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tell me about despair

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When Fugo raps his knuckles against Giorno’s bedroom door, he has an overwhelmingly foreboding feeling weighing on his chest. It’s past midnight, and while it isn’t unheard of for Giorno to still be working at this time, Fugo has never been called for so late and never to Giorno’s personal quarters, only ever to his office.

The lack of noise coming from inside the room indicates that Mista isn’t around, but that doesn’t lessen Fugo’s apprehension. Sheila E had let Fugo down the wing, so he isn’t surprised that there is no bodyguard stationed directly outside of Giorno’s room.

He scours his memory for anything he’s done that could be interpreted as a lack of loyalty, but comes up empty handed. After pledging himself to Giorno, there hasn’t been a moment that his own trust wavered, and he’s worked hard to rebuild Giorno and Mista’s trust in him. Recently, he’s been situated into a room at the mansion Giorno moved into after becoming boss, and although Fugo’s room is in a wing on the far side of the building from Giorno and Mista’s rooms, the point stands that he’s gained a significant amount of trust.

And yet, Fugo can’t help but wonder what he’s done to disappoint Giorno and if he’s been called upon for punishment. He remembers vividly being called for by Mista the first time after Giorno had become boss, and he remembers the absolute certainty he’d had that Mista was going to kill him.

Even so, here he stands.

Before Fugo has more time to linger with his thoughts, the door in front of him creaks open. His breath catches in his throat as he’s met face-to-face with Giorno, whose hair is down, sleek and soft against his shoulders. He still wears his black suit, the lighter patterning on it catching in the dim light.

“Fugo,” Giorno greets cooly, opening the door further and gesturing Fugo inside. “I’m sorry for the late call, but I appreciate your swift arrival.”

Fugo bows his head in response before he meets Giorno’s gaze again. His nerves have almost completely dissipated after seeing Giorno and sensing no mistrust in his greeting. Still, there must be a reason Fugo was called.

“Is something the matter?” he asks, eyes scanning the room, which is lit only by a lamp on Giorno’s desk. The light casts scattered shadows on the walls, obscured by the variety of plants on the desk around the lamp.

Giorno’s head tilts for a moment, seemingly out of curiosity. “Did I worry you?” he asks, but before Fugo responds, he continues, “I only meant to request your company.”

Fugo blinks once, twice, before he lets out a soft chuckle. “No, you didn’t worry me,” he lies, and though he knows Giorno sees right through it, Giorno does not prod. While his nerves have calmed, a new confusion stirs in his stomach.

Having never been in Giorno’s room before, Fugo takes a moment to bask in it while Giorno walks over to his desk. The walls are a deep red, and the bedspread is the same with golden embroidering. The plants around the room have no doubt been created with Gold Experience, and Fugo can’t help but wonder what the plants had been originally. Are they secrets hidden behind stand-created foliage, or are they mundane objects like paper clips that Giorno experimented on?

Giorno sits in his desk chair, one leg crossed over the other and his hands stacked on top of his knee. He must notice how Fugo lingers near the doorway, because he says, “You don’t have to be frightened.”

“I’m not.” This time, Fugo doesn’t lie. “I’m just… Why me?”

Giorno raises an eyebrow.

“I mean,” Fugo continues, “Why do you want my company?”

Giorno smiles, close-mouthed, before he speaks, “Because I like you.”

Fugo stares, disbelief clear in his gaze. Only a few people have ever said that to him in his life, and they’re all dead.

Giorno holds his stare, steady. “I wouldn’t lie to you.”

Throat tight, all Fugo can think to do is nod. He’s learned to take Giorno at his word, no matter how much his insides scream for him to tell Giorno he’s wrong.

“Do you want to sit?” Giorno asks, eyes flickering to the bed. Fugo follows his gaze and sits gingerly on the edge of the mattress. The comforter is smooth beneath his fingers.

It’s silent for some time, Fugo staring down at his lap and Giorno fidgeting with a pen in his hands. The silence is not uncomfortable, and Fugo’s grateful for such.

Eventually, Giorno speaks again. “Another reason I wanted your company,” he starts, not raising his head to meet Fugo’s gaze, “is that some nights are worse than others. I’m sure you understand what I mean.”

Fugo wishes he could see Giorno’s eyes, to try and decipher the emotion behind them. But even so, he understands more deeply than Giorno probably knows. On top of the loss of friends Fugo feels like a hole gaping in his chest, there’s something that goes back even further. Some nights Fugo can’t help scrubbing his skin in the shower until it’s raw and red, because he still feels dirty. He had told Bucciarati the barest details of what had happened to him at age thirteen, but not the rest of the team.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Fugo asks after another bout of silence, tearing himself from his thoughts. “Or would you rather be distracted?”

Giorno thinks for a long moment. “My stepfather used to hit me,” he says, finally lifting his head to look at Fugo. “Sometimes there’s a… residual, lingering fear that I feel. There’s not much more to say.”

The way Giorno’s voice shakes, just barely, shows that he’s downplaying his feelings, but Fugo would never force more out of Giorno than he’s willing to share.

“I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but you’ve gone through something similar, haven’t you?” Giorno asks, his voice soft. “You don’t have to answer.”

Something flares beneath Fugo’s skin, and before he knows it, he’s snapping: “Did Bucciarati tell you something?”

Giorno blinks, though he’s not quite taken aback. “No, he didn’t,” he answers calmly.

The anger retreats suddenly, as if it’s ashamed of itself, and Fugo murmurs, “I’m sorry.” Giorno looks on, his eyes understanding in a way Fugo’s not used to, in a way he’s not sure he’ll ever be used to. He breaks beneath the dim lighting of the room and tells Giorno what happened to him in university, only three years ago.

Even as he cries and chokes on his words, Fugo somehow feels accepted here, his fingers gripping tightly to the red comforter.

“Fugo,” Giorno says, “May I sit next to you?”

When Fugo nods, wiping at his eyes with the heels of his palms, Giorno stands from his desk chair and sits beside Fugo on the bed, a few centimeters between their legs. Fugo knows his eyes are a red, puffy disaster, but somehow he’s still surprised when he looks to Giorno and sees the gleam of tears in his eyes.

“Thank you,” Fugo says, letting out a deep, rattling breath, “for listening to me.”

“You don’t have to thank me for that,” Giorno responds.

“I feel like I should.”

Giorno nods, understanding. Always understanding. Fugo feels pulled to him as if connected by string.

“Would you mind…” Giorno pauses, as if unsure he should continue, before he rephrases: “May I braid your hair?”

Fugo swallows thickly, one of his hands immediately lifting to touch his own hair. He considers Giorno’s offer for a few moments before he says, “Yes, you may.”

Giorno’s smile is soft and kind, and Fugo wonders what he’s ever done to deserve any of this—any of Giorno’s forgiveness or his care. Giorno stands and takes his comb off of his desk before returning, settling himself criss-cross on the bed behind Fugo.

“May I touch you?” Giorno asks, and though the questions seem repetitive, Fugo appreciates them more than he can express.

He nods, and then he feels the comb glide through his hair, Giorno’s hand smoothing after it. He lets his eyes fall shut, relishing in the calm that has washed over his body.

“I don’t want you to think you have to bear anything alone,” Giorno speaks quietly as he continues to gently brush through Fugo’s hair. His words echo something he’s said to Fugo before: “If grief anchors your feet, then let me share it.

Fugo lets out a long breath. “You don’t have to, either.”

Though he can’t see Giorno’s face, Fugo feels the slight sad smile that pulls at the corners of his mouth. “Thank you,” he says.

And they fall back into quietness, Giorno running his fingers through Fugo’s hair before he separates it into sections and begins to braid. His fingers are careful, movements natural and smooth.

When Fugo feels Giorno begin to fasten a hair tie at the end of the braid, he begins to speak for fear of not being able to say it while face to face with Giorno: “You’re so kind to me,” he says, “Why? After everything I’ve… Giorno, why?”

Giorno’s hands pause, but after a moment the movement continues. “You deserve it, Fugo. You may not see it or believe it, but I do. You have a good heart; you care about the people around you, sometimes to a fault. And I can’t blame you for that.”

“But I—I can’t even begin to make up for what I’ve missed.”

“I can’t expect that of you. Truly, I don’t expect that of you. You have enough regret weighing on your shoulders already, Fugo. Why in the world would I want to give you more?” Giorno finishes the braid and moves to sit beside Fugo again, offering his hand, palm up. Fugo blinks down at it before taking it in his own, their fingers slotting together.

Feeling grounded, Fugo lets out a deep breath. He lets his head fall against Giorno’s shoulder, his eyes drooping shut as Giorno runs his thumb back and forth against the back of Fugo’s hand.

“Thank you,” Fugo says again, “I mean that. I’m glad you called for me tonight.”

“I’m glad, too.”

And, well, Giorno’s always been right: grief, regret, guilt, and so much more anchor Fugo’s feet. At times like this, though, he’s beginning to feel lighter.