Prompto’s in on a surprise party for Ignis, and he’s been tasked with being the distraction. It’s harder than he thought, but he won’t let the guys down!
(Forgive the Promnis vibes, I’m trash for them.)
Words: 3073 words (10-25 minutes) | Chocobros
This was it, the big day for their surprise party for Specs… Prompto was in charge of being a distraction, probably the hardest job of the whole thing. He tried telling the others that, but they swore up and down that he could do it, no problem. Riding in the passenger seat next to Iggy like usual, Prompto figured out that was probably because they didn’t wanna do it. Not ‘cause hanging with Iggy was bad or anything, but keeping him distracted when he was designed for laser-like focus was gonna be the hardest thing he’s ever done in his life.
He convinced Ignis to take him along to the Crown City mall half by saying he wanted to check out some places and half by saying he should learn what Ignis does for Noct, so he could be a backup if he needs it. And that only worked by stocking up Iggy points with little favors to make his job easier. Y’know, to prove he could be a good backup!
Which was kinda part of his day-to-day anyway. Iggy worked so hard doing stuff for them all the time, and Gladio and Noct didn’t really do that whole ‘helping with dinner’ thing. But hey, that’s what made it such a good cover story!
“We’ve arrived,” Ignis announced and the doors automatically locked once he put the car in park. The morning sun gave a little extra warmth to the winter air, but he couldn’t complain about the cold when it meant Ignis broke out his sharp, double-breasted wool peacoat. All his friends were supermodels, but he had to give it to Ig, he looked extra good dressed for cold weather. Like the Six knew it when they set his birthday in stone.
“Gotcha,” Prompto answered, springing out of the car with his camera around his neck. Just in case! Never know when you’ll see a shot you just got to take, and it was a great reason to draw out their trip if he had to. Ignis always stopped to wait when Prompto wanted to take pictures, and he was pretty patient about it too.
And really, Prompto was banking on that. They still had to decorate, put the gifts together, make a cake… And they hadn’t even started wrapping yet. Leaving all that to Noct and the big guy felt like a recipe for disaster, but all he could do now was his part. Going at a light jog to keep up with Iggy’s longer, purposeful stride, Prompto followed him into the Crown City mall.
“So! What’s our first stop?” There wasn’t much of a crowd, since it was mid-week. No luck there. Just made Prompto think about how he wished there was more color in their uniform.
“We’ll be visiting just the one shop: a specialty dining store,” Ignis answered and led the way. “There are certain cooking instruments designed for the road that will prove essential on our journey.”
“Hey, Iggy!” Prompto raced ahead of him, eager to get started ‘cause this was gonna eat up hours. …Okay, maybe one hour. For his first distraction, Prompto picked up a cup-like thing with a little curve for pouring, some weird plunger thing, and measuring lines on the side. Turning around with a bounce in his step, he showed the tool to Ignis. “What’s this gadget do?”
“Hm?” Ignis strode over to the table Prompto picked out. Even here, he did the driving and pushed the cart along too. There was a lotta stuff here he didn’t recognize, so Prompto had plenty of ammo to keep his attention. “Ah, that is a milk frother, primarily used for lattes and other such beverages where foam is a key part of the experience.”
“Right, right. Y’know, I’ve never had a latte.” He put the frother down by the others, twisting it so it’d match its family of frothers before he took off after Ignis. “Think you could use it in hot chocolate?”
“You certainly can. I’ll show you sometime.” Ignis had a hint of a smile as he wound artfully through the rows and rows of cooking stuff that was either high-end normal stuff or specialty stuff.
“That’d be real sweet of you,” Prompto shot back a pun, giggling while he followed after Ignis.
Maybe if he wasn’t so caught up looking at grills, Iggy might’ve given as good as he got. Probably better, he did a lot more reading than Prom and that gave him more material to work with. Comparing little portable grills to each other with wordless hums and silent notetaking on his phone, Prompto was pretty sure he could do a dance and get nothing from the royal advisor. Or just a quick glance, anyway.
“Hey, uh, Igster,” Prompto ventured an interruption when he looked just about done. “Isn’t this thing just a slab of salt?” He held up a swirled dark and light pink rectangle about two or three inches thick labelled with just ‘mineral salt block’ on the side.
“It is far more than that.” Ignis finished up a note on his phone, picking up a boxed version of the grill he settled on and putting it in the cart. “That is for grilling or stovetop cooking for the right stove, and it imparts a lightly salty flavor with the various health benefits of its mineral composition to—” Ignis sighed, picking up on the overwhelmed look on Prompto’s face. Probably. “It’s good for the food and for those who eat it.”
“Ah, gotcha. So Noct’d hate it, huh? Too healthy.” He put the block down, smiling at Ignis’ laugh.
“It doesn’t feature the same textural concerns Noct has with beans, but… I suspect you may be correct.”
Of course Prom got a text right then, and he hoped it was Gladio or Noct saying everything was fine and ready to go. Pulling his phone out of his pocket with only a little extra flair, he brought up the message from Noctis.
Need more time.
Only one way to answer that. Tossing in an exasperated emoji, he sent back just what he thought of that.
And the picture he got from Noct was so depressing, it was truly a loss for mankind. What was once gold cake was a bit more brown-and-black-ish, and big chunks of it were still stuck on the pan while the rest was somewhere off-frame. Uh, he hoped.
smh how much time u need
A few seconds turned to a minute and Prompto kept checking his screen every few minutes before Ignis finally spoke up.
“Prompto, do pay attention,” he advised.
“Right, gotcha.” He pocketed his phone for the last time. Maybe. Still, left on read by Noct! If it wasn’t for Iggy’s birthday, he’d be in for a parade of emojis until Prompto got an answer. Or maybe not, but it sounded kinda fun to do. Trotting to catch up to Ignis again, he started up conversation. “So, you do all this by yourself?”
“Typically, yes,” he answered, though he sounded pleased rather than put out. Even looked the part smirking like that when he pushed up his glasses. “Gladio has little patience for it and Noctis has other responsibilities. It’s only natural this should be entrusted to me.”
“Yeah, but on your birthday?” Oops. He was so not supposed to say that, and Prompto’s stilted laugh when he figured out his slip-up didn’t do anything to throw Ignis off his scent. He even stopped to look at Prompto, examining him for answers. Or maybe it just felt like that and Prompto was worrying too much! He just to chill like Noct said to. Yeah, just… chill.
“I didn’t realize you knew.”
“Yeah, well, y’know.” Crap, he was very un-chill right now. Prompto shrugged, eyeing the shelves next to him for a way out of this conversation. “Noct brought it up, and I guess it stuck.” Gotta find a distraction and quick. It’d just buy time, Iggy’d never forget a slip-up like that, but time was all he needed. Prompto snatched up a waffle iron at the end of a really long stick from a display by the camping stuff. “Oh em gee, check this out! Waffles at camp, can you imagine?”
“If you’re willing to make them one at a time,” he teased with that slight smile, turning back to push the cart ahead. That’s right, Iggy, focus on the to-do list and forget that little blunder from Prompto.
“Aw, I’d never keep up with the big guy,” he mourned, dejectedly returning the specialty cookware to its box and catching up to the birthday guy again.
After gathering the rest of their supplies in preparation for the coming trip in the warmer weather, Ignis checked off the final item in his phone.
“And that concludes our shopping for the time being.” The cart was expertly packed just so everything fit in and was even sorted for putting on the belt in an orderly fashion at checkout. Seriously, Ignis’ brain should be melting from all the stuff he thought ahead on. But Prompto was keeping up with him for now, anyway—maybe he really could be halfway-decent at this back-up thing.
“Really? You do a ton, but you really make it look easy. And that’s not just flattery to distract you, I mean it!” Dammit, he was getting bad at this. Thankfully, Ignis pretended not to notice it. Probably. He doubted he really didn’t realize. Ignis, miss something? Next, it’d rain ice cream!
“I should thank you.” With the last item rung through checkout (Prompto didn’t even dare to look at the total), it was as good a time as any, but so weird. Yeah, Prompto got it, he’d do the same if he were Iggy, but… He laughed, shrugging it off. Like always, Ignis kept going undaunted. “As much as I don’t anticipate I’ll need a substitute for my duty to Noctis, it never hurts to be prepared.”
“Hey, uh. No problem! Least I can do, really.” Prompto was spared being even more awkward somehow when Ignis gave his attention to checkout. Plus, it got him a second to text Noct without spectacles maybe seeing what he was up to if he didn’t figure it out yet.
Prompto let out a groan, slumping in defeat. The shopping trip was over, Noct! What now?
“Stocking the cart might go more smoothly if your hands were free.” Uh oh, that was the informative warning tone. Ignis was audio-coded to hint at what he was thinking and Prompto was getting a code yellow.
“Uh, right.” Putting his phone away, he helped moved the grill and cooking stuff he didn’t exactly recognize into the cart. They were almost done and Prompto blurted out his only idea before he had a chance to think about it enough to stop. “Actually, wanna go someplace cool after this?”
“Y’know, ‘cause it’s your birthday! There’s guys who can take this stuff back to the castle, yeah?” He really hoped Ignis would buy this. He couldn’t be the one who screwed up and ruined the surprise, the guys were counting on him! “Isn’t there a place you’ve always wanted to check out, but never got to?”
“Not especially,” Ignis answered after a brief pause. That mildly wide-eyed look was way too caught off guard… Could it be Iggy never thought about stuff he wanted to do before? Seriously? Prompto wanted to not believe it, but with all the stuff he’s always doing for everyone else under the sun, it’s, y’know… Possible. If not super likely.
“Then I’ll show you around. C’mon, it’s just one day, not even. Two hours.” Ignis pulled the cart to the side and out of the way, which wasn’t a yes but it wasn’t a no yet either. He could still get away with this! Prompto flashed the smile that usually worked on Noct, tossing in an eager bounce to cover his bases. “Birthday trip? Birthday trip!”
“There’s snow outside, Prompto.” This answer was just a little bit weaker, not reinforced with the typical Ignis brand crisp certainty that came with every sentence. And what kinda sharpshooter would he be if he didn’t take this opening?
“So? We’ve got boots.” Prompto bent his knee and held one foot up like he needed to demonstrate. Paired with the grin, he could tell—he was winning this round.
“I have to return to the castle for dinner preparation.” Ignis’ gaze darted to the shop windows and the city guard posted outside. The ones that could take all this back to the castle for them and buy the guys some time before Iggy came back.
“How’s this—you go on the birthday trip you so deserve, let me take a couple cool shoots to remember it by, and I’ll help make dinner.” He offered his hand to Ignis, leaning into his field of vision to get his attention. “Deal?”
With a sigh and a signal the guards outside, Ignis gave in. “Very well.”
“Woohoo! You’re not gonna regret it.”
After their side trip, they had to get someone to give them a ride and man, was it weird to have Ignis riding in the back seat of a car next to Prompto in calm quiet. Not a bad, awkward quiet—he was so used to those—but chill. He was usually in front too so Gladio could get the extra leg room, so at least being next to Iggy was just like always. Prompto dug out his phone again, sending one last warning text. They’d gotten another hour or hour and a half outta this, he hoped they figured it out.
omw 4 real
“When you said cool pictures, I hadn’t thought you meant literally on the ice.” Ignis only just glanced his way, his face still slightly red from spending time in the cold February air.
“Hey, that pond is a prime photo op!” He slipped his phone into his pocket, swapping it out for his camera. “Check it out,” he offered, bringing up a photo of Ignis in the light, warm glow of the late afternoon winter sun glittering off the ice, a faint plume of his breath in front of him and a delicate blush to his cheeks. Say what you want about the royal advisor, but it’d better be a compliment—he was gorgeous. “My best one yet.”
“Oh, so you collect them?”
“Ah, well, y’see, I—” Shoot. The car was slowing down and he caught a peek of the castle entrance. Thank the Six! “I take pictures of all you guys, yeah? Hey, look, we’re here!” Shuffling out his side, half-stumbling out, Prompto fled to safety. Almost over, this was the home stretch!
“They keep falling!”
“And whose fault is that?” Familiar voices reached Ignis and Prompto as they worked their way back to one of the smaller, casual family dining rooms in the castle.
“The tape.” Ah, classic Noct. Ignis turned to Prompto with a questioning brow and he just smiled back, nodding him to go first. Nothing left to hide now! Ignis pulled the door open and stepped into the room, which… kinda looked like elementary schoolers decorated it, but hey. Not everyone was a perfect party coordinator like Iggy.
“Gladio? Noctis.” Was that disbelief or patient warnings at the sight of lopsided streamers hanging all the way over to Noctis, who stood on a chair taping the last corner up. For the millionth time, from the sounds of it. Mostly decently wrapped presents sat on one end of the elegant dining table and at the other were three whole separate two-layer cakes and enough fancy takeout for a family of six. “What is…?”
“Happy birthday, Specs,” Noctis said, smiling as he stepped down from the chair and came over with Gladio.
“Didn’t think we forgot, did you?” Gladio clapped his hand on Ignis’ shoulder, his too-perfect smile coming as naturally as ever. Maybe a little more, even.
“I… Suppose this was what the escapades were all about,” he remarked, glancing back at Prompto.
“Whoa, three cakes?!” Gotta change that subject, Ignis, they didn’t know about any escapades! It was just supposed to be errands. But it was their fault he had to draw it out, wasn’t it? Chill, Prompto—chill. “All this food… I’m just gonna have to run more tomorrow.”
“After running around all day today too,” Gladio joked, thankfully getting the hint. Probably.
“What’s this about escapades?” Noct was not so merciful, and that is why Gladio got all the ladies, Prompto thought to himself. Okay, yeah, it was always great to see him smile, just—not at Prompto’s expense!
“Hey, you guys told me to keep him busy!”
“And you did very well. I haven’t been ice skating since Noctis was a boy and that pond was rather scenic.” Ignis to the rescue even on his birthday, what a saint. He did fall into a thoughtful silence, looking like he was trying to find life’s answers in the present pile. “Though I had figured you out by then, of course. I am curious why you kept me preoccupied for so much longer than necessary.”
“Gladio wrecked the cake.”
“Okay, Princess,” he dismissed. “Told you to set the timer.”
“And I told you I was busy.”
“Never heard you.”
“Getting old already,” Noctis said like he was in mourning, giving as good as he got and ducking out of a headlock from Gladio by just a hair. He’d better be faster than Gladio after all that childhood of training with him.
“Regardless of the kitchen mishaps I’ll contend with later,” Ignis got their attention back. “Thank you. I admit, I am at a loss for what else I might say.”
“No big deal,” Noctis answered, obviously proud of himself. “You could start by having dinner. I’m dying to try these skewers,” he suggested, leading the way to the meal.
“Speaking of that, I do believe Prompto owes me a standing offer to help with dinner.” Ignis picked up his own plate and shot Prompto a smile. “An awfully easy suggestion when you know there’s takeout on the table, hm?”
“You don’t have to resort to birthday blackmail, dude. I got your back,” Prompto promised. And snagged a plate of his own, he had to get to this food before the big guy got it all. “Still, though. Uh, happy birthday, Ignis.”