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beneath heaven and before the world, a rooftop

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

Something changed in Dio after the passing of his mother.

He had always been a somewhat rude child, and often a bit of a bully as well, but he took this behavior even further without his mother around to support him and discourage it. The caustic anger that Dio carried inside of him was drastically amplified by his loss and it turned him rather sadistic, often finding clear joy in causing others pain, whether it be physical or emotional. Anyone who dared to insult or disrespect Dio, look down on him, or wrong him in any way would face his wrath--at least when the outcome looked to be in his favor--and he would enjoy every moment of it.

Many times would you witness a fellow child’s honest mistake punished with violent depreciation, unnecessary roughness and even a public humiliation so harsh that you could hardly bare to watch. All of this was made even scarier by the obvious delight on Dio’s features, the triumphant grin as he stood over one of his victims, and the feverish laughter that often accompanied it. You never thought he would grow to such an extreme, but bizarrely, even seeing him in such a vicious state did little to put you off of him. Your proximity to him fostered a high tolerance for his wickedness--a dulling of your compassion for anyone other that Dio himself. Perhaps he was contagious.   

He started spending a lot of time around boxers many years his elder, teaching himself their techniques and happily applying them whenever he found a chance to do so. Dio adored fighting and would find any reason to start one, from making bets with poor, unsuspecting peers to fabricating conflicts that he would gladly solve with his fists. You supposed it was cathartic for him, an outlet for the anger and stress that he was plagued with, as well as an opportunity to prove his superiority at such a basic level. You didn’t like this hobby of his very much, and it made you worried to see him getting in fights so often, but as expected, your concern fell on deaf ears. It wasn’t all bad, though. After all, whenever he did get hurt, he always allowed you to fix him up, and how could you pass up on such a rare and intimate experience?

Another change, which you much preferred, was that Dio became very interested in learning. You already knew him to enjoy reading books--an interest you admired greatly given your own sub-par reading level--but it was now something he spent as much of his time doing as possible. It seemed as though he had found something new to read every time that you saw him, and usually, when you tried to read along with him over his shoulder, it was too difficult for you to understand. Dio grew more knowledgeable every day, easily surpassing the other kids you grew up with, and it made you feel a bit superior by extension, even if you didn’t know what the hell he was talking about at times. He took up chess as well, and found that he had an impressive natural talent for it, being able to beat even grown adults with far more experience under their belts. Though, it would be hard to find something Dio wasn’t downright prodigal at.

Dio’s life became much harder without his mother, as he had to rely solely on his own strength and wits to teach himself how to survive in the world. On a near daily basis, he was forced to struggle and suffer pain and humiliation just to keep himself fed, which in turn fueled his desire to inflict the same kind of pain and humiliation on just about anyone that he could. Though he still had his father, he was not a man with any interest in taking care of a child, and the small amount of time that he didn’t spend tending to and indulging in the wares of his failing bar were spent making Dio’s life even more miserable than it already was. Now more than ever, you were determined to stand by him, and for the first time since you met him, he would actually give you space to do so.

In contrast to the darkness that had fallen over Dio, his treatment of you became much lighter. After that day on the roof, Dio would no longer seriously insult or belittle you with intent to harm, nor would he play mean tricks on you or blatantly reject your presence unless he was in the very worst of moods and needed complete solitude. Of course, it wasn’t as if he had suddenly started treating you kindly, given that kindness was not a part of Dio’s lexicon, but at the very least he no longer considered you a potential target of his terror. You were not an equal--no one would be an equal to Dio --but he accepted that you were on his side, at the very least. Though he wouldn’t actively treat you as a friend, he never again seemed genuinely bothered by your presence, and the compliments and praise that you threw at him were met often with pleased agreement. You might even go so far as to say that he seemed faintly annoyed by anyone who attempted to give you grief in the way he had once done before. It was clear by then that you couldn’t expect much of anything from Dio in terms of friendship or romance, but to be closer to him in a way so specific to Dio was all you could ask for. It felt like miles of progress, achieved nearly overnight.

Your affections for Dio had changed as well from somewhat of a childish, shallow infatuation to something more devoted and doting, possibly even bordering on obsession. This was in part due to having been with him through perhaps the darkest time in his life, and seeing him at his absolute lowest. Every time that you thought back on that day, you felt determined to never have to see him like that again, and this feeling manifested itself as a consuming need to protect and care for him, almost as if you had taken it upon yourself to try and fit into the role his mother had left behind. Dio did not need your concern or attention, and he made this fact well known to you, but, well, he could see no reason to stop you or be rid of you.

Similarly, being next to Dio was just plain exciting. He was such a commanding, self-assured, and composed presence no matter where he went, and being able to follow at his side and witness him at such proximity truly felt like a privilege. He was a much needed distraction from the rest of your rather miserable life in the slums, and a flash of searing, brutal radiance that cut through all the muck and grime of the streets. Not to mention the safety--very few who knew of Dio would try to harm or do wrong to you, lest Dio interpret it as an offense upon himself. As far as you were concerned, you needed him; as man needs bread, and as an artist demands their muse.

With time, Dio’s popularity and admiration from your fellow children only grew as more became privy to the sort of things that you had seen in him for ages, which meant it was more difficult than ever to spend time with him alone, especially considering how much he savored the adoration. Everyone who wasn’t utterly scared of him wanted to be his friend, and you even suffered the resentment of some who coveted your strange yet plainly exclusive place with him. It wasn’t hard to ignore it, however. Dio enjoyed being loved, and you would not get in the way of that. But, of course, you knew that you loved him the most. And, in turn, you had become his closest admirer.

When Dio decided he would murder his father, you were a little shocked, but you were sure that he hadn’t entrusted that information with anyone other than you, and that alone made your heart soar. Being the only person in the world who Dio even came close to trusting--the only soul he would bare any aspect of his cold heart to--was the sweetest feeling you knew. Though it felt scary to know you were an accomplice in the death of a fellow human, you knew that Dario Brando was not a man who deserved to go on living. Dio, and the world at large, would be better off without him.

Dio would not allow you to help him in this endeavor. It was something to be completed by him and him alone, and though he let you in on his intentions, he kept the finer details to himself. You were confused for quite a while as to why his father remained alive for so long after Dio set his mind on killing him, but when the already old and rotting man became sickly, then bedridden, and eventually on the verge of death, you realized that Dio’s plan must have been long since set in motion.

But Dio was not happy, even when his father’s corpse was dragged away to be buried. You appeared at his door merely a day after the fact, and as you quietly and cautiously let yourself in, he did not even bother to look at you. He sat on the bed where his father had laid before, his brow furrowed as he glared down at his feet. He clutched a letter in one hand, and beside him was a large suitcase sitting open, packed neatly with his belongings. A shock of cold grasped at your stomach.

“What’s that?” you asked hesitantly, his answer both necessary and dreaded.

Dio stood from the bed, turning his back to you as he stuffed the letter somewhere deep within his things and snapped the lid of the suitcase closed.

“Is something wrong?” you pressed on. “...Must you leave? If you can't stay here, I can share my room with you.”  

He made a sound like a scoff and pulled his arms deliberately through the sleeves of his coat.

“Answer me,” you insisted, wearing a voice much bolder than usual. Part of you worried that he would take some offense to your attempt to command him, but all that he did was ignore you. It wasn’t unlike him to simply not listen. “Dio…”

As you watched, he silently wrapped his scarf around his neck, taking his time to secure it to his liking. You were beginning to panic.

“No, you can have all of it,” you bargained, your voice betraying your desperation. “I’ll give you my room, and I’ll sleep somewhere else. Where are you going?”

“Quiet,” he ordered, but his voice had no bite. He finally turned to address you, and that gave you some relief. “That bastard was owed a debt by the Joestar family. I’m going to live at their estate, in the country.”

What? you asked stupidly, in a broken voice. You had no idea that this was part of the plan--was it part of the plan? “You’re staying there? For how long?”

“I’m being adopted ,” he clarified with a tinge of annoyance, taking his suitcase into his hand and sliding it from the bed.

“But you’ll come back, won’t you?” you pleaded with rising urgency and ire. “You can’t abandon me here for some pampered, useless, rotten nobles.” Dio wouldn’t just leave you behind, would he? But you knew that he would--otherwise, you wouldn’t have been so scared.

Dio walked towards you, but really, his destination was through the door behind you.

“Do you love me?” Dio asked suddenly as he stopped beside you, his sharp eyes drilling into yours with a touch more warmth than before. This, along with the question itself made your heart beat strongly, your head moving of its own accord to confirm with fervor. Did he even need to ask?

For a moment he only gave you a blank stare, and paintings of a goodbye kiss flashed behind your eyes. Might he finally requite your feelings before he took his leave? A dream too soft for the boy that you loved, but one that you pleaded for nonetheless.

“If you say that you do, then stop whining,” he scolded, with a face that did not betray any regret or reluctance. “I intend to take the Joestar fortune for myself, and become richer than any man has ever been. If you love me, then don't waste my time and let me through.”

But you didn’t want to move. If you moved, he would leave you, and you’d be far more alone that you ever were without him. Of course you wanted him to succeed and become rich, but why did he have to do it without you?

“Dio…” you said softly, a final plea as your mind tried to process everything. It was all happening so suddenly--couldn’t he have at least warned you of this beforehand?

“Move,” he repeated louder, and you felt tears begin to brim in your eyes as you gave in and stepped aside. Dio stepped past you, but stopped again just outside the doorway and sighed, his voice taking on a more authoritative tone. “I’ll have it arranged for you to come on Saturdays, so be prepared. And thankful.”

Profound relief washed over you at his words, and you couldn’t stop yourself from jumping forward to hug him from behind, burying your face into the shoulder of his coat. Dio clicked his tongue, but did not make you stop.

“I’ll be ready,” you cried, “I’ll wake up at dawn to make sure. I’ll see you there. I love you.”

“Let go,” he commanded, and though reluctant, you did so, a smile now plastered onto your face. He did not look at you again as he left, but you watched him go until his carriage disappeared into the darkness down the cobblestone street.

Chapter Text

Dio would never admit to such a thing, but in truth, he had grown somewhat attached to you over your time together. He didn’t love you, of course, and he wasn’t sure if he could even say that he thought of you as a friend in good faith (after all, friendship requires some admittance of equal value, does it not?), but there was something inside of him that felt more at peace when you were near.

He didn’t realize it until that day after he lost his mother, but the feelings you had for him that he once thought to be annoying were actually quite remarkable. Regardless of how he treated you, your affections never waned. Not even when he gave you some of his worst to put you off. Lots of people liked Dio and he had many admirers, but not a single one of them could claim the same level of seemingly unconditional loyalty as you--and he didn’t have to put even the slightest bit of effort into cultivating it. Even if your loyalty did not come with guaranteed obedience or a lack of complaints, Dio knew that someone like you, as faithful and unrelenting as you, as obsessed as you, could be very, very helpful to him. He had plenty of use for someone who would always come crawling back to him, especially what with the plan of his that was about to be set into motion. Dio was not the type to trust others, at least not anymore, but he found your inexplicable yet predictable devotion comforting, and with that came a feeling of closeness that was very rare in Dio’s life. Or rather than closeness, perhaps possessiveness was a better word. You were something akin to an ornate piece on his chess board--far from a disposable pawn, but obviously still below the king that was himself.

There was a more base level to this feeling as well, but Dio was even more loathe to admit to that. For some reason, your praise and adoration just felt better to him than anyone else’s. It may have been because he enjoyed being reminded of your naive and fortunate devotion, but whatever the reason may be, your reverence just sounded the sweetest. But it wasn’t only that. Even when he may act aloof or annoyed, he felt soothed and relaxed by your hands as they tended to an injury of his, or fussed over his hair or clothing. Though it contrasted dreadfully with his personality, Dio was actually very fond of physical contact---from the right person, of course. Since the loss of his mother, this was something that had been woefully absent from his life, that is, until he realized just how willing you were to hand it out to him on a silver platter. He was too prideful to ever ask for such a thing, lest you get the idea that he needed  you or, God forbid,  liked you, but he discreetly enjoyed it as it happened, and occasionally even craved the tranquil state brought on by your touch.

Dio’s first week at the Joestar manor went by swimmingly. He was quick to make sure that the other boy, Jonathan , knew his place, and it was an absolute piece of cake to win over the favor of his father. Dio could do most anything perfectly, after all, and being the perfect child was no exception.

By the time the weekend had come about, he was filled with such eagerness and determination towards his plan that he nearly mistook it for excitement to see you for a moment. He had remembered to arrange for your passage earlier in the week, not because he yet required your presence of course, but because there was something important that must begin urgently if you were to ever live up to your full potential of use to him.

You felt like royalty as you sat in the velvety interior of the carriage that Dio had sent for you, and you could not contain your giddiness as the slums disappeared behind you and you ventured father from home than you’d ever been able to go before. Though you were sure Dio must have given the driver your address, you were so irrepressibly excited that you instead waited far closer to the edge of town from quite early in the morning, shouting at every carriage that rolled by until you encountered the one that was meant for you.

When you arrived, you tried your best to stifle your elation as you saw Dio waiting for you, not wanting to cause him any annoyance or embarrassment in front of his new family. To your utter confoundment, when the door of the carriage sprung open, you found Dio waiting with his hand extended to help you down. After a moment of surprise, you gladly took his offer, and the kind smile that Dio gave you left you completely dumbfounded, only able to gawk at him with tingling warmth in your cheeks. Dio had never greeted you like this before. If not for the image that Dio needed to preserve, he would’ve scolded you for the clear disbelief in your reaction. You were looking at him less like a close friend, and more like someone who had just grown a second head.

When you returned to Earth, you finally noticed the two men standing between the pair of you and the sizable estate, a duo that shared dark hair and similar enough features for you to recognize who they were. You bit your cheek to fight off a frown.

“Hello,” you greeted them bluntly, and you were reminded of Dio’s hand still clasping your own by the feeling of his nails digging into your skin. You cleared your throat, and added on: “Thank you for having me.”

Of course, you hated all of those spoiled, coddled bastards who were born into luxurious wealth just as much as anyone else of your upbringing, but despite never having met them before now, these two were particularly irritating. After all, they were the ones who had taken Dio away from you.

“Oh, it’s no bother,” the father insisted. “Any friend of Dio is welcome here as a revered guest.”

“Thank you,” you repeated simply. You then wondered exactly how Dio wanted you to act in front of the men he intended to rob. Though you knew Dio well enough to know he must have been putting on his best and most impressive face in front of them, you couldn’t be sure exactly what his act entailed, nor what he had said of you in your absence. Curiously, you gazed at the Joestar child with polite (albeit slightly malicious) interest. He was cute as well, you thought, but could not hold a candle to your Dio. The look that he returned to you (and flickered to the boy beside you) was of notable unsettlement.

“I must thank you once again for your kindness, Mr. Joestar,” Dio chimed in a voice so sweet and docile (and un- Dio ) that you nearly had to stifle a laugh. “It means the world to me that you would not only lift me out of poverty, but help me to unite with my dear, beloved friend as well.”

His dear, beloved friend? Just hearing such words leave his mouth pulled your lips into a confident smirk. Fake or not, this “Dio” was certainly someone you could get used to.

“Nonsense,” said Mr. Joestar, with a genuine smile crinkling his eyes. “I could never expect you to leave such a beloved companion behind. I only hope that all three of you might become fast friends.”

You glanced at Jonathan again, and his eyes quickly lowered to the ground at his feet, discomfort clear in his posture.

“If you’ll excuse us,” Dio said with one last polite smile, “I’d like to show my friend around the manor.”

“By all means,” Mr. Joestar approved, gesturing openly towards his home. “Go on ahead. I’m sure the two of you have much to talk about!”

With that, Dio tugged on your hand, urging you to join him in a swift stride towards the front door, almost as though he were excited to show you his new home. You gladly followed, a fragmented giggle flying from your lips as you were pulled through the lavish courtyard, around that extravagant and wholly unnecessary fountain. The moment you had followed him into the building and the front door closed behind you, Dio’s entire demeanor changed and he looked at you with a far more serious and incisive expression, his finger jabbing into your sternum.

“Be nice ,” he admonished in an irritated whisper (lest the servants overhear!), and you frowned at him. “When the old man is around, be nice. Do anything to discredit me and I won’t send for you again.”

“I was nice,” you argued bitterly, though you knew you could have possibly been a tad more polite. “You should know it’s not as easy as it looks. They may speak nicely, but I’m sure they see the both of us like a couple of diseased mutts brought in off the street.”

“You think I’m not aware?” Dio hissed, disdain warping his face into a scowl. You wanted to smooth out his brow with your finger. “I don’t care how you act in front of Jonathan--treating that scum as he deserves will only aid me in subjugating him--but if his father is around, you will act like nothing short of an angel. I won’t have you tarnishing his perception of me. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” you replied flatly, making your lack of amusement clear. Really, must he speak to you like a child?

“Good,” Dio concluded, and sighed, collecting himself as he crossed his arms over his chest. “Now, don’t misunderstand why I brought you here. There is a reason, and you should feel honored that I would even go to the trouble of arranging this.”

“Shall I assume that the reason isn’t because you missed me?” you asked flippantly, taking a moment to let your eyes wander around the building’s interior. You didn’t think you’d ever been in a building so huge and decorative. It was as disgusting as it was impressive. “I missed you a lot, though.”

“Listen to me,” he ordered, ignoring you completely. “You’re here because you’re useless to me as an idiot.”

You simply returned your stare to him unhappily, waiting for him to elaborate.

“Every Saturday when you’re brought here, you’ll be catching up to me in terms of education,” Dio explained, and your eyebrows stretched upwards. “I don’t expect you to become equal to me, but if you cannot prove your competence, I will have no use for you. Remember that I am fully capable of achieving my goals without you--assisting me is a privilege.”

“Whatever, I’ll do it,” you answered passively. Regardless of what it was, you knew your answer before he’d even said it, if it meant you got to come see him once a week. “But if you really thought I was an idiot, you wouldn’t have bothered with all of this.”

Dio narrowed his eyes at you. Of course, if he truly believed you to be incompetent, he surely would never go out of his way to keep you by his side. In fact, if he did not already view you as at the very least sufficient , he wouldn’t have taken the risk of introducing you to his new family so early on, nor would he have claimed such a significant connection to you. Though you may have been unique in this belief, Dio to you has always been far easier to read than he must’ve thought himself to be.

Your eyes trailed to the lobe of his ear, visible beneath the wavy strands of his hair, and your fingers brush at the side of your neck. Dio, upon noticing, rolled his eyes.

“Show me to your room, then,” you prompted expectantly, and Dio made a sound of annoyance, yet silently began walking towards the stairs. You wore a pleased grin as you followed.

Dio’s room was just as regal and dignified as the rest of the manor, but even in such a short time, his presence there was already clear to you. The room was spotlessly tidy, with his bed made perfectly and what little belongings he had organized meticulously atop his desk and dressers. You recognized some pieces from his collection within a half-filled bookshelf, and surmised that the rest of them must be on his reading list for the future. It was fun to flit around Dio’s room, sticking your nose in his things to work out what was his from before and what was new. Dio stood boredly with his arms crossed in the doorway as you had your fun, only occasionally muttering something along the lines of “don’t touch that.” Eventually, you opened the doors of a rather large ornate wardrobe, and the lack of anything new or exciting nearly had you close it again just as fast; until you noticed something familiar. Something blue, folded neatly and placed on a shelf at the very top of the wardrobe. It had been years since that day, but you recognized it at a glance and nervously turned your head to look at Dio. Thankfully, he was picking at his fingernails, evidently no longer feeling the need to pay you any attention, so you quickly closed your discovery away, almost feeling as if you’d gotten away with a crime.

At some point, you heard footsteps echoing down the hall outside of the room and glanced over curiously, seeing Dio now alert to them as well. You walked over to him just in time to see his face twist into a devious smirk as Jonathan came walking down the hall. Almost instantly, the pace of his footsteps quickened, but you rushed over to push yourself onto Dio, making your affection for him clear to see as you sent the other boy an ingenuous smile. Jonathan faltered for a moment, looking a little taken aback by your display, before speeding up so quickly that he nearly stumbled over his own feet. Dio snickered at the sight, then unceremoniously shoved you back a step or two, much to your disappointment.

“That was good,” Dio said to you, a rare gift of praise, and you beamed at him.

At first, Jonathan worried that you might be suffering as a victim of Dio’s torment as well, confused at the thought of someone like Dio actually having close friendships. Though he didn’t know why Dio had brought you here, he thought that you might relate to his situation, and that he could find some solace in knowing another person aware of Dio’s wickedness. However, the sight of you standing with Dio, clinging to him willingly with a smile that revealed just how aware you were of his true nature sparked a feeling of dread deep within Jonathan’s stomach.  He couldn’t imagine what he had done to deserve not one but two people inexplicably against him in his own home, but at least you wouldn’t be there all the time.

You wanted to spend the rest of the day at Dio’s side, following him throughout the manor and seeing what he does in a day of his new life, but he wouldn’t allow it. Promptly after the charity of showing you his room, he cut his “tour” off short by dumping you off in the library, where one of the estate’s servants had been waiting. Dio had already arranged for this servant to serve as your tutor for the time being, and you couldn’t help but pout as he left you there uncaringly to complete the rest of his day in peace.

As much as you wanted to storm out and find him again--and you did consider it, multiple times--you decided it best to stay and do what you were tasked with. Even if it seemed rotten at the time, you knew that this was as close as you’d get to a genuine kindness from Dio. It was rare for him to go out of his way to do something for any reason that did not directly benefit himself, and without Dio providing this, you would likely never be able to get any form of proper education. Thinking about it as a testament to your importance to Dio made you far more eager to learn and prove that you were fully capable of keeping up with him. Or, well, you would be, at least. No matter what.

Eventually, rather late in the afternoon, your lesson concluded and the servant politely took his leave. Left with nothing else to do, you searched for your beloved, and found him rather quickly in the foreroom, his eyes skimming the pages of a book. Even as he simply sat there alone, his presence seemed to fill the entire room.

"You’ve been invited to stay for dinner," he announced as you drew closer to him, not even looking up from his book. The thought of eating as rich people do certainly interested you. "I agreed on your behalf, but if your etiquette is anything short of perfect, you will not be invited back."

So dramatic, that boy was. As if every little thing was life or death. If he was really as willing to revoke his invitation as he acts, then why even bother to bring you in the first place?

"Yes, alright," you agree with little enthusiasm, and he glanced at you for a moment simply to narrow his eyes at you before returning to his book with a slight frown on his lips. You were certain he thought you to be taking the situation lightly, and perhaps you were, a little bit. “Will you teach me, then?”

“No,” he spat, slamming his book closed as a period. “You’ll figure it out.”

Your brow furrowed. Well now he was just being unreasonable.

“Do you expect me to try and mimic you?” you deduced, a little incredulous. “Is that what you mean?”

“Figure... it... out,” he repeated, with more emphasis on each word, and you sighed, accepting that he wouldn’t budge. It shouldn’t be too difficult, though, right?

In truth, the decision to allow you to stay for dinner was both a test for you and a scheme in his favor. Though you weren’t always very receptive to Dio’s attempts to boss you around in the past, you seemed to be at least aware that obeying him now was necessary if you desired to have any part in his life from then on. You had survived in the streets just as long as he himself, so he had little reason to believe that you’d be incapable of performing a task as simple as learning from his example, but he was interested in knowing exactly how proficient you would be at such a thing. And, if all went well, you would pass with flying colors, and Jonathan would be put to shame yet again in front of his father by the sight of being out-mannered by yet another child from the slums.

You were already used to spending much of your time watching and observing Dio, making note of what he did, how he spoke, and the shifts in his mood, so imitating which utensils he used, how he held them, and the posture he kept at the dinner table was not something you found to be particularly difficult. As a matter of fact, the most difficult part of the meal was simply feigning that you actually delighted in sharing it with 2 of the 3 people in your company.

Sitting at that bizarrely long dinner table made you feel quite out of place, and you found the thought of wealthy people like the Joestars eating meals as large and decadent as the one that was placed before you while people like you and Dio were forced to sway perpetually on the edge of starvation to be highly detestable. Daydreaming of a similar setting with only you and Dio was rather pleasant, though, because at least Dio would deserve to carry such a surplus of wealth. No one deserved it as much as he did. You were militant not to let your mind wander too far as you ate, however.

You did not care much to be part of the conversation that took place over dinner, and you only spoke if you were directly addressed by Mr. Joestar, both because you didn’t care much about the prattle of the wealthy, and because it was much easier to imitate the boy beside you when you didn’t have to worry about trying to sound more eloquent than usual. Though it wasn’t entirely disagreeable. Multiple times throughout the meal would you discreetly scoot your chair a bit closer to Dio’s under the guise of closer observation, but really, you were simply pleased to be eating with him.

Jonathan glanced at you frequently during the meal, and when your eyes were not locked on Dio or down at your own plate, you did your best to send some very deliberate looks his way and delighted in his mousy and nervous reactions. It became clear to you quickly exactly why Dio wanted you to stay for dinner--Jonathan was an utter mess at the table. Though he seemed to be trying to remain dignified and gentlemanly, he fell short in more ways than one, leaving dripping stains on his front and scarfing down his food much faster than anyone else at the table. You looked almost regal in comparison to him despite only just teaching yourself how to act on the spot, and his father even scolded him for acting so uncouth in front of Dio’s treasured guest. To Dio, this event was little more than a chance to humiliate Jonathan, and it was going splendidly. You shared a knowing glance with him near the end, and he gifted you with a satisfied grin.

After the meal, however, you were forced to part with Dio. It was getting late, and it would surely be fully dark by the time you made it home. Leaving the presence of the Joestars was quite a relief, even as comfortable as their home may be, but you abhorred departing with Dio so soon. The next week without him would feel like an eternity just as long as the last, but at the very least, you were able to take advantage of the benign persona he wore in front of his adoptive father in order to steal a short parting embrace from him. Dio’s reluctance was clear in the lightness of his touch, but you squeezed him as though he were a stuffed toy in your arms, and his quiet grunt in response appeased you. The air was chilly that night, but you felt much warmer on the inside thanks to him.

Chapter Text

As time passed, the routine of visiting Dio once a week became much more bearable. Although you were still quite saddened whenever you were sent back home, the knowledge that time would come to see him again in merely 6 days was comforting enough to keep you patient and optimistic.

Your trips only became more fun with time, as well. When Dio realized you were excelling in your lessons, he became far more open to rewarding you in the form of allowing you to accompany him for part of the day. It was frustrating at first, seeing as Dio was often found in the company of at least one or two of the devotees he'd amassed since moving away from the city, so finding time with him alone was just as difficult as before, if not even more so. You knew Dio was someone who would always have admirers whether he purposely tried to attract them or not--just look at yourself, for instance!--but would it kill him to shoo them away every once in a while?

Most of the time spent with Dio and his cronies was dedicated to worsening the life of his newfound adoptive brother, whether it be through spreading rumors, turning what little friends he had against him, or provoking him directly. In particular, Dio was quite interested in how he could use you to his advantage in his campaign against Jonathan. While he was quite aware of how ruthless Dio was, Jonathan’s knowledge of you didn’t stretch much further than your affectionate yet still ambiguous association with Dio. How much you supported Dio’s actions, the extent to which you even knew about his behavior, the true nature and depth of your relationship with him--all of this was still unclear to Jonathan. For this reason, you had a particular edge over Dio and his followers when it came to that rich boy, and it was you alone who would capitalize on it.

In truth, you wanted to impress Dio. While it was clear that he thought higher of you than of most of his mindless admirers, you still did not believe that he perceived you with the regard that you deserved. If your plan went well, he would finally see how truly valuable you could be to him. However, you were playing quite the dangerous game in enacting this behind his back.

One particular Saturday, long after Dio had dumped you off at your lessons, you took it upon yourself to sneak away from your tutor under the guise of a bathroom break. Watchfully and quietly, you made your way to the room you knew to be Jonathan’s, having been there once before with Dio to search for any belongings worth stealing in his absence. Fortunately, your target was indeed inside.

It only took two gentle knocks at the door for Jonathan to come answer, and the look of utter astonishment on his face to see you of all people standing there was nearly amusing enough to make you break character. He said your name in an almost apprehensive sort of way, and you did your best to look as meek and contrite as you possibly could.

“I’m sorry to impose on you so suddenly,” you began, sounding as forlorn as you could manage. “But… I wanted to speak with you in private.”

“I see, um... It’s no problem,” Jonathan assured with a dash more conviction, but he was hesitant as he stepped aside to allow you further into his room. You had to admit, it did feel a tad indecent to stand in the room of your beloved’s hated rival without his knowledge, but it was equally as thrilling. As you stepped inside, Jonathan faced you confidently, but you noted that he left quite a safe distance between the two of you.

“Thank you, Jonathan,” you said earnestly. “I know that I’m a stranger to you, but there’s something that’s been… bothering me lately.” 

“Could it be… about Dio?” Jonathan asked, and it nearly made you grin how transparently hopeful he sounded.

“How did you know?” you asked in faux shock, and Jonathan’s eyes seemed to alight at your confirmation. “It’s true, I’m afraid… I care very deeply about Dio--he’s my oldest friend, after all--but I just cannot remain silent any longer…”

As you spoke, Jonathan listened so intensely that you just about lost your train of thought for a moment wishing that Dio would listen with such attentiveness when you spoke. Such thoughts only fuelled your act, however.

“He scares me,” you admitted, quite proud of your own ability to deliver such fictitious lines. “I tried for so long to stomach his behavior, hoping that one day he would change for the better. He was so sweet as a child, you know. But no matter what I say or do, his heart only grows colder with each passing day. I fear that he will soon turn on me as well.” 

You were quite certain that you could pinpoint the exact moment that his heart ignited in flames for you, and it was quite a delightful feeling to see how easily you could wrap this gullible boy around your finger. He’d drifted much closer to you as well, apparently having decided he no longer needed to be wary of you. 

“I know how selfish it is for me to come to you like this, but I just didn’t know what to do,” you all but whimpered, a cherry atop your cake. “He’s brought me here again and again, asked me to do such horrible things against you… I’m not deserving of your compassion, but I hoped that you might understand my situation, at least a little bit. If Dio even finds out that I’m talking to you like this, I have no clue what he’ll do to me--to either of us.”

“That Dio!” Jonathan snarled to himself, his hands pulled into tight fists. Impassioned, he steps forward, grasping his hands quite heavily onto your shoulders as he stared at you with deadly solemness. “On my honor as a gentleman, I swear that I won’t let Dio hurt you!”

You couldn't quite bring yourself to tears to conclude your act, but it was clear you had succeeded nonetheless.

"Oh, thank you, Jonathan," you cried, pressing yourself against him in a hug that you found to be very uncomfortable. "You're so kind, so very kind…"

He was clearly taken aback by your bold embrace, but, evidently believing you needed it, he returned your hug and just about knocked the wind out of you in the process. 

"I must be getting back to the library,” you said as he released you. “Quickly, in case Dio decides to come for me. But I’m so delighted that you understand my predicament, and your kindness knows no bounds.”

“Do you want me to escort you?” Jonathan offered, a little surprised at your departure so soon after arriving.

“No, no, I’ll be fine,” you assured. “Should I run into Dio, I can simply tell him I’ve been out on a walk. If he sees us together, he’ll be far more suspicious.”

“...You’re right,” Jonathan admitted with his hands balled once again into fists, frustrated at his inability to help you immediately. How sweet.

All went smoothly for the rest of the afternoon with no signs of your beloved until he came to fetch you for dinner, a gladly welcomed part of your usual routine in the Joestar manor. However, the meal itself was a little more tricky .

Foolishly, you’d hoped that Jonathan would remain subtle and secretive about your earlier confession to him, and while he did not outwardly say anything about it to you or Dio, it still couldn’t have been more obvious that something was out of the ordinary. While Jonathan is known to send occasional dejected or apprehensive glances your or Dio’s way, on this particular occasion, Jonathan could not seem to take his eyes off of the two of you, but you especially. And rather than a wary or distant expression, you could nearly see the flames burning in his eyes. Dio took notice of this immediately, of course, and he sent many confused and suspicious glances your way as well, but you did your best to play oblivious and focus on your food. On the inside, however, you were cursing Jonathan more than you ever had before--how could he possibly be this dense? 

Although you were usually sent off straight after dinner, on this occasion, Dio kept you behind a moment on the porch before you could make it to the carriage waiting for you across the front lawn.

“Jonathan was acting unusually,” he declared with vivid annoyance, and you kept your expression neutral and curious as you stared at him.

“How so?” you asked nonchalantly, and the glare he gave you spoke to his vexation. “I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying much attention.”

Dio tutted at you angrily, and you pouted.

“He would not stop staring at you, and his face--” Dio cuts himself off as he stares at the ground with his brow furrowed, presumably reasoning with himself why he might have been doing so. “Did you speak with him today while I was out?”

“Don’t tell me you’re jealous,” you teased, cupping your cheeks with your hands gleefully, but Dio is far from amused, so you pout again. “No, I did not. But I would have if I’d know that you’d get so jealous.”

He didn’t even bother to defend himself from your ridiculous claim, and your pout only increased in severity. No fun at all, your Dio was. He brought his stare back to you for a few seconds, and you popped a grin again at the attention.

“...Whatever,” he decided. “I’ll figure it out.” 

Though you managed to keep it together, you couldn’t help but squeal inwardly. It was very rare that you would dare to lie to Dio, simply because you never had a reason to, but to think he would trust and believe you so quickly and easily! He really must have a soft spot for you, mustn’t he?

“I’m sure you will,” you said, then bit your lip, fighting off a mischievous expression.

“What?” Dio snapped, and you lunged forward in an instant.

Dio could’ve avoided your attack, tripped you over onto your face or even twisted your wrist so hard that it broke if he felt so provoked, but he knew you rather well at this point, and was very familiar with the nature of this specific assault. He grunted a little as you collided with him rather roughly, and he frowned with annoyance as he felt how cold your nose was as you pressed it into his neck. Though he didn’t hug you back to any extent, you were content that he merely allowed you to do so, even without anyone there to witness it.

“Bye bye,” you chimed happily as you released him, and the last thing you saw before you took your leave was Dio straightening his tie, looking slightly ruffled. When you made it to the carriage across the lawn and turned around, he was gone. 

The next time you saw Dio, he was quite clearly agitated. Evidently, Jonathan had been acting very strange throughout the entire week since your last visit, but Dio still hadn’t managed to figure out why. You were worried about him seeing through your attempt to conceal how pleased you were by this news as he filled you in, but luckily, he didn’t seem to take notice. His mind must’ve been too busy mulling over the possibilities, or perhaps he did notice but simply did not suspect that it could have anything to do with you . Well, that would all change soon. Your seed had been planted and bloomed beautifully in your absence, so all that was left to do was pluck the flower from the soil.

Dio had not made a habit of escorting you to the library when you arrived, unless of course Mr. Joestar was watching, so it was up to you to make your way there on your own. However, on this occasion, you hesitated before you left, and the look on Dio’s face impatiently urged you to let out with it, whatever it was. 

“I have a gift for you,” you admitted, biting your lip in subdued anticipation. “So come to the library in an hour. Don’t come inside though--just wait near the door.”

Dio was not very fond of being told what to do to any degree, but the prospect of a gift from you certainly did intrigue him. What could you possibly give to him? He said nothing and did nothing as you left him, only staring after you as you went, deep within his own mind. He had planned to go into the city that day, but perhaps this was worth investigating…

Unnecessary punctuality was never something Dio concerned himself with, but as you had requested, Dio found himself leaning against the wall beside the ornate wooden doors of the library more or less an hour later. In fact, it was much closer to an hour and ten minutes, and Dio was starting to wish he had just left for the city as he had planned, downright ignoring whatever nonsense you had spoken about a gift. He should have known, he thought. Certainly you would be offering something frivolous and inane, like one of your intemperate hugs . He was wasting his precious time, and all that was left to do was leave before you received the satisfaction of knowing you’d even intrigued him.

A moment later, you turned the corner, and gasped so loudly that one might have mistook it for a scream. Dio furrowed his brow in confusion for a moment as he watched you, and his expression teetered on the edge of anger as suddenly, hot on your tail, Jonathan stumbled into view as well, an almost comical look of shock on his face as his eyes landed on his newfound sibling.

“Oh, Jonathan, I just knew he’d be here!” you cried in anguish, scurrying behind him in distress, though keeping view of Dio. You let a grin slip onto your face for a moment and Dio narrowed his eyes at you as he tried to figure out what exactly you’d been up to. 

“Don’t worry!” Jonathan assured you, fire in his eyes, his stance, his voice. “I won’t let him hurt you again!”

Hurt you? Dio cocked an eyebrow at this, pushing himself off of the wall to fully face the two of you with his arms crossed.

“Please don’t, Jonathan, he’ll only hurt you too!” you cried, your voice so theatrical that you were almost surprised by how seriously Jonathan took you while you used it. In contrast to your words and out of the sight of your protector, you still looked at Dio and nodded towards Jonathan, making a subtle punching gesture with one hand as well. Dio hummed, and a smirk pulled at the corners of his mouth.

“How awful,” he spat with his nose raised up, stepping closer to Jonathan, who you saw clench his fists harder in response. “Sneaking around behind my back with my dear friend, and standing between us like some vulgar excuse for a knight in shining armor. No matter how you look at it, this can only be seen as a challenge, can it not?”

With that, Dio raised his fists, and Jonathan as well in turn. You stepped back from the scene, not wanting to lurk within the danger zone, and you brought your hands to your mouth in faux distress to hide the giddy smile you could no longer fight off. Not only had your endeavor worked out, but you were also getting to see the utterly romantic affair of Dio fighting over you. Sure, it was simply a ruse that he took the chance to play into, but it wasn’t hard to pretend .

“Dio!” Jonathan shouted in retaliation. “Friends aren’t meant to be treated like garbage, no matter how long you’ve known them! I won’t let you make them miserable and involve them in your schemes any longer!”

Involve you in his schemes, huh? How ironic, when Dio is the one who has just been involved in one of yours. 

“Quiet,” Dio ordered. “We’ll settle this with our fists.”

Dio had told you before in the past about how fully and hopelessly he’d beaten Jonathan in fights--thus giving you this idea in the first place--but seeing them with your own eyes was different. As hard as Jonathan tried, he couldn’t even lay a finger on Dio. It was over before you knew it, Jonathan’s virtuous determination crushed in mere seconds by Dio’s skill. In the aftermath, Dio adjusted his tie with elegance, though you could tell he was basking in his victory by the almost manic look in his eyes as he stared down at his crumbled opponent. Jonathan hadn’t stood a chance.

It was difficult to hide your excitement as you “reluctantly” left the scene on Dio’s tail, but you turned your head to throw one last sympathetic look at Jonathan, who returned your stare pathetically, one eye swollen. The moment you turned the corner, you swooned into the boy at your side. He was victorious--it showed in his posture, his expression, his stride. Confidence and glory radiated off of him, and you couldn’t help but bask in it, even more so knowing that you had caused it.

“Did you like your gift?” you asked gleefully once enough space had grown between the two of you and Jonathan, nearly skipping at Dio’s side. He glanced at you, away, then back again, and you stared at him expectantly.

“...Perhaps I underestimated your enterprise,” he conceded, careful not to sound too pleased, though you had no such qualms as you clasped your arms around one of his own with joy. “But don’t do something like that without my knowledge again.” 

“Whatever you say,” you chimed, overjoyed at his subtle recognition.

Unbeknownst to you, Dio thought that you felt quite at home hanging from his arm like a prize, especially after the sight of you standing beside Jonathan, practically clinging to that imbecile as if you were no longer his--and what a profane thought that was.

-

Though Jonathan remained somewhat woven around your finger as time passed from that day, his attention was soon focused elsewhere. It was maddening at first, as you thought that you’d failed your task of keeping Jonathan within your grasp in case Dio were to think of another way to use Jonathan’s perception of you against him, but Dio did not seem too upset about it once he had figured out the cause: a young woman by the name of Erina Pendleton. 

Jonathan’s mood lifted noticeably once he started to spend most of his time with her, and it became more difficult for Dio to alienate him when he was hardly ever around; so he set his sights on the girl.

You weren’t very happy about that.

“You’re going to do what?!”

At the end of your visit, just before you went on your way, Dio decided to share with you the news of his plan to get rid of Jonathan’s sweetheart, which was meant to go underway while you were back in the gutters. In that moment, you were sure there wasn’t a single thing he could’ve told you that would’ve made you more upset.

“Kiss her,” Dio repeated vexedly, grimacing at the volume of your voice. 

“Why?!” you asked. You knew why. But why would he do this to you? “Can’t it be someone else?! Can’t you do something else?!”

“Don’t let your emotions make you senseless,” he snapped, as aloof as ever as he crossed his arms obstinately. “Bother me any more about it and you’ll stay in the slums next week.”

“She doesn’t deserve it,” you argued sourly, showing defiance with much more austerity than usual. “Not any kiss from you, but certainly not your first!”

“You think that you deserve it?” he asked coldly with a roll of his eyes, and you were completely taken aback.

“Obviously!” you shouted in disbelief. Who else but you would deserve such an honor? Who in the world could be worthy of it even nearly much as you?

“Enough!” Dio commanded, but you were too indignant to care.

“I’ve let you treat me with disregard for so long,” you said resolutely, standing as tall and proud as Dio, “but this is something I cannot allow you to do to me.”

“‘Let?’” he echoed, his voice low and unnerving. “‘Allow?’”

His hand met with your shoulder, shoving your back against the manor’s front entrance with ease. You stared at him in shock, your eyes blown wide as they stared back into his own. Had he really done that? Put his hands on you? You, his favorite? His face was quite close to yours as he constrained you, but surprisingly, you could think only of pushing him away.

“Do you think you have such power over me? You, a mindless, besotted admirer? Have you forgotten who even allows you to come here in the first place? I could cancel your carriage on a whim, and you’d never see my face again. Do not forget your place--I never have and never will need you in my life. To aid me is a luxury that can be revoked at any moment. You would ungratefully waste this undeserved kindness on something as asinine and foolish as a kiss?”

Your eyes stung, but you didn’t let yourself cry in front of him. He would feel no sympathy. On impulse, you brought your hand up to wrap around the wrist that held you back, your fingernails digging into his skin. He did not flinch.

“I love you,” you said solemnly, and you meant it. “I have only ever loved you. Nothing you could ever give to me would be as undeserved of a kindness as that.”

Without another word, Dio snatched his hand away, so abruptly that your nails scratched into his skin. You gasped quietly, thinking you may have scraped him hard enough to bleed, but he’d slammed the door behind him before you could even try to look. You were alone.

Nothing felt real after he left your line of sight, and you couldn’t believe you had said that to him. It must’ve been someone else, right? You wouldn’t say that to your beloved. You could never. But you had.

That night and the following day, you surely could’ve filled a bucket with the amount of tears you cried. Your Dio was not kind to you, but he’d never spoken to you so cruelly before. It was not like the offhanded insults of days gone by--he spoke with intent to hurt you, to intimidate you into submission, and you’d rebutted harshly enough that he was undoubtedly angry with you. After what happened, you couldn’t even tell whether or not he’d let you return the next week, and the thought sent you into another bout of tears. 

But fate would smile upon you. She, tender and guiding, surely knew the same truth that you had understood from your childhood--Dio would be yours, and you his. Neither of you could thwart this predestined entanglement. By serendipity alone, your feet had taken you on a walk to the bridge that stretched across a nearby river on the second day after you’d last seen Dio. It was further than you liked to venture at night and on your own, but you couldn’t bring yourself to care. The scenery was calming, and that was exactly what you needed after what had occurred at the manor. But he was there.

You thought you were seeing things at first, mistaking a stranger for your Dio, but there was just no questioning it. If anyone could recognize him from afar, it was you. But what would you do? Though the idea of seeing him and speaking to him as normal was almost irresistible, part of you was angry at him for how he spoke you--and another part feared that he was still angry. What if you made it worse, and you truly never got to see him again?

No, that was impossible. He was yours, and you shared the mark to prove it. Something as inconsequential as an argument over a kiss could not change that.

But… the kiss. Did he really go through with it? Just the thought made your blood boil--that he’d give such a thing to that dull, spoiled rich girl before you . He’d never apologize over such a thing and you wouldn’t expect him to, but you’d certainly remember this for quite a long time. 

All of this internal strife was cutting into time that would be better spent with Dio, you decided. If he left before he even saw you there, you’d be devastated. Holding your head high and doing your best not to appear as though you actually needed to approach him, you closed the distance between you, but you realize that he must’ve already noticed you when he doesn’t react at all to you stopping beside him. You certainly do, however, when you take him in up close.

He wouldn’t look at you, but the glow of the streetlamp was strong enough for you to see that he’d been crying. It wasn’t too recent, only a slight redness in his eyes and puffiness in his cheeks, but it was clear as day to you on the face of your resilient Dio. Just as appalling was the striking evidence of a fight--a fight that he’d lost , or at the very least had trouble with. It was almost chilling to see; it had been so long since someone had actually managed to hurt him that you practically thought him untouchable at this point.

“Was it... Jonathan?” you asked, though your own disbelief was clear in your tone. Dio’s frustration and defeat were evident in the scowl that he wore, and he ignored your question.

“His revolting mutt is dead,” Dio spat, his arms crossed tightly across his chest. “But I underestimated his strength. My current state puts me at a disadvantage, so I’m changing my strategy.”

You listened intently as he spoke, but a nagging voice in the back of your head couldn’t suppress its curiosity.

“Did you kiss her?” you asked, your voice quaint but stained with bitterness. The last thing you wanted was for him to yell at you again, especially when he no longer seemed upset with you anymore and something serious had happened in your absence, but you couldn’t help it.

Dio sighed, though he seemed more tired than annoyed. Finally, he turned his head and looked at you directly. His face was difficult to read.

“Come here,” he muttered, and you wasted no time in taking another step closer to him. 

His eyes were devoid of any sentimentality as his hand grasped the back of your head, and he kissed you with almost bewildering inelegance. It was awkward, painfully forceful, and over in fewer seconds than you could count on one hand, fully lacking any of the fairy tale romanticness that you’d daydreamt of in the past, but it was enough. It was just what you’d expect from your beloved. Your heart swelled for him once again.

“There,” he announced as he released you, returning his gaze out in front of him as he pretended not to notice you swooning at his side. “So don’t bother me about it again.”

Of course, you’re too busy outright beaming both inside and out to agree to this request of his.

“My temper has made me vulnerable,” Dio said after a moment, returning to the more pressing matter, and you did your best to remain attentive. “I’m going to subdue it. I’ll no longer be acting as an enemy to Jojo. The only way to triumph in this situation is to change.”

And change he would.