Misfits

BY : Shortsnout
Category: Final Fantasy Games > Final Fantasy XV
Dragon prints: 48
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy XV nor am I making any money from this Fanfiction

Ignis waited, knuckles still on Prince Noctis's door from his cursory, polite knock, his spare hand clutching his phone so hard he could hear the tiny protest of plastic flexing underhand.

How had this happened?

'Gladio...hurry,' he whispered.

***

Monochromatic. Monotonous. Two words that Ignis had been familiar with. That was his world, he lacked passion, excitement, emotional ties. He was told time and time again that he was wasted where he was. He was going to go far in life, intelligent enough to be accepted by Lucian tutors.

He had nothing to lose, no ties to his family, hoping the better career aspects for the future might give him the freedom to search for what he was so desperately missing from his life. You needed money to go places, you needed respect to make people listen.

His Uncle took him in, which was unsurprising, another factor Ignis had foreseen. He did what was expected of him, achieving high grades, listening to his Uncle explain the complexities of the court, offering his own insight when requested.

Ignis was a spectre, a shadow without substance or thought. He had no friends, so no reason for them either. He fell into the role of outcast, unbelonging. A misfit.

He knew that was his place in life, accepted it, and as he grew older, accepted the fact that life was formulaic, his footsteps upon of the path of life already preordained and selected for him.

Knowing his Uncle, the service he tendered to the royal family, it wasn't unpredicted when Ignis had been introduced as a potential candidate for a role in the Citadel.

Then the unexpected had happened.

It wasn't out of the realms of possibility that he would actually meet the royal family. He listened to King Regis speak, committing the words to memory, to heart, the wisdom sound and just.

Then he had met Noctis.

Noctis smiled.

Ignis's world had illuminated.

He was disarmed, enchanted, holding out his hand without thinking to shake with his future charge. Noctis hadn't clasped it with his own and shaken it as he would have been taught, he caught Ignis's hand in his own two small ones, beaming at Ignis.

That was the problem with emotions. You couldn't explain why they happened, or what it was about Noctis that drew Ignis to him so. It just was. He'd found what he'd been searching for, a purpose, and he knew without question that he belonged to Noctis. Whatever Noctis needed him to be, Ignis would be, friend, advisor, brother, parent figure.

Finally, with a purpose in hand, Ignis thrived, pushing himself to do better, learn more, to take on as much reasonability as possible to assist. His tutors praised him, his Uncle praised him, the council members and even the King all looked fondly upon him.

It was Noctis he wanted to recognise him though.

Despite all his learning, Noctis continued to confound him. Surly and temperamental one moment, lazy and spoiled the next. He could be considerate, thoughtful, confident and then uncertain, trying to hide his nerves. He came from a family of strong Alphas, Noctis's behaviour should have been the textbook Alpha.

But he wasn't.

It led to sleepless nights, fear that would rob the breath from Ignis, that he wasn't the man for the job, that he would be sent away. He reassured himself that once Noctis presented the boy would grow into his role being thrust upon him and Ignis would be better equipped to deal with it.

It was at times like this Ignis missed the routine of his old life, of knowing exactly what was going to happen at any given moment.

He presented as an Alpha, as was expected. Gladiolus, the Prince's sworn shield was hot on his heels, an Alpha born and bred. As expected.

The time came and went for Noctis to present.

He did not.

***

Gladio had no time for biological impulses. He had no desire to pair bond, to mate with an Omega, or even find one for that matter. He had a duty to uphold, a family bound oath to serve the royal family, to be shield and guiding force. He, like the other Alphas in the Amicitia family, would carry out his sworn duty and when older would settle down with an undemanding Beta and carry on the family line.

He got ribbed for it continuously. The Crownsguard were always hassled by the Kingsglaive. Elite Alphas who were out there fighting, using their instincts for battle, slaking a lust within them that Gladio never could. Even the Crownsguard gave him a hard time, all taking their role as the royal family's military seriously, but mocking him regarding Prince Noctis's aversion for training.

They teased him for babysitting, for wasting his time attempting to train a nominated Alpha that would have no trouble defending himself. You only had to look at King Regis after all, a formidable warrior.

Yet, they didn't know Noctis couldn't pick up things as nature intended him too. It frustrated him to no end. He thought the kid was lazy, apathetic, that Noctis saw the whole thing as a joke. It was only after Noctis brought Iris back and defended her, taking the blame that Gladio began to see anything worth liking in the boy.

He watched Noctis in his drills, sweat running down his torso, pink flushed cheeks. There was something about his charge and Gladio couldn't put his finger on it. He might have been concerned if Noctis's lineage had Omega blood in it, or if Noctis didn't have that spark of Alpha defiance in him.

He had to guide and protect him, thinking for him when Noctis couldn't, protect him from both physical and emotional dangers. Yes, a mate would come later, there was no room for anything else while he was heart and soul sworn to the Lucis line, to his young brat who would one day rule Lucis.

That was the way it was supposed to be.

***

'I'm here, what's wrong with Noctis?' Gladio's chest was heaving, deep shuddering breaths that revealed just how quickly he'd run to get there.

'Lean close to the door.' Ignis pointed at it.

'Are you serious-'

'Just do it!' Ignis snapped.

Crossing his arms over his chest and huffing, Gladio did as ordered, recoiling as the stench hit him.

'What? What's going on?' Gladio leapt back as if burnt.

'He's an Omega. Noctis is presenting as an Omega.'

'He can't be. He's an Alpha.' Gladio argued, face screwed from the scent.

Ignis flailed for a moment. His intuition told him to back away slowly. The Omega in Noctis was vulnerable, his body's defence keeping away Alphas in his sickness. For the first time ever he found his mind helplessly grasping at nothing. He hadn't factored this possibility in.

'Noctis needs me.' He wasn't sure if he was informing himself, or Gladio.

'We need to tell someone. What if we're wrong?'

Ignis let himself into the apartment, the rancid odour turning his stomach, efficiently acting as a barrier as it was supposed to while Noctis's body accumulated to it's changes.

Gladio wasn't far behind him.

'Noc...tis?' Ignis called, voice catching on the smell.

'Are you sure about this, Ignis? What if you're wrong.'

'I'm not. When I presented...when I anticipated what Noctis would present as, I researched Omegas, their biology, their instincts, their place in relation to us. Besides,' Ignis pinned Gladio with a look. 'You can't deny it doesn't come as surprise. You've had your misgivings as have I.'

'He can't be an Omega, Ignis.' Gladio's feet were rooted to the floor, tone pleading.

'Regardless of what he is, he's still Noctis, and he needs me.' Ignis moved to the bedroom, trying not to breathe too deeply as he opened the door. He fought against every instinct he had telling him to leave, Noctis's scent a direct attack on his nose.

Noctis was shaking under his blanket, face pulled tight with pain, skin pallid.

'What do we do?' Gladio sat back on his heels beside the bed, his brows drawn together, sweat beading his face as he fought against the smell.

'You do not have to do anything. This does not fall to your duties, Gladio, I can care for the prince through this.'

'He's in pain, Ignis. I can't just leave him.'

'Very well. Highness?' Ignis called, his voice soft, pulling the bedcovers back, gritting his teeth as more of the scent was released.

'Ignis?' Blue eyes cracked open, looking up at him and pleading. 'Hurts,' he whispered.

Ignis felt his chest clench, an instinct he didn't believe he had making him move, brushing their foreheads together.

'You're unwell, Noctis.'

'Gladio?' Noctis lifted his head a little, eyes unfocused, seeking out his shield.

'Yeah, Noct, I'm here too.' Gladio patted Noctis on the shoulder.

'Why? I'm sick.' Noctis sounded accusing.

'Because you need me, brat,' Gladio grumbled.

'There should be some painkillers in the cabinet beside the sink. Can you fetch them for me, Gladio?'

Gladio tripped over himself in his haste to leave.

'Hurts, Ignis.' Noctis pushed his head into Ignis's lap, seeking comfort.

Ignis felt a surge of protectiveness swell, the desire to care for, to protect, governing his actions. As they often did when concerning his charge.

'I know.' His hand slipped into the blankets, rubbing across Noctis's stomach in an attempt to help.

'Here,' Gladio sat on the bed, next to Noctis, holding the pills out. Just as Ignis went to ask, a glass of water was offered.

'Take these, it'll help.' Ignis placed the medicine on Noctis's tongue, encouraging him to drink slow sips of the water.

'Thank you.' Noctis pressed against Gladio, the shield leaning back in return. 'You guys don't need to stay,' he mumbled.

'Yes, we do.' Gladio's voice was tight, succumbing to an Alpha's natural inclination to guard an Omega.

Ignis could see telltale signs of conflicting emotions on his face. He was stunned at Gladio's conviction to stay, knowing the shield's aversion to babying the prince.

With an inkling of an idea, Ignis leant down, mindful that Gladio was watching him. He rubbed his jaw over the crown of Noctis's head, rubbing his scent on him. There was a low growl from Gladio, and both froze, unsure as to what they were doing. Noctis visibly calmed, a deep breath escaping him.

The Omega reacted, believing himself to be safe and protected, falling into slumber.

'You're treating him like a mate,' Gladio growled.

Ignis raised an eyebrow, staring pointedly at where Gladio held Noctis's hand in his own.

Gladio said nothing, leaning down to rub his own scent over Noctis, amber eyes closing in contentment.

'A royal Omega, Iggy. The kid's gonna have Alphas fighting over him.'

'Indeed.'

***

Noctis woke with a gasp, heart pounding, skin flushed. It wasn't remains of a nightmare that held him caught in its lingering tendrils, this was something else entirely. Limbs trembling, he sat up in bed, fingers brushing through his hair as he tried to remember last night.

He felt hot, fever-flushed, his mind clouded. He'd been sick, that was all he could remember. Crippling stomach cramps, his hands clawing at his gut, twisting at the tender flesh there. He vaguely remembered Ignis coming into his room, the advisor's gentle hands soothing against his forehead.

Then it got fuzzy, murmured reassurances, being pressed between two warm bodies, reaching over the side of the bed to wretch, feeling hands sweep the hair away from his face, another hand rubbing his back.

Embarrassment climbed up his spine, settling like a stone in his stomach. It was bad enough that the two of them already didn't think highly of him. He knew they were waiting for him to present, that they had meetings about him, trading notes.

Gladio was a typical Alpha, embracing it, embodying all that an Alpha meant. Ignis at least could understand his frustrations, not being a typical Alpha, but he was strong where it counted, with a will of steel and a barbed tongue, ready to tear down anyone that would dare harm Noctis.

Noctis didn't fit in.

What type of Alpha could he be?

Deep down Noctis suspected the worst, thinking of it as a type of darkness within that he hid, a secret ugliness that he pretended not to notice, praying no one else would. He worked harder at training, at being an Alpha, at pretending.

Noctis hated anyone seeing him weak. Gladio and Ignis were the exceptions, he trusted them both with his life, yet still, he wished he hadn't thrown up in front of them. Taking a few moments to breathe he swung his legs off the bed, keeping one hand on his stomach.

There was nothing worse than having your crushes see you at your worst.

The room swayed and Noctis groaned, hands coming up to hold his head.

'Easy, I've got you.' Noctis was hoisted into the air, a muscled, tattooed arm crossing over his chest.

'Gladio?'

'One and only princess.'

Gladio held Noctis against his broad chest as he walked. The sound of Ignis making breakfast made his stomach lurch nauseously in anticipation and he tightened his hold on Gladio.

'You...stayed the night? I thought I was dreaming.'

'Afraid not. Careful now.' Noctis was eased into a chair at the dining table. He looked up at his shield, the gruff man saying nothing, jaw set as he walked away. Noctis startled as Ignis's hand came down on his shoulder, his attention entirely focused on Gladio.

'Do you think you can eat something? I've made porridge-'

'With Ulwaat berries?' Noctis shifted forward in his chair, his body protesting as he moved.

Ignis smiled. It was small, barely noticeable, and Noctis felt his cheeks go warm. He knew that smile, knew that it was reserved for when they were alone when they weren't royalty and advisor.

'Yes, with Ulwaat berries. I distinctly remember a certain prince having a fondness for them whilst ill.'

'Thank you.' Noctis folded his arms around himself as he waited, wondering why it was so damn cold in here.

There was a grunt, and a hoodie dropped on his head. Noctis pulled it on without thought, pushing the sleeves back. Gladio's scent wrapped around him like a shroud. He knew what both of them smelt like, he'd grown up with them. Noctis noticed a difference in Gladio's scent, an underlying musk, a sharpness that made Noctis burrow in the jumper, wanting to drown in it.

Wait.

What?

'Something's wrong with me,' Noctis muttered, pulling his nose from the fabric.

He looked at his friends, Ignis catching Gladio's gaze over the rim of his coffee mug. They looked pale, uncomfortable. Ignis was hiding it better, but Gladio's nose was wrinkling over the bridge.

'You look like you're in pain. Are you guys sick too?' Noctis tried to get up, stumbling as he felt the room lurch.

There was a thud, an arc of brown globules in the air as the coffee fell, two pairs of arms catching him.

It was Ignis he pulled himself up on, recognizing the broad shoulders under his hands, the feel of that patterned shirt of his. Without meaning to, Noctis burrowed his head into the crook of Ignis's neck, instinctively seeking comfort, freezing as he heard a rumble in Gladio's chest.

'Let's get you back to sitting, shall we?'

Ignis placed him down in the chair, not letting his hand leave Noctis's back, glaring at Gladio until the bigger man walked away, hands balled into fists.

'We're not sick, Noctis, and neither are you.'

Gladio slammed the bowl of porridge down in front of him with a thunk, waiting with his hip cocked against the table, eyes narrowed at Ignis.

'Then... what's wrong with me?

'You're, I mean, you have presented, Noctis.'

'Presented... wait you mean!' Noctis felt himself smiling. Finally. Finally, he was like everyone else, there wasn't anything wrong with him. 'Will I become stronger? Keep up with you in drills?' Noctis asked Gladio.

'I doubt it,' Gladio mumbled. Noctis felt his chest cave.

'I know I'm older than the norm, but-'

'Noctis. What Gladio means to say is that it wasn't like that for us because we are Alphas. You, however, are an Omega.'

His hand falling onto the table was obscenely loud.

'An Omega... that's a shitty joke, Ignis.'

'Language!' Ignis snapped in reflex before sighing. 'Noct-' he trailed off, hand coming up as though to touch him and then falling away.

Oh.

It wasn't a joke.

'Are you sure?'

'Positive. You smell disgusting.'

'Gladio!' Ignis snapped. 'Noctis, when Omegas present they give off a rather...distinctive smell. It's to keep Alphas away so your body can adjust to the changes, without an Alpha trying to mate with you before you are ready. A preventive measure as it were.'

'Shit, does this mean I'm going to go into heats? That I'm going to have to fend off Alphas? That I'm going to be able to breed.' Noctis began to hyperventilate, his visions for the future, his expectations of his life shattering into pieces.

Ignis caught his flailing hands, trying to get him to be still.

'You've always said Omegas are weak.' Noctis glared up at Gladio, who pinched the bridge of his nose in shame. 'I can't be an Omega, I have to carry on the line, keep the wall, protect the people of Lucis.' Noctis looked up at Ignis, pleading with him, his breathing painful. The Alpha knelt to the floor in an instant, their eyes level.

'Why wouldn't you be able to maintain the wall? You're still of the line of Lucis, still magically adept, still strong. You will carry on your line, it will just be through you that it happens.'

Gladio's hand rested on his head, stroking, soothing.

'Easy, brat.'

The nickname, the familiarity of it had his breathing slowing, the scents of them soothing.

'That's why you both smell so good isn't it. Because you're Alphas and I'm a useless Omega.'

'Do not speak of yourself in such a way!' Ignis's tone was harsh, biting and Noctis felt himself cower, his advisor's face stern and angry.

'Noct...'

He heard Ignis take a deep breath.

'You are still you. The way you are responding to us is purely instinctual. Do not talk down on yourself, on Omegas.'

'How am I gonna get through this?' Noctis pleaded with them both.

'You'll get through this the same way you've got through everything else, Noctis. With us beside you.'

***

King Regis was silent when Ignis gave his report, Gladio standing beside him, head bowed. When Ignis finished, he looked up to find the king staring off into the middle distance, eyes unseeing.

'Are you certain?' He whispered.

'Yes, Majesty.'

King Regis turned in thought, his gaze lifting up to the ceiling, to the centre of the Citadel where the crystal was concealed.

'Very well, extra steps will be needed to ensure his safety.' The king rose from the throne motioning them to join him at his side.

'Is there anything we can do?' Ignis could feel himself fretting, attempting to keep his arms still at his sides.

'You expect me to rage at the unfairness of having an Omega child? That I would be ashamed of what he is?'

Ignis looked to Gladio, who seemed content to step back and let him do all the talking.

'Yes, your Majesty,' Ignis answered honestly.

'I might be king, but I am still a parent. I know of others, of council members that will see this as an opportunity, a royal Omega to barter off, to secure aid against Niflheim.'

Ignis felt his heart seized, as if squeezed by death itself. He heard Gladio's feet shift, knowing the shield felt the same.

'There are none to barter Prince Noctis off to. The only possible benefit considering a political match would be if-' Ignis trailed off, unable to even speak the words.

'If an Nif Alpha lord took him.' Gladio snapped, eyes instantly lowering at the outburst.

King Regis only nodded in agreement. 'Noctis will need an Alpha that respects and cares for him, that cares not for the power and wealth of the kingdom but will do his best for the people of Lucis and his Omega mate. Will there be many suitors like that? Or will a stray Alpha pounce on my son when he goes through a heat, the keys to a kingdom a mere bonus.'

'There will not be many Alphas that will have the self-sacrifice needed for the people of Lucis.' Ignis replied, mouth grim.

'No. But I know of two that place their duties and obligations above their own personal gain. That know how to handle Noctis.'

'You can't be serious.' Gladio spat, before bowing his head again in shame.

'Deadly, son of the Amicitia line. I am an old man, but I am not blind, to any of you.' He smiled, standing before them both. 'It would bring me happiness to know Noctis had mated with someone of his own choosing, before word spreads of his gender and I have Alpha suitors banging down my door.'

His gaze turned to Ignis.

'A king can accept nothing without first accepting himself. I asked you to remember these words. Do not let my son feel shame for who or what he is. You have been taught well, Ignis, the mantle of advisor, of confidant, suits you.' King Regis's gaze turned to Gladio. 'As have you, Gladiolus, a steadfast shield, protector of his future king's emotional, mental and physical health.'

The king walked forward, dark thoughts written on his face.

'We face... Lucis faces dark times. We have yet to encounter our darkest hour and it is my fear that it will be Noctis to bear the burden.' His eyes closed, his body leaning heavily on his cane.

'We will help Noctis fight it, help him keep Lucis safe.' Gladio swore, pressing his closed fist over his heart and bowing.

The king nodded at Gladio's words.

'As a father, as one Alpha to another, please... help Noctis find some happiness before his destiny weighs heavily upon him.'

Ignis didn't know what the king was speaking of, and judging by Gladio's puzzled face, neither did he. There was no mistaking the broken despair in the king's voice, the pleading of an Alpha seeking help protecting it's young. When Ignis imagined himself in the king's place, trying to protect his own young, he felt a surge of fury swell, and just for one moment, he felt a link binding him and the king together.

'We swear. Whatever it takes, Noctis will be happy.'

***

Gladio had taken it upon himself to speak with Noctis, against Ignis's wishes. The kid needed to know what was at stake, there was no point pussyfooting around him or pretending everything was going to be alright. The king had asked him to protect Noctis, and that was what Gladio was going to do.

He couldn't seriously entertain the king's suggestion.

Even if the realisation he could make Noctis his kept him up at night.

They were in the training room, Gladio knowing full well they wouldn't be interrupted until they had finished, he'd already checked Ignis's schedule with Clarus and knew him to be in meetings.

Noctis needed to know the situation, the sooner the better.

'You're telling me that all the Alphas out there are jerks, that every single one of them will try to come on to me in a heat, just for the Kingdom?' Noctis dropped his practise sword, a sarcastic smile on his face.

'Face facts, you're a royal Omega. When you go into heats there will be Alphas, nif Alphas that will take advantage of you.'

'Can't you just protect me during a heat? Lock me up or something?' Noctis put his hands on his hips, not taking Gladio seriously.

He'd tried explaining it the way Ignis would, diplomatically, but his frustration was getting the better of him, his genuine fear that he could not protect Noctis in a heat.

That he could not protect Noctis from himself.

'I can't be with you every second of the day,' Gladio muttered under his breath.

'Isn't that your job?' Noctis laughed.

'You got a place for me at your school desk? Want me to hold your hand every time you leave the apartment? Stand outside Prompto's bedroom door?' Gladio's voice dripped sarcasm.

'So you're saying it would be better for me to be mated?' Noctis folded his arms over his chest, eyebrow arching.

Finally, the idiot was getting it.

'If you're mated you'll be safer. Alphas won't try and claim you if they see you're already taken, and if you're with a strong Alpha they'll able to fight for you. I thought Iggy was explaining basic Omega instincts to you?' Gladio spat the last part.

'Do I at least get a say in who it is? Or are you planning to stick me in an arranged marriage?' He bit his lower lip in thought, before nodding to himself and brazenly staring Gladio down. 'No, I'm not mating out of convenience, when I do, it will be someone of my choosing.'

That overconfidence was going to be the death of Noctis.

'You don't get a say,' Gladio snapped.

'Yes, I do. No matter what happens, I will not betray my people.'

'Your hormones might. You'll spread your legs, invite them in and then it'll be too late.'

'You're not pushing me around just because you're an Alpha,' Noctis challenged.

'Fight me then, prove you can get away and protect yourself.' Gladio slapped the practise sword against his hip, feeling his lips curl at the defensive stance Noctis was taking.

'If I win will you stop going on about finding me a suitable mate? Will you see that Omegas aren't weak things to be cowed by Alphas?' Noctis snarled the last bit. Gladio felt his gut twist at the determination in his charge's eyes, the narrowed, fierce eyes.

Noctis was an enigma, an Omega with Alpha instincts. Gladio threw the sword to the floor.

'You win princess, I'll back off. Heck, I'll even talk to Iggy for you.'

'You always do what Ignis tells you to?' Noctis circled around him.

'No, we're a partnership when it comes to brats. No one's in charge of me but me.'

'You say that now, but when a pretty Omega bats her eyes for you, I'm sure you'll be putty in her hands.'

'Who says it'll be a female?' Gladio lunged towards Noctis, expecting the warp out of the way, spinning on his heel at the last moment and blocking the prince's attack at his back. He caught Noctis's foot, twisting the ankle and forcing the Omega to the floor.

'Already? Gods, an Alpha won't even have to work for you.' Gladio recoiled at the blow across the jaw, stumbling back.

That was unexpected.

Gladio rubbed his hand across his face, impressed at the strength, at Noctis not holding back.

'No Alpha is going to have me,' Noctis swore, leaping at Gladio again.

Was that so?

The shield fended off the fists, allowing the Omega to weaken, to get the aggression out of his system. When he started to slow, he began his own swipes, not intended to injure, but to knock to the floor, to subdue.

Noctis was having none of it, panting and sweating, warping if desperation called for it. He landed a rain of blows on Gladio's shoulders, before a leg kicked at the tender point behind the knee, intending to cripple. Gladio snarled, instincts rising to the surface no matter how much he fought them down.

This was an Omega fighting him, weaker than him, supposed to submit to him.

His swipes turned into punches, Noctis easily defending him, kicking Gladio in the stomach and forcing him back a few feet.

If Gladio had been a normal Alpha, he would have given up by now, chances being high that the Omega would have knocked him silly. He was not a normal Alpha. He was trained for this, to be unstoppable, and as formidable as the Omega was, as strong as he would be one day, that day was not today.

Roaring, he got his arms around Noctis's middle, crashing with him to the floor, his teeth going for the Omega's neck. He needed to make the situation as real as possible, to think like an Alpha intending to mate and they would strike were Noctis was most vulnerable, where instincts would force him to yield. Noctis thrashed, managing to buck Gladio off him.

Gladio could feel the thrill of the fight singing to him, a siren's call deep within his soul, a thick and potent bloodlust. He'd never felt anything like this, pride that his charge would one day surpass him, enraptured that Noctis could entice his Alpha instincts.

He grabbed Noctis by the shoulders, forcing him to the floor, pinning him under his weight, sitting on his hips. Noctis's eyes were wide, wild. His instincts should have been telling him to submit, to yield, unexpectedly he didn't, fighting the Alpha despite his biology.

It was tantalizing.

Omegas were weak, beneath him. The idea of being beholden to such a creature was infuriating. He had a duty, a purpose, a sworn oath to those of the Lucis's line. He could not afford any distractions, could not be a mate to anyone while he had his honour to uphold.

Realisation cleared the fog of his instinct.

Noctis was not weak.

He was already Noctis's, mind, soul and body.

He leant down, catching Noctis's wrists in one of his hands, holding them above the prince's head.

'Submit?' He hissed.

Noctis thrashed and Gladio could see the little blue sparks leap across his skin as he attempted to warp, his body too spent, his magic paralysed.

'I will never submit,' Noctis snarled, attempting to headbutt Gladio.

Gladio felt an inferno course through his veins.

'Yes, you will.' Gladio brought his nose down into the juncture of Noctis's neck, inhaling deep. How had he lived without that damn scent? He could feel Noctis's struggling, and he knew deep down he was crossing the line, that his lesson had been taught.

Gladio gave himself a few minutes more, just lingering in the beguiling scent, the essence that was Noctis. He heaved himself onto his arms once more, ready to give Noctis a verbal stripping down. He halted, body freezing.

Gladio's head snapped down to the Omega that was looking up at him with blazing blue eyes, pupils wide, mouth opened with a gasp.

If he thought Noctis smelt good...

It was nothing compared to how he smelt when aroused.

There was an underlying sour smell dancing alongside the arousal. Fear. His charge was scared. Gladio lifted his hand up, resting it against Noctis's temple. The Omega calmed, tilting into it, subconsciously seeking out Alpha reassurance.

A tide swamped Gladio. Protectiveness for his royal charge, the urge to reassure his friend. Underlying all of that was a tenderness for the young man struggling to understand who he was.

Prince Noctis. The ultimate conundrum.

Gladio thought of words to reassure him, pretty, fanciful things like Ignis would use. However, looking at Noct beneath him, the lithe muscles, the messy hair, Gladio felt all rational thought escape him. Not for the first time in a sticky situation, he succumbed to instincts.

The kiss was messy, a clash of teeth, writhing tongues and biting of lips, a perfect summary of them. Gladio freed Noctis's hands, growling as they tugged at his hair, moaning at the Omega's demands.

This wouldn't be an Omega that would concede and do whatever his Alpha demanded of him, this would be one that would demand to stand equal with his mate, fighting his own battles and having his own mind.

Exactly what Gladio wanted.

But Noct was moving away. Gladio held tight refusing to let him go. A sharp needle point of pain made him gasp and let go, cursing as he rubbed his bitten, bleeding lip.

Noctis managed a warp, summoning his engine blade and holding it up to deter Gladio from any future advances.

'Stay back or I swear to the six Gladio, I'll gut you.'

'You want it just as I do.'

'I'm not becoming a mate to someone just based on instincts.'

'You fucking think this is all this is? That I would let myself fall for anyone just because of biology?' Gladio scrambled to his feet.

'You said it yourself, Alphas are driven only by lust.'

'Now, that's a bit harsh, isn't it, Highness?'

The voice was carved from ice.

Gladio turned, shoulders tense.

'Get out of here, Ignis.'

Gladio knew Ignis almost as well as he knew himself. He knew the advisor had an iron grip on his Alpha instincts, seeing them as baser instincts, unwilling to succumb to them.

That grip was shattered.

'You will not claim him.' Ignis had his daggers in hand, pointing straight at him, not even looking at the Omega they were about to fight over.

He had the brief, flittering thought that perhaps he should stand down. If Noctis could unravel the composed advisor this much, then it was possible Ignis's feelings were stronger, that he had underestimated Ignis's claim on the Omega.

Rational thought escaped both of them, their need for Noctis as their mate overwhelming logical thought.

'Who's going to stop me? You? You can't protect him.' Gladio snatched up his practise sword.

'I will defend Noctis until my dying breath, do not belittle me by suggesting otherwise.'

There was silence for a few moments, both knowing how the other fought, the weaknesses, the strengths. As one they charged, voices raised in a battle cry.

'Stop it!' Noctis warped directly between them, barely missing being impaled by Ignis's daggers, the Alpha's quick thinking and reflexes saving him.

'Get outta the way!' Gladio roared, trying to move their charge to safety.

'Make me!' Noctis held on to his arm, refusing to budge. 'This isn't you. You guys are friends remember!'

Neither of the Alphas backed down, hearts pounding, the lust for battle, for claiming rights, singing sweetly in their veins.

'I'm not a toy to be fought over!' Noctis shouted, thumping Gladio on the chest. He looked down at that, feeling some of his aggression bleed from his stance as he saw the distressed Omega.

'Noct, move, you'll get hurt.' Gladio again tried to move the prince.

'No, I order you both to stop, now.' At the command, both Alphas moved away warily, still circling each other.

'What's gotten into you?' Noctis flopped on the floor, panting at his overexertion. 'So, I'm an Omega and what... you guys suddenly pay interest? No, that's not how this is going to work.'

'It's got nothing to do with you being an Omega,' Gladio hissed, still pacing, on guard against Ignis.

'Being Omega just means that something we thought was impossible is now attainable.' Ignis concluded, shifting on the balls of his feet, waiting for Gladio's guard to fall.

'Wait, what does that even mean?' Noctis asked.

'Damn it, Noct, we want you as our mate, always have done.' Gladio threw down his sword, ignoring Ignis, applying to Noctis directly.

'But with you being an Alpha you were unobtainable.' Ignis didn't let go of his weapons, but he brought them down to his side.

'And then you went and presented and screwed all this up!' Gladio shouted, turning his back on them, raking his fingers through his hair. 'We could both ignore it while we thought you were going to be an Alpha and now look at you.' Gladio glared at Noctis on the floor, trying to place the blame. 'There isn't a reason for us to hold back anymore.'

Noctis pulled himself to his feet, gaze firm even through the glimmer of tears.

'I've had feelings...for you... for you both since I can remember. You were my family, my brothers, my friends. Guys I could turn to, people I could trust. Look at you both.' Noctis waved a hand between them. 'Instincts will make you do this? Turn on your friends, your family? No.'

Noctis's head fell forward, tears sprinkling the floor.

'You were right, it's safer for me to be bonded. I'll ask Dad to fix a mating with an Alpha he trusts. Once I'm bonded we can all return to normal.'

The Omega ran, despite their desperate pleas.

***

'We fucked up.' Gladio sat on his heels, staring at the floor.

'Eloquent as always, but fitting. We fucked up.'

Ignis came to stand beside Gladio.

'He had feelings for us?'

'And hid them for the same reasons we would have I imagine. Alphas cannot mate.'

'What a mess,' Gladio rubbed a hand over his face.

'Indeed.' Ignis's daggers clattered to the floor.

'He won't ask King Regis that...will he?' The idea of another Alpha with Noctis made his skin crawl.

'I sincerely hope not.'

They remained close together in silence, lost in thought.

'I've always loved him.' Ignis began, the feeling of finally being able to admit such a thing out loud freeing a weight off him. 'As soon as King Regis introduced us, when he took my hand in his own, I was spellbound.'

'It was his honour, his determination to do the right thing, his inner strength,' Gladio admitted. 'I didn't know what the feelings were, I thought it was just an extension of me wanting to serve the royal family, to give my life for him.'

'It morphed and changed as years went on?'

'Yeah, sounds so simple doesn't it?'

Ignis chuckled at that. 'Unrequited love. Impossible, until he presented. Then King Regis made it worse by putting that idea in our heads.'

They had the thought at once.

Our heads.

'Do you think Noct will be up for something like that?'

'I don't know, Gladio. We should discuss with him. Is it something we can do?'

'I trust you with him.' Amber eyes were clear, honest.

'And I you.'

'Ah man. What about jealousy, heats, ruts? I'm not good with sharing what I want.'

'We need to discuss it with Noct.' Ignis pushed his glasses up his nose. 'But first, I believe apologies are in order.'

***

Ignis knew Noctis well enough that despite his claims of going to see his father, the Omega would not. He could be impulsive, governed by his feelings rather than the rational, but no matter how much he was hurting, the emotional turmoil he was going through, he would not make a life-changing decision until he had calmed down.

They lurked in the darkness of Noctis's apartment, going over together how they would speak to Noctis, where they felt reassurances were needed. Then, they had trailed off into silence, both of them hoping that Noctis would at least listen to them.

It was in the early hours of the morning that the prince returned, tiptoeing into his apartment, already nervous they'd be waiting.

'Noctis,' They spoke as one, rising together, hands reaching out.

'Don't,' Noctis whispered, sounding tired, heartbroken.

'We are truly sorry,' Ignis murmured, inching forward.

Noctis said nothing as he watched the Alpha move, his arms wrapped around himself. Ignis could see Noctis wanted to come to him, to seek comfort, but everything had changed since Noctis had presented, the air was fraught with tension, hidden meanings.

The Omega's eyes, illuminated by the night skyline behind them, glowed, huge blue beacons that beckoned Ignis.

'I'm sorry,' Noctis's voice cracked, not making any move to come closer.

'Why, brat?' Gladio's voice was soft, almost tender as he stood shoulder to shoulder with Ignis.

'I'm an Omega,' Noctis spat the word as if it was something filthy, eyes screwing shut, face revealing his pain.

'I'm not,' Ignis's voice was firm. 'And neither is Gladio.'

Noctis's eyes snapped open, filmy wet.

'Sorry for fighting earlier. It must have looked like we were only thinking with our dicks.'

Ignis sighed at the coarse language, nodding his head in agreement.

'Noctis, we have both cared for you past our duties for a long time. As I mentioned earlier, it wasn't something we could act upon, you were beyond our reach.'

Noctis said nothing, gaze shifting between them.

'We love you,' Gladio told him. No pomp, no fanfare, just plain and simple.

'What about Lucis?'

Ignis felt pride swell. His charge was going to make a fine king.

'If you would do us the honour of allowing us to claim you then we would endeavour to our best to support your rule, conceding to your judgement. We hereby swear never to abuse our power as Alphas, not to subjugate you with an Alpha command unless we believe your safety-'

'Or my people,' Noctis interrupted.

'Or the safety of the Crown Citizens are in jeopardy.' Ignis didn't need to glance at Gladio, knowing that the shield mirrored his position.

'Wait a minute...us?' Noctis asked.

'As in the three of us in a pack.' Gladio answered.

'A pack?' Noctis let the word hang between them all. 'So...I would belong to both of you?'

'Essentially, yes.'

Noctis didn't dismiss the idea, his brows furrowed in thought. 'Won't you two rip each other apart?'

'Are you agreeing?' Gladio leant forward, eager.

'No. I'm asking questions.'

'I don't believe so. We are in a unique situation. Alphas do not trust others with their Omegas because in part we do not trust others to protect them. Gladio and I have worked in close proximity regarding you for many years, and without realising it, the three of us have already formed a pack of sorts.'

'Don't I get a say in this?'

'I thought you had feelings for us, brat, this should be a dream come true.'

'Gladio,' Ignis held up a hand for silence. 'We are merely offering you ourselves, Noct. We wish to court you together as Alphas. Would you be disagreeable to this?'

'Is that fair to you?' Noctis was hesitant.

The prince looked wretched, holding one arm close to his body, rubbing at the elbow.

'Is it just instinct that's making me feel this? This insane need to be with you both. Are any of my feelings real?' Noctis looked up, cheeks flushed, eyes sparkling.

'Have you considered that your instincts are merely fanning the flames of feelings that have lain in embers for some time? Being an Omega does not mean you are suddenly attracted to every Alpha.'

Despite the distance he was trying to maintain from Noctis, not wanting to put pressure on the Omega, Ignis couldn't help himself, pulling Noctis into an embrace.

'You're still you, Noctis. A brave if what somewhat selfish... what is it Gladio calls you?'

'Brat.' He heard mumbled into his shirt.

'Ah yes, he always did have a way with words,' Ignis chuckled.

Gladio muttered under his breath, moving towards them, wrapping his arm around Noctis shoulders.

'Gods this is so confusing. I had a crush on you for so long, both of you for so long, and now I can have you, I don't know if it's me or the Omega you guys want.' Noctis let out a choked laugh.

Ignis moved before his mind could comprehend what it was he was doing, his need to comfort an Omega, no, his desire to sooth Noctis making his body act without thinking.

He saw Noctis's eyes up close, the widening of them as Ignis cupped his jaw.

'It's always been you, Noctis.'

Noctis gasped and Ignis swooped in, fingers tangling in the silky dark hair, cradling his charge's head, coaxing him into a deep kiss, taking control of it, showing Noctis how.

'No, stop.' Noctis shook his head, pulling away despite his scent telling Ignis he wanted anything but.

'Please, don't stop,' Gladio murmured, pressing his nose into Noctis's hair.

'You're...not mad?'

Ignis could feel the rigid way Noctis held himself, fear of reprimand, of things escalating into aggression between the Alphas. They shared a look over Noctis's head, a thought transmitted between them.

Slowly.

'No, baby.'

Noctis melted at the pet name, daring to tip his head back, exposing his throat to Ignis, allowing Gladio to softly press their lips together. It was excruciating, to be offered something tempting but knowing patience was needed. Ignis allowed his hand to come up, letting a finger to trail down the alabaster of Noctis's throat.

The kiss ended and the Alphas moved away from their potential mate.

'Alright. Courting, yes, let's do that.' Noctis swallowed, the noise loud in the silence of the apartment. 'But, if either of you are unhappy you promise to tell me. It's either both of you, or neither of you.'

'Agreed. I believe honesty, communication and trust are required in a situation such as ours.'

Gladio started to make a quip, faltering as he saw the look Ignis gave him. 'Come on specs, we need to give him his sleep.'

'You'll be alright? The rest of the night?' Ignis waited for Gladio to make a joke at his expense, for Noctis to roll his eyes and accuse him of coddling. Neither happened. Gladio made an agreeing hum, in concurrence to what Ignis asked and Noctis's gaze slid to the side, bashful.

'Yeah, I'll be alright.' Noctis's hands lifted, reaching out to the pair of them before falling back to his side uncertainty.

They moved as one, rubbing their jaws over the Omega's head, scenting him, warning off other Alphas, a promise and reassurance to Noctis that they wanted him.

Slowly, Ignis promised himself.

***

Noctis had no idea what to expect, not really understanding what it meant to be courted, let alone by two different guys. Nothing changed between them after that night. Noctis put it to the back of his mind, knowing he needed to speak to his dad about everything that had happened.

That went better than Noctis expected, Gladio and Ignis having already beaten him to it.

His dad had been great, supportive, echoing what the other two had said, that it made him no less of a person, that it was nothing more than biology, that he would be a great king. His final parting words being that although they were king and successor, his dad just wanted him to be happy.

He left the Citadel feeling happier than he had done in days.

Noctis had expected the courting to start soon after his chat with his dad. Nothing happened. Gladio still threw him about in training, pushing him just as hard as he did before. Ignis still cooked for him, took notes in meetings for him, nagged him about just about everything.

Some of the Crownsguard had been giving him a hard time, falling into one of two camps. The, protect-Noctis-the-royal-Omega-because-he-cannot-do-anything-for-himself camp, and disdain that the future head of the military was an Omega.

That's when Noctis noticed it.

He'd finished his training for the day when some of the Alphas lived up to Gladio's grim predictions. It was nothing more than bluster, he was stronger than all of them, and it was easy to nip any advances in the bud, any challenges easily thwarted.

Without knowing where he'd come from, Gladio was there, grabbing one of the Crownsguard by the scruff of his neck, hurling him across the training ground. The rest had scattered, shame chasing their heels.

Noctis had expected a full-blown argument, for Gladio to shout at him. The Alpha instead wrapped his arms around him, pulling Noctis to his chest, hand in his hair.

'You alright?' Gladio's voice was curt in his ear, but it was out of concern, not anger.

'Yeah...I'm...' Noctis could feel his skin erupt with heat, knew his cheeks would be red.

'I'll never let anyone lay a hand on you, I swear.' Gladio pulled back, amber eyes dark as he stared at Noctis. He grasped Noctis's hand, turning it so he could press a kiss to the tender underside of his wrist.

Noctis couldn't stop thinking about it for days.

Students at school were also being a nuisance. While most of his classmates had often treated him with apprehension, putting him on some sort of pedestal and unwilling to get to know him, now the tides had changed. Other Omegas flocked to him, treating him with a sense of awe, a figurehead for greatness, an idea that although they were typically seen as the weaker ones, they could still achieve great things.

The expectations were stifling.

He'd been doing his homework with Ignis sitting opposite him, going through paperwork nothing out of the ordinary for them. Noctis had been staring at the same math problem for ages, rubbing at the tension in-between his eyes with the heel of his hand, when Ignis gently touched his fingertips to his hand.

Ignis was giving Noctis his full attention, green eyes intense, fingers stroking the back of his hand.

'Are you well, dear heart?'

Noctis dropped his pen in shock at the endearment.

'Just...got a lot going on at school.'

Ignis got up, walking around the table to stand behind Noctis. He pried Noctis's hand away from his head, encouraging Noctis to lean back, the crown of his head resting against Ignis's stomach.

'Close your eyes.'

Cool fingers chased the tension away, soothing, comforting. Noctis groaned as they rubbed his temples, sweeping down his neck. There was a scent in the air, the bittersweet aroma of the coffee Ignis like to drink, the scent Noctis associated with Ignis. Now, there was an underlying scent tormenting Noctis. Making all the blood rush to his groin.

A sweet kiss dropped onto his lips, his nose, his closed eyelids.

Noctis felt the sudden need to melt against the advisor, to surrender to him, to give himself over to the tender care.

It was terrifying.

Ignis moved away as soon as the emotion reared it's ugly head, resuming his seat opposite Noctis.

Mentally sighing a breath of relief, Noctis looked back at his work.

He couldn't explain it. He knew that typically Omegas surrendered to Alphas, that when he was in a heat he'd have to rely on his Alpha to help satisfy...those urges. It went against everything he'd been taught, the ultimate conflict of nature versus nurture.

***

Prompto was his shining light, an easy going Beta, not affected by his scent, no impulses to claim. He was still his steadfast friend, accepting Noctis's Omega status with a smile and shoulder bump. Noctis was glad he had Prompto, life would have been unbearable otherwise.

They were walking out of the school building, Noctis laughing at a funny story Prompto was telling about one of the teachers, when he noticed Gladio outside the school gates, leaning up against the wall.

'Go on ahead, I'll talk to you later.'

'Sure, no problem buddy. See you later, Gladio.' Prompto waved at the Alpha with his usual sunny smile.

'Later, pipsqueak.' Gladio returned the wave, smiling at Prompto's exaggerated bouncing step as he walked away. 'That sure is a funny one you've picked to be friends with.'

'Something wrong?' Noctis questioned, jamming his hands in his pockets and jerking his head to indicate they move out of earshot. 'Training? Security issue?' Noctis hissed.

'No, nothing like that.' Gladio pushed himself off the wall, crossing his arms and looking down at Noctis.

'Then...what are you doing here?'

Gladio scratched at his jaw, looking down at the ground, baseball cap hiding his face.

'I thought that...well, you see.'

Noctis felt his eyes go wide. 'Seriously?'

The Alpha became mute, his usual confident air faltering.

'You want to walk me home?'

'You can still catch up to Prompto if you want.' Gladio's voice went gruff, hiding his embarrassment.

'No, I mean, sure, if you're free. Why not?' Noctis smiled, feeling it grow as Gladio grinned in return.

They walked along the path in silence, neither looking at the other. After a while, Noctis chanced a glance at Gladio, who had his hands in his pockets, a slight pink tinge to his cheeks.

'So...how's school?' Gladio asked, eyes still staring ahead.

'It's alright, I guess.'

'Good, that's good.'

Noctis frowned. It got weirder as they walked, their tongues constricted with nerves, neither willing to speak or address why it was weird between them.

'You want to get something to eat?' Gladio met his eye, trying a nonchalant question.

'Depends, are you going to act weird?' Noctis was bold, fed up of the bizarre attitude Gladio was putting out. It was sort of sweet that the huge Alpha was nervous, but this wasn't the Gladio that Noctis had fallen for.

'I'm not trying to act weird!' Gladio snapped, whirling on him.

'Then what? You never pick me up from school.'

'I'm trying to be nice, brat.' Gladio huffed, crossing his arms over his chest as they walked.

'Is it because Ignis picks me up?' Noctis knew he'd hit the nail on the head as Gladio scowled.

'I thought you were courting me together?'

Gladio stopped him with a touch to the shoulder, frowning. 'We are, but he does more nice things for you than I do. We're so different, he knows how to woe an Omega, how to treat you properly, with flowers and fancy food and crap...and I'm just me. The one who told you Omegas are weak.' He looked down at his feet, rocking back and forth on them.

'Gladio? What's wrong?' Noctis pushed.

'I'm just a meathead Alpha, I'm good at fighting, I love the outdoors, and I'm good with people because I know how to read them. I'm not someone who can stand beside you in a council meeting, that can help you rule. I'm rash, impulsive, I say whatever is on my mind damn the consequences, that's not what you need.'

Noctis felt floored, stunned that Gladio felt like that, that someone so confident, self-assured could have doubts. When Noctis was young, when he imagined what type of Alpha he would grow into, it was always Gladio he thought of, quick to defend those he cared about, able to support the weight of the country on his shoulders.

Noctis told Gladio so, smiling a little at Gladio's mouth going slack in shock.

'You're anything but a meathead Alpha.' Noctis reached across to punch Gladio on the arm, swearing when it hurt his hand. 'I've seen you read occasionally, I mean, they might be picture books, but still.' Noctis ducked, laughing at the swipe at his head.

'There are so many people in my life who just tell me what they think I want to hear. People are too afraid to tell me the truth, even Ignis avoids scolding me unless I take things too far.' Noctis thought hard about his next words. 'What, I'm trying to say, Gladio, is that I like your honesty, that you're not afraid to tell me what I need to hear.'

Noctis walked forward a little, brushing his fringe back as the wind ruffled it.

'You're both a part of me, different strengths, different weaknesses. I don't want you to be like Ignis.' His voice, was soft, unsure if what he was saying was the right thing.

Gladio smiled, a full beaming smile that Noctis rarely saw. As they resumed their walk, Noctis reached his hand out to hold Gladio's feeling heat burning his face.

'So...how about pizza and the arcade? Your treat?'

The shield curled his fingers around Noctis's hand.

'Sure, brat, I'll destroy you on the shooter.'

'Dream on.'

Gladio tsked and tightened his hold.

***

Ignis agonized over what to do for Noctis, to show his sincerity. Everything he could think of he already did for Noctis in some capacity, he cleaned up after him, fed him, went to meetings for him, organized his schedule for him. They were already members of a pack in most respects. In a sense, it made the transition easier, not as many awkward fumbling moments from friends to potential mates.

It meant Ignis could indulge himself in selfish passions, things he had restrained himself from previously.

He could rest his hand on the back of Noctis's neck while they looked over his school work and reports. Ignis could send an early morning message and a last one at night just to tell Noctis he was thinking of him. However, Ignis's favourite was Noctis insisting on giving him a hug goodbye as he left, an adorable blush on his cheekbones every single time.

Still, there was something he wanted to do for Noctis, to show the Omega just how highly Ignis regarded him, an instinct as it were to prove himself, that he was a worthy Alpha.

Which is what lead him to the fish market at an unholy hour, as he had been every morning for the past month, bribing, bullying, and almost begging every fisherman he could find to get him something special for Noctis.

On the twenty-eighth day, he finally found it.

Ignis hummed a happy tune to himself as he waited for the elevator to Noctis's apartment. He had plenty of time before Noctis got back for the evening after seeing Prompto, a perfect time to get everything in place.

Or so he thought.

'Ah, Noctis, you're home earlier then I expected.' Ignis didn't wait for an answer, trying to place his package in the fridge without Noctis seeing it. 'Noct?' He called when there was no movement from the couch. Placing the rest of his bags down, he peered into the gloom that was the living room.

On closer inspection he could see Noctis was asleep, his chest rising and falling in slow, rhythmic breaths, textbook open across his chest.

'You'll get sick sleeping out here,' Ignis whispered, hand lifting, brushing through dark hair.

Noctis slurred something in his sleep, head shifting, moving closer to the contact.

'I suppose it would be a shame to wake you.' Ignis drew his hand away, taking a moment just to watch Noctis in slumber, face free from stress, mouth parted. Shaking his head a little, Ignis pressed a chaste kiss to the Omega's temple and left, torn between gratitude he could prepare his surprise in peace and sadness for not spending some quality one on one time with Noctis.

Emptying his bags, he kept as quiet as possible.

He'd debated for ages if the dish should include vegetables or not. He wanted Noctis to accept him, to agree to mate with him and a lack of vegetables would certainly endear him in the prince's eyes. Yet, it would be remiss of a mate not to look out for his Omega's dietary requirements, so he had come to a compromise of sorts.

No carrots and only a few vegetables to accompany the fish. The sauce contained concealed vegetables puréed into it, with liberal seasoning both to mask the taste and enhance the fish.

A perfect compromise.

He worked on the vegetables first, uncertain how long Noctis would remain asleep, chancing glances up now and then, nicking his finger with the knife more than once.

Ignis couldn't believe he was in this position. When he woke in the mornings, when he went to sleep at night, he had to pinch himself. He was courting Noctis as his Omega. It added a luminosity to the world that he never thought possible, when he caught sight of himself in a reflective surface after thinking about Noctis his cheeks were ablaze with a childlike wonder.

He wasn't in the habit of lying to himself, he knew there was a small splinter of discontentment, a fear that he and Gladio might not be able to make a pack work. His concern was unfounded, Ignis felt no jealousy at watching Gladio and Noctis's relationship unfold, knowing deep in his heart that he was just as valued as an Alpha, that Noctis looked upon him with the same affection and dare he say, love.

Ignis knew Noctis was struggling with self-acceptance, Gladio had noticed also. It was an issue Noctis would come to terms with. He would prove his worth to the Crownsguard in time, and he was close to graduation so his school mates would no longer be an issue.

He wished he was able to remove the fear from Noctis, that he could reassure the Omega that what he was feeling was normal, that to concede, to yield wasn't a weakness and Gladio and Ignis would be here to catch him, he could relinquish control.

It was a difficult thing to do when you were born royal and had been brought up to think like an Alpha.

A thump against his back had him placing his knife down. He washed his hands before he allowed himself to clasp Noctis's joined hands around his middle.

'Sleep well?'

He could feel nodding and he smiled at Noctis's loud yawn. They remained that way for a few moments, Ignis content to feel Noctis leaning against him.

'Whatcha making?' Came the sleepy mumble.

'Well, it was meant to be a surprise, but...'

Noctis peered around him, sniffing at the air. 'You want me to leave and come back later?'

'Not at all.'

'Then... can I help you?'

Ignis turned to face his charge, folding his arms across his chest. 'Now, in all the years I've known you, have you ever offered to help?'

'I'm offering now,' Noctis countered cheekily.

'Well, if that's the case then you can help me by chopping these.' Ignis got the Leiden peppers and sweet potatoes from his bag and placed them in front of Noctis. 'While you are doing that I shall prepare the fish.'

'Fish?' Noctis's smile was infectious.

'Indeed. Now don't turn round, else you'll spoil the surprise.'

'Ok, got it.'

Noctis set to work eagerly, ignoring the peppers in favour of the sweet potato. Ignis quickly filleted the fish, not too trusting of an excited Noctis. Once finished he turned back, smiling as he saw Noctis engrossed in his task.

'The peppers need doing too, Highness.'

'Really? Can't we make do without them? I mean sweet potato with fish is great.'

'That's because they are a carbohydrate, Noctis,' Ignis informed him amused.

'How about you get more bonus points if we have no vegetables tonight?' Noctis looked over his shoulder at him, smile wide, genuine.

It was a delicate thing, courtship. Easy to misplace a foot and the whole thing fall around you. Ignis and Gladio had been cautious in their physical affection, trying to coax Noctis into accepting himself, a part of his psyche that he never knew existed.

As he had on occasion before, Ignis could imagine Noctis's scent, tangible tendrils of it, weaving over his skin. At this close proximity it was tormenting.

'I wasn't aware I was being graded as a potential mate.' Ignis pushed off the counter he was leaning against, his movements slow, sensual.

Noctis turned on the spot, arms falling limp at his sides. It was the Omega's gaze that beckoned him, the beguiling mixed with mischief. Ignis brought his hand up, cupping Noctis's jaw in his hand, moving close enough that their lips were a hairbreadth apart. When he sensed Noctis was about to move, he withdrew, rubbing his nose against Noctis's ear.

'How many points for this I wonder?'

'Not as many as not eating vegetables,' Noctis's voice was hoarse and Ignis suppressed a smile.

'Now, what sort of mate would I be if I didn't look after your health and well being?' Ignis's voice was a purr, his hands wrapping around Noctis's back to support him as he took the Omega's earlobe in his mouth.

'The b...best....ah.... kind,' Noctis stuttered, arms winding around Ignis's neck as his knees went weak, trusting the Alpha to hold him.

'Is that so?' Ignis released Noctis's ear, delicately leaving kisses along the juncture of Noctis's neck, inhaling deeply, drowning in that luscious aroma. 'Advise me more, what else can I do to serve?'

Noctis was silent for a few moments before he breathed his demand.

'Kiss me.'

Ignis skimmed his lips across the smooth skin, pausing just short of his destination, kissing the edge of Noctis's mouth.

'Ignis,' Noctis pleaded, his hands digging into Ignis's chest.

'Anything within my power I will give it to you, I swear it, Noctis.' Ignis pulled away, freeing one of Noctis's hands from its death grip on his shirt, bringing it to his mouth and brushing a kiss over his knuckles.

The Omega whimpered, straining to get closer, but Ignis was cruel, moving away. It was still too soon, the bitter taint of trepidation, while scarcely there could still be smelt, no matter how much Noctis thought he wanted it.

'I can take care of the rest of preparations myself.' Ignis smiled to soften what inevitably would sound like a rebuff.

Noctis looked livid for a moment before it cleared, realising that Ignis would smell his unease, that he was trying to be understanding.

'Alright, I'll leave you to it.'

There was a flash of hurt still evident in his features and Ignis was quick to strike forward, crushing the Omega to his chest. 'When...when you are ready, we will know and nothing will stop us from wanting to be intimate with you.'

'I know, you want me to be sure. Still, it stings.' Noctis tried to laugh.

'If I thought you were ready now, I'd be dragging you to your bedroom. Then I'd show you first hand what it means for an Alpha to take care of his mate.' Ignis growled, holding Noctis tightly before stepping back.

'Not without me I hope,' Gladio murmured from the doorway, grinning at the two of them.

'You're huge, how can you sneak up like that?' Noctis went to his shield, accepting the kiss to his jawbone.

'Years of practice. Smells good, Iggy, is it ready yet?' It wasn't the fish he was inquiring after.

'Almost,' he answered with a slow shake of his head.

'Fair enough,' Gladio ruffled the Omega's hair. 'You're real lucky to be spoilt like this, princess.'

'Why's that?' Noctis grumbled under the heavy hand, struggling to get free.

'Pink Jade Gar isn't in season, it's a pain in the ass to get hold of.' Gladio teased, ignoring Ignis's obvious attempts to get him to shut up, the slashing of his hand across his throat should have been a giveaway.

'Pink Jade Gar? Ignis...you didn't?' Noctis spun, looking up at him with shining eyes.

'I might have known someone who procured some for me, yes,' he answered with a sigh.

'I told you I wanted to try that, like, months ago.' Noctis's mouth was agape.

'I have a good memory.' Ignis turned, feeling warmth in his cheeks.

'Thank you.' The words were quiet, from the heart.

Ignis felt hands trying to turn him and he went willingly, unprepared for Noctis to stand on his tiptoes and press their lips together.

'You're more than welcome, dear heart.'

***

It was a typical Friday evening. The three of them were sharing a couch with Noctis in the middle. Ignis on the left was leafing through a document of some description, occasionally making notes and huffing noises through his nose when a badly worded sentence annoyed him. Gladio was on the right, a book clasped in his hand, free arm propping his head up with an elbow on the back of the couch. Noctis was perched on the edge, engrossed in a film.

Gladio's eyes kept drifting to Noctis, then over his head where they would meet with Ignis's. They shared a small smile, their combined gazes drifting to the content Omega between them. He'd been sceptical about the whole pack idea working out. Despite his reassurances that he could share something precious to him, there was still a part of him that wanted Noctis all for himself, a need to possess the Omega. Yet, there was no ire at Ignis, no resentment or jealousy.

Ignis had been right, they were already like a pack in many ways, and if sharing Noctis meant he could mate with him, then it was only a small sacrifice. He cared about Ignis too, in his own way, not in a romantic sense but in a family way. Ignis truly was his pack brother. They had worked together since they were kids, before their secondary genders had been realised. It was second nature for them to trust each other, to rely on each other

Gladio let the hand that was supporting his head fall, trailing gently over the raised bumps of Noctis's spine. Noctis tilted his head a little, curiosity in his gaze and then returning back to his film when the Alpha did nothing more than graze his fingers up and down his spine.

Ignis was still holding the documents in front of his face, but his gaze was following Gladio's movement, his throat bobbing in a heavy swallow.

Noctis hadn't said no at any point, had been amiable to their courtship. Gladio had to admit to himself, sitting here with the both of them felt right and as natural as breathing, his Alpha instincts agreeing with him.

Gladio couldn't remember being happier.

Slow, cautious, Ignis stretched out his own arm, resting his hand gently on Noctis's knee.

The Omega looked down at it, doing nothing. After a few moments, Noctis's leg pressed closer to Ignis's, a pleased sigh rippling through the Omega's body.

Neither of them were pushing the Omega into a decision, into being intimate. They both knew Noctis wanted to be, responding to kisses, open to affectionate hugs. There was still a reluctance there, an apprehension of the unknown and neither of them were going to mess up, destroying what they were trying to build. Gladio wanted, needed Noctis to believe that they would be here for the long term, that it was Noctis they wanted as a mate, not just because he was an Omega and they were slaves to his scent.

Even if it was excruciating.

Even if it lead to numerous cold showers and frantic jerk off sessions that left his cock feeling red raw.

Gladio's fingers wandered higher, stroking Noctis's nape, lightly running nails through the base of his hairline. He'd read the same line at least a dozen times, so he stopped pretending to read it, watching as Noctis's eyes drifted shut in pleasure. He felt warmth infuse him, not lust but fondness for his charge, feeling satisfaction in Noctis's contentment.

Daring, Gladio let his fingers carry on their sweep, clasping the back of Noctis's head, threading through the soft hair. Noctis was smaller than him, as most people were, but in that moment, his head in Gladio's hand, the prince felt tiny and the urge to hug him was overwhelming.

Lips parted on a near silent whimper.

Gladio's breath caught in his chest as that familiar aroma of arousal coiled around him.

Without the trace of fear.

Book and papers fell to the floor in an instant, both Alphas shifting to look at Noctis.

Slowly.

Gladio manipulated Noctis's head round, his movements measured, precise, at war with his instincts to mate, to claim. He caught Ignis nod at him, approving as Gladio dipped his head down to look at Noctis, his future mate.

Noctis's pupils were wide, eyes heavy-lidded with passion, nervousness and excitement in conflict on his face.

'You set the pace, baby,' he whispered, heart clenching at the look of trust Noctis gave him. Ignis's hand covered Gladio's, the Alpha rubbing his jaw over Noctis's head.

'We're yours to command, Noctis.'

Gladio brought up his free hand to cup the side of Noctis's face, thumb sliding across a warm lower lip. Noctis swallowed, mouth parting, moist breath panting over Gladio's hand.

He moved his head carefully, giving the Omega plenty of time to move, to refuse. Noctis instead stretched up to meet him, his arms going around Gladio's neck. Kissing Noctis, feeling those plush lips open under his own, the sweetness of him was intoxicating and Gladio had to rein in every instinct he had.

Noctis moaned, deep in his throat and Gladio felt a throb of lust streak straight to his cock. Impulses were hard to ignore, but he could do this, could be strong for Noctis, he would not succumb to his own desires.

As soon as he finished the kiss, Noctis was moving to Ignis, arms seeking him out, needing to reassure and be reassured by Ignis.

'It's alright,' Ignis soothed, having his turn to cup Noctis's face. 'I'm not jealous, we're both here for you.'

Gladio rested his nose in the crook of Noctis's neck, nuzzling into the scent gland, swearing under his breath.

Noctis whimpered, unintentionally rising up on his knees from the over stimulation. Ignis had to accommodate, rising himself, claiming Noctis's sinful mouth for his own.

There was something.... stimulating about watching. Imagining what Noctis was feeling, watching his mate succumb to another Alpha, while still clutching hold of Gladio's hand. It was vulnerable, Noctis exposing himself to Gladio's gaze, to both of them. Gladio couldn't quite put it into words.

Although he teased Noctis for being a brat, he wanted Noctis to trust them enough to be selfish in satisfying his desires, to surrender to his urges, allowing his Alphas to do the same.

Noctis gasped into Ignis's mouth as Gladio's hand teased under his shirt, touches feather light, ghosting over Noctis's stomach and ribs.

'Seems he's ticklish, Ignis,' Gladio murmured, chuckling as Noctis squirmed away.

Ignis took off his glasses and then reached for the remote, turning the TV on mute, heightening the sounds of their heavy breathing, Noctis's demanding whimpers.

Gladio pulled the edges of Noctis's T-shirt, teasingly pulling it over Noctis's torso.

Ignis's hand snatched it from his grip, lightning fast.

Green eyes were piercing in the semi-darkness, fierce and angry.

'No,' Ignis snarled.

'What?' Gladio felt rage surge, tension rising in his stomach.

'Ignis, it's ok.' Noctis encouraged Ignis's head down, both hands wrapped around his neck, soothing the Alpha with kisses. 'He's going to see one day, I'm alright with it.'

'We can still be intimate even with your shirt on.' Ignis's voice was low, meant only for Noctis.

The Alpha had it bad. Noctis held him, held them both coiled around his little finger. It was terrifying, the amount of power he had over them.

'What's going on?' Gladio asked, feeling left out. He pulled away Noctis's hand from where it was scratching his neck, recognising it as nerves.

Gladio glanced from where Ignis was still holding the front of Noctis's shirt, balled in his fist, to where Noctis was rubbing his neck with his other hand and the answer came to him.

He'd never seen Noctis's scar.

Gladio hadn't seen Noctis after the Marilith attack, instead choosing to help his charge through it by training harder, making sure Noctis was strong enough to never let it happen again. Ignis had been the one for the emotional support. Another example of their strengths and weaknesses.

He pulled the shirt from Ignis's grasp, ignoring the warning rumble, flashing his own teeth in response to Ignis's threat.

'Sure?' Gladio whispered. The Omega succumbed to his hands, allowing his T-shirt to be pulled up and off him.

Gladio's chest stirred in the beginnings of a fierce growl.

Noctis flinched, seeking Ignis's comfort.

'No, baby, no.' Gladio enticed him back, pressing his lips to the tip of the scar. 'I'm mad because you were hurt, no other reason.'

The skin was ugly, jagged, revealing what Noctis had suffered at the hands of the creature. Gladio's hands stroked it, feeling the ridges and bumps of skin that had knotted back together.

'I won't ever lie to you not even to make you feel better about yourself. This...this doesn't change anything, Noct. You're beautiful.'

Noctis inhaled at the sensation, leaning back against the touch. Ignis watched, his usually perfect hair ruffled, gaze never wavering from Gladio's face. The advisor encouraged Noctis's head down for another kiss, hands splaying over Noctis's taut abdomen.

Lips skimmed over Noctis's throat and Gladio saw a flash of white escape Ignis's mouth as teeth grazed over the spot he intended his claim mark to be. Noctis moaned, one hand twisted in Ignis's hair, the other in Gladio's as the Alpha mimicked what Ignis was doing on the other side of Noctis's throat.

Noctis called Ignis's name as the advisor moved to the Omega's chest. Gladio rested his chin on Noctis's shoulder, watching as Ignis let his tongue flick over the raised nub of Noctis's nipple, hands snaking forward to grip Noctis's hips.

The scent of Noctis's arousal hung thickly in the air, a saccharine sweetness that held Gladio and Ignis paralysed in its web.

Gladio dragged Noctis's zipper down, agonizing in its slowness, still allowing Noctis a way out. This wasn't about them, or claiming, it was for Noctis, a show that they could work together, that they could become a pack, that both Alphas loved him in equal devotion.

No objection was raised and Gladio's name joined the desperate pleas from the Omega. Noctis bowed back against him, head flung over his shoulder, moans tumbling from those tempting lips.

Gladio had to bite the inside of his cheek to stop himself coming in his trousers.

He let out a needy groan, mirrored by Ignis, equally rapt in their attention of their mate. A new aroma had both of them smelling the air, shivering in anticipation as their instincts recognized it for what it was.

Slick.

An Omega's self-lubrication. A sign Noctis wanted to be mated.

Impulses weakened Gladio's command of his instincts, his hand wandering to Noctis's ass, feeling the dampness, closing his eyes as he imagined himself impaling Noctis, or at the very least tasting that slick for himself. Snapping himself free from his passion fuelled fog, he returned to his original goal.

He stroked Noctis through his boxers, hissing in pleasure when the grip in his hair got painful. Gladio shimmed down Noctis's trousers, allowing him to pull the boxers down, freeing Noctis's cock. His hand stroked over it, feeling Ignis's hand join his. Gladio ached to take him in his mouth, taste all of Noctis, commit it all to memory.

Gladio tore his gaze away for a split second to see Ignis's reaction. There was a raw hunger on Ignis's face, a starving man staring at delicious feast, desperately trying to resist.

'You're gorgeous, baby,' Gladio purred into Noctis's ear.

'Exquisite, dear heart,' Ignis exhaled.

They were both fascinated in watching their combined hands bring Noctis to pleasure, their Omega writhing between them. Relentless in their demands, the Alphas used their free hands to trace over supple skin, teeth tracing ears, Noctis's jaw and lips.

'Guys...I'm gonna...I can't stop-'

'Come for us, Noctis,' Ignis begged.

The Omega came undone, crying wordlessly, chest heaving, come covering Ignis's shirt. Ignis swiped his finger through it, carefully sucking the digit clean. He offered some to Gladio, who opened his mouth eagerly, moaning around Ignis's finger.

'That's gross,' Noctis whispered, the burn of embarrassment in his cheeks.

'Alphas have heightened smell and taste, Noctis. To us, nothing tastes better than our Omega.'

The three of them simply held on to each other, Noctis's pants filling the room.

'What about what you want?' Noctis asked once he regained his breath.

'It wasn't for us.' Gladio swept his hand through Noctis's sweat messed hair, kissing his cheek.

'We wanted to please you,' Ignis reassured, rubbing his jaw over Noctis's forehead while removing his shirt.

Gladio watched Noctis wavering, smiling when he saw the exact moment the Omega grabbed hold of his courage.

'No, I want to pleasure you too. I just don't want to make one of you wait.' Noctis moved forward, pulling Ignis's bottom lip into his mouth, the pair of them falling back against the couch.

'That doesn't matter Noctis, don't feel you have to because we have with you. I am more than content with you beside me.'

'Well, if you don't want me to, then I guess I'll just have to go with Gladio.' Noctis gave a self-suffering sigh, getting off Ignis and straddling Gladio's hips. 'Ignis doesn't want me,' Noctis mock moaned, burrowing into Gladio's neck.

Gladio played along, knowing the humour was a front for Noctis's nerves.

'And who said I did? I'm mighty tired you know, working on my muscles and all that.' Gladio chuckled, linking his arms behind his head, dodging away from Noctis's attempts at a kiss. Gladio's nails dug into the back of his neck, desperately trying to distract himself from the half-naked sexy Omega straddling his lap.

Noctis sat back, arms folded over his chest.

'Do I need to beg?' Blue eyes sparkled wickedly in the dim light.

'Try it, princess, I might take mercy on you.' He challenged, falling deeper for the vixen of an Omega, loving the response they were eliciting.

The Omega shifted forward, rubbing his ass over Gladio's erection, his face centimetres from Gladio's.

'Please, Alpha.' Noctis pleaded.

Gladio's mouth went dry, Noctis's use of the word Alpha, the begging lilt to his voice.

'Please, Alphas, let me pleasure you.'

'It wasn't about me not wanting you.' Ignis's voice was dark, predatory, hands coming out to stroke along Noctis's throat.

'Is that so?' Noctis purred, leaning into the touch. 'What to do, what to do.' Noctis shifted on Gladio's lap, lips curving wickedly.

'First one to get his trousers off will get his cock in my mouth.'

There was a frantic scramble, both Alphas struggling, but Ignis won, his shock of the language escaping Noctis's mouth not hindering him, unlike Gladio. Gladio felt irritation swell in him, but knew it would serve no purpose. Patience was the key here.

'You lost Gladio,' Noctis smirked, getting to his knees on the floor, pushing Ignis's legs aside.

'Noctis, don't feel-'

'If you don't shut up Gladio wins,' Noctis snapped, scowling up at Ignis.

Gladio could feel his heart pounding in his chest at Noctis looking that submissive, captive between Ignis's legs, mouth parted as he stared at Ignis's erection. They could feel his trembles as Noctis moved forward, but as requested, neither said a word, letting the Omega have his way.

Ignis moaned, long and deep. Gladio was entranced, imagining that tongue swiping around Ignis's head. He let out a low groan, watching Noctis bob his head, his cheeks expand with Ignis's cock, a thin trail of saliva running down his chin.

Helpless, transfixed Gladio's hand went out tangling in Noctis's hair, encouraging him to move, to swallow Ignis's cock deeper, faster. Two pairs of eyes looked at him, Ignis's passion drunk and Noctis's glittering.

'You lucky son of a -' Gladio yelped as Noctis's hand reached up to stroke his cock, a finger trailing down the length of it.

'Noctis,' Ignis warned, his voice cracking at the end, high pitched.
'Getting close?' The Omega teased, moving away from Ignis. Ignis growled his annoyance, hands attempting to capture Noctis, but the prince was quicker, easily evading.

'Oh no, you don't. I think I kind of like having you speechless at my mercy, makes a nice change for you not to be lecturing me,' Noctis teased.

Never before had Gladio pleaded, but with Noctis settling between his legs, removing his hand from his cock to stroke over his tensed thighs, Gladio felt his resolve crumble.

'Please,' he whispered, hands cradling Noctis's head, thumbs running over swollen lips.

He heard Ignis's sob as Noctis twisted his free hand around Ignis, stroking him. It was soon accompanied by Gladio's loud baritone as the Omega engulfed him.

It was overwhelming. Noctis on his knees, the warm heat of his mouth, the small tongue lapping at his cock, the tiny moans vibrating against his cock. He wanted, he needed to pin Noctis down, to thrust into his body, to sink his teeth into his neck, marking him, claiming him.

'Yeah...like that,' Gladio groaned, hand gripping the arm of the sofa.

The Alphas could only watch on in wonder as the Omega applied himself to make them both feel pleasure. They were undone in a matter of seconds, covering Noctis in tendrils of white, gasping like they'd run a mile. It was intense, far more intense than anything Gladio had ever been able to do for himself, Noctis's scent, the feeling of watching and being watched, the trust Noctis was placing in him, it was all too much, and Gladio never wanted this feeling to end.

Taking a heaving inhale, Gladio smelt it.

Fear.

Despite exhaustion, he leapt up.

Noctis hung his head, hands clasped together and held in front of his chest.

'Baby?' Gladio felt something inside him shrivel and die and it was fucking painful

'Noct? What's wrong?' Ignis reached out, touching the tips of his fingers to Noctis's wrist.

'Nothing, I...' Noctis wouldn't look at either of them in the face.

Gladio pulled Noctis upright, depositing the shaking Omega on his lap.

Ignis got off the sofa, retrieving wet cloths to wash with, depositing his soiled shirt in Noctis's hamper and snagging the thick blanket from Noctis's bed. He handed a cloth to Gladio, nodding in approval as he cleaned their potential mate first before himself. Ignis draped the blanket over the two of them, sitting carefully beside Gladio.

'Will this... being in a pack make you both happy?' Noctis pulled away, twisting so he could look at them, wringing his hands in his lap.

They nodded.

'You're both strong Alphas you could have any Omega you want, you wouldn't even need to share.' Noctis eyes slid to the side, his insecurities playing havoc.

'We both want this, to be part of a pack, with you Noctis as our Omega.' It was Gladio who spoke the words, clear and calm, reaching his hand forward to stop the Omega's fretting.

'We love you Noctis and, without being presumptuous, we're both fond of each other also.'

'You're already a big part of my life, even if you don't want to be. Shield to the Crown, advisor to the Crown, is it just an extension of those responsibilities?'

There it was.

The crux of Noctis's insecurities.

Gladio looked at Ignis, nodding his head towards the Omega, demanding Ignis to make it right.

'Dear heart, you've always been more to us than a prince.'

Blue eyes shimmering with tears looked up, a hiccup escaping Noctis's throat. Ignis smiled as Gladio brought Noctis closer, hugging him to his body, responding to the need to comfort, to reassure.

'This is what we want, Noctis. We'll still be here for you, for Lucis if you don't want this. You don't have to pick us as your mates just because we're the only Alphas you know.' Gladio promised him.

'No matter your decision. We both swear we're here for you. Even if you decide to mate with a different Alpha.'

Noctis fell forward, sobbing, arms wrapping around both their necks, drawing them into a strange triangle hug. They were both there, hands rubbing up and down his back.

'I don't want any other mate, I want to be with you both.'

'Wait,' Gladio asked, a smile splitting his face as he looked at Ignis over Noctis's shoulder, 'does that mean?'

'Noctis? Are you-'

'Yes, yes damn it! I want to be your mate, your Omega, a pack, whatever it is.' Noctis held them both closer, shoulders shaking.

Gladio and Ignis tightened their hold, refusing to look at the other, knowing it wasn't just Noctis shedding tears.

A pack.

A family.

Belonging.



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