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At some point during the night, Mista awoke to movement beside him. He’d turned onto his side while asleep, pulling his hand out of Giorno’s, and Mista wondered if maybe that was why the blond was now sitting up in the bed with his head in his hands and shaking.

“Giorno…?” Mista asked, shoving the covers back and pushing himself up.

“I’m fine, Mista,” Giorno murmured, his face obscured by the shadows despite the moonlight pouring into the room through the windows. He’d have to shut them later so they wouldn’t wake up with the sun.

“You can go back to sleep.”

“Like I’m gonna do that,” Mista scoffed, scooting over to place his arm around Giorno’s shoulders, “Wanna talk about it?”

Giorno sighed and said after a few seconds, “Just a nightmare, that’s all. Nothing to worry about.”

“Good, ‘cuz I’m not gonna worry about nightmares. You, however, I am gonna worry about. Especially when you should be sleeping.”

“Well I don’t know if that’s going to happen anymore,” Giorno said in a rare moment of honesty, “Not if death is what I’m going to see.”

“Yours? Or ours?” When Giorno didn’t answer, Mista figured that was as good an admission of the latter as he’d get. “We’re all here, Giorno. Everyone’s okay.”

“You saw Bucciarati yesterday, not me,” Giorno retorted, finally lifting his head to look at Mista. The shadows of the room made the exhausted rings under his eyes appear sunken and bruised to the point of injury, his skin pale and emerald eyes flashing in an emotion Mista couldn’t quite place.

“Tell me, Mista, did he look ‘okay’ to you? Or did he just look like an empty shell of a person barely clinging to life because of machines and stubbornness? …Perhaps it would have been better to let him go.”

“You don’t really think that.”

“No,” Giorno admitted, “But I wish I did. Instead I’m left wondering if there was more I could do, more I can do.”

“Y’know, I didn’t wanna tell you this, but I think I should,” Mista said quietly, “We talked about it, me and Fugo and Abbacchio. At the hospital. No one’s gonna let you go see Bucciarati.”

“Wha- How could you say that?!” The hurt in Giorno’s voice was evident even before he cried, “I thought I was one of you!”

Mista couldn’t hold back his wince; “Of course you are, that’s exactly why, Giorno! Or are you gonna sit here and tell me the first thing you’d do wouldn’t be to call out Gold Experience and start trying to fix him more?”

“That’s no one’s decision to make but mine-!”

“Which is why we aren’t gonna give you that choice, not until you can say that you’ll leave it alone and truly mean it.” When Giorno didn’t reply, Mista continued, “Look, not a single one of us blames you for this. But I know you still blame yourself anyways, so I’m not gonna try to convince you not to, okay? But at the very least, can’t you let me convince you to not put yourself in the bed next door to Bucciarati?”

“I know my limits, Mista.”

“Yeah, here’s the thing, you know them but you don’t care. Remember the safehouse? All the little scrapes and burns you insisted on fixing even though we could’ve patched them up on our own? Even when you knew before any of us that you were pushing yourself too far? You collapsed, for fuck’s sake. Hell, if it wasn’t for Trish, Bucciarati probably woulda called an ambulance right then and there; he thought you might’ve had a concussion or some kind of brain bleed.”

That at least was enough to make Giorno guiltily glance away from Mista, and the gunman softened his tone as he continued, “We just don’t want you to do that again. Especially when you’ve barely rested at all since the Colosseum, don’t think you’ve fooled me, I know the difference between your breathing when you’re asleep and when you’re awake. I haven’t told the others, so don’t do anything that’ll make me, okay?”

“…I just can’t stop thinking about what I could’ve done, what I could still do,” Giorno said finally, sounding defeated, but he didn’t try to argue about going to the hospital any further.

“Well, there is something you can do,” Mista replied, and when Giorno shot him a confused stare, he grinned.

“Get some sleep. Eat a good breakfast when you wake up. Take another shower if you want, watch TV, read a book, just fuckin’ relax. You need to take care of yourself before you take care of others,” and before Giorno could reply, Mista added, “And that was something Bucciarati told me himself, so if you won’t take my advice, then take his.”

Mista pushed the covers off of himself the rest of the way so he could get out from the bed, walking over to the bedroom door and closing it. He could feel Giorno’s eyes on his back as he headed over to the window and unhooked the pins holding the curtains back, yanking them together so the dim light coming into the room was smothered. Of course, this left them in total darkness and of course Mista ended up stubbing his toe as he fumbled his way back to the bed, clenching his teeth to keep from shrieking in pain, lest he woke the others.

“Oh yeah, it’s real funny,” he muttered, hearing soft giggles coming from Giorno’s side of the bed, but Mista didn’t really have the heart to feel mad. At least his antics had seemed to cheer Giorno up some.

“The guys know not to enter when the door’s shut; it’s a habit left over from living together for awhile,” Mista explained, remembering the time Narancia had just banged open the door and walked in right in the middle of Mista jerking it. There had been a second or two of pure silence as the two exchanged bewildered stares and then the shrieking had started. Mista had never managed to live that one down, even though he hadn’t even done anything wrong! Narancia wasn’t even supposed to be home, it wasn’t his fault the boy had zero manners!

“No one’ll be coming into the room, the window’s covered so the sun won’t wake us up, and there’s that small ensuite half bath connected to this room, I made sure we got that one,” and Mista remembered that conversation too, and how easy it was to bribe Narancia with those ketchips that no one else in their right mind would want anyway. “So, how about you and I go back to sleep and sleep however the fuck long it takes for you to not feel tired anymore?”

“And if you wake up and grow bored?”

“Oh Giorno,” Mista said as he shimmied back under the covers, “One thing to know about me is I can nap anywhere, anytime, for days on end if I could. No worries there. I even got two water bottles in here too on the dresser. C’mon, Giorno.”

“…Fine, you win,” Giorno grumbled but he didn’t sound all that annoyed and a few seconds later he was back under the covers as well.

“And, just in case you get nightmares again,” Mista added as he wiggled closer to Giorno until he could feel the blond’s back against his stomach. Mista wrapped his left arm around Giorno’s waist and pulled the boy closer. “If it wakes you up, I’ll be right here this time to scare ‘em away.”

“Mm, I’m not sure that’s how it works,” Giorno said, amusement clear in his voice.

Mista paused for a few seconds before he asked, “D’you want me to move?”

“I didn’t say that.”

Giorno’s response was immediate and Mista squeezed him a little tighter as a grin spread across his face. He was glad Giorno couldn’t see him right now because he probably looked pretty stupid, all redfaced and grinning like a maniac.

It wasn’t long before he felt Giorno’s breathing even out into the soft inhale-exhale of sleep and when Mista finally let sleep claim himself as well, it took less than a minute.

Mista awoke slowly, awareness creeping into his mind as the remnants of whatever he’d been dreaming about slipped away to be replaced with warmth, smooth skin beneath his fingers, and the incredibly overwhelming urge to pee.

He blinked awake blearily and the picturesque features of Giorno’s face came into focus. Mista jerked backwards involuntarily, his face heating up as he realized how damn close Giorno’s face had been to his. The blond must’ve moved at some point during the night and was now curled up where Mista had been just moments ago, his face so relaxed and peaceful that Mista thought he finally looked his age for once.

Mista was careful not to make too much noise or jostle the blankets as he got out of the bed and hurried over to the ensuite to relieve himself. He wasn’t sure how long they’d been asleep but as he passed the windows, it was still dark behind the curtains so it couldn’t have been that long.

Figuring he might as well go see what the others were up to while Giorno was still asleep, Mista crept carefully to the bedroom door, opening it just wide enough for himself to slip out before closing it as gently as he could.

Sure enough, the windows of the apartment showed the night sky with a spattering of stars and a half moon shining down.

“Sleeping Beauty up yet?” he heard a voice ask and turned to see Fugo sitting at the table, a newspaper opened across his lap.

“As you can see, I’m right here,” Mista grinned.

“Not you,” Fugo said with a roll of his eyes before gesturing to the now closed bedroom door, “Giorno. Who the hell would call you a beauty and mean it?”

“Rude. I would, I’m gorgeous and you’re just jealous.” Mista grabbed an apple from a small plate set out on the countertops that he was pretty sure weren’t there before and fell into the chair across from Fugo.

“Nah, Giorno’s still asleep. Ya wouldn’t believe how hard it is to get that guy to rest once in a while.”

“I would think he would’ve rested enough by now,” Fugo commented, “He must’ve been more exhausted than we thought.”

“Whadda ya mean? It’s not even morning yet, dipshit.”

Fugo’s hands tightened around the paper but he didn’t comment on the insult. Instead, he set it down and fixed a hardened stare at Mista. “Mista, it’s been almost a full day. It’s eleven at night right now.”

“That can’t-” Mista trailed off when he saw the clock hanging above the TV that said the same thing as Fugo. Had they really slept through the entire fucking day? And why the hell did no one wake them up?

“Well, guess it explains why I had to pee so bad,” he grumbled, still in mild disbelief. “I can’t believe Nara didn’t burst in and jump on the bed like he always does. ‘Course, if he did it with Giorno in there, I’d throw the kid off before he’d get more than one or two jumps in.”

“We wanted to let you sleep.”


“It was something Abbacchio and I decided,” Fugo clarified, “He stopped by early this morning with some groceries; I was the only one up. We both agreed that, after the day we all had, Giorno especially… well, a little extra rest wouldn’t hurt anything.”

“Guess I’m lucky I picked Giorno to sleep with.” Fugo smirked just as Mista realized what he said and quickly cried, “Not like that! Get your damn mind outta the gutter”

“How’s that going, by the way?”

“I have no clue what you’re talking about.”

“Oh please, Mista,” Fugo rolled his eyes, finally putting down the newspaper so he could lean on the table with his elbows, “You’re hardly subtle about it. For as much shit we give you about that, I think all of us know that, to some degree, what we say is actually true. Obvious flirting aside, you clearly like him.”

“I’m not that obvious,” Mista muttered, taking a bite out of the apple. It was juicy and sweet and tasted so damn good after not having any fruit for close to two weeks now. “Or Giorno woulda picked up on it too.”

“He has,” Fugo insisted, “And he flirts back. You may be one of the biggest idiots I’ve ever met, Mista, but I know even you can’t be that dense. For whatever reason, you just don’t want to admit it.”

“‘S just…” Mista trailed off, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly. “I’m me, y’know? And Giorno’s… well, he’s Giorno. Just doesn’t seem like something that would make sense.”

“Well, maybe you should let him decide that,” Fugo said simply, picking the paper back up and effectively ending that part of their conversation. Mista took another bite, digging his teeth into the fruit’s flesh and thought back to that very first conversation he’d had with Giorno, just the two of them.

Mista knew now that part of why he’d saved that cake for Mista was because he was trying to make a good impression, trying to show that he could be useful even for something as silly as helping Mista finish off his strawberry cake. Even so, Mista had never really gotten the image of Giorno eating that strawberry out of his head. At the start, he’d tried to convince himself that he was just horny; it had been close to two months since he’d had sex and it was hard enough to get some privacy in a house fulla guys. But as they’d spent more time together, Mista had found it harder and harder to deny that maybe there was more to his feelings than just lust and an admiration for Giorno’s beauty.

That had culminated in the fight with Diavolo and fuck, Mista had just repressed that realization as soon as he’d made it. They were in the middle of a literal boss battle and then they’d had Bucciarati to heal and rush to a hospital and then they had to try to somehow adjust to a new routine and get the things they needed for the apartment and visitations and rotating who stayed in and who went out and it was just never a good time. Even now, with things at arguably their most peaceful since before Giorno had joined the group, it just didn’t feel right, confessing. No, Mista decided, he would wait. Giorno had much more important things to deal with first and Mista didn’t want to overwhelm him. But once the takeover was done, once things settled down, once their new normal was established… well, that was fair game.

They had that promise after all; Mista still had to show Giorno the best damn time and lord knew it was long overdue. The blond could do with a break. Not that Mista had much experience with planning dates, but hey, he’d figure it out as he went. Luck had a strange way of favoring.

Grinning as he dug his teeth into the apple for another bite, he said around a hunk of the tangy fruit, “So, wha’re you ‘oin uh?”

The look Fugo gave him was a mix of confusion and disgust; “Don’t fucking eat with your mouth full, despite the smell, you’re not a pig. I think.”

“Never seen a pig who looks as good as I do,” Mista replied once he’d swallowed. “I asked what you’re doin’ up. Don’t you have a cute little brunet to be spooning with?”

Mista waggled his eyebrows and enjoyed the strangled noise escaping Fugo’s throat as the boy’s face turned red, even though Mista himself was wincing internally at saying that about Narancia of all people. Hell, the kid was his brother. Still, Fugo’s reaction confirmed his suspicions about the two, thus fulfilling the whole point of the uncouth jab.

“You ever say something like that again,” Fugo threatened, reaching across the table to jab his finger into Mista’s chest, “And I’ll castrate you. Fucking try me.”

“Wow, someone’s overreacting, would’nt’cha say?” Mista smirked, pushing Fugo’s hand back, “Anyways, answer my question.”

“Hmm, let me think. Maybe because Abbacchio is still at the hospital, Trish headed to her room at ten with specific instructions to ‘leave her the fuck alone,’ Narancia could barely keep his eyes open, you and Giorno hadn’t come out of your room all day and I wasn’t about to try to find out just what the fuck you two were doing, and someone has to stay up and keep watch.”

“Well if you were up in the morning and you were up in the day and you’re still up now, when the hell didja get any sleep, Fugo?”

“I napped here and there,” Fugo replied with a small shrug. Now that he was looking, Mista could just make out the bruises under the blond’s eyes in the dim light coming from the lamp in the corner of the living area.

“A likely story,” Mista huffed, standing up to toss the apple core into the bin before moving around to grab underneath Fugo’s shoulders. The boy yelped as Mista lifted him easily to his feet, saying, “Don’t worry, big brother here can take watch for the rest of the night so little bambolino can get some much needed rest.”

“I’m not a fucking doll,” Fugo grumbled but now that he was on his feet, Mista observed him rolling his shoulders and straightening his legs, clearly stiff and tired from being on them all day with next to no rest.

“Sure you are,” Mista said amicably, “You’re gonna sleep curled up under another little boy’s arm, just like a doll!”

The look on Fugo’s face was positively murderous and Mista chuckled as he said, “Fine, fine, I’ll stop. But seriously, get some sleep, Fugo. You worked really hard yesterday, just as hard as the rest of us.”

“I don’t-”

“Just as hard,” Mista repeated, fixing Fugo with a look that he hoped made clear how he wasn’t going to take any protests of the opposite.

Seeming to get the message, Fugo rubbed the back of his neck as he cracked it to one side, a wide yawn escaping from his lips. As he padded down the hall towards the room he shared with Narancia, Mista heard him murmur, “Thanks, Mista.”

Satisfied, Mista fell back onto the futon beneath the lamplight. Truthfully, he’d been wanting to get back to Giorno but it was more important to care for the others. He was the oldest one there right now, after all, and he’d come to love all of them like his siblings. Well. Maybe not Giorno. No, definitely not Giorno, he decided.

Sighing, he picked up a magazine left out on the small coffee table. Elle, huh? Time to read what the must-have shoes of summer 2001 were.

Giorno awoke with a jolt, the remnants of a dream quickly fading from his mind. He couldn’t be quite sure, but this one hadn’t been quite so bad as the last one earlier that night. He felt goosebumps along his forearms and shivered, the blankets having been pulled down and pooled around his waist at some point during the night.

Rolling over onto his back, he noted that the spot where Mista had been was cool, no trace of the warmth from the man’s body left in the cotton sheets. That was likely why he’d fallen asleep so quickly after that nightmare; Mista’s presence just had that calming effect on him.

He sat up, feeling more well-rested than he had in years. From the nights where he would lie awake wondering if his mother would ever come back, to when he’d huddle under his covers hoping his step-father wouldn’t storm in drunk, to even the nights at the boarding school that were filled with nightmares and insomnia, Giorno had simply grown used to functioning on such little sleep. It wasn’t healthy, certainly not for a boy his age, but Giorno hadn’t felt like a fifteen year old for some time now.

But the nights spent with the group, even stretched out on the sofa in the turtle, he’d slept better than he’d realized was possible for him, and that only grew the more used to the others he got. Giorno had never really thought he’d find people like that, who would care so much and who he’d feel comfortable around.

Giorno stretched his arms over his head, feeling his shoulders pop out of the stiff position they’d been in while he slept and he looked around the room. The door to the ensuite was wide open, so Mista couldn’t be in there, and he wasn’t in the armchair pressed into a corner of the room either. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood, padding over to the window to push aside one of the curtains. The inky blackness of the night sky met his gaze with a few stars twinkling overhead. It couldn’t have been much later than when they’d gone back to sleep then.

The bedroom door was closed, so he carefully pulled it open, not wanting to wake anyone else or startle whoever might still be up. The hall was dark but there was enough light from the moon to give a dim glow to the main living area so Giorno quietly made his way over to it.

Someone was sitting at the table and as Giorno drew closer, he realized it was Abbacchio. It was a bit startling; he’d assumed the man would never leave Bucciarati’s side. The thought spurred up an irrational burst of anger that he quickly quelled; they were just trying to look out for him, he reminded himself. ‘It’s not because they don’t trust you,’ he thought, ‘Don’t think things like that.’

Abbacchio looked up as Giorno entered the room, the man’s expression tired and vulnerable for a split second before he noticed who it was and Giorno could see Abbacchio’s gaze instantly harden, the exhaustion gone from his features.

“You should be asleep,” the man said quietly, and before Giorno could even wonder why he was speaking so softly, Abbacchio gestured towards the futon.

Giorno looked over to see Mista sprawled out on the sofa, a magazine resting on his lap as he snored softly. Fondness welled up as Giorno took in the man’s peaceful expression, as if Mista didn’t have a care in the world. He’d admired that at the start, when he’d first the gunman, and now that admiration had progressed into something akin to affection.

“Weren’t you at the hospital?” Giorno asked curiously.

Abbacchio stared at him before gesturing to the chair opposite the man with a nod of his head. Suppressing his surprise, Giorno slid into the plastic chair silently, his gaze never leaving Abbacchio.

“Duchenne muscular dystrophy,” Abbacchio said and Giorno frowned in confusion; “That’s what they’re calling it. Thought you’d wanna know. He’s doing fine. Well, as fine as you can be in a damn coma, I guess.”

So he hadn’t woken up yet. “I believe his body is simply recovering, once his organs have begun to function semi-normally and his brain has adjusted to normal levels of oxygen, he should wake up. Maybe four, five days? At least, that’s my prediction.”

Abbacchio stared at him with an unreadable expression; “And you know this shit how?”

“I read a lot,” Giorno murmured softly, “It was one of the few things I was allowed to do.”

Abbacchio hummed in acknowledgement, lifting his arm up so he could rest his chin in his hand.

“Bruno loves to read too,” he said fondly, “Romantic stuff, like Jane Eyre and A Room with a View. I never really got it but he’d always pester me to read something with him together, so we could talk about it.”

Abbacchio’s voice grew faint as he whispered, “I’d read whatever he wants, if it means he’ll wake up and be alright.”

Giorno was unsure how to react; he just wasn’t used to people opening up like this to him, let alone Abbacchio. Despite the acknowledgments he’d received from the man, Giorno knew that Abbacchio would never truly accept him. Now, he wondered if maybe he’d simply convinced himself of that because it was easier, it was what he was used to.

“There was a book my mother read, she kept it on her nightstand and would read a bit of it every night,” Giorno began, “I was always curious about it and one day, when she wasn’t home, I snuck into her room to try to read it. I’d only made it through the first few chapters before she came back and found me. I was forbidden from leaving my room for a week because of that, but I’ve always wanted to finish it. I believe it was called The Enchanted April. Bucciarati would enjoy it, I think.”

Abbacchio stared at him for so long that Giorno started to wonder if maybe he’d overstepped when the man said quietly, “Your mom sounds like a bitch.”

Giorno chuckled, nodding his head. “I used to want to stand up for her, but I’ve begun to learn that perhaps I shouldn’t. That she wasn’t just like any other mother was supposed to be.”

“Look at Bruno,” Abbacchio said, “There’s your perfect mom, right there.”

“I suppose that would make you the dad.”

Abbacchio rolled his eyes; “With bratty kids like you, who needs real ones?”

Giorno smiled softly as he watched Abbacchio cover his mouth to stifle a yawn from escaping his lips.

“You should get some rest,” Giorno suggested gently, “You look exhausted.”

“Oh, like you look perfectly fine,” Abbacchio grunted, “Just go back to bed, kid.”

“I’ve gotten more than enough sleep,” Giorno replied, “Or did you think I wouldn’t notice that a whole day has passed?”

When Abbacchio looked at him in surprise, Giorno’s expression softened.

“Mista and I retired at around ten at night, I woke up from… from a bad dream a few hours later, around three in the morning. Currently, it’s ten after two, so unless time went backwards and we’re under attack, you allowed me to sleep as long as I needed.”

Before Abbacchio could protest, Giorno quickly added, “Let me return the favor. You can use the room Mista and I were in, I’ll stay out here.”

“I gotta get back to Bruno,” Abbacchio murmured but Giorno could tell the man was considering it.

“He will be there in the morning,” Giorno said gently, “You need to take care of yourself before you take care of others.”

Abbacchio fixed him with a hard stare. “Where’d you hear that?”

“From Mista,” Giorno answered, “And he heard it from Bucciarati.”

“Figures,” Abbacchio muttered with a roll of his eyes, standing up from the chair and arching his back as he stretched. “Yeah, alright. But wake me up at seven, okay?”

“You have my word,” Giorno replied.

Abbacchio nodded and began to pad softly towards the hall when Giorno stood up suddenly, calling out, “Abbacchio!”

The man paused and looked back, one eyebrow arched in confusion.

“What…” Giorno trailed off before saying quietly, “What does it feel like? Towards Bucciarati?”

“Like the whole world,” was Abbacchio’s only reply before he turned and headed into the bedroom, the door clicking shut softly behind him and Giorno was left alone in the kitchen, Mista’s soft snores the only noise aside from the ticking of the clock on the wall.

The blond turned to gaze at him, at Mista’s peaceful expression and relaxed figure, his cap half-off revealing a head of dark brown curls, and Giorno couldn’t help but smile. He made his way over to the man silently, reaching out to take the magazine off his lap and place it on the coffee table.

He took a few seconds to watch Mista sleep before settling onto the other side of the futon, careful not to wake the sleeping man. As Giorno curled into himself, preparing for a night alone with his thoughts, he wondered about what Abbacchio said.

Giorno didn’t really know what love felt like, he’d never received it before, but he thought that maybe how he felt towards Mista was a bit like that.