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Begin Again

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Enrico Pucci is one week away from his 18th birthday when he turns up on the doorstep of a porn studio.

This wasn’t the plan, but the plan as he knew it is gone. Pucci had not planned for contingencies. Why would he? His path was simple and straightforward - four years at Saint John Vianney College Seminary, graduate to the ranks of the priesthood, take a position in a respectable church and begin to slowly and steadily move his way up within the church hierarchy, relying on his family name and his exemplary work to open the way to the Vatican. Pucci had the next eighty years of his life easily mapped and perhaps there was some understanding that it wouldn’t work out perfectly - perhaps he would never reach the Vatican, perhaps he would settle for teaching at a seminary. But he always planned to be a priest. He always planned on a future where his twin was dead and his sister was alive.

Now the reverse has happened and Pucci has found himself without a path. It seems this is what happens when you assist in a multiple-homicide crime.

There is a certain dark irony to be found in his end destination and he clings to that, and to the crumpled card he has held tight to for the last day. When the scantily dressed, hungover blonde man had asked his age months ago, extending an invitation for Pucci to visit him once he had reached the appropriate number, he had taken the business card simply to convince the man to leave without a fuss. The card, tawdry and garish, had been forgotten and stayed forgotten, lost in the pocket of a pair of pants he rarely wore.

Those pants are in the suitcase sitting beside him in the cab, along with anything else essential that Pucci had thought to grab and pack in his mad dash to escape the house. He’s already thought of a dozen things he left behind but it’s too late for any of them. They’ll stay there in his room, collecting dust just like Perla’s things will. Or perhaps mother and father will throw it away and tell everyone they were always a childless couple.

He hasn’t slept since he left home. Pucci feels as if he’s sleepwalking. When the cab stops, he pays an extravagant fee, handing over nearly the rest of the hard cash he left with. But that’s fine. He has things he can sell. He has something still worth money.

Pucci hauls his trunk out of the car and before he’s finished shutting the door, the cab is already pulling away, leaving Pucci standing in the shadow of a vast and ostentatious building. The style jars horribly with the rest of the surrounding buildings, terracotta and dusty brick amidst buildings of steel and glass. But then, so had Dio when Pucci met him in church, barely dressed and smelling of vodka.

He’s still fifty feet from the entrance and already the smell of this place is overwhelming, liquor and sweat and something else he has no name for but suspects must be lewd. Is that what cum smells like? If occurs to Pucci that he’ll likely know the answer to that by the time the day is over. He’s going to know it and he won’t be able to unknow it. He’s about to walk into a den of sin. What’s he even doing here? Did he really have nowhere else to go? His legs feel weak and his chest feels too tight, and he sits down on his trunk, his hands grasping at his shirt as he tries to make himself breathe in and out properly.

Oh God, he’s about to have a panic attack in front of a porn studio.

Pucci closes his eyes, grasping at anything to calm himself. Bible verses- no, no, those make it worse. He thinks about God and his heart spikes. What else? Numbers. Primes. A prime number is indivisible. A prime number is itself, unto itself, firm and unchanging as nothing else in nature ever is. A prime cannot be separated. A prime does not crumble into pieces.

He is a prime. He will not be divided.

Pucci’s breathing slowly evens out, and when he no longer feels terrified, he opens his eyes-

Only to find himself staring directly into another person’s face. He lurches back and tumbles off his suitcase, his back hitting the pavement. The other person - a small man with sharp features, follows Pucci down, looming over him. He blinks just once, very quickly, and then straightens back up. The man points to the open gate and with a few quick snaps of his fingers, motions for Pucci follow him in.

“Sorry…” Pucci scrambles to his feet, quickly grabbing his trunk and following him. The man ahead of him is quick, moving with a relentless energy, his head constantly swiveling to scan the area around them. As soon as Pucci steps in, the gate closes behind him and he finds himself walking through a lush courtyard. It looks like something out of Ben Hur rather than the rest of the city. “Excuse me, I’m looking for Dio? He gave me a business card a few months ago and invited me to come speak with him. Do I need to arrange an appointment?”

There’s no answer from the hawkish man. He simply marches into a building and Pucci follows.

It’s dark inside and cold, and Pucci can’t help but shiver a little. He squints, trying to make sense of things. He sees the shape of a dark hallway but the specifics are lost… He tries to follow the man, but he’s quicker than Pucci, clearly familiar. He goes ahead and Pucci’s left standing in the hall, trying to decide if he should follow or wait.

While he tries to wait for his eyes to adjust, he notices a bench of some kind in the hallway, and an unmanned desk. Is this the waiting room? It’s so dark. Pucci approaches the desk. The phone is off the hook, beeping furiously at nothing. There’s a computer and when he moves the mouse, the screen comes to life, finally giving out a little light. It’s on another porn site - not Dio’s studio, but one with a star logo. The content seems to be… well. Pucci glances away from it, feeling his cheek go pink. He knows he needs to get used to this sooner rather than later but…

Maybe after he finds out if he even has a job here, or what they’re willing to pay a virgin for his first time.

Pucci can’t seem to spot a bell or a list of who to call. He turns around and nearly jumps out of his skin as he finds the short man’s returned again, this time with a camera. He snaps his fingers furiously at Pucci and points towards the bench, clearly telling him to sit down. Pucci steps towards it, already apologizing again, “Sorry, I was just-”

Three steps in, he realizes something is off about the bench. What was nebulous before in the dim hallway is now a little easier to see with the computer screen’s light shining out, and he sees the way the ‘bench’ is shaped - the legs all wrong, with one side bent out and the other with a blanket flopped over the side.

Five steps in, he realizes that he’s been looking at it wrong. It’s not a blanket. That’s hair. That’s not a bent leg. Those are real legs, human legs, kneeling. The bench looks strange because it’s not a bench - it’s a man on his hands and knees, silently bent and bowed.

“Um-” Pucci says. He gets a shove from the cameraman. “Excuse me-”

The cameraman gestures. And when Pucci doesn’t sit down, he screams at him, loud and shrill. Pucci abandons his trunk and sits down automatically, just to stop the screaming. That works, and the hawkish man nods with a grim satisfaction before lifting the camera up and filming.

The ‘bench’ underneath Pucci is very warm and soft, and yet incredibly uncomfortable. He must be strong as well, because even with Pucci’s full weight on him, the bench-man doesn’t sag at all. He stays perfectly still, completely focused on his task. It’s unnerving…

“I- I need to speak with Dio. I have his card.” He fumbles in his pockets, drawing it out to show the cameraman. The hawkish man focuses in on the card and then pulls out again. One hand draws away from the camera and gestures for Pucci to continue speaking. Beneath Pucci, the human bench just breathes in and out steadily, otherwise unmoving. He takes a breath and he tries again, trying to be more firm. “Excuse me, but I need to speak with Dio. I need to discuss- rates.”

He stumbles a little. The bench lets out a soft noise - a sound of stress from holding him up? Or... a huff of laughter, maybe. Pucci sees his face reflected back at him from the camera lens. He looks young and scared.

That won’t do. He didn’t come crosscountry by himself just to falter here and lie as flat as a doormat. Pucci takes a breath and grasps on tight to the card. He looks the camera dead in the eye, and says the one thing he knows will surely make them bring Dio to him.

“I’m seventeen years old.”

That does it. The cameraman stops dead, yanks the camera away from his face, and screams right at Pucci. He’s not sure if it’s words coming out of him or just rage, but Pucci just balls his fists tight and refuses to budge or move. The man builds to a climax, screaming so loud that he’s sure everyone in the building must hear it, and then he throws his camera at the wall. The door opens and a woman sticks her head into the room. “Pet Shop, what the fuck?”

He screams at her too. Whatever he’s doing or saying, she seems just as confused as Pucci, judging from the look on her face. The man - Pet Shop - shoves by her and storms off. The woman shakes her head, her earrings jangling from the motion.

“Well, screw you too!” The girl steps into the office and looks at Pucci. She’s wearing a bikini and platform shoes, and she moves easily in them. Soon as she’s through the door, she strikes a pose, her hand going to her hip as she looks Pucci up and down. “What’s wrong, you lost?”

Pucci holds up the card. The bench underneath him answers, scaring the shit out of Pucci. He jumps, but the bench doesn’t budge, other than lifting his head and peering at the woman through his silver hair. “He wants to see Dio. He’s not legal.”

“Oh shit, you have to go. You gotta leave, we don’t do that stuff here.” She makes shooing motions at him, trying to scare Pucci off like he’s a wild raccoon. “Go on, get a job at a car wash or something.”

“I’m- I’ll be legal in a week, I just wanted Pet Shop to stop. I was invited by Dio. He gave me his card.” He holds it out to her and thankfully she actually does take it. Pucci also gets off the guy, feeling foolish for not doing that earlier. He should have gotten up the moment the camera man left. “I need to speak with him.”

“He’s shooting a scene with N’Doul right now, so you’re going to have to wait a while.” The woman flips the card between her fingers, raising an eyebrow at it. She sticks a hand out a moment later. “I’m Midler. The chair’s Vanilla. So, how’d you meet Dio? A hook-up?”

“Uh, no… Not quite.” Pucci grabs his trunk, taking the opportunity to look away and decide how much he was going to share with these two. While he supposed they would likely find out soon enough, he answer to ‘how much would he share’ was going to be ‘nothing for now’. The last thing he wants is for either of them to get the opportunity to laugh when they find out who Pucci was when Dio met him, and he doesn’t want to share the events of the last week with anyone right now. Pucci straightens out and holds his trunk in front of him like a shield. “He said that if I ever wanted a job, he would have work for me. I need a job.”

Midler looks him up and down again and something about her eyes is sharper this time, as if she’s evaluating and scoring him rather than just taking him in. “Yeah, you look like you’d be popular on the cams. As soon as you’re legal, we can get you in front of one. You brought your ID with you right? And a birth certificate? We need copies of everything. You’ve also got to sign a bunch of waivers, and Dio’s got a list you can read over and say what you will and won’t do so we can figure out where to put you.”

“I have all of my paperwork.” It and every other important document. Thankfully, his parents kept all of their family’s documents in his father’s study, and Pucci had been sure to grab anything with his name on it when he left. “Is there somewhere I can wait until Dio is… finished his work?”

“Yeah, you can sit in the breakroom. Follow me.” Midler heads back out of the room and down a hallway and Pucci follows, leaving Vanilla behind. He stays kneeling in the reception, his head falling back down to stare at the ground.

The rest of the studio is a little better lit, though still fairly dark. There are closed doors on the sides of the halls, some with light coming from underneath them, some with sounds. The noises are lewd, a mix of female and male voices and his face flushes as he hears them, trying to hurry after Midler. Thankfully, she talks as they walk and he can focus on her and not on the moaning.

“Did Dio tell you what to expect working for him? You can cam which is pretty easy, since you can do it here or from your own home, but you should totally do it here because everything’s already set up in the rooms and you don’t have to buy a bunch of toys or props. You can work as long as you want on the cams but you shouldn’t go more than four hours when you start. There’s also the site and Dio will want to get you in clips right away. You get a flat rate for those, paid upfront whether it sells or not, so if you’re looking for quick money, you can do a handful of those. You think you’re going to stick around?”

“I haven’t decided yet. I just need some money right now.” A lot of money, enough to set up his new life. And… he wants to burn away the last shreds of his old life. Pucci needs to become someone else entirely, the kind of person who never had a sister or a family or a future ahead of him within the church. He wants to set fire to his celibacy in a way that means he can never return to it.

Midler gives him a look like she’s about to lecture him on there being easier ways to get money, or less lewd ways. Instead, she just smirks. “You’ll make that easy. Dio’s going to have a bunch of stuff to pitch. You have any practice in anything? You should tell Dio what you’re good at, and he’ll pair you up. If you want, I can show you the ropes.”

“Ah… thank you but…” His face is already flushed and he’s growing more and more nervous the deeper they walk into the studio, but at least here he’s able to keep his voice firm, if also somewhat apologetic. “I think Dio will be interested in doing that with me.”

“Dio’s interested in doing that with everybody. But he can be-” She pauses noticeably, clearly searching for a word other than whatever’s come to mind first. Midler settles on an obvious understatement. “Intense. You’re real femme, I bet I can talk Hol into being sweet with you. He’s great, a real nice guy and a soft touch too. He’s a huge liar too but that doesn’t matter too much. Just don’t ever make plans with him or he’ll call you ten minutes before to cancel on you with some bullshit excuse. Here we are!”

Midler steps through a door near the end of the hall. It’s the best lit room he’s seen so far. There are a pair of couches and an armchair, a coffee table cluttered with open cans and mostly empty beer bottles, a fridge tucked in the corner, and a muted TV playing the news. There’s a man sitting on one couch with a 3Ds in his hands. He’s wearing a pair of pink briefs and an open bathrobe, his hair put up in a wrap. The man doesn’t look up from his game, hammering the A button with his thumb.

“So you can just hang out here. When Dio’s out of his shoot, I’ll tell him you’re around.” Midler walks by the couch and pats the man on the head. “This is Telence, he’s a nerd. Telence, this is-”

“Pucci.” He nods to Telence, who glances away very briefly from his game to shoot Pucci a smile, his eyes immediately wrenching back to the screen. Pucci sets his trunk down by the armchair and after a moment’s hesitation, he sits down in it. Midler seems pleased and she gives him a pat on the shoulder.

“Help yourself to whatever’s in the fridge, except my wildberry coolers. If you touch those, I’ll pound the empty bottles straight up your ass.” She says that in the same sweet voice she used for the rest and Pucci waivers, unsure if this is a joke or not. Midler doesn’t laugh at it or say she’s kidding. She just walks past Telence and gives his hair a swat, knocking it down.

“Hey!” He yells at her, never glancing away from the screen of his game, though he does jerk his head back to get his hair out of his face. Telence goes right back to hammering the A button. Pucci rests his hands on his lap and… he waits.

He supposes he could get a drink but he’s not sure if he should after all. And, he could turn up the TV, but he assumes it’s muted for a reason as well. Pucci purses his lips, turning over conversation topics and just as easily dismissing them. Telence seems quite busy and uninterested in a conversation. And truth told, Pucci doesn’t want to chat with anyone who isn’t Dio. He needs to speak with him… He needs to hear from Dio’s own mouth that Pucci made the right choice to come here, and that he hasn’t thrown away his future entirely by grasping onto an offer made six months ago. Maybe Dio wasn’t even sincere in it. Maybe he’s come all this way for nothing-

No. He’s afraid but he wasn’t wrong to come here. Even if the offer was made in jest, Pucci is certain Dio will hire him for at least one film. He’s a virgin, that has to be worth something. That has to be enough to pay him the money he needs to set up an apartment somewhere and find some kind of job. Whatever it takes, he’ll do it. He’s come too far to back down now…

Pucci reaches for his trunk and opens it, sorting through his items to find the few books he packed. He chooses one that looks the most distracting and he settles in with it, trying to do just that. Even as his eyes slip over the pages, he forces himself to at least pretend to read. It’s something to keep his hands busy with, and he doesn’t feel quite so awkward sitting silently near the partly-naked Telence. Pucci is beginning to feel very overdressed. He had even carefully picked something less conservative to wear to the studio, but it seems anything with more layers than ‘underwear’ was overdressed.

He stares at the page. Nothing is sinking in… There’s just the doubts crowding at the back of his mind. If he listens, he can hear far off sounds - people speaking, a woman laughing, and- noises. A number of fairly loud and lewd noises, one familiar voice among them, though when Pucci spoke to him last, Dio had not been moaning in pleasure. His voice is the same timber though and his face goes red as he realizes he can’t tune out the sounds of Dio, nor can he easily dismiss the mental images coming into his mind. Pucci’s mind is all too happy to imagine the kind of acts Dio must be engaging in, something lewd and leering, the kind of thing found in the books Pucci reads…

The door to the lounge opens and Pucci glances up from his book. The most clothed man Pucci’s seen since he left the taxi strolls in, wearing pants and a long-sleeved shirt. It’s still revealing, the neckline dipping down low in a V, but it looks like something he would expect to see someone wearing outside in L.A. “Why isn’t the A/C on? It’s fucking hot out. How many times do I have to tell Enya to leave it on?”

“Take your sweater off.” Telence doesn’t even look up. He cranks up the volume on his game instead, the cheerful 8-bit music drowning everything else out.

“I shouldn’t have to take my clothes off, just because you’re all a bunch of nudists.” The man pauses, his eyes glancing at Pucci as he seems to realize he’s here. He smiles broadly at Pucci, a fairly unpleasant look on his otherwise handsome face, and he sits on the side of the armchair. “Except for you. I haven’t seen you around before. You the new twink?”

“Ah, hello.” Pucci isn’t really sure how to answer him. “I haven’t been hired yet. I’m waiting to meet with Dio once he’s free. My name’s Pucci.”

“Dan.” He offers a hand and Pucci reaches up to shake it. As soon as their hands touch, Dan tightens his grip and slides off the arm of the chair, sitting himself in Pucci’s lap and using his weight to hold him still. His legs are trapped and Dan easily snatches up Pucci’s other hand, knocking the book out of it and pinning both wrists down. Pucci’s face heats up, but he can’t help but notice the otherwise fairly cold way Dan seems to evaluate Pucci, clearly looking for something beyond the obvious surface reaction. From the way he smiles, he seems to find it. “As soon as you sign the paperwork, I’m going to put you on camera and break you into little pieces. You’re going to look so pretty when you’re crying everywhere.”

Oh… God. Pucci flushes harder, sinking down in the chair. Dan just leans on in, advancing through Pucci’s too-quickly-yielded personal space. “That- no, I don’t think that’s what I’m… interested in doing.”

That grin doesn’t waiver from Dan’s face. His hands squeeze Pucci’s wrists and he finally stops leaning in, inches from Pucci’s face. “Yeah it is. Look at you. You’re not even fighting back. You just rolled right over and showed me your belly. You want to be my dog?”

He doesn’t. And yet, he’s right - Pucci didn’t fight back. But part of that is because he didn’t exactly expect for someone to crawl right into his lap and pin him down. That can hardly be an unreasonable reaction when someone’s surprised. He pulls out the same big gun he used earlier to break up the scene with Pet Shop and Vanilla. “I’m still seventeen.”

Dan pauses, his smirk falling away as he quickly thinks that over. Pucci starts to wiggle his hands free but as soon as he starts moving, Dan just tugs Pucci forward. Their heads nearly smack together but Pucci manages to turn his aside in time, yanking it to the right. The sound of Telence’s gameboy stops and all Pucci can focus on is the way his heart hammers in his chest. Dan presses his mouth against Pucci’s ear, speaking directly into it. “We won’t use the camera the first time. You look like you could use a practice run- ack!”

The weight on him is suddenly lifted as Dan is promptly yanked out of Pucci’s lap. Telence has a grip on Dan’s long hair and he easily topples him, dropping him to the floor like a sack of potatoes. The look on Telence’s face is a serene one, reminding Pucci a lot of the head waiters at the restaurant's his parents prepared to take the family to. “My deepest apologies for his behaviour. Dan doesn’t understand things like ‘decency’, or ‘lawsuits’. Here, let’s find you somewhere else to wait.”

Telence walks over Dan as if he’s a rug, picking up Pucci’s trunk and motioning for Pucci to follow. He does, quickly leaving the room behind.

“Sorry for not speaking with you earlier but when I game, I get into ‘the zone’.” He lifts one hand, making air quotations. “And I don’t like to be disturbed. It’s a gamer thing. I don’t suppose you play anything?”

“No, not really…” Pucci has a few puzzle games on his phone he sometimes plays but he suspects they don’t really count as a proper game. When he was younger, he played a few games at people’s houses but… nothing he could really count as regular enough to matter either, just things like Mario Party or the racing game. He tries to find something to share that might be appropriate… “The youth ministry had a computer with a few games on it. Occasionally, I was roped into playing Guitar Praise when there were a few of us around and it got rowdy.”

“Guitar Praise?” Telence frowns, clearly racking his brain. “I’ve never heard of it.”

“It was a Christian-themed version of Guitar Hero.” Pucci says and he can see the way Telence’s eyes change as he looks at Pucci and everything clicks together. He carries on, not letting the conversation open down that particular alleyway yet. “There was also Axys, but I never played that one. I’m told it was like Legend of Zelda.”

“Which Zelda? Link to the Past? Ocarina of Time? Was it 2D or 3D? When did it come out?” Telence seems fairly distracted by the game and Pucci tries to give what details he can remember from the few times he passed by others playing the game.

They head upstairs, through more darkly lit rooms. There are candles everywhere, though when they pass close to a cluster, Pucci can see more clearly that they’re really just LED lights mimicking flames. Someone has made the… interesting decor choice to combine Victorian England castle aesthetics with pseudo-Egyptian architecture, and all of that serves as a wrapper around ultra-modern porn sets. Though in the upstairs hall, the rooms seem to be more like little apartments that have been retrofitted in. There are nameplates on a few, little touches of personality here and there. His eyes slide over a scribbled out list on one door, wondering if it’s popular to vandalize each other’s doors.

“Do people live here?” Pucci asks as they walk past a door covered with a bunch of purple and yellow hearts. The nameplate says MIDLER, and someone had come by with a sharpie and drawn a crude little version of her face winking and sticking her tongue out, a few little stars protruding from her head. The same person, or another person, has drawn a frowning Vanilla Ice with NO STARS!!! coming from a speech bubble. “Or, are they change rooms?”

“Both. Most of the ‘regular’s live here permanently. You can choose to live elsewhere if you want, but it’s cheaper to stay here than to pay rent on some of the matchboxes they try to charge rent for. You should get Mariah to show you pictures of the place she lived in before here. I can’t believe it was legal.” Telence pauses for a moment, setting down Pucci’s trunk. “What do you have in here?”

“Ah, sorry, there are books in it. If it’s too heavy, I can take it back.” Pucci reaches for it but Telence waves him off.

“If it’s too heavy for me, it would be far too heavy for you. I just need to take a moment.” Telence leans against the wall and looks Pucci up and down, taking him in fully. “Pardon me if this comes off as a little too preachy, but… are you fighting with your parents?”

That would be an understatement. And Pucci can’t help but laugh a little, raising an eyebrow. “Are you going to talk me out of this?”

“If you want to be here, then you should be here. I think you’ll do fine and be very appealing to our fanbase. But, if you’re here to get revenge on your family, or the youth ministry, then I would gently recommend you try something else first.” He’s so calm about it and it just makes Pucci’s eyebrow rise up higher. Telence waves a hand at Pucci. “I don’t say this because I’m particularly worried about you. But people like you join the industry when they’re angry and they regret it once cooler heads prevail. And then they go on to tell their story and it gets repeated, and I’m quite tired of constantly being told the same story over and over again. So, unless you are certain, you should really try something else first. If you’re from a religious household, I would suggest you try living a little first. Play a game that doesn’t have ‘praise’ or ‘God’ in the title, meet some people whose interests are varied.”

It’s kind of him, even if perhaps the reason he and Midler both tried to push Pucci away was one of self-interest rather than of any genuine sense of worry about Pucci’s well-being. But- “Thank you for your advice but it’s unnecessary. I’ve made up my mind.”

“Of course.” His tone is passive and though Pucci listens for doubt, he doesn’t find it. Telence flexes his hand and straightens up, taking hold of Pucci’s trunk and bringing it with him. “Dio will be able to answer any other questions you might have about how our studio functions. Have you see any of our films?”

“I… watched a few on the way over.” Pucci’s face colours. He watched snippets, or what he could stand to look at on the various clip-sites he had come across. Pucci didn’t consider himself a wilting flower - he had been a fan of challenging material for quite some time and a lot of that was often tawdry or lewd. But that was usually lewd with a purpose of some kind. The sex was meant to explore some facet of the book or characters, or served a plot purpose. Even in the instances where it was meant to titillate, Pucci had never found himself flustered by it. Seeing someone who he had previously met get fucked in full-colour with sound was… Well. In books, his imagination was his only limit, and it seems that though he could imagine any number of agonizing events, the actual physical components of sex had perhaps been glossed over into a tangle of sweaty limbs rather than the very, very graphic and mechanical act he had watched Dio perform with an anonymous male in the video.

Telence makes a face but he doesn’t bother Pucci with more questions about if he’s sure or not. “You should visit our site and read through the categories, get a feeling for the kind of work Dio expects. Most of us cam daily-”

“Telence!” One of the doors swings open and a shirtless cowboy pops his head out. “You seen Nena around? She’s- oh, howdy.” He tips his hand and quickly extends a hand out to Pucci. “Hol Horse, nice to meet you. You new? Where they putting you? The room beside mine’s open.”

“Hello. I’m Pucci.” He shakes Hol Horse’s hand, not bothering to answer the other questions since he doesn’t have any answers. Behind Hol, he can see a bit of his room. It’s a pigsty, all the sheets and blankets crammed in a ball on the end of his bed and what appears to be a plate with crackers and a tin of SPAM sitting on the mattress. Dear God… “I’m waiting to meet with Dio.”

“That’s going to take forever, he’s fucking N’Doul right now and they go hard.” Hol glances over at Telence again. “So? She ain’t answering her phone, and I know it was working a few hours ago so it ain’t like she changed numbers again.”

“She should be downstairs, it was her turn to work the front desk.” Telence lets out an irritated sigh. “Which means she’s left the building and nobody’s watching the desk. Fuck.”

“Aw hell. I guess somebody’s got to go down there and do that.” Hol crosses his arms over his chest and notably does not offer. Telence also does not and Pucci finds himself caught between what seems to be a steadily escalating staredown.

Oh joy. Pucci tries to wait it out, but as he shifts from foot to foot, he realizes there’s already a solution. “Vanilla Ice was downstairs when I came in. He’s… busy being a bench.”

Neither Telence or Hol seem terribly surprised to hear that, just nodding to one another. “Oh that’s fine then, he’ll deal with deliveries or whatever else rolls in.”

“Just as long as someone’s there to serve as security, that’s fine. If you hear from Nena, do let me know. I might have a few words with her about neglecting desk duty, again.” Telence picks up Pucci’s suitcase and gets moving again. Pucci gives Hol a nod and follows along after Telence.

“Uh, hey. So. Where you taking him?” Hol asks and edges out of his room. “Like I said, room next to mine is open.”

“Pucci’s waiting to meet Dio first.” Telence reminds him, then his head ticks towards downstairs. “He was in the lounge, but lover-boy showed up.”

Hol’s face scrunches up. “Oh. I didn’t even know he was on the schedule today. You can’t leave him out in the open.”

“No shit.” Telence stops, giving a sigh as he sets the trunk down. “Hol, this is heavy, I want to get it to my room before I wrench something.”

“Here, lemme help.” Hol quickly abandons his room and his ‘snack’ of SPAM and crackers behind. He easily picks up Pucci’s trunk, giving them both a big grin. “Holy shit, how'd you get it this far on your own Telence? This is heavy son of a bitchl. And how’d you even drag it around?” That’s directed at Pucci.

The answer is fairly obvious. “I was in a car most of the way, and I took breaks when I wasn’t.”

“Y’all need one with wheels on it.” Hol happily carries the trunk to the end of the hallway. There’s a pair of doors facing each other, one covered in stickers and hearts and drawings, and the other a plain, unblemished white that’s clearly been painted over multiple times. On the marked door is Telence’s name. On the unmarked door, Vanilla Ice. “Get the door, Telly.”

Telence gets the door. The room inside is fairly neat and tidy, and crammed fully of cameras and computers and game consoles. There’s stuff Pucci doesn’t recognize on the floor, big things with lots of neatly curled up cords. It’s a fairly impressive set-up. There’s a large TV and a dozen different game consoles on a shelf, clearly waiting to be picked out and set-up as necessary. The computer in the corner has three monitors and Pucci honestly has to just stop and look at it, half-expecting it to be a joke. But no, it looks completely real.

Hol drops the trunk on the floor and sits on Telence’s bed, sprawling out in a way that makes it clear that he’s been on it plenty of times before. Telence rolls his eyes at Hol but quickly gives Pucci another of those pleasant smiles. “Take a seat wherever you’d like.”

Pucci quickly takes the chair by the computer. It’s nice if a bit… ridiculous, honestly. It’s black leather with red panels, and it seems to have been designed with the specific intention of making a person feel like they’re in a science fiction movie. Mostly, Pucci feels like he’s wandered onto the seat of a bad sci-fi porno… which, in hindsight, is possibly true. He sets his hands in his lap and laces his fingers together, trying to decide what he should do. Is it normal to ask questions of your possible future co-workers?

But what would he even ask that won’t betray how embarrassingly inadequate his experience is? The last thing Pucci wants is for them to look at him and see him as he is - young and afraid and possibly making the largest mistake of his life.

Telence turns on the TV and starts fussing with cables and consoles, setting up an xbox. He turns it on and sits in front of it, messing with a controller as he sets things up. Pucci can barely keep up with how quickly Telence moves through the menus, launching a game easily. He tosses a controller to Hol and then offers one to Pucci.

“I’ll watch for a while.” Pucci attempts to gently debuff the offer, not wanting to be rude but also not wanting to spend the next hour or so humiliating himself in front of these two.

“Aw, c’mon, you can’t be any worse than me. You’re the right age to know how to play these ones. When I was a kid, they only had this stuff in arcades.” Hol says, which Pucci is fairly sure can’t be right because he looks older but… not that old.

“Hol’s terrible. You can’t possibly be worse than him.” Telence keeps the controller extended. It seems like he doesn’t have much of a choice. He rolls the chair closer to take it and prepares himself for something that likely has guns in it.

He’s wrong - there are no guns at all. There are plenty of axes and swords though. Telence is right though - Hol is terrible. Pucci doesn’t think he’s particularly good, but nor is he particularly bad either, managing to at least kill the on-screen enemies on a regular basis. Telence is very good at it, and Hol spends most of his time dying. Their little crusaders get through a handful of levels before Hol stretches out a leg, giving Telence’s back a shove. “You got any beers?”

“Go look in the fridge. Bring me a Dew. You want anything Pucci?” Telence doesn’t look away from the screen once. Hol’s dead knight is lying on the ground and both Pucci and Telence have given up on reviving him until the screen is cleared.

“Water would be good.” Pucci answers automatically. Though… he supposes he should attempt to ask for something else. He’s playing video games and waiting to speak to the owner of a porn studio. “Or a diet soda.”

“Sure, I’ll grab you a coke.” Hol shifts off the bed and shuffles out, leaving Telence and Pucci to play alone. Telence reaches back and snags Hol’s controller, reviving him just in time for them to advance along the path the green arrow points.

There’s nothing but the sound of the game. It’s not that bad… Pucci’s still not very good at this, but there’s something about the mindlessness of it that helps. It’s a distraction that has no end to it, just enemies and then the blinking arrow pushing them on. He taps the buttons and tries not to die.

He wonders for a moment if Wes played video games.

Pucci’s knight dies on screen. Telence is busy and Hol’s character is still idling up in the corner, occasionally getting poked by the few enemies that get through Telence’s guard. Pucci just looks at the screen and feels the anxiety welling up inside of him again. Breathe. Just calm down. Don’t break down now. It won’t be much longer. He just has to make it through this, and he can get his money and be someone new, someone who was never meant to be a priest or had a sister and a twin brother, who isn’t a murderer-

The hand on his shoulder startles him and Pucci jerks his head up, staring at Telence. He’s not playing the game anymore. He’s not sitting on the floor either. Pucci must have- he must have stopped paying attention. The game’s even paused. He flushes and ducks his head. “Sorry, I- was distracted. Perhaps you would be better off playing without me.”

Telence just looks at Pucci, staring at him until Pucci feels even more uncomfortable. He’s not sure if he’s about to get a lecture or if Telence is going to try tell Pucci to leave. Pucci won’t. He’ll leave this room, but he won’t leave the building until he speaks with Dio. He needs to be heard by him. He came out all this way to see Dio.

Even as he’s trying to steel himself for that, Telence is already moving, stepping around Pucci and going over to his desk. He opens the drawer, the inside as organized and tidy as the rest of the room, and pulls out a small box. Telence barely looks at Pucci as he walks over, settling down on the floor again. There’s a bunch of bottles full of liquid and a chunky pen that Telence quickly unscrews. “Do you like Fruit Loops?”

That throws Pucci for a loop. Of all the questions to expect, that wasn’t anywhere on the list of them. “I don’t mind them?”

“Good.” Telence fills the pen up from a pair of bottles, one plain and the other bright and colourful. He’s quick about it, clearly well-practiced. Or maybe it’s just the video games that have left him so dexterous. At any rate, he screws the pen back together and puts it in his mouth, pressing the button on the side and sucking-

Oh my God it’s a vape. Pucci feels like an idiot for not realizing it earlier. It’s a vape, which means that likely is marijuana, because this is California and he’s sitting in a porn studio and it couldn’t possibly be anything else. Pucci just stares at Telence as he takes a hit, and keeps on staring as Telence offers the pen to him. “Uh…”

“You need to relax. Just take a hit.” He waggles it at Pucci. “It tastes just like cereal and milk. Then, when you meet with Dio, you won’t have a panic attack the moment he starts asking questions.”

Pucci hasn’t ever smoked. Though, it’s not because he’s entirely opposed to it. Rather, Pucci has never had the opportunity presented to him before. His friends at school tended to be like him, and everyone else he knew through the church and youth ministry would have never done this. It’s not that he had to ever say no to anyone. Nobody ever offered to him, until now.

He licks his lips and he quickly does some mental math. Getting high is a terrible idea. Pot reacts poorly with some people and he has no idea if he’s one of them or not. He has to go to a business meeting in a bit. That business meeting involves Pucci selling his body for money. It’s a bad idea to do drugs with strangers. Everyone Pucci knows is a stranger, and anyway, he may be working with Telence in the near future. But what better way to break away from his old life? And what could the harm really be in a single hit?

Pucci takes it and mimics what Telence just did. It’s… weird. The smoke - the vapor - tastes a lot like fruit loops in milk, though maybe that’s what he thinks it should taste like because Telence told him it would. His lungs tickle and he lets out a small cough, but it isn’t the lung-hacking disaster he expects to see in film. Pucci licks his lips and after half a second of waffling, he takes another hit and passes the vape back.

So far he can’t feel any difference, other than the sweet aftertaste in his mouth. Telence gives him a pleased smile and has another hit.

The door opens as Hol comes in, a pair of cans tucked under one arm and a bottle of water in his hands. He frowns a little when he sees Telence’s vape, then perks right up. “Aw hell, I wasn’t going to do that today, but might as well. You going to share or do I need to get my own.”

“I’ll share this time.” Telence offers the pen to Hol, who trades Telence his Mountain Dew for it. Hol tosses the bottle of water to Pucci and tucks the pen in his mouth, taking a hit off of it as he sits on the bed. He makes a face and exhales. Telence catches the look on Hol’s face and shoots him one in return. “Unless you’re going to whine about the flavour, which is fine.”

“I don’t got a problem with you smoking this shit if you want your mouth to taste like candy.” Still, even with his bitching, Hol takes a few more hits, cracking his beer open with his free hand. He settles back in, gesturing at Pucci with the pipe. “What about you? Got a sweet tooth like him, or are you more reasonable?”

“I’m not much for sweets.” Pucci doesn’t bother to elaborate. He’s still waiting to see when ‘it’ hits. Which… hasn’t happened yet. Eighteen years of anti-drug PSAs has failed him. He hardly feels like doing anything terrible, much less ill-advised. Pucci doesn’t want to ask how long it should take to affect him. He’s already feeling a little silly. And so, when Hol offers the pen to Pucci again, he takes another hit off of it, hoping maybe this will be the one that works.

It isn’t, though to be fair, Pucci isn’t entirely certain when it does start working. He mostly listens to Hol talk on and on about stuff, filling Pucci in on the studio’s inhabitants and what they do, all while he and Pucci both watch Telence play this soothing and strange game about flying around as a flower. By the time Pucci has an inkling that he’s in an altered state, he’s already started to slouch down in Telence’s chair and everything feels very soft and very warm. It’s not like any descriptions he’s had. There are no hallucinations and he’s well aware nothing in the room is trying to speak to him, consume him, or otherwise interact with Pucci.

Instead, he finds himself all too aware of the texture of things. The chair is smooth and plush under his ass. His shirt is soft and warm, his hand smoothing over it now and then. He knows it’s the same shirt he put on yesterday, and yet somehow today, it feels like something new and strange. If he closed his eyes, he wouldn’t be able to know what material this is. He would be dependent on his other senses. Could his hands tell him what his eyes fail to convey? If he touched his shirt, would he know it was his shirt, or would he mistake it for another’s?

“Oh.” Pucci realizes a moment later. Those thoughts are weird. Is he high? This seems disappointing. He was expecting more. When he looks at his hands, they look normal and everything feels mostly normal… Well. His anxiety seems to be lessened. And he’s just more aware of what his hands are resting on. He idly strokes his fingertips along his pants, skirting over the mostly smooth material. Pucci’s fingers catch a little now and then on- he’s not sure what. It’s not threads. Something about the surface itself is rough.

Hol’s still on the bed, though he’s shifted so he’s lying on his belly and hanging an arm off of it. He’s fiddling with Telence’s hair and Telence hardly seems to even notice. Telence is focused on the game, occasionally pausing to drink and say something to Hol. If it weren’t for them both being partly/mostly naked, Pucci could mistake this for something entirely ordinary, just hanging out in someone’s bedroom. Except Hol’s too old to be in high school and Telence has to be in his early twenties, and Pucci’s few experiences hanging out with people were never quite like this, though this feels more normal than most things he grew up with.

It’s nice though… If this is what it’s like to be at a porn studio, maybe he can stomach it for longer than he expected? Right now, the one thing he wants in the world is to completely cut ties with who he used to be. Pucci was never the kind of person to get high or hang out with strangers, or play video games, or do any of this. And so far, he’s finding that he doesn’t mind it entirely. At least, not in small doses.

The door slams open and Pucci jumps. Neither Telence or Hol react to the loud arrival, clearly used to it. Hol raises a hand. “Hey Dio.”

Telence pauses his game and turns away from the TV, getting to his feet. “Dio, we have a visitor here to see you. This is-”

“Enrico Pucci.” Dio remembers him. Dio is naked. Oh my God. Dio is technically not naked, because he’s in a golden silken robe, but the robe is untied and his fully erect cock is hanging out of it and Pucci is fairly certain this is the the same thing as being naked. Even Telence has shorts on under his robe. Dio’s cock isn’t being constrained by anything and Pucci has to fight to tear his eyes away from it, and up to Dio’s very pleased face.

“Um-” Pucci wasn’t sure Dio would remember him. He had a full introduction planned. But that was all planned when he was sober and also when Dio wouldn’t know him. Pucci stands and finds his legs are a little warm and wobbly. “Dio, hi. Hello. I still have your business card. I-. You offered me a job and-”

Pucci’s stumbling through what he needs to say when Dio sweeps into the room, his smile even larger than when he stood in the doorway. All Pucci can do is just stand still and watch as Dio approaches and pulls Pucci into his arms, embracing him like they’re age old friends, and not like they met only once before, and that most of their exchange had been Dio asking cryptic questions about gravity.

Dio’s chest is broad and Pucci finds himself engulfed by his arms, shadowed by Dio’s very presence. Or at least, it feels that way. It probably isn’t that bad. Dio smells musky and like the same scent from outside. Is that cum? Oh my God it is. It is. So now he knows what cum smells like. Dio’s hands are on Pucci’s back and they’re squeezing him, and Dio just looks unbelievably pleased.

“I knew you would come.” He says simply and then he’s hugging Pucci again. Dio’s erection is digging into Pucci’s stomach. There’s no way to escape it. Pucci doesn’t even want to risk squirming away. His face is so hot and he’s not sure if it’s because Dio’s being so- so sexual, or because Pucci’s high (and he is, he absolutely is and he shouldn’t have taken so many hits, he’s such an idiot). Dio pulls back and he pauses, his smile fading. He doesn’t turn away from Pucci. “Telence, Hol, I need you to leave.”

“Aw c’mon, this is Telly’s room, don’t kick him out.” Hol starts and he’s quickly shushed by Telence. Pucci can’t see either of them around Dio’s chest, but he hears them moving. “It was nice meeting you Pucci. I know this great lil’ bar just a few blocks off-”

“He’s seventeen Hol.” Telence says, though Pucci gets the feeling it’s for Dio’s benefit too. “I’ll be downstairs, covering the front desk.”

Dio nods. His eyes stay on Pucci and all Pucci can do is look back at him. Dio’s got the most striking gold eyes Pucci’s ever seen. He’s still not sure if they’re contacts or somehow real. He has no idea what is or isn’t real about Dio. God, he came this far, he came across the country chasing an address on a business card and an invitation made six months ago, and now he’s actually here in front of Dio.

“I need a job. I don’t have any experience. I’m- I’m a virgin, so if that would be- if you can sell that-” Pucci’s practiced this in his mind. It always came out very smooth and adult - he’s looking for work, he wants to sell his virginity and would like to know what contracts entail, what the payment would be like, how much is up front. But now he’s trying to actually say it and he sounds like an idiot, stumbling over his words and sounding like he’s a moron who’s never strung two words together. For God’s sake, he’s a good orator. He’s given speeches and practiced sermons. If he was going to turn into this kind of a speaker, then it’s for the best he can’t ever be a priest.

Not that they let murderers become priests.

Dio’s hands are on his back, stroking and touching him. Pucci chokes on his next words, and he feels his eyes water up, and God, oh dear God, he’s crying in front of him. How pathetic. How disgusting. Pucci’s made it this far, only to break down and make an ass of himself in front of Dio. He can’t manage to look at Dio, barely getting his voice together enough to say, “I’m sorry.”

So much for doing well on the interview. Still, Dio says nothing. He just pulls Pucci closer to him, and Pucci ends up leaning right up against him. His face is red and he feels so embarrassed with himself. And then- then Dio sets a hand on the back of Pucci’s head and coaxes Pucci into setting his head on Dio’s chest. It’s both the most humiliating moment of Pucci’s life, and also somehow the only nice thing that’s happened to him this week.

He gives up on attempting to hold onto any shred of dignity and lets himself cry. Pucci’s held it in since they took Perla’s body from him. He had wished she had been bleeding so he could have kept her blood on his hands, proof of his deeds, but she had been clean from the river waters, her flesh cold to the touch. She had looked like she was sleeping - except that was a lie. Perla hadn’t looked like she was sleeping at all. She had looked dead, and it had been because of him. If he hadn’t found out about Wes, if he hadn’t spoken to the detectives-

Pucci closes his eyes and fights to regain control. He closes his eyes and his mouth moves as he counts under his breath. Take a list of numbers, two to fifty. Look at the first number. It’s a two. So, starting after that, cross off every second number - four, six, eight, ten and so on. There go the evens. Now, to the odds. Next number is three. Cross out every third number after the three - the six, the nine, the twelve and so on. There go odds divisible by three. Now after that, the five. Two and three have already been through so it’s further and farther apart and he passes by the marked ten, fifteen and twenty, stopping to mark off, twenty-five and thirty five, while passing the others, all already marked off in his mind. To the sixth number-

When he’s done, there’s a small bunch of primes in his mind to grasp onto. Pucci takes a deep breath and another, and he feels his heart start to slow again. His face is wet but he raises it, and though he’s flushed, he’s not longer too humiliated to speak.

“My apologies. It’s been a stressful trip. I’m in need of employment. I will not be pursuing my previous career plans and I need a way to make money quickly. As I was saying, I still have no experience and I’m a virgin. I spoke with Midler on the way in and she mentioned that I could ‘cam’. I have another week to go until I’m legal but I’ve brought my birth certificate and any other paperwork I could think you would need and I’m willing to do what you require to set things up legally. Of course, if you require me to sign a contract, I would like time to read over. And I would like an explanation of how payment works for this kind of work.” Pucci had googled a little to know how it worked, and to get an idea of industry rates, but the information had been hard to sort through. But, now that he had finished embarrassing himself, he could focus on the work ahead, and he could sort that out properly.

Dio’s hands shift from Pucci’s back, curving along his sides and then resting on Pucci’s hips. There’s a little wet spot on Dio’s chest where Pucci’s face was pressed. The rest of Dio is naked and still - still! - rock hard. Pucci can feel the heat creeping out of his face and down his chest, spreading out. God help him…

“Of course. I would be more than happy to sign you the moment you turn 18. I can explain the business to you tomorrow. But, for now-” He gives Pucci a squeeze and looks at him in a way that has Pucci’s knees going weak. He’s so handsome. Pucci hadn’t thought much about Dio after their encounter in the church, but now that he’s in front of him, all he can do is focus on how handsome he is. Especially when he’s not hungover and peering at Pucci through bloodshot eyes. “When did you last eat or sleep?”

“I…” Pucci doesn’t know. He stops and tries to think is out. It’s been at least a day without sleep. And the last time he had an appetite- “I’m not hungry. I- I can’t eat. I haven’t slept in a while.”

“The bags under your eyes are bigger than your trunk. You should sleep, and when you wake up, we’ll discuss business.” Dio’s arm slips around Pucci’s waist and pulls him forward, out of Telence’s room. He easily guides him down the hallway and up another set of stairs, taking Pucci to the third floor.

It’s dark up here, even darker than the rest. He feels as if he might trip at any moment, but nothing catches his feet and if there are any obstacles, Dio easily guides Pucci around them, his hand tugging him left or right. The hard stone floor is replaced with something soft - carpet, though Pucci can’t see what color or how plus - and the darkness gives way to a shifting hue of lights.

The room full of coloured lights is obviously a bedroom. A large king-sized bed sits against the far wall, the canopy shifting colours under the cycling lights. Around the room are various pieces of furniture - chairs, small tables, some kind of pommel horse, and a swing that Pucci knows can only be some kind of sexual thing. It smells weird in here, but not unpleasantly so. It smells… very much like Dio.

It’s also the tackiest thing he’s ever seen in his life.

“You can sleep here for now. I’ll have Telence move your trunk upstairs.” Dio’s hand shifts up Pucci’s back, settling on Pucci’s neck. His palm cups the knob on Pucci’s spine and Dio gives him another of those intense looks. “Whatever tragedy brought you here, it can’t touch you now. You will be fine in the end, Pucci. You were drawn to me for a reason, and I to you.”

It’s a lot of bullshit. The tragedy can always touch Pucci. Nothing can ever be fine again. And their meeting is nothing but coincidence, random circumstances. And yet-

And yet, when Dio says this, Pucci finds himself able to believe him. When Dio says ‘You will be fine in the end’, when he looks at Pucci like that…

For the first time in a week, he finds himself able to believe that yes, things will be fine. Maybe not now, but in time.

“Thank you Dio.” Pucci isn’t sure what to do. A hug isn’t something Pucci feels comfortable with, especially after he’s been crying. A handshake is too stiff, too formal. But he wants to respond somehow. He needs to reciprocate. Pucci reaches up and after a second of hesitation that feels as if it goes on for years, he manages to set his hand on Dio’s forearm, just resting there. “I believe you. I will be fine.”

“Good.” Dio gives Pucci’s neck a gentle squeeze. For a moment he looks as if he might kiss Pucci, and the thought of that sends Pucci’s heart beating quicker. But Dio doesn’t, even as his eyes linger on Pucci’s mouth. He just gives him a smile and drops his hand from Pucci’s body. “I look forward to teaching your body the joys of carnal pleasure.”

“Ah.” Pucci says, his face red. Dio smiles a toothy grin and he sweeps out, his robe flapping behind him. Pucci waits until Dio is gone before he sits on the bed, puts both hands over his face, and tries very hard not to scream. Oh my God. He flops over onto his back and lets his feet dangle off the bed. Pucci’s so tired from staying up, and from crying, and he’s fairly certain he’s still high. Pucci’s such a mess. And now Dio-

Dear God, Dio wants to deflower him.

Pucci closes his eyes and groans. He manages to have the good sense to kick his shoes off and to crawl further into the middle of the mattress. Pucci sinks into the pillowtop and curls in on himself. He should really try make a list, try write down what he thinks he can or can’t stand, or even just figure out what questions to ask Dio.

Instead, he realizes that after he dropped his book, he never picked it up, and it’s still lying on the floor of the lounge downstairs, assuming no one took it. And that’s the last thought he has for well over twelve hours as his body finally, blissfully, grants him a dreamless sleep.

Chapter Text

Pucci’s drifting off when Dio settles in behind him, pressing a kiss to his shoulder and then coaxing him to open his eyes. “Hey. We have a little more to shoot.”

“No.” Pucci says, too satisfied to feign politeness for even a second. “There’s nothing left in me.”

Dio just laughs and nips at Pucci’s shoulder, fitting his teeth into marks he left behind a good two hours ago. “Not that. You don’t have to do anything but answer questions.”

“No one told me that staring in porn came with an exit interview.” Pucci mutters, but he opens his eyes.

His own reflection looks back at him from the camera lens, distorted by the curve. The view-screen is twisted in their direction, and Pucci feels surprised by his face. Is that him? He looks so… relaxed. So calm. And so messy too. My god. There are little green lipstick streaks even on the top of Pucci’s right ear, and across the bridge of his nose. “Oh my God, I’m a mess.”

“Yes, and it’s wonderful.” Dio’s lurking behind him, and though he’s partly blocked by Pucci’s body, he still dominates the frame. He looks coyly at Pucci - staring into the lense to stare at him. It’s all a bit much. “Did you enjoy that?”

“Which part?” Pucci tries not to look at himself in the mirror too often. Vanity is a sin, after all, and he’s aware he has a vain streak a mile wide, just waiting to be fed. Right now, he’s too tired to care about any of that, so he lets himself just admire how good he looks.

They both look incredibly good. Pucci’s seen a little porn but for the first time, he finds himself actually excited to watch something. And of course, it’s something involving him. He can’t help but laugh a little to himself. Vain beyond vain. He’s been thoroughly corrupted and it’s only been seven days.

Dio meanwhile just keeps pressing kisses to Pucci’s skin, slow and delibreate. “Any part. What was your favorite?”

Pucci purses his lips as he thinks. There was a lot to choose from. Dio had been very, very through. His face is still flushed from it all, but a little more heat creeps in as he realizes he does have a favorite. “Ah… that would be when you uh… used your tongue.”

“Be more specific.” Dio prompts, and he bites Pucci again, sucking on his skin. “Be lewd.”

“I just was, the camera has the evidence.” And Pucci finds himself thankful that he did insist on capturing it on video. Dio had tried to convince him to experiment off camera first, then they could simply fake a ‘first time’ on camera. After all, everyone did it that way. And perhaps they would too, because maybe after Pucci sees things, he might decide it’s too clumsy or inelegant to release, or maybe he’ll be greedy and keep it all for himself, or maybe there will be some other problem. But… he has it. He has proof that he can never go back - or, perhaps more accurately, he can never be pushed back into a life that did not have Dio in it.

Dio keeps nipping at Pucci. “Say it.”

He’s incorrigible. Pucci sighs. “Fine. When you put your tongue on my… asshole. It just sounds so crude-”

“But it feels like heaven itself.” He purrs and Pucci flushes until his skin is nearly shining. Yes, it certainly had. Dio smirks and slides an arm around Pucci’s waist. “What else?”

“Dio, you were wonderful and I enjoyed everything, but I’m also ready to fall asleep.” Pucci pats the arm around his waist. “Ask me afterwards, when I’ve had a shower.”

“We should do it now.” Dio gives him a squeeze and he presses his hips against Pucci’s ass. “When you wake up, we’ll be far too busy trying out everything again.”

“Honestly, how do you manage to get anything accomplished if you’re always this horny? I’m done. I feel done for at least a month.” It was a brand new world of pleasure but he honestly cannot imagine doing any of it until he’s sleep and at the very least had a bath. He’s not sore yet, but he knows he will be.

Dio just laughs. “Wait and see. You’ve had your first taste. Everything changes after that.”

Perhaps Dio is right, because it was very good. But also he’s not interested in debating right now. Pucci closes his eyes, settled in and tells Dio (and the camera), “No more questions. Cancel the close-up, Mr. DeMille.”

When Dio chuckles, Pucci can feel his chest pressing against Pucci’s back, and the small shaking motion of his laughter is sweet and comforting. He never knew how nice it could be to feel those small, almost insignificant gestures. Pucci has somewhat mixed feelings on the way his life has suddenly and abruptly developed over the past two weeks, but he has a sudden flash of perfect clarity about this. He feels Dio reach over him, to grab the camera-

“I’ve changed my answer.” Pucci says softly. “I liked the intimacy best. I’ve never been held like this before, and it’s… it’s nice. It’s very nice. This is the part I’m looking forward to doing with you again.”

Dio’s silent for a bit. Pucci’s starting to drift again when he feels Dio finally move, pressing a kiss to Pucci’s cheek. He smiles a little, and turns his head just enough to catch the side of Dio’s mouth.

And, perfectly content for the first time in his entire life, Pucci falls asleep while Dio holds him.

Chapter Text

Pucci expects Christmas to be a bit of a nightmare and he has a list.

1) No one in this sin-pit has any idea what subtle means, much less tasteful

2) Pucci is reasonably certain he’s the only one who still believes in Jesus. He would say ‘anything’ but he knows for a fact that at least half of the people here would count Dio as their personal savior. 3

3) There are going to be candy-cane dildos. They better be silicon painted with stripes. Pucci isn’t a dramatic person, he will commit an actual murder the moment someone tries to stick candy up his ass.

And then, perhaps a reason he can’t imagine discussing with anyone: 4) that this will be his first Christmas without his family, and his first Christmas he can remember without Perla.

It doesn’t weigh like before. The guilt has lessened, or at least transformed into something more productive and useful. He keeps busy, and he doesn’t let his thoughts linger too long on thoughts of some world where he didn’t involve the investigators, where he was patient, or where he just told her and broke her heart instead of trying to shield her from the terrible knowledge.

Dio has been quite kind about this, moreso than Pucci would have expected at first glance. It’s sometimes a little hard to reconcile the man who thinks pants are optional and that make-up is not with the man who always seems to know when Pucci needs to be alone. But then again, Dio seems to need isolation as much as Pucci sometimes, and there are days where he disappears without a word, not answering his texts or calls until the next day. Some of the others fuss more when he disappears but Pucci knows he’ll come back. He always does.


December 1st, Pucci wakes up and exits his room to find that someone has decorated in the night with tinsel and a million things of mistletoe above every doorway. There’s a tree in the main lobby decorated in miniature penises. The star on the tree has Dio’s face taped in the middle.

Check item #1 off the list.

Item #3 follows almost immediately afterwards with festive dildos, and with a Mrs. Claus costume that Pucci wears, if only because he really, really doesn’t want to risk seeing what kind of blasphemous shit they’ll pull with the Nativity given half the chance.

He keeps waiting for #2 to turn up dramatically, but other than a running joke about how insert-item-or-action is the “reason for the season”, and Dio’s photo on the star on the tree, there isn’t much of anything. It’s all completely non-secular.

(He tries not to think about #4. Pucci just quietly buys a few gifts for Dio and a few for his closer friends at the studio, and he doesn’t look at his email. His parents mostly haven’t bothered to contact him. But this would be the time of year they would do it, if they were going to do it.)

It does finally turn up when there’s a knock on Pucci’s door on Christmas Eve. He’s been looking at the times for midnight mass and debating on if he should go for the better part of a day, and he could use a distraction, and unfortunately, Dio’s disappeared without a word, so Pucci checks the door in case it’s something that can take his mind off of everything.

The distraction is Hol Horse, dressed up like he’s about to take Pucci on a date. Pucci raises an eyebrow. “Hello Hol.”

“Uh, hey Pucci.” Hol looks nervous. He’s rubbing the back of his neck. “So… uh-”

“Hi Pucci!” Midler peeks out from around Hol’s back. She’s dressed up too and that gets Pucci’s eyebrows creeping up higher because he can’t remember the last time he’s seen Midler in anything with a neckline higher than her clavicals. It’s a nice dress but… it feels weird.

“Hello?” Pucci looks from her to Hol. “Can I help you?”

“We’re going to church and you should come.” Midler says without missing a beat.

“Aw c’mon I’m easing him into it.” Hol whines and Midler shrugs.

“You’re going to church.” Pucci repeats it, because it bears repeating. Hol Horse and Midler are going to church. They’re going to church. The two people who’ve never said anything about religion, are going to church on Christmas Eve.

“Yep.” Hol says and fiddles with his hands. “We uh. We go every year. It’s sorta just… I mean. Okay so, there’s this place, and they hand out these little brown paper sacks and it’s got candy canes and oranges in them, and all the little kids put on a play, and it’s sorta like what we did when I was a kid, and y’know, ain’t like I’ve got that many good memories of being a kid, so it’s nice just going and thinking about the stuff that was good.”

Midler doesn’t volunteer her reasoning. But she just nods a little, and says, “It’s a nice church. It actually smells like pine trees.”

“Yeah, it’s real clean too.” Hol glances at Midler, racking his brain for what else to say. After a little waffling, he puts a cherry on top of this sundae they’ve offered him. “And there’s a place right by it that makes bourbon milkshakes until 3am, so we can get them after services are done.”

“I’m not sure oranges, mint and milkshakes are that great of a combination.” Pucci says and gets arguments from both Hol and Midler instantly about what is or isn’t good.

While they bicker, Pucci thinks. He doesn’t want to go out. And, simultaneously, he does, because sitting here staring at church websites is just making him think of Perla, and that big empty house he grew up in, and every single one of those thoughts is just weighing on him, eating him up, and he doesn’t want to have a bad Christmas. He wants it to be good, even if for no reason other than because he knows deep down that Perla wouldn’t want him to be miserable just for misery’s sake.

“Okay.” He says, cutting them off. “Just let me get changed.”

By the time Pucci does get changed and comes out, Hol and Midler aren’t alone. N’Doul’s with them, leaning on his cane and looking pretty much the way he always does, and Nena is too, though she looks bored and she’s busy punching in texts. She glances up briefly just to say, “I’m only coming for the milkshakes.”

“Aw baby, and the oranges.” Hol reminds her. Nena rolls her eyes as they head downstairs.

Pucci ends up offering N’Doul an arm once they get out onto the street, which N’Doul takes. “Are you coming for the milkshakes too?”

“Not specifically.” N’Doul smiles a little. His cane makes a gentle tapping sound as he checks the path ahead of him. Hol’s gotten talked into carrying Midler and Nena, and he’s bitten off more than he can chew because he’s starting to stagger while carrying Midler on his back and Nena in his arms. He’s not backing down though. “I have no reason for coming. I just said yes to the invitation.”

Pucci’s not sure if he should say he’s glad N’Doul came or not. But he gives his arm a little squeeze, a small gesture of thanks to have the company on Christmas Eve.

Chapter Text

The first time Pucci does it by accident.

The video is eight long. It’s a selfie, or it was supposed to be. Pucci holds his thumb down a little too long, frowning as he realizes what he’s done. Then, in the background, Hol plantively whines out, “Nena, baby, I’m sorry-”

“Shove it up your ass.” Nena retorts, getting another low whine from Hol. Pucci snorts softly and doesn’t stop the video, turning the phone slightly to get a better view of Nena and Hol over his shoulder as they fight in the living room. Hol is clutching his cowboy hat to his naked chest. Nena’s in a showgirl outfit. Clearly something went wrong during filming.

“I told you, I forgot, baby, baby please, I’ll wash my dick next time-” Is about all Pucci captures before his face breaks and he lifts his thumb. He watches it with the volume turned low, and puts it on his story.

Nothing afterwards ever is an accident.


Pucci’s doing the selfie-ruse again, multi-tasking some as he checks his face for powdered sugar. His phone’s tipped to get what’s happening behind him.

Midler’s trying to feed Alessi her churro. He’s not having it, but Midler isn’t stopping either, prodding him in the cheek with the end of it. “Come ooooon. Just the tip. Just the tip.“

“Fuck off.” Alessi tries to slap it out of her hand. It just leaves him open, and she pokes his mouth, leaving a streak of caramel sauce and cinnamon sugar on his face. The look of disgust on Alessi’s face is the last thing Pucci catches before the time limit on videos runs out.


Dio is looking at himself in the mirror, wearing a leotard covered in feathers and sequins. Pucci raises his eyebrows, and asks, “Where are we going to dinner again?”

“The food truck.” Dio answers and Pucci makes a face. Automatically, without even needing to glance from his reflection, Dio speaks again, “Don’t make that face.”

Pucci makes the face anyway.


A video, this time without Pucci’s face in it. It’s a shot of the ‘food truck’. The side has been spray painted over, but you can still see the plumbers logo showing through. It doesn’t have tires. It certainly doesn’t have any permits posted on the truck, or proof that a food inspector is even aware the place exists.

Dio’s ordering dinner, wearing his leotard with a cropped jacket and thigh high boots. The ‘chef’ doesn’t seem even vaguely phased.

He’s added a caption.

[This is how I die]


He doesn’t, of course. The food is good and there’s no sign of it by the time he takes another shot. They’re lying on the hood of Dio’s car, watching the sun set. Dio soaks up the setting sun. Pucci discretely films him, his head resting on Dio’s shoulder. The sound of sea gulls and waves can be heard. But the only view worth showing is Dio.

(at least, on snapchat. Instagram gets a photo of the view. It’s magnificent)


Pucci bats his eyes at the video as Telence yells in the background.

“-hard drive is dead!”

Mariah takes a drag off her smoke and blows it out. She waits for Telence to take a breath, then adds casually, “You should have grounded it.”

“I shouldn’t have to fucking ground everything because you carry around a static charge-” Telence launches back up, cut off when the video runs out of time.


Vanilla Ice is driving. He doesn’t react, not even as Oingo leans into view, his make-up making him look uncannily like Vanilla. They drive in silence for a moment, before Oingo whispers, “My own clone. Now neither of us will be virgins.”

Pucci tries to hold it in, but he can’t help but laugh in the second before he stop the video


Dio sleeps. The mood lighting shifts from red to yellow to green and blue. He looks handsome.


Dio is completely naked, standing on the roof. Midler wolf-whistles from the pool. He strikes a pose. There’s a flash behind him, someone running over the peak and down. Dio barely has time to turn before Hol plows into him, and they both falls straight into the water.

The splash is huge and Pucci curses as he quickly shields his camera from the wave.


Hours later. Hol stands in the hallway, wearing a homemade dunce cap crafted just for this occasion.

Vanilla Ice stands guard, glowering at Hol.

Midler’s already getting a selfie with Hol, who’s forgotten he’s supposed to be in trouble. He beams at Midler’s camera, copying her peace sign and wink, but not the little bit of tongue sticking out of the corner of her mouth.

She takes it, looks at it, and makes him take it again. Hol’s happy to oblige.


N’Doul’s sitting in the garden, his cane across his lap. His face is tipped up towards the night sky.

“It’s rude to take pictures without permission.”

“It’s not a picture.”

He turns his head towards Pucci and gives him the most single, perfect unimpressed look he’s ever seen on anyone’s face.

“You little shit.” N’Doul remarks.


Daniel’s in the living room with a cat in his lap. He pets it, giving it a little scratch under it’s chin.

[That isn’t ours]


Off-camera, Midler is busting a gut.

“Like what?” Dio says.

“Like ‘nyah’.” Pucci repeats.

Dio brings his hand up, mimicking the motion. “Like nyah.”

“Stop!” Midler cackles.

Dio, smirking, does it again, his voice dripping with self-satisfaction, “Nyah.”

“Stoooop!” Midler loses it and Pucci can’t help but laugh a little too.


Pucci tries the selfie-tactic with Pet Shop. The director spends the entire eleven seconds glaring at Pucci, not blinking even once.


Enya and Dio are by the computer, looking at the website together. The size difference is astonishing, even with Enya on a stool and Dio leaning over. Dio has a hand on her back, and the other pointing to a video of N’Doul sliding himself down on a horse dildo.

[A tender moment]


Pucci pans around the care. They’re crammed into tight. Vanilla Ice driving, Telence on his DS beside him, and Hol against the door, with Nena in his lap. In the backseat, Mariah has Midler in her lap, with Alessi in the middle. Pucci’s in the far right, parked in Dio’s lap. When the camera comes to focus on them, Dio leans forward and settles his chin on Pucci’s shoulder, giving the camera a smoldering look.

[On our way to get food poisoning]


The food truck, once again. Everyone has tacos and churos. It’s a beautiful day.

[Gift all my earthly possessions to whoever survives]


Pucci’s lying in bed with Dio. The cycling mood lighting is on. Dio lies on his back, half-off the bed as he reads an art book. Pucci’s bare feet are in frame.

Dio doesn’t look up from his book, remarking quietly, “I never expected I could love anyone the way I love you.”

“Oh.” Pucci’s voice is soft. “Dio-”

It cuts off.


Later, much later. Dio’s lounging the proper way in bed, Pucci tucked into his shoulder.

Dio’s posed. Pucci isn’t as he looks at Dio in the camera. “I love you too.”

He captures the look on Dio’s face. It’s something he’ll treasure forever.

Chapter Text

Dio has been called dramatic his entire life and he knows that it’s true. He just doesn’t see it as anything negative or worth correcting. His larger-than-life personality, his effortless posing, his flair for fashion - and for dropping devastating verbal bombs - are all parts of himself that he has happily cultivated. There are times when dramatics are not just enjoyable, but also the more effective way of achieving his goal.

If he wasn’t willing to live his life to his fullest, he would likely still be working for the Joestars and producing absolutely bland softcore erotica and he would rather die than never film anything below the waist. All of the best stuff happens below the waist.

Dio considers himself to be an excellent read on all things dramatic, being as he has more experience with the subject than any other man alive. Which is why he can safely and confidently say, “Pucci, stop being so dramatic.”

Pucci just fixes Dio with a withering look. “There are easily two thousand restaurants in the greater L.A. area and you’re going to give me salmonella poisoning because you won’t eat somewhere that’s heard of the words ‘food inspector’.”

Dio holds up one hand to pause Pucci while he applies his lipstick with the other. Pucci doesn’t pause. Of course he doesn’t.

“It’s not even a proper foodtruck. It’s an old plumbing van on cement blocks. If you aren’t mobile, you aren’t a food truck, you’re just a food stand, except even worse because at least a food stand has a proper structure built and presumably a permit was taken out in order to construct it. I doubt that van has moved in ten years. There are likely rats living in the engine that have been in L.A. longer than I have.” Pucci’s on a roll. Dio has to ignore him because he’s trying to get that perfect glossy coating on his lips and he can’t do that if he’s also trying to compose a response to Pucci.

It’s certainly no coincidence that his make-up only became flawless once he dropped out of law school and didn’t spend all his time working on test cases. Life lesson: less time on contracts, more time on contouring.

Pucci is still going on. It’s a very good thing he’s a wonderful partner (and so very, very beautiful) because that’s about the only thing that balances out how ridiculously snobby he can be. “I’m looking at the map right now and there are ten places within walking distance that all have four stars or higher. We live in a city with access to an utterly amazing selection and you want to eat at a taco truck whose entire online footprint is a unconfirmed Google listing with two grainy photos and four reviews. Listen to this one: Ate a million of these tacos and shit myself. Ten out of ten, would repeat.”

Dio just caps his lipstick. “You’re being ridiculous. The tacos are delicious and Javier is charming. I’ve eaten there a hundred times and haven’t died. You won’t either.”

Pucci sighs loudly. Dio waits to see if he’s finally going to give in, as he always does. “Just… put on a pair of pants, we can go eat somewhere nice.”

It’s Dio’s turn to direct a withering look at Pucci. “I’m in a bodysuit.”

“All the more reason to wear pants.” Pucci says and Dio steeples his fingers together. Pucci just quirks up an eyebrow. Neither of them are budging.

Thankfully, Dio has deliberately cultivated an eclectic group of people with sub-par social skills, so the blow-up over the taco truck is interrupted by both Pucci and Dio’s phones ringing at the same time. Pucci’s eyes narrow but he answer his phone after frowning. “Hello?”

Dio’s call is from Nena. He answers it, and is rewarded by the sound of Hol loudly whining in the background.

“We need you to bail us out of jail. It’s $400.” Nena says.

“Hold on.” Pucci’s speaking into the phone. “What happened?”

Hol’s whining grows louder and Dio can catch bits of it coming through his phone - and through Pucci’s end as well, since apparently they’re both making their calls. He picked up the word ‘indecent acts in public’ among the list of charges.

Nena says, “So?”

Pucci’s voice shoots up a full register. “At a Crackerbarrel?”

“We’ll be there.” Dio says, and hangs up. Perfect. They’ll go bail out those two and then on the way home, they’ll swing by the taco trip. And Pucci won’t be able to say no when he’s outnumbered in the car. Dio smiles. Everything works out for him, in the end.

Chapter Text

Pucci wakes up to the sensation of teeth pressing into his ass. "Dio, stop." He mumbles in his sleep, swatting at him. "Don't."

Dio is not dissuaded. He never is. The teeth scrape at Pucci's ass as Dio closes his mouth, biting down on him. It's not hard of course, Dio isn't stupid enough to actually draw blood. That doesn't mean that he's above leaving a bruise, especially if he knows that Pucci's going to be filming something today. Pucci gives him another swat. Dio releases the bite.

Then he promptly bites the other cheek.

"Enough." Pucci tells him, turning over to look at Dio, and then stopping dead, both eyebrows raising high. "What's in your mouth?"

Dio smiles broadly, framing a pair of vampire fangs where his canine should be. "I want to suck your blood."

And with that, Dio creeps up the rest of the bed, folding Pucci into his arms and scraping at his throat with those fake fangs of his. Pucci squirms in his grip, half-heartedly fighting him. This is incredibly stupid, but he's also somewhat charmed by Dio's antics. Even when he's irritating, he's still just… well. Dio.

Mock-biting at Pucci's neck quickly escalates into Dio biting his way down Pucci's body, scraping at his skin with those fangs, until Dio's settles his body between Pucci's thighs. His hands push them apart, and his mouth sinks down over Pucci's cock, blowing him. Pucci moans, sinking a hand into Dio's hair to stroke it. Sex off camera is always his very favorite, especially sex with Dio. While he's grown accustomed to his job, nothing is ever quite as intimate when a camera's present. There's always a need to perform on camera. But here, Pucci can just be in the moment, losing himself in the sensation of Dio's mouth - and occasionally laughing when he sees his cock almost perfectly framed between those plastic fangs.

In time, Pucci returns the favour for Dio, this time sans fangs. There's no need to rush and so he doesn't, thoroughly enjoying himself as he teases Dio. And perhaps there is something appealing about those silly fangs, and the way they almost perfectly suit Dio's face whenever he opens his mouth to sigh or groan.

When they're both sated and Pucci's found himself in his preferred place of rest after sex (directly on Dio's chest, so they can kiss lazily as they talk), he runs a finger along the fangs still in Dio's mouth. "Is this part of some themed video set? Am I to be your Mina, or your Lucy?"

"Neither." He gives Pucci a kiss then, sweet and tender, and he nearly forgets the fangs in the way. When they pull back, he strokes his hands down Pucci's back. "Be my Laura, and I'll be your Carmilla."

Pucci laughs a little, and just lets his thumb come to rest on Dio's chin. "I think I already am, if I pretend the novel had Carmilla drinking from Laura's ass instead of her breast."

Dio smirks and gives Pucci's ass a squeeze. "I would be a fool not to ignore it. But, we can't lie here all day. You've forgotten what today is, haven't you Pucci?"

"Have I?" He quickly goes over the day. It's a Wednesday, and they never do much on a Wednesday. He's not in any shoots, and he could cam today, but he already knows he's not in the mood for it. What he feels like doing is spending the day in bed with Dio and a few books he needs to catch up on. He's sure Dio has his own list of books to read. Frankly, he's an even more voracious reader than Pucci, but it helps that his tastes are broader - and a lot less picky. But that's besides the point, which is that Pucci's forgotten something-

It finally clicks as Dio smiles at him with those stupid fangs in his mouth. Pucci promptly groans and buries his head against Dio's chest. "The Halloween party."

"You've forgotten your costume." Dio just pats Pucci's ass a few times. "You will be pleased to learn that I expected this and I have an outfit picked out for you to wear."

"If it's religious, I'm not wearing it." There are only a handful of lines that Pucci really sticks to with Dio. No matter how much he might complain about that godforsaken taco truck, and the many, many tasteless porn scripts he's handed Pucci, and god just the general architecture of this faux-Egyptian eyesore, Pucci almost always inevitably gives in to Dio's demands. This is in no small part because Dio is often right in the choices he makes, as absurd as they might be. The man did build a very profitable business in an era where people can watch their porn for free from dozens upon dozens of websites without ever feeling the need to pass a single dollar on to the people who actually do the hard work.

But he does have hard lines he won't cross. Pucci doesn't want to fetishist his religion (mostly because nuns and fathers are genuinely the least arousing thing he can think of and it's murder on his already low sex drive), he won't participate in anything vaguely incestuous, and he refuses to discuss any bodily functions that involve waste disposal of any kind.

"No nuns. No priests. No crosses." Dio promises solemnly, before smirking. "It may involve a button up shirt, knee-high socks and a very short skirt."

"Ah yes, the Catholic school girl's uniform. I do hope you've remembered the cardigan." Pucci is willing to tolerate this one request, since he knows that the costume Dio's chosen is a far cry from what anyone wore while attending St. Andrews. And it could be worse - it could be accurate to a place like St. Joseph's. No one should force a sixteen year old to wear a branded polo and a skort.

"I'm sure we can find something as a substitute." Dio gives Pucci one last squeeze - and one more kiss - before he rolls Pucci off of him and creeps out of bed. Pucci stays put, watching Dio prowl naked over the room, the cycling lights creeping over his bare flesh. Times like this, Pucci can't help but laugh a little at the absurdity of his life. He was meant to be a holy man, and to work his way up the ranks of the Church. Instead, he's living in California in every conceivable kind of sin, dating a man who seems to be allergic to clothes, and he's happy.

He never imagined he could feel so content and happy, or that his anxiety could be nothing more than a quiet whisper in the back of his mind.

"And what will you be? A vampire, I assume." But what kind of vampire?

Dio ducks into his closet and answers that a minute later, wearing a short plaid skirt of his own. "The Carmilla to your Laura." He tosses Pucci his own outfit, and walks back into the closet to finish dressing. Pucci shakes his head, but he pulls on the outfit all the same. It's stupid and absolutely on the edge of embarrassing, but... it's very easy to forget to be self-conscious when he's with Dio. Especially when they're both wearing a mini-skirt and lipstick.