It was two weeks after he had consigned a man to an unwilling eternity, that Giorno first started to Dream.
One moment he would be sleeping, either flat out unconscious or with his mind hallucinating ideals that didn't-couldn't-wouldn't make sense, and the next he would be There.
A corona of gold shone around him, the only noise he could hear not even his own heartbeat, but the whispers of countless things that never-were, would never-be.
He was completely aware of himself while in the Dream, to an unnatural degree, so much so that he was silently thankful that he forgot about it whenever he awoke. He was aware of every cell, every conscious and unconscious thought. In the early stages, he had suspected that he could change them, could alter them however he wished, but he refrained. He did not want to see what would happen to him upon awakening.
He knew that this place had something to do with Requiem, because when he had seen Gold Experience after being struck by the arrow, when he had seen the unblinking eyes staring at him with boundless knowledge and shadows in equal measure, he had gotten the exact same sensation down his spine that he got whenever in the Dream. Requiem was right over his shoulder, never appearing, merely observing.
It had been a year in, when he came across the only other person in the Dream.
He looked over at the man who seemed to be completely ignorant of his presence, something Giorno knew to be a facade because he felt deep inside his bones that this man knew everything that went on in the Dream.
"Are you God?" He asked bluntly, and the man had choked on his own laughter, an oddly human reaction for a decidedly non-human being. (There's a hysterical note to it that Giorno doesn't like one bit.)
"I knew that was coming but even still- and in Italian-" he said, voice not speaking a specific language but the message got across anyway, and when he raised his head Giorno could see the hesitation and regret present in his eyes. It was for his own benefit. "No, I am not."
Giorno gestured to the Dream. "Why am I here?" He asked, words barely leaving his lips before the other had responded.
"You know why." The tone was cold, and his face closed off into something more inhuman, something that matched the grace-beauty-horror of this place. "Actually," he continued, gaze never leaving Giorno's, and the colour of green-blue was reflected against his own eyes. "I have some advice for you."
He watches, silently, as his friends work around dynamics that he never knew well enough to understand. He watches as Mista and Fugo try to cope with being the only two survivors of a long-standing family, as Trish adapts to stands, the mafia, everything.
The arrow is cold in his grip, and no matter how long he holds the metal, it never heats. He watches as everyone around him tries to manage in what they have found their lives to be.
There's the whisper of "I know you won't listen, but-" in his ears as he realises that yes, the man in the Dream was absolutely correct in knowing what Giorno would do, no matter how indignant he might have felt at the time.
Three years after Giorno Giovanna ascended to the position of Don of an entire criminal nation, (a position he was not ready for, no matter how many times he told himself he was both before and after achieving it,) he plunges the arrow into his flesh, the word "sorry" lingering on his lips, but it never makes it out because everything is enveloped in shining gold.
(Shining gold that claws and claws at him until he is reduced back to nothing.)
Bruno Buccellati knows that there is something off about the newest member to his team. Something disingenuine.
There was just something about how the young blond teen seemed to take everything in stride, how he was never surprised at any developments, how willing he was to just rapidly switch between leading and following, between passive and assertive when it came to everything happening with escorting the Boss's daughter.
Something was off about the way he stood, eyes filled with some dark knowledge as he stood to the sidelines, forgettable yet influencing.
Bruno Buccellati didn't have much time to think about this enigma of a person, however, as only two days later he was lying right next to Abbacchio, dying quickly, soon to join the other man who had already bled out.
The last thing he ever saw was Giorno Giovanna looking down on him with impassive eyes, an arrowhead gripped tightly in his hand. He plunged it into his heart and if Bruno had the energy he would have shouted, asked just what the hell Giorno thought he was doing, but everything crumbled and then nothing had happened.
"What is this place?"
The man's shoulders shake slightly, nothing showing on his face. "This place?" He asks, gesturing to the endless expanse of shining golden light and eldritch whispers. "This place is a hell of my own making. I come here for silence."
As he says that, the whispers of non-existence seem to grow louder, almost qualifying as barely audible rather than just a hallucination, and Giorno raises a brow.
The man shrugs, not repentant or sheepish in the slightest. The movement is too smooth, and it would set Giorno on edge if literally everything about this place didn't already do that for him, if he hadn't been coming here for a year already. "You get used to it," he says.
There's a silence, and Giorno has no clue how long it drags on for in the place-where-time-doesn't-matter, but the other man breaks it.
"You have the Arrow, correct?" He asks.
Everyone lived this time, Giorno thinks to himself. He didn't need to use Requiem, Diavolo had been killed and Polnareff hadn't even been turned into a turtle. Things were good.
"Capo," a voice from behind him calls, and he turns to see a member of the team under him, Sheila E., still thankful and adamant about working for him after he killed Illuso, "Don wants to see you."
He blinked. He still wasn't used to that, even after all these months. Everyone was alive, the whole group had survived, and by extension, he hadn't been the one to take up the seat of Don after Diavolo had been killed, but rather, Bruno had.
He caught himself eyeing the position every now and then, but that was merely down to how unused he was to not being in the highest seat of power in his organisation- 'No,' he thought, 'Not mine. Passione is not mine.'
He nodded in response to Sheila, turning on his heel and walking past her towards where hi- where Buccellati's office was located. It would be good to interact with him more, as they had both been caught up in their duties recently.
This is the best ending, he thought to himself, telling himself that he wouldn't have to use the arrow anymore, which was still an ever-present sensation in the back of his mind, even when it was stored away on the other side of the Passione's main base.
It was about a year later, when he realised that he had grown so far apart from Buccellati's group, from Mista, Fugo, Narancia, hell, even Abbacchio, and they were never close in the first place.
He plunged the arrow deep into his chest, to start all over again.
(It was something he didn't need requiem to fix, he could do that all by himself but- maybe there was an even better path.
Giorno nodded in response. He realised that the question wasn't actually fishing for information, the man already knew. "Yes, I have the arrow." He paused. "Are you after it?" He asked warily. He wouldn't be able to fight the man off should he really wish to pursue the arrow, even if this place didn't reek of Requiem shenanigans, he had already been coming here for a year. He was vunerable.
The man laughed yet again, and this time it was far more obvious that it was a sad, broken thing. "God no," the man breathed, head tilted up to look at where a sky would be if this place had any. He gestured at Giorno vaguely before speaking. "I think I realise that now. I made a mistake, and honestly?" He looked over to Giorno, eyes glowing with a burning intensity that sprung from within.
"I never want to see that fucking arrow. Never again. Never ever-"
Giorno stood next to Risotto as he stared passively down at the brain matter splattered across the ground interspersed with needles. All of it had previously been in Diavolo's head. It wasn't now.
'I think I might have killing this bastard down to an art,' Giorno thought wryly to himself as Risotto, -his Capo this time around, he had been experimenting on what happens if he never joins Buccellati's gang- glanced towards him, and Gold Experience hanging over his shoulder like a ghost.
"You never mentioned you could do that." The taller man spoke.
"Damage reflection? I suppose I had forgotten."
Risotto just kept staring at him, and Giorno figured that his eerie black and red eyes would be more intimidating if he didn't have literal years more of experience.
Something shifted under his skin, and he realised that maybe he didn't do all too well of a job on proving his loyalty to La Squadra.
The arrow is in his hands before he even has to think about it, and then it has sunken into his skin and he doesn't have to worry as Requiem surrounds him like a blanket and the danger never happened-
Giorno watches from the eyes of a ten year old child as the governments of the world buckle and crumble under the might of a father that he never knew in his first life, one that was equal parts caring and insane.
He believes that Dio Brando was likely abused by his parents as a child, as the man shows an odd degree of care towards his scions, something that contrasted heavily with the sadistic, self-absorbed, downright cruel personality that the man had. It was easier to believe that he was kind to his children as a challenge, fueled by spite, rather than because of any actual love.
This timeline, this go around, this experiment, was a failure. He didn't know why he had kept it around so long, long enough for him to actually turn double digits, especially since he was barely a toddler when he first reset.
A slight frown tugs at his lips as he looks to the side, towards his friends- (There's barely any care left. Before he wouldn't have been able to bear seeing them like this, but now he's just in it for the variation) -towards the fanatically loyal stand users father had given him as a gift. Bruno's gang, still maintaining most of their previous personalities even with all the brainwashing but- deferential to him to an unnatural degree. Even Abbacchio.
He twirls the arrow between his fingertips before he plunges it deep into his chest, ignoring the cries of panic from the broken, brainwashed people surrounding his throne fit for a child.
He embraces the Dream as it comes and washes everything away, back to zero.
He runs drugs, he travels the world, he joins the Speedwagon foundation with his extended Joestar family. He lives and loves (but never really, not anymore) and hates and kills. He joins every side, follows through with every possibility, and in the end it's always reset, back to zero.
In the end, everything goes back to gold, and he learns to move more smoothly, how to waste less of his actions, how to smile and lie and laugh as he betrays and destroys and lifts up and creates.
He sides with his father. He sides with his father's enemies. He sides with Diavolo, and then with Bruno. He ventures to Morioh in the summer of 1999 and destroys it, ruins it, revitalises it, forever changes it.
His power only grows, as everything stops.
(Arrow, Arrow, Arrow-)
Giorno is resting in the dream. He is perfectly aware of everything around him, to an unnatural degree, but that hasn't bothered him in far far too long.
Someone enters the dream.
He wonders what he's going to do from now on.
"Are you God?" His own voice asks from behind him, and Giorno can't help it, he laughs and laughs and laughs.