Chapter 1: Sweet Hands
Spring was ending, and you could notice it by the heat in the air as you rose up from the bed. It would’ve been a common day, as any other, if it wasn’t because you were on vacations from your work at Cinderella.
Your sister, Aya, didn’t want you to come to work because of the murderer that was free around Morioh. Your sister was aware that Cinderella would become a target if it was ever found out that the two of you were Stand Users, which was the reason why she decided to keep you out of the business for a while. You weren’t exactly happy with the decision, but in the end, you couldn’t do much other than accept your boss’ (and older sister’s) orders.
So, today, you could rise slower than normal, you could last longer in the shower, you could prepare a big breakfast— but, you simply decided to take a quick shower and eat a toast. It was early in the morning, so you might be able to run into one of Yukako’s friends – one of those high schoolers that went to speak with Reimi, the strange ghost of a teenager.
When you met them, it was a sad day in Morioh. You felt a tinge of pain in your heart at some random hour in the afternoon and you felt a single tear leaving your eye, and you couldn’t really comprehend why. Yukako called Aya for the two of you to meet them in a certain address, right in the shopping district, and that was when you saw a bunch of people who were, also, Stand Users.
And that was when you realized a young boy was killed. He was barely 13 years old. The introductions were left out short, you couldn’t really remember any of the names other than Yukako’s, Koichi’s (and that’s because they went to the store a few days earlier) and Shigechi (which was the boy who was killed), but you were probably able to recognize their friends’ faces.
You ended up roaming around the school district for a while – and in the end, by twelve, you went to eat in a restaurant that was close by, feeling defeated. You sat outside and asked for something without really seeing the menu at all. The service was fast, or perhaps your food wasn’t too difficult to make.
You had forgotten that the school district in Morioh was as big as it was.
You let out a small sigh, all you truly wanted was to help catch the murderer, so no other children had to suffer Shigechi’s fate. It made you shiver, to imagine what his last thoughts must’ve been. Your eyes roamed around your table, on it, your lemonade and an almost empty plate rested — it was then when you saw a very distinct jacket – it was white, and the sleeves’ ends were purple and blue. You were sure you saw someone using that weird ass jacket with Reimi.
You quickly left a sum of money that surely was enough to pay for your debt and followed the jacket… Long enough to reach the knees… and on the head of the man you were ‘subtly’ stalking rested a white and golden hat. “… You!!” You called him, your hand reaching his sleeve. He turned around (and wow, how beautiful his eyes were, it was hard not to compare them to emeralds…), looking slightly displeased at your hand holding his clothes. You let go immediately, your hands coming up in a sign of defeat. “I’m sorry—” You tried to find the right words for what you were doing but all that came out was your name and your sister’s.
“Oh, you’re one of the Stand Users in Morioh.” He didn’t ask, it was a statement. You replied to him a quick and quiet ‘yes’, and he nodded, his expression going from slightly pissed to indifferent. “My name is Kujo Jotaro.”
You sighed, relieved that he had realized that you didn’t manage to learn his name. Nor any of the others. “I’m sorry for suddenly stopping you, Aya didn’t want me to be involved into any of this but— it didn’t feel right to sit idly by while more children are endangered.” You bowed slightly, as if to apologize for intruding. “I’ve been looking for all of the others, I can remember their faces, but I can’t seem to remember their names. Comes with working in a beauty salon, I guess.” You chuckled. “I knew they were students because of their uniforms so I stayed around the school district but—”
You were rambling, and Kujo simply continued to walk without addressing you. You walked beside him, not entirely sure if he was trying to ignore you or simply too preoccupied with something else to listen to you. However, since he didn’t seem to mind your presence, you continued accompany him.
“Jotaro!!” You heard a voice that you recognized, and you turned around to see Koichi running towards the two of you. “Oh! Miss Tsuji!”
You smiled to Koichi, and you ruffled his hair a little bit. “Hello dear, how’s Yukako doing?” You couldn’t help but remember how much of a gentleman he was when Yukako lost her face with your sister’s Stand. He blushed a little, and you stopped yourself from pinching his cheeks.
Kujo simply looked at the exchange with a suspicious air around him. You moved your hand dismissively. “Koichi has come to Cinderella before, I know him from his visit. My sister didn’t make the greatest first impression but—” You shrugged. “I think he’s a pretty good kid.”
“Miss Tsuji, don’t talk about me as if I’m not here.” Koichi’s face turned into an even darker shade of red. “Anyways…” His gaze turned serious as he looked towards Jotaro. “I wanted to ask if you’ve found something about… about the murderer.”
So, he was worried, as well. Of course, he was. Morioh was such a small and peaceful town, whoever was taking away that from you all, you needed to be dealt with. Jotaro shook his head, his expression unchanged. “Nothing yet.”
Your eyes went from Kujo to Koichi, and you noticed just how truly mortified the adolescent was.
Kujo continued to walk, and the two of you followed him. However, you didn’t feel completely comfortable with Koichi following the two of you, not because he was weak; because with that resolve he showed you and your sister he was everything except that, but because he was so young. However, your worries were silenced by Kujo’s voice interrupting your train of thought. “This is a shoe store?”
You looked at it for a second, it was Centipede Shoes Store. “Yeah, but for some weird reason it also specializes in tailoring. Aya comes by often to fix my shoes and her dresses.”
“Perhaps we should ask, then.” Kujo didn’t give Koichi and you time to react to his statement, he was already opening the door. The two of you simply followed him inside, where a single man was sitting, drinking coffee.
You held Koichi’s shoulders briefly. He turned his head to look at you. “Stay close to me, please. If anything happens, the adults are the ones who should deal with the danger.” You whispered. Koichi seemed a bit offended at your words, but he didn’t say anything. Inside the shop, few shoes rested, three jackets in the back, a desk, and an elderly man sitting behind it. Kujo pulled out from his jacket a button and showed it to the owner. That button was the last thing that Shigechi left in this world; you prayed that it would lead you to the culprit.
“We were looking for the owner of this button.” Kujo asked.
“Oh yeah— actually, I have the suit right here.” The owner pointed towards a purple suit that was on the back of the shop.
You felt your heart stop for a second, your voice coming out almost involuntarily. “Can you please tell us the name of the client!?” Your urgency showed, and your voice was too loud, making Koichi, Kujo and the owner flinch. “Whoops, I’m sorry.”
The owner chuckled lightly. “It’s alright, dear. However, my ears work perfectly, even if I’m rather old.” He joked. “Let’s see…” He stood up, making his way to the jacket. “I can recall the names of all my clients, but since you want efficiency, let’s just read the tag on the suit.” You were relieved that you all were able to find information so fast. You wondered if Kujo had narrowed down the options, because he found the suit way too fast. “The tag says… oh my, how do you read this again?”
“Let me see it!” Koichi came close to the owner of the shop when a strange object flew from a door on the back of the shop. You pulled from Koichi’s arm, bringing him close to you. “W-Wait!” At that same moment, the owner’s fingers were cut and fell to the floor.
You held Koichi even closer to you. “Kujo!” He heard you and almost by command he was in front of you, shielding you two from whatever that was. The strange creature that came out of the door landed in the owner’s shoulder, and he screamed at the sensation. The ‘machine’? entered his mouth, asphyxiating him. A hand came from behind the door and began to tug the jacket, trying to break it free, and Koichi tried to run towards it. “He’s trying to take the suit with him!!” Koichi screamed as you tried to hold him down, but he was much stronger than he seemed.
That was when the small and distinct tic of a clock made its presence known, and for some reason, that sound only made Jotaro jump and hug the two to you. Your eyes were covered by a huge hand, and the sound of an explosion made its way to your ears. “A lady shouldn’t see that.” Was all that Kujo said, not pulling his hand away from your eyes until the only remnant of the explosion was the fog.
“T-The owner… This power…” Koichi and Kujo stood, and you were left on the floor kneeling, looking at the spot where the owner was previously laying. “This is w-why they couldn’t find Shigechi’s body…”
You felt your stomach twisting. He was barely 13. Your hand fell over your mouth as you tried to cover the scream that was threatening to leave you. “… S-So hideous…”
Kujo offered you his hand, and you took it. He helped you stand and kept his hand around your waist, maintaining you stable. The purple jacket was no longer on the back of the store, the man behind the back door already taking it away. “We need to find him!!” Koichi screamed, running towards the door on the back. You tried to catch him, but you stumbled on the first step you tried to give right back into Kujo’s hold.
“Koichi! Don’t act too rashly!” Kujo’s voice was rough and demanding, making Koichi stop. “The Stand is still on this store. We need to retreat.” You felt his fingers digging deep on your hips. He was worried, probably not for himself, but for Koichi and you.
Koichi didn’t seem to comprehend Kujo’s worry, however, and began to move around the shop, as if to test Kujo’s theory. It didn’t surprise you when one pink sneaker morphed into the small bomb-Stand. “Diana!” You called forth your Stand, which looked like a woman with short hair green hair and green skin. She held Koichi and brought him close to you, while Kujo called his own Stand. You heard him utter the words ‘Star Platinum’ and ‘The World’, and everything seemed to stop.
When you recovered your sense of time, there was a hole in the floor, the bomb-Stand nowhere to be seen. “You stopped time! That was a great move!” Koichi, in your arms, cheered for Kujo. So. Kujo’s Stand was able to… manipulate time itself. Incredible. Koichi looked up to you, embarrassed. “Thank you, I’m sorry.”
You ruffled his hair. “It’s ok, but don’t do anything reckless next time, yeah?” You smiled. “The Stand User can’t be too far, however. Perhaps we can catch up—”
“I can look for him with Echoes! He must be close by with a Stand as powerful as this one!”
“No, don’t do anything other than protecting yourselves.” Kujo raises his hand in your direction, and soon, the bomb-Stand was out of the hole in the floor. “… Even after all the hits… This isn’t a Stand of short reach, Koichi. I know from experience!”
“… He is underestimating me…” Koichi whispered, and you didn’t have any time to answer to him. Echoes came out of him, looking exactly as you remembered.
“Koichi wait—” You tried to reason, but to no avail.
“This Stand is too powerful for his user to be far, my Echoes reach is ten meters!” He sent his Stand through the roof, ignoring Kujo’s advice. “I see him!!” Koichi whispered, and his face morphed from pride to astonishment. “He’s beyond Echoes reach!!”
The small bomb-Stand seemed to look between Kujo and both you and Koichi, and he began to approach the two of you. You took hold of Koichi’s shoulders and pulled him behind you, to cover him from the blast. Diana stood before the two of you, ready to take the bomb by herself. Koichi looked at you and you could almost sense his fear. You were sure if the bomb reached Diana you were going to die. Diana wasn’t a fighter. “You’re going to be fine.” You whispered to the teenager.
“Star Platinum! The world!”
Once time began moving again, the bomb-Stand made its way towards Kujo, who had lighted a fire beside himself. “Kujo! You don’t have time to dodge!!” You screamed as the bomb went off at Kujo’s side, sending him flying off and crashing against a piece of furniture you hadn’t even noticed was there. “Kujo!!” You took Koichi’s arm and ran towards the unconscious man. You felt his pulse and sighed, relieved to find that he was alive. However, he was gravely injured.
“The bomb was…” Koichi began, looking right to where the fire was lit. “Following the heat.”
“Diana.” You called your Stand, and she appeared. “Perpetual Surrender.” Diana touched Koichi’s shoulder, and you saw his body relax at her touch. Your power, Perpetual Surrender, was meant to cause an intense sense of peace in the people it touched, lowering their heart rates and body temperature for around fifteen minutes. Afterwards, people would feel strangely relaxed. You used your power along with Aya whenever a client was extremely overworked. You breathed, slowly, also bringing your heart rates down as much as you could. You made Diana help you with Kujo. “Let’s move.” The bomb-Stand was still distracted with the remnants of heat the fire left.
The three of you and your Stand made your way through the house that was behind the shoes’ shop, Koichi turning on the lights to give the bomb-Stand more distractions. “Kujo won’t make it far if we don’t get him help.” He was very heavy, but your stand was carrying most of his weight.
The bomb-Stand kept repeating the same sentence ‘this explosion wasn’t a human’ each time it collided against the lights inside the house. You found yourselves in a kitchen. “We’re lucky! There’s a lot of heat in here!” Koichi went to turn on the oven and cooking ranges, but they were electric. “Fuck!”
Realistically, you couldn’t run away. If you went out to a section with more people, the Stand would simply begin attacking indiscriminately and that would cause one too many casualties. Diana laid Jotaro on the floor and seemed to look around. “Mistress, you’re in danger.” Your body temperate was rising, out of the helplessness of the situation and the distress, you could feel your heart beating rapidly inside your chest. Koichi was calling one of his friends from the phone on the kitchen — you hadn’t even notice there was a phone there. “Josuke! Come to the Centipede Shoes Store! We’re in danger! The killer is here! Jotaro is hurt and it’s my fault!”
The bomb-Stand made his way out of the house and into the kitchen, and it was going directly to you. “I need to keep them safe. They can stop this madness.” You moved away from Kujo, lurking the Stand to a different direction so it wouldn’t explode with Kujo. Koichi’s body temperature was lower than yours due to Perpetual Surrender, but because of his guilt he was still agitated, and it wouldn’t take long for him to return to his previous state. “Koichi, listen to me.” You moved to an edge of the kitchen. The bomb-Stand was slowly making his way to you. “If I die here, make sure you and Kujo get to safety.” You smiled – you were just trying to look cool, you were terrified, but it didn’t sit good in your stomach to go out screaming like a coward. If it was going to happen, at the very least, you needed to act as if it wasn’t a big deal… Even if your legs were trembling.
“No!” Koichi called forth Echoes, and his hair seemed to stand on its own. He was angry, angry at your suggestion, and angry at the killer. “I’m not going to run away! We shouldn’t be afraid of this roach!! He should be afraid of us!” Echoes’ tail joined in with the head of the bomb in one sudden and unexpected attack — and the tail morphed onto a ball that had the word ‘heat’ written on it. The bomb-Stand began to move recklessly, following the ball that was stuck to its head. “This is it!”
You were both relieved and confused – much more relieved than you were confused though. You’ve never seen Echoes power before, you had only seen its form. “W-What did you do Koichi?” He explained Echoes’ power to the best of his ability, but it was still rather perplexing. You did understand, however, that it had something to do with the onomatopoeias. You nodded, and you proceeded to approach Kujo’s unconscious body. You knelt beside him and took off his hat to see if any damage was done to his head – earlier, you noticed how he had very beautiful eyes, but, now seeing him up close, you were able to see that he was in his entirety a beautiful man, but that wasn’t what you came to confirm. “Most of the wounds appear to be on his arms and sides. There are no wounds on his head, thankfully. But… these injuries are too deep.” You could almost see the bone on some of them. “Kujo…” You settled his hat back to his head.
“Josuke can fix him with— wait…” Koichi looked at the oven, and your gaze went to it as well. You noticed the air over the cooking ranges was noticeably hotter than the one around it. “What the… I turned it off after it didn’t work, and now it’s working? What a trashy oven…” The small bomb-Stand noticed the change of heat and began to move towards the oven.
“Koichi— fuck! Diana!!” You called your Stand and made her hold Koichi and take him out through the window beside the phone. You held Kujo by the arms and took him out of the Centipede Shoes Shop before the explosion, just barely. The eery sound of the small voice of the bomb-Stand saying that it wasn’t a human made you shiver. “Koichi! Careful! He’s coming and you’re no longer under Diana’s Perpetual Surrender!”
“This is no good, Echoes tail blew up in the explosion!!” He tried to call Echoes to no avail, since his Stand didn’t answer. “Why isn’t my Echoes coming!?”
You noticed the carcass of a huge bug on the side of the road, and you felt an extreme amount of fear. “I-Is he dead!?” You covered your mouth with your hand, trying to cover a scream. Then, you reasoned, if Koichi was alive, it was impossible for Echoes to be dead – Koichi was, after all, his user.
It was then when a humanoid Stand made its appearance. “Echoes!?” Koichi and you said at the same time.
And it spoke. You hadn’t heard Echoes speak before — and it seemed as if Koichi hadn’t, either. Koichi was asking a few questions, completely understandable and yet not on the right time – since the bomb-Stand was still attacking. At last, Koichi commanded the ‘new’ Echoes to protect you all.
It landed a few hits on the small bomb-Stand, but overall, it appeared as if it did nothing at all. Koichi was almost screaming at how useless Echoes was and you were sure that Echoes spelled the word shit – but then… the small bomb-Stand buried itself in the floor. “What?” It left your mouth just before it left Koichi’s, but both of you were thinking the same exact question.
“I protected you. If he gets close enough to you, he will feel an incredible pressure on him.” Koichi and you were both astonished at how robotic, sarcastic and sardonic Echoes sounded; was he joking when he said S-H-I-T? You didn’t know. Was it a part of Koichi’s personality that was very well hidden? You also didn’t know.
“Well— since it can’t move… I guess we just need to wait for Josuke to arrive.” Koichi scratched the back of his head. “Ah yeah, Josuke’s Stand is Crazy Diamond, he has the ability to heal any wounds as long as the person isn’t dead.”
You looked down to Kujo, he had his brow furrowed even unconscious. He seemed to be in pain, but you didn’t want to use your ability with him to tranquilize him, since there was a possibility that you would cause him a heart-failure. “I’m glad he can fix him up. Today hasn’t been his lucky day.”
“At this point, you would actually wonder which day his lucky day is.” Koichi laughed, and you couldn’t help but do it as well, even though you didn’t know any history behind that statement, Kujo seemed to have a very weird fortune.
You sat beside Kujo, every so often checking his vitals to make sure he was still breathing, and his pulse was still stable. Koichi kept standing close to the bomb to keep it under control with the weight that Echoes’ 3 Freeze was providing.
It wasn’t long until a man appeared before you all. One that seemed to be holding the weight of the world in his hand. He was sweating bullets and you could recognize the color of his suit just by looking at it… He was the Stand User… The murderer. “It took me two minutes to get here…”
You stood up rapidly, taking a stance just in front of Koichi. The teenager was barely 16 – and even if your legs were almost giving up on you, you wouldn’t let the man in front of you damage Koichi if you could help it. Koichi took hold of your arm, looking straight towards the man with an expression filled with fear. “Ah, what a beautiful hand you have.” The man noted, as he approached the two of you. You felt a wave of nausea wash over you as he gave a single step, walking even though he was carrying the weight of 3 Freeze in his hand.
You called forth Diana, aware that you couldn’t do much with Perpetual Surrender but at least you could shield yourself from any strange attacks. “And how lovely that you’re trying to protect little Koichi… A truly worthy woman.”
“You know nothing of worth!” You screamed, and you wished your voice hadn’t trembled slightly. Echoes stood right beside Diana – even though you felt Koichi’s hand quivering against your arm. Your gaze fell on the teen, seeing his expression filled with the mixture of stress and courage, and an infantile fear. Your eyes returned to the blond man, and your voice lowered an octave. “You’re the lowest of mankind, but a roach in the streets waiting to be stepped over…”
That seemed to upset him, for he called forth a different Stand, a feline type of Stand that seemed to be of very short range. You heard Koichi mutter something about just multiple Stands and it was then when the blond man chuckled. “Heart Attack is just part of my Killer Queen.”
You almost didn’t feel it when Killer Queen landed a punch on your stomach, but you felt the blood raising from your esophagus until you had to puke it. The second hit he provided didn’t land on you. It landed on Koichi, who fell right outside the five meters range required for 3 Freeze to keep Heart Attack trapped.
You turned your head towards the blond man, who seemed to be rather enchanted by the blood that was now covering your clothes. “You look lovely in red.” Killer Queen hit you once more and you felt your rib rupturing. The pain was so strong it was almost blinding. You tried to keep yourself steady on your feet, but it was impossible, you felt on your knees when you tried to give one step towards the man.
He didn’t distract himself too much with you, leaving you kneeling on the floor while he walked, slowly, towards Koichi as Echoes wondered who to attack, if the man’s Heart Attack or if the man itself. You couldn’t say anything because you felt, each time that you opened your mouth, how your blood was coming out of your body.
Koichi lasted too long in deciding, and when he managed to use 3 Freeze in Heart Attack, the blond man was already in range for him to be able to kick Koichi utilizing his Killer Queen. You tried to stand, as you saw how Koichi was getting extremely beaten up, and how Kujo was still not reacting. “D-D…” You tried to call forth Diana, trying to reach for Koichi – and once Diana finally materialized, she simply was held against your will by Killer Queen.
“Don’t interrupt now, yes? I have about a minute. I’ll have you in a moment – that gorgeous hand of yours will feel delightful.” He made Killer Queen hit Diana in her face, and you fell back down to the floor, bleeding out from your mouth and now from your eye.
You couldn’t see Koichi, but you heard him. “Your name is Kira Yoshikage!” And it was almost as if he was claiming victory. Why? What was so important about a name? You didn’t understand. You all were very close to death, if he knew that and couldn’t share it with anyone, then why was he so happy? Your last thoughts were pure confusion.
Your consciousness was leaving you, and you were afraid to close your eyes. You didn’t want to leave them to face that man on their own. But at this point, it was out of your hands to keep yourself awake.
You just hoped Koichi and Kujo would survive.
The first thing you noticed was how warm your body suddenly was, the second, how weird your stomach felt, and the third, a pair of blue eyes looking at you with a worried expression. “You’re alright, just let yourself heal for now.” Your eyes were swimming in his, and you nodded – confused but feeling… alive. He stood up, leaving you to look at the clear sky.
There were a few distant voices, two you recognized, one that was familiar but not very known to you. None of the voices were aggressive, however, one was obviously exaggerating and overacting. Why? You didn’t know. You assumed one of the voices you were able to recognize was Josuke, who was probably also the one who had healed you.
It was around two minutes of you being showered in the glow of Josuke’s Stand before you felt like you could sit. And surprisingly, it was Kujo the one who helped you stand up. He wasn’t looking at you when he did, his eyes were fixated in the man who had almost killed Koichi, Kujo and you.
He seemed to be in a very bad shape, you wondered what happened after you lost consciousness. “Kujo… was that you?” You whispered.
“No man should hurt the weak, much less a woman.” Kujo’s voice was dark, and Koichi, who was standing besides you, nodded in agreement.
“Well we’re going to make justice happen right now. Great… just great.” Josuke’s own voice had an edge to it, he was almost disgusted by the man standing before him. It was then that you were surprised by the action Kira did next. He, with Killer Queen’s power, decided to cut his own hand.
Once again, your eyes were covered just before you could see any blood. You wondered if it was some sort of nervous behavior that Kujo had as a result of his life. You heard as Kira proclaimed that he was going to live his life peacefully, and you heard when Josuke began to hit Heart Attack. You knew it was Josuke because you could feel the same soft energy that engulfed you earlier coming from somewhere close. “Josuke, that’s not going to work…” You took Kujo’s hand off your eyes and looked the teenager. “The bomb doesn’t take damage.”
He looked at you with a mixture of confusion and anger — anger that wasn’t meant for you but for Kira. “I’m not trying to break it, I’m trying to fix it.” Just as he said that, the hand began to levitate and move, probably following its rightful owner. “I know this might sound macabre, but let’s follow it! It’ll lead us to Kira!”
And thus, the group began to run after a flying hand. It felt like a dark, sort of funny joke. ‘What was a group of teenagers and two adults following around the streets? Obviously, a severed hand flying around!’. You didn’t intent to chuckle, but it was just… so bizarre. Your life up until that point was simply making your clients happy along with your sister. You didn’t think you would be following around a murderer.
Or, well, a murderer’s hand.
Your strange humor didn’t last long, though, when you noticed the turn the hand made. You knew this street… and when the hand turned again to the right, inside of… of Cinderella, you couldn’t help but fear the worst. You began to run even faster, feeling your stamina starting to run out. “… Aya!”
On the floor inside of the establishment, right beside the sofa and in front of the door that led to Aya’s office… a purple jacket covered in blood rested. You opened the door, and you found your very dear sister laying on the floor, a wound on her throat. You almost knelt at her side when you felt a hand on your waist, stopping you. “Don’t touch her!” Kujo’s voice was rough and alarmed, and that was when you noticed another body on Aya’s office, a man’s.
But you didn’t care, your sister, she was on the floor, cold and bleeding and Kujo wasn’t letting you go. You heard Josuke’s voice wondering why Kira dead was, but Kira’s hand simply ignored the body and kept moving to the door which was slightly opened.
There was a pained sound coming from Aya and you looked down. “H-He came… He made me change his face.” And you were so happy she was alive, and you tried to get Kujo’s grip off you, but he wasn’t letting go. “Lovely…” She used to call you that when you were in high school. “I’m so sorry.”
Josuke called Crazy Diamond, as if to heal Aya, but Kujo simply screamed to not touch her. It was then when you heard a ticking noise, and your eyes simply filled with tears as you saw in slow motion how your sister imploded. Kujo shielded you from the impact; and looked at the door, where the hand was still trying to get out from. It managed while all of you were still recovering from the shock, and all of you followed it, you still trying to contain the screams that wanted to leave you.
The streets were filled with people. The hand was nowhere to be seen. Kira Yoshikage managed to escape. Your legs lost all their strength and you found yourself on the floor, kneeling and screaming, not caring about all the eyes that were on you.
Tsuji Aya was dead. Your sweet, dear sister was gone, forever.
How were you supposed to move on?
Josuke, Koichi, Okuyasu and Kujo didn’t allow you to go home. Firstly, because it was too dangerous now that Kira had an interest in your hand, and secondly, because no one deserves to be alone at such a hard time.
You were in a room at the Hotel both Kujo and his grandfather were staying. A single bed, a few furnitures, a window that led to the outside, and a TV. There was a small living room just outside, and the bathroom right besides the TV. It was perfect for a long stay. Which you didn’t suppose would happen, but there was always the possibility.
…Just enough things to keep yourself distracted, the design on the closet was very stylish, too Baroque to your liking but still interesting… and even though you were fascinated by the designs of each of the doors, you couldn’t stop the tears that came out of your eyes.
Aya and you grew up in Tokyo, she was ten years older than you. She developed her Stand quite early, and she used to play with you with Cinderella throwing you up to the sky and catching.
Both your parents died from a strange sickness when you were just one year old, and you were sent to live with your aunt, who wasn’t the kindest of hearts. Aya began to work at sixteen in her ‘Cinderella’ Salon, and when you turned seven, your own Stand developed. Your sister named her ‘Diana’; you didn’t know what her reasoning behind it was, and now you would never know, but you didn’t want to change your Stand’s name, probably because Aya would be hurt if you did.
Aya always tried her very best to keep you safe, she would always tell you to be a child and that children didn’t need to worry themselves with adult problems. Perhaps it was because she had to grow up so fast, and she wanted you to experience the childhood she didn’t manage to have.
That was the reason why you were so protective of children, for you, all of them had the right to grow healthy and happy— and now there was one that wouldn’t, and now your sister wouldn’t grow old and have her own family because of a man that had stolen from her… everything.
Aya would’ve loved the Baroque furniture.
A knock at the door on the living room got you out of your thoughts. You stood from the bed and walked towards it. You stood right in front of it and asked who it was, and multiple voices came as an answer — Koichi, Okuyasu, Josuke, Kujo, a baby and someone else. You tried to wipe away the tears from your eyes and opened the door to receive them all. You were surprised to see Josuke holding a bag of recently baked bread, Okuyasu holding a few cans of coffee. “Well, introductions aren’t necessary for most of us but, this is my father—” Josuke pointed at an older man, who was holding a baby (was that Kujo’s grandfather?); the older man’s eyes filled with joy at being introduced as Josuke’s father, for some strange reason. “Joseph Joestar.”
They all sat down on the few chairs and the sofa in the small living room; Josuke and Okuyasu giving you the food for you to eat. You simply stood there, rather dumbfounded at their overly friendly behavior and yet, glad to have some company.
“We didn’t want you to be alone.” Koichi said as he sat between Josuke and Okuyasu. “You know… with all that happened.”
“Thank you, that’s very considerate.” You sat yourself in an armless chair and began to eat the bread that they brought you, it was soft and warmth, tasted as if it was just made. You wondered if Josuke used his power to keep it warm all the way to the hotel.
Everyone fell into a pleasant conversation, and everyone made it a point to avoid the subject at hand. You appreciated the thought, but it didn’t make you feel better, you wanted to speak about your sister’s murderer. Who was he? Why was he doing what he was doing? What made him the way he was? How were you going to find him? So many questions danced in your head.
You interrupted everyone’s conversation with your soft and yet darkened voice. “What are we going to do?”
There was a silence, strong, heavy.
You knew it was a complicated question. Kujo straightened his back where he was sitting, his brow furrowing even more than before. “In my state of semi-consciousness, I remember him saying something about your hand.” You closed your eyes, trying to remember. “… Yes, he told me my hand was beautiful. But what does that have to do with anything?” You looked down to your fingers, and for you, they were nothing out of the ordinary.
“That’s the only clue we have right now… that fascination for hands. Even though it was just yours, it’s very strange for him to be fixated over such a minor detail as your hand when he was about to fight both you and Koichi.” That was right, the man was focused intently on your hand; which was a strange fixation to have. “In any case, we’re planning to go tomorrow to his old house. There might be something that he left behind, a clue of his old life that might lead us to him.”
You nodded – at the very beginning, you were into the mission just because you wanted to protect the children, you wanted to protect Morioh, the city that gave you a home, but now, you were in for something way more personal. You wanted justice to be served. You wanted that man to die by your hand, you wanted him gone from existence and sentenced to Hell, if it even existed. You knew you didn’t have enough power to kill him, yourself, but you swore to all the Gods you didn’t know if existed… That you were going to do everything in your power to eliminate him.
You were looking down to your thighs, and you didn’t even notice the eyes of everyone else on you; when your gaze graced everyone on the group, you stared, confused, tilting your head as if asking a question.
You realized just then, that your hands were shining with Stand energy, even though you hadn’t called Diana from within you. You turned your head around, as Koichi whispered “That looks like…”
Diana was behind you, but her body was morphing right before your eyes. Her short hair was becoming longer, her skin was turning to a soft pink, her eyes turning golden – previously, she was unclothed, now, in her, the phantom of a dress rested atop of her body – so transparent it almost seemed to be inexistent; and yet, Diana still appeared to be Diana, but different… She looked so much like… “Aya…?”
Your Stand didn’t answer – even though she usually would; she looked at you silently. There was a soft, sad smile lingering on her face, as she leaned down until her forehead to touch yours. “…Diana?” You didn’t know what to call her, you didn’t even know it was possible for a Stand to morph that way – even if you had seen Echoes transform. Diana – or Aya, closed her eyes and whispered words you didn’t understand in what sounded like multiple voices speaking at once. Then, it came to you. Her new name, Daia. She vanished not long after. Your eyes were filled with tears as you turned around to face the group of men. They all seemed at a lost; and neither of them wanted to interrupt the thoughts that were crashing inside of your head. Why did your Stand suddenly appeared to be different? Why did… Why did she look so much like Aya? You only could think of one solution, a single person that could answer your inquiries. “… Let’s go see Reimi.”
It was almost nighttime, but you were sure a ghost didn’t have a sleep schedule.
The walk was silent – you were confused, hurt, tired, too many emotions, too much to deal with. Kujo would stand close to you, in case you were to accidentally fall. Mr. Joestar stayed behind with the baby, not wanting to cause unnecessary stress to the child; Josuke and Okuyasu were leading the group, but sometimes they would turn around to see if you were doing alright, Koichi stood right in front of you, doing the same as Kujo. You appreciated their niceness, and the thoughtfulness of keeping silence while you all walked, considering what had just happened.
Reimi appeared almost instantly, and the first time you didn’t notice just how beautiful she was. It was a shame that she had died so young, she, as every single person that had perished on the hands of Kira, deserved to live their entire lives – filled with happiness and with ‘dreams becoming true’. You looked at her with your eyes pained, and you searched for your small wallet that you kept in your pocket for a picture of your sister. “Has this person crossed?” You asked, not even bothering to say hello – too tired, too confused.
She looked at the picture, exanimated it for a few seconds. “Yes, and no.” She noticed your confusion and proceeded to explain. “She came by, walking, instead of flying, but I knew she… wasn’t alive. I told her that she needed to move on, but…” She paused, looking behind her, as if there was more than a mere shop there. “But she told me that she needed to go back. To someone important. I told her that even if she walked back, she wouldn’t be able to return to the world of the living, and yet, she kept insisting. I walked with her, and once we reached this world, she vanished. She was very kind, and soft spoken, I wonder if she reached the important person she was looking for.”
You took two steps backwards – only for your back to touch Kujo’s body. You looked up to see his intense blue-green eyes, not looking at you as if to give you privacy on your pain. Each one of the others did the same, they turned around – so you wouldn’t feel like your space was being invaded. You couldn’t help yourself, you turned around and hugged Kujo – him being the person closest to you – sobbing horribly as you repeated once and over again your sister’s name. Your chest felt tight and in pain as Kujo’s arms surrounded your back – not quite a hug, but as a sign of support.
Aya found her way back to you, not wanting to leave her sister alone. Daia was the result of her last will – the last breath of her life.
Your eyes were red as you laid in the bed. You looked at the ceiling as you felt your heart breaking at the remembrance of each of Reimi’s words. Your sister, even though she was dead, asked to return to the world of the living and came back to you, because she wanted to protect you. It hurt, the amount of pain you felt was tremendous.
Lying in bed, you called forth Daia. She materialized right above you, flouting and looking at you with her intense golden eyes. She still had in her face that sad smile that simply destroyed you. “Daia, do you remember being my sister?”
She nodded – of course she did. It was illogical that she wouldn’t. “Are you my sister?” She shook her head. No, she wasn’t. She wasn’t Aya, she was Daia. They were different entities, Daia was Aya’s last will. You sat down, crossing your legs. Your head was hurting too much from crying – and your eyes were heavy from exhaustion, but there were so many questions you wanted to ask. “What can you do, now that you’re… you.”
She continued to float above you, looking slightly pensive. “We… I…” Two voices – so that was the reason why you couldn’t understand her earlier – her body was still adapting to the new circumstances. “Deliverance.” She whispered, and her hand became a fist. “Disarray.” Those were the names of her attacks, but you didn’t understand what they meant.
“Can you use them with me?” She shook her head again. No, she couldn’t. You sighed, scratching your head. “Diana could use Perpetual Surrender – and it was an attack that could calm the person to the point of deaccelerating their heartbeats, body temperature, stress, and the like… Is it like that?”
Daia looked pensive once again, as if she was trying to realize her own nature. Perhaps it was the confusion of Aya’s humanity. “Yes – but no… Deliverance, but not Disarray.”
You were about to ask another question but a knock at the door interrupted the conversation. It had to be almost 10p.m., so you wondered who it could be this late… Your mind didn’t want to go to Kira, but it went, so as you approached the door, you had Daia close to you in case anything went south. When you opened the door slightly to see who it might be, you were surprised to find Kujo with a tray in hand. There were about three seconds of confusion before you opened the door completely, letting him in.
He entered the room silently, but he bowed a bit as if saying thank you. He wasn’t a man of words, you came to understand. “Earlier you weren’t in a good state to eat, but it’s not healthy for you to go without food for too long, and you’ve not eaten since early in the afternoon.” He settled the tray over the coffee table in the living room, sitting in the sofa behind it. “What were you doing with Daia?” It was then that you noticed you still had Daia out, and you called her to return to you.
You sat on one of the chairs in front of the sofa and coffee table, scratching the back of your head. “I was talking to her. Diana was able to speak to me so I didn’t find it weird when Daia could, as well.”
Kujo rested his elbows on his knees. “What did you want to know?”
“I wanted to know if… if she was Aya.” You looked down to the tray. On it, a soup rested, a bit of bread – and a glass of juice… You thought for a second, Kujo had said that you’ve not eaten since the early afternoon, but you did eat a warm bread that all of them had brought to you like three hours ago. Was it an excuse? Was he worried? You looked up to him and he was gazing at you, expecting you to continue. “Ah, I’m sorry. It turns out… She remembers being Aya, but she isn’t Aya. I also asked her about her powers, and she says she can use two different abilities, one called… Deliverance, and the other… Disarray.”
He pushed the tray towards you a little, reminding you to eat. “Are you aware of what they do?”
You took the spoon that was on the tray and decided to taste the soup, it was warm, as if it was recently made, and it was good. “Deliverance seems to have the same effect as Perpetual Surrender, or something like it. Disarray though… No idea. She can’t use them with me so I couldn’t get a taste of what they’re like. It’s not like I could use Diana with me but still, no harm in asking.”
“We’ll find out when we need to find out.” Kujo sighed, and it didn’t feel as if it was out of exasperation – he just seemed… Tired. The day was a long one and you all were very lost into what to do next, but he was still trying his best to keep his mind cold and relaxed, even under the situation at hand. He looked up to the ceiling, and then stood up. He tried not to but ended up stretching. “Please finish your food and try to rest.”
He was about to head towards the door, but you stood and took hold of the sleeve of his jacket. “Let me help you ease up. To thank you for taking care of me today. You didn’t have to and yet you haven’t abandoned me.” The words came out all the types of wrong, and you tried to rephrase it. “…I mean, I know Deliverance can destress you and help you sleep better, I can’t use it for myself but…”
Kujo smiled – soft, small, a little bit forced around the edges, but he smiled for the first time in the entire day, and you were blown away (he was indeed very beautiful). He had a few wrinkles besides his eyes, and they made him seem a little bit older, but other than that, his face, which was already a gorgeous face, seemed to become a marble statue just by the edges of his mouth turning upward. “If you don’t mind.” You didn’t. He was taking care of you. Somehow, you wanted to pay him back.
You called forth Daia the second you got his permission, and she flouted right beside you, looking at Kujo with an expression that was a mixture of gratitude and shyness. You wondered if those were Aya’s feelings or your own. Daia took Kujo’s hand between hers, and she began to glow. The essence of roses began to fill up the room, and Daia let go of Kujo’s hand, resting both her palms against his chest. It took just a second for her power to work. Deliverance worked slower than Perpetual Surrender, but it seemed to be more intense. Kujo stumbled a little when Daia returned to you, and you held him by the arm, trying to keep him up. “Let’s walk back to your room, Kujo.”
You offered to help him reach his room, which was exactly besides yours – and even though at the beginning he was trying to act as if he didn’t need any help, by the end of the walk he was leaning heavily against your side. “I’m sorry.” He told you, in the middle of your ‘small adventure’ from one room to the other. You looked at him, rather taken aback by the sudden apology. “I’m sorry we couldn’t save her.”
Now that he was more relaxed, he could speak the feelings that lingered deep inside of his heart. You shook your head – you were sorry too, but it wasn’t his fault, nor it was yours. It was Kira’s. “Don’t be – I don’t blame any of you for Aya. I blame Kira… And I’ll make sure he knows just how much pain he has caused.”
The two of you reached Kujo’s room, and he opened with his key. You wondered if he would be able to reach his bed on his own, but he didn’t let you ask, separating himself from you as soon as the door was opened. He probably wasn’t comfortable enough with you yet to let you enter his room, which was understandable. “Goodnight, Kujo.” You smiled at him and bowed slightly.
He bowed too, his eyes almost closing against his will. “Call me Jotaro.” Was all he said before he closed the door. Ku – Jotaro… Seemed to be a strange fellow. He wasn’t good at expressing himself, it appeared. It made you smile. In his own bizarre way, he wanted to help you feel better, which you appreciated. You made your way back to your room, the hallway completely silent. The moonlight shone through the two windows between Jotaro’s room and your own. You looked outside – and the full moon shone over the sky with a unique strength. “Aya, I’ll avenge you.” You whispered – Daia appeared beside you and nodded. You wondered if she missed being Aya, or if she missed being Diana. “We’ll avenge her.”
“Yes… We will.” Daia, with her soft double voice, replied to you, with your same conviction.
The night was long, and lonely. You hated the feeling of void that you felt in your chest when you reached your room and closed your door. You hated the tears that streamed down your face when your head touched your pillow. You hated the endless darkness that welcomed you when you closed your eyes to sleep.
You hated that the last voice you heard when you finally fell asleep was Aya calling you lovely one more time, one last time.
The next day, you were surprised by just how relaxed Ku – Jotaro… seemed to be. Even though in his face you couldn’t really tell any difference, his shoulders were less tense and his entire being was just… Shining (perhaps, that was just your perception). You never got to see your clients the next day, so you wondered if these were the effects of Diana’s original power. You used Perpetual Surrender with Koichi and he just seemed slightly less agitated than he usually did. Maybe that was just because he was a very anxious kid, and he didn’t really follow any instructions that you usually gave to your clients after a session with Diana.
It didn’t matter though, you were just content to see that Daia had such a strong effect – Perpetual Surrender could only last fifteen minutes if there were no complications, such as Koichi’s guilt; but Deliverance seemed to have a long-lasting effect which would help against Heart Attack, if you ever came to face it again.
Koichi, Jotaro and you were waiting by the park for Okuyasu and Josuke to arrive at the park – they were a little late. You chuckled at the memories of your teenage years, Aya would wait for you at the front door of the school for the two of you to go eat something together, then she would return to work until five; sometimes, however, you would be late because you wanted to see what your crush was up to before leaving the school, and Aya would get extremely pissed because you made her wait for twenty minutes. Your giggles turned into a sigh; if you went to your apartment today, your sister’s room would be empty, and she wouldn’t be in the kitchen cooking some ‘healthy’ food for you.
You felt a hand on your shoulder – Jotaro’s hand was becoming a constant support, which you deeply appreciated. He wasn’t looking at you, which was also normal, but in his silence, you understood that he was trying to comfort you.
In the distance, you saw both Okuyasu and Josuke coming, and they were both running and out of breath. They probably overslept. “We’re sorry!” Josuke panted out. “I overslept.” You guessed it.
You chuckled – if you’ve understood the family situation that both Jotaro and Josuke were in, they were somehow related, and it showed in their physique, but not one bit in their character. Jotaro was the opposite of Josuke. Your giggle called Josuke’s attention, and he scratched the back of his neck while blushing, wondering, without really asking, what did you find so funny. You covered your mouth, still a bit amused. “You look so alike to Jotaro, but you’re so different, that’s all.” Your smile turned into a sad one. “Family is just that way, isn’t it? Well, let’s go to Kira’s house!”
And so, you all went, Jotaro and you slightly behind the teenagers. They were talking excitedly, even though the situation was dire – the way they all laughed made your heart rumble; they were so innocent, you wanted to protect that. “They’re good friends, aren’t they?” You whispered just loud enough for Jotaro to hear. He nodded, a phantom of a smile lingering on his lips. “Young friendships, huh? They’re fast to form and if well-cherished, they’ll last a lifetime.”
“I’ve never been too kin to keep many friends.” Jotaro kept the conversation going to your surprise. “But those I have, I would do anything to protect.”
“You do seem like the type to have trouble making friends. I think back in high school, I would’ve been afraid to hangout with you.” You laughed a little, and Koichi turned his head around to smile at you, confused by your sudden outburst. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh that high.”
Koichi shook his head and returned to his own conversation with Josuke and Okuyasu. “Afraid?” Jotaro asked, a bit amused, when the teenagers were distracted enough not to pay attention to the two of you.
You nodded. “Aya was a very protective sister, she would turn on the TV back on our apartment and she would see news about gang members, and she would tell me ‘not to get close with anyone who looked shady’. No offense, I know you’re not like that, but you look like you used to be in a gang.” He rolled his eyes, but he didn’t seem bothered in the slightest. “Were you, though?”
“I got into a few gang fights, but I was never in one.” You hummed, that made sense. If he wasn’t the type to make friends, he wouldn’t had gotten along with any gang members.
“Heh, so Jotaro kicked some gangs’ asses?” Josuke turned around with a grin on his face. “I can imagine you looking all cool while beating some punks up.” You giggled and nodded in agreement. “Old man told me you used to say, ‘good grief’ a lot.”
“I really can’t imagine Jotaro fighting people like that, he’s just so calm.” Okuyasu joined in the conversation, and it seemed as if all the teenagers were more focused into yours and Jotaro’s conversation than their own.
You looked at Jotaro, and he seemed to be thinking on exactly how he was going to take the attention off himself – did he not like to be on the spotlight? You clapped your hands together. “That reminded me, did I ever tell you about the time Aya busted some guy up that was trying to peak underneath my skirt on a train?” The surprised, collective sounds of the teenagers made it easier for you to take the attention off Jotaro. “Yeah, I was still just in high school – my last year, maybe. Aya was sitting down and I was standing just before her, it was really crowded but I wasn’t going to make my older sister stand up for me. The guy took hold of my skirt and pulled it all the way up until my undies showed.”
He was a very nasty guy, now that you remembered. You shivered at the memory and the disgust. The teens’ gazes were intense on you, waiting for you to continue the story – they seemed to be curious of Aya’s aggressive tendencies, since she seemed so tender. “Aya took his hand and called Cinderella. Her power was supposed to be changing physical appearance of a person, but Aya used her to attack him. She pierced his arms so much that he had to be sent to the hospital – pretty sure she also got one of his eyes.” Your finger went to your lower lip as you tried to remember more details, but that was as far as the memory went. “Aya is…was… kind until you gave her a reason not to be.”
Koichi, Josuke and Okuyasu then began to speak about their own experiences with crazy strong females, letting go about Jotaro’s past at long (short and unappreciated) last. You smiled up to Jotaro, and he nodded to you, gratefully.
It wasn’t long before you all reached the Kira residence. It was an old, traditional Japanese home. The entrance was painted green, as well as the ceiling, and the walls were painted white. When you all made your way inside, you realized that the house was extremely tidy. There wasn’t a single speck of dust on the floor or in the air. You touched one of the white walls while the others went ahead to explore the rest of the house. A kitchen, the living room, the bathroom, restroom, etc. The house had such a curious structure – the designs of the furniture were very minimalistic. There were a few pots with flowers, and on the garden a rosebush. The floor was wood, probably oak, and so was the furniture.
There was a cabinetry next to a door that led to the garden. You knelt on the floor beside it and opened it to see what was inside. Most of the drawers were empty – but one in particular had a book with a picture of a child on the front. Jotaro came beside you not soon after as you discovered it was a photographic album. “He seemed like such a normal child.” You mentioned, as you passed through the pages.
Jotaro was intrigued by the pictures, he was inspecting each one of them. “Kira Yoshikage, 1.75 tall, weights around 48kilos, son of a pair of older parents…” You didn’t know if he had previously investigated Kira, or if he was able to tell so much information just by looking at his pictures. However, being able to remember that much information was impressive anyways, whatever the case might be. “We need to keep looking, there must be something inside the house that can be used.” You nodded and left the album alone on the cabinetry. On a storage bench on the other side of the room, a potted plant and a polaroid camera rested.
You got close to the storage bench, to look closely at the camera – just for it to take a picture of both you and Jotaro, on its own. “Huh?” You got closer to it and picked up the picture, it still was dark, so you couldn’t see it. “Jotaro, this camera went off by itself.” He came closer to you and looked down to the polaroid. You swung the picture side to side, trying to reveal the image – it was beginning to appear. “It’s us too… Wait.” There was a shadow on the edge of the picture that didn’t seem to belong there. “Huh?” The clearer the picture became, the more you began to realize. It was a man, and old man. You turned around, but there was no one on the spot. “Jotaro! There’s… A ghost?” You didn’t know if you were surprised, or what.
“Yes, indeed, I am a ghost.” The… The picture replied to you, and if it wasn’t because your Stand had evolved in front of you because of your sister’s soul and because Reimi was a very real person as well, you would’ve had a heart attack. “I’m not going to let you hurt my dear Yoshikage!” It was truly commendable that the ghost was still trying to protect his son, even after death; there was some respect to have for the older man.
Jotaro, who was beside you, looked down to the picture, and indeed, there was a ghost there, the ghost of Kira’s father. Your trembling hands began to rip a bit of the picture, but Jotaro held them to stop you from going any further. “Very wise from you – I control the reality of this photography! If you try to hurt me, you’ll only end up hurting yourselves!”
“If he can only domain the space of this picture then…” You walked towards the exit of the room – but the moment you were outside, you ended up on the inside of the room again, on the other side. “H-Huh?”
“This is a pocket dimension.” Jotaro said on a low voice, and you felt yourself beginning to panic.
“Now I’m just going to cut your heads off!” You didn’t know if he was able to interfere with you and Jotaro but you weren’t valiant enough to contain the shriek that left your body. You looked down to the picture and saw the old man taking a knife from the storage bench and cut the heads of both you and Jotaro from the photography.
The scream called Josuke’s and the others’ attention, and they were soon running to the room; when they tried to enter, the same that happened to you happened to them, they appeared just outside the room, in the hallway that led to the garden. “What’s going on!” Josuke asked, confused and stressed. Jotaro didn’t lose any more time, he acted just as a knife began to ascend from the real storage bench.
“If he can only control the spaces of the picture...” He took the photography from your hand, and with the polaroid camera, he took another photo to the photo – damaging the original polaroid with the intense light and trapping the man in another photography. “There.” And before the man could even think on doing anything else, Jotaro broke the polaroid camera. Josuke and the others came running to the inside of the room once it was safe and made sure both you and Jotaro were alright.
The old man could still stick out his hands from inside the photography, so Jotaro was about to surround him with tape, but you stopped him with your hand on his forearm. “Let me ask him a few questions first.” He looked at you, both concerned and intrigued, before he passed you the photography.
“We don’t need to ask him questions, we already know that there’s something important in this house, that’s the only reason he came out…” Jotaro tried to reason with you – but there was a thirst in your heart. For vengeance. Even if it this was nothing but Kira’s father, his father allowed his monster of a child to go around killing and even covered up for him – you knew he was aware of what Kira was doing, that was why he wanted to protect him. If it wasn’t for him… Perhaps your sister would live.
You held the photography between both your hands. “Tell us what’s Kira hiding.” It was more a warning than it was a question. He didn’t answer. He tried to bite your hand. “Ah, I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” You began to fold the photography, listening to the pleas of the old man.
A pair of voices inside you whispered something, voices that weren’t your own telling you what to do next. “Disarray.” From within you came Daia – and the old man screamed with an intense and agonizing pain. Everyone in the room seemed confused, but you weren’t.
You realized what Disarray was capable of.
It was terrifying. You were able to peak someone’s anxiety to the maximum, making them feel constantly as if they were having a panic attack. Not being able to tranquilize themselves and every minute that passed by, they would become more and more hysterical. It was the opposite of Deliverance.
“Tell me what your son is hiding in this house and I’ll stop.” Your voice turned one octave lower – you brought the picture close to your face. “I can keep this up… And I swear that I’ll make you go insane – can you imagine? Spending the afterlife hearing voices in your head? Oh, poor sweet old man…” You made Disarray stronger, and the screams became higher and higher. “What’s that? More?”
“I’ll talk! I’ll talk!” You smiled sweetly – lowing the power of Disarray slowly, then passing the picture to Jotaro. When he unfolded the photography, the old man was crying, sweating and was drooling. “Kitchen.” Was all he said, and half of you went to the kitchen to investigate, while the other half stayed behind to check the rest of the rooms.
“That’s a terrifying power.” Jotaro told you as the two of you walked to the kitchen. “It’s directly messing with the enemy’s emotions. That could be tortuous to experience. How did you realize that was Disarray?”
You coughed a little. “Winged it, actually. It was pure assumption and a lot of bluffing that ended up on my side – there was also the voices of Daia in my head helping me. Daia told me that Disarray was different to Deliverance, so I just thought it had to be the contrary. Glad it worked in our favor.” Jotaro didn’t seem too pleased with your explanation. Maybe ‘winging it’ wasn’t the best term to use. “I’m sorry.”
“No, don’t be. It helped with the investigation.” You reached the kitchen, and there was a lot of drawers and cabinets to investigate. It was a slow process, opening one cabinet, seeing it was empty, closing it up, checking another, nothing as well. The only spot on the kitchen left unchecked was one storage bench right beside a window – it had just two drawers. You opened the first one, and it was empty.
The second one, though… A bow, and an arrow. “Jotaro…” You called Jotaro, that was still checking the other parts of the kitchen, and he came by fast. “Would this be it…?” The conversation was interrupted, however, by Okuyasu’s scream and a photography coming up flying and biting your arm, making you let go of the arrow and taking it. “No! Daia!” You called for your Stand, but the old man moved faster due to the wind, getting off your range and getting out of the house. “No!” There was nothing you could do; none of your Stands had enough range to reach the photography. Kira’s father had gotten out of the shock surprisingly fast; was that the power of the love he felt for his child?
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry! It was my fault!” Okuyasu came into the room with his eyes almost teary, and you felt so bad for him. He was just a boy for all this stress. You were about to tell him that he wasn’t at fault, but Jotaro intercepted the statement first. “No, it wasn’t your fault, Okuyasu. We just lost to this family’s will to live.” Familiar love, huh… You looked up to the sky, the picture already disappearing. Love.
You would show them love. The type of love that kills. There was a question still lingering in you, though. “What was that arrow?”
All the Stand Users in the room turned to see you. “Weren’t you shot by one like that?” Josuke asked. You shook your head. “Ah, natural-born. That arrow can create Stand Users.”
You nodded while humming, understanding. Then, the realization struck you like a truck, and you didn’t want to scream, but it came out louder than you originally intended. “He’s going to create allies!”
Koichi was sweating bullets. “Allies for his son…”
There was a feeling of doom in the air. You were not going to lose. You couldn’t lose. Morioh’s happy future and peace depended on it. Your hands became fists at your sides – you would show them what true love was meant to be. You swore on your life.
At night, you were still staying at the Grand Morioh Hotel – and it felt as if you were leeching from Jotaro’s money at this point. However, you couldn’t try and go out to the world, since your account was frozen due to criminal investigation, and your house was still dangerous because you didn’t know if Kira would be able to find it. So, you sat on a chair besides the window of your restroom, simply staring at your reflection.
You called forth Daia, who instantly materialized, flouting beside you in a sitting position. “Can you take hits?” You asked her, and she shook her head. She was beginning to be more aware about her limitations, as were you. “What’s your range?”
“Around seven meters.” Ah, so it was a medium-range stand. You nodded and looked back outside. It felt awkward to simply make her dematerialize, so you allowed the silence to linger between the two of you for a bit longer. “Do you miss Aya?”
You didn’t think a Stand was capable of understanding feelings, even though they were born from the human will… or at least that was what Aya once explained to you. So, to have such a blunt question be asked to you by your Stand, who shared part of your sister’s soul… It was strange, to say the least, and saddening. “Yeah, why?” You looked at her, and Daia looked down to her hands.
“I think she misses you too.” Ah, that statement made you even sadder. You closed your eyes, letting the coldness of the crystal against your head clear your thoughts. “Do you want to leave Morioh?” She asked, ever so innocently. Of course, it was innocent, it was an entity that was just born. Diana grew with you, but Daia wasn’t Diana, nor was her Aya.
“Once this is all over… Maybe. This town is filled with good memories and lovely people, but I don’t think I can be alone here. So… maybe.” You raised your hand to the ceiling, as if trying to reach for something that wasn’t there. “I probably will leave. After all is said and done.”
Daia nodded, and then went back to her silence. It was probably time for you to call her back to within you, but it didn’t feel good… to be alone. With Daia, even if she was an extension of you, you felt a presence in the room that pulled you out of your dark thoughts. “You’re going to have to deal with those emotions, sooner or later.” Ah, so she was able to tell what you were thinking.
“Later. I’ll deal with them later.” You whispered, and you knew she could listen. You stood up and began to stretch. “I wonder if Jotaro is awake.” It was a naïve question, born from your desire to have company. ‘Friends’… You didn’t have any. You were too preoccupied with Cinderella – with making Aya’s dream come true. You had acquittances, but people you trusted? People you sincerely loved? Perhaps you should’ve dedicated yourself a bit more to it. Perhaps you should’ve asked your crush out, but… It was never right, it never felt right.
Daia hummed, then, she vanished.
You blinked twice, you did not order her to come back. “Daia?” She reappeared seconds later, smiling. “What was that?” She didn’t reply, but a knock at the door did you the favor of doing so. “Did you…”
“Seven meters.” She replied, and then vanished for real, dematerializing against your will. The knock at the door persisted, and you couldn’t do anything but answer. Jotaro was there, both without his hat and without his jacket, and he seemed to have come running from his own room.
“Are you alright? Daia came to my room suddenly and—” You simply nodded and allowed him inside your room.
“I asked if you were awake, I hope she didn’t wake you up. She has a will of her own, seems like Aya influences many of her actions.” You sighed. “I’m sorry that she scared you.” Jotaro shook his head, clearly relieved. It seemed that your Stand didn’t give him any explanations, she simply appeared and almost gave him a heart attack. “Do you want to sit?”
He took your offer, sitting on the sofa again. He seemed to be a man of habit – it was the second time that he sat on the same spot when the two of you were alone. “Do you want coffee? Or tea?” That was such a casual, domestic question. After a long day working, you’d ask Aya if she wanted tea, or hot chocolate. She’d always say yes to tea. The memories were overflowing you tonight, and Jotaro seemed to realize, looking at you with worry; silently reading you. You smiled at him softly.
You hadn’t known him for long, but… He was like a place of comfort for you. In his silent demeanor, he always tried to be the best for everyone around him. When people needed space, he would give them space, and when they needed company, in his calmness, he’d kept them company.
“I would like coffee, if you don’t mind.” You nodded and went to the coffee machine that was over one of the tables in the spacious hotel room. He was drinking coffee late, but you weren’t one to judge. “Why were you wondering if I was awake? I was, anyways. I was working on my thesis.”
“You’re studying? Ah, I didn’t mean to pry. Sugar? Cream?” You went for two cups, if he was going to drink coffee, so were you.
“One of sugar, please. And yes, I’m doing my doctorate in marine biology.” For some reason, you expected him to be a detective or the like, but a biologist seemed to be the perfect fit for him. You imagined him in an aquarium – with his usual white jacket that would reflect the blue of the tanks, and his hand over the crystal, wondering about the animal he would be looking at. “There are a few species in Morioh that are very unique to the area.”
The edges of your mouth involuntarily went upward. “Yeah? Keep telling me.” The soft bubbles of the coffee machine made a very comforting sound, and the smell of the coffee made you feel warm, full. “What have you seen in the beaches of Morioh?”
You went to him with a tray and two cups of coffee. Instead of sitting on your usual spot, you sat on the sofa beside him and gave him his coffee.
He took a sip of his coffee and, you saw his eyes wander away as he began to speak about a random stingray he saw that was white and immense and he just couldn’t get it out of his head because it was so big, and he just didn’t understand how it had gotten so huge without been killed because it was an albino. You heard him ramble and ramble away in his own little world about how beautiful the colors of a marine worm were and how strange it was, and about a jellyfish that was the side of a nail that was so poisonous that it could kill you in five minutes. You couldn’t help but get lost in the way his eyes shone. He loved the sea, so immense and mysterious, profound. He talked about it with love – so much emotions he didn’t bother to hide away due to the shyness. It was so… enchanting, to see him like this.
“… And all of this is in Morioh’s sea, the ecosystem here is wonderful.” You were brought out of your mind when he looked at you, as if expecting for a reply. You laid your head against the backrest and nodded. “What else have you found?”
He was sincerely so excited, talking about the life underneath the ocean, that it made him seem even younger. There was an anemone that was unique to a certain area in Morioh’s cost. He spoke about a strange glow that shone around it at night. You wondered if he went diving at night. He probably did.
By the time you remembered you had to sleep at some point, it was almost midnight. The two cups were empty, and Jotaro and you simply sat in the quietness of the hotel room, after he finished speaking about the language of the whales.
He stood up, stretching a bit before straightening his back entirely. “I think we both need to rest. I better go.”
The next sentence you said, you didn’t expect to say, but it came out anyways. Maybe you didn’t want to feel the same void you felt the night before’ perhaps your need for company was greater than your pride.
It was a small plea for company, you didn’t want to be alone today. If he decided to go anyways, Daia would return. The case was that you truly didn’t want to be lonely (you didn’t want to think of the allies Kira would get, you didn’t want to think of your sister’s death, you didn’t want to listen to your own voice inside your head) – not after Kira’s father had gotten away. You expected him to turn down the invite, at the very least say a vocal denial – but all he did was walk out of the room. He didn’t even say goodbye. Too much to ask? Maybe. Perhaps he was already tired from your constant nagging. You sure hoped not, though – how were you going to look at him in the eye tomorrow?
You sighed and stood up to close the door, but Jotaro came back inside of the room just as you were about to slam the door shut. “O-Oh, welcome back…?” You tried to contain the dumb smile that wanted to paint your face, but you honestly couldn’t. He gave you a small explanation about closing his door and checking if everything was fine back in his own habitation.
There wasn’t even a discussion of who would have the bed. The two of you simply sat on the sofa and talked for a few more hours until both fell asleep – It didn’t feel unnatural, nor did it feel awkward. You simply didn’t want to leave Jotaro alone, and he didn’t seem to mind the company. You weren’t sure who was the first one to fall, if you or him, and in the end, it didn’t really matter.
When you woke up in the morning, the two of you were resting against the two arms of the sofa. Jotaro was still asleep, and to your surprise, he wasn’t frowning. Perhaps it was the tiredness from staying awake until late. He was leaning against the arm, his hair bewildered and freed. One of his arms was behind his head, above a cushion, working as a second pillow. Maybe that was how Jack felt when he saw Rose laying in the sofa, completely naked in Titanic? It had to be a similar feeling, seeing a person so gorgeous and completely exposed and vulnerable in front of you.
You sat on the couch, careful not to wake him up – you didn’t want to disturb his sleep. It was a rather calm morning, there were no sounds of cars in the distance. You stood up, and went to the coffee maker, making two cups. While you waited for the coffee to be ready, you went to the bathroom to brush your teeth and fix yourself a little. Waking up from sleeping in the sofa left your entire being a little sore and your face looking a little bit less than presentable. There were bags under your eyes from the bad night, but they were better than you expected.
The sound of the coffee maker announcing that the coffee was ready got you out of your mind. When you came out of the bathroom, Jotaro had his eyes slightly opened, but he was still laying in the couch in the same position you left him. “Good morning.” You told him and went to him with a cup ready – but you didn’t remember how much sugar he liked his coffee with, so you added two small spoons, just in case. “Want some?”
He nodded and sat up. He held the small warm cup and took a sip. His face instantly morphed into a grimace, and you knew you made a mistake. He didn’t stick his tongue out just because it was going to be ‘uncool’ but, he was very close. “Sweet…” Jotaro whispered.
“I’m sorry, I added two of sugar. I can make you another one if you’d like. I would offer mine, but I take it with three of sugar.” You scratched the back of your head, and he shook his head, taking another sip of the sweet coffee, grimacing again, but this time a little bit less obvious.
“If you take your coffee with three of sugar, it barely tastes like coffee anymore. That’s dessert.” That was true, it was more sugar than coffee, but so early in the morning after spending the night speaking, you needed more sugar in your system to keep investigating. “I’m going to meet with someone from Speedwagon Foundation, would you like to come?”
Speedwagon Foundation? The petroleum enterprises that became a research laboratory? “You work for SW Foundation?” Was the first thing that left your mouth. Of course, you should’ve assumed so, the name ‘Joseph Joestar’ should’ve come to your mind sooner – he was the CEO of the Speedwagon Foundation! “I mean, if you wouldn’t mind.”
“I don’t. I’ll come get you in half an hour.” You nodded, ready to go wherever you were needed. He looked at you up and down for a few seconds, and you noticed that you hadn’t changed out of your clothes last night – you hadn’t gone to your apartment since the incident, so you simply had been repeating clothes and sleeping without them – but since Jotaro spent the night over you didn’t change out of them. “Did you bring more clothes with you?” The question wasn’t ill spirited, but it made you feel a little ashamed to shake your head. “I’ll lend you a few shirts.”
“You don’t really have to, I can just go to my apartment and look for clothes…” You looked down to the floor. It was nice that he was looking out for you, but you didn’t want to abuse, something that you already felt you were doing – he spent the night in your hotel room, for God’s sake; just because you didn’t want to be alone! Now you were going to take his shirts?
Jotaro stood up from his spot on the sofa, and you felt his hand on your shoulder, his fingers tightening his grip around your clavicle. “I don’t know how much information Kira is able to recollect from his subjects, and he already seemed to have a fixation with your hands, I would prefer to avoid as many causalities as possible and I’d feel better if you didn’t go close to your apartment for the time being. For your own sake.” He was right, and you knew he was right. You reluctantly nodded – the dangers of the situation were true, and as such, it wasn’t wise for you to return to your apartment just yet.
You hated the feeling of uselessness you had inside your chest.
Jotaro’s turtlenecks weren’t your perfect fit, but it was better that going around with just a pair of jeans and a sweaty shirt. It was indeed the weekend, you confirmed so in the reception of the hotel, and as such, the streets were emptied from the usual student turmoil and the people on their way to work. Jotaro and you walked side by side on the streets of Morioh, and he hadn’t disclosed where the meeting with the person of Speedwagon Foundation was supposed to be – but the two of you seemed to be heading towards the beach. “What do you want the Speedwagon Foundation to investigate, Jotaro?”
“From the man’s build, I can gather that he must’ve been at least 30 to 35 years old – I want most information that can be gathered about the men in that age range. That’s what I asked to investigate for today. Kira is still Kira, underneath the new face. At some point, he’ll commit a mistake and that will lead us to him.” You nodded, that much was true. He was still the same serial killer.
“You’re right. I just hope we’re not…” Late. You didn’t want more people to die needlessly. Your sister had her entire life stripped from her, Shigechi and Reimi too. You sighed, feeling a coldness in your stomach. Anxiety. Perhaps if you had run a little bit faster, you could’ve saved Aya. But you were late. You just wished you wouldn’t be for another person. “Anyways, I’m surprised about the amount of people that’s at home today, why would that be? Morioh is filled with youth, but everyone who is outside today is at least in their forties.”
He nodded, not really commenting anything on the subject. He was probably too concentrated into some other thing to really pay attention to your random comment about ages. Because of last night, you’ve forgotten how hard it truly was to keep a conversation going with Jotaro. He seemed to be unable to keep it going if there weren’t subjects of importance to the situation at hand. It was fine though, for some reason, it didn’t bother you to continue to walk silently.
Your eyes did end up going to his figure though, more than once. Jotaro had a very strong build, he was tall, taller than most people you’ve met. He had a very strong jawline, and his eyes were of a very distinct color. You couldn’t really tell if they were green or if they were icy blue. “You’re staring.” He turned his head to you. “Is there something wrong?”
Wrong? Yeah. Wrong. “I was just thinking on how much Josuke looks like you.” You took the cheapest of the excuses you could find from your wagon and let it out. If he bought it or not, you didn’t know, but he didn’t pursue the subject further. Ten minutes went by and you two reached the beach and sat down in one bench that was very far from any tourist. To anyone that was walking by, you two simply seemed as a couple taking a stroll on a Saturday morning.
Five minutes passed, and then a man in a very particular suit sat behind the two of you. You assumed he was Speedwagon Foundation’s informant. Jotaro was the first to speak, in a very low voice. “It’s safe.” He probably meant your presence. It was rather obvious that you were no enemy, if you meant any evil, you would’ve done something by now. The conversation was kept short and sweet, the informant barely uttered two or three sentences before he passed the two of you many archives of every single man in Morioh between the ages of 30 to 35. “Investigate about the disappearances, too. But for that information I’ll require an investigation of one month.”
One month? He was going to wait one month? You were about to intervene, but you were shut up by Jotaro’s eyes. It was better to remain quiet. The man with a very strange suit said his goodbyes, and as he appeared, he vanished into the small crowd that was beginning to form in the beach. Once he was gone you decided it was time to speak. “A month? An entire month? Did you even have the patience to wait for a month? You waited for the SWF informant to vanish before you threw Jotaro the inquiry. “How many lives are we losing in a month Jotaro?” You asked the most important question first.
“We can’t expect him to act instantly.” He was looking at the horizon. “I know this may sound cold, but to catch him we need to wait for him to make a move. We don’t know where he is, and we’re relying into his mistakes.”
“But… A month…” Other than your worries about any other person that may die in that month, you were also concerned about your situation. You wouldn’t want to depend on Jotaro and his kindness for the entirety of one month. “I’ll return to my apartment, then.”
Jotaro sighed; you already knew this was going to be a long, long conversation. “We talked about this in the morning.” He explained. And yes, that was true – but still, you were depending too much on a man you had met a few weeks back. You didn’t like the idea of coming back to your apartment, but you also didn’t like the idea of living off Jotaro until the killer was found.
“If I become a target, I can defend myself. Josuke, Koichi and Okuyasu are also endangered. My accounts are frozen due to criminal investigation, but I have canned food at home… I can’t keep doing that to your money. I don’t know you, not that I think you’d held this against me, but I don’t feel comfortable doing this.”
The frown he always had in his face (except when he was sleeping) became even deeper. It was true that the two of you didn’t know each other well enough, but the fact that Kira killed Aya made Jotaro uneasy. How much information could’ve had gotten out of Aya? In her desperation she might’ve mentioned her sister; and Kira was meticulous, he would tie loose ends. Knowing that Aya had a stand meant that her sister probably did too, if he had realized that Aya was a natural-born Stand User. There were too many probabilities of things that could go wrong, but… he didn’t need to ‘care’ about such things… You were an adult, and as such, you had enough common sense to know what was right or wrong – and yet, here he was, worrying over someone he barely knew. “Okuyasu, Josuke and Koichi have Stands strong enough to defend themselves.”
That was true, your Stand wasn’t meant for a direct confrontation. If you found yourself cornered in a dangerous situation, you would probably end up dead. “I’m… Sure I can defend myself if such situation comes to happen.” That was a lie. An obvious lie, at that.
“There’s also the possibility that Kira believes that you have the same power as your sister, he’ll hunt you, just in case, to make sure someone else switches his face.” That was the end of the argument – you didn’t have anything against that statement. There was a possibility that Aya left out your name when she thought she was dying, there was a possibility that she spoke about her sister out of mercy’s sake, and not knowing if the sister possessed a stand ability, Kira would hunt you down. Even without knowing you were Aya’s sister.
You sighed. “I don’t want to depend on you. I don’t want you to waste your money on me.” It was sincere. You didn’t feel right about it.
“Then, I’ll make it easier for you. From today on, you’re working for Speedwagon Foundation in the investigation about the Serial Killer. The Hotel Room and the food expenses will be your payment. You’re now officially an agent of the SWF.” Jotaro stood up and offered his hand to help you stand.
Dumbfounded, you took his hand, and he helped you up – the moment you were standing, he continued to hold your hand, and began to shake it. The contract was closed. “W-What?”
“You’ll help us, so let us help you.” You couldn’t do anything but nod, and he graced you with one small, satisfied smile. Jotaro had just given you a job, just to keep you safe – and that made you remember your crush back in high school – the way your heart sounded like it was about to burst from inside your chest. For the next hour that you spent walking around Morioh, you couldn’t look at Jotaro in the eyes.
You felt incredibly indebted to him.
When you reached the Grand Morioh Hotel, the two of you went directly to Jotaro’s hotel room, he told you that the two of you would read all the archives that were sent by the SWF. His room was almost the same as yours, but in the coffee table there were a few seashells. You sat on the sofa behind the table and took one of the seashells between your hands – it was pink, with a few blue tones. “You like to collect seashells?” You asked Jotaro as he entered the room and closed the door.
“My daughter likes seashells.” Your stomach fell to the ground – daughter? Jotaro was a married man? Of course, he was. He was too beautiful to be single (lucky whoever managed to get the ring in his finger though...). “My ex-wife asks me to bring her some when I visit her.” The hard rock that had fallen on your stomach lifted almost instantly. You looked down to hide up the blush that was beginning to spread out on your face. You felt Jotaro’s eyes on your figure, but you acted as if you didn’t pay heed to them. “Anyways… Here’s the half of the archives. I’ll read the other half.” He settled down the group of papers right in front of you, then he sat on one of the chairs in front of the coffee table.
You took the archives, reading each one of the pages slowly and meticulously. Since Morioh was a small town, they weren’t as many men between the ages of 30 and 35 as you thought – however, it was enough for you to take the entire day reading. You and Jotaro spend the time silently, sometimes you would hear a noise of Jotaro writing a note, and other times you would hum lowly as you read. By 7p.m. you had a small headache from reading, and a cup of coffee in your hand that Jotaro had given you. So many names and so much information and not even one of them seemed suspicious.
“Do you want to take a break?” Jotaro’s voice brought you out of the many, many words. You didn’t even hesitate, throwing the papers over the coffee table. Jotaro coughed, but it appeared as if he was trying to cover a laughter. “I’ll take that as a yes.” You’ve read too much for one day and that was enough. “Do you want dinner? I’ll call room service.”
Your stomach growled. You two had something to eat in the afternoon, but you tried to eat little to avoid getting sleepy after finishing the food. “Yeah, I’m hungry. What will you get?” You laid yourself in the couch, feeling your back stretching. Jotaro didn’t answer right away, as if thinking. Beside the phone was a small menu with the things that were available, maybe he was reading it.
“I’m going to get a steak, rare.” He finally answered. You looked at him and he was indeed reading the menu, the phone still plugged. “Do you want to see the menu?” His eyes left the menu and went to you; you nodded, standing up and going to his side to see what they could cook in the kitchen. You looked at the menu while Jotaro was still holding it.
Honestly, you didn’t care much about what you were going to eat, you just wanted your growling stomach to calm down. You rested your head against Jotaro’s shoulder as you continued to read – for a second, he tensed, but the stress on his body was short-lived. You were slightly happy that he didn’t ask for you to keep your distance. “I’ll have a pasta.” You signaled him with your hand to what type of sauce you wanted; then you decided to take a step back, leaving him be. Jotaro’s eyes were covered with his hat, and you wondered if you’ve overstepped your boundaries. You didn’t know why you had the strange need to touch him – even though you barely knew him; earlier today the two of you spoke about how little you knew about each other and yet, here you were, resting your head against his shoulder, acting as if you ‘were his friend’. “I’m sorry, maybe I should go.”
You were about to turn your back on him to pick up the archives and go away, but you felt a hand on your shoulder that stopped you. “It’s alright, you didn’t do anything wrong.” The thing was more psychological than you thought – Jotaro was slightly aware of what was going on. In your sadness, you were looking for a place of comfort, and you found that comfort in him. He didn’t mind, he knew how hard it was to lose a person close to your heart, and as such, he could comprehend your need of company.
Your bottom lip trembled slightly. “I’m not your friend.” You told him. “And yet, you slept in my room yesterday when I asked you to and allowed me to hug you when I was crying – got me to work with the Speedwagon Foundation so I wouldn’t feel like I’m a dead weight. But I’m not your friend. We’re strangers.” That was a fact. “I’m just too friendly, and you’re too kind for your own good.”
There was a silence.
His hand didn’t move. And you felt yourself becoming more and more agitated each second that passed. “You’re not wrong, we’re not friends.” Hearing him say that was hurtful, but necessary. “But we’re joined by grief. I know it’s like to mourn alone, I lost a group of good friends once, and I didn’t know how to let out all the anger and frustration I felt. You lost your sister.” You felt a punch in the guts. “And the last thing you need is to feel like you don’t have anyone to rely on.”
You felt inadequate. Relying too much onto him, and yet you couldn’t help but seek whatever comfort he was willing to give. “I’m sorry. I want to be your friend.” You whispered, your eyes filling with tears. You didn’t want to feel lonely. “But I don’t want to force you into taking care of me.”
Jotaro’s hand finally moved, letting you go. “You’re not forcing any of us. If you were, do you think I wouldn’t tell you?” He had his back turned to you when you looked at him. “Let’s have dinner, then we can keep reading the documents.” You sighed. You didn’t know if you were relieved or if you felt even more guilt. One thing was for certain, the Joestars didn’t seem like they would abandon you if you needed them.
The month passed in relative normalcy. Sometimes, you would wake up in the middle of the night crashing in Jotaro’s hotel room’s couch with a bed sheet over your body, and the archives you were supposed to be reading on the coffee table. Some other times, the two of you would wake up the next morning in your own hotel room’s sofa, having fallen sleep while talking about the men that you thought were strange from the number of archives you were given. Yeah… the month was spent in relative peace. ‘Peace’ meaning that no one was killed and that the Stand Users that you all had to face were defeated.
There was one Stand User that surprised you; the one with an incredible sense of smell. That was when you met Kishibe Rohan (not that you didn’t know who he was before… But meeting your favorite mangaka in such circumstances was rather special, his power was so very fitting for his ‘unique’ personality). Other than those particular events with Stand Users, you spent your month investigating alongside Jotaro, or even on your own. Sometimes you would wander around the city – but you couldn’t find anything extremely interesting. Each person seemed as equally innocent as they looked guilty. Kira could be anyone.
So, you were happy to be on your way to the beach once again, to see the papers of the disappearances. Jotaro was walking beside you, and at this point, it was strange to see one without the other. Some old ladies, sometimes, whenever they saw you on your own, would ask you about that tall fellow that they see with you all the time, and you couldn’t help but blush because they assumed, he was your lover instead of your friend. And honestly? You weren’t sure where in the spectrum of friendship did the two of you fall – whenever he was stressed, you tried your best to bring him down from his peak, and whenever you were sad, he tried his best to keep you distracted, either by soft touches on your shoulders or arms, or by speaking to you about the sea and his discoveries of the beyond.
It became a dance. One you weren’t too used to having. One Jotaro didn’t want to make easier and yet, there you were, the two of you, ‘dancing’ on the uncertainty. And to add to the spice of the incertitude; you were staring at Jotaro the entire way to the beach. He had gotten used to your staring, and no longer you used the excuse of how similar he was to Josuke. You two had spent an entire month with each other (you knew the way he drank his coffee in the morning – you noticed how he used to go around his hotel room without socks, how he liked to call Jolyne at least once every three days at eight in the morning, just before she went to school), so there was not real point in lying; you simply shrugged if he ever asked, and told him the truth. That you thought he was beautiful.
The first time it happened, it was around twelve in the morning and you two were still reading reports. You stopped reading for a few minutes, and just looked at him as he sat on the chair where he usually sat in his hotel room. The only lights that were on where the ones beside the couch, barely enough for the two of you to continue to read – they reflected on his skin, making him look like a sculpture. His long, rough fingers holding the slightly yellowed paper, his other hand scratching his chin lightly.
His eyes abandoned the paper, and they looked at you. He asked what you were looking at, and you were sincere. Your gaze went back to your paper, so you didn’t look at his reaction, but you told him that you thought he was beautiful. The conversation died there, but he didn’t shy away from you afterwards, nor did you shy away from him.
And so, the dance continued.
The two of you reached the beach and sat down in the usual bench – summer was in its midst so there were much more tourists, but all of them were too distracted with their own fun to notice the two of you taking a sit, waiting for a man in a suit to make his appearance. “Kujo, Tsuji.” He called the two of you with a small voice. He sat on the bench that was on the other side to the one you both were sitting, and he passed on discreetly a few archives. Way less than you expected. Of course, Kira was trying to contain himself – he wouldn’t go around killing people if he was trying to blend in. Jotaro passed you the archives for you to check, while he talked with the informant.
You looked through them, checking most of the names. Some were females, some were males – most of them seemed to have run away from home, and due to their ages, it wasn’t as surprising. Once or twice did Aya think of running away from your aunt, but never did because she didn’t want to leave you. You checked where they were last seen. There were a few that picked your interest. There were two that you thought were the most mysterious…You didn’t even notice when the informant was gone, only brought out of your thoughts by Jotaro. “What do you think?” He asked, looking down to the papers that you were holding still.
“Most of these girls look like runaways, but it might be good for us to check on them. The ones we should check first are the ones who were seem close to apartment buildings instead of the airport or train stations.” You pointed out four of said cases. “Look, these are runaways that are still in Morioh for sure.”
Jotaro nodded, standing up and helping you. “What about these two?” He signaled two girls that were seen in two different parking lots, close to the arcade.
“They could’ve gotten a car and that’s why they were in a parking lot, but honestly I’m not too sure. Close to that arcade there are a few residences. Maybe we can scout the area and see if we can find them. In any case, we can also ask around people to see if they can recognize any of them.” You were extremely happy, this was your first big lead. Your heart was pulsing heart inside of your chest – but that same feeling of exhilaration was mixing with dread. As much as this was a lead, it also meant one of these girls had to die for it to point you in a direction.
“Let’s go then.” You nodded rapidly, and your first stop was on the shopping district.
You asked about one of the girls that was seen there – and you mostly dedicated yourselves to asking the shop owners, since they were the ones who were always around the zone. By twelve in the afternoon, the two of you had localized two of the girls – they both were living on their own on apartments of one person, and the two of them were safe and willing to speak. None of them knew any other of the girls, but one of them had seen another one walking around the working district at around 6 o’clock. Morioh was small, so you weren’t surprised. The girl’s names were Hanako and Ai, and Ai had seen Fumi walking around the working district.
Fumi was easy to find – she was pregnant and crashing at a friend’s because she didn’t want her family to find out. It was a rather hard situation the one she was at. You couldn’t really find any advice to give her, but you told her to trust on her gut feeling. If she thought it was dangerous for her to be at home, and if she wanted that baby, then it was fine for her to keep hiding. The next few girls were a little bit harder to localize, but in the end, all of them were safe. By 8, you just had one more person to check. Her name was Minako. For what you two were told, she was a runaway living with her boyfriend.
“They’re living on a one-person apartment. I used to live with Aya in one when we just moved here, but it was very uncomfortable. We used to share a bed and all.” You told Jotaro as you walked down the streets, nights in Morioh were very as you expected from a town filled with young people. Filled with life in the bars and young love all around. “There, I think it’s on the third floor.” You pointed towards a grey apartment, seemed to be recently painted.
Jotaro looked down to his clock, it was almost 9. The apartments were very silent as you two made your way upstairs. The door of Minako’s apartment was slightly open, and the lights were turned off. You knew something was wrong the moment you saw that. You were about to touch the door when you were stopped by Jotaro, who used Star Platinum to open the door. “We don’t want to leave fingerprints.” That… was true. You hated the possibility of it being a new murder case.
The apartment was empty, the kitchen was filled with utensils as if someone was about to cook something. “They…”
Jotaro pointed in the floor, a single drop of blood. “They’re dead.” He finished your sentence. Minako and her boyfriend were both gone. And her family, the one who filled for her disappearance, would never understand what happened to their dear daughter. “Kira made his move.”
You inhaled deeply, trying to remain composed. “I… I think he lost it.” Your voice trembled. Only a few particles of the people that used to be here remained. They were no more. Gone, like Aya and Shigechi. “He wouldn’t have left the door open and that drop of blood, if he hasn’t.”
“You’re right.” Jotaro went to the door, opening it with Star Platinum. Underneath the balcony, you could see a few people walking around, and to you, they all looked the same. All of them could be Kira, and all of them could be not. “I was happy earlier, because the first lead with had were the disappearances, but just know I realized how useless they truly were.” It felt rather like an empty victory. You were able to slightly read Kira’s movements, but you weren’t fast enough. “Jotaro, this place gave my sister and I a place to call home. Once this is over, I’ll look for another place to call my own. So, I can leave all this behind me.”
He shook his head. “I don’t think we can ever leave this behind.” But if you were far, you wouldn’t have to be constantly reminded about it. Once Kira was done, you’d move out of Morioh. You still needed to settle a grave for Aya, and you still needed to sell the apartment, but you’d go away. To seek a new dream, a new life. “Let’s go, we need to inform the others about what we’ve found.”
You nodded, not really feeling all that well. You called forth Daia, and she closed the door of the apartment where Minako… Used to live.
The way to the Grand Morioh Hotel was quiet. You almost couldn’t hear the voices of the pedestrians around you, every sound was muffled. Minako was a beautiful girl, with her hair blond and her long neck and slim figure (she would’ve lived a long live). She seemed to be difficult, or so said his father to the police, but he thought she was a good girl. Everyone would wait for her to return home, and how could you tell someone that their daughter was nothing but dust? Reaching the Grand Morioh Hotel, you saw both Koichi and Rohan standing in front of the hotel, Rohan leaning heavily against Koichi.
You didn’t think before you ran up to them; checking Rohan to see if he had any injuries. “What happened to your back, Rohan?” You asked worriedly, looking at his deep wounds. “Let’s go to my room, let’s call Josuke.” You didn’t even give them time to explain, you turned your head around to look at Jotaro, who understood what you meant and helped you to held Rohan. The look you got from the receptionist was between confusion and panic, and Koichi went to handle her. The sentences ‘he fell down some stairs’ and ‘He’s a doctor… kind of’ were all you could hear from down the hall. Once you were inside your room, Jotaro went to your phone and called Josuke.
Now all you had to do was wait. You looked at Rohan, who was sitting on the sofa and tainting it with his blood – you didn’t worry about the sofa, Josuke would fix it. “Your back is completely torn apart, Rohan. What happened?” He was pale, and he seemed to be in a great pain. You called forth Daia, and with her you used Deliverance in Rohan – careful to use just enough to soothe his pain until Josuke arrived – since his wounds weren’t as life-threatening, you managed to keep him at bay. He seemed to be grateful, even though he was still in pain. Koichi entered the room, then, with a satisfied smile. He probably managed to get the receptionist off his case.
“There was a Stand on me, Koichi helped me get it off but…” It still managed to get him hurt. “Reimi told me something, she found this child strange.” Just now did you notice that Rohan had a notebook with him. Koichi headed to Rohan, and took the notebook from his hands, and opened the page the mangaka probably meant.
“This one.” Koichi said, and he pointed a child that was filming a group of people. “One of the persons in this group is his father. His name is name is Kawajiri Hayato. Reimi noted that this man.” Koichi pointed at a black-haired, well-built man in the same picture, and then at one of the photographs that Rohan had taken from him alone, underneath it, his name. “His name is Kawajiri Kosaku.”
You held the book. That was one big lead, if it turned out to be correct. “Why would a child be firming his own father?” Your voice was filled with a strange hopefulness. “You… Rohan… Thank you so much.” There was the hope you’ve been waiting for the entire month. Someone to point your finger at. Someone that would pay for your sister’s early demise. You brought the book close to you, to your heart. He would pay, for everything he had done to Morioh. For taking away Aya’s life and dream. He would pay.
The door slammed open, and every single Stand was out except for Rohan’s, and each of you were in a fighting position. When you realized it was just Josuke with Okuyasu, you took one of the cushions of the sofa and threw it to them. “Do you know the meaning of knocking!” Josuke caught the pillow and hid his face behind it. After the fright passed, your shoulders relaxed, and you grinned at them. “Please, would you mind healing Rohan? We’ve got good news.”
“We’ve got some news too.” Josuke got close to Rohan, who had fallen asleep due to Deliverance. When Josuke realized he was still breathing, he proceeded to heal him, but after healing, Rohan didn’t wake up. “He’s breathing, why isn’t he waking?”
Jotaro stepped close to you, and his hand was on your shoulder as he took Rohan’s notebook from you. “Daia’s technique, Deliverance. Rohan fell asleep due to it. Doubt he’ll wake up anytime soon.” It was true, Rohan was probably extremely stressed from the experience and after all that stress left his body, he probably was exhausted. “What news did you bring?”
“We found two new Stand Users. One is a Transmission Line.” Josuke explained. “It was rather dangerous, if you stepped inside you would be caught forever if the other person steps out. I would much rather stay away from that place. Forever.” He seemed rather blue on the face, and you knew you probably shouldn’t laugh, but it was just such a funny expression that you couldn’t help yourself. “Hey, hey, don’t make fun of me… And let me finish.”
“Sorry, sorry… It wasn’t my intention.” You raised your hands in submission
“The other one was a man that could turn you into paper if he saw what habit you had when you were afraid…” That was a power you weren’t expecting. It sounded extremely dangerous, and your fear must’ve shown in your face because Josuke quickly added “I turned him into a book, don’t worry.” You let out the breath you didn’t realize you were containing and turned to Jotaro, to let him explain the current situation on your side of the coin. He did, and the expressions of everyone in the room became slightly cheerier. It was a lead, a real lead. Everyone felt the excitement, one step closer. You only hoped that it wasn’t a feeling that would be taken away from you. You wanted to hold onto that hope so hard that it would break. It was a feeling shared along everyone in the room.
Josuke got close to Jotaro, looking down to the picture of Hayato. “I know that school uniform, we can meet on the street in front of the Pepsi’s board, right before the school’s district.”
You inhaled, feeling a strange coldness in your stomach. It was both excitement and fear. “It can be a dead end…” You told to yourself. You felt two hands on your shoulders, and realized they were Jotaro’s, the notebook forgotten in one of the chairs of the room. Koichi was looking at the two of you with a mixture of emotions. It was wild to see Jotaro showing emotions and open contact with someone, but then again, you two had spent a lot of time together – and Jotaro was more prone to express himself by his actions more than his words. You blushed lightly and looked down to your feet, deciding it was better to simply not meet anyone’s eyes; yet, you allowed the hands on your shoulders to remain there, feeling the warmth of Jotaro’s body close to you and filling you with confidence.
“If it’s a dead end, we’ll just continue looking.” Jotaro’s voice was strong and clear, and it made you believe, without a doubt, that you would find Kira, no matter what.
You were sleeping in the bed of your hotel room for the first time in a long time, always crashing on Jotaro’s couch or sleeping on your own sofa with him. It was 7:00a.m. – and you knew Rohan was sleeping in your sofa, or at least, was supposed to be. When you opened the door to the living room, you found a small note written with a very distinct handwriting. ‘I can’t believe the great Kishibe Rohan fell asleep like this. Thank you for letting me stay the night, though. See you at 8:30’.
The only thing that surprised you more than him calling himself ‘great Kishibe Rohan’ was that he was able to retain the information about the meeting. You wondered if the note counted as an autograph, and if crashing at a person’s hotel room instantly made it too awkward for them to sign an autograph for you. You shrugged, called forth Daia. “Go wake up Jotaro, please.” Daia nodded happily and vanished. You were sure Jotaro was awake, but you liked the idea of waking him up in the mornings anyways.
While Daia was waking Jotaro up, you took a quick shower and brushed your teeth. You were nervous about meeting Hayato, but you didn’t want to forget the essentials due to nervousness. Daia appeared soon after, with her smile and golden eyes shining. “He’s already up. He’ll be here soon, though.” You nodded and giggled. “Why are you chuckling?” Daia landed in the floor, giving a few steps towards you.
“After spending a month with him, I’m pretty sure I’ll miss him when he goes away.” The thought hadn’t even crossed your head, but it was true. He would go away, he was going to leave Morioh behind, and you were probably not going to hear from him again. You weren’t planning to stay on Morioh either way, so the only way for you and him to communicate would be lost. “I guess that’s just life.”
Daia didn’t reply, then. But her eyes didn’t leave your figure. You prepared two cups of coffee and added one sugar to Jotaro’s. When he knocked at the door you opened it up almost a second after the first knock and didn’t even let him salute before giving him his coffee. “Thank you.” He bowed his head a little and took a sip. “It’s almost eight, we should probably get out now.”
You took one deep breath, feeling your heart rumble inside of your chest. “Yes, let’s pick up Koichi on the way too. Let me call him so he goes to the avenue.” You went to the phone and called to Koichi’s home. His mother was the one who picked up, and you had to exchange some weird introductions of ‘I’m one of Koichi’s teachers and I need to speak with him, I’m sorry for calling so early’ and the like. You were lucky that mistress Hirose seemed to be as naïve as her son. When he picked up the phone, you told him to meet you in the avenue, since his house was close to the hotel. “Alright Koichi, we’ll see you in around five minutes.”
Both of you were on your way to the four-way street before the school district that had the Pepsi sign – and it was a tense walk. Even Koichi joined you, the conversation simply didn’t seem to fluctuate normally. You were too stressed thinking about all the circumstances that could result from meeting Hayato. The street was close already, you were probably going to be a bit late to meet Rohan, but it was fine, he was probably still rather tired, anyways. You looked down to your clock, it was 8:29a.m. “Rohan’s going to get so pissed if we’re late.” Koichi sounded as if he wasn’t in the mood to deal with Rohan at all – they were honestly such a strange pair of friends.
“After spending a month with him, I’m pretty sure I’ll miss him when he goes away.” The thought hadn’t even crossed your head, but it was true. He would go away, he was going to leave Morioh behind, and you were probably not going to hear from him again. You weren’t planning to stay on Morioh either way, so the only way for you and him to communicate would be lost. “I guess that’s just life.”
Daia didn’t reply, then. But her eyes didn’t leave your figure. You prepared two cups of coffee and added one sugar to Jotaro’s. When he knocked at the door you opened it up almost a second after the first knock and didn’t even let him salute before giving him his coffee. “Thank you.” He bowed his head a little and took a sip. “It’s almost eight, we should probably get out now.”
You took one deep breath, feeling your heart rumble inside of your chest. “Yes, let’s pick up Koichi on the way too. Let me call him so he goes to the avenue.” You went to the phone and called to Koichi’s home. His mother was the one who picked up, and you had to exchange some weird introductions of ‘I’m one of Koichi’s teachers and I need to speak with him, I’m sorry for calling so early’ and the like. You were lucky that mistress Hirose seemed to be as naïve as her son. When he picked up the phone, you told him to meet you in the avenue, since his house was close to the hotel. “Alright Koichi, we’ll see you in around five minutes.”
Both of you were on your way to the four-way street before the school district that had the Pepsi sign – and it was a tense walk. Even Koichi joined you, the conversation simply didn’t seem to fluctuate normally. You were too stressed thinking about all the circumstances that could result from meeting Hayato. The street was close already, you were probably going to be a bit late to meet Rohan, but it was fine, he was probably still rather tired, anyways. You looked down to your clock, it was 8:29a.m. “Rohan’s going to get so pissed if we’re late.” Koichi sounded as if he wasn’t in the mood to deal with Rohan at all – they were honestly such a strange pair of friends.
Finally, you saw Rohan’s car in the distance. The door was wide open. You found that strange. Beside the door, a kid stood. One that you had the tingling feeling that you’ve seen before. You ran towards the car, and saw that Rohan was nowhere to be seen. The child seemed very upset from some reason. “Hey, dear. Have you seen the man that was driving this car?” You knelt beside the child; he had red hair, and some freckles. His eyes were of a strange brown hue – and they were damped. Was he crying? Why? “Are you feeling alright dear?” Jotaro and Koichi soon joined you, and they were both holding a copy of the photography of the child you were supposed to interview. Ah, so that was were you’ve seen him before! “Hayato?” You turned to see the child, and he began to run, only to be caught by Jotaro.
You caught Jotaro’s hand with your own, and brought Hayato back to you, making him spin around so he was facing you. “We won’t hurt you, we just want you to answer a few questions, would you, please?” You called forth Daia, to try and calm the child with Deliverance. It seemed to work, but when his stress was gone, he began to cry even harder than before. He was holding in so much, you didn’t understand what was wrong. Josuke and Okuyasu joined you after two minutes but didn’t manage to excuse themselves because they were too distracted by the child crying. “Why are you crying? What’s wrong? You can be honest with us…” You told him your name, and where were you staying, to see if you could get across the message that he could trust you.
He turned around and crouched – you tried to hold him in your arms, bringing him back, but then you realized he was holding a razor to his throat – and the razor was held back by… Killer Queen. “Now that you see me, it means that I’m already inside of your eye. It’s too late.”
Your body began to crumble. Everything went dark.
“It’s almost eight we should…” The phone interrupted Jotaro – and both of you were slightly confused. Who would be calling you at your hotel room? You picked up the phone, both curious and dumbfounded. “Hello?”
“Miss Tsuji… It’s Kawajiri Hayato.” You covered your mouth to conceal a gasp. “I’ll be one street before the Pepsi board.” He whispered on the other side of the line and hung up. You didn’t even finish processing what you were told when you ran towards the door and took Jotaro by the arm, having no time to explain. You didn’t know why you trusted that call, you didn’t know what you were hoping for, but you ran, pulling Jotaro with you.
“What’s going on?” You heard Jotaro behind you, but you didn’t know what had just happen. You just turned your head around and replied to him with all the confidence you had on your system. “Trust me.”
You felt your entire body drained of energy from running so fast. There was a man standing right over Hayato – and he screamed “I’m Kira Yoshigake!” And Jotaro didn’t need any more explaining for your sudden outbreak. You called Daia, and without waiting for the man to realize that you were there, you activated Disarray – making the man fall to his knees. “Jotaro, it’s on you.” You told him softly. He ran two meters ahead of you and…
When time returned to normal, Kira Yoshikage was on the floor, bleeding, almost dead but not quite there yet. Hayato was kneeling close to who would be his father, and you took one step towards the crying child. “Hey… Hey… Hayato…” You ruffled his hair. “It’s fine. You’re fine now.” You didn’t expect him to hug you, but he did. You hugged him back, calling forth Daia to calm Hayato down, while Jotaro looked down at Kira, who was unconscious. “How did you know this was going to happen?” You asked the small child. He sobbed and tightened his grip.
“I didn’t.” He cried in your arms. “But you told me where you were staying, and I trusted you.” You did? You didn’t remember telling anyone that you were staying in the Grand Morioh Hotel. “He’s not my dad… My dad… He was killed by him. Please, please let this stop.” You turned your head to Jotaro, and you wondered if he planned to finish the job or what was the next step to be taken. He was a serial killer, but none of his kills could be confirmed by the law. Perhaps Reimi’s, but it was so long ago… “Miss Tsuji, please, don’t let him hurt my mom.”
Your gaze fell to the child that you were hugging. “I won’t, he won’t go anywhere near your mom anymore.” You wondered how you were going to deal with this… If necessary, you would kill him yourself. You knew how you could do it… But were you able to live with the life of a man hanging over your head? Some people would call it Divine Justice.
“Jotaro… I’ll stop his heart.” Hayato was still sobbing between your arms, and honestly… His trembling body, and weak cries were the primordial reason for your decision. If Kira walked free from court… He would simply continue with his killings. You couldn’t allow it. You called Daia again from the depths of yourself – and she materialized right behind you, looking straight to the unconscious body of Kira Yoshikage. “Deliverance make someone feel at peace, lower their heart rates and their body temperature. It can make you feel well… If used with enough willpower…” You breathed in and breathed out. “These ‘beautiful hands’ will deliver you to Hell.”
Daia touched Kira’s chest. You felt your Stand energy fluctuating around you. You were going to kill a man. You were bringing justice to everyone who lost someone to him. You were bringing justice to the small child that was crying in your arms. “Deliverance.” You felt his heartbeat reducing underneath your own fingertips; you felt his skin turning cold – you kept pushing, you didn’t let go until you were sure his heart was completely void of all movement. You would kill him – he would die by your hand. By the hand of your Stand. You kept pushing on and on, until you were sure he wouldn’t be able to rise anymore. He was gone.
Josuke, Okuyasu, Rohan and Koichi came down the street around three minutes later, and they were asking what had happened. You didn’t answer, still having Hayato between your arms. Jotaro explained what transpired, or at least, an idea of what had happened, and asked Josuke to fix Kira’s body. It would appear as an accident. A heart-attack. Justice was served. You felt nauseous from your own actions, but you knew it was what needed to happen. Kira needed to die for Morioh to be at peace.
You looked down to Hayato and smiled weakly. “Your mom will think it was a heart-attack. You two can be at peace now and begin anew. I’m sorry we couldn’t save your dad… We’ll call an ambulance. Wait for it and go with him to the hospital, where they will pronounce him dead. This way… You’ll have some closure.” He nodded against your chest. You felt sorry for him, you didn’t know what he had to face, and even with Deliverance under effect, he was still traumatized and saddened by what he had experienced. “You and your mom will be fine, I promise you.” You lowered your head until your forehead was touching his scalp. He was a smart child, of course he was going to be fine.
Now that Kira was gone for sure, there was one last thing that Morioh owned to someone. A farewell to an angel. And quite the farewell it was. Even the ‘great’ Kishibe Rohan cried as he saw the beautiful Reimi sailing to the skies, to the great unknown along with her dog. She looked beautiful as her gaze met with every Stand User that helped with the process of capturing and eliminating Kira; and continued to look beautiful right until the point where she vanished in the infinite horizon. Your heart broke for that beautiful young soul that met her demise so young; she finally was at peace.
Kira Yoshikage was dead. However, the man that was pronounced dead was Kawajiri Kosaku – Hayato’s father. It made things easier for his household, his mother was able to comprehend the circumstances better than if her husband just disappeared. You kept in touch with him, you didn’t want to him to feel alone. He lost his father, and that wasn’t easy – you asked him for his number, and once every few days, you would call him, just to check if everything was alright.
In Morioh, though, everything kept moving, the summer went by like every other for most people – a funeral was held for Kosaku, and none of you really went, not because you didn’t want to, but because it was a time for a family to mourn the loss of a person (even if that person wasn’t exactly who they thought he was). At least, Hayato’s mother got closure.
Okuyasu, Koichi and Josuke were back in school – and they were in the normal schedules at last – were they happy about it? No, but you were sure they would appreciate it in the future. Yukako was dating Koichi, and the other two were as single as they could be. You thought Okuyasu probably was hurting more than Josuke in that aspect, though.
Cinderella was officially closed, you weren’t going to open it again. You were standing right in front of the building – the signboard was dirty, probably the man that bought it was going to destroy it, maybe make another shop. You didn’t know. Aya wouldn’t like that, but Cinderella was her dream, not yours…
As for Rohan, you asked him a small favor. He was happy to oblige. He simply told you to come visit him occasionally after all was said and done; he wanted to see what your life was going to become. You agreed. You wanted to see all of them again, not soon… But someday. Someday you wanted to return. To Morioh. The place your sister called a home.
There was a grave with her name in Morioh’s cemetery; there was nothing buried, but at least there was proof of your sister’s existence in the town, the town that she had grown to love as her own; you went and settled flowers one last time earlier in the morning. You checked your pockets. The important things were with you; your password, credit card, and a paper with everyone’s number, including Hayato. Everything else, you left behind.
You knew what was going to happen today, and you hoped you were in time. You took one deep breath; and leaped forward, running towards the harbor. You saw Josuke standing tall and laughing while holding a wallet in his hands – just by the edge of the dock. He was screaming goodbyes. And you knew to who. You smiled at Josuke as he saw you, throwing yourself off the port towards a boat that was in the distance.
“Daia!” You screamed as you reached the edge of the harbor. Josuke was both surprised and confused as you jumped up and made Daia held your hands a throw you to the particular boat – Jotaro’s and Mr. Joestar’s boat. “Miss Tsuji!” Josuke screamed.
Mr. Joestar and Jotaro were looking at you, and you swear that was the first time you’ve seen Jotaro surprised. “Star Platinum!” He called his stand, and you were exactly five meters away. Star Platinum caught you when Daia let you go, and he seemed as confused as his user. You hugged the Stand’s neck and laughed, completely unapologetically – you knew Jotaro could see your smile. Once you reached the floor of the boat, you saw two men with an open mouth, and a baby laughing. You heard Josuke’s voice in the distance and saw him dumbfounded in the distance. “I didn’t think this was how you were going to confess!” He screamed, and Jotaro’s eyes went from him, to you – a question lingered in Jotaro’s gaze.
“I… Might’ve fallen for you. Honest to God? Since the first moment I saw you walking in Morioh with your damn jacket.” You pointed at him. “And I was going to miss you, and either way I was going to leave Morioh… So, I asked Rohan to write in me the courage to do this. I know this may be one-sided but, I wanted to follow through with this crazy idea because, hell, I don’t even know.” You laughed awkwardly and scratched your head. You weren’t looking at him, you were looking at the ocean – wondering if it was too late to throw yourself on it. The few seconds of silence that followed, you were seriously considering throwing yourself at the sea – but Rohan’s ability wasn’t letting you.
What you felt next, however, made your heart roar. The two arms around you, you knew well enough to recognize. He had given you an endless amount of support when you needed it the most. Jotaro’s hug felt asphyxiatingly strong, and you welcomed him, you hugged him back, feeling grateful to be engulfed in his essence. He smelled like the sea.
Mr. Joestar laughed, and he bounced the baby girl up and down in his arms. “Well, I’ll leave the two of you to settle a few things on your own.” He went inside with the baby in arms, and you felt your face burning. You had completely forgotten that Mr. Joestar was there when you uttered your excuse of a confession.
After a few minutes of silence, the adrenaline was beginning to leave your body. You felt a wave of nausea from the nervousness, and you separated yourself from Jotaro, covering your mouth. He smiled – full blown, completely open and without restrictions – and you’ve never seen a man more beautiful in your entire life. He massaged your back while the nausea passed; it was probably a mixture of motion-sickness and the anxiety of what you just did settling. “There was a much less dramatic way of doing this.”
You chuckled, feeling another wave of nausea. “I can say I ‘jumped’ at my chance. Not many people can say they did, literally.”
“Heh, I guess so.” He shook his head, the phantom of a grin still lingering on his lips. “It was a last-minute decision, wasn’t it?”
You truly didn’t want to say it was, because you made Rohan write you courage… But it was. Since you were still thinking about the possibilities. Having courage doesn’t mean you will always follow through with what you wanted to do. You needed to do the last push. Jumping off the harbor was that last push. “It… might’ve been. I was still deciding. But Josuke saying goodbye to the two of you made it hard for me not to jump – I wanted it to feel righ—"
It was then when he took your face with his two hands, and kissed your lips softly, chastely. Your words were eaten away by his lips. Your face was bright red and your eyes wide open. “That felt right.”
It did. And when his hand found its way to yours, it felt right, as well. There was a chance for a dream of your own, it seemed.
Chapter 2: Gentle Words
You and Jean-Pierre were childhood friends - almost family, if you were sincere. You loved him, and you'd walk through hell for him, if he asked you to.
There's a lot of French here ppl; and I don't speak French xD my first language is Spanish, the French is taken from Spanish translations.
1. mon ami, je suis désolé - My friend, I'm sorry.
2. Nous le trouverons. Je te le promets. - We'll find him, I promise you.
3. Je sais. Nous le trouverons. Je sais que oui - I know. We'll find him. I know it.
4. Et toi? - And you?
5. Chéri - Dear
6. je ne comprends pas le menu. - I don't understand the Menu
7. Nous sommes désolés - We're sorry
8. ne t’inquiète pas - don't worry
9. Ma vie - My life
10. Merde - Shit
11. Mais - But
12. Mais rien - No buts
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The sky was pouring, the day Jean-Pierre came by to your house, crying. He didn’t explain, he couldn’t explain, while he asked to be held by you, and all you could do was hug him while he let himself cry on your arms. You ran your hand through his silver hair and allowed him to sob his sorrows away and continued to soothe him when the two of you sat down on your sofa. It was so strange to see him cry. You couldn’t remember the last time he did – he couldn’t even shed tears when his mother died. He continued to weep for the next few hours, and you simply held him, not knowing what his tears meant. It was when he managed to calm down (just enough for him to be able to talk), that he told you; his sweet sister was pronounced dead, and that tomorrow she was to be buried. Her entire body so disfigured, he couldn’t even recognize her.
You knew Sherry – you’ve known the Polnareff ever since you were a child, when you and your mother moved to France. The news rendered you speechless, you couldn’t even ask what had happened, but Jean-Pierre didn’t need you to. He told you how she was violated, her innocence taken from her, and how he couldn’t protect her. The only clue he had about the perpetrator, given to him by Sherry’s friend – who survived merely by chance – was that the man had two right hands. Whilst the tears streamed down his face, Jean swore for all the Gods that he would find him and kill him to honor his sister.
You caressed his hair, and his head fell on your thighs as you allowed him to lay down on your couch. Jean cried himself to sleep, soothed away by the sound of your voice – telling him sweet nothings, whispering to him songs long forgotten by the two of you – and the rain pouring outside.
Once he was asleep, your thoughts drifted from him to Sherry. She was a wonderful young lady, beautiful as she was smart. She had a laughter that would make even the saddest of people smile in her presence. Even when she was but a baby, and you were over in Jean’s home with your mother, Sherry would smile with a toothless grin and her eyes would shine whenever you made a funny face, and you sincerely felt like she was your family.
You three grew up together, it was almost hard to remember a time in which you weren’t with the Polnareff. You saw Sherry the first time she walked; she came by to you whenever she liked a boy. You even helped her to fix a dress that was her mother’s, for a date she had with one of the guys of the village. You could almost hear the echoes of her laughter in your empty home; in the kitchen, when she used to come by to cook cookies for Jean-Pierre for his birthday, or in the sofa, crying over a character of some random book that Jean-Pierre got for her. You didn’t realize when you began crying, you only noticed when your hand went over your mouth, trying to muffle away the sound of your sobs.
You promised Sherry’s and Jean’s mother you would be there for them whenever they needed, and Jean made the same promise to yours when both met the same fate. A small resurface of smallpox took them, and the three of you were lucky to come out uninfected. You’ve failed half of your promise, unable to keep Sherry’s safe – and it must’ve felt like the world was crashing down from Jean-Pierre’s perspective.
“Jean, mon ami, je suis désolé.” You bent, until your lips touched lightly against his cheek. The feathery touch wasn’t enough to wake him, but his brows furrowed lightly, and two tears that he hadn’t shed trailed down his already wetted cheeks. “Nous le trouverons. Je te le promets.”
It was then when he opened his eyes and looked at you. The sadness in his gaze was so strong, so intense, you felt a physical punch in your stomach by staring into his eyes. “Je sais. Nous le trouverons. Je sais que oui.” You couldn’t hold his gaze any longer, so you opted to close your eyes and lay your forehead against his; while your fingers continued to tangle themselves between the strands of his soft hair. Your free hand found itself roaming on his chest, feeling his heart beating underneath your fingertips. The two of you stayed there, crying over the memories of Sherry.
From all the things you expected to do for the sake of Jean, the one you expected the least was to take an arrow to the heart – and it wasn’t in a figurative sense, as if you had fallen head over heels for Jean (which was already true), but in a literal sense – as in, you were about to be shot with an arrow. Jean and you spent two years looking for answers, for any clues that might lead you to the mysterious man with two right hands; said search ended up leading you to Egypt, in the most unexpected turn of events.
And now in Cairo, you stood in front of an old lady and a beautiful… extremely gorgeous, young man – both promising to give you information if you complied a single request. The beautiful, blond man was named DIO, and he had shown you a glimpse of a man with two right hands in a crystal ball whilst Jean-Pierre went looking for answers on another side of the bazaar. DIO promised he’d show you more, if you allowed yourself to be shot by an arrow, swearing that you’d live through the wound and would gain new power after you healed.
For some reason, the sweetness of his words made you believe in him – almost as if you were in a trance when you nodded and opened your arms, ready to take the arrow aimed at you. All because of Jean-Pierre and Sherry. The tent you were on was too dark, you almost couldn’t distinguish the figure of the old lady when she aimed her weapon towards you. Once it landed, the pain you felt was indescribable. It went right through your side. You tried to scream but a hand came over your mouth to muffle the sound – DIO’s nails were long, and they pierced through your skin – but for some reason, you couldn’t feel anything but stasis at his touch – even though you were sure his nails were drawing blood from your cheeks.
Not much time passed before the cloth from the entryway to the tent was moved to the side, letting in some light – making DIO’s fingers retreat. You would’ve fallen to the ground, if a pair of hands you knew too well didn’t come to your sides, holding you in place. You heard your name being called, and a question uttered, but the pain was too strong for you to be able to answer – or even listen; however, you knew the hands that were keeping you in place, broad and sweet; strong like none other. Your back rested against Jean-Pierre’s chest. Your consciousness began to leave you, while a conversation (perhaps a fight?) was beginning to happen.
The next moment you opened your eyes, you were in a dark room – where? You didn’t know. Beside your bed, a chair, and sitting on it was Jean-Pierre. He was asleep. The two of you didn’t usually share rooms – not as of late, at least, so it was rather unusual for you to see him… so peaceful. It had been too long since you’ve seen him at peace. You felt shame in waking him, but at the same time… he must’ve been staying in the room with you because of your wound… which, by the way, and to your surprise… was completely healed. “Jean?” You called for him. He twitched a little but didn’t rise. “Jean-Pierre Polnareff!”
That made the trick, he opened his eyes – grunting slightly as he asked for five more minutes; until he realized that it was you the one who woke him. Then he almost stumbled onto the bed and held you by the shoulders, bringing you close to him. “Are you alright!?”
“Oui, mon ami, je vais bien.” You smiled at him and caressed his cheek softly; he leaned into the touch, and you felt his thumbs drawing circles on your shoulders. “Et toi? What happened? Where are we? Did we get some answers?”
“I’m fine, do not worry. DIO allowed us to stay here until you recovered… he explained to me that you would do a full recovery, and that he used… that arrow, to give you a certain power. One that I know of.” He sat beside you. He called forth a being you’ve never seen before, an armored guardian – you gasped. “This is a Stand. The fact that you can now see Silver Chariot means that you can call forth one, too.”
You extended your hand, to touch Silver Chariot. He knelt in bed in an overly-dramatic pose, and once your hand was close enough, he took it, bringing it close to… what you assumed was his face. He ‘kissed’ your knuckles – just like a gentleman would. “Silver Chariot is charming.” You giggled, taking your hand off his. “… How do I call mine forth? If… If I have such a power.”
“It’s… rather hard to explain. First, you must breathe, and look deep within yourself… try to find something new, and yet, something that feels like… common, usual. Perhaps something that feels like home.”
Something that felt new… and yet… you closed your eyes, and brought your hands to your chest, feeling your steady heartbeat. Something different and yet familiar. In the darkness of your closed lids, something began to shine. It was hard to explain, hard to describe. When you opened your eyes, before you stood an androgynous figure – hair so long it reached the bedsheets, even though it was standing. Its skin was golden, and its eyes were black – perhaps empty? Was it blind? “… W-What’s my power?” You asked both Jean-Pierre and the strange being.
“With time, we’ll discover it.” Jean’s hand found its way to yours, underneath the covers of the bed. From his pocket, with the hand that wasn’t holding yours, he got a deck of cards. “Choose one, at random.”
“Huh? Jean-Pierre, pour que?” You did choose one anyways and looked down to it. “Les amants. The lovers, what’s that supposed to mean?”
“The name of your Stand, DIO told me how to name them. Yours would be… Golden Lovers. Chéri, that seems so fitting.” You felt his grip tightening around your hand.
You giggled. “Your silver tongue hasn’t gotten you many women lately, huh, Jean? Losing practice?” You brought your knees up and rested your head against them; Jean-Pierre looked the other way while he sighed. “You can at the very least act like you’re impressed.” He told you, with a sour look in his eyes.
“How long have we known each other? If my calculations are correct, I’ve known you for about seventeen years. I’ve given you relationship advise you big buffoon.” You smiled tenderly at him – if he was serious, you would fall right on your knees for him, but he wasn’t. ‘He’ wasn’t ready, anyways. You knew him too well. You turned your head to Golden Lovers, and it nodded, before disappearing. “What’s our mission, then?”
“There are enemies coming for DIO. We must be prepared to face them. He says the man with the two right hands will be with them. He just doesn’t know when, exactly, their journey will begin.” So, you two were stuck, until more information was revealed. “You should probably sleep a little bit more.”
As if a reaction to his comment, you yawned – realizing that you were indeed very tired. “Stay? Let’s sleep together. We’ve not done it in so long.”
He sighed, as he laid back in the bed, his head landing on one of the two pillows. “I’ve spoiled you rotten, douceur. You can’t just ask a man to sleep with you.”
“You’re not just any man, you’re Jean-Pierre Polnareff.” You laid your head against his chest, and his hands found their way to your scalp, caressing you softly. You drew circles in his pectoral with your thumb, and after a few minutes, Jean covered the two of you completely with the bedsheet. You fell asleep to the sound of his faint breathes and the subtle beating of his heart.
“Jean-Pierre, je ne comprends pas le menu.” The two of you were sitting in a restaurant in Hong Kong – and truly, you understood less than nothing of what the menu said. However, your mind wasn’t exactly on the words written, but in the group of people that was sitting three tables away. You knew perfectly who those people were… why? You didn’t remember… But you knew perfectly well who they were.
It didn’t matter, anyways — they all would die by Jean-Pierre’s hand today… that was the only certainty that you had in your mind. Last few months passed like a frenzy, not much of it made sense and everything was blurred. But the most important thing was that… today, Jean-Pierre Polnareff was going to kill these men. Jean walked up to them with a shy smile – you didn’t know when he had gotten so great at acting. You watched him as he tried to struggle with English, you were aware he spoke it perfectly. “I’m sorry… My partner and I seem to be having problems with the menu, we can’t understand it, would you mind helping us?”
Jotaro doubted him; told him to fuck off. Joseph didn’t and told his grandchild to calm down. “Who’s your partner? Let’s eat together.” Joseph seemed to be a kind spirit – if there was a chance of friendship, it’d be with him, in another life. Jean called you with a warm smile on his face; you stood from your table and walked up to him, his hand landing on your waist as he kept you close while he introduced you to the men. To them, you must’ve seemed like his wife, or something similar. Your fingers intertwined with Jean’s on your waist, selling the idea better that the two of you were two tourists that were at a loss with the language barrier. “Nous sommes désolés – we are so sorry; we didn’t mean to interrupt.” You told them. “I’ve been struggling with the menu for a while now and Jean isn’t helping.” Jean leaned close to you, his nose touching your temple, whispering apologies into your ear – all of it in the name of selling an idea of intimacy. You knew Jean-Pierre wasn’t going to be a coward and attack them without them knowing, too much of a gentleman for it, but the best way to approach enemies was to catch them off guard.
“Oh, mnnn… ne t’inquiète pas?” Joseph had a beautiful French accent, even if he was rather unsure of what he was saying – he probably knew few words here and there but wasn’t fully capable of speaking. “Don’t worry about it. Come on, bring two chairs, sit with us!” You smiled tenderly. If he wasn’t your target – one of your targets – you were sure you could grow attached to him, quickly. You two brought two chairs and sat with the group of men, and Joseph asked for a certain type of food you didn’t recognize the names of. “You’re awfully young, the two of you. Are you married?”
You didn’t have a ring on – but you could lie and say you left it back on your hotel room. It was perfectly reasonable to take it off in fear of losing it. “Non, non.” You decided to go for a safer bet. Your young age and your lack of ring was too suspicious, anyways. “We’re together, yes, but he’s too afraid to ask for the hand – I might have to break up with him if he keeps pushing the marriage away.” You elbowed Jean-Pierre playfully. He took your hand and brought it to his lips, kissing the knuckles softly. “I’m sorry, mon chéri.”
Kakyoin chuckled softly, and you looked over to him, smiling as well. “My mother used to be a lot like you. She gave my father an ultimatum. Either they got married, or it was over.” You snorted, and it was the most horrible sound – but it was totally something that you would do if Jean-Pierre and you were seriously together. “Oh, right, you did introduce your girlfriend, but what is your name? We heard her call you Jean, but that’s… rather impolite for us to call you your first name.” Ah, it was true, half of the people on the table were Japanese.
“You’re an idiot, mon amour.” You told Jean-Pierre. “His name is Jean-Pierre Polnareff. He’s French, born and raised. And I moved to France back when I was very young… too young to remember where I came from.” One is your hands found its way to Jean-Pierre’s. No one could see it, and it wasn’t part of the charade, but you did want to hold his hand. He didn’t protest, his fingers intertwining with yours. “What about you all? We’re all sitting on the same table, but we barely know each other.” You blatantly lied, feeling the tightening of Jean’s fingers on your grip.
The first to introduce himself was the Egyptian man. “My name is Mohammed Avdol.” He was very beautiful, his eyes sharp and his jaw strong. The next one was the ginger young man with gorgeous purple eyes. “My name is Kakyoin Noriaki.” His voice was very warm, and he seemed to be in his last year of high-school. You nodded to them, rather ashamed that this would be the last time you would talk to them all.
“My name is Joseph Joestar, and this quiet one here is my grandson.” The oldest of them all pointed at another young man with a hat – his gaze hidden beneath it. “He’s Jotaro Kujo, or Kujo Jotaro, if you want to go technical.”
You nodded once again – and just two minutes later, the waiter came by with the food. Which, honest to God, did not seem pleasing at all. There were frog legs — and yes, you lived most of your life in France, but that didn’t mean that the stereotype was correct… you detested the thing. Joseph laughed, and he was very polite when he offered to pay for all the food… to cover up for his own mistake in translating the menu.
One of the plates had a very cute star-shaped carrot. Jean-Pierre took it with his chopsticks. “What an amazing attention to detail…” You knew he was going to throw the bomb now. You looked down to your plate, filled with various less-than-appealing looking snacks. “You know? I’ve a friend with a fairly similar birthmark.”
You became hyperaware, then and there. You were pulled back by Jean-Pierre; the table was thrown over; Mohammed’s Stand was called forth, Jean-Pierre proved his abilities by cutting his flames. It was… a spectacle, really. Fireworks from up-close. The flames danced around Silver Chariot and… it was so enchanting. The flames created a clock on the table that was abandoned by the side of the restaurant. “Before that hand reaches twelve, you, Mohammed Avdol, will be dead.”
And thus, the first fight against the group of men began. Honor was a rather strange thing, for Mohammed asked to fight alone, and Jean-Pierre moved the entire group to the Tiger Balm Garden, so Mohammed was able to utilize his entire power (in the mist of the small walk, you realized the name of Mohammed’s Stand – Magician’s Red). You, because you respected Jean-Pierre’s honor and his gentlemanly ways, stood beside the group of men – Noriaki, Jotaro and Joseph. They turned to you, as you looked at your ‘lover’ fight with their companion. “Aren’t you going to join him?”
You smiled at them, kindly. “No. First, because I respect Jean-Pierre’s wishes, and he wants to face each of you on his own.” You looked down to your hands. “Second, my Stand isn’t meant to fight. I’d put my fist in my mouth trying to face any of you own my own. I trust Jean is capable, as much as you trust Mohammed is capable.” And if he wasn’t, you would throw yourself in the middle of the wildfire to get him out of Hell yourself.
You turned your head to look at the fight that was taking place before you. Mohammed was strong, but you knew Jean-Pierre was stronger. He had all your trust. “I thought the love you showed on the table was a charade… I don’t know about him, but you do love him.” That was Jotaro’s voice, and you turned to him, surprised. “I can respect that.” The blush on your face reached the tip of your ears. Love? No. It was all a charade; to protect DIO. To help him archive his goal.
You didn’t have time to love. “Why are you fighting us?”
That… was a fair question. Were you able to remember what was the reason you fought? It was an order from DIO. That was all the information you needed. Wasn’t it? Why did you and Jean-Pierre join with DIO to begin with? Your forehead began hurting slightly. “I… can’t? Remember? We… we were fighting. We wanted…”
Jotaro came close to you. “Don’t move.” You looked up to him; his finger slowly moved a part of your hair. You didn’t know what he saw, but he made an an annoyed sound with his tongue. “Kakyoin, would you mind holding her?” You didn’t know what was going on, and you tried to move, but your arms were surrounded by something… like a tentacle? You were about to scream, but a mouth came to cover your mouth. “Don’t, we don’t want to hurt you.” Jotaro’s hand came to your forehead – and the pain you felt only lasted a few seconds. Jotaro pulled from your head a parasite-like bug and threw it towards Joseph who used some sort of power to destroy it.
When it was gone… all your memories of Sherry resurfaced. The man of the two right hands. Sherry’s smile, her porcelain face, her sweet voice, the way she used to run in the backyard of your house back in France. Your eyes began to fill with tears. Noriaki pulled back his Stand, but he helped you keep steady with his hands. “Are you alright?”
A drip of blood fell from your forehead, you wiped it off with your hand. “P-Please don’t hurt Jean-Pierre!” You pushed off Jotaro and Noriaki. It was then when you noticed that Jean was on the floor, and that Mohammed had been victorious in their encounter. “Jean-Pierre!” He was burning. He was burning alive, a knife a few feet before him. You ran to him; he was almost unconscious. “Ma vie, mon chéri… it’ll be fine.” He smiled, even if burning alive was so painful. You ran to Mohammed. “Please, please don’t do this to him, please, please.” You begged him, almost on your knees, holding the material of his jacket. “He’ll accept his death – because he was weak, because he doesn’t remember why he’s fighting for – but I can’t accept it, he’ll never beg for his life, but I will for him.” You looked up to him, and Mohammed noticed the small drip of blood that was coming down from your forehead. He called off the flames from Magician’s Red.
“It was never my intention to kill him, belle. I supposed you two were under DIO’s control.” You touched your forehead, still dripping a small amount of blood, but you didn’t have much time to think. You ran back to Jean-Pierre and knelt beside him. “You… foutu idiot, bête!” You called forth Golden Lovers. Still as androgynous as it was the first time you called it.
Jotaro knelt beside you, his hands coming to Jean-Pierre’s forehead. “Let me take the parasite off first.” And so, he did. Jotaro held no doubt in his heart, as he got the bug-like parasite from Jean-Pierre’s brain. The moment it was out in its entirety, you touched Jean’s body, your hands on his chest. His wounds, ever so slowly, began to heal. “So, that’s what you meant when you said your Stand wasn’t meant for fighting.” Joseph’s voice came from behind you.
“Yes, Golden Lovers is only a healing Stand. I can’t heal any type of sicknesses, but I can heal wounds.” You sighed when you noticed that Jean-Pierre’s breathing was back to normal. “I’m so sorry… I remember now. I remember why we joined DIO.” You looked down to Jean-Pierre, who was now unconscious, but no longer hurt. “Jean-Pierre and I are childhood friends; we’ve known each other for long enough for us to be considered family. We even lived together for a while.” You began to explain your tale. “Three years ago, Jean-Pierre’s sister was murdered. I promised Jean that I would do whatever in my power to avenge her with him, to honor her death… and a year ago, that led us to… Cairo.”
“Cairo? You were looking for Polnareff’s sister’s murderer in Cairo?” Mohammed asked, crouching right in front of you. “What happened in Cairo?”
“We both found a strange, beautiful man. DIO. He… gifted me with this power. And he told us we would find the man that killed Sherry. But… as the days passed… our focus was lost... I couldn’t remember Sherry.” You caressed Jean-Pierre’s face. He twitched slightly under your touch. “None of you have two right hands, right?” You asked, and all of them put their hands up – that made you laugh, because it was such an innocent gesture from a group of big, and strong men that it seemed so out of place. “You’re… tellement adorable. I believe you.” You sighed. “We were lied to by DIO. That’s… that is who we shouldn’t had believed.”
Jean-Pierre recovered his consciousness a few minutes later, and he sat there, on the ground, confused. “Ma vie.” You called him. “We were lied to.” He looked at you, so lost and hurt, and you wanted to hug him so badly.
“But— DIO showed us…” You stopped him mid sentence, a hand landing atop his heart. “DIO showed us a lie, to get us on his side… The man— The man with two right hands is probably a Stand User, and he probably works for DIO, as did we. And in the end… We didn’t – we couldn’t even remember Sherry.” It was a hard true, something hard to swallow; but he did. He accepted it, even if you could almost see his heart breaking.
“Fils… fils de pute.” You nodded, and stood, helping him stand. “… We’re sorry. I do not know what took over me. I’ve…” Once again you made him stop, shaking your head while you looked at him in the eyes.
“I explained everything. What is left is for us to decide what to do next.” You turned your gaze to the group of men, who were looking at you two, expectingly. “We… Jean-Pierre… if we join them…”
“We might be able to face against the man with the two right hands. For real, and in our own volition.” You nodded.
Joseph and Mohammed happily agreed to let you stay; Noriaki was very kind and warm, welcoming you two with a blinding smile. Jotaro seemed indifferent, but there was a phantom of a smile on his lips as he turned away from you two. “We’ll aid you, and you’ll aid us.” Mohammed exclaimed, and you accepted the proposal contently. The group of four was now a group of six.
“Ma vie, you can take a bath now.” Jean-Pierre was getting out of the shower (his hair looked so good when it was down) in the hotel room that Joseph provided; you were sitting in a chair right by the side of the window, looking to Hong Kong as if it was the first time you’ve seen it; even if you’ve stayed there for two days, waiting for the group to arrive. “Are you alright?”
“Non, I’m not, Jean.” You turned your head to him. “We were deceived. We lost a year. We even forgot Sherry… I can’t believe we couldn’t remember Sherry. The entire reason for us to be out of France, to begin with, was finding Sherry’s murdered, and yet—" You bit your nails, feeling a coldness in your stomach. “Do you even remember the year? Because I can barely remember.”
He bent his wet body, and hugged you close to him. His chest was naked, the only thing covering him from you was his towel. You felt the wetness of his skin against your back, his arms surrounding your neck. “Ma vie, I know how you’re feeling – I understand so much it hurts... But we’ll find him, no matter how long it takes. Sherry will forgive us… I pray she does.” You knew Jean-Pierre still thought it was his fault, and that empty hope that Sherry was going to forgive him only lived inside of him due to guilt. You nodded, resting your head against his shoulder. “We’ve a group of people helping us now.” He tightened his grip around you. “Come on, I like you when you’re smiling. I can’t live without your smile.”
You couldn’t help but blush. “Idiot, stop that.” Your hands found their way to his forearms. “I know you’re right; we couldn’t help it but, I still feel like we lost so much time...” You felt him bury his head on your neck. “You’re right though, we must focus on the future, we can’t change the past…”
Being engulfed by him, by his cologne – it made you feel safe… His lips graced your cheek softly, and you wanted to turn your head so badly. You wanted the charade from before to be a reality; but you didn’t turn your head to kiss his lips. ‘He’ wasn’t ready, you reminded yourself. “Put some clothes on, exhibitionist.” You patted his arms, and he kissed your temple before letting you go.
“I’m an exhibitionist, yeah, but that’s because I take care of what I show.” It was true, even if last year you couldn’t remember but pieces, Jean-Pierre, ever since youth, was always taking care of his image. Even when the two of you were children. He let the towel fall to the floor and opened the closet. You stared at his figure – he was huge. In every sense of the word. His legs were well-toned, his back muscles were developed, his biceps were so big you were sure he could break a pencil if he were to put it in between his arm and forearm and flex.
But you also knew the smaller details of his body – he had a mole right between his shoulder blades. A birthmark underneath his armpit, only visible whenever he tried to dry his hair. He had one scar underneath his left buttock that he had gotten when he fell down some stairs. His body was a map, one you knew well; always watching, but never touching. “If I looked at you half as much as you look at me, you’d call me a pervert.” He joked.
“But you take care of what you show, doesn’t that mean you like people watching?” You mocked him, and he howled. “In any case, I don’t have anything to show.” You whispered under you breathe. He couldn’t hear you, so he didn’t answer. But you have known him long enough to know he would tell you ‘you’re wrong, you’re a beauty’, while he kept changing his clothes. “Jean, I want to fix your hair.”
“Go shower, I’ll let you style my hair and I’ll do yours.”
You two woke up early in the day, and Jean-Pierre went out of the room to smoke along with Jotaro. You decided to go to Joseph’s room, to plan what was the next step of the ‘mission’. You also were curious about what was their reason to defeat DIO. After all, yesterday was too insane for you to ask some real questions. Reaching their door, you knocked over the wood two times, loud enough.
There were some movements on the other side of the door, and soon, Mohammed opened, his hair a bit messy. Seemingly, he had just woken up. “Good morning!” You smiled at him, leaning in and kissing both his cheeks. He didn’t mind, and reciprocated the gesture, kissing both your cheeks at the same time.
“You’re awake awfully early.” He mentioned, letting you in. “I thought we were going to meet at nine, but it’s seven thirty.” He looked at a clock on the wall of the hallway that led inside of their room.
“I’m sorry, I tend to wake up early and – I also had some questions.” Joseph was laying on his bed, with a pajama filled with some crazy designs. “Good morning, Joseph!” You went up to him as he sat in the bed, and did the same you did with Mohammed, leaned in and kissed both his cheeks – he wasn’t expecting it, but he wasn’t uncomfortable by it either. He simply accepted the kind gesture.
“Good morning, dear.” He answered in a fatherly tone. That was… unexpected? To say the least. He began massaging his temples. “Ah, it’s too early. I need some coffee. What brings you here?” He yawned.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t want to disturb you.” You sat by the window, on one of the two chairs beside a tea table. “I was just wondering what we were going to do. You know? With DIO. And I also… well… why are you hunting DIO to begin with?”
Once Joseph stopped massaging his temples, he looked at you, and scratched his unkept beard. “We should’ve answered those questions earlier, huh?” Mohammed took a sit on the bed he seemed to be occupying the night before. “My daughter, Holly. She’s been affected by DIO’s curse. I want to save her. Before it is too late.” So… that was why he was so fatherly – so worried for his daughter, he must be trying to cope with the stress by projecting his care for Holly into you. “We ‘ve gotten a boat, since we can’t travel by plane. We tried, and there were too many casualties.”
You nodded; it made sense. In a plane, the space was too reduced, and a fall from that high would be fatal. “I understand. I promise I’ll do everything in my power to help you, if you help us, Joseph. Sur mon honnour.”
He giggled; and he seemed so… stressed, and yet at peace. As if he knew the team was going to make it. “You’re rather gentlemanly, for a lady. Is it because you grew up with Polnareff?”
You felt embarrassed, no one had referred to you as ‘gentlemanly’ before. It was such a weird concept that you could only associate with cavaliers from fairytales, not with… the likes of you. “Well, I could say the same about all of you. You’re trusting both Jean-Pierre and me even though we tried to kill you yesterday.”
Mohammed joined the conversation there, his voice tender but stern. “You were stripped from your will without even knowing; you two were at fault of naivety. DIO’s words are like poison – the type that runs deep and kills fast.”
You hummed and leaned against the back of the chair. “It was like speaking with an angel. He promised me power, and I accepted the deal. He told me we would find Sherry’s killer if we joined him, and we did. It was so easy to… let go. He treated us so nicely, so kindly.” Looking back, it seemed so perfect, so pristine. Power offering? Someone willing to give you information. It was… too perfect. It should’ve smelled fishy. “I’m glad you didn’t kill Jean, though, Mohammed. I adore him.” You confessed, to them, to a group of strangers that you met just yesterday, but you couldn’t confess to Jean-Pierre. The irony.
The chuckle that left Joseph’s mouth was very candid and heartwarming. “We realized. You trust him with your life, my dear. It’s easy to tell that you’re absolutely lost in your feelings for him. I’m more surprised that you’re not actually together.”
“L’idiota isn’t ready to be in a serious relationship.” You huffed, your body relaxing on the chair as you left out some of your frustration. Mohammed and Joseph snickered – it was so easy to talk to them. Perhaps it was because they were much older, much more experienced than you were.
“Well… What is a serious relationship in your standards?” Mohammed spoke.
That was… a hard question? Why did you assume Jean-Pierre wasn’t ready for your feelings anyways? He always seemed to be in love with all girls he met, and yet he didn’t seem to be interested in you in that aspect. Perhaps you fell more in the ‘sister’ category than in the lover one. “I…” You began, but you truly didn’t have an answer to his question. What is a serious relationship and why you assumed Jean-Pierre wasn’t ready?
Mohammed laughed, wholeheartedly. “I think it might be something else. In any case, let him know your feelings, alright? Life isn’t eternal; and he’s not a fortuneteller to guess that you’re in love with him. You’re not good at keeping secrets, but men are—”
“Absolutely stupid when it comes to ladies.” Joseph interrupted Mohammed’s line, and the Egyptian simply nodded in agreement. “This is coming from a man that met a lady two months and then married her. Trust me when I say we’re stupid.” You snickered; you needed to keep in mind that information, to ask later how Joseph and his wife met.
“In any case, I’ll take a shower. You can stay here if Mr. Joestar doesn’t mind.” Mohammed took a towel from the closet and went straight to take a much-needed bath – he seriously needed to relax.
“I don’t, you can stay. Where’s Polnareff, in any case?” Joseph asked once Mohammed was inside the bathroom.
“He’s smoking. Or perhaps he’s back in the room. I told him I was going to come here, so I doubt he’s worried.” You brought your knees close to your chest, hugging yourself over the chair. “I’m sorry for all the trouble we caused, mhmm… Mr. Joestar?”
“Call me Joseph, I feel rather old with even Mohammed calling me Mr. Joestar, and my grandson calling me ‘old man’. It never comes up, but I’m American. Having my friends call me by my last name is weird. Mohammed does it out of respect, so does Kakyoin – and I understand.” He laid back in bed, his forearm covering his eyes. “I wouldn’t force them to call me by my first name, but it makes me feel old.”
You smiled; he was really a grandpa. “It’s ok Joseph, you’re not ‘old’.” He grinned.
Mohammed, Joseph and you went to the dining room to have breakfast, and you found on the reception another trio, Noriaki, Jotaro and Jean-Pierre. “Good morning” You saluted the two you’ve not seen since the day before, and as per French tradition, you kissed both their cheeks. That left both stunned, pressing their hands against their faces, where your lips just connected. “Oh, I’m sorry, did you mind that? I won’t do it again.”
Jotaro didn’t answer, lowering his hat so it covered his eyes – and cheeks. Noriaki though, simply shook his head, bringing his hands up. “I don’t mind it; I was just startled.”
Jean-Pierre giggled. “It’s called la Bise. We kiss goodbye in France, and we also greet people like this.” He ruffled your hair softly. “You shouldn’t do that with that with foreigners though, ma vie.”
“I’m sorry, I did with Joseph and Mohammed and they didn’t seem to mind. I’m sorry, Jotaro.” The teenager didn’t answer, but he sighed, almost as if defeated. He shook his head and turned his head to look at you ‘don’t do it again’, was all he whispered, and you nodded; feeling quite embarrassed.
All of you walked to a table and had a discussion of what were the plans. The boat was ready to explore the seas, the moment we decided it was time to go. Jotaro proposed that it was wise to leave as soon as you were done eating. It made sense, staying too long in a single place was dangerous, and earlier Joseph told you about the time limit you all had for Holly’s health.
“Right, you have any idea of who the people we’re traveling with are? Any tourists?” You asked, finishing what was left on your plate.
“No tourists, for their sake as well as ours. Only a small crew of about ten people. We’ve seen their archives and none of them are Stand Users.” Joseph announced; his plate also empty. Soon, everyone was done with their meal, and gladly, you left the hotel behind. You slept on the Grand Harbor Hong Kong, so reaching the Victoria Harbor took you all about twenty minutes. The boat was big enough for all of you and the crew to be comfortable all the way to Singapore, where was your next stop.
The boat, more accurately, a yacht, was white and the floor of a very nice light brown. For all the other structure, you couldn’t accurately pinpoint each detail since it was not your area of expertise. All you knew was that you’d stay at sea for about ten days. Honestly? You didn’t mind, in your travels with Jean-Pierre you had gotten used to staying long days on uncomfortable situations, and yet, it didn’t bring you comfort to know there was no place to run.
“Better than in a plane, mon chéri.” Jean-Pierre read you like an open book, and his hand reached your shoulder. “If anything happens, I’ll protect you.”
“I know.” You told him, touching his hand on your shoulder, then, you went towards Jotaro and Noriaki, who were both about to sit on two chaise lounges.
You leaned against the railing, the two teenagers laying fully on the chaise lounges. It came to your attention that they were still using their uniforms. “Aren’t you guys going to change? Isn’t it hot for uniforms?”
“As students, we must always play the role.” Noriaki was… not very convincing. Were they just too lazy to change style? Or perhaps was it that they believed they looked cool with their uniforms? Whatever the case, you snickered at the idea of them just… not wanting to change. It was so… cute. “Don’t believe me?”
“Not one bit, Noriaki. But it’s alright, though I think Joseph is coming to ask the exact same question.” You pointed at the older man, who was dressed in a stripped t-shirt and shorts, embracing the ocean mood completely. And indeed, he asked the same question you did, and the answer didn’t change.
A few minutes of pleasant silence went by, the sea was as terrifying as it was soothing, you looked at the waves as they slowly took the yacht away from the port. “A stowaway!” Of course, peace was a concept supposed to be foreign in the circumstances you were in. You turned your head to the marine that was holding between his hands a small child. He…? Was probably 13 years old, at most. “I caught him hiding with the cargo!”
“Let me go! I just want to go to Singapore to see my dad!” Your heart tightened inside of your chest. It was a noble cause (and, in all honesty, it felt a little fake). You took two steps, and the child managed to set himself free from the hold of the marine, jumping off to the ocean, on his way to shore.
You ran towards the railings on the side he decided to jump off from, looking down to him. The child was swimming, barely, if you were honest; it was a terrible form. “Leave him, if he jumped it’s because he’s sure he can make it to harbor.” Jotaro stated. You weren’t so sure, the shadow of a shark lurking close to him.
“There are sharks Jotaro!” You screamed; and in the moment it left your mouth, you saw the shadow of the teen jumping to the sea… Jotaro’s heart – even if hardened – was still on the right place. You saw him struggling to reach the child, with his clothes being an impediment for his movement, and once his hand reached the shoulder of the little boy, the shark was attacked by, what you assumed to be Jotaro’s Stand.
However, there was something else, something bigger, lurking beneath the surface. Noriaki called Jotaro, as well as Joseph. Jotaro began to swim with the little boy in hand, but due to his clothes as well as the weight of the child, he probably wouldn’t be able to make it prior to the strange creature reaching him.
Noriaki called for his own stand, screaming “Hierophant Green!” Managing to pull both Jotaro and the child from the water. You went straight to check on the kid, holding him close to you, checking if there were any injuries… it was then when you noticed. “You’re a girl.” Your eyes widened, as you took off the hat of a very embarrassed (and very agitated) girl.
“H-How did he kill a shark! How did you pull us from the water!” She took a few steps back, clearly afraid – obviously, the most acceptable and common reaction for a non-Stand User. When she took two more steps back, her back landed against… a menacing-looking man. “Oho, so this is our stowaway.”
He took hold of the young child by the shoulders, and if it wasn’t because you were looking, you were sure he’d throw her off to the sea – his hands on her shoulders were almost hurting her. “Hey, that is not the way to treat a young lady!” You moved to steps forward, making him loose his hold on the young girl. “Merde, who the fuck do you believe you are?”
“The captain, of course. So, you better adjust yourself, or get off, dear lady.” With the little girl close to you, you took a few steps back, giving him space. “The stowaway will stay with the cargo until we can deal with her.”
“No, she will not.” The thought of her being a Stand User didn’t even cross your mind. She didn’t use her Stand to defend herself from the shark, and neither could she see Noriaki’s stand or Jotaro’s. However, whatever that was on the water was a Stand. So, someone on board was a User.
“What’s happening?” Jotaro came to your side, and you took another pair of paces back, so he was shielding both you and the little girl.
“He wants to throw this girl with the cargo, and I’m not taking it. He’s also full of shit.” You didn’t mean to sound so offensive, but he didn’t give you the greatest of first impressions. Jotaro got a cigar from his pocket and turned it on in front of the ‘captain’, who saw the action, and took said cigar from Jotaro’s hand, turning it off in his hat.
“No smoking at sea, yeah?” The ‘captain’ had the audacity of smirking. “Can’t have you contaminating the ecosystem.”
You began to turn red from the anger – who the fuck did he think he was… “Listen here you—” You were stopped by a hand, Jotaro had raised his arm to signal you to keep silence, and you did.
Joseph, Mohammed, Noriaki and Jean-Pierre observed the interaction closely. “I think you don’t like cigars because I discovered a weakness in each Stand User – smelling even a little of smoke from tobacco will make a small vein pop up in the tip of the nose!”
Almost accidentally, your hand found its way to your nose… as well as the captain’s to his. When you noticed this, your anger increased. “You’re full of shit, aren’t you, dear captain?” It was fun, really. He was cornered, his only way out was to throw himself at sea… but Jotaro couldn’t allow that. He would return, and if he did, it would be all too problematic. He called Star Platinum – and proceeded to hit the captain so much the doctor would’ve trouble reforming his face.
However, the ending of the troubles wasn’t exactly there. For said captain had set a group of explosives on board. The yacht ended up becoming a firework show, and you ended with a group of around fifteen men and a little girl on two emergency boats.
The start of DIO’s hunt was going JUST great.
“So, your name is Ann.” You asked the small girl, as you passed her a canteen. She nodded and accepted the water. “Ann, do you truly want to see your father?” You whispered, close to her. “It’ll be our secret.” You made sure the males were all too distracted to keep up with the conversation.
She got closer to you; her face flushed. “I want to explore the world, before I begin liking boys and all that…” She played with her thumbs.
“Ah dear, so that’s your mission.” She nodded. It seemed that it was easier for her to speak when there was another girl around. “Well, I won’t tell. But you must return home soon, your parents must be very worried.” She huffed, knowing that you were going to bring her parents into the discussion. “I’ll make up a lie, so Joseph pays your trip back…” or confess without her knowing that Ann was simply a very ballsy preteen. “But please, I don’t want you to get hurt, you saw how crazy it was just now.”
She sighed, relenting. It was truly a girl’s thing to talk reason into teenagers, huh? “You’re right. My mom must be dying back home.” You were happy she was able to see reason. “I’m sorry.” Her eyes danced a little to the other men in the group. “Can you keep another secret?” You nodded. “The one who saved me… He’s cute.” Ah, those hormones were working.
You giggled and decided to tell her a secret yourself. You pointed at Jean-Pierre, who seemed to be a little under the weather – perhaps dizzy from the movement of the boat. He was looking rather green. “I love him.” You whispered at Ann, sincerely. “With all my heart.”
The little girl blushed, fervently. “L-Love?” She repeated, and she sounded so innocent. As if she was speaking of the love only fairytales could tell. “But how do you know is love?” Ah, that was an interesting question.
“Well…” You began. “When you’ve seen him at his worst…” drinking, trying to kill some of the pain away… Two weeks after Sherry’s death, he couldn’t stop drinking, and all you did was stand by his side, and nurse him back to sobriety. “… and when you’ve seen him at his best…” running to you and Sherry with a big smile, hugging both of you close. “And all the in-between… and you still feel that you’d walk for him through…” you were going to say Hell, but Ann was still a child. “Very difficult places. Just to keep him close to you.”
“That sounds way too hard I need to explore the world before that happens to me.” You laughed, maybe a bit too hard. All the men in the small boat turned to you, and you shook your head. “Sorry, I just remembered something.”
“Do share? So, all of us can laugh.” There was a glint of malice in Mohammed’s eyes as he said that. You knew he knew what you and Ann were probably talking about. Ann’s flushed face probably gave it away – or at least, gave a small part of it away.
Well, if Mohammed wanted to play, you would play… keeping it safe, because there was a child present. “I was thinking about a scar that Jean-Pierre has… one that he doesn’t see often.” You winked, feeling a tinge of red spreading on your face. Other than your blush, your face was mostly neutral. Mohammed, on the other hand, was choking on his own saliva. “Or perhaps the mol—”
“Chéri!” Jean-Pierre’s face was also red – the only one from the group who seemed to be at a lost was Ann, who was looking at everyone with a rather confused face. Jean coughed, trying to retain some composure. “I would be very happy if you kept my moles a secret, please. And my scars.”
Not long after, a huge cruise appeared… seemingly out of nowhere. The stairs lowered, and all of you looked at each other in both excitement – because you were rescued – and confusion. The confusion coming from the fact that, even if the stairs were lowered, not a single man appeared to help you all. Ann took hold of your shirt, a bit afraid. “We better go up. Let’s all be careful.” Joseph was always the voice of reason. All of you made your way up to the cruise, Ann always keeping close to you.
It was… empty. Both bow and stern were empty, at least. “How were the stairs let down if the entire ship is empty?” Ann asked, and it was both a smart, and a worrisome question. The group of marines went closer to a crane that was meant to pull big webs from under the sea — it was a fishing boat instead of a cruise? The crane began to move on its own, and you saw the exact moment it pierced through the head of one of the marines. You didn’t even know when or how Jotaro was at your side fast enough to cover Ann’s eyes.
You felt a wave of nausea rushing through you; you were about to run towards the railings of the fishing boat when a hand on your waist stopped you, and another on your back began to massage when you began to puke. Jotaro took Ann away from you, guiding her to safety with the other marines, leading them down to a secure area under the deck. Jean-Pierre was massaging you, as you felt another wave of nausea coming. It was the first time you’ve seen a person die in such horrible way. His head was crushed – his brain? You couldn’t even… Another wave of nausea.
“It’s alright, let it all out.” There was some shame in puking right in front of Jean-Pierre, even though this situation wasn’t new – since, well, you’ve gotten blackout drunk before with him, and the results were somewhat like these. Once you stopped, you felt dizzy. He held your head, making you turn so you wouldn’t look at the body – even though the image was already burnt deep inside your mind. “Don’t look, let’s all stay close to each other. The crane moved on its own, Chéri. We think it might be a Stand.”
“B-But how… DIO? Where’s the Stand? We’re in the middle of South China Sea… How?” You trembled, feeling completely helpless – it was barely a few hours since you faced against the fake captain.
“One of his hitmen was the captain of our ship, he knew we were at sea. Respire, ma vie.” You tried to do as he asked, you tried to breathe. He moved you towards Noriaki, Joseph and Mohammed. “We need to explore the ship; Jotaro already went ahead.”
The entire group began the search around the cruise. You went with Jean-Pierre, trying to keep close since (even if you wanted to deny it) you were afraid. You were holding his hand, and he had his fingers intertwined with yours. The distance between the two of you was almost inexistent; as if both of you wanted to keep each other out of harm’s way. The more you went around the cruise, the stranger it became. Not a single sign of human activity, and in the end, the only living creature you found was an ape – more specifically, an orangutan.
You wanted to come closer to the cage, Jean-Pierre’s hand held you back. “Ma vie, they’re much stronger than a human; leave him alone.”
“But who has been feeding him? He doesn’t seem hungry at all.” You tilted your head as you looked to the orangutan… who, strangely, got a magazine out from behind him. A porn magazine? “He’s… reading that playboy magazine?”
“Impossible, jolie. Let’s go, let’s continue looking for clues.” You were not so sure about the impossibility. The orangutan seemed to be enjoying himself while looking at the magazine; you couldn’t let your mind wander too much, though, since Jean-Pierre was already pulling you out of the room. “There are a few rooms as well as the control room left to check.”
“Mais, Jean-Pierre…” You turned your head back, looking at the orangutan one last time.
“Mais rien, amour. I would prefer to not damage a creature that’s undeserving; if we leave it alone, it’ll leave us.” Jean-Pierre was always a fair man, in the end. If the orangutan wasn’t causing any troubles, then perhaps it was best to leave him be. You decided to heed Jean-Pierre’s words and followed him throughout the rest of the ship. Both the control room and the rest of the cabins were empty, not a single trace of any humans. The two of you ended up returning to the upper deck, and saw Noriaki, Mohammed and Joseph, seeming as confused as you two were.
“There’s not a single person in this boat. The only ones are our marines - who are hiding in the storage room.” Mohammed was scratching his chin, trying his best to think how the crane was able to move so unnaturally. “Don’t get close to any mechanical items, they might trigger something.”
You looked around, careful to avoid seeing the corpse that was still hanging from the crane. You realized Jotaro wasn’t on the upper deck. “Where’s your grandson?” Your gaze went to Joseph, who was standing slightly hunched, with his hand lost in his hair.
“He’s checking on the marines and Ann, he should be back soon.” Joseph seemed to be out of it, thinking too hard and too much about the circumstances. A Stand User was hiding within the cruise, and the Stand’s outlook was unknown. The Stand was seemingly capable of controlling the technology around the cruise – or something akin – and none of you were able to find him.
It was a grim situation, to say the least. And running away from the cruise in the small rescue boats was out of question, since the cruise would be able to catch up in no time. “Our best option at the moment is to remain calm.” Noriaki said that looking a bit more anxious than what he intended, but he was right. You felt Jean-Pierre’s hand tightening his grip over yours once again; trying to give you some sort of comfort.
Then, the floor underneath your feet began to swallow the entire group. You let go of Jean’s hand, trying to keep yourself from being engulfed entirely by the ship. “The entire ship is the Stand!” The panicked voice of Mohammed brought to you only more fear. The floor around your legs was starting to constrict, and you could almost hear your bones starting to crack under the pressure. If it kept going, soon you all were going to die.
But— a sudden miracle happened. The floor let loose and stopped swallowing you. Not a single minute passed when Jotaro came up running with Ann in hand, barely having a towel to cover her body with. “Let’s get to the rescue boats! I’ll explain there!”
It was right there when you realized, traveling with Jean-Pierre alone wasn’t even half of the adventure that you were about to go through – whatever the curse the Joestar family had, it seemed to befall upon those who accompanied them, as well.
It was on the third day lost at sea that the real rescue boat appeared. The orangutan was left behind, you were unsure if dead or alive (his boat began to morph into a small canoe, so perhaps he was still barely alive), and Jotaro had explained the basics of his Stand. He was the ‘Strength’, and it made too much sense.
Ann ended up having to use Jotaro’s jacket to cover herself, since her clothes were left abandoned on the cruise. By night, when it was way too cold, you would hug her close so she wouldn’t freeze. The water supply was running short when finally, the rescuers managed to find you – and you were so very happy to be able to shower.
You managed to fix some of the clothes the rescuers brought with them so they could fit Ann; they weren’t the greatest designs of all time, but they were better than having to use Jotaro’s jacket for the rest of the trip to Singapore. The marines inside of the rescue ship were all non-Stand Users, all confirmed by Jotaro’s trick with the cigar; so, for the next five days, you were able to relax.
It was later, at around 9p.m., that you began to wonder a few things you’ve not thought of before – since, well, you didn’t have the chance to. Jean-Pierre and you were used to sharing rooms ever since… well, the DIO situation happened. But it wasn’t as if you went to Jean-Pierre to sleep with him; it was more that the two of you simply had a silent agreement that, well… maybe it just felt safer? But now, because there were cabins in the ship and you didn’t require to make anyone pay for them, and there were no Stand Users nearby… Did you have the need to go and share a room with Jean-Pierre?
You’ve gotten used to it, yeah. But other than that, you weren’t exactly ‘obligated’ to it. And perhaps Jean needed some ‘alone’ time. So, you ended up walking to the upper deck on your own, thinking on the ‘what-ifs’ and the fact that you are so mortified about something that the two of you already saw as common was utterly ridiculous. You found Jotaro, sitting on a chaise longue on his own, a cigar on hand. “Hey there.”
He didn’t answer, just looked at you and nodded. He wasn’t too much of a talker, that much you’ve gathered in just the few days you’ve been together. “Isn’t it late for a student to be up?” You brought up the student excuse, because it just seems ironic to you that he smoked, drank alcohol, and was overall a very rebellious teenager – and yet, he was keeping his uniform to ‘play the part’.
“Isn’t it late for a married woman to be out on her own?” He retorted, and what a damn good retort it was. You leaned against the railings of the boat, looking at the sea below as the moon reflected onto the dark waves.
“Heh, I was just thinking on where I am going to sleep.” At this point, you were on this trip to help save his mother; why keep secrets when you were already so deeply connected with him by such a goal? In the end, you had to trust everyone of them with your life. He hummed; he was listening. Was that his way of telling you to continue? You didn’t know; but you kept going anyways. “You know? Jean-Pierre and I didn’t share rooms prior to the DIO incident – at least not as much as we do now, and well, we don’t have a need to do it while in the boat. I’m wondering if I should just… go to him.”
Jotaro huffed and turned up another cigar. He was really a heavy smoker, huh? Maybe he was stressed due to his mother’s condition. “You’re making an easy situation hard. You think I didn’t hear what you told Ann?” If it wasn’t because it was late at night, Jotaro would probably be able to tell about your blush. “You’re going around telling everyone BUT him that you love him; you’re not a child anymore, and yet, here you are, acting like one.” He pointed at you with the tip of the cigar as you turned your face to see him. “You’re up here wondering if you should go around and sleep with him when the question you’re really asking yourself is if you should tell him about your feelings; listen, he knows. All of us know. Even my damn mother knows, and you’ve not even met her – and she’s probably back in Japan unconscious, for fuck’s sake. Go there and act like the damn adult you are.” You were stunned for a few seconds; in those seconds of astonishment, he sighed – probably realizing he was a bit too hard on you. “You’re as insufferable as my mother, but you’re not a bad woman. Trust your gut.”
Your eyes were wide open. Was he… trying to cheer you up? Was that his version of a pep talk? Because Hell, that was such a bad pep talk, but… it worked. You had to laugh, so honest that it came as hiccups – and under the moonlight you could see a bit of his eyes widening underneath his hat, the shadow casted not strong enough to hide his surprise. “You’re… so damn right.” You told him. “You’re, what, 17? And you’re giving me relationship advice and it’s so fucking accurate. I had to have a 17 years old teen tell me to my face my damn bullshit. Merde! I’m supposed to be the adult here!” You held your sides. Your laughter subsided once another doubt washed your thoughts. “And yet… What if taking that step damages what we have…?”
“You know about a fucking scar he has under his butt. You think he’s just going to push you away? He can’t.” He took a drag from the cigar. “This is why I hate women. Too damn insecure.”
You giggled softly. “You love your mom though, that’s why you’re here.”
“That’s none of your damn fucking business.”
Jotaro’s pep talk worked much better than you expected. Even though your legs were trembling, and your hands were sweating, and your heart was beating about five times faster than usual, you felt less unsure about what to do next. In the end, in everything but name Jean-Pierre and you were in a relationship, you just needed to sort… things… out.
It was better now, that the two of you were alive, than later. Present is certain, future isn’t. Or so you repeated time and time again in your head so it would feel like you were doing the right thing and not just… fucking up. Were you going to heed the advice of two adult men and one teenager? Well… you were going to travel with them for the next month. So, might as well.
In the end, it was obvious enough for them that you were in love with Jean-Pierre, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise for him. Or so you prayed. You knocked on the door to the cabin he chose for himself, and it was less than a minute later that he opened the door, his face morphing from worry to happiness the second he saw you. “Jolie, where were you? I’ve been waiting for you for hours!”
“I– Uhm… I thought you might want a little bit of space?” You entered the room, and frankly, your legs were shaking so much that you appeared to be in the middle of an earthquake. “I’m—” you coughed, realizing this was going to be much harder than you anticipated. “So, let’s sit?”
He nodded and closed the door of the cabin as you entered the small, but cozy, room. One bed, one small cabinet, a closet, and a window that allowed Jean-Pierre to look at the waves. There was a small clock on the white walls and… all else you were just thinking to avoid talking, if you were honest. You sat on the bed, and Jean-Pierre sat beside you once he was done with the door. “So, ma vie, what has you worried? Is it again the thoughts of Sherry? Because I swear to you, we will avenge her.”
You settled your hand on his forearm, and he stopped talking. Your silence was unnatural and probably confusing, but you couldn’t find the right words. Of course, you would eventually avenge Sherry – and she was always on your mind in one way or another (now that you were not under DIO’s control), but now, your main thoughts circled around one subject. “Jean-Pierre Polnareff.” You suddenly whispered, and whatever else you had to say died in your throat when you felt a pair of fingers under your chin.
“Ma vie, you’re absolutely naïve if you believe what you told to Ann about me, I didn’t hear, the boat was too small and your voice, even when you whisper, is too loud. We just were kind enough to act as if we didn’t hear – all of us.” His thumb drew a few patterns on your skin. “I didn’t want to push anything out of you. But ma belle, I thought you knew that without you, my life would be meaningless. You’re the only one I have left, even when I’m flirting with other girls, my heart only belongs to you.”
To say you were stunned was probably an understatement. Angry, too, but mostly stunned. Angry, because he wasn’t going to tell you he knew unless you made the first move. You punched his shoulder playfully with the hand that was holding his forearm, and he took hold of it, intertwining your fingers together. You pouted, not looking at him in the eye. “Did you know prior to that?”
“Of course, I did. You’re the worst at hiding anything from anyone – especially from me. But… I knew you thought I wasn’t ready, but… I’m sure that the one that wasn’t ready was you.” It… shone on you. The realization. You… were scared. Afraid to move the relationship one more step. Too used to the comfortable feeling of having him close, but too worried to move forward. Jean-Pierre kisses your forehead, and the warmth of his lips spread on your body like a wildfire. “But you came here, and you tried to tell me.” He kissed your temple. “Let me tell you, then, the only absolute truth that I know.” His lips traveled from your temple to your cheek, finally landing right beside your ear. “Je t’aime, tu as toujours été la seule option.”
Barely a whisper, but enough to weaken all your defenses. “Y-You’re one big idiot, Jean-Pierre.” You tilted your head when his lips trailed down to your jaw. “… We were together for two years before DIO…” Your hands traveled; until they settled around his neck. The warmth of his skin was welcoming and familiar. You knew that body so well, and yet you didn’t know enough. “And I’ve always… ever since… and you looked at other women so…”
He stopped kissing you and took a hold of your face with his broad hand. “I’ll not lie to you and tell you I’ve not taken other women to bed, and I’ll not lie to you and tell you that I’ve looked at other women with desire. But I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, that from all the women I’ve had, and all the women I’ve seen, the most perfect and the one I truly desire is right in front of me.”
That was it. He had you. Whatever he wanted from you; he could take. You took hold of his face between your hands, bringing him close to you. “From now on, you only take me to bed. I’m yours, if you take me as I am. And you’re mine, mine.” You kissed the tip of his nose. “Mine.” You kissed both of his cheeks, his forehead, his eyelids. “Mine, mine, mine.”
He took your hand from his face and kissed your knuckles. “Yours, all yours.” He leaned in, your noses touching. “I adore you. All of you.”
Your gaze traveled from his intense, beautiful blue eyes to his lips; so welcoming. You’ve not kissed a man before, not in the lips, at least. He had the expertise you didn’t, and you were shy to take the next step. You were so close you could almost feel the ghost of his lips caressing yours – you could smell the nicotine off his body as if he had smoked a cigar not too long ago. You tilted your head slightly, making it easier for him to close the gap between both of your mouths.
He leaned in, closing the distance between both your lips. His lips were soft; softer than they felt whenever they graced another part of your skin. It was such a weird sensation, just the overlapping of your mouths, no movement, just the sweet feeling of innocent connection. Jean-Pierre pulled back just a second later; he rested his forehead against yours. “Ma vie, I would absolutely adore to defile you, but I’m afraid I’ll break you.”
You didn’t know where the confidence came from, but the words that left your mouth were filled with trust. Trust in him, and trust in yourself, in what you desired. “Destroy me.”
Waking up surrounded by a body that wasn’t your own wasn’t out of the ordinary – sleeping on the same bed as Jean-Pierre wasn’t something you weren’t used to. The difference was your nakedness, as well as his. Your skin against his felt warm, his hard body pressed against yours was something new, something welcomed. Your hand on his chest, feeling his heartbeat, the feeling of his breathing against your ear as he slept – his arm surrounding your waist, keeping you close.
You were hurting, but it was a pain that didn’t feel unwelcome. The soreness between your legs only meant that the night before was real, and not just a fragment of your imagination. Your thumb danced over his skin, not to wake him, but something you’ve grown used to doing. You thought at some point throughout the long night that perhaps the morning after you would regret, but you didn’t. Perhaps you were still on the effects of the afterglow, too lost in the pleasantries of sex, but you didn’t feel as if what you did was wrong.
Jean-Pierre moved slightly, and you looked up to his face. He was awake, half-awake; his eyelids still not opening completely. He had a tender smile on his face, and his hand came to your neck, kindly caressing over a certain spot that felt as if it was aching. “This looks so very nice on your skin, amour.”
Your own hand traveled from his pectoral to his neck, where a purple bruise rested over his pale skin; he had multiple marks, but you bit him hard on his neck – you were secretly a bit possessive. You marked him as yours. “Toi aussi.”
He chuckled and kissed your temple. “What we will do, once we fight DIO and avenge Sherry, mon amour?” He asked and looked to the ceiling. It was a good question. You both didn’t do much else after Sherry passed, and when you fell in the hands of DIO, your lives were led by his finger and command. Whatever he desired, you did; but what were you two going to do, after all was said and done?
You wondered; it was a hard question. Too much to ask, if you were sincere. What was your life prior to the incident? What did the two of you did? It was harsh, hard to think. “Why don’t we marry? And have a family. A big family.”
You weren’t looking at his face now, but you felt him tense. Too much to ask, perhaps. He relaxed a few seconds later, though; was he processing the thought? Pondering into the idea? “Oui, once all is said and done, let’s marry.” His arm around your waist brought you closer. “Let’s change your last name, amour.”
You snorted – because that was such a weird thing to say, but it was fine, it was very Jean-Pierre. “Let’s change my last name, then, once this is all over and we return to France. Make me your wife.”
There was an unsaid agreement between you two; and untold promise – if one of your children was born a girl, her name would be Sherry. You hoped she’d have her aunt’s beautiful brown hair and blue eyes. But first – finding the man of the two right hands; then, eliminating DIO. You prayed all of you would make it out alive. You closed your eyes, feeling Jean-Pierre’s soft heartbeats underneath the tip of your fingers. “Je t’aime.”
This one was... Completely self-indulgent. I love Polnareff very fucking much.
If you have any requests, leave them in the comments!
Chapter 3: Drawing Songs
Embarrassed Rohan was, by far, the one you loved the most.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
You truly didn’t like mornings. Really, they weren’t your favorite thing and yet, here you were, walking to your class in Morioh’s College for Science and Development. It wasn’t a very well-known college, but it was good, and it had an accessible price – so when you told your parents that you’d move to Morioh to study, they didn’t protest because it’d be way less expensive than studying back at home. Even the rent of your apartment (mind you, just a one-person apartment with one room and a bathroom) was still underneath the price.
But your luck didn’t take away the fact that you hated mornings. You tried your best to not fall into any classes prior to 10a.m., but whatever deity that was looking down to you didn’t smile when an obligatory class fell at 8a.m. So, there you were, walking around the streets of Morioh. You saw Angelo’s Statue, and per tradition, you said hi to it. You didn’t know who had started the tradition in the city, but the two years you’ve spent living there made you fall into the same pattern as the rest of the people. After all, Morioh was small.
“Yo!” You heard behind you, and you turned to see Josuke smiling at you with a very… ‘knowing’ look. “You look like you got run over by a truck, what’s up? College early?”
“You know it, you too?” He shook his head, smiling even more than before. You tilted your head slightly, what was he doing awake so early if it wasn’t because he had to go to school? “What are you going to do then?”
“I’ll go scam Rohan off his socks again.” He laughed, showing you the dice – that by now, you were aware that was his friend Mikitaka. You were aware what Stands were (and you were also aware that Mikitaka claimed to be an alien), so it wasn’t surprising in the least. “Wanna come?”
At the mention of Rohan, you felt your face burning up in the most unconventional and uncalled way. Josuke and you met in your first day of college, and you’ve stuck together ever since. When you met Rohan, which was also because of Josuke, the first thing that came out of your mouth when the man was out of your sight was ‘wow’. You were lucky that Rohan was just passing by on the café and didn’t decide to stay because you were sure he would’ve realized that you thought he was a gorgeous man.
You were also lucky that Okuyasu wasn’t there to laugh about your obvious, obvious, interest in the manga-artist. To your defense, it wasn’t often that you saw such a beautiful man walking around. NOT that you didn’t know about Josuke’s nephew, or not that you didn’t think Josuke himself was handsome, but Rohan was just a complete other level of beauty.
So of course, Josuke knew how to get you to skip a class – and whenever he had the chance, he invited you to play card games or dice games with Rohan; and it worked. Most of the times. Whenever you didn’t have an exam, or you were about to get an F in the class due to absences. “You just want me to go so it doesn’t look suspicious when you win.”
“You wound me.” Josuke held his chest, feinting to be hurt by your words. “Can’t a guy just want to spend some quality time with his best friend?”
“Third best friend, I’m after Okuyasu and Koichi.” He stuck his tongue out and smiled. “You know? You should set me up a date with Rohan. I mean, you’ve already taken from him enough money to buy yourself a pair of new French shoes… it shouldn’t be hard for you to stick your neck out for me and set us up.”
The two of you began walking towards Rohan’s house. Yeah, you were going to skip. It wasn’t as if you were too interested in the class to begin with. “I think you misinterpret the relationship I have with Rohan… we hate each other, but we also like each other enough to play games and bet. But I don’t think he’d appreciate me telling him about a blind date. Especially when it wouldn’t be so blind since, well, you two know each other. Just ask him out yourself. I don’t think he’d say n— you know? Because you are my friend, I’m not giving you hope. It’s a possibility that he’ll say no.”
“Oh damn, my absolute hero. What would I do without you? What a grey life it’d be without my knight in shining armor.” If sarcasm could kill, Josuke would be dead by now. You appreciated his honesty though, it kept you grounded. After all, in all the months you’ve known Rohan, he never tried anything – not even asking for a coffee or the like. “I’ll go with you, but promise me something, yeah?” Josuke nodded, happily. “Leave early so I can properly ask him out on a date.”
“Deal, lucky you I got a phone recently. I’ll just take a call.”
“You’re the best and I love you!” You hugged him with one arm, and he brought you close by the waist. “Anyways, is Mikitaka doing alright in your hand? Isn’t he nauseous?”
“He’s gotten used to it, haven’t you Mikitaka?” Josuke moved the dices a bit in his hand.
“Used is a way of putting it, yeah.” You swore you could hear the slight annoyance in Mikitaka’s voice – but deep down, you thought he enjoyed spending time with Josuke. Even if it meant transforming in cards or things like that.
Rohan accepted quite quickly the invitation to play with both you and Josuke. He was probably still angry about last time and wanted revenge. Last time you almost felt bad for Rohan, he really did go out of his way and decided to bet a beautiful necklace, it was a green chrysoberyl. Josuke gave it to you on the way home, and honestly you haven’t really found a good chance to use it since it was such a gorgeous stone.
The three of you sat outside of his house, in the balcony. It was a normal day, not too sunny, nor too gloomy. Some people might consider it the perfect day – but for you it simply was a bland day. At least, in comparison to the man sitting adjacent to you. Rohan was using crop-top, and you just didn’t understand how in the name of all that’s holy, did he manage to pull off something so strangely effeminate. You were sure that you could see his damn boxers and they were Versace. You didn’t even know Versace had underwear.
You felt a kick underneath the round table. “Ow! Josuke!!” You turned your head to him. He just moved his eyes, telling you with just his gestures that you were staring. Ah. “Fuck, Josuke, I’m a lady…”
“Right, right, I’m sorry.” He settled the two dices (Mikitaka) on the table. “But a lady needs to stop some ugly behavior.”
“I don’t blame her for staring, though.” Rohan was absolutely everything but shy. You pouted. Were the two of them siding with each other only to make fun of you? Because that was unfair. The two of them noticed your pout and chuckled. “It’s alright, you do it every time you come by, anyways.”
“SO! How about we start playing before I shame myself more than necessary today? I’m sorry about staring Rohan, I was just thinking that I didn’t know Versace had underwear!” Of course, you said that, because all the Gods had abandoned you today.
“Yeah, they do, very comfortable.” You growled – and that was the start of your gaming morning with both Josuke and Rohan. You pointedly ignored Josuke’s remark of ‘you were looking at his underwear’ and proceeded to throw your dice on the bowl. A three and four, which were seven points. Fine, a good throw. Mikitaka wasn’t trying to make Rohan suspicious so early on.
Or so you thought until Josuke got like seven pairs of six – leaving you both and Rohan almost on the streets. You knew he was going to give you your money back, but it still slightly hurt your pride. By ten, Josuke’s phone ‘rang’ suddenly and it was ‘his mom’. He left – with his dice – not even letting Rohan and you to say goodbye. He was probably the worst actor to ever exist in the history of always, but at least that got the job done; you and Rohan were alone. “… He took the dice.” You pointed. “Either way, I’m broke, so I’ll gladly accept defeat.” You lied through your teeth.
“Oh, I know he’s cheating. I’m just letting him because I haven’t realized how. You don’t need to cover for him. I would like to know how he does it though.”
You chuckled. It made sense that he had realized that the two of you were cheating. “Why did you bet your chrysoberyl’s necklace, if you knew we were cheating?”
“The higher the bet the easier it gets to see mistakes. He’s not a bad man, I know he doesn’t like taking too much advantage of me, that’s why he always bets under two thousand yen. I’m always the one raising the bets beyond.” He leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table. “I could know, if I really wanted to. But then again, I almost got killed last time I tried to read Josuke.”
“Reading Josuke?” You asked, funny enough, the part of getting killed by Josuke didn’t surprise you at all. “You also have a Stand?”
“Ah, do you?” His eyes widened briefly, and his eyes were so ethereal you were taken aback, looking down to your thighs. You coughed awkwardly. “No, I don’t have a Stand, but I broke my leg once with Josuke and he fixed me right up. That was when he told me about Stands.”
“How did you break your leg?” He leaned closer.
“First day of college, tried to save a kitten from a biker, got run over by him, Josuke saw all that and picked me right up – he was still in high school back then. I don’t remember much because the pain was very sharp but, that’s basically it. Kitten is fine, by the way, Koichi adopted it.” Surprisingly, Koichi’s dog liked cats almost as much as a human would. “But you have not answered my question, Kishibe Rohan. Do you have a Stand?”
His eyes narrowed. He didn’t need to be too wary; you weren’t an enemy of sorts. He must’ve known that you weren’t going to magically activate a Stand from nowhere. He was too smart for that. “Yes, I do. I can read people’s history. That’s what I meant when I said that I almost got killed when I tried to read Josuke.”
“I don’t think you almost got killed because you tried to read Josuke, I’m completely sure you mentioned his hair.” You pointed at him. “Can you read me? I’ll give consent if you promise not to read how Josuke cheats. That you need to find by yourself.”
“Do you have anything worth reading about?” If you were closer to Rohan, you would’ve kicked him underneath the table. What a kind man. He must’ve seen the glare on your face. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I was joking. Sort of.”
“You were not. But come on, you might find something interesting inside.” The plan was, if he read you, you wouldn’t have to tell him that you liked him. He would know. Was it going to be awkward? As hell. But it was better than having to utter the words yourself. “I’m also curious about your power. Since I’ve seen Okuyasu’s, Koichi’s and Josuke’s.”
“I’m not a clown for your entertainment.” He sighed, but he didn’t seem offended. “Fine, I’ll do it. Just because Koichi has shown you his.”
“What a gentleman.” You rolled your eyes but smiled gently. He excused himself for a few minutes as he went inside of his house. You waited patiently, rather excited. You’ve never seen what a Stand was like, but feeling their Powers was a unique experience. Josuke’s power was warm and sweet, as a hug from a close friend. Okuyasu was cold, but a cold that felt welcoming. Koichi made you heavy, heavy. You asked him not to use his power with you ever again, because it was very hurtful. But what about Rohan? Rohan was so unique; his power must’ve felt like as strange as he was.
“I’m back.” He had a folder in-between his hands. “Since you’re not a Stand User you can’t really see my Stand, so I’ll ask you to see the first draft of my manga.” Very delicately, he handed you a single page from inside the folder. It was a beautiful drawing of a landscape on the sunset – you could almost feel the colors, even though the drawing was black and white. You felt… enchanted by it. Connected to it. You could smell the sea that was on the bottom of the page, feel the warmth of the sun washing on your skin, feel the sand that was blow by the wind gracing your eyelashes. The paper began to shine on your hand, and as if it was the most natural thing to do, you fell asleep, dreaming of the sun that Rohan had drawn.
When you woke up, it was to Rohan softly calling your name. You opened your eyes gently, and you realized it was close to midday. He had spent at least two hours reading you. You were still sitting in the seat on the table, and you realized your neck felt stiff. Rohan was sitting on the same place he was when playing with Josuke, the only big difference was that he was holding your hand – for the first time in all the months you’ve known him, looking rather flustered. You coughed, and straightened your back, but you didn’t make a move to take your hand away from him. “So…”
“You know, Josuke was right when he told you that it wasn’t going to work if he planned a blind date.” You snorted. “Your first period was really painful too—”
“Wow wow wow Rohan.” You tightened your grip on his hand. “Yes, it was but that’s literally the last thing you should say now. I guess I’ll just— Rohan, I think you’re a very beautiful man. Would you, em…”
“Do you want to go out with me?” He asked, interrupting your thought. Your entire mind went blank. He asked you out. He really did ask you out. That surprised you more than anything and everything. “I guess that fixed my first misstep. I’ve never dated before, no time, no real interest.”
You blinked, very confused. “So why would you want to date me?”
“I… was taken aback by how you, in your mind, without really having control over it, describe me. Not only physically, but…” He looked down to the table. “You notice how I tap on the table twice whenever I have a good hand in poker. You talk about the shine in my eye whenever I’m winning when we are playing fair… The first time you met me, you described me as Dionysus.” He chuckled. “I guess my ego was… touched by your description.”
You laughed, openly, freely, feeling so relieved. “So, I persuaded you by your narcissism?”
“I would like a partner that can see how great I am, you can do it.” Your thumb caressed his hand, very softly; in your face, you could feel a tender smile gracing your lips. He was looking at your face intently, observing all your features as they morphed into something more… sweet. “I want to draw that; I’ve never seen it before.” He said, very quietly, very intimate.
You looked down; you didn’t know what he meant. “Is that your weird way of flirting?”
Rohan giggled, and it was such a wonderful sound, it filled your ears and your heart. “I’ve never flirted, so I’m not going to do it, it’s just my sincere thought. Your face was very beautiful.”
“Oh my God Rohan” You hid your face behind your hand. “Anyways, I’ll leave you alone, I have bothered you too much today. Do you want to go out on the weekend?”
“Yeah, I’ll pick you up.”
“So now you know where I live, too?” You chuckled.
“You told me I was free to check everything but the way Josuke cheats.” He pointed his finger at you, and you smiled. He was sweet, too sweet.
You went running to Josuke’s house. You knocked on his door and almost brought it down. Tomoko opened the door, looking both confused and pleased to see you. “Hello dear, why are you bringing my door down?” She asked as she let you in. “It must either be that the world is ending or Josuke did something stupid.”
“I’m so sorry miss Higashikata, I thought you weren’t at home.” You looked down to your feet apologizing to her. “Is Josuke home? Or is he at college?”
“He has night classes today, you’re lucky. He’s in the living room playing video games. I’ve told you to call me Tomoko, though.”
“Ah, yeah, I’m sorry. I’m just—”
“It’s alright dear, whatever happened is huge. Come on, I’ll make some coffee for you.” You thanked her and went directly to the living room where Josuke was indeed playing video games. He looked back from the screen when he noticed your shadow on the back of the tv.
“Oh, lovestruck, how did it go?” He paused, and you just knelt, hugging him. “Wow, did he say no? I’m going to go break his face.”
“No no! He said yeah! We’ll go on a date on the weekend! I’m just overwhelmed, and I need a hug from someone, and my mom isn’t in Morioh nor is my dad.” He relaxed underneath your touch, and you felt his arms surround your body. “He read me and now he even knows how bad my first period was! And he was so sweet, and I’m so not used to him being sweet, like, he held my hand and told me my face was beautiful.”
He laughed, and you hid your face in the crotch of his neck. “Well, that’s certainly unexpected. You’re a shy mess, then?” You nodded against him, and he adjusted himself so the two of you were more comfortable. “Did he see how I cheat?”
“I asked him not to, I’m not sure if he followed through though.” You needed this hug, you truly did. Josuke felt exactly like his Stand Powers did, sweet and warm – welcoming, nostalgic. It was like coming home. “You know he knows you’re cheating, right?”
“Oh, I know, but he hates to not know how so we just keep playing until he realizes.” You untangled yourself from Josuke’s grasp, feeling more relaxed than you did before. “Better? I can’t wait until he realizes how touchy you are, he’ll hate it.”
“He must know, he read everything.” You sat besides Josuke, looking at the screen of the game. You didn’t even know what game it was. “By the way, how’s Koichi’s trip to Italy going? Do you know anything?”
“Oh, I don’t know much, just that Jotaro asked him to go. You know how secretive everyone is around Stands and the like. I think it has something to do with that, or perhaps with the mess that is our family.” You laughed. The story of Josuke’s family was a funny one, how Kujo’s grandfather was Josuke’s father and that made Kujo Josuke’s nephew, and how Josuke’s great-great-grandfather’s body was stolen by a vampire… It was out of this world and if you hadn’t been healed by Josuke the first day you met you wouldn’t had believed a single word he said. “I think it’s about the son of the vampire-dude? Jotaro didn’t tell me much.”
“Son of the vampire dude… so basically, your granduncle?” He frowned, trying to think but at the same time trying to ignore the implications. “When you have children, you’re going to have to draw them a map instead of a tree.”
“At least I’m not having to explain to my children how my confession went. ‘Oh, your father just read me up like a book and fell in love with me right then and there!’ You know? It’s so romantic.”
“Shut your whore mouth Higashikata, or I’ll kick your ass.”
“I love when my son is getting along with a lady so much that she’s threatening him to kick his ass, true love right there.” Tomoko came from the kitchen holding a tray with three cups of coffee. “I’ll help you kick his ass, don’t worry dear, I’m always on your side.”
“Mom! I’m your son!”
“So what? That only means I have more rights to kick your ass.”
It was Saturday in the morning, and you were just about to pass out. You were on a call with Josuke while panicking about what clothes you were going to put on and what make-up and he sounded slightly more interested than the average college student when talking about such things as fashion. Especially because Josuke’s fashion sense was everything but average.
“Aren’t you late?” He asked on the line, and your shoulder tensed so much you almost dropped your phone. You turned to see the clock on your wall, right beside the window of your small apartment and it was 9, you had exactly one hour to get ready.
“No, you cockalorum. You know the date is at 10! You just want me to get off your ass. Which I won’t until I get ready because I need a voice to fill my nervous breakdown.” You took out one of your favorite outfits – it was comfortable for you, but it looked good. Or… well, so you thought. Perhaps Rohan wouldn’t think the same. You brought the piece of cloth close to your face and muffled a scream. “You just thought that you looked good on that outfit you really like but then you went back because you didn’t know if Rohan would like it, didn’t you?”
“Stop reading my thoughts, smell-fungus.” He laughed, and you wanted to throw your (very worked for) phone against the wall. You didn’t, because money doesn’t grow on trees. “I’ll use it. Have I used it too much? Do you remember Rohan seeing me on this? Should I use a lot of make-up?”
“I don’t think Rohan has seen you with it, clothes are to be used what the fuck does it matter if you’ve used it too much, and don’t overdo your make-up, your contour always comes off sloppy when you do that.” You heard him eat a cracker on the other side of the line. It was true that your contour came off strange when you tried to do something out of your comfort zone. Two years were enough for Josuke to pick up on small details, huh?
“I hate that you’re right. Anyways, you shouldn’t be eating crackers so early, cook some breakfast, for God’s sake.” You sat down on your bed once your clothes were in place and you looked slightly presentable.
“Nah, I’m in bed, too much work. Are you going to leave your phone at home? You always do, because you’re afraid you’ll lose it, but that defeats the purpose of a cellphone, you know?” It wasn’t your fault that you were clumsy – and the damn cellphones were expensive. “If something happens with Rohan, I’ll make sure to break his face.”
“I know you won’t, and I know nothing bad will happen with Rohan. I hope I just don’t blow it. I’m not that interesting, you know?” And he was a young, successful man that could get with whoever he wanted and yet he was giving you a chance. Not that he didn’t have flaws, you knew he was very narcissistic and liked to overwork himself to the bone, didn’t really like your friends that much other than Koichi and wasn’t exactly the kindest of people. But the important thing was that, at least, he wasn’t unkind to you.
He wasn’t exactly KIND, but he wasn’t unkind. Which was a positive. Sort of. “Stop thinking so loud.” Josuke on the other side of the line brought you out of your thoughts. “If he wasn’t interested since the start, he wouldn’t have read you. I wasn’t sure before because it’s Rohan we’re talking about, but he must like you back if he’s going through all the trouble that is dating. I’m saying this especially because it’s Rohan though.” The sound of him scratching his head came through the line. “I met him like a year before I met you, I think I got a pretty good idea of his character. Just enjoy your time with him and be yourself.”
You felt your cheeks heat. “Insufferable brat. You just graduated this year from high school and you’re trying to give me life lessons.” He chuckled, kindly, softly. “Thank you, though, Josuke. You’ve grown to be a very reliable young man!”
“What are you, my mother? Anyways, it’s 9:45, you better put on some perfume and brush your teeth again like you always do when you’re about to hangout. I’ll see you in the afternoon because I’m absolutely sure you’re going to come by and tell me about the date.”
“You call me your mother and yet you’re here telling me to brush my teeth and put perfume on…” You sighed. When did he get to know you so well? You two did spend and awful lot of time together but for him to be so observant… it made sense that he was studying medicine, huh? Tomoko was very proud of her son. “I’ll see you later, Josuke.”
You meant that, you were going to Josuke’s house later, and you would probably find Okuyasu there too, playing some video games and eating pizza. You missed Koichi, but you knew he was doing some important business. It wasn’t long until a knock at your door sounded, and your heart which was already not tranquil at all began to beat even faster. You stood in front of the mirror, you didn’t know if pleased or not with your look, then, you went to open the door in hopes that Rohan would find you at the very least presentable.
He was… bewitching. Was that even a word you were supposed to use with a man? You didn’t know. Probably didn’t matter. He stood there with… honestly whatever the fuck his clothes could be described as? You just knew he looked graceful – in a sense that you couldn’t put into words. He always used a bandana in his head, that didn’t change, that was the only remaining trait that he possessed over his body. “You— Wow.” You tried finding words, it wasn’t easy. He was simply so much, and you knew so little.
So, he was the one who spoke first. “You look beautiful.” That… was unexpected. Your face heated up, feeling the tingles of the embarrassment traveling right to your neck. You bit your lip, looking down to Rohan’s hands that were crossed over his chest. “Thank you.” You whispered shyly. You closed the door to your apartment, leaving your phone on a small table by the door, and began to walk out of the building by Rohan’s side.
He had a small bag, probably keeping his sketchbook and stencils to draw while hanging out with you. He untangled his arms from over his chest and, to your astonishment, held your hand. He did the day he read you, but perhaps at that time, it was more out of a feeling of obligation. Now, it felt like a nice contact out of the simplicity of the company of each other. You looked at him, with your eyes a bit widened, and he was looking straight ahead, his face unchanged. “You like this sort of things.” He explained simply, and softly tightened his grip around your palm.
You nodded weakly, even though he wasn’t looking. “I do, but do you?” You didn’t like the idea of forcing your ideals of a relationship to him. If it wasn’t something he enjoyed, then it wasn’t something you wanted to pursue.
He spent a few seconds thinking, on the feeling of holding hands. Was he so unused to it? Was he really that socially inept? Not that it was bad, honestly, you found it rather cute, and it was a little bit more special if this was the first time, he was holding hands with someone. “I appreciate it. You sweat a lot, but I think it’s cute.”
“You think my sweat is cute?” That came out wrong, he realized that came out all the types of wrong.
“No, no, I mean, you sweat when you’re nervous, and if you’re nervous – I think that’s cute.” Perhaps letting him read you was a bad idea. He now had a perfect understanding of you, while you had barely any knowledge about him. He looked at you with a slightly furrowed brow, and you looked back at him tilting your head. “You’re irritated.”
You pouted, just a little. You didn’t like to seem childish. You were, but that didn’t mean you enjoyed being such. “A little.”
You two reached Rohan’s car, and he opened the door for you. Even though he wasn’t too much into the idea of dating, he was doing the most to keep you content, once he sat down on the rider’s side, his eyes fell on you once more. “Why are you irritated?”
“Well, because I have the feeling, you’re doing all this handholding, door opening, sweet-talking because you read what I want in an ideal partner and, while I appreciate you trying!! I would like to know real Rohan and not idealized Rohan. And I also would like to be a good partner for you. Like, I know for a fact you’re not so gentlemanly; you’re a bit more arrogant than what you’re letting out today.” You chuckled when he looked slightly offended. Rohan sighed, taken aback because, hey, great, not even a foot inside a date and you were already having a discussion. Absolutely great start. “Mind you! I appreciate the effort and you were sweet! But if you don’t like it, I don’t want to be out there forcing you to like it.”
The two of you sat there in a contemplative silence for a few minutes, in which Rohan was trying to organize his (probably many) ideas, and you were there trying not to have a heart attack. “If I’m honest, I’m not good at the whole dating thing. I’m not sure what I like, or what I dislike. But I want to find out. And… I like holding your hand. If that’s alright.”
Of course, it was. You nodded rapidly, perhaps too eagerly. If he wanted to hold hands, of course you would hold his hand. He wasn’t blushing, but you had the feeling that he was a bit embarrassed of admitting that he was rather inexperienced in the things of the heart. It was nice to know that perhaps you had that going for you in this situation that you got yourself entangled with.
He started the car, and the station was a sport one, talking about… baseball? “You like baseball?” It was unexpected and yet in character, for him to like baseball. After all, sports like that show the wonderful power of the human body… or at least that’s what you were thinking, trying to relate it to Rohan, somehow.
“I do enjoy it – you’re not a sporty person, though.” You weren’t, and the fact that he knew made you even more aware that he had read a good portion of your life. What hadn’t he read? You wanted to know what he didn’t know.
“Rohan, what’s your favorite color?” He answered and told you yours. The entire trip to the cafe was an exchange of easy to answer questions about him that he answered with both his preference, and yours. His birthday, what he did when he woke up, what he did before going to sleep, his favorite food… Small things you wanted to know. Small things that one should exchange on the first date. It was almost a fun game, the radio station forgotten by the time you managed to reach your destination.
It was a small cafe, one that you usually frequented with Okuyasu, Josuke and Koichi. Both of you sat outside, and he brought out his sketchbook from the inside of his bag. You sat in front of him and watched as he drew the gestures of the people that was walking by. He liked to start with one line that represented the spine, and that helped with the structure of the body. His lines were clean, and every drawing looked exactly as he wanted it to look, not a single mistake in the way his hand moved on the paper. “So that’s the ability of a mangaka, huh?”
“Years of practice – I may be young, but that doesn’t mean I’m inexperienced in this. Nothing in life is ability, is just practice.” That was rather humble coming from him. It was nice to see a different side to his grandiose persona. “But I’m very talented in what I do.” And there it was, his arrogance. It was endearing, really. If it was any other person, perhaps it would come off as too strong, but for him, it was true, it was realistic. He was one of the greatest manga artists at the time and he was barely 23 years old.
“Why do you draw, Rohan?” That was probably a more complex question than the ones you asked before. It was interesting to see the way his face morphed into something more serious, more… him.
“I want people to read me. To see me. This is me. These lines, these stories, they’re what make me, and I want them to be read, to be seen.” You nodded, comprehending the sentiment. An artist’s dream is to be seen by who they are, and they are their art. It was very… real. A very understandable feeling. Even if you weren’t on the same line of work, you could understand. “I already know the answer, but I want to listen to you. Why do you do what you do?”
The answer was simpler – less angelic and less artistic. But you answered to him anyways, with your heart on your sleeve. The two of you spent the morning like that, talking, about your dreams and about the things you liked. He wanted listen to you, even though he already knew so much, and you enjoyed the sound of his voice as well as the soft way his stencil kissed the paper in a contact that was as intimate as sex itself. It was like music, his voice sounding while he drew – you weren’t a metaphorical person, you didn’t like to think so philosophically, but Rohan brought out of your thoughts that were so abstract and yet so tangible. He was truly that amazing.
It was almost midday when you two paused your conversation, falling in a comfortable silence, looking at everyone passing by while Rohan continued to sketch away the day. It was then when he turned his sketch to you. On it, your picture. You… you didn’t know you looked like that. Your eyes widened. The light touched your skin softly, some trees behind your image. Your cup of coffee gracing your lips, your eyes half-lidded. The edges of your mouth were slightly curved upward, a pleasant smile touching your lips. “I’m… Rohan… that’s…”
“You, looking beautiful.” That same burn from before, the burn of the embarrassment, it touched your skin, from your shoulders to the tip of your ears. “I told you, I wanted to draw that. I wanted to draw you.”
You covered your face with your hand. “You make me look beautiful.”
“No, I told you. You are beautiful.”
The months passed by happily. You spent your time balancing between college; Josuke, Okuyasu and Koichi, and Rohan. Josuke’s house became your second home whenever you came back from a date with Rohan; and once Koichi was back from Italy, it almost became a club. Right now, you were on Josuke’s couch. Okuyasu beside you, Koichi and Josuke on the floor.
The conversation soon evolved from normal, to Koichi’s and your relationships. Koichi and Yukako were dating ever since you met him, and now you were dating – officially – Rohan. “I just can’t believe Rohan settled for a woman like you.” Okuyasu was the nicest, most sensible of friends – as you could clearly see if you were blind.
“Wow thank you Okuyasu.” He laughed when you threw at him one of the cushions of the couch. “I’m very happy with him by the way, thank you very much!”
“Give details! Josuke is the only one who gets to know the good stuff.” Koichi turned his head to look at you. “What’s like to date Kishibe Rohan?”
Well… that was an interesting question. “Whenever we don’t meet, he calls me in the morning, and I call him at night. Usually, when he has too much work he’s stressed, so I go by to his house and try to make up some coffee and clean his office while he works. Last time, when I was in finals, he came by to my apartment and… well, he brought me flowers. And we had dinner. He offered to write on me that I was able to do mathematics easily, but I told him that felt like cheating… so he wrote it in himself to help me correct a few of my attempts.” All the men present except Josuke had their mouth wide open. Certainly, not the Rohan they knew. “He erased it after, by the way.”
“Wait wait, but what about the arrogant asshole I know?” Okuyasu was, once again, your most sincere friend.
“He’s still an arrogant asshole, but I like it. If he doesn’t like the clothes I have on, we go shopping so he can choose MY clothes. Mind you, he asked if I minded and I just laughed it off, of course I don’t. I don’t like that he pays the most expensive pieces though, so I’m thinking about starting to work part-time again.” You sighed, that was going to add up to the time you couldn’t meet with him.
“So, he insults your fashion sense and you’re still dating him? You really do like him, huh?” Koichi looked surprised that someone other than him could talk to Rohan without losing their shit. You smiled cheekily and nodded. You really did like him. It started by attraction, but watching him draw, watching him love what he does, talk about his work so passionately… It was endearing. “Oh, oh you got it bad.”
Josuke his head against your legs. “All this talk about how much you like Rohan makes me want a girl for myself, damn, and I’m not the type of person to ponder into a relationship.”
“Oh, come on Josuke, you can get any girl you like.” You dismantled his hairstyle ruffling his strands. He didn’t mind; letting his hair fall down his shoulders. “Oh whoa, the lion today is really depressed if he’s letting me mess with his hairdo, what’s wrong?”
“I’m not depressed, I’m letting you mess with my hair because I’m in a good mood, that’s the difference.” He pointed out, and you continued to caress him. “I’m also surprised it has grown this long.”
“You’ve not cut it since last year, are you truly that surprised?” Koichi intercepted the conversation. “Anyways, do you guys want pizza? I’m getting hungry.”
“I should be on my way actually; Rohan and I are going to have dinner.” You stood up from the couch. “We should hangout more often though, I miss you guys.” The three of them threw cushions at you and you began to laugh. “Hey, let me be soft for once.” You said between laughters.
“Not in my household, you can be soft with your boyfriend.”
“On my way to do just that sir, thank you.” They all growled as you left the house. You smiled to yourself. Imagining Rohan as your boyfriend was different, a different taste to his name. On your way home, as always, you saluted Angelo with a smile, and you could swear the rock answered back to you with a grunt.
Once you were back on your apartment, you checked your phone which was left on the table beside the door. On the phone, a message. Rohan was going to pick you up at 7p.m. It was just 6, so you had time to take a shower and relax, as well as put on some clothes you thought he would like. You wanted to return his chrysoberyl necklace to him, he would probably appreciate it and since you two have been dating for a few months, it’d be a nice surprise.
You relaxed on the shower, feeling the warmth of the water washing away your stress. You allowed your mind to travel through the last few months. Rohan and you took things slowly, Rohan was inexperienced and surprisingly sweet. He kissed your cheek whenever he said goodbye, on some occasions on his house he kissed your forehead. It wasn’t much, but it was enough for you.
He used you a few times as a model; and never asked for you to take your clothes off. It came as a surprise to him when you decided to take off your top and your pants and modeled to him on underwear. He sighed, as if completely enchanted by your image, and he painted you with a look that you could only describe as… as adoration.
You smiled at the memory. He didn’t touch you, but the way he drew made you feel as if you were touched. Once he was done, he covered your body with a cloth, and kissed your scalp, whispering to you how beautiful you were. It was a lovely memory, an intimate memory, that you kept close to your heart.
You changed into your clothes, something he had bought for you. It was casual, but probably enough. You wondered if you were enough for him, enough for the image he gave to the world. Were you the perfect partner? The partner he wanted. One he could grow with. You didn’t know. Perhaps you weren’t, but you liked him all the same. Perhaps a little bit more than that. Maybe you loved him. Maybe? No. It was a fact. You were in love with Kishibe Rohan. You loved when he hated you when you interrupted him working, you loved waking up hugging him when you two fell asleep on his couch.
You loved how he hated some vegetables and put them on the side of his plate when he thought you weren’t looking, how his eyes would shine when you managed to get him a new brush.
You loved him whole.
Light make-up, your clothes ready, you sat on your bed waiting for Rohan to arrive. You settled the chrysoberyl necklace on your neck, and it was a perfect fit for your clothes. You were happy with the combination. Over your bed a homework you had forgotten you had due to Monday — but it was PROBABLY fine. You could do it tomorrow. Part of the whole ‘college experience’ was socializing, was it not?
It was 6:58 when there were three knocks at your door. It was fun to notice the small details Rohan had – he was always on time, he liked to knock three times, and he waited a minute before he knocked again. You went to the door, and when you opened, he was as beautiful as he always looked. “Hello, handsome.” You kissed his cheek, and went out through the door, closing it behind you. He smiled – it was subtle, he wasn’t good at opening himself too much, he disliked feeling vulnerable.
He noticed the necklace right away, and he touched it softly with his index and thumb of his right hand. “Chrysoberyl really looks good on you.” Your fingers graced his own, and you brought his hand to your face, making his palm rest against your cheek.
“Thank you, but I’m sure it would look even better around your neck.” His thumb moves against your skin, very lightly, very sweetly. He didn’t answer – however, you were sure he’d say that it was true. You let go of him and brought your hands behind your neck to take it off you, with the full intention of returning it now. You just wanted him to see you with something that was rightfully his, because you were sure he’d understand the context behind it. You wanted him to read between the lines. He stopped you, bringing you into a hug before you could pull the necklace off.
“Let it stay there. I like how it sits on your skin. You’re dressed by me, I like it. You look beautiful. Let me enjoy the sight of you, let me drink it.”
He was… so good with words. You rested your head in the crook of his neck, letting the smell of his cologne (you were sure it was S.T. DuPont, the smell of lemon so subtle but still present). “Do you like to dress me, Rohan?”
“I like everything about you. Your fashion sense is sometimes off, but you, your skin, your eyes, your energy… your favorite animal, how you enjoy the days when it’s raining but only when you’re at home, how you’re insecure when you look in the mirror, I love how unaware you are of your presence in a room, how small you feel. But I like dressing you, because that way I can let the world see what I see. That you’re beautiful.” He tilted your head and kissed the corner of your lips. Your face was burning, your entire body was burning. His lips were so tender, not touching your own. “Let’s go, I don’t want to starve you.”
You were dragged out of your apartment building, still feeling as if your body was numbed only by his words. In the radio of his car, the station that was on wasn’t, surprisingly, a sport one. He was listening to Barbra Streisand. “I didn’t know you liked Barbra’s music.”
“I feel like her voice is like listening to a person drawing a picture. In memories, I can picture her standing under the night sky, with a full moon shining over her as she walks in the middle of a road that leads nowhere. I enjoy listening to her because I can imagine the painting in my head.” His eyes were shining, you didn’t know if from the light of the road or from the passion of his small speech. “I don’t spend most of my time listening to baseball, you know?” He chuckled lightly.
“Please, I know. When you’re drawing you like silence? You don’t even like when I talk to you because I’m distracting you.” He looked almost offended at the very idea that he didn’t like to listen to you while he drew. “Kishibe Rohan, your brow twitches whenever I talk to you while you draw, you try your best to not show it, but I caught on after the third time.” You held his hand, bringing it close to your lips, kissing his knuckles. “It’s fine. I like that part of you, too.”
“You’re insufferable when you think you know what goes through my mind.” You laughed, because you knew he didn’t mean it.
“Well, most of the time you know what’s going on through mine and you never hear me complaining.” You retorted. He didn’t reply. He lost. He didn’t like losing, not one bit. He still gambled with Josuke from time to time and most of the time, the bets didn’t go further than two thousand yen (you liked to believe it was your influence, whenever Rohan was about to bet too much, you stopped him with a soft touch on his hand). “Anyways, where are we going?”
He sighed, still feeling slightly defeated. “There’s this really good restaurant on the edge of town. There’s a really beautiful view of the beach, and I thought you might like it.”
“You’re sure you just don’t want to sketch the beach underneath the stars?”
“If I can take you out and sketch at the same time, it’s a small victory for both of us, isn’t it?” He laughed, a sound you didn’t hear often. It was sweet, it filled your heart with so much joy. “Koichi told me about it, he says the view is really breathtaking.”
“I wonder if he went there with Yukako. Probably to apologize. You know? Because he didn’t call much when he was in Italy.” He probably spent much of his time sightseeing. No time to call his girlfriend. “You’ve gone to Italy, haven’t you? How is it? You probably sketched the entire trip too.”
“I have, and I may have about a hundred sketches. The architecture was beautiful. Nothing wasted. The Fontana Di Trevi was probably my favorite spot.” Fontana Di Trevi? You’ve never heard of it before. It was probably beautiful indeed, especially if it was Rohan’s favorite place on Italy. “Perhaps one day we can go together.”
You turned to him, surprise painting your face. He said such a statement as if it was a normal occurrence, as if it was an obvious situation meant to happen at some point. His face was completely serious, his eyes looking at the road ahead with a tranquility that reflected his peace of mind. “Do you really want to go to Italy with me, Rohan?”
His hand, which was still holding yours, tightened its grip. “Someday, If we’re still together.”
The edges of your mouth curved upward. You were unable to hide your smile. You turned your head to the road, intertwining your fingers with Rohan’s. “But I’m the one taking you to Italy, if we ever go.”
He hummed, considering the offer. “Then I’m taking you to Cairo.”
“Well, I’m taking you to England.” The conversation kept going like that, you two speaking of the places you wanted to take each other. It was funny, sweet. You knew all his promises, he could fulfill, and he knew you would work so you could fulfill yours. You didn’t want to live off him, and he didn’t want to let you feel useless.
The two of you arrived at the small restaurant and you sat by the window. Indeed, the view was wonderful. The stars reflected on the water, making the darkness of the sky be less intimidating. There were some lights close to shore, bringing even more life to the scene. “Koichi was right, this place is wonderful.” You mentioned absentmindedly, your eyes wandering around the scene. “It’s almost as if the water shines on its own.”
“… Gorgeous.” When you turned your face to look at Rohan, he wasn’t looking at the view. He was looking at you. “You are.” You covered your face with both your hands and muffled a small scream. That was so cliché, so awfully cliché, and yet, you were swoon away by it. “You’re so easy to fluster, I like that about you.”
“I can’t do this to you, I can’t catch you off guard. It’s unfair.” You said behind your hands, feeling the hotness of your face traveling down to your neck.
“You did though, when I read you.” He leaned over the table, taking your hands off your face with his own. “I read so much. You liked me since the first time you saw me, and even though I looked at you with a sneer, you thought I had the most beautiful face you’ve seen. Then I read that you thought I was a bit arrogant, but you thought that overconfidence only made me more interesting. You didn’t think I was annoying, not unlikable, even though I antagonize Josuke so much. I was, for the first time, embarrassed. That a woman had seen me and taken my dislike head on and still was… enchanted.” He brought your hands to his lips and kissed them, softly, sweetly. “I thought ‘that’s a gem, she just doesn’t know it’. I was right.”
You lowered your face until your forehead touched the table. He was so much, almost too much. “Rohan, you’re going to kill me.” He was always like this, always reminding you how precious you were, how beautiful, how amazing. “You’re always so composed, and when you talk to me like that, I feel like I’m going to burn from inside out.” Your heart was beating so fast you could feel it in your throat. You straightened your back, and he let go of both your hands.
It was then when a waitress approached the two of you with a smile on her face. “Can I take your orders? By the way, I’m a big fan of yours, mister Kishibe.” She turned to you with a big, pleased smile. “I hope you take care of your husband.”
Today was the day that you were going to die out of embarrassment. Yeah, it was today. You were about to refute her statement, but Rohan stopped you mid sentence, thanking the girl for her support and asking for both your food and his (you didn’t mind him asking for your food, he already knew your favorites anyways). “You just planned this date to kill me from embarrassment.” You deadpanned.
“I’m find it cute that you’re so shy.” He chuckled. That was it. You decided right then and there. You narrowed your eyes as you looked at your boyfriend, thinking on a way to embarrass him – and you knew exactly how.
The rest of the date passed in almost regular tranquility. Some waitresses and waiters came by to look at the two of you dining, probably due to Rohan’s influence, but other than that, the conversations were about the taste of the food, and about the scenery, which Rohan ended drawing more than two times because he couldn’t find a composition he liked.
So, it was at 12:20a.m. that the two of you were just outside your apartment’s building – and you thought that was the perfect moment for your small revenge. A piece of information you were aware he didn’t know. Something that changed inside of you, that would catch him off guard. You turned your entire body to him, and held his forearm, making him come to a stop right before the entryway of the apartment. “Rohan. I love you.” It was blunt, and after you said it, you felt as if hell was caught in your throat.
You didn’t move an inch though and did not stop meeting his gaze. You saw the way his eyes widened slightly, his brow furrowing a little, the tint on his cheeks that you could remember so well from the morning he read you. He opened his mouth, not finding the right words, and closed it. You thought that perhaps it was too soon, too strong? “You don’t have to s—” His mouth met yours mid-sentence.
It was chaste, something filled with inexperience. Something you had the advantage of. Your noses were awkwardly positioned, so you moved your head slowly, so that the position was more comfortable for the two of you. He had his eyes closed, very forcefully so, as if he was afraid. He felt stiff. Your hands cupped his face, and your thumbs massaged his cheekbones. You closed your eyes as well, and just kept dancing along with his lips. He was a clumsy kisser, but his clumsiness just made him more endearing.
It was short-lived, a sweet memory in front of your apartment. Something you could remember while still underneath the water of the shower. “I love you.” You repeated, your forehead against his. You could feel his bandana touching against your skin. “When you’re an asshole, when you’re sweet, when you’re smug, when you act like you know it all. I love you. All of you. I felt attracted when I saw you, but I fell in love when I got to know you. How you like to sit in the same spot all the time, how you like to make me feel like I’m equal to you, you go all out to make me feel beautiful and I love you, I love you so much. When you hate me, when you like me, all of you.”
He didn’t answer. He was probably shocked. Understandably so. You liked to have that power sometimes, the power to make him feel powerless. He sighed, breathily. “You talk about embarrassment, but—”
You kissed the words off him, a small peck on the lips. “I’m sorry, you’re not obligated to say it yet if you don’t feel it.”
“I’ll say it, someday.” He whispered; it was fine if he wasn’t ready. If he was unable to say it didn’t mean he didn’t feel it.
“I’ll wait for you, Rohan. You can read it all over if you need any reassurance. You can open me up and read me as many times as you want— I’ll wait, until we both can go to Cairo, to England, to Italy.” You smiled; his face still cupped between your hands. “I managed to fluster you, though. I think that’s how I love you the most.” Your heart was beating harshly against your chest. You were embarrassed, but happy that you weren’t alone.
“You’re so insufferable, when you think you know all that’s going through my mind.” He kissed your forehead, and you chuckled. Yeah, embarrassed Rohan was the one you loved the most.
Hellooooooooo I've been gone so long I'm sorry but I'm back.
I'll update the request rules!
Chapter 4: Dolce Dolore
"Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color." - W.S. Merwin
Thank you so much for all the lovely comments, this one here is to fill a request for Bruno and the Buccigang. It was hard to write HAHAHA, much more harder than I care to admit. I appreciate all your kind words <3
Sweet Little Lies is a song by bülow.
Sweet Lies is a eurodance band from Germany that worked from the decade of the 90's to the 2000.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The graveyard became like a second home for you – and wine became your favorite drink.
Whenever you weren’t out in the open doing missions for Giorno, you were there, sitting over the gravestone of the man you came to love as much as Icarus loved the sun.
Naples was unchanged ever since he died – the only thing that ‘evolved’ was the number of gravestones. Trish sometimes came along with you, and her hand found yours in one of those silent days in which the two of you walked through the cemetery – she wasn’t crying, but you knew very well what it felt like to hold back the tears, so you held her hand as the two of you got out of graveyard – that time was the last she ever came with you.
Trish became an actress not long after that, and she married a handsome, wealthy man that kept her at least slightly happier than she was with your bunch. You went to the wedding, on one of your arms Giorno, looking as marvelous as he always did – on the other, Guido, who, to your surprise, decided to clean up and finally take off his hat – it was the first time in forever that you three were together outside of Giorno’s office – it was the first time that you were not speaking about work. You dressed black – not because you were against the wedding in anyway, as most of the etiquette would say, but because it was a color that became the most usual to you. You were eternally mourning those you lost to Diavolo and his men. Especially, the one you loved the most.
Trish kissed your eyelids when she came closer to say goodbye, almost as an apology for the help she couldn’t provide, almost as a wish that it was you the one who married the man you loved and not her – but Bruno was long gone, and both of you knew it. You cupped her face, her hair longer and falling between your fingers as a cascade. She looked beautiful, as an angel walking among mortals. “Be happy, love.” You told her, and kissed her forehead, as if blessing her.
She hugged both Guido and Giorno, and they almost left her breathless with the force they put on their hold. Her husband was beautiful, but stoic, he didn’t even bother sharing a smile when Giorno and Guido returned to your side. You stood tall and mighty, a woman of the mafia, and looked down on him, a very clear warning that if he ever hurt Trish, all the pain he caused would come multiplied by a thousand.
Trish’s husband’s eyes fell to the ground then, clearly understanding what your eyes meant. They went away soon after, leaving the San Gregorio Armeno church with their guests. There would be a reception, but you weren’t in a mood for parties; Guido perhaps would go, and Giorno was probably going to return to his work on his office, the one only you and Guido knew about.
You held their hands in-between yours. “I’m leaving, I’ll see you two soon.” You told them, and both seemed worried. Giorno’s fingers tightened around your palm – he was trembling, and your brow furrowed in confusion. “What’s wrong?”
He let you go a second later and turned his back to look at the San Gregorio’s nave, taking a few steps towards altar. People around him seemed to be inexistent – the bright colors of the baroque decoration of San Gregorio making Giorno seem like a Renaissance’s painting. Like he was a chosen one in the flesh. “It was nothing, Mista, please do accompany her to her home.”
Guido nodded, and you felt his hand leaving yours and falling on your shoulder. “Let’s go, caro mío.” He began to guide you to the outside, but you couldn’t help but turn to look and Giorno one last time. He was looking to the church’s ceiling, his eyes reflecting the paintings above – he was still quivering, his eyelids twitching as he looked to the angels painted on the roof. He… He appeared as that young boy he once told you about, the one with the big window left open, and no one at home to close it.
Walking arm in arm with Guido felt like the old times. He was still the warm and sunny man you knew back when the two of you were younger – perhaps… perhaps a bit thinner. “I’m sorry that Giorno made you come with me, I’m sure you would’ve liked to go to the reception.”
He laughed – but the smile did not reach his eyes. “No, I wasn’t up to looking to Trish’s husband like I’m about to bite his head off all night. I was going to go home anyways.”
You hummed and rested your head against Guido’s shoulder. “I don’t like him either, but it’s probably because I feel too protective over Trish. No man deserves her, in my eyes. She’s too good.” Guido made a sound akin to an agreement. “I remember back in the day, I used to joke around Bruno, telling him what dress I wanted to use for our wedding. Watching her marrying brought so many bittersweet memories.”
Guido’s shoulder tensed underneath your shoulder. There were too many wounds that were still fresh even if so, many years passed by. “What did you want your dress to look like?”
You told him, barely really listening to your own voice. Your mind was somewhere far, within your memories. Back when you and Bruno laid on bed naked, talking mindlessly about what you wanted your lives to be at some point. You told him about the flowers you wanted at your wedding, about the dress, about how you wanted your hair, and he just laughed and kissed your temple. It was so long ago, the two of you were so young. You didn’t notice when your eyes began to dampen with tears until Guido’s fingers graced your cheeks, wiping away the salty drops. “You would’ve looked gorgeous.”
You chuckled, and with your free hand you finished cleaning the tears from your face. “Thank you. But you know, it’s very selfish that I’m the only one talking about the sad. How are you, Guido? We… We really haven’t talked about… ‘it’, huh? … I know here…” You patted his chest. “It still must hurt.”
You felt his fingers capturing your own over his chest, feeling his heartbeat as the two of you walked down the streets of Naples. “Narancia is the one who hurts the most, I guess. Even now.” You nodded against his shoulder. “He was young and had an entire life ahead of him. But no one said the mafia was easy.”
You sighed. “Do you remember when he joined?” He seemed so angry at Bruno and yet, so infatuated with him. He loved Bruno almost as much as you did – one of the many nights in which he couldn’t sleep he told you about how much of a hero Bruno was for him. Such a sweet child… So, so, so young… you missed him. You missed him so much it hurt.
“Of course. He was fifteen and looked so angry and happy at the same time.” You laughed. He was — so many disconnected emotions. By the week you had already taken a liking to the kid and wanted to protect him. He felt so small compared to everyone, so innocent.
Your laughter came to a stop. “Even Leone wanted to keep him safe. In the end… we couldn’t even do that much. We… couldn’t protect them.” You sighed, feeling defeated. “I barely feel like we won. I’m alive but what is living without them, Guido? I wake up every morning and go to the graveyard, I feel like I have all the gravestones memorized by now.”
Guido stopped then and turned your body, so you were face to face with him. His eyes met yours, and there was so much pain there, so much sorrow. “We have to keep going. For them. You’re our best negotiator, Sweet Lies is the greatest weapon in diplomacy. You can’t… give up on us. Giorno and I are still here… Even Pannacotta is still here.”
You couldn’t keep eye contact with him, you tried to look down, but he held your chin up, keeping your gaze intertwined with his. “This world feels grey without Bruno, Guido. Even if I don’t do the unthinkable because I would never leave you and Giorno… I am still so empty.”
“I know, I know you do – I do too, I can’t even look at myself in the mirror without feeling nauseous…” He brought you close to him, your face falling on his shoulder. You felt his acromion push against your face – he was much thinner than before. “I know how you feel and I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I can’t help you.”
Your arms found their way to the small of his back: you tried to hold back your tears, but you couldn’t, you couldn’t avoid the way your body tensed and the way your cries escaped your mouth. He soothed you to the best of his ability, moving his fingers in circles over your skin – the closer you were, the more you could feel his ribs against your thorax. “I didn’t say goodbye, Guido. The motherfucker didn’t allow me one last kiss. Everything happened so fast and I’m— How can I move on? He wanted children, he wanted a family, he wanted so many things and I didn’t give them to him! He gave me… He gave me a damn ring…”
Guido kissed your temple, softly, and allowed you to cry. Your eyes were close, but sometimes, you could feel some drops falling over your skin. Guido was crying too. It was hard, to even think of moving on. So many memories filled your mind with sweetness; you brought Guido closer to you – burying your face in the nape of his neck. “We met back when we were barely kids. He wanted to be a fisherman and I, I had no dreams – my mother died of overdose, my father was a motherfucker who didn’t even come to the funeral. I had no home and h-his father… he gave me a place to stay. And Bruno and I became best friends, and then, something more…”
You remember how sweet your first kiss was. Bruno’s father was so happy when the two of you came home holding hands, when he confessed to his father that the two of you were together. The bed was never small for the two of you ever since the moment you became a couple.
When his father became sick, you remember how Bruno would visit him daily – and once his father died, he used his favorite cologne, one small bottle of Blenheim Bouquet that was left in Bruno’s father’s room. It smelled slightly like citrus. Whenever Bruno hugged you each morning, the hints of the cologne would engulf you, and you would breath him in, letting his essence surround you and swallow you whole.
Guido’s soft kisses to your face brought you back to the present, small, delicate touches of his lips on the tip of your nose, your forehead, your eyelids. ‘Kissing away the tears’ was something you could only see happening in things such as movies, and yet, there was Guido, doing just that. The sensation was ticklish, quite different from Bruno’s sweetness – his lips were rougher, even when he was trying to be delicate. You brought your hand up to his face. His eyes so different from Bruno’s, so dark and filled with secrets.
Bruno could never keep secrets; his eyes gave him away instantly. Guido though – he seemed to be able to hide the mysteries of the entire world in his eyes and no one would ever find them. You chuckled sadly and caressed with your thumb his cheekbones. He was thinner – so much that it made you wonder if he was eating at all. “Want to go home? At some point people will look at us weirdly if we stay out in the cold for long. Especially with all the crying.” You whispered, and he nodded. The sclera of his eyes was red, you could see some small veins starting to show; he had cried just as hard as you, but you were too lost in memories to notice.
The rest of the way home, you held hands and silently walked around the streets of Naples. When you two reached your apartment, you turned to Guido. He was absentmindedly looking to a small window by the end of a long hallway. He was probably thinking about the old days, about all of you living together in the same home. “Hey, Guido. Want to sleepover? Like the old times.”
He turned to look at you and nodded – still feeling out of it. It would’ve been better if Giorno came along too. He probably needed someone to look after him too. Your apartment was a mess, but you weren’t really one to be extremely organized to begin with; Guido wasn’t one to mind it, in any case. You turned on the light, to reveal a few boxes of food, glasses and bottles of wine all around. “You’ve been drinking.” He whispered in your ear, the worry in his tone not escaping you.
“I’m better.” You lied between your teeth, picking up some of the boxes and threw them in a trashcan by the counter on the kitchen. “Do you want me to cook something for you? There must be something edible in my freezer.” Maybe some pasta? You looked at a clock on the wall of your home. It was around one in the morning. Perfect hour for pasta, honestly. Guido seemed to need it, too.
He stood beside you, his forehead falling right atop of yours. “Sleep, don’t you have a meeting with Matthew Ianniello tomorrow?”
Your eyes widened, then you massaged your temples, exasperated. “I forgot. I don’t even think I have appropriate clothes for the meeting… Urgh, if it wasn’t because Giorno needs this…”
“Sweet Lies is going to help you, come on. Let’s get to bed.” He pushed you around your apartment, towards your bedroom. The sheets on the bed were the only thing that was clean. You kept the bed as pristine as possible. Bruno hated leaving the sheets a mess, so you kind of took that from him. It was almost accidental, how your mind always wandered to him. “Do you need help off the dress?” Guido was already taking off his suit. You were glad that all of you had seen each other naked more than once.
First few times it was awkward, after the eleventh time you saw Narancia running from the bathroom to the room and the seventh that Leone entered your and Bruno’s room without knocking, all of you simply stopped caring about things such as shame, even to the point of asking Guido to help you find your undergarments because Narancia thought it was funny to hide them while Bruno was away on a mission. Such were the times in which your family was together. It seemed like so long ago. “Yeah, please. Zipping this up was a nightmare, I’m glad I don’t have to repeat the process.” He was quick to work the zipper down, his calloused fingers touching the skin of your back delicately. As the silk went down, you felt the cold of the night kissing your back; it was a relief.
Underneath your dress, you didn’t bother to put on a brassiere – so you stood before Guido, almost completely naked. Having the eyes of a man over your nude body wasn’t something you weren’t used to, however, since Bruno’s death, you hadn’t indulged even in the thought of the company of another in the long, cold nights. Guido was the first man to ever see you bare since Bruno died, but honestly, you didn’t feel aroused, and when you turned around, covering your chest with both your hands, you could see that Guido wasn’t feeling any sexual excitement either.
He was shirtless, and down to his undergarments too, and yet, even though his manhood was only hidden by a thin layer of cloth, you couldn’t see not even the tiniest signal of arousal in him. You sighed, and then chuckled. Both of you were pretty much mad at this point, almost fully naked in front of one another and not feeling anything but a different type of intimacy. You were too tired to even consider putting on some clothes, so you decided to fall in bed just as you were. Guido fell right after you; his face turned to look at you in the eye. You left the lights of the room on and you were too tired to bother – and Guido appeared to be the same. You snuggled closer to him, resting your head softly against his trapezium. Your hands fell over his slightly more prominent ribs, and his went to your waist.
It was a cold night, but at least Guido didn’t let it feel as cold.
The next morning, you woke up to snoring. You tried to sit up in bed, only to realize that you were trapped underneath a man that was slightly heavier than what he appeared to be. Guido was snoring loudly, and you had to cover your mouth because you were about to laugh out loud about it. At some point in the night, he ended completely falling over you, his head now resting over your breasts as he dreamt. Even with you trying to stand up, he didn’t move, nor did he appeared to be disturbed.
So, instead of trying to wake him up by force, your head fell back to the pillow, deciding to simply watch as he slept. Guido had long eyelashes – a detail you hadn’t noticed last night with all the crying you two did. His hair was longer than before too, almost reaching his shoulders. At some point of the night, his hair must’ve gotten free from the tail that he had. Your exhaustion must’ve been strong since you didn’t notice him struggle so much in his sleep. He looked younger, with his hair down, and without his usual hat.
His brown (almost black, if you were honest) hair was wavy, falling delicately on your skin. He was so different from Bruno, his sun kissed look contrasting with Bruno’s snowy skin. You touched Guido’s hair, and it was soft, and yet still not as soft as the silky strands that came from Bruno’s scalp. You noticed that your eyes were hurting, probably agitated from yesterday, your head was also hurting a bit. You wished it was the headache of a hangover instead of the result of sobbing.
Five minutes passed in which you continued to pet Guido’s hair, and soon, a grunt left the sleepy man’s mouth. “Urgh… I hate mornings.”
“Did you know you snore? And loudly too.” You smiled when you saw the tint of pink coloring Guido’s cheeks – he also had some big bags underneath his eyes. “Good morning, by the way. Was your pillow comfortable?”
It was then when he noticed he was lying right above your breasts. He didn’t make any attempt to move though, too comfy with the warmth. “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to move.”
“I don’t mind, I would let you sleep if it wasn’t because I have a meeting with Ianniello at ten.” He buried himself deeper on your chest, making you giggle. “Come on Guido, I need to go. Pannacotta is going to be there and if I’m not, that meeting is going to go down exactly like we don’t want it.”
“Uhrg, alright.” Guido moved to the side, letting you sit up in bed. Your body was hurting all over from the constant pressure from Guido sleeping over you, but at the same time, you felt… Better. Better perhaps was not the right term – but you felt… happier, than many, many mornings in which you woke up alone. Waking up with someone was… nice. You felt a pair of fingers playing on the edge of your panties, and you turned to see Guido, laying on his left side. “What’s up? Is that a subtle way of asking for a quickie? Not working.”
He laughed and shook his head. “They’re too tight, they’re leaving marks.”
You noticed the soft pressure your panties had on your skin – that pressure would leave a mark if you used them too often. “Ah, it’s true. They are quite old.” You took them off, letting yourself sit completely naked on the bed. Guido’s gaze didn’t change, he was simply looking over your figure with innocent interest. You turned half your, raising your left leg so your chin rested over your knee. “You know? You’re one of the best men I know.”
“How so?” He asked, his back laying completely flat on the mattress.
“I’m completely bare in front of you, and you’ve not tried to take advantage of this at all. You’re just… looking curiously at me. You know I’m sad and I’m easy, just one right move and I’d be underneath you. And yet, nothing.”
He sat up, then, crossing his legs and cupping your face and bringing it close to his, his forehead touching yours. “What a horrible perception of men you have. I am not going to use you.”
“I know you won’t. I know you nor Giorno would ever. I’m glad Bruno came to meet such wonderful people. I’m glad I did.” Your hands covered his own. “Do you have work early? Do you want to stay? I’ll be back around twelve.”
“Yeah, I’ll stay. Giorno wants to see you at four, by the way. So, I’ll go with you.”
You were suited up, ready for your meeting with Matthew Ianniello. By the door of the small private section of the restaurant Palazzo Petrucci was Pannacotta, waiting for you with his shoulders tense. He was looking at the wall, and he seemed so small. You touched his shoulder softly, and he turned around, almost ready to hit you, stopping a few centimeters before the hit landed on your face. “Pannacotta, calm down.”
He sighed, whispering your name under his breath. “You’re here. I’m sorry, I’m just—”
“Nervous, I know. You always are.” You exhaled loudly. You… It was hard to work with Pannacotta for you. You didn’t blame him for leaving you all back when he did. You truly didn’t. But it was hard for your logic to be on sync with your feelings. Pannacotta was a sweet man – he loved Narancia a hundred times more than you did… But you couldn’t ignore that his power might’ve saved everyone. You tried to smile at him, tried to reassure him a small gesture that everything was going to be fine.
You called forth Sweet Lies. The form of your Stand was strange, roses growing out of your throat. It almost looked as an ornament, and the sweet smell that was emanating from it seemed to come from inside of you. “Let’s head in.” You opened the door, standing as tall as you could.
On the right side of the table, a tall and broad man sat. By his side, two bodyguards. “Hello, mister Ianniello.” You smiled kindly, your gaze not becoming any kinder. “I am here on behalf of Passione.” You told him your name and took a sit on the left edge of the small table.
“I am very aware. We are here to talk about the ‘sugar’.” You nodded, Pannacotta got you a few folders containing some contracts that were meant for this negotiation.
“Mister Ianniello, we are going to be very clear with you now. We have very… particular restrictions that must be fulfilled for us to agree to this negotiation.” You opened the first folder, on the front page, written very delicately, the conditions to be followed by Matthew Ianniello. You passed it to him. “We are against the distribution of any type of drugs to children or women. If we by chance hear that in Manhattan these stablished rules are broken, we are going to take action.” The sweet smell of your Stand was beginning to fill the room. “These are not threats, simply warnings. You must comprehend that Passione will not treat lightly to the unfulfillment of these conditions.”
“So, if we agree to these conditions… what’s the benefit that we will get?” You smiled, softening your gaze – all part of manipulation.
“Well, mister Ianniello, you know how great our prices are. We only ask for forty five percent of the sells, whereas others will ask for sixty.” The flowery smell was overwhelming. You saw Ianniello’s pupils begin to grow. Sweet Lies was starting to cause a reaction. “We are willing to even lower it to forty, but that would be after the deal is done and our first months are secured.”
Two hours went by, and the negotiations were done. Matthew Ianiello was pleased with the result, and Sweet Lies helped you persuade him into signing all the contracts without denial. Pannacotta and you sat alone on the room after Ianiello was gone, and you were pleased with the result. You called off Sweet Lies, and it vanished, as if it was never there. Your throat felt slightly agitated, but other than that, you were mostly fine. “Pannacotta, you know what to do with the papers.” You stood, passing him the folders containing the contracts signed by Matthew Ianniello.
Pannacotta nodded, sighing tiredly. “I prefer a million times the company of papers over the company of people.” You knew. Pannacotta only liked a few selected individuals. Giorno, Guido and you just happened to be the ones who remained alive from the people he liked – which, in turn, caused him to be a bit overprotective, overbearing and to live with a guilt as high as the Everest itself. It was hard for you to care about him and hate him at the same time. You wanted him to feel like he could trust you – because you would turn hell cold if anything ever happened to him, but you also wanted him to comprehend that you couldn’t forgive him… Because forgiving meant forgetting, and you didn’t want to let go of those feelings you had deep inside, still stabbing your heart every day.
You sighed, thinking back at Trish and how beautiful she looked yesterday. How her rosy cheeks shone underneath the yellowy lights of the San Gregorio Armeno’s church. The years passed, and she managed to continue with her life. You turned to look at Pannacotta, who was looking down to the contracts, reading to see if there were any mistakes. You bent down, kissing his forehead. He looked up to you, eyes as wide as plates, you simply smiled at him – sadly, but still, much more sincere than before. “I’ll see you later, Pannacotta.”
He nodded, and you left without saying another word.
You walked around Naples, feeling a little lighter since the meeting had gone as you expected it to go – now that you had… accepted some of the things that couldn’t be changed. You crossed right in front of the graveyard… and you were tempted to head right in… but you knew Guido was on your apartment, waiting for you to return.
You counted the gravestones, knowing perfectly well how many until you reached Bruno’s – twenty-three. It was close, you could just go there and simply say hi to him, like you did everyday… But you thought back on Guido. He was probably on your apartment, perhaps in your bed. He was probably hungry and ignoring that hunger due to the pain. If you wanted to make things better… For all of you, you needed to begin with yourself. “Bruno… I… I need to stop this.” You looked to the inside of the graveyard, so lonely and cold, but you did not take a step to head inside. “I… I need to take care of them, now. I love you, so much, so much it hurts, and I’ll miss you every day of my life.” Your voice quivered at the end of your sentence. To the eyes of a stranger, you must’ve looked insane. “I’ll take care of them. Trish taught me one big lesson yesterday… We all need… To keep walking.”
You stood there for a few seconds – feeling a breeze coming to you, as if caressing your face with the expertise of a lover. You smiled, feeling the gentle, invisible fingers touching your cheeks, and a soft caress on your lips. The edges of your mouth moved upward. “Thank you.”
You resumed walking to your apartment. Once you opened the door, you were greeted by the sight of a clean floor and a sleeping Guido on your sofa. All the wine bottles, all the food boxes… gone. You gaped at the cleaners of your apartment, even more surprised to realize that it was probably Guido, in his attempt to cheer you up.
He laid on the couch, still shirtless, but using one of your pajama pants. It was rather small for him, but still managed to cover most of his legs and thighs. “Guido?” You called, waking towards him. The only answer you received was a snore. You paused right in front of him and lowered your head until your forehead was touching his. “Guido?” You repeated his name – you were closer, and you said it louder.
He opened one eye and stared at you with a bit of annoyance. “Five more minutes, please.”
You chuckled. “I’ll invite you a margarita.” You whispered, and his eyes opened in a childish excitement. “Thank you for cleaning this mess up, Guido. You really didn’t need to.”
He scratched the back of his neck; you took one step back to give him some space. “Don’t worry ‘bout it. I just got bored and decided to help you out a bit.”
You wanted to call him out on his lie, you weren’t an expert like Bruno was, but you could tell the way he nervously scratched his neck and how his pupil was looking towards the right side of his brain instead of the left – but he was probably trying to maintain some pride, so you simply let it slide. You sat beside him, resting your head on his shoulder. He was probably uncomfortable with your suit, since it was rather hot today, but he said nothing. “Let’s get some pizza for Giorno too.”
Guido nodded, and absentmindedly he surrounded your shoulders with his arm. The position made your head fall on his chest. It surprised you that he smelled as if he was recently showered – you totally recognized that shampoo brand he was using, it was yours. “You took a shower.” You gasped. Yesterday it didn’t come as a surprise that he had taken a shower since it was Trish’s wedding, but today? Where was the Guido you knew?
“I do shower, you know. And I did sweat a lot cleaning your home.” His answer was filled with sarcasm – you did your best to contain your laugh. “Also, the climate change and all that rubbish, protect the planet.”
“Yeah, yeah, Guido. Whatever you say.” The two of you hadn’t gotten together like this in a long time. You saw each other much, but after everything went down… both Giorno and Guido became so very distant, and you… well, you didn’t have strength to do much other than your job. Trish’s wedding was the first instant in which all of you decided to do something outside the job – and receiving the call from Giorno himself to escort you was even more of a surprise. “We’ve grown distant, haven’t we?” It was a rhetorical question; you already knew the answer quite well.
Guido didn’t catch up on the rhetorical part, though. “Yeah… I guess. It is hard talking to you two now. It’s hard for me to think on how to act normally. I just… Don’t think I can do it.” You nodded against his shoulder.
“I understand. But… Part of grieving, I think, it’s facing what hurts. We all… Just sort of ran away from the pain. I spend most of the time outside the job drinking, you avoid eating…” He made a noise, like a protest. “Don’t lie to me Guido Mista, I don’t need to taste your sweat.” You exhaled loudly. “I’ve failed you. Both you and Giorno.”
“Why is that?” That question wasn’t hard, but uttering the words was difficult.
“Since Bruno’s death, I’ve become the oldest of you – and yet… I’ve not taken care of my responsibilities as the oldest. We are like a family, dysfunctional, yeah, but a family, nonetheless. And I’ve just let myself drown in self pity.” You looked down to your left hand, your ring-finger decorated with a ring that was a promise, never to be fulfilled. “I’ve neglected you and Giorno, much.”
“We’re not children to be looked after.” Guido took your hand on his. “We’re a team of equals.”
“You, perhaps, are my equal. We’re close in age. But Giorno is barely out of his teenage years. All in all, I should’ve… I should’ve been a better person to you two. We’re not just acquittances that happen to work together.” You sighed, intertwining your fingers with Guido’s. “My wake-up call was… Trish’s wedding.”
Guido made a confused sound. “Why? Why would that wake you up?”
“Well… Because Trish moved on, Guido.” You straightened your back, abandoning the warmth of Guido’s chest and the soft rhyming of his heart. “She was in love with Bruno as much as I was, and she… she decided it was enough. Seeing her marrying brought back the memories of what I wouldn’t be able to have, and yet, it also reminded me, along with our conversation after the wedding… that we’re still here. For them. So… I’m glad Giorno wants to see me at four.”
You felt a pair of arms surround you by the neck. Guido hugged you, your clothed back against his nude chest. “Are you content, now?” His voice was behind your right ear.
Your own hands went to his arms, holding them in place. “No, not even close. But you two and Passione are the most important things that remain here. You’ve lost weight, and Giorno trembled ever so slightly yesterday while holding my hand. You two are as much of a mess as I am and… I can’t keep ignoring it anymore.”
You felt him nodding against the back of your head. “We all have ignored each other long enough.”
You and Guido ate, and you made sure Guido ate enough for at least two people. You took a few slices of pizza with you, so that you could give them to Giorno. The apartment where the young man worked was on the Palazzo D’Auria, on Via Nilo number 23. It was a luxurious apartment with much security; only you and Guido were aware that this was the place where the young Boss of Passione worked. He obviously didn’t live there – he lived in a much smaller apartment on the outskirts of Naples.
The two of you made it to his office, and when you arrived, most lights were off but one on the left edge of the room. Giorno sat behind a hardwood desk, his hair slightly bewildered and under his eyes, some bags which reflected he hadn’t slept, probably since the wedding. His eyes didn’t leave the paper, even after he heard the door opening and closing, probably because he was very aware that it was either you, or Guido. “We brought you some food, Boss.” You told him, and it was just then when his pupils left the paper and stared at both your figures. “You wanted to see me?”
“Yeah, I’m sorry. I wanted to talk about the meeting with Ianiello. How did it go?” He straightened his back, delicately leaving the paper he was reading over the desk.
You took a few steps forward, but then you turned your head around. “Guido, give us a few minutes, please.” Guido nodded, and almost instantly, he left the office to you and Giorno. Then, you resumed your walking, sitting on a chair that was empty right in front of Giorno’s desk. You settled the small box where the margarita was close to his hands, in case he wanted to take a slice of pizza. “You know it went just right, Giorno. He’s paying the first three months in advance.” He nodded, obvious relief in the way his shoulders relaxed. “Next week I’ll talk to the boss of the California gang. I’ll make sure the contract goes the same. I also sent a group of our people to scout Manhattan for the next few months so that everything is in order.”
“Thank you, I know I can trust you with that.” He smiled, but that smile didn’t reach his eyes.
You leaned forward, your hand reaching for Giorno’s. He didn’t move, but he also didn’t intent to take your hand in his, so you simply rested your palm atop of his closed fist. “Giorno.” You called him, and he tilted his head, confused. “You’re still blaming yourself, aren’t you?”
He simply stared at you – the yellow light of the lamp on the edge of the room reflecting on his eyes. His expression was blank, but underneath your fingertips you felt that tremble you recognized so well. Giorno wasn’t a crier. He didn’t cry. He told you one night of the many in which he was staying up how his mother would leave him alone in the cold, how he hadn’t cry ever since he was but a toddler.
That night you made him hot chocolate – a drink that reminded you of a pure childhood, and he drank it happily, but you saw the way his shoulders would quiver each time he took a long gulp. Back then, he was a fifteen-year-old kid who had forgotten how to be a child, now, he was a twenty-one-years old learning how to be the boss of one of the biggest mafia group in the world – and not only that, he was carrying over his shoulders the deaths of his many team members who sacrificed themselves for his idealistic views. His, and Bruno’s. “What are you talking about?”
His underlip twitched, so little that it was almost imperceptible. “Giorno, I was with Bruno for almost twelve years. Do you think he was the only one who knew how to tell apart a liar from an honest person? Come here.” You took Giorno by the hand and pulled him to a sofa underneath a painting, on the right side of the office. He allowed himself to be dragged, you knew because he was much stronger than you, and if he decided he did not want to move, he wouldn’t. You sat by his side and looked at his blank expression. “Giorno Giovanna, the man who changed Italy, forever… But also, the child who regrets many of his decisions. The one who, yesterday, looked at the ceiling of San Gregorio Armeno, and quivered.”
“I was impressed by the beauty, that’s all.” You shook your head at his response.
“Giorno…” You cupped his face between your hands. “It’s cold outside, and the window is open.” His eyes widened at your statement. “You can tell me if it’s cold, and I’ll close your window. You can cry now.” It was instantaneous. His face morphed from… from the stoic man, to the child you knew he still was. His eyes, always so cold and distant, they filled with the tears you knew he held back for years. You held him, when he fell on your chest and hugged you close, your clothes tainting with the drops that fell from his eyes.
He trembled, as if he was cold, and you soothed him, massaging his back. Guido entered the room then and was surprised by the sight of Giorno crying so openly. You looked at him with a sad smile on your face and gestured for him to come closer. He sat by your side – and spent a good minute trying to come with a resolution. Then, his hand joined yours in Giorno’s back, and it danced in circles.
Guido soon rested his head on your shoulder, and you moved your hand to touch his hair. The two of them sobbed a symphony; the tears they were too busy to cry, too guilty to cry, too prideful to cry. Your family, your broken, dysfunctional family would heal. You kissed Guido’s scalp softly and continued to caress Giorno’s back – it was unexpected, when you too began crying with them. Thinking about Leone’s unusual sense of humor, about Narancia’s pure and innocent admiration, thinking about your love for Bruno.
All the feelings you tried to drown in wine, tried to find in the graveyard everyday. All the feelings that Giorno had bottled up and Guido tried to ignore by starving himself. The years that went by, all the time you spent trying to recover what was already lost. The last goodbye kiss you didn’t get.
You intertwined your fingers with Guido’s, your hand leaving his hair. It was going to be fine. You three would be fine. You would find it in your heart to be able to truly move on, no matter how hard it seemed.
I'll work on both a continuation for Rohan's Drawing Songs and Jotaro's Sweet Hands!
Thank you so much for reading!
Chapter 5: Under the Moon
Based off "Rohan at the Louvre", continuation for 'Drawing Songs'.
A trip to Paris, France, following the distant memories of a long-lost love.
Thank you all so much for reading! Someone requested a continuation for Drawing Songs, so here it is!
I'm working on a request for Caesar too! I'm very grateful for all the sweet comments!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The light from the outside was shining through the window inside of the room. You blinked softly when the first rays of the morning graced your eyes. You were using Rohan’s naked chest as your pillow, his skin filled with rosy marks, a few turning purple from the overstimulation. You caressed some of those bites; earning a soft hum from your sleeping boyfriend. The two of you had a breakfast scheduled for today, with Josuke, Koichi and Okuyasu. You checked the digital clock on the nightstand beside the bed, trying your best not to move too much; Rohan had been overworking lately, and he deserved a break.
It was in vain though, the moment your head left the warmth of his chest, Rohan’s green eyes opened. You smiled down to him, even though he seemed to be slightly annoyed. “I’m sorry, love.” You finished sitting up, letting the sheets that covered your nude form fall over your thighs. He shook his head and sat up as well. His hand found its way to his scalp, fixing up a few strands of his green hair that were falling over his face. “Good morning, my life.” He said that, but the way his voice sounded made it seem as if the morning was everything but good. He was not in a happy mood.
You leaned forward, kissing his temple. “You don’t have to go to the breakfast if you don’t want to.” He sighed and turned his head, so his forehead rested against yours. His eyes were settled on your lips, and you felt the ticklish sensation of a kiss even if he hadn’t laid his mouth over yours. His nose touched your nose, gently, a delicate Eskimo kiss. He was a passionate lover, knowing exactly what to do to get you trembling underneath him, but you preferred him like this. Sweet and quiet – intimate, but in a different way. “I’ll go, you want to go. And Koichi is going to be there too.”
You pecked his lips. “If you’re sure you want to, then yes.” You stood from the bed, ruffling his hair when your weight was off the mattress. “I’ll take a quick shower.”
He made a sound akin to an affirmation, laying back on his pillow. You stared at his image, his bare chest shining with the light that came through the window, his hair without his bandana falling messily on the cushion. He looked beautiful, the most gorgeous person you’ve ever seen. You counted yourself lucky, being able to enjoy him like this – seeing him looking off at the distance. But there was something strange in the way he was looking to the outside, as if he was lost in his memories. “Rohan, are you alright?” You asked him, taking a few steps back and resting your knee on the mattress. His eyes fell on your figure, staring at you absentmindedly.
“I’m sorry, angel. I just woke up feeling odd today. But don’t worry, go take a shower.” His hand extended, his thumb caressing your cheek, underneath the lines of your eyes. “I’m alright.”
“If you’re feeling bad, we can stay, you don’t have to force yourself…” You pushed, but he negated with a gentle movement of his head. “Rohan…”
“Angel, you know I don’t like when you insist so much.” You signed; he was stubborn to a fault. “Go shower, we’ll be late. Josuke won’t stop bothering us if we’re late.” He’ll probably assume the two of you had some morning action. And he probably wouldn’t shut up about it until he made Rohan angry.
“Alright, but the moment I see you are odd, we’re coming back home. I don’t want you to be sick. Especially when you have your special release next month.” You kissed his forehead, and the edges up his lips raised up in a tender smile. “I love you so so much.” You whispered against his skin. But that was enough, if you really didn’t go to take a shower, you were going to truly be late.
You and Rohan were sitting one beside the other, your fingers intertwined underneath the table. Josuke was talking, talking about his new job as an assistant in the Morioh Hospital. “When it’s your thesis due, Josuke?” You asked him, fully aware that he was soon to be graduated from the medicine school.
“Next semester I’ll be working on it. I hope I finish before the end.” He chuckled, and you did too. Time passed rapidly in Morioh. Josuke graduating from medicine, Okuyasu becoming a police officer, Koichi finally deciding to become an attorney. “I’m planing to go to Tokyo for my specialization. Neuroscience!”
You giggled. “Can you believe it, Rohan? Little Josuke is growing up.” You looked at your boyfriend lovingly. Rohan grunted, annoyed. He was still on a very grey area with Josuke, but you could see some tenderness underneath the usual coldness of his gaze. “You’re going to be such a great doctor, Jos. I’m so proud of you.”
Your best friend blushed deeply. He wasn’t expecting the praise, but of course you were proud of him. His power was a blessing on earth, he would become famous one day, you knew he would. He coughed awkwardly, trying to cover up his embarrassment. “Anyways, Okuyasu, you were saying something about Rohan yesterday. What was it again?”
“Oh yeah!” Okuyasu laughed a bit. “I thought you looked a lot like the lady on the Louvre. The pretty one? Mona… Mona Lisa!” You felt yourself choke from the laughter – though, it made sense. Rohan was beautiful, and you were happy everyone was able to see just how much of a masterpiece of a man he was.
You turned your head to see him, but… his eyes were absent, as if he was… somewhere else entirely. “Put your hands up! Like her, let me see.”
Rohan didn’t answer, it took him a full minute to even respond. “Rohan? Darling?” He stood up, letting go of your hand. He said a quick goodbye, not even letting you process what had transpired. You were confused, your eyes falling on the table, already missing the warmth of Rohan’s body close to yours. “Did he get offended?” Okuyasu whispered, worriedly.
“No, no.” You shook your head and raised your hands. “He was weird since we woke up. I’m sorry guys.” You stood, waving at your friends. “I’ll see you all later, yeah? I’m worried about Rohan.”
“It’s fine, don’t worry, go with him.” Koichi urged you, probably as worried as you were about his best friend. “Text me if something’s wrong with Rohan, please.”
“Go princess, we’ll survive without you.” Josuke smiled, but he seemed preoccupied as well. You followed Rohan back to the house the two of you shared. He was sitting on the living room, in front of his computer. He was looking for something – at what? You didn’t know.
“Rohan…” You went to him, closing the door of the house before approaching your boyfriend. He looked at you for a second, his eyes falling back to the computer screen. “Darling, what happened?” You stood behind him, your hands settling on his shoulders. He was tense, very tense. He was… looking at images from the Louvre. “What’s going on, love?”
“I… I dreamt about a long, distant memory today.” He turned around a little, and you knelt on the floor, resting your hands on his thigh. “… It’s weird but I couldn’t put a word to it, until Okuyasu mentioned the Louvre. I remembered, then. She… She was my first love.” You nodded, there was so much sadness in his gaze you couldn’t really be jealous (not outwardly, at least), whoever this person was, she… she never returned to him. “She spoke to me about a painting, hidden in the Louvre. Then, she was gone… vanished, almost as if she never existed. But the memory of the painting remains. I want to see if it’s there.”
“Did you try the online archive of the Louvre, my love? What’s the name of the painter?” If he so wanted to see the piece, perhaps it’d bring peace of mind to him – change a bit some of the weird demeanor he had since earlier today.
“I already looked for him, but there’s no picture… I need to see the painting.” He rested his hand atop of yours, over the material of his pants. His brow was deeply furrowed, and you tried to soothe him, caressing his skin with your thumb. It was but a second later, when his eyes widened, and he looked at you with a tint of excitement in his pupils. “Let’s go to the Louvre.”
You stared at him. A mix between astonishment and amusement. You believed he was joking. He HAD to be joking, right? You had to work on Monday, after all. “Rohan? Babe, are you kidding?”
“No, angel.” He faced the computer, his hand leaving yours. “I’ll book the flight, let’s go to France.”
“R-Rohan? I have to work on Monday!” Yeah, going to France sounded like an adventure more exciting than going to work, but you needed to be responsible! Rohan ignored you, though, typing away something in the computer. “Kishibe Rohan!”
“I’ll just call and say you’re sick, we’ll be gone five days. maximum. You know I won’t let them fire you.” If it was in his hand, he would write into your boss that it was impossible for him to fire you… but still! You needed to remain strong. Rohan wasn’t going to get his way. “I’ll get you a special edition of that manga you like so much that it’s not mine.” He rolled his eyes, not happy about the prospect of having to buy you that manga you liked so much. “In any case, there are two things I want to do in France.” He didn’t elaborate more about what those two things were – one was obviously checking the painting on the Louvre, but the other one, you didn’t know. Since he didn’t tell, you didn’t ask.
You thought about it… Perhaps he was going to get his way, after all. Rohan was really offering to buy you that one manga that was competition to his if you accompanied him… and he was even offering the special edition, the one that came with colored pages. “Roohaaan…” You rested your head on his thigh, he laid his hand on your scalp. “You’re not fair with me. Alright. I hate you though.”
“I can read you and confirm that you don’t. Don’t worry, it’ll be fun. We’ll go tomorrow.” He leaned down and you felt him kissing you atop of your head. “You’re so good to me, I’m sorry we left the breakfast so soon.”
You accommodated your head against his thigh, feeling his strong muscle against your cheek. His mouth found its way to your temple, giving you many soft kisses. “As long as you’re feeling better, Rohan. I was so worried this morning, but you just kept pushing me away… you know I can’t read you…” You pouted, feeling a mix between gratefulness and annoyance. “I know you you’re very private, but I’m your girlfriend.”
He raised your head from his thigh, cupping your face between his hands. His long, soft fingers feeling warm against your skin. “You know I don’t enjoy talking about my feelings.” You sighed, not looking at him in the eyes. “How can I make it up to you?” That was a rhetorical question, he was already buying you your favorite manga (other than his), and he was taking you to France. You weren’t such a selfish lover to ask of him any more than that – and he knew you weren’t.
“Give me a kiss.” Finally, your gaze met his, just in time to see him roll his eyes, feign annoyance. He leaned forward, his lips meeting yours. You closed your eyes, enjoying the taste of cherry and mint that his green lipstick had. He was a fast learner – his kisses much better than when you first started dating (five years were not such a long time, right?). He kissed with an intensity that made you feel breathless. It was soft and tender, but at the same time so fierce — a vigorousness that was very particular to Rohan. You were glad you were kneeling, because you were sure your legs would’ve lost their strength by now.
It was sensual, powerful, unique. Many things that you related to Rohan. Perhaps the way a man kissed spoke about the way a man was, because his lips moved over yours dominantly, making sure you understood that he was the only one who would made you feel this way. It made you consider… perhaps, he wrote on you that his kisses rendered you defenseless. You wouldn’t mind, honest to God, for five years all you’ve done is fall even deeper in love with Rohan, and if wanted to write on you that the only person you could ever love was him, you would accept it without any hesitation.
You knew he wouldn’t, but if he wanted, you wouldn’t resist. “R-Rohan…” You whispered, when his lips finally abandoned your abused mouth. He chuckled, giving you one last peck in the mouth.
“Since I’m going to vanish for five days, I need to draw a little before we go… If you keep giving me that look, I might not draw anything at all.” You giggled, even though your entire body felt as it was aching for Rohan.
The flight to Paris was long. Extremely long. Twelve hours long, to be exact. Rohan spent most of the trip drawing on his sketchbook; you, on the other hand, tried your best not to die from boredom, the movies available for you to watch were extremely uninteresting. You tried to sleep, lucky that the first-class sittings were far more comfortable than the economic class (Rohan wasn’t going to go on economic class, your boyfriend was far too arrogant, and had too much of a dilution of grandiosity for that) — but after about three hours of napping, you were back to the world of the living, with still around eight hours to go.
“You knew it was going to be long, why didn’t you bring anything to read?” Rohan asked you, closing his sketchbook for a moment, bringing his arm around your shoulders. You sighed, burying your face on your hands. “I knew but we almost didn’t have time to pack and I forgot… I can’t believe I forgot. We went to Italy and it was ten hours! I should’ve kept that in mind.”
He nodded, remembering the trip the two of you made to Italy. You were on vacations from college and you’ve been saving to get the tickets. He was very happy when you invited him as your second anniversary gift. He asked you to live with him back then, in front of La Fontana di Trevi. You screamed atop of your lungs and threw yourself to his arms, accepting instantly. Many people around you supposed he asked your hand in marriage, but neither of you were ones to rush things. (Even If Rohan asked you to live with him prior to even saying the big ‘I love you’, but each person had their quirks). “Do you want me to help you sleep?” He asked you, bringing you back to the present. You instantly knew what he meant.
“Would you mind? I won’t be able to ‘naturally’ sleep away the eight hours we’re going to be trapped inside this plane.” He chuckled and nodded, bringing your face close to his. You felt his fingers opening your skin as a book, and soon, you were fast asleep against his shoulder, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. You dreamed about him – you wondered if he had written that inside of you, as well.
When you woke up, it was to Rohan softly shacking you awake. Perhaps he had written that you would wake only when he attempted to wake you up. The eight hours passed rapidly in your sleep, and you felt invigorated, like you hadn’t sleep so well in years. “Good morning.” Rohan smiled at you, with an openness that made your heart scream inside your chest. It took so long for him to show his emotions completely on his face, but when he did, when he finally did, you felt yourself melt underneath his adoring gaze.
“Good morning, did you sleep a little, yourself?” It was 9a.m., and you were about to land on the Charles de Gaulle airport. Rohan shook his head, showing you a few drawings of your sleeping figure, as well as a few other passengers. For some reason, the drawings of you sleeping made you feel embarrassed, because they had… an energy of intimacy to them. It was funny, but they made you feel a bit more ashamed than the drawings he did of you naked. “I hope you don’t draw any other women like you do me.” You joked – there was a sense of secrecy in the way he drew you that made you feel so close to him. Even if you said it in jest, Rohan did not laugh.
“I did. Once.” The woman he was speaking about yesterday, probably. You… tried to bury the jealousy that was probably written all over your face – the same covetousness you felt before – a feeling of possessiveness that wasn’t entirely appropriate. “Don’t make that face…”
You shouldn’t, truly, be angry at the idea that Rohan had someone he loved before you. You weren’t as childish as to truly be faulting Rohan over it; however, your emotions weren’t exactly something you could control. “I’m sorry, I’m not angry… Tell me about her. Her name? What was she like? Why… didn’t you stay with her?” It was such a strange conversation. But it was also something you wanted to know. She was, after all, the reason you two were coming to the Louvre. In part.
“Her name was Nanase. And… she was so weird, but in her strangeness, she was very endearing… I’ve never seen someone cry tears as beautiful as hers.” The way he spoke about her, it was filled with… so much love. He was so, so enchanted with… with Nanase. “There wasn’t nothing particularly extraordinary about her and yet… everything was.”
It was both heartbreaking and enchanting, listening him talk about that woman. She must’ve been… a work of art, if you were sincere. “I’m sure you left quite an impression on her too.” Was all you could say, not really understanding if you had any right to feel jealous of… of a ghost. Of a memory. You tried to find the right emotions, but truly, it was a mixture that made you feel extremely uncomfortable. As if, suddenly, you were in a competition with a woman that wasn’t even there anymore – but at the same time, you weren’t competing, because of that exact reason… Nanase was not there anymore. “But you didn’t answer, why…?”
“She left, and I’ve not seen her since.” That was the last sentence he said before the plane landed. You didn’t like landings, but… you truly didn’t want to hold Rohan’s hand right now. Not because you thought his love for Nanase was wrong, but because you thought that you would interrupt something that was going through his mind, something that was very private. “I love you, though.” He whispered, once the plane’s wheels touched the ground. You didn’t know if your jump was from the landing, or from his sudden words.
He had never said he loved you. Not once. You were fine with that, he was a man that spoke louder with actions than with words, and you simply continued to wait until he was ready. You stared at him; your eyes wide open. Was he trying to reassure you, that whoever Nanase was, she was not who occupied his heart now? It was such a weird moment to say he loved you, especially because he was talking about another woman. But… but it was so very Rohan – he was, after all, everything but what you would expect from him. You sighed, deciding to take his hand between yours, bringing his knuckles to your lips – the plane was almost stopping, the two of you were finally in France.
“You’re so…” You started.
“Insufferable?” Rohan finished.
You chuckled, feeling lighter than ever. “And I love you just like that.”
The reunion with the Louvre that Rohan had arranged was for Tuesday at 10a.m., which meant, you had one entire day to go sightseeing without it having to do with the strange painting that Rohan needed to see. There was a restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, and since Rohan was the one to invite you to Paris, you decided it was only fair that you would invite him there (you made the reservation on Sunday morning, hoping they would have some spot left for Monday at 12p.m., and they did). “You know we can always go somewhere less expensive, angel…” He urged you, helping you fix the chrysoberyl necklace he gave you long ago.
He was (very) worried about your expenses on the trip, but you didn’t like to think of yourself as a leech, you liked to treat Rohan to nice things too (and you did try your best to save up as much as possible in an alternate account that was meant only for expenses that were for Rohan). You knew it was an expensive restaurant and you knew Rohan didn’t like to make you go overboard with your salary, trying to be the one paying most of the things whenever the two of you traveled. But you didn’t enjoy letting him be too much of a gentleman, you wanted to be the lady he deserved. “Hush, Kishibe. Enjoy yourself and let me worry, for once.”
“Kishibe?” His hands went from your neck to your waist, bringing you close to him, his lips resting on your trapezius. “You’re so cold to me when I’m only worried.”
You turned to face him. “Then stop being such a mother, and let’s go. You’re always going overboard for me.” He smiled tenderly and kissed your forehead. You fixed his green tie, and the two of you headed out of the hotel you were staying. The restaurant where you were going to eat was 58 Tour Eiffel. It was right in the middle of the Eiffel Tower. The atmosphere was cozy, the floor was wood and the lights on the ceiling were shining orange, giving all a warmth palette. You and Rohan sat close to a window, with a view of the ‘Champ de Mars’, a park that stood gorgeously in front of the tower, its patterns looking like a cross from so high above ground.
Rohan’s gasp was an extreme gratification, the way his eyes shone as he saw the park extend in all its gloriousness. “This is your first time here?” You asked, truly wanting to know. He was looking at the landscape as a child on a playground, and he got out from inside of his pocket a small sketchbook.
“Yeah, I’ve been at Paris before, but I’ve never been here, too much people waiting to head inside the tower and… I’m not a patient man.” You could imagine Rohan getting exhausted and leaving – he was probably way younger back then. “I can’t believe how beautiful the horizon looks here… the sunset has to be…”
Gorgeous. That’s what you thought as you saw him, looking over the world as an excited child that was just discovering something new. The waitress came soon after, and Rohan ordered for the two of you — that was something that didn’t change over the years. You wondered if occasionally he would read you while you slept, only to keep an updated idea of your likes and dislikes.
While he continued to draw, your eyes went from his sketchbook to the landscape, back to his face, where you could see his brow furrowed in concentration. He wasn’t drawing the entirety of the view; he was concentrating more in details. In his sketchbook, the page was filled with panel-compositions, almost as if he was practicing storytelling only with the scenery. “Next month you’re publishing your one-shot, aren’t you? I know you’ve been working on it for a while now.”
He nodded, while he continued to do the outline for a tree in the corner of Champ de Mars. “Yeah, the story is already mostly done, the drawings too. I just want to finish the coloring.”
“You’re going to color the entire volume? Your fans are going to be so happy.” Koichi was going to be especially happy. He really liked Rohan’s work when he colored. You did too, but Koichi’s had an innocence in the love he had for Rohan’s manga that was so endearing, you could understand why your boyfriend liked Koichi so much.
“Of course they will be, it’s my art, after all.” You giggled. There he was, the man you’ve fallen head over heels with – overconfident, arrogant, sometimes insufferable… you couldn’t imagine your life without him. “I want you to be the first one to read it once it’s done.”
He didn’t even need to ask you, you would. You didn’t reply to him – it was unnecessary. The corner of your lips turned upward as you saw Rohan drawing some beautiful architecture that was barely visible from where you were sitting. The way he was drawing, made it seem like the building was telling a story on its own, a story of loneliness and sorrow. You wondered if that’s how Rohan saw old architecture — something that remained unchanged as time passed on.
The two of you ate in relative tranquility, talking about a few stories of your life together. The one time that Rohan was losing his mind over a pen he couldn’t find, it was his favorite for shadows. It was the first time you saw him so stressed. Or the time you lost one document for your work and you ended putting the entire house on quarantine until you were able to find it. Rohan was organized, you were sort of a mess, and it ended making the dynamics at your home funnier than they needed to be.
By the time you two were done eating, you had retold to each other every aspect of living together – how Rohan liked to take long showers in the morning and how, even when he was going to stay at home, he loved to dress up. You brought out how many outfits he had of the same design and different colors. He told you that it wasn’t his fault that you preferred to use pajamas in the house and that he didn’t need to change his habits because of yours. “If it was up to you, you wouldn’t even leave the bed when you don’t need to work.” He pointed his finger at you.
“Of course I wouldn’t, but you hate to see the bed a mess after ten in the morning. You might not be a happy morning person, but you are a morning person.” He wasn’t the happiest when waking, but he did wake up early. He did, however – even if he was grumpy – make you coffee. He would come to the room with a cup in hand and give it to you; at least, that was the norm on days in which you didn’t overly indulge in each other’s company. Whenever you saw him entering the room with a cup in hand, it filled your heart with a sense of fulfilment and gratefulness that was beyond your ability to express in words. He would bend down and kiss your scalp, giving you the cup and sitting down to drink it with you. It was due to those small details that you never pressured him into telling you that he loved you – because, it was enough. Him turning off the alarm of the clock before leaving the room and waking you up himself for you to go to work; helping you fix your make up whenever your contour was off… All those things made you confident on his feelings for you, without the necessity of a mouthed confirmation.
It was 2p.m. when the two of you finally left the 58 Tour Eiffel – and the sun was high in the sky, even if the temperature wasn’t exactly hot. “Do you want to go to the Arc of Triumph?” You asked him – it wasn’t exactly close by, but… You were in Paris! It wasn’t everyday business. He nodded happily, offering you his arm to escort you to the Arc of Triumph. The two of you passed by the Pont D’Iena, crossing through the Seine lake, and arriving at the Avenue de New York. It was then when Rohan started to tell you some facts about Paris – how the buildings were less than 9 stories tall – the Eiffel tower standing as the tallest building in Paris, measuring 300 meters tall. Listening to him talk about the artists that worked on certain works all around Paris was entertaining; he really loved talking about art – and you loved listening to him talk. The sound of his voice whenever he got excited over something was something you could never get bored of.
You two walked through the Avenue des Nations Unies, right beside the aquarium – you made a mental note, you wanted to come to the aquarium, perhaps after going to the Louvre. It was a 20 minutes’ walk to reach the Arc of Triumph – and the two of you needed to go through a pedestrian underground tunnel that would make reaching the Arc less dangerous, since there were one too many cars over the streets. The underground tunnels were pleasantly clean, and since you two weren’t traveling on a high season for tourism, that meant you didn’t encounter an exuberant amount of tourist. When you two came from the underground to the outside, you saw the way Rohan’s eyes shone in a way you could only describe as pure amazement. You were sure that he had been here before – but his reaction made it seem as if he was seeing the grandiosity of the structure for the first time. So many battles engraved in stone – two angels sculptured in marble, seemingly facing against one another. In the ceiling, flowers with extravagant designs, and on the columns – honorific mentions to those who fought on the Napoleonic and Revolutionary wars. “Isn’t it amazing? All these people…” Rohan whispered, standing right in the middle of the Arc of Triumph. He was… enchanted.
You went up to him, bringing your hand to cup his cheek. He looked at you, with such an intense happiness so clear in his eyes it was hard to look at him without having to chuckle – because he seemed so young, so alive. “Do you know some of these people?”
He nodded happily and walked you to the first column of the Arc. On big, bold words, the name CHARTRES was engraved. “He was the king of France for eighteen years, his name was Louis Philippe the first – he was a good king, very conservative – was forced to abdicate on 1848 due to the outbreak of the French Revolution, but he lived his life on relative normalcy, exiled to the United Kingdom.” Rohan continued to tell you about the others – skipping those he didn’t find interesting enough. You didn’t feel the time passing while he spoke; he was so knowledgeable, you wondered if he ever wanted to be an art teacher… But he didn’t have the patience to deal with young adults or teenagers. Especially if they were anything like Josuke. Yeah, no art teacher Rohan.
By 6p.m., you two were tired, from both running around Paris and talking about the art movements that inspired some of the architecture (It would be more accurate to say, Rohan spoke, you listened). It was a silent agreement, the two of you decided to return to the hotel and have dinner there. After all, you two still had four more days to explore Paris. Tomorrow you needed to be at the Louvre at 10a.m., so it was better if you two didn’t go overboard with your explorations on the first day.
The Four Seasons George Hotel V was beautiful, the furniture in your and Rohan’s room was breathtaking, very simplistic and yet stylish – much to Rohan’s taste. The bed was soft, and the pillows were extremely comfortable, it felt as if the mattress and cushions would swallow you whole if you were to lay over them with complete confidence. “Should we ask for room service or do you want to go down to eat?”
“My feet hurt, honestly.” You replied, feeling your body beg you to stay in the bed. Rohan giggled, and took the phone, going outside of the bedroom to call room service. You heard his voice, muffled away by the wall of the room – you couldn’t make out what he was ordering. He came back to the room when he was done, and he was already out of his coat. You stood up from the bed, approaching him and helping him to take off his green tie. He did the same with your chrysoberyl necklace, his fingers dancing on the nape of your neck. “You always look so stunning with this necklace.”
Once if was off your neck, he held the necklace between his fingers – the stone shining mystifyingly underneath the orange light of the ceiling. You brought his hand close to your face, kissing his knuckles whilst he held the necklace. “I still think it’d look better on you.” You recalled the time the necklace truly became yours – you had told him the same thing.
“No, I don’t think I would.” … That stunned you. The first time you told him he’d look better with the necklace, he remained silent – probably because he agreed with you – but now, now… He told you, with a straight face, that he thought you looked better than him with the necklace. It was such a small thing, but you knew how much of a narcissist Rohan was. You looked at him with your mouth slightly opened at the astonishment. “You’re my beautiful gem – the most beautiful gem.”
“You… Rohan, don’t do that, you know I don’t know how to answer.” You covered your face, still holding his tie on your palm. He chuckled, you felt him kissing your forehead. “Insufferable asshole, you know-it-all.”
“I’m sorry, what was that? ‘I love you, and I think you’re the most stunning man on earth’? What a coincidence. So do I.” If you didn’t love him as much as you did, you would’ve kicked him. You swore to God; he was a bastard. Your bastard, but a bastard anyways.
The Louvre was filled with students – art students, if you were to be specific. You could tell they were students because all of them were holding sketchbooks in hands. Perhaps it was a trip from an art college close-by? You didn’t know. However, other than the students and their teachers, as well as a few artists, there weren’t that many tourists. You were happy, because that only meant the line was short for both you and Rohan to buy your tickets. General admission was 2,168.74 yen, which roughly translated to 20 dollars. By thirty minutes in line, the two of you were inside of the museum – happy that it was still an hour too early for the meeting Rohan had with an interpreter from the Publishing Department of the Louvre. It was good that the two of you were so early, since Rohan wanted to see one piece specifically before the two of you went to the meeting.
‘Winged Victory of Samothrace’ was its name. A statue that stood atop of a pair of stairs in the Louvre. He was holding you by the hand – better to be described as pulling you around the museum to reach the sculpture. “I swear, I’ve never seen something as beautiful as the way the cloth surrounds her body… You’ll see, I really can’t explain with words.” He was… So excited.
You two were about to reach the stairs in which you assumed the Winged Victory was, but three young teenagers stopped Rohan. “Are you Kishibe Rohan? We love your work!” You smiled a little, seeing in their faces the same naïve admiration that Koichi had from time to time whenever he read Rohan’s manga. The three of them had sketchbooks, so they probably were art students who probably came with their colleges. “Can we get an autograph?” Rohan’s fingers were tense against yours; with his free hand he got a pencil out from one of his pockets and began moving his hand rapidly in the air. “So, you’re my fans… Perhaps you should choose more carefully your clothes next time you come see the true masters.” He pointed out the fact that two of them were wearing shorts, and another one had a cap on. “Rohan…” you whispered, and the teens asked for their autographs again. Rohan simply told them to look down to their sketchbooks – three different drawings with his signature on them. You chuckled. He was an asshole, but a loveable one. “Rohan, you can’t just go around telling people to dress up better whenever you want, darling.” Even if you wanted to be angry at his display, you had a smile plastered on your face.
He scoffed. “This is a place of knowledge and beauty; you can’t just come in looking like you’re going to skateboard.”
“My love, you’re such an eccentric man…” You murmured. He looked back at you for a second, almost as if offended, before he continued to make his way to the Winged Victory. And there she was, beautiful, splendid – she didn’t have arms, she didn’t have a head… And yet, you were sure she was one of the most beautiful women you’ve ever seen. The light that came from the ground accentuated the volumes that her clothes had – making it seem like they had even more mass. She seemed as if she was about to take off; her wings so graceful as they extended to the infinite. You two slowed down; she was welcoming you two, her armless body opening to the world – her unmoving, unchanging chest giving away the illusion of a breath. Every step you gave up the stairway, you felt your body becoming smaller and smaller in comparison to her, to her surreal beauty. She was… A goddess… made of stone. To be appreciated and loved by all, by the everchanging world, as she remained the same – beautiful, untouchable, with no sense of fear on her, even as she lacked a head, even as she lacked her arms. “You… You were right.”
Rohan didn’t answer – he was observing the Winged Victory with so much… adoration. He was learning from her. From the way her body moved – how her foot was almost not touching the ground she stood up on. He was… drawing her, with his eyes. Not having his sketchbook in hand, all he could do was draw the outline of her figure with his eyes and fingers. You stood by his side, quietly observing him draw the shapes in the air, letting him enjoy the moment. He seemed to be the Principal Conductor of an Orchestra – you thought of Seiji Ozawa directing the No. 9 Symphony of Beethoven with the orchestra of Ozawa Saito Kinen. So much elegance in his movements. It was right there when it hit you – like the eruption of a volcano.
You didn’t merely love him.
You were IN love with Kishibe Rohan.
That realization made your eyes widen – your entire body became stiff as the thought crossed your brain like a scream. To be in love, so many people would think that to love and to be in love were one and the same… But it felt so much deeper, as if the love was eating you from inside out. Once he was done with his mental painting of the Winged Victory, he turned to look at you – and your adoration was probably written all over your face. “Angel? Are you alright?” He asked you, and you covered half of your face with your hand, too bewitched by him. Your gaze fell on the floor, as you wiped from your face some imaginary sweat.
“Yeah, I am. I’m sorry, I was just… Ah… We should probably go to the meeting, shouldn’t we? We will be late…” It was half a truth. It was 9:40, and you were supposed to have a meeting at 10. You didn’t want the person helping Rohan to wait too long for the two of you to arrive. He agreed, though he continued to stare at you all the way to the entrance of the Louvre, where you were supposed to meet with an interpreter.
She was a beautiful woman. Tall, slim, blond – her fashion sense was a bit all over the place, but that did not make her any less attractive. She introduced herself as Noguchi – and as soon as the introductions were over with, both she and Rohan were into work-mode. She took the two of you to a small office besides the entryway of the Louvre, where there was a small computer and a great quantity of books. “What’s that you’re looking for, mister Kishibe? You said you wanted information about one of our museum’s pieces, is that right?” She sat behind the computer, starting to type something.
“Yes, I’m looking for a piece by a Japanese artist.” Rohan’s brow was furrowed as he explained to Noguchi what he was looking for. “… Since my memory isn’t very good, I preferred to travel. I was afraid what information I could give wouldn’t be sufficient.” …Rohan was lying, you realized – he wasn’t look at Noguchi when he said that, and there was a small smile on his lips. “I was told the painting was in the Louvre’s collection. I searched for it online, but it’s not among the exhibited works.”
He seemed… Uneasy, not only because of the lie, but over something else. You rested your hand on his forearm, caressing him over the material of his clothes. “I’m looking for a work by a painter who’s called… I think… Nizaemon Yamamura.” That was the first time you’ve ever heard of that name – not surprising, since you weren’t someone invested in the world of art. “That said, I’m not sure the painting truly exists or that it’s here… or rather… that it ever was at the Louvre. I’d just like to be sure of that.”
“Give me the name of the painter again, please.” Noguchi basically ignored the entirety of Rohan’s explanation – she was still typing something in the small computer – probably looking over the Louvre’s database of paintings.
“Nizaemon Yamamura, but I’m not certain.” There was so much anxiety in his voice. Why was Rohan so eager so find out about this mysterious painting? What was the secret behind it? You were starting to be curious too. About that woman, about Nanase and about her relationship with the painting that was causing such distress to your boyfriend.
“Yes, it’s here.” With a cold demeanor, Noguchi answered to Rohan’s question easily. Rohan’s eyes widened, almost imperceptibly, and they filled with hope – and something more, something… darker. There was thirst… For what? You weren’t too sure. He approached Noguchi, his anxiousness overwriting his common sense. You were left on the other side of the desk, looking at him with… worry.
Rohan leaned over the PC, looking at the screen from over Noguchi’s shoulder. “At least I’ve found it!” There was excitement in his voice, but his face was distressed. You observed him – you wished with all your heart now that you had a Stand to be able to read what was going through his head.
“Yeah, the museum acquired it from Japan more than twenty years ago, but it’s in fact, not on display. The name is ‘Under the Moon’.” She was still tapping something in the keyboard. Rohan was sweating lightly, his left-hand twitching over the desk.
“May I see it?” He asked, finally.
“Sorry?” Noguchi wasn’t expecting that question, obviously. Rohan was an artist, yeah, but for him to request to see a painting out of exhibition was a little… Over the top? Even for him. You simply looked at him – still preoccupied with this… necessity, to see the painting. “Excuse me… But access to reserves is strictly forbidden to the public.” That came as a relief to you; something was… Off, about this painting – about Under the Moon. But Rohan kept insisting. He truly wanted to see this piece. In the end, after a little discussion between the two of them and a bit more typing from the interpreter – Noguchi found something strange in the archive of the painting. In the end, the two of you were given access, with the condition that you were to be accompanied by Noguchi herself, a curator and two firefighters. The curator’s name was Gaucher – he was an attractive man, slightly smaller than Noguchi, but with a strong built, his hair was curly and long.
“We don’t know what we’ll find there. The zone where this painting is kept was closed off twenty years ago…” That same obnoxious feeling came back when Gaucher finished explaining himself. “Please, leave your phones, cameras, or lighters, if you have one. It might affect the painting.” You nodded, while Rohan complained about how it seemed to be less an authorization to see a long-lost painting and more a visit to a prison. You elbowed him softly. “Love…” You whispered to him gently – he chuckled, bringing his hands to your shoulders, mouthing to you a silent apology.
“The zone we’re going is the storage area Z-13.” Noguchi explained as she led you through the long hallways of the Louvre, until the six of you reached a place that lead to the underground level of the museum. You were surprised to see that the colors of the underground were so very different from the above. The walls and floor were grey – and the hallway was big enough for the transportation in a small vehicle (a golf-buggy?). You and Rohan sat one beside the other, on the back of the compact car. Rohan was moving his legs subconsciously, due to the anxiousness – you settled your hand on his knee, showing him some sort of support that he seemed to need; it was strange, Rohan was fine just now? What had happened to him so suddenly? Was the painting THAT important to him? “Rohan… Are you alright?” You murmured to him.
Rohan rested his hand atop of yours, right over his knee. “I am, angel. Don’t worry. I’m fine.” He wasn’t. “I’m just… Thrilled, I guess?” That much you could tell. You kept your hand joined with his, trying to calm him the best of your ability. The way from one side to the other on the golf-buggies was fast and yet, it felt tortuously long. The only difference in the hallways were some numbers written on the grey walls. It was around 10 minutes after your departure at the entrance of the underground when your group reached the Storage Area Z-13. It was very clearly abandoned. A big, greenish door at the end of a long corridor. There was fungus on the wood; and some cracks on the ceiling around it. It was the perfect description for an entryway to a horror movie. Rohan took one step forward, but you held him back by the arm.
One of the firefighters got close to the door, observing the lock. “It’s busted… We can’t get in.” He announced after a few tries at moving the handle of the door. “We’re going to have to break it.” The firefighter checked the inside of the room, looking through the cracks the door had. “I can see the painti— wait!”
“What happened?” Gaucher asked him, getting close to him.
“There was something moving there!” You felt your heart drop – you really, really didn’t want Rohan to head inside of that storage room. Gaucher simply thought it was a rat and proceeded to charge at the door along with the two firefighters. You had a horrid feeling; something wasn’t right; and that sensation only intensified when the door finally gave up against the brute force. “Rohan…” Your nails were almost piercing through Rohan’s skin, even with the material of his shirt shielding him from your fingers. You noticed a black canvas on one of the abandoned painting racks inside of the storage room – a white figure of what seemed to be a woman, laying, sleeping on the eternal darkness that the painting seemed to project.
“It’s there… We should probably get it out to see if it’s authentic.” Rohan commented, as he took one step into the room, down a small pair of stairs. You followed suit, keeping him at arms-length. Gaucher agreed with him and was soon to ask one firefighter to bring the piece out of the painting rack. It was strange though, how the man did not react. You worried – perhaps he had not heard? You took a step forward, and were about to touch him, when the left side of his face began to melt off. You couldn’t even understand what was going on when you felt a pair of arms bring you back into a safe space – Rohan was fast to put you behind his body, to serve you as a human shield.
The firefighter was… Melting away, and then he was pulled up to the ceiling by something – what was that something? You didn’t know. Your mind went straight to survival mode, taking hold of Rohan and planning to run out of the storage room, but the exit was blocked by a group of people. A small child was right in front of the crowd. “Pierre…?” Noguchi’s voice brought you out of your panic for a second. You turned to look at the chaos that was happening behind you. The second firefighter was… leaning against a wall, speaking about a war. But what war? He probably wasn’t even alive when the France Militia was sending soldiers to… Your trail of thought was interrupted, when he was… gunned down? But gunned down by WHO? You followed the direction of the gunshots, and it was then when you saw… Twenty? Perhaps thirty, humans. Or… Or something akin to humans. You were able to see them, so they were no Stands. They were approaching you slowly, ever so slowly, and Gaucher was the next to fall.
“Don’t look!” Rohan covered your eyes before you were able to make out what happened, but you were sure you heard Gaucher’s last words… He spoke about an accident – a car accident. “Don’t touch them!” He tried to keep you close to himself. Noguchi was still… enchanted by the child. Her eyes were filled with so much happiness as she saw that kid, small, so small, he was probably not even five years old. “My baby, my Pierre.” She whispered, and her hands fell on the small kid’s shoulders. Rohan tried to stop her, but it was too late.
You’ve never seen… Someone die so happily. She was spilling water, her body was so filled it became like a balloon; and she was – like all others, elevated to the ceiling. The water was coming out of her like cascades, but she didn’t seem to feel any pain; her last words burnt deep within your memory. “I’m glad that I got to see you one last time, my angel.” It was then when it clicked… Pierre was her child. He died by drowning. All of them were dying by the hand of another close to their heart. You felt your back crash against the wall of the far-edge of the storage room. Rohan was standing right in front of you, shielding you from the approaching shadows of these… these manifestations of… of hatred? You saw between the shadows of these people, family members you knew shouldn’t be around… People that died long ago, so long that it was almost impossible for you to remember their names. “I’m sorry, Rohan…” A woman’s voice, sweet, filled with much regrets. You tried to follow the sound – and you saw her. A girl wearing a beautiful yukata, its color orange and the flowers of death drawn atop of the cloth. She seemed… So simple, and yet, her beauty was so extraordinary. You knew, you knew the moment you saw her. She was Nanase. The men and woman began to approach Rohan, and once they touched his arm, his skin began to peel off.
“ROHAN!” You screamed, and when you tried to free him from the dead, it was then when you felt him write something on your skin.
Everything was white.
So, so white.
You opened in a strange place, empty. The only thing there was a man, his face kissing the floor. You couldn’t remember anything. Not even how to speak. You approached him, crawling until you reached his figure. He opened his eyes and stared at you, equally confused. The two of you reached a silent, mutual understanding, you needed to head out of whatever place this was…
Long hallways, long, long hallways, grey. Much grey. Machinery? What were those machines? Words on the walls, words you couldn’t understand. Once you were far enough… The man was suddenly able to speak again. He called you, by a name you couldn’t recognize, but you turned to him anyways. You were dizzy, exhausted from something you didn’t understand. He rubbed his thumb over your forehead…
Ever so slowly.
And then, everything came back to you as a flash. Noguchi, Gaucher, the two firefighters, Nanase… Nizaemon Yamamura… You fell to your knees, feeling an extreme wave of nausea wash over you. Rohan crouched in front of you, massaging your shoulders. “It’s alright.” He mumbled, so close to you, you were able to feel his lips moving against your scalp.
You still couldn’t speak, too shocked to even begin to process words. What you had faced on the Storage Room Z-13 was something far too scary, far too dark for you to even begin to put into sensical sentences. All you could do, with the little understanding you had of the situation, was cry. Cry for Noguchi, who saw her child one last time, cry for the firefighters, who died undeserving deaths, cry for Gaucher, whose last moments were filled with pain and suffering. You cried, and kept crying, even after Rohan helped you stand, even after the two of you made it back to the hotel room. It was far too much information, far too much hatred, it didn’t make any sense. Why would a painting, something so pure, carry with it such an intense amount of loathing?
You spend the next few days silently crying. Rohan did not force you to speak – nor did he leave your side. Neither of you left the hotel throughout the week, however, you knew Rohan informed the Speedwagon Foundation about whatever that hellish painting was. Rohan offered to you to erase your memories of what happened underneath the Louvre, more than once, but you shook your head each time he offered. You didn’t want to forget. You didn’t want to forget what the hatred of a single human was capable of.
It was Friday, when you finally found your voice. “Rohan…” He was sitting on a desk inside of the room reading a book, and when he heard you call for him, he left the book over the table and came to you, helping you sit on the bed.
“My love.” He didn’t ask for nothing more – he didn’t ask for you to continue speaking, he just showed you that he was there to support you, whatever you needed.
“… Let’s go home.” The flight was schedule for tomorrow, but you couldn’t take it anymore. You didn’t want to be in Paris. Not because Paris was unwelcoming – you loved most your time there, but you couldn’t stand the thought… the thought of being close with something as horrific as ‘Under the Moon’. Rohan nodded, kissing your temple. It didn’t take him more than five minutes to get your flight reschedule. By 8p.m., the two of you were leaving France behind. It was two hours into the trip, you been unable to sleep due to the recent memories, that you felt Rohan hold your hand underneath a thin sheet given to you for the cold in the plane.
“I didn’t want you to suffer.” He said, sincerely. “I wish you’d let me take this away from you.” You knew he wanted nothing more than to erase away those memories. It was then when you felt something hard and round slip around your ring finger. “I’m sorry. I wanted to ask differently. But I thought, it was better for it to be before we definitely leave France…”
You brought your hands out of the underneath of the sheet and stared at the ring he had just put on your finger. It was small, beautiful, exactly the type of ring you’ve always dreamt of. You tried to smile, weakly. He probably planned the entire thing, but everything went in the opposite direction to his original idea. You nodded, silently answering to the unasked question. He kissed your palm, gently. After all that loath you experienced in the Louvre, after all that pure rancor, you were… almost relieved to have something to hold onto that wasn’t the memory of the empty eyes of those who were no longer in the world of the living. Something warmth to replace the coldness that was resting in the depths of your heart.
Two months passed by – Speedwagon foundation updated Rohan about the strange painting. ‘Under the Moon’ was supposedly scientifically studied, and then, it was burnt. Rohan nor you were able to confirm the veracity of that statement – but it made you feel better, to think that said painting was to be left in the obscurity of the unknown, forever. Noguchi, Gaucher, and the two firefighters were reported missing, but no one was able to come up for an explanation for their vanishing…
Rohan investigated a bit about Nizaemon Yamamura – and he managed to find out about his wife… Whose name was Kishibe Nanase. An ancestress to Rohan. The last painting Nizaemon ever did before he was executed was a painting of his wife, lying down in complete darkness. Rohan theorized, that Nanase must’ve hated… Hated the world that took Nizaemon from her– and he also, must’ve hated the world that took Nanase from him. All that hatred was contained into that last piece… Perhaps Nanase was trying to end the curse, to free all those loathsome feelings from deep within the ink – or perhaps, she wanted to curse the world that had abandoned her lover and sent him to perish by the hands of a sword master. You didn’t know which one the truth was – however, you wanted to believe that, the woman apologizing to Rohan underneath the Louvre was one that was looking for absolution, and not one looking for revenge.
Whatever secrets ‘Under the Moon’ kept – they were meant to be kept as such. Secrets. At the Storage Room Z-13, in the Louvre.
Thank you so much for reading! The requests are open!
The next work is going to be Caesar's (I'm sorry, I really have poor prose with him!) I’m also sorry about taking so long, college is kinda killing me ;v;
Chapter 6: Over Heaven
Wicked, foul, evil... All of that, Dio accepted he was. You, however... All you could see was sadness in his strangely colored eyes.
Thank you so so so so so much for all the support. I wouldn't be able to keep this going if it wasn't for so
many positive reviews, I appreciate all of you <3
I know I still owe 1. Caesar, 2. Josuke, 3. Bruno.
I'm sorry about updating so slowly - I'm still having trouble finding my words with Caesar and I can't seem to be able to ground where I want to go with his story! Thank you so much for your patience. This one here was for me to let out a little bit of frustration from college. (Last month, super stressed, all the exams are close and I have no idea what to do with my life.)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
He was a beautiful man.
Blond, tall, slim but with muscle. His face was hidden away in shadows, but you were able to see some glimpses of his strangely colored eyes. He was so stunning, that he managed to distract you long enough for you to lose sight of your tourist guide. You would’ve been worried, but you knew where your hotel was, so there was no reason for you to panic. It was late at night, but you couldn’t help but follow the man with such a beautiful figure to an alley on the side of a crowded road.
He was talking with someone, a man. That person was also beautiful, his skin dark and his hair up in such a strange way it made him stand out. He didn’t see you, but he jumped inside of a building and ran away before you could understand what was happening between the two strangely stunning men. It was only the blond stranger, then. You were confused, but unafraid. What a strange, otherworldly creature he was.
The moon was shining down on him, making him seem like a ghost or a hallucination. “What are you doing there?” He spoke, his voice smooth as silk itself. He did not sound angry at all, and you gave two or three steps towards him – finally looking at his face. His nose was long, his lips voluptuous, a feature so very rare in men of his complexion. He coughed, as if to get you out of your daydreaming and to make you quit staring. “I’m sorry.” Your voice echoed in the alley, even though you spoke so low. “I just happened to see you and I thought you were very beautiful, and I couldn’t help myself? I apologize for interrupting.”
You didn’t do much interrupting though. Whoever the other man was, he seemed like he didn’t want to deal with whoever this person was supposed to be. He smiled, showing fangs that were far too big to be normal. But you were not afraid. He was… far too beautiful to make you fear.
There was also something strange in his eyes. You couldn’t put words into what it was, but perhaps it was an empty feeling, an absence of something, that was written all over his expression, even if he was smiling. “My name’s Dio.” He didn’t ask for your name when he extended his hand to greet you, but you whispered it anyways, meeting his handshake, your fingers trembling slightly against his abnormally cold skin. “Do you want to come home with me?” You didn’t know what possessed you to follow him.
On the way, through the many streets in Cairo, he kept a silence that was very solemn. His back was completely straightened, his gaze always above everyone’s heads. He was, perhaps, like an angel looking down to the people below. Truly, a masterpiece walking among humans. Michelangelo, maybe, would’ve sculpted a man so perfect, and even then, you still had your doubts. “Who are you, Dio? Are you a native? Son of immigrants?” He looked at you, then. With his strangely colored eyes saying words he could not express. “I’m not… from here.”
You didn’t understand why, but it did not seem as if he meant ‘here’ as a location, but ‘here’ as something else entirely. You nodded, accepting his answer. “I’m not from here either, I came here with a tour.” Innocently, you replied. It was a very one-sided conversation, but if you were to accompany him home, you wanted to continue to talk to him; to this strange, hypnotizing man. “Cairo has been everything but what I expected. So many kind people! The only thing I did expect was the heat.” At nights, it was colder, but on the days, the heat was enough to make one go insane.
“Heat must be something that bothers humans, I suppose.” He answered shortly, simply. Humans? He had a sick sense of humor. One of ‘those’ type of men, huh? Well… a sort of downfall must come with having such a beauty, you supposed. “What about your family? Aren’t they in the tour with you?”
“I have none. I’ve been an orphan for as long as I can remember. But being lonely allowed me to focus on working and exploring the world.” You weren’t sad about the people you never knew. You couldn’t feel sadness over something you never had to begin with. Sadness wasn’t the word you’d use, but there was an emptiness to the loneliness of having no past whatsoever, but, at least, you had freedom. Dio’s gaze morphed, and the sadness in his eyes became even more apparent. You didn’t want his pity. You raised your hands and shook your head rapidly. “That’s nothing, though! I’ve lived a good life. What about you, Dio? What about your family?”
Ah, from sadness, to coldness… his gaze truly spoke much about who he was, didn’t it? “I also have none.”
You nodded, understanding that to some it might be a sore subject. “So, we’re equals.” That was all that it occurred to you to say that was fine. You didn’t want to tell him you were sorry, for it was probably unwelcomed, and you didn’t want to push him too hard. He was, after all, as intimidating as he was beautiful. He was surprised by your words, his mouth opening to say something that was left unspoken. He seemed to be both amused and offended, maybe more offended than amused.
His house — a mansion, honestly, was enormous. The door, mahogany of an extreme quality. It was opened by a man with a strange facial structure, young, young. He was surprised when he saw Dio along with someone else. You weren’t an expected guest – obviously. Dio introduced you with a monotone, and yet silky voice. The man, strangely attractive and with a poise and grace unique, introduced himself as Terence D’Arby.
“Would you want some wine?” He asked after closing the door behind you and Dio. You wondered if the question was directed towards you or his master.
“Two cups, Shahrazade is fine.” Shahrazade was a good red wine; a bit of acidic aftertaste. So, you were supposed to drink with him – that was fine. Today, you pushed your boundaries beyond imagination by following a man home without a single care for your safety. What more could you do to worsen your situation? You were already trapped. He led you through endless halls – a home so strangely designed you had to wonder how you were supposed to get out if you had to run. The answer was simple, you wouldn’t be able to run out if the worst came to happen.
In the end, the seemingly endless walking concluded when the two of you reached an extravagant library. Something out of a fairy tale. So many books, so so many books it didn’t matter where you looked, there simply was no end to them. Your face turned to Dio, your eyes almost out of their sockets. “Who are you, Dio?”
“Your equal. Or so you say.” That answer made no sense to you, it was so out of place. But then again, you dared to say you were his equal even without knowing a single thing about him. The man possessed a library inside his home that was probably able to compete against the Vatican’s archives. The amount of money that one must possess to have these many books was beyond incredible. You got closer to the shelves, looking at the books. First editions, especial editions, hand-written masterpieces. All these works were history itself on your fingertips – you were even afraid to touch some of them, the pages so old they could turn into dust at any moment. “When you see this, what you think?”
The honest answer was power. Whoever possessed so much knowledge in their hands had to be incredibly powerful. So that was what you whispered to Dio, who was surprisingly close to you. You were almost able to feel the cold that irradiated from his body. As if he wasn’t even alive. “What would you do, with power?”
“I don’t know, I don’t think much on what I would do with power. It’s a concept so abstract I prefer to think what I would do with money. Last time I thought that, I said I wanted to go to Egypt. And here I am. I live by what I say.” You smiled up to him, resting your back on the bookshelf, looking up to his gorgeous face. “But, unlike me, you do have power and you seem to be intelligent. What are your plans?” You wanted to ask why he seemed so sad. That question was burning deep within your heart. Why every time he opened his eyes did, he seem so empty, so hollow. Terence brought the two glasses of Shahrazade, and Dio passed one of them two you – as soon as the cups were in Dio’s hands, Terence vanished without leaving a single trace of his presence in the library.
Dio took one sip from his glass. He was educated, the way he glamorously held the cup told that he must’ve been raised in a rich household. “That’s a story for another time.” You only nodded and took a sip of the wine yourself. As you had predicted, it was acid. A taste very similar to the man before you. “To be honest with you, I had the intention of eating you.”
You tilted your head, confusedly. Perhaps he meant in a sexual way? You didn’t understand. If so, you didn’t really think of yourself capable of sleeping with a man you met walking on the streets. If he meant in… another, more sinister way, you were perhaps the teeniest bit scared. But there was something about him, about Dio, that didn’t completely let you be ‘afraid’ of him, not entirely, at least. “But… you are strange. So, I will not.”
You simply stared at him, expecting an explanation. But the explanation didn’t come. You did not pursue the rest of that conversation; you simply took another sip of the wine offered to you. He leaned down, his hand just above your head, colliding with a group of books so tightly put together that they barely moved against his palm. His lips touched yours lightly, it was barely even a kiss, so chaste and discrete it felt as the entire night, like a hallucination. It lasted less than a second, and when he pulled back, he simply turned around.
Your heart was pounding against your chest, you were confused, and the glass of wine was trembling slightly, held delicately by two of your fingers. “You shall stay here.” So, you did. Either way, the manor was so big and complex that, no matter how much you tried to escape it on your own, you wouldn’t be able to. And anyways, you were far too curious about the man whose eyes looked for light, even in the depths of darkness.
Many months passed, months in which you discovered what Dio meant when he said ‘eat’ and what he meant when he referred to you as ‘human’. Dio ate women. Well… he didn’t ‘eat’ them whole. He drank their blood. He told you he needed it to continue to live. You believed him. None of the women who he ate were unwilling, either, so it made it a bit easier for you to swallow. All of them wanted to give themselves to Dio, as if he was some sort of God. It was strange, really, that you did not feel any sort of disgust towards the idea of them wanting to die by his hand. He was, after all, really something otherworldly. So perhaps dying by him would feel as pleasurable as his presence alone.
In the months that passed, you did not only continue to keep Dio company, but you also met the many people that worked underneath him for a goal. What goal? No one dared to share it with you. But you did notice, that it was as if Dio was working to archive something, and Enya – the old woman who Dio used as the representative for whatever this organization was – was working for another thing altogether. While Enya worked to the bone to collect people who would meet Dio’s expectations, Dio just counted a handful as people that were truly of his interest. You noticed that, because he would mostly speak with the same small group, ignoring the presence of everyone else in the mansion.
It was on a cold night in which you sat beside Dio’s bed when he asked you a strange question. “What do you think Heaven is?”
Heaven. That was something very abstract. Different from all the other questions he had asked you. What was ‘Heaven’, for you? Was it a place? Was it a feeling? “Happiness is Heaven, I guess.”
He chuckled to that answer, and it was a sound so uncharacteristic coming from him. “I think Heaven is… the future.”
” The future?” Your question echoed around the darkened room. He nodded, but he did not proceed to extend his idea. He just kept writing in a small notebook that he had over his legs. “What are you writing?” You stood up from your chair and sat next to him in his bed, looking down to the notebook. It was a combination of words, something like a lullaby. He didn’t hide it, nor did he try to push you away when you rested your head on his shoulder. “…Spiral staircase, rhinoceros beetle, ghost town, fig tart, rhinoceros beetle, road to Dolorosa, rhinoceros beetle, singularity, Giotto, Angel, hydrangea, rhinoceros beetle, singularity, secret emperor…” You read out loud.
“Fourteen secret words to reach ‘Heaven’.” What was that Heaven he spoke of? The Heaven Christianity spoke of? The Heaven the old ladies at the store speak of? Which was that Heaven he wanted to go to? “Don’t tell Enya.”
“I won’t. But…”
“I’ll tell you someday.” But that day, was not today. “What do you think makes a person evil?”
He was asking too many complicated questions, things that depended too much on the morals of the person he asked it to. Your morals were standard – perhaps not standard enough to be perturbed by him drinking the blood of women, but standard enough to comprehend what pure evil looked like. Enya’s son was pure evil. He was a dark soul. It was different to Dio’s, whose soul, even if dark, it was more pained than evil. “Enya’s son. I don’t know what made him evil, but I know he is evil.”
“Do you dislike him?”
“Yes, I do. But you need him for something, and I do not question you.” You felt him nod against your scalp. “You want to reach something that’s so beyond my understanding… but honestly, I just want to see the sadness off your eyes.” The sincerity escapes your lips before you could contain the words.
“Sadness? That’s what you see in my eyes?” He sounded sincerely curious. “Why do you think is that?”
“Honestly I’m surprised you’re not angry.” You sighed in relief.
“Oh, I am fuming but I do want to know why you see sadness in my eyes.” You snorted. He was probably truly angry, and deep down you were afraid. But he was so nonchalantly honest; that always caught you off guard. He was, over all things, not a liar. There was, perhaps, something noble there. “I think you miss something.” You answered his question, and knelt in the bed, looking at his face. “What do you miss, Dio?”
He didn’t answer, but he leaned in, looking at you with his strangely colored eyes. You felt his cold forehead touching against yours, and his hands resting against your neck, right above your jugular. Even from up-close, where every imperfection of the skin should be visible, he had not a single wrinkle, not a single mark on his angular beautiful face. You closed your eyes after a few seconds, and felt his icy lips touching yours. It was delicate, but it was also hungry. As if asking something from you.
His kisses weren’t romantic, for he wasn’t romantic, but they were passionate. They burnt even though his touch was so crisp. Neither of you were noisy; you, because you were used to your own silence, him, perhaps because of the same. So, the room was filled, not with noises of endless and fake moans, but with the sounds of mouths dancing with each other.
He abandoned your lips, leaving you yearning for his biting touch. His hand still resting on your neck, feeling your accelerated pulse underneath his thumb. “… They’ll come, soon.”
You panted, trying your best to recover your breath. “… who? Who’s coming, Dio?”
“My past, my past is coming.” He stood up from the bed then and left you without saying another word. You stayed there, in the bed, confused. Dio had left on the mattress the notebook in which he was writing. You thought that, maybe, if you read it, you would understand Dio better – but, it was one silent boundary that you did not dare cross. His mind, his deepest regrets, those were things you wanted to listen from him, not steal from his plastered thoughts.
You were on Dio’s bed, the one on his main room – where he did not eat. He disliked changing the sheets, or so he said. You were reading one of the many books Dio had at his disposal, you did not have much else to do other than read and listen to Dio speak. The servants at the manor had taken a dislike to you, and for such a reason, you tried your best not to engage into much conversation with anyone. Midler was especially nasty to you; she would call you whore whenever she had the chance. And of course, you would stand such insult, because Dio needed these people, for what? You did not know.
Terence was the only one who was kind to you, always giving you food and treating you with the respect you deserved. Enya… Enya was like the others. Always asking Dio why keep a pest like yourself. Everyone but Terence probably considered you a pet of sorts, and it was a strong probability that you were indeed a pet to Dio, but you did not want to think of yourself so lowly when you declared yourself his equal.
You had just barely read three pages when Dio came inside of the room, lying on the bed, his head atop of your covered thighs. He seemed frustrated; an emotion so relatable to humans that it felt almost out of place to see Dio having such a feeling. You closed your book, leaving it beside you, and your hand went to his blond hair, ruffling his strands while he hugged your thighs above the sheets. It was a… a pose so very childish. So very… innocent. He wanted to be held, and… perhaps you were starting to understand where his sadness laid. “What happened?” You sweetened your voice as much as you could and asked as softly as possible.
“They’re getting closer.” The ones who were coming. You heard one of the many servants refer to them as the ‘Joestar group’. This was what was keeping him on edge, lately. Whoever they were, they caused Dio much distress. “And I’m still so far…”
“From Heaven?” He didn’t reply, but you knew. You decided to recite the words you read back in his notebook to him, as if to calm him down. Low, soft, you repeated it once and over again as a mantra. When he loosened his grip around your thighs, you whispered “Fourteen secret words to reach Heaven. We will reach heaven, Dio.”
That was when you truly considered yourself his equal, when he nodded and closed his eyes. He showed himself weak to you, vulnerable to you. If all others thought of you as his pet, you would let them, but as of right now, you were the only one who had this ‘power’. No Stand, for you were no Stand User, but you were the only one who could see ‘this’ Dio. This was your ‘Heaven’. A place where you were able to ‘belong’.
He fell asleep, not long after. You continued to sooth him away. There was some comfort in his fear, in his anxiety. He could hide away it away from his subordinates, he could try to hide it from himself, but you were able to see. See him for the man he was. Lonely. Lonely and scared. Why? You didn’t know. But you would find out soon enough. That was the way to find the ‘Heaven’ Dio spoke of.
Slowly, the house was becoming emptier and emptier. The only constant presence was Terence. You and Terence would sometimes play video games, just to kill time, and, after a while, after much talking was said and done, he finally showed you the power of his Stand. You could not see the ‘Stand’ itself – and if it wasn’t because Dio had showed you the power of The World you would’ve thought they were simply a bunch of hysterics sharing a ceiling – but Terence’s Stand was basically one who allowed Soul manipulation. He could take out the soul of a body and insert it in dolls.
In a previous conversation with Dio, you had established that you could distinguish what was evil from good, even if your moral compass was biased – because you were perfectly capable of ignoring Dio’s eating habits. Terence was, however, not Dio, so his stand was for you, what you’d define as ‘evil’. Of course, you tried your best to hide it, and you acted as if you were impressed, and he seemed as if he was a child showing off a normal collection, happily pointing out the deepest secrets of each of his dolls.
You forced yourself to listen to him. To listen to each of the details and smile. Because Dio needed him, and you couldn’t bear to cut contact with the only person that treated you humanly other than Dio. So, you faked, faked to be impressed, to be astonished – being an orphan taught you how to put on a mask. And he swallowed it whole. You made sure that he never asked yes or no questions, so he couldn’t read, and the one who spent most of the time talking was you, as if eating away every chance he had to see your true emotions.
Terence grew used to showing you his collection, so you simply accepted his invitations each time, especially since Dio was not at the manor and had not been at the manor for a few days. When he finally made it back home, back into his room where you were waiting, you could not help it and threw yourself at him, hugging him close. He tensed for a second, then, his body relaxed underneath your touch. “What happened?” He asked you, as his hand rested atop of your head, caressing you. This was it; this was happiness, this was ‘Heaven’. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I can’t.” You whispered once and over again against his chest.
He sighed and picked you up. He took a sit on the bed, and you straddled him between your thighs, still hugging his neck and with your face buried underneath his chin. “You saw Terence’s power, didn’t you?” He asked and you nodded. He simply continued to caress you. “But I do so much terrible… no. I do what must be done. And yet…” For the first time, he sounded unsure.
You shook your head. “You’re not the same. You’re my ‘Heaven’.” He took hold of your face, and made you look at his strangely colored eyes. “I’m not Heaven, but I’ll help you reach heaven, foolish woman.” His brow was so furrowed, he was so concerned. Your hands went to his face, and you touched underneath his eyes. He was so perfect, not a single wrinkle in his beautiful face. “For all I know, this room, with you, this is ‘Heaven’.” Terence wasn’t part of that Heaven, no one in this manor was part of that place. No one, not even in the new hideout would be part of this. This was yours, and yours alone.
He kissed you, and it had the taste of an apology.
They had broken inside the new hideout. The Joestar group. You and Dio were in bed, he was writing on his small notebook, and you were beside him, your hand atop of his cold forearm.
If he stayed, so would you. The sound of fighting was distant, but ever present inside of the darkened room. Vanilla Ice, a man Dio had recruited not long ago, entered the room with a face filled with determination, not a trace of fear. “D’Arby has fallen. The groups are divided into two, Jotaro Kujo, Joseph Joestar and Noriaki Kakyoin are one team, Jean Pierre Polnareff, Mohammed Avdol and Iggy are another.” He recited, as if he had learnt that phrase and it was simply something he was meant to say in front of a crowd, in a theater.
And as such, Dio answered with something akin. Dio wanted proof of Vanilla Ice’s loyalty. So, he asked the man for blood. Without much doubt, Vanilla Ice chopped his head off, leaving you nauseous and Dio impressed. While you loved Dio, adored him and would do absolutely everything for him, you couldn’t understand the sadistic tendencies of his subordinates. They were what you’d call… ‘wicked’. Dio resurrected him, considering him worthy of having his life back, and sent him off to work with no hesitation. Then, he turned to you. “Do you think loyalty is the same as perseverance?”
Always questioning, so much of him was curious. So much to ask, so little time to answer. “No… I do not think so. Why do you ask?”
“Because… He is prepared, but he is lacking perseverance. I do not know what the result of that fight will be.” He was starting to show anxiousness. Of course, he was. But he wouldn’t run, you knew he wouldn’t run. So, neither will you. “It’s almost time.” He sat on the edge of the bed. You hugged his broad back, a back meant to protect. He held your hand atop of his chest. “… if things were different, I might’ve not been this… ‘foul’. If I win against the Joestars, we’ll make it to ‘Heaven’. I promise.”
’If’ he wins against the Joestars. The doubt. “I will stand with you until the end.” You whispered against his ear, feeling the ticklish sensation of his hair against your face. He tightened his grip around your palm. “No, you won’t.”
“Dio? Dio, if you’re to die today, I will die with you.” He chuckled. So deep. So, filled with… happiness. A happiness you’ve not heard from him. An emotion that he had not yet expressed as it was meant to be expressed. He kissed your knuckles, softly; your palm, your fingers, all your hand.
His cold lips moved tenderly against your skin. “Live. Find Enrico Pucci in America, and live. Find heaven. If I win today, I’ll come to you two, my friends who I trust with my whole heart. If I don’t… you gave me a piece of ‘Heaven’, here, and now.” He stood up, untangling himself from you. You followed suit and held his arm. “Dio… Dio, I…”
He smiled to you. Open. Free. Truly happy. In his eyes, you no longer could see a shadow of the lingering pain he felt. He freed himself from your grasp, and opened the door, leaving you alone in the room. You sat in the bed, silently hoping for him to return at some point. You waited. Hours passed and you sat in the bed, simply waiting, until you could wait no more. You felt it. You felt in your heart his defeat. A defeat he had accepted, to people you knew he respected as much as he despised. Or did he truly despise them? You hugged the notebook to your chest. The only thing that remained from your ‘Heaven’.
Enrico Pucci. You would find Enrico Pucci and the two of you would find the way to ‘Heaven’. Where Dio wanted to go so badly. You wiped away your tears as you ran through the secret passages of the new hideout, having learnt them all from Dio. Once you found yourself outside, it was almost morning. The first rays of sunlight were visible in the horizon, and you felt their warmth touching you for the first time in years. The light felt like needles when all you’ve felt for years was the cold.
Enrico Pucci. You needed to find Enrico Pucci so the two of you could find a way to go to ‘Heaven’.
Thank you all so much for reading! <3
Chapter 7: Burning sun
His touch was warm, as the burning sun.
I am so grateful for all the comments, and I am so sorry that I've not updated in a while. I've been working and I've been in college and reading and A LOT HAS GONE DOWN XD
Thank you so much for reading up until now! I've to upload a Josuke request, a Bruno request, a continuation for Mista's chapter, and a continuation for Polnareff's! These one-shots have given me much happiness to write and I'm glad people are enjoying the ride as much as I am.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The morning sun shone through the window inside of your room. Your eyelids felt heavy as you tried to open your eyes to welcome a new day to the world. Your mother would be waiting for you downstairs, along with Suzi. She was probably already dressed and prepared to go into town to buy the supplies you needed for the week. Lisa was like that, always getting up before the sun.
You yawned, sitting up on your bed. The vermillion covers – your mother’s preference, not yours – rested above your legs as you extended your arms to the ceiling, stretching them until there was a distinct crack on your back. You smiled feeling more relaxed, and stood up – walking towards your wardrobe, ready to start a new day. Mornings weren’t your favorite, but today was especial, since Caesar (the man you – even if you denied it – loved with all your heart) was returning along with a friend of his.
You missed Caesar dearly, he was, after all, the only company you had on the lonely island, other than Loggings, Messina and Suzi. And while you loved them to pieces, it was still rather hard to find time to be with them as friends when Loggings and Messina spent most of their time training the ripple, and Suzi had to take care of the chores of the castle. Your mother, after all, ever protective, had not allowed you to train under her to become a ripple user. You always wondered if, perhaps, you simply didn’t possess what was needed to use the ripple… but it was extremely unlikely, since, it was a breathing technique.
You were sure you had lungs!
But, now wasn’t the time to think such things. You had to get ready! Soon Caesar would be home, and he would be home with a friend! It was exciting, meeting new people. Venice’s skies were ever so blue over the castle’s ceiling, but they also felt endless and lonely when all the company you had were your thoughts. Caesar was coming home!
Once you were dressed and ready, you ran towards the first floor, where your mother was seated, over a beautiful, red sofa. She stood, and walked to you with a pleasant, ever-present smile. She kissed your temple with a sweetness only a mother would possess and arranged a little bit of your outfit that was seemingly out of place. “You took your sweet time, dolce mio.”
You grinned up at her, unapologetic and bold. Lisa supposed it was a thing that came with age, though, even as she was fifty years old, she thought she hadn’t lost her boldness. “I’m sorry mamma, I woke up late.” She nodded, and your smile simply expanded its reaches. The two of you set pace to the door of the castle, and before you were out, Lisa gave you a carnival mask. “Mamma, but the carnival isn’t…”
“There’s a person I must test. I want you to come with me because you’re not a ripple user, so your eyes aren’t tinted by what strength he may show.” She held the mask closer to you, and you ended up taking it from her grasp. “But if anything should go wrong, you can remain hidden and anonymous while I sort things out.”
“Is this about Caesar’s friend?” You asked, as you put on the disguise and closed the door of the castle. Lisa had an uncertain look on her face, her eyebrows furrowed slightly. “Mamma… what’s wrong?”
She shook her head. “Nothing, caro mío. Nothing you should worry about, anyways. But I want you to meet this… man.” Her voice was but a whisper at the end of the sentence. “Let’s go.”
The Saint Mark’s street was filled with live and beauty, as it always was. So much Golden and blue, colors that filled both the ground and the heavens above. Lisa walked as if she was an illusion, both hiding among the people and yet, out of place due to her figure and poise. You walked behind her, close and yet, far enough for you to make a quick retreat if the worst came to happen. Around your neck, a beautiful stone that your mother had asked you to keep close for the day. Very rarely did she use that stone, and the fact that she had asked you to wear it made you weary of whatever was happening. Some may say that ignorance was bliss, but bliss wasn’t exactly what you felt when she settled the stone on your neck once you both reached the Venice harbor.
The man the two of you came to see was sitting on a restaurant. He was tall and broad, his eyes blue and his hair a bit of a mess. His skin was sun kissed; an olive tone so unique to him. If you were honest… he seemed to be rather similar to your own mother, the way he was not even trying to be elegant and yet, having a display that was very gentlemanly in the way he crossed his legs and sat with his back comfortably straight. Lisa asked you to stop, and she approached, attacking him without any regard of just how strange it would look. Her hair was hidden underneath a hat, and her face was beneath a mask. For all intent and purposes, she looked more like an enemy and less than a woman that was supposed to teach him.
He couldn’t defend himself. Of course, he wasn’t, your mother was the best ripple user in the world. But of course, you weren’t there to judge his ability, you were there to judge his character. He was insulting to your mother after he discovered she was a woman, and he was also very arrogant, but even then, you did not feel him to be a bad person, if anything, he seemed to be a… naïve man. But whatever thoughts you had on him were soon wiped by the appearance of the man you had yearned to see.
Once Caesar was in your field of view, you forgot all about care, all about ‘getting away if needed’, all about your disguise. You tossed your mask off your face and ran to him, who was standing right by his friend’s side, introducing him to Lisa. You threw your arms around his neck and jumped onto him, earning a pained growl as you felt his arms around your waist, picking you up and spinning you around. “Caesar!! I missed you so much!!”
You heard Lisa make a noise, something in-between a groan and a chuckle, and the man beside you and Caesar made an annoyed sound at the back of his throat. But you did not care. The warmth of Cesar’s chest against you filled you with a sense of satisfaction that was beyond explicable words. You felt complete, happy to have him back on your reach. “I missed you too.” He whispered against your temple, finally letting you down. He looked down to the red pendant on your necklace, and his eyes darkened as he looked back to Lisa, who shook her head silently as she approached you and took hold of your shoulders.
“Caro, this is Joseph Joestar. He’ll be living with us for the next few weeks.” Lisa pushed you towards Joseph, and from up close you could sense the naïveté even more than before. “This is my daughter.”
You told Joseph your name, and bowed your head slightly, bringing your hand up to your chest. However, the next few sentences Joseph uttered weren’t what you would expect from a refined young man. “Daughter!? Just how old are you!?”
Lisa coughed behind you, and you had to contain a chuckle because, ripple kept your mother looking rather young, but she was in her 50s. However, it was also true that you weren’t biologically hers. “I’m her adoptive daughter, Joseph.”
Caesar intercepted the conversation right then. “And that’s absolutely none of your business, either way, Jojo.” You felt the grip of your mother over your shoulders leave you and soon was substituted with a single hand. Your fingers almost subconsciously went up to Caesar’s, and you looked up to him. His eyes were as blue as ever. “You don’t have to give him explanations.”
“I can’t have him thinking that mamma is that old, can I?” You smiled, so brightly that it reached your eyes. You truly had missed Caesar immensely.
“Not that it matters to me, I’m very aware I look rather young for my age.” You heard Lisa, and chuckle inwardly. Yes, she did, and you also knew she was rather vain, but you supposed all women were a bit vain at some point in their lives. “We better head back. You two are starting your training right away.”
Your heart sank, you truly hoped you would be able to spend more time with Caesar, but whatever that was happening required them to train to the bone. It was almost accidental, the sigh that escaped your lips, but you felt the thumb of Caesar’s hand that still rested over your shoulder massaging you kindly. “You mustn’t worry, I won’t let a lady alone too long.”
You giggled. “Same old womanizer?”
“You wound me. You’re the most especial, in my heart.” Joseph made a sound that spoke volumes about his disgust. Lisa, on the other hand, wasn’t even looking at the two of you, however, you were able to see a lingering smile on her lips.
Whatever training you thought they were going to go through; you didn’t expect it to be the hell climb pillar. Nor did you expect your mother to put Joseph on said pillar with a breathing control mask. Of course, you knew your mother was a hard teacher and that she was unforgiving, and that was one of the many reasons why she was the best ripple user and why she wouldn’t teach you how to use it. You sat at the edge of the floor, seeing both men struggling to even climb a single meter.
Lisa was standing a few meters away from you, the necklace she had taken from you a few minutes ago in her hand. She told you, secretly, that the stone was of importance, and that she needed to showcase it to Joseph to see if he was able to recognize it. You accepted her explanation, no questions asked – why ask about something you couldn’t understand? “Caro mío, are you just going to sit there and watch them struggle?”
You looked down the cliff, oil was running down through it. “It was cruel for you to throw them in without a moment to rest, mamma. I will stay and watch them.”
Lisa chuckled. “You’re too soft. But that’s what makes you, you.” There was something left unsaid. You felt it on the air. The softness was both your weakness and your strength. Lisa would never want to take that away from you. When you were growing up, you would cry over a hurt bird on the garden, and you would sob over smart wounds. That softness of heart was what made Lisa decide that you weren’t fit to be a ripple warrior. But she wasn’t disappointed, if anything, it made her happy. She was able to protect you from a world that was far too cruel. “Alright. However, Messina or Loggings will come and get you out if you’re not on the castle by nine.”
“… what are they going to eat?” You asked softly once your mother couldn’t listen. With their hands having to hold the wall, they wouldn’t be able to hold anything you threw at them. If they couldn’t surpass this test, you would have to see them slowly wither away bathed in oil. You joined your hands in a soft prayer.
When Loggings came to get you out of the climbing pillar section, Caesar was midway through the climbing wall, while Joseph was ten meters below him. You didn’t want to leave, but your mother had requested it. Your dreams were filled with the horrid image of two corpses bathed in oil. You knew it was all but a dream, and yet it left a putrid taste in your mouth when your eyes opened before the sun was out.
Suzi was in the first floor, cleaning up the floor when she saw you running towards the front door. “Hey! Hey little mistress.” She called for you. You turned to her, still dressed barely on your sleeping clothes. “You’re not leaving this house until you’re properly dressed. And you’re absolutely not leaving to see two men while you’re on your sleeping gown!” She left the mop beside a window and a sofa, and she came towards you, pushing you right back to your room. “Suzi I—”
“I don’t care what explanation you have, shower, change of clothes, food, and then you can worry. Did you even look at yourself on the mirror? Caesar will not like it if you’re going around showing your good stuff to other men, you know?”
“Suzi we’re just…”
“Friends? Yeah. And I’m the queen of Italy. Zip it. You wouldn’t shut up about him since he left. Now he’s back and I’m making sure you’re properly presentable for him.” Suzi grinned, and you could swear you’ve never seen a woman more beautiful in your life.
Once you were able to set yourself free from Suzi’s grasp, fully bathed, perfumed, and changed, you made your way to the climbing arena. Once you reached it, you were surprised to see Caesar finally out, breathing heavily. You ran towards him, and you laid your hand above his – quite oily – hair. He panted, and yet, smiled up to you. “Doll…”
“I was so worried about you.” Even with the years he spent here in the care of Lisa, he never faced such a harsh training in his life. You traced his cheekbone with your thumb, softly touching the moles underneath his eyes. Then, you helped him stand up. “Jojo…” he whispered, and you looked down to the pit. Joseph was still… was that an oil wall?? What had transpired the night before??
“Caesar? Is that a trap?? What happened??” You felt the man beside you stumble a bit. You managed to keep him steady.
“Joseph found a hole and tried to rest. It backfired.”
‘Backfired’ was the biggest understatement you’ve heard in a while. The pressure in which the oil was been shot from the wall was enough to probably kill a man. How had Caesar escaped such fate was beyond you. “Ripple is truly a scary technique…” You whispered. If the training had to be so strong, you didn’t want to think about what enemies these two men and your mother were facing.
“Am I scary then?” He asked you, jokingly.
“Of course, you are, just look at you.” You faked disgust in your voice, and he laughed, hugging you close, even though he was absolutely filled with oil up to his underwear. You were completely grossed out by the sensation of the oil against your skin but having him close to you was enough for you to forgive him for such an action. His arms were around your waist, and you rested your hair against the crook of his neck. “What are you up against this time around, Caesar?”
“Creatures beyond all of us.” He had a serious tone to him. Something somber hid behind every word. “But Jojo is more at risk than me.”
You looked down to the man in question, and, in his eyes, you could see a determination that… spoke of survival. Caesar was right. You were able to see the fear in Joseph’s face, but there was also a wish… a will, to live. A will you had not seen in Caesar when he first arrived. You silently thought that Joseph wasn’t the one at risk.
Once Joseph reached the top, you were almost as mentally tired as he was physically. You had seen him struggle and when he finally, finally was on mainland, you couldn’t help yourself but to bring him close and hug him. He didn’t hug you back, but he didn’t push you away, he simply allowed himself to be hugged and, it brought him some sort of comfort.
Lisa was standing right by the entrance of the climbing arena, and beside her, Loggings and Messina were looking at Joseph and Caesar as menacingly as they could muster. You knew the two of them were sweet and really kind, so having them look at both men with expressions so out of character was very funny; they were probably trying to look cool in front of a new student.
“Mamma, at the very least let them rest for a few hours…” You approached Lisa, and she kindly cupped your cheek and kissed your forehead. “There’s no time for them to rest, and they both understand.”
You turned your head and looked back to the two men… barely men, really. So young, and so bright and yet, so determined to continue, even if they almost couldn’t stand. “… Mamma. Who are you facing?”
“People you shouldn’t bother yourself with. It’ll be alright. Enough defiance, however. Now I’m not your mother, I am their teacher. Go back to the castle.” You were taken aback, for her tone when from sweetness to a toughness that was only meant for her students to listen. You nodded and went back. Suzi was already preparing you a bath, and she smiled sadly at you when she noticed the weird expression you were wearing. Lisa almost never raised her voice against you, even when you were growing up, so whenever she did, it was strangely jarring.
Suzi helped you wash your hair. “A few things, we don’t question. You and I both know this.” She whispered, her smile still lingering on her rosy lips.
It was three nights later when you finally were able to catch sight of Caesar in the living room, a book opened on his thighs while he was taking a – very well-deserved – break. You sneaked up behind him and covered his eyes. Feeling his eyelashes tickle against your palm. “Did I surprise you?” You asked, as he brought his hands up to take yours off his eyes.
“I can smell your perfume; I knew you were in the room since you entered it.” He kissed the back of your left hand. “You’ve become bolder while I was absent.”
“You were gone for months. I was lonely. Mamma tries to soothe my loneliness, but it isn’t the same when you’re not around.” You two lived under the same roof for five years, after all. His absence felt strongly, in every corner of the castle.
“I am sorry, you know I needed to leave. I wouldn’t have left you if I had a choice in the matter.” He sounded sincere enough, and while you had no right to hold any anger towards him to begin with, you accepted his apology. “What can I do to make it up to you?”
There wasn’t exactly a necessity for him to ‘make it up to you’, but a funny idea shone in your mind. So strongly that it left your lips prior to you having finished the thought “Dance with me.”
It took him a few seconds to understand what you meant, and once it sank, he left the book on a small coffee table by his side and stood up, offering you his calloused, masculine hand. “Would you like to dance, my lady?” You nodded happily, taking his palm in yours.
While the two of you were dressed in your causal clothing, while spinning around in the room too filled with tables and sofas, it felt as if you were both dressed up for the night. The room was lit by normal light, but in your mind, it was filled with candlelight. Spinning and spinning, none of you were good dancers, and yet you continued your waltz. Music that was not there began to sound as the two of you were transported to somewhere new altogether.
Five years ago, Caesar arrived being but a child. However, he was too mature for his age, and you, too naïve. It came as a surprise to everyone that a friendship between the two of you was born. One in which he could act his age. It was funny, really, almost contrasting, the way the two of you acted, and yet, it felt natural for the two of you to speak.
You missed him dearly. Truly missed him beyond words when he wasn’t there. And dancing around like no one was watching felt as fulfilling as if must feel for a woman on her wedding night to have her first dance. “Hey, Caesar?”
“Hm?” He asked, as he looked down to you.
“Don’t let anyone take me away from you. If you’re brave, you’ll ask my hand in marriage before anyone else does. That way, you have no way of escaping me. Though, I’ll kick you if you go around flirting with other women.”
“Hah, once this is all over. I promise I’ll marry you. Though I do not promise I’ll stop flirting. It’s of bad taste to see a woman alone and not say something!” The two of you twisted and turned around the living room. He was smiling. You couldn’t really be angry at him. That simply was who he was. A gentleman, if a bit of a flirt. “Once this is all over.”
“Alright, it’s a promise then.” Even if he went away, by marrying you, it was a promise that he was always going to return home. No matter what.
The weeks passed, and it was time for one last test before Caesar and Joseph were ready to face ‘those stronger than humanity’, as your mother had described them. You sat by her side, she was drinking red wine, a Sangiovese. She seemed anxious, even worried about both of her students. “Mamma, would you please explain to me what’s going on already?”
Lisa sighed, a mixture between exasperation and indecision. “Do you remember the mask?”
“The… stone mask?” It was a story your mother told you when you were fifteen. The stone mask was an artifact strong enough to make those who wear it immortal, but they were weak against the sun. Thus, was the reason why ripple warriors were so important. “I do remember.”
“Straizo… your grandfather… came across a stone mask, and he used it himself.” This was entirely new information. Your mother had not told you such horrible news. Your grandfather was a proud ripple user, he would never defy the teachings of ripple like that. “He was defeated by Joseph. But not before disclosing important information about those who created the stone mask. Our original enemies.” Lisa was trying to keep herself collected while she spoke, but it obviously was a sore wound still to speak about Straizo. You, on the other hand, couldn’t contain the tear that fell from your eye.
Your grandfather, who kissed your cheeks when you were seven and took you around Venice to see sightsee. Your dear, dear grandfather. You felt a hand come atop of yours. Your mother’s. She continues to speak, but she didn’t try to stop your tears. “Those enemies who created the stone mask are immortal, but they’re weak against the sun. If they were to get the stone mask, along with... the red stone of Aja… they would be able to travel underneath the sun. And they would rule us, the humans, as if we were there mere puppets.”
She had a determined face. “It is our duty as ripple warriors to protect humanity against them. You have nothing to worry about, dolce mio. Now, you know what I know. They’ve trained, and trained to the point of exhaustion, so that they can beat them.”
Your heart felt like breaking. What happens if they cannot? What happens if they fail? You couldn’t handle the thought of your mother or Caesar not returning home, or even Joseph! There was so much uncertainty soon, so much to fear. You were afraid, for there was absolutely nothing you could do.
The morning sun came, and it came with the news of Loggings’ death and the defeat of Esidisi, one of the men who were long forgotten by history. There was no time to mourn, for Caesar, Lisa, Joseph and Messina were going to leave today.
You wanted to go with them. You truly did. It was almost as if your body was imploring you to reach out. Lisa saw you struggling, and she felt her heart tighten against her chest. You held her arm. “Let me come with you.” If there was a single weakness a mother felt, it was the tears her daughter cried. Even if she was aware you would be of no use, she couldn’t help but feel there was more risk in leaving you alone than taking you with them. After all, you were crazy enough to follow them to Switzerland, where the two remaining pillar men remained.
“You’ll come, but you’ll not interrupt us in any way possible. You understand? You can’t bring attention to yourself. You can’t.” Lisa held your hands between hers. “I would feel better if you stayed with Suzi. But I know you won’t.”
You smiled, even though you were aware it didn’t reach your eyes. You were weak, and it was a mistake to bring you along. But your mother was everything but stupid. Suzi wouldn’t be able to keep you from following them. Especially after what happened last night, she was still weak.
Before you got inside the car, you went back and hugged Suzi. Perhaps this was the last time you would. All the time you’ve spent with her cane running through your mind. She had taken care of you since you were a teenager and so was, she, and even when she was equally as innocent as you were, she felt like an older sister to you. She was barely standing, probably tired due to Esidisi’s possession, and yet she forced herself to smile your way and she held you between her arms. It was almost as warm as Caesar’s touch. “Take good care and come back once this is all over.”
You didn’t reply, because it was a promise you didn’t know if you would be able to fulfill. The trip to Switzerland was around five hours. Then you had to discover where the two remaining enemies were hiding. You weren’t going to involve in the fighting, but at the very least you needed to help your mother and companions to find them.
You let go of Suzi and went into the car. There was a single hope that shone deeply inside of your heart. Once this was all over, you would go and become the lady of a house, you’d marry and have children, and your mother would be blessed with many grandchildren. Perhaps they would look like Caesar? Oh, how much that filled you with happiness. The loneliness inside would vanish once and for all – or so you prayed.
The sun was high in heavens when you finally arrived in Switzerland, few hours passed midday. You felt the sunshine shower you in its blessings, perhaps as a substitute for the ripple you couldn’t use. You felt Caesar’s hand hold yours as you made your way into town, feeling his fingers intertwine with yours. He was tense, his face shadowed even if the car’s hood was down. His blue eyes, as blue as the sky itself, seemed so deep they appeared to be hiding the ocean beneath them.
Caesar was the first to head to fight those known as the pillar men. Your mother and Joseph tried to stop him but to no avail. You followed him, ignoring your mother’s call. You were blinded by love and loneliness, and perhaps a bit stupid. Messina also came along; the sun was bright in the heavens and it was the perfect chance for them to fight.
The hideout was in San Moritz, in some old ruins that perfectly hid the sun. The entrance was windy, too much wind for a ruin that was supposedly completely closed off from the inside. So much, in fact, that you couldn’t head in from the front door. Whatever transpired in the few seconds the three of you stood outside the ruins, you couldn’t comprehend. What you knew, however, was that Messina had fallen out of combat even before the combat had started. Cesar had a greater understanding of the situation than you did, and with his ripple infused bubbles he managed to create a hole in the wall, which managed to let him inside of the ruins. You followed, but not close enough to him to get in his way, if a fight was meant to happen.
Messina, was laid in a table, how? You couldn’t even start to understand. He was unconscious, but alive, which was a relief when you went up to him to feel his pulse. What Caesar was fighting now wasn’t a common beast, it was something so beyond your control and beyond anyone’s control that reality itself shifted to its will. At least, that’s how it felt. “He’s alive.” You told Caesar softly, while your hand wiped some cold sweat that laid in Messina’s forehead.
In the shadows, above a pair of twin-stairs, a figure stood proudly. Features so gorgeous you knew instantly he was no man, but a creature of a world so different from yours, you couldn’t even begin to comprehend his very existence. His eyes were red, his hair white, the arrangements over him were from a time long-lost to mankind.
The fight between the two of them began almost immediately, bubbles and wind fighting as if they were mortal enemies. Ripple, blessed with the power of the sun, coursing through the water of each of Caesar’s attacks. He was relentless, never stopping, not giving the creature before him time to think or act. But the ‘man’ with white hair and red eyes — Wamuu, Wamuu was his name — retaliated with the same amount of passion and power.
They were unequal in strength. Even with your untrained eye you were able to make out that much. Even with the determination shining through in Caesar’s eyes, you knew far too well that it wasn’t… it wasn’t enough. A powerful wind attack was deflected to the ceiling, and pieces began to fall everywhere. You took hold of Messina’s unconscious body and moved him somewhere safe.
In the meantime, you heard as Wamuu fell from upstairs to the first floor due to one of Caesar’s powerful glittering movements. Ripple really was blessed with the power of the sun. And as the sun would have it, Caesar created mirror-like bubbles all around Wamuu, causing the light from the hole in the wall to reflect all over Wamuu. Perhaps you were wrong, perhaps Caesar’s determination was indeed enough to destroy this creature that was meant to be gone for good! A kick, that was his ending move, that was what Caesar planned.
And you joined your hands in a silent prayer while you saw the distance between Wamuu, and Caesar shorten. What happened next was all too abstract for you to describe. A tornado made of wind was born from the hands of Wamuu, and said tornado caught Caesar midair. You didn’t understand, you couldn’t understand just what had happened, or why, however, you understood one thing for sure…
The fight was over, and there was a winner, and it wasn’t the man you had hoped to take you to the altar one day. You couldn’t see more, for the winds, with their destructive power, crushed you against the nearest wall. You felt a rib breaking, but even with a pain beyond description, after the winds had subsided, you stood, looking for the man you loved. He was standing, right in front of Wamuu – but standing was too much of an overstatement, but he was barely able to keep himself on his feet. He went to him and took hold of the ring he had around his lower lip. It was all he could muster before… before he fell down the stairs above a pool of his own blood. You tried to run up to him, but your own pain did not allow you to move.
“Wamuu… that woman back there… she cannot use ripple.” Caesar whispered, his blue eyes losing color. You fell to your knees, trying to get closer to him, trying to crawl to where he was, but the more you moved, the stronger the pain on your rib became. “I’m… not afraid to die. Let this be my present to Jojo, and… let her live. She… has nothing to do with any of this.”
You tried to scream, but your voice did not come out. “Let this be… my final ripple.” He shone. He shone as brightly as the sun itself. Your eyes were filled with his light, the last light he would ever produce. The last warmth you’d feel coming from him. You knew it was his end, you knew he had been foolish insisting in coming alone. He was dying, a few feet away from you and you couldn’t even reach to hold his hand one last time. The empty promise of a marriage came to you, as you tried to move closer to him.
The last bubble he produced was crimson, so deep and beautiful it looked fake. Your hand was almost reaching his, when a boulder from above came down as a cross and buried him beneath it. You couldn’t even scream, you couldn’t even cry. The pain of your fractured rib wasn’t nearly enough as the pain you felt watching the small pool of blood come from beneath the boulder. Wamuu walked to you, and perhaps I’d be a blessing to have him end you know instead of having to live your life thinking eternally about your weakness. Caesar’s blood touched the tip of your fingers and your mouth moved, it moved as you silently sobbed, bringing your bloodied hand to your chest.
“I’ll let you live. And you can take the antidote, as well. It is a gift, from a warrior, to another.” His voice, even as cold as winter, held an underlying sadness in each, and every word.
Lisa came, not too long later, and she saw you laying on fetal form, all around you blood that wasn’t yours. Close, but not close enough, a single crimson bubble was above a boulder, and a scream as high as the heavens was heard. One filled with pain, sorrow and regrets. Your mother picked you up, and you felt her tears falling on your face. You couldn’t even cry, your eyes were empty. As empty as a promise made just barely a month ago.
You missed him, you’ve missed him since the day he left Venice, and now you would miss him forever.
The rest of the fight, you spend out of commission. You knew your mother, and your new-found brother were victorious, for two weeks later, even though you thought he was dead, Joseph appeared with flowers through the door on your hospital room. Suzi was with him, but she didn’t speak much about the nature of their relationship. You were able to see her ring – she was probably being respectful, for you were mourning still the loss of… your dear ‘friend’. If Suzi was able to read your mind, she would tell you to zip it, or perhaps she would hold you close as you let the tears stream down your face.
It hurt. To know that you were too late to catch him, to know that your hand was too far to reach him one last time. You felt Joseph’s hand on your scalp, and he bent until his forehead was touching your temple. “Come to New York with me, mom and Suzi, let’s start again.”
You covered your face with your hands, and you cried, but you nodded anyways. Caesar would watch over you from above, each time the sun shone as bright as his last ripple did, you knew it was him, looking out for both you and Joseph. You joined your hands in a small prayer, hoping for the two of you to meet again.
Thank you so much for reading!!