You had always figured that you could trust him. You thought he was your protector.
You would have never assumed he could be such a monster.
This was like some kind of cruel deja vu. The typically gorgeous Duscae highlands were infected with the fog that you could so distinctly recall lingering around the Behemoth, back when you and your friends had so bravely taken on that unenviable hunt.
Yet now, the beast that chased you was decidedly human in shape, and hardly reluctant, nor so foolish as to assume you weren't there. Gladio had no blind spot.
He knew exactly where you were, and he was coming.
Still, you were perhaps a fool for trying to hide and run from him still. You hurried and hid behind jagged rocks and outcrops, panting and trying to catch your breath after bounding and scrambling across the mist and dew ridden grass so speedily. Your chest had never felt so pained. Now you were almost regretful that you hadn't opted to train more with the man when he'd offered it.
Too bad, eh? Back then...you hadn't known him to have this side. He was kind of gruff, and maybe a little temperamental at times, but never cruel with it.
“[Y/N]! I can see you! Come back here, and maybe I'll go easy on you! Hahaha!”
His bellowing laugh was a mockery. 'Go easy on you'? Was he really going to hurt you for trying to run away from him?
No...you already knew the answer to that. He'd provided it back when you'd tried to walk away from him a few days ago. He'd assumed you were going to follow Prompto into the Chocobo Ranch, and he'd seized your arm before you could get far.
You could still remember how hard he'd squeezed you, like he didn't care how overpowering his strength was. Like he wanted you to know he was so much tougher than you were.
Maybe back then you should have predicted an outcome like this.
Where the others were, you didn't know, as Gladio had brought you away from the camp for some early morning 'training', and instead turned the tour into a hunt. You felt like something worth a bounty as he had suddenly turned on you and tried to grab you and pull you back to him, almost losing his cool for a moment as he proclaimed:
“I love you! Don't you understand that!? Get it through your damn skull [Y/N]!”
He'd hammer it in there if he caught you, you were sure of it. Things had taken such a violent turn that you'd tried to run for it as soon as he swung for you, attempting to knock you out for whatever twisted reason. If this was 'love' then you didn't know what to say, you just wanted to spit on it and forget the whole incident had ever happened. How could he force something like that upon you?
Did he really think you'd love him in return if he made you?
How could he not see that you were far more inclined towards the gentle, childish ways and mannerisms of Prompto?
Or maybe he did see. Maybe that was only fuel to the fire, maybe that was yet another reason why he had chosen to chase you down.
Love born out of fear. Yes...Gladio would catch you, and when he did, he'd simply make you wish you'd said 'yes' to him when he first asked. His usual sparring would be amped up to a degree you'd barely survive.
He didn't feel like being messed around with. He didn't want to candy coat anything anymore. He was getting what he wanted from you, and he was getting it right now, today.
“Come on, the longer you try to stay away from me, the harsher I'll be with you! I might just end up killing you if we're not careful!”
He sounded so horribly jovial about it. You could hear him coming closer to your current hiding place, heavy boots trudging all too causally across the earth, flattening the grass beneath their soles. You didn't especially want to get your head kicked in with those, and so you made moves again, scrambling down the slope and desperately trying to find another spot to hide yourself.
“[Y/N]...come back here...”
Your frantic hands pulled and tugged up blades and small clumps of dirt with how haphazardly you were moving forwards, until suddenly your front slapped up against a stone wall. Jerking back, you initially felt a surge of panic as you realized you'd crawled right across the ground and up to a blockade of rock. Then though, you happened to notice a small passageway, hopefully too small for Gladio to follow through given his brawn physique.
Not caring if you found Goblins in there, you hurried and forced your way inside it, delving deeply into the darkness. In the distance you swore you could still hear Gladiolus, but you ignored him, and just kept on going until you finally reached an opening.
Then, with a gasp, you emerged into a large clearing.
Instantly you felt awash with relief. Sun beams warmed your skin, the air no longer chilled, just fresh and crisp as any good morning should be. The trees were fully visible, the fog behind you now. As you straightened up and stood again, you hurried forth with a smile, knowing you'd made it out of there.
Sadly though...you weren't quite out of the frying pan yet.
For as soon as you picked up any sort of pace, you emerged through the trees and met another stone wall again. Stumbling backwards, you figured it was just another random rock face, maybe just a big boulder, only to swiftly discover that the stone stretched in a circle all around the perimeter of this grassy clearing.
In essence, you were trapped. And the only way out was through that passageway again. Of course, you didn't want to go back there, especially if Gladio had managed to get through, so you leapt up against the nearest face of stone and tried to get a grip to climb.
No luck. You tried in various places, but couldn't find any hold at all. The rock wasn't uneven enough, and was just too steep. You were effectively caged in amongst it. Trapped, and this time you really had nowhere to go.
Things could only get worse...and they swiftly did.
“Man...bit of a tight squeeze, but hey, I made it.”
There he was. You could hear him behind you, and you slowly, tearfully, turned to face him. Gladio was there indeed, having emerged from the short cave, brushing off his leather pants and fixing his jacket again. He grinned with a maniacal touch when he saw you, and you quickly backed up against the stone, whimpering as he advanced on you.
“Didja think I would get stuck in there or something? Think I wouldn't make it?”
Gladio only laughed, closing in steadily until he finally had you utterly and helplessly pinned. Your veins felt like icicles, and when you tried to dive aside and hurry back through the gap, he was quick to thrust his hands either side of you and cage you in, preventing you from running anywhere.
“Ah ah ah. I'm only just getting started with you, [Y/N]. Now then...” When Gladio was certain you knew you stood no chance of running, he removed his hands and started cracking his knuckles right in front of you. You winced and cringed with every snap of the bones, knowing that you would be like paper against this brute. He'd pummel you, and if that didn't kill you, it would sure make you his. Too weakened to do anything else, the 'love' part would come in due course.
But you didn't want that. It was the last thing you wanted, and in your desperation your knees buckled and you dropped down to the grass, kneeling right before his gargantuan figure. Your trembling hands reached up to clutch onto his legs and wrap around them, expression pleading while you begged:
“Please don't hurt me! Gladio I'm begging you! Y-you'll break me!”
Gladiolus hummed for a moment, allowing his own strong hands to relax a bit. Then, he slowly crouched down, until he was hovering much more closely over you, and he could easily take hold of your chin and make sure you looked at him. You were still clinging to his legs somewhat then, ceaselessly desperate.
“...Maybe it's what you deserve, [Y/N]. After leading me on for so long, taking advantage of the fact that I love you and would do anything for you. Relying on me to protect you all the time, and yet never giving me anything in return except a worthless little smile. How is that fair?”
So he thought it was all justified. Instilling this fear into your heart, lording his power over your body so that you never so much as glanced at another man again. Punishing you so you'd stop 'misbehaving' as he so self-righteously saw it.
He really did think you deserved this...
His thumb pressed against your cheek, and you closed one eye in reaction. His tanned face moved ever closer, voice sounding right by your ear as he pressed your body much more firmly against the rock behind it. You could feel his broad chest against your own, almost sense his disturbingly calm heartbeat.
“You can beg me as much as you like. You can insist you love me even if it's not true. You can do whatever you want to do in order to protect yourself, since I won't do it anymore...”
His lips pressed to your cheek, and you winced again. It was a heated kiss...there was a strange sort of passion to it.
“...I love you [Y/N]. I always have and I always will. But let's just admit it.”
Gladio pulled back then, and looked right at you with those stark amber eyes. His grip on you was as firm as ever, and his words as cold as they could be.
“Maybe you deserve to be broken.”