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The sun had just barely crested over the buildings surrounding the hospital when Abbacchio entered the hospital room, sunrays streaming in through the window to stripe golden across the stark white blanket covering Bucciarati’s waist and legs.

It had been a little under three days now since the man had been admitted and yet he showed no signs of waking. Abbacchio couldn’t help thinking of what Giorno had said last night and he did his best to find some solace in that (even though it was Giorno who had said it, but maybe the kid wasn’t so bad. Not that he’d ever admit that to anyone ever.)

The nurses ‒ well, one of them, the one who was there during the day with the crow’s feet and laugh lines framing her lips ‒ had learned his name by now and when she entered the room, she smiled at him as she closed the door behind her with a soft click.

“Did you get some rest?” she asked, setting the chart she’d carried into the room with her down on the medical supplies cart that was at a permanent rest in Bucciarati’s room. Just a precaution, they’d told Abbacchio, just in case.

Just in case.

“About as much can be expected,” he replied begrudgingly. He could see Bruno now, scolding him for not being more polite to a medical worker, especially one who was his primary nurse on rotation. But Bruno wasn’t awake yet ‒ yet ‒ and Abbacchio couldn’t care less.

The nurse, Lena or Liona or something like that, Abbacchio hadn’t bothered trying to learn her name, not at all, even though he saw her more often than he’d like, smiled that same goddamn pitying smile she always did before she turned to Bruno and began the checks Abbacchio watched her do three times a day. Once every six hours she’d said once, and the nurse on the night shift does the one at midnight.

Checking the IV bag, checking the IV itself, drawing the four vials of blood, fussing with the monitors and wires, before marking things off on her chart.

As she went to leave, she looked back at Abbacchio. “Want a vase for those flowers, sweetie?”

“…Thanks, Lara,” he muttered as the middle-aged woman winked at him before slipping from the room. Fuck.

“I'm going all soft ‘cause of you,” Abbacchio said with a sigh as he got up to rest the violets ‒ his favorite flower, mentioned in passing while watching a gardening show together on the TV but Abbacchio remembered, he’d always remembered ‒ on top of the small table in the corner of the room before turning back to the unconscious man. Like always, the only response he got was the mechanical beep, the sound of life, but he liked to pretend Bruno could hear him anyways.

He pulled the man’s hand into his own, doing his best to avoid jostling it at all. Lara had said it would be alright if Abbacchio touched and moved Bruno’s hands, even his forearms, but Abbacchio was paranoid that something would go wrong so he was careful as humanly possible.

“Just last night I had a talk with that brat, y’know? Didn’t raise my voice once, didn’t even curse at him- uh, I think I didn’t, but if I did it wasn’t at him. You’d’ve been proud.”

Beep. Beep.

“Heh, yeah I know, I shouldn’t be proud of acting like an adult,” Abbacchio chuckled, “Lay off, I’m doing my best here. You left me with all the kids and you know I hate kids. Especially teenagers. Yeah, yeah, we were both teens too but it’s different. We ain’t anymore, thank God. Remember that one mission you took me on? The one when we tailed that one politician for some blackmail material for Polpo? I was 19 and you were 18.”

Abbacchio remembered it like it was yesterday; it had nearly ended in disaster when they were almost caught spying from the roof of the building across from the seedy motel the guy had dragged some raven-haired prostitute off the streets for a night. It had just so happened that her hair was short and from the back she’d looked like Bruno and in his haste to try to get the image of Bruno bouncing up and down as he fucked himself silly on the man’s cock, he’d left the light on his binoculars on.

Bucciarati hadn’t been nearly as mad as Abbacchio had thought he’d be, though he guessed it was because the man ‒ well, boy back then ‒ had noticed and quickly yanked them out of Abbacchio’s hands just as the politician's bodyguards standing outside the back entrance of the motel seemed to notice the light. They’d hightailed it out of there with nothing more than a few blurry pictures, Abbacchio trailing Bruno while desperately willing his dick to calm the fuck down.

It decidedly had not.

“Oh, of course you remember, huh? And why is that?” Abbacchio grinned as he rested his chin on his free hand, squeezing Bruno’s hand.

“Okay, okay, calm down! I’ll stop teasing you. You’re just so cute when you get all red like that.” A pause and then ‒ “Well I’d call that more if we had a moment to ourselves once in a while. You think I’m gonna let those brats hear me say shit like that? Come on.”

The sun beam had stretched close enough now that it brushed against the tips of Abbacchio’s knuckles. He was pretty sure he’d read somewhere that sunlight was really good for your health. Or maybe Fugo had told him. Either way, it made Bruno look almost ethereal with his crown of ebony framing his delicate features against the stark white pillow.

“Yeah, as far as first kisses go, it coulda been a little better. Maybe if I hadn’t gotten hard like a fucking monkey who can’t control himself ‒ Oi! Whaddaya mean I haven’t changed at all?! Fine, just you wait. When you get outta here, I’ll show you who’s the monkey. No, I don’t know what that means, but neither do you so guess we’re in the same damn boat. I’ll figure it out though, you’ll see.”

Abbacchio’s face fell a little, smile faltering as he continued to talk to Bruno. It was all mundane things, all things the guy should’ve been able to see on his own. The fashion mags Trish had plowed through like a lawnmower through an overgrown garden, Fugo trying to pass off reading the dictionary to Narancia as a bedtime story (“It’s to teach him new fucking words; if it works for foreign languages, it should work for his goddamn native one! You heard him, I said he was loafing around and he said, “I didn’t know you went to the bakery today, why didn’t you take me with you?!””), Mista and Giorno being… well, Mista and Giorno.

Come to think of it, this was pretty much the first time that they’d had time to laze around or relax since Giorno had joined the group. The blond had seemed different the past few days, as if a tightly-wound spring that was relaxing bit by bit with each passing day.

Bruno would’ve wanted to see that.

“I can’t show you anything,” Abbacchio murmured quietly, leaning down to rest his forehead against their intertwined hands, “Not like this. You can’t see anything at all. They said to be patient, and I’m trying, I really fucking am but it’s never been my strong suit. You’ve always been better at it. That’s why you gotta wake up, Bruno. You gotta smooth out all my rough edges. God knows what you see in a guy like me but it’s something I want you to wake up and see again. I need you too.”

Abbacchio straightened up with a sniff, pulling his hands back long enough to grind them so hard into his eye sockets that he was certain any trace of tears had slipped into the ducts like shower water running into a drain.

“You can’t be strong right now,” he said as he returned to where he’d been holding Bruno’s hand, “So I’ll be strong for you. I can’t do it for myself, but if it’s for you, I can do anything. I hope you know ‒ or at least, that you knew that.”

The door to the small room creaked open as Lara stepped back in with a shimmering plastic vase in her hands.

Abbacchio stood, smiled as he thanked her, arranged the violets in the vase on the table, and sat back down to tell Bruno about Narancia and Trish switching clothes.

Mista blinked his eyes open blearily when a ray of sunlight settled across his face early in the morning. He hadn’t realized he’d fallen asleep, but hey, he couldn’t resist shutting his eyes for a few seconds and those turned into minutes, and those, well… on the bright side, he’d probably be wide awake all day for the first time in weeks.

There was a rustling noise coming from the kitchen and Mista sat up, stretching his arms behind him as his eyes landed on Giorno standing next to the stove. A pot of something was in front of the blond, steam rising up from it and when Mista sniffed the air, he recognized the scent of coffee.

Wondering when Giorno woke up and also feeling a little guilty he’d wound up leaving the boy earlier in the night, Mista got to his feet and padded over. He wrapped his arms around Giorno’s waist, the blond jerking a little in surprise before he glanced up to see who it was. Mista loved watching the way Giorno’s green eyes relaxed at the sight of him and settled his chin against the boy’s shoulder as he stared down at the pot.

“Getting the coffee ready before I’m even up? What a good wife,” Mista teased. Giorno rolled his eyes, smiling softly as he reached over his shoulder to shove Mista’s head back.

“Go sit down and wait. It’s not ready yet.”

“Yeah? Well I should probably tell you,” Mista said as he pulled back and headed to the small table, “That I like my coffee how I like my Stands: strong.”

“Is that so?” Giorno answered, his back turned to Mista.

“Yup,” Mista said, popping the ‘p’ with a grin, “And it just so happens I’m watching the guy with the strongest Stand I’ve ever seen before.”

“Well,” the blond said as he pulled two mugs out of the cabinet above the stovetop, “I can’t exactly speak for Gold Experience Requiem but I believe it likes you too.”

“And why’s that?”

“Because Gold Experience Requiem is part of me,” Giorno explained, spinning around with two steaming mugs. “And I like you. I believe that, by the transitive property, that means GER likes you as well.”

“You like me, huh?” Mista grinned as he accepted the mug passed over to him, trying to ignore the quickening of his heart at those words. He and Giorno still hadn’t talked about the kiss, if Mista could call it that because of course it was a kiss but he didn’t know if it was just a kiss or a kiss kiss and that didn’t really sound right when he thought it through in his head but it made sense to him so oh well.

“Well, if I had to pick like or dislike, then I’d certainly say I like you,” Giorno said, lifting his own mug to his lips before crinkling his nose and moving to the fridge to pull out a small milk jug. It was fucking adorable.

But what did that mean? Fuck, the blond was just so unreadable, Mista couldn’t tell what that look in his eyes meant because Giorno was just so fucking guarded - not that it didn’t make sense but it made it hard for Mista to know if his advances were really being reciprocated in the way he wanted them.

A glance at the clock hanging on the wall showed that it was a little before eight in the morning. Taking a deep breath, Mista set his mug and looked straight at Giorno.


‘Great, what a great fucking start, c’mon Mista, get your shit together!’ he thought, barely resisting the urge to smack his palm to his face as Giorno just raised one perfectly-sculpted eyebrow at him.

“Uh look, I-I think I’ve made it pretty clear by now, but uh, maybe I haven’t but like, I- shit, how do I say this without sounding like a complete fucking sap?”

Mista ran a hand through his hair (where the fuck was his beanie?) with an awkward flourish, the dark brown curls bouncing back down around his face and getting in his eyes which was exactly why he always wore a hat but fuck he as getting distracted, don’t chicken out Mista, don’t fucking chicken out, not again!

Giorno, to his credit, was sitting there with his now-milky mug of coffee resting between his two hands, legs crossed neatly together as he stared silently at Mista with a soft look on his face.


Mista quickly averted his gaze, feeling his cheeks heat up. He let out a sigh a few seconds later before muttering quietly, “I-I really like you. A lot.”

There was silence and then - “I like you too, Mista. Didn’t I just tell you that?”

“N-Not like that!” Mista stammered quickly, waving his hands frantically in front of him, “Not if I’m ‘picking between like or dislike’ or whatever, and not like friends either- wait, no, of course I like you as my friend too, but l-like, that’s not the only way I-”

“Mista,” Giorno murmured gently and he looked up to make eye contact with Giorno just as the blond reached out to grab one of Mista’s own and gave it a squeeze. “I know what you mean. Don’t worry.”

“O-Oh,” he stuttered, blushing again for the second time in less than a fucking minute, fuck where the fuck did the smooth ladies man he used to be go? Of course, Giorno wasn’t a lady and Mista certainly didn’t feel smooth in front of him.

“I appreciate your feelings. Truly, I do,” Giorno began and Mista didn’t like where this sounded like it was heading, “But… it’s just, are you sure? The others have talked about how… promiscuous you were and I certainly don’t hold that against you, please don’t misunderstand me, but I… you’re a man, and I’m a man, and you’ve said you’ve never been interested in men before, and you’ve only known me for how long? Two weeks at most? Is that really enough time for you to be saying this to me?”

His concerns made sense; of course they did, this was Giorno they were talking about, but Mista was still at a loss. He’d been so certain, so sure that the blond was returning his attempts at flirting with just as much fervor, and yeah, they’d only been together a little awhile but he already felt so close to Giorno, fighting an evil psychopath intent on murdering them all just had a way of bringing people together.

“I can’t really argue that,” he said slowly, “But everything that I did in the past is just that: it’s in the past. I slept around because I never really cared much and all the chicks didn’t care either and even if it was sorta serious, it never lasted more than a few months. I didn’t like it when they started getting serious. Passione had to come first; they didn’t get that. But you do.”

Giorno nodded, taking another sip of his coffee.

“And I thought about it a lot,” Mista explained awkwardly, a little embarrassed to admit just how much he’d thought about it, “About whether this makes me gay or not, but I decided I just didn’t care. Look at Bucciarati and Abbacchio, they’re both super badass and cool and also madly in love, I’ve never been prejudiced. I mean, obviously it might matter to other people, but why should I care what other people think? I just care about what you think, Giorno. And I thought… well, I guess I thought you kinda… liked me too.”

“I… I don’t know,” Giorno finally replied after a few seconds and Mista’s defeat must’ve showed on his face because the blond quickly exclaimed, “No, no, not that I don’t know about whether to accept or not - although I guess that’s true too - or even whether I like you or not - I think I do but I’ve never liked someone before, so I wouldn’t know for sure if that’s what this feeling is - but it’s just… Mista, are you sure you want to be with someone like me?”

That question was just so out of left field that Mista didn’t even know how to begin to respond. One, he was still trying to process that Giorno had basically just admitted that he did, in fact, like Mista back and immediately glossed over it as if he hadn’t even noticed he’d said it while Mista was still hung up on those words, and two, what the fuck did that question even mean?

Of course, when Mista thought about it, he was sad to find that he wasn’t all that surprised that Giorno thought that about himself; the stories of his former homelife and family had made it clear how little they’d cared for or appreciated Giorno. Even now, with the blond staring directly at him, Mista could barely see over the walls Giorno had built around himself from such a young age. But it was still progress; they’d used to be so tall that they rivalled skyscrapers.

“Ya mean someone who joined the mafia just because he wanted to change things for the better for his community? Someone who immediately put his life on the line for a guy he’d met just hours earlier? Someone who brought my friends back to life when I thought they were dead and gone? Someone who was deemed worthy by some supernatural arrow-thing way beyond any scope of modern knowledge? That someone?”

“Mista, I-”

“Yes, Giorno. Yes. Hell, I should be the one questioning if I even deserve you at all. There’s nothing I want more right now than to be with you.” It was Mista’s turn to grab Giorno’s hands, pulling the mug out of the boy’s grip and setting it down before grabbing both and pulling them towards Mista as he grinned.

“Well, except for you to say you want that too.”

Giorno’s green eyes bore into him, searching for something that Mista desperately hoped he’d find. The only sounds in the room were the ticking of the clock and Mista’s heart pounding so loudly that he was certain Giorno must be able to hear it too.

“…There’s a lot I have to do,” Giorno said quietly when he finally answered. “I’m still nowhere close to accomplishing my dream, and as you said, Passione comes first. I have to succeed; failing would result in death. We’re not out of the woods yet, none of us are. And I need to put all my focus into that.”

Mista understood. He did, he really did, but it didn’t mean it didn’t hurt any less - especially now that they’d both confirmed their feelings for each other. But Giorno was right, a relationship would probably just become a liability to him.

And the last thing Mista wanted was to weigh him down.

“Perhaps, when the dust has settled,” Giorno continued softly, pale cheeks flushed pink in the morning sunlight, “And I can afford to look away from my path for a bit… we could try? If you’re willing to wait that is, and of course I understand if you won’t want-”

“I would wait however long you want me to,” Mista interrupted. Honestly, he could barely believe his luck; maybe it wasn’t the immediate ‘let’s go out’ that he’d been hoping for but it was the best that Giorno could do and Mista really couldn’t blame him. It was for the best anyway, Mista refused to become a burden to the blond boy.

“I think that’s a bit much,” Giorno answered goodnaturedly, offering their entwined hands a quick squeeze that filled the pit of Mista’s stomach with warmth.

“Nothing’s too ‘much,’” Mista denied with a huff, “Not for me; I’m like a bottomless pit, pour shit in and it just keeps filling up.”

“I’ll make sure to use you as a toilet next time,” came a voice from the far side of the room and Mista jumped, startled out of his silly, Giorno-induced stupor to swivel his head and find Fugo standing leaned up against the frame leading down the hallway.

“Please don’t.” Giorno was the one to reply, clearly not as surprised as Mista was to find that the blond was there. “I’d like my potential partner to be cholera and hepatitis free.”

“The sacrifices I make for you,” Fugo said with a roll of his eyes as he headed into the kitchen area to join them, grabbing an orange off the counter as he slid into the chair next to Mista.

“How long were you there?” Mista couldn’t help but ask. He didn’t like the look in Fugo’s eyes when he looked up.

“Long enough,” was the cryptic reply. “Giorno, would you get Narancia up for me? I’d do it but as you can see, I have orange juice all over my fingers.”

The excuse was flimsy at best and Mista exchanged a look with Giorno before the blond boy sighed and nodded as he stood up to head off towards one of the closed doors. Why Fugo didn’t just wake Nara up when he left Mista didn’t know, and he also didn’t know how much Fugo had heard, which was frightening in and of itself.

When Giorno was out of sight and banging began to arise from the room he’d disappeared into (Nara never was one to wake up easily), Fugo hummed quietly half to himself.

Mista barely heard him murmur over the din, “Quite the group we all are, don’t you think?”