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Following Stars

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He was a beautiful man.

Blond, tall, slim but with muscle. His face was hidden away in shadows, but you were able to see some glimpses of his strangely colored eyes. He was so stunning, that he managed to distract you long enough for you to lose sight of your tourist guide. You would’ve been worried, but you knew where your hotel was, so there was no reason for you to panic. It was late at night, but you couldn’t help but follow the man with such a beautiful figure to an alley on the side of a crowded road.

He was talking with someone, a man. That person was also beautiful, his skin dark and his hair up in such a strange way it made him stand out. He didn’t see you, but he jumped inside of a building and ran away before you could understand what was happening between the two strangely stunning men. It was only the blond stranger, then. You were confused, but unafraid. What a strange, otherworldly creature he was.

The moon was shining down on him, making him seem like a ghost or a hallucination. “What are you doing there?” He spoke, his voice smooth as silk itself. He did not sound angry at all, and you gave two or three steps towards him – finally looking at his face. His nose was long, his lips voluptuous, a feature so very rare in men of his complexion. He coughed, as if to get you out of your daydreaming and to make you quit staring. “I’m sorry.” Your voice echoed in the alley, even though you spoke so low. “I just happened to see you and I thought you were very beautiful, and I couldn’t help myself? I apologize for interrupting.”

You didn’t do much interrupting though. Whoever the other man was, he seemed like he didn’t want to deal with whoever this person was supposed to be. He smiled, showing fangs that were far too big to be normal. But you were not afraid. He was… far too beautiful to make you fear.

There was also something strange in his eyes. You couldn’t put words into what it was, but perhaps it was an empty feeling, an absence of something, that was written all over his expression, even if he was smiling. “My name’s Dio.” He didn’t ask for your name when he extended his hand to greet you, but you whispered it anyways, meeting his handshake, your fingers trembling slightly against his abnormally cold skin. “Do you want to come home with me?” You didn’t know what possessed you to follow him.

On the way, through the many streets in Cairo, he kept a silence that was very solemn. His back was completely straightened, his gaze always above everyone’s heads. He was, perhaps, like an angel looking down to the people below. Truly, a masterpiece walking among humans. Michelangelo, maybe, would’ve sculpted a man so perfect, and even then, you still had your doubts. “Who are you, Dio? Are you a native? Son of immigrants?” He looked at you, then. With his strangely colored eyes saying words he could not express. “I’m not… from here.”

You didn’t understand why, but it did not seem as if he meant ‘here’ as a location, but ‘here’ as something else entirely. You nodded, accepting his answer. “I’m not from here either, I came here with a tour.” Innocently, you replied. It was a very one-sided conversation, but if you were to accompany him home, you wanted to continue to talk to him; to this strange, hypnotizing man. “Cairo has been everything but what I expected. So many kind people! The only thing I did expect was the heat.” At nights, it was colder, but on the days, the heat was enough to make one go insane.

“Heat must be something that bothers humans, I suppose.” He answered shortly, simply. Humans? He had a sick sense of humor. One of ‘those’ type of men, huh? Well… a sort of downfall must come with having such a beauty, you supposed. “What about your family? Aren’t they in the tour with you?”

“I have none. I’ve been an orphan for as long as I can remember. But being lonely allowed me to focus on working and exploring the world.” You weren’t sad about the people you never knew. You couldn’t feel sadness over something you never had to begin with. Sadness wasn’t the word you’d use, but there was an emptiness to the loneliness of having no past whatsoever, but, at least, you had freedom. Dio’s gaze morphed, and the sadness in his eyes became even more apparent. You didn’t want his pity. You raised your hands and shook your head rapidly. “That’s nothing, though! I’ve lived a good life. What about you, Dio? What about your family?”

Ah, from sadness, to coldness… his gaze truly spoke much about who he was, didn’t it? “I also have none.”

You nodded, understanding that to some it might be a sore subject. “So, we’re equals.” That was all that it occurred to you to say that was fine. You didn’t want to tell him you were sorry, for it was probably unwelcomed, and you didn’t want to push him too hard. He was, after all, as intimidating as he was beautiful. He was surprised by your words, his mouth opening to say something that was left unspoken. He seemed to be both amused and offended, maybe more offended than amused.

His house — a mansion, honestly, was enormous. The door, mahogany of an extreme quality. It was opened by a man with a strange facial structure, young, young. He was surprised when he saw Dio along with someone else. You weren’t an expected guest – obviously. Dio introduced you with a monotone, and yet silky voice. The man, strangely attractive and with a poise and grace unique, introduced himself as Terence D’Arby.

“Would you want some wine?” He asked after closing the door behind you and Dio. You wondered if the question was directed towards you or his master.

“Two cups, Shahrazade is fine.” Shahrazade was a good red wine; a bit of acidic aftertaste. So, you were supposed to drink with him – that was fine. Today, you pushed your boundaries beyond imagination by following a man home without a single care for your safety. What more could you do to worsen your situation? You were already trapped. He led you through endless halls – a home so strangely designed you had to wonder how you were supposed to get out if you had to run. The answer was simple, you wouldn’t be able to run out if the worst came to happen.

In the end, the seemingly endless walking concluded when the two of you reached an extravagant library. Something out of a fairy tale. So many books, so so many books it didn’t matter where you looked, there simply was no end to them. Your face turned to Dio, your eyes almost out of their sockets. “Who are you, Dio?”

“Your equal. Or so you say.” That answer made no sense to you, it was so out of place. But then again, you dared to say you were his equal even without knowing a single thing about him. The man possessed a library inside his home that was probably able to compete against the Vatican’s archives. The amount of money that one must possess to have these many books was beyond incredible. You got closer to the shelves, looking at the books. First editions, especial editions, hand-written masterpieces. All these works were history itself on your fingertips – you were even afraid to touch some of them, the pages so old they could turn into dust at any moment. “When you see this, what you think?”

The honest answer was power. Whoever possessed so much knowledge in their hands had to be incredibly powerful. So that was what you whispered to Dio, who was surprisingly close to you. You were almost able to feel the cold that irradiated from his body. As if he wasn’t even alive. “What would you do, with power?”

“I don’t know, I don’t think much on what I would do with power. It’s a concept so abstract I prefer to think what I would do with money. Last time I thought that, I said I wanted to go to Egypt. And here I am. I live by what I say.” You smiled up to him, resting your back on the bookshelf, looking up to his gorgeous face. “But, unlike me, you do have power and you seem to be intelligent. What are your plans?” You wanted to ask why he seemed so sad. That question was burning deep within your heart. Why every time he opened his eyes did, he seem so empty, so hollow. Terence brought the two glasses of Shahrazade, and Dio passed one of them two you – as soon as the cups were in Dio’s hands, Terence vanished without leaving a single trace of his presence in the library.

Dio took one sip from his glass. He was educated, the way he glamorously held the cup told that he must’ve been raised in a rich household. “That’s a story for another time.” You only nodded and took a sip of the wine yourself. As you had predicted, it was acid. A taste very similar to the man before you. “To be honest with you, I had the intention of eating you.”

You tilted your head, confusedly. Perhaps he meant in a sexual way? You didn’t understand. If so, you didn’t really think of yourself capable of sleeping with a man you met walking on the streets. If he meant in… another, more sinister way, you were perhaps the teeniest bit scared. But there was something about him, about Dio, that didn’t completely let you be ‘afraid’ of him, not entirely, at least. “But… you are strange. So, I will not.”

You simply stared at him, expecting an explanation. But the explanation didn’t come. You did not pursue the rest of that conversation; you simply took another sip of the wine offered to you. He leaned down, his hand just above your head, colliding with a group of books so tightly put together that they barely moved against his palm. His lips touched yours lightly, it was barely even a kiss, so chaste and discrete it felt as the entire night, like a hallucination. It lasted less than a second, and when he pulled back, he simply turned around.

Your heart was pounding against your chest, you were confused, and the glass of wine was trembling slightly, held delicately by two of your fingers. “You shall stay here.” So, you did. Either way, the manor was so big and complex that, no matter how much you tried to escape it on your own, you wouldn’t be able to. And anyways, you were far too curious about the man whose eyes looked for light, even in the depths of darkness.

Many months passed, months in which you discovered what Dio meant when he said ‘eat’ and what he meant when he referred to you as ‘human’. Dio ate women. Well… he didn’t ‘eat’ them whole. He drank their blood. He told you he needed it to continue to live. You believed him. None of the women who he ate were unwilling, either, so it made it a bit easier for you to swallow. All of them wanted to give themselves to Dio, as if he was some sort of God. It was strange, really, that you did not feel any sort of disgust towards the idea of them wanting to die by his hand. He was, after all, really something otherworldly. So perhaps dying by him would feel as pleasurable as his presence alone.

In the months that passed, you did not only continue to keep Dio company, but you also met the many people that worked underneath him for a goal. What goal? No one dared to share it with you. But you did notice, that it was as if Dio was working to archive something, and Enya – the old woman who Dio used as the representative for whatever this organization was – was working for another thing altogether. While Enya worked to the bone to collect people who would meet Dio’s expectations, Dio just counted a handful as people that were truly of his interest. You noticed that, because he would mostly speak with the same small group, ignoring the presence of everyone else in the mansion.

It was on a cold night in which you sat beside Dio’s bed when he asked you a strange question. “What do you think Heaven is?”

Heaven. That was something very abstract. Different from all the other questions he had asked you. What was ‘Heaven’, for you? Was it a place? Was it a feeling? “Happiness is Heaven, I guess.”

He chuckled to that answer, and it was a sound so uncharacteristic coming from him. “I think Heaven is… the future.”

” The future?” Your question echoed around the darkened room. He nodded, but he did not proceed to extend his idea. He just kept writing in a small notebook that he had over his legs. “What are you writing?” You stood up from your chair and sat next to him in his bed, looking down to the notebook. It was a combination of words, something like a lullaby. He didn’t hide it, nor did he try to push you away when you rested your head on his shoulder. “…Spiral staircase, rhinoceros beetle, ghost town, fig tart, rhinoceros beetle, road to Dolorosa, rhinoceros beetle, singularity, Giotto, Angel, hydrangea, rhinoceros beetle, singularity, secret emperor…” You read out loud.

“Fourteen secret words to reach ‘Heaven’.” What was that Heaven he spoke of? The Heaven Christianity spoke of? The Heaven the old ladies at the store speak of? Which was that Heaven he wanted to go to? “Don’t tell Enya.”

“I won’t. But…”

“I’ll tell you someday.” But that day, was not today. “What do you think makes a person evil?”

He was asking too many complicated questions, things that depended too much on the morals of the person he asked it to. Your morals were standard – perhaps not standard enough to be perturbed by him drinking the blood of women, but standard enough to comprehend what pure evil looked like. Enya’s son was pure evil. He was a dark soul. It was different to Dio’s, whose soul, even if dark, it was more pained than evil. “Enya’s son. I don’t know what made him evil, but I know he is evil.”

“Do you dislike him?”

“Yes, I do. But you need him for something, and I do not question you.” You felt him nod against your scalp. “You want to reach something that’s so beyond my understanding… but honestly, I just want to see the sadness off your eyes.” The sincerity escapes your lips before you could contain the words.

“Sadness? That’s what you see in my eyes?” He sounded sincerely curious. “Why do you think is that?”

“Honestly I’m surprised you’re not angry.” You sighed in relief.

“Oh, I am fuming but I do want to know why you see sadness in my eyes.” You snorted. He was probably truly angry, and deep down you were afraid. But he was so nonchalantly honest; that always caught you off guard. He was, over all things, not a liar. There was, perhaps, something noble there. “I think you miss something.” You answered his question, and knelt in the bed, looking at his face. “What do you miss, Dio?”

He didn’t answer, but he leaned in, looking at you with his strangely colored eyes. You felt his cold forehead touching against yours, and his hands resting against your neck, right above your jugular. Even from up-close, where every imperfection of the skin should be visible, he had not a single wrinkle, not a single mark on his angular beautiful face. You closed your eyes after a few seconds, and felt his icy lips touching yours. It was delicate, but it was also hungry. As if asking something from you.

His kisses weren’t romantic, for he wasn’t romantic, but they were passionate. They burnt even though his touch was so crisp. Neither of you were noisy; you, because you were used to your own silence, him, perhaps because of the same. So, the room was filled, not with noises of endless and fake moans, but with the sounds of mouths dancing with each other.

He abandoned your lips, leaving you yearning for his biting touch. His hand still resting on your neck, feeling your accelerated pulse underneath his thumb. “… They’ll come, soon.”

You panted, trying your best to recover your breath. “… who? Who’s coming, Dio?”

“My past, my past is coming.” He stood up from the bed then and left you without saying another word. You stayed there, in the bed, confused. Dio had left on the mattress the notebook in which he was writing. You thought that, maybe, if you read it, you would understand Dio better – but, it was one silent boundary that you did not dare cross. His mind, his deepest regrets, those were things you wanted to listen from him, not steal from his plastered thoughts.

You were on Dio’s bed, the one on his main room – where he did not eat. He disliked changing the sheets, or so he said. You were reading one of the many books Dio had at his disposal, you did not have much else to do other than read and listen to Dio speak. The servants at the manor had taken a dislike to you, and for such a reason, you tried your best not to engage into much conversation with anyone. Midler was especially nasty to you; she would call you whore whenever she had the chance. And of course, you would stand such insult, because Dio needed these people, for what? You did not know.

Terence was the only one who was kind to you, always giving you food and treating you with the respect you deserved. Enya… Enya was like the others. Always asking Dio why keep a pest like yourself. Everyone but Terence probably considered you a pet of sorts, and it was a strong probability that you were indeed a pet to Dio, but you did not want to think of yourself so lowly when you declared yourself his equal.

You had just barely read three pages when Dio came inside of the room, lying on the bed, his head atop of your covered thighs. He seemed frustrated; an emotion so relatable to humans that it felt almost out of place to see Dio having such a feeling. You closed your book, leaving it beside you, and your hand went to his blond hair, ruffling his strands while he hugged your thighs above the sheets. It was a… a pose so very childish. So very… innocent. He wanted to be held, and… perhaps you were starting to understand where his sadness laid. “What happened?” You sweetened your voice as much as you could and asked as softly as possible.

“They’re getting closer.” The ones who were coming. You heard one of the many servants refer to them as the ‘Joestar group’. This was what was keeping him on edge, lately. Whoever they were, they caused Dio much distress. “And I’m still so far…”

“From Heaven?” He didn’t reply, but you knew. You decided to recite the words you read back in his notebook to him, as if to calm him down. Low, soft, you repeated it once and over again as a mantra. When he loosened his grip around your thighs, you whispered “Fourteen secret words to reach Heaven. We will reach heaven, Dio.”

That was when you truly considered yourself his equal, when he nodded and closed his eyes. He showed himself weak to you, vulnerable to you. If all others thought of you as his pet, you would let them, but as of right now, you were the only one who had this ‘power’. No Stand, for you were no Stand User, but you were the only one who could see ‘this’ Dio. This was your ‘Heaven’. A place where you were able to ‘belong’.

He fell asleep, not long after. You continued to sooth him away. There was some comfort in his fear, in his anxiety. He could hide away it away from his subordinates, he could try to hide it from himself, but you were able to see. See him for the man he was. Lonely. Lonely and scared. Why? You didn’t know. But you would find out soon enough. That was the way to find the ‘Heaven’ Dio spoke of.

Slowly, the house was becoming emptier and emptier. The only constant presence was Terence. You and Terence would sometimes play video games, just to kill time, and, after a while, after much talking was said and done, he finally showed you the power of his Stand. You could not see the ‘Stand’ itself – and if it wasn’t because Dio had showed you the power of The World you would’ve thought they were simply a bunch of hysterics sharing a ceiling – but Terence’s Stand was basically one who allowed Soul manipulation. He could take out the soul of a body and insert it in dolls.

In a previous conversation with Dio, you had established that you could distinguish what was evil from good, even if your moral compass was biased – because you were perfectly capable of ignoring Dio’s eating habits. Terence was, however, not Dio, so his stand was for you, what you’d define as ‘evil’. Of course, you tried your best to hide it, and you acted as if you were impressed, and he seemed as if he was a child showing off a normal collection, happily pointing out the deepest secrets of each of his dolls.

You forced yourself to listen to him. To listen to each of the details and smile. Because Dio needed him, and you couldn’t bear to cut contact with the only person that treated you humanly other than Dio. So, you faked, faked to be impressed, to be astonished – being an orphan taught you how to put on a mask. And he swallowed it whole. You made sure that he never asked yes or no questions, so he couldn’t read, and the one who spent most of the time talking was you, as if eating away every chance he had to see your true emotions.

Terence grew used to showing you his collection, so you simply accepted his invitations each time, especially since Dio was not at the manor and had not been at the manor for a few days. When he finally made it back home, back into his room where you were waiting, you could not help it and threw yourself at him, hugging him close. He tensed for a second, then, his body relaxed underneath your touch. “What happened?” He asked you, as his hand rested atop of your head, caressing you. This was it; this was happiness, this was ‘Heaven’. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I can’t.” You whispered once and over again against his chest.

He sighed and picked you up. He took a sit on the bed, and you straddled him between your thighs, still hugging his neck and with your face buried underneath his chin. “You saw Terence’s power, didn’t you?” He asked and you nodded. He simply continued to caress you. “But I do so much terrible… no. I do what must be done. And yet…” For the first time, he sounded unsure.

You shook your head. “You’re not the same. You’re my ‘Heaven’.” He took hold of your face, and made you look at his strangely colored eyes. “I’m not Heaven, but I’ll help you reach heaven, foolish woman.” His brow was so furrowed, he was so concerned. Your hands went to his face, and you touched underneath his eyes. He was so perfect, not a single wrinkle in his beautiful face. “For all I know, this room, with you, this is ‘Heaven’.” Terence wasn’t part of that Heaven, no one in this manor was part of that place. No one, not even in the new hideout would be part of this. This was yours, and yours alone.

He kissed you, and it had the taste of an apology.

They had broken inside the new hideout. The Joestar group. You and Dio were in bed, he was writing on his small notebook, and you were beside him, your hand atop of his cold forearm.

If he stayed, so would you. The sound of fighting was distant, but ever present inside of the darkened room. Vanilla Ice, a man Dio had recruited not long ago, entered the room with a face filled with determination, not a trace of fear. “D’Arby has fallen. The groups are divided into two, Jotaro Kujo, Joseph Joestar and Noriaki Kakyoin are one team, Jean Pierre Polnareff, Mohammed Avdol and Iggy are another.” He recited, as if he had learnt that phrase and it was simply something he was meant to say in front of a crowd, in a theater.

And as such, Dio answered with something akin. Dio wanted proof of Vanilla Ice’s loyalty. So, he asked the man for blood. Without much doubt, Vanilla Ice chopped his head off, leaving you nauseous and Dio impressed. While you loved Dio, adored him and would do absolutely everything for him, you couldn’t understand the sadistic tendencies of his subordinates. They were what you’d call… ‘wicked’. Dio resurrected him, considering him worthy of having his life back, and sent him off to work with no hesitation. Then, he turned to you. “Do you think loyalty is the same as perseverance?”

Always questioning, so much of him was curious. So much to ask, so little time to answer. “No… I do not think so. Why do you ask?”

“Because… He is prepared, but he is lacking perseverance. I do not know what the result of that fight will be.” He was starting to show anxiousness. Of course, he was. But he wouldn’t run, you knew he wouldn’t run. So, neither will you. “It’s almost time.” He sat on the edge of the bed. You hugged his broad back, a back meant to protect. He held your hand atop of his chest. “… if things were different, I might’ve not been this… ‘foul’. If I win against the Joestars, we’ll make it to ‘Heaven’. I promise.”

’If’ he wins against the Joestars. The doubt. “I will stand with you until the end.” You whispered against his ear, feeling the ticklish sensation of his hair against your face. He tightened his grip around your palm. “No, you won’t.”

“Dio? Dio, if you’re to die today, I will die with you.” He chuckled. So deep. So, filled with… happiness. A happiness you’ve not heard from him. An emotion that he had not yet expressed as it was meant to be expressed. He kissed your knuckles, softly; your palm, your fingers, all your hand.

His cold lips moved tenderly against your skin. “Live. Find Enrico Pucci in America, and live. Find heaven. If I win today, I’ll come to you two, my friends who I trust with my whole heart. If I don’t… you gave me a piece of ‘Heaven’, here, and now.” He stood up, untangling himself from you. You followed suit and held his arm. “Dio… Dio, I…”

He smiled to you. Open. Free. Truly happy. In his eyes, you no longer could see a shadow of the lingering pain he felt. He freed himself from your grasp, and opened the door, leaving you alone in the room. You sat in the bed, silently hoping for him to return at some point. You waited. Hours passed and you sat in the bed, simply waiting, until you could wait no more. You felt it. You felt in your heart his defeat. A defeat he had accepted, to people you knew he respected as much as he despised. Or did he truly despise them? You hugged the notebook to your chest. The only thing that remained from your ‘Heaven’.

Enrico Pucci. You would find Enrico Pucci and the two of you would find the way to ‘Heaven’. Where Dio wanted to go so badly. You wiped away your tears as you ran through the secret passages of the new hideout, having learnt them all from Dio. Once you found yourself outside, it was almost morning. The first rays of sunlight were visible in the horizon, and you felt their warmth touching you for the first time in years. The light felt like needles when all you’ve felt for years was the cold.

Enrico Pucci. You needed to find Enrico Pucci so the two of you could find a way to go to ‘Heaven’.