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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.