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Respirare

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Bubble Cutter!”

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.

Chapter Text

With a loud ‘thunk’, the last of Joseph’s luggage was finally dropped onto the floor. Caesar had already moved all of his things into the room by the time Jojo was done, in fact, the Italian one was already carefully arranging his things in the bathroom.

Joseph felt a little anxious. He rarely felt this way, even in life or death situations. In life or death situations, he was usually pretty confident in his abilities to think up clever plans in little time, but in this situation, there was no way to avoid the embarrassment that was to come. He knew that he’d wake up choking on his own breath, and it would wake Caesar up, and Caesar would see him struggling. It was weird to feel so awkwardly helpless. He wondered if it would’ve been better to not say anything and try to figure it out himself, but it was much too late now. He sat down on his bed, sighing as celeste eyes stared at the wall in front of him, feeling disappointed in himself. The moment he heard Caesar’s feet exiting the bathroom, he recomposed himself so the other man wouldn’t know that he felt embarrassed and ashamed.

“Tired, Jojo?” Caesar asked as he stepped into the room, realizing that Joseph hadn’t even begun to place his things where they belonged, but instead just sat in a pile in the corner of the room. Caesar decided that he, as well, would finish putting away all his things in the morning.

“Yeah, a bit.” Jojo replied, even though it was a bit of a lie. Nonetheless, he was one of those people that could easily force themselves to sleep. It took him no time to fall asleep, and he rarely ever lay awake at night. He stood from the bed to walk to his small mountain of belongings, digging through it to find pajama pants. Once found, he walked to the bathroom and changed after brushing his teeth.

After settling into the bed, he turned on his side to face Caesar, who was also laying in his bed, with the lamp beside his bed illuminating the book in his hands. Jojo watched him for a moment, before smirking slightly.

“Didn’t know you could read, Caesarino.” He chimed, earning an eye roll from Caesar, who afterwards, continued to keep his eyes on the pages of his book. “What are you reading?” Joseph asked, still watching Caesar.

“The title of it is ‘La Divina Commedia’, but in English, that would translate to ‘The Divine Comedy’. It’s abou-“

“Is it funny?” Joseph interrupted, causing Caesar to roll his eyes again.

“Not necessarily, Joseph, not that kind of comedy. In Renaissance writing, comedy generally means that things turn out well for the protagonist.” Caesar explained, peering over at Joseph, who nodded and still seemed to be staring at him curiously, so he continued, “It’s basically a really long poem. There’s this guy named Dante who goes on a journey for redemption, and his journey is three parts. He goes through Hell, Purgatory, and then Paradise. I’ve only just finished Inferno, which is Hell in Italian. Do you read”?

“Uh, no, reading is too much work.” Joseph answered, earning his third eye roll from Caesar, “But it sounds cool”. Joseph yawned, finally feeling sleepiness hit him. Caesar read a few more lines of his book before closing it and setting it down on the nightstand beside his bed. He then turned off the lamp there, which was the only remaining light in their room. Now, with it dark, Joseph surely fell asleep in seconds, and Caesar fell asleep a little while after.

-

Caesar awake to the sound of choking and sputtering, followed by heavy and uneven breathing that resulted in even more choking and sputtering. His body shot up, reaching over to turn on the lamp. Jojo was already getting out of bed, intending to start pacing the room to force himself into breathing right. Before he had the chance to begin pacing, Caesar was up, walking to him and grabbing his shoulder to lead him back to sitting in bed.

Calmati, Jojo.” Caesar spoke softly, using his hand that wasn’t on the brunette’s shoulder to press on his cheek, forcing him to face Caesar. Intense green eyes met worried blue eyes insistently as Caesar breathed louder, loud enough for Joseph to hear him and follow. He could tell that Joseph was trying, but was still having a difficult time. He furrowed his eyebrows a little, listening to the Englishman’s uneven breaths. After a few moments, Joseph even made another choking noise, but was very slowly settling down. “Lay down, Jojo.” Caesar insisted, guiding Jojo to settle his head back into the pillow, laying on his side facing Caesar.

Caesar grabbed Joseph’s wrist this time, bringing the hand to lay flat against his chest. He continued to breathe correctly, watching Jojo expectantly as he hoped that he would follow his breathing. “Close your eyes, just think about breathing.” Caesar was whispering now, hoping to keep Joseph calm and collected. Surely enough, the other man closed his eyes and focused on the rise and fall of Caesar’s chest, matching his breathing to it to the best of his ability. Caesar sat like that for a while, not wanting to leave until he knew that Joseph was asleep and no longer needed his help. He stared down at him, his eyes observing Joseph’s features, his long dark eyelashes, his pronounced jawline, the mask on his face pressed seemingly uncomfortable into his skin.

Once he was sure Jojo was asleep, he slowly and carefully separated from him, afraid the small creak of the bed would wake the man back up, but it didn’t, he was sound asleep. Caesar returned to his own bed, turning the lamp off again, and taking a little while to finally fall back asleep.

Jojo woke up them up again that night with his laborious breathing and choking, and Caesar didn’t even turn the light on that time to slide right from his bed to Jojo’s, hushing him and bringing the other man’s hand to his chest again. He listened carefully as minutes passed, and Joseph slowly regained himself again. Caesar almost fell asleep there, due to it being dark and mostly quiet, and he was very tired. Once he was sure Jojo was asleep, he clambered back into his own bed again, falling asleep almost the moment that his head sunk into the pillow.

About a week went on like this. Luckily, being awake for small moments throughout the night didn’t bother Caesar very much. He never had to stay awake that long to help Jojo. Although, these past few days had Caesar really softened up towards Jojo. He felt himself grow attached to the other man, and found himself enjoying sharing a room with him. They still bickered and messed with one another, but there was a fondness growing between them. Caesar smiled surprisingly more, even at some of the jokes Jojo told that weren’t funny, but sometimes just the way he said them amused Caesar. He loved the way Joseph’s eyes lit up when he had just thought up a joke and was about to tell it.

Caesar couldn’t help but wonder if he was feeling something more for Jojo, something he’d never felt before. Something that made his heart beat fast and put him a little on edge.

Time passed by surpringly fast despite the constant training. Every night, Caesar helped Joseph. Every day, they grew closer, and both of them viewed one another as a close friend. With every day that passed, They grew stronger together, they learned one another’s fighting techniques, they learned how to work together a team, how to interact with one another using their eyes, signals, and minimal words.

On the 8th night of helping Jojo, Caesar was leaning against the headboard, holding Joseph’s hand to his chest. His eyes were drooping slowly, but he knew that the other man wasn’t asleep yet, but he was calmed down. As he waited for the moment that he believed Joseph was asleep, he slowly drifted off to sleep instead.

In the early morning, before the sun had risen, he realized what had happened and carefully maneuvered himself out of the bed, quickly climbing into his own bed. He hoped that Joseph had fallen asleep before he did, so that he didn’t know that he slept there, and hoped that he didn’t stir at all in the process of Caesar freeing himself. He didn’t know why, it just seemed weird for him to have slept in Joseph’s bed. 

Chapter Text

“You boys haven’t spoken to me lately about the sleeping arrangement. I’m curious. Are you getting enough sleep? Is Jojo improving?” Lisa Lisa asked over the dinner table, looking more so in Caesar’s direction. Caesar currently had his mouth full, so she had to wait a moment for his response.  

, Master, Jojo still wakes up every night, but it’s not hard to get him to sleep.” Caesar replied, his eyes shifting between Lisa Lisa and Jojo, who was eating like a monstrosity, as usual. Lisa Lisa gave them a rare smile, nodding her head.

“I’m glad it’s working out. You boys seem to be getting along better, too.” She replied, placing her silverware on her plate with a clatter as she had finished her dinner. “Your final test is coming up, be ready. I expect nothing but the best.” Is the last thing she said before standing up, snapping Joseph’s mask back on, and exiting the kitchen.

“I can’t wait for this stupid thing to come off.” Joseph grumbled unhappily, his fingers fumbling with the device on his face. Almost every day, he would mess with it, trying to get it off or at least loosen it, despite Caesar always telling him, ‘It’s for your own good’. He couldn’t wait to be able to take big, full breaths of air whenever he wanted to without being choked.

-

Gasping and choking awoke Caesar again, his eyes shooting open and instinctually getting up. He could see a little bit in the room this time, for the moon was full and the curtains weren’t drawn. Joseph never attempted to sit up anymore, he knew Caesar was coming to help him. Although, this time, the choking was worse, having been from Joseph having a nightmare. He dreamt about failing, about dying horribly, about leaving Speedwagon and Granny Erina behind, about not living a full life.

Caesar didn’t sit against the headboard this time, he decided to lay on his side. With confidence, he pulled Joseph’s head to his chest. He could also tell that this time was worse than other times, and he wondered if something was wrong. His hand held the side of Joseph’s head. It wasn’t exactly comfortable for the stone mask to hit against his chest every few moments due to Joseph’s body jerking from choking, but he kept his breathing steady and deep, so Joseph could easily feel the rise and fall of his chest. 

Respirare, Jojo, respirare.” Caesar soothed, “If there is something wrong, we can talk when you’re okay”. The Italian shut his eyes as he lay there, listening to Joseph carefully to make sure he was getting enough air to not pass out. His head dipped down slightly, his nose very lightly getting tickled by the tips of Joseph’s hair. He breathed in again, taking in the smell of Joseph’s hair, it smelled like a mixture of the shampoo Joseph kept in their shower and the natural smell of Joseph. Caesar thought about how hair held a person’s natural smell better than any other place on the body. He breathed it in, once again, letting the smell of Joseph flow through him, the smell relaxing his body and mind. The smell of Joseph was indescribable, but if he had to explain it with words, he’d say it smelled fresh yet musky, a little woodsy and masculine as well.

Joseph was breathing fine again, slowly pushing away from Caesar’s chest, facing him and pulling the blonde out of his trance. Joseph could see his face a lot better than Caesar could see his, the window pouring moonlight being behind him. He felt nervous again, vulnerable again. He hated the feeling of being weak or vulnerable, he felt like it just wasn’t him. He’d spent his entire life being cocky, and always being in control, but now, all he could feel was doubt.

“I don’t want to die, Caesar.” Joseph began hesitantly, his eyes meeting Caesar’s, which were concerned and seafoam green once the moonlight hit them. “There are so many things I haven’t done, so many years I haven’t lived. I’ve never been in love. I can’t die before Granny Erina does, it’ll break her heart”.

Caesar gave a frown, ruffling his own hair with his fingers as he tried to think up a response. He never took Jojo to be the type to worry, he’d only experience seeing Jojo confident and unable to be brought down. He was strong, fast, smart, and never seemed to have a care. This was a side of Joseph that he’d never seen, and he was sure that no one else had ever seen it either. Joseph was the type to make him feel like he was too serious all of the time, thinking over plans and actions, hardly taking the time to play around and make jokes. Joseph acted in mere seconds, usually spoke without much thought. It always felt like Caesar was the one thinking, and Joseph was the one playing, but perhaps there was more to Joseph’s head than what he let come to the surface.

“You will return to your grandmother.” Caesar began, still staring Joseph in his apprehensive cerulean orbs, “I will be here to catch you if you fall, sarò al tuo fian, Jojo”. 

Joseph nodded slowly, although he didn’t understand what some of Caesar said. He was sure that it was something comforting, something nice. He was appealed to the sound of Caesar speaking Italian, knowing it was Caesar’s first language and the natural sound of his voice. “I hope you’re right.” He responded, feeling unsure. They both only lay there for a moment, half staring at one another, half staring through one another as they were both lost in thought.

“Caesar?” The sound of his name broke him out of his thoughts, his eyes returning to look at Joseph’s mostly dark face. “Will you stay here?” Joseph asked quietly, but not without confidence. 

“This bed’s a little small for the two of us, Jojo.” Ceasar responded, his hand rested between his cheek and the pillow. It wasn’t that he particularly minded the bed being a little too small, but he was afraid to wake up in a position that would make them both feel awkward. Caesar wasn’t a stranger to sleeping beside others, for he’d had his fair share of sex with the women he’d wooed before. Although he usually left before they awoke, he also tended to be a more cuddly person than he’d like to be. 

“You slept here last night.” Jojo argued, catching Caesar by surprise that time. He didn’t think Joseph knew that he accidentally fell asleep there. “If you don’t want to, it’s fine, but I thought, you know, if I wake us up again then at least you won’t have to get up.” He reasoned, watching Caesar carefully. 

Va bene, va bene.” Caesar gave in, and Joseph smiled because he knew what those words meant, at least. He could only pick up bits and pieces of Italian from Caesar. But he knew that those words meant something along the lines of ‘okay’, ‘alright’, ‘very well’, or something like that. He heard Caesar say it a lot in response to Lisa Lisa’s demands. 

The side of the Italian’s lips curled up slightly when Joseph smiled, even if he couldn’t see his lips, he knew he was smiling due to the way the skin between his eyes and cheeks creased, the way his eyes twinkled. He was unable to keep his stern facial expression when Joseph seemed as happy as he did. He felt like he was growing soft towards Joseph. He no longer pushed him away as much, these days he even would let Jojo hug him when the brunette was feeling wound up and happy. 

Joseph closed his eyes contently, knowing Caesar was there with him. He felt comfortable, safe. He fell asleep with ease, only moments after his eyes closed, his body lightly curled, head facing downwards. 

Caesar, on the other hand, watched him for a few more moments. Once he was sure Joseph was asleep, he brought his hand up, using his fingers to tuck Joseph’s loose strands of hair behind his ear. He leaned forward, his fingers still lightly grazing the hair on the side of Joseph’s face. He took in Joseph’s smell one more time, and then pressed the possibly the lightest kiss he’d ever given to the top of Joseph’s head.

Non mi sono mai curato così tanto di nessuno.” Caesar whispered before retreating his hand, closing his eyes, and drifting to sleep.

Chapter Text

A punch landing by the slightest bit onto Joseph’s shoulder caused him to grunt, falling back lightly before swinging his leg and catching Caesar off balance, but not enough to fall over. Both men straightened themselves up, immediately regaining balance. 

 

“Is that all you’ve got, Caesarino?” The brunette challenged, charging forward again and throwing a couple of his own punches, both being successfully blocked by the other man. Most swings and kicks were misses from the both of them, but Joseph could tell that he was definitely the one landing more hits. He swore that was faster than Caesar by the tiniest amount. Neither of them had landed any hits to the face yet, though.

It was the day before their final test, and today, Haman wasn’t allowed to be used. Lisa Lisa instructed them to fight hand-to-hand combat to test their agility and speed. It was surprisingly tough compared to normal combat. Caesar and Joseph were just about equivalent to one another when it came to speed, agility, and strength, therefore making it a challenging battle. It was also quite a bit harder to dodge random punches and kicks than it was to dodge the specialized Haman attacks. When using Haman, at least they both had an idea of what was about to be thrown at them, either bubbles or clackers tended to be the case. But when it came to dodging punches, it really just depended on reflexes. 

They both acquired a few small injuries, and it was questionable as to why Lisa Lisa would be okay with them getting so injured on the day before their test, but both of them seemed to be hoping that it would cause training to end early. There was no way that Lisa Lisa was cruel enough to keep them going like this on the day before their final test. 

At last, Joseph managed to land a hit on Caesar’s cheek, although he felt a little bad about it. Caesar placed his hand on his injured cheek, there was no blood, and hopefully no bruising could occur. Joseph hadn’t hit him at full force, and couldn’t see himself ever hitting Caesar in the face at full force, even if he was a sour jerk sometimes. At that, Lisa Lisa called off their fight and walked between the two panting, sweating boys. 

“You two did well today.” Lisa Lisa announced, “I will give you a break for the rest of the day, but before you go back to your room, I would like you two to meet me on my balcony. It’s important”. With that, she left the two behind, who were delighted by the idea of having almost an entire day of rest. They walked towards each other to stand beside one another to walk back to the tower together.

“Sorry for punching you in the face.” Joseph laughed softy, ruffling the blonde hair before wrapping his arm around the older man’s shoulders as Caesar rolled his eyes, head turning to Jojo with the slightest smile on the corner of his lips. Caesar was thoroughly impressed with how fast Jojo had improved in the past couple weeks or so. Caesar, someone who had been training for a good portion of his life, was even slightly below Joseph’s level. He realized that it really was Joseph’s destiny to destroy those Aztec bastards. 

-

As Lisa Lisa held up the red shape, both boys gasped, realizing that she held the Super Aja. She explained her position as guardian of the stone to the boys, and Joseph noticed how Caesar’s fists clenched as she spoke. He understood why Caesar was upset, for the stone was responsible for the deaths of both their grandparents, and probably countless others. 

Joseph tried to convince Lisa Lisa to destroy the stone, but she insisted that it was needed to defeat the Aztecs. Joseph was sure that he could beat them without it, though. It would only be harder if they managed to get a hold of the stone. 

Before they left, Lisa Lisa informed them of their plan tomorrow. That Joseph would fight Loggs, and Caesar would fight Meshina. Their final test was to defeat the strong men who had trained them, who had been studying Hamon for years. Although the thought made both boys nervous, they had confidence.

-

When they returned, Caesar agreed to watch television with Jojo instead of reading after they took turns showering. He also agreed to sit beside him in his bed, it being a more comfortable place now that he’d already slept there before, and luckily had woken up in no strange position. While watching television, Joseph’s head occasionally turned over to glance at Caesar, noticing how Caesar would roll his shoulders uncomfortably or arch his back slightly or twist his body weirdly. He seemed unhappy, and a bit in pain.

“Caesarinooo, I’ll know how to crack backs and shoulders, and also I’d bet I could give a really good massage.” Joseph implied, meeting Caesar’s eyes, which looked a bit gloomy, “You look like you need one. I owe it to you, anyways.”

“If you want to, Jojo.” Caesar shrugged, feeling a little embarrassed knowing that Joseph realized he was sore. He noticed that the brunette didn’t seem sore at all from their vigorous training, and it made Caesar feel like he was weak compared to Joseph. He went into this whole ordeal knowing more, and being better than Joseph, but now it felt like the tables turned. Even if Joseph was only a little ahead of him, even if it was Joseph’s destiny to defeat the Aztecs, it seemed unfair for him to get the upper hand on Caesar so fast.  

“Take off your shirt and lay down then.” Jojo insisted, sitting up onto his knees on the side of the bed. Caesar obeyed, lifting shirt over his head to let it fall somewhere on the ground and laying face down onto the bed, bringing a pillow with him to rest his forehead on. He felt some of Joseph’s weight shift onto his lower, warm fingertips sliding up his back. He almost shivered at the contact, the skin under his shirt to have not been touched by anyone in a long time. He craved the touch, but not enough to show it and lose his dignity or seem strange. He closed his eyes and decided to just enjoy the feeling. 

Joseph placed one of his hands right below Caesar’s shoulder blade, using the other to cup his shoulder, He listened, waiting for Caesar to breathe in, and the back out. At the bottom of Caesar’s breath, he pushed both hands inward, cracking Caesar’s left shoulder and earning a soft groan. After he cracked the shoulder, he massaged it lightly with his thumb. He repeated the action on Caesar’s other shoulder, feeling pleased with himself when it cracked too. 

Joseph had actually learned how to crack shoulders and backs from his Granny Erina. He could remember that when he would come home from a day of doing no good and brawling on the streets, he’d be sore, and his grandmother could tell the symptoms easily. He didn’t know how she knew how to crack his back and shoulders, or how the seemingly feeble old lady was strong enough to do it, but he learned how to do it from paying attention to what she did. He’d never received a massage from her, but he had a pretty good idea on what to do from that one time he paid for one and realized how outrageously expensive massages were. 

His hands slid down from Caesar’s shoulders, palms now pressed to the older man’s lower back. He waited again, for Caesar to breathe in, and then breathe out, pressing down once he was at the bottom of his breath, getting quite a few crackles and another soft, restrained groan. He could tell that Caesar seemed to be embarrassed to make noises that were by the pleasurable sensations. He made his way up Caesar’s smooth, pale back inches at a time, stopping to crack it as he went on. Once he got to the top of Caesar’s back, he repeated his process of cracking it. 

“Cazzo.” Caesar cursed quietly as a good five crackling sounds simultaneously emitted from his body, feeling stress and tension leave so easily. After his body completely relaxed again, Joseph began to rub circles into his muscular back, paying extra close attention to the places that emitted any sort of slight noise from Caesar, and to the knots, which there was quite a few of. He let his fingertips dip down and gently massage the sensitive places he could find, occasionally beginning to push down harder as an experiment to see how much Caesar could take. He never seemed to be in pain from the pressure, so Joseph continued to push hard on certain areas.

Slowly making his way back up Caesar’s spine, he rubbed small circles on the sides as he made his way to his new destination. Once at the Italian’s neck, he pushed aside some blonde hairs that were in his way before using his fingertips to gently caress the sensitive spots on Caesar’s neck. Caesar made a few little noises when the sides of his neck were rubbed, causing fingertips to search for his pressure points, gently rubbing circles into them.

He came back to Caesar’s shoulders in order to give them another good rub, digging his fingertips into them. He decided to test out if he could take it one more step further, retracting his hand from the place beside Caesar’s shoulder blade and replacing it with his elbow, giving him more leverage and the ability to focus the pressure in one spot. It was truly impressive that he could remember the right spots on the upper back. He knew that if he got it wrong, Caesar would be in pain, but he was silently cheering himself on when he only got quiet good noises. After a couple minutes of that, he finally gave Caesar’s shoulders and then back their last rub, gentle and soft, letting the other man’s body to completely relax and making sure there were no more knots anywhere.

As Joseph pulled away from Caesar’s body, the blonde couldn’t help but feel completely dazed. He was in a state that almost felt like he’d been drugged, although it was really just the release of stress and endorphins that caused him to feel this way. Slowly turning back onto his side, facing Joseph, he rested his forehead on the outer of the man’s thigh, actually looking relaxed, looking content. His eyebrows didn’t have the slight furrow to them that they normally had.

“Oh, Caesarinooo, have you never gotten a massage before? I’m not even that great.” Joseph teased through his mask, placing a hand in Caesar’s hair and feeling surprised when Caesar lightly pressed his head against the Englishman’s hand. Jojo was more than happy to twirl Caesar’s soft golden locks between his fingers, watching how they slid around and off his fingers with such ease. 

“Grazie, Jojo.” Was all Caesar had to say in response, a small smile playing on his lips. Joseph was smiling too, knowing that he really knew how to soften Caesar up now. Caesar, the one who always seemed to try his best to act as cold as possible to anyone except his trainer and the women he fooled. 

“I bet you’re mean and sour all the time ‘cause you never relieve all the tension from your angry Italian body. You’d think Mr. Pro-Haman-User would realize the important of being relaxed. You seem like you’d be the type to get girls to give them to you all the time.” Joseph laughed, watching Caesar roll his eyes at his words. Caesar didn’t argue with him, though, not this time. For the moment, he couldn’t possibly be bothered, and Jojo could say whatever he pleased.

Joseph glanced at the time and realized they still had a while until dinner. He set an alarm, just in case he fell asleep, which he probably would. He realized that Caesar was already just about asleep, his eyes half lidded. His hand moved to pull at one of the ends of Caesar’s headband, easily sliding it off. Joseph never saw the blonde sleep with it on before, so he assumed it wasn’t comfortable. He placed it on the nightstand in a pile before mindlessly touching Caesar’s hair again, scratching the man’s scalp in the places that the headband once was. Caesar mumbled something in Italian as his head was being scratched, but Joseph didn’t catch it. 

He couldn’t help but think that Caesar seemed cute when he was sleepy and content. His features had softened and he even looked huggable with his messy blonde hair and the purple triangular marks on his cheeks. After a moment of staring, Joseph rested his head back against the headboard, drifting off fo sleep with his fingers still tangled delicately in Caesar’s hair.

 

 

Chapter Text

 Caesar’s lime green eyes shot open at the sound of an alarm going off, reaching his arm out towards the sound by reflex. The alarm was on the other side of Joseph, so it was quite the struggle to reach it and turn it off. Once he did, his eyes focused upwards on the brunette, who was still asleep.

“Absolutely fascinating that you didn’t do as much as even move when that thing went off.” Caesar muttered, mostly to himself since Joseph was still asleep. He glanced at the clock, reading 5:47, 13 minutes until dinner. He got up, pulled his shirt back over his head, tied his headband back around his head, and then finally decided to bother waking Joseph up, which was a challenge. There was a couple minutes of grumbling and Joseph trying to make him go away, but the mention of food managed to get him out of the bed.

-

“Caesar, the night is young, and we should drink!” Joseph practically pleaded. He had been trying to convince Caesar to ask Lisa Lisa for her keys in order to go buy alcohol since they left their shared room. Caesar seemed against it, but he was slowly feeling convinced. Although he did try to argue that their final test was tomorrow, and they could drink after, Joseph seemed pretty sure that they would probably be leaving soon after their test, there was only a few days left until his rings dissolved after all. “It’s only 6 o’clock, Caesarino, we have so much time!” 

“Oh yeah, how are you gonna drink with that think on your face?” Caesar asked teasingly as they stopped at the top of the stairs, not wanting to have this conversation in front of Lisa Lisa. 

“With a bendy straw, obviously, moron!” Joseph responded as if Caesar was the dumbest man on the face of the planet. The green eyed man rolled his eyes, but the left corner of lips was facing upwards. “Okay, the plan is, when Lisa Lisa gets up to leave, you pull her aside to ask her. It has to be you. She’s known you longer and probably likes you better.” Joseph finished before continuing to walk, not allowing Caesar to argue with him on this any longer.

They sat down at the table just in time for dinner, and once Joseph’s mask was pulled off and he did his regular dramatic big breath and touching his face, everyone began to eat in mostly silence. There was some conversation between Suzie Q and Joseph, but nothing that actually mattered. Joseph also kept shooting Caesar looks, looks that screamed, ‘You’re gonna do it, right?’. 

As Lisa Lisa stood to clasp Joseph’s mask back on, he whined before it even touched his face again. One more day until he could officially get it off. No more waking up at night, no more forcing his breaths to be even. He looked at Caesar again, who finally allowed himself to be convinced, and followed Lisa Lisa before she could get too far. 

“Master, may I ask a favor?” Caesar asked, mostly confident as he caught up, getting beside the raven haired woman before turning to face her.

“What is it, Caesar?” She asked, folding her arms as she usually did, looking at him in a strangely suspicious manner.

“I wanted to show Joseph a couple places before it’s too late, and I was wondering if I could take your car so we could return in good time, since our final test is tomorrow.” He finished, looking to the woman’s stern eyes. She sighed and took her keys out of her pocket to hand to Caesar, but when he went to grab them, she didn’t let go at first, so he met her eyes again curiously.

“Caesar, I hope you know that it is very dangerous and very foolish to develop deep emotional connections in this situation.” Lisa Lisa began, her eyes piercing through Caesar’s, “There are lives on the line, and a lot of tension around our situation. I will not stop you, but I want you to know that any form of love can create deadly situations in this position. Be careful, Caesar”. She released the keys as Caesar nodded, his eyes to the ground now. He should’ve known that she could detect the closeness that was forming between he and Jojo. As she walked away, he clutched the keys roughly in his hands and turned away. 

Mi dispiace, maestro. È troppo tardi. Il mio amore si è già formato.” Caesar whispered as he began walking back to the dining room, eyebrows furrowed.

-

“So, did she give you a hard time?” Joseph asked as he clambered into the red car’s passenger seat, looking to Caesar, who had softened his expression by now.

“No, not really.” He answered plainly as he put the keys into the ignition and started the car. Almost immediately, Joseph reached for the button that displayed an icon of a car with it’s top down, which did exactly what he thought it would. He was absolutely delighted, feeling the wind in his hair as the car began to move. 

Santo cielo, you are a child.” Caesar muttered as he made his way off the island. He would’ve preferred walking if it weren’t for the fact that Lisa Lisa lived on her own island and they’d have to get off of it to find a liquor or grocery store. Walking all the way to a store and back would take way too much time.

Caesar was not a hard liquor person, although Joseph seemed like he may be one. But, perhaps Joseph could be convinced to drink some nice Italian wine instead of going too hard with the alcohol.

Caesar stopped at a grocery store, looking over to meet Joseph’s eyes. “We’re getting wine.” He stated, this time being the one to not let the other argue with him. Although, Joseph didn’t seem to mind. With that, they both walked inside. It took Caesar a while to make up his mind on what to get. He settled for two bottles that he took a liking to, one of which he’d tasted before and knew he enjoyed, and one of which he’d never tried. He also grabbed a couple wine glasses and a pack of bendable straws. Since it was Joseph’s idea, he was the one who paid for them. 

“Why wine glasses? Doesn’t Lisa Lisa have some?” Joseph asked on their way back to the car, carrying the bag that held the wine, glasses, and straws. The wine was individually bagged in paper bags and the wine glasses came inside a box so they didn’t have to be taken extra care of. 

“Well, I told Lisa Lisa I was going to show you around, and that’s why I needed the car. If we come back immediately, she’s going to be furious, so I thought we’d walk to the pier and drink there.” Caesar answered after he got in the car and started it back up. Joseph had a shocked expression on his face, having not expected Caesar to ever lie to his mentor. He always treated her like she was a goddess, and therefore Joseph could never expect him to lie to her, even if it wasn’t a huge lie. The way Caesar said it so nonchalantly had the other man wondering if he was a bad influence on the well-disciplined Italian.

Once they got back, Joseph got out immediately, leaving Caesar to be the one to put the roof of the car back up. It was just about sunset, and the air was warm. Caesar led the way to the pier he was talking about, neither of them speaking as they enjoyed their walk. The air smelled like the ocean, and it was quiet other than a few frogs croaking in the distance, an occasional bird chirping as well for the last few moments of daylight. Unlike New York, where Joseph was used to, this area had no gas smell, no car smell, no trash smell, no busy noises from people and cars littering the area. It was a sort of peaceful he’d never expected to experience in Venice, Italy, which was a place known for tourists to visit. Maybe it was just this particular island being isolated. 

“Ah, here.” Caesar spoke up as he walked into a different direction, a path between a few bushes and a line of fence. The pier itself was like any ordinary pier, but the view beyond it was always breathtaking. In the distance, there were mountains, trees, waves, all which came together so well, yet enough space for them to see the sun’s image just barely begin to touch its reflection in the water. Caesar sat down at the end of the pier, looking to Joseph expectantly until he sat as well. 

“Better than New York, right?” Caesar asked, smiling, the gentle winds lightly blowing the ends of his hair and headband. 

“You win this time, Caesar.” Joseph answered as he pulled one of the paper bags out of the plastic bag. “You really think we’re gonna drink two whole bottles of wine?” He asked as he fumbled at the end of the wine bottle, realizing it wasn’t the kind that twisted off. He then began to concentrate hamon into the bottle in an attempt to use it to simply make the cork fly out of the bottle.

“Stop right there, imbecille.” Caesar snapped, snatching the bottle from Joseph quickly. He used his other hand to reach inside his pocket and pull out a metal bottle opener. “I know that you were not just about to use hamon to open this and send red wine spurting all over us and this pier.” The blonde proclaimed, shaking his head as he took out the cork normally. Joseph was unwrapping the glasses instead, placing them on the pier for Caesar to fill.

“Should we make a toast?” Joseph asked as he took a bendable straw out of the package, placing it in his wine glass and lifting it up with a big grin underneath his mask 

“To what, hm?” Caesar asked him, looking to the sparkling blue eyes as he lifted his glass as well.

“To not dying!” Joseph answered confidently, causing Caesar to roll his eyes even if if did reignite some concern in his body, this was no time to think about it.

“To not dying.” He replied smoothly, letting their glasses clink together before beginning to drink and watching as Joseph pushed his straw into one of the gaps in his mask. Drinking wine with a straw was strange, but it would have to do. 

Caesar’s eyes focused on the sky as the sun was setting, the sky turning a bright orange, the clouds being a soft pink now. He was so mesmerized that he didn’t notice that Joseph wasn’t paying attention, but was instead observing Caesar. The way his lips pressed against the wine glass, the way the sunset reflected in his green orbs, the way the wind messed with his hair, the way he delicately held his wine glass, the way he’d close his eyes sometimes and just enjoy the feeling of the ocean breeze against his face and hair. Luckily, he looked away just before Caesar looked his way, a mere chance that he wasn’t caught staring. They were silent for the entire time the sun set, only occasionally glancing at one another or refilling a wine glass. Both were tipsy by the time the sun was down, but lights along the pier and on the island kept them from being in the complete dark. 

“Have you ever been in love, Caesar?” Joseph asked suddenly, but it was a question he often wondered. He always saw girls fall in love with Caesar, either by his Hamon trickery, or just due to him being a flirtatious and aesthetically pleasing figure. But, had Caesar ever returned feelings, or did he just enjoy the feeling of being wanted?

“No.” Caesar answered flatly, meeting Joseph’s eyes, “I haven’t found one that I found that interesting. They’re pretty, but most don’t have much interesting to say, at least in my experience. I could just be bad at picking them out”. Joseph nodded thoughtfully, their eyes still connected. He scooted a little closer, pouring the rest of their first bottle into his cup and then placing the empty bottle in the plastic bag. 

“You didn’t answer me earlier, you really think two bottles was necessary?” Joseph asked with a smirk before sipping on the wine again, watching Caesar carefully, his view slightly distorted and blurry now from drinking. He felt like he should be closer to see Caesar properly, so he simply sat up a little.

“Nah, but one wouldn’t quite be enough. If I could buy a bottle and a half, I would.” Caesar laughed, a small smile permanently plastered on his face at this point. Alcohol made Caesar feel giddy, happy, a little careless. These were feelings that Caesar didn’t usually feel when sober, at least not before he met Joseph. He felt that he had tied himself together so tightly, but ever since Joseph came along, he felt less stern and serious, like Joseph was slowly pulling at his tightly strung cords, loosening them, ridding all the progress that Caesar made to be stern, cold, and strong. Although it felt better to be loosened up, it also reminded him of his reason to be this way. His past, his father, his history of having strong emotions. He became this way to be stronger, and it was dangerous, how tempting it was to loosen up and lose his grip with Joseph. He wondered how Joseph could be such a good fighter while having such a flippant attitude. 

He snapped out of his thoughts when he realized that he’d been staring at Joseph for a while in the midst of thinking, but soon realized that Joseph was staring too. They both seemed to be entranced by their thoughts. Joseph had his chin rested on his knee, one leg bent upwards and the other laying straight, next to Caesar. After one more glass of wine for the both of them, Caesar found the cork and pushed it back into the bottle, but not far enough to fall in, a mistake that he’s made before. 

“We should go back now.” He spoke up, grabbing their wine glasses and leaning down to dip them in the water, washing them out from small amounts the red liquid that were still in them. After placing them back in the cardboard they came in, he collected the rest of their things, including the straw that was hanging from Joseph’s mask, and stood. He was a little off balance at first, but found his footing. Joseph was about the same, wobbling slightly.

They ended up walking back with an arm wrapped around one another. Joseph’s hand gripped at the blonde’s waist, while his held onto the other man’s shoulder. Luckily, it couldn’t possibly be that late, and he was relieved that they had plenty of time to settle down and sleep. 

It was a bit of a struggle to get up all the stairs that they had to walk up in order to get to their room, but both managed without falling, maybe tripping a couple times on Joseph’s part. The plastic bag was placed on the floor when they got back to their room, and Joseph was quick to collapse onto his bed, turning on his side and patting the space in front of him.

Caesar sighed, but smiled, sitting on the bed beside Joseph and looking down at him. In the lighting, it was much more obvious that both of them were a little drunk. Their cheeks were both tinted pink, and Caesar couldn’t help but notice how glossy Joseph’s eyes were. He lay down on his side, facing Joseph, again staring at one another silently. 

Joseph’s hand moving caught the corner of Caesar’s eye, his eyes adjusting to the figure coming towards him. Before his brain could catch up, Joseph’s warm hand was resting on his cheek, and all he could do was stare at the man’s soft blue eyes. He felt like he was losing himself when he felt Joseph’s thumb gently caress his cheek, tracing one of the triangular marks underneath his eyes. There was no words that could possibly be spoken, for both of them were overwhelmed and speechless due to Joseph’s bold actions.

The blonde didn’t know what had possibly possessed him, but soon he was touching the Englishman’s face as well, his finger tracing around the mask and the straps that held it on. His fingers just barely touching Joseph’s skin, they traced down the man’s face, and then following the line of his pronounced jaw. He could feel Joseph’s fingers touching his neck, his shoulders, caressing his skin through his shirt gently. Hands then slid back and tugged at one of the ends of his headband, pulling it off and letting it land on the floor. Normally, Caesar would fold it up neatly and place it on the nightstand, but it seemed that the last two times it came off, it was due to Joseph’s hand, and it would just end up in a pile wherever it landed. It was weird, but Caesar didn’t care, not now. His eyes couldn’t be bothered to break away from Joseph’s gaze.

Suddenly, Joseph’s hands took a different direction, clumsily finding their ways down his sides, then up the side of his shirt, his fingers wrapped around the other man’s sides as they slid upwards. The warmth from Joseph’s hands radiated through Caesar’s body fast, shivering at the touch. Perhaps it was the alcohol giving Joseph such courage, perhaps it had to do with Caesar accepting it, returning affection. The blonde couldn’t help but wonder if it was all the alcohol’s doing, and if they’d both wake up feeling awkward. His entire body shuddered again, feeling Joseph gently drag his nails down his back, giving him a slightly tickling but pleasant sensation. Joseph’s eyes were watching him carefully, making sure that Caesar was content with being touched delicately.

Caesar pushed away all serious thoughts, deciding to not think about it anymore, but to cherish the feeling while it was here. No more thinking, no more pondering, no more thoughts of any consequences. He let it all go, all of it. He scooted a little close, his gaze still focused on Joseph’s partially lidded eyes, and smiled softly. He could smell the wine on Joseph’s breath, even with the mask in the way, and he was sure that Joseph could smell his too. 

Ti bacerei se potessi.” He whispered, resting his forehead against Joseph’s after watching the other man furrow his eyebrows.

“Fuck you, Italian bastard. You know I don’t understand that.” Joseph mumbled, his arms wrapping around Caesar now, settling down and starting to accept the sleepiness that was overwhelming him. He was only rubbing small circles into Caesar’s bare lower back with his thumbs now, the hem of the blonde’s shirt resting above Joseph’s hands.

“That’s all the fun in it.” Caesar responded with a small laugh, moving his head to bury his face into the crook of Joseph’s neck, which seemed all too warm and tempting to not take advantage of. He took in the smell of Joseph, this time, not in secret. If he wasn’t already intoxicated by the alcohol, he was definitely intoxicated now after the scent of Joseph went straight to his brain. There was something about it, something about the way he smelled, the way he felt, that was so irresistible to Caesar. He rested one hand against Joseph’s side, one tangling itself in spiky brunette hair, pulling his head out of the crook of the man’s neck, green orbs watching Joseph’s eyelids slowly droop lower and lower. Caesar continued to play with his hair, scratch his scalp gently, watching the other fall asleep.

“Goodnight, Caesarino.” Joseph spoke quietly, eyes closing contently, feeling warm, feeling safe, feeling like nothing could go wrong. He wished that when he woke up, everything would stay how it is now. He shifted his body downwards, enough to rest his head on Caesar’s upper chest, against his collarbones, arms still wrapped around him.

“Goodnight.” The Italian man responded softly, stroking his fingers through Joseph’s hair for a little while longer. After he was sure Joseph was asleep, he let his cheek rest on the top of the brunette hair, shutting his eyes and slowly drifting off as he breathed in the smell of Joseph for his last few moments.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

6 days until the rings dissolved. Less than a week until they found out their fates. Less than a week to discover who would live, and who would die.

Joseph didn’t wake up choking on his own breathing last night with the mask. Perhaps it was because he had gotten better, perhaps it was just because he slept with his head to Caesar’s chest. Surprisingly, even with the fact that his timer was ticking, and it was on 6 days, he had no nightmares. 

Caesar awoke first, lifting his head groggily and taking a moment to remember the events of the previous night. He realized that he couldn’t get up, not without Joseph waking up too. The other man still had his arms around him, locking him in place. 

“Joseph.” Caesar’s words were soft, his fingers gliding through the brunette hair as he waited for ocean eyes to show themselves. Joseph stirred slightly, grumbling and complaining about a headache before hugging the man closer. “Our final test is today, we should get up.” The Italian continued, fingers moving from Joseph’s hair to his chin, lifting it up to look him in the eyes. 

“I should also remind you that Lisa Lisa promised us a big breakfast today.” He continued, learning his lesson from the last time he woke Joseph up. Food was definitely the answer to his problems. As expected, the other man perked up a bit, glancing over at the time: 7:48, 12 minutes until breakfast would be sitting on the table for them. Although Joseph wasn’t keen on getting out of bed, where it was warm, comfortable, and was the only place he felt that he’d get affection from Caesar. 

“Two minutes, then I’ll get up, I promise, two minutes.” He grumbled, letting his face bury back into Caesar’s body, closing his eyes for his last few moments, he only got less than 120 seconds to absorb as much warmth and affection as possible. Although he wasn’t drunk anymore, he still felt comfortable in being affectionate towards Caesar. Last night wouldn’t have happened if Caesar didn’t feel the same way, and even if so, Caesar would’ve struggled away by now. 

They remained quiet for their last moments, and Caesar let his fingers continue to run through Joseph’s hair, scratching his head gently. He could feel Joseph’s fingers rubbing at his lower back slowly, partially to be affectionate, partially to let the other man know that he was still awake and there was no need to worry that he’d have to go through the process of waking him again.

Once 7:50 appeared, the two scrambled out of bed, messily getting ready for their day before they left for the dining room. Lisa Lisa had indeed kept her promise and had a big breakfast for them. Joseph, predictably, talked a lot about how he was ready to not have his mask on anymore during the brief moments when he wasn’t shoving food into his mouth. 

-

After a while of Caesar’s battle with Meshina, the larger man announced that Caesar won, and their fight was over, having it gone any further, one or both of them would end up seriously injured or dead. Meshina laughed at Caesar when he reached into the bag he brought, digging out binoculars to peek over at Joseph on the other small island and see how he was doing. When Meshina referred to Joseph as his “good-for-nothing friend”, Caesar felt the need to explain that even if Joseph seems lazy and impudent, he was good on the inside. This caused Meshina to snort.

“You’re bad at making friends, Caesar, but once you do, it’s true love”. This statement caught Caesar a little off guard, not realizing that his likeness for Jojo was really that obvious. He also felt a little odd hearing someone refer to his feelings towards Joseph as “true love”. He shook the thoughts away as he returned to his original task at hand, which was to bring the binoculars to his face and see how Joseph was doing. 

Caesar swore that his heart stopped for a moment when he saw what was happening on the other small island. Loggs was lying dead on the ground, and Joseph was currently battling Esidesi, and something had caused the brunette’s mask to come flying off. Caesar yelled out what was happening to Meshina, tearing away from his binoculars in a quick action to attempt to go help Joseph. He was stopped by Meshina.

“They are too far for us to help. Although it hurts, we must think of Lisa Lisa and the stone. Let’s move.” Is what Meshina said last before heading down the ladder to the tower they stood on.

“Jojo...” Caesar said, looking into the distance to where Joseph was. He stood for a moment, having to encourage himself to follow Meshina’s words. Joseph would be okay, he was strong and it was his destiny to destroy the Aztecs. Joseph would be okay. 

-

After successfully defeating Esidesi, Joseph took the antidote that sat in the man’s nose ring. It was gross, not the taste, but the texture and the fact that it was on Esidesi’s nostril made it worse. He headed back to the tower, touching his freed lips and feeling accomplished. He couldn’t wait to tell Lisa Lisa, to tell Caesar, that he defeated Esidesi and was free. As he walked, he knew he should’ve been thinking about the loss of Loggs, or the things to come, but his mind wandered to what it would be like to kiss Caesar. He imagined his lips being soft, gentle, loving. He imaged what it’d be like to look into Caesar’s eyes before he kissed him, how his wondrous green orbs would stare at him before he kissed him. 

When Joseph got to the tower, he wasn’t sure where Caesar or Meshina were, but he hoped they were fine and everything went about normally for them. He searched for Lisa Lisa, but only found Suzie Q, who explained that Lisa Lisa was bathing at the time. Joseph asked Suzie if she thought he was handsome now that she saw his face outside of him eating as fast as he could, and proceeded to flirt a wee bit more for the fun of it before he left her to go wherever Lisa Lisa was. Once he found the door that he knew she was behind, he couldn’t resist being up to no good again. Maybe it was the adrenaline from fighting Esidesi, maybe it was also because Suzie Q told him that she thought he was hot, but he felt unstoppable. 

Joseph peeked through the keyhole at his teacher in the bathtub, surprised when he also saw Suzie Q in there. Was there another door? How’d she get there so fast. As Joseph pulled back questioningly, he also realized that there was slime on the doorknob, which had gotten on his hand. Gross. Joseph decided to peek in again, but soon, he realized something was wrong with Suzie Q. Something wasn’t right, and Lisa Lisa looked alarmed. Joseph knew what he had to do, which was bust in. 

After he had burst in, he discovered that Esidesi had possessed Suzie Q and challenged him to one last fight. In the midst of it, Caesar finally showed up, his hand resting on Joseph’s should. Caesar didn’t see what was in front of Joseph just yet, and he smiled.

“Jojo, you..” He began, but then remembered he didn’t want to kiss up to Joseph, who was a cocky bastard when it came to fighting and would definitely take any amazement from Caesar as something to stroke his ego. Caesar cleared his throat. “So you survived your bout with Esidesi?” He asked casually, looking past Jojo and realizing that their teacher was covering her naked body in a towel in front of them. 

“What are you doing with our teacher?!” Caesar asked, shocked and angry at first before Joseph rolled his eyes.

“Calm down, meathead, it’s not like that. Look at Suzie Q!” Joseph explained, his voice full of urgency. Caesar then looked to the crying Suzie Q, who slowly made herself clear that she was not herself, but was instead Esidesi hiding his soul in her body.

-

During the battle, the three were informed that the red stone had been placed on a boat and shipped away. It was Lisa Lisa who had to use her Hamon to help Suzie Q remember where it had gone. The moment she figured it out, the three had minimal time to pack anything they could’ve needed. Joseph didn’t get any time to speak to Caesar due to being in such a hurry to pack their things and leave. 

When they got to the car, Meshina had joined them. Caesar was the one instructed to drive, and Joseph sat beside him in the passenger’s seat. 

“In order to keep the stone out of the wrong hands, we may have to do some dirty work.” Lisa Lisa announced before Caesar could put the key into the ignition, “We might break the law. Some of us might end up dead”. 

“I won’t.” Joseph replied confidently, his eyes looking over to Caesar.

“I wasn’t ready before, but I am now.” Caesar confirmed, meeting Joseph’s eyes afterwards for a brief moment. 

“I’ll eradicate them.” Meshina also spoke up, before Lisa Lisa nodded and spoke Caesar’s name to instruct him to start the car. He did as she wished, and soon began to drive off. Joseph looked in the distance at Suzie Q, who seemed a bit sad. He realized that no one had said goodbye to her, and her face seemed a bit wounded and messed up.

“Wait, go back.” Joseph said suddenly, slamming his hand on the dashboard.

“What, why?” Caesar asked, his eyebrows furrowed.

“Go back! I want to say bye to Suzie Q.” Joseph was almost yelling, and Caesar rolled his eyes, but quickly reversed the car, knowing that if he didn’t let Joseph do this, he’d probably complain about it for way too much of their drive. Joseph got what he wanted, saying his goodbyes to Suzie Q and promising to visit sometime as long as she got rid of the ‘ugly wounds’ on her face. Seemed innocent enough.

-

Once stopped by German soldiers, the four discovered that they had the stone. They seemed to be friendly, but it was questionable as to why. They had no choice but to accept the German hospitality. The Germans fed them, gave them drinks, let them relax for a moment. A moment.

When Joseph left the room, he walked into a room that Kars had invaded, and the German soldiers were all dead but one. When Kars lunged forward with his razor sharp blades, they were stopped by the German’s gloved hand. When the glove was cut, it fell off, and so did the soldier’s hat. Von Stroheim. He was alive, and for the most part, made out of machinery now. 

The battle took them outside, and through the destruction, Lisa Lisa, Caesar, and Meshina eventually discovered what was happening.  By the time they made it out, Joseph and Kars were racing to the red stone, which was headed for a cliff. A quick maneuver at the edge of the cliff, the stone went from dangling from Kars’ feet to dangling from Joseph’s fingers, now stopped at the end of the cliff. But, Kars wasn’t going to fall alone. He managed to pierce his blade into Joseph before he fell too far, pulling him down with him. 

As the two tangled and fought while falling, Caesar sprinted for the cliff. There had to be a way to help. As he approached the cliff, it came to him. The idea. Something ridiculous enough that it screamed Jojo’s name. Quickly, he picked up an icicle, laying on his stomach over the cliff.

Almost as soon as he did, there it was. Joseph was doing exactly as he predicted. He felt incredibly proud of himself, smiling as he looked down to see Joseph safely dangling from their line of icicles connected by Hamon. Kars continued to fall, away from Joseph, who ended up with the stone after all. 

“Caesar!” Joseph shouted from below, his eyes sparkling with delight.

“Nice timing, eh, Jojo?” He called back down, a smile still glued onto his face as he heard Stroheim speak up behind him.

“Since when did you two work so well together?” The German asked, looking and sounding cynical.

“Using falling icicles as a rope? Only Jojo would think of something that stupid. It was predictable, that’s all.” Caesar reasoned, but Joseph was still smiling up at him.

“At last, you’re able to think up a stupid trick, Caesar!” Joseph called upwards, winking at him. Caesar realized then, that he didn’t just think up that plan in an effort to try to figure out what Joseph was doing, but Joseph’s way of fighting and thinking up strategies had become contagious to Caesar. A couple months ago, if Caesar had been put in the same situation, he would’ve never been able to think of it, even if it meant saving someone’s life. 

Lisa Lisa beamed at Caesar proudly, and so did Joseph. With some time and effort, Caesar finally pulled Joseph back up to safety. No one else was paying attention, as they were talking to Stroheim about his mechanical body parts, and he was gloating about German technology being “the finest in the world”. Joseph leapt for Caesar, hugging him tightly. Caesar was laughing, the first genuine and full laugh that he’d had in a while. 

“You saved me, Caesarino!” Joseph beamed, ruffling Caesar’s hair after he let him free of the deathly hug. As Joseph stared at him with his wide smile, he was incapable of not noticing how amazing Caesar looked at the time. He looked happy. He was smiling, there were bits of snow in his hair and on the tips of his eyelashes. Joseph wanted to kiss him, wanted to stroke his cheek, wanted to touch those little triangles on his cheeks, wanted to gently glide his fingers through Caesar’s cold but soft blonde hair. He couldn’t. Although the others weren’t paying attention, if he kissed Caesar right there, it would definitely get their attention, possibly in a bad way. He wondered if Caesar could tell that he wanted to kiss him, and if Caesar wanted to kiss him too. 

“Caesar, Joseph, time to go.” Lisa Lisa spoke up before she, Meshina, and Stroheim all turned to head back to the lightly destroyed building. All of Joseph’s questions from before were answered when they began to walk, feeling Caesar’s fingers on his jaw, his head being turned to face Caesar again.

Caesar held his face gently, urging it forward as he leaned in as well, placing a soft kiss to Joseph’s lips. His lips were warm compared to the temperature outside, and they were gentle. As Caesar began to pull away, Joseph quickly placed his hands on the Caesar’s cheeks too, pulling him back in for a longer kiss. He couldn’t help himself. The kiss didn’t last too long, neither of them wanting to take so long that someone turned around and discovered them. As they pulled away from one another, Caesar whispered his last few words before they’d have to get up and follow the others. 

“I’m glad you’re safe, per sei la luce nei miei occhi.

Chapter Text

“Joseph, your room is going to be this door to the left, and Caesar, your room will be beside his. Meshina and I will occupy these other two rooms in this hallway.” Lisa Lisa announced, pointing to the different doors as she spoke. It had been a long day, all of them were both exhausted and anxious for the next day. Meshina was the first to bid them goodnight and go into his room.

Although it should’ve felt normal for Joseph to not share the same room as Caesar, he felt uneasy at the thought of sleeping alone. He had spent many nights beside Caesar, talking to Caesar, taking care of one another. He had almost been surprised when Lisa Lisa informed them that they had separate rooms. He didn’t know how long he had left until a life or death situation, either, and Caesar could fall victim too. He couldn’t stand the thought of not spending as much time with Caesar as he could during these precious moments.

“Goodnight.” Joseph was the first of the two to speak, slowly turning around and entering into his room awkwardly. He felt as though he were more offended and upset than he should be. He looked at the time: 10:57. He paced the room. He fidgeted with the scarf around his neck before just taking it off and throwing it on the bed. He decided he’d give it 30 minutes. 30 minutes of being alone, and by then, Lisa Lisa and Meshina should be fast asleep. He sat down on his bed, watching the clock, trying to occupy his mind with anything to pass the time. He brushed his teeth. He messed around in the available drawers and cabinets in the room, not finding much of anything interesting. A bible, a pen, a notebook, a hanger, and that’s about it.

After a measly 20 minutes passed, he cracked his door open, and peeked outside. It was silent. He decided that 30 minutes was too long, and that now was the time. As quietly as he could, he closed the door to his room, and walked to Caesar’s door. He didn’t notice that the floor creaked lightly before, but now in his time of sneaking around, he did indeed realize that the floorboards would squeak quietly under his feet. He placed a hand on Caesar’s doorknob, which was unlocked, and turned it slowly. He entered the room as quietly as he could and locked the door behind him, smiling.

“I knew you’d be here eventually.” Caesar spoke up from his place on the bed, smiling and setting down his book onto the nightstand, where his neatly folded headband already was. Of course he brought his book. Joseph was grinning, making his way to Caesar’s bed before sitting on it with him, landing right beside him.

“I could sense that you missed my sexy lips.” Joseph replied, making his best kissy face at the blonde who was rolling his eyes at him, restraining his laughter to avoid encouraging Joseph’s stupid humor.

“Sexy lips? If that’s what you think.” Caesar teased, turning on his side to be eye to eye with Joseph. He placed his hand on Joseph’s side, the skin that lay just below Joseph’s cropped shirt, his fingers rubbing the bare skin affectionately. The brunette hummed in approval, scooting his body closer and letting himself relax under Caesar’s comforting touch.

Although he refused to show it, Joseph’s mind was racing with thoughts. Caesar saved him today. Although he was thankful and proud, he also felt sick to his stomach. Sick to his stomach because he felt that if Caesar died in a few days due to this whole Aztec ordeal, it would be his fault for not being there, for not catching him when he fell. If Caesar died, Joseph wouldn’t be able to forgive himself. Not only that, but it was starting to become hard to think of life continuing without Caesar’s existence. He liked to imagine that after it all ended, he and Caesar would drink and laugh and smile and celebrate together. Joseph no longer feared his own death, but instead feared loss.

Joseph pulled himself out of his thoughts for a moment, reminding himself that he shouldn’t think about death. He should appreciate his time right now. If anything was going to happen to either of them, then their last days wouldn’t be spent worrying, their last days would be spent making the most of them. There was no point in letting his mind linger on it.

“Teach me how to kiss, Caesar.” Joseph insisted after he cleared his head of any negativity, his pointer finger lightly touching the other man’s bottom lip. Caesar raised his eyebrows at Jojo, looking a little taken aback.

“How can you call your lips ‘sexy lips’ if they don’t know how to kiss?” Caesar inquired smoothly, the side of his head resting against the pillow as he continued to slide his fingers along Joseph’s exposed flesh.

“Because they are, they’re just ill-experienced.” Joseph replied, “Show me how to use them, I bet you’re real good at kissing”. Joseph slowly reached his hands up for Caesar’s cheeks, thumbs circling them and encouraging himself to be the one to kiss Caesar. Although he was the one to initiate the kiss, the blonde still met him halfway, now holding onto Joseph’s waist with his hand instead of rubbing it with his fingers.

Their lips slid together for a few moments before Caesar’s tongue poked at the other man’s lips, which opened invitingly. Joseph could feel his body getting warm from excitement and desire, following Caesar’s lead desperately. Their tongues clashed together, swirling around one another, their lips becoming slippery with saliva and moving with much more ease now. Caesar led the kiss, letting Joseph follow his movements. Surprisingly, either Joseph was a naturally good kisser, or he was a really fast learner.

Their lips separated for just a moment as Caesar sat up, motioning for Joseph to sit up as well, the brunette resting his back up against the headboard of the bed. His face felt hot when Caesar sat in his lap, legs on either side of Joseph, looking much more calm than Joseph did. Caesar grabbed the other man’s face, looking into his blue orbs, filled with desire.

“It’s easier and more fun this way.” Caesar explained quietly before their lips met again. Joseph’s hands went for Caesar’s waist this time, sliding along it before gripping his hips lightly. He was absolutely mesmerized, putting as much effort into their kiss as Caesar now that he was sure he had the hang of it. Their lips had to separate for Joseph to get air, not being as skilled at collecting small amounts of breath at a time between kisses or through his nose like Caesar was. While he lightly panted, the Italian went for his neck, kissing it wetly, nibbling on it, blowing cold air against the now moist places on his neck, sending a sensation through Joseph’s body that made his whole body tingle.

Joseph could feel himself getting incredibly aroused, feeling a little embarrassed due to Caesar being on top of him, but the older man seemed to pay it no mind. Their lips met again once Joseph had plenty of air in his lungs again, tongues swirling and pushing together. Joseph was more urgent now, his hands sliding down to grab Caesar’s ass, squeezing lightly. It felt like things were moving so fast, and Caesar seemed much more together than the brunette was.

Caesar’s hands slid under the other man’s shirt, sliding it upwards, mumbling “Off.” into Joseph’s lips. They parted, and Joseph allowed Caesar to take off his shirt, but not without equal payment. He slid off Caesar’s shirt as well before their lips came back together, hands sliding up the paler man’s back, tracing his spine as fingers tangled in brunette hair. They pulled back apart for Joseph to pant again, hair sticking out in places, cheeks and lips more pink than before.

“How far are you willing to let this go?” Caesar asked lightly, his fingers tracing Joseph’s jaw. The blonde was definitely much more composed, but perhaps that wasn’t a surprise since it seemed that he’d had sexual encounters before, and it seemed that Joseph hadn’t. Caesar found it a little amusing, considering that Joseph had such a confident and abrasive personality. He seemed like the type of guy who’d definitely have had sexual experiences before, but over the past hour, it had become rather obvious that he hasn’t.

“As far as you’ll let me.” Joseph replied once he was no longer panting again, feeling his heart beat incredibly fast, yet he wasn’t afraid. Caesar made him feel so comfortable, so safe, so pleasant. There was a pinch of thought that reminded Joseph of their situation when Caesar had asked the question, reminding him that they may have limited time together. If he was allowed to go all the way, then he was willing to give it a try.

Caesar seemed to like the answer, humming quietly before pressing a kiss to Joseph’s nose, then forehead, then lips. Caesar wasn’t exactly fond of the idea of talking about sex, but it was definitely something that was worth mentioning.

“Jojo, if you want to have sex, then I should probably top since I have more experience. I’ll take care of you, but don’t feel pressured if you’re not ready to be having sex.” Caesar said gently, watching Joseph carefully. Joseph nodded slowly, trying to think up a proper response, which was a strange move for Joseph. Usually, he blurted most of his words out without thought, but he’s never encountered a situation like this, so he had to take a moment for his head to catch up.

“I want to try it.” He answered slowly, biting his lower lip in thought. The idea of losing his virginity to a man, and being the bottom, was something Joseph could’ve never predicted in his life would happen. All his life, he was sure he was straight, and that he’d never be attracted to a man. But, here he was, and he was extremely attracted to Caesar Zeppeli. He also wanted to find out if he was truly into men, which would mean much more than just kissing them and cuddling them. He was knowledgable of the fact that this wasn’t Caesar’s first time, and he knew what he was doing. He was pulled out of his thoughts when a warm hand stroked his cheeks, his eyes reconnecting to the gentle chartreuse ones. No more words were spoken before their lips reconnected, kissing slowly and passionately this time.

Caesar began to roll his hips against Joseph’s, creating some friction that they both desperately craved. The brunette moaned softly into Caesar’s lips, his hands holding the older man’s hips again, encouraging him to keep his movements. Caesar’s hands stroked his chest, his shoulders, his neck. Their lips parted again, and this time Joseph wasn’t too desperate for air.

Sei così bella come questo. ” Caesar whispered to the man below him, kissing his pink cheek a few times, running his fingers through the messy brunette hair. On one hand, Joseph really wanted to know what he said; on the other hand, he loved the sound of Caesar speaking Italian. The blonde moved again, hovering downwards and focusing on taking Joseph’s pants off. The button and zipper were easy, but since they were jeans, it was more challenging to get them off than other pants.

Letting them fall to the floor, he decided to wait a few moments before taking his own pants off. He gazed at Joseph’s needy erection through his boxers as he moved his own limbs to rest between the Englishman’s legs. Joseph seemed a bit nervous, so Caesar wasn’t going to fully expose him just yet. His fingers wrapped around Joseph’s cock through his boxers, jerking him slowly and pressing hot kisses along the side while he did so, green eyes studying the other man’s expressions.

Joseph’s toes curled in excitement and pleasure, feeling his erection throb in Caesar’s grip. It was harder for him to keep eye contact now, being lightly nervous, but he did his best to keep his eyes connected with Caesar’s eyes. He felt a hand slide further and further up his inner thigh before dipping down, finding it’s way between Joseph’s cheeks. Two fingers found his hole, rubbing it gently through his boxers. It was a bit weird of a feeling, but it was okay, and Joseph could feel his nervousness slipping away as the blonde pleased him gently, slowly, letting him warm up to the feeling. There was a small wet circle on Joseph’s boxers where precum leaked from his cock, and Caesar pressed his thumb lightly to the wet spot, rolling it in circles, causing the other man to tilt his head back as he moaned softly, biting his lower lip.

A few moments passed before Caesar stopped and got up off the bed. He removed his own pants before walking to the nightstand, opening the drawer and pulling out a bottle of clear liquid. Joseph realized that it was lube, and he raised his eyebrows at the other man.

“Funny, they didn’t have any of that in any of the drawers in my room.” Joseph mentioned jokingly, knowing that Caesar probably brought it. How Caesar knew to prepare for this event, and when he bought it, was the real question. The Italian only gave him a shrug and a sly smile, getting back on the bed and setting the bottle beside them. His fingers hooked into the waistband of Jojo’s boxers, looking up at the man and asking for approval with his eyes. Once he received a nod, he slid the boxers down Joseph’s legs, having to move his own body to get them completely off due to being in between Joseph’s legs.

Joseph’s face and body were warmer than ever now that Caesar saw him fully naked, who didn’t stare too long in order to not make the younger man uncomfortable. In all honestly, Caesar had never been with a man. He’d gone through the back door with women before, but never men, never had given a blowjob, never had even kissed a man. He took it easy on himself, wrapping his lips around just the head of Joseph’s cock and letting his tongue make circles around it before wiggling the tip of his tongue against the slit, which emitted a nice moan from the other man. He tried to guess what Joseph would like based off of what he personally liked.

Hands reached for him, tangling into his blonde locks, holding onto them and unintentionally giving little tugs to his hair. Caesar would’ve been lying if he said he didn’t like his hair being lightly tugged at, sucking harder. He let his head go a couple inches further down, but that was the extent of how comfortable he was with going down. Again, he’d never blown a man before, so he wasn’t confident on his gag reflex not choking him up and causing Jojo to be concerned. He bobbed his head slowly, sucking and letting his tongue slide along Joseph’s cock as one hand jerked at the amount that he couldn’t get in his mouth, saliva oozing down, slicking up Joseph’s shaft and making it much easier.. Joseph was making plenty of little noises, which were truly music to Caesar’s ears. He was glad that Joseph wasn’t the silent type, so he knew what felt good to him based off of how loud he was.

Suddenly, he pulled his mouth off, causing Joseph to whine softly. He released himself from the other man’s grip as he sat up a little, rolling his eyes fondly at the brunette’s dejected face.

Pazienza , Jojo, patience.” Caesar murmured, reaching for the bottle that lay beside Joseph’s thigh. Unscrewing the cap, he poured some liquid onto two of his fingers as he felt the blue eyes watching him intensely. Settling his body back down and letting Joseph reach for his hair again, he wrapped his clean fingers around Joseph’s erection again. His other hand rested on Joseph’s thigh, two fingers lifted upwards in order to not get lube onto his thigh. He bowed his head back down to suck and twirl his tongue around the head of the Englishman’s cock again. Once Joseph was making his noises again, his hand slid downwards, circling the other man’s entrance carefully with his pointer finger before letting it slide in slowly.

Joseph’s body was a little surprised by the intrusion, but it didn’t feel so awkward when Caesar pleased his erection at the same time. As the finger began pumping it’s way in and out of Joseph’s ass, it searched for the right spot. Secretly, when Caesar had pleased himself, a couple time he’d also used his fingers to find his prostate, and that would be why he knew where to look, but he generally felt like it was too much work to do on himself. It was clear that the finger found what it was looking for when Joseph let out a sudden surprised, but pleased, noise, kind of like a quiet, pleasured wail. Caesar’s mouth left Joseph’s cock again to get some proper amounts of air and focus on his task with his fingers.

Bene , Joseph, look at me.” Caesar demanded softly, Joseph’s eyes meeting his again. As their eyes met, Caesar squeezed the second finger inside of Joseph, watching the other man wince slightly. The blonde whispered words of encouragement, mostly all in Italian. He made sure to hit Joseph’s sweet spot as often as possible, getting all kinds of little noises from him. Caesar’s erection throbbed in his boxers from listening to Joseph’s sweet sounds. He felt like he was losing himself, the sounds that Joseph made drove him insane 

Cazzo, mi stai facendo impazzire. Voglio sentire il tuo orgasmo contro le mia dita e nella mia bocca .” Caesar breathed out, probably the longest statement Joseph had ever heard him utter in Italian. Before he could think too hard about it, Caesar had dipped his head back down, taking Joseph back into his mouth. He sucked hard, bobbing his head with speed as he rapidly hit the other man’s g-spot, causing him to emit louder noises.

“A-Ah, Caesar, fuck, I-“ Joseph whined out before his body jerked and he released himself into the other man’s mouth, hoping that he wouldn’t be upset with him for it. His hands tugged at Caesar’s hair as he came, lightly trembling. His body slowly fell limp as Caesar swallowed all of Joseph’s load before pulling his mouth off again, his fingers also sliding out.

Caesar let his hands glide back and forth on Joseph’s thighs. Although Caesar desperately wanted to have sex with the brunette, part of the reason why he wanted him to orgasm first was so Joseph could make sure that he wanted to do this, and it wasn’t just because he was horny. If Joseph still wanted to have sex after his orgasm, then Caesar would feel a lot better about taking his virginity. Joseph was panting underneath him, but reached for the Italian man after a few moments. Caesar followed his desires, shuffling his body upwards until he was face-to-face with him.

“Caesarino. You are so handsome.” Joseph spoke, his voice sounding the slightest bit hoarse, and his head dazed from his orgasm. Caesar couldn’t help but smile, his eyes closing happily when Joseph’s hands began to touch his face, tracing those purple triangles that he loved. He brought Caesar’s face close, pulling their lips together again and kissing him deeply. He noticed the slight saltiness to the other man’s mouth now, but didn’t particularly mind it.

Caesar used his elbow to rest on the bed and hold himself up over Jojo, the other hand stroking the other man’s torso. They kissed for a while, tongues pushing against one another and searching each other’s mouths again. It really didn’t take any time at all for Joseph to get hard again. Perhaps it was the way Caesar touched him, perhaps it was because he could feel Caesar’s erection against his thigh, perhaps because he knew what was soon to come. When the blonde felt Jojo’s hardness return, he took it as permission to continue.

“Jojo, it will hurt at first.” Caesar informed him as their lips parted, the brunette nodding slowly. He got off the bed again, this time to remove his own boxers. Since he wasn’t as shy towards sex as Joseph was, he didn’t exactly mind being stared at, and he could definitely feel himself being stared at. Climbing back onto the bed, between Joseph’s legs, he reached for the bottle again. He made eye contact with Joseph as he squeezed out some liquid and coated his erection in it, making sure the other man didn’t have any expressions of regret or fear.

As he sat down, he pulled Joseph’s legs to either side of his hips as the other watched him. With one more look to the man’s face, Caesar lined up his cock with Joseph’s entrance, breathing in deeply. As he slowly pushed himself inside, he continued to gaze as Joseph’s face as he flinched in pain again, up until he was all the way in. Joseph’s body clenched so warmly and nicely around his cock, he couldn’t help but moan softly.

“Tell me when you’re okay, Jojo.” He whispered, letting his body adjust to lean over Joseph now, pressing gentle kisses to his collarbones and his neck. It took a little time, but he was patient, and wouldn’t be angry if Joseph, even now, decided to change his mind.

“I’m good.” Joseph answered breathlessly after a few moments, his hands searching for some part of Caesar to grab onto. He settled on the other man’s pale shoulders for now, whimpering out of both slight pain and pleasure when he felt Caesar’s cock slide almost all the way out, then back in. The blonde kept a slow pace at first, waiting for the other man to ask him for more before he went any faster, or pushed any harder. For the time being, he searched for the right angle to push against Joseph’s prostate while he slowly thrust himself inside. He could tell he found it, once again, by Joseph’s loud noises.

“More, Caesar.” Joseph whimpered softly as everything started to feel good, his entire body surging with pleasure. Never, did Joseph think something like this could feel so good. As Caesar quickened his pace, both of them were slowly gaining sweat on their bodies, soft panting and louder moaning filling the room. Caesar’s hand gripped Joseph’s hip, keeping him in place as he increased the power in his thrusts. Joseph was practically crying out in pleasure, calling Caesar’s name.

After Joseph was getting considerably louder, Caesar let go of the younger man’s hip to clasp the same hand over the Englishman’s mouth, shushing him gently and looking him into his eyes as he fucked him hard, his pace remaining fast. Jojo was rocking his hips weakly onto his cock, fueled purely by his desire and the waves of pleasure that coursed through his body.

“Don’t wake them up.” Caesar whispered, despite how badly he wanted to hear Joseph scream out his name. He stayed knowledgable of the fact that there were people sleeping across the hall, people that would be very surprised by what was happening. The sound of Joseph’s muffled cries of pleasure, skin slapping, Caesar’ moans and Italian curses filled the room. Joseph was grabbing at Caesar more desperately, his hands landing on his back, fingernails digging it and leaving lines behind.

Caesar could hear Joseph whining out his name from underneath his hand, and he desperately wanted to take his hand off, listen to Joseph cry out his name in full volume. He shushed Joseph one more time before releasing his hand, movements starting to become sloppy as he was nearing his own orgasm.

“So good, Caes, yeah, I-I’m close.” Joseph whined, trying to be more quiet although it took a lot of self control. Caesar was sweating above him, and he couldn’t if he was as sweaty as he was due to mostly his own sweat, or Caesar’s sweat that had rubbed off on or dripped onto his body. His eyes were trying to roll into the back of his head from pleasure, biting his own lip harshly.

“Joseph, ah.” Caesar moaned, his lips quickly reconnecting with Joseph’s lips and reaching down to pump the other man’s cock with haste moments before his own orgasm, letting his load spill into Joseph’s body. The feeling of warmth filling his insides was enough to have Joseph sent over the edge as well, his calls of Caesar’s name now quieter than they were before, his body trembling. After Joseph’s semen spurted all onto his own chest, some droplets landing on Caesar, the older man’s hand came up to run his fingers through the sweaty brunette hair.

As Caesar pulled out and lay down, he felt that it was too soon to admit any sort of love, too terrifying for either of them. They settled for sweet affection and compliments instead.

“Thank you.” Joseph began awkwardly, looking into the, now tender, green orbs, “I don’t think I could’ve had a better first time”. Although, he felt a little gross now, being sweaty and covered in semen and all. He didn’t feel regretful, even after it happened. He felt that Caesar was the best person to have lost his virginity too, the person who helped him breathe every night for many nights, the person who saved him, who held him when he was scared or sad, the only person who’d seen him at his weakest moments and never used it against him.

“You look stunning right now.” Caesar whispered sensationally, his body now laying beside Joseph, both of them laying on their sides and facing one another. “I feel privileged to be the only man or woman who has seen you like this. Naked, sweaty, messy hair, red cheeks, panting, looking dazed.” Caesar continued, letting some of his true feelings spill in English for the first time. He took Joseph’s hand in his own, kissing the back of it.

It felt like everything was going so fast. Joseph couldn’t help but realize that his first kiss with Caesar was on the same night as him losing his virginity to Caesar. Perhaps it seemed extremely fast to a normal person, but considering the fact that they may have limited days, he felt like he needed to rush, to get as much as he could before it was all gone. Tomorrow was uncertain. The day after was uncertain. But if were to die tomorrow, he was going to die knowing what love felt like, what it felt like to have sex. Even if they lived, even if they grew apart, he wouldn’t regret this night.

After a few moments of staring at one another, touching one another’s hands and giving them tiny kisses, Joseph decided to glance over to the clock: 2:07. He hadn’t realized how late it had become, but even so, he didn’t exactly want to fall asleep covered in his own semen.

“Wanna shower?” Joseph asked, a smile spreading across his lips.

“You know it.”

Chapter Text

Caesar awoke to the sound of the early alarm he had set last night. As his eyelids opened, his memories from the previous night replayed in his head, his green orbs peering around the room and to the man in front of him, arms wrapped around his waist, face buried in his chest. His head dipped down, kissing the top of the the brunette hair, taking in the scent of the other man.

As he slowly separated himself from Joseph’s grip, he decided not to wake him up just yet. Joseph wasn’t as good at handling sleeping for short times, and he was really trying to avoid being the one that had to wake him. He knew he had to soon so they could leave the room before Lisa Lisa and Meshina discovered them, naked and in the same room. 

He collected his clothes one by one, pulling them onto his body tiredly. His mind was full of all sorts of thoughts. He wondered what was in store for them today, if they’d be fighting today. He wondered if Joseph would regret what happened between them. He felt impatient to find out what the day had in store. After he was dressed, he leaned down to Joseph, his fingers sliding through soft brunette hair. 

“Wake up, Jojo. We must leave this room before the others wake.” He spoke as he placed a hand behind Joseph’s shoulder blades, lifting the whiny man into a sitting position. As Joseph attempted to wake up, the blonde collected his clothes, throwing them into Joseph’s lap, realizing that his scarf wasn’t there and was probably in the other room. He quickly walked off to go retrieve it, leaving the Englishman in the room alone.

As he walked away, Joseph found it as a good time to lay back down and snuggle the warm covers for just a bit longer. The bed still smelled of their joined scents, the smell of the love they created. Joseph knew he may never return to this room, and he’d miss the way these blankets smelled. He wondered that if they survived this ordeal, would Caesar still have feelings for him? Or did these feelings only exist due to their fear of death coming towards them, taunting them, haunting them, they never knew when it could grab them up or catch them off guard. Or maybe Caesar would be tired of him after he slept with him. Caesar had a history of manipulating and playing girls, Joseph felt slightly fearful that he could get tossed aside.

Joseph’s body shot back up when he heard the doorknob rattling before the door opened, knowing Caesar would be mad if he saw that he was laying back down. The scarf landed on top of the pile of clothes in his lap, the Italian sitting beside him, giving his back a brief rub.

Sbrigati, Joseph.” Caesar insisted before standing again, walking to the window to peer out of it. As he listened to the sound of Joseph pulling on his clothes, he couldn’t help but feel stressed out, and a bit on edge, more than he has in a while. There was something about today that was making him uneasy, giving a furrow to his eyebrows. Before much longer, he walked to his bag, and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, probably a little old at this point, but a cigarette was a cigarette nonetheless.  

“Didn’t know you smoked.” Joseph spoke up from the bed, observing the other man. 

“Only on occasion.” Caesar replied as he stood back up, the cigarettes shoved into his pocket as he waited for Joseph to finish getting ready so they could head out of the room together. 

Although they headed out together, they went their separate ways for the time being. Caesar walked off into the distance from the building to find a nice place to smoke his cigarette, while Jojo focused on locating some food. By the time that he had managed to find food, a plate, and make his way outside to sit down, Caesar had already finished his cigarette and was standing beside Lisa Lisa and Meshina at the railing, all staring forward and talking lowly.

Joseph kept to himself for a few minutes, messing with the cat that lived there. The cat was incredibly high maintenance and picky, so Joseph decided to pick on it, holding food out of it’s reach up until he could know the cats back legs out from under it, causing it to fall over, hiss, and scamper away. He laughed at first, but then realized that maybe it was mean of him to do that, perhaps it was just him being on edge. It felt like everyone was on edge right now.

“Jojo, what are you doing?” Lisa Lisa asked from where she was standing, “Come here and look”. She turned his head back to where it was previously staring with the other two men, away from their building. 

As he walked over, Lisa Lisa directed him towards a building in the distance, mentioning that it was the building that the stone’s package was originally sent to. It was an abandoned building, and all the windows were boarded up, no sunlight leaking inside. The building was entirely too suspicious. Meshina mumbled something along the lines of it being a perfect place for Kars to be hiding during the day. 

“I’m sure that Kars hides there during the day.” Caesar confirmed, nodding, eyebrows furrowed, eyes slightly squinted. His arms were crossed, he looked tense. “I bet he’s waiting for Wamuu.” He continued, his eyes never leaving the building.

“So, what’s the plan?” Lisa Lisa asked, her eyes glancing between all three men as she awaited an answer. She was unsure, herself, not wanting to give any wrong orders and be the reason for putting anyone in jeopardy.

“That’s easy!” Caesar replied quickly, urgency in his voice, “We should attack now!”. He pointed towards the building as he spoke, his eyes narrowed, glimmering with hatred and determination. Meshina agreed with him, claiming that they have an advantage at this time, but Joseph was a lot less okay with the plan.

“Jojo?” Lisa Lisa questioned, wanting to get everyone’s opinion and not blindly follow through with what Caesar wanted. She felt unsure about this.

“I... I disagree.” Jojo spoke slowly, feeling everyone turn to him, surprised faces staring in his direction. “I think it’s more dangerous with the sun up. Kars has lived thousands of years like this. He won’t have left himself defenseless!” He explained confidently, causing Caesar to look, well, rather angry.

“What?!” Caesar blurted, Joseph speaking up again before the blonde could argue with him.

“Walking into his lair would be suicidal! I won’t go! It would be like a bug walking into a spider’s web.” Joseph argued, staring over at the building. There had to be traps, there was no way that they could know what was in there. He was astonished by Caesar’s behavior, truly not understanding why, at all time, this was the time for Caesar to not act like himself and jump into action.

“Come on.” Caesar dismissed him, looking in Joseph’s direction now, “Jojo, this isn’t like you. Are you scared?”. Caesar was smirking again and Joseph was reminded that the blonde really could be a bastard sometimes. He was taunting him now, just because he couldn’t have his way, or desperately wanted him to be on his side. 

“I’ll take Sun Tzu’s advice here: Only fight when victory is assured. I said I won’t go!” Joseph fought back, staying sure to his opinion. He was sure that Caesar would turn back by now, and think up a smarter plan. Jojo was all for acting recklessly, usually, but as this battle went on, it was becoming more and more dangerous. Although he was fighting Caesar, he really thought that he was looking out for both of their best interests.

He was taken aback when Caesar grabbed him by his scarf, pulling his forward, forcing him to look into his eyes, flaming with anger and desperation. “Are you chickening out?” The blonde accused him, refusing to let down. 

“I’m not chickening out! My head is cool, I’m thinking straight.” He defended, staring into Caesar’s eyes, hoping that Caesar would let it go, and stop being so unreasonable, so furious. “We have to wait for his move!” He insisted, almost pleading, but not quite. He kept his voice strong and determined, showing Caesar that he stood by his opinion.

“You want a sure victory?” Caesar asked, sounding irritated now, “He is alone, we are four! We have the numbers. We have to strike now, before Wamuu arrives”! Their eyes were still looking dead into one another, faces close, Joseph could feel Caesar’s breath on his face. It seemed that he wouldn’t back down, he only got angrier, more determined, more unable to see reason. Joseph was getting worried, there was something wrong. Caesar’s emotions were taking him over.

“Caesar, you’re going in half-cocked!” Joseph continued to argue back, trying to steady his voice now, “Keep your head. Calm down and think”. He hoped maybe if he had less aggression in his voice, Caesar would listen, but the man’s face didn’t change. Both Lisa Lisa and Meshina were staring at them, eyes wide, seeming to also be surprised by Caesar’s actions. “If we walk in there, he’s the one in control!” Joseph continued, about to say more but Caesar was faster to speak, looking crazy with how furious he was.

“I’m not going in half-cocked. I’m going to end this!” He was shouting now, “I’ll finish the fight that killed both of our grandfathers! I’ll destroy Kars”! Jojo now also felt irritated. He never understood why Caesar was so family-driven. Why would he make a deathly reckless decision based off of the past that he wasn’t involved in?

“You’ll finish it? What about our dead grandfathers?! Who cares?! Don’t drag the dead into this, you idiot!” Joseph was shouting back now, offended that Caesar would risk his life over people that he’d never met. Caesar was really willing to leave Joseph behind with the possibility to never return for his dead relatives.

“What did you just say, Jojo?” Caesar bellowed, this time Joseph speaking again before Caesar had time to respond.

“Family you’ve never met doesn’t mean crap! Only a complete moron would die for that!” Joseph claimed angrily, giving up on being reasonable and going to insult Caesar instead, tapping his forefinger on the Italian’s cheek as the man glared daggers into his eyes. 

As Joseph pulled away, Caesar stood there for a moment, looking more furious than Joseph had ever seen. Meshina shouted Caesar’s name, sounding alarmed, perhaps trying to snap the man out of his rage.

“You better watch your mouth, Jojo!” Caesar shouted, fire in his eyes as he pulled his fist back, throwing a sucker punch, effectively hitting Joseph under his jaw and sending him flying back. Joseph didn’t know whether he were more surprised, angry, or sad, but through all his emotions, he’d say it that he didn’t physically feel the punch as much as he should have. He rubbed his jaw, staring at Caesar with anger and betrayal.

“What was that for, you-“ But before Joseph could finish his sentence, Caesar also gave him a kick, which caused Joseph to immediately stand and throw a punch back at Caesar’s face. Before, Joseph could remember thinking that he’d never hit Caesar this hard. He didn’t understand what had gotten into Caesar, or what had gotten into himself. He was hurt, angry, offended by Caesar’s actions and words.

The two exchanged punches directly to one another’s faces, becoming more and more angry with each punch, exchanging insulting words as well as they punched one another.

“Oh, it’s on!”

“What the hell, Caesar?!”

“Shut the hell up, Jojo!”

They could hear both their names being called by Lisa Lisa and Meshina, begging them to stop fighting. Some punches missed, some hit, both of them getting rather bloodied up from it. Joseph’s was angry, yet he could feel his heart breaking by Caesar’s actions. It felt like their last night meant nothing, their last weeks meant nothing. Comforting each other, helping each other, giving one another affection, it all meant nothing. 

Soon, Joseph and Caesar were pulled apart by their coach and Meshina, staring at one another furious, panting.

“Y-You bastard.” Joseph panted, fighting all urges to tear up, to cry. Maybe it didn’t mean as much to Caesar, he still seemed as if his only emotion was anger. Then again, Caesar was Joseph’s first love, the one that took his virginity, but perhaps it was a mistake to sleep with him so soon, to not wait until he found out if Caesar loved him. It always felt like he did, the way he loosened up when he and Jojo were alone, the way Jojo could make him smile, the way he’d always mutter these sweet sounding Italian phrases to him. It was nothing. 

“Have you lost it? You’re acting like a madman!” Jojo claimed, still not giving up his fight with Caesar. He just wanted something, some sort of tenderness for Caesar, anything. He was only anger, his eyes showing no remorse, no sadness. 

“Jojo, I thought you’d understand inheriting a battle like this.” Caesar responded, eyes narrowed, “I was wrong”! Joseph grunted angrily, Caesar’s words cutting him like daggers. How could running in there without thought for his dead relatives mean this much to him? What happened to him? Joseph was starting to suspect that the cigarette he smoked that morning was laced with drugs, for cigarettes were supposed to relax people! He was willing to cling onto anything that meant Caesar didn’t hate him, despise him again, all his progress to make his way to Caesar’s heart being ruined.

“I’m going.” Caesar said at last, turning away from all of them, walking away, leaving all of them behind. Why did he think going alone was okay?

“Caesar, Jojo is right. It’s too dangerous to go in there right now. We don’t know what could be in there. We will wait for Kars.” Lisa Lisa spoke up now, taking Joseph’s side, truly hoping that her words, as his coach, his master, the one he treated like his own mother, would make him listen. Caesar didn’t turn, his hands resting on the railing, staring towards the building, not even glancing in her direction. “That’s an order, Caesar. Protecting the stone is our first priority.” She finished, seeing as Caesar didn’t seem convinced, didn’t seem moved, even when everyone was against him. She knew why, she also knew that Caesar knew that she was well versed with his past. She hoped that he would listen, she knew him, she knew him better than most did, and she knew that this was unwise. He was acting out based on his feelings. Ever since he began getting attached to Jojo, she watched his emotions gradually lose more and more control. It used to be in a good way, a way that made him happy, but she knew it would come down to this. The moment that Joseph said something about Caesar’s dedication to his dead family, the Italian was destined to lose his mind.

“I’m sorry, Master, I can’t obey.” Caesar replied, continuing to refuse to look at her. “You know this is a blood issue. This is a Zeppeli problem. I can’t leave it unsettled now that I know where Kars is. I can’t sit back and wait for him to come.” He continued, this time glancing in her direction, not looking to anyone else, not even Jojo, who lacked understanding of what he meant. He then hurled himself over the railing, landing onto the ground below. Joseph’s face was angry, but his heart was also concerned. Even after Caesar being unreasonable, fighting him both with words and physically, he still worried. Caesar was one man determined to fight a god all by himself.

Meshina was instructed to follow, to stop him from entering by force if he had to. Joseph didn’t think that Meshina could stop Caesar from his determination to kill himself.

“C-Caesar, why? Why are you so grim all of a sudden? Why can’t you wait a while?” Joseph asked out loud, although to himself, watching as Caesar was walking away. 

“Jojo, you’ve touched on a piece of Caesar’s hidden past. You didn’t mean it, but your words hit him in a place where he’s most sensitive.” Lisa Lisa explained, looking to Joseph now.

“His hidden past?” Joseph asked, now feeling awful. All this time, he thought Caesar was being completely cold, senseless, angry, hateful, but really, it may not have gone as far as it did if Joseph had known more about him. Joseph realized that through all the things he talked about with Caesar, none of it had to do with the man’s past. They never talked about it, and therefore, he hadn’t known what not to say, what to be careful about. 

He looked over the place where Caesar was walking, now no longer in Joseph’s sight. He wondered if Caesar was hurting, if he felt like Joseph didn’t care, didn’t respect the way he felt. Joseph’s heart was aching. He knew one thing though. Caesar needed him. This was the time that Caesar was falling, and Joseph had to get there in time to catch him.

He had to follow him.