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Shoot Me Again, I Ain't Dead Yet

Chapter Text

Pesci sat in the passenger seat of his older brother’s car nervously, his hands fidgety with anxiety. Prosciutto took notice. 

“Pesci, I promise there’s no reason to be nervous. You’ll do fine.”

Pesci couldn’t help but worry though. He had never even thought of joining a gang like this before. But here he was, joining a new section of Passione, one totally unfamiliar to him, save what his brother had told him. This was an entirely new experience. What are hitman bosses like? All he could think of was the ones in movies who would kill people for disrespecting them. What if he made a wrong step and ended up with a powerful and dangerous enemy? 

Prosciutto pulled up next to the curb and parked the car. They were meeting the boss of the assassination squad at a nice restaurant, for privacy reasons. Prosciutto lead the way and Pesci followed. He took a step into the restaurant and felt his body tense up. He hardly felt ready to meet this man. Hell, he hadn’t ever killed anyone, and he was joining the assassination squad. 

He followed his brother into a private room in the back of the restaurant. There a man with white hair and strange eyes was sitting. He captured Pesci’s attention immediately. He looked out of place but still threatening, or at least imposing. But he was far from what Pesci expected. For one he looked young, not at all like the mob boss Pesci had in his head. Another thing that struck Pesci was that he was wearing what could be considered casual clothes. He was wearing a striped shirt tucked into his jeans, not the expected suit. 

Prosciutto greeted the man. Risotto, he called him. Risotto stuck out his hand to Pesci. Pesci, without a second thought, took it. His hands were incredibly sweaty. He realized this as soon as he took Risotto’s hand, and felt terrible. What if this makes a bad impression? 

However, Risotto didn’t seem to notice Pesci was so nervous, or at least he was good at hiding his disgust. He signalled for Pesci and Prosciutto to take a seat in the two empty seats at the table. 

Pesci sat stiffly. Oh god, I’ve upset him , he thought. Risotto looked at Pesci with a cold glare. 

“My name is Risotto Nero,” he said, “I understand you want to join La Squadra di Esecuzione. Your brother has said many good things about you.”

His voice was deep and cold. It sent a shiver down Pesci’s spine. 

“Y-yes,” he stuttered, “I’ve got a stand I feel like could be helpful to the assassination team…”

Risotto stared at him. Pesci felt his heart race. 

“I would like to see your stand in action, if possible, Pesci.”

Pesci gulped. 

“Y-yes, sir.” 

Risotto stiffened up at being called ‘sir’. This confused Pesci, and he had thought that he’d done something wrong to make Risotto tense. 

Prosciutto noticed that Pesci was extremely tense, and patted his back. 

“Pesci’s got a pretty powerful stand, I bet he could even beat me in a fight if he was determined enough,” he said.

“Yes, you’ve told me,” Risotto said, “but I want to see it for myself. I have an idea.” 

Risotto got up, and Pesci and Prosciutto followed. 

“No, Prosciutto, I need you to stay here. We’ll be back soon,” Risotto said.

Prosciutto sat back down, looking confused. 

Risotto gestured for Pesci to follow him, and Pesci obeyed, but not without hesitation. He was still so nervous, and being without his brother now didn’t help his situation. But nonetheless, he followed the boss of the assassination squad. 

Pesci followed Risotto out the restaurant, down a back alley, and to the street, where they walked a few blocks to what looked like a dilapidated and abandoned building. Risotto pulled out a key, and opened the old rusty door to the basement of the building. He gestured for Pesci to go inside, which he did. 

Inside was what looked like a training room. There were several punching bags and dummies along the wall. Marks and holes riddled the drywall, as if several fights had taken place here. Risotto pulled a dummy off from against the wall and put it about 10 feet in front of Pesci. 

“Let’s see you in action,” he said. 

Ok, Pesci thought , all I have to do is use my stand on a dummy, it’s not a real person.

Pesci pulled out his stand, Beach Boy, the fishing rod he knew well since he joined Passione. He threw the line back and swung it forward at the dummy, hooking it right in the false head. He then pulled back, ripping the head off the dummy, exposing the filling inside. Risotto seemed impressed, but Pesci was not done. 

Pesci swung out his line again, and extended it to wrap around the dummy’s torso. He then pulled, squeezing the dummy. The dummy then tore right down the middle, where the line suffocated it. 

The dummy sat on the floor in shreds, fluff everywhere. Risotto seemed impressed with his speed and precision. 

“Prosciutto wasn’t lying when he said you had the potential to be a great assassin. I think you can be a help to us, and believe me, we need it. I doubt the Boss will be very happy with me adding another to the team, however, but to tell the truth, I don’t really care.”

Pesci smiled and sighed in relief. Risotto shook Pesci’s hand again to welcome him to the team, and this time, Pesci’s hand was not sweaty. 

They headed back to the restaurant where Prosciutto had waited for them, and they completed their meal. Risotto asked some more questions of Pesci, like what work he was doing before joining the assassination team, and how long he’d had his stand. Pesci was still scared of Risotto, but as he talked to him, he became less so. 

It had been a while since Pesci had joined Passione, but now he was moving to a new, more powerful, section of it, and he had no idea what to expect. He learned that along with his brother and Risotto, the hitman team contained a total of 6 other members. All of which Pesci was going to meet at the next team meeting in a couple of days. Seeing as Risotto was different than initially imagined, Pesci couldn’t help but wonder what the rest of the team was like. Were they just as scary as Risotto? Probably, seeing as it was a team that killed people for money. 

Pesci could hardly wait in anticipation to meet the rest of the squad. Now that he had gotten in, he felt more comfortable in his abilities, but he was still nervous to meet these people. When the day of the meeting came, Pesci again traveled with his brother to the site. The site this time was not a restaurant or a training room, but someone’s apartment. The apartment building was upscale and spacious. Prosciutto led Pesci down the halls and up the stairs. He led him to a door marked 169.  He knocked on the door and Pesci heard a shuffle inside. A tall, lanky man with long hair and an eye patch opened the door. Pesci wondered if the eye patch was from a battle injury. He was wearing a pink sweater with the sleeves rolled up and jeans, which was again, not at all what Pesci expected. He smiled at them and exclaimed, “Prosciuttooooooo!!!” and then hugged Pesci’s elder sibling. Prosciutto looked near disgusted at this gesture, but patted the mans back anyway for politeness’ sake. 

“And who’s this that you have with you?” the man said enthusiastically.

“Melone, this is my brother, Pesci. He just joined the team.” 

“Oh!! So YOU’RE the newbie!” he said. 

Pesci instinctively held out his hand, but Melone went for a hug instead. 

“Welcome to the team Pesci!” he said.

He welcomed the two in, and inside the apartment was just as nice as the building itself. It was spacious and well kept. Greeting them inside were 2 other members of the team. One of which looked more like a mafia boss to Pesci, with his black hair and dress shirt.  The other wore a tropical shirt, and was sitting next to the first. They stood up at seeing Pesci to greet him. 

“Pesci, this is Sorbet and Gelato,” Prosciutto said, “They’re our information specialists.”

“We usually meet here at their apartment because it’s the nicest,” Melone laughed. 

Sorbet and Gelato greeted Pesci and invited him to make himself at home. He took a seat and the rest followed, and began to chat. 

“What pushed you to join the assassination team , Pesci?” Melone asked. 

“Well,” Pesci paused, “I guess I wanted more than what my current position had, and I’d rather stick with my family…”

Melone looked at him intrigued. 

“By the way, if you don’t mind me asking…” Pesci asked, “What’s the eyepatch for? Did you get injured from a battle or something?” 

Melone blinked, “Oh! no, I just have a lazy eye,” he chuckled and lifted his eyepatch to reveal an eye looking cross eyed while the other looked at Pesci. It surprised Pesci, but not because of the fact that he had eyes that looked 2 different ways, but rather that it wasn’t what Pesci expected. It seemed like nothing in this team aligned with his expectations. 

The other members showed up incrementally shorty after, and Pesci was introduced to the rest of the team. There was Formaggio, who had orange hair and wore a spiked jacket, Ghiaccio, a small and angry looking man with blue curly hair, Illuso, who had long black hair and was wearing a purple shirt that went to his palms. Pesci had already met Risotto, but this time he was wearing a leather jacket and a mesh shirt. It was a very eclectic mix of people, and it made it hard to believe they are all in the same group, let alone believe these people killed people for money. They all seemed friendly and laughed among each other. Did Pesci join the right team? Was this really the team that assassinated countless enemies to the gang in cold blood? 

It only became clear to Pesci that this WAS in fact the assassination team when Risotto mentioned why he called them all together. 

“So, as most of you know, the Boss doesn’t seem to care about his assassination team. He severely underpays us, even though we are one of the most important squads in Passione. I was hoping to gain more influence and money by negotiation, but that doesn’t seem to be an option. And now that I’ve added another member, he’s probably going to be less likely to accept our terms if we ask again. Does anyone have any ideas on how to… convince him?” 

There was a pause. Everyone looked around for another to speak. Finally Gelato spoke up. 

“What does the Boss fear most? Someone finding out his identity. If we were to, say, discover it, then we could use it as a bargaining chip .” 

“That’s too dangerous,” Risotto snapped, “I couldn’t ask you to do that. You’d be killed.”

“Aww, nonsense,” Gelato said, “Me and Sorbet are the best of the best at our work. There has to be some sort of clue to the Boss’s identity. Let us find it.” 

Risotto frowned. 

“I agree with Gelato,” Sorbet said, “We can find it.” 

Risotto sighed, “I’ll ask again for a peaceful solution, then if I don’t get it, then you can look,” he said, “I only say this because we’re out of options. The Boss is stubborn and I know he won’t negotiate. We may have no choice if we want to be fairly compensated.” 

 

They had agreed on those terms. 

After that meeting, Pesci had sat in on a few others and had gotten to know most of the team. He liked when the meetings were at Formaggio’s place, because he liked to pet his cat. Risotto still scared him, but Prosciutto promised that he wasn’t usually so serious, and that he would actually smile on occasion. All the others were friendly to Pesci, especially Gelato and Sorbet. Even though Risotto was the boss, the two seemed to be like the team’s parents. They would take the initiative to make sure everyone was safe, and also that everyone was doing their job. Pesci slowly became good friends with all the members of the squad, and it was nice to be with his older brother again. 

Even though they were part of the assassination squad, they seemed more like a family, and Pesci quickly became the baby brother of the family. 

He was glad he had joined the hitman team, as odd as that is to say. Pesci felt like he had found a home, even though it was a strange one with members who killed people. He just hoped to have his first mission soon, and that nothing would go wrong...

Chapter Text

Risotto had tried to get the Boss to negotiate again, but to no avail. So, as agreed upon, Gelato and Sorbet were dispatched to find any info they could about the boss. They were totally enveloped in their work, and were not seen for about a week. Risotto had started to get worried. He had stated that they usually don’t take this long to find info, thanks to their stands. 

Pesci still didn’t know what every member’s stand ability was. He knew his brother’s, and he knew Sorbet and Gelato had utility stands that aided in finding information, but since he hadn’t seen any of the others in action, he didn’t know what their abilities were.

Risotto had called another meeting again, this time at a high class restaurant. He wanted to discuss where Gelato and Sorbet were, and if someone should go after them as well as to take care of an assassination. There was an important political figure eating at that restaurant that night, and the Boss wanted him dead. This was Pesci’s chance to see one of the other members in action, and see what kind of terrifying ability they had. 

The 7 met at the restaurant and had a table to themselves. Reservations had already been made, probably by the Boss. 

“Formaggio, can you take care of the assassination so we can discuss what to do about Sorbet and Gelato?” Risotto asked.

Formaggio nodded, “You got it,” and he got up and headed outside a side door. 

Pesci peered out intently looking for Formaggio, to see what he was doing out there. He couldn’t see him from the angle he was at.

“Stop looking, Pesci, you’ll make us looks suspicious,” Prosciutto said.

Pesci stopped, and looked back at his drink. Milk. Prosciutto never really approved of Pesci drinking milk as an adult, as he thought it made Pesci look immature. Pesci didn’t care much though. He liked the taste. 

Pesci looked up again and saw that Prosciutto was coming back from the direction of the bathroom. He was fast. Was he already done? No, Pesci could see that the politician was still alive and seated at his table.

“Taken care of,” Formaggio said as he sat back down at the table.

“Great, now that that’s out of the way, I’m worried about Sorbet and Gelato. They’re not usually this slow.”

“You’ve said that,” Illuso said, “but just give them time, I’m sure they’re just searching very hard, and they just haven’t found anything yet. They’re fine.”

Risotto didn’t look convinced. 

“I agree,” Formaggio said, “They know what they’re doing. Let’s just leave them to it.”

Risotto sat deep in thought. He was nervous, it was obvious. Pesci was too. If Risotto was worried, then he probably had a reason. Pesci hoped that the couple was OK. He liked Sorbet and Gelato the most so far, and if anything happened to them, it would be devastating. 

“Try not to worry so much!” Formaggio spoke again, “Trust them!”

Risotto closed his eyes for a moment, then sighed. 

“You’re right. I’ll give them another few days, but if I don’t hear back soon I’m sending someone to search for them. Let’s go.”

He got up and the others followed. Pesci looked around in confusion. What? They were leaving? Already? Formaggio hadn’t even killed the target yet! Or had he poisoned him and the poison had yet to take effect?

Pesci tentatively followed as the team left the restaurant. He looked back at the restaurant. The target had left some time shortly after the assassination team had started to leave, and was outside in front of the restaurant now. Pesci watched him, hoping to see a glimpse of what Formaggio’s stand was like. To his horror, he did.

Pesci saw the man stop for a moment, keel over, and suddenly a full sized car burst out from inside the man, ripping apart his body in the process. Blood splattered everywhere on the restaurant windows, causing the guests inside to scream with terror. One scream, the wife, was cut short, however. The car, after obliterating the politician, fell on the target’s wife as well, crushing her with the sheer weight. Her blood painting the front of the restaurant along with her husband's.

Pesci’s mouth was agape and he was trembling. What on earth was Formaggio’s stand ability? Pesci had just watched a man have a car destroy him from the inside. What else could Formaggio do? It was a terrifying thought. Pesci did not want to know.

Pesci could not sleep that night. Several things replayed in his mind. The main one being the gruesome scene he saw, but he was also worried about Sorbet and Gelato. He wondered if they had been killed, and if so, was it in a just as horrible way as that politician had been killed? Was this the way the real mafia operated? Pesci remembered that he was in the Assassination Team now. These people did the real dirty work of Passione. It took heartlessness and guts, both of which Pesci did not have. He worried if he could ever fit in, and considering that just seeing ONE murder was hard for him, he didn’t like his chances.

Maybe he could be like Sorbet and Gelato, who don’t actually do the killing, but rather aid the team in other ways…

 

At about 3 in the morning, Risotto got a call from Sorbet.

“We have a lead,” he said,  “But, there’s a problem…”

Chapter Text

Pesci got a call at 3 in the morning. It was Risotto.

“Are you ready for your first mission?” he asked. 

“Wh… what? Right now?”

“Yes, now,” he said with urgency, “I need you to go with Prosciutto and Ghiaccio to help Sorbet and Gelato, they found a lead but as soon as they found it they found they were being stalked. I need you three to help them get rid of the unwanted company.”

Pesci felt that the way he said ‘get rid of’ was far too casual. Like he was asking Pesci to pick something up from the store on his way home, and not kill someone. Pesci remembered that these people have been assassins for years, and seeing as Risotto was the boss, he likely had the most experience. Killing was second nature to him. So it really was like running a mundane errand. 

Pesci obliged. He hurried to the location Risotto had specified. The location was an old house on Sardinia, by the sea, which had probably been out of commission for 10 or so years. He saw his brother leaning up against a wall of the house with Ghiaccio. Prosciutto signaled for Pesci to join them, but quietly. He did. 

“They’re inside,” Prosciutto said, “But they told us to stay out, for now. They were attacked by a stand user, and Sorbet had killed him, or at least he thought he had, but the stand is still activated. They think it’s an automatic tracking stand.”

From the cell phone Prosciutto was holding came a voice which Pesci recognized as Gelato. 

“The thing just attacked the ceiling fan and destroyed it. I think it tracks based on movement. We have been still for a while, but it may track our breathing now that the fan is destroyed,” Pesci could hear he was breathing heavily, “We need you to come in now, but don’t rush in, or it will attack you.” 

“Roger,” Prosciutto said.

Prosciutto signaled for them to go into the window to their left. Ghiaccio opened it and the three snuck in very slowly. As Pesci entered into what looked like a kitchen, he saw Gelato and Sorbet on opposite sides of the room. They were as still as statues, but looked very distressed. Pesci saw a mass in the middle of the tiled floor, with a fan blade sticking out of it. It writhed as the fan blade slowly was absorbed into it. 

The mass didn’t look like any stand Pesci had seen. It looked like a gory mess of entrails rather than a stand. And besides that, it looked tangible, unlike most stands. Perhaps regular people could see this stand as well. 

Suddenly, the room felt very cold, even though there was no wind. Pesci looked around for the source, and saw what he could only guess was Ghiaccio’s stand manifest. What looked like a white bodysuit (with... cat ears?) had suddenly covered Ghiaccio’s entire body. 

“Don’t make any sudden movements, Ghiaccio,” Sorbet said, “Just freeze it slowly…”

The mass jerked in the direction of Sorbet as he spoke. Then paused. It was slowly pulsing back and forth between Sorbet and Gelato, as they were both breathing the hardest, but it seemed like it didn’t know which way to go. 

Ghiaccio touched the ground and the tiles began to frost over, leading in a line to the fleshy blob of a stand. The stand slowed, and then looked as though it too had become frosted over. It had stopped completely.

Ghiaccio’s stand froze things. Pesci could see how that would be useful in killing people. But this case was different. 

“Is it dead?” Gelato asked.

At those words, the thing broke free from its frozen exterior, and lurched towards Gelato. Gelato jumped in fear, which only made the thing head towards him faster.

Pesci wondered what he could do, as his stand relied on quick movements to attack effectively.

Perhaps… 

Pesci summoned his stand. And unreeled the line towards the enemy stand. 

“Stay still,” he said, “I’m going to lure it away.”

“Lure it where?!” Ghiaccio said, “We need to kill it!” 

“I can be a distraction, then. Use your stand again.”

Pesci slowly pulled the line of his stand back into the reel, luring the stand away from Gelato. Ghiaccio leaned down again and sent a line of frost across the floor in the direction of the stand. It slowed and froze the stand again, but the stand broke out again, and followed the fishing line. 

“Dammit!” Ghiaccio cursed.

“The thing is invincible! We got to think of something else,” Prosciutto said, “My stand won’t work on other stands…”

Pesci though for a moment. He was right, they needed to think of something else. Going slow and trying to freeze it wasn’t working. Pesci was running out of line, too. 

If it was invincible, what would stop it? What would damage it? Would ANYTHING damage it? 

“Sub zero temperatures won’t stop it,” Ghiaccio said, “We need to keep it busy, or find another way to keep it contained, because I don’t think anything we have will stop it.”

“It needs a distraction,” Sorbet said, “Distract it, with something faster than itself, and we can leave with our evidence.” 

“Is anything faster than it? It just attacks the fastest thing around it with the same speed,” Gelato replied. 

“You killed the user right?” Prosciutto asked, “Are you sure he’s really dead?”

“His head and body are in separate rooms...” 

Pesci flinched at that, and tugged the line a bit too hard. The disgusting mass jerked toward the line and dangerously close to Pesci’s foot.

Pesci looked around, for something to distract it from him. He spotted a small chandelier in the room connected to the kitchen. However, Sorbet was in front of the door way. 

Pesci extended his line again, quickly this time, towards the room, past Sorbet, who dodged out of the way, and hooked the line into the chandelier. He pulled his rod, and released his hook from the chandelier, causing it to swing, and causing the stand to take an interest in, and devour, the chandelier. 

“We can’t defeat it, so let’s escape now,” Pesci said, “It’s distracted, at least for a short while.”

“Good thinking,” Prosciutto said, “Let’s get out of here.”

Not long after Sorbet and Gelato had snuck over to the window, the thing had finished its meal of glass and metal, and began to track the 5 of them again. 

Pesci frantically looked for anything to distract it again, but no other chandeliers or other things that could move on their own were in sight.

What should he do? What should he do? He was out of ideas. 

Sorbet pulled out a knife, and threw it at a wall. The mass followed the knife with incredible speed, matching that of the knife.

“Pesci, use your line to lure it around the room while we leave, then lure it outside,” Sorbet ordered.

Pesci nodded, and strung his line all across the room while the creature engulfed the knife Sorbet had thrown. 

He reeled the line back in again, forcing the stand to follow the line around the room, and go with all the twists and turns Pesci had laid out. Once the rest were outside, Pesci backed up to a door on the side of the house. He unlocked it, and beckoned the stand outside into the cool night air. 

“The waves,” Sorbet said, “They’re somewhat of a perpetual motion machine. Lure it into the waves, Pesci.” 

Pesci was surprised at Sorbet’s cleverness. He’d wished he had thought to lure it into the ocean. 

He lurched his line towards the sea and the stand followed, matching the speed. Pesci made sure not to go faster than his teammates were walking, so that the stand didn’t change its mind on what to track. 

Once to the ocean, the stand followed the waves as predicted, and made attempts to eat them. Pesci pulled his line back slowly, and met up with the rest of his team, all while watching the sea to make sure that thing was still captivated by the waves. 

Once to relative safety, Prosciutto asked the question that was on all of their minds.

“So, what did you find?”

“Well…” Gelato said, “the Boss has a daughter. She’s 15, and is under the protection of a capo known as Polpo.”

Polpo… Pesci knew him. He was the capo through which he joined Passione, and from which he got his stand. 

“Amazing news, but do you have any leads on where Polpo is?” Ghiaccio asked.

“I know where he is,” Pesci said.

The team looked at him. They looked excited.

“Well that was easy,” Ghiaccio huffed. 

Gelato smiled, “Fantastic! Show us the way, Pesci!”

Chapter Text

Pesci’s first mission had gone relatively well. He hadn’t had to kill anyone, or even harm anyone. He was dreading the day that would inevitably come, however. The day that he would have to kill someone. He felt weak. His brother was an expert assassin, and Pesci? He was a coward by Passione’s standards. Most people in Passione, even outside of La Squadra di Esecuzione, were not afraid to kill. But Pesci was, and he was afraid that fear would be something he would never truly get over. He felt that if he couldn’t get over that fear, then he would never really fit in with his new team. He realized now that there was no pacifist option. There never was one. As soon as he joined Passione he signed over his fate to a life of crime and mercilessness. 

What could he do? There was no escaping his chosen fate now. One day he would have to kill, and when that day came, would he be able to?

 

Pesci had given Sorbet and Gelato the address of where Polpo was stationed; a prison in Naples. Sorbet and Gelato had immediately begun investigation on how to get to the Boss’s daughter through Polpo. In the next meeting of the assassination team, they discussed blackmail, threatening, and even cooperation as methods to get any information from Polpo. 

“Cooperation is a no go,” said Melone, “Obviously he’s loyal to the Boss, because he’s protecting his daughter for fuck’s sake.”

“We can’t kill him either,” expressed Illuso, “and I bet he knows that, too. If we threaten him, he won’t give in, because he will know we need him alive to get to the Boss’s daughter. So threatening him won’t work either.”

“Then blackmail sounds like our only option,” stated Gelato.

“Pesci, what do you know about Polpo? Anything helps,” Sorbet said.

“Uh... He’s confined to the prison he’s in, and not very mobile… at all. He likes food and wine. He told me he valued loyalty and trust above all else. He was fairly secretive about his job as a capo. He wouldn’t divulge much. Sorry, I know that doesn’t help much.”

“No, no, that’s perfect,” Gelato said, “We can use that. Thank you, Pesci.”

Pesci wasn’t sure how they were going to use that info, but he trusted Sorbet and Gelato had a plan. They were professional informants after all. 

 

A few days later, Sorbet had called the team, and told them all that there was a rumor circulating that Polpo was dead. Upon further investigation by Sorbet and his partner, the rumor had turned out to be true. Polpo had been found dead in his cell, and investigation had deemed it a suicide. 

“Do you think he was killed, Pesci?” Sorbet asked through the phone.

Pesci thought for a moment. Although it was possible that Poplo had committed suicide, it wasn’t likely in Pesci’s eyes. But on the other hand, he was staying in a maximum security prison. The idea that someone could have killed him there seemed impossible, at least from what Pesci remembered of the building. 

“I honestly don’t know,” Pesci replied, “I don't think he would, but at the same time someone would have had to get past maximum security to kill him. If so, they would have had to have been a stand user, I couldn’t imagine anyone without a stand being able to pull it off.” 

“If that’s the case, then it looks like we have someone to look out for. If they are a stand user, they may even be in Passione.”

Pesci paused.

“Where will the Boss’s daughter go, now that Polpo’s dead?”

Sorbet went silent for a moment. 

“That’s a good question,” he said.

 

Seeing as their lead was now dead, it seemed the investigation into the Boss's identity was stalled, but the investigation continued nonetheless. Luckily, as soon as it seemed that the team was stuck, Sorbet and Gelato had found another lead on who was guarding the daughter. 

They had found that a person by the name of Bruno Buccellati had found Polpo’s hidden fortune, and had given it to the gang, and had been given the status of capo in return. Buccellati had been given Polpo’s territories, now that he was dead. This meant that they were likely given the task of guarding the Boss’s daughter as well. 

Now they just needed to find this Bruno Buccellati. And they had no leads on their location. 

The first step was to look in Polpo’s territories, and ask around for a Buccellati. 

Pesci was assigned to go with his brother, and the rest were split up and assigned their own part of Polpo’s territories to explore. 

They had no information on Buccellati. They had no idea what they even looked like. All they had was a name.

Prosciutto lead the way around the section of Naples they were to look. They looked for any members of Passione, indicated by the small pin they carried or wore. 

Not long into their search they saw a group of 4 people outside a small restaurant, some wearing the pins with Passione’s emblem on them. The two approached the group.

“Are you all in Passione?” Prosciutto asked.

“Yeah, what of it?” one huffed.

“We need some help. We were assigned to cooperate with Buccellati for a mission, do you know of them? They were supposed to be somewhere around here, and we can’t find them.”

The one that had spoken looked the two assassins over. 

“They’re out on a mission right now. Busy doin’ something for the Boss I think. You sure you were supposed to meet them here ?”

“That’s what I was told,” Prosciutto lied.
“Well you were told wrong, ‘cause they ain’t here. Try coming back later.”

The gangster turned away back to his friends. Prosciutto frowned. 

“Could you tell me where you saw them last, at least?” 

“Try the train station!” another piped up. 

“Will do, thank you,” Prosciutto said, with some excitement.

The first gangster scowled at the other, as if that information was to be kept from them, and to tell truth, it probably was.

Prosciutto and Pesci went to the train station upon instruction, where they found Risotto. He was looking around for any gang members, until he spotted Pesci and Prosciutto. 

“What are you doing here?” He asked as he approached them, “Did you find a lead?”

“We were told this was the last place that Buccellati was.”

“Oh?” Risotto perked up.

Suddenly there was a sound, like splashing. 

Pesci looked down, and so did the other two. The sewer. It had come from the sewer right beneath their feet. 

Just a rat?

No, no one else noticed the sound, even though several people were around. It had to have been a stand. Risotto and Prosciutto were noticeably on guard. 

They were being attacked.

Chapter Text

Pesci had been in stand battles before, but not ones where it was life and death stakes. It was an understatement to say he was scared. He only hoped that he didn’t have to be the one to kill the enemy. 

The splash from the sewer had alerted the three assassins to an enemy in the train station. It was a stand, and the team could tell because no one around had heard the splash except them. 

They three looked around for anyone that looked suspicious. There were so many people in the train station it made Pesci dizzy trying to focus on anyone in the crowds. No one stuck Pesci immediately. 

A woman with a drink walked by the three, and from out of the drink suddenly leaped a small, fish-like stand with sharp teeth. It jumped from the bottle in the woman’s hand and flew towards Prosciutto. Prosciutto instinctively dodged, and the stand caught hold of his arm in its mouth, biting down hard, causing Prosciutto to grunt in pain. 

Pesci whipped out his stand, and swung the line at the fish stand. But, before Pesci could hook the stand, it disappeared. How did it do that? Had it… teleported?

“Are you OK, Prosciutto?” Risotto asked urgently, still looking around for a possible user. 

“Yeah, fine,” he said. He examined the deep cut on his arm where the teeth had sunk into him. It was bleeding plenty. 

“This might be an automatic tracking stand,” Pesci said, “Since the user doesn’t appear to be anywhere nearby.”

“We can’t assume that,” Prosciutto protested, “They are likely hidden in the crowd and taking the opportunity to attack us. We can’t see them but they can probably see us.”

“Prosciutto, if that’s what you think, then now would be a good time to use you stand,” Risotto said. 

“H-here? With all these people? Won't they all die then?” Pesci stuttered.

Risotto simply looked at Pesci, but his message was clear. That was no concern. These people were nothing but obstacles to Risotto. And since Prosciutto’s stand was indiscriminate, it would be perfect for killing the stand user in this situation. 

Prosciutto pulled out his stand, and Pesci jumped in surprise. 

Prosciutto’s stand was a humanoid being with no legs and eyes covering most of its body. It walked on its arms and emitted a gas that would rapidly age people. The only thing that would slow or reverse the rapid aging was the cold. It was a hot summer day in Naples. No one in the train station was complaining about cool weather.

Prosciutto activated his stand without a moment of hesitation. Peci began to panic and looked around frantically for anything cold that he could use to ward off the aging. 

When he looked around he saw that Risotto was… missing? Had he gone to look for the stand user? He couldn’t have possibly gotten away from the group that quickly. 

Pesci spotted a water fountain. He ran over to the cool water. As he rushed past the crowds, he saw Prosciutto's stand beginning to take effect. Many people slowed their walking speed, and Pesci had to push several people out of the way as many of them started to collapse. He got to the water fountain and took a drink. The cool water was refreshing and welcome, as Pesci didn’t want to die by his brother’s stand. 

He turned around, and saw that nearly everyone around him had fallen. They were all wrinkled and lethargic, barely responsive to what was happening to them. He still saw no sign of Risotto. Had he succumbed to Prosciutto’s stand as well?  Even though Pesci had panicked, Prosciutto was not one to let his teammates die by his stand. He would have deactivated it before any harm could come to them. 

Pesci stole a bottle from one of the aging passersby and emptied it. He then filled it with water from the cool fountain. 

He rushed back over to Prosciutto to check on him. 

“Where’s Risotto?” Pecsi asked frantically.

“He went to look for the user, you should too. Use your stand to trap the water fountain. They likely saw you go there and are trying to reverse the aging just like you.”

“If they can see me they’ll know I trapped it, though.”

“Then search the whole room with your line for a heartbeat that’s more lively than the rest. That'll be the stand user.”

“Understood.”

Pesci extended his line throughout the whole room, back and forth, making sure not to miss touching anyone. All the heartbeats were the same, slow beat. Like the people who owned the heartbeats were on the brink of death. And if the aging didn’t reverse  soon, they would be. 

Pesci retracted his line.

“I found them,” he said. 

“Really?? Where are they?”

Pesci hadn’t found the user, why did he say that?

“No, I mean, I know where they are.” That’s not what he meant to say either!

“Yes, you said that. Where are they?” Prosciutto looked impatient.

Pesci held his mouth shut. He was under the effect of another stand. He had to be, and that would mean that there were two users!

“There’s only one user,” Pesci lied.

“Great, let’s get rid of them!”

“N-no, I mean y-” Pesci clapped his hand over his mouth.

“Are you… OK, Pesci?” Prosciutto asked, looking confused.

“Yes! Fine!” 

No! That’s not what he wanted to say! He wasn’t OK! 

Pesci put his hand over his mouth again. Prosciutto raised an eyebrow. 

“No, something’s wrong. What’s wrong with your mouth, Pesci?”

Pesci went to open his mouth, but something instinctively shut it. He then shouted:

“Nothing!”

“Okay, then… If you found the user, kill them, or lead me to them so I can kill them.”

Suddenly, from out of the bottle Pesci was holding, the same fish stand jumped out. This time, it attacked Pesci. It leaped into the air and found its way onto Pesci’s neck and bit down, just barely missing the jugular vein. Prosciutto rushed over and pulled on the fish’s tail, yanking it out of Pesci’s neck, leaving a hole where it had bitten him. The pain was hot and Pesci felt warm blood flow down his neck. Luckily, it wasn’t a fatal injury, and Pesci was going to be fine, but fuck did it hurt.

A hand appeared on Pesci’s shoulder. Pesci jumped. He looked behind himself to see who the hand belonged to. It was Risotto. How did Risotto sneak up on them like that?

Pesci felt the blood flow slow. Was Risotto doing something to heal him? Pesci then felt a painful, piercing sensation in several spot on his neck. He lifted his hand to feel what Risotto had done. He had put what seemed like staples in his neck to close the wound. Was this Risotto’s ability? 

“Have either of you thought of a way to find any sign of the user? I searched most of the station, and found no one hiding that I could see,” Risotto said, “We need to find the user before they are able to attack again.”

Pesci looked at the bottle he had dropped when the fish stand jumped out of it. The cold water was spilled on the floor, to Pesci’s chagrin. In the puddle formed by the water, Pesci could have sworn he saw a fin emerge. The stand was still near, but it seemed that it could only travel in water.

Pesci pointed to the puddle. Then suddenly his arm swung in another direction. It pointed towards the water fountain.

“It’s there!” he said.

Pesci had forgotten that he was still under the effect of another stand. Pesci covered his mouth. Prosciutto and Risotto looked over to the fountain. 

“The water f- Oh!” Prosciutto picked up the bottle, “It attacked us from the water both times. It must need water to travel, and I think it can teleport, because I didn’t see it in the bottle before it attacked.”

“Right, so as long as we stay away from the water we should be fine, but we still need to get rid of the user.”

“There’s only one!” Pesci said, but he was trying to say that there were two.

  “That’s right, Pesci you mentioned that you had found the user, why didn’t you kill them before they attacked?” 

Pesci just stared and covered his mouth. Prosciutto looked at him worriedly. 

“Pesci, there must be something wrong. Why do you keep covering your mouth like that?”

Pesci couldn’t try to cooperate with his team anymore. He would just lie to them and confuse them. He needed to find the users himself.

Pesci didn’t answer his brother, and instead turned and ran in the direction of the crowd of ageing people that littered the floor. He released his line again and searched for any heartbeat that seemed irregular. This time, he extended his line further, into other rooms and hidden crevices of the train station. 

He couldn’t find anything. He whipped his line up and began to reel it back in. But, he hit something. He hit a beam that was between him and the ceiling. And, for some reason, the beam showed a heartbeat. Pesci looked up. 

Above him there were two pairs of feet from two people sitting on top of the beam. Their heartbeats must have been conducted by the beam, and they must be the stand users. Pesci looked over at Prosciutto and Risotto. They too were looking up at the users. Pesci saw that the users had quickly tucked their feet in as soon as they had been discovered. 

Pesci extended his line again, and unreeled it up to the rafters and plunged it into the leg of one of the users. He pulled hard, and both fell off the beam they were sitting. They landed on a few of the people under the effect of Prosciutto’s stand. 

They stood up and began to run, but Pesci tugged on his line and tripped one of them. The other stopped.

The three assassins approached the two stand users. One of the users had long, light hair, and the other had his hair in several ponytails. The two wore matching clothes of different colors.

“Care to bargain for your life?” Risotto said, staring down at them.

“We’re not traitors, like you,” one snarled, “We have nothing you could want out of us, concerning the Boss.”

“Then what’s to stop me from killing you?”

“For your own safety, you want us alive. The next guards he’ll send at you if you kill us are going to kill you for sure.”

“So we die either by your hands or another's. Is that the option you’re giving us?” Prosciutto interjected, “You’ll just tell the Boss we’re not dead if we let you live.”

The two just stared at the three assassins. There was silence.

“May I... ask a question?” one of the Boss’s guards asked, breaking the pause.

“Fine.”

“Why did you betray the gang?”

Risotto paused before speaking up.

“At first it was for money, but now it’s personal. I knew we were being hunted regardless. If we don’t find the Boss’s identity we’ll just be killed at the hands of his guards. I knew the Boss was itching to get rid of us anyway, so he’ll take any excuse. We just need something to combat him. That’s why we are searching for his identity.”

“What makes you think he'd wanted you dead before you searched into the Boss's identity?” the same one asked.

“He never liked us... Doesn’t trust us. That’s why he underpaid us. And I knew asking to be compensated fairly was a risk already, but knowing he sent his guards on us before he even knew we were even searching for his identity was enough for me to believe he was going to try to kill us regardless. He was just looking for an excuse. I suppose asking for money was that excuse.”

The guard with longer hair pulled a cellphone from his pocket.

“Don’t try anything,” Risotto snapped, “You are well within range of my stand.”

The guard just looked at Risotto, and carefully dialed a number. He moved slowly, as though he was being held hostage.

“Hello?” he spoke into the phone.

A pause.

“Yes. It’s been taken care of. Three members of La Squadra are dead. We are on our way to kill the others now. No, we won’t need any help... Thank you. We will let you know when the others are dead.” He pushed a button and hung up at that.

“What are you doing,” Prosciutto asked.

“Let us join you," the guard said.

“Wh- What?” Prosciutto stuttered, “Why?”

“The Boss doesn’t trust us either. And to be honest, we don’t trust him either. He hardly gives us any jobs, and we have no territory. We’re in the same boat. Let us join you,” the same one with long hair said. The other one nodded.

There was silence for a moment. Risotto sighed.

“We could use all the help we can get... But, if you try anything, you know what happens,” he said.

Prosciutto still looked in shock. Pesci was too. These people that tried to kill them were suddenly wanting to join them? And Risotto was so quick to trust them…

“We’ve debated betraying the Boss for a long time, but never had the guts. Thank you for letting us join you. My name is Tiziano, and this is Squalo,” he gestured to his partner, “We won’t disappoint you.”

“You tell that to the Boss before joining the gang?” Prosciutto said.

Risotto nudged Prosciutto.

“We need them on our side. And besides, if they aren’t serious about betraying the Boss, we’re stronger than them. One misstep and they’re dead.”

“Fine. Whatever,” Prosciutto huffed.

“Now let’s focus on finding Buccellati. Obviously they’re not here so let's regroup and see if anyone has found anything,” Risotto said.

They left the station and Prosciutto released his stand ability. Everyone woke up slowly, and eventually business continued as usual.

As they were leaving the station, though, Risotto spotted something. It was someone that didn’t wake up, and there was a pool of blood around him.

Risotto knelt down to examine the corpse.  Pesci flinched. It looked as though the man had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. Why had no one found him yet? Did he die while Prosciutto’s stand was in effect? They didn’t hear a gunshot…

Risotto picked up what Pesci could only assume was the corner of a picture that had been burnt. It was charred and only a minuscule amount of the image was visible. 

“May I use your cellphone, Tiziano,” Risotto asked.

Chapter Text

Risotto took the cellphone Tiziano offered to him. He punched in a number and put it up to his ear.

“Hello. Yes, this is Risotto. I need you to do something for me.”

A pause.

“I need you to reconstruct a photograph, can you do it? We can talk details later.”

Another pause. He put his hand over his mouth and whispered into the receiver.

“Not now my team is here. I’ll call you back... Goodbye.”

“Who was that?” Prosciutto asked.

“Someone who is going to help us. He has a stand that can reconstruct this photograph, which might be the lead we’re looking for.”

Prosciutto raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything. It seemed to Pesci that Prosciutto didn't trust this person, but why shouldn't he? He didn't know him, after all. Maybe that's exactly why he didn't trust him. But Risotto did, and besides, he was a stand user that had the ability to reconstruct photographs, which was very valuable to the team at a time like this. 

After that, the assassination team members and their newfound allies left the train station and met up with the rest of the team to see what they had found. Risotto explained that Squalo and Tiziano were going to betray the boss with them, and that if they tried anything Risotto would kill them immediately. The rest of the team was hesitant just like Prosciutto was, but accepted the two onto the team nonetheless. On a condition, however:

“Could we… talk about what we found on Buccellati away from those two? I feel like they might report to the  Boss while we’re sleeping or something,” Ghiaccio said.

“Good idea. Do you mind stepping out for a minute?” Prosciutto asked in a less than polite manner.

Tiziano looked unfazed, but Squalo looked a little offended.

“Sure, no problem,” Tiziano said earnestly.

Tiziano lead Squalo away from the team and around behind the building they were congregating in front of. 

“What did you find, Ghiaccio,” Prosciutto asked.

“Well, me and Illuso found that Buccellati had gained capo status after fighting some stand users for the money Polpo had hidden away. So Buccellati is a stand user at least, and it’s very likely that the rest of their gang is too. No lead on their location, though.”

“Me and Pesci found out that they were last seen in Naples at the train station, so they are obviously on a train headed towards some other city.”

“Great they’re out of town! How the fuck are we gonna find them now?!” Ghiaccio threw his arms up.

“Let’s split up and track the recent trains,” Risotto said, “We also have a possible lead from this,” he took out the corner of the burnt photograph.

“How?” Formaggio said, “All the information’s been burned off!”

“I know a guy…” Risotto smiled.

Pesci nearly had to look again. That was the first time Pesci had seen Risotto emote the whole time he knew him. He looked around. Everyone else seemed unfazed. Was this normal to them? How often did Risotto actually smile? Pesci had always seen him as very serious, even more serious than his brother. Was that a misinformed assumption? Pesci wondered what Risotto was really like, if not intimidating and serious…

The team split up as Risotto had said to search the recent trains. Pesci and Prosciutto went together in a car to track the train headed to Bari that had left the station and hour before they had been attacked there. There were too many recent trains to track, so the team just split the tracking to the most recent 5. 

Prosciutto was in a hurry to get to Bari, in case Buccellati and their gang was there. Prosciutto sped down the highways, making Pesci a bit carsick. 

Once in Bari the two looked around and asked the local Passione members if they had seen a Buccellati. None responded positively. Pesci walked the narrow streets of Bari looking for Buccellati long into the day, and once the evening colors of red and orange began to fill the sky, Prosciutto decided they were done. He turned around and faced Pesci.

“Let’s call it quits. They’re not here. Let’s get some food and go home. Maybe someone else found them.”

They picked out a local restaurant and ate. 

The drive home was less stressful for Pesci since Prosciutto wasn't speeding anymore. Pesci wondered about the photograph Risotto had found. Would it really help lead to the Boss? Pesci slowly drifted off to sleep as the sky turned from orange to black.

The assassination team and their new allies gathered back at Prosciutto’s house the next day to discuss the new possible lead again. No one had found any sign of Buccellati, and they were all tired from having driven home very late.

Risotto dropped a folder on the table. Everyone perked up.

“This is the new lead, I was able to have the photograph reconstructed, and this is what it shows,” he pulled out a photograph that was complete, and showed a picture of a small statue on a pedestal in front of a building.

Even Tiziano and Sqaulo looked at it in puzzledly. They had obviously not seen the spot before or the photo.

“There must be something at that site! Something to lead us to the Boss,” Ghiaccio exclaimed.

“Right, so the only thing we need to do is find out where it is and send a team there to retrieve whatever’s there. I have a feeling this was a clue left for Buccellati, so they may be lost right now without it, or not; they could have found another way to get this information…”

“So what you’re saying is that it’s time sensitive? We need to get there before Buccellati?” Prosciutto asked.

“Yes, exactly.”

“So how do we find where this actually is?” Formaggio asked, taking the picture to look at it.

“You all explored several different cities last night, correct? Did any of you see anything that looked like this? Think hard.”

There was a pause as everyone thought about the streets they had explored last night. Pesci could not remember anything that looked like the photo in Bari. Prosciutto couldn’t seem to come up with anything either. 

“If you can’t think of anything that looks like this, it must be another city we didn’t look for Buccellati in. That’s where their train must have been headed. What were the other recent trains that went to cities we didn’t explore?”

“Well, there was a train headed to Pompeii about and hour and a half before, and one headed to Florence about and hour and 45 minute before,” Prosciutto recounted.

“We’ll look in those two areas. We are so close… We’ll split up our whole group into two, and if we meet Buccellati we’ll be well armed that way.”

Pesci was beginning to get nervous again. What were Buccellati’s gang’s stands like? Fighting two stand users was hard enough, but how many did Buccellati have on their side?

Pesci was assigned to go with Ghiaccio, Tiziano, and Formaggio. They were going to go to Florence. Ghiaccio seemed more fidgety than usual. Perhaps he was anxious like Pesci?

After the long drive from Naples to Florence, they four begun scouring the city to look for the statue in the picture. They had split up, and had each been given a radio to communicate. This was the first time Pesci was alone since his joining of La Squadra di Esecuzione. He held up his copy of the picture and looked all around the streets. He crossed a bridge, and found a small pile of rubble. Had someone been working here? Upon closer inspection some of the rubble looked like it had been carved. Pesci looked at his picture again. He looked closely at the building and decoration in the background, and then looked around again. 

The picture looked identical to the spot he was in, except for the fact that there was no statue. Someone had destroyed the statue, and it was immediately clear to Pesci why. Pesci got out his radio and clicked the talk button.

“I-I think i found the spot,” he said, “But it looks like someone got to whatever was here before us.”

Chapter Text

 

Ghiaccio kicked the rubble from the statue in a fit of anger.

“Fuck, fuck fuck!” he yelled, “We were so fucking close!”

After Pesci had called in that whatever was here had been taken, the rest of his team had come to the site to see for themselves. Needless to say, they were disappointed. The team was so close to finding a lead on the Boss’ daughter’s location, but Buccellati had beat them to it. 

“Perhaps they are still in the area,” Tiziano said, “We should look for them.”

Formaggio and Ghiaccio agreed, and the team was split up again into two pairs. Pesci went with Formaggio. They began to search for Buccellati, radiating out from the site Pesci had found the broken statue. 

“I wish someone had on our team had some sort of tracking stand,” Formaggio said, “I’m tired of running around in circles looking for someone who I don’t even know what they look like. The best we can do is just hope re run into Buccellati by chance.”

Pesci nodded. It did seem as though they were following a trail to a dead end. Searching the city likely wouldn’t yield results as long as the gang didn’t know what Buccellati looked like. 

“Let’s just say we couldn’t find anything and group back up. We at least know that we were too late,” Formaggio took out his radio and pushed the button to talk, “Tiziano, were chasing our own tail here. Buccellati probably left a while ago. Let’s just regroup and tell Risotto what we found. Maybe Sorbet and Gelato will be able to find something more that we can use. Because for now we’re just stuck.”

Formaggio was right. They were stuck. It seemed as though they were hot on Buccellati’s trail, but at this point they were just seeing the remnants of events long past. Buccellati was probably in another city far off, staying just out of reach. 

They regrouped as Formaggio had suggested and reported what they had found to Risotto. He was surprised that Buccellati had already been there, and simultaneously disappointed. He must have also realized that something else had to be done if they were going to find Buccellati. 

Several days after Pesci had found the site in the picture Risotto had had reconstructed, Sorbet and Gelato were again hard at work in search of any info on Buccellati. Anything they could find would be useful. Risotto had also been keeping in touch with his mysterious friend that had reconstructed the photo. He could also be helpful in their mission to find the gangster that was guarding their only lead on the Boss’ true identity.  Even Tiziano and Squalo attempted to do their part in information searching. They were with Sorbet and Gelato a lot, to help in the search. 

Nothing was yielded from their efforts for a while though. Several days had gone by, and they were still in the dark on Buccellati’s location. 

Finally Sorbet and Gelato came forward with something. Another meeting had been called to reveal what they had found. 

At the meeting they immediately passed around copies of a picture of a person with short black hair and a white suit. 

“We have pictures of what Buccellati looks like now,” Sorbet said.

“Fantastic!” Melone said, “now we finally have something to work with when searching for them… They look like a nerd.”

Formaggio let out a small laugh. 

“Thank you, Sorbet,” Risotto said.

“But that’s not all,” Gelato responded, “We have information on their gang. Not much, but some nonetheless. Their group consists of five members including Buccellati, and one new member. We don’t have information on their stands, but they all entered the gang through Polpo, so they are all likely stand users. They’ll be travelling with the Boss’ daughter as well, however, and there is no information on whether or not she has a stand.”

“So we outnumber them, that’s great!” Formggio said, “But what about their location?”

“I actually have something on that,” Risotto spoke up, “my friend Murolo was able to give me that they were headed to Rome. So it seems that that’s our next destination.” 

The rest of the team looked at each other with a mix of disbelief and pleasant surprise.  

“We have location already?” Prosciutto asked, “That’s great, I guess, but we should probably be heading there as soon as possible if we want to meet Buccellati.”

“Yes, of course, that’s why I called a meeting immediately,” Risotto responded, “And I think we should all go together. We don’t know what kind of stands we’re up against.”

The team agreed, and eagerly began to get in cars to go to Rome. Pesci felt more prepared than he’d ever been this whole time he was in La Squadra. He was ready to meet Buccellati and fight for the daughter of the Boss. But, as Pesci thought about victory, he realized that success in this case would mean killing someone. Probably multiple people. 

Pesci still didn’t feel like he was up to the task that was murder. And the more he thought about it, the more he felt like a coward. 

The closer they got to Rome, the more nervous Pesci felt. He almost wanted to turn back, but he couldn’t, not now. The team was so close to finding the Boss’s identity. He couldn’t let down the team he had grown so close to. Pesci had only been a part of the assassination team for a short time, but he felt as though he really belonged. Despite the fact that his kill count was a solid zero. 

They were in Rome now, and Pesci’s heart was racing. Prosciutto stopped the car that half of the squad was in, and they all took their exit. Pesci could see the Colosseum. The reminder of what that large building was used for really set the mood for the fight to come. 

Suddenly, Ghiaccio yelled out in pain.

Everyone turned to Ghiaccio in a panic. He held out his hands. They were covered in some green, fuzzy stuff. Was it mold?

“I-I just went to tie my shoes and this stuff grew on me! We’re under attack already!” Ghiaccio yelled. His voice was shaking, and so were his hands.

Pesci looked around for the user. There was no one around. It was late evening and most people had gone home already. The user must have been hiding, but how close? What was their range? Was this the ability of one of Buccellati's gang members?

“Split up and look for the user!” Prosciutto shouted.

The half of the team that had been in Prosciutto’s car all ran in separate directions at the words. Pesci ran towards the Colosseum. The massive building loomed over him, and the shadows blocked the evening sun, making those spots a few degrees cooler. Pesci shivered.  He went up to the Colosseum and began walking around it, occasionally looking behind pillars, looking for any sign of another person. 

Pesci felt his legs give way under him. When he looked down, his feet were halfway sunk into the concrete. Pesci considered calling for his team, but then remembered they had run in different directions, and were far away by now. He was alone.

A hand reached up out of the concrete like it was water, and grabbed Pesci’s leg, pulling him deeper into the liquefied ground. 

Pesci whipped out Beach Boy, and swung it at the ground, going through the concrete like it was nothing, and hooking onto the arm that had grabbed him. He pulled up and pulled out a man with a strange suit of some kind covering his body. It looked stitched together, like it had been made too small and was being held together by the stitches. The man came halfway out of the concrete and stared at Pesci. His stare was blank and his expression vacant. He wasn’t surprised?

Then the stand user swiped at Pesci’s legs, tripping Pesci and causing him to fall. Once Pesci fell, he felt the sensation of something cutting into him, or tearing at his skin. He yelped in pain. He looked at his arms and legs, and they were covered in the mold-like stuff that Ghiaccio had had on his hands. Was this stand user the one who made the mold? Or was his ability just to make the ground like liquid? 

Were there two stand users attacking at once?

Pesci panicked. He yelled out for Prosciutto, but there was no response. The man in the strange suit laughed to himself.

“Calling for your little friends are you? Cioccolata will love to see this,” he pulled out a video camera, and aimed it at Pesci.

Pesci snapped back to reality, and realized what was happening. He was alone, yes, but he was not going to die by the hands of this man. He couldn’t let his team down like that. 

Pesci attempted to stand up, but the mold attacking him made it near impossible. He managed to get up, but Pesci wondered if the mold had been any worse if he would have been able to. Pesci yanked the line on his Beach Boy, which was still attached to the man’s arm. 

The stand user yelled in pain as the line pulled his arm hard and made him drop his camera. He then grabbed the line, and made a futile attempt to yank the hook out of his arm. The hook was deep in his arm now, and he was trapped. 

Pesci extended the line and the hook dug deeper into the man’s arm, closer to the chest.

An idea came to Pesci. A gruesome idea. The heart of this man was so close to Pesci’s hook. If Pesci were to extend it further, he could grab hold and pull out the man’s heart easily. 

The thought of doing this scared Pesci. But, perhaps, he could just use it as a bargaining chip. He could kill, but that didn’t mean he had to. Not if this man would surrender, anyway.

The man punched the line in another attempt to remove it. The reverberations in the string were sent right back to him, and the hook went deeper. 

Pesci took advantage of the man’s mistake and extended the line so that the hook plunged right into the heart of the enemy stand user.

“I have your heart on my hook,” Pesci said, trying to sound tough and intimidating, “Surrender or d-die.” Those words choked up in Pesci’s throat, and he stuttered on the delivery.

The stand user paused, then went into a laughing fit. He was laughing at him. Pesci had his heart on a hook and he was laughing at him.

“You don’t sound so sure of yourself,” the man finally said, “you’re gonna k-k-k-kill me? Oh no!”

Pesci felt red in the face. The fucker didn’t believe him. 

“I’ll give you some advice, mister. Since you don’t seem very good at killing. If you really wanna kill someone, you do it. Don’t tell someone they’re gonna die. Kill them, then tell them.”

The man then yanked the string of Pesci’s Beach Boy with enough force to pull Pesci towards him. He then punched Pesci square in the face, knocking Pesci to the ground. The sensation of cutting into his skin returned as the mold creeped up Pesci’s limbs as he fell. 

Why hadn’t the mold done this earlier? Pesci would have been dead by now. There must be something activating the mold , Pesci thought. If he could figure that out…

The man picked up the video camera again, dusted it off, and pointed it at Pesci again. 

“Huh? You don’t look in despair, even though most of your body is covered in mold… Cioccolata won’t like that. Look more sad.”

Pesci tried to push himself up, but the mold covering him sent hot pain coursing through his arms as he tried, and Pesci stumbled. 

The stand user chuckled.

Pesci attempted to stand again, and the user laughed harder. Again, Pesci tried. The pain was unbearable. He felt like he was going to lose his limbs. 

Pesci couldn’t die. Not here, not now. Not while someone was laughing at his pain like this man was. He had a team he owed his efforts to. He had to try. He had to win. He had to kill this man.

Pesci pushed himself up as hard as he could. The mold felt like it was dissolving his body. He looked, and on one of his arms, it looked like it had. The flesh looked missing and the bone was nearly visible. Pesci winced. 

But, he was able to stand. 

The man stopped laughing. His expression changed back to the black stare that had greeted Pesci when he first saw his face. 

“I see, not giving up so easily?”

The man dropped the camera, and bounded towards Pesci, with full intention to strike Pesci back to the ground.

Pesci, in a flash, pulled out Beach Boy and swung the line straight at this man's heart. The enemy blocked, but Pesci went through his arms with the line, and right into his chest. He grabbed hold of the heart, and could see the enemy stand user wince from the pain. 

Pesci, without thought, pulled hard. 

The enemy’s heart was torn out of his chest, and the man coughed out blood. He didn’t have a vacant stare anymore. As the last breath faded from his chest, his expression changed to that of shock. The man didn’t believe Pesci could kill him until the very end, and in all honesty, neither did Pesci.

Pesci couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t believe what he’d done. 

Pesci stumbled, but caught himself. 

There was mold was still in effect. If he fell now, the mold would surely resurface and kill him. He had to steady himself, and get back to the rest of his team.