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Jotaro Kujo’s Turbulent Youth, 1988-9

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‘Nor have they any inkling of the dark fate that is stalking so near and will strike them down in a single day.’ – Homer, The Odyssey

Prison, he decides, is all right. The guards call him by the name he gives them, and the other prisoners stop bothering him after a while (“He put how many in the hospital?”). Plus, the spirit seems to be trying to reconcile with him after its dramatic debut; so far, he’s got cigarettes, booze, some books and manga, a Sea Life magazine, and some games. It doesn’t make him feel any better, but the thing is trying. He leans against the cool stone wall with his knees up to his chin and rubs his arms up and down, brooding.

He can’t believe how fucking violent it had been. It had – fuck, it had put them in the hospital. He’s done stuff like that before, of course, but… never this serious. Never more than one or two, and never this badly. All this time this brutal spirit has been haunting him, lulling him into a false sense of security with its gifts and –

Fuck. The testosterone. Is it poisoned somehow? Some kind of drug that’ll ensnare him in addiction till the end of his days? What if it’s some sort of mind control or – hell, even a hallucinogen? That would explain the purple hands, at least, if not the arrival of the testosterone itself. (The baseball bat man hadn’t seen the hands, he’s pretty sure.) Of course he zoned out during the fight, too, of course he hadn’t been able to tell where the blur ended and he began –

Fuck, he’s a druggie. Somehow, something – or someone – has been bringing him some kind of loopy drug that makes him see ghosts, and he’s been taking it like a sucker. He had wanted so desperately to be a boy. Probably the muscles, the voice, and the lack of menstruation are side effects.

Of course they are. How could he have been so stupid?

Hold on, though.

That doesn’t explain the manga, or the cigarettes. Where could a drugged-up kid like him have possibly got a Sea Life magazine, of all things?

How had he got them into his cell? Had he blanked out the memory of stealing them?

He definitely remembers not having cigarettes or booze when he first got here. The guards had been quite clear on that – had almost given him a pat down before deciding not to bother. And he had emptied his pockets, just like a prisoner is supposed to do. There’s no way anything could have come in with him.

Unless… unless it really is an evil spirit. He supposes it’s no less crazy than the idea that someone has been drugging him for years. (And it has been years, now, hadn’t it? He had been, what, thirteen? Fourteen? And now he is seventeen, and there is no way someone could have been slipping him stuff for that long without him finding out.)

Of course, that leaves the rather more pressing question of what the fuck a purple pair of hands wants with someone like him.

“Spirit? Demon, I mean?” A whisper, just barely enough to hear; he doesn’t want his cell mates to hear him talking to himself and get any more creeped out by him than they already are.

A hand appears beside him. If it is a hallucination, it has impeccable timing. He frowns.

“Are you… real?”

The hand reaches down into the inner pocket of his gakuran and pulls out his cigarettes. The packet dangles in front of his face from those strange purple fingers, and he hears one of the guys in his cell gasp (“The cigs – they’re floating!”). It doesn’t really prove anything, of course; everyone knows hallucinations can make themselves very convincing sometimes. Still… he’d definitely felt the hand in his pocket.

Right then. “Are you gonna hurt me?”

The hand puts the cigarettes down and strokes his face affectionately. Apparently not.

“What about everyone else?”

The hand lets go of him instantly and turns palm upwards, in a kind of shrug (and he definitely recognises that gesture, even if it’s been a while). Then, unmistakably, it bunches up into a fist again.

“So you do mean harm.” He turns his head away and sighs. “Then it’s better if I stay here.”

Another hand-shrug.

“Good grief, spirit. Can’t put everyone in danger like that. Not if you just put everyone who says bad things in the hospital.” (Not that those men hadn’t deserved a good beat-down, but… not that bad. He tries and fails not to think about it.)

“You know, Mom calls me that. A girl. You can’t beat her up as well. Please. Not her.”

The fist curls up again.

“Then we’re staying here.”

The fist shrugs and fades away. He is alone.

Chapter Text

‘…Nor let thy soul contrive

against thy mother’

– William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1.5.86)

“You can’t hold my dear Joriko in the men’s prison! I insist you –”

“Huh? He told us his name was Kujo Jotaro.”

“Oh, no, that’s just the name she uses for school, isn’t that right, sweetheart? It’s all right, you can stop pretending now.”

“Good grief, woman, can you shut the hell up?”

“Okay, darling!” She waves cheerfully at the guard. “She’s a sweetheart, really…”

“Ma’am, your ‘sweetheart’ put four people in the hospital…”

“Come on, dear, stop this nonsense and come home to mama.”

Bitch. He takes a slug of beer, wonders if she’ll ever fucking listen to what he has to say. “No. I’m not leaving this cell.” Lights a cig, to emphasise his point.

“Come on, we need this cell, we’re overflowing, and your so—daughter is scaring the other prisoners. Please –”

The ghost is gonna come out. He can feel it, the pressure in his chest – he has to keep it away from her. As much as she’s a bitch who calls him a girl, she’s his mother, and has more or less raised him by herself. They used to be close, before he realised that he was a boy. He has to be at least a little bit restrained.

“Why don’t you want to come out of there, sweetheart?”

(Can he answer, ‘because I’m not a girl, and I’m being haunted by a homicidal maniac’? He isn’t sure; takes another slug of beer, because he’s tired of this shit.)

“I’m possessed. You have to stay away from me, or else.”

“What? Listen, kid, there’s no such thing as possession, don’t you know that? Kujo-san, please, tell your so—daughter to leave, she’s taking up valuable space.”

The ghost, despite his best efforts, gives the police officer a series of rude gestures and throws an empty beer can at the two of them. Holy tips her head.

“Young lady, there is no need for –”

“You can see it?” (He’s really doing his best to ignore ‘young lady’. She doesn’t mean anything by it. She doesn’t know.)

The officer turns towards her. “See what? The beer can flying?”

“Joriko…” She puts a hand up to her chin. “I’m going to get you some help, okay? Stay here.”

“But ma’am –”

“I think, officer, she just needs more of a male presence in her life. Don’t worry, I’ll have her out of your hair before you can say ‘Holy Kujo is a wonderful lady’!” With that, Holy gives a little wave to Jotaro and smiles encouragingly. “Bye, sweetie! Have a nice time in prison! I won’t be long, okay?”

“Fine. Whatever.”

He stays.

(As if there’s anyone who can help. Yeah, right. It isn’t just the ghost that’s the problem. It’s the purple ghost and being a boy. Those are definitely not going to get solved by some therapist or doctor or fucking Ripple magic.)

“Man, I guess we need to put Kujo in the women’s section, huh?”

“Are you crazy? We can’t have that in with the women, they’ll riot!”

 (Gramps’ stories seem a little less ridiculous now, actually. But only a little. They’re still batshit crazy.)

“What, because they’re scared of it?”

“No, idiot, they’ll be fighting over it…”

(Just like him, probably. Maybe madness runs in the family.)

The ghost, helpfully, gives him some books on the paranormal; he does some research, but doesn’t come up with any answers. No literature about being a boy (other than the testosterone leaflets from ages ago, again), and he’s not sure if he should be relieved or annoyed. He’d really like more help in being able to explain this to his mother… if he ever does.

(And what the hell does she mean by ‘a male presence’, anyway?)

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‘…and at that same second a small pocket pistol appeared right next to his temple.’

 – Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot

And then Joseph fucking Joestar, that bastard, comes in with his mother and a strange man a few days later, and Jotaro understands. Fuck that, they’re trying to – intimidate? No, they’re trying to give him the father figure that he apparently lacks, to – ha – get him under control again, and he’s never wanted to punch his own grandfather so much in his entire life. There’s no way anyone can control this. There’s no way the old man can help. He lights a cigarette and lets the ghost fuck with them.

“Ah! My finger! You’re lucky that’s mechanical, young lady!”

The purple fist nearly decapitates him (“Spirit, no, absolutely not, fuck”), and Jotaro makes a decision. With a little bit of mental effort, he distracts the hand and – politely – indicates what he wants. The demon, whatever it is, understands his thoughts a whole lot better than he did when it was trying to give him testosterone, or the shirt-thing, or a fake period.

He takes off his hat, feels lost without its comforting presence, but steels himself all the same.

“Joriko, come on. Please talk to your grandpa and his friend, they want the best for you. I know you’re a sweet girl under all that, so just…”

“Listen to your mother, Joriko. Avdol and I can help you. Come out of there and we can have a chat, eh, girlie?”

Fucking hell. He has to protect them, but he can’t. There’s nothing else he can do –

The gun is from the policeman’s belt, definitely real, and has a full round as expected. Good grief. He swallows. Does not point it at any of them. Emphatically avoids taking innocent lives.

(This’ll get rid of the problem, right? This’ll make everything go away, this’ll stop him disappointing his mom any more that he has, this’ll keep the blur away from her –)

“Joriko, no, what are you doing –?”

The words to express what he’s feeling piece themselves together in his mind, gradually, but with an unstoppable intensity of purpose. He knows how this is going to end. He can’t pretend to be two different people anymore. In his last moment, as he aims the gun at his own temple with his own hand, he looks into his mother’s eye completely sober, and uses ‘ore’ like a man.

“It’s not Joriko, mom. It’s Jotaro. I’m a guy.”

There is a gunshot, and his life – such as it was – comes to an end.

Chapter Text

‘O Time, cease thy course and last no longer’

– William Shakespeare, The Rape of Lucrece, l.1765

In retrospect, there are better ways of coming out than shooting yourself in the head.

(But what does he have to lose? His life? His sanity? His fucking dick? He never had much of any of those anyway.)

The ghost has kept him alive. He’s not sure if he wants to push his luck a second time. Maybe it’ll go on a rampage when he dies, or something, and that’s why it’s so eager to save him.

It’s called a Stand, and it stops bullets now, because of course it does. It’s fast and precise, and he’s still not leaving his cell because it wants to kill his mother, and he’s not going to let it do that. Not for any amount of her shit.

“If Joriko had had a better father figure growing up, this might never have happened. She’s overcompensating, you’ll see when she gets out, Papa.”

“Holy… JoJo just tried to commit suicide. I think it’s more serious than that.”

“Oh, that was just a demonstration of what her Stand can do, isn’t that right, Joriko?”

He’ll protect her. Even if she still – somehow – clearly and vehemently denies he’s a boy. That hurts, but it proves he’s alive now. Still. He keeps the ghost in check.

And now there’s nothing more to say, as if he’s run out of words – or at least, ‘appropriate’ words. He can’t bring himself to say, ‘I wanted to die’, because his mother doesn’t deserve that on top of everything. She’s innocent.

(He wanted to die. Why didn’t it let him die, and be at peace?)

The next best thing: a warning.

“You should leave now, Mom. Before my… my Stand kills you all.”

“You’re not feeling well. This whole Stand business has you confused. You’ve spent so long at school pretending to be a boy that you managed to convince yourself you are one. Come on, Joriko, you’re a good girl, just come out!”

(He already has, dammit. But she can’t see it, so he stays in the cell. Why can’t she just accept that this is who he is?)

Chapter Text

‘Be thou spirit or a goblin damned

…Be thy intents wicked or charitable’

– William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1.4.40 and 42)

The man named Avdol steps forward, finally, respectfully asking the other two to stand back, and addresses him as ‘Jotaro-kun’ as if Holy hasn’t spent probably the last hour talking about her ‘little girl’. Avdol’s big, powerful, knows how to command a room, but nope. Still no. His mom’s there and he’s not going to risk it.

“I apologise for this, young Jotaro, Mister Joestar. Miss Holy.” He frowns, and –

Avdol’s Stand is a naked fiery chicken man. He attacks, and the spirit inside Jotaro stirs –

(he tries not to imagine Avdol’s brain being splattered over the prison floor –)

(and what, exactly, is hidden under the feathers of Magician’s Red? What’s… down there? He wants to know, even though it’s probably ‘inappropriate’ to ask.)

– and his own Stand manifests fully, out of desperation more than anything else, because Avdol is gonna fucking kill him, he’s not joking around here.

It’s a giant muscly purple guy with a very revealing loincloth.

Huh.

His first real meeting with the being called Star Platinum is not ideal – it’s not the time or the place for checking out anatomy – but Jotaro is sure of one major thing.

His Stand, the purest expression of his soul, a manifestation of his fighting spirit, the one most connected to who he really is inside – Star Platinum is definitely a guy.

He spends the next half an hour kicking himself for stepping foot outside the cell.

 

In the evening, after all the explanations have been given – Stands, gay vampires, DIO, Stands, his great-great-grandfather’s lower half, Stands, fucking birthmarks and shit, Stands – Gramps takes him aside, out of the hearing of his daughter and Avdol.

“JoJo… This isn’t like how Holy wants to be called Seiko, right?”

(She’s trying to undermine him now, he’s pretty sure. Trying to show how ridiculous he’s being by taking on a new name of her own, even though no one actually calls her that.)

“…No. It’s different. It’s important.”

“Is ‘Jotaro’ a boy’s name?”

“Yes.”

“Okay.” Joseph chews on his lips, and then: “I’m sorry for not calling you that before, Jotaro. I didn’t realise that that was what you truly wanted. But you’re my grandson. I should respect that.”

“…Oh. Thanks.” He’s surprised, honestly; he was expecting Gramps to be as bad as Holy.

An awkward pause. Joseph taps his mechanical fingers on the table. “Ah, Jotaro?”

“Mm?”

“You may know that in English, the pronouns are gendered. Would you like me to call you a ‘he’ when we speak it?”

“Yes. Please.”

A nod. “All right. I might make mistakes sometimes, but I’ll do my best, all right? I’ll let Avdol know as well.”

He relaxes and feels a surge of pride and thankfulness for the old man. “Thanks.”

“No problem, kiddo. I’m glad you know who you are.” Gramps pats him on the back. “Your mother will come around to it eventually, don’t worry.”

“…okay.”

It’s been much too long in coming, in that case; if she wasn’t tipped off by him asking to use a different name (even just in school) – if she wasn’t tipped off by him putting a fucking gun to his head –

But perhaps Joseph is right. She is his daughter, after all.

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‘Bright star, were I as steadfast as thou art—’

– John Keats, Bright Star

The next day, when he falls on the way to school, the too-noisy girls are there (of course), but there’s also someone else. Someone with longish red hair and a green gakuran buttoned up to the neck, like he used to do. They give him a handkerchief, and he can’t really tell their gender, even though they’re wearing a male uniform. He doesn’t catch their name over the chattering of all the annoying girls.

It doesn’t matter, of course, because as he finds out in the nurse’s office from their note, they’re evil and they’re going to kill him. Good grief. The signature is by a Kakyoin… something. The kanji for their given name are normally read ‘Tenmei’, which could be for a girl, but it could also be ‘Noriaki’, which sounds like a boy’s name. Kakyoin hasn’t clarified with kana, so Jotaro thinks of them as ‘Kakyoin’ and wonders if they’re like him.

And then they’re fighting, the redhead moving their stand like a puppet, and it’s not exactly the best time to ask ‘how is your name pronounced’ because he’s getting stabbed and shot at with… emeralds? He has his first kiss: it’s probably not too bad for being under duress. He’s heard that it’s not normally good etiquette to bite, but this is a desperate circumstance.

He takes the person home once he’s done, in case they know something about DIO, and for some reason ends up saving their life instead. It’s probably destiny or some shit.

“Hold still, Kakyoin. Move and you die.” There are better ways to say hello. But the person with purple eyes (he can’t help seeing them, even as his gaze slides away to their hairline) doesn’t comment on that and patiently lets him take the thing out of their head.

(Gramps actually uses that Hamon stuff. Huh.)

 

“Thank you for releasing me from DIO’s control.” The student, now Jotaro takes a good look at them, is pretty close to his age; polite and reserved, the sort of person he usually doesn’t have anything to do with. They bow respectfully from their place on the futon. “My name… My name is Kakyoin. I’m pleased to meet you all.”

The rest of them nod, and Joseph takes introductions before Holy can get a word in edgeways. “My name is Joseph Joestar. The boy who saved you is my grandson, Kujo Jotaro; this man is Mohammed Avdol, a friend of mine, and this woman is my daughter Holy, Jotaro’s mother. May I enquire as to your first – I mean your given name?”

Kakyoin fiddles with their earrings. “I am called Tenmei.” He hears the uncertainty in their voice and realises that this person is not comfortable. This person finds themselves in a room full of men and Holy and is afraid of censure or worse. This person may, indeed, be like him. He nods to himself and makes up his mind.

Chapter Text

‘So we grew together

Like to a double cherry’

 - William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (3.2.208-9)

Later, he approaches Kakyoin on their own, while Holy is occupied, and while the others are out. He’s not sure how to start the conversation: ‘do you also have boobs’ seems a bit forward, and ‘some people also call me things I don’t want to be called’ seems a bit abstract. Luckily, Kakyoin starts it for him, fiddling with their cherry earrings.

“Kujo-san… Your mother called you Joriko earlier. Not Jotaro, like your grandfather introduced you. What’s going on?”

“Uhm…” He sits on the futon next to Kakyoin and holds the brim of his hat in his hand. “My mom thinks I’m a girl. Because… because I have fuckin’ ‘girl parts’. But I’m Jotaro. Like on your handkerchief.” He hands it to them, as if that will explain everything.

Kakyoin nods and hugs their knees. “Oh. I… oh.” Another pause. “I have both. It’s complicated, but… I’m both at the same time. Um. I don’t really know what I am.”

He’s not sure how to respond to that, so he goes with the question that he already rehearsed. “How is your name pronounced? I mean, the way you actually want it?”

Kakyoin’s expression opens up, like a book: mouth in a round no shape. “No one’s… no one’s ever asked me that before,” they say. They pause, think again. “…sometimes I like to call myself ‘Noriaki’. But, ah, the way I feel… it changes a lot. Almost every day.”

“Uh… Okay.” He wrings his hands thoughtfully.

“It’s all right,” says Kakyoin. They rub the back of their head. “I know it’s… a bit much. It might just be alternate personalities, or a side effect of my body or something. I’m sure it seems a bit crazy. But that’s how I feel, honestly. If you don’t get it, I understand.”

“It’s… fine.” It makes sense, at least as far as he’s concerned; he’s not sure how to put that into words. It’s more normal than punch ghosts and vampires, at any rate.  “How’d I tell?”

They sit up a little. “I guess… I’m Tenmei when I look like a girl, and then Noriaki the rest of the time? It doesn’t really matter anyway, just Kakyoin is fine anytime. I don’t mind.”

“Right. I, uhh, can’t always tell when people change, but… I’ll do my best.” He doesn’t often use that phrase – it’s cheesy to the extreme, in his opinion, and overused by cutesy girls – but he really means it now. “But, good grief – how do you change your body so fast?”

A laugh, and Kakyoin leans in to his ear. “One word, Jotaro… Hierophant. They’re very useful when I want to cover my breasts or hide my, erm… thing. And their body shape changes to match with how I’m feeling.”

“Oh, you’ve done that too? Used to have Star hold me flat.”

“Eh? Really? Then… I’m not alone in this?” Kakyoin stares at him with a hand held out, almost touching Jotaro’s shoulder. “You really…? Oh my god. I thought… I was the only one who dealt with those sorts of things. I… god.”

“Yeah. Guess we’re the same, huh?” He pulls his hat down decisively. “More or less.”

“Yeah,” agrees Kakyoin. “We should be friends.”

He nods happily. A friend. Not only that, a friend who understands what he’s been going through. Who has been through some of the same stuff, probably.

He remembers what he thought back in the cell: it’s not just the ghost. It’s the ghost and being a guy. Well, here’s someone who probably, to some extent, understands both. Has lived with both, for years probably.

Star Platinum, for the first time in a while, doesn’t feel murderous.

Chapter Text

‘Slowly the poison the whole blood stream fills.’ – William Empson, Missing Dates

When his mother falls, there is a change in the air. The Joestars, suddenly, are the target of a curse, and he almost feels that his mother deserves it for everything she says to him – everything she has said to him, over the years. And yet, she doesn’t deserve it. She didn’t know, before. She’s adjusting now. He has to be patient and love her for all her faults.

And as she lies there, the vines creeping over her back and digging into her skin, he wonders if her stubbornness in this one area is what’s causing her so much pain. Whether it’s somehow his fault, for telling her he’s a guy; whether she would have been better for not knowing. (But he couldn’t stand it anymore, she had to know, even if he died in the process.)

He asks for a cure, and he gets a quest. To Egypt, where both Avdol and Kakyoin have encountered the man who’s taken his great-great-grandfather’s body, and where – hopefully – they can end this horror once and for all. They can come back victorious, deal with Holy’s prejudices, and all live happily ever after.

“I’ll come,” says Avdol, who was the first of their party to call him Jotaro.

“I have to be there,” says Joseph, who knows his grandson should be called a ‘he’.

“I will protect Holy-san and get my revenge on DIO,” says Kakyoin, the first person he’s ever met who is like him (kind of). “I will prove that I’m not as weak as everyone thinks I am.”

He’s happy, almost, that he’ll be able to spend time with people who accept him for who he is. He’s almost glad of an excuse to be a man among men (and Kakyoin). Male bonding, or something like that.

And 50 days is a long time (relatively speaking). They won’t need it all, if their flights arrive on schedule and they can find DIO quickly. They’ll be able to see the sights along the way, maybe. Give Holy time to adjust to her daughter being a son, give Sadao a chance to hear about it all and decide for himself. They’ll get back to the usual routine soon enough. It’ll be fine. He can handle this, right?

              

It isn’t fine. They get attacked by a bug – an actual bug – and Joseph Joestar crashes his third plane of a lifetime. Jotaro gets a hole in his hand. And with that, their entire plan goes to shit.

Chapter Text

‘Excitement, adventure, and really wild things!’

– Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The journey begins in the same way that it’ll probably end: stressfully.

In Hong Kong, Avdol volunteers once again to help them make a new friend. This person is called Polnareff, and their Stand is a thin knight with a speed to match Star’s: there are several moments where Avdol is almost overwhelmed. But, of course, Polnareff’s prediction doesn’t quite go their way, and Jotaro has to pull another flesh bud out and not die from all the stupid, cringeworthy puns being bandied about. (“Hey, Kakyoin, don’t you hate people like that?”)

It turns out Polnareff is something like them, as well. “I am not, as you might expect, a man,” they announce. “I am neither. My sister, God rest her soul, understood, and now you do too. It is necessary, mes amis, if I am to share in this voyage.”

“It’s almost as if we attract each other,” mutters Kakyoin. He’s pretty sure they’re more of a girl today; their general shape is curvier somehow, even under the straight-laced gakuran. Or maybe he’s imagining it. He should really get to know them better… maybe he’ll ask them to hangout sometime.

 

The time wears on, and everyone is tired. It’s hot. His back hurts and he gets short of breath when he doesn’t have a chance to take his tight shirt-thing off, and he’s already accumulated several more scars than he started out with. Unlike most of the others, he’s used to fighting every day – knows exactly where he stands in a fist fight (or, at least, used to know) – but the addition of Stands is a wild card which seems, inevitably, to bring the weirdest, craziest shit he’s ever had to deal with: monkeys and sea monsters and ghost ships, maybe.

(It’s really a shame about those two nice boats.)

The injuries are weird, too. He punches a shark, gets covered in barnacles, and has a ceiling fan embedded in his shoulder; the others aren’t doing much better. Even Star mostly only manifests for fights these days, and he misses the purple blob that would get him presents. It’s not like he wants Star to pop up randomly, but… well, at least he’s still well-stocked on patches. Maybe eventually he’ll have to figure out where they come from so he can get them for himself.

He gets to know his companions a little, and they get to know him: they get to see his favourite cigarette trick and his extensive knowledge of all things aquatic. He’s starting to feel a little more comfortable, especially around Kakyoin; they don’t mind him applying the patches or putting on the shirt-thing in front of them. Not that the others mind either, of course, but he’s a little nervous of allowing anyone to see his chest without the shirt-thing – Kakyoin, at least, has the same problem with their front sometimes.

In return, Kakyoin shows him a weird-ass cherry trick (the same one that bastard Yellow Temperance did, he notices, but more endearing for being from the real thing), and how Hierophant can be unravelled into a tight under-layer to flatten their chest. It’s remarkably similar to the shirt-thing that he wears. (They’re somehow very busty; he wonders how it all fits.)

“And you really used Star like this? How?”

“He was just a blur. Good grief, I wouldn’t want him there now.”

“Well, that’s a relief. I was imagining a giant purple man holding your breasts flat.”

The chiselled face appears, as if on cue, and leans over his shoulder curiously. “Ora?”

“Yeah, Star, not happening.”

Chapter Text

‘I think the gods have blessed both your birth and your journey to manhood.’

– Homer, The Odyssey

The train to India takes a couple of days. It’s slow and tedious and stops every now and again for apparently no reason: somehow, the mere fact of travelling is somehow more exhausting than the times when they’re fighting every day. At least there aren’t any Stand attacks.

On the second night, Joseph, Polnareff and Kakyoin start playing cards in the sleeper that he and Kakyoin have been using. He can’t even be bothered to tell them how annoying and loud they’re being, just slopes off to the other compartment rubbing his forehead.

“I’m gonna sleep here.”

“All right.” Avdol barely even looks up from his book. “I won’t be long.”

He slumps onto the other bed face first, not bothering to undress or take off his hat, and listens to Avdol turning the pages for a while.

“Hey, Avdol?”

“Mm?”

“Why’d you call me by my name back then? You could’ve –” he hesitates to arrange his thoughts, hates himself for what he’s about to say – “You had no obligation to do that.”

Avdol’s breathing stutters a little. Without a word, he puts a bookmark on his page, sits up, and turns to face Jotaro fully. Carefully, he puts his book to one side.

“Jotaro,” he says, each word carefully measured yet forceful as a gale, “I had every obligation to do that. In fact, if I had not called you by the name you gave me, I would have considered you justified to kill me where I stood.”

Jotaro watches his breathing, his solid, unmoving stance, and frowns.

“Why?”

“Take out your Stand.”

He does as he’s asked, bringing Star Platinum into existence above him.

“Do you notice anything particular about Star Platinum, Jotaro?”

“He’s a guy. But you didn’t know that back then.”

Avdol shrugs. “That’s true. However, I already knew that he would look something like that.”

“Good grief, how? Fortune telling?”

“Well, yes, in part.” He crosses his legs and puts his hands on his knees. “But I could also see it in the way you dress, the way you talk and act. You flinch and clench your fists whenever someone addresses you the wrong way, even if they don’t know they’re saying something wrong. You have much stronger reactions to these things than almost anyone I’ve seen; honestly, I was surprised it took you so long to say it out loud.”

So, magic, then, the same impossible mindreading that everyone else seems to have, and he doesn’t. Jotaro turns his head towards Avdol. He can still see Star Platinum out of the corner of his eye, floating there with his head tipped to one side. One of the phrases Avdol used…

“You know other people like me? Like Kakyoin and Polnareff?”

“Many.” Avdol sighs. “For some reason, those who… for example, men like me, who are not attracted to women, or people like you – we are more likely to be Stand users than anyone else. I have known many who consider the two things to go hand in hand. In many cases, the Stand is related in some way to… to how we diverge from the norm.”

Jotaro looks at Star Platinum again, with his flat, muscled chest and broad, strong shoulders. It makes sense, of course. He’d thought it himself, back in the prison cell, how Star Platinum is such a convenient representation of how he feels; he thinks about it now in relation to Kakyoin and their ever-changing sense of self, and to Polnareff with a knight that defies all categorisation.

“So… you can tell, just by sight?”

“Not always.” Avdol spreads his palms wide. “But sometimes I see the truth behind someone’s eyes, and I cannot help but notice it. I see it in you, Jotaro. The destiny to change yourself. You will be a great man, in all the senses of that phrase.”

He breathes. A great man… “What about you?”

A laugh, and Avdol shakes his head. “I am destined to love and to be loved, and then to die. There are many such people in the world. Perhaps I will pass away tomorrow, or in fifty years, and my destiny will have been fulfilled either way. I only hope I can be of some use before I go.”

“You are. You have been.” He lets Star Platinum fade into the void. “Thanks, Avdol.”

“It is my pleasure, Jotaro.” Avdol moves to turn off the light and lies down again. “I’m going to get some rest.”

“Alright.”

With a sigh, Jotaro turns over and takes off his hat; in the darkness, he can almost see Star Platinum again, hovering over him with a calm, gentle aura radiating from him. Not the sort of thing an enemy would ever see, but something which he knows is there, inside himself, waiting. He frowns.

“Avdol?”

“Mm?”

“Do you think my mother will ever see me as a guy?”

There is a sigh. When Avdol speaks, it is with a low, quiet, sorrowful voice. “I don’t know, Jotaro. I’m sorry. But, please…” Another sigh. There is a struggle in his tone. “Do not give up hope. I see there is still something in her that can change, once she has returned to full health. Please, remember that.”

He stares at the shadowed ceiling of the compartment. His fists clench and unclench, scrunching the smooth fabric of the sheets on the bed. “Okay. I’ll try.”

“Goodnight, Jotaro.”

“Good night.”

Chapter Text

‘Woe to her chance and damned her loathed choice,

Accursed the offspring of so foul a fiend.’

- William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus (4.2.78-9)

By the time Avdol ‘dies’, he’s fucking tired of this shit. People keep attacking non-stop, and he just wants to get to Egypt already. Polnareff is beginning to get annoying with no Avdol to temper them, and he wants to fucking sleep, dammit.

At last, they find a hotel in Varanasi, and Kakyoin and him take a room together as they’ve done before. They collapse onto the separate beds, almost in unison.

“Hey, Jotaro?”

“Mm?”

Kakyoin turns towards him and props their head up with their hand. “Where do you get those patches from? The ones you put on your shoulder?”

“Uhh… Dunno.” He rubs the fabric of his sleeves between his fingers thoughtfully. “Star Platinum gets them from somewhere. Been a while since we restocked though. Why?”

“Just wondering. What do they do?”

He shrugs, as best he can with his back against the bed. “They’re not drugs. They’re testosterone. Makes you a guy.”

“Oh.” Kakyoin makes a hmm sound. “Permanently?”

“Yeah. Dunno if you want that.”

A laugh, short but pleasant. “No, I don’t really. Thanks all the same. I’d rather just use Hierophant.”

“Do you… bleed?” It’s not the right question to ask. Fuck. He can hear Kakyoin tensing up. “I mean… monthly. Because testosterone stops it somehow.”

He’s digging himself a bigger hole, and every moment is another fucking wrong move. This is why he doesn’t talk much, dammit, even though his voice doesn’t hurt these days. “Well, mine stopped. Ages ago. I’m fine, not… anything bad.”

“Oh, God.” Kakyoin’s voice is small and afraid, and he knows it’s his fault, dammit. “Oh.”

“Sorry. Personal question.”

Kakyoin sits up suddenly. “What’s the date?”

“Uhh…” To be honest, he’s kind of lost track, and feels a little guilty that he’s not paying attention while his mother’s life is on the line. “December…twenty-third. Or thereabouts.”

But Kakyoin ignores him, flicking hastily through a diary that Hierophant has handed them. “Let’s see… when did I meet him again? Must have been the fourth… and then a few days there… um… eighteen, twenty-five… and then we left Japan again… that makes three months, plus…”

“Are you… okay?”

“I’m late. I’m never late.” Kakyoin stares at the book in horror. “This… I’m three – almost four months late. I…”

“What? Late?” The words take a moment to register in his brain; he feels his stomach clench suddenly.

“I didn’t realise, what with the flesh bud, and with everything going on… I didn’t even notice how much time had passed, but…” They swallow. “Fuck. I think I’m pregnant.”

“Fuck.” He sits up, then, too, because this is definitely bad news. “How?”

“DIO, of course.” Kakyoin rubs their forehead. “Fuck. He… He could convince me to do anything, after the flesh bud. He knew I could… Dammit, was it not enough to put a flesh bud in me? I didn’t want this, he…”

“And it’s not… a fluke? Happens sometimes.”

Kakyoin’s voice trembles, almost on the brink of tears. “Not to me! Until that holiday in Egypt, I was like clockwork. And then… it must have been in that few days. Everything stopped.”

“It could just be…” He’s reaching, searching for any other possibility, but can’t think of the words. He flaps one of his hands, short sharp, jerky motions, and grimaces. “The one where you think you are, but you’re not. Phantom.”

(They have phantoms haunting them every day, and he can’t accept that this might not be the ghost of fear settling in Kakyoin’s womb and blocking their blood.)

“No.” Kakyoin puts their head in their hands. “I didn’t even notice I wasn’t menstruating. It can’t be my imagination making things real. With the flesh bud, I didn’t think at all about…”

“God.” For a moment, he is somehow glad it isn’t him; then the guilt stings him and he realises how selfish he’s being. He fiddles with his chain, anxious fingers absorbed in the cool metal. “We have to – fuck, you need to go to a doctor or something. Fuck.”

“I didn’t think it was even possible… the doctors said I couldn’t… I have a dick, goddamn it, how do I deal with this, fuck?” They’re rambling, spiralling into a panic, and he’s panicked too, because they’re seven-fucking-teen, and definitely not ready for anything this big.

“Should tell the old man. He’d know what to do. You have to get somewhere safe. Good grief, what if we get attacked again, fuckhead?”

“I know, I know…” They shake their head. “No, I have to see this through, if anything I have even more reason to make sure DIO dies. I have to make sure that no one else...” A shudder. “Fuck.”

“You didn’t even notice? Anything?”

“I don’t know, I can’t even remember most of what happened with the flesh bud… I might have got sick a few times, but I blamed it on food, or fucking motion sickness, or… fuck.” They fiddle with their earring. “I didn’t realise…I swear, I am going to kill DIO.”

“Fuck.”

“We can’t tell the others, not until this is over and done with. I have to do this, don’t you see? For myself, and…” They shake their head again. “For the… for it. Fuck, if it’s gonna happen, it should at least have a life without DIO.”

He thinks, numbly, that this means he will have a great-uncle or -aunt, if DIO is using his great-great-grandfather’s body. It’s a weird thought, and he wants to kill DIO even more than he had already, like Kakyoin said. They must want to fucking rip him to shreds like a paper towel.

“If you don’t wanna tell ‘em, fine. But I swear, if anything happens, you shitwipe…”

“I understand.” Kakyoin pinches the bridge of their nose. “I’ll step down if I need to.”

“Yeah.” He turns away and pulls his hat over his face, the solid, comforting brim smooth and familiar. He remembers something people are supposed to say at times like this.

“Oh, and congratu-fucking-lations, I guess.”

“Don’t you fucking dare.”

Chapter Text

‘He who has beheld beauty with his eyes

is already given over to death.’

 – August Graf von Platen, Tristan

He starts keeping a closer eye on Kakyoin after that. As promised, they seem to be taking things easier than they had been (not that that’s saying much). They find solutions that are kinder to their body: the car thing, for example, uses less of their raw strength and more technique, like in sumo. They don’t flatten their chest as much, even when there’s something about Hierophant that seems more masculine and the way they hold themselves seems to hide their front.

But he can’t pay attention every second of the day: they’re still getting attacked on a regular basis, by weird mosquito bites and evil old ladies and cars that want to replace him as the main character and fucking fog. He almost gets burned to death and has to sacrifice his favourite jacket. (As long as he gets a new one, it’s fine: the sameness of this outfit keeps him grounded in all the changes and the stress.) The old lady stabs him in the leg.

He writes ‘Qtaro’ in the old lady’s guest book, and it still feels weird knowing that everyone on this trip, even the evil ones, know him by the name he chose himself. His real name. Does his mother even acknowledge that he told her yet? Or will he come home to a woman who still calls him ‘Joriko’?

(He does not, for a moment, admit to himself that he might not come home at all; does not admit that, in a few weeks, it may not even matter what his mother would have called him. They will not die. They will figure this out, together.)

And then he’s occupied other ways, because he gets fucking stepped on and seriously, fuck Steely Dan; and after that he’s worried about Kakyoin getting heat stroke or being dehydrated in the sun before he realises the Stand user is an actual moron. It’s the first time he’s laughed out loud in – fuck, probably since his voice dropped. The guy’s a fucking lame-ass idiot, anyway, and he feels slightly better about their chances against DIO if this fuckhead is the best he can come up with.

(His new laugh, he notices, is low, husky, a bit awkward for being so out of practice, but it’s there. He can laugh with his own voice now and doesn’t even care that he sounds like a sick frog.)

The most concerning thing that happens is… well, whatever Kakyoin’s nightmares are about. It could just be anxiety – god knows they all have enough reason for that – but it really distracts them for a while. It’s probably the presence of the sick baby they picked up: maybe it reminds Kakyoin of what’s to come. It turns out none of the younger ones are particularly good with kids, either; Joseph scolds Jotaro, after the crash, for his appalling nappy-changing skills.

“We were fucking crashing.”

“You’ve got the cloth all tangled up. There’s an easy way, look –”

“Good fucking grief, we nearly died. Again.”

Kakyoin has a nasty fall, and the words ‘baby stand’ appear and disappear on their skin, cut into it with their flip-knife. He’s pretty sure they have a good reason for it, if it happened at all; mostly he’s concerned that’s they’ll go too far. But they seem fine once the kid is out of sight, and he figures they just needed some sleep.

And then Avdol’s back, and he almost forgets about Kakyoin completely, because – “Whoah, that was an oceanic white tip! Did you know they get really involved in feeding frenzies? And, hey, a stingray – I read that they…”

He has no idea where the Speedwagon Foundation even got the money for a fucking submarine, but it’s clearly some sort of Christmas or early birthday present from Gramps. And they get to go scuba diving, even if it is because of another fucking Stand attack. At least they get plenty of time to admire the scenery on the way up, after their attempts at flirting with what’s-her-name.

(He speaks to his grandmother on the sub. She doesn’t recognise his voice, which is good, but does recognise the sound of alarms and rushing water that make it hard for him to hear her properly, which isn’t.)

(And how did Kakyoin learn sign language, anyway?)

Chapter Text

‘At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—

Almost, at times, the Fool.’

– T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

It’s a weird way to spend the beginning of the new year.

The dog. The fucking dog. He gets it, he really does: it’s important to have as many competent Stand users on their side as they can get. But really? A fucking dog? At this rate, they’ll be recruiting people like the Sun user as well, and that guy was a fucking ignoramus. His mother has a little more than two fucking weeks to live, they don’t have time for this shit.

They don’t have time for fucking pictures, either, but Joseph still insists that they take at least one ‘for the album’. Jotaro remembers a time when Holy said the same thing, at the start of high school. This time, though, he’s himself, and everyone in the picture knows it (apart from maybe Iggy, who probably doesn’t give a shit). Beside him, Kakyoin has flattened their chest again, and seems remarkably chipper for everything that’s going on.

(The dog has no right to be in their picture, he hasn’t even done anything yet.)

And then he stops caring about the dog, because Kakyoin – fuck. Kakyoin gets slit across the eyes, badly, and the way they fall doesn’t look healthy. And as much as he hates the idea of DIO having any fucking offspring (one of him is plenty), it could be dangerous for Kakyoin as well. And how the fuck are they supposed to look after a kid if they’re still adjusting to being blind?

The group gets into another fucking car crash, as well, and every movement is another danger. So, after Avdol’s little trap fails, he does the only logical thing – use the fucking dog’s fucking sand Stand to get to the other guy, to try and get them to stop attacking.

Of course, his horrible luck dictates that there are at least eight other stand users on their tail now. He really should have expected as much. Somehow, though, the fact that they’ve gone through almost the entire Tarot blindsided him, and he can only stare in horror at the confession. N’Doul, with a knack for the dramatic, takes the opportunity to commit suicide with their own Stand.

(If he had got Star Platinum to shoot him in the head back then, would it have worked? Would Star have even agreed to such a thing? If it had worked, would Star have also still been able to save him?)

(He’s glad he didn’t manage it.)

But he still doesn’t like that goddamn dog.

 

Somehow, they manage to get Kakyoin and Avdol to a hospital unharmed, no more than they already are. It feels wrong to abandon Kakyoin there, but it’s not like there’s anything he can do while their eyes (and everything else) are being looked at. Instead, Joseph and Polnareff drag him away for a few hours so the three of them can get a drink and relax. As if. Eventually, after an unsuccessful search for tea and cola, he decodes he’s had enough of trying to relax.

“I’m going on ahead. You two can fuck around here as much as you want.”

“Okay! We’ll buy some fruit or something, c’est bien?”

“Okay. Whatever.”

They’ll probably be fine. Polnareff and the old man can handle themselves.

Chapter Text

‘In the end he asked me would I consent to take in the child as well – if he were still alive.’

– Samuel Beckett, Endgame

The hospital is pretty much the same as any other hospital in the world. Weird smell, sharp-bright white lights, pretty standard really. He hates it. Kakyoin, the lucky cunt, managed to get a room alone, and is sitting up in bed with bandages on their face.

“Ah, Jotaro. My favourite dipstick. How nice of you to come to visit.”

“How’d you—”

Kakyoin shrugs. “First off, I can hear your chain a mile away; second, you stink of cigarettes, as usual; third, there’s only one visitor I know of that the nurse would describe as a ‘big hat guy’. It’s not rocket science.”

“Good grief.” He looks around and sits down next to their bed. “You’re fine, then, asshole.”

Another shrug. “My eyes are going to need a few more days.”

“I mean –”

“I know what you mean.” They sigh. “It’s fine. Everything’s fine. I pretended like I didn’t know about it with the doctor, and they checked me out.”

He nods. “Okay?”

“Yeah. It’s… god, it’s real. It’s really happening. I even had one of those fancy ultrasound things, courtesy of the Speedwagon Foundation. It’s healthy, has a real heartbeat and everything. Obviously, I told them not to let anyone else know, not even our companions.” They play with their earrings. “As I suspected, it’s about four months along, give or take a few days. The doctors said –” They laugh, suddenly, almost angrily. “They said I’ll probably start feeling it move in the next couple of weeks.”

“Oh,” he says. He feels himself begin to rock back and forth slowly, thoughtfully. “Cool.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty much what I said.” Kakyoin scratches at their bandage. “I mean, at least I didn’t contract AIDS or anything, so… that’s something, at least.”

“So…” He’s not sure how to ask about their plans for the kid. It’s not like it’s any of his business, anyway. “Do – are you gonna keep it?”

Kakyoin sighs and leans back on their pillows. “Yeah, I think so. It’s not as if I can get rid of it in this country, so it’s better if I can keep it safe from… from anything that might happen, after it’s born. I wouldn't choose to... give it away.”

“Mm.”

“I’m just… god, what am I going to tell my parents?” They run a hand through their hair. “I can’t exactly tell them who the dad is. They don’t even think Hierophant is real, never mind a fucking…. hah, a fucking one-hundred-year old vampire.”

It’s a snap decision. Unlike some of his other snap decisions, he hasn’t really considered any of the possible implications of what he’s suggesting and doesn’t particularly have a motivation other than ‘help Kakyoin’. It doesn’t have the complex feelings or emotions that came with wanting to make sure he wore the right uniform to school, for example, or the wild desperation that prompted him to ask Star for a gun in his prison cell. He just says the first thing that comes into his head.

“You could say it was me.”

Kakyoin does not stare at him, because they can’t. They turn their head towards his voice, though, and give a very good impression of staring without actually using their eyes.

“I mean, after I kill DIO, obviously. But, you know… I’m kind of a delinquent… They’ll probably expect someone like me.” He blushes, and god, it’s been a really long time since he’s done that. He pulls down his hat; thank god Kakyoin can’t see him. “Um. Or not.”

“Jotaro… you don’t even have the right equipment.”

They don’t know that. And thanks so much for reminding me, douchebag.”

“I...” They turn away a little, seeming to look out into the open desert beyond the window. “You wouldn’t want to take responsibility when it’s not yours. No matter how good of friends we are, this isn’t really your problem to solve.”

“I don’t want you to be alone. So I’ll help you out.”

“Fucking hell, JoJo.” Kakyoin sighs and turns their head back towards him. “I can’t get rid of you, can I?”

“Yeah. I mean, no? I mean… whatever.” He clears his throat, stands up, pats his pockets. “Anyway. I’m gonna go have a smoke and wait for the others. Think about it. You know. Let me know.”

“You know, if you’re really that invested in helping me, you could probably start by not having a constant cloud of cigarette smoke around you.”

They’re right, but he doesn’t want to quit just yet. He scowls and pulls down his hat. “Yeah, cherry-fucker, and you should stop putting yourself in dangerous situations. Better not come back before we’ve knocked out DIO, or I’ll fucking… make you go back, fuckwad.”

Kakyoin chuckles a little and shakes their head. “I can’t promise anything… asshole.”

 

There’s an explosion somewhere off in the distance while he’s smoking; an old gas leak or something maybe. Then the old man and Polnareff arrive, yelling something about ‘taking a shit in the desert’, and he ignores it mostly. Probably another of Polnareff’s bathroom adventures.

Kakyoin, the unwashed shitsack, promises the others they’ll be back within a couple of days.

Chapter Text

‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.’ – Matthew 10:34

Getting stabbed in the gut, he thinks, is like having a period again. They both make you bleed, and neither is enjoyable. Unlike before, however, he doesn’t crumple into a ball: he’s a man now, has to grit his teeth and not fall over. Everything is going fuzzy, but he manages to ask Polnareff to get the old man. (Fuck, it hurts.)

“Jotaro? Are you all right?”

“Got a fuckin’… sword in me.” He sways slightly. “Not good.”

“Okay, kiddo, we’re gonna get you to the hospital, all right? Jotaro? Can you walk?”

The black spots are really fun to watch, why is the blob distracting him?

“Mmno,” he manages, eloquently. He needs to tell someone about Kakyoin. “Jii-san…DIO… dad.”

“Your dad?” Joseph puts Jotaro’s arm over his shoulder, somehow supporting his body weight easily. “I think he’s still on tour, the bastard. Can’t even be bothered to visit his own wife when she’s sick.”

No, not that. Not his dad. “No…”

He is still bleeding, and some vague thoughts appear in his mind about what that means. “Not gonna have kid,” he says, woozily. “Kakyoin.”

“What? What are you talking about? Jeez, you really are losing a lot of blood. Come on, we’re nearly there.”

 

“Mister Kujo,” says the doctor, “can you hear me?”

Who’s Mister Kujo?

“Mister Kujo? Jotaro Kujo?”

Oh yeah. It’s him. Weird to be called the same thing as his dad. Nice, though.

“I c’n hear you.”

“Ah, good.  How are you feeling?”

There is a vague prickling in his abdomen, but otherwise nothing. Those are some good ass painkillers. “Fine.” He blinks. The fuzzy shapes around him align into a doctor and Joseph Joestar, standing over him looking sweaty. He frowns. “Got stitches?”

“Ah, yes.” The doctor pushes up his glasses. “Well, the good news is that your bladder and intestines avoided most of the brunt of the blade. The bad news is that the blade was seriously contaminated, and so…”

“Tell me.”

Joseph Joestar coughs. “Well, erm… I had to give my permission for some delicate procedures. It was this or risk losing you. As it was, you’ve been out for a day or two.”

“Indeed.” The doctor pats his hand in what’s probably meant to be some sort of comforting gesture. “To put it bluntly, due to the nature of the injury we were forced to remove your uterus.”

He blinks. Honestly, he had almost forgotten that he had a uterus in the first place; after the testosterone stopped his periods, he had more or less ignored the lower half of his body completely. This… honestly, it’s more-or-less ideal. “Okay. Cool.”

“You’re… you’re fine with it?” Joseph sighs and wipes his forehead. “Well, that’s all right then. We thought you might… want to keep it. In case…”

“It’s fine.” He prods at the bandages on his abdomen reflectively. “So it didn’t get my bladder, but it got that?”

The doctor nods. “Almost straight through. The blade pierced you at exactly the right angle, if I may say so. You are extraordinarily lucky not to have risked anything worse, and even so you may regret this later in life. As it was, we had a difficult enough time making sure there was no infection.”

He looks down again. “Okay. Can I go now?”

“Steady on, Jotaro, you nearly got disembowelled!”

The doctor frowns. “You… shouldn’t be moving around much right now, not for the next couple of days, but…”

He turns to Gramps. “Should find DIO as quick as possible, or all of this’ll be for nothing, right?”

“Well, yes, but…”

“Come on, old man.” He sits up and swings his feet over the bed. “I’ll just keep the stitches clean myself. Easier that way.”

“Jotaro…”

He turns to the doctor. “Do I need meds or whatever?”

“Erm… well, we weren’t sure what other medication you were taking…”

With a grunt, he takes off one shoulder of his jacket and shows the doctor his patch. “Just that. Nothing bad.”

“Well, erm…” The doctor writes a few notes on his clipboard. “Unless you need pain medication, there’s nothing else I can think of…”

“I’ll be fine.”

Another note. “Very well, then. If anything at all goes wrong, please get to a hospital immediately. And make sure to tell them about that, because it can have very adverse effects on other medication…”

He stands up, only losing his balance a little bit, and turns towards the door. “Yeah. Come on, gramps.”

“Er…right…”

Chapter Text

‘…under the influence of what feeling does a man, with no apparent advantage to himself, decide to subject himself to danger and, what is more surprising still, to kill his fellow men?’

– Leo Tolstoy, The Raid

He finds himself in a strange city, with a weird prickly pain in his tummy, in clothes that are much too big for him. There’s a big weirdo standing over him who has flippin’ bells in his hair and looks like he’s threatening the weird naked French kid.

“Ha! I win, Polnareff, Jotaro! You will never be able to defeat me now that your favourite heavy hitter has lost his Stand!”

He doesn’t know who the weird guy is talking about, but he does know that guys who mess with kids like him are Not Okay. He can talk now, more than he used to be able to, and he uses his words to their full advantage.

“Good grief. I’m gonna kick your butt.”

“Oh? Is the little girl going to try and stop me?”

He sees red. First all the kids in school, now this guy. Seems like everyone’s been calling him a girl lately, even his mother. It’s flippin’ annoying.

“Ora Ora Ora!”

So, he punches the weird guy in the face. A lot. And he keeps punching him, even when Star comes back, even when he realises who and where he is, because ten years of frustration have suddenly come back to haunt him in the form of this perverted old man. Eventually, Polnareff grabs his arms and wrestles him away.

“All right, Jotaro, mon ami, come on…”

“The fucking pervert called me a fucking girl. I’m gonna fucking kill him. He doesn’t deserve to have a fucking Stand.”

Mon dieu, Jotaro, I understand. I didn’t like some of the names he called me either, but you have to be the better person.”

“J. Geil.”

He feels Polnareff flinch. “That is exactly why I stop you, mon ami. I rushed into something that caused my – that caused Avdol to be severely injured, and I regretted it. I still regret it. It is not wise to seek retribution – not so violently as this!” They gesture towards the pulp of the pervert’s face. “This is too much.”

He growls. It feels good, the sound rumbling in his throat, but he’s still fucking pissed. He jerks and struggles against Polnareff’s hold. “Ten years, Pol. I’ve known I was a guy for longer’n that, and everyone still fucking calls me a girl. Am I a fucking girl to you?”

“No, Jotaro, of course not…” Polnareff holds his shoulders tight, too tight, bringing his awareness back to the now, to them and their stupid hair.

Mais, I had a hard time also. I didn’t know what it was called, being neither male nor female. I did not know how to exist in the space between the two. And of course, people made fun of me and called me bad names. But… we cannot always change what other people think of us. I’m sure Kakyoin would say the same. We have to ignore them and continue to be ourselves, no matter what, bien? That is the most profound act of defiance against such people.”

He’s still breathing hard, but he focuses on Polnareff’s half-heart earring – they’re missing one, he notices – and tries to calm himself down.

“He’s a pervert. He creeped on a child.”

Oui. He is not like us in that respect. His kind casts a shadow on people like us, who only wish to live as we are: he wished for power and disgusting things. We are not disgusting, we will never be as disgusting as that. We are not that person. We are only ourselves and must fight to be ourselves. People like him will not, will never win. I promise you that.”

He nods. The adrenaline ebbs away.

“Okay. Fine.”

Bien. Now, come on, we should go and find the others, non?”

“Yeah. Let’s go. And, good grief, get some clothes on, you dick.”

 

Avdol and Joseph don’t talk about what happened to them. When Polnareff asks, the only comment Avdol makes is something about how they shouldn’t hold anything against him.

“I mean that, of course, in the most literal sense.” He chuckles slightly. “No harm done, though, eh, Mister Joestar?”

Joseph, unusually for him, doesn’t say a word.

Chapter Text

‘For it is the bold man who always succeeds in his enterprises even if he comes from far away.’

 – Homer, The Odyssey

DIO is in Cairo. They learn this incredibly useful fact with less than a week to go before Holy’s clock stops ticking, and none of them are particularly happy about leaving the final step of their journey undecided for so long. But they get there, with no more turning-into-children or anything else, and they’re all even more fucking tired of this shit than usual.

So, of course, some fuckhead takes the opportunity to take their souls. Their actual souls, for god’s sake. Polnareff and the old man take the first hit, and their bodies definitely don’t look healthy like that. They’re – fuck, they might actually be dead.

Then Jotaro remembers that he just got turned into a child and that somewhere out there, someone with cuts on their eyes is carrying the child of a 100-year-old vampire and his stepbrother: if those two things are real and possible, then anything is. For all he knows, he has a fucking winning hand just by some sort of undiscovered ancient voodoo magic. He remembers that Avdol came back from the dead, and how that damn mutt eats coffee-flavoured chewing gum, of all the fucking shit.

(How does poker work, again? It’s about matching cards somehow, right?)

“Good grief. I stake my soul on this.”

He keeps his cool. Star helps, too: brings him a drink, lights his cigarette. He stares at D’Arby’s hands and reminds himself that he’s been haunted by a purple ghost who brings him gifts since he was on the verge of puberty, and that this Star put him in prison – or rather, he put himself in prison with Star’s ‘help’. He repeats to himself that Star can extend his fingers really far for no reason.

“Raise. My soul and Avdol’s.”

He tells himself that his great-great-grandfather would probably be turning in his watery grave right now, if his body wasn’t attached to someone else’s head. Maybe it is turning right now, and somewhere in Cairo the head of DIO is having a restless day.

“I see your bet with the soul of Kakyoin Noriaki, and raise you the soul of my mother, Holy Kujo.”

Maybe aliens exist, somewhere. Or zombies. Or muscly rock guys – nah, that’s too ridiculous.

He doesn’t look at the cards. Star sends comfort and warmth from inside him, and he stays as still as he can, trying not to give anything away.

He wins. Too bad they can’t interrogate the guy anymore.

 

They keep looking. Holy is getting worse, because of course she is. And, naturally, they get into a car crash, because why wouldn’t they?

At least they’re all still alive. At least they have some sort of lead, with the rich beggar driving off to find DIO. At least they don’t always look homeless.

And then, just like that, they see the bloody wreckage of the rich beggar’s car. Fuck.

The damn dog is back, limping, and –

“I believe that dog is trying to show you something,” says Kakyoin, the absolute shitnoodle.

Chapter Text

‘Some like failure

Some like success

Some like Yes Yes

Yes Yes Yes.’

 - Muriel Rukeyser, Yes

They haven’t changed much since he last saw them a couple of weeks ago. They wear sunglasses now and have a pair of cool scars on their eyes, but they’re not showing at all, and actually look flatter than usual. Brickhead. Dickmuffin. Wanker. Cock.

He doesn’t remember exactly what he says to them, but he’s pretty sure his entire body is communicating his extreme displeasure to Kakyoin while also not looking particularly out of the ordinary to the others. Kakyoin shrugs at him, as if to say, ‘what are you gonna do now, cockmuncher, you can’t say anything when we’re literally on DIO’s doorstep’. Tongue-fucker. Overcooked celery. Scruffy-looking nerfherder. Ass-wagon.

He has half a mind to simply pick Kakyoin up princess-style and deposit them somewhere safe; if he had had time, and if his mother hadn’t been about to die, he would do. But then, if his mother hadn’t been about to die, none of them would be in this shitty situation in the first place. Trash banana. Pillock. Turd blossom. Clod.

He doesn’t say anything. If they wanna risk it, that’s their choice. Dicknose.

On arrival inside the mansion, he learns two things: Kakyoin is much, much better at video games than anyone he’s ever met (the fucking otaku), and his own grandfather knows more about modern technology than he does.

He’s never really tried a Famicom or whatever it’s called and is mostly happy to let Kakyoin take the wheel. (Literally. It’s a fucking car game.) They do a whole lot better than he probably would’ve, and he’s beginning to think it might not have been a bad idea for them to come along after all.

Until they fucking admit defeat like a bitch.

Motherfucker.

Kakyoin having their soul removed is not in any way good for the baby. Well, whatever. It’s not like it’s his kid, anyway. Cumstain. Moron. Douchebag. He has to take off his hat for this, and no one messes with his hat and gets away with it.

Thank god for the lucky bastard of an old man and his knack for cheating his way out of any and every situation.

(Good grief. The absolute cuntsucker doesn’t even acknowledge they were fucking dead.)

Chapter Text

‘Think of the wretches who in your experience have borne the heaviest load of sorrows, and I will match my griefs with theirs.’

- Homer, The Odyssey

The idiot Nukesaku is… there.

(He’s not like that, is he? Two faces, one boy, one girl? He isn’t some sort of walking joke… Or maybe he is. Maybe everyone is laughing at the girl called Joriko behind his back. Maybe they see one face when he’s there, and one face when he’s not. Fuck.)

Avdol and Iggy are dead. It’s real this time. Polnareff saw Avdol disappear into the void with their own eyes, witnessed Iggy’s final, painful breaths, and Jotaro grieves the man who called him by his name where even his grandfather had hesitated for a while. It’s kind of sad the dog had to die as well, of course, but… it hasn’t actually done anything this entire trip. He can be forgiven for thinking more about the mentor figure that Avdol has become.

They move on. They don’t have time for more. Polnereff has seen… something of DIO’s stand, not quite teleportation or illusion, but something else. As if he is capable of manipulating reality itself…

Regardless, they get to DIO’s room, and it’s just as he expected. A coffin, candles, spiderwebs, the whole shebang. Clearly DIO hasn’t heard of originality. Or taste. He’d laugh, if their lives weren’t on the line. He’d laugh, if DIO’s fucking demon powers were any less genuinely terrifying.

Jumping out of the window probably isn’t the best idea, but it’s all they have left: DIO will undoubtedly murder them if they stay, and it’s nearly night time.

And then… Polnareff, the idiot, runs off like a hero.

“Old man. Maybe it’s better if we split up.”

Joseph nods. “We might be able to trap him, if the two groups go in different directions, so…”

“You go with Pol,” he instructs, with absolute certainty. “Then we attack him pincer-style.”

“Got it.” Joseph gives a brief thumbs-up and runs after Polnareff; he and Kakyoin turn the other way, into the Cairo night.

 

 “Hey, Kakyoin. Did I ever tell you what a shitty person you are?”

Kakyoin tips their head up and sighs. “Still going back to that, are we? Look, Hierophant isn’t just flattening me right now. They’re shielding me. I have an inch of protective covering going under my clothes that can withstand a good beating without allowing harm to my actual body. I’ll only unravel it if I really need to. I’ve had two weeks to develop new plans and defensive techniques, and I won’t fail to keep myself safe. Besides, if I don’t do this, I’d go mad thinking what could have happened. If you’d died – any of you – I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself. I mean, look at Avdol.”

“We won’t die.” He scowls at them, watching their cherry earrings bounce in the wind. He doesn’t admit that he’s come prepared too, with whatever books he can find stuffed into his hat, his shirt, pressed uncomfortably tight to his chest inside the shirt-thing and feeling oddly precarious balanced in his clothes. “We wouldn’t have needed your help. Should have kept safe.”

They whirl around suddenly, stopping to point straight in his face. “Look, asshole, I’ve got to do this! Don’t you see? This isn’t just out of some sense of misplaced pride, or wanting to prove myself, okay? DIO took everything I had from me – my sense of self, my free will, my fucking virginity, dammit! He took everything that I could be proud of and made it his own! I have to do this, to regain some sense of – of honour, dammit, of self-respect!”

They turn away, massaging their forehead with their hand. “He fucking raped me, Jotaro. And I didn’t even realise it was happening, didn’t realise it had happened, for months. I’m not gonna let him get away with that. I have to see this through, get my revenge somehow. You should understand that, because I am not going to go back to safety. I can’t, not now. I can’t.”

He stands there for a while, watching the back of Kakyoin’s head. They might be shaking, but he isn’t sure – can’t tell, even with less than a meter between them. He clenches and unclenches his fists, runs his thumb back and forth across his knuckles. There’s something on his face. A drop. When he speaks, his voice doesn’t come out quite right.

“Kakyoin, I… I’m sorry.”

At last, they sigh, and start walking again towards their destination. “If you really think I’m that much of a shitty person, you should go catch up with your grandfather. Or piss off. I don’t care. I’m going to confront DIO.”

He makes his decision.

He steps forward.

Chapter Text

‘Something else is alive

Beside the clock’s loneliness’

 - Ted Hughes, The Thought-Fox

Early evening, 16th of January 1989. They meet DIO on a rooftop. He’s been chasing them, instead of Gramps as they had hoped: with only the minimum of discussion, they’ve been trying to lead him in the right direction – on a motorbike, and then on foot and by Stand. So far, DIO’s deflected the Emerald Splash several times without even trying, and neither of them wants to risk anything more yet.

Eventually, Kakyoin stops and gestures him to stand just out of range of them. They’ve barely said a word to him so far, and he’s pretty sure they’re still mad at him. He said some pretty dumb stuff, he can admit, even before they got to DIO probably. Maybe it’s been building up, all this time, and they’ve only now been able to voice their feelings.

(There’s something odd about them now, but he can’t put his finger on it – something slightly different, like in the fight with Temperance, but whatever it is, it’s hard to tell –)

He does what they want. Pretends to be resting, on the lookout, with his hands in his pockets, feeling the warmth and the texture of the internal fabric, tapping one foot on the ground thoughtfully. For a moment, Star fades into existence, but Kakyoin puts their hands in an X shape. Okay. That’s fine. They have a plan.

And, as expected, DIO strolls onto the scene as if he’s out for a walk in the park, swaying his hips and allowing the city lights to glint off his perfect, sharp teeth.

“Ah, Kakyoin, Jotaro. How nice to see you.”  He inspects his long, sharp nails. “I suppose you want to face me on your own, traitor, is that it? Some foolish desire to… get your revenge? I expect that’s why you had Jotaro stay out of your way.”

(And even he, DIO, calls Jotaro by his name, and he feels a little sick to hear those hallowed syllables coming from the vampire’s dirty mouth.)

“Something like that,” replies Kakyoin, without a hint of fear. “I plan to expose the secret of your power.”

“Is that so?” DIO’s teeth flash, his voice burning with hatred. “How naïve. I expected better, Kakyoin.”

He steps forward – and is immediately assaulted with an Emerald Splash.

Kakyoin wags a finger side to side. “Not so fast. I have set up tripwires in a twenty-meter radius around this body, set to trigger the Emerald Splash. Every move you make, I will be able to sense it. Your The World is close-range, so you’ll have to come closer to stand any chance of hitting me.”

Jotaro hadn’t even seen the trap being set up. Goddamn, they’re good.

DIO shakes his head and chuckles slightly. “Ah, Kakyoin. Now that is more like it. If only you had done this against Jotaro in the first place. I must commend you for your continued bravery – or should I say, stupidity?”

Kakyoin shrugs. “Perhaps it is stupidity, now that I’m expecting a child.”

“I always knew you were a slut.”

(Fucks’ sake – Star pulls at his chest – but he has to leave it, he has to trust in Kakyoin’s judgement –)

“DIO,” says Kakyoin, staring the vampire straight in the eye, “it’s your baby—”

There is a flicker, and suddenly DIO is standing just in front of Kakyoin, and pieces of Hierophant Green are falling all around them, and there is a bloody hole in Kakyoin’s stomach.

He’s too far away –

Fuck.

Kakyoin… dissolves into tentacles.

That’s not normal.

A voice rings out from all around him – Kakyoin’s voice – and he realises what just happened, even as Kakyoin begins to explain.

“Surprised, DIO? Confused? As well you may be. You see, not only did I trap that twenty-meter radius – I created a doppelganger version of myself from part of Hierophant’s arm as bait for your attack. Not enough to hold up against even one punch, as you can see, but enough to give the illusion that I was standing there. Even Jotaro was fooled by the facsimile, as I managed to replace myself so accurately.” They laugh, the echoes bouncing around the surrounding buildings like a deflected Emerald Splash.

“And now, DIO, you are at a disadvantage: not only do you not know where I am, I have figured out the secret of The World. I realised it in that split second after you punched my doppelganger. You see, you cut all of Hierophant’s tripwires at once: I did not feel even a split-second difference between that and your punch. That can only mean one thing: your Stand can stop time.”

The tentacles fade away, and Jotaro stares, and rubs the fabric of his sleeves between his fingers.

Holy shit.

Of course. Of course, it all makes sense. He had thought, back in the mansion, that Polnareff’s description of events sounded as if DIO could manipulate reality: of course, time powers would let him do that. Of course. DIO stands there, fuming, one hand on his hip, all his anger directed at the place Kakyoin’s doppelganger was before. Finally, he speaks.

“Very clever, my dear Kakyoin. Very clever indeed. However –” He turns to face Jotaro, murderous and sharp-voiced. “The others do not know that. It will be a piece of cake to take them out before you two can catch up to me, and then I will be able to defeat you properly. I hope you realise that you have just betrayed Joseph Joestar and that French fool to their doom… traitor.”

Jotaro blinks – and DIO is gone.

Chapter Text

‘And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’

 - Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

“Kakyoin? Where are you? Are you – are you okay?”

“I’m here. I’m fine.” Kakyoin steps out from behind a nearby water-tower. They must have been pretty quick to get past Star Platinum’s fast and precise vision – but then, of course, he had been focusing on the dummy, not the real thing. He hadn’t thought to look for anything else. When had they replaced themselves? It must have been after the two of them started using their stands to move around…

Apart from their now-broken arm, held awkwardly at their side, Kakyoin only has a few scratches. They look different to the doppelganger, somehow: now that Hierophant is gone and their chest is unrestricted, there’s a small swell in their abdomen beneath the gakuran. He wonders if DIO will notice or care.

“That was… fuck, that was amazing.”

Kakyoin raises an eyebrow. “I got the idea from Iggy, actually. If he could do it, then… Well, anyway, we haven’t defeated DIO yet. But it was nice to finally get back at him, even a little bit.”

“I’m sorry. For everything.” There’re probably better ways to express exactly how he feels – anger, at DIO and at himself, for doubting and hurting Kakyoin; guilt, from the things he said; worry; awe. He can’t find the words; hopes his body language can say it all. (He’s not entirely sure how body language works, but if Avdol can read his mind as easily as he once did, then probably everyone else can, too.) “Didn’t think about what I was saying.”

Kakyoin nods. “Yeah. Thanks. I’m sorry I snapped at you. This is… important.”

“I know.” He nods towards the already distant figure of DIO, bouncing with a golden glow over the rooftops. “You want to beat him senseless with me?”

“It would be my pleasure.”

 

By the time they get to the other two, DIO has already knocked Polnareff into the next street, and is advancing casually on the old man. Jotaro drops down and breaks into a run, because he has to warn Gramps –

“Hey! Old man! Be careful! DIO’s Stand power is –”

“THE WORLD!”

He can’t move. In front of him, Joseph Joestar is reaching out towards him, his mouth open in a silent shout – he hopes Kakyoin isn’t in range of the danger – and DIO –

DIO is only a few meters away from him, sighing dramatically.

“Now, now, that just won’t do. I can’t have Joseph Joestar figuring out the secret of The World before I suck his blood and become one with this body, can I? I’ll just have to kill him before his grandson even has a chance to get the words out of his mouth.”

He. Can’t. Fucking. Move.

DIO takes a knife from the nearby restaurant table and flings it casually towards the old man’s neck. “Ahh, how boring.” He turns towards Jotaro. “Perhaps… yes, perhaps I will kill this one, as well… you don’t mind, I trust, Jotaro? The others I can always put another flesh bud in, but the Joestars – the Joestars absolutely need to die.”

He – moves –

DIO tips his head in a flicker towards his hand. “Hm? Did I imagine a little movement? Tsk. Perhaps… but no, it’s not possible that the boy has the same power as I, DIO. Still… better safe than sorry. I shall need to test him.”

The knife pierces the old man’s throat. Joseph Joestar falls. He can’t get there in time –

DIO jumps away.

And the spirit of Joseph Joestar leaves his body. “Jotaro, Kakyoin. Don’t fight him, he’s too dangerous. Please.”

“But – Old man – his Stand stops time! We can – we can stop this! For Mom!”

The spirit sighs. “Jotaro… if you die, you won’t be able to save her. No one will. You have to survive. Please. You’re my only grandson, I don’t want both of you to die.”

“We’ll stop DIO. Please, Gramps. Don’t –”

“Goodbye, Jotaro…”

DIO turns to Jotaro from the other end of the street with one hand on his hip. “How sweet. Are we quite done? Good. Come at me with all you have, then, Kujo Jotaro!”

He brings out Star Platinum. Kakyoin brings out Hierophant Green. “You have a plan, don’t you? I’ll help, as much as I can.”

A plan is maybe a strong word for it: he has a vague idea of what he can probably do, but that’s enough for now. Maybe, with DIO, he can finally stop holding back. “Can you –”

Hierophant shoots out at lightning speed, tying DIO up where he stands; the vampire sneers. “You think this will hold me? I will break away easily.” He brings out The World.

Jotaro steps forward, closer to DIO. Takes a wide stance, as he has been taught.

“Oh? Are you going to come closer, even though I murdered your grandfather in cold blood?”

“Can’t beat the shit out of you without getting closer.”

DIO chuckles. “Then, by all means… come as close as you like.”

The fight –

Begins.

Chapter Text

‘Do I dare

Disturb the universe?

In a minute there is time

For decisions and revisions which a moment will reverse.’

 – T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Star Platinum punches really hard and really fast and doesn’t stop. The World is pretty much the same, only it uses a different catchphrase (“Useless!”). The big difference is that Jotaro has Kakyoin on his side, holding DIO and his Stand down so that Jotaro can aim punches, not giving the vampire a chance to recover between attacks, battering him down with Star and Hierophant in alternating waves (although Jotaro hates the idea of Kakyoin volunteering themselves as a target).

And, once again, he freezes in mid-punch, and can’t move a muscle. DIO, with a little bit of a struggle, manages to tear himself out of Hierophant’s clutches, and steps closer to Jotaro.

“Now, Kujo Jotaro, let’s see if you really can see what’s happening, shall we? If you can move at all? Let me see, if I come a little closer –”

Star punches out, desperately, and he can move again briefly before –

“Tsk. As I thought. You can move, but only a little bit. Well, then, I can easily defeat you.” DIO pulls out knives. A lot of knives. Where was he hiding all those knives?

(It’s probably best not to ask.)

“Can your Star Platinum deflect all of these, hmm, Jotaro? Let’s see…” DIO throws the knives, handfuls at a time (seriously, where the fuck was he storing them?) towards Jotaro, and they surround him like a ball of spiky death. (At least none of them are aimed at Kakyoin, who hasn’t moved from their spot a few meters away; they probably aren’t interesting to DIO now that he has Jotaro to play with.)

“Time resumes!”

Star… Star actually manages to get quite a few of them, considering. But he’s been knocked off balance – shit, this is going to hurt –

He lands heavily on the ground. It almost knocks him out; he feels the points of the knives digging into his flesh where Star or the manga haven’t been able to stop them. (He can’t black out now, fuck, if he dies –) One of the blades lodges firmly in his sock area; for once, he’s glad he doesn’t actually have a dick.

For a brief moment, everything is still; DIO stands there, poised to check whether or not Jotaro is still alive or not, and Jotaro briefly considers some sort of trap to lure the vampire closer. But…

Luckily and unluckily, Kakyoin is still there, a little bruised from where Hierophant has been torn; DIO turns towards them without bothering to check for signs of life from Jotaro. He feels something wrap around his wrist tentatively, his pulse beating against the glowing green thread, a subtle reassurance that he’s alive.

And Kakyoin nods, almost imperceptibly, when he looks at them; they stand there with their fists bunched and surround DIO with a meter of Hierophant Green, shooting Emerald Splashes from all sides at once. It’s very similar to the knife thing, but only manages to distract DIO long enough for Jotaro to bring out Star Platinum again.

It’s useless, of course. Everything is useless against the mighty DIO.

Admittedly, the vampire seems to be flagging now, under their combined attacks, but he won’t be for long – they’re still close to Joseph, and if DIO gets his blood it won’t be good. Still, he tries, and Kakyoin tries. Every time DIO makes a move towards Joseph, Jotaro repels him; every time DIO tries to stop time and run away, Kakyoin manages to use Hierophant to drag him back and batter him with emeralds.

Then, The World and DIO disappear suddenly. He and Kakyoin stand back to back with a shield of Hierophant around them and Joseph; it’s so quiet he’s not sure whether time is stopped or not. The people that were around in this area have all disappeared or been killed, somehow; he’s not sure if any of them managed to call the police before they went.

DIO drops a road roller on him.

(The fuck?)

And at last, he stops time for himself. It’s weird. Kind of tingly. He punches the road roller away and manages to rescue both Joseph and Kakyoin, not without a little effort; then, he looks at the injured DIO, and thinks of his mother, of the flesh buds, of Kakyoin’s baby. Of all the shitty stuff that DIO and his cronies have done over the past fifty days, the past four years since DIO was pulled out of the ocean.

Beside him, Kakyoin, a little confused but ready nonetheless, charges up one final Emerald Splash.

His Stand hits really hard and really fast among the emeralds, and DIO breaks into pieces.

After all of that – they win.

Chapter Text

‘O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done’

- Walt Whitman, O Captain! My Captain!

Him and Kakyoin and the old man, as well as the undead remains of DIO, end up in the same ambulance, all crammed in somehow. He has several broken bones, and has to reassure the doctors that yes, it was caused by being hit very hard, not by the fucking boy drugs, thanks. Kakyoin sits beside him and boggles.

“Tell me again – you stopped time? And that’s how you rescued us from the steamroller?”

Star Platinum gives them a thumbs-up. “Ora!”

“Yeah,” Jotaro nods, “we did.”

(It might’ve been nice to know Star could do that at the start of the trip. Oh well.)

“Jesus fucking Christ. You stopped time, you fucking asshole. That’s… incredible.”

“Yeah.” He pats Star on the shoulder, feeling a corresponding tap just beside his birthmark. “We did good, right?”

Kakyoin shakes their head. “Star deserves a fucking medal.”

“Mm.”

They’re barely injured, thank God – Hierophant’s ability to act as bodily protection means that Kakyoin escaped with mostly cuts and bruises and a sprained ankle, as well as the arm that DIO broke for them. He got the worst of it, what with the knives and getting punched really hard a lot. He might or might not have a concussion.

“So, uh...” Kakyoin clears their throat. “What’s it like, anyway? Stopping time, I mean?”

“Umm…” He thinks about it. “It’s… prickly, but nice. Quiet, when DIO isn’t blabbering. Like being underwater. There’s no noise, no one touching me that I don’t want to, and I don’t have to talk or anything. It’s… peaceful. Shame I can only do it for a couple of seconds, really.”

“...huh.” They kick their feet gently. “Cool.”

The paramedics are muttering over Joseph, and he tries to listen in, but ow. Whoever’s attending him isn’t being very gentle. “Hey. You gotta help the old man.”

“Yes, we’re doing everything we can. Don’t worry, he just needs a few stitches and a little blood.”

He nods, waits. Rubs the cloth on the ambulance bed between his fingers. Somewhere in the front of the car, the radio starts up.

“We have located Polnareff, I repeat, we have located Polnareff. They’re unconscious, but alive. We’re taking them to the hospital now.”

“Looks like we won’t need that helicopter after all.”

“Is Mister Joestar alive?”                                                                                

“Yes, we’re doing our best to heal him. He should wake up soon.”

He sits with Kakyoin, listening to the chatter, and sighs. Everything’s loud and annoying, but he’s alive, and too tired to care about much else. Kakyoin’s hand inches closer to his; gently, they lay it over his own. “We’re alive.”

“Uh-huh.” He stares down at their hand vacantly. Okay. That’s happening. Nice. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” They stroke the hair away from their face. “I’ve been thinking about what to do next. About… you know. That.”

He nods. Yeah. That. “What you thinking?”

“I think… Now that he’s dead, I won’t let his influence overshadow me. If I’m going to see this through, it’s going to be on my own terms, not his. So…” Kakyoin hesitates.

“So?”

“Well, first I’m going to tell the others. They deserve to know, after everything we’ve been through together.”

“Mm.” He turns his hand upwards and entwines their fingers in his own. “And then?”

They look down at his hand. “Did you mean what you said back then?”

“Yes.” He rubs their knuckle over and around again with his thumb. “We can say it’s mine. For… for as long as it takes. You won’t be alone. I’ll be your backup in this.”

“You’d really do that?”

“Yeah.”

Kakyoin leans into his shoulder (not the broken one, thank god) with a sigh. “All right,” they murmur. “I’d… I’d like that.”

The world moves on around them, nurses talking, the radio butting in with metallic reports from other places. He listens, tilts his head to rest on Kakyoin’s, waits.

Joseph Joestar wakes up.

And pranks them, the son of a bitch.

Chapter Text

‘And yet, though I miss them all and often grieve for them… I do not mourn that whole company.’

- Homer, The Odyssey

DIO crumbles to dust.

At last, all four of them – Polnareff, Joseph, Kakyoin and him – converge on the airport. They’re going home. They can finally relax, finally think about ordinary things like home-cooked food and the classes they missed at school. They don’t have to worry about Stands – or at least, not as much. They certainly won’t ever have to worry about vampires again.

It’s over.

And it’s time to talk.

“You going to tell ‘em, or am I gonna have to?”

Kakyoin sighs and strokes at the front of their gakuran. “I’ll do it. It’s good practice for… for my parents, I guess. God. I didn’t think… I didn’t know if any of us would actually get this far, to be honest. It’s a bit intimidating.”

“You fucking tricked a 100-year-old vampire into hitting a fake version of yourself.”

“Those two skills are in no way related, asshole. At all.” Kakyoin fixes one of their earrings shakily with their good hand. “Well, at least I’ve got someone on my side now. Thank you.”

He follows them to where the others are standing and takes up a protective stance behind them. Polnareff and the old man look up.

“Are you all right?”

Kakyoin nods. “Yes, I’m fine. I… actually have something to say to you two. Mister Joestar, Polnareff. Jotaro knows already, but…” They take a deep breath.

“Well?” Joseph turns from him to Kakyoin and back again. “What’s the matter?”

“The truth is,” says Kakyoin quietly, “I found out when we were in Varanasi that… that I’m expecting DIO’s child.”

“What?!?”

“Are you serious?”

“Are you sure?”

Mon dieu…”

“Good grief.” Jotaro scowls at the two of them. “It’s true. They had a check-up after their eyes got cut.”

“In Aswan?! But that’s – Kakyoin, you shouldn’t have put yourself in danger like that!” Joseph waves his hands around. “We got attacked every day!”

“That’s what I said.”

Kakyoin clears their throat. “I know. I realise that it was foolish to expose myself to all of those unsafe environments. But…” They bow their head slightly. “I had to make sure that DIO was truly gone from this world, that no one would grow up in fear of him. I had to put myself in danger in the short-term, so that the danger would be gone forever in the long term. I hope you can understand that.”

There is a little gasp and Joseph reaches out to them. “Of – of course we understand that…” A tear runs down his face. “We couldn’t have killed DIO without you, how could we blame you?”

Polnareff nods, their forehead creasing up. “There is nothing to blame, alors…”

(He forgot that both Joseph and Polnareff are unbearably sappy sometimes. Dammit. He takes the chain on his collar into his hand and plays with it peevishly.)

With tears overflowing down into his beard, Joseph pulls Kakyoin into a hug, careful to avoid their cast. “I’m happy for you, Kakyoin, that you did what you felt was right. Congratulations. You’re welcome to stay with us, if…. If you need any help. With anything.”

“Thank you, Mister Joestar. I appreciate it.”

Polnareff hugs them, too, sobbing more than when they were turned into an actual child. “You have to let me be the godparent, bien? I will spoil you both rotten!”

“What’s a ‘godparent’?”

“Ah, you don’t have those in Japan? Well…”

At last, after a lot more tears and hugs – mostly from Pol and the old man – it’s time to go, and Kakyoin pulls away. Polnareff gives them all a solemn salute. “Goodbye, mes amis. I will call and visit as often as I can.”

“We’ll keep in touch,” promises Kakyoin. They all agree. They’ll keep in touch.

Chapter Text

‘The expression on her face instantly changed. Horror and anxiety were suddenly replaced by an expression of quiet, serious, and blissful attention. He could not understand the meaning of this change. She was feeling the stirring of new life inside her.’

 – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

“So… you two seem very close now,” says the old man, on the plane. “Anything else you’d like to tell me?”

There is an uncertain pause.

“It’s all right,” Joseph continues. “I understand. It’s not an ideal situation, but you’ve gone through a lot together, and you’re still figuring things out. I experienced something similar, once upon a time. So if you don’t want to say anything, that’s fine.”

“Well…” Kakyoin coughs slightly. “It’s just that my parents don’t know anything about DIO, and I’d like it to stay that way. So when I tell them about… this, I’ll say it’s Jotaro's. If that’s all right.”

“Hah! I like that!” Joseph rubs his hands together. “You could say you eloped into the sunset.”

He snorts. “Good grief, old man. You have an overactive imagination.”

“Ah, it reminds me of how I met your grandmother… of course, I was already engaged to two other men at the time…”

Kakyoin’s mouth drops open. “Pardon? Did I hear that right, Mister Joestar?”

Joseph waves a hand. “Ah, it won’t interest you young folks. Anyway, I must admit, I wasn’t expecting great-grandchildren so soon…”

Jotaro chokes – “Hold on, old man –”

“– or at all,” continues Joseph, ignoring him completely, “since you don’t have a uterus anymore.”

“Wait, what? You don’t have a – what? Why didn’t you say something?”

Jotaro pulls down his cap. “We were about to get murdered by a hundred-year-old vampire.”

“Yes, but still…how?”

He shrugs. “I got stabbed. By an evil possessed sword.”

“Oh, of course, that makes total sense…” Kakyoin shakes their head. “Well, anyway, it’s over now, so we don’t have to worry about that sort of thing so much.”

“It was a good trip, wasn’t it?” Joseph leans back in his seat a little with a sigh. “I’m glad we were there to see it through.”

“Yeah.”

Kakyoin nods and goes back to looking out of the window for a while. Their mouth twitches.

“Ah…”

Joseph looks up from his magazine. “What’s the matter? Not feeling well?”

Kakyoin shakes their head, a strange expression coming over their face. “No, I… I think I just felt it move. The baby. I – wow...”

“…whoah.”

“Holy shit!”

The flight soars on into the east. And Jotaro drums his fingers against the armrest happily, looking with hope into a brand-new day.