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The Meaning of Family for Jotaro Kujo, Millennium-2001

Chapter Text

‘I know who I am

and where my song is going.’

 – Pablo Neruda, The House of Odes

The New Millennium in Florida approaches at a normal rate, neither too fast nor too slow; now that Nori and Jotaro have a little bit of respite from Stand attacks, they can spend some time with JoJo as promised, ticking off the few months to a whole new era with their favourite kid.

It’s not just JoJo, of course, that has their attention: both have work to get back to as well as their studies. It becomes an unspoken competition between them to see who can finish their doctorate most quickly and skilfully. He wins, but only by about a week.

Presenting his doctorate to the committee is not, of course, easier than punching a serial killer into oblivion. Jotaro is well aware that he’s not exactly a public speaker, or any kind of speaker at all for that matter; apparently people like to see eye contact and an ‘engaging presence’, whatever that means. As Josuke has pointed out on multiple occasions, Jotaro just tends to constantly look intimidating without meaning to. Perhaps he has a point: when Jotaro finds himself stammering, he imagines the assembled audience as enemy Stand users, and suddenly finds it much easier to violently defend his ideas. It’s probably not exactly the best tactic for making a good impression.

It’s fucking worth it, though, because at the end of the day he stands in front of them and hears “Congratulations, Doctor Kujo,” and pulls his hat over his face, full of the calm satisfaction of successfully defeating his opponent.

(Star is more expressive: behind Jotaro, he grins maniacally and punches the air behind him. Fuck yeah.)

And then Nori hands in their dissertation as well, and, fuck, their work is amazing beyond anything he could ever hope to do, and they deserve the title even more than he does. For weeks afterwards the two of them can’t stop calling each other ‘Doctor’, and it’s an honour to share the name with his favourite person.

In December, Sadao comes down to stay for a while; he still, apparently, hasn’t gotten tired of JoJo, even though JoJo’s illness staying at his house was so long and difficult. At any rate JoJo talks his ear off, and he listens and nods and is generally a doting grandfather.

“Oji-san… I have a secret…” JoJo’s head flicks briefly towards where Jotaro is pretending to read a book but is, in fact, listening closely. He and Nori agree that any day now, JoJo will finally –

JoJo pulls Sadao’s ear close and begins whispering behind one secretive hand.

“Ah?” Sadao hums. “I see. Mhm. Yes, of course. You too, huh?”

Another series of hurried whispers.

“All right, I won’t tell…” Sadao ruffle JoJo’s hair. “But if that’s something you really want, then you should definitely tell your parents, okay? Otherwise they won’t… they won’t know anything about you. And that would make them sad.”

More tentative whispers.

“No, of course they won’t be angry. And they won’t do that again either… at least I hope not.” Here it seems as though a slight sharp tone enters his voice, just for a moment. “They had something important to do over there, I’m sure. Anyway. Mhm. All right. Promise me?”

“Okay,” says JoJo quietly. “I promise.”

“Good.”

JoJo lets go of his ear, apparently satisfied, and begins to leave; at the last moment, however, the kid turns back around, puts a single finger over his lips, and says: “Shh!”

Sadao mimes zipping his mouth tight closed and does not say a word to Nori or Jotaro on the subject until almost two years into the new Millennium.

Chapter Text

‘look no further

for another star

shining through the deserted ether

brighter than the sun…’

 – Pindar, Olympian 1

It’s some time in early 2001 when Haruno Shiobana appears on their radar.

“Hey, Jotaro…” There is a cough from Joseph. He has improved in the last little while, his Hamon restoring his mind enough to deal with a bubbly Shizuka and a still mistrustful Suzi. “I’ve been doing some more research with Hermit Purple. I think… I think I might be onto something.”

“Good grief, not another one,” Jotaro groans. “You have no shame, you know that?”

“I… don’t think this one is mine, Jotaro.” A pause. “I don’t have three dots on my left ear. That birthmark belongs to… someone else.”

He frowns. “Those little moles JoJo has? That isn’t anything to worry about, is it?”

“What I’m saying, Jotaro,” insists Joseph, a little more forcefully, “is that the picture I took is of a different person than little JoJo. With the same birthmark.”

“You mean…?”

“Yes. I think this boy may actually be… his son.”

Jotaro almost crushes the phone.

How the fuck is he going to break that news to Nori?

 

“So, Haruno Shiobana, huh.”

The two of them stare at the photo Joseph sent in morose silence. A teenage boy with black hair in a bowl cut and big emerald-green eyes who looks almost uncannily similar to their JoJo. Something about the shape of the eyes, about the turn of the mouth, even about the curve of the ears (complete with the three barely visible moles that both Nori and Jotaro had overlooked until now) – it is all so very DIO. The colour of the hair or of the eyes doesn’t matter.

“But,” says Nori, smoothing down their navy-blue coat and slim matching trousers, “it could just be a coincidence. A lot of Europeans have similar looks.”

Jotaro scowls and taps his foot, restless, irritated. "If he did something like that to you, who knows who else might have been his victims? Hell, some of them might even have been willing."

Nori adjusts their rectangular glasses. “My god. And DIO didn’t kill the other parent? He just let them get away and bear his child?”

“Probably didn’t even know about this one,” growls Jotaro. “Probably let ‘em get away ‘cause he thought it wasn’t going to come back to bite him.”

"Ugh." They shudder. "What a disgusting person he was."

“Yup.”

"So what are we going to do about it?"

He frowns. "We need to keep under the radar for the moment. We don’t know anything about this kid, and he might be ..." He starts to tap his fingers on the table. "First we need to find some more about him, how old he is and so on. And whether he’s… you know. Evil."

"We’ll need someone... unobtrusive," says Nori. “But with a competent Stand, just in case.”

 "Unobtrusive," he agrees. "You or I would definitely attract too much attention. So let's see..."

 Okuyasu: memorable scars. Josuke: memorable hair. Rohan: memorable everything. They probably don't know the meaning of the word 'unobtrusive'. Joseph: otherwise occupied. And old. And Suzi probably isn’t going to let him out unsupervised ever again.

 "Lisa-Lisa."

 "She climbed up the side of a building just to say hello."

 "So, not her."

 "That leaves Yukako and Koichi that we can absolutely trust to keep this on the down-low. Maybe Rohan, if we really stretch.”

 He frowns. "I don’t think Yukako really does Stand combat anymore."

“She’s distanced herself from the lifestyle,” agrees Nori. "And Rohan is, well, Rohan. That only leaves..."

 Koichi. Who is indeed unobtrusive. Which, in this context, apparently also means ‘short’.

 "Get me a skin sample off this kid, 'kay?"

“Haruno Shiobana?” Koichi tips his head. “That sounds like a girl’s name, but he looks like a guy…”

“These things happen.” Often, in Jotaro’s experience.

 Koichi coughs. "Uh... kinda looks like you, Jotaro-san."

 He shrugs. Haruno is technically his kid's sibling, after all.

The boy’s name is Giorno Giovanna, and he is apparently not evil. Jotaro decides to reserve judgement on that count for now.

Chapter Text

‘…they had been struck with a misfortune such as no one else in their entire circle of relations and friends had ever experienced.’

 – Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

It’s morning again. Today he wakes up at the kitchen table, probably because he was up late looking at evidence of the next enemy to defeat or a dissected octopus’ brain or something of that ilk. More often than not either him or Nori are in there trying not to disturb the other by coming to bed too late, bent over books and papers and working as hard as they can even though they have perfectly good offices they can use. He rubs his face, shrugs Nori’s favourite blanket off his shoulders (they must have put it there, in reflection of what he does for them), and makes his way to the bathroom to shave and wash and clean his teeth, feeling slightly off-kilter (because he slept at the kitchen table) and with slightly blurred vision (because he’s still sleepy).

It takes him until he’s almost reached the bathroom door to twig that his face feels… different. He rubs his face again and is somewhat surprised to feel an odd crease tracing down from just above the middle of each eyebrow to the bottom of each cheekbone, as if he’s been folded into three separate pieces but not all the way. He runs a hand through his hair. It’s much, much longer than he wears it; with mounting dread, he brings a loose curl of it forward in front of himself, and with a cross-eyed gaze confirms that it is indeed bright red, and not his usual inky black.

Oh fuck.

He looks down at his body. Or, well, not his body. Probably the main reason that he felt off-kilter is that Nori is about a head shorter than him and oh, fuck, still has breasts. Oh no. This… is not ideal.

“Nori?” he tries, and is horribly aware of how awful Nori’s soft and pleasantly androgynous voice actually feels to use. Damnit. “Help.”

There is a rumble from the bedroom. “What is it?” Holy shit. Jotaro hadn’t realised how deep and growly he sounded from someone else’s perspective; it’s weirdly different from hearing his voice in a recording, but it still doesn’t sound like the voice he hears in his head. And then –

His half-clothed body opens the bedroom door, and Jotaro’s first instinct is to hide somewhere. Goddamn. Even without wearing Nori’s glasses – they must be on the kitchen table, and he simply didn’t notice – he can see that his body is massive. He’s not remotely used to people being taller than him. And now he is only just on eye level with his own birthmark; he has to tip his head up to see his own sleep-muddled hair. Fuck. He is a massive man. He has no idea how Nori can stand to be near him without flinching.

Jotaro’s body stops just behind the doorway. Pauses, as if to take in the sight of Nori’s body confused and terrified beneath them. Then:

“What the fuck,” says Nori in Jotaro’s voice.

“What the fuck,” replies Jotaro in Nori’s voice.

“Holy shit,” says Nori-inside-Jotaro, stepping forward over the threshold of the door. Then, after a clunk: “Ow.”

“Your own fault for not ducking,” Jotaro-inside-Nori tells them. Then, covering his mouth: “What the fuck is going on.”

“Don’t ask me,” grumbles Nori-inside-Jotaro, rubbing their head. “Ow. You could have warned me.”

“What, that you’re tall enough to knock your head against door lintels? Good grief, that’s not my fault! You should have looked where you were going!”

“Well I didn’t expect to have to look out for a door lintel, did I?” protests Nori-inside-Jotaro. “I don’t even know what the fuck is going on!”

“Neither do I! I woke up with boobs, Nori! Do you have any idea how shitty that is for me?” He looks down at them and immediately tears his eyes away again. Agh. Why are they so big? Nori normally looks good from his perspective, attractively curvy or flat depending on the day of the week or the phase of the moon, but he can’t see past the inevitable feeling of this all being absolutely wrong for him. God, he hopes this isn’t permanent.

“No!” Nori throws up their hands and accidentally whacks the ceiling. “Ow! Well, all right, yes, I do know how it is, but that doesn’t mean you can blame me for it! I happen to like my boobs almost forty percent of the time!”

“I know you do, and that’s great, but this shit isn’t comfortable for me! At all!” He groans. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I really hate being in your body!”

“I know!” Nori-inside-Jotaro shouts. “Which reminds me, we still haven’t addressed the fact that you and I have fucking switched bodies!”

“No, we haven’t addressed that!” agrees Jotaro-inside-Nori, probably more aggressively than necessary. “It’s probably a Stand or some shit!”

“No shit it’s a Stand, genius!” Nori-inside-Jotaro gestures around them. “The next questions are, where’s the Stand user, and – oh fuck.” Suddenly Jotaro’s loud, deep voice goes very quiet, and Jotaro-inside-Nori leans closer to hear what they have to say. “Where’s JoJo?”

Jotaro-inside-Nori takes a breath. “He should still be in bed, right? Since we woke up in the places the other person was in last night.”

“His body is probably going to be in bed,” agrees Nori-inside-Jotaro, even quieter, “but where is his mind?”

“Oh,” says Jotaro-inside-Nori. “Oh fuck.”

In the end, they track down JoJo with the help of a teenage girl who happened to be in the area; she directs them with JoJo’s voice as if she’s accustomed to waking up in a strange house, bed, and body. JoJo, too, seems unconcerned when they finally reach him, and unlike his parents doesn’t seem particularly bothered about getting his old body back.

 “It’th cool,” JoJo explains, with the pink-haired kid’s lisp. She seems to be about fifteen, perhaps a little older. “Right?”

“Sure,” nods JoJo’s head. “I don’t mind.”

(When everyone does finally, finally switch back, to the relief of both Nori and Jotaro, both of the younger ones are devastated. The teenager – Anna? Or something like that – even cries a little when with the discovery that everything is back to normal. JoJo just stares at the ground, quietly, not even waving as his new friend walks away.)

(Well then. They haven’t yet had a proper Talk with JoJo yet, he realizes, one that might confirm or deny the sneaking suspicions that have been building up for a while now; what with one thing and another, and the Case of the Serial Hand Fetishist, they haven’t really had time to address it. It’s a failing that he’s only too ready to repair.)

(He wouldn’t want JoJo to have to struggle as much as he did; even if there’s nothing he can do for Annie or Narcy or whatever the name is, he can at least pay attention to the help his own kid so desperately needs.)

Chapter Text

‘The quest for her: in the thought of her. And of the attempt to be oneself.’

 - Christa Wolf, The Quest for Christa T

The universe, it turns out, has other ideas for their family life.

It’s the beeping that wakes him up in the middle of the night, the incessant high screech inside his ear, and if he were to ever regret putting an emergency tracker inside his own ear canal, this would definitely be the time to do it. He summons Star, as they are meant to do, and uses the strong purple fingers to flick a small switch on the left side of the little fish-robot that’s making all the racket.

As expected, it begins to relay the message that he’s been waiting for, dreading, since they first noticed that Avdol and Polnareff weren’t responding to their calls.

Emergency alert from: Avdol, Mohammed (Stand: Magician’s Red). Coordinates: 45.4408° N, 12.3155° E. Threat level: The World. Requesting assistance from all available parties immediately.

He opens his eyes. Beside him, Nori is also sitting up in bed, with Hierophant out beside them.

“It’s time,” he says.

“It’s time,” they agree. “Best call Sadao and ask if he can take JoJo. We might not be back for a while.”

Or ever, he doesn’t say.

It’s time. They’re going to find out where Avdol and Polnareff have been all these years.

 

No babysitters. That’s the problem. Sadao is touring for the next few months at least and trying to negotiate a collaboration with Joao Gilberto. Joseph and Suzi are struggling enough with Shizuka as it is. Lisa-Lisa is… not good with kids, according to all reliable and even semi-reliable accounts; apparently, the last time she was left alone with a child, Joseph and Suzi had found Holy half-drowned in the middle of a pond with Lisa-Lisa sitting on the surface next to her telling her to “just breathe”. Josuke is also not an option. Although they are risking losing precious time by going the long way, dropping down in Japan for an emergency dose of Italian from Rohan, they can’t leave JoJo there: Josuke and Okuyasu are apparently too busy fighting bear Stands in another province and Rohan is, well, Rohan. Their neighbours in Florida are all conveniently on holiday or already so busy that they can’t possibly take on JoJo.

There is simply no other option. The two of them will have to take JoJo with them.

On a trip to rescue Polnareff and Avdol from unimaginable horrors that, apparently, even they are having trouble defeating. On a threat level of [The World].

It doesn’t really bear thinking about.

JoJo has never been on a plane before, at least not since he was little enough not to remember it. He clings onto either Jotaro’s or Nori’s coat, following through into the parts of the airport where, usually, he isn’t allowed to go, staring with some combination of awe and confusion – “You mean you don’t just get on a plane and fly away?” – and much too excited to have any chance of sleeping, even though it’ll be well past bed time when they arrive.

Jotaro and Nori weren’t able to get a window seat for him this time, of course. Instead, the three of them are stuck in the middle aisle, with one parent on either side (“Nori, there’s no way I’m going to fit in there, remember when we came back from Japan? I had leg cramps for days.”) and JoJo in the centre seat, asking questions about what everything is and what it all means until Jotaro and Nori have exhausted their entire combined knowledge about Aviation and Aerodynamics for Kids. Jotaro vaguely remembers his own parents doing the same, when he was very small and fascinated by the big machines that Sadao would get onto when he left them.

Of course, no one ever talked to Jotaro about –

“JoJo,” starts Nori in a soft voice, once the kid has been quiet for a while with a colouring book. “Since we’ve got a while… You know what happened with your friend Anna?”

“Yeah!” JoJo kicks his legs back and forth; even at nine, his feet don’t quite reach the floor in seats that squish the hell out of even an average sized adult like Nori. It’s genetic, apparently, from their side: they got taller only as high school started, unlike the Joestar side of the family which seems to have a tendency to just always grow. “It was cool.”

“You seemed…” Jotaro hesitates, wrings the fabric on the inside of his pockets. Maybe he’s projecting this, seeing things that aren’t there in the hopes that JoJo will be more like him than he actually is, trying to make JoJo into something he’s not. But he has to at least try not to be like his fucking mother, even if nothing comes of it in the end. He has to notice, care, accept whatever comes. Which means: “You seemed kind of upset when we got back to our usual bodies.” That’s the word Nori used to describe how JoJo looked, and they’re probably right.

More kicks, into the air and then thumping back into the seat. “I’unno. I guess it was just really cool. But it was just a weird Stand or something, right?”

“We never did find the user…” muses Nori. “I seem to remember someone swearing he would do something quite nasty to whoever was responsible. But you didn’t do that, JoJo.”

As Jotaro recalls, his words had been more along the lines of, “I’m going to smash the skull of whoever did this so hard they turn fucking inside-out,” or something to that effect. Not in front of the kid, of course. But it’s true that JoJo never said a word.

JoJo picks up another colouring pencil and chews on it, staring steadfastly at the Fun Day at The Seaside! he’s been working on, complete with a slightly blurred sun from the yellow pencil straying just a little outside the lines. “…I liked it,” he admits, at last. “It was fun. Felt good.”

“And how did going back to your old body feel?” probes Nori.

“…bad.” A pause. “I mean, my body’s okay…” A vague gesture with the pencil; JoJo’s head is still bowed in apparent contemplation of his artwork. “I dunno how to ‘splain it. It was just… nice. Bein’ a girl. I guess.”

“Oh. Okay.” Nori sits back a little. “See, that’s good. That helps us help you. Most people wouldn’t have felt good in your situation. Your dad felt really bad, actually. If it felt bad for you to go back to not being a girl, then we can… do something about that.”

“If that’s what you want,” Jotaro adds. “You don’t have to decide anything right now.”

JoJo looks up, for the first time in the conversation, towards Nori. “So you could reverse the switch? Like, permanently?”

“Uh… no.” They lay a hand on JoJo’s shoulder. “I’m sorry. I don’t know whether anyone in the world could do that. But I do know that we can treat you differently, for a start. If you liked being a girl, then we could start saying you’re a girl. We could give you a real girl’s name, rather than just JoJo. Things like that.”

“…oh.” JoJo slumps down a little, hands between a pair of skinny knees. “Couldn’t a Stand just magically make me a girl?”

Jotaro shakes his head. “’s a bit more complicated than that. We can keep looking for one that does. Just… tell us what you want for now.”

A pause. JoJo stares at the colouring book. Then: “…Maybe you can try sayin’ I’m a girl.”

“So can we say you’re our –” he hesitates, marginally, the word Holy used against him sticking slightly in his throat before he reminds himself that this is for JoJo’s sake, and using words that work is the least he can do – “can we say you’re our daughter?”

“Y-yeah.” JoJo puts her hands up to her face, squirming suddenly with a quiet something enough to assure Jotaro that yes, this is definitely the right thing to do. “I like that, Dad.”

“All right, then.” Nori nods and leans closer to her. “Shall we try to start treating you like a girl while we’re in Italy?”

A pause, then: “Okay. Yeah. It’s… it’s not like anyone’s gonna know any different in Italy, right?”

“Well.” They ruffle her hair, weaving long fingers into the two-tone mess below her odango. “That is the question, isn’t it?”

Chapter Text

‘I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.’

– Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

At last, after two very, very long flights with a very tired and grumpy little girl, the three of them arrive at the airport in Rome. JoJo has finally fallen asleep now, after crawling into Jotaro’s lap in a frankly adorable way; he carries her out, following Nori out of the cramped spaces of the plane and trying to pretend that his bag isn’t moving of (apparently) its own accord, from an outsider’s point of view.

“Right,” says Nori, once they’re all through Customs and out by the taxi rank with minimum fuss. “Now, the exact coordinates are somewhere in this city, but we’ll probably have to search for a few days. We could go to a hotel, but –”

“Kakyoin!” comes a deep and booming baritone from the street. “And Jotaro! My word, but it’s good to see you!”

Out of a car, filling out his same robes and trousers a little more than he used to, his hair knots beginning to grey, wearing a small pair of round spectacles and apparently completely unharmed despite all their expectations, is –

“Avdol!” he gasps, forgetting to keep his voice quiet for JoJo’s sake. She shifts sleepily and looks around at what, to her, is a complete stranger.

“You came!” Avdol opens his arms to them; his gloves are still maroon to match his skin, and now have red and gold patterns stitched into them. “I am afraid if you are looking for a fight you will be quite disappointed. I pressed the emergency button rather too late, and, well, it has been an eventful couple of days since then. But I think you may still be interested in the developments, so you didn’t come here completely for nothing.”

“Really?” asks Nori. “Have you been expecting us, then?”

Avdol shrugs. “Well, I rather hoped you’d come… and my cards were telling me I’d be encountering some good fortune around now… but really, I was just out for an afternoon drive." He hesitates. “By the way, is that… my god, did you bring your child?”

“I – I’m sorry, Avdol,” flushes Nori, “it’s just there weren’t any babysitters, and we couldn’t just leave JoJo at home, and, well, we didn’t know what else to do…”

"Oh. that's quite all right, I understand. Not to fear, I assure you the danger has passed, it’s just… unexpected, is all." Avdol cranes around to catch a glimpse of JoJo huddling shyly in Jotaro’s arms. "Hello there, JoJo. My, you've grown. That's a rather lovely blouse you're wearing."

JoJo buries her face in Jotaro’s shoulder.

"Here, I think I have a sweet in one of my pockets somewhere..." Avdol rummages in his pockets and produces: one wrapped sweet, several small pieces of wood, and an entire tortoise. "Oh, er, don't mind Polnareff. They're asleep. Here you go, JoJo."

“Not s’posed to take sweets from strangers,” mumbles JoJo.

“It’s fine, JoJo.” Jotaro nods at her, still trying to process the casual mention of Polnareff. “You can trust him.”

"Ankyou." She takes the sweet.

Then, Nori says: "What do you mean, don’t mind Polnareff? Where are they?"

"In the turtle."

“Tortoise,” corrects Jotaro.

“Either way.” Avdol turns back to JoJo. "You're very welcome. Now, could you remind me, JoJo – I’m getting to be such a forgetful old man –”

(As if Avdol has even got to fifty yet. He always has been a bit melodramatic.)

"Could you remind me... Are you a boy? A girl? Or none of the above?"

Suddenly JoJo huddles a lot closer to Jotaro.

"It's all right," Nori tells her. "You can tell Uncle Avdol. Right after he explains to us about the tortoise."

"In a minute," Avdol says. "Let Uncle Avdol hear what JoJo has to say. I love that name, by the way, please do call me Uncle Avdol."

JoJo lets go, just a little. "I'm... Imma girl, Uncle Avdol. I think."

"That's fine, JoJo." Avdol opens his hands again. "You can take as much time as you need to think about it. Although I'm sure your parents have told you that already."

"Yeah," says JoJo. "They have."

“Most admirable.” Avdol nods solemnly. “Most admirable indeed.”

"Yes, well. Now can you tell us about the tortoise?" asks Nori.

“It’s… complicated,” says Avdol. “Let me take you somewhere more… private.”

Chapter Text

‘I could perhaps like others have astonished you with strange improbable tales; but I rather chose to relate plain matter of fact in the simplest manner and style; because my principle design was to inform you, and not to amuse you…’ – Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

“So,” says Nori again, once they’re all settled in what must be Avdol and Polnareff’s flat, at least for now. JoJo has already fallen fast asleep in another room, probably jetlagged to hell considering how long she was awake on the plane. “The tortoise is one thing, but also… Where have you been? We didn’t hear from you for years! And then you suddenly press the button out of nowhere? What happened, Avdol?”

Avdol sighs. “Yes, I suppose you do deserve to hear an explanation. Well. It started in, ooh, 1996 or so. We were investigating these arrows, I don’t know if you’ve come across them, they –”

“—bestow Stands?” guesses Nori. “Yes, we’ve seen them.”

“Indeed. Well, our investigations caught the attention of a certain member of the mafia. The boss of Passione, or as we know him, Diavolo. As well as finding an arrow, we had uncovered his trail, and as a result he tried to kill us. Multiple times. He was always so difficult to track down, so difficult to kill…”

Avdol shakes his head. “Somehow he always knew where we were, especially in the early years. We often found electric trackers and recording devices in our rooms. There was no way we could have contacted anyone else, not even with the button, in case he found out. And he was almost impossible to kill. At one point, we had him trapped on the top floor of a building with only two exits, both guarded; I set the whole place ablaze while he was inside it, and he still escaped with only a few small burns.”

“We had several close run-ins after that, mostly with his assassins. At one point Pol lost their sight in one eye; they also lost both legs at different times. We could never quite take him down completely, and eventually we went into hiding so that Diavolo would think we were dead. For years, we tried in vain to take him down with other methods. Then... we found Bruno Bucciarati's gang, and we finally saw our chance."

“So, what,” says Jotaro, “this Bruno Bucciarati was from a different organization or something?”

“No, that’s just it.” Avdol leans forward in his seat, clasping his hands together. “They were all in Passione. I won’t go too much into detail, but this particular group went against the boss, and they all had Stands. Actually, there were two groups that we were interested in at first, but Bruno’s gang was the one to survive long enough for us to contact them. We agreed to meet them at the Coliseum and hand over the arrow to help them defeat the Boss. That would have been a few hours or so before I pressed the button.”

“So… what happened?” murmurs Nori.

“Diavolo happened.” Avdol folds his arms. “I was waiting just inside the entrance to the Coliseum, you understand, while Pol was up on a gallery with the arrow. We had agreed that anyone entering who did not belong to Bucciarati’s group would be killed on the spot. But when I saw Bruno Bucciarati himself, half-dead and leaning heavily on a young person, I knew I couldn’t attack without endangering our only contact as well as someone who could just be an ordinary passer-by. I asked Bucciarati to leave the person outside and to come in alone, but –”

He stops. Breathes in. Strokes his chin. “Well,” he says. “I’m not sure what happened myself. One moment I was talking to this person, the next I –” He strokes over his lower stomach. “I had a serious injury in my abdomen, and the young person had disappeared somewhere. I later learned he was just behind one of the pillars. I’ve never experienced a time-stop, but I imagine the effects are somewhat similar. For Pol, there was only one thing to do after that.”

“What?” asks Nori.

“Use the arrow,” replies Avdol. “With me almost dead for a third time, and the rest of Bucciarati’s gang rushing in to help their capo, Pol tried to stab Chariot with it, and… Chariot Requiem appeared.”

Jotaro leans in. “Requiem?”

Avdol nods. “A Requiem Stand is temporary, but more powerful than the original. You already know what Chariot could do before. Chariot Requiem, well… First, everyone went to sleep. I’m not sure how long we were out, but when we awoke, things had… changed. We had changed.”

“Wait a minute,” Jotaro growls, suddenly getting an idea of just what that change might have entailed, “you’re not talking about… body switching, are you? Because if you are I might have to have some strong words with Pol.”

“As a matter of fact I am,” Avdol replies. “Gosh. I didn’t realise it went all the way to America. I do apologise on Pol’s behalf for any inconvenience.”

“Anyway,” insists Nori, laying a hand on Jotaro’s tight-clenched fist to keep him from punching something, “so you switched bodies with…”

Avdol opens his mouth. Avdol closes his mouth. Finally: “It’s complicated.”

“You keep saying that,” groans Nori, passing a hand over their forehead. “It’ll only get more complicated if you don’t explain it properly.”

“Alright, alright.” Avdol takes a deep breath. “Are you familiar with multiple personality disorder? It’s also known as dissociative identity disorder. A person can have more than one personality, and it’s even possible for each personality to have different physical characteristics. Well, it turns out that Diavolo has two very distinct personalities: himself and this innocent-looking young boy named Doppio. Doppio had transformed into Diavolo in preparation to murder us before the switch, and so Bruno’s mind went into the Boss’ body and vice versa. The thing is, Diavolo and Doppio somehow became separated – mentally, that is. But Doppio’s mind had no body to go with… er, sorry, bad pun. So instead of me simply switching bodies with Doppio as might otherwise have been the case, I was incarnated into their shared Stand while Doppio borrowed my injured body.”

“…the fuck?” Jotaro gapes in utter confusion. “Wouldn’t he have control of you? How could a Stand be its own separate body?”

Avdol shrugs. “Well, look at Chariot Requiem, it pretty much went berserk with the power of the arrow. Pol couldn’t control it at all. Anyhow. For a short while at least, I was a Stand, although Diavolo still retained his powers. Most interesting experience, I must say…”

“And…” Nori strokes their chin. “What happened to Pol and the others, then?”

“Bucciarati’s group all switched with each other, there’s nothing particularly relevant about that…” A loose shrug. “As for Pol, erm… you see that turtle?”

Tortoise. Good grief, get it right.”

“So, let me get this straight,” starts Nori, pressing their fingertips together and sighing once, hard, through their nose. “Everyone had switched bodies, you were a Stand, your body was pretty much dead, Pol had turned into a random tortoise off the street, and you still didn’t think to press the button until nearly the next day?”

“It wasn’t a random turt—tortoise off the street, Bucciarati’s gang brought it with them for some reason,” protests Avdol. “Coco Jumbo has a Stand.”

“And I live in it!” says a voice from the tortoise.

“Excuse me, what.” say Nori and Jotaro, almost in unison.

Chapter Text

‘Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’ - Lewis Carrol, Through the Looking-Glass: And What Alice Found There

“Ah, Pol, dear,” nods Avdol, completely unfazed. “Finally decided to join us, have you?”

Before Jotaro and Nori’s eyes, a hand – then an arm, then a shoulder – then the entire top half of a very familiar looking person balloons out of a small red gem on the tortoise’s back, and two casual arms cross over themselves to lean casually on the tortoise’s outer shell.

“Surprised to see me, mes amis?” asks Jean Pierre Polnareff. They’re wearing a transparent pink eyepatch, and it looks like they’ve lost a lot of weight (a little more than Avdol has gained, even), but that person is definitely the idiotic French fuck that Jotaro and Nori know.

“What the actual fuck,” says Nori.

“Good grief,” agrees Jotaro, staring.

“Well, well, well,” Pol says, nodding slowly. “Look what we have here. I was just waking up from a lovely nap in the turtle’s Stand, and what do I hear but the voices of two of my dear old friends who Avdol and I haven’t seen in years. Imagine my surprise when I find that I’m not still dreaming, but that you really are here in the flesh talking about me behind my back! I ask you! The cheek!”

Avdol chuckles. “They are indeed real. I was just telling them about the Coliseum. Would you like to finish the story?”

“Ah yes,” nods Pol. “The Coliseum. Well, there we were, I as a turtle, my body with the mind of a turtle, Avdol manifested as a Stand, with a group of youngsters who hadn’t even seen our faces and two different versions of the Boss wandering around. It took us all a while to figure out who had switched with whom, and even longer for everyone to be able to trust Avdol while he looked like Diavolo’s Stand. But at last we were able to work together. Even Doppio turned to our side: once he realised that his precious Boss wasn’t going to be calling back, he was more than willing to submit to healing and advise us as to what Diavolo would probably do.”

“Tortoise, not turtle. So…” Jotaro strokes his chin. “The two personalities were working against each other?”

“Indeed. A sad story, but…” Pol sighs. “Well, anyway, we needed to find Diavolo and the arrow. My Requiem was taking the arrow further and further away, and Doppio was sure Diavolo would go after it. Bruno Bucciarati’s body was apparently very weak already and on the verge of death, but somehow Diavolo managed to still get away from all of us in the confusion.”

Another deep breath. “I won’t go into all the little details of the chase or the fight we had with him. There were several moments where, despite all our best efforts, Diavolo seemed to have got away with the arrow. At some point, Bruno Bucciarati figured out how to undo the effects of Requiem, which helped us considerably. Then at last…” A long pause, full of unspoken meaning under Pol’s silence.

Then: “There was a certain individual in Bruno Bucciarati’s group who managed to pierce themselves with the arrow and defeat Diavolo. We were at our lowest at that point: Bruno, who had already been close to death, collapsed and became unresponsive, and Diavolo seemed to have the arrow. He could see past all of Magician’s tricks in an instant, and Chariot was… out of commission for the moment. So Avdol, at my suggestion, finally pressed the emergency button at the height of our desperation, and then –”

“Something happened,” finishes Avdol, laying his hands on his knees. “The rest of us aren’t exactly sure what. Diavolo simply seemed to fall into the water and drown, but I have a strong feeling there was more to it than that. There’s no way anyone could have got around King Crimson’s abilities by simply fighting better.”

Polnareff steeples their fingers and leans forward further onto the turtle’s shell. “I don’t know how to tell you two this, but… the person who did that bears a striking resemblance to a certain man we all met about twelve years ago. As well as to Jotaro. It could just be a coincidence, but we still have good reason to suspect that… DIO had more than one child. This other descendant’s name is… Giorno Giovanna.”

“Oh, yeah, him,” nods Jotaro. “We were just investigating that guy. Koichi said he was a Stand user, but I didn’t realise you’d met him as well.”

“Weren’t you the one getting all worked up about Stand users attracting Stand users?” remarks Nori. “Seems reasonable to expect it after all this time.”

Quoi,” splutters Pol. “You knew about this?”

“For a few weeks now,” confirms Nori, pushing up their glasses. “Through the magic of Hermit Purple.”

“My god,” Avdol gapes. “Joseph is still active? I thought he’d have gone senile long ago. Also, Giorno isn’t a he, they’re a they.”

“Oh, of course.” Jotaro nods. “They. My mistake.” He shrugs. “The old man did start getting that way, but he’s improved since adopting my aunt. But what’s Giorno really like? Are they –”

Quoi,” repeats Pol, slightly louder and slapping the tortoise shell with one hand. “An aunt? What?”

“I also have an illegitimate eighteen-year-old uncle,” Jotaro adds. “Good kid. I think you two would like him. Anyway, about this Giorno –”

Avdol holds up a hand. “No, hold on, you need to explain to us about the uncle and aunt situation first. It’s only fair. We’ve told our story.”

“Not all of it,” points out Nori. “Pol, why are you still living in a turtle? What happened to the rest of Bruno Bucciarati’s group? What happened with – Passione, I think you called it? What about the second personality, Doppio?”

“Oh, erm…” Avdol shakes his head. “There’s not much to tell about all that. Giorno is establishing themselves as Don of Passione with a little help from us and from whatever members of Bucciarati’s gang are left. Doppio is now back in his own body, which seems to be a leftover from the Boss after whatever happened with Requiem. And as for Pol…”

“You understand,” Pol interrupts, “I lost both my legs over the course of a couple of years. I was confined to a wheelchair for a long time. Becoming a turtle, being able to walk again was surprisingly pleasant. Well… This turtle has a Stand which makes a room inside this gem here.” They pat the red stone at their waist. “It’s more accessible than most residences, we’re thinking of installing a disabled toilet, and as a bonus Avdol can carry me around to places I wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. Plus, me and Avdol sleeping in here means there's more room for guests in the flat!”

“A disabled-access room inside a tortoise,” Nori murmurs. “Now I’ve seen everything.”

“So anyway,” says Avdol. “Mind telling us about your relatives, Jotaro?”

Jotaro pulls his hat down over his face, takes a deep breath, and, with plenty of helpful input from Nori, tells them.

They are, to put it lightly, more than a little surprised.

Chapter Text

‘…he never once doubted or had the slightest “ambiguous” thought about the possibility of this girl loving him, or even of the possibility of him loving this girl.’ – Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot

“…and that’s how Jotaro ended up with a posse of teenagers calling him ‘dad’. It’s kind of cute, actually.” Nori pauses. “Any questions?”

“Well, it seems we have all had some considerable adventures since we saw each other last,” concludes Avdol. “We joined the Mafia, you adopted several children and acquired doctorates, it all seems very exciting indeed.”

“So,” frowns Jotaro, “you actually did join? As in, officially?”

Pol shrugs. “Nothing formal. We simply offered to help Giorno in any capacity we could, and they accepted us. But there wasn’t need for us today; a good thing, too, I suppose.”

“Could you…” Nori hesitates. “Should we meet Giorno? As their… relatives. I mean, they’re JoJo’s sibling and everything. I’m not sure if little JoJo should know about that just yet, but Giorno may be interested to know.”

Le petit JoJo?!?” Pol sits up in their tortoise suddenly. “You mean my godson is here??”

“Goddaughter, dear,” corrects Avdol with a chuckle. “La petite JoJo.

“A girl?” Suddenly, Pol wipes a tear from their face. “Je suis tellement fier d'elle I love her already, and I haven’t even met her yet…”

“She’s a good kid,” nods Jotaro. He gestures vaguely towards the other room. “Asleep.”

“Speaking of which,” adds Nori, stifling a yawn, “we haven’t had a lot of that either, and it’s getting very late. So could we…”

“Oh, silly me, of course you can!” Avdol stands up. “I’m terribly sorry. I think Giorno will be interested in you three, and perhaps Pol and I can get you an audience, but before we make any other decisions you absolutely must catch up on some sleep.”

It’s the most sensible advice Jotaro’s heard in a long time.

 

When Jotaro wakes up, feeling surprisingly well-rested, little JoJo is already up and out in the living room, apparently having just encountered her self-proclaimed favourite godparent for the first time.

“JoJo, ma chère, I can’t believe it! You’ve grown so tall!" Pol leans forward out of the tortoise and holds their hands out about half a foot apart. "Last time I saw you, you were this big!"

"I don't know you," pouts JoJo.

"Moi?" Pol lays a hand on their chest and gestures dramatically. "Why, I am your one and only fairy godparent, of course! As you can see, I live in a turtle and spread magic wherever I go!"

Oh, good grief. Jotaro rolls his eyes. “Tortoise.” He’s not even going to acknowledge Pol’s idiotic amateur dramatics and frankly ridiculous stories.

“Tortoise, that’s what I meant.”

"That's stupid," she tells them. "I'm nine, I'm old enough to know fairy godparents don't really exist."

"Oh, I see, very wise, oui," nods Polnareff, patting her head. "And does Miss Wise Nine Year Old believe in sweets? Or is she too mature?"

"...maybe." She kicks her feet. "Please."

"Good, you're polite, unlike your dad –"

Jotaro folds his arms from his position in the doorway. "Hey!"

"—so here you go." With a flourish, Pol produces a piece of wrapped candy. "Maybe more next time, oui?"

JoJo takes the sweet with a nod. "Thank you."

“Not before breakfast, dear one!” calls Avdol from the kitchen. “Save it for later.”

JoJo hesitates, turns her head towards Jotaro. He nods. She puts the sweet in the pocket of her hot pink shorts.

 

“So,” starts Nori, once everyone has eaten. “About this Giorno.”

“Whosat?” interrupts JoJo.

“A… relative of ours,” Jotaro tells her.

Avdol nods. “I did call them earlier this morning,” he says. “I didn’t tell them a whole lot, but they are curious. I suggested they meet you.”

“And…” prompts Nori.

Avdol hesitates. “Yes, well… Giorno agreed to it, but on the condition that Pol and I do not come with you; for now, they would prefer a private audience, especially now that you don’t need a translator. So you two will have to go on your own, although I’ll happily drive you to the meeting place.”

“I see,” nods Nori. “Then can we leave JoJo with you two?”

“Aww, Yaya, why can’t I come?”

“Not to worry,” Pol answers, giving a bit thumbs up. “There is plenty to occupy you in the turtle. You know, the TV doesn’t just have Italian channels – it plays VHS too!”

“Oh good.” Nori reaches over to put their hand on JoJo’s shoulder. “There, see, JoJo? You can have fun in the tortoise with Pol here while Otou-san and I go have some grown-up talks with our… relative.”

“’kay,” she agrees, although it sounds a little sulky still. Then: “Can I watch anything I want?”

“Anything age appropriate.” Jotaro glances sidelong at Pol. “I’d be surprised if there’s anything PG in that tortoise, mind you…”

Pol folds their arms. “But of course!” They lean over toward JoJo. “All right, mon papillon, how do you feel about The Little Mermaid?”

“Yay!” JoJo claps her hands. “Let’s watch that!”

Tres bien!

Well. She’ll be fine. He nods. “Good grief. You better not spoil JoJo too much while we’re gone.”

“Are you kidding?” asks Pol. “How can I not spoil my absolute favourite goddaughter after not seeing her for so long?”

Chapter Text

‘I am the enemy you killed, my friend.

I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned

Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.’

– Wilfred Owen, Strange Meeting

The meeting place, it turns out, is a small run-down old church in the far outskirts of Rome, not important enough to be a tourist spot and far enough away from any other buildings that any potential loud noises will go unnoticed. Avdol and Polnareff assured them that Giorno would not attack, at least not without good reason, but there seems to be an underlying sense that their lives are still very much on the line. The way Avdol stated, without a moment’s hesitation, that Giorno could defeat all four of them at once… well, Avdol is as experienced a fighter as any of them. Probably much more considering that he was involved in Stand work for years before joining the crew for the trip to Egypt.

And now they’re facing their old Egypt enemy’s older child. And Avdol, knowing full well that Jotaro and Nori defeated DIO together, expressed the futility of attacking Giorno as a fact. (Useless.) And if that isn’t enough to give someone the creeps, nothing is.

The heavy wooden door of the church has been left just slightly open; after a brief check that nobody is watching (nobody is: the entire street seems absolutely deserted) the two of them slip in. Inside, it’s as he expected: dark and shadowed, with a single beam of sunlight conveniently falling in from a small hole in the ceiling onto the tiled floor near the first pew. Just behind the light, a chair facing away from them, with a person sitting on it facing towards them and leaning their arms casually on the seat back.

There is a quiet pause.

“So,” says the shadowed figure in crisp, clean Italian. “You must be the people our mutual friends have told me about.”

“Giorno Giovanna,” breathes Nori. They keep reaching up to stroke at the small dimple on their forehead, disguising what must be repressed instinctual fears as a hair-combing tic. “Yes. I am called Kakyoin. This is Jotaro.”

“Hm,” replies the shadow. “Indeed.” Another silence, an echo of nothing in the stony church. Then: “I hear you killed my father.”

“Yes,” says Jotaro, because there’s no use denying it. “We did.”

“It is no concern of mine.” Giorno drums their fingers on the back of the chair. “I never knew him. I have no particular desire to get involved in anything beyond my own sphere of influence.”

“Apart from taking over the mafia, obviously,” murmurs Nori. The sound carries unfortunately well over the empty, echoing space. “But of course you may do as you please.”

“Very gracious of you.” A breath. “Momentary, perhaps, but gracious.”

“Giovanna.” Jotaro opens his hand towards the shadow. “We’re not here for revenge, or to hurt you or anything. We just want to know more about you. Will you speak to us?”

A slight shift, as if Giorno has tipped their head behind the impenetrable beam of light. “That depends. What are you willing to tell me? About the murder of a man I have no desire to know? About the family from which you spawned without me? What possible purpose have you to come here, to see a stranger and say ‘we just want to talk’? Avdol and Polnareff may trust you, but I only met them a couple of days ago. What are you to me? Killers. I have had enough of biological relations that despise their younger, more vulnerable bloodline.”

“Oh.” Beside him, Nori suddenly puts a hand up to their mouth; he feels fingers clench suddenly around his arm. “Jotaro…”

“I know.” He reaches over with the hand that isn’t in his pocket and clasps their knuckles in return. Is it really any surprise that Giorno turns out to be similar to them both in more than one way? He can’t say anything, can’t think of anything else to say, other than: “We’ve had enough of that, too.”

“We know, Giovanna,” adds Nori. “We understand. Look, I think we got off on the wrong foot here. Just… You don’t need to talk to us. We were only originally here for our friends anyway. We just thought… you might want to know more about your relations. Even if it’s only for a tactical advantage.”

“Hm.” A slight pause, then the shadow moves as if to rest their chin on their hand. “All right, I’ll bite. Tell me. Just how are you related to me, anyway?”

Bite. Vampires. Vampires. Giorno? Vampire? Bite?

…wait, he’s thinking about the wrong thing. The question. How they’re related.

Of course Giorno had to start with the most difficult question. Jotaro pulls his hat down over his forehead and tries not to groan. “What do you know about your father already?”

The shadow shakes their head. “Not a lot. Our mutual friends have informed me that he was one of the most powerful people on the planet at one time. Other than that, I only have a photo of him to go on. I have also inherited a certain birthmark of his on my shoulder.”

“A star, huh?” asks Jotaro. “Yeah, that’ll be the Joestar mark. It’s…” He sighs.  “Complicated.”

Giorno sits and listens quietly throughout the brief summary of Joestar family history – much more quietly than Jotaro expected, really, without even questioning the fact that vampires existed at one point. (Which makes sense if they themselves are a vampire, they’re going to bite – wait, he’s gotten distracted again.) Finally, Jotaro finishes off with: “…somehow, during that time, DIO apparently had affairs with multiple people. You are presumably the product of one of them. Any questions?”

“So…” The shadow leans back a little. “That makes you…”

“Your great-grand-nephew, yes. Unfortunately.”

“I see.” A deep breath. “That would explain the odd psychic connection I feel with you. However…” They stand up off the chair and step out, into the light. “I have one more question.”

Jotaro and Nori stare at the revealed Giorno Giovanna. They are of average height, slim, and wearing some sort of black embroidered jacket; it is not any of that, however, that so captures the attention. Giorno has completely transformed since appearing in the picture that Jotaro gave to Koichi only a couple of weeks ago: from plain and neutral boy to something… sculptural. Memorialized with marble and oil paints by some grand master of long ago, meant to be looked at from afar without anyone ever coming close to reaching their true soul. Giorno looks like DIO. For some reason on them that look is not a bad thing. Ambiguous, certainly. But not entirely bad.

Their eyes, unmistakeably the same eyes that looks out from the photo, flash bright in the sun so that even without making eye contact Jotaro can see the distinctively DIO-like shape made soft and slightly more non-threatening by what looks like a small amount of mascara. Their complex braided golden hair glows in the beam of light, illuminated as if by a deity bestowing their blessing. There is something about Giorno’s very posture that communicates an inherent royalty and grace, beneficent rather than egomaniacal. He could say what he likes about Giorno’s methods, Jotaro decides, but he has to admit they have a very good idea of staging and dramatic effect.

(Giorno also looks like Holy, what with the hair and eye colour, and the distinctively Joestar shape of their face. Jotaro doesn’t want to dwell on that too much. It’s enough to have to face one living nightmare, never mind both of his worst ones combined into one person. Giorno is very much their own individual, that much is clear already. They are separate and different from their more unpleasant relatives.)

They clear their throat gently and turn to Nori, and the aura around them dissipates slightly. “I understand now why I can sense Signor Jotaro. But tell me, why on earth do I sense not only him, but a second presence like a Joestar within the bounds of the city?”

“I’m not related to you, if that’s what you’re asking,” Nori assures them. “Although I am related to your…” They clear their throat and, quickly, just in the range of hearing, mutter, “Your sister.”

Giorno stands in the beam of light for a moment, their mouth hanging open (their teeth are very definitely not pointy, just normal human teeth, so what was all that about a bite?) and their hands slack by their sides. Then: “My what.”

Chapter Text

‘Child of pure unclouded brow

And dreaming eyes of wonder!

Though time be fleet, and I and thou

Are half a life asunder’

 – Lewis Carrol, Through the Looking-Glass: And What Alice Found There

“What have you told her?” asks Giorno, as they and their badly-dressed bodyguard are stepping out of Avdol’s car and towards the flat where even now JoJo and Pol are probably singing along to ‘Kiss the Girl’ or something similar. “About… me, I mean, or about our father.”

Nori shakes their head. “She… doesn’t know anything, to be honest. She’s only nine. We told her that you were her relative, but… if you want to tell her more I won’t stop you.”

Giorno stands at the entrance, looking somehow both stiff and waveringly uncertain. Suddenly Jotaro remembers that Giorno is only just fifteen and still, despite all appearances and indications otherwise, only human. Then: “No, I… I think I’ll just say I’m her cousin, or something. For now.”

“That’s fine, Giorno.” Avdol pats them on the shoulder. “We understand.”

 

“Ah, you’re back!” Pol sticks their head out of the tortoise. “Good timing, we were just finishing – oh, Giorno! You came back with them?”

“I did,” nods Giorno. “I wanted to see my… cousin.”

“Oh, of course!” Pol ducks down again, and a moment later JoJo’s little hand is clasping onto the outside of the shell. Jotaro goes and pulls her out.

“Did you have a good time with Pol?” he asks, while his body is still shielding her from seeing Giorno.

She nods briefly; he stands up and moves out of the way, satisfied.

“JoJo,” says Nori, quietly. “This is Giorno.”

There is a moment of silence as the two siblings observe each other, very likely able to feel the slight feedback loop from three Joestar descendants being in the same room at the same time that Jotaro can feel, the slight staticky awareness that speaks to the connection of their blood.

Then: “Hello, JoJo,” murmurs Giorno at last. “I’m your cousin. Pleased to meet you.”

JoJo doesn’t say anything.

“Uhh…” Giorno swallows. “You want to see a magic trick?”

“Okay,” nods JoJo.

“Then – watch! What’s that?” Giorno points to where a small ladybird is flying in from somewhere to buzz gently around Jolyne’s nose. “Looks like a little friend came to say hello.”

“H-hello,” whispers Jolyne, raising one hand as if to try and touch it.

“Here,” murmurs Giorno, holding out a finger. The ladybird lands delicately on their knuckle; Giorno guides it into the palm of their hand, and then: “Ta-da.”

In place of a ladybird, Giorno is holding what looks like – and is – a red M and M. “Take it,” they say, “It’s for you.”

 “N-nooo!” JoJo gasps and holds her hands to her face. “You want me to eat the pretty ladybird?”

“It’s an M and M,” explains Giorno patiently. “Eating it won’t kill it.”

“Turn it back,” JoJo insists. Giorno flicks their wrist, and the M and M ladybird flutters away to wherever it came from.

“Let’s… try something different. Do you want to see me tuck my ear into itself?” Giorno asks her.

She shrugs. Giorno does.

“Whoa,” she says. “Cool. Can I try?”

She doesn’t manage it, but it doesn’t really matter in the end. By the time she’s given up, both ears red with twisting, she and Giorno are fast friends. Still, Giorno has other things to attend to; once they’ve successfully met with their sister, it’s time for them to get going.

“Jojo, I have one more thing to say to you, and one thing only.” Giorno squats down so that they’re on eye level with Jojo and takes a deep breath. “Never, ever, ever take illegal drugs. If someone ever offers you a substance that gets you high, and you don’t know where they got it from, say NO. You got that? Say NO very loudly and very clearly, and then run the hell away from them in the opposite direction. Drugs are very, very dangerous and I do not want you to become involved in them. Understand?”

“What’s drugs?” says JoJo.

Giorno rocks back on their heels. “Um. They’re… like medicine, but they’re bad for you. A real doctor will never give you illegal drugs. Unless he’s a sick bastard like – never mind. They mess up your life, JoJo. Remember that.”

JoJo nods, although it doesn’t seem as though she fully understands. “’Kay.” Then: “You really get worked up about that, huh?”

“I do,” nods Giorno. “Ridding this corrupt world of the harsh drugs being sold to underaged children is part of my dream for this world. Have you ever had a dream you were desperate to fulfil?”

“I had a dream about bein’ a magical pirate princess one time,” says JoJo. “It was cool. We had marshmallows.”

“That is an attractive dream,” chuckles Avdol from the corner.

Giorno nods and pats her on the head. “Very cute. For now, stay in school, eat your vegetables, you know, that sort of thing.”

“I like vegetables,” she points out.

“By god, you’ve raised a monster,” Pol whispers, head poking out of the tortoise’s gem.

“Well, anyway. Be… good.” Giorno stands up and turn towards Nori and Jotaro, watching on to see their progress. Their voice lowers, just below little JoJo’s range of hearing. “I must inform you that if anything happens to JoJo – if you so much as hurt a hair on her precious little head – the entire force of the Passione mafia will come down upon your heads and you will never be seen again in this life or the next. Is that clear?”

“Perfectly,” replies Nori, barely stiffening. They always have had a lot more self-control than Jotaro, who is gritting his teeth and clenching his fists and struggling very hard not to say something like, 'the same goes for you, you little pisshead'.

“Good.” Giorno takes a deep breath and claps their hands together, once. “With that said, let’s get to know each other a little better, hmm? Why don’t you come along to my temporary base tomorrow, sometime in the morning. You can see what I do for a living, and I can learn a little more about my… cousin’s parents.”

“That, uh…” Jotaro glances at Nori, then towards where JoJo has wandered back to talk to Pol again. She likes Giorno, anyway. He unclenches his fists and allows himself to trust this Giorno Giovanna again, even a little bit. “That could be arranged.”

Chapter Text

‘The hands of the king are the hands of a healer, and so shall the rightful king be known.’

 – J.R.R Tolkien, The Return of the King

“So… you’re going to show us your Stand?” asks Nori, from their seats just to the side of Giorno’s more regal throne. Giorno apparently has a full schedule of showing off to the two of them to get through, as well as a small piece of paper with a long list of questions to ask in their hand.

“I am,” replies Giorno. “You saw a little bit of it in action yesterday, but…” They check the old grandfather clack to their left. “I believe you may have a chance to see its full power in a moment. Guido, it’s 10:30. Send in my appointment.”

The young man named Guido, the bodyguard from yesterday, nods and goes to open the door; behind him, both Nori and Jotaro glance over to where Avdol is leaning against the wall completely unperturbed. Somewhere out in the city, Jotaro knows, a small tortoise is wandering around Rome steered by a mad French person insistent on showing JoJo the sights; in here, however, it’s just Avdol, who seems to have come just to keep an eye on his two younger friends.

“No need to worry, you two,” Avdol reassures, under their combined gaze. “I’ve seen this before and I must say, it’s rather beautiful. Destructive and dangerous, yes, when used against an enemy, but… You’ll see.”

Guido comes back in, leading behind him a plump, grey-haired woman who sniffles as she is brought in before them.

“Signora Davida. Or may I call you Inagadda?” murmurs Giorno, holding out their hand for Davida to kiss. “That was much sooner than I expected. You have brought the payment I require?”

Davida nods and lays a pair of bags at Giorno’s feet: a neat new black messenger bag, and a rather dirtier and more crumpled plastic bag that seems to be filled with something or other.  “As promised, Don Giovanna, 300,000 lire and a bag of litter I picked up from the streets with my own hands. Please, Don Giovanna… she is very sick… I fear she will not last much longer without the transplant.”

“And a transplant she shall have.” Giorno clears their throat. “Guido, the organ cooler?”

“Here.” Guido lays what looks like an ordinary drinks cooler beside Giorno’s chair. “All prepared.”

“Good.” Giorno nods. “Now, Signora Davida, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to check your offering is all there before I hand it over. In private, if you please.”

“O-of course.” Davida backs away out of the room again; Guido closes the door behind her.

“Now,” says Giorno, picking up the litter bag. “Let’s see… Guido, go ahead and check the money, and I’ll do this for our guests’ sake.” They fish around in the bag and at last pick out an average sized plastic bottle – by the colour of the cap, it might once have been some equivalent to Coke, but any logo that might once have adorned it has long since worn off along with the label. It is a perfectly ordinary and slightly grimy piece of trash.

“Aha,” they say. “This should do.” With that, they take out their Stand: a lanky golden person, who takes the bottle carefully and holds it in the palm of their hand. Then –

“Oh my god,” breathes Nori quietly.

Before their eyes, the dented old bottle of whatever it used to be is slowly but surely turning into something pulsing – beating – alive, something that looks like… something that is a beating human heart.

“Good grief,” agrees Jotaro.

The Stand gives a little bow; then, with a flourish, they place the heart in the open cooler.

“Voila,” murmurs Giorno. “This is the power of my Gold Experience. I have the power to bestow life unto any object, even unto the lowliest of street litter, and transform it into something beautiful.”

Beside them, Gold Experience takes out another piece of unidentifiable plastic and, before their very eyes, transforms it into what Jotaro recognises as a quite rare variety of fern.

Holy shit. Plants and animals? That means seaweed – plankton – algae – even potentially coral. He looks at Giorno with new appreciation. “You realize the environmental impact of this, don’t you? You could repopulate so many endangered species… my god, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch alone could be completely eradicated…”

Nori elbows him. “Jotaro. You’re not seeing the best bit. It’s not just about that, don’t you see? Giorno – could you make any part of the body?”

“I could indeed,” Giorno confirms, not without a little pride. “Every organ that is imbued with life, I can create with my power.”

“So, for example,” hints Nori, “if something was missing…”

Jotaro thinks about this for a moment. Then: “Oh. Ohh.” Now that’s an… interesting idea.

“With my Stand-using comrades, of course, I would normally put the heart in myself,” adds Giorno. “However, I think it would not be politic to do such… magic in front of ordinary folk, so in this case I must trust this transplant to the wisdom of doctors. But there it is, as you see. Gold Experience. I hope it will not be necessary to show you my Requiem.”

“No, that’s fine,” interjects Avdol, hurriedly. “You know you can trust these two, Giorno.”

 

“But Nori,” he hisses, bunching the inner fabric of his pockets tightly in his fists, “what if Giorno turns it back into trash? Or – or what if they turn it into a flesh-eating piranha?”

They’re huddled together in one corner of the room while Giorno presents the heart to a profusely thankful Signora Davida, and he can’t help vividly imagining sharp teeth suddenly tearing out through his underwear and flesh like a real-life Alien.

“Jotaro, you’re being ridiculous,” scolds Nori. “I’m sure that’s not the sort of thing they’d do. Besides, you of all people should know that piranhas are mostly scavengers. The stories about them stripping down large animals in minutes are greatly exaggerated.”

Jotaro is pretty sure Joseph mentioned something about being attacked by piranhas one time, but then Joseph has been known to exaggerate, omit, fabricate, confuse, and flat-out lie before. He folds his arms. “Well? How do you know for sure Giorno is trustworthy? We only met them yesterday.”

“And look how immediately good they were with JoJo,” Nori retorts. “Besides, if they wanted to kill us, they’d almost definitely attack us more openly than that.”

He grits his teeth. “Well, fine, but what about the price? For something like this Giorno’s probably going to ask for more than 300,000 lire.”

"It's not that expensive," Nori murmurs. "Much cheaper than Aya. We can afford it."

"Yes, but they're fifteen," he hisses. "Literally half my age. Fucking immoral, never mind illegal."

"I also have very good hearing," says Giorno suddenly from behind them. "And I have actually done something similar for an older friend of mine before. So I have no problem with helping you. Since you are friends of Avdol and Pol, I'd even be willing to do it for free. As a… favour."

Uh-oh. Taking favours from the mafia never works out well, if the gangster flicks are anything to go by. Sooner or later it comes back to bite you.

(Piranhas again. He has got to stop immediately defaulting to the worst possible option. It’s probably because gangsters are well known for “feeding people to the fishes”. This version would just be a lot more… up close and personal.)

"Well?" asks Nori. "What do you think?"

(Stop overthinking it. Just try to be open-minded.)

(Piranhas are the sort of thing DIO would do. Probably. And Giorno is not DIO.)

(Not Holy, either.)

"What..." Jotaro hesitates, tries to find the correct words. "What does your friend think of it now?"

"I didn't get any complaints," remarks Giorno. "But he's seriously injured at the moment because of something unrelated, so things might have changed since then."

Well that’s not comforting at all.

"...good grief." He rallies himself. “But you should be offering transplants to Avdol and Pol, instead. New arms and legs, I mean. They’re the ones who actually deserve it.”

“I already asked,” Giorno replies. “Both of them are content with their prosthetics.”

“Okay, fine, but what about JoJo–”

“Jotaro!” snaps Nori. “Do you want this or not, asshat?”

He grips at the brim of his hat. “I…yes…”

“Then don’t pass up an opportunity like this,” they tell him. “Giorno, what will you need?”

Giorno strokes their chin. “Time, an inanimate object of the correct size, and the permission to punch you very hard in a sensitive area. To ensure both efficacy and privacy, I will also make sure the nerves and blood vessels take a couple of days to fully connect and start working properly. But –” they laugh softly – “I can promise you there will definitely be no piranhas of any kind. First, though – there is some business to attend to.”

Chapter Text

‘What does the world need to become perfect? First of all, and for quite a long time, it needs perfect love.’

- Christa Wolf, The Quest for Christa T

“So,” asks Jotaro. “What’s next on the agenda, then?”

Giorno strolls back over to their chair in the middle of the room and takes a seat; with a magnanimous hand, they gesture for Nori and Jotaro to do the same. Signora Davida has disappeared, presumably shown gently out of the room while they were talking in the corner. "I thought, since you have been so kind as to introduce me to my biological family, I'd introduce you in return to my… real family. No offense meant, it's just that..."

"They're the people who taught you what family truly means in the first place," finishes Nori. "We understand. At the end of the day, biology isn't that important."

"Ahem," coughs Jotaro loudly.

"All right, poor word choice," Nori corrects themselves. "How about this: when it comes to who is or isn't your family, genetics doesn't count for as much as real familial love, companionship, and support. Better?"

“Much,” he nods.

Giorno inclines their head. “Thank you. Then I’ll introduce you. You’ve already seen Guido Mista –”

“Yo,” waves Mista, from where he’s leaning against the wall.

“And I believe my other friends should be coming in –”

The door opens and a young woman – a girl, perhaps, of about Giorno’s age, with pink hair and pink, well, everything – steps in, pushing a wheelchair. The occupant of the wheelchair, a slightly older but still young man with black bobbed hair, seems pale and ill but has still made the effort to dress in a fresh white jacket. Behind them both walks a boy around Josuke’s age, also very pink, with freckles and a generally innocent air. He looks very similar to the girl: the two could almost be siblings. Jotaro supposes it’s reasonable to find two people from the same family in the same gang; that’s why they call it a ‘family business’.

“Bucciarati.” Giorno stands up and opens their arms wide. “And Trish, Doppio. How are things?”

“I am improving, thanks to you, Giorno,” nods Bucciarati. “May I ask who these two individuals are?”

“Friends of Avdol and Polnareff,” Giorno tells him. “And distant relatives of mine. They’re here for a short visit.”

Trish draws up short, stiffens. “Relatives? They’re not… on his side, are they?”

“No, Trish.” Giorno shakes their head. “I know, it’s hard not to be wary of that kind of thing since… since the events with your father. But Avdol and Polnareff trust them, and I have found them worthy enough of our company.”

Trish hesitates, then: “As long as they’re safe.”

“I’m sure Giorno knows what they’re doing,” Bucciarati murmurs. “But perhaps now is not the time to be discussing such things. Giorno, would you like to hear my update?”

“That would be lovely.” Giorno goes to sit back down. “Please, continue.”

Bucciarati clears his throat. “I have a few more capo friends who have voiced their support for you. It’ll take a couple of weeks for everyone I can contact to be on board with it, but many that I am acquainted with didn’t really like… Diavolo. However, I must warn that there may be a few power struggles among the ranks, especially now with the assassination team out of the picture. As for our own team…” He pauses.

“Any news from Sardinia?" Giorno prompts.

"No news.” Bucciarati bites his lip. “Abbacchio is still in that coma. They... say he might not wake up…"

Giorno bows their head. "I see. I’m sorry I couldn’t do more for him, Bucciarati.”

“You… did all you could.” Bucciarati sighs.

After a moment: “How is Narancia recovering?" asks Giorno.

"He's still in a very dangerous condition. If you hadn’t been able to heal him so quickly back then, he might have died. As it is he’s barely conscious, possibly delirious. I’m keeping an eye on him.”

Giorno covers their mouth and nods. "Has anyone found Fugo yet?"

"No. I think he's probably laying low, or defected to another gang."

A deep, long sigh and Giorno turns to Jotaro and Nori. "You see the price of my victory.” They don’t elaborate, leaving their slightly enigmatic statement hanging in the air for a moment, before: “And what about you, Trish? Will you stay or will you go?”

“Don’t ask me that, Giorno,” murmurs Trish. “Not in front of your… relatives. I don’t know the answer myself.”

“You know we’ll all stay in touch if you move on,” replies Giorno, quietly. “No one will blame you. You’ll always have us on your side, no matter what.”

Trish steps back, holding herself with one arm. “I need to think,” she says, and turns her head away. “Just let me think for a few days and I’ll have an answer.”

“A few days,” Giorno nods. For a moment, they allow the dust motes to settle around them from the air, before: "And how go things with you, Doppio?”

(Doppio… Doppio? As in, the boss’s alternate personality? This is that Doppio? He looks so… young. Jotaro’s guess of ‘siblings’ suddenly seems a lot less credible, although he can’t imagine what else they could be. Giorno mentioned Trish’s father as if it was significant, but he’s not sure how it all connects.)

(It reminds him of Josuke. Who probably does look like Jotaro’s younger brother, nephew, or son when people see them together. Perhaps the relationship is… complicated here, as well.)

Doppio’s voice is, like the rest of him, cutesy, innocent, almost effeminate. “I’m… getting better, I guess. I keep thinking the boss is going to call me up, but… it’s just me now, isn’t it?”

“It is.”

“I… I know.” A sigh. “Well, I have to say, things aren’t looking good. As Bucciarati says, it’s going to take a while to regain control of some of the more powerful sections of Passione.”

“Doppio is the person in the gang with the most knowledge of its structure, squadrons, territory, and methods of business, and has been working hard with Bucciarati here to get me established,” explains Giorno. “Now that he has been removed from his alternate personality, anyway – although, I’m sure Avdol and Polnareff told you about that.”

“Uhh,” says Jotaro. “Kinda.”

“Well, anyway.” Giorno nods at Doppio. “What have you got so far?"

“There’s…”

After that the discussion turns to territories and trade deals, alliances, enemies, and insurrection; most of it goes over Jotaro's head, but he understands the implications at play. Giorno is in a very vulnerable position. The more allies they have, even strangers who claim to be relatives, the better. The fewer people actively trying to kill them, the better. The more people that can be induced to, at the very least, be neutral presences rather than dangers, the better.

He decides that it is in everyone's best interests to keep that openness mutual.

“So,” he says, once the others have all wandered off to do whatever it is gangsters do in their free time. The same things as everyone else, probably. “You’re putting a lot more trust onto us than you were before.”

“And we’re very grateful,” adds Nori, who seems to have had the same idea as him. “I’m not sure that there’s much we can do to help with…” They gesture vaguely towards where the others have dispersed. “But at the very least we can offer you knowledge of other Stand users, including your other relatives, around the world.”

“That…” Giorno brushes a loose strand of gold behind their ear. “That would indeed be most useful to me. If I may have an additional request…” They hesitate. “I would like to continue to see my sister every now and again. I understand you did not originally intend to bring her here, and perhaps you would prefer to protect her from a… gangster like me, but…”

“Of course you can.” Nori reaches forward towards Giorno, laying a hand of the arm of their chair. “We wouldn’t have introduced you to her if we had thought you were a threat to her.”

Well. He’s not so sure about that. But then he does trust Avdol and Polnareff’s judgement, and Koichi’s, which is that Giorno Giovanna for all their probable faults is a good person at heart, with a true sense of morality and justice, unlike (at least one of) their father(s).

“I appreciate it.” Giorno stands up and brushes themselves off carefully. “Now then, Doctor Kujo, while I remember. Concerning what we spoke of earlier. The, ah, transplant. Why don’t I do that now?”

What?

(Now?)

He looks around, noticing the significant lack of Avdol or of that bodyguard Mista. Only the two of them and Giorno. It’s all very sudden, and there’s probably still a whole pile of reasons he shouldn’t, but then… what the hell. He wanted to try and accept their friendship, didn’t he?

“Uh.” Jotaro looks towards Nori, who shrugs. “Alright. Fuck it. Show me what you got, Giorno Giovanna.”

After all, snap decisions have worked out for him so far, in a weird unexpected kind of way.

It hurts. A lot. But. It’s worth it.

Chapter Text

‘I do mistake my person all this while!

Upon my life, she finds, although I cannot,

Myself to be a marvellous proper man.’

 – William Shakespeare, Richard III (1.2.238-40)

“Can I… touch it? Or see it?” Nori asks, later that night when they are alone.

Jotaro hugs his knees to his chest, holding tight as if to try and keep his clothes securely on his body. Fucking hell. It’s real. It’s real and this time there’s no chance of it falling off if he doesn’t wear the right lipstick and holy shit this is happening this is real holy shit

He swallows. Stares at the wall. This is… actually a possibility. This is a Thing that could Happen and he might actually feel good about his body while it happens and –

“Dunno,” he says. “Barely seen it myself. Still kinda hurts. I don’t know…” He shakes his head. “Didn’t expect rescuing Pol and Avdol to end up like this.”

“We didn’t exactly rescue them,” points out Nori. “Avdol strongly implied that we couldn’t have done much in any case.”

“Still.” He drums both sets of fingers against his arms, fast and haphazard. “Holy shit. And from Giorno fucking Giovanna, of all people.”

“At least we know JoJo won’t turn into a vampire for at least another seven or eight years,” comments Nori, and Jotaro isn’t sure if that’s meant to be a jokey change of subject or a serious thought that just occurred to them. “Though it looks like her hair may one day go completely blonde. But yes. Giorno Giovanna. What a Stand. Not like his… I wonder what hers will be like? And now…” They gesture towards him. “Well. This.”

“Yeah.” He pulls his hat down with one shaking hand. “Giorno isn’t evil like him, though. She won’t be either. Probably. And I…”

He is… a lot of things that are all drowning each other out in his head, and the feeling of being all the contradictory emotions at once, and he can’t figure out how to feel or what to say or do or –

His fists clench. There’s too much good warm feeling, all fighting against the itchy cold nagging feelings that tell him he doesn’t deserve this and this is dangerous and this is scary and this is something to fight. No, it’s not. It’s a miracle, that’s what it is. (It’s a way for Giorno to entice him in.) It’s like finding a pair of shoes that fits and doesn’t rub. (It’s too comfortable.)

It’s real. (It’s not real, it can’t possibly be real.)

He tries to hold himself together by pulling himself further in, drawing his knees up close to his chin and feeling that strange unfamiliar-familiar shift as of a weight being moved as he moves.

God. Even this alone is exhilarating, knowing and feeling the right and the perfect. He isn’t sure what might happen if he actually dares look at it – or touch it. There’s a whole universe to be explored in urinals alone, never mind…

“I’ll give you some time to think,” says Nori, the diplomat.

He barely notices them. His mind is still trying to adjust to this no-longer-phantom limb.

 

For the next couple of days, there is nothing particularly to do; Giorno has showed them everything they can and, well, they know even his deepest and closest-kept secret, so there’s that. Occasionally, Giorno will appear at Pol and Avdol’s place, or summon Nori and Jotaro to their place, ask questions and get answers. It’s… difficult, sometimes, to talk about DIO, especially for Nori, but Giorno never asks more than the two of them can tell.

At any rate discussing the Joestars, or Stands, is… not as strenuous as actually fighting. Giorno meets Star and Green. Jotaro and Nori meet the others’ Stands.

(The Sex Pistols: “They remind me of…” Pol hesitates. “Kakyoin, you remember the Emperor?”

Nori folds their arms. “All I remember from that fight is the utter bullshit you were spouting about there being a mirror world.”

Giorno coughs, and it’s one of the few times Jotaro has seen Nori proved wrong. It’s a memorable enough occasion that he feels the need to commemorate it somehow, perhaps with a certificate or some sort of statue.

Spice Girl: “JoJo wanted her Stand to be called [Sporty Spice],” notes Nori.

“Mm,” he agrees, thinking. “Guess we’ll have to tell her that name’s taken.”

Epitaph: looks like a larger, sentient flesh bud. Jotaro finds it mildly disgusting, this pathetic remnant of what was once King Crimson. He doesn’t have anything to say to this one, and neither does Nori, it seems.)

It’s… friendly, relaxed. A proper holiday. Jotaro hasn’t had one of those in… well, ever, really.

When Nori and Jotaro aren’t with Giorno, Pol and Avdol take the time to bring the three of them – Nori, little JoJo, and Jotaro – to all the interesting tourist spots and nice cafés and excellent ristorantes that they can think of, although there’s a very pointed avoidance of any street leading to the Coliseum.

Nevertheless, it’s nice to spend time with them again without fear of whatever awful things he had been imagining on the plane ride here; as JoJo is on her school break, there’s no particular rush to get back home. Avdol and Pol can talk as much as they like about their extended adventures in Italy, while Jotaro and Nori can tell some of their more interesting stories from Morioh and other places. Even JoJo can chatter about her school and her friends and ask a hundred-and-one questions about Stands or Italy or why does Pol-Pol need a wheelchair, anyway? It’s… cute.

Not to mention. He’s never felt so thrilled with his own body. He’s still figuring out the correct way to pee properly, but even with the nerves not quite connected he feels… excellent. He doesn’t even care anymore that he’s now indebted to the mafia for life. Who would?

“Of course the Basilica is incredibly impressive,” Nori is saying, perching on the side of the bed after a long day of sightseeing. “I have nothing but respect for Michelangelo and the others that worked on it. It’s the largest church in the world, although it’s not actually a cathedral, since it’s not the seat of a bishop. Frankly, though, I don’t care for Catholicism at all.”

They adjust their glasses. “But as far as what we saw today, the Fontana de Trevi is spectacular, don’t you think?  The largest Baroque fountain in Rome, and with the Palazzo Poli as a backdrop! Did you know, you’re supposed to throw your coins in with your right hand over your left shoulder?”

“I…” Jotaro, sitting on the end of the bed and watching Nori’s animated movements practically light up the room, having learned an incredible amount about Italian art and architecture in the past few minutes, blinks. He is suddenly aware of a very strange and very new sensation, one apparently unconnected with anything going on at the moment, and his mind stutters to a halt as he figures out what it is. “Oh. That’s… Whoa. Okay.”

(Huh. Looks like the nerves and blood vessels and such have all finally clicked into place, then.)

“What is it?” Nori leans closer to him. Thank goodness they’re the only person in the room, because this could have been really awkward. “You’re not usually so startled by my incredible knowledge. Something wrong?”

(…Well, it’s not a piranha.)

“Not… wrong. But. I. I’ve never.” He clutches at his hat, trying to cover his face with his hand. This is… absurdly wonderful and better than he could have ever imagined, but also. What the fuck is he supposed to do now. He never thought he’d get this far.

There is a pause, then a slight intake of breath. “Oh! How exciting!” Nori budges up, right into his personal space, a hand already poised and creeping closer. “This is the first time this has happened, isn’t it? Can I see? How does it feel, good? Are you going to –” Their hand goes just a little too close.

He flinches away from their touch, instinctively, and damn, he doesn’t want to be so… sensitive. “Uh. I. Don’t know. What to do.”

“Hey, calm down, it’s okay, it’s just me.” Slowly, Nori reaches forward again, upward to a safer region on his chest; he raises his own hand and accepts their touch, lacing his fingers into theirs. They hum. “We don’t need to go all out all at once. Let’s just take things slow. You can stop at any time.”

“I –” He looks at them, at how understanding and helpful they’ve been, and damn, he doesn’t deserve a person like this. They always know the right thing to say and he’s lucky to get words out in the right order. And maybe he’s taken too long to get this far, maybe he should have at least tried, before, so that the weight isn’t all on them to lead and initiate; although he’s not sure how he would have been able to tell they wanted him to. But they’re here now, and this new feeling isn’t getting stronger at the thought of them, but it isn’t going away either: slowly, deliberately, he relaxes his tense shoulders. “I trust you.” And he does.

They don’t ask for too much, this first time. Just permission, and acceptance. He learns a few tips from them about how to deal with this new bodily function, how it feels and looks, what theirs looks like and how it’s different but not entirely. (He can’t remember if he even thought about that while their bodies were switched; he was probably too focused on everything else to care.) He learns that Nori has been thinking about this quite often. He learns about hands.

It’s weird and new, but he’d much rather go through this weird new experience with Nori than with anyone else. It’s weird and new but Nori is familiar and comforting.

Weird and new isn’t so bad.

And it’s right

It’s right.

Chapter Text

‘A god who wills it can bring anyone safely home however far away they may be.’

 – Homer, The Odyssey

The shaky old voice crackles through the phone line. “Ciao, Suzi Joestar?”

“Oh, hi, Grandma. Is the old man at home, or is he out right now?”

There is a pause. Then: “Jotaro, you speak Italian? I didn’t think Holy taught you any.”

Oh, right. They’re speaking Italian. It has barely even registered until now. Rohan is good. “I, uh, learned it recently.”

“Really?” A giggle. “Why, in that case your accent is magnificent! If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were a native speaker!”

“Uh…” He really shouldn’t be taking the credit for this, but: “Thanks.”

“I’m serious!” Suzi sighs. “Oh, Jotaro, my precious boy, you don’t know how happy you’re making an old woman right now… Well, anyway, what was it you wanted?”

Jotaro blinks. Damn. What did he want, anyway? “I… forgot. Guess I just wanted to say hi.”

“How sweet! Hello to you too, then.” A single, frail-sounding cough. “Send my love to mia patatino Kakyoin and your adorable little cucciolo JoJo, as well.”

“… alright, I will.”

Of course, as soon as he puts down the phone he remembers that he was going to talk to Joseph about Giorno. Oh well.

 

At last, the three of them have seen their fill of Rome, heard their fill of Polnareff’s Dazzling Exploits (which Avdol is always eager to correct with his slightly more realistic version of events), and eaten more Pearl Jam-free Italian food than he thought was even possible.

“Well, thank you for coming to, ahh, ‘rescue’ us,” Avdol laughs, patting each of them on the shoulder in turn. “There’s nothing more you want to see?”

“I think we’ve satisfied all our curiosity about what happened here,” Nori replies. “And more besides. All of us have had a wonderful time, haven’t we?”

“Yeah,” nods Jotaro. He raises a hand towards Giorno in acknowledgement. “Nice meeting you. And… thanks. You know. For everything.”

Giorno claps their hands around Jotaro’s arms and reaches up to kiss him on both cheeks. “It was a pleasure, truly.”

“Oh, Jesus.” He’s been reminded of this often, knows Europeans like this sort of shit, but the sheer proximity of Giorno Giovanna – the burning sensation where he can still feel those horrible lips on his face (his actual face, goddammit) – makes him yank himself away, rubbing his cheeks in discomfort. “Don’t do that.”

“Why not?” asks JoJo, and if he knew the answer to that, why he’s fine with touch one day and repulsed by it the next, a lot of things would probably make a lot more sense.

“It’s nothing personal, Giorno,” Nori assures them quickly. “He just really doesn’t like being touched that much.”

Giorno raises a hand and shakes their hand. “My fault entirely. I didn’t realize. Will you consent to being saluted like an Italian?”

Nori nods. “Gladly.” They allow Giorno to take their arms and lay a delicate kiss on each cheekbone. “It was… interesting to meet you, Giorno.”

Giorno nods and lets go. “Likewise. I’ll stay in contact.” With that, they bend down to hand JoJo a small pin, a smaller version of the ladybirds they wear on their chest. “Here you go, JoJo. A present from me. And remember, if you’re ever in any trouble, I will gladly help you. Here –” they pull a square of paper from their pocket – “this card has a phone number and email address with which you can reach me. I’ve also given one to your parents. Okay?”

“…okay,” nods JoJo, taking both the pin and the card. She’ll probably lose both within the week but then, it probably doesn’t matter that much. “’ankyou.”

“You’re welcome.” Giorno straightens up and brushes themselves off. “Well, Kujos, we’ll meet again, I think.”

“Definitely,” says Avdol.

“We won’t leave you alone from now on,” Polnareff promises. “You’ll get sick of us now that we can call and visit each other freely.”

“We look forward to it.” Nori links arms with Jotaro gently, not too sudden and forceful like the kisses, and waves with their free hand. “Come and see us in Florida any time.”

And with that, the three of them are boarding a plane again, taking a slower but more direct route back home to Florida, closing their loop around the world. They’re leaving Italy in good hands, he thinks. As long as Avdol and Pol are there to keep an eye on them, and as long as they have the support of their gang members, their family, Giorno Giovanna will achieve great things.

(They forgot to ask JoJo whether she, too, wanted Giorno’s help. Oh well. It's not like there aren't other options she could pursue. And that's assuming she even wants to change her body that much.)

(She'll be beautiful no matter what anyway.)

 

Their final stop is closer to home than he expected: a hotel in Tampa where, apparently, Joao Gilberto has just left. Sadao is just coming out of his own room into the corridor, when –

“Oji-san!” JoJo runs up to him, holding out her hands. “I told ‘em! I did it!”

“You did?” Sadao catches her and spins her around. “I knew you could do it. So you had a nice holiday in Italy?”

JoJo nods vigorously. “I’m a girl now. An’ we met my cousin. They could fold their ear inside-out! And make M n Ms out of ladybirds!”

“That’s lovely, JoJo.” Sadao looks up at the two of them. “Did you do what you needed to, as well?”

Nori nods. “We did. Everything is fine now. Avdol and Polnareff say hello… if you remember them?”

“Of course!” Sadao turns back to JoJo. “Did you like them, as well?”

“They’re all right,” says JoJo, in her infinite wisdom. “But they really don’t like the colly—coli—Coliseum.”

All three of them liked it, for one reason or another. Avdol and Pol are fine, alive and well in their little haven. Giorno’s not evil and is reforming the scum of Italy one butterfly at a time. There was no need to fight, and whatever battles Giorno will be undertaking, they’re able to manage without the help of their nosy relatives. He is finally complete. Overall, he thinks, it hasn’t been a bad holiday.