note that followed over the next few weeks as he packed, and prepared for the move to Insomnia. As the day approached, there was less time free for him to spend with Ignis, and passing notes back and forth at meals, or using Talcott to ferry messages became normal for a while.

Gladio attended his first collar auction with Cor by his side as they purchased a replacement chef. It was the first time Gladio had ever seen the plush décor, and ritualistic rigmarole of an auctionhouse in action, and it was at once distressing and intriguing to watch a handful of young housecollars, no older than twelve or thirteen, be auctioned off in pairs. One of the girls wore glasses just like Ignis's, and Gladio resolved to get him fitted with a new pair once they'd moved.

The chef they bought was a little older, and a little more expensive. He'd already been trained, but, Cor insisted, would need to spend as much time as possible under Iggy's wing before Ignis left. As much time as possible was not every day, though. After Gladio's birthday, Cor had gone to Ignis with a list of short courses he might take. Ignis, in the painfully brief hour they managed to spend together in the evenings now, had told Gladio about it, and that he was considering some of them, and Gladio had told him to take whatever he felt he might want. He could always take others once they'd moved, if he found he wanted them then.

It had meant Ignis leaving the estate, escorted by Gladio once, and by Iris more than that because Gladio himself wasn't easily spared right now. He returned in the late evening, and talked happily to Gladio of the place he'd been, and the collars he'd met. There were companions on the courses, most of them young, Ignis's age or younger, but one or two were in their twenties. The older ones were less colourful, like himself, probably not bred to be companions, though they may have been bred to be bodyguards. Ignis was, he was sure, the only housecollar in attendance.

When he wasn't training the new chef, and wasn't away at a course, Ignis's day was taken up working with Cor. Cor himself was training Ignis in household management, using the estate Ignis may one day have to manage himself to do it.

They snatched an hour together on their last night on the estate, Ignis helping Gladio to pack his last box of possessions, room already bare but for the essentials Gladio couldn't be without until the last minute. Most of their boxes had been taken already, and awaited them in Insomnia. Ignis refrained from pointing out that his items had not been send because he owned so little anyway; he had his own small box to pack tonight. Gladio had visited their new apartment, and told him about it. “It's high up, so you can see across all of Insomnia,” he said. “It's a great view. Bet it looks like stars below us at night.”

They parted that night with a sweet kiss, and for the first time in weeks there was no note with Gladio's breakfast. His bacon wasn't done quite right, and his toast was underdone, and Gladio knew the new chef was going to have a long way to go to be on Ignis's level.

After lunch, which also hadn't been up to Ignis's standard, his dad and Iris came with him to the car. Cor was already there, talking to Ignis, who was wearing his coat, his head bowed and his hands clasped behind his back. “Take care of him,” Gladio's dad said, taking Gladio into a brief embrace, “and he will take care of you.”

“I will,” Gladio promised, returning the hug from his dad for a moment.

“You'd better send me cookies every week,” Iris said, taking their father's place as she tightened her arms around Gladio's waist, which was as high as was practical for her.

Gladio grinned and rested his hand on the top of her head, ruffling her hair with a grin. “Yeah, yeah, if Iggy and I don't eat them all first,” he teased. “You'd better come visit. I've got a spare room.”

Iris pulled away and ran her fingers through her hair to tidy it back up. “Damn right I'm gonna visit.”

Gladio made his way to the car, then, and was given a nod by Cor. “If you have any concerns, young master, do not hesitate to contact us,” he said, and held out a coiled leather strap. Gladio frowned at it, knowing what it was, and he took it and shoved it into his pocket. “You must use it if you take him outside,” Cor intoned.

“Until I find an alternative,” Gladio grumbled. “He doesn't need to wear it now.”

Cor bowed his head, and stepped aside to open the door to the back seat. The chauffeur was already seated in the front, waiting for them. It was going to be a long drive. “Take care, Ignis,” Cor said, as Ignis went around to the other side of the car and opened his own door.

Ignis gave him the collar's nod, before he turned his attentions to Clarus, and Iris, and afforded them the same. Iris waved at him cheerfully. “Bye!” she called.

She continued to wave as Gladio got in the car, and Cor shut the door after him, and as the car set off, and was still waving when she finally slipped out of sight. Ignis turned back in his seat, settling in for the ride, sitting primly with his hands on his knees.

“Hey,” Gladio said, reaching his hand out, resting palm up on the seat between them. “You ready?”

Ignis looked down at the hand offered to him, and then up at Gladio. He gave a small, single nod, a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth as he placed his hand on top of Gladio's, and Gladio curled his fingers around it.

They watched the scenery go by in a comfortable silence, Ignis watching trees shoot past and give way to buildings as they passed through a town, and then into more countryside, and then into another town that slowly grew in size and scale until it became the city of Insomnia.

Gladio left the car when they parked without waiting for the chauffeur to get out and let him out, and he darted around to open Ignis's door for him before he could do it himself. The car park smelled of engines and ozone, that smell that tickled Gladio's nose and made him think of the inner city. It had been his first experience of it, and he honestly preferred the countryside he was used to. He didn't bother to clip Ignis's wretched leash to his collar; they were inside after all, technically anyway.

“Come on,” he said, once they'd retrieved their boxes from the car, and thanked the driver. “It's this way.” Excitement was rising up in his spine as he led Ignis to the lift that took them up. While the car park smelled of ozone and engines, the lift was bedecked in black and gold, and smelled of nothing very much. It spat them out after a minute where the world moved around them, giving Gladio the unmistakeable and uncomfortable feeling of ascending even though his feet were firmly on the floor. The vestibule was more black and gold, and led to a door, which Gladio unlocked, and pushed open.

“Welcome home,” he said, letting Ignis go ahead of him and watching Ignis as he looked around at his new surroundings. The door led to a short corridor, which led to a living area on the right, and a kitchen on the left. A lot of the furniture was in place, but there were boxes everywhere to be unpacked, some large, and some small. In the living area a good stack of smaller boxes sat near an empty bookcase, and probably represented half a day's unpacking on their own. “What do you think?” he asked.

Ignis looked around again, and then said, “We have a lot of work to do, sir.”

Gladio grinned at him. “Tomorrow,” he said, putting his box down near the door and taking Ignis's, much lighter, box from him and doing the same. “Give me your coat.”

Ignis unfastened the buttons on his coat, and allowed Gladio to take it, and hang it on a hook near the door. Then Gladio took Ignis's hand. “I'll give you the tour,” he said, leading Ignis past the living area and towards the kitchen. The door gave it some privacy, and while there wasn't a table, the counter was large, and had seats. “If you want anything else in here,” he said, letting Ignis free for a few minutes to brush his fingers over the work surfaces, the beautifully crafted set of knives, and search the cupboards for his pans and pots and trays, and all the associated sundry he'd requested when asked, “just ask.”

“It's already more than I require,” Ignis said, his voice soft.

Gladio shrugged one shoulder. “I wanna give you what you deserve, but not even we have enough money for that,” he said, flashing Ignis a smile. Ignis dipped his head and went pink. “Come on,” Gladio said, reaching for his hand again, “I'll show you our room.”

“Our?” Ignis asked, looking up at Gladio.

Gladio felt his throat tighten. “Yeah,” he said, hesitating, “I mean, only if you want, but--”

Ignis bowed his head again, looking self conscious before he nodded into his chest. “I do, sir.”

Gladio felt a weight he hadn't been aware of lift in his chest, and he sighed, and nodded. “Good,” he said, and led Ignis there by the hand.

It was a king size double bed, Gladio knew, but it hadn't been in yet when he'd last seen the apartment, and it looked wonderfully large. He grinned as Ignis poked his nose into the storage space, the wardrobe that was hidden behind a sliding partition in the wall, and found the en suite shower.

There were two other bedrooms, one of them a guest room, smaller, with just a double bed and a slim wardrobe, and the other clearly intended for either an infant, or a collar. “I think I can keep my work out stuff here,” Gladio said, as Ignis peered into a room as small as the one he was used to, though at least it had a better window.

The evening was darkening the sky already, and Gladio took Ignis by the hand to lead him back to the living area. The windows were huge, extending from floor to ceiling, and a glass door in them opened out onto a balcony. Lights began to light up Insomnia below them, dusting it in stars, and Gladio took Ignis by the hand and led him out onto the balcony to look.

The April evening still held a chill, and Gladio wrapped Ignis in his arms to keep him warm. “Do you like it?” he asked, coiling his arms tight around Ignis.

“Yes,” Ignis answered, looking up at the sky. “The light pollution doesn't do much for the view of the stars, though.”

Gladio murmured his unhappy agreement with this. “Not much I can do about that.”

Ignis was still for a moment, and then he twisted in Gladio's arms, turning to face him. “I don't need you to, sir. I'm here with you, that's enough.”

Gladio smiled down at him, and for a moment that lasted too long just looked at him. It would have been a good time to kiss him, he knew, but there would be plenty of good times to do that, and plenty of perfect ones to seize as they arose. “We should eat,” he said, and added, “I'll get us a take away,” before Ignis could ask the question already coming to his lips.

It changed to, “You don't want me to cook?”

Gladio shook his head. “Not tonight. First night in a new place, you get food delivered. It's tradition.” He grinned brightly at Ignis.

Ignis just bowed his head, and smiled. “As you wish, sir.”

Ignis put their clothes away, and busied himself making the bed while their dinner arrived. They ate out of the cartons, and by the time they were done, night had drawn across the sky, painting it black and blue, with the moon riding high across the city.

Ignis insisted on cleaning up after dinner, and Gladio went to change for bed. Normally, he didn't wear anything, but he knew that asking Ignis to share the bed with him while he was naked was probably too much, too fast. He'd tended to wear pyjama bottoms on the estate, when he wasn't ready for getting into bed yet, so he just had to hope he'd be okay wearing those, and that he wouldn't overheat.

Nerves gripped at Gladio as much as he imagined they did Ignis, and he went to fetch Ignis, pulling him away from his kitchen even as Ignis went pink and tried to avoid looking at him. He led Ignis to the bedroom with his hand at his back, and let Ignis dart off into the attached bathroom to change and do his teeth.

Gladio, rather diplomatically, settled himself in the bed and opened his book. It was hard to concentrate on what he was reading, however, hearing the water run as Ignis brushed his teeth, and washed his hands. Ignis returned wearing grey, worn pyjamas, and hesitated visibly before he removed his glasses and folded them, putting them on the night stand.

“You don't have to if you don't want to,” Gladio said, quietly. “You can have the other room if you want it.”

Ignis hesitated a moment longer, and then slowly slipped under the covers. “I want to,” he said, softly, “I've just never done anything like this before.” His cheeks were pink, and his eyes downcast, following the line of the folds in the bed covers.

Gladio sat up, closing his book which he hadn't managed to get more than a page further into anyway, and peeled Ignis's hand away from his lap and into his own hand. “Neither have I,” he told him, quietly. He'd had girlfriends, sure, and he wasn't exactly inexperienced there, but moving in with someone, sharing a bed with them for actually sleeping? Those were new to him, too. “We won't do anything you're not ready for.”

Ignis bit his lip, and looked at him. He gave a slightly awkward nod, and a wavering smile before he said, very quietly, “I think I want more than I'm ready for.”

Gladio squeezed his hand, and gave a light shrug. “Yeah, that's normal.” He remembered when he was a teenager. He hadn't even made it to Ignis's age before he'd crossed that particular bridge, and while he didn't regret it, it hadn't exactly been an experience to be proud of. He grinned awkwardly at the memory. “I wanna take it slow,” he said, “we're not gonna do anything just yet.”

Ignis bowed his head, and then looked up again, giving Gladio a shy glance. “There is something we could do, sir.”

Gladio tilted his head, giving Ignis an encouraging smile. “Yeah?”

He saw Ignis take a breath, and then turn towards him, placing a hand to his shoulder as he leaned in. A happy thrill travelled through Gladio's spine, and he closed his eyes and let Ignis be the one to take control. Ignis's lips pressed against his, and Gladio would have been content to leave it at that if Ignis had wanted, but then Ignis's tongue dared to touch at his lips too, and Gladio relaxed and let him.

It was sweet, and gentle, and when Ignis pulled back he looked shy and flushed red. “Was that?” he began, uncertainly.

Gladio shifted, resting his hand against Ignis's cheek and silencing him. “Perfect,” he said, taking in every bit of Ignis's face, from the flush in his cheeks to the uncertainty in his eyes, and the press of his lips. “You're perfect.” He leaned in then, and took a kiss for himself, and slowly curled his hand around Ignis's hair to tug him, ever so gently, back down to the bed on top of himself.

Ignis pulled back after a moment, looking down at Gladio and resting his weight on his arms either side of him. He gave a shy smile, and then bent down to kiss Gladio again.

Date: 2017-03-16 02:37 pm (UTC)
azi: Keep Calm and Appeal to a Supervisor. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azi
Awwwwwwwww....

They're adorable. Get Ignis some new glasses, you dork. And new clothes and everything else. Just ... to be nice.

Date: 2017-03-16 03:21 pm (UTC)
azi: Keep Calm and Appeal to a Supervisor. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azi
Good. The leash will be the main thing, but also the glasses.

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