On the Road to Galdin

They were supposed to be at Galdin Quay tonight. Galdin wasn’t Insomnia, of course. Nothing was Insomnia. But he’d heard descriptions of it. It was picturesque. The salt air was refreshing. The seafood was the best on the continent. Their room, the room rented for them before they left, was said to be directly over the water, and offered a southern view towards Accordo. Noctis could picture it now. Warm and breezy with soft beds and linen sheets and just the faintest scent of sea salt in the air. He wondered who was sleeping in that room tonight, now that everything had just gone to complete and utter dogshit.

First the car had broken down. Then they had to push it all the way to Hammerhead through Leide, Eos’ sandy asscrack. And then that other sandy asscrack, Cid, had taken all their money to fix the car and his granddaughter was taking her sweet time fixing the thing, and then they had the audacity to put them to work for money! His father had made him take jobs while he was in high school, he wasn’t averse to a little work. But they could have just billed the Citadel and fixed the car and let them get on their way. The old man apparently went way back with his old man, he should have known the money would come. Instead they spent all day in the dirt and the scrub, first using their fine Lucian weapons to kill giant scorpions, and then looking for some hunter who can’t even do his own job and then they almost gotten eaten by the biggest…anything he’d ever seen, and what do they get at the end of the day? A little money slipped on the down low from Cindy, a promise for more work if they want it, and an invitation to rent the caravan for the night.

Sweet peanut butter and jelly Bahamut on a pink chocobo, a caravan.

“Ooh, it’s retro,” Prompto had said.

“That’s one word for it.” He had honestly tried hard to keep the sneer out of his voice, but could tell from the look he had gotten from Gladio that he hadn’t been successful.

“It’s got all it needs – four walls, beds, and protective lights-”

“A chocobo shower curtain!” Prompto had called from down the hall.

Yes, it did have all that. A kitchen, a sitting area, two sets of bunk beds, and a bathroom. All in a space that could have fit in his closet. Hard surfaces were dirty. Soft surfaces were ratty. There were ants in the sink, duct tape on one of the windows, and the undeniable funk of old BO in the air. If it were up to him he would dose the entire thing in antiseptic and then light it all on fire. At least Prompto was enjoying himself.

“Ooh, bunk beds! I haven’t slept in one of those in….a long time, anyway. I call top bunk! Ooh, someone left books in this drawer. Scintillating Daemon Succubi. What’s a succubi? Oh…Oh, no, never mind. Hey, look, an oven! Ignis, look at this thing!”

Ignis had been outside figuring out how to put gil into the rental box, and when he came in Noctis was relieved to see him wearing a face that matched his own.

“Yes, it’s, ah…something,” Ignis had said, pushing his glasses up his nose.

“What do you say? Think you could cook on it?”

“Well, I…let’s see.”

Ignis had examined the oven, wincing at the creaking sound the door had made as it opened. Then he’d tried the stove. It had clicked, but there was no gas.

“It appears to be broken,” he’d said, with obvious relief. “We’ll just have to see what the, ah, Pit Stop has for us tonight.”

“I’ll go scope it out!”

Prompto had been out the door before anyone could stop him.

“At least someone’s having fun,” Ignis had said.

“Is it really broken?”

Ignis had given him that ghost of a sly smile he had.

“Tell him or Gladiolus and I will be forced to extreme measures.”

Takka’s food hadn’t been bad, but it was just too different for him to really enjoy it. The meat was tough and the dish was too heavy on spices, and he was sure he was going to have a continued ally against this madness in Ignis, but Iggy apparently liked the food. Just a few bites in and he had already forgotten his disdain for the caravan and was instead trying to recreate the dish for later.

Then came the last ugly straw. The list of things they didn’t have outside the city had been growing all day, but once he found out it included Iron Giant Ale, he was ready to throw in the towel and just walk back to Insomnia.

Right. And say what to his father?

“The car broke down and people were mean to me and they didn’t have my favorite beer. You sent me into a sandy squalor filled with backwoods heathens.”

Yeah. That’d fly.

He’d kept his peace, eating their meal, chatting with Cindy outside the caravan for a little bit, shuffling about the interior of the caravan as everyone fought for the bathroom. Thankfully, after finding those books, even Gladiolus admitted they should probably strip the beds and use their own sheets and blankets. He’d been so exhausted from the car pushing and the running and the varmint huntin’ that he’d assumed that even on those cheap mattresses he’d be asleep before he could start imagining the bed bugs.

Well, you know what they say about assuming. Hours later and he was still staring at the bottom of the top bunk. He could hear Ignis lightly snoring and Gladio doing that weird clicking thing in the back of his throat. From outside, he could faintly hear the canned, tinny music from the gas station and the occasional clanging coming from the garage. There was no lapping of the waves. No sea smell.

“Noct? Are you still awake?”

“Yeah, Prompto,” Noct said, matching his friend’s half-whispered volume.

“I can’t sleep, either,” he said. “It’s too quiet.”

“Too quiet? Even with that awful jangly music and Cindy banging around in the garage?”

“I live above the fish market, dude. If there isn’t at least four separate screaming conversations about the freshness of bass, it might as well be the middle of the day.”

“There’s no one screaming about fish. But, there’s always someone working. Trucks coming in and out. And the sound of the crystal. And on nights when it’s warm enough to leave the windows open, I can hear the city. Yeah, maybe it is too quiet.”

“Still, though. Cool caravan.”

“Yeah,” Noct said, glad Prompto couldn’t see his eye roll. “Cindy seems nice.”

“Oh, for sure! Better than nice, I think.”

“Nicer than her grandfather.”

“Seriously,” Prompto said, and then turned his voice into a low, grizzly grind. “Stand up straight boy.”

“Look at them city clothes,” Noct said, trying the same. “Ought to teach you boys a lesson from being from the city.”

Prompto snickered. When he spoke again, it was own voice, serious this time.

“Hey, Noct? I’m sorry. About today.”

“Why? Wasn’t your fault.”

“Right, I mean, I know…I just mean…it sucks. I know you were excited to see Lady Lunafreya. Now who knows how long it’ll take us to get down to Galdin.”

He’d been trying very hard not to think about Luna, mostly because he didn’t like the way his brain went with it. They’d kept in touch through Umbra. He remembered loving her when they were kids, the way kids do. But they hadn’t seen each other since they were eight, and just like that, they were supposed to get married? He wanted to see her, it just…felt like a lot.

“The wedding’s not supposed to be for a few weeks. I’m sure we’ll make it in time. I did want some extra time in Altissia, though.”

“Me, too. Good food. Waterfalls. I hear the fishing’s good there, too.”

“Really? I-”

“Ladies,” Gladio’s voice made them both jump. “I hate to interrupt this sleepover before the hair braiding starts, but if the two of you don’t shut up you can take it outside with the daemons.”

“Sorry.”

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