It is his uncontested victory. His adopted brother and nemesis and professed other half has his head neatly sliced off. His death is immediate and painless and he closes his eyes with a grace more telling of a temporary lull.
In the floors above, the first-class passengers continue to dine and dance. The water from his holding container has all but spilled out and still, he cannot move.
Wang Chan gloats in his stead, cackling madly before attempting to crush the head.
"Wang Chan," he reprimands, and his voice does not sound like his voice, "What did I just tell you?"
His zombie looks sullen.
"That this trash," the Chinaman spits, "Deserves my utmost respect. Even though he couldn't put up any sort of fight against Lord Dio!"
"Have you not seen the state I'm in?" Dio snaps, "Would you not call this having put up a fight?"
Wang Chan cowers. Eventually, he stammers out: "Forgive me, Lord Dio. I was in the wrong."
Before he can punish the other for insubordination, who else but Erina Pendleton would come to interrupt the scene?
"Ah," Dio corrects himself, swinging out of the cannister on vines of blood, "But it's Mrs. Erina Joestar now, isn't it?"
Jonathan's wife takes one look at her husband's corpse, at the clear gulf between head and shoulders, and gives a little cry. She does not, contrary to Dio's expectations, faint. Nor does she pay him any attention at all.
"Jonathan!" she gasps, running over to the man. The blood creeps up the white frills on the hem of her gown. It begins to drip down her breast too as she picks up the head of her husband and cradles it to her chest.
"Lord Dio -- "
Jonathan's choice in woman had always intrigued him somewhat. He drops down from the lower deck's ceiling and lines his own neck up with Jonathan's. The fitting is so perfect, it's practically orgasmic. But of course they would fit together like the two halves they were.
So enamoured is he with his new body -- perfectly suited to him in every way! -- that he almost misses the woman's next words.
Still holding the head of her husband, Erina rises to her feet.
"You..." she addresses, "You did this."
Jonathan Joestar is dead. And with his death, he, Dio, has been granted his perfect gorgeous immortal body.
"Yes," he says, "Yes, I did."
Here at least, Wang Chan knows his place. He retreats to the shadows to give the newly-made in-laws their peace.
Dio expects her to cry. To accuse him of evil. Perhaps even promise that he would receive justice in the end.
But the gaze she fixes him with is a fighting one.
Even though her attack comes as a surprise, she is still a woman who has never brawled in her life. With her husband's body, Dio catches her by the neck, lifting her up with one hand, and laughs. What starts out as a chuckle becomes a shoulder-shaking cacophany.
"Oh," he sneers, "How lucky Jojo is. To have such a devoted wife!"
She kicks her feet and struggles helplessly and he sees how she continues to clutch onto the head.
"For all his faults," Dio continues, "He does have good taste in women." If she weren't on the brink of suffocation, he has no doubt she would have slapped him again. Right as her neck is about to snap under the weight of her body -- right as her own grip is about to loosen -- Dio sets her down with uncharacteristic gentleness, stepping forward to fully support her while she shuddered to catch her breath.
Meeting the woman like this on her honeymoon gives him the most wondrous idea.
"Mrs. Erina Joestar," he begins anew, towering over Jonathan's wife and flashing her one of his usual smirks, "Despite these circumstances, I am still a gentleman. I am not above pity."
Smart woman that she is, she catches the nuance of his tone.
"What..." her chest is heaving, her shoulders are shaking, but her gaze does not waver, "...do you want, Dio?"
"Only the opportunity to be a good brother-in-law," he sweetly replies. His roaming fingers press against her bloodied collarbone and he licks the patch of skin clean. Jonathan's blood is so very sweet. And now it is running through his veins! Is it any surprise that he is willing to grant her a favour, what with his current state of euphoria?
"But Lord Dio...!"
"Quiet Wang Chan." He turns to the woman and cradles the back of her neck as Jonathan might have done. "Well?" he asks, "The rest of your life, in exchange for the lives on this ship."
Jonathan marries a good woman. A smart and faithful one, who genuinely loves him as he loves her, but because she is good, she is slow and stupid and predictable in the end. To value the life of her fellow insects more than her own... well, it is why Dio is at the pinnacle of human evolution.
Erina Joestar does not struggle when he lowers both of them into the pre-prepared casket. He, in turn, keeps his hands to himself and allows her to bring her husband's head.
It was never about her. This, they are fully aware of.
"Stop struggling," he says to her, "Wife."
"I promised no such thing," she says, thrashing all the harder.
He uses his thrall to freeze her with a glance, drinking in her mixture of revulsion and fear. What a woman, he thinks, for her husband has been dead for three days and she has yet to shed a tear!
He tells her so as he's ripping the remnants of her dress away.
"Tell me," he says, as he's forcing her legs open, "Did Jojo make love to you with the lights on?"
She cannot speak, so he fills in the silence himself.
"He was always such a prude, that foolish brother of mine. It's a wonder he got married at all!" He kisses her face, her jaw, her collarbone, mouthing at one nipple and flicking at the other. People are open books; their bodies are all the same.
"My dear sister-in-law!" he admonishes when Jonathan's fingers delve into her cunt, "You have not been married a week and already, you're this wet for another man?"
He adjusts their positions in the cramped coffin so that her thighs straddled his neck and she only begins to cry when he starts to lap away.
"Yes," he praises, as he relaxes the thrall slighly so he can hear her moans of pleasure, "Close your eyes and pretend. Mrs. Joestar... oh, but he would not call you that," he lowers his head and swirls his tongue, greedily licking circles. She clenches about his tongue, making him suspect Jonathan had done this before, and this only adds fuel to the fire.
Stroking her breasts and tracing the dip from hips to waist as the sounds of saliva and slick fill the tight space. The woman's cries and moans become softer -- sweeter -- when he further stretches his jaw so that his nose was pressed fully against her clit, so that the tip of his tongue could scrape against the start of her womb.
He can taste it, he swears, despite having never tasted it before. Jonathan's seed is inside her. He makes her scream -- this daughter of a doctor and his brother's wife -- and laughs when she tries to hit him. He slides up against her and presses their bodies together, the husband's fully-clothed form against the wife's naked one.
"Don't cry, wife," he says, "It must be a common enough practice amongst the savages he studied. For a bachelor to marry his brother's widow."
And then he frowns. He is certain Jonathan would have gotten hard from the act. Might have come, even.
When they set foot on English land, she double-crosses him three times in one day. First, she runs away with Jonathan's head. Second, she goes to Speedwagon. And third, the meddling bastard helps Jonathan's wife find refuge with the teacher of Jonathan's teacher.
Tonpetty's realm is so infused with the Ripple, Dio cannot even step foot in it. And so it is that both Jonathan and his wife remain out of his reach, tucked away in the remote regions of the Asian continent.
He knows the bitch is pregnant with his brother's child. Can even pinpoint when it'll be born. But he cannot reach it, no matter how much resistance to the damn oriental magic he tries to build up. At times he swears that Jonathan's body is the greatest problem. The join line has yet to heal and it's already been half a year.
On a whim, he returns to the site of the Joestar manor, intent on running it into his brother's head -- what Dio could reach, at least -- that he, Dio, had won and this was unquestionably his body.
It is his uncontested victory.
And the body is his. All his. There is no trace of Jonathan and it is just how he wants it.
Following that logic, the sudden springing forth of a sentiment similar to nostalgia when he sees the ruins of the Joestar mansion... well, those sentiments must be his own. And he had reason to feel attachment to the place, he reasons. He had lived eight years in the manor after all, and at one point had been intent on inheriting it (along with Jonathan's other deeds and titles).
He walks alone under the countryside moon, tracing the steps of a lost childhood. This is the tree Jojo had lounged in; this is the brook Jojo had waded in; this is the bridge Jojo had run across; here is the meadow Jojo had boxed in.
Despite the destruction of the manor, the cemetary and stables have suffered little damage. But because it's been a year since the fire, both places have fallen into disrepair. After an open-and-shutting of the stable entrance, he finds himself stopping before the newest tombstone.
George Joestar, the inscription reads, 1830-1888. There is a Latin proverb underneath, chosen by Jonathan no doubt, and Dio brushes his fingers against the markings.
When he digs the grave for the empty coffin, it is his choice. This, he will insist. When his fingers tremble whilst carving his brother's name, the trembling is his own. And when his brother's nails are caked with mud and blood (but he is finally laid to rest), in reality, it is his hands that have been dirtied and it is his want that allows Jonathan to have a grave.
When he sets the tombstone in-place, he thinks it will be the end of things.
(He is wrong. He does not know what he wants.)
In the ten years it takes to rebuild the mansion, Erina and the child continue their stay in exile.
The layout is simple enough to reconstruct, especially as the construction plans were saved in the Lloyds' archives. But the details... the devil is in the details and the demon will not shut up.
Was this the pattern on the pillows? Did the parlor have three sofas or four? Would Jonathan have read these books (were they even translated when he was studying?) and so on and so forth. The image of the manor is still so vivid in his mind, but the clarity is exclusive to points and he wants the whole thing.
Come midnight and he realizes while walking up the newly carpeted steps: no, no that can't be right. The grand staircase had a great red carpet, not a green one.
The contractor is one of his zombies, though the builders are normal men. They think of him as an eccentric noble, gravely meticulous and reclusive to the extreme. He keeps from drinking their blood, at least.
It takes fifteen years to reconstruct the Joestar manor from memory. But when it is done, it is just as he remembers. The checkerboard floor, the statue of the goddess of love, even the chandeliers are exactly where they used to be!
And the rooms. He will be the only one living here, he has already decided. He starts off in the room that used to be his own before switching to the master's bedroom. He was the master of the manor now, as without a worldly care as the late Lord George Joestar himself!
In the master bedroom, he tosses and turns two days away and ends up tracking blood into Jonathan's room where he collapses against the bed. Thinking of that idiot archaeologist crying in an identical bed -- over missing supper, over the loss of Erina's first kiss, over the death of his stupid mutt -- is what allows Dio to drift to sleep. He sleeps with a smile.
When he wakes the next evening, he fully tours Jonathan's room. It is just as he remembered it and he remembers it as well as his own. The curtains, the wardrobe, the great flurry of sheets and the glass bedside table. There is an empty space above the headboard however. Jonathan had kept a picture of his mother there, he knows.
He sets out to London that night, crossing the distance in a handful of hours. Wang Chan is prepared for him and within minutes he is satiated yet again. Except not really. Not at all, even.
It takes him a week to find a photograph of the wretched woman. Mary Joestar née such-and-such. He rips it out from her family archive and flits back to the manor, neatly cutting her portrait out and inserting it in the space on the headboard.
There, he thinks, resting his head on crossed arms just as Jonathan used to do. Perfect.
In between bringing choice government officials over to his side and amassing an ever-larger fortune, he becomes a collector of all things Jonathan.
This is the rugby trophy he won; this is the library desk he sat at; here are the books he referenced for his thesis; this is the thesis itself.
With the same meticulousness he had made use of in the reconstruction of the Joestar manor, he goes about snuffing out all traces of his brother's existence. George Joestar's room becomes a shrine of sorts in honor of his son. Dio could have destroyed these relics. Was even tempted to at times.
But just as Jonathan's life and body are his, it naturally follows that everything which used to be Jonathan's is now his. And why should he not take good care of his own property? Jonathan's body especially, despite the stinging of the wound on his neck, is truly the pinnacle and he treats it accordingly.
Dio first meets his almost-nephew four years before the first shots of the Great War are fired. It had been a good idea to keep tabs on that meddling hatter from the slums; he struck it rich on the American continent and had discovered enough oil to create his own business. The dinner party is to announce the opening of the Speedwagon Foundation, a nonprofit organization branching off of the parent company. For reasons he does not know, Jonathan's widow had been coaxed out of the Orient and she was now seated to the left of the podium.
Tucked away in the shadows and fitted into a suit purchased from blood money, Dio is not given the opportunity to gloat over the visible signs of age.
Never even considers it because of the young man seated by the widow's side. There's a palpable spark when their eyes meet and Dio needs to force a bland smile before tearing his gaze away.
The damned Joestar mark is burning.
He slips away and scratches at the mark until his nails claw through the fabric. When the sensation finally takes its leave, the top half of his suit is in tatters and his whole body is wracked with tremors.
Jonathan is -- no, Jonathan's body is --
"Shut up," he snarls, digging his fingers into his chest and leaning against the wall to steady himself.
Jonathan is dead. His body is Dio's.
Because he is so intent on regaining control, he does not notice the presence of another until a hand is pressed against his shoulder.
He whirls around, fangs bared and claws outstretched, and comes face-to-face with the never-longer-a-boy himself.
"Are you alright?" George Joestar asks. He sounds nothing like his father. He looks nothing like his father. And still, the resemblance is uncanny and Dio feels his own skin sizzling.
The nausea, at least, has stopped. In fact, it seems as if Jonathan's body has frozen up altogether.
"Perfectly fine," Dio murmurs, though he allows himself to be helped up. The lack of difference in height unnerves him for he's become used to looking down.
He does not offer an explanation and George does not ask for one. George is quick to remove his offending hand and takes a step back.
"Do you," the young man clears his throat, "Do you know Mr. Speedwagon?"
"No," Dio replies, "But my brother does. I am here on his behalf."
They shake hands and Dio leaves a fake name. George returns to the festivities and Dio returns to the Joestar manor.
He does, however, instruct Wang Chan to follow George back and relay to him the man's address.
The following evening, Dio steals into the London townhouse Speedwagon had rented for mother and son. As soon as Jonathan's fingers are pressed against George's bared neck, a tingle he's only felt once courses through his own body. Jonathan's son is nothing like him and yet --
Even his carotid artery feels the same.
George is like his father in this respect: he regards Dio with curiosity and wariness, but neither lust nor awe.
Dio places him under his thrall as soon as he's finished sampling the man's blood.
Unlike his mother, George does not struggle. Has no reason to, really. Dio cradles his neck before propping him up, red eyes gleaming in spite of the new moon.
How would Jonathan proceed?
"Quiet," he hushes, seating himself on the edge of the bed, "You don't want to wake your mother."
Yes. Jonathan would say that. Jonathan would be gentle.
He pulls off George's nightshirt and spreads the young man's legs, peppering his neck with kisses.
George tilts his head, moaning, and Dio digs his fingers into the other man's mouth to stifle him.
Gentle. Affectionate. Complimentary.
Yes, that's how Jonathan would go about this. So Dio follows through, slowly easing the other man open. George has clearly never done this before. He loosens up somewhat after climaxing the first time, breaths hitched over an extraordinarily common female name. Dio chuckles and kisses him, murmuring nonsensical encouragements, before extracting his finger to properly gag the other man.
The long-delayed reunion comes with George curled in a crouch, upper body resting entirely on his forearms. Dio is above and on both sides of him, left leg bent at the knee and right foot pressed against the floor. Jonathan's hands are wrapped about his son's waist, clutched close past the point of bruising. And Jonathan himself is buried deep, as deep as humanly possible and then some.
Dio leans forward to hem and haw at George's Joestar. He reaches underneath, unsurprised to find him soft still.
"Think of your dear girl," Dio urges, slipping one hand between George's trembling foreams to toy with his nipples. With his other hand, he thumbs at the still-wet foreskin. Though George's cries are muffled by the gag, he bucks his hips towards the touch.
"Good boy," Dio praises, shifting his own hips closer. "Just a little more..."
Once George has been aroused a second time, Dio retracts his hands and pulls back. He digs his fingers into the other man's hips a second time and begins to thrust.
Jonathan would be slow. Jonathan would be measured.
Dio manages to maintain a Jonathan-like pace, up until the point George comes.
Would Jonathan lose himself in a fuck? Maybe if the sex was good enough.
He loves the taste of Jojo, smeared against the insides of his son. Jojo would clean his boy up, Dio is certain of it. And between the body and the man -- for he has already decided he will make George immortal as soon as he carries on the Joestar line -- why, it's almost as if Jonathan is alive!
When he reads of George's death in the papers, he knows the blame rests with him. He should have told Wang Chan to relay to his zombies that the boy-turned-man was not to be touched. But now he is dead and like Jonathan, guilty of leaving wife and child behind.
Irrationally, he blames the woman. It is her fault Jojo's son was not strong. It is her fault that even though he grew up until the care of Tonpetty, he was still unable to learn the Ripple. If she had not kept him away from England -- from him, Dio -- for all those years, the boy could have had a father in his life.
Jonathan's grandson is his spitting image at least. For a moment, Dio entertains the notion of kidnapping this child and raising it as his own.
But Jonathan's wife has staked her claim on this descendent as well and really, he does not want Jonathan's son or grandson, he wants Jonathan.
Erina will be distracted by the loss of son and daughter-in-law. If nothing else, the care of a second infant will keep her busy.
And so, Dio sets out to find his brother's hidden-away head.