Chapter 1: Prologue
Hey! So I realized I had no idea where I was going with the original fic, so I decided I'd scrap what I had and rewrite the boy. We're now going in mostly the same direction, but with some important changes and added characters! Plus I decided to throw Part 5 in here too, so we're going to have lots of fun with multiple little family units. Hope this is better! Please enjoy.
This chapter has a couple disturbing themes involving some insanity, obsession with people who have died, suicide, and a lot of grief. Check the notes at the end for exactly what's going on. You don't need to read this chapter to understand or enjoy the rest of the fic.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Giorno went a little crazy, after the end. Not too crazy, not enough to impair his function, certainly not enough to interfere with his work as the Don, but… not entirely sane, either. No one was ever really sure what was wrong with him, only that he would disappear sometimes and come back all disheveled, like he’d been crying, but oddly blank. Every time it happened, it was like he couldn’t see or hear, like the reality he was living in was somehow divorced from everyone else’s.
Then, he died.
After the funeral, his inner circle - Mista, Fugo, Sheila, a few others they’d picked up along the way, plus Trish who joined them in grieving - went through his house, where they found the bodies of Bruno, Abbachio, and Narancia embalmed in a crypt underneath his office, in glass cases just like Snow White.
“I thought he buried them in their hometowns,” whispered Trish, grabbing onto Mista’s arm.
“I think he did,” muttered Fugo. “Look at these. They’re not… the bodies are all wrong. There’s seams on the necks. He… he took off their heads and used Golden Experience to remake their bodies. Their real corpses are where we buried them all those years ago.”
Trish’s fingers tightened on Mista’s bicep. “Is- is this where he’s been going? All those times he-”
“Best not to think about it,” Mista interrupted. “He- Whatever happened down here, Giorno’s… Giorno’s gone now.” He sniffled. It didn’t seem real. Giorno was never supposed to die. It had never felt like the man was even mortal, up until the day it was proven for good. “He’s with them. For real.”
“Mista, I think Giorno’s been gone for a long time.”
He looked over at Fugo, who was clutching himself, probably wondering what would’ve happened, what would’ve been different if he’d just gotten on that damn boat. Mista sometimes wondered that himself, but it was in the past now. Nothing could be done anymore.
Sheila and the others were still upstairs, sorting through Giorno’s things.
“What are we going to do with the bodies?” asked Trish.
“Burn them,” said Fugo. “Scatter their ashes over their real graves. Then fill this basement with concrete.”
Mista couldn’t disagree.
In Giorno’s study was a letter from Jotaro Kujo. They’d started corresponding recently, after Passione reached out to the Speedwagon Foundation to combine forces during a Stand crisis. This particular letter wasn’t even remotely official; it was a personal account on the death of one Noriaki Kakyoin. They didn’t have anyone who could read Japanese in the group, so they had to wait about a week before it was translated.
It’s been more than ten years, and I still miss him, Kujo had written. I miss him every day. They said it gets better, but it hasn’t. Let me know if it does for you.
Then they found Giorno’s journals.
I understand now, what it means to be a Joestar, he’d written. It means victory, but it also means loss. All of our friends are fated to die, or we are fated to leave them too soon.
“God, Giorno, you’re so unlucky. You got both,” said Trish, sniffling.
Three weeks later, Diavolo’s body washed up on the shore of the Tiber. It seemed he’d been released from whatever Giorno did to him, but he’d fallen into the water and his ordeal made him much too weak to swim, so he just drowned.
“It’s pathetic,” said Mista, shaking his head. “We spent all that time trying to kill him and in the end, it wasn’t even us. It was the fucking river.”
“No. It was Giorno,” said Fugo. “Giorno, and Bruno, and you. Trish and Narancia. Abbacchio.”
But not you, thought Mista.
Four days later, Fugo’s body washed up on the shore of the Rubicon. His throat had been melted away.
I’d give anything for things to be different, Jotaro Kujo had written.
God, could Mista relate.
Their souls walk beside them,
An army stands behind them,
Two worlds collide around them.
It was time to try again.
So here's what happened: Giorno went off the deep end a little and did something weird with the bodies of the friends he lost. He was also corresponding with Jotaro about their similar grief. He has died in this chapter, but the universe is sort of resetting itself and he'll be back very, very soon. :D Also, Fugo is strongly implied to have killed himself.
The, uh, little ditty at the end there is a reference to a song in the Golden Compass movie. I think it's called Lyra? I just thought it was neat how she had her soul beside her as Pan, and our Jojos have their souls beside them as their stands. The bit about the two worlds is about how they have all these crazy stand fights, but they also have to mesh with normal life, which is a theme I felt wasn't really explored all that much in canon.
Chapter 2: Dinner
Jonathan Joestar stared dumbly down at the blood dripping onto his front porch. Then at the key in the lock, currently home to a small piece of his skin. Then at the lock. Then at the blood again.
He sighed into his grocery bags and rang the doorbell to his own home.
It took a moment for someone to come get him, and when they did, it was Dio. Jonathan stared dumbly at him, too.
“Well?” said Dio. “Are you just going to stand there all night?”
“You’re in my way,” said Jonathan.
Dio sneered. “Isn’t that the truth.”
“Good grief. Move,” grumbled another voice, shoving Dio aside. “Give me one of those bags, Jonathan.”
“Thanks, Jotaro,” said Jonathan, handing him the milk. Jotaro glared at him in acknowledgement and pushed the door completely open with his shoulder, clearing the way for his older brother to finally enter the damn house. Dio folded himself against a wall and watched them pass, rolling his eyes.
“What happened to your hand,” said Jotaro.
“Huh? Oh! I cut it on the key.”
Jotaro squinted at him. “How did you cut your hand on the key.”
Jonathan felt stupid. “The, uh, the lock wouldn’t turn.”
Jotaro did not dignify this with a response.
Kakyoin was in the kitchen when they got there, stirring a pot. “Sauce is almost ready,” he told Jotaro. “Oh, hello Mr. Jonathan!”
“Please, just Jonathan,” said Jonathan. He almost asked Kakyoin to call him Jojo, but Kakyoin already called Jotaro that. At least it wasn’t as bad as when Joseph still lived here. Back then, if you called “Jojo” into the house at large, you’d get the attention of two teenagers, a tweenager, and one very enthusiastic baby.
Speaking of the no-longer-baby, she was out in the living room watching Teletubbies with… Dio, of all people. Jonathan watched them as he bandaged up his hand.
“I like the green!” Jolyne announced.
Dio gave her a pat on the head. “Dipsy is very nice, dear, but do you remember which one is our mortal enemy?”
“The sun!” she shouted at the very tippy top of her voluminous child lungs.
“Very good! Now, say it with me: Wryyyyyy!”
“Wryyyyyyy!” screeched Jolyne. Over at the stove, Kakyoin barked a surprised laugh.
“Gimme a break,” muttered Jotaro, closing the fridge. “Oi, Jonathan. Groceries.”
“Oh! Right!” Jonathan shook his head to banish his stupor and started putting things away.
“Fridge,” said Jotaro.
Jonathan stared at him. “What?”
“Orange juice goes in the fridge.”
Examining his surroundings, Jonathan found that he was currently in the middle of trying to put a gallon of orange juice in the cabinet above the microwave. “Oh.”
“Good grief,” muttered Jotaro. “Go sit on the couch.”
“Okay.” That was probably best.
He ended up sitting next to Jolyne and watching Teletubbies with her and Dio, who did not acknowledge his presence. Somewhere in the middle of what he could not distinguish between the actual content of the episode and an acid dream, he must’ve drifted off, because the next thing he knew, he was horizontal on the couch under the throw and Josuke was shaking him awake.
“Hi, Sukey,” he murmured. “When did you get home?”
“Just now!” said Sukey Joestar, beaming at him. Josuke had such a nice smile. “How was Dad’s appointment?”
Jonathan winced. Their father had been sick for a while now; it looked like he was on his way out. Neither of his littler siblings knew how bad it was, but Dio did, and if Dio knew then Jotaro knew.
“That bad, huh?” said Sukey.
Then again, Sukey had probably figured it out, too.
Jonathan forced a smile. “It went okay.”
“That’s good!” said Sukey, not sounding convinced at all. “Come on, let’s go get him. Dinner’s ready.”
“Five more minutes,” groaned Jonathan.
“Come ooon, you’re not gonna make me go get Dad all by myself, are you?” whined Sukey, hopping up and down. “Jonathaaaan, I thought you loved meeee.”
“He’s not going to bite you,” said Jonathan, but he was already sitting up.
“I know, but he’s scary,” Sukey stage-whispered.
Josuke hadn’t met his father until he was nine years old, which was around the time when Jonathan and Dio started having the really bad fights. Most of what he’d seen of George was him trying to break up brawls between two very large, angry boys, which involved a lot of yelling. Then, he got sick. Since Sukey had come to live with the Joestars, the two of them hadn’t spoken very much.
“Aww, he’s not that bad,” said Jonathan. “Come on, let’s go get him. I’m sure a visit from you will cheer him right up.”
“You really think so?”
“Of course!” said Jonathan, grinning. “You just cheered me up, didn’t you?”
“Aww, thanks, Jojo,” said Sukey, smiling again.
At their father’s bedroom door, Jonathan gave him a little push. “Go on.”
“Whew! Okay.” Sukey rolled his shoulders, straightened his back, and turned the knob.
“Jonathan? Is that you?” called George.
“N-no,” said Sukey. “It’s me, Josuke.” He stepped into the room, smile wavering. “Hi, Dad.”
“Hello, Josuke,” said George, smiling kindly. “It’s good to see you. Finally decided to pay your poor old father a visit, have you?”
“S-sorry! It’s just- I have to leave in the morning for school, and- you’re always asleep-”
“Calm down, son, I was just teasing.” George laughed. “Come sit! Tell me about your day.”
Jonathan smiled at them and decided he’d leave them to it for a few minutes. He went back to the kitchen, where Jotaro and Dio were plating up some spaghetti. Kakyoin had sat Jolyne up on the counter so she could pick out the animal cup she wanted.
“I want dolphin!” she declared.
“Okay,” said Kakyoin, nudging it into her chubby little hand. “Why dolphin today, Miss Jolyne?”
Jolyne giggled. She loved being called Miss. “Because I’m sitting by Jojo today, an’ Jojo likes dolphin!”
“Remember there’s lots of Jojos here, Miss Jolyne,” Kakyoin gently reminded her. “Which Jojo are you sitting by?”
“Okay, but if you’re sitting by Jotaro, you have to sit by me too,” said Kakyoin, pouring her some juice.
“Yay! I wanna sit by Nori, too!”
Jonathan grinned, pouring himself a glass of sparkling water. “What, no love for me, Miss Jolyne?”
She gave him an imperious once-over. “I sit by Big Jojo tomorrow.”
“Promise?” Jonathan held out his pinky.
She wrapped her own tiny pinky around it. “Promise!”
Jonathan went to the table to set his glass down and was met with Jotaro’s stare. “Where’s Dad and Sukey?”
“They were having a bonding moment, so I left them alone for a moment,” Jonathan explained. “I’ll go get them once the food’s on the table.”
He did. Then they were all seated: George at the head of the table, the opposite end set with an empty place for Jonathan and Joseph’s late mother, Dio and Jonathan by George, the whole Jotaro-Jolyne-Kakyoin arrangement on the bench by Dio, and Sukey in the chair by Jonathan. It had used to be Joseph’s chair, but Sukey had moved up one so there wasn’t an empty seat between him and Jonathan.
“So how’s grad school, Mr. Jonathan?” asked Kakyoin politely after a while.
“Just Jonathan,” he replied automatically, although they were all pretty sure by now getting Kakyoin to call him or Dio - or god forbid, George - by just their first names was a completely lost cause. “Grad school is wonderful! Mr. Zeppeli and I worked on an embalmed caiman today, from South America. We’re putting it on display in the museum. I’m quite proud of it!”
“That sounds excellent, son,” said George. “And what about our board of directors? Did you meet with them today?”
“I did, Father,” said Jonathan.
“Good, good! How did it go?”
Jonathan swallowed. “They’re advising us to sell the company.”
The table fell silent.
“Really,” said Dio, sipping his wine with an arched brow.
Jotaro blinked disinterestedly in their direction, then went back to cutting a bite of spaghetti for Jolyne. Kakyoin said something to her in a hushed tone and she giggled. Sukey was staring resolutely down at his plate, which had barely been touched.
“Well, I trust you refused them,” said George.
“Of course, Father,” said Jonathan. He sighed. “But… nevermind.”
“No, no, go on,” said George. “I want to hear what you have to say.”
Dio muttered something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like I quite think you don’t.
He was right. “It’s nothing,” said Jonathan. “Just something silly.”
George shook his head. “Nonsense. You’re my son, and I value your advice. If you have an opinion, then I want to hear it.”
Jonathan heaved another, more frustrated sigh. “Well, it’s just that… I kind of think we ought to sell, is all.”
“Why?” said George, frowning. “What could we possibly gain from that? Why, we’d- we’d lose our primary source of income. You’d be out of a guaranteed job. And who knows what one could do with a law firm as well-made as ours? What if we sold it to the wrong person?”
“Father, we don’t really need a primary source of income,” said Jonathan. “Our family has been rich for generations. Besides, I’m doing well in grad school, and I really think I could have a good career as a museum curator. We wouldn’t be out of income at all. And maybe selling the firm would be good for you, too! You wouldn’t have to worry so much about it all the time. You might even get better quicker!”
“Why, I- Just what are you saying, Jonathan?” blustered George. “That firm has been in our family for generations! We can’t just give it up. And do you really think you want to pursue a career in- in taxidermy instead of rising to glory as the head of the Joestar business empire?”
“It’s not just taxidermy, Father,” Jonathan protested weakly. “I really do love my work. I just… don’t think I’d be happy as the head of the firm, is all.”
“Nonsense, Jonathan, you’d love it,” said George. “And besides, there’s more at stake than your happiness, anyhow. When are you going to marry that Erina of yours? Just have a son as quick as possible and pass it on to him, and you can spend your retirement in your precious museums. You could even afford to buy some if you wanted.”
“We’re- we’re taking it slow,” mumbled Jonathan. “I don’t want to rush her.”
“Well, do hurry it along. At this point I’m going to die without any grandchildren,” said George.
A fork collided rather aggressively with a plate. Everyone looked at Jotaro. Jotaro looked back.
“You forgot about Jolyne, Dad,” he said.
George made a dismissive noise. “So I did. My point still stands, however. Jonathan, you need to finish your doctorate and start building your own family as soon as possible so I can die in peace, knowing our bloodline has been continued. Legitimately.”
“What does le-legimaly mean?” Jonathan heard Jolyne whisper to Kakyoin.
“Don’t worry about it,” Kakyoin whispered back. “I’ll tell you later.”
“Jonathan,” said George, “do you understand me?”
“Yes, Father,” said Jonathan. His throat felt very dry. He took a sip of his sparkling water.
“While you’re at it, you should start drinking wine, too,” said George, raising his own glass. “Dio! My son. Would you pour us all a glass?”
“Yes, Father,” said Dio, getting up.
“I want one!” protested Jolyne, as everyone was served but her.
Dio ruffled her hair. “No. You’re too little.” He put the wine bottle away and sat down.
“Thank you, Dio,” said George. “A toast! To Jonathan, and the future of the Joestar family.”
“To Jonathan,” everyone mumbled, except for Jotaro (and Jonathan). They clinked glasses. Jotaro tossed his back like it was a shot.
Jolyne clapped. “Jojo so fast! Teach me! Teach me!”
“I’ll show you how to do it with water,” Jotaro muttered.
“No! Juice!” said Jolyne, tugging on his sleeve. “I wanna learn with juice, Jojo!”
“Okay. We can do it with juice.”
Jonathan looked over at Sukey, who’d been quiet for the whole meal. He’d only taken a tiny sip of his own wine, and his plate was still half-full. He discreetly touched his little brother’s shoulder. “You doing okay?”
“Yeah,” whispered Sukey. “Can we watch a movie tonight, Jojo?”
Jonathan shook his head. “Sorry, Sukes. I’m too tired. I gotta go to bed. We can watch an episode of Naruto, though.”
Sukey nodded. “That sounds fine. Can we watch The Princess Bride this weekend?”
“Okay,” said Jonathan. “Let’s do it Friday night.”
Chapter 3: Night at the Joestars
Everyone goes to bed.
“So how was your talk with Dad?” asked Jonathan, later, when he was huddled up on the couch under the throw with Sukey. Onscreen, Naruto was telling somebody off for being an asshole. Or something. Jonathan had long since given up trying to understand what was going on.
Josuke snuggled further into his shoulder. “It was okay.”
Sukey sighed. “I mean, it was fine, but… we didn’t really talk much, if that makes sense? He kept telling me he was proud of me and all…”
“Well, that’s good, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” said Sukey, “but… it didn’t sound like he actually was, if you get what I mean.”
Jonathan winced. “I guess I do get what you mean a little.”
Upstairs, Jotaro and Kakyoin were busy putting Jolyne to bed. She was making Jotaro tell her that story about that one time he beat someone up for some reason or another. Jonathan could never remember why. It seemed to change every time he told it. Maybe all of those stories were just separate times he’d beaten someone up. He could hear the sound of Jotaro reenacting his ora, ora! battle cry amidst Jolyne’s shrieks of laughter, and a few quieter sounds of amusement that he guessed were from Kakyoin.
I really ought to talk to that boy about his violent habits, he thought. He can’t just solve every problem he has with his fists.
Another realization struck him. Hey, wait a minute. How long has Kakyoin been here? It feels like I saw him this morning, too… and he was here for the whole weekend…
“Dad wants me to work at the company,” said Sukey.
Before he could help himself, Jonathan made a noise of sympathy.
“Do you want to?” he asked.
Sukey shook his head. “No. I want to be a doctor.” He was nodding off.
“Well, then you can be a doctor,” said Jonathan. “Maybe you could even do your residency with Erina! I’ll talk to her about it. She’s amazing. I can’t wait until she’s Doctor Pendleton. That’ll be great.”
Josuke smiled sleepily. “Yeah, that sounds awesome. Thanks, Dad,” he murmured. Seconds later, he was snoring.
Jonathan, meanwhile, had gone rigid. Dad?
Jotaro was facing a dilemma.
There was a bowl of popcorn in his lap, and if he went to sleep with it there, it would definitely spill all over the bed and he’d have to change the sheets. On the other hand, if he tried to put it on his bedside table, he’d wake up Noriaki, who was in the way, and also using his shoulder as a pillow.
He’d long since muted their documentary, content to watch the fish swim in silence. He really only wanted to see them, anyways, and he couldn’t care less about the man in the voiceover telling him what they were. He already knew what they were. That was a holacanthus bermudensis, and a member of phylum porifera, and lots of other things he could tell you about in great detail.
Noriaki hadn’t even really cared about the TV at all. He’d just wanted to paint Jotaro’s nails. Which he’d done quite well. They were now a nice shade of turquoise, and he’d put some sort of gloss over them that had sparkles in it. The bottles of polish were lined up nicely on Jotaro’s nightstand. Jotaro stared at them while he contemplated what he should do.
A knock. Jotaro looked up. The door swung open, revealing the hulking form of one Dio Brando, who took one look at the two teenagers in the bed and raised a very invasive eyebrow.
“Get lost,” Jotaro muttered at him.
Dio tsk’d. “Is that any way to speak to your favorite brother?”
“You’re not my favorite.”
“Oh? Then who is?”
“Jonathan,” said Jotaro, to spite him.
“And here I was going to be nice and take that bowl of popcorn out of your lap,” said Dio, scowling. He turned to go.
“Wait,” said Jotaro. “I just said that to make you mad at me. Take the popcorn.”
Dio paused. “And? Why should I?”
Jotaro sighed. “Fine. You’re my favorite brother, Dio.”
“That’s better,” said Dio, plucking the bowl off the comforter. “I’ll go ahead and take this downstairs for you, too. And just because I’m nice, I won’t tell Jonathan you brought food upstairs.”
“He does it too,” grumbled Jotaro.
“Well, we all already know he’s a hypocrite.”
Jotaro grunted irritably. “He’s not. You’re just saying that because Dad likes him better than you.”
“I don’t need Father to like me,” Dio hissed.
“No, you don’t,” Jotaro agreed. “You just need Jonathan to like you.”
“Fuck you, Jotaro,” said Dio, a hair too loud. Noriaki stirred.
They both glanced at him.
Jotaro glared. “If you wake him up, I’ll beat your face in.”
Amazingly, this served to defuse the situation. Dio rolled his eyes. “Whatever. Sleep well, lover boy.” He even closed the door on the way out.
“Remind me why he’s your favorite again?” said Noriaki, sliding off of Jotaro’s shoulder and onto an actual pillow.
“He woke you up,” muttered Jotaro.
“Very astute,” said Noriaki. “Now come cuddle me.”
“Your arm’s going to fall asleep like that.”
“You’re not gonna like that in the morning.”
“Tell morning me to shove it.”
“Are your nails dry?”
“Noriaki, you’ve been asleep for an hour.”
“Mmkay. ‘Night, Jojo.”
Jonathan startled awake, sensing a presence pass before him. He opened his eyes just in time to catch the tail end of Dio sliding out of his field of view and into the kitchen, holding a bowl.
Dio stilled, detecting movement. Privately Jonathan allowed himself to be reminded of a cheetah: long-limbed, golden, perpetually nervous (though God knew Dio would never show it.)
“Jonathan,” said his not-brother. “Sleeping on the couch tonight? Come on, Erina doesn’t even live with you and you’re already getting kicked out of the bed.”
“Do you ever say anything nice?” Jonathan shot back. “I’m not in the mood.”
“Too bad. I am,” said Dio. “And of course I say nice things. Even I have to have a heart. Just not for you.”
“Don’t be a dick, Dio,” said Sukey, sleepily flipping him the bird.
Dio eyed him appraisingly, noting the way he was snuggled up to Jonathan. “I see dear old Dad still isn’t paying you enough attention.”
“Hey! What the fuck is that supposed to mean?!”
“Language, Sukey,” said Jonathan, tiredly rubbing at his brow.
“Gee, thanks, Padre,” said Dio.
Jonathan’s eyes fluttered shut. “Oh god, not you too,” he muttered under his breath.
Dio just rolled his eyes at him. “Come on, old man, get off the couch. I can’t binge Letsplays of Corpse Party at two am with you skulking about. Also, if you stay there all night, your back will be sore, and I’ll have to listen to you complain about it all morning.”
“I’m twenty-eight,” said Jonathan. “We both are. And I don’t complain.”
“No, I’m twenty-seven. My birthday’s in December.”
Was Dio… hurt?
Jonathan felt stupid. “Oh. Sorry. I always just assume we’re the same age.”
“Josuke’s going to fall asleep on you again if you don’t get moving,” said Dio. Jonathan couldn’t tell if the change of subject and the curious tone in his voice were mollification or anger.
“M’ name’s Sukey,” mumbled Josuke, who was indeed on Jonathan and falling asleep.
Jonathan shook him gently. “C’mon, Sukes, let’s get out of your brother’s hair.”
“He’s in our hair.”
“Don’t you want to go upstairs? Sleep in your bed?”
“I wanna stay with you, Jojo,” said Sukey. “I miss you. We never see you anymore.”
“You’ll see me on Friday for sure,” said Jonathan, scooping him up.
“But that’s a whole week.”
“C’mon, Sukey. You need to go to sleep. School day tomorrow, remember?”
Dio watched them ascend the stairs and curled up on the warm spot in the couch, wrapping the throw around his shoulders. He went through a couple of episodes of Corpse Party on mute just to be sure. When the house was silent save for the sound of the grandfather clock ticking behind him, he put on his shoes and slipped out the door.
If you've noticed this chapter is a lot shorter than the last one, it's because I'm not real sure what I'm doing with each 'episode' yet. I'm just kinda throwing things out there, establishing the atmosphere and stuff, and I'm probably going to post lots of chapters of varying length. I don't really want to pressure myself into consistency other than with plot n' stuff, so I'm just gonna toss up what feels like a wrap and worry about editing later. :D We've got a couple other households to hit on our entrance into the week - this was a Sunday night I just spent two chapters outlining - so time may not flow linearly between chapters? I'll figure it out as I get inspired. Anyways, next chapter looks like it is either gonna be morning rush with the Joestars or dinner at Bucciarati House. Don't hold me to it, though. Hope y'all're enjoying!
Chapter 4: Bucciarati House
This is still Sunday night. Doppio and Trish head over to Capo's for dinner.
The kitchen was bustling, and Leone had long since given up trying to keep track of everything that was going on. Bruno was busy trying to take a chicken out of the oven. He was sure Narancia was trying to be helpful, but the way he was standing over the stove meant his arm was in the way and Bruno kept bumping his head against it. Fugo had given up on the potatoes and decided to try mashing something else: Mista’s head. Giorno, frantically setting down a tray of rolls on the counter, muscled between them, only to get bonked on the head by Fugo’s rolling pin.
Leone was just glad his job was setting the table.
He’d have to go back into the kitchen in a moment to get cups - no one was allowed to get their own cups after the Incident - but for now, he decided it was safer to just sit and watch the chaos play out.
The doorbell rang.
“Oh!” said Bruno, finally maneuvering Narancia out of his way so he could straighten up with the chicken pan, red checkered potholders between his hands and the hot metal dish. “Leone, will you get that?”
“Sure thing, Capo,” said Leone, already heading towards the door.
Bruno rolled his eyes good-naturedly at the stupid nickname and continued trying to wrangle the kids. “Fugo! Stop that, you’re getting butter everywhere! Don’t egg him on, Mista, or I swear I’ll-”
Leone tuned out the sounds of struggle and looked out through the peephole, hoping to god it wasn’t the landlord.
It was not. Instead, he was met with a much more (though he’d never admit it) welcome sight - two pink heads of hair, standing at about his titty level.
He wrenched open the door. “Just what are you two kids doing on my lawn at this hour, huh?”
“H-hello, Mister Abbacchio! We, um, we were wondering if we could come stay with you guys tonight,” said Vinegar Doppio, trying to hide behind the large Costco pumpkin pie in his arms. Behind him, his sister Trish had a loaf of bread and a partly-green bunch of bananas, the biggest one Leone had ever seen.
“Interesting offerings you’ve brought,” he said, raising an eyebrow.
“W-well we just thought we should-”
Leone rolled his eyes. “Fine, fine. Come on in, Dop. You too, Trish. We’re just about to set the table.” He stepped aside, opening the door completely.
“So what happened?” Bruno asked them later, when everyone had calmed down and Giorno was done picking all the bits of potato off of Mista’s hat. Narancia was teasing Fugo about losing his temper and Fugo looked like he was about to lose it again, but they quieted easily enough.
Doppio looked down at his plate. He looked so sad. Leone could see the dark circles under his lashes, the sallow skin around his eyes.
It was Trish who spoke.
She looked a lot better than her brother, but that was probably the power of concealer at work. She didn’t seem sad, but she’d barely let Bruno serve her anything. She hadn’t even wanted a slice of pie.
“Massimo Volpe came over earlier today,” she said. “He and Dad have been holed up in the kitchen. It gets crazy every time he’s there, so we didn’t want to stick around.”
Diavolo. That piece of shit junkie, thought Leone.
Bruno sighed. “I understand completely. I’m sorry, you two. You’re welcome to stay here for the night, if you’d like.”
“Yes, please,” murmured Doppio.
“Aaawww!” Narancia latched onto his shoulder. “Don’t be sad, Dop! We’ll have fun! It’ll be just like a sleepover. You can hang out with me and Mista!”
“Yeah! We can watch chick flicks and vines and play Truth or Dare,” said Mista, nudging him through Narancia.
“Can I play?” asked Giorno.
“What? Don’t be silly, of course you can play!” Mista threw an arm around his shoulder. “You play, too, Trish. It’ll be just like old times.”
“I’m not playing,” grumbled Fugo.
Trish smacked him. “Come on, pudding, don’t be a wet blanket.”
He immediately recoiled. “Don’t fucking call me that! You fucking-”
“Fugo,” said Bruno, reaching across the table. “Fugo. Passerotto. Be calm.”
Fugo released a shuddering breath. “Yes, Bucciarati.”
“Well done . ” Bruno turned to Doppio and Trish. “I’m glad you two came over tonight. Giorno? Will you get the air mattress?”
“Okay,” said Giorno, immediately standing up.
“Thank you. Everybody else, help me clear the table. No, not you, Doppio, you take your sister and go sit on the couch, okay?”
When everything had been put away, Leone went to the sink where Bruno was washing the last of the plates and put his arms around his waist, kissing the top of his head.
“Hey,” he said into Bruno’s shoulder.
“Hi,” said Bruno, dipping his head forward so Leone could nuzzle him better.
“How was your day?”
“Oh,” said Bruno, “it was alright.”
Bruno worked as a clerk at the local Barnes and Noble, right across from Cafe Polnareff a short distance away from the high school. It wasn’t great money, but combined with Leone’s policeman salary, Mista’s auto mechanic job, and whatever the rest of the kids could get, it was enough to rent them a two-bedroom house in an only slightly crappy part of town without anyone going hungry.
“Good to hear,” said Leone. He slid his hands down to Bruno’s hips. “Feeling any better?”
“Yeah, I think I’m alright now. Still felt a little sniffly this morning, but I haven’t been coughing at all,” said Bruno. All of a sudden, he winced, twisting away from Leone’s grip.
“Oh shit. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” sighed Bruno.
Leone leveled him with a Look.
Bruno glanced away. “I fell off a ladder earlier while I was reshelving. Landed on my side. It’s fine, it’s just a bruise.”
“Jesus Christ, Bruno, are you sure you’re fine? Let me have a look at it.”
“Later,” said Bruno, pushing Leone’s hand off. “Let’s get everybody settled first.”
A loud burst of laughter from the living room startled them out of the moment. “Wait, Giorno, you didn’t really ,” Doppio was saying, eyes wide as the moon.
“I totally did,” said Giorno. “Downed the whole thing in one gulp.”
Bruno raised an eyebrow at Leone. “Ever wish you hadn’t done that?”
“Don’t bring it up,” he muttered.
“Mm, I see. How was your day, dearest?”
So Leone told him about the guy who really didn’t want a parking ticket, the other guy who seemed to have an unhealthy attachment to his chihuahua, and said some more about the really big guy who’d accidentally t-boned him and his partner Mark at an intersection and was surprisingly quite apologetic. He mentioned Mark was getting married soon, to which Bruno responded with a “that’s nice.” Leone could never tell if Bruno was for or against marriage. He hoped to god it was the former.
“Don’t stay up too late. School tomorrow,” Bruno yelled into the living room, before Leone whisked him into the hallway.
They passed Fugo on the way to their bedroom, sitting on his own bed in the room he shared with Giorno, deeply immersed in a book. The air mattress Giorno had set up for Dop and Trish used to be Leone’s, when he was crashing in there with Fugo and Narancia. Then they’d picked up Mista, and Narancia moved out to the living room to hang out with him, and then Leone moved into the other room with Bruno, and Fugo got the place to himself for a bit. He didn’t seem to mind sharing with Giorno too much. They were both uncannily neat for a pair of sixteen-year-olds.
Leone rapped on the doorframe. There wasn’t actually a door to the room, since Fugo broke it that one time when Mista and Narancia barricaded themselves inside after stealing his textbook. There was, however, a curtain Giorno had put up. It was thick and surprisingly good at both noise and light suppression. It hadn’t been drawn yet; Fugo never tended to close it until Giorno came to bed.
“Okay in there?” Leone called.
“Yeah,” said Fugo, not looking up.
“Come get us if you need anything,” Bruno told him. “Don’t let them stay up too late out there. Go get Giorno at eleven.”
“Okay. Thanks, Mom.”
Bruno huffed. “Just for that…” He went over to Fugo and gave him a big wet kiss on the cheek, complete with smacking noise.
Fugo fell over backwards, putting his hands over his face. “Brunooooo!”
“That’s what you get,” Bruno informed him, ruffling his hair. “Sleep well, okay?”
“You too, Bruabba,” said Fugo, peeking out from between his fingers. The little shit had a grin on his face.
“Oh, that is it .” Leone plopped down on the bed and proceeded to tickle him until he yelled for mercy.
“Oh my god, Dad, stop!”
“I’m not-!” Leone redoubled his efforts. “You be glad I’m so nice, you little fucker-”
“Well, I’m getting in on this too,” said Bruno, pouncing on Leone. Fugo took the opportunity to weasel out from under him and launch a counterattack. With the both of them ganged up on him, Leone didn’t stand a chance.
In the living room, Trish raised an eyebrow. “Are those guys okay back there? Sounds like somebody’s getting murdered.”
“Aw, they’re fine,” said Mista. “That’s Fugo’s inhuman screeching, which means he probably pissed off Abbacchio.”
“Oookay. Tell me again why I shouldn’t be worried?”
“Cause Abbacchio tickles the shit out of him when he’s mad,” said Narancia. “Dop. Threes?”
“Go fish,” replied Doppio. “Your turn, Giorno.”
“Okay. Narancia, threes?”
“Fuck you, Giogio.”
“Your threes, Narancia,” said Giorno with a smirk. “Give them to me.”
“Aw come oooooon! You suck, man.” Narancia reluctantly slid his precious cards across the carpet. Giorno plucked the third three (they played in sets of threes, not fours, for Mista’s sake) out of his hand and delicately dropped it onto the pile.
“Your turn, Trish,” he said brightly.
She did not appear to be listening. “Now it sounds like someone else is getting murdered.”
“Oh hell, it does.” Mista cupped a hand to his ear. “Hey, that sounds like Abba!”
Giorno perked up. “Abbacchio is losing a tickle fight?”
“Shit, I gotta see this,” said Narancia, dropping his cards.
“Bitch, you just don’t want to lose,” said Trish, rolling her eyes. “But yeah, let’s go watch Goth Dad get his ass kicked.”
They all crowded around the doorway, snickering as Leone tried with little success to foist Bruno and Fugo off of himself.
“Get off my lawn, you little asswipes,” he groaned, reaching behind him to toss a pillow at the congregation, which Narancia caught and hugged with a cheeky “Thanks, Dad!” This exposed his side, which his assailants immediately capitalized on. He absolutely did not squeal.
“Holy fuck, Dad,” said Mista, laughing.
“Language, Mista,” said Bruno, sitting up, deciding to show poor Leone some mercy.
“Hey! You let him say-”
Giorno let the noise of the squabble fade into the background. Fugo wasn’t ordinarily one for tickle fights, he knew, but tonight he looked almost happy. He was still blinking tears out of his eyes from laughing too hard. Giorno loved him, his stupid prickly attitude, his sass, his obsessive neatness… they way he’d pretend not to care and then turn around and do something nice anyways. In retrospect, that was probably why he was Abbacchio’s favorite son. Giorno, on the other hand, was pretty sure Big Tiddy Goth Cop still hated his guts. Sort of.
The clamor died down as Abbacchio painstakingly dragged himself off the bed, grabbed Bruno, and shouldered through the crowd at the doorway. “Yeah, yeah, laugh it up,” he grumbled, arm slung around Bruno’s waist. They disappeared into their bedroom. The door slammed. The bedsprings creaked. Somebody (probably Bruno) giggled.
“Ooo, Mom and Dad are gonna get it on,” Narancia stage-whispered, hugging his new pillow. Doppio immediately looked uncomfortable. Trish just rolled her eyes.
“Ew, gross,” said Mista, wrinkling his nose. “C’mon guys, let’s go put on a loud movie or something.”
“Actually, I think I’m going to bed,” said Giorno, covering a yawn. “I have an in-class essay tomorrow first period.”
Mista pouted. “Come on, Giogio, we’re gonna watch the Shining!”
“We are not watching the Shining,” said Trish.
“Right!” said Narancia. “Wait, no. I’m a manly man. We’re totally watching the Shining. I’m not scared.”
Giorno heard Fugo snort softly. “Sure.”
“Two to one, Trish,” Mista crowed. “What about you, Dop?”
“Shut the fuck up, Mista, we aren’t watching the Shining. If we do, Dop’s gonna cry all over my shirt, and I don’t have another one I can change into before tomorrow,” said Trish, stomping a foot.
“You can have one of mine,” said Narancia shyly. “We’re probably the same size. Wait, I mean, I’m probably bigger than you but, like, not too big, so it’ll fit okay.”
Narancia was shorter than Trish. For some reason, nobody decided to bring that up.
“Um, thanks!” she said. Was Giorno imagining it, or were her cheeks a little pink?
“I’m okay with the Shining,” said Doppio, sounding completely unconvinced.
“Hell yeah! The Shining it is.” Mista did a little victory hop and dashed into the living room, Narancia hot on his heels. Trish and Doppio followed at a more sedate pace. Giorno just rolled his eyes and retreated into his and Fugo’s bedroom, drawing the thick red curtain shut.
Fugo looked up from his book and frowned. “Don’t, like, all of them hate horror movies?”
Giorno snorted. “Trish is probably fine with anything, but yeah. Last time we watched Nightmare on Elm Street, Mista wouldn’t stop shaking and I think Narancia almost cuddled Bruno’s arm out of the socket.”
“I’d believe it,” Fugo deadpanned.
Giorno sat down next to him, eyes tracing over the words in his textbook but not really reading any of them. He could smell Fugo’s strawberry-scented shampoo, wafting off his freshly-showered white hair. Some of his natural ginger roots were starting to show. It was getting long, enough for him to have the top half tied back in a cute little ponytail.
“Why don’t you ever watch movies with us, Panno?” asked Giorno, resisting the urge to lean into his side.
Fugo twitched. Giorno only ever called him that name in private. He had no idea why, but he didn’t really mind. It was just going to take him a bit to get used to it.
“You know why,” he mumbled. “I’m not exactly the safest person around. The action kinda gets to me.”
“Well, it doesn’t have to be action movies. You could come watch Pretty Woman with me and Mista for the umpteenth time,” said Giorno.
“Why do you two like that movie so much?” asked Fugo, snorting.
“Mista’s just a sap, I guess, and I like spending time with him,” said Giorno. “More importantly, why are you dodging my question?”
“But you still haven’t answered it.”
They sat in silence for a moment. Then, very gently, Giorno laid a hand on Fugo’s shoulder.
“We should go to bed,” said Fugo, in place of any of the myriad of other things he wanted to say.
Giorno sighed. “Okay.” He got up and turned off the light. Fugo put his book on the dresser and got under the covers, listening to Giorno do the same in his own bed.
Bruno and Leone, sitting in a tree... Time to update the tags, I guess!
Chapter 5: Monday Morning
PILLAR FAMILY PILLAR FAMILY PILLAR FAMILY PILLAR FAMILY
Monday mornings are, were, and had been the scourge of all intelligent life since intelligent life became stupid enough to invent them. As someone who had lived through all of the ADs, most of the BCs, and a little bit before that, Wamuu was intimately acquainted with this fact. Accordingly, he had taken up a few habits to make them a little less unbearable for himself: Making himself a nice little pre-prepared pop-it-in-the-microwave breakfast the night before, taking tequila with his coffee, little things like that. But his favorite thing to do, and possibly the most baffling, was what he liked to call “sneaking up on the day” - otherwise known as waking up at four in the morning and pouring himself a bowl of Froot Loops for a fresh start.
“ Why? ” Santana had asked him once, softly, but with feeling.
“Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected,” Wamuu had replied. “Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. ”
He was on his two hundred and ninety-eighth reread of it, off a well-loved copy he’d acquired in ‘88. That was, 1088. Not only had he gotten it cheap off a court official after the anthology became more popular, but he’d also gotten to try out first hand the scenario of the Ship of Theseus with it over the years. Turned out doing Mandarin calligraphy on bamboo slats wasn’t so bad after all. He’d steadfastly (read: stubbornly) refused to update it from clerical to simplified script, which was definitely entirely due to a love of ancient forms of writing and had nothing to do with how Santana couldn’t read older forms of Mandarin because he’d only gotten around to visiting China in the ‘50s. That was, the 1950s.
Anyways, Wamuu loved that book. He’d have been reading it right then if he wasn’t eating Froot Loops. He’d never forgive himself if he accidentally spilled artificial food coloring all over it. He wasn’t sure if that would actually do anything to bamboo, but he was not keen on finding out.
He finished the last bite of his Froot Loops with a satisfying crunch and moved on to phase two, which was popping his nice little pre-prepared pop-it-in-the-microwave breakfast in the microwave while he poured himself a cup of tequila coffee. Just tequila, just coffee. No milk, no sugar, and definitely no miel de maguey syrup Santana got him from Mexico. While he waited for his food to finish, he got out his compact and started doing his makeup for the day.
“Son, what the fuck, ” said Kars from the doorway, unceremoniously announcing his presence. “It is four in the fucking morning. ”
“Good morning, Lord Kars. I bid you a glorious start to your Monday,” said Wamuu in reply. “Would you like some Froot Loops? Or perhaps, some tequila coffee?”
Kars plopped into a seat at the table. “Bequeath me.”
Sugary cereal tinkled into a ceramic bowl. “Is Lord Esidisi still asleep?”
“Like a baby,” said Kars, to the backdrop glug of tequila into a coffee mug. It stopped before he was emotionally prepared for it to. “Little more there, Wamuu.” The man silently complied.
Wamuu mixed in some miel de maguey for him too, then got his burrito out of the microwave and sat down, settling into a quiet enjoyment of their shared, balls-shrivelingly early repast.
The family iPad chimed, vibrating along to the sound of Toxic by Britney Spears. Kars grabbed it, propped it up with its keyboard case, and pressed the green phone icon. Then, after a moment’s hesitation, accepted it as a Facetime call.
“Goooooooood morning!” came Santana’s cheery voice from the other side of the screen. “Oh! Lord Kars! I wasn’t expecting you to be up. I thought I’d be stuck talking to that weirdo Wamuu.”
“It is four in the fucking morning, Santana,” said Kars.
By this time, Wamuu had shuffled over to that side of the table so he could unflinchingly stare into his brother’s eyes while eating a homemade breakfast burrito. “Good morning, prodigal one.”
“You’re not my dad,” said Santana, in a whiny imitation of the vine. Joseph Joestar had really been a bad influence on him. He flashed a wide grin. “How’re you doing, big guy?”
“Oh, come on, gimme something better than that, I haven’t seen you guys in weeks,” Santana complained, fluttering his lashes at the camera, eyelids dusted liberally with gold. “I’ve been great by the way, thank you for asking. We just touched down in Dubai an hour ago. I’m out with the squad. Say hi, everyone!” He aimed the phone towards his coworkers, who waved and offered drunken greetings, at least one of which was Hi everyone!
Wamuu smiled a little despite himself. “I can see a fish tank in the background. Are you at a fancy hotel?”
Santana beamed. “You bet! This bangin’ place is putting us up for the night. Drinks here are great. Oh, hey, speaking of drinks, how’s the maguey? ”
It was pretty good. “Acceptable,” said Wamuu. “When is your next flight?”
“Ugh, twenty hours,” said Santana, smacking his forehead with the back of his hand. “Straight to Cairo, then Rome, and then I think we’re going to France. I keep forgetting to check the itinerary.”
“When will you return home?” asked Kars. The tequila coffee seemed to have revitalized him a little; he no longer looked faintly dazed and was getting out his own compact.
Santana had to think about it a moment, taking his hand down to pillow his face with it. “Uh, I’ll be back in the States next week for the Chicago flight, but that’ll just be for a night before I go to San Francisco for the overnight to Tokyo. I don’t think I’ll make it down home for a while. Buuuut I got some time off coming up for Christmas, so I’ll definitely be home for that.”
Kars raised an eyebrow. “Christmas is more than a month away, Santana. And what of Thanksgiving?”
“Sorry, I gotta get that bread,” said Santana somewhat apologetically. “Thanksgiving is a bullshit holiday anyways, we all know this. I might have a couple of days off between now and then, but I’ll probably spend them in whatever city I end up in on those days. You know how it is.”
“I must admit I am beginning to miss your irritating presence,” Wamuu told him. “It is good that you will be home for Yule. It would not be the same without your drug-fueled antics.”
“Hey! No drugs this time. We’re keeping this Christmas family friendly,” said Santana. “Unless you want me to snort powdered sugar, which I will totally do.”
“Refrain from this activity,” said Kars.
“Aww.” Santana pouted. Then he appeared to remember something. “Oh! Hey! Dad, Wham, I had something I wanted to tell you. You know how I sometimes have those vaguely prophetic dreams?”
Wamuu did not like where this was going. “Yes?”
Santana smacked his lips. “Well, I had one the other night. I don’t remember it too well, but…” His face suddenly turned serious. “I got a really bad feeling about it. I’m talking seriously bad here. I’m not completely sure, but I think something terrible is about to happen, and it might have something to do with our friends, the Joestars.”
Kars and Wamuu looked at each other, frowning.
“The Joestars?” said Kars. “Is this the main family, or are you referring to Joseph and Caesar?”
Santana shrugged. “No clue. I just saw a star birthmark somewhere. And come on, Lord Kars, those two are the Zeppeli- Joestars. Well, soon to be, but get it right!”
Kars scoffed. “As if I care about those fool mortals’ name. Speaking of fool mortals, your table is on fire.”
“Pff. Wait, really?” Santana glanced behind him. “Oh shit! It is!” He cackled. “Fuckin’ tiki drinks. Alright, I probably oughta go. Long day and all that. Buenos noches, you guys!”
“I hope you do not asphyxiate in your sleep,” said Wamuu.
“Thanks,” said Santana. “I hope you don’t accidentally t-bone a cop car on your way home from work. Or has that happened already?”
Wamuu only avoided giving him the finger through great personal restraint.
“Rest well,” said Kars, snorting. “Aesthetically pleasing eyeshadow.”
Santana blinked like he’d forgotten he was wearing it. “Oh!” he said, laughing. “Thanks, Dad. Say hi to Other Dad for me. Buh-bye!” The screen went dark.
“So something terrible might happen with the Joestars,” mused Kars. “Say, Wamuu, are you not currently instructing two of their young progeny in the art of combat?”
“Indeed I am,” said Wamuu. “Jotaro and Josuke.”
“Excellent. Pass on your brother’s warning to them. If there is to be a repeat of the Joseph incident, at least they will have been forewarned.”
Wamuu raised an eyebrow. “With all due respect, Lord Kars, I believe they were forewarned last time as well. They simply chose to ignore the signs.”
“There may be some truth to that,” admitted Kars.
Noriaki had been right. His arm had fallen asleep. Trying not to disturb his bedmate, Jotaro eased it out from under Noriaki’s warm body and shook it out.
5:59 AM. With practiced grace, he summoned Star Platinum and smacked the OFF button on his alarm clock the exact millisecond it started to beep.
“Ora,” said Splat, hovering by the nightstand.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m up,” grumbled Jotaro, and dragged himself out of bed, gently brushing off Noriaki’s sleepy grasp and a few tentacles of Hierophant Green that had wound their way around his body overnight.
He padded quietly down the hallway, avoiding the spots on the floor that would make the old boards creak. Jonathan’s door was closed, but when he pressed his ear to it, he could hear the sound of his big brother snoring. Josuke’s door was open, so he looked in for a moment, just in case. His lips twitched in one of his normal barely-there smiles as he saw Sukey starfished on his back, covers wound completely around one leg, pillow on the floor.
Stopping by Dio’s room next, he was unsurprised to find the bed empty and neatly made. Jotaro wasn’t sure the man ever actually slept, and when he did, it was downstairs on the couch with Netflix on the TV wanting to know if he was still awake. And of course, baby Jolyne was fast asleep in her bed, clutching her pink butterfly plushie. Her hair was a mess. They’d have to brush it out again before school, and then she’d probably want her little buns, too. Jotaro leaned against her doorframe for a second and sent Splat in to tuck her in a little tighter before turning off the hall light and heading downstairs.
He was surprised to see the couch was vacant, having fully expected Dio to be sitting on it, either awake or asleep. The throw was missing, which meant he’d probably taken it with him to whatever quiet corner he was crashing in. Well, at least there was a good chance he’d gotten some rest. Jotaro spared the sofa another glance, then grabbed a towel out of the laundry room and got his water bottle out of the fridge. He slid open the door to the backyard and got started on his morning workout, savoring the cool air and beginnings of pale light.
Thirty minutes later, muscles pleasantly sore, he lumbered onto the back porch and plopped down on the cover of their hot tub. He still had no idea why they had that thing, considering Father never used it, but it was a nice place to sit.
“ Ohayou, Jojo,” said a very welcome voice.
Jotaro looked up. “Nori.”
Noriaki grinned and sauntered over. He was already dressed, green school uniform buttoned up to the chin. They’d bought their outfits together with their birthday money from Aunt Holly when they were fourteen. Noriaki’s had been too big for him, so he’d simply grown into it, but Jotaro had gone through such a big growth spurt that he’d had to add more panels to the back of his gakuran himself. Then he’d added a big-ass chain, just for the hell of it. He was considering adding a patch of the rainbow flag for Noriaki, but… well. Joseph.
A soft touch on his face brought him back to the present. Nori cupped his cheek and hopped onto the hot cover, straddling his legs. His weight was warm and reassuring. Jotaro summoned Splat so he could lean his back against it, and Noriaki summoned Hierophant so he could lazily wind its tentacles through the backyard, exploring. The web of green that slowly wove its way around them was comforting, too.
“Aren’t you gonna tell me good morning?” said Noriaki, adjusting the towel around the collar of Jotaro’s sweaty t-shirt.
“Good morning,” said Jotaro, trying to sound grumpy and failing.
“Jonathan’s up. He’s heading out,” said Nori.
Jotaro grunted. “It’s six-thirty in the morning. Where the hell does he need to be?”
“Taking Mr. George to the hospital, I guess,” said Nori. “Where’s Lord Dio?”
“Dunno,” said Jotaro, snorting at the nickname. “Probably somewhere dark. He stole the throw.”
“Mm. Shame. I liked that throw.”
They basked in each other’s company for a moment, then went inside to make breakfast.
Good thing Josuke’s not up, thought Jotaro, beating the eggs for the omelettes. If he was, then he’d have poured himself a big bowl of Frosted Flakes by now, and Jotaro took great pleasure in denying his little brother creature comforts while simultaneously making sure he got a healthy, nutritious breakfast. Sukey was a growing boy and needed his vitamins.
“Did Jolyne say what she wanted for breakfast?” Nori asked him as he finished up chopping the omelette vegetables.
Jotaro considered. He didn’t think she had, but then again, it wouldn’t be too hard to pick something. “Peanut-butter jelly sandwich and applesauce,” he decided.
Noriaki hummed. “Easy enough. D’you think we could get her to try a bite of omelette this time?”
It was a rhetorical question, so Jotaro didn’t answer it. Instead, he passed the egg bowl off to Nori as he hunted for things to put in Jolyne’s lunchbox. Annie’s Homegrown Bunny Grahams, a Capri Sun, a tiny apple, some chocolate… He quickly assembled a ham and swiss, cutting the crusts off, and threw it in with a bag of chips for good measure. Then he put Noriaki’s old cherry-themed water bottle from seventh grade that Jolyne had appropriated in the side pouch, because hydration was important.
Together, they assembled the rest of breakfast: Toast, fruit, milk, PB&J for Jolyne, some applesauce for everybody. The clock on the stove read 7:00 AM. On cue, Sukey’s loud, bassy wake-up music reverberated through the house. They could hear the groans as he scooted over to shut it off, then the shrieks of laughter as he tickled Jolyne awake.
He appeared in the kitchen a few minutes later, giving Jolyne a piggyback ride, hair in his face. “Mornin’ Joot, hi Kak,” he mumbled, depositing Miss Jojo in her chair.
Jotaro just blinked at him. “Food’s ready.”
“Mmmph,” said Sukey, and took a swig of milk.
“Good morning, Miss Jolyne,” said Noriaki, poking her in the face. “Did you sleep well?”
“G’morning, Nori,” she said, yawning.
Everyone sat. Jotaro watched his half-conscious brother and niece cram food into their mouths like starving men. Noriaki had once remarked that that habit seemed to run in the family. He and Dio were the only ones who ate like normal people at the Joestar table. Even George had been known to stuff his face upon occasion.
Those occasions were growing fewer and fewer now. One of the only things Jonathan and Dio ever really talked about was Father’s decaying health, which featured prominently in Dio’s bitching. Jotaro was pretty sure Dio was actually really worried about it, but of course he would never come out and say that. Jotaro tried not to worry about it too much himself. Even if Father died, they’d probably be okay. They had Jonathan, and if something happened to Jonathan they had Joseph, and if something happened to Joseph, they had him. He wasn’t totally confident in himself, but Dio could probably help him, and he knew Nori would probably stick around, too. He could do anything if Noriaki was with him. Jotaro was nearly eighteen anyways and it wasn’t like all those terrible things could happen within the next six months. Everything was going to be alright.
Speaking of Dio.
“Sukey,” Jotaro grunted. “Where’s Dio?”
“Huh? I dunno, man. I haven’t seen him,” said Sukey, shrugging. He turned to Jolyne. “Have you seen Dio this morning, Miss Jojo?”
She shook her head. “Mm-mm.”
Jotaro frowned. Dio’s food was going to get cold. He got up and went to the door.
“Dio!” he shouted into the living room. “Breakfast!”
There was no response.
His frown deepened into a scowl. This wasn’t like Dio at all. Even if he wasn’t coming to breakfast, there’d at least be a “Bugger off!” echoing out from the depths of the house. It was already suspicious that he wasn’t at the table. Dio never missed his chance to deliver the “crush your enemies” lecture to the young, suggestible minds of his little siblings before school.
Jotaro went back to the table. Noriaki’s eyebrows knit together. “No response?”
Nori threaded a hand through his hair. “Uh-oh. Well, come finish your breakfast. I’ll… go look for him later.”
What he meant was, I’ll send out my Hierophant to find him, because Hierophant Green’s search net was infallible, but he couldn’t exactly say that in front of the kids. Jotaro blinked in tacit acknowledgement and sat back down.
He expected Noriaki to sit back sometime in the next minute or so and say, “I’ll bet he’s zonked out in the study,” or “He’s probably crashing on the bean bags in the library,” and sure enough when someone got up to go check, there would be Dio, fast asleep or nose-deep in a book. That was what Jotaro thought was probably going on. Except no such thing happened, and he became increasingly worried as more and more time passed with no results, Noriaki’s eyes flickering back and forth but never seeming to catch on anything.
Sukey and Jolyne were having a lively conversation about the jello trampoline in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Jolyne wanted to make one. Sukey wanted to make one, too, but he wasn’t sure if it would bounce and he didn’t want to give Jonathan a heart attack. Jotaro listened with half an ear, the rest of his brain conjuring up nightmare scenarios out of nowhere, including one where Dio lay dead in a corner from some careless, preventable mistake, and Noriaki couldn’t find him because Hierophant was searching for things that were breathing…
“Jojo, it’s almost time to go,” said Nori, putting a hand on his arm.
Jotaro breathed out. It’s fine. I’m just overreacting.
“Aw, wait, really?” Sukey dashed to his feet. “Hold on a moment, I gotta get dressed!”
“You should’ve done that before you came down,” said Jotaro. They had to get Jolyne dressed, too. He went and got the clothes she’d picked out to wear today, and when he got back, Noriaki was already brushing her hair on the living room couch.
Eventually, they got everybody in the car about five minutes late, and Dio still hadn’t turned up. Jotaro was Not Happy.
Sukey yawned in the back. “Hey, Kak, did you find Dio with your psychic powers yet?”
Noriaki choked. “What?”
“Nori has sy-kek powers?” said Jolyne curiously.
Sukey nodded. “Mm-hmm! Joot has ‘em, too! I’ve seen them make stuff float when they think no one’s looking. And, like, we never hear Jotaro’s alarm in the morning, and I know he uses one because why else would he have Joseph’s old alarm clock, but he always shuts it off before it wakes anybody else up. He doesn’t even sleep on that side of the bed! That’s, like, gotta be a psychic power or something.”
“Wooow,” said Jolyne, going starry-eyed. “Jolyne wanna sy-kek power!”
Shit, thought Jotaro. And he’d thought they’d been so careful.
“We don’t have psychic powers,” Jotaro grumbled.
“Jotaro, I’ve seen you levitate,” Sukey shot back. “When we were still living with Mom and we had that big tree in the front yard? The one with the baby bird that fell out? I saw you put it back in the nest. You were hovering, dude.”
Fuck. He’d totally done that, hadn’t he. “ Yare yare, Sukey, you probably hallucinated it.”
Sukey groaned. “Come on, man, I already know your secret. I just wanna be sure Dio’s okay.”
“Dio’s fine,” said Jotaro. “Right, Nori?”
Noriaki sighed. “Actually, I have no idea. I haven’t been able to find him.”
“What do you mean you haven’t been able to find him?” Hierophant Green could find anything.
“Exactly that,” said Noriaki. “I couldn’t sense him anywhere. Jotaro, I think he might not be in the house.”
“That’s crazy. Dio, like, never leaves the house,” said Sukey, frowning. “At least, I think he doesn’t. What the heck would he be doing out this early?”
“Maybe he went out last night and didn’t come home?” Nori suggested. “It would make sense.”
Yeah, it would make sense, except for how Sukey was right. Dio really did never leave the house. That bad feeling he’d been getting all morning was growing worse. Jotaro did not like this one bit.
“Is Dio in trouble?” asked Jolyne softly.
“I don’t know, baby, but don’t worry,” said Noriaki. “Jojo and I will figure it out.”
Jotaro pulled into the drop-off at the elementary school, and Sukey gave Jolyne a big hug before she dashed out of the car, lunchbox dangling from her arm. Josuke pulled the door shut and slid into the center, bracing his arms on Jotaro and Noriaki’s seats.
“Seatbelt,” Jotaro grunted.
“Eh,” said Sukey. “Okay guys, Jolyne's gone. What do you think really happened with Dio?”
“What Nori said,” said Jotaro.
Noriaki shrugged. “It’s the most plausible explanation I can think of. Either he left the house for some reason, or my psychic powers are rusty.” Jotaro shot him a look. “What?” he said, amused. “Sukey already knows.”
“Well, not for sure,” said Sukey, laughing a little. “I kinda waffled between being totally convinced you guys were magic and wondering if I was going crazy. It’s nice to have it confirmed, though. I wish you guys would tell me about that kind of stuff.”
“You don’t need to hear about it,” said Jotaro.
Sukey frowned. “You’re wrong. What if something bad happens to you guys?”
“ Yare yare daze. If something bad happens, then you double don’t need to hear about it. The whole point of a secret is to keep people safe,” said Jotaro.
“Speaking of safe,” interjected Noriaki, “ seatbelt, Josuke.”
“Fine.” Jotaro heard a reassuring click. “I just wish you guys trusted me.”
“We do trust you, Sukey,” said Nori gently. “We just don’t want you getting mixed up in any of this. The world is really dangerous, and we don’t want you to get hurt. All we’re trying to do is protect you.”
“Well, what if I don’t need protection?”
“You do,” said Jotaro, in a tone that brooked no argument. Then, more softly: “Don’t worry, Sukey. We have it.”
Josuke sighed. “I really hope you’re right about that.”
The bad feeling persisted.
Plot's picking up! And once again, I have no concept of pacing XD. There was a plot development I meant to put in this chapter that I just didn't end up getting to, and it's an important one, too. It's a fun one, y'all are gonna love it. Oh and Santana is a commercial airline pilot. I wasn't really sure how to name his occupation without making the dialogue weird, so I figured I'd just put it in the notes. As always, this is almost completely unedited, so please forgive any weird stuff I missed. Thanks for reading!
Chapter 6: Lunch
Around noon on Monday. Giorno spends some time with his friends. Jotaro and Noriaki have a quiet moment on the roof. Jonathan gets an important phone call.
11:30 AM. The lunch bell rang. Giorno put his papers away, slipped his accordion folder into his bag, dodged an attempt to speak to him from Noriaki Kakyoin of all people, and made his way to the edge of school grounds. The wreath of paper clips in his hands shimmered and became a crown of daisies.
“Hey, Narancia,” he said, walking up to where he and Fugo were sitting. “How was math?”
“Horrible,” complained Narancia. “Fugo’s helping me with it now. I just don’t understand what the hell absolute value’s supposed to be!”
“You would if you were fucking paying attention to me!” said Fugo, exasperated. “Look here. I’ve got a nail, and I’ve got a string.”
“I’m gonna put the nail in the wall.”
“I’m gonna measure the string.”
“It’s six inches long.”
“Shorter than my dick, but okay.”
Giorno snorted. Fugo groaned. “Shut up, Narancia, your dick’s not that long.”
“How would you know?”
“Because you’ve fucking walked out of the shower naked before! Jesus Christ! Can we please get back to math?”
“Okay, okay, fine,” said Narancia, sensing that Fugo was on the verge of explosion. He lowered his hands placatingly. “Come on, man, you know I’m stupid. You got the nail in the wall - which, I just wanna point out, is totally vandalism…”
Fugo’s eye twitched.
“Alright, nevermind! Not vandalism! I dunno why I even said that in the first place, since that totally has nothing to do with anything going on here. Cause of course you would never do something like that-”
“How long is the fucking string, Narancia,” said Fugo through clenched teeth.
“Uhh… s-six inches?”
“Yeah.” This seemed to calm Fugo. “Okay. So. If I tie this end of the string to the nail, and I stretch the other end out all the way to the right, like so,” he demonstrated, pulling the string taut, “how far away is the end of the string that I’m holding from the nail?”
“Uh…” Narancia thought about it for a moment. “Six inches?” he said hopefully. “Cause, like, that’s how long the string is… Although I guess it got a little shorter since you tied some of it off, but it should be around six inches, right?”
Fugo grinned. “Right. And yeah, it’s a little shorter because I tied it off, but we’re not really figuring that into the measurement. That’s what we call a negligible amount.”
“What,” said Narancia, blinking rapidly.
Giorno huffed a laugh. “Don’t confuse him, Fugo.”
“Sorry,” said Fugo. “Anyways, you got it right, Narancia. The nail and my end of the string are six inches apart.”
“Okay. This I understand. It’s the whole… absolute thingy that I don’t get.”
“I’m getting to that,” said Fugo. “Okay, okay. So you know the number line, right?”
“You’re losing me, man.”
“Oh my god, Narancia, just tell me if you know what the goddamn number line is.”
“Uh, sure,” said Narancia, scratching his head. “It’s the thing where it’s a line, and then there’s a zero, and then all the numbers start going the opposite way on the left of the zero and that’s negative numbers. Right?”
Fugo looked like that explanation had given him an aneurysm. “Uh… not exactly…”
“You’re right, Narancia,” said Giorno, who generally had an easier time with Narancia-speak. See, there was the problem: School taught things in a way that favored analytical minds, like Fugo’s. Narancia was capable of analytical thought, but he vastly preferred to understand things intuitively, which made learning in a school environment rather difficult. Fugo understood this for the most part and during their tutoring sessions, he did his best to meet Narancia halfway.
Of course, sometimes this did result in him losing his temper and waving a fork around, which was why Giorno had taken up sitting with them while he did his own homework to offer assistance. Giorno was a pretty shit tutor himself, but his presence helped. Besides, this way he didn’t have to be alone.
“I’ll take your word for it, Giorno,” said Fugo, sighing. “Okay. So. Imagine a number line on the wall, with the nail on the wall as zero.”
Narancia nodded. “Mm-hm.”
“Now you know the ticks on the number line that represent whole numbers?”
“Imagine every inch is a tick mark.”
“Alright. So if every inch is a tick mark, where is the end of the string on the number line?”
“Ssssix,” said Narancia, squinting. “Cause. It’s six inches. Right?”
“Correct,” said Fugo. “Now I’m going to stretch the string out all the way to the left of the nail, which is still zero.”
“Where is the end of the string now?”
“Oh my god,” groaned Fugo. “You literally just said-”
“No, wait, I got it!” Narancia bounced excitedly. “Negative six! Cause! We changed, um, directions! And left is negatives!”
“Yeah, that’s right,” said Fugo, a pleased grin spreading across his face. “Nice job, Nara.”
Narancia preened. Then his face screwed up in confusion. “Wait, what does this have to do with absolute value again?”
Fugo huffed. “Patience, young grasshopper.” Narancia barked a surprised laugh. “Okay, this is the mindscrewy part that I need you to pay close attention to, got it?”
“Oooookay?” Narancia looked nervous.
Fugo moved the string back to the right side of the number line. “How long is this string?”
“Yup.” He moved the string over to the left side of the number line. “Now how long is this string?”
Narancia frowned at it.
A few minutes passed. Giorno finished making a second flower crown and started on his third.
“I don’t get it,” Narancia finally said. “There’s, like, no way the string can change, like, measurements. Unless it’s negative six? But that doesn’t make any sense, because negative numbers like, don’t exist in measurements and stuff. Right?”
He was surprised to see Fugo’s entire face light up. “That’s it!” he said excitedly. “Narancia, you got it! The string hasn’t changed measurements at all! It’s still six inches.”
Narancia’s eyes went wide. “Whoa! So I was right?!”
“Yeah! You were right!”
“So, wait, the string is still six inches no matter what side of the number line it’s on?!”
It was like something clicked in his brain. “Ohhhhhhhhhh,” said Narancia, smacking his forehead. “I get it now! Even if it’s negative three, it’s still three inches away from the nail!”
“Yeah!” Fugo tackled him into a hug. “Dude, you got it, man. You got it. I’m so proud of you, c’mere.”
“Thanks, Fugo,” said Narancia, giggling. “Oh, man, that makes so much more sense than what the fuckin’ teacher said. I was like, what does she mean even if it’s negative, it’s positive? I was so fuckin’ confused, oh my god-”
Giorno plopped a flower crown onto his head. “Here you go. For doing math.”
“Heck yeah! Aww, thanks, Giogio, this is neat!”
“And one for you, too, Fugo,” said Giorno. Fugo blushed as he allowed himself to be adorned.
“Who’s the third one for, Giorno?” Fugo asked.
“Mista,” said Giorno. “Let’s go visit him.”
“Aww, but what about the rest of my math?” said Narancia.
Fugo leveled him with a look. “Nara, we literally live together. I can just help you with it tonight.”
Meanwhile, at around the same time, Jotaro and Noriaki were having lunch on the roof. Jotaro was also smoking. Noriaki was giving him disapproving looks every once in a while, but that was about the extent of it. They’d already managed to cut consumption down from a pack a day to about five cigarettes.
“Did you talk to that blond stand user today?” Jotaro asked.
Noriaki shook his head. “No, he dodged me. Well, I let him dodge me, but I’m not too worried about him. I am sure he is a user, though. I saw him make a flower crown out of paper clips.”
“Hmm.” Jotaro didn’t seem to have an opinion on this. “You could’ve shown him Hierophant.”
Their stands were playing with each other over the railing. It seemed to be a game of grab-the-other-guy. Star Platinum was currently on the offensive, weaving between Hierophant Green’s tentacles and making swipes at its main body.
“Eh, I didn’t want to freak him out,” said Noriaki.
“Are you going to call Jonathan and tell him about Dio?”
Jotaro shook his head. “Dio’s an adult. If he doesn’t come back tomorrow, I’ll tell Jonathan.”
“What about Sukey?”
“If Sukey calls, that’s fine. Better him than me. If it’s me who calls, then it’ll worry Jonathan even more.”
“That’s fair,” said Noriaki. He leaned against Jotaro’s side, savoring his warmth and solidity. “I wonder how Jolyne’s doing in school.”
“She’ll tell us about it later.”
“I bet she’s coloring. I wish we got to color in class.”
“You take art.”
“It’s not the same,” sighed Nori. “Art is stressful, Jojo. They want me to demonstrate technique and skill. I just want to paint.”
“You paint fine.”
“Yeah, usually I do, except this unit is realism, and I hate realism,” said Nori. “I wish I had your eye for detail.”
“I only know how to sketch because of Splat,” mumbled Jotaro, tucking his face under his hat.
“Well, maybe Splat could do my unit-test project for me?”
“You know you don’t want that. You like a challenge.”
“Oh god, don’t remind me.”
Noriaki smacked him. Jotaro laughed. Their stands wove around each other under the bright blue sky. The sunlight almost seemed to go straight through them, which would make sense, because stands were almost like ghosts, not completely corporeal. Nori snuggled some more into Jotaro’s arm. Jotaro was plenty corporeal.
“If you’re cold, I can give you my coat.”
“I’m not cold,” said Noriaki. “I just wanted to be near you.”
Jotaro nodded. “Me too,” he said, almost inaudibly.
An hour or so later, Jonathan was in the middle of cataloguing a new artifact when his phone rang. Frowning, he pulled it out of his pocket and checked the caller ID. His eyes widened.
“Sorry Professor, I have to take this,” he said, dropping his pen and rushing out of the room.
“Yes, yes, that’s fine,” said William Zeppeli, waving him off (and rolling his eyes a little when he realized his pupil likely hadn’t even heard him). “I do hope it’s not the hospital again.”
It was not.
“Hey, Big Jojo.”
“Joseph,” said Jonathan, stumbling to a halt in the museum lobby. “Oh my god. Hi.”
“Hi.” It was unmistakably his little brother’s voice, tinny and scratchy though it was through the phone. Jonathan hadn’t heard it in so long, he thought he might cry. “How’s it going?”
“Oh, good,” he said, trying and failing not to sniffle. “Everything’s- everything’s fine, mostly. Um. Dad’s still alive. Dio’s doing better, I think. We don’t really talk. Jotaro and Sukey - that’s Josuke - they’re, uh, they’re fine. Um. Jolyne. Jolyne is doing good. She’s in first grade now.”
“Oh,” said Joseph, sounding a little like he had a frog in his throat himself. “Is she… What school is she going to?”
“Same one we did.”
“That’s… that’s good. Does she, um, remember me?”
“I’m not sure,” said Jonathan. “She, uh, she used to ask about you a bunch, but she hasn’t really… talked about you. In. In a while.”
“Oh.” Joseph now sounded strangled. “Um. Okay.”
Jonathan couldn’t help it. He started crying. “H-how are things with you?”
“Good!” said Joseph, clearing his throat. “We’re good. Me n’ Caesar, we’ve been… we’re doing great. Our business has really picked up, and we’re… we’re in a good spot.”
“Glad to hear it,” said Jonathan, wiping his eyes. “Really. I mean it. That’s awesome. Where are you guys living these days?”
“Uh, well, we have an apartment downtown, and uh…” Joseph coughed. “Listen, um, Jonathan, we were thinking… maybe you’d like to come over sometime? And… could you bring Jolyne?”
“Yeah! Of course! Of course I’ll bring her, too,” said Jonathan desperately. “When, um, when would be good for you guys?”
“Saturday’s fine,” said Jonathan. “Oh my god, Joseph, I missed you so much.”
“I missed you too, Jonathan, jesus. See you Saturday?”
“Yeah, see you.”
Joseph hung up the call. Jonathan stared at his phone dumbly for a couple of seconds, then put it in his pocket, put his face in his hands, and slid down the wall.
His phone buzzed. He fumbled it back out. It was a text from Joseph, with his address and Noon?
Noon’s fine, Jonathan texted back. His thumbs hovered over the keyboard for a good long while, trying to think of something to say, but ultimately he came up with nothing. He put the phone back in his pocket and wiped his eyes again.
So we still haven't gotten to the important plot development! I wanted to spend some time with our boys, so I wrote some slice-of-life stuff, and then I wanted to bring in Joseph so I did that, and I moved on to writing the Big Thing but that A) is tonally very different from everything else happening here and B) started taking up waaaay more pages than I expected and I didn't want to post a BAC (Big-Ass Chapter), so I've made it the next chapter. Which I will upload later today. Probably. Also I know I haven't been replying to comments - I'm so sorry! I usually don't do that when I haven't finished writing the fic yet (not really sure why). Just know that if you've left a comment on this fic your feedback is super duper appreciated and I'm happy to hear from you! :D As always, everything is completely unedited, which I may or may not go back and do when I'm done.
Chapter 7: Diavolo
Leone and Mark get a worrying call.
This chapter's got some heavy stuff in it. I think I might have to go in and update the tags. Just know that we're about to see Trish and Doppio in a dangerous situation with their dad, in which he is the aggressor. There's some mention of physical violence, as well as onscreen violence. If you want to skip this chapter, or you want to know more before you read it, I've put a summary at the bottom.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
At around 4:30 PM, Leone and Mark got a call, something about a domestic disturbance in an address in a neighborhood near them. Thinking nothing of it, Leone pulled it up on their GPS as Mark turned on the
wee-woo-wee-woo lights siren and Tokyo-Drifted them to the house.
“Jesus Christ, man, your driving is terrible,” muttered Leone as they pulled into the driveway.
“Yeah it is. Too bad I got three months seniority over you, so suck it,” crowed Mark.
Leone glared at him. “One day, when I come pick your sorry ass up from the station, I just won’t get out of the driver’s seat. See how you like me then.”
“You’re so mean to me, Leo.”
“How many fucking times do I have to tell you, it’s not Leo! I’m Leone!”
Well, Bruno sometimes called him Leo, but Bruno could call him anything he wanted and Leone would only mildly complain. This also usually happened during or immediately after sex, so it wasn’t like Leone was ever in a bitchy mood when it happened. Unlike every single day at work.
“You have that dreamy look on your face again,” Mark teased, as they walked up the shitty concrete pathway to the front door. “Thinking about your boyfriend?”
Leone scowled witheringly. “So what if I am? It’s not like you ever shut up about Lucy.”
“Yeah, but we don’t have, like, eight kids, and we’ve been married for seven years. You’ve only been dating Bruno for what, three?”
“Three years, ten months, and eighteen days,” mumbled Leone. “And we have four kids. Sometimes six.”
“Aww.” Mark made a kissy face at him and rapped the door before he could retaliate. “Police, open up!”
An embarrassingly long time and several repeated calls later, it swung open to reveal none other than Diavolo Naso, the deadbeat druggie father of Trish Una and Vinegar Doppio. He wore a pair of grey sweatpants and an expensive brand-name hoodie, which was shredded at the midriff and covered in what could only be lipstick stains. He was not wearing a shirt. Leone’s blood curdled.
“What do you want?” he sneered at the officers on his doorstep. “I didn’t do anything.”
Usually Leone took the lead in this type of thing, because he was bigger and meaner and more likely to make whoever they were investigating think twice about trying something stupid. However, when Mark spared a glance at his partner’s face and saw nothing but barely-contained rage, he decided it would be better if he spoke instead.
“Good afternoon, sir,” he said politely. “We’re here investigating a report of a domestic disturbance. Who else is in the house with you?”
“My kids. Couple friends,” said Diavolo. “Who the hell called you? Was it Trish? She is a little drama queen, my daughter.”
“Who are your friends?” asked Mark.
Diavolo squinted at him. “Are you asking me who I’m friends with?”
“Don’t be smart. You know what the fuck he’s asking,” Leone growled. “Who’s over at your house right now? Give us names. Tell us who these people are.”
“Well, since you asked so nicely,” said Diavolo, snorting. “There’s my son, Vinegar Doppio. He’s about sixteen.” About? Did this man not know how old his fucking kids were? “And then there’s his half-sister, Trish Una, also sixteen. Let’s see, who else… Oh, my old friend Massimo Volpe, from college. He’s around my age - I’m in my early thirties, by the way. Then there’s this other guy. Says his name is Dio, but I don’t believe him.” Leone didn’t, either. He also really did not want to believe this trainwreck of a man was thirty years old, but he’d checked up on his records himself, and sadly he was.
“Okay,” said Mark, writing this down. “Thank you for your cooperation. Why are they over at your house?”
“Come on, Officer, can’t a grown man drink with his friends in peace?”
Mark scribbled in his notebook. “You mentioned Trish. Can we talk to her?”
Diavolo’s stance suddenly became much more aggressive. No longer slouching, he was even taller than Leone, and he took up a terrifying amount of the doorway. Leone’s heart dropped. Every single one of his instincts were screaming at him to put a bullet in Diavolo and run to Dop and Trish. God, were they okay?
Mark and Diavolo continued their exchange, but Leone’s phone had just buzzed in his pocket and the cold burst of fear that inspired turned their voices into white noise. He turned to the side and slipped it out of his pocket.
There was a text. It was from an unknown number, but the preview on his lockscreen started off:
abba this is trish help
Oh god. Oh god please no.
Hands trembling, he unlocked his phone and opened the message. There was a string of them by now, and he was getting more. They went:
abba this is trish help dad took my phone his creepy friends watching me
theres this guy hes unconscious i took his phone out of his pocket and used his finger to open it hes still breathing
dop called the police i dont know where he is dad took him somewhere im scared theyll go away without helping us
abba please help i dont know what to do
oh god im so scared
Fuck. Fuck. Leone tuned back into the conversation. Mark was trying to persuade Diavolo to let them search the house, but was getting nowhere. Fuck. They had to help Dop and Trish. He wasn’t going to leave them with their father for a second longer if he could help it.
I’m here, he texted Trish. Scream as loud as you can. If you scream we’ll have probable cause. We’ll come get you.
Seconds later, a piercing shriek rang through the house.
Diavolo snarled and turned his head. Mark’s eyes widened; he pulled his gun out of the holster. “Sir, please put your hands in the air and step aside.”
Grudgingly, the man did as he was told. Leone wasted no time in shoving past him and sprinting upstairs. “TRISH!” he bellowed. “DOPPIO! TRISH!”
A muffled cry came from one of the rooms. He tried the knob, but it was locked, so he backed up and kicked it down. Inside was that sleazy son of a bitch Massimo Volpe. He’d grabbed Trish and put a hand over her mouth. He’d put his hands on Trish.
“HANDS IN THE AIR!” Leone shouted, whipping out his pistol and taking aim. “GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM HER, YOU SLIMEBAG!”
“Okay, okay! Jesus,” said Volpe, moving like he was drunk. Or high. Probably both. “Fuck, just don’t shoot me, Officer.”
“Abbacchio!” screamed Trish, panicked. “Oh thank god. This guy - Volpe did something to him, he’s not moving - I don’t know where Dop is, oh my god, we gotta - Abba we gotta find Doppio-”
“Hey hey hey, calm down, it’s okay, I’m here,” said Abbacchio, rushing towards her. He barely registered the presence of a third person in the room, a sad unresponsive sack of meat in the corner with blood trickling out of his bright blond hair. It reminded him a little of Giorno’s hair. There was a phone in the other corner of the room, presumably what Trish had been texting him on, and it was smashed to bits. He glanced at Volpe, who was kneeling on the ground with his hands behind his head with no weapon in sight, and deemed it safe to put his gun away. He threw his arms around Trish. She buried her face in his shoulder and sobbed.
Mark appeared in the doorway, gun still in hand, with Diavolo in front of him and ushered him into the room, putting him on his knees in the corner with Volpe. “Holy shit, Leone, she’s one of yours and Bruno’s, isn’t she?”
“Yeah,” said Leone, hugging Trish tight. “Mark, call an ambulance. This other guy’s unconscious. He’s breathing, but he’s got a head wound.”
“Okay,” said Mark. “I’m calling for backup, too, just in case.”
Leone nodded. That was probably a good idea.
“Hey, Trish, let’s go check on Blondie,” he said, pulling away as gently as possible. “We need to make sure he’s stable.”
“Hey, Dispatch,” he heard Mark say into the radio.
Trish hiccupped and nodded. Leone helped her up, and together they went over and knelt by who he could only assume was that Dio character Trish’s father had been talking about. He looked young, maybe even younger than Leone, and he was extremely pale, like he hadn’t been outside in a while. He was very reassuringly still breathing. His pulse seemed fine. The head wound didn’t look too bad, either. His blond hair made it easy to find the source of the blood, and it looked like just a minor scrape.
“Alright, you two fuckers,” said Leone, standing up. “What happened to him?”
“Don’t you dare say a word, Massimo,” Diavolo warned.
“Wasn’t going to, Boss,” said Volpe, shrugging.
Leone growled. “Where’s Doppio?”
“In his room,” sneered Diavolo. “He’s on his bed, sleeping it off.”
“Oh thank god,” said Trish.
“Sleeping what off?” said Leone.
Diavolo rolled his eyes. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”
Leone saw red. The next thing he knew, he was halfway across the room and both Mark and Trish had grabbed onto him, holding him back.
“Leone? Listen, buddy, this isn’t helping,” said Mark. “Why don’t you take Trish and go get Doppio? I’ll handle this.”
“C’mon, Abba, let’s go find Dop,” said Trish, tugging on his arm.
She looked exhausted. Her eyes were red from crying, mascara run down her cheeks, and her lip gloss was smudged to hell. Some of it had made it onto her shirtsleeve. Leone wanted to take her out of here, get her and her brother and drive them back home to Bruno.
“Okay,” he said, letting himself be pulled away.
Doppio’s room was down the hall. His door was also locked, but with a padlock. A fucking padlock. It seemed to have been installed recently.
“Has that always been there?” he asked Trish.
She shook her head, wide-eyed. “I don’t think so. Dad must’ve put it in earlier.”
Oh thank fuck. If he’d just found out Diavolo had been locking his kids in their rooms, he would’ve killed the man. He gently prodded Trish out of the way, breathed in deep, and slammed into the door as hard as he could, which literally ripped the wood away from the locking mechanism and sent it clattering to the ground. Leone had never been more thankful in his life for his size and strength. The adrenaline was likely most of it, though. Doppio and his sister were like family to him - like children, and not being able to get to him awoke a primal fear in Leone that made it possible to ignore the laws of physics for a short while.
“Doppio!” he yelled. He and Trish rushed into the room. Dop had a curtain installed in front of his bed because he liked small spaces. It was drawn and too opaque to see through. Leone flung it aside and breathed a huge sigh of relief when Doppio appeared behind it.
He checked his pulse. Good, strong. He was breathing. Not responsive, but at least he was alive. Trish squeezed in beside him and he made some room for her so she could cup her brother’s face and turn it towards them. He seemed okay, no visible wounds - scratch that, there was an enormous bruise on the side of his face with an odd shape to it, like he’d been hit with something that had a rectangular edge.
“Dad smacked him in the face with his own phone after he called,” said Trish. “That’s not what knocked him out, though. Volpe did something to him. I couldn’t see what. Oh my god, is he gonna be okay?”
“I think so. He’s breathing, and his pulse is steady,” said Leone. “Mark’s calling an ambulance.” He radioed Mark. “Call another ambulance. Doppio’s stable, but unresponsive.”
“Roger that,” said Mark. Leone breathed out. It was going to be fine. Everything was going to be okay.
Trish sat down on the bed and pulled Doppio into her lap, gently brushing his hair out of his face. “I can’t believe he did that,” she said, sniffling. “I’m supposed to be the brave one. I can’t believe I let this happen to him.”
“Absolutely not, Trish,” said Leone. “This isn’t your fault, you hear me? This is your asshole dad’s fault, and that guy Volpe. You did nothing wrong.”
Leone reached forward and ruffled her hair. “Shut the fuck up, Patricia. No buts. This is not your fault.”
Trish was still sniffling, but she giggled. “My name’s not fucking Patricia, Leo. ”
“Oh my god, you little asswipe-”
A thud came from the other room.
“What was that?” whispered Trish.
Uh oh. Leone picked up his radio. “Mark? What was that?”
“Come in, Mark.”
“Mark, this isn’t funny.”
“Shit,” said Leone, taking out his gun.
He stepped out into the hallway. Everything seemed fine. Okay, maybe Mark’s radio just died or something. He called for his partner. Still no response. Great.
Slowly, he made his way toward the room everyone else was supposed to be in. The door was closed again. Not good. He opened it, keeping his back to the wall so nothing could surprise him from the hallway.
Volpe and the blond were exactly where they’d been left, but Mark was unconscious on the floor, bleeding from the head.
“Shit,” said Leone, kneeling down beside him. Pulse fine, still breathing. Mark groaned softly, thank god. He turned to Volpe. “What the fuck happened here?”
Volpe shrugged. Giggled a little. His eyes were glassy. “I dunno, man, I didn’t see shit.”
“Don’t play games with me,” snarled Leone. “You were right the fuck there. How could you have not seen anything?”
“Hey, don’t ask me.”
Oh no. Trish.
“Don’t fucking go anywhere,” Leone growled at Volpe. He slung Mark over his shoulder and ran to Doppio’s room. Why the hell was backup taking so long? He couldn’t even hear the sounds of the ambulance in the distance. He rounded the bend in the hallway just in time to see Diavolo at the top of his stairs, pulling Trish with one hand and a half-conscious Doppio with the other.
“Abba?” mumbled Doppio, obviously confused. His eyes kept blinking shut. “Where-”
“Come on, kids, let’s go,” said Diavolo, giving both of them a harsh jerk. “You try anything, Leo, and we’ll all arrange to take a little tumble. How does that sound?”
It sounded horrible. “Trish, grab your brother. Get ready.”
White-faced, she did as she was told.
“Trish-” Diavolo started.
Leone raised his gun.
Diavolo surged forwards, but Leone was faster. He pulled the trigger. The bullet struck Diavolo in the shoulder. He cursed and let go of the kids. Trish, having braced herself, successfully tugged Doppio back onto the landing. They collapsed in a heap. Diavolo tripped, slipped, and crashed down the stairs, landing at the bottom with a groan. He did not get up.
Trish screamed. “Oh my god, Abba, is he dead?!”
Gently depositing Mark next to the siblings, Leone went down to check. “No!” he called. “He hit his head, but he’s still alive! God, where the hell is that ambulance?!”
Doppio was gradually coming to, blinking the grogginess out of his eyes. “Trish? Is that Abba? What happened?”
“Holy fuck, you’re okay,” cried Trish, hugging him tight. “Fuck, I was so worried about you.”
“Oh my god, is that policeman unconscious?! What’s going on?!” Doppio was freaking out.
“It’s okay,” said Leone, coming back up the stairs. “Hey, Dop. I’m here. Backup’s on its way. Ambulance, too. Don’t worry, everything’s going to be fine.”
“Oh my god,” said Doppio, starting to cry. Trish snuggled him, making soothing noises and stroking his hair.
“Hey, hey, it’s alright,” said Leone, wrapping an arm around them both. “You’re safe now, okay? I’ve got you. You’re gonna be okay.”
Mark stirred, groaning. “Leone? Why am I over here now? What happened? Oh shit, is that Diavolo down there?!”
“Yeah, that’s Diavolo,” grumbled Leone. “I think he knocked you out. He tried to take the kids and run. I had to shoot him in the shoulder. Don’t worry, I bandaged him up. He fell down the stairs, but he’s still breathing. Un-for-tunately.”
“Fuck,” said Mark. “Where the hell’s backup? And what about those ambulances?”
“That’s what I want to know.”
As if on cue, the blaring of multiple sirens gradually filtered into their hearing. Tires screeched to a halt. Doors slammed shut.
“Of course now they get here,” grumbled Leone, putting his face in his palm.
“Oh my god, this is like a bad movie,” groaned Mark. “Listen, Leo, I’m sure you want to take your kids home, so why don’t you load everybody up in the squad car and get out of here? I’ll deal with… this.”
“Yeah,” said Mark, smiling. Leone looked at him with new eyes. “Come on, man, Lucy and I have a three-year-old. If something like this happened with our kid, we’d want to get him somewhere safe as soon as possible, too. Go on. I got it.”
“Holy fuck, thanks, Mark,” said Leone. “Come on, kiddos. Let’s get you two to the hospital.”
“Fuck yeah,” mumbled Doppio, shooting the room at large a weak thumbs-up. Trish snorted. Together, she and Leone got her brother to his feet and carefully maneuvered him down the stairs.
Once they were out the front door, Trish began laughing shakily. “Oh my god,” she said. “That was the worst fucking day of my life. Holy shit. How long do you think Dad’s gonna be in jail?”
“No clue yet,” said Leone. “Although he might get a few years. I’m pretty sure there was cocaine in that room.”
Trish huffed. “Me too. God, I always suspected… but I didn’t want to say anything, you know? ‘Cause… he’s still my dad, even if he’s a piece of shit. Oh god, I still can’t believe this is happening. This is the worst.”
Leone helped her lower Doppio into the backseat of his car. “What exactly happened in there?”
They buckled Dop’s seatbelt. “Is it okay if I wait to tell you about it?” asked Trish. “I just… I know Bruno’s gonna want to know - wait, are we-”
“Yeah, I’m taking you straight home with me after we get Dop checked out,” said Leone. “Don’t worry about it. You can tell us when we get home.”
The hospital found traces of rohypnol in Doppio’s blood. The doctor told them to take him home, make him drink plenty of water, have him eat something if he could, let him sleep it off, and put ice on his bruise. He did not have a concussion and was otherwise okay. He was slightly more lucid now, but Leone and Trish still had to support him as he walked.
Before they made it out of the hospital, they were passed by two teenage Japanese-looking boys, one of them dressed in a gakuran that Leone recognized from his own high-school anime phase and an inexplicably fluffy hat, the other one sporting a pompadour and wearing a yellow tank-top and jeans. Fluffy Hat was enormous and looked pissed off, while Pompadour was more normal-sized and just looked distressed. He apologized briefly when Fluffy Hat jostled Leone and the kids. Then they were accosted by another member of the police force, who stopped them with a friendly wave.
“These kids have somewhere to go tonight?” he asked.
Leone nodded. “I’m taking them home with me. I take it Diavolo and the blond guy made it to the hospital?” Trish tensed at the mention of her father.
“Yeah. Mark told me to give you the news,” said the officer. “Diavolo is mostly fine, but he isn’t awake yet. Mark took Volpe down to the station for questioning. He’ll probably be held overnight. We’re looking to charge them both with possession of illegal narcotics with intent to sell.”
“Jesus,” whispered Trish.
The policeman looked sympathetic. “Sorry, kid. Hey, on the bright side, the blond guy seems to be alright. His name is Dio Brando. Apparently he has some connection to the Joestars, so we’re keeping his involvement on the down-low. Hospital just called his family; I think they’re coming to see him.”
“The Joestars?” Leone frowned. He’d heard that name before, of course, seeing as how the family owned a famous criminal defense attorney firm. They were very good; their clients tended to get off easy. Usually Leone hated defense lawyers, but the Joestars had a reputation for proving the innocence of a lot of actually innocent people, including one of Leone’s very distant cousins named Gyro Zeppeli. So he supposed they were alright. “Well, I guess we shouldn’t even bother charging him with anything.”
“I don’t think we were going to, regardless,” said the officer. “He doesn’t have any established connection to Diavolo, and my partner says he’s willing to talk. It seems like he saw a lot of what happened back there.”
“He did,” confirmed Trish with a jerky nod. “He was there. He tried to help me, but…”
“Hey, you don’t have to talk about it now,” said Leone. “Why don’t we go home? We can worry about everything tomorrow.”
She nodded. “Yeah, I like that plan. Let’s do that.”
“Well, thanks for the update, Officer,” said Leone. “See you tomorrow, I guess.”
“Yeah, man. Have a good night.”
Oh, they certainly would if Leone had anything to say about it. He piled the kids back in the car and drove home.
“Welcome home, caro, ” said Bruno, when they went inside. “I was just about to call- Holy fuck, Leone, what happened to you? You look terrible! Oh my god, is that Doppio and Trish? What happened to Dop?” He rushed over, feeling at Doppio’s forehead. “No fever…”
“He got roofie’d,” said Trish. She waved to the rest of the family, who were seated around their big round table doing homework, the one with the old socks shoved under some of the legs so it didn’t wobble, the one Leone had built out of unfinished wood that had scars in the top from Fugo slamming things onto it, the one with the big stain from when Narancia spilled an entire bowl of spaghetti that one time. Well, they had been doing homework. Understandably, nobody was doing anything now.
“Hi, Trish,” said Fugo weakly. “He got what, now?” Mista and Narancia stared at her, open-mouthed. Giorno’s mouth wasn’t open, but he looked about as shocked as his nonexpressive face was capable of.
“Roofie’d,” Trish repeated, sinking into a chair. Bruno and Leone were busy pulling out the couch bed and getting Doppio settled in. “They found it in his blood at the hospital.”
“Holy shit, man,” said Narancia, still gaping.
“Dude, what happened?” asked Mista, scratching his hat. “Did you guys go to a club or something? Did you catch the guy that did it?”
“Yes, please tell us what happened, Trish,” said Bruno. Leone took a seat. Bruno did not, instead hovering over him and putting his hands on his boyfriend’s shoulders.
Trish put her face into the table. Giorno reached over and gave her a hesitant pat. “It’s okay, Trish. Take your time.”
“Oh my god, it was so stupid,” she groaned. “Okay. So. Dop and I went home after school, right? The kitchen was empty, so we thought Massimo was gone, but when we went upstairs, he and Dad were in their room. So we thought, okay, let’s just stay out of their way, but then I said I was hungry and we went down to make something, except there wasn’t any food in the fridge… Then Doppio says we should go ask Dad for some money so we can get groceries.”
She swallowed. This was difficult.
“It’s okay,” said Giorno, giving her another uncertain pat.
“Yeah, you’re good, Trish,” said Narancia, moving to sit beside her. He hugged her arm. “You’re awesome, man. You’re like, super strong and brave n’ stuff. You got this.”
“Thanks, guys,” said Trish, sniffling. Holy shit, she was so lucky to have such good friends. To an outside observer, Giorno looked totally impassive, but she knew him well enough to know he was kind of freaking out a little bit but keeping a handle on it for her, which she appreciated, because she knew he had a history with this kind of stuff. It warmed her heart. She snuck a glance at Narancia’s earnest face and felt her cheeks heat up, too. “Like I said, it was totally stupid. So. We go into Dad’s room. I ask him for some cash. He says he doesn’t have any and tells us to go away, and I’m like, that’s totally a lie, but okay. But then… Doppio got, like, really mad.” She cleared her throat and wiped her eyes. “He started yelling at Dad, said a lot of stuff about how he never took care of us, which is true, but… oh my god that was not the time. And then Dad got really irritated and he said to leave him alone - he actually said we could talk about it later but he was busy right now - but Dop just wasn’t having it. He said he was gonna call the police.”
“Holy shit, Dop,” whispered Narancia, in awe.
Trish giggled. It was a very frazzled noise. “Yeah, that’s what I thought,” she said, choking back tears. “I was like, whoa dude, I dunno if I’m like, impressed, or if I think you’re really stupid. So I tried to like, de-escalate the situation? But Dop was really mad. Dad was, too. I couldn’t get either of them to listen to me. There was this third guy in the room, that blond guy, and he said he had some cash. I think he was gonna give it to us. But Dad was too angry and he said not to, and they started arguing, and Doppio pulled out his phone… I, like, wasn’t actually sure he’d called until the police came. Thank goodness it was Abba and Mark.”
“Oh fuck,” she heard Bruno say softly under his breath.
“Yeah,” she said. “Um. Dad lost it. He grabbed the phone, hit Dop in the head. It must not have been too hard because it didn’t knock him down or anything, he just kinda staggered back. Then the blond guy jumps in and gets between them, and Dad just straight up punched him in the face. Blond guy went down. Afterwards, he walked up to me and told me to give him my phone, and I did, because I was really scared.” She had to take another break to steady her breathing. “Then Dad told Massimo to take care of them, and he, like…” She frowned and knit her eyebrows together. “I dunno what he did. He just kinda put his hands on Dop - he was still really disoriented - and all of a sudden he was asleep. Blond guy, too. Dad picked up Dop and told Massimo to watch me, and I went over to the blond guy to make sure he was alright, and then the police came, and I stole his phone so I could text Abba. And then, um, Abba knows the rest.”
Abbacchio recounted his part of the story. Mista whooped at the part where he shot Diavolo. “He had it coming.”
“Yeah, he kinda did,” said Trish. She plucked a napkin from the holder and blew her nose. “God, it was so scary when he grabbed us. I had no idea what he was going to do. I don’t know if he even knew what he was going to do. I’m just glad Abba got us out, fuck.” She shook her head violently. “I hope Dad goes to jail for a long time. I don’t ever want to see him again.”
“Oh, Trish.” Bruno hugged her from behind and kissed the top of her head. “I’m so sorry. You and your brother don’t deserve to have a father like that.”
“You’re right,” Trish said viciously. “He was so fucking awful today, Capo. I mean, he’s usually not that great, but he’s never been that way before. Fuck. I’m just glad it’s over.”
“Not quite,” said Abbacchio grimly. “They’ll want you to come down to the station tomorrow and talk to the detectives. But for what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure your dad will lose custody of you after this.” He glanced at Bruno, who gave him an affirming nod. “And we’ll file for adoption the second it happens. For both you and Doppio.”
“Oh my god, you guys are the best,” Trish said, and started to cry.
WHOO. This was quite the thing to write. Anyways, there it is: the promised plot development, with part two to commence next chapter. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about the Joestars - we'll go back to them soon. I hope you guys are enjoying the story so far! If you have any thoughts, please leave me a comment. :D I read all of them, even if I don't respond.
Leone and Mark get a call about a domestic disturbance and go to investigate. When they get there, they find out it's Diavolo's house, and Leone gets worried about Doppio and Trish. Diavolo obfuscates. Leone then gets several texts from Trish letting him know they're in danger. Doppio had called the police because Diavolo was refusing to give them money for groceries and being aggressive about it, so Diavolo hit him, had Massimo Volpe drug him, and locked him in his room. Trish was not aware of where Diavolo took him. During the altercation, Dio, who was there with Volpe and Diavolo, intervened and was subsequently struck and drugged as well. Diavolo then took Trish's phone and told Volpe to watch her. Trish uses Dio's phone to text Leone, who tells her to scream. Mark pulls a gun on Diavolo. Leone goes upstairs, pulls a gun on Volpe, and has to shoot Diavolo in the shoulder when he attempts to escape with Doppio and Trish.
Leone then takes the kids to the hospital where rohypnol (the chemical in roofies) is found in Doppio's blood. They go home, and Trish recounts these events to the Bucciarati family. Leone remarks that Diavolo will likely lose custody of his children and he and Bruno promise to adopt both of them as soon as possible.
Chapter 8: Two Hours
Jotaro and Noriaki have some thoughts. The hospital gets in touch with Dio's emergency contact.
Jotaro gets worried for a sec that Dio might've been sexually assaulted, but nothing of the sort happened. Not discussed in any explicit detail. Has to do with what Trish told us about during the Diavolo incident.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
There was still a lot of time before they’d have to start driving to their lesson with Wamuu after school on Monday, so Jotaro and Noriaki left Josuke to play Smash with Okuyasu and Koichi on Mr. Darby’s Wii U. That particular teacher was a stand user who wielded something called Atum, which Jotaro had never really understood, but apparently had the power to steal souls. He was also one of the many previously-hostile stand users defeated and reformed by Noriaki and Avdol before Jotaro joined the team, and he had a card in Nori’s Rolodex as well as a more detailed entry in Avdol’s master list. Jotaro had asked to read both before feeling safe letting him around Sukey and his friends. None of them were really the competitive or wagering type, and even if something did go wrong, Noriaki could just beat him again. Then Jotaro could beat his face in with Splat.
“Well, Jotaro, what should we do with our two hours?” said Nori breezily, leaning against the stair rail. One end of his scarf dangled over the edge.
“Check in with Avdol, I guess,” said Jotaro.
“We don’t really have much to report.”
“You know that blond guy has a stand for sure now. Maybe Avdol has something.”
“Eh, good point. Let’s go see him.”
To the library they went. There were a few students hanging around, but no one they knew. Avdol was behind the desk as always. It looked like he was trying to rewire one of the old TVs.
“Oh! Good afternoon,” he greeted them, looking up with a smile. “Come! Have a seat.”
“Is that from Mr. Joseph’s era?” asked Noriaki.
“Yes, it is,” said Avdol, reaching for the pliers. “The very first of his spree of technological carnage.” That explained why it was so dented. Joseph had gradually gotten better and better at controlling his stand, to the point where the last time he helped out with a case, the iPad he’d used was only barely smoking. It even worked okay after he blew into the charger port a couple of times. “Do you two have anything new to report?”
Nori nodded. “Just wanted to confirm Giorno Bucciarati is, in fact, a stand user. His power has something to do with life, I think. He can turn inanimate objects into flowers. I haven’t seen him use his power on a living thing yet, but I’m convinced he’s nonhostile.”
“Well, that’s good to know. I’ll start him an entry. Perhaps it would be a good idea to bring him in for an interview sometime this week,” said Avdol.
“I’ll see about it,” said Noriaki. “I actually tried to talk to him today at lunch, but he seemed to have somewhere to be.”
“Ah, it was lunch. He probably wanted to be with his friends,” said Avdol. “What about you, Jotaro?”
“Succinct as always,” said Avdol, laughing. “Well, I don’t have anything either. No new incidents, and nothing that suggests any trouble from Dan, either. Speaking of, he’s due for our check-in any moment now.”
The pleasant expression Nori usually wore soured. “In that case, I think we had better be gone.”
Yeah. Otherwise I might beat him up again, thought Jotaro. That had been truly satisfying. During their fight, Dan had sent his stand into Noriaki’s brain, meaning to use him to control Jotaro, who he had incorrectly assumed was the more dangerous of the two. Little did he know Nori could simply remove the Lovers with the network of Hierophant Green he always had wound throughout his body, after which Jotaro was free to pummel. He really hated that guy.
“Indeed,” said Avdol. “Have a nice night, you two.”
Noriaki returned the farewell. Jotaro gave his friendliest grunt. Arm in arm, they wandered down the stairs together, ignoring everyone in their path.
“Let’s go to the cafe,” said Jotaro.
“Okay,” said Nori, raising an eyebrow. “I thought you hated JP.”
“He’s not that bad.”
“Well, alright then.”
Cafe Polnareff really only bustled in the morning and around lunch, so it was nice and quiet when they walked in the door. Jean-Pierre Polnareff greeted them from behind the counter with a cheery wave. “Ah, Jotaro, Noriaki! Welcome, welcome!”
Nori greeted him politely; Jotaro ignored him and sat down. He didn’t wait for Nori to join him before pulling out his things. JP would probably want to chat with him a little, so he might as well get started on his homework.
Ugh. Homework. So frustrating. He used to never do it - which was a rather impressive feat considering it meant he had to face down Jonathan’s sad, disappointed lectures - but then he’d met Noriaki, whose disapproval was just too much for him to handle. And now that he was in high school, he apparently really had to do his work if he wanted to get where he was going.
Florida, he thought wistfully. In that state was the college of his dreams. He’d go there, do whatever stupid classes they wanted him to do, and then he’d be free to pursue his doctorate out on the blue water. Only problem was, if he left, what would happen to Jolyne and Josuke?
Sukey would probably be fine. He was a good kid, and he wasn’t even that much younger than Jotaro, anyways. But Jolyne…
She’d be devastated. And it wasn’t like he could take her with him. At least, not for the first few years. Maybe when he was finally allowed to live off campus, he could fly her down and they could live in an apartment together. But what would she do for those first two or three years? Jonathan was a great big brother, but he was always so busy, and Dio might be a bad influence on her. Maybe Joseph could take back custody of her and raise her with Caesar. They were doing alright now, but they’d have to make massive changes in their schedules and lives to accommodate a kid. The whole reason Joseph wasn’t raising her now was that he just wasn’t ready for the commitment of being a father. Maybe Tomoko could take her, but she hadn’t seen Jolyne since her ugly split with Joseph five years ago. Or maybe Aunt Holly could raise Jolyne. She already picked her up after school on days like today, when Jotaro couldn't. Aunt Holly had been like a mom to Jotaro and Josuke after their real mom left, so that might work.
Then there was the question of Noriaki. Where was Nori going to college? He never talked about his plans for the future, even when Jotaro talked about his, and he wasn’t really sure how to ask about it. He didn’t want to make it seem like he wanted Nori to go to college with him, even though he did. It wouldn’t be fair. Nori deserved his own path in life. He shouldn’t feel like he had to follow Jotaro around. Still, Jotaro really didn’t want to be away from him. He hoped Noriaki wouldn't get tired of him. It was so perfect being with him all the time.
I wish there was some way we could all stay together, he thought. It could be the three of us: Nori, Jolyne, and me.
The more he thought about it, the more he wanted it to happen. That sounded like the best possible future. He really wanted to be a marine biologist, but if it meant he couldn’t be with the two of them anymore, then maybe it was okay if he did something else for a living. Maybe he could follow Noriaki to college and learn how to do something boring with computers. If somebody like Darby could teach computer science, then it couldn’t possibly be that difficult, right?
Lost in thought, he almost didn’t notice when JP approached him. He definitely did notice when the man dropped into the seat across from him.
“Hello hello, my grim and broody friend,” said Jean-Pierre, winking. “What dark thoughts plague your troubled mind today?”
Jotaro didn’t know how to respond to any of that. Nor did he particularly want to. “Where’s Noriaki?” he asked instead.
“Aww, missing your boyfriend already?” JP cooed.
“I don’t have a boyfriend,” said Jotaro automatically. Oh wait, he means Nori. “Nori’s not my boyfriend.”
“Whaaat? You can’t tell me you’re straight, Monsieur Jotaro, not with those cute blue studs,” said JP. “Or with those matching nails! Very nice. I like the glitter.”
“I don’t have a boyfriend,” Jotaro repeated, more annoyed. “If I had a boyfriend, it would be Nori, but I don’t have one, so he’s not. And my earrings are aquamarine.”
“Oh my god,” said JP. “I can’t tell if that’s the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard or the saddest. You’re going to have to tell that boy how you feel someday, you know.”
What the fuck was that supposed to mean? How he felt? Was he supposed to feel something different than what he felt right now? Everyone seemed to think they were dating. If he did date someone, of course it would be Nori, but he wasn’t dating, so they weren’t. Well, he didn’t know that for sure. Maybe Nori thought they were dating. If Nori thought they were dating, then yeah, they were dating. But if they were, he hadn’t been told about it yet, and it wasn’t like it would be any different, anyways. They’d just be together, like they already were, whether or not they were boyfriends or something.
He didn’t say any of this, of course, because it was none of JP’s business. He just glared. “You didn’t answer my question.”
JP rolled his eyes. “He’s in the back with Sherry. She’s teaching him how to make croissants. I’m here to ask if you wanted to join them.”
“Then why didn’t you just lead with that,” said Jotaro, exasperated. “Sure. Yeah.”
“Okay, okay. First, lemme ask you a question: Do you like baking?” said JP.
“Not really. It’s fine, I guess,” said Jotaro. “Why?”
“Okay,” said JP. “So. If you don’t like baking, why do you want to go learn how to make croissants?”
“I didn’t say I don’t like baking,” said Jotaro, feeling increasingly nonplussed as this line of questioning wore on.
“Oh my god. Just answer the question.”
Jotaro stared at him. “Because Noriaki’s there.”
“Bingo!” said JP.
Jotaro stared some more. “Can I go now?”
JP squinted. “You’re telling me this isn’t clearing anything up for you? No sudden realizations? Nothing blooming in that heart of yours?”
Jotaro looked down at his heart. He certainly hoped there wasn’t anything blooming in there. He didn’t know much about people-biology, but he was pretty sure stuff wasn’t supposed to bloom in the cardiac muscle.
“Holy shit, kid,” said JP, smacking his forehead. “You are seriously the most oblivious person in the world. Here, let me spell it out for you: YOU ARE IN LOVE WITH NORIAKI KAKYOIN.”
Jotaro heard it. Reviewed the statement. Checked it. He’d never thought about it that way before, but yeah, that was right. He was. “Okay.” He looked at JP. “So?”
Whatever the man had been gearing up to say died in his throat as he spluttered. “So?! What do you mean, so?! ”
“I don’t get why that’s important,” said Jotaro. “We were talking about baking.”
JP’s head fell back. He fisted his hands in his hair and released an anguished groan.
Jotaro took that as his cue to leave, as he was obviously dealing with a crazy person. Maybe he should tell Nori to update the Rolodex.
Learning how to make croissants was surprisingly fun, especially since they were just doing the part where they rolled up the little triangles and got them ready to bake. Sherry was nice, as always, and she didn’t ask lots of nosy questions like her brother. Nori was really good at it, which didn’t surprise Jotaro at all. Even spilling flour on his coat wasn’t that bad. What was less fun was getting a call from the hospital right after putting them in the oven.
“Hello?” said Jotaro, facing the wall. This doesn’t make any sense. Why would they call me? If anything happened to Dad, they’d call Jonathan, and if anything happened to Jonathan, they’d probably call Joseph or something. I don’t know who Jonathan’s emergency contact is.
“Hi. Are you Jotaro Joestar? We have you listed as an emergency contact for a Mr. Dio Brando.”
I THOUGHT HE WAS JOKING.
Jotaro checked the time. They still had about thirty minutes before they had to leave for their lesson. Hopefully whatever this was could be over with quickly and they could be back in time to grab a croissant. “What happened?”
The lady on the other end coughed. “Well, he's stable, but it looks like he’s been drugged with-”
“Dio got roofie’d?” said Jotaro with surprise. He’d always thought his brother was smarter than that. Well, it happened to the best of them. He just had to find out who did it so he could kick their ass. Wait, hold on a minute. Jotaro knew what happened when people got roofie'd. "He's - nothing else happened to him, right?"
“No, nothing like that. He's just suffered a small head wound,” said the lady. “Um, he also seems to be involved with a domestic disturbance that happened this afternoon. The police have been questioning him. He’s sleeping now, but he’ll be ready to go home soon. We just need to know if he has insurance.”
What the fuck, Dio.
“He does,” said Jotaro. “It’s in his wallet.”
“We, uh, aren’t allowed to go through his things, sir. We need you to come down to the hospital.”
Well, this wouldn’t be over in thirty minutes. He was going to have to call Wamuu and cancel the lesson.
“Fine,” said Jotaro. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.” And then I’m going to kill him.
“Thank you, sir. See you soon.” The line went dead.
“That didn’t sound good,” said Nori, knocking shoulders with him. “I guess my theory was right. He must’ve gone out somewhere last night.”
“Yeah,” said Jotaro, frowning. But why? Dio really did never go anywhere. “Can you call Sukey? I need to call Wamuu. We need to go to the hospital, so we’ll miss the lesson.”
“Sure,” said Noriaki. “Come on, let’s head towards the car. We can call on the way.”
Sherry frowned. “Wait just a moment, boys. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I can’t help but think this isn’t something for you two to deal with on your own. Aren’t there any adults you can call?”
Nori raised an eyebrow. “We could call Jonathan.”
“No. He would have a heart attack,” said Jotaro. “We should just do it ourselves.”
“We have to tell him sometime, Jojo.”
“Yeah, but not over the phone,” muttered Jotaro. “Jonathan hates phone calls. We can tell him over dinner.”
“I really think you two ought to call him,” said Sherry, folding her arms.
“Thank you, but it’s really better if we deal with it ourselves, Miss Polnareff,” said Noriaki, putting on his best I’m-a-responsible-person voice.
She sighed. “Well, I guess I can’t stop you. Good luck, I suppose. Tell JP on your way out we need more butter.”
“This is a bakery. We always need more butter,” was what Jean-Pierre had to say in response to that. “I’ll get some. You two sure you’ll be alright?”
“ Yare yare daze, of course we’ll be alright,” said Jotaro. So a head-on battle with a stand-sword that possessed people was fine, but picking up a man from a hospital wasn’t? They definitely needed to update the Rolodex.
Josuke was not happy when he heard what happened.
“Man, I knew something was wrong,” he told Nori over the phone. “Is Dio okay?”
“Seems like it,” said Nori. “The hospital says he’ll be ready to go home in a little bit. I think we’ll be picking him up when we get there.”
“Are we calling Jonathan? I mean, we probably should, right? But, like,” said Sukey, “I feel like we should just tell him later. Over dinner or something. So he doesn’t freak out. He’s still at the museum, right?”
“That’s what Jotaro said, and I agree,” said Nori. “He’s calling Wamuu right now to cancel the lesson. Are you coming with us to the hospital?”
“ Fuck yeah I’m coming with you to the hospital,” said Sukey explosively. There was some chatter in the background, then the faint sound of him saying “Yeah, yeah, everything’s okay. Don’t worry, guys, my big brother’s got it. No, the other one. The grumpy one that likes fish.”
Noriaki had to snort at that. Jotaro was grumpy, and he did like fish.
“Sorry,” said Sukey. “My friends wanted to know what happened. What exactly did happen? You just told me Dio’s in the hospital.”
“I’m not exactly sure myself. Jotaro said something about him being drugged, and I think I heard the hospital say something about a domestic disturbance? I don’t know. I’m sure Jojo will tell us in the car.”
“Aww, it’s so sweet that you call him Jojo,” teased Sukey.
“You call Jonathan Jojo,” Nori pointed out.
Sukey made a gagging noise. “Ew, man! Jonathan’s my da- I mean, big brother, not whatever the heck you two are.”
Interesting little Freudian slip there. “And what are we, exactly?”
“I dunno,” said Sukey. “I always thought you were dating, but Jotaro says he doesn’t have a boyfriend, so I really have no fricking idea.”
“Why would you use ‘frick’ when you just said ‘fuck’ earlier?” Noriaki wondered out loud, mostly to avoid having to address that. Really it was his own fault they’d ended up there, but in his defense, he’d thought Sukey would be more embarrassed about it.
“Come on, Nori, ‘frick’ isn’t just a substitute for ‘fuck,’” said Sukey. “It’s two whole different orders of magnitude. ‘Frick’ is for, like, little things. ‘Fuck’ is more serious.”
“If you say so,” said Nori with some amusement. He didn’t swear much himself - it didn’t fit the honor student persona. “Well, we’re at the car.”
“Man, you guys are fast. Gimme a moment,” said Sukey, and hung up. Moments later, he popped into view, traveling at a sprint with his friends waving at him from behind. He turned around to wave back and immediately tripped over a rock.
“Nice,” said Noriaki, when he finally made it to them.
Sukey panted. “Meanie.” He straightened. “Come on come on come on, we have to go get Dio!”
“ Yare yare, you’re the one who was late,” grumbled Jotaro, fumbling for his key fob.
If I remember correctly, went Nori’s internal monologue, this used to be Joseph’s car. It got broken and sat in the driveway for a while because he just couldn’t bear to part with it. He took a glance in the rearview mirror at Sukey, who was chewing nervously on his lip. Wasn’t Josuke the one who finally fixed it?
And now it belonged to Jotaro, who used it to drive everyone to school in the morning and not much else. Sometimes they went places on weekends, but usually they just stayed home and watched sumo or fish documentaries or letsplays, or they baked or played video games, or if the weather was warm enough they went down to the local swimming pool - the fancy one you needed a card for - and chased each other around until they were both too tired for any more. Then they’d go get a mountain of tiny little hot dogs at the artisan fast food place down the street that sold them for way too much and stuff their faces until one of them inevitably cut themselves open on a salt-and-vinegar kettle chip.
It was too cold for that now. Noriaki found himself missing it. He liked playing in the water with Jotaro, liked inhaling processed meat and white bread and sugary drinks with Jotaro, liked jiggling his leg with his foot on the silicon bathroom mat as he sat on the toilet cover in his wet swim trunks, waiting for Jotaro to finish showering, or lying on the bed in his softest pajamas with the moisture from his damp hair seeping into the pillowcase while he waited for Jotaro to come join him. He liked how it felt to cuddle up and go to sleep with Jotaro all warm and clean from the shower and worn out from having so much fun.
He hated it when his parents came back from their business trips, because then he had to go home and not help Jotaro make dinner, and do all his homework by himself, and watch sumo and letsplays by himself until he put on a fish documentary to help him fall asleep in his little twin-sized bed he’d had since he was a toddler all by himself that his feet hung off the end of because he’d grown into such a tall, gangly thing that it didn’t fit him anymore. He wouldn’t even mind that, if he could just have Jotaro with him, but Jotaro had his big comfy bed in his big comfy room in his big comfy house and he didn’t need Nori’s too-short mattress in his too-small room that couldn't even fit them both anyways. Someday Jotaro would grow up and realize he liked girls and realize he could have any one of them he wanted, and then he wouldn’t need Nori at all, because then he’d have a nice wife to help him take care of Jolyne and they’d have babies of their own and there’d be no place for his old best friend who kept hanging around like he was in love with him or something.
Soon they’d both be in college. Jotaro would go to that place in Florida he was looking at, and maybe Noriaki would follow him, and they’d slowly grow apart over the years as they became more and more different and strange to each other. Or maybe Nori would go somewhere different, and they’d text back and forth for a while until gradually the messages stopped, and there he’d be, all by himself again, still breathing around a vital part of himself that had been oh-so-casually torn out.
But in the meanwhile, thought Noriaki, maybe I can think of a sport for us to play in the winter.
“Hey,” said Jotaro. “What are you thinking about?”
Nori blinked at him. “Hmm?”
“Hierophant’s going crazy.”
Oh. Now that he was paying attention, he could see and feel all the tendrils of his stand wound around himself like a protective layer. It was what he used to do to comfort himself when there wasn’t anyone else.
“Just worried,” he offered, hoping it was vague enough not to give anything away, but good enough that Jotaro wouldn’t press.
Jojo grunted. But then he lifted his hand off the gearshift and reached over, and suddenly it took hold of Noriaki’s, squeezing gently. He always did things like that, little things, but with Jotaro, it was the little things that counted.
“I can’t believe Dio went out and got himself drugged,” he ground out. He seemed so upset, but his hand was still gentle.
Sukey frowned almost audibly from the backseat. “You’re way too hard on him, Jotaro. It wasn’t his fault he got roofie’d.”
“No, but it is his fault he got wrapped up in whatever domestic thing happened,” said Jotaro. “I can’t believe he would do something like this. I thought he’d-”
Sukey’s frown deepened. “Jotaro?”
“Nevermind,” he grumbled.
Nori squeezed his hand back in silent support.
Man oh man, you do not want to know how much of this chapter was written at 3am. When the writing bug strikes, I must answer. I'm so sorry by the way - I don't know why I decided I needed to absolutely MURDER Kakyoin this episode, and I'm even sorrier we haven't had any Josuke/Sukey POV. (I swear his nickname will be explained!) There was, again, supposed to be more of this chapter but then I was like "huh this is really long and the part I wanted to get to is also really long." So I have once again elected to post now and arrive at important development later. I think for the next chapter I'm going to go back to Bucciarati House because I want to see Trish and Doppio settled in, and then I want to sit in Giorno's head some because there's some fun shipping stuff going on there, and then we're going to come back to what's going on here with all the Dio stuff. We also might finally get to see Aunt Holly soon! As always, I have no idea what I'm doing, and this was pretty much entirely unedited. Please drop me a comment if you have any thoughts and/or you have something you want to see!
Chapter 9: Feelings
Giorno ruminates on matters of the heart. Josuke goes through a rough time at the hospital.
Me @ me: Doppio POV when???
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Doppio woke up just in time to join the family for dinner. He was very glad to see everyone, but he was also very confused as to why he was there, and when Trish told him, he fell very quiet and sad. Giorno was worried about him, but he didn’t really know what he could do, so he just put an extra roll on Doppio’s plate and hoped it made him feel better.
Mista was still wearing the flower crown Giorno made for him during lunch. It was a little wilted and the petals were all closed, but he didn’t seem to care. Fugo had taken his off a while ago, probably because it kept slipping off and getting in his way, but Giorno still felt a little sad. He liked it when his friends wore the things he made for them. It was probably just residual sorrow from when he made his mother a necklace.
It had been just a stupid little thing, he remembered, crafted from paper clips and plastic beads, but he’d been so proud of it, and she hadn’t even looked at it twice.
What is it now? Huh? Oh, you want to give me something? Well, I don’t want this. Go put those clips back, your father needs them for his office.
He startled upright. “Fugo?”
Fugo blinked at him a little uncertainly. “Um, hi. Did you zone out?”
“I guess,” he mumbled. “Sorry, I’m just a little tired. Did you need something?”
“Bucciarati asked if you would be okay with Mista sleeping in our room. Doppio and Trish say they’re fine with the living room, but that’s, you know, four.”
Giorno felt like he had suddenly acquired a case of the butterflies. Mista? And Fugo? Sharing a room with him? With each other? How was he ever supposed to-
He pushed it down. “That’s fine with me,” he said, smiling wanly.
“Okay, then that’s what we’ll do,” said Fugo. He frowned. “Giogio, you really don’t look so hot.”
“I’m fine,” said Giorno. “Worry about Doppio.”
“I’m okay!” said Dop, as brightly as he could manage. “I feel a lot better now. The food is really helping. Thanks, Bucciarati and Abbacchio.”
“Anytime,” said Bruno. “You’re family, Dop. Trish, you too. We’ll take care of you.”
Abbacchio nodded, grunting in assent. “Bruno’s the best person in the world. Come hell or high water, he’ll make sure you’re alright, and I’ll be with him every step of the way. So don’t worry about a damn thing, got it?”
“Stop, stop, you’re gonna make me cry again,” said Trish, burying her face in her brother’s arm.
“Trish,” he laughed, halfheartedly pushing at her.
They seemed okay. Actually, they seemed like they were somewhat in shock, and they’d probably end up crying a bunch later, but Bruno was here, so Giorno wasn’t too worried.
He snuck a glance at Abbacchio. The cop’s face was set stern, like it always was, but with a gentleness that always seemed to be present whenever Bruno was in the room.
Giorno was the newest member of their little makeshift family. Or, well, he had been. He supposed that was no longer true with the addition of Trish and Doppio, but they’d been friends with Bucciarati House long before Bruno scooped him off the streets.
He’d been going to boarding school, but then his parents stopped sending him money, so he’d started pickpocketing, but then they ‘forgot’ to register him for the next school year, so he’d tried to go back home, but they’d moved away and he couldn’t find their address and he was out of money, so he’d been lost on the streets, willing to try almost anything to make it out of there. He’d go to sleep every night dreaming of warmth and the love of a family. His real family, from his childhood dreams.
Then came Bruno, and suddenly he didn’t have to dream anymore.
Bruno was only nine years older than him. Giorno was sixteen and Bruno was twenty-five. He’d have been barely out of college if he’d gone to college. But he was like a father to Giorno, everything he’d ever dared to hope for, and Giorno was so happy. He used to have big dreams for himself. He’d be rich, buy a million necklaces for his mother and maybe get to see her smile, and then he’d donate all his money to charity and buying little kids Christmas presents who didn’t get any. He’d have a nice girlfriend who always seemed to have broader shoulders and thicker features than most girls did, and she’d love him, and maybe he’d love her, and then they’d go to sleep together and not wake up.
Those were nice dreams, but he didn’t need them anymore. All he wanted now was to make Bruno proud, and somehow, inexplicably, he could do that just by existing.
Abbacchio he was less certain about. Abbacchio had taken a look at him when Bruno brought him through the door, raised an eyebrow and gone, “Another one?” Then when he ran into Giorno and Giorno apologized to him for being in his house, he’d said, “Just try not to take up too much space.” Later when Mista convinced him to go out and get into trouble with him and Narancia, and Abbacchio had to pick them all up from the police station, he’d said, “Damn it, kid. Another little rascal, aren’t you?” They hadn’t talked much outside of that, and sometimes he seemed nice, but Giorno wasn’t really the type to take chances.
He liked Bruno. Bruno was safe. He liked Fugo, who wasn’t safe, but was at least predictable to a T. He liked Mista, who was also predictable, and additionally rather safe. Narancia he liked in theory, but Narancia made a lot of loud noises and Giorno Did Not Like loud noises. Trish was snappy, but nice, and Doppio was the sweetest thing to ever have walked the earth. Giorno didn’t know what god he’d pleased to have such a wonderful new family, but if he ever found out, he’d worship them to a grave that seemed further and further away with every passing moment.
Unfortunately, he seemed to like a couple of members of his family a little more than just family. Sometimes, when he couldn’t sleep, he’d lie awake and listen to Fugo snore, and he’d count each breath so he could be thankful for them later. Other times, he’d sneak out to the kitchen for a glass of water and Mista’s hat would be on the floor, so he’d pick it up, fold it, and put it on the arm of the couch for him when he woke up.
“Gioooorno,” said Mista. “Earth to Giorno, you’re zoning out again.”
“Sorry,” said Giorno sheepishly. “What did you need?”
Mista smiled at him. Giorno’s stomach did a backflip. “Just wondering if you’re alright. You seem really out of it right now.”
“Yeah, I’m okay,” mumbled Giorno.
Doppio seemed to be doing better. He was laughing at something Narancia said. Trish was arguing with Fugo about… something France-related. Bruno and Abbacchio were having a quiet conversation where Bruno had taken one of Abbacchio’s hands to stroke it gently.
And Mista was looking at him, still. Giorno didn’t understand the expression on his face, but it didn’t seem like it was bad.
I love you.
“Thanks for checking up on me,” was what he said, before sliding into his poker face. “What are we going to do about beds tonight? I guess Dop and Trish will share the couch bed, which means Narancia will sleep on the air mattress. We’re one bed short.”
“I… have no idea,” said Mista, scratching the back of his head. He shrugged. “Maybe Fugo will share with me? Which of you has the bigger bed?”
They were both twin-sized. “You can share with me,” said Giorno, before his brain could catch up to his mouth.
Mista blinked at him. “Really?”
“Um. Of course,” said Giorno, looking for a way to recover. “Or… Fugo can share with me, and you’ll take his bed.” That alternative was just as bad. “I just don’t think the two of you would work well in the same bed. You tend to, um, starfish.” Fugo always slept as tightly curled-up as possible, and Giorno always wished he could crawl under the covers beside him and press up against his warmth. He slept curled-up, too. The difference was that Fugo hated being touched, and Giorno starved for contact like it was air.
“No, that’s okay,” said Mista, a little too quickly. “I’ll share with you. I don’t mind. Uh. That is, if you don’t.”
“I don’t,” said Giorno. He felt awkward, but also happy, and just a little bit hopeful. Mista really had said it very fast.
He looked across the table at Fugo and saw him in the soft warm light of their cheap Home Depot dining room chandelier, all fired up from the stupid argument, golden tones painted across his sharp features, ends of his hair catching the glow bright like the shock of a Tesla coil. His stomach did another backflip. Then he remembered how proud Mista had been when he finally saved up enough to buy them that chandelier, how radiant his smile had been, and he felt so confused he couldn’t tell if it was his belly doing acrobatics or if it was acting like an anchor point for the rest of him.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
Those words were everywhere, especially in movies, thrown around like a beach ball, passed back and forth like a drink. No one seemed to understand how special they were. When Bruno saved him, he’d said, “Giorno, you are worthy of love.” But he hadn’t said the words. No one had ever.
Giorno understood, though. Saying it was always hard. He wished he could just open up his chest and let the feelings flow out, and everyone at this table could understand what they all meant to him. He didn’t think they knew. They knew he liked them, but they didn’t know how much.
And… maybe… Mista and Fugo would know, too.
Mista and Fugo? No, it had to be Mista or Fugo. Right?
This was getting out of hand.
Traffic was terrible. It was considerably later by the time they reached the hospital, and Jotaro had stopped talking halfway there. Sukey tried to chatter to fill the empty space, but even he couldn’t be cheerful forever. Noriaki kept up with him for a while, but he fell silent at one point and now Sukey couldn’t get anything other than one-word answers out of him.
He had no idea what that meant with Nori, but it was clear that Jotaro was pissed.
This was not going to go well.
Jotaro was quiet the whole way up. Sukey could feel the wrath trailing behind him. Noriaki was equally quiet, but less angry; more worried. He excused himself to go to the bathroom.
“I’ll text you the room number,” said Sukey. Nori seemed to barely hear him.
They bumped into a cop with odd long, silver hair on the way up, escorting two pink-haired teenagers. Sukey shot him a quick sorry and hurried after Jotaro.
“Listen, man,” he said, when they were in the elevator, “I know you’re pissed, but please don’t blow up on him in there, okay? Dio’s probably been through a lot today. We don’t know exactly what happened that put him in the hospital. He could be… traumatized, or something.”
“He made you worry,” Jotaro spat. Sukey had just been expecting an annoyed grunt. Actual words made him jump. “He’s screwing up again.”
Sukey frowned. “Again? Come on, dude, you know I haven’t… been with you guys too long. I wasn’t here for all the shit- I mean stuff that happened with him and Jonathan.”
Jotaro drew in a breath, as if to speak, but abruptly exhaled instead.
“He can tell you himself,” he muttered, and sank down into his coat collar. He had never looked more like or reminded Sukey less of Batman.
The thought made him huff a quiet laugh, except there was some sort of blockage in his throat and- oh, he was crying. He turned away from Jotaro so he wouldn’t see. If Jotaro saw him crying, there was no way in hell he wouldn’t beat the shit out of Dio.
This was the longest fucking elevator ride in the goddamn world.
The doors slid open. They walked out. Sukey kept facing away, trying to discreetly wipe at his eyes.
A rough hand on his shoulder. “Hey. You okay?”
I am not going to break down crying in the middle of a hospital, thought Sukey. Not again.
He forced a smile. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just tired.”
Jotaro searched his face, frowning, but didn’t seem to find anything.
“Wait out here for a moment,” he said when they reached Dio’s room, and Sukey’s heart dropped into his stomach.
He texted Noriaki the room number and leaned against the wall. Hopefully he’d be up soon. God, please. He was the only one in the world who could calm down Jotaro once he got angry, and all the signs pointed to Jotaro getting angry very soon.
Somebody was shouting in the hospital room. The walls muffled the sound enough that Sukey couldn’t quite tell who, and with Jotaro and Dio in there, he couldn’t guess.
I’m not crying.
I’m not crying.
I’m not crying.
In an effort to distract himself, he opened his phone and texted Koichi.
im at the hospital n i think my brother is yelling at my other brother
dolphin man n vampire
Oh crap, man
Dolphin man is super scary
yeah tell me about it i live w the guy
Leave it to Koichi to use proper capitalization and spelling over instant messages. Sukey cracked a smile. He felt better already.
Do you know what’s wrong?
Does this have anything to do with you leaving earlier?
dunno exactly whats wrong but dios in the hospital
jotaros really pissed man
noriaki said dio was fine just drugged or sth
maybe concussed idk
Well, I hope Jotaro cools down. Did you say Nori was there?
dunno where he is now tho
was hoping hed come chill joot out but he yote off
How are you doing?
Josuke’s thumbs hovered over the keyboard. How was he doing?
Sad, mostly. A little tired. Scared.
im ok lol thx for asking
The conversation turned to other things, and eventually he ended up teasing poor Koichi about his crush on Yukako. He and Okuyasu used to make fun of her for being a little off, but she wasn’t a bad person, really. Just kinda weird. He wouldn’t mind too much if she and Koichi started dating. And even if he did, he wouldn’t say anything about it, because he was a Bro, and a Bro valued the happiness of their Bros above all else.
By the end of their conversation, he was feeling a lot more like his old self, enough to smile at Noriaki as he came up the stairs worrying at his scarf. The long piece of fabric caught on one of his jacket pins and ripped it clean off.
“Oh no!” said Nori, snatching it up off the floor. He frowned at it sadly. “The hinge broke.”
Sukey, an Engineering student, perked up. “Here, gimme.”
Nori handed it over. He inspected it.
“Yeah, I can fix this,” he said. “Well, as long as Lord Kars lets me borrow his tools. I’ll ask Jo- I mean, I’ll see if I can bum a ride down to his shop later!”
“Oh! Thank you very much, Josuke,” said Noriaki, the beginnings of a smile on his face.
Sukey could feel his own expression fading to neutral. “It’s Sukey.”
“Right. Of course. I’m sorry,” said Nori, clearly kicking himself.
“No, it’s okay,” said Sukey. “Even Big Jojo forgets sometimes.”
“Well, I apologize regardless,” said Noriaki. He was a good guy.
The noise in the hospital room had died down, but it was picking up again. Fuck, Jotaro was so loud when he got pissed. Sukey could almost hear him calling Dio a screw-up through the wall.
God, he couldn’t imagine how bad it must’ve felt for Dio. George was already so hard on him, and he hadn’t gotten along with Jonathan at all when he first came to live with the Joestars, which meant Joseph had been a real dick to him because of that. Sukey barely talked to the man himself. Jotaro was the only one of the Joestar brothers who was truly nice to Dio, and from what Sukey knew, he really needed it. So for Jotaro to be screaming in his face?
Sukey had to, like, give him a hug or something when they got home. Hey, I know we barely know each other even though we live in the same house and we’re supposed to be brothers, but I know you’ve gotta be feeling bad right now and I promise I’m just trying to help, not make fun of you…
Joseph had done that once, offered comfort to Dio and then mocked him relentlessly for it the day after. God, Joseph had been such a bag of dicks to Dio when he was a teenager.
“Hey Sukey?” said Noriaki.
It startled him back into reality. He turned to look at his friend/brother’s boyfriend/brother-in-law. In-law, probably. The cool kind. Jotaro had probably forged George’s signature on their marriage application last spring or something and they’d just never mentioned it. They were private like that. “What’s up?”
Noriaki shifted pensively. “Pardon me if this is an invasive question, but… I was wondering, why did you change your name to Sukey? Isn’t it an archaic diminutive of Susan?”
Sukey’s face brightened. “Yeah! Heh, figures you would know that. Still, that’s really cool. Not many people do.”
“Is that why you picked it?” asked Nori.
“Well, sort of,” said Sukey. “If you’re asking if I’m trans, I don’t think I am. I just… it has more to do with…” He struggled for the words. “It’s just… it’s a really English spelling of the usual nickname for Josuke.”
Noriaki seemed confused for a minute. Then the bulb in his head lit up.
“Oh,” he said softly. “So… you wanted to seem more… American?”
Sukey nodded. “That’s pretty much it. I know it doesn’t sound American, but it sounds like my old name, and seeing it on paper looks American, and… it just makes me feel better. Y’know?”
“I… suppose,” said Nori. It was at that moment that Sukey remembered Noriaki came from a blended Irish-Japanese family which took great pride in both of its roots, so much so that Nori could do shodo on top of all the other art stuff he was good at and also spoke fluent Irish. “What’s… what’s wrong with being Japanese, though?”
He’d probably meant to say “seeming,” but such was the nature of the Freudian slip.
“Nothing,” Sukey was quick to say. “I don’t have anything against Japanese people. Come on, man, you know me! You know I don’t have anything against anybody.”
Nori relaxed at that. “Of course. I’m sorry I ever implied anything different.”
“It’s okay. I get it. I get made fun of for being Japanese ‘n stuff too, sometimes,” said Sukey. Bullies were stupid and annoying; Jotaro had punched a lot of them for him. “It’s… just kind of weird for me. I don’t mind other people being Japanese, y’know? It just bothers me when people say I’m Japanese.”
It was a baffling statement even to Sukey, so it made sense when Nori looked confused. “Uh. Internalized racism, maybe?”
That punched him in the guts. Especially when it made him think of the real reason.
“No, I don’t think so,” he mumbled. “I think I know what it is. I don’t really want to talk about it.”
“Oh! I’m sorry,” said Nori, always polite no matter what. Sukey could tell he really wanted to press, and he knew Nori could get anything out of anybody without them noticing, so he appreciated that he left it at that.
“That’s okay,” said Sukey, pulling a smile.
They fell into an awkward silence. Sukey put his hand in his pocket and fiddled with Noriaki’s broken pin. It was quiet again in the room, and he felt like going in to check on them, but he wasn’t sure that would be a good idea.
A few moments later, Jotaro stormed out. He had his hat pulled down over his eyes and his arms wrapped around himself. Anyone else would have read anger off his posture and scrammed - even Nori looked a little frightened - but Sukey knew his brother. He knew what he was seeing.
“Hey,” he said, putting himself in front of Jotaro. He held out his arms.
Jotaro fell into him with a sob.
Noriaki was over in an instant, rubbing his boyfriend’s back. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Jotaro shook his head, but he did anyways. “He’s using again.”
Sukey was confused, but Noriaki seemed to know exactly what that meant. “Oh god,” he said with a hysterical little laugh, like the words had been punched out of him.
“He was supposed to quit,” Jotaro was saying. “He told me he quit. He said he wouldn’t lie to me.”
Abruptly, Sukey understood that they were talking about drugs.
Hey, sorry y'all haven't seen me in so long! Just went back to school, and looks like things are going to be really busy again. Updates will probably start taking longer. There is a plus side though - when I have less time to write, I tend to write longer chapters! Which I think is good question mark? Eh, we'll see. I still don't know what I'm doing but I do know where I'm going with this now (I think). As always, everything is posted completely unedited, with the tentative promise of cleaning it up after I finish. Please leave a comment if you have any thoughts or questions!
Chapter 10: Tomorrow
Giorno falls deeper. Josuke fixes something. Jotaro and Kakyoin make a decision.
I listened to Nobody by Mitski so many times while I was writing this chapter, it's not even funny. I hope you like the results. Also, mild content warning for Dio hurting himself without noticing what he's doing.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The ride home was tense. Dio sat in the back with Sukey, who was trying very hard not to stare at him. He felt horrible the whole way - what if Dio thought he was ignoring him? But he couldn’t say anything in the car, not with Jotaro still so upset.
The flashes of Dio he caught out of the corner of his eye looked terrible. He seemed haggard, even after having been asleep, and his hair was greasy. Sukey understood not being able to take showers. He kept picking at a scab on his hand and scratching at something on the side of his head.
His nails weren’t painted, Sukey noticed, shifting to get a better look. Oh god. There was blood underneath them.
Had he scratched through…
Okay. Okay, time to think. He couldn’t say anything, but he had to get Dio to stop before he hurt himself even worse. What could he do? Oh god. Okay. Okay. Maybe he could do something to occupy Dio’s hands.
Think. What could he do?
Dio really needed that shower.
Wait, that was it! The shower! They shared a bathroom!
“Man, I’m sweaty,” Sukey complained out loud. He was sure it rang false, but he was equally sure no one would say anything about it. The mood was too tense. “Can’t wait to take a shower.”
“You’d better not use all the hot water,” muttered Dio.
Success! Even in trouble, he was still an ornery bitch.
Sukey let out a breath. “Sure, whatever. Hey, tell you what - let’s rock paper scissors. Whoever wins gets to go first.”
“Fine,” said Dio, and Sukey could’ve cried in relief, because his hands were finally away from himself and there was so much blood it was on his fingertips and-
And Sukey was crying.
Jotaro’s eyes shifted towards him in the rearview mirror. “Josuke?”
“It’s Sukey,” he replied by reflex. “I’m fine.”
Jotaro’s eyes shifted towards Dio. “What did you do.”
“Nothing,” Dio grumbled.
Jotaro looked back to Sukey. “What did he do.”
“He didn’t do anything,” whispered Sukey.
With a grunt, Jotaro’s eyes returned to the road. Noriaki must’ve been asleep, because he didn’t say anything. Sukey envied him a little.
When he looked back up, Dio’s brow was furrowed at him. “Seriously, you little gremlin, what’s the matter? Why are you crying?”
“Your hands,” said Sukey, too soft for a wail.
Dio looked down. “Oh,” he said numbly, curling his fingers. “I… didn’t notice.”
Sukey just cried more. He didn’t see it, because he’d hidden his face in his arm by then, but Dio reached towards him for a second before chickening out and pulling back into himself. Mercifully, Jotaro left it alone.
I’m going to go crazy, thought Giorno.
It was the middle of the night. He’d just woken up from one of his nightmares. Oddly enough, very few of them were about his stepfather; most of them were almost like reliving memories that had never happened. His new family featured front and center in a lot of them. In his dreams, they had ghosts of their own, just like the golden thing that followed him around and turned his school supplies into daisies if he felt like it.
Tonight’s dream was bad. Narancia had been there, but he was wearing Giorno’s face, and Mista wailed in Trish’s voice - Giorno was sure he’d tried to cry, but broken thing that he was, he’d lost the means to do that a long time ago. Grief roiled in his chest, pricked at his dry eyes, choked up his throat and made him ball up as tiny as he could, curled protectively around all the bits that hurt.
Usually when he woke up, he got up and went to the kitchen for a glass of water. But tonight, there was a Mista draped over him, heavy and warm. He was stirring. The motion of Giorno’s nightmare must’ve woken him.
“Giogio?” he mumbled sleepily.
“Go back to sleep, Mista,” said Giorno, pulling away.
He made an unhappy noise. “Where’re you going?”
Giorno gently extricated himself from the blankets. “To go get a drink.”
“But it’s cold,” Mista complained.
“You’re not even the one getting up,” Giorno giggled.
“So? I don’ wan’ you t’ be cold.”
The lump on the other bed twitched. Fugo’s head emerged from his cocoon of blankets. “Giorno?” His voice was just as foggy with sleep as Mista’s, but he seemed to be considerably more alert. “Why’re you up?”
“I just want some water,” said Giorno, laughing helplessly. “I’m sorry I woke you two up!”
Mista slapped an arm across his chest and proceeded to attempt to pull him back into the covers. “Bed,” he’d decided.
“Oh my god,” said Giorno.
Fugo had an interested look on his face. “No, no, he’s right. You get back in bed, Giogio. I’ll go get you some water.”
“No,” Mista complained, loudly enough that Giorno jumped. “Cold!” He finished tugging Giorno back under the comforter and rolled over him so he could lurch off the bed and push Fugo onto his. Fugo hit the mattress with an explosive huff, air knocked out of him completely. He blinked up, stunned, as Mista dragged his blankets back over him and left the room.
Giorno and Fugo looked at each other with wide eyes and reached a mutual shrug.
The kitchen sink ran. Moments later, Mista staggered back into the room with a glass of water, which he foisted upon Giorno, almost spilling it. Giorno took it in both hands with no small amount of alarm and began sipping it, hiding beneath it so that only his eyes gleamed out from above the rim of the cup. Mista nodded, satisfied, and suddenly seized hold of Fugo and started dragging him off the bed.
“Hey! What the fuck are you doing,” Fugo whisper-shouted, twisting away.
“Come cuddle,” said Mista, hoisting him into his arms. He carried the squirming Fugo over to the other bed and dropped him on the comforter beside Giorno.
“Mista, what the fuck,” said Fugo, jolting upright like an indignant cat.
“Do it for Giogio,” said Mista, shooting him a cheeky grin. Fugo flushed a bright shade of crimson.
“Guys, everything’s fine. Go back to sleep,” said Giorno, still hiding behind his water cup. He’d drained it halfway.
Fugo looked toward him and snuggled up to him a little, expression softening.
“I know that’s not true, Giorno,” he said.
Damn it, Fugo, thought Giorno, with no heat to it. The two of them had sort of an understanding. Fugo pretended not to notice when Giorno’s nightmares startled him awake, and Giorno pretended not to notice when it was three in the morning and Fugo was still up, rocking himself with his blankets drawn over his head.
Mista got into bed with them and hip-checked everybody until they all settled in against the headboard with Giorno sandwiched in the middle, which made him feel so loved he could have cried. “You don’t have to talk about it,” Mista told him, leaning his head against Giorno’s, “but we’re here.”
Giorno could smell the soap in his hair. On the other side of him, Fugo nestled into his shoulder, and he smelled like his strawberry conditioner that Giorno liked to borrow.
“I have nightmares sometimes,” he said.
Mista’s hand snaked down to twine together with his.
“They’re… about us. All of us.”
Fugo shifted, leaning into him further.
“About… bad things happening… but nothing that could happen in real life, you know?”
The silence was good. Giorno shut his eyes.
“It feels like it’s happened before,” he said softly. “Like… somehow, we all lived another life together, except in that one… everything went wrong.”
“I know it’s not real, but… God, I’m so scared. I… I love you.”
A gentle puff of breath from Fugo.
“We know,” said Mista, smiling. “We can tell, you know.”
Giorno didn’t know if he was talking about the familial love he felt for everyone, or if Mista meant the more complicated love Giorno felt for the two other people in the room.
“I don’t want anything bad to happen,” he whispered. “I don’t know why, but I feel like we’re on the verge of something massive. Something terrible. And… I… I’m just so terrified that I’ll mess up again.”
“You won’t,” said Fugo, almost immediately.
Giorno looked at him, astonished.
Fugo shrugged. He seemed to be falling asleep, which was so endearing it made Giorno’s chest hurt. “You’re my Giogio,” he murmured. “I know I can trust you.”
“He’s right,” said Mista. Giorno turned to him and saw his fond smile. “Whatever happened, it wasn’t your fault. You always do your best no matter what. As long as you’re with us, we’ll all be alright. Including you, Giogio.”
Giorno sniffled again.
“Thank you,” he mumbled, soaking in their warmth, and he noted with great shock the wet on his cheeks. He’d been so sure that wasn’t even possible for him anymore. For the first time since he was a baby, he let himself cry, wrapped in safety with the people he loved.
In the living room, Trish and Doppio were on the couch bed while Narancia took the air mattress. He was snoring away, probably dreaming about getting famous on SoundCloud or something. It was an endearing thought. Trish took the opportunity to touch base with her brother, who had been uncharacteristically quiet.
“Hey,” she prodded him gently. “How much of today do you remember, Dop?”
“Not a lot,” he murmured. “I remember that guy, Massimo, grabbing me, and then Abba was there. Do you know what happened to Dad?”
That was right. He’d been asleep during her recount. “Um, he’s in jail now, I think,” she said. “Also, uh, Abba had to shoot him.”
“Oh god,” said Doppio, putting his face in the pillow.
“No, no, it’s okay, it wasn’t anything vital,” said Trish. “He kind of… He’d grabbed us, and he was trying to take us away, so Abba shot him in the shoulder. Then he fell down the stairs.”
Doppio rolled over to face her. “That’s not better!”
“No, no, he’s fine,” said Trish. She was so tired. “God, I almost wish he wasn’t.”
“I think I know what you mean,” said Dop quietly. “What do you think he’s going to do?”
“Well, he’ll probably hire a lawyer and get his sentence reduced,” said Trish.
“Do you think he’ll come for us?”
She didn’t say anything for a little bit.
“I don’t know,” she sighed. “Abba thinks he’ll lose custody of us, and then he and Bruno are gonna adopt us, so they’ll be our legal guardians, at least.”
“Abba will protect us,” said Doppio, snuggling into the blanket. “I wish I had all my things. I think I left my phone back at the house.”
“Yeah, me too,” said Trish. She sighed explosively. “God, I just want everything to be over.”
“It’s mostly over now, isn’t it?” said Dop.
“Yeah, but there’s still all that legal stuff, and they might want us to testify, and we have to go to school tomorrow…”
“Bruno’s not gonna make you guys go to school tomorrow,” mumbled Narancia, sitting up. His hair was a mess and a half; he looked adorable. “You can stay home! We’ve been trying to turn the back porch into a new room for like, a while, so maybe you guys can help out with that ‘n then you’ll have space.”
“Really?” said Doppio, eyes wide.
Narancia nodded. “Mhmm! Mom- I mean, Bruno says that school’s important, but sometimes you need to take care of yourself.”
“That sounds nice,” said Trish, yawning. “What do you think, Dop? Wanna stay home tomorrow? I bet there’s plenty of housework we could do.”
“Yeah, I like that idea,” said Doppio. He sat up.
Trish made a quizzical noise. “Where’re you going?”
“Kinda slept all afternoon,” said Doppio sadly. “I’m not really tired right now. Gonna go get some water, maybe.”
“Mmkay. Don’t stay up too late,” said Trish, rolling over.
He ended up watching a Netflix horror movie on mute. It was really bad and mostly focused on the main girl’s boobs, but it passed the time. He wondered where his dad was and what he was thinking about. If he was sorry about what happened earlier, or if he even cared at all. If that blond stranger was okay. He realized he’d forgotten to ask Trish, but she was already asleep.
Dio was locked in his room, not talking to anybody. Josuke was on the couch, waiting for Jonathan to come home. It was getting late, nearly nine o’clock, and Jotaro was sitting in the kitchen, trying not to wring his hands.
Aunt Holly had picked up Jolyne from school and they’d gotten her on the way home. She’d been uncharacteristically quiet. Holly had pulled Jotaro aside and told him, “She’s a little upset. I think she knows something’s wrong, since I only pick her up from school when there’s something bad going on.” For some reason, this made Jotaro feel terrible, even though he couldn’t have done anything different.
Nori had been weirdly quiet, too. It was almost like when they’d first met, when Nori was still scared of him. Jotaro was pretty sure he’d freaked Nori out by getting so angry, which also made him feel terrible.
Worst of all, he really had stepped out of line. Dio needed to be yelled at, but some of the things he remembered screaming at him were things he shouldn’t have said.
Now Jolyne was upset, Sukey was miserable, Dio was hiding, Nori was skittish, nobody had eaten dinner yet, and Jonathan wasn’t home.
Noriaki walked into the kitchen. “Hey,” he said, hovering by the door.
They’d only been apart for a few minutes, but Jotaro already missed him desperately. He got up slowly, walked to him, and hugged him. “I’m sorry.”
Nori leaned into him, hugging back. “For what?”
“I got way too mad and I scared everybody. I’m sorry.”
“You didn’t scare me,” said Noriaki softly, but Jotaro could feel the relief in the way he melted and didn’t believe the words. “Come on, let’s make some dinner.”
“Jonathan’s not home yet,” mumbled Jotaro.
Noriaki sighed. “I don’t think he’s going to be home for a while, Jojo, especially with how late it already is. We all need to eat. Jonathan won’t mind.”
He was right. Jonathan wouldn’t mind, and they all definitely needed dinner. But Jotaro couldn’t help feeling bad. His oldest brother worked so hard, and he always seemed so happy to see them at dinner. It killed Jotaro not to be able to wait for him.
“Okay,” he said, feeling completely deflated. “Does somebody want to wake up George?”
“We should probably do that when the food’s done,” said Noriaki, looking relieved. Jotaro felt bad for worrying him.
He tried to manifest a smile. “No, we need to do it now. He always complains when we wake him up right when dinner’s done. Otherwise he doesn’t have enough time to get ready or something, I don’t know.”
“Oh, right.” Nori stretched. “Maybe we can get Sukey to do it.”
Jotaro snorted. “Absolutely not. He’s terrified of George.” He sighed. “I’ll do it.”
Nori frowned. “Are you sure?”
Jotaro shrugged. “Do you want to do it?”
“No,” said Noriaki very quickly. “No, I’m good. I’ll get Jolyne. She can help cook. What are we making tonight?”
Well, it wouldn’t be nearly the apology he deserved, but at least it might make Dio feel a little better.
“Let’s have split pea soup,” he said. “With the leftover ham from Saturday.” Dio’s favorite. They even had some grocery store french bread to go with it.
Nori’s face broke into a wide smile.
Sukey tensed up a little as Jotaro walked past him to go to George’s room. Jotaro paused briefly, like he was going to say something, but the moment passed without either of them doing anything.
He slumped, then sloughed off the couch and stalked to the kitchen.
Noriaki was getting some things out of their cabinets. “Ooh, split pea soup,” said Sukey, in a pale imitation of his usual cheer.
“Yeah, Jotaro wants to make Dio feel better,” said Nori. He seemed tired. They all seemed tired. “I’m just getting everything ready before I go get Jolyne.”
“Cool,” said Sukey. He snorted. “Man, I swear you know what’s in our cabinets better than I do. You, like, basically live here. When was the last time you were home?”
Nori shrugged. “A few weeks ago. My parents were coming back for a couple of nights, so I went over to clean up and say hello.”
“Oh, that’s right, you were missing for a little bit in October,” Sukey remembered. “Jotaro gets so mopey when you aren’t around. It’s kind of sad, actually. He turns into a human lump and he growls at everything that moves, except Jolyne. Are you guys married yet?”
Noriaki choked. “Pardon me, what?”
“I mean,” said Sukey, “I figured you guys would just go ahead and do it, never mind the laws and stuff. Joot’s head-over-heels for you and I’ve known you long enough that I know you definitely feel the same. Also I can’t really imagine you guys having a big ceremony, y’know? But if you ever do decide to have a party, I really hope I’m invited! I’d be really stoked to attend you guys’s wedding, man. That would be really cool. Like, a huge honor.”
“Sukey,” said Nori. “Sukey. Josuke.”
Sukey frowned. “Yeah?”
Nori put a can of peas down on the counter with a definitive thump. He fixed Sukey with a look of total shock.
“Sukey,” he said slowly, “Jotaro and I are not together.”
“Well obviously that’s a lie,” he said, crossing his arms. “I mean, there’s no way. You guys are an item. A team. You’ve- you’ve been together since middle school, man.”
“No we haven’t,” said Nori, shaking his head. His eyes were very wide. “Jotaro hated me in middle school.”
“No way,” said Sukey. “You were over here twice a week.”
“Yeah, that’s because he nearly knocked me down the stairs and Jonathan made him feel really bad about it and invited me over for dinner so he could apologize,” said Nori. “And then I told Jonathan about my parents always being away, so he kept inviting me back. Jotaro didn’t start liking me until we started high school.”
Sukey was beginning to feel physically upset. “That’s not true at all! Didn’t he ask you to show him one of your video games, like, a week after you met him? And then didn’t he take you swimming? We used to FaceTime every Friday and he wouldn’t shut up about you. Then when we got Jolyne when you guys were in eighth grade, all he wanted to do was hang out with you and take care of her.”
“He was just being polite,” said Nori. “And he loves Jolyne. He just felt bad about leaving me alone.”
“No, no, no, no,” said Sukey, shaking his head. “Kakyoin Noriaki. I love you, man, but you are so freaking oblivious. Like, take it from me, man-”
“Oh, Jotaro,” said Noriaki in a very high, frazzled voice. “You’re back.”
Jotaro grunted. “Did you get Jolyne?”
Nori turned tomato red. “No- I- Uh…” He fled the kitchen.
Jotaro watched him go, frowning. He turned to Sukey. “Is he okay?”
“Are you still mad?” asked Sukey.
“No,” said Jotaro. “Sorry.”
“Oh, thank god,” said Sukey. He walked up to Jotaro and seized him by the coat. Jotaro blinked down at him, eyes comically wide. He let Sukey pull him until they were nose to nose.
“Tell him you love him,” said Sukey.
“Okay?” said Jotaro.
Sukey shook him. Jotaro let him.
“Tell him tonight, ” said Sukey. “When he comes back. Take him into the other room, and tell him you love him.”
“O...kay,” said Jotaro. “Why?”
“Because,” said Sukey. “He doesn’t know.” He shook Jotaro again. “Dude, are you hearing me?! He doesn’t know you love him!”
“OH,” said Jotaro. “Let go.”
Sukey glared. “You better be going to tell him right now.”
“Yeah,” said Jotaro. “Let go. Or I’m taking you with me.”
“No thank you.” Sukey released him quickly. Jotaro did a curious little thing where he started off walking at a normal speed, but the more steps he took the faster and faster he got, until he was thundering up the stairs. Sukey was pretty sure he heard him call Nori’s name.
He grinned. At least one thing was going right tonight.
“Jojo!” cried Jolyne, happily jumping up and down. She ran to her big brother and hugged him around one improbably beefy leg. Jotaro patted her head - it was all he could reach.
“Can you go downstairs and play with Sukey?” he said. “I need to talk to Nori for a minute.”
“Okay!” She ran off.
“Hi,” said Noriaki, smile faltering. He still felt kind of lightheaded from that conversation with Sukey. He just hoped Jotaro hadn’t heard too much of it. Which, judging by how he now wanted to have a talk, it seemed luck was not on his side.
“Hi,” said Jotaro.
He had his hands in his pockets. It was past nine o’clock on a Monday night, and the house was oddly quiet, the only sound coming from the kitchen where Jolyne and Sukey were having a no-doubt nonsensical conversation, any discernible meaning washed out of it by the distance and the reverb off the old house walls that turned it all into vaguely word-shaped noise. A car’s tires ground against the pavement as it rolled by their house. Jotaro hovered by the door when on any other occasion he would step forward, immerse them both in the same space, confirming with the placement of his body that they saw each other, that they existed on the same level.
Noriaki shut his eyes. He knew what was coming. Mentally, he pulled up a catalogue of his things, carelessly scattered throughout the house and Jotaro’s room, that he’d have to collect and carry away along with himself.
Jotaro seemed to flounder for words.
“I’m sorry,” he settled on, gruff and quiet. “I should’ve told you sooner.”
“It’s okay,” said Nori, squeezing his eyes shut tighter. It wasn’t okay, but Jotaro didn’t have to know that. It could be easy, at least for him. Noriaki could make it easy. It was what he did.
Jotaro drew in a breath.
“Noriaki,” he said. “I love you.”
The script in Nori’s brain ground to a halt.
His eyes flew open. Immediately he fixed his gaze on Jotaro’s face, startled and almost angry, looking for the falsehood, for the joke.
But Jotaro wouldn’t do that to him. He wouldn’t.
He was looking at Nori anxiously, not as anxious as Nori, but concerned nonetheless. It was in the way his weight shifted forward like he was getting ready to go into a battle crouch. He’d learned a long time ago to solve his problems physically, and that was what he always did, even though he knew better now. His hands were barely in his pockets anymore, slipping out, itching to enter the ready position. Wamuu would be proud.
“You love me?” said Nori.
It was the single lamest thing he’d ever said. He wanted to die. But then Jotaro was smiling! It was even a real smile, where his lips actually moved and everything. Nori hadn’t seen him smile like that since summer, when in a fit of braveness he’d pushed Jotaro into the water and Jotaro had come up grinning-
“I love you,” Jotaro confirmed. “Can I…?” And Nori was already in his arms, squeezing him tight around the ribs. Jotaro was so broad that Noriaki’s arms nearly didn’t go all the way around him, which was ridiculous, but Noriaki had already made peace with that long ago. He leaned his head against Jotaro’s chest and Jotaro pulled him close, so steady and strong that he nearly lifted Nori clean off his feet, already taking most of his weight.
“I love you,” said Nori. “Oh my god, Jotaro, I love you so much.”
“I love you too,” Jotaro was saying. “I… I thought you knew. I never told you because I always thought…”
“Shh, it’s okay,” said Nori, and it mostly was. He was so happy he was on the verge of tears. “Do you want to get married?”
That was not supposed to be out loud. That was not supposed to be, period. He blamed Sukey for putting the thought in his head. He was just about to backtrack when Jotaro said, “Yes.”
Nori blinked. “Wait, really? You’re not kidding?”
Jotaro made a worried noise. “Were you?”
“No,” said Nori. “Well, I mean, I didn’t really mean to say it. It just kind of came out. But… I wasn’t kidding.”
“Me neither,” said Jotaro, hugging him. “Let’s get married. We can do it tomorrow. Do you know how to forge your parents’ signatures?”
“Yes, but I think they’d have to do it in front of a notary,” said Noriaki.
Jotaro shrugged. “I know how to forge that, too.”
“Oh my god,” said Nori. “I can’t believe I’m marrying such a delinquent.” Actually, he couldn’t believe he was getting married at all. He was seventeen years old and he’d just found out his crush and somewhat-partner of six years liked him back. From an outsider’s perspective, this was a stupid decision, but by God, did he believe in love right now. True love was knocking on his door, and for once, he was ready to take the plunge. Maybe this was a mistake, but screw it. Screw. It. He’d spent all his life believing he wasn’t wanted, that he was worth nothing. Now, Jotaro was here, and Noriaki was so important to him that he wanted to marry him.
Holy shit, they were getting married.
“You’d better get used to it,” Jotaro was telling him, and Nori fuzzily made the connection to his delinquent comment.
“I’m already used to it,” said Nori.
“Good,” said Jotaro. “‘Cause. You’re gonna have to live with it.”
“Hey, I asked you,” said Noriaki, and then they were laughing so hard they couldn’t stand up, sinking to the floor in the middle of Jolyne’s room with butterflies on the walls that Noriaki had painted himself. Eventually it petered out, and Nori was left to be utterly entranced by the stupid grin Jotaro couldn’t seem to wipe off his face.
“Maybe we should just wait until we’re eighteen,” he said. “That seems less flagrantly illegal.”
Jotaro grunted. “That’s next July.” That’s too long, he was really saying. Noriaki was inclined to agree.
“Okay,” he laughed. “Okay. Then… let’s do it tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow,” Jotaro echoed, smiling again.
Tomorrow would be a better day.
*rises like a zombie from the grave* I LIIIIIIVE.
So, what did ya'll think???? I'm gonna be honest here - I kind of forgot what was supposed to get done over the last two chapters in terms of plot points and my outline for this fic is SUPER vague. Thank you, past me. So there's a fair chance I've missed something important, but it has been Monday night for too f!cking long and I wanted to bring my babies into Tuesday. Tuesday's when the real shit goes down, be prepared for some STUFF. I'm pretty sure we're going to see Jotaro and Kakyoin, which... I'd better frickin write them because of what just HAPPENED, but mostly we're going to focus in on the Bucciarati household and the plot going on there. Things are getting spicy, woof. Also sorry I took so long to update! Busy + getting sick has not lent itself to being able to spend much time writing. Also I had a mild bout of writer's block and ended up finishing most of this chapter while blasted on grain alcohol at home. I swear this fic is live and there is an end in sight that I already have planned, and not to spoil anything, but we are definitely going for a happy one. This is my family-friendly account. Good things happen under this pen name XD.
Anyways, as always, I have not edited, which I'm saving for the end. Please enjoy my shitty first draft, and if you have any questions/thoughts/observations/screaming, please leave me a comment! Again, I'm sorry for not consistently responding. At this stage, I usually prefer to only answer direct questions. I do read all the comments though, and I am grateful for all of them. They bring me immense joy in these trying times.
Welp, I think that's everything. The time is... very late in evening, or early morning, depending on how you see it. This is Lileath, blasted on grain alcohol, signing off! See you in the next chapter.