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Mista had a lot of thoughts racing through his head when Giorno was first introduced to the group:

Would he ever get to eat a bite of the strawberry cake? Could he convince one of the others to take a slice for him, maybe even feed him? No, no, while he could deal with the taunts, the idea that one of the others might touch something he was going to eat was sickening. After all, they were all healthy young men; if they were anything like him, he knew where those hands had been. Cake seemed out of the question by now.

Why did they even order cake in the first place? It has four letters in the word, Mista should’ve known better, they should’ve got cannoli or something.

Maybe Abbacchio won’t notice if he took his slice? No, the man would literally maim him within an inch of his life. War flashbacks to that one time he’d finished off a bottle of a nice vintage red, not knowing that it was Abbacchio’s, flashed through his mind. Ugh. Never again.

What if he just asked? Abbacchio was a dick, but he seemed focused on blatantly ignoring literally everything around him right now, including the most recent development in Fugo’s futile attempt to teach Narancia math.

“Hey, Abbacchio, are you gonna eat that cake?” Mista asked as Narancia screamed something back and flicked out his knife and then Bucciarati’s angry voice cut through any response Abbacchio would’ve given him. Which was seeming to be none.

Bucciarati had brought a new guy. Mista’d been the newest member up until now. How long had it been since he’d joined? A bit over a year? Mista set his teacup down to take in the boy standing next to Bucciarati. It only took a few seconds to size him up and down. Blond. Young. Unnaturally pretty for a dude. Weird fashion sense - though, he supposed, that fit with the rest of them. All in all? Not the right type of person to be in the mafia.

Mista figured, once again, that that probably went for all of them though.

After a second, he decided that ignoring the blond seemed to be the best thing to do, as none of the others seemed particularly interested either. Abbacchio’s sudden, intense glarefest aside. Speaking of Abbacchio, that strawberry cake of his- wait, what the fuck was he doing, was that his dick?

‘Poor kid’s in for it now,’ Mista thought to himself as he hid his snicker behind the teacup. Abbacchio passed the cup over and it only took the blond a second too late to realize just what it was he’d been offered. And then the absolute madman drank it.

Just like that, all attention was on the newcomer - Giorno, he’d said his name was - and the potential abilities of his Stand and while the whole piss debacle had been very entertaining, it was clear Giorno didn’t like to kiss and tell, and Mista still hadn’t gotten his cake, dammit! What a shit day it was turning out to be.

That sentiment had proved far more correct than he’d initially thought because everything went to absolute shit starting from there. He just hadn’t known at the time. If he had, he woulda- well, he woulda done something. Although he wasn’t sure anything he could say or do would’ve prevented the subsequent events upon Giorno’s arrival from occurring, save killing the blond himself. And Mista hated himself for even thinking that.

All the same, the whole boat thing happened and boy, was that fun. Mista decided that his new least favorite thing was being fucking deflated and thrown around by some asshole like a limpass condom. Zucchero got off way too easy; Mista woulda liked to use his limbs for some target practice.

He ended up getting that target practice when he chose to go with Giorno to Capri. The kid had a good idea and something about him intrigued Mista. Besides his fine ass, of course. Call him gay, but Mista wasn’t above appreciating the beauty of nature’s curvature, whatever gender that took form in.

They’d talked briefly in the car ride over to the yacht rental place. It had been awkward, all of them squeezing into the oversized mom van Bucciarati liked to drive around when they were all together. Room for all of them, plus everything they could possibly need. One time, Mista had forgotten his favorite beanie at his apartment and Bucciarati had produced an exact replica from literally nowhere, pulling it from a zipper in the floor of the car. That man’s maternal instincts were spot on, no matter he said.

Bruno was driving, and there was a brief scuffle between Narancia and Fugo over who got to ride shotgun until Abbacchio blatantly ignored them, walked past and sat down in the seat himself. The silent glare his violet eyes shot them was screaming ‘Go ahead. I dare you.’ The two decided they were content in the back. That left Mista to sit next to Giorno in the very back row, having to pull the seats back there up to make room for them. It was a little too clunky for Mista, but Giorno seemed perfectly content in the cramped space, even managing to cross his legs like some Greek statue. Mista thought he seemed terribly posh.

“You like strawberries, then?”

Mista had barely even realized the boy had spoken over the din Fugo and Narancia just created naturally. Inclining his head to look at Giorno, he shrugged his shoulders. “I guess.”

This didn’t seem to be the response the blond had been looking for, as his expression shifted from one of calm curiosity to what looked possibly like embarrassment- if the blond could get embarrassed, that was.

“I mean, yeah, ‘course I do,” Mista found himself backtracking. “Who doesn’t, y’know? ‘Specially on cake.”

Giorno seemed far more happy with this answer, his face lighting up- well, his face didn’t really change. ‘It’s in the eyes,’ Mista thought to himself. Giorno himself may not be very expressive, but his eyes were.

“I noticed you didn’t get your cake earlier.” The blond reached to pull something out of his pocket and held it out to Mista. It was a small, firetruck red ladybug, perched contentedly in the palm of his hand.

“Heh,” Mista’s surprise coming out before he could help himself. “Thanks, but just ‘cause they’re the same color doesn’t-”

Mista’s breath caught in his throat as the ladybug suddenly winked at him. No, that wasn’t right, ladybugs can’t wink; it was its eye itself that was changing colors somehow, growing larger with each passing second. In fact, the entire little bug had started to morph, tiny limbs shrunk in on a misshapen body as it shifted into… a slice of strawberry cake?

The slice of strawberry cake, Mista realized, as the single bite Abbacchio had managed before all hell broke loose stared back at him.

“How did you-”

“I suppose you’ll need a fork too.” Mista half expected him to pull out another bug or something, but instead he just passed him a small, silver fork he must’ve pocketed from the restaurant. “You don’t think they’ll miss this, do you?”

Mista stared at it before switching his gaze back to Giorno, a wide grin stretching across his face. “Nah. Who counts the cutlery anyway?” he drawled, taking the fork and digging into the soft yellow cake. He scarfed down the nearly-too-large-for-his-mouth bite with all the ferocity of a starving lion. “Delish.”

“You’ll get cream all over your face, you know,” Giorno chided but the childish smirk on his face told Mista that he was teasing him.

“Y’know, you ain’t so bad, Giorno,” he conceded. Taking another forkful of cake, this time he held it out for the blond. “Want a bite?”

“…I’ll just take this instead.” Elegant fingers plucked the ripe strawberry from the top of the cake, bringing them to his lips as he bit into it with a quiet crunch of the berry. Its soft flesh folded in on itself, juice escaping in small rivulets. The flash of white teeth between red-stained lips as Giorno pulled away from the fruit mesmerized Mista, watching as that pink tongue flashed out to lick up the drops of sweet juice.

Realizing he was staring, Mista quickly looked back down to the fork to eat the bite of cake left suspended in the moment. When he glanced back over at him, Giorno’s green eyes flicked back up to meet Mista’s and the sly smile on his face told Mista that maybe he’d wanted him to stare.

“Not bad,” Mista repeated with a laugh, settling back into his seat to polish off the cake, the others oblivious to what had just transpired. “Not bad at all…”

Chapter Text

“I’m sorry.”

Mista had to hold back a sigh of complete and utter misery; this was what, the millionth time Giorno had apologized to him in the span of a couple hours? Okay, maybe he was exaggerating, but that’s what it felt like.

“Dude, it’s fine, I’ve told ya that already,” he replied as patiently as he could- which meant it came out sounding more like a growl and that clearly didn’t make anything better, as he could tell from the corners of Giorno’s eyes briefly crinkling that the blond had winced at his tone.

Trying to soften his voice, Mista added, “Look, we both went to Capri and just ‘cuz I fought the guy and you didn’t doesn’t mean ya gotta get all bent outta shape about it. It’s fine, you’ll get other chances to show your stuff.”

“That’s not what I-”

“Can you two dumbasses shut the fuck up for five fucking seconds?” Abbacchio’s voice came from the front of the car. He’d been saddled with driving the two of them plus Narancia, while Bucciarati took Fugo and their newest charge Trish, to the safehouse. It was Bucciarati’s idea; he hadn’t wanted Trish to get overwhelmed with all the new people.

In Mista’s opinion, they were the ones who would be overwhelmed by Trish, not the other way around.

Narancia was passed out in the passenger seat, snoring softly with a content expression on his face from having gotten shotgun without so much as a fuss. Giorno and Mista had been fine with sharing the back. Abbacchio had not been fine with driving them.

“I want to fucking listen to my music, and I can’t do that if you’re talking, so shut the fuck up before I wire your mouths shut for you.”

Definitely not fine.

Giorno shot a glance at Mista, who just shrugged his shoulders and mimed zipping his lips and throwing the key out the window. The blond nodded and settled back into his chair, but judging from his green eyes glinting in the light, this conversation wasn’t over.

It was another hour before they reached the safehouse, somewhere nondescript and off the radar, where no one knew them and no one should know them. Mista had stretched when he first stepped out of the car, taking in the countryside of the rolling hills before them. No matter how many times he saw them, he always thought how much he loved his home.

Hearing voices coming from behind him, he turned to see Bucciarati standing next to the other car, a bit away from the others and closer to the cliff’s edge, talking quietly with Giorno. Their heads were bowed and it was clear they were on alert for anyone who might’ve been eavesdropping, even though the only guy who would possibly care was busy drinking himself into a stupor with the untouched liquor supply in the safehouse.

Mista rested his hands on his hips as he bent around to comment on some stupid thing Narancia had just said, earning an angry glare from the shorter boy and a chuckle from Fugo, who quickly moved the attention back to their most recent argument, something about whether or not tacos counted as sandwiches.

But even as he listened to them bicker, Mista watched Giorno out of the corner of his eye, cataloguing the blond’s every movement. How the sun behind him made it seem like he was glowing. When his body language shifted just enough to convey the emotions that weren’t displayed on his face. The way he brushed a strand of golden hair behind his ear almost absentmindedly, as if it was out of habit rather than necessity. How his green eyes lit up when he noticed Mista watching him, a soft smile and brief wave enough to send a wave of heat across Mista’s cheeks.

‘Yes,’ he thought to himself with a nod, ‘Not bad at all,’ as he watched Giorno gesture to Bucciarati shooting another quick glance at Mista before looking back at the capo. Bucciarati’s blue eyes shifted up to land on where Mista had been watching them and the expression on his capo’s face told Mista that somehow Bucciarati knew everything he’d been thinking. Even when he wasn’t quite sure what he was thinking.

Bucciarati gave a nod in agreement and then Giorno had turned around and was walking back over to them, golden braid bouncing over one shoulder with each confident stride. Mista’d never seen someone carry themselves the way Giorno did. Like he knew he was meant for something more than whatever was going on now.

“Oi, Giorno, you agree with me, right?!”

Narancia’s shrill voice broke Mista out of his thoughts as he remembered that he was with the others right now. Giorno’s green eyes shifted to study the smaller raven-haired boy and Mista found he was a bit sad to lose that gaze.

“Agree with you on what, Narancia?” Giorno asked with all the patience of a Saint.

“That a taco- mmph!” He was cut off when Fugo slapped his hand over Narancia’s mouth, muffling any persuasion he might’ve attempted.

“Giorno, would you say a taco is a sandwich or in its own food group?” Fugo, to his credit, kept his hand over Narancia’s even when it was obvious that Narancia was drooling all over it, as evidenced from the spit dripping down his chin. He did, however, yank away when Narancia bit him. Hard. “Narancia! You little fucking gremlin, I’ll fucking-”

“Well, I would say a sandwich consists of bread and a filling,” Giorno’s musings interrupted the Wrath and Might Fugo was about to rain down upon Narancia and the two swivelled to stare at him intently, awaiting his verdict. “As a taco is made from a tortilla, I would assume it is not, in fact, a sandwich. Though I can’t say I’ve ever really had one before.”

“Yes! I told you, you piece of shit!”

“No, c’mon, it’s totally a sandwich!” Narancia wailed, clearly more distraught over the fact that he was wrong instead of his near-death experience Fugo almost gave him. “Giorno, you traitor! I hate you!”

“Aw, c’mon, Narancia, I agreed with you.” Mista slapped a hand on Narancia’s shoulder, trying to console the smaller boy.

“You don’t count, Mista,” Fugo explained gleefully. “As you are, in fact, a complete buffoon.”

“I am not!”

“Sorry Mista, but you kind of are.”

“Narancia, I’m on your side!” Feeling very betrayed and just the slightest bit insulted, he crossed his arms over his chest in a huff. “Not like you’re any smarter,” he pouted.

“For what it’s worth, I think you’re very smart, Mista.” Giorno, God bless his little golden soul, was clearly an angel sent from Heaven. Mista knew if he was a good person (mostly) and did good things (besides the occasional murder, and only when they deserved it), he’d get rewarded and that reward was obviously Giorno.

“You’ve known him what, a day?” Fugo scoffed as he strolled over to Narancia, who was pouting very obviously about his brilliant theory being shot down by not one, but two people in the span of ten minutes. “Just wait, Giorno, you’ll see. Come on, Narancia, stop pouting.” He was already leading the smaller boy towards the safehouse, an arm around his shoulders amicably. “How about I make you a taco, hmm? I’ll even add chanterelles, just for you.”

“Why would I want to eat a chandelier?”

“The mushrooms, Narancia.” Fugo sounded like he was desperately holding back from beating his friend senseless. “The orange ones.”

“The fancy ones?!”

“Yes, those.”

“Yay! Fugo, I love you!” Narancia practically threw himself on the blond. Fugo just sighed, muttering something out of earshot as he continued his walk into the safehouse, basically carrying Narancia along with him.

“I can’t tell if they’re the best of friends or if they despise each other.” Right, Giorno was next to him still. Outside. Alone.

“I can’t tell that and I’ve known them for over a year. I’m not sure they even know.” Giorno nodded, his head cocked to the side as if he was thinking about something- which, after having known the guy for all of half a day, Mista knew he probably was. “So‘s it true?”

“Is what true?” The blond’s expression was calm, refined, but the way his features seemed pinched right next to brow, his green eyes flashing sharply, something was clearly on his mind. Mista wondered what he was so worried about.

“That you’ve really never had a taco.”

“Oh.” Giorno immediately seemed more relaxed, some of the tension in his shoulders draining away as he thought for a moment before responding, “I didn’t have the most exotic childhood, so yes, it is true.”

“‘Exotic’?” Mista laughed. “That your way of sayin’ you’re sheltered?”

“In a way.” There was something Giorno wasn’t telling him, but Mista wasn’t really the prying type. Okay, maybe he was, but he didn’t wanna be with Giorno for some reason.

“Well what’re you waiting for, C’mon, let’s go make ya one.”

“…Is that allowed?” Giorno’s voice was soft, a sort of quiet that made him sound questioning and concerned. To Mista, he sounded like a child asking if he could play too.

“No shit,” he answered heartily, slapping Giorno’s back so hard that the blond stumbled forwards, flashing what he hoped was an enthusiastic grin. “You’re one of us now, kid.”

Giorno seemed to stand a little taller when he said that, the ghost of a smile crossing the corners of his lips as he followed Mista into the safehouse. Mista tried to ignore the way Giorno’s fingers brushed briefly against his when the blond reached his side.

Chapter Text

It was just a little after 2 AM, and the safehouse was dead silent. Well, as silent as an old house in the countryside could be: the wind rustling the shutters latched outside the windows, the sound of an occasional ocean wave hitting the cliff side in just the right way, creaks of beams and boards continuing to settle for the night. It was Mista’s shift on guard duty and he was in the middle of feeding the Pistols a late night snack with the remnants of the tacoes Fugo had made, listening to the not-so-silent silence when,

“Mista?”

“Fuck!” He swung around wildly, knocking half the cooked meat on the floor in the process as his arms pinwheeled to balance himself, heart rapidly pumping in his chest. All efforts failed miserably and he landed flat on his ass on the kitchen floor. Leave it to Mista to make a complete and utter fool of himself.

“Sorry.” Giorno winced, offering a hand to where Mista had fell, Sex Pistols flitting around him and laughing their asses off. Except Five- bless his little heart-soul-thing, who was fretting over him and hoping he wasn’t hurt. “Are you alright?”

“Fine,” Mista answered as he took Giorno’s hand and was hauled to his feet by a surprising amount of strength from someone who looked like Giorno. “That was intentional. I meant to do that. It was, uh, to show you what not to do. Yeah, that’s what it was.”

“Was it now? Very educational, thank you for the demonstration, Mista.”

Mista grinned sheepishly, cheeks flushing at the knowing wink Giorno gave him. “So, uh, couldn’t sleep?”

The blond’s features hardened slightly and he sighed before nodding. “Nightmares,” were the quiet explanation he gave and, when he left the kitchen and headed towards the sitting room, Mista followed, leaving Pistols to their own devices. The food was more than enough distraction for them.

“Wanna talk about it?” he said as he fell onto the couch beside Giorno, doing his absolute best not to wonder what a guy like Giorno could possibly be dreaming of. And to keep his mind out of the gutter.

“I’d rather talk about you.” Mista made a choking noise that seemed to alarm Giorno because he quickly clarified with, “the conversation from earlier? In the car?”

“Oh. That. You really ain’t gonna let it go? I toldja, it’s fine, so-”

“Mista, I didn’t care that I didn’t get to fight alongside you.” His brow furrowed as he said, “Well, I did, but not because I wanted to prove my use like you suggested. I cared because I was concerned for you.”

“Yeah, I heard that ya hijacked that truck to go find me. Heh, poor driver musta been scared shitless.” When Giorno didn’t laugh with him, Mista sighed. “Okay, so you were worried. But I’m fine! See? Right here, nothin’ to worry about.”

“It isn’t quite that, it’s…” his voice was barely above a whisper as he said, “You believed in me. And I betrayed that belief.”

“Whoa, whoa, betrayed? Giorno, you didn’t do anything wrong!”

“I wasn’t there to assist with a plan that I, myself, suggested and you were almost killed because of it.”

“I was barely hurt-” Giorno shot him a pointed look and Mista winced as he clarified, “-fine, I got shot, but nowhere serious! I didn’t almost die, it just hurt like a bitch. And look, if anything, I shoulda waited for you like we first said. Bucciarati chewed me out for that big time.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Stop apologizing.” The blond still looked defeated and Mista honestly didn’t really know what to do at this point. He didn’t really get what Giorno was so worried about, but with a job (could you call it a job?) like theirs, these kinda feelings weren’t good to have.

“Look, Giorno,” he tried to explain. “You’re right that I went with you because I believed in you. It was a good idea. But you’re wrong that it’s your fault that everything that went wrong went wrong. You can’t control everything. It’s not your fault that we didn’t know there was a backdoor, and it’s not your fault that I couldn’t tell what you were saying, and it’s not your fault that I chased after Sale and got myself shot like a complete dumbass in the process. You didn’t betray anything, okay?”

“…Alright.”

“Good.” Mista grinned at Giorno, resting a hand on his shoulder as he added, “Anyone ever tell you ya have a flair for the dramatic?”

“Like my father, I suppose.” The blond’s face twisted into a purposefully blank expression. “That’s what mother said once, anyway. Not that I could tell you if she was correct or not.”

“Don’t know your dad?”

Giorno looked at him as though he was trying to decide whether or not to answer Mista. “Let’s just say it was a bit complicated.” Gripping his arms like that, hunched over on himself with an unreadable expression, Mista thought Giorno seemed so much smaller right then.

He’d pulled Giorno into a bit of an awkward one-sided hug before he’d really processed what he was doing, and then he was stuck between loving the feeling of the blond pressed against him and cursing himself for acting so brazenly. He also wondered why Giorno smelled so good.

To his credit, Giorno only seemed to stiffen for a split second before easing into the hug, the tension seeming to drain from his shoulders as a soft sigh escaped his lips. Mista watched his blond eyelashes flutter, the sleeplessness catching up to the younger boy in the dim moonlit room. They caught the faint light just right, looking so fair that they were nearly white. Mista thought it wasn’t really fair how one person could be so damn attractive. He also thought maybe he wasn’t as straight as he’d always thought he was.

“…this is nice.”

The whisper caught Mista off guard and he had to double check that Giorno had actually spoke and that it wasn’t some kind of figment of his overactive imagination. “Yeah?” He squeezed the blond’s shoulder. “Think you can get some sleep now?”

“I…” Giorno seemed to carefully consider exactly what he wanted to say before his green gaze flitted to meet Mista’s as he murmured, “I don’t know. The silence, it’s… painful.”

Mista was pretty sure he meant something aside from the silence but even still, he shifted into Giorno as he began slowly, “Well, if ya wanted… you could sleep down here? With me? I-I mean by me? I mean- like, I’m on watch but, uh, I could-”

“I understand what you meant, Mista.” God, how could Giorno make his name sound like something so fucking beautiful? “I-”

It was at that exact moment that the Pistols came floating lazily into the room with full Stand-stomach-things and sleepy yawns. One caught sight of them and said, “Gross, are you gonna kiss or something?” and Mista pulled away in less than a second, leaping up from the couch to yank Pistols back into his hat with a flushed face.

“Really, my kids’re so damn rude,” Mista laughed with a shake of his head and a shrug of his shoulders as he made his way back to the couch. This time, he sat down a couple inches away, hopefully not enough distance to insult Giorno but enough to give them some space.

He glanced at Giorno, the blond’s gaze fixed on the floor as if thinking, and, wanting to strike conversation again, added, “I don’t know where I went wrong raising them.”

“Well.” Giorno, gracious enough to take the bait, paused. He seemed to lean in a bit as he suggested softly, “…Perhaps they need a maternal touch?”

Mista swallowed thickly and said before he could stop himself, “…I think they’re out of luck then.”

“Are they?” Mista was sure now, Giorno was definitely leaning in closer to him. Whether that was because he was actually trying something or whether it was just Mista’s brain reading into the small action way too much was up for debate. Mista didn’t worry about it much longer as Giorno cleared his throat and asked, “Why is that?”

Surely he was dreaming. There was no way that this was happening. Mista was not currently straight enough to be well equipped to handle this situation, no matter what he might’ve thought about it a day or two ago. Whatever, who gave a shit? Certainly not Mista. A nice ass was a nice ass and a nice face was a nice face and if that made him gay, what fucking ever. All his years of flirting and courting were about to pay off and he opened his mouth and said-

“Get a fucking room.”

Mista nearly jumped off the goddamn couch as he started in fright, head whipping around and gun yanked out to reveal- Fugo, standing in the doorway with a curious expression. His arms were crossed and one eyebrow was raised just enough for Mista to notice, his calculating violet gaze clearly putting two and two together at lightning speed. Mista’d always hated how perceptive Fugo was.

“Aw, fuck off, asshole,” he grumbled irritatedly, getting up from the couch. “Why’re you down here anyway?”

“It’s my watch. Although, if you’d like to stay and do mine instead-”

“No! God, fuck no, it’s my fucking bedtime.” And then he thought of Giorno, of how the blond had basically confessed he couldn’t sleep alone and how he’d just offered to stay with him a minute ago.

Before he could even turn around to say something, however, Giorno was brushing past him, hand resting against Mista’s shoulder as he murmured softly in his ear, “Thank you. See you in the morning, Mista.”

Mista watched him disappear up the stairs, frozen in place. Part of him wanted to chase after Giorno and repeat his offer, a second, more cautionary, part of him said maybe that wasn’t the best idea, and a third part just wanted to go the fuck to sleep and forget this whole damn thing.

“I didn’t realize you were gay.”

Right. Fugo.

“Yeah?” Mista snapped, shooting a glare at the shorter boy. “Well, I didn’t realize you were a nosy bitch, wow, guess you really do learn somethin’ new everyday.”

“I didn’t say there was anything wrong with it.”

“And I didn’t fucking say you were right, so shut up.” Mista’s pride was hurt for some reason, and it probably had something to do with how Fugo always seemed to know stuff about all of them before any of them even realized it. Which meant-

No, fuck it. It was too goddamn late (early?) for this and who knew when Mista’d get to sleep next? They were on a mission for fuck’s sake, what was he doing have a sexuality crisis at three in the morning? There were far more important things at stake.

He made a beeline for his room, pausing only for a moment outside Giorno’s door, before going to his own and promptly collapsing on the bed. Time to sleep like the fucking dead.

And if Giorno found Five curled up next to his pillow the next morning, well, Mista had absolutely no idea how that happened. The Pistols had always had a mind of their own.

Chapter Text

“I still think I shoulda gone too.”

“Yes, Mista, I believe you’ve made that quite clear,” was Bucciarati’s patient reply. The man was seated in the armchair off to the side of the sitting room while Mista lounged across the couch and didn’t pay attention to whatever was playing on the TV.

“What if Abbacchio kills him, huh, Bucciarati? What then?”

“Leone would never-” a pause and then, “-do something that I would disapprove of.”

“Pfft, yeah, then he wouldn’t get what you do approve of.”

“Care to repeat that, Mista?”

“Nope, I’m good.” Bucciarati hummed and went back to his paper. Not that Mista was scared of an angry Bucciarati, but uh, he was.

Mista managed to hold his tongue for all of five minutes before he questioned, “But what if something happens and Abbacchio just leaves him there? Or what if something goes wrong and one of ‘em dies? Or what if-”

“What if our newest member gets hurt?”

“I-I wasn’t naming names or-” Bucciarati shot him a look, the one that he used when he was switching into Parental Figure Mode and damn, if it didn’t remind Mista of his mom’s own terrifying stare. “Okay, fine, so I’m worried about Giorno, screw me.”

“He is more than capable of handling himself. I would not have brought along someone any weaker than that,” Bucciarati explained, folding the paper and setting it down on the coffee table. “That being said, I understand your fear. He is, after all, quite young to be doing things like this. You all are.”

“So’re you.”

“That’s my point, Mista. Did you let your age stop you from joining the gang? No. It was the best choice at the time, and you took it. Giorno is doing the same thing- although his motives are different than what yours were.”

“Well yeah, he wasn’t about to get shanked in prison.”

“…That isn’t quite what I meant, but yes, you can interpret it that way.” Bucciarati’s blue-eyed gaze grew scrutinizing as he leaned forward and asked softly, “What is the real reason you’re so concerned, Mista? What about Giorno is different from the rest of us?”

Narancia, who had been silently listening to his music in the other corner of the room, had apparently been eavesdropping the whole damn time, being the little fucking gremlin that he was, answered first. “He’s gay for him.”

“What the fuck, Nara?!”

“Fugo told me, you guys were making out last night.” Narancia’s face scrunched up as he made a show of his disgust and stuck out his tongue. “You’re both gross.”

“We were not making out, dumbass!” Mista’s cheeks were burning and he could feel Bucciarati analyzing every little thing about his reaction. “That fucking piece of shit, I’m gonna fucking kill him! Screw Purple Haze, he’ll be dead before he knows what fucking hit him!”

“Mista, please do not kill your own teammates,” Bucciarati finally spoke up. “And Narancia, don’t tease Mista. I’m sure they both have the good sense to do that sort of thing in a private space-” he held up a hand to keep Mista from denying it further as he added, “-if they chose to do that sort of thing. Which I don’t believe they would do.”

“Thank God.”

“Because they’ve only known each other a day now.”

“Bucciarati!”

“You are both old enough to know what you want,” Bucciarati said. “If you choose to pursue a deeper relationship, that’s no one’s business but your own. Narancia, if you would give Mista and I a bit of space, I would greatly appreciate it.”

Narancia looked a little irritated that he was being sent from the room, but he grabbed his CD player and skulked from the room. Hopefully to go sit in the corner like the little fucking three year old he was, Mista thought.

“Now then. Is what Narancia said true?”

“What?! No!” Maybe the crack in his voice wasn’t the best indication that he was being entirely truthful, but Mista didn’t really wanna have this talk. Especially not with Bucciarati. Oh God, what if he tried to tell Mista about the birds and the bees?! He was so much like a mom, he totally might, oh fuck.

“Alright, I believe you.” Bucciarati clearly didn’t, not fully anyways, but Mista wasn’t about to argue with him. “But I do believe there is a reason you’re so concerned.”

“…He wasn’t sleeping good, alright?” It wasn’t a lie and Giorno hadn’t said anything about not telling the others. So why did Mista feel a little guilty about sharing this? “He was up in the middle of the night from nightmares.”

Bucciarati’s face softened. “He’s only fifteen. Barely older than a child. I can only imagine how shocking it must be to witness all these things. He acts so mature, you tend to forget.”

Mista nodded in agreement. “I wanted to tell him it was okay to be scared, but I don’t think that was the problem. He’s… a lot more complicated than the rest of us.”

“That’s certainly one way to put it.” It was obvious that Bucciarati knew something that Mista didn’t, and Mista had caught on from the very start. While it wasn’t strange for Bucciarati to bring a new gang member to join them, it was weird that Giorno had all of his trust almost instantly. It was weird that Bucciarati would listen to his plans without so much as a second thought. And it was especially weird that Bucciarati seemed to be consulting with Giorno more than his number two Fugo, or his partner Abbacchio.

“What’s up with him, Bucciarati? I’m serious. What’s Giorno’s deal?”

Ice blue eyes flicked up to stare at Mista, probably calculating exactly what he should say and whether or not he could. “…That is for him to tell you, Mista. I shall not step in where he wouldn’t want me to. But know that Giorno… his soul is noble and his intentions are pure.”

Mista snorted. “Well I knew that, you wouldn’t’a brought him with if you didn’t believe in him.” Mista stood up from the couch and stretched his arms overhead. “It’s almost three, I’m gonna go get Pistols a snack.”

Bucciarati made a grunt of acknowledgement, clearly happy to go back to his paper. Mista watched him for a few seconds and decided he’d speak up, even if it maybe wasn’t what Giorno would want.

“Hey, Bucciarati?” The older man looked up to meet his gaze. “About the noble and pure stuff? You don’t gotta tell me that, but… maybe you should tell Giorno.”

Chapter Text

There was an uneasy tension that had settled over the group after their close encounter on the train. Trish was practically oozing irritation, clearly directed at Bucciarati judging by the glances she kept giving the older man. As far as Bruno went, he was trying his best to not pay any attention to her and read his novel but he was doing a pretty bad job of it, seeing as he’d been on the same page for the last twenty minutes.

Abbacchio was busy doing… whatever he did with those headphones. Maybe it was cool jazz, maybe it was screamo, maybe he was just listening to porn, honestly Mista just couldn’t read the guy. Narancia was entirely focused on trying to balance his pencil between his lip and nose while Fugo stared off into space instead of attempting to teach Narancia the latest in their math escapades. Something about complex fractions.

As for Giorno, well… the blond had been quiet ever since Bucciarati returned from the Grateful Dead fight. It was normal, really, but Mista could tell he was probably wallowing in frustration or self-deprecation or whatever he felt about ‘not doing enough’ again.

Everyone was trying to distract themselves from the big questions in the room and everyone was failing. Everyone but Mista, who was too busy thinking about Giorno, and Narancia, who was too busy… well, not thinking.

Deciding that he’d just take matters into his own hands, Mista turned to Narancia and said, “Hey Nara, truth or dare?”

Narancia barely spared Fugo a second glance, and when it seemed the blond wasn’t going to protest, he eagerly spun to face Mista as he yelled enthusiastically, “Dare!”

A wide smirk crossed Mista’s face. He’d been waiting for this. Narancia always always always picked dare; in fact, Mista was pretty sure the brunette had never chosen truth once in the entire time Mista had known him. Perfect.

“Drink Aerosmith’s jet fuel.”

To his credit, Narancia only seemed mildly surprised for maybe half a second before he crowed, “You’re on!” and called out his Stand.

Giorno, having quite obviously noticed the development, decided that he wasn’t going to ignore it like Abbacchio was and pretend that maybe his subordinates weren’t trying to take care of themselves before the enemy even got to them like Bucciarati was. Hell, Bucciarati knew by now that he couldn’t stop them.

“You aren’t going to stop him, Fugo?” Giorno asked curiously.

Fugo shrugged, finally setting down the math book that he’d been holding to eye the group with a bored expression. “He has no grey matter left; therefore, he has nothing to lose.”

Narancia paused his search for Aerosmith’s fuel tank long enough to ask, “What’s grey matter?”

“It’s what makes up your brain.”

“Ha! You’re an idiot, Fugo!” the smaller boy cried in delight as he switched his attention back to his Stand. “Brains are pink, not gray! Now who’s the stupid one?”

“Still you,” Fugo answered with a roll of his eyes as he turned to Giorno. “See my point?”

“Indeed. Narancia, I don’t believe that your Stand has any fuel. It is, after all, not a real plane.”

“How dare you!” Narancia was clearly insulted for some reason, even though Giorno had a point, and Mista felt kind of stupid for suggesting it now. Obviously Aerosmith had no fuel, it basically ran on Narancia’s life force or whatever it was Stands ran on.

“You could try eating the bullets instead?”

Mista almost couldn’t believe that suggestion came out of Giorno’s mouth and, judging by the smirk on the blond’s face, he was very pleased with it. Mista thought he was liking Giorno more and more with each passing second.

“That’s a great idea!”

Bucciarati apparently had decided that was enough because he fixed Narancia with a sharp look as he said slowly, “No one is eating any bullets today. At least not intentionally. Mista, pick a different dare. Giorno, I expected better from you.”

Before Giorno could look too guilty, Mista slung an arm around him as he said, “Sure, whatever you say, mom.” Fugo and Narancia burst into giggles and Giorno cracked a grin as Bucciarati just sighed resignedly and went back to his book.

“Lick your dick or whatever, then,” Mista drawled offhandedly, ignoring how Narancia instantly went to work undressing, much to Trish’s shriek of horror and Fugo’s yell of protest. “Don’t take Bucciarati too seriously,” Mista leaned in to whisper in Giorno’s ear as Fugo busied himself trying to get Narancia to stop. “He’s just pissed he has another kid to watch.”

“I see,” Giorno mused. “Abbacchio leaves all the parenting to Bucciarati, I take it.”

Mista’s eyes widened as he barked a laugh and slapped Giorno on the back, pulling away as he tried to muffle his chortles. “Yeah, yeah, that’s it exactly! Poor mom can barely take it!”

Apparently having had enough, Abbacchio glared at them as he yelled, “Shut the fuck up!”

“Alright, dad.”

Abbacchio looked positively murderous as the rest of the room erupted in laughter, even Bucciarati cracking a small grin at Giorno’s sass.

“I will kill you, Giovanna, don’t fucking try me.”

This time, Giorno just nodded and Abbacchio, feeling content enough with his threat, went back to whatever blared through those headphones of his. Mista heard Narancia asking Fugo, “Truth or dare?” and frowned in confusion.

“Did you really lick your own dick?”

“You didn’t say it had to be physically mine,” Narancia said simply, and honestly? Mista didn’t want to know whatever he meant by that. He could probably figure it out, judging by the way Fugo smacked him upside the head but Mista was more than content not imagining whatever his two friends had just done while the rest of them were distracted.

“I’ll go with truth,” Fugo replied, clearly wanting to shift the conversation, and Mista was more than willing to oblige.

“What’s it gonna be, Nara?”

“Um…” Narancia had clearly thought of a dare instead of truth, like he always did, and needed a second, before asking, “If you had to have tiny gorillas for hands or tiny sharks for feet, which would you pick?”

“What the fuck, Narancia? The gorillas, obviously. Extra fists to beat the shit out of you with.”

Narancia humphs in agreement, pleased with Fugo’s explanation until he realized what he actually said, and shrieked indignantly while yanking out his switchblade.

Fugo, one arm out to hold Narancia back, said, “Now that that’s done, Giorno. Truth or dare?”

Giorno looked surprised, and whether or not that was because he was surprised to be included or surprised that Fugo would ask him out of everyone, Mista didn’t know. He just knew he was very interested in whatever Fugo was going to ask when Giorno inevitably replied with, “I think I’ll choose truth.”

“I have a lot of questions for you-” Mista supposed that was fair, this was Fugo after all, “-but I think I’ll just start with a simple one. What do you think of all of us?”

“Oooh, good question, Fugo!” Narancia gave up on his attempts to stab the blond as he swung around to stare excitedly at Giorno.

“Well that’s hardly fair,” Giorno debated, not looking nearly as concerned as Mista was at the moment. “There’s five of you, surely that’s five questions, not one?”

“I’ll pick just one person then.” When Giorno nodded, Fugo smirked, flashing a quick glance at Mista before saying, “Tell us about Mista.”

Mista was torn between wanting to murder Fugo in the most painful way possible and wanting to kiss every single hair on the blond boy’s head. Judging by the wink Fugo shot him, this was clearly meant to be a good thing. Mista didn’t really know how he thought he knew that Giorno ‘s response would be a good one, but he figured that they’d also just laugh it was a bad impression. Not that Mista could really blame Giorno if it was.

“Mista, hmm?” Giorno cocked his head to the side as he looked at the brunette sat beside him, who was desperately wishing he could just fade out of existence right about now. “I suppose a close friend? Well, as close as one could be after knowing each other for just a few days. He has given me… a very important perspective that I was lacking, and has helped me stay grounded. I’m greatly appreciative that I have him by my side, and I hope he will stay there even when this is over.”

Mista kind of just stared in shock, a squeaking noise escaping his throat as he quickly clamped his mouth shut before it could come out all the way. God, why was Giorno so fucking perfect? Not only was he hot, he was sweet too, holy fuck, a guy like Mista didn’t deserve to be anywhere near someone as pure as him.

Noticing that the others were staring at him, Giorno averted his gaze as he explained, “I admit, I’m not used to expressing my thoughts about someone out loud, so forgive me if that sounded at all strange.”

“No, no, not strange at all! We were just kinda surprised.” Fugo was quick to alleviate any of the awkwardness, as usual. “It’s just when that kind of thing’s asked, we use it as an excuse to rail on each other.”

“I think it’s quite refreshing to have someone give an honest opinion,” Bucciarati’s voice came from the other side of the turtle, letting them know that he’d still been listening even if it didn’t seem that way. “I’ve always thought you all are too hard on each other.”

“We get along great, mom, don’t worry!”

Bucciarati just sighed. He couldn’t even be mad, not when he knew Narancia sincerely meant it. “Thank you, Narancia.”

“Giorno, it’s your turn! Go!”

“Oh, um, I’m not very good at thinking of things like this. Perhaps you would like to go for me, Narancia?”

Boy, did he ever. Narancia leapt from the couch he as lounging across to latch onto Bucciarati’s leg, literally pulling him into the game as he spouted off a billion stupid questions for when Bucciarati picked truth. He was the only one of them smart enough to never pick dare.

“I hope I didn’t make you feel uncomfortable.” A soft whisper from his left drew Mista’s attention back to Giorno, who was looking at him coolly.

“Nah, you’re fine,” Mista answered, clearing his throat as he added, “And me too. Uh, that you’re my friend, I mean. I-I think that too.”

“I’m glad,” and Giorno looked like he really meant it, his green eyes sparkling beautifully, “I haven’t had a true friend before, so… it’s a nice feeling. Being with you.”

Mista would normally have pointed out that that sounded really gay if it was anyone else, but this was Giorno, and not only did the blond seem to not have a great idea of social cues, Mista wouldn’t really mind if it was gay. Not with a guy like Giorno.

“Well, I ain’t going anywhere.” He said that quietly, mostly because he didn’t want the others hearing, but also because it felt like this was something private, like it was an intimate moment that he wasn’t willing to give to anyone else but Giorno. Mista wanted more of those.

“Good.”

When Giorno’s hand slipped over his own where it rested on the couch, the soft skin feeling warm and right against his own, Mista didn’t pull away. Not even when Fugo shot him a knowing look and a wink when Giorno wasn’t looking.

Chapter Text

“Hey look…” Narancia’s voice cut through Mista’s thoughts as he was carefully undoing the lock on the car door, almost causing him to push the wrong way and set off the car alarm. Before he got the chance to yell at Narancia for it, the frantic words of, “What’s going on over there?!” and a shaking finger pointing towards where Giorno was had Mista dropping his tools and breaking into a sprint.

He could see what had made Narancia so worried: smoke was billowing over the top of the wall that surrounded the parking lot, flames licking the edges and casting dark shadows across Giorno’s figure, who stood in front of the flaming wreckage holding the turtle.

“Oi, Giorno!”

The blond turned to look at Mista, his hair lit aglow by the fire. He looked icily calm for someone who was spattered with- oh fuck, was that blood?!

Mista yanked his gun out, looking around wildly as he vaulted the wall. Satisfied that there was no one in the immediate vicinity, he shoved the gun down his pants and began searching Giorno for the source of all that blood. He could hear the others running after him, but all his attention was on the blond.

“Where’re you hurt?!”

Giorno grabbed Mista’s roving hands and held them up to his chest, looking him directly in the eye as he said, “Calm down, Mista. I’m perfectly alright.”

“You sure as hell don’t look it! That’s so much red, man!”

“Is red not my color?”

“You-” Mista took a sharp inhale and allowed the smirk to cross his face as he stepped back to scratch the back of his head. “I guess if you can crack shit jokes like that, you must be okay.”

“What the fuck, you two?!” Fugo’s angry voice drew both of them back to the others, who were now reaching them as well with Narancia bringing up the rear and clambering over the wall. “What the hell happened?!”

“There was an enemy Stand,” Giorno explained, gesturing behind him. “As you can see, I took care of it.”

“Yeah? Who’s to say this isn’t because of you, hah, Giovanna?” Abbacchio growled, pale hand winding in Giorno’s collar and yanking the smaller boy forwards. “You sure this isn’t your whole fucking plan, to get us separated and make off with Trish yourself?!”

“That isn’t-”

Abbacchio didn’t let Giorno finish whatever he was going to argue, shaking him roughly as he yelled, “Isn’t what, asshole?!”

“Abbacchio, let him go.”

“You shut the fuck up, Mista! Just because you wanna fuck him doesn’t mean he’s not a fucking traitor!”

“I said,” Mista growled, reaching down to pull his gun back out and level it with Abbacchio’s head, “Let him go.”

“Cut it out, guys!” Narancia darted forwards to try to get between the two furious men, who both were blatantly ignoring him.

Abbacchio’s lip curled as he said, “Or what, you fucking coward?” and Mista swallowed thickly as he actively debated the pros and cons of just shooting the damn prick already but he didn’t even get to decide because Fugo had apparently been the only one to have a reasonable reaction. He had gone for the turtle.

“Enough, both of you!” Bucciarati’s harsh voice cut through the tense silence and Mista swivelled to see him standing there, arms crossed over his chest and a furious look in his ice blue eyes. Fugo stood a step behind him, holding the turtle and glaring at all of them.

“Bucciarati, he-”

“I don’t want to hear it, Leone.” Abbacchio stopped mid-sentence and scowled, mouth opening to say something else before thinking better of it. He scoffed angrily but let go of Giorno and held his hands up, stepping back to glare daggers at both of them.

Mista grabbed Giorno’s shoulders and shoved the blond behind him, lowering his gun but keeping it out just in case. In reality, he knew he wouldn’t have actually used it, not unless Abbacchio had tried something, but having it out and in his hand just felt reassuring.

“I’m ashamed of both of you.” Bucciarati was clearly preparing for a lecture and Mista groaned inwardly but decided he’d take it like a man. “Leone, I believe we’ve had this discussion already, but Giorno is one of us now. Questioning him is the same as questioning me- or do you not trust my judgement of character?” Abbacchio scowled but shook his head. “And Mista. Perhaps I haven’t made this clear enough, but you should not, under any circumstances, pull a gun on your own comrades. Am I understood?”

Mista nodded and after a piercing stare from Bucciarati, Abbacchio finally shrugged angrily. Knowing that was the best he’d get, Bucciarati sighed and shook his head. “We all have enough on our plate without inner conflict. Restrain yourselves, the lot of you. Now then, Giorno, what exactly happened?”

Giorno motioned for Bucciarati to join him off to the side so he could tell him quietly without interruptions, shooting a calculating look at Abbacchio as he walked a few meters away. The white-haired man was making a beeline for the turtle and disappeared inside before Fugo could even set Coco Jumbo down.

“Mista, what the fuck were you doing?!” Narancia was looking up at him in alarm, a clear expression of disbelief on his face.

“I’d like to know that as well,” Fugo agreed as he plodded over to join them while Giorno debriefed Bucciarati. “What exactly were you thinking?”

“I just- I was worried, ‘s all.” It was a stupid excuse, but Mista couldn’t really give them any other explanation. It was just sort of a gut instinct at this point; when he or something he cared about was threatened, he went for the gun.

“So were we but you didn’t see us yanking weapons out.”

“Yeah, well I also didn’t see you two trying to stop Abbacchio.”

Fugo shrugged as he said, “For all we know, he has a point.”

“You know he doesn’t!” Mista countered at the same time as Narancia cried, “No way! Giorno gave me his cola when mine spilt, a bad guy would never do that!” ‘Sound logic,’ Mista agreed with a nod of his head.

“I don’t know what I know. And if you had even just one single brain cell, you would think the same thing. It’s not my fault you’re both idiots.” Fugo walked away before Mista had the chance to ask what the fuck he meant and tossed them the turtle as he disappeared inside. Catching it with ease, Mista thudded over to the wall to fall onto it with a heavy sigh.

“…Are you okay?” Narancia sounded genuinely concerned, so Mista glanced up and flashed him a grin.

“I’m fine, little man. You know me, nothing rattles the Mi-star!” Narancia had been the one to come up with the nickname, and while Mista refused to let him call him that in public, when it was just the two of them, it was allowed. That, and Giorno’s whole Gang-Star thing was making him rethink its initial lameness.

At the use of his own creation, Narancia grinned. “Still,” he said with a sigh as he plopped down next to Mista. “Giorno ain’t weak, right? He coulda taken care of it.”

“I know, I just… wanted to stick up for ‘im. Like I woulda if it was you.”

“Liar! You’re the one who told Abbacchio that I was the one who ate the last of his bomboloni! I couldn’t walk right for a week, he kicked my ass so hard!”

“Yeah but you were asking for that, dipshit,” Mista answered with a scoff. “We’ve all dealt with a pissed Abba after stealin’ his food.”

“Not Bucciarati.”

“Bucciarati’s special.”

“I wish I was special.”

“You are. Special in the head.”

“Asshole!” Mista laughed as Narancia’s fist swung into his side, the breath only half getting knocked out of him since Nara wasn’t using his full strength. He took it as the gift it was: a I-hope-you-cheer-up-so-I’ll-distract-you type of gift. Or at least, maybe that’s what it was? This was Narancia after all, he could’ve already forgotten everything that just happened. He was a fucking idiot.

Mista sighed. They all were, really.

Chapter Text

Mista only made it about an hour into the drive before he asked the burning question that had been on his mind ever since Giorno had relayed the details of the events with the Stand he had fought just a few hours ago.

“How’d you get your eye right?”

“Hmm?” Giorno spared him a glance that lasted all of half a second before he was back to staring at the road. Not that Mista could blame him, that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re driving. He just wanted Giorno to look at him more.

“Your eye. After Baby Face,” he explained with a lazy point in his own right eye’s direction. “How’d you make it the right color? Y’know, when you put it back inside your head?”

“You make it sound so sickening.”

“Well it kinda is, ain’t it? That couldn’t’a felt good.”

“It was about as bad as having my eye carved out in the first place.” Mista had to give him that; Giorno made a strong point. “And it’s green. Not too difficult of a color to recreate.”

“Yeah but what about-” a dramatic wave of the hand “- the nuance.”

“You sound ridiculous,” Giorno smirked. “What nuance is there when it comes to the color of eyes?”

“Well, since you asked,” Mista shifted in his car seat in the back to better situate himself for his explanation, “There’s a shit ton, dude. Maybe it’s just green to you but there’s a lotta greens out there, y’know? Like dark ones, light ones, uh-”

“Green ones?”

“Haha, hilarious asshole. Anyways, there’s, uh… shades! That’s the word, there’s shades, shades, I tell you.”

“I see.” Giorno didn’t actually sound like he saw, but Mista let it go out of the goodness and benevolence of his heart. “And what shade are my eyes to you?”

“They’re like emeralds,” Mista was saying before he could even filter his words. “The greenest emeralds I’ve ever seen. Like, gorgeous, dude.”

“I’m gorgeous, hmm?”

“Not you,” Mista sulked, even though he personally thought that no one on earth had ever been quite as gorgeous as Giorno, “your eyes. Geez man, pay attention.”

“I’m paying attention to the road,” Giorno pointed out and Mista let out a long-suffering sigh.

“Yeah, I can see that. So how’d you get the color right?”

“I can’t say that I did,” Giorno responded truthfully. “I simply allowed Gold Experience to perform its… power? Ability? Whatever it’s called. If the color is right, then you have Gold Experience to thank for that.”

“Huh. Guess I didn’t think’a how you’d make it. Makes sense. Heh,” Mista smirked, “your Stand knows more about you than you do.”

“I do believe most people know more about myself than I do,” Giorno answered wryly, switching to sarcasm as he added, “I am, after all, a young man in the prime of his youth. How could I possibly know who I am?”

“You sound like a fuckin’ parent or some shit,” Mista scoffed, thinking back to one of the things Bucciarati first said to him when he got him out of prison.

‘If you ever have regrets, you cannot go back. You must decide who you will become right now.’

“We all made our choices, huh?”

Giorno hummed in agreement and that was that.

Chapter Text

Everything had changed before Mista had been able to process what was going on.

Fugo was gone.

As the boat drove away, Mista could see Fugo watching them go, and the expression on his face made it obvious how hard it was for him to watch them disappear from his life. How scared he was for them all. Not that Mista could really blame the blond; he was pretty damn terrified himself.

He’d thought he’d done a pretty good job of walking confidently onto the boat after Abbacchio, making a show to Giorno of how he knew greatness was waiting for them all and that Bucciarati would never lead them wrong. Mista believed that wholeheartedly, but he’d said that as much for his own sake as Giorno’s. He needed to remind himself of that in order to force himself to do what he knew was right.

Trish didn’t deserve this. No matter how crappy she acted, Mista didn’t think he’d behave much better if his life was thrust into utter chaos in less than a week right after losing a parent. And there was no way in hell he’d leave Giorno. Not after promising to stay by him.

Silence hung over the group like the clouds that stuck around after a rainy summer day: thick and heavy with the tension that probably wouldn’t be going away any time soon. Mista surveyed the others from where he sat in the back of the speedboat beside Giorno.

Bucciarati was muttering in hushed tones with Abbacchio, likely about their next move now that Fugo was no longer there to be second-in-command. His face was pale, almost unnaturally so, and his movements were stiff, but he’d almost just died so Mista thought that was probably normal.

Abbacchio, to his credit, looked completely unphased, and honestly? He probably wasn’t. The guy never seemed to give a shit about anything except Bucciarati and whatever Bucciarati wanted, so of course he’d gone with the capo.

It was Narancia that had surprised him. When he’d first caught sight of the boy swimming after that, Mista’s initial thought had been one of regret. He’d wanted Fugo to hold him back, to keep the smaller boy from going off to his death with the rest of them; Narancia was like a brother and Mista didn’t want anything to happen to him.

Narancia, who was sitting silently next to an unconscious Trish, staring at the waves the speedboat created as it sped away down the canals of Venezia. His face was a mask of violent emotions and his lower lip wobbled once in awhile, but his eyes remained dry. Mista looked away and pretended not to notice how Narancia kept glancing back in the direction where Fugo had disappeared from sight.

“Are you alright?” a quiet voice came from his left and Mista turned to offer a small smile to the concerned blond beside him.

“As fine as I can be,” he said with a shrug. Giorno looked a bit guilty for some reason, and Mista was starting to piece it together by now. “It was you, right?”

“What was?”

“The one who started all this. It was you,” Mista repeated, and he was pretty confident he was at least eighty percent right. The other twenty percent made him scared that maybe Giorno would hate him after the accusation.

Giorno stared at him for a long time unblinking before averting those too-green eyes downwards as he murmured, “This was not my intention, but I suppose I am the one at fault. You’re correct in your assumptions, Mista. Forgive me.”

“Wha- no, Giorno, you don’t gotta apologize,” Mista hissed back, sending a fervent glance at the others to make sure they weren’t listening. “I wanted to know ‘s all. ‘N even if it was your plan from the start, I’d still follow you.”

“Why? You hardly know me; I’m not the person you think I am.”

“Maybe not,” Mista answered with another shrug, “But the Giorno I know is a good kid with a good head on his shoulders and good intentions. ‘Sides I don’t think you’re a good enough actor to be faking that.”

Giorno’s smile was faint but it was there and that was good enough for Mista at the moment. “You don’t gotta tell me now, okay? We’re kinda in the middle of something. But after this’s all over, you’re going with me for pizza and you’re gonna tell me everything, got it?”

“Mista,” Giorno said slowly, his green eyes widening just the tiniest bit as he murmured, “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were asking me on a date.”

“Maybe I am, maybe I ain’t,” Mista answered, even though he hadn’t noticed how that sounded until after he’d spoken. “Let’s leave that up to you.”

Giorno didn’t say anything back but leaned into him, resting his blond head against Mista’s shoulder and damn, if Mista had known a couple near-death experiences and being branded for death was all he needed to be smooth, he woulda done all this shit sooner.

“…I believe your answer will have to wait,” was the quiet reply he finally received, and Mista hadn’t expected anything less. There were far more pressing things to worry about right now, but a bit of light-hearted daydreaming wouldn’t hurt either of them.

Snaking an arm around Giorno’s shoulders to hold the younger boy close to him, Mista took a deep breath as he looked up to the blue sky overhead and wondered just how many more days he’d get to see that. If he’d ever get to see that maybe-date. With a small shake of the head, he exhaled. No point in worrying about all that now; he’d made his choice.

For now, he figured he’d just enjoy the calm. After all, there was no way it’d last.

Chapter Text

Fugo watched the boat speed away, jaw clenched tightly in disbelief and fear. These were the people he’d known for years speeding away to certain demise at the hands of inhuman cruelty personified. He would likely never see any of them alive again. As Narancia had dived into the water, Fugo might as well have watched him drown.

He just couldn’t understand it; they were all sailing away to their deaths. And for what- some girl they barely even knew? It just didn’t make sense.

But it did, and that’s what he hated most.

He could sort of understand it, knew that Bucciarati was too kind of a man to let go of something like what he had witnessed. But to risk everything he’d worked for, everything he’d earned, everything he’d gained? For that? It was idiotic. There had to be something he was missing.

‘Is this my ‘betrayal?’ he thought, biting his lip as the boat finally disappeared around a building, taking everything he’d come to know with it. ‘Is refusing to ‘betray’ the Boss ‘betraying’ you, Bucciarati? Do you see it as such?’

He couldn’t just keep standing here. News of the group’s betrayal would surely circulate at rapid speed and then what would he do? He hadn’t gone with them, he wasn’t a traitor, but the Boss might not see it that way. Just by being associated with Bucciarati’s group could sign his death sentence.

But Bucciarati probably knew that too; however much he said that they had a choice, the reality was that they didn’t. They didn’t have any sort of choice once they signed their lives away to Passione when they joined. Bucciarati wasn’t an idiot; he knew that, even if he tried to think otherwise.

That thought alone sent Fugo spiralling into further confusion. What could possibly mean so much that Bucciarati would be willing to risk all of their lives? Just for a girl they barely knew? He felt bad for Trish, sure, but she wasn’t worth condemning himself to death over. No, she couldn’t just be it, there had to be something more, he reminded himself, something Fugo wasn’t understanding. Something everyone else understood but him.

And Fugo had always hated the feeling of not knowing.

There wasn’t anything he could do, he decided. The best course of action was to flee, to lie low until it was all over. With any luck, he’d be able to escape Venezia before any of the Boss’s men arrived, before the Boss himself relayed the information of what had just occurred. If they caught him, there was no telling what they might do. Of course he had useful information on the traitors, but he could be tortured for that, and if he just gave it away, they’d probably just kill him anyways, just to be safe. That, and he wasn’t sure he’d want to tell the Boss about Bucciarati’s team. He had to run, much as he felt cowardly doing so. Although he supposed he chose to be a coward the moment he threw them away- no. What he was doing was not in the wrong; it was the others who were making a mistake. Surely what he was choosing was just.

Spinning around to stalk away, he nearly collided with a pink-haired man that somehow had approached from right behind without him noticing. Although it was probably just a random stranger, Fugo leapt away warily, ready to call out Purple Haze if he needed-

“Pannacotta Fugo?”

“Who’s asking?” Fugo replied, knowing that he already gave away the answer. This man wasn’t just a tourist then.

“My name is Vinegar Doppio. I’m a member of the Boss’s elite guards.” Fugo’s eyes widened. So they were already here in Venezia. That wasn’t good, he had to- wait. It wasn’t good for Bucciarati, he reminded himself, he had nothing he had to do. He wasn’t included in that team anymore. “Where are the rest of your squad?”

One look into this man’s, Doppio’s, eyes, and Fugo could tell that he knew the answer already. This was a test, one that Fugo was going to pass. He wasn’t in the wrong; not this time. “They’ve… gone. They left with Trish.”

“Are you telling me they’re traitors?”

“I… yes.” Fugo hated himself for admitting it but lying would only get him killed. “They betrayed the Boss. I don’t know where they’re going.”

“I see.” Doppio didn’t look at all surprised by this news and Fugo knew that he had assumed correctly. This man knew everything, which meant the Boss had told him everything. The Boss, who he’d never even seen before- “You do know what happens to traitors, don’t you, Fugo?”

“That’s-”

“Or shall I elaborate for you?”

Fugo didn’t like the glint in the man’s eyes. “No, I… I know.”

“Wonderful. You’re a smart man, Fugo. I see Polpo had been right about that. A good head on your shoulders. This is an organization, and it’s no place for the soft and weak-minded. You likely know what I’m about to tell you, yes?”

So it had come to that after all. He’d thought about it briefly, when the boat first started picking up speed. He knew their Stands, after all, knew them, how they thought, what they could do. It was the worst and best outcome.

“Tell the Boss I accept.”

“You don’t believe any… personal feelings will get in the way?” Judging by his voice, Doppio clearly thought he would. But then again, if the Boss thought the same, he likely wouldn’t have been assigned the job.

“We are not in the wrong,” Fugo murmured, half to himself, but Doppio seemed to take that as his answer and nodded firmly.

“You’re right. To betray the Boss is to display a startling lack of honesty and commitment; it is a sign of the utmost disrespect and selfishness. You are doing what is right, Fugo. The Boss saved you. All of you.”

That wasn’t true. Bucciarati saved him, no one else. And no one had saved Bucciarati. Fugo had overheard him whispering to Abbacchio late at night when he thought everyone was sleeping, about how Passione was his only option. That, or the death of the one man he adored more than anything else.

“Tell the Boss I accept,” Fugo repeated, not wanting to listen to Doppio sing the Boss’s praise any longer. It made his decision waver further.

“Very well. Go to Grosseto and check into the Hotel San Lorenzo. We will get in contact with you once you’ve done this.” Doppio shot him one last glance before adding, “Take this time to gather your thoughts.”

Fugo nodded. That last thing sounded like it was actually coming from Doppio himself and not just information being relayed from the Boss. He didn’t think he really needed to gather his thoughts though; it would just mean thinking about them more. And he didn’t want to think about them. It hurt to.

As Fugo turned away, turned to leave, turned his back upon the people who were once his friends, he thought solemnly with mounting dread, ‘This is my answer, Bucciarati.’

Chapter Text

It was around six hours later that Fugo received any further instructions.

The plane ride to the Baccarini Airport had been the most remarkable uneventful trip he’d ever been on. While the ride itself had been smooth and peaceful, Fugo’s inner turmoil had made him sick to his stomach. After emptying the contents of his intestines into the small bathroom in the back of the plane for the fourth time, the little old lady sitting next to him had offered him her cross and a quick prayer.

“It will be over soon, dearie,” she’d told him with a reassuring smile and a tender pat on the shoulder.

“I know,” Fugo had replied. She was right; it would be over soon. And then everything would be over for good, wouldn’t it?

He’d left his seat again soon after that.

Now, tapping his foot nervously at the Bar la Vasca, wine untouched before him, he tried to settle his nerves. The phone call had come at seven in the morning and would’ve woken him if he’d managed to get any sleep at all. He was to wait here for his contact and partner for this mission, someone from the Boss’s personal hitman squad. Fugo assumed it was similar to the Boss’ elite guard, full of people he’d only heard cruel rumors of.

The click of heels against the pavement alerted him to someone’s approach and he looked up to see a tall, scrawny man making a beeline for his table on the patio. Beady plum eyes swept over him with the cold calculation of someone surveying a piece of meat before a tanned hand reached out to him.

“Signor Fugo, I presume?” came the rasping voice that likely was due to permanent throat damage.

“Indeed.” Fugo took his hand, holding back his grimace at the sweaty palm that met his own, and shook it firmly.

“My name is Castagna Martino,” the man said, brushing a stray lock of chestnut-colored hair behind his ear. A prominent scar stretched across his forehead, pale and misshapen and stretched too tight across the bone.

‘Self-inflicted,’ Fugo recognized with a start but held his tongue. The less he knew about this man, the better. He’d heard the name Castagna before: a religious fanatic who followed the Boss’ orders like they were the word of God. Cruel and cold and calculating, yet ignorant and quick-tempered. ‘Like me,’ Fugo thought bitterly.

“How much do you know?” the man, Castagna, asked.

Fugo eyed him suspiciously before replying, “Only to meet with you here. And that we’re to be at the ruins of Rusellae no later than half-past three.”

Castagna nodded, “Good. Scusi, Signor Fugo, but I hate questions, so don’t ask me anything. Ignorance is a sin; to be blissfully unaware, a blessing.”

That was pretty much redundant and Fugo was starting to realize why this man had a reputation for being an idiot. Still, he simply nodded and stared down at the glass of red wine Castagna was downing in a single gulp. It had been his but he hadn’t really planned on drinking it anyway. Best to be sober for whatever would occur.

“Come with me,” Castagna instructed as he stood, iron chair scraping across the stone patio floor. “We have a job to do first.”

Fugo followed him out to a sleek black car that was parked outside the bar blocking the lane in the opposite direction and causing the oncoming traffic to either brake or swerve or both. A Maserati honked angrily as it drove past, the driver rolling down his window to spit curses at the pair standing by the car.

Castagna seemed to freeze and then suddenly began shrieking in a language Fugo couldn’t understand - Latin, he realized, recognizing some of the words as an old biblical verse - and stamping his foot as he stormed towards the Maserati, kicking up a cloud of dust as he went.

The driver looked rightfully terrified as he sped away and Fugo didn’t blame him, a storm of smoke peeling up around the tires as he took off. Castagna was as bad as-what had his name been? Ghiaccio? Deciding it was best to just ignore them, he headed around the car. His hand had just brushed against the smooth handle just as a loud BOOM! echoed behind him. He spun around, ready to fight- only to see that it was the Maserati.

The sports car looked like it had spun out of control, judging by the smoke that was rising from the tire tracks on the road, and had driven headlong into an oncoming semi. The Maserati - or what was left of it - was in flames, the driver quite obviously dead, but the semi looked mostly unharmed.

A crowd was rapidly forming around the flaming wreckage of the crash and, as Fugo turned away to slide into the car next to Castagna, he heard the man whisper, “Liberalo dal male, Amen.”

“Il Padre Nostro,” Fugo realized. “Were you the one who did that?”

“I see you are a learned man, Signor Fugo,” Castagna replied as he started up the car and peeled away. “However, even l'Onnipotente shall fault your ignorance. Ask naught, for thine shall receive not a thing.”

‘He isn’t going to tell me,’ was what that roughly translated to Fugo decided, but no answer said just as much as an answer: of course that had been Castagna. By refusing to reply, he was basically verifying that it was him. But Fugo didn’t know how. It was surely a Stand, had to be, but he hadn’t seen anything out of the ordinary. ‘Perhaps it’s remote controlled?’ he wondered as he stared out the window and watched as the buildings were gradually replaced with farms and eventually just countryside.

It was a good idea to try to gather as much information about his partner’s Stand as he could; he could play off his abilities better that way. Fugo tried to think that that was the only reason he was cataloguing everything he could about Castagna.

“I know you dislike questions,” he began, trying to figure out how to phrase what he needed to know in a way that seemed honest, “But I feel like I should know what we’re going to do.”

Castagna frowned, the furrows in his brow causing the scar to twist and churn in a very ugly way, and when he spoke, his voice was restrained and hoarse. “To carry out the will of the Boss and eliminate his enemy.”

So they were going to kill someone. Fugo had expected as much and it didn’t faze him; he’d carried out assassinations along with Abbacchio before, unbeknownst to Bucciarati. The capo would never have approved, and that was why it had always been a secret between the two of them. However, he was confused about who they were going to kill.

As far as he knew, there were only two squads of traitors: La Squadra Esecuzioni, who Fugo knew was almost wiped out, and Bucciarati’s group. Surely Passione didn’t have even more traitors amongst its midst?

He must have been showing his confusion on his face because Castagna’s voice shifted to a low growl that sounded near animalistic from the damaged vocal cords as he added “Let me make this clear, Signor Fugo, you shall not hinder my mission, lest you find yourself my target as well.”

“I have just as much reason to be here as you,” Fugo retorted, tone icy as he held back his anger. “I’m sure you’ve heard of my Stand; there isn’t a soul in Passione who hasn’t. Don’t get in my way.”

Castagna looked very much like he wanted to say something back, but Fugo’s threat worked and he held his tongue. The feeling of intimidating someone into silence swept over him and, although it had always felt strange before, it was even more so now.

After all, he didn’t have Mista or Narancia at his back to tease him in hushed tones about how he would never follow through with his threats.

Chapter Text

Fugo supposed the ruins of Rusellae were as beautiful and mysterious as the stories of them were. History quite obviously lay within each block of stone that was overgrown with weaving ivy and cracked with weathering age. Bucciarati had always wanted to visit.

But he wasn’t here to sightsee, and as he strode past the Etruscan ruins without so much as a moment of appreciation, Fugo tried to avoid thinking about anything that wasn’t the mission or what little he knew of it.

They were approaching one of the few enclosed structures in the ruins, a building that sat on a hill overlooking one of the dirt roads that led to the site. The view was hidden by brambles and trees, secluding the area and surely making it perfect to take care of whoever the target was. As they neared the top of the stairs that wrapped around the hill, Fugo saw a man waiting near the opening that once held a doorway to the single four-walled structure at the peak.

He recognized him, Fugo realized, a wiry middle-aged capo that controlled things in the comune of Piombino who owed Bucciarati a favor. Months ago, his daughter had run away to Napoli after learning what her padre did in the mafia, making her a liability. Before the Boss could find out, the capo, Fillippo was his name, had gone to Bucciarati.

Fugo distinctly remembered the distasteful grimace on Bucciarati’s face when Fillippo had plead his case to the then-soldato of Napoli. If the Boss learned that the girl had fled and that Fillippo was trying to save her, he would kill them both. If Bucciarati’s squad got involved, they’d be killed as well.

But Bucciarati was too much of a bleeding heart, and Fugo had said as much as they searched the city for the missing girl. The only response he’d gotten was a soft smile and the quiet words of, “What is just is not always right.”

Fugo wondered if he was getting any closer to understanding what Bucciarati had meant by that.

In the end, they’d found her, hiding out by the docks with her boyfriend in an attempt to sneak aboard a carrier barge and embark for Sicilia. Fugo didn’t know what he’d said to her, but Bucciarati had convinced her to go back to her father and listen to what he had to say before making her decision. At least that way, if she chose to flee, she’d know the dangers that would come with that and knowing what she knew.

Fillippo had gotten in contact three days later and explained to them that his daughter had simply been ‘confused’ and that ‘all misunderstandings were put to bed.’ Fugo wasn’t sure what he’d done, but he knew the man’s Stand had something to do with memories. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to know either.

Bucciarati had been enraged by the implication that Fillippo would have used his Stand on an innocent civilian, much less his own daughter, but Fugo thought that meant he had the true heart of a gangster. Cold and unfeeling.

Even so, Fillippo had promised Bucciarati a favor and the capo had accepted. He wasn’t one to waste chances like that, and had held onto that favor like he did the many others that people owed him. Fugo hadn’t seen the man since- until now.

“Signor Martino,” Fillippo nodded, glancing behind him to see Fugo, and his dark eyes widened in surprise. So Fugo hadn’t been expected. “Signor Fugo.” He sounded wary, concerned about something, but Fugo didn’t know enough about what was going on to tell what, although it was unsettling.

“Have you done as we asked?” Castagna questioned and Fillippo turned to him, fair skin turning an even lighter pallor as he nodded fervently.

“Of course, Signor Martino! Anything for the Boss.” Fugo could tell that last part was added purely to appease Castagna. “I’ve followed your instructions, please, leave Marcella out of this.”

Marcella. That was his daughter's name.

“But of course,” Castagna agreed coolly. “No harm shall come to her. What did you tell them?”

“Exactly what you asked me to,” the man explained hastily. “That I caught word on his rebellion and have vital information and to meet me at Rusellae at half-past three today. And to consider my favor repaid.”

It took everything Fugo had to restrain Haze, who was bursting to leap out of him and destroy. It was his own anger, Fugo recognized, at knowing that this man whom Bucciarati had helped at the risk of his life, had betrayed him without a second thought. Fugo was no fool; he could tell exactly what was going on. The only thing he didn’t know was how the Boss had known about the favor Fillippo owed Bucciarati.

“Is that why you’re here, Signor Fugo?” So they hadn’t told him everything; of course they hadn’t. The news that Fugo had remained behind must have been kept quiet, to use him as a weapon. ‘Just like how Polpo had initially wanted to use my Stand,’ he thought vaguely, ‘Until Bucciarati stopped him.’

Fugo wasn’t sure what to say to that but he clearly didn’t need to say anything as Castagna’s hand whipped out to wrap tightly around Filippo's face, fingers digging into his skin until scarlet beads drew out from the fingertips as terror shifted across the old man’s face.

“What have I said about questions,” Castagna growled, indigo eyes flashing in rage as what looked like dirt swirled up around his feet. Fillippo tried to say something but all that came out through Castagna’s fingers was unintelligible garbling tinged with fear. “I can’t hear you, speak up or remain silent.”

When he let go of the man, Fillippo staggered to his knees and looked up at the two of them, jaw clenched tightly as his eyes began to fill with horror. He clawed at his face, fingers curling around his lips to pry them apart, pulling so hard that blood began to pool where his fingernails dug into the soft flesh, but nothing happened, and Fugo realized that he wasn’t speaking because he couldn’t.

“I see. You have made your choice,” Castagna hissed coldly and reached out to yank Fugo over towards him. A hard object was pressed into his hands and, as Castagna moved to curl his arms around Fugo’s shoulders and stare over his head at the terrified capo before them, the blond felt the familiar trigger of a gun.

“‘Tis only right for you to mete out his sins.” Castagna’s hushed words were like ice through Fugo’s veins, the feeling of those rough lips brushing against his ear sending a shiver down his spine. “A traitor to thine caporegime is a traitor to thee; though both, traitors be.”

Tanned hands tightened around Fugo’s shoulders the longer he hesitated until they were digging harshly into the bone, and even then, he held back.

“He may have betrayed him,” Fugo murmured as he finally lowered the gun, averting his gaze to the ground as he continued, “but so have I. What right do I have? None.”

A sharp intake of breath behind him and then a loud BANG! rang out next to ear, sending Fugo stumbling a step back from the sound. The old man pitched backwards from the force of the blow, landing in an unrefined heap of splayed limbs as blood spilled from the hole onto the ground beneath him.

“How blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,” Castagna murmured as he pulled back to blow the smoke off the gun, “because the kingdom from Heaven belongs to them. Matthew 5:10.”

Fugo watched as the old man twitched once, twice, then stilled. The growing scarlet puddle began to slow as it seeped into the dirt and stained the grass, a pristine hole placed between two sightless brown eyes.

“May thou find peace with thine daughter in Heaven. Liberalo dal male, Amen.”

“I thought you said his daughter would be safe,” Fugo said numbly.

“No further harm may come if she has already left this Earth.” So they never had any intention of letting either of the two live from the start. Fugo assumed that the rest of Filippo's family was likely dead as well, and that maybe that was a blessing in a way.

“Come, Signor Fugo, come sit with me.” Castagna had taken a seat upon the stone wall, stepping on the dead body with a sickening crunch like it was nothing more than shit beneath his ugly wood-heeled boot. “We have time before the hour. Let us talk.”

Wanting to do nothing more than not do that, Fugo swallowed thickly and stepped over the man who had just died for no reason other than Bucciarati’s sins.

Chapter Text

Castagna Martino, born 1978 to the wife of the head doctor of Ospedale Civile in Aversa, Caserta! He was delivered by his father himself into the loving arms of a God-fearing family who adored their newest addition.

However, his father’s love was not the gentle, familial sort, but of the desire to use Castagna! Only a son could inherit the hospital under his father’s name, and the head of the Martino household had only been producing daughters up until that point, no matter the woman he slept with.

Castagna grew up knowing that his mother was only the lady of the house because she had been the first to give Cocciola Martino an heir, and he greatly resented his father for that. He knew the maids only treated him kindly because he was his father’s son and he resented them for it. But most of all, he resented his mother for staying with a man such as Cocciola Martino, who only loved money and God.

A pious Catholic, Cocciola instilled a great love of the devout in his son, teaching him to be the perfect Christian and to never stray from the path of God. Cocciola believed that by living his life saving others, salvation would surely be his end.

When Castagna was eight years old, his poor mother hung herself from the balcony of the master bedroom, unable to bear with a loveless relationship any longer. The image of his mother’s feet swaying in the wind while hanging down next to his bedroom window terrified Castagna, and he threw his toys at them, breaking the glass panes and lacerating the dead woman’s feet.

Upon Cocciola’s return to his manor, he saw his wife’s lifeless corpse swaying in the wind, dripping blood onto the stone path and instantly fell to his knees. Surely, this was a sign from God! He’d always known that woman was a fool for not following the path of God and now she had received her punishment.

Calling his son to the front courtyard, he had him look upon the body as he commanded, “Recite Isaiah 59:7 for me.””

“Their feet run to evil,” Castagna began slowly, “And they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways.”

“Good, good, good, very good my son! Let this be a lesson for you; that even the innocent perish for lack of faith in God; she has become but a puppet at the mercy of our Lord.”

Castagna nodded fervently and fell to his knees beside his father to begin praying. The poor woman’s corpse remained hanging in the air for three full days before Cocciola allowed the servants to cut her down; an expiation for that of Jesus Christ rising from the dead.

For the next four years, Castagna obeyed his father and followed the word of God as it was passed down to him, the servants whispers of pity behind his back for this poor boy corrupted by the only parent he had left. It brought him immense joy when his father would praise him for being such a good, filial son, but intense misery all the same. In the dead of night, he would lie awake staring at the window where he’d last seen his mother’s body, and wonder if that was truly God’s path for her.

His father continued to save others with his knowledge of medicine and antibiotics, heralded as a genius ahead of his time and given everything he so desired. However, such luxury could never last, though in the eyes of God, surely Cocciola was a perfect citizen.

A man broke into the manor late at night one day when Castagna was on the verge of turning thirteen, a crazed look in his eyes and a thirst for blood. Cocciola had saved the man from the brink of death three years ago; however, the man was a low member of the mafia! By keeping him alive, the man was now a scapegoat for the group to sentence to prison, a fate far worse than death in the man’s eyes!

It had taken him three years to escape, three years of abuse and Hell in which he swore vengeance and, finally, his desires were to be met!

“This is for bringing me back, you bastard!” the man shrieked as he stabbed the blade into Cocciola exactly thirty two times. Blood gurgled from his father’s mouth and spilled onto the rich Persain carpet, bits of flesh and muscle flying out with each gouge as Castagna watched from where he cowered beneath the end table with a morbid fascination.

A passing butler happened upon the scene and took the man by surprise, knocking him upside the head with a candelabra and killing him instantly; however, it was too late for Cocciola, who watched as his own life drained out of him until his eyes stared sightlessly up towards the God whom he adored so fervently.

“It’s alright, young master, you’re safe now,” the butler promised, holding the young boy in his arms, but Castagna knew that was not true! He had always been safe! His father was a pious man, but he played with people’s lives and Saved those who were not meant to be Saved! This was his penitence for playing God!

From that moment, Castagna knew that he must right his father’s wrongs to be allowed to the wonderful gates of Heaven upon his own death, and for that, he swore to return as many souls to the arms of God as his father had pulled away from that warm embrace.

As luck would have it, his father’s fortune was seized by his relatives and Castagna himself was cast out onto the streets where he was approached by the gang Passione; how perfect, that he would gain such an opportunity to join the very people who took his father from this life.

This man, this Boss that he had never once seen, surely was his precious God in disguise, come to test him! It was a test that Castagna would pass time and time again with flying colors, returning the poor souls his father had stolen away.

After receiving his Stand, Castagna would come to be known as the Puppeteer, a title he adored dearly, for he would recall his mother, who had been a puppet of God, and he would rejoice.

Chapter Text

“Signor Fugo, Caro Fugo, why do you believe betrayal has found you?”

Fugo grimaced at Castagna’s words; how much did this man know? He’d thought he’d been subtle enough with his words, but maybe not? If the Boss found out that he had any shred of regrets, his life would be ended before he could even get the chance to “redeem” himself.

Castagna must have taken his silence as an answer because he continued before Fugo had found the right words. “The Boss is a benevolent soul; he shall not fault you for the sins of your former brothers in arms.”

“…But I couldn’t stop them,” Fugo responded quietly.

“‘Twas the will of God above that they chose the path of sin; you are but a mere mortal, Signor Fugo, you cannot change the Path that has been laid before you, nor the Path of others. Their penance shall be dealt out swiftly.”

So Castagna thought Fugo had meant that he betrayed the Boss- which part of him wished that was the truth, that that was what he thought. But instead, his concern was for Bucciarati and the others. Fugo hated this; if he was feeling guilt, didn’t that mean he was guilty of something? Even though he wasn’t wrong?

“Signor Fugo, have you heard the verse of Romans 3:23?”

Castagna’s constant praise for God was starting to grate on his nerves.

“‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,’” Fugo recited, remembering the Bible verses his parents drilled into him at a young age.

“Yes, yes, precisely! Those men are sinners, Signor Fugo, sinners that we must deliver unto the arms of God! Salvation can only be returned upon their demise, as they shall pay the ultimate atonement for their crimes.”

As Castagna worked himself up, Fugo noticed that the dust around them was once again rising around them. Now that he could see it close up, it didn’t quite look or feel like simply dust or dirt. It sent a strange chill down his spine as it rose around them, brushing against his nose in strange tendrils that smelled faintly of lavender and fresh snow.

“You are a good man, Signor Fugo. Quite healthy, are you not?”

Fugo shot him a strange look as he nodded his head. It was true that he rarely got sick but what did that have to do with anything?

“Good health is a sign of the favor of God,” Castagna explained, and Fugo held back from telling him that that wasn’t how having a strong body worked. “As sickness is quite common among sinners, Violet does not like many people.”

“Violet…” Fugo echoed with mounting dread that he disguised easily with a disinterested tone. It couldn’t be- the blond leapt up from the stone wall, instantly putting some space between the two of them ready to call Haze to his side if Castagna’s explanation was lacking. “We’re partners, you asshole!”

“Calm down, Signor Fugo,” Castagna commanded as he stood as well, the dust receding around him- no, within him. The Stand dwelled inside him, Fugo realized, not in the ground. “I have not attacked you.”

“That isn’t what it looks like,” Fugo hissed back, hands balling into fists clenched so tightly they drew blood to restrain himself.

“As I have said, Violet Hill enjoys the company of certain people in good health. It greatly dislikes the artificial life that dwells within the ill, you see,” Castagna explained patiently, as if his excuses made perfect sense. Fugo had never heard anything about his Stand, had barely heard anything of the man before they were partnered together for this mission. “Forgive me, I was working myself up and unintentionally called them out. I’m sure you know that Stands tend to respond to emotion.”

‘That’s only if the emotions mean the user might be in danger,’ Fugo thought, ‘Which means he was working himself into bloodlust. I couldn’t tell at all.’

“Religion is a frightening thing,” Fugo growled coldly as he willed Haze to calm itself in the back of his mind. It didn’t want to, its own will fighting him as he called it back, and Fugo had to wonder if maybe he was missing something that his Stand had already noticed. “For it to spur you into such a frenzy.”

Castagna’s lip curled, and Fugo thought he might attack for a second, before he suddenly turned away. “You are right, Signor Fugo,” he answered with a chilling tone to his voice as he stepped over the stone wall and made his way to a nearby tree. “I occasionally allow myself too much joy, and for that, I must be punished.”

When he began to slam his head into the tree trunk with what looked like as much force as possible, Fugo quickly looked away. He had suspected self-harm ever since he’d seen the scars on Castagna’s forehead, but that it was inflicted with such a violent method… it was sickening.

The sound of the dull thuds echoed through the air of the empty ruins, eventually turning to wet squelches. Fugo waited, focusing on the clouds passing across the sky to avoid looking at Castagna until he finished. His suspicions were confirmed; this man was crazy. It was one thing to be devout, but this was pure insanity. No wonder the Boss had picked him; he’d be able to carry this mission out perfectly. Even if Fugo couldn’t.

“Mi dispiace.” Castagna’s voice cut through his thoughts and Fugo glanced over his shoulder at him. Blood was coursing down from the open wounds on the man’s forehead, bits of bark and dirt embedded in his skin, yet he wore a sickeningly gleeful expression. “Therefore I reprehend myself, and do penance in dust and ashes. Forgive me, oh Lord, for I have sinned.”

“You… what sin was that?” Fugo couldn’t help but ask, his curiosity getting the best of him. Honestly, he didn’t really want to interact with this guy any more than necessary, but he hated not knowing Castagna’s motives.

“I feel nothing but the will of God, for I am but a vessel,” Castagna replied, and it wasn’t really an answer but Fugo thought it would probably have to be good enough.

“You still haven’t given me a reason to not kill you,” Fugo stated, still debating whether or not he should act. While it was true that Violet Hill had just touched him, he didn’t know the Stand’s capabilities and couldn’t rule out that it wasn’t an attack just because Castagna said it wasn’t.

“Ah, yes, that. Violet enjoys the company of healthy individuals; those people have far less for it to cleanse, you see.”

“Cleanse?”

“It removes illness by attacking the non-living things within the body,” Castagna explained after a few seconds of obvious internal debate. Fugo was relying on two things for real information: the fact that lying was a sin, and that Castagna’s Stand seemed to ‘like’ him. “It recognizes those foreign bodies and expels them.”

“So it’s like antibodies,” Fugo murmured half to himself.

“You truly are a learned man, Signor Fugo, I’m quite impressed! My Stand is indeed a gift from God, sent to remind me of the sins of my father.”

Fugo had heard of Nocciola Martino before; in fact, that had been the very doctor who had delivered him! His parents had paid top dollar to have only the best when he was born, for their own sake of course. Anything less would be unworthy of the powerful Fugo family.

When his parents had heard of the doctor’s death, they had criticized his reliance on faith and spirituality. Fugo thought it had been hypocritical of them, as their reliance on money and prestige was the same sort of thing in his eyes. He hadn’t known the man had had a son until he heard the last name ‘Martino’ and had put two and two together.

Fugo disliked how Castagna seemed to be mocking the doctor's accomplishments, so he said, “Your father helped a lot of people.”

“Helping is not saving, Signor Fugo.” Castagna’s fists clenched tightly around the stone he had perched on. Noting that the dust, that he now knew was a Stand, was rising again, Fugo took another step back. “He ripped those piteous fools from the arms of God, proclaiming himself their Saviour while undermining the Path the Lord determined for them! How dare he, what mockery of the faith, what utter gall!”

“Then what does Saving them mean?”

“So full of questions, Signor Fugo. I do believe I mentioned I despise them.”

“You did, yes. I, however, despise not knowing things. I despise not understanding because it’s idiotic to not understand, and I despise idiots.”

“Then we truly are alike, for I despise the poor fools who deny God as well.” Fugo had never said that, but he thought that he shouldn’t correct Castagna, not when the man might actually answer his question. “To Save a soul, I deliver them back to the Lord from whence they came.”

“You kill them.”

“I give them the Fate that God has designed for them. My father was a blasphemer, as he was an ignorant man who could not understand that his own Path was predetermined. Surely you, of all people, understand. The sins of the father fall on the son.”

“I am not my father,” Fugo hissed. “That scum is not my father.”

“You too, know the Path of solitude,” Castagna nodded, crossing his arms to grin eerily up at Fugo from where he sat, Violet Hill fading away. “What is family in the eyes of God? Nothing, for I have naught. No father, nor mother, I alone, shall stand tall: a singular man without kin.”

That wasn’t true. It wasn’t, and Fugo hated this man for even suggesting that. He had a family. He did- but he didn’t anymore, did he? He had watched them sail away out of his life without looking back. He chose to leave them behind- or was he the one left behind, left in the dust of a motive he just couldn’t understand?

But the one thing he refused to acknowledge was any similarities between the two of them. Castagna was not like him, not at all. But even though Fugo knew that, was absolutely sure of it, he hated that the idiotic fool still reminded him of himself.

“I’m done talking,” he growled, turning away to find a place where he could sit alone. There was something about Castagna he despised, and he knew that he’d lose his temper if he stayed listening to the man any longer.

“Of course, of course, my apologies for keeping you, Signor Fugo. I’m sure you have many important things to ponder.” Castagna’s face twisted into a grin that was incredibly sickening, with the blood still oozing down his tanned skin, as he added, “May you find your own Peace, Caro Fugo.”

“Don’t call me that,” Fugo snapped, glaring daggers at the man. The grotesque expression grew. “It’s disturbing. You and I both know you don’t think of me as dear.”

“We are all dear in the eyes of God.”

“Then maybe he isn’t my God.”

Castagna seemed to freeze in place, the grin slipping off his face, and Fugo decided he liked that shocked look much better. Confusion was always a perfect look for idiots.

“Were you not my partner,” Castagna hissed, his gravelly voice dropping a few octaves, and if looks could kill, Fugo was pretty sure he’d be dead by now. “I would kill you here and now.”

“Oh please,” Fugo scoffed. “I’ve seen your Stand. It could never defeat Purple Haze.”

“Perhaps not in sheer strength,” Castagna agreed. “But you know not what Violet Hill is capable of. For I know the plans I have for you, declared the Lord.”

Fugo didn’t answer, just walked away towards the stone structure that could keep him from looking at the imbecile he’d been unlucky enough to get stuck with any longer. Would this have been his fate if Bucciarati hadn’t fought for him to join him instead? Would he have been stuck working alone, a silent killer for the Boss with no friends, no family, no connections at all?

He already knew the answer to that.

But it didn’t matter, he told himself as he stepped over the corpse of Fillippo with caution. While the living were free game, he didn’t believe in desecrating the dead.

It didn’t matter because he’d gotten the information he’d wanted. Violet HIll was a long-distance Stand, that much he could tell, because it followed Castagna’s orders perfectly. It didn’t have a true mind of its own; the ‘enjoyment’ that Castagna had mentioned was purely because Castagna himself had been interested in Fugo.

That, and Violet HIll had some sort of way to manipulate things.

“You may be a dumbass, but you’re a useful one,” Fugo murmured to himself as he rounded the corner, looking out the crumbling window of the open structure to see the sun gleaming high in the sky. “To think you’d give yourself away through quoting Jeremiah 29:11. How ironic.”

Chapter Text

Arriving early at Rusellae meant a whole lot of time with a whole lot of nothing to do, and even on a good day, if there was one thing Fugo was, it was impatient. He’d always preferred getting straight to the action, finding beating around the bush to be absolutely pointless and honestly, irritating. It was part of why he normally didn’t work well with others.

He’d been watching the clouds for the last hour or so from where he had stretched out across the stones of the building, climbing up to the tops of the walls to feel the sun better. For some reason, he’d been feeling colder than normal.

They passed by with all the urgency of a little old woman going for a nice walk among the rose gardens: none at all. Fugo thought that was pretty damn poetic of him, but he didn’t have anyone to share it with, so he kept it to himself.

Too much time meant his thoughts were eating away at him. Endless circles of Bucciarati saying he betrayed the boss, the others joining him one by one, and Narancia’s voice calling for the boat to wait played on repeat. Narancia’s voice was always the loudest.

“I want to understand, Bucciarati,” he murmured to himself. On occasion, when he was confident he was alone, Fugo liked to voice his thoughts. It helped him process them better, and this was something he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to process.

Closing his eyes to listen to the songs of the birds and the peaceful rustling of the trees, he whispered, “I really do. But I don’t. Who’s wrong and who’s right? Is it even that simple?”

Somehow he was pretty sure Bucciarati would tell him that it wasn’t.


“I don’t understand, Bucciarati,” Fugo asked as he followed his captain down the hallway toward the prison cell. “Why did Polpo ask for me too?”

“Likely because you were the reason Narancia was recruited,” was Bucciarati’s reply, but Fugo could tell by the tone in his voice that he didn’t actually know the answer. His captain was nervous, but unfortunately, Fugo had too many theories as to why to narrow one down.

“Um, Bucciarati, I didn’t realize that-”

“I know you didn’t, Fugo.” The man paused in the hall and turned to face him, resting his hands on Fugo’s shoulders as he looked him in the eye. “As I’ve said, I’m not upset with you. You were just trying to help someone, never apologize for that.”

The gentle squeeze that Bucciarati gave him lingered on Fugo’s shoulders, memories of his older brother bubbling up. As the pair rounded the corner to face the glass pane in front of Polpo’s cell, Fugo wondered if that was what it would’ve been like if his brother hadn’t run away, leaving a seven-year-old Fugo at the mercy of their parents.

“Ah, Bucciarati, welcome, welcome! I see you’ve brought young Fugo as I asked!” No matter how many times Fugo saw Polpo, he was always disgusted. The man oozed insincerity with every pore, his affable nature reminding Fugo of the professors at university, who only treated him kindly because they wanted something from him. He was waiting for the day when Polpo would ask too much- just like that professor had.

A shudder ran down his spine and he took a step closer to Bucciarati. The brunette seemed not to notice, not acknowledging Fugo at all, but the blond felt a hand come to rest on the small of his back and some of the tension eased out of it.

“Of course, Signor Polpo.” Bucciarait bowed his head as he asked, “May I ask why we have both been summoned?”

“Oh come now, Bucciarati, no need to be so formal,” Polpo purred, picking up one of the wine bottles from the fridge and pouring out a glass to pass through the slit in the cell. “You know I see you like a close friend, a son even! Please, drink, enjoy! This is a 1973 vintage from one of my favorite vineyards in Piemonte.”

As Bucciarati accepted the glass, Polpo’s beady green eyes shifted to Fugo, a leering smile crossing his face as he added, “And a glass for the Cucciolo as well.”

Fugo bristled at the nickname but held his tongue, focusing on Bucciarati’s gentle touch that all too quickly pulled away to take the second glass from the shelf.

“It’s just as you’ve said, Signor,” Bucciarati said kindly, not showing any signs of irritation or disgust, even though Fugo knew he had to be as uncomfortable as he was. He’d heard Bucciarati discussing his low view of the capo late at night with Abbacchio. “Fugo is underage. I shall drink his share.”

“Ah, yes, how silly of me! Such a good captain you are, Bucciarati. Just as I’d expect of one who has my favor.”

“Thank you, Signor.”

“Of course, of course! Now then, as for what you’re both doing here.” Finally, Fugo didn’t want to be in this man’s presence any longer than necessary. “I’m sure you’ve both heard of the little one who has passed my test?”

“Narancia Ghirga,” Bucciarati answered. “The boy we helped a few months ago.”

“Yes, yes, he mentioned you both when I asked him his reasons for wanting to join.” Polpo’s gaze firmed as he continued. “Specifically you, Bucciarati. He has quite the admiration for you.”

“He’s a good child, Signor Polpo.” Fugo recognized that for what it was: a plea to not send the boy anywhere too dangerous. He was just a kid. Fugo thought that he probably didn’t have any right to say anything though, since he was technically a kid too. They all were.

“Indeed. Passione will have room for such a loyal and sincere boy.”

There it was, the truth disguised behind Polpo’s sickeningly sweet words. Narancia was useful to the group- but only as long as he remained loyal and easy to manipulate. If Fugo had known that that ratty-looking kid he’d helped off the streets was gonna wind up here in the gang, he would’ve thought twice. It wasn’t an honorable job and it was full of the exact kind of people Fugo despised wholeheartedly. If it wasn’t for Bucciarati, he likely would’ve gone off the rails years ago.

“Have you decided where he will go?” There was hope in Bucciarati’s voice, that maybe Narancia would be assigned to them. They were the team that found the boy, and his admiration for Bucciarati would mean he’d work well under him.

“His Stand is quite the violent little thing,” Polpo mused, scratching the flaps of fat around his chin and Fugo held back a gag at the way that sounded. “Ah, not quite like yours, Cucciolo. Your Stand is… exceptional.”

Fugo hated how that sounded, how Polpo seemed to roll the word off his tongue with a wet purr and a spark of something dark in his grotesque green eyes. Knowing that he needed to respond regardless, Fugo bowed deeper than necessary to keep the capo from seeing his grimace of disgust as he said, “Thank you, Signor.”

“Mm, yes, yes, your Haze is wonderful, a true blessing upon Passione,” Polpo mused, “But Narancia’s Aerosmith has quite the appeal as well. After seeing it, I believe its abilities would be well-suited for assassinations.”

Fugo sensed the way Bucciarati stiffened at his side, though the only visible sign of distress being the single twitch above his left brow. That was the exact thing Bucciarati had said he’d been worried about.

“He’s too young, Fugo. You both are. I don’t want either of you to be forced to kill unnecessarily, for the single purpose of aiding Passione. You’re no more than children, it’s cruel.”

“If I may, Signor-” Bucciarati began but Polpo held up his hand before the captain could continue. His eyes were cold as they swept over the two of them, and Fugo could tell he was plotting something.

“I know what you’re going to ask, but I have already granted you a favor, Bucciarati-” Polpo’s gaze rested on Fugo for a split second before switching back to the brunette and Fugo felt something heavy settle on his heart. “-and I do not want you to begin to expect preferential treatment. How can I keep the respect of my subordinates if I play favorites?”

“But-”

Fugo steeled himself as he interrupted Bucciarati’s protest. “You’re wrong, Signor.”

Bucciarati’s blue gaze was piercing as he swivelled to stare at Fugo in shock. He’d made the boy promise to not speak out of turn and to hold himself back while they met with Polpo, and this was an obvious betrayal of that. Polpo simply looked amused, green eyes twinkling as if they had expected this. And maybe he had, Fugo realized, but it was too late now. He’d spoken up and couldn’t take it back. He didn’t want to anyways.

“Oh? Care to tell me how, Cucciolo?”

Fugo ground his teeth but held back his anger, shooting a fervent glance at Bucciarati before looking back at Polpo. The capo, to his credit, only looked mildly surprised before he waved his hand and said, “Bucciarati, please leave us momentarily. I will summon you back when we’ve finished talking.”

“Signor, that’s-”

“Bruno.”

Polpo didn’t need to say more than that; the command was obvious. The brunette hesitated a second longer before bowing his head as he turned to leave the room. Bucciarati’s face didn’t show any signs of distress or frustration, but the way his hand brushed against Fugo’s wrist for a split second to squeeze it tightly told Fugo everything his captain couldn’t say out loud: he needed to be careful. This man was dangerous.

When the door shut with a click, Fugo pulled his stare away from the afterimage of his retreating captain to face this sickening thing in front of him.

Chapter Text

“Is that better?”

Polpo sounded entertained, as if this was one of the most interesting things to happen to him recently, and Fugo wanted nothing more than to punch that stupid smirk off his fat fucking face. Instead, he just nodded and said, “Yes. Thank you, Signor.”

“Of course, anything for a dear subordinate.”

“I thought you didn’t play favorites.”

“I do not,” Polpo said as he poured another glass of wine. “I do, however, believe in accommodating even the lowest ranking members beneath me. A content soldato is a beneficial one.” As if noticing the surprise from that insinuation that Fugo was certain hadn’t reached his face, Polpo explained, “I see no reason to hide my intentions from you, Cucciolo, I know of your intellect and therefore value your input in this matter.”

“Understood,” Fugo replied slowly, analyzing the capo’s words with careful precaution. That meant Polpo was expecting a certain type of response from him. First off, he had to know if what he’d heard about Narancia’s Stand was true. “You mentioned Narancia’s Stand. That’s the long-distance Aerosmith I heard about, right?”

“Indeed; the rumors are all true.” Perfect, that meant Polpo was the one who planted them, just as Fugo had expected.

“Then wouldn’t a Stand like that be more useful for a variety of missions, not assassinations?”

“How so?”

“Well,” and Fugo was glad he’d asked because he’d prepared for this ahead of time, “It’s true that the fighting potential of Aerosmith is high, but a Stand like that would kill messily. It would leave behind a lot of evidence and be difficult to clean up, as opposed to the other Stands Passione normally uses to carry out assassination missions. It also isn’t very accurate; surely, it would rack up more damage than Passione would be willing to cover up?”

“If that was the case, we would simply rid ourselves of the problem. It is up to the user to control the Stand, as I’m sure you’re aware, Cucciolo.”

That was a dig at him, Fugo was certain of it. He wasn’t going to let it get to him, not until he was out of the prison. “But then you’d be losing a useful pawn,” he began slowly, trying to think of what Polpo would want to hear. “Like you said, Signor Polpo, Narancia is incredibly loyal, to a fault and then some. His loyalty would be useful if he were to work under Bucciarati; he’d be able to carry out any order no matter how big or small. That loyalty would also mean he’d act without question and cause his determination to increase exponentially.”

“Are you saying he would not obey my orders?”

“No, of course not,” Fugo backtracked with a wave of his hand. “I’m saying that his effectiveness would increase. It’s just as you said, Signor. The Stand answers to the user; if the user has a higher focus on the mission, the Stand will as well.”

“…I see.” Polpo had begun scratching his chin again, and this time Fugo didn’t look away, staring into those cold green eyes that scrutinized every inch of him. “You make a strong point, Cucciolo, just as I would expect from you.” Just as Fugo’s hopes began to rise, Polpo quickly followed with a, “However,” that sent it plummeting again. Of course it wouldn’t be that easy. “How would you suggest I make up for all the missions we will fail to carry out because of a lack of soldatos?”

“Passione is never lacking in men.”

“True, of course you’re right, but I see I must remind you of this; many of our men don’t have Stands, making them unfit for the Pasione method of assassination. It is rare that a Stand user joins our ranks, and rarer still when they are fitting that role.”

“Isn’t there a team of executioners?” Fugo knew he wasn’t technically supposed to know about them, that that team was a ‘well-kept’ secret, but Polpo had told Bucciarati, and-

“Bucciarati told you of that. I see.”

“It was only because-”

“No, no, it could only be called a secret as far as a tomato being called a vegetable. A misconception at best; it would be foolish to assume a mafia would not have a squad of assassins. To answer your question, Cucciolo, an opening will be appearing in time.”

Fugo knew he didn’t really have any other options at this point. There was really only one way to keep Narancia from being forced into the role of an executioner. “…Must the soldato be on La Squadra di Esecuzioni?”

“I see no reason why they would have to be, so long as they can carry out their mission.”

“Then what if I took the jobs instead?”

Polpo’s eyes flashed at his suggestion, a wicked grin crossing the fat of the mordbidly obese man. “Are you suggesting that you take Narancia’s place?”

“I know you wanted me to join La Squadra when I joined Passione. My Stand would be far more effective than Aerosmith. And it’s just like you said, if I can carry out the orders, it doesn’t matter whether I’m with Bucciarati’s group or not.”

“Very good, very good, yes, of course that would work as well. It can easily be arranged. What would you ask for in return?”

“Put Narancia in Bucciarati’s care.” The sneer on Polpo’s face was nearly blinding.

“But of course, Cucciolo. I trust the boy will be in good hands- both Bucciarati’s and yours. Tell me, Fugo,” it was strange, hearing Polpo actually use his name rather than sickening nickname that made it obvious to Fugo that this man saw him as nothing more than an animal, “have you heard about blood and water?”

“Yes,” Fugo answered, wondering if this was some kind of trick question, “You’re referring to the phrase ‘blood is thicker than water’, right?”

“Indeed. However, did you know that the Arabs said that blood is thicker than a mother’s milk? That of course is the opposite of what you just said, dear boy. The question, of course, is which one is right? Do you know the answer to that?”

“…I think the ‘blood’ is only what people want to hear at the time.”

Polpo’s grin grew as he exclaimed, “I see we think alike, Cucciolo! Blood has nothing to do with it. Both are right to whatever bond matters most. So then, my question to you is which phrase do you follow?”

“Blood is thicker than milk.” It wasn’t hard to tell that was the answer Polpo wanted. In fact, he’d given it away when he talked about important bonds. Fugo wasn’t an idiot; he had no problems with lying if he had to.

“I believe it is wise to live by that adage,” Polpo agreed with a nod. “This blood we all have signed to is chains, kept under lock and key. It is a collar, one that can easily be tightened until death. God is a noble being, He understands the binding importance of someone’s word; therefore, death is a suitable punishment. As you would know well, Cucciolo, family means nothing here.”

“I know.” That was part of the reason why Fugo had joined, to put as much distance between himself and the Fugo household as he possibly could. He hadn’t thought he’d find another family in a mafia group.

“Well then, I believe we’re done here. No need to send Bucciarati back in, you both can go. Pick up the little Topi from the cafe he’s waiting at. I’ll take care of the rest.”

“Thank you, Signor.” It seemed like Polpo just liked calling his subordinates as animals. Fugo would enjoy the day he got what was coming to him.

“Ah, one last thing. Your jobs won’t be coming in for a while. How long, I wasn’t informed of, but the vacancy in La Squadra has not yet occurred.” The fact that Polpo was revealing this to him had to mean- “I trust you’ll keep this our secret, Cucciolo. I don’t know what may happen otherwise.”

“Of course, Signor. This conversation never happened.”

“Such a smart boy, Cucciolo. Good luck with bearing those fangs of yours. Perhaps I should call you Cane instead.” Polpo’s fingers drumming against the glass paused as he added, “A word of advice, Pannacotta. Don’t get attached to that Topi.”

Fugo didn’t say anything, just bowed his head as he strode confidently out of the room- a facade that quickly crumbled the second he was out of there. It had been stifling, that grotesque man’s look, the too-sweet smell of alcohol and chocolate, and the way Fugo felt like every inch of him was being analyzed like a slab of meat.

He had to take a minute as the guards checked him over for anything he might’ve brought with him, taking deep breaths to calm his racing heart.

It wasn’t from fear; he hadn’t been scared at all. Nothing could compare to the helplessness he felt in his past, nothing could possibly be that terrifying. And fear was the wrong thing to have when you had a job like his. No, it was pure, unbridled rage!

Pannacotta Fugo had only felt this anger once before, and it had ended in a violent assault and disownment. However, he had had practice controlling himself since then, and he knew what would happen if he just waited. That sickening creature that was in no way human would die, would be killed one day in a graceless way and Bucciarati would take his place. Polpo played favorites, despite what he said, and Bucciarati was well-liked and well-respected by the other capos as well. Fugo, as his right hand and second-in-command, would display nothing but grace and dignity and respect as well. Anything to get Bucciarati higher in the ranks. The ‘blood’ of the group meant nothing in the face of ‘his blood.’ Fugo would bleed for that man if he had to.

The meaning of that adage had changed for a reason.


Fugo’s eyes flew open, jerking awake violently as he came to himself. A quick glance at his surroundings told him he was still in the remains of the building he’d gone to to avoid Castagna, the sky still bright and blue. Not much time had passed. He must’ve just dozed off.

He got shakily to his feet, the memory still fresh in his mind. As if it was mocking him.

He’d forgotten about it, too busy with his new duties as an assassin and hands full of dealing with Narancia, whom he’d promised Bucciarati to protect. That conversation with Polpo had seemed so small, so pointless in remembering at the time, that he’d tried to push it out of his mind and ignore the rage he felt at being used. But now, after everything that had happened, he was starting to see it in a new light.

Blood thicker than milk, thicker than water, what was blood to him? Which road did he choose to pursue, and was it the right one? He didn’t really know anymore. The ‘blood’ of his covenant to Passione compared to the ‘blood’ of the ‘family’ he’d found; which one did he value more? And since he was unwilling to admit his answer, did it make him a fool?

He hated idiots, hated ignorant hypocrites who stood on the pedestals of their ideals yet never did a thing to defend them. He was different, he was. Fugo knew he wasn’t wrong; there was no way he could be, and yet…

No, there wasn’t room for regrets. The choice had been made and he couldn’t go back on it now; the least he could do was to honor his former teammates by being the one to give them a swift, merciful death. But the likelihood of that was small; he knew them well enough to know that none of them would just sit there and let him kill them. Not even Narancia.

The image of the boy on the boat staring at him with wide violet eyes sent a sharp pain through him. There had only been one choice for Narancia, and even if the boy himself hadn’t realized, Fugo knew that Narancia would’ve chosen to go with them in the end. He could only hope that the others would protect him. Fugo couldn't anymore, he didn’t have the right.

“‘For whatever one sows, that will he also reap,’” Fugo murmured to himself, clenching his fists as he looked up to the sky. “If you’re there, then tell me, God, is this my punishment for turning my back on the law?”

Of course there was no answer. There never was.

Footsteps alerted him to the approach of someone outside the building and he looked down towards the doorway to see Castagna’s face appear within it.

“It is near time, Signor Fugo. You must be prepared.”

Fugo nodded and glanced at his wristwatch. 15:23. Bucciarati and the others would be arriving any minute now. Deciding that he would chalk up his roiling stomach to nerves rather than guilt, he clenched his jaw and backed into the dark shadows of the building.

Prepared? Of course he wasn’t. He didn’t know if he ever had been.

Chapter Text

“It’s a trap. It has to be.”

“Gee, what gave it away?” came Abbacchio’s sarcastic drawl. “Was it the completely on-the nail timing that couldn’t be more perfect? The one hundred percent trustworthiness of that random asshole Bruno shouldn’t’ve helped in the first place? Or oh, maybe it’s the sheer and utter lack of plausibility?”

“What’s-”

“It means believability, Narancia.” Bucciarati sounded like he was struggling to find the patience to deal with Narancia’s dumb questions. “And that was unnecessary, Abbacchio.” No patience for dad either.

“It’s fine, Bucciarati,” Giorno told them both. “It was a little redundant of me, I’m sure we were all thinking the same thing.”

The message had come when they’d been about to leave Venezia. Everyone was on edge after Narancia had dealt with Tiziano and Squalo since none of them had expected such a quick response to their betrayal.

Mista shot another nervous glance at Giorno, whose pink suit was starting to look more red than pink at this point. He knew the blond could take care of himself, but he’d almost died. Again. Narancia had just happened to be able to take care of it. And now that he thought of it, Mista was pretty certain Giorno was probably the one aside from Bucciarati with the biggest target on his back. He’d have to be more vigilant.

A hawk had been approaching them, carrying something in its talons, and Mista had instantly shot it out of the sky with one clean hit through the skull. Narancia had yelled at him for killing the thing, but he wasn’t about to take any chances.

What Bucciarati had pulled from its claws was a rolled-up letter, marked with the seal of Passione, and after using Gold Experience to make sure there was nothing alive inside it, they’d had Moody Blues replay the person who had touched the letter last.

“Capo Fillippo.” Bucciarati sounded shocked, and really Mista couldn’t blame him. He was still pissed at that asshole for wasting his one damn day off just to look for some chick who wasn’t even grateful! He’d found her right before she got on the boat and kept her from sentencing her whole fucking family to death and what was the thanks he got? A pig! She’d called him a pig! At least Trish had stopped at ‘smelly!’

As Bucciarati read over the letter, he felt a brush against his arm and turned to see Giorno beside him, the blond leaning up to whisper in his ear, “Fillippo?”

Ignoring the way Giorno’s breath felt so damn good against Mista’s skin, he replied quietly, “The capo in Piombino. He’s one shady asshole but he owes Bucciarati a favor.”

“I see.” Giorno’s green eyes flashed in the morning sunlight and Mista could tell he was thinking about something that was probably too complicated for Mista to want to bother knowing.

“What does it say, Bucciarati?” Abbacchio sounded impatient, but then again the guy always sounded impatient. It didn’t help his headphones had broken sometime during the commotion of the past few days and he’d been on his last nerve ever since. The gleeful grin he’d had when they beat the shit out of that random dude had been unmistakeable.

“He has information on the Boss.”

“What?!”

“Impossible!” Abbacchio’s cry drowned out Narancia and Mista’s shock, his indignant tone booming through the small alleyway they were crowded into. “There’s no fucking way a guy like that would have anything remotely useful!”

“I agree, of course, but he’s saying he does, and it does sound compelling. He’s asking to meet up to repay the favor he owes.”

“How the fuck does he know about this anyway?! There’s no way, Bucciarati.”

“I admit, I’m skeptical as well,” Bucciarati agreed. “However, he does indeed owe me a favor. And I imagine that word has spread by now, especially since we’ve already dealt with two of the Boss’ elite guards.”

“Exactly.” It was Giorno who spoke up this time, and four heads turned to stare at him in surprise. Abbacchio just looked plain pissed, but Bucciarati seemed intrigued. Which he probably was, Mista thought, Bucciarati had seemed like he’d enjoyed hearing Giorno’s thoughts and ideas before. Like a mom proud of her son.

“As you’ve said, Bucciarati, word has gotten around. The likelihood of this man hearing of our betrayal and choosing to aid us is extremely low, even if he owes you. I believe someone must have gotten to him first.”

Bucciarati was nodding along, looking pretty damn pleased with Giorno, until the blond said, “And that is exactly why we should go.” Mista was fairly certain he’d never seen Bucciarati look that damn surprised ever. Not even when a drunken Abbacchio showed up naked that one time to a big dinner Bucciarati threw for his twentieth birthday.

“This was not supposed to be a private affair, Leone,” he’d told the drunk-off-his-ass man as Fugo had tried to get Narancia out of the room without uncovering the smaller boy’s eyes while Mista just laughed hysterically. Seeing as the alternative was to cry, he’d decided to just enjoy the experience and avoid mental scarring from thinking too hard. Though he still didn’t really get Bucciarati’s attraction to the guy, Mista had to admit, Abbacchio was hung.

“You trying to tell us to get ourselves killed?” Abbacchio’s low growl snapped Mista out of his reminiscence, the goth taking a step towards the blond, who was still standing firm beside Mista. He didn’t seem to have a shred of doubt on his face.

“Of course not,” Giorno answered, “But I do believe we could gain some information by going. If he is indeed being forced to send this message by the Boss, then surely others who know the Boss will be there. They would be assuming we would fall into the trap, should we go. In fact, it would make perfect sense to use the fact that they believe we will fall for it against them.”

“That’s idiotic. You’re idiotic.”

“Abbacchio, not now,” Bucciarati groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose before forcing a strained smile on his face as he rested a hand on the taller man’s shoulder. “Giorno, I understand your point, however I think it’s more prudent to pursue the lead that’s more solid.”

“What do prunes have to do with anything?”

“Nothing, Narancia, nothing at all. Just… go check on Trish, will you? She might need some support right now.”

Narancia nodded fervently and darted into the turtle, clearly eager to go talk to the pink-haired girl even more now that he’d found something in common with her- even if it was a super depressing thing. Now that the biggest distraction was out of their hair momentarily, the remaining four were able to get back to the matter at hand.

“Bucciarati, I think Giorno’s right.” Blatantly ignoring Abbacchio’s disgusted scoff, Mista continued when Bucciarati nodded for him to go ahead. “Whoever the fuck’s waiting for us ain’t gonna just hang around when we’re no-shows. If we go now and take care of ‘em, don’t that mean less guys for us to take down later?”

“And we would have the element of surprise on our side this time,” Giorno added, “Since they wouldn’t be expecting us to know of their plot.”

“I do think that could be beneficial…” the man trailed off, scratching his chin thoughtfully. “However, we can’t rule out the possibility of them thinking this far ahead as well. We don’t know the capabilities of the men the Boss has at his personal aide.”

“I thought of that as well,” Giorno explained, gesturing to the four of them, “but I believe it would be more useful for us to attempt to use their own plot against them, rather than wait for a counterattack that could catch us unaware.”

“…Alright.” Before Abbacchio could argue any further, Bucciarati quickly continued, “But we won’t all be going. It’s far too dangerous to risk all of us; therefore, we will split up. I shall go to Piombino myself-”

“Bullshit, no fucking way!”

“-because I was personally requested for by the note. I’m sorry Leone, it can’t be helped.”

“Then I’m going with you!”

“You can’t do that either. We need you here with the turtle and Trish in order to go to Sardegnia in case something happens to me. Without your Moody Blues, we lose our only other lead.”

Abbacchio looked really fucking pissed, but the fact that he didn’t say anything back and just clicked his tongue said that he understood. He may hate the orders, but Abbacchio would never go against Bucciarati’s words.

“You can’t go alone.” Giorno’s voice sounded oddly strained, as if he was trying to imply something that Mista just didn’t get. From the look on Bucciarati’s face, it was pretty damn clear. They were hiding something. Big fucking shock. “I can-”

“No. We can’t risk losing your Stand either, Giorno. Mista, you’ll come with me.”

“Aye aye, sir,” Mista agreed, saluting the capo from where he lounged against a wooden crate. He’d been expecting that anyway, especially since it sounded like they were gonna rely on surprise and taking quick action. Pistols would be great for that.

Abbacchio and Giorno both looked like they wanted to argue more but held their tongues after Bucciarati shot them his patented Mom Look.

“…You need to be careful.” Giorno’s words were directed at both of them but he was looking at Mista as he said it, and the gunman wasn’t sure whether to be tickled that Giorno was worried for him or annoyed that the blond didn’t trust him to be safe.

“Of course. No unnecessary risks.” Again, a look in his direction, and Mista scowled.

“Hey, I am too, uh, riskless!”

Abbacchio scoffed. “I think you mean reckless.”

“I know exactly what I said, thank you very much, asshole.” The goth glowered at him but didn’t say anything more as Mista stuck his tongue out at him. When Abbacchio stepped towards him, Mista quickly leapt backwards out of reach, darting behind Bucciarati’s shoulders. “Mooom, tell dad to stop bullying me.”

Abbacchio looked ready to commit filicide, but his murderous glare softened as Bucciarati’s stoic facade cracked just enough to let a small smile escape. Giorno’s laughter was muffled behind a fist pressed to his lips.

“Alright, everyone get in the turtle.” As he held out the reptile, Bucciarati placed a hand on Mista’s head, rubbing it in a way that mimicked ruffling his hair if it hadn’t been buried under a beanie. “I’ll find a place to hide Coco Jumbo; in the meantime, you three relay the decision to Trish and Narancia.”

Abbacchio disappeared inside after whispering something unintelligible to Bucciarati. Giorno passed Mista; as he did so, he brushed a hand against the gunman’s shoulder and squeezed it so quickly that Mista would’ve thought maybe he’d just imagined it if it hadn’t been for the soft smile on the blond’s face.

Mista was the last to disappear into the turtle, and as he was pulled inside, he heard Bucciarati say quietly, “Thank you, Mista.”

Mista didn’t really think he’d done anything to be thanked for, but hey, when your capo thanks you, you gladly accept it. Besides, he was pretty sure he knew what Bucciarati meant.

Chapter Text

“Hey Bucciarati, whaddaya think about death?”

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the best question to be asking when they were literally in the middle of a life or death situation and would be for who-knows-how-long, but still, it was on Mista’s mind. There were just too many things that were too weird for him to not not think about it. More than normal, anyways.

First off, there was Giorno. Much as Mista was quickly coming to adore the pretty blond boy, it was just weird how he joined them, no matter how Mista thought about it. First he was Bucciarati’s target and next he was working with them? The whole thing screamed sus.

Technically, Mista wasn’t supposed to know that Giorno was the one who killed Luca, but the guy had told him himself while they were driving to Venezia, just the two of them. Guess it had been weighing on Giorno’s mind, seeing as the blond described it as the first death he’d been responsible for. Mista had told him that it didn’t matter; Luca was a dick anyway, and honestly, good fucking riddance, but while Giorno had smiled at that, he didn’t seem like he felt any better about it.

For all the others knew, Giorno had been in the process of joining the gang for longer than a single day, and they didn’t know how he’d met Bucciarati. How his dream had convinced the capo that his way was the right one- whatever the hell that meant.

Honestly? Mista was super fucking irritated that neither of them would tell him a single damn thing. Weren’t they all on the same team? But the more he thought about it, the more it seemed like Giorno had his own agenda- one that Bucciarati agreed with. Still, wouldn’t having more allies be a good thing? Just because he didn’t really know what it was they were trying to accomplish didn’t mean he wouldn't agree with it. Mista’d known him less than a week, but he was pretty sure he’d follow Giorno to the ends of the damn earth.

Still, it wasn’t just that; there was something else that the both of ‘em were hiding. Mista knew Bucciarati wasn’t exactly the most open guy out there, and he didn’t blame him for that. They’d all had sort of shit childhoods, but from what he’d heard, Bucciarati’s was exceptionally bad. It didn’t really make you wanna tell everyone everything.

But Mista also knew that secrets weren’t always a good thing. He’d watched them tear families apart in the small suburb he was born in, watched as they would isolate and destroy someone from the inside out. Mista always tried to walk a balance when it came to being open and closing himself off.

And Mista couldn’t help but feel like this secret was one’a those things that would come back to bite them in the ass.

There was too much going on now for him to avoid thinking about all this shit, even though thinking wasn’t really his strong point. He much preferred just carrying out Bucciarati’s orders and coasting through life. Plain and simple, that’s how he liked to live. But simple seemed like a far-off dream and plain had gone out the window at the same time that gorgeous blond waltzed into his life.

And if there was one thing Mista had learned from all the movies he'd watched at the theater he grew up next to, it was that when things started happening, people started dying.

Which brought him back to his question.

“That’s quite the open ended question,” was the capo’s blunt response, which yeah, Mista kinda supposed it was.

“Yeah but like,” Mista couldn’t really find a better way to phrase it so he just gestured wildly as he repeated, “whaddaya think about it?”

“…Are you asking if I believe in an afterlife?”

“Uh, not really? But let’s start there.” Bucciarati gave him a thoroughly confused look but Mista thought it was as fine a place to begin as any. He didn’t really know what answer he was looking for, so maybe going through a buncha questions would help.

“I suppose if I had to say yes or no, I would say yes,” the capo mused. “I believe Heaven is a place only achieved by the worthy, those who are kind and true. I also believe that all of us have signed away our right to step foot there, sealing Hell as our destiny.”

“I don’t really think anyone who joins the mafia expects to go to Heaven.”

“And I think you’re incorrect.” Bucciarati’s tone was ice cold, and Mista could tell from the look on his face that he was thinking of someone. He didn’t know who though and it didn’t really matter to him either.

“Hmm. Well then they’re a dumbass,” Mista replied coolly, settling back into the car seat as he tried to figure out what to ask next. “Okay so, say you got a guy who’s dead, right? And he did some bad things but he did ‘em for the right reasons. Where would he go?”

“What kind of things do you mean?”

“Uh… like he killed someone? But the guy he killed was a murderer too, a real bad dude, and the world is a better place ‘cuz that asshole was dead.”

Bucciarati was quiet for a few seconds before murmuring softly, “I don’t believe God forgives murder, no matter the circumstances. A life was still stolen.”

“Yeah but he helped people by killing that guy!” Mista protested, even though he thought Bucciarati did sort of have a point.

“Two wrongs do not make a right, Mista. I’m sure the man who was killed also had a family, people who would mourn for him.”

“Guys like that don’t deserve anything like grief.”

“While I personally agree, God is different.” Bucciarati’s voice softened as he added, “He does not judge someone based on details, only one’s actions.”

“So you think the person would go to Hell then?”

“I suppose so. Although,” Bucciarati mused, “I would like to think that the person would receive a chance to repent first. If his mind was in the right place at the time, I think it would become more of an issue of morality.”

Mista had no clue what the hell that meant, but he nodded anyways. “So maybe not then? You think it would depend?”

“Yes, it would depend.” Bucciarati shot him a look as he asked, “Does that answer your question, Mista?”

“I got one more for you, and I saw this one in one’a Fugo’s old textbooks!” Mista winced internally at the reminder of the blond boy, but shook it off as he said, “If death is inevitable, what’s the point?”

“The point in doing things?”

“Yeah, that.” It was sort of a longshot, but maybe this last one would get Bucciarati to reveal something. That, or it would make the capo think Mista was smarter than he actually was. It was a win-win, really.

“If there is nothing waiting for us but death, we may as well live our lives to the fullest. I’m sure you think so as well, Mista, or you wouldn’t have helped that girl.”

“Yeah but we ain’t talking about me,” Mista drawled. “We’re talking about you.”

“Mista, I have a question for you. Is it better to live with uncertainty or die with determination?”

“Uh…” Mista hadn’t really been expecting Bucciarati to ask a question back, but it wasn’t that surprising if he thought about it. His answer wasn’t surprising either. “Death.”

“Then you know what my answer is.” Mista waited for Bucciarati to continue, to elaborate just enough that he actually could know the answer because he really had no clue, but the prolonged silence made it clear the older man was done with answering him.

Somehow, he thought Giorno would probably know.

Unsatisfied, Mista couldn’t help but blurt out, “Why keep fighting?”

Bucciarati’s blue eyes felt like they were boring holes into him as he stared straight at his subordinate before finally murmuring softly, “Because giving up is the same as accepting death.”

Mista didn’t have a response to that. It was supposed to be the kinda moment where he’d normally crack some sort of stupid joke and lighten the mood and everyone would laugh at him but he wouldn’t care because it meant that they weren’t thinking about such dark shit anymore. But he couldn’t do that, not when he felt like he’d just learned far more than he wanted to- even though he still didn’t really know anything.

Bucciarati’s voice cut through the silence that had come to settle between them. “You’re being quite the philosopher today, Mista.”

“Heh, call me Play-doh,” Mista chuckled nervously.

“Do you mean Plato?”

“Yeah, that guy. Who names their kid after clay of all things?”

It was kind of reaching as far as jokes went but Bucciarati chuckled and that was good enough for him. The quiet felt a little more bearable, which was good because he was pretty sure they still had at least two hours to go before reaching Rusellae.

“Mista,” Bucciarati’s voice sounded reserved but Mista could hear the concern in capo’s words as he asked, “You aren’t planning on dying, are you?”

“Course not,” Mista answered instantly. “Who’d be there to fuck with you guys if I died?”

“I thought you only wanted to fuck one of us.”

It took a second for Mista to realize that Bucciarati had just made a dirty joke - about him and Giorno, of all things! - and his face heated up as he groaned. Feeling the same type of shame as if his mom caught him reading porn under the covers of his bed, he whined, “Bucciarati, stoooop, not you too!”

The capo just laughed in response, and Mista felt like it had been a lifetime since he’d heard that, though it probably just been a few days. He wondered how many more times he’d get to hear it in the future.

“...You aren’t planning on dying either, right Bucciarati?”

Bucciarati just hummed softly in response.

Chapter Text

It was strangely cold when they stepped out of the car. Come to think of it, Bucciarati had said a cold front was rolling in the night before. With all the heated action going on, Mista hadn’t noticed until now, and now he felt shivers running down his arms in the brisk air.

A bird cried above them, breaking the silence like a knife through butter. Mista was a little embarrassed it had made him jump a little. While he’d never really felt anxious before during jobs - there wasn’t any place for nerves with a job like his - he hadn’t had what was waiting for him now. Whatever was between him and Giorno… he didn’t want to lose that.

The scattered bricks and dilapidated stone walls stood eerily in the fog that hung low to the ground, like some kind of creepy haunted mansion ruins. Which he guessed kind of was what they were, but man, talk about setting an atmosphere.

He couldn’t help but notice the way some of the bricks were arranged: a cluster of four stones fallen together, stacks four bricks tall, four-brick long fragments of walls. Bad omens every-fucking-where. This was gonna be shit, wasn’t it?

“The fuck is he?” Mista didn’t want to stand around waiting, which Bucciarati seemed more than keen on doing. The capo glanced at him before turning his blue eyes on the scene before them.

“Not here, obviously.” So the tension was at least having an effect on Bucciarati as well. That made Mista feel a little better. “Perhaps he’s waiting in one of the rooms?”

“Can you really call ‘em rooms?”

“Walls, then.”

Mista grunted and crossed his arms over his chest, shiftily watching the edge of the woods from the corner of his eye. There was no way this wasn’t some kind of trap, and he was gonna damn well be ready for it. Bucciarati picked him for a reason; this was his specialty.

Bucciarati took a step forward, hesitant at first as the fine layer of dirt covering the ground shifted under his loafer, mixing with the fog that lingered in the shadows. When his capo started towards a larger semi-walled structure, Mista was just a step behind him, hand on his pistol and eyes and ears alert for any sign of danger.

Sniffing, he paused for a second in confusion. In a hushed whisper, he hissed, “Bucciarati do you smell that?”

“Smell what?”

“Smells like… like some kind of herb or something? It’s really faint though, I- I might just be on edge, ‘s all.”

Bucciarati made a hum of thought before instructing carefully, “Though I can’t smell it, it might still exist. I see no herbs growing around us, so it may not be natural. Take caution, Mista. If it gets stronger, tell me.”

“Will do, boss.”

As they approached the hill with the remains of the building, Bucciarati froze, his arm shooting out to stop Mista in his tracks. Whipping out his pistol, the gunsman snuck a glance over his capo’s shoulder to see what made the man stop.

A shoe was poking out from the corner of the closest stone wall, the folds of dark pants coming up a few inches before the rest of the body was obscured by the ivory bricks stacked tall above them. Bucciarati pointed to the corner of the wall then made a sweeping motion and Mista nodded, fanning away from him with silent, quick footsteps. Calling out Pistols and motioning for them to be fucking silent, just once, please, fuck, he approached the opposite end of the wall, ready to flank whoever was there as Bucciarati continued forward quietly. Mista had an itchy trigger finger and all his senses were screaming at him that he’d need to shoot something sooner rather than later.

Time seemed to move in slow motion as Bucciarati drew closer and closer to the building on the top of the hill. There was no sound; even the birds had stopped singing. That was supposed to be a good thing, but it just made the whole situation seem even more bleak.

Watching as Bucciarati stepped to just barely over five meters away, right outside the distance of Fillippo's Stand, Mista heard his capo call out, “Signor Fillippo?” and then three things happened at once.

A gun shot rang out loudly as it bounced off the stone walls, the man behind the wall toppled over, and Bucciarati jerked harshly to the side, clutching his side as he nearly fell to the ground.

“Bucciarati?!” Mista cried sharply, taking a single step towards his capo before Number One screamed in his ear, “Mista, stop!”

He stumbled to a jerky halt, watching as his capo pulled a hand away from his side to reveal a bullethole straight through his clothes, embedded in his right side. Not a single drop of blood fell from the supposed-wound, and Mista breathed a sigh of relief. He must not’ve been hurt after all. Rounding on the asshole behind the fucking wall, he held out his gun and-

His gun was smoking?

And the man who the shoe belonged to- he was dead. Had been dead from the looks of it, limbs splayed out stiffly under him and glazed-over eyes staring sightlessly at them both with a look of terror frozen on its face. It seemed to be breathing though, as a white-like mist drifted out of its mouth and… and moved.

The fog, Mista realized, and it must’ve been at the same time as Bucciarati because his capo yelled, “Mista, get back!”

And he did, putting as much distance between Bucciarati and himself as horror dawned in the pit of stomach as Number One hissed in his ear, “Mista, why’d you shoot him?!” The other Pistols were in various states of disarray, and Mista had nothing to say to them. He didn’t shoot Bucciarati, would never- he didn’t even feel his arm fucking moving!

He could feel it now though, and glared at the fucking thing like it was the worst scum on earth- until he tripped over his own fucking feet and was sent sprawling on his ass like a buffoon. He couldn’t feel his left foot now. No, that wasn’t right, he realized, it wasn’t his foot, just like it hadn’t been his arm.

“What the fuck is going on?” he hissed angrily as he pushed himself up from the ground, the dirt now staining his favorite pants the least of his worries. The sound of heels clicking against stone drew his attention back to the ruins and he looked up to see a man grinning gleefully at him from in front of the wall.

“You came after all, praise be!” As the man stepped into the light, Mista grimaced. What the fuck kind of scar was that, it was sick. And where had he seen this guy before?

“Castagna Martino.” That was Bucciarati’s voice and Mista looked to see his capo glowering at the dark-skinned man like he’d just had to clean up Abbacchio’s vodka-vomit for the millionth time. So he knew him then.

“It has been so long, Prediletto Bucciarati. I see Passione has treated you kindly.”

“Don’t address me as your friend.”

“As cold as ever. Do not forget your debt.” The man, Castagna apparently, took a step forward, and that was all the prompting Mista needed to fire at this fucker, sending Six and Seven with it.

The bullet ricocheted off the stone, shooting off from Pistols’ kick to embed itself perfectly in the ground where Castagna had stood just a millisecond ago, having stepped out of the way just in time.

“That’s as far as you go, fuckface,” Mista growled. It was still unclear whether they’d have to fight this guy, although it was pretty obvious that he’d probably been the one to kill Fillippo. He’d have to wait for Castagna to make a move first. That, or Bucciarati’s order. Mista kind of hoped the guy wouldn’t listen to him though. Fucker looked like he was asking for it, judging by that sick sneer that crossed his face as he stared at Mista like he was less than shit on his pearly-toed shoe.

“Unfortunately, I cannot catch up, dear friend.” He was completely ignoring Mista and that pised him off, but he couldn’t do anything when Bucciarati held up a finger behind his back. The capo wanted him to wait. “Orders are orders, after all. ‘For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.’”

And then the fog that Mista had realized wasn’t actually a fog surged upwards like a wave and swept over the hill at lightning speeds towards Bucciarati and before Mista could even fire his gun, both men were enveloped in the white cloud.

As he exhaled, Mista watched as a trickle of white streaming from his nose and mouth peeled towards the swarm. ‘What the fuck is that fucking Stand?!’ he thought frantically as he started to run towards where Bucciarati had disappeared. He couldn’t fire fucking willy-nilly or he might hit his capo as Number Two yelled at him, “Six and Seven can’t see anything in there! They can’t find Bucciarati!”

“Fuck!” he cursed, voice nearly breaking in anger. “Tell them both to get back here!”

“Mista, what’re we gonna do?!” Five wailed on the verge of tears.

He didn’t fucking know, of course he didn’t, he always just winged things, but he knew he had to get in there somehow! It’d take an absolute dumbass to go in there when he didn’t know what the Stand really did. Maybe there was some kind of gap or something? Or Bucciarati was on the other side of it?

That rapid thought process probably saved his life. Just as he veered to the left to skirt around the cloud-thing, a loud shriek of rage echoed in his ear followed by a foot slamming into the ground where he’d once been standing. The force was enough to send a cloud of dirt into the air, a small crater forming where it had landed in the earth beneath them both.

As the dirt began to settle and Mista recognized that white-and-purple checkered pattern with thick stitches crossing the foot, his heart sank.

Fuck.

This was the exact thing he’d been scared of, the single damn thing he didn’t say or even fucking think about because that would be like willing it into existence. Apparently, avoidance did jackshit. It would’ve happened anyway.

As he looked up to see Fugo standing at the corner of the building, Mista remembered all those fucking fours he’d seen everywhere. He knew fighting here was gonna be bad luck.

Chapter Text

“Heh, didn’t expect to see you here,” Mista forced out as he backed a few steps away from Purple Haze. Fugo’s violet eyes were cold and it almost hurt to even look at his former friend. Still, he couldn’t hold back. Anything less than his best would be disrespectful and idiotic.

“I’ll give you one chance, Mista.” Fugo’s words were as icy as his gaze and the resolve was clear in his tone. “Out of respect for our past. If you stand down, I’ll make it quick.”

“Stand down? Ha!” That earned a real laugh. How stupid did Fugo think Mista was? “You know I can’t do that.”

“Then you know I have no choice.”

“No choice, huh?” Even though provoking the blond probably wasn’t the best idea, Mista couldn’t help it. “You sure it ain’t just that you’re a coward?”

Fugo’s eyes flashed and his composed expression fell as a furious scowl shifted onto his features. Leaving the shadows of the stone wall, Fugo yelled, “Haze!”

The blond’s Stand roared in fury, its own mirrored by its user as it charged towards Mista, who barely had time to dart out of the way to avoid an elbow to the face. All six capsules were perfectly intact on its fists, and Mista knew that he'd have to be careful of them, despite the sunny weather overhead. Maybe he could use it to his advantage…

The Stand was hissing and growling and even though he’d known how dangerous it was, Mista had never really realized how dangerous. He’d never been the one who its fists were aimed at.

'I knew that fucking thing was scary,’ he thought frantically as he leapt towards the side again, firing his gun and sending Numbers One and Two riding the first bullet, the second one firing off into the distance as a blatant miss. ‘I need some distance, Haze’s range isn’t as large as mine.’

When Purple Haze raised its arms to deflect the bullet, the two pistols kicked it hard directly into one of the capsules on its hand. Fugo looked shocked for a split second as it cracked and the deadly virus spilled forth from it, forcing the blond back and allowing Mista a few precious seconds before the virus died to put some more distance between them both.

“Mista!” The gunsman nodded and sent Three and Five with his next three bullets, all aimed right at Fugo’s head. Purple Haze was called back in front of his user and blocked them all with ease, but the change in trajectory made them hit the rocks above his head and sent a shower of debris and dust falling down around the Stand and its user.

Mista heard Fugo curse and Haze’s angry roar at being dirtied. Hopefully that would distract it long enough for him to form some kind of plan as he quickly reloaded his gun. He still had Bucciarati to worry about, still couldn’t see through that damn Stand smoke, had to figure out some way to beat Fugo and get to the capo and-

“Haze!” The cry was the only warning he got before a pair of fists shot out of what seemed like nowhere towards him.

Mista was able to avoid the first one but the second one clipped his left arm, sending him careening to the side as pain exploded in his forearm. A quick look at Haze made it clear that none of the capsules had broken, thank God, he’d just been hit by the side of the fist, but it was still too close for comfort. Especially since it felt like his arm might be fractured.

“Stop dodging!” Fugo yelled furiously, and Mista couldn’t help but retort, “Then stop fucking punching me!”

This fucking sucked, Fugo was such a hard target to hit with just a damn gun, especially with Haze out, and now Mista was wishing that maybe he’d taken Bucciarati up on those offers of getting him some other weapons.

Darting towards the cover of the trees and ignoring the pain in his arm, he called Pistols back to him as Purple Haze chased him down. Back pressed against one of the trees, Mista fired three times at the Stand. When it deflected all the bullets, he smirked. Perfect.

“Pass, pass, pass!” Five, Six, and Seven cried excitedly as they kicked the speeding bullets between each other and into the tree branch directly above Mista’s head. It embedded itself deep in the wood, completely severing the thick wooden branch and sending it crashing down on Purple Haze.

Mista heard a gasp of pain from Fugo and knew that it had to have at least done some damage. There was still a twinge of guilt at hurting his former friend, but there’d be time for regrets after this was done.

Taking advantage of Haze’s momentary incapacitation, Mista shot towards Fugo, gun outstretched and fired. The blond recovered just enough to notice him coming. He jumped to the side, the bullet grazing across his right shoulder instead of burying itself deep in his heart like Mista had planned. Mista took this brief chance to reload as Fugo’s shriek of pain echoed through the trees. As blood oozed from the wound, the blond looked even more incensed.

Purple Haze emerged from the cloud of dirt that had risen up from the collapsing branch and went straight for Mista, a strangled cry of rage at its user being injured ripping from its throat.

Mista leapt backwards, avoiding the punches with ease, but a kick caught him off guard directly in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him as he shot backwards into another tree. His ribcage felt like it had just been fucking bulldozed as he struggled frantically to his feet, shooting two more bullets to keep Haze at bay long enough to move away.

He’d only made it a few feet when he was stopped in his tracks by Fugo, who had appeared in front of his still-spinning vision to aim a fist directly at his face.

It connected and sent Mista stumbling back, blood spattering down across his face from the wound in Fugo’s shoulder and now dripping down his lips from his own nose. He barely managed to stay on his feet, recognizing this as Fugo close to the brink of being consumed by his own rage, foregoing his normally levelheaded calculation. This was good, he could use this to his advantage.

As Mista stepped back to steady himself, he planted his feet in the ground and punched back with lightning fast reflexes. Purple Haze might’ve been stronger than Pistols in terms of power, but Mista was confident he could beat Fugo in a fistfight, and Haze couldn't get close enough to attack him without risking its user too.

He punched the blond directly in his right shoulder, going straight for his weak point with ruthless brutality, following it with a right hook to Fugo’s left eye. The blond wasn’t going to go down that easy though, using the momentum of being pushed backwards to violently grab Mista’s outstretched arm and throw him over his shoulder.

Right before he could hit the ground, Mista wrapped his free arm around Fugo’s neck and yanked the smaller boy down with him, both of them ending up winded on the ground.

Mista recovered first, being more used to this type of fighting than Fugo was, and somersaulted away from the blond, rolling to his feet and breaking into a sprint back towards the ruins. He could hear Fugo yelling behind him and the echo of Haze’s shrieks growing closer.

After putting some distance between them, he spun to fire another bullet along with Number One, intending to pull the same trick with the capsule that he did earlier.

It seemed Fugo caught on though because he yelled, “No you don’t!” and Mista watched in shock as Haze reached down and broke another of its capsules completely voluntarily.

Shit. Haze was still in the shadows on the trees; the virus would still be full force by the time One reached the opposing Stand. One’s panicked cries reached his ears as Mista cursed under his breath, firing three more bullets two with Two and Three, and the fourth disappearing into the woods. The two Pistols kicked their respective bullets into One’s, knocking it far off to the side and keeping the virus from reaching the Pistol by just a few centimeters.

“I won’t fall for that again, Mista!” Fugo growled as he approached him, fists clenched at his side and rage practically radiating off his body.

“Can’t blame a guy for trying,” Mista shot back, resuming his sprint. Time for Plan B- if he could even call it that. He wasn’t a strategist like Fugo was.

He spared a single glance towards the far end of the ruins. The white cloud was gone and he could make out Bucciarati and Castagna in the middle of their own fight. Bucciarati’s movements seemed jerky and off and it looked like his left arm was laying unzipped on the ground a ways off, but that was all Mista had time to take in before he had to roll out of the way of another well-aimed kick by Purple Haze.

“You should worry about yourself,” Fugo snarled over the din of Haze’s main cries. “Bucciarati will be next.”

“You’re insane, Fugo!” Mista couldn’t help but shoot back as he hit the stone wall, rounding to glare at the blond boy around ten meters away from him. He had a few seconds to say what he needed to say before he was within range of Haze again. “The fuck is the point of loyalty to some asshole you’ve never even met?!”

“It isn’t about loyalty,” Fugo growled back, his approach slowing a fraction of a second. “It's about honor. It’s about holding yourself accountable. It’s about not breaking your covenant.”

“It isn’t the Boss you swore too,” Mista said firmly. This was his last chance to try to get thought to Fugo, and he’d hate himself forever if he didn’t at least try. “It was the family.”

Whether that did anything or not, Mista didn’t have the chance to see because he had to duck down to narrowly avoid getting pummelled by Haze’s fists. In the rain of stones that he dodged out of the way of to get further into the ruins, he didn’t see the way Fugo seemed to falter in his steps for just a split second.

There was a structure he remembered seeing earlier, a wall that bent at the left side and ended in a deadend, probably the remains of a hall or something. A plan quickly formed in his head as he shot his final two bullets at Haze, forcing it to dodge as he broke into a sprint. That was his best bet and he raced towards it.

“Mista, be careful!” he heard Five cry in his ear and swallowed thickly as he nodded. This was risky; one wrong move and he’d be fucked. Still, this was the only thing he could think of.

He rounded the corner of the wall and pressed himself flat against the stone, holding his breath as he waited, reloading the pistol with perfectly silent precision. Footsteps bounced off the rock walls as they neared where he stood firm, gun held out and ready to fire.

“You’ve backed yourself into a corner.” Fugo’s disdainful words appeared first before the blond’s face showed itself around the wall. “You’ve nowhere to run. Any last words?”

“Yeah,” Mista answered. “Duck. Now, Pistols!”

All six bullets unloaded themselves from his cartridge as all the Pistols rode them towards the blond. Fugo scoffed as Haze appeared in front of him, its arms raised up to protect its user.

The Pistols exchanged gleeful cries as they waited until the last second and then kicked five of the bullets out of the way of Haze’s arms to each other, creating a ricocheted ringing of the five bullets as they gathered more and more speed until they were just blurs in the air.

Fugo only had a moment of confusion before Sex Pistols sent each of the bullets on their true path with one final kick, directly into the same weak spot of the stone wall that Mista had noticed earlier. There was a loud crashing sound as the stones exploded in on themselves, raining down with vicious accuracy on top of the blond boy.

Fugo’s cry of shock was drowned out by the loud crashing noises of the stones as a massive dust cloud was kicked up around them. Mista barely had time to scale the shorter portion of the deadend to avoid some of the rocks reaching him, the explosion so strong that it sent some careening towards him.

Mista hovered just outside of Fugo’s range, in case the blond somehow avoided the rocks, but as the dust began to settle, he saw that his plan had worked. Fugo was half pinned beneath the rubble, covered in what would be dark bruises and long bloody scrapes but still conscious, his violet eyes glaring holes into Mista as blood trickled down his forehead.

And then they softened and a small smirk crossed the blond’s face as he said, “I never would have thought you would outsmart me, Mista. Perhaps I was wrong about your stupidity after all.”

“I always said you were,” Mista replied, bending down to rest his arms atop his knees, setting his chin in his hand as he stared at his old friend. “‘Course, I never woulda thought we’d be in this kinda situation anyways, so.”

Fugo laughed at that, a sharp bark that sounded more like a sob than anything else. “I suppose you’re right. Well then, go ahead.”

“With what?” he asked, even though he knew.

“Don’t play the fool.” Fugo’s tone grew cold again, laced with a strange bitterness that sounded out of place for someone as sure of himself as Fugo always seemed to be. “Kill me, Mista. Better you than him.”

Somehow, Mista didn’t think the ‘him’ was referring to Bucciarati. He straightened, stepping forwards as he loaded his pistol with a single bullet. Spinning the cartridge, Mista held it out and levelled it at Fugo’s head. The blond stared down the barrel of the gun, not looking away at all.

“Fugo. We’d always take you back.”

Something flashed through Fugo’s eyes but Mista couldn’t tell what. He swallowed as his finger came to a rest on the trigger, ready to pull it back. He needed to do this. For Bucciarati. For Giorno. For-

Narancia.

A shot rang out through the collapsed rubble and Mista lowered the smoking gun, looking away.

There was dead silence and then- “You’re a fool, Mista.”

That was all the gunsman heard before something exploded in the back of his head and he pitched forwards as a purple-and-white foot appeared in front of his fading vision.

His last conscious thought was how he’d unintentionally stepped back into Haze’s range.

‘Shit.’

Chapter Text

Fugo watched as Mista toppled to the ground, the faint voices of his Sex Pistols disappearing as the Stand vanished. He waited a few seconds to be sure the gunman was truly out before calling Haze back to him.

It wandered over, its growls subdued to a low hissing as it bent down to start lifting the rocks off its user, one by one with more caution than you’d think a Stand like Purple Haze would be able to do. When it pulled off a particularly large stone that caused the rubble to shift and Fugo to wince in pain, it yanked itself back frantically.

“I’m fine, Haze,” Fugo soothed, beckoning the Stand back to him. “Keep going.”

It hissed with what sounded like concern but obeyed. Honestly, Fugo probably wasn’t all that fine. Mista had been a tough opponent, more difficult than Fugo had expected, and his whole body was sore. His shoulder stung where dirt and rocks had fallen into the bullet wound, his left was starting to swell shut, and he was fairly certain his ankle was sprained- at least. It was probably broken; a stone had pinned it at an awkward angle and the rest of the debris had crushed it pretty damn good.

The last of the rocks were falling away and it had gotten loose for him to pull himself out from the rest, sending Haze back before the Stand could notice how dirty it had gotten. His green suit was full of additional holes and had enough bloodstains on it that he could pass for a pretty authentic zombie if it was Halloween.

Fugo approached Mista, still lying motionless face-first on the ground. He’d made sure that Haze hadn’t broken a capsule; the least he could do was save his former friend that sort of painful death. With a little too much care, he pushed the limp body over so Mista was lying face up. Blood streaked down his face from his nose and he had a few splatters across his forehead that was probably from Fugo himself.

He needed to finish the job. It was his task. It was what he’d promised the Boss and- and yet…

“We’d always take you back.”

Mista’s words echoed through his mind. Why would they take back a traitor? Why would they ever trust him again?

Yet Fugo knew the answer, and that was ultimately why he stepped over Mista’s body and walked away.

“I’m a fool as well,” he murmured, clenching his fists as he began to walk towards where Castagna and Bucciarati had been fighting. It was a slow process, his foot basically dragging along the ground behind him, but he wouldn’t stop. Mista had shown his resolve, it was time for him to show his own.

His new resolve.

Castagna had revealed his plan for dealing with Bucciarati to Fugo while giving the blond as little detail about his Stand as possible. It was a pity that he’d underestimated how much Fugo could gather from the vague information the man gave him. That, combined with what Fugo had already figured out from the previous few interactions he’d had with Violet Hill, left Fugo with a very distinct picture of Castagna’s Stand. He didn’t know everything about it, but he knew enough.

He knew that it manipulated body parts. Based on what he saw with Fillippo, he knew it couldn’t control an entire body at once. He knew it was long-range. And then there was the hunch that had been growing in the back of his mind, that the way Castagna phrased his words and emphasized the living had something to do with Violet Hill. It was too early to say for sure whether his theory was right or not; it could only be tested through practice.

As far as Castagna’s plan went, it was a fairly simple one. All he had told him was that he would use Violet Hill to incapacitate Bucciarati. While that alone hadn’t told him a lot, knowing that the Stand manipulated the body, Fugo had gathered that meant he’d be using Bucciarati’s own body against him.

Of course, Fugo knew that Bucciarati wouldn’t make it that easy, but Castagna hadn’t seemed worried. Much as he hated to admit it, Violet Hill was a good counter to Sticky Fingers. It had a large range, larger than Sticky Fingers did, it wasn’t a single body that could be removed through just one zipper, it could slow Bucciarati’s normally fluid, elegant movements.

Fugo wasn’t sure how the ex-capo would deal with Castagna. There was always something stronger than yourself, he recalled, and Fugo couldn’t help but wonder which of the two that was. Not that it mattered; he knew what he had to do.

As he grew closer, it became clear that Castagna’s plan had, for the most part, worked. Both Bucciarati’s arms lay on the ground behind the pair, the ex-capo breathing heavily as he used Sticky Fingers to escape into a zipper in the ground as Castagna charged him with the daggers that were his weapon of choice.

Castagna smirked wildly as Bucciarati’s foot hooked onto the edge of the ground, getting zipped off in the process as the dark-haired man reappeared further away. Fugo’s current partner didn’t look like he’d escaped unscathed though; his last two fingers on his left hand were gone, blood still dripping from the wounds, there was a long stretch of wound empty space going down his side from where Bucciarati must’ve landed a hit, and his forehead was oozing scarlet again- although Fugo thought that may have been self-inflicted again.

It looked like Bucciarati had figured out somewhat what Violet Hill did by the way he immediately ripped off his own leg, but Fugo knew there wasn’t much point. Unless Castagna had another target, there was no escaping the Stand.

It had felt like hours while he was fighting Mista, but in reality it had only been maybe ten minutes at most. Fugo remembered watching from his hiding spot as the pair had approached the ruins and the surrealism of the situation had finally sunk in.

Throughout the fight, he’d been thinking: what was driving Mista? Bucciarati? Why did they believe so strongly they were right when Fugo himself was so sure his own decision hadn;t been wrong? He wanted to understand. He still did.

Maybe it wasn’t too late after all. Maybe it never had been from the start. Maybe-

“There you are, Caro Fugo!” Castagna’s sickening voice brought him back to reality as it echoed through the open expanse the pair were fighting in.

The way Bucciarati’s facial muscles didn’t change confirmed it; the ex-capo had definitely caught a glimpse of him fighting Mista. However, the glimmer of fear in his blue eyes said that he was worried Mista was dead. Fugo made eye contact with him, the first time he’d been able to in what seemed like weeks.

Bucciarati’s expression was pained and Fugo forced himself to look away first. He didn’t want to read too much into that look.

“You’ve taken care of the sinner, I presume?” Castagna’s voice sounded friendly but it was laced with thinly-veiled venom and Fugo recognized it for the threat that it was.

He nodded in return. “Signor Martino,” he began, voice carefully devoid of emotion as he approached the dark-skinned man. “If you would be so kind as to allow me.”

Castagna’s plum-colored eyes widened and a wicked grin spread across his face. He bowed low, stepping to the side as he gestured wildly to where Bucciarati rested on the ground. Bucciarati, who was staring at Fugo with an unreadable expression, as if he could see into Fugo’s very soul. Maybe he could, Fugo supposed. It had always seemed that way.

“By all means,” Castagna allowed, tone gleeful as if he were a child at a carnival. “I had intended to keep this one for myself, but I suppose you have earned it more than I. After all, I have already rescued this soul.”

Fugo wasn’t sure what Castagna meant by that, but he knew that Bucciarati and Castagna had known each other in the past. He was probably referring to that.

“Fugo.” It was the first time Bucciarati had spoken to him since telling him that he was betraying Passione and it hurt more than Fugo had anticipated. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

‘For they shall be satisfied.’ Was this the closest he would get? No. That wasn’t acceptable. He knew what he had to do, had known it from the start. Maybe Mista was right; maybe it was cowardice. His own insecurities brought to fruition the moment his leader wasn’t bathed in the light of the Heavens Fugo had always seen him as.

“Bucciarati, thank you.” The ex-capo’s expression softened and Fugo felt like crying.

Purple Haze appeared at his side, the soft growling noises echoing through the ruins. Castagna looked positively ecstatic at seeing Fugo’s Stand for the first time, and it only reconfirmed Fugo’s belief that that man was insane. No one in their right mind would enjoy a Stand like his.

With a roar of fury, Haze charged.

Chapter Text

The thing about Purple Haze was that it, itself, was not dangerous.

Just like with any other weapon, it was how it was used that made it so. That, and who it was used by.

And it wasn’t Purple Haze that was particularly dangerous, but Fugo himself.

When he’d gotten his Stand, Fugo had been at the lowest point of his life. He’d been prepared to eventually die on the streets with no one around him and nothing to his name and all because he’d refused to be complacent.

Up until that point, all his life, he’d been living for other people’s sake. Used by his parents to bring more prestige and power to the Fugo name. Used by his brothers to escape their cruel-hearted parents. Used by his ‘friends’ to make themselves seem better. And then nearly used by his own professor as nothing more than what? A toy to pass the time? Could you even really call that living anymore?

Like a carbonated soda that rattled and rattled around endlessly, the rage within him built. It built and built and built until it exploded outwards with the creation of his Stand. With the creation of his own anger and fury and pain built into a single body.

The first time he’d summoned it, seen it outside of a singular glimpse when Black Sabbath disappeared back into the lighter, and it had towered over him, hissing and growling and oozing drool like some sort of monster, he’d been paralyzed with fear. He hadn’t screamed, refused to do so, but this… this thing had come from him? He hadn’t wanted to believe it.

Purple Haze had liked him. Fugo had not liked it.

He could say that it was because it was violent, because it was unstable and unpredictable, because it was ugly and marred and dirty and he didn’t need a Stand like that. But for as violent as Purple Haze was, Fugo was worse. With each unstable step, Fugo himself worried and questioned and doubted. With each unpredictable scream, Fugo’s temper changed faster. And when he looked in the mirror, he wasn’t any cleaner than Haze was. At least Haze wasn’t covered in the blood of all the lives it ended. Because Fugo never used Haze during his assassinations.

Fugo could say that it was because he hated Purple Haze, but he knew it was because it reminded him of who he was.

But with each step he had walked beside Bucciarati, Fugo had found himself wondering if that was really all he was. When his capo would turn and smile at him and praise him for his work and his determination, a feeling long-rejected by the blond boy would start bubbling up in his heart. When he was beside Bucciarati, it felt like he was walking in the light for the first time.

Turning his back on that light… was he a fool? He must have been. A righteous fool too set in his ways to turn his back on any former ideals, on the rigidity he clung to to bring shape and structure into his otherwise too-distorted world.

Fugo knew he hadn’t been wrong.

But he hadn’t been right either.

And it wasn’t too late. Maybe that had really been the only mistake he’d made along the way. Believing that he couldn’t change. That he was everything he’d ever be. That life was static, when he’d always been taught that it was a dynamic force twisting and turning and branching off with every choice you made.

For every distorted branch on his path, a new leaf was formed.

It wasn’t too late. It never had been. If he didn’t understand, he could learn. And Fugo had always been good at that.


He only had a few seconds before Castagna could react, and those precious few seconds would determine everything.

As Purple Haze charged at Bucciarati, Fugo flashed a single signal with his left hand, so quick and indistinct that anyone else would’ve missed it, but Bucciarati had worked with him for years. There was no way he would. His capo’s eyes widened in a fraction of a second and then he was gone, falling backwards into the zipper that Sticky Fingers yanked him into.

It was fast enough that Castagna couldn’t notice the slight change in trajectory when Haze planted its foot square on the ground where Bucciarati had been a millisecond earlier, its fist slamming into the dry ground. A slight twist of the fist to the right sent a shower of twigs, dead leaves, and dirt flying towards Castagna, who had to step away coughing in the ensuing cloud of dust and debris. Just in case Bucciarati couldn’t get far enough with just one leap. Fugo couldn’t take any chances.

A quick scan revealed that Bucciarati had yet to reappear, and Fugo hoped that it was because he’d gone to where he’d left Mista, temporarily out of harm’s way. Castagna looked around impatiently as he rubbed at his eyes.

“You missed.” He sounded peeved, tears forming in the corners of his plum-colored eyes. Fugo walked towards him, looking around as well. He truly was still looking for Bucciarati, but not for the reason Castagna thought.

“It happens,” Fugo forced out, knowing how suspicious it would be if he didn’t reply. His fist curled around the butterfly knife in his pants pocket, the one that Narancia had given him for Christmas months earlier. He’d never thought he’d need to use it, but held onto it anyway. How ironic, he thought, that all it took for it to come in handy was for him to betray the very person who’d given it to him.

Now, if he could just get close enough, just a single second would be all it took.

Castagna hummed agreeably, crossing his arms over his chest as he scowled. “I suppose I’ll have to hunt him down.”

“I believe you agreed to allow me.”

“Oh, of course, I don’t mean to encroach, Signor Fugo!” Castagna’s face twisted into a grin as he turned towards him, clasping his hands together. “I am simply concerned over your ability, that is all!”

“My abilities are as powerful as yours, if not more. You don’t need to worry about that.”

“Ah, yes, well, I didn’t quite mean that.” Fugo frowned in confusion as Castagna’s grin turned into an expression of pity. “Perhaps I was not clear.”

A sharp twinge exploded in his stomach and Fugo gasped in pain, hand flying to his right side to feel blood pulsing out of the fresh wound with every beat of his heart. When he looked down, he saw that his own knife was embedded in his side, his familiar scarred fingers clutching the hilt.

“You shall be dead before the chance arises again.”

Whipping up to stare at Castagna in horror, Fugo vaulted backwards as the man stepped forward. The tell-tale cloud of his Stand was slowly creeping out of the man’s body and into the ground, rising up every place Fugo stepped.

Shit. He’d been careless.

He’d thought that Violet Hill could only affect one person at a time; he could see now that he was wrong. At the very least, there was more to it than that. And seeing as he hadn’t been surrounded by the Stand since their talk…

“Exposure,” he realized a gasp. “You never needed to attack me; I was already infected. Like a-”

“A carrier!” Castagna clapped his hands as he advanced. “Bravo, Signor Fugo, you truly are a learned man! If only you had not forfeited my allegiance like a fool. I pity the loss of a soul such as yours, but God has deemed your present fate unworthy.”

“‘God, God, God,’ you’re such a fucking dumbass! Do you ever think for yourself?!” Fugo cursed with a low growl. His patience for this man was gone, and instead of backing away, he charged. Fugo may have been a calculating man, but he had no qualms with charging headlong into a fight if that’s what it took.

Castagna looked surprised for a split second before he muttered something that sounded like Latin under his breath and Fugo felt his left leg twist beneath him. ‘Fucking showoff,’ he thought angrily, knowing full well that was just for show, and that Castagna needed no words to contorl his Stand.

Still, that action, that loss of control, was what he’d been waiting for and as he fell forwards, his hand now freed from the Stand’s manipulation, he pulled the blood-covered knife from his side and used the momentum to send it shooting through the air. As he ducked his head to roll into his fall, he heard a shocked grunt of pain and knew he’d found his mark.

“I see.” So it hadn’t been enough. When Fugo looked up, he saw Castagna clutching at his right shoulder, a deep gash gouging a hole in the soft flesh with his knife embedded in a tree a few meters back. “You forced me to use Violet Hill so you could remove the knife. Clever, but it won’t work again, Signor Fugo.”

“It only had to work once,” he growled back, staggering to his feet. This pain was nothing. If his arms refused to listen, he’d use his legs. If his legs wouldn’t work, he’d drag himself if he had to. And if nothing moved anymore, he’d use Haze to move for him.

It took him years to realize, but he knew now: as long as he had Haze by his side, he could distort a new path.

Chapter Text

“Purple Haze!” Fugo cried, and his Stand appeared at his side with a roar of fury. As it rushed towards Castagna, Fugo’s brow furrowed. Was it just the pain clouding his mind, or did Haze look… different. And even as he wondered that, he could feel it, could know that something was different, something was new about his Stand.

But it wasn’t the time to keep thinking about it as he felt his own mouth form the words, “Stop!” of its own volition. Haze did, looking confusedly back at its user as Fugo fell back, skirting around Castagna and moving determinedly towards his knife. As soon as he felt his leg stiffen up, Fugo cried out, “Go, Haze!”

As hie Stand moved again, Fugo planted his stumbling feet on the ground and pushed off. Just a few more meters to the butterfly knife and he’d be there. When Castagna manipulated Violet Hill again, Fugo was ready. With no hesitation, he bit down on his left hand. Hard.

The roar of fury from Castagna as he realized the blond’s plan gave Fugo a satisfactory feeling, even as his own teeth dug into the soft flesh of his fingers and the sharp tang of blood filled his mouth and dribbled down his chin. He only needed one hand to wield his knife.

Purple Haze’s fist swung so fast through the space next to Castagna’s cheek that the air itself was ringing as the tanned man narrowly avoided the attack. His next few seconds were spent focused on avoiding the flurry of punches headed his way. In the single moment it took Purple Haze to twist around, both Fugo and Castagna found their opportunities.

Fugo felt his mouth’s muscles ease and he braced himself for the feeling of losing control over a different limb. When it didn’t come, he didn’t hesitate. Trusting Haze to keep Castagna busy, he used those precious seconds of freedom to practically throw himself at his weapon, wrapping both hands around the pocketknife’s grip to pull it free from the tree.

Success flared through him, but it was short lived as he spun around- only to plunge stomach-first into a long, narrow blade that cruelly twisted down into a cross-shaped hilt. Blood spurted out of the wound and his own butterfly knife clattered to the ground as Castagna’s leering grin stared down at him.

“Do you like her?” Castagna cooed lovingly as he stared down at the silver blade buried in Fugo’s stomach. “My sweet Magdalena, to henceforth deliver your precious misericordia.”

Fugo saw Haze behind them, looking confused and agitated and enraged as it frantically looked around for its target. Its attention quickly shifted to the mud on its legs and a disgusted hiss escaped its lips as it began to rub frantically at them. Pushing back at the muddled delirium threatening to overtake him, Fugo was confused. Purple Haze had lost track of Castagna? But how? Haze wasn’t as fast as Sticky Fingers or Gold Experience, but it wasn't slow by any means, how could-

“Really,” Castagna’s voice twisted to a hiss as he pushed the blade even deeper into Fugo’s chest. “Did you think Violet could only control others?” His fist curled in the bloodied remains of Fugo’s suit, practically hoisting him up as he withdrew the dagger with lightning speed to stab again, this time deep into the soft flesh of Fugo’s leg. Fugo heard the scrape of metal against bone and bit back a gag. “I’m sure you’ve heard, Signor Fugo, that the best offense is a good defense.”

Understanding shot through Fugo’s pain-addled mind. Violet Hill’s true capabilities didn’t lie in its ability to manipulate others, but in the way it could control the one ‘patient’ that had been ‘exposed’ to it for years. This was how Castagna had never lost before.

It didn’t matter how fast or how strong Purple Haze was if its fists never made contact. It didn’t matter how deadly its virus was if anything inorganic was killed by Violet Hill. Haze’s virus was quick, but Violet Hill’s antibodies were quicker. But a plan was forming in his mind, forming around the single thing he knew was different about Purple Haze. He had one chance left.

“Haze!” It came out as more of a gurgle from the blood pooling in his mouth and thrust, but his Stand heard him, looked back from where it was scrubbing at the dirt stains covering it, saw Castagna, and flung itself forward with an incoherent, garbled shriek.

“I should’ve gone for your damn throat,” Castagna cursed under his breath, balling his fist tighter in Fugo’s clothes as he practically threw the blond to the ground, crimson spraying out from the open wounds to stain the stones of the ruins as the older man darted out of the way of Haze.

As strong and fast as he was, Castagna could only dodge Haze, lest he risk being hit by the deadly virus within the capsules. There was the possibility, however small it was, that Haze’s virus was not one Violet Hill could defeat, and both Castagna and Fugo knew that. Fugo was relying on that.

Purple Haze’s fist exploded on the ground not a meter from Fugo’s own head, and he took careful note of the telltale hissing noise as his Stand reared back to go after Castagna.

His knife. He had to reach his knife. It, too, was only a meter away, half-folded in on itself, but Fugo was bleeding out, that meter might as well have been a mile. Still, he grit his teeth, dug his fists into the grass poking out of the ground and dragged himself towards it.

When cold metal brushed beneath his fingertips a moment later, he breathed a single sigh of relief, grabbing both the blade and the small orb beside it. Now for the hard part. The part that relied far too much on luck for his liking. Fugo was not a lucky guy, never had been. But ever since Giorno had joined their group, it seemed like their luck was turning around. Even though he didn’t believe in all that unscientific, superstitious nonsense, he couldn’t help but hope that would remain the case.

Fugo scanned the sky, clutching a rock in his free hand and- and found his target. Why a bird would remain when there was all this noise and fighting and movement going on, Fugo had no idea. He grinned. Maybe Mista was right, maybe Giorno really was a good luck charm after all.

Though Narancia would berate him if he ever found out, Fugo took aim and threw with all his strength. There was a loud screech that echoed through the air and a second later, a black crow plummeted out of the sky, one of its wings bent back and bloodied and broken as it thrashed about on the ground.

Castagna saw the bird fall. A sign, a good omen of protection, a symbol that he would achieve victory yet again. Castagna praised his God and, for a second, really just half a second, not even a full tick on a clock, he hesitated.

That was all Purple Haze needed to connect a fist directly into Castagna’s gut and send him flying.

Haze had perfect aim, just like Fugo had hoped.

He landed roughly on the ground with a heavy thud, immobile for less than a second before Castagna stood like nothing had hit him. Fugo noted that it was clear by the way his left femur seemed to be jutting awkwardly out of its normal position, a lump of rapidly-bruising flesh sticking out of a tear in his plum-colored pants, that his leg was broken. Violet Hill was helping him move anyway.

As Haze dissipated behind them, Fugo and Castagna both noticed the ruptured capsule on its fist at the same time. Castagna paused for a single second, looking down at his body as if checking for something before he began to laugh, slowly and softly at first, until it ascended into a crescendo of gleeful hysteria.

“You fool!” he shrieked wildly, whipping around to leer at Fugo. “Violet kills all viruses! You can’t defeat me! God’s favor is once again within me!”

He leapt for Fugo, blood and sweat dripping down his face in a deranged mask. As Castagna’s strange dagger flashed out to rupture Fugo’s jugular, Fugo was just a millisecond faster, years of avoiding Narancia’s switchblade giving him plenty of practice. His own butterfly knife buried itself in Castagna’s stomach as he rolled to the side to avoid his throat being pierced.

Blood spurted from the graze on his neck and began to stain the ground as Castagna stared down at him in shock. A single well-aimed kick was all it took to knock the bigger man off of him, forcing the blade in all the way to the hilt as he thudded to the ground.

Fugo took a second, perhaps the first second he’d taken since their fight began to actually breathe, before Haze appeared at his side. As he broke the capsule he’d been holding in his mouth since Haze had punched the ground beside him, he chuckled to himself. How ironic, that he couldn’t stand on his own without his Stand supporting part of his weight.

It didn’t matter; he’d won. Even if Castagna didn’t know it yet.

Castagna, who was trying to stagger to his own feet, paused from his position on the ground. Blood gurgled in his throat as he stared confusedly at his chest, which seemed to be bubbling and oozing more than just blood.

“I know you hate questions,” Fugo drawled as he approached Castagna’s rapidly-decaying body. “So I’ll spare you the misery of asking ‘how.’ Violet Hill acts as antibodies, you told me that much. It attacks anything nonliving in the body and ‘cleanses’ it, so Haze’s virus would do nothing to you. But what about a parasite?”

Castagna seemed to freeze for a few seconds before his face twisted into a furious scowl.

Fugo grinned. “Violet can’t hurt something that’s ‘alive.’ And parasites are living things.”

“Uu… an’t…!”

“I couldn’t,” Fugo corrected, knowing what Castagna meant to say despite his rapidly-dissolving vocal cords. “Haze is imperfect. Impure, just like I am. But it can change, just as I have.” His purple eyes narrowed as he stared down at the distorted lifeform beneath him, the last of Castagna’s precious mist-like Stand dissolving around him. “‘But the vile—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur.’ So burn.”

There was next to nothing left of him, but the pleasure Fugo received from watching Castagna’s plum-colored eyes condemn him was immeasurable. The man writhed violently one final time before falling still forever, body still oozing into the ground.

“Brucia e pentiti. Amen.”

Purple Haze made a soft grunting noise next to him and Fugo finally turned to look at his Stand’s new form. The white-and-purple checkered pattern, the helmet, and the capsules, two ruptured on the left and one missing on the right, looked the same as before. Its waistcloth was gone, the spikes lining its spine vanished as well, and its boots had faded to a simple continuation of the pattern stretching down to the stitches on its feet. It stared at Fugo with iris-less yellow eyes and somehow, it seemed more human because of it.

“You know,” Fugo murmured quietly as he sagged to the ground. “I had despised you, Haze. But you knew that already. Even so, you chose to protect me. Thank you.”

Haze made a quiet moan that Fugo recognized as concern, its hand appearing near his shoulder as if to comfort him. The fingers were flickering in and out of existence, Fugo’s own ability to keep his Stand out fading with each passing second. That Purple Haze was ignoring its own deteriorated state at all would’ve shocked Fugo in the past, but he was different now. They both were.

“Don't make that face, Haze. I won't leave you. I’ve realized something,” he explained softly, knowing his Stand wouldn’t really understand him, and knowing that that was okay. “For something that’s already so misshapen and deformed… there’s always room for more distortion.”

Chapter Text

Mista opened his eyes to an ear-splitting scream.

It sounded more like a roar than a cry, like a wounded animal drawing in its last breath to unleash one final, indignant condemnation to the world that brought its cruel hand of fate down upon the creature.

He recognized the voice and leapt to his feet in an instant, sprinting in the direction the shriek had come.

Around him, the world seemed to be shifting. Footprints appeared beneath his own before he’d even stepped there, rubble and debris cascaded down seemingly from thin air, bodies littered the ground, dropping like flies from nothing at all. In the gray storm raging above him, the wind whipped so fiercely across his face that he had to squint so he could even see ahead of him.

There couldn’t possibly be this many people here. The ruins had been completely empty, no tourists or locals in sight when he’d arrived with Bucciarati. And why did time seem to be stopping and starting? He couldn’t even tell it was most of the time, but there was the feeling of being in the wrong place, of missing a few seconds when his memories just jumped ahead from where they’d left off.

What had Bucciarati said about the Boss? That his Stand distorted time? Something like that. At the time, Mista hadn’t thought it would’ve mattered; he wasn’t the one who was gonna need to know this shit, he’d just have to follow the others. Now he wished he’d paid more attention.

“Mista, where’re we going?” That was Five’s voice, small and scared and looking at him like he was running towards the end of the world. Who knows, maybe he was.

He didn’t answer, couldn’t when there was another scream and suddenly he was pitching forwards, toppling to the ground as he stumbled over something soft.

With a groan, he rolled to his side, rubbing his shoulder as he looked into dull blue eyes.

Vomit bubbled up into the back of his throat before he could swallow it back down, spilling out onto the blood-stained ground as flies buzzed around the lifeless corpse. Dark rust-colored blood fell out of a hole that went straight through his capo’s chest, intestines spilling onto the dirt and yellow-green pus oozing from the rotting flesh. Bucciarati’s eyes, eyes that Mista was so used to being pierced through by, now stared back at him with a bitter expression of utter defeat.

This couldn’t be happening. How long had he been out? How had all of this not woken him sooner? How much time had passed since Fugo- Fugo.

He couldn’t see the blond anywhere. Of all the corpses littering the ground, not a single one held that familiar green suit with the hideous holes or the spiky golden hair that suddenly looked a little less gold after Mista met Giorno.

Giorno, who Mista knew couldn’t possibly be here, whose voice he heard anyway. Who had been screaming just a few moments ago, even though Mista had never heard the blond scream once in the few days he’d known him.

As he turned around, Mista saw a flash of red, a footprint in the dirt before him, the kick of rocks to his left and the sound of cracking and then there was blood.

So much blood, more than he’d ever seen before. How could that much blood possibly be in his own body?

He was falling, eyes dark and mouth filled with the tang of iron, as he heard that awful, awful scream of pain and regret and loss and-

“Mista!”

-and his eyes opened again and saw a wide, blue sky above him with not a single gray cloud or wisp of fog in sight.

“Mista, are you alright?!”

The worried voice came from his left and he squinted in the sunlight, head throbbing as he turned to see Bucciarati kneeling at his side with his face pinched in concern. Piercing blue eyes. Thank God.

“Fine,” he grunted in response, hauling himself into a seated position as he rubbed the blurred lines of the nightmare from his face. Leave it to Fugo to knock him out and give him one’a the worst dreams in his whole fucking life.

Speaking of the blond, part of Mista was surprised that Fugo had actually left him alive. He had chickened out at the last possible second, had thought of Narancia and how he would’ve waited and cried by himself if Mista had killed Fugo so he wouldn’t seem weak, and Mista just hadn’t been able to bring himself to do it. Not to Narancia.

But he was still alive too, which meant that Fugo had changed his mind as well. At least long enough to let him live. Surely that had a deeper meaning than Mista could really tell, a lot of Fugo’s actions seemed to, but he didn’t know what. Fugo had always been inexplicable.

“Where’s Fugo?” he asked, not seeing the boy anywhere around them.

Bucciarati’s brows furrowed and his eyes darkened a shade as he murmured, “Back there with Castagna, I believe.”

“You beat them both?” It was kinda insulting, but Mista couldn’t help the slight disbelief in his voice. Bucciarati was strong, of course he was, but two-on-one was never good odds no matter how strong your Stand was, and Bucciarati had seemed strange lately. Like something was off.

“…No.” That wasn’t the answer he’d been expecting. His confusion must’ve been obvious because Bucciarati clarified, “Fugo told me to go.”

“And- and you just listened?!” As much as Mista wanted to believe that Fugo really might be on their side, he couldn’t risk that, couldn’t risk all of their lives just like that. He was shocked that Bucciarati had.

“His eyes were different, Mista,” Bucciarati explained as if it was the simplest thing in the world, and for him, it probably was. “Their resolve was… new. Whether that means he will fight us both next, I don’t know, but he must come to his own terms with it. I owe him at least that.”

“You don’t owe anyone jack shit,” Mista pointed out, still irritated that Fugo was even making them go through all this in the first place. He didn’t get why the blond couldn’t betray Passione; it’s not like his loyalties were with the group. At least, he hadn’t thought they were, but maybe he didn’t know Fugo as well as he thought he did. “Is he fighting that weirdo then?”

“I don’t know.” The capo frowned softly, clearly thinking about something that he apparently wasn’t going to tell Mista. Well that just fucking figures. “But Fugo is strong. He will be waiting for us either way.”

“Yeah, sure,” Mista grumbled, wincing as he attempted to stretch his arms over his shoulder. Right. Fractured. Just like his fucking ribs. “Don’t suppose you can zip up what you can’t see?”

Bucciarati shot him a look and Mista sighed as he took the man’s outstretched hand and got to his feet. “Right, that’s what I thought. How long was I out?”

“Five minutes at most? I had to send Sticky Fingers to retrieve my limbs first, so I found you just a minute or two ago,” Bucciarati replied, a sly smile crossing his face as he added, “Once I was sure you were breathing and that your life wasn’t in danger, I woke you.”

“So that’s why my head fucking hurts,” Mista grumbled. Not that he could blame Bucciarati for beating him awake, he knew he slept like the dead. Not really wanting to know what the capo meant by ‘retrieve his limbs,’ Mista settled with saying, “I don’t hear any fighting, so guess we better go check on that fucker, yeah?”

Bucciarati nodded and as he turned to walk towards where he’d left the two enemies, Mista couldn’t help but notice the strange hole in his side. The one from his own bullet. It wasn’t right, something was very, very wrong, but he didn’t understand and he didn’t want to. Tearing his eyes away from the ‘wound,’ Mista forced himself to clear those thoughts from his head as he followed his capo.

Chapter Text

Mista tried not to think about the apprehension that was bubbling in his gut as he followed after Bucciarati.

He didn’t know where the capo had ended up during his fight with Castagna, but it had to have been far enough away for Mista himself to not be noticed. Fugo wouldn’t have sent Bucciarati somewhere that was within sight.

He really, really, really wanted to believe that his friend had had a change of heart, that the reason Mista was still alive was because Fugo decided to help them after all. That there wouldn’t be double the enemy waiting for them when they reached wherever Bucciarati was leading him to. That it wasn’t a trap.

“Calm yourself.” His emotions must’ve been showing on his face if Bucciarati was pointing them out, and Mista nodded with a sheepish look before squaring his features into practiced indifference. It didn’t do for a gangster to wear his heart on his sleeve, and Mista was a known bleeding heart.

They began skirting around the hill that most of the ruins were perched on, the one where they’d seen the shoe of a corpse not fifteen minutes earlier. That lives were decided in the span of a fight less than ten minutes still astounded Mista.

At first, he couldn’t see anything aside from the landscape, but when he began to scan the ground as well, Mista could make out a figure slumped in the blood-stained grass. Fugo.

The blond was on his back, staring up at the sky with one arm resting over his eyes and another pressed against his neck, the blood from the gaps in his fingers making it clear there was at least a semi-serious injury there. His ‘suit’ looked like ratfood by this point and the amount of blood spattering his clothes could not possibly be safe, nor sanitary. The blood seemed to congeal in one place in particular and as they drew near, Mista winced.

A deep gash ran across Fugo’s chest, the crimson liquid still oozing from the wound lazily with each unsteady heartbeat. Definitely lethal if left alone for too long.

Mista only recognized the bulletwound on his shoulder; so, there definitely had been a fight. He didn’t see Castagna anywhere though, and his dark eyes immediately narrowed, throwing out his arm to stop Bucciarati and yanking his gun from his pants.

“Stop.”

Fugo’s voice made him pause for a split second before he growled, “And why do I hafta listen to you, asshole?”

Fugo’s arm fell away to the side, his violet eyes staring calculatingly at Mista. With a carefully slow pace, he explained, “He’s dead,” and gestured to something off to the left of the blond, on Mista’s right.

Biting back a gag, Mista lowered his arm but kept his gun cocked as Bucciarati stepped around him to go to Fugo. Luckily the smell from the half-dissolved corpse hadn’t reached him yet; he’d only smelled the remnants of Haze’s virus once before and had promptly puked up his lunch. It was easy to miss, deflated as it was, the tatters of clothing and pointy white bones sticking out of what looked otherwise like a grotesque mix of moldy meat and spoiled chocolate milk. A single plum-colored eye sat untouched in what he assumed was liquified brain, preserved in a fractured skull with jagged edges that were yellowed with decay. It felt like it was staring at him.

“Fugo…” Bucciarati had stopped a few meters away from the blond, just outside of Purple Haze’s range, Mista realized. The capo’s face was expressionless, waiting for whatever Fugo said next to determine what they would do.

Mista knew that if it came to it, he could take Fugo out this time. If he really hadn’t changed, if Castagna wasn’t dead and this was a ploy, if he tried to attack, he wouldn’t hesitate this time. A second chance, sure, but a third? Even Mista wasn’t that dumb. It would take a second to fire, two seconds for the bullet reach Fugo, three to four if it was deflected for Pistols to change its course. Although Fugo didn’t look up for a battle, that didn’t mean he wouldn’t fight back. It would have to be decided in one shot.

“Bucciarati.” Fugo’s voice was void of emotion and his gaze reverted back to staring up at the sky as he murmured, “I still don’t understand. I’ve thought and thought but still haven’t reached an answer. I wasn’t wrong.”

Mista saw Bucciarati stiffen ever so slightly, his shoulders squaring just enough to be prepared for an attack if it came to that-

“But I wasn’t right either.”

-and just like that, the capo’s shoulders sagged in relief and that same, soft, motherly smile that he wore whenever one of them did or said something he adored. Mista didn’t really know what that meant, but it was enough for him to lower his gun.

“What even is right or wrong?” Fugo continued, not noticing the change in the two men, or if he did, he made no notion of seeing it. “I used to think I knew, but after meeting that man, I realize I have no idea. What he did was wrong, but to him, it was right. What you all did was wrong to me, but right to you. I suppose I was just a naive fool.”

“That you recognize the difference puts you far beyond your peers, Fugo,” Bucciarati replied, walking over to kneel by his former righthand’s side. His eyes softened as he reached out to rest a hand on the boy’s shoulder.

Fugo stared at Bucciarati for a few seconds before looking away, guilt clear on his face. “Bucciarati… I don’t understand. But I want to. I want to learn what it is I’m missing. Can I- can I have that chance?”

This time Mista was the one to answer, strolling up next to the capo with his arms crossed over his chest to glower down at the blond. “Dumbass,” he chided, “Didn’t I say it already?”

Fugo’s gaze flicked to him and for a second, a soft smile crossed his face before narrowing into a smirk as he said, “Your name isn’t Bucciarati, so who’s the dumbass now?”

“All you had to do was answer me, no snark needed.”

“The day I answer to you is the day I fucking kill myself.”

“Well you came awfully close to that just now, didn't ya?” Mista growled with a roll of his eyes as he scuffed his boot in the dirt to kick sand into the blond’s lesser wounds. A little grit wouldn’t kill him- hopefully.

“Stop, both of you,” Bucciarati scolded but the fondness in his eyes was unmistakable. Sticky Fingers appeared behind him, reaching out to Fugo to zip up the worst of the injuries, the deep gash in his stomach and the graze on the left side of his neck. Fugo winced, whole body jolting as a zipper appeared in his chest and a gasp of pain left his lips.

“We need to get you to Giorno,” Bucciarati stated firmly, eyeing the injury with heavy distaste. “I don’t think Sticky Fingers will be enough to keep it from infection or inflammation.”

“Nah, I’m fine,” Fugo grunted, but by the noise he made while sitting up, he was probably the furthest thing from it. “Just got skewered, is all.”

“Oh, is that it?” Mista growled sarcastically, shoving his gun back down the front of his pants as he grabbed Fugo’s arm. The blond flinched away at first, looking surprised and a little worried, though what he was worried about, Mista didn’t know, he wouldn’t hurt a fly (unless the fly was a shit one that deserved death), but he relaxed when Mista just pulled Fugo’s arm over his shoulders and wrapped his other hand around the smaller boy’s hip.

“Well, I did get shot at too.”

“And I got suckerpunched in the nose, I think we’re even,” Mista answered as they began to walk forwards, Bucciarati ahead of them leading the way to the car. Every so often, he’d look back over his shoulder, probably to make sure they hadn’t killed each other. “What if you broke it, man, what am I gonna do about my good looks?”

“Don’t worry, it’s quite the improvement,” Fugo chuckled. “I’m sure Giorno will agree. Now, if only we could do something about the rest of your face…”

“Hey!” Mista cried, but he was grinning by now and so was Fugo, even as they moved agonizingly slow towards the car that Bucciarati had insisted be parked outside the ruins. It would take them forever to reach it, but maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing.

Chapter Text

“Think they think we’re dead?” Mista couldn’t help but wonder aloud as Bucciarati kneeled next to the car, inspecting the damage with a keen eye.

The initial plan had been to meet at the airport to fly to Sardegnia no later than 20:00 that night. It would take four hours to get to Rusellae from San Giorgio Maggiore, which left them two hours to take care of whatever awaited Mista and Bucciarati there. If they didn’t show up, the others were to go to Sardegnia without them. Time was of the essence and they couldn’t waste a single second.

They had accounted for the mandatory pit stops Mista had them make on the way back to procure adequate sustenance. They had accounted for the bathroom breaks along the way because Mista just had to down three colas and then was goaded into swallowing a pack of Mentos by Fugo, all for ‘science.’ They had accounted for the awful traffic while trying to get out of Firenze during rush hour despite Fugo saying they should just ram the other cars because ‘who cares?’

They had not accounted for Bucciarati swerving to avoid a rabbit of all things and ramming their ride into a fence post along a road in the middle of nowhere.

It was almost 20:00 already; there was no possible way for them to get to Venezia in less than an hour, let alone before the plane was supposed to leave. They’d find another way to Sardegnia, but it meant forcing the others to leave without them.

“Dead or soon to be,” Fugo answered for Bucciarati, who was busy trying to see if he could simply just zip up the worst of the damage and call it good enough to get the last hundred kilometers needed to the airport.

The blond was reclining in the passenger seat in the back, arms crossed over his chest and an aloof expression on his refined features. If it wasn’t for the unnatural sickly pallor of his skin and the thin sheen of sweat across his brow, Mista would almost think he wasn’t hurt at all.

Every once in awhile, Purple Haze would appear next to Fugo. The first time it happened, Mista had freaked the fuck out and almost dived out the window of the car before Fugo had explained to him that it was for Haze’s benefit. That it was just worried about its user.

It was weird, hearing Fugo actually talk about Haze instead of pretending it didn’t exist, but Mista could understand having your Stand worry about you, so he’d settled back into the seat with his hand enclosed over the door handle- just precautionary measures, of course.

Haze was there now beside him, the soft growling and feral expression looking slightly less intimidating now that it wasn’t chasing after Mista, ready to pummel him into the ground or melt his face off or maybe both.

“Its out again,” Mista drawled. Fugo didn’t even spare him a glance, just turned to mutter something to Haze before the Stand dissipated out of sight. “Shouldn’t you be resting or some shit? You look like a rat that crawled out of the sewers and got run over a few times.”

Fugo fixed him with a glare that was still kind of intimidating despite looking like he was on the brink of keeling the fuck over. “Just because I have a hole in my intestines doesn’t mean I can’t gouge out yours.”

“Bold words,” Mista scoffed, “Coming from the guy whose Stand is the very definition of toxic masculinity.”

“Better than having six micropenises for a Stand. Think you’re compensating, Mista?”

“Listen here, you little-”

“Mista, could you come look at this for a second?”

Knowing full well that Bucciarati was really just separating them before they went at each other’s throats, Mista groaned and pulled himself up from where he’d been reclining against the car door. The capo was standing a couple meters from the front of the vehicle where a sizeable dent crushed its way into the fragmented metal.

“What’s up, Bucciarati?”

“I’m going to find a new method of transport for us. You’ll have to stay here with Fugo.” After a moment of hesitation, he added, “Don’t kill each other.”

“Can’t we just wait until another car passes by or something?”

“How many cars have you seen in the past twenty minutes we’ve been stuck here.” He had a very valid point and Mista sighed.

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll keep an eye on him for you,” he agreed, the meaning of Bucciarati’s words not lost on him. “But if he decides to run off and be all stubborn and insist on helping, I ain’t gonna do shit, okay? It ain’t worth getting my own ass melted.”

Bucciarati ignored him entirely and just smiled knowingly. Mista hated how he could do that so damn easily, like he knew everything about all of them while they knew nothing about him.

The capo set off down the road, probably towards the farmhouse they’d passed half a kilometer or so back along the way they’d come. Mista headed back to the car, finding that Fugo had gotten out of the seat and was stretching his arms over his head.

“Don’t pull something,” Mista teased, eyeing the zipper along his chest as it pulled awkwardly. The thing about Bucciarati’s zippers was that when they were used to zip up a human, it really just closed the gap. The capo had explained to all of them multiple times that he could only staunch any bleeding and that the zipper was honestly probably more dangerous than leaving the wound actually covered and cleaned. It was a last resort and not to be relied on.

They’d all relied on them heavily.

Fugo scowled, lowering his arms as a small trickle of blood oozed out from the end of the left side. “I’ll pull your fingernails off, how’s that?”

“Can’t, who’d cart you around then?”

“My own legs, asshole.”

“Yeah? The ones with the broken foot? Sure,” Mista scoffed dismissively. “Sit the fuck down, dumbass, Bucciarati’ll be pissed if you keep moving around like that.”

“Bucciarati isn’t here so who gives a shit,” Fugo answered, crossing his arms over his chest. “What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Besides, I wanted some fresh air. The car’s too damn stuffy.”

“All the windows are down and the doors are open.”

“It’s. Stuffy.”

“Whatever you say,” Mista said with a shrug. He could tell by the way Fugo’s face was all pinched and creased with a bajillion wrinkles that he was probably thinking about something. What was with everyone in this damn group and thinking too much? Look at he and Narancia, perfectly happy with their cumulative three brain cells- not the brightest, but smarter than Narancia, he thought smugly to himself.

“What if they hate me.”

Ah. There it was. Again.

“They don’t hate you, dipshit. I’ve told you that a million times already.”

“But you don’t know that,” Fugo insisted. “Just because they didn’t say anything about my refusing to go with you all doesn’t mean they’ll just take me back.”

“Bucciarati took you back,” Mista pointed out.

“Bucciarati also wanted me to come back from the very start.”

“And you think the other guys don’t?”

“I don’t know what they think,” Fugo groaned with a sigh, leaning back to rest against the side of the crimson metal lining of the car. “That’s the whole problem.”

“Thinking I know more than you do,” Mista bemoaned. “That’s your first mistake. And then thinking too much. That’s your second one. Grow a pair dude, they won’t care.”

“Better than not thinking at all,” the blond snapped. “You don’t get it, Mista.”

“Yeah you’re right, I don’t because I wasn’t a coward in the first damn place.” Fugo flinched at that and Mista almost felt a little bad. Almost. If it hadn’t been the thousandth time they’d had this damn conversation, though. “Look, who cares? You already know what Bucciarati and I think, Narancia’s obviously gonna be happy to see you, which just leaves Abbacchio and Giorno. Abbacchio’s gonna be a little bitch about it, but he’s always a little bitch anyway, and Giorno won’t care either way, I don’t think.”

“And you would know.”

“More than you would, bitch.”

“I’m just… I just don’t want him to hate me.” And the truth of the matter was out. It didn’t take a genius to know who Fugo was talking about, and thank God for that because Mista didn’t have enough brainspace to waste on shit like that.

“Maybe you should wait and talk to Narancia about that yourself,” Mista answered, trying to recall what Bucciarati had murmured to Fugo in hushed tones when they both thought Mista had been asleep. “He’s the only one who really knows what he thinks.”

“I never said I was talking about Narancia,” Fugo defended weakly, but really, he wasn’t fooling anyone.

“Uh-huh, sure,” Mista waved his hand lackadasically. “Just get back in the damn car, or at least sit the fuck down; you look like a damn ghost and Bucciarati’ll kill me if you keel over all ‘cuz you refused to take it easy.”

“It’d take more than this to kill me, Mista.”

“Oh really? Well, guess I’ll try harder next time.”

Fugo scowled but listened to him anyway, settling back into the carseat with a harrumph and a cross of his arms. It was one of the rare occasions he acted his age- although Mista thought he was being a little more overdramatic than necessary.

“You know, if I was actually trying to kill you, you’d be dead.”

“Is that so? Guess I should be thanking you then, oh kind benevolent Signor Fugo,” Mista bowed low with a shiteating grin that quickly broke into a grunt of pain as his ribs complained at being jostled awkwardly. Who cares, worth it.

“Don’t call me that,” Fugo grimaced with a dismissive wave of his hand. “That asshole liked to call me that. Sent shivers down my spine every damn time he did it. I would’ve ripped his tongue out if I could’ve.”

“Well you melted the bastard, does that count?”

“It’ll have to.” A smile broke across Fugo’s face, the one that always reminded Mista why Purple Haze was so damn scary in the first place. “Though I wish I could have kept him alive long enough to see his face when he realized he’d lost. It had already started to be eaten away at when he found out; such a disappointing end. He deserved to suffer longer.”

“You’re damn creepy, dude.”

“I try,” Fugo replied, taking it as a compliment and Mista certainly wasn’t gonna stop him. He shifted his gaze back to the road just in time to see a figure appear out of the tall wheat fields lining the otherwise empty road. Tensing for a second with his fingers dancing across his gun, he relaxed when he saw who it was.

“Bucciarati,” he called, jogging over to the capo who looked up with a smile. “Didja find anything to help us out? A car or something?”

“Even better,” Bucciarati answered. “I found a crop duster.”

Chapter Text

“Oh hell no.”

“Mista-”

“No, no fucking way I’m getting in that thing.”

The said-thing was a bright yellow one-seater plane that Bucciarati thought would be the perfect thing to take the three of them to Sardegna -

“We can use Sticky Finger’s zippers to fit you two in the cargo hold, it’ll be a perfect fit.”

“Bucciarati, crop dusters don’t have cargo holds.”

Bucciarati had frowned at Fugo’s words before his Stand suddenly appeared, punching a massive hole in the front of the plane, right in the cockpit where the pilot’s seat was, a mess of zippers and open void appearing from its hands. “Well now this one does.”

- but Mista was confident this would only end in disaster. After all, it had four fucking wings and four propellor blades! No fucking way was he getting in that thing!

“Who’s even gonna fly it?!” he practically shrieked.

“Well I can’t possibly expect Fugo to pilot a plane in his condition,” Bucciarati explained, ignoring Fugo’s indignant scowl, “and I’m hesitant to even trust you behind the wheel of a car. Therefore, that would be me.”

“You don’t know how to fly a damn plane!”

“It will be a learning experience,” Bucciarati nodded.

“Oh fuck no! Kill me right now because I will never willing get in that tetraphilic abomination of a yellow flying death trap alive ever!”

“Impressive vocabulary, I would think you wouldn’t know what half those words mean,” Fugo butted in. “But tetraphilic abomination death trap… I actually like that. What do you think, Bucciarati?”

“It’s a nice name,” the capo agreed, stroking his chin thoughtfully. “T.A.D for short.”

“Stop nicknaming it; you’ll get attached!” Mista protested. “Remember that cat I told you guys about?! Well that kid in my neighborhood not only lost his eye, but he fucking died from rabies! It’ll kill us all!”

“Okay, now you’ve got to be making this up,” Fugo groaned as he rolled his eyes. “I’d always kinda thought so, but now you’ve proven it for me, thanks Mista. And anyways, T.A.D would never hurt anyone.”

“Yeah, well T.A.D can go suck my dick because I’m not riding that fucking thing!”

“Mista,” Bucciarati said, placing his hand on the gunman’s shoulder. “I understand that you’re worried for us-”

“We should be worried about him, he’ll lose that last brain cell he has before too long.”

“-that you’re worried. For. Us.” As Bucciarati shot the blond a stern glare that only true mothers can pull off, Fugo frowned but didn’t say anything. “But what about the others? We have much more reason to be concerned for them, as we’ve defeated the foe sent after us and we aren’t the ones who have Trish. Who do you think the Boss would choose to pursue; the three of us, whom he likely doesn’t even know the outcome of their fight yet, or the group that is protecting Trish, the person he wanted to kill in the first place?”

“...Trish?”

“Exactly.” Bucciarati’s smile was almost condescending in how genuine it was. “So that means the Boss will go after Trish, Abbacchio, Narancia, and Giorno. Therefore, we need to get to them as quickly as possible, in order to bolster at least our own numbers.”

“They’ve probably already been attacked,” Fugo added. “I don’t know any details, but I know that the Boss was sending someone else to pursue you all.”

“Wait, that was probably those two shark guys, right? The ones Narancia took out?”

Fugo frowned in confusion. “Two? The man I knew of worked alone. Supposedly, he was some kind of failsafe.”

“Shit.”

“Do you see now why borrowing T.AD. is the best option?”

“God, please don’t call it that, Bucciarati,” Mista groaned. “Look, I get it, okay? We don’t really got a choice, huh…”

Bucciarati nodded as he turned to look back at the crop duster before them. It would take some fanangling but Mista was confident that his capo could figure out the whole zipper situation to fit all three of them. He was more concerned about the actually-flying-it part. He’d trust Bucciarati with his life, yeah, but a plane? With four wings? That was way different.

Before he could say anything more about it, there was a loud shout behind them and all three men spun around to see a short, rotund man thundering towards them through the wheat field from the direction of the farmhouse.

“Hey! You’re on private property!” the man yelled angrily, shaking his fist at them. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”

“Think he’s actually the owner?” Fugo muttered under his breath, his violet eyes narrowed and cold. Obviously, he wanted to fight first, ask questions never. However, Bucciarati stuck out his arm before the blond could pull out his Stand and attack.

“Signor Panciera!” Ignoring the way Mista and Fugo stared at their capo in blank confusion, he continued, “How good of you to come out and see us off.”

“Oh! Bucciarati! I didn’t notice it was you, mi caruccio!” The older man broke into a grin as he clasped his hands together jovially. “You look quite different from the back.”

“My apologies for not warning you,” Bucciarati continued, completely unfazed by the snickering that was quickly erupting behind him at the nickname. “Time is of the essence, as I’m sure you remember. These are my two brothers I told you about, Signor Panciera.”

Brothers? What the fuck were they talking about? Mista was about to open his mouth and say something when he felt a sharp jab in his side and bit back a whine as he swivelled to glower at Fugo. The blond shook his head so slightly it almost looked like he didn’t move at all but Mista got the message loud and clear: shut the fuck up and stay that way.

“You don’t look much alike,” the man mused as he scratched his stubbly chin. “Then again, I don’t know much about dyes and whatnot. You kids are all about new fads these days, right?”

“We get that often. I’d like to offer my thanks once again for the use of your crop duster.”

“Oh nonsense, I was getting a new one in a few weeks anyways! Your devotion to your brothers is very admirable, caruccio, I wish more kids these days were like you.”

“Thank you, Signor.” Bucciarati stuck out his hand and the old man took it, giving him what looked like such a firm handshake that it shook his whole body.

“Of course, of course!” He turned to look at Fugo and Mista for a quick second before settling his gaze on Mista. A pitying smile crossed his face as he reached out to grab the gunman’s hand and squeeze it. “Best of luck with that disease of yours, my boy. I’ll pray for you.”

“Uh…” Over the older man’s shoulder, Mista saw Bucciarati giving him a look so sharp it could decapitate him and he quickly grinned back at the random guy. “Thanks. I, uh, appreciate it?”

The man smiled back and slapped Mista’s shoulder in a way that was probably meant to be sympathetic but he didn’t really pull his slap at all and Mista stumbled a few steps forward under the blow. He scowled as he heard Fugo snickering but held his tongue.

“This baby here should get all three of you to Sicilia no problem!” he said as he patted the crop duster lovingly. “Although I’m not quite sure how you’ll all fit…”

“Ah, no need to worry, we’ll figure it out Signor,” Bucciarati cut in as he ushered Mista and Fugo towards the crop duster. “No need to see us off, you have your cows to get back to, if I remember correctly?”

“Ah, right, right, they won’t milk themselves!” The old man laughed annoyingly loudly as he turned to head back towards the barn. “Be safe, all three of you!”

“We shall pay you back for the plane once we’ve returned,” Bucciarati added, to which the old man just waved his hand in dismissal as he pushed his way back through the wheatfields.

Once he was out of earshot, Mista swivelled to Bucciarati to stare incredulously as he hissed, “What the fuck was all that?!”

“I do believe I said we were simply borrowing it,” Bucciarati answered as he moved back towards the crop duster, Sticky Fingers appearing at his side as reopened and began to further expand the hole he’d created earlier to fit them all. “On my way to inspect the farm, I noticed the owner was outside by the farmhouse, so I went over to discuss the possibility of using his crop duster.”

“You’re the only one who could convince a completely random stranger to let you take what is possibly the most expensive piece of equipment for his livelihood that he has,” Fugo scoffed in disbelief as he shook his head.

“Regardless, he agreed to let us take the crop duster once I’d told him of the situation.”

“Yeah, speaking of that, the fuck ‘illness’ do I have?!”

“Mental retardation?” Fugo suggested innocently.

“Keep flapping those lips and I’ll break your other fucking foot,” Mista growled as he swung around to thrust a finger into the blond’s face. “Don’t you fucking think I won’t.”

“Enough, you two. I simply told him you have a grave, hereditary illness that cannot be cured and that we are on our way to Sicilia to visit our parents’ graves one last time before it claims you as well.”

“Geez, morbid much?” Fugo said as Mista tried to figure what the fuck the word ‘hereditary’ meant. Clearly his confusion was evident, since Fugo snorted as he explained, “He said you’re gonna die from something our ‘parents’ had.”

“My parents didn’t have no diseases!” Mista protested. “They’re both still alive- I think?”

“God, you’re an idiot. It’s a hypothetical situation. It doesn’t mean any of it’s true.”

“Better to be an idiot than a coward.”

“Fuck it, you don’t need a disease, I’ll fucking kill you myself-”

“Enough!” Bucciarati’s stern command had both of them freezing in place, expressions of guilt forming as if they were children being scolded by their mother. “Must you two always be like this? Now get in the damn plane before I’m forced to make you.”

“Sure, mom,” Mista growled under his breath, smirking at Fugo’s snort of laughter next to him as they skulked over to the crop duster to see where Bucciarati was pointing.

“You two will both be on the sides,” the capo explained as he gestured to the expansive space that now surrounded the cockpit of the crop duster. “Fugo, you get on the right. Mista, you’re on my left.”

The two nodded, Mista hoisting himself into the plane with relative ease despite his broken shoulder. If there was anything he was good at, it was pain tolerance. Holding his good hand out to Fugo, the blond scowled but took it anyway as Mista helped him into the crop duster, ignoring the soft grunts of exertion and the thin sheen of sweat that broke out across his forehead. Fugo collapsed into the space Bucciarati had prepared for him looking pale and green around the gills and Mista was reminded of the other reason why they needed to get back to the others as quickly as possible.

Bucciarati was the last one in the crop duster and he settled into the pilot’s seat as he surveyed the controls. “It’s not as bad as I thought,” he murmured half to himself as he pressed a button and started flicking some switches. Mista stopped paying attention when the plane lurched forward suddenly, opting to focus on the void in front of him rather than their possible impending fiery death.

“I’m just gonna rest my eyes,” he said as he squeezed them shut, and for once Fugo didn’t have anything to say about that.

Chapter Text

Mandorla Panciera stood next to the faded red barn, watching the crop duster take off shakily into the sky and eventually even out as it sped off through the air. A twisted grin spread across his face as he scratched his goatee.

“And I thought that traitor Bucciarati was supposed to be smart,” he crowed as he stalked back into the barn, feet splashing in a puddle of blood that was left near the inside of the doorway. A few meters above him, a corpse was strung up from a hook hanging in the rafters, limbs half-decayed and eaten away as blood and liquified flesh and muscle dripped down onto the slaughtered cows that littered the structure.

“They didn’t even pull out their Stands to check if I could see them,” he said to himself as he pulled out his flip phone to begin scrolling through his contacts to find the right one. “Not that I, the wisest man in Passione, wasn’t prepared for that. The Boss could only entrust this mission to me, after all; I have splendid acting skills. Isn’t that right?”

He looked up at the face of the farmer hanging above him, a calm expression on his lifeless body, as if he hadn’t even noticed when he died. “I’m just that good,” Mandorla agreed with himself with a firm nod.

“They don’t stand a chance against my automatic Stand, Fake Plastic Trees. It will chase them until they’re all dead.”


“Oh Mista, how come I never noticed how handsome you were before?”

Giorno’s soft, lilting voice whispered in Mista’s ear sent shivers down the gunman’s spine. He grinned as he gripped Giorno’s slim waist tighter, bending to nuzzle his head into the blond’s nape as he said, “Naw, it’s no big deal. You’re way hotter.”

“Nonsense,” the blond replied, pulling back to look into Mista’s eyes and wow, were Giorno’s eyes super gorgeous. They looked like fucking emeralds or some shit and they seemed to glisten seductively, if that was even possible. “You remind me of an Adonis. Have you heard of him, from Greek mythology? My own Adonis…”

“Adonis, huh? Now that don’t sound too bad.”

Giorno smiled, the corners of his lips perking up and the edges of his green, green eyes crinkling as they flitted down to eye Mista’s lips. The blond moved closer, grinding against Mista’s hips as he edged across his lap. Mista stifled a groan as Giorno’s hands moved to lace up underneath his hat, digging into his hair as they pulled his head up to meet Giorno’s.

Aw yeah, this was it, Mista didn’t think anything in the world could be better than this right about now, and damn, if Giorno didn’t do something soon, he’d have to take matters into his own hands as the blond’s breath against his neck elicited an enticed moan.

Mista put a hand on the back of Giorno’s head, pulling the blond those last few centimeters and-

“Mista, wake up!”

The gunman’s eyes flew open as a sleepy snort escaped the back of his throat, jolting up in the awkward, cramped seat to look around frantically.

“Was the yelling truly necessary, Fugo?”

That was Bucciarati’s voice and Mista blinked blearily at the other two men in the tiny space with him, finally remembering what was going on. Did he doze off? He must’ve, but damn, that dream was-

A dream.

Fuck.

“Fugo, dammit, what the fuck?!” he yelled angrily, glaring daggers at the younger boy. “Why the fuck did you wake me up, Giorno almost-!” He caught himself before he could say anymore, feeling his cheeks heat up as he caught Fugo’s leering gaze.

“Oh? Giorno almost what now?” He sounded way too fucking pleased with himself and damn, if he could do it without killing them all, Mista would fucking shoot him right then and there.

“Nothing,” he growled, crossing his arms over his chest angrily with a huff. He also casually crossed one leg over the other, willing the likely conspicuous evidence of what he had been dreaming about to go down and disappear already, dammit.

“My apologies, Mista, but we’re nearly to Sardegnia,” Bucciarati explained. “I wanted you to be awake for the landing.”

“Damn, it’s already been that long?”

“Only about two hours, but it’s not a very long flight. Seeing as we’ve taken a private aircraft, the usual flight is much shorter since there are no other stops.”

Mista nodded, straightening up enough to try to peer through the window without getting in Bucciarati’s way too much. They were still over the ocean, but he thought he could see land way far off in front of them if he squinted. Something else caught his eye though, and as he looked back to see what it was, he nearly bolted out of his seat.

“What the fuck?!” he shrieked in terrified confusion.

“I was wondering when he’d notice it,” Fugo drawled, and Mista swivelled to stare in shock.

“Why the fuck are you two so damn calm?! There’s some weird kind of ooze thing on the goddamn wings and you two are just fine?!”

There, on the wings of the crop duster, was what looked like a layer of thick green ooze that covered a large part of the left wingspan. It was more concentrated in some places, and in others, there were little pointy tips, sort of like mountaintops, that looked like they were stretching up to the upper half of the wing. It wasn’t moving, though, and when he looked closer, he saw that in some places, it looked like it was frozen solid.

“It’s a Stand,” Fugo said, sounding way too bored for the words he was saying. “I suppose it’s from the ‘farmer’ who gave us the plane.” He used air quotes around the word, and Bucciarati laughed softly.

“Indeed,” the capo agreed. “I had suspected as much when he introduced himself to me as Panciera. The name itself sounded quite familiar. In fact, there’s a man in Passione who supposedly has close connections to the Boss with the same last name.”

“What?!” Mista cried in shock. “Why take the damn plane, then?!”

“You see, the man in Passion has quite the reputation,” Bucciarati continued, completely unfazed by Mista’s ever-growing panic. “His Stand is powerful and automatic. It would be nearly impossible to defeat, if used properly. However, Panciera himself is rumored to be quite impressive as well.”

“Impressively stupid,” Fugo interjected.

“Yes, well, it just goes to show what kind of position money can buy,” Bucciarati smirked to himself.

“Will one of you please tell me what the fuck you mean?” Mista was starting to get pissed with how they were just ignoring him.

“That’s Mandorla Panciera’s Stand,” Fugo said. “Or like half of it at this point. Probably less. Panciera bought his position in Passione. It was sheer luck that he managed to get a Stand from Polpo, and even worse luck that it was a good one. For him. To put it simply, he’s a sadistic idiot who has no clue how to use a Stand or how to gauge its weakness. He defeated himself when he sent it into the air after us.”

“Huh? Wait, how? How the hell did I sleep through this?”

“We didn’t see any point in waking you,” Bucciarati answered. “There was no fighting necessary on our part.”


“He’s snoring, Bucciarati. You sure I can’t smack him?”

“Just let him sleep, Fugo. I’m sure you understand that today has been stressful.” Bucciarati’s eyes softened as he added, “For all of us.”

Fugo rolled his eyes but didn’t say anything, wincing at the way his stomach pulled painfully when he crossed his arms. The dull throb in his chest hadn’t died down for awhile now and was gradually getting worse with each passing hour. The sooner they got to Giorno, the better- assuming the blond would fix him.

That had been a thought Fugo had kept to himself. The idea that perhaps their healer wouldn’t feel quite so willing to assist this time. Not that Fugo would blame him. But he didn’t see the point in voicing his fears to Mista and Bucciarati. They wouldn’t get it.

Swallowing the lump in his throat, he rested his head on his chin and stared at the window, trying to ignore the pain that radiated through his entire body.

Thankfully, there hadn’t been any need to try to ignore it when the sight of the wings of the plane caught his attention.

They hadn’t been paying much attention, as the wings were situated behind them and Bucciarati had to keep focused on the path ahead of them. But now that Fugo was looking, he could see what appeared to be a strange green ooze that was vaguely human-shaped crawling across the wings.

“Bucciarati!” he yelled frantically, jolting upright as Haze appeared beside him.

“Fugo?! What’s going on?!” Bucciarati’s voice held a heavily-veiled message within it, but Fugo heard it all the same and winced internally.

“Outside, on the wings! An enemy Stand!” He pretended like it didn’t hurt that Bucciarati initially suspected it to be his own treachery and instead focused on the enemy at hand.

“What?!”

“Keep flying! I’ll deal with it!”

Fugo did not know how he would deal with this.

Could he send Purple Haze outside the cockpit? Would it be left behind or would it stay right next to him when they were going at this speed? Would the high altitude have an effect on his Stand, and in turn have an effect on him? Was it truly safe to send Haze out there? But what other choice did they have; would Sex Pistols be a better choice? Would the virus have any effect against slime? Or would the parasites be-

There was a loud cracking noise and Fugo knew he didn’t have any more time to think about it.

He mentally prepared himself to thrust Purple Haze outside into the freezing air, to fight the Stand that was- was not moving?

Wait, no, Fugo could’ve sworn it was moving earlier. It definitely had been; his eyes hadn’t been wrong but now it was just… sitting there? Menacingly? Staring at them even though it didn’t have a face? And why was its color different than before?

There was another cracking noise and Fugo froze as he suddenly realized what was going on.

He couldn’t help but laugh as a splintering noise echoed around the cabin.

“Fugo, what’s going on?!” Bucciarati sounded frantic, but Fugo could barely get himself together as he broke down into a fit of guffaws. Fuck, laughing hurt his wounds.

“N-Nothing,” he gasped out between laughs. “The Stand, its- its already lost.”

“What? How?!”

“The weather,” Fugo answered, as ridiculous as it was. Another crack and a large chunk of the Stand slid off the wing off the plane, spiralling downwards out of sight towards the ocean. “Or the temperature, I should say. I don’t know what its powers are, but it doesn’t matter. I doubt you can see for yourself, as you're flying, but the Stand is made of what appears to be a viscous slime. Whoever sent it after us is a fool.”

“I’m afraid I’m not following.”

“It froze, Bucciarati. The ooze it's made of fully hardened, rendering movement impossible for it. Those cracking noises are pieces of it breaking off and falling into the ocean. It defeated itself by following us into extremely cold air.”


“So that’s not even the Stand?” Mista echoed in confusion as he eyed the remains of the green goop that was still frozen to the wings of the crop duster. “That’s just whatever the fuck is left of it?”

“Yup,” Fugo said, settling back into his seat with a wave of his hand. “All thanks to that Panceria guy’s lack of a brain. What kind of dumbass doesn’t bother to know the limits of his own Stand? It’s pathetic.”

“But it’s good luck for us,” Bucciarati added. “Fighting an automatic Stand while stuck in an airplane over the middle of the ocean… I can only imagine how gruelling that fight could potentially be.”

“Yeah, we got a nice, relaxing trip ‘cuz of his stupidity,” Fugo agreed. “Thank God, I don’t know about you two, but I could definitely do with this break.”

“I still think you two shoulda woke me up,” Mista grumbled. Sure, he may’ve been sleeping, but he didn’t like missing out on any of the action. Especially when it turned into some kind of inside joke that he didn’t know about.

“But then you couldn’t have dreamed of Giorno,” Fugo said innocently. “Although I’m not sure I want to know what you were making him do inside that twisted head of yours.”

“Y’know, I don’t care that we’re in the middle of the fucking sky, I will shoot you Fugo, I swear to God I’ll do it.”

Bucciarati groaned sufferingly but Mista noticed that the capo was smiling as he and Fugo continued to bicker. Guess the team mom couldn’t bring himself to break up his squabbling kids’ fights every time.

And honestly? Mista was fine with that.


Fake Plastic Trees: defeated.
Mandoral Panciera: idiotically unaware.

Chapter Text

When Giorno had watched Mista follow Bucciarati to the car they would be taking South to Rusellae, he’d had far too many unnecessary thoughts swirling through his mind. He’d pushed them down without a second thought, far too used to doing such things in the past. Unnecessary things were pointless and pointless things were useless and he hated useless things.

Yet somehow there was a small part of him that wondered whether those feelings were truly useless or not.

He didn’t allow himself to dwell on it, far too consumed with following the current plan and trying to discuss inconspicuous routes to the airport with Abbacchio without antagonizing the man too much and ignoring Narancia’s purposeful pout at being left behind and not thinking about how he has no idea how to deal with girls and now there was even less of a buffer between him and Trish than there was before.

They’d made it there somehow, and he and Abbacchio had only argued a total of four times. Giorno considered that progress and enjoyed the snippets of Mista floating hastily through his brain that involved the gunsman yelling about having to argue a fifth time because four was just really no damn good at all.

And then they’d waited there, hiding out behind one of the hangars that they most certainly should not have been able to get so close to, but they were the mafia and they had their ways and they discreet enough, since both Abbacchio and Giorno had actually agreed on leaving Naranacia in the turtle with Trish. Giorno had secretly taken joy in making the man’s lip curl at even the thought of agreeing with him.

But then they’d kept waiting as lunchtime passed with meager sandwiches barely eaten.

And waiting as the sun crept to its peak and began to fall below the horizon.

And 20:00 came and went and there was no sign of neither Mista nor Bucciarati. Giorno didn’t have to say anything; he could feel it. He could feel the anxiety, the worry, the fear spilling off Abbacchio in roiling waves as tumultuous as he was sure the man’s thoughts were.

He was impressed when the taller man squared his jaw, turned to him and said, “Get in the turtle. Tell them we’re going.”

Giorno wanted to argue. They couldn't wait any longer, couldn’t put the plan at risk. The knots in his stomach had twisted tighter as his watch ticked the seconds past 20:00 and bile had gurgled into the back of his throat, forcing him to swallow it down and ignore the impending knowledge of what not waiting any longer meant. He wanted to stay and wait until they came, even if they never did, and he knew Abbacchio did too.

Giorno disappeared into the turtle.


Narancia wasn’t speaking to either of them.

He’d been completely silent when Giorno had broken the news, a stiff nod the only response he got. He suspected that Bucciarati must’ve said something to the boy for him to not be protesting the development at all. Instead, Narancia had held his tongue and continued to stare off into space as he listened to his CD.

Giorno noticed that when the CD ran its course and the music ceased playing, Narancia didn’t bat an eye.

It was dark now, early in the morning the next day as Giorno sat stiffly at the table of the safehouse Abbacchio had ushered them all into less than an hour ago.

Rust-colored stains blemished his normally pristine suit halfway down his forearms, grim reminders of the Stand they’d encountered on the flight. If Trish hadn’t had a Stand with her… all of them would be dead. Once again, Giorno had been unable to do a thing.

They’d all come out of the fight worse for the wear, despite their physical wounds being long healed now. The knowledge that Bucciarati and Mista would not be coming back was… it was unbearable. It affected them, all of them, even Trish, who Giorno suspected had been starting to look up to Bucciarati as an older brother. Possibly even a father- one who would not fail her.

If only Giorno hadn’t failed him.

Dull twinges lit up his palms as he dug his fingernails in tighter. The tense silence that had settled over all of them was uncomfortable, just waiting for someone to shatter it.

Ultimately, it was Trish who did so. “Which room can I use?”

Abbacchio didn’t even look at her as he said, “Who gives a shit? Pick one.”

She looked at him for a few seconds but when it was clear that he wasn’t going to give any more clarification, she just sighed quietly and left the room, the click of her heels on the wooden floor turning to thumps as she ascended the stairs. When the sound of a door falling closed echoed down the hall, Giorno turned to him.

“You could have been a bit kinder.” It was just meant to be a suggestion but Giorno should’ve known Abbacchio wouldn’t take it as such.

“That so?” the older man snarled at him, lip curling in disgust. “And you think you’re the one to tell me so, hah?! Like you’re the new boss or some shit?! How dare you fucking order me around!”

“It was only a-”

“Shut the fuck up!” Abbacchio glared daggers at Giorno, and the blond prepared himself to have to deal with this now. He should’ve just kept his mouth shut. “I’m tired of you acting like you’re some kind of God-sent savior, Giovanna! Ever since you came along, shit’s been flying around left and right and I have no doubt that you’re the problem here! Everything’s gone wrong since you joined us and you twisted Bruno around your damn finger!”

“He isn’t-”

“I told you to shut up!”

Giorno flinched when Abbacchio slammed his hands down on the wooden table separating them, looking half like he was going to bolt across it and deck him. Abbacchio was much bigger than him; that would not be ideal.

“Listen here, and listen good, you fucking brat,” Abbacchio hissed, his voice dangerously low as he pointed a finger at Giorno. “If I figure out you’ve had any fucking part in this shitshow, I will not hesitate to fucking maim you where you stand. I don’t trust you and I’m never going to trust you, and like it or not, I’m in charge now, so you’d better keep your damn mouth shut the rest of the time we’re here or I swear to God, I’ll-”

“Just stop it!”

Both Giorno and Abbacchio froze at the interruption, their heads swivelling to stare at Narancia in shock, who at some point had stopped listening to his music and tuning out the world to apparently listen to them.

The boy was staring at both of them with wide, purple eyes that watered at the edges, his bottom lip quivering as he scowled angrily. This was probably the most upset Giorno had seen Narancia, not including his random fits of violence.

“Stop fighting!” he repeated frustratedly, arms gesturing wildly. “Giorno is in the gang now and that means he’s our friend so stop yelling at him, Abbacchio! And Giorno, stop trying to a-anti- an-”

“Antagonize?”

“Yeah, that! Stop doing that!”

Giorno decided not to mention that he was merely trying to point out a flaw of Abbacchio’s and then was only attempting to defend himself.

“This has nothing to do with you, Nara, so-”

“But it does though!” Abbacchio looked too surprised that Narancia had interrupted him to get angry. “We’re- we’re what’s left! We can’t fight! If Bucciarati was here, he’d… he’d do something to make you stop but I dunno what to do, so I gotta just tell you to cut it out!”

“Narancia, that might not be-”

“I’m not an idiot, Giorno. You think they’re both dead, right? That’s why you said we were leaving? I can take a hint, y’know. And… and they probably are.” His voice broke on the last word, tears welling in his big, purple eyes. “B-But we can’t just f-fight! We gotta protect Trish b-because that’s what Bucciarati would want, a-and… and…”

Abbacchio pulled back from the table and moved around it, coming to rest a hand on Narancia’s shoulder as it shook from his muffled sobs. “Sorry, kid,” he murmured, more gently than Giorno ever would’ve imagined he could. “We took it too far.”

He shot Giorno a look and the blond quickly nodded his head in agreement. “Yes, we shouldn’t have started yelling. My apologies, Narancia. I understand your distress.”

“Like you do,” Abbacchio scoffed under his breath, but froze when Giorno’s green gaze switched to meet his own.

“Your right to grieve is the same as mine. Just because you have been with them longer…” he trailed off, not wanting to say anything else that would admit his own weakness.

Giorno had waited by the door of the plane for as long as possible, eyes fixed on the edge of the tarmac where he kept hoping to catch a glimpse of the pair running to call them to wait. Bucciarati, with his strong blue eyes and slightly frazzled but warm smile as he explained why they’d gotten held up. And Mista… How Mista’s dark eyes would light up when he saw that Giorno had been waiting for them, how his face would split in two with a grin that looked happier than anything Giorno had ever seen before, how he’d wave and yell and when he got to Giorno, swing the blond up into the air, laughing, and Giorno would start laughing too, because really, how could he not?

Giorno started when he felt a hand on his arm and he snapped out of his daydream as his eyes focused on Narancia standing in front of him, eyebrows furrowed upwards and a wobbling bottom lip. Seconds later, he was pulled into a tight hug, the shorter boy burying his head under Giorno’s neck as he gripped the blond’s suit tightly.

After a few moments, Giorno returned the gesture, resting his chin atop Narancia’s head in a moment of boldness. He wasn’t used to hugs and felt sort of out of place, but he also felt it was the least he could do. And it felt… it felt warm. He could feel the brunette’s soft sobs against his skin and it sent a sharp twinge in his chest. Giorno hadn’t realized when Narancia had wormed his way into his heart, but the affection for the boy who seemed like how a brother would be was there. Feeling eyes on him, Giorno’s eyes flicked to the side to see Abbacchio watching them both.

The white-haired man’s expression was unreadable as they stared at each other and Giorno half expected him to get angry again and start yelling at him to get away from Narancia, but what happened instead was unexpected.

Abbacchio sighed, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly as he glanced away. “I’m sorry,” he muttered awkwardly. “I get it, you’re upset too. So stop looking like that, okay?”

Giorno was confused until he felt Narancia’s shoulders shake again, this time in laughter, and the brunette leaned up just enough to whisper, “He acts all tough but he’s a softie. He hates it when we cry.”

Giorno didn’t know why Narancia had said ‘we’ but then he felt wetness against his left cheek and realized that he’d started crying too at some point.

Giorno was not a messy crier. He was not a loud crier either. In fact, he showed such little emotion on his face when he cried that it had caused him to nearly stop crying altogether. After all, when the kids at school would call him a freak and the teachers would call him a liar and his mother would shake her head and say, “Not right now,” and walk away without a second glance, well… he’d learned that crying only made things worse.

It was weak and useless and he hated himself for it, but… but if Narancia, who he’d seen plenty of strength from, could cry too… maybe it wasn’t as weak as he’d thought.

Chapter Text

Disposing of the plane had involved far too much work in Mista’s opinion; why couldn’t they just blow it up? But nooooo, they just had to land it out in the damn ocean to be sure it sank and got rid of all the evidence of the crop duster, which meant there had been a lot of scrambling to get out of the damn thing before they drowned, and then they had to swim to shore and now even Mista thought he smelled. Smelled salty and gross, felt all sticky, ruined his cashmere sweater, boots were still waterlogged, but hey, it could be worse he supposed. He could be Fugo.

To put it simply, life threatening stab wounds and sea water and swimming for twenty minutes straight did not mix. At all. Fugo had practically had to be dragged ashore by Bucciarati and Mista after barely making it halfway there. Poor guy looked like a wet rat - an albino one that was gonna die of hypothermia any second. Mista was pretty sure that no amount of nerves would cause your whole body to shiver and shake like that but no way was he gonna say anything about it.

Bucciarati had though, of course. Even came back with a jacket for Fugo when he arrived with the most recent in the ever-increasing list of stolen cars they were accumulating, along with some groceries that Mista had no idea how he’d gotten the money for. The blond had scowled but accepted the fluffy coat anyway and Mista had caught him looking pleased with it when he thought their backs were turned.

Aside from that, Fugo didn’t want help. And Mista could respect that. After everything that had happened in the past day and a half, it made sense that Fugo would wanna start reestablishing himself, not come across as weak. Mista didn’t think it mattered much, personally, Fugo was still a kid after all. But he also understood the foolish pride kids had too, so.

Bucciarati had explained that there was a safehouse on Sardegnia, along the western coast and half-obscured by forest. He’d said that the drive there wouldn’t take too long, around two hours at most, and that they could try to rest while he drove them. Mista had offered to drive but Bucciarati had shot him a look and, well, you couldn’t really talk back to that.

“How do you know they’ll be there?” Mista had asked as they piled into the car.

Bucciarati had spared him a brief glance before starting up the engine, and just when Mista was about to decide that he wasn’t gonna answer, Bucciarati had spoken.

“I just know,” he’d replied. “Almost a year and a half ago, I… well, Abbacchio and I had been talking and we… we got a small cottage. On the shoreline of Sardegnia. It was silly, I know, but it was a special occasion and… it’s ours. Our house.”

What was he supposed to say to that? Nothing, Mista figured, was the right answer, so he’d just nodded and turned to look out the window. There was a lot to unpack in those few sentences and Mista didn’t think Bucciarati would appreciate him trying to do it aloud.

But that they’d gotten a house together… that confirmed it for Mista. That Bucciarati wanted out, no matter how much he denied it. A glance behind them at Fugo’s expression told him that he was thinking the same thing. Not that it mattered; the real issue was how they could help.

And how they’d all have to stay alive long enough to be able to.


Mista could barely restrain himself from tapping noisily against the window pane of the passenger seat after being snapped at by Fugo several times already. He couldn’t help it, he was anxious. They were nearly there and he desperately wanted to see the others and reassure them that they were all still alive and maybe reassure Giorno of some other things too- perfectly normal, PG things he told himself.

“We’re here,” Bucciarati murmured, some of his first words since he’d explained why they were going there in the first place.

Mista twisted out the window to see the car fast approaching a small two-story cottage covered in worn, white paint with ivy creeping up the sides. At least, he thought it was ivy. It was hard to tell when it was so dark outside. It was isolated, far away from the closest town they’d passed through half an hour ago, and with the tall trees on the edge of the property and the sheer cliff face to the other side, Mista could see how it would be a safe place to go. No one could approach undetected.

And the soft roar of an engine caught his attention and he looked up to see that far above them, a small plane was circling the house. Aerosmith.

Fugo must’ve seen it too because as soon as the car stopped, he was desperately yanking on the door handle, trying to pry it open with brute force even though the lock wouldn’t pop until he stopped pulling.

Mista jumped out of the car and ran around to Fugo’s side, manually unlocking it through the window before the blond pulled the damn handle off its hinges. Stumbling out of the side, Fugo grasped at his arm to steady himself as he looked towards the house with wide, seeking eyes.

A figure moved in the darkness, thrusting open the front door and charging onto the patio, the small radar over his right eye displaying three blips on the screen. Aerosmith began to circle around back towards them and-

“Narancia!”

That was Bucciarati’s voice. Mista hadn’t even noticed he’d gotten out of the car, too busy helping Fugo move forwards. They were close enough to see Narancia stiffen but his expression was hidden in the dark shadows of the porch.

There was a happy cry, the plane above them disappeared, and the sound of footsteps echoed on the wooden steps of the porch as Narancia bolted down them towards where they’d parked the car about fifty meters away.

Under the light of the moon, Mista could see clearly enough to see Narancia’s mouth fall open in shock as he halted halfway to them, finally recognizing who it was that Mista was holding up. ‘Time to let go,’ he thought to himself as Fugo tightened his grip on Mista’s arm before letting go altogether. He stepped back, watching as the pair stared each other down.

Fugo made the first move, much to Mista’s surprise. The blond took a tentative step forward, watching Narancia’s features carefully as he swallowed thickly and said, “Narancia…”

That was all the brunette needed apparently, because one second he was standing there, and the next he was bolting forward faster than Mista had even seen him move, practically throwing himself at Fugo as he tackled him to the ground.

“Fugo!” Narancia sounded so damn happy but the choking sounds he made as he babbled the blond’s name over and over again wasn’t lost on Mista. Fugo, to his credit, didn’t so much as blink, just lay there with Narancia clinging to him like a puppy that hadn’t seen their owner in a week.

Eventually, it dissolved into hiccupping sobs that pretty quickly had Fugo tearing up as well and Mista figured he should probably leave them to it and turned around to go find Bucciarati.

The capo was watching the pair from a further distance away, still waiting around the car under the guise of inspecting it for any damage or trackers. “Can’t interrupt their moment, huh?” Mista said jovially as he strolled back to Bucciarati. The capo straightened up and smiled.

“Indeed. I admit, I was a bit concerned about how Fugo would be welcomed back but…” he trailed off as he looked to where Fugo and Narancia had sat up now, both still hugging each other tightly. “I think those concerns may have been unfounded.”

Chapter Text

When Narancia recognized him, Fugo couldn’t breathe. For a second, he wanted to turn around and flee, to run far away from here and not confront any of the people he’d as good as left behind. But he couldn’t. Not now.

With a final squeeze on Mista’s arm, he let go and took a deep breath in. ‘Breathe,’ he reminded himself as he stepped forward, fists clenched tight as he swallowed thickly.

“Narancia…”

And then he was being knocked off his feet and for a second, Fugo thought he was gonna die. It definitely felt that way when his back hit the ground, knocking the breath he’d spent so long trying to get out of his lungs as searing pain shot through his gut. But then Narancia was balling his fists in Fugo’s suit and repeating his name over and over and shaking and crying and when he finally looked at Fugo, he was smiling so damn brightly it was like the sun came up early.

As the words fizzled into gasps and snivels, Fugo couldn’t help it. He hugged back. He ignored the pain everywhere and wrapped his arms around Narancia and held him and felt his breath and his heartbeat and he was still alive, Narancia was alive and okay, and Fugo was crying too.

He didn’t know how long they just lay there but it felt like hours. It was probably just a minute or two, but when Narancia pulled back, Fugo didn’t want to let him go. The brunette sat back, tear tracks shining in the moonlight as the grin on his face slowly fell away. Fugo sat up as well, a grunt of exertion and some extra force being all it took.

“You…” Narancia’s voice trailed off, his hand reaching out to brush against the zipper covering much of Fugo’s chest. His effeminate features hardened as he scowled, hissing ferociously, “I’ll kill them, Fugo. I’ll fucking kill them!”

“He’s already dead,” Fugo explained softly, taking Narancia’s hand instead of letting it linger on the zipper. He wasn’t gonna act like it didn’t fucking hurt.

Narancia appeared torn at his words, both happy that the guy was dead and upset that he couldn’t have killed the fucker himself. Fugo was just happy. He was glad Narancia had never met that madman, had never had to listen to his fanatical ravings of a God that Fugo was certain either didn’t exist or just didn’t care. Narancia was too impressionable, too naive, too kind to handle that.

“Fugo, I’m really glad you’re back,” Narancia murmured and Fugo felt the small hand within his own tighten to the point of pain, his skin glowing white in the moonlight from the fierce grip. “I was really scared.”

Fugo winced. Of all the things to say next, all the things he’d tried to prepare for, Narancia had still managed to pick one of the hardest hitters. What was he supposed to say? How was he supposed to apologize for not being there to protect his friend? For not staying by his side when something as serious as this was going on, when he surely needed support? For as good as abandoning him?

“You’re so dumb, Fugo,” Narancia continued, and Fugo swallowed thickly as guilt welled within his stomach. “You could’ve died!”

“I know-” wait. Did he hear him right? Fugo could’ve died? What?

“What if the Boss went after you?!” Narancia said, apparently not noticing Fugo’s confusion. “What if you were attacked by an enemy Stand that Haze wasn’t good against?! What if they caught you?! What if they… i-if they tortured you, or, or hurt you, or-”

“Narancia, wait,” Fugo interrupted, holding up his hand to stop the boy’s rant. “Are you- were you… scared for me?”

Narancia scowled angrily at him, throwing his arms up as he yelled, “Yeah, that’s what I’ve been saying you dumbass! Were you even listening to me, Fugo?!”

“I- yeah, I was, but- I mean-”

“But what?” Based on his tone, Narancia really didn’t get why Fugo was confused, and Fugo didn’t really want to explain it. Now that they were actually talking and Narancia was acting like he always did and was clearly over the moon, Fugo felt… well, he felt rather silly. For worrying about how Narancia would react if he came back.

Of course he’d be thrilled. Why had Fugo thought any different?

But Fugo knew why he’d thought differently: because he thought differently. That had been made evident when he’d been the only one to leave, to stay loyal to an entity he had never met or known and betray the people that became his family. He was different, he had always been different, and that was never going to-

“Fugo.” The blond raised his gaze from where it had fallen to the ground to see Narancia staring at him with a strange expression on his face. “What’s wrong?”

The words didn’t come, couldn’t come, and he just shook his head, blond bangs falling in front of his eyes to hide what he considered to be far too much emotion within them. ‘Don’t be weak,’ he told himself, the fingernails from his free hand digging into the fleshy part of his palm.

He felt something smack his head, not that hard but probably harder than Narancia had intended and he let out a yelp of shock as Narancia harrumphed across from him. “Fugo,” he said quietly, grabbing Fugo’s other hand and prying at the clenched fist open to interlace their fingers together. “I think you think too much. Stop it.”

Fugo was dumbfounded. Had he given that much away? No, of course he hadn’t. But this was Narancia, and Narancia knew him. Probably better than he knew himself. Fugo couldn’t help but laugh as a soft smile stretched across his cheeks. How the hell could this dumbass kid read him so well? “You don’t think enough,” he said back and the tension slowly began to dissipate between them.

Narancia grinned wildly, his purple eyes shining bright under the moonlight as he reached out to hug Fugo again, this time carefully avoiding the long zipper stretched across the blond’s abdomen, and Fugo was glad he wasn’t asking anymore questions. Sighing, he leaned into the hug, feeling his worries and anxieties draining out of him as he rested his head against Narancia’s shoulder and let his eyes close for a few seconds.

“This time,” he heard the brunette murmur softly, voice full of determination, “I’ll be the one to protect you, Fugo.”


Mista did his best to not pay attention to the two boys sitting in the dirt and grass and whispering amongst themselves, stuff that he was sure was probably way too mushy for how the two normally behaved. Instead, he helped Bucciarati unpack what little was left in the car that they’d brought with them: the extra jacket Fugo left in the car, some bags of food in the trunk that Bucciarati had insisted they buy, the compass and first aid kit they’d stolen from the crop duster.

He had insisted that Bucciarati let him do most of the heavy lifting, since he still wasn’t convinced that there wasn’t anything wrong with his capo. Not after the bullet left a hole in his side that Bucciarati failed to notice. Maybe not his best idea, what with a potentially shattered shoulder and fractured ribs and all, but oh well, he’d dug his grave. Best to just lie in it, or he’d be less of a man and Mista couldn’t possibly have that, now could he?

Setting the bags down next to the bench that sat on the porch, he turned to Bucciarati, who was staring out at Fugo and Narancia with such a goddamn warm expression, that Mista would suggest Bucciarati just adopt them already if the age gap would even possibly allow for it.

Bucciarati may say that they were like his brothers, but that was utter bullshit and all of them knew it. Especially Bucciarati.

He was about to say something, probably about whether they should leave them out there or not, when the front door burst open again.

A panicked, scowling Abbacchio stepped onto the porch, eyes flicking around wildly as he searched for some nonexistent enemy that caused Narancia to leave his post. He opened his mouth, presumably to yell at said guard or call out Moody Blues, when he noticed Mista and Bucciarati and just… stopped.

Mista was pretty sure he even stopped breathing.

This staredown was not nearly as long as Fugo’s and Narancia’s had been, and unsurprisingly, it was Bucciarati who took the initiative in this case. He stepped forwards to close the gap between them, blue eyes never leaving Abbacchio’s as he gently reached up to rest a hand against the taller man’s cheek, murmuring softly, “Hello, Leone.”

Mista watched as Abbacchio slowly lifted his own hand to place it over Bucciarati’s, as if to make sure that the warm palm touching his pale skin was truly real. After a moment of silent discussion between their eyes, Abbacchio laced their fingers together and released the breath he’d been holding. His head fell forwards to rest his forehead against Bucciarati’s as he finally whispered back quietly, “Bruno. Thank God.”

“I’m sorry to have worried you.” Bucciarati’s voice was soft and low and warm and so damn loving and Mista wanted to disappear where he stood because it wasn’t just Bucciarati, it was the way Abbacchio was looking at Bucciarati. So damn sweet, ugh. Mista had been pretty sure that Abbacchio wasn’t even capable of feeling a positive human emotion. It was like when he was five years old and watching his parents make out in public all over again, only worse. And they weren’t even in public, let alone doing anything.

“You better be.” It was clearly meant to be a grumble, but it obviously didn’t come out as anything less than equally warm and loving and Mista wondered that if he had a Stand like Bucciarati’s, could he could melt into the ground. Maybe Purple Haze could come murder him where he stood.

He was happy that they were happy, ‘course he was, but it felt like he was seeing something that was almost too intimate to be shown to others, what with how infrequently Abbacchio showed any emotion other than anger, disdain, or ambivalence. And maybe Bucciarati didn’t care, but Mista was sure that as soon as Abbacchio remembered that they were not, in fact, the only two people in the world, his presence would quickly turn into, well, not a present. So Mista shifted his gaze away from Abbacchio and Bucciarati as stepped off the porch- well, more like jumped, landing a bit harder than he’d like due to his sore ribs, but it put some distance between them anyway, which was the point.

What now, he wondered.

Chapter Text

Mista debated going out to talk to Narancia and Fugo, happy to see his bros together again and get their old weird little trio back, but the pair were still seated in the grass, hugging again- no, Mista decided, that was way too close to be a hug, it was an embrace and he was gonna give them hell for it later. But not now. He’d be intruding.

Footsteps on the porch told him that Bucciarati and Abbacchio were moving from the door to the bench, which meant he could safely go sit on the edge of the stairs leading to the porch, as far from both couples as possible without just leaving altogether (because it felt nice to have everyone together, dammit, and yeah, maybe he was a little sentimental), and debate the merits of being the only one in the damn group to not be so touchy-feely, and whether or not that was because he didn’t want to be or because his relationship with the others just wasn’t the same. Fugo and Narancia. Bucciarati and Abbacchio. That was how it was when he first joined and that was how it had stayed, and he was fine with that. It’d never bothered him, left him to go around catching all the tail that being a mafia member got you- which, admittedly, wasn’t all that much, but being part of Bucciarati’s gang? Now that got you a lot more. Still, it’d be nice if someone was happiest to see him, dammit.

He briefly thought about how nice it would be if that someone was Giorno, but the guy was probably sleeping and he wasn’t gonna go wake him up just for attention. No, Mista was perfectly content, to rest his elbows on his knees, chin in one hand, and stare out at the pretty scenery and think about how lucky they all were to get to see it together.

He really needed to get a girlfriend, dammit. How long had it been since his last one? How many months? Longer than the relationship had lasted, he was sure. Girls always just didn’t get it when he’d leave for a week or two with no contact, when he’d slip out in the middle of the night for a job, when he’d cancel dinner plans last minute because something came up. One or two had even said the classic, ‘what’s more important? Your job or me?’ and really, Mista wasn’t a fool. There were plenty’a girls out there, but only one of his squad.

Of course, he’d had a few enlightening revelations ever since Giorno had arrived. The biggest one being, how was a girl and a guy different when it came to dating? To fucking? And really, who cared all that much? He’d done anal before, how different could that be with a guy instead? Not that he would ever admit any of that out loud, the guys’d give him hell for months. That, and he didn’t wanna scare Giorno off. Although, Mista realized, the guy had a habit of surprising him when he least expected it.

Now maybe wasn’t the time to ponder his sexuality though, and he decided that maybe he’d just settle on a comfortable neutral for now. Fugo was always telling him to stop being so polarized anyway- a word he was pleased to know (and definitely not because he had pretended like he knew exactly what Fugo meant when he said that and went to look it up later, nope, no way, he was just that smart).

Just as he was getting used to the comforting peace that had settled over them all, the front door opened again. It was much quieter than it had been the first two times, a soft creak, a pause, followed by a muted click as it shut. Footsteps and then a quiet thump and Mista looked over to see Giorno sitting next to him on the stairs.

“I heard the ruckus,” the blond explained softly, green eyes sparkling in the moonlight. There was a lot of emotion in them, emotions that Mista was slowly learning how to read as he grew closer and closer to Giorno.

Unsure what else to say, or what Giorno was looking for in a response, Mista just nodded and leaned back, resting his back against the step behind him as he stretched his arms out before coming to rest them on his knees. “Sorry we woke ya.”

“Not at all.”

There was silence between the two of them, one that was comforting but also awkward as hell because Mista still didn’t know what to say, even though he had a bajillion different things to tell Giorno.

About his talk with Bucciarati and all the things he’d learned and still didn’t know from it, about what happened with Fugo and the boy’s decision, about their fight and the victory that Mista had earned all on his own, about the crop duster and the strange Stand and the water landing and the drive and the truth about the safehouse. About his nightmare with Giorno’s voice and about his daydream with Giorno himself.

But nothing would come out. There was too much and it was confusing.

A glance at Giorno’s expression and the myriad of expressions his eyes alone cycled through consistently was enough to tell him that the blond was the same.

“…I wasn’t sleeping,” Giorno said finally, voice soft and slightly strangled. “I couldn’t.” Mista saw the complicated form Giorno’s pretty features had pinched themselves into and frowned. “I thought… we all thought.”

He didn’t have to explain any further, Mista knew what he meant. Of course he did. The guy had been worried- worried that he’d lost the people he’d just started to know. He was fifteen, Mista reminded himself. He was only fifteen. Before the more rational (and cowardly) part of his mind could stop him, Mista had moved his arm around to rest across Giorno’s shoulders, pulling the blond boy into his side in an awkward but strong embrace.

“They’re okay,” he murmured in reassurance. “I mean, worse for wear, definitely need some patching up, but. They’re alive.”

“Yes, I see that,” Giorno answered, but he was still staring at Mista with a pained face. “Not ‘they,’ Mista. ‘We.’” Mista must’ve looked confused because Giorno sighed a sigh that sounded way too suffering for a fifteen year old to sound as he explained, “You were hurt too. There is dried blood on your chin and around your nose, which looks like it was hit with a truck, by the way. I notice the awkward way you have your foot resting so that it relieves it of pressure. Sprained, right? And then your chest, the bruises there are… quite visible.”

“I- damn. You got all that just by lookin’ at me?”

“I think you’ll find, Mista,” Giorno said slowly, the edges of his mouth perking up just the slightest bit. “That I get a lot just by observing. Especially you. There is quite a lot to look at.”

Mista didn’t know what he was expecting, but it wasn’t that. If he didn’t know any better, he’d say the blond was flirting with him- which, now that he thought about it, was not the first time that had happened. Hell, he didn’t know any better. This was weird, having a guy that looked the way Giorno did flirt with him.

Not that Mista was complaining.

“Look all ya want then,” Mista replied, grinning from ear to ear, winking as he added in a lower voice, “I got more to show you, y’know. Stuff ya can’t see with clothes on.”

“Are you referring to your injuries, Mista?”

Mista thought he might’ve pushed it too far for a sec, but the coy smirk on Giorno’s face hadn’t faltered at all. He was in the clear. Still though, Giorno was right. His injuries could use some healing- though he wasn’t sure if Giorno could fix some of the shit that was wrong.

“It really ain’t that bad,” he said. “I ain’t the best, but I’ve been worse too. Hurt my shoulder, probably fractured some ribs, ya already mentioned my ankle, but aside from that, I’m really fine. These scrapes‘n bruises are my battle scars, y’know?”

The look Giorno shot him told Mista that no, he did not in fact ‘know.’ Bucciarati hadn’t seemed to get it either when he’d tried to give Mista some basic first aid, although part of that had been because Mista didn’t wanna waste the small first aid kit on himself when Fugo had been literally an inch or two from death.

Giorno sighed sufferingly and before Mista could even begin to mention the other two and how Fugo especially had it way worse, the blond had reached over to touch his chest and there was a sharp stab of pain in his ribcage that quite literally knocked the air out of him as Gold Experience’s arm emerged from Giorno’s own. Luckily he was sitting down because the second it had pulled its hand out of him, he keeled over, hissing loudly as he wrapped his arms around his ribs. They felt in place again somehow, no pain when he stretched awkwardly, but fuck, that fucking hurt.

Apparently healing waited for no man because Giorno did not let him have a break. He inhaled sharply as his shoulder was somehow clicked back into place, clenching his jaw to keep from vomiting all over the place and oh God, Giorno was lucky he was so pretty that Mista couldn’t punch his face in because fuck.

“Didn’t know,” he managed to gasp out between whimpers. “Ya could do bones too.”

“Neither did I,” Giorno replied simply, sounding way too nonchalant for someone who could’ve just made him worse, as if it was just that easy to repair bones, and how did he even do that anyway, Mista didn’t see him shoving anything into any open wounds, what the fuck? His confusion must’ve been obvious because Giorno explained, “I attempted to use your own dead cells and the inorganic compounds within them, such as the water in the dead cells and the carbon dioxide in your lungs near the broken ribs, to restore them to new skeletal and cellular tissue. It must have worked.”

Oh.

Mista didn’t quite get it 100% but it sounded… kinda creepy. But also kinda cool.

“Now for your ankle-”

“Nononono, hold on!” Mista all but shrieked, jolting backwards out of Giorno’s grip. “Let’s talk about this man, you can wait a second, right? Gimme a chance to- FUCK!”

No, Giorno would not wait. While Mista had been distracted trying to convince him to give him a break, the blond had summoned Gold Experience behind him and the cold, lifeless fingers were touching his foot before he’d even had the chance to process anything but the pain of the swollen flesh and the dead cells exploding into healthy ones rendered his ankle nothing more than a fiery ball of pain.

Ignoring the way Abbacchio and Bucciarati were probably staring at him now (especially Bucciarati, because he could already picture that damn knowing look and he did not need that right now), Mista dug his fingers into the wooden stairs beneath him and tried to keep from screaming as the hot throbbing began to finally dissipate.

“Was it that bad?” Giorno asked, sounding genuinely concerned. “I don’t quite understand why it always seems to hurt the worst for you. When I repaired my arms, it wasn’t nearly as bad as losing them.”

“Wait, what.”

“Ah, we ran into a Stand on the flight here,” Giorno explained. “Narancia killed its user, and we believe that’s what unleashed the Stand upon us. It was a very close call. If Trish hadn’t awoken her Stand, we-”

“Look, I don’t care about that, I’ll find out later, your arms, Giorno, what-”

“I carved them both off in order to get rid of the Stand.”

Mista waited for the punchline but when that was all the blond said, part of him wanted to kill himself just so he could hunt down the fucker in the afterlife and kill them a second time. A split second later, he’d grabbed both of Giorno’s arms, yanking them towards him to get a better look. In the moonlight, he could make out discolored splotches on the purpley-pink suit the younger boy wore, strange seams around them from where it had likely been ripped off where the bloodstains were just cut off.

“I’m alright,” Giorno said softly. “As I mentioned earlier, Trish was able to defeat it. She got my brooch back to me and I was able to repair them both without much incident.”

“That ain’t the point,” Mista hissed, turning his dark eyes from Giorno’s arm to his stunned and confused expression. “I mean yeah, I’m happy ya fixed yourself, but you shouldn’t’a had to. I shoulda been there, shoulda-”

“Done what, Mista? You were thousands of kilometers away at the time, and even placing that aside, I thought you were dead. There was nothing you could’ve done.”

“Yeah but- you- your arms, Giorno.”

Giorno’s expression softened and he carefully pulled his arms out of Mista’s grip to free up his hands, allowing them to come to rest atop Mista’s knees as he scooted forward. “Believe me when I say it was necessary, Mista. If you had been there, I’m sure you wouldn’t have hesitated. And it’s not the first time I’ve been hurt like that, and it won’t be the last. I understand you’re worried, but I also understand what I signed up for when I joined you all.”

“But- I, I don’t like it,” Mista growled, but the tension was slowly seeping out of his shoulders as he relaxed into Giorno’s steady touch. Giorno was right; Mista hadn’t been there. But he was there when they fought White Album and although Giorno had also been hurt back then, there had been no time to hesitate. And he hadn’t. “You’re right. If I’da been there, it mighta just turned out the same. Or worse, I guess.”

“It’s alright. Your concern is… quite nice.” Giorno was smiling softly at him with creases near the edges of his twinkling green eyes, soft blond hair untamed from exhaustion framing his face beautifully and Mista though he was quite possibly the prettiest thing he’d ever seen.

“Good, ‘cause I like giving it,” Mista said and he meant it truthfully, but Giorno just seemed to find it entertaining because he breathed out sharply as a quiet rumble crept out from the back of his throat. It was the closest Mista had seen to a laugh from him since they’d met.

They sat there in silence for a few seconds and then Giorno moved. Mista froze, not daring to move a muscle as the blond shifted to face his back towards him, scooting over until his back was pressed into Mista’s arm and, after a moment, Mista pulled back to shift so that Giorno was positioned against his hip, golden hair brushing against Mista’s shoulder as he sighed quietly and reclined into the brunette.

This was the first time Mista had cuddled with someone since his last ex and he sure as hell hadn’t expected it to be with Giorno of all people but- but there was no one else he’d rather do it with. Although it probably couldn’t really be called cuddling, more of Giorno just using him as a backrest. Still, with someone as closed off as Giorno, Mista decided it counted.

“…I suppose I should be healing the others.” Giorno didn’t say it like a question or like instructions, and Mista wondered what the blond was testing him for.

“…I think they can wait a little longer,” Mista answered finally, his gaze shifting to where Fugo and Narancia were still seated fifty meters or so away from them, now likely talking quietly about who knows what. A glance back to the porch showed him that Bucciarati and Abbacchio had disappeared inside at some point without him noticing. “Doesn’t look like anyone’s in a hurry.”

“Indeed,” Giorno hummed. “And this is quite comfortable.”

“Tha- uh, I- um.” Shit what the fuck did he say to that? ‘Think, Mista, fucking use those two damn brain cells for once,’ he yelled at himself. “I-I’m glad? Uh, should I move more or, uh, maybe-”

“Mista.” The blond sounded exasperated, but hey, it ain’t like Giorno was actually an open book or whatever. The guy was near impossible to read, even with all the practice Mista was getting. He was getting better at it though. “Just stay.”

“Yeah,” Mista said dumbly, cursing his idiot brain for not being able to come up with anything more cool or suave than a fucking ‘yeah.’

But Giorno was leaning against him right now, and it wasn’t anything that intimate, just his back pressed against Mista’s side with Mista’s arm awkwardly positioned away so it wouldn’t be bothering the blond. Yeah, as far as intimacy went, this was so far down from Mista’s normal level that he typically wouldn’t’a batted an eye.

Except this was Giorno, and somehow Giorno made all of Mista’s normal inclinations fly out the damn window.

After a second, he decided to reach his arm around Giorno’s shoulders, pulling the smaller boy in a bit closer as he returned his gaze to the night sky. The warmth pressed into his side was way better than the warmth of Giorno’s tongue in the fantasy he’d had in the crop duster while dreaming. This was actually real.

The blond sighed contentedly, a sound that Mista was pretty sure he hadn’t meant to make because it was way too young and vulnerable than how Giorno normally portrayed himself. “I’m happy you’re safe, Mista,” Giorno murmured quietly, and then added, “All of you.”

Mista couldn’t help the ear-splitting grin that stretched across his face at Giorno’s words. The guy had mentioned Mista first, of all people. Even before Bucciarati. He hadn’t even checked on the others, hadn’t even bothered to go greet Bucciarati when the capo had been sitting just a few meters away from them when Giorno had first come out onto the porch. No, he had chosen Mista.

What the fuck had Mista been whining about to himself earlier about not having someone for himself? Bull fucking shit, he decided.

“After all,” Giorno continued, and Mista switched his focus from his own smugness back to Giorno. “You owe me a date. I can hardly do that with a corpse. Imagine the looks I would get.”

“That too much attention for a guy like you?” Mista questioned, his grin switching to a smirk. “I don’t think a corpse would change too much. You already get plenty of looks.”

“Oh? Pray tell, Mista, who’s looking?” No fucking way Giorno didn’t know what he was saying, and a single glance at the sly smile on the blond’s face verfied that. The very idea that a guy like Giorno could be flirting with a guy like Mista was completely bizarre.

But everything had been bizarre since Giorno joined them.

“You’ll find out,” Mista said. “One day.”

The day it was finally alright to tell him. When all this crazy shit was over and they were both still alive and didn’t have an entire group of organized crime after them. When Trish was safe and the gang was safe and they were safe.

Luckily Giorno didn’t seem to mind his vague answer, giving a quiet hum of agreement as he looked away. And if Giorno pushed a little closer and if Mista’s hand squeezed Giorno’s arm a bit tighter, well, neither of them had any complaints.

Chapter Text

The rest of the night seemed to pass much quicker than the past day had. It was probably the relief, Mista supposed, that he was still alive and so were the others.

He didn’t like to admit it, but he’d had his doubts.

With Giorno there in his arms on the porch, Mista had told him everything that he knew had happened at the ruins of Rusellae. About the strange fog-like Stand that took over its victims, about his violent fight with Fugo and how they each almost killed the other, about the nut job that Fugo fought that he refused to tell Mista anything about, about the crop duster and the old man and the slime and the trip to Sardegnia.

He didn’t mention his discussion with Bucciarati in the car on the way there. Mista didn’t even know what to think of it himself, but it seemed too personal, too private to say aloud to anyone else. Too frightening.

Bucciarati had come out to the porch at some point, telling them in a quiet voice that they should go inside, that it was late, that they had a lot waiting ahead of them, that they all needed to sleep. Mista didn’t think anyone would be sleeping tonight, but they obeyed anyway. Giorno had grabbed his hand gently, leading him inside while Bucciarati went to go gather the two boys that were still sat in the front yard. Mista didn’t know what Fugo and Narancia could possibly be talking about for this long, but he caught a glimpse of the wide grin on Narancia’s face and the softer one and Fugo’s, and he decided it didn’t really matter. He was just happy to see them back together.

Instead of going upstairs to the bedrooms, Giorno led Mista into the kitchen, gesturing for him to sit down at the table across from Abbacchio. The man spared a single glance at their clasped hand before his gaze flicked up to glower at Giorno, clearly annoyed that he had even come back inside the house at all, probably preferring if the blond slept on the porch. Giorno looked completely unfazed as he finally dropped Mista’s hand.

The loss of that solid warmth made something in Mista’s chest clench as he watched the blond move into the kitchen, taking a few cracked porcelain mugs from the cupboards as he began to dig through the cabinets. Leaving the guy to whatever he was doing, Mista turned to look at Abbacchio. The older man looked tired, his normal lipstick absent for once, white hair pulled back into a messy, low ponytail. Dark circles ran under his dual-colored eyes, but there was a warmth to his cheeks that made him look happier, younger.

Mista guessed that seeing Bucciarati alive did the guy some serious good.

“What’re you looking for?” Mista asked, glancing back to Giorno was in the last cupboard now, a look of frustration on his face.

“You’ll see,” was the only response he got aside from a little hmph of triumph when the blond found whatever it was he was searching for.

“Don’t you dare eat our fucking food,” Abbacchio growled but his voice mostly just sounded tired, lacking its normal bite. They’d all had a long day.

“None for you then,” Giorno muttered under his breath, disappearing behind the pantry door that he’d opened fully to hide whatever he was doing.

Abbacchio clicked his tongue but didn’t say anything else, crossing his arms over his chest and shifting his gaze out towards the window above the kitchenette. Mista followed his eyes to see that he was watching the three figures out in the front yard.

You could barely make anything out, the grassy lawn illuminated just enough by moonlight to form three dark shapes. They were moving faintly, one gesturing wildly that Mista figured was probably Narancia. As they shifted, moving through the heavy night like pockets of air in an inkwell, Mista saw the fond smile Abbacchio wore.

He settled back into his chair with a smirk. Yup, this was how things were supposed to be. Not to be gay or anything, but God, he loved his gang.

Although maybe his feelings for Giorno were a little gay? He was really gonna have to figure that out one day, but thinking wasn’t his strong suit, especially thinking about his feelings and reasons for them. He felt what he felt, wasn’t that good enough?

Probably not.

“Hey dipshit.” Mista jerked out of where he’d been staring vacantly into space, Abbacchio’s voice bringing him back to reality.

“What’s up?” he asked, resting his elbows on the kitchen table to lean forward, the sound of metal clinking against porcelain in the background.

“Don’t bleed all over the table. It’s oak.” When Mista just looked at him, confused, Abbacchio rolled his eyes and gestured to his blood-stained clothing.

“Oh, that! Nah, I’m fine, Giorno fixed me up. Not bleeding at all,” he said. Abbacchio just huffed and looked away moodily.

“That’s his way of saying he was worried.” The voice had come from Bucciarati, who entered the room not a second later.

He was herding Narancia in front of him and, a few steps behind them, a hesitant Fugo poked his head into the kitchen. The blond looked awkward and nervous, glancing shiftily around the room to gauge the moods of the others within its confines. Mista didn’t blame the guy.

“Thought that was you,” Abbacchio said, his voice oddly controlled, no hint of emotion in the words. So he didn’t want Fugo to know how he was feeling, Mista realized. Interesting.

“Hey!” Narancia, on the other hand, sounded petulant and angry. Like always. “Fugo already apologized so back off!”

“Oh, he apologized, huh? Guess that means that everything is perfectly fine? That you didn’t try to fucking kill one of our own? Or am I mistaken, Fugo?”

Wincing at the harsh words, Mista spared a glance towards their capo. Bucciarati, after stepping over to say something to Giorno (still behind that damn door), was now reclining against the countertop across from the table, watching the exchange between the two. While he looked mildly concerned, he made no movements to stop them. He wanted to see them play this out on their own, then.

Fugo, on the other hand, looked like he wanted to melt into the floor and disappear forever, and again, Mista didn’t blame the guy. The only thing scarier than a pissed off Abbacchio was a calm Abbacchio. And from the way Narancia was staring at Fugo in shock, he hadn’t told the older boy of his fight with Mista. Noticing Mista’s gaze on him, Fugo glanced up and locked eyes with Mista and the gunman flinched automatically, averting his gaze. He immediately regretted it, forcing himself to look back up. It wasn’t because he was scared or even still upset, just that he hadn’t been expecting eye contact, but the hurt was still evident in Fugo’s violet eyes, and that was ultimately why Mista spoke up.

“Hey, I gave as good as I got,” he said awkwardly, trying to diffuse some of the tension. “It wasn’t any worse than the fights we got into on the team anyway.”

Mista pointedly avoided Bucciarati’s hard stare, willing the brunette to not describe all the ways that statement was completely fucking wrong. Thankfully, he held his tongue, blue gaze switching from Mista to stare analytically Fugo.

“That isn’t the point,” Abbacchio said flatly. “I don’t give a shit how beat up you two got; what I care about is whether or not we can trust him.”

“You said yourself that Fugo was making the right decision, Leone,” Bucciarati pointed out smoothly, his arms crossing over his chest as he cocked his head in interest. If Mista didn’t know any better, he woulda sworn Bucciarati was entertained by this.

“Yeah, and I stand by that. He did, going after the Boss is suicide, so leave, sure, whatever, it’s the right thing to do. But what he did after that,” Abbacchio explained, “is that he changed his mind. All of us made our choice and have no intentions of going back on it. However, Fugo here, has already betrayed his original decision. Who’s to say he won’t do it again?”

Fugo was quiet for a few seconds, fists clenched at his sides. When he finally looked up, his eyes were hard, determined.

“…When I was a child,” he said at last, and Mista was surprised. The guy never talked about his childhood, and Mista had a feeling it hadn’t been all that great. He knew there were things Bucciarati and Fugo were hiding from them all about it, but he never pried. “My parents enrolled me in a private school. There was a boy there who decided he didn’t like me for whatever reason and started to bully me. I mostly ignored him because he was a dumbass, but one day, we got into an argument and he punched me. I beat the shit out of him for that.”

Not a surprise, Mista thought, but what did that matter?

“When I got sent home early that day,” Fugo continued, unperturbed at the incredulous stares upon him, “my parents yelled at me. I was wrong because it gave me a bad reputation, because it encouraged me to use my fists instead of my brain, but mostly because it reflected badly on them, to have a violent child. So the next day at school, when he tried to get me back, I just stood there. I was eight, I didn’t want to disobey my parents. I was sent home again, this time for injuries. And they yelled at me again. This time, I was wrong because it made me look like a coward, because I was complacent and allowed myself to be stepped on, because it made them look bad. Again.”

“That’s great, what fucking ever, what does it have to do with anything?” Abbacchio interjected, his patience clearly starting to wear. Mista studied the man’s features scrupulously, but aside from the tone, not a single muscle was tensed in anger or irritation. The guys looked like he had full control over every damn muscle in his body; how the hell was that the same guy who freaked the fuck out whenever Giorno spoke?

“Because,” Fugo explained, his voice careful and withdrawn as he tried to figure out how best to explain the story’s relevance. “I didn’t understand. If I was wrong both times, then what was the right thing to do? What should I have done, in their eyes? Why could both things be wrong at the same time, when they were exact opposites of everything they gave as explanation? What truly is right and wrong? Do those concepts truly exist, or are they simply words that we as humans give meaning to when it suits us, in order to justify our choices?”

Mista was completely lost at this point, but did his best to scale his features into ones of understanding. Couldn’t look like an idiot in front of Giorno, after all, who had finally closed the damn pantry and was looking very intrigued in Fugo’s musings, his back to a pot of something that was boiling on the stove.

“It would be more accurate to say that choices are simply correct or incorrect,” Fugo continued. “And that right and wrong are too intangible and incorporeal to be used as feasible explanations for choices. They hold too many morals within them that vary with every individual. As a child, I didn’t know that. I didn’t understand it. I still don’t, not to the degree that all of you seem to. A true moralistic sense of right and wrong just isn’t innate for me, it’s not something I was born with or was ever taught to develop.

“Therefore, while right and wrong are simply moralistic ideals, correct and incorrect choices rely on logistics and facts. I have a deep understanding of both of those; therefore, I excel at the aspects of making a correct decision - not a right one. So although I was correct in my choice - which is what you agreed with, Abbacchio - I was wrong in my decision. And I didn’t realize that until I met a madman who was both right and wrong, correct and incorrect, all at the same time.”

His tirade, which had increased in both speed and volume as he ranted further, was met with utter silence and five stares- three curious, one confused, and one glassy-eyed stare from Narancia, who had probably tuned Fugo out the second his explanation switched from a childhood story to a philosophical debate. Bucciarati rested his hands on his hips, fixing Fugo with a look that could only be described as fond. Giorno was rubbing his chin and seemed to be mumbling something to himself, too quiet for anyone to make out. Abbacchio was just staring, his gaze carefully blank.

“…When’d you become a damn philosopher?” he said finally, leaning forward in his seat to hear Fugo’s response.

Fugo fixed Abbacchio with a hard stare as he answered firmly, “When I died and was reborn.”

The white-haired man returned the gaze with a long, unreadable look, arms folding tightly over his chest. It felt like the life was being sucked from the room by the tension that consumed the two, both waiting for the other to make the next move. Then Abbacchio sighed and stood up to walk over to Fugo. No one said anything or made any move to stop him, but Mista saw Narancia’s shoulders tense, probably preparing himself to jump to Fugo’s aid if he was attacked.

Abbaccio raised his hand, features stoney and cold as he swung it down-

And smacked Fugo on the shoulder, so hard the blond staggered to the side. He looked as surprised as Mista felt, watching a sly grin cross Abbacchio’s face as he rested his hands on his hips. It was fucking terrifying.

“Welcome back, kid,” Abbacchio drawled, and Mista watched as the shock slowly slipped off Fugo’s face, replaced with a small smile of his own. Finally sure that no one was going to get murdered, Mista took this chance to survey the rest of the room’s reactions.

Bucciarati was smiling proudly at them both, and Mista couldn’t tell which of them the pride was more directed at. Probably both. Giorno had watched the entire exchange with a solemn face, his features schooled into an expression of careful consideration. Mista knew the guy probably had a much better idea of what had just gone down than he did; as far as he was concerned, everything they’d just said had gone in one ear and out the other.

Not that he hadn’t tried to understand, but Fugo used too many big words and Mista just didn’t really get it. Didn’t right and correct mean the same damn thing? And so did wrong and incorrect? Whatever, it ain’t important, he figured he didn’t have to get it, Abbacchio did. And it seemed like the guy had, based on the way his posture had relaxed, shoulders slumping down a bit as the tension in them ebbed away.

As Bucciarati straightened from where he’d been leaning against the counter, probably to go lecture them on the importance of resolving their differences and how he was greatly impressed with their maturity or some parental shit, Mista’s attention shifted back to Giorno. The blond was completely lost in thought at this point, green eyes staring blankly off into space. Mista could almost see the thoughts flying around in his head at the speed of light. He just wished he knew what those thoughts were.

Maybe he should’ve tried to understand Fugo’s weird rant after all.

Mista felt a tap on his shoulder and drew his gaze from Giorno’s pretty features the same time as the blond shifted back to the stove to see Narancia leaning in towards him, hand around the corner of his mouth to hide his whisper.

“Did you get any’a that?” he murmured surreptitiously, casting a nervous glance around the room to be sure no one heard him.

Mista snorted. Shrugging his shoulders, he hissed back, “Not a fucking clue.”

Chapter Text

The sounds of soft murmuring coming from Bucciarati, Abbacchio, and Fugo hung over the kitchen, not nearly as oppressive as it had been just a few minutes earlier. Mista had busied himself by fooling around with Narancia, playing their own private version of would you rather that mostly consisted of insane suggestions from the depths of their brains.

As Narancia explained why he’d rather shave his head than his pubes, Mista found himself watching Giorno’s back. The blond had finished whatever he’d been doing and was pouring something from a pot into the porcelain mugs he’d assembled earlier.

Smiling in satisfaction to himself, the blond grabbed the first two mugs and made his way over to Mista and Narancia.

“Here you are,” he said, holding out the glasses. As Mista accepted his, the rich scent of chocolate drifted up from the thick brown liquid and he realized it was hot chocolate.

“This was your secret project?” Mista asked, grinning up at Giorno. “That’s kinda cute.”

“Hmm, sounds fitting,” Giorno answered slyly, handing the other mug to Narancia, who immediately started to down the entire glass despite it still being hot.

“This is great!” he crowed happily, “Mista if you ain’t gonna finish yours, gimme!”

“I’m just not an uncivilized animal like you,” Mista sniffed, ignoring Narancia’s angry cry of protest. “Plus I like feeling my tongue, thanks. Never seen hot chocolate made on a stove before, is that how your mom made it?”

Mista could’ve sworn the light in Giorno’s eyes flickered for a moment as he turned back to get the other cups, answering quietly, “She would make it sometimes for my step father. I used to watch her do it.”

Something about that sounded wrong but Mista couldn’t quite figure out what it was. But he didn’t want to pry either, especially when he had this weird feeling that the more he asked, the more Giorno would close off.

After blowing the steam away, he took a cautious sip. The rich, saccharine taste of creamy chocolate spread across his tongue and he grinned, licking his lips to get the last of the milky texture clinging to them. “This is fucking amazing, dude.”

Mista was pretty sure the grin he got in response was the biggest smile he’d ever seen Giorno make.


“If I could have everyone’s attention for a moment.”

When the announcement came, Mista had been in the middle of a heated debate with Narancia about the merits of not having bones in your body - Narancia was convinced that being able to slide around the floor like a glob of slime would be the funnest thing ever, but Mista did not fancy looking like a limp noodle all the time - when Bucciarati had finished whatever he’d been saying to Fugo and Abbacchio.

After Giorno had given the three their own mugs - which, Mista noted, that he even made one for Abbacchio despite saying he wouldn’t - the three had gathered around each other to discuss whatever it was they needed to after thanking the blond boy. Or rather, Bucciarati and Fugo thanked him. Abbacchio glowered down at the mug and challenged if it was poison or not. ‘Undeserving ass’, Mista had thought, grinning smugly when Bucciarati admonished him for it.

It had only taken a minute or two for the atmosphere around those three to take a nosedive as they switched to what was likely a much more depressing topic than the whole gang reuniting alive and well (for the most part), or how good Giorno’s homemade hot chocolate was. Mista wasn’t that surprised; Fugo was Bucciarati’s second in command and Abbacchio was like his right arm, it was only a matter of time before the buzzkills, well, killed the buzz.

He didn’t care all that much, more than content to delve into the intricacies of whatever strange thing Narancia conjured up in his pea-sized brain. Man, he’d missed that. Giorno had seemed content to just sit back and observe everyone, sipping from his own mug from a distance even though he was barely a meter away across the table.

The fact that the blond had seemed more reserved around the others that evening had not gone unnoticed by Mista. Call him dense, unobservant, what-fucking-ever, but he paid attention to stuff he gave a shit about and Giorno had fallen under that category at some point.

Even out on the porch, when Giorno had shown more affection than Mista had ever seen the guy do, he had sensed some sort of wall there, some boundary that he couldn’t cross even if the blond was being more open with him, and now that they were all together again, he was certain that he hadn’t just imagined it.

He didn’t like it.

Giorno had seemed like he was starting to open up, at least to Mista, when they’d split up; what had happened during that time? Giorno had told him about the fight against Notorious BIG, but there had to be something else. Probably Abbacchio, if Mista had to place a guess. Now Mista would have to try to undo whatever asshole thing the prick did now; fuckin’ wonderful. Why the hell did Abbacchio dislike him so much anyway? He hadn’t been like that with Mista when he’d joined, why was Giorno so different?

Probably had something to do with Bucciarati.

Mista had tried once or twice to draw Giorno into the conversation, but somehow the blond didn’t seem too interested in taking sides. Mista thought that was insane, how could he not back Mista up here? Not having bones? You’d slip through the fucking shower drain or the sewer grates, you’d look like a flaccid dick all the time, why the fuck was that a good idea, and no Narancia, you wouldn’t be able to slide around because slimes can do that because they’re wet and people aren’t, you dumbass, you’d get friction burn or some shit.

He was getting distracted.

So distracted that he barely noticed when Bucciarati spoke, but he definitely noticed when Abbacchio slammed his fist into the wall behind the capo’s head, the loud noise effectively shutting Narancia up right in the middle of his diatribe about how you could totally eat without your teeth.

“Shut the fuck up!”

“…Thank you, Leone,” Bucciarati seemed to settle on grudgingly, clearly deciding to pick his battles. “As I said, if you would all listen for a moment, there are a few matters I would like to address.”

He had everyone’s attention by this point, thanks to his violent they-weren’t-technically-out-yet-but-probably-boyfriend, and after Fugo gave a quick nod of his head, Bucciarati looked back at his audience. “Between the three of us, we’ve pooled our knowledge of the situation and been discussing the best manner of progression. Unfortunately, it seems the only attack Fugo knew of that we all didn’t was Notorious BIG, which you’ve already taken care of - or should I say Trish did. Which means we likely don’t know of any of the other elite guards that the Boss has.”

“The only other person I met who wasn’t or isn’t dead now was a man who said he was a member, but based on his appearance, I highly doubt it,” Fugo explained. “He didn’t come across as a seasoned fighter, too lanky and skittish, and he looked around our age - not that that’s a good indicator, but you know what I mean. My best guess is that he’s an advisor of the Boss instead, since the Boss was using him to relay information to me, and was proclaiming himself a member of the elite guard to ensure his own safety. That could have even been the boss’s idea, I’m not sure.”

“What’d the guy look like?” Mista asked curiously.

“Pink hair, brown eyes, freckles. Taller than me but only by a few centimeters, lanky, slim figure, not a lot of musculature. Said his name was… Doppio, I think? I wasn’t paying much attention when he introduced himself.”

“Pink hair… do you think that could have any relation to Trish?” Giorno asked suddenly, his green eyes narrowing as his brow furrowed in thought.

“I considered that as well,” Fugo agreed, “but decided that anything that could come of that would be speculation at best. Hair color isn’t a very good indicator; for example, we both have blond hair, Giorno. It doesn’t mean we’re siblings. Besides, the more I thought about it, it just didn’t make sense for the Boss to reveal himself to me, even if I had left you all. Not after spending so long trying to remain in hiding from nearly everyone.”

Giorno nodded, but the look in his eyes made it clear that he likely wasn’t going to dismiss it as easily as Fugo had. Mista had to agree with him though; the same hair color didn’t mean much these days. People could dye it easily enough, not to mention that like half the world had the same hair color - brown, or something like that. Now that he thought about it, Fugo was probably the one to tell him that.

“Since we don’t know what could be waiting for us at Costa Smeralda, we’ve decided to lie low for one more day,” Bucciarati explained, moving on from the subject of Doppio. “We can take the extra time to form a plan of attack around what we do know. That, and I’m sure you could all use some rest. These past few days seem to have stretched on and on, Lord knows you all deserve a break for once.”

“So do you, Bruno.”

Abbacchio’s low rumble was echoed throughout the room and Bucciarati smiled softly nodding at the taller man, but Mista saw the way his blue eyes flitted across the room to meet with Giorno’s for less than a second. What the fuck were they hiding? It was driving him crazy, dammit, Mista was too curious a guy to ignore it.

“There are two more bedrooms upstairs,” Bucciarati continued unperturbed, “you four can decide who will sleep where. Just keep it down, we wouldn’t want to wake Trish.”

“Does she know you’re back, Bucciarati?” Narancia asked curiously, voice laced with concern.

Bucciarati nodded in confirmation. “When Abbacchio and I came inside to talk while you all were still outside, she was awake and getting a glass of water from the sink. She’s gone back to bed now, but I’d like to let her sleep. She’s had a difficult week.”

“You need to talk to her,” Giorno said suddenly. “Neither Narancia or I really knew what to say after she awoke her Stand, and she didn’t want to talk to us even when we tried.”

“I plan to,” Bucciarati murmured. “I can only imagine how confused she must be right now.”

“What about keeping watch?” Mista asked. “We can’t just all go to bed.”

“I will take first watch,” Bucciarati explained, and before anyone could protest, Abbacchio had wrapped his arm around Bucciarati’s waist and stepped forward.

“I’m staying up with him.”

No one was gonna say anything to that, Mista could recognize a threat when he heard one. It was Abbacchio’s way of saying all of them needed to fuck right off and go to bed and not disturb them while he did… whatever with Bucciarati. Mista didn’t wanna know the details, thank you very much.

“We’ll all head upstairs then,” Fugo said in that calm voice he used when talking to Abbacchio. Mista had never quite mastered that calm-down-no-one-wants-to-fuck-Bucciarati-but-you tone, but damn if Fugo didn’t do it perfectly. Years of practice, Mista figured.

The others got up from the table, stretching and dragging their feet. Seemed like Mista wasn’t the only one whose exhaustion was finally catching up to him, a large yawn escaping his lips. As Narancia shuffled over towards Fugo, Mista caught Giorno exchanging a look and a small nod with Bucciarati. Hell, if Abbacchio hadn’t said he was staying, Giorno would probably still be in there with their capo. Those two were gonna disappear at some point tomorrow, Mista would bet his bank account on it - if he had one, that is. They filed out of the kitchen, leaving Bucciarati and Abbacchio alone, but they had only reached the foyer before Giorno spoke up.

“Fugo, if you could follow me for a moment.” When the blond looked at him in confusion, Giorno added, “there’s a soundproof office down the hall at the back of the house. Your injuries still need tending to.”

Fugo looked shocked at Giorno’s words, but Narancia was instantly at his side, grinning widely as he grabbed Fugo’s arm. “Come on, let’s go, Fugo! Don’t worry, if it hurts, I’ll hold your hand!”

“That… wasn’t what I was concerned about,” Fugo muttered awkwardly, his cheeks heating up at Narancia’s suggestion. “I just wasn’t expecting-”

“Fugo. You are our ally.” Giorno’s arms were crossed over his chest, clearly not having any patience for Fugo’s self-pity. “And before that, you’re my friend. And you do not deserve to stay like that until you either heal on your own or die.”

“We- we’re friends?”

Giorno’s stern expression seemed to falter slightly, so briefly that Mista was certain he woulda missed it if observing Giorno wasn’t his new favorite thing to do on the reg. The blond cleared his throat as he said, “I suppose you don’t need to feel the same way, but I-”

“Wait, no, that- that’s not what I meant!” Fugo exclaimed quickly, waving his arms frantically. “I just… after what I did, after I just left you guys like that, I thought-”

“Fugo, I believe it is more important to follow what you believe is right than to follow the path of others. And that is what you did. You have nothing to be ashamed of.”

Fugo looked like he wanted to argue further but kept his head down and just nodded instead. From underneath his blond bangs, Mista saw the makings of a soft smile and couldn’t help but grin. Thank God Giorno had been paying attention to Fugo’s whatever-the-hell-it-was explanation because they both looked more relaxed now.

“See, Fugo? I told you no one would care!” Narancia crowed happily, slapping Fugo on the back in a way that seemed way too gentle for the small boy normally. He was showing his concern for Fugo the best he could, Mista thought.

Fugo nodded at Narancia before looking back at Giorno. “Lead the way.”

Giorno set off down the hall and, after exchanging a look, Mista and Narancia hurried after them. No way were they were gonna miss out on seeing Fugo shrieking and squirming like a little girl, they could hold that over his head for years.

Chapter Text

The office that Giorno was talking about was unsuspectingly plain: a desk pushed up against one wall with a cushy chair that Narancia quickly claimed for himself, bookshelves on the wall across from it lined floor to ceiling with a bajillion different titles that made Fugo’s eyes light up when he saw them, a window seat on the far wall that held some potted plants that looked half dead, and an ornate rug covering the dark wood floors.

To an unsuspecting eye, it looked perfectly normal. To Mista, he saw the way the glass window panes were especially thick, likely bulletproof glass, the dark wood a rust color to hide any potential stains, certain books that were likely hollow on the inside and easy to reach, the hidden flap that flipped up the window seat to reveal whatever needed to be hidden there. It was the perfect type of room to lay low in but be surrounded by everything you could need.

He took a seat along the window, saddled between a ficus and some sorta curly fern before Narancia moped over to join him, kicked out of the chair by Giorno, who was now instructing Fugo to sit down in it as he locked the doors behind them.

“Now then Fugo, you’re the last one out of the three of you,” Giorno explained. “I feel like I owe you an apology, your wounds should have been treated first.”

“No, definitely not, I didn’t know you guys would take me back, so don’t feel bad,” Fugo said quickly. “It’s honestly not as bad as it looks.”

Mista knew that was a massive lie, if not for the blood-stained scraps of lime fabric still clinging to his body, then for the pale skin that looked just a shade darker than white. Judging by the way Narancia was glaring at the blond boy, everyone knew what bullshit that was. Not that any of them would point it out though; let the guy keep what pride he had left.

“You said I was the last one; when did you heal Bucciarati?”

If not for the way Mista had been watching the cute blond boy, he would’ve completely missed the way Giorno seemed to stiffen slightly at the question, brows creasing minutely before a casual mask of indifference settled across his pretty features.

“While you were outside with Narancia,” Giorno answered, voice giving nothing away. “Though he didn’t have much I needed to do; it seems you and Mista were on the receiving end of most of the action.”

Fugo nodded, accepting the answer as Giorno turned back to look down the long hallway through the glass window by the office door. Probably looking to see if Bucciarati was there, Mista realized. He wondered if Giorno knew he was doing so, or if the movement had been involuntary, driven by the boy’s knowledge of some situation that Mista had no idea of.

“I don’t want to cause any concern,” Giorno explained as he turned back to the others in the room, drawing Mista out of his thoughts. “Fugo, you haven’t had to have Gold Experience heal you before, so I don’t really know you will react. I’m sorry, but this will likely hurt.”

“Hey, if that dumbass over there with no pain tolerance can handle it, I think I’ll be fine,” Fugo answered goodnaturedly, ignoring Mista’s cry of indignation. He did not have no pain tolerance, he just didn’t see the point in suppressing it when he was with his friends! His bros! And it was getting healed anyway; who cares if he says it hurts?!

“While you were talking to Abbacchio, I gave you a quick once over, but most of your injuries looked surface level to me. Of course, I don’t know for sure, so I’ll need you to tell me about anything I can’t see. I assume your stomach is the worst of it?” Giorno pressed, looking over the other blond carefully to see what else needed fixing- which wasn’t hard to do, as Fugo’s suit, which was already full of holes, now looked more like a flasher’s typical attire.

“Yes, that’s really all you need to-”

“And his neck,” Narancia interrupted, Mista jumping in his seat. The boy had been so unnaturally quiet, Mista almost forgot he was there. Probably out of concern for Fugo. The brunette leaned in from where he sat as he spouted off, counting on his hand, “and his right shoulder, and his left eye, and his left ankle, and his right side, and the fingers on his left hand. Oh, and his left thigh! That one looked really bad.”

“Wha- that’s- when the fuck did you take inventory of me?!” Fugo cried angrily, his cheeks flushed red, and Mista thought that was kinda cute, how he was embarrassed and all. Acting his age for once.

“Because you wouldn’t’a said anything!” Narancia huffed, crossing his arms over his chest in a pout. “I was lookin’ out for you, don’t get mad! I was worried, Fugo! You look half dead!”

Mista personally thought Fugo looked more like a tomato at this point, vaguely wondering how a guy who lost so much blood could still be so red. Fugo’s mouth was open but no sounds came out except awkward squeaking noises. Finally he cleared his throat and muttered something that was probably a thank you but really, this was Fugo we’re talking about, it could just as easy be a fuck you instead. Judging by Narancia’s victorious expression though, whatever he’d said unintelligibly for everyone except the brunette had been a good thing.

“Well,” Giorno said smoothly, clearly deciding to just not address whatever exchange had just happened between Fugo and Narancia. “As far as your eye goes, I can’t do anything. Bruises are… a bit complicated. And it will heal on its own.”

“Wha- bruises are complicated but bones are fine?!”

“The chemical processes for regeneration are quite different when it comes to different kinds of tissues, Mista,” Giorno replied, not looking away from where he was examining Fugo’s ankle. “While bruises heal on their own, bones often need assistance and that is where I come in. Bones are a lack of something, bruises an excess.”

Mista had no idea what the fuck Giorno was saying but Fugo was nodding like it made sense, and if it made sense to both of them, then Mista guessed he was probably just too dumb to get it. Narancia’s vacant expression suggested he was as well.

“Your ankle would benefit more just from being wrapped,” Giorno said as he set the foot back down on the ground. “And just as well; the rest of your injuries are treatable but I’m still hesitant to use so much inorganic material in one body in so many various places. It will be a bigger feat than anything I’ve attempted in the past. Regrowing my own arms included.”

“Just get it over with,” Fugo interrupted with a wave of his arm. “I don’t really care about the semantics of it, do what you gotta do.”

Giorno nodded. “I’ll do your fingers first,” he said, taking Fugo’s hand in his own as Gold Experience appeared behind him. There was a soft tinkling noise, the strange sound coming from Gold Experience as it brushed its lifeless fingers against Fugo’s own and the bandages that had been used to flimsily wrap them twisted and warped, forcing their way into the open wounds and knitting the severed muscles back together as the teeth marks faded.

Aside from a sharp intake of breath, Fugo didn’t show any signs of discomfort, his features carefully schooled into a neutral expression. Mista was pretty sure that was for Narancia’s benefit. The kid looked like he might vibrate off the window ledge from nerves.

When Giorno pulled away, Fugo lifted his hand to stare incredulously at it. He looked like he couldn’t really believe it was healed, looking as good as new aside from the rusty dried blood on his fingertips and palm.

“That wasn’t too bad, I hope,” Giorno murmured as he immediately moved on to look at the remaining injuries. “However, the rest of your wounds are too deep for me to simply use the bandages; there isn’t enough of them to fully heal them all. Do you mind if I use the rest of your suit for the materials?”

“Knock yourself out,” Fugo agreed easily. “I don’t think I can really salvage it at this point, plus I know Bucciarati bought me new clothes earlier.”

“Speaking of Bucciarati…” Giorno sounded hesitant as he said quietly, “the zipper. We need him to remove the zipper.”

Mista exchanged a quick glance with Narancia and Fugo before he stood up. Obviously Fugo had to stay here, and Narancia might literally die if Fugo was out of his sight for more than a single second. That left him or Giorno, so…

“I’ll go tell him,” Mista offered. “Better me than you, Giorno, Abbacchio might actually murder you for interrupting them.”

The blond nodded and turned back to Fugo as Mista left the room. He shut the door quietly behind him, heading back down the hallway towards the kitchen. The house was silent, the only noise the click of the heels of his boots against the wood floor and the creaks and sighs of the house as it settled in for the night. It was deceptively calm. In a way, that itself was eerie.

When he got to the kitchen, it was empty, the lights off and mugs picked up and sitting in the sink to be cleaned. In the momentary silence, quiet voices coming through the window pane told him that the pair must’ve moved outside. A quick glance through the window above the kitchenette showed that they were sitting on the porch again and Mista headed out of the kitchen towards the front door.

The screen in front of the door was closed but the actual door itself was cracked open, allowing the cool night air to drift through the gap. Mista grabbed the handle, about to turn it when he heard Abbacchio’s furious voice slide through the gap to meet him.

“-n’t you tell me?!” the voice echoed through the screen and Mista froze in place. Abbacchio never sounded like that with Bucciarati. “I never would’ve let you go if-”

“That’s why, Leone.” Bucciarati’s voice was calm and firm with an underlying distance that made Mista’s blood turn to ice. “We both know I had to go.”

He shouldn’t be here. This wasn’t something he was supposed to be hearing but suddenly Mista couldn’t move.

“Bull fucking shit you had to!” Abbacchio fumed. “We should’ve just ignored it! I told you that already when we first talked about going, it was a stupid decision, it was rash, and now we’re paying for it!”

“And just waste the chance it gave?” Bucciarati said softly, continuing before Abbacchio had a chance to argue, “Just throw away an opportunity to learn more? To help Trish? To leave Fugo with that madman?”

“We didn’t even know he’d be there… He could’ve handled it.” Despite what he was saying, Abbacchio sounded like he didn’t believe his own words. Mista didn’t either.

“He’s too young, Leone,” Bucciarati replied with a tired sigh. “They all are.”

“So are you, Bruno. So are you.”

This wasn’t supposed to happen, Mista thought numbly, the ice in his veins sending a shiver down his spine. Abbacchio wasn’t supposed to sound like that, like his world was shattering, like he was broken and defeated. Bucciarati wasn’t supposed to be hiding things from everyone else, wasn’t supposed to be talking like that, as if Bucciarati was-

Mista wrenched the screen door open as loud as he could, sending both men whirling around to face him. Abbacchio looked stressed and tired and Bucciarati looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. They both glanced frantically at the other, clearly wondering how much he’d heard.

Taking a deep breath, Mista forced a casual grin onto his face as he stepped out onto the porch to join them. “Yo! So this’s where you guys were, I was lookin’ for ya.” Mista wondered if his cheery voice sounded as fake as he knew it was.

“Mista,” Bucciarati said slowly, his shoulders slumping as some of the tension left them Abbacchio looked at the floor but didn’t seem like he noticed anything wrong. So he’d managed to fool them for now. “Is something wrong?”

“Nah, just we need you to take off the zipper on Fugo,” Mista explained. “Giorno wants to fix him up all nice but it’s kinda in the way, y’know?”

Bucciarati nodded. “I’ll be there momentarily, just let me finish up with Abbacchio here,” he replied, exchanging a meaningful look with the taller man. Mista felt his stomach twist. The look in Abbacchio’s eyes was… it was something he didn’t want to put more effort into understanding. He had a sinking feeling that whatever it was, he truly didn’t want to know.

“Sure,” Mista nodded, forcing an effortless smirk born from years of practice across his features as he added offhandedly, “I’ll let y’all get back to your gross flirting. Just keep it clean, there’s children in the house.” He hissed that last part scandalously, ducking out of the way of a flower pot that had been sitting on the porch, carefully aimed at his head.

He re-entered the house to the sounds of a pissed off Abbacchio yelling - at who, God knows - as Bucciarati’s calm voice tried to soothe the enraged man. That was how it was supposed to be. That was how they were supposed to sound, not like- like the world was over. Mista’d done his job, played his role of the easy-going mood maker perfectly. They didn’t suspect a thing, had no idea he’d heard them.

And oh, how Mista wished he hadn’t.

Chapter Text

That sharp feeling of disbelief, of the fear of what that secret conversation meant, that lingered deep in Mista’s bones long into the night. It seemed to haunt his steps, to cling to the seams of his clothes and whisper in his ear despite his best attempts to ignore them.

He shouldn’t have heard them. He shouldn’t have stayed and listened, he should’ve left, or should’ve just gone outside, shouldn’t have let his curiosity consume him. Why was that always such a big problem? He always seemed to get himself involved in stuff that was none of his damn business in the first place. That was how he’d gone to prison - not that he regretted it, no, he’d been able to help that girl. It was worth it.

But how could he help Bucciarati if the guy wouldn’t even talk to him?

And now he knew more than the others but less than those two and being in this weird gray middle area was driving him fucking crazy.

When he’d gotten back to the office, taking probably considerably longer than it should have as he dragged his feet along, Giorno looked like he was just finishing up with Fugo’s thigh.

Narancia had moved, now standing at Fugo’s side while clasping the younger boy’s hand tightly in his own. Mista wondered whose choice that had been. Fugo himself looked sick, that white pallor that had settled into his skin now tinging on green as he swallowed heavily. They all looked up when Mista came into the room, Fugo giving him a weak grin.

“Doesn’t feel great,” he acquiesced and Mista nodded. He hadn’t felt all that sick, just in pain, but it seemed different than everyone. Plus that particular wound had looked way too deep, despite Fugo’s insistence that it just needed to be glued together - which Bucciarati had done when he’d tried to patch the guy up best he could.

Mista figured Giorno probably also used some of the glue to heal it and he moved closer to see where the gash had been. It looked healed for the most part, but there was some uneven skin patched together into a faint scar that looked pink against the white skin surrounding it.

“It was deeper than most things I’ve done before,” Giorno explained softly. “I have them too, Fugo, around my arms. I imagine I’ll get better with time, but…”

“No, it’s fine,” Fugo rasped with a wave of hand. “Scars are manly, right?”

Giorno gave him a weak smile in response just as Bucciarati appeared in the doorway. They looked at him and Mista noticed the way Fugo’s hand seemed to tighten in Narancia’s grip. Mista was shocked to see Narancia immediately turn back to Fugo to start whispering in his ear, acting like Bucciarati wasn’t there at all. Probably to try to distract him.

“Are you ready?” Bucciarati asked, but the question was as much for Fugo as it was for Giorno.

After a quick glance at his patient and a sharp, jerky nod from Fugo, Giorno nodded in agreement. Gold Experience appeared at his side as Sticky Fingers emerged from Bucciarati, the two Stands brushing against each other as they both reached out to Fugo at the same time.

There was a sharp intake of breath from Fugo as his jaw clenched so tight it looked like it might snap off and then Sticky Fingers grabbed the end of the zipper and pulled.

Mista had never heard Fugo scream like that before.

It cut off almost immediately, Giorno shoving something towards them - a piece of leather, Mista realized - and Narancia pushed it into Fugo’s mouth.

The blond bit down, white teeth streaked with blood looking like they’d sever the coarse leather in half. As a small bead of blood rolled down Fugo’s chin, Mista realized he must’ve bit his lip or his cheek or something, and that was why Giorno gave him the leather.

Bucciarati nodded at them and left the room as soon as the zipper was gone. Mista knew he probably wanted to stay, but he needed to get back to Abbacchio. To finish their talk. …Mista kind of wanted to follow him.

He forced himself to look back at Fugo instead and almost gagged.

Normally, when one of them got hurt, Bucciarati’s zippers fixed them up enough for the body to start healing on its own. That was how it was with Abbacchio’s hand, although Mista had noticed the way the skin had looked strange when the zipper had finally come off, sort of pillowy and white, but he hadn’t really thought much of it.

But none of them had been injured like that before. Fugo would have died from that without the zipper. That zipper was the only thing keeping him from bleeding out or dying of shock or from his ruptured organs, whichever would’ve come first.

Now that the zipper was gone, all that was left was the curving incision that stretched across his entire abdomen, the jagged edges from where he’d ripped it open further moving and fighting a dead gray color beneath the dark blood staining them. Mista was pretty sure you weren’t supposed to see what someone’s insides looked like when they were still alive, yet he could make out shapes within the mangled hole and the strange glint of white that he recognized as rib bone.

He’d had no idea it was that bad. Neither Fugo nor Bucciarati had even let him look, let alone help with the patching up.

Now he knew why.

Giorno was working quickly, grabbing bits and pieces of the green cloth that was continually ripped away to reveal more and more of the wound. The skin must’ve been pulled so taut across his chest, Mista thought vaguely, because there was no way that wound should be so wide, so deep, with the way the zipper had looked.

“You shouldn’t have kept moving,” Giorno admonished through gritted teeth, eyes not leaving from where his hands were slowly knitting torn muscle and blood vessels back together. “You should have let Bucciarati and Mista move you. You should have immediately told me; no one said it was this bad.”

Mista could hear the regret, the fear in Giorno’s voice, and he winced. If he had known it was like that, if they had said something, he would’ve said something! Instead, he’d sat out on the porch with Giorno and had fucking flirted and had the guy heal him - heal stuff that looked like papercuts or some shit compared to this.

Narancia looked like he was gonna cry but he stayed perfectly still, face set in stoney silence aside from his watery eyes as he held Fugo’s hand, his own fingers looking white from how hard the blond was squeezing it.

The wound was slowly mending, being closed up by Giorno and Gold Experience, growing smaller and smaller from the inside out as the blond moved along and Mista was struck with the sense that this whole scene was wrong.

Here Giorno was, a fifteen-year-old kid who’d probably never dealt with anything worse than a couple scrapes or broken bones, now repairing a mutilated stab wound for a guy that wasn’t even a year older than him.

What the fuck?

The world was fucked, he decided, shaking his head in disgust as he dropped to his knees beside Giorno and wordlessly began producing more strips of fabric and metal buttons from Fugo’s clothing to pass to Giorno.

By the time it was finished, Mista felt like a whole fucking year had passed them by. It had probably only been a few minutes, but he could only imagine how excruciating those minutes had to have felt, how long they must’ve lasted for Fugo if it felt that long to him.

Giorno pulled back with a soft exhale, his hands visibly shaking as Gold Experience disappeared back inside him. He swallowed thickly and looked up at Fugo, who had spat out the piece of leather the second they were finished and was now breathing heavily like he was trying to keep from-

Fugo leaned over to one side and vomited all over the floor.

Yeah, looked like he was trying not to do that.

Mista winced as the stomach bile mixed with blood hit the wooden planks, pulling back to keep from getting splashed by it. It didn’t really work, since he was the one closest to it, but luckily it was just from the few chunks that flew a little too far.

“Sorry,” Fugo rasped weakly and Mista instantly felt bad for pulling back.

“It’s fine, dude,” he answered, wincing at how shaky his own voice was. “It happens.”

“I’m sorry.” This time it came from Giorno and Mista looked at him with surprise as the blond looked guiltily at Fugo. “I don’t have a lot of practice, I should have tried to go faster but I wanted to get it right; I haven’t seen what the- what insides look like so it was more intuitive but-”

“Stop,” Fugo said, reaching up to wipe the trail of blood from his chin. “You… you did fine. I feel- I feel shitty but. But a normal shitty. Not a dying shitty.”

Giorno just nodded in response but he didn’t look like he felt any better. In fact, all of them looked sick, even though Fugo was really the only one who had any right to look that particular shade of green and white. Mista figured he probably didn’t look much better though.

“We should go upstairs,” he said, louder than he needed to but. But he did need to. “And go to bed. I’m sure we’re all ready to crash, yeah?”

Narancia, who had been quiet up until that point, nodded rapidly in agreement. “Y-Yeah! Come on Fugo, I’ll show you my room! There’s another bed, so you can sleep with me! And I have so much to tell you still, a-and I need you to catch me up on math and, um, I want to tell you about what Mista and I were arguing about and…”

“I know,” Fugo agreed when Narancia trailed off awkwardly. They’d all heard the forced cheer in his voice, and Mista thought it was oddly mature of him to try to help bring up the mood in the room. “I think you’ll have to help me though.”

Narancia nodded, not letting go of Fugo’s hand for a single second even as the blond staggered to his feet and had to grip the back of the chair to keep from toppling over. He put his arm over Narancia’s shoulder, the brunette pulling it so that it was wrapped steadily across him before grabbing Fugo’s waist with his free arm.

“It might take a while,” Fugo murmured quietly, already looking like he might throw up again, but Narancia just shook his head.

“We can go slow! It’ll be fun!” he insisted. “Like a three legged race or something!”

“We’ll clean up in here,” Mista offered and when Giorno nodded in agreement, Fugo and Narancia set off towards the bedrooms. It took them slow, careful steps to reach the door and Narancia repositioning Fugo uncharacteristically cautiously before he could open it, but then they were gone, the sound of the footsteps gone the moment the heavy office door slid shut.

Mista stared after them for a few seconds before looking back at Giorno. “Know where the cleaning supplies are?”

Giorno started a little, as if he wasn’t expecting Mista to speak, but gave him a quick nod and hurried out into the hall. A few seconds later, he returned with a bright yellow bucket of soapy water and a pile of towels.

“I was expecting this,” he explained when Mista gave him a funny look at the mountain of stuff he’d brought back. “Well, not this exactly, but I was concerned that… that it wouldn’t go as well as I hoped it would. I’m simply glad it’s just vomit and not…”

Mista didn’t need him to elaborate; he knew what the guy meant.

They worked in tandem, using some of the towels to mop up the puke - which, thank God, was mostly liquid - and then used the rest to clean off the floor itself, the soap helping to replace the stench of vomit and blood with a fresh citrusy scent.

“…You know it’s not your fault, right?”

Giorno looked surprised that Mista had spoken, his green gaze flicking from where he was scrubbing up a particularly stubborn blood stain to meet Mista’s. The way they immediately went down again gave Mista the answer he needed.

“Hey,” he said, tossing the towel down to stare directly at the blond. “You did great. He’s gonna be fine; Fugo’s a tough bastard, he-”

“Don’t you dare tell me he’s had worse,” Giorno interrupted, scowling at Mista as he paused his own cleaning.

Mista put his hands up in surrender.

“-he would come back from worse,” he finished, glad he hadn’t been about to say what Giorno thought he was. For his part, the blond looked a bit embarrassed that he’d been wrong. “Listen Giorno, we never had a guy like you on the team. One of us got banged up? Zippers and first aid were the best they were getting. And that ain’t always gonna work, we just got lucky up til now, that’s all.”

Giorno didn’t look convinced, so Mista tried a different approach. “Instead of thinking about what you could’ve done, you should think about what you did do.”

“That’s… quite insightful.”

“Bucciarati used to tell me that a lot, back when I first started,” Mista explained. “I made a lotta mistakes, y’know? And it was hard watching the guys pay for it just because I fucked up a mission or made too much noise or gave us away or something. But Bucciarati always told me to think about all the shit I did right and that I’d learn more that way.”

“For someone like you, I can see how that would work,” Giorno mused. “You seem the type to… how to put this. Not think?”

Mista snorted. “You should tell Fugo that later, he’d love that.”

“Was that rude? I didn’t mean to-”

“Nah, it’s fine, you’re right,” Mista waved off. “I didn’t ever really get what I shoulda done, even if they told me, so Bucciarati was definitely right. If it worked for me, maybe it’ll work for you? If I don’t think, you think too much.”

“How ironic, when I told you that just an hour ago.”

“Guess our thoughts’re just all over the place then,” Mista chuckled. “When I think too little, you think too much. Man, put us together and we’d be perfect.”

Giorno stared at him for a few seconds and then Mista realized how that sounded. “I-I just meant our brains, y’know?” he stammered in embarrassment. “N-Not, um, that we should-”

“I don’t know, Mista,” Giorno interrupted him coyly. “I think we’re quite the pair regardless.”

Mista felt his face heat even more, but as he reached to grab his towel, he noticed out of the corner of his eye as a small grin crossed Giorno’s face. So he’d succeeded, just at the cost of making a fool of himself. Oh well, not like he didn’t do that all the time anyway.

They went back to work in silence, but the atmosphere wasn’t as heavy as before, an air of companionship settling into the room. By the time they’d finished, there was no sign of the blood and vomit that had covered that part of the office.

Mista imagined that was sort of the point of this kind of soundproof room anyway - although meant for their enemies, not their own.

“I told Bucciarati to leave the new clothes he’d bought for Fugo out in the sitting room,” Giorno said to him as they left the office. “Although I doubt neither Fugo nor Narancia noticed it. We’ll have to bring it up to them.”

“I’ll grab them,” Mista offered, veering off towards the room Giorno had mentioned. He grabbed the bag that Bucciarati had carried inside the house, taking a peek inside. All he could make out was the vivid pink fabric and he couldn’t help but grimace.

Well, if Fugo liked wearing lime green, he probably wouldn’t have a problem with fuschia.

Chapter Text

As Giorno and Mista passed by the kitchen on their way to the staircase, Mista couldn’t help but notice that it was vacant. So Bucciarati and Abbacchio were outside again. Both doors were shut this time and Mista hoped that was just because Bucciarati remembered this time and not because they’d discovered he’d heard them.

The stairs were dark, all the lights off on the second floor. As they ascended, the wood creaked beneath their feet, echoing down the hallway in the dull silence. It seemed too quiet, but Mista supposed that after everything that had gone on, no one would be too cheery.

“I believe it’s this room that Narancia chose.” Giorno’s voice cut through the silence as he pointed towards a closed wooden door, a thin stream of light beneath it the only sign that someone was inside.

Mista nodded. “I can pass it off to them. Why don’t you go crash, dude?”

“Nonsense, I’m-”

“Dude, Giorno, my man, you’re gorgeous no matter what the fuck you’re doing and I get that, but honestly? You look like shit right now.”

Giorno must’ve been too shocked by Mista’s blunt choice of words to comment on the very obvious so-maybe-I’m-a-little-gay statement, since he just stared at Mista with those big green eyes of his slightly wider than normal.

In the light, Giorno had been too pale and too dim, the vibrance that was part of why Mista was so attracted to him slipping at the edges. His golden braid was loose, messy, sticking out all over, his emerald eyes dark and glinting with something dangerous, purple shadows and gaunt expression making him look more like a spectre than human.

“…I suppose I could use a shower,” he said quietly and Mista decided to count that as a win.

Slapping him lightly on the back, Mista shot him a grin. “Go take one then. Out of all of us, you probably deserve it the most. I’ll come find you after, ‘kay?”

Giorno nodded and disappeared into the darkness of the hallway when he turned around, even his golden blond hair winking out of sight.

It had looked like even his hair had sort of lost its luster, and though Mista didn’t know much about personal hygiene care aside from the basics, he knew enough that hair didn’t just change colors if you hadn’t washed it. Maybe it wasn’t anything wrong with Giorno, he realized, maybe it was him. Maybe the colors seemed duller, maybe the bright world he was used to was dimmer than he remembered, maybe it had been consumed by the weight that seemed to hang over their heads, casting shadows on everything they did.

Mista had dealt with his fair share of shadows before, but none this dark.

He sighed, shaking his head as he knocked on the door in front of him. Now wasn’t the time to be thinking about it. Which brought him to the question of when. When? When could he think about it and not feel guilty? Did he even have any right to feel guilty to begin with? And if he didn’t, then what about-

“What?”

If he hadn’t been staring at the door and watching as it opened, he would’ve jumped ten feet in the air. As it was, he only jumped two.

Narancia stared at him like he grew a second head - which honestly wasn’t that weird when you had Stands, so maybe he should think of a better analogy.

“Yo,” Mista greeted, holding out the bag between them. “Got a present for Fugo.”

Narancia took it, pulled the bag open and stared. His face scrunched up at the contents, sticking his tongue out as he closed it again. “Ugh. That’s nasty but-”

“Perfect for Fugo,” they both said at the same time, nodding in agreement.

Narancia looked up and grinned widely at Mista, who couldn’t help but smile back. Narancia was just like that sometimes. He’d be like that more if he let go of his anger issues, but hey, he wouldn’t be a good match for Fugo without ‘em, Mista thought.

“I’ll leave ‘em by his bed!” Narancia said, pointing over his shoulder. Mista leaned over him to peer into the room.

The light was coming from a lamp on the far side of the room by an empty bed, the dim golden glow barely reaching them in the doorway. The other bed, which looked like it had been pushed from the wall it was next to to be within reach of the bed by the lamp, held a lump with the covers pulled all the way up. When Mista looked close, he could see the soft rising and falling of the sheets.

“He fell asleep the second he hit the bed,” Narancia snickered, whispering these words as if sharing an inside joke. “I’ll never let him say I should have a bedtime ever again.”

“It’s just ‘cause you pass out after eleven normally,” Mista grinned back. “Just like a kid, so cute, Naranino!”

Narancia scowled angrily but he ground out through clenched teeth, “You’re dead, Mista. When I can be loud, when Fugo wakes up, you’re fucking dead.”

Mista sniffed dramatically, swingin an arm around Narancia’s shoulders. “Not wanting to wake his friend? Our little boy is growing up! Whatever should I tell your mommy, not getting to witness such a crucial moment of growth in his son’s life.”

“I just have to kill you before Bucciarati finds out,” Narancia whined. “Better sleep with one eye open, asshole!” Then his frown twisted into a leer as he added, “But since you’re rooming with Giorno, you probably won’t sleep anyway, huh?”

“Not you too,” he groaned. “C’mon man, you can’t kill me if you’re already dead.” Mista pulled Narancia out into the hall, shutting the door just to be safe. They’d both be dead if they woke Fugo up, accident or not.

“I didn’t know you were gay, Mista,” Narancia teased.

Mista rolled his eyes. “Man, two nosy bitches on this squad, who’da thunk?”

“I heard it all, Fugo told me everything, you can’t hide it from me, I know!” Now that he was safely outside the room, Narancia didn’t seem to have any qualms with being loud. “You owe me a thousand- no! Ten thousand favors if you don’t want me to tell! No, wait, I got it, I’ll help you out, it’ll be great, I’m the perfect wingman, just ask Aero-”

“Shut the fuck up!” Mista hissed, slapping his hand over Narancia’s mouth. “Do you wanna tell the whole fucking world?! Good God!”

Narancia rolled his eyes and bit. Hard.

“Fuck-”

“Fugo tried that and it didn’t work, so there,” Narancia pouted, crossing his arms over his chest and sticking out his tongue.

Mista tried his best to glare at the shorter boy but it probably didn’t seem all that scary, what with the wide grin stuck across his face. Now that he was here with Narancia, things seemed perfectly normal, like they always did, but. But he’d almost lost this. God.

He pulled the brunet into a headlock, much to Narancia’s chagrin as he sighed. “I’m glad you’re safe, little dude,” he murmured into the mess of tangles that Narancia called hair. It smelled faintly of oranges.

Narancia stopped fidgeting in his grip and stilled, hands clasping Mista’s arm that was placed over his neck. It was as close to a hug as the two were willing to go, because they were both manly men and manly men didn’t hug nobody. Except maybe their moms and the occasional romantic partner.

“Me too,” came the soft voice from beneath his chin and Mista’s smile softened. “I’m happy you came back okay, Mista. I was scared.”

“You? Scared? Never,” Mista teased but he tightened his grip all the same when he felt the brunet’s shoulders quake beneath him. “‘Sides, nothing was gonna happen, I was with them. You know me, too much of a badass to let shit go south.”

“More like sadass,” Narancia grumbled and Mista grinned through the rough noogie the smaller boy got in retaliation.

“Get some sleep, kid,” Mista said when they separated. “I saw whatcha did with the beds; no doubt Fugo’ll need that. ‘Specially tonight.”

“I’ll be ready,” Narancia nodded firmly, pumping his fists as determination settled onto his features. He looked more ready to go into battle than just help a friend through nightmares, but who knows, Fugo’s nightmares probably were a battle.

“Night, dude.”

“Good night!” Narancia called back as he disappeared into the room, the door clicking shut softly behind him.

It was only when Mista was left alone in the hallway that he realized he had no idea which room was gonna be his and Giorno’s, and he had no desire to accidentally wake Trish, which would no doubt be the last thing he did before she murdered him for trying to ‘peek.’

Deciding he didn’t really have any other choice, he plopped down on the top of the stairs, head in his hands as he started picking at a loose thread on his sweater as Pistols emerged and flitted about down the hall to check the other rooms on the floor. Or rather, One, Two, Six, and Seven left. Three immediately started kicking Five when the little pistol tried to stay with Mista instead and he didn’t really have much choice but to let them both stay while trying to subdue Three with promises of getting Giorno to make him hot cocoa later. That only brought the others back, whining loudly about how they wouldn’t work for nothing while Five burst into tears over being left out and honestly, maybe he shoulda just risked Trish’s wrath.

“You guys’ll all get some, just late, okay? Go on, get back to sleep,” he chided, holding out his gun for them. They complained and moaned but obeyed (thank God) and One sleepily murmured that it’d seen Giorno’s clothes sitting on a bed in one of the rooms.

As inefficient as it was, it got the job done and now Mista was standing in the doorway of the room One had pointed out, a lamp turned on on one side of the room and light spilling from a crack under an adjacent door, the sound of running water muffled by the heavy wood. True to its word, Giorno’s purpley-pink suit was folded atop… the bed. The singular bed.

Hoo boy.

Okay, hold on, Giorno had to have known that there was only one bed already, he wouldn’t have said Mista could room with him if- wait. He hadn’t said that either, had he? Giorno had made no mention of the bedroom situation, but there was only three up here, surely he probably put two and two together? But wait, if there was only three, then where would Bucciarati and- nope, you know what? Mista didn’t wanna know.

Worst case scenario, he’d sleep on the couch, right? A place to sleep was a place to sleep; he didn’t care where it was all that much. Still, he’d said he’d find Giorno after dropping the clothes off, so he should just wait here for the blond to finish up and then talk to him after.

There was an armchair underneath a large window backed against the far side of the room, so Mista fell into that easily enough, the soft, cushiony fabric helping to take the edge off. Man, this was probably the most relaxed he’d been since this all started a week or so ago.

The pink fabric caught Mista’s eye and he stared at the suit on the edge of the bed. If he looked closely, he could make out discolored spaces that likely were from the ridiculous amount of blood spilt over the last few days. The ladybug brooch on the left side stared vacantly back at him, and Mista had to wonder if that brooch even had any of the original one left in it, or if Giorno kept pulling them out of wherever. He should do some laundry tomorrow, he decided, and he’d offer to do Giorno’s too. Clean clothes always felt nice.

Wait, Giorno was showering right now, wasn’t he? And if his suit was there, and Mista hadn’t seen any other clean clothes, and Bucciarati had only bought new ones for Fugo, then… then what was Giorno going to-

The door opened, light and steam pouring into the bedroom as Giorno stepped out, fluffy pale pink towel wrapped snugly around his waist as he tousled his blond locks with a smaller one hung around the back of his neck.

Fuck.

“Oh, Mista, you’re here,” he said, apparently not seeing anything at all wrong with the situation, even as Mista felt his throat dry up as he took in the sight of Giorno nearly naked in front of him.

Flawless creamy skin flushed pink from the hot shower, rivulets of water dripping down his manicured torso, the barest hint of golden hair trailing down his perfect v, smooth muscles rippling with every movement, blond hair falling around his shoulders and into his emerald eyes, what kind of Greek god bullshit was this?

“Mista?”

“S-Sorry!” he squeaked, clearing his throat as he tore his eyes away. Seriously, it has to be a sin to look that good, holy fuck. “Yeah, uh, you should um. G-Get dressed.”

“Indeed,” Giorno agreed. Mista heard the creak of floorboards as the blond padded across the floor to the bedside and when the rustling of fabric reached his ears, he swallowed. Curse his stupid teenage brain for imagining what would be underneath the alluring towel. “I’m not keen on wearing the same clothes again, but I suppose there’s no other choice. We don’t exactly have many resources right now.”

“At least you’re clean, right?” Mista replied in what he thought was a very convincing nonchalant tone. “Like ya said, no other options.”

“Mm,” Giorno grunted in acknowledgement as there was a bit more rustling and movement before the blond finally said, “I’m done, Mista.”

Mista turned back to look at him and sighed in relief. Pink pants were on, jacket pulled over his shoulders and he was in the process of buttoning it when Mista was able to look back.

“You didn’t need to look away,” Giorno teased, shooting a sly grin at Mista as he said, “We’re both men, after all. Nothing you haven’t seen before, I’m sure.”

“Yeah, not like that,” Mista muttered under his breath.

“What was that?”

“I said where am I gonna sleep?” he answered, this time being his turn to smirk at Giorno’s frown since it was obviously not what he’d said. “There’s only one bed, dude.”

“Yes, but it’s a very large one. I assumed we would share.”

Mista’s eyes widened marginally. That wasn’t what he’d expected; not ‘could’ but ‘would,’ as if Giorno had no doubts that Mista wouldn’t want to. Which, like, valid, he did want to, but still. It was the whole premise of sharing a bed that Mista thought Giorno might not like that. Hell, the guy looked like some kinda elegant rich boy that Mista would never meet normally.

“You sure you don’t mind sharing?” he asked, careful with his wording because God forbid Giorno thought he might have a problem with it. Hell no.

“I’ve slept in far worse conditions, Mista,” Giorno said dryly. “A queen sized bed is a luxury I thought I would never experience at all, disregarding sharing it with another person. Are you sure you don’t mind?”

“Wha- no! Of course not! I would love ta sleep with ya- shit, wait, that came out wrong.”

Giorno chuckled as Mista tried to regain control of his goddamn tongue. “Well then we have no issues. Although…” he trailed off as he walked closer, bending down to look Mista in the eye as he murmured, “You won’t do anything, right?”

“What?!” he all but shrieked, face heating to what felt like the surface of the sun as he jerked back. The chair knocked backwards, wobbling on its two legs before it righted itself, knocking over a potted plant to its right in the process. “N-No, no way, I would never, I’m not that kinda guy, I-”

Giorno burst into laughter and Mista was stunned into silence. He must’ve looked ridiculous but for the guy to start laughing like that- it made his heart do these weird little flip flops that were probably not a very good thing to be having when they were literally fighting for their lives. It was fucking beautiful. Giorno was fucking beautiful.

“I meant that you don’t snore or move in your sleep?” Giorno prompted when Mista didn’t say anything else. “What did you think I meant, Mista?”

“That… th-that’s what I thought you meant,” Mista said rapidfire, shaking any last weird thoughts from his brain. “And ‘course not, I’m the picture of grace, Giorno. I would never.”

“Picture of grace, hmm?” Giorno chuckled as he pulled back and moved towards the bed again to start turning it down to get into. “Perhaps the picture of grace should pick up the plant he knocked over?”

“I meant to do that,” Mista muttered sheepishly as he stood and grabbed the porcelain pot, glad it didn’t have any cracks as he righted it again. Not much dirt fell out so he just grabbed what he could and thrust it back into the pot.

“I’m gonna go use the toilet,” he said to Giorno as he straightened up and headed towards the bathroom, the golden light, clean water, and warm steam seeming awfully appealing right about now. “Be out soon.”

“Alright. Oh, and Mista?”

“Hmm?” Mista called over his shoulder as he moved to shut the door. He looked to see Giorno standing in front of him, smirking softly as he eyed him with a foreign emotion in those green eyes.

“Don’t worry,” he said as he took hold of the door. “I know exactly what you thought I meant. Good night.”

The door clicked shut and Mista was left staring at the wooden door.

Wha- What the fuck. Shit. What the fuck did he say to that? Did Giorno have any fucking idea what the fuck he did to Mista?

Of course he did. And he didn’t. Well fuck.

Chapter Text

A soft whine followed by a grunt echoed through the dark bedroom, disrupting the silence that had settled over it for the past few hours or so.

Narancia opened his eyes slowly, blinking sleep from them as he took in the room. Moonlight was streaming in from the window on the far side, shedding enough light to be able to make out the shapes of the furniture scattered about. He sat up with a groan to flip the pillow the other way, seeking out the cool side of the soft fabric and totally not just avoiding the drool on the pillow, he was too cool to drool- hey that rhymed! Tupac would be proud.

Wait, he was getting distracted, the fuck was he awake? Just a second ago, he’d been eating margherita pizza atop the Eiffel Tower with Snoop and now he wasn’t and he was pissed.

There was a groan to his left and he flopped back down to look at the person on the bed next to his, pout already in place to complain.

It had been Narancia’s idea to push the two twin beds together but Fugo hadn’t protested like the brunet thought he would. Instead, he’d just muttered some form of agreement and Narancia had insisted that Fugo get on the bed he’d use first so he could push him along with the bed, so he could show off how cool and strong he was and that Fugo could leave it all to him!

In the end, he’d barely managed to move it a few centimeters, but he counted it as a victory when Fugo had just smiled and congratulated him. Puffing out his chest in pride, he’d moved the other bed much easier, proclaiming that it was better this way anyway because they’d be closer to the window and fresh air was good for your health.

Fugo hadn’t even pointed out that the windows were closed and fresh air couldn’t even enter the room anyway.

Narancia had claimed the bed closest to the window and by the time he’d gotten out of the toilet, Fugo had already passed out on the other one. He thought it was cute, the blond was finally acting like the little kid Narancia always knew he was; after all, a year was a big difference! He had to show off how he was the cool older one every once in a while.

He’d fallen asleep pretty quickly once Mista had left, dumping the clothes in the chair by the closet and climbing into bed himself. It had been a few days since they last got to sleep in a bed and he was gonna take full advantage of it, thank you very much!

It seemed that sleep wasn’t gonna be all that easy though. The sounds that had woken him up were coming from Fugo’s bed and Narancia pulled the sheet from over the blond boy’s head to take a look.

Fugo’s eyes were closed but his brow was furrowed, pallor near white in the moonlight as he scowled. His lips were parted, soft whimpers escaping from the opening every so often as beads of sweat trickled from his brow down his cheek.

Narancia’s first instinct was to go run for Bucciarati. What if Fugo was sick again? What if Giorno hadn't fixed him? What if something was seriously wrong?

But then he remembered something Fugo had told him a long time, back when they'd first met.

...

After Bucciarati had fed him, he'd called an ambulance. Narancia didn't remember that much, just that everything had been blurry and loud and he was too relieved and too happy to stay awake properly. The next conscious thing he'd remembered was waking up covered in sweat in an unfamiliar room that stunk of antibacterial. The hospital.

He could feel his breath starting to come too fast; the memories of his mother in here rushing through his brain. Oh God, he was gonna die too wasn't he? Only sick people went to the hospital and only really sick ones stayed and didn't that mean his eye was never gonna get better? It wouldn't be fixed, he'd never be able to go back to his dad, they'd throw him out of the hospital since he couldn't pay, he'd be back on the streets and-

A soft grunt came from his left side and he spun to look.

There was a blond kid laying there, in the blind spot of his good eye so he hadn't noticed him before. He looked familiar and it took Narancia a minute to realize it was the guy from the alley who'd got him pasta.

The boy inhaled sharply, eyes fluttering open as his lavender gaze came to rest on Narancia. He shifted carefully, sitting up so that their fingers remained entwined-

Wait, they were holding hands? When’d that happen? Wasn't that dirty?

Narancia yanked his hand away, eyeing the blond boy guiltily as he muttered, “It’s gross. You shouldn't do that.”

The blond widened his eyes in surprise before looking down at the floor sheepishly. “You were moaning in your sleep and looked like you were discontent and I read that physical contact helps with nightmares, so… my apologies, I didn't think you would be grossed out.”

“Eh, no, that's…” what else should he say? Narancia hadn't thought anyone would ever touch him kindly again after he'd got his mom's disease, but this boy was just so uncaring about it. It was weird and it made his chest feel all tight.

“My eye,” he muttered finally. “It's all bad and looks nasty. You might get it, so touching me is gross.”

The blond had looked at him for a few seconds before grinning and grabbing his hand again. “It's not gross at all. Trust me, I deal with a much scarier disease all the time.”

He said that proudly, looking out the window as he spoke and Narancia looked too but he couldn't see anything there. This kid was weird. But nice. Also nice.

...

That was one of his most treasured memories- not that he'd ever admit that to Fugo. Fugo had been talking about Purple Haze, Narancia knew that now, and yeah, compared to what Haze could do, Narancia figured his eye disease wasn't even close to the same level.

But it was how Fugo had described the way he'd looked and acted that had made Narancia recall the memory. This was a nightmare, probably a really not good one based on how angry Fugo looked in his sleep.

Holding hands seemed a little weird though and it gave him a funny feeling in his chest as he considered it. They were both grown up now, and it wasn't very manly or cool to hold hands with another guy.

Still, he wasn’t just gonna do nothing, Fugo was his best friend after all! He was a great guy who always helped Narancia out and even taught him math and other stuff, even if he stabbed him a few times, but Narancia stabbed him back so he wasn’t gonna hold that against him.

He couldn’t help Fugo with that weirdo he’d told him about, but he could help him now!

Narancia settled back onto his bed, scooting as close to the crevice between the two as he could without falling into it. Then he reached under the covers, pushing his hand into the tight ball Fugo had curled himself into until he found the blond boy’s fingers clenched tightly into a fist that bunched around the sheets.

It took a little bit of wiggling around, but Narancia managed to get him to unclench his fist long enough to entwine their fingers together, replacing the cold sheets with his own warmth. There wasn’t much else he could do because he didn’t wanna wake Fugo up. Bucciarati had told him that sometimes nightmares made people confused and scared if they were disrupted and that it was better if they woke up on their own, after facing it themselves. Narancia didn’t really understand what he meant, but Fugo seemed like the type of guy to just punch his bad dreams in the face.

“It’s okay,” he whispered as quietly as he could manage, using his free hand to pull his pillow over so that he could rest his head just a few inches away from Fugo’s. “You’ll be okay, Fugo. It’s all okay. Everything’s okay.”

He continued to whisper what he hoped was calming stuff until he felt Fugo’s hand soften against his own, the crease in his brow not as prominent anymore. Narancia didn’t know if he was really helping or not, but he liked to think so.

And when he eventually fell back asleep, Fugo’s whimpers didn’t wake him again.


Mista woke up to sunlight streaming in through the window, curtains opened at some point during the day (night?) and it looked to be a beautiful sunny day outside, clear blue sky lighting up the white walls of the bedroom.

He debated going back to sleep for a minute or two before finally deciding that he may as well get up. He had to take a piss anyway.

Giorno had gotten up before him, judging by the vacant spot next to his in the bed, any remnant of human warmth long gone. The blond was probably the one who opened the curtains. It looked like he’d also tidied up the room a little, towels from his shower now missing from the spot where he’d dumped them on the floor and Mista’s sweater folded neatly on the chair beside the bed.

Stretching his arms overhead, Mista figured he’d throw it on later since the room was pretty warm and headed to the bathroom to freshen up.

One look in the mirror and he realized he needed to shave. Dark brown stubble was beginning to grow along his chin and cheeks, forming sideburns that he knew from experience were not a good look on him. Maybe Bucciarati or Abbacchio had a razor he could use later. For now, washing his face and tousling some warm water through his hair was as good as it was gonna get; the house wasn’t exactly lived in before this.

The hall was warm and inviting when he pulled the door open, light from the windows at the end of it brightening up the dark interior from the night before. One of the doors was still closed, the one further down from hsi and Girono’s room, but the other one was open. So Fugo and Narancia were both awake already as well.

How late was it anyway? After taking a quick look, his eyes found a clock hanging over the stairs, reading a little after ten. Honestly, he was kinda surprised the guys let him sleep this long.

As he headed towards the kitchen, he could hear familiar voices echoing from the doorway.

Narancia, Fugo, and Abbacchio were seated around the table, Narancia chattering away aimlessly, something about cows and teeth, while Fugo looked like he was debating whether he should’ve come back or not. Still, there was fondness in his eyes. Abbacchio ignored them both, eyes fixed on Bucciarati who was helping prepare what Mista assumed was breakfast.

He and Giorno were flitting around the small kitchen, taking turns looking over whatever was sizzling on the stovetop while Giorno also made coffee and Bucciarati cleaned the dishes left in the sink the night before.

“Hey, you’re up!” Narancia’s cheery voice pulled his attention from where he was studying the blond’s figure. “I thought you mighta been dead!”

“What’re ya saying, this’s early,” Mista answered as he headed to the table, scratching his chest as he bit back a yawn.

“You look like a homeless thug,” Fugo said disdainfully, eyeing Mista’s rumpled appearance. “At least put on some damn clothes.”

“You’re just jealous of my six pack,” Mista sneered. He pulled one of the chairs out from the table and fell into it with a sigh. Fugo rolled his eyes and Mista noted that he looked way better than he had yesterday, the sickly white pallor gone from his skin. He was wearing the hot pink suit Bucciarati had got him, and Mista had to admit, the color looked good on him, although how he’d already found the time to cut holes in it, Mista had no damn clue.

“I hope you rested well, Mista,” Bucciarati said, smiling at him as he set a mug of steaming hot coffee down in front of Abbacchio. “Would you like some as well?”

It smelled damn amazing, and Mista said as much. Bucciarati nodded and went to grab another mug from the cupboard.

“When’d y’all have time to get all this stuff?” he questioned, confused where all the food had come from.

“I bought some basic necessities during our pit stop yesterday on the way here,” Bucciarati explained, and really, what else did Mista expect. Leave it to the mom of the group to be sure all their basic needs were met.

“Eggs are done,” Giorno interjected, moving a pan off the burner as he finally looked over at them all. Mista noticed how the blond’s eyes seemed to settle on him for a split second longer than the others and suddenly he was glad he’d left his shirt off.

“Finally! I’m starv- ow!”

“Mind your manners, dipshit,” Fugo scolded, pulling his hand back from where he’d smashed Narancia’s head into the table. “Say thanks first.”

Narancia looked like he wanted to say more than just that, but instead he bit his lip and muttered, “Thank you Bucciarati, thank you Giorno.”

Fugo looked way too smug and Mista wondered how long Narancia trying to hold back from fighting Fugo would last. The guy was pretty much fine again and would probably get bored of Narancia not responding to his provocations, so Mista’d bet money on less than a day. Better enjoy the peace while it lasted, before they went back to trying to kill each other.

A plate with eggs and toast was set down in front of him and Mista looked up to see Giorno smiling softly down at him. “Two sunny-side up. I hope they’re to your taste.”

Feeling rather bold, Mista grinned back.

“Well seeing as you're to my taste, I’m sure they’ll be great.”

Giorno rolled his eyes as he walked back to the counter to get more plates but Mista saw the faintest hint of red on the blond’s ears.

When Narancia made a retching sound and Fugo joined in, Mista debated the merits of just killing them both now and being done with it.

Chapter Text

Mista was the last to join the group in the kitchen, and even though he’d been hoping for a different outcome, Bucciarati had expected as much.

From what he’d been told, the group that went ahead to Sardegnia had been saved by Trish awakening her Stand. He’d had his suspicions ever since noticing that handprint in the dirt after the Grateful Dead fight and now those were confirmed.

Thanks to her quick thinking, Trish had managed to rescue Giorno’s hand and had used Spice Girl to rip off Abbacchio’s arm where the remnants of the Stand had gathered by making the flesh and bone soft enough to tear. They’d all recovered, Abbacchio had told him the night before, and his arm was good as new thanks to Giorno. Well, Bucciarati said it was thanks to Giorno. Abbacchio had just scoffed and said he’d be fine with just one arm.

He was worried about her.

The poor girl had been thrust into such a confusing scenario right after the passing of her mother, such a tumultuous time regardless. Now she awakened a strange power after her own father had tried to kill her and witnessed such horrible violence and- and she was only fifteen.

Perhaps it was a bit hypocritical of him to wish that his younger subordinates would have been spared from seeing the monstrosities of the world, as he’d been even younger than all of them when he joined Passione, but he had no other choice at the time.

No other choice that would be satisfying, that would sit well enough in his stomach that he wouldn’t get sick at night.

Although he wasn’t going to get sick ever again, now was he?

There were still many things he had to do, however, before he could allow himself to leave, and the first thing on that long list was to talk to Trish.

The others had all received their breakfast by now, tomatoes and eggs and prosciutto, along with coffee for those who wanted it. Bucciarati was fairly certain that Narancia’s cup was more sugar and milk than coffee, but he supposed he could let it slide this once. The boy needed to learn how to start managing on his own, after all.

“You not gonna eat, Bucciarati?”

That was Mista asking, in the middle of stuffing his face with half an entire tomato while trying to keep Sex Pistols from attacking his plate.

“He better,” Abbacchio growled, fixing Bruno with a look that made it quite clear he wasn’t getting off if he didn’t eat anything.

How to avoid the meal this time, then. He couldn’t exactly eat anymore, but the matter hadn’t been an issue whilst dealing with Fugo. Although the blond was quite observant, he had been far too injured to process the way Bucciarati fed them both but not himself, and Mista just wasn’t paying attention anyway. Leone, however, would be a different story.

“Of course I intend to,” he explained calmly, hesitating in the doorway. “But we’re missing someone; I plan to check on them first.”

That answer seemed to satisfy Abbacchio, who huffed in irritation but went back to eating, headphones sliding into place over his ears.

“Oh! Tell Trish she should come eat with us! And tell her that I wanna talk to her more!” Narancia exclaimed, food flying out of his overstuffed mouth as he spoke. “And that I thought of some cool stuff we can do and I wanna see her Stand again and-”

“Close your damn mouth, dumbass!” Fugo smacked him upside the head, diverting Narancia’s sudden anger to himself. Parrying the switchblade that was now flying around his head, Fugo nodded at Bucciarati.

Sending the blond a grateful smile, he slipped from the room and down the hall, not missing the way Giorno was examining him suspiciously.

He couldn’t hide this from the blond much longer; although he had been the one to revive Bucciarati, he would also be the first to pick up on the lack of life his body seemed to hold now. In fact, Bruno was mildly surprised that Giorno hadn’t noticed by now, even if he had recognized that something was wrong.

It wasn’t his fault, of course, but Bucciarati feared Giorno wouldn’t see it that way and he had decided to hide it for as long as possible.

His body was giving out sooner than he’d hoped, the stiffness in his limbs even starting to fade into the absence of feeling at all. The one time he’d attempted to eat, he could feel the way the food sat in his stomach, not digesting, not moving, just sitting there immobile. It was such a horribly uncomfortable feeling that he had stopped after a single bite. Now he couldn’t even tell he had a stomach at all.

How long, he wondered to himself as he ascended the staircase to Trish’s room, did he have before it gave out entirely? And would that be enough time to stop the Boss? To do all that he still needed to do?

Although he knew the answer to that last question. Of course not.

Stopping in front of the wooden door, he cleared his throat before knocking. It wouldn’t do to have such thoughts when he was attempting to soothe another.

“Trish?” he called through the door, not wanting to wake her if she was still asleep. He could hear movement in the room though, a shuffling of sorts, and a few seconds later, the door creaked open and the girl’s pink hair poked through as she peered out at him.

“What is it?” she asked quietly, a trace of slight annoyance in her voice, and Bucciarati wondered if he disturbed her in the middle of something.

“I came to check if you were up,” he explained gently. “You had a very long day yesterday; I didn’t want to wake you if you were still resting.”

“Like I could,” she muttered under her breath and Bruno felt a pinch of sympathy for the girl. He’d hoped she’d be able to sleep alright, but judging from the circles under her eyes, that hadn’t been the case.

“Well, if you’re feeling up for it, would you like something to eat? I know it’s a bit late for breakfast, but we all needed the chance to sleep in a little.”

“I’m not that hungry,” Trish said softly, gripping the door tighter as she averted her gaze.

Bucciarati frowned.

“Trish, I know these past few days have been… very difficult for you, but I would encourage you to eat at least a slice of bread or a pastry. It wouldn’t do for you to not keep up your strength, and I can tell you're a very strong girl. We’ll all get through this. Together. I hope you know you aren’t alone in this.”

She looked at him for a few seconds, green eyes unreadable in the morning light, and Bucciarati sighed internally. Although he’d had his hands full with his gang, he wished he had learned to deal with young girls as well as boys at some point; he wasn’t sure what else to say.

“…Would you like me to bring you something?” he offered at last, smiling gently down at her.

Trish seemed to start a little at that, flushing as she averted her eyes to the ground again. “Not really,” she said. “It’s fine.”

“…Well I won’t force you,” Bucciarati said with a sigh. “But perhaps you’ll come down a little later? I was told by Narancia that he has many things he’d like to talk to you about.”

“Okay,” she answered, shutting the door rather abruptly. Still, he was fairly sure he’d caught a glimpse of a smile on her pink lips the instant before the crack in the door closed. Deciding there was nothing more he could do at the moment, he made his way back downstairs.

As he entered the small eating area again, Abbacchio immediately honed in on him and beckoned him over.

“Eat something,” he commanded, wrapping an arm firmly around Bucciarati’s waist from where he sat in his chair. The warmth was nice, although Bucciarati was pretty sure that was because he, himself, felt no warmth or chill within his body now. Eventually Leone would notice; he’d need to start distancing himself soon.

It hurt to admit that.

“C’mon, here.” He held up a small chocolate pastry, the kind that Bucciarati had always loved to eat back when he - when he was alive. Yes, alive. How strange this all was.

“Leone, I couldn’t, that’s yours,” he denied, pushing it back towards the older man with a gentle swish of his hand.

Abbacchio’s face twisted into a scowl but before he could say anything, another voice cut him off.

“Bucciarati, I set your food aside in the refrigerator for when you’re hungry. You shouldn’t have snacked so much while we were making the food; I told you you would be too full now.”

Giorno’s unwavering green gaze didn’t so much as flinch as Abbacchio rounded on the blond, clearly ready to (attempt to) tear him a new one. Bucciarati thought he noticed concern there as he flashed him a grateful smile.

“You can shove that plate up your-”

“Thank you Giorno,” Bucciarati cut off before Leone could launch into whatever spiel he had been planning. Honestly, why did those two not get along? Bruno had thought Leone would like Giorno of all things, his personality quite similar to the blond’s. Maybe that was why?

“I appreciate your thoughtfulness,” he continued, pulling the chair next to Abbacchio out so he could sit down beside his partner.

Giorno nodded, not saying another word, but the look in his eyes made Bucciarati swallow. He couldn’t hide this much longer, could he?

“Didn’t take ya for a snacker while makin’ food,” Mista drawled, completely oblivious to the tension that had settled in the room. “But I guess there’s lots we don’t know about ya, huh?”

Alright, maybe not.

Those dark eyes of the gunman were a bit disconcerting and Bruno was reminded of the discussion they’d had in the drive to Russelae.

“I’d say we don’t know a lot about everyone here,” Fugo cut in at that moment, fixing Mista with a quick glower before shifting the topic. “Maybe you should think of something to answer any questions you have to pass the time then?”

“Oooh, good idea!” Narancia exclaimed excitedly, pumping his arms as he started to list all the games he knew of. “There’s truth and dare, two truths and a lie, never have I ever, poker-”

“Poker? What does that have to do with personal stuff?”

“You idiot Mista, people make all kindsa faces playing poker! There’s a lot you can tell about a dude that way!”

“I’d say you’re insane but you actually make an interesting point,” Fugo mused, ruffling the brunet’s hair. To Bucciarati’s surprise, Narancia simply grinned at the younger boy instead of yelling at him for treating him like a child. When did those two get so close?

Or maybe they had always been that way.

His memories were fuzzier of late.

As the three boys debated what to play, Bucciarati took a moment to truly just breathe. Well, figuratively. He couldn’t actually breathe anymore after all. The feeling itself was strange, or rather, the absence of feeling. At first glance, his body looked normal. Cut it open, however, and what you would find… he didn’t know.

Perhaps Fugo would know, having a much better understanding of anatomy and physiology than Bruno, but that would mean telling the blond about his condition. He could only imagine how horribly that would go.

In an ideal world, he would leave them all after everything was finished, with no one knowing until it was too late. Until he was no longer there to see them grieve and wish he could feel the pain that their crying faces would bring. But this world was not ideal. He had learned that far too many times to trust in it.

A soft noise to the left of the room drew his attention, and he looked over to see Trish standing in the doorway of the kitchen.

She looked apprehensive, as if she was nervous to be in the same room as them all despite having travelled together for nearly a week now. Maybe it was the intimacy of it all, dining together like a family, that frightened her.

Before Bucciarati could say anything, Narancia was on his feet, bouncing over to her with all the excitement of a kid in a candy store.

“Trish, you came down!” he exclaimed, grabbing her hand to lead her to the table, “Good, good, I got so much to tell you, sit here, sit by me, okay? Fugo, move your dumb ass over!”

“Shut up, asshole!” Fugo snapped indignantly but obeyed anyway as Narancia dragged a chair over in between his and Fugo’s.

“Here, here, want me to get ya something to eat? Uh, let’s see, what’d you guys get again?”

“There’s some tomato slices in the fridge,” Giorno offered, standing up. “I can get them, Narancia, sit down, alright?” He tactfully did not add that he was concerned Narancia would break the dishes and spill the food in his excitement.

“I’ll come-”

Bucciarati was pulled back into his chair before he got the chance to finish what he was saying.

“Oh no, you’re staying right here,” Abbacchio growled, shifting in his chair as he settled in to watch the younger boys fuss.

Giorno was fixing a plate with tomatoes and a few small pastries from the assortment they’d bought while Mista came up beside him to refill his coffee. He whispered something to the blond that had the flicker of a grin cross his face and Bucciarati smiled. He was glad those two were growing close. Narancia and Fugo were arguing about whether or not to dress tomatoes with feta cheese or just salt and pepper while Trish listened silently, although the gleam in her eyes was warm, content even. Abbacchio had his headphones around his neck while his hand remained wrapped tightly around Bruno’s. He could feel the pulse of Leone’s warmth against his own dead fingers, scalding them.

He wondered if this was what it was like to feel alive again.

Chapter Text

“We need to make a supply run.”

At least Bucciarati had had the good foresight to wait until everyone was full and ready to relax before telling them they still had things they needed to do.

A chorus of groans rose from the trio of boys. After Mista had ran back upstairs to pull his sweater on, they’d proceeded to seat themselves around the kitchen table, eagerly discussing whatever they were planning to do later. And they were most certainly planning something, but no one would tell Giorno what, not even Mista. Which was especially odd.

Trish had retreated to the small sofa in the living area, curled up in the corner with a book that she’d brought down from her room but she closed it to listen to Bucciarati. Abbacchio was standing at his capo’s side, glaring at everyone as if daring them to actually say no. Any excuse to take his anger out on them, Giorno supposed. Well, him specifically.

“There’s no telling how long we’ll still be on the run,” the capo explained calmly. “We need to buy food, bottled water, and any other necessities.”

“Like deodorant,” Trish added, shooting a pointed glare at Mista.

“Hey! I smell great!” the brunet snapped indignantly, whipping around to look Giorno in the eye as he added, “Like a damn field’a roses, right Giorno?!”

“Hmm… a bit more like marigolds, I’d say.”

“Ha!”

Trish scoffed and went back to her book, muttering, “Dumbass,” under her breath with a roll of her eye. Clearly not satisfied, Mista looked at Giorno questioningly. The younger boy smiled innocently back, watching from the corner of his eye as Fugo tried to contain his laughter.

“Back to the matter at hand,” Bucciarati said, clearing his throat and hiding his smirk behind his hand. “I will be going and I wanted to know if any of you would desire to go?”

Giorno thought about it for a few seconds. He wouldn’t be doing much if he stayed here anyway, he thought, just maybe some laundry and then while it dried in the dun, prepare an afternoon snack? Read one of the many books in the library from last night? Possibly even nap in the sun if it seemed safe enough. How nice.

Still, Bucciarati probably needed a few more hands than his own and it certainly wasn’t safe to leave the man alone, although he knew his capo would choose someone if it came down to that, but he had no qualms with going.

“Ah, if you want, I-”

“Y-You two should go!” Narancia exclaimed hurriedly, interrupting Giorno the same time as a hand slapped over his mouth.

The blond looked up to see Mista standing above him, shaking his head frantically and motioning for him to stay quiet as he drew his hand back. Giorno frowned in confusion. Why did he not want him to go?

Meanwhile, Narancia was still rambling on.

“-and you two can like, uh, go do something grody or whatever and, uh, we can all, um-”

“What he’s trying to say is that we don’t mind if you two go together,” Fugo explained with a sigh and the shake of the head.

Giorno was continually impressed with the boy’s translational skills.

Bucciarati and Abbacchio exchanged a look, some sort of unspoken agreement passing between them before the capo looked back and said, “While I’m alright with that, are you sure none of you wish to come?”

Giorno caught a glimpse of the look Abbacchio was giving him in particular and wondered if that was why Mista stopped him from speaking up. How nice to have someone fear for your safety.

“Nah, go enjoy your date or whatever,” Narancia said flippantly, already turning back to whatever it was they’d all been looking at on the table.

Bucciarati seemed a bit shocked at that statement while Abbacchio’s face gave nothing away at all, but that pretty much confirmed it for Giorno. He’d wondered if perhaps that was why the man had been so hostile towards him, and he supposed it made sense, although he saw Bucciarati as nothing more than a figure worthy of respect and admiration. Maybe he should make that clear to Abbacchio? But pissing him off was so much fun…

“Really Bucciarati, you deserve it,” Fugo added kindly, grinning at the older man. “Go and try to have a nice time. If someone attacks you guys, we’ll kill ‘em, yeah?”

Their capo looked at them for a few seconds longer before he sighed. Crossing his arms over his chest in quite an imposing manner, he began to list, “No creating trouble, alright? No destroying the safehouse. No using Stands for the hell of it. No running, no breaking, no fighting, no fire, no-”

“We get it, good Lord,” Mista groaned. “And you tell us not to call you mom when you say shit like that, c’mon dude.”

Bucciarati just shook his head, a fond smile on his face.

“Does anyone need any-”

“Pantyhose and lip balm.”

“A copy of La Spagna di rima by Sostegno di Zanobi.”

“Sausage.”

“Pizza!”

“-anything essential.”

Glances were exchanged around the room before Narancia looked up hesitantly and asked, “…Pizza?”

“Why do I bother?” Bucciarati muttered as he shook his head. “Pizza! Fine, alright, I suppose we can treat ourselves this one time. But that’s it, do you hear me?”

Narancia nodded his head so quick Giorno was mildly surprised it didn’t fly off.

“Mista, will you be satisfied if there’s sausage on one of the pizzas?”

“Yeah, I mean, it ain’t for me, it’s for Pistols,” he explained. “They’re missin’ their favorite food and I kinda wanna give ‘em something special, y’know? Since they’ve been working so hard.”

'How cute,' Giorno thought. He’d make a wonderful father one day - although Giorno also thought he didn’t particularly want to see that future. Not anymore.

“Fugo, I don’t even know what book that is, but have you looked in the library?” Bucciarati suggested. “There’s likely something to interest you there.”

“Do you have any Leopardi or Gioberti? Maybe even Pellico?”

“…There’s probably some Dante.”

“That’ll do,” Fugo agreed with a sigh.

Hmm. Giorno hadn’t thought anyone else would have known of Pellico. He’d have to talk to Fugo about it some time; the idea of debating the themes of Ester d’Engaddi excited him. No one else seemed to know of it, although he supposed Silvio Pellico had lived in obscurity and persecution most of his life.

“I’m not sure if they’ll have pantyhose at the small stores in town, but we’ll look,” Bucciarati said to trish. “I’m sure they at least have some lip balm for you.”

“Labello, pink grapefruit or passion fruit,” she added flippantly with a wave of her hand. “I won’t accept anything else.”

Abbacchio looked like he was gonna blow a gasket but Bucciarti quickly just nodded. “Of course. I’ll see what we can do.”

She glanced at the man briefly before nodding, averting her gaze as she muttered a soft, “Thank you.”

“Now that that’s settled, we’ll be preparing to leave. There is only one car, so you all will have to stay here in the safehouse. It’s secluded enough that it should be alright to go outside, but if you, stay vigilant. There’s no telling when or where we might be attacked from next.”

They all nodded in agreement, listening patiently to Bucciarati explain things he’d already said a million times. Giorno enjoyed it; he’d never had someone worry like that over him before, even if it was in the whole group and not personally. Although he refused to ever say it aloud or even acknowledge it fully, this attention and respect Bucciarati was willing to give… it was nice. It felt nice.

“We should be back within a few hours,” Bucciarati reasoned. “If it reaches nightfall and we aren’t, assume the worst. If we aren’t back by midnight, leave without us. Go anywhere, I don’t care, but don’t tell neither Leone nor I. If we don’t know where you are and we’re attacked, it will be harder for the enemy to track you. Remember, Trish’s safety is our highest priority.”

“Right! We know!” Narancia said, sounding far too happy about such a morbid order. “Don’t worry Trish, you’re safe with us! We’ll die for you!”

“…That doesn’t make me feel much better,” she said uncomfortably. Giorno pitied her; to be on the receiving end of Narancia’s strange enthusiasm was not a pleasant position to be in.

“Everything’ll be fine, stop worrying.” Mista slung an arm around Giorno, jerking the blond out of his thoughts. “We’re all badasses here, we’ll kick those dude’s butts so hard they won’t be able to walk straight for a month!”

“…One can only hope,” Bucciarati sighed. “Fugo, you’re in charge until I get back.”

The blond nodded, sticking a thumbs up in agreement. Giorno noted the faintest hint of relief and pride swelling in the boy’s facial expression and he was glad for him. It hadn’t been pleasant to see these people who were so close argue and split apart from one another. While he didn’t know Fugo that well, he seemed to have a noble character but was prone to overthinking and internal philosophical dilemmas.

“…And if you need to make any decisions,” Bucciarati continued, fixing Giorno with a stare that gave the blond a bad feeling. “You should consult with Giorno first before the others.”

While the capo’s decision to put Fugo in charge was unsurprising, this new order drew some surprised faces. Giorno’s own included. In fact, everyone looked confused except Bucciarati himself and - and Mista.

“Bucciarati, we shouldn’t leave anything in that guy’s hands,” Abbacchio glowered at him. “He ain’t trustworthy enough. And he hasn’t been with us long enough either. It’s just plain stupid to do that, Fugo should consult with everyone at the same time, that way-”

“Nah, it’s cool, let’s just leave it to those two.”

This interjection came from Mista, who had tightened his hold around Giorno’s shoulders ever since Abbacchio had protested. Such protectiveness was strange - although it likely wasn’t that, Giorno was getting ahead of himself again. Analyzing such minute details of body language was useless when it came to understanding the underlying reasons for things and useless things were useless. He hated that.

“Of course you’d say that,” Abbacchio sneered.

“Don’t be a dick,” Mista said with a roll of his eyes. “All I’m sayin’ is that Giorno kinda got us into all this, yeah? Not that that’s a bad thing!” he added quickly when he felt Giorno stiffen beside him, “But like, he knows about what’s going on as much as all of us? And he’s been talkin’ with you a lot, Bucciarati, and we all know that you respect him a whole bunch. And it’s thanks to Gold Experience that we’re all still in such good shape. Hell, his quick thinking has saved all’a us by now! The kid obviously knows what he’s doing.”

The others seemed to consider this for a few seconds. Abbacchio looked like he was ready to argue again but Fugo stopped him.

“If that’s what Bucciarati says, then that’s what I’ll do,” he said simply. His violet eyes turned to look at Giorno as he smiled. “Plus you seem like you got a good had on your shoulders, which is sorely lacking with these buffoons. Can’t speak for everyone but I trust you.”

“I don’t care, let’s just hurry and finish, I got stuff I wanna do!” Narancia bemoaned. He paused before he turned to glare at Fugo. “And I’m not a baboon!”

“Congratulations, you managed to insult yourself even worse than I did,” Fugo said, clapping his hands as a sardonic grin stretched across his face. “You played yourself.”

“I- what?”

“Nothing, my little monkey, nothing at all.” Fugo ruffled Narancia’s hair so hard that it looked like it would’ve hurt. Giorno thought it was a good thing Narancia had a thick skull.

“See Bucc,” Mista said, “Got it all figured out for ya!”

Giorno hadn’t even had a chance to weigh in and yet the decision seemed to be made. It was a bit unsettling; where did Mista’s unwavering faith in him come from? All he’d done was get the gunman hurt through his impulsive decisions or own inabilities, that wasn’t deserving of this trust, this reliance.

And yet when he looked at the smile Mista was giving him, he couldn’t help but trust in it as well.

“Well, now that that’s settled,” Bucciarati said as Narancia tried to grab Fugo’s hand so he could attempt to bite it off. “Leone, you and I should be going. Be careful everyone.”

The sentiment was echoed back throughout the room as the pair left, a disgruntled Abbacchio following behind Bucciarati to send Giorno one last death glare before they were gone for a while. God forbid Giorno start to think he maybe didn’t hate him, just despised him a little.

As the room settled back into comfortable silence, Giorno wondered what he should do now. Trish was reading again, flipping through the pages of the book so quickly that he wondered if she just wanted to look busy. Mista, Fugo, and Narancia were back to whispering over something about the kitchen table, sneaking furtive glances at both himself and Trish every once in a while.

He had a bad feeling about whatever they were planning.

Deciding that if nothing else, he’d like to wear some clean clothes, he stood. Bucciarati had mentioned there was a small washing machine at the end of the hall in the closet across from the office but no dryer, so he’d have to hang them outside. That was alright, it was an unnaturally warm day for April, around 20° C, and sunny. It would be nice to get some fresh air.

He paused in the doorway, thinking he should offer to the others as well.

“Would anyone like to do their laundry?”

Four hands shot up.

“I’m going to do mine now, so you can use the machine after me. I’ll let you know when my clothes are done so you can do the next cycle.” When confused faces looked at him, he frowned. “…Or would you like me to do your laundry for you?”

Once again, four hands shot up.

Giorno sighed. So they all couldn’t do laundry. Really, what was the mafia teaching kids these days?

Chapter Text

It had taken a little time to gather all the things they wanted Giorno to wash, especially seeing as they had to scrounge around for something to wear while their normal clothes were being washed.

Giorno had found a bath towel in a hall closet on the second floor that had a cute, abstract bumblebee print on it, and while it wasn't ladybugs, he figured he couldn't be picky. It had fit snug around his hips, just long enough to cover everything and it fell to around his upper thighs. He'd thought it would work nicely.

Then Mista had happened on him, took one look at the towel and had thrust the sweatpants he'd found in the master bedroom into Giorno's arms.

“No way, these’re way better. Take ‘em.”

“You're the one who found them Mista, you should wear them. This will work fine.”

“Nah, these are way too, uh, too tight.” What an excuse, Giorno thought mildly. “They don't fit me good at all, not at all comfy.”

“Too tight? Mista, you wear skin-tight tiger print leather pants.”

“Yeah, ‘cuz all men are beasts GioGio,” Mista said with an exaggerated wave of his hand, “Get with the picture, man.” Giorno’s brows raised in surprise.

“GioGio?”

Mista stared at him for a second in confusion before seeming to realize what he said. “Uh, like Giorno and Giovanna, they both got Gio in them and I guess it just kinda came out.” He scratched the back of his neck nervously. “If you don't like it-”

“No, no. It's fine,” Giorno refuted. “A nickname… they feel nice, don't they?”

Mista had smiled sweetly at that and Giorno had wondered if maybe he'd said something strange. The gunman had left down the hallway saying he'd find something else to wear and Giorno had gone to the bathroom of the room they shared to put the sweats on.

They were far too long for him, baggy and loose enough that he had to tighten the drawstring around his waist so they wouldn't sag down. ‘Too tight, hmm? Yeah, right.’ Giorno just hoped that they weren’t Abbacchio’s- not that he could imagine the man in sweatpants, but he certainly could imagine what would happen to him if he tried to wear anything belonging to the older man.

Fugo was the only one who hadn't had to find something else to wear since his hot pink suit was brand new. The blond had, however, cornered Giorno in a secluded corner of the house while Mista, Narancia, and Trish hunted around for stuff to wear. He looked oddly embarrassed and it had taken him a second to collect himself enough to address what he wanted.

He had held something out to Giorno and said, “Not a word to the others.”

Giorno had taken it and Fugo had disappeared down the hall, practically tripping over himself in his haste to escape from whatever had just happened. Confused, he looked at the thing in his hand.

A hot pink thong.

What the fuck? Ah, no, that was uncouth but- but really, what the fuck. It wasn’t like he would judge Fugo for the underwear he chose to wear but. But a thong? Really? Though with all those holes in his clothes, Giorno supposed it wasn’t that odd a choice. Wait, if this was his underwear and Fugo was still dressed, did that mean he was- no, this thought process was dangerous and Giorno didn’t want to know.

He’d tossed the offending thing in the pile of clothes he was accumulating near the washing machine and had thrown his own jacket over it for good measure. Now to go wash his hands.

It was lucky that the house already had some detergent and Giorno hummed in surprised pleasure as he set it out atop the machine and began loading the clothes into it.

“So not only can you kick some serious ass, you can cook, clean, and do laundry; damn what can’t you do?”

After finding something else to wear, Mista had sought Giorno out after passing the task of finding something for Narancia off to Fugo and was now leaning against the doorframe while Giorno loaded the washer.

He spared him a quick glance. “Many things,” he replied as he poured the detergent into the little soap container on the top left of the machine. The container itself seemed ancient, but soap didn’t really expire so he figured it would be fine.

“Sure,” Mista scoffed, “And I’m the prince of Switzerland.”

“Switzerland is a federal republic, Mista. The nobility there haven’t had a legitimate claim to rule the country since the 1800s.”

“I was being sarcastic, dude. And how the fuck do you know all that stuff?”

Giorno closed the washer’s door and pressed the power button. He waited a few seconds for the old machine to whir to life, the mass of clothes beginning to lazily spin as a rumble emanated out. This was going to be loud; thank God there was a door.

“I read a lot when I was a child,” he explained, turning to face Mista. The gunman had donned a spare sheet that he was wearing as a toga, the soft white material looking pretty ridiculous seeing as he refused to take that atrocious beanie off.

“Yeah I guess,” Mista snorted, arms crossed over his half-bare chest. “What kinda stuff do you gotta read to know that shit? Man, you and Fugo both, I just don’t get it.”

“Indeed. I hope I’ll have a chance to talk to Fugo later about that. It’s been a long time since I met someone who had similar interests in philosophy.”

Mista scoffed with a flippant wave of his hand. “Knowing him, he’ll read all he can about it and move on to whatever piques his interest next, so you better move fast. By the way, how’d’ja even know how to do laundry?”

“I’m more confused as to why you all don’t. Haven’t you all been living separate from your parents for years now?”

“Bucciarati’s more of a mom than my mom ever was,” Mista said. “And I didn’t even have a shitty mom like some of the guys.”

“Hmm, I guess I’m not surprised,” Giorno agreed. He closed the door to the laundry closet, making a mental note to check the machine in an hour or so when it was done.

“Okay, now that ya got that done, the others’re waiting for us, so hurry it up!” Mista hurried him down the hallway towards the sitting room in the front of the house. “Get a move on, buckaroo!”

“Ah, is this about whatever you three were planning earlier?”

Mista shot him a wicked grin and Giorno felt a little less enthused. That couldn’t mean anything good. Still, if the others were all truly waiting, even Trish, then he was certainly curious. He wondered if this was what it would have been like to have siblings growing up- although he wasn’t sure what he felt towards Mista was a sibling sort of bond.

“So you gonna tell me or what?”

“Hmm?”

“The laundry. How come you know how to do it?”

Perhaps Mista was more perceptive than Giorno had thought. He’d known about the man’s skills in the midst of battle but he hadn’t known whether that extended to normal circumstances or not. Based on what he’d seen, his guess would have been no, but somehow Mista had been able to see through him three times now. How curious.

“I taught myself how to clean my clothes,” Giorno explained, knowing he wouldn’t be able to get out of it. “My mother certainly wasn’t going to do it, and I wanted to be of use to her when I was younger. However, when she found out, she just stopped doing hers altogether and left it all to me.”

“Sounds like she’s a bitch.”

“I wouldn’t say that,” he defended hesitantly. “She always knew what she wanted and I admire her for that.”

‘She just didn’t want me.’


“You aren’t actually looking for that damn book, are you?”

Bruno hummed a response as he browsed the shelves of a small bookstore in the town they’d driven into. It had been smaller than Abbacchio remembered, although he wasn’t that surprised; why would anyone come to this rural part of Sicily normally? That was part of why they’d got the house out there.

He shook his head. “Just ask the damn shopkeeper, Bruno. The guy looks bored outta his mind anyway. Give him shit to do.”

“I doubt that man would know anything of 14th century epics, wouldn’t you agree, Leone?”

“Thought you didn’t know what it was?”

“I asked Fugo about it on our way out,” Bruno replied simply. So he’d been planning to look from the very start. Figures.

Abbacchio often found himself wondering what woulda happened if Bruno wasn’t such a damn bleeding heart to all the lost souls that seemed to gravitate towards him. Like flies to a damn lamp. Disgusting.

But then Bruno probably wouldn’t have approached him if that was the case, and that was no damn good at all. Besides, part of what was so great about the guy was his kindness. Leone didn’t think he’d ever seen such a beautiful heart. Such a beautiful man.

Who wouldn’t tell him a damn thing goddammit! Fuck, just thinking about it got him worked up! Who just says ‘oh by the way, I’m dying but I won’t tell you how or why I know.’ Why the fuck did Bruno have to say anything at all?! What was that saying, ignorance is bliss?

But that wouldn’t work either because Abbacchio knew. He could pretend he didn’t know why all he damn wanted; it wouldn’t change the truth.

Bruno wanted him to protect the kids.

That was why, that was why he’d said that, that was why he wouldn’t say anything else. Because they both knew that if Leone knew what was going on, he’d abandon everything else to try to fix whatever was wrong. In a heartbeat. It wouldn’t even be a contest.

There was nothing he could do if he didn’t know any details. At least he could spend as much time with Bruno as he could. At least he had that. Had him. For now, at least.

“Leone?”

Bruno’s soft voice broke him out of thoughts and he looked up.

“You’re going to break the cup.” Bruno’s cool fingers closed over his own that circled the paper coffee cup he’d bought earlier. He’d been squeezing it so tight that the warm, brown liquid was trickling down the sides in small beaded drops. “What are you thinking so hard about?”

“Nothing you gotta worry about,” he growled, relaxing his grip as he took a deep breath. He needed to calm the fuck down; freaking out wouldn’t do jack shit right now. Maybe he - God forbid - should talk to Giorno about it. The prick might be able to fix whatever was wrong.

Fuck, now he felt disgusted again. Stupid blond brat and his stupidly perfect fucking face. See how perfect it’d be after he smashed his fist into it.

Bruno shrugged and went back to examining the shelves for whatever title it was that Fugo had said earlier. Abbacchio had let it go in one ear and out the other; who the fuck cared what the guy liked to read?

He leaned back against one of the walls, hands shoved in his pockets as he fiddled with the little gift he’d had burning a hole in it for months now. It had arrived late, having been delayed a few times because of how busy the holiday season had been for the jewellers, and he hadn’t gotten it until late January. By then, Christmas had already passed and he hadn’t been able to find another chance to give it to Bruno. He’d wanted to wait until a special occasion, that was what upstanding people did after all, and he was a little traditional like that, wanted it to be special, but now that all this crazy shit was going down… he didn’t want to wait much longer.

Maybe he was rushing into things but with a job like theirs, Abbacchio thought it was a damn miracle they had lasted two years together already without anyone really finding out. It had been a pain in the ass to hide it from the kids, but they’d managed well enough so far. They all probably had an inkling anyway, but as long as they didn’t know for sure, that was fine.

It could be used against them, after all.

Abbacchio hadn’t thought he’d be happy ever again, that he wasn’t allowed to be. Bruno was… he was an exception. And lately, he was thinking that wasn’t the case anymore.

So what if he wanted to give his boyfriend a ring? His former partner probably would’ve been happy for him. That was the kind of guy he had been, huh?

If only he could work up enough courage… once this was all over, then? Yeah, that sounded pretty damn good. Once the Boss was dead and Passione was ruled by someone else. They could leave. Together.

Bruno came up to him and Abbacchio looked up, pulling his hands out of his pockets to cross his arms over his chest.

“Well, I wasn’t able to find the book, but which do you think Fugo would prefer?” Bruno held up two books, Orlando Furioso and Africa. Abbacchio didn’t know a damn thing about either of ‘em. Dumb kid and his dumb big brain.

“Whichever’s got more words,” he drawled sarcastically.

Orlando Furioso it is,” Bruno smiled, setting the smaller of the two books back on the shelf. “I believe it would be more up Fugo’s alley, anyway.”

“Then why’d you ask me?”

Bruno grinned up at him, glancing around to be sure the bookshelf obscured them from sight before pressing a quick peck to Abbacchio’s cheek.

“Because I value your opinion.”

“…You’re embarrassing,” he grumbled, taking a sip of the coffee to hide his flustered expression. Lukewarm. Ugh.

“Only when I’m allowed to be,” Bruno sighed with a dramatic shake of his head and Leone shot him a smirk. They stared at each other for a few seconds before they both burst into laughter.

Bruno’s was light and melodic and way better than any of the nature sounds he played on his headphones. He had to get that on recording somehow; it would keep him calm way better than anything else.

“Shall we go pay?” Bruno asked, still smiling warmly as he hooked his arm under Abbacchio’s and dragged him towards the register. They still had a few stops to make, saving the food for last since it might spoil otherwise.

“Do you really have enough cash for all this random shit?”

“Of course I do, Leone.” Bruno frowned, puffing out his cheeks in a small pout. So fucking adorable, good Lord. “It’s the man’s job to pay on the date, after all.”

Abbacchio grinned wickedly. “Shouldn’t I be paying then?”

“What do you- oh.” Bruno rolled his eyes, looking away in what Abbacchio thought was embarrassment, although it was hard to tell. The guy didn’t really look flushed like he thought he’d be or anything. “Such a dirty mind, Leone, now I know where the boys get it from.”

“Please, those guys were born with their brains in the gutter,” he scoffed as Bruno set the book down on the counter, passing the shop attendant some lyres. “If you think I had anything to do with that, you’re wrong.”

“Where did I go wrong raising them?” Bruno sighed.

“Oh? Embracing the mom role, are we?” Abbacchio teased, poking Bruno playfully in the arm as the younger man swatted his hand away.

“I accept any and all roles I am given in life, you know this,” the capo explained. “Even if I’m the wrong gender for those roles. What is it they say nowadays, this is the 21st century?”

“Wow, you even sound old.”

“Oh shut up, you act like a bitter old man half the time.”

“I can’t help it, it’s those damn kids,” Abbacchio said, shrugging his shoulders. “Fuckers act half their age. And you aren’t any help, buying them shit they don’t need.”

He grabbed the book from where it had been set on the counter, wrapped in a small paper bag and gestured to it.

“Case in point.”

Bruno sighed. “Come on, we have more places to go.”

Bruno took the leftover change and the pair left the bookshop. As Abbacchio held the door open, he spotted a cafe that looked pretty empty across the street and smiled. If this was a date, then maybe they could actually do something sort of date-like for once.

Maybe he’d be able to get Bruno to eat something too.

Chapter Text

It took longer than Mista had expected for everyone to find something to wear. It took him about as long as expected to finally find something Trish was willing to use.

She had a change of clothes already but insisted that both sets be washed because they didn’t know when she could wash her clothes in the future and they were already “starting to smell and feel gross against my skin.” Mista had taken a sniff when she wasn’t looking and had thought it smelled like clothes, but what did he know he guessed.

There had been a large, gray furry blanket in one of the closets that she had immediately laid claim to, saying that she’d get cold easily otherwise. Mista had wondered how she didn’t get cold when she basically just wore a bra and a sheet around her waist anyway but he was smart enough to keep his mouth shut.

Narancia hadn’t been so lucky and was immediately punched in the face. Mista was impressed; the girl had power. Narancia was not.

Fugo spent the next few minutes calming the boy down before he could go apeshit.

It had been an ordeal, and a bigger task than he’d thought it would be (there were like five beds in the house, why was there so few extra bed sheets?) but now it was done and they were gathered in the sitting room from earlier. Narancia and Fugo lounged on the couch, Trish had claimed the armchair, and Giorno was sitting on the floor leaning back against the couch. Mista was more than willing to plop himself down next to the blond.

“So what’s this about?” Trish asked, pulling the blanket tighter around her shoulders. She’d made a little cocoon out of it, burrowing so deep that the only things sticking out were her head and hands.

“We’re gonna play a game,” Mista declared as Fugo and Narancia nodded in agreement. “It took hours of serious debate and turmoil and somebody almost died but we have finally selected the best choice.”

“Is that so?” Trish muttered with a roll of her eyes. How so much sass could be contained in one little body, Mista did not know.

“What’s the game, Mista?”

Ah Giorno, sweet, wonderful, beautiful Giorno, God bless him, just went along with it. What a literal angel. How so much amazingness could be contained in one little body, Mista did not know.

“It’s something we came up with a while back when I first joined the gang,” he explained. “I wanted to play two truths and a lie, Narancia wanted to play truth or dare, and Fugo wanted to play poker. So we came up with something that’s kinda like a mix of ‘em all.”

“Abbacchio was gonna kill us otherwise,” Narancia added helpfully. “He said we were giving Bucciarati a headache and we had, uh-”

“We had ten seconds to fucking pick something before he picked our heads off our bodies,” Fugo finished. “Never doubt that man when it comes to Bucciarati.”

“Right, so here’s how it goes: we play a round of poker, Texas Hold’em rules, and whatnot, and there’s only one winner. But, instead of betting money, we bet questions. Everyone bets one at the start, and the more you bet, the more questions the winner will get to ask you. If you win the hand, then you get to either ask the group a question, or ask someone who bet more than one question multiple questions.”

“What if you don’t want to answer?” Trish asked.

“Well, ya don’t have to if you don’t like the question, we ain’t monsters,” Mista said to Trish. “But you’ll have to answer double the questions for whatever you say no to. If you ain’t careful, you might wind up having to answer seven or eight.”

“That happened to me once,” Fugo added. “Those two idiots never seem to know where personal boundaries are.”

“It ain’t our fault you’re a mysterious guy, dude,” Mista said with a shrug.

“What if you don’t want to answer any of the questions?”

Somehow, Mista had had a feeling that might be the case for Giorno. Call it gut instinct, but the guy was more than just Fugo-levels of mysterious.

“Then you’ll owe us,” he said. When Giorno looked confused, he explained, “If ya really don’t like any of the questions we’re asking, we’ll back off, but you’ll owe the asker a favor in the future, no questions asked. It’s kinda like give and take?”

“Trust me, just answer the questions, GioGio,” Fugo said. “You don’t want to owe either of these two something; one time Narancia made me unclog his toilet. After he clogged it with a massive dump.”

Trish visibly recoiled at the imagery while Giorno just made a face. Mista thought he was even cuter than normal with his nose scrunched up like that, even if it was in disgust.

“Should we start then? I’ll deal first,” Fugo said, grabbing the deck of cards from its place on the coffee table.

The five teens crowded around the table to better see the cards.

Mista flipped over his cards. Two of spades and seven of diamonds. Shit, his hand was trash. He looked at the others after setting his cards back down. Their faces were all unreadable, save Narancia who looked excited. The only issue with that was Narancia was excited whenever they got to bet, even if it was just for questions. He knew nothing; he’d have to wait for the flop.

Fugo laid out the first three cards from the top of the deck. Six of diamonds, ten of hearts, two of clubs.

Not too bad, he had a pair already. ‘Course they were shitty twos, just his luck. Maybe he’d bank on the diamonds for a flush.

“Suck it fuckers, three of a kind!”

Narancia slapped his hand down to reveal two aces to go along with the last card revealed.

Fuck, just one more diamond and he’d’ve had that damn flush. Judging from the collective groans around the room, he wasn’t the only one who’d lost.

Narancia laughed giddily as the others revealed their hands, all lower than Narancia’s own. Trish was the closest, with two pairs, tens and threes.

“You cheated and I’m gonna find out how,” Fugo growled, jamming his finger in Narancia’s face angrily. Guy always was a sore loser.

“You’re just jealous,” Narancia sniffed as he crossed his arms over his chest. “Since you bet and now I getta ask you two things!”

“You gonna do that instead of a group question?” Mista asked and Narancia nodded.

“Hmm, whaddo I ask… oh, I know! Why do you wear such ugly clothes?”

“Call them ugly one more time and I’ll fucking rip your intestines out,” Fugo hissed. “Besides, there's nothing wrong with what I wear!”

Giorno snorted at that, drawing the attention of everyone in the room. The blond looked embarrassed while Fugo turned a very interesting shade of pink that almost matched his suit.

“NOT A FUCKNG WORD!” he shrieked, to which Giorno quickly waved his hands.

“I didn’t!” he exclaimed as Mista frowned in confusion, “I didn’t say anything!” What the fuck were they talking about?

“Is it too late to change my questions?” Narancia snickered, and Mista really wished Fugo would say no. Too bad.

“Yes! Fuck off, my clothes are great! You're too damn stupid to get it anyway,” Fugo huffed angrily. “It’s a reference to Purple Haze’s virus and a technique used in laboratories to determine the amount of virus in a given dose.”

“Shut the fuck up! I'm not dumb! And wait, so it’s not ‘cuz strawberries have those weird little holes on them?”

“No. And they’re not holes, they’re seeds, you imbecile.”

“Huh,” Narancia wondered, clearly not expecting the answer he got, enough so that he didn't even comment on the imbecile remark. Maybe the kid was finally learning some tolerance, who’da thunk. “Then for the next question--”

“You already asked two, so shut up and deal.”

“What?! No fair, that doesn’t count! I want a redo!”

“Life isn't fair. Deal the damn cards.”

Narancia frowned, clearly wanting to whine more about it but he listened anyway. Leave it to Narancia to waste his questions on such stupid things Mista thought. If it was him, he woulda asked way more important stuff. Like what Fugo talked about with Bucciarati while Mista slept in the crop duster. Or what that weirdass Castagna guy had said to make Fugo think twice when even Narancia hadn't been able to do it. Though maybe asking about that stuff in front of everyone was a bad idea.

Oh well, he’d win this time.

He did not win this time. Trish did. Guess she had a hidden talent for the game.

She grinned wickedly at Fugo as she asked, “What were you laughing about, Giorno?”

Oh hell yes. Mista was liking this girl more and more. Narancia had slapped his hands over Fugo’s mouth to keep the boy from screaming over the answer, and as they all leaned forward in anticipation, Giorno glanced guiltily at Fugo before saying, “He gave me a thong to wash earlier with the laundry.”

There was silence for a second and then-

“BWAHAHAHAHA!” Narancia fell off the couch as he clutched his stomach, trying to breathe in between gasps and bouts of laughter. Fugo had kicked him in the chest which probably didn’t help but the boy was too busy losing his fucking mind to complain.

Mista felt like he might die; surely he wasn’t getting enough oxygen in his brain right now but he couldn’t help it; it was so fucking funny and the look on Fugo’s face was *chef’s kiss* priceless and oh God, a thong.

Giorno at least looked like he felt a little bad, but even he couldn’t help from grinning at the guffaws of the others. Even Trish was losing her mind over it, cackles of laughter peeling out of the blanket she’d wrapped herself in to hide her red face.

“It’s not that funny!” Fugo cried, face as red as his suit. “It’s the only thing that doesn’t show when I wear my suits!”

So he had a reason after all. Damn, Mista woulda bet it was ‘cuz Fugo was a little bitch boy at heart but oh well. His crops? Watered. His face? Clear. His day? Made. Nothing could beat this.

For the next hour or so, they continued to play, the game becoming less about who actually won and more about what kind of invasive or insane questions they could get away with asking before someone finally had enough.

Mista learned that Trish’s favorite musical artist was Britney Spears and that she only drank Perrier because it was the water her mom kept at their home, that Narancia was a very skilled castanet player because when he was in juvie, an inmate showed him how to play using two spoons he’d stolen from the cafeteria, how Fugo used to recite the alphabet backwards to calm himself down but that when he got to the letter P, it only made him angrier because it reminded him of a teacher who once refused to let him use the restroom in grade school when he’d asked. He’d pushed said teacher down a flight of stairs when no one was looking and promptly switched schools right after.

Mista even had to reveal to the others how Pistols liked sausage best because they once heard him asking one of the girls he hooked up with “how my sausage tastes?” to which she had said it was the best thing ever. He knew she was being sarcastic, Pistols did not. That story had gotten quite the response from Fugo and Narancia who nearly lost their shit for the second time that day. Trish looked simultaneously disgusted and amused. He couldn’t read Giorno’s expression though, and that was never a good sign. Especially since it was about an ex of his.

After that, things felt a little awkward with him and Giorno until Narancia asked some weird shit about what bug they’d eat if they had to eat one. Never thought he’d thank Narancia for his weird, little brain and its disturbing thoughts but guess you never know. After all, there wasn’t really a good way to explain “I hadn’t met you yet” without telling way more than he was willing to tell at the moment.

Giorno was the only one who had avoided sharing any kind of personal anecdote.There had been some other random questions to the group as well, like what was everyone’s favorite animal (Giorno’s was, surprisingly, a corsac fox), what their favorite colors were (violet, although he was getting increasingly partial to orange, he said), and the now-infamous bug question (crickets, which were supposedly like chicken). Not that Mista was keeping tabs on what Giorno’s answers were or anything like that. Anyways, any time it seemed like someone had a follow up question for him, Giorno won the next round and diverted all attention with his carefully calculated questions that threw people off his trail. Everyone except Mista.

Too bad Mista was shit at poker.

Still, he was determined to win at least one round, to ask Giorno just one thing about his life before the gang. There was so much he wanted to know but he didn’t wanna go too far either and overstep things. Which meant he needed to craft a good question first before he won.

Narancia won the next one round with a pair of kings and looked at Giorno. “You bet more than one, so time to pay up!” he cried excitedly, and Mista wondered what kind of dumb shit he was gonna ask now. Instead, the question was actually something he was interested in knowing.

“Who do you take after? Like parents wise? I’ve been wondering about that a lot; you’re really pretty so I bet your mom’s a total babe, huh!”

Giorno seemed to pale at his words for a moment, a soft swallow following the bob of his Adam’s apple before he looked at Narancia, any traces of discomfort gone. Mista frowned. He didn’t like how Giorno reacted whenever his family was mentioned.

“I’m not quite sure,” Giorno said at last. “Both, I suppose. First my mother and then later, my father.”

Narancia cocked his head. “What does that mean? How can you be one then the other?”

“Is that your second question?”

Narancia seemed to consider that for a second before nodding, his curiosity winning out over whatever weird thing he’d thought up next.

“My hair color originally took after my mother,” he explained. “It was black, like hers. Now that it’s blond, I believe it’s like my birth father’s based on the picture I had of him.”

“Wait, you dyed your hair?!” Trish exclaimed, moving forward to reach for Giorno’s golden braid. “I can’t even tell that it’s dyed, it looks so pristine; who did your hair! I have to meet the stylist!”

“No one dyed it,” Giorno said gently, pushing her hand away while looking vaguely uncomfortable. “It just turned blond one day. I believe it was due to Golden Experience being awakened for the first time, but I don’t know for sure.”

“…Well I guess stranger things have happened because of awakening Stands,” Fugo wondered aloud, scratching his chin as he thought. “Wait, this means that you didn’t awaken your Stand because of Polpo, or Bucciarati would’ve noticed when your hair changed colors. Were you pierced by the arrow at another time, or did you naturally have a Stand to begin with? If so, was it because of your father? Or was it-”

“Fugo, lay off the guy,” Mista interrupted. Giorno looked strained, discomfort in his green eyes and an unnatural stiffness to his posture that seemed to otherwise go unnoticed by the others. “We already asked the two questions we got to and he answered.”

“Ah, my apologies,” Fugo seemed to back off instantly, withdrawing to the couch as he sat back down. “I got a bit too worked up.”

“It’s fine,” Giorno replied with a soft smile, a hint of strain in the way the corners of his eyes crinkled up. “And I don’t have all the answers you want anyway, as I’m not sure myself.”

That was a lie, at least partially, but Mista didn’t know what was true and what wasn’t. Not when it came to Giorno.

“Should we play another round?” Narancia asked nervously, clearly disliking the tense atmosphere that had settled around the room.

“I should go check on the laundry,” Giorno said and stood abruptly, heading towards the hall.

“Oh, Giorno, um, I’m sorry.” That was Trish speaking now. “I shouldn’t have tried to touch you without asking first.”

Giorno paused in the doorway and turned back to smile gently, this time a seemingly genuine one. “It’s alright, Trish. I know you meant nothing by it.”

With that, he disappeared around the corner, leaving the other four still sitting around the deck of cards. They exchanged glances, coming to an unspoken decision.

“I’ll go help him out,” Mista said, standing as well.

“We’ll keep playing here, so come join us again once you two finish,” Fugo replied. Narancia and Trish nodded in agreement and Mista grinned.

“Will do. Let me know if I miss anything good.” He headed from the room but remembered something else and poked his head around the corner long enough to add, “And no more questions about Giorno’s family, got it?”

Narancia and Fugo nodded while Trish flashed him a thumbs up from where they sat, already absorbed in the next round of poker. Mista left again, satisfied.

Now then. Time to go find Giorno.

Chapter Text

Finding Giorno proved to be an incredibly easy task. The boy had said what he was going to go do after all, so Mista found him in the small closet that held the washing machine, checking over the clothes inside.

“What’re you doing?”

Giorno seemed to jump a bit, apparently startled by Mista’s presence. Yet another sign that the earlier question had unsettled him; Giorno was normally so passively perceptive, it seemed like a curse. The blond boy straightened up as he turned around.

“I’m checking to be sure they’re all truly clean,” he explained. “We put a lot into the washer, it’s possible some things might’ve gotten wrapped up in something else and weren’t washed.”

“Huh. So it’s harder than it looks then.”

“Everything is harder than it looks, Mista.” Giorno seemed satisfied with the clothes though as he waved his hand at the gunman. “Now shoo, go back to playing with the others. You should go have fun.”

“Yeah?” Mista grinned cockily. “And what if being with you is funner?”

“…That’s not a word, you should say ‘more fun,’” Giorno grumbled begrudgingly. Mista enjoyed the slight flush the tips of the boy’s ears had gained, finding the pink color more than cute on the pretty blond. Never thought he’d think of a boy as cute as a compliment, but that was before he’d met Giorno.

“More fun then,” he agreed. “Lemme help you. There’s a lot there, ya gotta go hang ‘em up outside right? To dry?”

“Indeed. I thought you said you didn’t know how to wash clothes?”

“I don’t, just remember seeing my ma hang me ‘n my siblings stuff up outside. We used to run through the sheets when she washed them and acted like they were monsters trying to eat us. Until we pulled one off the line and it got dirty and my ma nearly beat the shit outta us.”

“That sounds nice,” Giorno hummed as he thrust a mound of damp clothes into Mista’s awaiting arms so he could pull out the basket to carry them. “You have siblings?”

“Yup. Two little brothers and a little sister, although they probably aren’t so little anymore.” He wondered how big they’d be now; it had been around four years since he’d last seen them. How old were they now? Thirteen, twelve, and ten, he counted in his head. Huh, how time flies.

As if reading his mind, Giorno asked, “You haven’t seen them recently?”

“Well, I left home when I was… uh… shit, like fourteen? I think? And then when you’re sent off to prison and then join the mafia, it ain’t really something you wanna go home and brag about, y’know? I didn’t wanna make any trouble for my family, they got enough to deal with as it is.”

“…If it’s alright for me to ask, why did you leave home?” Giorno questioned as he picked up the laundry basket. Mista wordlessly pulled it out of his arms, holding it close to his chest as the blond just sighed but let him anyway.

“You carry the stuff for the laundry lines,” Mista instructed instead. “And it’s no big deal, just we needed money and my parents couldn’t make enough so I left. Wanted to make some myself, but also it meant one less mouth for ‘em to feed.”

“That’s surprising. From what you’ve told me before, it doesn’t sound like your parents would kick you out.”

“Ah, they didn’t. I just kinda left one day.” He shrugged as he headed down the hall towards the back door that led to the large field the safehouse opened up to, near the cliffs. “Maybe it was naive of me, but it was the only thing I could think of at the time. …My little brother got sick, see? Real sick and we didn’t have money to care for him. So I hoped they’d use the money they woulda spent on me for him.”

“And you never went back.”

Mista nodded. The story seemed kinda sad now that he thought about it, but it didn’t really bother him all that much. The other guys had all dealt with way worse, and compared to them, he felt lucky that his family was alive and hopefully happy. Just knowing that they were all still okay was more than enough for him. Maybe it was cheesy, but his gang had made him appreciate what he had all the more. And he knew he’d go back one day, when he was an adult and old enough to convince them he could be on his own.

And sure, he missed them, but he’d found a new family. Now he had two, and if that wasn’t a goddamn blessing, he didn’t know what was.

“They must be very proud.” That was a surprise, and it must’ve shown on Mista’s face because Giorno added, “Your family. I’m sure your good intentions shined through, and though they don’t know where you are or what you’re doing, I’m sure your little brother is very thankful for having such a wonderful man as his older brother.”

“That’s…” He hadn’t ever heard that before, most people just kinda nodded and moved on or pitied him, even though he didn’t need any pity. “Thanks, Giorno.”

The blond smiled warmly at him and Mista thought he should avert his eyes; looking at something that bright would blind him one of these days.

“Yours are too,” he said tentatively as he helped Giorno set up the clothesline outside so they could hang the clothes to dry. The look Giorno gave him was a mix of frustration, confusion, and strange gratitude.

“Mine don’t even know I’m not at boarding school,” he said as he reached into the laundry basket to pull out the first garment, Narancia’s weird skirt thing he always wore. “And I doubt they’ll ever find out unless the school tells them themselves. Not that they would care.”

“What do you mean?”

Giorno hung the skirt up on the line, clipping in place with clothespins before he looked back at Mista. The sun was behind him and it was nearly blinding as it shone in Mista’s eyes, Giorno’s face obscured as he said, “They never loved me, Mista. In fact, I doubt my mother ever felt anything towards me at all.”

As the blond turned back to continue with pinning the clothes on the line, Mista was frozen in place. Shit, what did he say to that? He knew Giorno’s family situation was… weird, to say the least, but he didn’t know it was that bad. Even Fugo had said his parents loved him, in their own twisted way, but for parents to be totally apathetic towards their own kid…

He opted to just say nothing. There wasn’t any way he could console Giorno; he didn't know the blond well enough or know enough about his personal life to make any random statements, but he figured he could at least stay and help and give Giorno the comfort of being with another person. Suddenly all the times he’d thought Giorno had seemed emotionally distant or confused with affection and attention made sense.

The more he thought about it, the angrier Mista got. Giorno was such a great guy, not just because he was super damn attractive, but he was so nice to all of them, even Abbacchio, who had literally fed the guy piss in a cup, and he was really smart, heck, Mista thought anyone who could hold a conversation with Fugo about the random shit that guy knew was a damn genius, but Giorno was also just… he was just so Giorno. How could anyone not like him? Except for Abbacchio, who didn’t like anyone except Bucciarati. And hearing about his shitty parents made Mista’s blood boil, he could only imagine what kind of shit they did to-

“Giorno! It’s Giorno!”

“Giorno, do you have any food?!”

“Uwaaaaaa, Giorno, Number Three hit me again, help me!”

Uh oh. He recognized those whiny, high-pitched voices.

“Hey, get back here!” Mista yelled as he hurried over to them. “Dammit, you guys, how many times do I gotta tell you not to come out on your own!”

“But Mista, you called us out!” Number One replied.

Number Two shook its head in agreement as it said, “You were angry and we got worried!”

“Worried my ass, you just wanted an excuse to come out and play!” Mista knew they were right though; he’d gotten too worked up and had accidentally called out Pistols and now they were flocking around Giorno, all screaming and begging for one thing or another.

“Nooooo~” they all chorused, swarming Giorno to hide from Mista. Six voices all cried out varying degrees of, “Giorno, help us!” as Mista tried to pull them back under his hat.

“It’s alright, Mista,” Giorno said. “They aren’t bothering me.”

That was total horseshit, but as Mista watched the way the Pistols cheered happily and flitted around Giorno saying one thing or another, and how Giorno’s expression had softened as he answered each of them in turn, stroking Number Five’s head from where it had flown into one of his breast pockets to hide, holding out a small caramel he’d gotten from who knows where, Mista had to just let it be.

“At least let us finish hanging up the clothes, guys,” he moaned, shaking his head as he facepalmed in exasperation.

“Liar!”

“You’re just making Giorno do the work!”

“Stupid Mista!”

“You little- I am too helping, goddammit!” he yelled angrily, swinging around to the blond as he cried, “Giorno, tell them!”

“He is indeed helping me,” Giorno chuckled, hiding his smirk behind his fist as he said. “He even carried the laundry basket out here all by himself.”

“Why do I get the feeling you’re making fun of me?” Mista pouted. “I’m not a little kid, y’know.”

“I know, I know,” Giorno laughed, and really, when the guy laughed like that, Mista couldn’t stay angry at him. Instead he just sighed and went back to pinning the clothes on the line. There were only a few people’s worth to wash but they all had unnecessarily complex outfits, so he guessed he shouldn’t be too surprised.

“…Y’know,” Mista said as he watched Giorno hanging the clothes with Pistols flitting around him. It was surprisingly domestic. “It doesn’t matter that your parents never cared. I don’t think so, anyway. Know why?”

Giorno eyed him suspiciously, a single eyebrow raise giving him the go ahead to continue.

“Because you already have a new family.”

Giorno’s face was mostly unreadable, his muscles schooled in a careful feature of indifference, and Mista now knew why he was so good at hiding his expressions. What good were they with a family who didn’t care. However, he could see the slight twitch in the blond’s brow, the way his green eyes sparkled in the light, how his ears pinkened at the tips.

“I don’t think everyone would agree with you,” he murmured quietly, averting his gaze to the grassy field beneath his feet.

Mista frowned. “Well who needs everyone?” He stepped over the basket and moved to Giorno’s side, lifting his chin up to make eye contact. Giorno’s eyes seemed to glow gold in the sunlight. “You got me. And Pistols. We’ll be your family.”

Mista watched how those green eyes widened, how his peach-colored lips parted ever so slightly in an ‘o’ of surprise, the way the pink from Giorno’s ears finally travelled down to dust across his pretty porcelain skin as he was at a loss for words.

Giorno jerked his head back suddenly, Mista stumbling backwards in shock from the forceful movement and he wondered for a brief, horrible second if he had gone too far.

Then Giorno’s soft lilting voice murmured, “…I would like that.”

“So would I,” Mista grinned, relief coursing through him. “I’m sure Pistols agrees, right guys?”

There was a chorus of loud voices all yelling varying degrees of agreement to the statement and then insults aimed at how sappy Mista was being and he had to shut them down once Two started talking about how Mista skipped a step and needed to propose first.

“We should really finish up here,” Giorno said softly, thankfully ignoring that last bit, although Mista could tell he’d definitely heard it by the way he avoided Mista’s gaze. “It’s already past 1500, if we want to have them dry by the time Bucciarati gets back, we should get to work.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Mista agreed, a little disappointed the moment was ruined, but when you have six whiny kids, what else can you really expect? “Man, can you imagine his face if he comes back and sees us all wearing towels and blankets and shit?”

“I’m actually imagining Abbacchio’s face when he sees that I’m using his sweatpants,” Giorno replied as he hung up his own pinky-purple suit jacket on the line. “Do you think he’d turn as pink as this from anger?”

“I think he’d turn more blue,” Mista mused, grinning wickedly. “On account of how he’d probably stop breathing from the shock.”

“You’re right, he would,” Giorno agreed with a smile. “So we’d best get this done. I don’t want to be the reason that Bucciarati loses his boyfriend. The guilt would kill me.”

“Just over Bucciarati, huh?”

“Of course. If Abbacchio feels no guilt or remorse for how he treats me despite my being accepted onto the team, I see no reason why I can’t do the same.”

“He’s accepted you,” Mista said, passing Trish’s weird math skirt over to Giorno to hang it up as the Pistols messed around with the clothespins that hadn’t been used yet. “He’s just a crotchety old man is all. Who’s possessive. Really possessive.”

“Really? I couldn’t tell,” Giorno answered sarcastically. “Ah, careful Six and Seven, I’d have to wash that if you knock it off the line undoing the clothespins.”

As the two chorused ‘sorry’s as they flitted away to mess with something else, Mista regarded Giorno with surprise. “You can tell which is which?” he asked in mild shock. “It took the others months to figure it out. Fugo and Narancia still don’t know, although I’m pretty sure Fugo calls them the wrong numbers just to mess with them.”

“They’re all quite different,” Giorno explained as he pulled one of the last things from the basket, Mista’s leather tiger print pants. God, he hoped they weren’t ruined from being thrown in with everything else but he wasn’t about to complain to Giorno about it. “So it’s easy to tell them apart if I think of them as such. In fact, they’re all very much like you, Mista, all different facets of your personality. I like them all very much.”

“That mean you like me too?” Mista teased, secretly hoping that Giorno would roll with it even though it probably wasn’t a secret that he wanted that really. Giorno smirked slyly.

“I suppose you’re not so bad either,” he teased back with an exaggerated sigh that made Mista’s grin only widen. That answer was more than good enough, in his opinion.

“Now then, what do we do with this?”

Mista looked at what Giorno was pointing at and didn’t know whether to laugh or scream. Fugo’s thong, in all its glory, sat at the bottom of the laundry basket, tiny and hot pink and way more intimidating than one piece of fabric had any business being.

“Well it’s gotta dry, right?” Mista grinned wickedly. He’d take one for the team here, all to see the look on Fugo’s face when he finds out. He grabbed it out of the basket and pinned it on the clothesline with a flourish, using two clothespins to spread it wide so there would be no doubt in anyone’s mind what it was.

Giorno watched him in amusement while picking up the laundry basket to carry it back into the house. He paused for a moment before turning back to look at Mista, an uncharacteristically gentle smile on his face that had the brunet stop in his tracks and stare in awe.

“Mista, thank you. I am very grateful I met you.”

Mista thought he might start crying then and there for a second, so much emotion welling up at Giorno’s words. This was coming from the guy who rarely ever expressed how he felt despite pestering and nagging, who didn’t open up to anyone, and here he was bearing his heart to Mista. There was some kinda poetry in this moment, but Mista was just too stupid to know how to put it properly.

Instead he just smiled back, as wide and happily as he could muster, as he walked over to Giorno and swung his arm around the blond’s shoulder. “Me too, Giorno. I feel the same way.” The blond looked over at him and nodded, a smile still present across his features and Mista thought if only everything was right with the world. “Now come on, we gotta go relieve those three idiots of their boredom, since I’m sure there’s nothing better to watch than me and my amazing poker skills, right?”

Giorno, who had been walking at his side, paused in confusion at his words, and when Mista shot him a questioning look, he said, “No, it’s just- you said watch. Who’s on watch right now? For the safehouse?”

“Oh, Narancia is. Aerosmith is-” Mista looked around and saw no sign of the plane anywhere in the sky, didn’t hear it at all either. Actually, now that he thought about it, had Narancia even been wearing his visor during the game? “-not out. Shit. Giorno, take that back inside, I’ll go fix this.”

“Shouldn’t I look for-”

“Nah, I haven’t noticed anything out of the ordinary while we’ve been out here and neither have the Pistols- and yes, dumbasses, I know you’ve been looking. It would mean someone tracked us last night, since Bucciarati and Abbacchio aren’t back yet, and if that’s the case, then it’s strange to wait this long to do something, And besides Giorno, if someone really did find us, you shouldn’t face them alone when there’s five of us here that can fight.”

Giorno looked surprised but nodded quickly in agreement. “You truly are used to this, aren’t you Mista? You’ve already analyzed the situation, I’m impressed.”

“No please, praise me more,” he grinned as they rushed inside. Sending Five down the hall with Giorno for communication, Three, Six, and Seven to investigate the rest of the house, Mista hurried towards the sitting room the others had gathered in with One and Two flying close behind him.

“Narancia!” he yelled loudly, drawing the startled attention of all three of the teens. Good, they all looked perfectly fine. “Aerosmith. Your watch.”

Narancia looked confused for maybe half a second before realization struck him and Mista didn’t know whether it was a good thing or a bad thing that the kid wore all his emotions on his sleeve because he looked confused, worried, and terrified all at the same time.

Trish’s eyes widened in shock as she whipped her head around to stare at the brunet, who seemed to be trying to shrink into the couch beneath him. Fugo remained expressionless, which was never a good thing.

“Mista! Three, Six, and Seven say they don’t see anyone anywhere except for you guys.”

“Good, thanks One,” Mista replied. “Go ahead and tell them all to come back for now. Oh, and have Five let Giorno know what they saw.”

One nodded and zipped out of the room as Two settled on Mista’s shoulder. “Miiiista, I’m huuuungry.”

“I’ll feed you guys after this, so wait a little longer, okay?”

“I don’t see anyone either,” Narancia added. Mista looked over to see that the brunet had Aerosmith out, judging by the visor over his eye. He was examining the screen carefully as he explained, “I only see five signatures, which are ours, so I don’t think there’s anyone around us right now. I can expand the search but that might pick up animals or bugs outside.”

“No, don’t,” Fugo commanded. Right, he was in charge while Bucciarati was gone. “We don’t want any false alarms. For now, keep Aerosmith circling the house and don’t take that damn visor off until Bucciarati and Abbacchio are back. Mista, get Giorno and tell him to stay in the safehouse for now. We can get the laundry later. Trish, you can either stay in here with us or go back to your room, but you need to have one of us with you at all times. We can’t say for sure that no one is here, although it seems unlikely.”

Trish nodded wordlessly, looking braver than Mista would’ve thought. Well, he supposed she’d already been almost killed by her own dad, how much scarier could things really get. Plus she had Spice Girl to protect her.

“God, I can’t believe this,” Fugo groaned, falling back onto the couch as Mista headed out of the room and down the hall towards Giorno. “Narancia, when they get back, you’d better run because when I catch you, I’m going to-”

Mista didn’t hear the rest of it, too far away to make it out, but he could guess what the blond said. After all, you could probably hear Narancia’s shriek of terror from the damn space station.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t fair, Narancia decided.

Just because he had the bestest Stand for watching the area didn’t mean that he should have to it the whole time, and it made him sleepy when he had Aerosmith out for too long, but all Fugo cared about was that he’d forgotten for one teensy tiny little second to keep watch.

Okay, maybe it was longer than that, but still! No one was there! Giorno and Mista had checked the house while he and Fugo stayed with Trish. The whole time, he’d busied himself with the very important task of avoiding meeting Fugo’s icy glare that he was pretty sure would drill a hole into his skull sooner or later. And it didn’t make sense why anyone would attack them now because if they knew where they were, then they woulda done something while they were sleeping, right? Narancia wasn’t that dumb, he’d at least sort of processed that it was probably safe or he wouldn’t have unconsciously released Aerosmith.

Fugo didn’t wanna hear any of that though; instead, he just yelled at Narancia for nearly half an hour straight and Narancia was convinced that his ears were bleeding and the only reason the others couldn’t tell was because he’d pulled his bandana done over his ears to muffle Fugo. And it wasn’t like he wanted to hurt Trish either! He really didn’t like that Fugo kept bringing it back to that every other sentence.

At one point he’d almost yelled at the blond that he’d abandoned Trish once already so what did he care if Narancia forgot his watch but he managed to not do that at the last second. He was mad at Fugo for being so unfair but he didn’t wanna make his friend sad. Just wanted to yell at him back a little.

So he did and they both screamed at each other until Fugo had reached for a kitchen knife and Narancia had grabbed his switchblade and that was when Giorno, who’d stayed behind to ‘mediate’ after Mista dragged Trish somewhere else away from them, decided he’d had enough and made them both stop before Naracia kicked Fugo’s ass because really, Fugo could never beat him in a knife fight, Narancia was too good for that.

“Both of you, just calm down,” Giorno had said exasperatedly, massaging his temple with one hand as he rested the other on his hip. “Screaming will not change what happened. No one’s hurt and no one’s here but us, so let’s just let it go, okay?”

“Like hell I will!” Fugo all but shrieked. “Bucciarati left me in charge and-”

“Exactly, Fugo. I don’t mean to butt in but with all due respect, Bucciarati made me your second, and as your advisor, I suggest you reign in your temper a bit. Screaming won’t help anything, you know better than that.”

Fugo looked successfully abashed and finally set the knife down with a heavy sigh as he muttered that he was going to the kitchen to get a drink of water and cool his head. Narancia stuck his tongue out at the boy’s retreating back, deciding he’d have to get back at him more later.

Until Giorno turned to him and chewed him out as well.

Somehow it was worse when Giorno did it than with Fugo because Giorno was a really calm, serious guy and he was really mature and Narancia admired that so when he got mad, he did it quietly and calmly for the most part and that reminded him of Bucciarati. A lot.

“I’m sorry,” he said, a pitiful expression on his face. “I didn’t mean to, honest! I just dropped my guard a little! I won’t do it again, don’t be angry, Giorno.”

“I’m not angry, Narancia-” uh oh, he’d heard this before, he knew where it was going; “-Just disappointed.”

“Nooooo that’s even worse!” he whined, grabbing Giorno’s arm tightly as he looked up pleadingly at the blond (why was it that everyone was taller than him when he was older, totally unfair). “Giorno, I’m sorry! Really!”

“I know,” the blond soothed and Narancia was secretly pleased that he dropped his frustration so quickly and could move on because a certain someone never did! “But maybe you should try telling Fugo that. Instead of yelling back at him.”

Ugh. Of course he brought up the exact someone Narancia was directing his ire at.

He frowned, puffing out his cheeks in a pout as he spun around and crossed his arms over his chest. Flopping down onto the couch without looking at Giorno, he huffed, “Only if he apologizes first! He didn’t have to be so mad!”

Narancia could hear Giorno sigh behind him and figured the blond was probably rolling his eyes, but a few moments later, the couch shifted next to him and Giorno was beside him with a hand resting on his shoulder.

“Narancia, it takes a very big person to admit their mistakes, and an even bigger one to apologize first. I’m sure you know that though, as the older one between the two of you.”

“I know what you’re trying to do,” he said grudgingly.

“Oh? And what is that?”

“You’re playing the age card so I go make up with Fugo.” Narancia rolled his eyes. He may be dumb but he wasn’t stupid! He knew when someone was trying to trick him! “You’re using, uh, backwards physiology!”

Giorno stifled a laugh as he asked, “Do you mean reverse psychology?”

“Yeah, that!”

“And is it working?”

Narancia scowled even further because it was, dammit! Because he knew Giorno was right and that Fugo was angry and that he hated it when he and Fugo fought even though it happened nearly every other day. Not because of the weird logic thing Giorno tried to use, but because of the actual logic he was saying. And because Narancia felt guilty.

“No!” he answered indignantly even as he stood up to go down the hallway. Giorno was smirking and even though it pissed him off, Narancia thought it was nice to see Giorno looking happy for once. Although he seemed to look like that more now that he was hanging around Mista. Narancia thought that made sense; Mista was a lot of fun to be around.

He was about to go to the kitchen when Mista nearly barreled into him as he rushed down the staircase, yelling about some new spa thing they could do that Trish told him about and Narancia thought that was awfully girly of them but Trish was a girl and maybe Mista took that comment about his smell to heart. Plus playing with each other’s hair sounded fun and he had wanted to mess with Giorno’s for a while and quickly followed them upstairs, his previous task forgotten.

The next hour was spent messing around with the stuff that Trish brought with her. Fugo joined them at some point, while Narancia was getting his nails done, and he made sure to point at Aerosmith’s visor with a scowl as Trish yelled at him to not move. She painted all their nails (Narancia’s were this really bright purple with little orange tips and he really liked them a lot) and told them gossip stories about her friends and Narancia found he was very invested in whether or not her friend Giulia would go back to Lorenzo or stay with that French exchange student Raphael after she found out that their mortal enemy, that slut Camilla (Trish’s words, not his) was after Lorenzo now. This was as exciting as those soap operas that Abbacchio would watch when he thought he wouldn’t get caught! Plus Trish looked really happy when she talked about them and he hoped that she’d get to go back and see them all again once this was over.

By the time Giorno said that they needed to get their clothes back on because Bucciarati and Abbacchio would be back soon, it was nearing evening and they all had manicures, fancy hairstyles, and smooth skin from Trish’s homemade facials to show for it.

It felt nice to be back in his clothes, which were mostly dry but still maybe just the tiniest bit damp in some places, but that was okay with him. They smelled good now, like citrus detergent and warm sunshine and it made him feel good.

No sooner had they all re-dressed than the capo returned to the safehouse, arms full with bags of supplies. Abbacchio wasn’t far behind him, holding some stuff as well. One of the packages, he noted, contained what was likely pizza crust and Narancia could barely contain his excitement.

His giddiness disappeared however, as Bucciarati set everything down on the countertops in the kitchen before he turned to address Fugo.

“Did anything happen while we were gone?”

Narancia felt his blood run cold. Bucciarati wouldn’t be that mad, just a little, but he would be really disappointed and Narancia would have to deal with that look that he got that made him feel worse than shit and who knows when Bucciarati would forgive him and-

“Nothing really.”

Wait, what? He stared at Fugo in shock, barely believing what his ears were hearing. Did- did he really just say that? But that wasn’t true, Narancia almost-

“As you can see, we had a spa day,” Fugo added nonchalantly, holding out his nails for Bucciarati to inspect while Abbacchio scoffed in annoyance even though everyone knew he was just jealous. “And killed the time with some card games. Everything went fine.”

“I see.” Bucciarati believed it, and he had no reason not to, Narancia realized, as he admired Fugo’s manicure. “I’m glad you all had a nice time and were able to relax. Perhaps later you would do mine for me as well, Trish?”

The pink-haired girl flushed bright red as she stammered out a quick ‘yes, of course’ and Narancia wondered what that was about but then he remembered he had more important things to deal with.

Fugo was staring carefully at him, his eyes a mix of emotions that Narancia could barely recognize and he knew what he needed to do.

“Fugo!” he called, louder than necessary as he bounded over to the blond and latched onto his arm. “Now that they’re back, let’s go on a walk! I got stuff to tell you!”

He could see Giorno and Mista exchange a look and he pushed down the urge to get embarrassed as Bucciarati considered his prospect.

“As long as you return within an hour, I see no reason why you can’t. Be on your guard and don’t get separated though, alright? If either of you get lost in those woods…”

He didn’t need to finish; they both knew that there wasn’t time to look for any stragglers when they would have to leave. And they had plans for leaving tomorrow around noon.

Narancia didn’t give Fugo any time to voice any complaints he might have had, just held on tight to his arm and proceeded to drag him from the house and towards that little walking path he’d noticed earlier that he’d wanted to go see anyways.

“…I’m not going to run off,” Fugo muttered as they walked beneath the canopy of oak trees and flowering cherry laurels, the air smelling of the sea and spring flowers. “So you can let go already.”

Narancia frowned but did anyways, only to grab his hand instead and squeeze it as he entwined their fingers. “There! This is fine, right?”

Fugo rolled his eyes but he didn’t say anything and Narancia saw the pink color dusting his cheeks despite the shade of the trees and decided that no answer was as good as saying yes.

“Um…” he began, trying to figure out the right words to say. “I’m sorry, Fugo. I shouldn’t have gotten mad at you back.”

Looking at him in shock, Fugo remained silent, apparently lost for words.

Narancia huffed: “I don’t know why you’re so surprised, I say sorry all the time. Plus I’m the one who fucked up in the first place, so I owe it. It’s not that weird, is it?”

“No, it’s just- well, I guess I wasn’t expecting you to apologize so quick. I thought I’d be the first one to do it, like-”

“Like all the other times we’ve fought?”

“Yeah.” At least Fugo had the decency to look kind of ashamed when admitting that’s what he thought. Not that he was wrong so Narancia didn’t really know why he felt bad about it.

“Well y’know Fugo, I figured that as the older one, I need to set a good example for you and Giorno! And Trish too! So I decided to be the bigger man this time.”

“That so?” Fugo answered with a roll of his eyes but the typical fondness he wore when he and Narancia hung out was back. “I guess I’m sorry too. Not for being angry with you, but I could’ve been a little nicer about yelling at you. Or yelled less in general.”

“Nah, it’s fine, if you didn’t start screaming, I’d be scared for your sanity! I’d think an enemy Stand was impersonating you or something!”

“Hey! I am not that bad!”

“You kind of are, dude,” Narancia snickered as Fugo flushed red, about to say something back when something caught Narancia’s attention.

His visor had blips on it. Ones that weren’t theirs.

Before Fugo could say anything, Narancia had slapped his hand over his friend’s mouth and gestured to his Stand’s visor. This was bad; they were in the middle of strange woods but still far too close to the safehouse to feasibly consider just running. No, they’d have to stay and fight.

“Could it be animals?” Fugo hissed, but Narancia shook his head.

“It’s too big to be any kind of animal; I excluded them from Aerosmith’s range already. But it also seems smaller than a normal human for some reason.” He watched as the two blips drew closer, rustling noises in the bushes some twenty yards away drawing their gazes. Narancia narrowed his eyes, Aerosmith’s motor roaring overheard as it approached. “Let’s-”

There was a sharp whistling noise and something flew through the air, straight at Fugo.

“Look out!”

Narancia acted before he thought, leaping up and crashing into Fugo, throwing himself and the blond to the ground as something soared over their heads to thud against a tree trunk just a small ways behind them.

Jerking his head up, Narancia prepared his Stand for an attack as the bushes rustled and out from them emerged-

A little kid?

A small tanned boy with sandy blond hair and freckles was staring at them in confusion, the remnants of an apology on his lips and a baseball glove in one hand. A baseball glove. And rolling towards them from the tree trunk it hit was a dirty baseball with one of the red seams tearing at the end.

“Um… I-I didn’t see anything!” the kid cried quickly just as another boy stepped through the bushes, this one even shorter than the other but with the same coloring to him. “Gah, Benito, d-don’t look!”

The kid slapped his hand over the boy’s eyes as Narancia finally realized what the hell he was talking about.

He had leapt on top of Fugo to push him out of the way, and that had ended with Fugo lying with his back on the ground, one arm pinned beneath him and the other above his head, Narancia’s hands on either side of the blond’s head propping himself up, positioned awkwardly on Fugo’s lap with one knee between Fugo’s legs. Narancia suddenly had flashbacks to Giorno and Mista as he jerked away and off of Fugo.

“N-No, no!” he yelled frantically, face burning from embarrassment. “It’s not what it looks like!”

Fugo sat up as Narancia tried to explain, rubbing the back of his head that had smacked the ground as he eyed the two children suspiciously.

“What are you doing out here?” he asked softly, tone icily vicious as the two little boys stiffened in fear at his words.

“N-Nothing, signor, we were j-just playing,” the older one stuttered, pushing the smaller one behind him nervously.

“Fugo, you’re scaring them!” Narancia scolded, eyeing the gloves both boys wore as he picked up the baseball and held it out to them. “Sorry about my friend, he’s just an angry guy.”

“They could be the enemy!” Fugo hissed under his breath.

“They’re kids; there’s no way, Fugo. Besides, I’m just giving them back their ball.”

When neither of the children stepped forward, Narancia added loud enough for them to both hear, “We’re not gonna do anything, don’t worry.”

The taller one swallowed before walking nervously up to Narancia, taking the baseball carefully from his outstretched hand.

“I played baseball when I was little too, y’know!” Narancia said happily. “But ya gotta watch where you throw that ball, bambino!”

“I’m not a kid,” he said indignantly. “My name is Bartolomeo, not bambino!”

“Bambi then,” Narancia grinned, kneeling down. He could hear Fugo groaning behind him but he didn’t really care; Narancia had always liked kids and had always wanted a little brother and they were just kids, there was no way they could be Stand users! “You’re a pretty good big brother, huh, protecting your little bro like that!”

The boy seemed to puff out with pride as he proclaimed, “You bet I am! I’m teaching Benito baseball so he can play with me when he starts primary school this fall! He’s not very good though.”

“That’s not true, fratello, I’m really good! I even caught all your pitches, remember?”

“You’re right, how could I forget,” Bartolomeo replied, grinning as he patted his little brother’s head. “Just not as good as me yet!”

Narancia grinned. “Are you two from around here?”

“We live in Maristella,” the older brother said, “But we’re camping here in the park for a few days to practice our skills we learned in scouts!”

“The Italian Scout Federation,” Fugo observed, finally deciding to quit moping around and go join the conversation. “I wanted to join as well when I was about your age but my parents didn’t allow me to.”

“Really? Well, I could teach you!” Bartolomeo exclaimed excitedly. “It’d be so much fun, signor!”

Narancia giggled as he reached out to ruffle the boy’s blond hair. “We can’t little dude, we gotta be getting back to our own group. It’s its own little version of a scouts troupe!”

The little boy looked disappointed but quickly shook it off when his little brother grabbed his hand and said, “Fratello, we still need to put up our tents.”

“Oh! You’re right Beni, thanks!” The boy turned back to grin at Fugo and Narancia as he said, “It was nice to meet you, signores! Thank you for getting my ball! Come on Benito, I’ll race you back to the campsite!”

With that, the two little boys disappeared into the bushes again, their footsteps quickly fading from earshot as Fugo and Narancia were left to their own devices once again. Narancia was still smiling as he stared at where they’d run off.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have siblings?” he sighed dreamily. “I always wanted to be a big brother, y’know. I’d get to play with them and never be alone and be responsible for them and teach them everything!”

“Hopefully not math,” Fugo scoffed. “Or you’d both be doomed to idiocy forever.”

“Fine, maybe not that,” Narancia grumbled as the pair began to walk back towards the safehouse. It was little moments like this that put it all in perspective, Narancia thought. That life was going on like normal for so many people but for them, they didn’t know if they’d even survive to the next day. None of them had a normal family like that, after all. It wasn’t really something you could have after joining the mafia.

He felt warmth and looked down to see that Fugo had entwined their fingers together, holding Narancia’s hand surprisingly gently. Avoiding the brunet’s gaze, Fugo murmured, “Our own normal is just as normal as theirs. It’s just different. And so is our family. So don’t feel down.”

Narancia watched Fugo for a few seconds before a grin split across his face. “Aw, were you worried about me? That’s so cute, I love you, Fugo!”

“Dumbass,” the blond muttered back, but the squeeze he received in return gave Narancia the answer Fugo left unsaid.

Chapter Text

Despite the awkward question during poker and then the maybe-flirting-maybe-just-smalltalk Mista had had with Giorno outside while hanging up the laundry, Mista had decided that all in all it was a pretty great day so far.

He was over the moon with his manicured nails, small golden stars spattered across the navy blue night sky with white tips reminiscent of the moon. He’d let Trish have free reign, saying to go whole ham since he used his hands with his gun and all the more to look smokin while blowing some asshole’s brains out. When she’d finished, it had been all he could do to not pull out his gun and start firing and posing.

Fugo had teased about the ‘girly’ design, since he’d opted for white skulls against a deep violet backdrop, but then Mista had pointed out that manicures were inherently girly in and of themselves and that using girly as an insult was such a dated insult anyways. Looking thoroughly admonished, Fugo had something back but Mista wasn’t paying attention anymore. He’d realized that the stars looked almost the same shade as Giorno’s hair and it made him love the design all the more.

He was in the middle of adjusting his beanie just as Bucciarati and Abbacchio returned, arms full of brown paper bags that he assumed were supplies and food. Fugo and Narancia were still fighting, the idiot children that they were, so Mista decided to be the adult and help unload the groceries.

It had been only mildly surprising when Fugo had lied straight to Bucciarati’s face, but then again, despite their argument, he was always soft on Narancia. Mista certainly wasn’t gonna break their apparent unspoken vow of silence about the matter, so he just listened as the pair exchanged some words before Narancia was manhandling Fugo out the door - an impressive feat for a guy of his stature.

Bucciarati entered the kitchen, helping him and Abbacchio to put away the groceries in a comfortable silence that reminded Mista of the days when they lived communally in that big apartment in Napoli that Bucciarati owned. When things were still relatively peaceful.

There was the click of shoes down the hardwood and then a voice called, “Mista.”

Ignoring the click of Abbacchio’s tongue behind him, Mista immediately spun around to grin at Giorno. “What can I do ya for?”

“I was wondering if you would help me rebraid my hair?” he asked, gesturing to the golden locks that were cascading around his shoulders like he was Aphrodite or some shit. “For some reason, I keep messing up today.”

Mista saluted and followed him obediently out of the room, disregarding Abbacchio’s comment of ‘like a damn pet dog,’ thinking that maybe it wasn’t too far off anyways. If Giorno wanted him to sit and shake, he’d damn well do it, wagging his tail the whole time.

Giorno settled onto the floor of the sitting room and Mista sat behind him on the couch. Trish spared them barely a glance before she turned back to the latest edition of Grazia that Bucciarati had bought her.

Running his fingers through Giorno’s hair was like feeling silk; it was smooth and soft and almost feather-light in his hands. The curls were more like waves when they were down, crashing forth over the ocean of pale skin that hid beneath them.

“Ya gotta brush?”

Giorno seemed a bit surprised and shook his head. “I normally just use my fingers,” he explained.

Mista shook his head furiously. “Ya gotta take better care of your hair, GioGio,” he said just as Trish suddenly stood up, looking appalled as she rushed from the room.

“When she saw it had changed colors, my mother said it was cursed,” Giorno murmured quietly, face hidden from view as it was fixated on the floor.

“Yeah? Well my mom used to say that if I swallowed a watermelon seed, it’d grow in my stomach but you don’t see me believing it.”

“I hardly think that’s the same thing,” Giorno retorted, but his voice sounded lighter and that was good enough for Mista.

“Here.” Trish reappeared, holding a boar-bristle brush in her hand that she passed it to Mista. “I can’t believe you don’t own a brush; really, boys are so uncouth,” she huffed as she made her way back to the chair.

“Thanks, Trish!” Mista said, flashing her a grin as she flushed and buried her face in the glossy pages of her magazine. “Now then, I’ll get started.”

There were a few tangles in Giorno’s hair near the ends, likely from the inadequate car it had received up until now, but they fell away quick enough, with just a few strokes of the brush. Mista swore that the more he brushed, the more the golden blond hair began to shimmer, almost glowing in the light from the sunset that poured through the window.

He tried to pretend like the little noises of satisfaction Giorno was making didn’t make him feel things that he had no business feeling when he was just brushing hair.

“That feels nice,” Giorno sighed quietly. “You’re very talented, Mista.”

“Did my sister’s hair a bunch back in the day,” he explained with a grin. “She’s the baby of the family, gotta be sure she was all dolled up ‘n everything.”

“You were a good big brother.”

Mista’s grin fell a bit at that. He didn’t say anything as he finished up brushing Giorno’s hair but he figured that if he was a good brother, he wouldn’ta left without a word.

“I’m gonna start braiding now.”

Separating Giorno’s hair into three even groups was a bit harder than he’d thought, since the hair was fine but had volume, and then he fell into the familiar rhythm of one strand over the over, tightening the braid carefully with each plait he made. He knew Giorno preferred it a bit loose and kept that in mind as he moved down the hair. Finishing it off with the loop that Giorno always had, he patted the blond’s shoulder as he sat back.

“All done!” he said cheerily, admiring his handiwork. It wasn’t his best, obviously, but he thought it looked pretty damn good and it also gave him an excuse to touch Giorno’s hair, which he’d been wanting to do for ages now.

“Thank you,” Giorno replied as he stood up, pulling the braid over his shoulder to appraise it. He seemed to like what he saw since a soft smile crossed his face. “It looks wonderful.”

“Then it suits you,” Mista said boldly. Chicks liked confidence, so he figured Giorno might like it too. The blond’s smile deepened as he huffed a quiet laugh.

He looked about to say something when they heard Bucciarati calling from the kitchen, “Giorno, would you mind coming to help me get ready for dinner?”

Like he even had to ask, Mista thought but remained silent. Giorno gave him one last nod of gratitude before he left the room, heading down the hall to join Bucciarati.

Mista reclined back on the sofa, thinking about what to do now. He’d had a pretty damn good day so far but he found that he was still fucking tired despite sleeping real well all night. Maybe his fatigue was just catching him up with him.

He was about to force himself to sit back up and go do something productive when he heard Trish ask from where he sat, “Are all of you gay then? Or is it just you two?”

“Wha- th-that’s- I-”

“Oh please,” she scoffed with a roll of her eyes. “Do you think you’re being subtle? ‘It suits you’? Please. You’re clearly trying to get in his pants. Not that I blame you, Giorno’s like a statue or something.”

He must’ve been glaring at her or something because when she met Mista’s gaze, she looked surprised for a split second before she burst out laughing. “Don’t worry, I’m not interested. I prefer them more mature.” She said that last part dreamily, resting her chin in her hand and clearly thinking of someone in particular.

“Then we won’t have any-”

“You might want to do something about that smell though.”

“Hey!” he cried indignantly. “I showered last night, no way I smell!” He did not mention that he used the same soap as Giorno and that if Giorno smelled so damn good, then surely he must as well. After all, he didn’t think that was really how it worked.

“Maybe it’s just the stench of vulgarity then,” she muttered, examining her fuschia-painted nails as she continued without missing a beat, “Well, I don’t really care one way or another whether you like guys or not. It doesn’t affect me.”

Mista grumbled, “Well good then. Even if I didn’t like Giorno, I wouldn’t pick you anyways.”

Trish let out a shocked gasp and stared at him with her best ‘I’m-so-offended’ look and Mista stuck his tongue out at her. They glared at each other for a few seconds before grinning. Trish really did remind him kinda of his little sister back home and he wondered if this was what their relationship would be like when she grew up too.

“…But hey, ‘n all seriousness, don’t lay into Giorno, ‘kay? I don’t care much but I dunno how he feels about it. Or how he feels in general.”

“I won’t,” Trish answered and Mista could tell she really wouldn’t. “And if I were you, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I’ve been watching both of you, after all.”

Mista frowned. He was about to ask what exactly she meant when they heard the front door slam open and seconds later, Fugo and Narancia were in the sitting room arguing about cereal or whatever and it was far too entertaining to remember to ask Trish anything.

“-not, you fucking dumbass!” Fugo was yelling as he stormed into the room, hands on his hips and anger plastered across his face.

“You’ve already said that but why is it not?!” Narancia all but shrieked as he followed after the blond. “You said it’s not a soup or a stew, so what the fuck is it then?! A salad?!”

“NO! How fucking stupid are you?! Salad is a mixture of vegetables, name one cereal that has vegetables in it!”

“But they’re made out of wheat or some shit, right?! Those are vegetables!” and Mista thought Narancia was making a very good point there; it wasn’t like cereal just popped into existence readymade.

“They’re grains, you idiot!”

“But they’re both plants!”

“They’re completely different food groups!” Fugo shook his head exasperatedly as he said, “I know you dropped out but this is like third grade level stuff, you moron!”

“Then if it’s not salad and it’s not soup, then what the fuck is it?!”

“IT’S JUST FUCKING CEREAL!” and things looked for a second like they were about to get physical with Fugo practically seething and Narancia looked ready to foam at the mouth as they just glared furiously in dead silence at each other.

When Narancia reached into his pocket, Mista was certain that he was going for his pocket knife but instead what he pulled out was a crumpled, yellow dandelion that looked like it had seen better days.

“Sorry Fugo,” he said bashfully, holding it out to the blond as he looked away with a faint pout still on his face.

While Mista was shocked, Fugo didn’t seem at all surprised by this turn of events as he reached out to take the flower from Narancia, features softening as he did so.

“I’m sorry too. Thank you, Nara.”

Narancia grinned and practically threw himself onto the taller boy in an overly-enthusiastic hug that Fugo accepted as easily as he did the flower.

Mista’s mouth was hanging open and he thought he should probably close it as he heard a voice to his left murmuring, “So you guys are gay.”

Trish had a cheshire cat grin across her face when Mista looked at her and clearly only he was meant to hear that and he couldn’t help but snort and shake his head in agreement. After all, when it came to those two, he’d never been sure what they were- best friends, boyfriends, enemies, brothers, pretty much anything could apply.

“Can I interest you fine men in some classic gambling?” he asked as he got up to sling his arms around Fugo and Narancia when they drew apart, waving the deck of cards in his hand with a cocky grin.

“Hope you cleaned off the last time you took a shit,” Fugo chuckled. “Because I’m gonna wipe the floor with your ass and I don’t think Bucciarati would appreciate it if you got shit all over.”

“Oh it’s fucking on.”


The rest of the night had been abnormally relaxed and now, sitting out on the front porch, Fugo wondered how long this peace would continue for.

Surprisingly, it had been Trish who wiped the floor with all of them. She apparently had quite the adept hand when it came to gambling and a poker face that could rival even the most stoic of pro players. They’d only had time for a few rounds before dinner was finally prepared and he, along with the other two, had been more than happy to go eat instead of continue to get their asses kicked.

Bucciarati and Giorno had made pizza, much to Narancia’s delight who ate his own margherita pizza entirely by himself and then had gone to bed early with a sick stomach from overeating. Even though he’d been warned. Fucking idiot.

Dinner had been passed with stories from Bucciarati about what they’d seen in town as Abbacchio made snarky comments. Mista and Narancia enthusiastically recounted the highlights of their game from earlier, this time with Trish making snarky comments that were decidedly far superior to Abbacchio’s, which were really just complaints and bitching from a crotchety old man. Giorno ate in silence, but Fugo observed the subtle changes in his features based on who was talking with keen interest. Then he and Narancia had told the others about the kids they’d met in the forest during their walk.

“Two children? You said they were camping out alone?”

“No, Bruno,” Abbacchio had cut in immediately. “You aren’t adopting two more kids, five is more than enough.”

Narancia had then pointed out that he was counting not only Trish, but Giorno as well in that, and the white-haired man had gotten far more defensive than necessary. It only confirmed what everyone else knew: that he was slowly warming up to the blond. Which Fugo greatly approved of; not only was it good for their team to get along, but Giorno really was a nice guy. Plus Abbacchio really didn’t need to be so jealous about him and Bucciarati’s relationship, they were clearly just friends that admired and respected the other. Besides, Giorno was obviously interested in Mista. But it only seemed obvious to Fugo, and he was more than willing to keep quiet and watch the two struggle on their own. He’d give a push if necessary, but they seemed to be doing fine on their own.

He’d volunteered to keep first watch that night, and when Bucciarati had tried to argue that he was still exhausted from the fight and that he’d almost died, he’d instantly refuted that. The whole day, he’d felt nearly a hundred percent thanks to Giorno and a restful night of sleep that he refused to attribute to waking up that morning and realizing that Narancia had held his hand all night and slept beside him.

The others had slowly trickled off, with Bucciarati and Abbacchio heading off to bed shortly after Narancia went up to sleep off his swollen stomach. Fugo didn’t wanna know what they were planning to do if they weren’t gonna sleep, so he just didn’t think about it.

Giorno was the last one to go to bed, coming out around midnight to tell Fugo that he’d switch with him in a few hours or so before heading off to sleep himself, leaving the house silent aside from the creaking as it settled for the night and the occasional thud from the second floor as people got ready to sleep.

The moon was out, bright and full shining down in a clear sky covered in stars. The night was quiet, with a few crickets and katydids that had hatched early during the warmer nights filling the air with their chirps. The wind was gentle, swishing through the long grass in the yard and out into the field that stretched towards the cliffs behind the house. If he really concentrated, he thought he could hear the crash of the ocean waves against the sheer rock face of the cliffs.

There was a false sense of peace a night like this brought and Fugo didn’t like it.

Another hour of sitting there on the porch keeping watch with occasional patrols around the sides of the house passed by before it was suddenly disrupted.

He first heard the yelling before he saw anything and he was instantly alert, eyes fixated on the direction it was coming from: the woods to his right. Purple Haze appeared at his side, breathing heavily and hissing defensively as it awaited further instructions.

When the first sign of movement appeared, he hurried down the porch steps and stopped at the edge of the house as the figure neared him, Haze charging forwards.

He almost didn’t manage to stop his Stand in time, calling it back merely a second before its fist would have collided with the small child running towards him, which would’ve killed the boy before he even realized what was happening.

Bartolomeo ran straight through Haze as Fugo called him back to his side, not noticing the Stand at all. Instead, he bolted straight for Fugo with fat tears rolling down his face and a desperate look in his eyes.

“How did you-”

Before Fugo could even get his question out, the boy had thrown his arms around Fugo’s waist, looking up at him with round blue eyes glistening in the moonlight as it reflected off the tears welling up in them once again.

“Please, Signor! Help me! It’s Benito! He’s gonna die!”

Chapter Text

Fugo was running after Bartolomeo when his mind finally caught up to his feet. When the boy had grabbed his hand and started pulling him towards the woods he’d appeared from, he’d just started following before he thought about it, truly thought about it.

And even then, he kept going.

Because even though he’d been taught to question everything anyone says, to think before acting, to hesitate, he remembered where that had led him just a few days ago. How he could’ve killed one of his closest friends for a cause he couldn’t quite bring himself to believe in. He was tired of blindly adhering to the rules of Passione without questioning them. That was the difference, right? That was part of why everyone else had gone without regrets? Maybe he needed to try acting on his heart rather than his brain.

And if there really was a little boy about to die and he needed help, then Fugo wanted to help. It’s what everyone else would have done. It’s what Bucciarati would have done.

He didn’t know the situation, what if there wasn’t time to tell the others? What if those precious minutes meant the difference between an innocent child’s life and death? And what if, despite his own beliefs, no one went at all? What if this was wrong?

Fugo couldn’t question this any longer or he’d break down before even getting there.

“What happened?” he asked as he sped up to fall into pace just a few steps behind Bartolomeo.

The boy was breathing hard already, clearly running as fast as he could, but he managed to stammer out, “A tree… fell… hit Beni.”

That wasn’t really what he’d expected to hear but it made sense. He’d spotted quite a few dead trees in the surrounding wood when he’d been there with Narancia, unable to stop himself from surveying their surroundings even when things were at their relatively safest. If the kids had set up camp beneath one, it could easily have toppled over if it was rotting on the inside. And a child was unlikely to be able to lift it, even if it was already dead.

“Alright,” he said, really wishing that he had Narancia with him. He wasn’t used to being around young children and it was a little uncomfortable; how do you comfort a kid?

“It’ll be okay,” he said carefully, trying to choose the right words. “We’ll get him out.”

When Bartolomeo looked back at him with that terrified expression, he flashed him what he hoped was a supportive smile. He probably looked more psychopathic than comforting but hey, he was trying.

“I’m sorry…”

That was a little confusing, what was he sorry for? Coming to get help from him instead of others? It made sense to Fugo, they were camping out and if it was truly to practice boy scout skills, then they would be farther away from where they lived. The safehouse wasn’t far from the woods and Bartolomeo knew where it was and that people were there so it was logical that he would choose to go somewhere that he was certain would have help.

He was about to ask when the boy slowed down, clutching Fugo’s hand tightly as he pointed to a bit further in the trees and said, “It’s just up ahead, Signor.”

Fugo nodded, wrapping his fingers around the child’s clammy, trembling hand and followed close behind.

Just as they got to a clearing, Bartolomeo suddenly squeezed his hand as tight as he could, whispering a barely audible, “Please be okay,” before they stepped through the trees.

Ah.

It all suddenly clicked.

This was a set up. He’d been lied to.

There was indeed a campsite, remains of a small fire and the shreds of a ruined tent obscured by the three figures standing before them. A little boy, Benito, was held tight in one of the men’s grip, visibly shaking as the group turned to face the new arrivals.

“So it was this after all.”

Fugo hadn’t wanted to believe that it could be a set up, although the thought had crossed his mind multiple times in the past ten or so minutes he’d spent running there. That children were capable of such things. But of course they were, he himself knew how they’d act when pushed too far; after all, he was no different at that age.

And he couldn’t blame the boy, not really. They had weapons. They had his brother.

He couldn’t leave. He wanted to, oh God, did he want to, that roiling feeling building in his gut as the cold, hard dread that something was terribly wrong sprouted in his chest. But he couldn’t just run off because that wouldn’t be right, because it wouldn’t fit with how he was trying to change… because these children were innocent. Just like Trish.

“I-I brought him! Let B-Beni go!”

The three men seemed to regard Bartolomeo with barely a second glance before who Fugo assumed was their leader, a buff man in ugly polkadot leggings with dreadlocks, burst out laughing, with the other two lackeys quickly joining in.

“Be quiet,” the man growled as he turned to face Fugo. “I don’t give two shits about some piss-soaked brat barely weaned from his fucking mom, so keep your trap shut or I’ll blow his fucking brains out.”

Bartolomeo looked like he wanted to protest but wisely held his tongue, shrinking away from Fugo’s side with a nervous glance at the blond before fixing his gaze on his brother.

“As for you-” he looked at Fugo as he said this, “-you’re the best one outta the six of ya that coulda come. The coward who switched sides twice already. What a fucking joke.”

Breathe, Fugo told himself, deep breaths, stay calm, don’t explode, not when there’s children around, not when Haze can’t control his capsules yet, not when everyone could die if he lost his cool. He dug the fingers that he wanted to smash into this goddamn fucker’s face into his palms, grinding his teeth in rage.

Now that he could see the man’s face, he recognized him as a low ranking capo from Passione who was in charge of a fairly large team of non-Stand users.

“Pissface, wasn't it?” he asked innocently, knowing full well that wasn't the man's name.

“It's Pistacchio,” he growled, dark yellow eyes alight with an anger that brought Fugo great delight. “And you're the poison fucker who likes t’ think he's smarter than everyone else.”

“I don't mean to think that, you just make it so easy,” Fugo drawled, face a mask of faux nonchalance.

“Fucker! I'll fucking-” one of his lackeys grabbed their capo’s arm and Fugo watched as Pistacchio whipped his head around to glare at the man before shaking his hand off. He seemed to try to calm himself though before saying, “Ya coulda stayed on the right side, y’know? Boss ain’t gonna let ya go now, but don’t worry, he won’t hafta make the call, we’ll do it for him!”

One of the men shifted next to the leader, whispering way too loudly for secrecy, “Capo, we don’t have orders to-”

“I don’t give two shits!” the man cut him off, smashing his fist into the man’s cheek and sending him reeling. So he didn’t take opinions well. That fit perfectly with what Fugo knew of the man. “They’re all supposed to die, yea?! That’s what he said, all’a Bucciarati’s pathetic little brats, right?! And that includes this fucker.”

Pistacchio was waving his gun around wildly during his tirade and Fugo was waiting, waiting for just the right moment to make his move because there were still two other guns trained on him. He couldn't use Purple Haze without risking hurting the children and his conscience would never allow that. He needed a distraction. He needed-

“Ah, I'm bored. Die already.” With the lightning speed of a trained professional, Pistacchio pointed his gun at Fugo from where it had been in the air and fired.

“No!”

Just as he was about to bolt forwards, Fugo felt something slam into him from the side and it took him half a second to realize that Bartolomeo had shoved him away. He didn’t have time to be surprised that a child was that brave, instead forcing himself to change his plan instantaneously, using that forwards motion to roll into a somersault, launching himself into the air with the last of that force and spinning his legs out as he balanced on his hands to kick Pistacchio’s legs hard, sending the shocked capo flailing to the ground.

Three things happened all at once.

The first is that he dropped his gun, the clatter it made as it fell to the ground obscured by the sudden shouting. It was in Fugo’s reach.

Pistacchio also dropped Benito, which was the main goal Fugo was hoping for. Vaulting himself off the ground, using the momentum to ram one of his feet into the face of one of the other men as he shot upwards, he grabbed the boy and the second he had footing on the ground, he threw the boy as hard as he could backwards, towards where he’d left Bartolomeo on the ground a few meters behind him.

He didn’t have time to be sure the kid had a safe landing because the other two men weren’t just going to stand there, and even as he kicked that one man in the face, they’d already trained their guns on him and fired.

Fugo used the spinning momentum he’d gained from throwing the little boy to dodge the bullets from the guy who was still standing, the one who’d had his foot in his face missing him by a mile anyway. With a well-placed step, he slammed his fist into the man’s face, quickly following up that kick he’d given him with a deft right hook right in his nose.

As he buckled forwards, Pistacchio had begun to pick himself off the ground, looking for the gun he’d dropped. Fugo couldn’t let him get it, twisting around to push off his first victim’s chest with one of his feet which launched himself forwards and the man backwards, the blows to his solar plexus from the kick and the one-two combo to his face apparently knocking him out as he crumbled to the ground.

The other lackey was firing off again and Fugo barely had time to jerk his head to the side as one of the bullets whistled past his cheek, the other slicing through the soft flesh of his arm. He hardly felt it as blood bubbled up from the wound, adrenaline pumping through his veins as he kicked the gun out of Pistacchio’s reach.

The capo cursed but reacted immediately by changing his trajectory and shooting his hand out for Fugo’s legs instead, one of them wrapping around his ankle. Fugo cursed mentally; the guy must’ve had reinforced gloves on or something, normal human strength unable to cause that throbbing that had arisen along with the popping feeling he’d felt in the bone.

Fugo knew he’d expect him to go down for a punch, so as the other lackey closed in on him and the capo tightened his grip, Fugo jumped upwards, using the thick part of his skull to bash into the other lackey’s chin with a vicious headbutt. It was enough to startle Pistacchio into loosening his fingers and that was all Fugo needed him to do, bringing his other foot down on the capo’s wrist with a sickening crunch.

The man screamed and let go, the lackey stumbled back with blood pouring from his nose and Fugo leapt backwards and shot for the gun he’d kept tabs on the entire time.

His fingers closed around it just as the lackey regained his sense enough to aim at fire again, a tearing sensation filling Fugo’s side with warm, sticky red. It took him a millisecond to decide it hadn’t hit anything vital as he spun back around, using the stumble he’d had from being shot to steady himself into a back handspring, avoiding the rest of the shots with ease from his erratic movements.

He was within range of the lackey now, using his handspring to get close enough to grab the man’s shoulders when he stepped out of the way to avoid being smacked by Fugo’s legs. Swinging the man around in front of him just as Pistacchio recovered his unconscious ally’s gun and shot, hitting his own lackey in the legs just as Fugo snapped his shoulder back, dislocating it with a popping noise that mixed with the man’s screams.

Shoving the man towards his capo, Fugo used him as a shield as he darted forwards himself, counting out the six shots from the capo’s recovered now-useless pistol. With nothing else to defend himself, he saw Pistacchio reach desperately towards a pocket of his jacket, likely to pull out a knife or maybe another gun, but Fugo was too fast for him.

When Pistacchio moved out of the way of his second lackey as the man toppled to the ground, arm uselessly swinging behind him, Fugo sprung forwards and grabbed the man’s throat. He used his momentum to push forwards, slamming the capo to the ground as well, the grip on his windpipe and the combined force of hitting the ground knocking the breath from the man.

Without a second to waste, Fugo had twisted the man around onto his stomach, straddling his back with his arms pinned behind it with one hand, the cocked gun he’d recovered in his other and positioned against Pistacchio’s head.

“You- H-How-”

“How many.”

“Wha-”

“How. Many.”

“A-All my men!” Pistacchio stammered, apparently giving up on playing dumb. “T-Twenty or so! H-How did you- you’re j-just a Stand user!”

Fugo cocked his head. Was that really all this man thought they did? Use their Stands to fight their battles? How naive.

Purple Haze appeared at his side, hissing and frothing just centimeters from Pistacchio’s face, the man unable to even tell at all.

The Stand moved over to one of the lackeys lying unconscious in the ground, digging one of its hands into the man's hair with a grace Fugo had initially thought impossible and yanking it up so Pistaccho could see his man’s face clearly. When he tried to look away in fear, Fugo grabbed his chin, fingernails digging into his cheeks as he pulled up his head and forced the capo to stare at his lackey.

With a sadistic grin on his face, Fugo leveled the gun with the lackey and hissed into Pistachio’s ear, “I never needed a Stand to kill.”

It was over with a single shot to the forehead, Haze dissipating as the man's limp body thudded to the ground, blood soaking onto the grass beneath him.

Pistacchio whimpered in terror, squeezing his eyes shut as Fugo quickly disposed of the second man as well. He felt Pistacchio’s body flinch as the gunshot rang out, leaving him the only enemy left alive.

“You should have picked the right side,” Fugo mocked as he finally turned the gun back on the capo. All it took was a single shot to the back of his head, the man’s body jerking beneath Fugo’s hips as the gun went off before lying still.

Once they were dead, blood spilling onto the ruined campsite and staining the ground crimson, he turned to run back to the house and- and stopped.

The two boys were still there huddled together, Bartolomeo holding his brother close to his chest to hide the boy’s face, perhaps to spare him of the slaughter he himself had just witnessed, as he stared at Fugo with a mix of shock and horror. There was a small trickle of blood running down the boy’s arm, and Fugo realized it must have been from that first bullet. From trying to protect Fugo himself.

When Fugo took a step towards them, the boy flinched back and Fugo stopped.

He thought about what he must look like, covered in blood that was both his own and others, dirt and mud plastered against his bare skin, blond hair stained red. Thought about what this child who couldn’t be more than eight or nine had just seen. He had to remind himself that this reaction was normal, that he had no time to care about them, and forced himself to keep walking forwards despite the pang of guilt and sorrow he felt in his chest.

As he walked past the two boys, he heard a soft voice stammer out, “Y-You’re h-hurt,” and turned his icy gaze upon the older child.

“Go home,” was all he said in response. “Go home and forget everything you just saw. Never tell a single soul.”

When Bartolomeo nodded his head furiously, Fugo turned back and started running into the woods. He almost missed the whispered “thank you” from the terrified child watching him go. Almost.

He ran.

His chest hurt. Was it the gunshot wound or his own lungs that burned so badly from running with all his might? He didn’t slow down.

Twenty. That’s what he’d said. Twenty men versus the five left back at the house. Six if he counted Trish, but he doubted she could really kill someone. She was too naive, too innocent to do so. Her hands weren’t red like his was.

That meant at best, each would have to take down four alone. And that was without the fact that Fugo had left his post. They would have no warning. Unless someone was awake by some lucky coincidence, the enemy would have the element of surprise.

Why hadn’t he thought it through better? Why hadn’t he considered the possibility that it was a trap - but he had and he’d determined it was worth it. But was it? If he arrived back at the safehouse and everyone was dead- what was that worth? Just his own foolishness? Just his idiotic naivety in hopes of changing? Why did that even matter to him right now? Why was he so stupid?

He ran.

He ran and ran and ran, desperately praying that he was going the right way, too frantic to truly process his surroundings and gain his bearings in the woods. There wasn’t time for that. There wasn’t time to watch where he stepped, stumbling over roots and stones, tree branches raking across his arms and face as he ignored them entirely. There wasn’t time to worry about his own injuries, superficial as they were, about how this was the third time he’d had his chest split open in as many days. Giorno would-

If he was alive. If any of them were.

It felt like hours before he saw the trees thinning around him as he flew past them, strange cracking noises welling up from ahead of him. They grew louder as he approached, a flicker of light flashing through the trees that confused him.

The light grew bigger as he neared the break in the trees, the noises louder, the smell of something foul rising in the air. It was only when he’d reached the edge of the woods, finally able to see without branches obscuring his vision, that he located the source of the light, the noise, the smell.

The safehouse.

The safehouse was burning.

Chapter Text

Mista woke to the smell of smoke and flickering lights in the doorway.

For a brief second, he was thrown back to the days of living with his family, when their old man was at work and their ma was doing laundry and his brothers would run in jumping on his bed as his sister carried in a breakfast of burnt toast and tomatoes and he’d eat every damn bite.

And then he blinked and breathed in and nearly choked on the blanket of smoke hanging in the bedroom, the sounds of flames licking up the walls finally reaching his ears and he refocused.

Everything was ablaze.

Well, not everything, he wasn’t and the bed wasn’t and honestly most of the room was flame-free but the door was wide open and there was fire in the halls and it was creeping up one of the walls near the doorway and the rug had caught fire as well and that would spread a lot faster than the one on the wall would.

He knew he was a heavy sleeper but holy fuck, he could’ve died. Why hadn’t Giorno woken him? He looked to his left and immediately realized why.

Couldn’t really say something if you weren’t there, now could ya?

Which begged the question: where the fuck was he?!

Mista barely had time to yank on his pants and sweater, preferring to sleep shirtless in his boxers, using his beanie to cover his mouth and nose from the smoke as he called Sex Pistols out.

“There’s fire!”

“What did you burn down?”

“Mista, I’m scaaaared!”

“Shut up!” he snapped, drawing his gun out as he heard a noise in the hall that definitely wasn’t from the fire. Fire didn’t make footsteps.

He had taken a few steps towards the door just as a man passed through the fire in the hall, wearing what looked like some weird, shiny black suit, probably flame retardant. Mista froze, the guy seeming shocked to see someone in the room as well, and they both stared for a split second before the man thrust his hand down, reaching for his belt.

Mista grabbed the nearest thing, the potted plant near the window and chucked it as hard as he could. The guy had just pulled out a gun from his belt when the pot collided with his head, an ugly cracking sound resounding over the crackling of the flame and the guy crumbled to the ground as Mista rushed towards him.

He needed both hands, didn’t have time to maneuver between combat and holding something over his face so he yanked his shirt up and hoped it would stay over his mouth and nose. It looked ridiculously stupid but that didn’t matter right now.

Upon reaching the door, it was quite clear the guy was dead. If it hadn’t been because of the fractured skull that was oozing blood onto the floor, it was from the flames igniting across the man’s face causing the skin to blister and bubble and melt away. The gun looked in good shape though and Mista pocketed it, two weapons better than one.

“Check the rooms,” he ordered Pistols as he crept into the hall, keeping a careful eye for any movement as he analyzed the best path to the stairs.

The fire was much more widespread in the hallway, old paintings and peeling wallpaper aiding the combustion as a layer of smoke was settling against the ceiling and beginning to ooze its way into eye level. The floor itself wasn’t too bad however, a few patches of rugs that hadn’t been fully burned left along with figures he could only make out as burnt corpses.

He rushed down the hall, stopping only once to poke his head into Fugo and Narancia’s room. When he found it empty, he was satisfied and went for the stairs.

A noise behind him, the click of a gun, and he only had a second to react as a gunshot cut through the air, whistling towards his head. It only grazed his cheek, cutting through the protective layer against his face like it was nothing and he cursed again. Just great; he couldn’t inhale the smoke or he’d pass out. He’d have to fix it later.

Drawing his gun from his pants, he darted out of the way of another gunshot, back flattened against a wall as he fired back. Bad idea; the wall itself was burning hot and he pushed away, wincing as the skin of his side screamed in pain. He ignored it as he swivelled around to fire his gun again, the stretch of burnt skin aching in protest.

The man crumpled to the floor, one clean gunshot to his forehead all it took.

Mista went for the stairs, this time managing to get down them just in time to see a small group of men backing up past the entrance to the stairway. He could hear shouting and banging, the telltale sounds of fistfights and insults, and he leapt forward, sweeping his leg out as he shot past them to knock the guys off their feet.

None of them seemed to expect it, and when they pitched backwards, Mista grabbed one of them by the collar and used the momentum to shove his face directly into a burning picture frame. The man shrieked and flailed, stumbling away clutching at his burning face when Mista let go, kicking him back towards the other two who were just starting to get to their feet. He toppled into them, knocking all three to the ground again.

Mista went for his gun but a cracking noise above him caught him off guard and he had to frantically bolt forwards to avoid a crumbling board holding up the second floor that was too burnt to continue on. Its thud to the floor kicked up a cloud of dust and debris that instantly caught ablaze from the fire and Mista barely had time to protect his eyes from the flaming debris.

One of the men had been ready to take advantage of the situation but there was shouting in front of him and suddenly a dark shoe was planted firmly in the man’s face.

Abbacchio had stepped on the guy’s face and drove his head back into the ground, using all his weight to grind it so hard against the floorboards that Mista could see blood trickling from the man’s ears as his feeble jerking eventually ceased.

“Bout fucking time,” the older man growled, glaring furiously at Mista. He threw something at Mista, which he caught right before it fell into the flames. A dish towel. Perfect.

While Abbacchio kicked the shit out of the one guy still alive, the others either mauled by the flames or brains ground into the hardwood, Mista tied the towel around his face and took inventory.

They were in the foyer, the front door wide open in front of them which led to a massive blazing porch, not a single centimeter clear of the flames. Must’ve been where it had started. The stairs were still mostly clear but the groaning of the wood above them made it clear that the house could come crumbling down at any time. He could hear the sounds of fighting in the kitchen and decided it was probably Bucciarati, since Abbacchio was out here with him. The others must either be with him or had escaped outside already.

Mista lazily pointed his gun at the last guy and fired, halting Abbacchio mid-foot-to-the-gut and received an angry glare in return. “I’ll clean my own messes,” he growled but stepped back anyways. Now that he wasn’t beating the shit out of someone, Mista could see that he looked about as prepared for this as he had been: his white hair was pulled back in the low ponytail he normally wore to bed, coat hanging unlaced around his bare chest which was laced with minor burns and streaks of gray that were probably ash and smoke. His face looked no better, smeared with black, and Mista figured he must look the same.

“The others?” Mista asked, glancing nervously up the stairs. Pistols weren’t back yet, and while he could feel that they were okay, he was worried. What if one of them got cornered in the flames? They had better be careful or they’d be in for it later.

“Bruno’s in the kitchen,” Abbacchio growled, turning to plod back down the burning hallway like the fire was nothing more than a convenient lightsource. Mista wished he had that kind of confidence, dodging any small bursts of flames and creeping through the clear floorboards carefully. Come to think of it, Abbacchio couldn’t be that confident either. He wouldn’t have called Bucciarati Bruno otherwise.

“And?”

Abbacchio’s gaze flicked towards him for a second before he just jerked his head towards the entrance to the kitchen just as another body flew through the door and slammed into the wall in front of them.

Bucciarati stepped through a second later, his familiar white jacket streaked with ash and blood, hair messy, his French braid absent for once. Sticky Fingers was out at his side, hovering around its user. Bucciarati’s frustration was evident; Sticky Fingers could do nothing against the fire, only expand the range of physical attack which would also have the downside of increasing the likelihood of Bucciarati getting burned. His blue eyes looked wild as they locked onto Abbacchio and Mista, illuminated in the firelight.

“Where’s Trish?”

Mista froze. “I thought she was with you.”

Bucciarati just shook his head in anger, cursing under his breath as he slammed his fist into one of the walls. It looked like he’d hit a patch of fire but when Bucciarati pulled back like nothing had happened, Mista figured his eyes must have been playing tricks on him.

“Then where-”

“Mista!”

That was Three and Five, appearing next to him just as Bucciarati was about to ask for their answer. One and Two arrived a second later and a chorus of voices began.

“Trish is upstairs! In her room!”

“Six and Seven are there-”

“Trouble, they’re trapped and-”

“Shut up!” One, Two and Three looked irritated but obeyed while Five just whimpered, looking like it was about to start crying any second. “You said she was upstairs?”

Two nodded quickly. “She’s trapped in her room!”

“And the others?”

“Narancia is with her,” Three chimed in, just as Five stammered, “A-And Six and Seven are t-too.”

“Go get them,” Bucciarati ordered, not wasting a single second as voices drifted towards them from the other end of the house. More enemies. “We don’t have time to worry about being careful, do what you must. Get her out alive. We’ll handle things down here.”

“Where are-”

“Go Mista!”

Mista hesitated a second longer, long enough for Abbacchio to shove him backwards towards the stairs. He staggered but regained his footing and, after throwing a wary glance back at them, bolted for the stairs.

“Find Giorno. And Fugo,” he instructed Three and Five. “One, Two, you’re both with me. Show me where the problem is.”

The two Pistols nodded and flew up the staircase, scouting around for any enemies as Mista himself crept up them cautiously. They groaned beneath his feet, the fire weakening the structure of the house, and he blinked back tears as smoke accosted his eyes. The blaze was getting worse; Bucciarati was right, there wasn’t time to hesitate.

He saw where One and Two were waiting, gesturing at a door that he hadn’t noticed before. And no wonder; there was a mountain of caved-in debris that likely came from the ceiling, judging by the hole in the fixture, and he hadn’t visited Trish’s room at all so he hadn’t known to check it.

“Narancia!” he yelled through the pile of debris, “Trish!”

There was silence but then he heard a muffled voice yelling back, “Mista?! Is that you?!”

“Narancia! Thank fuck, are you guys okay?!”

“As good as we can be,” the voice cried, “Better if you get us out of here!”

“Right, working on it! And whatever you do, don’t use Aerosmith!”

“I’m not stupid you dumbass!”

Well, Narancia clearly was fine if he could still mouth off. Mista was glad he hadn’t tried to free them himself; if Aerosmith had attacked the debris, he could only imagine what would have happened if those bombs hit the fire. Worst case scenario, it could blow up the entire room they were in, best case they’d escape with mild third degree burns. Could Giorno even heal burns? Was Giorno even alive?

He didn’t have time to think about that right now, he had to focus. ‘Think dammit, use your fucking brain for once,’ he thought frantically, trying to figure out what to do. What had Fugo told him about fires the last time they were trapped in a burning building?

An information deal had gone wrong; they’d been trapped in a room as the building burned and Mista had tried to go for the door but was stopped by Fugo. What had he said? That opening the door would cause an explosion? But why, why was that, if he could only remember, maybe he could use that to do something-

“Mista, duck!”

He barely had time to dart out of the way from One’s warning just as a cracking noise sounded and part of the doorframe across the hall crumbled and crashed to the floor, the fire leaping at the chance to spread further. This was bad; the air was getting thinner and thinner, he needed to-

Wait. The air. That was it!

He looked around, searching desperately for what he needed. There. At the end of the hallway, just a few meters away, was a large window next to the ladder leading to the attic.

“Narancia?!” he called, hoping the boy could still hear him but now that the fire was spreading and consuming nearly the entire floor, he received no response. “Fuck! One, Two, have Six and Seven tell them to get back! As far from the door as they can, maybe behind a bed or something? If they can get extra protection, have them do it!”

His Pistols nodded and began talking frantically as Mista stepped back, taking one look at the only open doorway left. It was Narancia and Fugo’s room, fire licking up the doorframe and alighting the rugs and curtains and bedsheets but it was the only choice he had. He leapt over the flames in the doorway, stumbling and barely able to avoid the burning rug.

“One! Two! It’s up to you guys!” he yelled, calling them back to his side as he leaned around the doorframe, ignoring the heat scorching his clothes and bare skin. He pointed his gun at the window at the end of the hall, making eye contact with the two Pistols before he fired.

The bullet ricocheted off their kicks, picking up more and more speed until he couldn’t even see it anymore. Mista darted around the doorframe, covering his ears and yelling, “Now!”

There was the sound of shattering glass, so loud it was as if the entire wall had been torn off and not half a second later, a massive fwoosh echoed through the hall followed by an incredibly loud boom.

Boiling heat shot past the doorway, an explosion of flame and fire enveloping the entire hall as the influx of free oxygen exploded throughout the hall. Mista gritted his teeth as a horrible scorching pain shot up his left arm, eyes flying open with desperation to bite back a scream. One of the Pistols hadn’t been quick enough to get out of the way. Two. He could feel it, it was gone, dissipated back into him as the injury burnt up his forearm. It was all he could do to not tear off his sweater; exposing it to more heat couldn’t possibly be good, even if the fabric made it seven billion times worse.

He peered out into the hall and amid the smoke and flames, he could see that the worst of the debris had been knocked away. Or incinerated. One of the two. Either way, he could see into the bedroom now, and could knock away whatever was left.

Narancia was already there it seemed, kicking at the burning wood and plaster, his skirt around his mouth and nose. He looked battered, burns on his arms and torso, hands bright red and scorched, but for the most part seemed okay.

Mista joined him and together they were able to make enough of an entrance for both he and Trish to squeeze through, his three Pistols still with him worrying about above them. Trish looked worse than both of them, though Mista wasn’t sure it was really physically. From what he could see around the bandana Narancia had given her to shield her mouth and nose, she had a few minor wounds but it was the frightened look in her eyes and the way Spice Girl flickered in and out of existence at her side, as if she was unable to decide whether it could help or not.

“She watched me kill them,” Narancia muttered as he and Mista helped the girl through the door, and Mista just now noticed the bodies littering the floor in the room, about four or five of them in total.

He wasn’t surprised; she wasn’t part of the mafia, she hadn’t truly seen anyone die. Not yet anyways. Mista locked arms with her left one, Narancia on her other side, and together they basically carried the girl down the hallway, just above the flames so her bare legs wouldn’t get burned too badly. The staircase was, thankfully, still open but just barely. The fire had nearly consumed the entire house by now; they had to get out. It was too dangerous to stay here any longer.

Trish managed to wriggle out of their grip just as they reached the staircase and she walked down them herself. Mista had to give her credit; she hardly flinched as she stepped directly into the fire that had covered one of the floorboards of the stairs already. She was quick enough that it didn’t spread to her boots, her skirt hiked up so high on her waist that if they weren’t in a fucking burning building and he wasn’t a damn gentleman, Mista might try to sneak a peek at what’s under it.

Narancia went next and Mista brought up the rear. They barely had time to think as Bucciarati swarmed them, Abbacchio still fending off the last of the men. Mista thought they all needed to be thankful for his cop training; his hand to hand combat was by far the best in the group. The capo grabbed Trish and hurried her down the hallway, shielding her from the worst of the flames and smoke as he practically carried her out towards the back door.

Once she was thrust towards the door, he turned back to deal with the others. First Narancia, pushed out the broken screen door into the backyard right after Trish as Bucciarati instructed them to run as far as they could towards the cliffs.

Mista had stopped to help Abbacchio finish off the guys, shooting two of them in the head, kicking another in the chest through the entrance into the sitting room where the furniture was ablaze. Bucciarati wrenched him backwards just as part of the ceiling fan crashed to the floor and shoved him towards the door.

He obeyed, stepping out into the outside and running. He didn’t stop until he reached Trish and Narancia and turned to see Bucciarati and Abbacchio rushing after them.

“Where are Fugo and Giorno?” Mista hadn’t seen either of them in the house and hoped beyond hope that they’d already made it out. Bucciarati and Abbacchio exchanged a look that just about extinguished it.

“There were only six signatures in the house,” Narancia offered. “When I last checked anyways, right before all those guys ambushed us. Fugo was on watch, so it’s probably him I didn’t see.”

“That means he likely made it out,” Bucciarati said just as Abbacchio hissed, “So he betrayed us after all.”

Bucciarati swivelled, fixing Abbacchio with a steely glare and opened his mouth but Mista didn’t give him the chance.

“Giorno. Where’s Giorno?”

Silence. Mista watched as everyone looked away from him and his heart sank.

“…He was probably the other one in the house,” Narancia whispered quietly.

“No. No I don’t buy it,” Mista muttered hoarsely. “He’s smart, he wouldn’t get killed, he’d never-”

“Mista! They found him!”

One’s voice cut through his rapidly raising voice as Mista turned towards him so fast his head almost got whiplash, eyes full of hope.

“The attic,” Six continued. “He’s in the attic.”

“He’s… still inside?” When One and Six nodded, Mista turned towards the house and stepped forwards.

He would’ve broken into a run if it hadn’t been for Bucciarati grabbing his arm right before he could. Mista shrieked, wrenching his burnt arm away and saw the fear in Bucciarati’s eyes as the man pulled back with his hands in the air.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you,” he said evenly, his words careful and slow and Mista knew what he was going to say before he even said it. “Just to stop you. Stay here.”

“Giorno’s still in there,” Mista protested, anger filling his veins as he narrowed his dark eyes. “We can’t just leave him!”

“He knew the risks,” Bucciarati argued. “Giorno understood what he was getting into better than anyone; he knew there might be… casualties. We can’t take the chance of losing both of you.”

“I’m not abandoning him-”

“Mista, you will not go back in that house!” Bucciarati’s temper had apparently snapped, his tone commanding and forceful as he yelled at Mista directly, “That’s a direct order!”

Mista felt blood ooze through his fingers as his fingernails cut into his palms from his clenched fists, tightened his jaw, ground his teeth together, squeezed his eyes shut, mentally prepared himself to get hell for this, turned and ran.

He could hear Bucciarati yelling, a chorus of voices springing up a second later as the others began to argue but he didn’t care. Mista just ran.

It didn’t matter what Bucciarati said; he would never leave Giorno. They’d have to pry him away over his own dead body.

Chapter Text

Giorno had just wanted to get a drink of water.

Why was that so much to ask?

He’d woken up a little after one in the morning and was unable to fall back asleep. Mista was snoring softly next to him, stretched out awkwardly across his side of the bed with one arm dangling off the edge. Giorno found it oddly charming as he carefully climbed out of bed. He figured he’d just go get a drink and offer to switch shifts with Fugo a bit early; no point in both of them being awake, after all.

He had been coming out of the restroom, fastening the button on his pants when he heard it. Footsteps out in the hallway.

It wouldn’t have been so out of the ordinary if it hadn’t been for the amount of them. He counted at least three, if not four, separate pairs. Still, maybe it was nothing. Maybe the others were having some sort of secret meeting. At one in the morning. Without him and Mista.

Huh.

Giorno crept carefully to the door, opening it a crack to peer out it. The hall was empty. Had he been imagining things? Maybe he was more tired than he thought.

But when he left his room, something caught his eye and he froze in the hall: the ladder to the attic was down.

Again, maybe it was nothing. Maybe Bucciarati was just getting something from up there, or maybe he and Abbacchio were… doing something. That alone made him not want to check but he quickly quelled that thought. It was his duty to make sure everything was fine, and then he could go back to what he was going to do.

The rest of the safehouse was quiet but as he neared the ladder, he could hear shuffling above him and what sounded like liquid being poured out. Strange.

Gold Experience appeared at his side as he grabbed the first rung and started to climb up the ladder as quietly as he could, careful to not make any noise or let the wooden rungs creak beneath his weight. If something really was wrong, then he wanted the element of surprise to be on his side.

He peered over the edge of the floor to the attic, poking up his head just enough to see. Nothing was there, nothing except a lantern set atop some boxes, the flame inside it licking the glass confines of the bottle.

Giorno climbed up the rest of the way, looking around the dark, cramped space. The lantern illuminated piles of furniture and stacks of boxes that lined the sides of the roof, forgotten memorabilia that looked too old to be Bucciarati’s strewn around. It looked like a normal attic that was used for storage.

Deciding that maybe he’d just imagined the footsteps, he headed towards the lantern, Gold Experience finally disappearing as he calmed himself. Someone must’ve come up to get something and forgot to shut the attic up. It was a good thing he’d noticed; the lantern could’ve been a fire hazard otherwise.

It was when he stepped in something wet that he frowned, jerking back as his bare foot almost slipped in a puddle of liquid on the floor. He leaned down, dragging his fingers through it and bringing it up to his nose.

He knew this smell.

Kerosene.

Something hard crashing down on the back of his head and sending him stumbling forwards to the ground. His vision was swimming but he managed to twist around in midair as he thudded onto the wooden floorboards, landing on his back as Gold Experience appeared at his side.

He watched in confusion as the man who bashed his head in with what looked like a wooden plank seemed to not even notice the Stand right in front of him, even as it turned the nearest knickknack atop one of the cardboard boxes into a hissing snake that slithered towards the man and sunk its fangs into his ankle, the venom doing its work near instantly.

As the man collapsed to the floor like the strings holding him up had been cut, foaming around the mouth, there was a noise to his left and Giorno lifted his head just in time to see a second man clad in a strange black suit reach for the lantern on the boxes.

Then things seemed to explode around him.

Well, it was more of a whooshing sound that was followed by a massive rush of hot air as the kerosene spread all around him caught fire. As the glass shattered on the floor, the attic was suddenly lit up as bright as if it was in the daytime and there was fire everywhere. Giorno barely had time to roll to the side out of one of the puddles as it imploded beside him.

He heard a gun cocking and swung his head around to see another man - really, how many were there? - pointing a pistol at him and he dodged again as the man fired all six bullets at once. He avoided the first four easily enough but the last two in the clip caught him, head still aching from where he was attacked and slowing his movements. He felt a dull pain shoot through his left thigh and saw dark red blood bubble up from where the bullet dug into his skin, shining in the firelight. The other nicked his shoulder deep enough to throb and burn.

Gold Experience moved towards him but a quick shake of the head and it backed off, turning its attention to the man before them. He could heal after the threat was dealt with; he wasn’t confident enough to do both when he might be concussed. None of the four men in the attic seemed to notice the Stand at all, clearly thinking they had Giorno cornered.

As Giorno turned the gun into a poisonous spider that crept up the man’s wrist and dug its fangs deep into the soft flesh of his forearm, he felt the fear of the men like a dagger to the heart. As the spider morphed back into a gun, the man fell to the ground and began convulsing, seizing into a patch of fire where his screams quickly died out.

The remaining two looked confused and terrified as they stared at Giorno in shock, shouting words that he couldn’t make out through his pain-addled brain. They were backing away as well as they could, likely trying to get out of his range while also avoiding the flames. But why didn’t they try to-

Oh. They weren’t Stand users, Giorno realized suddenly. They were just normal men.

But it shouldn’t matter, it didn’t matter, it couldn’t matter. He had to get up, had to move, had to warn the others that they were being attacked but his leg hurt and his head was pounding and his vision was darkening at the edges. Reaching back to feel around his golden hair, his fingers came back dark and wet and he realized that maybe his head injury was more serious than he’d first thought.

He couldn’t deal with it right now though and he grabbed one of the boxes to heave himself upwards. Smoke was beginning to fill the attic and the fire was eating its way through patches of the roof already, the oil and kerosene having been spread far wider than he’d realized. That was okay; if parts of the roof fell, then there’d be a way for the worst of the smoke to escape and then he’d be able to breathe again. As of now, his lungs were aching from the effort to keep pumping the carbon monoxide out.

Giorno looked at Gold Experience, who looked at him before pointedly staring at the boxes near the men. They had backed out of its range. The boxes, however, had not.

He nodded and his Stand twisted the old cardboard into creeping weeds that shot for the men’s feet, one of them shrieking as it grabbed his ankles and jerked him forwards, purple flowers blooming around his legs while the other jumped backwards, hands fumbling for the gun on his waist.

Giorno picked that plant for a reason; the burning bush immolated near instantly once one of them reached the fire, the natural oils from the seeds igniting as easily as a match, and the man who was unfortunate enough to be caught by them began to scream as the fire spread up his legs. Giorno winced at the agonizing cries but he couldn’t afford to be merciful when lives were at stake.

There was only one man left now who was staring at Giorno like he was the most terrifying thing to ever walk the earth and his stammered cry of, “M-Monster!” was followed by the bang of the gun.

Giorno moved behind the boxes in the nick of time as the bullets embedded themselves in the drywall and wooden beams he’d been next to a second ago. It was getting harder and harder to breathe from the smoke and his feet burned against the blistering wood; he couldn’t keep this up much longer, he needed to end things quickly and escape down the ladder.

It was just a few meters away, he noted, but there was a roaring fire between them making the distance seem like kilometers. There was a loud crashing noise and Giorno looked up to see that near the last man, the roofing was beginning to crumble, raining plaster down on the ground at the man’s feet.

Okay. He could do this. It was just one guy, those were good odds, even if he was pretty sure that bullet hit an artery in his leg, but he could fix that too, he just had to stay conscious long enough to win and then heal himself. Gold Experience could do this. He could do this.

Giorno heard the clicking noise of the gun as it was reloaded and he knew it was now or never. As the man prepared to shoot, Giorno jerked his hands into the open box, feeling the smooth leather of book covers beneath his touch, and a kaleidoscope of golden butterflies emerged from the cardboard. They flew past his fingertips, gleaming and sparkling in the light of the fire as they swarmed the startled man.

The man stumbled backwards into Giorno’s trap and he watched as Gold Experience attacked the roof with a flurry of punches that instantly crumbled the wooden beams and stone roof tiles. They rained down, mixing with the sounds of the man’s screams as he was buried alive by burning debris.

The hole in the roof worked just as he’d hoped, smoke billowing out through it. Giorno watched as the butterflies flew off into the night sky, the smoke blurring them into nothing more than golden glimmers against the moonlight.

Then he heard the gun go off, the bullets ricocheting into the air, and a massive crash that had him reaching to cover his ears.

Things seemed to slow down and Giorno had just enough time to look up. Shattered pieces of wood that had splintered off from the stray bullets carving bloody patterns into his skin as the support beam holding the roof up above his own head came crashing down upon him.

Then nothing.


Mista could feel the blistering heat against his skin the second he stepped back into the house, forcing his way through the screen and taking a second to blow the door out entirely. He probably wouldn’t have time to do it later and if the screen caught fire, that was the only exit they had, gone.

He’d called most of the Pistols back, leaving One out to guide him to Giorno and not daring to let Three and Five take their eyes off the boy. The others had wanted to fight his decision, but after what happened to Two, he’d insisted Six and Seven return. He couldn’t take any more injuries himself and he didn’t want to feel the strange absence of his Stand grow any larger.

The house itself stunk of smoke and charred flesh and the acrid stench of burning meat made him swallow back gags. How many men had invaded he didn’t know, only that it seemed they’d managed to kill them all. Or maybe it was the fire that did that.

Really, it was a small miracle that all of them were even still alive.

He hoped.

Mista swatted at the small scraps of debris and burning wood flakes that were everywhere in the hallway, trying to pat out the small fires that were aching to catch to his clothing. He shoulda tried to drench himself with water in the shower when he’d had the chance.

His feet carried him faster than he could’ve imagined to the staircase, barely registering the fire licking at his heels as he sprinted up them as fast as he could. If he moved fast enough, he could minimize contact with the flames since avoiding them was out of the question now. It had spread nearly everywhere at this point.

The smoke was billowing out the broken window and through the open attic trapdoor, so heavy that it almost looked gray. It was thick but he could make out through it the shape of the ladder that One had told him led to the attic where Giorno was.

Then he finally neared it and froze.

It made sense, in hindsight, of course that explosion he’d made would’ve hit the ladder too. But it didn’t stop his heart from sinking anyways. The frame was still there but the bottom half had been blown clean off, all of the rungs except the very top ones either shattered or blown to bits, the rest of the wooden frame burning lazily. There was no way he could climb up this.

“Shit,” he cursed under his breath, anger boiling in his veins as he yelled louder, “SHIT!”

There had to be something he could use, something he could stand on or grab onto or anything to lift himself up to the attic. It wasn’t getting down that would matter, it was being able to get there at all. He looked around frantically for something, maybe a dresser or a table or chair out in the hall but he saw nothing.

Mista could try to go into one of the rooms, to salvage something to use, but he didn’t think he had that kind of time. The place could collapse any minute; time was of the essence. There was only one choice.

Normally, he didn’t need much to climb something, just a handhold that he could use to pull himself upwards. He was proud of his upper body strength, he knew he could use those top two rungs on the ladder to climb up. It was just that they were on fire.

Well, one arm was already half-useless, so what did his hands really matter too? He’d just push through the pain, hey, couldn’t be worse than getting shot with your own damn bullets, right? That’s what he told himself as he psyched himself up before grabbing the rung closest to him.

It was like he could feel the top layers of his skin peeling off beneath the fiery heat searing into them. The flames were snuffed out where he grabbed, which was something, but the wood was still blistering hot and his palms were screaming even as he gripped them tighter and lifted himself up.

It was letting go with one hand to grab the next rung that was really bad and he choked down his own screams as he heard a sickening tearing sound that he knew was patches of his own skin melted onto the wooden boards.

One was saying encouraging things in his ear and Mista would’ve found it endearing if it didn’t feel like his hands were burning off and he knew the Pistol was right, that moving fast would make it easier, so he swallowed thickly and pulled up, heaving one arm onto the attic floor to get better leverage and heave himself up the rest of the way.

He didn’t really have the time to take a break but he couldn’t help collapsing onto his back on the attic floor, breathing hard and blinking back tears as he lifted his hands up to examine them. They were bright red, not surprising really, with blisters forming on his palms from where they’d snuffed out the fire. His fingers didn’t look too bad, which he figured he should be thankful for.

It reminded him of a story Narancia had told him once, of when he was a kid and his mom was still alive. She had made a fire in their hearth and had covered it with a metal screen and the little idiot was curious and had grabbed the screen and burnt and blistered enough of his skin that he’d had to go to the hospital to get it treated. Narancia had talked about it being some of the worst pain he’d felt ever in his life. So this is what he meant.

Mista didn’t have time to lay there any longer, especially when the attic seemed to be the worst of the whole house right now. There was fire everywhere, holes in the roof with smoke billowing out of them, piles of flaming debris and junk in storage and what looked like a few corpses.

Before he even had the chance to think that maybe one of them was Giorno, he was immediately accosted by two loud voices.

Three was swarming him, yelling almost incoherently about Giorno and boxes and the roof and Mista could hear Five a little ways off, probably still next to the blond. Mista got to his feet, flexing his hands to force them to keep moving and dodged around patches of fire and burning wood to see that his assumption was right.

It was worse than he’d thought.

Or maybe it wasn’t, because Giorno was at least still alive. The blond was pinned under a mass of wood and stone and plaster, only his head and left arm sticking out from under it. He didn’t look good either, smoke streaked across his sweat-covered face and what appeared to be dust and matted blood in his golden hair. His green eyes were open but Mista didn’t like the unsteady look in them and how they kept an unfocused gaze on the room around him.

When he noticed Mista, a hint of smile graced his features.

“You came back,” he whispered, voice hoarse and raw and Mista couldn’t help but wince.

“Shit, GioGio, I-” what the fuck did he do, could he even move all that? He had to try but-

“It’s okay. Just get me out,” Giorno interrupted. “Gold Experience can’t… it can’t do it.”

“What? Why not?”

“Too dangerous,” he explained with a wave of his free hand that was way too casual for someone who was lucky to be alive. “I can’t change the floorboards without falling through it. It can’t move the stuff on top of me without putting it in danger too.”

Mista nodded but he didn’t really get it. The floorboards, yeah, that made sense, but he didn’t know what Giorno meant by the other stuff. He ultimately decided that he could ask later and that right now, he needed to dig the boy out.

It was easier to move than he’d thought, the pieces from the collapsed roof were surprisingly small and light, and most of it wasn’t burning yet so he could grip it easily enough. Ignoring the pain in his arm and hands was harder, but the worst part was the way Giorno kept making those noises when Mista would shift the pile. It made him increasingly worried about what he’d find beneath it.

Five was the only Pistol out still, refusing to leave Giorno’s side despite all of Mista’s insistence, and in the end he couldn’t bear to force the little guy back. It seemed to be helping Giorno as well, nestled against the blond’s cheek as it blubbered on and on, alternating between saying everything would be fine and that they were all gonna die.

It was when he’d reached a particularly large support beam that Mista finally turned to Giorno and said that he was going to move most of what was left that the blond seemed to truly stiffen in fear before giving a sharp nod in agreement.

Mista threw all his weight on the beam and pushed.

There was a loud creaking noise followed by a cascade of smaller debris and a cloud of dust that was kicked up as the wooden beam lifted up, hoisting most of the remaining stone and wood into the air and sending it toppling to the sides. He pushed it to the side as hard as he could, finally able to see the rest of Giorno and-

Oh God.

“Yer gonna be fine,” he managed to choke out, letting go of the beam as it clattered to the floor. When Giorno tried to lift his head to look, Mista yelled, “No!”

Giorno gave him a look but obeyed, resting his head back against the floor with a sigh, and Mista felt kind of dumb. The guy was gonna have to look at some point; hell, he was gonna have to fix it, but still. It was- it was bad.

It seemed like when the roof had collapsed, parts of the wood had embedded themselves into Giorno’s flesh, a particularly dangerous looking piece of wood dug into the blond’s side and stained with blood. There was another poking out of his upper thigh that was a bit smaller but still looked horribly sharp. That was nothing compared to Giorno’s right arm though. He must’ve landed on it, Mista realized, if the stark whiteness of bone poking out of the skin and the tattered pink suit was any indication.

“Okay, c-come on.” He leant down to grab Giorno’s good arm. “Can you walk? Or stand?”

Giorno gave him another look and was clearly resisting rolling his eyes. Mista thought it was a perfectly valid question but whatever. Between the two of them, they were able to pull Giorno to his feet but he was anything but steady.

Mista looped Giorno’s arm around his shoulders and said, “Just make it to the attic door, okay? I can take it from there but- but we gotta get ya down somehow.”

Giorno nodded and they began to stagger towards the opening, nearly all of the blond’s weight supported by Mista. Gold Experience kept flickering in and out of existence at Giorno’s side and Mista had to wonder whether that was because it was simply worried about its user or if Giorno truly couldn’t keep it out for very long. He hoped it was the former.

They reached the attic door without much incidence, thankfully, and Mista had to be grateful for the fact that most of the roof had already fallen in. Some of the fires seemed to be dying down because of it and at least most of the smoke was gone.

He set Giorno down on the floor as carefully as he could, trying to ignore the blond’s obvious flinch as his legs nearly crumbled beneath him.

“I’ll go first,” Mista instructed, “and then you’ll follow, okay? Just jump down and I’ll catch you. I’ll try to be as gentle as possible.”

“Tell me that in bed,” Giorno wheezed.

“Not the time,” Mista scolded but it sent relief coursing through him. If he could joke, he’d probably be okay.

Getting down was far easier; all Mista had to do was just jump down carefully, avoiding the flames on one side as he landed on the floor. The creak beneath his feet was not a good sign however, and he quickly gestured for Giorno to follow him the second he’d gotten a good standing on the floor.

He braced himself as Giorno nodded and pushed himself through the hole in the ceiling. It was only a meter or so down but it was enough that the impact of his body landing in Mista’s arms sent a cry of pain wrenching from his throat.

“Sorry, sorry,” Mista hissed as he shifted the boy in his arms into a slightly more comfortable position before he took off in a sprint.

Giorno made a few noises of protest, clearly not wanting to be carried like that, but no way was Mista gonna let him try to walk himself. Not when they needed to hurry. Besides, the princess carry suited Giorno best out of all of them anyways.

He ignored the fire this time, deciding that if his feet and legs could take as much as they had so far, they could take a little more. The soles of his leather boots were thick and it was only now that the blistering heat was started to seep through them into the soles of his feet. The hallway was practically consumed, nearly every inch lit so brightly that it seemed like daytime.

As he reached the stairs, his heart sank.

They were caved in, the ceiling above them fractured and flaming, debris and fire covering the only exit down to the first floor. There was no way they could go this way.

He spun around and bolted back down the hall, reaching the window that had been blown out. It was just big enough for him to get through if he ducked down and stepped carefully. Okay, they could go this way, it would be fine. It was just a few meters in the air, nothing too bad, maybe just break his damn ankles.

‘Fucking burning fucking house,’ he thought wryly as he swallowed thickly and lifted one leg to carefully maneuver it through the opening.

And then he heard a creaking noise followed by a boom. There was a loud fwoosh, he heard Giorno yell, “Mista go!” and then a deafening bang shook the house to its very foundation.

He felt the heat before it reached him and Mista had a split second to pull Giorno against his chest as tight as he could, trying to cover the blond with his own body as the house exploded and the shockwave sent them both flying.

The night sky was surprisingly calm, Mista thought as he flew through the air, time seeming to slow around him as a fiery explosion in the edges of his vision illuminated the land around them.

And then they were falling and the ground was rushing up faster and faster to meet them and he pulled Giorno in tighter and then-

And then darkness.

Chapter Text

Fugo knew he couldn’t stay here even as he felt the edges of a panic attack creeping into his senses, breath coming up short and fear circuiting through him at a rampant pace. His legs felt glued to the ground and even as he managed to get back to his feet, it was like he was pushing up through syrup.

Everything was going wrong and he couldn’t fucking stay here.

He slapped his face hard, the stinging pain helping him ground himself as he took a steadying breath before fixing his eyes on the burning house. Surely no one was still inside - but what if they were? Should he check the house first? Or should he look around the perimeter? Or should he flee, because if everyone was dead and he was all that was left, then-

No, that wasn’t the answer, he knew that. Fugo forced himself to start walking forwards, edging slowly towards the house as he listened for any signs of noise.

It was when he was about twenty meters away or so that he heard something and stopped. It was faint but when he paused to listen, he could hear voices coming from behind the house and he broke into a sprint.

They grew closer as he ran, skirting around the building as close as he dared because who knew when it could collapse, or worse, explode. The voices were louder and it became clear they were yelling about something.

Four figures came into sight framed against the backdrop of the treeline near the cliffs edge and he recognized them. Relief shot through him as he neared them, one of the people in the group looking up to see him moving towards them.

“Stop!” he yelled when he saw Sticky Fingers emerge from Bucciarati, holding his arms up harmlessly, “It’s me! It’s Fugo!”

There was a sharp cry and he saw someone, likely Narancia, bolt towards him but immediately be held back by Abbacchio. Fugo frowned as he crept closer towards them, dread settling in the pit of his stomach. He could predict what the man was thinking.

He could not predict Abbacchio storming up to him, wrapping one fist in his clothing to yank him forwards and the other slamming into his left cheek. It would’ve knocked him off his feet if the man hadn’t been holding him up. His eyes swam as he felt the familiar taste of iron well up inside his mouth from where his cheek had been bitten into.

“This is your fault!” Abbacchio roared furiously, shaking him violently in his grip. “How dare you come back here?! I should kill you right fucking now!”

“I-it wasn’t m-me…” he stammered, wrapping his hands around Abbacchio’s arm in an effort to free himself from the iron grasp. The fabric of his clothes and tie were pressing on his throat and it was getting harder to breathe.

“Bull fucking shit!”

“Leone! Let him go!” A hand clamped down on Abbacchio’s shoulder, Bucciarati standing behind him looking both incensed and concerned.

“You know it was him, Bruno, he fucking betrayed us before, of course he’d do it-”

“No! Fugo wouldn’t do that!” Narancia leapt on top of the man, pulling at his arms furiously as he tried to pry Abbacchio’s hands off of Fugo. He hadn’t been expecting it and Fugo felt his grip loosen enough that he could wrench himself away from the older man and try to catch his breath. He would’ve fallen if Narancia hadn’t instantly rushed to his side, muttering frantically about the blood on his clothes and the gunshot wounds on his body.

“Don’t fucking defend him!” Abbacchio yelled, taking a step forward. Narancia noticed and immediately inserted himself in between the man and Fugo. “Move aside!”

“You’ll have to get through me first,” the boy bared his teeth angrily. Fugo didn’t think he’d ever seen Narancia look so angry before.

“It’s fine,” Fugo said quickly, grabbing Narancia’s arm and squeezing it. “He’s right to blame-”

“No he isn't! Don’t say that!”

“See, he fucking admitted-”

“ALL OF YOU STOP!” Bucciarati’s voice boomed over the protests and three heads quickly jerked to stare at him in shock. Their capo rarely raised his voice but it was times like these that they were reminded of the type of presence he commanded.

“This is appalling,” he said, softer this time but his blue gaze was icy cold. “You are all supposed to be more level headed than this; how can we possibly discern the truth if there is fighting among us-”

“There’s no one else-”

“Abbacchio. Silence. I will not repeat myself.” The older man scowled angrily but was sufficiently cowed for now. Bucciarati waited a moment to be sure he wasn’t going to protest anymore before he continued. “While I admit your logic makes sense, your actions do not. We are all supposed to be squadmates, comrades. Friends. And regardless of the reasons, we are all here to protect something; I thought we determined that last night.”

“…we did,” Abbacchio admitted finally. “But like you said Bucciarati, it makes sense! He sided with the Boss, he tried to kill Mista, why wouldn’t he do this?! If you can betray someone once, you can do it twice. And it only gets easier.”

Bucciarati’s expression softened at the man’s words and Fugo got the feeling that he was referring to something in his past that the capo knew of. Even so, he couldn’t just let this slide.

“I have done nothing but remain true to myself this whole time,” Fugo ground out, clenching his fists to keep from exploding in anger. He felt Narancia practically vibrating with nervous but supportive energy beside him and it gave him strength. “I told you that. I never once betrayed myself and I never plan to.”

“No one does,” Abbacchio hissed and Fugo threw up his arms in frustration.

“Then use Moody Blues! It can replay all my actions, you can see for yourself! All I did was fight against my enemies! I did nothing to betray any of you!”

Abbacchio’s eyes narrowed and he opened his mouth to speak but Bucciarati cut him off. “What do you mean by that, Fugo? What happened?”

The blond hesitated; it was true that he’d deserted his post and acted on his own, it was his actions that led to this whether indirectly or not. He swallowed before saying quietly, “There was a kid. He needed help. The men, the same ones who attacked the safehouse, they went after them as a diversion for the person on watch. Hurt them. They were children, Bucciarati. I couldn’t do nothing.”

“Was it-” Narancia murmured quietly and Fugo nodded his head in affirmation.

Bucciarati stared at him with an unreadable expression, arms crossed over his chest. Finally, he sighed and said, “I should tell you that you never abandon your post, not for any reason. And you know this, Fugo. You should have alerted one of us and formed some sort of plan, or at least told someone before you left. You shouldn’t have just ran off like that.” Fugo hung his head. Bucciarati was right; of course he was, but it didn’t mean it wasn’t guilt-inducing.

“But I suppose if I’m going to tell you all that, then I should also tell you that I would have done the same thing in your position.”

Fugo froze before lifting his gaze rapidly to look at Bucciarati, whose expression had softened into one of exasperated fondness and he couldn’t help the grin stretching across his face as he murmured, “I thought that, Bucciarati. I wondered what you would do and I acted.”

“You shouldn’t place so much faith in me,” Bucciarati replied as he stepped forward to rest a hand on Fugo’s shoulder and offered a small smile in return. “But I’m glad to see you’re alright- well, for the most part, I suppose.”

“It’s not that bad,” Fugo objected quickly, waving his arms in dismissal but winced when it jostled his shoulder. Now that things were calming down, his wounds were starting to hurt more and more; he looked forward to having them healed. “Where’s Giorno?”

At his question, the others seemed to freeze. Bucciarati’s arm dropped away from him, Narancia seemed to wilt in on himself at Fugo’s side, and Abbacchio just scoffed and shook his head before turning away.

“There.” Trish had been silent until now, watching the four of them work things out themselves, but now she stepped forward and pointed at the safehouse. “And so is Mista.”

Fugo felt the blood drain from his face as he stared in growing horror at the house.

“Please tell me that’s a joke,” he asked desperately, but the faces he received were answer enough. He shook his head frantically; “No, they can’t be; look, the windows, those spiderweb cracks are dangerous, a-and the smoke by the windows, this is bad, there’s going to be a-”

Just as he uttered those words, there was a high-pitched whistling followed by a cracking noise as the remaining windows of the house splintered open and an explosion rocked the foundation to its core.

There was yelling next to him and then Trish was rushing off to the left but Fugo remained transfixed on the safehouse, or what was left of it, as the mushroom cloud of flames and smoke billowed into the night sky. He felt Narancia clutch his arm tightly and tried to ground himself. All he could think about were Bucciarati and Abbacchio, how this had been the house they’d bought together. And how it gave him a strange feeling of dread.


Everything was loud and dark and the only tangible thing Mista had right now was the warm body pressed tightly to his own as they shot through the air.

He tried to brace himself as best he could for the inevitable impact with the ground but the shattering of bones and excruciating pain scared him. He just knew he needed to save Giorno from that.

However, when he landed in something far too soft and squishy to be the ground, he couldn’t help his immediate confusion.

He cracked open one eye carefully, wondering if maybe he’d died and this was the afterlife, and was met with two heads peering over him framed by the moonlight instead, one with glowing green eyes and he shrieked.

“Fuck!”

Wait, he knew that voice.

“Trish?”

“Yes, so don’t-” Trish was still talking but Mista’s ears were ringing and his heart was racing a thousand kilometers a minute so he had no clue what else she was saying. Seeming to notice this, the girl did what looked like a sigh as she straightened up and crossed her arms over her chest in a huff. Spice Girl was by her side, looking like it was done with just about everything right now.

Mista unwrapped one arm from where he was holding Giorno against his chest to feel what was beneath him. It was definitely the ground, soft grass and dirt brushing through his fingers, but the solid earth was more like putty and he realized that Spice Girl must’ve softened the ground they landed on.

“Thanks,” he said absentmindedly, propping himself up on his good arm to examine Giorno.

The others were there too now, voices mixing together and blurring any coherent words but all of Mista’s focus was on the blond. Giorno was alive, he could tell that much from the soft rise and fall of his chest, but his green eyes were vacant and his breath was uneven and accompanied by a faint wheeze every time he breathed in.

But he was alive and Mista could relax a bit.

He slumped back on the ground as he exhaled slowly. The adrenaline seemed to be fading now and as it did, it took the dulled pain with it. Things were starting to genuinely hurt now but it didn’t matter, they were all okay.

“-sta.”

Things were starting to form clearly again and he blinked open his eyes to see Bucciarati standing over them.

“Mista,” he said gently, his blue eyes round and worried and just the slightest bit scared. “Are you alright?”

The gunsman smirked weakly and gave a half-hearted salute with his good arm. “Aye aye, cap.”

Bucciarati seemed to relax at his words and reached out to help hoist Giorno off of Mista’s body. He was a little hesitant to let go of the blond so soon but it wasn’t doing much good for them to stay stuck together and it did make it easier to breathe once he was off.

“What happened?” Bucciarati asked as he carefully set Giorno back on the ground, examining the wounds littering the boy’s body.

“Attic,” Mista grunted as he hefted himself upright and fuck that hurt but he wanted to see what was going on. “He got trapped under shit. It- it didn’t look good, Bucciarati.”

Mista observed that it still didn’t. He hadn’t pulled out any of the wood fragments that had lodged themselves in Giorno but they’d definitely gotten jostled around and looked worse and he wondered if maybe he should’ve after all. The boy’s hair was dark and wet on the back and Mista knew it must be blood. That would explain Gold Experience’s instability. And his arm, the bone was still- Ugh. If he wasn’t so exhausted, he woulda hurled.

A very clearly worried Narancia was hovering over Bucciarati’s shoulder, wanting to help but not quite knowing how. Abbacchio was further away, leaning against a tree at the edge of the forest very pointedly Not Looking at them. Figures. Trish was next to Mista, checking him over as well although he knew he wasn’t the real problem here. Burns could be treated. Giorno’s arm couldn’t, not if it got gangrene. They needed the healer back.

“Giorno,” he murmured, scooting over to the blond and waving Bucciarati off despite the capo’s protests. The blond’s green eyes flickered over to meet Mista’s, a range of emotions flashing through them as Mista smiled softly. “Hey. It’s okay, we’re outta there. Things’re gonna be fine, just like I said.”

“M-Mi… sta, you-”

“Hey, no, shush, stop talking. Just listen, okay?” Giorno’s mouth closed and Mista took that as a sign to continue. He could hear Bucciarati in the background arguing with Narancia and Trish but paid them no mind. “I know you’re hurt. That it’s a lotta pain. But ya gotta focus, yeah? Gold Experience- we need it. We need you. I need you.”

Giorno’s eyes seemed to clear a bit at his words and Mista hoped that this would work. This was really their only option but if Gold Experience could fix his arm, they’d be able to make this work. “Your arm,” he asked cautiously, “can you- d’ya think you can do something about it?”

After a tense moment, Giorno nodded, “I-I’ll try.”

Mista grinned widely and, against his better judgement, slid his hand into Giorno’s and squeezed it tightly. The skin-to-skin contact burned but it appeared to help Giorno steel himself as he squeezed back.

Gold Experience appeared at their sides and Mista was relieved to see that it was pretty much all there and not transparent like it had been before. The Stand looked worried itself, if Stands could feel worry, as it hovered over Giorno’s right arm with its palms outstretched.

Chunks of dirt and small stones began to morph before Mista’s eyes, sinking into the hole in Giorno’s arm where the bone was poking out as the bone itself was shoved back into the wound. Giorno’s screams were some of the worst Mista had heard as the red muscle and oozing veins knit themselves back together with the strange noises Gold Experience made when it gave life to nothing.

Giorno’s hand was squeezing Mista’s so tightly that he felt like it would break off and wondered vaguely if the blistered raw skin was going to pop from the pressure. His eyes remained fixated on Giorno though, the encouraging smile never once leaving his face as the blond writhed and shrieked in pain.

The bone was fixed first and it was strange to see a bone heal right before his very eyes, the white material merging into a slim radius before the muscle began to cover it followed by skin creeping in on the edges.

The whole process only took maybe five minutes but it felt like years when the wound was nothing more than an uneven area of patchy skin that didn’t look quite right, probably the best it would get with Giorno how he was.

Giorno looked even paler than before, a thin sheen of sweat plastering his messy gold ringlets to his forehead as Mista pushed them away from his green eyes. He did seem to be a bit more coherent though, which was good.

“I think I get it now,” he murmured quietly and it took Mista a second before he realized he was referring to when he’d healed Mista’s bullet wounds. He cracked a wry grin.

“Hurts, don’t it?”

Giorno gave a soft snort as he tried to push himself up into a seated position but when his face contorted in pain, Mista quickly shot his arms out to prop the boy up.

“I suppose I should do everything else too,” he sighed sufferingly as he examined his body and even Mista had to admit it seemed a daunting task. In the light of the moon and the glow of the fire, he could see clearer the damage done and none of it looked good.

“Hey, the worst’s over, right?” he said optimistically and Giorno just rolled his eyes as his Stand reemerged from where it had disappeared immediately after Giorno had finished with his arm.

“Do you need me to get anything for you to use?” Bucciarati asked, who had apparently finished whatever he was fighting with Narancia over to come back to the pair with a worried expression on his face as he took in the extent of Giorno’s wounds.

Giorno shook his head; “I’ll just use the wood and the bullet,” he explained.

Mista nodded- “Wait, bullet?!”

Giorno ignored him in favor of directing Gold Experience to his leg first. Yeah, now that Mista was looking, there was another wound in that same thigh next to the wooden splinter poking out of it that could only be from a gun. Fuck, he wished those assholes in the attic had still been alive so he could kick the shit outta them. He would’ve made them wish they were dead, dammit.

It was fascinating to watch as the wood warped and twisted into flesh and muscle, like a puzzle piece fitting itself perfectly into the holes in his leg. Giorno was able to do it quicker this time and without so much as a groan of pain and honestly Mista was impressed by how quickly he was able to improve on Gold Experience’s ability. The guy had only figured out how to use it to heal people just a few days ago. Judging by the looks on the other’s faces, they had similar feelings.

He’d moved on to his side by now, the particularly nasty-looking wooden fragment protruding from below his lower ribcage morphing into skin as it closed up beneath Gold Experience’s gentle touch. By the time he’d finished with that, the kid looked worn and exhausted but more or less okay again.

“What’re you gonna do about your head?” Mista asked curiously, wondering how that would work. He’d only seen Giorno heal injuries he could see with his own eyes up until now.

“I’m not sure,” the blond replied, reaching up to feel gingerly around the base of his skull and winced. “Would you mind looking at it for me?”

Mista nodded as he positioned himself to examine it. It was hard to see in the dark but as he parted the strands of golden blond hair, he could see where the blood had come from: a long, thin scratch running just above the hairline that seemed to have already clotted. The skin was raised around it and when he felt around it gently, there was already a bump forming.

“It doesn’t look too bad,” he said, “Superficial at worst.”

“I’m more concerned about the possibility of concussion,” Giorno agreed as he moved his head away and Mista only just realized he was still holding Giorno in his arms.

“What happened?” That was Fugo’s voice, Mista realized, and the boy’s head came into view behind Bucciarati. He hadn’t seen him earlier but the relief at seeing Fugo there was near overwhelming. That meant they all made it out somehow. They were all alive.

“Someone caught me off guard,” Giorno said. “They hit me upside the head with a board.”

Bucciarati’s murderous glare was all too relatable, Mista thought, and he wanted to kill that motherfucker all over again. Fucking coward.

“I’m sorry,” Fugo whispered suddenly. “This is all my fault.”

As Narancia immediately started refuting that, Mista felt confusion. What had he and Giorno missed while back in the house? It was only upon further investigation that he noticed that, while practically covered in blood, Fugo had no black and gray smudges of soot and ash and smoke. In fact, he looked like he hadn’t been in the fire at all.

“It is no one’s fault but the Boss’s,” Bucciarati said firmly and his tone made it clear there was no arguing with him. “You saved two lives, Fugo. Never regret that.”

The blond nodded but judging from his expression, Mista wasn’t so sure he bought that. He retreated back towards the forest with Narancia trailing behind him, clinging to his arm as he murmured soothing words of encouragement to his friend.

Bucciarati was looking at Giorno’s head now as he asked, “Do you think you can heal it, Giorno?”

The boy shook his head. “I’ve only ever healed things I can see before. I can’t see through Gold Experience so even if it were to heal it, I wouldn’t feel confident about it without seeing what I’m doing. I’m worried I’d cause more harm than good.”

Bucciarati nodded. “Well, the car is still alright so we can treat it with the first aid kit there. Mista is right; it doesn’t look very bad. You should be alright in a day or two. As for the concussion… we’ll have to wait and see, I suppose. Are you at all nauseous? Dizzy?”

“Just a headache,” Giorno answered. “I’ll rest later. Mista, show me your hands.”

“I have no idea what you’re-”

“Do you really think I wouldn’t notice the way you’re handling them so cautiously? Or that you’re favoring your right arm? Now show me or I’ll force you to.”

“That’s kinda kinky,” he joked as he obeyed begrudgingly, pulling his sweater over his head despite the way the remainder of it on his left arm felt like it was ripping the skin off and how his side screamed in protest.

Now that he could actually see it, it looked worse than he thought. His left side was a vivid red even in the dim light but it was nothing compared to his forearm, which was also covered in white and pink, puffy blisters that stared angrily up at him. There was blood in some areas, from where the dead skin had peeled away, and his hands were pretty much coated in the stuff. They were both dark and red and clearly inflamed. If he squinted, Mista was pretty sure he could actually see where the layers of skin had been ripped away.

He heard a sharp inhalation and looked up to see Giorno staring at the damage with an expression of worry and anger. It was possibly the most expressive he’d ever seen the boy.

“It looks worse than it feels, really,” he assured.

Bucciarati fixed him with a cold stare as he said, “That is because the skin is dead, Mista. Of course you can’t feel it. Why didn’t you say it was this bad?!”

“You already didn’t want to let me go back in,” Mista hissed, pissed off that Bucciarati was complaining now. “What was I gonna fucking say?!”

The capo looked wounded at his wods, but before he could answer, Giorno had cut in. “Stop, both of you.” His voice was hard as Gold Experience appeared at his side. “Save the fighting for the next enemy. Mista, I’ve never tried to heal burns before and I’m not sure I’ll be able to… but it’s quite possible that…”

When he trailed off, thinking, Mista cocked his head in curiosity. Giorno noticed this and quickly elaborated; “Your skin… while still organic matter, it’s dead. It means that I might be able to use that to replace the dead skin. Attempt to give it life - but I have to tell you that the opposite might occur instead.”

That was… an interesting concept, Mista had to admit. Even a guy as dumb as him could sorta understand what the implications of that could mean if it proved functional. But if it didn’t work, what would happen? If it did the opposite, it would take the life that remained in his arm. If it still counted as a living thing… didn’t that mean it could kill his entire arm?

Before Bucciarati could voice the protests that he inevitably had, judging from his expression, Mista waved his good arm as he asked, “…Is this something you think you can do?”

Giorno’s firm nod was more than enough for him. He swallowed thickly before grinning.

“Then do whatever ya gotta do. I trust you.”

Chapter Text

Mista trusted Giorno.

Enough to let him potentially kill his entire arm all for the sake of a theory that hadn’t even been tested before.

It was strange, now that he thought about it. He knew he’d trusted him, but he hadn’t said it aloud, had he? Not really, not for something as serious as this. He’d only known Giorno less than a week, only six days in total, but it felt like the blond had been there for over a lifetime. Mista thought of him as indispensable, he realized. And now that Giorno was in his life, he never wanted to experience life without him.

The encouraging smile he wore as he gazed at the handsome blond must have been pretty strong because Giorno’s worry seemed to fade from his features when he met Mista’s eyes.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Bucciarati, ever the voice of reason, asked. “Giorno, it’s not that I don’t believe in your ability but… the risk is so high…”

“I’m confident,” Giorno answered and his voice was firm. “As long as Mista trusts me, I’m certain I can do this.”

“Hey, if ya mess up, we’ll just chop it off and grow me a new one, right?” Mista joked, although he wasn’t too keen on that idea to be honest. Giorno smirked as Bucciarati just sighed and shook his head in exasperation.

“I’m going to get the first aid kit from the car,” he said as he straightened up. “After you finish, we’ll tend to your head, Giorno. And then you can help the others,” Bucciarati added, noticing the way Giorno was ready to object and argue that the rest of the group needed attention first.

Bucciarati walked off, making a beeline for Abbacchio first and rounding up the man as the pair headed off towards the front of the smoldering remains of the building. Trish had drifted over to Fugo and Narancia and the trio seemed to be speaking amongst themselves quietly about something. Probably about Fugo, if Mista thought about it.

“Are you ready?”

Giorno’s voice brought Mista’s attention back and he turned to make eye contact with the blond. He swallowed thickly before giving a firm nod, trying to ignore the fear roiling around in his gut. Trusting Giorno was one thing but dealing with that pain again was another. He wasn’t looking forward to it.

“If you’re going to scream, I can find you something to bite down on,” Giorno said, sensing his hesitation. Mista shook his head.

“Nah, I can handle it. You just caught me off guard last time, that’s all,” he grinned. “I’m too manly for that, you’ll see.” He raised his arm and flexed his muscles which was a mistake because the way the blistered, dead skin pulled made him yelp in pain.

Giorno rolled his eyes but he was smiling fondly as he settled onto the ground by Mista’s left side and reached out to touch his arm gently, lifting it up to examine it as Gold Experience emerged next to him. With one last nervous glance at Mista, he focused his attention back on the skin and the cold touch of Gold Experience reaching through Giorno’s fingers alighted against his flesh.

He didn’t feel anything at first, which sorta made sense when he thought about how it was dead already. And then, as the blisters seemed to ripple across his forearm and up to his shoulder, the layers of flesh brushed against his sore muscles and intense, fiery pain followed.

Mista ground his teeth as he threw his head back, holding back his screams so that only high-pitched whimpers escaped. He couldn’t decide which was more embarrassing, that or just plain screaming. Inhaling sharply as his arm seemed to grow a life of its own, he looked back down to see small bubbles appearing atop the blister, bursting out of it into the air and popping with small hissing noises as liquid oozed out of it.

“It’s the fluid that was trapped under the blister,” Giorno explained quietly. “I can’t do anything with it but help it escape outwards.”

It was honestly disturbing to look at as the flesh of his arm rippled and shifted and bubbled as it somehow attached itself, life forcibly pushed back into the cells. It reminded him kinda of the monster movies he’d watched when he was little on TV with his siblings and had nightmares afterward about them. But if he focused on watching the process happen, it made the pain slightly more bearable.

If he had to compare it to something, it was like being burned all over again. As the fluid was forced out, the skin was dried and heated up again and while it revitalized, the way the cells expanded and swelled hurt like he’d never felt before.

But it was working.

At least he thought it was. Maybe not? He wasn’t Giorno, he didn’t know. But the blond seemed like he was satisfied with the whole process and Mista wasn’t gonna complain about the pain if it was working well enough.

Which was getting worse, if the way white dots were flicking across his vision was any indication. They mixed with the stars above them as he looked up and made it seem as though they were crashing down to earth. It was pretty, he thought dazedly, and wondered if Giorno would think so too.

He must’ve blacked out for a moment because the next thing he noticed was that he was lying on his back staring up at the night sky as Giorno looked worriedly down at him.

“Mista? Are you alright?”

“Wha happ’nd?” he slurred, trying to push himself upright as his vision swam again. Giorno placed a hand over his chest and gently pushed him back down.

“You passed out,” he explained slowly and Mista wanted to say that he didn’t need to treat him like he was five but if Giorno talked any faster, Mista wasn’t sure if he’d process it all or not. “Luckily I was almost done or you might’ve hurt yourself further when you fell back. It’s a perfectly normal response after practically losing a limb; I was the same when I grew new arms for myself.”

“I lost it?” Mista asked in confusion. He thought he’d remember if they had to chop the arm off.

“Well, more like half of it, I suppose,” Giorno said. “The burn went much deeper than I had thought, all the way to your subcutaneous tissue; we’re lucky I treated it when I did or it might have begun to necrotize.”

“I dunno what that means but sounds bad,” Mista agreed as he raised his arm up to look at it. He didn’t think he’d ever get used to seeing Gold Experience’s work firsthand; it was like a miracle. His arm looked nearly perfect, if not a little pink and blotchy, but he figured that was normal for revitalized dead stuff. Probably. Not like he had experience in that field.

“I tried to make it look as close to your normal skin color as I could,” Giorno said, sounding like he felt almost guilty for some reason, “but it might not match fully, so I’m sorry for-”

“Oh no, don’t you fuckin’ dare apologize,” Mista stopped him before he could get another word out as he fixed Giorno with a glare. “Dude. You fixed my arm. I don’t give a shit about what color it is now; it could be purple for all I care. Seriously, Giorno. Thank you.”

Giorno fell silent and averted his gaze and it took Mista a moment to realize the younger boy was embarrassed. This time when he sat up, he was careful to move slowly and blink the dizziness from his eyes as he pulled Giorno into a hug. When it was returned, Mista grinned and reached up to ruffle the boy’s hair, careful to avoid the cut near the base of Giorno’s hairline.

“I see it worked then?”

That was Bucciarati’s voice and they both pulled apart to see the capo approaching them with a soft smile on his face, Abbacchio trailing after him with his arms crossed over his chest and a frown on his face.

“Yes,” Giorno confirmed and it didn’t take an idiot to hear the pride in his voice as he verified this. Bucciarati’s smile widened and he reached out to pat Giorno on the shoulder and it was so domestic that Mista once again wondered how Bucciarati truly felt about his title as the mom of the group.

Mista flexed his arm as Bucciarati set the first aid kit down and began to rifle through it for bandages and antiseptic. Abbacchio rolled his eyes but stepped closer anyways, inspecting the freshly-healed skin with an air of curiosity and skepticism.

“Hmm,” was all he said but Mista knew that was approval and he flashed Giorno a thumbs up. The blond didn’t seem as sure as Mista was, but hey, Mista was confident in his abilities to feel enough optimism for the both of them. When it came to the gang, that normally fell to him; after all, optimism was not a common outlook in the mafia.

“We don’t have any water to clean it off, so I’m afraid this is going to hurt,” Bucciarati said apologetically as he used a clean bandage to soak up some antiseptic. When Giorno winced at Bucciarati’s touch to his scalp, Mista reached out and took his hand in his own, squeezing it encouragingly.

“Why dontcha tell Bucciarati how ya did it?” Mista suggested, thinking that would be a good distraction for the guy. “Let’s call Fugo over too, he’ll wanna hear this.” The guy would probably understand it way more than Mista did - and this would be like the third time Giorno explained it to him, too.

Giorno looked excited at the prospect of sharing his newest discovery of his abilities and when they caught Fugo’s eyes, they waved him over. He looked hesitant but after Narancia said something inaudible, the boy’s expression hardened and he nodded before coming to join them, Narancia and Trish at his side. Abbacchio looked even angrier as Fugo approached but Bucciarati smacked him on the back of the head and shot him a disapproving frown. It was just so damn easy for the capo to control the man that Mista had to bite back a snicker or Abbacchio might undo all’a Giorno’s hard work.

“What is it?” Fugo asked cautiously.

“I used a new method to recover Mista’s burnt arm,” Giorno explained as Bucciarati went back to cleaning off his wound. “Knowing your academic background, I’d like to hear your opinion, Fugo.”

The boy immediately perked up at that and his expression was like a kid on Christmas morning. Mista sighed. He would never understand these intellectual types.

Giorno launched into an animated explanation as Bucciarati finished up cleaning off the dried blood, both the capo and Fugo listening intently. Even Abbacchio was listening, although it was obvious he was trying to seem uninterested. Narancia, on the other hand, immediately tuned them out, opting to look at Mista’s arm in amazement and poke it in different places, asking if he could feel that or if it hurt. Trish seemed to give up on understanding after a minute and joined Narancia in bothering Mista.

By the time Giorno’s head wound was covered with a bandage, he’d finished and Fugo was talking about some other thing that could apparently be a problem that Mista didn’t know anything about; he hadn’t even finished lower secondary school after all.

“-dangers that possible infectious agents present,” he was saying with that faraway look on his face that he got when he was thinking hard. “Perhaps I’m wrong, but Gold Experience doesn’t have the ability to nullify toxins or pathogens that it hasn’t come into contact with, right? You were able to counter Haze’s infection only because Gold Experience was able to interact with it and form an antidote. In which case, healing wounds like burns could possibly trap the harmful microorganisms underneath the skin and cause an infection or possibly even sepsis since you aren’t able to know what all is trapped beneath the skin.”

“I hadn’t considered that,” Giorno admitted, adjusting the bandage where it wrapped around his forehead so that his golden bangs were pushed out of it and dangling into his eyes from where they’d fallen out of their ringlets. “Gold Experience can neutralize poisons but it must be infected first, and I can’t see or reach deep enough into the skin to possibly find them all…”

He trailed off with a frown, glancing at Mista’s arm.

“What?” Mista asked warily, pulling his arm close to his chest. He may not know what they were really saying but he knew enough to know it wasn’t anything good. “What?”

“…If your arm begins to hurt, you have to tell us,” Giorno said finally, a troubled expression twisting across his pretty features. “Immediately, Mista. While I think you’re alright - the skin wasn’t ruptured, after all - it’s possible that-”

“Well, I think it’s unlikely in this case for another reason too,” Fugo interjected before Mista could get too freaked out. “The skin was seared so badly with such extreme heat that it’s unlikely most harmful pathogens would’ve survived. I think rather than applying to Mista, it’s something you should be cautious of in the future, Giorno.”

“I agree,” Bucciarati added, scratching his chin as he said, “And there might be other side effects that we don’t know about from using your power in this way.”

“I would never do anything that I thought might hurt one of you,” Giorno said defensively.”

Bucciarati’s features softened. “That isn’t what I meant, Giorno. Not all of it, anyway.”

Mista held his tongue but he knew what Bucciarati was getting at. Surely Gold Experience had a limit somewhere and he didn’t want them to find it out the hard way.

Giorno, for his part, didn’t really seem to understand but nodded anyways. “Let me see the rest of your injuries,” he said aloud to the group. “I’ll do the best I can to fix you all up.”

As the others began to decide who was going to get healed first, Bucciarati announced he was going to go back to the car and inspect it for their journey ahead. Mista scooted towards Giorno and murmured softly, “You doing alright? Want me to stay?”

Giorno smiled softly at him and shook his head no. “You should go with Bucciarati,” he answered. “Check out the car. He’ll need assistance and you’re the only one who’s been healed already.”

Mista hesitated for a second, wanting to stay with Giorno, but nodded and got up. It was strange; just half an hour ago, everything had hurt and he felt like he mighta been dying, but now the most he felt was a soreness in his side from the swollen skin Giorno hadn’t healed because it didn’t really need it.

As he followed after Bucciarati towards where the car was left, he couldn’t help but wonder when Bucciarati had been treated. Maybe while he was passed out? Or maybe he just hadn’t been hurt - as unlikely as that seemed. But he knew that if he tried to get an answer out of the capo, he would just be met with circumvention and assurances he didn’t need. It was frustrating, knowing that something was wrong but not knowing what to do about it.

“Mista?”

His capo’s voice stirred him from his thoughts and he looked up to see Bucciarati staring at him curiously. “What are you doing here?”

“Thought I’d come help ya out,” he said with a shrug. “I don’t need anymore healing from Giorno, plus Pistols can help look in the small spots we can’t see for any tracking stuff.”

Bucciarati nodded his thanks as they began to search the gray CUV. There wasn’t anything that was apparent, the remains of the old clothes they’d stolen on the drive there over a day ago, the blood-covered blanket Fugo had used, some discarded grocery bags from the trip to town. Coco Jumbo was still hidden safely in the cracked-open column that they’d turned into a little house for him complete with a water dish and a pile of kale that looked half-eaten. The outside of the car looked pretty normal too, the sides streaked with dirt and grime from the unpaved roads it had driven on, the crack on the back window from when Narancia had rammed his radio into it when Abbacchio stopped suddenly, the passenger side visor broken off.

“You guys see anything?” Mista asked his Pistols, who were floating around inside the CUV inspecting it upon the promise of sausage later.

An assortment of negatives were the answer he got and Mista sighed. If Fugo hadn’t told anyone where they were, then how’d those assholes find them? From the looks of it, Bucciarati was thinking the same thing.

“Could they have followed you back from the town?” he asked hopefully but the capo just shook his head.

“Leone and I were very careful,” he said. “We circled around the town multiple times before we left and turned on three different side streets before we finally came back here. I’m certain no one was following us.”

“Can you guys check the underside of the car?” Mista instructed the Pistols and they obeyed, albeit with the normal amount of arguing and complaining.

“Bucciarati, we got a flashlight I can hold for them?”

The capo procured one from the glove compartment and passed it over to him. “I’ll check the interior mechanisms of the car,” he said as Sticky Fingers appeared at his side. “You take care of the flashlight for Pistols.”

Mista saluted and knelt down on the ground, pressing his cheek to the earth as he flicked on the flashlight and winced at the sudden bright light assaulting his vision. Sex Pistols flitted around way too animatedly for three in the morning and chattered amongst themselves as they worked, pulling at pipes and banging on the metal frame until something creaked and Mista made them cut it out before they broke the damn car.

“Mista?”

His eyes flicked back to see Five next to the flashlight, rubbing its tiny hands nervously as its big eyes watered. “How is Giorno?” it asked quietly, glancing behind it like it didn’t want the others to know it was asking.

Mista grinned. That was his Five, ever the softy.

“He’s fine,” he said, keeping his voice down for Five’s sake. “He was very happy you stayed with him while we escaped. You did good, Five.”

The Pistol seemed to brighten at that, a bashful smile creeping across its face as it nodded its thanks to Mista.

“Mista!” Two appeared in front of him, pointing excitedly behind it. “They found it, they found it!”

Three and Seven were carrying something that was as big as them over to Mista and they deposited it on the ground as the gunman beckoned Bucciarati over. It was blackish-gray, blending with the metal frame of the bottom of the car, but the wires and small, blinking red dot were evidence enough to know what it was.

“Wonderful job, Mista,” Bucciarati said approvingly as he took the device in his hand. “Looks like a standard tracking device for Passione. I’ve used them a few times before you joined.”

The capo dropped it to the ground and Mista lifted up his shoe to bring his heel down on it but stopped when Bucciarati stuck his arm out.

“If you break it, they’ll know we found it,” he explained as he bent down to dig a small hole in the soft earth. “But if we leave it here, by the car it was left on, it will take them longer to figure out we survived.”

“Smart thinking,” Mista agreed and moved back as Bucciarati pushed it into the hole and knocked a bit of loose dirt over it, not enough to bury it but enough to hide it from any passing animals or birds. “Let’s go tell the others and-”

“Bucciarati!”

Narancia was running towards them, a scared look on his face as he waved his arms frantically at them.

“What is it?!” Bucciarati had immediately stiffened, ready to spring back into action and Mista reached down to grip the base of his gun in case he’d need it. “More enemies?!”

“No, it’s- it’s Giorno! He just- just fell over!”

Mista felt like his heart was gonna stop the second the blond’s name was uttered and broke into a sprint towards where they’d left the others. He heard Bucciarati begin to question Narancia behind him, the pair hurrying as well, but he didn’t bother to pay attention. All he made out was Narancia saying one other thing.

“He’s not waking up.”

Chapter Text

Fugo had watched Mista trail after Bucciarati, looking like a kicked puppy abandoned by its owner. The pitiful glances he kept shooting Giorno, who pointedly did not look at him, were enough to make Fugo feel bad for the guy.

Not that he really blamed Giorno; he had work to do and Mista could be, well, stifling sometimes. Everyone had their moments when it came to that, really. For example, Narancia seemed dead set on not leaving Fugo’s side at all anymore, even though Abbacchio had already promised not to do anything. Fugo hoped that meant the man believed him but knew it was likely that he just didn’t want to upset Bucciarati further. Again, Fugo couldn’t blame him.

He’d wanted the others to get fixed up first but Narancia was having absolutely none of it. As endearing as it was, Fugo just sort of felt he didn’t really deserve to get healed before the rest since he wasn’t even there to help them. And because it was his fault the safehouse was burnt down, despite what everyone kept saying. Well, everyone but Abbacchio.

Still, when Narancia had his mind set, changing it was near impossible and Fugo knew this. It didn’t help either when the boy explained to Giorno how his wounds weren’t burns but actual injuries from gunshots. Fugo had tried to argue that he was fine; he made it there in one piece and was still on his feet after all, right?

But then Abbacchio had just sighed and prodded him sharply in the left side, finger digging into the flesh right above the bullet in his gut and he nearly doubled over as stars danced across his vision. That had been enough for Giorno to set his sights on Fugo.

If Fugo had thought Narancia was stubborn, clearly he hadn’t met Giorno yet.

The blond’s hands had been gentle, careful with the wounds on his side and shoulder as Gold Experience’s fingers danced across the flesh, knitting it together with quickened expertise. Giorno was rapidly becoming the gang’s resident doctor because of that.

He had murmured softly to Fugo to not let Abbacchio bother him, that the man had already forgiven him, and Fugo wondered just how Giorno thought he knew that. When he’d tried to apologize for the boy’s injuries, Giorno had cut him off with a stern glare that rivalled Bucciarati’s on the best of days and he’d given up the idea of protesting.

His ankle was deemed well enough to heal on its own since there was no visible injury and Giorno didn’t want to mess with anything that was purely internal. That was fine with Fugo; it didn’t hurt much anyways and Narancia seemed set on using it as an excuse to bundle up next to his side. Not that Fugo minded that either.

Abbacchio had gone next, much to the man’s chagrin. He’d tried to insist that he was perfectly fine and that he didn’t need any help, especially not from Giorno, but when Trish had quietly asked him what Bucciarati would think about that, the guy had gone as pale as his hair.

He’d pushed up his right sleeve to reveal a blistered burn wound across a gouge in the skin from where he’d tried to cauterize it himself. There was a scar above it, an old, marred injury stretching nearly the span of his entire forearm and once again Fugo was left wondering just how much he didn’t know about Abbacchio.

Giorno had healed the half-burnt wound with ease before instructing him to show him his back as well. Abbacchio had rolled his eyes and sighed sufferingly but obeyed and shrugged off his coat, a burn on one of his shoulder blades likely from backing into a burning wall. Fugo wondered how Giorno had even noticed it.

When Giorno passed Abbacchio off to Trish to get the smaller things bandaged and treated, Narancia went next, and Fugo was pleased to see that the boy had next to no serious injuries at all.

It seemed everything just looked worse than it actually was. His skin was red but there were almost no blisters except for a few small ones on his palms and Giorno fixed them but was certain the other red patches would heal with time, like a sunburn. There were a few bruises on his torso but nothing serious and the cut above Narancia’s left eye had already scabbed over.

Trish was last, and the only thing that really needed healing were her feet, which had blistered on the soles because of the heat against her leather boots.

In hindsight, Fugo thought that it was a very good thing that the rest of Trish was pretty much perfectly fine because the second Giorno had finished with the last of the sores on her feet, Gold Experience immediately dissipated and the boy pitched sideways. He would’ve collapsed onto the ground if Abbacchio hadn’t shot his arms out to catch him, his true feelings for once showing on his face as he eyed Giorno with an expression of shock and concern.

“Giorno?!” That was Narancia’s voice, laced with fear as he and Fugo rushed to the fallen boy. Abbacchio was holding him carefully, laying him on the ground with a gentleness that Fugo wouldn’t have expected from him.

“Go get Bucciarati,” Abbacchio growled and Narancia tore off as fast as he could. “Fugo, help me examine him.”

The blond nodded and moved to Giorno’s side. Had they missed an injury or something? Was his headwound worse than they’d thought? His mind rushed through a million scenarios a minute as he pressed a hand to Giorno’s forehead. Cool, clammy almost, with a shiny sheen sweat of across it. His skin was pale, looking almost white in the moonlight.

Abbacchio had pressed two fingers between the boy’s chin and neck when Fugo heard voices and looked up to see Mista racing towards them, Bucciarati and Narancia hot on his heels.

“What the fuck do you-”

Fugo was up and intercepting Mista before the man could get close enough to do something he’d regret, grabbing his shoulders tightly as he said quickly, “He’s just taking his pulse. Calm down.”

Mista scowled furiously at Fugo before he cursed under his breath and wrenched himself away, stalking over to where Abbacchio and Trish were inspecting Giorno.

“If I find out you had anything to do with this,” he growled, jabbing a finger at Abbacchio. The man just rolled his eyes and went back to what he was doing. Mista looked like he was going to start screaming again but then Bucciarati reached them and Fugo thanked whatever God was looking out for them. The last thing they needed was Mista at Abbacchio’s throat for something he didn’t even do.

“What happened?” Bucciarati asked, striding over to kneel next to Giorno. Fugo watched as the man brushed his hand along the boy’s forehead in a gentle show of affection before pulling away and reassuming his role as their calm, collected capo.

“He just fell over,” Abbacchio replied. “He finished healing Trish’s feet and then collapsed. His pulse is a little erratic but nothing’s seriously wrong with it.”

“He’s cold,” Fugo offered, remembering how Giorno’s skin had felt beneath his hand. “And clammy, though I’m sure you’ve felt for yourself.”

“Is it his head?” Mista asked, hovering next to the blond as close as he could without moving him. He’d inserted his hand into Giorno’s and Fugo had to make sure he’d give him hell for it later assuming everything was fine. Now wasn’t the time for teasing though. “Maybe it’s worse than we thought, what if it’s a concussion, what if he’s bleeding, what if-”

“I know.”

Five heads whipped back to stare at Trish, who looked surprisingly calm given the situation.

“What did you just say?” Bucciarati asked.

“I said I know what this is,” the girl repeated, stepping forward as she held out a hand to count off Giorno’s symptoms. “Clammy, pale skin, sweating, erratic pulse, no visible abnormalities. This is like what happened to my mom when she first started getting sick.”

“Then what is it?!” Mista practically screamed.

“It’s exhaustion.” Her answer was met with silence and she sighed before explaining, “He fainted because of fatigue. There’s nothing seriously wrong with him.”

“But you said your mom-”

“Because she had cancer and didn’t know it yet,” Trish snapped. “Fatigue is a sign. We just didn’t realize the cause at the time and the doctors said she passed out because she was tired. It doesn’t mean he has cancer, you dumbass.”

“…You said he collapsed right after he finished healing you?” Bucciarati murmured. When Trish nodded, the capo seemed to deflate, the adrenaline dissipating somewhat.

“It makes sense,” Fugo agreed, knowing no one else was going to point it out. “We’ve both wondered if Gold Experience had a limit when it came to healing, Bucciarati. Giorno’s never had to fix us all at once; perhaps he simply reached that proverbial limit”

“You’re right,” Bucciarati agreed and hearing it from the capo seemed to soothe the others, Mista especially.

“If something’s actually wrong, we won’t know until he wakes up,” Abbacchio pointed out as he stood up. “Might as well assume the best for now until we can know more.”

“I have the turtle!”

Fugo just now noticed that Narancia had vanished from the group as they discussed the problem but now he was hurrying back to them, waving Coco Jumbo in the air like some kind of toy.

“Be careful with him!” Fugo snapped, smacking Narancia’s head as he rested a hand on his hip. “What if you dropped it?”

“Yeah but I didn’t,” Narancia scowled, rubbing the back of his head as he held the turtle out to Bucciarati. “I got him, Bucciarati! Did I do good?”

“Yes, well done, Narancia.” The brunet preened at Bucciarati’s praise as the capo took Coco Jumbo into his own hands, announcing, “Although it would be best to not move him, we should just let Giorno rest in the turtle for now. We need to get away from here, before reinforcements arrive. Sooner rather than later. I can take the first shift driving.”

“I’ll stay in the car with you,” Abbacchio said and Bucciarati nodded.

“The rest of you, in the turtle. As for Giorno, I’ll-”

“I’ll do it.”

Before anyone could argue with him, Mista had swung Giorno up into his arms like the boy weighed nothing at all, cradling the blond against his chest with a softness that Fugo never would’ve associated him with before. As he moved into the turtle, expression gentle and worried, Fugo began to realize that maybe Mista’s feelings for the boy were more serious than he’d initially thought.

It made him wonder if Mista knew that.


It was dark in the turtle when Fugo awoke, the lights off and the sound of faint snoring coming from beside him.

He must’ve fallen asleep at some point because the last thing he remembered was promising Bucciarati to watch over the others while they got some rest. The capo had clearly seemed frazzled now that things were finally calming down again and Fugo was quick enough to catch on that he wanted some alone time with Abbacchio - or at least as alone as they could get, being in the car while the others were in the turtle.

Narancia and Trish had gone first, the girl eyeing Mista silently before she sat down on the chair she’d assumed the position of for nearly the whole trip now. When Fugo followed, Mista had already set Giorno down on the couch. He’d taken a seat on the shorter end of the sectional with the blond’s head resting in his lap, the rest of him splayed out across the long end. Mista looked up at the others as they had entered, running his fingers through Giorno’s hair. He must’ve undone the braid at some point, Fugo realized, as well as unbuttoning his collar.

If it had been any other time, he would’ve made some kind of wisecrack about trying to undress the blond but it just didn’t feel right to do so right now.

Instead, he’d simply headed over to the other armchair that Narancia wasn’t occupying and thudded into it heavily, not realizing how exhausted he really was until he was finally resting.

He’d waved Bucciarati’s worry off and said he’d watch the others. The capo had smiled softly at him before disappearing out of the turtle to join Abbacchio in the car. The white-haired man had convinced him to let him take the first turn driving and Fugo had a sneaking suspicion that something was wrong but wisely chose to ignore it for now.

Now, though, now seemed a good time to think about it.

He hadn’t meant to fall asleep after all, hadn’t even noticed he had until he woke up since it had been thankfully dreamless. It seemed unlikely that the capo hadn’t noticed but maybe he’d just thought it was best to let them all rest.

Something shifted to Fugo’s left and he glanced over to see Narancia curled up in the armchair beside him, pushed as close to Fugo’s as it could get, and he wondered when the boy had done that. His hands were curled around the arm of Fugo’s chair, like he’d wanted to cuddle next to Fugo but had chosen not to. He must’ve woken up at some point, Fugo thought vaguely as he reached out to entwine his fingers with the boy’s. Narancia mumbled something in his sleep but didn’t wake, fingers unconsciously wrapping around Fugo’s in return, and a pinch of fondness bloomed in his chest. Another reason to be thankful he’d chosen to come back.

The others all seemed to be sleeping as well. Trish was curled tightly into her chair with her knees pulled up and her head resting atop them. It didn’t look very comfortable but he figured it was more that it felt secure that she was able to sleep like that.

Mista and Giorno had also moved at some point in the night because now they were both stretched across the couch, pressed together as close as lovers. Giorno must have woken up at some point because Fugo was certain Mista wouldn’t have done that without the blond’s permission. Hell, it had probably been Giorno’s idea in the first place.

Mista’s arm was flung around the boy’s waist, Giorno’s back against the couch and head resting in the crook of Mista’s shoulder. Their legs were tangled together messily but judging by their peaceful expressions, neither of them seemed to mind.

As Fugo surveyed the room, he became aware of faint whispering coming from elsewhere.

At first, he tensed, fearing that maybe someone had gotten in, that another enemy had appeared while they were vulnerable, but as he focused in on them, he realized it was coming from outside of the turtle.

Bucciarati and Abbacchio.

He should just go back to sleep.

If either of them found out that he was snooping on them, he’d get in big trouble. At least with Abbacchio. Bucciarati would just be disappointed - which, honestly, was worse. And they were probably just talking about couple stuff; so what if they had never made it ‘official’ to the group, everyone knew. Fugo didn’t want to hear that kind of thing.

He should just go back to sleep.

Fugo pulled his hand from Narancia’s and stood, inching towards the gem-roof ceiling to hear better.

It was that little niggling feeling, that constant voice in the back of his mind that was telling him something wasn’t right, that was driving him on. And by now, he’d learned to act on those feelings.

“You have to tell them,” Abbacchio was saying, his words muffled by the Stand’s barrier but as long as Fugo stayed still and focused, he could there without much problem.

“I can’t do that.” That was Bucciarati.

“You can,” Abbacchio insisted. “You just don’t want to. There’s a difference, Bruno.”

“We don’t need to deal with it right now,” the capo argued. “It will just cause more stress for them all and that’s the last thing they need.”

“They aren’t kids, Bruno. They can handle it.”

“Of course they-”

“You know what I mean.” Fugo could make out through the crimson-tinted glass that Abbacchio was gesturing something before reaching back to brush his hair over his shoulder. “I’m not sure any of them are kids anymore. Not with the shit they’ve seen.”

“…It was his first time.” What? Whose first time? Doing what?

Abbacchio sighed. “I know.”

“And I wasn’t there to-”

“You couldn’t have done anything differently. It was only a matter of time. The brat knew what he was getting into.” Ah. So they were talking about Giorno. Still, that only answered the who, what were they getting at? Did Fugo miss-

“Taking a life is never any easy thing.”

Oh.

Oh.

Wait, hadn’t Giorno- Fugo ran through the list of fights in his mind. From what he’d told them about Luca, the coma and following death had been unintentional and pretty much Luca’s fault in the end. Illuso, Fugo had ultimately killed himself with the help of Haze’s virus. Giorno was the one who killed Baby Face’s user but he’d sent a snake to do it. He hadn’t really been there. The White Album battle - he’d killed the user in retaliation to what he’d done to Mista and Fugo honestly woulda done the same, probably worse. But still, those were deaths Giorno had caused. Fugo was confused how this was any different.

“-called that’s just idiotic.” He’d missed what Abbacchio had begun to say back and cursed under his breath as he focused back in. “The fuck did they expect? Normal dudes?”

“They were normal themselves,” Bucciarati said. “I would be surprised that they were sent after us except for their advantage of sheer numbers. It’s the kind of cowardly tactic I would expect from the Boss.”

So they weren’t Stand users. Fugo didn’t know how that made it any different, but then again, he wasn’t Giorno. And he never could read the guy, so who fucking knew?

“Mista said something about fear,” Bucciarati added suddenly. It made more sense now that the capo said that; Fugo must’ve been asleep when all this happened, which would explain why he didn’t quite get the conversation and why Giorno and Mista had moved positions on the couch.

“That Giorno was muttering something about it in his sleep,” Bucciarati continued, “but never said anything coherent. Perhaps it has something to do with that.”

Abbacchio nodded in agreement before shaking his head. “Stop trying to distract me, Bruno. We’re talking about you.”

“Must we?”

Something must have happened, thankfully out of Fugo’s sight because the next thing he heard was Abbacchio murmuring, “…Stop distracting me. I’m driving.” And Fugo could’ve sworn that his voice had lowered an octave.

Gross. It was like listening to his parents flirt. Well, more like older brothers. Fugo didn’t like comparing anyone to his parents.

“You know what they’ll say when they find out,” Abbacchio continued, and judging by the way Bucciarati’s arm moved away across the roof, the capo must have agreed. “They’ll be hurt that you didn’t trust them.”

“It’s not that I don’t trust them. I just don’t want them to blame themselves.”

“Back to Giorno again? Really, ya wonder why I hate the kid so much when all you do is talk about him all the damn time.”

“We both know that isn’t true,” and Fugo had to wonder what Bucciarati meant by that: that Abbacchio didn’t hate Giorno? Or that Bucciarati didn’t talk about him that much? In Fugo’s completely objective perspective, the capo was referring to the first.

“I just don’t get why you took such a shine to him,” Abbacchio said. “Sure, the kid’s smart, I’ll give him that. He’s more resourceful than the others, probably even more than Fugo if I’m being completely honest-” Fugo resented that but had to grudgingly admit that it was true “-but something about him just doesn’t feel right. Seems so… bitter, almost. He just… he rubs me the wrong way. He’s fifteen but acts like he’s got the whole fucking world on his shoulders.”

“He reminds you of yourself,” Bucciarati said so quietly that Fugo almost missed it. Abbacchio’s answer was too muffled to make out but he could hear regretful anger in the tone that caused the capo to reach back out the white-haired man, arm covering most of the window on top of the turtle.

“Do you know what Giorno reminds me of?” Bucciarati murmured. “There was a quote I read somewhere a long time ago, one that I never truly believed in until I met him.”

“Which is?”

“I’ve got a dream worth more than my sleep.”

Abbacchio laughed and at first, Fugo thought it was a scoff but it sounded too genuine for that, too warm to be insulting. “That kid and his dreams. Guess no one ever told him dreams are meant for sleep.”

Bucciarati chuckled and things were quiet for so long that Fugo wondered if they were done talking. Then Bucciarati spoke up again, so soft Fugo wouldn’t have heard it at all if he’d moved from atop the table a second earlier.

“No sacrifice is too great. You know it as well as I.”

Abbacchio just grunted in response.

“You’ll protect him, right?”

“They’re family,” was the man’s response, and Fugo smiled at that. He knew the guy was softer than he let on. “Of course I will.”

“That’s not what I meant.” Silence and then- “Giorno will be the one to inherit my will when I’m gone. Leone, I need you to promise me.”

And there it was, that uneasy feeling was back but once again, there was nothing he could do about it right now. There was so much to unpack in those few words that Fugo wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to do it. Not before… before whatever Bucciarati was getting at would happen. And still, Fugo had to wonder what expression Abbacchio was making, with what he must know.

“…I promise.”

Fugo wondered what expression he, himself, was making.

Chapter Text

There was a kind of nervous energy vibrating throughout the group that had been absent during their time in the safehouse and Mista didn’t like it.

Things had been tense, strange, as if everyone was walking around on strings a hundred kilometers in the air where one wrong move would cause them all to plummet.

To be more specifically, Bucciarati was acting normal as always but he’d always been a horrible liar so it was obvious something was up with him, Abbacchio was distracted and distant from everybody (which wasn’t that different but it felt different), Fugo seemed more brooding than normal, and Giorno was just plain silent. Which wouldn’t have been abnormal except Mista had thought he’d been getting the blond to open up recently.

Which left he, Narancia, and Trish to pick up the pieces of the once-carefree group and attempt to rebuild them into that false sense of security that might be a little dangerous but it would at least mean they could fucking breathe without the air being so damn heavy.

When the capo had checked in on them last night, Mista had been the only one awake. He’d almost drifted off when Giorno had begun twitching and murmuring things in his sleep and he’d immediately decided to give up on getting some rest entirely .

Bucciarati had asked if they were alright, asked if Giorno was and Mista hadn’t known what to say. He still didn’t, didn’t know what to do to calm Giorno’s nerves or soothe his heart because the guy wouldn’t even tell him what was wrong in the first place. He could only guess.

He’d ended up telling his capo that he thought Giorno was scared but that he didn’t know of what. Bucciarati had worn a pensive look as he checked on the others before leaving the turtle and it made Mista wonder if Bucciarati had a better idea what was weighing on Giorno’s mind than he did.

It had taken a bit of time to shuffle them into a new position on the couch and Giorno had woken up briefly as he did so with wide fear-stricken eyes. Mista was worried he’d tell him to give him some space at first but then the blond’s green eyes had softened into something warm like the hearth in his old house and they’d curled up together on the couch and Giorno had let Mista rake his fingers through his golden hair and murmur soft reassurances in his ear until he drifted back to sleep and this time. This time he didn’t tremble and he didn’t murmur about fear and he didn’t make those little moans like he was watching the people he loved get ripped apart.

At one point, Mista had jerked awake in a cold sweat, heart racing from some vision in his dreams that he couldn’t remember for the life of him and for a second, he couldn’t see anything or anyone at all. Then he’d felt something shift in his arms and he’d blinked a few times until the spots cleared and his eyes adjusted to the dark, and there was Giorno, looking peaceful and relaxed if not for a furrowed brow and that seemed to help Mista calm down.

When he’d twisted awkwardly to check on the others, he could make out a figure sitting atop the small coffee table. That hairstyle could only be Fugo’s, and while he wondered why the boy was up, the stiffness of his figure and the hands clenched tightly together kept him from asking anything. He was pretty sure Fugo hadn’t even noticed he was awake, too lost in his own thoughts.

Mista had barely slept at all after that.

It hadn’t mattered in the end because the next day was spent on the road, doing nothing else but driving around Sardegna searching for the particular area of Costa Smeralda while making sure no one was following them.

Mista had lots of time to take a nap when it wasn’t his turn to drive.

At one point, they’d all been in the car except for Bucciarati and Abbacchio. The capo had insisted that they all stay in the car while he and Abbacchio did whatever they needed to do and Mista had been extra careful not to look in the turtle’s jewel at all; in fact, he’d hidden it within the column of the car until they’d heard Bucciarati calling out to them.

Just in case they were fucking.

It was unlikely but hey, Mista knew bad situations made ya do crazy things sometimes and they were dating, after all. Besides, they could all die at any second so. So it made sense to him.

And if he focused on that, then he could pretend like that was really what it was, and not Bucciarati talking about his potential untimely demise and not Abbacchio trying to convince the capo to get help and not the two of them talking about what they were going to do with the group. What they were going to do with the family.

Mista hadn’t missed the way Fugo had stiffened when Bucciarati announced he and Abbacchio were going into the turtle for a while. The capo had been instructing all of them, so he hadn’t noticed the change in Fugo, but Mista didn’t have orders to issue and petulant brunets complaining that he liked listening to music better in the turtle because there wasn’t background noise, so of course, Mista had been the one to notice.

The boy’s violet eyes were wary, an expression Mista had only seen on him in the worst of occasions: the first time he’d been paired with Mista for reconnaissance, that time he’d returned from a job Polpo had given him, when a weapons dealer sold them out and- and when he’d seen Mista at the Rusellae ruins. It was that guarded, carefully-neutral face that wouldn’t seem out of place to anyone unless they knew him, but Mista knew Fugo and he knew those eyes. Those eyes were the eyes of someone who knew something.

His reaction reminded Mista of what he’d seen the night before, of Fugo sitting up awake while everyone else slept, worrying about something unknown to anyone else but him, and it made him uncomfortable. Did the guy think he couldn’t talk to them? Surely, he’d at least confide in Narancia if it was something that he felt he could talk about, so that meant it was something that Fugo had chosen to actively keep secret.

The next hour had been spent internally debating whether to try to talk to Fugo, to potentially pool the knowledge that they’d gained inadvertently in an attempt to decipher just what it was that Bucciarati was hiding from the others.

He’d ultimately decided that it would be a bad idea. He didn’t have any proof that Fugo had actually heard something; it was just a guess. And if he tried to say something and Fugo didn’t know what he was talking about, that would only cause more suspicion and worry and Fugo definitely didn’t need to deal with that. He was still looking way too pale, even after being healed by Giorno, and Mista figured that after everything Fugo had been through in the past couple days, he had a right to be paranoid.

And it seemed like Narancia had picked up on it as well because he had barely left Fugo’s side since they’d woken up except to take a leak. Even now when they were all crammed in the car, he was wrapped around Fugo’s arm in the backseat, chattering on about his favorite rappers while Giorno took his turn driving. Even though it was obvious that Fugo wasn’t listening at all, he wasn’t pulling away either and Mista figured that was why Narancia kept talking. Narancia had confided in Mista once that he thought that, if he kept talking, then maybe he could drown out the other’s thoughts with his own voice. That must be what he was doing now.

It wasn’t good to keep worrying about all this, Mista knew that much at least, so he’d made a conscious effort to push those thoughts from his mind and launched into a rousing game of Would You Rather with Narancia that quickly devolved into seeing who could gross the other out the most.

When Narancia had stated that he would rather eat his own vomit than his own shit because then he could eat it, throw it up fresh, and it would be like having his favorite meal all over again, Trish had slammed her fist against the window and told them all that the next person to pose a would you rather question would get to decide whether they’d rather have her fist up their ass or down their throat.

There had been silence for a good five minutes before Fugo had finally joined in with a “Well would you rather be fisted or deepthroat someone?” and Trish couldn’t even get mad at them because it had sent Mista and Narancia into wild fits of laughter and even Giorno was smiling and so she had just rolled her eyes and muttered something like “boys are disgusting” under her breath.

The tension had seemed a little better after that.

Mista had just finished up his shift driving the van after needling Bucciarati until the guy finally gave in and let him help out. Just because he had a track record of seven crashes, four collisions with other cars, and two totallings didn’t mean he couldn’t drive. It wasn’t his fault everyone else couldn’t, thank you very much.

Despite that, Bucciarati had only agreed with the concession that he let the capo sit in the back and be sure he didn’t crash the damn thing. Mista grudgingly accepted the terms, wishing it was Giorno who was sitting in the passenger seat right now instead of the turtle.

Bucciarati and Abbacchio were sitting in the back and Mista was ninety percent sure that the only reason Abbacchio joined them was to make Mista suffer. His backseat driving was the worst and he wasn’t even doing anything wrong, dammit! The capo seemed unwilling to step in, obviously enjoying the show, the damn sadist.

Three hours passed agonizingly slow.

Mista had switched with Abbacchio and Bucciarati set the turtle in his lap while he took the passenger seat. Mista said to get them after a few more hours and by then, they’d have figured out who would go next before disappearing into Coco Jumbo.

He was greeted by a wide array of sunshine yellow, rosey red, pale violet, and vivid white flowers scattered everywhere inside.

Four heads looked up at the newcomer and Mista forced his jaw shut as he coughed awkwardly.

“Do I wanna know?”

“We’re playing with the flowers!” Narancia yelled excitedly and only then did he notice that the brunet was adorned with a long chain of daisies around his neck and some purple flower nestled in his hair in place of his bandana.

As Fugo tried to wrestle it off Narancia’s head, insisting that the boy show him how he managed to do it - Mista noticed the circle of failed chains around Fugo - Trish looked up at Mista and held out a bundle of fluffy white stems.

“Here. You try,” she said as she passed them off to him. “We pooled our five hundred lire coins and had Giorno make them into a bunch of flowers.”

Mista took the flowers gently since they looked way too delicate for a guy like him to be holding and examined the floor for a good way to get to the blond without stepping on the pretty mess they had made in the turtle.

It took some cautious steps and he had to brush some of the blossoms out of the way with his foot, but eventually he made it to where Giorno was sitting in front of the couch, holding a group of bright yellow sunflowers as he worked carefully.

He looked up as Mista finally managed to plop down beside him and offered a small smile, his color looking way better than it had been the entire day. Apparently all they needed to do to cheer him up was surround him with flowers. Mista was sure to take note of that for the future.

“Hey,” he said warmly.

“Hey,” Giorno answered softly as he turned his green gaze back to the flowers. “I see you didn’t wreck the car.”

“Wasn’t even trying,” he scoffed with a wave of his hand before turning his attention to the flowers. “Didn’t know you could do that.”

“It wasn’t very hard. Coins are nothing compared to living people.”

“Nah, I meant the chains,” Mista clarified. “Of course you can handle the coins, you’re like the strongest guy I know. I didn’t know you could do that with the flowers. Mind telling me how you learned?”

Giorno grinned at Mista’s compliment as he focused on adding the last few sunflowers. “There wasn’t much to do when I was young so I often went out by myself. There was a flower field I knew of outside the city that I liked to visit. I met a nonna there one day when I was crying and she made a crown of daisies for me. I thought it was magic, that she had enchanted fingers.”

“Sounds like you were a cute kid,” Mista said, nudging Giorno as he leaned in to whisper, “Thought I think you’re just as cute now.”

“Enough with that,” Giorno groaned but his cheeks flushed pink despite his complaints. “Anyways, I met her a few times after that and she slowly taught me. I gave her the first one I ever made, and even though it was a complete mess, she looked so happy. It made me wish she was my real nonna.”

“I’m sure she thought the same thing,” Mista murmured, squeezing Giorno’s knee when the blond’s expression turned downcast. Giorno glanced at him with a fleeting smile before turning back to his project.

“I helped Narancia show Trish and Fugo how. Apparently his mother taught him when he was little and he never forgot.”

“Sounds like Nara. My sister knows how, she tried to show me a while back but I was horrible at it. Maybe I’d do a little better now though.” He flashed a grin at Giorno. “You gonna teach me how, oh wise master?”

Giorno rolled his eyes but held up his chain of sunflowers all the same and pointed at the stem of the newest addition to the chain. “See the little slit there? You use your fingernails to poke the hole in it, try to get it as much in the center as possible. Then all you need to do is thread the next flower stem through the hole. It’s fairly easy but I suppose it does take a few tries to get the hang of it.”

“Gotcha. Doesn’t seem as hard as I thought. My sis made it sound harder than that.”

“Maybe she was talking about a garland,” Giorno suggested. “Those are more complex. There we go, all done.”

Mista looked over to see Giorno holding up the crown of golden flowers, smiling warmly at him through the center of the crown.

“Damn, you did a great job,” Mista said approvingly, admiring the neatness of the chain and the way all the flowers pointed outwards with their bright yellow petals on full display. “Might blend in with your hair a little though,” he teased.

Giorno shook his head. “This isn’t for me,” he said quietly. “Nonna always told me that the best part of making a flower crown was giving it to someone you care about and so I never made one for myself. Only for her. I tried giving one to my mother once but… she wasn’t very happy about me bringing something so dirty into the house. I haven’t made one since then.”

Mista resisted the urge to insult Giorno’s mom. The guy had made it very clear at this point what he thought of her and even though Giorno didn’t like her, he knew insulting her might just make Giorno feel bad instead.

“It doesn’t matter though,” Giorno said with a wave of his hand. “I thought I wouldn’t remember how but it looks like I never forgot after all. So since we decided to make them, I thought I’d use it as a chance to express my gratitude. Do you know what sunflowers mean, Mista?”

“Mean? Like symbolism or whatever?” When Giorno nodded, Mista just shrugged helplessly. He never really cared about stuff like that.

“There’s lots of different things they can represent, but I made it so that the flowers are all pointing outwards and slightly up, as if blooming towards the sun like their namesake. That quality gives them a meaning of strength, of reaching towards the light despite life’s hardships.”

He knew it was kinda silly, but Mista had been hoping that the crown would be for him but after hearing that, it was painfully obvious who it was really for.

“Sounds really important,” he said, trying to keep from sounding like he was sulking as he looked back down at the white flowers in his lap to go back to making the chain. “Bucciarati’ll like it a whole lot.”

“Mista.”

Mista ignored him as he lifted up one of the clumps of white flowers, looking at the stem carefully as he tried to poke a hole through it. He heard a sigh to his left and the rustling of fabric as Giorno moved around, probably to go give it to the capo and then he felt something fall on his head.

He looked up to yell at Narancia or Fugo or whoever threw flowers at him but then he saw Giorno kneeling beside him with his hands outstretched and Mista reached up to feel what it was.

Soft petals and braided steam brushed his fingertips and he jerked his head up to stare at Giorno incredulously.

“Bucciarati was a good guess,” Giorno said softly. “I owe him many things and I respect and admire him far more than I could ever hope to explain. But he isn’t the one who has been my source of strength so far, Mista.”

When Mista didn’t say anything, Giorno continued, a teasing grin stretching across his pretty features.

“You see, there’s this guy who decided to believe in me back before anyone else did, back before Bucciarati even truly trusted me. A guy who backed up my rash suggestion despite no one else doing so and then even wound up hurt because of it, yet he never wavered once. The same guy who talked me down one night when my anxiety was getting the better of me, who stayed by my side, who fought with me despite the chance of death, who never once left me alone even when I was hurting.”

“Sounds like a real loyal dude,” Mista rasped.

“Indeed,” Giorno grinned. “He even ran back into a burning building for me. Quite impressive, don’t you think?”

“Sounds stupid.”

“Really? I think it was very brave.”

Mista groaned as he covered his burning face with his hands, peeking out through the gaps in his fingers as he conceded, “Alright, you win. How the hell do you say all that with a straight face?”

“I wasn’t sure there was anything straight about it.”

He was about to respond when Mista realized what Giorno was referring to and damn if that wasn’t the best and worst thing he’d heard his whole life. Fuck, he’d been confused ever since he met Giorno, what was so bad about just staying that way?

“Just fuck already!”

Narancia’s loud jest caught both of their attention and the pair pulled apart, Mista yanking backwards as his face flushed. When the hell had their faces gotten so close together?

“You should have some tact,” Fugo was saying to Narancia, wagging his finger as he added, “Tell them to get a room instead.”

“You boys have no idea what subtlety means,” Trish interjected. “It’s much better to tell them to add it to their to-do list.”

“I hate all of you,” Mista stated with a roll of his eyes, grabbing the bundle of flowers in his lap and chucking them at the others, who burst into laughter.

“Baby’s breath,” Fugo said as he chuckled, lifting one of the white clumps up. “Means everlasting love.”

“Aw, I love you too Mista!” Narancia crooned, hands clasped under his chin as he made a kissy face at the gunsman.

“Did you not hear what I just said?” Mista frowned as he darted forwards to start picking up the flowers he just chucked. “Give ‘em back, they ain’t for any ‘a you. Not a single damn one. How do I say ‘fuck you’,’ huh? What flower says that?”

They just laughed harder and even Giorno grinned at that and damn, well, Mista couldn’t really stay pissed if his plight got Giorno to smile. Just looking at him felt like Mista’s negative emotions would drain right out of him.

Ignoring the others, Mista settled back into his spot with the cluster of flowers in his lap. Most of the stems had gotten bent and some of the flowers had broken off so he rifled through the pile until he found one stalk that looked near perfect. After a moment of hesitation, he reached out to tuck the baby’s breath behind Giorno’s ear, stark white against his golden hair.

Mista grinned.

“Not as good as a crown but it’ll do.”

Chapter Text

Arriving at Costa Smeralda was both exhilarating and terrifying.

It was their destination, their goal, they were finally going to find out who the Boss was… but Mista had a feeling it wouldn’t be that easy. It never was.

The others seemed to be feeling the same way, considering the argument they’d had just about who would scope out the area and who would stay in the turtle.

“I told you I should get to go too!” Fugo was yelling furiously, jabbing his finger at Narancia as he cried, “Do you really think this idiot is gonna be able to watch his own back?! Aerosmith can’t do two things at once!”

“Fugo, I have said many times that Abbacchio and I are more than enough to handle it,” Bucciarati answered calmly. They both seemed to be ignoring Narancia’s screeching about how he’d be perfectly fine on his own, which really was the best choice because the idiot had no self-preservation instinct. Still, Mista was surprised Bucciarati wasn’t giving in.

“And see, that’s why I’ll go and I’ll look after him and everything’ll be-”

“No, Mista. You aren’t coming either.”

Apparently, Bucciarati wasn’t listening to him either.

“But just the three of you going is stupid! There’s seven of us, surely-”

“That’s exactly why you four need to stay in the turtle. It wouldn’t do any good for all of us to walk into a trap unprepared; some of you must hang back. Abbacchio has to go; his Moody Blues is the only thing that can uncover the Boss’s identity. Narancia has the best reconnaissance stand out of all of us, so he’s going as well.”

“Then why must you go?” Giorno questioned, and something about his tone made it sound like he knew something Mista didn’t. “Bucciarati, you are indispensable to all of us, you of all people should know that we want you to stay-”

“And that’s exactly why I will not,” the capo interrupted. “You are all under my command, in danger because of a decision I made. After what happened to Fugo when he tried to leave, I have entertained no illusions that you all had a choice in the matter. This is because of me and I will not allow any of you to walk into danger when it’s not necessary.”

“Bucciarati, that’s-”

“Enough. There will be no more debate; the decision has been made.”

Mista frowned but really, there was no arguing with the guy when he sounded like that. That tone was only reserved for when he was obviously upset and Mista actually felt sorta guilty that they’d made the guy use it.

Judging by the looks on the other’s faces, they shared similar sentiments.

Bucciarati and Abbacchio had retreated to the far end of the room, whispering in hushed voices that Mista couldn’t make out in the slightest, but Abbacchio looked worried and suddenly, Mista didn’t really want to know what they were saying. He turned his attention elsewhere.

Fugo was scowling something fierce but had turned his attention to Narancia, muttering quietly what were probably instructions and endless concerns that he had about the whole thing. To his credit, Narancia was just nodding along furiously as though his life depended on it- which, Mista realized, it very well might.

After all, they had no idea what was waiting for them out there.

Trish had remained silent during the discussion, the only one who obviously wasn’t going to be allowed to accompany them, but Mista was pretty damn sure she still wanted to go anyways. Her fingernails were digging into the chair she was perched in, the wooden fibers bending beneath her Stand’s power the only sign that she was more worked up than she let on.

Giorno was beside Mista on the couch, head in his hands with his eyes closed as he thought and Mista had to resist the urge to reach out and rub the boy’s back. The blond looked like he might blow a fuse any second from thinking too hard. He decided to just scoot over a bit, pressing his arm up against Giorno’s with only a moment’s hesitation. He felt the boy’s arm tense at the touch but he didn’t pull away; in fact, it seemed almost like he was leaning into it.

This was all Mista could do for now, but hopefully it would be enough.

“Alright,” Bucciarati announced a few minutes later, after he’d finished whatever he’d been talking to Abbacchio about. “The three of us will be going to scope out the area first. We’ll call you out if we need you. Otherwise, you are not to act unless in danger. Is that understood?”

The capo waited until he heard vocalized agreements from his subordinates before seeming to deflate a bit.

“I understand your fears,” he said softly. “And I know why you want to come. There is strength in numbers. However, in this case, you must simply wait here and believe in our strength. We can’t put all of us at risk.”

“We understand, Bucciarati,” Fugo replied. “We just don’t like it. That’s all.”

Bucciarati smiled gently at the blond boy, reaching out to rest a hand on his shoulder. “You’re in charge for now, Fugo. I trust you.”

Fugo’s chest puffed out with pride at the capo’s words, nodding his head firmly in response. Mista wouldn’t have been surprised if he gave a damn salute.

“Bucciarati.”

Giorno’s voice was so soft, Mista wondered if the capo would even hear it, but the man looked over all the same.

“Be careful. Please.”

The expression Bucciarati wore was like a parent consoling their child, so warm and soft, that Mista had a hard time remembering that Bucciarati was just their capo and not their mom. He gave Giorno a simple nod of the head but Mista could already feel tension leaving the blond from where their arms were touching.

And then the three disappeared from the turtle, leaving the four remaining in silence.


It felt like hours before anything happened, even though it was probably just a few minutes.

They had all sat in silence, the other three quietly brooding, and Mista wondered if that was just a teen thing. Even though he didn’t really remember ever having that phase himself, but there wasn’t much time for phases when you were living day to day, he supposed.

When Aerosmith had finally flown over the gem in the turtle, Mista had been thinking about the logistics of tension quite literally causing an explosion.

The sound of the Stand firing overheard drew their attention and Mista counted out one, two, three shots.

The signal to move.

He shared quick glances with Fugo and Giorno before the three stood.

“Stay in the turtle, Trish,” Fugo instructed. “You two, let’s go.”

The turtle let them out next to the car where they’d pulled over on the side of the road, a few hundred meters from the target statue. The rocky cliffline was to their left, the ocean to the right, and their destination ahead.

Giorno and Fugo immediately took off down the road but Mista hung back, eyeing the turtle for a split second before bending down to scoop it up and rush after his friends. Worst case scenario, Coco Jumbo was left behind and got taken away or run over or worse. Best case, they’d have to go back to the car anyways. Better safe than sorry.

The three of them rushed down the street, Mista holding onto Coco Jumbo tightly as he followed Giorno and Fugo. A minute later and the scene of the beach rose up over the barrier along the edge of the road.

“That must be it!” Mista said as he recognized the statue, Abbacchio standing next to it with Moody Blues a meter in front. He frowned in confusion when he noticed the clear absence. “Hey, where are Narancia and Bucciarati? I only see Abbacchio on the beach.”

Giorno nodded, hand rubbing under his chin as he said, “An enemy must’ve appeared.” Mista watched him pull out the binoculars from his belt and pass them off to Fugo as he added, “They’re probably pursuing the enemy.”

“It seems Abbacchio hasn’t started his replay yet,” Fugo added, adjusting one of the lenses as he focused the gaze on their teammate.

“Trish remembered that the photo was taken fifteen years ago in June,” Giorno mused aloud, and Mista was glad because he was kind of confused about what was taking so long. “but she doesn’t know the exact date. Moody Blues is searching with a timer for the exact time. And when it figures that out…”

“It’ll be able to change into the Boss,” Mista realized.

“Let’s go-”

“Wait,” Fugo ordered, freezing both Giorno and Mista in their tracks. “If we follow the road, we don’t know when we’ll come to a staircase or a path down to the beach. It might be much further than we think.”

“So what now?” Giorno questioned.

“That’s just the thing,” Fugo said. “I’m not sure. I’d say we scale the cliff face but we have neither the gear nor the time to do such a thing. Not to mention I’m not all that keen on letting you try to do something that physically demanding yet, Giorno.”

Giorno looked ready to protest but Mista quickly shot his arm to placate him as he said, “Fugo’s right. You passed out, dude.” When it looked like he still wanted to argue, Mista lowered his voice as he murmured, “Please. Don’t worry me like that again.”

Giorno stared at him for a few seconds with those piercing green eyes before sighing and stepping back. “Fine. Then what do you suggest we do?”

Fugo had his hand under his chin, eyes fixed on a point on the ground with that vacant stare he always got when he was thinking hard about something. Then a flash of realization flickered across his feature and he looked up.

Fugo shot both of them a guilty look before saying, “Much as I hate to ask this of you, Giorno, do you think Gold Experience would be able to turn some of the rocks on the cliff face into something that functions as a ladder down to the beach?”

“Hmm… I believe I’ve actually done something like that before,” Giorno considered as he walked over to the edge of the road and stepped over the barrier to examine the rocky edge. “I think I can manage that just fine.”

“Perfect. Mista, you’ll go with Giorno, okay? Leave Coco Jumbo with me and I’ll go meet up with Bucciarati and Narancia, inform them of the situation.”

“Got it. Stay safe, dude.” Fugo nodded at Mista’s words before taking off down the street, the sounds of his feet slapping against the concrete echoing until he was out of earshot just a few seconds later.

The sound of warping drew Mista’s attention and he found that Giorno was already in the process of growing thick vines out of the stone surface, Gold Experience floating by his side with its arms resting on the ground.

“Careful,” Mista murmured as he clambered over the barrier to join Giorno, resting a hand on the blond’s shoulder. “I know you’re tough ‘n all, but remember what happened when you did too much last time.”

“I was simply tired,” Giorno deflected. “I hadn’t rested well and the end of that day was very strenuous. It’s not something that would normally happen.”

“Yeah, well, we aren’t really out of strenuous stuff yet, so. Just humor me, yeah?”

Giorno didn’t answer but he did flash Mista a quick smile before turning his attention back to the plants and Mista knew that was the best he was gonna get. It was fascinating to watch the plants spring out of nothing, thick green stalks growing up to meet them with large, heavy leaves sprouting out.

“That should be good,” Giorno said, Gold Experience disappearing as the blond straightened up to eye the cliff face. “I’ll go first and-”

“Oh no,” Mista cut in. “I’ll go first. And before you argue, we both know it’s safer if I go first. I don’t give a shit that you’re ‘fine now,’ you agreed to humor me, so you’re gonna, got that?”

Giorno frowned and crossed his arms over his chest but didn’t protest and Mista nodded firmly.

“Good. Wait until I’m on the ground before you come down.”

And with that, he grabbed the top of the vines, latching onto the strong leaves as he carefully lowered himself downwards. It wasn’t that far, maybe ten meters or so, but it was far enough that it would damn well hurt if they fell. Giorno’s makeshift ladder was, however, even stronger than it looked. As Mista used the braided loops on the vines and the leaves as rungs, he found himself growing more confident when the plants didn’t even shift under his weight.

A minute later and he was on the beach, feet pressed firmly against the sand as he looked up to wave Giorno down, stepping back to get into position to catch the blond in case he fell.

Despite his worries, Giorno moved with an easy grace down the vines as if he was walking down a staircase or something. It took him less than half the time it took Mista to reach the beach and when he landed beside the gunsman, he offered a small smirk that Mista knew was aimed at his over-worrying.

“Don’t even start,” he grumbled, pushing Giorno lightly as the blond chuckled softly.

“Come on,” Giono said. “Let’s go.”

Now that they were on the beach, it was far quicker to just run towards where they knew Abbacchio would be. The only awkward thing were the tourists who were scattered across the sandy beach, and Mista knew he and Giorno probably looked pretty out of place, wearing a suit and sweater to the beach.

“There he is,” Mista pointed out, gesturing to a dark figure near the statue. “He’s the only guy who’d wear all black to the ocean.”

Giorno grinned and opened his mouth to say something before stopping in his tracks.

Abbacchio was around fifty meters or so in front of them when they saw a group of kids run over near the man, pointing at something in a tree growing out of a cliff nearby. They watched as the man approached the group, reaching up to knock what looked like a ball out of the tree. And then the kids ran off and Abbacchio turned back towards the statue and-

-and slumped over as something began to stain the rocks behind him that he’d fallen onto.

Mista was moving before he had even processed what he’d just seen, Giorno hot on his heels as they both ran like they’d never run before, clearing the gap between them and the man in less than ten seconds.

As they grew closer, Mista felt his heart plummet.

It was worse than he could’ve ever imagined. Blood was pouring out onto the rocks and oozing into the sand, dying it a vivid red as their teammate struggled to breathe, gurgling sounds coming out of the back of his throat with a vacant look in his eyes that was rapidly fading.

“No, no, no, no, no,” Mista moaned, jerking up from where his eyes were fixed on the scene to look around frantically for the culprit. They had to be nearby, one of those kids maybe, he had to find them, had to chase them down and get revenge and-

“Mista!”

Giorno’s urgent cry was the only thing that stopped him from running off and he slowly turned back. The blond was crouched next to Abbacchio, knees in the blood-red sand with Gold Experience’s arms over his own as he frantically tried to mend the gaping wound in their teammate.

God. So much blood and- and ripped muscles and fuck, that was Abbacchio’s lung that was punched clean through and Mista could see his ribs and the white of his spine and this was something he’d never be able to forget.

“Mista. Listen to me.” The quaver in Giorno’s voice was the only thing grounding Mista right now and he forced himself to look at the blond and not at- at what was basically a corpse by now. “I need you to begin CPR the second I tell you so. Can you do that?”

When Mista didn’t respond, Giorno added as his pitch raised, “Mista. I need your help.”

Mista bit his lip, blinking back the tears welling in his eyes as he nodded jerkily before staggering over to kneel down on the opposite side of their fallen comrade. God, he didn’t wanna see this. He didn’t wanna look but- but if Giorno could do it, so he could he. He needed to.

He looked up, brown eyes dark and hollow as he watched his friend repair the lung that had been punched through entirely and wondered if they could really save him at all.

“Won’t it-” Mista cleared his throat when his voice came out ragged. “-won’t it make it worse? Th-the chest compressions?”

Giorno shook his head. “There’s so much blunt force trauma already, I- I’m not sure anything could be worse than this. We have to get him breathing again once his lung is repaired, it’s our only chance, Mista.”

Mista nodded, eyes fixed as the pink lung tissue knit itself back together with the rocks and sand Giorno was using in place of real flesh.

He watched the last tiny hole fill itself in as Giorno uttered, “Now, Mista!”

Mista couldn’t remember the last time he’d had to do CPR but he remembered Fugo showing him how when he joined the gang, telling him that it was a necessary skill in their line of work and how it was more important to be forceful than careful. Broken ribs could heal; dead tissue from lack of oxygen could not.

He desperately racked his brain as he began compressions, lacing his fingers together as he pushed down as hard as he could atop Abbacchio’s sternum. One, two, three… how many was it again? Twenty? Thirty? Something like that, he figured the exact number wasn’t as important as doing it accurately. Mista moved quickly, rapidly repeating the chest compressions despite the grotesque noises coming from the hole just a centimeter or two from his hands. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see blood spurting out each time he pressed down and he hoped that that was a good sign.

He decided to stop at thirty, thinking it better to do too many rather than too little, and moved towards Abbacchio’s head. Under normal circumstances, Mista wouldn’t dream of putting his lips anywhere near Abbacchio’s, but this wasn’t a normal circumstance. Right now, he didn’t care at all.

Mista lifted Abbacchio’s chin up, pinched his nose, and bent down to breathe two full breaths into Abbacchio’s open mouth, ignoring the sickening taste of blood and the slippery wetness of his lips and chin.

He moved back to continue compressions, to repeat the process as many times as he needed to, and that was when he heard voices. Familiar voices.

Narancia’s cry of anguish reached them first and Mista noticed the way Giorno flinched at the sound, such an agonizingly distressed shriek. Fugo’s voice followed, likely trying to subdue Narancia despite the obvious fear in his own words. Bucciarati was the only one who was silent and Mista didn’t even want to look at the capo’s face, terrified of the expression it would hold.

“Abbacchio!” Narancia wailed, Mista looking up in time to see Fugo wrench the brunet back so he wouldn’t disrupt Mista and Giorno, and he regretted it the instant he saw the way tears were streaming down his friend’s face.

Fugo himself didn’t look much better; he wasn’t crying but that look of distress was something Mista had never seen on his face before in his entire year and a half of knowing the guy. He was talking to Narancia but Mista couldn’t hear anything he was saying, his body just automatically moving at this point.

That was thirty and he moved back to Abbacchio’s head again, catching a glimpse of Bucciarati as he did so. The distant look in his eyes sent chills down Mista’s spine and he forced himself to look away, look anywhere but at the capo, but that meant he saw the glazed-over look in Abbacchio’s eyes and that was even worse.

Mista felt like he was gonna puke.

“-doing everything I can,” Giorno was saying as Mista pulled back from administering the rescue breaths. “But I don’t- it isn’t looking good.”

Giorno’s voice was agony to listen to, barely audible over Narancia’s sobbing echoing out from where he’d buried his face in Fugo’s chest.

Bucciarati was nodding, approaching them painfully slowly as if he didn’t quite know how to react or what to do.

“Do all you can,” the capo rasped, kneeling down next to Giorno with his blue eyes fixated on Abbacchio’s vacant stare. Mista saw him reach out with a shaky tremor to grasp his partner’s hand, holding it as tight as the capo could muster.

Mista went to give the breaths again and as he did so, he heard Bucciarati’s voice, agonizingly broken, whisper, “Please, Leone. Don’t leave me.”

Chapter Text

Abbacchio opened his eyes to a set table on a shaded patio with tan tiles beneath his feet and a wooded canopy above his head with what looked like grape vines dripping off the sides next to hanging potted plants.

There was a meal laid out before him, a plate of spaghetti caprese and a charcuterie platter with prosciutto and salame in front of him, a bottle of red wine to the side. A full wine glass glistened before him in the sunlight as he reached for it, fingers closing around the cold glass that he brought it to his lips. Soft and sweet, the taste of plum, a smoky quality, and the dark red color, Abbacchio knew this wine. Piedirosso from Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio. One of his favorite reds.

The taste washed over him, a strange soothing quality to the flavor that, oddly enough, put him in a state of unease. Why… Why did he feel soothed? There was something he was missing…

He looked around him with a watchful eye. The peaceful scene of a city street was what met his gaze but there were no other people to be found, just the silent storefronts of the white-washed buildings across from him and the gray street. In fact, everything seemed to be sort of dark, a strange washed-out tint to whatever he looked at. The sky was bright but light gray and something told Abbacchio that it was supposed to be blue.

A vehicle caught his eye; an orange bus across the street about half a block behind him with darkened windows that sat ominously still. Before he could think about it any further, the sound of clinking met his ears, the first thing he’d heard aside from silence since he’d opened his eyes. There was nothing on the street though, and when he focused, Abbacchio could swear it was… coming from beneath him?

He hesitated for a moment before cautiously scooting his chair back to peer beneath the tablecloth, lifting it out of the way with the back of his hand. A man was knelt under the table across from him, brown hair poking out from under a familiar navy blue cap that Abbacchio recognized as part of a police uniform.

The man was holding what appeared to be a piece of glass in one of his white-gloved hands and a metal tool in the other.

“Uh…” Abbacchio paused for a moment before deciding to just act anyways. He wasn’t known for his tact or beating around the bush, after all. “What are you doing under there, officer?”

The poliziotto seemed to move at Abbacchio’s voice before glancing at the white-haired man, face obscured from the dark shadow cast by his cap under the table.

“Sorry to bother you while you’re eating,” he said sheepishly, as if slightly embarrassed he was caught on his knees on the ground. “I’m conducting an investigation. I’m looking for fingerprints.”

Abbacchio’s brow furrowed, not really having expected an answer due to the polizio code of privacy but he was glad to know all the same. His curiosity wasn’t a trait he had managed to shake off from his old polizio days and that habit of always needing answers was both a blessing and a curse.

He pushed his chair out to kneel on the ground, moving the tablecloth back further to get a better look at what the poliziotto was doing as the officer continued to speak, his attention focused on a dark green bin in front of him.

“There was a robbery across the street last night,” the man was explaining. “The victim was struck with a bottle. It shattered, and shards went everywhere. But all the shards weren’t on the sidewalk.”

He glanced back at Abbacchio, as if thinking about something before adding, “Particularly the part that was being held. We heard that the suspect threw something away here, so I thought I might find something in this recycling bin. I should be able to get some fingerprints. That’s the part I’m looking for.”

Abbacchio’s gaze shifted to the contents of the bin and a grimace crossed his features as he saw the large amount of broken glass and metal cans in the recycling bin. “You’re going to look through all that?” he asked incredulously.

“Well, it’s my job,” the poliziotto replied simply as he went back to examining the piece of glass caught within his tweezers.

“I see,” Abbacchio acknowledged, moving his hand from the tablecloth as he turned to stare at the street before him. That ease of response, as if it was truly that simple, sent a ripple of painful familiarity through him. “Yeah…” he muttered, half to himself as he remembered the days when he too was that straightforward of a man. When doing his duty simply because it was was all he had to do.

He saw the poliziotto set the piece of glass down out of the corner of his eye, lifting up another piece and raising the magnifying glass to examine the next one, methodical and slow and so painstakingly effortless.

“Uh…” The word was out before he could stop himself and Abbacchio could tell by the way the man’s head tilted towards him that he was listening. Screw it, there was no point in keeping mum now. Maybe… maybe if he could talk to this man… Would that help this feeling of uneasy familiarity?

“Say, uh…”

The poliziotto pulled back to shift towards him, staring at Abbacchio as he asked, “Yes?”

“For reference…” Abbacchio trailed off, deciding to add, “I’m just curious,” to make it clear the officer didn’t need to reply. He didn’t want to disturb polizio business, despite wanting to meddle anyway. He pushed back the tablecloth to look the man in the eyes - or at least try to since it was still too dark to see his face clearly beneath the table.

He held out one hand in question as he asked, “What are you going to do if you don’t find the shards? You might not get any fingerprints.” Well… that wasn’t really what was on his mind though. And for some reason, he felt like, if it was this man…

“No…” Abbacchio decided to clarify. “Even worse, if you do find them, and the suspect hires a crafty lawyer and is found not guilty…” He trailed off, remembering the criminal that paid him off, the trial, how that asshole had used the money he’d made as a pimp to get off scot free… how his partner’s death had been ruled an accident, despite losing his job, his friend, his purpose, it was all a simple accident!

He had nearly lost his mind because of it. If it hadn’t been for… Abbacchio shook his head, looking back at the poliziotto.

“What makes you keep working so hard despite all those problems?”

“Well…” the officer trailed off, a strange expression crossing his lips as he explained, “I’m not just after the result.” He shifted, moving back from the recycling bin to edge towards the end of the table, a gentle eye revealed in the light of the gray sun above them.

“When all you want is the result, you start to look for shortcuts.”

That shot through Abbacchio like a bullet to the gut and he almost crumpled in on himself. This poliziotto, this man, did he know? No, no, he couldn’t possibly, Abbacchio had left that far behind him but…

“And if you take that shortcut, you might lose sight of the truth,” the officer continued, his visible eye fixed directly on Abbacchio as every word he said ripped through the white-haired man. “You’ll become less motivated. I think the most important thing is the will to find the truth. As long as you have that, even if the suspect gets away this time, you’ll get them eventually, right? Because that’s what you’re after. Don’t you think so?”

Abbaccho couldn’t help but bite back the noise rising in the back of his throat, coming out more as a strange grunt that was both a laugh and a sob.

“I envy you,” he murmured, violet eyes fixed at a point on the tiled ground as he got to his feet, pushing himself out from under the table to stand beside it. “I used to think I wanted to become a police officer.”

Abbacchio took a few steps towards the edge of the canopied shopfront as he said, “Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to become a distinguished police officer.” The poliziotto got out from under his own table as well, staring at Abbacchio as the man continued, “At some point, I even had the same will you have. But I messed up.”

Part of him just wanted to stop there, didn’t want to recall all his mistakes and all his flaws that ate away at him every single day from the inside out. The guilt that would never fade as long as he lived.

“You see,” Abbacchio murmured bitterly. “People like me are worthless. We never see things to the end.” Was that ever going to change? Despite all his efforts, nothing ever seemed to go the way he wanted and he only seemed to make things worse and what else could he do to fix things? To fix himself?

He already knew the answer.

Nothing.

“We always mess up somewhere along the way.”

A firm voice uttering, “That’s not true, Abbacchio,” cut through the racing thoughts in his mind and Abbacchio couldn’t help but jerk his head over to stare at the officer in shock. His name? How did this man know his name?

“You’re doing great,” he continued despite Abbachio’s confusion. “We have the same will.”

Why? Why did that ‘we’ sound so familiar, why did it sound like an old friend from times long lost to him, like a schoolmate on the playground throwing out a ‘we’ so casually, like a lover talking about the future in ‘we’ and ‘us.’

“That will you had when you first became a police officer resides within your heart again now…” The man looked up, his muted greenish-blue eyes gentle and kind as he murmured, “Abbacchio.”

“Why… do you know my name?” Abbacchio squinted, trying to place that face, those weathered smile lines and warm eyes and curly brown hair. The poliziotto just chuckled, a soft sound full of nothing but the gentlest kindness possible.

“Come to think of it…” Abbacchio staggered backwards, memories burgeoning at the edge of his brain as his hands clenched tightly. “I think we’ve met before.”

He- he can’t. He can’t stay here any longer, a feeling of concern, of fear and urgency washed through him as he backed away a step, eyes shifting to that bus, that familiar orange that he felt like he’d known before.

As he stepped towards it, feet faltering as his mind began to attempt to work over everything he was supposed to know that was rushing in faster than he could process it, the officer said gently, “Where are you going, Abbacchio?”

Abbacchio jerked his hand out, pointing fiercely at the orange bus as he snapped, “I’m getting on that bus!” When he looked back at the poliziotto, things started to come together as memories flooded his senses to the point of nausea.

“I’m starting to remember…”

The second he uttered those words, everything came back.

Those despondent days drinking himself to death, joining Passione, meeting the others, that annoying newcomer, their mission, the new mission, the Boss, Trish, replaying that photograph, Narancia leaving him at the beach as he left with - Bucciarati.

Bucciarati.

He had to get back.

“That’s right! I have to go!” Abbacchio cried desperately, staggering towards the bus as he made sense of the rest of the things in his mind. His steps grew firmer and more determined with each one and soon he was rushing towards it.

“I need to get back to my comrades!”

He was just a few steps from the bus when that voice spoke up again.

“Did you forget, Abbacchio?” He stiffened at that sentence, something ice cold running down his spine. “You came here on that bus. This is the last stop.”

Abbacchio stopped. He drew in a sharp breath, preparing for whatever he’s going to face when he turns around because he can feel it, that the last piece will come together when he turns around and sees-

That kind face that never once stopped believing in him.

“Y-You’re…” he stammered out, voice choking as the officer’s eyes soften in recognition and affection. “That’s right! You’re…” Abbacchio couldn’t help it; he had to stop, had to take a moment, just a single second before he admitted it to the officer. To himself.

“You’re the one who died because I took that bribe…”

His partner just smiled kindly at him, that same expression he wore the day Abbacchio had confessed to him how scared he felt of the apathy that filled him when he thought of his job. How he wondered if he could really protect anyone at all, if this city and this country were even worth it in the end. And his partner hadn’t said a word but had held him in a firm embrace and Abbacchio had wondered if maybe that was what love felt like.

“Abbacchio, you did very well.”

Don’t. Don’t say that with that voice, with that warm tone that sounded like he could do no wrong, with that same voice that had died choking out his name on the blood welling in the back of his throat from the gun wound Abbacchio might as well have inflicted on his partner himself.

He couldn’t help it.

Abbacchio never cried, not since that day, not for anything, but he couldn’t stop himself.

As he bit back a sob, tears streaming down his cheeks, he heard his partner utter, “That’s right… So well that I can say I’m proud of you.”

“Don’t…” he whispered, arms tightening around himself as he tore his gaze away from the brunet. “Don’t lie to me… not looking like that.”

“Abbacchio…”

He felt a touch against his shoulder and he looked up to see his partner standing beside him and it was like the grayscale world Abbacchio was trapped in washed away. The faded brown hair became that chestnut color that was so perfect against his tan skin, the vivid teal eyes that would crinkle with each smile and show each emotion with startling clarity.

“I would never lie to you,” he said gently, hand squeezing Abbacchio’s shoulder. “You know how I feel about dishonest people.”

It was true; Abbacchio remembered a patrol they did together when a boy, no older than fourteen or so, had been caught passing out cigarettes to children that appeared no more than half his age. He’d tried to write them off as candy sticks and Abbacchio’s partner had spent just as long lecturing the boy on living an honest life than on dealing cigs to youths.

“Then what about me?” Abbacchio rasped, staring at his former partner despondently as the lies that piled atop one after the other during his time as a poliziotto formed a wall in his mind between his hopes and his expectations.

“You know that as well,” the man murmured.

Abbacchio couldn’t face him any longer when he said that; those small moments during patrols when they would talk about what they wanted out of the future, of a small cottage in the countryside of Piemonte growing grape vines, when they’d share a glass of Piedirosso to go with their spaghetti caprese during lunch break at their favorite cafe, when Abbacchio would laugh a little too loud at his partner’s joke and his partner would only smile wider.

At some point, the title of partner had begun to take on a different meaning for them.

And Abbacchio had only realized it after the man was gone.

But now he was here, standing right next to Abbacchio and suddenly, all the things he’d given up years ago seemed tangible again and if he reached out, if he just took the man’s hand, could he have all that again?

Probably, he thought to himself. Probably, but…

There was so much he hadn’t done, Abbacchio realized. So much to regret if he chose to stay here. He would never get to yell at those idiots for stealing his wine or waking him from a delirious hangover or just bully them in general for being so damn irritating even though he secretly enjoyed each and every second with them all. He’d never hear Fugo and Narancia’s far too violent arguing over the stupidest topics he’d ever heard of, or how Mista would try to stop them but inevitably get involved and take sides and then things would devolve further until someone got hurt. How they’d all mutter soft apologies and even though they’d be scowling the entire time, the warmth in their eyes would be clear and it was obvious that they’d mean it and Abbachcio would wonder if this was what raising kids was like. He would never get to bitch at Giorno again and damn, he still had so much to say to that prick, he couldn’t just up and leave like that without giving that guy one final piece of his mind.

And then there was Bucciarati and… and everything else just seemed to fall away when Abbacchio thought of him.

It was all too easy to step away from his partner, to pull out of the man’s gentle grip and take another step towards that bus.

Everything he could’ve had with his partner was just that: a ‘could’ of a future that would never happen, and when Abbacchio finally gave a moment to just consider it… a future he didn’t really want anymore.

There was only one person he wanted right now, and that man wasn’t here.

“I… I have to go,” he whispered, voice cracking on the last word as he stared at his former partner in heartbreak.

The poliziotto looked startled for a split second before his features dissolved into the one expression Abbacchio had always wished for ever since that day.

Forgiveness.

“You’d better hurry then,” his partner said warmly. “That bus is only supposed to go one way, but… you might be able to catch it, after all.”

Abbacchio nodded sharply, eyes turning to that orange bus that seemed to be running all of a sudden, exhaust coming from the pipe in the back and an elderly man leaning out of the entrance, face obscured in the now-vivid sunlight.

Waiting. For him.

Abbacchio swallowed thickly, backing towards the door as he heard the driver shout something unintelligible but he only had eyes for his partner.

The man was smiling at him with nothing but the softest affection Abbacchio had ever known when they’d first met, and yet it was lacking all the same. There was no passion, no adoration, no hint of something else that the two of them had never voiced before but that burned brightly inside each of them.

He needed to tell him.

“I…” Abbacchio couldn’t think of anything to say but, “Thank you.”

His partner’s smile widened and he offered a wave as Abbacchio stepped onto the bus, the driver getting in his seat and shifting the gear into drive.

As he stared out the window of the back of the bus, the vehicle pulling away from the curb to drive down the vacant streets, the man’s smile parted to form words that Abbacchio felt in his soul even if he couldn’t hear them.

Tears welled up again, from an emotion he recognized as relief, and as he closed his eyes, Abbacchio felt like he could finally smile again.


Cloudy gray sky filled with the sounds of crying, desperate and broken as it resonated through Abbacchio’s body, the only thing he could feel aside.

There was nothing but the noise for a while, that and the sky above his head that seemed to push the gray clouds through it like a spoon through molasses. An empty, vacant feeling in everything but his mind that was slowly, painstakingly giving way to a kind of pain he’d never known before.

But it didn’t compare to the pain of that face that came into view above his distant eyes and it took far too long to focus on the man’s features.

Bucciarati’s eyebrows were pressed tightly together, gorgeous blue eyes filled with unshed tears and a kind of desperation expressed through them that Abbacchio had never seen before. He was pale, too pale to be alright, and his lips were moving but no sound was coming from them and Abbacchio wondered if he wasn’t speaking, but even the sound of sobbing had stopped, replaced with silence.

The kind of silence that he’d only ever felt when his world was colliding with something he’d never felt before.

Bucciarati mouthed three syllables, Abbacchio’s name, with such familiarity, that Abbacchio couldn’t do anything else but open his mouth in return.

“I love you.”

Chapter Text

The cloudy gray sky reflected the mood that clung to the gang relentlessly, the sounds of muffled sobbing and the ebbing backwash of ocean waves pierced through by a lone seagull’s cry flying far above them.

Time seemed to drag on as each passing second yielded no response in their lifeless teammate.

Narancia was knelt on the beach a few meters away, practically in Fugo’s lap as he cried and Mista couldn’t help but wonder just how many tears the boy still had left in him. It had been almost ten minutes now since he and Giorno had seen… seen that. Mista refused to admit what it had been; it felt like if he did, it was the same as admitting Abbacchio was… well.

When Narancia had first started to crumple, Fugo had instantly followed him to the ground, rubbing soothing circles in the boy’s back as he pulled him into his lap to cradle the distraught brunet. Mista had watched them as he continued with chest compressions, wishing there was someone who could hold him too.

He’d made eye contact with Fugo for the briefest second and the emotion held within those violet eyes had been too much. Mista had looked away first.

He hadn’t even dared to glance at Bucciarati after hearing that desperate plea, too afraid to even acknowledge that his strong, powerful, mature capo could ever feel or look distraught but from the man’s voice… it was obvious that he was broken up inside.

As for Giorno, the boy, to his credit, had explained the situation far more calmly and straightforwardly than Mista could have ever managed. And without even looking away from their fallen teammate once.

Bucciarati must have nodded or given some other wordless affirmation because Giorno had fallen silent afterwards, the sounds of warping filling the empty space.

Mista had never even imagined Giorno ever having to heal something like this. He’d managed limbs, bullet wounds, gouges, even second degree burns but this… none of them had ever taken a fist through the chest before. Mista was pretty sure no one could take that and survive it either. The damage was just immeasurable.

The image of that gray slab of rock stained red with blood showing through where Abbacchio’s right lung and rib cage should be was forever etched in Mista's brain.

Blood was spattered across Mista’s hands and arms, staining his favorite sweater and smearing across his forehead from where he’d wiped sweat off it.

Red was never his color.

Red shone against the white of Abbacchio’s skin that was slowly turning gray despite their best efforts to revive the man. Mista was exhausted but refused to stop administering CPR, even when Fugo had offered to take over. The blond needed to focus on Narancia right now; Mista could handle this. If Giorno wasn’t going to quit, then neither would Mista.

The blond was nearing the end of closing up the wound when Mista finally chanced a glance at the man’s chest cavity. The white of newly repaired rib bones was quickly disappearing beneath pink muscle and a web of blood vessels that sprouted into one another. Giorno was pale and sweaty, his cheeks sallow and normally brilliant green eyes hollow but the grim determination on his face hadn’t yet faded.

Each time Mista moved to Abbacchio’s head to give the two breaths, he kept hoping beyond all hope that he’d feel an exhalation against his face or warmth in those freezing cold lips and each time, he was let down.

“…It’s done.”

Giorno’s voice cut through the tension, an empty tone in those otherwise hopeful words.

Mista looked down to see the Abbacchio’s chest was fully closed up, gray skin covering the former gaping hole with no visible trace that it had ever been there at all.

And yet there was no change.

“Just… just a little more,” Mista heard himself stammering. “I-It’ll be fine, he’s fixed, he’s better, i-if I just keep going, I’m s-sure he’ll-”

Before he could start another round of compressions, Mista felt a hand on his arm and looked up to see Giorno standing behind him and when did the blond get there?

Giorno shook his head minutely, jaw clenched tight beneath pale lips and ashen skin and Mista watched as the blond reached out to brush a gentle hand against his cheek and saw it come back wet.

When had he started crying?

As the realization swept through the group, Mista heard Narancia’s sobs dissolve into full blown wailing that wrenched his heart even further than it already was, mixed with the soft, almost inaudible keens from Fugo.

When Giorno reached out again, Mista fell into him all too easily.

Burying his fists in the blond’s suit that was now closer to red than pink, Mista clenched his teeth to keep from crying out himself. Giorno’s hands wrapped around him tightly, one reaching up beneath his hat to curl in his hair and stroke it gently, like his mother used to do when he had a nightmare as a kid.

He twisted around enough to see Bucciarati still beside Abbacchio, face shadowed by the dark bangs that fell over his eyes, and watched as a drop of blood rolled down the man’s chin to fall onto Abbacchio’s cheek from where the capo had bitten his lip.

“...rry.”

Mista thought he’d imagined it for a second before he realized the sound had come from Giorno.

The boy’s eyes were fixed on Bucciarati, knelt over Abbacchio’s prone form, soft whispers escaping his lips with an expression of fear etched into his pretty features.

“I’m sorry.”

Giorno was apologizing. Over and over and over again, like it was the only thing he could think and the only thing he could say. Like his life depended on it. Mista had to wonder if Giorno thought that it did.

Before he could say anything, and he didn’t even know what to say, not really, they both heard Bucciarati utter, “Leone” in the most heartbreakingly shattered voice Mista had ever heard their capo use.

In a way, it felt like the world was ending.

And then Bucciarati spoke again, but this was different.

“Leone?!”

He sounded shocked and Mista twisted back around to watch as Bucciarati’s arms jerked forwards, like he wasn’t able to reach Abbacchio fast enough, to cradle the white-haired man’s head and upper torso in his arms.

“Leone, Leone,” Bucciarati murmured desperately, free hand brushing against Abbacchio’s cheek. “Leone, can you hear me? See me? That wasn’t- I didn’t imagine that?!”

Mista thought for a second that Bucciarati really had lost his mind from grief.

Until he saw Abbacchio’s hand twitch.

“Oh my God,” he rasped, pulling away at the same time as Giorno, who was also staring at the pair in shock.

Mista staggered to his feet, stepping towards them in fragmented incredulity. When he was close enough to see Abbacchio’s eyes, he froze.

That vacant stare was gone, the cloudiness that had coated Abbacchio’s violet eyes disappeared, the color was back, and they were focused on Bucciarati.

And Abbacchio was smiling.

He hadn’t registered he’d sunk down to the ground until his hands clenched in the sand beneath him, digging into his skin and inching under his fingernails as Mista fought for any kind of tangibility within the tiny grains.

This couldn’t really be happening but it was. Somehow.

They’d done it.

Mista watched as Abbacchio’s left arm moved its way towards his face, slow and shaky like he didn’t have full control over it yet, to press against the hand Bucciarati was using to hold Abbacchio’s head. Their fingers slowly entwined with each other and it was like the dam had finally burst.

As Bucciarati’s tears slipped out of his eyes, a grin of pure joy stretching across his face like he’d never been happier before in his life, Mista heard Narancia shriek something unintelligible and bolt towards the white-haired man desperately.

Fugo could barely hold him back from tackling Abbacchio, frantically explaining how the man was far too weak for that, but the expression on the blond’s face was one of relieved elation. Narancia bent down next to Abbacchio opposite Bucciarati, his hand hovering over the man as if he wasn’t sure if he could touch him or not.

Bucciarati’s grin softened as he let go of Abbachio’s hand so the man could reach out to Narancia. Mista had never seen Abbacchio look so gentle before, meeting Narancia’s outstretched fingers with a warm smile and fondness glistening in his violet-gold eyes.

The brunet dissolved into sniffles all over again, Fugo’s hand coming to rest gently on the boy’s shoulder as he exchanged a nod with Abbacchio. Narancia was blubbering about how happy he was and how pissed off he was at the same time and the scene was just so them that Mista felt like he was going to start crying too.

They’d almost lost this.

And Mista would’ve gone to them too, would’ve knelt down next to Narancia, smacked Abbacchio’s shoulder as gently as he possibly could while telling him to never pull that shit again, would’ve initiated a group hug that Abbacchio would obviously protest to but that everyone knew he loved.

But Giorno’s whispering hadn’t stopped and Mista felt himself moving back before he could process it.

The blond was shaking now, shoulders trembling almost violently as he stared at the four men before them on the rocks. His skin had yet to regain any color and his hands were gripped around his upper arms, squeezing himself so tightly that Mista thought he might be cutting off his own circulation.

“Giorno,” Mista murmured softly, and when the blond didn’t look at him, he knelt down in the sand and placed himself between Giorno’s gaze and the rest of the group.

“Giorno,” he repeated.

This time, the boy’s green eyes seemed to register him as recognition flashed through them.

“But…” he whispered. “I… failed.”

“No,” Mista answered. “No, you didn’t. He’s alive, Giorno. You saved him.”

“I…” Giorno’s voice trailed off as Mista reached out to cover Giorno’s clenched fingers with his own hands, engulfing them in his warmth as he worked his fingers beneath them to loosen the grip the boy had on himself. “But- I can never save anyone, never-”

“Whoever said that is wrong,” even though Mista was pretty sure he knew who would say something like that. “Abbacchio is okay. It’s okay, Giorno. Everything is. You did good.”

It was like all Giorno needed to hear were those words because he threw himself forwards into Mista’s arms before the gunman could really comprehend what he was doing. It was an unnatural display of affection from the blond but Mista wasn’t about to discourage him from those and he took Giorno in his arms as easily as if he was meant to be there from the start.

Giorno’s shoulders were still shaking, but Mista could feel wetness where Giorno’s eyes were pressed against his neck and he figured that kind of shaking was okay.

He’d never seen Giorno cry before.

“Thank God,” the blond was whimpering into the crook of his neck. “Thank God. I didn’t fail. I didn’t fail. I wasn’t wrong.”

There was more to unpack there than Mista wanted to get into right now so he just held Giorno tightly as he replied, “Yeah. Yeah. You did great, Giorno. So great.”

A noise from behind Mista drew his attention and he glanced back to see the others watching them. Well, Abbacchio was watching them, his eyes fixed on Mista - no, fixed on Giorno, what little the man could see of him that wasn’t obscured by Mista’s body. Bucciarati was smiling at them warmly while Fugo was exchanging glances with Narancia that Mista recognized and did not like the feeling they gave him.

“Well?” Abbacchio said, and his voice, though heavy and thick like something was in the back of his throat, was still unmistakably his own. Mista had thought he’d never hear that voice again.

“He means,” Bucciarati said, pushing Abbacchio’s shoulder gently with a fond smile. “Aren’t you two coming over here?”

Mista turned back to Giorno and the blond had pulled away from his neck and shoulder, rubbing at his eyes with his hands to get the tear tracks off his fair skin. He glanced up at Mista, green eyes with the faintest red rims around them, and nodded with a small smile. Mista grinned back.

“Yeah,” he said, getting to his feet and extending a hand to Giorno. The blond took it and Mista pulled him to his feet, doing his best to suppress the giddy feeling that spread through his chest when Giorno made no notion of letting go.

Who gave a shit that Narancia and Fugo would give him hell for it later? Abbacchio was alive and Giorno was holding his hand. In Mista’s humble opinion, the day couldn’t get any better.

When they approached, Mista could feel Giorno hesitate the closer they got. Probably because of his relationship with Abbacchio. All Mista could do was give the boy’s hand a brief squeeze, but it seemed to be enough because Giorno moved forwards those last few steps without pause.

“Glad to see you’re back with us,” Mista said warmly, grinning down at Abbacchio. The man had shifted into a more comfortable seated position, back pressed against the sheer rock face of the cliff behind him.

“Glad to be back,” Abbacchio admitted, smirking up at Mista before his eyes drifted back to Bucciarati briefly. Somehow, Mista got the feeling those two would be closer than ever now. And not just because one of them almost died. He missed something while he was with Giorno but for now, Mista was content to leave that secret to Abbacchio and Bucciarati.

“I’m so happy,” Narancia said, and judging by the way Fugo rolled his eyes, this was not the first time the brunet had said that. Still, the fondness was unmistakable, and Mista had to wonder how much this affected their relationship too.

Who knew a near-death experience would bring people together?

“As am I,” Bucciarati agreed as he stood to step over towards them. He reached out to place his hand on Giorno’s shoulder and said, “Giorno. This is because of you. From the very bottom of my heart, I thank you.”

“There’s no need to, Bucciarati,” Giorno said quickly and Mista could tell from the faint pink on his cheeks that he was embarrassed. “Really. I just did what I had to.”

“No.”

Abbacchio’s voice cut through the air and instantly everyone fell silent. Mista could feel the collective intake of breath in anticipation of what was to come spreading through them all and he prepared to defend Giorno if he had to.

“You didn’t have to.” Mista felt Giorno stiffen beside him before turning to face Abbacchio with his features schooled in an unreadable expression.

“You had no reason to,” Abbacchio continued. “I’ve told you before to let me die, if that’s what it takes. You didn’t go after whoever did this, even though that could’ve been a breakthrough. You never listen to a single damn thing I tell you.”

“Leone-”

Abbacchio put out his hand before Bucciarati could continue. “Let me finish, Bruno. I need to say this.”

The capo didn’t look all that thrilled about it but sighed before nodding that it was okay to keep going.

“Look. I have never once been kind to you, brat. You had absolutely no reason to try that hard for me. And I’m not stupid, you look like you’re the one who almost died, not me. You almost killed yourself for me and ignored the damn mission to do so. So you better listen real close because I’m only gonna say this once, got that?”

Giorno nodded stiffly and Mista felt his fingers tighten around his own hand so tightly that Giorno’s fingernails dug into Mista’s flesh.

Abbacchio cleared his throat.

“Thank you.”

Wait, that- did Abbacchio really just say that? Mista stared at the white-haired man in disbelieving shock. Surely he’d heard wrong, right? That that Abbacchio just thanked Giorno? No way in-

“For all that you did,” Abbacchio continued, his eyes flicking back to Bucciarati before raising to meet Giorno’s steady green gaze. “Thank you.”

Giorno’s mouth opened but no words came out, an expression of astonishment on his face. Mista watched him glance at Bucciarati, who just smiled and nodded, before the blond looked back at Abbacchio and slowly shut his mouth.

His fist loosened, fingers going lax against Mista’s own, as he nodded awkwardly at the man.

“You’re welcome,” he said quietly. “I’m just… glad it worked. That you’re okay.”

Abbacchio nodded at Giorno before he sighed and leaned back against the rocks.

“Fuck. I’m exhausted.”

Bucciarati laughed. “I would imagine dying does that to someone.”

“You should go in the turtle,” Narancia added. “Take a nap on the couch! Although I like the armchairs better but you’re too long to fit good in them.”

“Well.”

Narancia turned to look at Fugo in confusion.

“Huh?”

“It’s well, not good,” Fugo explained, crossing his arms over his chest. “Math is already bad enough; do we have to work on your grammar too?”

“We don’t have to work on anything,” Narancia snapped back. “You just make me!”

As the two began bickering, rapidly getting more and more heated until it dissolved into a screaming match, Bucciarati knelt back down beside Abbacchio murmuring quietly about things that Mista felt like he shouldn't try to hear.

Instead, he stepped away, hand slipping out of Giorno’s to go get Coco Jumbo from where Fugo had left the little reptile in the sand a few meters away. It looked up at him, blissfully unaware of anything that had just happened, and Mista couldn’t help but smile. He sat down on the beach, looking up to watch the waves ebb and flow fifteen meters or so away from them.

He felt Giorno approach behind him and plop into the sand next to him.

“So,” he said.

“So,” Mista echoed, cocking his head to the side as he turned to stare at Giorno. The blond met his eye with an affectionate grin.

“Thank you. For calming me down.”

“Nah,” Mista replied with a wave of his hand. “You did the same thing for me, it was nothing.”

“It wasn’t nothing to me,” Giorno answered softly. “No one has ever said that to me before. To hear words of praise… that meant more to me than you know.”

“Bucciarati praises you all the time though?”

“It’s not the same,” Giorno said, and Mista waited for an explanation but after a few seconds, it was clear he wasn’t going to get one.

“Well, glad I could help,” Mista said with a sigh before glancing at Giorno with a sly smirk. “Y’know, I can always praise you more. If ya want. I got a lot of ideas on what to say.”

Giorno snickered. “Perhaps on that date,” he replied and Mista was shocked that the blond even remembered that.

“I’m gonna hold you to that,” he said with a grin, reaching out to put his hand atop Giorno’s.

“Well I would hope so.”

Behind them, Mista could hear the sounds of Fugo and Narancia’s protests as Bucciarati cowed them into submission mixing with Abbacchio’s laughter at their lecture. Giorno was next to him, fingers entwined with his, the ocean was calm, the sun was coming back out, and they were all alive.

Yet somehow, Mista got the feeling that this was only the calm before the storm.

Chapter Text

The sound of the ocean waves mixed with the buzz of Aerosmith’s engine as it flew overhead, scouting out the area around the gang for any sign of the attacker.

Mista wasn’t sure how much time had passed before he and Giorno were finally called back over to the others by Bucciarati. He had been too focused on the way Giorno’s hand felt within his own and too distracted by the blond himself.

Giorno’s face was still too pale and that thin sheen of sweat hadn’t faded. Mista suspected he felt worse than he was letting on but there was nothing he could do if the boy wanted to act like he was fine. Not without upsetting Giorno.

And he understood it. After what had happened to Abbacchio, Mista was certain that Giorno didn’t want to bother anyone else, didn’t want to cause the team to worry over not one but two of them. He was that self-sacrificing type, after all.

All Mista could do was just offer his silent support and wait until they’d finally entered the turtle and were back on the road to force Giorno to confront his own physical state.

Mista was pretty sure that Bucciarati suspected the same thing as well, judging by the way the capo didn’t call them back over for quite awhile. At one point, he’d looked back at the others to see what was going on, if they needed to come back, but Bucciarati had made eye contact with him and gave a not-so-subtle pointed look at Giorno before shifting his blue eyes back to Mista.

He got the message.

And of course, his suspicions were further proven right when they were beckoned over a bit later. Bucciarati had announced what the pair missed while they’d sat on the beach, delivering a stern glare to Narancia when he started to mock them. Mista made a mental note to get the little brat back later. He had enough ammunition from the past few days, that was for sure.

“Abbacchio has informed us that he succeeded in his task despite the attack,” the capo said and Mista couldn’t help the shocked noise he made when he heard that.

“How the hell-”

“Not all of us are incompetent,” the man in question growled, arms crossed over his chest from where he was still sat on the rock he’d collapsed on. Abbacchio had moved at some point, now seated at the edge of the stone and out of the pool of drying blood.

“Looks like someone’s feeling better.” Mista didn’t really have it in him to be upset though, not after how close Abbacchio came to dying. Honestly, it was a relief. If it had been him, Mista doubted whether or not he’d be able to recover from something like that this fast.

Abbacchio rolled his eyes before tossing something small towards Mista. The gunman stumbled forwards as he tried to grab it, plucking it out of the air just before it could land in the sand. He opened his fist to reveal a long, rectangular piece of gray stone.

“Part of the stele,” Abbacchio explained, resting his chin in one hand as he gestured in the direction of the stone slab. “Grabbed it as a clue, since I thought I was dead.”

“Right before he lost consciousness,” Bucciarati added, “Abbacchio had Moody Blues attack the base of the stele and leave an imprint on it. You can quite clearly see the figure it left in the stone of the Boss’ face.”

“Seriously?!” Mista couldn’t believe what he was hearing. This was great! This was a breakthrough, right?!

“But even if it’s a face, if we can’t recognize it…” Giorno trailed off, glancing over to see the glare Abbacchio was shooting him and winced. Mista frowned at that but didn’t say anything. They’d already made leaps and bounds of progress in their relationship; he should just stay out of it now.

“You’re right,” Fugo agreed, appearing behind Bucciarati as he gestured towards the stele behind him. “But we have something even more important than that - his fingerprints.”

Mista felt a tap on his shoulder and turned to see Giorno holding out his hand. It took him a moment but then he passed the sliver of stone to the blond when he realized that was what he wanted. There was the sound of warping as the gray material shifted into a small ladybug that flew off towards the stele.

Mista followed after Giorno as they approached, curious to see it for himself as the ladybug nestled itself into a crevice and morphed back into gray stone that fit seamlessly into the stele before slipping out of the hole and clattering to the ground.

An unfamiliar face stared up at them, furrowed brows and sharp eyes with a distinct frown etched into the monument with two handprints beside the man’s face. Sure enough, the fingerprints were clear as day on each of the ten fingers pressed deftly into the stone.

“Incredible,” Giorno murmured as he knelt down to run his fingers along the seam of the left hand’s imprint.

“It’s a death mask,” Mista said grimly. “Or would have been, had that asshole succeeded. I can’t believe Abbacchio had enough Stand energy left to leave this for us in the end.”

“It’s my will.”

The voice came from behind them and both boys shifted to see Abbacchio standing behind them, leaning heavily on Bucciarati’s shoulder with a grimace on his face but determination in his eyes.

“The will to seek out the truth. That’s what matters most.”

It sounded to Mista as though there was another, deeper meaning to those words and the look the capo gave his partner made it all the more clear but instead of asking, Mista just grinned at them.

“I dunno if I agree with you,” he said. “But good job anyways, man. You did way better than I coulda done!”

“Anyone can do better than you,” Narancia chimed in, poking his head out from behind Bucciarati. “You’re an idiot, Mista!”

“You’re not any better, dipshit!”

“Well at least I don’t ignore my mission to flirt!”

Mista felt his face heating up and darted forwards, trying to grab that stupid brat to give him the worst noogie of his life. Narancia slipped out of reach like it was nothing, laughing obnoxiously as he ran to hide behind the stele.

“I’ll beat you so bad you’ll have to crawl back in Fugo’s lap to hide!”

And now it was Mista’s turn to sprint away as Narancia turned the color of his Stand and shrieked, “I’ll kill you!”

“Why are you both like this?” Bucciarati sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose with his free hand. “Stop it. We don’t have time for this nonsense right now; we need to take the fingerprints and leave. Before any of the Boss’ men come here.”

“Sorry,” Mista and Narancia both grumbled as one. When the capo turned away, Mista shouldered Narancia sharply in the side, sending the boy stumbling to the left with an oof of surprise. A second later, the brunet’s bony elbow found its way into Mista’s side and they dissolved into petty pushing and shoving until they noticed the way Fugo was glaring at them both with enough ferocity to scare a lion off.

“Should we break off one of the fingers?” Bucciarati was saying as Mista directed his attention back to his capo, afraid of doing anything else that might incur Fugo’s wrath. “I could unzip that part of the stone but I’m not quite sure how to transfer the fingerprint to our computer. I also don’t want to damage the integrity of the stone either.”

“And we can’t just leave it either,” Fugo added. “Now that the Boss’ face is imprinted in the stele, we’ll have to destroy it before we leave. We don’t want to draw any unwanted attention.”

“If I may,” Giorno began, and Mista could tell by the look in the blond’s eyes that he had a plan. “I think I can help.”

“By all means,” Bucciarati acquitted, gesturing to the stele.

Giorno stepped over towards it and knelt down, reaching out to brush his fingertips against one of the stone fragments that had been broken off by Moody Blues while leaving the impression in the stele. Gold Experience’s hand appeared above Giorno’s and the gray morphed into green as stems and leaves sprouted from the formerly inanimate object.

“This is ground-ivy,” Giorno explained as small purple flowers blossomed from tiny buds as the vine continued to twist and grow. “It’s leaves are quite broad, as you can see. We can use this to transfer the fingerprints onto it and I can keep it alive until we no longer need the plant.”

Before anyone could voice the obvious question of just how exactly they’d transfer the prints, Giorno pressed his left thumb to his teeth and bit down, ripping a small chunk of flesh from his finger as blood trickled down freely.

“What are you-”

Mista was stopped by Bucciarati before he could say anymore, arm out to block his path and a stern look that had him biting his tongue.

Giorno held his thumb over one of the fingerprint impressions, crimson blood dripping down into the hole from the small gash. Plucking a long stem from the ivy, he used one of the larger leaves to press against the stone for a few seconds before pulling back and showing it to the others.

A perfect copy of the fingerprint was inked into the leaf in Giorno’s blood.

“We can keep multiple fingerprints this way, not to mention being able to see them much more clearly,” Fugo said, sounding enthusiastic as he examined the mark. “Good thinking, Giorno.”

Giorno gave a brief nod of thanks as he repeated the process until one of the hand impressions was fully recorded on the broad leaves of the ground-ivy. Once he had finished, he stood up and grew out the roots from the plant.

“We can keep it in the vase in Coco Jumbo,” the blond explained. “This way, we can take the fingerprints without any harm coming to the imprint-”

“And we can take the relief as well,” Bucciarati finished. “I was hesitant to simply remove the impression in case of damaging it but now we have the ivy as a backup. Well done, Giorno!”

A hint of a smile crossed the boy’s pretty face as he nodded awkwardly at Bucciarati.

“I’ll take the plant back to Coco Jumbo and get it in the vase,” Giorno said. “I’d like to get it in fresh water as soon as possible.”

“Of course,” Bucciarati agreed. “You can also tell Trish what’s happened. I wanted to wait until we were sure the enemy was no longer around. We’ll stay here to transport the relief as well. I’ll need most of you as it will be heavy, but Mista, why don’t you go with Giorno in case he needs any help?”

Recognizing it as the obvious chance that was, Mista gave a quick salute and followed after Giorno with a grin.

“I don’t need any help, you know,” Giorno said matter-of-factly as Mista caught up to him and fell back to match the blond’s pace.

“Sure ya do,” Mista drawled easily, grinning as he pointed to the ivy and said, “Just look at all that heavy lifting you’re doing! As a gentleman, it’s my job to get the door for you on your way.”

“Even though there’s no door?”

“The proverbial door,” Mista insisted.

“I’m surprised you know what that means,” Giorno answered wryly. “Fugo?”

“Fugo,” Mista confirmed. As they neared the turtle, Mista rushed towards it to scoop it up off the ground and, with an overexaggerated flourish, bowed low as he held it out to Giorno. “Your carriage awaits, my Lord.”

“I can see that,” Giorno said with a roll of his eyes but Mista’s sharp ears caught the soft giggle that followed it right before the blond disappeared inside Coco Jumbo.

He couldn’t help the giddy grin that spread across his face as he realized he’d actually made Giorno giggle of all things. Fuck, he was so damn cute. Way outta Mista’s league. Lucky for him though, by some miracle, Giorno didn’t seem to think so.

When he entered the turtle himself, Giorno was already speaking to Trish, who was actually off her favorite chair for once, and boy, did she look pissed. Her arms were crossed tightly over her chest, her foot was tapping impatiently, and the scowl on her face could rival that of Fugo’s on one of his worst days.

“-an hour!” she was yelling angrily. “Did it ever occur to your assholes that maybe I don’t want to stay in here by myself for hours?!”

“Trish, we couldn’t help it,” Giorno tried to placate, awkwardly holding the ivy plant in one hand and the vase of yellow roses in the other and Mista rushed over to yank the vase out of the boy’s hands. Giorno shot him a grateful glance as he said, “Like I said, it wasn’t-”

“Wasn’t safe, yeah, I know,” she interrupted before Giorno could continue. “Maybe you boys are too dumb to realize this, but I don’t need want to play the princess in need of protection! I’m not some damsel in distress! I have Spice Girl! I can help!”

“Did you tell her?” Mista asked, and when Giorno shook his head, the gunman sighed before turning to trish. “Trish, Abbacchio almost died.”

That seemed to get her attention, freezing in place as all color seemed to drain from her face.

“…What?”

“Someone - we think one of the Boss’ men but we don’t know for sure - punched a hole straight through his damn chest.” Mista’s hands tightened around the vase as he recalled the only thing that was going through his mind when he’d seen that happen. “We weren’t really thinking about anything else but trying to save him.”

Trish was silent for a few seconds as Giorno carefully pulled the yellow roses from the porcelain vase, eyes fixed on the stalks and nowhere else, no doubt remembering how close he’d come to failure.

“…Is he…?”

“He’s alright,” Giorno murmured softly, setting the roses down on the carpeted floor. “But he’ll likely be unsteady for awhile yet.”

“I wasn’t thinking. I’m sorry,” Trish whispered, averting her gaze to the floor. Mista reached out with his free arm to set his hand on her shoulder, her green eyes lifting up to meet his.

“Trish, you’re important to the team. Really, I ain’t just saying that,” Mista encouraged. “But you’re also the one Boss wants most, y’know? And Abbacchio is one thing, but I know that if Bucciarati failed to protect you, he’d never forgive himself. It ain’t that we don’t trust you, we just want you to stay safe until this’s all over.”

Trish stared at him for a few moments before her eyes seemed to water and she looked away. “I know that, idiot,” she sniffed, taking a step back. “But thanks, I guess.”

Mista grinned and flashed her a thumbs up. Once Giorno had finished positioning the ground-ivy how he wanted it, Mista set the vase back down on the pedestal it had sat on, feeling satisfied despite having done next to nothing.

“What is-” Trish cut off as she noticed something and quickly exclaimed, “Giorno, you’re bleeding!”

“Oh shit, I forgot!” Mista cried, darting a hand out to yank the blond’s arm towards himself to examine his thumb. It had stopped freely bleeding by now, but the red blood crusting around the small wound hadn’t quite dried yet.

“It’s really not a big deal,” Giorno muttered, although he didn’t pull away, and Mista got the sense that he was embarrassed. “For something like that, a little spit will do.”

“Oh yeah?” Mista said, brows furrowing as he glanced at Trish. “Get the first aid kit, will ya?”

When she nodded and turned away to go get the white box from where they kept it nestled in the bottom cabinet, Mista made eye contact with Giorno and lifted the boy’s thumb up to his mouth and licked it. The tang of iron spread across his tongue as Mista deftly cleaned it off. His girlfriends had always said he worked wonders with his tongue.

Giorno looked shocked for a split second before he winced and pulled his finger away, murmuring a quiet, “Ow,” as he averted his gaze, a hint of pink spreading over his cheeks.

“See? Spit won’t work,” Mista chided as Trish walked over to them with the first aid kit.

“Won’t work?” she echoed curiously and Mista finally felt some embarrassment under the girl’s keen gaze. Recognition filled her green eyes and she smirked something awful as she said, “Nevermind. Here you go. I’m gonna go check on the others, so see ya.”

And then she was gone, leaving Giorno and Mista alone in the turtle.

“…Gimme your thumb again,” Mista muttered awkwardly before the silence stretched too long. Giorno glanced up at him and looked away as soon as they made eye contact. Still, he held out his hand anyway.

Using one of the baby wipes they kept mostly for Narancia and his sticky hands, the gunman quietly cleaned off the bite wound and wiped the last of the crusting blood from it. He squeezed a small blob of disinfectant cream onto the bite mark before covering it with one of the smaller bandages they kept in the box.

“All done,” he said as he put the items back in the kit. “It coulda gotten infected if you just left it, y’know.”

“I know,” Giorno answered. “I just…”

“Didn’t care all that much?” The lack of response was answer enough and Mista sighed quietly. “I get it dude, but still. Trust me, if ya don’t, there’s hell to pay. This one time, a bullet clipped my arm during a fight and I just left it alone ‘cause I forgot about it. Well Bucciarati found out later and I had t’ listen to a three hour lecture about private wound care and how to ‘talk to your teammates.’ And Fugo and Nara never let me forget about it either. Ya gotta take better care of yourself.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Not ‘sorry,’” Mista said as he set the box back in the cabinet before turning to point a finger at Giorno. “‘Thank you.’ Geez, you’re as bad as Nara used to be.”

“Then thank you.” Giorno offered him a small smile, holding his bandaged thumb against his chest with a soft expression. “For earlier too.”

“Already said that,” Mista reminded, feeling the last bit of awkwardness ebb away as he walked back over to Giorno’s side, flopping into the armchair the blond stood beside. A cocky grin stretched across his lips. “But if you’re that grateful, then I can think of a couple ways you can make it up to me.”

Giorno watched him for a second before he smirked as well. The blond walked slowly around to the front of the crimson armchair and, without even a shadow of hesitation, plopped down right on top of Mista’s lap.

Giorno wrapped his arms around Mista’s shoulders as he leaned in to whisper, “So can I. You aren’t the only one with an adept tongue.”

The only thing that came out of Mista’s open mouth was a high-pitched squeaking noise that sent Giorno into a fit of laughter. The boy clutched his chest as he laughed, deeper than Mista would’ve expected with an overtly jovial tone, and Mista couldn’t help but start chuckling too.

“I’m not sure that’s healthy,” Giorno snickered. “Nor that a man your age is supposed to be able to make that noise.”

“Like I’ve said,” Mista answered, clearing his throat to get rid of the knot lodged in it. “I’m a man of many talents.”

“So it seems,” Giorno said as he began to recover from his fit and Mista couldn’t help but notice the blond was still perched on his lap.

Before he could do anything about that, the sound of yelling drifted over to them and a second later, Fugo appeared in Coco Jumbo. The blond’s head was pointed at the gem in the ceiling, hands cupped around his mouth as he cried, “Just a few more steps forward!”

And then he noticed Mista and Giorno, who were watching Fugo with a mix of surprise and embarrassment. Well, Mista felt embarrassed. Giorno looked like he owned every centimeter of the land they walked on, and therefore had nothing to be embarrassed about.

“What are-”

And then Narancia was inside the turtle as well, holding the impression of the Boss’ face with a look of frustration and exertion. Of course, Mista realized, he’d insisted on carrying it himself, that was exactly like Narancia after all.

It was also exactly like Narancia when he dropped the damn thing as he burst out cackling, sending Fugo diving to catch the part of the stele before it shattered. Much as Mista wanted to kill that little shit, he figured he didn’t need to do anything about it.

Narancia wouldn’t be laughing for long.

Chapter Text

It had taken another hour after that but the group was finally on the move again and Mista couldn’t be more glad for it. He’d felt strangely apprehensive after staying in one place for so long, like not being on the move just wasn’t right.

Even throughout the communication with that mysterious stranger, Mista couldn’t help but feel antsy, itching to get moving once again.

He’d watched Giorno’s reaction to seeing the arrow, everyone else focused on the call itself rather than the listeners and he’d seen the way the blond had tensed up, eyes sparkling in an odd sort of recognition.

“You and I must meet in person,” the baritone voice had crackled over the comms, laced with some sort of accent Mista couldn’t quite place.

Mista got the feeling that maybe it wasn’t Bucciarati the man was talking to.

Everything had passed quickly after that, the despair that had been rising with each dead end and failed lead now replaced with a strange sort of foreboding excitement. Bucciarati had instructed Fugo and Giorno to return to their vehicle and gather what little items they’d left inside it while Narancia and Mista himself were sent to find a boat that could take them back to the mainland.

The beach further down the coast was swarming with tourists, completely oblivious to the carnage that had taken place just hundreds of meters away. Mista had seen what looked like a family, a woman and a man with four little boys, and was reminded of the only time his parents had taken them all to the beach. His sister had almost drowned and they’d never gone again. Seeing this family now, he wondered if that was the sort of thing he’d missed out on simply because his parents couldn’t watch them well enough. “There’s just so many of you,” his mom had sighed when he’d asked later if they could at least go to the pool together. Mista wasn’t sure if that was the problem or if it was the fact that his dad drank all the time and his mom had her hands full with that.

While searching for a boat with Narancia, Mista allowed himself to think about what would happen if he went on a beach vacation with the gang. Bucciarati and Abbacchio sipping vintage wine in lounge chairs beneath a large umbrella while he, Fugo, and Narancia got into a squirt gun fight in the shallow water near the beach. Digging into whatever food Bucciarati would’ve packed like it was a picnic, having races in the salty water, playing beach volleyball and showing off his mean spiking skills.

Sunbathing next to Giorno, with the gleaming sunlight alighting the blond’s hair so it glowed like spun gold, that pale expanse of skin being shown off tanning under the harsh summer sun, turning onto his back as the sand slipped through Giorno’s fingers and toes, having to shower to get it all off, maybe letting Mista shower with him-

He needed to save that line of thought for when he didn’t have a mission to do and got some time off. Preferably spent in a bathroom. Alone.

Still, maybe once this was all over, he’d suggest going there to the others.

Narancia had caught his attention just seconds later, pointing at a white and black speed boat that looked big enough to hold up to four people maximum. It was perfect.

The boat was tied along a vacant dock and likely belonged to some of the beachgoers who were far too busy frolicking in the sun and sea to even notice if they were stranded until it was much too late. Narancia ran back to get the others while Mista set to scoping the vehicle out and preparing to hotwire it - or whatever hotwiring a boat was called.

The engine was outboard on the stern, so Mista could access it easily enough without drawing too much attention to himself. He checked to see if there was actually gas in the tank and then examined the control panel, cursing when he saw the dead man’s switch was a key switch that the owner had just so happened to take with them to wherever they went on Sardegna. Too bad they were getting robbed by someone who actually knew boats, and it only took Mista a minute to find something that would function the same way, a small piece of plastic broken off from the bow of the boat.

That was all it really needed; it ran on diesel so he could just use the starter cord once the others arrived. Musta been an old sailboat that was refitted with a motor, Mista mused while he waited for them. That or whoever made it was hella cheap, to not make it run electronically when it was already the twenty first century.

It wasn’t long before Narancia was racing back towards him with Coco Jumbo tucked safely under his arm.

Once the boy hopped aboard, Mista pulled out the choke and yanked the starter cord with all he had. It only took five tugs (thank God it wasn’t four) before it roared to life. After untying the mooring ropes, he engaged the forward and off they went.

“How do you do boats?” Narancia asked, chin in his hands as he watched Mista maneuver the motorboat past the dock in a lazy half loop before cranking the forward to pick up speed.

“Same as everything else,” he answered. “Ya find a hole and drill it.”

Narancia frowned, digging around in the duffel bag to find the hotwiring kit they kept. After searching it, he looked up as he said, “But we don’t have a-”

“Exactly.”

It was almost cute watching the wheels slowly spinning in that tiny brain of Narancia’s until the moment of recognition flashed through his violet eyes. His face twisted into a scowl of disgust before settling into a smirk and Mista wondered just what he’d thought of now.

“I thought you were just a metal fucker,” Narancia said teasingly. “Seeing as you want Giorno to give you his Gold Experience ‘n all.”

“One more word outta you and I’ll-”

Mista didn’t get the chance to finish his sentence before a shiver ran down his spine and the hairs on the backs of his arms stood up. He swung around to stare furiously at the now-vanishing beach, searching for whoever it was. It was unmistakable; he’d recognize that feeling anywhere.

“Mista?” Narancia’s voice sounded nervous. “What’s wrong?”

Mista was silent for a few seconds, hoping he could pick out whoever it had been but to no avail. With a grunt of distaste, he fell back into his seat beside the controls.

“Someone was watching us,” he growled. “I could feel it. Couldn’t see who the hell it was though.”

“Maybe it was the guys who own the boat?”

Mista glanced at Narancia’s hopeful expression before nodding briefly. He didn’t think so but there was no point in saying that now. They wouldn’t be going back, even if he had seen who it was, not when they had a destination and had been running on borrowed time for days now. Plus Mista didn’t like the idea of stressing Narancia out- or riling him up, or maybe even both at the same time. Who knew with that kid.

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Mista said with a shrug of forced nonchalance. “Also, if ya get to tease me about Giorno, what about you practically sitting in Fugo’s lap earlier?”

“At least I wasn’t the one getting a lap dance,” Narancia shot back defensively, crossing his arms over his chest. “You and Giorno are so DP- PA- PAD-”

“PDA?”

“Yeah, that’s it!”

Mista snorted. “I hardly think it’s as public as you two holding hands.”

“You guys slept in the same bed!”

“You and Fugo pretty much did the same thing.”

“Well at least we weren’t the ones openly flirting at breakfast that one time.”

“Should I remind you about that romantic walk in the woods you both took?”

“You- You-” and, clearly reaching for ideas, Narancia burst out, “You did the laundry together!”

“And how is that at all PDA?”

“I don’t know but I’m sure you found a way!” Narancia huffed angrily. “It was probably just an excuse to go jerk it; you’re as horny as those big dinosaur bones Fugo told me that they have in the Milano museum!”

“I have no clue what the fuck you’re talking about,” Mista answered. “And jokes on you, I’ve been abstinent for two whole months now.”

“Absti- what?”

“Haven’t had sex,” Mista sighed. “Not since Amelie walked outta my life.”

“Was she that one French girl?” Narancia asked after clearly thinking about it for a while. Mista didn’t think he’d been with that many women but damn, if the kid’s gotta think about it, maybe he should get himself tested sometime? Nah, surely it was just Narancia’s pea-sized brain that was the problem.

“The one and only,” Mista nodded, crossing his arms over his chest as he remembered the deft slap she’d given him before storming off. “And all because she didn’t wanna be with a guy with so much hair! Who sees chest hair and thinks ‘gross’?! I thought French chicks didn’t shave?! I shoulda been a catch!”

“Yeah, a catch,” Narancia snorted. “That’s what you are. Sure. Y’know, Giorno’s way too good for you, Mista.”

“No shit,” Mista said. “But if he seems to not think so, then I’m all for it.”

Narancia rested his elbows on the side of the boat, staring out at the ocean waves, the wind buffeting his dark hair from beneath that weird orange bandana he always wore.

“It’s nice to see you serious though,” the boy said softly and Mista was surprised for a second before he broke into a grin.

“Thanks little man.” Mista ruffled his hair, messing it up even further despite Narancia’s very loud, very obnoxious protests otherwise.

“It’s not funny!” Narancia cried in irritation. “You were gonna get some disease, y'know! Fugo told me about this one that basically makes your skin melt off and gives you all these ugly sores on your face and I was too scared to even touch down there for weeks after that!”

“…You know you can’t give STDs to yourself?”

“I know that now,” Narancia grumbled.

“Wait, how’d you piss-”

“Stop talking!” the brunet shrieked, slamming his hands over Mista’s mouth so suddenly that the gunman almost lost his balance from where he sat on the bench. He grabbed Narancia’s arms and shoved them off him, coughing and sputtering.

“Don’t touch my mouth after that!” he yelled. “I dunno where your damn hands have been! Besides down Fugo’s pants.”

“N-No, it’s not- we aren’t like that!” Narancia instantly protested and Mista’s smirk fell. That wasn’t the reaction he was expecting. He thought it was obvious that they both liked each other and he’d never really thought more other than that but it seems like maybe Narancia hadn’t either. Or, judging by the boy’s blushing face, maybe it was something else.

“Don’t you like him?” Mista asked, trying to pick his words carefully here. It was entirely possible that Narancia would shut down and not answer any questions and how could Mista possibly be a good wingman with the boy acting like that?

“Of course I do,” Narancia said, shooting Mista a look as if the gunman was crazy. “Fugo’s my friend.”

“Not- fucking hell,” Mista cursed. “I meant, like, more than that. Y’know?”

“Like best friends?”

“No,” Mista answered. “Also, rude, I thought I was your best friend! You’re getting an automatic demotion to just ‘acquaintance’ status for that. Also, anyone ever told you you’re dumb as hell?”

“At least I went to school!” Narancia cried.

“And yet I know all the multiplication tables and you don’t. Says so much about our education system, huh. Anyways, first, fuck you, second… uh… let’s see, how do I wanna say this? Look, when you look at Fugo, what’s the first thing you think?”

“Well if I’m mad at him,” Narancia thought carefully, “then I think that I wanna kill him. But if I’m not mad at him, then I get excited!”

“And why do you get excited?”

“Because Fugo’s my best friend!”

“Fuck, that asshole’s gonna owe me for this one,” Mista muttered to himself.

“What?”

“Nothing! Nothing at all,” he responded with fake joy. Time to try a different approach. “Okay, here, let’s do this. You hug Bucciarati all the time, right?”

“As much as he lets me!” Narancia confirmed with a sharp nod of his head. “Which isn’t much because Abbacchio always looks mad when I do.”

“How do you feel when Bucciarati hugs you?”

Narancia got a happy look on his face as he recounted, “It feels so nice! So warm and good and it’s just like what my mom used to do for me. It makes me feel safe. And loved.”

Normally, Mista would lay into him for being such a cheeseball and saying such dumb, sappy things, but now was not the time for that. Right now, Mista was on a mission. A Narancia-is-an-idiot-Fugo-owes-me-to-the-moon-and-back mission. Plus it reminded Mista of Narancia’s home life before he joined the gang and that was always enough to get the gunman eager to land a bullet between the boy’s asshole-of-a-father’s eyes.

“Okay. Now think about hugging Fugo. How does that feel?”

“B-But Fugo doesn’t hug me.”

“I have seen him do it when you both think no one’s looking, you little fucking asshole, just answer the damn question. I’m not teasing you about it right now.”

Narancia shot him a dirty glare before looking down at the floor of the boat. He seemed to be thinking about it, which was more than Mista could hope for, and hopefully the boy didn’t short circuit his tiny brain.

“Well,” Narancia began slowly. “It’s kind of like hugging Bucciarati. It feels good. And nice. And it’s warm but not like family-warm, like an inside warm that starts in my stomach and spreads everywhere and it’s really nice. But also kind of weird because it makes me feel embarrassed, like Fugo might be able to tell I get all warm like that.”

“And you haven’t once thought about why they both feel different?”

“I didn’t think I needed to?” Narancia’s reply was clearly a question and honestly, how did this kid function for this long. Mista knew he hadn’t learned most of what guys their age had, but how was he this detached from his emotions? No, that wasn’t the word, Mista decided. Dense. Fugo just had to go and like the densest guy in the team, probably all of Passione. Fuckin’ figures.

“Well maybe you should,” Mista suggested, deciding that his work was done for now. Besides, they were nearing the mainland and were only about a few minutes out from shore and it was better the conversation ended before the others got out of the turtle.

Narancia frowned, clearly wanting more of an explanation to that, but to Mista’s surprise, he held his tongue and turned his attention to the land that was coming into view in the distance.

“Where are you gonna stop?” he asked.

“Wherever there’s an empty dock,” Mista replied. I’ll beach the damn thing if I have to but it’d be better if we found a place that was near a car park.”

Narancia nodded and disappeared inside the turtle, likely to tell the others that they were getting close to shore and to ask what they were doing next.

A minute later, Bucciarati’s voice echoed out of the top of the turtle instructing Mista to proceed with his plan of finding a vacant dock and to let them know once he’d tied them down, so as to avoid filling the boat with too many passengers and to make sure any potential passersby would only notice one person on the boat.

Mista directed the motorboat along the shoreline, far enough out at sea that people on the docks would think he was just boating like normal but close enough that he could see the wooden docks sticking out into the ocean.

It wasn’t long before he came across one that was partially secluded on one side by a long stretch of sand and rocks that cut into the sea with a stark white beach that quickly merged into a thick treeline. Probably some kind of dock within a park or something, and where there was a dock, there was a path leading to it. A path that inevitably led to a car park. The exact kind of thing they were looking for.

He slowly steered the boat towards the dock, pulling up beside it with the ease of someone who had wanted to buy his own boat for years now and name it ‘Sex Pistol No. 8.’ And sure enough, he could see a small dirt trail leading into the woods.

Once the boat was moored, he hopped out of it and said into the turtle, “All clear, boss. We got what looks like a walking trail out here. What now?”

A second later, a blond head popped out of Coco Jumbo followed by the rest of Giorno’s flawless body. Mista was a little surprised that he’d come out instead of Bucciarati, but he sure as hell didn;t mind.

“Bucciarati said to follow the path until we either come to a map or a car park and then report back to him,” Giorno informed him. “And I thought you might like some company.”

Mista grinned. “Not exactly the romantic forest date I woulda planned but hey. I ain’t complaining.”

Giorno smiled in amusement at him and it only made Mista’s grin widen.

“Ah, hold on, I got the perfect thing,” Mista said.

Sex Pistols appeared at his side as he pulled out his gun and pointed it directly at the motorboat. “You guys know what to do,” he said, met with excited squeals from the Pistols as he fired his gun.

Hooking an arm around Giorno’s waist, he led the blond towards the woods as the boat exploded behind them with a massive fwoosh and a rush of smoke billowing out of it.

“See?” Mista smirked. “Now we got some romantic lighting.”

“Such a casanova,” Giorno teased, and Mista was pleased to feel the blond pressing against his side instead of pulling away from his grip.

“Just you wait,” Mista said confidently. “I’ll sweep you offa your feet one’a these days.”

Chapter Text

Mista couldn’t decide which was worse: the fight with White Album or this crazy mold fucker.

While losing five of the Pistols was bad enough, just lying there, waiting was worse. When they’d vanished one by one, caught by whoever the hell was up in that helicopter, he’d felt their pain, holes appearing out of thin air all over his body that burst with blood, but that wasn’t so bad. He was at least used to that.

All the Pistols had been terrified right before they were attacked, unable to find their target while watching their siblings torn into pieces. Well, Mista didn’t know if that was really the right word, but that’s sure as hell what it felt like.

As One had watched Three fall dead to the ground with its head cut clean off, Six desperately trying to warn the last remaining Pistol of the danger, Mista felt like he was paralyzed in fear as well. Even as he lost his balance, pitching backwards as he tried to explain to Giorno what had happened, Six’s terror had inexplicably cut off, leaving him feeling strangely vacant, as if part of him had disappeared as well.

Which, Mista supposed, it had.

“Mista! I’m leaving the others here!”

Giorno’s voice cut in as Mista desperately tried to regain enough of his motor skills to at least move somewhat. Just as he was able to lift his head up, Giorno broke into a sprint towards the helicopter.

Maybe it was against his better judgement, but Mista managed to rasp, “G-Go with him… Number… Five… Giorno… n-needs your help…” He couldn’t reach his gun himself, unable to move pretty much anything but his head, but he knew his pistol had ammo left. “T-Take a b-bullet with you…!”

Five looked frantic, like it wanted to stay with Mista, but it quickly recovered and gave a determined nod before flitting to the gun and disappearing after Giorno.

‘Heh, looked like the little guy grew up some,’ Mista thought as he let his head thump back against the concrete roof of the building.

This fucking sucked.

He had no ideas what the hell was going on except for occasional thunks and banging in the helicopter and whatever Five was feeling at the time, and he clung to those feelings as tight as he could. He’d never been without nearly all of the Pistols before when they were called out and it felt like his soul had been torn apart with them.

Fuck. Giorno had better win.

Mista hated feeling so inept, hated being stuck here barely able to keep his chest moving up and down and his heart pumping blood that still continued to ooze out of the wounds all over his body. This was happening way too often; he was getting knocked outta commission way more than he used to be. It had to be because of Giorno; somehow, the blond had gotten into more trouble his first week in the gang than Mista had in his first month. Still, he didn’t really regret it. If he hadn’t agreed with Giorno’s plan to get to Capri, who knows what woulda happened, if he hadn’t been there with White Album, Giorno might’ve frozen to death, and if he hadn’t ran back into the fire, the boy would’ve been trapped in the explosion.

Shit, who was he kidding. Giorno woulda figure something out no matter what. He was just that kind of guy. And who was Mista? Just some dude who was good with a gun. Fucking pathetic, that’s what he was.

Losing most of his Stand was seriously taking a toll on his mental health.

And that was no damn good because he was always the optimist and he had no plans to stop being that now. If he couldn’t think about himself without getting depressed, then he’d just think about something else. It always worked in the past.

Like thinking about what Bucciarati and Giorno had talked about in the car.

That just made him sick all over again.

Surely he’d just misheard them, right? There was no way Bucciarati was dead, he was driving the damn car! A dead guy couldn’t do that.

But Mista was reminded of the conversation he’d overheard two days ago between Bucciarati and Abbacchio, of the capo confessing that something was wrong with him but Mista hadn’t heard what. He wasn’t even sure if Bucciarati had told Abbacchio that. It was just like the capo to keep it from all of them. Which is what he’d asked Giorno to do…

No, no there had to be some kind of mistake here, the capo was probably just confused; Mista wouldn’t have blamed him if Abbacchio’s near-death had sort of traumatized the guy. Or maybe Giorno just hadn’t healed him enough? In which case, that was an easy fix! Yeah, they had to be bullshitting him. Maybe it was even some kind of dumb practical joke they were playing on him because they knew he wasn’t really asleep.

Okay, that sounded way too stupid to be real, even to Mista, but still. It was better than the alternative.

He vaguely wondered why he hadn’t admitted that he wasn’t asleep. After all, who the fuck passes out that quick? He was good at falling asleep but not in seconds. But if he had shown any sign of listening to them… well, they probably wouldn’t have talked about that. And that would mean Giorno wouldn’t have found out either, and Giorno, of all people, was the one who needed to know that.

Mista was broken out of his thoughts when he felt Five finally take action with the bullet he’d given the Pistol. The sound of shouting drew his attention to the front of the helicopter where-

Where Giorno burst through the front window, Gold Experience’s arms out in a defensive stance as blood spewed out of the blond’s body.

Before he could even get too worked up (which was quite the feat, considering his heart felt like it was gonna stop when he saw that), he realized what Five had done when a bullet shot after Giorno and impaled his hand, a tree instantly sprouting back to the helicopter and stopping the boy mid-fall.

Everything that followed happened so quickly that Mista wasn’t even sure what had really gone down. But maybe that was just the blood loss because it had been getting progressively harder to focus his vision and his hazy mind with every passing second now.

One moment, Giorno was running across the tree branch, the next, he was falling as that ugly green mold sprouted across his toned body, and then it was vanishing as the blond continued to fall.

Mista was terrified that he might’ve missed the roof and fallen off the building until he heard Five’s shrill voice yell, “Y-You got him! I can’t believe it, Giorno!”

Oh thank God. Mista breathed a sigh of relief and stopped craning his neck to try to catch a glimpse of the blond when he noticed the fair-skinned hand clinging to the rooftop. It was over, huh. As he thought that, he could feel his body relaxing despite the feeling that something was still off. What was-

Pistols. They were still missing.

Fuck, he couldn’t stay conscious anymore; there was a pool of blood surrounding his body now and even when he opened his eyes, black spots danced across his vision.

‘I’ll… leave it to you… Giorno.’


Mista awoke to a voice he recognized as Five’s even though he couldn’t quite tell what the words were.

His head was pounding and the injuries crisscrossed across his body throbbed with each beat of his heart but he felt whole again. Which meant all the Pistols were alright. Giorno really had done it after all.

When Mista tried to sit up to seek out the blond, he winced, hand flying to his head with a groan as he propped himself against the ledge surrounding the outside of the roof.

“Mista?”

Giorno’s voice was soft, gentle, and Mista looked up to see the boy kneeling beside him with an expression of concern on his face.

“Are you alright?”

“Yeah, I-” Mista broke off, the back of his throat feeling like sandpaper for some reason and he coughed a few times.

“The fuck?” he rasped.

“I thought as much,” Giorno said and Mista lifted his head to stare at the blond in confusion. “His arm grabbed your throat. He intended to use you against me. Here, let me-”

Giorno paused as he reached out to brush his fingers against Mista’s neck. ‘Fuck, why is that so damn sexy, he’s just fucking healing you, get it together,’ Mista reminded himself as he willed down any untoward feelings that sprung up because of that touch. There’d be plenty’a time for touching later.

A second later (after it felt like it was getting ripped out), Mista’s throat felt good as new and he rubbed his hand over it before grinning at Giorno. “All good,” he said, flashing the blond finger guns and a wink.

“Really?” Giorno asked and Mista could tell by his tone that he was going somewhere with this. “Is that why you’re still sitting in a puddle of your own blood?”

“I got extra, that’s all.”

Giorno cocked an eyebrow, whether in amusement or disbelief, Mista couldn’t tell. Knowing him, probably both. The boy reached out to place a hand on Mista’s shoulder and Gold Experience began to heal him and Giorno launched into a lecture.

“Mista, the human body only has up to five liters of blood. Losing one of those is more than enough to send the body into shock, let alone however much…” Giorno gestured to the blood-stained roof, “this is. You’re lucky no permanent damage occurred; it’s a wonder you could move at all - which was an idiotic thing to do, by the way.”

“How’d you know I could move?”

“I saw you lift your head,” Giorno answered amidst the sound of Gold Experience warping fragments of the roof into skin and blood vessels. “You should never move when you’re bleeding out; it increases the flow, making you lose blood more rapidly. You should have just stayed still on the ground, there was nothing interesting or important for you to see anyways.”

“You’re important,” Mista objected, wincing as the blond’s Stand moved to the worst of the wounds on his torso after finishing healing his limbs. “What if somethin’ went wrong?”

“You couldn’t move Mista; what could you possibly have done?”

“I dunno, something,” the gunman pouted. Leave it to Giorno to somehow put himself down even after he’d managed to defeat a guy who could turn people into rotting corpses if they so much as stepped down, for fuck’s sake. “I woulda figured it out. No way I would’ve done nothing, bleeding out’s just a minor setback, Giorno. Way too small to stop a guy as cool and amazing as me.”

That got a small smile out of the blond as he finished with the last of Mista’s injuries before moving onto himself. And really, he shoulda healed himself first, it was obvious his right hand was broken by the way he was cradling it to himself, and Mista hadn’t missed the way he awkwardly sat like he was trying to avoid pushing his ribcage the wrong way.

“Just be more careful next time?” Giorno asked. He paused for another moment before adding, “When Pistols disappeared and you started bleeding everywhere… I was very worried. It was frightening.”

Mista’s smirk softened and he reached to ruffle Giorno’s hair, much to the blond’s dissent as he swatted Mista’s hand away. Mista laughed as he conceded, “Fine, fine. But you better do the same, okay?”

Giorno didn’t reply but Mista wasn’t stupid enough to push it. If the guy wouldn’t agree, then that just meant Mista would need to step up his game to protect Giorno himself. He’d take a bullet for Giorno - hell, he already had. When compared to Giorno, even dying seemed insignificant.

“We need to-” Giorno said, breaking off to suck in a deep breath. “That’s much better,” he muttered, rolling his shoulder and stretching his arms over his head before he continued.

“We need to get to the coliseum.”

That surprised Mista; it wasn’t what he’d been expecting. “Shouldn’t we go after Bucciarati?”

“For now, making it to the coliseum and meeting that person is more important,” Giorno objected, his green gaze shifting to the street below where the capo had last been. “Bucciarati can handle himself.”

“But isn’t he practically-”

Shit, Giorno wasn’t supposed to know he knew.

Immediately, the blond rounded on him with a scrutinizing gaze and a dark frown. “What are you getting at, Mista?”

“Uh, I-”

“It’s useless to lie to me and you know how I feel about useless things.”

“…Look, you guys were just pulling my leg, right? Some kind of practical joke? Because you knew I was asleep? It ain’t funny to joke about that shit, y’know, I almost took you seriously.”

Mista wasn’t sure if Giorno would buy that, considering he didn’t really buy it either, but it was better than telling him that he had his own doubts. Those were something he didn’t even want to admit to himself, and he’d much rather just act like it was all a lie. If he knew it wasn’t… Mista didn’t think he could focus on the mission if that was the case. He just cared too much.

Giorno was silent long enough for Mista’s suspicions to deepen but then the blond said, “…Yes, although I wasn’t part of it. Bucciarati almost fooled me as well, you see. It was in bad taste.”

“You’re tellin’ me,” Mista forced himself to chuckle. Fuck, he’d just believe that for now. He could deal with this shit once they were outta the fire and he didn’t think he had it in him to really lie to Narancia or Fugo if they asked about it either. Hell, judging by the way he’d been acting, Fugo already knew something was up. If the kid found out, Haze would probably go out of control.

Mista had seen it once a few months back, when Narancia was returned from ‘helping out’ another capo’s smuggling mission beaten to a bloody pulp. You could barely tell it was him after those guys had gotten through with him. Fugo’s eyes had blazed red, Bucciarati had yanked Mista out of the way just as Haze roared to life behind the blond and then the boy was gone, whipping out the door like a raging thunderstorm. That smuggling group was never heard from him again.

Yeah, there’d be hell to pay if Fugo found out. And it would be worse than ever before, knowing how much he idolized and respected Bucciarati.

“So,” Mista cleared his throat, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly. “The Coliseum. Mystery man. What’s the plan, boss?”

“I’m not-” Giorno seemed to think better of arguing the title and just sighed. “I’ll take Coco Jumbo and head to the Coliseum. You tell the others about the change in plans. I’m concerned about Bucciarati, so I plan to keep an eye out for him. Cioccolata’s phone rang earlier and-”

“Wait, wait, Cioccolata?! That crazy asshole?! That’s who we fought?!”

“I- yes?”

“Holy shit,” Mista breathed, heart speeding up just at the thought of that psychopath.

“Did you know him, Mista?”

“I met him once,” Mista explained, remembering that guy’s creepyass stare like all he saw was a toy to play with and not an actual person. “Was doing extra security for a big meeting the Boss was holding a couple months ago with my… my ex-partner. Cioccolata was there as one of the attendees. The guy was a fucking nutjob.”

“You had a partner?” Giorno asked, and Mista was a little surprised that was what the boy had chosen to focus on. Well, Cioccolata was dead so what did it really matter now if he was crazy or not?

“Yeah, a guy named Rigatoni. Stubborn old bastard; I never got along with him. We just got paired together since we both used gun Stands. He’s retired now.”

“You didn’t like him… I see.” Giorno sounded oddly pleased about that but Mista figured he shouldn’t question that. Giorno would just deflect anyways.

“Yeah. You mighta liked him though. He had a weird respectable side, just like you.”

“How dare you call me weird,” Giorno objected with a small smirk across his face. “It’s perfectly normal to try to be upstanding.”

“Not in the mafia, dude.”

“That will change when I take over,” Giorno said and Mista had to admit, he was probably right. Plus the idea of working under Giorno made Mista strangely excited. “Anyways, you should let the others know what’s going on. We’ve already wasted too much time.”

“Right,” Mista agreed. “There’s plenty’a time to tell you about Rigatoni later.”

“You don’t-”

“Please, Giorno. You couldn’t look more curious about it.”

Giorno looked away as his cheeks flushed a light pink color and he pushed Coco Jumbo towards Mista.

“Get in the turtle already.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Mista grinned, reaching out to allow the Stand to get sucked in. Maybe it was wishful thinking, but Giorno had sorta seemed jealous about Rigatoni. Which meant Mista would have to be sure to reassure him that he’d rather die than have anything romantic to do with that dickwad.

When Mista entered the turtle, he was assaulted by a loud chorus of questions from pretty much all of them. Bucciarati had only allowed himself, Giorno, and Mista to enter Roma and fight against Cioccolata and Secco. Abbacchio had wanted to help but the capo had adamantly refused. The white-haired man hadn’t fully recovered yet, barely able to walk by himself on unsteady legs that winded him way too easily. Giorno had said it was because he’d had to create one of the man’s lungs pretty much from scratch, so it would be awhile before it was strong enough to support Abbacchio.

Trish had promised to watch over Narancia and Fugo was going to go with them, although Mista had noticed the reluctance in his eyes, likely because he didn’t want to leave Narancia. That had changed when Narancia had grabbed onto Fugo’s hot pink suit when the blond had made to follow after them. Narancia had instantly pulled back, his face bright red from the clearly unconscious action, but Bucciarati had quickly told Fugo to stay with the others. When the blond had tried to protest, Bucciarati insisted it was because Haze wouldn’t be able to help them without endangering the others but they all knew that wasn’t why. Fugo had told them all that he’d learned to control Purple Haze during the fight with Castagna; he was staying because of Narancia. And to be honest, he hadn’t looked too upset about it.

Trish had then said she’d go to help them but Bucciarati had shot that down before she’d even gotten the full sentence out, saying that it was too dangerous and that Trish needed to stay with the others where she could be protected. Mista had managed to stop her from getting too pissed by whispering that it was really because Bucciarati wanted her to protect everybody else since Narancia and Abbacchio were out of commission and Fugo couldn’t fight in close quarters. Trish hadn’t really bought it but she’d at least agreed to stay behind.

No one had really been happy about not getting to help and now Mista had to deal with it.

“Are you alright?!” Trish was saying frantically as she grabbed his left arm to examine it. “You’re covered in blood!”

“Well I’d say it ain't mine but,” Mista chuckled. “Giorno fixed me up all good.”

“So you’re not hurt?” Fugo asked. He hadn’t left Narancia’s side on the couch but there was concern in his violet eyes. “We saw blood hit Coco Jumbo and…”

His voice trailed off as Mista looked up to see that there was indeed a splatter of blood streaked across the red gemstone window of the turtle, dark and blotchy.

“It was Cioccolata and Secco,” he explained, deciding it was better to just be blunt. Trish and Narancia looked confused but Mista heard Fugo’s sharp intake of breath and saw the furious scowl across Abbacchio’s face.

“You better tell me that bastard is dead,” Abbacchio growled, purple-gold eyes narrowed.

“It was really all Giorno,” Mista confessed. “He went all psycho on that guy apparently. Didn’t wanna tell me but Five told me everything that happened. Giorno probably killed him fifty times over.”

“Good,” Fugo said. “It’s what he deserves.”

“I didn’t know you guys knew him,” Mista said. “Thought I was the only one who did. Even Bucciarati never met him before.”

“You really think I’d ever let Bruno meet that guy?” Abbacchio scoffed. “Hell no. Fugo and I were more than enough when his… skills were needed.”

“Who’s Cioccolata?’ Narancia asked.

“You don’t need to know,” Fugo immediately replied, reaching out to rest his against Narancia’s shoulder when the brunet looked like he wanted to argue. Narancia pouted but kept quiet and once again, Mista marvelled at Fugo’s ability to tame that guy. He wondered if what he’d said to Nara earlier had anything to do with it.

“So?” Abbacchio said and Mista looked over at him. “Where are those two?”

“Giorno’s heading to the Coliseum,” Mista explained. “He sent me back in here to tell you guys what was going on.”

“And Bruno?”

“…We don’t know where Bucciarati is,” Mista said finally. Just get it out in the open, no point in lying to Abbacchio. “He sent Giorno and I to fight Cioccolata while he dealt with Secco. By the time we’d finished, both Bucciarati and Secco were nowhere to be found.”

“Then why the hell aren’t you looking for him?” Abbacchio growled, sitting up from where he’d been reclined in one of the armchairs.

“Giorno thought it was better to proceed with the mission. I agreed with him.”

“Of course you did,” Abbacchio hissed. “Why wouldn’t you agree with the golden boy? You’re deluded by that fucking crush you have on him, you’re a fucking idiot.”

“That’s not- that has nothing to do with this,” Mista protested.

“So you just decided to abandon your capo because a pretty blond boy said so?! You’re forgetting who you owe your freedom to, Mista. Who saved you. That brat Giorno has been nothing but trouble, he’s probably been aiming for this from the start!”

Mista was going to interject but Abbacchio continued and he felt anger begin to bubble up inside him.

“Bruno was just a stepping stone, maybe he’s the one who attacked Bucciarati, we don’t even know if everything that prick has said is right! Bruno was in the perfect position for Giorno to get rid of him and take over, of course he wouldn’t go after him, that little fucking brat has never-”

“SHUT UP!”

Silence filled the room, the other four staring at Mista in shock where he stood just centimeters from Abbacchio, fist slammed against the arm of the chair where the man sat and an expression of anger across his features.

Hell, Mista was surprised at himself, he’d never really yelled at anyone on the team like that before. It was just, Abbacchio kept insulting Giorno and kept saying such bullshit that Mista just didn’t want to hear it anymore.

“Calm down, both of you.” Fugo had gotten up to insert himself between the two of them, hand on Mista’s chest as he eased the gunman back. “Abbacchio, I know that you don’t really mean any of that. Bucciarati will be fine. You trust him, right?”

“…Of course I do,” Abbacchio muttered and this time he just sounded tired. “He just… he shouldn’t be left alone like that. I don’t like it.”

And that made sense, especially seeing as Abbacchio knew something was wrong with Bucciarati. Mista didn’t know how much he knew but clearly it was enough to be weighing on the man more than what had happened to himself.

“Fugo’s right,” Trish spoke up softly. “I know you’re both worked up but you’re acting immature. Yelling about things won’t solve anything.”

“…I’m sorry,” Mista said finally, stepping back as he took a deep breath to calm his nerves that had been rubbed raw. “I shouldn'ta lost my temper but still. I’m worried too but so is Giorno. Don’t talk about him like that. Not in fronta me.”

“…Whatever,” Abbacchio growled, crossing his arms over his chest. ‘It’s not like I meant it.”

That was as good an apology as Mista was gonna get so he nodded his head awkwardly. He and Abbacchio made eye contact before both of them looked away. Out of the corner of his eye, Mista saw Fugo shake his head minutely with a sigh.

“I’m sure Bucciarati will be at the Coliseum,” Fugo said. “Secco is no match for him. Meanwhile, we just need to wait and believe in him. And no in-fighting. I know you're older than me Abbacchio but you’re forgetting who’s in charge right now. Giorno is right; Bucciarati would want us to go on without him, regardless of what’s happening to him.”

Abbacchio scowled but didn’t reply. Fugo looked strained as Narancia appeared at his side and rested a hand against the small of the blond’s back.

“Nara, you should be resting,” Fugo murmured gently even though he pressed against the brunet’s side like he fit there perfectly and Mista felt like that was just so intimate that he should look away.

“I’m gonna go join Giorno,” he declared, adjusting his beanie so his bullets were easier to reach. “We’ll tell you guys when we make it to the Coliseum, yeah?”

Fugo nodded. “I’ll leave it to Giorno’s judgement if you happen to see Bucciarati on the way there. And before you argue, we both know you're too headstrong to make rational calls, Mista. You get too heated up.”

“Yeah, fine,” Mista muttered even though he knew it was true.

“Be careful, Mista,” Narancia piped up and Mista glanced back to grin at the younger boy.

“Always am.”

Chapter Text

Running down the streets near the building where the battle went down was like running through some sorta apocalyptic shit.

Giorno was just about to leave the safety of the alleyway when Mista had popped out again and the blond had nearly bashed his brains in with a hunk of stone before realizing it was Mista standing behind him. After checking that the area seemed clear again (and after yelling at Mista for a minute straight about not sneaking up on him like that), they’d headed down the road towards the Colosseum.

It was only a few blocks away, a straight shot down the street, but the effects of the mold were still evident. It had only spread about half a kilometer, Mista noticed, based on the street signs and side roads they passed, but all the unfortunate victims caught in the attack were everywhere.

Half-formed bodies laid lifelessly on the sidewalks, their remaining limbs dissolved into piles of green goop that sorta reminded Mista of pistachio pudding. There were lumps of the mold that Mista assumed had to have been a person before but were now nothing more than rotting meat. He wondered what would happen when the mold dissolved, if it ever would, how Cioccolata’s Stand worked was beyond him but clearly the mold wasn’t gone. Either Cioccolata wasn’t dead or his Stand’s ability didn’t fade.

Maybe that was sort of a mercy. If the mold vanished and those people were just left with gaping sores, open wounds, and missing limbs and torsos…

Maybe being mold was better than that.

Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Giorno staring straight ahead, likely trying to not look at all the people they were just running past. Giorno could help them, Mista realized, but it would delay their arrival at the Colosseum God knows how long. Not to mention that the blond wouldn’t be able to explain it at all. So of course Giorno wasn’t looking at them; he could try to pretend they weren’t there that way.

Maybe Mista should do that too. They were making him feel kinda sick.

The road was surprisingly empty the closer to the Colosseum they got which was strange but Mista figured it had something to do with the whole mold-sprouting-out-of-people’s-bodies thing. It kind of put a damper on tourism. It was also late at this point, probably after midnight judging by how long it took them to travel to Rome from the coast.

Giorno flicked up his hand and waved his fingers towards the edge of the street, directing Mista’s attention to a gated park across the street from them, the Colosseum looming behind it with a street nearly empty of cars separating them.

They quickly made their way across the crosswalk to crouch down behind the brick wall, just out of sight of the Colosseum, likely so Giorno could figure out what to do next. They hadn’t seen Bucciarati anywhere and Mista had a bad feeling in his gut about it so he chose to avoid making any comments about it at all. Anything he said, Giorno would already know.

“I don’t see anyone…” Giorno murmured softly, so quiet that Mista wondered if maybe that was meant for himself.

“Yeah. Kinda weird,” he decided to say anyway.

The blond glanced at him before saying, “I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been to Roma before now. I assume it’s busy?”

“Like ya wouldn’t believe,” Mista agreed. “I’ll bring you sometime. After this.”

Giorno smiled at him but Mista could tell he was distracted and figured that he’d just make good on that promise later, even if Giorno didn’t remember him saying so. The blond’s mouth was moving but it was silent and his eyes were flicking back and forth across the ruins of the Colosseum to the empty path before them.

“We’re going to the Colosseum,” he instructed and Mista was taken aback.

“But what about-”

“We can’t wait for him any longer,” Giorno interrupted. “Bucciarati will come. I’m sure of it. But right now, we must find that man. It’s far too important to abandon the mission and search for Bucciarati now.”

Mista was more concerned about how the others would react, but if they didn’t know, then they couldn’t really be mad, right?

“You go left, I’ll go right,” Giorno hissed. “Search the outside first; look for anything out of place or strange, anything that doesn’t look quite right. It could be a clue. And stay on your guard; we don’t know when we might be attacked.”

Mista nodded and the pair split, rushing from the cover of the bricks to cross the street in the dark of night, avoiding the street lights that illuminated the vacant road. Passing the stoplight, they vaulted the fence surrounding the Colosseum and Giorno veered right while Mista headed a little to the left. It wouldn’t do them any good to truly split up.

He’d never really been much for those old historical sites that so many peoples seemed to love visiting, tourists and Italians alike, but he had to admit, the structure was pretty damn impressive. If only he didn’t have to search the damn thing; if this guy wasn’t gonna reveal himself to them, then it was gonna be like finding a needle in a haystack and they were fucked.

After searching what felt like the billionth stone pillar he’d seen and finding absolutely nothing except holes and the occasional spiderweb, Mista was finding it hard to stay motivated. When he glanced over, Giorno was a couple meters away meticulously searching what seemed like every centimeter of the place and if he didn’t like the guy so darn much, he’d think him a tryhard. What the fuck were they supposed to be looking for anyways; a fucking note saying ‘Go Here’? If only.

Mista ran his hand up the next pillar, feeling the cool rugged surface beneath his fingers with nothing out of place and sighed.

The next second, a prickle shot down his spine and he shivered involuntarily. He was being watched. And that wasn’t all, he knew this feeling. Had felt it before. On the coast of Sardegna when the boat drove away.

He glanced over his shoulder in what he hoped seemed casual and scanned the street. Nothing but the occasional car speeding by, even under the streetlights, there wasn’t even a glimpse of a person anywhere in sight.

Maybe he was too on edge? But…

Mista felt Giorno’s eyes on his back as he turned and started heading towards the street as slowly as he could without seeming weird. Better to just act like maybe he’s going to look at something over at the edge of the plaza if someone really was watching them. He made sure to glance around at the street and the Colosseum, scanning again for any possible hint of a person. None of the cars had stopped, so that couldn’t possibly have been it. He wouldn’t have felt that just from a glance out of a moving car.

The guardrail of the street was only a few meters away when he heard Giorno shouting and immediately spun back around.

Giorno was yelling something unintelligible as Mista raced back towards them and he saw that Trish was standing next to him now.

“Trish!” he cried when he saw the terrified look on the girl’s face. “What’s wrong?!”

She looked up at him, a sheen of sweat across her brow evident in the moonlight, goosebumps along her pale arms, and just shook her head frantically.

“Trish?!” That was Fugo’s voice and a second later the blond appeared next to the three, his features twisted into a scowl. “What were you thinking?!” he hissed, grabbing the girl’s shoulder and pulling her towards Coco Jumbo. “Get back inside!”

“No, he’s here!” Trish cried, yanking her arm out of Fugo’s grip and clenching her hands into fists.

“What?!”

“She feels the Boss,” Giorno said grimly, resting his hand on Fugo’s shoulder to draw his attention and raising a finger to his lips. Be quiet, he was reminding them all. Especially if the Boss was nearby.

“He’s nearby?” Mista hissed, feeling his heart start to speed up just at the idea of being near that guy. “Does he know we’re headed for the Colosseum?!”

“Why else would he be here,” Fugo growled, jerking his head back from where he’d turn to survey their surroundings to look at Trish. “Trish! Can you find his position?”

“H-he came out of nowhere.” She was knelt on the ground with her head in her hands and was shivering uncontrollably. “Somewhere nearby! I don’t know where he is, but he’s moving!”

“Dammit!” Mista cursed, yanking out his pistol as he ducked behind the stone pillar to ready himself for a fight. “The Colosseum is too big! About 500 meters-”

“More than that,” Fugo interrupted. “You’re only thinking about the outside of it. What about all the space inside? It may be off limits but when has that stopped someone? The man we’re meeting said he’d find us… but now we don’t know where to go!”

“Shit… shit!” Mista slammed his fist against the pillar, a small rain of dust showering down around him. “What the fuck do we do?!”

“For now, we need to get inside!” Giorno said, gesturing to the entrance behind them. “We’ll be more protected in a walled-off area!”

“Giorno’s right,” Fugo agreed. “If we can at least get out of the open, that will be something. We need as many advantages as we can get. And Trish, you’ll have to stay out here. You’re the only one who might be able to point us in the right direction.”

“I know.” Trish seemed worried and was still sweating but there was determination shimmering in her green eyes and she looked strangely excited. Likely because she was actually getting to help, Mista figured.

“I’ll inform Narancia and Abbacchio about the situation,” Fugo said as he stepped back towards the turtle. “Meanwhile, try to get inside. Maybe upstairs, if you can. Somewhere that you can see the Boss but he won’t be able to see you. Once you’ve found a good vantage point, we’ll reconvene.”

Mista exchanged a glance with Giorno before they both nodded in acknowledgement. Trish straightened back up and looked towards the street, and Mista couldn’t help but notice. The street… could that be what he’d felt? Was that who was watching him? And since it was the same, did that mean the Boss was the one on the coast of Sardegna too? If he was… if he was, did that mean Abbacchio was attacked by the Boss himself? Mista had assumed it was a guard again, since everyone they’d fought so far had been from the Boss’ personal squad but if it had been the Boss trying to clean up his own loose ends…

The more he thought about it, the more it made sense. The Boss had never seemed like the type to only have others do his dirty work; you couldn’t be a mafia boss without being willing to bloody your own hands. That, and the fact that the Boss had always had a problem with trusting his men, never wanted to show his face, only issued commands and never revealed himself…

But that could also mean that it really was a private guard. And if that was the case, then the Boss wasn’t who had been watching them. But Trish had seemed like he had come from the street before moving and that gaze had had more bloodlust than Mista had ever felt in his life.

Shit, he didn’t know, it didn’t matter anyways. He could talk to the others about it later but not right now. Right now, he had shit to do.

“And…” Fugo had paused with his back turned to them, something Mista had only ever seen him do when he felt embarrassed. “I- just… be careful. I don’t want anymore deaths.”

Normally, Mista would give the guy shit for showing that he actually cared about someone other than Bucciarati and Narancia sometimes but now, he just felt bad. So Fugo didn’t know about Bucciarati. Well, he himself wasn’t supposed to know either, Mista supposed. Fuck, things had to work out. They always did. His luck had never failed him; surely it wouldn’t now.

“We will,” Mista murmured softly, patting the blond on the back. He felt Fugo’s shoulder relax just the slightest bit under his touch before the boy warped back into the turtle.

Giorno motioned for Mista and Trish to follow him and the three took off into the Colosseum, the archway looming above them as they entered the shadowy corridor. It was near pitch black inside the hall, the stone structure blocking out the moon and casting dark shadows on the interior of the Colosseum.

Mista had never been inside it before, only passing the exterior those few times mob work took him to Roma, but he imagined it would be a lot grander during the day. Right now, it just felt ominous. Bleak.

They exited the archway a few seconds later, Giorno turning right to search for a staircase with Trish following closely behind him and Mista bringing up the rear, covering their backs as closely as he could. The blond had taken a step onto the stairs as Mista turned back to look at the two in front of him and then froze.

“How did this happen?” Giorno hissed and Mista frowned. What did he-

“We’re too late!” the blond continued, his teeth clenched tightly. “The man waiting for us at the Colosseum… had already entered the Boss’ range!”

Mista had been watching the stairs right after Giorno said they were too late, gun at the ready for whatever the blond meant, when he heard Giorno say that and swivelled back around to stare at the blond in shock.

“Time… has started to skip again.”

Mista never noticed the time skipping earlier, even though he believed Giorno. Maybe he’d just been too dense to really realize without something incredibly obvious staring him in the face.

“Just like in Venizia…” Giorno trailed off and Mista slowly looked back at the stairs behind them. The stairs he didn’t remember climbing up at all. “All of a sudden, we’ve already climbed up the stairs…”

“This is-”

“Trish!” Mista cut her off. No point in explaining this to her; she’d been unconscious the other time it’d happened. “Where is the Boss?!”

The pink-haired girl jerked back from the stone wall like it had burned her and turned her gaze upwards.

“I-I’m not sure,” she stammered. “I think it’s…”

Trish squeezed her eyes shut, a look of focus furrowing her brow as Mista and Giorno waited for her response.

Her eyes flew open and she pointed to the right of where they’d come up the stairs, along the right side of the stone floor that lined the central atrium that lay in the middle of the Colosseum.

“That way!” she insisted, breaking into a run that left the two boys racing after her.

“Do you know where specifically or is he just in that direction?” Giorno asked as the pair drew up alongside Trish to flank her.

“I just know he’s this way,” Trish answered, her green eyes fixed on the line of columns to the right. “I wish I could feel more but…”

“Nah, this is great,” Mista said, false bravado and all. “You’re a huge help, Trish. Givin’ us a leg up! We can find the Boss before he finds us and beat the shit out of him!”

Trish didn’t reply but Mista could see her mouth twist up in the faintest hint of a proud grin. He knew she’d wanted to do more this whole time and he was happy for her now that she got to do shit. He couldn’t imagine having to do nothin’ at all while everyone else fought for you, like some kinda damsel. In Mista’s opinion, Giorno’s looks would fit the damsel role better than all of them. Even Trish. His personality though? He’d go stir-crazy in under a minute.

“Tell me if you see anything,” Giorno spoke up. “Both of you. We don’t know how many men the Boss may have here. Any sign of life and you tell me.”

“Shouldn’t we attack?” Trish asked. “They might get away if we stop to tell you.”

“We don’t know if the man we’re to meet might still turn up,” Giorno explained. “And if we attacked him, he could very well decide to rescind the information. Or worse, you would kill him before he could tell us anything.”

Mista nodded in agreement with what Giorno was saying when Trish glanced at him and the girl nodded in response. At least she was listening to them this time.

Mista wasn’t sure how long they were running along the side of the Colosseum (and Fugo was right, this place was huge) before he heard Trish’s sharp gasp and her shrill cry of, “Look! Over there!”

She was pointing to their left, to an area they’d been running past that held a large set of flattened stairs that led further down into the Colosseum. It took him a moment to see what she was pointing at in the darkness, and he still hadn’t found it when Trish cried out again.

“Bucciarati’s alive!” Her voice was high-pitched and wrought with worry as she started rushing towards the fallen body that Mista was just now able to notice, half hidden behind a chunk of stone wall. “But he looks like he’s badly injured!”

Mista was running after them and chanced a glance at Giorno. The blond’s face was stony and unreadable and Mista wondered if he was doing that for show. For reassurance.

The capo was lying on the ground like he was trying to hoist himself up to his feet, leaning heavily on his hands with his head bowed towards the ground. Mista couldn’t see any blood or injuries on the man; he just looked tired. Exhausted even. But that could easily be false, there might be some sort of wound they couldn’t see or… or it could be what Mista feared it was.

How many days had it been now if that was true? Three? How long could a body move…

Giorno took the lead as Mista quickly shook his head and shouted out, “Bucciarati!”

“Be careful!” Trish cried as they neared their fallen capo, halting in their tracks to scan the area for any sign of the man. “The Boss is somewhere nearby!”

There was nothing that Mista could see except gray stone and dark sky but if Trish said she felt the Boss nearby, then he had to be just out of sight. Hiding somewhere. Watching them. C’mon, this was what he was best at, Mista knew he was dense as hell but he was aware of way more shit than most people; just part of the deal that came with being a gunner by trade. If any of them could spot the Boss, it was him.

Before he could even get a chance to really look though, he heard Giorno call out, “M-Mista!”

The gunman turned back to look at Giorno, saw Bucciarati lying flat on the ground, and felt his own legs buckle beneath his body. What? Had Giorno not healed something? Had the Boss attacked? But no, he remembered falling so time hadn’t skipped.

“Something’s wrong,” Giorno was saying but his voice seemed far away and Mista’s dark eyes drifted up to look at the blond before he pitched forward the rest of the way onto the cold ground, barely managing to cushion his fall with his arms first.

Mista’s limbs felt like bags of bricks and it felt like his brain was slowing down as well. It wasn't normal for his eyelids to weigh over a ton but he could feel them closing all on their own. He rolled onto his side, trying to push himself back up because Giorno was still talking but the blond’s voice was fragmented and stilted.

It was a monumental effort but Mista managed to open his eyes one last time to see Giorno fall to the ground as well.

His last conscious thought was that he wished he’d been able to catch him.

Chapter Text

A strange thumping noise was what roused Fugo from his slumber, stabbing like a knife through the desolate haze of whatever nightmare his brain had conjured while he slept.

It took a few seconds from when his eyes flew open, heart pounding in his chest and a thing sheen of sweat across his brow, to truly start to process what was going on around him from his position on the armchair- wait.

The armchair?

When had he gotten there?

Fugo remembered sitting next to Narancia on the couch after Giorno had sent them back into the turtle, sighing heavily as he rested a hand over his eyes.

They’d been doing their best to keep calm and ignore the urgent voices from outside the turtle, knowing they were supposed to remain inside and not come out until Giorno or Bucciarati called for them, but it was hard. Harder than Fugo thought it would be. He understood why Narancia and Abbacchio were forced inside; both of them had been grievously injured, and even though they were recovering, neither of them were in good shape yet. But for Fugo… he wasn’t hurt at all. In fact, he was probably in the best shape out of most of them and yet he was relegated to this.

The rational part of Fugo’s brain knew that it was because, in case something happened to Bucciarati, Fugo, the second-in-command, would still be there to direct the team and give orders; the leadership wasn’t fully jeopardized that way. But the other part of his brain, the emotional one that was gaining more and more traction with Fugo’s actions these days, told him that it was because he’d betrayed them all, that he’d nearly killed Mista, that he got the safehouse burned down. No matter how much he tried, it was hard to ignore those thoughts.

Fugo assumed that Narancia had some sort of inkling about Fugo’s inner turmoil, or at least that his emotions were turbulent, because the boy hadn’t hesitated at all to force himself into Fugo’s lap. Pointing at his head, Narancia had insisted that Fugo play with his hair because it distracted him from the pain of his injuries. Fugo had rolled his eyes and made a comment about Narancia’s age but did so anyway, never in a million years planning to tell Narancia that his hair was actually quite soft and silky. When it wasn’t a matted rat’s nest.

It had done wonders for his nerves, although Narancia had always seemed to have that effect on him, and Fugo had just started to relax - well, as relaxed as one could get in the middle of a battlefield - when the shouting had started.

It was loud, much louder than the voices had been earlier, and they sounded far more frantic before cutting off entirely less than a minute later. Fugo had felt his heart begin to race, fear coursing through him at whatever was going on outside as he craned his neck to try to see if he could spy anything through the crimson jewel on Coco Jumbo’s shell.

Narancia’s ramblings had turned into worried exclamations that suddenly started to sound jilted and slurred before trailing off altogether. Fugo had looked down in surprise to see that the boy had fallen asleep in his lap and hadn’t even figured out he should react to that when he heard a soft thump across the room.

Abbacchio was slumped in one of the armchairs, the glass he’d been holding now rolling across the wooden floor as what little wine was left slowly dribbled out of it. Fugo had tried to ask if the man was okay, a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach, when he felt tired all of a sudden. His eyes had started closing on their own and his limbs were like lead bricks and he just couldn’t keep his eyelids open and… and he must’ve fallen asleep because he didn’t remember anything after that. Not until now, when he just woke up.

There was a dull, thudding pain in the back of his head that honestly reminded him of a hangover but that didn’t make any sense; he hadn’t had anything alcoholic to drink in weeks. Fugo knew that he was an angry drunk that had troubling discerning who to take said anger out on, so he’d always tried to avoid drinking altogether.

Fugo’s thoughts were also jumbled and he was having a hard time focusing on one thing in particular, as if it was some sort of extreme ADHD, which was even stranger than the pain. He’d always had a clear mind.

When he raised a hand to his pounding head, he was shocked to find how heavy the limb still felt even after being asleep. Even with his nightmares, Fugo normally woke up feeling refreshed, but right now, it was the complete opposite. It was almost like he could barely move his arm, the muscles just aching dully within his skin.

This had to be an enemy attack of some sort, he decided. Something was messing with his control of his body and he wondered if that had anything to do with why he’d suddenly passed out. Why there had been shouting right before he did.

A sharp intake of breath drew his attention and he looked to his left - through blurry eyes; what was wrong with his vision? - to see… Narancia, he decided based on the dark blob of what he assumed was hair, standing between the other armchair and the couch. The brunet held a small, square mirror and there were strange white blurs dripping from one of his arms. The bandages, Fugo realized, the bandages around Narancia’s right arm were coming undone.

‘He shouldn’t be moving yet, that dumbass,’ Fugo cursed to himself. Giorno had specifically said Narancia needed to rest in order to recover from the aftereffects of the mold and adjust to the body parts he’d grown back for the boy.

Fugo stood, maybe a bit too rapidly since his legs felt like they could barely hold his weight and he staggered, barely managing to catch himself before he fell on the floor.

Doing his best to shake it off, Fugo stepped forward, uttering, “Nara-” before halting in his tracks, hand flying up to his throat.

His voice was so deep, much deeper than it ever had been before. It definitely didn’t sound like his own. Seriously, what was going on? First the strange headache, then the lack of control over his mind and limbs, and not only his vision, but now his voice as well? What the fuck?

Narancia looked over at Fugo from where he stood, and Fugo was close enough to the boy now to make out the odd expression on Narancia’s face. It was worry, sure, but it was a calm worry; there was a sense of maturity radiating from his features that Narancia usually never wore.

“Abba- ah, no, that’s not right is it?” Narancia stopped himself from finishing his sentence just as Fugo frowned in confusion. How could Narancia call him by the wrong name?

A moan coming from the couch caused both boys to look over at the edge of the sectional, a figure shifting against the red couch cushions that had just blurred in with them before Fugo got close enough to see it popped its head over the arm of the sofa.

Fugo made eye contact with himself and froze.

Heart racing much too fast in his chest, Fugo slowly reached up to run his fingers through his hair, bringing it from behind his back to over his shoulders so he could see it. Long silvery-white strands threaded through his pale skin, dark navy blue sleeves secured around his wrists with golden cuffs.

And suddenly, everything seemed to fly into place. The slight hangover, the strange disconnect with his body, his deeper voice.

As Narancia held out the mirror to Fugo, the boy’s worry having faded into tense apprehension likely towards the man Fugo now was, Fugo’s mind made the connection the same time his eyes did.

Staring back at him, reflected in the mirror, was Abbacchio.

Fugo was pretty proud of himself for not showing any outward signs of the panic going on inside of him.

“…What the fuck.”

That voice came from Fugo, his actual body, and it was strange to hear himself talk through someone else’s ears. Was that really how he sounded to other people?

“Indeed,” Narancia agreed and Fugo whipped his head around to stare back at Narancia.

“…You aren’t Narancia, are you?” he asked slowly. While Fugo was fairly certain he knew who it was that was - inhabiting? Presiding? Taking over? He wasn’t sure which was right - Fugo knew there were others in the Colosseum that could have been affected. Namely the mystery man and the Boss, both of whom he didn’t know the mannerisms they used when they spoke. If this was one of-

“I’m Giorno,” Narancia said, “Although I’m not sure how all this happened, it seems we’ve switched bodies somehow.”

“How the hell is that even possible?” Fugo heard himse- heard whoever was in his body ask, an angry tone quite prominent. Both boys' eyes flitted over to the angry blond on the couch.

“Abbacchio?” Naran- Giorno said. God, this was gonna take some getting used to. “Is that you?”

“Yeah,” Abbacchio answered, face caught between a sneer and smirk. Apparently the man didn’t know how to treat Giorno when he looked like Narancia.

‘How fitting,’ Fugo thought, ‘that the one he dotes on most and the one he hates the most would switch.’ Maybe this would help fix the guy’s attitude towards Giorno.

“So you’re… most likely Fugo, yes?” Giorno continued, this time looking directly at Fugo as he asked that. It was unsettling to see Narancia staring at him with that distant, calculating expression that now felt so normal on Giorno’s face. Narancia never looked at Fugo like that, and even though he kept reminding himself that it wasn’t really Narancia, it was hard to fool his own eyes.

“Yeah,” Fugo affirmed with a slight nod of his head. “And if you’re in here Giorno, that means the others have probably switched too. And that Narancia is likely in your body.”

“I agree, although it’s possible that more than two people switched with each other, more like a triangle I suppose? We shouldn’t assume-”

Giorno was cut off as loud screams echoed from outside the turtle, three heads jerking up to stare out the red jewel. There was someone peering down at them and Fugo could make out the shapes of blond hair floating around the person’s face, meaning it could only be Giorno - well, Giorno’s body. He couldn’t make out any of the features, the face just a blur of strange lines and shapes that were unrecognizable. Fugo directed his gaze to the ground, blinking a few times to try to clear the dizziness the sight had caused him.

“…How unnerving,” Fugo heard Narancia-Giorno mutter as they stared up at Giorno-someone.

“Sounds like they’ve realized it too,” Abbacchio scoffed, having gotten up off the sofa while stretching his arms over his head. As Fugo watched him walk over to them, he was struck by how… awkward he seemed to move. It couldn’t be that he just wasn’t used to Fugo’s body; although he was stiff and lacked control, Fugo could tell that it wasn’t because Abbacchio’s limbs were too long or that he was too tall. His hand-eye coordination was still working fine, evident by the way he was able to locate his own body parts and the small mirror without any problems.

No, it was something that ran deeper than that, and as Abbacchio stopped next to them, wearing a guarded expression that was now clear enough for Fugo to see, still stretching and flexing his arms and legs while trying to be obscure about it, Fugo realized it.

“Shall we go join them?” Giorno announced to the other two, shifting his violet eyes up towards the gem atop Coco Jumbo.

Abbacchio was about to say something, probably agree with Giorno, when Fugo stepped in front of him, blocking Fugo’s, well, smaller body from view as he said, “I need to talk to Abbacchio really quick. You go first, Giorno.”

Fugo watched as Giorno furrowed his brows, the thoughtful expression so out of place on Narancia’s features, before nodding once and disappearing from the room a second later.

“What is it?” Abbacchio asked in irritation, crossing his arms over his chest, and God, was that really how Fugo looked when he did that? He’d thought it was intimidating but he looked like a petulant child in that pose.

Making a mental note to never do that again until he grew a little more, Fugo frowned. He normally would feel a little awkward confronting the man; it was just something that stuck with him throughout his… upbringing, that adults were to be respected and feared, and even though he was trying to work past that, there was a part of him that he knew would never truly get past that trauma. But now, when he was practically towering over himself-Abbacchio, it felt different. He felt like… like an adult. Even if he thought Abbacchio didn’t really act like one sometimes. Fugo had always considered himself no less of an adult than the others before this, but this feeling was too different to truly shrug aside. So this is what it felt like to be grown…

No, there would be time to appreciate that feeling later, right now, he had questions that needed answers.

“Were you going to tell us?” he asked simply, and even though it was a vague question, he could see the realization in his own violet eyes as clear as day.

Abbacchio stepped back, resting his hands on his hips as he shook his head minutely, and that looked a little better than crossed arms Fugo decided.

“Eventually,” was the response he eventually received, “I was just gonna wait.”

“For how long?” Fugo said, continuing before Abbacchio could even attempt to answer. “Until someone noticed? Until someone asked, like I am now? Until you died? Again?”

“It’s not that big of a-”

“Yes, you dumbass, it is.” Fugo was practically seething but he wasn’t sure if Abbacchio could tell or not, since the guy’s face looked pissed off half the time anyways. His tone would have to carry him through this.

“Do you even realize what’s going on with your body?” Fugo continued, because ever since he’d realized it, it was all he could do to try to focus on something else, anything else. “Have you even noticed how bad it truly is, or were you just hoping that it would magically fix itself for you?”

“It’s just side effects, that’s all,” Abbacchio muttered and Fugo felt like he might explode.

“Yes,” he hissed, doing his best to hold onto that last line of tranquility. “Permanent side effects. Ones that impair not only your motor capabilities, but also your thoughts! Don’t think I haven’t noticed the difficulty to focus right now; that is certainly not just how you are normally, or I would’ve noticed it! Why on earth didn’t you tell us?!”

“In case you forgot,” Abbacchio snapped. “We’re in the middle of a literal goddamn Boss fight. It’s not exactly the time to be bringing up shit like that. And you and I both know what would've happened if I had; we don’t have time for this and who knows how long it might’ve set us back? There was no way in hell that I was gonna let Bruno tell me I couldn’t be here; I’m not leaving his side. Not ever again, you got that, Fugo? Not for anything.”

Fugo wanted to argue but he knew there was no talking to Abbacchio when he got like that. Even though he nearly always listened to Bucciarati, there were times he simply wouldn’t and nothing could stop him come hell or high water. It was evident by the man’s (boy’s?) tone that this was one of those times.

“You shouldn’t be fighting,” Fugo finally murmured, sighing as he rested a hand across his eyes. Just keeping them open was a challenge; the blurry vision combined with the hangover was making him sick.

“Do you see me fighting anyone, dumbass? Besides, Moody Blues isn’t meant for combat. We both know that. And as much as I want to help… there’s not much I can do like this- well, you can do like that, I guess.”

“Has it improved at all?” Fugo couldn’t help but ask. Abbacchio shrugged.

“I could move my fingers a little better. Honestly, I’m surprised you even managed to walk over here. Maybe I just didn’t notice until now. The vision hasn’t changed though, and neither has the headache.”

“Then why did you drink?”

“Why do you have such a low tolerance?” Abbacchio shot back. “If I was in me right now, I’d feel jack shit.”

The pair stared at each other for a few seconds before Abbacchio broke into a grin and Fugo felt one spreading across his own face as well, a snorted laugh leaking out of his mouth.

“Can’t believe I said that,” Abbacchio chuckled, and Fugo wasn’t sure he’d ever seen his own face look like that before. “It sounds horrible.”

“Yes. My condolences, by the way,” Fugo added. “I’m sure you’d much rather be in Bucciarati, huh?”

“Y’know? I would,” Abbacchio smirked and that expression was something Fugo was much more familiar with.

It was strange, watching Abbacchio speak, react, move with his own body, as if Fugo himself was possessed while at the same time trapped somewhere else. Sort of like two different out of body experiences happening at the same time. It had to be just as strange for the others.

“You can’t tell them.”

His own voice drew his attention back to Abbacchio, the tone in his voice a familiar seriousness that Fugo always carried while working. In fact, he just realized that the way he’d always schooled his tone and guarded his emotions was entirely absent in Abbacchio’s version of him. Fugo wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

“I’m going to tell them,” he replied, and before Abbacchio could get upset, he added, “After this is over. They need to know. But if you’re already in the thick of things, I suppose it could wait a bit longer. Besides, I don’t want you doing anything weird with my body.”

That last part was teasing and Abbacchio’s roll of the eyes and smirk told Fugo that the message had gotten through to the man.

“We should head out there then,” Abbacchio said, rolling his shoulders back with one last stretch. “I wanna get my money’s worth of being able to move how I want again.”

“Enjoy it because it won’t last. I, on the other hand, want out of here as soon as possible.”

“Join the club.”

“…Have you considered glasses?” Fugo asked as he followed Abbacchio over to the center of the room. Abbacchio was right; he felt exhausted just from walking a few steps. This was fucking horrible, he was gonna be no help at all.

Abbacchio snorted. “I fucking hate-”

“I’m sure Bucciarati would like them. Doesn’t he like smart men?”

Abbacchio paused from where he’d reached up towards the red gem at the top of the room and smirked.

“Y’know, maybe glasses wouldn’t be so bad after all.”

Chapter Text

Fugo emerged from the turtle to a gun pointed right in his face.

He jumped back, running into Abbacchio who had followed after him and nearly lost his balance if the man hadn’t grabbed his arm.

“What the hell?!” Fugo exclaimed, Trish glaring him down from the other end of the pistol.

“It’s alright,” someone cut in before the girl could explain herself and Fugo glanced behind her to see Naranica-Giorno gesture to him and Ababcchio. “Fugo and Abbacchio both switched souls. I verified that before I joined you all.”

“Shit!” Trish cursed, stuffing the gun back into her skirt.

“I assume you’re Mista?” Fugo asked, the girl’s green eyes flicking towards him as she nodded.

“Yeah,” she said. “And Trish is in me.”

“Stop saying it like that!” Mista’s body shrieked from behind Trish and yup, that was definitely Trish in there alright.

Mista’s hand flew to his ears, covering them as he whirled around to yell at the boy, “Stop screaming at me! It’s true!”

“Be quiet.” Giorno cut them both off and even though he was in Narancia’s body, that icy glare that shut everyone up was still the same. “We don’t have time for this. As I was saying, there is certainly someone inside Bucciarati’s body but I have no idea who it is.”

“But I don’t get it; there was no one else around us, right?” Mista wondered, crossing his arms over his chest awkwardly, clearly not used to the fleshy sacs that now hung there.

“Isn’t it the Boss?” Abbacchio said. “He’s the only option.”

“No,” Trish replied. “I would sense him. He’s nowhere near the Colosseum; I can’t sense him anywhere. We don’t know where he went.”

“What if it’s the person we were supposed to meet?” Fugo asked.

“There’s no way to know for sure,” Giorno replied. “We have to wait until Bucciarati wakes up to find out who he is.”

As Giorno said that, Fugo felt Ababcchio stiffen beside him and although when he looked, the boy showed no trace of emotion in his body language, Fugo could still read his expression. It was, after all, his own face. And he knew that look.

The conversation he’d overheard flitted through his mind and Fugo quickly directed his attention back to Giorno, who was saying something about watching over the capo’s body. Unease was creeping through him and this dread was unlike any other he’d felt before.

Fugo watched as Giorno froze from when he’d been speaking, eyes widening before he swung around to stare at a broken pillar behind him. Fugo was confused until he heard soft thumps coming from that direction. Judging by the halt in conversation, the others had picked it up too.

Coco Jumbo’s head emerged from around the other side of the pillar, staring straight at the group as it said, “In short… the enemy’s name is Diavolo, got it?”

There was a muffled cry of shock from his left, likely coming from Trish, as Giorno instantly jerked up to meet the turtle’s gaze, Gold Experience flying out of Narancia’s body to yank the key out of Coco Jumbo before the animal had even finished talking. Fugo held his breath, waiting for whoever was inside to come flying out, but it never happened.

“No! I’m not speaking from inside the turtle,” it continued, taking a slow step towards them. “It’s me. I am the one speaking.”

This was so fucking weird.

“My name is Jean Pierre Polnareff.”

Polnareff? Fugo thought he’d heard that name from somewhere before but he couldn’t remember where. It wasn’t a gang member, that much was certain. He’d memorized all the names of Passione members, whether he was supposed to know them or not.

“I was the one who arranged to meet you here at the Colosseum, but Diavolo backed me into a corner, and I could no longer fulfill my promise.”

The turtle spoke slowly as it climbed further up the broken pillar to perch at the top of it, staring down at the group as it said, “My original body is already dead, over on the second floor. I had to use the arrow’s power, and so I was able to switch spirits with the turtle!”

The arrow? Did it mean the Stand arrow? The one that Black Sabbath used? Did the man receive a Stand that did this? The arrow didn’t do anything else, right?

“Who the hell is this guy?!” Mista yelled from beside Fugo. “Who’s “Polnareff”?!”

The girl’s voice was laced with frustration, and Fugo couldn’t blame him. Things were only getting more confusing with each thing this turtle, Polnareff, said. Come on, he knew that name, think Fugo, think! Fuck, why has he stuck in Abbacchio?! The man’s brain function was horrible!

“Let me just say this first…” the turtle continued. “I only did this because Diavolo left me with no choice. This strange phenomenon that’s happening to all of you right now is a part of the arrow’s power, the arrow I was supposed to give you. I’m desperately hanging onto my soul so I can tell you this.”

“The arrow?” Fugo echoed in confusion.

“So you’re saying this was caused by the arrow?” Giorno clarified for him, eyeing the turtle with obvious suspicion.

“To be more precise, it’s because my Stand, Silver Chariot, took hold of the arrow,” Polnareff explained.

“Wait!” Fugo exclaimed. “I thought that the arrow can only give Stands; if what you’re saying is true, then this phenomenon means that it can only alter the spiritual manifestation of the recipient, but upon touching the Stand, does that mean it changes the very spirit itself?”

The turtle turned its gaze onto Fugo and he was shocked at how cold those eyes were.

“You… you must be Fugo then,” it said. “I had heard you’d returned but… hmm. Interesting.”

“What are you-”

“My body is already dead upstairs,” Polnareff continued, ignoring Fugo’s protests and leaving the boy seething. What, did this guy not think he was worth answering or something?! “The reason I was able to swap souls with this turtle and survive is because of that arrow.”

Narancia darted away from the group, nimbly leaping up a battered stone wall with the kind of speed only he possessed. It was strange to see Giorno doing reconnaissance instead.

“There’s definitely someone in the hallway on the second floor,” Narancia confirmed. “There’s a dead guy who’s been knocked out of his wheelchair.”

A wheelchair…? Fugo could feel the gears in his brain whirring as he tried to make the connection. Polnareff, a wheelchair, the Boss… they were all connected and he’d heard it from someone, when he was somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be…

Fugo heard the turtle exclaim, “It’s only my body? Where is Diavolo?”

“Hey!” Mista interjected. “If everything you’re saying is true, your Chariot can return us to normal, too, right?”

In theory, Fugo agreed that was true, but if the Stand itself had been touched by the arrow, and the arrow gave a person a Stand, then could it not do the opposite as well?

“No… I currently don’t have the power to control Chariot or make it disappear,” Polnareff said gravely, and that solidified it in Fugo’s mind. “I don’t even know where it is right now. Chariot has basically gone berserk.”

“Your own Stand went berserk?” Trish cried indignantly, taking a step forward, scowling. “How irresponsible can you-”

“No,” Giorno interrupted, and Fugo wondered if he was going to say that Fugo had been thinking but then said, “More importantly, what happened with the Boss?”

It wasn’t what he’d expected, but it was still important. Giorno was right; he shouldn’t be allowing himself to get distracted by these mysteries in front of him, no matter how much he wanted to unravel them.

“What happened to him?” Giorno’s voice was getting increasingly louder as it began to sink in to the others that they truly had no idea where their enemy was. “Where is Diavolo right now?!”

“I don’t know,” Polnaredd said. “Diavolo was right in front of me, but he disappeared.”

The turtle seemed to think about what it wanted to say for a second before proclaiming, “All of you, listen very carefully. The arrow is not your enemy, nor is it your friend! What I’m about to explain to you is hope! Such a trivial… trivial coincidence happened two years ago.”

Two years… when Fugo had just been sent on his first solo mission… that pink-haired man he’d felt was familiar, Doppio… and everything fell into place.

“You’re him,” Fugo realized with a start, his head jerking up from where he’d been glowering at the ground in thought to stare imploringly at Polnareff. “You’re the Frenchman the Boss killed.”

Fugo heard gasps of surprise behind him but his gaze was fixed on the turtle, which narrowed its eyes as it said, “How do you know of that?”

“Two years ago,” Fugo began. “I was sent to the coast of Salerno for an assassination. There was a man I encountered while hiding out in a Passione base there. He seemed to not know I was there, talking to someone on a phone. About a silver-haired man the Boss had personally killed himself after digging his nose into places he doesn’t belong. That was you, wasn’t it?”

“Wait, that alone isn’t enough evidence,” Giorno said. “There must be something else, Fugo. Whatever it is, you need to tell us.”

“…The Speedwagon Foundation. That’s it’s name, right?”

“Speedwagon?” Fugo heard Giorno mutter as Polnareff stared at them before nodding briefly.

“It seems you have information but now is not the time,” the turtle said. “However, once this is over…”

Fugo got the message. Maybe digging into that database wasn’t such a good idea after all… and how did Giorno know of it?

“This event,” Polnareff said, “All occurred shortly after that incident you overheard, Fugo. After I was incapacitated by Diavolo, I somehow managed to survive and hid in a small farming village.”

As Polnareff began to explain what he’d witnessed when his Sand was accidentally pricked by the arrow, Fugo focused more on what had occurred with the Stand rather than with the effects it had. Theoretically, if each Stand had its own power, then a Stand pricked by the arrow would likely have a different power as well. Therefore, it was pure luck that Polnareff had learned of what new power it would grant to Silver Chariot and was able to use it against Diavolo; if, for example, Haze was stuck with the arrow, its effect would likely be starkly different than switching souls.

His original theory that perhaps the Stand took on a mind of its own when pricked with the arrow simply didn’t have enough evidence; just because Polnareff couldn’t control Chariot didn’t mean that the Stand was a fully conscious being now. And what did Chariot want with the arrow? Why had it kept it instead of moving on once it had changed form?

“I realized,” Polnareff was saying, “that if someone who had enough power were to use the arrow, they would have the power to control the minds of all living creatures! But I currently don’t have that power. And that’s why I waited… for someone like you who was searching for Diavolo’s true identity. Though, in the end, Diavolo was able to outdo me.”

Fugo wasn’t sure that was entirely true though; if Polnareff hadn’t given the arrow to Chariot, surely the Boss wouldn’t have wasted the chance to kill the man once and for all? In which case, the group would never have learned the Boss’ true identity and they likely would have been left as lambs to the slaughter at the mercy of the Boss, still shrouded in mystery.

“So this controlling minds thing…” Mista said, the confusion evident in his tone. “Do you mean the thing going on right now? It’s just swapping souls?”

“No,” Polnareff answered. “Remember when I said that this was just a part of its power? I can’t control it, so I wasn’t able to see its potential beyond that. But it definitely exists!”

Wait, then that means Fugo’s theory may be right after all; if Chariot was not a complete evolution, but merely a portion of it, then perhaps its form and powers developed before the mind did. Of course, the opposite could be true as well now: Polnareff simply lost control because he wasn’t strong enough to be recognized as Chariot’s master. If that was the case, what were the parameters such abilities were based on? Pure, raw physical strength, or could it be mental fortitude or strength of spirit, of drive? This was just giving Fugo more questions. There was only one way to answer them, and that was to-

“Go retrieve the arrow!” Polnareff commanded, voice filled with conviction. “Stop Chariot before the Boss can and reclaim the arrow! The only way to defeat King Crimson is for you to use the arrow to its full potential!”

“So in order to take back the arrow,” Giorno asked, narrowing his eyes. “You’re telling us to kill Chariot. Am I assuming too much?”

Fugo wasn’t sure if that was true; if Chariot was its own entity, then perhaps the link between the lives of the Stand and the wielder had been severed as well.

It sounded like he would find that out as well when Polnareff replied, “That’s fine. Once you take the arrow, Chariot will be destroyed regardless. Besides, I’ve already been finished off. There’s one other unbelievable and important thing I need to tell you. Are you the girl called Trish?”

Trish’s dark eyes widened in surprise before she said, “Yes, though I currently have hairy knuckles…”

“I see…” Fugo watched as the turtle shifted its head to stare at Bucciarati’s body, still lying motionless on the ground. The longer it took whoever was in the capo to wake, the worse Fugo felt about Bucciarati’s situation.

“The boss is a duo,” Polnareff said when he turned back to the group, shocked gasps echoing around Fugo as the man continued. “There was a kid who was somehow able to transform into you and trick Bucciarati. Diavolo and this kid were like a well-coordinated team.”

“What? B-But how?” Trish stammered. She’d always only ever said that she could sense one person and it had always been when they all had known the Boss was somewhere nearby. It didn’t make sense, Fugo though; was there someone pulling strings behind the scenes or something?

“But that’s impossible,” Giorno protested, and Fugo had to agree with him. “The boss trusts no one. That’s how he kept his identity secret for so long.”

“I’m not sure what happened either, but there was definitely a mysterious kid,” Polnareff insisted. “If it wasn’t for that kid, there’s no way I’d have let Diavolo get that close to me.”

There was no reason for Polnareff to lie about this, Fugo knew that, but the true mystery was in how this ‘duo’ operated. There were too many possibilities but this fact created so many inconsistencies as well that Fugo could barely believe it.

“Two… so the Boss is a duo?” Giorno muttered, half to himself, and Fugo wondered if the boy was thinking the same thing as him. “What’s…”

“Giorno!” Narancia’s firm voice cut through the group, the serious tone only used during battle evident in the boy’s voice. He was looking through Aerosmith’s radar, eyes fixed likely on a glowing green dot as he proclaimed, “Something’s moving! Nine o’clock. Uno signal.”

Narancia was silent for a few seconds before he cried, “It’s a person! There’s a person heading in from the gate on the right!”

As Giorno began instructing the group with hand signals, heavy silence immediately filling the ruins of the Colosseum, Fugo knew it could really only be one of two people. Either this was Bucciarati, coming to help them, or…

He followed Abbacchio as the pair ducked behind a large outcropping of rubble, eyes fixed on the gate Narancia had mentioned. Fugo couldn’t see anything, appearing as a blur of gray and brown objects far off in the distance. While it had been bad in the turtle, the darkness made the problem a million times first. However, when he closed his eyes and focused, there was indeed the sound of footsteps.

“H-He’s… that face!” Fugo heard Trish exclaim in horror and he knew what that meant. Even though he couldn’t see well right now, he’d memorized the features imprinted in the stele so that the man’s face would be forever engraved in his mind.

“The Boss… no, Diavolo!” Trish finished just as Fugo was able to make out a figure. It was still too far away to see the features clearly, but that hair… it was pink. He’d seen that shade of pink before, and not just on Trish’s head.

“Oh my God…” he murmured in shock, realizing that it had to have been the Boss himself that he’d spoken to all those days ago along the canals of Venizia.

“Narancia,” Giorno was instructing, “get Aerosmith behind him-”

“Giorno, wait!” That was Polnareff’s voice. “The left! Look to the left, in the shadows!”

Fugo looked as well, peering into the darkness only to see pitch black staring back at him. He bit his lip in anger, feeling a hand on his wrist and glanced back to see Abbacchio staring at him, half-pityingly, half-apologetic.

“It’s a Stand,” Abbacchio whispered. “Dark silvery gray, looks kind of like a soldier or something. No face that I can see of, but it’s holding the arrow.”

“So there it is!” Polnareff said. “That’s my Stand, which the arrow evolved… Chariot Requiem!”

Requiem? What an interesting choice of names- but this wasn’t the time for that.

“He’s- th-this isn’t good!” Giorno cried frantically. “Diavolo was looking for Chariot! He’s trying to get the arrow!”

Wait, if that was true, and if they all switched souls, why would the Boss’ have remained within his body? It didn’t make sense unless Chariot had a certain radius, but Polnareff had said that Diavolo was right there with him when Chariot had evolved.

Fugo heard the telltale sound of warping that meant Gold Experience had been called out and was about to stop Giorno when Polnareff beat him to it.

“Wait Giorno! Don’t attack just yet!”

The figure running down the hall hadn’t halted in the slightest but as everyone’s attention was drawn back to the pink-haired man, the sound of a zipper echoed through the stone hallway and a blue and white figure emerged out of him.

Fugo would know that sound, that appearance, anywhere, even if it was just simple shapes and not in focus. There was no way he could mistake it.

“That Stand!” Trish cried in shock.

“It’s Sticky Fingers!” Giorno’s voice confirmed it for Fugo and he felt relief course through him.

“Th-that’s Bucciarati!” Narancia yelled, his voice full of hope. “It’s Bucciarati’s soul!”

Chapter Text

There was a thud as a gray lump fell to the ground, split off from the figure of Chariot as Sticky Fingers likely separated the limb carrying the arrow, judging by the glistening golden line held within its fingers. Fugo took a few steps forward out from the shadows to get a better look at it, both the arrow and the arm coming into focus.

“Yes!” Fugo heard Narancia cry from beside him, rushing up to practically leap on Fugo as he echoed the feelings that everyone must’ve been sharing. “Bucciarati’s okay! And he was going after the arrow before the Boss was!”

Fugo could see Bucciarati better now that he’d moved, long black-spotted pink hair and green eyes the same color as Trish’s. He could see the family resemblance. But that shade of pink wasn’t normal, and it wasn’t only Trish it reminded him of. Doppio had had the same color hair. At the time, Fugo had assumed it was simply a strange fashion choice but now… Now he wasn’t so sure. If there were two Bosses…

“The way you’re talking…” the man who must be Bucciarati said, green eyes scrutinizing all of them before honing in on Narancia. “Sounds like it’s Narancia who’s inside you. Am I correct?”

Fugo watched as Narancia’s mouth opened in shock before a wide grin split across his face, the kind of happy expression that looked incredibly strange on Giorno’s features.

“Yeah!” Narancia cried happily, obviously overjoyed that his capo could tell it was him.

Bucciarai’s face softened a bit at the boy’s clear joy before directing his attention to Fugo. “And seeing as you’re right beside him, I presume you’re Fugo?”

“Spot on,” Fugo affirmed with a small nod as he pried Narancia’s grubby hands off of where he was clinging to his back, pretty much holding himself in the air atop Fugo. It was cute but he was too damn heavy to stay there.

“And you all…” Bucciarati turned to look at the other three curiously.

“I’m Giorno,” Giorno said from Narancia’s body, taking the initiative to start.

The click of a tongue sounded from behind Giorno, coming from Fugo’s own body. “Abbacchio,” Fugo heard the man say, as if it could be anyone else reacting to Giorno like that, and didn’t miss the way Bucciarati’s now-green eyes seemed to sparkle at him.

“Ah, I-It’s me, Trish,” the girl stammered out. It was weird to hear Mista sound so timid, even if it was someone else in his body. Especially when Trish didn’t really act all that timid around the others.

“Well done, Bucciarati.” That was Polnareff speaking from where he was held tightly in Giorno’s hands. “You’ve already figured out this bizarre situation.”

Of course he has, Fugo nodded in contentment. There was a reason why he’d made Bucciarati his goal, after all. The man may not have the wide breadth of knowledge that Fugo did, but his strategic thinking, cleverness, and his knack for catching onto things was unparalleled in their group. He was Fugo’s ideal leader, and the model he’d set for himself for years now.

“That voice…” Bucciarati said, sounding shocked but not showing any sign of it on his features when he saw the animal the voice had come from. “Are you the man we were supposed to meet earlier?”

“Indeed,” the turtle said with a small nod. “My name is Jean Pierre Polnareff.”

As the man began to explain what he’d told the others already, Fugo turned his attention to the body still lying far off in the middle of the floor of the Colosseum. As far as he could tell, whoever’s soul was now inside Bucciarati had yet to wake up. Of course, the possibility of playing dead couldn’t be ruled out either. It would give an element of surprise if the Boss managed to catch them off guard that way; they needed to remain vigilant. Fugo only wished he could be the one to do that. He’d have to rely on the others now that he was stuck like this for however long it took to reverse the soul swapping, trapped in a near-useless body that simply felt wrong.

“Wait,” Bucciarati said, sounding like maybe been thinking the same thing that Fugo was. “If our souls have been swapped, then the one in my body is-”

“He hasn’t woken up yet,” a feminine voice said. “He’s still out cold.”

“Are you… Mista?” Bucciarati asked, turning to face Trish’s body from where it stood a few meters away, gun still out and at the ready.

“Yeah.” Mista flashed a quick grin as he said, “Glad, you’re safe Bucciarati. The Boss, Diavolo, who swapped minds with you is being watched by Number Seven of the Pistols. He hasn’t moved an inch. He’s completely out.”

So Mista had been on top of it already. Fugo wasn’t all that surprised; of the eight of them there, Pistols was best suited to monitor the body. Aerosmith was needed to watch the whole Colosseum and the rest of their Stands weren’t long range. And though he always berated Mista along with Narancia for being a complete fool, the man’s observation skills were far superior to Fugo’s own.

There was a strange noise to Fugo’s right and he heard Giorno yell, “Bucciarati!”

Following Giorno’s finger in the direction he was pointing, Fugo could see that the shape of Chariot was moving in the distance from where it’d been knocked over after Bucciarati’s initial attack that took its arm.

“Requiem’s getting up!” Giorno continued, looking frantically at Bucciarati, who was closer than all of them to the Stand and the arrow. “We already know how to use the arrow. If we take control of that arrow, everything will be over!”

Bucciarati’s eyes widened and he gave a sharp now before he broke into a sprint towards the berserk Stand, and Fugo couldn’t help but feel a bit envious at how powerful Bucciarati’s trust in Giorno was. The capo’s arm was outstretched for the arrow when another noise pierced the air, this one familiar. Almost as if Sticky Fingers had activated, but surely it hadn’t; Bucciarati hadn’t called it out.

Fugo heard gasps of shock from the others and Bucciarati’s strangled voice saying something that he couldn’t quite make out. His capo’s voice sounded wrong, and not just because he was in a different body. Narancia had stiffened beside Fugo, fingers digging so sharply into the fabric that he could feel the boy’s fingernails scraping against Abbacchio’s cool skin.

“Narancia?” Fugo asked hastily, worry and frustration welling up inside him that he couldn’t fucking see. “What’s going on?!”

“What? You can't…” Narancia sounded confused before he just shook his head and said, “It’s Sticky Fingers! It just… grabbed Bucciarati. I don’t know why!”

“What?!” Fugo’s head swivelled back to stare in shock at the blurry scene. So he’d been right; that had been the sound of Sticky Fingers. But why had it attacked its own user so suddenly? Bucciarati had never lost control of his Stand before; none of them had. Except, of course, for Fugo himself.

“Pick up the arrow!” Giorno’s frantic cry interrupted the downward spiral of Fugo’s thoughts. “Requiem’s charging at you!”

The sound of a gun firing echoed through the heavy air, Mista’s arms held up with his pistol pointed directly at Chariot. Fugo heard each one of the three bullets hit their mark, making strange glooping sounds as they hit the amorphous Stand and blew it away from Bucciarati and the arrow.

“I’m gonna knock the arrow away!” Mista explained, gesturing with his gun to the side. “Hurry and pick it up!”

No, something was wrong, Fugo thought, that wasn’t the correct move, but before he could even attempt to stop Mista, another shot was fired through the air.

As the gunman fired, Fugo turned to watch Mista closely. If his hypothesis was correct, then that last bullet would never hit its mark. Not Mista’s mark, anyways.

“Mista, stop!” Fugo cried just as something burst through the pillar beside the brunet, the sound of a tiny voice shrieking wild curses cutting through the air as the bullet whistled towards the gunman.

“The pillar next to you!” Bucciarati yelled. “Mista, duck!”

No good, it was too late, there wasn’t enough time for Mista to react and Fugo wasn’t going to reach him in time, the bullet rocketing toward the man’s head-

Just as Spice Girl burst out and punched the bullet just before it collided with Mista’s head, the soft shell bouncing off his temple and onto the ground. Fugo barely managed to catch himself from running into Trish, who’d stepped out at the last second to save Mista and stop the bullet.

The voice hadn’t stopped though, and now that Fugo was close enough to see it, he could make out the form of one of the Pistols, golden form still suspended in the air beside Mista’s head as it shrieked and kicked at its user.

“What the… number one?!” Mista cried. “Where the hell did you come from?! Hey, stop!”

Fugo watched as one of the Pistols flew close enough to knock One off of Mista, his mind racing as he tried to piece together why their Stands were reacting this way. As Fugo decided it was because of either Chariot or the arrow, as if waking from a dream, One rubbed its sore cheek and cocked its head in confusion before asking what was going on.

There were murmurs of confusion from around Fugo and he heard Mista yell. “H-Hey! It’s going to pick up the arrow!”

Fugo couldn’t really see the Stand anymore, just the dark gray shape and a golden blur that eventually turned away and began walking away from them after it picked something up from the ground, likely its own arm.

“What the hell just happened?!” Mista cried indignantly, glaring furiously at the others as if they somehow had something to do with this.

“This must be Requiem’s Stand ability when it’s in berserk mode!” Polnareff exclaimed suddenly, having reached one of the conclusions Fugo had drawn as well. “Requiem has carried on my wish and become a defensive Stand! To make sure no one gets the arrow!”

“Anyone who tries to touch the arrow gets stopped by their own Stand!” Bucciarati agreed, sharp realization in his voice, but Fugo had a feeling that wasn’t all it was.

“The arrow has the power to control your minds… are you saying this is a part of that?!” That was Giorno speaking, questioning the idea as well but in a different direction than Fugo had gone.

“No, I disagree,” Fugo spoke up, drawing the attention of the others to himself as he explained his own reasoning. “Think about it. While turning the Stands against it is indeed protecting the arrow, you could also say it’s protecting the Stands themselves. Did this strange powerup come from Chariot’s power after being pierced from the arrow, or is it the arrow itself? The inability to touch the arrow, the arrow which gives Stands life; surely that’s also part of it? Can it really be said that Chariot is protecting the arrow? Or is the arrow perhaps protecting itself?”

“You might be right…” Bucciarati murmured. “We still don’t understand its power fully, not the arrow or Chariot Requiem; it could be an effect the arrow has on the Stands itself?”

“Oi, we don’t have time for this,” Abbacchio interrupted before they could get too caught up in the semantics. “Now isn’t the time to debate this; we gotta get the damn arrow away from Chariot somehow.”

“So then, how the heck are we supposed to do that?!” Narancia yelled in frustration. At some point, he’d perched himself beside Fugo again, clutching Fugo’s sleeve tightly as he cried, “Our Stands have powered up. B-but, I mean… if we try to get the arrow with that power…”

It would just turn on them. Narancia was right; this was a conundrum. If they couldn’t get close to the arrow with their Stands, they would have to do it themselves but that posed just as many problems and, in Fugo’s opinion, double the risk. And much as he wanted to help, with a Stand like Purple Haze, with his body the way it was right now, all Fugo could do was think. And there just wasn’t enough time to do so.

“Mista!” Another Pistol’s voice broke through the tense silence. “Number seven, the one keeping watch, is freaking out! Bucciarati’s body… is awake!”

Fugo jerked around, and sure enough, he could see the lump that was Bucciarati’s body moving, as if it was trying to get up.

“Diavolo?!” Trish cried in shock. “No way!”

Why? Why did she say no way, Fugo had to wonder. Surely, if the Boss was awake, then she would’ve known first? If Fugo’s theory was correct, and the two could only sense each other's consciousness rather than presence, then when the man woke up, Trish would’ve sensed it. For her to react this way, what-

“We’ll have to go after the arrow later! Position yourselves where you can see his body!” Bucciarati ordered, darting to the stone wall to press his back up against it. Fugo felt Narancia’s grip on his arm tighten as the boy dragged him out of the center of the hallway towards the remains of a pillar for cover before leaping up onto the top of the arch to scan the surroundings.

“Mista! Shoot him now!”

Fugo thought he’d been prepared for that; it was the obvious choice, but it still hurt to hear the capo say it himself, especially with that tone. Fugo had heard that tone before, that time he’d ruined a weapons deal he wasn’t even supposed to be at and Buciarrati had insisted that Fugo flee without him. Bucciarati would’ve died if Abbacchio had shown up just a minute later and Fugo had never forgiven him for that. Not himself, and not Bucciarati. It was as if Bucciarati’s own body meant nothing to him at all.

“What are you doing?!” Bucciarati yelled. “Hurry up and shoot him!”

“B-but that body is yours, Bucciarati!” Mista protested, shaking his head in dismay.

“Bullet wounds…” Giorno cut in before Bucciarati could say anything, staring at their capo intensely as he continued, “Are wounds my Gold Experience can fully heal. We need to make sure he can no longer move. That’s what you’re saying… right, Bucciarati?”

No… no, that wasn’t what he’d been saying. Fugo had heard that conviction in Bucciarati’s voice before; the capo had always been the self-sacrificial type, and he’d had no intentions of returning to his body just then. Judging by Abbacchio’s grim expression from where he stood beside Fugo, the man had recognized it too. Giorno, a newbie who had barely known them all longer than a week, wouldn’t be able to tell. Or maybe he did. Maybe this was just a deflection. No, he realized, this was a deflection. Because it wasn’t the first time Giorno had made excuses for Bucciarati. And it wasn’t just because of loyalty.

There was something Fugo was missing and it infuriated him to no end. He was sure he had all the puzzle pieces, if he could just have a minute to think

“He stood up!” Pistols cried and Fugo looked back to see Bucciarati’s figure… standing? Perhaps it was just because of his vision but… that kind of stance, could it really be called standing?

As the man took a staggering step forward, Pistols yelled, “He’s starting to walk!”

That was obviously all further encouragement Mista needed because next thing Fugo knew, two gunshots rang out through the air and embedded themselves into Bucciarati’s body. It pitched backwards onto the ground, lying there seemingly motionless. There was no pool of blood that formed on the ground though, and judging by the locations of those two shots, although it wouldn’t damage anything vital, they should still bleed profusely…

“He’s convulsing!” Number Seven cried victoriously. “He won’t be able to come at us anymore!”

The sound of feet thumping against the stone floor drew Fugo’s attention and he turned to see that Narancia had leapt down from the arch where he’d been on look out once Bucciarati’s body woke up to move to the entrance of the gated hallway.

“No one else is showing up on my radar. No one’s coming to save him!” Narancia exclaimed giddily, a wide grin across his face as he turned to see Fugo had walked up beside him.

“We did it! Now, once we get the arrow back… it’ll all be over.” Narancia sounded so excited, more so than Fugo had heard in what felt like years. That smile, even though it was on Giorno’s face, was so obviously Narancia that Fugo felt his heart skip a beat.

“Yeah,” Fugo agreed, although he couldn’t bring himself to truly believe that it could be this easy. Still, there was no sign of any allies of the Boss, Bucciarati’s body was immobilized, all they had left was the arrow…

“Hey, Fugo,” Narancia’s voice had softened now and when Fugo looked back, he saw the boy was staring at him with a strange expression. Fugo had never seen that face on Narancia before.

“Once we get back to Napoli…” Narancia trailed off, clearing his throat, dancing around what he wanted to say for a few seconds before he exclaimed, “I’m gonna go to school!”

“You- you what?”

“Yeah! I wanna learn more, see? There’s… there’s a lot I don’t know, and there’s stuff that I want to know so I can- well-” Narancia’s cheeks turned pink as he added, “A-and I wanna eat some piping hot pizza too! Authentic margherita from back home, where it’s baked over an oak wood fire! I’ll get some porcini mushrooms on it too!”

“…I thought you didn’t like mushrooms?” Fugo teased, ignoring the pounding in his heart. Narancia grinned widely before reaching out and grabbing both of Fugo’s hands in his own, clasping them together tightly.

“And then… once we get past this… I don’t think I’d mind you calling me dumb either.”

That… what did Fugo say to that? Being called dumb, an idiot, a fool, that had always been the one thing Narancia absolutely hated more than anything else, although Fugo never really cared about it before. It had been the thing to start so many of their fights and arguments, the reason why Narancia always proclaimed he hated Fugo. In fact, they’d called each other idiots so often that Fugo equated calling his friend an ‘idiot’ to showing his ‘affection’ for Narancia at this point. He’d always believed Narancia just tolerated Fugo calling him that because the boy understood what Fugo meant by it. But if Narancia just let Fugo call him that, without getting upset or angry or- or… that couldn’t possibly mean what Fugo thought it did, right?

Narancia let go of one of Fugo’s hands so he could turn to the others, who must’ve still been surveying the situation, and honestly, Fugo was glad because if Mista had seen that whole interaction just now, he would’ve given Fugo hell for it later. Although maybe Fugo would still get that; Narancia was still holding Fugo’s left hand tightly in his own free one.

“Trish!” Narancia said, waving at the girl to get her attention. “I’m going to protect you until the end!” Narancia paused for a second, flashing a cheeky grin at Fugo before swinging their clasped hands into the air as he cried, “We both will!”

Luckily, Trish just sounded touched at his words and unfazed by the position the two boys were in as she murmured, “Narancia…”

“Oi! Let go of him!” Abbacchio snapped, glaring dagger at the pair and Fugo remembered whose bodies they were both in. “Don’t grab onto me looking like that!”

As Bucciarati hissed, “Abbacchio, not. Now,” Fugo noticed how Narancia just stuck his tongue out before squeezing Fugo’s hand again. This wasn’t good, his heart kept skipping beats; Abbacchio’s body must be worse off than Fugo thought.

“Mista,” Bucciarati commanded. “Just in case, shoot both of his legs too.”

Again, that same tone, four bullet wounds was nothing to laugh at and if this fight took longer than they planned, then it was entirely possible that Bucciarati’s body would give out before Giorno had a chance to heal it. And Fugo didn’t know what would happen to a soul without a body. He didn’t think it was anything good.

Fugo felt Narancia stiffen at his side and offered the boy’s hand a quick squeeze. As hard as this was for Fugo, it had to be worse for Narancia. The boy adored their capo.

“R-right!” Mista agreed, turning to Trish beside him as he quickly said, “Trish, you have my bullets. Give them all to me. They’re inside my boot.”

“S-sure…”

Fugo watched as Trish reached down to Mista’s boot, wondering if there was a compartment for the bullets somewhere inside them or if they were just rolling around in it and how uncomfortable that would be.

As Trish offered a handful of them to Mista, Fugo could’ve sworn he saw her arm instantaneously. He blinked a few times, shaking his head in confusion. He must be seeing things; his vision wasn’t good right now anyway.

“Hurry up, would you?” Mista demanded impatiently, his pistol opened and waiting for a reload. “Come on, hand over the bullets!”

“M-mista, I…”

Fugo heard Trish’s confusion but couldn’t tell what it was that was bothering her. Beside him, he felt Narancia’s hand go lax in his own. Ignoring the little sting of disappointment that Narancia didn’t want to hold hands anymore, he let go so the boy could go do whatever it was that he wanted to do.

There was the sound of something metal rolling around just as he heard a soft thud from beside him.

“Time just skipped ahead a few seconds!” he heard Giorno cried.

Fugo looked to his right where Narancia had been.

The frantic voices of his friends began to dull as his vision focused in on something on the floor next to him. He could see things clearly at close distances and this was only a meter or so from him. There was no mistaking it.

Polnareff was explaining the situation, Bucciarati was yelling about King Crimson, Giorno was questioning Trish about the Boss, and there was a hand next to him.

A severed hand lying on the ground with the remains of a purply-pink cuff hanging around it.

Something wet dripped onto Fugo’s cheek.

His fingers came away blood red when they smeared the liquid across his pale skin.

The world slowed around him as Fugo lifted his head up, numb to his surroundings except the severed hand he’d been holding a second ago and the fresh body suspended a meter in the air above him, dripping crimson red blood onto where he stood.

Fugo couldn’t help himself.

He screamed.

Chapter Text

Fugo felt like the world was crumbling around him.

The second he laid eyes on the body, everything seemed to slow to the point where time felt like it had stopped but only for him. Giorno’s body was suspended a meter above Fugo, impaled on the iron bars of the gates that had somehow broken apart without anyone noticing. One through the leg, one through hip, one through the shoulder, two through the arms… five spikes.

Five death sentences.

Was he still screaming? Fugo couldn’t tell, the noise had blurred into an unintelligible buzz that quickly turned into a sharp ringing in his ears that drowned out everything else.

Something touched him, touched his shoulder or maybe his back or maybe Fugo just imagined it but something touched him and he jerked away like he’d just been burned, stabbed, shot at. Lips pulled back in a feral snarl, violet eyes narrowed and burning with an anger unlike any other Fugo had ever felt before, he reached out and grabbed whoever it was.

Their body was yanked backwards, Fugo’s fingers squeezing around the wrist until he felt like he could snap it in a heartbeat. No one could go there, no one could touch Narancia, Fugo would never let anyone near him again, no one could be trusted, any one of them had lied, was a liar, a traitor, and Fugo knew what to do with traitors, he knew-

A face appeared in front of him and Fugo didn’t recognize it, the sharp green eyes the only thing that he could focus on, everything else a blur of rage and terror that was consuming any rational thoughts he had left.

Hands, hands were on his face, this person wasn’t letting Fugo pull away, even as Fugo tried to yank out of their grip. His lips were moving but Fugo couldn’t tell what he was saying, the only thing he could think was of Narancia, Narancia, Naran-

Something hit his cheek. Hard.

This person had slapped him.

Fugo felt the haze in his brain clear for a split second as rage bubbled up inside his chest, head swinging around to yell, shriek, kill-

“Fugo.”

Fugo stopped. The ringing in his ears was fading away, the angry cloud was clearing from his vision, his cheek stung with a passion, and Bucciarati was standing in front of him looking… scared.

“…Bucciarati,” Fugo rasped, his voice throaty and sore, maybe he really had kept screaming.

Bucciarati’s eyes seemed to lighten as relief passed through the man’s facial features.

“Yes, it’s me. Fugo… Fugo, I need you to breathe. Slowly.”

Fugo was confused, what did his breathing matter, but when he drew in a shaky breath, his lungs burned so ferociously that he wondered if he’d stopped breathing altogether.

“Yes, that's it,” Bucciarati said, his words carefully restrained and devoid of emotion. “Now, you need to send it back, okay?”

What?

“Send Purple Haze back.”

But Fugo hadn’t summoned his Stand, hadn’t even thought of it, but… but now that he could hear again, there was a clear hissing noise behind him. Fugo turned slowly to see Purple Haze crouched behind him, looking all too feral again as if it would attack anyone that came close to it. Its golden eyes were slanted, vapor pouring from its stitched mouth as it hissed and shrieked and violently shook.

He… He had lost control. Again. Haze, as if noticing Fugo was watching it, looked up at him, its eyes bleak and- and sad, and in that instant, Fugo knew. He had lost control… but Haze hadn’t. Haze was… protecting him.

His Stand stood and took a step towards Fugo. Fugo could hear Bucciarati’s sharp intake of breath from behind him, likely from fear, but ignored it. As Haze slowly approached, Fugo reached out his hand.

Despite his capo’s cry to get away from it, Fugo remained still. Purple Haze eyed his hand and, after a second, placed its own within Fugo’s. Haze vanished back inside of Fugo and the grief crushed him.

Fugo felt the ground under his hands before he registered that he’d fallen, his chest constricted to the point of hyperventilation as he desperately tried to hold back everything. A hand came to rest on his shoulder and he looked up to see Bucciarati staring down at him uncertainly.

“I’m sorry.”

It was all Fugo could think to say, all he could really manage to get out right now.

“Don’t,” was all that Bucciarati said back but Fugo somehow understood what he meant. There was no excuse for Fugo losing control like that and yet there was no need for excuses either. Bucciarati understood.

When the capo offered his hand a second later, Fugo took it, observing that his hand was trembling like a leaf but felt detached from his own body. Bucciarati pulled Fugo to his feet, resting his hand on the small of Fugo’s back to guide him towards where the others were.

To where Narancia was.

They’d gotten him down, when had they gotten him down? When had Fugo backed so far away from the gates? How much time had he lost in his rage-fueled haze?

Giorno, Fugo knew it was Giorno but seeing Narancia was almost too much for him to bear, was crouched beside his own body that was lying motionless on the ground as the wounds healed themselves.

“I’m almost done,” Giorno said, his voice devoid of emotion. “It’s good you noticed so quickly, Fugo.”

Giorno sounded like he was pointedly avoiding any mention of Fugo losing it and Fugo didn’t know whether to be thankful for it or not. Instead, he just remained silent as he halted a bit away from the others and tried to control his ragged breathing. Mista was glaring at him but when Fugo made eye contact with him, he quickly averted his gaze and Fugo wondered what he’d done before remembering that he didn’t even really know.

Abbacchio had gone to Bucciarati and the pair were muttering to each other, about what, Fugo didn’t know, but they kept making furtive glances towards Bucciarati’s real body out in the court of the Colosseum. Fugo could guess what they were talking about.

An exclamation from Mista drew Fugo’s attention back to the group and he looked to see that Giorno’s body had opened its eyes.

“You did it!” Mista was saying, relief clear in his voice but Fugo felt his own heart sink.

Whatever the gunman was saying, Fugo didn’t hear it, too busy pushing his way through them to reach the body that once held Narancia’s consciousness. The green eyes were vacant and stared at nothing, even when Fugo lifted the golden-haired head up to stare it in the eyes.

“No…” Giorno had arrived at the same conclusion then, but it was strange to hear the blond’s voice echo from two different bodies at once. “Mista, this is… an empty… shell.”

Fugo couldn’t pull his eyes away from the face that had been so full of life, so bright and joyful and alive just minutes before. Fugo had been right there, he’d been right next to him, had held Narancia’s hand in his own and had believed, in spite of everything, that things might have been alright after all.

That hand was reattached but now lifeless and cold.

“The wounds he received…” Giorno was saying, “have already been healed by my Gold Experience. But… he’s already gone. Narancia… isn’t…”

“No,” Fugo rasped. “No, there- there must be… something…”

“I…” Giorno’s voice trailed off and Fugo watched as tears formed in the blond corpse’s eyes. “There’s nothing I can do… I didn’t make it in time… it’s so empty that I could slip right back in… I could coexist in both bodies… that’s just how… empty this body is.”

As if punctuating his words, ruining the last shred of hope Fugo was holding onto, the blond boy’s eyes flew open and the body Fugo was holding jerked violently in his grasp. There was a soft thud to Fugo’s left and he slowly turned to see Narancia’s body lying motionless on the ground.

Fugo couldn’t throw Giorno out of his lap fast enough, scrambling as quick as he could to Narancia’s side, the Narancia he truly knew, who was familiar and warm and- and- dead.

As gently as he could, Fugo turned the boy’s lifeless body onto its back, holding Narancia’s head in his arms to see those gorgeous violet eyes clouded over. A choked sob struggled its way out of Fugo’s throat as he reached out with a shaky hand to shut them. A drop of water fell onto Narancia’s cheek, rolling down the graying skin before falling to the stone floor and that was all Fugo could take.

He threw back his head and wailed.


Mista had refused to even acknowledge the possibility that Giorno could fail.

He hadn’t failed with Mista, hadn’t failed with Abbacchio, hadn’t failed with any of them… and yet he had, hadn’t he? With Bucciarati. And now with- with Narancia.

It was like Fugo had become a different person- no, less than that. Like he wasn’t a person at all. That first scream, the one that told them all what had happened, had at least sounded human. But Fugo hadn’t stopped screaming.

Something had fallen from the blond’s hand, another hand, Mista realized, as Fugo had staggered backwards clutching at his head shrieking. Those cries had rapidly devolved into something that could only be described as roars.

When Fugo had grabbed Giorno, trying to stop the boy from getting to Narancia, it had taken both Mista and Abbacchio to pull him back, such inhuman strength as if Fugo had discarded any shred of humanity he had within him in his grief. Giorno’s wrist had nearly been broken, large ugly bruises rapidly forming from where Fugo’s fingers had dug into the skin. And then Haze had appeared and things had gotten worse.

Bucciarati had gotten Giorno’s body down from the iron bars at that point, Giorno was free to start healing, but now they had to deal with Purple Haze.

Except when Haze had appeared, it was like Fugo had stopped. The roars and screams softened to whimpers and Fugo’s eyes had glassed over like he wasn’t even sane anymore but he’d at least stopped being violent. And Haze… it had just sat there. Watching them.

Mista was honestly surprised that Bucciarati had talked Fugo down from that.

He’d been expecting to lose both Narancia and Fugo all at once.

With instructions to keep an eye out for anything, anything at all, since the radar was- Mista shook his head. He’d pushed all those thoughts down as he sent out Pistols to survey the area, trying to keep a clear head. He needed to protect them. All of them.

Mista hadn’t realized he was glaring at Fugo until the blond had made eye contact with him. Mista had to look away, guilt swelling in the pit of his stomach. He knew it was because Fugo had hurt Giorno, but even that felt selfish at this point. That shouldn’t matter right now and Mista was disgusted with himself that it had. Especially when that wasn’t even someone he knew. Fugo didn’t look like that, he didn’t look dead on his feet. Like his will to live was gone.

When Giorno’s body had opened its eyes, Mista had truly believed the worst was over.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

It was Giorno’s voice that spoke when its body did, but to hear two voices at once echo the same words at the exact same time was eerie. Giorno’s body’s lips were moving, sound was coming out, but the body was still lifeless. Mista was staring at a talking corpse.

And then, to hear Giorno admit that he hadn’t made it in time… somehow, that held more weight than anything else the blond could’ve said.

Mista had knelt beside Giorno when the blond had re-entered his own body, trying to catch his breath as if his soul hadn’t quite readjusted to this old body that had lain there dead for Mista didn’t know how long.

Giorno was staring at Narancia- no, at Fugo. Who was cradling Narancia’s lifeless body with a kind of gentleness Mista hadn’t thought the blond was capable of showing.

Mista could already feel his own tears start to well up as it sunk in that Narancia was truly gone when Fugo started to wail. He’d never seen anyone, let alone Fugo, cry like that before, big, fat tears, streaming endlessly down the blond’s cheeks as he screamed and sobbed and mourned.

Mista hoped, prayed to any Gods that were listening, that he’d never have to hear such a heartbreaking sound ever again.


So this was what it felt like to be broken.

Fugo’s chest was hollow, barren, the only thing left inside of his heart being nothing. A complete absence of anything at all.

And yet it hurt.

Fugo had felt pain before, felt his insides quite literally turn themselves out, bullets burrow themselves into his flesh, broken bones, concussions, stab wounds, he’d felt them all.

And yet nothing could compare to this.

It wasn’t sharp nor was it stabbing, but the dull pain that ached with every single beat of a heart that should really just die off already was worse than anything he’d ever felt before. It caught his breath, it pounded in his head, it twisted his stomach until he knew he’d puke if there was anything that would come out.

Fugo didn’t want to cry but it just wouldn’t stop. It was like an ocean was flowing out of him, trying to take all the pain and grief but it would never be enough because it would never end. Fugo would hate himself for the rest of his life for this.

For failing Narancia.

“This is too sudden…” he heard someone, probably Giorno, say and couldn’t help but agree.

There were hands on his shoulders and Fugo could hardly clear his eyes long enough to see Bucciarati staring down at him. Bucciarati’s hands reached down to cover Fugo’s, carefully pulling his arms away from where they’d been squeezing Narancia’s corpse too tightly.

The capo knelt beside him, opened his arms, and Fugo fell into them.

It was all too easy to give in and sob, the warm embrace of Bucciarati’s arms enveloping him as Fugo zoned in on the steady beat of the capo’s heart beneath his chest. If only Narancia felt the same way.

Fugo wasn’t sure how long he’d stayed like that but it couldn’t have been that long. There simply wasn’t time for that; Fugo knew that. But it was all so raw.

“Bucciarati.”

Abbacchio was there behind the capo, staring down at the pair of them impassively. Or at least trying to; Fugo could see the pain in Abbacchio’s eyes, in his own eyes. He knew what he looked like, after all.

“I think you should hear this.” Abbacchio gestured to where they’d left the turtle, left Polnareff, perched on one of the pillars.

Bucciarati nodded and Fugo was already pulling away, rubbing at his eyes. His sobs had thankfully died down but he was still crying and Fugo was both enraged that he couldn’t stop himself and relieved that he could feel this way. He was a normal human after all.

Narancia’s head was still there, still resting in Fugo’s lap, and it looked almost like Narancia was sleeping.

Fugo listened to them talk, to Polnareff’s theory of the Boss having split personalities, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. A detached part of his brain, likely all that was left of his rational side, was telling him to pay attention, to help, that there was an inherent clue within all of that but that voice was distant. It was all too easy to shut it off.

“It’s strange…”

Fugo looked up to see Giorno coming over to them, kneeling down to brush his fingers along Narancia’s leg.

“This is dead, no breath, no heartbeat, but… I can sense life within his body. It’s faint but it’s there.”

“Do you think-”

Giorno shook his head before Fugo could even voice his hopes. “It’s likely that his body hasn’t caught up to his soul. The remains of life within it are probably from me… from my soul.”

“But it’s not dead,” Fugo rasped, the gears in his mind starting to turn. “His body, it’s not quite dead. What if… what if we kept it alive? What if the cells didn’t die? Would it bring him back? Is there a chance?”

“I-I don’t…” Giorno’s voice trailed off as the blond examined Fugo’s face before looking away. “I don’t know. It’s not likely.”

“But it’s not impossible.”

“…No. I suppose there would be a slim chance. But Gold Experience can’t-”

“But I can.” Giorno looked at him in confusion. “Haze, it- it can use its virus. The virus can travel independently through his body, it doesn’t need Narancia to have circulation, as long as it can move, I-I can direct it to his cells, I can keep his blood oxygenated, maybe even use the virus to get it flowing again, we just-”

“-have to counteract the replication of the virus within Narancia’s body,” Giorno finished, the boy’s green eyes wide. “Yes, I see what you’re saying. But Fugo, if you aren’t careful, you could be-”

“It doesn’t matter,” Fugo interrupted. “Nothing matters. Nothing but him. Please, Giorno. You have to trust me.”

Giorno’s brow furrowed, a fervent glance shot at the others who seemed to be deciding where to go from here. Fugo could hear them talking about Bucciarati’s body.

“There’s no time; Giorno, please.”

Something in his plea must have worked because Giorno sighed before opening his eyes and Fugo recognized the determination within them.

“We’re going to have to leave you both behind here,” the blond warned.

“That’s fine,” Fugo said. “I wouldn’t have left him either way. We’ll aim for the mouth, alright?”

Giorno nodded. Simultaneously, both Gold Experience and Purple Haze appeared beside the boys. Fugo looked at Haze, his Stand staring back at him expressionlessly. ‘Please,’ he willed his Stand. ‘Please. We can do this.’

“On the count of three,” Fugo said, ignoring the cries of shock from the others behind them. “One… two… three!”

Haze’s fist slammed into Narancia’s open mouth, the telltale cracking hiss of the virus breaking out of the capsule subduing the instant Gold Experience punched the capsule as well.

“What are you both doing?!”

That was Bucciarati, stopping a meter away from Fugo and Giorno to stare at them in horror. Before Fugo could even attempt to explain, Giorno stood. The blond glanced at Fugo before turning to tell the capo, “It doesn’t matter; I’ll explain later. Fugo, do what you can.”

Bucciarati looked like he wanted to argue more but Giorno had already grabbed the capo’s arm and was guiding him away, whispering softly to him. Whatever he said must’ve worked before, after one final look at Fugo, the capo nodded his head and turned away.

The echo of footsteps filled the stone hall as the others retreated after Silver Chariot and Fugo was left alone with nothing but himself, his Stand, and a corpse.

Purple Haze was staring at Narancia’s body, and Fugo could swear it almost looked sad.

“It’ll be alright,” Fugo rasped as his Stand turned to stare at him. “I believe in you, Haze. We can do this. Together.”

Fugo still wasn’t quite sure what Purple Haze’s new capabilities were, just that the virus had changed since he’d accepted Haze as his own. Fugo had gained control but he had gained something more, unlocked some sort of barrier that had prevented Haze from using its full abilities up until now. Fugo had had no way of knowing what it was that had changed, had no test subjects to work with. Until now.

Whatever occurred wouldn’t matter; the worst had already happened.

When Fugo looked up again, Haze was reaching towards him, and before he could do anything, his Stand had touched Fugo’s shoulder, and he knew.

He could feel it; could feel the way the virus, those tiny microscopic capsules, were working their way through Narancia’s mucous membranes into his veins, flowing through the arteries to the lungs and reaching the stagnant blood cells to push them into movement once again. Viruses were not alive and Stands were not alive but it felt… it felt alive. Like the virus had a mind of its own, like the things it was doing were active choices and beyond the normal capabilities of any known real virus.

Fugo heard a soft sigh of breath and knew it had come from Narancia, from this empty shell attempting to breathe again.

By all accounts, that should’ve been all it took and yet the body was still cold. There was still no consciousness within it and Fugo was forced to reckon with something he’d never believed in.

“Do they truly exist,” Fugo muttered to himself, squeezing his eyes shut. “Are souls… real?”

It wasn’t scientific, it wasn’t rational, it denied all logical thought and thus Fugo had never believed in them. Consciousness was simply a behavior formed by the complex synapses the brain sent to the rest of the body; it was not from a soul and not gifted by a higher being. Fugo had always believed in that.

Narancia had not. Narancia had argued on more than one occasion that everyone had a soul, that God is real and watching over everyone, and that good people would go to good places when they died. It was what Narancia’s mother had always told him so it was something that Narancia had wholeheartedly believed no matter what Fugo would say.

He still wasn’t sure, but he wasn’t certain they were a lie now. With the existence of Stands, perhaps souls weren’t so farfetched, perhaps God was real after all, perhaps science wasn’t all there was.

This was the only way to save Narancia, however unlikely it was. Fugo was not above grasping at straws; it was all he could hold onto anymore.

“Please,” Fugo murmured, clasping his hands together like he’d seen Narancia do the few times he’d caught the boy praying. It was just a poor imitation but it was all he could do. “I might be wrong. This might do nothing at all, but at this point, I’ll do anything, give anything. Even pray to something that might not even be able to listen.”

If souls could be real, surely miracles could too?

“So that no one can hurt you anymore…” Fugo whispered, opening his eyes to bend down and rest his forehead against Narancia’s as he felt tears welling up again. “Never again. I promise that I will take you back home.”

Where they would eat margherita pizza and Fugo would teach Narancia math and Narancia would go to school and Fugo would wait for him outside the school gates to walk back home together, laughing and holding hands and walking underneath the jasmine vines that grew along Narancia’s apartment building that he loved so much.

Fugo remembered when Narancia had picked a few of the flowers and given them to Fugo one day, saying that Fugo seemed sad. Narancia had had no way of knowing it was the two year anniversary of when his parents disowned him.

Fugo had cried then and he was crying now.

“Please, Narancia,” Fugo whimpered against the brunet’s skin. “Please. Just come back.”

Chapter Text

When Narancia was five years old, he broke a picture frame of his parents on their wedding day.

It was just an accident, he’d ran into the dresser it was set atop while playing with the little toy plane his mom had given him for his birthday and it just fell off. His father had come in to see what the banging was and had seen the broke frame, the picture with a large tear in it from a fragment of glass and had smacked Narancia upside the head with so much force that he’d landed hard on the ground, his toy plane clattering across the floor.

His father didn’t say anything, just stormed away angrily and slammed the door behind him, leaving Narancia on the floor of his parents bedroom with a throbbing head and a toy plane with one of its wings broken off.

Narancia had crawled over to the precious toy, picking up the wing to try to put it back together but once something was broke, there was just no fixing it, and now it was ruined.

And that was how his mom had found him an hour later, a snivelling mess in the corner of the room cradling his toy in his arms.

She’d scooped him up into her arms, stroking his hair while he cried. When she found the bump from where his father had hit him, she sighed with a troubled expression on her face.

“Forgive them,” she said simply, pressing a kiss to the bump.

Narancia had never liked it when his mom looked sad so he rubbed at his eyes and nodded quickly with a wavering smile and proclaimed himself a big boy who was all better now. She’d grinned at him, setting him on the bed to bend down and pick up his airplane.

Sitting beside him, she rested the orange plane in her lap and put one arm around Narancia to pull him closer.

“Whenever the bad things hurt you,” she said, turning the plane over so it was rightside up. “You can just fly away, okay? Just like this plane. Just close your eyes and fly through the sky until you’re so far away that nothing hurts you anymore. Got it?”

Narancia had eagerly nodded his head.

Satisfied with his answer, his mom had lifted the broken wing and found the crack where it had broken off. She’d examined it for a minute so before placing the wing back into the slot and pushed. There was clicking noise and she pulled her hand away and it was like brand new.

His mom had to be magic, that was the only explanation Narancia decided. And if she could fix a toy with just a single touch then surely she knew how to fix things much worse than that.

There was one day when he was supposed to be sleeping that he’d crept out of his room to get a drink and peered into the kitchen and saw his father yelling really loudly at his mom. He sounded really angry and Narancia knew to be scared when his father used that voice. But his mom just sat there, expressionless, and the next day Narancia’s father came home from work with a big bouquet of flowers and hugged his mom tightly and said he loved her and things were okay again.

“How did you do that?” Narancia had hissed quietly when his father had left the room.

His mom had grinned down at him and said, “I just flew away for a bit.”

So Narancia listened to his mom.

When he got bad grades at school and his insegnante lectured him in front of the whole class, he flew away.

When the other kids stole his lunch and shoved him in the hallways and threw chalk at him, he flew away.

When his mom died, Narancia decided she must have just flown away a little too far, and that maybe if he flew enough, he’d get to see her again.

So he flew away when his father beat him and berated him, he flew away when his friends would make him steal pastries and alcohol, he flew away during his trial, and he flew away from the juvenile detention center nearly every day. There had never been a time where he wanted to fly to his mom more.

Narancia’s memories of living in the streets, digging through trash bins for food, sleeping in dark alleyways, they were all blurry at best. He’d been flying away for most of it. He always thought that was a good thing, that he couldn’t really remember that well, Bucciarati always told him it was.

But when he woke up in the hospital, when he saw Fugo for what was really the first time, eyes and mind too hazy to really see the blond back in the alley and at the restaurant, Narancia thought that maybe, for once, he didn’t really want to fly away.

After all, Fugo was just so interesting, he had all these stories and fairytales that Narancia had never heard before and knew so many things about different countries and different people that Narancia never wanted visiting hours to end.

They would talk for hours about absolutely nothing at all and Narancia would stay there, in the hospital bed, and he’d never felt more alive.

But then the visits started to slow down as he got better and eventually, when he was finally discharged after nearly a month, Bucciarati, who had only come to see him a handful of times anyways but who had left as big of an impression as Fugo had, if not more, had handed a wad of cash and told him to go home. No amount of begging and pleading to stay with them and help them and be useful worked and so he obeyed.

Once again, Narancia started to fly away.

His father wasn’t happy to see him. His former friends weren’t happy to see him. His insegnante wasn’t happy to see him. Absolutely no one wanted him to be back.

Which was just fine, Narancia didn’t want to be back anyways, it wasn’t like he was doing it for any of them, he was just trying to repay his debt to Bucciarati and to Fugo by doing what they said.

But he was always, always, always doing what other people said, wasn’t he?

Maybe that was what Bucciarati wanted him to realize, or maybe it was just something Narancia had needed to learn for himself, but he remembered Fugo and the vague story with as few details as possible about why he didn’t have a family, and wasn’t that because Fugo had stopped listening to other people?

And so instead of flying away, Narancia ran away.

No one really understood why Narancia’s Stand was a plane and Narancia liked it that way.

Mista said that at least the guns on it suited him, since he’d never met someone with an explosive temper like Narancia’s. When Narancia had pointed out that Fugo was worse than him, Mista had shrugged and said they were different.

“That guy… he’s got a lot to be mad about.”

It was super irritating that Narancia didn’t know what Mista meant by that for the longest time.

Abbacchio just hadn’t cared, not even bothering to look up when Narancia tried to show the unfriendly man his Stand for the first time, hoping to make a good impression. Bucciarati, who’d been sitting across the table from Abbacchio, had quickly jumped in and said that it was ‘an in