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If what you want is just to be used, then I’ll be sure to use you

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If what you want is just to be used, then I’ll be sure to use you

 

Since joining Passione, Bruno Bucciarati had made it a priority to be aware of everything that occurred in his district of Naples. This included illegal happenings as well as public ones, past and present.

So of course he was aware that the police officer Leone Abbachio had been discharged from duty due to having taken a bribe from a criminal and being responsible for the death of one of his fellow policemen. It was just another clear failure of Italy’s police force that this Leone Abbachio wasn’t arrested and put in jail for his transactions.

Bruno kept tabs on him, like he kept tabs on everyone, and it soon became clear to him that this Leone Abbachio was not the corrupt man he’d assumed. On the contrary, Leone Abbachio seemed to be one of the most purely well-intentioned cops to have been on Naples’ police force. Whereas a corrupt man who’d been dismissed from police duty would probably have turned to crime himself, Leone Abbachio fell into a clear state of depression. This depression manifested as alcoholism and a complete neglect for his own well-being.

Normally one would consider a homeless alcoholic to be one of the most worthless kinds of human beings, but this was clearly not the case for Leone Abbachio. Even despite his homelessness and alcoholism, he never once turned to crime to fund his drinking habit. Instead, he searched through trash bins for recyclable bottles and then turned them in for change.

Which he of course then used to buy himself alcohol and become so drunk he couldn’t walk straight, but it was clear from the way he flinched whenever he witnessed crime and promptly took another swig of whatever alcohol was in his hand, that his depression stemmed from a disgust for the world around him and a perceived inability to do anything about it.

A background check into Leone Abbachio’s past supported this conclusion: from as young as elementary school, Leone Abbachio had had the dream of becoming a policeman in order to keep the streets safe, and he’d vowed to give his life in pursuit of justice. However, after becoming a cop and being faced with the corrupt reality, he’d given up, believing there was nothing he could do, and started taking bribes from criminals rather than arresting them. One of these criminals had almost taken his life, if not for his fellow police officer sacrificing his life to save him and dying in his stead.

And after that and being dismissed from the police force, Leone Abbachio spiraled into an ever-deepening depression. At that time he was drinking through an average of four wine bottles a day and at that rate it seemed like he would drink himself to death within the year.

Bruno was preparing to build himself a team within Passione, a team of good people who, rather than being after money or the thrill of crime, truly cared about others and would help him transform his district of Naples into a safer, more righteous place. And he couldn’t think of better person to start that team with than Leone Abbachio, who cared so much he couldn’t face the corruptness of the world without drinking until he was nearly unconscious.

Bruno was not above using manipulation to achieve his ends. And Leone Abbachio, as depressed and disillusioned as he was, would likely not accept Bruno’s offer when even relatively sober. Bruno would have to ask him when he was at his absolute lowest point, when the alcohol had brought him to care so little he’d agree simply because he no longer had a reason to refuse.

And so Bruno watched Leone Abbachio and waited for an especially bad day, when he drank even more than usual, and then he waited until the middle of the night, because it was always the worst for Leone Abbachio at night. And maybe it was fate, but that night it also happened to be raining, and as Bruno approached the abandoned house Leone Abbachio was staying in, the man himself stumbled drunkenly to the door.

Leone Abbachio’s hair was long and limp; uncut for months, unwashed and unbrushed for weeks, if not months. There were dark circles under his yellow-violet eyes and his face was wan and sunken. His black clothes, like an outfit of mourning, hung from his lanky frame. He stared at Bruno without blinking.

Bruno smiled at him. “My name is Bruno Bucciarati,” he said, placing the hand that wasn’t holding his umbrella over his chest. “I’m part of the gang ‘Passione.’ I’m building a team, and I want you to be part of it, Leone Abbachio.”

Leone Abbachio just stared at him. There was an almost-empty bottle of white wine held in his right hand. “You’re an idiot,” he stated, and tried to move past Bruno.

Bruno stepped into his path and didn’t let him. “If you’re out to buy more alcohol, you should realize that you’re out of money. If you come with me, though, I’ll buy you a drink.” Bruno was not above using manipulation to achieve his ends.

Maybe anyone else would have seen Leone Abbachio as worthless, but Bruno felt that Leone Abbachio was the most passionately righteous man he had ever had the honor of encountering. If Leone Abbachio joined him, he was sure their ideals and values would match up perfectly.

Leone Abbachio stared at him, drunk and exhausted, and pulled out his wallet. He fumbled with it until he was able to flip it open and find that, indeed, he had no more money. Bruno had been keeping careful tabs on him, waiting for a day—or a night, rather—like this.

Leone Abbachio looked blankly at his empty wallet. This was Bruno’s chance; “Join me,” he said, and held out his hand that wasn’t holding the umbrella. Drops of rain fell into his palm. “If you hear me out, I’ll buy you a drink. I know a bar that’s still open at this time.”

Leone Abachio looked at him and fumbled his empty wallet into his pocket. “You’re paying,” he said, and stepped out from the doorway into the rain.

It wouldn’t do to have him soaked, so Bruno took his arm and pulled him under the umbrella. “You’ll get sick if you get too wet.” Leone Abbachio only grunted in response. He was incredibly drunk and not walking straight, so Bruno held onto his arm to keep him from stumbling out from under the umbrella or slipping and falling into a puddle.

Bruno led him to Alessandro’s bar, a man he knew well and who he knew wouldn’t give them any trouble. Anyone who didn’t know Bruno would no doubt be concerned if a man, clearly sober as he was, brought in another man who was clearly drunk almost to the point of unconsciousness, and then bought that already-drunk man another drink. And their concern would more likely than not be justified.

But this was Bruno, and Alessandro knew him and had more than once had been assisted by him during times of personal or business crisis, so when Bruno brought Leone Abbachio to the bar and ordered each of them a Prosecco, Alessandro gave Bruno an expression of sympathy and brought them their drinks at their table along with a couple small complementary bowls of green olives.

Leone Abbachio ignored the olives and reached straight for the wine, downing half of it in a few quick gulps. His eyes widened slightly at the bubbles, clearly not having been paying enough attention to have realized that Bruno had ordered sparkling wine.

Bruno watched him and took a small sip from his own glass before setting it down. “As I said, my name is Bruno Bucciarati. I’m a member of the gang known as Passione and I want to recruit you to my team.” It felt necessary to repeat that since it was unlikely the drunk man remembered. Leone Abbachio glared at him and downed the rest of his wine.

It didn’t seem that the man was ready to listen. “I took the liberty of ordering for us,” Bruno said, “but if you need another drink you can order what you want. I’m paying.”

Leone Abbachio glared at him for another moment and then swiveled in his chair, raising an arm to flag down a waiter. It was half past 3 AM but there were still customers in the bar, mostly in the front by the open windows. Bruno had taken a table in the back.

When Alessandro came over, Leone Abbachio said without preamble: “A shot of vodka.” Alessandro glanced at Bruno, who nodded, signaling that it was okay.

Alessandro nodded and returned behind the bar to get the drink while Bruno took another sip of his Prosecco and observed Leone Abbachio. The drunkard sat slumped in his chair with his elbows on his thighs and hands dangling limply between his legs, his head bowed so that his long platinum-blond hair fell like a curtain into his face. His expression was numb and his gaze was dull. He looked like a man who had given up and was simply waiting for life to finally get sick and tired enough of torturing him to bestow the mercy of letting him die.

It hurt Bruno to see a good man so broken and he hoped he’d be able to give the ex-police officer a purpose that would put his deep sense of justice to good use.

Alessandro returned with the shot of vodka and hardly had he set it down when Leone Abbachio grabbed it off the table and knocked it back, almost slamming the glass down on the table. “Another,” he ordered.

Alessandro pursed his lips, but at Bruno’s nodding he turned to comply.

Bruno ate one of the olives, removed the pit from his mouth and set it carefully on the plate. Leone Abbachio’s eyes were bright now, almost livid, if slightly watery. Whether that was from the burn of the vodka or from some unspeakable spiritual pain Bruno didn’t know.

“I want you to join me, Leone Abbachio. Will you?” Leone Abbachio looked at him with yellow-violet eyes that burned with worlds of pain, and Bruno felt confident as he said, “I can give you a purpose. You’ll be able to help keep the city safe and protect its citizens in a way the police force never could.”

Leone Abbachio’s eyes burned, but they burned emptily. “If ya really wan’ me, I’ll join yer damn gang.” His voice was slurred. “But it’s yer loss.”

Bruno smiled, feeling triumphant. “No, it’s my gain.”

Leone Abbachio only scoffed and downed the second vodka shot when Alessandro set it in front of him.

“Good, then I’ll bring you to your new accommodations,” Bruno stood from the table. He reached for his wallet to pay Alessandro, who tried to refuse the money, but Bruno quietly insisted until the man gave in.

When he turned back around, he found Leone Abbachio finishing off his glass of Prosecco. “ ‘S rude t’ leave withou’ finishin’ yer drink,” the platinum-haired man mumbled, setting down the empty wine glass. His hand was unsteady and the wine glass tipped over and would have shattered against the table if Bruno hadn’t reached out and caught it. He didn’t know if the ex-policeman actually believed it was rude or if he only wanted more alcohol.

Just how much pain must the man feel, that he needed to be so drunk just to stand being alive?

“Come on,” Bruno said, wrapping an arm around the taller man’s shoulders and helping him to his feet. Leone Abbachio’s shoulderblades were sharp against Bruno’s arm and his atrophied muscles trembled. He leaned against Bruno without trying to pull away and his expression was numb and empty. “You can sleep at my place tonight,” Bruno decided. It didn’t seem like a good idea to leave the ex-policeman alone in this state. “We can talk more about your job in the morning.”

“As long’s ya pay fer ‘ll my drinks,” the man slurred, staggering as he walked, such that Bruno was essentially holding him up.

Bruno hoped to eventually see him a strong and impassioned man, more like the one in the photo of Leone Abbachio right after he’d become a cop, when he’d clearly glowed with health and faith in the world. Though such a state would never be possible for the broken man again, Bruno was sure he could at least lead him to something closer to it.

 

It’s raining but there’s an alcohol bottle in your hand so you don’t care, though it’s only wine so it’s not really enough, not anymore, but it’s all that you have and it’s better than nothing but you’re almost done with it and you stumble to the door of the abandoned house you’ve been squatting in because you’re pretty sure it’s not that late and you might still be able to find a store open to buy another, and it’s raining and you don’t have an umbrella or a coat but if you get soaked you don’t CARE, you just need another bottle of alcohol because this one at your lips is almost empty and you don’t know what you’re going to do when it is—

You can’t function without it, the alcohol, not anymore—

You can’t deal with out it, can’t face life without it, can’t DO THIS SHIT WITHOUT IT, and you know it’s bad but you don’t care, you don’t care, you DON’T CARE, it’s the only thing that makes life tolerable, the only way you can get through, the only thing that relaxes you and makes you feel okay, the only thing, the ONLY THING, and you need it, you NEED IT—

When you don’t have alcohol it’s not okay, it’s not okay it’s not okay NOTHING IS OKAY and you can’t stop thinking about how much you NEED IT because you NEED the alcohol you NEED it—

You take another swig from the bottle in your hand, it’s a white wine but you can’t remember what kind anymore and can no longer taste the difference but it doesn’t matter, the alcohol content clearly isn’t high enough though, and you’re stumbling to the door wondering where can you get some alcohol NOW, god damn it, you NEED IT you can’t fucking DO THIS SHIT WITHOUT IT, you CAN’T—

All the damn memories in your head that won’t GO AWAY, all the things you see on the streets, all the things you can’t do shit about except to DRINK so it goes AWAY—

(Only when you finally get that alcohol are you okay, and then you’re okay, you’re fine, now you’re FINE, as long as there’s alcohol in your hand, stinging your mouth, flowing in your blood and numbing your body and your mind you’re FINE, you just need to keep drinking, you’re okay, nothing’s okay, absolutely NOTHING is okay, but as long as you have alcohol YOU’RE okay, you’re just FINE, you’re absolutely fucking DANDY, shit doesn’t hurt and you can FUNCTION without being crushed and suffocated by the PAIN—)

And if you drink so much that you can’t walk straight can’t think straight it doesn’t matter, you don’t CARE because at least you can FUNCTION when you’re drunk while you can’t when you’re sober, you just fucking CAN’T, and you know it’s probably bad but YOU DON’T CARE, why should you care?!

The world is shit and if you’re fucking yourself up, and if you’re fucked up, well, the world is fucked up, so whatever, how else can you deal with a fucked up world if you’re not completely fucked up yourself?

You’re fucking yourself up, just like you fuck EVERYTHING up, but you don’t CARE and you take another drink and you’re okay except that the bottle in your hand is almost empty and you need another and the world is shit and you’re shit and it’s FINE as long as you have alcohol you’re FINE, whatever comes at you you’re FINE because with the alcohol you can’t FEEL SHIT, it flows right over you without touching you and you don’t CARE, and if you get sick you don’t CARE—

You’re always sick, alcohol is the only thing that makes you feel okay, the world is shit but you’re fine and you DON’T CARE and you take another drink and the bottle is almost empty and that is not okay because soon it will be empty and you need another, you NEED it, it wasn’t enough, you’re stumbling slightly on your way to the door and it’s taking forever but you can still think and your every thought still hurts so it’s not ENOUGH—

(And you NEED that drink because things are absolutely INTOLERABLE and you just CAN’T, you fucking CAN’T, you NEED that drink and your heart-rate is raised and your stomach is churning and this is too much, this is TOO MUCH it’s always too much, and you just CAN’T—)

If you could just finally get that drink, then it will be okay, and you’ll be grinning and it’s the only time you grin and it’s sharp and you know it’s not good but it’s BETTER when you’re drunk, it’s BETTER and you’re—

(You’re so fucking tired, and so tired and sick of everything, so angry and depressed and you don’t CARE except that you still do and you can’t STOP so you take another drink and you don’t CARE and god you’re just so TIRED, and the bottle is almost empty and you need another, you NEED it—)

(As long as you keep drinking you’re fine, you feel fine, the world is softer, doesn’t hurt so much, it passes you by and nothing matters, nothing matters, nothing matters, it’s okay because nothing MATTERS—)

Your lips are numb but that’s the only time you can smile, when you can’t feel it, but you’re not smiling now because the bottle is almost EMPTY and that’s NOT OKAY, and earlier your eyes were wide open but now your eyelids are lowered, things are softer, you feel fine but only just barely and if you don’t have another drink then things WON’T be fine anymore, you just need to keep drinking and you’ll be fine and it doesn’t matter, nothing matters at all—

Standing is too tiring and you sit down, and then you lie down, and the floor is comfortable, the floor is fine, and you don’t remember falling asleep but you wake up lying on the hard floor and time has passed and and you’re not sure how much but it’s still raining and you need to take a piss, and it’s dark and there’s no electricity and you don’t remember the way to the bathroom so you just piss against the wall because it’s not like you can smell anything anyway, not like you feel anything and not like it matters, not like you CARE—

And there still seems to be alcohol in your system and if your piss stinks you don’t CARE, and you’re probably going to get a headache later but you don’t care, you don’t CARE, you think maybe you’ll go back to sleep and maybe this time you’ll make it to the bed but you’re not sure, you don’t remember where that room is, maybe you’ll brush your teeth because your mouth tastes foul but you’re not entirely sure about that, either, you don’t remember where the bathroom is but if you can find it it’s probably a good idea, not that you actually care, but the alcohol will taste better if your mouth doesn’t taste foul, and you close your eyes and they stay closed and they’re comfortable closed and pulling them open they’re so heavy and when they’re closed it’s so comfortable and dark and soft and you’re dizzy with the darkness swirling around your head and you could fall to the floor and fall asleep—

And you think maybe you did because you’re on the floor again but you’re not entirely sure, but things are starting to hurt again inside your head where you can’t do anything about it except drink, but your bottle is still almost empty and you’re stumbling to the door and it’s still raining and you’re draining the last of the bottle and knowing that you need ANOTHER, because this isn’t enough, it’s not ENOUGH and you don’t know what time it is or if it’s even the same day you thought it was you don’t remember the last time you checked a newspaper for the date or a clock for the time but you hope to god that some store is open because god damn it you NEED—

You make it to the door and you’re fine except the bottle is empty and there’s someone THERE under an umbrella with a white suit and black hair and why white, all the stains are gonna show, except there are no stains and the man tilts the umbrella back and says, Abbachio, wasn’t it? and you stand there with rain soaking you and stare at him and you’re so TIRED and you just want another drink and you don’t know what this man wants, if he wants to fight or what, and you think you could probably hold your own but if you die here it’s not like you actually CARE—

But the man says, I want you to join me, I’m building a team, and you just stare at him because nobody could possibly want a wreck like you, that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, he’s clearly either crazy or an idiot or trying to pull some kind of shit over you and you’re not going to deal with this bullshit, thinking hurt enough as it is and there’s not enough alcohol in your system to make consciousness tolerable and you tell him to fuck off and try to walk past him because you need more alcohol, the bottle in your hand is empty and it wasn’t enough because you can still FEEL—

But the man blocks your path, and he says, Hear me out, and you just stare at his face, dark hair and serious blue eyes, and you just stare at him because all you want is another drink and he’s in the way but you’re too tired to get him out of it, literally all you want is another drink so things don’t HURT so much, but the world is cruel and it hurts and the man’s not getting out of your way, the world is CRUEL and you HATE IT—

I’m part of the gang ‘Passione,’ the man says, and I want you to join me, and you just stare at him because he’s CLEARLY an idiot, and you say so and try to move past him but he blocks your way again and he says, I’ll buy you a drink, you’re out of money.

And when you pull out your wallet you find out that he’s right, and you wonder how the fuck he knew, but he’s just looking at you with those serious blue eyes and he says, Join me, and he holds out his hand from under the umbrella he brought like a sensible person in the rain and you’re soaked and all you want is another drink and so you say, You’re paying, and you follow him because you literally don’t care about anything anymore, you just need another drink, you NEED one because you can’t fucking STAND this, everything HURTS and you’re SHIT, you’re nothing but SHIT and if this man wants shit like you on his team then clearly he’s an idiot but if he’s paying for the alcohol you don’t CARE.

And so you follow him, and he pulls you underneath the umbrella next to him, saying, You’ll get sick if you get too wet, and you just grunt because you’re already soaked so what does it matter if you get more wet or not, and even if you get sick you don’t CARE—

But you don’t care enough to fight him, so when he pulls you close under the umbrella and holds onto your arm you let him, and he’s clearly an idiot but you don’t care, you don’t care about anything, and he takes you to a bar and now there’s a drink in front of you and you down it in seconds and you’re FINE, you’re FINE now, and the man says, My name is Bruno Bucciarati, which is a stupid name, what kind of parents named their children with alliteration, you don’t pick a first name that starts with the same letter as your last name, that’s just lame, at least your parents in naming you Leone Abbachio had had SENSE—

But the man is paying for your drinks so you don’t care, and he’d said you could order whatever you wanted so you’d ordered a shot of vodka because wine clearly wasn’t enough, and when you down the shot and order another the man still doesn’t say anything aside from, I want you to join me, will you? I can give you a purpose—

And you really don’t CARE but this man clearly has money, which you apparently don’t, and you have no reason to say No so you say, If you want me, I’ll join your gang, but it’s your loss, and the man just smiles at him and says, No, it’s my gain, and you just snort and down another shot of vodka because this man is clearly an idiot but he he’s an idiot with money who’s willing to buy you drinks so you don’t CARE.

And so you follow him, when he leaves and takes hold of your arm and tugs you along with him, and you’re stumbling but he lets you lean against him and you have no idea who the fuck he is but you don’t CARE because you don’t care what happens to you, even if he kills you you don’t CARE and if he tells you what to do as long as he pays for your drinks you’ll do it because everything hurts and you don’t care about anything and especially not what happens to you.

And he takes you back to an apartment over a restaurant, still holding the umbrella over you because it’s still raining and now you’re a little bit dry, and he tells you that you can take the bed, he’ll sleep on the floor, and you say, Your funeral, or possibly mine, and you collapse on the bed and you fall asleep not caring if he slits your throat and you don’t wake up in the morning.

But you do wake up, and the man whose stupid name is apparently Bruno Bucciarati has breakfast waiting, and he smiles at you, and you eat the croissant and drink the orange juice and cappuccino provided to you and ask him what the hell he wants from you.

And this Bucciarati with his dark hair and earnest blue eyes just smiles at you and says, I want you to follow me, and so you ask if you’ll be paid and he says Yes, so you say Fine.

You really don’t care anymore, whether you live or die—as long as, if you live, there’s enough alcohol that it doesn’t hurt (because everything HURTS, all the fucked-up shit in the world you can’t do shit about and all the thoughts and feelings in your head you can’t get away from).

It turns out that there’s a test you need to complete, but it’s ridiculously easy—all you have to do is keep a ridiculous lighter burning, and how the fuck was the guy Polpo supposed to know if you actually kept it burning or not, and so as soon as you leave you turn the damn thing off so you can hide it and then light it only before you come back—

And you think you’re going to die, when the arrow pierces you, but you don’t and you get a power that embodies everything you’d always wanted as a police officer but don’t think you could have any use for NOW—

But Buccuiarti assures you that it DOES have a use, and he gave you orders that fulfill the abilities of your ‘Stand’ to the utmost and you don’t have to think about any of it, and yet you feel like through Bucciarati’s orders you’re somehow making the right choices (for ONCE in your goddamned life)—

(Alone you always made the wrong ones, choices that cost people their lives, your comrades their lives, but Bucciarati always, ALWAYS knows what do to do and you realize that as long as you follow him you can never be in the wrong, because Bucciarati always, ALWAYS knows what’s right, he always does what’s RIGHT and he SUCCEEDS at it—)

Bucciarati, you realize later, has given you a purpose, just like he’d said he would. He gives you a reason to care, a place where it’s okay to care, a reason to be responsible, a reason to be better, a reason not to have to drown all your feelings in alcohol, a reason to want NOT to just be NUMB—

The world is such a fucked up place, and it HURTS, the blood on your hands because there was nothing, absolutely NOTHING you could do, and sometimes you think the pain could KILL you—

But Bucciarati makes things okay, always seems to know the right things to do and the right things to say, and you—

You admire this Bucciarati so much, and wish that you could be like him, untouchable by all this pain and fucked-up bullshit.

But you’re not, everything HURTS, and so you follow Bucciarati’s every order because—

(He’s so much better, so much stronger, so much more DETERMINED than you, and you—)

(You have no fucking clue and you just want someone to tell you what to do because everything you try to do yourself is always WRONG—)

Buccairti tells you exactly what you need to do, and you let him.

(And you think that sometimes you fall asleep against him, but you always wake up alone either on the couch or in the bed, and if you can’t remember how you got there, well, as long as this Bucciarati is paying for your alcohol it really doesn’t matter.)

The world is still shit, but you have alcohol and the money to pay for it so you’re fine, and somehow things seem to be better even if you don’t understand why.

(Bucciarati is partially an idiot—no one sane could possibly want you anywhere near them—but he’s also partially brilliant, and your life and the world are so dark and if he’s so determined to light a path for you, which he seems to be succeeding at, against all the odds, and you decide that you’ll let him be your guiding light, since he’s so determined to be, because you’re—)

(You’re too tired and sick to care, and he’s the one paying.)

The alcohol makes your lips numb and you think that sometimes you might be smiling, not that you can really feel it.

But sometimes this idiot Bucciarati looks at you and smiles, and it’s like sunlight breaking through the rain and you’re not always dripping wet and cold anymore, which admittedly you never actually cared about but it turns out that not being soaked to the bone is actually nice.

You think you might love him, Bucciarati, and with the taste of alcohol on your tongue and its numbness in your veins the thought doesn’t even alarm you.

You wake up in the bed more often than on the couch, and sometimes Bucciarati is next to you, and you don’t know what to do so you reach out and brush dark black hair behind the man’s ears and then get up and get breakfast for the two of you, a real breakfast like you never made for yourself, and you don’t really care about food—it all tastes like shit on your numbed tongue—but somehow when Bucciarati eats the meal and smiles at you and thanks you it’s worth it.

Eventually you find that you don’t need to drink as much because things don’t hurt so much anymore, not after this determined Bucciarati has taken the weight of the world from you like Atlas, taking it all onto his own shoulders, and all you can do is watch him carrying it without so much as stumbling and sip at your wine that he’s paid for and wonder how he does it and how someone so amazing could possibly have happened to shit like you.

But the world isn’t fair, and people don’t get what they truly deserve, and Bucciariti happened to you and you don’t deserve it but you follow his every order even so, and you’ll follow him until he kills you, because he’s brighter than the shitty North Star that’s so dim that even in a clear night sky you can never find it, and he’s and more responsive than God who never answered you and never did SHIT for you, while somehow when you’re with Bucciarati the world doesn’t HURT so much, and you feel almost okay, almost like your fine and everything’s fine, and sometimes you smile even without any alcohol numbing your lips and you can actually feel it.

You have a beautiful smile, Bucciarati tells you, You should smile more often, and you take another sip of your wine and say, Buy me wine as good as this again and I will, and Bucciarati kinda smirks and says Okay, as long as you don’t drink so much you pass out on the floor, because if you do I’ll leave you there, and you scoff and tell him that you’ve never woken up on the floor since you’ve met him, and Bucciarati kinda laughs and somehow you feel light.

You still drink, but not as much—not so much that you’re completely numb, because this Bucciarati, even though he makes you FEEL, it somehow doesn’t HURT, and who would’ve known that was even possible, to feel things other than the pain?

Bucciarati is too good for you, but because you’re a terrible person you let him light your way, because apparently he’s that damn determined to do so, and you’re far too tired to fight him.

There’s nothing for you in this world outside of Bucciarati and alcohol, and Bucciarati gives you both and so you resolve to follow him until it kills you, and you know that when it does, you won’t even care, you’ll be getting what you’ve always had coming to you.

But Bucciarati smiles at you and it makes you feel something that might actually be happiness, even though you don’t deserve to feel anything of the sort, and you just hope that the result is your funeral and not his.

You selfishly hope that he’ll bury you while fighting back the tears he’s too strong to let fall.

If you die before me, you tell Bucciarati one day, I’m going to use the rest of the money to drink myself to death, and Bucciarati laughs lightly and tells you, That will never happen, Abbachio, none of my money will get into your hands because I’m not writing you into my will, and you scoff and say, Don’t underestimate me, Bucciarati, I have my ways, and you take another sip of wine, but you’re not even drunk and you know you won’t drink that much, since now you don’t need to, and Bucciarati smiles at you and takes a sip of his own wine, a Cantina di Negrar that glows deep ruby when the afternoon sunlight floods through it, and you sip your own darker Cabernet Sauvignon and wonder why the fuck he wants you anywhere near him, much less on his team, because a man like him doesn’t deserve to deal with shit like you.

And yet he does, and he smiles as he does so, and you’re pretty sure that nothing would ever be able to break him, and certainly not someone as pathetic as you.

And so you keep following him. And if he told you die, you would, gladly—but he tells you to live, and so you do, even though it still hurts.

But you don’t feel the urge to drink yourself into oblivion anymore and you never wake up on the floor. Not anymore.

Bucciarati is really too good for you, and if it kills him, well, it’s his own fucking funeral and you’ll laugh at his ghost and drink away the rest of his money and probably die in some stupid way and you won’t even care, because Bucciarati is the only thing that makes you want to live, now, and without him you’d have nothing but alcohol again.

Bucciarati is unbelievably STRONG, and it’s breath-taking, really, the way he stares the world’s demons in the face without flinching away, the way he takes on burdens like he’s glad to and carries them without so much as a hitch in his step, the way he hardens himself against pain so he doesn’t bruise or bleed, turns any pain he DOES feel into anger and determination, and you know that when Bucciarati acts cold it’s because he’s STRONG, so strong the world can’t BREAK him—

(Not like it breaks you.)

And Bucciarati is STRONG and it’s somehow breath-taking, awing, the way that he doesn’t need anyone, the way he seems like he’ll never break, no matter what happens and no matter who dies.

So you brace yourself against him, and let him carry the burden of the world so it’s not so heavy, not so painful, and you take a drink but you don’t need to keep taking another, and another, and another, because the world isn’t crushing your anymore now that Bucciarati has taken it on his shoulders and is walking with it like it doesn’t even weigh hardly ANYTHING—

And Bucciarati is cold but he’s also warm, and he tells you what to do so you don’t have to think about it yourself, because you know that whatever it is Bucciarati asks of you, it’s the RIGHT thing, so you don’t have to worry anymore, don’t have to hurt when you always makes the wrong choice and do the wrong thing and fuck up, because Bucciarati does NOT fuck up, not EVER.

He asks you one day, Do you trust me, Abbachio?

And you do, far more than you trust yourself.

 

There were many different kinds of people in the world. In Bruno’s opinion Abbachio was one of the most pure and beautiful.

If the ex-policeman’s depression wasn’t proof enough of the sensitivity of his soul, his Stand Moody Blues certainly was. Unlike most Stands, Moody Blues was not made for combat. Instead it manifested Abbachio’s dedication to Justice and Truth. In fact, when Moody Blues was using its replay power, Abbachio himself was left essentially defenseless.

That replay power, though, was a truly incredible Stand ability. Especially in their line of work. Most criminals got away with their crimes because no one had seen them or knew their identity, but with Moody Blues’ replay the was not a single crime that would remain a mystery. The perpetrators would always be identified and caught and justice would always be carried out.

It was an ability that Bruno felt Abbachio should have been proud of, but he wasn’t. If anything he seemed to regard it as useless more often than not, simply because it wasn’t enough, and catching a few criminals here and there would never keep more crimes from happening.

Leone Abbachio was too pure for the world they lived in. It tainted and eroded him like a virulent acid, made him feel helpless and hopeless to the point of giving up and turning to alcohol to numb the pain.

And yet despite everything, even if he didn’t realize it, he still retained his moral compass and determination to do good. He just needed someone to guide him and tell him what to do so he could fulfill his purpose without having to make the big decisions himself, too broken from his past failures to have the strength to shoulder the responsibility of the consequences.

So Bruno resolved to be that leader to Abbachio, to make the decisions for him and shoulder the consequences, because he believed that, when guided, the ex-policeman would give it his all and that there would be nothing that could stop a man who cared as much as he did.

 

I want to help you, Bucciarti had said. When you feel like getting drunk, tell me.

And you had scoffed, had thought, Like I’d ever go to you for help, but Bucciarti is—so much more than you would have bargained for.

And you were already tipsy when you went and knocked on Bucciarsti’s door, and you wanted nothing more but to become so drunk you couldn’t THINK, couldn’t FEEL anymore, but Bucciarati is—

You thought you’d give Bucciarati a chance. To either prove you right or prove you wrong, or to prove that—

He really shouldn’t have taken you in, really shouldn’t want you on his team, how much of an idiot can he be—you can’t be helped.

I have the irresistible urge to get drunk, you say, when Bucciarati lets you in and looks at you with those blue eyes that are far too open, far too honest, far too caring. Fuck him. You ask challengingly: What am I supposed to do? You said to come to you and you’d help me.

And Bucciarati smiles at you—the bastard fucking SMILES—and says, Thank you for coming to me, Abbachio. I’m glad that you trust me enough to confide in me and come to me for help, and you just SCOFF, because you were only here to prove that Bucciarati can’t do anything for someone as fucked up as you.

But Bucciarati says, Here, and hands you a set of headphones and an MP3 Player, says, This is music by the composer Antonio Vivaldi. Try lying down and listening to it, concentrating on it and trying to hear everything in it.

And you had scoff, say, You really think that will help? and Bucciarati looks at you with those earnest blue eyes and says Yes, and you scoff again, but you take the headphones and MP3 player and leave, say, I don’t think it will work, but I’ll try it, if that’s all the help you have to offer.

And you hear Bucciarati’s voice behind you say something like, Thank you for coming to me, Abbachio, or something ridiculous like that, and you don’t reply, just leave with the headphones and MP3 player, because fuck Bucciarati and his too-earnest blue eyes.

Back in your room, you put on the headphones, press Play on the MP3 player and listen closely—or at least, you try to.

The songs are titled “La Stravaganza” and “Nullo in Mundo Pax Sincera” and shit like that, and you listen and you think you can identify violins, and you aren’t sure what else, you’ve never been a musician, all this instrumentation shit you don’t really understand, can’t really appreciate—

But Bucciarati recommended this classical music to you, and it makes you wonder what Bucciarati hears, when he listens to this music. Can he identify all the instruments? Does he know how to play an instrument? Piano? Violin? You realize you don’t really know anything about him. What does he feel when he listens to this music? He must feel SOMETHING when he listens to it, or surely he wouldn’t have recommended it to you—but you listen, and you have no idea what’s going on with the instrumentation or whatever, you feel NOTHING—

But you TRY, and that’s something of a novelty in itself, because you would never listen to classical music otherwise, would never be—but it was BUCCIARATI who had recommended this music to you, and if someone as incredible as Bucciarti listens to this music then there must be SOMETHING in it —

And you TRY to concentrate on the music and listen to everything in it, but you CAN’T, your thoughts are—

TOO MUCH, and everything HURTS, and you have a wine glass you keep refilling, and—

you wonder desperately what Bucciarati feels when he listens to this music, because you listen and listen and feel NOTHING—

God, but you TRY.

And maybe it’s still better than it would have been otherwise—maybe you still drank less than you would have otherwise—honestly, you don’t really know.

But this TRYING in itself is something new—this desire to be even a little bit better, this state of having someone who you want to be better for, this small bit of hope that maybe there’s something in this world that isn’t completely fucked and might actually be worth living for—

It makes you wonder, and keep listening to the songs on the MP3 player, even though you don’t understand why—don’t understand why you’re listening to this music you can’t really appreciate, don’t understand why you trust Bucciarati, don’t understand why Bucciarati wants you on his team.

You don’t understand anything, and you’ve drunk enough to be maybe slightly drunk, but not very—it takes so much alcohol to get DRUNK, now, it takes so much, it’s so HARD, why is it so HARD—and you keep listening to this music and TRYING to concentrate on it.

It doesn’t really work, but it’s new enough just to CARE.

And you listen and feel nothing and wonder desperately what Bucciarati hears.

Eventually you fall asleep, but you don’t realize it until afterwards when you wake up sitting on the floor leaning back against the wall and wondering what happened. Usually you can’t fall asleep that easily.

The music is stopped and you press Replay and try to listen.

You don’t know what else to do with yourself.

You think maybe you’ll just do whatever Bucciarati says.

(Life, you think, will be easier and less painful this way.)

 

Abbachio had a drinking problem. Bruno wanted to help him, but he didn’t know how.

“Tell me when you feel like getting drunk. I’ll help you,” Bruno had promised. It was one of the most challenging things he had ever promised to do.

Abbachio knocked on Bruno’s door one evening. It wasn’t yet quite dark, but it was getting there. At the knocking Bruno got up from his desk where he’d been working and opened the door to find Abbachio standing there in the dark with a startlingly blank expression.

“I have the irresistible urge to get drunk,” the platinum-haired stated matter-of-factly. “What am I supposed to do? You said to come to you and you’d help me.” His voice was challenging but his eyes were lost.

Bruno felt happy that Abbachio had grown to trust him enough to come to him at times like this. “Thank you for coming to me, Abbachio,” he said genuinely. “I’m glad that you trust me enough to confide in me and come to me for help.” He wanted Abbachio to know that he wasn’t bothering him and that he was truly happy to help.

Abbachio only scoffed, like he didn’t believe him. But he was still standing there.

Bruno regarded him. It was hard to give Abbachio advice because they were so different. The only advice he could give was what worked for him, and he couldn’t be sure that what worked for him would also work for Abbachio. He was at a loss, this time and other times.

When Bruno himself felt overwhelmed by the world to the point that it was an unusually tempting idea to use alcohol to try to forget it, he would instead listen to his classical Italian music, because it made him stop thinking and relax and filled him with determination and confidence. He couldn’t be sure that it would work for Abbachio, but it was all he could suggest.

So he beckoned Abbachio into his room, went over to his bedside table and produced his headphones and MP3 Player, which was set on an album of Antonio Vivaldi’s music he’d been listening to earlier. “Here,” he said as he handed them over to Abbachio. “Try listening to this music by the composer Antonio Vivaldi. Lie down and close your eyes as you listen to it, concentrating on it and trying to hear everything in it.”

Antonio Vivaldi’s music felt vast and grand, especially the fast songs. There was a huge amount of musical interaction in the instrumentation that made him think about how much effort it must have taken to arrange all those instruments in the songs, which made the music feel like an incredible achievement and also made it feel so large and complicated it could swallow him whole. The emotion changed throughout, triumphant, then challenging like a fight, then celebratory, then thoughtful. One of of Vivald’s songs, ‘Nullo in Mundo Pax Sincera’ felt gentle and hopeful, like a lullaby, and it made the back of his throat feel tight. He hoped the music would help Abbachio get over his urge to drink until he couldn’t think.

Abbachio didn’t seem too hopeful, scoffing. “You really think that will help?”

“Yes,” Bruno said with all the confidence he didn’t feel. But part of being a capable leader was affecting an air of confidence even in the most trying situations, because confidence was transmissible, just as doubt was.

It had been easy to manipulate Abbachio onto his team, but helping him recover from his alcoholic tendencies was turning out to be a much harder task than Bruno hard reckoned for. He’d been overconfident, thinking that it would easy to manipulate Abbachio out of his alcoholism—as easy as it had been to manipulate him into the Passione—but alcohol addiction was a problem he’d never experienced himself and couldn’t understand. He’d been ignorant in thinking that he could sweep in and fix a problem the causes of which he couldn’t relate to.

But despite his uncertainty Bruno held Abbachio’s gaze without balking, and finally Abbachio turned away. “Fine. I don’t think it will work, but I’ll try it, if that’s all the help you have to offer.”

Abbachio’s doubt hurt more than Bruno would have thought, and as the taller man left with the headphones and MP3 Player Bruno could only hope that it helped.

It was certainly progress, though, that Abbachio had even come to him in the first place. Bruno let himself smile and feel hopeful.

 

It’s better during the day. You can control yourself, mostly.

Somehow it’s always the worst at night. It’s dark, and you can’t sleep, and you drink, and you feel nothing, and it’s still too much, it’s all too much, and you drink more, drink until you feel NOTHING and yet it STILL HURTS.

God, everything hurts. And it’s dark and you can’t sleep and there’s nothing to do but DRINK. And maybe if you drink enough you’ll black out, and that’s almost like sleeping, you think. Close enough. As close as you can get.

There’s never enough wine to dull the pain, it feels like. And sometimes in the sunlight it’s okay—sometimes when the sky is blue like Bucciarati’s eyes and the sunlight is warm and bright like his smile and his tone and his mind.

But then in the darkness there’s nothing—nothing but everything in the world that you hate, crime and all things unfair and all things not right and all things you can’t do anything about, for example—

you can’t sleep. It’s night, and other people are sleeping, but you can’t, because—

God, everything hurts. And you can’t do anything. Not about anything. Not a damn lick of good.

And so you drink, because there’s nothing else to do with yourself, and no other way to—

no other way to stand the darkness and the hate, no other way to—

no other way to SURVIVE and no other way to SLEEP—

if blacking out counts as sleep. Which it does, in your opinion, because there’s nothing ELSE, it never works otherwise, sleep is supposed to be natural but it doesn’t WORK like that, not for you, not anymore.

God, it’s dark and you can’t sleep because everything HURTS.

“Pray to God” is what you learned, what they taught you in school, but God has never done anything for you. And if God created a world as awful as this—as unfair, as irredeemable—then you hate Him, too, for doing this to everyone and to you.

No one who created a world as fucked up as this that can’t be improved means anything but curses to you.

So you go to Bucciarati instead, because unlike God he’s actually THERE, and unlike God he actually CARES.

And when you knock on his door in the middle of the night he answers, even though it was clear that he’d been sleeping, clear from the bags under his eyes that he’s exhausted, and you maybe feel guilty but it’s HIS fault for asking you to be on his team and HIS fault for caring and HIS fault for—

making you feel HOPE, of all things, and asking you to come to him, when you need help, which you do, which you ALWAYS do and which you ALWAYS will because FUCK.

Everything in this world—except for Bucciarati, it seems—is absolutely FUCKED.

And so you knock on his door, even though it’s the middle of the night, and if he’s upset to be woken up it’s his own damn fault—

but he’s not, he blinks blearily at you but smiles, asks, What is it? and you suddenly feel stupid and ridiculous and absolutely worthless.

I can’t sleep, you say, and you said to come to you, so. Give me something to do.

And he turns, crosses the room to his bed, sits down on the edge and pats the spot next to him, says, Talk to me, and you feel like either scoffing or laughing you’re not sure and you don’t know what to make of this man so simply turn and leave.

To his credit he doesn’t try to stop you.

And you drink until you can’t think and you wake up without remembering blacking out and you brush your teeth and you head down to the restaurant and Bucciarati is already there and he looks at you with those blue eyes and he looks so at a loss and you’re not sure whether to feel satisfied because you KNEW it, you KNEW you couldn’t be helped—or to feel guilty because he tried to help you and you REFUSED.

But you drank too much, and you have a headache and you feel sick, sick in your stomach and sick in your mind, sick in the world and you don’t know what to do so you just sit down at the same table as Bucciarati and order breakfast of a cappuccino and a croissant and a glass of orange juice and afterwards you knock back a couple painkillers you remember that you have in your pocket, and when Bucciarati looks at you you meet his gaze without flinching and just stare back at him wondering what the fuck he even sees when he looks at you, you must look like the worthless piece of shit that you are, and how is it that Bucciarati can walk through this fucked up world and be so STRONG because all you do is BREAK.

You have a hangover and the fastest way to get rid of it will be to drink. More alcohol, because that’s all—

But Bucciarati is looking at you like he’s trying to figure you out and you remember knocking on his door last night and waking him up and then simply leaving—why did you go to him for help and then refuse it when he offered it?

You don’t know, you don’t understand, you don’t know what to do, and you meet Bucciarati’s gaze and feel as tired as the sky is wide and say, Tell me what to do.

God but Bucciarati’s eyes are such a strong shade of blue.

You feel so tired.

And Bucciarati looks at you and says, Do you still have the MP3 Player and headphones I gave you? and you blink at him because, what? Yes, you say, and Bucciarati looks at you and says, Either use them next time, or give them back, and you kind of maybe almost want to laugh. How is this man even real. There’s nothing about him that’s breakable.

And you say, That’s fair, which you realize then is an odd thought to have because NOTHING in the world is fair, which is exactly why you hate it, but somehow with Bucciarati it’s—

Ha, Justice is so much more alive in this criminal organization than in the police force, who are supposed to protect people, the world is completely fucked-up.

How is Bucciarati so strong?

He looks at you and says, I hope you’re not too hungover, because I have a job for you today, and you think you love him, this man like a God that’s actually just and fair, and you finish your cappuccino and then glass of orange juice and set the cups down on the table and say, I can handle it.

Because you can’t seem to handle anything in this world on your own, but if it’s an order coming from Bucciarati, somehow—

Somehow you can, and feel like you could handle anything, even though you’re tired and sick and miserable, but Bucciarati has a job for you so somehow you’re not feeling so miserable anymore and you’re just noticing that the sunlight slanting in through the windows is bright on Bucciarati’s black hair and gold hair-clips and the side of his face and the white and gold of his suit, it’s all so illuminated.

 

Bruno knew that it was Abbachio’s perceived helplessness to change the world that caused him the most pain, so he did all he could to distract Abbachio with jobs and tasks to make him feel useful and like he was accomplishing something good.

Sometimes, though, it still wasn’t enough. Abbachio was so sensitive. He felt so much pain. Unlike Bruno, who focused on what he could change, Abbachio seemed to focus on everything he couldn’t and be tortured by it.

Abbachio knocked on his door one night. “I can’t sleep,” the platinum-haired man said, when Bruno, aroused from slumber by the noise (he was a light sleeper), had slipped out of his bed and padded across the room to open the door and find the taller man hovering there like an apparition in the dark. “You said to come to you, so.” The ex-policeman cocked his head to the side, looking down at him. “Give me something to do.”

Bruno looked at him and tried to shake off the cobwebs of sleep to think clearly and quickly on his feet. Obviously he didn’t have any missions ready on hand for the man in the middle of the night, but if Abbachio had come to him yet again, and especially in the middle of the night when he must have known Bruno was likely asleep, it must have meant that he trusted Bruno enough to open up to him. Maybe he was ready to talk to him and get his worries off his chest.

Under this assumption, Bruno turned and sat down on the edge of his bed, patting the spot next to him as an invitation. “Talk to me. Tell me what’s bothering you.”

Abbachio just stared at him blankly. There was something almost like disappointment in his gaze. Then he turned on his heal and left.

Bruno felt a sinking feeling, knowing that he’d just messed up and the alcoholic was no doubt going to be spending most of the rest of the night drinking. But what else could Bruno have offered? What else could he have said? What else could he have done? What had Abbachio been expecting of him, if he hadn’t wanted to talk?

He felt a little… not quite disappointed, but almost. Because he’d thought that Abbachio was getting better and growing to trust him. He’d also thought the the man’s alcoholism wouldn’t have been so much of a problem at this point. He wasn’t sure who was more to blame for that: him or Abbachio.

He felt resigned because he knew that the other man was going to be hungover in the morning and he couldn’t do anything. He would have liked to have been able to distract Abbachio from his pain, but he’d already given him his headphones and MP3 Player, which had been his only idea. Had the music not worked? And if that were the case, why hadn’t Abbachio given them back with a biting comment about their failure? He could have sworn that, the day after he’d given them to him, Abbachio had seemed slightly better.

Since there was nothing he could do at the moment Bruno resolved to go back to sleep and deal with the other man in the morning.

Abbachio was clearly hungover when he came down for breakfast. There were dark bags under his eyes, his movements were tired and slightly uncoordinated, and he kept rubbing his forehead where a headache was no doubt pounding. He didn’t try to avoid Bruno, rather he sat down at the same table as him and even ordered himself breakfast, which he consumed slowly as if he felt sick. Then he took a couple painkillers out of his pocket and knocked them back with a swig of orange juice.

Bruno watched him, thinking of what he should do. How he could possibly help this man who refused the help he offered. Ultimately, though, if Abbachio refused to be helped, Bruno couldn’t help him by force. He felt at once the power of his influence on the other man but realized also that it wasn’t enough and that the ex-policeman would have to fight some battles himself.

Expression dull and exhausted, Abbachio met his gaze. “Tell me what to do.”

The man was an adult. If he wanted to get better, he’d have to make the decision for himself. That wasn’t a decision that Bruno could make for him. Bruno had already tried to help him—and he’d refused. If he wanted to actually get better, he’d have to actually agree to try and go through with it.

“Do you still have the MP3 Player and headphones I gave you?”

Abbachio blinked, as if he was reminded of something he’d forgotten. “Yes.”

“Either use them next time, or give them back,” Bruno stated firmly. The ex-policeman needed to make the decision if he wanted to be helped.

Abbachio grinned slightly, wryly. “That’s fair.”

“I hope you’re not too hungover,” Bruno kept his voice cool, “because I have a job for you today.” Perhaps he was more disappointed in Abbachio than he’d realized. He’d been truly hoping that the platinum-haired man would have improved more by now.

Seemingly unaware of his disappointment, the other man stared steadily back at him. He finished first his cappuccino and then his orange-juice, setting the empty cups next to his plate that was flecked with croissant crumbs. “I can handle it.” The statement was uttered with a surprising amount of confidence and certainty, and Bruno evaluated the man in front of him.

“Tell me what to do,” the ex-policeman had almost pleaded. And the way he looked most at peace whenever Bruno gave him orders. It seemed, therefore, that he truly couldn’t handle acting on his own anymore (whenever he did he just ended up getting drunk) and wanted nothing more than to be used by Bruno.

Well, Bruno was the man’s squad leader. He was slightly disappointed, for reasons that he couldn’t explain to himself, but he could accept this. “Good,” he decided.

If what Abbachio wanted was just to be used, then he’d be sure to use him. He would not let Abbachio’s passion for justice or deductive talents go to waste.

 

You don’t have enough alcohol. It takes almost an entire bottle of wine now before you even begin to feel ANYTHING, and you DON’T HAVE ENOUGH—

You have the money for more, that’s not the problem, but it shames you, now, to buy too much, when you know that Bucciarati knows and that he’s disappointed, and so you’re TRYING—

The MP3 Player and headphones are there on the bedside table and you put the headphones on and click on the Antonio Vivaldi playlist and press Play, and you sit on the bed and lean back against the headboard and try to LISTEN.

And you—you don’t know what you feel, but somehow the music feels emotional and yet unbreakable like Bucciarati, like a state of being far beyond your reach, and you listen and it hurts, but not in the way that you’re used to. This hurting is something like hopeless awe. Awe of this music you don’t understand and this man you can never be, and it hurts that he seems to see something in you when for you there’s just NOTHING.

God, you really don’t have enough alcohol. Everything hurts. You could cry, except that you never actually do, because that’s yet another thing that you’re incapable of. All you do is break and hurt and use your Moody Blues to solve the crime mysteries that Bucciarati assigns to you. At least from Passione these other criminals actually receive the retribution they deserve, unlike from the police, where they all just buy their way out of prison. There’s something to having money, you think, even if it’s from illegal means. There is no Good in this world—there’s only Bad and Worse—except maybe for Bucciarati.

And this music makes you think of him, even if you can’t understand it, and you spin the wine glass between your fingers and you want nothing more but to pour yourself another but you only have a third of a bottle left and that’s IT, there’s no more after that, not in your room, and so you spin the empty wine glass between your fingers and listen to these songs by Antonio Vivaldi and want another glass of wine and try desperately not to pour yourself one.

God, but it’s so fucking HARD.

And you could almost laugh at yourself for this TRYING, because you—

Fuck, there’s no help to be had, not even when you’re drunk, even when you can’t FEEL anymore because it STILL HURTS—

And you listen to this music and try to feel and try to be okay with that and it’s HARD.

God, you’re TRYING, but you’re so—

damn—

WEAK.

And Bucciarati is so strong and sees something in you and you want to somehow prove him right about you and prove yourself wrong but you—

FUCK. You don’t know if you can.

All you want is another glass of wine, and then another, and another…

All you want is Bucciarati not to look at you like for once he doesn’t know what to DO, all because you’re—

God, you want another glass of wine. It’s all you can think about, it’s literally ALL—

Vivaldi’s music is playing and you close your eyes and try to LISTEN and you could cry but you CAN’T and GOD all you want is another glass of wine and you’re trying not to but it’s so damn HARD—

Fuck the world, but Bucciarati for some reasons sees something in you, and you—

wonder what the FUCK that is.

Trying not to pour yourself another glass of wine is Purgatory, is Hell itself, everything HURTS and you CAN’T STAND IT and you’re trying to focus on this music but you CAN’T and you’re—

if you pour yourself another glass of wine, you’ll be so disappointed in yourself, angry at yourself, for having disappointed Bucciarati, for—

FUCK, you’re TRYING, but it’s so goddamn HARD, and in the dark you pull your legs to your chest and hug your arms around them and press your brow against your knees and you TRY—

God but you can’t STAND this.

You give up and pour yourself another glass of wine and drink it within the span of a couple minutes and laugh darkly at yourself because you’re maybe just FINALLY starting to feel SOMETHING from the alcohol, this lightening and blurring that you can’t seem to survive without, and you’re so—

damn—

weak, and Bucciarati is STRONG but you know he’s not PERFECT, because he actually fucking believes he sees something in you.

But in you there’s nothing except for PAIN and the irresistible need for another glass of wine.

 

Things got better after they started sleeping in the same room due to the additions of Fugo, Narancia and Mista and the subsequent need to make space.

Given that Fugo, due to the uncontrollable lethality his Stand’s power, required a room to himself, and the idea of Narancia and Mista sharing a room was nightmare-material for everybody (nobody would get any sleep), as well as the fact that Bruno wouldn’t have been able to get any work done if he shared a room with either of them and he didn’t trust either of them to be able to deal with Abbachio’s self-debilitating alcoholism habits, it only made sense that the ones to have to share a room would be himself and Abbachio. The arrangement had the added perk of allowing him to keep a more careful eye on the platinum-haired man.

It meant that Abbachio couldn’t drink as much, too ashamed to keep alcohol bottles in a shared room and no longer able to feel so lost and alone at night with Bruno sleeping there next to him.

Instead of drinking so much the ex-policeman took to ritual tasks: showering and then very carefully towel-drying and brushing his long hair, putting on dark lipstick and darkening his light eyebrows with eyeliner and mascara, slowly and carefully like a kind of meditation, as if he were trying to keep himself present in his body instead of in his mind where everything always seemed to be hurting. It seemed to be relaxing for Abbachio, and Bruno also found it relaxing to watch, and often he joined Abbachio at the bathroom sink in front of the mirror to do his own hair as the other man was doing his make-up.

They ended up sharing the bed, but not in an intimate way. It was simply a matter of convenience and a lack of caring on both their parts. There had only been one bed in the room, and when Bruno had offered to sleep on the floor until they were able to get another Abbachio had just scoffed at him.

“What are you, a homophobe? A fucking virgin afraid of being deflowered? You should know that only drunkards fall asleep on the floor.” And then the taller man had promptly laid down on the bed on his side so his back was facing Bruno. “Your choice.”

So Bruno had chuckled softly and laid down next to him. He always fell asleep on his back; Abbachio always fell asleep on his side. Sometimes during the night the ex-policeman would roll over so that he was facing Bruno instead of having his back towards him.

“You two are sharing a bed?!” Mista had exclaimed when he’d realized, with the scandalized expression of someone immediately jumping to the conclusion that that meant they were having sex.

Utterly naive to no doubt even the very idea of such a conclusion, Narancia exclaimed excitedly, “Really?! Bucciarati, can I share a bed with you, too?”

“It’s not that strange for two people of the same gender to platonically share a bed,” Fugo informed the still-gaping gunslinger. “Siblings share beds all the time. Sometimes it’s simply the most practical that way.”

“ ‘Platon’?” Narancia asked with a furrowed brow. “Isn’t that a planet?”

Fugo had hit the older boy (for all that Narancia seemed younger than him) upside the head. “You’re thinking of Pluto, idiot! ‘Platonic’ refers to the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. He was the founder of the Platonist school of thought, which was the first institution of higher learning in the Western world.”

Narancia looked around the room curiously. “Which direction’s ‘west’ again?”

While Fugo was hitting the dark-haired boy upside the head again and Narancia was yelping, “Hey, what was that for?!” and proceeding to whip out a knife on him, Mista was still staring at Bruno and Abbachio.

“You guys are seriously sharing a bed?!”

“Bucciarati doesn’t kick or steal the covers,” Abbachio shrugged even as he moved to physically separate Fugo and Narancia before they knocked over the table and broke all the dishes in their scuffle. Being by far the physically strongest out of all of them (he’d gained back muscle mass since joining Bruno’s team, muscular shoulders and chest now filling out his dark overcoat, bell-bottomed pants taught around his muscled thighs), the platinum-haired man was easily able to pull the two quarreling youths away from each other and hold them apart even as they struggled. “And I’m not lugging a second bed in there.”

Mista’s mouth worked but no sound came out. “You guys aren’t…? You aren’t…?”

“Aren’t what?” Bruno asked with amusement, wondering if he could get the teen to actually say it.

“Only in your horny teenage mind,” Abbachio dismissed, making the dark-eyed boy splutter. “Here.” He held out his arm, which Narancia was clinging to, feet above the floor. “Help me out and remove the barnacle.”

“Fugo hit me and Abbachio won’t let me hit him back!” Narancia whined as the older teen pried him off Abbachio’s arm.

“Oi oi,” Mista said, easily distracted, “he just hit you with a hand! You were trying to retaliate by hitting him with a knife! Which is technically stabbing! Don’t you think that’s a bit too much of an escalation?!”

“But when people hit you you hit them back with bullets!” Narancia pointed out, and the gunslinger opened his mouth, but nothing came out, and he closed it.

Abbachio chuckled slightly, wryly. “He’s got you there, Mista.”

Fugo rolled his eyes. He’d calmed down from his previous anger at the older boy’s ignorance. “Trumped by the reasoning of an idiot,” he drawled sarcastically. “Color me impressed. Or rather, make that ‘astonished’.”

Mista whirled. “What are you insinuating?!”

“That you’re also on idiot,” Abbachio dryly spelled it out for him, making the hat-wearing teen given an indignant, “Hey!”

Bruno smiled as he watched them, sipping at his coffee. They really were all good for each other, Abbachio included.

It was true, though, that there was absolutely nothing sexual or even remotely romantic between them, even though he knew that Abbachio loved him and sometimes felt that he loved the platinum-haired man in return. But such a relationship wouldn’t be good for either of them. Neither of them needed a lover—it would have torn Abbachio apart emotionally and for Bruno it would only have gotten in the way of his job.

What Abbachio needed from Bruno was for Bruno to be his strength and purpose: to make his decisions for him and to carry the burden of the consequences. What Bruno needed from Abbachio was a follower he could rely on and trust to carry out his orders and assist him in achieving his goals.

And that was exactly what they now had in each other. With that Bruno was content. (And as Abbachio’s alcoholic tendencies continued to diminish, Bruno became increasingly convinced that the ex-policeman was content now, too.)

(Or at least, as content as it was possible for such a broken man to be.)

 

It’s hardly surprising that Bucciarati keeps picking up fucked-up strays like you—Fugo, Narancia and Mista have been fucked over by the world, but they’re good kids, who (like you) really just want a place to belong.

(And you all find that place with Bucciarati, who gladly makes himself into your home, knowing you could all die under his leadership but accepting that responsibility, and there’s an understanding between the four of you—you and Fugo and Narancia and Mista—that if any of you died it would hurt Bucciarati but would never hinder him.)

You like them, even though Fugo is a kid who’s clearly grown up too fast and Narancia’s a kid who hasn’t seemed to have grown up at all and Mista is either the most observant out of all of you or the most hopelessly oblivious, and you feel yourself even a bit responsible for them, sometimes, almost like a parent, or perhaps an exasperated uncle (they really are ridiculous, and if sometimes it makes you almost smile, well, they’re the only ones who see it, and that’s somehow okay).

You’re content, somehow, even though being a member of a gang is the exact opposition to everything you’d ever wanted (you’d always dreamed of being a cop, of exacting justice and helping people—and yet somehow you feel so much more useful now that you’re part of a gang, working against the law, what you’re doing now is somehow so much more RIGHT, so much more REAL and for the first time you feel like you’re actually HELPING PEOPLE, even though this gang shit is still corrupt and fucked-up, and you know it’s not Passione that’s right, it’s BUCCIARATI).

You still drink, probably still too much, but it’s undeniably better than it was so you count it as a win (and you’re pretty sure Bucciarati does, too, who has always disapproved of your drinking compulsion but has never tried to stop you, who has always simply told you that, as long as you can complete your missions without any problems, it doesn’t matter how much you drink, and you respect him for that, god, you RESPECT him, more than you respect or have ever respected anyone, not even God—)

(You still go to church, sometimes, on holidays or when the mood just happens to strike you, and you still cross yourself and bow to Jesus’ figure on the cross, but when you do you’re always thinking of Bucciarati, because he’s been THERE more than Jesus ever has.)

And you’re content, as a follower of Bucciarati in the gang of Passione, more content than you’ve ever been in your life, and now, even though you could drink more, you abstain from doing so, because you no longer feel the desperate NEED that once gripped you.

(Alcohol tastes better now, somehow, and for the most part you’ve given up spirits and only drink wine, and no more than two glasses per day, which is almost unbelievable when you think back to how much you used to have to drink just to FUNCTION and feel OKAY—)

(You try not to think too hard about any of that, anymore.)

You’ve always liked Fugo and Narancia and Mista, fucked up little shits that they are (just like you), but this Giorno rubs you the wrong way and sends all the alarm bells in your head ringing, loud and deafening like police sirens.

This Giorno is too PERFECT—this gang life didn’t HAPPEN to him like it happened to the rest of them, he wasn’t fucked over by life with no other options, in Passione he wasn’t looking for comfort or safety, no, he actually CHOSE this life, and it irks you because who the fuck CHOOSES to take shit from life?

Giorno, unlike Fugo and Narancia and Mista, isn’t there looking for a family or a place to belong, isn’t there because he’s hurting and clueless and Bucciarati is offering to be his guiding light—he’s there because had had a GOAL, a higher AMBITION, and he’s so distanced from the rest of them, he could never understand what their team is to them, can never and will never be one of them.

And he’ so eager to prove himself, this Giorno, seems practically DESPERATE to do so, ready to do whatever it takes to earn their trust, so eager he even purposefully let himself get attacked because he believed that your Stand, Moody Blues, cold solve the mystery of the Stand attacking all of you, and if the kid turned out to be RIGHT, well—

He isn’t one of them, but Bucciarati clearly trusts him—of course he does, when the goals of this Giorno appealed so greatly to Bucciarati’s heroic side, to all of Bucciarati’s ambitious dreams about reforming the gang into a force of nothing but GOOD (and yet you’re all already doing so much more good for people than you ever did as a cop) and so you follow him, because if Bucciarati is following him then you don’t really have any choice, now do you?

(Bucciarati is the only truly good thing that has ever happened to you.)

You can’t shake the feeling that this Giorno is going to ruin everything.

(But you can’t say anything, because Bucciarati seems so eager to follow this Giorno’s lead and change Passione for good.)

(Bucciarati never had to pay off a criminal that he knew he could never convict, has never had to watch a criminal he worked so hard to catch escape from prison scot-free and then be insulted and blamed by civilians for the work of the jury and judge, even though you had been the one to RISK YOUR LIFE to try to protect them.)

(You used to love people and want to protect them, but now you hated them, and they could all die and go to hell for all you care.)

This Giorno isn’t like the rest of you, and you’re sure that he’s going to fuck everything up, but Bucciarati’s going along with him, and even if you’re sure that it’s only because this Giornro appeals to all Bucciarati’s ambitious dreams, you will follow, because Bucciarati is your everything, the only reason you care about anything and the only way you can deal with the world without drinking so much you can’t feel it.

You almost reach for another full bottle, but Bucciarati is there, looking at you with those deep, too-knowing blue eyes, and you turn away and don’t say anything.

Trish turns out to be okay, she’s been fucked up by the world, too, just like the rest of you—she didn’t have a choice in any of this, and you feel for her.

She—unlike this Giorno—didn’t ask for any of this.

But this Giorno ASKED for this shit, and if he gets what’s coming to him—namely, DEATH—you’ll be all to happy to celebrate his funeral (it’ll be all his fucking fault, the crazy bastard).

You’re drinking more than usual, now—as in, you’re drinking more than you have in a while, and reach for one too many drinks, or maybe a few too many, and you’re probably going to wake up tomorrow morning in your clothes with a headache and feeling sick—but Bucciarati meets your gaze and kind of smiles apologetically, in a way that says, I know you hate this, but this is really important to me and I believe in this, thank you for following me, and so you don’t say anything against him, because his trust in you matters more to you than any morals in the world.

(Do you trust me, Bucciarati? you’d asked him one day, and he’d looked at you with those serious blue eyes and said, I do.)

(And for whatever ineffable reason, you believe him.)

You wake up in your clothes the next morning, but you’re on the bed, not on the floor, and Bucciarati is next to you, and you roll onto your side to look at him and the world is kind of spinning around you but Bucciarati’s face is so clear, so untroubled in his sleep and you just kind of stare at him and you want to reach out your hand to brush the dark hair out of his face but you don’t trust your coordination and you don’t want to accidentally hit him and wake him so you just stare and your mouth tastes foul and you should probably brush your teeth but you don’t really care, and you wonder when the fuck he started sleeping next to you but you don’t remember but it was probably after the two kids and then Mista moved in and there were no longer enough rooms for everyone to have one to themselves, and somehow Bucciarati has ended up with you and for whatever reason he doesn’t seem to mind.

And you just stare at him and outside on the other side of the window it gets lighter and eventually Bucciarati opens his eyes and looks at you looking at him and he doesn’t look startled when he does, he just kind of smiles at you, like he knows everything, and you’re kind of convinced that he does and you realize you kind of need to take a piss and you grunt as you push yourself from the bed and there’s still definitely alcohol in your system as you make your way to the bathroom, take your piss and come back and the world is revolving around your head and your eyes are open too wide trying to hold it still and you collapse back on the covers next to Bucciarati who’s looking at you and you don’t care.

I don’t like him, you say, meaning Giorno, and Bucciarati says, I understand, but he’s one of us now, and you grunt and roll over and Bucciarati tells you, Go brush your teeth, Abbachio, and so you push yourself up and make it back to the bathroom and do as he said, and your mouth tastes like mint toothpaste when you come back and Bucciarati lifts the covers for you and so you slide underneath them even though you’re still wearing your clothes but you don’t care and Bucciarati doesn’t seem to, either.

(Sometimes you wonder why he keeps you, why he keeps any of you, when he clearly doesn’t need any of you—but you all need him and maybe that’s why.)

(All of you except for Giorno.)

(And maybe that’s why you hate Giorno, too, because Giorno doesn’t need Bucciarati, not like the rest of you do, but Giorno brings something that Bucciarati seems to NEED, seems to have been craving for all this time, something that neither you nor anyone of the others have been able to provide him, and that hurts you in a way you can’t identify and can’t explain—like the world and how fucked up it is, it just HURTS.)

And maybe Bucciarati can see the thoughts on your face—you really wonder, sometimes—because he says, Do you trust me, Abbachio?

And you just scoff, because he already knows that you do, and you tell him, You’re an idiot if you don’t know that I do, and Bucciarati kind of smiles at you, at least with his eyes, and he says, Give Giorno a chance, and you scoff again and roll over so you can’t see his face, or maybe you do it more so that he can’t see yours, because this Giorno is changing everything, setting things into motion that had been still and in your opinion should still be still, but Bucciarati seems to need this and you’ll follow him of course, you just hope that he finds it worth it because you’re pretty sure that some of you are going to die, because there’s no way that you all can betray the boss and all get out alive.

And it’s fine, really, because you don’t care if you die, for Bucciarati you’d die several times over and if not for him you would surely have already died a long while ago, so you really don’t care if you die, you just don’t want Bucciarati to die first, because without him you’re nothing but a pursuit of the bottom of every alcohol bottle that lands its way into your hands.

Around you the world keeps spinning slightly and resetting, spinning slightly and resetting, and you close your eyes to try to make it stop but that just makes the sensation worse so you open them again and there’s a bright splotch of sunlight on the dim wall and you hear Bucciarati behind you say, Thank you, Abbachio, but you have no idea what he’s thanking you for, and you hear the rustle of the covers and feel the shift of the mattress as he gets up, and he walks around the edge of the bed and then in front of you as he crosses to the bathroom and closes the door and you can hear it when he pisses and then the sink as he washes his hands and then he stays in there for a while and you know that he’s doing his hair and probably touching up the slight bags under his eyes with concealer, and you still wonder how the fuck he does it, carrying the world on his shoulders but still being able to sleep as much as he does and not even being a drunkard.

But you guess Bucciarati is just that strong, and you drank too much last night and the world spins clockwise and then resets, spins clockwise and then resets, and you close your eyes and feel dizzy and know that wherever Bucciarati goes you’re going to remain beside him.

You still don’t understand why the fuck he asked you to join him or why the fuck he keeps you, but if there’s one thing you’ve managed to learn from your experiences as a cop and a member of a gang it’s not to ask questions, so you don’t question it, you just follow, because he asked you to and now he’s stuck with you until one of you dies, and you just really hope that it’s you.

The world isn’t spinning so much anymore when you wake up to a room bright with sunlight and Bucciarati telling you there’s breakfast on the table, and you get up and make it a few steps but you’re tired so you sit right back down, and now you’re on the floor and Bucciarati is standing above you looking down at you with that too-understanding smile and he just says, If you take too long your breakfast will get eaten by Mista and Narancia, and then he leaves, and you curse and move to get up but then end up staying on the floor.

It’s comfortable enough where you are and you know that whenever you finally make it down the food will still be there, probably thanks to Fugo, and you don’t care if it’s cold.

It’s bright in the room with the sunlight and it hurts your eyes so you close them.

 

Bruno understood why Abbachio hated Giorno.

Abbachio was ruled by his heart while Giorno was ruled by his head, and the ex-policeman couldn’t reconcile the differences in their approaches with the similarities in their ideals, especially in consideration of the fact that he felt he’d had to give his own ideals up. And now this youth had shown up like a ghost of those long-lost ideals in a rationalized form, free of the unbearable pain that shredded the platinum-haired man’s soul.

(There was a reason Abbachio got along easily Fugo despite his rage, with Narancia despite his boundless energy and with Mista despite his randomness; they were all ruled by their hearts over their heads.)

Bruno understood why Abbachio hated Giorno, but he wasn’t about to let that stop him from going along with this opportunity that was giving in. Giorno’s dream to change Passione was the same as his, and he needed this.

(Bruno, like Giorno, was motivated by his heart but ruled by his head.)

He watched Abbachio take another swig of the wine bottle in his hand and didn’t say anything.

Abbachio wasn’t going to drink until he blacked out. Not anymore.

(Bruno wasn’t surprised when, after he betrayed the Boss and openly expressed his intention to chase after Giorno’s ambition, Abbachio still followed him.)

(“The only place I’ve ever felt comfortable is by your side,” Abbachio had admitted; it had made Bruno feel warm.)

 

You really are worthless, you think, as the Stand pulls its arm out of your chest and it hurts more than anything has ever hurt in your life, which is saying a lot because everything has always hurt, the world is fucked up and it HURTS and you feel sick and your legs are weak like you’re drunk and you can’t do anything but sit down, you suddenly feel so TIRED.

That kid—

Damn it all, you really are worthless. Just as you’d finally made it to that moment when that picture was taken, which of course just HAD to have been at the very END of June—

Your Moody Blues finally, FINALLY got there and now there wasn’t even anyone to see it, and you were about to—

(You’re very familiar with what it feels like when you’re about to black out.)

With your last conscious thought you have your Mood Blues smash its face into stone like sometimes you’ve wanted to do to yourself but never did because you were always too drunk or hungover and you just really didn’t care enough to go out of your way to die and it seemed so much easier to just drink yourself into oblivion, and then there was Bucciarati and so you never did, and Bucciarati told you to find the boss’s identity and that’s what you did—

God damn it all, that KID—

(And you’d felt so warm when the kids had thanked you, like the civilians had never done when you’d been a cop, and you really are worthless.)

But you can’t just leave Bucciarati with nothing, you’re not THAT worthless, can’t possibly be that worthless when Bucciarati has always put his trust in you, and so you have Mood Blues smash an imprint of his face—the boss’s face—into that stone and a few chips fly off and one lands by your hand and you grip it just to have solid proof that it worked, and everything hurts which is really just like normal except that now the pain is in your body and not just in your head and you feel sick and you’re about to black out, which is also normal except for that this time you know for SURE that you’re not going to wake up, but you’re really too tired to care and at least this shitty end is happening to you and not to Bucciarati. And now he has the Boss’s face.

You can’t fight this dizziness and pain and you black out for the last time. (Somehow you’re satisfied.)

 

Abbachio’s death was all Bruno’s fault. He’d known that Abbachio was essentially defenseless while his Moody Blues was using its replay ability. So why had he left him alone?

Instead of going after the Boss with Narancia, they both should have stayed with Abbachio until his Stand’s replay had finished.

He’d gotten too ahead of himself and had underestimated the Boss. Again.

There was the taste of blood in his mouth from having bitten through his lip. He’d made a mistake. He’d made a decision, and Abbachio had paid the consequences. And now he would would have to carry those consequences with him (like he’d promised Abbachio he would). That was simply part of being a leader.

(But Abbachio was free now, wasn’t he? Despite the brutality of his death, he’d died with a serene expression on his face, which Bruno hadn’t understood until Giorno discovered the death mask of the Boss’s face that Abbachio had left them. Then he realized why Abbachio had died peacefully.)

(The Boss had killed him thinking he was preventing the discovery of his identity by doing so, but Abbachio had gotten one over him in the end and completed the task he’d been trusted with. And that was all that he’d wanted, wasn’t it? To be used by Bruno as a soldier and a tool so he didn’t have to think or break beneath the agonizing weight of the world.)

Bruno’s eyes were burning and his mouth tasted like blood but he squared his shoulders and walked on.

Just as he’d carried the responsibility for Abbachio’s life, he’d carry the responsibility for his death.