He was your knight in shining armor. He had come to take you away from your boring life and ride you off into the sunset. Those had been your first thoughts when his horse trotted by your house that day. From the porch, you could just make out his features: a young, slender boy, about your age, a stern and determined look on his face. Without another thought, you ran out onto the path to greet him and his beautiful stallion. And that was the beginning.
His name was Johnny Joestar and his father owned the several farms around your family’s quiet little estate. You two had always been neighbors, but you hadn’t even met until that day, and Johnny was extremely eager to have a friend his age. He began to ride by almost everyday. You would help him tie up his horse in your stable, feed it, brush it, and conversed with him all the while. Eventually, it just slipped out of your mouth.
“I want to ride a horse,”
“Well then,” Johnny beamed, “I’ll teach you how!”
First he would let you sit behind him on the saddle, making sure you hugged his waist tightly so as not to fall. He showed you how to grip the reins, how to speed to a gallop and slow to a trot. Then he ventured into more trivial lessons as the two of you rode along: he would name different breeds of horses, all the famous races. But, finally, you convinced him to let you take control.
You were about seven years old when you first gripped the reins for yourself, admittedly quite an early age to be starting. However, Johnny had still started two years before you, and you knew you would never be a match for him. He still sat just behind you whenever you rode, giving small tips and pointers every mile. According to him, you were actually quite the natural jockey.
If it weren’t for Johnny, you probably would have never learned just how much you loved to ride. It was something about the wind as it whipped through your hair, your heart lurching up and down with each gallop… His arms wrapped firmly around your waist. Each time you mounted the saddle you remembered his fond touch, his breath in your ear as he whispered encouragement. That was why you rode. That was why you were going to race.
You didn’t know if you’d even get anything out of the Steel Ball Run Race. You weren’t as good as Johnny Joestar, no one was as good as Johnny Joestar. When you had left for England, he was the most promising young jockey in all of America, save possibly Diego Brando. And last you had heard of him, he had won the Kentucky Derby when he was only sixteen years old.
But after that, there was no word. Your letters back and forth were lost to time, news of his accomplishments rarely reached British ears. Three years passed, during which you lived quietly in your English mansion, training to be the proper found lady your parents desired you to be… And then came the first word from the racing world you had heard in months: The Steel Ball Run.
You trotted through the campgrounds as dust and rank air assaulted your senses. You didn't quite know whether he even had time to participate in such an event. But you couldn't give up your hope of reuniting. After you registered, you had the entire morning before the race to prepare yourself. You stalled your mare and began to explore the grounds, recognising one or two famous jockeys, several amateurs you had beaten long ago… But no Johnny.
Suddenly, a harsh yell, an enraged whinny, a crash of wood and crunching bones. Yet the crowd paid no heed to the earsplitting cries splitting through the air. Each rider was fully invested in his own business, and cared not for his own opponents.
You gritted your teeth in disgust and you pushed your way through the mass of people and up to the pen where the commotion was. Then, you gasped. A man lay on the ground, clutching desperately to the stirrups of the saddle as the stallion dragged him through the dirt. He grunted and flailed his arms as he desperately climbed up the leather straps, only to slip again to the ground. He was beaten and bloody, a wooden shard piercing through his leg. You pace quickened as you approached the gate, appalled that no one else dared to help him.
“No!” Your entire body froze at his words, your hand resting on the latch of the gate. “I will kill myself if you try and stop me!” His head whipped around to glare at you, menacingly. But you paused. You recognised those eyes: that pale and innocent blue, that subtle wrath hidden underneath the mirror of his striking iris… You had found him. You had found Johnny.
Your mind emptied itself of all over thoughts as you found yourself swinging the gate ajar, running into the fray. His frail figure at first screamed in protest, however he fell silent as you ripped him away from the flailing hooves. Your arms wrapped your arms around his waist as your buried your sobbing face into his shoulder. You heard a soft whisper.
It had just been a simple meeting, an exchange of pleasantries before he ordered you to depart. You were terrified for an instant: Your body trembled and you watched from afar as he tried to mount the vexed beast. But he commanded you to leave, to prepare for the race. Afterwards you would meet up. If he made it.
You couldn't see him from the starting line, but you caught sight of him right before the finish. It was your desperation and not your skill that propelled you to sixth place, right behind Johnny. But the crowd swallowed him, and you, in a shower of reporters and photographers, before you could even catch his eye. You would meet him at the inn, that was what you had resolved. Your heart fluttered at the thought: The man who taught you how to ride. The man who taught you how to love...
You approached the innkeeper and reserved your room before wandering through the boisterous rabble. It was then that you spotted him, sitting alone in a dim corner, away from the din of the crowd. You hurriedly pushed through the swarm of sweaty bodies, hesitating only once you had emerged from the mass. His eyes met yours, and his lips curled upwards in a mischievous grin, but there was sincerity behind his playfulness, there had always been. A tear slipped down your cheek as you caught the glinting of metal wheels attached to his chair. You cupped your mouth as a choked sob shook your chest. But he beckoned you forwards, and you leaned down into his delicate embrace as you cried into his shoulder.
It reminded you of the day you had parted. It had been almost six years ago. He had flashed that same mischievous smile, as if he were reassuring you that it wasn't the end. He stroked your hair as he whispered kind words in your ear. You told him how much you hated leaving, how much you wanted to stay in the states, how much you would miss him. He had pulled you back by your shoulders to stare into your eyes. He gently brushed a tear from your cheek. Suddenly, his face had reddened. He leaned down, placing his lips delicately upon yours. You let out a slight gasp, before uttering through your sobs:
“Please don't go.”
He only shed a single tear when he was recounting to you what had happened over the past several years. His hands wrapped around yours, yet he still stared off into the distance, avoiding eye contact. His voice was gentle and comforting, unlike his usual biting and sarcastic tone; but that was how he had always been. He reserved his kind words for you alone, raising his voice only when he was angered by something or someone else.
“I can't believe it,” He finished at the end of his tale. He finally stared into your eyes, his palm coming to rest on your cheek. “You’ve changed so much, (y/n). You’re beautiful,” Your heart quickened as your face flushed. Maybe his feelings had changed since then, but it seemed you still thought of him the same way.
“Johnny…” You were at a loss for words, but you needn't say anything as a group of rowdy and drunken men approached your solitary table.
“Oh, look, it’s the cripple! The one who’s beast can run better than he can even walk!”
“Probably only finished the race cause he’s got such a monster of a horse,” the teasing, taunting, and offhand insults continued, and you gritted your teeth, grabbing his clenched fist.
“Let’s go, Johnny.” You stood and made to walk away.
“Aww, come on beautiful. I bet anyone of us could please you better than he could–” You interrupted him by digging your heel into his toe, and he cried out in pain. You tugged Johnny’s arm, indicating that it was time to leave. But then, you paused. How? How could he leave? You can’t storm out of a room in indignation if you can’t walk... You noticed his pained expression as he glared down at the rough wooden floor. Taking a deep, shuddering breath, you grabbed the handles of his rusty chair, wheeling him forcefully through the crowd of cackling idiots.
“Where’s your room?” You hissed through your teeth as you finally cleared the crazed masses.
“214,” His hands fidgeted in his lap and he bit his lip. 214? Was he on the second floor? Your eyes began to water, and you began to realise just how much of a blow this injury had dealt to him. But he noticed your dismay. “It’s alright, all the other rooms were full. I just need,” He hesitated, his face beginning to flush, not with his general sweet bashfulness, but with shame. You kneeled down so you could speak to him on his level, hoping that would help to comfort him. “I need someone to carry me up,” You nodded resolutely.
“Where does the chair go?” His eyes flashed at your sudden commitment, but he led you to the closet where he stored his wheelchair, gasping when you cupped your arms under his legs. Your cheeks heated just a bit as you pulled him, bridal style, to your chest. You insisted that he wasn't too heavy as you hauled him up the stairs. You felt his breath graze against your cheek as you slowly carried him to room 214. He turned the key in the lock, you two pushed open the door, and you lay him down on the hotel bed. You sat beside him, catching your breath for just a moment.
It was strange: You didn't feel anything. You weren't angry at the men who had taunted you, you weren't sad because of Johnny’s feeble condition. You were almost content with his situation, with your situation, and you wanted to make the most of it.
“(Y/n)” He caught your attention as his fingers curled around yours. Gently, gingerly, he brought your hand to his lips. You let out a soft giggle, remembering the silly games you used to play when you were children, where he was the knight and you were the princess. You had long grown out of the princess phase since then, but still the soft kiss stirred up feelings of nostalgia for when you and Johnny were happy together.
He smirked, and lowered your palm to his chest. Your body shivered at the gesture, and you could feel his steady heartbeat through the fabric of his shirt. The rise and fall of his chest calmed you, in a way, as you gathered your courage and drew your hand to cup his face. His heart rate quickened at the touch.
“Johnny, I know a lot of things have changed since we last saw each other,” Your eyes wandered as you spoke, though you tried not to focus your gaze on his soft lips. “But I think I still feel the same way about you. I thought about you every day and–” You cut yourself off as he began to push himself up with his arms. You wanted to force him back down, to make him rest, but could only stare at him in awe. He couldn't both sit up and stroke your cheek, so he tenderly pressed his forehead to yours.
“These past few months, I’ve felt so lost,” Your skin tingled as you felt his warm breath on your cheeks. “But, now that I’ve found you again… Please,” He hesitated for a moment.
Then, slowly, he closed the gap with his lips, returning once again that sensation you remembered so fondly. A solitary tear fell from his eyelashes, but you paid no mind as you caressed his cheek, drawing his lips nearer. They were just as soft and as warm as they had been all those years ago, but his kiss had grown more rough, more passionate.
He finally pulled away.
“Don’t go.” Your hand slipped into his velvety golden hair as you massaged the back of his neck.
“Don’t worry, Johnny. I’ll never leave you again.” You gently leaned in, pressing him back down onto the bed so he could relax his arms. As his head hit the pillow, his hand snaked its way onto your waist and he looked up at you with desire. Your lips caught his for a second time, his fingers coiling behind your neck so he could drive you closer to him. Your own palms rested on his chest to support yourself, and you could feel his pulse quickening, his breaths becoming shallow. He tilted his head to intensify the kiss, sucking delicately yet desperately at your slightly parted lips. His fingers traversed the side of your torso, tickling your waist as you gasped in a shallow breath. You couldn’t help but smile in his tender embrace: There were no tears this time. No fear. There was only the present moment, only you and him.
You awoke to the soft steady rumble of his chest against your ear. You smiled sleepily as your legs intertwined under the thick blankets. His arm still wrapped around your waist, his other hand resting in your hair as if to shield you from the outside world, to keep you all to himself. Slowly, you craned your neck up, placing a soft kiss on his cheek.
“I’ll never leave.”