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Too late for the young gun to lead a simple life.

Too late for the young gun…

This is the Year of the Knife.

 


 

It was the summer of 1999.  In the town of Morioh, a Stand user was making people go missing.

The Stand’s activity had been detected in the usual manner, with Holy’s Stand, Raspberry Beret; Joseph was getting on in years, and his photography wasn’t as accurate as it used to be, so she’d taken over in his duties.  Her results were actually more accurate in general, even compared to what Joseph was able to manage in his prime. Unlike her father, Holy was able to set her focus on “connections” rather than only Stands, and could produce multiple photographs of things related to the Stand, not just the Stand and its user alone.

The recent business in Morioh had produced photographs of a department store, a woman’s hand, a sandwich, a brown paper bag.  The Stand and its user, who were also made manifest in Holy’s Polaroids, were creatures of violet shadows and sharp angles, and utmost care would be required to find them and stop them in their tracks.  

This would be an assignment of great danger and risk.

Giorno was 14 years old, and he absolutely wanted in on it.

“No.”

“But, Dad!”

“Absolutely not, Giorno.”

“But I can help!”

Dio was already packing his bags.  “Giorno, this is a very serious matter.  Maybe if it were something… smaller, you could come along, but not this.”

“But I’ve been getting really good at using Gold Experience!” Giorno whined.

Dio sighed.  “Giorno… while I appreciate your enthusiasm, I just don’t feel comfortable letting you come along.  It’s best if I go for now. You can come with me when we detect the… next Stand user.  All right?”

“Da-ad!  But we have no idea when that’ll be! ” he said.  

“I’m sure the next one will come along soon enough,” Dio replied.  “And I’ll be back from Morioh before you know it.”

Dio left via car that afternoon, and Giorno sulked for the rest of the day.

Holy noticed, of course, and not just because he wasn’t eating his dinner.  “Whatever it is that Dio ends up finding, I’m sure it won’t be that exciting,” she told him, with a sympathetic smile.

“Yeah, right.  It’s probably gonna be awesome ,” Giorno replied.  “And I’m gonna miss all of it.”

To Holy’s surprise, Giorno continued to mope for the better part of the week.  Soft-hearted as she was, she decided that, maybe, she could do something about it.

(And, besides, there had been something on her mind that she’d been otherwise unable to tend to.  Many things on her mind, in fact.)

On Sunday night, at dinner, she asked, “Giorno-kun, how about you and I go for a little… adventure, for a few days?”

“An adventure?”

She nodded with a closed-eye smile.  “Mhm! Just a few days off school.”

“Well, okay, but… what kind of adventure?”  There was a spark of interest in his gloomy eyes.

Holy reached into the pocket of her apron and pulled out a small collection of Polaroids.

“Looking for Stands, of course,” she said.  “I did some more research and found three more Stands that need to be accounted for in Morioh.  Would you like to come with me to check on them?”

Giorno’s face broke into a wide grin.  “You mean it? You really mean it?!”

“It won’t be terribly exciting, but I figured you could use the experience,” Holy replied.  “And it should be fun!’

“Yes!  Yeah, absolutely!”

The next day, they left for Morioh.

(Stands, for whatever reason, seemed to be drawn to other Stands, after all, so it was to be expected that there were a few more in the town where all the disappearances were happening.)

Holy was relieved that Raspberry Beret had uncovered three less-aggressive Stands and users, since Giorno was so young, and her combat ability wasn’t as impressive as, say, Dio’s, or Jotaro’s.  It would be a treat for Giorno, and it would be helping out the Speedwagon Foundation. Two birds with one Stand, as it were!

(A treat for Giorno, yes, but there were other things on Holy’s mind.)

With the help of a map, Holy was able to locate the first Stand in a building labeled “Salon Cinderella.”  Her Polaroids had produced a picture of the building itself, so it didn’t take them very long.

“Hahh… Welcome, welcome, what can I do for you today?”  The proprietress was pale-skinned and golden-haired, and wore a uniform of flowing pink cotton, very much looking the part of a working-class princess.

“Just visiting around!” Holy replied.  “Though, if I might ask you something?”

“Hahh… Of course.”

With a gentle smile and a gentle flourish, Holy brought out Raspberry Beret.  “Do you see anything behind me?”

The woman blinked, a lovely varnish of surprise appearing on her face.  “My my… Hahh… So it seems I’m not alone…”

The woman introduced herself as Aya Tsuji, and her Stand, Cinderella, was a very curious one indeed.

“I can see why she gave you that gift!” Holy said, once Aya explained how she worked.  “Given your profession and all.”

“Hahh…  Yes, I’ll admit, it’s made my dreams of being a ‘fairy godmother’ a lot easier…” Aya replied.  “It’s so wonderful that she lets me make dreams come true. Speaking of,” Aya continued, “would you like me to give either of you a little touch-up?  Since we’re all Stand users, I’ll do it for free…”

“Oh, goodness, no, I’m fine,” said Holy, waving her hand.

“Hmm…”  Aya tilted her head and stroked some of Giorno’s dark hair away from his brow.  “Still… Hahh, young man… You have quite a fortunate aesthetic about you…”

“Ace… tactic?” said Giorno.  His face was growing very pink.

“Hahh…  Yes, indeed.  The structure of your face… It’s a face that catches the attention of the winds of fate, winds of both good and ill fortune…”

“Oh…”

Aya smiled slightly, and tucked Giorno’s hair behind his ear.  “See, these birthmarks, especially. Hahh… Yes, that’s the mark of someone cursed with luck…”

“You can tell all that from just a few birthmarks?” said Holy.  “Amazing!”

“Oh, yes.  Hahh… And if I’m not mistaken… you possess one of your own?” Aya continued, facing Holy.  “I can feel it.”

“Well, it’s probably this!”  Holy lifted her hair away from her neck, exposing the star-shaped birthmark beneath it.

“Ah, yes, yes…  That is a mark of great power…” said Aya, removing her hands from Giorno drawing closer to Holy.  

As she continued on with Holy, Giorno kept his hand cupped over his ear, strange thoughts of luck and resemblance swimming through his mind.

They left Aya’s salon after giving her a business card with contact information for the Speedwagon Foundation, and they went on to their next destination.

Like Cinderella, the next Stand and its user were easy enough to find, with the assistance of a map and a bit of asking around, due to the fact that one of Holy’s Polaroids was an image of a building carrying the name Trattoria Trussardi.   

When they entered the restaurant, a little bell sounded, and a very large Westerner emerged from the kitchen.  “ Benvenuto benvenuto!   Welcome to my humble restaurant.  What can I get for you?”

“Ah!  Is that Italian?” said Holy.

(Knowing full-well what to expect, given her Polaroids.)

Sì, signora! ” the man replied.  “I am originally from Naples.”

“Is that so!” said Holy.  “Giorno here used to live there, actually.”

“Ah, yeah…”

(Not the happiest of memories, but something that needed to be confronted, from time to time.  Usually whenever he and Dio visited Diavolo and his family, which happened pretty much yearly.)

Holy nudged Giorno.  “Would you like to do the honors?”

“Honors…?  Oh!” With an awkward smile, Giorno brought out Gold Experience.  “Sir, are you able to see anything behind me?”

The Italian gasped in delight.  “Oh, how marvelous! What a beautiful creature that is.”

“If you can see it, it means you have one of your own,” Giorno continued.  “Don’t you?”

“Oh, indeed, indeed.”  A moment later, a small swarm of strange, onion-shaped creatures appeared around the man.  “These little fellows help me with my cooking.”

“How so, how so?” said Holy.  “That sounds fascinating.”

“Well,” the man replied, “why don’t I show you?”

The chef - who called himself Tonio - proceeded to diagnose both Giorno and Holy with remarkable precision.

“You are both considerably healthy,” he began, “but, Holy-san, you must surely be suffering from some ill effects of menopause, given your age, and I can certainly help with that.”

Holy turned bright red.  “Oh, well…”

“As for you, Giorno-kun…” he continued.  “There is some scar tissue on your shoulder from an old injury that I can take care of.”

(Giorno had fallen down the stairs when he was five.)

(“Fallen.”)

“And everyone can benefit from healthier skin!  So I shall throw that in as well.” He clapped his hands.  “All right! I shall go get the meal started. Please, have a seat.  I will not take long.”

Simultaneously excited and flustered, Holy and Giorno sat down and waited.

Tonio reappeared some time later with two plates in his hand, which he set down in front of them.  “For you, Holy-san, bucatini, with a red sauce made from heirloom tomatoes. And for you, Giorno, beef shoulder ragu and gnocchi.  Since I am cooking for a woman and child, I only used mild spices. Please, enjoy. I’ll be getting the dessert prepared.”

Holy and Giorno exchanged pensive glances but, eventually, they dug in.

To say that the food was delicious would have been an insult to the word “delicious.”  

In addition, the Stand-enhanced food filled them with warmth as it healed their injuries, gently and without the usual grotesqueries Tonio’s food brought about.  He was cooking for a woman and a child, after all.

Dessert was a delicate panna cotta that left their skin moisturized and soft, and not a speck of the meal was left after Giorno and Holy had finished eating.

“Please, I require no payment,” Tonio said, when Holy reached for her wallet.  “Meeting you both and being able to serve you is enough.”

As usual, they left him with a business card for the Speedwagon Foundation, and continued on toward the third and final Stand from Holy’s Polaroids.

However, they ended up somewhat distracted along the way.

To make sure they were on the right path, Holy used Raspberry Beret to send out a small host of feelers to “connect” to the target, but she felt a “snag” of sorts at a bus stop on the way.  Something related, something in need of investigating. Call it a mother’s intuition.

Well, a little detour wouldn’t hurt.

Following the “snagged” vine, Holy drove to the bus stop and pulled over on the side of the road once she was within a proper distance.

“Is this where the third Stand is?” Giorno asked.

Holy didn’t answer, parting the long grass on the side of the road as she followed the vine.

And then… it just stopped, leading to nothing and nowhere.

“Holy?” said Giorno.

In the grass, there was a strange indentation.  Holy reached into it, and before she could touch the ground, her hand was intercepted by something warm and soft.

“Oh!”  Holy’s hands wandered over the invisible shape a little further, before it moved and let out a cry very much resembling…  “My goodness…! I’ve never come across and Stand user so young!”

“A Stand user…?” said Giorno.

Carefully, Holy bundled the little creature in her arms. “I do think so.  How else do you explain an invisible baby?”

For the sake of urgency, they returned to the hotel and saw to the matter of getting the little thing clothed and diapered.  The third Stand from the Polaroids could wait.

(But Holy was not going to leave Morioh before she found it.)

Holy was slightly distressed to discover that, no matter how hard she concentrated, Raspberry Beret could not find anyone with a “parental” connection to the baby.  No mother, no father.

“Poor thing must be an orphan,” Holy concluded.  “Well, I’m sure we’ll find some way to take care of her…”

“Are you going to take her in, Holy?” Giorno asked.  He was holding her, and the little disembodied pile of clothes was burbling in his arms.

“Hmm… We’ll have to see what your father says, but I think I will,” Holy replied.  “I’m sure he won’t mind. Especially since that little one already has quite a strong connection to you and me, it seems.”

(Connections which Holy may or may not have strengthened, once she discovered the fact that the child didn’t have a mother any more.)

(Giorno was still quite young, but… well, Jolyne was an entire country away, and Holy was so very fond of babies.)

The next day, with the yet-unnamed invisible baby masked with makeup and slung in a carrier over Giorno’s chest, she and Giorno went out to find the third Stand and its user.

Raspberry Beret and the Polaroids led them to the gates of a school.  “You think it’s a teenager?” said Giorno. “Maybe someone my age?” he added, eagerly.

“We’ll have to see!  We should probably wait until classes let out,” Holy replied.  “Seems it’s a bit too early in the day…”

They preoccupied themselves with lunch and window-shopping, and returned to the school in time for the final bell.  

Then…

“Ah!  There he is!”

Before Giorno could really wonder why Holy immediately knew whom she was looking for, she rushed forward.

The young man in question was very tall, and he had the most impressive pompadour Giorno had ever seen.  Something about his face, as well, seemed so strangely familiar…

“Yeah?  What can I do for you, lady?”

Holy was beaming as she summoned Raspberry Beret.  “This creature behind me. You can see her, can’t you?”

The boy broke into a wide, almost goofy, smile.  “Whoa! And I thought I was the only one! That is so seriously cool!”

“Would you mind coming with me so we can talk further?” Holy continued.

“Oh, yeah, sure!  That seems fine.”

“I’m Holy, by the way,” she said.  “Kujo Holy. And this is Giorno Brando.”

“Ah, nice to meet you!  I’m Higashikata Josuke,” said the boy.

“A fine name,” Holy replied.

Once they were a fair distance away from the school, Josuke brought out his stand, a figure of pink and silver that was both glorious and bizarre to behold.  “He’s called Crazy Diamond,” Josuke explained. “He can fix stuff.”

“Sounds a bit like my Raspberry Beret!  She connects things.”

“And then there’s that baby, huh?  Even babies can have these Stand things, huh?” Josuke continued.  

“Apparently so!” said Holy.

“And what does yours do, bud?” Josuke asked Giorno.

“Gold Experience can turn… non-living things into living things, I guess!  And the other way around,” Giorno replied. “And I think he has the capacity to heal people, but I’m not quite sure how yet…”

“Ah!  So we got similar powers!  That’s awesome,” said Josuke.  “I think you and me are gonna get along just fine.”

(Giorno, despite everything, was still a kid that typically kept to himself, at school.  Call it habit, or reflex, or memory. He didn’t really have any friends.)

(Outside of his home, he really was a child of caution and few words.)

(Oh, how Holy wished the outside world could see the bright, happy young man that only came alive when he was home with her and Dio.)

“Josuke-kun, are your parents aware of Crazy Diamond?” Holy continued.

“Well… my mom can’t see him, so it’s kind of tough to explain…” Josuke said.  “I mean, she knows I have a talent for healing people, but not why .”

“Is it just your mom?”

“Yeah, and my grandpa,” Josuke replied.

“Well, would you mind terribly if you introduced us to them?” Holy said.  “I think if we explain who we are and what we do on behalf of the Speedwagon Foundation for Stand users like you… well, it might get some things cleared up!”

“Sure!  I’m sure my mom would love meeting you two,” said Josuke.

(Holy’s smile was just so slightly uncertain.)

Josuke led them to his home, where he, indeed, introduced them to his mother Tomoko.  “These people got special powers, sorta like mine! Turns out, there’s a whole bunch of us.”

“Wow, seriously?  What a world we live in,” Tomoko remarked.

“Given Josuke’s age, I felt it was only right that you also be told about Stands and such,” said Holy.  “It can be a lot for a young person to manage.”

“I mean, I was doin’ pretty all right so far…” Josuke said, scratching the back of his head.

“Well… there was one other thing that I wanted to bring up to you, Josuke-kun,” said Holy.

“Yeah, what is it?”

Holy closed her eyes for a moment, thinking, recalling.

(Steeling herself.)

“When you were about… four years old, you came down with a sudden illness, did you not?” she said.  “That lasted for a few months.”

“Yeah, how did you know?” said Josuke.  “Your Stand tell you that?”

“Sort of…  You see, I was also very sick, around that time,” Holy said.  “And I know now that you became ill because I became ill. Due to our ‘connection’ to each other.”

“Really, huh…”

“And… You have a birthmark on your shoulder.  Shaped like a star. Don’t you?”

“What the… how did you know that? ” said Josuke.  His hand was clasped on his neck.

“Well… Because, Josuke…” Holy lifted her hair away from her shoulder, exposing her own birthmark.  “I have one of my own.”

“The hell…!”

“Josuke-kun,” Holy continued, “I believe that I’m your half-sister.”

“What?!”

Half- sister?  What do you mean by that?” said Tomoko.  “I mean… you’re older than me, so how can...”

“Does the name Joseph Joestar mean anything to you, Tomoko-san?” Holy said, her voice soft and calm.

A wave of sudden and unmistakable melancholy immediately washed over Tomoko’s face.  “Joseph…?”

“Yes.  He’s my father,” said Holy.

“Oh… Oh, God …”  Tomoko covered her face in her hands.  “God, I’m so sorry, I had no idea… I mean, he didn’t tell me he had a family or anything, but I should have known better, and…”

Holy, to the surprise of everyone else present, put her hand, gently, on Tomoko’s shoulder.  “Please don’t blame yourself,” Holy said. “The only person responsible for my father’s actions is my father.  But… I want to apologize for any sort of unnecessary suffering you and Josuke went through.  I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been, raising your son alone.”

“Oh, well, I had my father to help, but…”  Tomoko’s face was beginning to grow blotchy.  “You really don’t blame me?”

“No, not at all,” said Holy.  

Josuke, meanwhile, was staring at the floor with a half-angry stare.  “Hey, Holy-san… Your Stand, or whatever it is… that’s really the reason I got sick when I was little?” he finally said.  

“Yes, I realize that now, after the fact,” Holy replied.  “Raspberry Beret was very wild, when she first came to me.  Making lots of connections with little regard to the consequences.  She drew a Stand to my own son - why she did that, I haven’t the slightest idea - and she passed on part of my illness to you, as well.  I had no control over it, but I still feel responsible.”

“Okay, but… how do you know that for sure?” said Josuke.

“The… feel of the connection between us is pretty unique.  It was something I couldn’t ignore, when I was sick,” said Holy.  “When I was searching Morioh with my Stand for the Speedwagon Foundation, I felt it again, and wanted to look into it further.  And that’s how I found you.”

“Ah…  I guess I understand?  Even though I don’t… This is all just real sudden, y’know?” said Josuke.

“Yes, I know,” said Holy.  “I’m glad I found you, though, Josuke-kun, Tomoko-san.  So you at least have some power over this… situation we’re in.”

“Are you… does Joseph know?  That you know?” said Tomoko.

“He’s never mentioned anything,” Holy replied.  “As far as I know, I’m the only one aware. I’ll absolutely be talking to him about this, but I won’t tell anyone else if he doesn’t.  And… if he agrees to it, Josuke… would you like to meet him?”

“Hell no.”

A strange, chilly shock filled the room.

“You don’t… want to meet him?” said Holy.

“No way,” said Josuke.  He was still staring at the floor.  “I’ve gone through life without him just fine, for now.  I mean… if he wants to meet me, fine, sure, but I’m not gonna go out of my way to do the same.”

“I see…” said Holy.

Josuke scrambled to remove the anger from his face, hearing the hollow tone of Holy’s words.  “I mean, nothing against you, Holy-san! Not at all! Don’t mean to insult you or nothing, it’s just…”

“No, no, I understand.  It’s a complicated thing,” Holy said, waving her hand.  “Would you perhaps like to meet my son at some point, though?  He’s also a Stand user. I wouldn’t tell him who you are, of course, but-”

“Aw, yeah, now that sounds nice!” said Josuke.  “Hell, I’d love to meet anyone else who has one of these Stand-things.”

“There are certainly a lot of us,” said Holy.

“Like - hey, you, Gio-Gio, was it?”

“Oh, me?”  Giorno blinked a few times.  “It’s… Giorno, actually.”

“Yeah, yeah.  So, when did you get your Stand?  I’ve had Crazy Diamond for pretty much as long as I can remember.”

“Well… I mean…”

The boys continued on in a conversation of rowdy outbursts and meek enthusiasm, while Tomoko tugged on Holy’s sleeve and motioned for her to move into another room.

“Your father, Joseph…” Tomoko finally said, a heavy varnish of shame on her face.  “How is he? Is he well?”

“He is,” Holy said, putting a comforting hand on Tomoko’s shoulder.  “He’s had to start using a cane, lately, and he’s got the most terrible habit of pretending that his mind is going so he can ignore my mother, but that’s business as usual for him.  Always been a mischief-maker.”

A ghost of a laugh tried to escape Tomoko’s throat, but her shoulders were rising.  “Ah, your mother…”

“Don’t worry, Tomoko-san,” Holy said.  “If my father ends up telling my mother about you and Josuke-kun, I’ll do my best to make sure any sort of fallout stays well away from you.  All right? I’d truly like for us to be friends.”

At this, Tomoko actually laughed.  “What are you, some sort of saint? You really mean it?”

“Oh, hardly,” said Holy.  “I just like seeing… families come together, where they can.”

 


 

Holy and Giorno left the Higashikata home with contact information and promises to come visit again, regardless of Joseph’s actions.  Giorno had an awkward warmth about him for a good long while afterward, the result of Josuke’s eager declaration that they should be senpai and kohai from then on.  

(“Since we got similar Stands, man!  We oughtta stick together!” Josuke had explained.)

(Giorno was a bit too rattled to refuse, but was ultimately gladdened by the prospect.)

However, as evening fell and Giorno and Holy ate room service at the hotel, a pensive mood fell over Giorno, a mood that deepened when he volunteered to feed the invisible baby they’d taken in.

The television was on, with some sort of variety show providing ambient laughter to an otherwise silent evening.  Holy waited for a commercial, and turned the volume down before speaking. “Giorno-kun? Is everything all right?”

There was nothing but the muted noise of the commercials and the gentle suckling of the baby, for a while.

“Giorno-kun?”

“...your dad, Joseph-san…  I mean, he’s a good guy, but… why would he abandon Josuke-san like that?” Giorno finally said.  His eyes were lowered and hardened.

“Well… that really depends on the situation, Giorno-kun,” said Holy.  “There’s a very good chance that my father didn’t even know Josuke-kun existed.  Sometimes… things that seem cruel or evil are just due to ignorance.”

“Well, yeah, but…”  

(Holy had never seen Giorno look so troubled before.)

(Connections were strengthening, seeds were taking root.)

“...it just doesn’t seem right.  If he’d… at least stayed in touch with Tomoko-san, he could have helped her take care of Josuke, at least a little…”

Holy’s sigh in return was full of sympathy.  “That would have been nice,” she said. “What’s passed is passed, though.  It’s not good for your heart to dwell on things like that.”

Giorno’s expression remained pinched, almost angry, until the television blared with the bright colors and staccato of a news bulletin.

“We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this urgent news update,” shout-spoke the anchor, with his oiled hair and cookie-cutter suit.  “A suspect in the Morioh kidnapping epidemic has been apprehended! I repeat, a suspect in the Morioh kidnapping epidemic has been apprehended”

“Oh, goodness… that must be related to the Stand user your father went out in search of…” said Holy.  She turned the volume up.

“The suspect, arrested this evening, is Kira Yoshikage, aged 33.  Kira is suspected as the culprit behind at least five kidnappings within the last month.  He turned himself in voluntarily after presenting to the hospital with heavy wounds, thought to be caused by his last would-be victim.  He is set to appear in court once he is recovered.”

“Heavy wounds… I do hope your father is okay,” said Holy, as the news anchor continued with details on Kira’s background.  “I would imagine that those wounds were caused by him, rather than any sort of victim.”

“Yeah…”  Giorno returned to feeding the baby, the gloomy air about him thicker than ever.

Holy let him have his space for the rest of the evening.

 


 

Holy and Giorno were waiting at home for Dio when he returned from Morioh, as he’d stuck around a few days longer to ensure that Kira was properly detained and wouldn’t be causing any more trouble.

Much as he wanted to tell the story of how he’d managed such a thing, another matter preoccupied him as soon as he’d stepped foot in the door.

“And what is this little creature?” he said, gesturing to the sunglasses-clad bundle in Holy’s arms.

“A very, very tiny Stand user that I’m in the process of adopting,” said Holy.  “I’ve named her Lisa.”

Dio’s eyebrows rose.  “After your grandmother, I presume?”

“Yes!  How did you guess?”

Dio smirked. “The glasses are a bit of a giveaway.”

Giorno, attracted by the noise in the kitchen, rounded the corner.  “Oh, hey, Dad! Welcome home.”

“Thank you,” Dio said.  “Did you miss me?”

“Just a bit,” said Giorno.

“So, Dio, why don’t you tell us how your time in Morioh was?” Holy continued.

“Well, it was… certainly eventful,” said Dio.

“Do tell!” said Holy.

So he told.

(Withholding some of the gorier details, of course.)

Finding Kira was relatively easy, but as soon as Dio confronted him, things got violent.  Dio had gone out of his way to approach Kira in a relatively isolated area, after tailing him for the better part of a day, so it was to be expected that he might react badly to The World appearing behind Dio.

Kira rather quickly resorted to his bomb-abilities - which Dio could avoid handily with stopped time - and once that proved ineffective, he resorted to the ability of his left hand: Sheer Heart Attack.

Dio, quick-witted as ever, managed to evade the little devil by taking shelter indoors and removing the Red Stone of Aja, which significantly lowered his body temperature and kept the sub-Stand from “seeing” him.  

Convinced that Sheer Heart Attack had dispatched Dio, since it returned to Kira after some time, the serial killer continued on his way home, perturbed by the recent encounter.

Unfortunately for Kira, Dio knew where he lived.  And, since Kira had so helpfully announced during their battle, he also knew that Kira’s hands were the source of his Stand’s power.

So, naturally, Dio opted for a technique that would render Kira harmless while allowing him to stay alive and face justice: he chopped Kira’s arms off at the elbow.

Unable to dispatch Sheer Heart Attack, nor to use his thumb to activate his various bombs, Kira was as helpless as a kitten, and wailed in horror and pain as soon as he’d realized what had happened.

(His hands… that most beautiful and sublime part of the body… stolen from him…!)

(The pain of his torn flesh was nothing compared to the spiritual anguish he now felt.)

Dio, of course, made sure that he didn’t bleed out, and dropped him off at the local hospital - a bit literally, really, tossing Kira out of his car and driving away.  There, Kira was treated and, not long after, arrested. Kira still had a woman’s disembodied hand in his jacket pocket, of course. That was highly suspect.

(The hand would later be DNA tested and traced to his final victim, a vital piece of evidence in the prosecution to come, given that Kira left nothing of his victims behind.)

“And that, as they say, is that,” Dio concluded.

“...that is… quite the story!” said Holy.  She was just a little pale with shock.

“Yes, and a bit more violent than I would have liked…” Dio replied.  He crossed his arms. “Aren’t you glad you didn’t come along with me, Giorno?  I told you it would have been far too dangerous for you.”

Giorno shrugged.  “Sure I guess…”

(Yeah, it sounded dangerous, but it would have been cool as hell to witness…)

 


 

Joseph was surprisingly nonchalant when Holy confronted him about Tomoko and Josuke over the phone.

“Ah, yes… I was thinking of adding them to my will…” was his first response.

(Care and neglect, mixing like oil and vinegar into something somewhat palatable.)

“So you’ll be telling Mum about this, then?” Holy said.

“Eh… can’t be helped, I suppose,” Joseph replied.

A rare flame of anger warmed Holy’s ears.  “Is that right, Daddy?”

“Mm.”

As expected, Suzy Q was not at all pleased to hear about Joseph’s long-ignored infidelity, but her anger, blessedly, did not extend to Tomoko.

(Holy may or may not have severed the emotional connection that would have caused her anger to flare more severely.)

But as swiftly than a summer breeze, the matter subsided, and life, as it was wont to do, went on and on.

And little families grew and grew.

Josuke was eager indeed to keep in touch with Holy and Giorno and little Lisa, inviting them to visit and being invited over in equal amounts.  He was especially enthusiastic and relentless when it came to befriending Giorno, roping him into gatherings with his friends Okuyasu and Koichi on the weekends, among other things.

In time, the friendship and its blessing upon Giorno’s life began to bear fruit.  He started showing signs of confidence, pushing past his discomfort with attention and coming to genuinely enjoy being surrounded by such boisterous activity, and laughing more freely than he ever had before.

It was the summer of 1999, and Giorno Brando was finally beginning to bloom.