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beneath heaven and before the world, a rooftop

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At his core, Dio Brando has always been a man who yearned to be loved. Before the schemes for riches and the power of the stone mask, before the mass of cultish followers and before he held the world in his grasp, his course in life began with this desire. What he wanted was love.

Dio Brando was a child of the same age as you when you grew up in the slums of London, but he was not your friend. You knew him from the words of other children around you who had been born into a similar mean existence, and you recognized him as a flurry of blonde hair dashing past you down the street, or loitering around from afar. It was a while before you would get a proper look at him.

He was cute , was your first thought when you finally found yourself standing in his presence. Much cuter than the other boys your age, even with the sour look on his face. You were standing in his way, and he wasn't very happy about it, but there was no way you could let him by just yet. Not when you noticed his ear.

Three little moles sat in a row on the lobe of his left ear, like the ripples left by skipping stones in a pond. A very peculiar birthmark, so unnaturally perfect that it appeared as though someone had painted it onto him with ink. You'd seen it before.

It seemed like he was about to call you a curse word, you thought, before your turned your head to show him the three quaint little dots you'd carried with you from birth, nestled perfectly in a little column just below your right ear. Dio closed his mouth. Your eyes met, genuinely, for perhaps the first time as you turned your head back to look at him excitedly, mind racing with the implications of this discovery. He pushed past you without another word and left you in his dust.

Within a year, Dio Brando had become your best friend. Of course, he himself did not agree, but over time, your insistent following and annoying rambling and bothersome clinging grew easier to tolerate than to argue against. Dio was not averse to having friends--in fact, he was quite proud of the amount of friends he could call his own--but something about you in particular annoyed him ever since the day you showed him your stupid birthmark. It was as if you felt you were somehow entitled to his attention because of it, and you even had the audacity to ignore and defy his orders more often than not. Dio couldn't see the point in having a friend who didn't listen to him.

You, on the other hand, were quite content at his side. Ever since your discovery, you felt like a string of fate was connecting you to Dio Brando. Surely your matching moles couldn't have just been a coincidence! You were meant to befriend him, a union decided by the stars, and this belief of yours was very staunch. At first, his sour attitude and constant attempts to make you leave him alone were annoying, but your determination allowed you to shrug off his rudeness and continue to pursue him. Later, you would start to find these unsightly traits of his cute, and even endearing in a way. Along with the beginning of these feelings came, as one might say, an ulterior motive.

Somewhere along the way, you decided that Dio would be your boyfriend, and it was a wonder that Dio didn't just snap altogether. Your following became even more incessant, your rambling sometimes took a turn into disgusting, Shakespearean poetic, and your clinging became more literal than ever. What's worse is that no matter how many times he rejected you, yelled at you to leave him alone, and even played mean pranks on you to scare you off, your affections never wavered. He began to wonder what the hell was wrong with you.

It was hard to put your finger on exactly why you liked Dio so much, aside from your matching birthmarks. He was cute, of course, and that was likely a large part of it. He was different from just about all of the other kids as well, with a natural boldness and confidence that made you want to know what he’d do or say next. Despite being the same age, he almost seemed as though he was years older than the rest of you with his wit and smarts. You saw him flipping through full novels before you could even write your own name out reliably. He was just the type of person you always wanted to be closer to, and you were the most determined to achieve this by far. Some mean words and fowl tricks were nothing in the face of your perseverance, you had to admit that you enjoyed how he looked when your resilience made him visibly frustrated.

In naming yourself Dio's fated true love, it was only natural that you became at least partially familiar with his family. His father was a horrid, scary man, and you very much despised him from the moment you met him. It angered you to think that Dio had to return home to him every day after you finished playing--if he was even there at all. But his mother was different. She was kind, gentle, and soft-spoken, and it was almost shocking to you that the woman who made Dio could have such a different personality than him. She even once reprimanded him for calling you a rude name in front of her, urging him to be nicer to you. Needless to say, you liked her very much.

One day, around two years after you'd attached yourself to Dio's side, his mother committed suicide.

You found out about it the day after it happened, when your interrogation of some of Dio’s other friends in regards to his whereabouts became a somber explanation from one who happened to live close enough to him to have heard about it, and perhaps even witness some of the commotion it caused. He had tried to check on Dio, he said, but he was nowhere to be seen.

Death was not a foreign concept to you. People died around you all the time. But this... was different. This wasn’t just any random face you may have seen once or twice turning up dead. It was Dio’s mother. The only person in the world who had ever taken care of him.

Your initial response was anger. How could that woman have done this to Dio? How could she leave him alone? The thought of what this must have done to Dio made you furious, though soon the rage passed and you were left only with sympathy. It was clear why she had done what she did. To have to live so many years with such a man as a husband must have driven her insane, to the point where she could no longer endure it, even for her own son. But now, Dio would be alone with him. The possibility of him being driven to such a drastic and hopeless state as well filled you with fear--you had to find him. He was not at home, apparently. But where would he have gone at such a time?

In the alleyway beside the building that Dio lived in, there was a rickety metal fire escape that stretched up to the roof of the multi-story building next door. You’d always hated heights and the noises that the staircase made scared you enough to never have braved the climb, but Dio wasn’t scared at all. More than once had he taken advantage of this fact to escape your enthusiastic pursuits, and often throw a few immature insults at you from above. It was the only place you could think to look.

Your hands--in fact, your entire body trembled as you willed yourself to climb the contraption, and you had to remind yourself many times that you were doing it for Dio in order to continue. The groans and creaks of the metal were unnervingly loud as you stepped along it and clung on for dear life, and you felt a strange mixture of relief, nausea, and embarrassment as you heard a voice from above yelling at you to go away. When you finally reached the top and your face came into view, you saw a look of recognition on Dio’s face for a moment before it morphed into anger.

“Leave!” he shouted at you, the strain in his voice very noticeable. “I’m telling you to leave !”

He was sat near the center of the building’s roof, curled in on himself with his knees tucked to his chest. He was clutching something in his hands, a gathered piece of blue fabric held tightly to his heart. His cheeks were red and swollen, the wet stains of tears visible on his face, and as you watched him, even more began to bubble over. He made an annoyed sound and rubbed them away hurriedly, not with the fabric he held, but with his own sleeve. Your heart shattered for him.

He snapped and snarled at you as you stepped closer, demanding again and again for you to leave him alone, but he made no move to do anything, even as you stopped a few feet in front of him. Though you were met with a nasty glare, there was no violent intent on his end. You were not the one he was truly angry at.

“You never listen!” he hissed at you through gritted teeth. “You never listen!”

You only stared at him in silence as tears began to fill your own eyes as well.

“Don’t you dare pity me!” he spat, and you saw the way that he pridefully clenched his fists and squared his shoulders, determined to seem strong despite his age, despite the situation. You matched his display with as calm of an expression as you could muster, though your tears were left to stream down your face uninhibited.

“I pity your mother,” you said softly, and Dio’s facade dissolved completely at your words, a look of slight shock coming over his face as more of his hated tears spilled out. His hands, still clenched into fists, began to shake with exertion and his voice cracked as he cursed, the word coming out as more of a whimper. In a moment, he bowed his head to his knees and his shoulders began to shake with quiet sobs.

You took the chance to sit yourself down beside him. As much as you wanted to hug him, you did not. Upon closer inspection, the fabric he was clutching seemed to be a piece of clothing, probably a dress by the length of it. His mother’s. You said nothing as you sat with Dio, merely offering your presence as comfort while the day slowly ticked away, and he did not speak either, simply alternating between pitiful tears and somber silence for what must have been a few hours, according to the sun above you. There wasn’t much to see up there on that dirty roof, but you were happy just to be with him.

During one of his worse crying fits, you braved a bit of contact, reaching cautiously over to pet his hair while his head lay on his knees. He flinched at your touch, lifting his head a little in response, but when he realized what you were trying to do he lowered his head back down. He would allow it--or perhaps he needed it. You were almost shocked at first by how soft his hair felt between your fingers, and again by the way his shoulders ever so slowly began to release their tension.

Once Dio had finally decided to leave, he did not announce his departure. Rather, he simply stood up and walked over to the fire escape, which prompted you to follow. Dio was much faster at descending those wretched stairs than you were, and he neither helped you nor encouraged you as you shakily made your way down. But, he did wait until you had made it all the way down to leave you behind without another word.