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Ocean Man, Take Me by the Hand Lead Me to the Land

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Jotaro’s first thought when he opened his eyes to brilliant sunlight streaming in through his uncovered window is, oh my sweet Jesus the world is ending.

His second, end of the world or not, I think it’s appropriate to get down on my knees and thank every god I can think of that I don’t have to spend another minute cooped up in a tiny house with a hyperactive five-year-old.

Jotaro stirred in his bed, stretching his limbs as he smiled softly. The peace and quiet was welcome, and for once in god knew how long, he was able to bask in the silence that he hadn’t felt in a long time. The relentless rain that the past few weeks had provided had just about driven him mad, pelting against his windows and depriving his mind of the silence that it so desperately craved as he attempted to work. Not to mention the amount of times he’d had to physically restrain an overly ecstatic Jolyne from going outside to play in the downpour, lest her 5-year-old self end up with a cold and give him yet another headache to deal with.

Jotaro sighed and rolled over, hoping to get in a few more hours of sleep. Children were both a blessing and a curse, he was now coming to realise.

Just as his mind started to blank, a comforting darkness settling in behind his eyelids, a high-pitched shriek startled him into a sitting position. He fumbled with the sheets for a few seconds, having about fifty heart attacks as he did so because what the fuck, is Jolyne being murdered, before his door flew open and a small body- which should not been nearly as heavy nor as powerful as it was- hit him fully on the chest. It forced a small ‘oof’ out of Jotaro, and he found himself pinned back against the pillows while his hyperactive daughter laughed and clapped her hands.

“Daddy, there’s sun outside!”

Jotaro blinked, trying to will his heart back down to a more normal pace. “I thought you liked the rain, Jojo.” He raised his eyebrow at her, and she stared at him with her wide, innocent eyes, before narrowing them.

“Yeah, but not when I can’t go outside and play in it.” She pouted slightly and Jotaro chuckled as he prodded gently at her side, drawing a giggle out of her as she tried to bat his hand away.

“That’s only because I know how easily you get sick. Now come on, let me up so that I can make breakfast.” Jolyne’s eyes lit up and she scrambled off of him, bouncing excitedly on the balls of her feet.

“Can you make pancakes please? I haven’t had them in aaaaaaaaages,” she drawled, clasping her tiny hands together as she stared pleadingly at her father. Jotaro snorted as he regarded her, rubbing his chest and wincing as he sat up once more. He wasn’t sure how the amount of time the rain had endured counted as ‘ages’, but he supposed that time worked differently for children. At least now he could let her run off her sugar rush in the backyard.

He ruffled her hair as he stood up, smoothing down his wrinkled sleep shirt. “Sure, kiddo.” He caught sight of his work notebook as he ushered his daughter out of the room and went to pick it up, an idea rapidly forming in his mind as he rooted through his closet for some clothes. The notebook was practically full, a result of many sleepless nights and countless hours of work, but if it still had room, which he was sure that it did, then it wouldn’t hurt to take it with him.

Once dressed, he slung a bag with his notebook and various other tools he needed for his work over his shoulder and made his way downstairs to the kitchen, where Jolyne was already waiting eagerly at the kitchen table. Her pyjama clad tiny feet swung from where they dangled off of her high chair. Jotaro smiled at this as he set his things down and rolled up his sleeves, getting to work on their breakfast. He heard Jolyne snort behind him, no doubt recognising what the bag was for.

“Daddy, it’s Sunday. You always tell me that work on a Sunday is bad.” She poked distastefully at the bag and Jotaro laughed guiltily, inwardly cringing at the blatant lie that his daughter so obviously believed. That was going to be fun to deal with when she got older.

“I thought we could go to the beach today and enjoy the sun. You’d like that, yeah? It’s been a while since we did that.” He turned around just in time to catch her as Jolyne launched herself at him- again- and outright laughed as he spun her around once before plopping her back onto her feet. Jolyne didn’t say anything, but she practically radiated gratitude as she hugged his leg tightly and took off, no doubt rushing to her room to get her beach things ready. Jotaro swiped a hand over his mouth, grinning as he finished up the pancakes and set them down in a heap on the table.

~~~

“It’s hot.”

Jotaro had to agree. The car, despite the rolled down windows, would have made anyone feel as though they were sitting inside an oven. Jotaro fiddled with the air conditioning once more before giving up. How convenient of it to break just when they needed it most.

At least Jolyne didn’t seem to be nearly as affected as Jotaro was- all decked out in her pink one-piece suit, decorated with flowers of varying colours, she didn’t seem to be at all bothered. On the other hand, Jotaro, in his long, albeit white, coat, was just about ready to shrivel up and die, dear god why did he have to be so damn modest all the time it was literally impacting his health-

“Daddy I think you missed the turn. Isn’t the entrance back there?” Jotaro was yanked out of his thoughts as he turned to his daughter, now sitting on her knees with her upper body fully outside the window, head turned towards the back of the car. Jotaro frowned as he hooked a finger around one of the straps of her suit and yanked her back, causing her to yelp as she fell back and nearly tumbled off the seat.

“Down, Jojo. That’s dangerous,” he murmured, searching for a point where he could turn around. Jolyne wrinkled her nose at him, but after she righted herself and caught sight of her father’s frowning face, she giggled.

“Silly daddy. Maybe I should drive next time.” She made little grabby hands at the wheel while Jotaro stared at her, horrified.

“Absolutely not. You’d kill us both.”

~~~

The heat was slightly more bearable under the shade that their huge umbrella provided, but it still wasn’t all that much better. Jotaro cracked his neck and stood up, muttering to himself as he finally relented and shed his shirt. He’d been keeping an eye on Jolyne and the new friend she’d made 0.3 seconds after Jotaro set up the umbrella, but the kid seemed more or less alright, and besides, her parents weren’t sitting too far away from where the two were playing. Jotaro bent to pick up his notebook and nodded in their direction as he walked out from under the shade. The sand burned the bottoms of his feet, but he ignored it. Only a few more steps before he reached the water, anyway.

A startled ‘daddy!’ was his only warning before something wet and cold smacked him right on his neck. He grunted as he touched the affected area, wincing as bits of cold, wet sand slid down his back. He turned, narrowing his eyes in the girls’ direction, both of whom had wide eyes and hands over their mouths.

“Hermes! What did I tell you about throwing sand? Now look at what you’ve done!” Jotaro watched as the girl’s mother suddenly appeared by her side, scolding her. The girl- Hermes, he believed- dropped her hands, placing them behind her back as her lower lip wobbled. Jotaro sighed as he walked up, noticing that his own daughter was avoiding his eyes.

“Actually, I tell Jolyne that all the time too. So,” he easily scooped Jolyne up and threw her over his shoulder, earning himself a muffled squeak as her tiny feet kicked at his chest. “I think a little lesson is in order.” He tucked his notebook into his swim trunks and steadied Jolyne on his shoulder, before turning to the other girl’s mother- who had a very noticeable blush on her face- with a smile. “May I?” He asked, gesturing at Hermes. Her mother nodded wordlessly and stepped away, allowing Jotaro to repeat the process with Hermes, except on his other shoulder. He turned to the water and waded in until it was about mid- thigh, then, with as much force as he possibly could, hurled them both into the air (to his disappointment, it wasn’t nearly as high as he thought it was going to be), and watched silently as they both crashed into the water.

Hermes surfaced first, sputtering and coughing, and Jotaro frowned as he looked around for Jolyne, not noticing her tiny form weaving around his legs until she gripped his feet and pulled- hard, causing him to lose his balance and fall backwards into the water with a shout. When his head broke the surface, the girls were giggling and high- fiving each other. Jotaro stood up once more, regarding them both intently as he reached out his hands. The girls squealed and dove underwater in separate directions. Jotaro spun around, but their movements were too fast for him to track. Near the edge of the water, Jolyne stood up and started waving at her father, pulling faces. He started in her direction before something poked him in the back, and he looked behind just as the short dreadlocks that the other girl sported disappeared back under the water. Jotaro ran his hand through his wet hair and waited until Hermes was in perfect striking distance. She gasped as she was dragged suddenly out of the water and rendered momentarily air-borne. Jotaro smirked at her when surfaced once more, crossing her arms and glaring at him. A small, mischievous smile soon found its way onto her face though, and Jotaro had about half a second to realise that he’d forgotten about Jolyne until he found himself submerged once more, inhaling a good bit of water as he went under.

~~~

Jotaro had completely lost track of time. He only noticed the sun setting when Hermes’ parents started calling for her- apart from a short break that the three of them had taken to eat, in which Jotaro familiarised himself with the other girl’s parents, they’d remained in the water for the better part of the day.

Now, both Hermes and Jolyne clung to Jotaro’s legs as he struggled to walk, attempting to shake them off every few steps. “Let. Go. Of. Me. You. Brats.” He huffed, trying to catch his breath. Jolyne noted his state and giggled as she tightened her arms around the leg she clung to. Unfortunately, this caused Jotaro’s trunks to slowly start their descent down, and he grasped at the waistband in alarm, shooting a pleading look at his daughter.

He heard a chuckle and looked up as Hermes was removed from Jotaro’s leg. He sighed in relief as Jolyne followed suit, unlatching herself from his legs with a huff. Hermes’ mother, who now had her own daughter propped up on her hip, smiled at Jotaro as he adjusted his trunks.

“Thank you so much for today. Hermes hasn’t been outside in a while because of all this rain we’ve been having. Why don’t you say thank you to Jotaro, Hermes?” In response, the girl shyly ducked her head into her mother’s neck, all her previous bravado seemingly disappearing with the sun. Jotaro smiled as her mother patted her back reassuringly.

“That’s alright. Jolyne needed a break too, so really, it’s my pleasure.” At her name, he felt Jolyne’s tiny hand slide into his own. She tugged on it.

“Daddy, can I play with Hermes again?”

Jotaro looked down at his daughter. “Of course, sweetheart. If that’s alright with her mother?” The latter nodded, and Jolyne beamed.

“Cool. Hey Hermes, you should come to my house sometime! It’s really nice and stuff and I have all these cool toys-” this set off a stream of conversation between the two while the adults laughed.

“Right well, let me just get my… home… phone…” Jotaro stopped patting his trunks and looked up in alarm. Of course. Of course this would happen to him.

Hermes’ mother looked at him in concern. “What’s wrong?”

Jotaro dragged his hand out of Jolyne’s and rested it on his head, gripping at his hair. “My notebook. I must have dropped it somewhere-” He exhaled, and the other woman furrowed her brow, reaching into her bag with one hand to show him a soaking wet notebook in a plastic baggie. Jotaro eyes widened.

“Do you happen to mean this? I found it earlier when the girls-”

She didn’t even get to finish her sentence before Jotaro swore, reaching for the bag.

“Motherfuc-

Needless to say, that night, no amounts of bubbles in his bath could soothe Jotaro’s prickly mood, much to Jolyne’s dismay.