Intense chartreuse eyes narrowed as an arm extended, purple bubbles rushing from Caesar’s palm, flattening once in the air and forming into discs. This new move surely caught his rival off guard, narrowly dodging one that came uncomfortably close to his face, close enough to slice off a small piece of brunette hair and send it drifting to the ground.
“Are you trying to kill me?!” Joseph shrieked underneath his stone mask, panting and placing his hand on the place that his hair was cut. His eyes stared widely at his lock of hair that hit the ground, before staring at the man in front of him.
The Italian rolled his eyes unenthusiastically. “Relax, deficiente, I would’ve stopped them if they came too close.” Caesar responded flatly, lifting his hand and flexing his fingers proudly.
“What do you mean ‘came too close’? You cut my beautiful hair! If I didn’t dodge at the last moment, it would’ve been my face!” Jojo was fuming, partially because he was sure that this man still had something against him and meant him harm, partially because there was a chance that his hair now looked stupid. He knew he could’ve dodged those stupid saucers completely if he were less exhausted. He kept patting over the place, trying to determine by feel if his hair was noticeably different. He glared at Caesar with hostility glimmering in his eyes.
“Now boys, I think you’ve had enough for today. Good job on learning a new move, Caesar, but I hope you didn’t mean any harm towards Joseph. Those bubbles came very close. I assume that after your experience with the pillar, you two realized that you’re on the same team.” An intimidating woman with long black hair spoke up as she walked from the sidelines to the middle of the two Haman users, crossing her arms when she stood still between them. “You two did well today, get washed up and I’ll have dinner ready at 7.” Lisa Lisa finished as the two boys lightly bowed their heads and muttered, “Thank you, Master.” before she walked away, leaving the two men to catch their breaths and eventually head to their rooms.
For a moment, the two just stared at one another through the empty space. Joseph was still sure that Caesar meant to harm him, it being an unusually close call compared to the other times that they’ve trained together. He thought that he and Caesar cleared the air after Hell Climb Pillar, but perhaps he was wrong. As Joseph began to turn away, Caesar finally decided to speak up to clear any foul air.
“I knew that you’d be able to dodge them, Jojo.” Caesar explained, Joseph’s attention turning back to him, “Although, I didn’t expect them to come so close. You seem to be a little behind today”.
Joseph nodded in response. He was an easy going guy, and he made the assumption that if Caesar would bother to say something to him, then he must not have bad intentions, right? And he was right, Joseph had been behind today. “Well, uh, a warning would’ve been cool,” The brunette finally spoke up, “Something like, ‘Hey, I leaned how to turn my bubbles into lethal frisbees that can slice skin like butter’”. With that, both had a small chuckle, the tense air clearing up.
“Va bene, no more deadly surprises, even if I think you can handle it.” Caesar had the slightest upwards curl to his lips. Normally, he always wore a scowl, or just generally looked unhappy. Whenever Joseph said something funny enough to make the blonde smile, even if just a little bit, he felt pretty accomplished. He felt proud of himself for making such a serious guy smile for a moment, even if half, maybe even more than half, if his jokes missed.
With that, they walked back to uniquely designed tower that Lisa Lisa called home. Once there, they went to their separate rooms to clean themselves up. The first thing Joseph did was rush to his mirror to look at his hair. He realized that he couldn’t really tell much of a difference in his hair, only a slight one, and it was easy to hide it in the rest of his hair. Caesar would get away with it without getting yelled at... this time.
Caesar had finished cleaning up faster, and headed out to the dining room after he tied his headband back around his head. He sat down at the table, the scent of food cooking filling his nostrils. He was incredibly hungry after a long day of tough training. He tried to guess based off of smell what was going to be for dinner, since he and Jojo weren’t allowed in the kitchen while Suzie Q or Lisa Lisa were cooking. It smelled like a spaghetti of some sort, and the smell of the pasta sauce overpowered any of the other things that were cooking in their. His stomach rumbled and he looked at the time- 6:57. Where was Jojo? Time passed slowly when he had no one to chat with and all he could think about was food. Finally, after food was already on the table for a good 5 minutes and everyone else had already begun eating, Joseph showed up and gracelessly plopped down into his chair, looking exhausted.
Lisa Lisa stood, walking over to Jojo to remove his training mask. Finally, he could get some real air for a few minutes of the day. Joseph really only got to take it off when eating, and he was lucky for that, because Lisa Lisa could’ve easily forced him to only eat soups for the time that he wore the thing. The moment that the mask popped off, Joseph took a dramatically large breath of air before he brought his fingers to his jaw and stroked where the mask previously was, feeling sore from it being so tightly strapped onto his face.
“Jojo, you’re late. Anything wrong?” Lisa Lisa asked as she sat at the table again, eyes all turning to Jojo as the only sounds in the room were silverware making contact with plates and soft chewing.
“Well, to be completely honest, this contraption has been giving me hell.” Jojo answered with a sigh, “I’m used to fighting with it now, but I keep waking up at night, and I can’t breathe. I have to get up and walk around to learn how to breathe right again, usually. I woke up 4 times last night. I sat down on the bed for one moment and I fell asleep for a little while.” He finished, seeing Suzie Q frown at him out of the corner of his eye. He finally began shoving forkfuls of pasta into his mouth. It tasted so good after the long day. He couldn’t tell if Lisa Lisa and Suzie Q were really good at cooking, or it was just the fact that he felt like he was starving every time he sat down to eat dinner. He didn’t understand how Caesar always had such good table manners when he ate dinner, because Jojo had never felt hungrier in his life than after he trained all day.
Lisa Lisa nodded at what Joseph said, staring down at her plate and trying to come up with a good idea to help Jojo. “Well, keeping the mask off is out of the question.” She began, emitting a sigh from Jojo. He hated that mask. Even as he ate, he seemed to glare at it with utter disgust as it sat on the table in front of him. There was a few minutes of silent eating as Lisa Lisa pondered over Joseph’s situation. After everyone finished eating, Suzie gathered everyone’s plates and took them to the kitchen to wash them, leaving Lisa Lisa and the two boys. Lisa Lisa stood, walking to Jojo and reattaching the mask to his face, earning an unhappy grunt. She then stood to face both the boys.
“Okay, I got it, but I don’t think either of you will like it all that much.” She spoke up, sparking Caesar’s attention as well. Why would Jojo’s situation involve him? His mind raced trying to think of what she’d suggest before she suggested it, but he drew a blank. “I want you two to gather your things, and move to the room at the end of the hallway on the 5th floor. It has two beds. Caesar, you are very experienced with Hamon breathing. If Jojo wakes up in the middle of the night, I’d like you to try to help him, guide his breathing. If he doesn’t improve, I’ll have to think of something else. But this is all I have for now.” Lisa Lisa finished, her eyes shifting between both of the boys in front of her, trying to gauge their opinions.
“Ottimo, Master. I just hope that Jojo doesn’t prevent both of us from sleeping.” Caesar answered first, meanwhile, Jojo still had a mouth full of pasta. Caesar felt indifferent, seeing as he grew up with siblings, he wasn’t uncomfortable with sleeping in the same room as someone else. His only concerns were getting his sleep, and having to share a bathroom. Hopefully the plan would work instead of backfiring and causing neither of them to get sufficient rest.
“Like I want to sit there while Caesar flirts with himself in the mirror for practice to play every girl he comes across.” Joseph spoke up, humor in his voice as Caesar gave him a deathly glare. He decided to take this joke even further, putting his hands on the sides of his head and using his pointer fingers to point backwards, imitating Caesar’s headband. “Excuse me, darling, I just couldn’t help but stop you because I didn’t know such a beautiful creature walked on this earth. Would you mind joining me at this unnecessarily fancy Italian restaurant while I use my Haman to make you fall hopelessly in love with me?” Jojo almost laughed, a smile taunting his lips as he gave his best Caesar impression. Caesar was fuming, but Jojo could tell that Lisa Lisa was holding back a small laugh. Too bad Suzie Q was in the kitchen, she definitely would’ve laughed.
“Well, since you’re making jokes, I’m going to assume the arrangement is okay with you.” Lisa Lisa assumed, mostly speaking up so that Jojo didn’t push more of Caesar’s buttons, or so Caesar wouldn’t lash back out at him.
The Englishman shrugged. “Can’t be too bad, I guess. Embarrassing, though.” Joseph finally admitted. It was weird, since he and Caesar were always fighting over who was better, and Caesar was going to see him at his weakest moment. It made him slightly uncomfortable, and he was sure that he was going to be even more uncomfortable when it happened.
Caesar knew exactly how Jojo was feeling, since he could easily put himself in the other man’s shoes. He would also be embarrassed if someone saw him at his weakest moments. He made a mental note to himself to never tease Joseph about it, even if that same man did just make fun of him in front of his coach. He felt that it was dishonorable to make fun of his fighting partner and friend for something that he was embarrassed about.
Caesar was determined to help Jojo get through this.