“What the hell, mom.”
Tomoko Higashikata placed a hand on her hip, frowning. “I’m trying to take a nice picture of you before you leave my daily life forever. Or drop out and come home. You can at least smile for once.”
“I smile plenty!” said Josuke, dropping the box in his arms onto his new bed.
“How’s anyone supposed to know that if I don’t have any photographic evidence?” Tomoko countered. The hand not on her hip held up her phone. “At least take a nice picture with me.”
Josuke scrunched up his nose. “You’re my mom. No.”
Tomoko huffed and stomped towards her son. “I am going to get a damn nice picture of you before I leave you here, or I’m not leaving at all. Suck it up and say cheese.” She threw an arm around his shoulders and tugged down so that his head was level with hers (height was not a trait mother and son shared; he had a good twenty centimeters on her). Josuke gagged. Tomoko snapped the picture.
Arm still around his neck, Tomoko showed Josuke the image on her phone. He frowned at it, then reached up to smooth his hair.
“Is that actually what I look like right now? Delete that,” he said.
Tomoko held the phone up above both of their heads. “Take a nicer one and I will.”
Josuke groaned, as loudly and as obnoxiously as he could. “Fine,” he said.
Tomoko grinned at him (though it was hard to see with their proximity) and then at the camera. “Say cheese!”
Josuke gave the camera his best grin.
Finally, his mother released him. “There, was that so hard?” she said, showing him as she deleted the first one.
He stretched and then rubbed at the back of his neck. “Yes,” he said, mostly because he wanted to be difficult.
Tomoko rolled her eyes at him, then glanced around the room. “That’s all the boxes, right?” Josuke made a vague affirmative sound. “This is a nice place. Better than I got in college. Definitely bigger.”
“That’s ‘cause I have to share it with three other guys,” Josuke said.
Tomoko shrugged. “Still, it’s nice. Doesn’t look like any of your roomies are here yet, either.”
“Probably because we’re here like, a week earlier than most people get here,” Josuke said.
“A day earlier,” Tomoko corrected. “It won’t kill you to be early to something for once.”
“It might,” Josuke grumbled petulantly, sitting down on what he had already decided would be his bed. The other one squeaked, which his roommate would just have to deal with. First come first serve. There was a moment of silence, uncomfortably heavy.
...Josuke had never been away from home for longer than a day. And Tomoko had been wearing the title of “mother” for almost half of her life at this point. “Well,” she said, arms akimbo. “I think that covers everything.” She looked around the room again. “You can do all the unpacking on your own, yeah?”
“Y-yeah,” Josuke said. Shit, he stuttered.
“Yeah,” Tomoko parroted back. Josuke saw her gulp. He bit his lip. “I should get going, then.”
“Yeah,” Josuke said, again. “I guess.”
“Oh, get up, you bastard,” Tomoko grunted, rushing at him. She tugged him up and into her arms, hugging tight around his middle.
“M-mom…” Josuke mumbled. He hugged her back tentatively, and she squeezed harder. He wheezed. She leaned back to look up at him. Her eyes were suspiciously shiny.
“You have to call every day,” she said firmly, like she was ordering him to wash the dishes, or something. “Or at least text.”
“Wow, Mom,” Josuke said, trying to sound sarcastic but mostly just sounding sad. “I didn’t know you cared.”
“Dumbass,” Tomoko said. “I put up with you for eighteen years.” After that, Josuke followed her out of the dorm and back down to the car. She gave him one last hug, one that he returned with much more affection than he would willingly admit to her. She got in the car, rolled the window down, and looked at him for a second.
“Don’t fuck anything up,” she said.
“No promises.” He grinned cheekily back.
She drove off, and he waved as she disappeared around the corner. He’d miss her.
Five minutes later, back in his dorm, his phone buzzed in his pocket. He set down the shirt he was holding and checked. It was from his mom.
Mom: recently deleted folder
Mom: [image attached]
...It was the first selfie she’d taken. Then one where his hair was droopy, and his eyes screwed closed, and his mouth open in an offended gag.
Maybe he wouldn’t miss her so much after all.
Groaning, he forced himself into focus. He had to get all of his stuff set up before his roommate came so that boundaries were set. First thing he had to do was his bed. That was easy enough. Tomoko and Josuke had agreed that it would be smarter to get new sheets. They didn’t have much money for it, but it was better than having to lug his bedsheets back and forth. He chose a plain purple sheet and just took some of his blankets from his room back home. He pulled the sheets out and onto the mattress. Looking at the bed, he noticed how tired he actually was. “A small nap wouldn’t hurt, right?” he asked no one in particular. Josuke shrugged and crawled up onto the newly made bed. It wasn’t all that comfortable, but it was something that he could adjust to. His eyes slowly closed and he fell asleep.
- - - - - - -
Josuke woke back up, and looked at the time. 6:14? Had he really slept for that long? He sat up and stretched his arms and back. Suddenly, there was a loud knock on the door. It sounded as if the knocker was annoyed. Quickly, Josuke got up and ran to the door, but stopping at the small bathroom to fix his hair.
He unlocked the door and pulled it open quickly. He immediately had to look up.
“Josuke Higashikata, right?”
“Y-Yeah,” Josuke cleared his throat, “That’s me!”
The man slammed the small book in his hand shut and shoved it into his pocket, after taking a small note about something. He was tall, very tall. He was wearing a big white jacket, white pants, and a turtleneck. “I’ve been knocking for 45 minutes.” Josuke bit his lip. Wait, why was he here, anyways? He looked too old to be a student, but not old enough to be one of the parents. The mystery man walked into the room and stood there, looking around at the common room of the suite. He sighed, taking off his jacket and cracking his neck. “Good grief, let’s just get this over with,” he held his hand out to Josuke, “Jotaro Kujo.” That name sure sounded familiar. Maybe he was a part of the teaching staff?
“Why are you here?” Josuke asked, not yet shaking Jotaro’s hand.
Jotaro began lifting up some of Josuke’s boxes and opening them, which caused a loud squeal to escape Josuke. Jotaro glared back at him, “Let me ask you this; Do you know any of your family on your old man’s side?” Josuke furrowed his eyebrows. Why did this guy care? Josuke, who was now trying to snatch the box from Jotaro, shook his head. “Let's just say your dad is an idiot.”
“He was afraid to meet you, and so what did he do? Paid for your tuition to come here.”
“What do you mean? My mom and I paid!” Josuke said, getting a little defensive.
Jotaro rolled his eyes and started to unpack Josuke’s clothes and put them into drawers. Josuke didn't stop the older man, since he was doing better work than he probably would on his own. “My gramps, your dad, called your mom and told her that he’d take care of it.”
Josuke crossed his arms. As if he would believe what this guy was saying! He pulled out his phone and called his mother, she was bound to know the answer. After two or three rings, she picked up, “You miss me already, Josuke?”
He rolled his eyes, a small smile on his lips. With a small “mhm” he took a deep breath, “Hey mom?”
“Did my dad pay for me to get into college?”
He heard a gulp from the other end of the call.
“Mom,” he said with a slightly forceful tone, “Please tell me.”
“Yeah, yeah. He did. He offered to pay to let you go to any college you wanted. Ironically,” Tomoko hesitated, “he’s a member of the teaching staff.”
Josuke’s body seemed to stop all functions. His father was the last person he wanted to see here. To find out that he was a member of the teaching staff caused a knot to form in his stomach. Josuke was born as the result of an affair. His mom met Joseph Joestar, his apparent father, when she was in her early twenties and had a brief relationship with him. He never said a word to them after Josuke was born. Apparently he was too busy dealing with other family turmoil. Josuke didn’t care for him in the slightest. “Well,” he said after a long silence, “that’s a surprise.”
“I understand if you’re upset-”
“No, it’s fine,” he sighed. “Look, I have to finish unpacking, so I’ll talk to you later, alright?”
“Okay. Call me when you can. I love you!”
“Love you too.” Josuke hung up and looked back down at Jotaro. “So then who are you?”
Jotaro looked coldly at him, finishing one of the boxes of clothes. “I’m your nephew.”
“I’m sorry, what?” Nephew seemed a little odd, considering that this guy appeared to be much older than Josuke was. Jotaro was still glaring, until there was a soft knock on the door. He got up and peeked out. Leaving the room, Jotaro started talking to someone. He invited people? Josuke thought to himself. He peeked out of his room to see who it was.
It was a man with red hair, glasses, and a little girl in his arms. He smiled as he talked to Josuke’s apparent nephew. While talking, he glanced over at Josuke and smiled. Jotaro noticed and turned around, “Good grief. You can come over here.” He slowly came out from his room. “This is Noriaki,” he said, gesturing to the smaller man, “and the little twerp is Jolyne.”
“Hey! I’m not a twerp! You just said I was your little princess!” Jolyne, the girl in Noriaki’s arms, said defensively.
Josuke realized he was gaping a little, and promptly snapped his mouth shut. This was all too bizarre. “Uh, hi,” Josuke said. “I’m Josuke. It’s nice to meet you both.” He bowed a little in a show of awkward politeness.
“I know,” said Noriaki. “But it’s nice to meet you too.”
“Nice to meet you!” Jolyne parroted.
A beat of silence. Josuke glanced at Jotaro, who looked like he’d removed himself from the situation entirely. He was thumbing through one of the books in Josuke’s boxes. Josuke looked back to Noriaki and Jolyne.
“Um… I like your hair, Jolyne. It’s cool,” Josuke said, not knowing what to do. It wasn’t a lie. She had it up in two cute little twin buns, with braids of dyed green hair looking around them and coming down the back. It looked like it took a lot of time in the morning, and Josuke respected that.
Jolyne smiled. “Thanks! Your hair is cool too!”
Josuke couldn’t help but grin. “You think so?” he said, running a hand over it.
“Yeah!” Jolyne said enthusiastically.
Noriaki chuckled. “At least you two have found common ground. Josuke, Jolyne is your grand niece, technically. And I’m your nephew-in-law,” he said, removing a hand from under Jolyne and holding it up to showcase a ring.
“Oh!” Josuke said. “So you and Jotaro’re…?”
Noriaki nodded. “I hope that won’t be a problem.”
“N-no! Of course not! I mean, I’m kinda… yeah,” Josuke finished lamely, biting his lip. Smiling, Noriaki finally set Jolyne down and she immediately trotted from her father to her… father. Other father. Hat-father. Hm. Josuke watched her go. When Jotaro noticed she was there, he looked down at her, nodded, and went back to thumbing through Josuke’s books. What a weird dude.
“Sorry about Jotaro,” Noriaki said, drawing Josuke’s attention back to the red-haired man. He was also looking at Jotaro and Jolyne. “He doesn’t know how to deal with people. I think he’s trying to give you space, though. This must be a lot for you.”
Josuke chuckled awkwardly. “Yeah, yeah it is,” he said. “I mean, suddenly I’m in, like, the same building as my dad, and I have four more family members than I thought I did? It’s weird.”
“Do you want us to go? To give you some time to think? I can give you mine and Jotaro’s numbers, and I think you might be in one of my classes…” Noriaki mumbled, sticking a hand in the pocket of his slacks.
“You teach here too?” Josuke asked.
“Oh, yeah! Art,” Noriaki said. “So I guess you should call me Kakyoin-sensei or something. But you don’t have to. You’re family, so Noriaki’s fine. Noriaki-chan even, since you’re my uncle-in-law,” Noriaki… Kakyoin… said with a simpering grin.
“N-no… I think that’s okay,” Josuke said, as Kakyoin triumphantly pulled his phone out of his pocket.
Kakyoin laughed a little. “You do have a phone, right? I’ll put our numbers in.”
Josuke nodded, fumbling for it, "Right!” Once he’d gotten it, he put in his password and handed it to Kakyoin. Once entering his and Jotaro’s phone numbers, he handed it back to Josuke. Josuke pocketed his phone and Kakyoin smiled at him.
“It was nice meeting you, Josuke,” said Kakyoin. “We’ll be going now. Call if there’s anything you need, okay?” Jotaro walked over to stand at his husband’s side, Jolyne in his arms.
“Um, right,” said Josuke. He bowed a little, just to be polite. They were all Japanese, it was reasonable. “Thank you for coming. I’m sorry if I caused any trouble.”
“Oh, it’s no trouble,” Kakyoin said, sounding a bit surprised. Josuke couldn’t tell why.
“Bye, Josuke!” Jolyne piped up.
Josuke smiled at her. “Bye, Jolyne. See you around.”
“Sorry about all this,” Jotaro said when Josuke glanced up at him. He didn’t sound very apologetic at all—not that he sounded unapologetic, but he was so monotone all the time that he really didn’t sound like anything at all. “Let me know when you wanna talk to the old man.”
Josuke guessed that would be his… dad. “Right,” he said. “...Thank you.”
After a few more awkward goodbyes, the Kujo family left, and Josuke sighed, walking a few steps over to his bed and promptly collapsing there. He ran a hand over his forehead. His pompadour was starting to come loose, it’d been a long drive over and it was a hot day-—he was sweating a shitton. He’d fix it later. For the moment, he was completely exhausted. He flopped onto his bed and closed his eyes, praying for no more interruptions.
Thankfully there were none for the rest of the day as he continued to unpack his belongings. Afterwards, he broke into his food supply and made some instant ramen, as any college student would. He laughed at his own joke.
He would explore the rest of the campus tomorrow. Today was just a day for getting himself all set up.