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Turn Over A New Leaf

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Snow danced to the ground outside on the evening of Christmas. The Joestars always held a rather large celebration, inviting friends and family from all over to enjoy the holiday. Erina and George had intricate and elaborate decorations put up, and had traditions every year that they upheld. When he married Elizabeth, George introduced her to the myriad of Joestar Christmas traditions, which they passed along to their only child.

That particular Christmas was set to be a lively one. The Zeppelis, the Quatros, the Browns, and Robert E. O. Speedwagon himself were all invited, along with friends from work. The lack of any extended Joestar or Pendleton family was filled by the friendship of these families.

The first to arrive was Speedwagon. Joseph opened the door to see the tech mogul carrying a huge bag of gifts. “Joey! Merry Christmas!” Speedwagon smiled. He set down the bag and gave Joseph a bear hug.

“Uncle Rob! Merry Christmas!” Joseph replied, squeezing his godfather. “Everyone’s in the kitchen. I’ll take your coat too.” Joseph helped Speedwagon with his things, only to have to greet the next guests: his mother’s coworkers, Mr Messina Quatro and Mr Loggins Quatro, and their daughter, Suzi.

Joseph only knew Suzi from seeing her at functions hosted by his mother’s work, and a little from school. She was in a class with him, and he found her to be awfully cute. However, he could never work up the courage to interact with her for long enough to flirt.

More guests. Work friends of Joseph’s parents. Granny Erina’s friends.

The Zeppelis arrived at the same time as the Browns did. Will escorted his four grandchildren inside. Joseph gave his friend Caesar a hug before turning to Mr and Mrs Brown, and the younger daughter, Ella. She was a few years younger than Smokey, who was seventeen.

“Merry Christmas!” Joseph smiled, hugging his best friend’s parents. He turned to Smokey, grinning. “And to you too, bro.” He blushed as they exchanged a handshake.

“Likewise,” Smokey replied. He looked away nervously.

“Well!” Joseph clapped his hands together. “Dinner is starting soon! Drinks are in the fridge. Any alcoholic drinks are in the basement.”

“Thank you, Jojo,” Mrs Brown replied. The family dispersed. Smokey ended up following Joseph to the basement, where the teenagers were.

“Hey, what’s going on down here?” Joseph asked. He saw Suzi and Caesar chatting away.

“We’re talking,” Caesar replied. He leaned closer to Suzi on the couch.

“Who’s he?” Suzi asked, pointing to Smokey. “I’ve seen you with Jojo at school!”

“My name’s Smokey. Joseph and I have known each other forever. You?” The boy asked, joining Suzi and Caesar.

“Suzi Q!” Suzi replied. She shook his hand. “My dads work with Jojo’s mom.”

“Dads plural?” Smokey asked.

Suzi nodded. “They’re gay. I’m adopted. Papa and Padre teach Hamon with Master Lisa Lisa.”

“I’ve told you about her before, right?” Joseph asked Smokey. “We’ve never really talked much.”

“Papa and Padre don’t really talk about work,” Suzi laughed.

“And Mom outranks them,” Joseph added. He smirked smugly. “But yeah. Suzi, how’ve you been?”

Suzi smiled and took out her phone. She showed the boys a photo of a chunky puppy. “We’re adopting a dog! His name is Toby! He’s still a little young and not fully weaned from his mama. He’s a Pomeranian.”

Smokey took the phone to admire the photo. “Aww, he’s so cute! I wish I had a dog. My little sister has a frog. They’re not as similar as the rhyme implies.”

Giggling, Suzi patted Smokey on the back. “Oh, you’re cute!”

Smokey turned away and covered his face. “Shush…”

Caesar rolled his eyes at the two of them. “So, Suz, you doing anything for New Year’s? I was wondering if you wanted to go down to the pier downtown and watch the fireworks.”

Joseph frowned as Suzi responded with enthusiastic nodding. “That sounds lovely, Caecae!” She wrapped her arms around him and gave him a hug. She stopped, then furrowed her brow as she saw Joseph’s face. “What’s wrong?”

“N-Nothing! Everything’s fine,” Joseph replied. He got up. “Actually, I wanted some apple juice but then I remembered it’s upstairs. Smokes, wanna go get some?”

“Huh? Sure, yeah,” Smokey replied. He got up and followed Joseph upstairs. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing! Nothing’s wrong. What do you mean? Ha ha,” Joseph sighed. He looked away and grabbed two juice packs from the fridge, then tossed one to Smokey.

He took it and poked the straw into the plastic. “You were looking like you were gonna kill Caesar,” Smokey replied. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you had a crush on Suzi.” He took a sip of his juice.

“Shut up!” Joseph grumbled. His blush gave him away. “No I don’t.”

“Sure you don’t,” Smokey grinned.

“Shut up…”

 

Dinner came soon after. The teenagers were forced to the basement to eat. Joseph sat with Smokey as he glared at the sight of Suzi and Caesar chatting so lovingly. Smokey’s little sister sat nearby, keeping to herself.

“This is good,” Smokey said. He speared a ravioli with his fork.

“Made ‘em with Granny Erina and my mom,” Joseph smirked.

“Really?”

“Yup.”

“You’re a good chef. Or were you the assistant?” Smokey replied. A devious smile spread across his face, causing Joseph to turn away.

“I sealed them. I was as much a part of the process as Granny and Mom,” Joseph mumbled. He looked up at Suzi. “Hey, Suzi, what do you think? I was sort of thinking of you when I made it.”

Suzi shrugged and picked apart the ravioli. “It’s alright. I’m not really a fan of ravioli but this is alright.”

“Ah.” Joseph bit his lip. “I thought you were Italian.”

Suzi frowned and furrowed her brow. Caesar spoke up. “Just because she’s Italian doesn’t mean she necessarily likes pasta.”

“But-“ Joseph stopped himself. “Doesn’t matter.”

He watched as Suzi ignored the ravioli in favor of the salad Caesar brought. It was simple lettuce and sliced apples. He probably threw it together at the last minute. No thought put into it. He didn’t even bring a dressing!

“Joseph.”

What a poser. What a jackass. He didn’t even know Suzi beforehand, and now she’s just eating him up!

“Earth to Joseph!”

He looked at Smokey, who was snapping in his face. “What?”

“What are you looking at? Granny Erina said it’s time for presents,” Smokey said.

Joseph’s eyes focused in on the empty seats. Caesar, Suzi, and Smokey’s sister were all gone. He turned to his best friend. “You wanna go up and open presents?”

“Yeah. Do you?” Smokey asked.

Joseph shrugged and scratched his head. “Sure, I guess.” They went upstairs, and Joseph’s head brushed against a bundle of mistletoe over the doorway. “So, uh…”

Smokey laid against the walkway, and his eyes lit up as he saw the mistletoe. “Oh!”

“D’you want to…?”

“It’s the rules of mistletoe,” Smokey shrugged. He leaned up and gave Joseph a quick kiss on the cheek, then went to convene with the other families.

Joseph blushed. He felt as if a thousand rabbits were running in his chest. He joined everyone at the tree.

Present-opening was chaotic as usual. Erina gave the children the usual hand soaps and candy canes, thousands upon thousands of socks were received, couples swapped kisses… the usual. Smokey picked up a gift for himself composed of two boxes poorly wrapped in wrapping paper more suited for a birthday.

“My secret Santa, huh?” Smokey said as he read the tag. He opened it gently to reveal a Nintendo 3DS and a copy of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, with an amiibo card of Isabelle. “Is… is this for me or is it supposed to be for Ella?”

“It’s for you,” Joseph said, clearing his throat. “I know how you wanna go into politics, and in this game you can be the mayor of your own town. It’s super cute! I have the game too! We can play together.

“Give it to your sister,” Mr Brown said. “Those are for kids.”

“But Dad-!”

“Smokey, games like those will turn you into a fag,” Mrs Brown added, looking at Joseph. “Either return it or give it to Ella.”

Joseph seized up. This game was for Smokey. He spent a long time trying to get the money to buy it. It was special. Not to mention Mrs Brown just indirectly called him a fag. Joseph saw the Quatros get noticeably uncomfortable.

“It’s an inappropriate gift, son,” George added.

Smokey sighed. “Is there a gift receipt, Jojo?”

Joseph shook his head. “I thought you’d want to keep this, so I didn’t get one,” he mumbled.

“Oh.” He slid the boxes to his younger sister. “Here.”

His sister cheered and began to open the box, ignoring her brother’s disappointment.

More presents. Caesar opened up a box containing some nice polo shirts from Joseph. Suzi opened her gift from Joseph as well, revealing a set of golden earrings.

“Oh. Thanks,” Suzi mumbled. “It’s… nice.”

“Is there something wrong with it?” Joseph asked. “Because the gift receipt is in the card!”

“No, no… it’s just- It’s beautiful,” Suzi said. “Honest! I just- My ears aren’t pierced.” She forced a smile. “I can exchange it…”

The opening of presents wrapped up soon after, and families began to leave. The Browns were the first to leave. Ella had been glued to the game, while Smokey had spent the rest of the night browsing his phone.

“See you on New Years, right?” Joseph asked as he said goodbye to Smokey.

“Yeah,” Smokey replied. He hugged Joseph. “Bye.”

“Bye…” The door shut, and Joseph went to the living room. Suzi was arm-in-arm with Caesar, giggling and showing him pictures on her phone. It was no use. Joseph went to the kitchen to help clean up.

“I couldn’t help but notice you interacting with Messina and Loggins’ girl,” George said, nudging his son. “You have a thing for her, don’t you?”

Joseph shrugged as he scrubbed down a plate. “She’s cute.”

“Your friend Caesar is stealing her away,” George stated.

“Yeah Dad, I know,” Joseph grumbled. He sighed. “Can I ask you something?”

“You just did,” George smirked.

Joseph rolled his eyes. “Smartass.” He took a deep breath. “So… what do you think of guys who are into other guys? Like Mr and Mr Quatro.”

“I don’t know them as much as your mother does, but they’re fine men,” George said. “I haven’t given them much thought, in all honesty.”

“I mean in general. Gay guys. What do you think of them?”

George raised an eyebrow. “Before we met those two, your mother and I thought that homosexuals were sins against God. I admit, it’s taken a while to overcome those thoughts. Your grandmother… she might still have those thoughts.”

“What would you say-? And this is completely hypothetical,” Joseph said. “What would you say if I came out as liking dudes?”

George snorted. “You gave Suzi an expensive set of earrings as a gift. You’re not a gay, Joseph. I wouldn’t believe you if you said you were.”

Joseph bit his lip. “Okay. What if one of my friends were? Like Caesar or Smokey?”

“Caesar is, in this moment, making out with Suzi,” George pointed out. He motioned to the living room, where Caesar was going to town when kissing Suzi. “He’s not a gay either.”

“Well then, what about Smokey?”

“I don’t know, Jojo. He’s not my son. I’m sure his parents wouldn’t be happy,” George sighed. “Why are you asking me?”

“Because Mr Brown said Smokey would turn gay if he played that video game, and you know I have that game,” Joseph replied.

George nodded slowly. “I see. Well, video games make you as gay or violent as vaccines make you autistic.”

“Vaccines make people autistic?”

“I’m saying that they don’t. You’re not going to suddenly be into other men because you… what do you do in Animal Crossing? Help deer across the highway?”

“You manage a town of anthropomorphic animals,” Joseph explained. He laughed at George’s explanation, however. “Helping deer across the highway… Heheh.”

After another half hour, the guests had left, and the Joestars all turned in for the night. Joseph stayed up a bit late watching movies, and went up to bed around midnight. As he walked past his parents’ bedroom, he heard them talking.

“...that’s what I said. If he’s so interested in Suzi, he can’t be like that,” George whispered.

“But what if he is, and Suzi is just a cover? Loggins told me that he once dated a girl as a cover when he was young,” Elizabeth explained. “I love the Quatros to death and I’m so glad he and Messina are happy together, but I don’t know if I can handle it if Joseph ended up like that.”

“Hopefully it’s just a phase, Lisa,” George promised. “Joseph is just experimenting with himself. He’ll grow out of it. Remember his emo phase in middle school?”

“It’s worse than that! With that phase, he blew a couple hundred bucks on makeup and clothes. But this? He could get diseases!”

“I know, love. I know. But we’ve taught him well. He should know to protect himself.”

“Even then, condoms break,” Elizabeth muttered. “That’s how he came to be. A baby is one thing, but an STD?”

“I’ll talk to him about it tomorrow. Let’s go to sleep, alright?” George promised. Joseph decided to slink away, not wanting to get caught. He entered his bedroom and changed into his pajamas, then checked his phone.

New message from Caesar Zeppeli (bubblebuddy101): did i leavev my scarf at your house?
New message from Caesar Zeppeli (bubblebuddy101): nvm found it
New message from Caesar Zeppeli (bubblebuddy101): anyway murry crambles

Joseph sent a quick response to Caesar.

captainjojo927: merry chrysler 2 u 2 bro
captainjojo927: sorry if the shirts dont fit
bubblebuddy101: dw they do
bubblebuddy101: thx for them. been needing stuff like this for awhile
captainjojo927: niceu niceu

He checked Suzi’s messages despite not having any notifications. The last message had been sent that morning.

captainjojo927: u dont have any allergies do u?
cutieapplepi: Nope! ( ^ω^ ) I’m all good!
captainjojo927: ok dope
captainjojo927: btw murr crimuth suz

No response. He decided to send her another.

captainjojo927: sorry abt the earrings
captainjojo927: hopefully u can exchange them for smthn better
captainjojo927: anyway merry christmas. u coming to new years?

A message popped up on the top of his screen.

New message from Smokey Brown (smokeandfire99): Hey! You up?
captainjojo927: yeah whats up?
smokeandfire99: I had a great time at the party.
smokeandfire99: You seemed down, though.
captainjojo927: the fag comment abt the game kinda got to me
captainjojo927: i thought youd really like the game
smokeandfire99: I’ve been watching gameplay of it. It really looks fun. And Isabelle is a cutie.
captainjojo927: girl needs a vacation tho
captainjojo927: so anyway…
captainjojo927: random hypothetical question: what would you think if i said i had a crush on a dude?
smokeandfire99 is typing…

Joseph turned off his phone and put it on his nightstand. He was too nervous to read Smokey’s response right away. He pulled his blankets over his shoulders and curled up. This Christmas was a disaster.

 

He woke up the next day to multiple messages.

New message from Caesar Zeppeli (bubblebuddy101): wearing one of the new polos. thought youd wanna see (1 attachment)
New message from Suzi Quatro (cutieapplepi): I’m so sorry! I have plans with my stupid birth parents that day. (; ̄ェ ̄)

Joseph typed a response to Suzi really quickly.

captainjojo927: no biggie. hope you have fun!
cutieapplepi: Jojo, that’s literally IMPOSSIBLE with them.
cutieapplepi: They are SO BORING it makes me want to DIE!
cutieapplepi: At least I get Christmas presents, and they’re always generous with them. (´ω`)
captainjojo927: haha niceu niceu!

He then checked the messages with Smokey. He had a bunch of notifications.

11 new messages from Smokey Brown (smokeandfire99):
smokeandfire99: I’d be supportive of you.
smokeandfire99: It’s not my place to judge, first off.
smokeandfire99: In fact, it’s nobody’s place.
smokeandfire99: That’s just who you are.
smokeandfire99: Though I do admit, I’d be surprised, especially due to pining after Suzi.
smokeandfire99: But bisexual people exist.
smokeandfire99: In any case, what I’m trying to say is that I’d still be friends with you. Maybe I’d help you ask out the lucky guy. You’re my bro, and that’s what bros do.
smokeandfire99: Why? Do you have a crush on a guy?
smokeandfire99: Jojo? Did you fall asleep?
smokeandfire99: I’m going to assume that you did. I’m tired as well. Talk to you tomorrow! Or later because it’s past midnight.
smokeandfire99: You know what I mean.

Joseph chuckled at the last line. Smokey was always so funny. And he didn’t look half bad either. And he’s always been there for him.

Joseph swallowed. Oh shit, am I gay for Smokey?!

Chapter Text

The week in between Christmas and New Year’s was boring as usual. Joseph got the New Year’s party supplies in order and spent the rest of the time playing video games. He’d message Smokey every day as usual, but this time tensions seemed high.

After a night of thinking, Joseph decided to message Caesar.

captainjojo927: hey can i ask u smthn?
bubblebuddy101: sure what is it?
captainjojo927: say you have a crush on someone
captainjojo927: howd you go and tell them?
bubblebuddy101: do you have a crush on me, jojo?
captainjojo927: no
captainjojo927: im looking for advice
bubblebuddy101: well
bubblebuddy101: how long have u known ur crush?
captainjojo927: years. but i only just realized im crushing on them
bubblebuddy101: its not suzi is it? bc shes into me. sorry bro
captainjojo927: i mean i WAS into her but theres someone else
bubblebuddy101: hmm. maybe talk to her and ask if shes single
bubblebuddy101: ask her out on a casual not-date
bubblebuddy101: get some froyo. bitches love froyo.
bubblebuddy101: but dont call her a bitch. thats rude, dude. im just goofin.
captainjojo927: new boot goofin.
bubblebuddy101: we need to watch that show together
captainjojo927: mb on new years?
bubblebuddy101: maybe.
captainjojo927: but anyway its not a girl
bubblebuddy101: oh
bubblebuddy101: OOOH.
bubblebuddy101: do you have a crush on smokey?
captainjojo927:
captainjojo927: ………
captainjojo927: …………………
bubblebuddy101: im gonna assume yes
captainjojo927: yeah i think i do
captainjojo927: do u hate me for it?
bubblebuddy101: im literally transgender
captainjojo927: honestly i forget. is that transphobic of me to forget that ur trans?
bubblebuddy101: not to me bc it just means i pass really good

 

Joseph sighed and laid his phone on his chest. Taking Smokey out to get frozen yogurt would be fun. He picked it back up and messaged his friend.

 

captainjojo927: yo dude wanna get froyo?
smokeandfire99: Today?
captainjojo927: yeah! i can pick you up
smokeandfire99: I gotta see if I have the money.
captainjojo927: nah fam i gotchu
smokeandfire99: Please don’t use that word.
captainjojo927: why???
smokeandfire99: Cringe.
captainjojo927: valid. anyway be there in a bit

 

He quickly made his way to Smokey’s house, picking him up in his beaten-down car. “Hey.”

“Hey,” Smokey replied, getting in the passenger seat. “Ella is really enjoying the game.”

“That’s good,” Joseph said. He got out of the driveway and began his drive to the frozen yogurt place. “At least someone is getting some enjoyment out of it.”

“Mmm.” Smokey took a second to pause. “Why’d you ask me out?”

“A-Ask you out?! We’re just hanging out! It’s not a date or anything…” Joseph laughed.

“That’s what I said. You asked to hang out.”

Joseph’s cheeks were bright red. “I know. Yeah I know. Well, because you’re my friend and I wanted to get yogurt and it’s nice to invite a friend along to do a thing.”

“Thank you for thinking of me,” Smokey smiled. Joseph looked at him out of the corner of his eyes, and nearly got lost. Something was different about the warm, onyx gaze of his best friend… What changed, though?

Joseph parked his car and the two of them got out. Joseph got himself a stack of three different flavors, topped with M&M’s, Oreos, sprinkles, and hot fudge, topped with three cherries. Smokey stuck to French Vanilla with some strawberries and a bit of caramel. He didn’t want to charge Joseph that much.

As they ate, Joseph kept looking up at how Smokey sat. He was so dignified in his stature, so careful when picking what bits of the yogurt to eat. He would scoop from around the edge of the cup, making his way to the middle by scraping off the yogurt with the side of his spoon. He would make it even on all sides. Smokey looked up at Joseph.

“Something wrong, Jojo?”

Joseph snapped out of his thoughts. “No, nothing! I was just lookin’ at how you’re- Lemme show you.” He mimicked the scraping with his own yogurt. “You have a pattern.”

“Yeah, it’s just a tendency of mine. You have a similar thing,” Smokey replied. He pointed at Joseph’s yogurt with his spoon. “You tend to mix together your toppings in a specific spot before eating it, but you don’t mix the entire cup. Just one small area.”

“I guess I do,” Joseph replied, realizing that Smokey was right. He set his head on his hand. It was so sweet how attentive he was. “So, uh…”

“Played any good video games lately?” Smokey asked. “I’ve been watching gameplay of Happy Homes Designer.”

“Ooh that game is so fun! That’s a game where you gotta play it, not watch videos,” Joseph said. He found himself spilling facts about the game and how he designed each villager’s home to be unique. He had a story going with what their homes would be themed after, what their professions were, who’s married to who…

Smokey looked at Joseph with awe, and found himself propping his cheek up with his hand. He’s so passionate! I hope Ella lets me play the game at least once. I wanna see what makes Joseph so happy. The way Joseph’s blue-green eyes had a sparkle to them as he spoke was like the sun glinting off of two gems. And his smile…! Joseph was teased a lot for having supposedly weird lips, but they were cute. They were a bit plump, usually with one or two healing wounds, and the way they moved so expressively as Joseph spoke had an almost cartoonish feel to them. Any girl who kissed Joseph would be in for a nice time.

Or guy.

He thought back to the messages Joseph sent him about liking guys. Could someone as traditionally masculine as Joseph really be into other men?

“Hey, Joey?”

“Joey?” Joseph asked. “Only my uncle calls me that.”

“Sorry, Jojo-”

“You can still call me Joey.”

Smokey felt his cheeks get hot. “So, Joseph… are you still trying to pursue Suzi?”

Joseph shrugged. “Caesar might be more her type. Plus, the dude getting a girl so flawlessly has really helped his mood.”

Smokey nodded. “Does Suzi know about his condition?”

“I don’t know. She’d probably be okay with it,” Joseph reasoned.

“I have a weird question. Regarding Caesar. Did you ever have any… y’know, feelings towards him? He’s your type. Blonde and Italian,” Smokey replied.

He shook his head. “I’m not into guys. And even before he came out, I knew there was something a bit different about him. Also I don’t have a type. I like Suzi for more than her hair and her nationality,” Joseph said. He felt his heart sink. He wasn’t sure if he was into dudes or not. And if he was, Smokey was pretty cute.

Joseph started taking bigger spoonfuls of his yogurt. He wanted to go home and sleep until the next day. Not only due to his excitement over New Years, but also because he was nervous that he’d screw something up with his best friend.

Smokey’s phone buzzed, and he took a look at the text he just received. “Mom wants me home soon.”

Joseph felt a weight lift from his chest. “You wanna get going? You can eat in my car if you want. I’m gonna get it cleaned soon anyway.”

“Yeah, okay. S-Sorry, man.”

“It’s alright! Family first and all that junk, you know?” Joseph laughed. They left the frozen yogurt place and got into Joseph’s car. He drove Smokey home silently, unsure of what to say. Should I try to kiss him? Is that too inappropriate? No, I should confess my feelings first! This was a date, right? Before he knew it, he was pulling into the driveway of the Brown household and saying goodbye to his best friend.

Joseph laid his forehead on the steering wheel. He’d confess another day.

 

New Year’s Eve came, and before he knew it, Joseph was welcoming two of his closest friends into his house. “Mom says we have to stay in the basement. I have an air mattress blown up with some blankets if anyone wants to take a nap,” Joseph explained. He lead Caesar and Smokey downstairs.

“So what are we gonna do?” Caesar asked.

Joseph shrugged. “Smash?”

“That’s gay, Jojo,” Caesar smirked.

Joseph started setting up his Switch. “Yeah.”

The three boys got their controllers and started playing Super Smash Bros. Joseph went with Little Mac, Caesar chose the Wii Fit Trainer, and Smokey played as the Villager. It was the closest he had gotten to playing Animal Crossing.

They fought into the night and were pretty evenly matched. Each of the boys were well trained in their fighters, though Caesar always managed to pull ahead of the others. Midnight neared, and they turned on the countdown.

While the TV was on, Joseph and Smokey sat on the loveseat together while Caesar took the one-seater. The clock ticked down, and the three of them were bathed in the blue light of the television.

“It’s starting!” Joseph yelled, bouncing in his seat. The boys chanted along with the numbers.

5

4

3

2

1

“Happy New Year!” They cheered. Joseph remembered a tradition from every previous New Year: the kiss. He turned to Smokey and pressed his lips to his best friend’s, holding it for the first five seconds of the new year. Joseph felt a rush of blood throughout his whole body. He grew lightheaded during the kiss.

He pulled back, staring into Smokey’s shocked, dark eyes. His own eyes were hazy with passion.

“What the hell?” Smokey whispered. He frowned as he looked up at Joseph.

“I…” Joseph stammered. He got out of his seat and rushed to the bathroom, slamming the door behind him. His heart throbbed in his chest.

Did- Did I just do that…? Oh fuck.

He heard some hushed voices from the other room.

“What happened?” Caesar asked.

“Joseph kissed me,” Smokey replied.

“Oh.”

“What do you mean, oh?” Smokey’s tone was harsh, almost offended.

“Well, he kissed you. So what?”

“We’re both… we’re both dudes , Caesar.”

“He was just caught up in the moment.”

“I… I don’t want to be touched like that. I didn’t appreciate the kiss.”

Joseph slunk down to the floor and buried his face in his hands. He definitely ruined their friendship. He blew it. He absolutely demolished it.

He stayed in the dark bathroom for what felt like days. His heart hitched in his chest and he began to hiccup as he held back his tears.

He fucked up. He fucked up so hard.

But I was just caught in the moment…!

But Smokey didn’t want to be kissed.

But it’s a tradition…!

But Smokey didn’t participate in the tradition.

But it was an accident…!

But Smokey was still hurt by the accident.

Joseph leaned against the door and shut his eyes. As he tucked his knees to his chest, he felt infinitely small and worthless. He was a major screw-up. He ruined a fulfilling and loving friendship. He made his best friend uncomfortable.

He heard footsteps go upstairs, then the faintest of talking. The deep bass of one voice tipped off Joseph that it was his father talking to another. A few minutes later, the alarm that beeped whenever a door leading outside was opened went off.

After a few minutes, a knock sounded at the door to the bathroom. “Jojo?” Caesar asked.

“Hm?”

“Jojo, can you come out?”

“I’ll just be called a fag if I do,” Joseph muttered.

“I mean come out of the bathroom,” Caesar laughed. “I know you’re not taking a piss or anything. I want to talk.”

Joseph sighed and got up, opening the door. “What?”

Caesar motioned for Joseph to follow. “Sit down. I want to talk, and get changed into my pajamas.” He slipped off his shirt and his breast binder before putting on his night shirt. “Smokey asked your dad to drive him home.”

“I figured,” Joseph sighed.

“I think Smokey feels bad about making you upset,” Caesar said. “I’m not too sure, but it looked like it.” He slipped on a pair of flannel pajama pants.

“I was such a fool,” Joseph mumbled. “I don’t even know if I like him! In the crush way.”

Caesar nodded slowly. “It doesn’t get easier. I’ve been out for, like, forever and I’m still doubting whether or not I’m a dude. I’m not sure how close that is to doubting sexuality, but I bet it comes close, yeah?”

“But you’ve known for forever! And I just- He kissed me on the cheek under the mistletoe, and I guess-” Joseph stooped. He remembered how jealous he was over Suzi being so interested in Caesar. “Maybe I’m lonely.”

“Yeah?”

“You just swooped in and got Suzi like a vulture, and maybe Smokey is a weird rebound,” Joseph said. He saw his phone buzz, then grabbed it to see the messages. His heart felt like it would explode out of his chest. Please be Smokey, please...

New message from Suzi Quatro (cutieapplepi): Happy New Year! ☆〜(ゝ。∂)

Joseph slammed his phone down. Damn it… Though it was nice that Suzi texted first. And her silly emoticons were always a delight to see.

“Maybe you should text him,” Caesar said. “Write an apology. But do it in your notes first and I’ll proofread.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” Joseph said. He didn’t know what else to do, and Caesar was the smarter of the two of them, so his advice was always worth something. He opened his notes application and began to type.

hey i wanna say sorry for the kiss. it was dumb. i just got cot up in the moment yknow. i usually give my granny a kiss on the cheek on new years and i guess i got confused. it didnt mean anything. sorry to make u uncomfy.

Joseph handed the phone to Caesar, who began to read. “You wrote cot as in the bed, not caught like caught a fish,” Caesar said. He corrected Joseph’s spelling. “Why lie, though?”

“These are my sincere thoughts,” Joseph said.

“It didn’t mean anything,” Caesar read. “It meant something, didn’t it? You told me the other day that you might have a crush on him. Those feelings were genuine.”

“I don’t want to send him any message,” Joseph decided. He held out his hand for Caesar to give him back his phone. He then looked at Caesar up and down. “I want to try something.”

“What?”

Joseph closed his eyes and locked lips with Caesar. He deepened the kiss, slipping his tongue between Caesar’s lips experimentally. No rush of blood. No spark. Nothing. He pulled away.

“Nothing,” he said softly.

Caesar blushed. “Dude, warn me next time.”

“I didn’t feel anything towards you,” Joseph said. “S-so it’s not an adrenaline rush…” He took out his phone and opened up his chat with Smokey.

captainjojo927: I think I’m in love with you.

He shut his phone. He could deal with the repercussions later.

Chapter Text

Joseph didn’t look at his phone until after Caesar left his house, twelve hours later. He wasn’t questioned by his father as to why Smokey wanted to go home early, thank god, but he almost wished that he was asked. It would delay him checking his phone.

New message from Caesar Zeppeli (bubblebuddy101): did you get a response?

New message from Smokey Bro...

The text was cut off on the screen thanks to Caesar’s message notification being above it. Joseph read Caesar’s message so the notification would go away, then opened Smokey’s chat. He braced himself.

captainjojo927: I think I’m in love with you.
smokeandfire99: please dont

No proper capitalization or punctuation. This wasn’t the usual Smokey. Though, Joseph’s previous message was unlike his usual typing style. He typed a response.

captainjojo927: do u want me to leave u alone?

And almost instantly, Smokey replied.

smokeandfire99: plwase

A misspelled word. Joseph’s heart skipped a beat.

captainjojo927: is this rly u?
smokeandfire99: yes
captainjojo927: who were u in smash last night?
smokeandfire99: villager. 7th skin
captainjojo927: okay.
smokeandfire99: dont talk tovme

Another error.

Joseph knew he fucked up.

 

Winter break came to a close, and Joseph returned to school. His first class was gym, so that meant he wouldn’t encounter Smokey until second period. Gym was invigorating as usual, and Joseph talked with Caesar during the class while playing one-on-one basketball.

“If he looks uncomfortable, back off,” Caesar said as he passed the ball to Joseph. “Don’t come on so strong.”

“Right,” Joseph replied, taking the shot. It bounced off of the rim.

“Let’s practice your apology now,” Caesar said.

Joseph cleared his throat. “Okay. I apologize for the unwanted kiss. It crossed the line. It won’t happen again.” He tried slapping the ball out of Caesar’s hands.

“And if he doesn’t accept your apology?”

“Cry and run out of the room?” Joseph smirked.

Caesar shook his head. “Say that you’re not looking for forgiveness and that you simply wish to let him know that you’re sorry.”

“Right.”

Gym wrapped up and the two friends said goodbye to one another. Joseph made his way to English, sitting at his usual spot next to Smokey. “Hey.”

Smokey was buried in a book. “Mm.”

“Hey, can I tell you something?” Joseph asked. Smokey looked up over his book. “I’m sorry for, y’know, kissing y-”

“Not now,” Smokey interrupted him. “Meet me in one of the music practice rooms after school. Room 3.”

“Oh. Alright,” Joseph replied.

And so he waited. It was a day of suffering, but as soon as the final bell rung, Joseph ran down to the music wing and looked for the practice rooms. He found the third one and knocked on the door. Smokey opened the door, holding his flute.

“C’mere,” Smokey said, pulling him inside. He put away his instrument. “I thought I’d have some practice time.”

“You’re so smart, knowing how to play an instrument,” Joseph said. “So why couldn’t we talk earlier?”

“My parents would kill me if they figured out I kissed another guy,” Smokey said. “They saw the message you sent me about you being in love with me and they got pissed.”

“I-I’m sorry…”

Smokey clenched his fists, looking down at the floor. “I… I’ve been thinking. I want to try something.” He looked up at Joseph and closed his eyes. They locked lips, and Joseph felt his head get hazy. Joseph reached his arms around Smokey, putting one hand on the back of his head and the other on his back. “I think I’m in love with you too,” Smokey admitted after breaking the kiss.

“But what about your parents?” Joseph breathed. “What about my parents?”

“Do they have to know?” Smokey asked. He leaned up, peppering kisses all over Joseph’s neck.

“No. No way.” He held Smokey in his arms and took a deep, fluttering breath. “You’re so cute.”

“So are you,” Smokey replied. “I know I’m in love with you.”

“Me too.”

They stayed in the practice room for awhile in silence, simply holding each other and occasionally kissing, then decided it was time to leave. They both had quite a bit of homework that night.

As they left the practice room, Joseph held Smokey’s hand. It felt so nice to be holding it, and Joseph’s flustered mood distracted him, and he ended up bumping into another student while making his way to the parking lot.

“Ey, watch it!” The student had a slight accent that immediately tipped off Joseph and Smokey as to who it was. He turned on his heel to face the two, and immediately noticed them holding hands. “As if my opinion of you vasn’t already low enough.”

Joseph’s eyes darted to where Stroheim was looking at, then realized what he meant. “This is none of your business, Stroheim!”

“I always knew you had zum zecret about you. I never vould have guessed you vere a fairy,” he laughed. Rudol Von Stroheim was from one of the other middle schools, and met Joseph and Smokey on the first day of high school. Though he was American-born just like Joseph and all his friends, his parents spoke German in the household and thus the teen developed a German accent.

“Shut the hell up,” Joseph growled. He squeezed Smokey’s hand.

Stroheim put his hand to his chin while displaying a smug smile. “And out of all ze people you could date, it had to be someone of inferior blood.” Both Smokey and the classmate that was previously talking to Stroheim were noticeably uncomfortable.

Joseph let go of Smokey’s hand and put down his backpack. “Say that again.” He clenched his fist.

“Let’s just go, Joey. It’s not worth it,” Smokey said.

“Joey?” Stroheim laughed. “Not only are you a fruity little faggot, but you give your little boyfriend a prissy nickname! Ha!”

“A-At least Smokey and I are good enough people to find love! No person, woman or man, could ever love you!” Joseph retorted. His cheeks were bright red. His loving Uncle Speedwagon gave him the nickname, and he felt so happy when Smokey started using it.

“Well, I am not ze one dating a-”

Stroheim referred to Smokey with a word that made Joseph’s blood boil. Joseph flew into a rage, socking the other student in the face. As his knuckles impacted Stroheim’s nose, blood gushed out of the nostrils.

“Fuck, fuck!” Stroheim cursed, holding his face. “You bastard!” He swung back at Joseph, hitting the teen in the jaw. Thus started a fistfight in the halls. Other students gathered around as Joseph held up Stroheim by the collar, headbutting him, and Stroheim retaliated by kicking him in the chest.

More punches. Joseph felt something in his mouth break. He swung back, hitting Stroheim in the chest. Stroheim responded with a swift kick to Joseph’s manhood, causing him to collapse.

“Mother fucker!” Joseph cursed as he held his family jewels. He opened an eye just as Stroheim was raising a final fist.

Smokey rushed over, throwing himself in between Joseph and Stroheim, and was struck in the jaw. He clutched the affected area, wincing in pain. “You’re a coward, Rudol. He’s down!” Smokey yelled. “Back off!”

Stroheim grabbed Smokey by the collar and lifted him up. “How cute, vanting to intimidate me.”

The fight was interrupted by a teacher rushing into the mix. Mr Kars, the biology teacher, shooed away the crowd. “What is the meaning of this?!”

Stroheim dropped Smokey and turned around. “Joestar started a fight vith me. He drew ze first punches. I vas defending myself.”

Joseph struggled to his feet. “He was harassing me an’ Smokey! He was calling us fags!”

“That’s no reason to start fighting, Joestar,” Mr Kars said.

“He was also a goddamn racist! I refuse to repeat the word he used,” Joseph said.

“It seems to me you’re lying to cover up fighting another student,” Kars deduced. “Not even clever enough to come up with what he said… I’ll let you two off with a warning due to it being after hours. Don’t let me find you two fighting again.”

The crowd dispersed, and Stroheim left the two of them. Joseph held his hand out to Smokey and pulled him to his feet. “Let’s go before anything else happens. I’ll drive you home.”

“Yeah.” The boys got their things and made their way to Joseph’s car. “Thanks.”

Joseph looked up at Smokey. “For the ride?”

“For defending me. You didn’t have to do that.”

“Of course I did,” Joseph said, backing out of the parking spot. “It’s disgusting that people even hold those views. And if he’s going to insult either of us, at least come up with a clever insult, right?”

Smokey grinned. “Yeah. You’re no fairy. More like an orc with how buff you are.”

Joseph laughed and blushed hard. “Thanks.” They chatted aimlessly for the duration of the car ride before Joseph pulled into the driveway of the Brown household. “Before you go…” He leaned forward and gave Smokey a quick kiss on the lips.

“Thanks,” Smokey said. “A-Are we… are we a thing now?”

Joseph shrugged. “I’d like that, but maybe we should take it slow.”

“Definitely. See you at school tomorrow, okay?” Smokey grabbed his things and waved goodbye.

Joseph drove home and tried to sneak inside the house, but he was caught by his father. George rushed over as soon as he saw his bloodied, bruised son.

“Oh dear lord, what happened to you?” George cupped his son’s cheek with his hand and tilted his head.

“It’s nothing,” Joseph lied.

“You’re covered in blood! Did you get in a fight?!”

Joseph nodded and looked away. “Some bastard called Smokey “inferior blood”, so I had to do something. I defended my friend and I have no regrets.”

George smiled and ruffled Joseph’s hair. “That’s my boy!” He sighed. “I shouldn’t encourage your fighting, but you’re so much like your mother. I’m so glad you take after her.” He gave Joseph a kiss on the cheek, which the son rejected.

“Daaad, go away.” He moved his head away from his father. “I’m covered in blood, just like you said!”

“Go shower up and make sure to put disinfectant and bandages on any open wounds. Also give me your car keys. You’re grounded for a week,” George said.

“What?!”

“You got in a fight! No matter the cause, you still beat up a kid,” George said. “I can’t encourage that behavior. I’ll drive you to and from school for the rest of the week.” Though not physically intimidating, George’s kind eyes and loving heart made his son give in.

Joseph dug his car keys out of his pocket and gave it to his father. “Fine…” He went up to his bedroom, where he then took a shower.

The warm water helped with soothing his bruises. As he stood in the shower, he reflected upon the kiss, and how Smokey said he was in love with him. Well, thought he was in love. It still was a comforting thought that someone was possibly in love with Joseph. He had many crushes on girls before, but nobody liked him back. And now, he had a crush, and the crush kissed him back!

He was confused, however. If he was in love with so many girls before, then how could he love Smokey? He’s not gay!

Smokey had mentioned bisexual people in one of the texts. Maybe that was what he was.

Joseph cleaned himself off and put bandages on his wounds, then changed into some kick-around clothes. He went to his bedroom and flopped on the bed, picking up his phone. No new messages. He opened up his search engine and decided to search the very definition of bisexual.

Sexually attracted not exclusively to people of one particular gender; attracted to both men and women.

Attracted to both men and women. Yeah, that was him. He had multiple crushes on different girls in the past, and Smokey made him feel like he had butterflies in his stomach.

A question puzzled him. Whenever he’d hear about the gay community, bisexual people were… more of an afterthought.

And come to think of it, he never heard much about trans men, only trans women.

That gave him an idea. He sent Caesar a message.

 

captainjojo927: shizaaaa
bubblebuddy101: yeah?
captainjojo927: are bi’s part of the gay community?
bubblebuddy101: it’s the LGBT+ community and yeah. b is for bi. why ya asking?
captainjojo927: bc im p sure im bi but i never hear about bi people. and also outside of you, i never hear of trans dudes
bubblebuddy101: oh god yeah. i don’t really have an answer as to why this is the case, but i notice it myself too
captainjojo927: can i ask what your sexuality is? and is it rude that the whole trans thing throws me off abt it?
bubblebuddy101: a lesser person would be offended by that but tbh it’s understandable
bubblebuddy101: i’m straight bc i’m only into girls
bubblebuddy101: having a vagina doesn’t mean i’m not straight. i’m a straight trans man
captainjojo927: if u werent dicsopric or w/e youd be a lesbian, right?
bubblebuddy101: the term is dysphoric and yeah bc i’d be a girl attracted only to other girls
bubblebuddy101: but i’m a dude who just so happens to have a cooch and is attracted only to girls so i’m straight
bubblebuddy101: anyway how’d it go with smokey?
captainjojo927: he said he thinks hes in love with me too!!! we kissed again!! also some dick saw us holding hands and i beat him up. it was that dude from history, stroheim.

 

Joseph told Caesar the events of the hours prior, leading to a response of congratulations for the kiss, and a bit of an explanation.

bubblebuddy101: i know rudol’s friend mark
bubblebuddy101: we were in middle school together
bubblebuddy101: he’s actually really nice from when we were friends. i guess he just got in with a bad crowd
bubblebuddy101: mark is p respectful. he acknowledges me as a dude and stuff. want me to reach out to him for you?
captainjojo927: if you want? dunno what youd say to him
bubblebuddy101: tbh not sure either
bubblebuddy101: anyway i gotta go. ttyl
captainjojo927: later hater

 

Joseph got up and went downstairs. His mother wasn’t home yet from work, and Granny Erina was visiting with Uncle Rob for the day and wouldn’t be home until later. His father was in the study, pouring over a book.

He knew he couldn’t keep this to himself. He knew who he was, and he had to tell someone…! As his heart pounded, he entered the threshold of the study. “Dad, can we talk?”

George looked up at his son and set the book down. “Sure. What do you need?”

Joseph sat down on the other chair in the study and took a deep breath. “Dad… I- I think I really like boys. I mean- I know I do.”

“I see,” George responded. “Your mother and I have been suspecting this since you asked us those questions on Christmas. Not your most clever move.”

Joseph clutched the armrests of the chair, averting his father’s eyes. “So… so, yeah, I’m into dudes. I kissed one. I kissed Smokey on New Year’s, and then we made out earlier. I told him that I love him and he said he loves me and I just-” Joseph sighed and wrapped his arms around his midsection, feeling so vulnerable talking to his father. “I don’t want you to think less of me now.”

“Why would I?” George asked. “You’re still my son.”

“I’m just afraid,” Joseph admitted. “Especially with how Mom will react. I’m afraid to tell her, and- and I don’t trust her.” His head turned as he heard the sound of heels on hardwood floor. Nobody was there.

“That’s okay,” George promised. He got up and put his hand on his son’s shoulder. “Whatever happens, know that your mother and I love you more than anything else in this world.”

Chapter Text

“What were you talking to Joseph about earlier?” Elizabeth asked as she laid in bed next to her husband. “I only heard him say that he doesn’t trust me.”

“He told me that he’s in love with another boy,” George replied. He didn’t take any second to process what should or should not be said. He was never that type of man. He was always honest and up front, especially to his wife. “And he’s afraid of telling you.” He looked over at his wife, only seeing the silhouette of her face against the moonlight pouring in from outside. She faced the ceiling. “Liz?”

“Did you think he’d end up this way?” Elizabeth asked. “Being into other men.”

George shrugged. “He dresses a bit feminine. I thought at first he would be like his friend Caesar but in reverse, that he was actually a girl at heart. I guess I did think at some points that Joseph would be into other men, but it never really stuck with me,” he explained. He turned to wrap an arm around his wife.

Elizabeth didn’t respond to the touch. “George… is he even our son anymore?”

“Huh?”

“I feel like I don’t even know him,” she said. Her voice hitched in her throat. “This is making me sick.”

George hugged his wife close to his chest. “He’s still our baby boy.”

“I’m going to vomit,” Elizabeth said, pushing her husband’s hand away. She got out of bed and ran to the bathroom.

George laid in bed, looking up at the ceiling as he heard the sound of running water and soft sobbing. Was… Was Joseph still the same? He got out of bed as well, then walked out of the bedroom and to his son’s bedroom. Joseph was awake, looking at his phone.

Joseph rolled around to face the guest. “Dad?”

Sitting next to his son on the bed, George put his hand on Joseph’s head, ruffling his hair. “I just wanted to say goodnight.”

“Oh. Um, okay,” Joseph replied. He sat up and gave his father a quick hug. “Goodnight.”

“Love you, kiddo,” George said. He left the room, leaving Joseph to his phone.

Joseph was in the middle of texting Smokey.

captainjojo927: so uh… now do we start going on dates or w/e?
smokeandfire99: Like what?
captainjojo927: dunno. arent dates just the advanced version of hanging out?
smokeandfire99: Hanging Out 2: This Time With Kissing
captainjojo927: pfft
smokeandfire99: Maybe we can see a movie.
captainjojo927: no dude right now its Fuck You It’s January
smokeandfire99: The most magical time of the year.
captainjojo927: we can always stream smthn or rent a dvd
captainjojo927: p dumb that we still have to resort to renting movies bc the streaming sites dont have certain movies
smokeandfire99: Just pirate them.
captainjojo927: mr goody two-shoes over here telling me to pieate a movie. ooh look at me, im smokey. renting movies? no thank you, ma’am. i got me a. Stream.
captainjojo927: please teach me how to pirate movies
smokeandfire99: Only because I love you. <3
captainjojo927: aaaaaaaaaaa dude you have no idea how happy i get when u say that
smokeandfire99: That I’ll teach you to stream movies?
captainjojo927: that ya love me!!!!!! dork.

Joseph laid his phone on his chest and sighed happily. He couldn’t wait to get to school the next day and simply be near Smokey. Though he was still the same friend, just the knowledge that the two were in love made Joseph feel safe, in a sense. Someone had his back, and he had theirs, and they could kiss and express affection. It was hard for Joseph to put into thoughts exactly why being in a relationship was so fulfilling, but that didn’t matter. He was happy. He was relieved. And furthermore, relieved that his father, the pinnacle of traditional manliness (at least in Joseph’s eyes), was so supportive of him. Joseph fell asleep not long after, still thinking about Smokey.


The next morning, Joseph came downstairs to see his family at the kitchen table. Granny Erina was sipping her morning tea, George was reading something on his phone, and Elizabeth ate her breakfast in silence. Joseph had not seen his mother at all the afternoon prior, and was relieved to see that she was home.

“Morning,” Joseph said, sliding into his seat. A meal consisting of pancakes, sausage links, bacon, and eggs sat at his spot, and he immediately dug into it. “What time didya get home last night, Mom? You weren’t at dinner.”

Elizabeth shrugged as she brought her plates to the sink. She grabbed her duffel bag of supplies and left the house without a word.

“She’s tired,” George explained. “So, what plans do you have for today, kiddo?”

“I have school, Dad. And I don’t know how I’m going to get to it if I don’t have my keys,” Joseph explained, cracking a devious smirk.

“I’ll drive you,” George said.

Joseph sighed and speared a sausage with his fork. “Fine.”

“This is what you get for getting into fights,” George said.

“I was defending my friend!”

“Who through the first punch?”

“...I did, sir,” Joseph muttered.

“Defenders don’t throw the first punch, Jojo,” George reminded him. He got out of his seat. “Now get ready. I need to get to work as well, and I’m driving your grandmother to… Where were you going again, Ma?”

Granny Erina set down her teacup. “Robert wanted to meet me at the mall and then we’d go back to his house for an early supper,” she reminded her son. “Since your job is on the way and I’m going to Robert’s afterwards, it will save money.”

George nodded and Joseph finished off his food, then rushed upstairs to get his supplies. When he came back down, his father and grandmother were already in the car, with Erina already having taken the passenger seat. Joseph climbed in the back seat and they set off.

The school day dragged on painfully, save for the few classes Joseph had with Smokey. They’d steal glances at each other and smile. The way Smokey would bury his face in his hand while giggling made Joseph’s heart flutter.

Finally, they met up again in the music practice room after school. “Don’t other students need these?” Joseph asked as he shut the door behind him.

“Nobody uses them. It’s just me and this one girl from orchestra. Everyone else just practices at home,” Smokey explained. He sat on the piano bench, and Joseph joined him.

“Can I kiss you again? I really liked it when we kissed yesterday,” Joseph admitted. His face was flushed red.

Smokey nodded and put his hands on Joseph’s cheeks, pulling him into a kiss. It was quite a sloppy embrace, but neither of them minded. They’d explore the dynamics of kissing together.

“Can I kiss your neck?” Joseph asked, breaking the makeout session. “I see it in movies.”

“Sure.” Smokey tilted his head so Joseph could pepper his cheek and neck with kisses. He shuddered, leaning his head on Joseph’s, slowly climbing into the larger boy’s lap. He wrapped his arm around Joseph and pulled him close.

“I told my dad about us,” Joseph admitted as he kissed Smokey. “He took it well.”

“That’s great!” Smokey pulled away to look up at his boyfriend. “What about your mom?”

“I’m afraid of telling her,” Joseph said. “Maybe I’ll just not tell her at all.”

“That’s okay,” Smokey replied. He gave Joseph another kiss, then pressed their foreheads together. “Do you think this will work? You and me.”

“I hope so,” Joseph said. He returned the kiss, then leaned onto Smokey to press him onto his back and on the bench...


They left the music room not long later. Their clothes and hair were messy, and Joseph’s face was bright red due to blushing. He made sure to double-wrap his scarf around his neck to hide the hickeys that Smokey gave him.

“I don’t want to go home,” Smokey said as he approached the buses.

“Neither do I,” Joseph replied. “Sorry about my car.”

“It’s okay. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” Smokey gave Joseph a kiss on the cheek.

“Yeah.” Joseph returned the kiss, then the two parted ways. Joseph walked home, coming back rather late. The sun was dipping below the horizon as he approached the house, noticing the door was wide open and with a suitcase in the door. He heard the distinct sound of his mother yelling as he pressed his back against the side of the house. He wasn’t able to see anything, but he could hear them clearly.

“I can’t do this anymore, George!” Elizabeth yelled.

“Honey, please! We can make this work!” George begged.

“How are we supposed to make this work when the two of you don’t tell me anything?! I feel like I’m not part of this family anymore!”

“You threw up after I told you that he had a crush! How was I supposed to continue the conversation if you were getting so nauseous over not being able to accept your own son for who he is?!”

Joseph’s heart hitched in his chest. She vomited because I like boys…

“I have the flu, George! And you can’t just drop a bombshell like that on someone and not expect them to be shocked!”

“You said you didn’t think you could accept him!”

“Wha-?! I never said that! It’s like you want me to leave!”

“Then go! Get the hell out of my house!”

“Fine! Fuck you, George!” Joseph heard the faint sound of a bit of metal - a coin? - clatter to the floor before his mother stormed out of the house. She didn’t see him, thankfully.

Joseph waited a few minutes before he decided to enter the house. He forced a smile as he entered the kitchen to see his father sobbing at the table, with a ring in front of him. “Dad?” His smile dropped, and he set his backpack down as he approached his father.

“Go to your room, Joseph,” George said.

“Are you okay?”

“Go. To your room. Now.”

“Dad, you’re crying.”

“I know,” George croaked. He wiped his face with his sleeve. “Your mother… she and I had a fight. She’s going to her father’s house for awhile. I don’t know when she’ll be back.”

“Did you fight because of me?”

“Yes.” George looked up at his son and took his hands. “I want you to know that I love you more than anything else in this world. No matter who you love, I’ll be here for you.”

Joseph nodded. “Thanks,” he mumbled. He looked at the ring on the table. “S-So, are you and Mom…?”

“I don’t know what’s going to happen between us. I still love her, Jojo. But I don’t want to lose you,” George said. “Do you really love Smokey?”

“Yeah. We kissed again,” Joseph admitted. He omitted the details on how intimate the kissing became. “But I can break up with him if you want. I don’t want Mom to go away forever.”

George took a second to think. “...Your happiness is more important than mine. You’re young. You’ve barely started dating. But your mother and I have had our run. If she needs to leave the picture so you can be happy, then so be it.”

“But I won’t be happy, Dad. If Mom leaves us, then I won’t be happy.”

“...I don’t know what to do, Jojo.” He squeezed his son’s hand. Joseph always appreciated how his father showed his affection via touch. As a child, Joseph always wanted to be held or hugged, and George would do just that.

“I’ll talk to Mom,” Joseph said. “Gimme my car keys and I’ll go over to Grandpa Straitzo’s.”

George chuckled and dipped his head. “You’re just doing this so you can get driving privileges back.”

“Not entirely,” Joseph laughed. “Mostly to save our family.”

Chapter Text

Before driving to his grandfather’s house, Joseph decided to call Smokey.

“Yeah?” Smokey asked as he picked up the phone.

“Hey,” Joseph replied. He took a deep breath as he sat in the driver’s seat in his car, not quite ready to drive yet. “So… My mom is angry at me.”

“About us, right?”

“Yeah.”

“...Do you think we should break up? Or put our relationship on hold?” Smokey’s voice broke as he talked.

“No.” Joseph squeezed the steering wheel of his car. “I just… I dunno. I wanted to hear your voice.”

Smokey chuckled softly. “You’re a huge dork.”

“I know,” Joseph smiled. He leaned against the window of the car. “I don’t really have anything to talk about. I’m just stalling, I guess.”

“Stalling?”

“I’m going over to my grandfather’s house to talk to my mom,” Joseph said. “But I’m afraid. I don’t know what I’m afraid of, though.”

“Rejection, probably,” Smokey suggested.

“Probably.” He sighed. “I think I should go.”

“Call me after, okay?”

“Of course. I love you.” Joseph hung up and made the drive to his grandfather’s house.

Straitzo lived twenty minutes away, on the edge of town. His house sat adjacent to a lake and the forest preserve that encompassed it, and across the street was a small bit of farmland owned by the neighbors. Joseph remembered a childhood of dashing through the empty fields, running up to the fence of the chickens to feed them some seed, and petting the horses. The neighbors didn’t mind, as long as Joseph treated the animals nicely. It was much more entertaining than his grandfather’s house.

Elizabeth’s car was parked in the driveway. Joseph parked as well, making sure not to block her in. He left the car and rang the doorbell. It took a few minutes for the door to be answered. Joseph was greeted by his grandfather, who wore a stern expression upon his face.

Thanks to Hamon, the Tibetan man looked as if he were younger than Joseph’s own father. His ivory skin was clear of wrinkles, and his dark eyes showed a shimmer of youth. His long, dark hair was styled in the same way that Joseph’s own mother wore hers. George once told Granny Erina - and indirectly told Joseph, due to eavesdropping - that Straitzo was a very controlling man, especially to his daughter. He tried to raise her in his image to become his apprentice, and fell furious when he learned that his daughter was going to get married. Thus, Straitzo did not look too kindly upon his grandson.

“H-hello, sir,” Joseph said, bowing. “Is Mom here…?”

“Yes,” Straitzo replied.

Joseph rocked on his heels for a moment, waiting for a further reply. “Can I see her?”

“No.” Straitzo tried closing the door, but Joseph put his foot in the doorframe.

“C’mon, gramps. I just need to talk to her!” Joseph begged.

“I will not have any degenerates like you in my house!” Straitzo barked.

Joseph forced his way in the house. “Degenerate?! How dare you!”

“You’re just like your grandfather,” Straitzo growled.

Joseph trudged through the house. It was as he remembered it - agonizingly clean, decorated with fine china and expensive, fragile trinkets. Photos hung up in the halls of Straitzo’s students.

A particular photo caught Joseph’s eye. It was Straitzo standing next to Elizabeth, another Hamon coworker by the name of Yutoo (Joseph had met him before a few times, and the man was rather friendly), but neither of the Quatros. A hand cut into the picture, placed on Elizabeth’s shoulder. The bracelet on the arm looked familiar.

Joseph shrugged it off. His eyes flickered to more photos, prominently displaying Elizabeth in action. Two figures would be in the background, blurred out, or obscured via ink blots. The largest photograph was unmarred, and revealed who the two missing people were.

Straitzo had tried to omit all instances of Messina and Loggins. However, the large portrait displaying the extended Hamon clan, including Tonpetty, Dire, Uncle Will, and some other “old farts”, as George jokingly called them when Joseph met them long ago. In the large portrait, Messina and Loggins’ faces were scratched up haphazardly in an attempt to hide them.

Joseph turned towards his grandfather. “This is because of you, isn’t it? Why Mom doesn’t like it that I like other boys.”

“The Quatros are childish apprentices. Even after years of training, they fail to approach the level Elizabeth achieved at the age of twelve! All because their affections for each other get in the way. And that child of theirs…” Straitzo snarled. “That bastard girl’s got to be the dumbest child I’ve ever had the displeasure of encountering!”

“Shut the hell up,” Joseph growled. “Suzi’s real smart! She’s smarter than you!”

“Sure she is,” Straitzo muttered. “But no good can come of two men being together.”

Joseph shook his head. He couldn’t lose his cool again. Fighting Stroheim at school was one thing, but Grandpa Straitzo? Joseph turned and entered the kitchen to see his mother at the table. Her face was red from tears. “Mom…”

“Go home, Jojo,” Elizabeth mumbled. “I just need a few days to myself.”

Joseph sat down. “Dad is worried. He’s broken . He loves you, Mom.”

“This isn’t about him,” she said. “It’s about you. Why didn’t I see this earlier…? I feel like you’re not even my son.”

Joseph felt nauseous, as if he were about to throw up. His throat closed.

“I feel awful for not seeing the signs beforehand,” Elizabeth continued. “If you were my son - no, if I were really your mother… I would have realized. I’ve neglected you, Jojo.”

“No you haven’t,” Joseph insisted. His eyes watered. “Dad was surprised too. It’s not a bad thing to not know.”

“I was never angry at you for who you loved,” Elizabeth said. “I was angry at myself for being so uninvolved in your life that I didn’t notice, then angry that I’m so distant that you don’t trust me.”

Joseph nodded slowly, then outstretched his arms, offering up a hug. Elizabeth took the offer, squeezing him and peppering him with kisses.

“I overreacted. I said terrible things that I didn’t truly mean,” Elizabeth said. “I love you, and I love your father. Nothing will change that.” She broke the hug and then stood up. “We should go home.”

“Are you alright to drive? You were upset,” Joseph said.

“Yes. I’m fine,” Elizabeth replied. She went to leave, but first turned to her father. “The Quatros are a good family, Master. It is unfair of you to blame their performance on their love. And Suzi is a smart young woman.”

Joseph left as well, not bothering to say goodbye to his grandfather. He and his mother both drove home. Elizabeth got there first.

Joseph entered the house, surprised to see a fifth set of shoes by the entrance. The red high-tops looked familiar, but he couldn’t place where he knew them from…

It hit him as he entered the living room to see his parents sitting on one couch and his grandmother on the other, consoling a sobbing Smokey. Joseph rushed over. “What’s going on?”

Smokey looked up. “M-my mom saw our texts… she says I’m n-not allowed back in the house anymore.” His eyes held fear as he cried. Joseph noticed a bit of blood on his chin, resulting from a split lip. He had been punched.

“He called us after he couldn’t reach you,” Erina said. “I picked him up.” Joseph nodded and sat down next to his boyfriend. Erina looked at her son dead in the eyes. “He’s staying with us.”

“Mom!” George scoffed.

“George! This poor boy needs a home, and you dare to have him be thrown back onto the streets?!” Erina yelled.

“No! I- I just wish you’d ask me first…” George mumbled. “This is my house, Mom.”

“If this is your house, then why am I the one making payments on it?” Erina asked. She smirked as her son gave a defeated sigh.

“I’m the man of the house...” George mumbled.

Erina rolled her eyes. “Now, we’ll have to fix up the guest room for Smokey, unless…” She looked at the boys.

“He’ll stay with me in my bed?” Joseph asked.

“Oh no,” George said. “I’m putting my foot down. That is inappropriate!”

“I may be old, Georgie, but I’m not deaf,” Erina said. “Might I remind you of all of the business you and Elizabeth got up to back at the old house? And if I may do a bit of math, your wedding and Joseph’s birthday are a mere five months apart, in the same year.”

George’s face flushed red, and Elizabeth turned away. “Mom!! Not in front of-!” Joseph and Smokey were both cracking up.

“He stays in whichever bed he’d like,” Erina said.

Smokey sat up and wiped his face with his sleeve. “I can stay in the guest room if it makes you comfortable, Mr Joestar.”

“Nonsense. Do what you’d like, honey,” Erina said. “If you’re comfortable in the guest room, you may sleep there, or if you’d like to sleep with Joseph, then go with him. Whatever you’d like.”

Smokey looked at Joseph. “Maybe I should take the guest room…”

“I don’t mind you staying with me! My bed’s bigger than the guest room. Queen size!” Joseph smiled.

“Okay,” Smokey replied. He sniffled again. “I feel gross.”

“Go up and take a shower, honey,” Erina said. “Jojo, find him a change of clothes.”

The boys went upstairs and got ready for bed. Though it wasn’t even 7 pm, they both had a long day. Smokey’s shower was quick, and he soon joined his boyfriend in his bedroom.

Joseph laid on his bed, reading comic books, when Smokey came into the room. “Hey…”

“Hey,” Smokey replied. He wore an oversized night shirt of Joseph’s, but held the flannel pants in his arms. “Your pajama pants are way too big.”

“I can find another pair,” Joseph offered. He hopped out of bed.

“I’m okay with just being in the shirt, but… you know, I’m going to be next to you,” he said.

“I don’t mind. It’s not like we’re going to be cuddling.”

They ended up cuddling.

Joseph held Smokey in his arms as they tried to rest. Despite the time, both boys were exhausted emotionally, and all they wanted to do was be near each other. Joseph kept peppering his boyfriend with kisses. “C’mere,” he said, pulling Smokey on top of him. “My man-titties will be your pillow.”

“You’re such a dork,” Smokey laughed. He kissed Joseph on the lips, and then rolled to the side, off of Joseph’s chest. “Do you think we’re going to work? You and me…”

“I want it to,” Joseph said. “I’ll work hard to make it work.”

“Me too. I love you.” Smokey sighed shakily. “It feels so wonderful to say that.” He smiled, and Joseph saw the familiar sparkle in his warm, dark eyes. Joseph put his hand on Smokey’s cheek, then gave him another kiss.

“It really does.”


 

That weekend, Smokey officially moved into the Joestar household. He was able to collect his things from his home, supervised by Joseph while Granny Erina filled out paperwork with Mr and Mrs Brown to gain custody of the boy. The parents were furious with the Joestars and their gall to turn their only son into a faggot, but Erina had none of that.

The guest room was redone to be Smokey’s room, though the family knew that he would rather spend his nights with Joseph. The boys slept better together, preferring to spoon as they slept. Joseph liked being the little spoon.

One morning, the two boys came downstairs to an otherwise empty house. A box sat on the kitchen table, addressed with Smokey’s name. He sat down at the table and looked up at Joseph. “What’s this?”

“Dunno,” Joseph replied. He got out some cereal from the pantry.

Smokey opened up the box and started laughing. “Are you sure you don’t know what it is?”

“I’m sure I don’t know what it is,” Joseph said. He sat down next to his boyfriend as Smokey pulled a Nintendo 3DS box out of the larger box. “I didn’t buy that!”

“Sure you didn’t,” Smokey smirked. Accompanying the box were Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Animal Crossing: Happy Homes Designer . A note sat at the bottom of the box.

I know how much these games means to you and Jojo. I hope you can enjoy them. You’re part of this family now. -Granny Erina