Chapter 1: New Rising Sun
Fugo sat in the hotel lobby, trying to ignore the sweat gathering at his hairline. He wasn’t on a mission, nor was he running from police, but even as he sat on a comfortable couch, his situation seemed even more nerve-wracking. The summons had come while he was alone, from the shadows themselves (probably someone’s Stand ability, a rather convenient one), giving him the exact route he should take to meet with Passione’s underboss.
The gang’s number-two figure was almost as enigmatic as its number-one, but considering that the boss communicated through his underboss, he would have to meet with people sometimes to get messages through. Still, wasn’t it meant to only be the operatives that had that kind of privilege? If someone as low-ranked as himself was being personally summoned, that meant he had caught the boss’ attention- and that was more likely to be a bad thing than a good thing.
He was halfway through mapping potential escape routes from the building when a neatly uniformed staff member tapped his shoulder, having to do so a few times before catching his attention. “Excuse me?” He turned, hoping it wasn’t too obvious that he was about to be sick.
“He’s ready for you. Follow me.” Of course, it was no surprise that the underboss would choose a meeting place that Passione had essentially bought out. Eyes still darting between doors and windows, he obediently followed, managing to suppress his Stand that was threatening to manifest at the corner of his vision.
It’s normal to be nervous… right? Obviously this underboss will be a scary guy, and he shouldn’t need to talk to me so something’s obviously gone wrong, which means it’s completely reasonable to be worried. Appropriately justified, he kept himself from going into a complete panic, even when a wave of dread confronted him at the realisation that he was already in front of his destination.
No, forget that- he was somehow already inside the room, with absolutely no memory of having opened the door. Was he really so nervous that he had started blacking out? That didn’t seem healthy, but he didn’t have the time to worry about future health when the underboss was right there in front of him, glaring from a shadowed corner. Fugo gasped in a painful breath, unsticking his tongue from the roof of his mouth to greet him- shit, shit, what title do I use? Is there even a specific one? Unbelievable, I’m going to die because I forgot a word…
He was pretty sure he was hyperventilating when a surprisingly soft voice interrupted his spiral of panic. “Uh… are you okay there?”
Fugo’s head snapped up to see the same shadowed figure, no longer glaring. He watched as he leaned out of the shadows, letting the dim light of a bedside lamp illuminate his face. His surprisingly youthful face. Fugo knew very well that Passione didn’t discriminate based on age- he himself was only sixteen, and Buccellati had been in the business since he was twelve, but it was still jarring to see the second-in-command looking at least two decades younger than he had expected. It surprised him enough that before he could stop himself, his mouth was already moving. “You’re the underboss?”
And just like that, he was glaring again, though it wasn’t quite as chilling as the first time. Still, as unassuming as he looked, Fugo didn’t have to be a genius to know not to underestimate someone who so drastically outranked him. “Yeah. What, you think I shouldn’t be?” If there had been a trace of gentleness in his voice before, it had completely vanished, exposing a razor-sharp edge. Even his face looked sharper, though it was hard to tell in the shifting light.
Fugo took a step back, entirely on instinct. His higher brain functions told him that there was little point moving around, he wouldn’t be safe anywhere. He raised his hands placatingly, trying to twist his strained, fearful expression into a smile. “Of course not! I’m sorry, I, don’t know why I said that. Sorry. Again.” Part of him hated himself for so blatantly cowering, but the rest of him was willing to sacrifice some pride if it meant surviving this encounter. He was able to recover a bit when it appeared to work, the underboss’ expression softening once more.
“It’s fine. I mean, I guess I can see where you’re coming from, haha…” He trailed off into nervous laughter, but stopped abruptly before Fugo could even react. “Anyway, you’re probably wondering why you’re here, right? Basically, I just need to show you something. Hang on a second.”
There wasn’t much Fugo could do except wait. It had barely been a minute, but this meeting was already too strange for him to even be able to continue panicking. His brain still wasn’t sure how to process that not only was Passione’s feared underboss young and round-faced and weird but still every bit as dangerous as someone in his business ought to be, let alone the idea that he had been called into a highly uncharacteristic and secretive meeting just to be shown something, something that could apparently fit into the bag the underboss was rummaging around in. He knew better than to look too closely, diverting his attention to the boarded-up window until a quiet noise of triumph suggested that the item had been found.
“Pannacotta.” Fugo held back a wince. He wasn’t a huge fan of his first name. “Do you know what this is?” The underboss held up his hands, making sure that the light caught the object he was holding. Fugo had to squint to be certain of what it was- a face, carved out of stone. Upon closer inspection, it looked like a mask, though it seemed far too heavy to wear.
It didn’t look familiar, and there was little decoration on it that gave away its origin, but Fugo stared harder, determined to come up with an answer. For whatever reason, the underboss was apparently counting on him to identify it- did they really not have anyone else with a college education? “It’s… Mesoamerican, I think. Maybe Aztec or Olmec? I’m not really sure, I didn’t study anything like that.” He chewed at his lip, hoping to keep his mouth shut before he could disappoint him even further.
If the underboss was, in fact, disappointed, he didn’t show it. There was a smile on his face as he proceeded, wide enough to show a trace of rather sharp teeth. “That’s okay. I only just found out myself, there’s some kind of weird legend about masks like these. That they’re made for one person, way, way in the future, and if that person wears it, they’ll unlock some kind of crazy power.”
“Like Stands?” He couldn’t imagine anything being much crazier than Purple Haze.
“Not really. More like… it’s hard to explain. Usually stuff like that’s all made up, right? Fake stupid crap that doesn’t mean anything. But the boss did some digging around, and he says it turns out that this one might be true. So now we’ve got this mask.” He was turning it over in his hands, as if it were some kind of plaything. “Thing is, how do we know who it’s made for? We don’t. We just have to guess. That’s where you come in.”
“Me?” He was the only one in the room, the only one the underboss could possibly be addressing, but it was all unbelievable enough that he had to ask. A superpowered mask, destined for someone who didn’t even exist when it was created? It was… only a little weirder than an arrow that killed most people but let others pull their soul out of their body and make it fight, actually.
The underboss just nodded- clearly he understood Fugo’s confusion. “Yeah, you. It’s not like it’s hard or anything. You just have to wear the mask for a little while, and if it’s meant to be yours, then… we’ll know.” Somehow, the light tone of his voice made it sound that much more ominous. Even as the mask was flipped in and out of the light, Fugo’s eyes were trained firmly on it, taking in every detail of its plain surface. Did it look anything like him? Was it even a similar shape to his face? He couldn’t even concentrate on it for long enough to come up with an answer.
He blinked, then nearly jumped back. Somehow, in the fraction of a second that his eyes had been completely closed, the underboss had ended up right in front of him. They were around the same height, but Fugo felt the other’s presence towering over him, to the point where it was hard for him not to look up. He blinked again. He was sure he had been about to say something, but it was completely gone from his mind. The mask was on his face, cool stone edges resting on the sides of his head. He hadn’t even seen the underboss lift it, or reach towards him. Something was wrong, and he was about to say as much, but then, he blinked one more time.
His hand had been cut open- that particular burning sensation, paired with the wet warmth of blood, was unmistakable. But more importantly, the mask was somehow shuddering on his face, completely independent of anyone else’s movement.
He finally managed to say something. “What’s happening?” He didn’t get an answer. Something pierced his skin, all at once across the top of his head. It only hurt for just long enough for Fugo to register the pain, then he collapsed, finally free of worry as his mind settled into perfect blankness.
Doppio carefully watched from his place on the hotel room’s bed. He was a little fuzzy on the exact details, as he often was, but it seemed that he had fulfilled his mission- the mask was on Fugo, and he was crumpled on the floor, looking completely indistinguishable from a corpse. That was assuming he hadn’t somehow messed up and actually killed him. He could only hope that wasn’t the case- the boss would definitely be mad.
He wouldn’t risk approaching. He just stayed where he was, patiently waiting for Fugo to wake up.
Everything hurt. Why did it hurt so much?
No, that was the wrong word. It wasn’t quite pain he felt, just… intensity, pushing against his senses. The faintest suggestion of light on his eyelids was bright enough to hold his constant notice, the sounds of people walking and talking several floors below him were clearly audible, and all through the building, he could smell life itself, distinct from the more individual scents of each human and animal. Things were starting to make sense as he adjusted to the stream of information, but what remained unanswered was why it was there in the first place. It was hard to remember, but he didn’t think it had always been like that.
There was someone else in the room with him, their breaths and heartbeat echoing deep within him. The underboss, his mind helpfully supplied. That was right- they had been talking, about a weird mask with an even weirder legend. Then something else happened, and now he was facedown on the carpet. What was he doing there? He stood up, brushing himself off. Strangely enough, the previously dimly-lit room now seemed perfectly normal.
“You probably have questions, right?” The underboss was facing him directly, face fully lit for the first time. It seemed that Fugo’s earlier assessment of him was right- a rather normal-looking teenager, though a bit pale, and with an odd reflection in his eyes. He looked Fugo over with what looked like unreserved admiration, which was strange- hadn’t he just fainted right in front of him?
Maybe he knew something. “Are you saying you have answers?” Talking was weird. There was less space in his mouth, as he found out when he almost bit his own tongue. That didn’t help his confusion. “Something’s… wrong. Am I sick?”
The underboss looked at him as if he was genuinely unsure. “Probably not. Unless you already were, anyway. What I wanted to tell you is, looks like the boss was right about the mask. How about it? Do you feel more powerful?”
“I’m… not sure.” He looked carefully at his hands. They looked the same- wait. His hand was covered in blood, and he had a vague memory of it being cut, but there was no trace of a wound or even a scar. Had he imagined it? But if he had, where did all the blood come from? Speaking of which, he needed to do something about that blood. Without even thinking, he lifted his hand to his mouth, taking a careful lick at his fingers.
He couldn’t have taken in more than a few drops, but the blood coating his tongue and soaking into the inside of his mouth was even more pleasant than an entire glass of water. Eyes wide with the thrill of discovery, he reached for more, carelessly shoving his fingers into his mouth. It was so delicious, such a relief, that he managed to completely forget he wasn’t alone until the underboss quietly cleared his throat. “You about done?”
Fugo’s body twitched with surprise, but the violent terror he had been battling throughout their encounter was suddenly completely absent. Slowly, he withdrew his fingers, making sure to lick off as much blood as he could get before the opportunity was gone. Without it, his mind was clear again, though he was no closer to enlightenment on his situation. “What did you do to me?”
“Well, technically, I didn’t do anything…” Fugo hoped it was clear how unimpressed he was by that answer. “But that doesn’t matter! I’ll just tell you what happened.”
And that was exactly what he did. For anyone else, in any other circumstance, it might have been impossible to believe, but Fugo dealt with the supernatural on a daily basis. Besides, it was hard to dispute that his body had changed, even if he was having trouble applying that word to it, the word that the underboss would toss around freely as if it meant nothing to him. Did he not see the ghoulish, twisted agents of Hell that the word conjured up for Fugo? He wasn’t exactly about to sing his own praises, but looking at himself, he clearly hadn’t sunk that low. Yet.
It was easier to approach it all as a completely unrelated set of circumstances. He couldn’t go into the sunlight anymore. His teeth had sharpened. He had to drink blood to survive. He was faster, stronger, and sensed far more than he used to. He made a strange screeching noise when he exhaled too quickly. It was possible that he might have other powers, but apparently little was known about those. He wouldn’t age, and wouldn’t die, unless someone even stronger managed to kill him. With a life like his, that wasn’t something he could rule out- in fact, it was likely enough that he doubted he would even live much longer than he would have anyway.
He knew a lot more about himself, but one question remained unanswered. “Why me?” Why him, a rather lowly gangster who was too unstable to fit in anywhere else? How did he fit into whatever plan the boss had? He said nothing more- one poorly chosen word, and it might have come across like he was questioning the boss’ judgment. Not a wise decision at all.
“We just need you to do something for us, that’s all.” The underboss flashed him a quick, vaguely reassuring smile. “What we’ve got, it’s going to put us way above where we are now, but we’ve gotta be careful with it. Not everyone can be trusted. It would be bad for us if the wrong people got their hands on it.” He gave him a meaningful stare. “It would be bad for you.”
“Now. If you take their blood, and they take some of your blood, you can turn other people into vampires just like you. The boss wants you to turn the rest of your team so they’re just like you. Buccellati, Abbacchio, Ghirga, Mista, even the new guy, Giovanna. All of them. Got it?” Before Fugo could respond, he continued. “Oh, and one more thing. Like I said, we can’t have anyone knowing about stuff they shouldn’t. So make sure no one knows what you’re doing until it’s already too late for them, okay? Or else there’s gonna be a problem.” He left Fugo to imagine exactly what that problem would be.
There was a lot that Fugo wanted to say to that. Mostly within the realm of “That’s insane” or “Do I really have to do that”, neither of which were safe responses by any means. All he could do was nod, swallowing down any hint of objection. “Right. All of them. Understood.”
“Great! Get it done within a week. I’ll be sending someone to make sure it’s all finished by then. Remember, don’t tell anyone.” Then, Fugo was outside the room, door firmly shut behind him. Slightly dazed, he made his way back down to the lobby, hyper-aware of every difference in how he perceived the world around him. He could still sense every life in the building, and the neutral lights were harsh on his eyes. It hadn’t quite set in that those changes were forever- part of him expected it all to start fading back to normal at any moment.
The sun had already set. As he left, he supposed he should have been thankful that he could go home right away, but he knew what waited for him at home. His teammates, his friends, all of them nowhere near ready for what he had to do.
Chapter 2: Devil's Got A New Disguise
Thank you for all your support! I hope I can continue to make something you'll enjoy.
This chapter gets a bit suggestive at parts but there's nothing explicit.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The lights were all out when Fugo slipped back into the house he shared with his team. Well, it was Buccellati’s house, but he had never hesitated to offer it up as a place to stay. With nowhere else to go, it hadn’t exactly been a difficult choice for them to accept. It wasn’t a huge house, with only two proper bedrooms (and a living room that had been repurposed into a bedroom), but it was theirs.
It was strange to see the place with new eyes, but it was familiar enough to fit in with his memories. A gentle sniff of the air told him that five people were alive inside the house, none of them moving very much. Their scents weren’t identical. Had be been inclined, with the knowledge of where everyone slept, he could have picked each one of them out individually. Instead, he made his way further inside, effortlessly navigating the dark hallway. His body wasn’t weighed down by fatigue as it often was at the end of the day, but his mind had been in overdrive ever since he was called to meet with the underboss. It deserved a rest.
Halfway down the hallway, he stopped. Someone had gotten out of bed, and started following him, creeping closer even as he stood there. Once he was aware, it didn’t take vampire senses to figure out who would pull that kind of stunt. He wondered whether to pretend to be surprised, but he still hadn’t made a decision when a small but strong pair of hands slid over his eyes.
“Narancia.” Before he could reach up, Narancia’s hands were off his eyes, moving downwards to grasp his shoulders. Once he had a firm grip, he leaned over Fugo’s shoulder to get a look at his face, doubtlessly standing on his tiptoes to be able to do so. It crossed Fugo’s mind that in that position, he could easily trip Narancia over- not that he would, of course. Unless he had happened to piss him off a lot that day.
“Aw, how’d you know it was me?” Despite the disappointment in his voice, his eyes were shining with excitement, and there was a barely-visible blush on his cheeks. He probably thought Fugo couldn’t see it.
“Are you kidding? You’re literally the only one who does that, what was I supposed to think?” After the stifling atmosphere the underboss carried with him (unless it was completely Fugo’s own imagination, built-up anxiety choking him from the inside), being with Narancia was like breathing fresh air for the first time all day. He was loud, crude, childish, downright infuriating at times, but he had always forgiven Fugo for screwing up- which he did, way too often. It was almost as if Narancia didn’t expect him to be perfect, strange as that seemed.
“Whatever.” At the cost of making his position even more precarious, Narancia leaned in further, getting close enough to plant a quick kiss on Fugo’s cheek. “Where were you all day? I asked Buccellati and he didn’t know. I didn’t think you ever went outside unless you had to.” And then, because he was Narancia, he punctuated the statement by pulling at Fugo’s ear in a way that, knowing him, was supposed to be affectionate.
He instinctively ducked forward in an effort to get away. “Hey, quit it!” He realised his mistake when Narancia was pulled forward with him, quickly losing his balance. Just as instinctively, he latched onto Fugo, but all that accomplished was dragging him down too. The thick carpet made a dull thumping noise when they fell, clinging to each other through the collision.
It occurred to Fugo that this was the second time he had fallen over that day. Weren’t v… people like him supposed to not be clumsy? He couldn’t say it was exactly his fault, but it still seemed unfair. “Ow…” His attention was directed downward after hearing a pitiful groan. He was sprawled out on top of Narancia, probably crushing him. Oops. He moved to the side, but the whining didn’t cease.
He took a closer look. Narancia’s face looked fine, but running a gentle hand through his hair exposed a swelling that was quickly growing. He groaned again when Fugo touched it, sounding even more pathetic. “Sorry…” He patted the uninjured part of Narancia’s head, careful not to disturb him any further. “It looks pretty bad. See, this is why I tell you to be careful.” That was a lot to ask from a gangster, but maybe if Narancia got a bit better about avoiding small injuries, he wouldn’t have to worry so much about him suffering a bigger one.
He waited for Narancia to get up, but he didn’t. He just kept laying there, occasionally letting out an obscenity under his breath. “So, you’re just staying here?” When Narancia just nodded, he sighed. “Come on.” He had picked Narancia up before, but with his new strength, it was easy as lifting an orange. Narancia seemed to feel the difference too, but if he did, he chose not to comment on it.
It wasn’t far to their room. Not bothering to turn the light on, he carefully placed Narancia on his bed, hoping he didn’t have any other injuries. When he appeared settled, Fugo turned to get into his own bed. He wasn’t sure if he would be able to sleep, but at the very least, he needed to just… not do anything for a while. Maybe he would even figure out what to do about his mission.
He stopped. Not of his own will, but because Narancia had grabbed his wrist, and was holding onto it with all his strength- considerable for a human. Fugo could have easily broken his hold and continued, but he turned around, only to be faced with a sly grin. Hadn’t he been completely miserable just seconds earlier? He was sure of it, but before he could ask any questions, Narancia pulled him onto the bed in a single movement.
“What, not even gonna kiss me better? That’s some shitty first aid, Fugo.” The way he hissed Fugo’s name, directly into his ear, sent a shudder through him. His breath was so warm and alive, just like the rest of him, alive and pulsing with blood and-
No. He wasn’t going to listen to what his senses were screaming at him. Keeping his mouth as firmly closed as possible, he pulled himself away even as it was agonising. “N… Not now.”
Narancia pouted, but he let go of Fugo. “Yeah. Guess you’re tired, if you were out all day.” It looked like he was settling back into bed, but at the last second, he took a gentle hold of Fugo’s face to kiss him on the lips. It was brief, but he looked satisfied as he pulled back. “Night.”
Narancia was everywhere. His face, his body, the uniquely tantalising smell that was torture to his acute senses, inspiring a growing hunger for the life energy hidden just under Narancia’s skin. He couldn’t take it anymore. His stomach lurched as he felt the familiar sensation of his body deciding what to do before his mind had a chance to weigh in.
When Fugo turned back towards him and started kissing his neck, Narancia giggled and playfully swatted at him. “Hey, that tickles! Watch it!” Not that he really minded. He wrapped his arms around Fugo and pulled him closer, letting out a contented hum. Finally. After all the work they had been doing, some fun was way overdue.
Apparently Fugo felt the same way, because his kisses quickly got harder and needier, hands urgently grasping at his chest. He laughed, feeling the gentle vibration run through them. “Didn’t take you long to change your mind. Can’t resist me, huh?” That was when Fugo would usually lift his head to make some smart-ass remark, but he only burrowed in further, teeth scraping against Narancia’s skin.
That was pretty hot, or at least it would have been if Fugo’s teeth hadn’t suddenly been so sharp. Narancia hissed and tried to pull backwards, but Fugo’s teeth were somehow stuck in his skin, keeping him from going anywhere. Disentangling one of his arms, he slapped at Fugo’s shoulder. “Dude, your fucking teeth are like knives, quit it!” But he continued, as if he hadn’t even heard Narancia. His teeth slid in further, until rivulets of blood trickled down his neck.
“Fugo! What the hell are you doing?” That got him to look up, but his eyes were staring and glazed over, as if anything resembling rational thought had completely vacated his body. His mouth was smeared with blood and slightly open, revealing long, sharp, red-stained canines. “Y… you’re not Fugo.” It couldn’t be. Fugo was easily angered, and had no issues with beating up strangers for money, but there had always been something sweet and gentle deeper inside him that practically begged to be loved. He wasn’t this… this creature.
But then his eyes opened wider, and awareness seemed to return to them. Suddenly, he looked just like he always had. Except with fangs. “Narancia?” There was something unreadable in his expression. Usually, Narancia wasn’t one to ponder too deeply on what he didn’t understand, but he couldn’t tear his eyes away from Fugo’s face. There was some kind of secret there that he needed to know, at any cost. So when Fugo lowered himself down again, and gave him a soft, sweet kiss without even a hint of sharpness, he couldn’t bring himself to move away.
It was too sweet. Even when he realised that, he was slow to react, using his tongue to push at the strange, syrupy substance that was flowing into his mouth. It didn’t taste or feel like anything he knew of, but it wasn’t particularly bad, either. With Fugo still on top of him, and his mouth still on his, there simply wasn’t time to pull away before some of it slipped down his throat.
His throat turned to ice.
Fugo let go of him, and he immediately took the opportunity to clutch at his throat and start coughing. Some kind of orange-tinted sludge was spilling out of his mouth, more than seemed logical, but the ferocious chill inside him kept spreading. He was going numb, then limp, as if parts of his body were dying off. Already unable to move his arms or speak, he shot Fugo a panicked look, silently pleading for answers.
He couldn’t feel it, but he saw Fugo pat his shoulder, genuine remorse clear in his eyes. “I’m sorry.” He moved his hand up to stroke Narancia’s hair, carefully avoiding the bump from when he had fallen. “It’ll be over soon.”
Over?? He tried to struggle, with all the movement he had left, but he was so weak that he couldn’t have shoved away an infant. Fugo, did you kill me? Why-
Like a light being switched off, his thoughts stopped there.
It took a minute for the transformation to take effect. Sixty full seconds, in which Narancia wasn’t moving, or breathing, or doing anything at all to suggest that he was alive.
If anyone had asked, Fugo would have said that it felt closer to a year. What had he done? Part of him, the sensible part, reminded him that this had been his mission. He was doing exactly what he was supposed to do, nothing more than that. Unfortunately for him, while he stared down at Narancia’s comatose form, the sensible part wasn’t in charge.
“Narancia? Narancia, get up!” He shook Narancia’s slim shoulders, gently at first, then harsh enough to shake his entire body. No response. Though he could hear the rest of the team, sleeping peacefully as if nothing had happened, the room felt far too quiet without Narancia’s heartbeat marking out every second he spent in the world.
He had to mark the seconds himself. Fifty-seven, fifty-eight, fifty-nine.
On the sixtieth second, Narancia’s heart started beating again, slow and sluggish compared to the mostly-steady rhythm of a human heart. Fugo let out a gasp of relief, almost drowning out a low groaning noise from Narancia.
“Ugh… it’s morning already?” Narancia’s eyes fluttered open, quickly narrowing into a squint. That was right- he wouldn’t be used to his new senses yet. He seemed to just barely take notice of Fugo before pulling the blankets over himself and shoving his head under the pillow. A muffled voice came out from underneath. “Just five more minutes, come on.”
Fugo moved to pull him back out, then stopped. Narancia was probably exhausted, and when he thought about it, so was he. Maybe it was better to just let him sleep until he could think of a way to explain himself. Careful not to make a disturbance, he slid off the bed, finally getting into his own. That was still a satisfying feeling, no matter what he was.
Tomorrow, he promised himself. That’s when I’ll come up with a plan. But even with that decided, he just couldn’t seem to get to sleep. He tossed and turned for what felt like hours, flipped his pillow over at least four times, but he was somehow even more awake than when he had gotten into bed. Could he no longer sleep?
“Narancia?” Logically, Narancia should have been having the same problem as him. Fugo waited, but was met with no answer. He turned to look at the other bed, trying not to mess up his blanket too badly in the process. Narancia was fast asleep, head still under his pillow. Wasn’t that uncomfortable?
Completely forgetting the idea of sleep, he laid there and watched Narancia until the sun rose. His mission still didn’t seem any easier, but at least he wasn’t alone.
If your response to being turned into a vampire is going to sleep and deciding to deal with it later, you're valid.
Chapter 3: Something Happened To Me Yesterday
This one took a bit longer than expected, but I'm definitely still writing. If anyone's still reading, thank you!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The house was as quiet as it ever was. An occasional soft creak or sigh sounded from the walls, but that was just a sign of its age, rather than of anyone waking up. The softest suggestion of light glowed from behind the tightly drawn curtains. The air was still, and Fugo was sure he had been watching Narancia for hours. He had barely moved, but it was still somehow calming.
It was calming enough that he didn’t mind closing his eyes for a little while. His thoughts had long since slowed down, offering no resistance as his eyes slid shut. That felt surprisingly nice. He would just keep them closed for a minute, then-
He opened them again with a small shock. Had it already been a minute? He looked over at Narancia’s bed, heart seizing in his chest when he only saw an empty mattress, decorated with a pushed-aside blanket. The fact that Fugo had managed to fall asleep fell to the wayside as he rushed out of the room, not even bothering to smooth his wild hair or rumpled clothes. He still hadn’t told Narancia what happened! He could be going outside right now, into the sunlight!
“Narancia!” He burst into the kitchen, wide eyes scanning the room. Everyone was there except Narancia, all looking back at him with varying levels of confusion or vague amusement. It was only then that he realised he looked like a mess, but that problem could wait.
Buccellati cleared his throat. “I think he’s in the bathroom.” He pointed, as if Fugo didn’t know perfectly well where the bathroom was. “Did you… need anything in particular?”
“Ah… not really.” He took a deep breath. It was okay. He was still in the house. “Just wanted to talk to him.”
“I see.” A tiny smile on his face, Buccellati returned to his breakfast. Abbacchio and Mista also seemed to have lost interest rather quickly, but Giorno was still rather openly staring. The instant Fugo met his eyes, he turned away so smoothly it almost looked natural, but his careful gaze lingered in Fugo’s mind. He was still new to the gang, and Fugo didn’t have the first clue of how to approach him. It was one of the many problems he often had to convince himself not to worry about just yet, especially when Narancia was still unaccounted for.
That was the priority. He tried to completely push Giorno from his mind as he turned, leaving the kitchen doorway behind. The bathroom was on the other side of the house, but he covered the distance in record time. When he took a rest against the door, heavily breathing, it was more out of stress than any physical exhaustion.
“Wait your damn turn!” Apparently Narancia had heard him. He sounded perfectly normal- that was, pissed off because it was morning. Fugo imagined he would hate mornings even more when he heard the news about himself.
“It’s me. I have to tell you-” The door swung open, nearly knocking him over, but he managed to maintain his balance by clinging to the frame. Before he had the chance to stand fully upright, he was dragged into the bathroom, door slamming closed behind him.
He could already feel a headache coming on. He let out a small groan before allowing his eyes to focus. That was Narancia, all right- he was paler, his face was a little sharper, and he didn’t smell like life anymore, but that warm, slightly disorienting feeling Fugo associated with him (and steadfastly refused to label) was still there. It didn’t make his task ahead any easier. “I have to tell you…. something.” Ugh, why couldn’t he do it? He couldn’t just keep vaguely alluding to things, Narancia would never get it that way.
“What, that you turned me into a vampire?” Narancia grinned, very deliberately showing off his fangs. “I kinda already figured that one out.”
He turned back to the mirror for a moment, just long enough for Fugo to let out a sputtering noise that almost sounded like an attempt at words. “But you…” He gestured vaguely towards the mirror, then Narancia. “Aren’t you… mad?”
“Huh?” Narancia looked back at Fugo. “Oh yeah, I’m super pissed you didn’t ask me first, and I’m gonna kick your ass for it later. But right now?” Despite immediate protests, he grabbed Fugo around the waist, easily lifting him up onto the bench next to the sink. “It’s pretty cool.”
While Fugo struggled for words, Narancia continued. “So that means you’re one too, right? I mean, you kind of went to town on my neck.” He tapped the side of his neck, conspicuously free of blemish. “I mean, it’s gone now, but I totally remember it.” Once Fugo looked calmer, he gently shoved him aside, taking a seat on the bench next to him. “So, who got you? Was it Abbacchio? I always thought there was something up with him.”
Fugo shook his head, staring down at his lap. “It wasn’t him.” What exactly had the underboss said? Make sure no one knows what you’re doing until it’s already too late for them. That meant what he thought it meant, right? Even if it didn’t, he would completely lose it if he had no one to confide in. He would have to take the risk. “Actually… it’s part of a mission.”
“A mission?” If Fugo had been looking up, he might have seen a skeptical look on Narancia’s face. “So you’re saying it was Polpo? What does he need vampires for?” Trying to pretend he didn’t hear that word, Fugo shook his head again.
“Not him either. I’m talking about ‘The Boss’.” The emphasis was clear in his voice, and from the way Narancia’s eyes widened and his voice dropped into an awed whisper, the message had been received.
“Oh.” They fell silent after that, until Fugo spoke up again.
“I have to do it to all of us. The same thing I did to you. You’re the only one so far.”
Narancia blinked at that, suddenly looking slightly alarmed. “You’re not gonna kiss them, are you?”
“No, no, no.” Fugo shook his head reassuringly. “No way. There’s different ways to do it.” He wondered if he could say anything else that would put any concern to rest, but Narancia quickly smiled again. Either he really wasn’t all that worried, or he was just pretending not to be. “Anyway, don’t go outside during the day, no matter what.” The underboss had spared no details about exactly what would happen if any of them broke that rule.
“Yeah, I figured. And I have to drink blood, and I can’t go near crosses, and I can turn into a bat if I try really hard.” He was already grinning again.
“Actually, not those last two. Let me just tell you everything.” Narancia seemed disappointed already, but he listened to Fugo explain the exact limits of their power. It seemed to go over just fine until a passing mention of them no longer ageing.
“Hang on.” Holding up a hand, Narancia leaned a bit closer. “So I’m never going to get any older, ever?” When Fugo shook his head, he let out a frustrated noise that could only be described as a shriek. “Fugo, you asshole! I was gonna turn eighteen in like, a few weeks! Now I’m a kid forever, and it’s your fault!”
Oh. That was something Fugo hadn’t thought about- not that it would have changed anything, really. “Yell at me later, okay? We can’t let anyone know what's going on, boss said so.” There was a truly world-class pout on Narancia’s face, which told Fugo he was absolutely going to get it, but all he did was slide off the bench and head towards the door. After a minute, Fugo followed. I guess that could have gone worse.
“Oh, there you are.” Fugo froze. He had hoped to sneak through the kitchen and back to his room unnoticed, but Buccellati had caught sight of him halfway to the door, waving in an effort to catch his attention. “Can you do something for me?”
He asked politely, but Fugo already knew refusing wouldn’t be an option. “Sure, what is it?” His back was pressed against the wall, ready to push off and make a run for it at any second. Buccellati looked calm as ever, but Fugo had known him long enough to be aware of the tension in the room. He doubted that his boss was fully aware of the circumstances, but he had definitely caught on to something being up. Whether that would cause trouble for him later, he couldn’t tell.
“Well, you know the trouble we were having with Patatine?” Fugo nodded. The casino owner who was clearly making plenty but refusing to pay up had been a thorn in their side for weeks. “He’s just not getting the message, it seems. I was going to have Narancia go with Mista to deal with him, but he’s gotten sick.” So that was why he looked so pale, with such a tightly furrowed brow. Buccellati always worried way too much whenever anyone on the team got sick. But…
“Sick? With what?” Buccellati just shrugged.
“Some kind of flu, I guess. He certainly didn’t look well. You might have to sleep somewhere else for a few days, it would be bad for us if you got it too.”
Just how suspicious was he? Fugo wanted to look closer, but being caught staring too much wouldn’t do him any favours. Instead, he just nodded. “Understood. Is that everything?”
“One more thing.” He pointed towards the small living room. Above the couch, Fugo caught a glimpse of Mista’s hat. “I’ll have you go with Mista instead. You know the drill, let him know we aren’t playing around. If he still doesn’t get it…” The gesture he made wouldn’t have been guessed by a civilian, but Fugo was intimately familiar with what it meant. “Do what you have to do.”
On any other day, that would have been an easy request. He had “talked to” enough business owners that he could probably do it in his sleep, and that hadn’t changed, but there was a much larger, looming problem in between him and his task. “A-actually… I’m not feeling all that well either, now that I think about it.” His voice was rough and pitchy, usually an embarrassment, but it could only help him at that moment.
Or maybe it couldn’t. Bruno just frowned, unmoved. “There was nothing wrong a few minutes ago. Do you just not want to go?” A few seconds of ashamed silence told him all he needed to know, or so he thought. “…I get it.” A careful hand rested on Fugo’s shoulder for just a moment, before slipping back down to his side. “It wears on you, after a while. I know. But there’s not much we can do but keep going.”
He wondered about doing something more, some greater gesture of care and concern, but decided against it. He wasn’t so sure that Fugo didn’t want that kind of affection, but the fact remained that it mostly seemed to make him uncomfortable. “I’ll see what I can do about you getting a break soon,” he promised. “But I need you to do this today. It won’t take long, and you’ll have Mista. You know you can trust him.”
That was true, Fugo could trust Mista, but that didn’t really help him. It mostly just made him feel worse. They all trusted each other, which meant that everyone trusted him, and what was he doing? Letting them down, when he wasn’t turning them into soulless demons. “I… okay. I’ll go get ready. Sorry for bothering you.”
“Not at all.” But Fugo didn’t hear his reply. He had already left the room. As soon as he could be sure no one was watching, he ducked into his room. He needed a plan, and fast. He remembered too late that the room wouldn’t be empty.
There was Narancia, sitting on his bed and quietly beatboxing to one of his many rap albums. All in all, Fugo rarely saw someone who looked less like they had an awful flu. It was enough to irritate the frustration that had been building at his own circumstances, flaring up into white-hot fury that seized control of his limbs. Striding over to the bed, he grabbed at Narancia’s Walkman, pulling it hard enough to dislodge both earphones.
It was only then that Narancia even seemed to realise he was in the room, looking up with an unimpressed glare. “Fugo, what the fuck?”
“I’ll tell you what the fuck!” It was nowhere close to one of his worst outbursts, but he still felt out of control, arms waving around wildly in a clumsy effort to express himself. “You sold me out! Now I have to figure out what the hell I’m gonna do about going outside, and I know you won’t even try to help me. That’s what the fuck, Narancia.”
To his credit, Narancia did look somewhat chagrined, a hand reaching up to grab at his own face. “Shit… it’s such an easy mission, I thought he’d send Giorno for sure. Sorry.”
Fugo took a deep breath. His anger never lasted long, and it was already fading to the point where he couldn’t see why he had gotten so worked up. “No… I’m sorry. I’ll figure something out, don’t worry about it.” Now, if only he actually had some kind of idea, or even a bit more time.
“The problem’s the sun, right?” Narancia leaned forward. “So if no sun actually gets on you, then you should be fine. If only we had, like, a suit of armour or something.” He quickly stopped laughing when he saw Fugo’s face, but for once, Fugo wasn’t annoyed at his remarks. Instead, he suddenly seemed deep in thought.
“No… we don’t have one… but…” With vampire speed, he crossed the room in an instant, opening up the closet that held their rather small collection of clothes. They spent plenty on clothing, but not much of it lasted long- some stains just didn’t come out. Fugo had gotten into the habit of trying to buy red clothes whenever possible.
Looking at the neatly folded stacks, the idea he had been waiting for flashed into his mind. It would be risky, but he could do it. He could do this after all. “I’ve got it.”
Bruno is the boss/mentor/father we all wish we had. As long as you don't mind zippers in weird places.