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Rubber Ring

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There’s not a word yet

For old friends who’ve just met.

Giorno Brando finally met Bruno Buccellati in the summer of 2001.

He was out shopping with Trish, at the time; he and his father had arrived the day before for their yearly vacation in Italy, hosted by Diavolo and his family, and it was the first thing he’d insisted on doing after they’d gotten settled in.

(In the aftermath of his hair turning blond the year or so before, Giorno had grown very bold and enthusiastic indeed, when it came to fashion and self-expression.)

(Trish, herself an aficionado of haute couture, couldn’t have been more delighted by this development.)

They were leaving a boutique when Trish gasped and began waving enthusiastically at something Giorno couldn’t see.

“Buccellati!  What are you doing here?”

Giorno had little choice but to follow her as she ran across the street.

There were three young men sitting at an outdoor cafe table with a pot of tea and slices of cake spread out between them.  One of them - apparently Buccellati - stood up as Trish approached.

“Trish!  Fancy meeting you here,” he said.  “I’m treating Narancia and Fugo to a bit of cake.”

“Oh, hello!”  Trish waved at the other two boys present.  “It’s been a while!”

“Certainly has,” said one of the boys; he had pale hair, and there were carefully-crafted holes in his green blazer.

“What’s the occasion?” Trish continued.  “That cake looks amazing, it can’t have been cheap.”

The other boy, dark-haired, with more delicate features, grinned widely.  He was wearing a school uniform.

“We’re celebrating Narancia getting a 100 on his latest math test,” said Buccellati.  His own smile was one of unmistakable pride.

“Oh, Narancia, good for you!” said Trish.  “You must have studied so hard for that.”

“Yeah, I studied my ass off!” said Narancia.

“And he wouldn’t have gotten that grade,” said Fugo, folding his arms, “if I hadn’t kicked his ass into gear in the first place.”

Narancia snickered.  “Yeah, pretty much.”

“Uh… Trish, mind introducing me…?” said Giorno, raising his hand.

“Oh!  God, I’m sorry,” said Trish.  “Giorno, this is Bruno Buccellati, he’s more or less my dad’s right-hand man.”

“You flatter me, Trish,” said Buccellati, laughing a little.  

“And that’s Narancia, and that’s Fugo,” Trish continued.  “They’re, how do I put this…”

“Buccellati basically adopted us off the street,” Fugo said, with a smirk.  “He couldn’t help himself.”

“Hardly!” said Buccellati.  “Besides, Fugo, you were the one that brought Narancia to me, if I recall correctly.”

“Yeah, but you were the one that got him to the hospital and stuff,” Fugo said, crossing his arms and looking away.

Giorno chuckled.  “It sounds like you’re fighting over who took in a stray cat or something.”

“Narancia and Fugo were both aid cases with Passione that Buccellati took in, actually,” said Trish.

“Yeah!  And I’m gonna work for Passione once I’m done with school!” Narancia added.  “Buccellati already brings us along on stuff, though, so we pretty much have jobs there already…”

“Yeah, same with me,” said Fugo.  “I’m already done with school, so as soon as I got over some… stuff, I started working for Buccellati.”

“Wow, that’s pretty great!” said Giorno.  “Well, my name’s-”

“This kid bothering you, young lady?”

A uniformed man with silver hair and a sour face had approached the group, and he loomed over Giorno.

Trish smiled, but it was warm smile, rather than nervous.  “Abbacchio! What a surprise!” she said. “No, I’m just fine here.  Why do you ask?”

“This one’s got a sketchy face,” Abbacchio said, gesturing to Giorno and narrowing his eyes.  “Giving me a bad feeling.”

“You have nothing to worry about with Giorno, Abbacchio,” said Trish.  “He’s a very old family friend.”

Abbacchio made a dismissive noise.  “I’m still keeping my eye on you, kid.  Don’t think I won’t.”

“I’ll… try not to cause trouble… I guess…?” said Giorno.

Abbacchio did not reply.

(Why did this feel like deja vu…?)

“What brings you here, Abbacchio?” Trish continued.

“Buccellati invited me over,” he replied.  “I was told there would be cake.”

“And indeed there is,” said Buccellati, gesturing to a chair.  “Help yourself, Leone.”

“Thanks.” Abbacchio sat down and began serving himself.

“Abbacchio’s also an employee of Passione,” Trish said, leaning toward Giorno.  “He’s a police liaison of ours that helps with cold cases and such with his Stand.”

Giorno blinked.  “...Stand?”

“Ah!  I should have mentioned,” said Trish.  “Buccellati specifically looks after people with Stands that get help from Passione.”

“Giorno knows about Stands?” said Buccellati.

(Trish, of course, knew about them, having always been able to see her father’s Stand and receiving Spice Girl only two years prior.)

“I have one of my own, actually,” Giorno replied.  “Really, though, all of you have one?”

“I’m not showing you mine, before you ask,” said Abbachio, afterward taking a sip of tea.

“I wasn’t… going to, but…” said Giorno.  “Well, I suppose it makes sense that Passione has a subdivision for helping Stand users, now…  Do you work with the Speedwagon Foundation, Mr. Buccellati?”

“Indeed I do,” Buccellati replied.  “I report to them regularly about these little troublemakers,” he added, with a smirk.

“Hey, hey, you’re only three years older than me, y’know!” said Narancia.  “Stop talkin’ about me like I’m some sort of kid.”

Buccellati chuckled, but stopped when the sound of a cell phone filled the air.  “Oh, excuse me…”

He produced a phone out of a zippered pocket on his suit, and flipped it open.  

“Hello, Buccellati here.  Ah, Boss! What’s going on?”  He nodded a few times. “Ah, I see!  Well, I’m out with Narancia and Fugo right now, would it be okay if you bring him to me?  I’m at Cafe Irene.  It's the one with the strawberry meringue cake. You know it, right?” Another few seconds.  “Wonderful. Trish is here too, actually, we just ran into each other.” Whatever the caller said made Buccellati laugh.  “I’m sure she’ll be happy to see you, too. All right. I’ll see you soon, Boss. Goodbye.”

“Was that my father?” said Trish.

Buccellati nodded.  “He said he just picked up a newly-discovered Stand user and wanted to introduce him to me,” he said.  “Might as well introduce him to the rest of you too, hm?”

“Oh, that sounds lovely,” said Trish.  “Well, Giorno and I might as well stick around and wait for him.  I’ll go order some more cake!”

“Hey, get chocolate, get chocolate!” said Narancia.  “OW!”

Fugo had stabbed his hand with a fork.  “You already got strawberry for yourself!  You have no right telling Trish what to order.”

“That doesn’t mean you had to stab me!”

“Fugo…” Buccellati waved a finger at him.  “Temper.”

Fugo sighed, looking quite ashamed.  “Sorry, Narancia. Shouldn’t have done that.”

Narancia rubbed his sore hand.  “Yeah, well, I’ll get you back somehow…”

“I’ll get chocolate, Narancia, don’t worry,” said Trish, with a warm giggle.

Narancia’s mood immediately lifted.  “Yeah! You’re the best, Trish!”

Abbacchio, seemingly unaffected by all of this, continued to sip his tea.

(Another stirring of deja vu.)

(Why was Giorno so convinced that he’d witnessed this all before, somehow?)

Diavolo arrived with the Stand user perhaps a half hour later, long after the second cake had been acquired and shared between them.

Trish waved him down as soon as she saw him.  “Papa! Over here!”

“Hello, sweetheart!”  Diavolo crossed the street with a young man in tow, whose shoulders were slumped and uneasy.  “How nice is it that we’re all able to meet like this?”

“I’m glad you could make the time, Boss,” said Buccellati, standing.  “Is that him?”

“Mm.  Buccellati, this is Guido Mista.  Guido, this is Bruno Buccellati,” said Diavolo.  “He’s here to help you from now on.”

The young man’s shoulders tensed further.  “I told you, it’s Mista, just Mista, okay?  Jesus.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Mista,” said Buccellati.  

“Gui… Mista got himself into a little bit of trouble, thanks to his Stand, the other day,” Diavolo continued.  “Luckily, I was able to clear some things up with the police, so he’s home free. For now.”

“Oo-hoo, what happened, what happened?” said Narancia.  There were crumbs of chocolate cake around his mouth.

A little smirk appeared on Mista’s face.  “Dodged some bullets. Literally.”

“Whoa-ah, so, what, your Stand give you super-speed or something?” said Narancia.

“Eh… No, uh… Jeez, how do I explain how these little guys work?” Mista said, scratching his head.

“You could always show us, it’s all right,” said Buccellati.  “It’s not like anyone else will be able to see.”

Mista shrugged, and six little golden figures appeared around his shoulders, giggling and cackling.

“Aw, they’re so cute!” said Trish.  “What are they called?”

Mista very suddenly turned pink.  “Uh… They’re, um… sespisdols…” he mumbled.

“What was that?” said Trish.  One of the little Stands had floated through the air to her, and was sitting on her hand much like a bird or some other small critter.

“They’re, uh, called… S-Sex… Pistols…”

Narancia started laughing.  “Sex Pistols? Your Stand is seriously called Sex Pistols?!” he said.  “That’s the dumbest name I’ve ever heard.”

“What, you think I had a say in that?” said Mista.  “I don’t even know what the heck these little dudes are!  I just know they… mess around with bullets? They showed up for me and kept me from getting shot.  Man, the past few days have been weird…”

“Well, the good news is you’re not alone, any more,” said Buccellati.  

“Yeah, whether you like it or not,” said Fugo, with a chuckle.  “We’re more or less your family now.”

“Not until Buccellati feeds him spaghetti,” said Narancia.

“Heh, true,” said Fugo.  “That’s almost a rite of passage now, isn’t it?”

Mista’s Sex Pistols faded away as he narrowed his eyes with confusion.  “The hell have I just gotten into…?” he said. “I feel like I’m being inducted into a cult.  Do I really have to hang out with these guys from now on?”

“Not unless you want to go back to jail,” said Diavolo, cheerfully.

For reasons he couldn’t quite understand, Giorno started laughing.

“Was what I said really that funny…?” said Diavolo.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I don’t know what’s gotten into me,” he said, wiping his eyes.

(Were these… tears?)

“I just can’t help but feel that… I know I’ve only just met you all, but I feel like I’ve known you for a long time already,” said Giorno.  “I don’t know why.”

“Y’know, I’ve been feeling some major deja vu today, come to think of it…” said Narancia.  

“I have to say, I feel the same,” said Buccellati.  “It’s been an odd sort of day.”

“Maybe something to do with our Stands?” said Giorno.  “My foster mom, Holy - she says that Stand users tend to be drawn to each other over time, so…”

“It’s a fair hypothesis,” said Fugo.

“Well, whatever the reason, you’re always welcome to spend time with us, whenever you’re in Italy, Giorno,” said Buccellati.  “People like us need to stick together, after all.”

Giorno, his heart already open for friendship, nodded with a smile.  “Yeah!”


“Pardon me, sir, but do you have a moment to talk about Heaven?”

Dio had drifted away from his son while they were out shopping with Trish, and was busying himself at an antique book shop when the priest approached him.

(The priest was speaking fine, American English - a mite strange, considering he was in Italy - but for whatever reason, Dio didn’t think much of the fact.)

A bit of a pitying smile set itself upon Dio’s face.  “I’m afraid I’m not terribly religious, Father, so I’m not sure how much good that would do you.”

The priest waved his hand apologetically.  “Oh, this isn’t so much about the afterlife, sir.  This is about the here and now. I may be a man of the cloth, but that doesn’t mean I’m not concerned about mortal happiness.”

“Is that so?”  The priest’s voice was warm and almost compelling.  Dio put down the book he was holding. “Consider me intrigued.  How do you mean?”

“Well, people often say they’re in Heaven - hypothetically speaking, of course - when they’re happy and content with their lives and circumstances,” said the priest.  “I’m of the belief that a mortal person might be able to ‘attain Heaven’ while still living, and I am dedicated to making this happen with my flock.”

“‘Attaining Heaven…’  Well, Father, that’s quite the concept,” said Dio.  “Do tell me more.”

“Let’s start by examining your own life, shall we?” said the priest.  “Say... your job, or… occupation. Would you say it’s fulfilling work?  That you feel you’re making a difference?”

Dio’s work with Stand users had given so many people purpose and kept so many dangerous souls from doing more harm.  It had extended charity and goodwill to many around the world who would otherwise had suffered.

(It had brought the son he never knew into his life.)

“Yes, I’d say my work is absolutely fulfilling,” he said.  “I’ve helped a great deal of people.”

The priest smiled warmly.  “How wonderful to hear,” he said.  “And what of your family? Close friends?  Do they bring joy to your life?”

Not just Giorno, but also the Joestars, from his beloved brother Jonathan to the youngest heir, Jolyne, and the strange, wonderful additions of little Lisa and Josuke and the rest.  

“I have a large and loving family,” said Dio.  “And… a son. My son.”

(How wonderful, that those words now filled his heart with warmth instead of dread.)

“Ah, how truly lovely,” said the priest.  “A strong family is a blessing that few can truly claim.  And you sound truly very proud of your son.”

Dio smiled, in spite of himself.  “I am.”

“But beyond family is legacy,” the priest continued.  “Were you to die today, how would others remember you?  How would they carry on your will?”

For such a dark question, a question almost impossible to apply to Dio’s own life, it gave him thoughtful pause, and a strange peace to his heart.

He thought of Diavolo, foster son, father of his goddaughter, whose dreams and enthusiasm had caused such wonderful changes and reversals of unfortunate fates in those who had once been like him.  He saw his will continued through Diavolo into his young successor, Buccellati, whom Diavolo spoke so happily about, and who seemed to gather surrogate sons to him as easily and eagerly as Dio once had.  Diavolo, who had taught him how to open his heart to true, unconditional love.

He thought of Jotaro, surrogate son, who had once struggled with anger and now struggled with love, and wearing his hard heart down into a necessarily vulnerable state.  Jotaro, blood heir to the Joestar family, who imparted discipline and pride into his daughter, Jolyne, discipline he’d have never gained, pride he’d have been too stoic to express, without Dio’s careful hand.

And… Giorno.  His actual son.  The culmination of everything he had experienced, whom he was now brave enough to love and claim as his own.  Whose future was beautiful, golden and limitless.

“My… legacy is assured,” said Dio.  “I have… touched many lives. And I’m sure I will touch many more, in my time.”

“I see, I see...!” said the priest.  A fervor began to enter his voice and mannerisms, his words half-stuttering with excitement.  “Sir - I truly believe that Heaven is not something that can be defined with riches or power or strength, but with love.  And happiness.  It seems you might well be already there!”

“Well, when you put it that way…”  Dio laughed, gently, once. “Yes, I would say I’m living in your definition of ‘Heaven.’”

"I’m - I'm so happy for you...!” said the priest, with a strange, thrilled joy in his voice.  “Your Heaven...  You finally made it...”

(The strangeness of the English hadn’t come across as unusual to Dio, but this word…)

“‘Finally…?’” Dio said.

The priest, dusky-skinned, silver-haired, simply smiled.  “All that I have sacrificed was not in vain. Thank God...!  Dio, I... I hope that the rest of your days are filled with nothing but peace and happiness.”

“Wait, how do you know-”

“Dad!  Hey!”

Giorno’s voice pulled at his eyes, distracting him only for a moment, but the strange priest was gone as soon as he was able to look back.

(Who was that man…?)

Giorno was accompanied not only by Trish, but Diavolo as well, and a motley assortment of young men besides.

“Ah, Giorno!  And Diavolo, what a surprise,” said Dio, as they approached.  “Are you all done with shopping?”

“More or less.  We were thinking of going out for dinner together, actually,” said Giorno.  “I figured you wouldn’t have moved from this shop, so…”

“Excellent deduction, my son,” said Dio.  “And who are your new friends, here?”

“Oh, Dio!  This is Buccellati, I’d been meaning to introduce you,” said Diavolo, ushering the young man in white forward very eagerly.  “I’ve talked to you about him before.”

“Ah!  So you have,” said Dio.  He extended a hand for a handshake.  “Your boss speaks most glowingly of you.”

“Glad to hear it,” said Buccellati, returning the handshake.

“So, will you be joining us for dinner?” Diavolo continued.

“Don’t see why not.  I’ll follow your lead.”

The little group continued onward down the street, but Dio lagged behind, his thoughts still somewhere else.

Who was that strange man, who spoke of Heaven?

(And why did his words carry such a heavy weight of truth?)

“Dad, hey!  Catch up!”

Giorno was waving at him from up the street.  The late afternoon light transformed his hair into a soft halo of curls, and for a moment, with his smile and the light behind him, he looked almost angelic.

Heaven, huh?

He supposed the priest, whoever he was, had a point.

And so Dio carried on ahead, following his son into the future, and all the uncertain wonders it held.