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Unbreakable Diamond, Protean Rain

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Chapter 1: Welcome to Morioh

When Fubuki was around seven-years-old, he went on a hiking trip with a local scouting group and he ended up getting lost in the mountains.

He spent all night alone by himself. His scouting outfit could not protect him from the cold air and rain. His hair is black and on his face is a pair of eyeglasses, but they are broken.

Fubuki sat under a thick tree and hugged his body in an attempt to stay warm. He tried to light a small fire, but the rain keeps dousing it. He tried to stay awake the best he can because he is afraid that if he falls asleep, he will die.

He shivered and imagined every noise in the forest is a monster, lurking and waiting for him to drop his guard. He could feel his eyes getting heavier but his heart is pounding...

"Are you okay?"

Fubuki groggily opened his eyes.

The first thing he noticed is that rain has stopped and the air is filled with mist. It is now morning.

Standing before him was another boy around his age. Fubuki could not see him clearly, his vision is a blur. He realized he must have lost his glasses—though they were broken anyway. The other boy has his hand out for Fubuki... who reluctantly reached out and took it.

"Are you lost?" the boy asked.

Fubuki slowly nodded. His throat is so dry. His hair and shoulders are wet. He started shivering again when he noticed someone had wrapped a thick blanket around him. The other boy crouched down and gave Fubuki back his glasses.

"You drop this..." he said. He placed the glasses back on Fubuki's face.

To Fubuki's surprise, his glasses have been miraculously fixed. Now he could see the other boy clearly: The boy has short, messy hair and his blue eyes looked almost purple so early this morning. Then the other boy hugged Fubuki to keep him warm.

"It's okay, I'm here."

At that moment, the boy's grandfather arrived with a rescue team who had been looking for Fubuki all night. The boy and his grandfather have been camping together when they came across Fubuki earlier that morning. The boy stayed with Fubuki while his grandfather ran back down the mountain fetch help.

That was how Fubuki met Josuke Higashikata.

*&*&*

"It's going to die."

Fubuki is standing over Josuke, who was crouched to the ground near a new road that's being constructed. The two of them came across a little puppy lying on a puddle of tar on its side. Its terrified mother is licking its poor baby who is whining helplessly. Josuke tried many times to pull the puppy out from the tar but it was stuck to it.

"No!" Josuke cried, shaking his head.

"It's going to die, we can't help it," Fubuki told him in a cold tone. "We can put it out of its misery."

"No, don't!"

Josuke pulled away from Fubuki's grip and covered the stuck puppy, crying fat tears out of his eyes. Frustrated, Fubuki picked up a rock.

"Stop crying!" he insisted. "It's going to starve to death! You want to see it suffer in pain?!"

Josuke continued crying while the puppy was heard whimpering under his arms.

"The weak and sick ones die. That's how nature works."

The puppy suddenly stopped whimpering. Fubuki thought Josuke had killed it, but the latter stood up.

Josuke is beaming and he's carrying the puppy—who is miraculously freed from the tar. He gently placed the puppy down near its mother.

Fubuki is so awed that he dropped the rock. At that time, he barely understood how Josuke managed to help the puppy, and why he would go out of his way to do that...


Nine years passed, Fubuki Kurosawa grew into a young man with feminine features. He still wore eyeglasses since he was a kid, but he grew out his hair, making it long so it can flow gracefully behind him. He wears a pair of jade earrings, which make him look even more stylish. 

Despite his elegant and prim appearance, a cloud of darkness has filled Fubuki's heart for the past five years.

He is sitting inside a train making its way out of the city. On his lap is a scrapbook made for the past several years. It was open and Fubuki noticed the passenger sitting next to him is reading it. Fubuki snapped it shut to prevent the passenger to read any further.

The train finally reached his destination: Morioh, his old hometown, where he grew up until he and his family moved out when he turned 8-yrs-old.

His parents wanted him to attend a prestigious high school in the city to further his education, but Fubuki's doctor pleaded for them to let him attend high school in Morioh.

Fubuki is struggling with some health problems. Even though he is physically healthy, his parents know there is something wrong with him... Five years ago, Fubuki's grades declined and he suffered night terrors. It only lasted for several months and Fubuki continued to have a normal, uneventful life. However, last year, Fubuki started sleepwalking and having nightmares again. He also developed a mild paranoia behavior; he refused to go to sleep unless he placed small bowls of salt in all four corners of his bedroom. Fubuki refused to explain the salt bowls while he pretends he doesn't have problems.

The doctor told his parents that he believed the cause of Fubuki's behavior is linked to a childhood trauma five years ago and prescribed medications won't be enough to help him. Not only Morioh is his childhood hometown, but the fresh air and stress-free environment away from the fast-paced city would help him recuperate faster.

It took a while to convince Fubuki's mother, but she told her son that he is wasting his brilliant mind, while his father doesn't seem to mind; Mr. Kurosawa, who was born in Morioh, is a well-known professor in archaeology and he owns a museum in the city. He even built a new museum in Morioh, which would celebrate the town's local history. However, Mr. Kurosawa had been busy getting prepared to go on the next archaeological dig, so he cannot be in Morioh to see the new museum open to the public in summer. Fubuki's mother came from a wealthy family and she often pushed her son to study hard so he can have a promising career. Fubuki recalls no memory of his mother smiling.

While he's going to school in Morioh, Fubuki will be living with his uncle (who happens to be the twin brother of his father) and his Italian grandmother. The moment Fubuki stepped out from the train, Norisuke Kurosawa is already waiting for him at the station. For a man almost 50-years-old, he still looked almost young. He has dark hair slicked back, and a dark mustache and goatee. He wore a buttoned shirt with tacky designs and a raspberry beret with pins sticking out.

He snapped a photo of his nephew with a camera.

"Welcome to your first day back in Morioh!!" Uncle Norisuke smiled, giving his nephew a big clap on the back. "You haven't changed much... Well, except your hair grew much longer last time I visited you. How's Fuyusuke?"

"Father's fine, I guess," Fubuki replied in a dull voice. "By the way, you covered the lens with your finger."

Uncle Norisuke looked down at his camera. "Ack!!"

Fubuki only has a schoolbag with him. The rest of his clothes and personal possessions were already delivered to Uncle Norisuke's home a week before, around the same time Fubuki passed his entrance exams.

They took a taxi to a two-floor building called Spider Threads in Kotodai Neighborhood, Block 4-28, owned and operated by Uncle Norisuke. To get there, one should take the number 11 bus from Morioh station then get off at the Kotodai shopping district.

Spider Threads sells and repairs made-to-order clothes, and is open for business every day except Sunday. Uncle Norisuke is an exceptionally skilled tailor and his shop is popular among high school students who want to get their uniforms altered on short notice and at a decent price.

While Spider Threads is on the lowest level of the building, Uncle Norisuke and his mother (Fubuki's grandmother) live in the upstairs apartment. This portion of the building consists of a living room, a kitchen and dining room, a single bathroom, two bedrooms, and an attic.

The shop is closed today and tomorrow, Fubuki will be attending his first day in high school.

When they entered the shop, Uncle Norisuke took off his shoes and tried to persuade Fubuki to do the same.

"I just replaced the carpet, the texture feels so soft and fluffy you almost wanna sleep on it!" Norisuke exclaimed. "Come on, try it out!"

Fubuki didn't remove his shoes, however. He just looked at his laid-back uncle, who acts a bit childish for his age. This is one of the reasons why his mother is against the idea of Fubuki living with him...

He followed his uncle to the backroom, leading to the upstairs apartment. When he reached the top, something small bumped into him—almost knocking the air out of him. It was his grandmother. She is a small, old lady with her gray hair tied into pigtails. She is wearing a cardigan over a simple gray dress.

"Fubukiii~!" she exclaimed, kissing his cheeks much to his embarrassment. "I can't believe my favorite grandchild will be living with us!"

"I'm your ONLY grandchild, Grandma Juri," Fubuki mumbled. He seemed rather stiff from being hugged and kissed.

"More reason to spoil you," she giggled. "Your stuff is upstairs. Do you want us to help you unpack?"

"No, that's fine. I have my own methodical way of putting my things in order."

"Since you'll be living with us from now on, I've changed the attic to a bedroom," Uncle Norisuke told Fubuki. He is still bare-footed. "It's a bit small, but you don't have to bend your head down to move around."

"I'm not going to be staying here for three whole years," Fubuki said. "My parents, I mean... my mother expects positive changes from me by the end of the year before I moved back to the city."

Grandma Juri looked a little disappointed, but she understood. She slowly walked to the kitchen, whether to be alone or to make tea...

Her real name is Julia Zeppeli. Many years ago, her father abandoned her and her four other siblings. Years later, she met a famous Japanese artist who would later become her husband and she moved to Japan to live with him. Julia used to visit her old family in Italy every summer until she stopped when her last sibling died. Her husband even died many years ago so she lives with her son nowadays, who also takes care of her.

Uncle Norisuke rested a hand on Fubuki's shoulder.

"There's no need to rush... it's okay for you to stay as long as you like." He then switches from his sympathetic smile to an excited grin. "Besides! Don't you want to see your 'Welcome-Back-Home' gift? It's upstairs waiting for you, and I've made it just like you wanted!"

This made Fubuki curious. He made his way up the stairs to the attic, where his new room is. It is small, but it's comfortable for a boy of his height. The ceiling is slanted and the wooden floor is covered in a similar soft carpet like the one in his uncle's shop. A round-shaped window is facing outside the street but Fubuki felt like keeping the curtains closed today. A secondhand personal computer is sitting on top of his desk, which Fubuki will gladly use for future homework and research. An old rocking chair is sitting in the corner. Several unopened boxes lay everywhere in the room. Fubuki wanted to get some unpacking done but his eyes caught a school uniform lying on his bed. Fubuki had been looking forward to seeing it.

Fubuki puts away his school bag and scrapbook. He changes into his new uniform and is awed at how fitting and comfortable it felt. It was completely dark with few modifications. It has a couple of blue belts spread vertically in the front, and another band over his shoulder. The collar of the uniform has two pins in the shape of the letters "P" and "R". On the shoulder band is a silver brooch in the shape of a diamond with a cross design in the middle.

Fubuki then found an envelope containing all the old letters he received from his second cousin Hitomi Isaji-Zeppeli. The two aren't very close because they live far apart, but she and her family used to visit him and she would play with him. His favorite letter from her was about the time she went on a fifty-day trip to Egypt. The last letter she wrote to him was about the tragic death of her father and she was pregnant around that time.

While Fubuki is reading the letters, his uncle came up to see him.

"What did you think? Did I do a good job?" Uncle Norisuke asked.

"It's... fantastic," Fubuki replied. Trying not to smile so much. "It's exactly how I ordered it. I didn't ask for these two belts, though."

"Consider it as part of a new trend with the high school kids nowadays," Uncle Norisuke said. He has an idea. "Why don't you go around town for a bit? Not only to get used to the town, but also to the feel of your uniform before you start school?"

Fubuki stopped cold at that idea. "And get this dirty? No, thank you."

"I'll clean it in time! Come on... at least try to find a good route to your school."

Fubuki sighed. "Alright."

Uncle Norisuke grinned happily and he snapped another photo of his nephew in his new school uniform. This time, he removed his finger from the lens.

*&*&*

Fubuki took a break from exploring the town and decided to buy a cold tea at a simple but rather unremarkable outdoor cafe called Deux Magots. It must have recently rained earlier today, due to a number of water puddles he has seen. During his walk, he realized how much the town has changed since the last he has been here.

Before, this suburb town was run mostly by agriculture business. The town even got a long history behind it, all the way to the Jomon era; originally, Morioh is the home of many martial arts training grounds and vacation homes of samurais. Fubuki's father told him his ancestors were part of them and that's why the Kurosawa family name holds high status. Even now, there are still many villas of samurai left.

Morioh then underwent a rapid transformation during the first half of the 1980s. Government officials decided to invest money in Morioh to develop it, as its population was quickly increasing with workers from the adjacent city. The streets were repaired, shops and markets were built and pretty houses were lined up on the land that used to be rice fields.

"Let's see, what else do I remember..." he muttered to himself. "The town's flower is the Adonis and its specialty is miso-flavored beef tongue."

The town seemed to change so much, but it's still the same. In fact... the same could be said for me, he thought. Ever since last September, I've been seeing things that nobody else could see... and then I discovered a strange power...

He checked the time on his watch. It's about time he heads back to Uncle Norisuke's place. After leaving the cafe, he picked up a water bottle from a vending machine.

He decided to take a detour through an alley when he is stopped by a male punk with a mustache, who is also wearing a school uniform. The punk would not let Fubuki pass through.

"Are you a student from Budo?" he asked.

Fubuki narrowed his eyes at him.

"Isn't it obvious?" Fubuki asked.

The punk smiled and held out a hand.

"If you'd like to pass through, that's 5,000 yen," he said.

Fubuki looked at the punk as though he was being ridiculous. He coldly brushed the punk away. He was about to turn around and leave, but another punk—smaller than the first one, but has a bad hair instead of a mustache appeared out of nowhere.

"If you're going back, it's 10,000 yen," the second punk snickered.

Fubuki slowly backed into a wall, stepping on a puddle of rainwater.

"Listen, I've just arrived in town and this is a new uniform," Fubuki warned the two in a cold tone. He pulled out a wallet and flashed bills at them, which got them attention. "I only have 50,000 yen here... But it wouldn't be enough to cover the cost of your hospital bills."

The two punks guffawed, thinking he made a stupid joke. Fubuki's eyes glanced down and noticed the water puddle he is standing in slowly began to move towards the punks.

Fubuki was then immediately shoved against the wall.

"You think you're fucking funny, pretty boy?!" the first punk yelled, spitting at his face. "We tried to be polite! Give us the 15,000 like you were told!"

Fubuki grimaced at the punk's terrible breath and saliva on his face and glasses. He ignored the punk once and walked away from him, bumping against his shoulder. The punk grabbed his shoulder.

"Hey! Don't just go like that!"

"Purple Rain," Fubuki said.

Suddenly, a ghost-like arm appeared and punched the first punk in the chest, knocking him back into his partner. The two punks slipped and fell on the ground, hurting themselves. Fubuki smoothed down his uniform. With a short "Hmph!" under his breath, he walked away with his nose up in the air.

The two punks try to get up so they can go after Fubuki and beat him up... but they slipped and fell down again. They are now lying in a puddle of water, and their uniforms are soaked.

"H-Hey! What's wrong with the water?!" the second punk demanded, his voice high in fear. "It's slick like oil! It's making us slippery!"

Fubuki turned the corner. He then heard another voice chuckling.

"Is that your Stand?" a male voice asked.

Fubuki stopped and turned around. He saw someone leaning against a wall, hidden under the shadow of a building. It was a young man he has long, light hair folded onto itself above his head in the sculpture of a flat-top. He has a curl at his forehead and a braided ponytail at the back. He wears earrings shaped as downwards arrows.

He is wearing a double-breasted school uniform, the collar which appears to read "BADC O." His right shoulder is the Japanese kanji for "trillion" and his left reads "TRILLION" between shoulder and elbow.

Fubuki has met him before.

"Didn't think I'd see you again... And what did you just say?" Fubuki asked, adjusting his glasses.

"It's the power I awakened in you," the young man told him. "Remember the first night we met? I shot the Arrow into your throat... and you survived."

Fubuki instinctively touched his throat, but he recalled brief flashes an antique arrow piercing his throat...

"... What are you doing here?" Fubuki demanded.

"Morioh is where I live," the young man answered. "And I see you moved here a well."

"What a coincidence."

"Coincidence? I think it's something more... The two of us are alike, and people like us are drawn to each other."

Fubuki stared at him, his expression emotionless and frosty.

"Where are the Bow and Arrow now?" Fubuki asked.

"That's not for you to be concerned about," the young man said. "I've come with a proposition. How would you like to join up with me? I'm looking for more comrades of our kind, people called Stand users."

"You didn't specify what a Stand is," Fubuki said.

"A Stand is a spiritual power awakened within your mind... It's the same one you just used on those two buffoons. I've already seen it before, but let me see it again."

Fubuki had no choice but to reveal a slim, athletic humanoid with a white body and purple stripes on its arms and legs. It wears a striped Renaissance hat with a feather stuck to it. The young man did not move from his spot but he was able to inspect Fubuki's Stand from afar.

"Care to provide a demonstration of what your Stand can do?" the young man asked. "Maybe it has the power what I'm looking for."

Fubuki sighed but he obeyed. He pulled out his water bottle, pulled off the cap. He turned it upside down a bit, letting half of the water spill right into the open hand of his Stand.

The moment the water touched Fubuki's Stand, it turned into a jelly-like substance. Fubuki's Stand molded the water into a ball and let it bounce on the ground which intrigued the young man.

"My Stand can control the property of water, making it thick as honey or thin as oil," Fubuki explained. His Stand let go of the molded water ball. When it fell on the ground, it reverted back to normal and splashed water everywhere. "Maybe if I solidify water thick enough, it might stop a bullet... Well, is it enough for me to join your club?"

"Let me check," the young man smiled.

Fubuki heard tiny sounds of guns clicking. Fubuki's Stand instantly used the remaining water from the bottle and stretched it out like taffy around its user. Tiny bullets began firing out of nowhere, and they hit the water, but none can pass through it. The firing stopped and Fubuki looked around, trying to see what was shooting at him. He then turned to the young man in apprehension.

"What was that about?!" Fubuki yelled.

"It's just a demonstration," the young man justified. "Welcome to the team, Kurosawa. While your Stand's power is interesting, I'm not exactly sure it's the one I'm looking for..."

"Well, I apologize for not meeting your requirements," Fubuki said sarcastically, while the water wall dispersed around him.

"Regardless, anyone chosen by the Arrow has the power to take lives," the young man said.

"... Is that why you made me a Stand user?"

"No, I just wanted a guinea pig to see if the Arrow does work. If we didn't meet that night, I wouldn't consider making you a Stand user."

"Why is that?"

"I only choose people who are more dangerous or violent. Criminals usually have more chances to develop this kind of ability."

Fubuki stared at him. "Criminals...?" 

"Indeed. In fact, last year, I met one in prison and awakened his Stand before his execution. He managed to break out and he had some fun with his new power... He's here in Morioh too, and he's a man called Angelo."

At the mention of the name, Fubuki's blood turned cold.

"I'll be seeing you again soon," the young man as he began walking away. "Tomorrow's your first day of school, isn't it? Now that you're one of us, I will give you my name... Keicho Nijimura."

He disappeared. Fubuki did not bother to follow him, he was more preoccupied with a person named Angelo...

Just then, another voice spoke up.

"Young man, what are you doing there?" 

Fubuki looked up to see an elderly police officer who just appeared on his bicycle.

"Is there a problem?" he asked.

"No, everything's fine," Fubuki lied.

"Then would you mind picking up your litter and dispose of it properly?"

Fubuki looked down and saw he had dropped the empty water bottle on the ground. It must have fallen during the chaos. He picked up the bottle and tossed it into a nearby trash can.

"Thank you," the policeman smiled happily.

Fubuki gave him a halfhearted smile and started walking down the street leading him the way home. However, the policeman is riding beside him.

"Did I do something wrong, Officer?" Fubuki inquired.

"No, but I was wondering if you could tell me your name," the policeman replied. "I haven't seen you before. I usually have a good memory so I always know everyone in town. Well... maybe not all, hahaha."

"Fubuki."

The policeman's eyes widen in surprise. "Fubuki?! Fubuki Kurosawa?"

Fubuki stopped walking and looked at him, raising an eyebrow.

"You know me?" he asked.

"You were close friends with my grandson Josuke years ago! Don't you remember me?"

Fubuki looked at the officer's name tag and he remembered.

"Mr. Higashikata... you've grown older," he said, surprised as well.

"Hey now, I'm still healthy!" Officer Ryohei Higashikata laughed. "I didn't recognize you at first with that long hair! How are you? You haven't been back in Morioh in years!"

"Yeah..." Fubuki said, still stunned. "I just moved today. I'm staying with my uncle at the Spider Threads."

"Why don't you come by and visit my home?" Ryohei asked. "Josuke will happy to see you again."

"Right..." Fubuki said. He recalled the face of a small boy with short, messy hair and a big, stupid smile. "Maybe tomorrow."

"My address is still the same! Or ask around if you forget!"

Ryohei then rode off, excited, while Fubuki just stood there feeling awful for some reason.

*&*&*

When Fubuki came home, he unpacked more of his clothes and his belongings. He put up three trophies in a row on one shelf. They're from winning first prize at his piano concerts. He used to be good at playing the piano; his mother made him practice for many hours until he gets it right, but since Fubuki had a passion and natural talent, he didn't mind the long, grueling hours.

However, he stopped five years ago. He no longer found joy in it.

He found a piece of folded paper in one of his old school textbooks. It was an origami of a dove that was mushed between the pages. The paper is yellowish and faded, but Fubuki felt a sense of nostalgia coming from it. This crane was a gift from someone he dearly missed...

Fubuki placed the origami dove back inside the textbook. Hopefully, it will be buried away forever. 

When he finished unpacking, he sat down in his desk and began to open up his scrapbook. It was filled with newspaper articles he had collected for personal research. He quietly began to read:

"Two Boys Murdered, One Abducted for Ransom"

March 22, 1994. The bodies of two 14-yr-old boys were discovered in an abandoned building. The victims' names are Makoto Kanno and Haruto Yamada. They both attend S-City All Boys' Junior School and were seen going home together with a third classmate after their club activities. Both boys were brutally raped and strangled to death. Authorities found a note near their bodies that the third classmate has been kidnapped and the killer is demanding a ransom. Authorities revealed the identity of the third boy missing is Shinichi Fujimoto, the only child of a wealthy family...

"Kidnapping Ends in Murder and Arrest"

March 25, 1994. Around 7:00 PM last night, authorities arrested serial killer Anjuro "Angelo" Katagiri, who was responsible for the rape and murders of the two 14-yr-old boys. He abducted a third boy, Shinichi Fujimoto, age 14, and decided to hold him for ransom. Angelo was caught when making the exchange. He fought back and killed one of the policemen before he was restrained.

Investigators managed to locate the whereabouts of Shinichi Fujimoto and their findings are far worse than anyone could have anticipated. The boy was already dead, his body stripped of his uniform and his death approximately around two hours before Angelo was caught. The boy's corpse appeared to have deep, raw marks around his neck as though he was strangled by a wire. A large pair of sewing scissors were found in Angelo's possession which has been used to sever the boy's genitalia, ultimately leading to his death through excessive bleeding...

"Museum Robbed, Leaving Security Guard Killed"

September 20, 1998. Late last night, a mysterious intruder broke into the Kurosawa Museum and stole several ancient artifacts that were recently discovered in Egypt. The curator could not get in touch with the owner and leader of the archaeological expedition who found the ancient artifacts. The intruder's true identity wasn't caught on camera, and the only two witnesses to the robbery was a security guard and the museum owner's son. However, the security guard was found dead on the floor with a hole in the middle of his throat. Meanwhile, the owner's son is alive after being unconscious, but he has no memory of the crime that took place...

"Angelo Escapes Prison"

October 15, 1998. Notorious serial killer "Angelo" Katagiri broke out of prison. Angelo was sentenced to the death penalty for the gruesome murders of three 14-year-old boys. He was hanged two weeks ago, but he was still alive after twenty minutes. The guards had no idea how his heart continued beating. Angelo's execution was called off and rescheduled. Two weeks later, Angelo escaped and killed several prison guards. The bodies of the guards appeared to have been torn from the inside for strange reasons that could not be explained...

"Entire Family of Four Murdered"

January 2, 1999. The recent waves of mysterious gruesome murders continue to rise, with the Yamashita Family joining the body count. The entire family was killed inside their home in S-City, but there were no signs of a break-in or struggle. Just like with the previous murders, the internal organs of the deceased have been horribly ruptured...

Fubuki could feel bile coming up to his throat. Not only he met the man who stole the Bow and Arrow from his father's museum, but he learned the serial killer known as Angelo is in town.

Angelo's name is familiar to the Kurosawa family, especially to Fubuki. The name makes Fubuki think of dog shit, except Angelo is worse than that. He would never forget what that depraved monster had done.

Fubuki removed his eyeglasses and rubbed his eyes to prevent tears from leaking out. The tears stuck to his fingers and they harden like stone.

He heard his grandmother calling him to come down for dinner.

Fubuki glared down at a picture of Angelo in one of the newspapers. Angelo appeared to be an intimidating man with short spiked hair, prominent facial features and lack of eyebrows.

"Anjuro Katagiri... I don't know how you were able to survive your execution and escape from prison," he said coldly. "But if what Keicho Nijimura is telling me is true, then it's because you have a Stand... I have a Stand too and I've been practicing. Once I find you... I will kill you with Purple Rain."

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2: Josuke Higashikata and Jotaro Kujo

The following morning, before dawn, Fubuki began his daily routine. He untied several shoestrings that tied his feet to his bed. They are there to prevent him from getting up to sleepwalk—he often found himself somewhere else he shouldn't be. One time, he nearly ended up walking out from his home until he was caught by a security guard. Since then, Fubuki had to tie his feet to his bed so nothing like that ever happens again.

Fubuki then checked around his room; the lines of salt have been undisturbed. Then he checked his door; attached to it is a paper talisman to keep out evil spirits.

Fubuki's odd habits were often the topic of humor for his family, believing him to be overly superstitious. However, Fubuki believed he is being cursed, or at least haunted by an evil spirit...

Around the same time he started sleepwalking, Fubuki felt he was being watched and he often heard disembodied whispers whenever the room is too quiet. The reason he started using salt and talismans is that he started seeing a disturbing shadow figure following him every time he goes home so late at night.

Nobody believed him, not even his parents.

Fubuki never told his uncle and grandma about the phantom, he didn't want them to worry about him... but he also secretly fears that they'll think he's crazy.

*&*&*

When the sun came up, Grandma Julia turned on the radio to listen to music while everyone ate breakfast in the small dining room.

"Good morning, rise and shine, everyone! You're listening to Morioh Radio! Kai Harada here keeping you company on this beautiful morning! The day is shaping up to be a great one, and I have just what the doctor ordered! Sit back and enjoy..."

From the living room, their television is turned on and the morning news is shown.

"According to reports that just came in," an anchorman reported, "the police found a box containing the cremated remains of a four-year-old boy who went missing last month. The box was found inside a public bathroom with a postcard confirming the name of the victim... Police have still not issued a statement regarding any leads in the investigation. Sergeant Detective Daijiro Yanagimoto has made it clear they are putting all the resources they can on solving this case... In other news, a young university woman went missing since last Saturday night..."

Fubuki wanted to watch more news, just in case anything about Angelo shows up, but he had to quickly down his fried egg on toast and grab his school bag. He can't be late on his first day.

He awkwardly allowed his grandmother to kiss him goodbye on the cheek. Uncle Norisuke, who noticed Fubuki's obvious discomfort and embarrassment for physical affection, started teasing him.

"Don't be such a stiff! Give your uncle a kiss!" he laughed, wrapping his arms tight around his rigid and annoyed nephew.

Fubuki threw a cold glare at him, which made Uncle Norisuke back off.

Fubuki began riding his bicycle to school. Now he can finally relax and enjoy this peaceful morning in this town. Yet, he still couldn't get his mind off from the news of the dead child's cremated remains. He could sense there is something dark lurking in this town and it bothers him...

He soon arrived in Morioh Station and he saw several students walking or waiting for their buses. He carefully swerved around a street artist who is in the middle of drawing on the sidewalk. He tried to go around a tall man in white who was too busy looking at a map.

The man in white suddenly turned around and he slammed into a short, timid-looking student—who Fubuki accidentally crashed into. Fubuki fell over from his bicycle, his eyeglasses flew out... he was about to fall on the sidewalk...

And then he was suddenly standing up on his feet, while his bicycle lay on its side on the ground.

"H-huh?!" Fubuki blinked, utterly flabbergasted about what just happened. He checked his glasses and they were back on his face!

"Wha—what?!" the other boy stammered. He is standing back up and holding his school bag. "But didn't I just fall down? And I thought my stuff went flying everywhere!"

"Sorry, I wasn't paying attention. Are you two alright?" a voice asked.

Both Fubuki and the short boy glance up to see the man in white. He is an attractive and well-built man with a strong jaw, bold eyebrows, and sea-green eyes. He wore a visored cap (his dark hair seems to blend with it) and trench coat, with wide-legged pants.

Fubuki noticed a large purple humanoid with wild hair behind the man in white before it quickly. He adjusted his eyeglasses but the strange apparition did not appear again.

"H-he's a giant!" the short boy squeaked. "He must be over 190 cm tall!"

"We're fine, sir, nothing seems to be broken," Fubuki said.

"I was looking around, it looks like I lost track of her..." the man mumbled.

At that moment, a little girl came running past Fubuki and ran up to the man in white. She hugged his legs. She has completely black hair tied in two buns, decorated with pink butterfly hair clips. She wore a chartreuse sleeveless hoodie and pink shorts. On her feet are pink slip-on sneakers and no socks.

"Daddy, there's a pond with a turtle! Can I go see the turtle? Please?" she begged.

The man in white kneels down and rests his huge hand on her head.

"After I'm done talking with them. Just stay close with me for now," he told her.

While the man in white--obviously a father--is speaking to his daughter, the short boy nervously went up to Fubuki.

"Um... In case you were wondering, my name is Koichi Hirose," he introduced himself. "Though I guess you don't really need to know that..."

"Nice to meet you. Are you in grade school?" Fubuki asked as he picked up his bicycle from the ground.

"Oh no!" Koichi laughed awkwardly. "I'm a freshman in high school!"

High school? This SHRIMP? Fubuki thought, incredulous.

"You know, I wanted to leave you at home with your grandma just for a couple of days," the man told his daughter. "I only brought you along so you'd stop bawling and throwing tantrums..."

"I don't throw tantrums!" the little girl shouted, stomping on her foot.

"Good grief," the man in white. "Just keep quiet until my business is done. Got it?"

The little girl pouted but she put on a cute, girlish smile.

"Yeah! I'm gonna go look at the turtle now!"

"I said, after..."

However, his daughter has already hurried away so she can check out the turtle pond near the bus stop. The man in white stood up and took out a brown notebook. On the notebook is his name 'Jotaro Kujo.' Fubuki wondered where he heard that name before...

"Sorry about that," Jotaro said to the two students. "Maybe you two can help me out. I've come here to find the Higashikata family."

"Higashikata?" Koichi asked.

"I know where they live," Fubuki said. "They live in Jōzenji Road, Number 1-6."

"You can get to Jōzenji pretty easily by taking the number 3 bus," Koichi said. "It won't be long until another bus comes around."

"Thanks, you two," Jotaro said, turning around. "Now I'll have to go fetch my daughter first."

Later on, both Koichi and Fubuki would learn not only Jotaro Kujo is a father but he's also a marine biologist famous for his study on sharks and whales. There's a silent fierceness about him, but neither Koichi and Fubuki were afraid of him. While Jotaro looked rough, he seemed gentle too, especially towards his little girl.

"Is your name really Jotaro Kujo?" Koichi asked him. "It was on your notebook."

"It is," Jotaro replied.

"… Kujo. I remember that name from somewhere," Fubuki said.

"You must have seen it in a magazine," Jotaro said. "I don't think we've ever met."

"My cousin Hitomi mentioned a Jotaro Kujo in her letters."

Jotaro started walking off when he stopped at the mention of Hitomi's name. Fubuki noticed how Jotaro's expression slowly went from surprise to bitterness.

"Hey, freshmen!" a new voice snapped.

Koichi and Fubuki turned around to see a group of delinquent students glaring at them.

"Aren't you going to greet your seniors?!" their apparent leader asked.

"Right! Yes, sir!" Koichi bowed. "Nice to meet you!"

"Yeah, that's more like it!" The leader then turned to Fubuki. "That includes you, Prissyface!”

Fubuki gave him a cold glare before he grudgingly bowed as well.

"Sorry... sir," Fubuki apologized sarcastically.

"... I don't like that tone," the leader warned him.

Jotaro's daughter came back, giggling excitedly.

"Daddy, one of the turtles woke up and I played with it!" she exclaimed.

She stopped when she saw the big, scary delinquents looking down at her. She began to tremble all over.

"What are YOU looking at, you brat?!" the leader demanded.

"Hey. She happens to be my daughter," Jotaro said in his most quiet and dangerous tone.

The delinquents realized that this adult isn't someone to mess with. So they move along to bother someone else instead. After they're gone, Koichi could finally breathe.

"Man, that was scary," Koichi sighed in relief. He turned to Jotaro's daughter, who is now clinging to her father's coat while Jotaro has a protective hand on her head. "You don't have to worry about those scary guys. I'm sure they'll be taking a different bus."

"R-really?" the little girl gulped. "They look so mean..."

"See, that is why I told you to stick close to me," Jotaro scolded her lightly.

"But I wasn't afraid, because you scared them!"

"They're just simple-minded idiots who are all big talk," Fubuki scoffed. "One thing I can't stand is guys like them who wear their hair in pompadours."

Koichi looked at him. "... Pompadours?"

"It's because of the awful smell of the cheap gel they use for their hair," Fubuki explained.

"Ohhhh."

"What do you think you're doing here, dickface?!" Everyone heard the delinquents yelling. "Who do you think you are?!"

The group saw the delinquents have gathered at the turtle pond and are now bullying someone who is sitting by it.

"Well, if you really must know... it seems this little turtle I found just woke up from hibernation," a male student said. He has his hand above a turtle. "You see, turtles give me the willies, it takes all of my courage to even touch their shells... So, I thought today would be a good day to finally conquer my fear..."

"Do I look like I give a shit?!" the leader demanded. "Stand up, you moron!"

The student slowly got up and Fubuki and the others noticed he's taller than the seniors. The student wore his own modified school uniform; his jacket conforms to his body, extending to the middle of his thigh, accompanied by a pair of wide-legged pants. He keeps his jacket unbuttoned and pinned aside, revealing a light undershirt. On the left of his collar, he wore a modified anchor, and on his right, a row of two small hearts. Pinning his open jacket to his chest on his right is a peace sign, and on the left is a heart.

But his most prominent feature is his pompadour, much to Fubuki's displeasure.

"God, there's one right now..." he said under his breath.

"Daddy, that guy is silly!" Jotaro's daughter piped. "He's afraid of turtles!"

"Keep your voice down, Irene," Jotaro said.

"Well now, you're pretty tall for a freshman," said the leader of the delinquents. "You probably think you were hot shit back in middle school. But before you have the nerve to dress like that..."

He snatched the turtle right from the pond and held it in front of the pomp-haired student.

"You have to pay your respects to us seniors first, got it?!"

"C-can you not do that please?" the pomp-haired student said, smiling nervously. "I really don't like reptiles a lot..."

The delinquent leader slapped him, much to Koichi and Irene's discomfort (while both Fubuki and Jotaro just disapprove in silence). However, the pomp-haired student took it in stride and did not break his composure. He just bowed before the leader.

"Forgive me, sir!" he apologized. "I didn't know how things were done!"

"That's kinda funny, cuz I put a lot of guys in the hospital whose last words were the exact same as yours," the leader said angrily. "You need to learn some respect, dumbass! Unless you want to end up like this stupid turtle!!"

The leader threw down the turtle, whose shell became broken and started bleeding out. Seeing the turtle hurt made Irene cry out, so Jotaro shielded her behind him so she wouldn't look. Both Koichi and Fubuki are disgusted at the leader's cruelty. The pomp-haired student is even slightly bothered at what happened to the turtle but he said nothing. He just let the delinquents push him around and make him give in to their demands.

"Ugh, what is wrong with that moron?" Fubuki growled. "Why isn't he standing up for himself?"

"You see that, Irene?" Jotaro spoke to his daughter. "If you don't want unnecessary attention to yourself, you don't dress like that... Still, I'm mad at him too. The turtle got pulverized and he didn't do a thing about it."

He started walking away, so he can get his distressed daughter somewhere else. Fubuki decided he should leave this horrible and pathetic scene as well.

"Why don't you tell us your name, pussy?" the leader asked.

"Right. I'm in Class 1-B," the pomp-haired student replied. "My name is... Josuke Higashikata."

At the mention of that name, both Jotaro and Fubuki paused.

"Say what?!" Jotaro said, shocked.

"J... Josuke?!" Fubuki gasped, his glasses nearly dropped from his face. No way... he grew into THAT?!

"Josuke, huh? Does that mean the 'suke' is written as 'jo' too?" one the delinquents asked.

"We'll call you JoJo from now on, Josuke!" another delinquent laughed.

"O-oh, thanks... that's very kind of you to say," Josuke said.

Fubuki is still reeling from the shock of seeing his old childhood friend again.

I can't believe little 'Josukkun' grew into THAT...  he thought.  And he used to be a little shorter than me, and now... he's still a pushover! Other than his new look, that idiot hasn't changed at all!

"Hurry up and take off your jacket! The bus is coming!" the leader of the delinquents ordered. "If you don't hurry up, I swear I'm gonna shave off that stupid hair!"

Josuke was about to unbutton his school jacket when he stopped.

"Hey... " he said, his tone suddenly shifted to anger. A glowing aura appeared around him. "What was that about my HAIR?"

A pink-colored muscular arm appeared from behind Josuke and it punched the delinquent in the face, knocking him to the ground and pushing back the other seniors.

A Stand?! Jotaro was stunned.

I saw an arm! It almost reminds me of my Purple Rain, so that means... it must be a Stand!  Fubuki thought.  Wait a minute, since WHEN did Josuke have a Stand?!

Josuke stood above the leader, who is now lying on the ground and sporting a broken, bloody nose.

"I don't give a rat's ass if you're a senior... Talk shit about my hair, I'll kill you," he said angrily. "So, what was that about my hair looking like motley toupee?!"

"W-wait, I didn't say that--!!" the delinquent protested but Josuke stomped on his foot hard.

"I KNOW WHAT I HEARD, BASTARD!!"

"What happened?!" Koichi asked, wide-eyed. "That punk went flying through the air!"

"I know! I saw it!" Irene said.

So neither of them can see that Stand's arm, Fubuki noticed. I might as well pretend to be ignorant for now...

Josuke then picked up the turtle from the ground and put it back in the pond. From where Fubuki and the others are standing, they noticed the turtle's shell has been healed as though it was never smashed or bloodied in the first place.

That turtle is okay,  Fubuki thought.  It's like that time when Josuke saved that puppy. And those other times as well...

The delinquent leader's nose suddenly began to heal itself and reverted back to normal... except not entirely. His nose now appeared wide and warped, much to the horror of the other seniors.

Josuke glared at the leader again.

"You've really done it now... You made me touch the turtle and I really didn't want to..." he said. "So how exactly do you plan on making it up to me?"

The delinquents quickly ran away in fear.

"Hey, wait!! What happened to my nose?!" the leader cried, following them.

"No doubt about it, he's the guy I'm looking for..." Jotaro said. "Stay here."

Irene obeyed and she remained close to Koichi and Fubuki so Jotaro can approach Josuke. The latter noticed Jotaro and the two share silent stares.

"Hey," Koichi spoke to Fubuki in a low voice.

"What?" Fubuki asked.

"Did you notice that Mr. Jotaro and that Josuke kinda look alike?"

Fubuki looked at the two men and noticed some similarities.

"Hmm, now that you mention it... They really do..." Fubuki thought about it. He could tell something big and personal is coming up. "Koichi, should we stay? Our job's here is done and Mr. Kujo seems to have found his guy."

"Yeah, but I got this feeling in my gut that we shouldn't miss this," Koichi whispered. "I think we should stick around and see what happens."

"AAH!! HOLY SHIT!!"  Josuke suddenly yelped in fear

He turned around to see the same turtle had just poked its head out of the water, which scared the teenager.

"Argh, stupid turtle! This is why nobody likes you!" Josuke yelled at it.

Koichi, Fubuki, and Irene decided it's safe to approach closer. Irene was even thrilled to see the turtle is healed.

"Josuke Higashikata," Jotaro began speaking to Josuke. "You are born in the year 1983 and you've lived in this town since then. Your mother's name is Tomoko, and she was 21-yrs-old when she was attending university in Tokyo. In 1988 when you were 5-yrs-old, you had a severe fever due to an unknown fever for fifty days and you nearly died. Your father's name is... Joseph Joestar."

Josuke became mildly surprised at all this information this man is telling him.

Joestar, that American real estate mogul? Fubuki thought while Jotaro continued to speak to Josuke. Ever since we're kids, Josuke never had a father so a lot of kids and their parents thought his mom fooled around... Even my own mother didn't like me hanging out with Josuke.

A brief memory began to play inside Fubuki's brain...


It was sunset and two faceless children are sitting on a fence by the road after a day at school.

"Fubucchan, what's your dad like?" Josuke asked curiously.

A bespectacled boy shrugged his shoulders. "Dunno... he's busy at his university, I only got to see him twice a week."

"Do you think I'll ever meet my dad?" Josuke wondered, facing the horizon. "He must be out there. My mom said he'll show up again someday."

"Maybe he's dead... or maybe he doesn't want to meet you," Fubuki said.

Josuke became a little hurt; what Fubuki said is rather harsh for a child to say, but he's not going to sugarcoat it.

"Think about it, why would he not come back after meeting your mom?" Fubuki asked.

"Fubucchan, you don't have to be so mean," Josuke snapped.

Josuke jumped down from the fence and walked away. In his anger, he blindly crossed the street and an incoming truck came out of nowhere--

"JOSUKE, LOOK OUT!!"  Fubuki screamed in panic.

As the truck tried to skid to a stop, Fubuki pushed Josuke out of the way. Fubuki tried to get away as well but the truck hit his leg...


Fubuki is snapped back to the present time just as Jotaro is finished introducing himself.

"Since Joseph Joestar is my grandfather, I'm technically your nephew," Jotaro said. "Bizarre, huh?"

"Nephew? Well... Nice to meet you," Josuke said shyly. "So, is that all in my... my dad's family?"

"You also got a sister, who happens to be my mother," Jotaro answered. "Oh, this little girl is my daughter Irene, so that would make her your grandniece."

"Hello!" Irene smiled, waving her arm. "Can I call you Uncle Josuke?"

Josuke laughed nervously. "Maybe Josuke is fine!"

"This family is weird, Koichi," Fubuki said to the short boy.

*&*&*

The group walked all the way to the high school where Josuke, Koichi, and Fubuki will be attending.

Jotaro explained the reason he came all the way to Morioh is to give the message to Josuke that he would be getting one-third of Joseph Joestar's inheritance. Fubuki learned that Joseph Joestar, a married man, had an affair with Josuke's mom which resulted in Josuke being born. However, Joseph never knew his son existed until now. Jotaro added that the whole affair has turned the Joestar family upside-down and Joseph's wife is the angriest she's ever been in their entire marriage.

Josuke seemed ashamed for causing some trouble that he tried to apologize to Jotaro, though the latter is surprised by Josuke's modesty and composure at this news. Even Koichi and Fubuki did not know what to think about this.

At this moment, a group of schoolgirls approached Josuke.

"Hey Josuke, let's go to class together!"

"Your hair is looking glorious as ever!

"You're so different from the other boys at school!"

Jotaro became visibly annoyed seeing all these teenaged girls doting on Josuke, it even brought back memories of his own high school years.

"I didn't know Uncle Josuke has a harem," Irene said.

"H-hey, little kids like you shouldn't say that word!" Koichi sputtered.

"But it's true, isn't it?"

"Josuke, we're not done with our business here," Jotaro spoke up. "Get the groupies out of here."

"Who the heck is this guy?" one of the girls asked.

"You can have your stupid talk about his hair later."

The schoolgirls gasped in horror. Even Koichi and Fubuki realized Jotaro has goofed up.

"HEY BASTARD,"  Josuke growled, looking glaring at Jotaro.  "WHAT DID YOU SAY ABOUT MY HAIR?!"

Fubuki quickly realized the only thing that sets Josuke off is someone insulting his hair, even if by accident. Jotaro found himself facing an enraged teenager. He tried to get Josuke to calm down, but Josuke brought out his mysterious Stand power in retaliation. Jotaro counters Josuke's attack and showed him his Stand called Star Platinum.

"Do you see it, Josuke?" Jotaro asked him. "This is called a Stand. It is the physical manifestation of the soul. Joseph has one like this as well. Only a Stand user can see another Stand."

Josuke, however, isn't interested in the first evidence of Stands other than his own.

"It pisses me off when someone badmouths my pride and joy!" Josuke said, wiping his blood from his lips. "It really grinds my gears!"

He’s not even listening,Fubuki thought in exasperation. I’ve never seen him going crazy over his hair like this before!

Josuke then summoned his own Stand. It looked like a bubblegum pink humanoid with a powerful build and tall stature. It is clad in tall headgear resembling a helmet and armor-like plates on many large surfaces of its body. Cables join the back of its head to its upper back. It bars a heart motif between the top of its head, its chin, shoulders, belt, and knees.

Fubuki watched as Jotaro and Josuke's Stands exchanged punches, surprised to see other Stand users like himself and Keicho Nijimura. In fact, he is the only who could see the Stands while Koichi, Irene, and the schoolgirls just look on in confusion.

Josuke's Stand seemed really fast and strong... it might be even way stronger than Purple Rain,  Fubuki thought as sweat formed on his face.  And then there's that ability Josuke used on the senior and the turtle... It looked like it can restore or change matter that has been broken.

Meanwhile, Jotaro is shocked to discover that Josuke's Stand appears to be as fast and powerful as Star Platinum. In a blink of the eye, Jotaro stopped time to the end the fight.

Josuke blinked when he saw Jotaro is gone. He turned around and found him standing behind him. His Stand barely hit Jotaro's cap but it was magically fixed in a malformed way.

"W-what happened?" Koichi cried.

"Daddy, how did you move?!" Irene asked.

Jotaro is sweating; he had not stopped time in ten years. He wasn't planning to lose, but either him and Josuke are going to get hurt if the fight continued. Even though he already has got a good idea of how Josuke's special power worked, he was lucky that the Stand did not hit his face.

Why is it every Stand user I meet who can heal has an unreasonable personality? He thought in exasperation.

He then punched Josuke with his bare fist, ending their fight.

"Eeeek!! Josuke!!" the schoolgirls cried.

"SHUT UP!! I HATE WHINY GIRLS WHO SCREAM!"  Jotaro yelled angrily.

The schoolgirls stared at Jotaro before they calmly walk away. Irene stood frozen in her spot; she had never heard her dad raise his voice like that, it was so new and scary for her.

Jotaro calmed down and pulled something from his coat.

"As I was saying, there's another reason I came to see you," he said. "Look at this picture, do you see it?"

He showed Josuke a photograph. Koichi and Fubuki looked at it too. Fubuki saw what looked like a monstrous face made of mist.

"Something evil is lurking in this town," Jotaro warned Josuke. He showed two more photographs. This time, they featured a familiar man with the mist creature.

It can't be... Angelo! Fubuki thought, his blood turned to ice.

"When the Old Man used his spirit photography to take a picture of you, this was the result," Jotaro explained. "We don't know why he appeared, but if I had to guess, I'd say he's a Stand user. I know this all new to you, but I wanted to show you the pictures. Don't let your guard down..."

Jotaro took the photos back and he looked at Koichi and Fubuki.

"You two... if you ever run into him, get as far away as you can. He's really dangerous and getting the police involved won't help."

"Of course the police can't do anything," Fubuki said quietly.

"Did you say something?"

Fubuki did not answer. He just stared into space with a cold, stoic expression on his face. He then jumped on his bicycle.

"I have to go," he said in his monotone voice.

"Maybe we can see each other in school then!" Koichi said.

"Perhaps..." Fubuki turned to Josuke, who wondered why this new boy is looking at him suddenly. "Josuke... I think it's best if we don't hang out."

Then Fubuki pedaled away without looking back. Josuke watched him go and raised an eyebrow.

"Who was that guy?" he wondered.

"I don't know, he didn't give me a name," Koichi said.

"Anyways, I will stay here at a hotel until I get my hands on him," Jotaro continued. "Josuke, if you find yourself facing him, just keep yourself cool and stay out of it. Your ability is really dangerous, so try only using it when necessary, okay?"

Koichi suddenly remembered the time. "We're gonna be late for our orientation!"

"Oh, no, no, no!" Josuke cried in a panic, picking up his fallen schoolbag. "My mom is gonna kill me if I show up late on my first day of school!"

Josuke and Koichi then rushed off. Jotaro is left alone, still looking at one of the photos of Angelo. He had been reading into the history of Angelo and he was sickened by all the twisted crimes Angelo committed, including his last murders. He hoped this man has nothing to do with Josuke.

He turned to Irene and took her hand.

"Are you okay?" he asked her gently.

"You yelled," she told him.

"... Yeah, sorry about that."

*&*&*

Fubuki arrived in Budogaoka Middle & High School and found his class 1-A. He checked the name of his homeroom teacher.

"Tohru Miyazaki..." he read from a piece of paper. "Apparently, he's also the English teacher."

As he took a seat in the front row, the teacher entered the classroom. He nearly skidded on the slippery floor but he grabbed onto his table before he fell on his butt. A few snickers were heard but he ignored them.

Their teacher is a young-looking man in his early thirties. He is wearing eyeglasses, though he kept his eyes narrowed to slits almost like a fox. He is dressed in an orange plaid suit, a pink turtleneck sweater, and sneakers. His belt is adorned with a metallic, gold emblem in the shape of the letter “F”.

He signed his name in the blackboard in both English and Japanese.

"Good morning, students!" Mr. Miyazaki exclaimed cheerfully. "If I could get you to--"

The school bell rang.

"... I seem to have found myself starting ahead of the bell again," he laughed to himself. "Anyways, I'm Mr. Miyazaki and I'll be your homeroom and English teacher for this year! I studied English in America for a few years, so we'll be doing a lot of reading in class. Won't that be fun?"

His students don't seem that interested.

During the roll-call, Miyazaki went around the class to see each student personally. He stopped by the desk of a flashy-looking girl named Miki Ichikawa.

"Those are very nice bracelets!" Miyazaki said, looking at several pretty bracelets on her desk. "You made them?"

"Yeah. I sell them too, but only outside of school since it's against the rules," she told him.

"If I buy one, would you give me a teacher's discount?"

"Fat chance!" She then giggled. "Maybe..."

After roll-call, Miyazaki went up to the front.

"Class, do you know what is the problem of English education in Japan?" Miyazaki asked. When no one answered him, he explained, "It's because the Japanese are proficient in grammar, but not in listening and speaking abilities. What if you want to visit a foreign country one day? You need to be good enough to carry and understand a conversation... For this year, while I'll be teaching you the usual English grammar, we'll also be going over several English stories I've handpicked. Literature is my special technique for teaching both basic language skills and language areas."

This teacher seems really cool, Fubuki thought. Not like my old one, where he just makes his assistant do all the work.

"The first story we're gonna read for the next two weeks will be Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare!" Miyazaki said, holding up a copy of the play. "We'll be having a test about it!"

"Isn't that a dumb love story?" one of the female students asked.

Miyazaki laughed. "I think you'll like this 'dumb' love story, Yamagishi."

"I doubt it."

*&*&*

The first day of school ended without problems, and Fubuki quite enjoyed it. He decided to stop by at a store on his way home to buy stuff.

As he entered the Sun Mart, his mind wandered off to Josuke from this morning. He did not understand why Angelo is connected to Josuke, the criminal had nothing to do with him. Fubuki felt a little bad for not saying "hi" to his old friend in school, but it's probably for the best that he doesn't get close to Josuke. Fubuki can't get him involved and he has a sinking feeling that Josuke would not be pleased to see him again... especially after an incident that tore their friendship apart.

Fubuki was ready to pay for his stuff when he and the female clerk noticed a strange, huge man, wearing only jacket and pants (no shirt at all), making a mess inside the mart. He was opening several snacks and eating them without paying for them.

"Sir?" the female clerk called.

The huge man staggered towards her. His eyes are heavy and he was twitching his limbs. He pulled out a sharp knife.

"Give me the money," he demanded.

*&*&*

Outside of Sun Mart, Josuke and Koichi heard a huge racket and they came across a huge crowd. A couple of police officers are ordering everyone to stay back because the area is unsafe

"It's chaos over here, what's going on?" Koichi asked.

"There is a robbery in the convenience store," an old lady grinned. "A man has taken a kid hostage, hee hee!"

"Look! He's coming out!" someone said.

Josuke and Koichi looked up. The huge robber emerged from the store... with Fubuki. Earlier, Fubuki had put himself in harm's way to protect the female clerk and he ended up being taken hostage. Fubuki could tell that something is seriously wrong with this man; he wanted to use his Stand, but he has to wait until the robber dropped his guard.

"Put down the knife!" One of the cops ordered. "Just let the boy go!"

"Shut up and get back, all of you!" the robber yelled, waving his knife. "I'll kill him!"

"Josuke, it's that boy from this morning!" Koichi cried, pointing a finger.

"His eyes are totally messed up," Josuke noticed. "If he snaps, he'll kill him without any hesitation."

"Th-this isn't good," Koichi whimpered. "Let's step back before it gets worse..."

"YOU OVER THERE, WITH STUPID HAIRDO!!" the robber screamed at Josuke, who is nearest to a car. "I TOLD YOU TO GET AWAY FROM THE CAR!"

Koichi has a bad feeling that things are going to get ugly. He nearly shrieked in horror as a pissed-off Josuke began moving towards the robber.

"J-Josuke, no!" Koichi cried.

Josuke ignored the police begging him to stay away. Even Fubuki became horrified when he saw Josuke approaching him and the robber.

"You idiot! Stop getting riled up because of your hair!" Fubuki yelled.

Josuke stopped in front of the robber. He barely noticed Fubuki.

"What the hell did you say about my hair?" he demanded.

"Who the fuck are you?!" the robber shouted. "If you don't step back, I'll spill his guts into the ground!"

"Argh!" Fubuki flinched when the robber's knife is pressed against his neck.

"Get back, kid!" the police yelled. "He might kill him because of your stunt!"

"DAMN IT, YOU'RE PISSING ME OFF!" the crazed robber shouted. He raised his knife high. "THAT'S IT!! I'M GONNA STICK THIS KNIFE INTO THIS BRAT!"

Fubuki screamed and closed his eyes shut. "Josukeee...!" 

Before the knife can sink into Fubuki's side, Josuke's Stand punched a single hole into both Fubuki's and the robber's bodies. Fubuki felt pain in his chest and blood leaked out from his mouth. He couldn't believe Josuke could do that...

"I pissed you off?" Josuke asked. "I should be the one that's ticked off!"

Fubuki is pulled away from the robber. He wildly glanced down at his front and saw he was instantaneously healed!

"I... I'm fine!" he gasped.

The robber suddenly let out a pained cry. On his stomach, an outline of his knife is visibly seen.

"M-my knife's inside my body!" he screamed. "How did it get inside?!"

"I suggest finding a surgeon who could remove it in the prison hospital," Josuke said.

The robber twitched and fell on the ground. Just then, a Stand made of amorphous water emerged from the man's body through his mouth. Both Josuke and Fubuki saw it.

"Well, what a surprise," the Stand said. "It appears that another annoying Stand user has joined the fray. It was fun committing crimes with this meat puppet... But you! You had to get in my way!"

"You're the guy from the picture!" Josuke said.

The water Stand slinked towards the gutter and gave one last dirty look at Josuke.

"I'll be keeping a close eye on you from now on," he grinned. "Where you will go, I'll be watching you! Hehehe!"

Josuke tried to stop him but the water Stand disappeared. Josuke turned around to see Fubuki staring at him. He felt a little awkward but he smiled at him.

"You're not hurt, are you?" he asked. "I'm pretty sure I didn't leave a mark on you."

Fubuki was reluctant to speak. He clenched his hands into fists. He crossed his arms and lifted his nose in the air.

"That was reckless of you, charging in to pick a fight because someone made you mad," Fubuki said coolly. "I had everything under control."

"Sure, you were," Josuke said. He made a sly smile. "Am I glad to see you again... Fubucchan."

Fubuki was taken aback after hearing his old nickname that his glasses nearly fell off from his face.

"Y... You knew who I was?!" he stammered.

Before Josuke could explain, he was pinned down by the two police officers.

"What the hell were you thinking, kid?!" they scolded him. "You could have been killed!"

"W-wait a minute!" Josuke protested.

Fubuki walked away, still flustered. However, he has other more important things on his mind. He just encountered Angelo's Stand, and that means the user is really here in Morioh.

The only person who might know where Angelo is the mysterious Keicho Nijimura. If Fubuki can find Keicho, he will get him to talk and tell him where Angelo is.

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: To The Moon and Back

Fubuki went home immediately after the robbery incident. He decided not to tell his relatives about it since he didn't want his grandmother to worry so much about him, especially when he nearly got stabbed on his first day of school.

Uncle Norisuke was still busy working in the shop so Fubuki decided to ask Grandma Julia's permission if he could go study at the library.

"I didn't know you already have so much homework," she said.

"Not really, I just want to be more ahead of my studies," Fubuki said. Also, I really wanted to go out and search for Angelo, but you don't need to know that...

"You work too much, Fubuki, " Julia smiled, shaking her head. "I'll save you some dinner when you get back."

"There's no need, I..." Fubuki had to think of an excuse. "I'm also going to visit my old friend Josuke's home tonight."

"Josuke?! The same boy you used to play with years ago?" his grandmother marveled.

"Yeah, same kid. I was thinking of meeting him, so..."

Julia smiled excitedly and she took his hands. "I'm so happy you're meeting people already, even if it's an old friend! Your uncle and I were worried that you'd be spending high school alone, but it looks like it doesn't have to be that way!"

"I'm just going to drop by and say hi to Josuke..." Fubuki protested but his grandmother hurried to the cupboard in the kitchen. She came back with a box of chocolates.

"These are chocolates imported from Italy, give this to the Higashikatas as a gift," she told him. "An tell me how Little Josuke has been when you come back!"

Ugh, I guess I have no choice but to visit the Higashikatas anyway... Fubuki grumbled in his thoughts.

*&*&*

It took about fifteen minutes for Fubuki to find the address of the Higashikatas. The family has a new yard but the house still remained the same since he last saw it. It was close to a small park where pet owners love to walk their dogs.

It is after sunset and Fubuki wondered if the family is having dinner at the moment. He felt a little nervous coming up to the house. He gathered up his courage and fixed his hair and glasses.

He rang the doorbell. The door is opened by a woman in her thirties.

"Can I help you?" she asked.

"Hello, Mrs. Higashikata... It's been a while since we last met, but I'm Josuke's old friend Fubuki," he introduced himself.

Tomoko Higashikata remembered him.

"Fubuki, what a surprise! You did look different!" Tomoko said. She noticed the box under his arm. "Is that a gift?"

Fubuki nodded and he handed her the box of chocolates.

"It's for you and your family. Is Josuke home?"

"Yeah, that knucklehead's here, but he's in trouble. I heard he pulled a stunt to stop a robbery today!" Tomoko said, looking a bit angry. However, her face softened. "Stupid it was, he did a good thing. Deep down, he's always been a sweet boy."

"Yeah..." Fubuki said.

"Why don't you come in?" Tomoko asked. "We're about to have dinner soon."

"Thank you, but I have a date with the library. Tell Josuke I said 'hi'..."

Fubuki turned around. He was about to leave when Tomoko grabbed him by his shoulder, pulling him into the house.

Fubuki awkwardly entered the familiar household of the Higashikatas. Ryohei came down from the second floor when he saw Fubuki. He is dressed in his police uniform since he will be going out later for his night shift patrol.

"You finally came," Ryohei said. "I told my daughter you were coming tonight."

"Yeah, I did promise that," Fubuki lied. "I hope I wasn't interrupting anything important."

"Nonsense, you're always welcomed here. After all, I consider any close friend of my grandson to be part of the family."

"Josuke, you got a visitor!" Tomoko called.

"I'm busy, Mom!" Josuke shouted from the living room. "Who is it?"

"It's a cute girl from your school!" Ryohei joked.

Fubuki blushed furiously at that remark. Seconds later, Josuke peered into the hall. At first, he seemed curious and a little excited about meeting this 'cute girl'. But when he saw it was just Fubuki, he threw a glare at his grandpa.

"Well, I did get your attention!" Ryohei laughed. He rested his hands on Fubuki's shoulders and pushed the boy towards the living room where Josuke. "While I go help with dinner, you two catch up!"

"And don't be rude to your guest," Tomoko said to Josuke.

When his mother and grandfather are gone, Josuke turned to Fubuki, who is just standing there coolly. Like Fubuki, Josuke is still wearing his school uniform. An awkward tension filled the air.

"So... go ahead and take a seat. I was playing video games when you arrived," Josuke said.

Fubuki noticed Josuke has a game console out and he had paused the video game. Fubuki walked over to chair while Josuke sat on the floor. The two boys just sat facing each other, still silent. It was incredibly awkward.

"Hey," Fubuki spoke up, breaking the silence.

"Hey," Josuke greeted him back, fidgeting a little.

Fubuki tried to think of something. "... Nice hair." Mine's better, though.

"Oh... thanks!" Josuke smiled. "You don't get something this good without a little bit of elbow grease."

The two became silent again for a moment.

"So, what brings you back to Morioh?" Josuke asked.

"A lot of things," Fubuki replied.

"I'm surprised you're going to my school instead of one those big, prestigious schools in the city."

"My mother wasn't pleased with my decision, but she's still expecting me to take cram school for university."

Josuke felt a little sorry for him, recalling how strict Fubuki's mom was when it comes into pushing her son in academics. Fubuki always had a busy schedule, and yet he somehow managed to find time to have fun with his only friend...

"We used to do a lot of crazy stuff together," Josuke said with a wistful smile. "Remember that time we ate an entire huge bowl of ramen?"

Fubuki's eyes shine behind his glasses. He felt nostalgia rushing through him as fond memories suddenly began to unbury themselves after years of being forgotten in the darkness of his mind.

"Yeah... we were hungry after playing but we didn't have enough money or lunch," Fubuki said. "However, the noodle shop owner was kind enough to give us a free bowl and it was so much, I almost passed out."

"Yeah! And what about the time I drank an entire expired milk carton for you because you didn't want it?" Josuke asked excitedly.

"You were stuck in the bathroom all day!" Fubuki said, almost grinning. "You almost destroyed my toilet!"

"And what about... Captain Panty?"

Fubuki covered his face with hands because he started laughing so hard. It was hard to stay composed when he remembered something so ridiculous.

"Captain Panty, strongest warrior of Morioh!" Josuke laughed too.

Fubuki tried to keep a straight face but he had tears in his eyes.

"Did... Didn't you raid the panties from your mother's drawer, though?" he asked, smirking.

Josuke blushed, now embarrassed. "Y-yeah, but you were the one wearing it first!"


Little Josuke and Fubuki crept inside Tomoko's bedroom while Tomoko is talking on the phone.

"It must be around here somewhere..." Josuke said, with a mischevious glint in his eyes.

Josuke finally found a drawer containing panties that belonged to his mother. While he revels in his brilliant discovery, Fubuki got an idea that he this is stupid and wrong, but he is weirdly excited.

Fubuki took off his glasses. He put one of Tomoko's panties over his face, and then he put his glasses back on.

"Behold, Citizen of Morioh! I am... Captain Panty!" he declared while doing a silly, heroic pose.

"Wow, Fubucchan, that's stupid," Josuke snorted.

"Who is Fubucchan? I am Panty-Man!"

"Freeze!" Ryohei's voice spoke up behind them. "This is the police! I'm busting this panty raid!"

Both Josuke and Fubuki jumped, the latter quickly removing the panty from his face. Ryohei is still wearing his police officer's uniform and he had caught the two boys.

"Grandpa, don't tell Mom!" Josuke squeaked. "It was his idea!"

"What?! You can't pin this on me!" Fubuki snapped.

While the two boys try to pin the blame on each other, Ryohei walked over to another drawer. Josuke wanted to ask what he was doing when his grandpa pulled out a sexier, lacy underwear in black.

"You kids missed the jackpot!" Ryohei smirked.

"Whoa!" both Josuke and Fubuki exclaimed.

Suddenly, Ryohei and the two kids are walloped in the head by Tomoko who appeared and caught them going through her underwear. All three of them are now nursing huge lumps on their heads.


"We were dumb kids," Fubuki said, regaining his cool composure back.

Josuke agreed, still blushing.

"Yeah... I wished it was always like this," he said.

"Me too." Fubuki slowly stopped smiling and he turned away from Josuke.

"Any new hobbies?" Josuke asked, trying to keep the conversation from going too awkward. "You still playing piano?"

"Not anymore, I stopped playing five years ago when..." Fubuki paused, feeling his heart twinged in pain. It took him a moment to find his words again. "Anyways, I haven't time to find a new hobby."

Josuke nodded in understanding but Fubuki could tell he is tensed for a reason.

"Today's a crazy day, huh?" Fubuki changed the topic. "I mean, you find out that not only got a nephew older than you, but you find out that you were a product of a love affair."

"Yeah..." Josuke said sheepishly. "My old man's even older than my grandpa, it's insane!"

"About your power, what Mr. Kujo called a 'Stand'... have you always had it?"

"Since I was a kid, yeah. I could fix anything," Josuke finished. "Even a broken bone..."

Fubuki noticed Josuke is staring at his right leg and he immediately covered it with his other leg. He knew Josuke still remembered the accident with the truck when they were kids.

The atmosphere became cold and heavy, even though it was cheerful a moment ago.

"Can I use your bathroom?" Fubuki asked.

"Sure," Josuke said, picking up his game console. He looked a little relieved to be away from him for a moment.

Fubuki got up and went to the hallway. He was about to enter the bathroom when he heard Tomoko arguing with Ryohei in the kitchen. He did not want to eavesdrop but he could hear them clearly.

"... You know Josuke isn't interested in seeing Fubuki again, Dad!" Tomoko said angrily. "That damn brat was a terrible friend to him. Not only he made Josuke stand outside in the cold rain for hours, but he moved away without telling him!"

"I'm sure Fubuki's changed," Ryohei said. "Why not let bygones be bygones?"

"... I can't just forget how upset Josuke was," Tomoko sighed.

Fubuki stood silently outside the kitchen letting Tomoko's words stab him, but he took them without flinching.

I knew it was a bad idea to come here, he thought. I'll leave quietly before they notice...

Fubuki was about to make his way to the front door when he stopped. He could feel Josuke's presence right behind him.

"You're going to leave again... without saying anything?" Josuke asked quietly.

Fubuki is silent. He almost didn't want to turn around and see what expression Josuke has on his face right now.

"I'm gonna be honest with you," Josuke continued. "Even though we were friends, you were kind of a big jerk back then... but when we were talking and laughing earlier, it felt like nothing has changed. I haven't forgotten what happened between us... and I know you're embarrassed about hanging out with me..."

"I'm not," Fubuki said, lowering his head. "I'm just not the same boy you used to play with years ago."

"I believe you," Josuke said. "But if you still want to hang out and start over, you know where I live..."

Then they heard Tomoko calling them that it's time for dinner. Josuke turned around but he was surprised to see Fubuki coming with him.

"You don't mind if I stay a bit longer?" Fubuki asked. He tried to be cool but he was adjusting his glasses in a shy manner. "I mean... we still got a lot to catch up."

*&*&*

Somewhere in Morioh, Jotaro is in the middle of an evening stroll while trying to think of a solution to find and catch Angelo. He passed by a young, lovestruck couple who were holding hands and his mind could not help but wander off...


"So, have you planned on proposing to her yet?"

Jotaro Kujo and his old friend Noriaki Kakyoin are sitting together at a booth in a bar. The two have recently graduated high school and they're drinking to celebrate.

Jotaro rested his head on his hand.

"Dunno..." Jotaro mumbled. "I do like her a lot, but... it's just her father. He's always been adamant against us dating. He didn't even know that his daughter kept sneaking out at night to visit me. There's going to be trouble once I start popping the question."

"You could always try eloping," Kakyoin joked. "But seriously... you're happy with her, aren't you?"

"... Yes."

"Then you two should think more of your own happiness rather what Hitomi's father says."

Jotaro stared at his glass, thinking deeply about this. At that moment, their friend Hitomi came. She is huffing.

"Sorry, I'm late," she apologized. "I had to convince my parents to let me go out. I really gotta to move to my own place sooner or later..."

She took a seat next to her boyfriend Jotaro and gave him a quick peck on his cheek. Jotaro lowered his cap to cover his blushing face.

Kakyoin smiled and lifted his glass.

"I'm so happy we all get to graduate together," he said. "Here's to a new future for us."

"Yeah!" Hitomi cheered, holding up her own glass.

Jotaro mustered a tiny smile. The three Stand users then clinked their drinks together. They spent all evening chatting and drinking, while Hitomi kept holing Jotaro's hand under the table...


Jotaro is snapped back to reality when he saw a couple police cars near a park. He approached closer and saw what it appears to be a crime scene; a corpse of a woman who was sexually assaulted and murdered has been found. Several police officers have placed tape around the area to keep out citizens.

Jotaro sneaked around and noticed a sergeant speaking to a policeman. He hid in the shadows so he can listen to them without being caught.

"Another body with the same injuries," the policeman sighs, "and we don't have any leads yet. Were you able to find anything about these bizarre deaths, Detective Yanagimoto?"

Sgt. Detective Yanagimoto, a stern-looking man, merely frowned.

"According to the coroner, all the victims' bodies so far have their organs ruptured, as though something attacked them from inside the body..." he said. "I also discovered that these victims were killed near a water source."

"Water source?"

"The public toilet, the seashore, and a fountain in the park... The killings always happened near water. The only water source that was found near this woman is an empty water bottle. We're now checking it for fingerprints." Detective Yanagimoto stared intensely at the crime scene. "We got ourselves another sicko in town and if we don't find him soon, the killings won't stop."

I see... Angelo's Stand must have water-based characteristics, Jotaro thought, while he remained hidden. And maybe that's how he was able to escape from prison.

*&*&*

In another part of town, there is a playground. A little girl around six is kicking around her ball, while her mother is sitting on a bench.

"It's time to go home, Marika!" she said. "It's late!"

"Five more minutes, Mommy!" Marika said, still kicking her ball.

Marika's mother clicked her tongue but she decided to let her daughter play longer. She opened her purse and began rummaging through it, looking for something.

Marika kicked her ball further until it hit the legs of an adult man. Marika came up to the man innocently, not realizing how dangerous he is.

"I'm sorry for hitting you, Mister!" she said.

Marika's mother gave up looking through her purse. However, she noticed her daughter is missing; she is nowhere in the playground.

"M-Marika, where are you?!" she cried out fearfully.

*&*&*

Back at the Higashikata home, Fubuki quietly ate dinner with Josuke's family. Like it was with his grandmother and uncle, it felt different sitting down and eating dinner in such a warm and friendly atmosphere. Back in S-City where he used to live, Fubuki usually ate alone; his father is always away and his mother worked long hours. He felt like a stranger sitting with a group of people who don't mind his presence.

"Josuke! You're putting too much salt," Tomoko said.

"Here, Grandpa," Josuke said as he passed the salt shaker.

Ryohei started sprinkling salt into his food.

"Dad, you're putting too much salt too!" Tomoko said.

Ryohei chuckled and he put on a warm smile. "To end a day like this, with my daughter and grandson, eating delicious food... The only thing missing in this town is peace."

Josuke, with his mouth full of food, nodded while Fubuki listened to him.

"Hey, will Morioh really be fine?" Tomoko asked. "Lately, there's been news of people missing since January, including children..."

"Don't worry. Things will be sorted out soon," Ryohei assured her. "Believe in the people of this town. Few are truly evil to the core."

"Oh, I'd expect you to say something like this," Josuke smiled.

"Josuke, you and Fubuki should be grateful that you're both alive and safe now," Ryohei said. "You were at the brink of death when you were five, Josuke, but now you're alive and healthy."

Josuke smiled in understanding and he then brushed his hair with a comb.

"If Josuke weren't alive, you wouldn't be alive either, Fubuki," Ryohei told him. "Josuke was the one who found you, remember?"

Fubuki recalled being lost and found in the mountains.

"Always appreciate the life you're given, and never forget that there is always someone who values you."

Fubuki guessed right about Ryohei's true intention, and it was to make him get along with Josuke again. The old policeman still believed he was a good kid, without realizing Fubuki's cold desire for revenge.

However, Fubuki doesn't plan on continuing to live after killing Angelo...

It's the main reason why Fubuki doesn't want to associate with his old friend again; if Josuke learned his old friend killed someone and then disappeared forever, he would be crushed.

After dinner, Fubuki bid goodnight to Ryohei and Tomoko. Josuke led him out the door so he can say his goodbye too.

"That was fun, huh?" Josuke grinned.

"Yeah," Fubuki mumbled, without looking at him.

"I had doubts, but I'm really glad you came over. Too bad we're not in the same class, I'd ask if it's okay to copy off from your homework."

"No way," Fubuki said with a sharp tone.

"Haha! Well, I tried!"

Fubuki stared at Josuke and found himself gravitated to the cheesy way he smiled and his friendly, carefree personality. He compared it to the sun bursting through the rainclouds. Fubuki would never admit out loud that he missed his old pal, but he was glad that he didn't walk out earlier.

But when the time comes when he has to face Angelo, Fubuki hoped Josuke would find new friends so he wouldn't be lonely.

*&*&*

Fubuki came home late. His uncle and his grandmother are already asleep in their beds. He was about to head upstairs to his bedroom when the phone rang.

Who's calling this late? He thought. Could it be Josuke? Or Koichi?

Fubuki went to the kitchen and picked up the phone. 

"Hello?" he spoke.

"Fubuki Kurosawa, this is Jotaro. We met before earlier this morning."

Fubuki recognized this voice. "Mr. Kujo?"

"I can't go into full detail over the phone, but I have a reason to believe you're related to someone who helped me in Egypt ten years ago," Jotaro said.

"Wait, Egypt? Are you talking about my cousin--"

"Don't say anything else, we need to discuss this all in person. After school, I'll meet you at Cafe Deux Magots, alright?"

Fubuki is quiet but Jotaro is able to sense his reluctance.

"Don't worry, just do as I say. I'll talk to you later."

After Jotaro ended his call, Fubuki still stared at the phone. He wondered why Jotaro wanted to meet him. He was about to leave when the phone rang again. He quickly picked it up again.

"What is it, Jo--"

An unfamiliar male voice laughed evilly.

"I know who you and your family are, Fubuki."

A chill went down Fubuki's spine.

"How long has it been? Five years? I didn't recognize you at first earlier... But when I followed you home, I knew your family name..."

Fubuki's mouth went dry and a hiss escaped his lips.

"Angelo."

"Hehehe, you remember me? I'm so thrilled! We never properly met, but I knew your cousin... He was my favorite."

Fubuki gripped his phone tight. He tried to remain calm, but he is shaking over in pure rage and hate.

"Don't bother calling the police, I'll kill them all. And if you do call them, I'll go after your uncle and your sweet grandma. You don't have what it takes to stop me... I'm just waiting for the right moment to strike. I'll come after you once I'm done getting rid of that punk with the stupid hair. I can't wait to get my Stand inside you, hehehe..."

The call ended but Fubuki slammed the phone down. Angelo is hiding somewhere in Morioh and he is toying with the teenager.

"God... dammit!!" Fubuki growled. He is biting his lower lip so hard that it started bleeding. "Goddamn you, Angelo!!"

*&*&*

The next day, Fubuki woke up with a nightmare. In Fubuki's dream, Angelo's Stand caught Josuke off-guard and killed him from the inside of his body. Even though it was a bad dream, a sense of foreboding came over Fubuki.

He recalled what the Stand said to Josuke: "I'll be keeping a close eye on you from now on... Where you will go, I'll be watching you!"

Fubuki hurriedly put on his eyeglasses and untied his feet from the bed.

"It felt so real..." he muttered as he began putting on his uniform. "Josuke has Stand that can protect him, but Angelo has killed many people... If he gets near to Josuke..."

Yesterday, Fubuki was held hostage by a robber who was actually puppeteered by Angelo's Stand. Last night, he even received a call from Angelo himself and the sick bastard is eager to come after him. Fubuki decided he should keep his guard up; so far, nobody else knew he has a Stand, not even Angelo. He wanted to be the one to catch Angelo by surprise.

"Bring an umbrella with you," Uncle Norisuke said to his nephew while he is having his coffee. "I hear it's going to rain later today."

Fubuki went to straight to the Higashikata house after skipping breakfast. He pedaled his bike so fast, he had a lot of people moving out of the way once they see him coming.

Meanwhile, Tomoko had a weird encounter with a milkman and she did not realize it was actually Angelo in disguise. The notorious serial killer had finally found the home of the pompadour-haired teenager who got in his way of fun.

"Which room is his?" Angelo muttered, staring at the Higashikata house. "That Josuke kid... seems he's got it pretty easy, ha! He's got a young, sexy mama. I'm so jealous!"

Around Angelo's neck is his amorphous Stand, which he called Aqua Necklace.

"I swear I'll crush both your soul and your life!" he said with a nasty smile. "You pissed me off so much when you showed off in front of the crowd yesterday... I simply adore killing arrogant brats like you!"

Angelo would like to use this moment to strike, but he has to wait a little longer. At that moment, Josuke came out of his home and Fubuki arrived on his bicycle.

"Josuke!" Fubuki huffed.

"Hey, Fubuki!" Josuke greeted him happily, swinging his bag over his shoulder. "You wanted to walk to school with me today?"

"Er, yeah..." Fubuki said, catching his breath. "I wanted to check if you're okay..."

"Huh?"

"Nothing. L-let's... get to school. Ugh... I'm out of stamina already..."

"Maybe I could give you a piggyback ride?" Josuke teased him.

Fubuki glared at him and clenched a fist. "Touch me and I'll throw you to the pavement."

From behind a tree, Angelo smirked wider as he spied on Fubuki.

"Who would've thought he'd look as pretty as a chick? It makes me more eager to get inside his mouth and have fun with him..." Then he turned his attention to Josuke. "But before I do that, I'll take care of that Josuke first."

*&*&*

At school, Fubuki tried to focus on his schoolwork, but he couldn't stop thinking of Angelo and the despicable crimes he committed five years ago, and how that same man destroyed Fubuki's soul...

During the lunch hour, Fubuki bought a bento and went to eat with Josuke and Koichi in class 1-B.

"... And that is why I think Prince's 'Little Red Corvette' is a banger," Josuke said excitedly. "I couldn't stop listening to it."

"Prince?" Koichi asked, confused.

"More of a Pink Floyd fan myself," Fubuki commented.

"Oh, I know that band. My dad and I love their music."

"You guys don't know REAL music," Josuke complained.

"Hey, Fubuki. Did you listen to the radio this morning about the incident at Sun Mart yesterday?" Koichi asked. "The female store clerk gave an interview and said Josuke was a hero."

"What about me? I protected her from the robber first," Fubuki stated.

"Nope, but she only mentioned you being the hostage. Oh, and she mistook you for a girl..."

Fubuki snapped his chopsticks, now looking mildly offended. Even his eyeglasses glinted dangerously.

"N-not that there's anything wrong looking feminine!" Koichi added.

"Hmph, they mentioned my name in the radio," Josuke mumbled, not impressed.

"I thought you'd be a little happy," Fubuki said.

"I don't wanna be a hero, I just wanna enjoy my life," Josuke said. "It's why I wanna steer clear from this whole love child fiasco."

"How come?" Koichi inquired.

"Well, things are fine the way they are. So, in my opinion, why try to fix what ain't broke?"

"Yeah, I get it..."

"So, I guess this counts as one of those things that shouldn't be fixed?" Fubuki asked.

He is holding up a paper of a Math quiz that was lying under Josuke's desk. It showed a below-average score. Josuke yelped and tried to back get his paper, but Fubuki held it away from him.

"It was just a little mistake!" Josuke whined. "Our homeroom teacher is just a bastard for is giving us a quiz so soon!"

Fubuki clicked his tongue and adjusted his glasses. "Shameful..."

When school ended, Fubuki remembered he's supposed to meet with Jotaro Kujo at Deux Magots.

When he arrived at the cafe, Jotaro is already sitting in one of the tables and is waiting for him. As soon he sat down across from him, a gloomy-looking waiter approached their table. He yawned for a moment.

"Would you two like anything to eat...?" he asked.

"I'll just have some unsweetened tea," Jotaro said.

"I'll have just water," Fubuki said.

"Right away..."

"Alright, so you've got me here," Fubuki said to Jotaro after the waiter left. "What do you want?"

"Tell me... how much do you know about Stands?"

Fubuki blinked, but he remained composed and stiff.

"That strange power you and Josuke had shown yesterday? Not much, I never saw anything," he denied. "But... I think I was aware of it when Josuke and I were kids. Josuke always seemed to heal almost anything he touches and I couldn't understand why..."

"I see. Do you keep up with your extended family? Like your cousin..."

"Sometimes, not recently," Fubuki said.

Jotaro laid a faded photograph on the table. There are six people and a dog in it. Fubuki recognized the only girl in the group.

"Hitomi..."

"Ten years ago, she helped us defeat one of the greatest evils this world has ever known," Jotaro said seriously. "We were Stand users with a common goal."

"She has a Stand? What can it do?"

"Like Josuke's Stand, it can heal wounds, but she can also heal diseases."

"... What does this have to do with me?" Fubuki asked.

Jotaro tipped his hat and began explaining a long history of the Joestar family and their enemy, an ancient vampire called Dio Brando. Jotaro mentioned an old ally to Jonathan Joestar, a wandering hermit named Zeppeli.

"It was no coincidence you and Josuke became friends. From the very beginning, it was fated that the Joestars and the Zeppelis will cross paths with each other," Jotaro said.

"Okay, hold on," Fubuki said. "This all sounds... really stupid."

"You can doubt me if you want, but it actually happened."

Jotaro continued with his story, which involved a quest back in 1988 where a group consisting of himself, his grandfather (who also happens to be Josuke's father), Fubuki's cousin, and a few more companions traveled to Egypt to defeat Dio and his assassins made up of evil Stand users. Fubuki thought this is all getting too silly and complicated. The waiter then came back with their refreshments.

"It was a long and difficult journey, but it had to be done," Jotaro finished.

"Why are you telling me this?" Fubuki asked slowly.

"Because I owe you context. Hitomi... Your cousin volunteered to help us and we couldn't have succeeded without her help. Not to mention, you're friends with my Gramps' kid..." Jotaro placed one of the pictures of Angelo on the table. "I think I can rely on you to help me find this man and bring him to justice."

"His name is Anjuro Katagiri, but he's known as Angelo," Fubuki began. "On March 1994, he came across three boys..."

"Wait, you already know him?" Jotaro asked, surprised.

"Angelo killed two of them and he kidnapped the third boy for ransom," Fubuki continued without stopping. "He later tortured and murdered the third boy, and then he was arrested. But last year, he survived his execution and he escaped from prison afterward..."

Jotaro noticed Fubuki's misty eyes are full of hate.

"The third boy he murdered... Shinichi... he was my cousin," Fubuki said.

"What?" Jotaro said, now shocked.

"For months, I've been keeping track of Angelo's murders," Fubuki stated in a cold voice. "Last night, Angelo called me."

"Wait, he did? Where is he? What did he tell you?" Jotaro demanded.

"He said that he's planning to come after me after he got rid of Josuke," Fubuki replied. "He said he's waiting for the right moment to strike, so I don't know when he'll do that... but I'm ready for him. I'm ready to find him and kill him to avenge Shinichi's death."

Jotaro stared at him, too stunned to speak.

"You... You're being reckless, how could you protect yourself if you don't have a Stand--"

Fubuki flipped his glass of water upside down. He then removed the glass and water still remained in its glass-shape without spilling. It jiggled like a jelly.

"I'm sorry for keeping this a secret from you, Mr. Kujo," Fubuki says. His Stand, Purple Rain, shows itself before Jotaro. "I wasn't sure you'd help me or hinder me..."

"Are you really planning to go after Angelo by yourself?" Jotaro spoke quietly. "He's a dangerous man and he'll overwhelm you easily. You'll get killed."

Fubuki scowled.

"You're being blinded by your thirst for revenge. I can understand your pain, but you're being selfish if you decide to take on a violent criminal while disregarding your safety. I'm asking you one last time... Don't seek Angelo out."

"Don't lecture me," Fubuki said, his heart full of bitterness. "I've suffered for five years because of that monster... I've already made up my mind."

Fubuki walked away from the cafe without looking back. Jotaro watched him go, getting annoyed at this new kid for being so stubborn.

He reminds me too much of her... he thought. His Stand, though... does it have something to do with water?

He reached out to touch the jelly-like water, but it exploded in right his face before reverting back to normal. Jotaro wiped his dripping face with a napkin.

"Gimme a break..." he grumbled.

Fubuki got on his bicycle and pedaled away. He heard the rumbling sound of an approaching rainstorm. 

<-- To be continued. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: Angelo's Aqua Necklace

After talking to Fubuki, Jotaro returned to his room at the Morioh Grand hotel where he is staying at with his daughter. Irene is lying on the floor, on her stomach, drawing butterflies and dolphins to keep herself entertained.

Jotaro is sitting on the couch, staring intensely at a file about Angelo's past crime. He is slightly concerned about what Fubuki said: that Angelo is waiting for his moment to attack Josuke. He is also worried about Fubuki going after Angelo in order to avenge his cousin who was murdered by the same man.

He picked up the phone and dialed the Higashikata's phone number. He has to warn Josuke about Angelo.

*&*&*

"I'm home."

Meanwhile, Josuke Higashikata arrived at his house after leaving school. His mother isn't here yet... which means until she comes home, he can play the new 'Super Smash Bros' game without being disturbed. He heard rumbling in the distance and he noticed the sky is turning grayish-purple.

"A rainstorm?" Josuke is confused. "But the weatherman from last night's news said we won't be expecting any showers for at least a week..."

Suddenly, he heard a loud thump from upstairs.

"Grandpa?!" Josuke called.

When his grandfather didn't reply back, Josuke dropped his school bag and ran upstairs, ignoring the phone that started ringing...

Josuke opened the door to his grandfather's bedroom, only to find Ryohei lifting dumbbells.

"What's wrong, Josuke?" Ryohei grunted in a casual tone. His face is flushed and his arms are rather wobbly.

"What was that sound just now?" Josuke demanded.

"Oh! Sorry, I dropped this!" Ryohei replied, holding up one of the dumbbells. "It nearly landed on my foot, haha!"

Ryohei grunted and puffed his cheeks as he lifted the second dumbbell, straining himself beyond his limit.

"Grandpa, you're overdoing it," Josuke reminded him. "You're gonna throw your back like last time."

"N-not going to happen!" Ryohei said. "If I don't train up, how am I going to protect this town?"

Josuke watched, wincing, as Ryohei finishes with his workout.

"Ninety... eight! Ninety... nine! Aaarrrgh... one hundred!"

Ryohei dropped the dumbbells and exhaled in relief.

"You see? This old dog still got it!" Ryohei smiled.

Josuke couldn't help but be impressed with him. Ryohei decided to change the subject.

"Hey, Josuke, how would you feel if your mother got remarried?" he asked.

This took the teenager by surprise. "Is she seeing anyone?"

"No, no! ... At least not yet," Ryohei said. "I've been thinking of setting her up with one of the men from the police department. Do you remember Detective Yanagimoto?"

"How can I not remember that big douche?" Josuke said, a little annoyed at the mention of that name. "He keeps telling me off and not to waste my time at the pachinko parlors."

"He used to work under me and he's always been interested in your mother," Ryohei said. "It's been sixteen years, I think it's time your mother find someone new and more grounded."

"Good luck with that," Josuke chuckled. "Mom said her only lover is with my dad, and I've never even met him."

I don't even wanna begin telling you that he's WAY older than you, he added in his thoughts.

"Well, I hope when you get a girl of your own someday, she doesn't dump you with a kid and disappears somewhere. Though, I wouldn't mind living that long to see my first great-grandkid."

Josuke blushed slightly. "Oh, hahaha."

The sound of the phone ringing caught their attention. Josuke decided to go get it while Ryohei continued with his training. The old policeman got down on the floor so he can try doing crunches, but he seems to have more difficulty with it.

"Ow, my back!" he winced.

*&*&*

Outside of the Higashikata house, Angelo is hiding up in a tree. He using a binocular to spy on Ryohei and Josuke. Seeing Ryohei gave Angelo a feeling of dark nostalgia.

"That cop... I knew that name Higashikata sounds familiar," Angelo said to himself. "So, I stumbled upon Officer Higashikata's house... The last time I saw him, I was just twelve when he arrested me."

Angelo grinned deviously to himself. He couldn't believe his amazing luck.

At the moment, the rain began to fall from the dark violet clouds. They feel like ice on his skin but this is what he's been waiting for. At that moment, Angelo's Stand was summoned and began to make its way towards the house.

"There's no escaping from me," Angelo murmured sadistically. He pulled up a tattered umbrella to protect himself from the rain. "Go, Aqua Necklace... Kill the entire family!"

*&*&*

Josuke was surprised to get a phone call from Jotaro but he told him about the mysterious Stand he saw yesterday. While he was talking, he began brushing his hair.

"Was Angelo lurking nearby? You know, the guy from the picture?" Jotaro asked.

"If he was, I didn't see him there," Josuke answered.

"Listen, his Stand may not be very strong, but he can control it from afar. And its ability to infiltrate bodies is going to make things tricky. Is Fubuki with you?"

"Huh? Well, I saw Fubuki in school today, but he hasn't stopped by yet... Why did you bring him up?"

"I just found out he's connected to Angelo. He had a relative who was killed by him a few years ago."

Josuke nearly drops the phone. "Wait, are you serious?!"

"Fubuki is determined to go after him. Since Angelo has targeted you, Fubuki will go where Angelo is."

Josuke is shocked but he recalled Fubuki's words to him last night:

"I'm just not the same boy you used to play with years ago."

Now that he thinks about it, when Jotaro showed that picture of Angelo to Josuke and his new friends, Josuke had noticed Fubuki's face became different... almost dark and cold. He did not think much about it until now.

Josuke felt a bit sick in his stomach that he went to the kitchen. He brought out a glass bottle of orange juice and drank it all to wash down his disgust.

"I'm going to try to find Fubuki before he does something stupid," Jotaro continued. "In the meantime, sit tight. I'll be there soon."

"Huh?! You mean--?!" Josuke stammered.

"Until I get there, don't eat or drink anything--"

Josuke quickly glanced down at his empty bottle of juice. He nearly got scared for a moment when he thought Angelo's Stand has already infiltrated his body. But he touched his throat and felt nothing. Jotaro just continued speaking, unaware of what is happening at the moment.

"Do you understand? Stay away from tap water, avoid the bathroom and shower. Got it--"

"Can we slow down a bit?" Josuke said. "I haven't told my mom you're in town yet."

"Told me what?" his mother suddenly spoke behind him.

Josuke yelped and he hung up the phone. His mother has just come home and she had entered the kitchen without his notice. She began pouring herself a glass of water straight from the kitchen faucet.

"Well, Josuke?" Tomoko asked, waiting for his answer.

"It's another old buddy I haven't seen in years!" Josuke lied. He even put on a fake smile. "What is his name again, is it Daisuke? Or is it Matt...?"

"Before you remember it, how's your grandfather?" Tomoko asked.

"He's fine, he's upstairs doing his workout," Josuke said. "He's an old man, but he's made of steel!"

"That's true," Tomoko smiled. "Josuke, you'll have to cook dinner tonight, I have to go out again."

"In this weather?" Josuke asked, glancing at the rain outside.

"I'll bring a coat and an umbrella. I'm meeting with a couple of colleagues from my work." Tomoko got an idea. "If you want, you could come together with me."

Tomoko took a drink from her glass. Josuke's eyes widened when he noticed a familiar Stand peeking inside her mouth. Angelo's Stand has already gotten inside of her body!

While his mother isn't looking, Josuke grabbed the empty juice bottle.

His Stand punched through her body and shattered the bottle. In less than a second, Josuke's Stand pulled back, healing Tomoko, and restored the broken bottle—which is now filled with water.

Tomoko blinked, wondering what was that strange sharp pain she felt right now.

"Josuke, are you coming with me or not?" she asked again, setting her glass down in the sink.

"No, I'm cool!" Josuke replied. "I don't mind spending dinner with Grandpa!"

"What a pity," Tomoko said. "I thought we could go on a date once in a while."

"Mooom!" Josuke blushed, embarrassed.

Tomoko laughed, it was so easy to tease her son. "Alright, I'm going."

She picked up an umbrella near the door. She then stopped before she could leave.

"Oh, I haven't prepared my bath yet," she said.

"No worries. I'll do it," Josuke said. Hurry, just go!

Tomoko thanked him and she left. Josuke is relieved; with his mom out of the house for a few hours, she will be safe from Angelo. He looked at the water inside the bottle, wondering if he really managed to catch the Stand. He shook the bottle and Aqua Necklace showed itself, snarling at Josuke.

"Gotcha," Josuke smirked.

*&*&*

Back at the Morioh Grand Hotel, when Jotaro lost contact with Josuke, the rain came down.

"Daddy, it's a downpour!" Irene pointed it out excitedly. "It's like the rains back in Florida!"

Jotaro realized in horror.

"Don't tell me... Angelo is..." he muttered.

He instantly realized this is the chance Angelo has been waiting for. Angelo needed a water source to kill his victims and the rain would be his biggest advantage.

His phone rang and he picked it up. He recognized the voice.

"Is this Jotaro?" Josuke asked.

"Josuke?"

"Sorry for hanging up. I've got something to tell you. I caught the Stand."

"What?"

"He entered my mom's mouth and I managed to catch the little bastard in a bottle. What should I do with it?"

Jotaro is bewildered.

"Just be careful. Angelo's probably spying on your house as we speak," he said. "Turns out he wasn't just waiting for you to drink anything, he's been waiting for the rain. That means his Stand can move freely. Keep your eyes glued to the Stand and I'll be there soon."

He hung up and turned to his daughter.

"Irene, I need you to stay here for a while," Jotaro told her urgently. "Do not leave this room. Wait for me to come back."

"Daddy, where are you going?" Irene asked.

Jotaro did not give her an answer. He just left the room, leaving Irene alone and a little scared while the rain pours outside.

Back with Josuke, he looked at the bottle in his hand.

"That guy is kinda bossy, even though he's my nephew," he said. When he didn't see the Stand inside the bottle, he shook the bottle roughly. "Hey, stop hiding like that. Hellooo?"

"Ubwaargh!!" Aqua Necklace reappeared in the bottle and it growled.

"Good boy~" Josuke smirked again.

Outside in the rain, unbeknownst to Josuke and everyone in the neighborhood, Angelo is being thrashed around thanks to his Stand's link.

"STOP IT, YOU BRAT!" he yelled.

When he stopped moving, he is lying in a puddle of dirty rainwater. He panted heavily, now filled with so much anger towards the teenager.

"That son of a bitch... I'll make sure you pay dearly for that!"

*&*&*

In another part of town, Fubuki is walking alone in the sidewalk while dragging his bike at his side. Around him, random passersby are hurrying to avoid the rain while a lucky few managed to take out their umbrellas.

Fubuki did not have an umbrella and he let the rain fall on him. However, he wasn't drenched, even his hair isn't wet at all. The raindrops seem to slide off from his skin and clothes like they were made of oil, leaving him completely dry.

Fubuki's darkened face is filled with heavy gloom as his mind kept replaying the night when Angelo was arrested...


Fubuki waited for hours to hear about his cousin's fate. When the police told him the horrifying truth, Fubuki fell into despair. He already knew Angelo would murder his cousin anyway, but Fubuki couldn't let go of his guilt.

The police returned to him and his family the snow-white scarf that used to belong to Shinichi. It was with Shinichi when his body was discovered; it was covered in his blood and it made Fubuki vomit.


Fubuki was brought back to the current reality when he noticed he almost crossed a red light. At first, he did not remember how he arrived at this neighborhood. He slowly looked up at the ominous, violet sky.

"It's raining..." he muttered. "Rain... water..."

A brief image of Angelo's Stand flashed before his eyes. He even remembered Angelo's call from last night and his conversation with Jotaro Kujo.

"Josuke's in trouble!" Fubuki said in a panic. "I shouldn't be here!"

Fubuki jumped onto his bicycle and pedaled as fast as he can.

*&*&*

Back at the Higashikata house, Josuke decided to play video games while he waited for his much older nephew to arrive. He was in the middle of playing when he noticed a gun to his forehead.

"Freeze!" Ryohei said. He is now dressed in his police uniform, so he can get ready for his evening patrol.

"Ah!" Josuke is startled.

"Josuke, weren't you supposed to be doing homework at this hour?" Ryohei demanded.

"G-Grandpa, since when did they let you bring guns home from work?"

"Since now, answer the question!"

"I'm just waiting for somebody right now!"

Ryohei burst into chuckles and he pulled the gun back.

"You scaredy cat! This is only a fake gun, my boy!" he grinned. "Had you going, didn't I? I guess the first win of this week goes to me!"

Josuke, however, is now grumpy.

"Yeah, yeah, really funny... you win," he said. He went over to turn off his game and put away his console.

"What's wrong?" Ryohei asked. "You don't usually take it personally like that."

"I'm fine, and mom left for the night," Josuke said. "Shouldn't you be off?"

Josuke turned on the evening news. The anchorman announced seven bodies have been found in Kotodai Park, and he mentioned how the victims' eyes and ears were disfigured, and their internal organs ruptured.

"The incidents seem to be isolated to the town of Morioh," the anchorman said from the television. "These deaths are still being investigated on. In another news, another young child has gone missing. 4-year-old Mariko Kinomoto was seen last night at the public playground, and she was presumed to be kidnapped while her mother looked away for several seconds..."

"It's gotten worse than I expected," Ryohei said, his face now grim and serious. "Not just this recent serial murderer, but also the missing children... What the news did not mention is that any missing child that did turn up were their only cremated ashes. Whoever killed them knew not to leave any evidence to trace back to them... Make no mistake, I can sense something wicked is lurking in this town."

"Grandpa..." Josuke whispered.

Suddenly, he remembered something else and smacked his forehead.

"Aah!! Aw crap, I forgot to prepare the bath!" Josuke cried, turning off the TV and getting up from the chair. "I have to do it now, or else Mom will have my hide!"

Ryohei watched his grandson run out of the room. Hiding from the bottle, Aqua Necklace decided to put its diabolical plan into action before Josuke gets back. Not only Angelo knew Ryohei Higashikata's name, but he's also aware of the policeman's habits... which include drinking a nice glass of brandy.

Aqua Necklace began changing the color of the water to resemble alcohol. Ryohei then noticed the bottle and he picked it up from the table near Josuke's chair.

"Hey, this looks like one mine," he said, walking away. "Did Josuke take this from my stash? Hah, he's too old for some hard drinking! Maybe we'll have a drink together on his 21st birthday, hehe..."

Josuke came back after preparing a bath for his mother. He was about to resume his video game when he heard another loud thump somewhere in the house.

"What is Grandpa doing now? Trying to be a bodybuilder?" Josuke muttered. "I thought he was going to work..."

He then noticed the bottle containing Aqua Necklace is gone. His heart skipped a beat. He then realized what that loud thump was.

"Grandpa!!" Josuke screamed.

Josuke ran to his grandfather's room and came upon a horrifying sight. His grandfather is lying on the floor, bleeding from his eyes, ears, and mouth.

"G-Grandpa!!" Josuke cried and ran over to him.

"Josuke!"

Jotaro entered the bedroom. Not only he just arrived at the house, but he made his way in when he heard Josuke screaming. However, he was too late.

Lying near Ryohei's body is the glass bottle, but it was empty. Aqua Necklace has escaped.

"I turned away for one second and he opened the bottle," Josuke told Jotaro as he kneeled beside his fallen grandfather. "Don't worry, though. I got this... I know it doesn't look good, but after my Stand heals him, it'll be like it never happened."

Josuke's Stand gently clasped Ryohei's face and fixed his injuries. Ryohei is now wearing a serene expression on his face, but he did not open his eyes. Josuke did not understand why his grandfather isn't waking up.

"He's going to open his eyes..." he muttered. "My Stand has always been able to heal anything... I even fixed Fubuki's broken leg like it was nothing... His injuries should be completely fixed!"

Jotaro heard a sound from downstairs. He left Josuke in the bedroom to investigate. He found the kitchen and the living room has been flooded. The faucets were turned on to leave the water running. Pots and kettles began boiling water to release steam.

Jotaro turned off the faucets when he heard a disembodied voice somewhere.

"Hey, who the hell are you?" it demanded.

Jotaro looked around.

"Oh, you can hear me? Interesting... I didn't think you'd be a Stand user! I guess I'll deal with you first, stranger!"

Jotaro heard a kitchen faucet turn itself on behind him. When he turned around, Aqua Necklace burst out from one of the boiling kettles. It launched itself at Jotaro, but Star Platinum managed to punch the amorphous Stand away. Aqua Necklace was smacked against a wall, but it is unaffected by the punch due to its body being made of water.

At that moment, Josuke came downstairs. His eyes are full of tears and rage.

"You bastard..." Josuke said, his voice nearly shaking. "You aren't getting away from this."

*&*&*

Outside, Angelo is still spying on the fight going inside the Higashikata house from his hiding place. The rain has gotten so much colder, he started shivering.

"They're both pretty fast!" Angelo chuckled. "No matter, they can't escape from me! Not from the rain!"

Then he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around to see a white-and-purple humanoid Stand.

"You're right... you can't escape from the Purple Rain," the Stand spoke in Fubuki's voice.

Before Angelo could figure out who this new Stand is, he got struck in the face by its fist which knocked him down from the tree. Without Aqua Necklace to protect him, he scrambled back up to his feet and tried to get away.

However, he fell back down his face. He noticed the water puddle under him glued his feet together like adhesives.

"H-hey! What is this?!" Angelo shouted.

"Yo, Angelo."

Fubuki stepped out from behind the tree and Purple Rain floated next to him. Fubuki's green eyes seemed to illuminate behind his eyeglasses. He and Purple Rain slowly walked closer. Angelo suddenly became afraid of this teenager.

"Stop!" Angelo cried as the water wrapped tighter around his legs. He couldn't get away. "G-gimme a break!"

"Okay," Fubuki said.

Purple Rain kicked one of Angelo's legs wrapped in the water-cocoon. It caused his leg to break and bend in an unnatural way.

"Gyaaaaahh!!" Angelo screamed.

Inside the house, Aqua Necklace transformed its body into a steam-like cloud so it can infiltrate Josuke's body. Before it can do that, Aqua Necklace screamed in pain and its cloud form burst apart.

"What was that just now?!" Josuke asked, wide-eyed. "I haven't even punched that freak yet! Did something happened to Angelo?!"

"Perhaps..." Jotaro wondered. Is Fubuki nearby already? "For now, stay away from the steam and don't inhale it. Let's use this moment to get out."

"Not yet, I have to know where he went!"

However, the air is beginning to get hot and cloudy with the steam. Even the ceiling is beginning to leak with water. Angelo must have made holes on the roof, so Josuke and Jotaro can't escape to the entire second floor. If they go outside, they'll be at the mercy of Aqua Necklace.

"Ugh, this is just great..." Josuke said.

Josuke and Jotaro have no choice but to leave the kitchen. Unfortunately for them, they are blocked by more clouds of steam coming from the bathroom at the end of the hall.

"That Angelo's really cunning," Jotaro said. "I really shouldn't underestimate water-based Stands like these..."

Josuke started chuckling.

"What's so funny?" Jotaro asked. "Let me remind you that we're trapped like rats."

"It's fine, Mr. Jotaro, but think of it this way," Josuke made a little smile. "He's so close by, I'll be able to avenge my grandpa real soon."

*&*&*

Back outside in the rain, Angelo continued to scream in agony. Even though he's still using his Stand to attack the Joestars, he's being attacked by Fubuki.

The sticky water moved up to his upper body to bind his arms behind him and twisted his back painfully. Purple Rain kept pressing its foot down on Angelo's broken leg, causing him to cry out. Fubuki stood above Angelo, his eyes glinted with a calm and icy look. Fubuki is neither smiling nor frowning; he is completely stone-faced.

"Goddamn you, let me go...!" Angelo shouted. He is trying to reach for his tattered umbrella.

"Let me go?" Fubuki repeated his words in a soft voice. "Did he say the same thing to you five years ago? ... Did he, Angelo?!"

Purple Rain stomped on Angelo's leg harder. Angelo screamed louder. Fubuki decided to finish the job quickly. He pulled a pair of brand-new scissors from his pocket.

"How ironic... you're going to die by the same type of weapon you used to murder my cousin," Fubuki said coldly. And Mr. Kujo says Angelo will overwhelm me? This is too easy.

Angelo suddenly smirked, to Fubuki's surprise. Fubuki jumped when he heard Jotaro shouted from inside the house.

"Josuke!!"

"I finally got inside that brat's mouth!" Angelo grinned. "He's at my mercy now, Fubuki! Drop the scissors and release your Stand! Do it now, or I'll tear his insides!"

"You... you dare..." Fubuki growled, trembling.

"RIGHT NOW!"

Fubuki hesitated. He was so close to killing Angelo, but he can't let his old friend die because of his revenge... Fubuki dropped the scissors. Purple Rain then returned the water back to normal. Angelo laughed as he began crawling away.

Fubuki couldn't hold back his rage. Purple Rain sent a water-mold spike at Angelo, but the latter managed to grab his umbrella. He managed to open it in time and he blocked the attack. The spike burst back into normal water and the umbrella was shoved into Fubuki's face. Before Fubuki can retaliate, Angelo picked up the scissors and stabbed him in the throat.

Fubuki choked as blood spurted out from his neck. He couldn't believe he failed.

"Well, well... this is the biggest irony of them all," Angelo said, glaring at him.

Fubuki fell on the ground and he began bleeding out.

*&*&*

Around the same time, Josuke managed to smash a hole in the wall so he and Jotaro can slip into another room to escape the steam. Then Josuke restored the wall afterward.

The two of them thought they were safe for now, but they found a humidifier has been turned on. Aqua Necklace used the mist released from the humidifier to get into Josuke's mouth.

"Josuke!!" Jotaro shouted.

"Buweeeheeheehee! I've won! You did exactly what I expected!" Aqua Necklace laughed. "I knew you were going to smash through the wall! When I can predict something right, I laugh my belly out like this!"

Aqua Necklace slipped down into Josuke's throat and the schoolboy started choking and clutching his chest. In seconds, his internal organs will be ruptured. Jotaro could only watch helplessly...

It's time for Josuke to initiate Plan B.

"Mr. Jotaro..." he said. "Even if his prediction is right... that bastard Angelo couldn't predict this!"

His Stand appeared and pulled out a plastic glove from his mouth. Earlier, he cut up the glove into tiny strips and swallowed them just in case Aqua Necklace managed to get inside him. Now the Stand is entrapped once again.

Back with Angelo, who is now standing (despite having a broken leg) above the dying Fubuki. He had not realized his Stand has been captured.

"I wonder if that arrogant four-eyed brat is dead yet..." he grumbled. "I think I'll stab him again just to be safe."

Angelo is suddenly being thrashed around by an invisible force and he was thrown into the air. He landed farther away down the street. He looked up to see Jotaro and Josuke.

Terrified, he tries to escape only for Josuke's Stand to shake the trapped Aqua Necklace, shaking the criminal as well. Angelo leaned up against a giant rock landmark near the street.

"Easy now! You ain't thinking of killing me, aint'cha?!" Angelo yelled, pointing at the two Joestars. "Let me be frank, Josuke! You're the one at fault here! If you had kept a closer eye on my Aqua Necklace, your grandpa wouldn't be dead! You don't have the right to judge me!"

Josuke just stared at him.

"If you kill me, you'll be cursed just like me! Ahahahaha!"

"DORA!!"

Josuke's Stand punched Angelo's right hand into the rock and fused with it.

"It's rude to point your finger at someone, 'Frank'," Josuke said sarcastically.

"Oh god! M-my hand is fused to a rock!" Angelo screamed. "How could you do this to me?!"

"No one is going to kill you, Angelo," Josuke told him.

"How did you become a Stand user?" Jotaro demanded. Josuke turned to him, wondering why he brought it up. "You weren't born with it, so you must have become one while you were in prison. So speak."

Angelo glared at them while he clutched his right hand.

"Ah, screw it! I'll tell you everything!" he said. "I was struck by an arrow last year, just months before my execution..."

Angelo confessed that the man who made him a Stand user wore a Japanese school uniform, but he did not reveal his face. The mysterious man shot him with an ancient Bow and Arrow and as Angelo survived, he awakened his own 'gift'... in the form of a Stand. Angelo included a name the man mentioned to him: Dio.

Jotaro's face went pale when he heard that name.

"That man chose me on his own accord," Angelo said, sweating and huffing. "You could say he's the real one at fault here."

While Josuke and Jotaro aren't looking, the trapped Aqua Necklace is still active and is silently going after the unconscious Fubuki, who is still lying in a pool of his own blood while his body is obscured by bushes.

"That guy is more dangerous than me and he's here in this town!" Angelo said. "You guys can't defeat him!"

"Who is he?" Jotaro asked urgently.

"Fix my hand this instant or HE gets it!"

Jotaro and Josuke turned around to see the gloved hand clutching around Fubuki's bloodied neck.

"What the-- Fubuki?!" Josuke gasped.

"You idiots!" Angelo grinned. "You were so captivated by my story, you completely forgot about my Aqua Necklace!"

"Angelo, you bastard!" Jotaro turned to him.

"You lost, Josuke! He's about to croak any second now, so unless you want to be responsible for his death, remove this rock my from my hand right now!!"

Josuke stared at Fubuki's body. After a moment, he took out his comb and began fixing his hair.

"I'm considering it..." he calmly said.

"WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!" Angelo yelled. "STOP COMBING YOUR SHITTY HAIR, OR I'LL KILL HIM!"

Josuke snapped. Jotaro realized what's going to happen next.

"Take it easy, Josuke!" he shouted.

"Do you want to repeat..." Josuke said, summoning his Stand. "... About what you just said about my hair?!"

"You're going to kill me, you psychotic bastard?!" Angelo cried, terrified.

Josuke's Stand unleashed a barrage of rapid-fire punches into Angelo, breaking him and the rock behind apart.

"DORARARARARARA!!"

The rock shattered and as it restored, Angelo is infused into it. Josuke watched as the rock now formed into an ugly face until Angelo is no more.

"I told you before, Angelo... No one is going to kill you. Not me... Not Jotaro... not even the Japanese law. You won't be going to prison either," he said. "Enjoy your eternal penance... Reflect on the lives you stole from my grandpa and everyone else. Here you'll remain for all eternity... in the town my grandpa loved."


MORIOH'S FAMOUS LANDMARK #1

The Angelo Stone: A big stone shaped like a human face. Despite its creepy appearance, it is a popular meeting spot for romantic rendezvous.

Directions: Take the bus in Morioh, go towards the direction of Jōzenji road. Get off at the third stop and walk for one minute.


After Josuke fully calmed down, he rushed over to Fubuki and saw how much blood he had lost. He quickly healed his friend's injury and the color returned to his face. However, Fubuki did not open his eyes yet.

"Oh, no... not again..." Josuke mumbled, panicking again. He grabbed the front of Fubuki's uniform desperately. "Please don't... don't go too...!"

Fubuki coughed and he woke up. Josuke is so relieved he wanted to cry.

"Angelo!" Fubuki said, looking around for the criminal. "He got away!"

"Don't worry about him, he's already been taken care of," Jotaro stated. He tipped his hat lower. "He will never hurt anyone ever again."

*&*&*

Fubuki could not believe Angelo has been caught. At first, he was angry that he wasn't the one who defeated Angelo... but his anger disappeared when he learned Ryohei has been murdered by Angelo.

He, Josuke, and Jotaro returned to the Higashikata house. Josuke used his Stand to fix the watery mess in the house before his mother comes home. Then Fubuki and Jotaro followed Josuke to Ryohei's bedroom.

The old policeman is still lying peacefully on the floor. Josuke crouched next to him and stared at his grandfather's face.

He was almost on the verge of breaking down when Jotaro touched his shoulder to comfort him.

"Humans thrive on the destruction of others..." Jotaro began. "But among them there's you, and your power is the kindest, most generous ability one could ever have... However, no amount of compassion or love can bring back the dead. Not even Stands have that power."

Josuke understood, even if the truth hurts him. Jotaro left the room to make a phone call. Fubuki stayed with Josuke, he did not want to leave him alone.

"I'm sorry..." he said. "I know what it's like to lose someone to a monster like Angelo. He killed someone very important to me years ago..."

"Y-yeah, Mr. Jotaro told me about it," Josuke said, not looking at him. "I'm sorry about what happened... And I'm sorry that I got to Angelo first before you had your revenge..."

"It's a five-year-long grudge, I'll get over it," Fubuki said, though if he wasn't sure if he meant it. He looked at Ryohei again and he felt his chest aching. "… Your grandfather has always been a good man, he shouldn't have to die..."

Josuke found himself remembering an old memory of his grandfather.


"Did you hit someone again, Josuke?!" Ryohei scolded his grandson.

The two of them are standing in Ryohei's bedroom. Josuke's eyes are full of tears and he has a big bruise on his face. He is almost a teenager and he began styling his hair into a pompadour.

"They... they made fun of me..." Josuke mumbled.

"So? What do you get from hitting someone?"

Josuke looked down in shame. Ryohei sighed and placed a hand on his grandson's shoulder.

"Josuke, you're strong and you're getting bigger every day... and you are gifted with a special power that nobody else, not even I could see," Ryohei told him.

Back then, Ryohei is the only person who knew of Josuke's Stand. Even if he did not understand what it is or where it came from, he knows it's a power meant to help someone.

"Josuke, you must be kind... The 'jo' in your name means 'help'. Use your power to do the right thing, even if people will kick you in the teeth."


I understand now, Grandpa, Josuke thought.

"My grandpa looked after this town for thirty-five years. He never once abandoned his post," he spoke again. "When he heard the news about Angelo's murders earlier, he had the eyes of the guardian of this town."

Josuke clenched his fists and stood up. His face is full of shining justice.

"And now... it's my turn to protect this town," he declared.

Fubuki looked at him in awe. He then smiled a little.

"I knew you would say that," he said.

Jotaro came back. 

"Your mother will be home soon," he told Josuke. He turned to Fubuki. "Let's go."

Fubuki nodded. Josuke followed them down to the front door but Jotaro stopped and looked at him.

"By the way, I never got the name of your Stand," he said.

"Oh, I've... never actually named mine," Josuke said sheepishly. "I didn't think you could name Stands."

"I figured. From now on, its name is Crazy Diamond."

Josuke chuckled a bit. "That's a cool name, it certainly has a shine to it. Thanks, nephew!"

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: The Nijimura Brothers, Part 1

The news talked about the strange shift in weather and the violet-tinted rain clouds the following day, but nobody paid attention to it.

A wake for Ryohei Higashikata is being held at his daughter's home. Friends, neighbors and distant relatives came to pay their respects. Even a few police officers who knew Ryohei came to visit.

Fubuki is no stranger to events like this. He felt a little uncomfortable to be here since it reminded him too much of his cousin Shinichi's funeral, but he's staying for the Higashikata family's sake. Grandma Julia often told him about her family's sad tradition of family members dying to short-lived and violent deaths--sometimes both.


"Nobody in the Zeppeli family has ever died from natural causes," Grandma Julia spoke to him earlier that day. "I know it will be the same for me one day. I've buried far too many family members, so when it's my turn to die... I want you and Norisuke to bury me."

"… Grandma, please don't say grim stuff like that," Fubuki said, sweating. "You're going to make Uncle Norisuke upset."


Fubuki doesn't believe his family is 'cursed' with such misfortune, but a lot of things his grandmother said is true. Even his second cousin Hitomi suffered her own losses...

"Hey, Fubuki, you're here too?"

Fubuki saw Koichi near the entrance. He is dressed in his school uniform and he has a worried expression on his face.

"Hey, Koichi," Fubuki greeted him. "Yeah, I came... I didn't want to skip out on this. Have you seen Josuke?"

"Yeah. He's with his... grandpa," Koichi said. "It's so sad to see him like that..."

Fubuki nodded. Koichi placed a hand near his mouth so he can whisper to him.

"Is it true his grandpa was murdered by... a Stand user?" he asked.

"Yeah, but since Josuke healed his wounds, his mother assumed he died from a stroke instead," Fubuki said. "I don't think Josuke would ever bring himself to tell her the truth..."

Fubuki passed by several guests until he found the room where Ryohei's coffin is. His picture is sitting above him and some incense sticks were lit. Josuke is sitting close by, his head lowered. Fubuki entered the room and silently prayed for Ryohei's soul. Josuke noticed his presence and got up. Fubuki noticed his eyes are tired and puffy. He looked like he hadn't slept for days.

Fubuki took Josuke to the kitchen, so they can be alone together. They sat down in the table.

"How are you and your mother doing?" Fubuki asked.

"Okay, I guess," Josuke replied, shrugging his shoulders. "My mom's a mess, I think she's crying somewhere."

"Is she going to be okay?"

"Of course. I don't know what she plans to do with my grandpa's clothes now that he doesn't need them anymore..."

"That cut on your lip. Isn't that where Mr. Kujo punched you the other day?" Fubuki pointed to a faint cut on Josuke's lower lip. It's faint but still visible. "Couldn't you heal that with your Stand?"

Josuke paused. "… I can't heal my own injuries."

"What?"

"That's how my Crazy Diamond always works."

"Are you telling me you could have easily died that night when Angelo..."

Fubuki saw Josuke's hair flared up into spikes before Josuke patted them down.

"Don't worry, I'm not going berserk," Josuke apologized. "Hearing that name got me a little ticked off. But I'm calm... really! You were saying?"

Fubuki forgot his words. He had to admit, seeing Josuke losing his temper gets him nervous. He already witnessed what Josuke's temper has done to objects that he tried to restore. They warped into a misshapen state beyond repair. This was the terrifying fate for Angelo, though Fubuki did not mind nor care for the criminal's mental state.

"… What would have happened if you didn't have a plan when Angelo got inside your body, and he actually teared you up from the inside?" Fubuki asked again, a little slowly.

"What do you think? It's over for me."

Fubuki stared at him, now feeling sorry for Josuke. He wished he had gotten to Angelo sooner before he killed Ryohei.

Someone then entered the kitchen. It is Sgt. Detective Yanagimoto, Ryohei's superior at the Morioh Police Department. The police sergeant is a tall, broad-shouldered man with a long groove across the right side of his face vertically, which also divided his right eyebrow. He always wore dark sunglasses so nobody has seen his real eyes. He always has a scowling look on his face, as though he's expecting someone to cause trouble. To stand out from his fellow policemen, he is wearing a fur-lined bomber jacket over his police uniform.

"Josuke, I was looking for you," Detective Yanagimoto said. "You okay, kid?"

"Yeah..." Josuke replied stiffly.

"Is it alright if I talk about your grandfather with you?" he asked.

"As long as he stays," Josuke said, motioning his head towards Fubuki.

"That's good enough for me."

Yanagimoto pulled out a chair and he sat down on the table, opposite of Josuke. He then brought out a broken watch from his pocket and he handed it to Josuke.

"Why are you giving me a broken watch?" Josuke asked.

"It belonged to your grandfather. The reason why it's broken, there's a story behind it..." Yanagimoto explained. "Your grandfather works hard as a policeman because he wants to be his best to help people, but he does have his own regrets. Fifteen years ago, when I first entered the police force, there was an incident in Morioh and it was the one Ryohei regretted the most... An entire family of three was killed and he wanted to catch this murderer with his own hands. The female high school student who was killed was really cheerful, she always greeted him. She was your grandfather's source of encouragement."

"Did my grandpa catch the killer?" Josuke inquired.

Yanagimoto looked like he swallowed something bitter but his face was enough for Josuke to get an answer. Fubuki is sitting quietly while listening to the story.

"This was the watch awarded to him during his 20th year of service," the detective continued, tapping his finger on the broken watch in Josuke's hand. "But when that incident happened, Ryohei smashed it hard against the wall. He told me that he failed as a policeman and he couldn't protect that girl... Since then, Ryohei didn't try for promotion, and only desperately wanted to protect this town. I was his protege and even though I've outranked him, I often turn to him for advice... This watch is yours now."

Yanagimoto retrieved his cap and stood up.

"Right now, we have a killer on a rampage, we just found two more bodies with the same injuries to the internal organs," he said grimly. "I promise you that I will bring the one responsible to justice. I won't fail as Ryohei did."

Josuke and Fubuki looked at each other, but Yanagimoto did not notice it. When he left the kitchen, Fubuki adjusted his glasses awkwardly.

"He's talking about Angelo, but he doesn't know Angelo has already been stopped," he said.

"He'll figure out one day," Josuke said. He is staring at the broken watch which belonged to his grandfather.

He summoned Crazy Diamond and restored it. He smiled when it started ticking for the first time in fifteen years.

*&*&*

One early evening, Fubuki stepped out from the main library at the end of Kotodai Park. He had spent hours studying and doing his personal research. He was about to jump onto his bike and head home when he sensed a presence.

He looked around and saw a familiar male student standing across the street. It was Keicho Nijimura.

Keicho silently motioned Fubuki to follow him. The latter obeyed and pedaled behind him, keeping his distance.

Eventually, Keicho led Fubuki to Josuke's neighborhood for some reason. Fubuki was about to speak up when Keicho brought him to an abandoned building in its poor state. The windows have been boarded up and it looked nobody is living here.

However, Fubuki found himself frozen in his spot.

"Hey... this is my old house!" Fubuki cried.

"Oh? You lived here?" Keicho inquired.

"I lived in this town before I moved away, but I completely forgot about my old home!" Fubuki is sweating and he could feel his mind spiraling all over the place. "Yeah, of course... I actually lived in this neighborhood before... How did I not remember?"

"You must not have a lot of good memories of this house then."

Keicho opened the gate, seemingly ignoring the "No Entry" sign. Fubuki parked his bike and followed him inside the building.

The house is worse in the inside; there is a lot of dust and cobwebs, making the air almost hard to breathe. Some paint from the walls have peeled off years ago and more wooded boarded up the walls to cover up the cracks and holes. However, Fubuki found himself being swallowed by nostalgia and old memories of his forgotten home. He remembered exactly where his parents hang their Vincent Van Gogh paintings and his old bedroom where he used to sleep...

"So, you're living here now?" Fubuki asked Keicho.

"Yes. I recently moved in with my family."

It was too dark to see so Keicho lit up a candle. This is the first time Fubuki could see his face clearly. Keicho is definitely a young man with light eyes and sharp features, and his brow rested in a serious, directed expression.

"OKUYASU! COME HERE THIS INSTANT, SOLDIER!" Keicho barked.

Fubuki heard footsteps hurriedly running and he turned around to see another male student came into the room. He has two fine lines across his rough face in semicircles passing the inner corners of his eyes. He is sporting a small, dark pompadour, and the hair at his sides are light and combed back closely. Similar to Keicho's outfit, he is wearing a double-breasted jacket with golden yen and dollar emblems. On his right shoulder is the printed kanji for billion, and his left reads "BILLION" in English.

"What's up, Big Bro?" the student named Okuyasu asked.

"We have a guest, this is our new comrade Fubuki," Keicho said. "The one I told you about."

"Reallyyy?" Okuyasu looked at Fubuki with interest.

"He's my younger brother," Keicho told Fubuki. "He's a Stand user like the both of us. He's an idiot, but I think you two would work fine together."

"Bro, I'm still here..." Okuyasu mumbled, almost hurt.

Everyone heard a loud shuffling sound coming from a floor above their heads. Okuyasu looked mildly worried while Keicho seemed annoyed.

"What was that?" Fubuki asked.

"Oh, don't worry, it's just the cat!" Okuyasu replied. Even though he's smirking, Fubuki could tell he was lying.

Keicho ignored him. "Now that we're all here together, I have some troubling news... Anjuro Katagiri has been defeated."

Okuyasu is shocked while Fubuki didn't react.

"Who got him?" Okuyasu asked.

"Some punk named Josuke Higashikata," Keicho answered. "He's a Stand user I do not know... but our new friend Fubuki does."

Okuyasu looked at Fubuki and then his older brother.

"What does that even mean?" Okuyasu asked, confused. "Are you saying he didn't become a Stand user from your Arrow?"

"Indeed," Keicho. "He should be dealt with as soon as possible before he interferes with our plan once again. Care you tell us a bit about Josuke's Stand, Fubuki? You're still one of us, aren't you?"

Fubuki could feel their stares on him.

"Josuke's Stand can fix anything that's broken," he answered. "But if he's angry, there's no guarantee the object will take back its original form."

"Wow, that's neat!" Okuyasu said, impressed. He saw Keicho giving a dirty look and he quickly changed his mind. "I mean, it SOUNDS neat, but it doesn't seem that strong like my Big Bro's Stand."

"Don't underestimate Josuke," Fubuki said. "Its strength and speed are immense, it could even outmatch my own Stand in a fight..."

Okuyasu gulped. "Is he really that strong?"

"We are stronger than him," Keicho insisted.

"Ha, that's true! That's for sure, isn't it?"

"There's also another Stand user who came to town and helped Josuke defeated Angelo," Fubuki added. "His name is Jotaro Kujo and apparently he's a relative. His Stand seemed strong too and its power, I believe... can stop time for one or two seconds."


On the night after they both left Josuke's home, Jotaro disclosed the secret of Star Platinum's power to Fubuki.

"I figured it'd be something like that," Fubuki said, rubbing his chin. "When you reappeared behind Josuke yesterday, I knew it wasn't like super speed or an illusion. Stopping time... what a terrifying power."

"Star Platinum didn't come with that ability originally," Jotaro told him. "I had to develop it when I fought Dio..."

"The vampire? I'm still trying to wrap my head around it."

"As I was saying, you can tell this to Josuke if you want, but this power can't be leaked out to anyone."


"No way..." Okuyasu said.

"It looks like both Josuke and Jotaro might get in the way of my plan," Keicho said. "It would be troublesome to go after them both."

"If I were you, I'd wipe out Josuke first," Fubuki said in a cold tone. He wandered off to wipe some dust off from a piece of furniture. "Jotaro poses more threat, but ambushing him shouldn't be a problem."

"I like the way you think," Keicho smirked.

Okuyasu became visibly jealous at how Fubuki is being praised. Scratching sounds are heard upstairs, and something heavy fell on the floor. Keicho seemed to lost his patience and began ascending up the stairs.

"Excuse me, I have to go... punish... the cat," he said in a stiff voice. "Come by again tomorrow, Fubuki. I need your brain for ideas for the plan."

After Keicho left, Okuyasu turned to Fubuki and put on a cocky air.

"My big bro made you a Stand user, huh?" he said. "I thought you were going to be some chick because of your girly name."

Fubuki just looked at him, wondering if he should be intimidated by this guy.

"So, uh... are you in a lower grade than me, or higher?" Okuyasu asked, checking out Fubuki's school uniform. He pulled out a Math textbook from his pocket and opened up a random page. "I bet you're not smart, can you solve this?"

Fubuki glanced at the problem:

If f(x) = 4x3 - 4x2 + 10, then f(-2) = ?

Fubuki used a pen to write down the solution on the page:

f(-2) = 4(-2)3 – 4(-2)2 + 10
= 4(-8) - 4(4) + 10 = - 32 - 16 + 10 = -38

Okuyasu is taken aback by the correct answer and then he glared at Fubuki.

"Fubuki, you wise guy," he said, his face inches away from Fubuki's. "Let me make this clear, my big brother's the boss, so that makes me second-in-command. So, don't screw me around."

"Dim light bulbs need to be screwed in properly," Fubuki mocked him.

"Are you trying to make me look an idiot?"

"You don't need any help from me."

"Exactly!"

As Fubuki smugly walks away, Okuyasu realizes what he just said.

"… Damn it, he got me again!"

*&*&*

The next day at the Morioh Grand Hotel, Jotaro is making an important phone call.

"Yeah, we've taken care of Angelo for good," he said. "But it would be a while until I'm back."

He heard coughing from the other end of the line.

"I see," Joseph Joestar's voice spoke. He sounds weak and tired.

"Daddy, can I talk to Grandpa Joseph now?" Irene begged.

She's clinging to her father's coat, eagerly wanting to hear her great-grandfather. Jotaro told her to be a little more patient.

"About that other photo we've been looking into," he said on the phone. "If you would please sent it over to me."

"You mean...?"

"That's right. From Egypt. The one the Speedwagon Foundation found ten years ago. I think I might have figured out."

"I'll fax it to you immediately," Joseph said. "By the way, Jotaro... Hitomi is here right now. Do you want to speak to her?"

"No," Jotaro frowned. "Anyways, Irene wants to talk to you. Later, Gramps... He's all yours, Irene."

"Yaaay!" Irene cheerfully grabbed the phone from him. "Hi, Grandpa~!"

While Irene is chatting with Joseph, Jotaro received a copy of a photograph from the fax machine. It contained an image of an old enemy named Enya wielding an ancient Bow and Arrow that fit Angelo's description.

He always wondered how Dio was able to get his Stand and this was the answer he was looking for. This must be how Dio and Enya were able to recruit so many assassins and servants back in 1988. After Enya died, her Bow and Arrow went missing. Jotaro recalled another arrow found in Dio's mansion, but it is currently in the possession of his old friend Jean-Pierre Polnareff. However, Jotaro could not reach the Frenchman, so he'll have to focus on the Bow and Arrow for now. He had to destroy them before they create another powerful and dangerous Stand like Dio's The World.

Jotaro is about to head out and find Josuke, but Irene stopped him.

"You said we could go to the beach today!" she whined.

"I'm working right now," Jotaro told her. "I'll be back as soon as possible, and then we'll go."

"What should I do then?"

"Read a book, watch a movie, play with your stuffed beluga whale, or pester the hotel staff. Actually, don't do that last part."

"I don't want to do those things," Irene said stubbornly. "I wanna go to the beach!"

Jotaro pinched the bridge of his nose, he could sense a tantrum rising. He handed a piece of paper and pencil to her.

"Alright, I'll let you go," Jotaro said. "You can play explorer."

"What should I do?" Irene asked excitedly.

"Count all the seashells you can find and separate them by different shapes."

"Can I go swimming?"

"You're not allowed to swim without me. Don't go too far, and if a stranger tries to talk to you, go back to the hotel immediately. Okay?"

"Okay."

Jotaro hated leaving her alone like this, but he did not want to get her too involved with Stands. He was about to leave but Irene held her arms open, expecting a hug. He knelt down so he could hug her. Irene smiled and nuzzled her face against his cheek.

*&*&*

It's been two days since he last saw Fubuki at his grandfather's funeral and Josuke wondered what his old friend is up to. His mother staying at her friend's place for the moment, which is good for her. Meanwhile, he got a little overwhelmed by his classmates and his teachers constantly giving their condolences. Lucky for him, he found a peaceful break from all of that in the form of Koichi.

The two schoolboys are walking home together. Josuke liked how polite and easy-going Koichi is, even if he is a bit meek sometimes.

Koichi is telling Josuke about the latest city report and how the number of missing persons reported in Morioh has risen to 81 in 1999 so far, with 45 of them being children. Even if some of them ran away from home, the number is still 7 to 8 times higher than the national average.

"It's outrageous, and it really bothers me," Koichi said.

"You and Fubuki should get together and talk about it," Josuke said. He seemed to be feeling better since his grandfather's death. "He's fascinated about topics like this, it's no wonder he's such a grim guy."

The two of them passed by an ugly, but familiar stone.

"Yo, Angelo!" Josuke greeted the stone.

Koichi stopped and looked at the stone. Has it always been here? Still, he felt compelled to imitate Josuke.

"Yo, Angelo," he said before catching up to Josuke. For a moment, he thought he heard the rock grumble. "Josuke, I've been meaning to ask, what happened to Mr. Jotaro?"

"Oh, he said there's some stuff he needed to look into, so he's still the Grand Hotel," Josuke replied.

"Hmm..." Koichi nodded in understanding. "By the way, do you know what's up with Fubuki? He seemed to be avoiding us at school for two days."

"That's Fubuki to you..." Josuke muttered, suddenly bitter. "I wouldn't worry about him. He's probably taking extra classes as we speak."

*&*&*

Fubuki covered his nose as he sneezed. Around the same time Josuke and Koichi are walking home from school, he is inside the Nijimura house (which originally was his' house nine years ago) cleaning the dust from the floors and walls.

"That stupid bastard Okuyasu, making me clean up the place..." Fubuki grumbled. "I'm lucky I haven't come across any dead rats yet."

He had rolled up his sleeves and tied back his hair into a low ponytail. He is using Purple Rain and a bucket of water to clean up the old piano room, which held many memories for him. A dusty piano is sitting slanted in the middle of the room; one of its legs has been broken and it lay untouched for years. Fubuki wondered if the old thing can still play.

He crouched down and carefully pressed a few keys. He was able to produce soft musical notes.

"You got some kind of talent?"

Fubuki looked up to see Keicho. He is holding a candle with him.

"Yeah, I play the piano..." Fubuki replied. "What about you?"

"Never had time to pick up an instrument, or tried out a sport," Keicho said. "Strange, huh?"

Fubuki shrugged his shoulders. As he cleaned the piano, Keicho changed the subject.

"How much do you care about Josuke Higashikata, Fubuki?" 

"… Why do you need to know?" Fubuki asked.

"Because I want your complete loyalty to me when it's time to eliminate him. I know you were there on the night Angelo was defeated. Why did you interfere with Angelo?"

Fubuki already has an answer for him. "It's because Angelo was causing too much attention, it's the reason why Jotaro Kujo came to town. Had Angelo left Josuke alone, he would've still been walking free."

"You got a point, he has a habit of blaming on people and targeting them out of pettiness," Keicho said. "However, we still lost a comrade... and I haven't fully trust you yet. If you want to stay on the team, you'll do what I say."

Keicho left the room. Fubuki threw a cold glare at his direction. He has to play along with Keicho if he has to retrieve the Bow and Arrow.

Even though he is out of practice, Fubuki started playing a short tune on the piano, unaware the music is being carried outside.

Koichi stopped walking when he heard faint piano music playing. He looked up to the seemingly abandoned house. He noticed someone is looking at him from one of the windows.

"Hey, Josuke," Koichi spoke up. "I could be wrong, but hasn't this house been abandoned for the last 3 to 4 years now?"

Josuke looked up to the building. Koichi noticed the person has already disappeared from the window.

"Yeah, I doubt anyone would wanna buy this eyesore," Josuke replied. "This is where Fubuki used to live."

"W-wait, really?" Koichi asked.

"Yeah, I forgot to tell you, but we used to be neighbors until he and his parents moved out of town. I've blocked this place out of my memory since then... It'd be better off bulldozing this house and starting over."

"But didn't you hear that piano music playing earlier?" Koichi asked. "It stopped now, but..."

Inside the house and on the second floor, Fubuki heard their voices and he peeked outside through the wooden boards. He watched as Koichi peered his head through the iron gate.

"How peculiar..." Koichi said. "Maybe it's a ghost."

"C-cut it out with crap like that!" Josuke said nervously. "I'm really scared of ghosts and I live right over there."

Okuyasu appeared out of nowhere and slammed the gate on Koichi's neck. Koichi cried and choked in pain, which alerted Josuke.

"Try keeping your nose out of other people's business, you little brat!" Okuyasu said.

"Hey, asshole! What's your problem?!" Josuke yelled at him. "Are you crazy or something, let him go!"

"Oh, no..." Fubuki groaned from his hiding place, running a hand over his face. "Why are you here now?"

"My pop bought this house, which means I'm not gonna let you snoop around here," Okuyasu said. "You get what I'm saying?"

"I don't give a rat's ass about your family, I'm telling you to let go of my friend," Josuke demanded. "You really don't want me to get ticked off."

Suddenly, an Arrow came flying and it pierced Koichi in the neck, much to everyone's shock.

"What the--?!" Josuke cried.

"Hey, Bro!" Okuyasu called. "What was that for?"

Fubuki gasped and he turned to see Keicho nearby. He had the Bow with him and he's looking down at his younger brother.

"Interested as to why I shot him with the Arrow?" Keicho asked. "Because that goon with him is Josuke Higashikata."

"Really...?" Okuyasu turned to Josuke as his Stand aura glow around him. "So, it's you."

"That arrow you shot... are you guys Stand users?!" Josuke yelled.

"Okuyasu, make Josuke Higashikata disappear!" Keicho ordered.

The gate opened and Koichi fell on the ground. However, he started twitching and bleeding out. Fubuki could only stare in horror as rage boiled up inside him.

"I had hopes he'd turned into a Stand user," Keicho said, almost disappointed. "But alas, it was all for naught. That boy is a goner."

"He can't...!"

Josuke was about to rush in to help him but Okuyasu blocked his way. Meanwhile, Fubuki turned to Keicho.

"That wasn't our plan, Keicho," he said angrily. "I was supposed to be the bait to lure Josuke here."

"I decided to change the plan for a bit," Keicho said. "You will still do your part and the result will still be the same in the end."

You piece of scum... Fubuki is fuming in the inside while he continued watching the fight outside. Just you wait, you'll be getting what's coming to you soon.

"Out of my way!" Josuke shouted at Okuyasu. "I can still heal him with Crazy Diamond's power!"

"Too bad," Okuyasu smirked.

The punk revealed his own Stand: a blue-and-white humanoid figure in an attire similar to football pads with several spikes jutting from them. A towel-like object draped over its shoulders with a dollar and yen symbols on the ends. On each side of the Stand's face are blinders that cover its headlight-shaped eyes. Its right hand has spiderweb-like lines on the inside, along with two bumps on its palm.

"Josuke Higashikata! I, Okuyasu Nijimura, will make vanish you with my Stand, The Hand!" Okuyasu declared, feeling cocky.

Fubuki watched as Josuke and Okuyasu face other. The Hand made its first move, but Crazy Diamond appeared and punched the Stand in the face, resulting Okuyasu to bleed from the mouth.

"Okuyasu," Keicho called out. "Using a Stand is like riding a bicycle. Any bumbling half-wit can ride one, but if they don't know what they are doing, they will maneuver badly no matter how powerful the Stand is."

"Hey, Bro, don't talk bad about me now," Okuyasu said. "This guy's attack is just incredibly fast."

"LET ME REMIND YOU THAT THIS ISN'T A GAME, OKUYASU!" Keicho snapped. "The mere thought of your Stand, The Hand, brings chills down my spine. Pull yourself together and don't make me regret shooting you!"

While Okuyasu is busy talking to his older brother, Josuke nonchalantly walked around him. Okuyasu finally noticed him.

"H-hey! I was talking to my big bro back there! That wasn't fair!" Okuyasu yelled.

"Wow, dude," Josuke said. "You're not too bright, are you?

Fubuki covered his chuckle but Keicho heard him. Before Okuyasu can act or think, he was sent flying by Crazy Diamond's punch. Josuke went over to Koichi and checked his pulse. Before he could heal Koichi, Okuyasu is back on his feet and rushed at him.

The Hand was about to swipe its right hand when Crazy Diamond caught it. Josuke is surprised by the incredibly strength coming from the right hand and he realized The Hand might have some abilities that he is not aware of yet. Crazy Diamond was forced to let go of the right hand when Okuyasu's Stand kept hitting it with its legs.

Josuke and Crazy Diamond moved out of the way just as the Hand swiped at the "No Entry" sign. Josuke noticed the sign on the gate is different now; it now read just "Entry". The "No" word is missing for some reason. He has a bad feeling that he should not let The Hand touch him.

"Why are you backing off, you prick?" Okuyasu demanded, spitting blood from his mouth. "Didn't you want to save your pal? Come and face me!"

"I finally get it," Josuke said. "Your hand didn't make a part of that sign disappear. It cuts out space in mid-air! That's your Stand's ability, isn't it?!"

"Bingo, Josuke Higashikata!" Okuyasu smirked. "My Stand's right hand can make whatever it grabs disappear! The edges of the erased space will then join together to restore the gap! But as for the parts that are cut off... even I don't know where they end up!"

What a surprise... that dumbass has a terrifying ability, Fubuki thought, now sweating. He could take out Jotaro if he uses The Hand to its maximum potential... But even the most powerful Stand should have limits, and Okuyasu has already signed his defeat.

"Even if you want to escape, I have ways of dealing with that too!" Okuyasu shouted.

The Hand swiped down and cut the space between Josuke and Okuyasu. Josuke is suddenly teleported right in front the Stand's attack. Okuyasu punched Josuke in the face, sending him back. The Hand erased the space between the two students and the process is repeated over and over again.

Fubuki was about to say something but Keicho is already gone. He thought about going down to stop the fight, but he knew it will anger Keicho. Not to mention, he will lose this only chance to get the Bow and Arrow.

Don't die, Josuke... Fubuki said in silence. Just... give up and leave while you're still alive.

Josuke got punched in the face over and over until he made himself back up against a wall. Okuyasu grew annoyed by Josuke's stubbornness so The Hand teleported Josuke to him once more. But before The Hand can erase Josuke forever, Okuyasu is knocked out by several flowerpots.

What exactly happened is Josuke was able to defeat Okuyasu by using The Hand's power against Okuyasu by standing in front of some flowerpots. The flowerpots were attracted to Okuyasu due to the repeated usage of The Hand's ability.

"Thank god, you're stupid," Josuke exhaled in relief. "He's gonna be a pain in the ass when he wakes up and tries to attack me again. I guess I can draw out his nap with some gentle asphyxiation..."

Josuke crouched and wrapped his hands around Okuyasu's neck. Before he could put the sting of defeat in him, Josuke noticed Koichi's body is gone and there is a trail of blood going inside the house. Okuyasu's big brother must have dragged Koichi inside during the fight.

This is too much for Josuke so he angrily left Okuyasu and made his way inside the Nijimura house. In the main hall, he found a tall young man standing over Koichi's body. The Arrow is still stuck to Koichi's neck.

"This Arrow is irreplaceable... there's only one, you know," Keicho told Josuke as he grabbed the arrow. "It's essential to my mission, and losing it is not an option."

"Leave that Arrow alone!" Josuke yelled. "He'll bleed out if you keep it up!"

"… My brother's too incompetent," Keicho said. "I guess it's just the two of us now."

"Two of us?" You mean, there's someone else here?" Josuke asked.

"Nothing personal, but I had to bring him in. I can't let people see him and call the police," Keicho continued, talking about Koichi's body. "It would be careless of me to not to take care of the body before I move on to the next. I mean, what should one do when one is finished listening to a CD? You have to put it back in its case before you put in new one... Cleaning up after yourself is something everyone else does, including me."

Keicho then ripped the Arrow from Koichi's throat, and blood spurted out from the boy's mouth. Enraged, Josuke ran inside.

"So you decided to enter our abode?" Keicho smiled evilly.

"No shit, Sherlock!" Josuke snapped. "If I didn't, how could I heal Koichi?!"

Okuyasu, awake again, suddenly appeared at the doorway.

"Brother! Don't count me out yet!" he shouted. He barged in after Josuke. "Don't start your attack on this guy without me! This fight is just getting started!"

Josuke's eyes widened. Attack?

He spotted something glinting from the dark, it is somewhere on the ceiling behind Keicho. Josuke had no time to figure out what it was; he dodged out of the way just as Okuyasu is quickly shot in the face by many tiny bullets. Okuyasu then fell on the floor while Josuke is horrified.

"Okuyasu... Your stupidity never ceases to amaze me," Keicho growled. "If you hadn't shown up, my Bad Company would have already destroyed Josuke. And what's more, you walked right into the line of fire."

A bloody-faced Okuyasu groaned. "Bro... I'm sorry..."

"Your Stand, The Hand, may be menacing, but you are worthless. Incompetent people will only drag others down. I've told you over and over since we were kids."

Behind the corner, Fubuki is silently watching the fight. He looked completely calm on the surface, but a storm is brewing inside him. He already knew Keicho is ruthless, but to be that unapologetic to his own family...

A confused Josuke wondered what kind of attack caused the wounds on Okuyasu's face. However, he noticed the situation is about to get rough. Bad Company, the name of a hidden Stand, continued firing holes into objects. Crazy Diamond broke down a wall and Josuke dragged Okuyasu outside, barely dodging the bullets. The wall restored itself just as the bullets riddled it with small holes.

"Josuke Higashikata... no matter how dire the situation is, he would never abandon this brat," Keicho states, standing up. "That's true, isn't it... Fubuki Kurosawa?"

Fubuki appeared, adjusting his eyeglasses.

"That is correct, it's always been his nature," he said calmly.

"Make yourself useful and help me carry this body up the stairs."

Fubuki is happy to oblige. It pains him to see Koichi's body being dragged like this; Koichi should not have been involved in this mess and now he's at death's door. Fubuki grabbed Koichi's arms while Keicho took the legs. As they ascend up the stairs, carrying Koichi, Fubuki spoke up.

"Why did you do that?" he asked. "I thought he's your brother."

"I've given up on him already," Keicho replied in a harsh tone. "He's of no use to me at all. People who don't grow, don't deserve to live."

"… You sound just like my mother," Fubuki muttered.

Keicho is mildly surprised to hear this but he chuckled a little. "What a charming woman then."

"You've just only angered Josuke more. He'll definitely come back."

"Then he better. I'll kill anyone who gets in the way of this Bow and Arrow. No matter who it is."

Outside, Josuke panted and winced as his left hand bleeds. It hurts a lot for him, but he had to go back inside to retrieve Koichi and kick Keicho's ass.

"Ugh, hey... what's your brother's Stand?" Josuke asked Okuyasu, grabbing the front of his jacket. "And who else is inside the house? Spill it and I'll heal those wounds."

"Like hell, I would..." Okuyasu groaned. "He's... my brother..."

"You won't say, huh," Josuke sighed. "Well then... I guess I have no choice."

He summoned Crazy Diamond. From Okuyasu's point of view, the Stand looked like it was about to finish him off with a karate chop but it healed all of his wounds, even cleaning up his blood.

Okuyasu blinked and sat up, confused, while Josuke stood up.

"Now, don't try and stop me," Josuke said, pointing his thumb at the house. "Koichi doesn't have much time, so I have to move quickly."

Josuke cautiously returned to the house. He peered inside and saw Keicho is gone. He must have taken Koichi with him. Going inside this house when Keicho's mysterious Stand can somewhere in the dark is a bad idea for him, but he can't back out now.

"Hey, wait!" Okuyasu demanded in a loud voice behind him. "Why did you heal my wounds, Josuke?! I'm still your enemy!"

"Are you serious?" Josuke frowned. "You still want to fight me?"

"That depends on how you answer my question! Why the hell did you heal me?! I'm having a hard time piecing things together, so hurry up and tell me!" Okuyasu pointed a finger at Josuke's wounded left hand. "And what happened to that? Did my brother do that to you while you were dragging me out? This doesn't make any sense... Why did you go through so much trouble to try and save me?"

Josuke looked at him, wondering how someone so simple-minded still doesn't see the answer is simple.

"I don't have a reason... I just don't want anyone to die," he answered.

Okuyasu stared at him, still flabbergasted.

Josuke crept inside the house, keeping his eyes and ears open for any attack. He followed blood trail left by Koichi, and it is leading up to the second floor. Before Josuke can move any further, a bucket of dirty soap water came tumbling down the stairs, spilling water all over the stairs and floor.

"What... was that?" Josuke wondered out loud. "That maniac doesn't look like a guy who likes cheap jokes. Maybe it's the other guy he mentioned..."

Josuke turned the corner and found someone up the stairs. His heart skipped a bit.

Standing on top of the stairs is Fubuki, rolling down his sleeves and releasing his long, glossy hair from the low ponytail. His eyes glinted like icicles. With his arms crossed coolly, he stared down at Josuke. Neither of them look too happy to see each other.

"Josuke... it's been a while, isn't it?" Fubuki spoke. His entire body began to emit a purple-colored Stand aura. "How long has it been... since you visited my old place?"

"You have got to be shitting me," Josuke said.

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: Fubuki's Purple Rain

In the year 1990, seven-year-old Josuke arrived at the home of the Kurosawa family. It was in the middle of the afternoon and he could hear piano music playing from the second floor. He knew instantly that Fubuki is home.

He went through the gate and he knocked on the door.

From the piano room, Fubuki stopped playing when he heard Josuke calling out his name.

"Fubucchan, do you want to go for ice-cream?" Josuke asked loudly.

Fubuki could use a break, his fingers are sore and bruised. He had been playing for over an hour. However, he knew his mother wouldn't let him go until he improved. And yet...

Back outside, Josuke knocked on the door again. He did not have to wait for long when the door was opened by Fubuki's mother, Setsuna Kurosawa. She is very beautiful but her eyes are stern and cold.

"Can Fubucchan come out and play?" Josuke asked sweetly.

Mrs. Kurosawa crossed her arms and looked at the little boy with an annoyed expression on her face.

"I'm sorry, but Fubuki can't come out until he learns how to play Beethoven's Ode to Joy very well," she replied.

Josuke raised an eyebrow. "I thought he's doing okay!"

"Well, of course, a simple boy such as yourself wouldn't notice it..."

The two of them notice the piano music had stopped playing for at least five minutes. Mrs. Kurosawa turned her head.

"PLAY IT AGAIN!" she yelled. "I told you can't have a break yet!"

Josuke flinched. Fubuki's mother is rather scary when she yells. The music began to play again and Mrs. Kurosawa turned to Josuke.

"As you can see, Fubuki can't go out and play today," she said.

"Will he play tomorrow then?"

She moved closer and lowered her voice, shooting a threatening glare at him.

"It's gonna be harsh for you to hear, but he doesn't have time to run around and play games. He has an important future to think of, so he can't be distracted by anything trivial... You understand, don't you? I'm sure you have other friends you can play with it, right?"

Josuke doesn't understand why she's telling him this, but he is hurt by her words.

"I guess so..." he mumbled.

"Good! Then you don't need to bother Fubuki. Good-bye."

Mrs. Kurosawa closed the door.

"… Okay," Josuke sighed sadly.

Josuke turned around and slowly walked away as the piano music continued playing from the second floor. He was about to go home when he heard a low "psst!" sound.

"Josukkun!"

The boy turned around to see Fubuki climbing over the wall and jumping down. He had sneaked out while his mother wasn't looking. He even brought a fanny pack with him.

Josuke beamed. "Fubucchan! Wait, if you're here... then who's playing the piano in your house?"

Fubuki adjusted his thick-framed glasses but he is smirking.

"Elementary. I used a recorder to record myself playing the piano," Fubuki explained. "Then I played the recorder and I sneaked out from the back, while you were talking with my mother."

"That's so cool! But wouldn't your mom get angry once she finds out you tricked her?"

"Yeah, but I'm not going to worry about it now." Fubuki grabbed Josuke's hand. "Come on, let's go before she realizes I'm gone."

Josuke and Fubuki ran off together, hand-in-hand. The first thing they did was buying two ice-cream cones together and competing who can skip stones farther a stream. Afterward, Josuke suggested they go swimming in the same stream. Fubuki tried to protest and made excuses that there could be disgusting bacteria in the water, but Josuke just shoved him into the stream.

Fubuki doesn't have it in his heart to be mad at Josuke. After dropping his fanny pack on the bank, the two boys splashed around in the water in their clothes. Fubuki caught a slimy frog and dropped it down in the back of Josuke's shirt.

Fubuki had never seen a 7-year-old boy screamed so high like a girl and jumped out of the stream so fast.

After drying their clothes, Fubuki followed Josuke to the latter's home. On the way, they passed by a freshly poured cement filling on the sidewalk. Being a mischevious kid, Josuke placed a handprint on the wet cement.

"… What are you doing?" Fubuki asked.

"I saw famous actors do this on TV!" Josuke said. "We can pretend to be Hollywood stars! Come on, try it out!"

Fubuki thought this was rather stupid but he placed his own handprint next to Josuke's. Josuke then grabbed a nearby stick and drew a heart around the handprints.

"Josukkun!" Fubuki blushed furiously. "You cheeky sneak!"

"That's revenge for sticking a frog down my shirt!" Josuke chuckled.

Josuke dropped the stick and ran away, still grinning, while Fubuki chased after him. As soon as he caught Josuke, Fubuki grappled him in a chokehold.

"Ack! M-mercy, Fubuki!" Josuke choked.

"Mercy is for cowards," Fubuki said in a mock, dark tone.

Their little game is interrupted by the sound of barking and a little girl calling for help. They followed the sound to the backyard of a random house. They saw a girl, around their age, with bold eyes and eyebrows being pinned down by a huge aggressive dog. Apparently, she tried to pet it but the dog attacked her.

"No! Bad dog!" Josuke yelled. He rushed in to help the girl before Fubuki could stop him.

Josuke, however, gets attacked by the dog instead. Fubuki tried to shoo the animal away but the dog attacked him as well.

Soon enough, the dog had enough and walked away The girl Josuke saved is already long gone. As for both Josuke and Fubuki... they're both alive, but they're covered in scrapes and bite marks.

In Josuke's bedroom at the Higashikata home, Fubuki treated Josuke's wounds using sterile bandages and antibiotic ointment he is carrying in his fanny pack. Josuke is wincing and complaining.

"Ow! It stings!" Josuke whined as the ointment is applied directly onto his arm. "I'm gonna die!"

"You're overreacting," Fubuki said. "This is nothing to cry about. Be a man."

"Being a man has nothing to do with it!" Josuke cried angrily. "If you got hit by a car, would you sit there and take it just 'to be a man'?!"

Fubuki rolled his eyes. After bandaging Josuke's arm, he took out a single cherry lollipop from his fanny pack.

"Here, Josukkun," Fubuki said. "You get a reward for being a good boy, even you acted like a big baby."

Josuke's eyes sparkled like stars.

"Woo-hoo! Sweet!" He unwrapped the lollipop and rolled it around with his tongue. "Rero~!"

"Now that you're fixed up, can you do the same-- h-huh?!"

Fubuki looked down at himself and saw the wounds he received from the angry stray dog were gone. Fubuki may not understand why, but Josuke understood. His Stand, who is kid-sized like him, was the one who healed him while Fubuki is taking care of Josuke. His Stand is always invisible to everyone else except to Josuke.

Later on, the two of them lay side-by-side on the floor. Both of them listening to music cassette from a Walkman, so they share the earbuds. They are also in the middle of a very important conversation.

"Alright... Mickey's a mouse, Donald's a duck, and Pluto's a dog," Josuke began. "So, what is Goofy?"

"Goofy is a dog too," Fubuki answered.

"He can't be a dog," Josuke argued. "He wears pants and a hat, while Pluto walks on all fours."

"That's easy to answer. Goofy is a domesticated dog while Pluto is a real dog."

Josuke just stared at the ceiling, utterly stunned at this implication. Fubuki checked the time on the clock on the wall.

"I guess it's almost time for me to go home..." Fubuki mumbled.

Josuke could tell he isn't excited to return home, especially since he's going to be in such big trouble with his mother. He remembered what Mrs. Kurosawa told him and he started sniffling.

Fubuki immediately noticed it. "What's the matter?"

"Nothing!" Josuke lied, smiling. "I think I'm catching a cold."

Fubuki doesn't buy his words. He then made himself lie down on top of Josuke's chest.

"Argh! Get off me!" Josuke pouted.

"I won't until you tell me what's wrong," Fubuki said, with a fake evil smile.

"Fubuki, you ass! You're gonna crush me!"

Josuke then tickled Fubuki's sides. Fubuki screamed with laughter and rolled off from Josuke. The two kids wrestled each other until it ends with Fubuki pinning Josuke to the floor as the victor.

"... You're my best friend," Josuke told him.

Fubuki smiled a little. "You're mine too."

The two boys have been close friends for three months now. When they started hanging out, Fubuki is quiet and detached. The other kids at their school didn't like him because he is smart on insufferable levels and often has a mean remark to say, even though most of the stuff he says were unintentional. However, Josuke discovered Fubuki has a secret fun side, and he was able to get him to open to him.

Fubuki then thought of something that has been bothering him for a while. He got off from Josuke and sat up.

"Josuke, how come you don't have any other friends?"

"Oh..." Josuke became embarrassed and he sat up as well. "The other kids say I'm a bit weird."

"What do you mean by 'weird'?"

"It's a secret, but I can't tell you."

Fubuki raised an eyebrow and he placed his hands on waist. "Why not?"

"… Because I'm afraid you'll be afraid."

"Why would I be afraid? We're friends, aren't we?"

"You promise you won't get scared?"

Fubuki crossed his heart. Josuke is relieved.

When he was a little younger, Josuke was more open with his Stand's powers and he would go out of his way to fix broken objects out of his desire to perform good deeds. One day at his school, he helped a random classmate at who received an injury from an accident; however, the same classmate got scared of Josuke's unknown power and told the rest of the classroom about the incident. Since that day, Josuke has earned "Josuke the Freak" and lost all of his friends. Josuke became introverted and lonely; he has been unable to make any new friends – that is until Fubuki came along.

Josuke became attached to Fubuki, and even though he puts on a cheerful smile, he is afraid of losing him if he ever tells him the truth about his 'invisible, pink friend'. However, Fubuki has already begun to notice something odd about the way his injuries are being healed...

"Okay! But I'll tell you on your birthday!" Josuke said excitedly. "It'll be a surprise!"

"Huuuh?! You rat!" Fubuki bonked his head. "Just tell me now!"

*&*&*

The truck finally halted but it was far too late to prevent the accident. The driver hurriedly called for an ambulance while Fubuki lay down in the middle of the road. His right leg is broken and bent in an unnatural way. It even has a bone sticking out through his skin. The sight of his blood and the excruciating pain is unbearable for Fubuki, but he clamped his mouth shut and forced himself not to cry.

The world around him is blurry. His glasses must have fallen off from his face when the truck hit him.

"Fubuki! FUBUKI!" Josuke cried.

"H-hang on, kid!" the truck driver said. "An ambulance is on its way now!"

"My... my glasses..." Fubuki whimpered. "I can't see..."

"Your glasses? I think it's around here."

While the driver is frantically looking around the road for the missing glasses. Josuke tried to help his friend.

"Ouch! D-Don't move me!" Fubuki panted. "You'll make it worse!"

Josuke stared at Fubuki's messed up leg. With tears in his eyes, he knew what to do. He summoned his Stand and it touched Fubuki's leg. It healed the leg very quickly and restored it back to normal.

Fubuki quickly noticed the pain has disappeared and his leg is fine.

"There! I fixed your leg!" Josuke exclaimed.

"Wh-what.." Fubuki stammered, confused. He touched his leg to check if it's true. "H-How did you do that? What did you do?!"

"You know that secret I was going to tell you? Well..." Josuke took a deep breath. "I have the power to fix broken things and I've been doing it for a while! Whenever you got a scrape, I healed when you weren't looking!"

Josuke rubbed the back of his neck, smiling sheepishly.

"It's... pretty cool, huh?"

However, Fubuki doesn't find this strange power amazing. It was something he has never experienced before, and a young smart kid like him couldn't comprehend. His shock has already been replaced by irrational confusion and fear.

*&*&*

The next several days were complete torture for Josuke. Fubuki stopped going to school for some reason and whenever Josuke tried to visit his home, Fubuki would not come out of to see him.

Josuke stood outside the house, looking up at the window of Fubuki's bedroom. He knew Fubuki is home and he wished his friend could tell him why he's avoiding him.

"Fubucchan, let's go out and play!" Josuke called. "I haven't seen you in a while, it's like you disappeared! … Do you want to go eat ice-cream?"

"Go away, Josuke!" Fubuki shouted from his bedroom. He did not even peek his head out through the window.

Josuke lowered his head.

"Okay, bye..."

Hiding behind the window, Fubuki quietly watched his friend and neighbor sadly walk away. He felt a little bad, but he remembered Josuke's weird power and he became disgusted.

The next day, Mrs. Kurosawa forced her son to attend school. Fubuki avoided Josuke's eager glances. During the lunch break, Fubuki scraped his knee while carrying books down the stairs. Josuke made the mistake of attempting to heal his wound.

"Get away from me, you freak," Fubuki said in a sharp, cold tone.

His words startled Josuke. He knew his friend can be a little mean, but it was nothing like this. Fubuki picked up all the books he dropped; his bleeding knee doesn't seem to faze him.

"C-come on, let me fix that..." Josuke stammered.

"Don't touch me," Fubuki hissed. "You have a lot of nerve to act like there's nothing wrong about you."

"I-I didn't mean to scare you..." Josuke sniffed. "I just wanted to help you."

"With what? Are you gonna use that weird power on me again? Why can't you be more normal like everyone else?"

Fubuki coldly turned around and walked away, leaving Josuke alone on the stairs.

*&*&*

Fubuki ignored Josuke for the rest of the day and headed straight home instead of stopping by at Josuke's house like he used to. Gray clouds rumbled over Morioh and it began to rain.

His parents have been setting up boxes to pack their belongings. Yesterday, they came to a decision that the whole family will be moving to S-City. There, Mrs. Kurosawa can send Fubuki to a better school while her husband can work at a university near his museum. In two weeks, they'll be moving out from Morioh.

In his bedroom, Fubuki hadn't started packing yet; he couldn't get the image of Josuke's hurt expression out of his mind. 

Why did I tell him that? He thought to himself, feeling sick and exhausted. Why did I have to open my big mouth and be such a jerk...

He could hear the rain pouring hard outside of his bedroom window. Fubuki's mind began to wander and he recalled the first time he met Josuke. 

At that moment, he heard someone calling his name.

"Fubuki!"

The bespectacled boy opened his window and saw Josuke standing outside of the house in the rain. He is wet from head to toe, but he did not care. His eyes are red—he had been crying.

"I'm sorry for using my power!" he cried. Snot roll down from his nostril. "I promise I won't do it again! Please, don't hate me! I want us to be friends again!"

Fubuki stared at him and his lips quivered. For many years to come, Fubuki would look back to this moment he regretted; he should have just admitted that he was wrong and cast away his pride, but a frost came over his heart and hardened it.

"You... what is wrong with you?!" Fubuki yelled at him. "Go home and stop bothering me!"

Josuke looked at him and his eyes glistened with fresh tears. Fubuki finally realized he was being an awful brat.

He was about to apologize when his mother appeared behind him. She shut the window and closed the curtains. She kneeled down and hold her son's shoulders.

"Everything is going to be fine," she told him. "You'll feel better once we move to our new home. Soon, you'll forget about this town and that boy."

Fubuki's eyes are lowered. "I... I have to say sorry to Josuke..."

"Sorry? You want to go out in that rain, ruin your nice clothes, and admit you were wrong to that parasite?"

Even though he just shut Josuke aside, Fubuki doesn't like his mother talk bad about him. Mrs. Kurosawa took his chin and raised his head so she can look at him. She lovingly brushed his hair away from his eyes, but there is no warmth to it.

"Listen closely, Fubuki, you didn't do anything wrong. In this family, showing weakness is a sign of vulnerability and imperfection," she told him. "Life is a contest with unfair rules, where only the winners can find happiness. Starting today... you have to find your own happiness, even if it means people like your 'friend' Josuke must remain at the bottom."

Even though he's carrying his father's name, Fubuki's mother is clearly the one in charge of the family. Fubuki always knew from day one that her word is law.

Fubuki could still hear Josuke begging and calling his name outside but his cries are soon drowned out by the rain. His heart hardened like ice once again, and at the same, he could also feel his chest and mind having their own personal rainstorms.

Two weeks passed and Fubuki moved out from Morioh with his parents. He never bothered to say good-bye to Josuke. Fubuki became cold and empty, he never made any new friends. His mother started working so Fubuki found himself living alone more often in their high-rise apartment, which often feels like tower isolated from the rest of the world. Fubuki kept himself busy with school and extra lessons, but he found himself getting lonelier; the pressure to do well in school and impress his mother, and the stress of losing his only friend, was too much for him.

One year after leaving Morioh, Fubuki was able to find new happiness in the form of his cousin Shinichi, the only son of his mother's brother, who was adopted by the Kurosawa family...


Fubuki, now a teenager, is staring down at his old childhood friend from the top of the stairs in his old house, which has been abandoned for years. Right now, he is ordered by Keicho to kill Josuke, while another classmate named Koichi is dying after being pierced by the Arrow.

"You have got to be shitting me," Josuke said. "You’re with HIM too?"

"I had no other options," Fubuki replied. "He awakened my Stand."

"You’re a Stand user now?" Josuke made a little sad smile. "But... it would have been nice if you were one nine years ago. So many misunderstandings could have been cleared up..."

Fubuki averted his eyes away.

"So, is Okuyasu's brother forcing you to fight me? You don’t have to listen to that smarmy bastard’s orders. Even though I haven’t seen your Stand yet, I could really use a back-up…" Josuke said. "Koichi is going to die if Crazy Diamond can’t heal him."

"I’m facing you right now and you think I would switch sides just because you asked?"

"Of course. We’re still friends after all."

Fubuki looked at him, astonished. He saw how genuine and since Josuke meant.

"Even after all the hurtful things I’ve said to you?" he asked.

"It’s all in the past, man! We were so close, we can be like that again. But first… I need to get to Koichi."

At first, Fubuki was about to accept Josuke’s offer, but then he remembered Keicho breaking into his father’s museum to steal the Bow and Arrow and created Angelo into a Stand user, as well causing more deaths… Even if he teams up with Josuke, Keicho would probably expect that and kill Koichi immediately.

"This is a thing I must do. Alone," Fubuki said coolly. "You already did a good job taking care of Angelo, you don't need to be here. I don’t want to fight you, Josuke, but if you make one step up this stairs… I won’t show mercy."

Josuke is taken aback by his words. His eyes are full of hurt for a moment until they flared with anger.

"What the hell is your problem?!" Josuke demanded. "Are you really going to let Koichi die?!"

"Do you always assume the worst in everyone?"

"Hey! You were the one who started it!" Josuke snapped. "You're very good at kicking people out!"

It was Fubuki's turn to be hurt. He then became angry like Josuke too, while trying to stay calm.

"This is who I always am," Fubuki reminded him. "You can think of me whatever you want, but I don't act like a child..."

"Oh, that's rich coming from YOU of all people, you dick!" Josuke yelled. "And I was willing to give us a fresh start!"

Nearby, Okuyasu is hiding while listening to the two teenagers shouting at each other. He is confused why are they behaving like this, even though they were supposed to be friends.

Josuke and Fubuki continued screaming at each other, unleashing years of buried resentment and bitterness towards each other. It was so bad that Okuyasu had to cover his ears to block them out.

Josuke had enough. If he had to beat up his 'so-called' old friend to save Koichi, then so be it. He ran up the stairs and he was about half-way through when Fubuki activated his Stand.

Earlier, Fubuki kicked down a bucket of water so he can cover the entire stairs in water. Purple Rain struck the stairs and the water puddles under Josuke's feet became slippery like oil.

Josuke fell and landed on his chin hard, before rolling down the stairs. When he hit the bottom, he landed on a bigger water puddle. Fubuki did not move from his spot at the top of the stairs.

"If you want to reach the second floor, you have to go through me," Fubuki said.

Josuke grimaced but he had no time to think of the pain.

"That's it... you asked for it!" he growled.

He was about to get up but the water under his body became so solid that it stuck him in place. He struggled to free himself and he caught a glimpse of the empty water bucket nearby, the same one Fubuki had kicked it down the stairs.

"That's Purple Rain's power," Fubuki told him calmly. He took out a small bottle of water from his pocket. "It can manipulate water, but I would need an existing source of water to use this power. If there's a large body of water nearby or if it rains, it gets stronger."

"So, it's similar to Angelo's Stand," Josuke muttered. "That's great..."

Fubuki became offended. However, he can't afford to lose his temper so easily again. He opened the water bottle and tossed it at Josuke. When the water came out, they became hardened into needles.

Quickly, Josuke freed himself using Crazy Diamond. His Stand then shattered the solid water-needles like they were made of glass. Josuke got back on his feet and decided to run up the dry banister of the stairs to avoid the wet spots.

Fubuki expected Josuke to do something like that and he already has another water bottle out. He poured the content out, after already thickening it into syrup. Purple Rain stretched out the syrup-like water and shaped it into a whip. Purple Rain crack the water-whip towards Josuke. Crazy Diamond punched the whip, restoring the water back to normal.

So, his Stand can counter mine, Fubuki thought. This is going to be a bit troublesome, but I'm not panicking. In fact, I feel calm... it's because I'm not going to lose.

The water splashed onto both Crazy Diamond and Josuke, who then realized he made a huge mistake. Purple Rain kicked the Stand in the side. It caused the water on both Josuke and Crazy Diamond's body to become tangible once more. Crazy Diamond tried to free itself, but Fubuki pulled out another water bottle and splashed it onto the Stand. Purple Rain quickly formed the water around Josuke and Crazy Diamond until they were both trapped in some kind of prison made of jelly-like consistency. Josuke couldn't move or breathe, but he can still see everything.

Fubuki looked at him and placed a hand on his waist.

"Are you happy now?" Fubuki asked. "This is what happens to idiots who try to rush into a fight without a plan."

Josuke, from inside the water prison, managed to make a sly smirk that shocked Fubuki.

Earlier, Josuke's Crazy Diamond touched the empty bucket that was lying on the floor. It had a huge dent in it since Fubuki kicked it. However, Crazy Diamond not only fixed it, but it made the spilled water return to the bucket... and it started flying back towards Fubuki at high speed. The bucket struck Fubuki in the head, knocking his eyeglasses out from his face.

"Argh! I can't see...!" Fubuki cried, squinting his eyes. He could feel the blood trickling down from his forehead.

The moment Fubuki dropped his guard, Crazy Diamond managed to break through the water-prison and grabbed Purple Rain by its throat. Fubuki found himself choking as well, and the water-prison released Josuke... who looked more pissed than before.

Josuke cracked his knuckles.

Crazy Diamond then proceeded to land multiple powerful punches into both Purple Rain and Fubuki, before throwing both of them down to the first floor. Fubuki painfully landed on his back and his Stand disappeared.

Fubuki lost this fight.

The boy then noticed that, even though he was beaten up and knocked down from the second floor, he didn't have any injuries anywhere on his body. He should have been bleeding or have broken bones.

He sat up, utterly baffled. Blurry-eyed, he looked up to Josuke, who is looking down at him from the stairs.

"Why...?" Fubuki asked quietly. "Why did you heal me?"

"… You still don't get it, don't you?" Josuke replied, panting. "You're still my old best friend..."

The pompadour-haired teenager groaned and tried to get to the top of the stairs.

"Now, I'm going to save Koichi... Just stay out of my way. If anything happens to him, I'll regret forgiving your pathetic ass..."

As soon as Josuke is gone, Fubuki lowered his head. He felt so ashamed, he can't even speak. Even though the two of them just fought like enemies, Josuke still went out of his way to make sure he's not hurt.

Fubuki did not know how long he just sat on the floor in his misery. He looked up when he heard Okuyasu approaching him. The latter had picked up his glasses and gave it back to him.

"I just helped that Josuke guy retrieve his friend," Okuyasu said, sweating nervously. "I only helped him because he treated my wounds."

Fubuki placed the glasses back on his face. One of the lenses has cracked a little, but he doesn't care.

Okuyasu spoke again, "Um... how do you feel?"

"I feel like crap," Fubuki answered. "But there's also this peaceful feeling? It's hard to explain..."

"That Josuke guy is going to get himself killed. He can't even heal his own wounds," Okuyasu said.

"Are you asking me to help him?"

"I don't care if you think I'm stupid, but I'm not gonna betray my big bro!" Okuyasu said. "But it'll suck if Josuke Higashikata dies!"

"This fight is between him and your brother." Fubuki then stood up and wiped the dust from his uniform. "Besides, I didn't join Keicho because I wanted to. I'm here to get back something important... which he stole."

Okuyasu is confused what Fubuki is talking about. Suddenly, the two of them heard gunshots firing from upstairs.

"That's Big Bro's Bad Company," Okuyasu gulped. "I guess this is where we must leave... I don't want to stick around to see my bro get beaten."

Okuyasu walked away. However, Fubuki is still look up to the second floor while listening to the sounds of fighting. He felt conflicted if he should betray Keicho sooner and help Josuke, or use this opportunity to find the Bow and Arrow.

He thought of the words his mother told him when he was younger: You have to find your own happiness, even if it means people like your 'friend' Josuke must remain at the bottom.

Before Fubuki can make his final decision, he noticed something from the corner of his eye. It looked like a white origami dove and it was sitting on the floor. He looked again but the origami dove is gone. Did he imagine seeing it?

He heard more gunshots followed by Koichi screaming in fear. Keicho must be going all out with his Stand. He wondered how much more wounds Josuke has received by now... 

Fubuki thought about his options again. 

He sucked in one deep breath and slowly walked up the stairs. Maybe this is where he can start finding his happiness. 

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7: The Nijimura Brothers, Part 2

After Okuyasu helped bring Koichi to him, Josuke used Crazy Diamond's healing ability to fix the wound on Koichi's neck and is relieved to find him still alive. Now, the two of them are under attack by Keicho's Stand called Bad Company, which takes on the form of a colony of toy-like miniature troops.

Josuke and Koichi tried to run away from the infantry who started shooting them. Even though the bullets are tiny, they are able to punch through Josuke's skin, creating small but deep bullet holes that hurt him. Their firepower can even devastate an entire door.

They were about to jump out a window when Josuke noticed Apache assault helicopters blocking his path. Josuke was so distracted by the helicopters when Koichi screams out,

"Watch your back! They got a tank!"

Josuke was almost hit by a miniature tank. Crazy Diamond deflected all the missiles and cannons from the miniature helicopters and tanks. After the dust is cleared, Josuke and Koichi are now back against a wall. Bad Company's army is aiming their guns at the two intruders, ready to open fire at any moment, but something what Koichi just said caught Josuke's attention.

"Do you wanna run that by one more time?" Josuke asked him. "Can you actually see the enemy, Koichi? The soldiers, tanks, helicopters... Can you see them all?"

From Koichi's perspective, he could clearly see a miniature army gradually appearing out from nowhere as though they were under some invisibility cloak. He was covered in sweat and he didn't understand what is going, but he nodded to Josuke's answer.

"The Arrow... since it didn't kill you, it must have given you a Stand!" Josuke said.

"Ohhh? So, the shrimp has one as well?" spoke Keicho.

Josuke and Koichi looked up to see Keicho standing behind Bad Company. He did not have the Bow and Arrow with him this time.

"He's finally got the power to use a Stand," Keicho said. He is smiling. "This certainly is a surprise."

"It's the man of the hour, Okuyasu's bro and Fubuki's boss," Josuke said sarcastically. He moved a hand behind his back to remove a couple of rusty nails from the wall. "This is a pretty ballsy move... to come out and show your face like that!"

Crazy Diamond threw the nails but Bad Company shot them down to protect Keicho.

"You can think of my Bad Company as a cast-iron defense," Keicho stated, crossing his arms. "It renders all attacks and intruders incapable of penetrating its shield. Your Crazy Diamond could never get anywhere close to my hair."

Keicho then gestured towards his miniature Stand army, almost as excited a small boy with his first Christmas gift.

"Look at my army in formation, isn't it beautiful? There's just nothing quite like having everything beautifully in place," he said. Then his tone shifts to irritation. "Though you did destroy a few of my soldiers, so my troop's formation is asymmetrical now. I'll pay you back for that."

"Did you really come out of your hiding spot to tell us all that?" Josuke asked, not interested.

"I came out here to observe the little pipsqueak," Keicho replied, pointing a finger at Koichi.

"Y-you mean me?" Koichi asked.

"Yes, you. I didn't know you have the potential to utilize a Stand after all. Show me your Stand right now," he ordered. "If today's my lucky day, you may just possess the ability I've been looking for. Show me your power... and I'll allow you to live."

Koichi just looked at him, confused.

"It's about time you tell us what ability is that," Josuke demanded. "What's your endgame?"

"I'LL BE THE ONE ASKING THE QUESTIONS HERE! DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR, JOSUKE?!" Keicho yelled. "Don't forget, you're still in my crosshairs! You should be thanking me for letting you live!"

This guy is nuts, Josuke thought.

"Let's go, pipsqueak! Get a move on!" Keicho ordered angrily.

Outside, Fubuki is analyzing the walls and ceiling, using Purple Rain to check the water pipes. He could hear Keicho shouting at Josuke and Koichi.

Back inside the room, Koichi could not bring out his Stand, even though Josuke properly explains to him the best he can in this tense situation. He was told to use his natural instinct, but it only confused Koichi even more.

Someone appeared at the doorway and everyone turned heads. It is Fubuki and he is gripping his right arm. His hair is messy after his fall and one of the lens in his eyeglasses is broken.

"Fubuki..." Josuke said, wondering why he showed up now.

"Well, well, you finally joined us," Keicho smiled. "I thought you deserted me as my idiot brother did. You're just in time to see Koichi about to materialize his Stand for the first time. Come over here and stand at my side."

However, Fubuki only walked over to where Josuke and Koichi is. Keicho looked like he's ready to wring the bespectacled teen's neck.

"What are you doing?!" he demanded.

"Something I should have done a long time ago," Fubuki answered. "These guys... are my comrades."

Josuke tried not to show it, but he couldn't help crack a tiny smile.

"Awww, you do care," he said.

"Be quiet, this is completely suicidal!" Fubuki hissed. His face is red with embarrassment.

Keicho is furious; he will kill Fubuki for this betrayal soon enough, but he is desperate to see Koichi's Stand first. He decided to help the short student... through his way.

A miniature Green Beret climbed onto Koichi and jabbed him in his cheek multiple times with a knife. Koichi screamed in terror. A glowing white egg with green stripes burst out from Koichi's neck and landed on the floor.

"… Koichi, did you just lay this egg?" Fubuki asked, almost flabbergasted.

Koichi did not answer, he was panting and shaking after releasing so much energy. The white-and-green egg just laid there on the floor, doing nothing. Keicho has an unreadable expression on his face.

"… Hey, try moving your Stand," Josuke said.

"What are you talking about?" Koichi asked, still exhausted and in pain. His eyes went wide when he saw the egg. "I made this thing?!"

"Yeah, I'll congratulate you later, but first we have to find out what this egg thing can do."

"What it can do?! I don't have any energy left! That was the best I could do!"

"The Stand isn't the egg itself," Fubuki said. "Look, it's about to hatch."

A crack began to appear on the egg. Keicho noticed it too, but he doesn't have the patience to wait around to see it.

"I've seen enough!" Keicho shouted. "All units! Get in battle formation!"

Bad Company aim their weapons at the trio.

"Koichi, withdraw your Stand!" Fubuki shouted urgently. "If it gets destroyed, you'll die!"

"I-I don't know how to do that!" Koichi screamed, now panicking.

"Light 'em up, men!"

Josuke has no choice but to kick the egg far away, which sent Koichi flying in the same direction. The soldiers, tanks, and helicopters fired their guns at both Josuke and Fubuki.

Purple Rain stepped in front of Crazy Diamond and created a barrier made out of water to shield both the Stands and their users. The bullets bounced off from the water much to Josuke's awe. However, Fubuki had only used up the remaining half of his water bottle, so the thin, stretched-out barrier is easily destroyed by a single missile. The explosive forced blew a hole in the wall behind Josuke and Fubuki and they were knocked into another room.

"Fubuki!" Josuke shouted while the dust cleared around them.

Fubuki groaned, weakly getting up. His glasses are completely broken but only his forehead is bleeding.

"I'm fine..." he panted. He looked around the room. "Hey, I think this used to be my father's study..."

"Looks like we have to give everything we got," Josuke said. "Otherwise, we'll have more holes than a cartoon cheese."

"Sadly, I don't have any more water bottles left on me..." Fubuki sighed. "That was the last one."

"Then get out of here. Take Koichi and escape."

"No, I can't," Fubuki said. His eyes shone with resolution. "Because I already saw that thing that will help us win."

Meanwhile, Keicho is staring at the hole in the wall.

Excellent, Koichi has been separated by those two, he thought. I saw that egg cracking just now... Maybe it's the one I'm looking for. Now, I just have to eliminate Josuke and Fubuki.

"Word to the wise, Sergeant Bro," Josuke huffed. He is now serious. "If you're trying to bring the roof of this dump down on our heads, then stop playing around."

"Excuse me. This 'dump' was my home," Fubuki snapped, feeling slightly insulted.

"Maybe you need better glasses then."

"That's enough chatter, you lovebirds," Keicho said, now moving closer to them. "Josuke Higashikata, is it true that you're really sensitive to insults about your hair?"

Josuke glared at him but he said nothing.

"So, it's true then. Not to worry, you won't have any hair left to be sensitive about," Keicho said. "First, I'll destroy your legs, so you can't escape. Then, I'll cripple your hands so you can't defend yourself. Then, finally, I'll blow your skull into oblivion."

"Wow, you really put a lot of time into that plan," Josuke smirked. "Too bad it's impossible."

"I've already told you how meticulous I am. When I declare something, I stick to it."

Behind Keicho, Koichi was about to attack the older boy but the latter noticed him. Keicho then simply elbowed him away, which provoked Josuke and got him to make the first move.

"Direct all firepower at Josuke Higashikata, and exterminate him!" Keicho shouted.

Fubuki scrambled out of the way since he cannot defend himself. Crazy Diamond deflected all the bullets with its rapid-fire punches the best it can. It redirected the bullets and they broke another wall, letting in some sunlight from outside. Bad Company kept on firing until a few of the soldiers brought out their bazookas. A few rockets managed to land hits on Crazy Diamond, injuring Josuke as well. Despite the injuries, Josuke continued moving towards Keicho, though very slowly.

"Hey, Sergeant Bro, you ever heard of the story where Moses parted the Red Sea right down the middle?" Josuke asked, grinning. "Because that's what I'm about to do to your pathetic army! Then I'm gonna beat you down!"

"Everything is going exactly as I predicted you fool!" he said. He is grinning too.

Josuke suddenly stepped on a landmine, which broke his leg. The helicopters shot their missiles. Crazy Diamond broke the first two missiles but the second pair of missiles hit its arm, which causes Josuke's left arm to break.

Josuke grimaced in pain and Fubuki thought he was going to die at any moment.

"Keicho Nijimura! If you fire one more time, you're going to regret that!" Fubuki shouted.

"You're in no position to tell me what to do, you traitor!" Keicho yelled. "Without any water source, your Stand's power is extremely limited!"

A helicopter fired another missile but Fubuki dodged out of the way as another wall exploded into dust. Meanwhile, Bad Company circled around Josuke and they are about to fire their guns when Josuke sat up in a sitting position.

Josuke's left arm and leg are soaked in blood. The left side of his face is also covered in his blood. Yet, he appeared calm.

"What are you doing, Josuke? Have you already accepted your fate?" Keicho asked. He made a victorious chuckle. "Or are you asking me to show you mercy?"

Josuke doesn't answer. He just stared at him. It doesn't matter for Keicho. Just as he was about to order the final command, Josuke finally opened his mouth.

"You should have listened to Fubuki," he said.

Keicho turned his head. The wall that one of his helicopters has destroyed has a hole, and inside it is a water pipe that has been busted by the missile and is now leaking a lot of water. Fubuki is smirking just as he summoned Purple Rain.

"Have you forgotten that I used to live here?" he said, adjusting his broken eyeglasses. "I remember where all the water pipes are, so it's just a matter of breaking down the walls."

Purple Rain released a wave of compacted water in the shape of a hardened drill, which washed away the soldiers and tanks and stuck them to the walls and floor.

Keicho is trembling with rage. He still has his Apache helicopters, but before he can do anything, Josuke launched his attack.

"Your strategy has already failed," he said.

Keicho then saw the two missiles that were broken by Crazy Diamond earlier are now restored... and they're aiming towards him. Keicho orders his remaining army to shoot them down but the missiles struck him and blew him up. The room trembled and dust is everywhere. Bad Company disappeared once their user has been defeated. Keicho is lying on the floor, covered in his blood.

"Did you forget my Stand could restore broken objects to their original form?" Josuke asked, smirking. "If you don't want to forget, you'd better write it down."

"Josuke!"

Koichi and Fubuki rushed over to him. Koichi is still shaking while Fubuki helped the wounded pompadour-haired teen up. Thankfully, Josuke can still walk despite his busted leg.

"What a dangerous guy," Fubuki said.

"Couldn't agree with you anymore, also..." Josuke cleared his throat. "Thanks for... you know, helping me out..."

Fubuki blushed. "You can thank me later after I patch up your wounds."

"Heh, you're right. Let's get out of here."

"But what about the Bow and Arrow?" Koichi asked. "Fubuki, you're with Keicho. Did you know where he kept it?"

"Unfortunately, I have no clue where they are either," Fubuki replied. "That's why I had to work with him in the first place—to get them back. However, he always kept it close to him."

"We should just hold off looking for the Arrow," Josuke said, holding his wounded arm. "I just remembered Okuyasu said their dad bought this place. He may still be around, and I'm in no shape to fight him."

"I don't think they have a father, otherwise I would have seen him," Fubuki said. "You and Koichi can leave. The Bow and Arrow belonged to my father's museum and Keicho stole them last year. It's my job to retrieve them."

"I-I want to look for them too!" Koichi said. He turned to Josuke. "Look, the only reason I'm alive right now is because you healed my wounds with your Stand. But think about it! If someone else gets shot by that Arrow, they could die!"

"Or if they're criminals like Angelo. They become a Stand user, and they use their new power to hurt more people," Fubuki added. "I admire your bravery, Koichi. Since I knew this house better than you, I'll help you."

"Thank you! Josuke... You can stay here and rest," Koichi said to Josuke. "Don't worry about us."

Fubuki led Koichi to another flight of stairs leading to the next floor. Josuke stood by himself, watching his friends ascend.

He may not look it, but Koichi has a lot of guts. At least when things get tough... but that won't mean a thing if we don't leave this place as fast as we can, he thought. And... I'm starting to understand more of Fubuki's actions...

*&*&*

Koichi and Fubuki paused at the mid-stage of the staircase.

"So, what's up there?" Koichi whispered nervously.

"The attic," Fubuki answered. "I forgot to tell you this, but I think something's up there. Every time I come here, I hear some scratching sounds."

Koichi became terrified. He jumped when Josuke touched his shoulder.

"Wh-what? Are you trying to stop me?" he squeaked.

"Not a chance," Josuke smiled. "We're gonna snap that Bow and Arrow and get out of this hellhole. Together."

Koichi smiled as well.

"No snapping!" Fubuki said. "I want to get them in one piece. Though, I'll agree with you with this place being a hellhole."

The three of them creep up the stairs, the wood creaking under their bodies. At the top of the stairs, they found a single door and it was left ajar. They could see the Bow and Arrow hanging on a wall. Before they could move any further, they heard a low, animal-like groaning and sounds of chains scraping the floor. Something is inside the room, and it does not sound like a human.

"D-do you think it's a dog?" Koichi gulped.

"I was told they have a cat..." Fubuki muttered.

"Well, it sure doesn't sound like a little kitten," Josuke said.

Koichi now seemed afraid to go inside the room. He turned to the boys taller than him.

"What are we supposed to do?" he asked.

"Why are you asking me? I voted to leave this house of horrors!" Josuke argued.

"I know, but--!"

"We'll use the element of surprise to our advantage," Fubuki said, with determination. "Once I kick the door open, I want you to grab the Bow and Arrow, Josuke."

"B-be careful," Koichi said.

The boys moved a little closer to the door. On the count of three, Fubuki was about to kick the door... when a monstrous hand grabbed his leg.

"What the hell is that?!" Josuke shouted.

"It got me!" Fubuki shrieked.

Fubuki was pulled into the room, but both Josuke and Koichi grabbed him just in time. Josuke's Crazy Diamond punched the unseen creature, cutting off its hand. Some of its foul-smelling parts landed on Fubuki's face.

"Uuugh, it stinks like rotten meat..." he groaned. "What was THAT for, Josuke?"

"I wasn't trying to sever it!" Josuke cried.

A stout creature scrambled to the other side of the room while remaining in the shadows. Everyone saw its arm began to regenerate a new hand, but it was gross that Koichi wanted to throw up.

The creature slowly moved closer to what little of the sunlight that broke through the boards on the windows.

It is a short, rotund creature with rough, blistered green skin, mismatched eyes, no ears, a squished nose, and puffy lips resembling a beak. It is wearing a sleeveless shirt along with shorts. Its odor is just as foul and disgusting as its horrible appearance. The three schoolboys held back their screams as the creature retrieve its cut-off hand, went back to its corner, and began gobbling it up.

"Hey, Fubuki, what the hell is that thing?" Josuke asked.

"I don't know, I've never seen it before..." Fubuki replied. "I can't believe such a thing exists."

"Gross..." Koichi groaned.

"So, you found him... that was never supposed to happen."

Josuke and his friends saw Keicho entering the room through another door. Even though he is wounded, he grabbed the Bow and Arrow off from the wall.

"It's a long story, but... he's our father," Keicho said, looking at the creature. "And right now, he needs these more than you. It's imperative that I find more Stand users for my father, so I can't hand it over to you... not even to you, Fubuki! Yes, I was already aware of why you joined me. Come at me if you want, I'll protect them until the bitter end!"

"Since you gave me permission, I'll gladly take your life," Fubuki said coldly.

"… Does your father have some kind of illness?" Josuke asked Keicho.

"Not at all," Keicho said while Nijimura Sr began digging through a wooden box and pulling out junk from it. "He's in excellent health, he even has a hearty appetite. But he doesn't know what's going on. He doesn't even know I'm his son..."

"I'm so sorry..." Koichi began, but Keicho cuts him off.

"Don't even pity him! He was stingy with money, and he was hated by everyone. He's a piece of scum who would even slap his own sons if they don't put away their belongings correctly. Well... he's got his punishment."

Josuke watched Nijimura Sr for a bit.

"So, you were looking for a Stand user to cure him," he said.

Keicho looked at Josuke as though he said something ridiculous. He chuckled, but there are streams of tears running down his face.

"It's the opposite," he said, his shoulders shaking. "I've been searching for a Stand that can kill my father, but at this point, I doubt it will ever happen... No matter what I do, my father will never die. Even if his head gets crushed, or his body gets chopped into pieces... or if we tried to erase him, he always regenerates."

Koichi is horrified, while Josuke and Fubuki just stood quietly, listening to Keicho's tale.

"I just want to end his suffering," Keicho continued. "As a kid, I swore everything in my power to make that happen. And because of that, I have to protect this Bow and Arrow. This all happened because some bastard named Dio decided to implant his cells in his skull and make my dad a monster!"

Josuke and Fubuki instantly recognize that name. It was the same name as some enemy from Jotaro's stories.

Keicho began his story, which started eleven years ago. It was the beginning of the end...


Keicho was seven-years-old in the year of 1988, while Okuyasu was four. The two brothers were living in Tokyo during the economic downturn. Their mother had died two years earlier and their father's business went under, buried under a mountain of debt. He would often beat his sons with little provocation.

*&*&*

A sharp slap left a red mark on Okuyasu's face and Keicho ran to hug his brother protectively.

"Haven't I told you time and again to clean up after yourself?!" Nijimura Sr screams were like thunder. "What did I do to deserve such an ungrateful son!"

"Leave him alone!" Keicho yelled back, while he's still holding onto Okuyasu. "I'll kill you!"

Nijimura Sr glowered at his two useless sons and stormed off. "You two can eat from the garbage tomorrow then!"

After he left, Keicho wiped his brother's tears.

"It's okay, I'm here..." he said softly.

"B-big brother, it hurts," Okuyasu sniffed.

"I know..."

*&*&*

Then one day, the family started getting mail containing a huge supply of money and precious gems. Their economic situation had turned around instantly. After some research, Keicho found out the truth: his father sold his soul to a man named Dio and became his lackey.

At that time, Dio was searching the world for Stand users, and Nijimura Sr had some potential. There was a time that Nijimura Sr had to leave home for a week to assassinate the Joestar Group, which included Jotaro and Josuke's father. However, Nijimura Sr came home as a failure and to this day, Keicho still doesn't know what kind of Stand his father had.

Then one day, ten years ago, Nijimura Sr started growing huge, ugly boils on his face. This was what Dio did when he didn't trust someone—he implants his cells in them. After a year Dio died, Nijimura Sr transformed into a monster and he could no longer speak.


Keicho walked a bit closer to his father, who is digging up scraps of paper he found in the box.

"Now he spends his days doing nothing but this," he said, frowning. "It's infuriating to watch. Day after day, he'd be uselessly scratching around that box of junk."

Keicho lost his temper and kicked his father in the side, hurting him.

"I told you over and over, stop making a mess!" he yelled. Nijimura Sr fell on the floor, gurgling in pain.

"Stop it! He's still your father!" Josuke demanded.

Keicho looked at him. "Yeah, you're right. This man is my father... but in blood only. But this detestable thing is not my father anymore. You don't know how it feels. All I want is to give him a normal, peaceful death. And by putting him out of his misery, I'll be able to live my life again."

Josuke and Koichi felt sympathetic to this broken young man. Fubuki, however, doesn't feel the same.

"Aww, boo-hoo, my father is a monster," he said mockingly.

Koichi gasped.

"I don't care if it's mean!" Fubuki said. He turned to Keicho. "Everyone's got family issues! But it's no excuse to kill people or turn criminals into Stand users."

"Fubuki..." Josuke began, trying to get him to be quiet.

"Josuke, this man is indirectly responsible for your grandfather's death and the deaths of everyone else because of Angelo. You're going to let him do what he wants?"

"Of course not!"

"He doesn't deserve to live free after this."

"I don't care if you're my judge, jury, and executioner," Keicho said to Fubuki. "I told you for the last time, I'm not handing the Bow and Arrow to anyone."

Keicho saw his father going through the box again and picking up scraps of paper. Infuriated, he was about to kick him again when Josuke punched the box with Crazy Diamond.

The scraps of paper inside restored into a single photograph of a family four sitting together and smiling. They look so happy. Nijimura Sr looked at the photo closely and he burst out sobbing. Keicho immediately recognized the picture and he was speechless. Even Fubuki was at lost for words.

"It's a picture of your family," Koichi said, realizing the truth. "He knew what he was doing, he hasn't been mindlessly rummaging that box for years... All along, he's been looking for a picture of his sons! Deep down, his memories are still intact!"

Keicho stood there, dumbfounded. Outside the room, Okuyasu has been listening to the conversation the entire time and he was silently crying to himself. Unlike his older brother, he never resented his father and what he had done. He just really wanted his family normal again.

"Give up on trying to find a Stand that kills," Josuke said. "Why not find one that can heal him? I'm willing to help you."

Koichi smiled at Josuke's kind offer but Fubuki is still in conflict with himself and his morals. However, Keicho just stepped away; he still doesn't want to give the Bow and Arrow.

At this moment, Okuyasu entered the room.

"Bro, please... enough is enough," he pleaded.

"Okuyasu," Keicho said.

"Come on, let's end this already," Okuyasu said, approaching him. He grabbed the bow. "There's a chance Dad could get better one day--"

"Okuyasu!" Keicho shouted. He lowered his voice, he sounds so tired and defeated. "No matter what I do, there's no way I can turn back! I've already killed so many people in this town with this Arrow!"

Okuyasu stared at him, so crushed by his brother's words.

"Gravity pulls everything together," Keicho told him. "I do not intend to defy that destiny."

"You're wrong," Josuke said. "Destiny can be changed, however you want it to."

"That's right, Bro," Okuyasu said. "Let's start over--"

"You are... no longer my little brother," Keicho interrupted him. For a brief moment, he seemed to regret his words.

Josuke noticed a mysterious shadow on the skylight above their heads. Someone is looking down at them!

"Is there anyone else living in this house?" Josuke asked.

Everyone looked up but the shadow is gone.

"No, it's just the three of us," Okuyasu said, confused. "Well, four if you count Fubuki, but he's not family..."

Sparks appear around a nearby electrical outlet and a yellow Stand came out. It resembled a short alien with a beak and a lizard-like tail. Its body is covered in a radiant electrical glow.

Everyone saw this new Stand, except for Okuyasu, who had his back to the outlet. Keicho realized his brother is in danger.

"OKUYASU!! GET OUT OF THERE, YOU IDIOT!" he shouted. He punched his brother away, who finally let go of the Bow and Arrow.

Unfortunately for Keicho, the new Stand punched a hole through Keicho's body.

"NO! BIG BRO!!" Okuyasu screamed.

He was about to run and help his brother but Fubuki held him back.

"That thing is releasing electricity!" Fubuki told him. "You'll get fried!"

"I'll be relieving you of this Bow and Arrow, Keicho Nijimura," the Stand said. "You still remember me, don't you? It was you who awakened my Stand!"

"You...!!" Keicho choked.

"Keicho Nijimura, 'Stands are a manifestation of the soul'... I've matured since you told me that!" the new Stand continued. "But you didn't expect my Stand, Red Hot Chili Pepper, to evolve this much!"

Keicho was about to call his Stand but Red Hot Chili Pepper transformed him, and the Bow and Arrow into electricity. Keicho screamed in pain as he was being dragged into the outlet. Josuke and the others could do nothing, otherwise, they'll be electrocuted as well.

"Brother!!" Okuyasu cried, trying to break from Fubuki's arms.

"Don't touch me! You'll get sucked in too!" Keicho shouted. "Damn it, he's stealing the Bow and Arrow...! Okuyasu... I knew you'd find a way to screw me over!"

Then with one final scream, Keicho disappeared into the outlet.

"Where did he go?! Big Bro!" Okuyasu cried.

Josuke leaped to the skylight and broke through the glass. The others followed him, except for Nijimura Sr, who remained in the room. He didn't even realize what just happened.

On the roof, everyone looked for either Keicho or the new Stand. Okuyasu's face went pale.

The four boys found Okuyasu's brother dead on the electric cables across the street. His skin and uniform are completely charred. Okuyasu is shaking over and he was almost on the verge of breaking down.

"My brother... got what was coming for him," he said. "But... in the end... he still protected me, didn't he?! Josuke, you saw it, right?"

"Yeah... I saw it clearly," Josuke agreed. "Whatever his faults, your brother did save your life."

Koichi lowered his head in sadness while Fubuki stared vacantly into the distance. Seeing Keicho killed before his eyes shook him.

What have I been doing? He thought, clenching his teeth. I spent months planning on this revenge and I never got what I wanted... Okuyasu... he's just like me...

*&*&*

The night, Fubuki came home feeling dead inside. He went up to his room and opened his drawer. He pulled out the scrapbook containing clippings of newspaper articles about Angelo's crimes.

He dumped the scrapbook into his garbage can and he felt a huge weight lifted from his shoulders.

He took a long shower to think about his actions for the past weeks and the events that happened since he moved back to Morioh. His desire for revenge has darkened his heart; it would’ve been a matter of time until he too turns out like Keicho Nijimura. But now, he felt hollow...

Under the cold shower, he thought of his cousin Shinichi, remembering how useless he was that he couldn't kill his murderer after all.

What am I going to do next? He thought to himself. My desire to avenge Shinichi was all I had to live for...

*&*&*

The next day, Fubuki went to school alone. He hadn't seen Josuke or Koichi this morning. He thought of stopping by Okuyasu's home to check up on him, but he guesses that Okuyasu might not be happy to see him.

At his classroom, his homeroom teacher Miyazaki is going off about a new video game he forgot to buy and it was sold out.

"But enough about that, we have a new student joining us today!" Miyazaki said cheerfully. "Come right in!"

Fubuki has been in a funk since morning but when he saw the new student, his jaws dropped.

"Hi! My name is Okuyasu Nijimura!" Okuyasu greeted the class.

"We welcome you to our amazing Class 1-A, Okuyasu!" Miyazaki said. "Where would you like to sit?"

Please don't see me, please don't see me... Fubuki shielded his face with his hand.

Okuyasu spotted him and his face lit up. "Wow! Fubuki, is that you? I didn't know you're in this class!"

"You two already know each other?" Miyazaki asked.

"Yeah, we're buddies!"

"W-wait a minute--" Fubuki stammered.

"Splendid!" Miyazaki clapped his hands together. "Fubuki, you can help him catch up just in time for our test next week!"

Miyazaki noticed something is wrong about Fubuki's current seating arrangement. 

"Hmm, all the front row seats are taken, though..."

To Fubuki's horror, he is now sitting at the back of the class with Okuyasu's desk on his right. Okuyasu looked so happy with this seating arrangement. Fubuki doesn't understand why he's so cheerful despite what happened to his big brother yesterday.

"I'm so happy that I'm going to the same school with Josuke and Fubuki!" Okuyasu exclaimed. "Oh, yeah! I can't forget about Koichi too!"

Fubuki rested his forehead on his hand, groaning internally. This is going to be one awkward first month of the school year.

<-- To be continued. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 8: Sunday with Irene

Keicho Nijimura was buried in Kunimi Peak Cemetery, located in the west of Morioh. The Bow and Arrow are still nowhere to be found, and Fubuki wondered how many more Stand users are in this town at this very moment.

Meanwhile, Okuyasu enrolled in Budogaoka High School and he ended up in the same class as Fubuki. He even befriended Josuke and Koichi, who was just as awkward as Fubuki. He has enough savings (also extra money left by Keicho) last him about five to six years, so he is staying in town with his deformed father.

On this Sunday, Fubuki is trying to get his friends to focus on studying before their tests tomorrow. The four of them are sitting together in the Morioh Library located in Kotodai Park.

Josuke is bored out of his mind; he placed a pencil above his lip to pretend it’s a mustache. Koichi is going through his notes, trying to memorize them. Fubuki is tutoring Okuyasu, but the latter doesn’t seem that interested.

"Josuke," Okuyasu spoke up. "Did you see that videotape yet?"

"Oh, that... Yeah, I did," Josuke grinned slyly.

"What's it like?" Okuyasu said in a hushed voice. 

Koichi looked up. "What are you guys talking about?"

"Well, I squinted very closely..." Josuke said. "But I couldn't see any of the important stuff! The stupid mosaic got in the way!"

"Dang, that sucks," Okuyasu mumbled. "Can you lend it to me sometime?"

"I have the tape in my bag. I couldn't risk leaving it at home. Otherwise, my mom will go ballistic."

"W-what is this videotape you're talking about?!" Koichi demanded, wide-eyed.

"Pay attention to your studies," Fubuki warned them. "No mindless distractions."

Josuke heard his stomach growling.

"It’s almost time for lunch," he said, glancing out the window. "Hey, Fubuki, can we go and get something to eat?"

"Not yet," Fubuki sternly said. "You haven’t finished your homework yet."

"But we’ve been doing this for nearly two hours, man," Josuke complained.

"Sounds like a slacker who’s never been to cram school," Fubuki chided under his breath.

Josuke grumbled. "Who’s the wise guy who came up with a bright idea to start a study session?"

"That’s you," Koichi and Okuyasu replied in unison.

"Don’t answer that! Hey, Fubuki, why aren't you doing any homework?"

"I already finished mine," Fubuki said.

"In that case, I don't need a study session!" Okuyasu said. "Let me copy your answers and we can go out somewhere!"

"Yeah!" Josuke agreed.

"N-no way!" Koichi said, putting down his notes. "You have to do your homework yourself if you want to learn."

Urgh, he's such a goody-goody... Josuke thought. His head is spinning. Maybe it's 'cause I'm not used to study sessions, but I just can't get into this...

"Who's ready for another mock test?" Fubuki announced.

Josuke, Okuyasu, and even Koichi groaned. Fubuki pulled out a thick pile of test papers he made for this study session.

For thirty minutes, the boys would study their notes and textbook. Once they are finished, Fubuki would give them a mock test, which he explained would help them prepare for their real tests tomorrow. If they didn't pass the mock test, they have to repeat the process all over again. If only one person failed while the others passed, all of them will repeat the process again and again until everyone passed. At first, it sounded like a good idea to the group, but after two mock tests, they're having second thoughts.

"Fubuki, why don't you just use test papers with the same problems instead of giving us completely new ones?" Koichi asked nervously. "I get your idea is to expand our minds and make us actively learn, but... this is already kind of stressful."

"I can't do this anymore! I give up!" Okuyasu cried, slamming his fist on the table. "This is just a thing to punish me for not being a genius!"

Josuke and Koichi looked at each other. The two of them did well on their previous mock tests, but the reason they have to take it again is that Okuyasu could not pass them.

"Your tests are complete bullshit, you know that, Fubuki?!" Okuyasu yelled at the only bespectacled boy in their group.

Fubuki placed a hand on Okuyasu’s shoulder to calm him.

"Listen," he said. "I admire you for going to school the day after your brother died. Not many people have that kind of will. Besides, Mr. Miyazaki is putting a lot of faith in me to help you. If your results aren’t good, I’ll be held responsible. My pride can’t allow that."

Okuyasu crossed his arms and pouted. Fubuki handed everyone their test papers and they were given ten minutes to finish it. When everyone is done, Fubuki graded them. Josuke and Koichi passed, as usual, but when he reached Okuyasu's paper...

Everyone held their breath as they wait for the result.

"Okuyasu... you did it," Fubuki said in a monotone voice that matched his deadpan expression. "You've managed to score over fifty points."

"R-really?!" Okuyasu asked. His tears are rolling down.

"Fifty-two to be exact. However, you misspelled Mercutio's name for the last question, so I'm going to mark it wrong. You get forty-nine points instead. I'm sorry--"

"AW, HELL NO!"

The one who shouted wasn't Okuyasu. Josuke grabbed the front of Fubuki's uniform.

"Okuyasu managed to pass, so you can't dock points because of a simple misspelling!" Josuke said angrily. "Just let him pass!"

"I can't," Fubuki huffed. "This is for the English test and he has to write the words correctly, or his scores will suffer."

"Yeah, but I had enough of reading this dumb story of Romeo and Juliet!"

"Guys, please! Keep your voice down!" Koichi protested as he tried to pull Josuke away. "This is a library!"

Fubuki pulled Josuke's hand from his uniform and adjusted his eyeglasses.

"I'll let this go, but just this once," Fubuki sighed. "Okuyasu, I think you're ready for tomorrow, but you have to watch your spelling."

"Got it," Okuyasu nodded. "But can we stop now, I need some food... I think I'm about to faint..."

At that moment, Fubuki sensed a dark, bloodlust presence in the library.

He looked around. He saw several students and other guests reading, but there is nobody suspicious. Since Keicho Nijimura died, Fubuki felt like he was being watched and stalked.

"I guess we can stop for a break..." Fubuki said, shaking the feeling off. "Why don’t I buy you all lunch, as a treat for taking part in this study session."

"Alright!" Okuyasu grinned, now drooling.

"Finally, we're free from this tyranny!" Josuke declared.

Koichi just sighed with relief, he was glad a fight didn't break out. Josuke and Okuyasu are now discussing where to go in the afternoon while Koichi watched Fubuki put away his textbooks and test papers inside his school bag.

"Why did you bring so much with you?" he asked. "I thought we’re only studying for the test tomorrow?"

"I have to attend my supplementary classes this afternoon," Fubuki answered.

Josuke heard him. "Wow, extra classes? You’re busier than a manga artist."

Fubuki scoffed. "Please. You haven’t seen me in my middle school years. I attended cram school for four days a week, while I also had the Kendo club and after-school classes such as calligraphy, tea ceremony, and Japanese flower arrangement."

"Wait, isn’t that last one meant for girls?" Okuyasu asked, confused. He glanced down at Fubuki’s chest. "Unless…"

"I wasn’t aware you’re a pervert, Okuyasu Nijimura," Fubuki said coldly, even though he covered his chest with his arms.

"Fubuki is definitely a guy," Josuke smirked. "I've seen him naked once when we were kids."

"Aww, that's a disappointment," Okuyasu said. "I was thinking of how prettier he’d be if he were an actual girl—yipe!"

A red-faced Fubuki yanked on both Josuke and Okuyasu’s ears to make them stop talking.

*&*&*

The four schoolboys left the library together and they walk through the park until they come across a familiar little girl with twin hair buns. She seemed to be playing around with a small shrine at the edge of the road.

"… So, I told Daddy that I counted all the seashells on the beach," she spoke to the statue in the shrine as though it was a friend. "I counted up to two hundred and six. I told Daddy this but he wasn’t listening."

"Hey, Irene!" Josuke called.

When she heard her name being called, Irene turned around and put on a huge smile.

"Uncle Josuke!" Irene cried and waved an arm.

Josuke and the others approached her. Okuyasu seemed curious about her.

"Who's this kid?" Okuyasu asked anyone.

"She’s Jotaro Kujo's daughter. Her name is Irene and she’s five-years-old," Fubuki answered.

Irene heard him and she stomped on the ground. She placed her hands on her hips and she pouted.

"I’m six, and I’ll be turning seven soon!" she corrected him. "Dumbass."

Fubuki uttered a scandalized gasp while Josuke and Okuyasu broke down laughing. Koichi, however, isn’t amused.

"Where did you learn such language?" Koichi asked.

"I heard Uncle Josuke said it before," Irene replied.

"Josuke!" Koichi glared at him while Josuke flushed with embarrassment.

"Sorry! Anyways, can you not use that word again, Irene?" Josuke asked. "Especially not around your dad."

"Okay," Irene said innocently.

"What are you doing here anyway? Where's your dad?"

"He's at the beach, looking at starfishes," Irene replied. "I got bored so I walked."

Josuke is flabbergasted. "W-wait a minute, Morioh Grand Hotel is almost at the other end of the town! Are you telling me you walked all the way here?!"

"Not all the way, I took the bus too," Irene replied. "I played with the turtles near the train station until I got thirsty. Then I saw a kitty and I tried to catch it, but it ran away from me... and now I'm lost..."

Irene's lips quivered. Josuke crouched down and comforted her.

"Oh, my gosh, you must be so scared," Josuke said.

"I'm—I'm not scared!" Irene protested, but her voice is trembling. "I'm just waiting for my daddy to show up. H-he told me that if I ever get lost, I should stay where I am and wait for him..."

"Your father doesn't even know where you are," Fubuki told her. "How do you expect him to find you? You shouldn't have wandered off like that. What if a stranger tries to kidnap you?"

"Come on, don't scold her like that," Josuke said as he rubbed Irene's back. "She's a little kid."

"Why don't we bring her to Mr. Jotaro?" Okuyasu suggested.

"That's a good idea," Koichi nodded. "We can call him first to let him know that we found her. I'll go find a payphone!"

Koichi hurried away, leaving the others to look after Irene. The young girl hugged Josuke's legs while she kept a wary eye on Okuyasu.

"Huh? Is something wrong?" Okuyasu asked, pointing a finger to his face. "Do you want to play with Big Brother Okuyasu?”

Irene just continued staring at Okuyasu. Up close, he reminded of her one of those scary, mean boys who hurt the turtle weeks ago. When Okuyasu tried to come closer, Irene squealed in fear and hid behind Josuke.

"Aw, she's afraid of me..." Okuyasu mumbled sadly.

"I don't blame her," Fubuki said. He opened up one of his schoolbooks and started reading to pass the time. "You look like a thug."

Okuyasu is insulted. Then he noticed the shrine.

"Hey, Josuke, look at this statue!" he said.

"Huh? What about it?" Josuke asked.

Everyone checked out the shrine that got Okuyasu’s curiosity. The shrine has a monk-like Jizo statue erected on top of it. In modern Japan, countless statues of Jizo are found in temples and cemetery. Jizo is popularly venerated as the guardian of children, especially those who die before their parents. Jizo is also a protector of travelers and firefighters; hence his statues can be also seen along roadsides.

On top of round head of the Jizo statue is a checkered top hat, and its bib has the same checkered design.

"What a funny little man," Irene said. "He looks like a baby."

"There is a name engraved below the statue," Josuke pointed out.

Okuyasu is having a hard time reading it out loud.

"Ze… Zep…" Okuyasu muttered, squinting his eyes.

"Zeppeli," Fubuki finished. "That’s the Zeppeli Jizo."

"Isn't that Italian?" Josuke inquired.

"Yeah. My grandmother’s last name was Zeppeli before she married my grandfather," Fubuki replied. "This Jizo was constructed in dedication to the man who came to Morioh in 1885. That man was the grandfather of my grandmother."

"Whoa, really?!" said both Okuyasu and Irene.

"That’s pretty cool, I guess," Josuke said. "I’ve passed this statue a few times and I didn’t think much about it."

"I only know bits about Will Zeppeli from my grandmother's stories. This statue was built in 1901, just three years after his death in 1888," Fubuki said. "When I used to live here, my grandmother would often take me here so we can clean it and leave flowers by it… Not many people in this town know about, but there is a folklore about Zeppeli in Morioh."

This piqued Okuyasu’s interest.

"Can you tell us about it?" he asked, standing up.

"No."

"Come on, I’m curious!"

Fubuki adjusted his eyeglasses and sighed.

"I don’t remember all the details, but it was more than a century ago…" he began. "Will Zeppeli traveled to Japan for some reason, and he arrived in Morioh when it was just a village. He was considered as a mystical doctor because who used his strange powers to cure the locals who had incurable diseases… I don’t know the rest of the tale, but Zeppeli left Morioh and it was several years later when the villagers heard that Zeppeli died. So a Jizo statue has been constructed in dedication to the eccentric Italian traveler."

Everyone stared at him, wondering if there is more to the story.

"I doubt if it really happened," Fubuki said. "Even if you check the library, there are all kinds of interpretations of the story… It’s just a fantasy story told to me by my grandmother."

"It does sound unbelievable," Josuke said. "A mystical doctor with powers? Who’d believe that?"

Koichi returned and he looked disappointed.

"I couldn't reach Jotaro," he told them. "I waited while the phone kept ringing, but he never picked up. I guess he's out looking for his daughter."

"Well, let's take her somewhere until we get a hold of him," Josuke said. "Fubuki, your home's the closest. Let's stay there."

Fubuki blinked. "What."

"Hang on! Fubuki was going to buy us lunch!" Okuyasu said.

"This is more important!" Josuke said.

*&*&*

It took ten minutes for the group to reach Spider Threads to find nobody home. Fubuki found a note for his uncle that he is out for lunch while Grandma Juri is visiting her friends. Irene is sitting in the dining room, swinging her legs since her feet can't touch the floor yet.

"I'm hungry," she said.

"I can whip something up," said Fubuki. He tied his hair into a ponytail. "What would you like?"

"I want mushroom omelet!" Irene said happily.

"That sounds good, cook me some too," Josuke said.

"Me too!" Okuyasu and Koichi raised their hands.

"What am I, your chef?" Fubuki complained.

"Well, you did volunteer first," Josuke said. "Oh, can we have coffee and tea as well?"

"I want orange juice!" Irene added.

Fubuki huffed but he removed his school jacket and put a pink apron over his shirt. He then rolled up his sleeves and began preparing the ingredients.

"You can do what you want while you wait, but don't break anything," Fubuki said, with his back turned. "And my bedroom is off-limits."

Koichi excused himself so he can go use the bathroom while Josuke and Okuyasu decide to check the clothes store downstairs. Irene soon found herself getting more bored.

"Is the food ready yet?" she asked.

"I haven't even started yet," Fubuki replied as he began wrapping several asparagus spears with bacon.

"Can I draw and watch TV?"

"Sure," Fubuki muttered, his back still turned. "I have some blank papers inside my bag. You can use them for drawings."

Irene got down from the chair she's sitting on and walked over to one of the schoolbags left by the boys. She did not know which one belonged to Fubuki so she chose one by random. She opened the bag and several papers slipped out... including a videotape.

Irene picked up the tape. The cover has a picture of two animated schoolgirls with colorful hair.

Meanwhile, Josuke and Okuyasu checking the clothes hanging in the racks. The shop is closed today and the window blinds are down, so it's a bit dark to navigate.

"Whoa, this place looked so different during closed hours," Josuke said. "It's so quiet, it's almost kinda creepy."

"Josuke, look!" Okuyasu suddenly shouted, which made the pompadour-haired teen jump.

"Don't scare me like that, man!"

Okuyasu ran to a rack and pulled out a black leather jacket. On the back of the jacket is a design of flattened hand surrounded by yen and dollar symbols.

"I found the perfect jacket for me!" he pointed it out excitedly. "And this one looks like my size! Can I try it on quickly?"

"Are you kidding? You can't just take it out. Put it back--"

Okuyasu already ran into the fitting room. When he came out, he had removed his school uniform and put on the leather jacket and pair of jeans he found. He looked like a greaser from the 1950s.

"It IS my size! It's the perfect fit!" Okuyasu exclaimed. "This jacket is made for me!"

"Wow, that does look good on you," Josuke said. "Can I try it on too?"

"No, way! Get your own jacket!"

Josuke found another jacket, the back design has a picture of the same flattened hand, this time surround by a shape of a heart. Like Okuyasu, he is now dressed like a greaser.

"Wooow, now you look like John Travolta!" Okuyasu said.

"I don't know who that is, but I'll take it as a compliment!" Josuke grinned.

Both boys stood in front of a full-length mirror, striking poses like they are members of a bicycle gang.

On the reflection, a shadow suddenly zipped behind them. Josuke and Okuyasu screamed and looked behind them.

"W-what was that?!" Okuyasu stammered, clinging to Josuke.

"I-I saw it too!" Josuke said.

"What do you think that was? A ghost?"

"D-don't say that! Ghosts freak me out!"

They heard something moving so fast that it bumped into one of the clothes racks.

Josuke and Okuyasu cling to each other while they navigate around the shop to find that shadowy figure. Okuyasu could not see where he is going and stepped on what he assumed to be a piece of clothing.

The 'clothing' yowled.

*&*&*

Back upstairs, Koichi came out from the bathroom. He saw Irene is trying to put a videotape into a VCR under the TV.

"Here, let me help you," he said.

He put the tape in and played it. It showed a Japanese cartoon of two girls going to school together.

"That looks like a cute, innocent cartoon," Koichi commented. He smiled at Irene and patted her head. "Enjoy your show~"

"Thank you~!" Irene said before plopping down in front of the TV.

Koichi walked up to the kitchen and found Fubuki is still in the middle of cooking. After he placed the bacon-wrapped asparagus in the oven to be cooked, he began cracking and mixing some eggs.

"Can I use the phone to call Jotaro again?" he asked.

"Go ahead," Fubuki muttered, wiping the sweat from his brow.

Koichi picked up the phone and dialed a number to the Morioh Grand Hotel. Irene is drawing pictures of cats and turtles on a piece of paper while she watched the TV. The cartoon is showing a scene of a beautiful nurse being seduced by a male high school student with a pompadour.

"That guy looked like Uncle Josuke," she said to herself.

The nurse is now being tied up in thin ropes in different patterns that are tightly formed around her hourglass body. The top of her uniform is popped open, revealing her soft, round breasts...

Irene has her wide eyes glued to the screen.

"What a weird cartoon," she said.

Koichi waited for several minutes until he finally reached Jotaro.

"Hello?" Jotaro said as soon as he picked up the phone.

"Jotaro! Thank god, you're there!" Koichi gasped. "This is Koichi!"

"What's wrong, Koichi? Is there trouble?"

"No trouble at all! We're just letting you know that your daughter is here with me, Josuke, and the others. We just found her wandering around so we're now at Fubuki's placed called Spider Threads."

"I see. I'll come over and pick her up soon. Thank you for calling me."

"No problem at all."

Koichi hangs the phone and he turns around to see Irene watching a cartoon of a schoolgirl being hammered by an unseen man. He released a high-pitched shriek which got Irene's attention and made Fubuki nearly drop his pan.

"WHY ARE YOU WATCHING THAT?!" 

"Koichi! Why are you screaming?" Fubuki demanded. He then saw what's playing on the TV. "Irene, why are you watching that?!"

Everyone heard something crashed downstairs followed by Josuke and Okuyasu screaming.

"Josuke, Okuyasu! What is going on down there?!" Fubuki yelled. "You better not break anything in my uncle's shop!"

Fubuki left the stove. He was about to rush downstairs when a blue-gray furred cat with honey-gold eyes leaped out of nowhere and crashed into him.

"A kitty!" Irene squealed.

"It's a British Shorthair!" Koichi said.

Josuke and Okuyasu, still wearing leather jackets and jeans, came upstairs. They are armed with a broom and a hanger.

"That cat scared us! Don't let him escape!" Josuke yelled.

"Where did this cat come from?!" Fubuki asked while trying to hold down the cat.

"I thought it was yours!"

The cat managed to scratch his face. Fubuki dropped the cat, slipped backward until he crashed into a cabinet. On top of the cabinet is an expensive vase. It got knocked over and it fell directly on Irene's head. The vase is smashed into pieces and Irene is knocked out.

Everyone froze in horror and gasped. Then they all ran towards her as she lay in lifeless on the floor. Irene did not open her eyes and her head is bleeding.

"You killed her!" Okuyasu said to Fubuki.

"W-wait a minute...!" Fubuki protested.

"Why was there a vase on top of the cabinet?!" Josuke screeched. "Oh god, Jotaro is gonna kill us!"

Koichi shrieked again. "Jotaro is gonna be here soon!"

"Where did the cat go?!" Okuyasu looked around. "Did it run upstairs?"

"Who cares about that dumb cat?! Irene is dead and Jotaro will be here!" Josuke said, now panicking. "We gotta leave town! We gotta start packing! Only the essentials, we gotta travel light!"

"I'll bring the knives!" Okuyasu said.

"We're murderers!" Koichi is freaking out. "Our high school career is ruined!!"

Fubuki slapped their heads. He's the only one who is still calm.

"She's not dead, you morons," he said. He is holding up Irene's limp hand. "She's still got a pulse."

"Oh..." Josuke said. "Oh, you're right... But if Jotaro sees her bleeding and knocked out like this, he's gonna murder us--"

"Are you a Stand user or not? You have Crazy Diamond!"

Josuke smacked his own forehead. He summoned his Stand and Crazy Diamond healed Irene's injury, also cleaning up her blood. Irene woke up and blinked her eyes. She sat straight up.

"What happened?" she asked.

"She's alive!" Josuke, Okuyasu, and Koichi cried happily.

"Kyaaaa!" someone screamed.

The sound was coming from the TV. The cartoon is still playing and it has an explicit scene of a blushing schoolgirl bouncing.

"Your @#% is making my %$#@ crazy!" she panted.

"Crap! That's the tape I got!" Josuke screamed as he covered Irene's eyes.

Fubuki quickly turned off the TV and he glared at Josuke.

"Where did you get that filth, you lecherous yahoo?" he chastised, pulling Josuke’s ear.

"I found it in the school incinerator the other day!" Josuke defended himself. "I was gonna lend it to Okuyasu!"

"Take it back where it rightfully belongs... in the garbage!"

Fubuki was about to strangle Josuke when he smelled something burning.

"My bacon-wrapped asparagus!" he screamed as he ran to the oven.

*&*&*

A few minutes later, Fubuki managed to save the food, though they are a little charred. Everyone is sitting around the table, eating in awkward silence. Fubuki didn't eat at all; he was just stabbing his meal and his eyeglasses are all fogged up.

"… You forgot the coffee and tea," Okuyasu spoke up.

Fubuki kicked him under the table. However, he accidentally kicked Koichi instead and the small student winced.

"The asparagus is delicious," Irene said, trying to make him feel better.

"… Thank you," Fubuki smiled a bit.

"Yeah, man, I don't usually like asparagus," Josuke added. "But you make it taste so good--"

"Not a word from you," Fubuki hissed. He then noticed the clothes Josuke and Okuyasu are wearing. "Are... are those from my uncle's shop?"

Josuke and Okuyasu put on innocent smiles. Irene then remembered something else.

"I wonder where did that kitty go?" she asked.

"The cat?" Josuke said. "I think it ran away. I don't know how it got inside the house."

"I left the window in my room slightly opened before I left the house," Fubuki explained. "It must have climbed through the window. Honestly, I'm ashamed that two teenage boys like you got spooked by a cat."

"It was dark!" Okuyasu whined.

Koichi turned to Irene.

"Irene... that cartoon you watched... how much did you see?" he asked nervously.

"I dunno," Irene shrugged. "It was boring and yucky."

"Yeah, yucky! You see, because... that cartoon isn't for little kids."

"Why?"

"Because... it shows inappropriate stuff only for grown-ups."

"But you're not a grown-up either!"

"Koichi," Josuke said. "At that age, she's very impressionable and curious, so she won't stop talking about it. We still got time... So, before Jotaro arrives, we have to set things straight for her."

"What are you suggesting, Josuke?" Fubuki asked.

Josuke cleared his throat. "Irene... do you want to know where babies come from?"

Okuyasu and Koichi turned pale. They realized what Josuke is planning to do. Irene tilted her head in confusion.

"Santa Claus delivers them?" she asked.

"Not really," Josuke said, moving his chair so he can look at her properly. "See, when a boy and girl love each other..."

"Not necessarily in love," Fubuki muttered. "Accidents happen."

Josuke cast a dirty look at him before speaking to Irene.

"What I meant to say, is that when a daddy and a mommy wanted to start a family together..." he said slowly. "They hug each other."

"Like how I hug my daddy?" Irene asked.

"No, not that kind of hug!" Josuke blushed. "It's a grown-up hug you share with someone you find very special."

Irene leaned closer so she can listen more. Okuyasu, Koichi, and Fubuki are astonished to see Josuke explaining a taboo subject so natural without cringing.

"You see, the daddy has seeds inside his body, while the mommy has eggs inside her body," Josuke asked. "Every month, the mommy makes a new egg. When the daddy and mommy are ready to have a baby, they do their special hug. The daddy's seed joins up with mommy's egg, and that's the start of a new baby."

"Ohhh, I get it now!" Irene said. "They have sex! I already know about it, Grandma Holly already explained it to me!"

The boys spat out their food and orange juice. Irene is happily oblivious to everything around her.

"May I have dessert?" she asked.

By the time Jotaro arrived at Spider Threads, Irene was ready to go back to the hotel. Koichi went home while Fubuki made Josuke and Okuyasu stay behind to fix the mess in the kitchen and Norisuke's shop. Irene wanted to say goodbye to the boys first while Jotaro waits for her outside the shop.

"I had a lot of fun, Uncle Josuke!" Irene beamed.

"Aw, it's no problem," Josuke chuckled. He and Okuyasu back wearing their school uniforms again. "Also, can you not tell your father about that cartoon you saw...?"

"Okie-dokie!" she said. "Can I come over again and play with you?"

"I don't really live here, but I can come over to the hotel and see you."

"Oh, please!" Irene bounced. "It gets so boring in the hotel, and I'm tired of drawing and watching TV all day. There's no one else I can play with and Daddy's busy with work."

"Sure. I promise to play with you when I have time."

Josuke rubbed her head and she giggled.

"I like you, Uncle Josuke!" she smiled. "When I grow up into a woman, I hope we can be daddy and mommy someday."

"NO!" Josuke nearly screamed. He cleared his throat. "Um, I mean... you could do better than me!"

He's nervously glancing at Jotaro's direction outside the shop. Hoping his nephew didn't hear what his daughter just said.

Irene hugged Josuke's legs one last time before skipping out the door. Josuke watched her go, thinking how adorable she is and how lucky she is to have a cool father like Jotaro.

Inside a rental car, Jotaro is driving back to the hotel while Irene is in the back seat happily telling him about her day. Irene is drawing a new picture on a piece of paper. It's a drawing of her with her parents.

"Daddy... you and Mommy made me, right?" she asked.

"Yeah," Jotaro said, keeping his eyes on the road. He seemed to freeze up when Irene mentioned her mother.

"Can you and Mommy make me a baby sister?" Irene asked. "I want a baby sister to play with."

Jotaro's hands gripped on the steering wheel.

"That's impossible, Irene," he said. "Your mother left home years ago, remember?"

"Oh... that's right," Irene muttered. Now disappointed, she crossed her tiny arms together. "Being an only child sucks."

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9: Onodera's Tiny Dancer

On the night before Fubuki moved to Morioh, he was asleep in his bed. He heard a low thump and he opened his eyes. He tried to adjust his blurred vision in the darkness. His bedroom has a huge floor-to-ceiling glass window that allows him to view the city from his family's high-rise apartment.

Fubuki checked the time on his clock. It is 3:03 AM.

He was about to get his glasses to see what caused that sound when he heard his bedroom door creaked open. It startled him and he dropped his glasses. They landed on the floor. Fubuki noticed the talisman he placed on the door must have slipped off during the night and the bowl of salt near the door has been burnt completely black.

Fubuki was too scared to move. However, he mustered up the courage and got out from his bed (after untying his feet to the bed, to prevent himself from accidentally sleepwalking). He slowly walked over to his door and quickly closed it, and then locked it. Then he hurried back to his bed, trembling like a scared child. He was about to duck under the covers when he forgot about his glasses that were still on the floor.

He reached out for the glasses and he touched something wet. He peered down and saw the tips of his fingers were covered in fresh blood.

A pale hand reached out from under the bed and grabbed Fubuki's wrist. It was cold and stiff, almost like a corpse.

The phantom under his breath made a raspy whisper.

"He's in Morioh... Don't go... to Morioh..."

Fubuki fainted from terror. When he woke up the next morning, he forgot the phantom's warning.


As soon as Fubuki woke up, he cleaned up the lines of salt around his bedroom and removed the talismans from his door.

It's been three weeks since I moved here, he thought. It looks like that phantom hasn't tried to follow me. I guess moving out of S-City is a good idea after all...

Fubuki put on his uniform and before he can grab his shoes, he noticed something is stuffed inside it. It was a white origami dove... almost the same one he saw back in the Nijimura's house last week.

He thought this was a little prank by his uncle, so he threw the origami dove aside. He had to get ready for the day.

*&*&*

Josuke was feeling a little bummed this morning. The day after he promised he would play with Irene, he received a phone call from Jotaro that she'll be going back home.

"I can't leave Morioh yet, so I'll only be gone for half a day," Jotaro said on the phone. "My mother will look after her while I'm working here. Irene has already has overextended her vacation, and I don't want her to miss kindergarten."

"Oh... that's too bad," Josuke mumbled. "She's such a sweet kid."

For the next entire week, Josuke and friends noticed how very quiet and grumpy Jotaro has gotten. Even though he doesn't show it, they know he missed his daughter.

*&*&*

On Monday, just a few days before Golden Week, Okuyasu arrived to class a couple of minutes late. However, the homeroom teacher Mr. Miyazaki is not around. The students wanted to use this opportunity to goof around and chat with their friends but they were stopped by the class president.

"As representative of Class 1-A, I will take over Mr. Miyazaki's role temporarily if he doesn't show up today," she said. "We will be using our free period to read our textbooks."

The class groaned.

"Quietly," she added in a firm tone. "Anyone who misbehaves or refuse to do what I say will be reported."

"Onodera is quite cute, isn't she?" Okuyasu whispered to Fubuki.

Fubuki was in the middle of reading his book when he looked up. "Huh? Oh, her... I guess she's above average."

Onodera is a young 15-year-old girl around average height with blue eyes. Her ash pink hair is styled into a shoulder-length French braid that ends with a couple of pigtails tied with polka-dot ribbons. Like the rest of the girls in Budogaoka High School, she wears a normal uniform with little alterations, except for a strawberry design on both sleeves of her blouse. She looked like a pleasant and responsible person, despite her rough sides.

"Then again, this class has a lot of cute girls," Okuyasu smiled. "Like Yukako Yamagishi..."

Fubuki turned to see what Okuyasu is looking at. There is a girl near the window; she has dark, wavy waist-length hair. She also has dark eyes and prominent eyebrows. She has her book opened but she doesn't seem to be reading it.

"She's not your type," a female student commented.

Okuyasu and Fubuki jumped. Someone had come up to them without their notice and it is the flashiest girl of their class. Her name is Miki Ichikawa. She has dyed her hair to blonde and her arms are filled with bracelets. She wore long, loose socks and the skirt of her uniform has been adjusted to be much shorter.

"Who asked for your opinion, Ichikawa?" Okuyasu said.

"I'm just letting you down easy," Ichikawa said. "Yamagishi lives in her own world, so she doesn't listen to others or pay attention to what's currently happening. She's like a single flower blooming at the edge of a snowy cliff... You try to approach her and make one wrong move, you'll just slip off from that mountain and..."

Ichikawa makes a falling sound effect while making her hand slowly dive. She then snapped her finger.

"Boom! Your body is splattered everywhere and it gets eaten by wild animals!" Ichikawa giggled.

This made Okuyasu feel a bit upset.

"But... if you're serious about getting her to notice you..." Ichikawa pulled out a handmade ring. "You can wear this lucky rose quartz ring I made! Wearing a rose quartz jewelry is said to attract love and you can have this for only 5 thousand yen!"

"I'll take it!" Okuyasu said happily.

"No, you won't," Fubuki stopped him. "Go find another sucker to rip off, Ichikawa."

Ichikawa walked away, mumbling to herself, "But my love rings actually work... about thirty percent of the time."

"I'll buy it from you, Ichikawa," Onodera spoke up. "Unlike Kurosawa, I have taste."

Fubuki frowned while Onodera stuck her tongue at him. Ichikawa happily sold the rose quartz ring to the class president.

"Homeroom has ended, everybody," Onodera announced. "It's time for English. Take out your textbooks and read."

Everyone did as she was told.

"Fubuki, when is Golden Week?" Okuyasu whispered to him.

"This Thursday," Fubuki replied.

"Do you have any plans? Josuke and I are thinking of hitting the pachinko parlor. Wanna come with us?"

"Sure. I'll see if I can squeeze gambling into my schedule," Fubuki said sarcastically.

"No talking, Kurosawa," Onodera warned. "I already said it's time to read. Do you need a hearing aid for your ears too?"

What's up with her? Fubuki thought. Why is she on my back today?

The door to the classes suddenly slide open and everyone is surprised to see their teacher in his plaid suit walking in. Onodera ordered the students to rise and bow to the teacher, before sitting back down.

"I apologize for being late," Miyazaki groaned. His hair is a mess and he appeared less peppy than usual. "Students, do not follow my example."

"We were about to begin reading, Sensei," Onodera told him.

"Thank you," Miyazaki said. He wiped his hair bangs from his forehead. "I've had a rough weekend. So much for homeroom, let's just start your English lessons..."

Miyazaki began writing down a list of words on the blackboard: Venerable, welter, beseech.

Then he came to a dead stop and did not move for a moment. He turned around and faced the class with a mad look in his eyes.

"Class, by next year, it will be the new millennium," Miyazaki said to the students of 1-A. "But... will we be around to see it?"

This caught everyone off-guard as Miyazaki frantically paced back and forth, speaking quickly as though he were in a race.

"It has been all over the news since January of this year," Miyazaki continued. "According to a prophecy by Nostradamus, the world will end in exactly seven months into the year 1999. Now... I know you're all excited to for your little vacation in light of Golden Week coming up, but this is no excuse to drop your guard! By July, who knows what could happen...!"

Miyazaki began to chuckle in a rather dark way, now speaking more to himself rather than to his class.

"Perhaps the sky will rain fire and brimstone... maybe a tsunami will appear and wipe out the town..." he said in a manic manner. "Or maybe space and time will move so fast, we will all be disintegrated into dust by the Antichrist himself! Modern technology stops working! The dead walk the earth! Cats and dogs living together! I'm talking about a disaster of biblical portions!!"

Then Miyazaki fell into his seat and his face landed flat on his desk. He sighed dreamily, smiling.

"You know..." he said. "It wouldn't be a bad idea... if the world ended."

The entire class just sat there, looking at each other awkwardly and wondering how to respond to that.

"What was THAT all about?" Okuyasu whispered to Fubuki.

A couple seats down from them, Ichikawa turned her head around.

"I heard some lady left him in the middle of their date," she told them in a whisper. "He seems to be taking it hard."

"… Sensei, what does this have to do with Oedipus Rex?" Onodera asked.

Miyazaki lifted up his head and fixed his glasses. He smiled wider and stood up again. He lifted up a copy of the Oedipus Rex play by Sophocles, which came with Japanese translation.

"We will be going over it in our new story today," Miyazaki began, now back to his normal and cheerful self. "In this famous tragedy, Oedipus learned of a prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother."

Several kids laughed, including Okuyasu. Miyazaki laughed too, but it was so loud and almost crazy. He was the only one in the room still laughing while his students sit and stare at him in silent fear and confusion. A few seconds passed and Miyazaki finally stopped, breathing heavily.

"Why don't we start reading?" Miyazaki said, back to his normal self. He flipped to the book to the opening pages. "In this lesson, we will look at some vocabulary used in the play, as we did with and Juliet. Because the play is over two thousand years old, it can be challenging. However, by defining some of the uncommon words used, we can still enjoy the story... In a couple of days, there will be a quiz on this. The ones who got high scores won't have homework over the break."

Everyone groaned.

A handful of students were picked to read out several lines from the play. Everyone paused and tripped over words they barely understand, but Fubuki and Onodera spoke in perfect English without trouble.

Then Fubuki and Onodera are both called to the blackboard to answer a question Miyazaki wrote.

"Oedipus spoke to a priest due to his venerable appearance," he said. "What does he mean by 'venerable'?"

Fubuki wrote down 'age-old', while Onodera wrote 'dignified'.

"That's the correct answer, Fubuki," Miyazaki said as he mustered a tiny smile. "Onodera, you were only a little close. You can ask Fubuki for help if you have trouble."

Onodera flushed and went back to her seat. For the next few subjects, Fubuki answered more questions diligently and his teachers praised him. Soon, fourth period ended and several classmates gather around Fubuki as though he were an idol.

"Fubuki, we have chemistry after lunch," one student said. "Can I see your homework?"

"Not in your life," Fubuki said. "That's cheating."

Another student came up to him, holding up her Math paper.

"Fubuki can you help me solve this problem?"

"Fubuki, have you joined any clubs yet? Why don't you join the Computer Club!"

"Can we eat lunch together, Fubuki?"

In his seat, Fubuki felt his thigh itch for some reason. As he scratched his thigh, he did not notice Onodera glaring at him.

*&*&*

During lunch period, Fubuki ate with Josuke, Koichi, and Okuyasu behind the school gymnasium. They are discussing their English teacher's strange behavior this morning.

"I've never seen him act like that before," Koichi said. "He's usually so nice and carefree, he would let us eat in class as long we share our snacks with him."

"He's probably had a bad date, like what Okuyasu and Fubuki said," Josuke said.

"Man, I can't even understand this story," Okuyasu mumbled. He's reading his copy of Sophocles' play. He's scratching his head in confusion. "Why are English plays so hard to read?"

"Oedipus Rex is Greek," Fubuki corrected him.

"Hey, is that another one of your special bento lunches?"

After some of the bland food in the school cafeteria, Fubuki wakes up every morning before school to cook his own lunch and pack them into his own bento box. Today's lunch is steamed rice mixed with salad beans, and karaage chicken seasoned with yellow and black sesame seeds. For the side dish, Fubuki added some tamagoyaki, fresh lettuce, and sauteed green and red pimentos.

"That looks so goood~!" Okuyasu whined, now drooling at the sight. "Man, I'm so jealous you can cook and prepare your own lunch, while I have to buy my own... Can I have some?"

"You already ate," Fubuki said.

Okuyasu put on a big puppy-eyed expression. Fubuki had to look away so he wouldn't feel guilty.

"Hey, Fubuki," Josuke changed the subject. "You've been scratching yourself ever since you got here."

Fubuki has been scratching his thigh and leg, increasing the pressure and speed of his fingers.

"I might be allergic to something," Fubuki winced. "I think my grandmother put a new detergent into the laundry when she was washing my uniform yesterday."

Fubuki used his other hand in an attempt to scratch his shoulder.

"Maybe you were stung by a bee or wasp, you didn't notice!" Okuyasu said.

"How do you feel right now?" Koichi asked, concerned. "Do you have any fever or chills?"

"No," Fubuki muttered as he scratched harder. "I feel okay, it's just that this itch... won't go away."

"Don't scratch too hard," Josuke said. "You'll damage your skin faster."

"You should go to the nurse's office if it's that bad," Koichi suggested.

Fubuki forced himself to stop scratching, even though the itch is slowly driving him crazy. Okuyasu pulled out a lighter.

"Who wants to see a cool magic trick?" Okuyasu asked the group.

"I didn't know you could do stuff like that," Josuke asked, intrigued.

"I just started! I saw a person did this and I've practiced. The trick here is to eat the flame of the lighter and spit it back out."

"Hang on, wouldn't that be dangerous?" Koichi asked.

"Don't worry, I've done it plenty of times! I got the hang of it! First I turn on the lighter..."

Out of nowhere, Onodera appeared and found them, even catching Okuyasu in the act of holding a lit lighter. The itching sensation in Fubuki's body suddenly stopped and he noticed it.

"Aha! So this is where you've been!" she said, crossing her arms.

"Onodera!" both Okuyasu and Koichi said. Then they looked at each other.

Josuke raised an eyebrow. He's the only one in the group who does not know her.

"What are you four doing?!" Onodera demanded. "I bet you're all smoking, you... you hoodlums!"

Okuyasu quickly pocketed the lighter before she confiscated it.

"Nothing, we're just having lunch," Fubuki replied coldly. "We're not breaking any school rules by eating here."

"No, but there is a rule of using lighters on the school ground," Onodera told him.

"You can relax," Josuke said. "We swear we're not smoking or doing anything shady. Okuyasu here was just trying to show us a magic trick."

"Who cares?" Onodera said angrily. She turned to Fubuki. "And you. Hanging out with guys like them will only bring a bad image to yourself... and you won't be the most popular student in our class anymore."

Fubuki realized what is up with her odd behavior this morning.

"You're jealous," he said.

Onodera blinked. "Excuse me?"

Fubuki stood up and looked down at her.

"You're jealous that I'm the most popular in class," he said. "That's why you were hostile to me."

"J... just because you have the best scores out of all of us, doesn't make you number one in our school!" Onodera said angrily. "You're only smart because your rich parents can afford to send you to good schools and give you the best tutors! You never had to work hard your entire life!"

Fubuki just stared at her. "Is that what you think?"

Onodera lost control of herself and she punched Fubuki in the gut, nearly knocking the air out of him. Josuke and the rest immediately stood up to defend their friend.

"After you're done eating, go back to your classrooms immediately!" Onodera snapped and walked away.

"… Sheesh, I didn't realize she was this crabby," Okuyasu commented. "I've lost interest in her."

Koichi watched her go as he clutched his heart. "… She was my classmate from middle school."

"Huh?" Josuke turned to her. "You know her, Koichi?"

"Yeah... she joined my class in second-year. She's the smartest student in a class, and was the track & field team's star who can run 100 meters in 12 seconds flat! She was so popular that a lot of students looked up to her."

"And since I enrolled in Budo, I became more popular than her," Fubuki said. "Though I've could never beat her track record..."

"Don't take it personally, Fubuki," Koichi said. "She's actually a nice girl. She helped everyone from my old class passed their final exams. She's only crabby when she's under a lot of pressure."

Fubuki wanted to believe that, but this is the same girl who took out her pettiness and jealousy on him... just because he performed better than her in school.

Without warning, he began scratching himself again. The mysterious itch has returned.

*&*&*

After lunch, Fubuki, Okuyasu, and the rest of Class 1-A head to the chemistry lab for their fifth period. Fubuki is partnered up with the clueless Okuyasu, while Onodera is with Yukako Yamagishi. Onodera continued being polite and friendly to the teacher, while she secretly shot daggers at Fubuki when the teacher isn’t looking. Fubuki merely sees her being childish and annoying.

"Today, we’re going to experiment with nitric acid," said the chemistry teacher. "There are jars of nitric acid in the cabinet, so go ahead and pick a jar for you and your partner. Be VERY careful not to get any spilled on you!"

Fubuki went to the cabinet in the back of the room and he carefully reached for a jar at the top shelf. All of a sudden, his right arm began to itch so bad; before Fubuki can scratch, something punctured his right arm, causing blood to spurt out. Fubuki is shocked by the pain that he bumped into the cabinet and fell down on the floor. This caused many glass jars, filled with various liquid chemicals, began to fall on top of him. A few students screamed and Fubuki acted quickly.

"Purple Rain!" he called out. His Stand materialized in an instant. Purple Rain punched all the jars. The jars shattered and the broken glass just fell around Fubuki. Purple Rain managed to make the chemicals solidified so they bounce off Fubuki without hurting his skin.

"Kurosawa, are you hurt?!" the teacher asked, running over to him. "You’re bleeding!"

"What happened? I wasn’t looking," said Yukako Yamagishi, as she looked up from her chemistry textbook.

"Fubuki!" Okuyasu called, now concerned. "Hey, are you okay?!"

The teacher helped Fubuki up and wrapped a towel around Fubuki’s arm to prevent more bleeding.

Okuyasu took Fubuki to the nurse's office and a young, pretty nurse inspected the wound on Fubuki's arm.

"That is an ugly wound, but I'm more concerned with the scratch marks on your arm," she told him. "Have you been scratching a lot?"

"Yeah, all day," Fubuki replied as he sat on a stool. Okuyasu is standing behind him. "I was itching all over, I couldn't stop..."

"Where else did you scratch?"

Fubuki removed his school jacket and shirt. Okuyasu's eyes widened and he jumped back, repulsed at what he's seeing.

Fubuki's arms, shoulders, chest, and his neck are covered in some sort of blue-colored hives and raw scratch marks. The scratch marks are so deep, some already bleeding.

"Holy shit! Your body's messed up!" Okuyasu grimaced.

"I've seen this before last March," the nurse stated. "It was on the day of entrance exams and there was a hive breakout among several students from the middle school. We thought it was because they had an allergy, so we called in a doctor but he couldn't figure out the reason why the kids had them... Luckily for them, they only got better after a few days."

While Fubuki is listening to all this, he could feel his skin starting to itch again.

"Do you know how to treat this?" Fubuki asked. "I feel like this itch is going to get worse... Even my skin is burning..."

"For now, we'll use an anti-itch cream. It'll lessen the pain." The nurse turned to Okuyasu. "Can you go get a gym shirt or something? He needs to change out of his uniform."

"Yeah, I'll do that!" Okuyasu nodded. "I'll be back quickly, Fubuki!"

As soon as Okuyasu left, the nursed cleaned Fubuki's arm and wrapped a dressing around his arm. The wound is smaller than a bullet hole and Fubuki doesn't know what caused it.

Okuyasu returned with a gym uniform for Fubuki to wear. Fubuki changed into that and he laid down in one of the beds. The nurse pulled a curtain around Fubuki while Okuyasu went back to class. Fubuki could not get some rest, he was still bothered by the intense itching. He was told not to scratch it, further risking more damage to his skin.

He tried to focus on something else, like what upcoming tests he should study.

The itching eventually spread to his face and it was so unbearable for Fubuki. He opened the curtain to find the nurse is gone. She must have gone somewhere. On her table is the anti-itch cream. Fubuki got up and walked towards it. Another hole was punctured under his chin.

"Ugh!" Fubuki gritted his teeth in pain.

As he pressed a hand to the wound, he could feel something very small is wriggling under the skin of his neck. It felt like some kind of insect had burrowed into his body. The unseen 'thing' shot downwards towards Fubuki left arm. Fubuki tried to grab it, but the 'thing' makes his skin itch and burn faster upon contact. When he scratched his skin, more hives appeared on skin.

There's 'something' inside me... and it's making me itch! Fubuki thought. And it makes the hives appear when I scratch... I best stop scratching for now and just figure out how to remove this thing...

Fubuki forced himself to stop and he around for something that could cut open his skin. He opened the drawers of the nurse's desk and cabinet. He found a needle and tube that are used to withdraw and collect blood.

Now he must catch 'it'.

He grabbed his school uniform that was folded neatly and placed near his chair. However, the small water bottles inside his pockets have been taken.

Fubuki hurried outside the nurse's office and spotted a water fountain. He ran towards it when his left arm itched and burned more, causing great pain and discomfort for him. He ignored it and a few seconds later, another hole was punctured in his arm.

Fubuki bit down his scream but he reached the water fountain. To his dismay, the fountain is out of order. He could see the little 'thing' moving up to his arm and the itching became worse.

If I don't do something, that 'thing' inside my body will puncture more holes...! he thought. It's obvious by now that I've been attacked by a Stand, but who ever heard a small Stand that can enter people's bodies? If I can't find some water, I'll have to use my own...!

Before the unseen Stand can burrow deeper into his body, Purple Rain punched Fubuki's left arm and thicken his blood inside so it can trap the Stand. Fubuki is about to faint, but Purple Rain jabbed the needle into the area where the other Stand is hidden. It finally sucked the enemy into the tube and Purple Rain returned Fubuki's blood back to normal. Fubuki grabbed onto the water fountain to prevent himself from collapsing. He painted heavily so he can get a closer look inside the tube.

It is a tiny, mechanical Stand, about smaller than a paper clip, and it resembled a fairy with butterfly wings for ears and a tutu skirt around its waist. Its legs are merged into one and it resembled a screw.

The Stand is making tiny angry sounds; it was furious that it was caught and it pounded on the walls of the glass tube. Fubuki noticed the blue hives all over his body began to disappear since the enemy is no longer in his body, leaving only the scratch marks he made behind.

Now, that I caught the Stand, I could see it's a long-ranged one... similar to Angelo, he thought. The user must be somewhere in this school...

The tiny Stand inside the tube began to spin around rapidly, making a low buzzing sound. It drilled a hole at the bottom of the tube and made its escape.

"Oh no, you don't!" Fubuki yelled.

Purple Rain grabbed the Stand with both of its hands. However, it let when the Stand drilled a hole in its palm, which also injured Fubuki's hand as well. Fubuki watched as the tiny Stand flies away.

*&*&*

Outside on the school's track field, Class 1-A is having their last period for the day. Everyone is dressed in their gym uniforms and they are stretching before they run some laps. In addition to the school gym shirts, the boys are dressed in sports pants while the girls are dressed in small bloomers. Physical education is the only period where classes A and B can mix together, so Okuyasu is hanging out with Josuke and Koichi.

"… He's got all these hives everywhere, it's so gross!" Okuyasu told them, explaining what happened to Fubuki.

"Yuck, I don't want to hear this anymore," Josuke winced. "All those details make me want to itch too!"

Koichi, meanwhile, Onodera is sitting down in a fetal position close by. When he went over so he could talk to her for a bit, he noticed how sick she looked. She is trembling all over and her face is flushed with fear.

"H-he nearly caught me..." she murmured. "He finally knew about my Tiny Dancer..."

"Hey, you okay?" Koichi asked her.

Onodera flinched away, but she saw who it is.

"Koichi...?" she asked. She stood up and tried to stay calm. "H-hey, it's been a while..."

"Actually, we saw each other at lunch, but you were too busy yelling at my friends to notice me," Koichi smiled sheepishly.

"Oh, you hang out with Kurosawa and Nijimura..." Onodera looked around, fidgeting like a terrified child.

"Yeah, there's something I wanted to bring up," Koichi said. "You were kind of mean to Fubuki earlier. You usually don't strike people back in middle school..."

Onodera lowered her head so she couldn't look at him.

"If you're stressed about school, I understand how you feel."

"N-no, you don't."

"Of course, I do," Koichi insisted. "I was a nervous wreck near the final exams, but you encouraged me to do my best. In fact, that's why a lot of our old classmates looked up to you... You were tough with us, but at the same time, you were like a cool big sister to us."

Koichi noticed Onodera's face is now streaked with tears.

"Onodera, what's wrong?" he asked.

"N-nothing, I want to be alone for a bit," she sniffed.

Koichi didn't understand why but he walked away to give her space. Onodera wiped her tears away when she heard the buzzing sound of her Stand, which she called Tiny Dancer, returning to her. Onodera lifted a finger and Tiny Dancer disappeared under her fingernail.

She tried to calm herself down, but she's worried about Fubuki finding her.

Before lunch, she used her Stand to target Fubuki but she never realized he's a Stand user until she saw him summon his Stand in chemistry period. She made a terrible mistake targeting another Stand user.

This is my fault! I shouldn't have let my jealousy get the best of me... she mentally slapped herself. I just have to ignore Fubuki and pretend nothing happened...

"Kurosawa, you finally made it!" she heard the gym teacher spoke up. "I thought you're skipping out because of your hives!"

Onodera looked up and saw Fubuki has joined his class. He is wearing a track jacket to cover up the scratch marks on his arms and neck.

"I'm all better now," Fubuki said. "I'm not scratching anymore."

Onodera is panicking on the inside and avoided Fubuki's gaze. Meanwhile, Fubuki went over to his friends and told them what happened at the nurse's office.

"It was a Stand that attacked me," he said as he let Josuke heal his wounds. "There's a Stand user in our school."

"What?!" his friends said in shock.

"What does the Stand look like?" Josuke asked.

"It looked like a ballerina fairy, but it's very small and fast," Fubuki answered. "When it gets under your skin, it makes itching hives appear all over your body. And if you stop scratching, the Stand will puncture holes into your body from the inside."

"Wh-what a terrifying Stand," Koichi gulped. "How can we find this Stand user if the Stand is that small?"

"I already figured out who it is," Fubuki said.

"Wait? You did?" Josuke asked.

Fubuki was not able to reply since the gym teacher was calling for him. Fubuki has to do a single lap around the track with a nervous Onodera, who doesn't want to look at him.

As Fubuki and Onodera ready their positions and wait for the teacher's signal, Fubuki began to speak in a low voice that only Onodera can hear.

"It was you, wasn't it?" he said. "You put that Stand inside me."

"I don't… What are you talking about, Kurosawa?" she asked, trying to sound tough.

"It occurred to me that I first got this bad itch during classes in the morning," Fubuki said. He was looking ahead, but he could tell Onodera is sweating with fear. "And when you talked to me during lunch, the itching only stopped for a moment... and it became worse after you got angry at me."

"I don't know what you're talking about," she stubbornly said.

Fubuki looked at her and his glasses glinted dangerously. "Do not lie to me. Are you responsible for what happened to those students last March?"

Onodera made a small gasp and this confirmed Fubuki's suspicions. The gym teacher fired his air pistol and Fubuki took off. Onodera came after him like the wind.

Soon, Onodera managed to catch up to him and they raced together along the track.

"I wonder how would you feel..." Fubuki suddenly spoke up, while he ran beside her, "... if I use my Stand to trip you and make a complete fool out of you in front of our entire class?"

Onodera tried to ignore him and she ran faster, but Fubuki managed to keep up with her.

"It's extremely petty, but you're not innocent either," Fubuki said. "I asked around... it turns out the middle school students from last March all suffered similar itchy hives like mine... They couldn't focus on their final exams, so their final grades were only average but passable enough for them to graduate... while you remained the only student with the highest score."

"Sounds like a bad rumor to slander me," Onodera scoffed, keeping her eyes ahead. However, her heart is beating rapidly.

The two students are now halfway around the track.

"You've been using your Stand to hinder your rivals," Fubuki told her. "You can't stand anyone being better in your school. You're a pathetic excuse for a human."

"Y... you're a disgusting liar! I never did such a thing!"

"If you're being truthful, then why are you avoiding me?"

Onodera lowered her head and ran faster, trying to outrun Fubuki. She glanced up to see Fubuki has summoned Purple Rain.

"Well, Onodera?!" Fubuki yelled. "Am I telling the truth or not?!"

"Tiny Dancer!" Onodera screamed.

Her Stand manifested before Fubuki. Purple Rain tried to grab Tiny Dancer but it was too fast and small to catch. Tiny Dancer maneuvered past Purple Rain and drilled a hole into Fubuki's leg, causing him to slow down.

Onodera is close to the finish line. Soon, she can get away...

However, Fubuki wasn't finished. Purple Rain used the blood from his leg and shot straight at Onodera. The blood wrapped her legs together as a jelly-like rope. Onodera fell flat on her face. She could hear her classmates gasp in horror.

Onodera's life flashed before her eyes...


Back in middle school, she was a favorite among her teachers due to her hardworking, pleasant attitude and intelligence. She eagerly helped her classmates with their studies and sports.

However, as the dreaded final exams approached closer and Onodera's grades have already begun to slip. She began to resent some of her classmates who are doing better than her. The top student of her class now became second best. Onodera could not help become extremely bitter about it.

It was around February of this year, a month before the final exams...

"I hate this..." she muttered to herself as she walked off after school.

She had the latest test paper in her hand, and she scored a 97. It was good, but it wasn't enough for her. She already knew someone from her class got a better score than her.

"My mom's gonna freak and yell at me for coming up short again... if only those guys weren't around... if only..."

Without warning, she was struck in the chest by a strange Bow and Arrow. She remembered a young man named Keicho Nijimura telling her that she awakened her very own 'Stand'.

"You can accomplish anything with your Stand," Keicho said to her. "Why not seize this opportunity to become number one?"

Onodera was reluctant; despite her awful thoughts, she couldn't bring herself to tear down the people she befriended for an entire year.

However, she eventually gave into her darkness. On the day of the exams, she used Tiny Dancer to take down her rivals one by one. She didn't mean to hurt them, only distract them enough they couldn't concentrate.

She did get the highest score when the results came, but Onodera wasn't happy about it. She felt guilty and disgusted at herself for resorting to such dirty tactics to get ahead. None of her classmates knew about it and she's terrified of letting the truth out. So, she purposely cut herself off from everyone.

When she enrolled in high school, Onodera thought she could start over and move on from her sins... until she met a new rival and made her walk down that dark path again...


Onodera got up. Her gym shirt is now covered in dirt and she wanted to cry. She knew she deserved this, she was a horrible person after all.

She noticed someone held a hand out for her. She looked up to see Fubuki, who is no longer angry at her.

"Come on, let's finish this together," he said.

Moved by his forgiveness, Onodera took his hand and he helped her back up on her feet.

When they finished their lap, a group of concerned girls gathered around Onodera to comfort her for tripping on the track while Josuke, Okuyasu, and Koichi went to Fubuki.

"What was that about?" Josuke demanded. "We saw using your Stand and she started freaking out there! It looked like you scared the living daylights out of her!"

"She's the Stand user," Fubuki replied coolly. "But I think she learned her lesson."

*&*&*

Wednesday came. Before Class 1-A's homeroom began, Fubuki was outside the classroom, discussing with Josuke about their plans for Golden Week when Onodera approached them.

"Um... I wanted to apologize for my rude behavior," she shyly said. "You were right, I was jealous."

"Don't worry, we understand how you felt," Josuke shrugged. "Anyone would have done the same thing if they have a Stand."

Onodera blushed. Josuke and Fubuki secretly admit that she seemed sweeter when she's not being mean or pushy.

"Okay, now you apologize to her," Josuke told Fubuki.

"For what?" Fubuki asked.

"For scaring her and tripping her."

"She attacked me first."

"I don't need a gentleman, Higashikata," Onodera pouted and she crossed her arms. "You're still a hoodlum no matter what."

Josuke is taken aback by her sassy tone. "Well, excuuuse me, princess!"

"I have a name, you know," Onodera snapped. "It's Yasuho Onodera, and don't you forget it!"

Suddenly, a tired-looking Miyazaki appeared behind her. He looked like haven't slept in days and he was ready to snap someone's neck.

"Well, I hope you kids didn't forget that we--HAVE A BIG ENGLISH QUIZ TODAY!" he raised his voice so loud it made their skin crawl. "NOW GET INTO CLASS! YOU TOO, JOSUKE!"

"Yes, Sensei!" the three students bowed and ran to their respective classrooms.

"I thought you said you're not using your Stand on anyone again," Fubuki whispered to her before they go back to their seats.

"It's true!" Onodera said. "I've never even used Tiny Dancer on him!"

"Are you telling me he’s actually just in a bad mood?"

"Looks like it!"

"... I wish Golden Week is already here."

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10: Let's Go Play at a Pachinko Parlor (Not!)

On the 30th of April, which is on a Friday, Fubuki invited his friends for another study session at his place instead of the library. This time, they will just be finishing some homework instead of doing mock tests, much to the relief of Fubuki's friends. Fubuki's uncle is out doing some errands while his grandmother is at home, taking her afternoon nap in her bedroom.

When they are all done, Fubuki checked everyone's homework. All of them are sitting in the living room, with their books and papers lying on top of a short-legged table called a "chabudai".

"Not bad. I guess we're going out tonight after all," Fubuki said, without changing his usual monotone. "Although, I still think there's a lot you can improve..."

"I think we've done good enough!" His friends said quickly before Fubuki changed his mind.

Seeing he's outnumbered, Fubuki gave up. As everyone started cleaning up before they leave, he remembered something.

"Koichi, there's something I must ask," he said. "Has your egg hatched yet?"

The short student looked at him, wondering what he meant. Then he remembered.

"Oh! That weird Stand I summoned a while back!" Koichi said. "To be honest, I haven't checked yet."

"Huh? What's he talking about?" Okuyasu asked after he put away his homework.

"That's right, you haven't seen Koichi's Stand," Josuke said. "Show him, Koichi."

Koichi gathered all of his energy and strength. A huge egg surrounded by a green aura is materialized before everyone's eyes and it landed on the floor. Koichi panted and wiped the sweat from his brow.

Okuyasu took one look at the egg...

"Pfffft—BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!" he laughed hysterically. "IS THIS IT?! AHAHAHA!!"

Okuyasu fell on the floor, rolling around and clutching his sides. Josuke tried to cover his mouth, but he ended up laughing well. He even has tears coming out of his eyes. Koichi turned red in the face while Fubuki just stood with his usual stoic expression.

"Y-you guys, come on! You know the egg is not the Stand itself!" Koichi said. "Sure it doesn't do much--"

"Hey, does it hatch into a chicken or something?" Okuyasu interrupted him. He is still snickering.

"I don't know, it hasn't even hatched yet!"

"Hahaha, sorry, Koichi," Josuke giggled. He wiped his tears and cleared his throat. "But this is rather bizarre..."

"You tell me." Koichi leaned close to the egg and inspected it. "Is this normal for most Stands?"

"Not really. When I got Crazy Diamond, it came as it is."

"Same here," both Okuyasu and Fubuki added.

"Koichi, I don't want to make you worry..." Josuke said. "But this egg has no way to protect you. If there's an enemy Stand user who tries to come after you and neither of us is around to save you, you'd be a dead duck."

"Then..." Koichi gulped. "If Stands are manifestations of someone's power, there's something wrong with my me!"

"Or your Stand has a lot of growth potential," Fubuki said. "We won't know what it is until it hatches, Koichi."

"But how do I get it to hatch?"

"Easy!" Okuyasu said, getting up from the floor. "We crack it open!"

Koichi's eyes widen.

"Whoa, hold on!" Josuke said quickly. "We don't want to risk Koichi getting hurt."

"Finally, someone here is thinking straight," Fubuki said. "We'll just force whatever is inside the egg to come out."

Josuke raised a finger. "I just got the right idea!"

A few seconds later, Koichi is placed on top of the egg. Koichi looked so stupid as he laid on top with his tiny arms clinging to the egg.

"… For some reason, it looked better in my head," Josuke mumbled, tilting his head.

"Now he's a proud mother hen!" Okuyasu laughed again.

"Th-that's not funny!" Koichi whined.

Fubuki darkly mutters to himself, "I take back what I said about Josuke a while ago..."

"Lemme try my idea!" Okuyasu suggested.

*&*&*

Okuyasu placed the egg in a huge skillet over the kitchen stove. He filled the skillet with water and turned the stove on all the way. Everyone watched and waited in anticipation. Soon, the water began to boil and Koichi began to emit smoke from his nearly red body.

"Ow ow ow! STOP!!" Koichi screamed. "You're just cooking me alive!"

Josuke immediately removed the egg and place it back on the floor. Koichi breathed in relief, but he looked like he's going to crack first before his egg.

"Koichi looks so stressed," Okuyasu said to Josuke. "I didn't know hatching an egg would be so much trouble. What other options do we have left?"

"Well, we can try putting the egg in an incubator since that's how you get chicks to hatch without a mother..." Josuke said. "But we don't know where we can get an incubator at such short notice... We could make the oven into one--"

"NO! No more!" Koichi yelled as he held his huge egg protectively. "You're not touching my baby—I mean, my Stand egg again!"

Fubuki sighed and adjusted his glasses.

"Look, the only way Koichi was able to materialize it was because he was in danger," Fubuki said. "So in order for the egg to hatch..."

*&*&*

Koichi couldn't stop screaming.

Fubuki's Purple Rain is hanging a helpless and terrified Koichi outside the window. The white-and-purple humanoid Stand is holding the short student upside-down by his legs. Even Josuke and Okuyasu thought Fubuki went too far.

"Whoa! What are you doing?!" Josuke shouted.

"Relax, I'm not going to drop him," Fubuki said calmly. "Besides, we're on the second floor, the fall won't kill him. If he does get hurt, you can patch him up easily with Crazy Diamond."

"That's not the point!"

Okuyasu started shouting, "Hey! I think it's working! Look!"

Fubuki and Josuke turned their heads, while Koichi could not since he's still hanging outside. Koichi's egg on the floor began to shake a couple of times.

Everyone held their breaths...

The egg suddenly disappeared in a cloudy "poof!"

"Aw, it didn't happen..." Okuyasu said, disappointed.

Fubuki sighed and he has Purple Rain carry Koichi back inside the house and set him down gently on the floor. Once he realized he's safe, Koichi angrily slammed his fists on his friends.

"Argh, you big dummies!" he scolded them. "I was so scared I almost peed my pants!"

At this moment, Uncle Norisuke appeared. He had just returned home after doing his errands.

"Heeey, what's with the hostile atmosphere?" he asked, pulling a can of cold tea from the fridge.

"Hi, Uncle Norisuke," Fubuki said. "We're just... hanging out."

Both Josuke and Okuyasu stifled their giggles while Koichi is just so done with them. Norisuke gulped down his tea and exhaled happily.

"Ahhhh, I wished I still have my old high school buddies I can hang out with," he said. "Oh, to be young again... That reminds me, why are you all still dressed in your school uniforms? You're supposed to be on break, right?"

"We are students after all," Fubuki said, his glasses flashing. "Any good, dutiful student must behave like one as no matter what day it is."

"Also, it's very comfortable," Okuyasu added.

Norisuke then recognized Josuke.

"Hey, it's little Josuke! I haven't seen you in years!" he smiled. "How come you never visit my shop before?"

"Um..." Josuke tried to find an excuse but Norisuke just shrugged and laughed.

"Well, it doesn't matter! I'm so glad you're friends with my nephew again! I hope you boys have fun tonight!"

Norisuke clapped Josuke's back with such enthusiasm, it almost made the pins on Josuke's uniform fall off.

What Fubuki's uncle is talking about is that the four boys are planning to eat out at a yakiniku restaurant which everyone is excited to go. "Yakiniku" is a Japanese style of cooking bite-size meat and vegetables on gridirons over a flame of wood charcoals carbonized by dry distillation or a gas/electric grill. In many parts of the world, yakiniku is commonly referred to as "Japanese barbecue".

"Let me establish a few rules first," Norisuke began.

"Uncle, we're not in elementary anymore," Fubuki said. "We're just going to eat at a restaurant, that's all."

"Yeah, we're not going to party," Koichi sweatdropped.

"Yes, but you're still minors and I promised Fubuki's parents I'd keep him safe. Rule number 1, no girls... unless they're cute. Rule 2, no booze... only drink here when I'm around. And Rule 3... be careful."

Everyone nodded.

"Listen." Norisuke's expression became serious. "Since this year, some children have gone missing and only a few managed to show up dead... And last night, there's been news of some wild dog that's been mutilating stray animals."

"A wild dog?" Josuke asked, wide-eyed.

"I-I saw it on the news last night too!" Koichi said.

"Yeah, so I want you four to be cautious of where you go, especially around strangers or some dangerous-looking animals," Norisuke said. Then he eased up and put his relaxed smile once more. "I wish I could come along too, but I have a date with Sachiko tonight!"

"… Who's Sachiko?" Koichi asked, confused.

"She's a fictional character from a TV drama," Fubuki told him. "Apparently, it's a popular series watched by middle-aged women and single men."

"You mean that melodramatic piece of crap?" Josuke said. "I can't stand it after the first few episodes. Also, the female lead is rather mean."

"I'll have you know Sachiko is an intelligent woman who has complex issues!" Okuyasu protested. "There's a reason why she can't be open to her boyfriend, and you can tell how much it hurts her to pretend to be cold to him because she doesn't want him to be entangled in her personal mess!"

"You watch Sachiko too?!" Norisuke asked Okuyasu.

"You bet! I watch it every night before going to bed! Did you see yesterday's episode?"

While Fubuki and Koichi watched Norisuke and Okuyasu chatter about the TV drama like the excited fans they are, Josuke thought he saw a pair of pale feet going up the stairs to the attic. Curious, he silently followed the strange person upstairs and he came up to a door. He could feel a cold chill going down his back but he wanted to know what's inside the room. He was about to turn the doorknob when Fubuki stopped him.

"What are you doing?" Fubuki quietly demanded.

"I thought I saw someone going up here," Josuke replied.

"There's no one else up here," Fubuki said. "And I seem to recall telling you that my room is off-limits. Come on, let's go before my uncle decides to adopt Okuyasu."

However, Josuke still felt there is something off about Fubuki's bedroom. He hoped those pair of pale feet he just saw doesn't belong to a ghost... the thought of it makes him shiver. Josuke followed Fubuki's downstairs and he quickly forgot about it.

*&*&*

The yakiniku restaurant is packed with people who are on vacation from work during Golden Week. While Fubuki and his friends wait to be served Koichi looked up and noticed someone has entered the restaurant. He waved an arm at them.

"Hey! Mr. Jotaro!" he called.

The others looked up to see Jotaro walking to their table.

"Hi," he greeted them. "Didn't expect to see you here."

"You're gonna eat here, aren't you? So, um... wanna join us?" Josuke asked shyly.

Jotaro thought about it. He wasn't actually planning to eat here, but he changed his mind and accept Josuke's offer. A sleepy-looking male server took the group to a booth table. Josuke and Fubuki sat in one side while the rest sat in the other, with Koichi squeezed between Jotaro and Okuyasu.

Their server gave everyone a menu. "What would you like for your drink?"

"We'll all have tea," Jotaro said.

Okuyasu looked over the menu and whispered to Koichi. "I don't want anything spicy. I'm bad with that stuff!"

When the server left, everyone fell into an awkward silence, trying to think what to say to Jotaro. They are a little intimidated by this tall, cool-looking man. Except for Fubuki, who is reading one of his books he brought with him.

"Come on, there's no need to be shy around me," Jotaro said.

Fubuki is the first to speak up. "What brings you here?"

"I'm doing my investigation," Jotaro replied.

Koichi looked up. "Were you able to find any leads about Red Hot Chili Pepper yet--?"

There's a loud snap. Everyone at the table turned to see it was Okuyasu; his face has darkened and in his hand is a broken pair of chopsticks.

"O-Okuyasu?" Koichi gulped.

"Unfortunately, I haven't found anything on him yet," Jotaro replied.

"How come you can't find him?!" Okuyasu suddenly yelled.

"Take it easy, man," Josuke said. "You're gonna cause a lot of commotion."

Josuke is right. Okuyasu's shouting did make a few nearby guests to turn heads before they went back to eating and talking.

"I understand what you're feeling, Okuyasu," Jotaro said. "As much as I want to catch him as you do, Red Hot Chili Pepper is a crafty Stand. The user hasn't killed any new victims so far, and he knows he can't do that while I'm still here. For now, we must remain vigilant in case he pops up."

Okuyasu lowered his head, brooding, and his hands formed into fists. The server came back and took their orders, which lifted Okuyasu's mood. Josuke, Fubuki, and Koichi realized mentioning Red Hot Chili Pepper is a hot-button issue to their friend.

Minutes later, everyone merrily chatted over various meat they cook over the grill. In Jotaro's case, he just ate and listened in silence. He watched Okuyasu made Koichi ate some spicy beef that nearly burned his tongue while Josuke tried to make Fubuki put his book down for once. A wave of sadness washed over Jotaro... this atmosphere almost reminded him of all the times he ate all kinds of exotic meals with his companions during their 50-day trip.

"Mr. Jotaro, are you alright?" Koichi asked. "You seemed so far away."

Jotaro noticed everyone is staring at him and he lowered his cap. "… I'm fine."

*&*&*

Everyone came out of the restaurant, completely satisfied. Okuyasu and Koichi decided to head home early while Josuke wanted to hang out more with Fubuki.

"I have to study," Fubuki said.

"You have plenty of time do that for the rest of our break," Josuke said. He wrapped an arm around Fubuki's shoulders. "Come on, we hadn't hung out together with just the two of us."

Fubuki closed his book and sighed.

"Your stubborn eagerness wins this round," he said.

"Josuke, Fubuki. I need to speak with you two for a bit," Jotaro called. He is standing by the entrance of the restaurant they just left.

The three of them walked a good distance so there is no one around to hear them.

"Can you care to explain to me more about that Stand user you met the other day?" Jotaro asked.

"You mean Onodera? She's my class president," Fubuki replied. "Her Stand is Tiny Dancer and it doesn't do much other than going inside people's bodies and make them itch uncontrollably."

"You don't have to worry about her, Jotaro," Josuke said. "She promised us that she wouldn't use her Stand to hurt anyone again."

"Does she know anything about Red Hot Chili Pepper?" Jotaro inquired.

Josuke rubbed his neck. "She said she doesn't know anything... The only Stand users she recently knew about are us four."

"If this Onodera is a Stand user... There's a possibility that there are other Stand users in your school."

"You think so?!"

"I did not mention this before, but Red Hot Chili Pepper's user made an anonymous phone call to my hotel room a couple of weeks ago," Jotaro said. "When he was talking, he slipped that he was a student because he mentioned exams and finding a job."

"That means we have to narrow down places that hire students for part-time work," Fubuki said.

"That's a good idea!" Josuke said.

"I thought of the same thing too," Jotaro said. "I've also considered the possibility that Red Hot Chili Pepper stopped going to work once he got his Stand. But you'll never know... So keep an eye out in school for anything suspicious. There are both good and bad Stand users all around you, and many won't go easy on you."

"Hahaha... I've already seen that with Angelo and Keicho," Josuke chuckled badly.

"Red Hot Chili Pepper isn't actively seeking us out like Angelo, nor hiding somewhere and waiting for us to come to him like Keicho," Fubuki told him. "He's eluding us and playing us for fools."

"So then... what do we do?"

"Isn't it obvious? We continue hunting," Jotaro replied seriously. "When the natural world can't bring Stand users to justice, it's up to us to exercise justice and make them pay for their crimes."

Josuke stared at Jotaro with revered awe and Fubuki nodded in understanding. After they parted ways with Jotaro, Josuke literally dragged Fubuki to the pachinko parlor. They arrived at the establishment which has a colorful sign. The moment they opened the door, Fubuki was stunned by the noise volume, like a pressure wave hitting him in the chest. The parlor looked like a mix between a casino and an arcade. Tonight is very crowded and busy and filled with smoke.

The owner is pleased to see his regular customer and showed Josuke and Fubuki their seats.

"I hate this place," Fubuki hissed.

He cannot stand this unbelievably loud place; it sounded like a train station if one were lying down on the tracks as the train was rolling over them. Fubuki thought he could go deaf if he stayed in here for too long.

"Where's your sense of adventure?" Josuke smirked. "I used to win big prizes here."

"Uh-huh. And how many hours did you play?"

Josuke ignored him started playing. Fubuki reached into his pocket for one of his water bottles. Using Purple Rain's ability, he made two "ear-buds" out of the water and stuffed them in his ears. He sighed with relief when the sounds have been muffled.

Josuke casually looked away from the pachinko machine when he saw someone entering the parlor. It is Detective Yanagimoto, who is looking around to catch any high school students who are playing in this establishment. If he catches Josuke here, not only he will kick him out but call his mother.

"Great... Just when I was getting started," Josuke said. "Let's scram, Fubuki!"

Josuke jumped out from his seat. He then noticed Fubuki didn't hear him at first. He grabbed Fubuki by his arm and forcibly pulled him. This made Fubuki lost his concentration and the 'water earbuds' reverted back to normal.

"Hey! What are you--?!" Fubuki yelled.

Fubuki's shout alerted Yanagimoto, who turned his head and spotted a couple of male high school students fleeing. He followed them in rushed pace, so not accidentally bumped into anyone.

"Crap! He noticed us!" Josuke yelped. "And I forgot where's the exit in the back! Let's hide for now!"

Josuke saw two bathrooms up ahead. He was about to run inside the boys' bathroom when Fubuki stopped him.

"No!" Fubuki said, pointing to the other bathroom. "This one!"

"But that's for ladies!"

"… And your point is?"

Fubuki just pulled Josuke inside the girls' bathroom despite the latter's protest. Luckily, there was no one inside. The two boys went inside the last stall at the end. Josuke carried Fubuki in his arms and climbed on top of the toilet, just in case the policeman came in and looked under the stall for their feet. Josuke's face is pressed against Fubuki's; being this so close allow them to smell each other.

Wow, where did he get this? It's amazing! Josuke thought as he sniffed Fubuki's cologne. Is that French vanilla I smell?

Ugh, his hair...! Fubuki wrinkled his nose. It's too strong, I'm gonna puke!

Several minutes later, they heard the bathroom door opening and Josuke recognized the heavy footsteps.

"He's in here!" Josuke whispered, sweating in panic. "I can't believe I'm gonna get caught inside a girls' bathroom!"

"Shut up," Fubuki hushed him.

They could hear Yanagimoto began opening the bathroom stalls one by one. Every time reached closer to the last stall, Josuke's heart pounded faster.

Suddenly, the heard a woman scream followed a slapping sound.

"GET OUT, YOU PERVERT—Oh! D-Detective Yanagimoto?!" the woman said. She quickly closed the door of her stall. "I'm so sorry! The door is loose and I thought--"

"No, it's me who should apologize," Yanagimoto said. "I was looking for some high school students who might have run in here. I must have made a mistake, so I'll leave."

"I'm sorry for slapping you again!"

Josuke grinned at the thought of seeing a red hand mark on Yanagimoto's face. He and Fubuki waited for the policeman to leave. Then it was the woman's turn. Soon, Josuke and Fubuki came out of the stall once they're alone in the bathroom.

"Phew, that was close!" Josuke said. "Scariest moment of my life so far!"

"Did you just... sniff me earlier?" Fubuki asked, his pale face now scarlet.

"What I was supposed to do? Anyways, you look like a guy who'd wear nice cologne."

Fubuki huffed and looked away, and he crossed his arms to cover his chest and armpits.

"It's nothing to be embarrassed about!" Josuke protested. "I mean, combined with your handsome looks, your cologne would surely attract a lot of chicks..."

This offended Fubuki for some reason that he completely turned away from Josuke, who didn't understand why his friend is suddenly giving him the cold shoulder. Josuke gave up trying to convince his friend and he's no longer in the mood to play pachinko tonight. First, he's going to use the toilet stall they just came out from to take a quick leak.

The nerve of him... calling me handsome... Fubuki thought icily. And then he smells me—who does that?

As he thinks more about it, he began to feel electrically charged for some strange reason.

"Hey, Fubuki," Josuke spoke up again.

"What?" Fubuki didn't mean to snap. "You want to make fun of me again?"

"Alright, jeez! I was gonna apologize to you."

Josuke unzipped his pants and began to pee into the toilet. That was when Fubuki heard a disembodied sobbing of a little girl. She sounded terrified as though someone is hurting her.

"M-Mommyyy… I’m burning up… it huuurts...!"

Fubuki turned around and the crying continued for several seconds until it stopped abruptly.

"Hello?" he called out.

"Who are you talking to?" Josuke asked, still peeing. "There's no one else here except us."

Fubuki checked through each stall but he saw no one.

"Are you sure you didn't hear that, Josuke?” Fubuki demanded. “I know I heard a little girl crying just now."

"Knock it off! If you're trying to scare me, it's not funny!"

The sobbing started again. This time it came from the stall Josuke is using. Fubuki peered inside. There, sitting on the floor and just barely hiding behind the toilet, appeared to be an unknown object.

Fubuki quickly reached for it, surprising Josuke at the same time.

"Dude!!" he yelled, zipping up his pants. "What are you doing?!"

Fubuki picked up a small, wooden box and showed it Josuke. He doesn't understand why or how, but he knew this is where the girl's sobs are coming from.

"What is that?" Josuke asked.

"A box, obviously. Made of cherry wood," Fubuki replied. "I think someone must have placed it there."

"Well, put it back. They'll probably come back and look for it."

"Aren't you even curious why they kept it hidden here?"

"It probably contains drugs or something. Let's go before someone comes in here."

Fubuki just stared intensely at the box in his hands. The color is rich in reddish-brown, and it looked so smooth and finely crafted. There is no lock on the box, but there is a lid which looked like it can be pulled open from the top. He noticed the box is rather lightweight but he could tell there is something inside. Why did that little girl's cries lead him to find this box?

Fubuki carefully opened the lid.

Inside the box is a pile of ashes mixed with baby teeth and charred fragments. The box is almost filled with it. What caught their eyes is a hauntingly beautiful postcard lying on top of the ashes. Josuke picked up the card and inspected it. He turned it over and found words written on the back. He and Fubuki read them together.

"Marika. Six. Her bones and teeth. She loved to play with her ball."

Josuke's face turned white when he realized what exactly the ashes inside the box are. Even a cold chill went down Fubuki’s spine.

"They're human remains…!"

*&*&*

The two teenagers quickly alerted the owner of the pachinko parlor, who called the police.

Detective Yanagimoto wasn't pleased to find Josuke and Fubuki in the pachinko parlor, but he is grateful for them for finding Marika's cremated ashes.

"She had been missing for at least a month," he gruffly said.

The three of them are standing outside of the establishment. Police officers have closed the building for investigation and are preventing any civilian from entering. Even the owner is being interrogated.

"This is so freaky…" Josuke mumbled, still horrified.

"Freaky is an understatement," Yanagimoto said. "These murders have been linked to numerous cases of children who have gone missing for the past three years, and we still couldn't find the criminal."

Josuke's jaw dropped. "Three years?! You’re kidding!"

"What were you two doing inside the women’s bathroom?"

"We didn't do anything wrong," Fubuki insisted. "We saw you come in, so we ran inside to hide from you."

"I knew you damn brats were here earlier!" Yanagimoto suddenly yelled. He stopped and composed himself. "I apologize… just the thought of a sick criminal still out on the loose makes me see red…"

"Um… c-can we go now?" Josuke stammered, now shaken.

"Go ahead, we're done here. Be careful on your way home."

Josuke and Fubuki hurried away. Neither of them spoke until they reached Josuke’s home. It is a full moon tonight and the moon is blocked by dark clouds. The atmosphere is chilly and ominous.

"I'm gonna have nightmares after seeing what was in that box," Josuke quietly said they reached the front door of the Higashikata house. "I heard stories about these murders, but that’s still messed up."

"Josuke… do you remember me saying that I heard a little girl crying in the bathroom?" Fubuki asked. "Call me crazy, but… I think that was her spirit reaching out to me…"

Josuke looked at him.

"Okay, you're crazy. Are you telling me you heard a ghost?"

"It's impossible to explain, but I don't deny it."

"C-come on… you're usually the most rational guy I know. You must have been hearing things!"

Have I? Fubuki wondered to himself. I know I did hear her crying, it was clear like daylight. But then why didn't Josuke hear her too? Could I be hallucinating again… like I did last year? And if what I heard was real, WHY was I the only who heard her?

"… Yeah. I guess you’re right, Josuke."

After saying good-night to Josuke, Fubuki headed straight home by foot.

As he walked alone, he thought he sensed a dark presence behind him… the same one he felt back in the Morioh Library long ago. He knew someone, or something, is following him.

He turned his head but there is no one else around.

*&*&*

The story of Marika's cremated remains being found came on the late evening news. Luckily for Fubuki, his and Josuke's names were not mentioned to keep their real identities safe. Marika's mother is shown sobbing when she finally learned what happened to her missing daughter.

Fubuki could not focus on studying so he went to bed instead. He opened his window to let in the cool breeze. The discovery of a dead girl's remains shook him so much; the murderer might have not been a Stand user, so this shouldn't concern Fubuki so much. He should just let the police handle this.

And yet, he couldn't get the image of Marika's ashes and teeth inside the box. Not only someone killed a child, but they burned her body completely to ashes. Then they placed her ashes inside a box as a mocking way of telling the child's family that the murderer saved them the trouble of burning their dead. Since all the evidence have been burned with the child, the police would have no way to find any traces that would help them catch the murderer. Not even any fingerprints that were left on the wooden box.

Whoever they are, they are not even human, he thought. 'Monster' seemed more fitting for them...

Around after midnight, Fubuki heard a loud scratching on his door. He sat straight up and put on his glasses. The light of the full moon poured through the window of his bedroom. The scratching continued and someone tried twisting the doorknob.

"Who’s there?" a half-asleep Fubuki asked. "Is that you, Uncle Norisuke?"

Nobody replied to him and the scratching stopped. Fubuki waited for ten minutes, and whatever woke him seemed to be gone.

Fubuki went back to sleep, wondering if he just imagined about it.

Ten more minutes later, his door was pushed open. Very slowly, creaking like a coffin. The talismans that were hanging on the door slipped off.

In the doorway is a shape of a dog with dark fur and a long scruffy tail. It looked way bigger than an ordinary dog. Its large yellow eyes glowed like fire. Its footsteps are silent as jt crept towards Fubuki and climbed on top of his bed. Fubuki frowned in his sleep, feeling hot breath on his face.

Its long, soft tongue licked Fubuki’s face. Fubuki's eyes shot open and he came face-to-face the animal that is crouching on top of him.

It is a wolf.

Fubuki is nearly petrified from shock when he remembered he has a Stand.

"Purple Rain!"

The moment he summoned Purple Rain, the wolf ran away instead of attacking him. Fubuki (after untying his feet) tried to follow the wolf downstairs even though he's still in his pajamas. He saw the back door of the shop has been forcibly opened; this must have been how the wolf got inside. Fubuki ran outside of his uncle’s home, but the wolf was already long gone.

Fubuki heard the wolf howling in the distance. He believed this wolf must have been the one responsible for killing several stray animals.

"First, the cremated remains of a murdered girl in a pachinko parlor’s bathroom… and now an actual wolf in Morioh," he muttered, still in shock. "This town… has gotten interesting."

*&*&*

Golden Week ended and it was time to go back to school.

Fubuki was still thinking about the wolf that invaded his home and frightened him. When he tried to report this to the police, they dismissed him. They told him the last wolves in Japan have been extinct for nearly a century and any sightings of a "wolf-like animal" is basically a domesticated dog gone wild.

However, Fubuki knew what he saw that night.

At school, he decided to tell this to his friends during lunch. He found them at their usual spot behind the gym, and Josuke and Okuyasu were comforting a gloomy-looking Koichi.

"What happened to him?" Fubuki asked.

"Some jerk named Tamami Kobayashi tried to hustle him this morning," Josuke explained. "We scared him off, but he took all of Koichi's money with him."

"Talk about a bad first day to come back to school after the break," Okuyasu commented.

"Also, he's a Stand user," Josuke added. "Apparently, he makes heavy locks attach to your body if you feel guilty about something... He's kind of a joke when you think about it, using his cheap-ass Stand to steal money from people."

Koichi moaned and buried his face in his hands. "There goes my seven thousand yen for my gym sneakers..."

"God, Koichi, why are you such a wimp?" Fubuki asked coldly.

Koichi turned to him, taken aback by his words.

"Fubuki!" both Josuke and Okuyasu gasped.

"Someone has to say it," Fubuki said. He jabbed his finger at Koichi's chest. "The reason some con artist got away is that you let him walk over you in the first place. It's no wonder your Stand hasn't hatched from your egg."

Okuyasu punched Fubuki in the face to make him shut up. Josuke had to stop him before he pummeled Fubuki until he's unrecognizable.

"Shut your mouth, you weren't there!" Okuyasu said angrily. "Lay off Koichi, why don't ya?!"

"No, he's right... I am a wimp," Koichi sighed and lowered his head. "How can I even stand up to another Stand user without anyone's help?"

"Koichi..." Josuke murmured.

Fubuki rubbed his jaw and wiped some blood from his lips. He forgot how quick to anger Okuyasu can get.

"Anyways, I have something more important to tell you..." he began.

He told them about the wolf that came into his bedroom on the last night of April. When he was done, Koichi and Okuyasu are spooked, except for Josuke.

"Yeeeaah, there's a little problem about your story, Fubuki..." Josuke said as he rubbed his neck. "We don't have any wolves close Morioh. There hasn't been a sighting of wolves for over a hundred years."

"You don't believe me," Fubuki stated.

"No, I believe you, it's just that... Are you sure you weren't dreaming about it?" Josuke asked. "You were probably still shaken after finding that dead girl's ashes and your imagination made it real to you..."

"I know what I saw. It even licked my face."

Koichi squealed in terror before clinging onto Okuyasu.

"Okay, that's enough," Josuke said. "You need to step back and get some rest. You've been staying up too many late hours for your studies."

Fubuki glared at him. He picked up his bento and walked away. Okuyasu started crying out to him come back.

"Wait, don't go!" he shouted. "At least lemme taste some of your delicious-looking lunch first!"

Fubuki ignored him and went back to his class. He knew nobody will believe him, but he tried his best. Yet... he wondered if he is actually hearing and seeing things that are not there. He thought for sure his condition would no longer resurface once he started living in Morioh again.

<-- To be continued. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 11: Surface and Whistle

Koichi surprised his friends the next day by having the con artist named Tamami Kobayashi not only follow them all the way to school, but also carry Koichi's schoolbag for him.

"Master Koichi! If you ever get tired, I can carry you on my shoulders!" Tamami said, bowing like he's some kind of servant. "Do you want me to shine your shoes? Or get you a drink?”

"What is going on here?" Fubuki asked the others. He just joined up with them.

Koichi explained to him the best he can: Yesterday, Tamami arrived at Koichi's home in order to steal from his family by placing his Stand's locks on Koichi's mother and sister. Tamami being a sneaky slime and taking advantage of his family gave Koichi the spirit and willpower he needed to hatch his Stand, which he called "Echoes".

"What do you think?" Koichi asked as he materialized his Stand before his friends. "P-pretty neat, huh?"

Echoes appeared to a green larvae-like creature with a set of small wheels and a large serpentine tail. Koichi explained that while Echoes is weak, its strange power easily subdued Tamami.

Koichi demonstrated this by having Echoes write a word "ring" in Katakana on the sidewalk. Immediately, sounds related to the words are produced.

"RIIING~! RIIING~! RIIING~!"

"Whoa!" Okuyasu and Josuke shouted in amazement.

"It sounds like an actual telephone," Fubuki said in awe.

Koichi blushed, feeling happy to be praised.

"The volume of the sounds may vary, but they will increase the longer the sound is activated," he added.

"Now you see why Master Koichi is the best?" Tamami said.

"Yeah, we got it," Josuke said. "But I always knew Koichi had it in him to have an interesting Stand."

"Thanks, Josuke," Koichi said. "I'm glad you believed in me... unlike someone else here."

Fubuki raised an eyebrow, realizing who the short student is referring to. "When did you become a smartass?"

"Just now," Koichi smirked, feeling a bit smug.

Okuyasu whispered to Josuke. "Not only Koichi got a new Stand but his new, spiky hairstyle matched his new confidence. He’s suddenly a cool guy."

At that moment, a car came driving past them and splashed dirty water onto Koichi's pants.

"AUGH! Oh, nooo!" Koichi wailed in shock. "My expensive pants!"

Tamami eagerly got down on the ground and tried to clean Koichi's pants with his handkerchief.

"Don't worry, Master Koichi!" he said. "I'll take care of this!"

*&*&*

When they reach the school gate, Josuke, Okuyasu, and Koichi went ahead to their classes. Tamami was about to leave when Fubuki asked him a small, but important favor.

Next Monday arrived without any further incidents related to Stands. However, their brief period of peace came to an end when Tamami showed up at the school gate when classes have finished for the day. Josuke and his three friends came up to him.

"Hey, it's you, Tamami," Josuke said, looking at him suspiciously. "What are you doing here at our school?"

"And why are you standing around and ogling at cute schoolgirls like a creep?" Okuyasu demanded. "You're not planning on something nasty again, are you?"

"I was the one who asked him to come here," Fubuki told them. "I asked him to dig up any information about more Stand users in our school."

Koichi is surprised. "You did?"

"It wasn't easy, so you better be thankful!" Tamami said. "But I did find your new Stand user... Two, to be exact."

He pulled out two photographs and gave them to the students. The photographs showed two different boys and they appeared to be short in stature, around Koichi's height.

The first has long, straight dark hair and dark-colored upper eyelids. He is wearing a school uniform with the character "" along the collar and several belts spread vertically down the chest- mirroring a straitjacket.

The second boy has lighter hair and freckles. He is wearing a dark bandanna and a modified uniform, which has a pin in the shape of a zodiac symbol stuck to the front.

"They're both like me... they became Stand users after Keicho Nijimura shot them with an Arrow," Tamami said. "Now, the creepy-looking guy is Toshikazu Hazamada and he lives pretty close by. He's enrolled as junior in Class C. The other guy with a headband is Umeta Kitano, he's in second year in Class D."

"And you're sure they both go to our school?" Josuke asked as he and his friends examined the photos.

"Hey, you're the one that's gonna go and investigate and make sure, got it?" Tamami said, frustrated. "If you want to get the Bow and Arrow, one of them is sure to have it."

Josuke and Fubuki looked at each other and are thinking the same thing; there's a good chance one of these two boys is the true identity of Red Hot Chili Pepper's user, but they need to approach the suspects with caution.

"Is there any reason why you think they're Stand users?" Koichi asked Tamami.

Tamami moved closer and lowered his voice to a whisper so nobody else can overhear him.

"Alright, don't freak out, but... it's about this Hazamada," he said. "This happened back in March... Apparently, he and his buddy had a falling out over something trivial. Seems the friend dissed Hazamada's favorite idol or anime or something. And the fight supposedly died down after a while, but... that night, the friend he was arguing with gouged out his own left eye with a mechanical pencil."

This freaked out Josuke and Koichi. Okuyasu squirmed as he imagined it, while Fubuki remained calm though still disturbed about what he just heard.

"It's crazy, right? I hear Hazamada's friend said this in the hospital..." Tamami continued. "He said, 'when I came to, I was staring at my eyeball in my hand with the only eye I had left'..."

"That's enough!" Okuyasu flinched. "I don't wanna hear this anymore!"

"So you're saying this Hazamada ripped out his friend's eye with his Stand?" Josuke asked.

"That could be what happened here!" Tamami said. "But there's no sure-fire way to find out. Remember, the average person cannot see a Stand."

"What about the other guy?" Fubuki asked.

"Kitano? He's a member of a gang of delinquents who called themselves the Black Zodiac Gang," Tamami answered. "They're a bunch of violent kids who earned a frightening reputation since their first year of High School. Luckily, the leader is currently suspended after being in a fight, so you can investigate Kitano safely."

Tamami looked around to make sure he's still not being overheard.

"Last February, he had a crush on this girl, but she rejected him. He didn't take it well. Now, the girl didn't lose an eye like what happened to Hazamada's friend... But on the following night, the girl's neighbors have heard a lot of screaming coming from the girl's home. When the police are called, they found the girl hiding inside her closet, covered in her own blood. She used a screwdriver to stab both of her ears until she went deaf... She said 'the sounds' wouldn't stop no matter how hard she tried to block them out."

"Eeeek!" Okuyasu flinched again. "That's almost as painful as painful with the gouged eye story earlier!"

"Sounds? H-hold on!" Koichi spoke. "You mean there could be a Stand who could produce similar to my Echoes?"

"This is no time to feel bothered about that," Fubuki said.

"I don't know..." Josuke shrugged. "All of this seemed rather fishy."

This remark seemed to insult Tamami.

"I don't know who do you think you are, but you got no right to say that to me!" he yelled. "I got a real job now, you know!"

"A real job? Took you long enough," Fubuki commented sarcastically.

"You're actually working now?" Koichi asked.

"Of course, I am!" Tamami smiled. "I managed to land myself a sweet little gig in finance."

"Wow, that's amazing!" Okuyasu said. "I didn't know you were hired at a bank!"

Fubuki smacked himself on his forehead, so done with Okuyasu's obliviousness. Even Josuke and Koichi are embarrassed by him.

"Okuyasu, that's code for loansharking..." Koichi told him.

Okuyasu realized it. "Wha... you're still collecting money like a dirty rat!"

"Hey, it's a legitimate business this time!" Tamami snapped. "You think can just say shit about me like that, huh?! You think you're hot shit, huh?!"

"You wanna fight, you midget punk?!" Okuyasu yelled.

"Hey, cool it, you two," Josuke said. "Tamami's stories about these new Stand users are weird, but they're worth looking into."

He looked back towards the school campus where there are still students hanging around for club activities or meeting with their friends.

"Hazamada and Kitano are probably still lurking around somewhere in school."

"I've been standing here for a while, but I haven't seen either of them leave yet," Tamami said. "I just remembered something else. Last year, Kitano is a member of the photography club. Maybe you can find him there."

"Since there's two of them, we should split up into two groups," Koichi suggested. "We'll cover more ground that way."

"That's a brilliant plan," Josuke said. "I guess that means you and I will find Hazamada then."

"Then that leaves... us," Fubuki said slowly, realizing he's partnered up with Okuyasu. He is not exactly pleased with this result while Okuyasu is excited.

*&*&*

Fubuki and Okuyasu went to the second floor where the several clubs are taken place. They learned the photography club has been disbanded since the beginning of the semester, thus rendering Tamami's information useless.

Luckily for them, Fubuki asked around and learned Kitano and his gang have a couple of hot spots around the school. One is by the incinerator, and the other one is...

The high school gym storage room is located near the school's swimming pool and is inside the same building with the shower rooms. This is where the sports equipment and mats are neatly stored away.

Fubuki and Okuyasu saw the door to the storage room is strangely unlocked and slightly opened ajar. They silently moved inside and the first thing they noticed is the storage room is dark, so Fubuki turned on the light switch.

After a quick look around the room, they both come to the conclusion that Kitano isn't here.

"Let's go and check the incinerator again," Fubuki said. "I wonder if Josuke and Koichi are doing fairly well with their investigation..."

"Psst!" Okuyasu said. "Somebody's coming!"

They heard two people talking outside the storage room. Fubuki and Okuyasu tried to find somewhere to hide instead of waiting to be caught.

They crouched behind a rack full of basketballs. Seconds later, Umeta Kitano and his companion entered the storage room.

The other boy is also a delinquent, and he is much taller and more muscular than Kitano. He has pierced ears and short hair with a cross-bone bald spot on the crown of his head. On his uniform is a pin based on the Sagittarius symbol.

Kitano seemed to be stressed about something because he started grabbing the uniform of the other boy.

"Are you even listening to me, Ozu?!" Kitano demanded. "You gotta help me out!"

"Yeah, I get ya!" the delinquent named Ozu said. "But we promised our Big Sis that we're not getting into any stupid fights!"

"We're just doing a favor for Big Sis! After all, she would be so thrilled once she hears that we got rid of Jotaro Kujo!"

The mention of Jotaro's name caught Fubuki and Okuyasu's attention.

"… Look, the job has to be done today!" Kitano continued. His face is sweating. "Red Hot Chili Pepper told me that Jotaro will start cracking down on Stand users like us if we don't get rid of him quickly!"

Okuyasu's eyes flashed with anger.

"He said Red Hot Chili Pepper...” he growled.

"Calm down," Fubuki whispered. "I didn't expect Kitano's buddy to be a Stand user too. If they decide to go after Jotaro, we have no choice but to stop them. Two against two doesn't seem so bad."

"But I don't even know this Chili Pepper dude!" Ozu complained to Kitano. "This is your problem, so take care of this yourself, you coward!"

Ozu stomped off, leaving Kitano alone.

"Take care of Jotaro, he says..." he grumbled. "It'll be easy, he says. Argh!"

Kitano kicked the rack of basketballs with immense force.

"Ouch!" Okuyasu cries in pain.

The metal rack had bumped his upper lip so hard that it caused it to bleed. Kitano's eyes widen when he realized there is someone else in the room. He spotted Fubuki and Okuyasu behind the basketball rack.

"Y-you’re with Josuke Higashikata!" he squeaked in terror, his face gone white.

"I see you're familiar with us, so I guess there's no need for introductions," Fubuki said as he stood up. "We already heard everything, about your plan to go after Jotaro. We have a few questions to ask you..."

Kitano tried to run away, but Okuyasu summoned his Stand. The Hand swiped down and warped Kitano back to them.

"Wh-wh-what?! Huh?!" Kitano blinked. "But I was near the door...?!"

Okuyasu knocked Kitano out with a punch to his face.

A few minutes later, Fubuki's Purple Rain splashed some water into Kitano's face. Kitano woke up to find himself sitting on a chair. However, he is tied up with jump ropes. Fubuki and Okuyasu are standing in front of him. They are still inside the gym storage room.

"Aaah!!" Kitano cried, his eyes bugged. "What do you want from me?!"

"Shut up!" Okuyasu snapped and slapped his face.

"Okuyasu, stop!" Fubuki said, holding him back. "That's not how we interrogate him!"

Kitano's fear immediately disappeared the moment he was slapped. Now, he's pissed at both of Josuke's friends.

"Forgive my rash friend," Fubuki said, adjusting his glasses. "Look, we don't want to hurt you, we just want to ask you a few questions... But we need your cooperation."

"Ha! Do your worst, shitbrains!" Kitano yelled. "You'll never make me talk!"

*&*&*

Meanwhile, on the other side of the school, Koichi is on a look-out while Josuke inspects Toshikazu Hazamada's locker. From looking at the many objects stored inside, Josuke can tell Hazamada is in the tennis club and he reads a lot of mangas. He hasn't found the Bow and Arrow so far.

He grabbed a long piece of a wooden object and he nearly jumped back when he realized it belonged to a strange human-sized mannequin inside the locker. He thought it was a Stand for one moment, but it was just a real object.

Why would this freak have one of those wooden figures they sell in art stores? He wondered. Does he draw or something?

"Hey," Koichi called. He is sweating nervously. "If the Bow and Arrow aren't in the locker, hurry up and put everything, and fix the locker! If anyone catches us, we're gonna be in big trouble!"

"Yeah, I know..."

Josuke is staring at the doll's hand when it suddenly began to morph into a real human hand...

A smoky explosion burst from the locker which forced Josuke back. Koichi rushed over to see what caused the sound.

The smoke cleared and the two schoolboys saw a smug Josuke sitting casually inside the locker. When the real Josuke had touched the mannequin, it transformed into him.

"Well, I guess this pretty much proves it... Hazamada is a Stand user!" Josuke said.

The Stand climbed down from the locker and stared down at Josuke and Koichi. Ito the boys, it was different looking at themselves at a mirror—it felt so uncanny and almost disturbing. The Stand has a screw on its forehead, but that's about it; it seemed impossible to tell Josuke and the copycat apart.

"This is just great," Josuke said. "You've got some nerve, turning into me!"

The copycat just smirked at him.

"You've heard of Perman, right?" it asked in Josuke's voice.

"I-it talks!" Koichi gasped. "And it sounds just like you, Josuke!"

"You know the copy robot from Perman?" the copycat Stand continued. "Don't you think it'd be convenient to have one?"

Josuke is confused. "Koichi, what is he talking about? What the hell is Perman?"

The Stand glared at him, as though Josuke has offended him.

"You haven't heard of Perman?! I can't believe it! Are you sure you're Japanese?!"

"That's enough! I'll be the one asking the questions around here!"

Josuke was about to attack him when the fake Josuke lifts his arm, which Josuke replicates beyond his control.

The Stand chuckled nastily.

"I must warn you, I'm the kind of copy doll that people don't want to have," it said. It lowered his hand sunk its fingers to its face. Josuke is forced to copy the Stand's movement and his fingers dig so deep into his skin, he began to bleed. "Once it copies you, you'll mimic all of its movements. Which means it's not a puppet... it's a puppet master!"

"Koichi, watch out!!"

The Stand then violently elbowed Koichi by using the real Josuke's arm, propelling through a door. Enraged after seeing Koichi all bruised and bloodied on the floor, Josuke summoned Crazy Diamond but the mannequin Stand is out of its range.

Crazy Diamond tried to throw a pen at it with immense force, but the mannequin catches it easily.

"This Stand's name is Surface," the mannequin said. "By possessing a doll, it has gained a physical form... which means even normal people can see it. I can't help but show off a bit."

"You..." Josuke growled.

The Stand then throws the pen at Josuke, forcing him to catch it and point it toward right eye. As the pen edges closer to Josuke's eye, the mannequin continued talking.

"Let me tell you what I want," it said. "What I want is Jotaro Kujo to leave our town. He's an outsider. He has no business sniffin' around here. I might have to kill him."

Josuke struggled to stop the pen slowly sinking into his right eye socket.

"A little birdie told me that his 'Star Platinum' can stop time for a second or two," Surface said. "There's not a single Stand user among us who can get close to him... Except for Surface, now that it's copied you, Josuke. So, I'm gonna have to ask you to stay put for a while. After all, I have to be the only 'Josuke' who approaches Jotaro."

From the corner of his eye, Josuke caught a glimpse of Hazamada hiding behind the last locker. He has been watching this confrontation the entire time.

"I'm gonna beat the shit of you, Hazamada!" Josuke yelled.

Surface pushed the pen down. The squishing sound of Josuke's eye being pierced is heard and Josuke collapsed. Hazamada then revealed himself, smirking with new confidence with his Stand's abilities. Even if Surface did not sever any nerves, Josuke will be able to see again... if he's lucky.

"Hey, pick up my bag," Hazamada ordered. "It's time to start our hunt for Jotaro. With these two idiots down, the only ones we have to worry are Fubuki and Okuyasu, but I think they're already preoccupied with someone else."

"This should be easy then," Surface stated.

However, unbeknownst to them, a "squash" sound has been planted on Surface's head by Echoes.

*&*&*

Back inside the gym storage room, Fubuki and Okuyasu are standing a good distance away from Kitano, who is still tied up in the chair.

"He must know who Red Hot Chili Pepper is," Fubuki told Okuyasu in a low voice. 

"Argh, the mention of that bastard who killed my big brother...!"

Okuyasu punched his fist at a wall. His knuckles started to bleed. Fubuki took Okuyasu's injured hand and looked deep into his eyes.

"I don't blame you being angry," he told him. "I was the same as you when Angelo murdered my cousin... but I need you to stay focused. We have to find out what Kitano knows."

The gentle touch of Fubuki's hand and his voice calmed Okuyasu down a bit. He stared into Fubuki's eyes for a moment.

"Hey, what's with the mushy gaze?" Kitano called maliciously. "Are you planning a wedding?"

Provoked again, Okuyasu raised a fist but Fubuki stopped him.

"How do we get Kitano to talk?" Okuyasu demanded.

"I saw this standard procedure done in a lot of cop shows. We'll settle this Good Cop, Bad Cop way."

This got Okuyasu excited. "Heeey, that's a good idea! I call Bad Cop!"

"Of course, you're Bad Cop," Fubuki sighed, rolling his eyes.

Fubuki and Okuyasu returned. Okuyasu walked right up to Kitano and slapped the delinquent again.

"Ow!" Kitano cried.

"Okuyasu, you're supposed to ask him a question first," Fubuki said.

"Oh, right," Okuyasu said. He gave Kitano a dirty look. "You! What color are my socks?!"

He slapped Kitano again. Fubuki pulled Okuyasu aside.

"You know what, let me do the talking," he said. "If he still refuses to talk, you can manhandle him."

"Yeah! 'Cuz that's the best part of being Bad Cop!"

They returned to Kitano, who is more annoyed at them than afraid. Fubuki pulled up another folded chair and sat in front of Kitano.

"I apologize for my partner here, it's hard to control him," Fubuki said in an attempt to sound smooth and friendly. "Kitano, is it? We can do this the easy way or the hard way, so why not make things easier for all of us? You tell us what we know, and we'll let you go."

Kitano scoffed. Fubuki pulled out a bottle of water from his pocket and opened the cap.

"You must be thirsty, you want some?"

Kitano could tell his throat is seriously dry but he just stared at the bottle with suspicion, wondering if Fubuki had slipped something into the water.

"You drink it first," he said.

Fubuki drank the bottle first. Seeing that it is safe to drink, Kitano lets Fubuki pour water into his mouth. Kitano is relieved and smacked his lips.

"Refreshing, huh?" Fubuki smiled a little. "Let's continue. Now we know you're working for Red Hot Chili Pepper. Does the name sound familiar?"

"Never heard of him."

"Don't lie to us!" Okuyasu yelled into Kitano's face, grabbing the other boy by his uniform. "We overheard you talking about him! Tell us who and where he is, or I'll feed you to the sharks!"

"Aaah!!"

"Spill it! Where is he?!"

"That's enough," Fubuki said, holding back Okuyasu. "Sit down."

Okuyasu threw one last dirty look at Kitano. "We're not done yet, shrimp toast!"

He then stood in the side. He crossed his arms and continued to look menacing. Fubuki turned to Kitano.

"You better confess now, because it's going to get worse for you if you keep stalling."

"I got a question," Kitano changed the subject. He put on a mocking smile. "You called that crazy idiot your 'partner' earlier. Is he like an actual partner or your boyfriend?"

Fubuki stared at him. He leaned in very close and answered with a straight face...

"He's the Good Cop."

Okuyasu blinked in bewilderment. "Wh-what?"

"What?!" Kitano is shocked as well. Then his smile dropped when he felt his bladder is extremely full. "Sh-shit, I gotta pee!"

"You seemed to know who I am, but you don't even know about my Stand's power," Fubuki said coldly. "When I offered you water to drink, Purple Rain has already touched it."

"Wh-what did you do to meee?!" Kitano wailed as he pressed his legs together. He appeared to be in a lot of discomfort as he tried to hold himself from pissing in his pants. "And why do I wanna pee so baaad!!"

"I increased the urine inside your bladder... and it should be hard like jelly by now. You can't piss, even if you forced yourself."

Fubuki stood up and removed one of his shoes. Then he pressed his foot against Kitano's pelvis and slowly pushed it. Kitano moaned in agony and large sweat drops appeared on his forehead.

"You want to pee so bad?" Fubuki asked in a dangerous, soft voice. He twisted his foot and pressed harder. "I could let you do it now. But you're going to ruin your pants, you disgusting bug."

Okuyasu stared at Fubuki, speechless and terrified by his sadistic method of interrogation.

"I thought I was supposed to be the bad cop..." he muttered.

"Okay, I'll talk!" Kitano screamed. He was close to tears.

Fubuki released his foot and put his shoe back on. Kitano is glad the pressure is lifted, but he still felt like his bladder is about to burst at any moment.

"Last night, I was playing my video game at my house," Kitano began. "Suddenly, this crazy electric Stand just popped out of my TV. He called himself Red Hot Chili Pepper and he wanted me to get rid of this Jotaro Kujo guy. Though, that big jerk fried my game console when he left. But that's all I know about him!"

"What is your Stand?" Fubuki asked. 

They heard a noise outside. It sounded like a siren of a firetruck. Fubuki did not think much about it and continued interrogating Kitano. Okuyasu listened to the siren and noticed the sound is growing louder.

"Is there a fire in our school?" Okuyasu wondered.

"Answer the question, Kitano," Fubuki demanded.

However, the firetruck siren had grown so loud that it drowned Fubuki's words.

Without warning, the sound of a bomb exploding was heard right outside the storage room. It was so loud and powerful that the ground trembled.

"What the...?" Fubuki cried.

He and Okuyasu ran out to inspect the commotion. Kitano struggled and fell out from the chair. A pocket knife slipped out from his uniform. He reached for it and grabbed it by his teeth.

Outside, Fubuki and Okuyasu saw several students, who are doing their club activities, have gathered around and are shouting in confusion.

"What was that explosion right now?!"

"It just appeared out of nowhere!"

"Hey! Wasn't there a firetruck siren earlier? Maybe the explosion was from a gas leak!"

Suddenly, a machine gun was fired into the air. The students screamed and ran, some even ducked for cover. Okuyasu wildly looked around for the attacker.

"Where is he coming from?!" he screamed. "Fubuki, we gotta find cover before we get shot!"

"Something's not right," Fubuki said. "All these sounds are extremely, but we didn't see anything that made them."

Okuyasu looked up and his mouth opened in shock.

"Fubuki! Over there!"

Fubuki looked up to where Okuyasu is pointing. Hovering in the air is a small Stand that resembled a metallic hummingbird. Its beak has holes, almost like a flute.

The Stand flew above their heads. Fubuki and Okuyasu turned around and found Kitano outside, after freeing himself by cutting the jump ropes.

"I can't believe you fell for my Whistle's distraction!" Kitano grinned. "I'd love to stay, shitbrains, but I got an appointment with Mr. Jotaro Kujo!"

The two schoolboys summoned their Stands to attack Kitano. The latter quickly stuffed cotton balls in his ears.

The new Stand, Whistle, released a loud, high-pitched whistling sound. This made Fubuki and Okuyasu stop in their tracks and cover their ears in pain. It even caused several glass windows to crack and then shatter. Okuyasu tackled Fubuki to the ground and the flying glass shards pierced him instead.

Whistle stopped making its noise and disappeared. Kitano then used this chance to flee.

In Australia, there is a type of songbird with an extraordinary ability to accurately mimic a huge variety of sounds, Kitano thought to himself. Whistle can do the same thing by imitating some sounds I heard from my TV and I control the intensity of the volume. Ozu thinks it's worthless... Hah! It's all up to how you use your Stand!

Kitano noticed his pants are getting heavily damped. He stopped when he saw that he peed himself.

"UGH! Shit, I forgot about this!" he wailed.

He tried to hold himself from pissing any further. He even cupped his groin. He cannot go into town in his wet pants. He remembered it was Fubuki who forced him to experience a full bladder torture and that is why he's urinating without control.

"I swear... if I end up wearing a diaper because of this," he snarls, "I'll kill him!"

Back with Fubuki, he is lying on the ground. He is slightly disoriented and his ears are throbbing in pain. A glass shard from the shattered windows managed to sink deep into his left arm. As he tried to adjust his vision, the first he noticed is one of the lenses of his eyeglasses is cracked. He felt a huge weight on top of him; it was Okuyasu, who used his body to shield his friend. More glass shards pierced his arms, shoulders, and back.

"Okuyasu!" Fubuki cried and sat up. "You protected me?"

"Heh, we're friends after all," Okuyasu smiled, despite having bloody cuts on his face. He started wincing once the pain settled in. "Yeeeouch, I got them all over me!"

Fubuki is touched by Okuyasu's bravery... then he got angry at his stupidity.

"You big idiot, you could have used your Stand to erase the glass shards that were flying towards you," Fubuki scolded him. "And now you got hurt because of your slow thinking."

"Ow, man, lay off," Okuyasu whined. "You're not the one covered in glass!"

Fubuki wanted to smack him but he lowered his hand.

"I'll thank you later for protecting me," he said, his cheeks almost blushing. "Kitano is getting away."

"That's right!" Okuyasu said, standing up despite his injuries. "I'm gonna make that little bastard pay! Where did he go?!"

"Quite easy," Fubuki said as he adjusted his half-broken glasses. "We follow the trail he left for us."

He pointed to a trail of small yellow puddles on the ground.

"Wait... is that..." Okuyasu burst out laughing that tears came out from his eyes. "BWAHAHAHAHAHA IS THAT HIS PISS?! OH MY GOD!!"

"Apparently he couldn't help relieve himself now that's out of Purple Rain's range," Fubuki said. "He can't have gone far, we have to follow him before he changes out of his pants."

"Yeah! Let's follow the Yellow-Drip Road! Ahahahaha-ow!!"

Okuyasu stopped laughing when Fubuki pulled his ear for making that awful pun.

*&*&*

Meanwhile, Surface and Hazamada used one of the many public phone booths in the school to call Jotaro at his hotel. Surface, who is pretending to be Josuke, tells Jotaro about a new Stand user and wants to meet him at the train station. Surface and Hazamada then leave the school together.

They crossed paths with Tamami, whom Surface knocks out with a brick. They continued along when they crossed paths with a bunch of girls from the high school. They all happily greeted the fake Josuke while ignoring Hazamada.

"We'll catch you later, Josuke~!"

"See you tomorrow!"

"Yeah, take it easy!"

"Bye, Josuke! Have a good evening~!"

"Why are all these schoolgirls only saying goodbye to you?" Hazamada grumbled in frustration. "No one ever says stuff like that to me when I leave school for the day. Ugh, who cares? There are only ugly bitches in the school anyways..."

"Higashikata!"

Surface stopped. The one who called him was Yasuho Onodera and she walked up to him. She handed him a textbook.

"Someone told me that you left this behind in your class," she scolded him and wagged her finger at him. "Honestly, you're so careless!"

Hazamada's eyes widen when he saw Onodera switch to a different harsh but cutesy personality. She glared at Surface with a soft blush on her face.

"I-I only gave it back to you because you're Fubuki's friend, and..." she stammered, still trying to sound mad but failing. "And n-not because I suddenly like you. S-so don't get the wrong idea, got it?"

Onodera then ran away, now blushing harder than ever. Hazamada snatched the textbook from Surface's hand and furiously ripped the pages out.

"Goddamn it!" Hazamada snarled. "What the hell makes a jerk like you so special anyway?!"

"What's your deal?" Surface asked. "Now's not the time to be lagging around, you know?"

"How dare you speak to me that way!!"

Hazamada punched Surface in the face and there's a wooden "clunk" sound.

"Damn! It hurts!" Hazamada cried in pain, holding his bleeding hand.

"You okay, stupid?" Surface asked sarcastically. "I'm made of wood, remember."

"Shut up! Get away from me!!"

Resuming his walk toward the train station, Hazamada wiped his hand on a motorcycle, which infuriates two male bikers. The bikers started laughing and making fun of the schoolboy. Hazamada, forgetting his job to take out Jotaro, made Surface karate chop one of the bikers' head in revenge. Once he was taken out, Surface restrained the other biker. Hazamada broke the biker's nose and then pulled out a box cutter with the intent to cut the biker's mouth.

Before he could do so, a glass shard is suddenly thrown at them. Surface easily caught it. Hazamada gasped when he saw Josuke and Koichi across the street, who has managed to catch up to him.

"J-Josuke Higashikata! What the hell?!" he said. "Even the shrimp is still alive!"

He did not understand how Josuke's eye wasn't gouged but he ordered Surface to control Josuke. Josuke used Crazy Diamond to repair a bottle around Surface's hand, cutting it off. Once it is separated from the main body, the hand inside the bottle returned back to wood. Josuke and Koichi use that distraction to get away.

"It's not going to turn back into hand anymore!" Surface said. "This isn't good, Hazamada!"

"Settle down! Just pretend you have your hand in your pocket!" Hazamada said. "More importantly, Jotaro should arrive at the station at any minute now. As much as I'd like to get rid of Josuke, we don't have time to waste tracking him down!"

*&*&*

Back at the school, Fubuki and Okuyasu followed the trail of urine to boy's bathroom on the second floor.

"Do you think he went inside there?" Okuyasu asked.

"The other kids we passed by said they saw him went up here," Fubuki replied.

They went inside the bathroom. The floor is flooded with what appeared to be water, but it has a strange, strong scent. The only closed stall is at the far end of the bathroom. Inside that stall, they could hear Kitano whimpering.

"Shit! I can't believe I pissed my pants!" he cried. "This is all Fubuki and Okuyasu's fault!"

"He's in there!" Okuyasu whispered. "Let's get him!"

"Hold it," Fubuki stopped him. "This may be a trap. Remember those sounds we heard earlier and they distracted us? His Stand might have something to do with them... He might be hiding somewhere else to trick us."

"Ohhh, I get it," Okuyasu nodded. "Then if he's not in any of the stalls..."

He and Fubuki silently walked towards the supply closet at the end of the bathroom. Okuyasu waited before kicking down the door. He was suddenly blown away by a large exploding sound and he fell on the watery floor.

"Okuyasu!" Fubuki screamed.

Whistle flew out from the closet. The door of the closed stall opened and Kitano was seen crouching on top of the toilet.

"Hahaha! I can't believe you shitbrained suckers fell for that!" he laughed. "This is what happens when you mess with the Black Zodiac Gang!"

Fubuki summoned Purple Rain.

"Whoa, before you do anything, why don't you pause and smell the room closely?"

Fubuki sniffed the air and noticed a strong scent coming from the 'water' on the floor. Even Okuyasu can smell it.

"Hey, this almost smells like lighter fluid!" Okuyasu shouted.

"Correct!" Kitano said as he climbed on top of the wall of the stall. "On my way here, I managed to grab a couple cans of lighter fluid from the groundskeeper's closet near the incinerator. Then I mixed the fluids with some the water and spilled them all over the floor. You two are the ones who pushed me to do this!"

As soon he reached the top of the stall. Kitano pulled out a lighter.

"You shouldn't have made me piss my pants! Now, all your high school dreams will go up in smoke!"

"Are you an idiot?!" Fubuki yelled at him. "You'll burn up too!"

Kitano realized Fubuki was right and but it was too late. The moment he lit the lighter and he accidentally dropped onto the floor. He lost his balance and fell down. The floor was set aflame and it began to spread to all corners of the bathroom. The fire alarm is turned on.

Fubuki jumped on top of the sink to protect himself and saw Okuyasu and Kitano covered in flames. He acted quickly and used Purple Rain to punch all the taps. Strong jets of water shot out and doused all the flames. Okuyasu and Kitano are both safe though they are drenched.

Kitano thought he could make a break when Purple Rain knocked him out.

"Jeez, he was annoying to fight," Fubuki said as he helped Okuyasu up. "At least he's been taken care off."

"Aw, man," Okuyasu winced. He's covered in more injuries. "Let's go find Josuke so he can fix me up with Crazy Diamond."

The two left the bathroom quickly. A few seconds later, their teacher Miyazaki and another teacher looked inside the extremely flooded bathroom while the fire alarm is still going on. They only found the unconscious Kitano lying on the floor.

"What on earth happened here?!" Miyazaki said, wide-eyed.

*&*&*

When they could not find Josuke or Koichi anywhere, Fubuki and Okuyasu believed they must have left. As soon as they left the school gate, they found them returning with Jotaro behind them.

"Oh, my gosh! Okuyasu, what happened to you?!" Koichi cried when he saw Okuyasu covered in cuts and burns.

"Where have you guys been?" Fubuki asked. "We just took out the new Stand user Kitano."

"We just defeated Hazamada," Josuke answered as his Crazy Diamond healed Okuyasu.

Josuke and Koichi explained that they managed to reach the train station before Hazamada and Surface did, by making Echoes mimic the sound of a train's siren and forcing Hazamada into taking a longer path.

Hazamada tried one last desperate attempt to control Josuke afar through a window of a store. Josuke nearly stabbed Jotaro in the back with a pen when Hazamada is interrupted by the bikers he had threatened earlier. While the bikers drag the powerless Hazamda into an isolated place for a well-deserved beating, Josuke destroyed Surface with Crazy Diamond.

"I can't believe you kids managed to take care of these two new Stand users without my help," Jotaro said. He sounded almost impressed. "Though I wished you told me about them sooner."

"Sorry. But we wouldn't have known about them without Tamami's information," Josuke said. "I guess he was pretty useful."

Koichi agreed. "I wonder where Tamami is, I should thank him if he comes here again."

Unbeknownst to the group, someone is taking photographs of them from afar with a camera. Once he got what he needed, the stranger in the shadows walked away.

<-- To be continued. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 12: Let's Go Find a Club to Join!

Before Fubuki left Spider Threads for school on this very early morning, his uncle is in the shop and is in the middle of a conversation with a customer.

"How's the wife and kid, Kawajiri?" Uncle Norisuke asked with a big smile.

"… Same as usual," said a man, who appeared to be a salaryman with dark eyes and spiky hair. "Is my suit fixed?"

"Yeah, it's in the back."

Uncle Norisuke was about to go fetch it when he saw his nephew who was almost at the door.

"Fubuki, there you are!" he smiled. "Before you go, could you go to the back room and bring me Mr. Kawajiri's suit first? It's inside the box on my table."

Fubuki sighed and went to get the box from the back room. Mr. Kawajiri opened it to check his white suit inside.

"Thank you," he said.

"No, problem!" Norisuke said with an OK sign. "Anyways, when is Shinobu's birthday again? You gotta surprise her with something romantic, like a dinner for two. And then later in the evening, ravish her like a new bride."

"… It was two days ago. I forgot about it."

Norisuke covered his mouth and made an awkward cough.

"Okay, I just got an idea to make her less angry," he offered. "I know this place..."

"Look, stop trying to fix my marriage, Norisuke," Mr. Kawajiri said. "There's nothing else I can do. Now, how much do I owe you?"

Since his uncle doesn't have any more favors to ask him, Fubuki left the shop. Mr. Kawajiri left soon afterward. Another customer arrived at Spider Threads and it is a young man wearing a jagged headband and a pair of pen earrings. Norisuke immediately recognized him.

"Ooooh my god! I can't believe you're in my shop!" he exclaimed. "I read your manga! Mother, come down here! You're not going to believe who's here!"

*&*&*

It is the next day after both Hazamada and Kitano are defeated. At the Higashikata household, Okuyasu is leaning against a wall outside of the bathroom. He is waiting for Josuke to be finished.

"I'm off now!" Tomoko announced just as she was about to leave for work. "Hey, Okuyasu, make sure you get my son's butt to school in time."

"Will do!" Okuyasu smiled. "Have a nice day, Ms. Higashikata! Hurry up, Josuke! We're gonna be late!"

"Just a sec, Okuyasu!" Josuke said from the bathroom. He is hastily brushing his pompadour. Under his right eye is a bandage which is used to cover the pen wound he was forced to inflict on himself after being controlled by Surface. "I've almost got it!"

After he is done, he grabbed his school bag and both boys are now on their way to school.

"Remind me to buy more hair gel after school, okay?" Josuke said. "You don't get a masterpiece like this without a little bit of elbow grease."

"We wasted a half an hour for your 'masterpiece'," Okuyasu said anxiously. "If we're late for school, I'm gonna be mad!"

"Hey, it's not late at all. We'll be getting there early. Since when have you wanted to hurry to school?"

"S-so, what? Wh-what's wrong with that?" Okuyasu suddenly stammered. "I... I'm always late or arriving barely on time, so today I'm making up for it!"

Josuke raised an eyebrow but he grinned.

"There's something you're not telling me. You got a date, don't you?"

"I do?" Okuyasu said in surprise. Then he became flustered. "Wait a minute—No, I don't!"

"You DO got a date! Admit it, who's the unlucky girl?"

"Zip it, Josuke!"

They arrived at the school gate. Fubuki and Koichi are waiting for them. Koichi is reading a small newspaper.

"You're right on time today, Okuyasu," Fubuki said after checking his watch. "You should be aware by now that I'm not merciful. When I get I want, I go hard."

"Uuugh, I'm in for it now..." Okuyasu groaned.

"F-Fubuki?! You're dating Fubuki?" Josuke sputtered. "Is this really happening? Hey, what do you mean by 'not merciful' and 'go hard'? What exactly happened yesterday while Koichi and I were going after Hazamada?"

Fubuki adjusted his glasses and narrowed his eyes at the teen. "What are you saying now, you indolent macaroni?"

"It's not like that, Josuke," Koichi said. "Fubuki is tutoring Okuyasu for the English test this Friday."

"Ah, I get it now!" Josuke said, chuckling with relief.

"If you want to be more prepared..." Fubuki huffed. "You are welcome to join us."

"No, thanks. Your mock tests are way too hard."

"Hard? Don't be absurd, I was just warming up."

"Hey, Koichi, is that yesterday's student newspaper you got?" Okuyasu, pointing at the paper. "If you're done with it, can I use it?"

"Er, you don't wanna read this, Okuyasu..." Koichi gulped, pulling the paper away from him.

Budogaoka High School has its own newspaper called Budogaoka Report created by the School Newspaper Club. A typical issue has eight pages and is published weekly on Tuesdays. The paper is delivered to each class to feature news and student opinions related to the school and other announcements for upcoming events. The last page usually has a joke article, a couple of puzzles, and a comic.

"Come on, I wanna read what hilarious story they have this week!" Okuyasu insisted.

"We have a test to study, Okuyasu," Fubuki reminded him.

"Don't worry, I'm gonna make this quick!"

Okuyasu managed to grab the newspaper. When he read the last page, his mouth is agape in disbelief.

"Calpis Water Turns Normal Student into a Violent Thief"

There is a picture of an embarrassed Okuyasu who has his hand stuck inside the vending machine. Okuyasu continued reading and his friends did the same thing:

"If you're familiar with American sayings, you might have heard of 'getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar'. This week's story is more of 'getting caught with your hand inside the vending machine'.

Okuyasu Nijimura is just your average dumb-looking freshman and punk, but is that there all there is to him? Last week during lunch hour, Nijimura got his hand stuck inside the vending machine and had to be rescued by a teacher. Nijimura claimed he was trying to get some 'Calpis Water' but the vending machine did not drop his drink after it accepted his money. However, an eyewitness (who shall not be named) said Nijimura already got his own can of Calpis water, and he was trying to steal another can instead for paying for it. Nijimura was also seen yelling expletives at the vending machine, which made nearby female students faint with horror.

Students who drink Calpis water should run the other direction if they see Nijimura. Just to be safe in case Nijimura starts resorting to knocking them out and stealing their drinks instead."

"What is thiiis?!" Okuyasu bawled. "Why would they write this mean stuff about me?! That never happened!"

"But... you did get your hand stuck inside the vending machine," Josuke said.

"He did?" Koichi asked, surprised.

"Yeah, I was there. What exactly happened is that the vending machine accidentally dropped two cans instead of one," Josuke explained. "We thought of putting one back... and that's when Okuyasu got his hand stuck. So we decided to keep the extra can since it's free."

"That part is true, but I wasn't trying to steal anything! Everything else is a lie!" Okuyasu cried. He clung to Fubuki and buried his face on his shoulder. "Fubukiii! You believe me, right?"

"No touching," Fubuki said, which made Okuyasu back off. "Besides, isn't this supposed to be a joke article? Nobody is going to take it seriously and it will soon be forgotten."

"Yeah, but it felt rather mean-spirited..." Koichi said.

*&*&*

In Class 1-A, English teacher Miyazaki is back in a good mood again. He is wearing a big smile on his face. His are constantly shut, narrowed into slits. Fubuki wondered if he ever opened his eyes before.

"Guess what? I bumped into my sempai the other day!" he said at beginning of class. "I met him when I joined the Music Club, and I haven't seen him since I graduated high school. He's a boring salaryman now, but I remember he used to be so funny—he used to run away from me whenever he sees me, hehe."

The entire class just sweatdropped.

"Anyways, let's finish up Oedipus and work on other stuff before our test this Friday," he said. "Also, a reminder to those who aren't in school clubs yet... Go and check out which club suits you, but remember: you're part of that club for the rest of your high school years, so choose carefully. But you can quit anytime you want... Don't tell anyone I said that!"

As the entire class progress normally, something flew inside the room through the open window. Its buzzing sound alerted the students.

"Kyaaaah!! A bee!"

"Eh?! Where?!"

"Someone take it out!"

"Don't let it sting you!"

Everyone is screaming and freaking out, that some jumped out of their seats as the bee flew around the room. The only students who remained calm are Fubuki and Yukako. Yukako is just annoyed at everyone acting like little children while Fubuki just continued reading the lesson from his book.

"How can you read so calmly at a time like this?!" Okuyasu shouted while the bee zipped past him.

Miyazaki screamed in terror and ducked under his table. "Eeeek! Help us, teacher!"

"You ARE the teacher!" someone snapped.

"... Oh, yeah! That's right, I forgot! Everyone, stay calm!" Miyazaki yelled over his terrified students. He rolled up his textbook. "I'll take care of it!"

"Aaah! It's on Onodera!"

Onodera froze. From the corner of her eye, she spotted the bee resting on left polka-dot ribbon. She is so paralyzed with fear she couldn't speak.

"Hold still, Yasuho..." Miyazaki said as he inched closer to it.

He raised the textbook. He swung it hard and the bee flew off. Onodera was struck in the face instead. Then she cried when she felt a sharp pain on her arm.

"IT STUNG ME!"

Miyazaki chased after the bee as it zoomed towards Fubuki. The bee was inches away when Fubuki slammed the book he is reading down hard on his desk. He lifted the book to reveal he actually managed to squash the bee.

Fubuki sighed coolly and fixed his glasses.

"Shall we continue with the class?" he asked.

"Yaaay, Kurosawa!" some students cheered. "That was so cool!"

"Well, that was... brave of you," Miyazaki said in awe.

However, Onodera started sniffing as a red welt began to appear on her arm.

"Uh-oh. That looks like an allergic reaction," Miyazaki said. "Yukako, take her to the nurse's office quickly. Everyone else, return to your seats. Good thing I got rid of that little pest, huh?"

"You did NOT!" his students yelled at him.

"I regret calling him 'cool' before..." Fubuki mumbled as he removed the dead bee from his desk.

*&*&*

Lunch period came. In their usual hangout, Josuke, Fubuki, Okuyasu, and Koichi are discussing various clubs they should join.

"Guys, we should all join the Swimming or Basketball Club," Okuyasu suggested. "We'll be extremely popular with girls."

"Sports clubs are not for me," Fubuki said with his arms crossed. "I could check out the Shogi Club, Uncle Norisuke taught me how to play it. On the other hand, the Literature Club is looking for new members... They have four girls right now, and I don't want to be the only guy. They'll eat me up alive."

"I don't know... Writing poems seems challenging," Okuyasu muttered.

"How weird, I thought you'd go for the Music Club," Josuke said.

Fubuki stared at him suspiciously. "... Why?"

"Well, you obviously play the piano."

"Just because I did something in the past," Fubuki says in a chilly manner, "doesn't mean I'm going to do it again."

"I got an idea!" Okuyasu said. "Instead of picking a club, we should make our own instead!"

"Don't feel like it..." Josuke mumbled, feeling extremely lazy. "Too much work..."

"I think it's a fantastic idea," Fubuki said, his eyeglasses shining. "There's already four of us. That's enough members to start a new club and keep it going. But what club we should make?"

"A gaming club!" Okuyasu suggested.

Josuke perked up. "I like your idea already."

"Y-you just want an excuse to hang out!" Koichi chided. "Video gaming is not even considered a sport!"

"I don't play video games," Fubuki added. "They're for children."

Josuke and Okuyasu gasped, as though they have been offended. They looked at their friends with absolute disgust.

"There's not a single club that seems interesting," Koichi sighed as he goes through a list of clubs. "It's too bad the Photography Club is disbanded, I hear you're allowed to go on field trips. I could play it safe and join the Art Club instead... What do you think?"

"Art Club is decent, we could check it out together."

"Ha!" Josuke scoffed. "You can't draw, Fubuki."

This took Okuyasu and Koichi by surprise.

"Really?" Okuyasu almost laughed. "There's something that Fubuki is BAD at?!"

"I... I can draw," Fubuki stammered.

"Then let's see you draw something right now," Josuke taunted him.

"Alright, I will. Someone, give me a piece of paper."

Koichi handed him the list of clubs. Fubuki picked up a pen, but he paused before his pen touched the blank back of the paper. He did not want to appear like an incompetent loser in front of his friends, so he forced himself to draw the best he can...

Unfortunately, the result was too ugly that it cannot be explained in words.

"What is that supposed to be?" Okuyasu whispered.

"Maybe that's a horse?" Koichi said. "But the face is too long and the mouth is off-center. The eyes are kinda too big."

"... It's supposed to be the Mona Lisa..." Fubuki grumbled.

Josuke burst out laughing and Okuyasu joined him. Fubuki is now blushing with anger.

"Y-yeah, well... You can't sing!" he snapped.

Josuke stopped.

"Do it, Josuke. Let's see you sing something right now."

"Hey, you can't just make people--"

"Oh no, you made Fubuki draw!" Koichi said. "Now you sing!"

The pomp-haired teen burst out into a song but his tone is too off, it sounded so awful. Everyone covered their ears and winced.

"A whole new wooorld, a new fantastic point of viiieeew! No one to tell usNo, I can't sing!" Josuke blushed and looked away, embarrassed.

"Oh god, it's over," Okuyasu said. "It sounded like someone kicked a dying cat."

Fubuki lowered his voice and whispered to him and Koichi. "One time, he sang for his mother on her birthday, the neighbors thought there was a murder being committed at his house and they almost called the police."

"Shaddup!" Josuke yelled.

At this moment, Ichikawa from Fubuki and Okuyasyus class appeared.

"Found you~!" she said. "Hey, Josuke, there's someone at the gate looking for you."

"Ooh, I wonder who it is?" Josuke said, getting up. "I'll see you guys later then!"

Josuke headed to straight to the school gate and he is surprised to see Jotaro waiting for him. A few school girls ogle at this tall, handsome man in white but Jotaro ignored them.

"Hey, what's up, Jotaro?" Josuke asked. "What brings you here?"

"Hazamada has regained consciousness," Jotaro informed him. "We have to ask him if he knows anything about Red Hot Chili Pepper. Come on."

"But, I still got classes—You know what, never mind that! Let's go!" Josuke said excitedly as he followed Jotaro. He snickered to himself. Hehe, this gives me a chance to skip Social Studies this afternoon!

*&*&*

School ended and Fubuki is checking out the clubs alone. Okuyasu is doing cleaning duty for Class 1-A, and Koichi has a change of plans.

Fubuki turned up his nose at other lesser-known clubs for manga and black magic. He found a room next to the library. As he opened the door, he was met by a bright camera flash that blinded him a little.

"Welcome to the School Newspaper Club," a boy spoke in a high-pitched and nasal voice, as though he was someone as an annoying know-it-all. "However, if you're here to join and become a member, I'm afraid I have to turn you away. The club is run by only one person and that's me, because that's how I work. But if you're here to tell me some recent, juicy gossip, then I'm all ears."

Fubuki's vision became clear. He saw a skinny teen with dark, curly hair. He is wearing cat-eye sunglasses and two armbands. On the collar of his uniform is a pin in the shape of a newspaper.

The classroom has a long covered in papers, pictures and pencils, and a desk with a computer next to a printing machine.

"Ahh, I didn't expect my visitor to be Mr. Perfect himself, Fubuki Kurosawa," the club leader mused. "Come and take a seat, I apologize for flashing my camera at you. I bought a new one and I was testing it out."

Fubuki reluctantly sat in a chair. The club leader pushed some papers out from a desk and sat on top it, just across from Fubuki.

"My name is Takamasa Mizoguchi, I'm a student from Class 2-C," he introduced himself. "I've been attending Budo since Middle School. I hear you moved to Morioh from S-City, so let me give you a brief history of this school and the Newspaper Club."

"You really don't need to..." Fubuki began.

Mizoguchi snapped his fingers loudly, shutting Fubuki up.

"It's not cool to interrupt me!" Mizoguchi said. "As I was saying... You probably heard that this private school has an 85-year-old established history. The middle school was integrated with the high school only twenty-two years ago... That's the same year the first issue of the school newspaper was published. This club was started by a former student named Kai Harada, who would later graduate and become anchorman of Morioh Radio. I would like to become famous like Kai Harada one day and I will do anything for a good scoop. Speaking of which, would you like to do a small piece for the Budogaoka Report? That is—if you have no objections?"

"Um..." said Fubuki.

"Excellent." In one second, his fingers had Fubuki's upper arm in a surprisingly strong grip. He steered Fubuki to the end of the classroom and opened a closet. "Let's see now..."

He opened the closet and pulled out a red notebook and tape recorder. He pushed Fubuki into another chair and handed him a small microphone. He put in a fresh cassette into the recorder and, with a pencil and notebook in hand, leaned toward Fubuki.

"So, Kurosawa... what made you decide to come to our little town of Morioh?" he asked.

Even though Fubuki hasn't spoken yet, Mizoguchi is already writing something in his notebook. Fubuki could make out a fresh sentence:

"A tacky pair of outdated thick-framed glasses rested on the dashing face of Fubuki Kurosawa, which contrasted his haunting green eyes..."

"Don't mind me," Mizoguchi said. "Now, why did you decide to come to Morioh, Kurosawa?"

"I moved for personal reasons," Fubuki told him firmly.

"There's no need to be shy. Everyone is dying to get know you. Since you enrolled in Budo, you've gained quite a large attention in just a few weeks. Attention from the female admirers, to be exact. Was it a norm from your old school, to have young ladies swoon wherever you go?"

"I went to an all-boys middle school back in S-City."

Mizoguchi raised an eyebrow and he smiled.

"Interesting... How do you feel about moving here? Sad? Lonely?"

"Right now, I'm irritated," Fubuki frowned, eyeing at the notebook as Mizoguchi wrote faster.

"Speak closely into the microphone!" Mizoguchi said, snapping his fingers again. "What are your interests and hobbies? What about a romantic topic then? Is there anyone in school who makes your tender heart move? What's the exact nature of your relationship with your friend Josuke--?"

The door of the classroom slides open. Miyazaki stands there.

"Mr. Miyazaki!" Mizoguchi smiled, with every appearance of delight. However, Fubuki noticed his hand is gripping the pencil very tight, almost on the verge of breaking it. "You've interrupted my special interview!"

"I'm sorry for my rudeness," Miyazaki smiled as well. "Anyways, do you mind if I take Fubuki away? I need his help."

Very glad to get away, Fubuki hurried outside of the classroom. However, Mizoguchi isn't done with Miyazaki.

"Is it true that you struck one of your students this morning?" he inquired.

Miyazaki is a bit stunned.

"Well, if you put it that way... Yeah, but it was an accident." He laughed nervously and placed a hand over his head. "We had a nasty encounter in with a bee and in my eagerness to kill, I smacked Yasuho Onodera. She's okay now!"

"But didn't she get stung by the same bee and then she suffered a black eye?" Mizoguchi is now speaking in a more dangerous manner. "Surely you could have done something else to prevent hurting her."

"Yeah, I could have done something else... Is Yasuho special to you?"

"You bet. Yasuho is my girl. She and I kissed plenty of times. So, I get pretty mad when someone hurts my Yasuho."

Ew, Onodera dates him? Fubuki grimaced. She either has a shit taste in men, or he's just saying a lot of idiotic things.

"I hope you two have a promising future together!" Miyazaki said cheerfully, quite oblivious to Mizoguchi's creepy statement. "But I must warn you... despite what anime says, high school romance actually doesn't last forever. I know, because I used to have a sweetheart back when I was a student in Budo."

"An English teacher who watches anime? What a weirdo," Mizoguchi mumbled. He stared closely at Miyazaki. Even though he is wearing sunglasses, there is something venomous and twisted in his blunt expression.

Miyazaki and Fubuki left together.

"So, what do you need me for?" Fubuki asked.

"Oh, nothing actually," Miyazaki replied. "I just wanted to rescue you from Mizoguchi. He doesn't hurt anyone, but he's rather rude and forceful. You noticed it, right?"

"Yeah..."

"But he's a damn good investigator once he's serious. He's the one who single-handedly got the Photography Club disbanded last semester. Apparently, the club was rumored to have pornographic pictures of underage girls in their possession. Mizoguchi not only discovered this, but he reported this the police. The whole school was against the club leader."

Fubuki couldn't believe a slimy guy like Mizoguchi has a noble sense of justice.

"So, I hear you're looking for a club... Why not join the Music Club? I hear you play the piano..."

"I'm NOT interested," Fubuki insisted firmly. "Why does everybody want me to play the piano again?"

"Ah, you're just content to be part of the Go Home Club for now?" Miyazaki chuckled. "Sure, take your time and think over what you like. And if you have some problems, you can always talk to me."

Fubuki watched his teacher leave. He then spotted a small insect-like creature crawling on the ceiling. It looked like a centipede but its head has four tendrils with tiny spikes at the tips. It disappeared when it crawled inside an air vent.

Fubuki wondered if that thing is a real insect or a Stand.

*&*&*

Josuke came back to the school after visiting Hazamada at Budogaoka General Hospital with Jotaro. Only Fubuki and Okuyasu were around waiting for him to return. The three of them left together and Fubuki told them of the mysterious centipede-like Stand he saw. While it was something they will find out later, Okuyasu is more preoccupied with something else.

"Even after getting his ass handed to him, that Hazamada guy still says he doesn't know about the electric guy who killed my bro?" he asked.

"Yeah, apparently he's only ever talked to him over the phone," Josuke replied.

"You did torture that twatwaffle before he told you this, right? I mean, I'm not telling you to pry his nails off or put electrodes on his dick, but... He could have been lying to you!"

"Think about it," Fubuki said. "If Hazamada really knew Red Hot Chili Pepper's identity, he would have been disposed of by now."

Okuyasu gasped as he let this sink in.

"Oh yeah... I guess you're right," he said. "That is why my bro was killed."

"Exactly," Josuke nodded. "Since Hazamada's still breathing, it means he's telling the truth. Hazamada did tell us one thing..."


When Josuke and Jotaro came to visit Hazamada in his hospital room, Hazamada told them that Stand users are bound to meet each other as though by fate.

"Morioh is a small town, you know?" Hazamada spoke. "It's anybody's guess how many Stand users are living here. But try as they may to conceal themselves, they'll eventually slip up and emerge... He knows it's just a matter of time before destiny brings you together. So, he wants you to disappear before that happens..."


Gravity pulls everything together," Fubuki stated. "Keicho said this one time and how he doesn't intend to defy that destiny. The more I think about it, I believe Keicho secretly knew that one day... one of the Stand users he created will come back and get him."

The three schoolboys crossed the railroad crossing.

"Damn it!" Okuyasu yelled in frustration. "This shithead's a damn coward! What the hell is he waiting for?"

"Well, he's probably playing it safe for the time being," Josuke said. "When guys like that decide to go on the offensive, it's usually because they're confident that no one can take them out."

Okuyasu then noticed Koichi is sitting alone in Cafe Deux Magots. He pointed this out to the others before calling the small student.

"Yoo-hoo! Koi--!" Okuyasu stopped when a familiar schoolgirl came out and meet Koichi. His eyes widened. "Wha...?!"

The girl who is meeting Koichi is none other than Yukako Yamagishi and she is wearing a cute smile. Even Josuke and Fubuki are surprised to see her.

"JOSUKE! FUBUKI! It's a girl!" Okuyasu shouted.

"You don't need to shout, we have eyes!" Fubuki said.

They all hide behind the corner of a nearby building so they can spy on Koichi and Yukako without being caught. Yukako sat across Koichi and she has her hands together, looking so demure and gentle. In front of Koichi is a Coke drink he ordered while Yukako has a cup of coffee.

"So, Koichi..." Yukako began. "I hope meeting me here wasn't... too much trouble."

"Huh? It wasn't any trouble at all," Koichi assured her. "Really, there's nowhere else I'd rather be. Although I'm not quite sure what this is about."

"Wow, Koichi is actually with a girl," Josuke said. "Obviously, this isn't a study session like with you and Fubuki's date."

"That's Yukako Yamagishi from our class, Fubuki!" Okuyasu said. "And for the last time, Josuke, it wasn't a date!"

"Shh, quiet," Fubuki hushed him.

"Come on, let's get a closer look."

The sneak behind a tree just outside the cafe. They can hear the conversation better.

"Why did you want to meet me here?" Koichi asked. "If you're looking for someone to take in a kitten or a puppy, I'm sorry to say I already have a dopey dog named Police..."

"Koichi, I... I have to tell you something," Yukako said. She looked like she's struggling to say something that's buried in her heart. She held her hands together tighter. She inhaled her breath and her cheeks turned pink. "I've fallen in love with you."

Koichi is surprised. Okuyasu is so taken aback he nearly screamed.

"WHAT DID SHE SAY?!"

Josuke and Fubuki quickly covered his mouth with their hands. Luckily, neither Koichi nor Yukako heard him.

"I-I'm sorry!" Koichi blushed. "I don't think I heard you right..."

"I think about you all the time, Koichi," Yukako said. "I was afraid to tell you how I really felt... However, if I held it in any longer, my heart was going to burst. But I had to take a leap... and tell you my true feelings, even if you end up hating me."

Koichi was speechless and a warm glow filled him.

Is this really happening? He thought. Is she actually professing her love to me? I can't believe it, but... that's what she just said.

As his heart fluttered, Koichi couldn't help but make a stupid smile.

Th-this is awesome... I'm so happy!!

Okuyasu burst into huge tears.

"Josuke, please tell me this isn't happening!!" he cried. "Why does Koichi get all the luck?! No one's ever said anything like that to me before!!"

"There, there, you big baby," Josuke said, with an arm over Okuyasu's shoulder. "There's no need to cry."

"I'll admit, I've never seen this coming," Fubuki said, still watching. "That Koichi sure is something."

"So, Koichi..." Yukako continued. "You must have a girlfriend already, right?"

"No, I'm single," Koichi said before taking a little sip from his drink. "Hang on, you wouldn't tease me like this, would you?"

"No, way! I'm serious! I noticed your face has become more mature and chiseled as of late... A strong face brimming with courage and conviction." Yukako smiled shyly as she touched her cheek. "Also, you're really charming when you smile."

"Ugh, this mushy scene is making my stomach sick," Fubuki said with such disdain. "Can we go?"

"Not yet, I want to see if Koichi's meeting goes well," Josuke said. "And she's making a lot of good points."

"My face is mature and chiseled too, right?" Okuyasu asked tearfully.

"That said, what attracts me to a man more than anything else is his potential," Yukako continued. "Koichi, you have something shining within you. I know, because I've always been watching... And I like everything about you, Koichi."

"Wait, if she likes a man with potential, why didn't she pick YOU, Fubuki?" Okuyasu asked, confused.

"What makes you think I'd date her?" Fubuki muttered.

"People who are already perfect are boring to be with," Yukako add.

"BORING?!" Fubuki nearly screamed. It is Josuke and Okuyasu's turn to cover his mouth.

"But you must be repulsed by homely girls like me," Yukako said sadly. "I don't blame you..."

"What are you talking about?" Koichi asked. "That's not how I see you at all."

"Goddamit, she's cute! Would you come on, you lucky bastard?!" Okuyasu muttered. "Quit messing around and just seal the deal! Just go forward and ask her out already!"

"I didn't know you liked this stuff, Okuyasu," Josuke said. "But I'm getting excited too."

"This is ridiculous," Fubuki said, rolling his eyes. "I just want to go home and study."

"Please be honest..." Yukako looked at him. She is nervous. "Do you hate me?"

Josuke and Okuyasu held their breaths, waiting for Koichi to answer. Fubuki wasn't into this moment like them, but he is curious to see the outcome.

"No, I couldn't hate you even if I wanted to," Koichi said.

"Then, do you love me?"

The warm glow inside Koichi quickly turned cold.

"Hold on a second... Don't you think we're moving a bit too fast?"

"So, you do hate me."

"No, you got it all wrong. You just caught me off-guard..."

Yukako slammed her fist on the table, knocking her cup of coffee over and spilling it. She stood up and her hair flared up. Her face twisted in psychotic rage.

"WHICH IS IT?!" she yelled. "ARE YOU IN LOVE WITH ME, OR TOYING WITH MY FEELINGS?! ANSWER ME, DAMMIT!! I POURED MY HEAR OUT TO YOU!! AND NOW I SPILLED MY COFFEE!! ALL BECAUSE OF YOU HEARTLESSNESS!!"

Yukako quickly calmed down. The entire atmosphere is cold and silent. Koichi is paralyzed in his seat, staring at her.

"... I don't know what just came over me," she said, shaking all over. She covered her face and turned away. "I'm so sorry, forgive me!"

She started crying softly but Koichi is too shocked to speak. Without looking at him, she picked up her school bag.

"Goodbye..." she said. "You'll see me again, right?"

Then she ran off, leaving Koichi alone in the cafe. Josuke, Fubuki, and Okuyasu watched her go and they looked at each other.

"Well, I have to say... for some reason I suddenly feel like a deflated balloon," Okuyasu said. "Any jealousy I had over that went right out the window."

"Yeah, no kidding," Josuke said as sweat roll down his face. "Let's pretend we didn't see any of that."

"I hope you guys are satisfied..." Fubuki mumbled. "That was a big red flag right there."

Koichi tried to take a sip from his drink to calm his nerves, but he started coughing and spitting.

"Ugh, gross!" he cried. "What's with my Coke?! Why is there hair in it?!"

Josuke and the others heard him. Josuke looked at the direction where Yukako ran off and he remembered Hazamada's words.

"Stand users are bound to meet each other, huh?" he said. "Could it be...?"

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13: Mizoguchi's Rumours

A new morning came to Morioh, but the weather is overcast, bleak and chilly for mid-spring. Heavy purple clouds resemble like a poison gas stationary over the town. It looked like it might rain and the air is so cold that one could see their breath.

At Budogaoka High School, Josuke and Okuyasu arrived at the school gate, just in time to see a small group of giggling female students. They are following Fubuki, who doesn't look pleased with their presence.

"Are you busy later? If not, would you tutor me? I have a Math exam coming up."

"Your hair smells nice today, Fubuki! It suits you!"

"Would like to eat lunch together with me today?"

"Fubuki, you're not in clubs yet, right? Would you like to join mine?"

Like yesterday, Okuyasu broke down in huge, though comical, tears in Josuke's arms.

"Not him too!!" he wailed. "Why does Fubuki get all the ladies?! It's not fair!!"

"Calm down, everyone's watching," Josuke said, embarrassed.

Fubuki finally lost his patience with the schoolgirls and shot them a dark, icy glare.

"You're all annoying," he told them. "Go away."

The girls stared at him and they walked, now huffing and complaining instead.

"Wow, he's so rude."

"What a dick."

"Yeah, and not like the hot kind of way..."

"Damn, man," Okuyasu commented. He's no longer crying. "That's rather cold of you."

Josuke nodded. "Yeah. It looks like he got up in the wrong side of the bed today."

As Fubuki approached closer to the school gate, Josuke and Okuyasu decide to greet him.

"Good morning!" they both said.

Fubuki didn't seem to hear them at first. When he walked past them Josuke realized Fubuki didn't even notice his friends as well.

"Hey, Fubuki!" Josuke called out to him, in a louder voice.

Fubuki stopped walking and turned around. He looked tired and sullen. His glasses are a bit lopsided today.

"Oh... you two... Sorry to keep you waiting," he said in a low voice.

There is something different about it, it wasn't in his usual monotone. In fact, Fubuki sounded dead tired. Josuke and Okuyasu noticed how crestfallen and sleepy he looked today.

"You okay, man?" Josuke asked.

"I'll be fine..." Fubuki replied, rubbing his forehead. "What are we doing again this morning?"

"You forgot already? We're investigating a new Stand user."

Fubuki remembered. Today, the three of them are going to investigate Yukako Yamagishi to check if she's a Stand user according to Josuke's suspicion. Koichi is somewhere else doing his own thing, probably still shaken about Yukako's outburst yesterday. Koichi told his friends about it but he did not know they were spying on them.

"Also, i got another favor," Josuke smiled sheepishly. "Can you help me with my homework? I couldn't do mine because I lost my Math textbook."

Fubuki barely reacted to that. "… Homework? ... Ah, I'm sorry. I didn't do mine last night either..."

Josuke and Okuyasu are taken aback by this comment.

"Whaaaaaat?!"

"Are you serious?" Josuke said. "Get it together, man! You're usually on top of schoolwork."

"He lost his touch, Josuke!" Okuyasu cried, pretending to be sad. "He was our only hope to help us maintain our grades!"

"I knew one day he would crack! Reality is cruel and vulgar!" Josuke joined Okuyasu's dumb joke. "How would we survive without his harsh mock tests?"

He hoped this would get Fubuki out of his bad funk. Instead of cracking a smile or pulling their ears for acting like goofy idiots, Fubuki walked away. This made Josuke and Okuyasu stopped making jokes.

"Did we went too far?" Okuyasu gulped.

"I think it's something else bugging him," Josuke said. "I've never seen him like this before."

"He's definitely down in the dumps. I wonder what made him feel that way..." Okuyasu's eyes widen. "Wait a second... What if he confessed to a girl and he got rejected?"

"That's crazy talk. Let's just leave him be, he'll be alright later."

"Okay."

However, neither of them actually still don't like leaving their friend alone in such a depressing mood.

Okuyasu came up with a solution and spoke fast, "Last person to say 'not me' should talk to Fubuki—NOT ME!"

"Not—Aw, dangit!" Josuke pouted. "Okay, but if he tears my head off, I'm putting the blame on you."

"Hehehe! See you at lunch!"

Josuke left to find Fubuki. Okuyasu was about to go on ahead to his classroom when someone suddenly popped out from behind a nearby bush.

"Sheesh, what got his goat?" he commented.

Okuyasu nearly screamed and clutched his heart. "Who the hell are you and how long have you been hiding there!"

"I wasn't hiding, I was looking for observing," the new person said. He is a male student wearing sunglasses. He approached Okuyasu. "It's part of my role as leader and only member of the School Newspaper Club. My name's Takamasa Mizoguchi and I write the Budogaoka Report."

Okuyasu recognized the student newspaper's name and he became furious.

"I know you!" Okuyasu yelled. "You're the one who took that embarrassing photo of me getting my hand stuck in the vending machine, and then wrote that mean article about me yesterday! I oughta bust your face!"

"Whoa, let's not get violent here!" Mizoguchi said quickly, raising his hands. He put on a friendly smile. "I write joke articles for fun, not to maliciously put people in a bad light. You and your friends had a good laugh about my yesterday's paper, didn't you? Besides, libel is not good for my paper."

"What do you want from me?"

"To expose the truth... if you can handle it." Mizoguchi placed a hand near his face so Okuyasu can listen to him much closer. "I apologize if my sense of humor doesn't fit your taste, Nijimura, but I wasn't the one who took that photo... I'm sure it wasn't Kurosawa's intent to mock you."

Okuyasu stared at him, shocked.

"F-Fubuki did that?" he stammered.

"Oh, don't get upset," Mizoguchi said halfheartedly. "I'm sure Kurosawa, who stopped by at my club yesterday, was just exaggerating when you said you're a helpless baby who rarely thinks."

Okuyasu is shaking in anger.

"Y-you're just spewing shit!" he shouted at him. "I don't believe Fubuki told you that!"

Mizoguchi twirled a curled in his hair and gave him a smug smile. "Like the saying goes: 'incredible, but true'! After all, if I hadn't heard it with my own ears, I wouldn't believe it either."

Okuyasu imagines Fubuki laughing and mocking him behind his back. He became angrier.

"One last thing," Mizoguchi added. "I spotted Fubuki lurking around in the freshman lockers yesterday..."


"Fubuki, what would you like? A frog, or a crane?"

"… A bird, like a dove."

"Aw, that's too easy. But if that's what you want, then a dove it is... What kind of origami animals can you make?

"None."

"Eh? You haven't made any before? That's okay, do you want me to teach you?"


Fubuki vision became more blurred as his eyes misted with tears. He dried his eyes and put his glasses back on. He is sitting inside a toilet in the boy's bathroom at the school. His friends are probably still trying to work on their last-minute homework and he has to return to them quickly.

Since this morning, Fubuki had a hard time getting out of bed. He had no energy and he almost did not want to get to school until he remembered Josuke and the others are probably waiting for him. But when he got to school, he was so irritated at their usual laziness to do their damn homework properly that he wanted to get away from his friends for a while.

Fubuki let the voices die and his memories fade quickly as he started feeling better now; he can't afford to get distracted. He stared at a medication bottle full of pills in his hand, noticing how almost empty it is. He must remember to get a refill after classes.

He touched his head and he could feel a painful headache right now. He ran his fingers all over his scalp wistfully until he reached a certain sore spot that made him suddenly afraid for some reason. He could feel his heart beating faster than before and breathing turned shallow...

He jumped at the sound of the boy's bathroom door opening and two male students speaking to each other as they did their business at the urinals.

"… So, did you hear about what people are now saying about Fubuki Kurosawa?" the first student began.

"You mean Pretty Boy the Genius?" said the second male student. "What about him?"

"I overheard this guy talking to his other friends that he thinks Kurosawa is a good-for-nothing prick."

Fubuki was listening to them from inside the stall and he couldn't believe what he's hearing.

"I think it's because Kurosawa likes to push everyone to study a lot. If you ask me, I think Kurosawa is so full of himself. He thinks he's better than anyone just because he gets top test scores."

"It must be nice to be number one all the time. After all, Kurosawa studies really hard, right? He should be careful if he doesn't want people to call him names."

Don't let them bother you... Fubuki thought. I'm already used to this kind of talk.

Fubuki peered through the crack of the stall's door. The two boys are still using the urinals and their backs are facing Fubuki. The latter's eyes widened when he saw a long body of a centipede-like creature crawling inside one of the boy's ear.

Fubuki covered his mouth so he wouldn't scream. The two boys thought they heard a sound but they ignore it and left the bathroom.

Fubuki came out of the stall, still shivering from that horrifying, gross discovery.

Could it be the same Stand from yesterday? he wondered. Why would it be inside that boy's ear?

He realized that he should have not let that boy go. Before he could run out from the bathroom, someone else entered and accidentally slammed the door right into his face. Fubuki nearly fell down but someone caught him by grabbing his upper arm.

"Josuke?!" Fubuki said, surprised.

"Gotcha!" Josuke said. "Oh, and sorry about your nose!"

Fubuki felt something warm and wet running down his mouth. The door not only broke his nose but it broke his glasses.

"Here, let me take care of that."

Josuke summoned Crazy Diamond and the Stand instantly restored Fubuki's nose and glasses. Fubuki quickly ran out of the bathroom and Josuke followed him. Fubuki looked around the hall, but the boy is already gone.

"Thanks a lot for getting in my way," Fubuki said stiffly. "I just got a glance of another Stand but it's already long gone."

"Wha... I... Well, I'm sorry for being worried about you!" Josuke said, annoyed.

"Why on earth would you worry about me?"

"You were acting so moody earlier. You're not your usual self."

Fubuki sighed and pulled his hair back. "… Josuke, I appreciate your concern but there's nothing seriously wrong with me."

"What's that in your hand then?"

Fubuki placed the pill bottle inside his pocket.

"Cold medicine," Fubuki answered quickly, not looking at him. "I wasn't feeling well last night and this morning."

"Is that the truth?" Josuke asked.

"Yes," he emphasized his answer.

Josuke awkwardly placed a hand on Fubuki's shoulder.

"Then would you help me with some homework before the bell rings?" he asked with a smooth smile.

"I swear, you are hopeless without me," Fubuki huffed, rolling his eyes. It's clearly evident that his mood is back to normal. "I can't imagine a life where I'm not needed."

Josuke leaned so close to Fubuki, the latter thought he was going to kiss him.

"Quit being such a Negative Nancy," Josuke told him. "And besides... I'd kinda miss you if you're not around."

"I don't believe that."

*&*&*

Outside, the cold and damp weather cleared and it became sunny and warm.

It is nearly time for homeroom in Class 1-A and Fubuki arrived in his classroom after running all the way from the library. He was so busy helping Josuke, as well as finishing his own homework, that he lost track of time.

He went over to his desk and found something horrifying. The surface of his desk has been defaced; angry and insulting messages such as "GO HOME YOU SCUM" or "JUST DIE" have been written in fresh black ink.

Despite such a terrible sight, everyone else in class paid no attention to it and just acting normal.

Fubuki, trying to remain unfazed, looked over to Okuyasu sitting right next to his desk. He is staring into blank space while whistling.

"Okuyasu, what are you doing sitting there?" Fubuki demanded. "Did you see who wrote on my desk?"

Okuyasu looked at Fubuki and at the defaced desk.

"Oh... would you look at that," he said in an odd tone. "Sorry. No idea."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Fubuki growled. Okuyasu pretended not to hear him and he looked away. "Okuyasu, look at me!"

The bell chimed and Miyazaki came in. He looked so disappointed, and he was followed by Onodera. She looked distraught and pitiful, especially with her left eye now purple and bruised.

"Alright, get back to your seats!" Miyazaki said loudly.

Students who are standing and chatting with their friends hurried to their desks. As reluctantly Fubuki took a seat, he noticed Yukako's seat is empty. He wondered if she's absent today.

"What happened to your table, Fubuki?" Miyazaki asked.

Nobody looked at Fubuki. The bespectacled teen could not answer the question and just lowered his head.

Miyazaki went straight to his own table and made Onodera stand in front of everyone. Her face is flushed and her eyes are red, as though she had been crying.

"I have an announcement and this is extremely heavy," Miyazaki began. "Yasuho Onodera's gym clothes went missing this morning. No... the correct term is that it was stolen from her locker."

Shocked gasps travel all over the classroom.

Miyazaki continued, "Concerning the disappearance of Yasuho's gym clothes, if anyone has information about what happened to them, please come to me in the staff room."

Onodera dries off some fresh tears from her eyes. Several students began whispering to each other.

"Unbelievable!"

"Who could have done such a mean thing?"

"How lame!"

"Whoa, surely it was a pervert who stole her clothes!"

"Sensei, Yukako Yamagishi is not in her desk," Ichikawa pointed it out.

Everyone else saw Ichikawa was right and began whispering rapidly about it. Fubuki realized they're assuming Yukako must have stolen the gym clothes.

On cue, the door slide open and Yukako entered. She looked calm and dignified. The entire class fell silent and they stare intensely at her. Yukako isn't bothered by this so she walked over to her desk and plopped down.

"W... Welcome, Yukako," Miyazaki said. "You're kind of late, aren't you?"

"That's ridiculous," Yukako said indifferently. "It's the bell's fault for not ringing louder."

"Hey, Yamagishi!" someone from the class shouted. "Where were you this morning?! Did you steal Onodera's gym clothes?!"

"Keep your voice down," Miyazaki ordered. "We're going to settle this the mature way without jumping the gun and pointing fingers."

"But, Sensei, she's the only one in our class who's late!"

"I haven't stolen anything," Yukako said, narrowing her eyes at the one who accused her. "I've been busy this morning and what I did is none of your business."

"I believe you!" Okuyasu spoke. When he saw everyone is now looking at him, he became a little embarrassed. "Well, that's because... I know who the thief is."

This revelation surprised everyone, except Yukako, who is lost in her own world.

"You did?" Miyazaki asked. "Then who is it?

Okuyasu's mouth quivered and he's beginning to sweat. He opened his mouth and uttered one name.

"Fubuki Kurosawa."

*&*&*

Fubuki left the counselor's office. He had to spend half an hour to convince the old counselor that he did not steal Onodera's gym clothes. His school bag and locker have been inspected and when the clothes are not found, the counselor is convinced the young man is telling the truth.

Fubuki is furious at Okuyasu for telling such a lie. He assumed that Okuyasu is the one responsible for writing those messages on his desk, or at least involved with it in some way.

While Fubuki is cleared from the false accusation, the damage has already been done. He returned to his classroom and his classmates kept shooting dirty looks at him, as though he was some vile cockroach that deserved to be crushed. Now he's no longer the popular student in Class 1-A. He just ignored all their nasty whispers about him, still keeping a cool and dignified front. He will not make himself look like an idiot in front of everyone.

At the end of the fourth period, everyone started getting their lunches. However, Fubuki and Okuyasu got up from their seats as soon as Yukako left the classroom. Both boys avoided looking at each other and they came outside to meet up with Josuke in the hallway.

"I saw Yukako Yamagishi, let's see where she goes," he said.

"You two go ahead," Fubuki said. "I have to find that new Stand."

"Good luck with that... nerd," Okuyasu said sarcastically.

Fubuki had enough. He kicked Okuyasu in the lower leg and stomped off. Okuyasu jumped around in pain while Josuke is confused.

Fubuki left the school building so he can finally think things clearly. He found an empty bench and sat on it. He went over the incident of Okuyasu's odd behavior; it's not like him to be a bully.

There was that one time when Okuyasu did try to assert his dominance over Fubuki when they first met, but there was nothing cruel about it. Fubuki wondered if something happened to Okuyasu that made him think that way.

Right on cue, he heard a voice behind him.

"Hmm... Look who's here..."

Fubuki turned his head to see Mizoguchi, casually resting on the back of the bench.

"I didn't ask for your company," he said coldly.

"Come now, we're basically acquaintances," Mizoguchi said. He walked around so he can sit next to Fubuki. "I heard your pal Nijimura called you a thief right in front of the entire class. How shameful... I'm sorry you two broke up."

"There's no break-up, Okuyasu's still my friend. And how did you know he called me a thief?"

"Word gets around fast... Though Okuyasu's method for defacing your desk is too old-fashioned, even after I told him there are other ways to ruin it."

Fubuki stared at him, almost speechless. "… You told him to write those messages on my desk?"

"You should have seen his face when I told him that you stole the gym clothes."

"Why would you do that?" Fubuki hissed.

"I thought you're the smartest one in your class, you should have figured out what I am by now," Mizoguchi scoffed. His sunglasses glinted with danger. "I'm a Stand user, Kurosawa, and my Stand's name is called Rumours."

"Then that centipede-like Stand I saw earlier..." Fubuki realized, eyes widening.

"Yeah, that one is mine... it's weak but it has a scary ability. It utilizes my talent of spreading half-lies. Once I spread a rumor to someone, the Stand travels from one person to the next and twists their personality along the way. Just a simple message told to another is enough to turn them against you. Though it only works on simple-minded idiots like Okuyasu at first, the further my message is spread, the power increases... Even if there is no physical evidence and my target is actually innocent, the people who are under Rumours' effect still believe the target is guilty."

Mizoguchi paused so he can relish in the horrified and disgusted reaction from Fubuki.

"I don't have the strength to fight, so I rely on my brains instead. It doesn't take much time to make people turn against you... Like I told you before, I would do anything for a good scoop. That's why I destroyed the Photography Club last semester, and it's all done by planting false information and let it spread like wildfire."

"You did that too...?"

"By the end of the day, I will have the entire school under my Stand's power and I will make all of your friends force you to leave this town forever. And then, you will never be with your precious Josuke ever again."

"Mizoguchi... you slimy--"

"I must warn you! If you try to hurt me," Mizoguchi warns him quickly, "the shock from your attack will travel to my Stand and hurt those who are buried deep inside other people's ears! It won't HURT them... but they will become more violent towards you!"

Fubuki grabbed the front of Mizoguchi's uniform. Mizoguchi let out a fake painful cry.

"Ow, you're hurting me! Help! It's the pervert who stole the gym clothes!"

This caught the attention of nearby students, who all glared at Fubuki and started spreading new rumors about him. Some started to approach him, with the intent of beating him up.

Fubuki released Mizoguchi and ran away from him. He has to find Josuke and tell him about the Stand before it's too late.

Mizoguchi remained in the bench, feeling smug about his actions. He sometimes wondered why he does this kind of stuff. The answer is simple to him: because he has fun doing it.

*&*&*

Yukako Yamagishi is filled with intense jealousy.

She found Koichi cleaning the chemistry lab all by himself and her appearance startled him, but she thought it was cute. After apologizing for her temper tantrum from yesterday, she offered Koichi a sweater which she knitted overnight, a love charm, and then a boxed lunch full of romantic imagery.

When she tried to have Koichi have a bite from her freshly cooked shrimp, Koichi's (and Josuke's) class representative appeared and asked him to throw out the trash before classes begin. The representative scolded him but Koichi still chuckled to her remarks... Koichi and the representative left the laboratory together, leaving Yukako alone and furious that her 'date' has been interrupted.

Her hair started to move and wriggle like snakes. Yukako followed the representative to the incinerator behind the school, who had just dumped the last trash bin and turn on the fire. She is alone and Yukako loathed her.

"Hey, you."

The representative turned around. "Huh?"

"I'll ask you one time to stop flirting with Koichi," Yukako ordered.

"… What are you talking about? Do you mean Koichi Hirose?" the representative asked. "You're joking, right? I don't know what you've heard, but there's nothing going on with us."

"That pathetic lie might have work on me if it didn't reek of the stench of a homewrecker."

"A what?!"

Yukako's face darkened more. "Listen closely... If I catch you trying to seduce Koichi again, I'll make your life a living hell."

Then she turned around and walked away, but the succubus-in-disguise yelled her. Since her warning did not work on her, Yukako decided to punish her.

She could hear the representative cry in pain behind her, as though someone struck her scalp. Yukako then moved on, leaving the girl to die...

*&*&*

The Class 1-B representative winced. She felt something pricked her head for a moment. Now, she's angrier at Yukako and she watched her just walk away as though nothing happened.

"What the hell is her problem?! That psycho is out of her mind!" she grumbled. She smirked to herself. "She has the hots for Koichi? What a joke, just wait until the entire school finds out."

She sensed something is wrong. She looked at the incinerator nearby and found flames on the ground, burning some kind of long string. She felt something warm behind her. It is quickly getting too hot. That is when she realized she is on fire.

She screamed in fear as the fire spread to her hair.

She tried to reach some buckets of water but dark strands of hair blind her and tie her tongue, making her trip and unable to call for help.

At that moment, The Hand intervened and erased the burning hair, including the dark hair strands. Okuyasu and Josuke saved the representative.

"Hey, Josuke," Okuyasu said after dispelling his Stand. "Looks like you were right about Yukako Yamagishi being a Stand user. It's a Stand that manipulates hair at will."

"Seems like it," Josuke said. "But given what we've seen, it doesn't appear as though she'd go after Koichi or us for that matter."

"Hey, that worries me more! That chick is totally in love with Koichi. She's definitely bad news."

The class representative, who wasn't listening to their conversation, was panting with relief that she's saved. Then she started freaking out when she felt a huge bald spot on the back of her head.

"Anyway, Okuyasu... what are you planning to do with that girl's messed up?" Josuke asked. "Crazy Diamond can't fix stuff The Hand has erased."

"Huh? Haven't I done enough for one day? I did keep her from getting burned to a crisp," Okuyasu said. He turned the representative. "I'm not a stylist, alright?"

The representative just ran off in tears. Koichi suddenly returned to the incinerator, with Fubuki right behind him.

"Guys, there you are!" Koichi panted. "There's something we must tell you!"

"Takamasa Mizoguchi of the School Newspaper Club is a Stand user," Fubuki told Josuke and Okuyasu. "Apparently, his Stand works by spreading rumors and letting it infect people's personality, so they would go against Mizoguchi's target. And... I'm currently the victim."

"I see," Josuke said. "Well then, let's go pay Mizoguchi a visit."

"You absolutely believe that garbage, Josuke?" Okuyasu snapped. There is something dark and twisted in his eyes. "Fubuki is a piece of shit!"

"Don't listen to a word he says," Fubuki said. "He's already under the influence of the enemy Stand."

"First a thief, and now you're a liar? I can't believe we were friends! Why don't you jump off a bridge and just disappear, Fubuki!"

"Okuyasu, listen to what you're saying. You're going to listen to the words of a slimy rat whom you never met before? Who was the one who visited you after your brother's funeral?"

Something snapped inside Okuyasu and his eyes turn completely white. He brought The Hand again and it was going to erase Fubuki from this world when it was stopped and held back by Josuke's Crazy Diamond.

"Stop this, Okuyasu!" Josuke yelled as he held back Okuyasu, who is struggling to free himself.

"Let me at him! I'll kill him!" Okuyasu growled. "Nobody talks shit about my big bro!!"

"But he didn't even say that!" Koichi protested.

Josuke noticed something wriggling inside Okuyasu's left ear. He wanted to try and pull it out but Crazy Diamond is too busy holding down The Hand.

"Th-there's something inside Okuyasu's ear!" Josuke shouted. "It's too deep, I don't think I can reach it!"

Koichi got an idea. Echoes materialized and planted a big text on Okuyasu's face and neck. It reads "Get Out".

Okuyasu screamed when he heard a powerful ringing sound welling up inside his brain. It was so bad that The Hand disappeared. What Koichi did is he threw his voice in the form of a written word.

Something began to wriggle out of Okuyasu's ear, trying to escape from the loud noise. It is the centipede-like Stand called Rumours.

"There it is!" Josuke said.

Josuke used Crazy Diamond to completely pull the Stand out and released rapid-fire punches that smashed the Stand into tiny pieces, spilling its insides everywhere.

Once the Stand is defeated, Okuyasu reverted back to normal. He looked around, confused and nervous.

"H-hey... w-what just happened?" Okuyasu asked.

"Okuyasu! You're normal again!" Koichi said happily. "Now, isn't there someone you should apologize?"

"Oh, you're right... Sorry for going crazy, Josuke."

"He means ME!" Fubuki snapped at him.

"I guess that's all there is about the Stand?" Josuke said. "I expected more, but... it looks like Mizoguchi is already defeated before we even saw him."

*&*&*

Meanwhile, in the gym storage room. Onodera is brought here by Mizoguchi.

"What is it you want?" she demanded. "Classes will begin soon."

"These are yours." Mizoguchi pulled out her stolen gym clothes hidden inside a vaulting box. Onodera gasped and flushed. "That perverted Kurosawa admitted that he stole them from your locker. Don't worry, he'll be driven out of school and won't make you cry ever again, Yasuho."

"F-first of all, we're not on a first name basis," Onodera snapped. "And second, why are you telling everyone that I'm your girlfriend? I only talked to you twice when I was still in middle school!"

"It's because you said you liked my first article when nobody else did," Mizoguchi told her. "Why say such a nice thing to me?"

"I was trying to be a decent person and people were ragging on you." She sighed. "Look... I appreciate you for giving back my gym clothes, but... I don't think Kurosawa stole them."

"Why are you defending him, Yasuho?" Mizoguchi demanded, now sound desperate. "Do you like him more than me?"

"I never implied that! Just stop trying to talk to me from now on, okay?"

Onodera grabbed her clothes. She was about to leave when Mizoguchi grabbed her from her behind and covered her mouth with a handkerchief.

"I dropped some chloroform into this handkerchief," Mizoguchi told her. "I can't hold my feelings back, my Yasuhooo~"

'My Yasuho'? You're kidding, right?! She thought as fear rushed through her veins. I told you before I don't like you... I seriously hate you!

Onodera screamed and tried to escape, but Mizoguchi forced on her down on one of the mats. As she could feel herself losing consciousness, she can't let Mizoguchi get away with this.

She summoned Tiny Dancer, who was too small for Mizoguchi to see it, and it flew off.

It zipped around the school and it found Josuke and his friends. It landed right on top of Fubuki's hand, who noticed it.

"Mizoguchi...!" it screamed as loud as it can in Onodera's voice. "Storage room...! Help...!"

Everyone heard it clear before suddenly popped out of existence.

"That was Onodera's Tiny Dancer!" Fubuki said. "She's in danger! And by the looks of it, Mizoguchi has got her!"

"Which storage room is it?" Koichi asked. "There's the gym storage room and the janitorial storage room!"

*&*&*

Back in the gym storage room, Mizoguchi made lewd panting sounds as he gazed upon Onodera's unconscious body. She looked so pure and vulnerable... She has always been his muse and femme fatale. Now he finally has her.

Mizoguchi pulled up her blouse and removed her bra so he can inspect the size. She's bigger than he expected, and he's over the moon like a child in a candy store. As he sniffed her bra to inhale her maiden scent, someone whacked him from behind with a fist.

Mizoguchi flew across the room and when he got on his feet, he saw Josuke and Okuyasu.

"Looks like we made it," Josuke said. He and Okuyasu are absolutely disgusted with Mizoguchi. "Now I see why you made that rumor of Fubuki, you wanted everyone to be distracted while you prey on girls."

"Josuke and Okuyasu?!" Mizoguchi gasped. "You should have been Fubuki's enemies by now! What happened to my Stand inside your ear?"

"That thing? Oh, it's been squashed to pieces," Okuyasu said. "Now it's time to squash the bigger bug."

"Hold on... you guys squashed it?"

Josuke and Okuyasu are disturbed to see Mizoguchi suddenly chuckling.

"What's so funny?" Josuke demanded.

"That single Stand you destroyed was only a part of the whole group!"

Suddenly, hundreds of centipede-like Stands began to appear, crawling out from everywhere. Each of them is as long 10 cm. They swarm around Josuke and Okuyasu, some dropped from the ceiling and landed on Onodera's body. Soon, the entire room is filled with them.

"Th-there's more them!" Okuyasu shouted.

"Rumours started out as a single Stand," Mizoguchi explained. "But it multiplies the further my message is spread, that's how I was able to infect so many people!"

"DORARARA!!" Crazy Diamond shouted and punched several more Rumours that tried to attack them. However, the rest of the Stands became more aggressive and started to overwhelm the two Stand users with their massive numbers.

"What the...?! But I hurt more of them, so it should have hurt you!" Josuke groaned.

"You idiot! My colony Stand is automatic! No matter what damage they receive, I can't get hurt!" Mizoguchi laughed. "And you made another huge error... When squashed, Rumours release an odor that attracts more of them and makes them more aggressive! This is what happens when you try to get in the way of the School Newspaper Club!"

"Squashing them makes them worse, huh?" Okuyasu commented, now sounding serious. "Then the better alternative is to take them away."

The Hand appeared and began erasing all the centipede-like Stands that were crawling all over Okuyasu and Josuke, much to Mizoguchi's panic.

"My Rumours!" he cried. "Shit, I have to get away!"

He tried to climb throw a nearby window.

"Good job using your head, Okuyasu!" Josuke smirked.

"Wow, thanks!" Okuyasu grinned. "Hey, let's exterminate this pest, shall we?"

Okuyasu has The Hand bring Mizoguchi closer by eliminating the space in front. Mizoguchi stood staggered before the two of them.

"This is for Fubuki," Josuke told him. "And all the other kids you talked trash about."

The Hand and Crazy Diamond pummel Mizoguchi with a dual Stand barrage followed by a joint uppercut that sends Mizoguchi out from the same window he tried to escape through.

The moment when Mizoguchi is defeated, the rest of his Stand Rumours disappeared. The school bell chimed, signifying lunch period is over.

"Crap!" Okuyasu cried in panic. "It's fifth period! I have to go or my butt's in trouble!"

"Wait a sec!" Josuke said, but Okuyasu is already long gone. He sighed and crouched next to Onodera, who is still knocked out. He was glad he and Okuyasu made it here just in time. "Well, I can't go yet without waking her up first..."

Josuke looked at Onodera and he's smitten by how beautiful she looked when she's asleep. He continued to gaze at her, completely lost in this moment... He finally noticed her blouse is still up and her breasts are fully exposed. He blushed and covered his eyes, using Crazy Diamond to pull her blouse down.

"Three...!" he muttered in a daze, his face is entirely red. He can't believe he saw that. He wondered if it's some kind of defect she's born with. "Two normal ones and an extra under her left... She has two normal breasts, but three nipples..."

That image is forever burned in his mind. Maybe he's better off not saying anything about it ever again.

Onodera stirred awake and found herself lying on the mat. She noticed Josuke and she sat up.

"Higashikata...? What are you doing here?" she asked. She then remembered being assaulted. "Where's Mizoguchi?! He was here!"

"H-he's already gone!" Josuke replied, still blushing. "I took care of the bastard, he's not going to hurt you anymore."

Onodera stared at him, surprised that a punk-looking guy like Josuke saved her and didn't try to molest her while she was unconscious. Meanwhile, Josuke is trying not to look at Onodera's chest; even though her blouse has covered up her breasts, he can see the outline of her nipples.

"N-now that you're three--I mean, OKAY! I'm gonna go back to nipples--CLASS!" he stammered.

The girl screamed and Josuke nearly jumped.

"You're standing on my bra, give it back!" Onodera yelled, now blushing as well.

Josuke just awkwardly kicked Onodera's bra that was lying on the floor.

"SORRY!!" he apologized before running out.

Onodera picked up her bra, though she couldn't help but stare at the direction where Josuke went.

She spoke in a little soft voice, "Thank you..."

*&*&*

Classes ended for the day and Mizoguchi is taken to the hospital after receiving mysterious injuries. The School Newspaper Club is shut down and all the students who were under the effects of Rumours completely forgot about their nasty behavior towards Fubuki.

Fubuki is just glad this is all over. He was tired of the attention.

He went back to the classroom when he accidentally left behind a book and found only Okuyasu there. Okuyasu is standing next to his desk, which is now completely clean. All the mean messages are wiped off.

"I used The Hand to erase them..." Okuyasu said sheepishly. "It wasn't easy. And... I'm sorry for being such a douche canoe."

He expected Fubuki to get mad at him and pull his ear. Instead, Fubuki just stared out the window.

"You can be such a dummy sometimes," he said. "But you weren't yourself, and you're better now. It's pretty clear that Mizoguchi gets a kick out of making people fight. The lies of that big mouth shouldn't separate us."

Okuyasu smiled. "Really? You don't hate me?"

"We're having a moment here. Don't ruin it."

*&*&*

Koichi came out from the school building, sighing wearily. It's been a stressful day but now he can go home. When he approached the school gate, he gasped in fear when he saw who is waiting for him.

"Hey, Koichi," Yukako smiled at him. She held her bag close to her body. "I was thinking we can walk home together. If you're shy to hold my hand, that's okay..."

She giggled but Koichi is paralyzed. He doesn't know how to turn her down without incurring her wrath.

Luck finally came in the form of Fubuki. When he saw Yukako talking to Koichi, he decided to come to his rescue.

"Koichi, let's go," Fubuki said. "I have to tutor you, remember?"

"O-oh, Fubuki!" Koichi smiled too happily. "Thank god, you remind me!"

Koichi walked off with Fubuki. The latter glanced back and saw Yukako giving him a very deadly look.

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14: Yukako Yamagishi is in Love, Pt 1

Two days after Yukako nearly burned another girl alive, Josuke and his friends are hanging out in the empty swimming pool at the school instead of their usual hangout behind the gym. Josuke and Okuyasu are trying to comfort a distressed Koichi while Fubuki is keeping a lookout in case Yukako or someone comes along.

"My high school career is over," Koichi moaned. "Look at this..."

He gave Josuke his test paper and Josuke shared it around for everyone to see. The paper is for the latest English test and score is marked 16 points, a pretty low and bad grade.

"Yukako has been stressing me out so much, I haven't been able to concentrate," Koichi said.

"Oh, man, even I did better than you did," Okuyasu said. "I got a 32 on that test."

"… What," Fubuki said.

Okuyasu felt a chill ran down his spine when he felt Fubuki's hand on his shoulder. Even though Fubuki appeared calm, Okuyasu can tell he is furious at him that he began to sweat profusely.

"Are you saying..." Fubuki said in a slow voice. "That I spent three straight days... trying to help you study... and on your English test, you got..."

Fubuki used the same hand that touched Okuyasu's shoulder to pull the other boy's ear hard.

"Aieee!" Okuyasu squealed in pain.

"32?" Fubuki finished. His eyeglasses glinted with danger. "Is that what you're saying, Okuyasu?"

"J-Josuke, help!"

"Sorry, man," Josuke said, trying hard not to chuckle. "But I got a 78 on mine."

"YOU MONSTER!"

"You think this is bad now, wait till you see me tonight," Fubuki smiled evilly.

Okuyasu's imagination went wild; he could see Fubuki ramping up his study session to make it look like a mix between a medieval torture dungeon and a BDSM playroom.

Koichi sighed sadly, which made Fubuki let go of Okuyasu's ear.

"To tell you the truth... I was pretty psyched at first," he said. "I mean, no girl said she loved me before.

"I feel you," Okuyasu agreed. He crossed his arms and nodded his head. "I feel you deeply. Your feeling I can feel deeply."

"... Why did you say it like that?" a perplexed Fubuki asked.

"I was way too wishy-washy about my feelings so I brought this all upon myself!" Koichi continued. "I think I should just man up and tell her the truth."

"Finally, you're doing the right thing," Fubuki said. "Go up to her and tell her to leave you alone."

"I'd think twice about that," Josuke said. "Koichi, that chick spent a whole night knitting you a sweater. If you try being that blunt with her, it will only fuel the demented flames of her passion even more... It'll make her want you more."

Koichi trembled at the thought. "I-I guess you're right."

"Well, of course, I'm right. Now listen up... Yukako is insane," Josuke said. "But convincing her to stop using her hair for evil is low priority. We have far more pressing concerns at the moment."

"I disagree, we have to act now and face her," Fubuki said. "From what I've known her, Yamagishi is prone to assumptions and she lives in her own world... which can be highly dangerous. She seems to have no intention of harming Koichi, but girls like her won't accept the possibility that the object of their affection can be happy without them so they would rather have their crush dead than with another."

Koichi uttered a terrified squeak.

"Here's what you gotta do," Fubuki suggested. With a deadpan expression, he placed a switchblade knife in Koichi's hand. "You take her somewhere isolated, just the two of you alone... while she has her back turned, you take out the knife..."

"Wait, what?!" Koichi said, nearly dropping the switchblade knife.

"Don't worry, I'll help you hide the body."

"Fubuki, no!!"

"I'm just joking, and this is fake," Fubuki said. He still kept his deadpan expression as he adjusted his glasses. He picked up the knife and showed everyone the blade is made of plastic and it can be easily pushed back inside the handle. "My uncle gave it to me this morning."

However, his frightened friends thought he was actually being serious.

"F-Fubuki has a sense of humor..." Okuyasu stammered, clutching his heart. "I don't know how to feel about this."

"You're right about that facing her first," Josuke said. "Except we don't know much about her Stand. We know she can control her hair, but we don't know its full capabilities. Figuring a way not to provoke Yukako comes first."

"How do we do that?" Koichi asked.

"The truth is, it doesn't matter how infatuated she is with you," Josuke replied. "If she comes to her own conclusion that you're the most pathetic, disgusting schmuck around, then we could go on living happily ever after, right?"

Josuke pointed his finger at Koichi.

"So, all you've gotta do on your end is to act like a total jackass whenever you're in front of her!"

"Ohh, now I get where you're going with this!" Okuyasu grinned. "You're such a genius, Josuke!"

Josuke chuckled. "Why, thank you. Was it really a compliment coming from you?"

"Jeez Louise, what can I do to make Yukako think that I'm bad for her?" Koichi asked.

"Well, from what I've been told... Girls usually don't like mama's boys or guys with bad hygiene," Josuke replied.

"D-definitely not mama's boy!" Koichi cried. "She might do something to my mom and put her in danger!"

"Then we'll have to go for the bad hygiene!" Okuyasu said excitedly.

"Wha..?!"

"That's right," Josuke said. "You can't brush your teeth OR change your underwear."

"Breed lice and spiders in your hair!"

"Wearing smelly socks is pretty gross!"

"Ooh, and try farting everywhere!"

"Oh, man, that'll make her hate you for sure!"

"And drool and sneeze while you do it too!"

"Will you guys quit joking around?!" Koichi cried. "I'm serious about this!"

"I'm completely serious too!" Okuyasu said.

Koichi became discouraged so Fubuki stepped in.

"Guys, knock it off," he said. "There are other alternatives."

"Thank you!" Koichi said.

"I just remembered that Yamagishi said something about liking Koichi's potential. So his option is to be a nobody. Here's my idea... Koichi should be a misogynistic sex fiend who keeps porn magazines and smokes cigarettes."

"That's a great idea!" Josuke and Okuyasu said in unison.

"NOT YOU TOO, FUBUKI!" Koichi screamed, clasping his face.

"You should shoplift!" Josuke suggested. "Steal something totally useless!"

"Yeah!" Okuyasu said. "Maybe take drugs or rob a bank!"

"Or maybe tell her that you're gay!"

Fubuki gave Josuke a disapproving look.

"… What?"

"Guys, I just want to get Yukako to stop liking me!" Koichi said, almost close to tears. "Don't turn me into a criminal!"

Josuke became a little more serious and placed his hand on Koichi's shoulder.

"Koichi, I'm not gonna tell you to do what we just said..." he said. "But you have to be pretty committed if you want to keep her away. You need to make her lose ALL interest. We are going to tackle this thing together..."

*&*&*

Later that day, after classes ended, Yukako left the school building. On her way to leave the school grounds, she passed by Josuke and Okuyasu are sharing a loud conversation.

"Holy shit, no way!" Josuke said, pretending to be shocked. "Koichi Hirose did WHAT?!"

Yukako stopped walking. What she doesn't know is that Josuke and Okuyasu decided to pretend they are slandering Koichi in her presence, hoping she will hear it.

Even though she's not looking their way, they know she is definitely listening, so Josuke and Okuyasu continue to badmouth Koichi more.

"I know, I thought he was an honest-looking guy," Okuyasu said. "But you know, I never expected him to brag about shoplifting!"

"Koichi really steals? No dignity!" Josuke said, disgusted. "But what do you expect from a guy who never keeps his promise? I lent that asshat money and he never paid me back!"

"I heard he cheats on tests and steals girl's underwear!" Okuyasu said. "The guy's got no future!"

"I think it's time to drop the dude!"

"Yeah! Our friendship with him is over!"

Yukako is emotionless. She then walked away after she has listened enough.

"Phew... that chick gives 'intense' a new definition," Okuyasu said, sweating.

"Now all Koichi has to do is to confirm all of that," Josuke said. "She'll lose interest in him faster than a rock sinking in water. And if she doesn't believe it, we have Fubuki to back it up. Our plan is guaranteed fool-proof."

*&*&*

At the Hirose residence that evening, Koichi's parents are out. Koichi is in his room, but he's not alone. Fubuki is sitting next to him on Koichi's bed, with an open textbook. Koichi's bedroom is pretty normal except for the mess on the floor.

"Hmm... I wonder if Josuke and Okuyasu's plan went well," Koichi sighed.

"Have more faith in them," Fubuki said. "Anyways, we have to get you prepared for the makeup English test to fix your bad score."

"I don't know... I can't concentrate when I'm nervous."

"Are you still worried that Yamagishi?"

"Y-yeah... The best case scenario would be her forgetting that I exist altogether."

Someone knocked on the door and it was pushed opened. It is Ayana, Koichi's older sister. She is carrying a tray of two cups of hot milk. She is dressed in girly pajamas and she seemed to be blushing.

"Hey, Ko, still up at this hour?" she said. "I bought you some milk to help you relax. Do you like milk, Fubuki...?"

She blushed more when she said his name. Fubuki just nodded, without looking up to see her. Ayana entered the room. She was so enamored with her brother's handsome friend that she accidentally slipped on a random baseball on the floor. She almost lost her balance but she nearly dropped the tray and spilled the hot milk on the carpet.

"My floor!" Koichi cried.

"Ahh! Oh no, I'm so sorry!" Ayana apologized.

"It's alright," Fubuki said, putting his book down. He used a handkerchief to clean up the mess. He also used Purple Rain to gather up all the milk. "It was an accident, after all."

"Th-thank you," Ayana said. "I'll get you another one..."

"No need," Fubuki said. "It's late and I have to get going."

"A-alright. Then... goodnight~"

Ayana smiled and she left the room. Koichi raised an eyebrow at his friend.

"I think my big sis has a crush on you," he smiled. "Luckily for you, she's not bad like Yukako."

"That's sweet of her," Fubuki said. "But I'm not interested in girls."

"Oh, right. Girls just get in the way of your studies, huh?"

"No. I'm gay."

"Ah, that makes sense--" Koichi stopped and his eyes went wide. He nearly fell off his bed. "You're WHAT?!"

Fubuki just puts away his book into his school bag while Koichi is sputtering in shock and confusion.

"H-hold on! Since when—but you--does Josuke and Okuyasu know about this?!"

"Stop freaking out," Fubuki said, rolling his eyes. He became a little embarrassed and pulled a long strand of his hair. "And no, they don't. You're the first person in this entire town I told... I never told my uncle and grandmother about it either."

"Huh," Koichi blinked, staring stupidly at him. "I guess you can't judge a guy by how he looks."

Fubuki was about to leave, but Koichi stops him.

"Wait! You're not playing a bad joke on me like before, right?"

Fubuki narrowed his eyes at him.

"Yes, Koichi... I was just messing around with you," he said sarcastically. "I'll see you tomorrow."

Fubuki closed the door behind him with a loud bang. Koichi stared into space, more confused than before. However, he does come to accept that Fubuki swings one way and it doesn't affect his friendship with him.

He lay on his back on his bed, staring at the ceiling.

"Fubuki's lucky," Koichi mumbled. "Since he's gay, he doesn't have to worry about girls like Yukako being obsessed with him..."

He closed his eyes and fell fast asleep. However, he has a nightmare of Yukako appearing from a light in the darkness and she coming towards him.

Koichi's eyes flew wide open.

Outside, behind the window, he saw Yukako's pale face staring down at him as though she was in a horror movie.

"AAGHHH!!" he screamed.

Long black hair wrapped around Koichi and slammed him against the ceiling. Yukako opened the window and climbed inside.

"I hate to do this, Koichi," she said. "But your friends don't speak very highly of you."

Koichi's door opened again and Fubuki ran inside once he heard the noise.

"Koichi!!" Fubuki yelled.

Fubuki! He's still here?! Koichi thought. Help me!

Yukako controlled her hair to tie up Fubuki as well. Fubuki is slammed against the wall.

"Kurosawa, you just saw what you shouldn't have seen," Yukako told him. "I can't let you go free and tell anyone."

Yukako picked up Koichi's English test paper and looked at the score.

"No need to worry, I'm here for you now," she said to Koichi with a smile. More hair wrapped around Koichi and Fubuki tighter. "I'll stay by your side and make you into a real man. You have something that no other man has... and it's crucial that you live up to that potential."

J-Josuke, this had the opposite effect! Koichi thought as he and Fubuki are being taken away.

*&*&*

The next morning just before 6:00 AM, Koichi woke up in a new surrounding. He is still in his pajamas and he's completely terrified. Fubuki is with him, but he's stuck to a chair. Long wires were used to tie around his body, hands, and feet. His mouth is gagged with a piece of cloth so Koichi removed the gag.

"Koichi, are you okay...?" Fubuki asked, breathing heavily.

"I g-guess..." Koichi said. "I just woke up and I don't know where we are."

The two of them are in a beautiful room of a fancy house with a wide window view of the trees, cliffs, and the ocean. Koichi thought about using the phone to call the police, but the line has been ripped off. Koichi is still wearing shirt and pajama bottoms while Fubuki is wearing his school uniform.

"We must be in one of those resort houses," Fubuki said. "Makes sense why Yamagishi brought us here, it's so far away from the town. I bet neither Josuke nor our families know we're missing yet."

"I can't believe this... Yukako... she kidnapped us!" Koichi said. "We have to get out of here!"

Purple Rain materialized and began pulling the wires apart. It managed to snap a few when a door of the room opened. Fubuki quickly dispelled his Stand and Koichi turned around.

Yukako, wearing an apron over her school uniform, pushed a cart of all kinds of hot breakfast she cooked. Koichi could hear his stomach grumbling and he realized he is hungry.

"Koichi, are you hungry now?" she asked with a smile. "It's a bit shame we have to share breakfast with a guest, but I don't mind so much. Speaking of which... it looks like our guest is awake."

Fubuki cast a dark look at her direction but she ignored him. Yukako hummed a tune as she began setting the food up on a table.

Koichi and Fubuki looked at each other and thought of the same thing; at this moment, they don't have a chance to fight against Yukako and her hair Stand, so they decided it is best to go along with Yukako's fantasy for now. When they find the chance, they will escape together.

"Hey... I have a question," Koichi said. "Can you answer it?"

"I'll try," Yukako replied as she continued preparing the table.

"Last night, you did something with your hair... How did you do that?"

"Were you surprised? Silly me, I suppose the first time would startle anyone."

I see what you're doing, Koichi, Fubuki thought. She doesn't know we're Stand users yet. Yamagishi was in a classroom with three Stand users for at least a month and she hadn't realized it... This could work to our advantage.

"It was around February," Yukako began her story. "Somebody shot an arrow into my chest... though it's possible I was just dreaming it..."

She explained that when she woke up, the wound was sealed and she found out her special power. She thought it's a special kind of telekinesis, but both Koichi and Fubuki knew she became a Stand user after being pierced by Keicho Nijimura.

"So..." Koichi said. "Do you know anyone with special powers like yours?"

"No," Yukako replied as she took off her apron. She invited Koichi to the table with a smile. "Now come have a seat, you're still a growing boy. You have to eat properly to become the outstanding man I know you can be."

"What about me?" Fubuki demanded. "I'm still tied up here."

"Don't worry, Kurosawa. If you stay quiet, I'll save a few leftovers for you and put them in a dog bowl."

Fubuki glared at her.

Koichi just has to smile and nod for now. He sat on a chair at the table and gazed at the good food before him. If there is one thing he has to admit, Yukako seemed like a great cook.

"This looks amazing!" he said happily. "Let's dig in!"

"Not so fast, Mister!" Yukako said. "You can't eat yet!"

Koichi was already holding a butter knife and piece of bread, and he looked at her with a confused look. Yukako pulled out a familiar test paper.

"You failed your English test," she said. "While I can acknowledge there's more to a man than his intelligence, this pitiful score is unacceptable. So I've decided we can study while we eat. Okay?"

Yukako cleared half the table and presented three boxes before Koichi. She told Koichi that she'll be giving him some questions and he must the correct answer from either Box A, B, or C. Koichi will eat whatever is behind the box. Yukako is determined to beat English into him.

"You absorb information a lot faster when you're having fun anyway," Yukako says, "instead of long hours of tedious studying followed by a mock test."

"I can hear your jab from over here," Fubuki grumbled.

Koichi looked at the boxes and he began to get nervous.

"Wait! Hold on a minute!" he protested.

"You'll do what I say!" Yukako said firmly. "As long as we're living together in this house, everything I do has to be for your benefit. Agreed?"

She smiled and began her first quiz.

"Prince often sings about funky music," she said. "What is the definition of 'funk'?"

She pulled up the answers in the boxes:

A: Crazy music

B: Groovy music

C: Smooth music

She waits for Koichi to pick the correct answer. Koichi meekly looks over to Fubuki...

"Don't ask for help!" she snapped. "I am teaching you right now!"

Koichi trembled. He has to play along. If he refuses, Yukako will get angry. However, he's too stressed to think about the correct answer from each box. He went for his gut instinct and chose Box B.

Yukako smiled.

"Yaaay, correct~! See, you do know this!" she cheered. She lifted the box to reveal Koichi's prize. "Here it is, your two boiled eggs~!"

She began peeling the shell of one of the eggs.

"Do you want some salt with it?"

This is it? Fubuki thought incredulously. This is a silly game only Mr. Miyazaki would think of!

Phew! She seems to be in a good mood now, Koichi thought. Maybe this isn't so bad after...

"By the way," Yukako said as she lifted Box A. "If you had chosen Box A, I would have made you eat this eraser."

"HUH?!"

"And Box C has a bar of soap."

What the heeeell?! Koichi nearly screamed in horror. She can't be serious?!

"Next meal on the menu is bacon and eggs. Think hard!" Yukako put the three boxes together again. "This is a question: What is the synonym for 'contrast'?"

A: Illuminate

B: Objectify

C: Differentiate

"Which one?"

She is serious! Koichi is now sweating. If I choose the wrong box, she'll make me eat whatever's behind it!

"Come on now, answer. The food's going to get cold."

Wh... what should I do?! You've got to be kidding me...

From the corner of his eye, Koichi noticed Fubuki mouthing something so Yukako can't hear him. He's trying to help Koichi from afar.

W-was that 'A'? Is that the correct answer? No, that can't be right... 'San...?' San! 'San' is 'three', and 'three' is 'C'!

Koichi points a shaky finger at Box C. Yukako stared at him.

"Tell me, Koichi... were you taking cues from Kurosawa to pick the right answer?"

Yukako's face twisted with anger and her hair flared up.

"So the rumors about you shoplifting and cheating were true!!" she yelled. "For your penalty, you're going to eat what's in both boxes A and B!"

There are two dishes. Box A is a bowl of cornflakes made out of English vocabulary words swimming in milk, while Box B is a plate of asparagus wrapped in strips of dictionary pages.

"You're going to learn with every bite you take!" she said. She angrily stuck a fork into one of the dictionary-wrapped asparaguses and offered it to Koichi. "Here! Now open up that mouth, 'cuz here comes the knowledge!"

Koichi can't put up with this insanity anymore. He knocked the fork away. He tried running away and jump out through the window. However, something pulled him by his scalp and stuck him to the ceiling.

"I implanted a few hundred strands of my own hair into your skull," Yukako told him calmly.

Koichi is then dropped to the floor. He clutched his scalp and groaned in pain. Fubuki has had enough of this.

"Dammit, Koichi! Tell her the truth!" Fubuki said. "Tell her about us!"

Yukako and Koichi looked at him.

"Us? What is he talking about?" Yukako asked.

Koichi is still on the floor, his scalp stilling hurting. "Huh? I... w-what?"

"Yamagishi, there's a logical reason why Koichi could not give you a proper answer about his feelings," Fubuki said. "The truth is... he's already dating me. We're lovers."

"We are?!" Koichi cried, before covering his mouth.

I'm trying to save your ass here! Fubuki fumed in exasperation. The least you can do is play along!

"Koichi... it hurts me that you went behind my back and pursue a girl," Fubuki said, trying to look hurt in a tender way. "Wasn't I good enough for you?"

Koichi continued to be oblivious and just stared at him, wondering how to respond to that.

Yukako's face darkened. She approached Fubuki with a menacing aura.

"That lie doesn't fool me, Kurosawa," she said. "I already know Koichi is single when he met me. I know what you're trying to do...."

Her face twisted in rage.

"You're planning to seduce and steal my beloved Koichi away from me, right?! I never thought I'd see you stoop to this low! I will make you eat the bar of soap from Box C!"

Yukako's hair forced Fubuki's mouth opened and she shoved the soap bar down his mouth. Fubuki began to choke.

"Chew on it and swallow it!" she shouted. "That's your breakfast now!"

"Yukako, stop!" Koichi protested. "H-he's telling the truth! I just lied to you that I was single--!"

Fubuki's chair tipped over to the side and it fell on the floor, bringing Fubuki with him. Fubuki spat put the soap bar and started coughing and spitting.

"You psychotic witch!" Fubuki yelled.

Yukako just smiled darkly at him. She turned back to Koichi.

"I won't let anyone else have you... not even him," she said. "I'm well aware that you'll probably hate me for going to these extreme measures. But by the time you leave this house and you see how much you've changed... you'll thank me. And you'll realize you need a woman like me in your life... You'll understand that you can't live without me."

She then put the rest of the breakfast onto the cart.

"You might as well know," she continued. She gestured to the dictionary-wrapped asparagus and the vocab cornflakes still left behind on the table. "Until you finish both dishes A and B, I'm not going to feed you anything else..."

She opened the door and pushed the cart out. She turned around one last time.

"There's one more thing... This house is a summer hideout for some company's CEO who lives in Tokyo. No one will be visiting this place until summer. Although, it doesn't matter who drops by... because in the very end..." She then smiled. "Love is an invincible power."

She closed the door behind her, leaving Koichi and Fubuki trapped in the room.

"SOMEBODY HELP US!!" Koichi screamed. He ran to the door and tried to twist the knob but it is locked. He slammed his fists on the door. "Yukako, let us go! You can't keep us here until summer!"

"Shouting is pointless," Fubuki said. "Help me get out of these wires."

Koichi looked around and he remembered he placed the butter knife on the table. He retrieved it and hurriedly cut the wires until Fubuki is freed.

"Fubuki, I can't take this!" Koichi cried. "She's getting crazier by the minute! We have to make a run for it! Let's break the window!"

"Calm down. Use your low voice to speak so she can't hear us," Fubuki said, grabbing his shoulders. "Besides, breaking the window will alert her attention and we haven't figured the range of her Stand yet. We can't make a run for it, because we don't know where to go... she'll catch us in no time."

"Wait... you can use Purple Rain to defend us, right?"

"About that..." Fubuki showed him that his pockets are empty. "She took my water bottles while I was knocked out. She even took my wallet too. Without a water source, there's not much my Stand can do."

"The ocean! No, wait, we're trapped in here... The milk in the vocab cornflakes! Maybe it'll work!"

They went to the table. Fubuki pulled out the soggy vocab words and set them aside.

"This is not enough to help us escape and fight her..." Fubuki frowned. He offered the bowl to Koichi. "Drink this instead."

"I don't want it..." Koichi mumbled, clutching his stomach.

"You need your strength. I'll remove the dictionary strips from the asparagus."

*&*&*

Hours later, and Yukako did not show her presence yet. The two boys wished they have a watch to check the time. Fubuki and Koichi take turns looking out the window to see if anyone passes by the house. Both of them are sitting on the floor, with their backs leaning against the wall.

Fubuki found some books on a shelf. Reading helps him to calm his nerves, but when he opened them, he saw a lot of pages have been cut off. Yukako must have used the books' pages to put in her horrible meals.

"I can't believe I'm missing school today," Fubuki muttered. "Even though it's Saturday and classes are a half day."

"I know, right?" Koichi said sadly. He is stared down at his lap. "Why couldn't Yukako kidnap us last week or next week when we don't have classes on every second and fourth Saturdays of the month? … I'm sorry for getting you involved with this, Fubuki."

"Don't blame yourself. Anyways, there's still Josuke and Okuyasu. They'll come and find us."

"I hope so."

They continue to sit together in silence. Koichi spoke up again.

"You know, Fubuki... when I first met you, I thought you were cold and unfriendly," he said. "But after a while, I saw you're actually a decent guy underneath that exterior. I understand why Josuke cares about you and why he became your friend in the first place."

Fubuki listened to him while he stared ahead. His expression is emotionless.

"If there's one thing I learned from all of this... is that I took your mock tests all for granted," Koichi chuckled.

Fubuki couldn't help but smirk. Then he changed the topic.

"Let me see your hair. Yamagishi said she planted her hair strands in your skull."

Koichi did as he was told and Fubuki looked carefully.

"I found them, it's easy to spot black strands in light hair," Fubuki said. "I'll try pulling them out..."

When he did, Koichi cried out in pain. Suddenly, some black hair came out from Fubuki's hair and wrap themselves around Fubuki's neck, pulling him aside. Both boys realized Yukako placed some of her hair in Fubuki's skull as well.

Fubuki was thrown against the opposite wall. Yukako stepped inside the room. She had just used her Stand on him.

"The reason why I hadn't put you in another room is that it's easier for me to keep an eye on both of you in here," Yukako told Fubuki. "If you try to hurt Koichi again... or make any advances towards him... I'll make you suffer."

The hair around Fubuki released him so he can breathe again. Koichi remained frozen in his spot, helpless to do anything. Yukako retrieved the empty dishes, glad to see Koichi has consumed the meals.

"Since you're a good boy who finished his meals, you are allowed to leave this room..."

Koichi's heart lifted.

"… To use the bathroom."

"O-oh," Koichi said. "Th-that's okay. I don't feel like going yet."

Yukako raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah! I don't need to go yet!"

The schoolgirl shrugged her shoulders. "That's your choice, Koichi. Oh, I'm already preparing lunch. I hope you're ready for the next quiz because this time... I'll make sure Fubuki won't help you."

Koichi began to panic.

*&*&*

Meanwhile, Okuyasu has just finished using a phone booth in the high school. Josuke is with him.

"It looks like no one in Koichi's family knows where he went either," Okuyasu told him. "They're talking about whether or not they should call the police."

"And Fubuki is nowhere to be seen either," Josuke said. "If my hunch is correct, Yukako must have done something to them since she's missing too."

"I kinda feel responsible," Okuyasu said, feeling worried. "You don't think Fubuki and Koichi are dead, right?"

"I don't think so. She's probably keeping them captive somewhere. We need to find him fast... I feel like their lives could be put in danger."

Okuyasu remembered something. "I could be wrong, but doesn't Koichi have Echoes? He could call out for help."

"Yes, but Echoes only has a range about 50 meters," Josuke replied. "Either he's knocked out right now, or he's been taken somewhere isolated. We've gotta start guessing based on those two factors."

"Damn... it's like looking for a needle in a haystack."

*&*&*

"IT WON'T OPEN! This can't be happening to meee!"

Back in the summer house, shortly after a stressful lunch, Koichi is fidgeting and hopping like crazy outside the toilet room. He cannot open the door since there is a lock with a 4-digit number combination. On the door is a piece of paper that reads:

"In what year did Columbus discover the New World? The correct answer will open the lock."

"I know it was the title to a Ridley Scott movie, but I didn't see it because it was way too long!" Koichi whined. He could feel his bladder about to burst. "It was 1... 4... what's the last two?!"

He wished Fubuki is here, but Fubuki is still tied up in the other room so Yukako can prevent him from helping Koichi.

However, Fubuki has already sent Purple Rain to assist the troubled Koichi while Yukako isn’t looking. From the end of the hallway, the humanoid Stand quickly read the question above the lock.

"Koichi, the answer is 1492," Purple Rain whispered to him in Fubuki's voice before it disappeared.

Koichi added the last two numbers and the lock made a clicking sound.

"OH GOD, THANK YOU!"

Koichi pushed open the door... to find the toilet's lid closed, and new quiz and another lock combination waiting for him.

"ARE YOU KIDDING MEEEE?!" he wailed. He stopped when he felt something warm and wet running down his pants.

The accident he desperately wanted to avoid has happened and he could only shed a single tear.

*&*&*

Yukako packed extra clothes for Koichi, who is now wearing a shirt with a hoodie and new bottoms.

They are back in the main family room. Fubuki is backed being tied to a chair but this time, he is tied by Yukako's hair stuck to his scalp. Yukako has just finished folding Koichi's previous clothes she has washed and dried.

"Your pajama bottoms are clean, as well as your underwear," she told him.

Koichi just stood quietly, his face filled with shame. Yukako looked at him when he didn't speak up.

"Is there a problem?" she asked. "I can't help if I don't know what's wrong."

"I... I'm a freshman in high school... and I wet myself," Koichi replied in a shaky voice. "It's not even embarrassing. I feel like a terrible human being..."

He looked up to Yukako.

"Please... can we just stop this?" he begged. "I'm sure that you despise me by now... Just let me go home! What is there to like about a guy who peed his pants?!"

Yukako became sad.

"Poor Koichi..." she said. "I've hurt your feelings, haven't I? I'm such a bad girl..."

Koichi is so mad he wanted to cry.

"Are you even listening to him?" Fubuki demanded. "You humiliated him. How could you expect him to like you after tha—Urk!"

Some of Yukako's hair wrapped around his tongue, preventing him to speak. Yukako moved closer to Koichi.

"There's just one thing," she said, putting her face close to Koichi's. "Even though you say that you're a terrible human being, I can see something in your eyes... That faint spark of strength... If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were hiding an ace up your sleeve."

Koichi gulped.

"That's what I like about you," Yukako said, smiling. "I want to know everything about you... After all, what's a little bit of snot or poop when you're madly in love with your soulmate? In fact, doing your laundry made me incredibly happy."

She walked over to the door and opened it to reveal what is in the next room. Koichi and Fubuki are horrified to see an electric chair.

"What do you think? It'll be ready for our dinner tonight," Yukako said, feeling excited. "I'm thinking of making Italian, so I need to order some olive oil."

As soon as she left, Fubuki is released. Koichi started panicking again.

"She's getting worse!" Koichi cried as he looked out the window. "It's only a matter of time before she finds out we're Stand users!"

"I'd love to stay and taste her Italian cooking," Fubuki muttered. "But I'd rather have another bar of soap to eat."

He touched his hair.

"I can't believe she put a hundred of her hairs in my head too. I was careless... How big is her Stand's range, anyway? It can't be more than 10 meters."

"Wait..." Koichi realized, turning around. "She said just now that she needed to order some olive oil. But all the telephone lines are cut."

"She would have to order it from somewhere else..." Fubuki's eyes widen. "Like a payphone."

Koichi sends Echoes up in the air outside the house. Through his Stand, Koichi sees a phone booth down the road and it is fortunately within range for Echoes.

"Fubuki! I found a phone booth!" Koichi said. "Thank goodness, Echoes is a sound Stand. Now I can signal Josuke and get help!"

When Echoes reach the booth, a new problem arises.

"… What's the matter?" Fubuki asked when Koichi went quiet.

"I don't have a ten yen coin!" Koichi cried. "I was in my pajamas when she dragged me here!"

"Dial the emergency button call police, then you won't have to pay anything."

"But if I do that, she might kill the officers! Do you have any ten yen coins with you?"

"I told you, she took my wallet!"

Suddenly, Yukako appeared at the window.

"You were wondering if there was a phone booth around here, weren't you?" she asked.

Both Koichi and Fubuki are startled.

"Y-Yukako!" Koichi gasped.

"I can read you two like a book," she said. "You remember me saying I was going to order some olive oil, and you thought there had to be a payphone nearby. But you needed ten yen coins, which neither of you has... is that right?"

"Really? I didn't know there's a payphone nearby," Fubuki said.

"Don't play dumb, Kurosawa. You may be intelligent, but you're not clever."

"I'm not the one who kidnaps people against their will, Yamagishi."

He and Yukako exchange dark glares.

"Whatever," she said. "You two should give up calling someone for help. But just in case, I'm going to destroy the phone's emergency button. Neither of you is taking a single step outside of this house. Well... that's not entirely true for Kurosawa's case."

"Huh?" Koichi and Fubuki looked at her, confused.

"I've decided this will be your last night here, Kurosawa. You're free to leave... but it won't be your home you'll be returning to. You see that cliff?" Yukako gestured her head toward the cliff. "After dinner, you'll be sleeping at the bottom of the sea. It will just be me and Koichi from now on."

Yukako giggled. Fubuki's heart nearly stopped when he realized this girl is planning to kill him.

"Is there anything you like for me to order?" she asked.

"N-not really..." Koichi replied.

"How about a bottle of water?" Fubuki asked. "I haven't drunk anything all day, and my throat's dry."

"Drink the water from the flower vases," Yukako told him.

"Bitch."

Then off she goes to the phone booth.

*&*&*

She arrived and as she put coins into the phone, she noticed markings on her arm. The same arm that was holding the phone.

"What are these things...?" she wondered.

Sounds of dial tones began coming out from the strange markings.

"It's calling a number! But I haven't dialed anything yet!" she said, surprised. "What's going on?"

Behind her, it was Echoes who has planted the dial tones on her without her noticing. Yukako heard someone picking up the call from the other end. She recognized Josuke's voice.

"Hello. Higashikata residence."

Yukako gasped.

"… Hello? Is it you, Koichi?"

Yukako tried removing the markings on her arm.

"Koichi! It's me, Josuke! Where are you? I can hear waves in the background!"

Yukako hangs up the phone, but it was too late. Furious, she realizes Koichi has a Stand like her. She turns around and spotted a small green Stand zooming back to the house.

"I did it, Fubuki!" Koichi said. "The call went through! Now Josuke's gonna rush over here and save us! It'll take 20 minutes by car!"

"That's great, but Yamagishi's coming back!" Fubuki said as he peered through the window. He tried to remain calm but he's sweating in fear. "She's seen your Echoes and she definitely knows what you've done!"

"We just have to hold out until then! … Somehow!"

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 15: Yukako Yamagishi is in Love, Pt 2

Yukako, filled with rage, started marching up towards the summer house.

"Koichi... Koichi...!" she muttered darkly.

Fubuki managed to open the door of the family room while Koichi is at the window.

"Aaah! Sh-she's coming back over!" Koichi said fearfully. "Looks like we got no choice but to fight!"

"If she catches us, she'll probably kill me and then hide you away to another place when Josuke comes around," Fubuki said. "Josuke may know we're in a place by the ocean, but he doesn't know which house we're in! We can't let her catch us, no matter what!"

He grabbed a flower vase and tipped it over. Purple Rain touched the water and made it levitate in mid-air. This gave Fubuki an idea so he ran to the kitchen to get more water from the tap.

He hurried back to Koichi and they barricade the front door with other pieces of furniture. Yukako reached the front steps but she could not enter the house.

"Open this door!" Yukako yelled.

"You want in so bad, why don't you break it down?" Koichi taunted her.

He and Fubuki looked at each other, sharing smirks; if Josuke sees a house with broken doors or windows, he will find it suspicious. Fubuki has two flower vases, filled to the top with water.

The doorknob twisted harder but the door still won't budge open. Fubuki carefully used the first vase to spill some water on the floor so it can flow outside under the door. Koichi began wrapping wires from the electric chair around the doorknob.

Yukako suddenly stopped twisting the knob.

"You made me very happy, Koichi..." she said behind the door. "I am so happy that you and I share the same kind of ability. Though I have to say I was a bit irritated that you kept it as a secret. Even so, I'm happy you're like me..."

She smiled and pressed her hands together close to her chest.

"After all, when two people love each other, nothing is more important than a relationship built on love, trust, and shared values, right? The two of us share something that no one else has! We're meant for each other!"

"… I'm going to vomit," Fubuki said out loud for Yukako to hear.

She became angry again.

"WILL YOU SHUT YOUR TRAP, KUROSAWA?!"

She touched the doorknob again. She screamed when she got her hand electrocuted. Koichi had plugged the electric wires to an outlet. This angered Yukako.

"I'm telling you to open the door, Koichi!!" she ordered. "Right now!"

"Come back when you're the Avon Lady," Fubuki added with a sarcastic smile.

Purple Rain punched the water puddle under the door. It made the water right outside the door bubbled into a gelatin-like compound that covered half the entire door. Yukako stepped back in surprise.

"What... is this?!" she demanded.

"This is my power," Fubuki told her from behind the door. "It's the same as yours and Koichi's, but we call this a 'Stand'. You might as well give up because you won't be able to get past Purple Rain's barrier."

Yukako is trembled. "If... you have the same kind of ability like mine... then that makes you my enemy! Somehow, you turned Koichi against me, didn't you?! You will pay for that!"

She then noticed Echoes behind her and it was holding a sound message in physical form.

Echoes slapped the sound on her cheek and Koichi's words started echoing in her ears.

"I HATE YOU! "

"I HATE YOU!"

"I HATE YOU!"

"Meant for each other?!" Koichi shouted. "Why can't you see how much I don't want to be with you?! Fubuki didn't turn me against you or anything, I've always felt like this! That noise will keep bombarding you until you apologize and give up!"

However, nothing happened. Yukako is emotionless.

"What's this?" she said. "I can't hear a thing."

The sound the literally peeled away from her skin. It's as though nothing Koichi says will reach her.

"Oh, no!" Koichi gasped.

"Well, that almost worked," Fubuki mumbled as a sweat drop roll down his face.

"Th-this girl is nothing like Tamami! Her delusions are way too strong!"

"Sh-she's more stubborn than I expected..."

Koichi then screamed as Yukako's strands started pulling his hair. Fubuki grabbed Koichi's arm and tried to pull him back. The two are thrown across the room. Koichi hit a wall while Fubuki is smashed into a glass cabinet. Several shards of glass cut into his face, causing him to bleed out. However, he is not hurt too badly. Purple Rain already placed a jelly-like substance made of water that covered his body that cushion any blows thrown him.

"I finally found out that we've been bound by the one and only red thread of fate in this world," Yukako said as her hair moved dangerously. It began tearing off the hardened gelatin compound from the door. "Some people never find their soulmates! Don't you understand how lucky we are?!"

Koichi is lifted up by his hair, his body sliding up against the wall. Koichi is then smashed to the barricade on the door, breaking it enough so Yukako can finally push the door open wide enough for her to see a bleeding Koichi in the floor, but not enough for her to enter inside yet.

"Oh, Koichi... my plan was to turn you into an outstanding man, but now things are different," she said in a sinister voice. Her hair grew longer and crawled inside the room to remove the big furniture that is still blocking the door. "I won't let you leave this house until you fall in love with me... I will make you love me! Or else... I might just kill you."

Koichi is paralyzed.

Several water shurikens are thrown and they splashed onto Yukako's hair, gluing her hair to the door as though it was an adhesive.

"Uuugh...!" Yukako growled as she tried to pull her hair free.

Fubuki stood up and fixed his glasses.

"This is like the third and fourth time this happened to me," he said. He's so annoyed to find one of the lenses broken again. "Just how many times do I have to get Josuke to fix them?"

Purple Rain grabbed the water from the second and last vase and it created three rings of water around Fubuki. They levitate gracefully in midair, looking like some kind of beautiful veil that can be used for both offense and defense.

"Damn you! Release me this instant, Kurosawa!" Yukako snarled. "You dare get in my way of happiness again?!"

"Shut your mouth and listen carefully, Yamagishi," Fubuki told her coldly. "You don't know anything about Koichi... What you call the 'red thread of fate' is just Stand users being drawn to one another. The reason you were so attracted to him in the first place is that he got a Stand. If he never had Echoes, you wouldn't find him so special."

"Enough of your lies, Kurosawa! You will never understand what we have together! Your heart is made of ice, incapable of true love! You will give me Koichi right now!"

Not even Fubuki's words can reach her and Koichi is getting more afraid and desperate. He can't let Yukako get inside the house so he has to attack her again with Echoes. He might have gone easy on her last time, but if he put everything into the new attack, he can make a louder, stronger sound.

He called out his Stand. "Echoes!"

However, Echoes dropped to the ground behind Koichi. It has petrified itself and began to lose its color.

"What is that?" Yukako asked, still behind the door. "It's different from before."

"What's going on, Koichi?!" Fubuki asked. "Echoes is not moving at all!"

"I... I'm trying to make it move!" Koichi cried. "It looks so dried up!"

Koichi stared in horror at the lifeless shell that was once Echoes and he fell into despair.

"N... No way... D-did it die? Am I so much of a mess that I killed my own Stand?!" Koichi wailed, shutting his eyes. He clasped his head. "I can't believe it! Echoes is dead!"

"Don't be stupid!" Fubuki yelled at him. "If your Stand is dead, you would have been dead too--!"

Fubuki began to choke. Yukako's hair strands, which have been hiding in his hair, wrapped tight around his neck and lifted him in the hair. Fubuki's water rings began to fall apart.

"Fubuki!!" Koichi cried. "Yukako, stop! You're suffocating him!"

Yukako managed to release her hair that was stuck to the door, breaking the solidified water. The pieces fly everywhere.

"Let him go!" Koichi begged. "I'll stay in this house with for as long as you want! I won't fight against you anymore! I'll answer your quizzes and eat whatever food you made for me, but don't hurt Fubuki!"

"K... Koichi...!" Fubuki choked out. "Don't... do this..."

"I'm afraid I don't have it in me to be merciful anymore, Koichi!" Yukako angrily told him. After freeing her hair she used it move the huge cabinet out from the door. "After all, Kurosawa tried to keep me away from you! And when I'm done with him, you're going to regret hurting my feelings!"

She's gonna kill us! Koichi thought, paralyzed with fear. If that psycho makes it through the door, she'll kill me after she kills Fubuki!

Fubuki is not done yet. Purple Rain used one the water rings to create multiple, tiny blades and they slice up the hair strands around Fubuki's neck. Purple Rain scoop them all up and molded them into multiple water shurikens.

Purple Rain threw them. They flew through the air, but some of Yukako's hair just sliced them apart before they hit her.

"Fubuki! It won't work again!" Koichi cried. "You have to do something else!"

Fubuki backhands Koichi right in his face. The latter whimpered in pain.

"What the hell are you standing around here, you idiot?!" Fubuki yelled at him. "Get out of here while you still can! I'll hold her off!"

"B-but...!"

"I managed to break the lock on the back door! You can escape through there!"

"Sh-she'll kill you!"

"I've already said that you won't leave this house, Koichi!" Yukako yelled. "And how dare you strike him, Kurosawa! I'll kill you!"

Yukako's hair managed to destroy the furniture blocking the door. Koichi screamed as Fubuki and Purple Rain jumped in front of him to protect him...

No! Don't get any closer! Koichi screamed inside his mind. I don't want her to come any closer! I wish that door could blow her far away from us!

Neither Koichi and Fubuki realized at first that Echoes actually hardened its body into a cocoon. The cocoon then began to break, revealing something new inside of it. Yukako is the only one who noticed something strange is happening to the Stand. Once she finally entered the house, she did not attack Koichi and Fubuki yet. She was more preoccupied with the cocoon when she saw it is already broken open and whatever was inside it has disappeared.

Angered, she turned to Koichi and Fubuki. "Where did it go?!"

"Huh?" Koichi blinked, still scared.

"Answer the damn question, Koichi! I'm asking you where is that thing!"

Koichi looked to where she is pointing at and he saw the broken husk of Echoes.

"What is that?!" Fubuki suddenly said in surprise.

Koichi and Yukako looked up to see another form of Echoes.

Echoes appeared more humanoid and it is fully clad in a shell-like armor with a large high-collar. It still has a long organic tail with a dark belly and bright back, and kunai-like stinger at the end.

"I don't believe it!" Koichi said. "It's Echoes! It's still alive!"

"Echoes didn't die at all, it just changed into something new," Fubuki said.

Yukako is unimpressed with the new form. She glared at the Stand while she remains standing in the doorway and her hand resting on the door.

"Is this a joke?" she asked. "It may look different, but it's actually gotten smaller than before. Changing into a new shape doesn't make it stronger."

Echoes disappeared into the air and reappeared in front of Yukako, to everyone's shock.

"It's faster now!" Fubuki noticed, adjusting his glasses. "There's a massive increase in speed!"

Without warning, a violent whirlwind propelling Yukako out of the house. Even Fubuki and Koichi noticed this sudden gust.

"She's blown away!" Fubuki gasped. "What did this new Echoes just do to her, Koichi?!"

"I really don't know what just happened either!" Koichi replied.

Fubuki looked around the room.

"How odd..." he said, his eyes bulged wide open. "Even though there was that huge gust of wind, none of the broken glasses and wood chips from the destroyed furniture were blown away with her... but why...?"

"I get it now! Koichi noticed something behind the door and he showed it to Fubuki. "This new ability... this door explains everything!"

On the door is the sound effect "whoosh", to describe when a wind is blowing. Koichi touched the sound effect and a strong wind nearly blew him away. The wind stopped blowing when Koichi removed his hand.

"Yukako touched the door with the writing on it and the sound became a real entity!" Koichi explained. "The sensation of the word 'whoosh' literally sent her flying! A few moments ago, I wished for the door to blow her away... I guess I activated that ability."

The new Echoes retrieved the sound effect and reverted back to the tip of its tail.

"It looks Echoes can detach its tail to make sound effects," Fubuki said after observation. "However, it can only do one sound effect at a time... Despite this limit, its powers became more versatile and useful."

"Fubuki... we can't run away now," Koichi stated, feeling more confident. "I have a feeling that we can actually defeat Yukako right here and now."

The bespectacled teen smirked. "Then you and Echoes better get ready. I think she'll be coming back soon."

"This isn't my old Echoes anymore... This is a brand new Echoes! Echoes ACT2!"

I have to catch up to Koichi now, Fubuki thought eagerly. Maybe I should get Purple Rain to work harder to become Purple Rain ACT2?

*&*&*

Yukako was sent flying over the cliff but she managed to grab a lone tree with Love Deluxe. She is flabbergasted by the new ability of Echoes.

She noticed a taxi cab down the road and she spotted Josuke and Okuyasu getting out. They have finally arrived after they figured out where her hideout is and it's a matter of time until they find Koichi and Fubuki. However, Yukako is still calm.

"Search around all you want," Yukako said as she hurried toward the house. "But cute little Koichi is mine. I won't let anyone else have him."

She approached the house and the front door is open. Koichi used a pair of scissors to cut his hair into a flat-top; that way, he's able to snip all of Yukako's hair strands that were stuck to his scalp. Beside him, Fubuki fixed his uniform in a prim manner. With their Stands out, both of them stand before Yukako, confident in their victory.

"I strongly suggest you keep your distance, Yukako," Koichi warned her. "There's no way you can beat Echoes ACT2's new abilities."

"We decided to live in this house from now on," Fubuki told her with a sarcastic tone. "Unfortunately, three is already a crowd, so find somewhere else to stay."

Irritated by their arrogance, Yukako's left eyelid began to twitch. Since she was a little girl, whenever she gets too upset, her eye muscles start to twitch before she became violent. She knew this is happening because Koichi is being so difficult with her.

"Don't think you can get so cocky because you got a little upgrade!" she snarled. "I'm gonna have to get a little rough now!"

Yukako marched right up the wooden steps and she stepped on a water puddle placed there by Purple Rain. The water is so slick like oil that Yukako slipped. She grabbed onto the handrail to catch herself, but she burned her hand instead. She had unknowingly touched a "sizzle" sound effect placed there by Echoes ACT2.

She shrieked in pain and hurt herself falling down on the steps. Thanks to the slippery water, she even broke her nose and caused it to bleed.

"How could you two do this?!" she screamed. She has one hand to hold her bloody nose while her other hand is slightly burned. "You burned me and broke my nose, you piece of shits!"

Koichi crossed his arms while Echoes ACT2 retrieved the sound effect from the handrail.

"When you said you were going to get a little rough," he says, "I didn't think you'd meant your vulgar mouth."

Yukako's left eye twitched again.

"… How dare you do this to me after all I've done! You're just a baby chick who pissed his pants!" she yelled. Her hair glowed with Stand energy. "You are MINE! You belong me to, and yet you defy me?!"

"You're still stuck in your delusional fantasy?" Fubuki asked. "Give it up already, Yamagishi. Your 'true love' spiel is getting tiresome."

"HE—IS—MINE!!"

Fully enraged, Yukako unleashed Love Deluxe towards Koichi. Purple Rain tried three water rings at the hair but they were easily broken apart. Yukako's hair grew longer and it spread around the house, attacking from several directions through the windows and on the floor.

Fubuki and Koichi pressed against each other, realizing they are completely trapped.

"Oh, man... I can't believe she can make her hair grow to this length..." Koichi said.

"Gee, you think?" Fubuki muttered. "But still, her crazy determination is something."

"So, its' name is Echoes... pathetic," Yukako said, glaring at Koichi. Her voice is at her most dangerous. "Now that I know what it does, it's not impressive at all. All I have to do is avoid touching that writing. Now, I'll ask you this one more time... You love me, right? Koichi?"

Koichi just gave her a disappointed look.

"Just try and say that you don't... I'll rip you, and Fubuki, and this house apart right here. If you die, you'll be mine forever... because you'll live on in my heart as a memory forever."

Koichi continued to stare at her.

"Hurry up and answer my question!!"

"If you kill Koichi... he lives on in your heart," Fubuki spoke up. "Is that about right? Well... I won't give you the satisfaction."

Right in front of Yukako's eyes, Fubuki pulled out a switchblade knife.

"He can't be yours if I kill him instead."

With a cold look, Fubuki stabbed Koichi in the stomach. Koichi uttered a short, horrified gasp before he crumpled to the floor... still clutching the knife in his stomach.

Yukako's eyes widen; she couldn't bring herself to speak.

"Too bad for you..." Fubuki said with an evil look on his face. "You should have listened to what Koichi was telling you in the first place. He already told you he hated you, this is your fault that he's dead now."

Yukako released a loud scream that sounded almost demonic. Blinded by rage, her Love Deluxe grabbed Fubuki. The latter could feel his neck, body, and arms being squeezed and pulled from several directions.

"You! You dare...! You bastard!" Yukako is now raving like a madwoman. "You murdered my first love! You murdered my Koichi!! YOU'RE DEAD, KUROSAWA!!"

The front of Fubuki's uniform popped open to reveal familiar writing planted on his shirt. It's a sound effect of "kaboom" and Love Deluxe has touched it when it wrapped itself around Fubuki's body.

Fubuki's eyes glinted and he smirked.

Koichi's body stirred. Koichi was only pretending to be dead so he dropped the fake switchblade knife.

"I wasn't sure if you'd try to go after me or Koichi first," Fubuki explained. "This is the plan I came  up with... and you fell for it hook, line, and sinker."

"I've already told you. There's no way you can beat Echoes ACT2's new abilities," Koichi told Yukako. "You're already touching the words that will blow you away. Not bad for a pants-wetting baby chick, huh?"

Love Deluxe triggered the "kaboom" sound and there is a loud explosion. Yukako is once again violently propelled upward, with heir hair being destroyed in the process.

Yukako landed on the edge of the cliff. Her hair has gone completely messy and white; since Echoes ACT2's 'explosion' attacked her hair directly, it must have caused serious damage to it. She hasn't even opened her eyes.

Koichi and Fubuki left the house and they walk toward her body to check on her. Koichi became worried so he sent Echoes to check on her.

"Sh-she couldn't have died... right?" he nervously asked Fubuki.

"There's a high chance that she did kick the bucket," Fubuki said, scowling. "Echoes' ability may not be a power-based one, but it still could have been enough to give her a heart attack... or maybe she hit her head when she fell... To be honest, I don't care."

"Wait!"

Echoes ACT2 pressed its head on Yukako's chest.

"I can hear her pulse..." Koichi said, feeling relieved. "She's alive!"

"Damn," Fubuki said, sounding disappointed.

"Even though she's insane and downright nasty, I suppose I should be happy about this."

"Careful, don't want you to start falling for her... Let's just leave her like this."

"G-good idea."

Fubuki and Koichi turn around and walked away. However, Koichi tripped when something caught his feet. As soon as he landed on the grass, he was dragged back.

"Aaaaah!!"

Koichi screamed when he found himself wrapped up why Love Deluxe. Yukako is sitting up and wide awake. Her eyes are crazed and her face twisted with rage. The hair wrapped tight around Koichi so hard that he spat out blood. Yukako still has enough willpower to continue fighting.

"I finally caught you..." Yukako hissed.

Echoes ACT2 was about to throw in a new sound but Yukako used some of her remaining her to knock the tail over the cliff. It hit the sharp rock below before landing in the water.

"Koichi!" Fubuki shouted. He summoned Purple Rain again.

"Not another word, Kurosawa!" Yukako then turned to Koichi. "And you...! How dare you, you little piss ant! My precious hair is white, you limp-dicked bastard!"

Love Deluxe squeezed tight around Koichi. Yukako stood up and continued screaming at him.

"I loved you! That's why I did everything for you! But I won't forgive you! Not when you've done this to my beautiful hair!"

"Stop this, Yamagishi!" Fubuki ordered.

"Shut up!" Yukako then started cackling. She smiled at Koichi. "I'm gonna rip off your dick and pull out your organs, and then I'll use my hair to hang above your corpse! If I can't have you, then we'll die together just like Romeo and Juliet!"

Suddenly, a loud cracking sound was heard and she stopped laughing.

"What was that noise just now?" she demanded.

"L-let go of me... we have to grab onto something," Koichi gasped. "When I listened to your pulse, Echoes also heard the ground cracking... Th-the cliff is going to crumble!"

"Hah! Don't make up shit just because you think it'll save you!"

However, the ground she's standing on did crumble. She and Koichi began to fall.

Fubuki acted quickly and used Purple Rain to grab Koichi, who is then pulled out from Love Deluxe's clutches. However, Purple Rain wasn't able to grab Yukako as well.

Yukako fell, realizing there isn't enough time for her to grab hold on something...

She is almost impaled on the pointy rocks below when she bounced off from one of them instead. As she is tossed back onto to the cliff, she managed to catch a glimpse of a "boing" sound effect written on the rock.

Yukako fell on her knees, stunned by what just happened. Echoes ACT2 returned to its owner after getting back its tail.

"I told you the ground would crumble, but..." Koichi said. "You never listened to what I say, do you?"

He turned around.

"Let's go, Fubuki."

Fubuki gave Yukako one last glance before he followed Koichi. As they depart, Yukako is feeling a new emotion when she realized Koichi had already written the sound effect on the jagged rock.

"Even when I was thinking of killing him... Koichi was thinking of how to save me," she said. Her cheeks grew warmer as she slowly began to smile. "I lost completely... No... I was fighting a losing battle all along. But now, I think I'm more in love with him... I don't care if he completely ignores me! I'm happy just thinking about you, Koichi...!"

Koichi and Fubuki saw Josuke and Okuyasu approaching them.

"Koichi, you're not hurt, are you?" Josuke asked.

"Fubuki, you're alright!" Okuyasu cried happily. "We thought you guys are already dead!"

"Josuke! Okuyasu!" Koichi smiled. He is so happy to see his friends.

"What took you guys so long?" Fubuki complained, crossing his arms. "We were put in a Stephen King situation that nearly made us crap our pants."

Okuyasu looked toward the cliff.

"Hey, is that Yukako? What happened to her hair?" he asked. Everyone turned around to see where he's looking at. "Um... doesn't she look kinda happy? And she's looking right this way."

"You're right," Josuke said. "That's creepy as hell!"

"I'm not sticking around here anymore," Fubuki said. "Let's get out of here."

Koichi became terrified and tried to hide behind Josuke. "Help me, Josuke!"

"D-don't look at me!" Josuke said.

While all of this is happening, a drunk fisherman and his grandfather have witnessed Yukako bouncing on the rocks...


MORIOH'S FAMOUS LANDMARK #2

Boing-Boing Cape: A fisherman started the rumor that cape's rock gently bounced back a girl that was trying to commit suicide by jumping off a cliff. The local fishermen all pray for good luck to this particular rock, calling it a 'sacred spot'.

Directions: Ask one of the local fishermen, and they will kindly take you there by boat.


On the English retest next week, Koichi is given back his test paper. This time, he scored a perfect grade. He got a complicated feeling about this since he remembered it was because of the insane lessons he received from Yukako.

As for Fubuki, he has just received the most horrible news for the first time in his high school life...

"62?!"

Fubuki's jaw dropped as he stared at the horrendous score on his test paper.

"Um... maybe better luck next time?" Miyazaki said, trying to be optimistic for him.

Fubuki is so shocked that he has the lowest score in the class (Yukako is mysteriously absent today) and his shoulders started trembling.

"This is Yamagishi's fault!" Fubuki growled. "I'll never forgive her!"

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 16: The Black Zodiac Gang, Pt 1

That Monday morning before the English retest and Fubuki getting his first lowest score…

The young man decided to ride his bicycle to school, which he hadn’t done in a while. He has a piece of toast in his mouth; it felt great to eat normal food again. He hoped he would never meet another psycho girl like Yukako Yamagishi ever again.

Fubuki decided to take a shortcut through an alley and he saw a fight was about to happen. A group of three female delinquents are circling around a girl. They all have long permed hair and have a "Highway Star" tattoo in one of their arms. They are carrying a bokken with them.

"Pardon me, but you’re all from Hasekura High School, are you not?" the girl asked them. She is a delinquent liked them. She has bold eyes and long, spiky hair. She is dressed in a modified Budogaoka school uniform; her sleeves are rolled up and her skirt is lengthened. On her chest is the zodiac symbol of Scorpio. She wears heavy eye shadow with a matching lipstick. "If I'm not mistake, you three are associated with a certain Yuya Fungami, right? I would like to meet him."

"Back off, hussy!" one of the female delinquents yelled. "Yuu belongs to us!"

"We heard you like steal other girls' boyfriends! You’re not putting your claws on him!"

"We’re putting a bitch like you down right now!"

Fubuki parked his bike and watched from the distance. He didn't know why he's compelled to stay and observe.

"Please, forgive me, if I’ve failed…" The girl began pulling a whip from her pocket. "... To convey my message!!"

She swung and cracked her whip at the the female delinquents. They shrieked in pain and dropped their weapons. She whipped them in the faces and chest and they fell on the ground.

"Reiko, Yoshie!" the first female delinquent cried.

"Akemi!" the other delinquents cried back.

"OHHH-ho-ho-ho-ho!" the girl laughed in an obnoxious and haughty way, complete with a bent-wrist-to-cover-the mouth pose. With a grace of a dancer, the mysterious girl continued whipping at the delinquents who can no longer fight back. "Perhaps this… or this… or THIS will be clearer!"

Suddenly, someone grabbed her whip. She saw it was Fubuki who did it.

"I think that's enough," Fubuki said coldly. "You've already won."

"You caught that whip as if it were nothing," the girl noted. "You seem to be no ordinary boy."

"I guess you could say that."

"Oh my, you're quite handsome too…" She reached into her other pocket. "... too bad I'd have to cut your face. We could have been the most beautiful couple."

She threw a pair of razors at him. Fubuki used Purple Rain to catch them. The girl is surprised and distracted that Fubuki proceeds to kick her in the chest. However, she flipped away at the last second.

"Wow," she said. "You're very good."

Impressed, she recoiled her whip. She picked up her school bag and gave Fubuki a flirty wink.

"Remember this name, Higura Hamano, third year of Class D… and the most beautiful girl of Budogaoka High School," she introduced herself. "Don't forget it."

She walked away, laughing and shaking her hips sexily.

"Argh, I can't believe we lost to her!" the female delinquents sobbed. "How humiliating!"

Fubuki, however, was staring at the razors that his Stand caught. The razors have lipstick marks on them.

*&*&*

During lunch period at the school, Okuyasu bought his own cheap bento. When he came to Class 1-B to hang out with Josuke, he is not there.

"Hey, where's Josuke?" he asked Koichi. "We're supposed to have lunch together."

"I saw him go off with someone else," Koichi replied.

"Huh? Is it Fubuki?"

"No, it’s Onodera."

Okuyasu sputtered and he nearly dropped his bento. "Whaaaaat?!"

*&*&*

Somewhere in the school grounds, Josuke is invited by Onodera. The two of them are sitting together in a bench and Onodera brought a basket lunch box full of homemade sandwiches.

"Here," she said, offering him the lunchbox. Her cheeks are a little pink. "I hope you haven't eaten yet, because I made these sandwiches for you."

"Whoa..." Josuke has his body closed together, feeling a little shy around her. He just gave her a friendly smile and took the basket. "They must be delicious!”

"I-it's nothing," Onodera stammered. She blushed more and looked away from him. "I just wanted to thank you for rescuing me from Mizoguchi..."

"I can't take all the credit," Josuke chuckled. "Okuyasu helped too."

"Yeah, but..." Onodera fiddled her fingers together. "You did stay behind to make sure I’m okay. It was really nice of you."

Josuke can’t help feeling a bit excited inside; he never had lunch prepared for him by a cute girl before. He can’t wait to taste Onodera's food. He picked up a sandwich. Onodera looked at him when he took his first bite.

"WHOA!" Josuke exclaimed with his mouth full. He looked like he's about to cry. He quickly ate the whole thing. "It... It’s so good!"

"Really? That's great to hear!" Onodera smiled happily. "And you ate the whole thing... You must really like it, huh?"

Holy shit! This sandwich is super bitter! Josuke thought while trying to force a smile. Is Onodera bad at cooking? I want to spit it out so bad, but I don't want to hurt her feelings!

At the moment, someone came up behind them and grabbed the sandwich basket from Josuke’s lap. Onodera looked up to yell at the rude person and Josuke used this chance to spit out the sandwich.

"Give that back!" Onodera shouted. "I made it for him!"

"Too bad, we haven’t brought our own lunch and we don’t have any money to buy some," Kitano the delinquent sneered at her.

His companion, another delinquent named Naoji Ozu, is holding the basket away from Onodera's reach.

"Why don’t you share some with us?" Ozu asked. "You made plenty after all."

Ozu grabbed one of the sandwiches and stuffed into his mouth. His face immediately turned green and spat out the food.

"It tastes like shit!!"

He dumped the rest of sandwiches on the ground and stomped them.

"You big jerks!" Onodera shouted. She tried not to show how hurt she is. "I woke up early to make them!"

"Hah, what did you put in them? Rat poison?"

Onodera slapped Ozu in the face. He was about to strike her back when Josuke grabbed his arm.

"Didn't your mother ever told you that it’s rude to hit a girl?" Josuke told him off before letting go of his arm.

Kitano realized who this boy with the pompadour is. At first, he was scared, but he put on a cocky smile.

"Well, well, well," he smirked. "If it ain't Josuke Higashikata."

Onodera looked back and forth between Josuke and Kitano, wondering what they're talking about.

Josuke raised an eyebrow. "I'm sorry, have we met?"

"Huuuh?! You don’t know who I am?!" Kitano demanded. "Two of your buddies beat me up last time! One of them is Okuyasu Nijimura, and the other is..."

Kitano paused and he scratched his head.

"... Shit, what’s his name again? The one with the glasses?"

"Oh yeah, you’re Umeta Kitano," Josuke said. "You’re the guy who pissed his pants when Fubuki interrogated you!"

"Sh-shut up!" Kitano yelled, his face red.

"Hah!" Ozu snorted.

"YOU shut up too!" He turned back to Josuke. "Listen up, Higashikata! You’re not part of this, but your friends should watch their back. Our Big Sis has been suspended for quite a while but she’s now back in school... Once she hears about what your friends did to me, they will face her wrath. Get in our way, you’ll get hurt too."

Josuke glared down at him.

"Is that a threat?" he asked calmly. "I’m sooo scared."

"You bet!" Kitano smirked. "Ozu here and Big Sis are both Stand users like me! That’s what makes our gang so dangerous!"

"Wait, you’re all Stand users? Were you all struck by the same Arrow by Keicho Nijimura?"

"What’s it to you?"

"I don’t care if you attack me directly," Josuke said, bringing out Crazy Diamond. "But if you mess with my friends, then I won't hesitate to hold back."

"Hold it!" Onodera snapped. She placed her hands on her waist. "I don’t understand what’s going on, but no fighting on school grounds!"

"Tell your girlfriend to stay out of this!" Ozu shouted. "This is business between men!"

"Sh-she’s not my girlfriend!" Josuke stammered while Onodera blushed.

"We’ll see you later, Josuke Higashikata," Kitano snickered. "You will soon see how strong our Big Sis’s Stand is."

Kitano and Ozu left. Josuke was thinking of going after them, when he heard Onodera sniffle behind him.

"Those stupid punks..." Onodera mumbled. "They ruined the lunch I made for you." 

Josuke rubbed the back of his neck. "Yeah, sorry about that. They’re such big assholes."

Though I didn’t like your lunch either, he adds in his head.

Onodera tried to be optimistic.

"That’s okay!" she said cheerfully, clapping her hands together. "I’ll make a new lunch next time!"

Josuke almost fell over, nearly gagging with disgust.

*&*&*

School ended and Josuke came to Okuyasu. Koichi went home directly while Fubuki remained in school to do some studying.

"These guys may look all bark and no bite," Josuke told him about Kitano and Ozu. He and Okuyasu left the school gate together and make their way home. "But they seem confident enough that they’ll try to attack you and Fubuki."

"Damn, that really sucks," Okuyasu said. "I mean, I already have my own problems, why do I get some weirdos after me too?"

"What kind of problems?" Josuke asked.

Okuyasu explained. "Well, it might sound strange and a little scary… but for two nights straight, I keep waking up to loud noises coming from the attic. I thought it was my dad moving around, but then I remembered he doesn’t stay up there anymore… Every time I went up and check, there was no one there. Even all the windows are still closed shut, so there were no signs of forced entry."

"Maybe you just heard some birds trying to break in."

"I don’t think that’s it! There’s more…" Okuyasu’s face turned pale. "L-last night… I saw... a white figure floating outside the window."

Josuke looked at him in disbelief.

"You’re talking crazy, man," Josuke said. "Are you telling me that you saw…" He gulped. "... A ghost?"

"Yeah, I think I did!" Okuyasu said. "It even came with a floating flame!!"

“Are you even sure? You could have been imagining things.”

Okuyasu slowly began to doubt himself.

"No way," he insisted. "I’m sure it’s a real ghost! It was so scary I couldn’t go back to sleep! Josuke, can you watch my house while I sleep in case that ghost shows up again?"

"Wait, why me? And why would I do that?" Josuke asked.

"First of all, we’re neighbors," Okuyasu said. "Second, I already asked Fubuki and Koichi and neither of them don’t want to do it."

"Ugh, alright, I’ll be at outside of your house tonight and keep watch for anything weird," Josuke said. "And if the ghost doesn’t show up and it’s just a nightmare you’re having, you owe me a thousand yen."

*&*&*

That night, Josuke is already outside of Okuyasu’s home and is keeping watch for anything weird. He is sitting against a wall, hidden in the shadows between two bushes.

It is after 11:30 PM and all the lights are turned off. Josuke is shivering and he’s only wearing his school uniform. He has a flashlight with him, but it he forgot to bring the batteries. He had to sneak out of his own house after his mother went to bed. According to Okuyasu, the 'ghost' always shows up at ten minutes before midnight. However, Josuke has half a mind to go home and sleep.

Before he can act on his decision, he spotted a shadowy figure lurking on top of the roof.

Unbeknownst to Josuke, this 'shadowy figure' is none other than Higura Hamano, the female delinquent who met Fubuki this morning.

"He must be asleep by now," she talked to herself. In one hand, she is carrying a white cloak, and the other hand is a candle on a holder.

For two nights in a row, she has been secretly tormenting Okuyasu Nijimura under the orders of some guy who calls himself Red Hot Chili Pepper.

"This time, I’ll break into his home and scare him good," she said. "Once he drops his guard, I’ll use my Stand, Vanity, on him. I’ll do the same for his friends, one by one…and then I cripple them! OHHH-ho-ho-ho-ho!"

She put the white cloak over her so she can look like a specter. She used her whip to grab hold of a wood jutting out from the house. She was about swing when all of a sudden…

Back with Josuke on the ground, he assumed the shadowy figure must be the user of Red Hot Chili Pepper who must have come back to the Nijimura household. He didn’t want to call Okuyasu and risk the Stand user escaping. Crazy Diamond picked up a block of stone it found. With immense strength, Crazy Diamond swung the stone block and threw it at the shadow intruder.

The block hit their head and the figure fell off from the roof. The white cloak they were wearing was thrown off and Josuke saw that he had hit a girl.

"Oh, crap!!" he shouted in panic.

He quickly ran under her and managed to catch her in his arms. Crazy Diamond then healed the large lump on Higura’s forehead.

"You okay?" he called out, filled with worry. Who is this chick? Is she the one who’s been scaring Okuyasu? Well, at least there’s no ghost! That thousand yen is mine!

Higura’s eyes opened. She vaguely remembered that she fell off from the roof, but she was surprised to find herself not dead for someone reason. She realized she’s in the arms of a gorgeous young man who must have been the one who saved her. She even noticed Crazy Diamond next to Josuke.

"Wait, did you just see where my Stand is?" Josuke asked. "Are you a Stand user?"

Higura’s heart skipped a beat.

Her averted her eyes away so she can blush. She then gazed deep into Josuke’s eyes.

"I…" she spoke quietly. She then wrapped her arms tight around Josuke, who became sheepish. "I was frightened!"

"Huh?! Wait a sec…!"

Higura pulled away. Her cheeks are red and she began applying lipstick on from a strange-looking tube.

"Please... may I ask for your name?" she asked sweetly.

"J-Josuke... Higashikata," Josuke replied nervously.

"To thank you for saving my life… I wish to give you a kiss."

Josuke’s eyes widened and he sputtered.

"A—wha—huuuh?! You mean me?!"

"You’re such a dork. I like that."

Higura shoved him down on the ground and she climbed on top of him. Her face is inches away from Josuke’s. The latter is horrified by the dark, crazed look in her eyes. It reminded him the way Yukako looks at Koichi.

"I will make you mine," she said in an ominous voice.

"N-not in your life!" Josuke shouted.

Crazy Diamond pulled Higura away from him. Josuke started to make a run for it but Higura is not going to let him get away from her that easy.

She kissed her finger and she created a heart-shapes projectile made from her lipstick. She blew the "kiss" at Josuke and it flew like a bullet.

"Okuyasu, wake up!" Josuke yelled. "I think I found a Stand user—!"

Josuke was about to reach the front door when the kiss struck him in the neck. It was like being hit by a concussive force. Josuke’s body crashes against the door and it slumped down.

Okuyasu heard the noise. He quickly ran downstairs but when he looked outside, Josuke is gone.

"Hey! Josuke did you find the ghost?" he called out. When there is no reply, he scratched his head in confusion. "Maybe he went home… Damn, I guess I owe him that thousand yen now..."

Behind the wall, hidden from Okuyasu’s sight, Higura is kneeling down next to an an unconscious Josuke.

"I’m sorry for hitting you," she smirked. "That lipstick tube is my Stand called Vanity. When I apply the lipstick on my lips… I can destroy even the toughest delinquent. It’s because, and I don’t mean to sound vain… it’s because I’m beautiful. When you’re beautiful, men’s hearts get weak. OHHH-ho-ho-ho-ho!"

*&*&*

The next day, Okuyasu approached Fubuki and Koichi at school.

"Have any of you seen Josuke this morning?" he asked them.

"No, not at all," Koichi replied. "Though, that’s kinda weird. He usually arrives school around the time as you."

"Yeah, his mother said he’s wasn’t even at home this morning."

"Maybe he left the house very early or he’s skipping school," Fubuki suggested, keeping his attention to his book he’s reading.

"That’s not like Josuke," Okuyasu protested. "He never wakes up that early! Wait… what if he got spirited away by that ghost?"

"... What are you talking about?"

"I asked Josuke to watch my house last night and I heard a loud sound that woke me up! I thought I was hearing things, but—"

"What’s that noise?" Koichi spoke up.

They heard a loud commotion coming from the school gate. They saw a group of five or six rough-looking male delinquents walking, scaring and pushing other students aside. Kitano and Ozu are in the front, and in the middle of this group is Higura—the only girl of this group—and she looked proud and smug.

"Move it, dirtbags!" Ozu shouted.

"Make way for Big Sis!" Kitano announced.

"Hey, Fubuki!" Okuyasu pointed a finger. "It’s that guy from last week! His Stand was super annoying, remember?"

"I remember seeing the other guy too," Fubuki said, glancing up from his book. "I think that girl’s the leader, and those ugly guys around her must be her bodyguards."

When the group approached closer to the school, Okuyasu took one look at Higura.

"Whoa!!" Okuyasu exclaimed. "She’s hot!"

"Don’t even think about it," Fubuki said. "I’ve met her yesterday, she whipped some girls and she threw razors at me.”

The three friends stepped aside. As Higura and her subordinates enter the school, Fubuki and the others noticed a familiar face in the crowd.

"Josuke?!" they screamed.

"What is he doing hanging out with those punks?!" Okuyasu asked.

"Josuke! Hey, over here!" Koichi called out.

However, Josuke doesn’t seem to hear him.

"Oh, my…" Miyazaki spoke up. He just appeared behind Fubuki, Okuyasu, and Koichi. "Classes haven’t begun yet and it’s already so noisy. Oh, looks like Josuke Higashikata has joined a bad crowd."

"No way, Teach!" Okuyasu protested. "Josuke would never do anything like that!"

Higura’s school bag suddenly dropped to the ground.

"Oh crap, the sling’s broken," she sighed.

The male delinquents began scrambling and fighting each other to pick up her bag.

"I saw it first!"

"I’ll fix it!"

"Get off me, bastard!"

"Ouch!"

"Keep your paws off Miss Higura’s bag!"

Josuke cleared his throat and everyone stopped. During the big scuffle, not only he managed to pick up the bag but he fixed the sling with Crazy Diamond.

"I believe this is yours~?" he said in a sickeningly sweet voice.

"Oh my gosh, you picked it up for me?" Higura gasped and took her bag back. "You’re such a sweetheart, Josuke..."

She paused and she looked at the bag. She became irritated.

"There’s still dust in it… you forgot to clean it!"

She pulled out her whip and struck Josuke down. She whipped his back hard.

"Ugh!" Josuke groaned. "Harder, Mommy!"

"Whoa!!" Koichi, Okuyasu and Miyazaki all shouted in surprise.

"What the hell am I watching?" Fubuki mumbled.

Higura finished punishing Josuke after several whipping. "Now that you’re sorry, you can lick my shoe."

"Y-yes, Mommy!"” Josuke crawled closer and licked Higura’s loafer. "Rero rero rero!"

Miyazaki approached the gang and pulled Josuke on his feet.

"What are you doing, Josuke?! A dignified, wholesome boy like you shouldn’t lick dirty shoes!" he scolded him. He turned to Higura. "And you! You just came back from suspension, Higura, and we’ve already warned you about making attention like this. You and your lackeys are disrupting the school’s peace."

"How dare you talk to Big Sis that way!" Kitano yelled at him.

"Yeah, she’s a madonna, not some violent chimp!" Ozu added.

The other boys in the group started throwing obscenities at Miyazaki.

"Boys, boys. That’s enough," Higura ordered. She moved closer to Miyazaki. As she gave him a sweet smile, she used a hand to caress his cheek. "I’ll be a good girl, teacher… if you look the other way."

Fubuki, Koichi and Okuyasu were too far away to see what was happening. When Miyazaki walked away, his cheeks are pink and he is now wearing a big goofy smile on his face.

"Oh, gawrsh!" he giggled to himself. He seemed to be acting odd all of a sudden. "Miss Higura, don’t be such a tease!"

Josuke's friends looked at each other, confused about what is going on. 

*&*&*

It is time for lunch. Instead of hanging out with his friends, Josuke is hanging out with Higura and her gang behind the school.

Josuke is resting his head on Higura’s lap who is feeding him from her lunch. Josuke has the biggest dopey smile on his face and his eyes filled with stars. He looked like he could burst out singing "Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch" at any moment. Meanwhile, Ozu and Kitano watch on with jealousy. The other boys are smoking and chatting loudly.

Fubuki, Okuyasu, and Koichi are hiding behind a vending machine and are spying on the group, watching Josuke and Higura flirt back and forth.

"I can’t believe Josuke went and got himself a girlfriend!" Okuyasu wailed. He wanted to cling to Fubuki, but he got Koichi instead. "She's even feeding him! I hate that lucky bastard so much!"

"No, I believe something is wrong with Josuke," Koichi said. "He was so absent-minded in class all day, and he keeps sighing Higura’s name…"

"Isn’t it obvious? He’s head over heels over her," Fubuki stated. He sounded and looked cold and disgusted.

"B-but... she’s the leader of a delinquent gang! I seem to recall that one of her lackeys is a Stand user, remember?"

"Do you think that girl is a Stand user too?" Okuyasu wondered, after drying his tears.

"I… I never thought about it!"

"Josukkun," Higura spoke up. "My throat’s dry. Would you go fetch me a mineral water from the vending machine?"

"Sure thing, bunnycakes~" Josuke smiled before getting up.

"Bunnycakes?!" both Okuyasu and Koichi said in shock.

However, Fubuki is suddenly filled with icy anger towards Josuke.

Josuke walked away from Higura’s group until he was out from her sight. He walked up right up to the vending machine when his friends grabbed him.

"Oh, hey, guys," Josuke said. He sound like he was back to normal. "What’s up?"

"That’s our question!" Okuyasu said. "You were acting weird, man! What are doing hanging out with punks and bringing a girl her water?!"

"She whipped you and humiliated you this morning!" Koichi said. "Why are you putting up with her behavior?!"

Josuke laughed and waved his hands. "Guys, it’s no big deal. See… I actually like Higura Hamano."

"What?!"

"Okay, I’ll admit, she’s a little older than me," Josuke said. He is blushing. "But she’s such a goddess that I couldn’t help but worship her, you know? Whenever I think of her, I get a little crazy… I don’t even mind that she whips me. I kinda… get off to it?"

He blushed and giggled in a giddy way. Koichi and Okuyasu looked at each other, stunned.

"Hmph," Fubuki huffed. He crossed his arms and gave Josuke a cold, disapproving look. "I think you should go back to her, 'Josukkun', before she wonders what’s taking you so long."

Josuke raised an eyebrow, confused. "Why are you acting upset?"

"Who says I am? What do you even see in her? None of us has even met her, do you think we’d be okay with this?"

"I can introduce you guys right now!" Josuke said happily. "Let’s go!"

"No. In fact…" Fubuki went to the vending machine. He came back and shoved a mineral water bottle in Josuke’s chest. "You can give Higura her damn water bottle and forget about hanging out with us from now on."

"Wait what?" Josuke asked, confused. "What's your problem, Fubuki?"

"My problem is your 'bunnycakes' and you being a dense idiot."

"... What?"

Fubuki just walked away. Okuyasu and Koichi went after him. Josuke shrugged his shoulders and went back to Higura, pretending nothing happened.

"About time, my throat’s dry as a desert," Higura smiled. She took the water bottle from him.

Unbeknownst to Josuke and Higura, Fubuki used Purple Rain to secretly expand the water inside bottle. When Higura twisted the cap open, the plastic bottle exploded and sticky water covered her, Josuke, and a few other delinquents.

*&*&*

Classes ended and it was time to go home for most students. Koichi and Okuyasu caught up to Fubuki, who was going straight to the library.

"Fubuki, what’s wrong with you?" Koichi asked him.

"Nothing," said Fubuki icily.

"You were acting weird at lunch," Okuyasu told him.

"Was I?"

"Yeah, you were acting worse than a jealous girl!"

"I am perfectly fine," Fubuki said as he adjusted his glasses. "If Josuke cares more about his ‘girlfriend’ than us, then that’s his choice."

"I don’t know, there’s still very something fishy about this..." Koichi said. "I think we should follow Josuke and that gang just to be sure."

"Then let’s go!" Okuyasu turned to Fubuki, who just sat down on a table. "You coming along, Fubuki?"

"No, thank you," Fubuki huffed as he opened up a textbook. "I’m not doing another episode with a crazy girlfriend again."

Koichi looked so disappointed in him.

"Considering your past history with Josuke… I thought you’d be more worried about him," he said.

He and Okuyasu ran off leaving Fubuki behind. Fubuki tried to concentrate on his studies, but he couldn’t get the image of Josuke and Higura flirting with each other out his mind.

Who does she think she is? he grumbled. 'Josukkun' was MY nickname for Josuke… Stupid Josuke...

*&*&*

Koichi and Okuyasu secretly follow The Black Zodiac Gang after they left the school. They went to the Kameyu Department Store and Higura ordered her bodyguards to shoplift some items. Hiding from behind a shelf, Koichi and Okuyasu are shocked when they saw Josuke picking out a few items.

"N-no way…" Okuyasu stammered, trembling. "Is Josuke really stealing?!"

"Th-this isn’t like him at all!" Koichi said. "Fubuki may be right about her. That Higura is a bad influence of Josuke!"

"But he’s too in love with her to see how bad she is."

"Or maybe… he’s not really in love with her and she’s just holding something over him."

"You mean like blackmail?"

"That’s highly likely," Koichi said. He rubbed his chin. "Whatever the reason is, we have to get him away from the gang."

"Her lackeys are coming this way!" Okuyasu said in a low voice. "Let’s go somewhere before we get caught!"

Koichi and Okuyasu sneaked away. Moments later, Kitano and Ozu approached Josuke.

"What are you still doing here?" Kitano whispered angrily.

"Well…” Josuke held up two romantic-themed cards. "I haven’t figured out if I should get the one with the flowers or the one with the hearts. The flowers release a nice scent when you scratch it, but the hearts play a little tune when you open the card…"

"We’re not here for stupid love cards, asshole!" Kitano hissed.

Ozu pushed Josuke towards the makeup supplies.

"Look at the new expensive mascara! Big Sis would love it! Hurry up and take one!" Kitano demanded. "The shopkeeper isn’t looking!"

"It’d break Higura’s heart if you don’t do this," Ozu smirked. "You don’t want that to happen to her, do you?"

Josuke hesitated; even if he did felt strangely compelled to worship and follow Higura, there’s no way he’d bring himself to steal.

But he thought of Higura’s beautiful face and how excited she would be.

Josuke pretended to look innocent and he summoned Crazy Diamond. The pink humanoid Stand grabbed the expensive mascara and quietly dropped it into Josuke’s pocket.

A few minutes later, Josuke and the group were about to leave the store when they were stopped by a department police officer.

"I would like you to empty your pockets, young man," the officer said to Josuke.

Josuke began to sweat nervously. He could feel the officer’s hawk eyes staring at him, as well as the eyes of Higura and her subordinates. He did not want to look like some kind of incompetent fool in front of Higura.

"Uh… I, um…" Josuke tried to smile. He did not want the officer to look into his left pocket. "I’m n-not carrying anything at all!"

The officer did not believe him. He immediately grabbed Josuke by his arm and began searching the teen’s pockets.

"W-wait a sec…!" Josuke protested. "Don’t!"

The officer stopped when he found nothing.

"Huh, all your pockets are empty," he stated. "I guess I made I mistake. Forgive me. You and your friends can go now."

Josuke is still flabbergasted; after the officer walked away, Josuke checked all his pockets and he found the item he stole and his wallet in his RIGHT pocket instead.

"That’s odd…" he mumbled. "I thought my pockets were empty earlier, but now my stuff are actually here again…"

As he moved along with the crowd, he noticed a humanoid figure floating next to Ozu, its athletic-built body leaning forward. It is a Stand with headlight-shaped eyes similar to The Hand’s. It wears protective armor pads covering its shoulders and chest, and the rest of its body is covered in multiple grooves.

A Stand? Right here? Josuke thought. Could it be Ozu’s Stand? Did it have something to with my wallet and mascara disappearing from my pockets before? This is bad… I have to let Koichi and Jotaro know—

His thoughts has been interrupted when Higura cling to his arm. He immediately forgot about Jotaro, Koichi, and the new Stand.

"Josukkun~" Higura purred. "Would you like to hang out with us at our usual place?"

*&*&*

After visiting and shoplifting from more stores, The Black Zodiac Gang took Josuke to a sleazy bar which is located in the basement of a building. The place holds a bad rep for delinquents who smoke, drink alcohol, and do illegal gambling. Josuke felt so out of place here. He is sitting on a couch, feeling awkward, while Higura lazily sat on his his lap and her arm around his shoulders. She is chewing and blowing a pink bubblegum.

Higura’s subordinates began dumping the stuff they shoplifted. They presented the fanciest jewelry and makeup items towards Higura, who enjoyed it.

"What did you get for me?" Higura asked Josuke. She stroked his pompadour which brought sensual chills down his spine.

Josuke excitedly reached into his pocket and pulled out the mascara and one of the love cards.

"Here you go!" he said excitedly.

"Heh, I can’t believe the grandson of the late Officer Higashikata is now one of us," Kitano whispered to Ozu. "I win this bet."

"Hold it," Higura said coldly. She picked up a piece of paper that fell off from Josuke’s pocket. She glared dangerously at Josuke. "I told you to steal, so what is this receipt? You actually went back to the store and bought them…?"

Josuke began to sweat. "A-as long as the stuff’s here, it’s the same whether it’s stolen or bought… right?"

"Hah! Told you he was wimp and he wouldn’t have the guts!" Ozu laughed. "Pay up!"

Kitano grumbled and paid Ozu a thousand yen. Josuke was thrown to the ground and Higura wrapped her whip around his neck, choking him.

"Ack… H-Higura…!" Josuke gasped. "B-bunnycakes, why...?"

"You’re an idiot," Higura told him. She used her foot to press her weight on the back of his knee, hurting him. "You’re supposed to enjoy the thrill of the danger."

"Do you really think Big Sis actually likes you?" Kitano taunted Josuke. "You’re just another boy toy for her to play around."

Ozu suddenly holds up Josuke’s wallet.

"I’ll be taking this," he smirked.

"Hey! That’s mine!" Josuke yelled. "How did you even get that…!"

Ozu proceeded to kick Josuke in the stomach. Josuke fell on the floor, spitting out blood. The other delinquents started to beat him up when Higura started striking them with her whip.

"GET AWAY FROM HIM!!" She ordered. "All of you made an agreement that none of you can touch Josuke Higashikata!"

"But, Big Sis," Kitano protested while Josuke writhed in pain on the floor. "We finally got Josuke here. Red Hot Chili Pepper is expecting us to take him out."

She whipped him to make him quiet.

"I am aware of that," Higura said. "However, Josuke is still my toy so only I’m allowed to break him."

She grabbed Josuke began dragging him to the back room.

"I’ll be taking him away,” she said. "I’m gonna torture some information about his friends’ Stands out of him. If anyone comes into the room… I’ll rip off their fingernails and burn their exposed fingers with cigarettes."

She slammed the door closed behind her.

*&*&*

The back room is rather cramped. Boxes of old newspaper and bottles are stacked up in the corner, and there is a cough full of holes. There is a single old radio sitting on top of a box. The light is broken so the room is dark. Josuke was pushed into the cough, his head reeling.

As soon as they’re alone, Higura threw her arms around Josuke and nuzzled her face against his chest.

"Forgive me, my darling!" she wailed. "I had to to act rough in front of all those men! I really loved the gift you gave me!"

"R… really?" Josuke asked. He is taken aback by her sudden personality. He felt so lightheaded, as though he was coming out from a drunk hangover.

"That’s what I love about you!" Higura said as she sat next to him on the couch. Her arms are still around him. "All those guys give me fancy and expensive stuff like jewelry and lingerie, but you pick something so simple and sweet… like a love card! It’s so like you!"

"Um… thanks?"

Josuke touched his forehead. He wondered what on earth he is doing here with this strange girl he met last night. While he did find her pretty but her aggressive personality is too much for him to handle.

Higura pulled aside Josuke’s collar a bit. On Josuke’s neck, she noticed the lipstick mark from Vanity, her Stand, has been smeared and is fading. Anyone she kissed with Vanity becomes attracted to her, while they still retain a bit of their personality. However, if the lipstick is wiped clean, her victim returns back to normal and she loses control over them. Higura can’t risk kissing Josuke more than twice a day; the power of Vanity is both powerful and dangerous…

"Josuke, do you like big girls?" she asked him.

"... Big?" Josuke asked, confused at what she meant.

She took his hand and made it touch one of her breasts. Josuke’s face turned red.

"Feel them, they’re real," she told him. "I’m a C cup, did you know that?"

Josuke couldn’t utter a single word. He continued to blush as Higura got off from him and unbuckled her long skirt, and letting it drop to the floor. Josuke’s eyes widen when he saw her short, black panty. He covered his eyes so wouldn’t see.

Higura applied fresh lipstick from her Stand. She turned on the radio and sensual R&B music began to play.

"Every time I close my eyes… I wake up feeling so horny…"

"W-wait a minute, this is going too fast!" Josuke stammered. "I haven’t done this before!"

"That’s okay," Higura giggled. She straddled on top of of Josuke and pulled down his hands so she can gaze deeply into his eyes. "I already have experience so I’ll help you… You don’t have a problem with that, right?"

She placed his hands on her round buttocks.

"Eep!" Josuke squealed.

"Listen, Josuke... You are not one of my boy toys," Higura said with a serious expression. She looked so tender with rosy-pink cheeks. "For a long time, I’d given up hope finding someone as perfect as me… And then you came along and saved me, you wonderful man. I didn’t bring you here because I want to fool around… I did it because I wanted you."

She began lowering her face and Josuke could feel her hot breath on his lips. His heart is beating rapidly.

"Claim my second kiss… and become fully mine."

*&*&*

Outside, the delinquents are drinking and making loud noise in the bar. Ozu and Kitano are sitting together, smoking and reading a manga called "Pink Dark Boy".

"That damn Kishibe can’t keep getting away with this!" Kitano screamed as he read the manga. "First, he killed the main character’s pet parakeet, and now he kills off the best girl?!"

"Hey, Kitano," Ozu began. "Do you ever notice how a lot of Stands in this town are named after American musicians and songs?"

"I don’t know what you’re talking about. By the way, did you pocket that Michael Jackson CD I wanted?"

"Yeah, yeah, I got it..."

Suddenly, there was a loud noise. One of the delinquents who was guarding the entrance of the bar was tossed down from the stairs. His face is busted up and bloodied. The delinquents jumped up, realizing they’re under attack.

Two people walked down from the stairs and made their appearance. It was Okuyasu and Koichi.

"We’re here for our friend Josuke Higashikata!" Okuyasu demanded, holding up a fist. "You better hand him over, or else you’ll be sorry!"

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 17: The Black Zodiac Gang, Pt 2

Okuyasu and Koichi hide behind the corner of a building as they watched The Black Zodiac Gang take Josuke to the bar.

"I hear a lot of bad stuff about that place," Okuyasu told Koichi. "It's so dangerous that any normal student who goes in there comes out with their wallet stolen and half of their teeth broken."

Koichi is so terrified that he blinked twice.

"I... I think this is a bad idea after all," Koichi stammered. "W-we might not be able to take on all those guys, plus the ones who are Stand users. But if we don't save Josuke… w-who knows what they'll do to him! They'll probably pump drugs into his body!”

"Then there’s no time to waste!" Okuyasu said, punching his palm. "Once we knock out a few punks, we'll grab Josuke and scram!"

Koichi observed the entrance, which is guarded by a single delinquent.

"But how do we get past the guard…?" Koichi wondered. Then he got a brilliant idea.

The delinquent is smoking a cigarette when he heard the sound of a telephone ringing from a nearby payphone. Confused and curious, he got up and left his spot. He walked over to the booth, enter and he picked up the phone.

However, there was no one speaking on the line. He heard the ringing sound again and he looked up to see strange writing on the ceiling.

"What the…"

No sooner than he spoke, Okuyasu appeared behind him and knocked him out by slamming his face to the glass. The ringing actually came from a sound effect planted by Echoes ACT1.

"He’s out cold," Okuyasu said.

"Remember the plan, Okuyasu," Koichi said. "I'll have Echoes make the sound of a police siren outside the door. It will alert the punks and they will leave immediately, as soon as they start running out, we’ll run in and grab Josuke."

"I really like this plan," Okuyasu nodded. "You’re such a genius, Koichi!"

The smaller student chuckled. “Haha, it's no big deal…"

However, another delinquent came out from the entrance and spotted the two boys on the stairs.

"Hey!" he yelled. "Where's the other guy who's watching this spot?!"

"Uh-oh! We're caught!" Koichi cried, wide-eyed.

"I guess we have to go for Plan B instead!" Okuyasu said, raising his fist.

"Plan B? But there's no Plan B—wait a minute, Okuyasu!"

The second delinquent noticed Okuyasu approaching him and he began to get a little frightened.

"B-back off, asshole! This territory belongs to The Black Zodiac Gang!" he warned. "You come here guns blazing, the other guys here will break your bones—"

He did not finish since Okuyasu landed a single powerful punch to his face. Koichi screamed in panic and he clasped his face.

"Okuyasu, don’t!!" he cried too late.

The blow sent the delinquent flying back and he landed on the floor of the bar. Ozu, Kitano, and the other delinquents stopped their activities when they are alerted that someone entered their hangout. They expected the police or another gang but it was two students from Budogaoka High School instead.

"We’re here for our friend Josuke Higashikata!" Okuyasu announced, holding up a fist. Koichi is hiding behind him. "You better hand him over, or else you'll be sorry!"

"Huuuh? They must be freshmen from Budo," Ozu said, narrowing his eyes. "What are they doing here?"

"Aaaah!! It's him! It's them!” Kitano shouted, pointing a finger. "They're friends of Josuke, and that ugly, stupid one is Okuyasu Nijimura!"

"Who are you calling 'ugly'?!" Okuyasu yelled at him.

"Where’s your boyfriend?" Kitano asked sarcastically. "That sadistic nerd with the glasses?"

"Cut that shit out!" Okuyasu snapped, though he could help but blush in embarrassment. "Fubuki's not my boyfriend! Besides, he's not even gay!"

"About that…" Koichi mumbled.

"Why don’t you two get lost?" Ozu threatened them. At this moment, all the delinquents stood up and took out their fists and weapons. “This is The Black Zodiac Gang’s territory were only second and third years are allowed, not for baby freshmen who haven’t learned to shave yet. You don’t have what it takes to be bad.”

"Yeah!" Kitano sneered. He's being rather smug since he’s in the company of multiple tougher guys. "You don't stand a chance against Ozu's Stand, which is probably more stronger than yours!"

"Why don't you keep your mouth shut, you pants-pissing shrimp?!" Okuyasu yelled at him again.

An angry vein popped in Kitano's forehead.

"That does it! GET THEM!" he screeched as he gave an order the delinquents. His face is now red after Okuyasu reminded him of that embarrassing accident. "Destroy these shitbrained idiots for Big Sis!"

Driven by the desire to impress the tough and beautiful Higura, six delinquents circle around Okuyasu and Koichi, all of them equipped with chains and brass knuckles. Despite being a Stand user, Koichi is terrified of being beaten up by ordinary punks but Okuyasu isn’t too worried; he just cracked his knuckles eagerly.

The first delinquent rushed in, circling a chain whip above his head. Okuyasu dodged out of the way and delivered an uppercut to him. Two more delinquents grabbed his arms as another one proceed to punch Okuyasu in the stomach and face. Koichi could only watch helplessly from the sidelines. The same delinquent then picked up and smashed an empty beer bottle on Okuyasu’s head. This didn’t knock Okuyasu out but his forehead is bleeding badly. His face almost swollen with bruises but it didn’t faze him.

Okuyasu kicked the bottle-wielding punk in the chin. The Hand appeared and grabbed the delinquents who are holding Okuyasu, proceeding to smash their heads together. Okuyasu then grabbed another delinquent and threw him across the room until he crashed into a table.

"Holy crap, Okuyasu!!" Koichi shouted, his eyes popped open. "You're a monster! And you’re not even using your Stand for this!"

A single delinquent, who was not part of the brawl, spotted Koichi who is alone and defenseless. He grinned nastily and went after him with, for some reason, a rusty frying pan in his hand.

Koichi saw him. "Go! Echoes ACT2!" he shouted.

Echoes ACT2 threw its tail and planted a new sound effect on the shirt of the delinquent. The latter stopped in his tracks, wondering what was that invisible force that hit his chest. He looked down and found a word that reads "clank". Curious, he touched the word. At the sound of a frying pan hitting, his face was struck by something flat and hard.

*&*&*

"T-time out!" Josuke protested, holding up his hands. "I'm not ready for this! And I'm more of a love kind of guy!"

Inside the back room, Higura was about to kiss Josuke on the lips when she was interrupted by loud sounds of crashing and people punching.

"What the hell are they doing out there?!" she growled. She pulled out her whip. "I oughta teach them a lesson!"

She climbed off from Josuke (much to his relief) and started putting her skirt back on.

"Josuke, darling," she turned to him. "Would you mind staying here and wait for me until I get back?"

"No problem!" Josuke said, making an OK sign. He's still under the effect of Vanity. "I'll do whatever you say, bunnycakes~"

Higura wanted to make one last check.

"Josuke… who's the most beautiful girl in Morioh?" she asked him, giving him a seductive wink.

Josuke gets lovey-dovey hearts in his eyes and he clasped his hands together.

"Why, you, of course!" he exclaimed.

Higura smirked to herself. Good, Vanity’s power is still working... as long as my lipstick mark remains intact on him. I need to kiss him again as soon as possible... The second kiss will have him surrender his entire body and will to me.

*&*&*

Meanwhile, Okuyasu has just finished beating up the delinquents and tossing them around. He is injured and panting heavily, but he’s not showing any signs of slowing down.

"Is that all you got?!" Okuyasu demanded, feeling cocky. "I thought I was fighting hardcore punks, not babies!"

Koichi is just shaking after seeing all the unconscious bodies on the floor. He had forgotten that not only Okuyasu looks like a thug but he fights like one too. It’s a good thing Okuyasu is actually a decent guy despite his appearance.

"This is bad, Ozu!" Kitano said nervously. Instead of something useful like summoning his Stand to fight, he chose the coward option and turned to his taller and tougher companion. "Do something!"

"Ugh, you're so hopeless... and so weak..." Ozu said. However, he's eager to take on Okuyasu. With his hands in his pockets, he stepped forward and materialized his Stand.

Okuyasu is surprised to see this guy has his own Stand, who crossed its arms in a cool way. He brought out The Hand, and the two Stand users size each other up.

"Be careful, Okuyasu!" Koichi said. "I'll be backing you up with Echoes!"

"No need," Okuyasu said. "I think I can handle this guy on my own."

"I was wondering why your name is familiar," Ozu began. "You're Keicho Nijimura’s brother, aren't ya?"

Okuyasu is taken aback. "You knew my Big Bro?"

"Well, duh! He gave me a Stand! I heard from a certain little birdie called Red Hot Chili Pepper that Keicho was killed while you stood there like a dead weight and watched it happen."

Okuyasu froze as hot rage build up inside him. Koichi realized something bad is going to happen.

"Don't listen to him!" Koichi said. "He's probably hiding a trick! He's goading you to attack him on purpose!"

"But... but he..." Okuyasu muttered trembling.

"I can't believe a strong guy like Keicho got himself killed," Ozu continued. "Or maybe he's just a weak dumbass like you."

Blinded by anger, Okuyasu ignored Koichi's warning and rushed towards Ozu.

"No one insults my big bro!!" he shouted.

When he came close to Ozu, a blurry fist came out of nowhere and hit Okuyasu in the jaw. Okuyasu was knocked to the side and the fist disappeared.

"What was that...?!" Okuyasu blinked in pain. "What hit me?!"

"Okuyasu! I thought I saw a hand appeared but it quickly disappeared as soon as it punched you!" Koichi pointed it out.

Okuyasu is hit in the face again.

"There it is! It got me again!" Okuyasu said. "But that one hit me on the other side of my face!"

"What you just experienced is the ability of my Stand, Beat It," Ozu informed him. His Stand is still standing next to him and hasn't uncrossed its arms yet. Ozu then took out an old wallet and a lighter from his pocket. Okuyasu's eyes widened.

"Hey! Those are mine!" he yelled, pointing a finger. "They were in my pocket! How did you get them?!"

"Beat It took them from you, obviously. It was a Stand made to make shoplifting easier," Ozu claimed. He frowned when he saw the contents inside the wallet. "Wow, only 60 yen? That's not enough for a drink at a vending machine."

"Give me back my wallet!" Okuyasu yelled, running towards him again. The Hand then erased the space between the two boys.

Ozu's eyes popped open when he and Beat It suddenly warped right in front of Okuyasu. Okuyasu then proceeded to punch Ozu in the face. Before he could hit him again, four humanoid arms came out from the front and back pockets of Okuyasu's school uniform.

The fours arms grabbed and hold down Okuyasu's arms to restrain him from attacking. The arms then forced Okuyasu to bend backward which began hurting his back.

"What the--?!" Okuyasu gasped. "Where did these arms come from?!"

"Okuyasu! They just popped out of your pockets!" Koichi told him.

"Those are Beat It's arms!" Ozu explained.

Beat It uncrossed its arms. Koichi and Okuyasu saw its hands and forearms are missing.

"My Stand's ability is to phase its limbs through the grooves on its body and then 'warp' into a nearby pocket as long it's not sealed. I can use this ability to steal stuff or warp objects into another person's pockets. If there is more than one pocket in a target, my Stand's arms can become multiple."

"N-now I see how you were able to hit Okuyasu!" Koichi said.

"You got that right!" Ozu said. "And speaking of which..."

Beat It's front arms let go of holding down Okuyasu so they can start throwing punches to his face. One of the arms grabbed hold of Okuyasu's neck. In a dirty move, the other arm reached down and its hand grasped and crushed Okuyasu's... "treasure".

"Eeeeeeyaaaarrgh!!" Okuyasu shrieked in agony, falling on his knees. He's screaming his head off like a chicken on its way to the slaughter. "He's got theeem! Let go of my baaalls, you son of biiitch!!"

"What the fuck, man?!" Kitano screamed. He is flinching and looking away. "Why you gotta do that?! That’s low, even for you! It hurts just looking at it!"

"I'm gonna rip them off..." Ozu smirked evilly. "Like grapes from a vine."

"I won't let you!" Koichi shouted, finally stepping in to help Okuyasu.

Koichi sent Echoes ACT2 out to help Okuyasu. Echoes detached its tail and threw a new sound at Ozu's direction. Ozu realized he's in trouble; he has to pull back Beat It's arms in order to defend himself.

The arms released Okuyasu and sank back into the pockets. Okuyasu fell on the floor, whining in pain as he clutched his sore balls. The arms then warp out from the grooves on Beat It's chest and returned to their owner. Before the sound can hit Ozu, Beat It snatched the sound in mid-air and tucked it inside one of its grooves. This shocked Koichi, who did not expect the enemy Stand to grab the sound that easily.

"Huh?! W-what did you do to my Stand's sound?!" Koichi demanded.

"It's now inside my Stand's body, which serves as a dimensional storage," Ozu explained. "That's another ability of Beat It... it can pocket things, even attacks, and store them for later. By the way, you're in my Stand's range as well."

Koichi looked down and saw he is right.

"Which means... You can have this back!"

Beat It's right hand disappeared into another groove in its body and reappeared in Koichi's right pocket. Then it slapped the sound it took on Koichi's face.

The "whoosh" sound created a strong gust which propelled Koichi off from his feet. His body hit a wall and he crumpled on the floor. The sound, after being used against its master, peeled off from Koichi's face.

"Now you see why you can't defeat us, you shitbrains?!" Kitano laughed. "You're both outmatched!"

"You didn't even do anything!" Ozu snapped at him.

Koichi stirred. He and Okuyasu have underestimated the enemies. However, Ozu and Kitano are now arguing with each other instead of focusing on defeating the two Stand users.

"A real man doesn't rely on other people to fight his battles!" Ozu yelled at Kitano. "That's why you lost before!"

"There was two of them and only one of me!" Kitano yelled back. "It wouldn't happen if you had joined up with me when I asked! So the fault is yours!"

Koichi crawled over to Okuyasu and lowered his voice.

"O-Okuyasu... you okay?" he asked.

"It huuurts," Okuyasu whined.

"Sorry about your balls, but we still have to defeat these guys."

"I'm gonna murder them!"

"You abandoned me, man, and that's not cool!" Kitano said, now looking hurt. "I mean, what about all those things we've done together! Who got your back when those Hasekura punks challenged us?"

Ozu is stunned. "You... you did."

"Who helped you beat up those hustlers who tried to take our money in Shakedown Alley?"

"You did."

"And who accompanied you to the doctor when you had to get needles into your body, and you were crying like a scared baby?"

"Technically that was ME accompanying you, but I got your point."

"Exactly! And not mention, our Stands work well together!" Kitano said. "The two of us are unstoppable!"

"We're invincible!" Ozu said, now all pumped up.

The two fistbumped each other and clasped their hands firmly together.

"Now whattaya say we defeat those assholes together?" Kitano asked.

"That's good for me!" Ozu agreed. "And after this, let's hit the pachinko parlor with Big Sis!"

Their moment is interrupted when they are pulled by The Hand. The two delinquents found themselves warped on top of a sound written on the floor.

"KABOOM!!"

The sound released an explosion which blew them up. However, they aren't knocked out, so they're writhing on the floor.

"Whew, we did it!" Okuyasu said, wiping the blood from his lips.

"Yeah, we're lucky that these guys are so dense," Koichi said. "If they hadn't ignored us, they would have won..."

Okuyasu began to kick both Ozu and Kitano in the balls, who are yelping like dogs.

"You damn assholes!" Okuyasu shouted. "You almost tore off my family jewels!"

"O-Okuyasu, that's going overboard!" Koichi protested. "Don't forget we still have to find Josuke--"

A whip came and struck Koichi in the face. Okuyasu looked up when he heard his friend cry out, and he was struck in the face too.

Higura has re-entered bar from the backroom and she looked pissed. She saw all mess in the bar, as well as the unconscious and bruised bodies of her bodyguards.

"How dare you interrupt my moment with my darling Josuke?" she hissed. "You were too loud!"

"Big Sis...!" Kitano and Ozu cried.

"It's her!" Koichi said. He winced in pain as he touched the raw mark on his face.

"I know who you are... you two are friends of Josuke. And it appears you're both Stand users if you're able to take down Beat It and Whistle," Higura said. "Hmph. You don't look anything special to me... The name is Higura Hamano, and I'm the leader of The Black Zodiac Gang. I'm basically a big sister to all these numskulls you've beaten."

Kitano and Ozu cling to each other in fear when she saw her holding up her whip. They thought she was going to use it on them too, as a punishment for their incompetence. However, she continued glaring down at Koichi and Okuyasu.

"These guys are complete dummies, they sometimes take too long to get the job done... but I won't stand for anyone picking on my cute, dumb subordinates! Taste the sting of my whip!"

With incredible speed, She whipped both Koichi and Okuyasu, who had forgotten to take out their Stands to fight.

"Go, Big Sis!" Kitano cheered. "You’re so lovely when you dish out revenge!"

"You're our goddess!" Ozu said. "Show them what you're made of!"

Higura turned around and whipped Ozu and Kitano as well.

"Don't assume you got away scot-free, I'm gonna punish you later for making this gang look bad! Now, tell me…" she puts on a cute smile and strikes a sexy pose. "Who's the most beautiful girl in Morioh?"

"YOU ARE~!!" Ozu and Kitano replied.

"OHHH-ho-ho-ho-ho!" she laughed. "Yes, it's me! There’s no man in this town that won't kneel before me!"

"I don’t understand..." Koichi said, befuddled. "Why are these guys just praising her even though she just hurt them?"

"Hehehe, you shitbrains don't understand. Big Sis certainly has a terrible personality," Kitano said to Okuyasu and Koichi. "But we've always forgiven her."

"Yes, and there's a reason for that!" Ozu said. "Her beauty and charm make everyone's heart guilty so they are compelled to worship her!"

Hang on… Koichi slowly began to understand. Does it have anything to do with her Stand? Is that why she has so many followers, and why Josuke was acting strange before?

"Beauty, I can understand. She is hot after all…" Okuyasu muttered. "But her 'charm' is on a different level…"

"Where's Josuke?! What have you done with him?!" Koichi demanded. "We won't leave or give up until we get him back!"

At that moment, Josuke entered from the backroom. He looked confused to see his friends.

"Guys? What are you doing here…?" he asked.

"Josuke! Higura must have put you under some kind of ability!" Koichi shouted. "She’s an enemy Stand user!"

"I already know she's a Stand user. But she's an enemy...?"

"He's telling the truth!" Okuyasu said. "Why do you think we came here to save you?!"

Higura was done applying fresh lipstick from Vanity. She swayed her hips as she walked closer to Okuyasu. She lifted his chin with her hand and gave him a flirtatious wink. Okuyasu started to blush.

"Okuyasu, don’t get taken in by her!" Koichi begged. But it was too late.

She blew two materialized kisses from her lips. The first one landed Okuyasu's face with a loud "SMACK". The second kiss was about to hit Koichi but he dodged it and it hit the floor instead.

Okuyasu suddenly has a pair of hearts in his eyes.

"Heeeey, babyyyy!" he said happily. He threw himself at Higura’s feet. "What a knockout! Will you be my girlfriend?"

"Back off, Okuyasu!" A jealous Josuke came up and his foot stomped on Okuyasu’s face, trying to push him away. "I saw her first! And she liked me more!"

"OHHH-ho-ho-ho-ho!" Higura laughed. She is very amused. "You two boys aren’t going to start fighting over little old me now, are you?"

"Hell yeah!" Okuyasu said, bringing out The Hand again. "I'll fight for a date for you!"

"Oh please, I've beaten you before!" Josuke said as he brought out Crazy Diamond. "I've already bought her a lovely gift!"

Before the squabble turned violent, Higura knocked Okuyasu out with a high kick to his chin. Josuke is shocked by this.

"W-why on earth would you do that?" he asked.

Higura put on her best puppy-eye look to make herself vulnerable and timid.

"I didn't mean to, I slipped," she said in a cute voice.

Josuke went back making a goofy lovestruck expression.

"I forgive you~!" he said.

Koichi wondered if he should make a run for it. He can't face three Stand users by himself now that two of his friends have been brainwashed. If he leaves, he can go find Fubuki and Jotaro to help him.

Before he can make a decision. He was grabbed from behind by Ozu and Kitano, who then held him up by his arms.

"Aaaaaah!" he screamed.

"Big Sis, don’t forget about him!" Kitano said.

"Koichi Hirose, was it? There's no need to be afraid…" Higura said. She materialized another kiss mark on her finger. "Getting kissed by such a beautiful girl is considered a great honor. Do you even know how lucky you are?"

"Wait, don't!" Koichi begged. "Don't do this!"

She moved her finger closer and Koichi tried to shrink away from the kiss. It nearly touched his skin when several water shurikens came flying and struck Ozu and Kitano, who dropped Koichi. Higura realized she is under attack and she flipped away, dodging a couple of water shurikens.

Ozu and Kitano are stuck to the floor; after the water shurikens splashed on to the clothes, they became some sort of sticky adhesive.

"Ugh! It's thick and sticky, and it's everywhere!" Kitano shouted.

"That's what she says!" Ozu joked. "But seriously, we're stuck! What's up with this water?!"

"Water… wait a minute!" Koichi gasped.

He looked up to the entrance and saw Fubuki walking down the stairs. He looked cool with his hands in his pocket, his hair flowing behind him, and his Stand out. Fubuki is surrounded by three hula hoop-sized water rings created by Purple Rain.

Koichi is ecstatic to see him. "F-Fubuki! Thank god, you changed your mind!"

"Looks like I'm late," Fubuki said, eyeing the surroundings. "I see about seven or eight punks knocked out, Okuyasu lying on the floor, and Josuke standing behind some strumpet…"

"It’s you," Higura said. She had recognized Fubuki as soon as he entered. Though she did not approve of him calling her a 'strumpet'.

"How did you even know where we are?" Koichi asked.

"I asked the right people..." Fubuki replied.


In a room of Budogaoka General Hospital, Fubuki glared at the patient covered in up bandages and wrappings on the bed.

"A slimy rat like you should have information about where The Black Zodiac Gang goes to hang out," he said. "Unless you want another month's stay in the hospital, you will tell me the name of the location."

Mizoguchi, former leader of the School Newspaper Club, cowered in terror.

"O-okay, okay! I'll tell you!" he cried.


"Big Sis! That’s the demented nerd who tortured me!" Kitano yelled.

Fubuki stomped on Kitano's pelvis again. Not only Kitano yelped in pain and his eyes widen when he felt something warm leaking through his pants.

"You son of a bitch! I was already kicked in the balls!" Kitano wailed. "Why did you do that?!"

"It just amused me," Fubuki shrugged. He then gave a cold glare to Higura. "So you're the one who made Josuke weird all day, huh? I should have known it was you."

"Weird?" Josuke raised an eyebrow. "What are you talking about?"

"She can make men fall in love with her!" Koichi said. "It's that lipstick of hers! It must be her Stand!"

“Shut up!” Higura snapped. She whipped Koichi so hard, she knocked him aside.

"B-bunnycakes, what are you doing?!" Josuke cried. "I like you a lot, but that's my second friend you just hit!"

Higura grabbed the front of Josuke's uniform and pulled him close. The lipstick of the first kiss is still on his neck, almost fading.

"Forgive me, my darling," she said. "But I'm going to make you completely mine."

She planted a second kiss on his cheek. Josuke's eyes turned white and his cheeks are full red like a rose. He looked fully aroused and he's heaving like some feral beast, much to Fubuki's shock.

Higura smiled and rubbed Josuke's chin lovingly. "Who's the most beautiful girl in Morioh?"

Josuke responded by nuzzling his face against her shoulder.

"In Ancient Egypt, wearing lipstick is a sign of social status rather than gender," Higura explained. "One kiss from Vanity makes men fall for me, and a second kiss turns them into complete love slaves for me, surrendering their entire body and will only to me..."

"I read the Egyptians crushed bugs to create the color red on their lips," Fubuki said. "Very fitting for a spider such as yourself."

Higura ignored his insult and looked at Josuke. "Darling, if you’re really fit to be my man, then you certainly can’t afford to lose to Fubuki."

Fubuki is surprised. Josuke turned his attention to Fubuki and his face twisted to blind rage.

He attacked.

"DORA!!"

Crazy Diamond tried to punch Fubuki, but he and Purple Rain ducked out of the way just in time. Purple Rain used two of the water rings to mold into a solid barrier to block a barrage of flying punches.

"DORARARA!!" Crazy Diamond screamed as it continued punching the barrier without stopping. The mighty power and speed of the attack started to push not only Fubuki back, but Purple Rain is having a harder time trying to keep the barrier up. The barrier itself is starting to break and leak water.

This strength... it’s different! Fubuki thought. It's like he’s going all out! If don’t think of a way to defeat Josuke, it’s all over for me!

"Get over here and fight like a man, Fubuki!" Josuke roared. "You're causing trouble for my girl!"

Crazy Diamond broke through the barrier. Purple Rain used this moment to use the broken water barrier to mold into a solid cocoon around Crazy Diamond's body, preventing it to move its arms. Fubuki rushed over to Josuke and grabbed his uniform. Josuke is standing and frothing from his mouth.

"Get a hold of yourself, Josuke!" Fubuki shouted. "You're being enchanted by a Stand right now! You're not really in love with Higura, she's just using you to fight for her!"

A whip wrapped itself around Fubuki's neck and pulled him away. Fubuki crashed into a table, breaking a couple of bottles left on there.

Higura smirked down at him.

"Save your breath, Josuke can't hear you anymore," she said. "He can only listen to the words of my sweet voice."

Fubuki lowered his face and his shoulders trembled.

"I hear the two of you used to be good childhood friends," she continued. "Why not join me? You can stay close to him and the rest of your little friends in my gang."

Fubuki gave her a dark, icy glare. "Shut your mouth, you ugly pig."

Higura looked like she was going to faint from disgust and horror. At this moment, Koichi and Okuyasu stirred awake.

"F... Fubuki?" Okuyasu blinked. "What is he doing here...?"

"He's come to save us," Koichi told him faintly.

Okuyasu is confused. "Why...? Higura is a sweet babe who would never hurt anyone..."

"Fine, I'm done playing the nice girl. We'll do this the hard way," she snarled. She blew another materialized kiss and laughed in her victory. "OHHH-ho-ho-ho-ho! Your weak heart will be your undoing!"

She threw the kiss directly at his face. Fubuki's eyes widen behind his glasses.

"Fubuki, no!!" Koichi screamed. "Oh no, he was our last hope!"

Higura smiled... Suddenly, Purple Rain punched her in the face.

"F-Fubuki!" Okuyasu screamed. "You hit a girl! Have you no shame?!"

Purple Rain just continued rapidly punching Higura. She was thrown off her feet and landed a good distance away. She clutched her face and she could feel blood trickling from her mouth.

"How... how could you?!" Higura snarled. "The power of Vanity should have worked!"

She saw Fubuki getting up and she began to get terrified.

"I got it... it's because I need to a new coat if lipstick... The fresher it is, the stronger its effect!"

With a shaky hand, she applied new lipstick on her lips. Fubuki approached her and Higura threw a bigger materialized kiss. It hit Fubuki's face like a concrete brick. Fubuki's face got a little bruised up but he remained unaffected.

"Is that it?" he asked sarcastically. "I was expecting something more."

"How?!" Higura is almost screaming. "That's impossible! No man is immune to Vanity's love effect!"

"Sorry to burst your bubble, but you wasted your kisses on the wrong type of man."

"I get it now!" Koichi realized. "The reason they didn't work on you is that you're gay!"

"Whaaat?! What is this deus ex machina bullshit?!" Kitano shouted. He's still stuck in the sticky water with Ozu. "It's like reading a poorly written manga or fanfic!"

Higura is so shocked. Her fighting spirit quickly became diminished that all the lipstick marks she placed on everyone—Okuyasu and the delinquents she made into her bodyguards—disappeared into a poof of smoke.

"Ack! Oh no!" Higura gasped.

Okuyasu blinked and clutched his head. "Ow, I suddenly got a headache now... and for some reason, I remember going gaga for that Higura chick..."

Higura took out her lipstick again but Purple Rain kicked it away from her hand.

"That's enough putting on makeup," Fubuki angrily told her. "Now, change Josuke back to normal."

"You dummy!" Higura yelled at him. "I already surrendered! I was going to lift the charm from Josuke but you kicked my lipstick away!"

"What?!"

The lipstick fell on the floor and the material baton broke off from the tube.

"Now you've done it..." Higura muttered.

Meanwhile, Crazy Diamond finally broke free from the water cocoon prison. Josuke and his Stand rushed over to Fubuki. Fubuki and Purple Rain used the last water ring to created a water drill that knocked back Crazy Diamond.

"How is he still under your power when all the other guys returned back to normal?!" Koichi demanded while he watched Fubuki and Josuke fight around the bar.

"That's because I kissed Josuke the second time!" Higura replied. "Only I can remove the second lipstick mark, but since my tube is broken, it's impossible to stop Josuke now!"

"Damn, talk about inconvenient!" Okuyasu said. "What do we do now?!"

"N... nothing... There's nothing we can do..." Higura lowered her face in her hands. "Josuke won't stop until he fulfills my order, which is defeating Fubuki."

"But he'll kill Fubuki at this rate!"

Everyone heard a sickening sound and they saw a horrifying sight. Crazy Diamond had easily punched a hole through both Purple Rain and Fubuki. Fubuki coughed out blood but he raised a hand so he can touch Josuke's face.

"Damn it..." he mumbled. His senses are quickly going dim. "I hope... you're satisfied now... idiot..."

With its remaining strength, Purple Rain used Fubuki's blood to break Crazy Diamond's right arm, which also broke Josuke's arm.

Josuke screamed in pain. Crazy Diamond quickly pulled away and Fubuki could feel his body falling.

"I'm sorry... I know you can't heal yourself..." Fubuki said in a trembling voice.

Koichi had an idea on how to break Josuke out of the Stand's effect. He made Echoes ACT1 throw a writing on Josuke's face.

"He’s your friend...! He’s your friend...! He’s your friend...!" the words echoed inside Josuke's body.

Josuke looked at Fubuki lying on the floor and something snapped inside him. It is probably the combination of having a broken arm caused by Purple Rain and the power of Echoes, but he could feel himself slowing breaking away from Vanity's power.

"Fu... Fubuki..." Josuke mumbled in horror.

Okuyasu appeared and The Hand quickly erased the lipstick marks on Josuke's neck. Josuke is snapped back to normal and he grabbed Fubuki's body. Crazy Diamond quickly healed his injuries. Okuyasu and Koichi gathered around him.

"Fubuki!! Oh god, I'm so sorry!" Josuke cried, feeling guilty. "I should have realized sooner! Don't die on me, Fubuki!"

Koichi is close to crying while Okuyasu is shaking. 

Fubuki frowned and opened his eyes. When he saw his wound has disappeared and he's no longer covered in blood, he mustered a little smile to Josuke.

"Finally opened your eyes, huh..." Fubuki murmured. "That was close."

His friends laughed and cried in relief. Josuke hugged Fubuki; the latter is so embarrassed being hugged, but he let Josuke have this.

"Do you still remember being Higura's little love slave?" Fubuki asked him.

Josuke is immediately repulsed and he shuddered. 

"Still, I think it's not a bad idea..." Okuyasu said, thinking about it. "I mean, she is pretty despite her personality..."

From the distance, Higura is watching the moment. Kitano and Ozu crawled over to her, still covered in sticky water.

"Big Sis, are you okay?" Kitano asked.

"We're sorry, we failed you!" Ozu cried.

"No... I'm the one who failed. My kisses have put him under my spell, but his friends were the ones who broke it..." Higura said. "I'm disappointed that I lost, but... there's a new passion burning in my heart! This time, I will win his heart in another way instead! I will make you my man, Josuke Higashikata!"

"Eeek!" Josuke squealed in fear. He had heard her and he hid behind Fubuki. "She still has the hots for me?!"

Fubuki muttered, "This is Yamagishi all over again..."

*&*&*

The following day at the school during lunch period, Onodera approached Josuke (who is now wearing a cast for his broken arm).

"Higashikata!" she said, carrying a homemade bento. "I think I made my lunch better this time! Wanna try it?"

"Um..." Josuke hesitated, a sweat rolling down his face.

Suddenly, he heard someone running towards him in the hallway. He turned around to see Higura appearing with another bento made for him.

"Josuke darling, why don't we eat lunch together~?" she said with a seductive smile. "I made your favorite today~"

"Hey! Who are you?!" Onodera snapped.

"I'm Josuke's future wife," Higura answered with a proud smirk. "He'll be eating lunch with me from now on and not with a dull princess."

"Excuse me?! Who do you think you are?! Josuke's eating my lunch as he promised!"

"I just remembered I have to go to the nurse's office!" Josuke lied.

He made a run for it while the two girls chase after him, screaming at him to eat their lunches.

Fubuki, Okuyasu, and Koichi are eating lunch together in Class 1-B. Okuyasu is weeping due to his poor luck of getting ladies, Koichi sympathized with him, while Fubuki is annoyed.

"Stupid Josuke..." he grumbled.

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 18: The Two Zeppeli Women

Around early in the evening, Fubuki and his family, consisting of Uncle Norisuke and Grandma Julia, stepped inside a new Italian restaurant so close to Kunimi Peak Cemetery. The restaurant is called "Trattoria Trussardi" and they were greeted by the only employee, a handsome Italian man named Antonio Trussardi. Though he allows his customers to call him "Tonio".

"Welcome back, Signor," Tonio greeted Fubuki with a genial expression. "I see you brought your family here."

"Oh my, Fubuki. You've already been here before?" Grandma Julia said.

"Yeah, my friends Josuke and Okuyasu, and I were just here yesterday," Fubuki explained as he and his family took one of the only two tables of the restaurant. "I haven't tried any of the food yet since I wasn't hungry that time, but I can tell you Tonio cooks great food that can make you healthy."

What Fubuki didn't include is that Tonio is also a Stand user like him. Tonio's Stand is called Pearl Jam, and it has the ability to cure ailments through the ingestion of a specific dish cooked by Tonio. After Tonio diagnoses specific ailments through palm reading, he prepares a high-class dish and in the process infuses Pearl Jam in it. Fubuki had witnessed this benevolent power when Okuyasu was cured of all his ailments (and then he and Okuyasu had a good laugh at Josuke who was forced to clean Tonio's kitchen).

Fubuki shares a knowing smile to Tonio, who smiled back in appreciation.

Grandma Julia is enthusiastic to eat at in an authentic Italian again, due to her Italian blood. Today, she is wearing a kerchief scarf around her head.

"Whoa, this place is so small!" Uncle Norisuke exclaimed. "Why do you have only two tables here?"

"It's because I run this place on my own," Tonio explained. "I am both the cook and the waiter."

"Signore, sei Italiano?" Julia asked him, now speaking in her native Italian language.

Tonio is fairly surprised to meet another Italian like him that began speaking his language too.

"Sì, io sono Italiano," he replied. "Sono venuto da Napoli."

"Sono nata a Napoli! Ho vissuto lì con tutta la mia famiglia! Mio padre era un falegname, e ho avuto quattro fratelli germani. Avete sentito della famiglia Zeppeli?"

"No, ma era così bello conoscerti. Spero che vi piaccia il mio cibo."

"Sei molto bello ed educato, voglio adottarti!" Julia gave him a sly smile as she motioned her eyes towards Fubuki. "Penso che mio nipote ha una cotta per te..."

Tonio laughed. Norisuke and Fubuki exchanged confused looks since they could barely understand what they're talking.

"Sir... Mister Tonio, is it?" Norisuke spoke up. "The sign outside says today's menu is 'up to the customer', what does that mean?"

"It means he decides what to cook for the customer," Fubuki answered. "He simply looks at you and determines what you will have."

"How odd, so it's a surprise? ... I like it!" Norisuke said. He sniffed for a moment which Tonio noticed.

"Signore, do you mind if I read your hands? Same for you, signora..." Tonio asked. Norisuke and Julia did as he was told. Tonio checked their hands carefully. "I can tell everything about somebody's body by seeing their hands... Signore, you've been having constipation for at least a week... And, signora, you have a cold since this morning, didn't you?"

"Unbelievable! You can tell all of that?!" Norisuke shouted in awe.

"Si," Tonio smiled. "I will go and prepare a meal for you that will make you feel better."

Fubuki coughed and held out his hand. "You forgot about me..."

Fubuki's mind began to wander. He imagined Tonio taking his hand and gently caressing it, making Fubuki's skin tingle.

"I know just the dish thing that will satisfy your hunger," Tonio said to him in a soft voice. He looked so tender up close to Fubuki. "Trust in me... If you want, I'll let you sit in my lap and feed you."

Fubuki's cheeks went all red. Unfortunately, his daydream ended quickly.

"Oh, I'm sorry!" the actual Tonio said before heading to the kitchen. "But I don't need to look at your hands, I've already seen it in your face... I have the right dish for you."

"I see..." Fubuki said, feeling a bit disappointed. I got to control myself... but he's so DAMN handsome! He's even my type! Dammit, I was born too early!

Fubuki made a low sob and buried his face on the table.

"Um... are you okay, nephew?" Norisuke asked. "This is is not like you."

Julia just giggled.

Tonio came back from the kitchen with three dishes. For Norisuke, he got a dish called 'risotto ai funghi' or mushroom risotto, a creamy rice dish made with porcini mushrooms.

"Risotto?" Norisuke asked with a little smile. "I know a little a bit of Italian cuisine, so isn't risotto a normally the primo before the main meal?"

Julia received a dish called 'spaghetti alla vesuviana'. It's similar to the spaghetti alla puttanesca but without anchovies, but it's still very spicy.

"Pasta, Vesuvio style!! The Neapolitan vulcano!" Julia exclaimed excitedly. "A dish from my old hometown! You're spoiling this old lady rotten~!"

"Mother, are you okay with eating spicy food...?" Norisuke asked, getting concerned.

Julia just went ahead and ate her spaghetti. Norisuke shrugged his shoulders and tried out the risotto.

However, Fubuki looked down at his dish.

"This spaghetti... is black," Fubuki pointed it out.

"This is spaghetti al nero di seppia," Tonio explained. "It's made with cuttlefish ink, which explains the color. All Italians love it, it's very delicious. Cuttlefish ink has been used in homeopathic medicine for centuries to treat conditions like menstrual problems, skin problems, and depression."

Fubuki became a little irritated. "Who said I have depression?"

Tonio just smiled at him. "Please eat."

Fubuki twirled some of the black spaghetti with a fork and carefully ate it. He could feel his taste buds singing.

All of a sudden, fluids began to drain excessively from Grandma Julia's nostrils.

"This dish... what is this amazing feeling?!" the old lady muttered in shock, unaware of what's happening to her. "This food is so good! I can't describe this feeling... it's like I'm in a state of happiness!"

Norisuke's eyes widened and he screamed.

"Mother! Your nose is running so much!" he said as he began to stand up. "Are you okay...?!"

Norisuke stopped and he clutched his stomach. He seemed to be in pain.

"Ugh! My... my stomach's starting to hurt really bad!!"

"Uncle, it's alright," Fubuki said, trying to calm him down. "Everything's going to be fine."

Still, Fubuki became uncomfortable when his uncle suddenly threw up his own in blood and intestine. Even his grandmother's nose began to melt off... However, in a blink of an eye, their 'injuries' is restored back to normal as though nothing has happened.

"Holy crap! I felt better already!" Norisuke grinned. "My constipation's gone!"

"My nose felt less stuffy too..." Julia said in awe.

Tonio is standing by, watching their ecstatic reactions while his Pearl Jam Stand hovered by his side.

Fubuki cleared his throat and blushed.

"You're definitely a genius," Fubuki said.

Julia began to sniff again. Tears are rolling down her cheeks. Norisuke handed her a handkerchief.

"Mother, what's wrong?" Norisuke asked her.

Even Tonio is a little troubled by this. "Ah, signora, did my cooking make you upset?"

"No... your food is magnificent," Julia said after drying her tears. "It's just that... this spaghetti I'm eating... reminded me of my old childhood back in Naples... when it was just me, my four siblings, and my father... the six of us were happy..."


MORIOH'S FAMOUS LANDMARK #3

Trattoria Trussardi: An unusual Italian restaurant with no set menu. The chef will decide the menu based on how the customer is feeling that day. Because seating is limited, it is recommended that you make a reservation. 

Directions: One minute on foot after getting off the bus headed to towards Morioh's Kunimi Peak Cemetery. 


Many decades ago in Naples, seven-year-old Julia Zeppeli is a small girl with her brown hair tied into two pigtails. She is the eldest daughter of the Zeppeli family and her father Mario is a respected carpenter who is loved his family, like any good Italian man, and he's someone you could trust.

Julia not only looked up to her father but to her oldest brother Caesar. He was the ideal brother; he's the one Julia often turns to when she and her siblings are in trouble.

Julia is known to be a slowpoke and crybaby, due to her sensitive nature and inability to run fast. She's also responsible for her age; when their mother died years ago, she took up the task of cleaning and cooking while also taking care of her youngest sister.

One day, Julia was coming home carrying a basket of groceries. She had gone to the market across the river and her feet are tired. It was close to sunset so she has to hurry home to prepare the dinner. She walked along a road near the river when she spotted her siblings playing together.

Caesar is carrying little Cornelia on his shoulders while Francesco is chasing them with a stick. Francesco's twin, Fredo, is sitting nearby and he's reading a book.

"Hey!" Julia called out to them. "It's time to go home! Caesar, help me carry these!"

Caesar heard his sister. He's a handsome youth with light blonde hair and birthmarks under his eyes.

Caesar put Cornelia down on the ground, who started throwing a tantrum.

"No! I wanna ride horsey more!" she pouted.

Still, she and her twin older brothers follow Caesar.

"Julia, you took so long at the market, we got bored waiting," Caesar said.

"Hmph!" Julia replied. She looked ready to cry. "Maybe I could have gotten things done faster if I had more help... You boys play all day while I have to clean and cook. It's not fair!"

"You're the one who volunteered to do the chores," Fredo pointed it out her. "I mean, you can't complain about it."

Julia stepped on his foot and while it didn't hurt Fredo, he pretended to be in pain. He hopped around on one foot which made Cornelia giggle.

"So, what are we having for dinner?" Francesco asked. "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse."

"H-horse? Eat?" Cornelia said, wide-eyed. "No eat horsey!"

"Hahaha, no we're not gonna eat any horse!" Julia laughed. "I'm going to cook lots of spaghetti! I also bought ingredients to make a cake for Papa's birthday tomorrow!"

"Mamma mia! Father's birthday tomorrow?!" Caesar gasped. "I didn't have a gift for him!"

"Me too!" Francesco said.

"I already got you all covered," Fredo said. "You know that bookstore near Signore Bongiovi's shop? I managed to save some money and bought a brand new poetry book for Father... and I signed all our names in it."

"I knew we can count on you save our skin, Fredo," Caesar grinned.

"Anyways, is anyone gonna help me carry these things?" Julia whined. "My feet hurt. My arms hurt. AND my back hurts."

Her brothers immediately grab all the groceries from her arms.

"Let's go!" Caesar began. "The last one who reaches home will do the dishes!"

"Huh?! Hey, you meanies! You set me up!" Julia shouted.

However, her siblings have already run ahead of her. They knew she can never catch up to them no matter how fast she runs. Julia gave a defeated sigh and made a slow walk towards home. She wondered if her father is still working in his shop.

She soon came across two older boys who are laughing and sharing jokes. When they saw little Julia alone, they both put on a nasty smile.

Without warning, one of them grab Julia and the other flipped her dress over her head to expose her underwear.

Julia cried in fear. "Caesar! Help me!"

The two mean boys then pushed her down a hill and she fell into the river. Julia started crying when she realized her nice gray dress is now all wet and dirty.

The two boys are now attacked by Caesar and his twin brothers, who just returned to fetch Julia. They are angry that these boys have hurt their little sister so they began beating them up.

*&*&*

Mario closed his shop early when his neighbors informed him that his sons have attacked their children. He is standing outside of his home. His children are there, along with the two bullies (who are covered in bruises) and their parents.

"Caesar... Fredo and Francesco..." Mario said in a serious voice. He sounded so disappointed in them. "Did you hurt them?"

"They started it!" Caesar snapped. "They know what they did!"

"Control your son, Mario!" one of the bullies' father said. "I swear his hot-headed temper will cost him dearly."

"Why don't you control YOUR son, you tomato-nosed jerk!"

"That's enough, Caesar," Mario said. "Now let's get inside so we can talk about your punishment... I must apologize for his behavior. He's still young and I'm sure he didn't mean to hit your son, Signore."

"Those kids lifted Julia's skirt and they pushed her into the river," Fredo coolly explained.

Mario changed his mind and punched the bully, much to the other man's shock.

"How dare you touch my daughter!" Mario snapped.

"Mario Zeppeli, are you insane?!" the bully's father gasped.

Mario and his neighbors continued yelling each other in Italian while the Zeppeli children quietly went inside their home. Minutes later, Mario entered and rubbed his head. Then he went over to Julia and scooped her up. Mario is tall and huge, but he is gentle.

"Did they hurt you so much?" he asked.

"No, but it was still bad," Julia sniffed.

"It's alright... I made sure those kids won't do anything like that to you ever again."

His other kids hugged their father.

"Wow, Father! I didn't realize you had it in you to punch a kid!" Francesco said. He added under his breath, "It makes me glad that you never hit us..."

"I can see where Caesar get that temper from," Fredo said sarcastically.

"That reminds me..." Mario said. He set Julia down and went down on one knee before Caesar. He placed his hands on his shoulder. "Caesar, I'm proud of you for sticking up for your sister. We Zeppelis are proud of our strong family bond... However, I was mad because you were hot-headed. You acted and said things without thinking. You must be careful next time. Promise me that."

Caesar lowered his head. "Yes, Father..."

With a sly smile, Mario ruffled his son's hair.

"If you want my opinion, you should have hit those kids harder," he said.

He and his children burst out laughing. That night, Mario took over the duty of cooking dinner so he can make his daughter Julia play with her siblings for once.

"You're still a child, you should have fun," Mario told her. He is standing by an old stove as he's preparing the sauce.

"But I LIKE doing this!" Julia insisted.

"Okay, okay, you can stay," Mario laughed. "Maybe you can watch and help me cook."

"Papa, don't add the anchovies!" Julia said sharply, pointing a finger to one of the ingredients. "We're not including that! And make sure get the pasta ready!"

Caesar came into the kitchen, looking for Julia. He has a hairbrush and doll with him.

"There you are, Julia! I'm going to brush your hair," he told her. "Sit down and play with your doll."

"I don't play with dolls, I'm all grown up," Julia said in a snarky tone and with her hands on her hips.

Caesar got an idea. "Then I guess I can give this to Cornelia..."

Julia squealed in anger and snatched the doll from him.

"No, no! Cornelia will bite her head off!" Julia said.

She took a seat on a stool and started playing with her doll while Caesar brushed her hair. When it was time for dinner, Mario called his other children and they sat around to eat. Julia is trying to feed the picky Cornelia some spaghetti.

"I don't like spicy," Little Cornelia stuck her tongue out.

"Then you can starve," Francesco joked.

"... I'll eat you then!"

Cornelia pretended to bite into Francesco's arm but the latter thought she was being serious and tried to get away from her.

"Put your book down, Fredo," Mario said. "It's time to eat."

Fredo closed his book and picked up his fork. Throughout dinner, Caesar and Julia noticed their father is acting a bit odd tonight. Every night while they eat, Mario would talk about his day; tonight, however, he's rather quiet.

"Is something's bothering you, Father?" Caesar asked.

Mario shook his head. "Nothing... I'm just remembering your mother. She would have been so happy to see you all alive and well."

His children became quiet. Julia, who is sitting next to him, hug his arm.

"We missed her too. But... You raised us and taught us good to be good people, Papa," she smiled. "I wish we can stay like this forever."

The next day, the Zeppeli children were surprised when their father didn't go to work. He has never missed a day of his work before. He seemed quiet and distant, he didn't even give them an explanation. It was around lunch time when Mario suddenly got up from the table and put on his coat and hat. Without a word of warning, he walked out the door.

Caesar and his siblings were stunned and speechless. They wondered if their father went out to do something important and it was an emergency. Feeling a bit hopeful, they cleaned up the house and waited for his return. They even baked his cake so they can surprise him for his birthday. When he did not come back that night, everyone but Caesar went to bed.

The following day, Julia and her siblings woke up and find their oldest brother Caesar still awake. The cake they made for their father was still untouched, and it has already grown hard and spoiled. Caesar informed them that Mario Zeppeli still did not return. It was then they are faced with the grim realization that their father had abandoned them.

Julia started wailing.

"P-Papaaaa, come back!!" she cried. "Papaaa!!"

"I can't believe it..." Francesco muttered. "Why would Father do that?"

"Maybe he's grown tired of us," Fredo said darkly.

"Fredo, shut up!" Caesar snapped. He is shaking. He looked like he could burst into tears. "There's... there's got to be a reason! Father would never leave us! He'll come back to us!"

"Caesar, you won't leave us, right?!" Julia bawled. Tears continued rolling down her face.

Caesar hugged his sister and he started crying too. The others joined in too. When the sobs died down, they began to get worried. They all share the same question: Now that their father is gone, who is going to look after them?

"L-let's... stick together, okay?" Caesar said. "I won't let us separate too..."

"Promise?" Cornelia asked, with her thumb in her mouth. She's still too young to barely understand what is fully happening.

"... Yeah."

However, it was not the case. Distant relatives soon stole everything left from the orphaned family, and it drove Caesar to become a delinquent and thug even though he is still ten-years-old. Mario's friends, the Bongiovi family who lived in the same neighborhood with the Zeppelis, showed great kindness by taking care of the children, but Caesar continued to be more violent. After a fight, he was taken to an orphanage, which was worse than a prison.

Caesar was beaten every day when he talked back and he wasn't given food as punishment. Luckily for him, Julia would arrive outside of Caesar's window and give him a basket of cheese, bread, and sausage. Once a week, she comes to the orphanage unnoticed and Caesar would use a rope made of bed sheets to carry the basket up to his window and lower the basket down whenever he's finished eating.

Sometime later, Julia even helped Caesar escape the orphanage. However, something Caesar's personality has changed; before, Caesar was a carefree and innocent boy who loved his father. Now he grew to hate him instead.

"I bet he's living a new life with some young girl!" Caesar snarled. His face is full of rage. "I'm going to find him and kill him!"

"C-Caesar, stop that..." Julia stammered. "Let's just go home."

"Home? We have no home anymore! That bastard left us, remember?! Do you still think he loves us?!"

"Don't talk about Papa like that anymore!"

In her blind frustration, Julia slapped Caesar's face. She hoped she could knock some sense into him. Instead, the young boy gave her a look and turned around. He started to run away.

"I didn't meant to... Caesar, where are you going?" Julia demanded as fear filled her. She tried to chase after him but she was too slow to catch up to him. "Caesar, I'm sorry for hitting you! Please come back, big brother! ... Caesaaar!"

That was the last time she saw her brother.


After eating at Tonio's trattoria, Fubuki and his family returned to their home above the Spider Threads shop. Uncle Norisuke helped his elderly mother get to bed early. Before Fubuki can go up to his own room, Norisuke has something to show him. Norisuke went to his room and came out, carrying a leather envelope case. It looked old and tattered.

"This has been in the Zeppeli family for decades," Norisuke said. He gave it the envelope to his nephew. "This was given to me by your grandmother when I was a young man."

Fubuki looked at the envelope. He could tell how heavy it is.

"What is this?" Fubuki asked.

"It's a bag containing the letters William Zeppeli wrote to his son Mario," Norisuke replied. "Do you remember your grandmother's story about her father?"

"All I know he's a terrible father and he abandoned his kids."

Norisuke chuckled nervously. He and Fubuki sat around the kitchen table.

"There's a bit more to it, your grandmother told me about it years ago," Norisuke explained. "See... Mario hardly knew his father, Will Zeppeli, but he read the letters and understood why Will could not be around for him... Like his father, Mario had to leave his family but he gave Will's letters to a woman named Lisa Lisa before he mysteriously died. I heard she gave the letters to Julia's missing older brother Caesar, but when he died... Lisa Lisa personally delivered the letters to Julia and had to explain why her father and her brother were killed."

Fubuki doesn't know what to think of this.

"I haven't read them all, most of the letters are too faint to read due to age and I believe a few letters have been lost..." Norisuke continued. "But the letters contain William's accounts of all the places he's traveled to, including his stay in Morioh in 1885."

"Uncle, wouldn't it be better if these letters go to Father's new museum instead?" Fubuki asked. "I know Morioh already has a bit of history of Will Zeppeli, but I felt like it was incomplete. Some of these letters about early Morioh could interest people's curiosity about what a foreign visitor thinks of their town."

"Fubuki, these letters are personal between a parent and a child," Norisuke answered. "In fact, Will Zeppeli had only met his son Mario once when he was a baby. The letters he wrote was his way of trying to connect to his son."

"I guess so. Grandma wouldn't be too happy if people exploit that sentiment for the public."

"I will say this... Will's accounts are very bizarre," Norisuke said, his eyes gleamed with amusement. "He talked learning some mystic art called Ripple from some monks in Tibet, and he was determined to find some Stone Mask, I don't know if he ever did find it... His visit to Morioh is even more bizarre."

"Oh yeah, the folklore," Fubuki nodded. "He's a mystical doctor who could heal people, I've already heard from it from Grandma."

"That wasn't the complete story. Your grandmother only told you that because she didn't want to scare you."

"... What are you talking about?"

"There was one letter about it, you'll have to find it... Apparently, Will killed a clan 'demons' that was terrorizing Morioh, kidnapping and killing people every night."

"Demons?"

"On the night of a full moon, Will went to the mountains alone and single-handedly wiped out the demons."

"Wow, badass," Fubuki said with a sarcastic tone.

"I don't know if that incident happened, because the Morioh Library did not have historical books about it. But yeah, you can see why your grandmother left that part out."

"Well then..." Fubuki stood up and awkwardly held the envelope case full of letters. "Thank you for that lovely story, Uncle. I'll be sure to keep these letters safe."

"Oh, that reminds me!" Norisuke remembered. "Is it true that a teacher named Tohru Miyazaki is working in your school?"

Fubuki is taken aback by this question.

"Yeah, he's my homeroom teacher," he answered. "What about him?"

"I just don't want you to get very friendly with him," Norisuke said. He looked very serious and concerned now. "This incident still lingered in the minds of those who lived in Morioh back. I was there when I heard of it... Fifteen years ago, an entire family of three and their pet dog was killed and Miyazaki was arrested as a suspect."

"What?!" Fubuki is shocked.

"He was the boyfriend of the teenage girl who was killed and it was said the girl dumped him three days before. However... Miyazaki was found innocent and the investigation for the real killer was bombed. There were no leads, no material evidence... The case was closed."

"No way..." Fubuki muttered.

He recalled Sergeant Yanagimoto of the Morioh Police Department telling him and Josuke the EXACT story long ago, and how the murder of that family was Officer Ryohei Higashikata's biggest regret.

"Yet, a lot of people of Morioh still believed Miyazaki killed the girl and her family, and he got away with it," Norisuke continued. "Miyazaki should be lucky that he's allowed to teach in a high school around kids who are the same age of his dead girlfriend."

"What about you, Uncle? What do you think?"

Norisuke pulled his goatee and frowned. "In my opinion... I think he did it."

Fubuki is unsure about how to feel about this information about his teacher. Miyazaki can be wild and crazy, but he was a decent man and a teacher who liked to get along with his students. Fubuki decided to look more into this murder fifteen years ago and make his own conclusion. He started to leave for his bedroom to study but he turned to his uncle.

"One question that sorta bugged me," he began. "What exactly are the demons did Will Zeppeli wiped out back in 1885?"

Norisuke pulled his goatee again.

"Wolves," he replied.

*&*&*

The next day, Jotaro Kujo woke up early and took a shower. He's still staying at the Morioh Grand Hotel and later today, he will be getting a visit from someone from the Speedwagon Foundation. For the past couple of weeks, he's been getting messages from Josuke and his friends that they were able to take down new enemy Stand users. Red Hot Chili Pepper continued to remain hidden from them and Jotaro has run out of other options.

Jotaro opened his shaving kit so he can get his razor when he spotted a diamond engagement ring. It nearly fell to the floor but he picked it up. His mind began to go back many years ago...


Nineteen-year-old Jotaro Kujo and his girlfriend Hitomi Isaji-Zeppeli visit an onsen resort on the weekend break. The two of them spent a day soaking in the warm spring waters and spent a night in each other's arms. The next morning, they are walking down a mountain path to a shrine from the resort. It was just them alone and the morning air is still cool.

"How's the university life?"

"Classes are tough, but the marine science program is good."

"That's good to hear. My life's busy too, I've recently switched to nursing."

"I thought you wanted to be a dentist."

"I do... but I think I prefer taking care of little children in hospitals."

"Of course, you would."

Hitomi held Jotaro's hand and their fingers intertwined.

"I can't believe it'll be another month until I go to Italy," she sighed. "There's so much I wanted to see after the wedding. I wished you could come along too."

"It's fine," Jotaro said with a straight face. "At least I have Kakyoin to keep me from being lonely."

"Hehe, I hope you boys don't have too much fun without me," Hitomi giggled and cling his arm lovingly. "I'm going to miss you so much."

They are now walking through a wooden bridge over a clean river when Jotaro stopped.

"Jotaro, what is it?" Hitomi asked him.

Jotaro looked to the distance, his hands in the pockets of his new trenchcoat. After a moment of silence, he spoke up.

"Good grief, I'm not good with this," he said.

He pulled out a blue box from his pocket and Hitomi has a hand to her mouth. She immediately knew what that box is and she looked at Jotaro. He then placed the box in her hand.

"Here. You'll get the idea," he said awkwardly.

Hitomi opened the blue box and gasped when she saw an engagement ring. Jotaro's cheeks glowed light pink and he lowered his school cap to cover his eyes.

"Well... what do you say?"

Hitomi became teary-eyed and her lips quivered. She threw herself into Jotaro's arms and hugged him.

"Jotarooo! Of course, I will!" she cried happily. "J-Jotaro, are you sure about this?"

"I've already made up my mind."

Jotaro gently placed the ring in her dainty finger and it fitted her. Hitomi reached up and kissed his cheeks.

"We have to tell Kakyoin about this! He's the one who booked us this trip!" Hitomi suggested. "But we might wait a bit to tell my parents... Dad might complain, but he'll get over it! I know he'll be happy for us!"

"Let's break the news to him after you come back from Italy," Jotaro said.

Hitomi is so happy that she began to cry again. Jotaro wiped her tears with his callous but gentle fingers.

*&*&*

It has been over two weeks since Hitomi and her family left Japan for Italy, and Jotaro hasn't even gotten a letter or phone call from her.

A sudden tragedy came to his life when he heard his best friend Noriaki Kakyoin was killed in a car accident. Jotaro wore a formal black suit and attended the funeral. His companions from his trip to Egypt, including his grandfather Joseph, were there to pay their respects.

"Hitomi didn't come?" Polnareff asked sadly. He is carrying a sad Iggy on his left shoulder.

"I tried calling the hotel where she and her family stayed," Joseph said. "But they said her family never visited the hotel..."

Jotaro is standing before Kakyoin's grave, his head lowered in silent grief. He wondered if his friend had died a quick, painless death and he was spared from the suffering. His fists are shaking. He wanted to punch something, anything-- if it meant he could see Kakyoin and his calm smile again.

Jotaro and the others returned to the Kujo household and Holly made them all tea. For the next several days, the Joestar Group stayed in Japan so they can help each other move on from Kakyoin's death. One day, Avdol approached Jotaro.

"Jotaro, this just arrived," he said, handing him a small packaged wrapped in paper.

Confused, Jotaro took the paper and when he unwrapped it. He saw the package is actually the blue engagement box which he gave to Hitomi when he proposed to her. The ring is still inside the box, along with a note.

The young Joestar man began reading the note and he recognized Hitomi's handwriting.

"Can't come back right now. Forget about me."

Heartbroken, Jotaro crumpled the note. For almost a decade, he has never seen or spoken to Hitomi again, even though she's still on good terms with his mother and grandfather. He never wanted anything to do with her again.


Sometime later that day at the private beach outside the Morioh hotel, Jotaro is sitting on a bench and reading a newspaper. The beach is closed so it's just him alone.

He then heard someone approaching him. The stranger in a coat and hat sat on the opposite bench behind him.

"Unless I'm mistaken, you're Jotaro Kujo..." the stranger said and he showed Jotaro his badge. "I'm with the Speedwagon Foundation."

Jotaro turned his head and listened closely.

"I've come here to directly relay a message to you," the stranger said. "You've informed me that anywhere near electrical wires is dangerous, including phone lines and power lines. Here is the message... 'Hitomi and I should be arriving at Morioh's port tomorrow at noon... from Joseph Joestar'."

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 19: Red Hot Chili Pepper, Pt 1

Hours after Jotaro received a message from the SPW Foundation agent, it is late at night at the Higashikata house and Josuke is getting yelled at his mother.

"For the love of--Josuke! What time do you think it is?! If you don't turn that damn game off, I'm going to get really pissed!"

"Five more minutes! Please, just five more minutes, Mom!"

Josuke's fingers are frantically struggling on his console while his video game is playing on the TV screen. He can't stop now, he's close to the best part of the game. However, Tomoko is kicking him in the back repeatedly to disturb him.

"If I stop now, I'm gonna be a pathetic scrub who doesn't finish what I set out to do for the rest of my life!" Josuke pleaded. Even though his right arm is still broken and in a cast, this doesn't stop him from playing the game. "You want me to become like that, Mom?"

"If you don't stop, I'm going to kick you harder," Tomoko said angrily, kicking him. "I wonder how long you can keep this up?"

Josuke lost his concentration and he got killed in the game. He lowered his head and shoulders in dismay.

"It's over..." he mumbled. "Shit."

Suddenly, their doorbell rang.

"Now who could that be at this hour," Tomoko grumbled. She turned to Josuke one last time. "Put your game away and start your homework. And would it kill you to change out of your uniform? It's already dark."

As Tomoko went to the front door, Josuke picked up the remote and turned off the TV. He checked the time on the clock hanging on the wall and saw it is now 10:00 PM. He glanced down at his cast and sighed.

"Just one more week," he said. "Then I can finally remove this... Argh, it's so hard to do tasks with my left hand. Why did Fubuki have to break my arm like that for? Oh right, I fisted him--whoa, that came out wrong!"

Josuke pricked up his ears when he heard his mother speaking to someone in her friendly tone.

"Detective Yanagimoto? What brings you here?" Tomoko asked.

"No need to be formal, just Daijiro would be fine," replied a familiar gruff voice of the police detective. "I'm just stopping by to see how you and Josuke are, Tomoko. I did promise Ryohei to check up on you to make sure you're safe."

Tomoko gasped softly. "I... why, thank you. I appreciated it. Josuke and I are doing fine... D-Daijiro."

There is a brief silence between them. Yanagimoto cleared his throat and spoke up.

"If you're not busy, do you mind if I stay for some coffee?"

"Hmm... I don't know, it's late and I got things to do... How about lunch together instead?"

"As a date?"

"Isn't it obvious?"

"Then you have my answer."

Josuke made a horrified expression and he nearly gagged.

"Whaaaat... the heck am I hearing?!" he said. "Mom is flirting with someone! And with Sgt Yanagimoto of all people! Yuck!"

Why am I bothered by this? Josuke wondered. Mom has the right to meet new people, it's not like Yanagimoto's gonna replace my real father...

Suddenly, the TV turned back on and it's playing a soap drama. It showed a young woman talking to a man.

"I'm sorry, but I can't see you anymore," the woman said. "I've decided to leave town."

"But why, Sachiko?" the man asked. "I thought you loved me."

"This program pisses me off. I can't believe Okuyasu watches this crap," Josuke said. "But that's weird, I thought I turned off the TV..."

He tried to shut off the TV with the remote. He continued pressing the button, but nothing is happening. He thought the remote has run out of battery when he heard a voice coming from the TV.

"It looks like Jotaro Kujo refused to leave town... and after I went out of my way to warn him! Isn't that right... Josuke Higashikata?"

Josuke stared intensely at the TV. He saw a familiar yellow Stand emitting electrical sparks on the screen. It looked like it is sitting peacefully in the background of the show. It's the same Stand who not only killed Okuyasu's brother but stole the Bow and Arrow. It is a Stand that can travel through electricity.

"You... You're Red Hot Chili Pepper!"

Red Hot Chili Pepper popped out of the TV and hovered before Josuke, with its arms crossed and its beak forming a smug smile.

"What are you doing here?!" Josuke demanded.

"You're not the brightest bulb, are you?" Red Hot Chili Pepper asked. "I've been coming in and out of this place for a while now."

What?! This asshole's been keeping tabs on me the entire time? Crap, so he knows that I suck at games!

Red Hot Chili Pepper chuckled.

"One of my other hot spots is Okuyasu's place," the Stand continued. "I also know about Koichi Hirose and his Stand, Echoes... and the other many Stand users whose names I won't bother mentioning since you and your buddies took them out. Oh, and I almost forgot about Fubuki and his Purple Rain!"

Josuke glared at it. "Something about this doesn't make any sense... You're a conniving, birdbrained coward but what reason you have to show yourself to me? You aren't thinking of beating me up, are you?"

"Me, beat you up? Nah, nothing so foul from this birdie," Red Hot Chili Pepper said. "I've come to make things easier for you... and that's killing you."

"Ha, was that supposed to be funny?" Josuke summoned Crazy Diamond. "Because I forgot to laugh."

The electrical Stand chuckled again.

"Before we begin, I've already told Jotaro that his Stand, Star Platinum, poses a great threat to me," it said. "Jotaro never lets his guard down, and his Stand can even stop time. So! I just wanted to see just how much stronger my Stand has gotten over time. But before I fight Jotaro, I want to test my abilities against you, Josuke Higashikata."

Red Hot Chili Pepper then gestured Josuke to attack him.

"Come a little closer," it goaded. "I can already see you have one broken arm, so I'm being extra nice here. Just get as close as you need to launch an attack as precise and as fast as Star Platinum. Come on! If you're so far away, you won't be able to hit me properly."

"Are you mocking me?" Josuke asked.

"Of course not! I'm just confident that I know your strength. Come closer and give me a super sharp one."

Josuke continued to glare at him while Red Hot Chili Pepper pointed a finger to its own face.

"Here. Hit me right here. Come on!"

Without warning, Crazy Diamond punched Red Hot Chili Pepper in the face faster before the latter can react. It even made the enemy Stand spat blood from its mouth.

"Quit your squawking, asshole!" Josuke yelled.

Even though its right arm is weakened due to Josuke's injury, Crazy Diamond has no trouble pummeling Red Hot Chili Pepper.

"DORARARARARARA!!"

H-He's much faster than I thought...!! Red Hot Chili Pepper thought, taken by surprise, as he was knocked back.

"If you want to keep daydreaming, I'll 'put you to bed' myself!" Josuke said. Crazy Diamond punched the Stand in the face again. "And by the way! Jotaro's Star Platinum has got nothing on me!"

Red Hot Chili Pepper regretted its actions; it became a little cocky and underestimated Crazy Diamond. However, it managed to dodge Crazy Diamond's attack this time, and punched Josuke and Stand across the room.

"Josuke! What the hell is that noise?!" Tomoko yelled from the other room.

Josuke found himself lying on the broken cabinet his body smashed into. His body also knocked over some furniture, creating a mess. He was stunned by that Stand power, it felt like a jet engine going off. Red Hot Chili Pepper might be even stronger than Jotaro than Josuke expected.

"Very impressive, Josuke!" Red Hot Chili Pepper said. "Your Crazy Diamond surprised me. Looks like I'm not the only one that's grown. Consider yourself lucky that your other arm didn't get broken too. I'll just wait longer! Until my Stand grows stronger, I won't be able to defeat Jotaro!"

Red Hot Chili Pepper retreated into the electrical outlet near the TV. Josuke wiped the blood from his mouth and hurriedly repaired the mess in the living room before his mother came in to investigate.

He can show up anywhere there's electricity, Josuke thought to himself. Not only does he have tremendous power, but he can control his Stand remotely.

*&*&*

The next day, Fubuki, Koichi, and Okuyasu meet up in the middle of a deserted field. They were called to meet Josuke here. Koichi and Fubuki arrived on their bicycles while Okuyasu came with a secondhand motorbike.

Fubuki is standing by, reading a book as usual, and Okuyasu is sitting on a rock next to a dead tree. Okuyasu is scratching himself.

"Dammit, I just got bit by another bug!" Okuyasu complained. "Bugs always come to me first, did you know that?"

"... Interesting," Fubuki said, without looking up from his book."

"You know, it's days like this that I wished I was one of those fancy bug zappers."

"... Uh-huh."

Okuyasu looked at the cover of the book Fubuki is reading. The title is in English and he tried to pronounce the words.

"What's that you're reading? F... Fare..."

"A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway. I consider it to be my favorite book," Fubuki stated. "It's a novel set during the Italian campaign of World War I, and it describes a love affair between an American paramedic and an English nurse."

"Oooh! I didn't know a serious guy like you love romantic stories," Okuyasu teased him.

"The story ended with the girl dying after giving birth to their stillborn son."

Okuyasu stared at him, now uncomfortable and horrified to hear it.

"That's awful!" he gasped.

"Hemingway was not a happy man," Fubuki said grimly.

"It's Josuke!" Koichi spoke up. He waved at the pomp-haired teen who arrived.

"Hey," Josuke said as he approached them. "Sorry to keep you guys waiting."

"What the heck this is all about, Josuke?" Okuyasu asked. "Why do you want to meet us all the way out here in the boondocks? Can't we talk at Deux Magots cafe or Tonio's place?"

"Are food and girls all you can think of?" Fubuki asked as he closed his book.

"No way, it's the comfort! And there're no bugs!"

"I wasn't the one who called you guys out here," Josuke replied. "It was actually Jotaro."

"Mr. Jotaro did?" Koichi asked. "I wonder what he wants."

"I'm guessing it's about Red Hot Chili Pepper."

Koichi is surprised. "What? You mean that Stand--?!"

Josuke, Koichi and Fubuki heard a loud snap. They turned around to see Okuyasu holding a branch he broke off from the dead tree. His face is darkened. Koichi gulped nervously while Josuke and Fubuki stare at him. Whenever Red Hot Chili Pepper is mentioned, Okuyasu becomes a different person. Nobody can blame him getting so tense since the Stand did kill his older brother.

"... So, he's finally back?" Okuyasu asked in a low voice.

"Yeah," Josuke replied. "In fact, he showed up at my place last night."

Okuyasu stood up and pointed the broken branch at him. "You prick! Why didn't you tell me about this?!"

"Okuyasu," Fubuki said sharply. He placed a hand on his shoulder in an attempt to calm him down. "Don't do anything stupid."

"I told Josuke not to say anything," someone spoke.

Everyone turned to see Jotaro who also arrived.

"Discussing this downtown wasn't an option," Jotaro explained. "We'd be surrounded by electricity. I didn't want to risk being spied on, so I had us meet here."

"Just so you know, Okuyasu," Josuke said. "Red Hot Chili Pepper pisses me off too. He's been going in and out of houses freely without us knowing. I bet he's been stealing from other people too."

Okuyasu is stunned.

"Wait a minute," Fubuki said, after a realization. "So that's why my uncle was complaining that a few of his best clothes from his shop have disappeared."

"My homework was gone too!" Koichi said. "It makes total sense now! And here I thought my mom mistook it for trash--"

"Now's not the time worry about things like that!" Josuke said. "What I'm trying to say is that the only reason Red Hot Chili Pepper hasn't terrorized the town is that we're around. If he wanted to, he could easily drag whoever he wants into the phone lines as easy as making a prank phone call."

Fubuki glanced over to Okuyasu, who just winced as soon he was reminded once more of how Keicho died.

"He still has the Bow and Arrow and he may have already used it on someone," Josuke continued. "I saw first-hand that he's gotten stronger. We have to hurry and find the Stand user fast."

"But how do we do that?" Koichi asked.

"We're all here to figure that out," Josuke said.

"Right. Four high school freshmen and a marine biologist who hasn't gotten his Ph.D. yet," Fubuki said sarcastically.

Josuke gave him the stink eye. "Don't you ever have anything optimistic to say?"

"Actually, we found someone who could find the Stand user," Jotaro stated. Everyone turned to him, taken by surprise. "The four of you will be pleased to know that our guest of honor is arriving at the port of Morioh at noon today."

"Hold on! Is he a Stand user?" Josuke inquired.

"He is," Jotaro replied. "The name of his Stand is Hermit Purple, but he's gotten way too old, so he doesn't have the strength to fight."

Fubuki adjusted his glasses. "How old this user? And how much do you know him exactly?"

"He's someone I know too well. He used to be pretty ripped, but you wouldn't know after looking at him now. He's 80... No, he's 79-years-old, I think."

"Seventy-nine?!" Josuke is flabbergasted. "He's practically a fossil!"

"Watch your mouth, Josuke," Fubuki snapped. "My grandmother's seventy-seven. Are you comparing her to a dinosaur too?"

"Hey, I never said..."

"As I was saying," Jotaro continued before Josuke and Fubuki quarrel. "His legs are weak, so he's using a cane. Two years ago, he had his gallstone removed, and he also has cataracts. When he got dentures, he complained that he can't eat T-bone steaks any more... Oh, and he's going senile too."

"Fantastic," Fubuki said. Even his friends quietly agreed with him.

"You're kidding, right?" Josuke smiled nervously. "Don't tell me he's going to start talking to mailboxes. Gimme a break!"

"The real reason I had you guys come here is so you can protect the old man," Jotaro said. "If Red Hot Chili Pepper finds out about him, you can bet he's going to kill him. Because the thing Red Hot Chili Pepper fears most is us find out who the user is."

Josuke groaned. "Yeah, but that doesn't explain how a geezer like that is going to help us. Not to mention, how am I going to protect him with a broken arm?"

"You're in luck, the Old Man is accompanied by another Stand user who can fix your arm."

"Wait, so there's another Stand user coming at noon?" Fubuki asked.

"Yeah, her Stand is called Ace of Cups, and it can heal general wounds and ailments." Jotaro shifted his eyes in annoyance. "However, I doubt she'd be able to fight Red Hot Chili Pepper on her own... I was against the Old Man coming here. But as soon he heard about the Bow and Arrow, he headed to Japan despite my objections."

"To Japan? Is he a foreigner, Jotaro?" Koichi asked.

"Correct."

"Josuke, th-this is serious!" Koichi fearfully turned to Josuke.

"What do you mean?" Josuke asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Think about it! He's a 79-year-old foreign Stand user!"

Josuke realized. "Y-you don't mean...!"

Suddenly, everyone the sound of an engine starting. It came from Okuyasu's motorbike and there electrical sparks flying around it. Red Hot Chili Pepper emerged from motorbike's battery.

"That's what I needed to hear!" it said.

Everyone is shocked. There is no way he could have gotten this far into the fields without nearby electrical lines, but they quickly figured out that the Stand was hiding inside the motorbike's battery so it could follow them. Now, the Stand has heard their whole conversation and their plan.

"So, Morioh Port at noon..." Red Hot Chili Pepper began as it began starting up the motorbike. "... where I can find an old Stand user who can find me, right? I'll be sure to kill that geezer as soon as he arrives!"

"Dammit! He knows about the old man," Jotaro said. "In other words, he knows about Josuke's father."

Josuke is surprised, and so were his friends. Red Hot Chili Pepper took off before anyone could stop him. If the Stand escapes, it will reach Joseph Joestar before the others do.

"Quick, Josuke!" Koichi cried. "Throw a rock and destroy the bike!"

"Don't even think about it," Okuyasu intervened. He stepped forward and summoned his Stand. "That piece of shit is mine! I think I should be the to kill that bastard!"

The Hand cuts away the space between it and Red Hot Chili Pepper. Once the space is filled again, Okuyasu is teleported onto the motorbike.

"Ack! It's Keicho's little brother!" Red Hot Chili Pepper gasped.

"What's the rush?" Okuyasu asked angrily. "We have unfinished business!"

The Hand tried to scrap away Red Hot Chili Pepper but the Stand dodged out of the way. However, Okuyasu actually meant to erase the motorbike in half and the ride crashed. With the motorbike's battery erased next, Red Hot Chili Pepper is now trapped away from any energy source and the nearest electrical line is at least a hundred meters away. Josuke, Jotaro and the rest began to make their way towards Okuyasu and the Stand.

Color me surprised, Fubuki thought. I didn't expect Okuyasu to go this far to avenge Keicho...


Some time ago, Okuyasu privately approached Fubuki after school. The two of them went some quieter to talk, and that is a table at Cafe Deux Magots. Fubuki ordered two iced teas for them.

"I wanted to talk you because you're the only other person besides Josuke who felt the same way," he said. He looked angry and troubled. "I heard that you wanted to kill Angelo to avenge your dead cousin. So... you probably understand how I felt about that murderous electric bastard, right?"

Fubuki looked at him and his glasses seem to fog over.

"Why do you care about getting revenge for Keicho?" Fubuki asked coldly. "Have you forgotten how badly he treated you? Your brother didn't even blink an eye when you were shot by Bad Company."

Okuyasu was quiet and he gripped the front of his uniform.

"That's not it..." he said slowly. His eyes are filled with pain. "My big bro... he deserved to die. I always knew that someone would snuff him out someday. Sinning and shit like that... When you do bad things, it'll come back to bite you in the ass. Even a sap like me knows that."

Fubuki stared at him.

"The thing is... I'm not very bright, so I've always depended on my bro to make big decisions for me," Okuyasu continued. "When he's gone, I was scared... Sure, I still got my Dad, but I'm not used to doing things on my own. And knowing that my bro's murderer is still alive and out there makes me so angry. I can't forgive him! Of course, you wouldn't understand..."

"No, I do," Fubuki sighed. "I felt the same way when I heard Angelo escaped from execution. But what will you do once you get your hands on Red Hot Chili Pepper?"

"I was hoping you could tell me what to do!" Okuyasu snapped. "Or maybe help a guy out!"

"Don't be naive, I'm not your brother," Fubuki said sternly. "That is up to you make your choice. But I will tell you this from personal experience... Impulsiveness leads to carelessness. There is no happiness for fools who want revenge."

"Wh-what..." Okuyasu stammered.

"I suggest finding a better role model. Or grow up and be your man."


Fubuki's memory was interrupted when Okuyasu started attacking again. He tried to swipe with The Hand but Red Hot Chili Pepper avoids the attack and punches Okuyasu in the stomach. It got distracted by the sight of Jotaro and the others coming and it didn't see Okuyasu teleported himself behind it. The Hand repeated kicked Red Hot Chili Pepper into the ground and tried to erase it again, forcing the Stand to roll out of the way.

Everyone started to notice that Red Hot Chili Pepper isn't as fast as before; the Stand has been depleting its energy reserves and its brilliant appearance began to change to a rusted color. The weakened Red Hot Chili Pepper is now truly powerless and at the mercy of Okuyasu while Jotaro and the rest close in on them.

"Okuyasu, don't finish him off! Wait until we get there!" Jotaro ordered. "You've already won! Our primary focus is to get him to tell us where he's hiding the Bow and Arrow!"

Red Hot Chili Pepper is breathing heavily while it bleeds out from its rusted body.

"I'm weak now... Your Stand's right hand may be slow as hell, but it has incredible power..." it panted. "That being said... don't you want to finish off your brother's killer for good?"

Red Hot Chili Pepper gave Okuyasu a dark look, as though it knew something the delinquent doesn't know.

"Try using your head for a moment... how can you be certain that I'm not pretending to be frail? Who's to say I'm not luring Jotaro to come closer so I can chop off his head?"

"What the hell are you saying?!" Okuyasu snapped.

"Oh, nothing... So, what will you do? Finish me off now, or wait for Jotaro to get here?"

Okuyasu thought about erasing the Stand but something bugged him.

Why would Red Hot Chili Pepper tell him it was lying about being weak? Had the Stand not told him that, it could have tricked Okuyasu and beaten him by playing dirty. Since Red Hot Chili Pepper told him he's fine, the chances of Okuyasu of getting attacked is zero... but this just hurt Okuyasu's head even more. But the Stand is goading Okuyasu to finish it off, so it must want to die.

Is he really weaker? Okuyasu thought. Or is he lying about being weaker, and he's actually fine? Which is the truth?

"What's your answer?" Red Hot Chili Pepper taunted. "Are you going to do it or not?"

From afar, Jotaro isn't the only one who noticed something is wrong.

"We have to hurry," Fubuki said. "Before Okuyasu does something completely stupid."

"This is your last chance," Red Hot Chili Pepper chuckled. "Hurry up and make up your mind, Okuyasu."

Okuyasu can't take the pressure anymore.

"AAAARGH!!" he screamed. "I'm tired of thinking of all this shit, goddammit!!"

"Okuyasu!" Jotaro shouted.

"Don't try and stop me, Jotaro!! He killed my big bro, that means he has to pay the ultimate price! That's the only truth inside my heart!" Okuyasu's The Hand raised its right hand. "Now eat shit and die, you gloried nightlight!!"

The Hand swiped directly at Red Hot Chili Pepper, erasing its lower body. The Stand made a death-curdling scream. The others could only stop and stare at what Okuyasu had done.

"Well, that's just great," Josuke said in disappointment. "Finding the Bow and Arrow is gonna be a real pain in the ass now."

"At least he settled things with that freak," Fubuki muttered.

"No, something doesn't feel right," Jotaro said.

Everyone, including Okuyasu, saw The Hand had also erased the ground beneath Red Hot Chili Pepper. There are electrical cables which powered up the electrical Stand before it died. Red Hot Chili Pepper had tricked Okuyasu into scraping the ground to expose the cables.

Red Hot Chili Pepper laughed. "I really was weakened, dumbass. That motorcycle battery only holds 12 volts after all. A few moments longer, I would have been done for!"

"Why you..." Okuyasu growled. Then he was nearly blinded by Red Hot Chili Pepper's brilliant light.

"Thanks to you, I feel alive again! Poor simple-minded Okuyasu... If you had been a good little boy and control yourself as Jotaro instructed, I would have faded away. I know where all of the electrical lines in this city are. My original plan was to escape using those cables, but they were too far away from the motorcycle. In the state I was in, didn't have enough power to dig up the cables."

"You bastard!!" Okuyasu yelled.

The Hand tried to erase Red Hot Chili Pepper again, but the rejuvenated Stand reappeared behind the delinquent. It's even faster now it has the electrical power from the cables on its side. The Hand tried to attack once more, but Red Hot Chili Pepper used its pinky to cut off The Hand's right arm... along with Okuyasu's arm.

Okuyasu screamed in pain as his arm went flying before landing on the ground, much to the other's horror.

Red Hot Chili Pepper then grabbed Okuyasu by his throat.

"Your big brother Keicho said something about you holding him back," it said with a sadistic smile. "Oh, how right he was. You're spiritually weak. You never could have gotten revenge unless you surpass your brother in spiritual strength, dumbass!"

The Stand laughed and turned to the others.

"So long, Jotaro and Josuke! That old man that was coming to the harbor... Joseph Joestar, was it? He'll suffer the same fate as the Nijimura Brothers!"

"OKUYASU!!" Fubuki screamed, running faster than everyone else.

Red Hot Chili Pepper transformed Okuyasu into electricity and dragged him into the cable. There was nothing left of Okuyasu except for his dismembered arm.

Koichi began to break down into tears while Fubuki is speechless and shocked.

"Good grief," muttered Jotaro. "I can't believe we had him cornered and he still got away."

"He's a pretty dangerous Stand," Josuke said. He and Jotaro seemed rather nonchalant about what just happened. "He can be controlled remotely, and in terms of power, he can take advantage of all the electrical companies, making his power infinite."

"What are you guys talking about?!" Koichi asked, still in tears. "Why are you analyzing the enemy's abilities when Okuyasu just died?!"

"Now's not the time to mourn for him," Fubuki said in an indifferent tone. He is standing up and wiping his glasses with a handkerchief. "Right now, Red Hot Chili Pepper is on his way to the port. We need to hurry and get there."

Koichi stared at him and his fists clenched tighter. "Fubuki, you... you're not even gonna shed a single tear for Okuyasu?!"

Fubuki looked away. When he put his glasses back on, they were actually upside down. There is no way he can make such a simple mistake. Koichi noticed Fubuki's clenching his teeth; while he tried not to show it, Fubuki is just as upset as Koichi.

"Oh, right. I guess we should worry about Okuyasu," Jotaro said.

"Leave it to me," Josuke agreed.

"Talk about a silver lining. Looks like Okuyasu has a guardian angel looking out for him."

"Okuyasu was really lucky that his right arm was chopped off."

Koichi dried his tears, still confused about what they're talking about. Josuke used Crazy Diamond on Okuyasu's dismembered arm on the ground. Repairing the arm caused Okuyasu to be pulled back into the field, which ended up saving him at the nick of time.

"Alright! Okuyasu is back!" Koichi cheered.

However, Okuyasu doesn't look either happy or relieved. He was still upset after being tricked by Red Hot Chili Pepper.

"D-dammit... I totally lost to that bastard," he said, lowering his head and shoulders. He gritted his teeth. "You're right about me being impulsive, Fubuki. I got careless and fucked things up for everyone."

He started slamming his fist on the ground.

"Dammit! Dammit!"

Fubuki grabbed his fist to make him stop. Okuyasu looked at him and lowered his hand.

"It's not about revenge or winning or losing," Koichi told him. "We have to think about protecting Joseph Joestar. That'll lead to us defeating Red Hot Chili Pepper. You have to do that for everyone and for our town."

"Well said, Koichi," Fubuki said, after fixing his glasses.

Josuke and Jotaro started walking away.

"I might be stating the obvious, but this isn't good," Josuke said. "Guess I was taking this too lightly."

"Yeah," Jotaro said. "We have to reach the Old Man's boat before Red Hot Chili Pepper does. Let's hurry to the port."

"Hey, you two!" Koichi called after them. "Aren't you acting a bit too cold? Okuyasu's still in shock! Would you guys wait for us?!"

Okuyasu has been pondering his mistakes and a new determination filled him.

"There's no way around it," Okuyasu muttered as he clenched his fist. "Big Bro... in order to defeat Red Hot Chili Pepper, I have to surpass you."

He felt someone's hand on his shoulder. He looked up to see Fubuki again, who gave him a tiny proud smile.

"That's what I want to hear from you," he said.

*&*&*

In the Speedwagon Foundation boat called "Traffic", a young woman with dark bob haircut is looking at the time in her watch. Years ago, she used to be extremely petite, but not she has matured several more inches in height.

"The captain said we'll be arriving at Morioh Port in about twenty minutes, Mr. Joestar," Hitomi announced. "Are you excited?"

The old Joestar man is sitting on the edge of his bed, staring out the window. His big suitcase is next to the bed. He coughed for a bit.

"Do I... have to walk?" he asked, without looking at her.

Hitomi moved closer. "That's correct. You can't get off the boat if you don't walk, Mr. Joestar."

Joseph moved his hand around.

"Uh... Where did my walking stick go?" he asked before he coughed again.

Hitomi pointed to the cane leaning against the wall near his bed.

"Over there," she said.

Joseph saw the cane but he did not take it. He just became quiet. Hitomi is sad for him; she had volunteered to become Joseph's bodyguard and ever since they left New York, Joseph became more senile due to his age.

She wondered how he would fare in Morioh, not to mention meeting a son he has never known for years. Speaking of which...

She felt a little hand tugging on her jacket. She looked down to see a little boy with soft black hair. He is wearing a white bucket hat and the collar of his shirt is crooked.

"Momma, I'm bored," her son said. "Are we there yet?"

"Not yet, sweetie," Hitomi said, kneeling down. "Just a little longer, I promise. Why don't you play with your Game Boy?"

"I ran out of batteries already."

Hitomi sighed and fixed his collar. A small star-shaped birthmark can be seen on the back of his shoulder. He inherited that birthmark from his father.

"Momma..." her son spoke quietly. He looked worried. "... Do you think Dad will like me?"

Hitomi paused. She then caressed his small face.

"Don't worry. I'm sure he's going to love you."

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 20: Red Hot Chili Pepper, Pt 2

Josuke, Jotaro, and the rest arrived at Morioh Port. Jotaro, using Star Platinum, is able to spot the Traffic approaching on the horizon. Fubuki and Koichi are standing close by, looking around the harbor for Red Hot Chili Pepper while Josuke and Okuyasu are checking a speedboat they can use to rendezvous with the ship before it pulls into the harbor. Fubuki noticed the lighthouse and wondered if the Stand user is hiding in there.

"There it is, it's right on schedule," Jotaro announced. "He's just about twenty minutes away."

"So, Mr. Joestar and the other Stand user are the only passengers on board?" Koichi asked.

"That's right. The rest of the crew are from the Speedwagon Foundation. Red Hot Chili Pepper can only move where there's electricity, but he'll definitely have planned some way to cross the ocean by now... If he gets to Joseph first, he'll kill him without a second thought."

"Jotaro!" Okuyasu called. "We checked the boat and it's good to go!"

"We also checked the battery," Josuke said. "There's no sign of Red Hot Chili Pepper hiding in it."

"I hate to change the subject, but I think that Stand's name is a mouthful to say," Fubuki commented. "I'm almost tempted to call it 'Chili Pepper' to make things easier."

"Um, I think that sounds rather naughty..." Josuke said, sweatdropping. "Anyways, Jotaro, we're ready to set out whenever you give the word."

"About that... only Okuyasu and I are taking the boat to meet with the Old Man," Jotaro said.

Everyone turned to him.

"I want you to stay here and hold down the fort with Koichi and Fubuki," he said.

"Stay here?" Koichi said in surprise. "But won't you need backup?"

"Yeah, he's right!" Josuke said as he got out from the boat. "Why do I have to stay?"

"Isn't it obvious? Red Hot Chili Pepper's Stand user is somewhere in the harbor," Fubuki said, shifting his eyes. "He's probably watching us take this boat at this very moment."

"Wait, seriously?"

"That's correct, Fubuki," Jotaro said. "Right now, he's laying low... However, I have a feeling that he won't be using a boat to reach the Old Man. All he needs to make it over to the Old Man is a battery that can move faster than a speedboat. Once he figured out, he can send Red Hot Chili Pepper to fly over to the Old Man's ship before us."

"What do you mean by 'fly'?" Josuke asked.

"I'd say that he's already stolen a remote-controlled airplane as we speak."

"Th-that's possible!" Koichi said, turning to the others. "Some remote-controlled plane models can go up to 100 km an hour at top speed! That's faster than this speedboat!"

"He won't even have to use a control device at all," Fubuki said. "Red Hot Chili Pepper will be the one pilot the plane model... as long as the plane has enough batteries."

"Listen, Josuke," Jotaro said seriously. "If you spot anything flying around here, I want you to search for the user. Koichi's Echoes has a range of 50 meters and Fubuki's Purple Rain has an advantage with these waters. These two can help out as well."

Both Koichi and Fubuki nodded.

"If Red Hot Chili Pepper gets the ship before we do, the Old Man is as good as dead," Jotaro continued. "Okuyasu and I will protect him on the ship, but you'll have to protect your father by fighting here."

Josuke is sweating as he felt the pressure thrust upon him, but he understood. He and everyone else don't have another moment to waste. Jotaro climbed aboard the speedboat and Koichi waved good luck to Okuyasu. The two of them then departed from the dock, leaving Josuke, Fubuki, and Koichi behind. Koichi and Fubuki were about to leave to find the enemy Stand user when Josuke spoke up.

"... So, my father, huh?"

"Josuke, are you okay?" Koichi asked.

"I'm just processing," Josuke replied. "I never met this guy in my life, yet I'm supposed to accept him as my father. I don't know, it's..."

Seeing Josuke looking out into the horizon reminded Fubuki the few times he caught Josuke, a younger boy, doing the same thing too when they were kids.

"You don't owe him anything," Fubuki said sharply. He has his arms crossed. "Your father was selfish and irresponsible because he messed around with your mother and if Jotaro didn't discover your existence by accident, he would have died surrounded by his own family... blissfully unaware you existed on the other side of the planet. If I was his bastard child... I would just let Red Hot Chili Pepper snuff him."

"Fubuki, that's harsh!" Koichi gasped.

Josuke said nothing but his eyes are shadowed. He then sighed, after he decided to put aside his complicated feelings for now.

"The only thing that matters right now is his life is in danger," Josuke said. "If I didn't even lift a finger to help, I'd always regret it. Besides, my mom would fall apart if the guy croaked."

Suddenly, they heard a new voice speaking up angrily.

"Argh, damn that Jotaro!" the voice growled. It sounds like a young man. "If he left you three behind to sniff me out... that means he saw through my plan, huh?!"

Electrical sparks were seen from one of the many storm drains on the dock where Josuke and his friends are standing on. Red Hot Chili Pepper emerge from the gutter, carrying a remote-controlled plane model.

"It's him!" Josuke shouted. "So, Jotaro was right! He was going to use a plane model!"

"If that Stand is here, that means..." Fubuki realized.

"YEAH!!" Red Hot Chili Pepper shouted and used the plane model to glide around the dock.

The Stand then dropped the plane and landed right next to a person who just appeared. Josuke, Koichi, and Fubuki's eyes widened when they realized the Stand user who has been evading them has actually shown himself.

"I'll give this to Jotaro Kujo... he's just way too perceptive. He's the last person I want finding me. He would just kill my vibe."

Red Hot Chili Pepper's Stand user is a young man, who looked liked he's 18 or 19, has a rather showy appearance. He has long, wavy purple hair. A lightning bolt-shaped tattoo crosses the left of his face vertically, from his forehead over his left eye to his jaw.

He is wearing a dark jacket with the right sleeve having the words "AC" and the left sleeve "DC" on them. Along with his jacket are a vest, tight pants, and boots. He is holding an electric guitar.

"Speaking of killing," the Stand user says, "this remote controlled Spitfire plane can reach Joseph Joestar's boat in a mere five minutes. A speedboat, on the other hand, will take about eight to ten. That means I have a good three minutes to finish you three off, it'll give me time beat Jotaro to the boat."

"So, you're Red Hot Chili Pepper's user!" Josuke stated. "I didn't think you have the balls to show yourself!"

"What a surprise twist villain!" Fubuki is stunned. "All this time... the Stand user is the Japanese rock musician Kenji Ohtsuki!"

"WHO the hell is THAT?! My look is completely original!" Akira snapped, almost offended. He then put on a cocky smirk and started playing his electric guitar. "You're looking at Akira Otoishi, age 19. Oh, and don't let the guitar throw you off... One day, I'm going to be a rocking guitarist like Jimi Hendrix or Jeff Beck, that's why I keep this sweet little mama on me 24/7... One day, the masses will look up from their mundane lives... and they'll be lining up for miles to be blown away!"

He hit a few sharp notes and leaned back, imagining himself on stage.

"People around the world will know my name... Oh yeah~" Akira said with a dreamy expression.

"I never thought the Stand user would come out of hiding," Koichi said, getting scared. "So that means... he's completely sure, without a doubt, that he can kill all three of us!"

"He's either brave... or just stupid," Fubuki scoffed.

Akira chuckled and Red Hot Chili Pepper raised its pinky finger.

"I'm ready for Round 2 with Crazy Diamond," the Stand spoke for its user. "But I'll only use my pinky, just like I did with Okuyasu."

"You should get back, guys," Josuke said. "If anything happens to me, you two can get away."

"Like hell you can take him on with just a broken arm," Fubuki told him.

"Trust me, Fubuki, I can't let you face him."

Akira and Josuke began to face off with each other. Akira and his Stand started rushing at the pomp-haired student.

"It's game on, Josuke Higashikata!" Akira shouted, still so full of confidence in his abilities.

However, Josuke held up up a hand to make him stop.

"Just a minute," he said calmly. "If you're planning to use your pinky in this showdown, I'll give myself a rule too."

"You can take your rules and shove them, fool!" Akira yelled at him. He's so annoyed at Josuke for interrupting him waiting that he unknowingly pointed his left pinky at him. "Rules are wasted on a punk kid like you!!"

Josuke used his left fist to break his pinky to make him shut up. Akira screamed in pain and, out of nowhere, Fubuki kicked him in the chin which caused Akira to bite down on his tongue.

"You damn bastards!" Akira wailed, holding up his broken pinky while blood trickled down from his mouth. "How dare you two gang up on me!"

"Hey, Fubuki..." Josuke said, after summoning Crazy Diamond. "Didn't I tell you to stay back?"

Fubuki adjusted his glasses as Purple Rain materialized behind him.

"Well, the wannabe rocker said rules are wasted on you, so you can't tell me what to do," he said, looking ahead. "Besides, If I didn't lift a finger to keep you alive so you can meet your father... well, I'd regret it for the rest of my life."

Josuke smirked. "You're such a strange guy sometimes."

Akira is furious and in pain. Large sweat appeared on his face as his broken pinky twisted.

"The pain in my finger is unbearable..." he growled. "Where am I supposed channel it? Aghhh... this anger... who am I supposed to plead to?!"

He shakily lifted up his electric guitar. Josuke, Fubuki, and Koichi watch in shock as Akira forced himself--still shaking and crying--to snap his broken finger back into its proper place.

Then he broke into a guitar solo, performing a one-handed tapping.

It was fascinating to watch, almost like a car crash played to an epic guitar riff. Akira is definitely showing off his superb skills as a rock guitarist that Josuke, Fubuki, and Koichi were too awed to interrupt his solo.

When he was finished, Akira was wearing an expression of pure ecstasy.

"There, I did it..." he exhaled. "I expressed the ultimate anger in my heart... Give me a round of applause, all you idiots of the world."

"I can't believe we just stand around and watched him play," Fubuki said, after getting his common sense back. "Even I want to applaud to him."

"The concert's canceled, Otoishi! Bring it on!!" Josuke yelled as he and Crazy Diamond rushed in.

Crazy Diamond was about to pummel Akira but the Stand user suddenly disappeared. Josuke looked around and saw him standing behind him.

"What the hell?! How did he--?!" Josuke gasped. "I know Red Hot Chili Pepper can move at incredible speed, but this is different! It's like he found a way to teleport behind me!"

"N-no, Josuke! That's not what happened!" Koichi said, now wide-eyed. "I saw everything! Akira Otoishi didn't take a single step... YOU'RE the one who changed position!"

"Say what?"

"What he's trying to say is that Red Hot Chili Pepper suddenly appeared and flipped your attack in the opposite direction," Fubuki quickly explained.

Josuke realized his friends are telling the truth, but something doesn't make sense.

"You're saying Red Hot Chili Pepper did this?" he asked, looking around. "But where's the Stand?"

"It's hiding underground!" Koichi pointed to the ground, showing the storm drains all over the dock. "It's using the storm drains to come and go!"

"Apparently, the asphalt under the harbor must be lined with electrical wires," Fubuki noted.

"After I learn from my mistakes," Akira began, "I get stronger. A little soul-searching always gives me the boost I need to bring the pain."

Red Hot Chili Pepper appeared from a drain behind Josuke, on his right, who hadn't noticed it yet. Koichi shouted to alert Josuke's attention. Crazy Diamond moved to attack, but the electric Stand moved faster and landed a couple blows into Crazy Diamond's body, which made Josuke start spewing blood from his mouth. Crazy Diamond tried to attack again but Red Hot Chili Pepper disappeared, before reappearing behind Josuke from another drain. This enemy repeatedly attacked Josuke and his Stand from the drain and then evades their moves when Josuke retaliated. Crazy Diamond's punches aren't as strong and fast, due to lack of mobility of its right arm, thanks to Josuke's injury.

Red Hot Chili Pepper managed to grab hold of Crazy Diamond's right arm.

"Here's an ice breaker," Red Hot Chili Pepper. "How's your hot mom?"

"What the hell?" Josuke is taken aback.

"Don't like that? Okay, how about an ARM breaker!"

Red Hot Chili Pepper used its elbow to break Crazy Diamond's right arm. There is a loud snap from Josuke's already broken arm. Josuke's eyes went wide and he screamed in agony.

"Josuke!!" Fubuki shouted. "Purple Rain!"

Purple Rain appeared and unleashed multiple kicks. Red Hot Chili Pepper avoided them and punched Purple Rain in the stomach.

Josuke was down on one knee, his face scrunched in pain as he clutched his broken arm. His cast has been ripped in half.

Fubuki stood by his side, ready to defend both of them. Meanwhile, Red Hot Chili Pepper kept popping up from the storm drains around them, and striking both Crazy Diamond and Purple Rain from all sides. The enemy moved so fast that Koichi could not keep up with the movements and be fast enough to point out its location to help his friends. Any moment now, either Josuke or Fubuki could be dragged into the electrical lines underground.

"This is like a deranged version of Whac-A-Mole on steroids, except we'll be the ones getting whacked!" Josuke stated.

"Phrasing!" Fubuki said, blushing.

"I said whacked, not whacked off!"

Just as Koichi feared, Red Hot Chili Pepper reappeared behind Josuke and Fubuki. One of its hands is sparking with electricity. Fubuki was able to spot the enemy in time. He pushed Josuke out of the way and then pulled out a water bottle from his pocket. Purple Rain created a water barrier from the bottle. Akira Otoishi, who has been watching from afar, could not believe how stupid the kid is.

Red Hot Chili Pepper's electrically-charged fist punched through the barrier. Josuke watched Fubuki and Purple Rain get instantly electrocuted before his eyes. Fubuki is then knocked off from the dock and he fell into the waters of the ocean.

"Fubuki!!" Josuke shouted while holding to his broken arm.

"For a smart guy, he's so dense!" Akira said. "Water conducts electricity, you know! It's like playing the video game Pokemon Red... any nose-picking little kid will tell you that a water-type like Squirtle is weak to an electric-type like Zapdos!"

Josuke has gotten more pissed. Crazy Diamond pummeled at Red Hot Chili Pepper but the Stand disappeared in a nick of time, so Crazy Diamond ended up breaking a hole into the asphalt. However, it just provided a bigger space for Red Hot Chili Pepper to come out and attack.

"Josuke, to the right!" Koichi shouted. "No, in front of you! ... Behind you! N-no, wait, um…!"

Koichi lost track once again as he could not keep up with the enemy’s lightning fast speed all over the place.

"Don't think that you can just rely on your instincts and get in a lucky hit!" Red Hot Chili Pepper taunted Josuke, appearing behind him and then punching him in the jaw. "You can't even hit me with one good arm!"

Akira checked the time on his watch and saw it has been over a minute already. He should probably finish off both Josuke and Koichi now or else he won't have enough time to reach Joseph Joestar's boat.

Josuke is covered in bruises but he's still hasn't given up.

"Hey, Koichi," he panted. "Check where his Stand is coming from and tell me."

Koichi shook his head. "I… I can’t! Whenever the Stand pops out, it already moved to somewhere else!"

"Look carefully, Koichi, we're about to win this... by now, you should know what I’m planning."

Koichi noticed the area around Josuke is covered in a black-colored layer of coal tar. He finally understood Josuke's plan: when Crazy Diamond punched the asphalt earlier, it fixed the asphalt to its original component. Tar is thick and sticky, and they cover up the storm drains. Koichi saw a bubble surfacing from the tar. He yelled out the correct position to Josuke.

Crazy Diamond managed to hit Red Hot Chili Pepper in the face, also hurting Akira who was caught off guard.

"Bingo!" Koichi cheered.

"Bingo? That's great!" Josuke just smiled, feeling good that he finally got to hit the smug son-of-a-bitch. "Guess I'm the superstar now, 'cuz I'm gonna rock this loser's world."

*&*&*

Back on the Traffic, Hitomi is out on the deck and she is holding up a pair of binoculars so she can look ahead. She noticed a speedboat zooming towards them and there are two people are on it. The first one is a rough-looking but anxious teen delinquent and the other is an older man dressed in a white hat and trench coat. Her heart skipped a beat.

"Is that… That's Jotaro!" she said. She wanted to duck down and hide, but she is was too struck by his appearance. "I can't believe I'm gonna see him again… after such a long time."

She realized her legs are trembling and her heart is pounding faster. Even though she has been separated from him for years, she is still in love with him. She began to get nervous and wondered what his reaction would be as soon as they meet.

"I wonder..." she murmured to herself. "Does he still hate me after what happened? I can't blame him, I was the one sent him that note... I was too reckless--Huh?"

Something else has caught her attention. Hitomi looked away from Jotaro and, through the binoculars, she saw a bright light coming from the Morioh Port.

"W-what is that...?" she said, astonished.

*&*&*

Back on the harbor, time is running out for Akira and he must defeat Josuke and Koichi before he can catch up to Jotaro.

"It seems I wasn't taking you seriously, Josuke Higashikata," Akira said in a serious tone. "I was too focused on my presentation when I should have gotten in for the kill When I make shitty mistakes like this, I have to own up to them! Say good-bye to the juvenile me, because I'm reborn as a killing machine!"

Having no other choice, Akira released his Stand's full power, to the point where it emits waves of powerful energy that are bright enough to blind Josuke and Koichi.

"I'm concentrating all of Morioh's energy on my Red Hot Chili Pepper!!" Akira announced.

"This is my last resort! The reason I didn't do so before is that the electricity of this whole area, which is my power source, would be drained to zero!" Red Hot Chili Pepper said, desperate and furious. "But I don't fucking care anymore!! After I defeat you two, I just need to fly over to the ship using the RC plane's battery and kill Joseph!!"

Red Hot Chili Pepper shone brighter, hurting Josuke and Koichi's eyes. After absorbing all the electricity from the town, Red Hot Chili Pepper disappeared in a flash. It reappeared right before Josuke and threw in punch.

Crazy Diamond retaliated. The two Stands exchanged blows, but it was clear the enemy is now much faster and stronger. Red Hot Chili Pepper punched Crazy Diamond, and Josuke with it, across the harbor.

Koichi is shocked to see Josuke overpowered.

Red Hot Chili Pepper punched Crazy Diamond's body, and Josuke's body crashed into a forklift.

Red Hot Chili Pepper cackled. "You see that? The entire town's energy is my power!"

"And to drive the point home, I'll send the electric bill of the month to your address," Akira grinned.

When the dust cleared, Akira's smile dropped. The forklift that Josuke crashed into was obviously destroyed, but Josuke seemed unhurt. Josuke seemed to be lying on a cushion of gel-like water which protected him.

"What the hell is that?!" Akira shouted.

Even Josuke is surprised. "This is..."

"... Purple Rain," a voice spoke up.

Akira turned around to see Fubuki, his hair and clothes dripping wet, has managed to climb back to the dock. He has about five water rings, about the size of hula hoops, floating around his body.

"When I pushed Josuke out of the way earlier, I secretly placed some of the water inside his clothes and hardened it..." Fubuki explained, adjusting his glasses. "They expanded into a cushion, almost like a water bed."

"Fubuki! You're alive!" Koichi cried happily.

"Not for much longer!" Akira yelled. He sent Red Hot Chili Pepper after Fubuki. "You're completely wet all over... which means, you'll get electrocuted again, but it'll be ten times worse!"

"Fubuki, run!" Josuke screamed, still lying on top of the ruined forklift.

Purple Rain molded all the water rings to create another, but bigger, barrier.

"That won't protect you twice!" Red Hot Chili Pepper said. "It's lights out, Fubuki!"

Red Hot Chili Pepper punched the barrier, but it only stretched instead of breaking. The water barrier then enclosed around the enemy Stand, forming like a huge bubble made with a thick layer of water.

Red Hot Chili Pepper thought Fubuki was being foolish; however, it is unable to punch through the water bubble. The Stand released a wave of electricity to zap both Fubuki and Purple Rain, who are standing close by.

Nothing happened.

"W... what's going?! Water is conductive to electricity!" Akira shouted.

"You're correct... but not entirely," Fubuki told him. "I guess you weren't paying close attention to my feet."

Akira looked down at Fubuki's feet and saw several empty water bottles lying around.

"Those are...!" Akira said. "But what does that even mean?!"

"What it means, is that water conducts electricity because of the salt in it. Saltwater is a good conductor, of course... but the water I used isn't from the sea. These bottles are filled with tap water, which has been purified by Purple Rain. Distilled water is pure H2O, therefore are no minerals or other crap in it..."

"But you were electrocuted before when you used water against me!" Akira pointed it out. "And it was from a bottle!"

"Oh, that? Still pure water, so I wasn't hurt," Fubuki replied. "I only pretended to be knocked out. Sorry."

At this last word, Purple Rain sent multiple rapid-fire kicks into Red Hot Chili Pepper trapped inside the water bubble. The bubble was kicked into the air and landed on the side... where Josuke and Crazy Diamond are waiting for it.

"Fubuki, you're a genius, but you gotta stop one-upping me," Josuke smiled.

"You're the bigger genius," Fubuki smiled back. "Who would have guessed you turned the asphalt into coal tar?"

Crazy Diamond punched the water bubble and sent it flying over to the ocean. The bubble burst and Red Hot Chili Pepper fell into the water. It began to shrieking and panicking in terror.

"Nooo, not the ocean!!" it said. "Anything but the ocean!!"

"Oh, that's right!" Koichi said. "Not only saltwater conducts electricity, but in a vast ocean like this, the electricity that powers him will scatter in every direction!"

"I'm sorry I tried to kill you!" Red Hot Chili Pepper wailed. "Please, just get me out of here!"

Josuke and his friends moved to the edge of the harbor to watch the Stand's body fall apart.

"Didn't you say before that you were owning up to your shitty mistakes?" he asked. "Sorry, it seems that your entire self is shitty."

Red Hot Chili Pepper melted and scattered, and until it was gone. As for Akira, his body is slumped over and he's still holding his guitar. He's still standing up on his feet, but he didn't move or make a sound. Even Koichi is disturbed by this.

"Is... is he dead...?" Koichi gulped.

"Looks like it," Fubuki said stiffly. He went over to Josuke and touched his shoulder.

Josuke winced in pain. "Ow! Careful, man, that hurts! He really laid a number on me, and now my cast's all ruined... Aw man, now my arm's more broken than ever."

"Hang on."

Purple Rain removed the water from Fubuki's clothes and hair, instantly drying him. It molded and hardened the water to create a substitute cast around Josuke's right arm, keeping it in place.

"Fubuki, I could kiss you right now," Josuke exclaimed.

"Oh, haha. HAAA-ha," Fubuki laughed sarcastically, but he looked flustered. "I could kick you into the ocean and drown you."

"Aw, come on," Josuke teased him. "I think I could feel some sparks flying between us."

For that terrible pun, Fubuki kicked Josuke off the dock.

"Oh, my gosh, you two!" Koichi cried, so done with them.

*&*&*

The speedboat reached the Traffic and Jotaro and Okuyasu climbed aboard. Okuyasu went ahead to the cabin where Joseph is staying while Jotaro exchanged a few words with the captain.

He then looked back to the port and saw the bright light from earlier has died down. It was now noon and it is fifty meters until Traffic reaches the port.

Jotaro saw Echoes ACT1 soaring through the sky and reached the ship.

"Great news, Jotaro!" Koichi spoke through Echoes. "It wasn't easy, but we've taken care of Red Hot Chili Pepper's user!"

"Nice job," Jotaro replied. "We can breathe easier now."

Echoes then went back to its own user. Jotaro noticed a presence. He turned around and saw a young woman standing before him, their eyes locked onto each other. Jotaro's breath escaped him and for one moment, his resentment towards her have disappeared.

"Hey..." Jotaro greeted her.

"You too..." Hitomi nodded.

"Thank you for accompanying my grandfather." Jotaro paused. He couldn't find his next words. "... You've gotten a bit taller."

She blushed and gave him an awkward smile.

"... You're wearing the same hat."

"No, this is different..." Jotaro tips his hat to cover his eyes.

Up closer, Hitomi could tell Jotaro became so mature and his features seemed to soften with age. He's still appeared tall and strong, and Hitomi wanted to embrace him so bad.

"I'm pleased to see you again..." Jotaro spoke again. He finally mustered up the courage to say her name for the first time in years. "... Hitomi Isaji-Zeppeli."

"It's Bongiovi now," Hitomi corrected him. She pronounced the surname as 'bon-jovi". She clasped her hands in a nervous manner and put on a sad smile. "I'm... kinda married."

Jotaro stared at her. Her words pierced his chest like knives.

"I see... congratulations," he said coldly.

*&*&*

In the cabin, Okuyasu met Joseph Joestar, the senile old man who happened to be Josuke's father. He got quickly annoyed with him since Joseph could barely hear him and he is rather absent-minded.

Joseph brought up a question.

"There's one thing I wanted to ask," he said. "Has Josuke ever mentioned me to you? I didn't even know he was alive and I left him like that for sixteen years... What has Josuke been saying about me?"

Okuyasu hesitated.

"I hate to say it, but..." he replied. "He doesn't really talk about stuff like that that."

Joseph is saddened by this. "Is that so... I guess it's to be expected."

At that moment, a SPW employee entered the cabin.

"Mister Joestar," he said. "I've come to pick up your luggage, sir."

*&*&*

At the harbor, Josuke and his friends are waiting as the ship is about to dock.

"They're finally here!" Koichi exclaimed. "Are you seeing this, Josuke?"

"Yeah... cool," Josuke replied unhappily. "I guess..."

Koichi and Fubuki turned to him.

"If I'm being honest... I kinda wished he go home and leave us in peace," Josuke said. He doesn't look thrilled to meet his father.

"But, Josuke..." Koichi began.

"It's the truth. But don't get me wrong, I'm glad Akira Otoishi didn't kill him... It's just that I've never laid eyes on the guy before, how am I supposed to think of him as my dad? He's barely a stranger. Just watch... it's gonna be awkward for us both. It's not like I hate him or anything, but I have to think about my mom's well-being too..."

Fubuki is silent. He understood how Josuke felt, but at the same time, he felt having a stranger for a parent seems better than a present parent, like his mother, who emotionally abused her son for years. He did not say this out loud though.

"Josuke..." he began when Koichi made a terrifying sound.

"No... it can't be!" Koichi cried, pointing a finger somewhere. "His body is gone!"

Josuke and Fubuki looked up. Akira's corpse has disappeared from the spot he supposedly died, and the only thing left was his guitar.

Echoes ACT1 immediately flew back to Jotaro, who was still on the deck with Hitomi.

"Jotaro, we got trouble!" Koichi screamed. "Akira Otoishi's body is missing! He's still alive!"

"What? Akira who... what's going on?!" a confused Hitomi demanded.

"Be careful!" Jotaro said. "An enemy somewhere in this ship!"

"An enemy?" Hitomi realized. She remembered she left her young son and Joseph alone together. She turned around and started running to somewhere. "They can't...!"

"Hitomi!"

*&*&*

Another SPW employee barged into the cabin.

"Red alert! An enemy is aboard the ship!" he announced. "I've come to protect Mr. Joestar!"

"Are you kidding me?!" Okuyasu shouted. Joseph doesn't seem to understand what's going on and he continued staring out the window.

The SPW employee noticed the other employee was trying to lift the luggage. The 'employee' has long purple hair and a tattoo on his face. He doesn't seem to be a member of the crew despite the SPW uniform he's wearing.

On the verge of being discovered, Akira acted quickly and pointed an accusing finger at the employee.

"This guy isn't a Speedwagon Foundation member!" Akira yelled. "He's the enemy!"

"What?!" both Okuyasu and the employee are shocked.

"This man is clearly wearing a disguise! This is the first time I've seen him! He wasn't on this ship before!"

"So, you're the bastard!" Okuyasu growled and raised a fist at the employee.

"Wait, I'm on your side here!" the employee raised his hands. "I'm the one who told you about the enemy in the first place, remember?! Would the real enemy do something like that?! He's the imposter!"

"That makes sense!" Okuyasu said, turning to Akira.

"But I was the one who pointed out he was the enemy!" Akira lied. "He only came in here to throw off your guard! Don't fall for it!"

Okuyasu became more confused and stressed, he can't believe he has to make another important decision again. All his life, he has been relying on his Keicho to make decisions, because he's so bad making the correct choice.

Akira is pleased with himself. He knew Okuyasu is easy to fool. Neither Okuyasu nor Jotaro has seen his face yet, so he can still get his revenge and escape.

He looked up to see a disfigured Stand emerging from a light bulb and slowly approaching an oblivious Joseph.

"It's Red Hot Chili Pepper!" Okuyasu cried.

"Huh?" Joseph raised a hand to his ear. "A smelly sweater? No, thank you!"

Okuyasu made his hand into a fist.

"I've figured it out!" Okuyasu said. He has made his choice and looked at the two SPW employees. "The Stand user... is you!!"

Outside, Hitomi and Jotaro reached Joseph's cabin when they heard a loud crash. They ran inside and found Akira lying on the floor, utterly defeated. Okuyasu is standing over him and he is feeling so proud of himself. Joseph is safe and unharmed, but he's flabbergasted by the mess.

"Okuyasu, I'm so glad I brought you with me..." Jotaro said.

Hitomi scanned around the cabin. Joseph is fine, but someone is missing. She went over to Akira and stomped on his face.

"OW! Hey, lady, what's your deal?!" Akira screamed. "You guys won!"

"Where's my baby?!" Hitomi yelled at him. She looked so scary when she's angry. "He's supposed to be here! Did you hurt him?!"

"W-what... but these guys were here the entire time!"

Jotaro heard a sound behind him. He turned his head to see a small boy wearing a white bucket hat eyeing him from a corner. Hitomi's son has been wandering around when he heard his mother shouting. He continued to stare at Jotaro before running back inside the cabin.

"Momma!" he called out. "You were looking for me?"

"Joel!" Hitomi burst into tears and hugged him. "I told you to stay here! I'm so glad to see you're not hurt!"

"So, uh..." Okuyasu stood next to a stone-faced Jotaro. "Who's the kid? Is he related to you or what?"

"Of course not," Jotaro said. "I've never seen him before."

The young boy heard him and he lowered his head. His worst fear came true and he hugged his mother back.

*&*&*

The ship docked and the moment is tense. Josuke is staring at the ground while Fubuki and Koichi wait for everyone to come out.

The first to appear is Hitomi and her son, followed by Okuyasu. Joel looked around the harbor, awed by the new sight.

"Wow, is this all of Morioh?" he said, trying to make a silly joke.

"No, it isn't," Hitomi smiled sweetly at him. She three high school boys and she bowed before them. "Oh, hello! You must be Okuyasu's friends. Jotaro must have already told you about me, but I'm Joseph Joestar's bodyguard."

She gasped when she recognized one boy in the group. Fubuki tried to avoid her gaze it was too late.

"Fubuki! It's really you!" Hitomi said happily. "You've grown so tall and handsome! It's been five years since I last saw you!"

"... Hi, cousin," Fubuki said, getting more embarrassed.

Josuke's eyes popped open. "Cousin?!" 

"Wait a minute!" Koichi said, also shocked. "Mr. Joestar is not only Josuke's father, but his female bodyguard is related to Fubuki... and Fubuki is also Josuke's friend?!"

"Huh, small world," Josuke muttered.

"And you must be Josuke Higashikata," Hitomi said, placing her hands on her hips. "From what I've heard, your Stand can heal injuries except your own. I'll fix you right up if you don't mind."

A pink, slender humanoid Stand appeared. It's about as tall as Hitomi and it has dark bob haircut. Its body resembled a female mannequin. Its arms and torso are covered in pink and white ribbons that look like bandages.

"My Stand represents the Ace of Cups minor arcanum. I call it... Ace of Cups," Hitomi giggled nervously. "I wasn't the one who named it."

Ace of Cups wrapped a long pink ribbon around Josuke's broken right arm and the rest of Josuke's body. Josuke could feel it tighten around him and the ribbon smelled like peppermint.

In seconds, he could feel his body getting lighter and his injuries started to heal faster. He could also feel the broken bones in his arm getting fixed as well. Once he's completely healed, the pink ribbon disappeared into dust.

"Whoa!" Josuke shouted and he flexed his right arm. "I'm good as new!"

"Good, that's what I wanted to hear!" Hitomi smiled and patted on his shoulder. "And here's a reward for your excellent job on defeating the Stand user."

She leaned up and planted a quick kiss on Josuke's cheek. Josuke turned pink in the face. Okuyasu saw this and became hopeful.

"Can I have one as well?" he asked. He was close to tears. "I was the one who stopped Otoishi from getting to Mr. Joestar!"

Hitomi laughed and she kissed Okuyasu's cheek too. Okuyasu was over the moon and he put on the biggest and goofiest smile.

"Ahaaaa! I got kissed by a beautiful lady!" he bawled out his eyes. "This is the happiest moment of my life! I wouldn't mind dying right now!"

"Oh, knock it off," Fubuki grumbled.

Josuke chuckled. He stopped smiling when he saw someone coming out from the boat, accompanied by Jotaro. Joseph saw his teenage son, but Josuke averted his eyes away. The moment was tense and nobody said anything.

On his way down, Joseph accidentally tripped. Josuke was able to catch him and Joseph dropped his walking cane, which is broken for some reason.

"... You should be careful," Josuke told him. He is blushing. "One misstep and you'll be going for an unwanted swim."

Koichi is beaming.

"Right, sorry..." Joseph apologized. He fixed himself straight up. "If I had my cane, I could manage by myself... but it broke a few moments ago. It was the strangest thing."

Josuke doesn't have much of a choice. Without looking at his father, he held out a hand.

"Here... you can hold onto me," he mumbled.

Joseph is surprised by this. Josuke cannot wait any longer and took Joseph's gloved hand and they began walking off together. Fubuki watched them go and he imagined a younger Josuke, as a little boy, holding hands with his much younger father. He wondered if Josuke is secretly happy about this. Jotaro is satisfied that the meeting went well and Hitomi wiped tears from her eyes while she's holding her son's hand.

"I just got a great idea!" Okuyasu said. He picked up the broken cane. "Josuke should use Crazy Diamond to fix the cane!"

"Do you even hear yourself, Okuyasu?!" Koichi said. "Sometimes, you're so stupid!"

"Huh?"

"This time... he's not going to fix it."

Koichi is smiling, but Okuyasu still doesn't get it. 

"We heard that you didn't kill Akira Otoishi," Fubuki said, smiling at him. "We're happy for you... You've really surpassed your brother."

This made Okuyasu blush sheepishly.

"So, how were you able to stop him?" 

"Oh, that sneaky dick tried to disguise himself as Speedwagon Foundation member and accused another member as a fake," Okuyasu explained. "But I showed him! You don't fool Okuyasu Nijimura twice!"

"How did you find out which one was Akira?"

"I was planning on punching both of them," Okuyasu answered. "I'm not that smart, you know?"

Fubuki is at lost for words and his glasses nearly slipped off.

"You are..." he mumbled. However, he decided not to scold Okuyasu this time and he patted him on the back. "... That's actually a bright idea."

"Really?" Okuyasu asked.

"Fubuki, don't encourage him!" Koichi said.

Jotaro watched Josuke's friends goofing around before looking to the horizon.

Now, we can retrieve the Bow and Arrow and it'll be over, he thought. This town will be safe again...

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 21: Three Stand Users and a Baby

In the earliest hours of the morning, a young mother, almost 25-years-old, stepped out of her home for the last time. In one hand, she is carrying a heavy suitcase. In the other hand is a sleeping baby, completely wrapped in a blanket.

There is nothing remarkable about the young mother's appearance. Right now, she cares more about leaving this town and starting a new life in the city. She placed her baby daughter in the backseat of the car, trying not to wake her up. Sitting in the driver's seat, she was about to start the engine when she received a text message on her cell phone. It was from her immature boyfriend. He has been sending her messages for two days straight, begging her to let him see their baby.

He's not a bad person, but he's the kind of man who is content to be an idiotic loser. She dated him because he has a lot of money to spend and give her gifts her heart desires. Then she got pregnant and gave birth... he continued to be her faithful boyfriend, but she still won't marry him no matter how many times he asked. She late grew dissatisfied with him and decided to cut ties from him forever. She can find a younger and wealthier lover somewhere.

The woman tossed her cellphone into the gutter. Her car zoomed off before any of her neighbors wake up.

She made it as far to the vast, empty fields when she parked her car by the side of the road. With no one else around, she quickly carried her baby out of the car and hastily walked a good distance away from the car.

She felt a little guilty doing this, but she told herself that nobody will be able to find the child. Two weeks ago, her baby started developing a strange power that freaked her and she found herself unable to care for her daughter.

The woman removed the blanket to reveal... nothing. But she can still feel and hear the baby even though she cannot see her. The baby is still sound asleep, unaware of her mother's callousness. The woman carefully placed the baby down on the grass, hoping the cold air or some wild rats kill her invisible daughter. The baby made a gurgling sound before yawning.

Now that the load has been removed, the woman hurried back to her car and started it up. She has to leave before she gets second thoughts.

She stepped on the pedal. She let out a breath as dawn began to break over the horizon... she is finally free...

She didn't go more than fifty feet when she nearly crashed into another car. Both cars avoid colliding each other and they skidded to a stop. The woman, cursing her luck, left her car to check on the other driver, who just rolled down his window.

"I'm sorry, sir!" she apologized as she moved closer to the window to see his face. "Are you hurt?"

"Not at all," replied a smooth voice.

"Thank god! I'm really sorry, I didn't see you! I was distracted..."

She stopped when the man took her hand. The air became tense.

"It's not a problem at all," the driver said. "Your hand is so beautiful, I can't help but notice it... What's your name?"

"Shizune."

For some reason, the woman felt both terrified and awestruck by this driver. In some way, he reminded her of her loser of a boyfriend.

"Shizune... it means 'a quiet sound', doesn't it? How very fitting."

"W-what's fitting?"

"You will never be able to speak a word about what happens here."

Seconds later, the driver sped away but the woman has disappeared. She did not even go back to her car.

"I suppose the car will be towed away," the driver muttered to himself. He has a smile on his lips. "I don't know what you were doing so very early at this hour, but it's not my business to pry. Why don't we go eat breakfast together at my place?"

Lying on the passenger's seat... is a bleeding severed hand, which the driver was actually speaking to the entire time. It was the hand of the woman formerly known as Shizune.

*&*&*

It has been almost two months since Fubuki Kurosawa moved back to Morioh. So many bizarre things have happened, but things have gotten rather peaceful.

As for Akira Otoishi... at the aftermath of his fight with Josuke, Akira was arrested and has been found guilty of using his Stand to steal millions of yen worth of goods. He was then sentenced to three years of prison and Jotaro warned him that if he ever tried to anything with his Stand again, he would chase Akira to the deepest corner of hell and end him.

Akira's response to that was, "It's safer to be in prison than out there!"

Fubuki was glad that Red Hot Chili Pepper's terrorizing days are over. There was a huge, short-lived commotion talk about the mysterious power outage in Morioh, but everyone went on with their normal, trouble-free lives.

On the day after Akira's defeat, Hitomi Bongiovi and her son, Joel, came to visit Hitomi's relatives at Spider Threads. Hitomi and Joel have their own room in the Morioh Grand Hotel, and it's next door to Joseph's room.

All the Zeppeli relatives have gathered in the living room and Grandma Julia was pleased to see her grandniece again. She instantly doted on Joel.

"He is so precious, what lovely eyes!" she cooed. She has her wrinkly hands squeezing his cheeks. Joel said nothing due to a combination of politeness and shyness. "How old are you, Joel?"

"I'm seven... but I'm going to be eight tomorrow," he answered.

"That's May 31st!" Uncle Norisuke stated. "Is it really your birthday tomorrow?"

"Yes."

"I'm thinking of taking him out to a nice restaurant tomorrow," Hitomi said. "Fubuki told me that Morioh has an authentic Italian restaurant here."

"Why don't you have the boy's birthday here, Hitomi?" Julia suggested. "You don't have to spend too much, we can cook plenty of food here. And we can bake a cake in time!"

"No, you don't have to, Nonna," Hitomi said, getting sheepish. "It's too much trouble on such short notice."

"Nonsense, we're just giving the grandson of my favorite nephew the birthday he deserves. Plus, it would be nice to celebrate his day with more family members, don't you agree?"

Hitomi smiled sadly and nodded. Julia came up to her and held her hands.

"Your son is a lovely boy. Your father would be so proud of you," she told Hitomi.

"Momma, if we're not going out for dinner tomorrow," Joel spoke up, "do I still get my birthday present?"

"Of course!" Hitomi giggled. "What would you like?"

Joel grinned, "I want a guinea pig!"

"Oooh, that's a lot of hard work and responsibility to take care of a pet. Pick an easier present."

Joel tried to think of another option.

"A PlayStation!"

"... So what color of a guinea pig do you want?"

Joel then went to show Julia his Game Boy. Uncle Norisuke went to pick up the phone which has been ringing for quite a while. Hitomi walked over to Fubuki, who is leaning against the wall near the stairs to his bedroom.

"Hey, Fubuki," she smiled at him. Fubuki nodded, trying to avoid her eyes. Hitomi giggled and tussled the top of his hair. "You've grown way taller than me. Five years ago, you were shorter."

"Yeah, that's what puberty does to you," Fubuki replied sarcastically.

"And you've grown out your hair, it's so cute!"

"C-cute?!" Fubuki is scandalized. "This is a cool style."

"I know, I just love teasing you," Hitomi said. She gave him a cheeky wink. "I did change your diaper a couple of times."

Fubuki huffed and crossed his arms.

"Still, I can't believe you're a Stand user--just like me! Is it true that yours got awakened by the same Bow and Arrow that was in Akira Otoishi's possession?"

"It is. I got shot right here" Fubuki replied, pointing at his neck.

"Ouch! I had mine when I extremely sick in a hospital. Speaking of which... How's your scar? Has it completely healed?"

Fubuki is a bit taken aback by this strange question.

"Scar...?"

"You know, that big cut in your head. When they brought you into the hospital, it looked nasty and you were losing a lot of blood... I was lucky I was visiting S-City that time--"

"Hang on," Fubuki interrupted her. "What are you talking about?"

Hitomi realized and covered her mouth with her hand. "Oh no, you forgot about it... that makes sense why you look confused."

"Forgot about what? Are you going to explain to me or not?"

"I..." Hitomi looked over to Julia, who still talking with Joel. Norisuke is still on the phone. "Let's go somewhere more private."

The two of them went downstairs. The shop is closed today, so no one will be around to come in and listen to them.

"Fubuki," Hitomi began. "It happened five years ago, and I don't know how much you remember, but... when you were eleven, you threw yourself off the bridge."

Fubuki stared at her and his mouth went wide opened. His heart stopped.

"What...? I threw myself?"

Hitomi sighed and continued. "You were immediately found but you lost consciousness. You nearly died when you arrived at the hospital, but I saved your life by using Ace of Cups to close the wound in your head. I heard that head trauma can cause memory loss, but this is the first time I've seen it..."

Fubuki did not know what to say. He was suddenly hit by vague images of himself falling into a cold river on a gray, rainy day... A powerful pain struck his head and he winced.

"Ugh...!" he groaned.

"Fubuki?! Are you okay?" Hitomi asked, now concerned.

Fubuki touched his forehead. The pain disappeared just as quickly as it came.

"I'm okay..." he said. He could feel sweat running down his face. "I think I remember a little..."

Hitomi felt awful; she should have not brought up a painful subject, especially since the incident is linked to another touchy subject which destroyed Fubuki and drove him to jump off the bridge.

"I'm sorry," she apologized.

"You didn't do anything wrong," Fubuki said. "... But I think I understand why I tried to end my life..."

Fubuki looked away from Hitomi and he thought he saw a ghostly face covered in blood hiding among the rack of clothes in his uncle's shop. The face is staring at Fubuki with intense white eyes. Fubuki's blood turned cold.

"Anyways, why don't we drop the subject and go meet Jotaro and the others?" Hitomi asked. "We promised to meet up with them at 1:00 PM."

Fubuki turned to her and when he looked at the clothes rack again, the ghostly face is gone.

"Y-yeah... we can't be late," he stammered.

"Fubuki, are you okay? You look pale."

"I'm fine," he insisted. "I'm gonna go... wash up first."

Fubuki hurried upstairs to the bathroom. Once he's inside and hugged his body to stop himself from trembling. He did not want to look at his reflection in the mirror out of fear of seeing the ghost.

"It's him... that evil spirit..." he muttered. "I thought I was finally safe... but it followed me here all the way from S-City! Why did it show up again?"

*&*&*

Fubuki finally calmed himself down and he pretended that nothing happened. While Joel remained in Spider Threads to hang out with his relatives, Fubuki and Hitomi met up with the others at Cafe Deux Magots. The group consisted of Jotaro, Josuke, Okuyasu, and Koichi sitting in one table, while Joseph is sitting alone and drinking coffee in the next table. Hitomi and Fubuki went to sit with Joseph.

Jotaro showed everyone a suitcase with the Bow and Arrow inside, indicating the artifact have been safely secured by the Speedwagon Foundation.

"I found it in Akira Otoishi's apartment," he told them.

"So, that's the one..." Hitomi mumbled.

"What are you going to do with it, Mr. Jotaro?" Koichi asked.

"It's going to the Speedwagon Foundation for analysis," Jotaro answered. "We might be able to unlock the mystery of Stands."

"Great!" Josuke exclaimed.

"That's fantastic!" Koichi agreed. "Then it's all over!"

"You're just gonna keep the Bow and Arrow?" Fubuki asked. He looked unsure. "It belonged to my father's museum before they were stolen. I don't really have a problem with it the Speedwagon Foundation studying it, but..."

"I understand, but we can't risk another person like Akira Otoishi stealing them again," Jotaro said. "We're still questioning him about the other Stand users that were created in Morioh, there's no way knowing about how many he awakened... Stay on your guard, just in case."

"Got it," the teenage schoolboys nodded.

Joseph finished his cup. "Japanese coffee is still the best."

When he raised his hand to call for a waitress for a refill, he accidentally knocked his cup off the table. Josuke managed to catch it before it smashed on the ground.

"Careful! Pay attention..." Josuke said. He put the cup back on the table. "I swear, you're such a klutz. I can't turn around for one second..."

"Josuke, it's almost time for the bus, isn't it?" Koichi inquired.

"Huh? Oh... Y-yeah..." Josuke turned to Joseph. "Come on, get up. We gotta go."

"Where is he taking Mr. Joestar?" Hitomi asked as Josuke started walking away with the old man. "I don't want anything bad happening to him."

"Josuke is gonna take him to see his mom," Fubuki explained. "But knowing Josuke, he's probably gonna make Joseph only see Ms. Tomoko from afar. Josuke never lets the fact that he's a love child bother him... but this relationship is still awkward for him."

"Don't worry, Josuke will bring him back to the hotel once they're done," Jotaro said.

Hitomi is now staring at Jotaro, who is also staring back. While Fubuki is reading a book and Okuyasu is eating delicious cake with enthusiasm, the tension between Hitomi and Jotaro is tense.

"So, I'm curious... how long have you two know each other?" Koichi asked. "I mean, you two are allies, right?"

Fubuki and Okuyasu looked up.

"That's correct," Hitomi replied. "I used to travel around the world with Jotaro and Mr. Joestar, along with several of our old friends. We've faced a lot of enemy Stand users and survived one fight after the other."

"Whoa, hang on!" Koichi said. "Josuke's dad can fight? He looks like he can drop dead!"

"Mamma mia, I meant when he was much younger," Hitomi sweatdropped. She opened her purse bag and looked inside. "Hang on, I think I got a picture of the entire group somewhere..."

"If you're saying you and Jotaro used to travel and fight together..." Okuyasu said. "Are you guys dating?"

Jotaro knocked his coffee cup over and it spilled all over the table. Hitomi was about to clean up the table with a handkerchief but Jotaro stopped her.

"That's private matters, Okuyasu," Jotaro said. "Besides, I'm already married."

"Oh, right..." Okuyasu said.

Koichi noticed the gloomy expression on Hitomi's face. He guessed these two are having their own problems like Josuke and Joseph.

"Why don't you guys take a walk around the block and talk to each other?" he suggested. "The three of us can stay here and watch the suitcase. I'm sure you two are dying to catch up."

"That's a great idea!" Hitomi said, looking hopeful. "Come on, Jotaro... Let's go walk together, for old time's sake."

Jotaro is annoyed by this but he gave in. He and Hitomi left the cafe together. As they walk, Hitomi has to stop herself from holding his hand.

"So, what do you want to talk about?" Jotaro said, not looking at her.

Hitomi doesn't know where to begin.

"Well... I guess you want an explanation about why I disappeared when I left for Italy," she said quietly.

"No," Jotaro frowned.

"I really wanted to tell you after my family and I came back to Japan," Hitomi continued. "But when did, I heard that you're already engaged to another girl from America."

"What do you expect me to do? Take you back?" Jotaro asked. "The day you broke up with me, I was at Kakyoin's funeral."

Hitomi flinched a little.

"I wasn't thinking straight that time," she blurted. "But I had limited options, my life was in danger that time... Including my family's. I didn't want you to get involved and hurt."

Jotaro stopped walking and looked at her.

"What are you talking about?" he demanded.

He noticed her eyes are filled with tears and her lips quivering. Even though she's now a grown woman, she's still the tenderhearted crybaby from ten years ago.

"Hey, why are you crying...?"

"Jotaro, you didn't know? My... my father died..." Hitomi replied, trying not to break down in public. "Something really awful happened near the end of our vacation, so my family and I went into hiding. That's why I couldn't come back from Italy for a year... J-Jotaro, I've missed you all these years, I wanted to see you so bad..."

Jotaro thought there are still some details Hitomi hasn't explained yet. However, he believed her words and he felt sorry that her father had died.

"Why don't we talk about this again later?" Jotaro asked. "I'm willing to hear you out. Whether I wanted to forgive you or not for dumping me years ago, at least... I'll get to understand why."

Hitomi smiled and dried her tears.

"There's also, one more thing I wanted to tell you..." she said. Her cheeks are slightly pink now. "It's not bad news, but... say, do you want to come to the Spider Threads tomorrow night? Tomorrow is Joel's birthday, and... it would mean a lot to me if you show up."

Jotaro hesitated. It's bad enough that his ex-girlfriend came back to his life after dumping him for her own reasons without explaining, but he has to see her son, who also happens to be the kid of another man?

He thought about his old friend Noriaki Kakyoin; Kakyoin would want him to get along with Hitomi again. After all, he was the one who helped bring the two together and he was the first person they told when they got engaged.

"... What time should I be there?" he finally spoke.

*&*&*

Meanwhile, Josuke is having difficulties adjusting himself to Joseph's presence. As he tries to escort Joseph back to his house, Joseph unwittingly took a bus to Sapporo and Josuke had to run after it.

They ended up on the side of an isolated road and that is where Joseph picked up something unusual: an invisible baby girl, which he believes had unknowingly become a Stand user. Josuke needed to find the baby's mother but he and Joseph are first distracted by more immediate concerns, such as the fact that the baby girl is naked and just pooped in Joseph's hand.

The two Stand users trekked back to town and they arrived at a store called Family Club, where specialized selling baby equipment.

"I'm counting on you, Mr. Joestar," Josuke said.

"What? You want me to buy everything?" Joseph asked.

"Yeah, I can't go in there! Look at me," Josuke said, looking embarrassed. He is holding the invisible baby in his arms. "Do you have any idea how that would look to people? The last thing I need is the whole neighborhood thinking I knocked up some poor chick."

At that moment, a young female voice spoke up behind him.

"Well, did you?"

Josuke screamed so loud he sounded like a girl. He spun and he nearly dropped the baby. Behind him is a curious Onodera, who is carrying a shopping bag.

"Oh, hello there, young lady," Joseph greeted her.

However, Josuke is freaking out.

Holy shit! Onodera! Why is she here?! he screamed in his thoughts. He was about to cry. Damn iiit, it's all over for meee! No... I can still recover from this!

"Joking aside, what are you doing here, Josuke?" Onodera asked.

"You know her, Josuke?" Joseph asked as he checked Onodera from head to toe.

"Her? N-no way!" Josuke denied. He has to get out of here before Onodera asks awkward questions or assumes the worst. "I don't know this dull-looking whats-her-face, hahaha! Anyways, let's go somewhere else--"

Onodera smacked Josuke on the back of his head.

"Who are you calling a 'dull-looking', you hoodlum?!" she scolded him. "You got a lot of nerve to say that right in front of me when I let you eat the bento I made for you just the other week."

"The garbage from the school's trash cans are actually more edible than whatever you cooked," Josuke muttered.

However, he made another huge mistake by letting Onodera hear him. She started pounding on his back with her fists.

"Aieee! Ouch! Stop that!" Josuke shouted.

"Why you... Ooh, you're awful!" Onodera pouted. "The nerve of you!"

Joseph could step in and save his son, but he looked like he's having so much fun watching this.

The invisible baby in his arms started bawling and Josuke tried to calm her down. Onodera stopped hitting Josuke when she heard the baby and her eyes widen.

"Hey... w-what's that sound just now?" she asked, pointing a finger at the space in Josuke’s hands.

Josuke explained to her that the old foreigner is his father, and the two of them found the baby earlier, but they couldn't locate the mother. Soon enough, the baby's cries died down.

"Wow, I've never seen an invisible baby before," Onodera said, still shocked.

"Well, you can't actually see anything that's invisible," Josuke said. He turned to Joseph. "We can trust her, she's another Stand user like us. Her name's Yasuho Onodera and she goes to my school."

"And YOU can relax, Josuke," Onodera said. "I'm not gonna go around and tell people behind your back. Besides, with a mother like yours, do you think she'd let you live if you did get some girl pregnant while you're still both in high school?"

"Whoo! Thank god, you're on my side…" Josuke pressed a hand to his chest. "Though now you got me scared of my mom now that I think about it."

"Ah, I get it now… you must be my son's girlfriend," Joseph said with an amused smile. "You have good taste, Josuke. Not only she's a cutie, but she's also got nice legs."

"H-hey! She's not my girlfriend!" Josuke became flustered. "Also, keep your comments to yourself, you dirty old man!!"

Onodera is a little embarrassed, but she doesn't mind Joseph's comment.

"I'm going into the store as well," Onodera said, pointing a thumb at Family Club. "How about I help you out with your shopping?"

"Huh?" Josuke blinked.

"I'm almost done with my shopping so I'm gonna stop by here before I go home. I'm gonna buy a couple of things for my baby brother. He's almost 11-months-old and he likes putting things in his mouth."

"You'd do that? That's great!" Josuke said happily. "You can go with her, Mr. Joestar."

"Okay, I see your point," Joseph said. "But I only have American travelers' checks."

Josuke sighed and handed him his credit card.

"Put whatever you buy in my card," Josuke said. As Joseph and Onodera make their way to the store, Josuke quickly adds, "Stay away from all the expensive stuff! I worked my ass off to build up that little nest egg, got it?"

"Yeah, yeah, we got it," Onodera said. She gave him an OK sign. "Keep an eye on the baby chick, Papa Bird."

Josuke became flustered again and he muttered under his breath, "She's so uncute!"

*&*&*

Inside the Family Club, the store owner greeted the two customers.

"Welcome, Miss," he said. He seemed to know Onodera. "You're buying the usual today?"

"Yes," Onodera said. "By the way, I'm with this old American and this is his first time shopping here. Go ahead, Mr. Joestar."

Onodera went to the other end of the store to browse some items. The owner gave Joseph a friendly smile.

"Is there something I can assist you with today?" he asked.

Onodera picked up her usual brand of diapers and baby shampoo. She glanced out the window to see Josuke still standing outside. He looked so nervous carrying an invisible baby; he keeps glancing warily around for any people who might see him.

Josuke looked up and saw Onodera with a coy smile on her face as she waved at him from behind the window. He made a silent gesture to tell her to cut it out. If anyone from school sees them together in this place, there would be gossip for weeks.

Onodera went back to Joseph, who was being overwhelmed with information about the possible diapers, baby bottles, nipples, and baby clothes he can buy.

"I can't believe there are so many variations of baby stuff, including the bottle nipples," Joseph said. "Everything was so simple back then."

"Let me help you pick," Onodera said. She turned the store owner. "We just need things for a six-month-old baby."

"Now, that helps a lot!" the owner said. "It's a good thing you're here. He looked like he was about to buy everything I showed him."

He laughed. Onodera and Joseph, after an awkward pause, join him. Onodera started picking the suitable equipment.

"So, what do you think of Josuke?" he asked her.

"I'll admit, he's good-looking, but he can be such a stupid dork sometimes," Onodera replied, holding up a random baby pajama. "I thought he was a punk because of the way he dressed and how he beats up people when they talk bad about his hair..."

They heard Josuke suddenly shouting outside. "WHO SAID THAT?! WHERE ARE YOU, ASSHOLE? WHAT DID YOU SAY ABOUT MY HAIR?!"

Onodera is flabbergasted.

"... How does he do that? But, do you see what I mean?" she said. Then her expression softened. "But he saved me from some creep at school, and... he's very nice..."

"Do you like him?"

She blushed and looked away. "W-well... he's likable!"

"He's a good kid," Joseph sighed. He looked sad. "But he wants me to go back to America after I see his mother. He doesn't want me around I'm just making things awkward for him."

"What?" Onodera is shocked. "But you're his dad!"

"Yes, but I don't want to force him to be my son... I just wished he can accept me. Just a little."

Onodera felt sorry for him. They heard a loud sniff and they realized the store owner was listening to their conversation and is crying.

"I understand, Sir!" he said. "My son hates me too!"

Soon, Joseph and Onodera piled all the essential baby equipment they need into a baby carriage they also bought, and they only spend about 6,800 yen.

"You gotta be careful what you buy, Mr. Joestar," Onodera told him. "Buying baby stuff has gotten more expensive over the years."

"What? All that for a little baby?" Joseph is astonished.

*&*&*

Later at a park somewhere, Josuke and Joseph are sitting at a picnic. They have clothed the baby and gave her a little toy to play with.

The baby is still invisible but at least she's no longer naked. She even giggled, which makes being invisible rather adorable in some way.

"Goo... gah dah..." the baby cooed.

Onodera decided to stick around a little longer, just to see if Josuke and Joseph can handle this.

"Now we don't have to worry about losing her, even if she moves around," Josuke said as he helped the baby to sit up.

"What are you going to do about her face?" Onodera asked. "People are going to freak out when they see she doesn't have one."

"No worries, I thought about that," Joseph said. He placed a small basket on the picnic table. "When we're at the store, I picked up some makeup too."

He applied some foundation to her face. When he was done, her face is now visible, but her eyes are still invisible. But they all agree she is cute.

"This is a good idea," Josuke said. "This will make finding her mother a lot easier. We might actually pull this off. Nice one, Mr. Joestar!"

Joseph is pleased. "I'm glad I could help out!"

Onodera quietly watched their interactions. She was happy to see Josuke slowly warming up to Joseph, even though she barely understand what's going on. The two bonding over helping a baby really did got them closer.

Joseph went a little way overboard when applied more makeup to the baby's face.

"Now, we can finally take her around town without attracting any attention. And for the final touch..." Joseph said. He added a pair of sunglasses to cover her eyes. He raised the baby up and to show her off. "Ta-daaa! It's Lisa Lisa!"

"Who?" both Josuke and Onodera asked, confused.

"Oh, right... you don't know who she is..." Joseph sighed, feeling a bit bummed that he wasted his joke.

Josuke handed Joseph a fresh bottle of milk.

"Here, give her some milk," he said. "I'm gonna talk with Onodera a bit."

Josuke and Onodera stepped away from the picnic table while Joseph tried to feed the baby.

"Um... thanks for helping us earlier," Josuke said, rubbing his neck. "Also, sorry about calling you 'dull-looking' and saying your bento is bad."

"No problem," Onodera said. "Can I ask you something?"

"Go ahead."

"Are you really planning to send your father back to America?"

Josuke looked reluctant. "That was my original plan... I don't know, I'm kinda still frustrated at him, but I don't want to make him go after seeing him so happy just now. I don't hate the guy, but my mom and I were doing just fine without him..."

"I understand," Onodera said. "But... try to be a little more patient with him. He really wants to be your father and make things up to you. It's not like he's here to take you back with him to America against your will."

"... Yeah, you're right." Josuke found himself gazing into Onodera eyes. He felt being pulled to her by an invisible force. "Um... you're not busy after school tomorrow, are you? W… Wanna hang out with me and my pals?"

"O-oh... I'm sorry! I-I have activities at the Track and Field Club tomorrow," Onodera stammered shyly. "My team and I are training for the Nationals. I have to take my practice seriously because I'm gonna be the next champion."

Josuke is excited for her. "That's cool! You run pretty good--I mean, you got a good talent for that--aw, shit..."

Onodera raised an eyebrow at him stumbling over his words, but she chuckled. Josuke just gave her a sheepish smile which she found endearing.

"Let's exchange phone numbers," she said, taking out her cell phone from her pocket. "I can give you a call if I have time to hang out."

"Uh, I don't have a cell phone..." Josuke said.

Joseph got up while holding the baby.

"I think I went too light with the foundation, it doesn't seem to be sticking to her," he said.

Josuke and Onodera turned around. To their shock, the baby is actually fading out before disappearing entirely--rendering herself invisible as well as her clothes, makeup, and Joseph's hands which were holding her at the time.

"The baby--!!" Onodera screamed.

"She's gone!" Joseph cried. "And my hands too!"

The invisible baby began to bawl.

"Waaah! WAAAAH!!"

"Mr. Joestar, drop the baby!" Josuke shouted. "I'm telling you to let go of the damn baby before she turns the rest of you invisible!"

Joseph hurriedly placed the baby in the carriage. His hands, however, remain invisible. The carriage disappeared too, except for its wheels and handle. Josuke wanted to test something. He tossed a pacifier into the carriage. As soon it entered the baby's range, the pacifier disappeared as well.

The baby continued wailing her head off like a terrified puppy while the Stand users stand back, frozen in shock and confusion.

"This is bad!" Josuke said. "Her power's gotten stronger! Looks like this baby can turn anything within a 30 cm range invisible!"

"But… they can become visible again, right?" Onodera asked. "It can't be permanent!"

"We don't know! None of this is making any sense! She can't be trying to protect herself with her Stand, no one can take care of her if she did. Something else is going on here!"

"It seems the effect is triggered by stress," Joseph reasoned. "She doesn't want to be handled by a stranger."

"Then what can we do?! If she powers up any more, then no one would come near her," Josuke said. "We'll end up invisible too!"

"The mother… we have to find her mother!" Onodera said. "Maybe she'll calm down!"

"Easier said than done!" Josuke said. "We found her by the side of the road, remember?"

While Josuke and Onodera are discussing other options a bicyclist came by and flicked a cigarette butt into what looked like a 'pile of junk' on the grass. Joseph freaked out and jumped into its path to protect the baby. Though he managed to catch the now invisible cigarette, he ended up accidentally knocking the carriage.

The carriage, containing the still crying baby, began rolling downhill.

"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, MR. JOESTAR?!" Josuke yelled, angered by Joseph's mistake.

"Huh?" Joseph stared.

"Don't just stand there, goddammit! The baby's rolling away! Either get with the program or get out of the way!"

Josuke and Onodera quickly chase after the carriage, as it started to gain more speed, while Joseph is left behind. The baby is screaming and crying. wOnodera ran faster than Josuke thanks to her practice and skill on the track team. She managed to catch up to the carriage in and was about the grab the handle…

The carriage completely disappeared--along with the right side of Onodera's upper body. To Josuke, she looked like she only has a left face, a left arm and shoulder, and the left side of her chest. Onodera is taken by surprise that she tripped over. She scraped her right invisible knee and it began to bleed. The blood on the knee is visible.

Josuke watched as the baby carriage rolled away. Everything in its path vanished; even the surface of the ground under Josuke's feet is gone and he appeared to be floating in mid-air.

"He was right, this is stress!" Josuke said. "The more she freaks out, the stronger her invisibility power gets! Onodera, are you okay?"

"Don't worry about me!" she said, getting up despite her bleeding knee. "Just go get the baby--"

They heard a loud crash; it sounded like the carriage has just flipped over. The baby's cries continued and it ended with a loud, terrifying splash.

Josuke's heart stopped and a chill ran down his spine.

The baby has fallen into a river. Everyone rushed to find where the baby fell but they cannot see any air bubbles.

"She's underwater, she's going to drown!" Onodera, still missing half of her face and body, screamed. "We can't see her like this! Tiny Dancer, go find her!"

Her fingernail-sized Stand flew up into the air before diving down into the river. Josuke is on the verge of panicking.

"Where is she?!" he cried. "Come on, make some noise! Just splash around or something!"

Joseph and his invisible hands nervously approached the river.

"J-Josuke…" he began.

"SHUT UP!!" Josuke shouted. He is fed up with his father and his resentment resurfaced. "Every single horrible thing that's happened to me today is because of you, you goddamn old man!"

"Josuke!" Onodera scolded him. "How could you say that to your own father? It's not his fault!"

"Back off, Onodera! This isn't your damn business! This irresponsible jackass was so careless, he abandoned my mother for sixteen years! I'll never respect a thoughtless bastard like him!"

Onodera slapped him in the face. She is so shaken by his rudeness that she looked away from him.

"When we go back to school tomorrow... d-don't ever speak to me again... The only thoughtless bastard I see here is you..."

Josuke glared at her, but he doesn't have time for this. Then he turned to Joseph.

"Just say out of this," he said.

Then he dived into the water.

She's got to be around here somewhere! he thinks. I don't care if you turn me invisible too! Just touch me!

The water is crystal clear but he is unable to find the baby. Josuke resurfaced.

"Son of a--!" he growled in frustration. "How am I going to find an invisible baby?!"

"I'm truly sorry, Josuke..." said Joseph behind him. He has managed to get into the river while Onodera isn't looking. "I might die in a moment, so when that happens, please give my regards to your mother. Because... well, I'm not young anymore, so..."

Josuke turned around to see Joseph using a switchblade knife to slice open his invisible wrist. He let his blood spill out.

"What the hell are you doing?!" Josuke yelled.

Onodera heard him and when she saw what Joseph has done, she nearly screamed. Joseph lowered his body into the water.

"I'm giving the water a little bit of... color," he answered.

Joseph's blood flowed further into the river. Josuke was able to see a circle in the center that is slowly turning invisible.

"That's where the baby is... take care of her, Josuke," Joseph said.

Josuke is taken aback by Joseph's sense of sacrifice. With the baby safe in Crazy Diamond's hands, Joseph's hands began turned back to visible again, and so did Onodera's body.

"No regular person... would even attempt what you have just done," he said. "You went that far for a stranger's kid..."

Josuke warmly smiled at Joseph.

"I just wanted to look good... in front of you," Joseph said happily.

*&*&*

The invisible baby is now sleeping peacefully in her carriage. While Josuke and Joseph's clothes are drying after being soaked in the river, Crazy Diamond healed Joseph's wounded wrist and Onodera's scraped knee.

Onodera then proceeds to punch Josuke square in the face. Joseph's eyes widened.

"Why in the hell do you do that?!" Josuke demanded, holding a bloody nose.

"You can be such a dummy, Josuke Higashikata!" Onodera yelled at him. "You just met your father for the first time and you nearly got him killed! He may be old, clumsy and senile, but that's no way to mistreat him! And you yelled at me too!"

"Wow, I didn't mean it... Sorry," Josuke apologized, grinning nervously. "It just happened, hehe... Are we still cool?"

Onodera kicked him in the leg.

"Aaaaugh!" he cried.

"Now we're cool," Onodera huffed, placing her hands on her hips. "You got to learn to respect a lady AND your elder."

"Heh, I really like this girl," Joseph teased, stroking his beard.

"Alright, I deserved it!" Josuke pouted. Onodera then gave him her handkerchief with strawberry designs.

"Use it to clean your nose," she said, now speaking in a soft voice. "Honestly... I'm glad you're now warming up to him. Now I can see you're a good person who's willing to forgive people despite their mistakes..."

Josuke blushed as he cleaned the blood from his nose. Onodera decided to head home now, but before she does so, she gave Josuke a piece of paper.

"This is my home's phone number," she said. "You know... when you want to call me if you have problems with school work... or you just want to talk."

Onodera fidgeted her fingers and turned around, going up the hill. Josuke watched her go for a moment before turning to Joseph.

"I'll be back for a bit!" he said. "Keep an eye on the baby!"

"Ahh..." Joseph sighed happily. "Young love."

Josuke chased after Onodera who just picked up her shopping bag. He grabbed her free hand and she looked back to see it is him.

"What is it?" she asked.

"Uh..." Josuke paused. His heart is racing and his knees are going weak. "I really am sorry for being a douche... You were right, I should have been a little patient."

"Hey, it's easy to get frustrated," Onodera gave him a sympathetic smile. "Don't worry, I don't hate you anymore. I'll see you at school tomorrow!"

She released her hand from his grip and walked away.

"... Yasuho!" Josuke called out to her.

Hearing her first name being spoken, Onodera stopped and glanced back. Josuke placed his hands in his pockets and shyly fidgeted his foot.

"Can I come and see you practice with your track team?" he asked.

Onodera's heart fluttered and her cheeks are pinker than her hair.

"P-practice starts at 3:50..." she told him.

She hurried away. Josuke can finally breathe, as though he had run a marathon. He looked at her phone number in the paper she gave him, and he imagined himself walking on clouds.

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 22: Let's Go to the Mangaka's House

The next day is the last day of May. In Class 1-A at Budogaoka High School, Onodera dropped a stuffed bear wearing a polka dot ribbon around its neck on Fubuki's desk. Fubuki looked away from a piece of paper he's reading while Okuyasu is close by, sipping from a juice carton.

"... What is this?" Fubuki asked about the bear.

"It's a gift," Onodera replied.

Fubuki handed it back to her. "Not my thing."

"I didn't offer it to YOU, Fubuki," Onodera said. "I want you to give to someone else for me. I would do it, but… I'm so embarrassed… anyways, this gift is for Josuke Higashikata."

Okuyasu spit-takes right into Fubuki's direction.

"God! Careful, Okuyasu!" Fubuki snapped as he wiped the juice from his eyeglasses. "You nearly wet the letter!"

"Whaaaat?!" a teary-eyed Okuyasu nearly shouted at Onodera. "Why are you giving gifts to Josuke?!"

"Lower your voice, we're in a classroom," Onodera said. "I'm giving this to him as an apology for hitting him yesterday."

"Huh? Why did you hit him? He didn't try to grope you or anything, did he…?"

"It's nothing like that!" Onodera blushed. "Anyways, can you make sure he gets the bear?"

"Whatever," Fubuki said in a dismissive manner.

Onodera smiled at him and she placed the bear inside Fubuki's bag. Then she went back to her desk so she can talk to her classmates. Okuyasu is a little jealous.

"I wished I got a cute girl to give me a gift too…" Okuyasu mumbled.

"Be careful what you wish for," Fubuki said. "You want a crazy girl like Yamagishi?"

"... I can hear you from over here, you know," Yukako Yamagishi said from her desk. She finally regained her natural black hair color. She seemed annoyed at Fubuki for talking about her behind her back. "I told you, I'm not gonna go after Koichi anymore."

"You may say that now, but I'm keeping an eye on you," said Fubuki coldly.

Yukako clicked her tongue and turned away. Fubuki still hasn't forgiven her for kidnapping him and Koichi.

"So, what's that paper you're reading?" Okuyasu glanced over Fubuki's shoulder. "It looks old and I can't read these words."

"It's a letter to my great-grandfather, written by his father Will Zeppeli," Fubuki replied. "It's in Italian, so I'm trying to translate it… This is about Will's visit to Morioh and I wanted to know the full story."

"Zeppeli? You mean the actual guy that was the inspiration for that Jizou statue we saw a long time ago?"

"The one and the same."

The school bell rang. Fubuki carefully put away Will's letter inside an envelope just as the homeroom teacher Miyazaki arrived. He is a complete mess like he hasn't shaved for a week; his hair untidy and uncombed and his glasses are caked with dust. Everyone can tell he is on his unpredictable bad mood again so they all became quiet to avoid being lashed at.

Miyazaki went to his table to make an announcement.

"Students, there has been a few reports that a strange man is seen selling cigarettes and drugs near the school grounds," he said in a heavy voice. "The authorities are already informed, but if you ever see someone suspicious, don't buy anything from him. Immediately alert the teachers… Now, let's begin English."

He faced the blackboard and began writing a new vocabulary list for their next lesson. During mid-writing, he stopped so he can give his "advice" to his students.

"Boys, if your girlfriend only wants to date you is because you have money, don't waste your time on her... Bitches like them are greedy and cold as ice," he said. His tone is filled with anger. "And girls, you don't mess around your lovers like it's a fucking game."

Everyone is shocked, they have never heard their teacher spoke in such rude language before. Miyazaki then broke the chalk to pieces and he glared at them.

"Well?! What are you all looking at?!" he snapped. "Go and write these words down!"

Everyone did as they were told. Miyazaki then sat down in his table and rested his forehead against his raised arms. He never spoke another word until the end of class.

Fubuki silently watched him. He recalled Uncle Norisuke telling him that Miyazaki was a suspect of a terrible murder fifteen years ago before he was proved innocent, and yet most of Morioh still believed he committed the crime.

He wondered if Miyazaki's aggressive behavior is caused by stress as the result of the rumors.

*&*&*

When school ended for the day, Fubuki decided to walk home together with Koichi.

"Man, what a long Monday," Koichi sighed. "It's not even Tuesday yet and I'm already tired."

Fubuki noticed someone walking ahead of them.

"Isn't that…?" he said.

The person in front of them turned around when he heard Fubuki. It is Hazamada, who was recently discharged from the hospital.

"Ah! It's you two!" Hazamada said in surprise. "Hey, what's new?"

"What are you up to now, you creepy goblin?" Fubuki demanded, narrowing his eyes at him suspiciously.

"Relax, Fubuki! Hazamada's chill now," Koichi said. He turned to the former enemy. "Um… have you completely recovered from your injuries?"

"Hehe, sort of, I guess. They sent me home two days ago," Hazamada replied. He looked around. "Where's that assho--I mean, where's your friend Josuke?"

"I believe he went home already," Fubuki said. "He was making a big deal about having to find the mother of the invisible baby he and Mr. Joestar found yesterday."

"Invisible baby? Is that a new Stand user?"

"It seems that way," Koichi said. "Although we can see her now, she seems to trust only Mr. Joestar. When he's not around, she makes everything around her vanish."

"We don't know if she's a natural Stand user, or she was turned into one by the Bow and Arrow," Fubuki said. "It's kind of messed up when you think about a poor baby being shot by an arrow…"

Hazamada seemed to relax around the two.

"Huh. So Mr. Joestar and the others are going to be staying in town for a while then," he said.

"Probably," Koichi said.

"I see…" Hazamada then changed the subject. "Hey, Koichi, Fubuki, do you happen to like manga?"

"Manga? Yeah... I guess I like them as much as the next guy," Koichi answered.

"I don't read a lot of manga," Fubuki said.

"Have you ever heard of Rohan Kishibe?" Hazamada asked. "He draws Pink Dark Boy!"

"Pink Dark Boy?!" Koichi's eyes twinkled and he grinned. "Of course I know him! I love his manga!"

"You really like it?!"

"Of course I do!"

"Hang on, what did you guys say?" Fubuki said. "Rohan Kishibe...? I wonder if he's the same guy who visited my uncle's shop some time ago?"

"Rohan Kishibe visited your place?!" both Koichi and Hazamada screamed.

"How come you never mentioned to us about that before?!" Hazamada demand. "Rohan is the best mangaka in Japan, he's kind of a big deal! You're acting as you've never met or heard of him before!"

"That's because it's true," Fubuki frowned. "But Uncle Norisuke said he got an autograph from him. He had this Rohan guy sign his name on his favorite jacket..."

"S-so cool!" Koichi exclaimed. "I'm almost jealous!"

"That reminds me..." Hazamada lowered his voice. "Rohan Kishibe actually lives right here in Morioh."

Koichi's eyes nearly popped right out of his head. "What?! Did I hear you right?! Here in Morioh?! It's almost too good to be true, are you sure?!"

"I know, I couldn't believe it either!" Hazamada shouted. "I overheard some real estate agents talking about it while I was at the bookstore! It sounds crazy, but it's actually true!"

Both Koichi and Hazamada screamed, all pumped up like excited children. Fubuki felt so embarrassed.

"Hey, wanna go grab his autograph?" Hazamada asked.

"You bet!" Koichi answered. "Let's go, Fubuki!"

"I can't come," Fubuki refused. "I have to study, and I also have to help out prepare the birthday dinner for Hitomi's son."

"You'll have plenty of time to do that later! I promise it won't take too long!" Hazamada insisted. "Besides, how often do you meet someone famous in your town?"

Fubuki sighed. "... Lead the way, Hazamada."

*&*&*

After a long walk from the Morioh Station, the three boys arrived at a huge house with a sign that says "Kishibe".

He better be home, or else we've come all the way here for nothing, Fubuki thought bitterly. I have two more pages of Will's Zeppeli's letter I have to translate.

Koichi pointed a finger to a window on the second floor. The window is covered by blinds but they can see the lights are on in that room.

"I wonder if Rohan is living with any of his family," Koichi said.

"From what I hear, he lives alone," Hazamada said, checking out the place. "He made his debut four years ago, back when he was sixteen."

"Say what?! He's only 20-years-old?!" Koichi said, astonished. "That means he was our age when he became a pro, and now he can already afford to live in such a nice house."

"Wow..." even Fubuki is impressed.

"We shouldn't snoop around like this," Hazamada. "You're going have to ring the doorbell, Koichi."

"But why do I have to do it?" Koichi asked.

"I'm an upperclassman giving you an order! Do it!"

"That's not fair at all..."

"I'll do it. You two are such children," Fubuki said. He's already on the porch.

Koichi and Hazamada climbed up the front, keeping their distance, and they held their breaths. Fubuki felt strangely nervous about this. His finger was about to press the doorbell when the front door suddenly cracked open. A hand grabbed Fubuki's wrist and Fubuki can see a face staring at him from inside the house.

Koichi screamed in terror as he clings to Hazamada. Fubuki stepped back.

"It's him! It's Rohan Kishibe!" Hazamada shouted. "He looks exactly like his picture in the New Year's special issue!"

"Th-that's the guy?!" Koichi asked timidly.

Rohan pushed open the door and stared at his visitors. He is a handsome young man with an undercut that is slicked sideways. He is wearing a jagged headband and pen earrings.

"... And who the hell are you three?" Rohan asked, in a soft but rude voice. "Have you come here to play a prank on me?"

"No-no! We would never!" Hazamada said. He and Koichi are hiding behind Fubuki. "We're students from Budogaoka High School!"

"We apologize for disturbing you, but these two happen to be big fans of your work," Fubuki told him, keeping his tone monotone and distant. "I believe they want your autograph."

"D-don't be so blunt and tell him like that!" Koichi whispered to him.

"Fans? You've read my work?" Rohan is mildly interested. He glanced around the neighborhood. "So, my address must have gotten leaked..."

"This guy claimed he has happened to overhear it," Fubuki gestured towards Hazamada.

"I-it's true! We're not stalking you or anything, Rohan-sensei!" Hazamada squeaked. "So, I hope it's not too much trouble, but it would make us really happy if you could give us your autograph."

Rohan seemed to believe him.

"Fans of mine, eh?" he smirked. "That sounds nice. We might be on the same wavelength then."

Fubuki raised an eyebrow. "Wavelength?"

"It's nothing, don't worry about it," Rohan said, opening the door more. "An autograph or two is no problem at all."

Koichi and Hazamada are pumped, relieved that they weren't turned away. However, Fubuki felt something off about this manga artist. Even Rohan can tell that Fubuki is watching him, but he will soon get this bespectacled teen on the same wavelength as him.

"Oh, I know," Rohan said. "Since you're here, would you like a tour of my studio?"

"Whaaat?! You're inviting us inside your studio?!" said Koichi and Hazamada in unison.

"I'm already done with my work for the day, so if you would like..."

"We really can't stay," Fubuki insisted, his glasses shining dangerously. "Just give us the autographs already."

Rohan gave him an equally dangerous look. Koichi and Hazamada both elbowed Fubuki in the sides.

"Ignore him, he doesn't appreciate your hard work and magic, Sensei!" Hazamada excused.

"I'm not offended," Rohan said, with a smirk still on his face. "Please, come right in."

Koichi, Hazamada, and a reluctant Fubuki entered the house. The two smaller-sized students are in awe of the place while Fubuki kept his guard up. When Rohan went past them to close the door, he cast a dark look at Fubuki.

*&*&*

"WOW!!" Koichi and Hazamada exclaimed.

Rohan's studio is huge, professional and organized, not small and cluttered like they expected. There is a tall shelf filled with copies of his manga and books for references. His wooden desk where he does his drawings is placed by the window and the blinds remained closed. Hanging on the walls are pictures of hand-drawn original color illustration of his works. Koichi kept pointing out the pictures while Hazamada is moved to tears.

"I'm so glad we came heeere!" he shouted.

Fubuki kept his distance, eyeing carefully around the room when he sensed Rohan appeared right next to his side.

"You don't seem excited like your two friends," Rohan commented. "You're not much of a manga reader, are you?"

"I've only read one manga in my entire life," Fubuki said. He just looked straight ahead so he won't look at Rohan. "It was so good so I never picked up another series. I doubt I could find any manga greater than it.."

"And what's the name of this incredible manga you like?"

"Go Nagai's Devilman."

The corner of Rohan's lips made the tiniest twitch.

"You have quite a good taste, at least. Otherwise, I'd be miffed if it were any other work. Though I think you would find Pink Dark Boy to be a little special..."

Even though Rohan was being subtle about it, Fubuki could tell this artist is arrogant.

When Koichi and Hazamada aren't looking, Rohan moved his face closer to Fubuki's face (who continued to remain emotionless) and touched his chin. This made Fubuki shiver.

"I've seen you leaving your uncle's store once..." he whispered. He seemed fascinated with Fubuki. "I didn't realize I could find anyone so fine-looking here in Morioh."

Fubuki slapped Rohan's fingers away from his chin, but Rohan just chuckled and moved away from him.

"Just a joke," he smirked.

D-damn you! Fubuki glared at him.

Koichi turned to Rohan, oblivious to what just happened when he had his back turned.

"How long have you been working here in Morioh?" he asked.

"I moved here three months ago," Rohan replied. "I grew up in S-City, but I lived here for a time when I was a child. Tokyo is convenient, but it gets pretty chaotic, you know? I get my work done easier in a relaxing environment like Morioh. And with the newest development in copies and fax machines, it takes less than four hours to send in a complete manuscript. It's gotten to the point where there's no real reason to live in the city anymore, other than pointless status."

"So you became a real hermit, that's impressive," Fubuki said. "Why keep it a secret that you've moved here?"

"Shut uuuup, Fubukiii!" Hazamada hushed him. "You're gonna get us kicked out!"

"That's a simple question to answer," Rohan said, ignoring Hazamada. He peeked through the blinds of his window. "Lately, there's been a lot of crazy people among my readers. If word gets out where I live, I'll probably have one or two stalkers breaking into my house."

Hazamada has some burning questions for his idol.

"Where do your assistants or staff work?" he asked.

"I don't have any. I work alone," Rohan answered.

Koichi and Hazamada are blown away.

"Whaaat?! You can do nineteen pages of detailed artwork in just one week?!"

"It only takes four days. Five days, if it's in color. On the remaining days, I have fun going on trips and such," Rohan explained as he sat against the edge of his desk. "I chose this job because I don't like dealing with people. It's harder for me to work if I had assistants."

"You must be some kind of prodigy if you think you can do this all without anyone," Fubuki remarked, with a hint of sarcasm in his tone. "I should go practice my curtsy."

Koichi and Hazamada gasped, but Rohan kept his cool.

"Aren't you skeptical," he said. "I remember your uncle bragging that you're the number one student from your old school, top grades and first place prizes, and everything... You think you're greater than me?"

"At least I don't need hundreds of readers to feel superior."

"Oh, you wound me. You don't get to judge me when you haven't read my work."

"I don't need to, because I can tell you're someone who looks down on people."

Koichi and Hazamada gasped in fear, thinking Fubuki pushed too far.

"We're sorry about our friend!" Koichi apologized quickly. "Please don't hate us because of his rudeness!"

"Yeah, we don't even like him that much!" Hazamada added.

Rohan stood up and raised a hand. Everyone thought he was going to smack Fubuki when he picked up something from Hazamada's shoulder. It is a spider. Rohan seemed interested in it so went over to one his books to find the name of the spider.

"I see... So this spider is an Araneus ventricosus..." he muttered to himself. "It can be found in houses and mountainous regions all across Japan. Though it is an orb-weaver, there are some that make webs day and night."

"You're lucky, Hazamada," Fubuki said. "Araneus spiders possess various venoms..."

Hazamada freaked out a bit but Fubuki continued without missing a beat.

"... But they deliver a dry bite on 8 of 10 occasions. Females bite more often than males, who would rather flee or feign death."

Rohan turned to his guests.

"By the way, do you three know what it takes to draw an interesting manga?" he asked as he held up the spider. "Reality! Reality is the energy that breathes life into a piece of work, and reality itself is entertainment. People often think that manga is drawn from imagination and fantasy, but that's not actually true. For me... drawing something that I've experienced, or something that has moved me is what makes it interesting!"

Koichi and Hazamada are speechless, even Fubuki has to agree with him. Rohan then walked over to his desk and picked up an Exacto knife, a tool used to cut screen tones for manga.

"For example, in the city, people would just be grossed out by this spider and kill it," he said. "As a manga artist, you need to know how its legs are connected, where the eyes are, and how to differentiate between a male and female in order to be able to draw it. Apparently, a spider's webbing hardens when it's exposed to the air, but you have to know what hole it comes from..."

Rohan used the tip of the Exacto knife to cut and dig into the spider's abdomen, much to everyone's horror.

"... and what its innards look like," Rohan said with a dark expression as his knife pieced through the spider, killing it. "When a spider's belly is cut up, how does it suffer before it dies? You have to know these things for the sake of reality."

"Th-that's cruel!" Koichi cried.

"Cruel?!" Rohan snapped. "An amateur brat like you is criticizing me, Rohan Kishibe?!"

"N-no! I wasn't criticizing at all! I'm sorry..."

Rohan picked the spider out from the Exacto knife and looked at it.

"I should have a taste too," he said.

He then licked the dead spider over and over again. Koichi turned pale and Fubuki got a bad feeling that Rohan is completely crazy. Hazamada is so grossed out that he wanted to vomit, but he covered his mouth quickly. Rohan saw this.

"Yes! Very nice! That feeling of suffering!" he exclaimed, dropping the dead spider into a trash can. "It's a perfect example of how one looks when puking! I should sketch it!"

"R-really?" Hazamada asked, through his mouth.

Rohan grabbed a sketchbook and pencil. But when Hazamada tried to puke again, he went overboard and it just looked so fake that Rohan didn't like it anymore.

"Anyways, you want autographs, right?" he said. "Before I sign them, I'll go get tea. I already made some just before you arrived. I'll also grab a marker from the kitchen."

When Rohan left the room, Koichi and Hazamada wasted no time scolding Fubuki.

"What was THAT for, Fubuki?!" Hazamada hissed. "You're being such an asshole! Rohan might not let us visit him next time!"

"What's wrong with you?" Koichi asked.

"A..." Fubuki paused. "Are you two so taken in by all this, that you didn't notice how suspicious this Rohan is?"

"What do you mean?"

"Why would a private mangaka like him invite strangers, who showed up at his doorstep, so easily into his home and studio? Not to mention, that thing with the spider!"

Koichi thought this is a good point, but Hazamada doesn't think Rohan has an ulterior motive.

"Rohan-sensei may be a bit anti-social... and eccentric. But, I think you're right," Koichi said. "Call it a hunch, but I got a feeling that Rohan-sensei is dangerous."

"What's up with you two?" Hazamada asked. "I thought we're having fun here. Are you saying he might be a Stand user?"

"God, don't jinx it," Fubuki said. "I was thinking of Bluebeard and a room of dead wives... Or dead readers in his case."

"Look, just because Rohan's a bit unusual, I don't think you should just assume he's a secret psychopath. Besides, if Rohan's actually a Stand user..."

"I hope he goes after you first," Fubuki said. "Why do you keep bringing that up? Not everyone we meet has to be a Stand user."

"You know what, Fubuki? You are BORING," Hazamada glared at him. "I thought it would be a great idea if Rohan is a Stand user, that means I have something in common with a famous manga artist. But, alright, we can go home today... We can always come again another time."

"Oh, thank you," Koichi sighed with relief.

"But!" Hazamada pointed a thumb at an envelope on top of Rohan's desk, next to the phone. "Only after I've looked at this thing that caught my eye."

Koichi and Fubuki could see a bundle of illustration paper peeking out from the envelope.

"Oh! C-could this be...?" Koichi gasped.

"Yup! He said he just finished working, right?" Hazamada said. "I've been eyeing that carefully."

"Could it be a complete hand-drawn manuscript for the newest Pink Dark Boy? Does that mean no one else has even seen it yet?!"

"Let's get a glimpse of this before we go home."

"We should get permission first," Koichi protested.

"Koichi, you don't know manga artists at all," Hazamada said. "These manuscripts, before they've gone to the printers, are a closely-guarded trade secret! There's no way he'd let us outsiders read something that hasn't even been checked by the editor yet! Just one look, then I'll put it right back!"

"But it's still wrong!"

"Hazamada, you know the part in scary movies when somebody does something really stupid, and everybody hates them for it?" Fubuki asked. "THIS is it."

"It's fine! It isn't hurting anybody!" Hazamada dismissed him.

Hazamada slowly pulled out the manuscript as Koichi held his breath. Fubuki could not believe this is happening. Soon, everyone saw the first page in full view... Fubuki could not describe this emotion he just felt.

The story seemed to be a horror-suspense, since there is a gruesome scene in the next page and the characters react realistically to it. The thrill of reading a raw manga caused Fubuki's heart to race. He wanted to look away but Hazamada already flipped to the next page...

Fubuki's vision became completely dark for a split second. Now the world around him is suddenly blurry until Rohan handed his eyeglasses back to him.

"They just slipped off, but I caught them," Rohan said. "Honestly, get a new pair that fits better."

When Fubuki put his glasses back on, he noticed Koichi and Hazamada appeared ashamed. He noticed the pages of the new manuscript lying on the desk and he realized, in the moment of their excitement, Rohan had just caught them.

Rohan had returned with a tray of tea and cookies. He seemed to be in a good mood.

"Well, looks like you've seen the new chapter," he smirked. "I think I'll let this one go. I haven't had some... interesting guests in a while."

Koichi and Hazamada couldn't believe that he wasn't angry at them.

The atmosphere is rather lighthearted. Koichi and Hazamada talked about their hobbies and school while Rohan listened. Fubuki continued to watch him, waiting for Rohan to slip up and do something drastic since his guests looked at his manuscript without asking. However, Rohan continued to remain normal and even chuckled along with his enthusiastic guests.

Soon, the topic became about girls.

"There's this girl I liked, her name is Junko. She's a senior in Class E..." Hazamada began, but Rohan interrupted him and turned to Koichi.

"Is there a girl you like, Koichi?" he asked.

Koichi nearly dropped his cup in fear.

"N-no!" he stammered. "W-well... except there was this one girl who was crazy for me... but she's too much for me."

"I too have my share of crazy fangirls," Rohan nodded. "I get letters from them asking me to marry them."

"What about you, Sensei?" Hazamada asked. "Outside of your fans, is there any girl in your life?"

Rohan went quiet and he has a distant look on his face. Fubuki wondered if he's thinking of some lost first love from his past.

"... No, there was no girl," Rohan finally replied. "I'm too absorbed in my work to consider dating."

After everyone finished their tea, Rohan signed three autographs and gave them to his guests. He followed them to the front door so he can send them out.

Koichi and Hazamada went ahead, thanking him, while Fubuki stayed behind. He bowed his head towards Rohan.

"I wanted to say I'm sorry for my rudeness," he apologized.

"To err is human," Rohan said. "Besides, I had great pleasure meeting you and Koichi. It would be nice if you drop by one of these days for another visit."

"That WOULD be nice," Fubuki said. "But I'm pretty busy with school and I don't want to get in the way of your work."

Rohan just smirked and closed his door. Fubuki caught up with Koichi, who is waiting for him. Hazamada already went home.

"Okay, you were right," Fubuki admitted. "It was... kind of fun."

"See? I told you he was a great guy!" Koichi smiled. "You can learn a lot by just watching him."

*&*&*

Fubuki came home to find his grandmother has finished making dinner and his uncle setting up a large table in their small living room. Fubuki helped set up the paper plates and cups on the table.

An hour came, Hitomi and her son arrived. Fubuki wasn't able to buy a gift in time so he gave Joel the autograph.

"It's signed by famous manga artist," Fubuki told him.

Joel just stared quizzically at the autograph.

"Well, at least I'll be getting my own guinea pig when I go back to New York," Joel commented. "I'm gonna name it Popcorn and let him sleep on my bed."

"You know, in Switzerland, it's illegal to own just one guinea pig," Norisuke said. "The reason for is that guinea pigs are a social species, and it's considered animal cruelty if they aren't able to regularly interact with another companion. They might even die from loneliness"

Joel's eyes went with fear and he looked up to his mom.

"Momma! We have to get another one too!" he begged. "I don't want to make my guinea pig die from loneliness!"

"I... S-sure, I'll see what I can do..." Hitomi sweatdropped.

The Zeppelis sat around, ate, and shared stories. Norisuke is excited to hear that Fubuki met the famous Rohan Kishibe. When Julia brought out the cake and Joel blew the candles, another visitor arrived in the form of Jotaro. He has brought a little gift for Joel, much to the young boy's delight.

"It's a waterproof watch," he said after Joel unwrapped his gift. "You can wear it when you go swimming at the beach."

Joel quietly thanked Jotaro.

"I guess Mr. Joestar couldn't make it, huh?" Hitomi asked.

"He had to stay at the hotel and looked after the invisible baby," Jotaro replied.

Hitomi then took Jotaro downstairs to the closed shop so she can talk to him.

"He really loved the gift," she told him. "Thank you for coming."

"Well, I had to," Jotaro said. "The Old Man kept insisting me I come here. He said that I will come to regret it."

The two of them fell silent, trying to think of what to say next. Jotaro's eyes are so fixated on Hitomi, he felt like he's being pulled back into her.

He cleared his throat and broke the silence.

"He's a cute kid," he said. "He's got your looks."

"He's gentle and smart too... like his father," Hitomi added.

Jotaro thought she was referring to her husband but he tried to not be bitter about it.

"He must be a good man, your husband."

"He was... he died when Joel was a baby," Hitomi said sadly.

"Oh." Jotaro felt a little awful. "I'm sorry to hear that..."

"It's alright, but there's something important you must know... It's about Joel..."

"What about him?"

Hitomi inhaled a deep breath.

"He's your son," she told him, without holding back.

"... What?" Jotaro asked. He thought he misheard her at first.

"When I went to Italy, I discovered I was pregnant with our child," Hitomi explained. "He has the Joestar birthmark on the back of his left shoulder..."

Jotaro looked at her with disgust and anger. He grabbed her shoulder.

"If he's my son, why did you marry another man then? Why didn't you tell me about this?" he demanded. "You kept this from me for years, that's unforgivable."

"I've been trying to tell you but you ignored my phone calls!" Hitomi yelled. "I'm not asking you to forgive me, but he didn't do anything, so don't blame him!"

Jotaro turned away from her. Hitomi wanted to yell at him again. Instead, she just walked to the back room to be alone.

Jotaro could not believe he has another child with his first girlfriend who disappeared for a year after dumping him. His anger at Hitomi dissipated when he thought of Joel growing up without a father... the same thing that happened to Josuke, though under different situations.

He doesn't know how to feel about this, he barely knew Joel at all and he assumed he was the kid of another man. Hitomi is right, the boy didn't do anything wrong, Jotaro shouldn't be resentful at him or keep his distance away from him.

Jotaro then thought about his daughter Irene. After he divorced her mother, he raised her by himself, though with Holly's help. If Jotaro had married Hitomi instead and they raised their kid, Irene would have never existed. Jotaro could not bear the thought...

After thinking it over, Jotaro went to find Hitomi. She's in the back room, sniffing and wiping her eyes.

"Hitomi..." he began. "I'm sorry for reacting poorly... but I'm glad you told me. And I've been thinking that I should get to know our... son... a bit more if it would make you happy. I promise I won't hurt him or abandon him."

"D-don't this for me, do it for him," Hitomi mumbled. "He wanted to meet you for a long time."

To Hitomi's surprise, Jotaro pulled her into a warm hug. Hitomi is so stunned at first, but she buried her face into his broad chest.

"When was the last time... you held me like this?" she asked, closing her eyes.

Jotaro stroked her hair. "I missed you too..."

*&*&*

Upstairs, Joel received a gift from Norisuke: a soccer ball he can play around in the park. Joel and Norisuke playfully kicked the ball back and forth while Fubuki and Julia are watching.

Joel kicked the ball too hard and it went flying straight to Fubuki. Fubuki tried to catch it but he was too slow and the ball smacked right into his head... and he fell right off from his chair and landed on the floor.

"Oh no, I'm sorry!" Joel apologized.

"You okay, Fubuki?" Norisuke asked as he helped Fubuki up.

"I'm fine..." Fubuki said. "He didn't break my glasses."

"Wow, did you lose some weight? You've gotten lighter!"

"Huh?"

"You don't seem pale or skinny... Are you on some kind of special diet?"

"No...?"

Fubuki doesn't understand what his uncle is talking about. All of a sudden, everyone heard a spine-tingling howling in the distance. When it died down, a creepy tension filled the air.

"W-was that a wolf?" Joel asked, trembling.

"That's correct, it almost sounds like a gray wolf," Jotaro spoke. He and Hitomi just came back and they heard the howl too.

"That's impossible..." Julia said in disbelief. "We don't have wolves in Japan anymore."

"How come?" Joel asked.

"Wolves here became extinct during the Meiji restoration," Jotaro explained. "There were deemed as a threat to ranching, so the Meiji government promoted a bounty system and a direct chemical extermination campaign."

"But over a hundred years ago," Norisuke adds, "Morioh used to have wolves until they were wiped out by our ancestor William Zeppeli in 1885."

"Will Zeppeli did that?" Hitomi is surprised. "I didn't know about this!"

"It was one of his letters," Fubuki said. "According to Will, the people in Morioh called the wolves 'demons' because they were aggressive and evil... they don't go after their livestock, but humans instead."

"Y-you mean like the Big Bad Wolf?" Joel asked.

Jotaro wrapped an arm protectively around him. Joel is confused by his action, but he's too scared to object.

"Where are the letters?" Hitomi inquired. "I'd like to look into them if you don't mind."

"Why?" Norisuke demanded. "It could be a stray dog just howling at nothing!"

"Because if that was a wolf, we'd want to know where it came from if they're supposed to be extinct," she replied. "I'm also curious about Will Zeppeli's letters."

"And we can't let a dangerous animal roam free," Jotaro said.

Fubuki gave Hitomi an envelope containing Will's letters. He decided to have a private talk with both of them when Norisuke and Joel aren't listening.

"There's something you must know," he whispered. "Last April... I actually saw the wolf."

He told them about the mysterious wolf that not only broke into his home but licked his face when he was sleeping. Fubuki tried to tell the police or his friends about it, but nobody believed him.

"... I thought it was a dream until I heard that howl," Fubuki finished.

Hitomi and Jotaro exchanged looks.

"Fubuki, we promise to look into this," she said. "Until we find answers, do not go out so late at night. And don't go find it."

"We'll catch the animal before it kills a human," Jotaro said.

*&*&*

Fubuki tried to go to sleep, but he ended up getting a nightmare.

In his dream, he is being chased by something as the wolf's howling grew louder. He saw public bathroom up ahead and he ran inside, shutting the door behind him.

The bathroom is empty but he saw blood flowing out from one of the stalls. Fubuki has a bad feeling that he shouldn't open the door.

The next stall is empty and when he peered inside, he saw a wooden box. He curiously picked it up and found he nearly dropped the box... There is a pacifier inside, and several bloody baby teeth inside it.

Fubuki shot upwards, now awake and covered in cold sweat.

"Jesus..." he panted.

Even though we stopped Akira Otoishi, Morioh is still far from peaceful. Something evil is lurking in the town somewhere...

The next morning on his way to school, Fubuki felt tired and weak for some reason. His schoolbag felt heavier than usual.

"Yo, Fubuki!" someone called out to him.

It is Josuke and Okuyasu.

"How's last night?" Josuke asked. "We heard it was Joel's birthday. That kid who came on the boat with Mr. Joestar."

"Yeah..." Fubuki mumbled. "Ugh..."

"You okay, man?" Okuyasu asked, concerned. "You seem down in the dumps."

"Well, this is weird... but I'm already worn out and I haven't gotten to school yet."

"Huh, that IS weird."

Josuke noticed something in the distance. "Hey, look over there."

Fubuki and Okuyasu turned to where Josuke is pointing. They saw Koichi turning the corner into another street.

"It's Koichi. What about it, Josuke?" Okuyasu asked.

"Either he's taking a different route, but that's the opposite direction of the school," Josuke said. "Let's go tail him."

"It's already past eight, we're going to be late..." Fubuki said. However, he still went with his friends.

The three of them followed Koichi, keeping their distance so he wouldn't notice them. Fubuki realized where Koichi is going when he saw a familiar house. The front door seemed to be unlocked because Koichi paused for a moment before entering. Josuke and the others were staring from the other side of the street.

"Hey, did you guys see that?" Josuke asked.

"Yeah..." Okuyasu nodded.

"What is the heck is he doing in there? It isn't like him to skip school like that."

"Yeah, whose house is that anyway? I doubt it's some chick, but..."

"That's the home of Rohan Kishibe, he's a manga artist," Fubuki said. "Koichi and I met him yesterday and he gave us autographs."

"Is he famous or something?" Okuyasu asked. "Have you heard of him, Josuke?"

"Nope," Josuke shook his head. "When I told that jerk Hazamada that I didn't know Superman, he made fun of me."

"Something doesn't seem right," Fubuki said. "Why would Koichi come back to Rohan's house again?"

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 23: Heaven's Door

Koichi is having a weird morning.

While he was walking on his way to school, he felt exhausted. His shoes and schoolbag seemed much heavier and he can't figure out why.

To his further confusion, he finds himself returning Rohan Kishibe's house. He noticed the front door was unlocked and opened slightly ajar. Koichi wanted to go straight to school or else he would be late, but he cannot help but to check up on Rohan. Even though Rohan is most likely sleeping this early in the morning, Koichi told himself that it will only be just for a few minutes.

Koichi entered the house. It is dark and quiet, and all the windows were closed. He slowly made his way to the second floor where Rohan's studio is.

Koichi opened the door and found the manga artist at his desk, hard at work while using little light as possible. Up close, Rohan has a ghoulish expression on his face; he seemed focused and obsessed.

Koichi could not shake off this strange feeling like he's on the verge of remembering something terrible. It took for a while for Rohan to notice Koichi's presence.

"So, you finally made it… I've been waiting," he smirked. "You're right on time."

"Eh?" Koichi is confused.

"Sorry, but could you wait a little while?" Rohan asked, holding up two pages of empty pages. "I'm a couple of pages short of finishing next week's issue. I should be done in about 20 minutes."

Koichi assumed he misheard Rohan.

Two pages in 20 minutes? And for next week's issue? he wondered. Didn't he say he just finished this week's issue yesterday…?

Rohan dipped his pen in ink and stared intensely the blank manga panels.

Then his arm waved around in wild movements as he began drawing. Koichi is surprised; Rohan didn't bother sketching with a pencil first, he just drew immediately with ink like an expert.

Rohan made no mistakes, like no rough sketches or stray ink drops. He just keeps adding to the page, even drawing the backgrounds in right along with the rest.

The page was completely blank before, but Rohan made such a detailed composition in one perfect go… in just two minutes.

"Un-unbelievable!" Koichi exclaimed.

Rohan, his eyes shining with a crazed glow, grabbed a bunch of his brushes.

"It's all thanks to you, Koichi… You and Fubuki," he said. "I'm overflowing with creative energy! My body hungers for more! I have to keep drawing! This is the first time I've ever drawn nineteen pages in a single night! At this moment, I'm drawing a masterpiece, made from you and Fubuki's life experiences!"

Rohan used the brushes to make zoom lines on his manga, adding the final touch. Then he turned to Koichi holding up a face-shaped newspaper. Koichi then noticed a second similar paper sitting on Rohan's desk. He managed to catch Fubuki's name on it.

"Get cracking! I want the next reality from your past!" Rohan ordered. He is wearing an evil grin, he looked terrifying. "Hurry and show me your next page! The more pages I take, the more weight you'll lose, but that's no big deal, right? It's a small price to pay to become a masterpiece! You'll be immortalized in my manga!"

Suddenly, Koichi felt the skin of his face peeling off… he screamed in horror as his body is transmuted into rolls of paper, covered in detail information like a newspaper.

"I… I remember everything!!" Koichi screamed. "This power is Heaven's Door! Rohan… you're a Stand user!!"


Yesterday, when Koichi, Fubuki, and Hazamada sampled Rohan's newly finished work, they were struck by Rohan's Stand Heaven's Door. Their bodies became like "books" and they could not even move.

"There are a lot of things recorded in the human body," Rohan told them. "Everything from the moment you were born. In order to do that, I had to turn you into books. Books that have your lives written in them. This will cause you no actual harm, so don't worry."

Rohan walked over to Koichi while Hazamada remains lying helpless on the floor. Fubuki tried to crawl, but he can't seem to move his body. His glasses have fallen off from his face when his face peeled off. He felt so exposed it is painful.

Fubuki just glared at Rohan when the manga artist explained that he'll be reading the detailed information about Koichi's life and experience in order to get some "reality" Rohan needed to write a good comic.

"You can't get this from interviews," Rohan said to Koichi. "This is going to be 100% real as if I had experienced it myself."

"Get… away from Koichi, you psychopath," Fubuki snarled.

"I'll be with you shortly," Rohan scoffed.

"Th-this is your fault, Hazamada!" Fubuki hissed. "I knew something bad is going to happen but you ignored my warnings… and then you dragged us into this!"

"W-well… maybe this wouldn't happen if you weren't rude to him!" Hazamada shot back.

"Who was the numskull that invited me and Koichi to come here in the first place then?"

From Koichi, Rohan learns about Koichi's life--including his birth, his family, and how much of an average life Koichi has… until April of this year.

Rohan is suddenly shocked when he learned the existence of Stands beside his own. He flipped through the pages on Koichi's face to get further information.

"Stand users!" he gasped. "Everything from April of 1999 is amazing! You've only had amazing experiences ever since! Josuke Higashikata, Jotaro Kujo, Okuyasu Nijimura, Yukako Yamagishi, Yasuho Onodera…"

Rohan starts to sweat but he is smiling.

"I can't believe it… This is incredible! I've found the perfect inspiration for my work!"

Uh-oh… Fubuki thought, getting worried. If that insane mangaka is happy, it's not good news for us...

"Crazy Diamond, Star Platinum, Purple Rain, The Hand, Love Deluxe, Tiny Dancer… et cetera, et cetera!"

"Wh-what are you going to do to us?!" Koichi demanded.

"Isn't it obvious? He's going to take our life experiences use them as material for his manga, Koichi!" Fubuki told him. "And then he's going to kill us!"

Rohan raised an eyebrow. "What a hasty conclusion… but you are correct about the first part, Fubuki Kurosawa."

Koichi tried to intimidate Rohan by summoning Echoes ACT2.

"Please stop attacking us with your Stand immediately!" Koichi nervously ordered. "If you don't…"

Rohan merely chuckled. "You'll have Echoes ACT2 attack me with a sound?"

Koichi is surprised how Rohan knew about Echoes' power.

"Y-yes! Please withdraw your Stand!" Koichi said. "I won't hold back!"

"I know, it's written on your 11th page." Rohan flipped to a page on Koichi's face. "You're far more timid than most people and easily give in under pressure, but when push comes to shove, you can be quite courageous… Truly magnificent! I like what I see! I'm sure my readers will like your personality, too."

While Rohan is reading Koichi's experiences, Fubuki had quietly summoned Purple Rain. His Stand snuck behind Rohan and has a small water ring in its palms. Purple Rain will use the water to bind Rohan.

"This isn't an empty threat!" Koichi yelled. "I'm really going to attack you!"

Rohan frowned. "Do it then!"

"ECHOES ACT2!!"

Echoes threw its tail, which formed into a "crash" sound effect. Purple Rain used this moment to throw the water ring at Rohan.

To everyone's shock, the sound effect missed Rohan… ON PURPOSE… and it hit Purple Rain, causing the Stand to misfire and the water ring to splash on a wall instead of Rohan.

Purple Rain was knocked back and this injured Fubuki.

"I already saw you trying to sneak attack me with Purple Rain," Rohan said to Fubuki. "You thought I wouldn't notice it?"

"Wh-what?! F-Fubuki?!" Koichi gasped.

"You missed! How could you miss?!" Hazamada shouted. "He was like ten feet in front of you!"

"Koichi, too bad for you, I have put a safety lock on Echoes," Rohan said. "You are now unable to attack me."

"E-excuse me?" Fubuki said. His face now bruised. "How were you able to do that without touching Echoes?"

"Safety lock?" Hazamada asked.

Rohan pointed out some words he had already written on the margin of page 11 of Koichi's face:

"I cannot attack the manga artist, Rohan Kishibe."

"This is Heaven's Door ability," Rohan explained. "It lets me read people's experiences and memories via words and pictures, and it also allows me to write new ones in their place. You will now never be able to harm me in any way, shape, or form."

With a pencil, Rohan quickly drew Koichi and Echoes on a sketchpad.

"But that's all I'm gonna mess with," he said. "If I write in any more, it'll make your life fake, and I can't have that in my work."

Next, he walked over to Fubuki.

"Don't touch me!" Fubuki yelled. He tried to fight Rohan off but he can't do anything in his book state. "Keep your filthy paws off me…"

Rohan just grabbed Fubuki's peeled face and began to read.

"Fubuki Kurosawa. Born on December 25, 1982. You grew up in Morioh until you moved to S-City when you were seven," Rohan read out loud. "Highly intelligent with an IQ of 154, you're an only child so you had a lot of expectations placed on you. You're a focused individual and perfectionist who keeps a cool head under pressure… Due to a father's constant absence and a lack of a mother's love, you developed a cold and prickly personality, and then emotionally distanced yourself from others. However, you drop this exterior around people you're very close to… You may scold your friends on a weekly basis and are strict towards them, but you care about their feelings and get protective when they're in danger."

Rohan liked what he read so far. He turned to the next the page and he smirked.

"Your only friend from your childhood was… Josuke Higashikata, the same boy from Koichi's memory! What a coincidence!" he continued, now amused at Fubuki's embarrassment. "And it says here when you two were young, Josuke was kind of a dork, so you thought little of him. However, when you were reunited with your childhood friend years later, you were surprised by how handsome he became. You get jealous whenever a girl is interested in him…"

Realization dawned on Koichi. "That means… that time with Higura…"

"That's enough, those things are private to me!" Fubuki protested. "Don't read anymore!"

"Five years ago… a first cousin you cherished was murdered," Rohan paused. His face is solemn. "You spiraled into paranoia and depression, and you tried to commit suicide just two months after your cousin's death… You survived but you suffered months of nightmares and hallucinations due to the trauma. Even though your cousin's killer was stopped, you still never moved on… You never told your friends about your condition because you don't want to burden them. You may appear and behave normally to them but inside, you still feel hollow…The last words you said to your cousin before he died was..."

"That's enough, I say!!" Fubuki screamed. The last thing he wanted is to remember that awful day, something he regretted the most.

Rohan stopped after he has read enough. He seemed to sympathize with Fubuki. He still went ahead and drew a quick sketch of Fubuki and Purple Rain.

"I must say, compared to Koichi… you have quite a bittersweet life," he said. "But I see some potential. My readers may dislike you immediately but they will warm up to you in time."

Fubuki avoided Koichi's eyes in shame; now that Koichi knows his secret, it would be a matter of time until Josuke learns about it.

Meanwhile, Rohan has already read Hazamada's life experience and finds how much of a detestable person he is. Hazamada deemed useless as material and is he is dismissed, which caused Hazamada to cry.

"Why are you doing this?" Koichi asked. "Even without reading about our experiences, you're already an amazing manga artist!"

"He's right, what do you have to gain when all of Japan knows you're famous?" Fubuki demanded. "You're already own such a nice house at the age of twenty. You're doing way better than most people your age! And yet, why do you need our memories?!"

Rohan clenched his teeth and his fists are trembling. When he turned around, he is genuinely angry much to everyone's surprise.

"Do you think that the great Rohan Kishibe draws manga for the sake of money and fame?!" he shouted. "I draw manga because I want to be read! That's the only reason! I couldn't care less about anything else!"

Koichi and Hazamada are flabbergasted.

"That's it…?" Fubuki asked. "Something so simple like that?"

"Yes! I want people to read my work, so every single day I look for realistic ideas to use!" Rohan replied. "It feels great whenever I finish a manuscript. Anyone would feel satisfied after a job well done, don't they? But that feeling only lasts for an instant… It's because I started thinking that no one's going to read my completed manga, and my insecurities started to grow. I feel like nobody will bother reading next week's issue and I might not know what do draw anymore. I might even lose my motivation to continue drawing…"

Rohan peeked through the blinds so he can gaze out the window.

"That feeling has never left me since my debut at sixteen," he said. "Until three months ago, when someone shot me with an arrow, and I gained it, the ability of Heaven's Door."

"Keicho Nijimura," Hazamada said.

"Yes, that was written in your memories… and I read that you have a history with him too, Fubuki," Rohan said. "Now I know where and how this Keicho Nijimura got his hands on a strange Arrow. But that's not my concern anymore…"

"You're insane," Fubuki snapped. "What you're doing is just exploiting our own lives for the sake of creating a good manga. You can't even replicate our own feelings based on our experiences, and that makes you a phony--AUGH!"

Rohan, now pissed off, has stepped on Fubuki's hand. Rohan even tugged on a page on Fubuki's open face, hurting him.

"Don't you dare call Rohan Kishibe a phony, you insufferable brat," Rohan hissed. "You three don't understand the feeling of having found the best material to use for drawing a masterpiece! That's what this is! I'm going to make your reality mine! Starting with you first, Fubuki!"

"STOP!" Koichi shouted.

Hazamada is paralyzed with fear as he watched Rohan tear a page from Fubuki's face. Black ink, similar to blood, splashed on the floor. Fubuki could only scream as he touched his face.

Rohan just laughed, and laughed…


MORIOH'S FAMOUS LANDMARK #5

Manga Artist Rohan Kishibe's House: Total Area: 3.4 Acres. Features a living room, a dining room, kitchen, and attic, plus seven other rooms.

Directions: Don't bother. He'll pretend to be out anyways.


Back to the present time, Koichi screamed as Rohan tore another page from his face.

"Oh, come on! You only looked at one panel of my unfinished manuscript and you're already turning into a book?" Rohan asked, grinning. "Fantastic! That means I'm maturing! Both as a manga artist AND a Stand user!"

He was about to read the new page when he's interrupted by the sound of the doorbell. Rohan left Koichi alone and peeked outside through the window. He found Josuke and Okuyasu standing out, inspecting the house. Fubuki is with them.

"Oh my… If it isn't Crazy Diamond's Josuke Higashikata and The Hand's Okuyasu Nijimura," Rohan commented. "How curious… why would those two be at my house? There's no way Koichi would tell them about me… and Fubuki wasn't supposed to come by here until this afternoon… It would have been too risky and suspicious if I made both Koichi and Fubuki return to my house at the same time, that's why I only made one of them come here this early… Hm?"

Rohan noticed Koichi is gone.

*&*&*

Outside, Okuyasu peered inside the house.

"You said someone famous lived here, Fubuki?" Okuyasu said. "I don't know why Koichi or you never told us about this place before."

"Rohan Kishibe lives alone so he can avoid his crazier fans," Fubuki answered. "We have to respect his privacy."

"Can you tell us more about this guy?" Josuke asked.

Fubuki adjusted his glasses. "Well… he's a genius because he has own ideas of how to make a good manga, but… he pisses me off because he's so arrogant."

"Sounds like someone I know," Josuke muttered, cracking a little smirk. He yelped when Fubuki pulled on his ear.

"I am older than you," Fubuki said in a dangerous, calm voice. "I outrank you."

"S-see! Ow! Y-you just proved my point!"

Okuyasu just stood back, feeling a bit glad that it wasn't HIS ear being pulled this time.

Inside, Koichi managed to crawl down the stairs in his book state. He desperately wants his friends to save him. As soon as he opened the door, he is standing before his friends--in his completely normal appearance.

"Huh? Josuke and Okuyasu? Even you, Fubuki?" Koichi is surprised but he put on his usual friendly smile. "How did you know I was here?"

Back upstairs, Rohan is sitting at his desk. He already knew Koichi could be meeting his friends right now, but the manga artist isn't panicking. He doesn't have any interest in Josuke and Okuyasu, so he's just going to finish up the last two pages for next week. He can't wait to steal more material from Koichi and Fubuki.

"You were just watching a manga artist do his work?" Okuyasu asked Koichi. "Talk about lame. And here I thought you were secretly meeting some broad."

Fubuki noticed Koichi has a weird confused look on his face, as though Koichi was going to tell them something but he forgot what it is. Fubuki noticed Koichi has a cut in his left hand and it's bleeding. However, Koichi doesn't seem to realize he's hurt or he would have asked Josuke to heal him.

"Well, we were tailing you because we were worried since you were just wandering around," Josuke told Koichi. "But if nothing's wrong, then good. What a relief."

"Thanks!" Koichi said. "Do you want to come inside and watch me?"

"Nah, I'll pass. I'd get nervous around somebody famous."

"Same here," Okuyasu added.

"I already have enough Rohan that can last me a lifetime," Fubuki scoffed. "Don't be late for school, alright?"

Josuke waved Koichi good-bye as he, Fubuki, and Okuyasu started walking away. Koichi then went back inside the house.

"Well, Koichi isn't in any trouble," Okuyasu spoke up, "but doesn't he seem too happy to see us?"

"Didn't you see that bloody cut that was on his hand?" Fubuki pointed it out.

"I saw it too," Josuke said. "Koichi is usually squeamish when it comes to blood in Health class."

They heard the front door of Rohan's house opening again.

"I'll head to school soon!" he said, waving an arm.

"Sure!" Okuyasu waved back.

Koichi went back inside, but this made his friends more suspicious.

"Something's definitely up," Fubuki said. "When we were here yesterday, Koichi wanted to leave quickly because he sensed Rohan was dangerous. Rohan was a good host, but… there was that disturbing thing he did with that spider."

"Huh? What spider?" Okuyasu asked.

"I… I don't remember exactly what happened, but…"

"Let's go back," Josuke suggested. "If this Rohan is dangerous, then Koichi was actually trying to get us to help him. Something is preventing him."

*&*&*

Koichi is in despair. Thanks to words Rohan put in his pages by using Heaven's Door, he cannot put Rohan at a disadvantage in any form. His friends are probably long gone by this point; they left without noticing anything wrong with him.

Koichi stared helplessly at Rohan, still scribbling away at his desk. Heaven's Door is a powerful Stand, there is no way to counter it. If this continues, Rohan will rip everything out of Koichi and the latter will waste away.

Rohan stopped drawing.

"Someone's coming into this house!" he shouted. "What did you do downstairs just now, Koichi?"

Koichi is just as confused as him. However, his eyes widened when he saw someone behind Rohan.

It is Okuyasu and he just entered through the window. Rohan can sense him despite his back turned to him.

"Okuyasu!" Koichi cried. He doesn't know how Okuyasu knew he was in danger, but he was so happy to see him. If Okuyasu is here, then Josuke and Fubuki must have already entered the house through another way.

"Whoa, there! Don't you dare turn around, asshole!" Okuyasu yelled at Rohan. "You make one funny move, and I'll crush you with my Stand."

Rohan remained in his chair, but he already has a plan.

Rohan realized Koichi is bleeding from a wound in his hand; it was a dead giveaway that something was wrong. Koichi must have scratched it or caught it on something while crawling. Koichi was so absorbed getting help, that he didn't even notice it.

The manga artist turned his attention to Okuyasu.

"Is that how you knew, right? Okuyasu Nijimura?" he asked, smirking. Okuyasu is shocked when this weird guy he just met suddenly knew his name. Rohan continued, "Your Stand is The Hand… You have a complex regarding your dead brother, Keicho, and whenever you try to make a decision… you wish that your brother were there."

Okuyasu is even more shocked, but he tried to put on an intimidating front.

"Who the hell is this guy?!" he yelled. "Hey, Koichi, tell what this guy's Stand is!"

"W-well…" Koichi couldn't finish his words. He can't bring himself to say it because he's under Heaven's Door's power. I want to tell him that if you even see one panel of his manuscript, you lose! Don't look at it!

Rohan slowly turned his chair around to face Okuyasu.

"Hey, I told you not to move!!" Okuyasu yelled.

"Okuyasu, I wasn't interested in you…" Rohan said. "But now that you're in my house, I have no choice. I'll have to turn you into material, too."

"You bastard!"

The Hand materialized and was about to punch Rohan. Rohan, whose own fearsome hand can move a pen with lightning speed, is able to grab the new page from his manga in a flash and held up for Okuyasu to see.

Heaven's Door is activated and The Hand's body unraveled into a book. The same effect happened to Okuyasu and he was soon incapacitated.

"Josuke Higashikata…" Rohan turned to the open doorway. "I know you're there. Along with Fubuki Kurosawa, right?"

Hiding outside the door, Josuke and Fubuki can hear Rohan.

"He knew," Fubuki whispered.

"And he's already got Okuyasu," Josuke whispered back. "This is just great…"

"What is happening to me?!" Okuyasu screamed as he looked down at his body, which has been unraveled into a newspaper-like book. "What the hell's that manga?!"

"Oh, shut up," Rohan said as he stepped on Okuyasu's hand. "And now, Koichi… I have a question for you. Why do you think Josuke Higashikata and Fubuki Kurosawa are hiding behind that door there? … Well? What do you think?"

"Th-they're just hiding so they won't see your manga," Koichi replied.

"Yes, that is correct. You're pretty smart," Rohan said. "Okuyasu Nijimura there didn't know about my Heaven's Door, so I was able to trick him. Unfortunately, because of that, Josuke Higashikata now knows who I really am. This is definitely bad… No, without a doubt, I am put at a very big disadvantage. In order to prevent that from happening, I have to somehow drag them out from behind that door."

The air became tense.

"Koichi, can you answer another question?" Rohan spoke again. "Why didn't Fubuki Kurosawa try to enter through the window with Okuyasu Nijimura? Why did he decide to hide with Josuke instead?"

Fubuki is sweating nervously. Meanwhile, Koichi stuck without an answer, but Rohan explained anyway.

"It was because the last time Fubuki tried to sneak attack me from behind, he failed. Isn't that right, Fubuki? According to your page, I have here, you're not the type of person to attempt the same thing twice if the first time was a mistake… That is why you're hiding, you're trying to think of another strategy. However, you won't be able to stop me. You've already known that, didn't you?"

Josuke turned to Fubuki, who is pale in the face.

"It's true…" Fubuki whispered. "I have an awful feeling, that I can't do anything against him."

"Ah! Y-you put a safety lock on him too!" Koichi shouted.

"That's right, but I still need to lure him out, and I know how… I can tell Fubuki is trying to remain calm under pressure in this intense situation, but I've discovered that he tends to freak out when a traumatic trigger is pressed," Rohan continued. He just took a glance from Fubuki's page. He has a sly smile on his face. "Take Okuyasu Nijimura as an example is here…"

"Huh?" Okuyasu stared at him.

"Fubuki, you're highly protective of Okuyasu, because you feel partly responsible for his brother's death… and because his childishness and impulsiveness remind you of Shinichi."

Fubuki froze at the mention of that name.

"... Hey, who's Shinichi?" Okuyasu asked, confused.

Rohan got more irritated with him and he stepped on Okuyasu's hand harder, hurting him. "And like your dead cousin, he doesn't know when to be quiet. Oh, that reminds me… You cut me off when I was reading the last words you said to your cousin. I'm sure your friends would like to know what it is…"

"You keep your damn mouth!" Fubuki yelled at him. "It's personal and private--!"

Rohan said out the words, without any shred of empathy, " Hey! Don't forget your stupid scarf! ... That's what you said."

Koichi and Okuyasu looked at each other, they were expecting something different.

"It's neither dramatic or hurtful at all," Rohan stated. "But because it's so mundane and trivial, you regretted not saying the right words."

Fubuki is triggered. Josuke tried to hold him back but Fubuki wrestled out of his arms and he ran inside the room.

"Fubuki, go back! You're supposed to be calmer than this!" Koichi screamed.

Rohan held out his page and he noticed Fubuki has already taken off his glasses. Because his vision is poor, he won't be able to see the manga clearly and Heaven's Door won't take effect.

I have to stop him, he's getting closer! He thought. I just need to open his eyes somehow!

Moving fast and with accurate precision, Rohan threw a couple of pen nibs. They sink into Fubuki's left thigh. Fubuki winced in pain and stumbled over, getting down on one leg. He was only just one foot away from striking Rohan. Unfortunately, he was now close enough to see a panel from Rohan's manga.

Fubuki's entire body transmuted into a book and it crumpled to the floor. He finally remembered Rohan reading his private memories and the only thing Fubuki could do is bury face on the floor in shame. Koichi and Okuyasu thought Fubuki was crying but they only heard shallow, rapid breaths and anguished whining.

From behind the door, Josuke had never seen Fubuki act like this before, and he felt nothing but outrage for Rohan.

"So he broke down," Rohan commented indifferently. "That was close… if I missed, he would knock me right out from my chair."

"Fubuki…" Koichi murmured.

"Now all that's left is Josuke Higashikata. He must have some other reason why he hasn't come out yet." Rohan turned to Koichi again. "What do you think that is?"

"He's in the middle of trying to figure out how he's going to beat you to a pulp!" Okuyasu said. He's furious at Rohan for tricking Fubuki.

"Hehe. Yes, I suppose that's true," Rohan chuckled. "However, that's the not the exact answer I'm looking for. The correct answer is… Josuke Higashikata is contemplating whether he should flee this house alone or not."

Koichi and Okuyasu are shocked. Fubuki managed to lift his face up and glared at Rohan.

"Josuke would never do that!" Koichi protested.

"Right, Koichi," Rohan said, now looking at Koichi's page. "It was written in your file that it's not in Josuke Higashikata's nature to abandon his friends like that. But you see, manga artists have a habit of thinking about every conceivable possibility because of their job. Like, what are all of the possible actions that the protagonist can take in this situation? If the protagonist has an ally, he'd have a more confidence chance of winning. However, it appears Josuke's only ally Fubuki Kurosawa is unable to help at this time because of his emotional state and the safety lock... In this case, having Josuke run away now that he knows who I really am is truly inconvenient to me."

"So, that's why you targeted me first…" Fubuki snarled.

"Run… Actually, that might be a good idea!" Okuyasu exclaimed. "He'd be able to get Jotaro, Higura would easily help Josuke, and if Yukako finds out what's happening to Koichi, she'll be super pissed off."

"Ah! We could win with Higura's lipstick and Yukako's hair!" Koichi agreed. "Though I really don't want to see either of them…"

"Do it, Josuke!!" Okuyasu shouted. "Hurry up and let them know!"

Rohan just grabbed Okuyasu's unraveled arm and squeezed his wrist, hurting the delinquent.

"You idiot! I explained all that to you so that it wouldn't happen!" Rohan said. "Okuyasu! I've already written that into your body!"

Rohan threw Okuyasu's arm to the floor, right in front for both Koichi and Fubuki to read the page inside.

"Why don't you two read what I wrote in there, Koichi?" he asked.

Koichi and Fubuki read the words and they couldn't believe it. There is no way Josuke can escape now. Okuyasu pulled the paper and read a chilling message:

"If Josuke Higashikata makes trouble for Rohan Kishibe, I will commit suicide by self-immolation."

"S-suicide?!" Okuyasu shouted.

"You'll commit suicide if Josuke even tries to help us!" Koichi cried, with tears running down his face.

"Rohan, you dirty bastard!" Fubuki yelled.

"H-hey, come on. Burn myself to death? Hahaha!" Okuyasu smiled nervously. "You're just talking crap! Like I'd die in such a horrific way!"

He heard a click sound. Okuyasu realized his right hand moved by its own and has flicked on a lighter that was from his pocket. The same hand began moving closer to Okuyasu's other hand.

"WHOAAAAH!!" Okuyasu screamed.

"You'll really do it! He's invincible!" Koichi cried. "We can't defy him, no matter what!"

"Stop! My right hand!!"

Okuyasu's left hand is set aflame and Okuyasu is freaking out. Fubuki tried to summon his Stand to douse out the fire. However, when Purple Rain tried to shoot a ball of water at Okuyasu's hand, it missed and it hit Koichi instead.

"Wh-what are you doing, Fubuki! I'm the one on fire!" Okuyasu shrieked. "Help me!"

Purple Rain went up close and tried to douse the fire again with a sheet made of gel-like water. But the water seemed to avoid the fire and it splashed on the floor instead.

"I'm not doing this on purpose!" Fubuki screamed. "Rohan's safety lock is preventing me to use my Stand properly! If I help you, that would be going against Rohan!"

The fire spread further along Okuyasu's arm.

"Okuyasu!!" Fubuki and Koichi screamed.

Josuke had enough and he finally entered the room

"So, you finally came out!" Rohan smiled.

"It feels more like 'chased out' if you ask me!" Fubuki said angrily.

Everyone could see Josuke has closed his eyes to avoid seeing Rohan's manuscript.

"Ah… that rather more childish and simple than Fubuki's original tactic, but it might be more effective," Rohan said. "This room is small and there's nowhere to run. If you can defeat me in a single blow, Heaven's Door will disappear, and Okuyasu won't commit suicide."

Josuke began to blindly charge straight towards Rohan. Okuyasu started lighting himself more on fire as Fubuki tried to stop him. Rohan threw several more pens nibs and they all struck Josuke's face. Josuke winced but he did not open his eyes.

"He did it!" Fubuki said. "We can win this!"

"Go, Josuke!" Koichi cheered.

"Hurry up, Josuke!!" Okuyasu screamed, still on fire.

Rohan is a bit impressed with Josuke's persistence, but this isn't good for him. At this rate, Josuke will come at him and it will be all over for Rohan.

If I were a character in a manga, what would I do in this situation? He pondered. How would I get him to open his eyes?

In less than a second, he got an idea. There was something written in both Koichi and Fubuki's files… Rohan looked at Koichi's page and read out what he found:

"That hairstyle is hilarious, Josuke! That fashion is twenty or thirty years out of date! You actually think that looks cool?!"

Koichi, Okuyasu, and Fubuki gasped. Josuke immediately stopped. His head is lowered but he definitely heard Rohan.

"Looks like he gets angry if I say that," Rohan said. "It's sort of hard to believe, but the file doesn't lie. It's 100% true."

The manga artist then read from Fubuki's file:

"Josuke, I prefer my steak medium rare, not mediocre hair!"

The atmosphere has gotten more menacing and when Josuke opened his eyes, they flash with rage.

"What… did you say just now?" he demanded.

"This can't be happening!" Fubuki cried. "He found out about that personality trait at the worst possible time!"

"J-Josuke, calm down!" Okuyasu screamed as the flames grew hotter.

"Just try and say that one more time, asshole!" Josuke shouted, glaring down at Rohan.

"You want me to say it again, hm?" Rohan smirked. "Sure! I'll whisper it in your ear as many times as you like."

Rohan stood up and pointed a finger at Josuke.

"You think that hairstyle is cool, but it doesn't really look good at all," he said. "It's lame!"

Josuke's eye twitched and Rohan is getting more smug by each second.

"Maybe it'll be a nice nest for a little family of birds, Josuke. That's just a maybe, though." For further insult, Rohan poked Josuke's hair and says, "Boing~"

The others nearly screamed when he did that. This provoked Josuke and Crazy Diamond unleashed its attack.

"DORARARARARARA!!"

Rohan got his manuscript faster than Crazy Diamond could attack. "Heaven's Door!"

The manuscript glowed brightly before Josuke's eyes. Rohan smirked in his victory.

I've won.

Suddenly, Rohan gets decked in the face by Crazy Diamond. Koichi and the others are surprised. Crazy Diamond's fist tore through the manuscript and the Stand proceed to pummeled Rohan, sending him flying to his shelf. His shelf got smashed and it collapsed. Rohan now is buried under the rubble.

"Wh-what was that?" Rohan said, completely stunned. His hair is messy and his face covered in blood. "I-I know that I opened his eyes and showed him the manuscript…!"

When the dust cleared, Okuyasu is no longer on fire and everyone's bodies have returned to normal. Except for Koichi, he still seemed to be missing a page.

Rohan crawled out under the rubble. "I'm certain that I showed it to him… So, why…?"

Everyone watched Josuke thrashing Rohan's furniture everywhere, looking for the manga artist.

"WHERE THE HELL DID YOU FLY OFF TO?!" he yelled. "SHOW YOUR BITCH ASS!!"

"No, he totally didn't see…" Okuyasu said.

"He didn't see?" Koichi is confused. "Do you mean that he's so worked up, he doesn't even know what he's doing?"

Everyone dodged out of the way as a chair nearly hit them.

"Correct," Fubuki said, calmly putting his glasses back on. "What we're witnessing is Josuke's blind rage in all its glory. This is the most furious I've seen him like this."

"Yeah… He's the kind of guy that loses sight of everything, even a comic, when someone disses his hair," Okuyasu added.

Josuke tossed Rohan's entire desk out the window.

"I had no idea he actually got this mad!" Koichi said. "This is way worse than I imagined!"

Koichi's file, which is lying near Rohan, returned to its owner.

"S-something about Josuke's personality that Koichi didn't know?" Rohan muttered. "It's information the file didn't contain! Why… why does he get so pissed off about his hairstyle? There has to be a reason…"

"I won't forgive anyone who disses my hair," Josuke growled, staring out the window he broke. "I won't keep quiet, no matter who it is!"

"The reason behind his hair… Ah!" Koichi remembered something. "I think I heard a little about it before. I wonder if that's why..."

"What are you talking about?" Okuyasu asked.

"It has to do with when Josuke was a kid, but…"

"I know that story, Josuke's mother told me about it when I was a kid," Fubuki said. "I didn't think she was being serious when she told me though…"

Fubuki explained the story the best he can remember.


When Josuke was five-years-old, he mysteriously came down with a high fever, and for fifty days, his family wasn't sure whether he'd live or die. One night, Tomoko was driving Josuke to the hospital in S-City but Morioh was struck by its worst blizzard in eighteen years.

Even with snow chains, Tomoko's car got stuck in the snow. The wheels just spun in place the car wouldn't move forward or in reverse. Tomoko considered finding a payphone to call for an ambulance but it was no use. At that time, Morioh was still underdeveloped and there wasn't any houses or other cars nearby, not even a payphone. She was trapped in a rural surrounded by snow.

That's when it happened.

From her rear-view mirror, Tomoko spotted a young boy with a pompadour hairstyle and he was wearing a school uniform. He was standing in the middle of the snow-laden road. Although Tomoko couldn't see his face clearly in the dark, she saw the boy was bleeding and covered in bruises.

When the boy saw the sick Josuke, he immediately took off his uniform top and, without hesitation, laid it under the rear wheels.

"Hurry up and step on the gas," he told Tomoko. "Once you get moving, don't stop. Just keep going... Or your tires will get stuck in the snow again."

Tomoko started the engine and the boy pushed the car with all his strength. Josuke was watching him… Tomoko's car finally drove away, leaving the mysterious boy behind.

Later, Tomoko tried to find the boy, but nobody knew who he was, not even with the help of Ryohei and the police department.


"... It all makes sense now," Koichi said after Fubuki finished the story. "Josuke thought of that mysterious boy as his personal hero. He was a stranger who inspired Josuke on how to act, and that's using kindness to help strangers… I didn't think Josuke would admire him so much that he copied his hairstyle. Insulting his hair is basically the same as insulting the memory of the guy."

"Huh… I had no idea something like that happened," Okuyasu said.

Fubuki nodded and crossed his arms.

"I think there's more to that story…" he mumbled.

Koichi looked and he suddenly shouted, "Careful! Rohan's holding a pen!"

Everyone saw Rohan was about to write something on a piece of paper.

"I-I just want to sketch write notes about that story before I lost consciousness," Rohan said. He is smiling. "What a wonderful story! I just experienced something amazing… I'm so happy. I don't get to experience something like this often. If I can make it work in my own project…"

"Still trying to exploit other people's lives for your manga?" Fubuki glared at him. "You are absolutely the worst."

Rohan just chuckled happily. "I don't care what you think, I'm so lucky. I'm so glad I moved to Morioh…"

"It's no use, Fubuki," Okuyasu said. "Until he dies, he'll keep trying to use anything as material for his manga, no matter how horrible the experience."

"At this point, you have to commend him," Koichi said. "Putting good and bad aside, I have to admire that attitude. He really is a super manga artist."

"THERE YOU ARE, MANGA ARTIST!!" Josuke screamed. He has found Rohan, who is quivering under the rubble. "I'M NOT DONE WITH YOU YET!!"

Rohan screamed.

*&*&*

Josuke and his friends received punishment for being extremely late for school that day. All four of them are sent out to stand in the hall, each of them carrying two heavy buckets of water.

"I can't believe it..." Fubuki grumbled. "My first tardiness... I am disgraced… If my mother hears about this, she'll kill me..."

"Well, I consider this as a reward," Josuke said. He is in a good mood again, so he couldn't help but grin.

Koichi squealed when Okuyasu lost his grip and dropped one of his buckets, spilling water everywhere.

Meanwhile, Rohan Kishibe's Pink Dark Boy went on hiatus for a month due to Rohan's mysterious injuries. Once it resumes publishing, the series will be switched to a monthly schedule.

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 24: That Time I Woke Up in My Childhood Friend's Body

Fubuki was invited to Josuke's home to help his friend study for a big Math test in two days. He was also invited to sleepover that night; his uncle had to take Fubuki's grandmother, who had broken her hip when she tripped, to a hospital in the city and they'll be staying there overnight. Meanwhile, Tomoko has to attend a community meeting in the evening.

"How come you'll let Fubuki stay for the night, but I'm not allowed to sleep over at Okuyasu's place?" Josuke asked.

"Because I know you and Okuyasu will stay up all night and play games, and not even open a single textbook," Tomoko said. "Besides, Fubuki is a more responsible kid, that's why I trust him."

After long hours of studying, Josuke was glad it's over and he can finally relax. He tried to convince Fubuki to play a video game with him

"... I never played a video game before," Fubuki said.

"I'll teach you!" Josuke said with enthusiasm. "I'm no master but I can teach you the basics."

Fubuki isn't fully interested but he will give it a try. Josuke put on Super Smash Bros and gave Fubuki the controller. The game is turned on and Fubuki has to pick a character.

"Since you're a beginner, I recommend you use Kirby," Josuke instructed.

"Which one is Kirby?" Fubuki asked.

"The pink puffball."

"How fitting… a childish-looking character for little children."

Josuke is mildly offended at that remark. He winced as he watched Fubuki get defeated multiple times. Even Fubuki is getting frustrated.

"Why do I keep dying?!" he hissed.

He's more horrible in games than I am! Josuke covered his mouth so he won't laugh.

Fubuki doesn't want to play the game anymore so he handed the controller back to Josuke. The pomp-haired teen played a different game, which appeared to be a Gradius -like Shoot 'em up, while Fubuki went to sit in a sofa.

Through sheer luck and effort, Josuke finally beat the game.

"I did it… HOT DAMN, I ACTUALLY DID IT!" Josuke exclaimed, jumping up. "I've been playing this damn game for years but I never made it to the final boss! This scrub has become a man! Fubuki, did you see--"

Josuke turned around and realized Fubuki hasn't been watching him play. He was more preoccupied with a book he's reading.

"Are you kidding me?!" Josuke said.

"Huh?" Fubuki looked up. "Oh, good for you."

"At least don't make it sound half-assed!" Josuke then grumbled as he put away his games. He wished Fubuki is more fun.

They noticed it is now 10 o'clock and it is time for bed. Tomoko has not come yet.

"Do you wanna take a bath first?" Josuke asked. "I have to go get your futon."

"Sure," Fubuki said. "Ah, I forgot to bring my shampoo…"

"You can use my mine if you want!"

Inside the bathroom, Fubuki is washing his body under the shower. He is thinking of his grandmother, wondering if she would recover soon.

The bathroom door suddenly opened and Josuke entered, carrying a bath towel.

"You forgot your towel--" Josuke stopped when Fubuki threw the bar of soap at him.

"G-get out!" Fubuki blushed, covering up his naked body. "I already have a towel!"

Josuke slammed the door behind him. When Fubuki is finished with the shower, he dried himself and put on his pajamas. He then came to Josuke's bedroom where he'll be sleeping; Josuke had set up a futon right next to his bed. He's already dressed in a simple shirt and pajama bottoms.

"I don't see why you to have to be shy about me seeing your butt," Josuke said. "I've already seen what you already looked like naked. It's not that impressive."

"That was nine years ago," Fubuki huffed. "Pervert."

Fubuki removed his glasses and settle down on the futon. Josuke yawned and flopped on his bed.

"Do you have any shoelaces I can borrow for tonight?" Fubuki asked.

"Shoelaces?" Josuke said, confused. "Why do you want them?"

"I have to tie my feet to your bed, just in case I start sleepwalking."

Josuke did not know this. "You actually sleepwalk?!"

"Sometimes," Fubuki replied. "One time I ended sleepwalking outside of my home before I woke up. If I hadn't, I might have walked right into the middle of the street or something…"

"That's scary," Josuke shivered. "Hang on…"

Josuke found a single shoelace and tied it around Fubuki's foot. Then he tied the other end to the leg of his bed. This way, if Fubuki does start sleepwalking in the middle of the night, Josuke can sense the bed being pulled and he will wake up just in time.

"I'm sorry for the inconvenience," Fubuki apologized.

"Nah. This is actually exciting, you know," Josuke grinned as he sat on his bed. "You remember when we only had one sleepover when we're kids?"

Fubuki can only vaguely remember. "Yeah… that was one time, right?"

"Yup. I wonder why we never had one again?"

"Probably has something to do with my mother…" Fubuki mumbled. He went to lie down on the futon.

As soon as Josuke climbed under his blankets, he cuddled with a familiar stuffed bear wearing a polka-dot ribbon around its neck. Fubuki saw this and he gave Josuke a disapproving look.

"What are you, a toddler?" Fubuki criticized him.

"Hey, Onodera gave it to me," Josuke said. "Besides, when was the last time you gave me a gift?"

"Expect one from me on your birthday… When is it again?"

"On the 20th of June."

"Right. Goodnight, Josuke."

"Night, Fubuki."

Josuke turned off the lights and the room plunged into darkness.

"I just realized this will be the first time we get to celebrate my birthday together," Josuke spoke softly. Fubuki can hear him. "When we first met, it was a month after my birthday… I'm glad my grandpa took me on that camping trip. I got to meet you."

"... You saved me," Fubuki reminded him.

"Well, technically, my grandpa was the one who called the rescue team."

"But you were the one who found me…" Fubuki recalled that night when he was lost and alone, shivering from the cold. "I guess that's why I…"

He immediately stopped.

"That's why what?" Josuke asked.

"... Never mind, it's just something really stupid," Fubuki dismissed it. "Let's get some sleep. We have to go to school early tomorrow so we can study more."

Josuke groaned. "Do we have to?"

Fubuki ignored him and went asleep immediately. However, he later woke up in the middle of the night when he felts his pajama bottoms were tight and warm for some reason.

He realized that he has a boner.

Fubuki is conflicted; this unwanted 'visitor' won't go away unless he rubs it out… but Josuke is sleeping, unaware, right next to him. It is just too wrong.

Fubuki can't hold it any longer. He reached down inside his pants and did his business.

Now I'M the pervert here, he thought, ashamed at himself.

He soon started to feel good. His back arched and his toes curled. He covered his mouth with one hand, keeping his moans at minimum volume… Somehow, having Josuke sleeping just one foot away and the risk of discovery became such a turn-on for him. It reminded him of the stories of "personal business" his classmates from his old school used to share with each other. His mind began to wander and, to his horror, Rohan materialized from his imagination.

The sly and arrogant manga artist is sitting on the edge of Josuke's bed. He is resting his chin on his hand and he is smirking down at him, enjoying the view.

"What a filthy brat… touching yourself while your friend is asleep," he said. "But that expression you have, it has such pure ecstasy, it makes me want to sketch it as material for my manga."

That was when Fubuki's vision went white. An intense sensation was released.

"AAAAAHHH~...!!"

Fubuki's scream woke Josuke.

"What is it?!" Josuke asked. He didn't turn on the lights. "Fubuki, are you okay? Why did you scream?"

Fubuki quickly pulled up his pants to cover himself.

"I… I was having a scary dream," he panted. He wasn't far from the truth.

Josuke looked at Fubuki's face. "Whoa, you're sweating and shaking… It must have been an awful one."

"Y-yeah…"

"Was it about your cousin? The one got killed by Angelo?"

Josuke is now wearing a concerned expression and Fubuki did not have the heart to tell him the exact truth.

"Y… yeah," he lied. "I sometimes have dreams of his death…"

Josuke seemed to believe him. Fubuki rolled over to his side and tried to close eyes, pretending to go to sleep. He felt a huge weight on his futon and when he glanced back, he saw Josuke was trying to lie down next to him.

"Wh-what are you doing?" Fubuki stammered, blushing hotter.

"I had a bad dream once," Josuke said softly. There is a deep sadness in his eyes. "I dreamt that you suddenly disappeared and went somewhere far away… like you did before when we're kids…"

Fubuki gazed at him. "I'm not going anywhere."

Josuke smiled, feeling much better. He wrapped his arm around Fubuki's slender waist, making the latter blush.

"Then you won't mind if I sleep right next to you?" he grinned. "I can keep you safe from your bad dreams."

Fubuki secretly hoped Josuke won't notice the boner under his pants. He still hasn't gotten rid of it.

"Wh-what is wrong you?" Fubuki demanded. "We're not little kids anymore… and besides, doesn't it feel weird to you that you're sleeping next to a boy?"

"You're red as a lobster… that's cute," Josuke chuckled. He leaned forward, his face just inches close to Fubuki's. "I don't think it's weird. We're childhood friends, so this is okay…"

Fubuki said nothing and looked away from him, his back to his friend. Sometimes, he doesn't know who is more innocent--Josuke or Okuyasu.

Josuke has fallen asleep rather quickly, though he kept his arm around Fubuki's waist. Fubuki's heart is pounding and his entire body is blushing; Josuke is breathing down on his neck and it feels so warm, it's making Fubuki body ache. The longer-haired teen tried to crawl away but Josuke instinctively hugged him harder.

Fubuki stared down his pants, his thighs are sticky right now but he won't be able to clean himself in the bathroom until morning. He'll just have to sleep in his mess all night. An awkward and uncomfortable feeling fell over him; sleeping next to a boy is completely different for Fubuki.

He was already bad at opening up with other people, and it got worse when he found out he's gay two years ago. Fubuki became afraid of being openly affectionate to another boy. He remembered how painfully isolated and sexually frustrated he felt being the only gay kid in an all-boys middle school. Any desire he felt another male student was gone in a day.

Fubuki knew why Josuke is doing this--like the meaning of his name, Josuke protects the people he cares about. He is both strong and kind, and Crazy Diamond's healing power proves that. Josuke also worries Fubuki; while the Higashikata boy isn't as reckless as Okuyasu but he is incapable of healing himself so he gets hurt a lot in the fight… and he hides the pain behind a reassuring smile. Even if it annoys Josuke but Fubuki has to keep close an eye on him to make sure he doesn't get killed. Two months ago, they were awkward strangers but now they are a little bit closer than before...

Josuke's grip finally loosened so Fubuki was able to carefully move out from under his arm without awakening him. He stared down at Josuke's sleeping form. Stray strands of Josuke's pomp began sticking out and his chest rose for every breath he takes in.

For a boy turning almost sixteen-years-old, puberty (combined with the Joestar genes) was generous to Josuke. Even though he's wearing a simple shirt, Fubuki could tell Josuke has a good body; there is muscle in the obvious places, with some softness in his shoulders and body. His face is soft too. Fubuki can't believe this is the same dopey-looking kid from his old neighborhood, who managed to grow taller than him.

Fubuki suddenly has a desire to kiss his lips and touch his face, but he brought himself back to bitter reality.

Pull yourself together, you're just gonna make things more awkward… he told himself sadly. Things are already fine the way they are now… why ruin a friendship after it was just fixed?

Fubuki left Josuke to sleep on the futon while he goes takes Josuke's bed. Lying on his back, he stared at the ceiling before drifting off to sleep.

*&*&*

It is another normal morning at Budogaoka High School. Yasuho Onodera usually comes to school early and today, she crossed paths with her classmate Yukako Yamagishi.

"Hey, Yukako," Onodera greeted her. "Has your hair gotten fully better?"

"Yeah, it did," Yukako replied quietly. "No more white hairs."

Onodera smiled at her. "By the way, I noticed you looking at Koichi Hirose from afar the other day…"

"Oh, you did?" Yukako looked away, blushing lightly.

"Did you like him or something?"

"Yeah… I do."

"That's great! I knew him from middle school, he's a good guy!" Onodera said. "If you like, I can help set you two up."

Yukako's fingers fidgeted. Her eyes are filled with gloom. "That's… There's no need. I'm just fine watching him from afar. Thank you for your help, though."

Yukako walked away. Onodera wondered if there is something wrong with her. She then noticed another fellow female student from her class. She is sitting alone in a bench and writing into a pink notebook covered in lemon stickers, blissfully unaware of her surroundings.

The girl is named Miki Ichikawa and she seemed to be a fan of the kogal fashion--flashy accessories, small skirt, and loose socks. She even wore a cardigan over her uniform.

"There's Ichikawa," Onodera muttered. "I wonder what she's writing…?"

Onodera walked over to Ichikawa. She peeked over her shoulder and tried to read what she's writing, but she noticed her and she screamed.

"Class president!!" she yelled, jumping several feet into the air and dropping her notebook. "I wasn't doing anything bad, I swear!"

"Whoa, relax!" Onodera said, holding up her hands. "Sorry for scaring you, but I was wondering what you're doing here?"

Ichikawa made a nervous laugh as she crouched down to pick up her notebook. "Oh, you know the usual… Just writing my Pink Dark Boy fanfics."

"Your what?"

Ichikawa showed her a page: There is a drawing of what looked like glamourous versions of two characters from Rohan Kishibe's manga embracing each other, while they're surrounded by bubbles. There is a little story underneath it, but Onodera didn't want to read it. She can already tell it's extremely explicit.

"Th-that's… quite a hobby you have there, Ichikawa," Onodera said as sweat rolled down on her face.

Ichikawa put her notebook inside her bag.

"Anyways… What's the progress between you and Josuke Higashikata?" she inquired.

Onodera blushed and stared down at the ground.

"I… I think we're becoming good friends," she said shyly. "He came by once to see me practice with my track team. Not to mention, he started calling me by my first name…"

"He totally likes you!" Ichikawa said.

"I-it's too early to assume! And… even if he does like me, there's still one little problem… It's Fubuki Kurosawa."

"What about Fubuki?"

"There are rumors flying around…" Onodera lowered her voice again. "That Kurosawa's so protective to Josuke, he doesn't like girls being interested in him."

"So, what? He's like a spoiled cat who won't share his tuna?" Ichikawa cracked a joke.

"Ichikawa, this is serious! I'd really like to hang out with Josuke more often, but every time I try to meet him in school, Kurosawa is always by his side."

At the moment, Koichi arrived with Okuyasu. They spotted Onodera talking to Ichikawa.

"Good morning, Onodera!" Koichi greeted.

Okuyasu went up to Onodera. He looked tired and desperate. "Hey, Class Prez! Can I look at your homework for a bit?"

"No way, you have to do your own homework," Onodera, wagging her finger.

"Come on, help a guy out! I'm just missing a couple of answers!"

Onodera noticed something is strange. "Um… doesn't Josuke and Kurosawa usually come to school with you guys?"

"Well, Fubuki slept over at Josuke's place last night," Koichi said. "I think they'll be coming to school together."

This interests Ichikawa and she leaned closer. The gears in her head started spinning.

"Reeaallyyy?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Yeah, Josuke needed his help to study for a big Math test tomorrow," Koichi explained. "I'm nervous too. If I don't so well, I'll have to take supplementary classes."

"Jeez… extra classes sound rough," Okuyasu yawned.

"You better not fall asleep during class, Nijimura," Onodera warned him.

Everyone heard a loud commotion coming from the school gate. They turned to see Josuke and Fubuki arriving together… but the atmosphere between them is unfriendly and hostile. Josuke looked livid this morning while Fubuki appeared stiff and emotionless, though they can tell he's furious by the tone of his voice.

"You… have a lot of nerve… to make us come this late to school," Fubuki said coldly. "We're supposed to be here fifteen minutes ago, but we wasted half an hour so you can groom your hair."

"Oh, don't blame this on me!" Josuke growled. "You didn't have to wait for me, you could have left without me!"

Both Josuke and Fubuki had woken in such a bad mood that they started lashing at each other over minor problems.

"I was going to make some bento lunches for us, but nooo… I couldn't wake up early because SOMEONE forgot to set the alarm clock," Fubuki continued, fuming. "Not to mention… I discovered you used my toothpaste this morning. Use your own toothpaste and stop stealing from others."

"W-well… WHO was it that used up all my remaining shampoo last night?"

"You said I can use it, you can't have nice hair like this without effort," Fubuki shot back.

"What? You think this long hair actually looks cool on you?" Josuke tugged on Fubuki's hair.

"Who do you think YOU are, talking bad about other people's hair?!"

The others watched as Josuke and Fubuki bicker back and forth like children. It got so bad that their English teacher Miyazaki, who just came by, had to put a stop to it.

"Alright, break it up, you two!" Miyazaki said, trying to put on a friendly smile. "No fighting on school grounds, remember? Whatever disagreement you have, take it to the gym instead and settle it with a ball game! It'll be fun!"

"YOU'RE NOT OUR GYM TEACHER, SO BUTT OUT!" both Josuke and Fubuki yelled at him.

Miyazaki gasped and touched his heart, clearly hurt by their words. He burst into comical sobs and ran away.

"I don't need this from you!" Josuke yelled at Fubuki one last time before walking away. "I'm going to class!"

"I hope you fail in your Math test tomorrow," Fubuki said, walking off to the opposite direction.

Koichi and the others just stood in their spot, utterly shocked.

"Wh-what on earth just happened between them?" Koichi asked.

"I think it's one of those downsides of having a sleepover," Onodera said. "Something tells me Josuke and Fubuki aren't used to each other's personal habits despite being friends."

"They used to be close friends when they were kids, but they didn't know each other that long," Koichi said. "Not to mention, Fubuki only came back to Morioh this year."

"Childhood friends, huh…?" Ichikawa said, rubbing her chin.

*&*&*

Josuke is still fuming about Fubuki all morning, he can barely concentrate on his lessons. Even Koichi started to notice his sour attitude. Josuke doesn't understand why Fubuki woke up in such a bad mood today; he wondered if Fubuki did not have enough sleep or he disliked sleeping on the same futon with him.

But still, he's the one being wrong here! he thought. I tried to ask him what's wrong, but he refuses to answer me!

Lunch period came, and before he can meet up with their friends in their usual hangout, Josuke stopped at a water fountain outside the boys' bathroom. As soon as he takes a drink, someone surprised him with a hug.

"Josuke darling!!" Higura greeted him.

Josuke spat out some water and he coughed several times.

"H-Higura?!" he almost screamed in fear. "Wh-what do you want?

"I want to eat lunch with you today," Higura giggled, giving him a flirtatious smile.

She is carrying two bento boxes. She has her arms wrapped around his arm, clinging to him. Josuke tried to pull away, but she held onto him tighter.

"Josuke darling, when is your birthday again?" she asked him. "I was thinking the two of us can go out together. Like watch a movie or go to a club."

"December 31," Josuke lied quickly. He tried to get away from her, but he ended up dragging her along. "L-look, I just want to eat with my friends…"

Higura stroked his pompadour. "Your hairdo's incredibly sexy today."

This seemed to catch Josuke's attention that he smiled. Higura knew saying good things about his hair would distract him.

"Really?" Josuke smirked. "At least I know someone who appreciates… unlike Fubuki."

"I know, right? He doesn't see the beauty of anything!" she said. "That's why he needs glasses!"

Josuke laughed. He did not mind her making fun of him, he's still mad at his friend. Higura twirled her finger seductively on his chest and he stopped laughing. He got an idea of how to get rid of her.

"Hey, you wanna play hide-and-seek?" Josuke smirked. "You count to twenty and I'll go hide somewhere."

Higura seemed to like this idea. "What do I get if I find you~?"

"You win a free date with me tonight."

Higura's jaw dropped and she went scarlet. She turned around and closed her eyes. As she started counting, Josuke hurriedly ran inside the boys' bathroom and locked the door. Instead of hiding inside one of the stalls, he ran to the other end of the room and opened the window. Even though the bathroom is on the second floor, he believed he can try to get down without hurting himself. He grabbed two toilet plungers and used them to stick to the wall of the building. He has seen cartoon characters use toilet plungers to scale walls and even skyscrapers. The plungers' suction strength will be able to hold his weight. He managed to get through the window when he heard Higura finished counting.

"Ready or not, here I come, darling!" Higura called.

Josuke started descending. He can't believe this plan worked. However, he was halfway down when the suction cups gave away.

Josuke fell with a scream… Lucky for him, he landed on top of someone who is right below him. He looked down on the poor person who broke his fall, and it is a girl he has never met before. On the ground next her is a box full of handcrafted jewelry. They must have been knocked out from her hands and have scattered the contents everywhere.

"Oh, god! I'm sorry!" Josuke apologized. He helped the girl up and Crazy Diamond fixed her injuries.

Ichikawa blinked. She looked at Josuke and realized what had happened to her.

"Holy cow! It's raining men!" she grinned. "Hallelujah!"

Josuke is surprised by her reaction; he expected her to get mad at him for falling on top of her but she easily brushed it off.

"Um… are you okay?" he asked her.

"Just confused why you suddenly dropped out from the sky," Ichikawa replied cheerfully. "But other than that, I'm perfectly fine! Buuut… can you help pick up my merch from the ground?"

"Oh. Sure thing."

Josuke and Ichikawa picked up all kinds of rings, amulets, and bracelets and placed them all inside the box. It was a good thing that none of them were broken.

"I think I've seen you before," Josuke remembered. "I saw you hang out with Yasuho Onodera. Are you two friends?"

"I'm Miki Ichikawa, from Class 1-A!" Ichikawa cheerfully saluted herself. "And yes, I'm friends with Onodera! And I know who you are since I'm classmates with your friends Fubuki Kurosawa and Okuyasu Nijimura!"

"What are you doing with that box of jewelry?" Josuke asked.

"I'm selling these items," Ichikawa answered. She looked around nervously, but it was only her and Josuke. "I wasn't supposed to sell them on school grounds… you won't tell the teachers on me, right?"

"No way! I was thinking of buying one from you--"

Josuke was joking but Ichikawa thought he was being serious.

"You wanna buy my jewelry?" Ichikawa exclaimed in a loud voice. "Why didn't you say so in the beginning?!"

Giggling, she opened her box and revealed all the fancy jewelry and accessories, designed and crafted by her own hands.

"I buy my own materials and then I crafted them into beautiful pieces of work," she told him. "Each of them is made for a specific reason. If you want to increase your luck with money, a citrine ring is for you! If you want better intuition when it comes to gambling, I suggest either aventurine or tourmaline amulet! Are you an athlete? An earring made of carnelian or smokey quartz can boost your physical energy! How about a bracelet with a gemstone based on your zodiac sign?"

"No, I'm not interested in any of those," Josuke said, but he adds in his thoughts, But that citrine ring might come in handy for later.

"Can I ask a random question?" Ichikawa asked. "Since you know Fubuki Kurosawa, do you know why he's in a bad mood all morning?"

Josuke hesitated. "It's just something dumb between us, but we'll get over it. But then again… I don't want to apologize to him since he started it."

"Hmm… would you mind if I suggest something that can help you two get along?"

Ichikawa set her box down and pulled out a small ornate case from her pocket.  She opened it and showed him a pair of bracelets.

They are made of red-colored wool threads clasped together by twin golden hearts. Inside each golden heart is a stone. The first stone is rose quartz and the other appeared to be chrysocolla.

"These are my special bracelets," Ichikawa told him. She has a mischievous glint in her eye. "While they're simple in design, they can help bring two people together. The love stones I put in them are carefully chosen… A rose quartz helps you to open up to and receive love and help build trust in others. Combined with other love stones, further enhances the energy. Rose quartz with chrysocolla is used to calm a rocky relationship."

"L-love stones?!" Josuke sputtered, blushing. "Wait a minute, but I only like him!"

"They go well with friends and family members!" Ichikawa insisted. "I made this last week. I was inspired by the idea of the red thread of fate while making a friendship bracelet. Kinda cool, huh?"

"I guess so… You're telling me that I have to wear one and get Fubuki to wear the other? Guys don't go around wearing matching bracelets with their friends!"

"You don't have to show it off if you don't want to, just hide it under your sleeves. You can present the bracelets as a token of peace and friendship between you two."

"But I didn't even do anything wrong to him!"

"Just take them! Just let him know you appreciated the hard work and time he gave to be with you, alright?"

Josuke groaned. He is going to look ridiculous wearing matching bracelets with another person. But he also wanted to be on good terms with Fubuki again; he really wants to pass the Math test tomorrow.

"Are they cheap?" Josuke asked.

Ichikawa looked at him seriously. "They cost twelve thousand yen."

"Twelve thousand…" Josuke sputtered. "That's daylight robbery!"

"Hahaha, I was just messing with you! They actually cost a thousand yen."

"Why I oughta--" Josuke grumbled but he paid her.

*&*&*

Josuke peeked around the wall. He found his friends already eating and chatting behind the school gym. Koichi is listening to Okuyasu talking about a funny story about how he tried to give his dad a bath, while Fubuki is reading from his book as usual.

Josuke calmed himself down; he's nervous about approaching Fubuki. He inhaled a deep breath and showed himself.

"Hey, guys, sorry I'm late," he said in a casual tone. "Higura couldn't get off my back."

"She's annoying you again?" Koichi asked.

"She sounds like a female dog in heat," Okuyasu stated.

Fubuki didn't say anything but he acknowledged Josuke's presence. Josuke is glad he didn't say anything mean… yet.

Josuke settling down on the grass between Fubuki and Okuyasu. Okuyasu tossed him a curry bread wrapped in plastic, which he got from the school cafeteria.

"You can have it," Okuyasu said. "I still don't like spicy food."

"Thanks, man, I'm starving," Josuke said as he unwrapped his bread. He turned to Fubuki, who still has eyes on his book. He carefully prodded Fubuki on the arm. "Hey, hey… are you upset?"

"I am not upset," Fubuki replied coolly.

Josuke paused and he prodded his arm again.

"Are you sure you're not upset?"

"I am not upset."

Josuke paused again. He raised his hand again…

"What do you WANT?" Fubuki demanded. An angry vein popped in his forehead.

Josuke spoked quickly, "Wanna-wear-matching-friendship-bracelets-with-me-as-a-token-of-peace?!"

Koichi and Okuyasu looked at each other. Fubuki didn't hear him at first.

"... What?" Fubuki asked.

"W… wanna wear matching friendship bracelets with me as a token of peace?" Josuke repeated himself slowly. His cheeks are red. He knew it sounded so stupid.

Fubuki stared at him and he dropped his book.

"AHAHAHAHA!!" Okuyasu burst into laughter. "Oh, my god, Josuke, are you nuts?! Only little girls wear friendship bracelets!"

Josuke blushed harder and he presented the pair of bracelets made of red thread. Okuyasu took one look at it and he laughed so hard, he started coughing and Koichi patted his back. Fubuki gave Josuke a chilling stare.

"Are… you making fun of me?" he said.

"No way! I wanted to do something nice to make up for being a bad host!" Josuke said. "Come on, you don't hate me that much because of one bad morning, right?"

Fubuki rubbed his forehead.

Ugh, he looks like a puppy right now… he sighed. He looks so cute when he does that...

Fubuki lets Josuke tie the first bracelet around his left wrist, and helped Josuke with the other bracelet for his right fist.

"I feel like 8-years-old again…" Fubuki said. "This… is actually nice."

Josuke beamed. "So, you're gonna help me study for my Math test…?"

Koichi sighed to himself in relief; he's glad that those two are getting along again.

However, the moment is ruined when Higura suddenly appeared and wrapped her arms tight around Josuke's neck.

"I found you at last, darling!" she exclaimed.

"Ack! Higura!" Josuke choked. "I can't breathe!"

"Oi, get off him," Fubuki ordered. "Go after someone else instead. You're such an eyesore sometimes."

Higura glared at him and she let go of Josuke. "Oh my… I'm sorry if my presence hurts your eyes… I'll fix them for you!"

Higura pulled out her whip. Before she can give Fubuki a lash, Josuke's hand caught the whip.

"Hey! I told you to leave my friends alone!" Josuke yelled.

That was when Higura noticed the red bracelet around Josuke's wrist. She even caught Fubuki wearing a matching one.

"Wh--what is that?!" she demanded. "Why are you and that prick wearing matching bracelets?!"

"That's because we're friends!" Josuke told her, now getting more pissed at her. "You wouldn't get it because you don't have any!"

Higura is speechless she is genuinely hurt by his statement. Her entire body trembled and she rushed off. Koichi and Okuyasu are shocked by this.

"Whoa, I thought she was going to hit you or something!" Koichi said.

"M-me too!" Josuke said, clutching his heart in fear. "I thought she was gonna force me to become her love slave again."

Fubuki is looking at the bracelet in his wrist again, feeling disgusted with himself when he remembered that he masturbated next to a sleeping Josuke. A shameful person like him shouldn't wear a nice gift. He was about to remove the bracelet but, for some reason, it won't unlock.

"Huh… that's weird," he said to himself. "Maybe the clasp locked too strong?"

Everyone finished their lunch and they went back to their respective classes. When fifth period rolled in, Fubuki and Okuyasu went to the chemistry lab. During class, Fubuki could feel his head getting hot and dizzy. He wondered if he's been inhaling the fumes from the chemicals they were burning. Before he knew it, Fubuki collapsed on the floor and fainted.

*&*&*

Josuke opened his eyes. The first thing he noticed that he's lying on the bed in the nurse's office. He wondered how long he has passed out. He checked the time on the clock of the wall.

Sixth period is almost over? Dammit, I missed it! He thought. Well, today's Home Economics… that's Okuyasu's best subject, he can handle it without my help…

Another bed next to him is occupied and the curtains are closed around it to prevent people from disturbing whoever is resting. The nurse is nowhere to be seen, she must have gone somewhere else.

Josuke realized he could hardly breathe. Has his uniform gotten tighter? He tried to stand up and he realized he has grown taller.

What the heck… what's going on with me? He wondered. Why do I feel weird?

As he unbuttoned the front of his uniform, he caught his reflection in mirror… and he sees Josuke looking back at him.

Josuke froze and his eyes widened. He touched his face and he realized the reflection isn't playing tricks on him.

"N-no way!" he gasped. Why am I Josuke?! I'm not dreaming, am I? This has got to be a dream!

He heard a groan coming from the occupied bed. Someone pulled the curtains aside and it's revealed to be Fubuki wearing Josuke's uniform, which is loose and baggy on him.

"Jeez, I can't believe I fainted during Social Studies…" he muttered. "Shit… why is my vision so awful?"

Fubuki then noticed Josuke standing in front of him.

"Don't freak out…" Josuke spoke. "But I think something's happened to us--"

"What are you?" Fubuki asked.

"It's me, Fubuki."

"Bullshit! I know what Fubuki looks like!" Fubuki angrily looked around the room. "Where are you, Hazamada?! Are you using Surface to pull a prank on me?!"

"This is really me," Josuke insisted. He tried to move closer but Fubuki backs away from him.

"Get away, you clone freak!"

Josuke pulled on Fubuki's ear. "I said don't freak out!"

"Ow! Let go, you jackass--" Fubuki forgot about the pain when he recognized that familiar pull and the tone that the other boy used. "Holy shit... you are Fubuki…"

"And you're not who you think you are."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Josuke gave Fubuki his eyeglasses that were sitting on a desk next to the bed. "Here, this will help you see better."

Fubuki's shaky hands put on the glasses to his face. Fubuki then walked in front of the mirror, and his jaw dropped.

"I know," Josuke sensed his shock. "We seemed to be--"

"OH MY GOD!!" Fubuki screamed in perfect English as he tugged on his long hair. "I'm a nerd!"

Josuke is offended. "Oi..."

"MY POMPADOUR'S GONE!!" Fubuki continued to freak out in comical horror. "I'm practically naked!! I want my body back!"

"Calm down, we're gonna get to the bottom of this," Josuke said as he grabbed Fubuki by the shoulders. "I believe we are under attack by an enemy Stand… but that's impossible, Akira Otoishi is in jail. Who else is after us now?"

Fubuki got a brilliant idea and he snapped his fingers.

"Hear me out. So, you're in my body, and I'm in your body…" he began. "Why don't we…"

He pointed himself and at Josuke, and clapped his hands together.

"Yes, I see what you're saying," Josuke said. "Maybe we can switch back with a jolt."

"Okay! You go over there, and I go over here."

The two boys moved to opposite directions away from each other. They get ready.

"Okay, now when I say 'go', we'll run into each other," Fubuki said.

Josuke nodded.

"Go!"

Both of them rushed to each other. Their bodies smashed right into each other and they fell down. To no one's surprise, their bodies did not switch back and the only they accomplished is bumping their heads.

"Welp… we tried," Fubuki groaned. "That was stupid."

"I can't believe I did that…" Josuke grumbled. "That was the dumbest thing I've ever done…"

As Fubuki fixed the glasses, he noticed something different about the red bracelet in his wrist.

"Fubuki, check your bracelet!" he shouted.

Josuke did as he was told and his eyes widened. The threads of the bracelet have been sewn into his skin. He opened a drawer of the nurse's desk and found scissors.

He tried to cut the thread but the scissors' blades seemed to have to effect on it. Cutting it seemed impossible.

"Josuke…" said 'Josuke', who is actually Fubuki inside his friend's body. "I think… the bracelets are the cause for this freaky situation."

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 25: Ichikawa's Bangles, Pt 1

Josuke and Fubuki woke up in the nurse's office after fainting in their classrooms have discovered that their bodies have somehow switched with each other.

'Josuke' tried to pull and even bite into the bracelet wrapped around his left wrist, but the for some strange reason, the bracelet's red threads that have been mysteriously stitched into his skin don't seem to hurt him.

Meanwhile, 'Fubuki' continued looking at himself in the mirror which is hanging on a wall, quietly weeping as he grabbed his new long raven locks.

"I look so weird with long hair!" he said. He temporarily took off the glasses from his face. His eyes squinted as looked around the room. "Holy shit, your eyesight's so bad, Fubuki! Hey... Isn't this weird that we have a mirror in a school infirmary?"

"Who cares about that?" Josuke muttered darkly. "We have to figure out how to remove these bracelets. If I can't cut them normally, I'll use my Stand. Purple Rain!"

He waited but his Stand did not appear. Confused, he summoned his Stand again, and nothing happened.

"I can't bring out my Stand…" Josuke said in shock.

"Wait, if our bodies are switched, what if our Stands switched as well?" Fubuki asked. "Try calling out my Crazy Diamond, and I'll do the same with your Purple Rain."

Both boys faced each other and concentrated on their energy.

"Crazy Diamond!"

"Purple Rain!"

Their Stands still did not appear.

"Nothing's happened!" Fubuki said. "Why can't we use our Stands?"

"I think it's because of the power of these bracelets," Josuke said, holding up his hand. "They must be a Stand because there's no other explanation..."

Fubuki then realized something. "Wait a minute… That conniving flashy bitch! She must be a Stand user!"

"What are you talking about?" Josuke asked, narrowing his eyes.

Fubuki explained, "I got these bracelets from a chick named Miki Ichikawa and she said wearing them would help us get along."

"Ichikawa? The same girl from my class?" Josuke said. "She can't be an enemy, she gets easily distracted and always seem to write things in her notebook! We were in the same class since day one and she never showed signs of having a Stand."

"Maybe she just hid it from you," Fubuki said. "Stands are like your buttholes, you don't go around showing it other people."

"That's just perfect," Josuke sighed. "Class 1-A is basically a clubhouse for Stand users… There's me, Okuyasu, Onodera, Yukako… and now we're adding Ichikawa to the count. I swear if Mr. Miyazaki is a Stand user too..."

"Let's go find Ichikawa and get her to switch our bodies back to normal," Fubuki said. "I don't know why would she attacked us, but this Stand doesn't seem to have any negative effects on us…"

Josuke pressed his hand against his chest and he began breathing heavily through his mouth.

"Fubuki?! What happened?" 'Fubuki' asked, greatly concerned.

"I can't breathe…!"

Two upper buttons on the actual Fubuki's uniform, which hugged around Josuke's body so tight, popped out and they went flying. Fubuki managed to dodge one of the buttons.

"I can breathe again," Josuke said. "My uniform was tight around your big, stupid chest."

"Oh, come on, they're not that big--"

On comedic timing, the baggy pants of the Josuke's uniform slipped down from Fubuki's waist.

Fubuki squealed and blushed. "My pants fell off from your skinny body!"

"I'm not THAT skinny!"

"L-let's change uniforms before we have more weird accidents!"

"Good idea."

*&*&*

Sixth period has ended. Students who don't have club activities or cleaning duties started going home. 'Josuke' and 'Fubuki' hunted down for Ichikawa. They opened the door of Classroom 1-A and they found her cleaning up along with Okuyasu, Onodera, and Yukako, who are the only students left in the classroom.

"Yo, Josuke! Fubuki!" Okuyasu said while he was wiping the windows. "Fubuki, you missed sixth period."

"I know," Josuke said, feeling irritated.

"Huh? You know about that, Josuke?"

Josuke realized he made a mistake. Fubuki was going to tell Okuyasu the truth when Josuke stopped him and pulled him aside.

"We can't tell them that our bodies have switched," Josuke whispered.

"Why not?" Fubuki asked. "The only guys left here know we're Stand users."

"Yes, but Ichikawa's here too. If she is the enemy, we can't let her know that we're on to her. We'll just have to pretend everything's normal for now."

"You mean, like… you pretend you're me, and vice-versa?"

Josuke nodded. "Don't go overboard that it looks fake."

Fubuki cleared his throat and adjusted his glasses.

"Can we borrow Ichikawa for a bit?" Fubuki asked. "We require her… assistance."

He is putting on a snobby air in such a pretentious manner that Josuke wanted to smack him. Yukako and Onodera thought it was weird to hear Fubuki say it like that, but Okuyasu didn't notice the difference.

"Huh?" Ichikawa innocently glanced up from wiping the desks. "You need me for something?"

She's trying to be innocent, but we can see right through her fake smile, Josuke thought angrily.

"We're busy at the moment. It's our group's cleaning duty today," Onodera said. She turned to Fubuki. "Kurosawa, I just finished sweeping the floor, so grab a bucket and a mop."

"Who… m-me?" A confused Fubuki pointed a finger at himself.

"No, Josuke," Onodera replied. "Yes, I'm talking to you. Hurry up, now!"

"O-okay!"

Fubuki ran off while Josuke remains standing outside the classroom.

"You'll have to wait for Kurosawa and Nijimura to finish cleaning if you three are planning to go straight home afterward," Onodera said to, who she thinks, is Josuke.

"Can't be helped," Josuke said coolly.

Onodera noticed Josuke has completely buttoned up his jacket, instead of revealing his chest. She thought it was weird for him to cover up like that, but he looked rather mature… which she liked about him.

Okuyasu seemed strangely lazy and absentminded. The latter is trying to wipe the windows clean with a piece of cloth, but he's using it to slowly wipe down the walls instead. Josuke noticed that Okuyasu has dark circles under his eyes, a sign of fatigue.

Fubuki hastily came back, carrying a mop and a heavy bucket of water and soap. He zoomed across the room, mopping up the floor until he was finished in less than five minutes.

"Wow, I've never seen you clean so fast!" Onodera said, impressed.

"Hehe, thanks, Yasuho," Fubuki chuckled. You can thank my mom for pushing me to do chores. "I had plenty of experience."

Onodera stared at him. "... Why did you call me by my first name? You never did that before."

Fubuki froze from panic but he came up with an excuse.

"Oh, um…" he said nervously. "Just felt like it today."

"Well, since we're all done here... " Ichikawa spoke up as she picked up schoolbag. She started making her way out of the classroom. "I'll see you all tomorrow~"

Josuke placed a strong grip on her shoulder, preventing her to leave.

"Not. So. Fast," he told her in a chilly tone. He turned to Okuyasu. "Okuyasu, you'll have to go home without us."

"Sure," Okuyasu nodded before yawning. "I feel really sluggish as of late…"

Yukako already left without saying a word. Onodera is curious why Josuke and Fubuki decided to talk to Ichikawa, but she doesn't feel like investigating.

*&*&*

Josuke and Fubuki took Ichikawa behind the school so nobody else can interrupt them.

"Ooh, why did you bring me to this private place?" Ichika said with a coy smile. "You're not planning to do anything naughty to me, are you? I mean, it's always been a fantasy of mine to do it with two boys--"

"Drop the act, Ichikawa," Josuke said. "We know what you did."

She blinked, not understand him at first. "What are you talking about, Josuke?"

"He's not the actual Josuke, I am Josuke!" Fubuki told her. "That's Fubuki inside my body."

Ichikawa's eyes widened and her mouth popped open. She looked at one boy and then the other.

"Wait… are you serious?" she asked.

"Don't play dumb," Josuke hissed.

"Yeah, you're a Stand user, aren't you?" Fubuki holds up his hand to reveal the red bracelet around his wrist. "You tricked us into wearing these bracelets!"

In her shock, Ichikawa dropped her school bag and she backed up against a wall. She let out a horrified scream that Fubuki has to cover her mouth to keep her quiet.

"Why are you two in each other's bodies?!" she asked.

"Why are you asking us that?" Fubuki demanded. "YOU'RE the one who did this to us."

"I… I did this? But that's crazy, how would I know what I did?!"

"Wait, you don't know what a Stand is?" Josuke said in surprise. He turned to Fubuki. "She must be a new Stand user, Josuke."

"Were you struck by some arrow?" Fubuki asked her.

"Arrow? … Oh, yeah! I was hit by one last week!" Ichika replied.

"WHAT?" both boys said.

"Yeah, it was around evening on May 27th," Ichikawa explained. "I was at home, busy making new bracelets with expensive new gemstones I ordered from a magazine. I was interrupted by the ringing of my phone…"


Ichikawa said that after talking on the phone, she came back to her room to find her expensive gemstones missing. Before Ichikawa can look around for clues of burglary, an arrow came out of nowhere and pierced her in the chest.

She was knocked out for a moment and when she came to, she was lying on the floor and the arrow was pulled out from her. For some bizarre reason, her wound was healed. She then noticed a yellow 'person' made of electricity floating above her. The yellow 'person' introduced itself as Red Hot Chili Pepper and it told her what Stands are. He seemed a little disappointed with her.

"Looks like your Stand hasn't materialized yet," it said. "Maybe it will show itself one day. I'll have to find more allies to stop my meddling enemies!"

That was the last time Ichikawa saw Red Hot Chili Pepper.


"I thought I was having a weird dream, so I soon forgot about that guy," Ichikawa finished.

"May 27th… that was the day before Red Hot Chili Pepper showed up in my home," Fubuki said. "Akira Otoishi was trying to use the Arrow to make allies!"

"Looks like he wasn't lucky," Josuke said. "We have to inform Jotaro about this."

Ichikawa's surprise disappeared and she reverted back to her upbeat, bubbly personality.

"So, are you guys Stand users like me too?!" Ichikawa beamed. "I'm still confused about this Stand business, but it's like having a superpower, right?"

"Y-yeah, we can go with that…" Fubuki said. "There are more of us in this town."

Ichikawa is floored. "That's totally cool! Oooh, can I see your Stands?"

"We'd love to, but for some reason… we can't bring them out," Josuke said. "I think it has something to do with your bracelets, it may have activated your own Stand. We can't even remove them from our wrists."

"Really? Oh no…" She fell into dismay and clasped her face. "This is bad… This has never happened to me before."

"Never?" Fubuki asked. "So, you don't know how your Stand worked?"

"Nope! I'm so lost and new to this thing!"

"I don't believe… This is just great," Fubuki groaned. He crouched down and lowered his, breaking down and whining. "Now we don't know how to lift this power. We're trapped in each other's bodies forever… I can never graduate or get married like this..."

"Pull yourself together," Josuke said sharply. "I've already thought up a solution. There's only one way we can get out of this mess."

*&*&*

The three took a long walk to Budogaoka General Hospital. Fubuki has yet to explain the identity of the person they are going to visit. Fubuki and Ichikawa sat and waited while Josuke talked to a rude nurse at the reception desk. After that, they took an elevator to the third floor. Since they're the only ones inside, Ichikawa thought it would be an appropriate time to ask a simple question.

"So, since you're in each other's bodies…" she said. "... Have you seen each other's dicks yet?"

Fubuki blushed while Josuke remained stone-faced.

"G-gah! What kind of question is that?!" Fubuki sputtered.

"Judging by your reaction, I bet you haven't," Ichikawa said. "I bet Josuke is pretty big down there. I heard from Onodera that Josuke's dad is American, so Josuke has to be packing."

"The size of my willy isn't any of your goddamn business!" Fubuki snapped.

"Are you saying that because it's true, or the reason you have a big hairstyle is that you're compensating for something…"

Fubuki is provoked, thinking she was remarking about his hair. He raised his fist but he was held back by Josuke. The elevator stopped at their floor.

"You barely escaped with your life, motherfucker," Fubuki warned Ichikawa.

Josuke led the way and they came to a room. Inside, there is only one patient sitting on a bed near the window. He is sitting up and has a sketchbook on his lap. He seemed to be in the middle of drawing and, without looking up, can sense someone has entered his room.

"I told you, Nurse, I don't want any visitors," Rohan Kishibe muttered, frowning.

"Nice to see you still drawing, Sensei," Josuke said sarcastically.

Rohan's head shot up and he glared when he saw who came to see him.

"Josuke Higashikata and Fubuki Kurosawa," the manga artist stated. "Come to gloat while I'm injured and covered in bandages?" He then noticed the third person. "And who is this girl? I don't even know her."

"Aaaaaah!!" Ichikawa squealed. She pointed a finger at him and hopped on her feet. "Oh, my god! It's Rohan Kishibe of Pink Dark Boy!"

"You're a fan?" Rohan asked, raising an eyebrow.

"BIG fan!" Ichikawa grinned. At this, she pulled out her notebook from her bag. "I wrote a lot of fanfics of your characters! You might have received a couple of them from me in the past!"

"Oh, those… lovely stories were written by you?" Rohan said, putting on a smirk but his disgust is evident. "I'm flattered."

"Hey, Mr. Rohan, you wouldn't mind if I ask you for an autograph--?"

"We're not here for that," Josuke interrupted her. "Rohan, we've come to bargain with you."

"What?!" Fubuki nearly shouted. "Fubuki, is that the reason why you brought us here?"

"Why did you call him your name, Fubuki?" Rohan asked, getting suspicious.

"That's because I AM the real Fubuki," Josuke answered. "Josuke and I have our bodies switched by a Stand."

Rohan stared at him, letting this information sink in. Then he burst into laughter.

"… Is this true?" Rohan smirked.

"It is," Josuke said.

Rohan believed him after seeing the expressions on Josuke and Fubuki's faces, and he can definitely tell there is something between him.

"May I ask how did this happen?" he asked.

"She's the culprit," Fubuki said, gesturing towards Ichikawa. "Apparently her Stand is bound to these matching bracelets we're wearing… and it caused my body to switch with Fubuki's. Since she's a new Stand user, she doesn't know how her Stand works yet and today is the first discovery of her power."

"I see… And what do you want me to do?"

Josuke stepped forward. "We've come to ask permission from you… that you will use your Heaven's Door on Ichikawa so we can get an idea of her Stand."

"What?" Fubuki is surprised.

"Mr. Rohan's a Stand user too?!" Ichikawa gasped, getting more excited. "Hey, what's Heaven's Door?"

"In return," Josuke continued. "As soon as the Stand is removed, and our bodies return to normal, Josuke will use Crazy Diamond to heal your injuries."

"OVER MY DEAD BODY!" Fubuki shouted. "This damn mangaka attacked you and Koichi, and stole your memories! He even tried to have Okuyasu commit suicide!"

"I'm a changed man," Rohan handwaved. "That's all in the past."

"It was three days ago!"

"Can you do it, Mr. Rohan?" Josuke asked.

Rohan rested his chin on his palm. 'Josuke' is suddenly reminded of that horrifying image of the manga artist watching him while he masturbated. It sent a chill down his spine.

"Ichikawa, is it?" Rohan turned to her. "Can you come a bit closer? What did you think of this new sketch I just made?"

Ichikawa did as she was told. When Rohan held up his sketch, Ichikawa's face turned into a book and she passed out. Fubuki was able to catch her body.

"Just so you know, I'm only doing this because I'm curious about this new Stand," Rohan said. "Also, I refuse your offer to let Josuke Higashikata's Crazy Diamond to heal me. After all, he's the one who put me in this hospital."

Rohan began flipping through her pages until he found what he was looking for.

"It's so fun to play matchmaker, like Cupid," he read out the details around Ichikawa. "I just love the idea of two people falling in love, and if I can be a part of two people finding their soul mates, I’ll take it! I don't see the harm of bringing friends together. If it goes well, they'll forever remember me and thank me… Then I can use the inspiration for potential Pink Dark Boy fanfic ideas!"

"Wait, so the reason she pressured us to wear the bracelets..." Fubuki said, looking appalled. "So she can get some material for her fanfics?"

"She should learn to keep her nose out of people's businesses," Josuke grumbled.

"Here we are," Rohan. "It's on the next page…"

On a page shows a picture of handmade jewelry with a name under it: 「 Bangles 」

According to Rohan, the Stand called Bangles is bound to any jewelry Ichikawa makes. When two "soulmates" wear matching jewelry, the Stand activates and their bodies transform into each other. This Stand is not meant for fighting but to facilitate a rocky relationship, and its effects only last for a day. However, if someone tries to break Bangles' power, the two soulmates will be cursed to a horrible fate. There is only way to escape the curse, and that is…

"I HAVE TO KISS HIM?!" Fubuki screamed in horror.

"That's what it says," Rohan said, almost smirking. "She calls it a 'True Love's Kiss'."

"But… I don't want to kiss him!" Fubuki said, blushing and pointing a finger at Josuke.

"Why not?" Josuke frowned, crossing his arms. He thought the solution is stupid but he's not turning it into a big deal like what Fubuki is doing here.

"What do you mean 'why not'?!" Fubuki said. "We--"

"It's because we're both boys, is that it?" Josuke said quietly. He is a little hurt inside.

"No, it's because it would be weird to kiss your own clone! It'd be like kissing Surface who is pretending to be you!"

"... Fair enough."

"It didn't say where exactly you have to kiss each other. You don't even have to do it on the mouth," Rohan told them. "Besides, this curse only happens if you try breaking the Stand's power."

Fubuki turned to him. "Rohan, do something!"

"Me? What do you want me to do about this?"

"Fix us, obviously!"

"That's not what I was talking about. When I asked what do you want me to do… in what way do you want me to assist you?"

"We were hoping you can put some kind of safety lock on Ichikawa or remove her Stand," Josuke said.

"I cannot do that," Rohan refused.

"You can't? Or you just won't?"

"My Heaven's Door can take everything that Miss Ichikawa here has experienced, even unconsciously, into a book. However, what is written here is a harmless wish of a girl who has no malicious ulterior. This Stand doesn't seem to have any ill effects. Just ride it out for 24 hours and it would be all over."

"... Since when did you develop a consciousness, Rohan?"

"I'm just looking out for a fan of my manga."

Once Rohan lifted Heaven's Door from her, Ichikawa blinked awake. She doesn't remember being transmuted into a book but she was delighted by the quick, detailed autograph given to her by Rohan.

Josuke, Fubuki, and Ichikawa left the hospital together. Ichikawa is holding up her autograph above her.

"I can't believe I got to meet my favorite manga artist in this town!" she said cheerfully. "I'll have to send him one of my fanfics as a thank-you gift!"

"This whole thing is your fault, Ichikawa," Fubuki told her. "If you hadn't pushed me into buying your bracelets, none of this would have happened."

"You and Fubuki were going at each other this morning!" Ichikawa said.

"So what? Nobody asked you to butt in!"

"Knock it off, you two," Josuke said.

Fubuki and Ichikawa noticed their arguing caught the attention of a few passersby.

"Don't mind us," Fubuki apologized with a sheepish smile. "She's just crazy!"

Ichikawa snapped her fingers at him and lowered her voice. "But also smart as a fox! Someday, you'll thank me for this."

"I don't think so," Fubuki said, also lowering his voice. "I'm supposed to have a big Math test tomorrow!"

"Eeeeh?!" Ichikawa is horrified. She put on a nervous smile and shrugged her shoulders. "W-well, I can't do anything about it… but I can offer you a refund for the bracelets?"

Fubuki repeatedly bonked her head like the ditz she is.

"UWHAAA!" she bawled and ran behind Josuke. "Josuke, help! He's bullying me!"

"Your Stand's the one who created this mess!" Fubuki reminded her. "And I'M the real Josuke, that's Fubuki you're talking to!"

He groaned in despair and rubbed his temples.

"What am I gonna do? I can't go back to my home like this. How am I gonna take that test tomorrow as Fubuki? Unless…"

He slowly looked at Josuke, who figured what he's thinking about.

"Forget about it," Josuke said.

"Come on, man! You heard what Rohan said!" Fubuki pleaded. "This Stand's power only lasts for 24 hours! I won't be able to take the test if I look like you. You can just go in my place, it'll be no problem for you."

Josuke stared at him.

"And… I won't tell anyone that you peed in your pajamas this morning," Josuke added.

"Fubuki peed?!" Ichikawa gasped.

"Go home, Ichikawa," Josuke said, blushing furiously. "Alright, I'll take your test, Josuke. For now, let's go home. By that, I mean, I go to your house, while you go to mine. And by tomorrow afternoon, everything will go back to normal."

Fubuki gulped.

"I-I have to pretend to be you around your family?" he asked.

"Of course, our families can't know about what happened to us," Josuke said. "They'll think we're crazy. You'll be fine."

"But what if I mess up?"

Ichikawa just watched the two boys began sharing notes about the rules they must do while pretending to be each other.

"Fubuki, this is like three pages!" Fubuki said. "I can't remember all of these rules!"

"You don't have a choice in the matter," Josuke said. "I'm expecting a phone call from my mother tonight. Since April of this year, I get a phone call from her every fourth of the month and she asks about the progress of my schoolwork."

"Y-your mother?" Fubuki stammered. He began to get scared, recalling how terrifying Mrs. Kurosawa was. "Wh-what am I supposed to tell her?"

"Just tell her you're doing great in classes, but don't sound fake. I'm being serious, Josuke, she can tell you're lying over the phone."

"A-alright, I get it!"

"One last thing, about my bedroom…" Josuke paused, looking uncomfortable. "I haven't even shown it to you yet, but… I placed some weird things around my room, so just ignore them. Whatever you do, don't disturb or remove them."

"O...kay?"

Josuke changed the subject. "You know, it feels rather nice that I don't have to use my glasses to see things clearly. I should enjoy this while it lasts."

He smirked and looked down at Fubuki.

"Another good thing about this Stand is that I get to be taller than you again," he said.

"Oh, haha!" Fubuki laughed sarcastically. However, he has some concerns about his new, temporary body. "Still, it's gonna be awkward to use the bathroom. That means, I'm gonna be touching your…"

He stopped when he saw Ichikawa is leaning close so she can listen.

"Don't mind me, keep going!" Ichikawa blushed excitedly. "Are you gonna be touching Fubuki's--"

"Why are you still here?!" both boys yelled at her.

*&*&*

'Fubuki', who is actually Josuke Higashikata, arrived at his best friend's home above the Spider Threads. Fubuki's uncle and grandmother haven't returned from the hospital yet, so he has plenty of time to relax and get used to his new situation.

He made his way up the stairs to the attic, where Fubuki's bedroom is.

He is surprised to find how small and organized the bedroom is. He thought Fubuki (the actual person) was making a big deal out of nothing when he told him that the bedroom is off-limits.

When Fubuki closed the door behind him, he nearly dropped his school bag when saw several paper talismans stuck all over the door.

"Jesus Christ…" he muttered. "It's like one of those things to prevent evil spirits from entering."

Fubuki walked around the room, inspecting every corner. Everything is clean and in order. He felt like changing out of the uniform for something more comfortable. He went over to the closet and found almost every shirt his friend owns is colored white. The only thing that has color is a dark blue long-sleeved shirt.

"This guy has no variety," Fubuki muttered.

His eyes spotted something hanging from one of the curtains. He pulled it out to inspect it.

It is a long white scarf made of cotton, and it felt extremely soft. Fubuki then noticed a name stitched at the end of the scarf.

"Shinichi."

That name is familiar to Fubuki.

"That's… the name of Fubuki's dead cousin," he said. "Was this scarf his…?"

Behind Fubuki, the door was not closed completely and it creaked open by itself.  Fubuki noticed the room has gotten colder for some reason and he sensed a presence behind him. He turned around but he saw nothing. The room suddenly reverted back to normal temperature.

"Wh-what the hell was that?" Fubuki said, his heart pounding. "Something weird just happened…"

He looked down at the scarf and saw bloody handprint on the cloth. It wasn't there before.

He let out a terrified scream and he dropped the scarf on the floor. He stumbled back and his back hit the door, knocking all the paper talismans off.

"Shit!"

Fubuki quickly picked up all the talismans and put them back on the door. At that moment, he heard someone downstairs.

"Fubuki, are you home?" called the voice of Norisuke Kurosawa. "We're back from the hospital!"

"Oh, um…" Fubuki tried to calm himself. "Tonight, he must pretend to be Norisuke's nephew. "I-I'll be coming down soon, Uncle!"

Fubuki fixed his glasses. He nervously glanced back at the white scarf lying on the floor. The bloody handprint is mysteriously gone. He wondered if he was just seeing things.

Fubuki walked down the stairs. If he had looked back, he would see a shadowy figure picking up the scarf from the floor.

*&*&*

Meanwhile, 'Josuke', who is actually Fubuki Kurosawa transformed into his friend, reached the Higashikata house. He heard the evening news playing on the TV.

"Josuke, is that you?" Tomoko called from the living room.

Josuke inhaled. "Yes, it's me. I'm home."

Tomoko appeared so she can talk to her son.

"We'll be having dinner in a couple of hours," Tomoko said. "Take a shower tonight, I can smell you from the living room as soon you came in."

"Yeah, sure," Josuke shrugged in a dismissive manner. "I'll be going to my room so I can study."

"Oh, wow! You never liked studying this early. You usually like to play your video games as soon as you came home."

Josuke just pretended to laugh this off. He brushed past Tomoko and before he can go up the stairs, Tomoko placed her hands on her waist.

"Josuke, what about my kiss?" she asked.

He paused; does Josuke usually kiss his mother's cheek every time he comes home from school? He looked at her but Tomoko gave him a playful smile.

"I was just messing with you," she chuckled. "You're so fun to tease."

She then went to the kitchen. Josuke sighed with relief, but he felt an odd emotion stirring inside him. His own mother rarely playful jokes with him and she greets him with a cold, stern look. Tomoko, unaware that 'Josuke' isn't her actual son, still treats him like her child.

I guess I'm not used to this kind of maternal affection… he thought.

*&*&*

When it is dinner time at the Kurosawa's home, Norisuke prepared a Sicilian dish called 'pasta alla Norma', which he learned how to cook on his first visit to Sicily.

"Pasta alla Norma is one of Sicily's most historic and iconic dishes," Norisuke stated. "The name of the dish is said to originate from Italian writer Nino Martoglio who, upon tasting the dish, compared it with the perfection of the Vincenzo Bellini opera Norma. The recipe is made with macaroni, tomatoes, fried aubergines, grated ricotta salata cheese, and basil."

"That's… a cool trivia," Fubuki smiled nervously. "Have you been hanging out with Chef Tonio?"

"I'm still rusty on speaking the language, but we Italians take serious pride in our cuisine," Norisuke said. "It's a big insult to mess with Italian food. There is one time your grandmother and her little sister visited America when she was a young woman..."

Julia is sitting in a wheelchair for now so she can recover from her broken hip. Fubuki sat in awkward silence between Norisuke and Julia; he has to be careful not to slip up and give away the truth to the real Fubuki's relatives. However, everyone can see how pale and sweaty his face is. Norisuke continued the story.

"... See, Mother and Aunt Cornelia visited this restaurant run by this American who visited Italy, tried their food, and decided to open up an Italian restaurant in New York," Norisuke said.

"The food was awful," Julia added. "Everything wasn't cooked properly. I asked the owner how did he cook the spaghetti and get this... He said he took water, put pasta in it, turn up the fire… for thirty minutes."

"But isn't that how spaghetti is normally cooked…?" Fubuki nervously asked.

"Non non, you can see he's a genius," Julia said sweetly, but a hint of sarcasm. "I usually boil the water for my spaghetti instead."

She and Norisuke share a short laugh together.

"So, I asked for a screwdriver and ladder, went outside and unscrewed the sign of the restaurant," Julia said with a smug smile. "The owner yelled at us, but he insulted us first. You never cook pasta for more than 30 minutes! You have to BOIL it for less than 12 minutes, it MUST be al dente!"

"Yes!" Norisuke agreed loudly.

First Tonio, and now Fubuki's relatives? Fubuki thought. The stereotype of Italians being extreme with their cuisine is true!

"Speaking of which, you barely touched your food," Julia noticed.

Fubuki was just digging around the food his fork. He really doesn't feel like eating tonight. He has to keep guard up in case Fubuki's (the real one) mother calls.

"Sorry, I don't have an appetite…" he said. "I have a lot of things on my mind."

Not to mention, I'm not really your grandson!

"Fubuki, are you having problems with school?" Norisuke asked. "Or maybe… is there a girl you're interested?"

Fubuki immediately thought of Onodera and he started coughing, pretending that he did not hear them. That is when Norisuke and Julia noticed the bracelet around his wrist.

"What a lovely bracelet!" Julia exclaimed. "Where did you get this?"

Fubuki quickly placed his hand inside his pocket, so they wouldn't see the threads stitched into the skin of his wrist.

"A girl from school gave it to me," he replied.

"Who is she?" Norisuke is interested. "Is she your girlfriend?"

The phone rang and Fubuki thanked his lucky stars. He hurriedly left the table and went to pick up the phone near the kitchen.

"H-Hi, Mom!" he said, doing his best to sound happy and excited.

"Mom? It's me, Fubuki!" spoke a different voice.

"Okuyasu?!" He lowered his voice so Norisuke and Julia wouldn't hear him. "Why the hell are you calling me?"

"Aren't you supposed to come over tonight and help me study for next week's test?"

Fubuki slapped his forehead. "... I can't!"

"Why not?"

First of all, I'm not the real Fubuki! he wanted to scream. And second of all, this is really bad timing and I'm expecting a call from Fubuki's mother and I'm scared shit!

"I'm a little sick," he lied. He pretended to sneeze and cough, going a little too overboard. "Ack… See, what I mean?"

"Ohhh," Okuyasu understood. "Thanks for telling me, buddy! Good thing too, I'm feeling a bit sick myself and I don't want to catch whatever you're having, ahahaha!"

Fubuki chuckled awkwardly.

"Okay, I'll see you next Monday!"

"You mean tomorrow. We got a Saturday class--"

Okuyasu already hung up. Fubuki stood there, silent and feeling awkward.

"H-hey, Uncle… Grandma…" He turned around. "Do you mind if I am excused from dinner?"

"Sure thing, Fubuki," Norisuke said. "You're expecting a phone call from your mother?"

"Y-yeah!"

"I think you forgot, but she doesn't call from the landline phone."

Fubuki's eyes widened. "She doesn't?"

"Nope. She calls you through your cell phone, remember?"

When did he get a cell phone?! Fubuki screamed in his thoughts. "Oh! Ohhhh… Th-thanks for reminding me--you know what, I'm gonna go upstairs right now."

Fubuki was about to hurry away when Julia gave him a tired, sweet smile.

"Good night, Fubuki," she said. "If you ever get hungry, you can come down and get food."

"Yeah, I'll do that."

Julia reached up and playfully pinched his cheek.

"I'm glad you pay attention to your studies, but you have to eat more often," she said. "You're so skinny!"

Fubuki paused and smiled back at her. She reminded him of his late grandmother, who died when he was very young but he still has loving memories of her. He couldn't help but kiss the old lady on her cheek, much to her astonishment.

"Sleep well, Gran-Gran," he said softly.

Fubuki ran up the stairs. Julia touched her cheek, still speechless from her grandson's sudden affection.

"He… hasn't kissed my cheek before!" she exclaimed, almost close to tears.

As soon as he reached the bedroom, Fubuki shut the door behind him.

"Alright, time to find that cell phone," he said.

He opened up Fubuki's school bag and dug through. When he can't find it, he looked around the room and all he can find is that the real Fubuki doesn't have video games or manga.

'Fubuki' (actually Josuke) was starting to panic.

"It's not here!" he said. "I have to call Fubuki at my place and ask…"

He heard a loud ringtone somewhere.

*&*&*

Back at the Higashikata house, 'Josuke' ate dinner quietly which Tomoko found weird. She knew her son would have something interesting to say or crack a joke about her cooking. However, Josuke just finished his meal with a simple and polite "thank you". He even seemed indifferent to Tomoko's silly stories about the unruly students she taught in her elementary class.

Later, while preparing for his bath, Josuke dumped his uniform into the laundry basket. Now, the awkward moment has arrived. Josuke knew sooner or later he would have to see his friend's naked body before returning back to his own body.

And this happens after I masturbated next to him last night, he groaned to himself. I should have done it in the bathroom, but nooo, I had to be careless and stupid. So careless that Josuke thought I peed my pants! I had to get crabby so he wouldn't find out the truth, which led to us fighting that morning, and that escalated into… this situation.

Josuke looked away as he removed the last piece of clothing, the underwear, before wrapping a towel around his body. He awkwardly made his way into the bathroom.

"This is ridiculous…" he muttered, blushing furiously. "I'm a guy, so seeing another guy's body shouldn't bother me… I'll just get one look and get this over with."

He removed the towel and he took one full look of his new entire body.

He did not scream or freak out; however, he is rather impressed with his friend's body.

He suddenly remembered that awkward incident last night and he shut his mind. He forced himself to sit on a bathroom stool and pretended to act normal. He grabbed the shower nozzle and began rinsing his body and hair. The water is cold against his burning, blushing skin.

He scrubbed soap all over his body, avoiding going lower below his navel… He just imagined he was washing and scrubbing his OWN body, followed by a mental image of Fubuki doing the same to Josuke--both of them naked--until he lost his concentration when he realized his hand started touching himself.

"YIKES!!" he screamed and pulled his hand back. "That was close--Oh no…"

Josuke saw it was too late, Long John Silver is up and saluting him. He buried his face into his hands, and he sat there in shame.

"Now what am I going to do with THIS?" he said. I don't want to do this again, this is my friend's body! This is getting too personal for my own good!

Suddenly, he imagined himself in a cartoon where a miniature angel and a demon materialized on his shoulders. The Angel of Common Courtesy is telling him to think of the real Josuke's feelings because it's not his body, while the Demon of Bad Decisions is yelling at him to stop ignoring his hormones and finish the job.

Technically, the real Fubuki and the real Josuke did not swap each other's bodies as they believed. They only transformed into each other… At the same, however, it felt like he's invading on his friend's personal boundaries. If the real Josuke found out what he had done, he will never speak to him again.

He has made up his mind. The Angel cheered for him.

Forget it, I'm done with this, no more!

Josuke grabbed the shower nozzle and blast freezing water between his legs.

"IT'S COLD!" he screamed.

*&*&*

Fubuki went down on floor and spotted a cell phone lying on the floor just under the bed. It continued to ring and Fubuki thought it might be Mrs. Kurosawa trying to call him. He reached out his hand to grab it. He noticed a photograph underneath the phone and he picked it up too.

He sat on the edge of the bed and put aside the photograph. He nearly drops the phone in his panic. "H-hello?"

"Fubuki, this is Onodera," said a feminine voice.

Fubuki's heart skipped a beat. "Heeey, Yasuho!"

"There it is again, you called me by my first name," Onodera said.

Fubuki chuckled sheepishly. "Sorry, I should stop doing that, huh?"

"If you want to. Can I ask why you and Josuke were fighting this morning?"

"Oh, it was just something dumb and it escalated into a fight," he said, rubbing his neck. "We're both cool now, I guess…"

If only you knew, Yasuho.

Onodera chuckled. "I see. Anyways, I want to ask a question regarding Josuke…"

Fubuki's heart pounded harder. He loved hearing her voice, it made him want to hug the nearest soft pillow.

"Do you know when his birthday is?"

"June 20," he answered rather quickly.

"I see, that's on a Sunday. Does he have any plans to celebrate his birthday?"

"Well, my mom--I mean, his mom wants to have a birthday dinner with him on the night before. That's, uh, Saturday... Other than that, he wants to spend Sunday celebrating with his friends."

"That's so sweet. Am I included on his list of friends? I'm sorry if I'm intruding…"

Fubuki blushed. "No, you're welcome to come along! I would love to see you with us!"

"R-really? I… I won't be a bother?"

"Of course not, you're an amazing girl."

Onodera made a low gasp as though she could not believe she's hearing this from him.

"Fubuki, thank you so much!" she said happily. "I can't wait for June 20th. Oh! Don't tell Josuke that I'm getting a gift for him!"

"Got it."

Onodera dropped the call and Fubuki laid down on the bed, feeling giddy as he started thinking of her.

With his arms folded under his head, he stared at the ceiling. He closed his eyes and forgot all about the phone call from Mrs. Kurosawa...

A few minutes later, he shot up with a horrible urge. The worst thing he feared has finally happened.

"I have to use the bathroom."

Outside the Kurosawa home, above the Spider Threads shop, an adult male figure was sitting inside his car. For the past few days, he was stalking and spying on Fubuki. He had bugged Fubuki's room and recorded Fubuki's conversation with Onodera. Now that his job is done for the night, he started up his car and drove away.

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 26: Ichikawa's Bangles, Pt 2

A new day arrived in Morioh and 'Josuke' (who is actually Fubuki) woke up early. Today is a Saturday class, it only lasts for half a day. Today is also the day he gets his body back.

He climbed out of bed and looked around the bedroom that isn't his'. The walls share the same light color with the rest of the house, and they are decorated with posters of movies and American musicians. The carpet from the real Josuke's childhood is still around, though it is now worn and covered in old stains. Across from the bed is a small shelf full of music CDs and video game cartridges. Last night, they were sloppily disorganized he arranged them in the correct order. He had also cleaned around the rest of the room, dumping hidden trash and then ironing some clothes. He quietly criticized the Josuke's mess but he can't help but like how it smells just like him.

'Josuke' set a clean school uniform on the bed and before he could go downstairs to the kitchen, his blood turned cold when he made a new discovery with his left arm. In two rows are red stitches, he counted ten each, sewn onto his arm. The threads are made of the same material of the bracelet.

"What's going on here?" he pondered to himself in horror. "Where did these stitches come from? Are these part of Ichikawa's Bangles?"

He has to show this to 'Fubuki' (who is currently Josuke, who has been transformed) in school. Josuke grabbed a cardigan from a closet and put it on so Tomoko won't see the red stitches. He calmly walked downstairs to get cleaned up in the bathroom.

He splashed cold water into his face and he glanced up to see his reflection on the mirror. He can see Josuke staring back at him; the pompadour fell apart while he was asleep and 'Josuke' has no idea how to style it as his friend did. The best thing he can do with the hair being let down is just combing it and making it look nice.

"Josuke… with his hair down," he muttered, gazing at the reflection for too long. "He looked so different…"

He covered his blushing face and averted his eyes away.

*&*&*

Tomoko woke up at 6:30 AM.

"Aw, damn… It's the first the Saturday of the month again," she complained sleepily. "That means it's an extra school day. I wished it was the next Saturday…"

She groaned and forced herself out from her bed. She would love to go down to the kitchen, wearing only her large t-shirt and panty, but she knew if Josuke were to come in, he'd be extremely embarrassed and probably never get married.

"Don't worry, Tomoko," she said she put on a robe to cover herself. She then started making her way downstairs. "There are only two Saturday classes for each month. Gotta fix Josuke's breakfast..."

When she arrived at the kitchen, she is taken by surprise to see her tall, teenage son cooking food by the stove. He already placed a cup of coffee and a plate of breakfast for her on the table.

"J-Josuke?!" she gasped, clutching her chest. "What are you doing here so early?"

"I'm cooking breakfast," Josuke replied, without looking at her. "Go and eat your food, M… Mom."

Again, Josuke felt weird using that last word in such a casual tone. Tomoko sat down and took her first bite. Her eyes twinkled.

"Holy cow, this is good!" Tomoko exclaimed. "Josuke, when did you learn to cook like this?"

Josuke turned off the stove. "Home Economics."

"You're doing well if you can cook this good! Maybe I should make you do the cooking from now on!"

Tomoko laughed at her little joke. Josuke sat across from her and quietly ate his food.

"How weird," Tomoko remarked. "You usually, fix up your hair before eating breakfast."

"... I didn't feel like it today," Josuke replied.

"Josuke, is something wrong with you? Does it have something to do with your fight with Fubuki yesterday? I remember you two yelling in the bathroom and during breakfast, you two keep shooting daggers at each other. I didn't think it was such a big deal…"

"Everything's fine with me and Fubuki," Josuke told her. "Thank you for your concern, Mrs. Higashikata."

Tomoko spat out her coffee. "Excuse me, young man?!"

"Sorry, I meant to say 'Mom'."

Tomoko stared at him suspiciously but she cleaned up her coffee mess. As soon as he was finished, Tomoko volunteered to take away the plates. To thank her son for cooking such a wonderful breakfast, she planted a big kiss on his cheek.

Josuke is paralyzed and confused. Not once did his mother ever kiss him before, even to congratulate him for winning his piano recitals.

You're lucky that you got a good mom, Josuke… he thought sadly.

*&*&*

Josuke, after changing into his school uniform, stepped out of the Higashikata house. It was still early in the morning so he does not have to worry about going to school late. However, he began to wonder if Okuyasu is already up at this moment. He passed by a sleepy-looking jogger and headed to the Nijimura house and knocked on the door. When there was no answer, he knocked again.

"WHO IS THAT?!" Okuyasu yelled. "IT'S TOO EARLY FOR THIS!"

Josuke heard feet shuffling across a wooden floor and the door was opened by a disheveled Okuyasu. He looked in worse shape than yesterday; his eyes are red and swollen, and there are darker circles under his eyes. He looked older and less vibrant, there is no color to his face. However, this sad-looking appearance is undermined by Okuyasu's only clothing--which is a pair of boxer shorts with currency prints.

"Okuyasu, you're a mess," Josuke said, astonished. "I don't know which is worse… your face or those shorts."

"Sorry… I wasn't able to sleep at all last night," Okuyasu said. He sounded so dead and tired. The corners of his mouth are drooping.

"Last night? I noticed you were tired lately, but…"

"Fubuki, is that you?" Okuyasu asked slowly.

At first, Josuke thought Okuyasu figured out who he is. However, Okuyasu kept staring at him while he scratched himself.

"When did you get a haircut?" he asked, confused.

"Okuyasu, it's me," Josuke said.

"Josuke...? Oh, right… Yo, what's up, man?"

"Why aren't you getting ready for school?"

"Huuuh?!" Okuyasu is confused. "Today's the second Saturday of the month!"

"That's NEXT Saturday, we have class today."

Okuyasu smacked his forehead with his hand. "Damn it, damn it…! I'll get ready in ten minutes!"

"Hold on, we're still early--"

Okuyasu already ran inside. Josuke followed him inside to make sure he won't hurt himself in his hurry.

Okuyasu put on a shirt and his school pants. He went to the bathroom next to his bedroom and turned on the faucet. Josuke peered into another room and found the monstrous-looking Nijimura Sr. asleep and curled up on an old sofa. Josuke closed the door so he won't disturb him and went to the bathroom.

"You don't have to rush, we got plenty of time," he told Okuyasu. "At least fix your shirt, it's on backward…"

"Did you say something?" Okuyasu turned to him, his toothbrush in his mouth. It was full of foam. His hair is wet and he tried to shampoo his hair but there is something off about it.

Josuke realized Okuyasu must be so sleep-deprived, he unknowingly used his soap bar to brush his teeth while he mistook the toothpaste for his shampoo.

"Okuyasu, are you okay?"

*&*&*

Josuke was able to tuck Okuyasu in bed, after convincing him to stay home for today. Then he went straight to school and along the way, he's received stares from other Budogaoka students. He finally reached the school gate and waited for Fubuki, who is supposed to meet him here. Unfortunately for him, more students stare at him, including the real Josuke's female admirers who gathered around him.

"Josuke! How come you're not wearing your usual hairstyle today?"

"Did you run out of hair gel?"

"I think you look much better with your hair down, Josuke~!"

"Yeah, you even buttoned up your uniform! It makes you look so cool and mature!"

Josuke's eye twitched but, despite being annoyed by all of this attention, he kept a straight, stoic face.

"I'm waiting for someone, go away," he said.

"Okaaay~! See you, Josuke~!" the girls exclaimed and they walked away.

At this moment, Koichi appeared and he's taken aback by Josuke's look.

"Whoa, Josuke! Is that you?!" he asked, pointing a finger at him.

"Hi, Koichi," Josuke replied. "I just ran out of hair gel today."

"You really looked so different, I almost couldn't recognize you…" Koichi noticed someone is missing. "Hey, did you just arrive? You usually come to school with Okuyasu."

"He's staying home today, he's not feeling well. By the way, have you seen Fubuki…"

Josuke stopped when a saw a familiar student approaching the school gate. It is Fubuki but there is something… completely different about his appearance. Koichi turned around, and when he saw him, his jaw dropped and so did his schoolbag.

Fubuki has tied his long hair into a braid. The school jacket of his uniform is now opened in front, and he's wearing a casual t-shirt underneath with red-and-black hearts.

Fubuki waved a hand at Koichi, without realizing the student standing behind him. On his face is a warm, friendly smile that is so rare for him.

"Hey, Koichi," he greeted him.

"F-F-Fu… Fubuki?!" Koichi nearly shouted. "Wh-what did you do to yourself?!"

"Oh, you like it?" Fubuki chuckled sheepishly. "I'm just trying on a new look."

Fubuki finally noticed Josuke and his smile dropped. The two boys stare at each other in shock and revulsion.

Their loud screaming was heard throughout the entire school.

"WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO TO MY GLORIOUS HAIR, YOU ASSHOLE?!" Fubuki yelled.

"YOU'RE ASKING ME?! WHAT ABOUT MY HAIR?!" Josuke yelled back. "AND MY CLOTHES! YOU TURNED ME INTO A DELINQUENT!"

Fubuki began strangling Josuke, despite being shorter than him.

"You know that pompadour's my pride and joy! How could you disrespect me like this?!" he shouted, almost close to tears.

"G-guys, guys! Stop fighting!" Koichi shouted. Soon enough, a large crowd began to gather around to watch them. "I didn't get what you were saying, you're too loud! Why are you two fighting?!"

"What's going on here?!" yelled the gym teacher, who arrived with Miyazaki. The latter is hiding behind the gym teacher in case he gets yelled at again. "Who's fighting in the school gate?!"

"Crap! We're causing a big scene!" Josuke said in a low voice. "Let's get out of here!"

Josuke and Fubuki grabbed their school bags and hurried away before the gym teacher can get names. They ran behind the school and arrived at the gym storage room near the school's swimming pool.

"Whew, that was close," Fubuki said as he wiped the sweat from his forehead.

Josuke, who has his arms crossed, is glaring at him. He looked ready to kill Fubuki but he won't bring himself to do it since he doesn't want to hurt his own body.

"May I ask why you decided to change my look?" he hissed.

"Hey, come on, your long hair kept distracting me and I got a little hot wearing your uniform," Fubuki complained. "But what about my hair, huh?! I hope you got an excuse for it!"

"I don't know how to style it into a pompadour, alright?" Josuke huffed. "Anyways, we got bigger problems."

"Problems?" Fubuki has a strange concerned expression on his face. "What a coincidence. This morning, I woke up to… this."

Fubuki pulled down the sleeve of his jacket to reveal his entire right arm is covered in similar red stitches sewn to his skin. Fubuki, however, seemed surprised by this.

"What the heck?! Where did these new stitches come from?!" he shouted. "I woke with ten stitches on my arm, but now they've spread!"

Josuke pulled up his left sleeve as well to find his entire left arm covered in red stitches.

"I don't understand why this is happening," Fubuki continued. "Wasn't this Stand supposed to have our bodies only switched and nothing else?"

Josuke tried to remember what else they knew about Bangles.

"Mr. Rohan said that if someone tries to break the power of this Stand, two soulmates will be cursed to a horrible fate," someone spoke up.

Fubuki and Josuke turned to see Ichikawa climbing through the window so she can enter the room.

"Hiya, guys~!" she greeted them cheerfully. "I just wanted to see how you two are doing so far since my Stand caused this trouble in the first place--"

She clumsily landed on her butt on the floor.

"Ow, my tushie!" she whined.

"Ichikawa, explain the new stitch!" Fubuki said, showing her his arm full of stitches.

"And how did you know what Rohan said?" Josuke asked. "You were unconscious when he used Heaven's Door on you."

Ichikawa got up and raised a finger. She paused… and then shrugged.

"Huh, I subconsciously remember it?" she said as she rubbed her chin. "And I guess the reason you have them is that it's the curse of Bangles?"

"That doesn't make sense," Fubuki said. "It's impossible to cut the bracelet's threads. I thought the curse happens if you manage to break it."

"Well, so far, we only have these stitches in our arm," Josuke said. "And it doesn't seem to spread to the rest of our body yet."

"What about the twin golden hearts?" Ichikawa asked.

Fubuki looked down at the golden metal hearts that was holding the bracelet together. There is a small dent in one of them.

"I guess that explains it…"

"How did that happen?" Josuke demanded angrily.

"It must have happened when I was trying to sleep," Fubuki said, sweating. "I was tossing and turning all night. I keep having this horrible feeling that someone is breathing down on my neck…"

"Th-that sounds spooky!" Ichikawa shivered.

"That was extremely careless of you," Josuke scolded him.

"Stop attacking me!" Fubuki snapped.  

Josuke rolled his eyes and turned to her. "Ichikawa, do you think the threads are connected to the twin hearts?"

"Well, yeah!" Ichikawa said. "The hearts hold two gemstones inside. The red threads connect the stones to your bodies, so while you can't harm the threads, harming the bracelets means harming you! ...At least, that's what I think."

"Then we must try and not break these bracelets, no matter what."

"How much time do we have left until we go back to normal?" Fubuki asked nervously.

"When did you guys put on the bracelet?"

"I think it was near the end of the lunch… It was 1 o'clock sharp!"

"That's five hours from now," Josuke said.

"Alrighty, good luck!" Ichikawa said. "Also, sorry again for my Stand!"

"Ichikawa, do you think it's possible for you to dispel your Stand if the worse were to happen?"

The flashy girl looked unsure about it. "I don't know… this is the first time I used my Stand… I guess I'm just pretty useless after all."

She nervously giggled. She was about to leave when she remembered something.

"By the way, I have another reason why I came," she turned to Fubuki. "Josuke, I overheard Higura talking with her cronies that some delinquent seniors are out for your blood."

"Delinquent seniors?" Fubuki asked, confused. "I don't know any."

"I don't know either, so be careful going home today."

Josuke and Fubuki watched her go.

"You know, I feel a little bad for being harsh on her," Fubuki said. "I can't even get mad at her again for making such a mistake, with her being a new Stand user."

"I guess we'll head to our classes and continue pretending to be each other a little longer."

"Ah. Fubuki, wait… I have… a major problem…"

"What is it?"

Fubuki has an uncomfortable, strained expression as though he was holding in something.

"I… I haven't peed at all since last night, and I have to go so bad!"

"What?" Josuke looked at him, flabbergasted. "Why didn't you go last night?"

"I… I didn't want to touch another guy's junk! It's gross!"

"Ugh, you're hopeless." Josuke grabbed his arm. "Come on, let's go to the bathroom."

Before they can take a few steps, Fubuki's eyes went wide.

"Ah!" he squeaked. His face is full of horror.

"... What is it?" Josuke asked in a dangerous tone.

Full of shame, Fubuki looked at him with tears in his eyes. "... It's too late."

*&*&*

It is almost time for homeroom meeting in Class 1-A and Miyazaki hasn't arrived yet. 'Fubuki' (who is actually Josuke) quickly uttered an apology to Onodera before dropping down into his desk.

"Jo--Fubuki, are you okay?" Ichikawa asked innocently. "You look red as a lobster."

"Shut up," he snapped, covering his eyes with his hands. He started whimpering. "I can't believe it happened to me. I'm the most disgusting person in Morioh…"

Miyazaki came in just in time and his students went to their seats. After roll-call, he made a brief announcement.

"Alright, who's ready for a pop quiz before next week's test?" he asked excitedly.

His students groaned. However, Fubuki is nervous. He has come unprepared for this.

*&*&*

Meanwhile, in Class 1-B next door, everyone is stunned to see 'Josuke' (who is actually Fubuki) taking careful notes in class and answering every question correctly. When it is time for the big Math test, he breezed through it without any problems and he is the first to finish it.

By 11:45 am, classes for Saturday has finally ended. Students started going home, while others have club activities.

"J-Josuke, you're on a roll!" Koichi said as the two left their classroom together. "I didn't realize you were this smart!"

"I just study hard," Josuke replied. "And I had a good tutor."

"Speaking of which, what's up with you and Fubuki lately? You guys were fighting yesterday, and now you are were acting weird this morning."

Josuke tried to think of an excuse. "... We decided to try a little experiment. I pretend to be him, and he pretends to be me."

"I see! I guess that makes sense, haha."

Koichi stopped laughing when he saw Yukako approaching them.

"J-Josuke, I'm gonna go home ahead, is that alright?" he stammered. "Bye!"

He ran away just as Yukako arrived. She is a little stung to see him go before she could say hi to him. She has a message to give to Josuke.

"Fubuki asked me to tell you that he will be meeting you outside of St. Gentleman's before 1 pm," she told him.

"That's not far from here, but why is he asking me to do that?" Josuke asked.

"He's getting tutored by the class president," Yukako said. "He didn't do so well during the English pop quiz."

*&*&*

Inside the school library, an embarrassed Fubuki is sharing a table with Onodera. They are going through his notes and answers from the pop quiz.

"I don't know how were you able to get them all wrong," she said. "We literally went over half of these new words last week and you understood perfectly."

"God, I dunno, Yasuho," Fubuki groaned. "I'm having the worst morning of my entire life…"

I pissed in my pants this morning, and Fubuki yelled at me for ruining his uniform, he thought. Thank goodness, he keeps his tracksuit in his locker.

Onodera sympathized with him, even though she doesn't know what he's talking about. She decided to change the subject.

"Kurosawa… what does Josuke think of me?" she asked shyly.

He looked at her, curious. He suddenly found himself more nervous around Onodera, that he couldn't help but sweat and fidget. He can't let her know that he's the real Josuke.

"He… likes the stuffed bear you gave him, and that he appreciated the hard work you put into making your bento lunches," he replied. Yeah, play it cool, Josuke!

"Is that so?" Onodera smiled. "I'm so glad to hear it…"

She twiddled with her fingers as she stared down at her knees. Her cheeks are red as a rose.

"Kurosawa, if I tell you something, you won't get mad at me?"

"Why would I be mad at you?" Fubuki asked. He pulled out a comb and started combing his hair. "You're my classmate and class president, I would never hold anything against you."

"Really? ...Okay." She sucked in a deep breath. "I like Josuke Higashikata."

Fubuki dropped the comb and nearly fell off from his chair. He is absolutely shocked by her words that his mouth popped open like a fish.

"E-excuse me?" he sputtered, now blushing too.

"Actually, to be more accurate… I've fallen for him," she continued. "At first, I thought he was a dumb delinquent, but I heard he stood up for a little turtle that was hurt by a bunch of thugs on the first day of school. And when he saved me from being molested by Mizoguchi, and when I saw him forgiving his absent father, I saw how much of a good heart he has… He's strong, kind, and gentle… I admire him a lot."

Fubuki stared at her, speechless and in awe. He could not believe Onodera is in love with him and to this extent. He recently has a crush on her for being a cute and sweet person, but he never thought the way she speaks so highly of him makes his heart pound harder.

"Kurosawa…" she began. "If I date Josuke, you won't be upset with me, would you?"

"Wh-why would I do that?" Fubuki inquired.

"Well, because… you're very protective of him! I understand why because he's your only friend when you were kids. I hoped you won't hate me for telling you about my feelings…"

Fubuki shuts her up by holding her hand.

"Are you kidding! I would love to see you guys hook up!" he said with much enthusiasm.

Onodera is ecstatic. "Thank you, Kurosawa! I'll never forget this!"

Suddenly, red stitches began to break out all over Fubuki's hands. Onodera saw this and she screamed.

"Kurosawa, your hands!" she shouted. "What happened to you?!"

Fubuki saw all the stitches too. Terrified, he ran away from the library so he can find Josuke. Onodera is left behind, confused about what just happened.

*&*&*

Meanwhile, Josuke is standing outside of St. Gentleman's, a classy bakery that is popular with the residents of Morioh. The bakery is most well-known for its fried katsu sandwiches, which are prepared with prime katsu, exquisite ingredients, and freshly-baked bread every day at 11 am. Due to their high popularity, the sandwiches are typically sold out within two hours.

Josuke wished he could pop inside and buy a sandwich, but he has to wait for Fubuki. A blond-haired salaryman came out from the shop and accidentally bumped into him.

"Sorry," he excused himself before he went on his way.

It is almost 1 pm when another person came out and it is Ichikawa, who carrying a St. Gentleman's bag full of food.

"Is he here yet?" she asked.

"Here he comes now," Josuke said.

Fubuki jogged up to them, his face glistening from sweat.

"We got trouble!" he said.

He showed them new stitches that covered his hands.

"What happened?" Josuke asked. "Did you bump your bracelet against something again?"

"No! I was careful this time! They just appeared when I was talking to Onodera!"

At that moment, the 24-hours ended and a bizarre transformation took place. Josuke and Fubuki's bodies began to morph into each other, their bodies melting and expanding… When it is over, Josuke is wearing Fubuki's tracksuit (which is too small for him) while Fubuki is wearing Josuke's uniform (which is too big for him).

Josuke touched his face and hair before he burst into joyful laughter.

"Hahaha! We're back!" he said. "I'm back in my body again! I don't need to wear these glasses anymore!"

"Well, I hoped you guys enjoyed being in each other's bodies," Ichikawa said with mild disappointment as she chomped on a muffin.

"Never again."

Fubuki's blood turned cold. "Something's wrong…"

The air became ominous when Josuke and Fubuki noticed their arms are still covered in red stitches. Fubuki felt sharp stings; he pulled up his shirt to find more red stitches slowly appearing all over his stomach and chest.

Josuke tried to summon Crazy Diamond so he can get rid of the stitches but his Stand did not materialize. Fubuki tried removing the bracelets by force but it just made more stitches appear faster.

"Our bodies should have returned to normal after 24 hours," Fubuki said, on the verge of panicking. "Why are these stitches appearing?"

"Ah, I think it's because Bangles caused the curse to happen!" Ichikawa cried.

"How?!" Josuke yelled. "What did we do wrong?!"

"Let's calm down and think!" Fubuki said. "What did we miss when Rohan read out the details about Bangles to us?"

"I know what it is!" Ichikawa figured. "Bangles unleashes a curse when someone tries to break the Stand's power, right? It's not because the bracelet breaks itself when it's bumped against an object... It's both of you who caused it to happen!"

Fubuki narrowed his eyes at her. "What do you mean?"

"Don't you guys remember? I gave you the bracelets in the first place because you two were fighting yesterday, and you guys keep on arguing with each other… When you transformed into each other, you were supposed to fix your friendship and discover the rooting of your fighting and angry feelings. My Stand, Bangles, can fix a rocky relationship between soul mates, friends, and lovers, but you guys have to do the work."

"You mean we have to actually KISS each other?" Josuke asked.

"I don't think it's supposed to be like that literally," Fubuki said, adjusting his glasses. "Rohan said we have to kiss each other in order to escape the curse. Ichikawa calls it a true love's kiss, but that's because she likes to romanticize things... So, what I believe is supposed to happen is we kiss and makeup--we have to reconcile with each other."

"Yeah, that sounds about right," Ichikawa nodded before chomping on her muffin again.

"What's there to reconcile?" Josuke asked. He pondered for a bit. "Oh, right, we started fighting yesterday over shampoo and toothpaste."

"Is that really it?" Ichikawa inquired. "Didn't you say it all started when Fubuki peed--"

"We're not discussing that," Fubuki said firmly.

"Why?" Josuke said. "You got defensive when I pointed out how the front of your pajama bottoms was stained."

"We are NOT talking about it," Fubuki insisted. As he averted his eyes, everyone can see a faint blush on his cheeks.

"Dude, I was kinda mad when I thought you pissed on my bed and then I made fun of you for it… but it's not like that anymore," Josuke sweatdropped. "If it makes you feel better, I once pissed in a swimming pool when I was a kid."

"I did not piss on your bed, Josuke!" Fubuki hissed. "Just drop it!"

"Then why did your pants looked so sticky and stained--"

It finally hit Josuke and his mouth formed an 'O'. He stared at Fubuki, whose guilty expression confirmed his suspicion. Even Ichikawa figured it out and she dropped her bag.

Josuke snorted, trying not to laugh. "Ehe… I just can't believe you got embarrassed over a wet dream on our sleepover…"

He couldn't hold it back anymore and he burst out laughing so hard, he's shedding tears. Fubuki is not pleased with him.

"Ahahahaha! Oh my god, I'm sorry!" Josuke laughed.

"This isn't funny, we're getting more stitches all over our skin," Fubuki told him.

"Right, right!" Josuke cleared his throat and became more serious. "So, I guess that's why you were in a bad mood, you were trying to hide your little 'accident'. I understand now, so I'm not mad at you for using up my shampoo… We're cool, right?"

"No, that's not what exactly happened, I…" Fubuki stopped, realizing he can't finish his sentence. "Just forget it and let's move on, okay?"

At this moment, more stitches began to spread around his neck. It even extended to Josuke's neck.

"Ahh!" Josuke started to panic. "Fubuki, I think you have to be more honest!"

"No way, you'll hate me…" Fubuki muttered, backing away.

"It's just an accidental wet dream," Josuke said. "Why are you making it into a big deal?"

"It's because I was masturbating right next to you while you were asleep!"

Fubuki covered his mouth. Josuke stared at him, feeling his stomach lurch.

"Dude!!" Josuke finally found his voice.

"I know you're grossed out…" Fubuki tried to defend himself. "And I should have done it in the bathroom, but I was so pent up…"

"In the same room with me? Where's your common courtesy, man?!" Josuke yelled at him. "Wait a second… did you… touch me when you were me?"

"You're accusing me?!" Fubuki shouted. "You're my friend!"

"Some friend you are! That still doesn't stop you from daisy-chaining while we're in the same room!"

"Guys, stop fighting!" Ichikawa pleaded. "You're gonna make Bangles' power worse!"

"You stay out of this, Ichikawa! You're the one who brought us into this mess!"

"Oh, yeah?" Fubuki frowned. "Who's the idiot who bought her bracelets?"

Josuke, provoked, punched him in the face. For some reason, the two boys suddenly stumble to the ground at the same time. They clumsily get up and they noticed the red threads from Josuke's fist is sewn to Fubuki's face, connecting both of them.

"The threads! They're sewing us together!" Josuke said as he tried to pull his hand free.

Fubuki winced. "Josuke, don't pull too hard! You'll end up--"

There is a sickening sound of several threads being torn apart. However, Josuke ended up accidentally peeling some flesh from Fubuki's face, causing him to bleed out.

"Fubuki!" Josuke cried.

"Y-you… you never listen to me, do you?!" Fubuki scolded at him.

Red stitches appear on Fubuki's face, seemingly sewing the wound on his face closed. The two boys continue to argue with each other. It seems like Ichikawa's Stand is influencing their negative emotions, but neither Josuke nor Fubuki has noticed it.

"I don't want to see you again!" Josuke shouted. "I may be an idiot, but at least I'm not some pervert!"

"Stop it!" Ichikawa begged. "You're supposed to be friends!"

Out of nowhere, a group of four delinquents gathered around them.

"Heh… we meet again, Josuke Higashikata," the leader said.

The leader of the group has a bleached hairstyle that looks like a cross between a pompadour and a mullet. His nose looks too large and flat for his face.

"Sorry… do I know you?" Josuke asked.

The leader made an angry noise. "Don't you remember who I am, you damn punk! You broke my nose and twisted it on the first day of the new semester!"

"Oh, you're the guys who like bullying freshman," Josuke said darkly. "You even made me touch an icky turtle… This is just great."

"Good, you finally know who I am! We're gonna beat you up for making us look stupid and for ruining my nose!"

"Don't you guys have other hobbies??" Fubuki asked.

Two more delinquents jumped out from behind Fubuki, almost scaring him. One of them has a mustache and the other has bad hair. Fubuki recognized them; the two tried to demand money on him on the first day he came back to Morioh.

"Heeey, remember us, Fubuki Kurosawa?" the punk with the mustache sneered. "You owed us that 15,000 yen."

"Oh, it's you again," Fubuki uttered with mild disgust.

"That's right. We met Yusen and his gang the other day and we discovered that you're friends with the guy who broke Yusen's nose. So, we decided to team up and get back at you."

"Hey, Higashikata," the leader called Yusen spoke again. "What's up with your appearance? You and that Kurosawa nerd look like you're covered in some kind of scabs. You caught something contagious?"

"Nah, but I know a scab when I see one," Josuke said, referring to him.

Yusen twitched his eye. Suddenly, the punk with the bad hair grabbed Ichikawa by her arm.

"Why don't you hang out with us, girlie~?" he grinned.

"Nooooo!" she screamed in fear.

Josuke threw his schoolbag at his face, causing him to let go of Ichikawa. She quickly ran away.

"Don't go after her!" Yusen said. "It's these assholes we want!"

Josuke and Fubuki pressed their backs against each other. Without their Stands, they have to rely on their own strength.

"I can't believe you guys all came together just so you can get your revenge," Josuke said. "All for what? For ruining your nose? All I did was improve your face."

"That's it!" Yusen shouted, having enough of Josuke's smart mouth. "Miike! Get them!"

Miike, the delinquent with the mustache, pulled out a pipe and swung it down on Josuke. He was able to grab it with his hand but he did not expect another delinquent to appear below him and knock him out a stun gun. Josuke lost control of his muscles and he became incapacitated, falling down on the pavement of the sidewalk.

"Josuke!" Fubuki shouted before he got tasered as well.

Fubuki blacked out and his body landed over Josuke.

*&*&*

Fubuki opened his eyes and found himself in a new surrounding. The delinquents have taken him and Josuke an abandoned warehouse where the only light comes from sunlight through the holes of the ceiling.

He is sitting down on the floor, his back against a pillar. His hands are tied above his head and his glasses were taken from him. To his horror, Fubuki saw more red threads began winding around his legs and stomach. He wondered if he would be completely wrapped up until he could no longer move or breathe.

He forced himself to see in the dim light; he spotted rusty metal staircases, abandoned wooden boards, and empty oil drums. He heard the sound of fists punching something.

There is hook hanging from an overhead girder and the delinquent gang is using it to hang Josuke, by tying his hands over his head. The delinquents are taking turns punching Josuke, who could only spit out blood and glare at them in defiance. Like Fubuki, Josuke's body is being wrapped in red threads.

"Josuke...!" Fubuki shouted.

"Well, well, looks like your little friend is awake," Yusen commented. He turned to Fubuki with a nasty grin on his face. "You're just in time for the torture show."

"Torture show? It couldn't be worse than this pathetic beatdown you're giving to me," Josuke commented sarcastically. "You gotta double your efforts."

Yusen smirked. "Don't worry, we got a special menu… We brought you here to teach you a lesson."

One of his minions and the bad-haired punk pulled out their stun guns.

"These are how we knocked you both out, these are 200,000-volt stun guns," the bad-haired punk told Josuke. "Hitting this switch opens the current… If we go too far, you'll die and won't even remember the lesson."

Josuke is starting to get worried and he could feel the red threads tightening around his neck. He tried to summon his Stand again; however, as long as Bangles' power is intact on him and Fubuki, neither of them will be able to use their Stands.

"I don't understand why you and Kurosawa are being covered in red threads, but it doesn't matter," Yusen said. "Have a taste of 200,000 volts!"

The bad-haired punk turned on the switch of his stun gun. Josuke swung from the rope and kicks him in the face, knocking him out. The other guy hit Josuke with his stun gun, causing him to scream out loud.

"JO--!!" Fubuki tried to shout to make them stop but his lips are suddenly stitched together by the red threads.

Josuke is repeatedly electrocuted by stun guns over and over again until he stopped screaming. His body is limp and twitching. Fubuki felt so ashamed of himself; if only he let his pride go and he apologized to Josuke before it was too late. Now his friend might die because of him...

"Hey, Yusen," one the delinquents said. "He's barely moving anymore."

"Keep going," Yusen ordered, unconcerned for Josuke's life.

His minion is reluctant. "Eh?! But if he takes anymore, he'll die…!"

"Exactly! Do it!"

"KNOCK IT OFF, YOU JERKS!"

Everyone turned to see who said that. At the entrance of the warehouse is Onodera and she's wielding a baseball bat. She looked terrified to face all these delinquents but she doesn't want to back down and run away.

"Onodera!!" Fubuki muffled.

Josuke, who is on the verge of losing consciousness, thought he heard her voice.

Yasuho… is that you…? Get… out…

"Hey, what's a freshman doing here?" Yusen demanded.

Onodera ignored him. Earlier, she was on her way to practice with her track team when Ichikawa came running to her and told her that Josuke and Fubuki are in trouble. Onodera did not have time to find any of Josuke's friends, Koichi and Okuyasu, to help her so she decided to take on the delinquents on her own.

She used Tiny Dancer to track them to this warehouse. When she saw Josuke hanging from a hook and looking lifeless, rage burned inside her.

"What have you done to him?!" she yelled. "Where do you get off, picking on someone who can't fight back?! You hoodlums are a bunch of wusses!"

"Huuuh? What did you saaay?" Yusen growled.

The other delinquents don't seem to take her seriously.

"It's dangerous for a girl to come here on her own, you know?" Miike said as he tapped his lead pipe on his hand. He began approaching her with evil intentions on his mind. "You're just asking for it, but we'll give you what you wanted."

Miike licked his lips in a lewd manner. Onodera gripped the baseball bat in her hands tighter.

"Is it normal for guys to kidnap and torture people?" she said, glaring at them.

The delinquents laughed at her, thinking her to be naive.

"I recognized the polka-dot ribbons she's wearing," one of the delinquents told Yusen. "She's Yasuho Onodera, she's on the track team training for the nationals."

Meanwhile, Fubuki struggled to free himself from the ropes that tied his hands together. His eyes widen when his right arm began to unravel into red strings. He realized the curse caused by Bangles is gradually transforming him into strings. However, this gives him an idea. He started pulling his right arm… It felt like he was tearing apart a piece of clothing because he ended up ripping his arm free with just a trail of threads connecting from his arm to his dismembered hand.

Miike is about to grab Onodera when she dodged out of their reach in a flash. She broke the back of Miike's knee with a powerful swing of her baseball bat, knocking him to the ground. Then she swung the bat right into his face and broke his teeth.

Yusen and his minions are astonished that a single girl is able to take down someone bigger than her without trouble.

"That bitch got some moves!" Yusen shouted. "What are you dolts doing? Take her down!"

His three minions rushed at her, ready to hit her with their stun guns. Onodera brought her Tiny Dancer. It twirled around them like a flying ballerina, sprinkling shiny dust from its flapping wings.

The delinquents stopped and they started scratching themselves like crazy.

"Ack! I'm suddenly itching all over!" one of them cried.

"Stop doing that!" Yusen ordered. "Just get her!"

But the delinquents can't stop scratching themselves. In a few seconds, something strange happened. They lost their muscle movements and they could only freeze on the spot, until they finally crumpled to the ground, much to the shock of Yusen.

This is a new ability by Tiny Dancer: the Stand sprinkles dust on a person to induce an uncontrollable itch… and when the dust is absorbed into the skin, it creates a paralyzing agent that caused a person's entire body to become numb and immobilized. Fortunately, the effect will wear off eventually.

"What the fuck just happened?!" Yusen demanded.

"Too bad you can't see Stands," Onodera mumbled, feeling proud of herself. "Since that time when Mizoguchi tried to hurt me... I've been trying to get my Stand to become stronger, so I wouldn't become a helpless little girl like I was before. And it looks like my hard work has finally paid off."

"What the hell are you talking about?!"

"And now… it's you and me," Onodera said

She pointed her bat at the only delinquent left standing. Yusen tried to put on an intimidating air.

"Heh, don't be cute, princess," he told her. "A delicate girl such as yourself don't have what it takes to take me down--"

He was interrupted when Tiny Dancer drilled through his deformed nose, creating a bloody hole. He shrieked in pain as he grabbed his nose.

"GAAAAAHHH!!"

"Did you say something?" Onodera raised a hand to her ear, pretending she couldn't hear him. "I may be delicate, but I can do this all day."

"MY SCHNOZZ HAS A FUCKING HOLE, YOU DAMN BITCH!!" Yusen screamed.

"And there'll be more holes in you if you don't release Josuke at once."

She raised her bat at him with the intent to smash his face in. Yusen shot up his hands, forcing a smile on his face.

"Okay, okay! You win, lady!" he said. "I underestimated you!"

"Release Josuke now!" Onodera ordered. "If you attack me, you'll regret it."

"Okay, I will! Gimme a moment to wipe my nose..."

While he is talking, Yusen moved one hand behind his back and pulled out a switchblade knife. Behind Onodera, the bad-haired punk (who recently gained consciousness) sneaked up and held up his 200,000-volt stun gun. He is waiting for the moment to ambush her.

Onodera sensed him too late and she was electrocuted. Yusen and the bad-haired punk started kicking her on the ground.

"Take this, you stupid bitch!" Yusen snarled. "That'll teach a stupid girl like you trying to be better than us! And this is for my nose!"

Meanwhile, Fubuki finally freed himself but at the cost of both of his hands. He is unable to shed any blood due to his body turning into strings. He crawled over to Josuke and shook him awake.

Josuke tried to open his eyes but his eyes have been switched.

"Wha… what happened…" Josuke moaned. "I can't see a thing…"

Fubuki reached up and used the hook and, to his luck, managed to cut the threads that had stitched his mouth together. His lips bled, but he didn't care about that.

"Josuke, I was wrong!" he gasped. "I shouldn't have done it, but I was too prideful! I shouldn't have taken it out on you…!"

"Fubuki? What are you--what's happening?"

"We're turning into strings and it'll be all over for us soon…" Fubuki said with regret as he hangs on to Josuke. "This happened because of our stupid fighting. I did this to us…"

Josuke is quiet for a moment.

"... I don't hate you," he mumbled. "I guess we just overreacted like stupid kids… I'm sorry too. We've been fighting for the past couple of days, I want to go back to being friends again."

Fubuki hesitated at first, knowing this embarrasses him as much as it will for Josuke. In an act of reconciliation, he leaned closer… kissed his friend on the cheek.

Back with the others, Onodera's face is covered in blood and she seemed to be barely moving.

"I'm having such a bad day," Yusen grumbled. He held up his switchblade knife and tearfully rubbed his ruined nose. "I'll never get my old nose back…"

He crouched down and glared at Onodera, holding his knife very close to her face.

"I think I know the perfect revenge to quell this pain. I'll cut your nose in half in a vertical line and make it look a cun--"

He was about to slice Onodera's nose when he felt a sharp pain coming from his ear. He stumbled back and dropped his knife. He touched his ear and felt warm blood flowing.

"AAAAARGH!!" he screamed, shedding tears in pain. "An invisible force drilled a hole through my ear!"

Onodera opened her eyes and jumped back up; she was only pretending to be knocked out. She spat blood from her mouth and wiped her lips.

"I told you that you'd regret attacking me," she pouted. "Finish them off, Tiny Dancer!"

Her little Stand gracefully danced around their hands, sprinkling excessive dust. Yusen and the bad-haired punk started scratching themselves after being struck by a mysterious bad itch. Blue hives broke out from their skin, and they fainted from the paralysis.

At that moment, Bangles dispelled the curse from Fubuki and Josuke when they finally reconciled with each other. The two boys are no longer covered in strings and stitches. Even Fubuki's dismembered hands reattached to his arms. Fubuki used this opportunity to tear the damn bracelet from his wrist.

"Kurosawa!" Onodera is breathing heavily but she is happy to see him safe.

"Onodera… I didn't expect for you to show up," Fubuki said.

Josuke groaned. He is heavily weakened from the beatings and electrical torture that he lost consciousness. His body remains hanging from the hook.

"Josuke!" both Fubuki and Onodera cried.

They untied Josuke from the hook. When his body fell, the two were able to catch his body. Fubuki held Josuke's hand while Josuke's head rested on Onodera's lap.

"They really did a number on his body…" Fubuki muttered. His shoulders are trembling. "He's tough, but…"

"K-Kurosawa…" Onodera is about to tear up once she got a good look at Josuke's injuries. "Is he…?"

*&*&*

Josuke woke up to find his body back to normal. However, he is still covered in bruises and his body is weak. He is lying on the ground, and he Fubuki kneeling beside him.

"Fubuki!" Josuke shot up, despite the pain. "Ow, what happened? Where are the assholes that have been beating me up?!"

"We're back to normal, Josuke," Fubuki said with a small smile. "You can thank Onodera for saving you just in time. As for those guys… We've already taken care of them."

He pointed his thumb at the unconscious delinquents who are sitting together. They are still knocked cold and they are tied up in chains. They seemed to have fresh bruises from some additional beatings they received from Fubuki.

"I already called Hitomi and she's on her way. She can heal you."

Something is bugging Josuke.

"Where's Onodera? Wasn't she here before?" he asked, looking around for her.

A dark shadow loomed over Fubuki's face.

"Don't worry, she went home," he explained. "Compared to you, her injuries aren't that bad. I gotta admit… she's quite brave for standing up to those punks--"

At the mention of Onodera having injuries, Josuke became angry.

"Did they hurt her?!" he yelled, getting up. "I'll kill them!"

"She's fine," Fubuki insisted. "I've already given those jerks your beatings."

"Why did you let her go home? I could have healed her with Crazy Diamond!"

Fubuki's lips formed a thin line. Hearing Josuke being more concerned with Onodera is irritating him but he calmly explained to Josuke.

"She didn't want you to see her injuries," he said. "She thinks it would make you literally kill those punks… which you just were about to."

Fubuki held a hand for Josuke to take. Josuke used it to bring himself up. Fubuki made him lean against him so he can try to walk. As they leave the warehouse together, Josuke has one last question on his mind.

"Before I blacked out, I felt something soft… Did you kiss me?"

Fubuki looked away and commented, "What a lovely sky over Morioh today."

"Hey, don't change the subject, man! Did you or did you not?"

"Does it matter?"

"I just wanna know if you did!"

"We're childhood friends... there's nothing wrong with that."

Josuke has a mischievous glint in his eyes.

"Aha, I knew it!" he grinned and placed an arm over Fubuki's neck. "You act cold but deep down, you're really are mushy!"

Fubuki just huffed.

"Also, about you…" Josuke awkwardly coughed. "... masturbating... in my bedroom while I was asleep. I realized I got riled up for nothing. It's not like you took advantage of me while I was sleeping innocently like a baby."

Josuke made a nervous laugh. However, Fubuki shot him a dangerous look and Josuke knew he's very close to pulling his ear.

"Don't worry, I promise to keep it a secret," Josuke whispered. "We'll pretend it never happened."

"Good!" Fubuki barked, his face gone scarlet.

They walked a bit further for a few minutes in silence.

"Just to be clear..." Josuke spoke again. "You really didn't touch me when you had my body?"

"Josuke, shut up!"

*&*&*

Monday arrived and on that morning, Onodera came to school with bandages on her face. This made Ichikawa distressed.

"Yasuho, I'm so sorryyy!" she bawled. "This is my fault! I shouldn't have let you go alooone!"

"No, this is nothing," Onodera smiled sheepishly. "It's alright, Miki."

Ichikawa perked up when she saw someone approaching. She gave her friend a coy smile.

"Look who's here~" she giggled, before walking off to her class. "I'll leave you two alone~"

Onodera turned around to see Josuke arriving at school and he is accompanied by his friends. The two share a long gaze before Josuke rushed over to her.

"Hey! You alright?" he asked, full of concern and guilt. "I'm sorry that you got hurt because of me! Here, I'll fix you up!"

Crazy Diamond instantly healed all her bruises and she blushed at the Stand's gentle touch. Okuyasu, who is no longer sleep deprived, started to get jealous that Josuke is talking to a cute girl. Koichi has to literally drag him away before he starts crying. Fubuki said nothing and moved on but he cast a dark glance towards Onodera.

"Th-thank you…" Onodera murmured. Having no further need for the bandages, she removed them from her face. "But what about you? Weren't you injured too?"

"I'm already taken care of," Josuke said. "I'm more worried about you. I mean… what if those guys did more than just hurt you?"

"Well, it didn't happen," Onodera said, trying to be cool as she placed her hand on her waist. "See, this is why you shouldn't go fighting with punks like them! It causes nothing but bad blood!"

Josuke started chuckling.

"What's so funny?" she asked, mildly offended.

He smiled at her. "I'll remember that next time, Yasuho."

Her face softened and she smiled as well.

"I'm glad you're back to wearing your pomp hairstyle again," she said. "You look cooler with it anyways."

"Really?" Josuke stroked his hair. "I'm glad you think so!"

The two gazed at each other before looking away, both of them blushing and their stomachs full of butterflies. Josuke shyly looked down and saw her empty hand. He remembered--when he was transformed into Fubuki--that her hand was so soft when he held it. He was about to grab it when someone ran up to him and hugged him.

"Darling!" Higura exclaimed. She knew full well that she interrupted a tender moment. She nuzzled her face against Josuke's chest. "Did you miss me all weekend?"

"Jeez!" Josuke is annoyed to see her. "Get off me, woman!"

"Higura Hamano!" Onodera shouted. She looked ready to deck the delinquent girl. "Who told you to butt in?!"

"I couldn't help but notice you making goo-goo eyes at my Josuke," Higura said. "You're cute, but I hate to say this, little girl... You're the entrée while I'm the main course."

"That doesn't make sense! Go find another boy toy, you floozy!"

Higura ignored her and she kissed Josuke on his cheek. Onodera gasped and tried to punch her. Higura moved out of the way and Onodera only ended up punching Josuke in his chest.

"Oof!" Josuke fell on the ground in pain.

"Josuke!!" both girls cry out.

<-- To be continued.

Chapter Text

Chapter 27: Okuyasu's Sleeping Problem

For an entire week, Okuyasu Nijimura has trouble falling asleep.

It started last Sunday, on the 30th of May… After everyone met up at Cafe Deux Magots, Josuke and his father left early so Joseph can see Tomoko from afar. Jotaro went back to the Morioh Grand Hotel with the Bow and Arrow that was retrieved from Akira Otoishi. Koichi, Fubuki, and Hitomi left to do their own thing.

As for Okuyasu, he went straight home.

The outside of the Nijimura house still looked abandoned and boarded up but he managed to fix it up better on the inside. His friends had also helped--Fubuki's Purple Rain washed down some dirt and dust, while Josuke's Crazy Diamond repair some old furniture. It became a nice-looking home for Okuyasu and his dad, but the former never bothered to clean up the attic. He always felt bitter and empty to be in the same room where his old brother was attacked by Red Hot Chili Pepper.

That day, Okuyasu was in such a good mood that he brought home two slices of cake from the cafe. The cake is a combination of mocha and vanilla chiffon slices that are glued together by vanilla buttercream. He liked it so much, he wanted to eat it together with his father.

"Daaad, I brought some cake!" he called out after stepping inside his house. 

A stout, bloated monster peered at him from the end of the hall. He spotted the bag carrying food and he shuffled towards his son.

"There you are-- whoa!" Okuyasu barely finished his words when Nijimura Sr snatched the bag from his hands. "H-Hey, Dad!"

Nijimura Sr ran away a bit before scarfing down on both cakes, including the bag, like an animal.

"Dad, stop!" Okuyasu cried. "That's for both of us!

Okuyasu is paralyzed with disgust and shock. He had seen his father like a simple-minded beast when he's desperate food many times before. Keicho, no matter how much he physically mistreated their father, would never purposely starve him. However, Okuyasu witnessed his father stealing food from the cabinets and it was the reason why Keicho forced him to live in the attic and tied up in chains in the first place. After Keicho died, Okuyasu decided that his father should live downstairs and unshackled. His father acted docile and lazy, but he seemed glad to be with his son. He still sometimes cries over his old photograph of his family but he has yet to realize that his oldest son has been dead for more than a month. Okuyasu thought his dad has become more docile; however, it seems Nijimura Sr has reverted back to his old habit.

"Dad… please…!" Okuyasu begged with tears in his eyes. His father kept munching on the cake slices, spilling his slimy drool on the floor. He is only listening to his hunger instead of his son's voice. Okuyasu's lost his temper and he kicked his father in the face. "I SAID STOP!!"

His father dropped the food from his mouth and he whimpered in pain. Okuyasu realized in horror; he violently lashed out at his father… like Keicho used to do. He covered his eyes with his hands so he wouldn't cry but his shoulders are shaking.

"S-sorry…" his voice is breaking. "I shouldn't have hit you. I think I'm gonna go out for a bit…"

Okuyasu walked out of his home, without looking back.

*&*&*

Okuyasu wandered around Morioh, still down in the dumps. Josuke must still be hanging out with Joseph and Fubuki must be taking his supplementary classes this afternoon. He was close to the train station when he thought about checking on Koichi, hoping that talking to him will ease his mind. He might even talk to Koichi's cute older sister Ayana.

Before he can start his trek to the Hirose house, two familiar delinquents blocked his path.

"Yo, Okuyasu," Ozu greeted him.

"Long time no see," Kitano smirked.

"What do you two want?!" Okuyasu demanded as he jumped back.

"Calm down," Ozu said. "Since our Big Sis has the hots for your best buddy Josuke, we're not your enemies."

"We're wondering if you don't mind hanging out with us today," Kitano said. "Big Sis can't come with us since she has to meet with her grandmother."

"Really?" Okuyasu is confused. "Wait, why would I hang out with you, Kitano? I heard that you made a girl stab her ears because she rejected you!"

Kitano flinched. "Are you kidding me? That was just a dumb gossip started by that shitbrain Mizoguchi of the Newspaper Club! I may be a punk but hurting dames ain't my style!"

"Oh… I guess you're making sense. But you haven't answered my question! Why would you invite me to hang out with you?"

"Still suspicious?" Ozu smirked and wrapped an around his shoulder. "When was the last time you hang out with your buddies?"

"Easy! That's this lunchtime!"

Ozu decided he gave up trying to convince Okuyasu so he removed his arm off.

"Yo, Kitano, let's just go play at the arcade," Ozu said.

"Whaaat?! But we've already been there!" Kitano complained. "And not to mention, we spent all our money on the pachinko parlor, we don't even have enough for more than two games…"

"Oh, I've already had that covered."

Ozu gave his friend a sly wink, which Okuyasu did not understand. However, Kitano seems to understand him and winked back.

Ozu and Kitano walked ahead, leaving Okuyasu far behind. Okuyasu thought they were being just weird but he now suddenly has a craving for something sweet.

He went to check his pocket and his heart dropped when he noticed his wallet is missing.

"N-no way! It's gone?!" he cried. "How did this happen?! I don't even have any holes in my uniform! Dammit, I was gonna use the 3,000 yen to buy ice-cream!"

He gasped when he figured out the truth. Ozu, without letting him know, had used his Stand, Beat It, to take his wallet.

"COME BACK, YOU ASSHOLES!!" Okuyasu screamed at the two delinquents who are far ahead of him. He began running after them. "GIMME BACK MY WALLET OR I'M GONNA SQUASH YOU BOTH LIKE COCKROACHES!"

Ozu and Kitano started running too. Okuyasu chased them through the busy sidewalk full of people visiting cafes and stores.

Up ahead, a street artist is halfway working on a chalk drawing on the sidewalk when Ozu and Kitano ran over his work. The street artist was about to yell at them when Okuyasu ran over his small bag full of chalks, unknowingly smashing them all to pieces.

"Aaah! My chalks!" he cried.

Okuyasu uttered a quick apology before pursuing the punks who robbed him.

Ozu and Kitano ran past Cafe Deux Magots, and Okuyasu realized he could use The Hand to 'teleport' himself forward.

The Hand appeared and swiped the space before him. However, Okuyasu accidentally crashed into a male waiter at the cafe and made dropping a tray full of food and hot coffee.

"Augh! My shirt!" the waiter cried as hot coffee splashed onto his chest. "Y-you buffoon! How could you?!"

Okuyasu just ran without bothering to apologize to him.

Ozu and Kitano are now heading down into Kotodai neighborhood. They glanced back to see if Okuyasu is still chasing them when they both tripped over and landed on their faces.

"Ow! My nose!" Kitano cried as blood dripped all over his mouth.

It is Miyazaki who tripped them. He just stepped outside of a grocery store called Owson. His hair is untidy and he seemed to be in a foul and depressed mood today.

"Oh, dear! Careful where you run," he said sarcastically before walking off. "The sidewalk today is very slippery."

At this moment, Okuyasu finally caught up to the delinquents.

"There you are!" he yelled. "Now give me back my walle