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and every April is a gift

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Tanto auguri a te...

Mista's voice echoed through the major office of the Boss of Passione gang.

Tanto auguri a te... Tanto auguri caro Giorno! Tanto auguri a te!!!

Six little yellow beings circled Giorno, celebrating his Don's sixteenth birthday. The user had a cupcake with a candle lit with him.


"That's very kind, Mista. Thanks for the pastry."

"It was Cinque who chose this flavor in Donna Salute's confectionery!"

"Oh, really?..." Giorno patted the little Pistol’s cheek, who received it with a flush in its face and a big smile. The other Pistols began to demand attention and affection, their little voices exclaiming for justice, teamwork and pieces of the blonde's cupcake. "Okay, okay, you all are to be congratulated!"


"Oi, oi, don’t eat Giorno's pastry! It’s for his birthday!” It was late, Tre and Sette had already eaten the cream of the cupcake. Mista snorted and shrugged. "That was a disaster. If you want, I'll give you another cupcake, or whatever you want."


Giorno's eyes lit up. "Whatever I want?"


"Yes, whatever you want! Well, I don’t know if there's anything else you want at this point, but a man should always have desires inside him, doesn’t he?"


É vero. I have a special wish.”


“All right, mio amico, just tell me which pastries you want.”


"I don’t want any pastry. I want a driver's license."


Mista looked seriously at his Boss, made a funny face, biting his lower lip and turning red on his cheeks, until he could not stand it and burst out laughing.


"What's it?"


"Really? This is what you want? Be serious, Giorno! Nothing has kept you from driving illegally until today, why do you want a driver's license?"


Giorno made a little mouthful and looked slightly embarrassed at his request's reaction.


"I know... But before I didn't even have the money to pay for the driver's exam..."


"Giorno, you are the Don of a gang. Drive anywhere in Italy with so many stolen vehicles you could steal, or whatever. What can stop you? A blitz on the highway?"


"I want to drive overseas as well. I didn’t like relying on taxis in New York City last month, while sixteen-year-olds in America already have their provisional license. If there’s anything good about completing sixteen, then it’s my desire to be a licensed driver."


"Well, then we better move to America."


Giorno glanced curiously at his Underboss. "What is this reasoning, Mista?"


"Giorno, you have to turn eighteen to apply for a driver's license on Italian territory."

 

"So just get me a chocolate pudding."


At sixteen you can watch almost every title at the movie theater.

Chapter Text

"Glad I got here without delay!" Trish Una shone in the main door of the building that served as Passione's headquarters, hand luggage on one wrist, and the other hand occupied with a wheeled suitcase. Prada sunglasses and a beige trench coat firmly wrapped around her waist disguised the woman's jet-leg tiredness, which had come straight from Indonesia on a recent Asian tour. "Where is Your Excellency Birthday Boy of the day? Is he untouchable now and can't receive his own friend?"


"Please, Una, stop the scandal scene. The Don will greet you personally" Pannacotta Fugo was serious, trying to escort the singer up the stairs.


"Vergine Maria, I ain't gonna have any hugs, Panni?"


Fugo just went up the steps a little ahead of the woman, his head down.


"Ah! She arrived! Trish! Trish!" At the top of the stairs, leaning on the mezzanine grid, waved Guido Mista. "Leave those bags to Fugo and hurry up to see Giorno before he goes to bathe again."


"Again?" Trish echoed, a curious smile on her face as she practically dropped the luggage on Fugo's lap. The blonde gangster just murmured 'what I could expect from her' and collected the suitcases.


"Giorno! I have arrived!" Quickly, the woman entered the Don's quarters without hesitation, walking through the larger office, passing the small living room and invading the bedroom - which was, sometimes, used for sleeping. Mista was right behind her, smiling, his Sex Pistols clutching at the singer's pink hair and giving their own compliments to the old friend. Fugo remained in the living room, watching the luggage on the floor and deciding whether or not to use the Boss's phone to call the housekeeper to take Trish's belongings to a guest room.


"Oh! Trish!" Giorno Giovanna was sitting on the dresser, his hair partially loose. Mista exchanged a meaningful look with Trish, as if to say 'didn't tell ya he was going to take a shower again'. Giorno spread his arms wide, but didn't seem fully prepared for the woman's strong embrace, which almost made them both unbalanced.


"I have so much to talk about, but it looks like you were going to take a shower. I suppose you'll want to dress for your seventeenth birthday dinner already..."


"Yes, but there is no hurry about it. I actually just wanted to take a shower."


Nuovamente” Mista emphasized. "The second for today."


"Well, at least someone compensates for the baths, doesn't it?" Trish smirked, causing in Mista's face a brief disgusted stare, but soon made them both laugh at the inner joke. The Underboss left the room to attend a call from Fugo. "I think I'll see where my bedroom is and unpack. Ah! That reminds me that I brought you a present, birthday boy! Well, I bought it in the blue color because I didn't know which uniform version you were going to wear for today's dinner..."


"Uniform version?"

 

"Yeah, like, what color or pattern would you choose for dinner, but then I remembered..."


"Excuse me, Trish, but I don't have anything like an uniform."


"Of course, Giorno, the one you always wear."


"I think Trish is talking about your suits, Gio", Mista said, entering the room again, now with a Fugo on the phone.


"Yeah, I really wanted to know what unique tailor is that who makes your uniforms in so many wonderful versions, Giorno", Trish commented absently.


"I already said it's not an uniform. And I hate to repeat myself. I have several suits, it's a fact. I like various colors. And I sew small details on them, it's a hobby."


“Wow, that’s new info, blonde! Did you customize your uniforms a long time ago?”


“Not. Uniform. Just. Distinct. Suits.”


The Don's stern tone slightly irritated Trish. "That's exactly what I said, since I didn't know what uniform's color scheme you were going to wear tonight, I bought a turquoise blue clip for you, in Indonesia. I wish you'd wear it in your hair..."


Giorno didn't let those comments about his suits go blank. He rose from the dressing table and opened the doors of the built-in closet on the opposite side of the bed. "I don't have any uniform!"


The blonde turned dramatically to his friends, who peered into the small closet. On one side, a wall-length shelfcase with pairs of shoes, ranging from plain slippers and plush slippers to thin-tipped shoes and some high heels from famous designers. On the other side, a long clothes rack with dozens of suits and pants, with a shelf below where some boxes arranged delicate or out of season pieces. The Don suits were all similar in cut and mold, in a dozen different colors, some in floral, plaid or scratched patterns, and most of them with a noticeable window cleavage.


"Una is correct. They are versions of the same uniform", Fugo stated, with the look of one who is admiring a masterpiece in the museum and trying to formulate something clever to comment on. Trish burst out laughing, and Giorno, confused, turned his face into the closet, studying his own clothes closely.


"Well, it's the guy's style." Mista shrugged, a half smile on his lips. "I also have my style, I can't deny that crop tops have become my trademark. Men fashion also rocks."


"Mista, I won't even comment on your notion of style", Trish retorted as approached the closet. "Giorno, angelo mio, I'm not saying that this is bad, only that it is what it is. I think you're super fashion, indeed. I can imagine that the wardrobe of a mafia boss doesn't allow much space for creativity beyond the variation of fabrics, appliques and prints."


"Really, GioGio, I myself only have eight suit sets in different colors. It's practical" Fugo tried to help, apprehensive that his Boss was feeling criticized by his singer friend.


"Vedi! That white one with gold metallic appliqués and hydrangea prints looks great for tonight." Trish removed a coat hanger and laid it over Giorno's torso. "Although the pants seem to be short now. You just don't stop growing!"


Giorno turned to closet's inside mirror, his eyes startled. The Don's three friends approached the blond teen in the mirror, exchanging apprehensive glances. Mista asked "Hey, man, are you okay?"


Giorno continued to stare at the reflected image of himself. "Mio Dio... I do wear uniform."


At seventeen you can enjoy your last months as a state-recognized teenager and be incredibly silly.

Chapter Text

Of all the things Giorno didn't want to do on the day he turned eighteen, one of them was to travel to some point in the Texan countryside in America. Passione's relations with the Speedwagon Foundation were still sensitive, and while young Don wanted to make sure that the joint interests of the two organizations were a stable bridge of work, he couldn't help but be annoyed at the request for the personal presence of the blonde at the foundation's headquarters.


"It's seven in the morning local time. If we're lucky, we'll be back for the birthday party, GioGio", Fugo yawned at his side as the taxi parked in front of an imposing building.


"Who believes in luck is Guido, Pannacotta", Giorno tried to play. "The last time I met the high-ranking Speedwagon Foundation soldiers in Egypt, I had to stay four days away from home just to get a photograph."


Four uniformed officers escorted the two gangsters into the building. After passing through several corridors and sectors, an older man, with the appearance of a university professor, greeted them and dismissed the other officials, leading the two young men to an elevator that descended to a certain subsoil level. The elevator opened into what looked like a gigantic, artificially lit underground vivarium filled with abundant flora and habitat of various insects and small mammals. A blond woman, apparenting to be in her sixties, came to greet them with a smile.


"Ah! Which one of you, which one of you?" she hummed, holding Giorno's face in both hands and pausing to study the boy's features. "Oh, it must be you! Your eyes are very similar to those of my great-grandfather. And the hair is my great-grandmother's!"


"..." Giorno and Fugo looked at each other; Fugo understood nothing of what the woman was saying, and Giorno felt uncertain of what to answer. He had a vague notion that the blonde lady must be talking about his... Parenting issue.


"Well, my dad said you were coming. Bring your cute friend too, I made cake! Let us eat there under the parasol", and the lady, smiling, followed to behind a leafy tree. Giorno and Fugo followed, reluctantly, and caught a glimpse of a white parasol stood on the ground, with a few chairs and people sitting around a table. Several pairs of blue eyes peered at them. Giorno had already seen some of them in archive photographs.


"Oh! The Italian boy arrived. Sit here with us", a very old gentleman with a heavy gray beard and small glasses gestured to an empty seat beside him. The blonde in question recognized Joseph Joestar. "Did you know I had an Italian friend many years ago? He was blond like you, actually. How are the other Zeppeli?" Giorno decided to sit down, not comfortable with the presence of people from that certain family, but didn't want to cause senseless discomfort. Fugo stood behind Don's seat.


"You can dispense your bodyguard," a serious man looked coldly at Fugo. Kujo Jotaro, Giorno remembered having seen him in archives on the extermination of Dio Brando and in photographs that Polnareff had shown him. The boy's immediate response was to remain motionless and clench his fists. "This is a matter of interest only to Jonathan Joestar's descendants."


"Please, Fugo." Giorno shot the subordinate a relieving look. With a hand gesture imperceptible to the others around the table, he signaled to the other blond that he would call him in case of emergency. Fugo turned to the elevator, entered, but didn't make the engineering move an inch from the floor.


"Oh, is it true?" Another pair of pale eyes, now of a young man who must have been about Giorno's age, rose from behind a tower of cupcakes to study the features of the blonde. "You're our relative too! Wait... Are you... Are you my brother?" This young man and the blond woman were complete strangers to the Don. Giorno found the other boy's surprised look slightly comic, which quickly turned into a reproachful look aimed at the old Joestar "You'd better explain, old man!"


"Hmn..." Joseph slowly turned his gaze to Giorno. "I'm not sure..."


"Daddy!" the old lady exclaimed, but the tone of her scolding was confused by the pleasant giggling that escaped from her lips. Giorno, internally, thanked himself for his abilities to maintain a neutral expression under strange situations like this. The younger Joestar, the woman and Joseph seemed to have come up with simultaneous arguments about the old man's chances of betraying his wife, and the quieter Joestar seemed to gradually become irritated. Everyone spoke in English, but the younger Joestar's accent was very strong. Giorno just wanted to know if he could eat a cupcake, after all, it was his birthday.


"Shut up!" Jotaro bellowed, causing silence under the parasol. He cleared his throat and began to speak. "Excuse me, I need silence and I want us to sort it out soon enough. Friday is Easter and I still have to buy the crap chocolates for my daughter. The case is as follows, Haruno Shiobana", the man stared into Giorno's eyes, and the blond almost didn't hide in his facial expression the dislike of being called by the original name. "I didn't want to have to look in your face, and I don't want you to get close to our family, but it's undeniable that Joestar's D.N.A. is present in your organic composition - even if it shouldn't. Pending legal issues would require your participation in Speedwagon's scrips, as it was the wish of the founder, Robert Speedwagon, for Jonathan Joestar's descendants to inherit them. Now that you have reached the age of majority, you can have access to these scrips and a few documents relating to it", and the man threw a heavy, paper-streaked folder on the table in front of Giorno.


"Hmn, excuse me, but... Although I'm aware of the situation... Uh... From my conception..." Giorno paused and looked around the table at the faces, and realized how they were, in fact, somewhat similar to his. "I don't feel a... Descendant like you. I don't meant to be rude, I just don't believe that the mere fact of having, as you said, the genetic code almost identical to the... Uh... Great-Grandfather...?..."


"Grandfather," Joseph replied.


"Great-grandfather," the blond woman turned to Giorno in a lively smile.


"Great-grandfather, too," the boy Joestar said, and Giorno didn't avoid his slightly disbelieving gaze. Well, who was he to find that kinship bizarre...


"It doesn't matter!" Jotaro resumed. Giorno reasoned that the smiling lady should be Jotaro's mother, and that would make her... The other young Joestar's sister. Nothing unusual. "The point is that the law states that you have a part in this heritage of the old Speedwagon. Of course I can always question the law." Giorno agreed that the law could always be questioned.

 

"And Grandpa's inheritance as well", Joseph added. Giorno found him a very nice gentleman. "Oh, no... I don't think there's anything else. The mansion burned, I guess..."


"It's the fault of who, huh?" Jotaro glared at Giorno, but the boy couldn't have been more ignorant of what had happened. "You will divide, from today, the percentage of the scrips that fit the Joestars, equally with us. To do so, we need your rubric on the first few papers of the file saying that you are aware of the conditions and conduct of shareholder. So, do us the favor and sign the damn paperwork."


Giorno could do that, signing papers was already part of his routine. However, it was enough to look over the first ten clauses for the blonde to come to a conclusion. "I see", he looked at each Joestar around the table. "But I grant myself the right not to share this responsability as a shareholder. I already have many duties and, given my field of work, I find it very risky to have my name publicly involved with the name Speedwagon."


Jotaro stared at Giorno for long seconds, then took the documents back. "Better than expected. I have no intention of involving the name Joestar with you, boy."


"Jotaro, relax... He is our relative..." the younger Joestar sat in his chair in a relaxed position. Jotaro didn't reply, allowing himself only a horrible grimace on his face.


"Well, if that's the way it is, let's at least eat the cake. Holly said it's your birthday today, boy Zeppeli!" Joseph already made the first move, with a cupcake in his hands. Giorno remained motionless. It was his birthday, and all he wanted was to be at home, with his very family, in fact. "Who knows when we'll meet again, am I right?" And Joseph smiled, the blond boy felt kindness and tenderness exhaling from the old man's small blue eyes. Jotaro snorted, and the other Joestar guy advanced on the sweets on the table.


"It's your birthday! It's not every day a birthday is celebrated!" And the woman, Holly was her name, practically stuck a cupcake in Giorno's mouth. "Congratulations, Uncle-Grandpa!"


"Uncle-grandpa!", the other Joestar echoed his older sister.


Joseph laughed a little, pieces of cake stuck in his gray beard. "Ha ha ha, really! You're my Uncle Giorno! I love this family!"


"And it's the uncle... Uncle-gran... Hmn, I do not know how to say it in English..." Joseph's son, similar to the old man, also had pieces of cake around his lips and pointed vaguely at Jotaro .


Giorno had no words. And, apparently, Jotaro doesn't either. It was hard to believe that the Joestars were as strange as the Don's gang team. Maybe Giorno naturally attracted bizarre people. Maybe he was so strange himself. The bizarre conception that gave rise to his existence should be a sign that life couldn't be normal. Whatever, at least they had cake.

 

It was his birthday and hell, Giorno will eat that cake.


At eighteen you have the pleasure of facing all the responsibilities of life, but you are still young enough to make mistakes and seek to repair them, and you can until death.

Chapter Text

Giorno snorted. "Of course I can dance. How many formal dinners and parties at the Italian elite maisons have we been? Even that time, at court..."


"No, Gio, that's just old fashion rich people's dance. The whole stupid quadrille, paused and full of arabesques and greetings, that's not what we're talking about", and then Mista mimicked an exaggerated bow to Fugo, who didn't hide his laughter. "Madonna mia, does your fat breasts accept to dance theatrically with this humble grumpy old man?"


"Oh, yes, my good sir", Fugo replied in a falsetto voice, gently hiding the smile behind his flat hand. The blond blinked three times in a shy maiden performance. "But do not squeeze my ass, otherwise our families will go into a gang war under Shakespeare's law."


Though annoyed by their insistence, Giorno laughed at the two friends in such a theatrical act. Mista pulled Fugo by the arm and made him slide, in a mix of tango, mambo and something they must have seen in a movie about operas. Giorno liked operas, had invited Fugo to accompany him once, but, surprisingly, the subordinate detested the genre. Most surprising, on the two occasions that Mista worked as the Don's bodyguard at opera shows, he seemed thrilled by the spectacles. As Fugo almost got off balance and didn't fall to the ground only for a Mista's quick hand helding him, Giorno clapped his hands twice, interrupting the drollery.


"Okay, so what do you, dance experts, think I should know I don't know yet?"


Mista and Fugo exchanged meaningful looks and nodded at each other.


"The first thing to know, ignorant apprentice", Mista began as Fugo turned to plug a small radio on the living room shelf. "...Is to feel the beat. You have to plunge headlong into the music. Fugo, turn it up this shit!" The other blonde agreed with a nod and increased the volume of the device. Giorno couldn't recognize the song, but it should be some remixed American rap or anything similar.


"Another thing is what you're going to wear", Fugo interjected, approaching the two friends. "You can be The Godfather in all of his glory's fashion, but no high heels or very tight clothing, this limits the loose movement you need. Dancing is to expressing yourself, the body needs to relax to express itself."


"Well, it's going to have to work out, I and Trish already plan my birthday outfit for tonight", Giorno shrugged.


"Good luck on that one, Gio, because you'll need to..." Mista whirled and slid one leg, in a semi leg split "...slide to the glory."


Giorno timidly shifted from side to side, nodding slightly to the rhythm of the music. Fugo shook his head.


"GioGio, you're completely tense. You have to relax, this is not ballet. Relax the body. Be the wave."


"Yeah, Gio, be the wave..." Mista echoed Fugo's words, swinging his arms wide open. "Keep those legs off! Bend your knees a little more! Leave your arms free! Move your neck more willingly! Per l'amor di Dio, Gio, uncross your arms! You just cross your arms in a cool move moment!" Mista looked like an army coach and Giorno felt like a recruit who didn’t want to enlist. ‘End my suffer’, the young Don thought.


"Okay GioGio, you're beginning to understand the rhythm of the beat." Fugo gave his Boss an unconvincing smile. "Now move your hips from side to side, like us."


"Hmm... like that?" In Giorno's mind, the boy felt that he was moving his hips, though he seemed to keep his hips in place as he swung his upper torso to the left and right. Mista and Fugo exchanged quick glances. The Underboss sighed and gave the best advice he could:


"You have to put passion on your hips, Gio! Like when you’re making love!"


Fugo instantly hid his red face with both hands. Giorno paused for a moment to laugh. Of course, Mista must have taken that phrase out of some romance movie that involved dancers.


"Hmn, let's skip that part for now" the Underboss scratched behind his own neck. "Concentrate yourself on swinging your arms in straight strokes ahead of you, as I do," and Mista crossed and uncrossed both arms in the air in front of his chest. Fortunately, it was something that Giorno easily mimicked. “Good, good!”


"That's it, GioGio! Stanky leg! Stanky leg!" Now Fugo seemed genuinely excited about Don's progress. The three of them moved differently, and Giorno focused on coordinating arms, crossing and uncrossing them as he approached and move away his own legs, at the same time the blonde was shaking his head with effort and trying keep up with the rhythm of the radio's music. It was even a complex task, but looking at friends laughing and dancing made Giorno forget the mental commands, and went on to make articulate movements without much coordination. Maybe it was the meaning of 'feeling the beat'. And it had to be that, because Mista and Fugo just kept dancing around.


"Yeah, Boss, I think you're now ready to choreograph with us at your birthday party at the nightclub!" Mista applauded enthusiastically, which made Giorno smile without being aware of his own bodily response.


Fugo nodded in approval. "It's practice that leads to perfection!"


Giorno laughed, spontaneously, but the laughter turned into a smirk. "I'll never do that in public, you can forget it."


At nineteen, you thank you for coming of age for many things, but also you still very young to not being a teen-like.

Chapter Text

"Damn, I totally forgot!" From the top of the stairs, Giorno could hear Fugo's voice. The subordinate still cursed himself a few more times, and seemed to be talking to someone. It was Sunday morning, Giorno didn't have to get up so early... Even more on his twentieth birthday. Twenty years. Two decades of life. Life goes by so fast.


"Relax, Panni, everything will work out. We aren't at work today, nor Giorno. It's a shame that Trish is working in France for the organization, but our little blonde will be happy just for us be present on today." Mista's voice was a balm to Fugo's ears, and it was also to Giorno. When did they become this family? Was it the dangerous gang daily life? Were the irreparable losses they shared - lost dreams, stolen futures, deaths of loved ones? Giorno couldn't say for sure. The fact was, all of a sudden, the young friends moved from the line of simple friendship to becoming a family - perhaps what Buccellati most wanted. Oh, Buccellati... "You know what? I'll make lunch today, and I can check if we have enough flour to make a homemade cake."


Fugo was silent for two seconds and then, in the tone of someone who was pleasantly surprised, he said aloud, "One of your cakes! Mista, it's been so long! Last time was on the birthday of..." and the blonde's voice was muted. Giorno felt his own heart tighten a little.


"Yes, Narancia's. You know what... We have to move on. I won't act as if they hadn't existed, nor be stuck in mourning. I just want to remember them fondly because I loved those guys so much. Please, it's been years..." Upon hearing Mista, Giorno let his back rest on the mezzanine wall. It had been five years since these companions had gone. Now he was older than Narancia would ever be, and soon he would have passed the age of Buccellati and Abbacchio. What's the point of celebrating birthdays like that?


"Wow, is there a blond mouse standing here, listening?" Giorno shivered all over; he didn't notice Mista's footsteps on the stairs. The young Don lowered his head to his knees, felt himself trembling a little in his hands, still under feelings of heard conversation - indeed, listened in secret, not out of spite, but simply because he was a boy of silent movements. Mista sat on the floor next to Giorno, also resting on the wall. "Twenty years, then?"


"Yes..." Giorno's voice was muffled beneath his arms and legs. "So I'm going to eat homemade cake today?" Anything to change the subject.


"It's literally a Grandma's recipe, do you know?"


Giorno looked up at Mista, and shook his head in a negative response.


"Oi, Gio... I know your childhood wasn't the best, but there are things that every family does. Birthdays with homemade cake is one of them. Or you tell me that, like Panni, your parents followed a fad of food and wouldn't let you eat cake?" Mista made a funny expression of sudden discovery. "Is it possible... That's why are you addicted to sweets?!"


The Underboss had this incredible ability to make Giorno laugh any day, and the blonde couldn't say clearly whether this was planned by the older man or not.


"No, not at all. Just... I didn't celebrate my birthdays at home. I remember partying at school as a kid. This is no trauma, I really don't care about it now."


Mista said nothing, just stared at the blonde for long seconds and then went to look at the ceiling; who knows what he thought. Giorno laughed softly, and began to digress:


"Although, once, I think I was seven to eight years old... It was the morning of my birthday, or it would be a few days from that, now my memory fails. What I remember is that my stepfather and my mother had left over the weekend to visit some friends in Lacco Ameno, they had a bathhouse or something. And I had a cake recipe in the classbook, from a math problem. So I went into the kitchen to make my birthday cake, since there would be no party in school that time. I had a burn in my fist for trying to get the hot shape without gloves. It was the hardest and most salty cake I ever ate."


Mista chuckled a little, and turned to his friend. "I can't believe it. That was very dangerous, I mean, at that age I was already making breakfast at home, but mia mamma was always around, checking me out. Still, your attitude to following a recipe, so young, is admirable. I don't even know if I read when I was eight..."


"Yeah, it was a waste of time. And then I had to replace the ingredients, otherwise my stepfather would be mad at me." Giorno smiled sadly at his Underboss. "But in the end, birthdays are just a pretext for banquets and drinking, people have little to celebrate being alive."


With a jump, Mista stood up and extended his hand to his Don. "I've never heard such nonsense in one sentence, Giorno Giovanna. And I think you're old enough to make your own birthday cake." Pulling the blond by the arm, the brunette led him to the kitchen of the establishment, promptly throwing on the long workbench several bowls, cutlery of different shapes and a food mixer. Giorno watched it all, with a look of excitement, until Mista extended an apron for him - one with the words 'kiss the cook' on it. The gunman was serious.


"Guido... I just told you my only experience in the confectionery arts, and it was a complete failure. Do you really want to prove that I'm horrible in the kitchen?" Giorno commented, laughing a little, but making his displeasure obvious.


Mista wore the apron he usually wears on barbecues, one with the Sagittarius sign on his front pocket. He smiled at the Don as he put packages of wheat flour on the counter. "No, Gio. I want you to have the experience of living the love of cooking."


Giorno let out another smile. Guido Mista things... The Don couldn't help but wonder how that man spent so much time alone in his life. As he beat egg whites in the food mixer, Mista made himself be heard over the loud noise of the household appliance. "In childhood I learned that in a family everything revolves around the kitchen. It's the hottest place in a house, it's where people gather to share a meal, which is crucial to the human body, it's where food is stored and food is prepared. It is a ritual of warmth, dedication, meeting - it's love in architectural design form", and Mista switched off the mixer to check the consistency of the sugary white cream. "If this isn't love, nothing else is."


"You talk so much about love, Guido", Giorno commented absently as he reached the gems necessary for the continuity of the food mixer's activity. "I wonder how you're not married yet."


The two minutes of the new noise round separated Giorno's comment from its reply. "I'm saving myself for the right person", the Underboss replied, putting wheat flour on the meter cup. Giorno watched, attentively, the older man who carefully mixed yeast with the creamy white mass, adding warm milk gradually, stirring everything with joy and delicacy.


"Why will you mix the bulk with the spoon, when the mixer is right here?" Giorno had already washed the bowl of the appliance; made mention of reaching the object for Mista, but he, with a negative nod, retorted serenely:


"Here's the secret, Gio: we have to convey our desires for the food we're making." Mista fortified his dominant arm with the wooden spoon for a few moments, then passed the bowl with mass to Giorno. "It's your birthday cake, mix it with perseverance and passion, and convey your wishes for the cake dough to become delicious!"


Giorno accepted the task, mixing the whitish contents with the spoon, thinking about what he might want from his birthday cake. 'Well, I hope it should be tasty', Giorno thought. 'May my dear fellows be satisfied with the cake. Let us laugh and talk for hours while we eat the pieces in the refrigerator, and let us do this for many years together." And, without realizing it, Giorno smiled with his own thoughts. Mista choose a circular shaped cake pan, and took the bowl back, pouring the dough evenly over the buttery surface. He smiled at the pan, and turned his face to see the Don, murmuring, "The sponge cake is delicate and soft, and it needs patience and a lot of affection. Baking is simple, the problem is assembling the layers later!"


Giorno made a confused look, found the treatment of the simple act of making a cake very curious. Together, they cleaned the little mess in the kitchen while the cake baked, and Giorno went to bathe.


Hours later, when Fugo had defeated Giorno in a ping pong match, Mista called them to eat that homemade cake with fennel tea. In fact, the sponge cake was one of the sweetest doughs the young Don had ever tasted, and the filling of strawberries with butterfat was spectacular. There was no need for a birthday party, having a special cake like that.


"So?" Mista looked at Giorno, his expression mixed with anticipation and tenderness. "How's the second cake made by Giorno Giovanna? Too salty? Very hard?"


Giorno replied, picking strawberries from his piece. "Are you joking? It's the best cake I've ever had. And I eat lot of cakes, mio Dio!"


"GioGio, you have food in your mouth, please!" Fugo scolded his Boss, even though he was gorging himself with strawberry cake. 


Without etiquette, Giorno laughed. He felt fully satisfied with everything. He felt... Plenary, no more, no less. 'It's real', he thought. 'Love goes through the food you make... Who knew?'


At twenty, you can try new recipes - of anything, even the old ones.

Chapter Text

The pain of the fall seemed worse when Giorno tried to get up. He felt dizzy, but his fighting habits of a few years made him readily check his own body for bone trauma or injured organs as soon as he opened his eyes. What was not surprising when he realized that his magenta suit had disappeared from his body, and in its place was a blue dress of humble fabric, cotton shirt, white pantyhose, and Mary Jane shoes? And Coco Jumbo was on his lap, staring at him.


Giorno sat on the floor. He was in a foreign place, or even in another dimension. The Don tried to summon Gold Experience - but the Stand didn't manifest itself in any of the attempts. That should be the effect of the abilities of an enemy Stand.


Vaguely, Giorno remembered being with Mista in a restaurant, waiting for two capi allies for a business lunch, when a noise like a storm invaded young Don's senses and... Here he was. He tried to call Polnareff from within Mr. President, but not even the keystone allowed the man to see the inner room. 'Probably', Giorno reasoned, 'this enemy Stand inhibits the presence of other Stands, just like Man In The Mirror'. Embracing Coco Jumbo, Giorno began to walk the only road of the place, towards the horizon line.


'What is the purpose of this attack', the blonde questioned, 'will it belong to any of the capi? More importantly, how do I face this Stand? I don't feel weaker or seriously injured... However, I can't manifest Gold Experience. Maybe my Stand is showing itself in the other side... If Mista is with him, maybe he knows which entrance to this dimension', and as he walked along the stone path, he looked in all directions - but there was no mirror, or any reflective surface, or anything that called attention amid the idyllic landscape - only green plains and the path of yellow stones. 'Looks like I'm just trapped here'.


Then, from the sky, in a bubble came Trish, the friend he hadn't seen in months. She wore a sparkling blue dress and carried a strange weapon - something similar to a blue wand with a star on the end. Reaching Giorno, the bubble fell apart, and Trish pointed the wand at the man.


"Are you a good or bad capo?" It felt like if Trish didn't recognize Giorno. Well, he actually didn't recognize himself, with two pigtails in red lace bows and vintage dress.


"I'm not certain if I am a capo", Giorno feared that the girl might have some war power in her wand. 'This Stand must produce a mental illusion. I'm not in another dimension - I am unconscious, or hypnotized. Apparently, it's not a dream, as I have almost no control over the environment, even rationalizing', the Don thought to himself.


"Sorry for the rude question. The gangsters who live in this country told me that a capo would drop a giant banana over the Bad Capo from Naples, killing him and freeing them all from his evil deeds." Trish indicated with her wand, behind Giorno, where there was a banana of approximately 30 meters of height. 'This wasn't here before, but it's the laws of the dream world', Giorno thought. Approaching the giant fruit, the man noticed that two sturdy legs in pantyhose were visible beneath the banana - probably the Bad Capo legs. The Don noticed, by the very great legs, that said 'bad capo' was dead Polpo in ruby shoes. 'I think I know where is this place. My mind, by the skill of the enemy Stand, is recreating The Wizard of Oz's fantastic world. In this case, I can anticipate and manipulate what takes place in this fantastical dream environment'. And with that, Giorno took Polpo's ruby shoes, putting them on.


"Hmn... Trish?" Giorno wouldn't know if the name could work. The Trish Una-fairy version (or what the heck) turned to him gracefully, anyway. "I believe you can guide me to... Home? Although that would not be simple, according to the story." 'I should have paid attention to the film when I watched with Mista, but I fell asleep', the blonde lamented.


"I'm sorry, my dear child, but not even I have the power to do such a thing. Only the Mighty Boss of the Mafia, from Rome City, can send you back home." And with that, Trish wrapped herself in a great bubble, and floated away.


"So cliché... And she didn't have to tell me to never take off my red shoes and follow the yellow brick road?" But there seemed to be no other options. Giorno followed the only road in sight with Coco Jumbo, and as nothing makes sense in dreams, the surrounding countryside became rural a few steps later, and corn farms were seen from both sides of the street.


"Oh, oh, oh! How do I get down from here?", a voice was heard between the cornstalks. Giorno knew what to expect - the Scarecrow. In the case, a Scarecrow-Narancia Ghirga. 'I don't think he's brainless', the Don thought, feeling bad for his unconscious to make such an association.


"Do you want help to get down from there, Na-... Hmn, Mr. Scarecrow?"


"Oh yeah! Yes! Can you get me off this platform? Someone abandoned me here..." and Giorno just smiled at the black-haired boy, his body of cloth barely stuffed with straw, as he removed the little pins that fixed it to the platform. "Ah! Thank you! If I only knew that I would have done it, I would have been released a long time ago! But I'm not very smart... Oh, how I wanted to have a brain..."


"Well, come with me. I'm going to see the Boss of the Mafia in Rome, for him to send me home. I'm sure he can give you a brain if that's what you want." And, predictably, Narancia promptly followed the walk alongside Giorno and Coco Jumbo.


A few more steps down the brick road, and the surrounding landscape changed again. Some sparse business houses, and a little urban environment in general. Then Narancia pointed curiously at a man in armor - in fact, he even looked like a man with a low-cost robot costume. When the man turned to face them with an intimidating look, Giorno recognized, with regret in his heart, the face of Leone Abbacchio.


"What is that, boys?" The greeting was gentle, but the facial expression was cold and scary.


"Wow!" Narancia flinched and sought safety in Giorno's arms. "Sorry for disturbing you!"


"What?" The Tin Man-Abbacchio frowned as hard as he could, and looked furious. But his words seemed only concerned. "Ah, forgive me. I can't quite understand. The problem is that I have no heart."


Giorno took the floor, for the plot was simple. "If you want to have a heart, then come with us. Let's see the Mighty Boss of the Mafia in Rome, and he can give you a heart, so you can express your affections whenever you want."


Abbacchio didn't smile, but didn't look very angry either. His facial expression was confusing to read. The three young men and the turtle followed by the bricks path, and once again the surrounding landscape transformed. A dense grove engulfed the road, and the woods were closed and dark. Giorno and Narancia shuddered when a ferocious animal tried to attack Coco Jumbo on the side of the road. After the moment of surprise, Giorno felt a slight smile as he saw the animal - which actually looked more like a Bruno Buccellati in a carnival lion fantasy. The Don took Coco Jumbo off the ground and made a gesture with his arm on the face of Lion-Buccellati, so that he soon tried to hide behind a bush.


"You're too big to try to fight a little helpless animal!" Giorno didn't even feel the words leave his mouth. In fact, few things infuriated him more than cowardly people attacking innocents.


"I'm sorry", replied Buccellati, "I have lost my courage and I am sincerely ashamed of it. I won't attack your turtle friend any more."


"You've lost your courage? Why don't you join us? Let's all see the Boss of the Mafia in Rome, he'll give me a brain, surely he can give you some courage!" Narancia invited. Buccellati didn't hesitate for too long, soon joining the team that was going to Rome City - somewhere in the end of that brick road.


Finally, they arrived at the castle where the Boss of the Mafia resided. Giorno hoped to see Diavolo's image (though to his own disgust), however, they were led by toad-men to the throne room, where was sitting a slightly younger figure of Giorno's old friend Jean Pierre Polnareff. Without blinking, the group began their requests.


"Please, grant me courage", Buccellati asked politely.


"Grant me a heart", Abbacchio monotonously requested.


"Grant me a brain!", Narancia spoke euphorically.


"Stay serene, young explorers. All this I can grant you, but rather I desire something in return. I promise to give you what you want, but first, you'll have to kill the Bad Capo from Sardinia", Polnareff ordered.


Giorno didn't even have time to question anything, for the landscape simply fell apart beneath his feet, and he and his companions were already on the road again. As they approached Sardinia, seven fierce wolves attempted to attack the group in the name of the Bad Capo from Sardinia, but Buccellati shocked them all. Then, five wild ravens fluttered menacingly, and Narancia hit them with his hands. Finally, the Bad Capo became enraged and sent winged monkeys, who carried Giorno and the others to his castle.


The Bad Capo from Sardinia - which was the image of Diavolo - crumpled Abbacchio's can and pulled the straws out of Narancia. Then, he arrested Buccellati in a wagon and forced him to work all day. "Now", Diavolo said, "I'll turn you into one of my winged monkeys, and you'll all work for me", and Giorno was filled with hatred. Without thinking much, the blonde threw a bucket of water into the Capo, who began to shrink and shrink and shrink. "How dare you!" Diavolo's voice also seemed tiny. And Giorno poured more water into the small Capo, which shrank until disappear. Giorno rushed to free Buccellati from the wagon, as well as other gangsters who were slaves to Diavolo in his castle. The Don instructed them to repair Abbacchio and fill Narancia's body with straw again.


At last, the landscape changed in seconds, and Giorno met with his companions back to Polnareff's castle. Trish was in the throne room, too, for some odd reason.

 

"Give me courage", Buccellati asked politely. Polnareff nodded and, clapping, the Lion got up and gave a loud howl. It seemed to be settled now. And then, Buccellati disappeared.


"Grant me heart", Abbacchio monotonously requested. New palms and, with a broad smile on his face, the Tin Man placed a hand on his left breast and everyone in the room could hear the throbbing of the organ resound on the brass. And, with the same smile, he disappeared into thin air.


"Grant me brain!" Narancia said as he took a small step. Polnareff smiled back, more palms. The Scarecrow wiggled his hair and then said, "Sixteen multiplied by fifty-five equals eight hundred and eighty!" And he also disappeared.


"And I want to go home," Giorno said confidently.


"Hmn, I'm afraid I can't do that", Polnareff replied thoughtfully. Giorno snorted angrily and decided that he himself could leave the dream and return to the restaurant where he should have lunch that day. "Hey, hey, boy! What are you doing! Don't go there!" Polnareff tried to stop Giorno from moving into the other room, but he couldn't leave his own throne.


Entering the room, a figure of braided blond hair and very blue eyes stared at Giorno with a mocking smile on his face. "Hi, Haruno. Do you know what day it is?"


"What... Why am I here?"


"Well, who would be the Mighty Boss of the Mafia?", the other Giorno replied, smirking. "Come here, my boy..." The blond made a gesture with the index finger, flexing it, calling Giorno-Dorothy to approach. Giorno-Dorothy followed the calling.


"I suppose I should hit my shoes three times, but I'm doing this and nothing happens", Giorno-Dorothy spoke softly, almost in confession.


Giorno-Wizard of Oz widened his smile, being two fingers away from the face of the other Giorno. "If you get closer, maybe you can, but first you have to ask yourself: where is your home?"


Giorno was surprised. 'What's the point of all this? Is the user trying to unravel some information from my mind?' And he approached another few inches. 'Where is my house? Passione's address? My apartment? No...' "My house is..."


"Giorno!" Mista's voice screamed in his ears. "Giorno, are you okay? Fugo defeated the enemy Stand user! These presumptuous gangsters, honestly... Even on your birthday they don't give a truce!"


"Mees... Tah..." Giorno recognized the table, the chairs, the interior of the restaurant. "I... I slept? Where's the enemy?"


"Fugo located him two blocks from here. What a bizarre stand! I myself was locked in an illusion in which my bride abandoned me on the altar again and again..." and the gunman laughed. "I'm sorry I didn't protect you."


"That took us both off guard, Mista." Giorno sat down with his Underboss's help.


"I bet you got stuck in some Les Misérables scene, didn't ya?" Mista smiled, gentle and warm as the morning sun.


Giorno wasn't going to admit that he revived a children's tale. "Yes, of course." He was already at home.


At twenty-one, you're already an adult, but you can (and you should) learn from the kids.