“No escape, no more allies, no hope.” The man who has held them captive for a week smiles at them beatifically. His pet stand user, barefoot under her boring office skirt, is as bland and impassive as ever by his side. Armed guards stand at the door to the vault, blocking the only exit with more guns than Mista can count.
Not having the Pistols is almost a physical ache, and he’ll have to depend purely on his own skill, but Mista had shot people before he ever got the Pistols, he can do it again. And besides, of the four of them — and at least he’ll die knowing he was right about whether or not it was a good idea to take THAT number of people into the vault — he's the closest one to functional. The loss of Spice Girl has left Trish pale and shaky, barely able to stand, much less fight. Gio has been missing Gold Experience all week now, so at least he’s used to it, but he is holding Trish upright, his face drawn, looking exhausted and beaten down in a way Mista has never seen on him before. Narancia is on the ground, clutching his bloody nose — Mista bets it's broken. It all comes down to Mista.
Gio steps forward, dragging Trish with him. All eyes — and the business end of several guns — follow Gio, paying no attention to Mista as he slinks backwards a little, his hand creeping around towards where the pistol he lifted off a guard is shoved into the front of his pants. Mista has no illusions about whether or not he’s going to survive the next few seconds, but if he’s lucky and very good, he can shoot the enemy stand user, her stand ability will be deactivated, his friends will get their stands back, and they’ll be fine. They’ll probably put up a really nice memorial to Mista. It’ll be okay.
“What will you do with us?” Giorno asks. He even sounds beaten, a harsh note in his usually calm voice. Of everyone, Gio is the one Mista most doesn’t want to leave behind, but at the end of the day, Gio has to live. Anything else is unthinkable.
That knowledge lends him a certain amount of calm as he inches his hand towards his gun. He only has to shoot one person. One person, unarmed, wearing no protective gear, not paying any attention, that’s all he needs, and then it doesn’t matter what happens to him. You’ve got this, he thinks towards the gun, from long habit of talking to the Pistols. Don’t fail me. We’re in this together. Just a little longer, and it’ll all be okay.
The man shrugs. “I haven’t changed my plans, you know. Our flight to Sicily leaves tomorrow. You’ll still be on it. You’re still my honored guests, until I hand you over to the men you wronged.”
Giorno briefly closes his eyes.
The man smiles. “No, you’re right — we can be honest with each other. The man I wronged.” A note of pity creeps into his voice. Mista would like to shoot him first, but that won’t help Gio, not as much as taking out the stand user. “But nobody is going to believe you, are they?”
Mista’s fingers brush against the butt of his gun and he stops breathing for a second. Nobody looks at him. Everyone is still fixed on Giorno, waiting to see what he’ll do. Mista might be able to pull this off. He swallows hard, then kicks himself when his throat clicks — shit, man, don’t tip your hand early, get it together! Gio needs you.
Mista looks at Gio for a second, trying to fix the image of him, injured but defiant, in his mind, and takes a breath. His fingers curl around the grip. Nobody shouts, nobody shoots him, nobody is looking his way.
Good. Okay. Time to go.
He’s okay with this, he really is — nobody joins the Mafia and expects to die peacefully in bed. Still, Mista can see Gio out of the corner of his eye, and he just wishes...
...He wishes a lot of things. Chief among them, he wishes they’d never gotten on that plane from Italy.
Ten days ago —
“Let’s take a vacation,” Giorno says.
Mista starts, looking up from where he has his pistol disassembled, the parts laid out neatly on a well-used oilrag in front of him. Uno and Cinque are helping swab the barrel out while Tre lazes beside them, periodically poking Cinque when it thinks Mista isn’t looking.
“What?” he says, and then Tre smacks Cinque particularly hard, sending Cinque flying. “Cut it out!” he scolds Tre as he picks Cinque up, cradling its little body in one hand as it begins to tear up. “You’ll be fine, see? I’ll give you a bit of Tre’s sausage later — ”
“A vacation,” Giorno says over Tre’s protests over its unfair treatment. Giorno leans on one hand, gazing serenely out the window of his office, apparently transfixed by the rose bushes outside. “Maybe travel somewhere.”
“Yeah!” Tre exclaims, its poor use at Mista’s hands apparently immediately forgotten. “Yeah, Mista! C’mon, Mista, we need a break!”
“You do not!” Mista starts, but Uno and Cinque have joined Tre, their desperation for a vacation apparently overriding any lingering animosity.
“Mista, we worked through lunch — ”
“Come on, guys, it’s not up to me,” Mista protests. “It’s this guy who’s in charge — ”
To his horror, all three immediately turn on the boss of Passione, a man who technically holds Mista’s life in his hands, apparently oblivious to exactly how many rules of conduct they’re flouting. “Please can we have a vacation,” Uno says earnestly, its little hands clasped in entreaty. “Please?”
Not for the first time, Mista wonders if he has gotten too comfortable thinking of Giorno as his friend first and the boss second. “Sorry, Boss,” he says quickly as he corrals them with his hands. “I don’t know what they were thinking.”
“It’s quite all right,” Giorno says, finally turning that serene gaze towards Mista. “I don’t blame them.” He seems to be waiting for something.
Right, Giorno had just asked about a vacation and Mista should respond. He actually thinks about it, as he sets the Pistols aside, safely away from Giorno. It's not that Mista doesn't want to go on vacation, it's just — "are you sure a vacation is a good idea?" he asks hesitantly as he finally gets his stand under control.
He doesn't bring up that this seems somewhat out of character for Giorno — he’s never met someone as firmly dedicated to his work. Even Buccellati was more likely to relax and take a day off — at least, Mista’s pretty sure he was. Maybe that's just Mista waxing nostalgic for when he only had to worry about himself and his team, instead of the entirety of Passione.
Giorno regards him calmly. “Why not?”
Gio is always self-possessed and always calm like this, and sometimes when he turns the full force of his attention to Mista, it just — makes Mista feel a little unaccountably flustered, is all. He isn’t sure how to describe it, it’s nothing Gio actually does, and Gio seems to genuinely value Mista as a friend, but it just feels like Mista’s too big and taking up too much space and not smart enough to be here, and now he’s also hyper-aware of the fact that he has gun oil on his hands, which he didn’t actually remember to wash after lunch. Every time it happens, too, it drives home just how far out of his depth Mista is in this new job — he’s the underboss of Passione, he’s got responsibilities to Gio, and the men below him, and the organization as a whole, and to the citizens of Napoli, he’s supposed to handle his shit, and he can’t even make eye contact with his pretty, polished, put-together best friend without feeling self-conscious. “Er — I mean,” he says, stalling for time. “I-I mean, you’re the boss of Passione, can you just — take off?”
Gio is still just looking at him. Mista can’t help it; after a moment, he drops his gaze to stare at his hands. They’re starting to sweat, which just adds insult to injury.
“Well,” Giorno says after a moment, looking back out the window; Mista relaxes with a tiny huff of breath. “I’ve got a cell phone, and I talk to most of my capos through email anyway. Additionally — ” he pauses for a moment, then says, with a blandness of tone so absolute it makes Mista’s ears perk up. “There are some potential business assets in the area that may be worth recovering.” Mista doesn’t know what that means, exactly, but the way Gio talks about it, it must be really worth it. “It will be more of a — working vacation, but we’ll still have a chance to get away from Italy for a while. It’s been a while since we had a break.”
“Yeah — yeah, that’s true,” Mista says tentatively.
Giorno turns to him again, face breaking into a dazzling smile. This, too — Gio is always pretty, but sometimes Mista forgets how pretty. And, a little more surprisingly, was Mista’s input actually important for this decision? Either way, he grins back. “Good! Then it’s settled — I’ll make the necessary arrangements. We’ll leave for Las Vegas in two days. Thank you, Mista.” And with that he turns back to the papers he’s going over, but this time he’s smiling.
...Thanks for what? Not that Mista isn’t pleased that Gio is happy, but he’s also not quite sure what happened. “You’re welcome?” he tries as the Pistols, still cupped in his hands, begin celebrating; Gio looks up and turns the full force of his smile on him again and Mista can’t help but smile back. Well, maybe Gio just needed someone to bounce ideas off of. It’s not like Mista doesn’t use the Pistols for the same purpose.
Either way — if the boss is happy, Mista is happy. He deposits the Pistols back around his gun and gets back to work.
Apparently when Giorno said “we”, he didn’t just mean Gio and Mista, or even the former members of Buccellati’s gang still active in Passione; he meant everyone.
When Mista arrives at the airfield and makes his way to the hanger where Giorno’s private jet is stored, not only is the expressionless pilot waiting on the runway, but so are Trish and Narancia, arm-in-arm, wearing matching sunglasses. Gio is holding the turtle and Polnareff is hanging out of it, chattering away with whoever happens to be closest, so thrilled to see everyone all together again he keeps switching randomly back into French. Abbacchio is just as cranky-looking as he was three years ago, except for the part where he’s holding Buccellati’s hand, which Mista still isn’t quite get used to. And Buccellati — Mista never really thought he’d say it, but retirement seems to suit him. He seems to carry himself more lightly, now that the concerns of the gang have been lifted from his shoulders.
“Hey, man, it’s good to see you!” Mista exclaims to Abbacchio; he thinks about going in for a hug, then thinks better of it. He almost offers his hand instead, but thinks better of that, too; he’ll stick to a friendly nod. Abbacchio isn’t technically retired, but he also hasn’t been doing much; watching the way he stands, close by Buccellati in case he needs anything, Mista thinks he has a pretty good guess as to why.
Abbacchio scowls at him. “Mista.” He’s still doggedly holding onto Buccellati’s hand, even as the capo — Buccellati, rather — chats with Gio. Abbacchio sees Mista’s gaze flick downwards. Mista is astonished to see a pink flush make its way across Abbacchio’s cheeks, but he doesn’t let go.
Mista kind of wants to congratulate Abbacchio, but he’s a little worried Abbacchio will deck him or something if he tries, so instead he sticks to, “you look well!”
Abbacchio scowls harder, as though he could make himself stop blushing through sheer force of will and a bad attitude. “I wish I could say likewise,” he grates out.
Mista tries not to smile, but he does — Abbacchio looks somewhere between even crankier and rather pleased. There’s not an option for something to say that won’t embarrass at least one of them further, so instead Mista just nods again and turns away.
Trish immediately sweeps him into a hug. “Mista!” she exclaims delightedly directly into Mista’s ear. “It’s been too long!”
Being a capo suits her; she holds herself with confidence in her sleek all-black get-up, her heart-shaped shades pushed up on top of her hair. She smells nice. Mista is immediately aware of the fact that he’s wearing the same damn sweater as he wore three years ago and last showered — two days ago? Probably two days ago. At least he’s gotten new pants since he last saw her, that’s something, at least.
Narancia punches him hard on the arm. “Hey!” he snaps, scowling up at Mista. He’s got the same heart-shaped sunglasses as Trish does.
“Hey,” Mista says, scowling back.
Narancia glowers at him for a second longer, than flings himself into Mista’s chest, squeezing him hard. “You never call,” he complains, his face muffled in Mista’s chest, his glasses knocked askew. “You got important and you never fuckin hang out with us anymore!”
Mista pats him on the back. “Sorry,” he says, genuinely contrite. “You know how it is, man, working for Gio. I don’t think he ever sleeps, you know?”
Narancia pulls back and — winks at Mista? “Ah,” he says, in tones of someone sharing a secret. “Say no more, Mista. Say no more.”
“What?” Mista says, confused.
Narancia winks again. He’s not great at winking; he has to squish up the entire side of his face, and his other eye almost closes too. “Exactly. ‘What’.” He nods knowingly.
Mista shoots Trish a look. Trish shrugs back, looking nonplussed.
Mista is about to ask Narancia what the fuck that’s supposed to mean when Giorno clears his throat. Even when he was a raw recruit Gio had the ability to command the room and convince people to do what he wanted; now that he’s the boss of Passione, and powerful in actuality as well as in personality, everyone falls into expectant silence almost immediately.
Abbacchio and Buccellati are still holding hands. Good for Buccellati, Mista thinks, grinning. Abbacchio glances at him and goes spectacularly crimson before Mista quickly looks away.
Gio looks a little embarrassed actually, now that all the attention is on him. “Ah — thank you all, friends, for joining me. I’m glad you could all take the time to come with me.”
“You’re paying for us to go to Vegas for a week,” Narancia points out. “Why wouldn’t we?”
“And you’re the boss,” Trish adds, jostling Narancia.
“I was actually rather hoping we could just — avoid work entirely,” Gio says. Narancia shoots Mista a grin; still confused, Mista grins back. “I have a business opportunity that needs to be attended to, but otherwise — I really do mean it as a vacation.”
Mista had been half expecting Buccellati to finally say something about this being a bad idea — Mista still isn’t sure this is a good idea himself, no matter what his stand thinks. But instead, Buccellati glances over at Mista, an odd little half-smile on his face. Mista raises his eyebrows, hoping Buccellati will give him a clue, but Buccellati just looks away, still smiling.
Mista isn’t sure why everybody is acting so bizarre, but before he can ask anybody anything, Trish and Narancia, who apparently have taken this request to heart already, have already mobbed Gio, dragging Mista along in their wake. Trish has the turtle cradled in the crook of her arm.
“Where are we staying?”
“Can we gamble?”
“Can we drink?”
“I’m not twenty-one, don’t they want you to be twenty-one in America?”
“That’s fuckin stupid, I’m not not drinking.”
“Yeah, me too — wait, what about Polnareff?”
“I’ve gotten us all IDs,” Gio says, laughing as they drag him towards the private plane and the still-expressionless pilot. “Polnareff is coming too, of course — don’t worry! It’s all taken care of!”
Something about this just feels — weird. Not right. Bad juju. It’s crawling down the back of Mista’s neck and making him itch, but he just can’t quite figure out what it is. “Hey, ca — Buccellati,” he says as Buccellati passes him. I’ve got a bad feeling about this seems like too much, especially since there’s nothing obviously wrong — there’s more than four passengers, it’s not an inauspicious date, everything’s been taken care of in their absence, Giorno’s reachable by anybody who would need to reach him, Mista remembered to lock up and the stove’s not on — so instead he says, “what do you think about all of this?”
Buccellati regards him, still with that odd little smile on his face. “I think a vacation will do you good,” is all he says. Beside him, Abbacchio rolls his eyes but says nothing.
That’s apparently all Mista is going to get. He takes one last look around, but nothing jumps out at him — and with that, Mista fights down his unease and follows his team onto the plane.
Up in the air there isn’t much for Mista to do; the pilot is trustworthy, and there hasn’t been any Stand bullshit since Gio became the head of Passione, so he’s not worried about something blowing up in their faces. After an hour or two of boredom, Mista stretches out along the couch in back and falls asleep.
He wakes up a few hours later to find Narancia has wormed his way onto the couch, curled up in a ball by Mista’s feet. The turtle is resting on Mista’s chest, snorting quietly as it snoozes. Trish sits nearby, absorbed in a fashion magazine.
Still half-asleep, Mista glances around the cabin. Giorno and Buccellati are talking about something — something important, by the look of it, if the serious expression on Gio’s face is any indication. Mista can’t hear what they’re talking about, but whatever it is, he hopes it goes well.
As though thinking his name is enough to wake him, Gio glances over at Mista, looking startled.
“Hey,” Mista says. It turns into a jaw-cracking yawn midway through.
Gio smiles at him, going from serious to radiant in an instant. Mista smiles back, too sleepy to even try to pretend it doesn’t make him happy when his friend seems so genuinely glad to see him. “Hey,” Gio says softly, and Mista basks in his nearly palpable affection for a second before Buccellati touches Gio’s hand and they resume their conversation.
Mista yawns again. Tucking one arm over the turtle to keep it safe, he rearranges himself on the couch to give Narancia more room and goes back to sleep.
A few hours later, they are installed in the most lavish series of suites Mista has ever seen. He’s pretty sure his room off the main suite is larger than his entire apartment. He sets his bag down on the couch and crosses to the window, looking out over the strip.
“Is your room okay? I hope you don’t mind, we’ll be sharing a bathroom.”
Mista jumps. Gio is right there — Mista hadn’t heard him come in.
“It’s good! It’s fine,” he says, moving a little so Gio has more room.
“Good!” Gio says.
He seems like he wants to say something else. Mista waits expectantly.
“Well! I’ll be just in the next room,” Gio says, then turns on his heel and takes off. Apparently everyone is acting weird — he’s probably just worried about whatever this business opportunity is.
Mista’s stuff is easy to unpack. His spare clothes go in the dresser, his all-in-one shampoo and bodywash is installed in the bathroom before Gio’s small army of skincare products can colonize every available flat surface, and then it’s just a matter of squirreling away all the ammo Giorno’s influence smuggled into the country. Once some is in the room safe and some is in his hat, he’s got nothing to do.
He wanders out into the suite. Narancia’s small suitcase has exploded all over the shared area, although as far as he can tell, none of it is real clothes — there is a multitude of scarves and a series of very fancy shoes, and a couple of fashion magazines, but nothing in the way of pants or shirts. The door to Buccellati and Abbacchio’s room is firmly closed.
Trish is in her room, hanging things up. “Hey Trish,” Mista says, heading into her room and depositing himself on her bed.
He sneaks a look at her closet. It’s the closet of someone who’s got her life together — there are multiple outfits, in several colors, and a little satchel of something that smells like roses hanging up. Several pairs of shoes are lined up neatly. There are hats. Mista has got one other pair of pants, and it looks exactly the same as this pair.
“What’s up?” she asks. She’s got a couple of shirts spread out on an ironing board, and — is she actually going to iron?! She’s got a dozen outfits and some require ironing? This is making Mista feel very inadequate.
“Hey — listen, has Gio seemed kind of — weird? Lately?”
Trish gives him a look. “Define weird,” she says. “Giorno has always been…” After a second, she waves her hand.
Mista shrugs uncomfortably. “Just — weird. I don’t know.”
“He’s probably just tired,” she says. “Which do you think looks better, this or this?” She holds up two apparently identical dresses.
“Um,” Mista says, a little desperately. Look, Passione’s got its fingers in a lot of pies, he’s pretty sure they’ve got a tailor or four paying protection money, he spends time around Giorno, he knows things about fashion. One’s got — sleeves? And the other’s got a ruffle? It’s pretty warm out, Trish will probably not want sleeves. “That one,” he says, hopefully decisively, pointing to the one with a ruffle.
Trish frowns. “Are you sure? It’s not too much, is it?” she asks, holding it up over her body and frowning at her reflection in the mirror.
“Or the other?” Mista says, feeling immensely out of his depth.
“No, you’re right, this one’s better — thanks, Mista. Are you okay?”
Mista starts. “What? I’m fine! Why? I-I mean, why do you ask?”
Trish laughs. “Nothing! You just seem so worried! When’d you get so serious?”
Mista opens his mouth, but can’t think of how to explain any of it; before he can figure it out, Trish keeps talking. “Relax, we’re on vacation, everything is fine. Now leave, I’m going to change. And then — you and I haven’t hung out in ages, let’s go out! It’ll be fun!”
For the first few days, it seems like Trish is right.
Gambling isn’t really Mista’s thing, so on the first evening he lets Trish twist his arm into taking her to a show. Acrobatics isn’t really his thing either, but he doesn’t mind it — besides, he likes people-watching and it’s nicer out here than it is inside the casino, and Trish enjoys it. Mista gets a very tolerable red wine (although he’s got to show his ID, which is just uncivilized) and settles back to let the entire thing wash over him.
He ends up giving Trish a piggy-back ride back because her feet hurt. When they arrive, they find Narancia, lording it over a pile of pennies covering the couch and spilling down onto the floor, crowing in victory while Polnareff, halfway out of the turtle, looks smug — apparently they hit up the penny slots together, and have done well for themselves.
The next day, he and Abbacchio find themselves at a blackjack table together. Mista is uncomfortably aware of the fact that this is Passione’s money he’s playing with, and that he’s not really very good, which takes some of the joy out of the whole affair; it throws him off his already not particularly impressive game and he loses fifty dollars. He’s not quite sure exactly what that comes out to in euros, but it doesn’t seem that bad. Abbacchio, on the other hand, apparently doesn’t have emotions that aren’t disdain and has an unshakable poker face — he sits down and proceeds to utterly destroy everyone else at the table, all the while coolly demolishing a bottle of very expensive wine. By the time Abbacchio is done, he walks away with Mista’s fifty, and a couple hundred dollars extra as well.
After that debacle, Mista ends up wandering around the disorientingly bright gambling floor for a while. He thinks it’s probably getting pretty late, but there aren’t any windows or clocks, so it’s hard to tell. He considers staying in the casino but the thought of watching people lose money strikes him as too depressing, so he heads outside instead.
After the lights and the din of the casino, it’s a pleasant shock to step out into the night. It’s still busier here than Mista feels in the mood for, so he sets off into the darkness — the open beverage laws seem to not exist in this town at all, so he takes his drink with him.
After a while of wandering, he finds himself in a park with a small hill. He heads up it, intending to sit and drink in peace. He doesn’t notice the other occupants until one speaks to him.
“Hi, Mista,” Buccellati says. The turtle is in his lap, and he has a bottle of wine with him.
“Hi,” Mista says, a little startled, as he gets ready to leave. “Sorry, I wasn’t expecting anyone — ”
“No, no,” Buccellati says. “You can stay, if you don’t mind the company.”
“Alright,” Mista says, as he settles himself on the bench next to Buccellati. “How’s Polnareff?”
“He’s well — neither of us enjoy casinos very much, so we’ve been out sightseeing all day. He’s retired for the night, I believe,” Buccellati says. He’s petting the turtle idly, scratching it beneath its chin. The turtle watches Mista, its beady eyes half-closed.
“I’m not a big casino person either,” Mista admits, settling back and looking up at the sky. Even with all the light from the casinos, some stars are visible. “It’s nice out here, though. The food is good, too.” Even now, a little past eleven, it’s hot enough Mista wishes he’d brought shorts or something.
Buccellati makes a sound of assent. They sit like that in companionable silence for a while, staring up at the sky.
“Hey, Buccellati,” Mista says suddenly, on impulse. “Do you ever — miss it?”
“You know. Passione. The gang. Being capo. All of it. Health or no health, you know Gio would take you back in a second, if you asked. You’d make a better underboss than I would,” he adds, trying to sound neutral and not self-conscious.
Buccellati stays silent, still staring up at the night sky, still idly petting the turtle. He stays silent long enough Mista starts to think maybe he won’t answer. Finally, he sighs. “Sometimes,” he says. “Not always. I miss all of you, and I miss being a part of something. I thought — well. I wanted to do good things, but I don’t know that I did.”
“I think you did,” Mista says, shifting uncomfortably.
“Did I?” Buccellati asks.
“I mean — you kept me from going to jail,” Mista pointed out. “And saved Narancia.”
“Who joined Passione because of me,” Buccellati says. “Who is a murderer because of me.”
“Yeah, but — ” Mista isn’t sure how to actually say this, or to make Buccellati understand what he’s trying to say. “But he’s doing well! And Trish! You definitely saved her — and now Gio’s in charge, and he’s way better than the old boss used to be — ” He peters out after a moment, shifting uncomfortably.
“Whose orders I followed,” Buccellati points out. “Without question, until they were — more personal.”
Mista squirms. “That doesn’t make it not good,” he insists.
“Perhaps.” Buccellati looks at him. He’s not like Gio — nobody is like Gio — but sometimes they both look at Mista like they can see right through him, both the terrible things he’s done and the things they think he’s capable of, even if Mista himself doesn’t know them. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, even if it isn’t altogether unpleasant. “I don’t want the responsibility, and I don’t want the decisions. ...But yes, I miss it.”
Now that Mista has made Buccellati uncomfortable, he tries to recover. “How’s — how’s the flower shop?” he asks, a little desperately.
That gets him a real smile, this time — the sort of unguarded expression he can’t remember seeing on Buccellati ever, pre-retirement. “It’s good!” he says. “It’s a nice thing, to bring people joy. Mostly it’s just me. And Leone, of course.” His smile dims to something a little more personal; Mista feels like he’s intruding, and looks away. “And how is Passione?”
Mista shrugs. “Good,” he says, feeling very self-conscious about all of it. “Gio’s — you know. Gio’s Giorno, so of course he’s great at it. There’s been some hiccoughs with stamping out the drug trade for once and for all, but we’re working on it — there’s a going on right now. And we’re helping people,” he adds, somewhere between feeling defensive and feeling hopeful. “We try to, anyway.”
Buccellati glances at him, an unreadable expression on his face. “Good. I’m glad to hear it. ...Take care of him,” he adds. “Giorno can be — somewhat single minded in pursuit of his goals. I try to stay out of it, but — I do worry.”
Mista nods. “I try,” he says.
Apparently Buccellati is done talking; he goes back to gazing at the sky. Mista can’t think of anything to say, so he stays quiet too.
After a few minutes, Buccellati gets to his feet with a sigh. “It’s time for me to get back, I think,” he says, wincing as he stands.
Mista hops to his feet as well. “Are you okay?” he asks, wincing in sympathy as Buccellati rotates his arm, loosening the side King Crimson sliced open, but Buccellati waves him off.
“Thank you, Mista, but I’ll be fine,” he says, hoisting the turtle. “I’ll see you back at the hotel.”
Mista watches him go, then seats himself again, watching the sky and drinking his drink. Once he’s polished it off, he levers himself to his feet and makes his way back.
The third day, Mista, Narancia, and Buccellati are at dinner when Mista realizes he hasn’t seen Giorno hardly at all. “Where’s the boss?” he asks.
“Working,” Narancia says through a mouthful of steak. “Mista, you gotta try this, it’s so good — what’s that, I want some of it.”
“You’ve got your own,” Mista says, fending off his fork. “I thought this was supposed to be a vacation for him too?”
“Right?” Narancia says. “But that’s Gio, I guess. He’s not very good at turning off. And yours looks better, look, there’s cheese on it. Gimme some, fucker, I want it!”
Buccellati sips his wine. Mista tries not to notice how little Buccellati has eaten — he doesn’t know exactly how badly Buccellati was hurt, but he knows the effects still linger and he worries. “He said he’ll be done soon.”
“What’s he working on?” Narancia asks, pointing his fork accusingly at Buccellati. “Are you holding out on us? Talk, mister.”
Buccellati smiles pleasantly at him. “I’m not in the gang anymore, I’m retired,” he reminds them both. “I don’t actually need to follow your orders. Rest assured, though, Gio plans to take advantage of this vacation.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Mista asks. Buccellati only grins at him. Mista is about to follow up when the server stops by; Buccellati asks for a meal to go for Polnareff, and then Narancia wants more wine, and then the moment has passed and Mista doesn’t have another chance to push.
Whatever it is, Mista hopes Gio finally gets an actual break soon. With a pang of conscience, he realizes he’s been living it up on Passione’s dime while Gio works alone — tomorrow he’ll have to either keep Gio company or drag Gio out, one or the other.
The fourth day — of course it was the fourth day, why didn’t Mista see it coming — is when everything starts to go wrong.
It starts out more or less well. Maybe going to an aquarium is a little bit of a cheat for someone whose stand creates life, but Gio seems happy, pressed against the glass, watching sharks go by.
It’s peaceful down here. Mista likes the way the water refracts the light and makes it dance across the floor, picking out highlights in Giorno’s golden hair. It’s quieter, too, than he would have expected — he’d thought this was a major tourist attraction, but he and Gio are practically the only people here. He’s hardly going to complain, though.
“I don’t know much about sharks,” Giorno admits, craning his neck to get a better view. “I don’t do very much with fish. ...I don’t know much about animals in general, actually.”
“Really?” Mista says, surprised. He would have assumed Gio knew plenty of animal facts, but then again, Gio’s self-assurance makes it seem like he knows most things.
“No. It’s led me astray more than once,” he adds. “I — ah. I forgot snakes don’t like fire.”
It’s hard to tell with the light like this, but Gio might be going pink. “Don’t like fire?” Mista asks, half horrified, half delighted.
Gio is definitely blushing. “I stole someone’s passport and he broke into my room, but I had Polpo’s lighter, so I — turned a light into a snake to move the loaf of bread I put the lighter in.”
It takes Mista a moment to piece that all together, and then he bursts into laughter. For a second he thinks that might have been a mistake, Gio is his boss — but Gio is laughing too, so he guesses it’s safe. And Gio did say this was supposed to be a vacation. “You — man, okay, you’re gonna have to back that up a step, you put Polpo’s lighter in a loaf of bread?”
Gio turns, facing Mista instead of the sharks. The light shines across his face. Blue suits him — then again, most colors suit him. “Well,” he says. “It seemed like a good idea at the time, although admittedly — ” He cuts off with a frown. “Wait. Hold on, I’m sorry, I need to take this.” Like that, his face sets itself into more serious lines as he half-turns away from Mista, tugging his phone out, and then he’s back to being the boss instead of just Gio.
Mista only half-listens to the conversation at first. He’s busy watching a shark lazily circling above the sink, its body barely moving as it floats along.
“Today?” Gio says. The note of real concern cuts through Mista’s pleasant daydreaming — something has clearly gone wrong. He straightens up, actually paying attention to Gio’s conversation.
Gio glances up at him, then back away. “Thank you — keep me updated,” he says. “Call me right away if anything changes.”
“What is it?” Mista says. At some point during Gio’s call his hands have come to rest on the butt of his gun.
“We should get back,” Gio says. The set of his shoulders is straighter and his face is carefully expressionless. “The others should hear about this too.”
Mista wants to ask more questions, but he also knows Gio won’t answer them. Instead, he bites his lip and falls into line.