they’re in louxor when avdol offers to read all their fortunes— with the exception of kakyoin, who is in the hospital at the time. they all gather in his and joseph’s hotel room after dinner.
for reasons that elude jotaro now beyond idiotic, morbid buffoonery that they had a tendency to veer towards at the time, they ask avdol to predict something about their deaths. he agrees.
“just a forewarning,” he says in advance, “i don’t tell people bad things, even if i see them.”
joseph goes first. avdol, for some reason, elects to use palmistry instead of his tarot deck, rolling his eyes good naturedly when joseph gives him his metal hand first.
he says after a moment, “you’re going to die content with yourself. there won’t be a single bit of regret when you pass on.”
“is that it? how boring,” joseph complains, but accepts it easily enough.
polnareff is next. avdol’s expression flickers neutrally as he examines whatever the hell it is he’s looking at, and he finally says, “when you die, you’re filled with thoughts of hope and friendship— full of thoughts of old friends, and hope for the future you helped bring about.”
polnareff laughs. “hope and friendship! like a disney film, i like it!” they all snicker a bit. it’s probably fitting for him to die with such heroic thoughts, anyway.
jotaro goes last. when he holds out his hand avdol takes it carefully, just like he did with joseph and polnareff.
his reading takes the longest, and jotaro begins to wonder just what sort of fucked up death he has when avdol finally looks up.
he says, his voice a bit strange, “you’re not thinking of anything particular when you die— just observing what you see.”
“what i see?” jotaro questions, and his grandfather and polnareff all lean forward in interest.
“the ocean,” avdol says. accompanying his words is the rumble of water of a dream.
“it will be clear, blue, and the last thing you ever set your eyes on.”
Post-impact, it is 1989.
By then the urge to travel, to put himself in a position where he has to be on the defensive is almost overwhelming. There is a wanderlust, a restless feeling in him, and a suggestion that makes him assume that he won’t be coming home any time soon. This means filling out forms, getting a Green Card, so on. On all his papers reads in perfect English, Jotaro Cujoh. No more kanji for him.
And so this is how it is: he’s attending his first year of college in Washington state when he meets his future ex-wife in an English class.
“Call me Nicole,” is what she says when they finally introduce themselves.
“Then call me Jojo,” he returns. No one here can say his name quite right. It drives him crazy.
She makes a face. “No thanks,” as if one can just refuse something like that. “That’s… too cute. I’ll butcher your first name, so if it’s alright, I’ll stick with Cujoh.”
Jotaro has half a mind to just glare at her until she caves and calls him Jojo, but he misses the way it’s normal to call others by their family name, anyway.
“Fine,” he says flatly. “Catalano.”
This is the beginning of many things, but perhaps also the end of something, as well— something indescribable and intangible that signals the death of Jotaro’s adolescence. Perhaps it signals the end of “Kujo Jotaro” entirely, as he is replaced by his adult counterpart, all college degrees and unaccented English— immigrant, foreigner, and indifferent to his supernatural childhood secrets.
Nicoletta Catalano, with short hair and a no-nonsense attitude, has a strange sense of humor— and is, slightly more notably, a woman. A gorgeous young woman, as some of his college friends can’t seem to stop pointing out.
He no longer remembers when it exactly it was when they went from acquaintances to friends to lovers. Perhaps it would be better if he remembered. But all he can recall now is the feeling of her tongue in his mouth, and how his heart had raced and his body had stiffened in electric shock— full of tension.
She mistakes it for enjoyment when they break apart, and she laughs at the way his expression seems stiff, marble-like. She seems to think it’s endearing. She’s enchanted.
“I know,” she says near the beginning, “You’re not actually all that into me, are you?” She shushes him when he tries to reply. “Don’t worry about it, Cujoh. Let’s just both enjoy ourselves.”
He doesn’t understand her at all. “Give me a fucking break,” he says, aggrieved. “You’re a real piece of work, Catalano.”
In a way, Jotaro is enchanted too. He’s bespelled, so in love with something here— he must be, because he stays with her. It’s like a spell, an expectation of adulthood, and it slowly pervades the gaps between pages and pages of botany notes and chemistry equations.
Once, she asks, “What’s ‘Star Platinum’?”
Jotaro forces himself not to stiffen, and he says, “Where’d you hear that, Catalano?”
Nicoletta Catalano says, “You said it under your breath yesterday.”
“None of your damn business,” he tells her as he lights a cig, and proceeds to refuse to answer any more questions about it.
Finally she says, exasperated, “Talking to you is such a pain. It’s like trying to swim in the fucking ocean. Throw me a life jacket, will you?”
“That’s really all you’ve got to say?”
Is there something she wants him to say? If so, she hasn’t made it particularly clear. He takes another slow drag of his cigarette, if only to create time for a proper response.
“I like the ocean,” he says finally. “So I don’t see a problem with that. Go take a swimming class.”
Her head snaps to look at him incredulously, then bursts out laughing. She kisses him, as if he’s made her day. It makes his head spin— she notices, points out that if he feels shitty, maybe he should stop smoking so much. It’s a disgusting habit anyway.
“Looks hot as hell, though,” she admits, and it’s only one more thing about her he just doesn’t understand.
To be honest, she probably doesn’t understand him much, either.
Nicoletta Catalano dates Jotaro Cujoh, an international Japanese student majoring in zoology. He’s quiet, tall, and a bit antisocial. She doesn’t know a single thing about Kujo Jotaro, a juvenile delinquent with a combustive temper and his dying mother.
She doesn’t know anything about the star on the back of his neck, stone masks and vampires and stands and family history and the international phone calls that go out to France once a month, in the dead of night. She always asks how he gets all his booze so easily, and he never gives her a straight answer.
She doesn’t know anything about the way Jotaro sometimes gets up during the witching hour, quietly and without fanfare, his heart pounding out of his chest, already reaching for his pack of cigarettes. He’ll walk out of his dorm in nothing but a tank top no matter the weather and sit down on a bench, savoring in the unfamiliar, unsettling darkness until the cold chills his bones and he can’t feel anything. The restlessness digs deep into his gut, making itself comfortable.
Every time she tells him something about herself, she looks at him carefully, waiting for him to say something about himself, as well. He can only look at her coolly, wondering how someone can be willing to share so freely.
There are things he doesn’t want to say. There are things he couldn’t say, even if he could. The few things he’s mentioned she hasn’t taken seriously, to which he can’t blame her. Sometimes he looks at himself and thinks, I’ve been arrested, I’ve killed people, and he almost can’t believe himself, either. It seems as if it was a lifetime ago.
It’s the summer after freshman year that the Speedwagon Foundation contacts him for assistance in a “particular endeavor,” the first of many times. He leaves his grandfather a voicemail on his landline, the only indication that something has come up— and for three months he is entirely AWOL.
He comes back in time for fall semester, and she finds him almost immediately, demands, “What the hell, Cujoh— call a girl once in a while, will you? Where were you?”
“Russia,” he tells her truthfully, and finds himself relieved that his scratches and nicks can be explained away with mundane incidents.
She takes him to parties, dates, high-class restaurants and weekend barbecues at frat houses. Spring break of sophomore year, she says, “My parents are visiting from Florida— I was hoping maybe I could maybe introduce you to them.”
The hint is not so subtle the next time around— she asks him plainly if she’s ever going to meet his family.
So summer break after spring semester, he takes her to New York to see Grandpa Joseph, Grandma Suzi, and his mother— who is visiting the US for a bit.
When the time finally comes, she’s ready to throttle him with her tiny hands.
“Your grandfather’s Joseph Joestar?!” She hisses. “Are you fucking kidding me?! I’m dating a billionaire’s grandson and you never thought it would be important to mention?”
“Good grief,” he replies. “Don’t say that to his face. The old man’s ego is big enough already.”
The meeting ends up going just fine— Joseph shakes her hand excitedly, Grandma Suzi delights in the fact that she can speak Italian.
“I hope you don’t mind my grandson,” Joseph laughs and slaps Jotaro’s back, ignoring the glare he gets in return. “He can be a bit rough around the edges, but he’s a good kid.”
Holly and Sadao are there, as well. He and his father exchange awkward nods. His mother pecks him on the cheek and hugs him tightly, which he accepts with a badly concealed grimace— something that doesn’t escape Nicoletta’s notice.
“So you’re Nicole?” Holly asks her enthusiastically. “Call me Holly, dear— I’m Jotaro’s mom. He has horrible phone etiquette and hangs up early all the time, I never get to ask him much about you! So how did you two meet?”
Their meal together is loud and boisterous, with Joseph’s booming laugh, Grandma Suzi and Holly’s exuberance shining through. Nicoletta almost looks overwhelmed from the noise, and sometimes the language switches into a bastard child of Japanese and English before everyone remembers that not everyone at the table can speak the former.
Jotaro is struck by the fact that it’s a far cry from the chill, easygoing camaraderie she has with her own parents. The Joestars— and Kujos— are, for the most part, much more affectionate, to the point of cheesiness. Multiple hugs and kisses are exchanged between people, and after the meal his mother and Nicolette disappear off to who-knows-where in the blasted mansion.
“Oh dear, could you get your mother and Nicole? I’m afraid they left before I handed out gifts!” Grandma Suzi jumps up and down excitedly. “I almost forgot!”
“Gifts?” Jotaro asks warily. “It’s July.”
“I just felt like it,” she says dismissively. “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, Jotaro. Go on now, go find them. Shoo!”
He wanders down the hallway, wondering where they could have gone. It’s only when he hears Nicoletta’s voice through the door that he finds them, yet when he reaches out to turn the door knob, his girlfriend’s voice stops him.
“— Don’t know your son very well,” she says, and her voice is as even as ever. “To be honest, he didn’t even tell me that he was… well… rich. Knowing him, it probably doesn’t even matter. I don’t even mind that much, honestly. But I’m starting to think that he doesn’t think anything is worth telling, and he really won’t say anything about his childhood to me. I didn’t know he was a quarter Italian, or that Mr. Cujoh was a jazz musician. I thought his dad was dead , really, since he never mentioned him at all.”
“Well, Sadao and Jotaro have never been close,” Holly says. Her voice is kind, understanding. “He’s always on tour, see, so Jotaro never really sees him more than once a year. And they had a rough relationship while he was in high school, what with the number of times I’ve had to ask Sadao to wire money over for his bail…”
“Bail?!” Nicoletta sputters. Jotaro’s grip tightens on the circular knob. “He’s been arrested before?!”
“Oh dear, he didn’t even tell you that?” Holly sounds shocked. “Well, Jotaro was a bit wild in that stage of his life, I suppose, but he’s never killed anyone.”
She has no idea how that sounds. For Holly, who knows how much trouble her own father had gotten into in his youth, “never killing anyone” must truly be a good thing. For her, whose faith and love in her son makes her believe that he can never do any wrong, it must truly be the case.
He’s never told her about Egypt, and maybe she’s simply thought, in her own kind way, that he simply wouldn’t have ever done anything horrible there.
“... told me that he’d been in prison,” Nicoletta murmurs, bringing him out of his wayward thoughts. “I thought he was joking.”
“I suppose I’ll have to ask you to forgive him,” Holly replies. “Jotaro is a sweet boy, but he’s not very good at explaining anything about himself. It makes it seem like he doesn’t care about anyone, but that isn’t true at all.”
Jotaro takes moment to pull open the door abruptly. “Grandma Suzi wants us in the living room,” he grunts, and the conversation reaches an abrupt end.
Most vivid is the feeling of being on a gently rocking boat, floating towards oblivion. Away, away it floats as it meanders away from the mainland. The sun sets, and the world seems still and dark— the battle is over, the battle is over.
Yet still, it floats, further and further away from civilization, and he feels lost in his own wanderlust. He wonders what he’s searching for, until he stares over the starry horizon to consider that all he’s looking for is “Kujo Jotaro.” Or, his “adolescence.”
The boat slides through water. They’re on a ferry in New York when Nicoletta asks him, “You’ve ever gone scuba diving, Jotaro?”
“Once,” he tells her, but doesn’t elaborate. Just once. “Nicoletta.”
“Thanks,” he says. He’s not sure what he means by it, but she seems to get something out of it. She smiles— wholeheartedly, without a bit of recalcitrance. It’s bright. Everything seems muted in comparison to the moment, the feeling of her happiness.
In hindsight, he thinks, that when he looks to her— his dear friend, his greatest mistake— it’s that moment he thinks to, where he had mistaken something in her expression, the way she had mistaken his.
Yet the substance that colors these years are light, golden and gleaming. He tries to put into words how he felt at the time; he had been content with being washed up in tide, simply letting things flow. The whole scene warped in unsurety. He had been unaware of what he had wanted, and only that there were expectations to fill. He was only sure that there were things in his past he didn’t want anyone to touch.
Yes, it’s like watching triumphant video reel, all pomp and fanfare, of the RMS Titanic— ready to set sail before its maiden voyage.