december 21st, 2018 - England
It was snowing — it had been raining, when they first landed, but it was full-on snowing now and Tomoko thanked god for salted streets and no ill kids in her back-seat. The Joestar mansion loomed in the distance; great and imposing in some foreign, archaic sense.
“Oh, you’re kidding me.”
Pulled back into the present moment, Tomoko snorted at the profanity.
Shinobu, her girlfriend of almost a year, was curled up in a blanket in the passenger seat — she was currently gawking out through the front window, clearly as overwhelmed as Tomoko felt.
“I know,” Tomoko said.
In the backseat of her rental car, Hayato was sitting up upright. Tomoko would not go as far as to say he was waking up, because he’d been oddly quiet for a sleeping Hayato (kid had nightmares. Tomoko’s kid had nightmares too. That’s just how the kids in Morioh were, apparently. Tomoko wasn’t going to think too hard on it) — he was definitely only now showing interest in the adult conversation, blinking into focus and peering in-between the seats.
“Wow,” he said. “That’s a big house.”
“Bet,” Tomoko agreed. The Joestar mansion sure was a mansion.
“Jesus, Tom.” Shinobu whistled. “Start charging Joseph some alimony, stat.”
Tomoko laughed — Josuke had had the same reaction when he learned how rich his father was — shook her head.
“He’s going to pay for Josuke’s education,” she said. “That’s enough. I don’t need my son to grow up into a — “
She paused, searching for the right word. Shinobu delivered.
“A Joseph Joestar?”
“Right,” Tomoko snorted — reached out with one hand to squeeze her girlfriend’s knee, and then quickly returned it to the wheel, because, safety first.
Hayato made a slightly uncomfortable face, slinked back into the backseat. Nothing like the exaggerated whine Josuke would make any time Tomoko even though of showing any affection.
Speaking of her bratty kid,
“Hope it’s still standing when we leave,” Tomoko commented. “The house, I mean. Josuke goes wild around staircases.”
Shinobu laughed. “Maybe his cousin balances him out?”
“Jolyne? No way,” Tomoko grinned. “I love that kid, but, no way.”
“Minus and minus do make a plus,” Hayato supplied. It’d been the closest thing he came to making a joke since the start of a trip.
“Oh, kid.” Tomoko winked at him in the rearview mirror. “I’d high-five you if I weren't driving.”
His face flushed a little.
“Please keep us alive.”
She laughed again, returned her gaze to the road.
This was to be Tomoko’s first time participating in a Joestar reunion — a yearly event, happening every winter, because that was when the old estate in the south of England looked most-scenic, apparently (looking at it now, Tomoko thought, they had a point. It was like a goddamn Hallmark movie).
Josuke had been already, a year before. Jotaro Kujo took him, because Tomoko trusted that man to know Tomoko would have his head if anything happened to her son — he was busy with work this year, though, and while she still allowed Josuke to visit his uncle for a few days before the reunion, she was wary of letting him spend a whole week with people Tomoko was yet to personally meet. Not even out of concern — she knew Erina Pendleton-Joestar to be an absolute sweetheart, as was Holly Kujo — it was just that. Her son could be a lot.
“I’m not making these poor women worry over taking care of another woman’s son, when that son is my son,” she’d told Shinobu, some months back.
Shinobu glanced over her shoulder, pulled Tomoko closer under the covers. “Sure.”
“Don’t ‘sure’ me,” Tomoko had grinned into the small of Shinobu’s neck. “Josuke would get away with too much around non-suspecting kind-hearted women.”
“And,” Shinobu had been laughing. “I am not a non-suspecting, kind-hearted woman?”
“You are a woman,” Tomoko had said.
Shinobu had elbowed her.
The fact she’d get to see England was, maybe, a tiny part of why she decided to accompany him.
“Okay,” Shinobu sat up straighter, started fixing her hair in the overhead mirror. “Quiz me on the family members.”
Tomoko rolled her eyes, snorted. “Sure.” Shinobu’s version of quizzing was really just listening to her talk. Tomoko being there was a mere formality.
“Jonathan and Erina own the house,” Shinobu started, fussing with her bangs. “Jonathan then has two brothers — Jotaro and Joseph.”
“So far so good,” Tomoko said.
Shinobu gave up on her hair, reached for her cosmetics bag. “Jotaro is the youngest, and has a teenage daughter.”
“Jolyne,” Hayato, who took on his mother’s penchant for almost obsessive tab-keeping, supplied.
“Jolyne, right.” Shinobu pulled out a tube of mascara, started applying some (Tomoko made sure to drive steadily). “They live in Florida — Josuke just spent his weekend there, and they should both be flying in later today.”
“Won’t it be awkward we’re there first?” Hayato asked.
“Oh, definitely,” Tomoko nodded. “That’s the holiday cheer.”
Shinobu snorted. “Joseph is the middle brother, and sixteen years ago had the absolute honour of making acquaintance with one Tomoko Higashikata.”
“We made a little more than an acquaintance,” Tomoko muttered — Shinobu swatted at her.
“He has no kids, but is bringing a friend?”
“I think Caesar is a little more than a friend,” Tomoko said. “Hell, I heard about Caesar sixteen years ago.”
“Do you think they’ll come out on New Years?”
“Oh, that’d be sweet.”
“What’s coming out?” Hayato asks.
“Your mother is a lesbian, Hayato,” Tomoko said. “Try playing this trick on someone who’s not dating her.”
Hayato snickered into his hand.
“But, yeah, I think they’re actually official.” They were fifteen minutes away from the mansion now, tops. Tomoko’s hands started sweating. “We can always get Hayato to ask for us.”
Shinobu nodded. Hayato rolled his eyes.
“Okay, uh, other people — Johnny?”
“Johnny is — someone’s cousin, twice removed.” Tomoko frowned. “I get kind of lost here. And that — that other Josuke?”
“Other Josuke?” Hayato joined her in the confusion corner.
“Yeah, there’s another Josuke,” Tomoko nodded. “He’s also a cousin, but I don’t think from the same branch as Johnny — also Japanese.”
“Isn’t Johnny short for Jonathan?” Shinobu asked.
“Wow,” Shinobu laughed. “This family is really economic with their names.”
Tomoko joined in. “Making sure they can inherit those blankets with woven initials.”
“Oh, shoot, good point.”
Hayato was on his phone again. Tomoko guessed he didn’t appreciate their old-women humour.
“Okay, so, you are bringing me,” Shinobu batted her eyelashes. Started counting off her fingers. “And Jonathan’s wife will be there, and Joseph is bringing his Italian maybe-boyfriend — Josuke is bringing Koichi,”
“I think Jolyne has a friend coming too,” Tomoko nodded.
“A friend?” Shinobu asked. “Or — “
Tomoko waggled her eyebrows.
Hayato looked up from his phone. “Will I be asking that too?”
Shinobu stuck her tongue at him. “Okay — who else has a plus one?”
“Oh, right.” Shinobu nodded to herself. “Another Italian?”
“Think he’s actually related to Joseph’s Italian.”
“Shit — shoot,”
Hayato gave them a tired look. “I know what ‘shit’ means, mom.”
They both faux-gasped. He rolled his eyes again.
“Okay, so, two Italians, one Schrodinger’s date, your kid’s boyfriend, your ex’s boyfriend, one lovely British woman, six people with the same nickname — anyone I’m forgetting?”
“Oh,” Tomoko took in a deep breath. “Oh, baby, you’re missing the best bit.”
Johnny, who due to unfortunate circumstances was as smitten as his cousin had accused him of being,cracked a small smile back.
Gyro nodded at the busy phone screen in Johnny’s hands. “What’chu into?”
“Up to,” Johnny muttered, locked the screen.
“It’s, ‘what are you up to’ — “he shrugged it off. “Just shooting the shit with Jolyne and Joseph, you know how it is.”
Gyro got that little furrow in his brow, like he always got when filing away new information. “I remember ‘whatchu into’.”
He kept saying ‘whatchu’ like it was a single word unit. Johnny would sooner die than correct him. “Yeah, but it means something different.”
Johnny squinted at him. There was always, with these instances, a fair chance Gyro knew perfectly well what a word meant and just wanted to see Johnny stumble over an explanation (there was also a small chance he really didn’t — it was a tricky rope to balance). “...Nothing.”
Gyro glanced over at him, quizzical. Maybe he really didn’t know this one.
“Ohh,” his face lit up in realization. “It’s a sex thing.”
“It’s — not specifically,” Johnny knew he was red now. Gyro was grinning. “It can be — stop laughing at me.”
“Naww,” Gyro’s grin only grew. God. He really did make a conscious decision to put that thing in his mouth. Johnny really made a conscious decision to continue dating him. “Sex is nothing to be embarrassed over.”
“It’s — it means what you’re interested in.”
“In a sex way?”
“Doesn’t need to be in a sex way!”
Gyro laughed. Johnny flipped him off, picked his phone back up.
“Ha,” he added. “If Shinobu doesn’t run after this conversation, she never will.”
Gyro frowned. “Shinobu?”
His frown deepened.
Johnny bit back a snort. “Josuke’s mother.”
Johnny snorted this time. “You don't know who Josuke is either, do you?”
Gyro gave him a serious look.
Johnny batted his lashes.
“Your family is so large!” Gyro sighed, eyes focused on the road again. “No man can be expected to keep up with it. I bet you do not even keep up with it.”
He was kind of right. “Bet. I actually have a cheat-sheet.”
“Oh, that’s smart!” Gyro’s face lit up. “Give me your cheat sheet.”
“Nah, don’t actually have one.”
“Hm,” Gyro sucked on his teeth. “Better make one, then.”
Johnny side-eyed him.
Gyro’s turn to bat his eye-lashes.
“There is a notebook in my backpack.”
“I have pens too.”
“I am not making you a cheat sheet of my family.”
Gyro hmph-ed. “You need it too.”
“I do not,” Johnny insisted. “They don’t know how we’re related either. It’s fine.”
“It’s not!” Gyro threw his hand back. “The family — “
“Don’t give me that ‘family is sacred’ bullshit,” Johnny cut him off. “There’s a reason neither of us is spending the holidays with our actual parents.”
Gyro shrugged. “Ah, well.”
Johnny rolled his eyes.
“But mine is in Italy, so I have excuses.”
“Sure you do.”
“Yours is crap, so you have excuses too.”
Johnny grinned into his shoulder. “Yeah.”
Gyro caught his eyes in the overhead mirror. Winked.
Johnny was fucked.
“But really,” Gyro said. “Cheat sheet.”
“You should get Italian naming conventions,” Gyro went on. “Much easier.”
“How is that easier?” Johnny gave up and reached for Gyro’s backpack, currently nestled between his feet. “You have, like, a bazillion names each.”
“That’s what nicknames are for!” Gyro just beamed. “And then names tell you who is whose.”
“Yes!” Gyro nodded. “See, I’m named Julius, because my grandmother was named Julia.” He flipped his middle finger up at the sky before them. “May she rest in peace.”
Johnny nodded along. “Think she’s in Heaven?”
“Good point.” He lowered his finger towards the ground. “Ah, who am I to say — Caesar, now, he’s Caesar because our grandfather was called Caesar.”
Johnny wasn’t even pretending to follow. “That explains nothing.”
“How does it not!” Gyro eyed him. “Caesar is eldest son in his family, I was second eldest.”
“But you’re Caesar too.”
“Well, yes, there are exceptions.”
Gyro joined in, with his weird laugh. “Better than seven Jojos!”
“We are not Jojos.”
“You are,” Gyro insisted. “You are Jojos, and there is seven of you.”
“Not one of us actually goes by Jojo,” Johnny rolled his eyes. “Well, Jonathan does. And Joseph, if Caesar or Speedwagon call him that — Jolyne, but only to Joseph — don’t laugh at me.”
“I am not laughing,” Gyro said, awfully confidently for someone who’d been making the ‘nyoh-ho-ho’ sound just a moment ago. “You used to go by Jojo too.”
Johnny felt his stomach sink. “Yeah. Used.”
Gyro caught onto the mood — made a face, tapped the wheel.
“Well!” he said, louder than necessary. “You also have two Jonathans!”
Johnny cocked an eyebrow.
“Jonathan sounds better than Caesar — “
“Not when you say it.”
“And — wait, — “
That laugh again. Johnny felt his face burn.
“I don’t even say it,” he spluttered. “Gyro!”
Gyro just kept laughing.
“Gross,” Johnny pretended to glare out of window. “I can’t believe I’m bringing you home to my family.”
“You say such sweet words.”
“Hey, sarcasm is my thing,” Johnny swatted an arm at his boyfriend blindly. Was met with another nasal laugh as he missed. “Oh my god. I can’t believe I’m willingly introducing you to Joseph and Jolyne.”
“Me neither! Thought it’d never happen.” Gyro reached over, patted his cheek (Johnny brushed him away, flushed again). “But even if you didn’t, Caesar would, because —” he paused. “No, Caesar is also ashamed of his boyfriend.”
Johnny made a face. “I am not ashamed — “
“Just teasin’,” Gyro tapped his cheek again. “Don’t drown in a glass of water.”
“Okay,” Johnny said. Another one of his favourite games to play — was this a thing that made sense in Italian, or a thing that made sense to Gyro alone. The mystery was really what kept the fire going. “To be fair, you didn’t introduce me to your father either.”
“Oh, but I would.” Gyro beamed again. “I’d take you to Italy, and show you to the world.”
“Right,” Johnny tried to roll his eyes, but couldn’t keep from smiling.
“Bring you to my mama, say, this is the closest you’ll get to a bride — “
“I know you were looking forward to gifting your old wedding gown to my future wife but don’t worry, it would be false advertising anyways — “
“Stop talking about sex, oh my god — “
“But look at how blushing he is, that is basically a virgin — “
Johnny buried his face in his hands, almost disgusted with how happy he felt.
the same day, Brisbane, Australia
Abbacchio’s hair was frizzy from the cold. Bruno fought the urge to smooth it out; knew his boyfriend felt uncomfortable being affectionate in crowded places.
“Jesus,” the boyfriend in question muttered, for the umpteenth time this morning — Bruno tilted his head, hummed in interest. “It’s so fucking early.”
It was almost ten in the morning. But Leone had never been a morning person.
“You can sleep on the plane,” Bruno told him instead. Snuck a hand inside his coat pocket, intertwined their fingers.
Leone squeezed back. “If there isn’t a screaming child.”
“Why do you think there’ll be a screaming child on-board?”
“Because the universe hates me.”
Bruno rolled his eyes, smiled. “You have earplugs.”
Leone just grunted. Bruno decided to let him be moody in peace
He dug his phone out instead, flipped it open. The boys, it seemed, had been busy blowing his inbox up — laughing quietly, he clicked on the messenger notification.
“Stop that,” Bruno leaned into his side slightly.
Leone slid an arm around his waist. “No.”
Bruno accepted that answer.
day of the event (december 22nd) ; England
“When’s the new kid coming?” Joseph asks what everyone is thinking. He has his elbows on the dining table, and is looking up, like a puppy.
Johnny is in front of the PS4; he is still to turn it on, though, and is squinting at Jonathan’s reflection in its dark surface. Josuke and Jolyne are on the sofa, not even trying to hide their staring. Gyro and Caesar, who were arguing in the pantry, go completely quiet. The absence of loud Italian is jarring.
Jonathan meets Joseph’s eyes, stammers. His ears go red. It’s adorable.
Erina decides to intervene.
“Later today,” she takes the plates from Jonathan’s hands — he’d been unloading the dishwasher — motions for Joseph to take over.
Joseph does, with minimal protest. Always a bad sign. “And how many people is he bringing, again?”
Erina adds some bite to her smile. “Six.”
“Huh,” Joseph glances back at the rest of the currently present family. “That’s a lot of friends.”
Jolyne snorts. “Jealous?”
Joseph sticks his tongue out.
“That means he must be very nice,” Erina swats a kitchen mop at Joseph.
“Why does he get a plus six?” Josuke asks, pouting a little. “I didn’t get a plus six.”
Jonathan smiles, apologetic.
“What would you even do with a plus six?” Jolyne asks.
Josuke shrugs. “Bring Okuyasu?”
“Who’s Okuyasu?” Johnny asks.
“His best friend?” Jolyne swings a leg at him. “God, keep up.”
“Wow, wasn’t my spine through enough.” Erina will never get over how deadpan Johnny manages to sound. “And wasn’t that Koichi?”
“No, that’s his boyfriend,” Jolyne slumps against Josuke’s side — Josuke’s blushing. “I’m the only one that loves you, Higashikata.”
Josuke just makes a sound.
“You’re the only one trying to get invited to Japan,” Johnny retorts.
Jolyne shrugs. “Can’t a girl multitask?”
Johnny just throws her a controller.
Erina rolls her eyes, goes back to making sure everything is okay in the pantry. It is; Caesar and Gyro have gone back to their bickering, which they insist is just how Italians talk (and really, with how her own family interacts, who is she to disbelieve them) — she helps them put away the excessive amount of food their grandmother had sent, ushers them back to the living room.
She finds Jonathan hiding in the library.
“Hey,” she whispers; he looks up from the books he’s pretending to browse, squatted down at the library floor, and smiles in relief.
She smiles back, walks over. He straightens up a little.
He looks like he considers lying, briefly, but then changes his mind. “Terrified.”
She always appreciated his honesty. Leans down, kisses his head.
“It’ll go great,” she says.
“I mean,” she snorts. “Joseph will make fun of Josuke’s hair at least once, Johnny will run over his toes at least twice, they’ll start a snowball fight at one point that will probably require some stitches but Gyro is a doctor so maybe we won’t need an ambulance —”
Jonathan is laughing.
“And Giorno will fit right in,” she adds. “With all his...friends.”
She’s a little weirded out by that arrangement too.
Jonathan makes a face.
“He isn’t even the only new person this year,” she adds. “I mean, it’s Koichi’s first time staying for the holidays!”
“Everyone’s met Koichi,” Jonathan points out.
“Okay,” Erina agrees. “Tomoko’s new girlfriend?”
Jonathan muses on it.
Erina pokes his nose. “And she’s bring her son.”
“Okay,” Jonathan relents. “But Giorno is bringing six people.”
Erina shrugs. “The more the merrier.”
“He called them his security network.”
Erina bites down on her lip.
“Well,” she says. “Your son is being very vague about his living situation, and we just need to deal with that.”
That shuts him up.
“But,” for a bit. “What if he…”
He trails off.
Erina cocks an eyebrow. “What if he…”
Jonathan is blushing.
Ah. “What if he doesn’t like you?”
“He’s flying in on a month’s notice,” she reminds him. “I’m sure he’ll at least give you a shot.”
“So,” Mista is saying. “Battleplan.”
To Bruno’s right, Abbacchio is rolling his eyes. Bruno just readjusts the speaker volume, to ensure uninterrupted correspondence (lowers the volume on Narancia’s and Trish’s end, too, for the same reason).
“Roll,” Narancia shrieks. As if on cue.
“Jesus,” Mista swears. Can be heard fiddling with his phone (Abbacchio rolls his eyes again). “Okay, so.”
It feels a little bit like they’re on a mission again — Bruno and Abbacchio, in a rental car, paging in the rest of their team — there’s even that same old anxiety, the feeling of adrenaline-fueled dread. It feels like they’ve never retired.
But you did, Bruno reminds himself. He’s no longer in the mob. Abbacchio, Narancia, neither in the mob. Mista and Fugo still technically are, in the mob, but Bruno hears the pizza place they used as a cover got so popular they mostly just do that now.
Giorno still owns Naples, though. Giorno, who’s only sixteen.
Giorno, who got contacted by the Speedwagon foundation barely a month ago, and told a previously unknown man thinks he might be his father.
Bruno knows, from the extremely detailed retelling he requested from each individual member, that the foundation asked for some DNA. That Giorno refused to give it, because he’s smart. That the foundation then sent a blood sample themselves.
Unless they somehow generated the blood sample — and Bruno is not yet ready to outrule that possibility — Jonathan Joestar really is Giorno’s father.
He invited Giorno over to England for the holidays. And Giorno asked his old team to come with him.
And so here they were. Driving from Heathrow, in a rental Honda Odyssey, over to Gatwick where they’re picking Trish and Narancia up — they’re then going over to Luton, for Giorno, Fugo and Mista — and then;
“It’s three hours of driving to the mansion,” Mista is saying. “Don’t be, like, terrible, but also don’t try to be nice because he’ll notice and be weirded out, and also — “
“A sense of normalcy,” Trish says. “We got you.”
“Yeah,” Mista goes on. “Uh — is it too late to ask you to wait to meet up until we arrive?”
A collective groan.
“I just think — “
Abbacchio leans in really close to the phone (Bruno rolls his eyes).
“I’ll throw myself into the surrounding traffic,” he announces.
“Well,” Mista is unphased. “That does solve the ‘four person reception party’ problem.”
Abbacchio rests his forehead against the dashboard.
“But!” Mista goes on. “We should arrive to the mansion by eight — we let him go in first but like, Abbacchio close behind, so they know we come armed and ready to fight.”
Abbacchio is still facehugging the dashboard. “Am I your guard dog?”
The answer is unanimous. “Yeah.” “Yeah?” “Uh, yeah.”
Abbacchio looks a little pleased.
“We have rooms rented in a hotel an hour away — if they’re weird, we can bounce.”
“We also have the minivan!” Narancia says.
“I’m not sleeping in a minivan,” Trish says.
Abbacchio grunts, “Seconded.”
Bruno sort of agrees. “We won’t have to sleep in a minivan — also, remember that there is a great chance Stands are genetic, and therefore many of the persons present at the mansion might be stand users.”
“Gotcha,” Narancia says. Adds, “I’ve always wanted to bomb a Victorian mansion.”
“Oh,” Trish is laughing. “If Fugo could hear you right now…”
“Don’t bomb the mansion,” Abbacchio yawns. He got no sleep on the plane. “Giovanna might still inherit it.”
Giorno is sixteen, and running Naples, and has been through more than enough misfortune in his life.
One wrong move from Joestar, whoever that is — Bruno is ready to unzip the house down to its base.
The other Josuke arrives with a taxi, and no bags, and one plastic bag full of rocks.
Tomoko lets him in with minimal commentary — from what Johnny has seen, of her son and his boyfriend, she might be used to weird — and he politely nods at her before moving towards the kitchen.
“What,” she says, once he’s out of the earshot.
Johnny, who decided he liked Josuke’s mum some few hours ago, shrugs. “He’s just like that.”
“Alright,” Tomoko nods. “He’s not bringing anyone?”
“Don’t think so,” Johnny shrugs. “He has this friend — girlfriend? — but he never responds to any messages, so.”
“Huh,” Tomoko doesn’t look like the answer cleared anything up for her. Johnny supposes it didn’t. “Okay.”
Gyro walks in, then, and Tomoko’s eyes trail between them before she mumbles a half-assed excuse and leaves the room too.
She high-fives Gyro on her way out. Johnny belches.
“I,” Gyro announces. “Like your family.”
Johnny is still scandalized.
“Oh my god,” Jolyne slides the stairs then, dressed in a top at least a size too small and Jonathan’s old jacket, at least three sizes too big for her. “Why does Johnny act like he’s from the nineteenth century, or something.”
“Vintage,” Gyro says.
Jolyne laughs. “Joekid, I love your boyfriend.”
Johnny knows he’s red. “Keep him, then.”
“Nah,” Jolyne leans against the banister. “I’m gay.”
A beat. That was the first time she’d said that.
“Cool,” Johnny finally says.
Gyro, his better half, holds his hand out for a high-five. Jolyne eyes it for a second, then slaps their palms together.
“Is this how you plan on coming out to the rest of the family too?” Johnny asks.
Jolyne shrugs. “Well, went well here.”
“Ah,” Gyro nods. “Johnny, we are her bunnies.”
“No — pigs? Guinea pigs?” Gyro frowns. “She is testing her methods.”
Jolyne nods, smacks her mouth. “I’m a real scientist over here, guys.”
“Taking after your father,” Johny jabs.
Jolyne cocks an eyebrow. “What, think he’s gay too?”
Before Johnny can say something Jotaro Kujo would give him a stern look over at the next reunion, doors open again, and Jonathan comes in — he nods at the three people in the living room, beams.
“See you’re all up,” he has a bag tucked under each arm, some snow in his hair. “Slept well?”
“Yeah,” they all say, and then Jolyne adds. “I was just telling them I’m a lesbian.”
Jonathan pauses at that. “Oh!”
“Well,” he says. “Glad to hear that — “
“Will you hug?” Gyro asks.
“No,” Jolyne says, the same time as Jonathan asks, “Do you want a hug?”
That gives her pause. “Maybe?”
Jonathan puts the bags down.
“Oh my god,” Gyro looks overjoyed.
Sighing, Johnny rolls out of the way.
Jolyne looks ridiculously small in Jonathan’s arms. Johnny coos — she flips him off. Gyro is tearing up.
Josuke wanders back into the living room.
“Oh,” he says. “A moment?”
“A group-hug,” Jolyne sniffs (sniffs?), steps back. “Come ‘ere.”
“Should we join in?” Gyro theatre-whispers at Johnny.
“No,” Johnny says.
“Yes,” Jonathan says.
“No,” Johnny repeats.
“Okay,” Gyro is already walking over.
“Oh, Joestar, you have daddy issues too,” Jolyne fixes him with a glare, over Josuke’s shoulder. “Cut the crap and come join us.”
“Jonathan’s arms are cheaper than therapy,” she adds.
She has a point. “Fuck you, I’m on Better Help.”
“Wow, are you sponsored too?”
They all kind of crowd around him. Johnny lets it happen.
Jolyne had a point, he has to admit. Jonathan’s hugs are oddly therapeutic.
They manage to collect all their old teammates without a hitch. Narancia and Trish both look like they just woke up in the dawn of a club kids party, with hair messed up and eyes bleary and glitter all over both their faces.
“Arts and crafts,” Trish explains (Abbacchio hums). “Plus, it looks neat.”
She applies some of it to Bruno’s face while they wait — now his cheekbones catch light every time he moves and Abbacchio is so tempted to ditch Giovanna and turn this into a romantic weekend in whatever crappy motel they can find.
The final three members show up before he can start talking Bruno into it - Mista’s hat is a colourful garish holiday thing, and Fugo has a knit sweater under his hole-y suit jacket. Giorno looks a little tired, but still as prim as ever - Narancia hug-tackles them and Trish joins in, and then Bruno walks over and Abbacchio just watches.
Fugo is the one to approach him. “Looking festive.”
Abbacchio scowls. “You’re not dead yet.”
Fugo shrugs. “Missed you too.”
They’re in the van now — Bruno driving with Abbacchio shotgun, Giorno and Trish behind them, Mista and Narancia and Fugo squeezed in the back.
“You know,” Giorno speaks up. “Mista thinks you hate me because I remind you of yourself.”
Abbacchio startles. Refuses to look up from his nails.
“Hate implies an emotional investment,” is what he says.
Giorno just continues smiling.
“What,” Abbacchio exhales, bites down the words he really wants to say, because Bruno is within earshot and he looks sad when Abbacchio curses at Giovanna. “We are not alike.”
“Sure we are,” Giorno says smoothly. He is holding his thermos bottle like a fucking aristocrat would a teacup. His nails are painted a shimmery pink. “To start with, we were both born in April.”
“That doesn’t mean shit,” Abbacchio snaps.
“Bullshit,” Fugo calls.
“I saw you following costarastrology on instagram,” Mista cooes.
“I’ll break your fucking phone,” Abbacchio doesn’t specify who he’s talking to.
“Secondly,” Giorno goes on. “We both joined corrupt organisations in hopes of improving them from the inside.”
“We’ll get flagged by the FBI for this,” Fugo mutters.
“For what? Calling the police corrupt?” Trish snorts, “And not for being in the mafia?”
Fugo puts a finger to his lips. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Do we really think FBI would mind?” Narancia asks.
“Maybe now,” Mista says. “You know, because Giorno fucked with the narcotics sales.”
“Jesus,” Trish says. “Someone should Giorno the FBI.”
Bruno startles. “What the what?”
“You know,” Narancia reaches out to tap his shoulder, unbothered by the fact Bruno is driving. “Infiltrate it to make it — “
“I got that,” Bruno wheezes. “And no,”
Giorno is laughing to himself.
Abbacchio glares at him in the rearview mirror.
“But if Abbacchio did it too,” Trish starts.
Abbacchio seethes. “I did not.”
She ignores him too. “Why is it pull a Giorno — oh.” She nods. “Because Giorno actually succeeded. Right.”
“I wasn’t trying to improve the police,” Abbacchio mutters.
Trish is the only one listening. “Oh, you went in for the bribes?”
“I didn’t — “ he’s getting worked up again. He realizes she’s just teasing. “Didn’t think it would be like that.”
Bruno is looking at him, one eyebrow raised in question.
Abbacchio shakes his head reassuringly.
“I knew what I was getting into,” Giorno says.
Abbacchio rolls his eyes.
“Did you now,” Bruno says.
Giorno considers it. “Well. The piss was a surprise.”
Bruno frowns in obvious confusion. “The what?”
Abbacchio meets Giorno’s eyes in the rearview mirror again. Tries to look threatening.
Giorno bats his eyelashes.
Bruno catches on. “The what, Giorno?”
“Giorno — Leone?”
“That’s the gold experience, boss.”
“Anyways,” Narancia screeches. “Giorno the FBI or Abbacchio trying.”
Bruno looks stressed out. “No!”
“Relax,” Abbacchio squeezes his knee. “They are joking.”
Bruno looks constipated. “You sound awfully certain.”
“To get them off our backs because they tried to infiltrate the FBI,” Leone rolls his eyes. “Wish we were that lucky.”
Mista kicks the back of his seat. Narancia cooes a, “Love you too, Abba!”
Abbacchio refuses to smile.
He missed these dickheads so badly.
“But yeah,” Mista starts again. “Guess Giorno is like, the anti-Abbacchio?”
“Always thought Abbacchio was more against Giorno,” Narancia muses.
“Oh my god,” Fugo groans.
“No, but really.” Mista goes on. “Abbacchio was corrupted by the organisation he incorrectly thought righteous. Giorno like, saw a corrupt organisation, decided to fix it.”
Abbacchio has had enough of reminiscing.
“Well,” Giorno says.
“Oh my god,” Fugo says. “Here he goes.”
“The society as a whole was corrupted,” this kid fucking starts. “I just felt a real difference could be made through the mafia.”
“I can’t believe Giorno is actually more cynical than Abba,” Fugo says.
Mista wags his finger. “That’s a microagression against goths.”
“I’ll microagress your - “
“Jesus,” Trish rolls her eyes. Turns to Giorno. “Do they ever stop?”
Giorno is watching them with a fond smile. “At least they stopped arguing over the shape of the earth,” he says.
Abbacchio scowls at the two teenagers in the backseat.
Bruno seems to be on his page. “What?”
Narancia is beaming. “Tell me Fugo is the flat-earther.”
“What the fuck - “ Fugo redirects the glare. ‘Why would I be — I went to college!”
Mista hums. “And yet learned no critical thought.”
“Oh my god, you dumbass, the earth isn’t flat — “
“When I say argue,” Giorno confesses. “I mean, Fugo yelled at Mista.”
“I’m sure Mista is guiltless here,” Bruno chuckles.
“But, like,” there’s a twinkle in Narancia’s eye. “The Earth is flat.”
Fugo looks pained.
Abbacchio presses both palms against his eyes, and laughs over the sound of teenagers screaming.
“Nothing,” he says.
“‘Nothing’,” she mocks. Leans into Shinobu’s side conspiratorially. “That means he’s talking to Koichi.”
Josuke knows he’s red. “Mom!”
“When it’s Okuyasu, he says it’s bro stuff.”
“When it’s Joseph, he pretends he doesn’t know what a phone is.”
Shinobu coos. “Oh, he’s being a big protector!”
His mum is rolling her eyes. “He’s being a big something.”
“I’m so underappreciated,” Josuke tells no one in particular.
Jonathan, from across the kitchen, chuckles. His sleeves are rolled up above his elbows, and there is flour on his nose. The other Josuke has a significantly larger amount of flour on his person, and is carefully cutting out different shapes from the cookie dough.
“How’s Koichi doing?” Jonathan asks, because he’s friendly like that.
Josuke blushes. “Uh, he’s okay.”
“On the plane yet?”
Josuke nods. “I mean, he already flew in to Copenhagen, and is switching planes currently.”
The other Josuke looks up. “Copenhagen?”
Josuke nods. “I think it’s in Denmark?”
“Hm,” he’s not sure his cousin knows what Denmark is. “He is coming soon?”
“Tomorrow,” Josuke nods. “He couldn’t miss his sister’s birthday.”
“Oh, shit, it was his sister’s birthday,” his mum says.
Shinobu smacks her arm.
“Shoot,” she corrects, belatedly.
“It’s okay,” Josuke tells her. “They forgot yours too.”
“Yeah, but I’m trying to look better.” She shrugs. “Thought I guess I already am, since, you know, got their kid to Europe and all.”
“Uh, I got their kid to Europe,” Josuke says. “All you did was tag along.”
His mum cocks an eyebrow. “And who birthed you, you ungrateful little schmuck?”
“I was brought by a stork.”
“I should ask it to take you back.”
They stick their tongues at each other. Jonathan and the other Josuke watch, amused.
Then Johnny is reeling himself into the kitchen, out of breath, and mum nearly drops her cup.
“They’re here,” he wheezes. “The creepy Italians. Oh my god.”
Gyro is right behind him. “They have a minivan.”
Jolyne too. “You can hide a body in there.”
Jonathan sighs. “Guys.”
“Like, at least eight bodies.”
“Guys,” Jonathan is dusting himself off. Curiously, he seems a little flustered. “Go get Erina.”
“Oh, she told us to get you,” Jolyne says. “We were going to watch from the windows, like the creepy cultists from Rosemary’s Baby.”
Gyro is nodding along enthusiastically. “I have never seen that movie.”
“Don’t,” Johnny says. “You’d just get freaked out.”
“I appreciate you not doing that,” Jonathan is saying. “They’re outside?”
Johnny nods. “But no one came out yet.”
“Super creepy!” Joseph is yelling from the living room.
“Joseph,” Erina and Caesar can be heard saying in unison.
“I’ll go see if everything is okay,” Jonathan announces.
Josuke bounces after him. “Need backup?”
“No,” Jonathan says. Smiles fondly. “You can watch from the windows like creepy cultists.”
“Wow, the house is huge,” Narancia is saying.
“Eh,” Trish is studying her nails. “I’ve seen bigger.”
“Bougie,” Narancia tells her.
Fugo and Bruno exchange incredulous looks.
Fugo speaks, “Since when do you know what bougie means?”
“Since I got an actually competent tutor — ow!” Narancia yelps as Fugo stabs him with a nail filer. “What the fuck is wrong with you — “
“Enough,” Buccellati has sticky fingers take the nail filer away. How’d they even get that on the plane? (They’re mafia. That’s how). “Abbacchio. Go with Giorno.”
Abbacchio does a dramatic sigh, for the sake of being dramatic, but starts undoing his seat belt all the same.
“No,” Giorno says.
They both pause. Abbacchio frowns.
“If the don disagrees with the personnel,” he says, dryly. “I’m sure we can find someone — “
“No,” Giorno says again. Shakes his head. “It’s not Abbacchio — I’ve changed my mind.”
Leone and Bruno exchange another look. Abbacchio slumps in his seat.
“Giorno,” Bruno starts.
Giorno is meeting no one’s eyes. “Let’s go to the hotel.”
“Oh, shit, are you nervous?” Narancia asks (Fugo smacks him on the head).
“I am not,” Giorno lies.
“Giovanna,” Abbacchio growls. “I did not fly in from Australia to watch you piss your pants outside some foreigner’s mansion and then sleep in a hotel.”
Giorno’s lips are a thin line.
“Why is it always piss with the two of you?” Mista asks.
“What does that mean?” Bruno whines.
“Australia sucks either way,” Narancia is saying. “Like, the spiders? The snakes?”
“Abbacchio fits right in,” Fugo mutters. Abbacchio flips him off.
“Giorno,” Trish scoots over to Giorno’s side, squeezes his shoulder.. “You don’t need to do this.”
Abbacchio looks like he wants to say something, but keeps it in. Bruno appreciates it.
Trish is still going. “But I think you want to?”
Giorno is shaking slightly.
Bruno’s chest constricts.
“Would it be easier if we all went with you?” he asks.
Giorno shakes his head. Shrugs.
“Mista can hold your hand,” Narancia says. “Then you can focus on how gross and clammy his hand is and not be nervous.”
“Is that why you always ask to my hold my hand?” Mista gapes.
Mista looks wounded.
“Both your hands are gross,” Fugo is saying. “Giorno, do you need a moment?”
“If you just volunteered us to stand in the cold, Panacotta, I’ll — “
“Jesus, Abbacchio, zip it.”
Bruno waggles his eyebrows at the rearview mirror. Fugo makes a noise of disgust.
“I need —” Giorno starts. Sits upright. Takes a deep breath.
“I’m good,” he says. “Lets go.”
“All of us?” Mista asks.
“Lets go,” Giorno just repeats himself.
Bruno just shrugs at the questioning looks being thrown his way. Opens the car doors.
“They’re all coming out,” Joseph is saying, glued to the windows. “Oh my god. There really is seven of them.”
“Of course there is,” Erina is throwing on a scarf. “It’s what they announced — oh, sweetheart.”
Jonathan looks terrified. She clasps his hand, squeezes it reassuringly.
The rest of the family is already pushing for the best spots in front of the remaining windows; Gyro has lifted Johnny onto his back and the latter is now looking over his head.
“Josuke, if your stupid pomp doesn’t stop blocking my view this instant I swear I’ll feed it to Koichi’s dog — “
“What did you just say — “
“God, guys, not now.” Jolyne has them both elbowed into impossible positions, feet spread wide in a power-stance as she leans onto the glass. “Oh, there’s a girl.”
“Why wouldn’t there be a girl?” Joseph asks. “Jeez, Jolyne, internalized misogy— “
Caesar just smacks him on the head.
“Her hair is cool,” Jolyne ignores them both. “Yo, Josuke, will you trade hair tips?”
Josuke seems mollified by this turn of the hair conversation. Peers through the window cautiously.
“I don’t think any of them is wearing enough clothes for this weather,” Gyro comments.
“I’m not complaining,” Johnny says.
“I’ll drop you,” Gyro warns.
Johnny pecks his head.
Erina wants to join the spy-club so badly.
“Let’s go,” she says instead. Tugs on Jonathan’s arm. “This can’t go on forever.”
Jonathan just nods.
They all stumble out of the car like a Sound of music revival. Bruno struggles to keep a business face on.
«Okay, so, Giorno and Bruno are the only ones who speak English,» Abbacchio is going over the plan again. Bruno tries not to snicker again. It’s kind of cute, how much he cares. “The rest of us, as far as they’re concerned, can’t understand shit.»
«Ooh,» Narancia cooes. “Acting.»
«Is it really acting?» Fugo grimaces. «Your English isn’t that great.»
Narancia flips him off.
«Actually, Fugo, you speak English too,» Abbacchio announces. Rolls his eyes. «Your reactions would give you away.»
Fugo opens his mouth to protest.
«Someone would make a pudding joke and you’d stab them,» Mista agrees.
«Would?» Trish laughs. «Try ‘will’.»
Giorno is staring at the mansion with deadly stillness. «No stabbing.»
«He’s not my boss,» Trish scoffs. “Fugo, I can stab people for you.»
«I appreciate that.»
The front doors open. Bruno makes a silencing motion.
They all watch as two figures approach them — there are faces at the windows, Bruno suddenly realizes, and makes sure his face is as impassive as he can make it. There’s a man — really tall, really strong-built — and a blonde woman, holding his hand.
«Jonathan Joestar and Erina Pendleton,» Fugo mutters, ever on-top of his paperwork. «Married for three years.»
«What? No blood type?» Narancia yawns. “Getting rusty, Panni.»
Fugo reaches into his pocket, eyes afire — Bruno has to hold back a snort as Abbacchio grabs his arm, pulls him into a half-hug half-chokehold.
The pair reaches them. Bruno watches Giorno go completely still. Watches the man watch him back, wide-eyed and mute.
Finally, the woman steps in.
“Giorno?” her smile seems sincere. Bruno is keeping an eye on her.
Giorno clears his throat. “Correct.” He politely bows. “And you must be missis Pendleton?”
“Please, call me Erina.” She tugs at her husbands arm. “Jojo.”
The man finally moves.
“I’m — I.” He startles. Laughs. His face is fully red. “Hello?”
Giorno looks tiny compared to him. Says nothing.
“I am — ah.” The man reaches out a hand. “I am your father?”
«Why the question mark,» Narancia whispers.
«I guess Giorno got his social skills from the other dad,» Trish mutters.
Bruno shooshes them again.
“For fuck’s sake,” someone from the house yells. “Jonathan, hug your son!”
Surprised laughter — from Jonathan, and from the house.
“I — “he turns back to Giorno. “Would that be okay?”
Giorno looks more lost than Bruno had ever seen him.
“Giovanna,” Abbacchio growls. “Cat got your tongue?”
That gets a response — Giorno turns around, sends a pointed look his way.
Looks back at his — dear god. His father.
“If it’s not a bother,” is what he says.
“Oh my god,” Erina mouths.
“It’s — Giorno.” Jonathan laughs. “Giorno.”
And then they’re hugging.
«Oh my god,» Abbacchio whispers into Bruno’s ears. «I’m going to barf.»
Bruno rolls her eyes. «“If you cry, you can blame it on the cold.»
«I won’t —»
To their side, Mista is loudly sniffing.
Then there’s applause, loud, from the house’s open window — there are so many people — and then the people are spilling out, and another burly man bounces out, sleeveless and grinning.
“I’m your uncle,” he announces. “I’m going to join the hug now!”
That’s all the warning they get. Erina watches the hug grow, gives Bruno an apologetic look.
“Jesus,” a blonde man is following him. “I hope you get hypothermia.”
The sleeveless man just laughs.
«Hypothermia sounds great about now,» Abbacchio mutters.
The blonde man’s eyes narrow their way.
He opens his mouth again. This time he speaks Italian. «Cold?»
“Shit,” Narancia says, loudly, in English.
«Guess Narancia speaks English too?» Mista asks, in Italian.
Abbacchio drops his forehead onto Bruno’s shoulder, and groans again.
They manage to get the crowd inside with minimal interruptions. Which is good, Erina thinks, because Joseph would have really gotten pneumonia.
She has Caesar by her side, for translation and also emotional support purposes — she got on Jonathan’s case for panicking but dear god there really is seven of them. They all seem ridiculously young. She can’t begin to imagine a scenario where they met.
“So,” she addresses the group as she’s leading them up the stairs. “We got you two bedrooms, hope that’s alright — there’s one bathroom per floor so, uh, lock the doors, I guess — “
She knows she’s rambling. She doesn’t need Caesar’s 'seriously?' side-eyes to know she’s rambling.
He translates something. She hopes he made her sound more coherent.
They’re nodding along.
“I — excuse me,” one of the older members of the group — B-something — Bucciarrati? — interrupts. His smile is kind. “A few of us do speak English, and will easily translate for the others, so you need not bother.”
“Okay,” Erina takes a deep breath. “I know you must be tired, so I’ll let you settle in and rest — dinner will be in a few hours, but if you’re hungry now I can get you something — “
The boy in a hat says something. The tall one with white hair snaps at him.
Caesar is snickering to the side.
“Thank you so much,” B-something smiles again. “We will tell you if we need anything.”
She can do nothing but return the smile.
“We’re — all over the place,” she says. Laughs again. Sounds hysterical to her own self. “Feel free to — well, do whatever.”
The shortest boy, with wild hair and a bright headband, asks something. Three people at once shout an answer — she doesn’t need to speak Italian to recognize a ‘No’.
“Noted,” Bucciarati beams again. “Thank you so much, once again.”
Erina leaves them be. Supposes it’s better than her and this one Italian man being polite to each other until someone dies.
“What the fuck,” Trish theatre-whispers from the top step. “Are you two doing?”
Mista and Narancia both startle; they are crouched down in the far end of a corridor, next to the air vent opening. Narancia nearly falls over — Aerosmith’s visor hits him in the face.
“Shit, Trish.” Mista has a hand on his chest, like an elderly lady who’d just witnessed a pair of streakers. “Warn a man.”
Trish cocks an eyebrow. Squats down next to them.
“Alright,” Narancia puts the visor away, calls back Aerosmith (does the whole T-pose thing, too). “I’m pretty sure they’re fucking.”
Mista hums thoughtfully. Trish stares.
“The only other blonde Joestar-kid, and the Greek food guy.” Mista stretches his lips in a grotesque grin. “You know, the gills?”
Trish will never forget. “What about them?”
Mista shrugs. “We think they’re fucking.”
Trish is starting to understand why Abbacchio was so mean all the time. “So you spied on them?!”
“First of all,” Mista says. “Don’t act like you weren’t curious.”
Trish crosses her arms. She can act however she wants.
“Second of all — we didn’t know they’d be fucking.”
“Yeah!” Narancia confirms. “We aren’t some creeps!” He pauses. “Well, I’m not.”
Mista flips him off.
“You’re guilty by association,” Trish tells Narancia. “Why was Aerosmith in their room?”
“Oh, that’s number three,” Mista bounces back. “Greek food name guy is — ”
“Okay, his name is Gyro, quit bullshitting.” Narancia yawns. “You’ve talked about nothing but how hungry his name makes you for the last hour.”
“Not my fault my stands keep asking for tzatziki,” Mista snaps back. “But really, god, fuck his name.”
“You’re both named after food,” Trish says.
“Yeah, but it’s healthy food,” Narancia shudders. “Gyro is actually good.”
“You quit bullshitting now,” Mista says. “You didn’t know what a gyro is.”
“I know now!”
“I had to tell you!”
“I googled it!”
“You didn’t know how to spell it — nevermind,” Mista turns back to Trish. “He’s Italian.”
Trish’s eyes widen. She might’ve loudly shittalked his hat not an hour ago. “Oh.”
“So he definitely knows we all speak English,” Mista goes on.
“I don’t think you do,” Narancia says.
Narancia goes on solemnly. “I don’t think rewatching Pretty Woman fifty times counts as a language course.”
Mista looks wounded. “Letting you go back to school was a mistake.”
Narancia sticks his tongue out. “Eat my 3.2 GPA.”
Trish snorts. “That is not your GPA.”
“It is if you don’t count math!“ Narancia flails dramatically. “I get Fugo flashbacks every time I see the multiplication table, I should be allowed medical compensation — anyways. We wanted to see if Gyro would snitch.”
“Ah,” Trish says.
“Make Fugo pay you a therapist,” Mista says.
“Bluh, don’t joke about that, he offered to.” Narancia yawns. “But they just wanted to talk about my mum and test me for stuff.”
Trish stares. “But that’s good.”
Narancia scowls, pouts.
Mista and Trish share a look.
“Let’s just tell Bruno,” Mista suggests.
“Solid plan,” Trish nods.
Narancia just groans. “Unfair — “
The doors open. This time, Narancia does fall over.
Gyro is at the doorway. While Trish normally thinks he looks goofy as fuck, the weird lighting and the frog-eye view really make the whole hat-gills combo slightly intimidating.
“Hi,” he whispers, in Italian. “I won’t snitch.”
The three on the floor say nothing. Trish isn’t sure what to say.
“Also,” his face darkens. “We weren’t fucking.”
“Hey!” There’s a sound of rustling sheets from inside the room; a yell in English. “I know what that word means!”
Mista snickers. “Believable.”
Gyro squints at him. Snorts (oh god, that’s a sound). Starts closing the doors.
“You,” he pauses suddenly. Stares Narancia down. “Go to therapy.”
“Fuck you, pissteeth, you can’t tell me what to — “
The doors close. More of that nasal laugh can be heard from indoors.
The three exchange looks.
“We should probably report this to Buccellati,” Mista says.
“Probably,” Trish agrees.
“Leave out some details.”
Trish grimaces. “Yeah.”
“I’ll tell him I called a dude 'pissteeth',” Narancia says. “I don’t give a fuck.”
More laughter from inside the room. The three scramble down the stairs.
Johnny follows the sounds of whispered Italian down the corridor, into the library — sure enough, his new - - something is there, together with one of his - - friends? Family? It’s one of the teenagers, the one with the hole cutouts.
They both still the moment he enters. They’re sat at the main desk — well, Giorno is, but mounted on the desk itself with his legs crossed and posture ridiculously proper for someone with no apparent grasp of pulling out a chair. The other is standing by his side, leafing through a brick of a book. Johnny recognizes it as the translation of Les Miserables he made a half-assed attempt to read for his extra credit romantic literature course, back before he remembered Sparknotes was a thing. He is about to call the guy out for lying about English when he remembers this one did admit to understanding them.
“Hey,” he says instead. The hole-cutouts nods at him; Giorno does a little polite smile.
“Hello,” he says; makes a move to climb off the table. “I hope we were not breaching our rights by entering here. If you need us to leave —”
“Dude,” Johnny cuts him off. “It’s your dad’s house.”
Giorno’s face is unreadable. The other guy squints at him with obvious scrutiny.
They have a brief exchange in Italian. It’s a little funny, how they keep whispering even though as far as a majority of this house is concerned, they’re speaking in code.
On that note,
“How did you get picked as the designated English-speaker?” he addresses hole-cutouts. The guy scowls.
“By speaking English?”
Giorno is watching with inhumane focus.
“Right,” Johnny ignores that his hands got a little sweaty. Jesus. They’re both younger than him. “But so does your entire entourage.”
Giorno blinks, as if this is the first time he’s hearing this. The hole cut-outs just swears.
“Io te l’ho detto che Narancia non essera capace fingere —”
“Non sai come essi rivelarono — excuse me.” Giorno smiles at Johnny. “What makes you think this?”
Johnny cocks an eyebrow. Thinks Dio’s bullshiting skills must be genetic. “Well, to start of, my boyfriend speaks Italian.” His face heats up at the mention of a boyfriend but he thinks he still kind of pulls the statement of. Hole cutouts swears again. “But also, the moody goth one kept scowling at us every time we commented on Buccellati. We started getting ruder to see if he reacts and he stopped pretending to not be openly glaring. Thought he’d fight someone by the end.”
Giorno cocks an eyebrow.
“Define ‘ruder’,” hole-cutouts says.
It's too good of an opportunity for Johnny to pass it up. “Uh, it means less polite, kind of inappropriate — “
Hole-cutouts spits out something in Italian.
Giorno seems to be holding back laughter — he puts a hand on his shoulder, tugs.
“Fugo,” right. That’s the name. “Would you go make sure Abbacchio is not making me an orphan again?”
Fugo’s jaw unclenches. He nods.
“Can’t promise I won’t escalate it.”
“That’s not what Christ would have wanted,” Giorno says serenely. Fugo rolls his eyes, but leaves nonetheless.
Johnny watches the interaction unfurl like anything he might notice might explain the nature of relationships the group of seven has.
“So,” he says, once hole cut — Fugo is out of the room. “Your…friends seem fun.”
If Giorno notices his hesitation with the word— as if there was a way to miss it — he doesn’t comment on it. “I know they can be a lot.”
Johnny shrugs. “They fit right in.”
There’s some awkward silence.
“So,” Johnny decides to bite the bullet. “Do you have a Stand too?”
Giorno’s eyes widen ever so slightly. Otherwise, he barely reacts.
“What is a stand?”
Johnny narrows his eyes.
Giorno just blinks innocently.
“Your friend’s aeroplane thing got tangled in the Christmas lights,” Johnny tells him. “You can drop the act.”
Giorno does. Presses a hand to his temples.
“So you have a Stand too,” he says.
Johnny nods. “Yeah, like — everyone does.”
Giorno looks up at that.
“Well, mostly.” Johnny shrugs. “Like, Josuke’s mum doesn’t — uh, she’s the — “
“Tomoko Higashikata,” Giorno nods (Johnny suddenly feels bad about remembering virtually none of his friends’ names).
“Yeah,” Johnny confirms. “Neither does her girlfriend — they also don’t know what Stands are. Erina doesn’t have a Stand but knows about them — she has, like, a no-stand indoors policy but I think your — uh — aeroplane friend can get away with it since he’s new.”
“His name is Narancia,” Giorno supplies. “And, oh?”
“Yeah,” Johnny says. “I’d show you mine, but, uh, no Stands indoors.”
Giorno nods. “Understandable.” He seems to be thinking about something; Johnny leans back, waits for him to work it through.
“Do you want to ask if your other dad had one?”
Giorno is still not looking his way. “Did he?”
“Yeah,” Johnny tries to keep bitterness out of his voice. Doesn’t want Giorno to get a wrong impression. “Which is why we were ninety-eight percent sure you’d have one too, but — can’t just come out and ask, you know?”
Giorno is back to the Mona Lisa smile. “You did.”
“Well,” Johnny shrugs. “Your friends already used theirs to spy on me. Figured I might as well.”
Giorno is spared from having to respond by the sound of approaching footsteps — they both turn around to meet Erina’s smile as she peeks in, nods at them.
“Been wondering where you went,” she says. “They told me to tell you the Uno tournament is starting.”
“Oh, shit, thanks.” Johnny glances at Giorno. “Ever played?”
Giorno shakes his head.
Giorno seems to ponder on it. “I don’t think I know the rules?”
“It’s okay, neither does half of us.” He starts wheeling himself out. “Plus, watching how long it takes Caesar to headlock Joseph is half the fun. Think we have a bet going this year?”
“You better not have,” Erina says. “Also, Giorno, I was hoping we might talk for a bit?”
Johnny glances at Giorno. Doesn’t know why. It’s not like he can read the guy.
“Of course,” Giorno says.
“We can do that later, though.” She smiles. “Wouldn’t want to keep you from that card game betting.”
“Wow, Erina.” Johnny wheels past her. “He’s been under your roof for less than six hours and you’re already sending him on a path of crime.”
Giorno coughs into his hand.
“Funny,” Erina comments. “Don’t burn the house down.”
“Darling,” Bruno coos into Abbacchio’s ear. They’ve just stepped outside, after a long afternoon of Bruno socialising with and Abbacchio mutely glaring at Giorno Giovanna’s extended family.
Abbacchio side-eyes him. “Darling?” he repeats. “Are you drunk?”
“Only on you and the holiday cheer,” Bruno beams. “And some of those chocolate cherries, I’ll be completely honest.”
Abbaccio stares, incredulous.
“I don’t think you should be able to get drunk on those,” he puts an arm around Bruno. “Lightweight.”
“You say the sweetest things,” Bruno nuzzles into his chest. “Also, Gyro knows we speak English.”
“Shhhhhhhh,” Bruno pats his cheek. “It’s okay.”
Abbacchio will not ‘shhhhhhhhh’. “Bruno,” he tries to keep his voice level. “This just discredited any information we might have overheard. They could have faked every private conversation.“ His head hurts. “Shit, if they know about stands, they could’ve faked earlier conversations too— nothing Moody Blues found is worth shit. Bruno —”
“Leone,” Bruno stares up at him. He looks perfectly sober.
“They’re all Stand users,” he says. “They know we’re Stand users.”
Abbacchio’s head really hurts. “You say that like it’s supposed to reassure me —”
“They wouldn’t be telling us about their Stand powers if they wanted to fight us,” Bruno cuts him off. “I really think they just want to get to know Giorno.”
Abbacchio says nothing.
Bruno pecks his cheek. “You need to relax a bit.”
Abbacchio doubts he can. “Right.” A pause. “Who did you lick.”
Bruno grins. “Jealous?”
Abbacchio pretends to shove him away.
Caesar and Joseph, anticlimactically, throw their respective cards at each other fifteen minutes into the game and then Jolyne exiles them out of the room — Giorno’s friends, though, seem to take the game just as seriously and so ninety minutes later Johnny finds himself watching as Fugo and the guy with a hat scream at each other in spitfire Italian while Narancia subtly peeks at both their cards.
“Uh, something about number four,” Gyro whispers into his ear — he’s taken on the role of a translator, like knowing what they’re saying makes it make any more sense. “A very bad word I won’t repeat in this good christian home. Ohh.” There’s an audible gasp from Narancia too. “Someone’s grandma just got name-dropped.”
“Okay,” Jolyne says. “You two good?”
They seem to remember where they are. Both look to Giorno.
Giorno, who somehow managed to lose all the cards two rounds in, looks up from the five ladybugs circling his palm. Says something in Italian.
“He told him to — “
“Didn’t you say you weren’t going to snitch?” Narancia cuts Gyro off.
“I didn’t specify what I’m not snitching on,” Gyro retorts.
“Play a card, Mista.” Giorno is still playing with his ladybugs. They keep trying to move towards Josuke.
“I think they like me,” Josuke has his chin on the table, watching them.
Giorno hums. “Must be because they’re your cards.”
Josuke frowns. “What does that have to — “
Narancia loudly gasps.
“He’s cheati — “
“Did you really just figure that out?” Trish reaches out, plays a card for the hat guy. The guy — Mista? — who now has four cards, makes a pained face.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Giorno leans back in his seat.
Jolyne and Johnny exchange a look. She looks overjoyed.
Giorno keeps winning round after round. Johnny finally learns everyone’s names.
december 23rd; still England
Giorno is not in his room in the morning, and Bruno panics very briefly.
“Leone,” he returns to Abbacchio and nudges him awake. “Leone, Giorno is missing.”
Leone’s eyes snap open.
“We’re still here,” he says.
Bruno nods. “Currently.”
‘The rest of the team?”
The team. Guess they are back in the business. “If you’d be as kind as to help me check.”
Johnny wakes up to take a piss, and finds Giorno’s weird white-haired body-guard pacing the hallway.
They both freeze. Both narrow their eyes.
“Morning,” Johnny says, cause he’s cultured like that.
White-hair says nothing. Johnny tries to remember his name.
His glare intensifies. “Abbacchio, for you.”
“Merda,” Gyro yawns, walking past. “Could go for some right now.”
He takes the one bathroom. Johnny resorts to waiting.
“Need something?” he asks.
Leo Abbacchio just scowls, and walks away.
Shinobu wakes up to sun filtering in through the blinds, and a warm weight on her chest. She smiles down; the sight of Tomoko, asleep and drooling onto her PJs, still makes her heart skip a beat.
Feeling like the luckiest woman alive, Shinobu smoothes some hair out of Tomoko’s face; Tomoko just snores in response.
Then the wall to her left opens, and one of the guys Jonathan’s son brought in peers out.
“Oh,” he says, upon noticing her. “Wrong room.”
“I am terribly sorry,” he says. “Please, nevermind me.”
And with that, he’s gone.
Shinobu stares at the wall he disappeared into. Lowers her head back onto the pillows.
Decides it is way too early for this.
Fugo, Narancia and Mista pulled their beds together and are asleep in an about-to-collapse pillowfort. Trish is there too, drawing flowers on her bare legs.
“What’s up,” she says, upon seeing Abbacchio.
“Did Giovanna sleep here?” he asks.
“He did — oh.” She seems to notice the barely disturbed bed. “Oh.”
Abbacchio mentally curses. “Stay here.”
If this dumb brat got himself kidnapped on Abbacchio’s day off —
He runs into Bruno on his way out.
“Leone,” Bruno is grinning. “Leone.”
“That’s my name,” Abbacchio scowls. “What’s — “
Bruno unzips the wall. Pulls Abbacchio in.
Abbacchio lets himself be manhandled. “If this was all a weird ploy designed to get us to fool around in your weird stand space — “
“You think so highly of me.”
“You know you could’ve just asked.”
“Ah, but what’s the fun in that — hush, now.” Bruno pulls another zipper open.
They’re in what Abbacchio assumes must be the library — there are rows upon rows of bookcases, those pinterest-y window alcoves, the whole nine-yards. The wallpaper looks like it’s worth more than all of Abbachio’s organs would cost on the blacket market.
“Shit,” he mutters. “Giovanna better inherit this.”
Bruno hushes him again — points a finger. Abbacchio follows it with his eyes.
Far in the corner of the room, there’s a large leather sofa. The woman that showed them around yesterday, Erina, is asleep on it, a thick leather-bound book in her lap.
Tucked against her side, with his head on her shoulder, is Giorno Giovanna
— who Abbacchio hates.
“Brat,” he says.
“Let’s go,” he then adds. “Don’t want to wake them up.”
Abbacchio lets himself be manhandled back into the zipper void.
“Huh,” he says. “Guess they really just. Want to be his family.”
“Who’d have guessed,” Bruno nods. Glances up at Abbacchio.
Abbacchio glances down. Cocks an eyebrow, a question.
Bruno just beams. “Hey.”
Abbacchio feels his face flush.
“Wanna fool around in my weird stand space now?”
“— some call it ‘Hounds and Jackals’ because Cater — uh, this other guy — “
Erina pauses at the doorway, and watches the interaction go on uniterrupted. Jonathan and Giorno are sat at the library desk — there are more books open than she knows they realistically need, and even then, her husband has his laptop on and running, and is showing Giorno something on the screen.
Giorno’s eyes keep flying between Jonathan’s face and the screen with rapt attention. He's wearing the sweater Erina knit him. “Howard Carter?”
“That one!” Jonathan smiles, that same look of disbelieving pride he’d had on ever since his first conversation with Giorno. “He found a game set with playing pieces fashioned like hounds and jackals in Amenemhat the Fourth’s tomb, back then — but we also call the game '58 holes'.”
Giorno nods. “And this board is older?”
“Oh, much older,” Jonathan starts typing something on the keyboard. “It’s at least four millennia old — I just,” he pauses. Looks flustered. “I just think it’s interesting. You know. To see what people used to do for leisure, so long ago.”
Giorno nods. “It is interesting.”
Jonathan does another proud-dad laugh.
Erina considers just leaving them to this — knows she couldn’t be able to break this scene up even if she was held at a gunpoint — when Giorno notices her, and stands up.
“Hello,” he greets. Jonathan stands up straighter, taken aback, and then beams.
She waves. “Boys.” Peaks in, squints at the books. “Busy?”
Jonathan gives her an apologetic smile. “I was showing Giorno what I wrote my thesis on.”
“That’s lovely,” she nods at Giorno. “If he ever starts speaking too quickly, just spray him with water. That’s what I did while he was writing it.”
Giorno’s eyebrows go up. He lets out a surprised chuckle.
“She really did,” Jonathan confirms. Looks back at her. “Did you need me for something?”
“You think you’re so important,” she teases. Shakes her head. “Just letting you know you’ll be expected to socialize in some thirty minutes, since Hermes and Koichi are arriving.”
“Oh?” Jonathan seems dumbfounded. “Already?”
“It’s almost noon.”
He checks the clothes. Mouths another ‘oh’.
“Those are,” Giorno’s brow furrows in thought. “Josuke’s boyfriend and Jolyne’s friend from summer camp?”
Summer camp. Sure. “Someone did his homework.”
Giorno gets that look he gets any time Erina is even remotely nice to him — the I don’t know how to respond to this look Erina is determined to coach him out of.
“Do you need help with anything?” Jonathan asks.
Erina shakes his head. “I’ve already got all of Giorno’s friends on kitchen duty, it’s fine.”
Giorno looks mildly surprised at that.
“Well, not all,” Erina correct herself. “Couldn’t find Bruno and Leone anywhere. Asked Narancia if he knew where they are and he just started fake retching.” She makes a face. That answered one question, definitely. Just not one she asked. Not one she’d ever ask.
“I should go make sure they don’t destroy your kitchen,” Giorno starts getting up. Looks down at Jonathan, still seated. “Thank you —” His cheeks darken. “For sharing this with me.”
Jonathan opens his mouth, closes them again. Reaches out, awkwardly, and squeezes Giorno’s shoulder.
“Thank you for listening.”
Giorno just remains quiet. Nods.
Erina moves out of the way as he exits.
“See,” Erina can’t help herself. “Told you.”
He laughs into the desk.
Erina is grinning. “Told you he’d like you.”
“I don’t think you did.”
“I absolutely did.”
He smiles up at her. “Okay.”
There’s a loud clash, from somewhere in the kitchen. Erina assumes Giorno was late.
“I’ll let Caesar handle it,” she says.
Jonathan frowns. “Is Caesar our only backup adult now?”
He snorts. “We’re doomed.”
Another crash. Erina is starting to get a little worried.
“Josuke can fix anything, right?” she asks.
“Wasn’t there an indoors stand ban?”
“We can take broken kitchenware outside,” another crash. “Or limbs — god, are they okay?”
And that’s the exact time Leone Abbacchio seems to materialize out of a wall.
They lock eyes; he freezes. Then Bruno peaks out, caught mid-laugh — they’re both slightly disheveled, and there’s black lipstick on Bruno’s face.
Erina can read environmental storytelling. She narrows her eyes.
Bruno clears his throat.
“The indoors Stand ban,” she reminds him.
Bruno ducks his head. He looks like he’s barely holding a laugh in. “My deepest apologies.”
“I already heard from Shinobu,” she adds. Cracks a smile.
Bruno is laughing into his hands. “Again, my apologies.”
“But I guess I understand — uh.” She snorts again. “Needing privacy.”
Leone already went back into the wall.
“Well,” Bruno says, pleasantly. “We will — leave now, and re-enter through the living room.”
Jonathan is watching, mute. Erina just nods.
“That sounds good!”
“And we can pretend this never happened.”
“I won’t mention it if you don’t.”
Bruno makes a zip-up motion on his mouth; seems to think this very funny. Disappears into the wall as well.
Jonathan and Erina make eye-contact. Burst out laughing.
“They’re,” Jonathan speaks. Is interrupted by some shouted Italian. “Interesting?”
Erina laughs. Hears Caesar join in the yelling. “Same could be said for your family, Jojo.”
Jonathan lifts his hands in a ‘what can you do’ gesture.
“Please go check that situation out, though,” she adds. “I can’t see stands and floating plates make my eyes confused.”
“Of course,” Jonathan is up on his feet immediately — presses a kiss to her forehead as he’s passing by. Pauses. “Thank you for being so understanding.”
She swats him away. “Don’t even try that.”
He just shrugs. Gives her another kiss.
Joseph hollers from the kitchen door.
“But for real,” he adds. “If you’d stop making out, I’d like to snitch on Caesar.”
“Snitch on Caesar?”
“He’s using Hamon indoors.”
Erina ponders on it. “I don’t think I banned Hamon.”
“Okay,” he adds. “He’s using Hamon on the new kids?”
That does give Erina pause. “What?”
“Good god, Jojo,” Caesar shows up at the doorway too. “I put the Aeroplane stand in a bubble.”
“And the little bullet men!”
“And I am not sorry.”
Erina looks at Jonathan for help. He ushers her back into the library.
“Go pretend you can’t hear us,” he says. “I have this.”
“You don’t,” she tells him. “But sure.”
She can hear Joseph cooing as she closes the doors.