“Think Polnareff will be okay?”
Jotaro isn’t sure. “He’s alive.”
Kakyoin is watching him with that expression — the one that Jotaro still can’t read, the one that looks both blank and amused, the one he can recall thinking about with an alarming frequency —
“That’s not what I asked, though.” Kakyoin cocks an eyebrow, huffs out a laugh.
Kakyoin just nudges him slightly, laughs again — then cuts in front of him in their five-person-queue and, if Jotaro is struggling to read Kakyoin’s expressions, he’s even worse at reading the way he feels about that.
So he starts thinking about Polnareff instead.
They’ve just collected Avdol (and Polnareff nearly died). They explained the situation — it was a pretty straight-forward situation — and now they’re boarding a submarine.
And Polnareff won’t stop crying.
Maybe he’s not okay, Jotaro muses, but it’s not like there’s anything he can do about that. Polnareff is alive. They’re all alive. All five of their team have made it this far, which is a feat unto itself, and Jotaro really isn’t equipped to deal with the potential emotional baggage any or all of them may carry.
Also, the spitfire English everyone is speaking gives him enough trouble on a regular day. Polnareff’s sniffling really isn’t making it any more comprehensible. At this point, everything is mostly white noise, peppered through with occasional familiar words and-or straight up sobbing.
Jotaro is so glad he won’t have to talk to Dio to kick his ass.
“....and you just let me grieve,”
“Why, Jean, I thought it was very sweet — “ his grandpa’s loud, booming voice snaps Jotaro out of his reverie. “Oh, Avdol, he wrote poetry about you — “
Avdol perks up, glances down at the sobbing man still glued to his side. “Did you?”
Polnareff looks up from where he’d buried himself into Avdol’s chest, glares at Jotaro’s grandfather. “Mister Joestar! I showed you that in privacy!”
Avdol looks almost bashful. The old man is laughing, hands clasped to his chest —
“Private poetry readings with emotionally compromised French youth, huh.” A voice, from up at the submarine entrance. Jotaro watches his grandfather freeze. Summons Star Platinum. “I’ll make sure to include that in my report to Suzie.”
His grandpa spins around, pallid and slack-jawed — Silver Chariot slides in between him and the stranger, takes up a defensive stance.
Jotaro’s mind jumps to Kakyoin, who’d gone in first. His heart feels like lead.
Then he realizes Magician Red is nowhere to be seen, and neither is Hermit Purple. And while his grandfather still looks shell-shocked, Avdol is simply looking up in mild amusement.
Jotaro allows himself to relax. But only slightly.
“Oh my god,” his grandfather says.
“Not quite,” the man at the entrance cocks an eyebrow. “Though I hear there’s a man claiming to be one somewhere in Cairo.”
He seems to be in his fifties. Blonde hair streaked through with grey. Lilac touches to his cheekbones. A pair of green eyes, focused and inquisitive.
“Jesus christ, Caesarino,” Jotaro’s grandpa finally says. “What are you doing here?”
The man — Caesarino? — crosses his arms, cocks a hip. “What do you think?”
“I - “ The old man turns around dramatically, flails at Avdol. “You!”
Avdol is studying his nails “Me?”
Polnareff meets Jotaro’s eyes.
They both withdraw their Stands.
“I made him tell me,” the man walks forward, back perfectly upright.
“How’d you know to call him?”
“Your secretary told me,” they’re face-to-face now; the man is smiling. “She liked my accent.”
Jotaro’s grandpa fakes a vomit noise.
“Oh, cut it out,” The man crosses his arms, face serious again. “Did you really think I wouldn’t find out? Did you think — what — Suzie and I never talk?”
Old man pulls a face. Seems to gesture towards Jotaro — because then the man is looking at Jotaro too, and seems to falter.
“Leave me here and I tell her,” he recovers quickly. “Try anything — I’ll tell her, Jojo, do not test me.”
To Jotaro’s absolute horror, his grandfather whines. “But Caesar — “
“But what,” the man — Caesar, apparently — mocks his tone. “You haven’t used Hamon in half a century — “
“I have a Stand — “
“Are you planning on kicking this one into space too? I haven’t heard of many active volcanoes in Cairo — “
“ — and you don’t even see them — “
“I’ll just trust you to be my eyes, then.” Caesar cuts him off with a smile. Nods towards Jotaro. “Now introduce me to your grandson.”
Caesar sighs. “Guess I’ll do it myself, then.” His head shake is almost fond. “Idiota.”
“Remember Wamuu — “
“Remember the Oil Pit?” Caesar is already walking towards Jotaro (Jotaro brings Star Platinum out again). “Remember nearly falling to your death down that cliff in Switzerland?”
“The Oil Pit?” Polnareff is repeating. Jotaro relates.
“Oh, I remember Switzerland, alright —”
Caesar spins around to yell something in Italian — Jotaro’s old man flushes at that, turns around to pout.
Jotaro wants Dio to be here now.
“Hello,” Caesar has reached him. His expression is more relaxed now — his shoulders are tense, though. “So you are Jotaro.”
He reaches out a hand. Jotaro studies it.
Doesn’t take it — locks their eyes instead, grunts.
“Who are you?”
The man doesn’t falter — cocks an eyebrow, though, smirks.
“Caesar Antonio Zeppeli,” he drops the arm. “I am a friend of your grandparents.”
I can see that, Jotaro says nothing.
The man frowns then — eyes flit about, and for a frightening second Jotaro thinks he’s looking Star over for weaknesses, but then he opens his mouth again, and what comes out is heavily accented Japanese.
“Is this better for you?”
Jotaro’s eyes widen before he can stop them.
The man looks smug.
“Good grief,,” Jotaro says, and hears his grandpa laugh. “Welcome aboard.”
He goes to find Kakyoin before anyone can catch up with him.
They all settle in in relative silence — well, physical silence, at least. Polnareff keeps shooting scandalised looks left and right; seems to have caught onto the fact that mister Joestar’s friend can’t see stands so the Chariot is out now, tugging repeatedly on Avdol’s sleeves.
“Tell me,” he whines into Avdol’s ear.
Avdol swats him away. He’s done this many times, in the last ten minutes.
“You can go introduce yourself properly,” he adds. “I’m sure he’ll tell you anything you want to know.”
“Yeah, but I want to know if they’re banging.”
Avdol cocks an eyebrow.
“Oh, come on, Magicians Golden Shower.” Polnareff huffs, crosses his arms across his chest. “Don’t act all high and mighty. I know your real nature now.”
Avdol refuses to let that nickname stick. “If you want to imply that mister Joestar might be unfaithful to his friends face, well, be my guest.”
Polnareff seems to be considering it.
“Don’t,” Avdol hurries to add. “Don’t do it.”
Kakyoin and the newcomer — Caesar Antonio Zeppeli, Avdol knows him to be — seem to be hitting it off. Caesar is recounting a story, gesticulating with sharp and precise movements; every so often his eyes flash to mister Joestar, who is watching them with feigned annoyance, and he winks.
Kakyoin seems equally enthralled with the story and whatever the nature of the relationship between these two is.
Avdol has a few ideas.
“But for real,” Polnareff is back in his ear. “Look at them.”
“I’m looking,” Avdol responds.
When he looks over, Polnareff gives him a shit-eating grin.
Waggles his eyebrows. “You are, huh?”
Avdol decides to play along. “Mister Zeppeli is holding up very well for his age.”
It’s not a lie, either. The man’s thighs are unfairly toned.
Polnareff’s face wavers for a moment. “Oh, yeah? Well —”
They’re interrupted by a muffled ‘oh - my - god’ — mister Joestar slides back in his seat, legs scraping against the floor.
“This,” he points at Zeppeli. “This is why I didn’t want you to come!”
“Really?” Zeppeli looks incredibly smug. “Because all your proteges will think I’m attractive?”
“All?” Polnareff scoffs.
“Proteges?” Avdol asks.
Kakyoin just shrugs, like he can’t deny it.
Jotaro’s cap is over his face.
“Because — oh, shut it.” Joestar jumps up, marches towards the nearest door. “You and I, in private, now!”
Caesar watches him stomp off — his eyes do stray a little lower than the man’s back are, and Avdol starts wondering if the impromptu gossip session really was onto something — then he flashes Kakyoin an apologetic grin, excuses himself.
“So,” Polnareff says, once they’re gone.
“Yeah,” Kakyoin says.
Polnareff hesitates. “Yeah?”
“You think he’s hot?” Jotaro asks.
Kakyoin shrugs. “I mean.”
Jotaro mutters something. Probably a ‘good grief’.
“What,” Avdol nudges Polnareff. “Not your type?”
Polnareff scoffs. “I’m not a denture-chaser, thank you.”
“Why, all those teeth are real,” Kakyoin responds smoothly. “Apparently, Hamon keeps him young.”
“Hamon?” Polnareff asks.
Kakyoin nods. “An ancient fighting technique — apparently, mister Joestar knows it too, but has been slacking off — which is why mister Zeppeli looks so much younger, despite being two years mister Joestar’s senior.”
“Those are his exact words,” Jotaro mutters.
Kakyoin just shrugs again. He looks smug too.
“You guys don’t really,” Polnareff looks about. “You don’t really think mister Joestar could be — Jotaro, don’t kill me, but — “
“Gay?” Kakyoin asks, the same time as Jotaro says, “A cheater?”
Avdol is glad he stayed quiet.
The boys stare each other down.
“I was going to say, uh, a player.” Polnareff is a bad liar. “But, yeah, sure.”
“He better not be,” Jotaro says.
“What?” Kakyoin asks, eyebrow elegantly curved. “Gay, or a cheater?”
Jotaro doesn’t respond.
“He’s clearly not gay,” Polnareff says. “He has a wife.”
“In America,” Kakyoin says.
“What are you implying?”
“Shut up,” Jotaro says.
“I am uncomfortable with this conversation continuing,” Avdol says. Plus, he’d die if the men overheard.
“It is not unusual for rich businessmen to have affairs on the side,” Kakyoin is still talking. “I know my mother isn’t —”
Star Platinum flips the table over.
Kakyoin sighs, as if Jotaro were an attention-starved cat.
There’s a customary knock on the door.
“Are we under attack?” Mister Zeppeli’s voice comes from the other side.
“No,” they say, in unison.
A moment of silence. “I am having trouble believing that.”
“Go fuck Jotaro’s grandpa about it,” Polnareff mutters; Star kicks him on the head. “Ow!”
“Alright,” mister Joestar’s voice is here now too. “We’re coming in.”
Silver Chariot is trying to steal Jotaro’s hat. Kakyoin has Hierophant holding the six cups of coffee out of danger’s reach, ”Please, we have no extras, if you break one you’ll be drinking out of your hands, —
Avdol goes to open the door.
Joseph was unconscious, they were under attack, water was filling the submarine, Joseph was unconscious — and now, the phone was ringing.
No one dared move.
Caesar, who was still testing the waters — pun not intended — was just about to tell them the phone was probably not a Stand, since he could see it, when Jotaro stepped in and picked up.
Right. He sure was Joseph’s kin.
“Cazzo — “ Caesar cursed — Joseph, currently unconscious, hung like a heavy weight at his side.
The phone remained a phone. Everyone exhaled.
Jotaro did not, though. Caesar watched, fascinated, as his eyes widened in frozen panic, the rest of his face as impassive as ever.
He reached out a hand. “Who is it?”
Jotaro met his eyes. Wordlessly handed the phone over.
“Joseph?” Suzie’s voice came through the receiver — the familiarity of it made Caesar relax a smidge.
“Caesar,” he smoothly recovered — heard a sharp intake of breath, a laugh. “But you can call me anything you want.”
Panic in Jotaro’s eyes shifted into the look of alarmed disgust only a kid watching their grandparents flirt could actively emote.
“Oh, you.” Suzie laughed. “Thought there was something shifty about that …. business trip of Joseph’s.”
Caesar chuckled — god, he hated lying to Suzie. “He’s not as good of a liar as he thinks.”
Water was up to their ankles now. Polnareff, distracted, stared at him with mouth agape.
Fucking hell. Even Kakyoin seemed distracted by the apparent hot gossip, but he was freshly injured so Caesar would let it slide. Thank god for Avdol.
Avdol was staring him down too. Nevermind.
“So…” Suzie cooed. “What’s that noise? Movie night?”
“You know us well,” Caesar shifted Joseph to fit more comfortably against his side. “Well, bellissima, I am a little busy right now so — “
“Oh, say no more.” He could imagine her salacious eyebrow waggles. “Say hi to Joseph for me, will you?”
“Anything for you,” he started gesticulating for the crew to move out. “You’re doing well?”
“Always,” she laughed. “Have a good night, you home-wrecker.”
She hung up with one last chuckle. Caesar handed the phone back to Jotaro, started tugging Joseph towards the door.
The lazy fart could explain the situation to his grandson himself.
“If I were thirty years younger — “
Caesar couldn’t help it. Let out a bitter, exasperated laugh — Joseph looked at him, clearly alarmed.
“Oh, that’s rich — “
Joseph’s eyes flew to his grandson. Begging. “Caesar.”
“Caesar?” Kakyoin’s spoke up before Caesar could sober up. “God, nearly forgot that’s what his name is.”
Caesar got the message.
Kakyoin was still talking, addressing no one in particular. “Did they forget their pet names on the submarine?”
Caesar started wishing the Stand would hurry up and kill them.
Jotaro caught his eyes, then. The hamon bubble Caesar had instinctively shot out, not a moment ago, still enveloped both the boy and his stand, preventing the rock teeth from grinding them to dust.
(“You might be useful after all,” Polnareff had noted.
Caesar couldn’t even get insulted. He was just tired.)
He’d insisted Polnareff take his scuba diving equipment, back when they realized the Priestess had been impersonating his own — Hamon allowed him to not drown but did little to improve his vision, which was why he didn’t realize he couldn’t see the underwater tunnel — ha — which would have alerted them, in a better world, of it being a Stand at work —
Not that it would have helped them much. The size of this thing was incredible.
“Let me out,” Jotaro was saying, back in the present moment.
Caesar frowned. “Are you sure?”
Caesar ignored Joseph’s frantic protests — burst the bubble keeping Jotaro safe, formed it around his head, like a visor.
Rocks started crumbling.
“You look like an astronaut,” Joseph told him, once they were out of the sea ground’s maw — then he turned around, as if hearing something Caesar couldn’t, and spluttered at Polnareff indignantly.
Caesar cocked an eyebrow (still reeled at the thought of those teeth shattering into pieces, seemingly on their own — Stands scared him, sometimes. Jotaro’s stand, especially.)
(So much power. So little experience.)
Not to mention his teeth were nowhere as sturdy, and if the boy went on thinking he was disgracing his grandparents marriage — well.
Joseph and he might be getting dentures together after all.
“Are you speaking through Stands again?” he asked, presently, floating up at a speed none of the group could match — flaunting his Hamon technique was the only thing bringing him peace today.
Joseph was still red. Affirmative.
“Polnareff just commented there’s a certain planet you look like you’d enjoy visiting,” Kakyoin supplied. He looked very at ease in the water. Sort of like a siren, one of those unsettling ones.
“Ah,” Caesar could recognize a vague pun. He knew of the Uranus jokes. “I hope it’s the sun, cause I’d love to fling you all into one.”
Jotaro grumbled. “Not a planet.”
Polnareff made a curious noise. “No?”
“It’s a star,” Avdol told him.
“But is it platinum?”
Caesar hadn’t been joking about the sun.
“He reminds me of you,” Caesar told Joseph, once they were out of the water. “Polnareff.”
Joseph ran a hand through his damp hair, beamed at him — in direct sunlight, smiling, he could have passed for a young man again. “Dashing?”
Caesar decided to ignore the comment. Never let Joseph around a twenty-year old again.
Polnareff was yelling about going to see if the stand user was hot.
“You know,” Joseph shrugged. “I have nothing to say for myself.”
Caesar rolled his eyes.
“He reminds me of you, funnily enough,” Joseph added. Raised his voice to address Polnareff, “Is she hot or what?”
Caesar swatted his wet jacket at him.
“Oh, don’t bother looking — “ Polnareff was saying. “Her teeth are all — “
Caesar could taste his own teeth breaking again.
“Bold claims,” Kakyoin was gently detangling his hair. “For someone with no eyebrows.”
Polnareff’s face belonged on a tourist mug. “Hey!”
Kakyoin ducked away, failing to hide a smug smirk — Caesar caught a glimpse of Jotaro’s own amused smile, a fond smile, eyes trailing after the other boy.
Decided not to comment. Doubted they’d react well.
Five men formed a line, staring ahead — Egypt. Egypt, finally.
Caesar felt Hamon surge through his veins. Thought of Holly. Thought of his father.
He stepped forward, and joined the line.
They got three double rooms — Polnareff and Avdol took one immediately, and then Caesar asked Jotaro if he and Kakyoin would like to share, and Jotaro simply stared him down.
“Would you like that?” Kakyoin was the one to respond.
Caesar said nothing as he took one of the remaining keys, tugged Joseph away.
He hated this.
“You need to tell him,” Caesar said. “You need to tell him, tell them, or you need to let me tell them —”
Joseph sat down on the bed, saying nothing.
Caesar piped down.
“I can’t do this anymore,” he finished. “I think your grandson might kill me.”
“You’ve lived through worse,” Joseph said.
Caesar, at this point, doubted it. “I had no qualms about hitting the Pillarmen back.”
Joseph put his face in his hands, groaned. “That’s a fair point.”
Caesar watched him in silence.
“I — “ Joseph’s voice came out shaky. “I hate it too.”
Caesar bit on his cheek.
“But — “ Joseph sat up again, face red. “If — they’re not happy about this, so far.”
“Of course not,” Caesar snapped. “They think you’re cheating on Suzie.”
“I know,” Joseph was hiding his face again.
And they aren’t wrong, “I will not act as your side-chick, Jojo.”
Joseph cracked up at that.
“Okay, but —” Joseph’s face fell again. “What if they…”
He trailed off.
Caesar wandered at Joseph’s stupidity. For such a proven genius, he sure could be daft.
“You think they’d still disapprove,” Caesar said. “Because we are both men.”
Joseph’s face dusted red. He didn’t deny.
“Jojo,” Caesar sighed. Walked over. “Jojo, they are not homophobes.”
“How’d you know that?”
Caesar wanted to laugh.
“Jojo,” he knelt down in front of the love of his life. Restrained from smacking him. “Jojo, none of them are straight.”
Joseph, of course, wouldn’t believe it.
“What?” He was pacing around the room.
“You can’t know that —” he spun around then, pointed an accusing finger. “Unless —”
Caesar met it with a deadpan look. Sighed.
“Yes, Jojo.” He slid back until he was lying on his hip, cocked an eyebrow. “I had an orgy with all four of your compatriots.”
Joseph made a face.
“Just kidding,” Caesar winked. “Only Avdol and Polnareff — had to turn the other two, since they are children, though they did make a compelling case by reminding me sodomy was illegal here regardless of one’s age and, you know, in for a nickel…”
“You’re making fun of me,” Joseph deduced.
“No shit,” Caesar responded. Yawned. “Jojo, are you really that insecure?”
He didn’t need a response to that.
“Why do you think they’re gay?” Joseph’s voice was low when he asked.
Caesar took pity. Sat up, motioned for the other to join him.
“I never said they’re all gay,” Caesar said. “I’m sure Polnareff has a wide range of preference — not sure about Avdol — “
“But you think they’re…” Joseph faltered at the word.
Caesar was finding it harder and harder not to laugh. “Jojo, you did not spend the last forty-five years taking it up the ass to blush and the mention of the word —”
Joseph pressed a hand over his mouth. “Not so loud.”
Caesar remembered where they were. Conceded.
“Polnareff won’t stop talking about hot chicks,” Joseph went on.
Caesar hummed. “Or ogling Avdol.”
“Don’t tell me you didn’t notice.”
“He —” Joseph’s brow furrowed. “Well, there was that poetry.”
Caesar beamed at him.
Joseph shoved him. “But he was feeling guilty!”
“And a little horny, I bet — okay, sorry!” An invisible tentacle-like appendage slapped him across the face again — Caesar glared at his husband. “Will I need to use the safeword?”
Joseph blew him a kiss.
“Okay,” he grew serious again. “But Avdol isn’t responding…”
“Avdol is playing hard to get,” Caesar snorted. “As would I, in his place — watching Polnareff struggle is hilarious.”
“But — “
“Do you really think,” Caesar interrupted. “Avdol would be as quick to insist they share a room if all he did about Polnareff’s attention was turn him down?”
Joseph’s eyes widened.
“Yeah,” Caesar said.
“I was blinded,” Joseph make excuses. “Sidetracked.”
“Yeah,” Caesar agreed. “Anyways.”
“By you, mostly.”
“Oh, I’m more distracting than an undead vampire?”
Joseph winked. “Always were.”
Caesar rubbed his face, faux-exasperated. Hated that he still blushed.
“Also, I think all vampires are undead.”
He laughed. Stopped. “Okay, let’s say they’re…”
“Gay,” Caesar supplied.
“That,” Joseph was lucky his blush was so adorable. “What about Kakyoin?”
Caesar gave him a deadpan stare.
Joseph worked up some indignation. “You can’t assume, just ‘cause he’s feminine — “
“I’m not assuming it’s because he’s feminine —” Caesar shook his head. “His idea of flirting with Mildred was comparing her to Audrey Hepburn.”
Joseph fell quiet at that. Seemed to mull it over for a few seconds.
“So?” he finally said. “She is hot.”
Caesar watched him, marvelled at his own terrible taste in men. His fetish for stupidity? His intellectual masochism?
“Jojo,” he said, matter-of-factly. “She’s a gay icon.”
“She’s a cultural icon — “
“See? That’s the gay in you talking,”
“You’re really worried about this, aren’t you.” He stretched out his leg, pressed it against Joseph’s.
Joseph pressed back. Drew in another breath.
“Jotaro is my only grandson,” he said.
“You saw how he acts,” Joseph went on. “He’s….all, you know.”
Caesar knew. “He’s all what?”
“You know what I mean,” Joseph huffed. “Tough guy. Macho. Western flick-er.”
“I don’t think that’s a word, caballo.”
“Stop calling me a cabbage.”
“Plus, he’s sixteen,” he reached out then, squeezed Joseph’s thigh. “That’s how sixteen year olds act.”
Joseph didn’t seem convinced. “Kakyoin doesn’t.”
“Kakyoin isn’t the half-American living in Japan, bambino.”
Joseph sucked in a breath. “Point.”
“Probably gets enough negative attention without acting, well.” Caesar’s turn to avoid words. “You know Japan isn’t fond of foreigners.”
“Bold words, for an Italian.”
Caesar shot him a glare. Why or when he had to leave his home country was not a topic he was happy to revisit.
“But,” Joseph seemed to sense it. “You think it’s an act?”
“I know it’s an act,” Caesar laughed. “Not saying he’s, necessarily, hiding some flamboyant tendencies but — for god’s sake.”
Joseph said nothing.
“He won’t take that uniform off even in the worst of the heat. He smokes through packs of cigars like he doesn’t need lungs to live.” Caesar shook his head. “He’s acting a fool to appear tough. Like a child would.”
“A real big child.”
“A child nonetheless,” Caesar flicked Joseph on the forehead. “You hear me?”
Joseph glanced over.
“He’s big and tough and his stand crushes teeth, now, apparently, but he’s a kid,” Caesar frowned. “You should have seen him when Suzie picked up — he looked so out of his depth — “
“Pun,” Joseph piped up.
Caesar smacked him. “This would be a lot for everyone. It’s way too much for a teenager.”
Joseph looked away.
“I shouldn’t have taken him on this trip,” he muttered.
A part of Caesar agreed.
The other part told that part to shut up.
“Bambino — “
“First I’m old, now I’m a baby?” Joseph tried a smile — it would have fooled anyone but Caesar. “God, Caesarino, make up your mind.”
“You are both,” Caesar allowed a momentary distraction. Brushed a strand of hair from Joseph’s forehead. Let it rest against his cheek. “You grew old. Never up.”
Joseph leaned into the touch. “Yet you stick with me.”
“Well,” Caesar smiled. “Guess I just fell for you.”
Joseph kissed him.
Caesar kissed back. Few more moments of distraction, then.
Pulled back for air a while later — rested the hand on Joseph’s chest, kept him at bay.
“Hey,” he said. “You did right to bring Jotaro with you.”
“Have you been thinking about my grandson while we were making out?”
“You remember how your mother’s attempts to keep you away from danger turned out,” Caesar ignored him. “Or my father’s, with me.”
“Abandoning me because of my age is bad enough, but to go after my kin— “
Caesar kissed him again. Told himself it was just to shut him up.
Joseph was the one to pull away first this time.
“What do I tell Holly,” he whispered. “If I come back without him?”
Caesar didn’t know what to say.
“Have you been thinking about your daughter while we were making out?” Being annoying it was.
Joseph rolled his eyes.
“You tell her nothing,” Caesar wove their fingers together. “Because it won’t happen.”
Joseph was chewing on his lip.
“Stop that,” Caesar pried his jaw open. “You’re running low on lip-balm.”
“Oh, my lips are not soft enough now…”
Caesar rolled with it. “If I wanted to kiss craters, I would’ve boarded that crashing plane with you and Kars — “
“I should have married Suzie for real, she’d never treat me like this — “
“Maybe if you kept your Hamon training up —”
“What’s next?” Joseph cupped his cheeks, started squishing them. “My hands too rough?”
“Kind of,” Caesar pushed him back, straddled him. “You’d think having only one would make it easier to moisturize, but alas —”
“Ugh,” Joseph rolled his hips. “Should’ve left you home.”
“You did,” Caesar ground down, viciously.
Joseph’s fingers dug into his thighs, gasped.
Caesar cocked an eyebrow. “Don’t pull a hip, old man.”
“You’re older than me —”
His quip was lost to another gasp. Caesar grinned to himself, ran a hand down his chest.
“What was that?” He teased.
Joseph was glaring up. “Whose hearing is going now?”
Loud bang on the wall, from the room next to theirs.
They both froze.
“Wish mine was,” Jotaro said, a wall away.
Silently, Caesar slipped off Joseph’s lap.
“I just want you to know,” Caesar addressed Joseph as the latter glanced up at the skies, giving a faux-casual whistle. “That I am only not taking a picture of this out of my utmost respect for mister Avdol.”
Avdol, whose face was still glued to the front of Joseph’s crotch, was not opening his eyes (he’d screwed them shut the moment he saw Caesar approach, visibly mortified). Nodded.
“Thank you, sir.” His hands were curled into fists. “I appreciate it.”
“Need any help?” he asked; Joseph shook his head, still blushing furiously.
“We have it!”
“We don’t,” Avdol was saying. “You need to find and defeat the Stand user.”
“Avdol!” Joseph looked betrayed (god, their position was so suggestive).
“She is a young woman, dark skinned, with a red hood,”
“And great legs!”
“Mister Joestar, that’s really not an adequate descriptor — “
It was then that a woman Caesar’s age approached them, screaming profanities.
Caesar let her hit Joseph a few times, for it wasn’t that he didn’t deserve it, and then gently led her away, muttering quiet apologies for his acquaintance’s terrible behaviour.
“The cheater!” she hollered — and, again, was not wrong — Caesar kept nodding along.
“He is an embarrassment to his family,” he linked their arms. “His poor mother — and wife!”
She gasped, “He’s married?”
The woman turned around again, to yell some more. “Did you plan on making a second woman out of me, you — oh, where’d he go?”
Caesar spun around too. The place where the two men had not a second earlier been grinding against was, indeed, empty.
Caesar cursed. “I’ll need you to excuse me.”
He couldn’t find them. Found a small Jotaro, though, beating up a man, and dutifully stood by as it happened.
“Want some ice cream?” he asked, once both Jotaro and Polnareff were back to their adult forms.
Jotaro pulled his cap down.
“You do know we’re no longer kids?” Polnareff scoffed (he was avoiding everyone’s eyes). “Well, I guess Jotaro is…”
They were both kids, as far as Caesar was concerned. “Was that a ‘no’ on the ice-cream, or…”
The two men exchanged a look.
They got ice-cream. Ate it in silence, waiting for the other party members.
“He turned a woman into a foetus,” Polnareff said.
Caesar could empathise — what an unsettling ability. “Should’ve asked him to make Joseph younger.”
Polnareff chuckled. “Not what he used to be?”
Caesar noticed the two familiar figures approach them from afar, stood up to dust off his coat. “No, no matter what he’d have you believe.”
Polnareff laughed again.
(Caesar was glad to see the old Polnareff back).
“Maybe he’d take Hamon more seriously, now that he knows what aging does!” Caesar all but shouted.
Joseph, still a good few feet away, noticed. “Hey! I can hear you!”
“A real miracle,” Caesar retorted (he could hear Jotaro snorting). “Considering how decrepit you’re getting...”
Joseph gave him a hamon flick on the forehead. “I’ll have you know I’m still as spry as ever.” He then switched to his messy Italian, winked. “Thought you’d remember.”
Caesar cocked an eyebrow. “Might need a reminder.”
Polnareff yawned then, muttered something about English, please, or at least slower foreign jumbo — Joseph checked quickly on his grandson, and then they finally got that breakfast.
Avdol approached him in the bathroom later that day, as they were washing their hands.
“Mister Zeppeli,” he started, turning off the sink. “I have great respect for you.”
Still so formal. Caesar nodded. “Thank you — and likewise.”
Avdol waved the compliment off. “Therefore I feel it is only right I inform you I speak Italian fluently.”
Oh. Caesar felt his cheeks heat up slightly. Blinked the mortification away.
“Thank you,” he responded in Italian. “For telling me.”
“And for the — well.” He bit on his lip. “The discretion.”
Avdol just nodded again. Tried to crack a smile.
“We both witnessed things today that the other party wouldn’t want the rest of the group to know about, I think.”
Caesar barked out a laugh. Still felt slightly mortified.
He’d have to explain it, to Avdol, to everyone, eventually — that Joseph was his, had always been, that Suzie knew, that Suzie had friends of her own visiting their home, that theirs was a marriage of convenience, that Holly technically had two of each parent, that while perhaps illegal his and Joseph’s union wasn’t an illicit affair...
Not yet, though.
For now, he’d let the young man believe Caesar was Joseph’s dark secret. At least Avdol remained civil to him.
Watching his hands, Caesar let a few Hamon bubbles form, snickered to himself. At least Caesar hadn’t gotten smacked with an umbrella.
Caesar watched Avdol leaf through his deck of cards, deep in thought — Polnareff was asleep, curled at his side, but the man seemed to mind very little as he frowned at the cards, chewed on his lower lip.
Caesar had a quick glance around — Joseph was asleep too, as was Jotaro (or seemed to be. his hat was tugged down over his eyes, though, which was hint enough) — Kakyoin was still awake, looking out of the window with a dreamy expression.
Caesar leaned into Avdol’s side, reached out.
Brown eyes flew up to meet his immediately. Smiled.
“Mister Avdol,” Caesar responded, respecting the preferred formality. “You seem worried?”
For a moment, he honestly feared Avdol wouldn’t respond. The two hadn’t really talked, one-on-one, not since the bathroom — and while Avdol hadn’t caused a scene or openly accused Caesar of anything, he did indirectly inform him he knew Caesar and Joseph were having a homosexual affair, while in a country that ruled it a criminal offense.
Caesar didn’t know much about Avdol, but he could pick up on hints.
Avdol spoke properly. In the High Priestess’ mouth, his idea of a compliment was to call Milder elegant. He was religious, and devout. Caesar couldn’t imagine him being fine with cheating.
He wanted to tell him. Hated the current predicament. Hated the — the looks, the silent judgement, from all of the group members — socially mandated respect coated in bitterness, insincere smiles straining each time Joseph and he stood too close.
“I’m sorry you have to lie to your wife,” Kakyoin saying, eyes straying over to Caesar. Jotaro, who hadn’t spoken a word to him since the — the incident. Polnareff, unable to joke along with Joseph whenever Caesar was involved.
And Avdol. Saying nothing.
Back in the present day, Avdol put his cards down with a sigh.
“It’s foolish, really,” he said. “But I’ve been thinking on this, and…”
He spread the cards out, so Caesar could see better.
“These five represent our Stands,” he slid the corresponding ones aside. “The star, the hierophant, the chariot, the magician and - “
“The hermit,” Caesar finished for him.
The softness in his voice caught himself off-guard.
Avdol blinked, slowly. “....Alright.”
Caesar felt his ears burn.
“As I was saying... “
“Mister Avdol —“
“As I was saying,” Avdol repeated himself, louder; jolted Polnareff awake.
Caesar sunk into his seat.
Polnareff gave them both a confused look; shrugged, settled again against Avdol’s side.
“You reading Zeppeli's fortune?”
“Yes,” Avdol deadpanned. “He has a fool sitting across of him.”
Polnareff blew him a kiss. “Don’t talk about yourself that way.”
Caesar knew he had no room to judge; still cleared his throat.
Both men snapped to attention.
“Right,” Avdol focused on his cards again. “Not counting the cards representing our stands, we have faced every other card through an enemy stand.”
“I was originally an enemy stand,” Polnareff mumbled into Avdol’s sleeve.
Avdol scratched the back of his head.
“Every card…” Avdol continued. Picked one out. “Save for Death.”
Polnareff rose himself up to his elbow, squinted at the card. “Huh.”
“It worries me a little,” Avdol put it away. “But the cards don’t seem worried.”
“We already beat it,” a voice from behind them. All three men turned to look at the source; Kakyoin nodded at them, trapped under a Fully asleep Jotaro slumped against his side.
“Pardon?” Polnareff climbed up to watch over his seat. “We did what?”
Kakyoin nodded again. “Back before Avdol rejoined us, and Caesar came aboard.”
Avdol and Caesar shared a look. Glanced at Polnareff.
“I don’t remember that,” he was saying.
Kakyoin sighed, glanced away. “That was a part of his power — he could make all survivors forget they’d ever been attacked.”
Polnareff bit down onto his lip.
“Cazzo,” Caesar said. “That is a scary ability.”
“It would make it impossible for us to prepare for, or even plan, a counter-attack,” Avdol agreed. Turned towards Kakyoin. “If you don’t mind me asking, how did you beat him?”
Kakyoin breathed a laugh. “A lucky coincidence, really.” He grinned at Polnareff. “You helped.”
Polnareff’s face lit up in return. “Really?”
Kakyoin shook his head, laughed. “Really.”
Avdol watched them with a small smile. “I suppose that’s all the information we are going to get from you?”
“You suppose right.”
Polnareff slumped back into his chair. “Okay, I’ll just assume some serious shit went down.”
Kakyoin would not explain why he found that funny.
Joseph’s body was limp in his hands, cold.
Caesar refused for this to be happening.
“You…” Jotaro was saying. “You loved him.”
He was holding up a solid facade, for a kid that’d just killed a vampire.
Caesar could barely look at him. But he had to.
God, this fucking family.
“You can stop time,” he said, looking up at his husband’s grandson — Jotaro looked away, huffed.
“Stop avoiding my question.” He had such a gruff voice, much lower than Joseph had ever been. Maybe it was the smoking.
“I still love him,” Caesar responded, sincerely. “And he loves me back.”
Jotaro’s jaw clenched.
“Your grandmother knows,” he went on, because, if Joseph minded, he shouldn’t have had died. “We fell in love in Italy, during the rise of fascism — then moved to America right for the Red Scare — people like us, it wasn’t a time to be out.”
Jotaro was still tense, looking away; there was a flush creeping up his neck, though, down his ears.
“Your grandmother didn’t want to marry, but, well, it wasn’t a great time for women either.” It isn’t a party right now, either, he could almost hear Suzie say. “She volunteered — well, she asked us both, but I felt guilty lying to god —” Oversharing. Jotaro didn’t need to know. Didn’t care, either, probably. “Your mother knows, too, but we asked her not to tell you, cause...” Caesar sighed.
Jotaro was finally looking at him.
“Joseph wanted to tell you himself,” Caesar squeezed the cold, unresponsive hand. Felt his own chest cave in all over again.
Bit back a sob.
“Guess he never grew the guts,” and failed.
Jotaro watched him with barely restrained panic in his eyes, the same one Caesar saw when Suzie had phoned them, an eternity ago.
Joseph hadn’t been conscious then either.
“He’s not dying today,” Jotaro said.
Caesar blinked away tears.
“He is not.” Jotaro turned around, started speaking to the Speedwagon officials.
“Jotaro..” Caesar tried to stop him. It was futile. Caesar had already tried, with Hamon, with everything he had — he’d managed to stabilize Kakyoin already, he’d pushed Avdol out of harm’s way earlier, he’d killed a vampire without breaking a sweat (that was a lie), what was one life more? What use would it all be, if Joseph couldn’t —
“He’s not dying,” Jotaro snapped. Seemed to have sensed Caesar crumbling.
His eyes were so determined.
Caesar wondered if Dio died scared.
“We’ll get him back,” Jotaro added. As if it were an afterthought.
Caesar chose to believe him.
Caesar was right to believe him.
“I can’t believe Hamon actually turned out to beuseful,” Polnareff was saying, sprawled out across Kakyoin’s hospital bed.
“I can’t believe you’re still here,” Kakyoin responded, affection in his voice hidden poorly. “Don’t you have anything to do?”
“Avdol isn’t returning from his trip for another two weeks, so…” Polnareff dragged out the words with an exaggerated eyebrow-wiggle. “So, no.”
Kakyoin scoffed with fake disgust.
Jotaro was rubbing his temples, muttering to himself.
“Caesar’s Hamon did prove extremely useful, though.” Kakyoin glanced over, to where Caesar was standing behind Joseph’s chair. “Can it be taught?”
Caesar grinned. “We could try.”
Joseph was making vomit noises.
“Want to stay young forever?” Jotaro asked.
“It is tempting,” Kakyoin had a finger to his chin. “Jotaro, it seems to be in your bloodline. Maybe you should give it a go, too?”
Jotaro said nothing.
“I mean,” Kakyoin was looking at his nails now. Radiating smugness. “I don’t know if I’ll have Caesar’s patience, for you, when you grow as old and frail as mister Joestar —”
Something invisible tugged at Kakyoin’s fringe — without needing to ask, Caesar flicked the back of Joseph’s hair.
“He’s not wrong,” he informed him.
Joseph glared up. “He’s frailer than me!”
Caesar just beamed down.
“Bold of you to assume I’d stick around you that long,” Jotaro continued the bickering, completely ignoring his grandparents.
“Bold of you to assume you wouldn’t.”
“Bold of you to assume you’d survive til then, you reckless — “
“I miss Avdol,” Polnareff said, to no one in particular.
Kakyoin kicked him. “He’ll be back soon, shut up — and Jotaro, who are you calling reckless, at least I didn’t get a fucking road-rollerthrown at me— “
“You ended up embedded in a church tower.”
“Well, that’s just cherry-picking — “
Caesar smiled at the scene. Felt something invisible creep up his arm; wrapped his fingers around Joseph’s stand silently, gave it a gentle squeeze.
Joseph winked up at him.
“Stealthy,” Caesar whispered.
Joseph hummed. “I’ve been branching out — forgive my wordplay — “
Caesar smacked the stand.
Joseph’s grin just grew. “About some creative uses — “
“Ugh,” from Polnareff.
Well. Maybe they weren’t as subtle as they’d thought.
“You two are so old,” he groaned.
Jotaro looked mildly disgusted.
Kakyoin looked like he was considering the creative uses.
“We are,” Caesar agreed. “Maybe we should stop loitering around teenagers — come on, Joseph.”
Kakyoin smiled at him, perfectly serene. “Take Polnareff too.”
Caesar understood. “Gladly.”
“Hey!” Polnareff complained. “Am I being kicked out?”
Kakyoin nodded. “Condolences.”
“You’re a dickhead.”
Jotaro had a small smirk, tugging at his lips. “I mean, it is old-people-leave time.”
“I’m not old!”
Caesar laughed. “Feels like I’m listening to Jojo himself — come on, Jean.”
With a sigh, Polnareff slunk off the bed. Flipped around to glare at Kakyoin, make the ‘I’m-watching’ gesture;
“I’ll check Jotaro’s neck later.”
Kakyoin just tilted his head. “You do that.”
“Looking forward to that.”
Joseph was making a similar gesture. “Nothing I wouldn’t do, okay?”
“Won’t shoot any gods into space,” Jotaro deadpanned, just as Jean piped in with a, “Mister Joestar, that leaves so many options — “
Caesar pushed both men out of the room. Turned around to say his goodbyes.
“Truly do behave,” he said. “If his heart rate speeds up, someone will come investigating.”
Kakyoin’s face flushed. Success.
“Good grief,” Jotaro stepped forward, and Caesar was willing to bet his husband’s inheritance Star Platinum was hovering above them. “Get out.”
“I hope you have a good day as well,” Caesar teased. Still left, though.
He could still remember Mildred’s teeth.