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Ivory Tower

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Shining Napoli. Colourful, vibrant, and romantic under the amber sky. Giorno arrives at the lounge, valet takes his car, he buttons his suit jacket and the click of his heels are dulled as he steps on red carpet. The swing music that plays is nearly drowned out by all the conversation. Giorno is greeted with smirks, side glances and a cocktail courtesy of some lady he doesn't know. He approaches the roulette table. 16 Red, 4 Black, and 5 Red. The ball spins and…

16 Red

Player wins.

Incredible! But one win is enough for the newcomer and although his fortune was minor, it has garnered him a few new friends. Pure grandeur. Bright lights in the big city, suits and watches as expensive as the cars, whirlwind romances, and people you don’t really know but they make life interesting.

Dreams.

 

Giorno finds himself leaning on one of the three walls of this bus stop and reminds himself not to. Can’t trust it to really be all that clean. The bus arrives, refreshingly empty for a Tuesday. Only two people are on it; the very obese driver and a man wiping away a tear. Giorno sits on the upper-level of seats and reads a book off his phone. It’ll be a quiet twenty minutes. Should be pleasant, too, if not for the pang of worry that runs through him when the bus turns. Giorno stands and crosses over to the driver, careful as he can on this recklessly moving bus.

“Where are we going?”

“Detour.”

That’s all he has to say. Giorno looks to the other passenger who neither warned him of the detour nor assured him. Too busy, in fact, with wiping the tears from one eye. Giorno sits in the nearest seat but is all eyes and ears now. He thinks, as they pass stops regardless of whether people are waiting, that he can’t be too far from home to walk. He presses the stop button and the next stop should be—

Passed.

“Excuse me,” Giorno calls as he stands.

The day grows dark and the bus is left dark. The driver has not replied. Giorno looks to the Crying Man. He remains seated and is at least looking at Giorno now. He leans on the seat in front of him, resting his chin on a damp sleeve.

“Sit down.”

An order.

It’s a quiet, quiet, ride. The bus stops right outside a crapshack among other shoddy homes and Giorno books it. A little force against the bus doors and they fly open. He left his bag, he left his homework, and he has the police on the phone through his headphones. He names the first street he can see before he’s snatched by the shirt and swung against a wall and punched in the chest. He coughs and doesn't have the strength to swat away the Crying Man as he pats him down and tears the headphones from his ears.

“Where’s the phone?!” he barks.

Giorno’s is quiet. Shaking and shutting his eyes. If he says a word or cries the man will hurt him again. He knows it. The Crying Man stands beside him, lights a cigarette and leans, resting an arm on Giorno’s head. Almost using him as a stool. A car nearly passes by, halts, and reverses a bit. Giorno is forced in the back and the Crying Man joins him. The driver looks forty, wrinkled by frowning too much, and a brush of blonde hair like the American from Street Fighter.

It’s a short drive back to the house and while it looks better inside than out, the air is stuffy. Reeks of smoke and the perfume coming off the woman on the couch. A beautiful Asian woman with a full face of makeup and an age Giorno couldn’t figure out. She stands, straightening her purple dress and with long, white nails, latches onto Giorno’s head and lifts his gaze to meet hers.

“Do you know who I am?”

She’s smiling and her voice is sweet but Giorno knows wicked witches can be like that. He shakes his head with a heart heavy with regret. Well placed regret when she grabs his hair.

“I’m. Your. Mother!” she says with force behind every word.

It’s bullshit, but Giorno’s in no position to disbelieve. His father once said his mother was ‘some Japanese girl’ he met at a party and she looks it. Who the Crying Man, Luca, or the Bus Driver are in all this is never explained. Giorno’s guess is that they are either friends of Mother’s husband; or, the Stepfather.

After the first two hours, it was clear that whatever officer tracing his call had failed. No one, if anyone, who approached this house would be aware of the boy in the basement cold room. The boy who sat with nothing but a giant bag of onions, bread, a bottle of wine, an empty detergent bottle, and baby wipes. And the only person to visit him was Stepfather to make sure he ‘didn’t make a mess or rot’.

Giorno spends his time staring into blackness with the urge to cry at the edges of his eyes coming up every so often. He's so hungry. He's so tired. All the time. And he's so confused. What do these people want? Clearly not him. They must want money so what is taking Father so long? A million means nothing to Dio Brando. Did he refuse to pay? Do they think he's dead? He sits up and drinks some wine. It keeps him warm, helps him sleep, makes time pass, and it only takes a few sips for all that to happen. It’s like a magic potion.

Giorno loves books. He’s read the Hobbit, Harry Potter, and Treasure Island and is was reading the Colour of Magic before his capture. So if not his ‘potion’ he has his own stories to keep him occupied. A tale about the Ladybugs of Light (fireflies make more sense but ladybugs are cute) going to war with the Sinister Spiders. He’d blend his story with his explanations for all the heavy footsteps and shifting furniture he can hear from above. There’s probably some yelling and bottle-throwing going on up there but, to him, it sounds like the low rumbling of a storm.

Maybe he can offer to clean the house. He’ll be quiet and clean and learn to cook in exchange of a little food, access to an actual bathroom, and light. He’ll never be able to go to school, see Marco or Trish again, but he'd be alive. His chance to ask comes when he hears the basement door open. But Stepfather sounds like he’s in a rush. Upset. He’s never happy to collect the detergent bottle Giorno's has been using as a toilet but maybe if he let him use the actual bathroom—

Giorno gets himself into the farthest corner and shields his eyes from the upcoming burst of light.

“Holy shit…”

Giorno peeks through his fingers and attempts to adjust. Blue slacks? Glossy oxfords? Father?! When he hears the light switch, he lowers his hand. The dim light of the rest of the basement allows him sight of an officer. Which is even BETTER than Father. Officer Abbacchio is strong and handsome and gave Giorno his sunglasses to help him with the light. He’s a God-damn Saint. Giorno wants to give him a million euro and he’s just… He’s so happy to be free.

Officer Abbacchio was here because of a domestic call and somewhere in the details of Mother’s records there was mention of a child taken from her, known now as Giorno Brando.

There was something in the wine, they said. So what Giorno guessed was three days was actually nine. And you'd think that being trapped in the dark would make freedom so much more of a priority for a ten-year-old. A ‘normal’ kid would take that experience and spin it for the better. Be a bit apprehensive about meeting people, sure, but make up for it by becoming physically strong, mentally tough, growing up to be an officer like their hero. They wouldn't hide. They wouldn't fear the world.