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The Doctors Kujo and Their Daughter, 2002-10

Chapter Text

‘It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.’ - J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

It’s the second week back at school for JoJo, and the fifth evening in a row she’s come home late. If this goes on, it’ll start to turn into a routine.

"We've got to help her find a better name than just JoJo," says Nori.

"Mm," he agrees, his mouth full of homemade noodles. Not too bad. Next time he should add some more salt.

"I mean, it's not a bad name," continues Nori, who's already finished their bowlful. "It's just..."

Jotaro swallows the rest of his mouthful and looks up. "Everyone else is called that, too."

"Exactly." Nori counts on their fingers. "You, Joseph, Josuke, our JoJo, and now Giorno."

"GioGio," he supplies. "Which is basically the same name but with an Italian accent."

"That's what I'm saying!" Nori lays their palm on the table. "If I'd known there were so many of you, I would have named her something different."

"Didn't help in Josuke's case," he replies. "He chose to be a JoJo."

"Hmm." A pause, and Nori strokes their chin. "What if we suggest names that aren't JoJo, then? That could work."

He starts to tap his foot against the table leg. “She’ll probably ignore all of ‘em.”

“Mm.” A sigh. “If only –”

There you are,” Jotaro frowns, seeing JoJo hovering at the door. “We ate without you, but we left a bowl there. Should still be warm.”

“’kay.” JoJo wanders to her seat and lifts the plate off the lightly steaming noodle bowl.

“You were out very late,” Nori begins. “Was it those kids again?”

“…yeah.” She prods at the noodles with her chopsticks. “Kashmir said she’s not gonna play anymore cause her mom said I was a f-f—” Her lip wobbles. “She said I was a freak.”

“Why was it this time?” he asks, knowing from experience that it’s never just the one thing.

She puts the chopsticks down. “C-cause I’m a girl now. She said I’m n-not a r-real girl.”

“She’s wrong.” Jotaro takes her shoulder. “You’re just as much of a girl as she is. Okay?”

“Exactly.” Nori leans forward. “I think I’ll have a little talk with Mrs. Outside and see if she can be persuaded to change her mind. But, JoJo—”

“Y-yeah?”

Nori sighs. “If this goes on too long, we might want to consider moving you to a different school. We could enrol you as a girl so that fewer people would target you.”

“…r-right…” JoJo kicks her legs, and small rings radiate out from the centre of her noodle bowl.

“If you want that,” Jotaro says, letting go of her shoulder, “you might want to start thinking about a full name.”

“…yeah.” She sighs. “But it’s hard.”

“We know.” Nori pats her arm. “We’ll help you think of one, if you want.”

“…okay.” JoJo puts her hands together briefly and murmurs “Thanks for the food,” before picking up her chopsticks again and digging in; beside her, Jotaro goes back to his own food for a while, finishing off the last few mouthfuls left in his bowl.

“JoJo,” says Nori suddenly, “has anyone tried to hurt you?”

There is a pause. JoJo chews her food, swallows, and then shakes her head. “They… stay away. But they always say really mean things.”

(Of course they do. It was the same for him, the same for Nori too. It probably won’t be too long before they really do try to hurt her.)

“Remember the self-defence I taught you?” he asks. “If anyone ever comes after you, you can fight back. Just try not to get caught fighting too often.”

She nods, then: “But if I had a Stand, I could…”

“Good grief, you can’t wait for your Stand to appear for the rest of your life,” Jotaro tells her. “You have to learn to deal with things without her help first.”

“B-but…” JoJo sniffles. “I wanna have a cool Stand like Yaya. Why can’t I summon her? Is there something wrong with me?”

Nori adjusts their glasses. “Of course not, JoJo. People get Stands at different ages, that’s all. Great-grandpa Joseph didn’t get his until he was in his sixties.”

“But… I don’t wanna wait until I’m sixty… Can’t you get me a Stand somehow?”

Jotaro shakes his head. “Listen, it’s not as easy as just finding you a spare one around the place. We can’t get you a Stand as if it’s a puppy, or something.”

Can I have a puppy?”

“No.” She slumps down, and he adds: “If you really want a pet to look after you can help me with the fish. As for a Stand, it’s dangerous to force one on you before you’re ready for it, you understand?”

“B-but…”

Nori reaches over to her, laying their hand on hers. “Listen, JoJo. Let me tell you a story.” They take a deep breath. “When I was your age – when I was in school – I thought I was the only person in the world with a Stand. Everyone thought I was crazy because I could see something that was invisible to them. I thought that I’d always be alone. But then…”

A pause. When Nori speaks again, their voice is steady. As usual they manage to be better at emotions than he’ll ever be able to: neither avoiding them nor being overwhelmed by them, managing to turn the memories of the bad and early days into words of comfort that he wishes he could speak with confidence like that. “Then I met your father. After that, your dad saved me from a terrible fate. I realized – I’m not alone in the world. There are so many people who love me, care for me, no matter what happens. And you… you’re my daughter, JoJo. I’ll love you no matter what, Stand or no Stand. We love you. Never forget that, okay?”

“…okay,” nods JoJo.

(Whatever her name is.)

Chapter Text

‘If you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you see ghosts, or hear them.’

 - Christa Wolf, The Quest for Christa T

“How did it happen?” asks Jotaro, rubbing ointment on the painful-looking red welt in the centre of Nori’s forehead, right between the eyebrows and the small white dent where the flesh bud used to be.

They sigh. “It was stupid. I just got too close to the rodeo ring trying to find the Stand user, and the cowboy’s whip got me in the face.” A hollow chuckle. “God, yet another thing flying at high speeds towards my face. This better not become a habit.”

“It’s not going to be…” He hesitates. “Not going to bother you?”

“Who knows?” Nori slumps down a little. “These things aren’t predictable. I don’t want to be reminded of my trauma.” Then, a shrug, and: “Ah well. At least fighting the horse went all right.”

“The horse?” Jotaro blinks. “I thought you said it was the cowboy that was the user, like… whatsisname, that guy you fought.”

“No, no, dickface, it wasn’t Hol Horse,” Nori explains. “It was the actual horse. The animal. A horse called Sugar High, with a Stand called [Stealers Wheel]. A horse. With a Stand.”

“Good grief.” He thinks about this. “Guess it’s no weirder than an ape, a dog, or a tortoise…”

Nori snorts. “Well, that’s one way of looking at it.”

 

It’s several weeks later, late at night – or perhaps early in the morning – that Nori bolts upright in bed with a scream, thrashing out and clutching at their forehead. “It’s in my head – it’s gonna – get it out –”

“Hey, hey, shh, it’s all right.” He sits up and catches hold of their wildly flailing arms. “It’s a dream, you’re just dreaming, I’m here, okay?”

(Sometimes he forgets that it’s not just him that has shitty days like this, shitty dreams and shitty dreams and shitty memories. Sometimes he forgets to take care of Nori the way they really deserve.)

“I can feel it in my skull –” Nori tears wildly at their hairline – “It’s crawling inside my brain, get it out getitout getitout –”

“Nori, Nori, look.” He turns their head up to where Star is holding up a small mirror in front of their face. With slow and careful hands, trying not to startle Nori or freak them out, Jotaro takes their hands away from their forehead and strokes back their soft and wavy scarlet hair. “There, see? It’s not there. It’s just a scar. Nothing’s inside your head except your own brain.”

“It’s… not there…” murmurs Nori. They reach up to prod gently at the dimple and their throat pulses. “It was so r-real…”

(And then there are days like this. Days where he can feel the horrid waves of tension clutching at his chest in the shadow of the emotions rippling through Nori as their fists clench and their teeth grind and their voice trembles to a standstill. There are days when all he wants to do is keep them close, in his arms, where the two of them can be safe together.)

“Are you gonna throw up this time?” he asks.

They shake their head and lean into his hands, shuddering. “No, I’m fine, thanks. I’m okay.”

“You’re okay,” he echoes. Then: “It’s been a while since you’ve had a bad one like that.”

“It was…” They turn and lean their head on his chest; he wraps his arms around them and strokes a hand through their hair over and over, feeling the smooth strands flowing through his fingertips. “I… there was…”

“Yaya?” JoJo pokes her head around the door. “Why were you screaming?”

“It’s just a nightmare, JoJo,” replies Jotaro. “Go back to sleep.”

She ignores him and crawls in next to Nori, snuggling up to them. “Don’t be sad. It’s not real, right?”

Nori turns their head slightly to look at her. “No, it’s not real. Not anymore.”

“It’s fine now,” Jotaro agrees. “You don’t have to stay.”

“I’m gonna,” she says.

“Good grief. Aren’t you a little old to be sleeping in our bed?”

“Nope!” She makes herself comfy holding onto Nori. “I’m gonna protect you from the monsters.”

They chuckle. “Well… thank you. I’m sure I’ll sleep nice and sound now.”

Jotaro sighs. Well, perhaps it’s normal for a ten-year-old…

(Most days, of course, it’s nothing like this bad. Most days the two of them can relax into their daily life with only the occasional troublesome Stand user thrown into the mix. Most days a kiss or a hug or a clasp of the hand is enough. But today is not most days. Some days are like this for them both.)

Chapter Text

‘Be gay: too soon the flowers of Spring will fade.’ – William Jones, A Turkish Ode of Mesihi

It’s been a while since he’s had a call from Josuke, or had time to make a call himself. It’s one of those things: he’s heard about Josuke going to the police academy, about the prejudices he faced there much greater than the ones even Jotaro has faced in the mild-mannered circles of academia, but only second-hand in moments between one thing and the next. The news comes from Joseph, usually, who has made a point of doing everything he can to reconnect with his son now that his mind has returned for a while.

He’s surprised, then, both to hear Josuke’s voice – slightly lower than when he last heard it – and to hear what sounds… almost like terror in those deeper tones. Josuke is a tougher kid than he seems. He’s been doing well in his recovery from Kira, and apparently he’s got through a lot of Stand work since then: this, then, is New and Wrong.

“H-hey, Jotaro-s-san…”

Is there a Stand? Has Josuke been kidnapped? Is he about to die horribly?

“Josuke. Is something wrong?”

“W-well…” Even over the phone, Jotaro can hear Josuke swallow slightly. “So, like, I… I’m engaged!”

Jotaro blinks. “That’s it?”

“Whaddya mean, ‘that’s it’?”

“You sounded like you were being attacked.” Little shit.

“Well, duh!” Josuke raises his voice slightly. “This is, like, the biggest thing that’s happened to me, like, ever! Like, it took me so long ta propose to Oku, cause he’s so, like, adorable and I just… love him so much, yannow, and…”

“…okay. Good for you. You told the old man, right?”

“Jotaro-san. Dude. He was, like, the first person I told after my mom.”

“And you’re telling me this… why?” It all seems like a lot of fuss for a piece of paper to him. In his experience, marriage is pretty much two friends who love each other agreeing to stick together. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top.

“Aw, jeez, man…” A deep, prolonged sigh. “I’m invitin’ ya to my wedding, duh. You an’ Kakyoin-san. And… Rohan said you have a kid, but I thought they were lying so I mentioned it to Mom, and she said it’s actually true!?”

“It’s true.” He could say more, but: “We have a daughter.”

“Dude.” Josuke sounds somewhere between frustrated and amazed. “Why didn’t ya tell me I had a great-niece?”

Great-aunt, technically. He goes with: “It never came up.”

“Well, anyway.” A cough. “So, like, we’re sending ya a paper invite, too, but I just wanted to, like, do it personal, yannow? The more the merrier. Whaddya say?”

He takes down his calendar from the wall and a pen. “When is it?”

“We were thinking… next year, around hanami season? Morioh’s, like, super pretty when it’s hanami time.”

Well, his schedule is clear… He and Nori would have to take some time off work but then, that’s pretty normal. It’ll be nice to do it for personal reasons, rather than the usual Speedwagon-sponsored Stand shit. “I think we could manage it. Sure.” Then, because he suddenly remembers what he was supposed to say: “Congratulations.”

“Thanks, man!” Josuke laughs. “It’s unbelievable… By the way, do you know of anyone who could like, officiate, kinda thing? Who wouldn’t care that we’re both dudes?”

His first thought is Avdol, and Josuke will probably agree to that, but thinking of Avdol also makes him remember Giorno who is, after all, technically family. And Josuke did just say ‘the more the merrier’. He drums the pen against the paper a few times. “As it happens…”

He’s going to need a new outfit.

 

“Jotaro-san…”

“Okuyasu. Are you calling about your engagement? We already said we’d be coming to the wedding.”

“Uh… yeah…”

Jotaro tips his head. “Is there anything else you want to say?”

“It’s just that…” There is a loud sniffle, and suddenly Okuyasu’s voice goes all wobbly. “He’s so p-p-perfect! Whenever he smiles I feel like I’m gonna die, and then he goes an’ proposes all sweet like, and I just… can’t even handle it! He’s so fuckin’ handsome and coordinated and smart and funny and I’m just, like, some clumsy guy with weird scars, know what I’m sayin’? I ain’t smart or nothin’, an’ I ain’t even got a good job, yannow? Just this chef apprenticeship and I… Ah, fuck, Jotaro-san, I dunno if I deserve this.”

“Good grief.” Jotaro pinches the bridge of his nose. It’s too early in the morning to be dealing with lovesick young adults. “The other day he was calling me saying how perfect you are. Just… I don’t know. He seems to think you’re more than good enough for him. Okay?”

“R-really?” A muffled sob. “Aw, gee, man, ya can’t gimme hope like that, I ain’t worth it…”

“Okuyasu, I really think this is something you should talk about with him, not with me,” Jotaro tells him. “Just… do you love him?”

“Well, duh, that’s what I’m sayin’! I… kinda want to get a house and grow old with him? Is that weird?”

“It’s not weird.” Jotaro sighs and pulls down the brim of his hat. “Just… tell him. I mean, you’re already engaged, so he knows you love him, but tell him this. Even the bits that you’re scared to say to him. You understand?”

A pause, interrupted occasionally by a sniffle from Okuyasu. Finally: “You think that’ll help?”

“I know it will. Works every time for me.”

“…Okay.” Okuyasu clears his throat. “Thanks… dad.”

“Uh…” Oh, what the hell. “You’re welcome.”

Chapter Text

‘This was one of those points where the Trousers of Time bifurcated themselves, and if you weren't careful you'd go down the wrong leg’

– Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!

“Sara.”

“No.”

“Nanase.”

“No.”

“Daisy.”

“No.”

“Yui.”

“No.”

“Gloria.”

Definitely not.” She kicks back in her chair with a prolonged sigh. “Why is this so haaard?”

“We’re not going to find the perfect one immediately,” Nori reminds her, not looking up from an old Japanese name book. “How about Kaori?”

“We already did that one,” she whines. “Anyway, no one at school has a Japanese name. I want an English one like everyone else.”

Jotaro sighs and picks up the English name book again. “Then why didn’t you say so in the first place? Good grief.”

“Come oooonnn…” She slumps. “I wanna do this before I meet Uncle Josuke.”

“For goodness’ sake,” mutters Nori. “If you want our help, you’ve got to at least cooperate. You’re acting like a spoilt teenager, and you’re barely eleven.”

She faceplants onto the table. “Okay, okay… Pick another one, then.”

“How about…” He flips forward through the book, pretty much at random. “Irene.”

“Uhh…” She sits up again. “Huh.”

“What does it mean?” asks Nori.

He traces over the definition with one finger. “Says here it comes from a Greek word meaning ‘peace’.”

“It’s…” She pauses. “It’s close, but… I don’t think it’s right. I like how it sounds. The ‘een’ bit.”

“Hmm.” Nori tips their head. “Similar names to that… maybe ‘Eileen’, with an L? Though it’d be a bit harder to pronounce.”

“Or Marina.”

Not Marina,” she replies.

Nori strokes their chin. “One of my work colleagues is called Evangeline. Another difficult one to pronounce.”

“Evangeline?” She shudders. “That sound like an old person’s name. More like…”

“Clementine, Arlene, Erin…” Jotaro lists off. “I think that’s how you pronounce it.”

“Erin?” She shakes her head. “Sounds like one I heard before, but... Something’s missing.”

“Hmm.” Nori takes off their glasses, breathes on them, and begins to wipe the lenses off with their silver collared shirt. “You know, I can’t help thinking…”

“What?” asks their daughter.

They put their glasses back on again. “There’s a song called ‘Jolene’.”

“Oh, now you think that suggestion is a good idea.”

“Hey, actually…” She clicks her fingers. “That’s kinda cool.”

“Really?” Nori looks around. “I wasn’t that serious, but if you actually like it…”

“I mean, uhh…” She blushes. “We can try it… I guess… for a bit…”

Nori claps their book shut and nods. “Go on, then. Let’s see how Jolene fits you.”

 

JORI

JOLI

JOLEE

JOUL

JOLYNE. “I think that’s the right way to spell it.”

“Probably?” agrees Jolyne, chewing on her pen. “I’ve never seen it spelled before, though.”

“Yaya would know.”

Nori starts up. “Hmm? Oh, yeah, that’s fine, mhm… Say, Jolyne, I know you didn’t want a Japanese name, but would you mind if we came up with kanji for you as well?”

“Oh, no…” Jolyne buries her head in her hands. “Kanji are even harder than normal names!”

“Here, let me.” Jotaro pulls the sheet of paper towards himself. He may not the best at English spelling, but he remembers being top of the class for kanji readings, back when he started to consider changing his own name and became a little entangled in traditional versus modern pronunciations, secret meanings, and the not-so-subtle differences between ‘jo’ as in ‘acceptance’ and ‘jo’ as in ‘exclude’. With his usual precise pen strokes, he draws three options on the paper. “賞,祥 or 徐?”

Nori leans forward. “Actually, I like 徐… although the others are nice as well.”

"I thought you would," he nods. "That one's my favourite, too."

“Uhh…” Jolyne tips her head. “Okay. That one.”

“Alright.” He circles that one and writes it again below the ‘Jo’ of her name. “I think in that case the best kanji to go with it would either be 隣 or 倫.”

“Oh, that’s adorable…” murmurs Nori, watching his hand shape the lines. As expected of them, they can read upside-down with no problems. “You really feel that way, huh?”

He coughs and covers his face with his hat. “I mean, I know 倫 is a boy’s name on its own, but…”

“No, I… I like it.” She nods. “Sounds… cool.”

“Then that’s what we’ll go with.” He traces out the strokes below the ‘lyne’ and nods. “There, it’s not so hard. That’s what your name means now.”

“I think it’s beautiful,” Nori tells her. “What about you?”

She takes the paper. “Yeah. Th-thanks. It’s… nice to have some help… and this is pretty different from my old one…”

He taps his hand on the table in not quite a rhythm and nods. That’s definitely true. Now she is no longer just bits and pieces from his and Nori’s names: now she has her own, with its own meaning. And maybe she’ll be able to make it into herself, just as he did with his.

(At any rate, unlike him she’ll always have the recognition, acceptance, and support of both her parents.)

(And they will protect her, too. Slowly, quietly, they will make sure she always has a home, a family, a safe haven from the Stands that might seek to hurt her. They will do their utmost to make sure she is all right.)

(No matter what.)

Chapter Text

‘How beauteous mankind is!

O brave new world, that has such people in it!’

 ― William Shakespeare, The Tempest (5.1.183-4)

And so in the spring of 2004, when Jolyne is only just twelve and still small for her age, the three of them – her, Nori, and Jotaro himself – arrive in Morioh all kitted out in better clothes and fresh haircuts a few weeks before the wedding so there’s plenty of time to get settled and make sure things are organised.

(The purple coat is stiff, slightly itchy; he doesn’t much like the persistent new feeling it carries with it either. But the white one, even slightly modified, is getting way too old and tired even for him to wear; besides, no one wants to be the one to wear white to someone else’s wedding, even if both grooms are wearing dark suits. So purple it is. Perhaps it’s a little derivative to match your outfit to your Stand, but then Nori made it work all right. They’re using a different approach these days: for their own new style, they’ve taken on the greater challenge of matching their outfit to their hair.)

To Jotaro’s surprise, Josuke is there at the Morioh Grand to meet them, looking distinctly larger than when they last saw him.

“Hey! Jotaro-san, nice ta see ya, purple suits you, man. And Kakyoin-san, jeez, that red jacket is lookin’ sharp!”

He has grown in the way only a true Joestar – well, a true Joestar who works out a lot and keeps to his hormone replacement regimen – can grow. He is, of course, still shorter and slightly less well-muscled than Jotaro himself, but… He has gained an inch or two on Nori, and the denim jacket really does bulk him out on top of what must be already developed muscles.

“Josuke,” he nods, by way of greeting. “You’ve progressed.”

“Aw, this? Ya noticed?” Josuke runs a hand through his hair. “Yeah, the Academy had me on a pretty tough schedule, so I guess I’ve grown a bit… Anyway, yeah, welcome, welcome! And - oh my god, is this the daughter I have heard literally nothing about?"

He bends to try and see Jolyne hiding behind Nori. "Hi there! How's it going? Oh, do you not speak Japanese? Uhh...” He clears his throat, and in the most atrocious accent Jotaro has heard for a long while, attempts to say: “How are you?"

"She does speak Japanese," replies Nori, pushing Jolyne forward. "Go on, say hi to your Uncle Josuke like we taught you."

"Uh... H-hi, Uncle Josuke." Her bow is acceptable, if unpractised, and she seems to have remembered the correct way to speak politely to an older relative even if Jotaro and Nori don't tend to use that style of speech around her much. "N-nice to meet you."

"Hey, babe, nice ta meet you too!" Josuke gives a much more informal bow and waves. "Those little odango ya got going are amazing! Didja do that yourself?"

She strokes the loose hair at the back of her head. "Uh... Yeah. Your hair is pretty cool too..."

"She likes my hair!" Josuke preens. "Man, pretty AND amazing taste? Why haven't you introduced me to your wonderful daughter before?"

"You know perfectly well why we wouldn’t have brought her here last time,” frowns Jotaro. “As well as the danger, she wasn’t well at the time; since then we haven’t really had the chance.”

Josuke shakes his head. "Aw, dude. That sucks. Guess it can't be helped, huh?" A moment, then: "So, anyway, Jolyne, how'd you like to meet my future husband?"

"Uh… Okay."

After we put our bags in our room,” Jotaro clarifies. “Good grief, you’re really eager to have us, huh…”

“Well, duh! Can’t I be excited ta see my favourite nephew and cousins?”

 

“Hey, Oku! Come look at our great-niece!” yells Josuke, while the other three are still taking off their shoes. “Look at how cute she is!”

“Eh? Whaddya mean – oh! Hi there!” Okuyasu pokes his head round the door of what smells like of his kitchen. “Jotaro-san, Kakyoin-san! Wow, you really do have a kid, I thought Josuke was joshin’ me. I’m jus’ finishin’ up, ‘kay?”

“Jolyne, meet your future uncle Okuyasu, my adorable fiancé. He’s been makin’ snacks for us,” Josuke explains. “It’s his thing, he’s practicing every chance he gets. Tonio says he could set up on his own in a couple of years, if he wanted.”

“That sounds lovely,” nods Nori, following Josuke in. “By the way – what’s with the plant?”

The plant in question – pink, cat-shaped and very familiar – appears to be sleeping perfectly happily on the low table in the living room of Okuyasu’s house, which itself looks as though it has been spruced up a lot since Jotaro was last here. Jotaro can’t tell if the home improvements are a result of Crazy Diamond’s efforts, or whether it’s just good old-fashioned hard work; perhaps a combination of the two. He vaguely remembers hearing about the two of them moving in together some time last year, after all.

“Oh, that?” Okuyasu, coming back in from the kitchen with a plate of red-bean daifuku, shrugs. “Poor lil guy didn’t have nowhere ta go, yannow, an’ I just… like, kept him? He’s cute, right?”

“It was in league with –” begins Jotaro, and then stops, because what does he know? It’s a plant Stand user that looks like a cat. Maybe it was just along with Kira because he fed it, or something. He loops his new collar chain around his fingers and starts to fiddle with the loops. “Sure. Cute.”

“His name’s Stray Cat. Y’can pet him, if ya like. Anyway!” Okuyasu places the plate down and opens his hands. “Help yourselves. Especially you, lil Miss, uhh… what’s your name?”

“Jolyne,” she mumbles. “Is it good?”

“Good?” Josuke folds his arms. “I dunno, is the sky blue? These, my little great-niece, are the best daifuku in the business for miles around, I’ll have you know, top Michelin-star type cooking. Good? They’re fantastic!”

Josuke,” moans Okuyasu. “Stop makin’ a big deal outta ‘em...”

Jotaro swallows his mouthful. “But he’s not exaggerating like usual.”

“Would I do that?” Josuke presses his hand to his chest. “Would I, the extraordinary Higashikata Josuke, ever possibly exaggerate even a little bit about my wonderful fiancé’s cooking?”

“God,” snorts Nori. “You sound like Rohan.” That shuts him up, as he splutters and fumes until Jolyne has had a chance to decide the matter for herself.

“These…” She looks down at her mochi with a bite taken out. “Are amazing! Can I try all the flavours?”

“Well… there’s only three flavours…” mutters Okuyasu, rubbing the back of his neck. “They ain’t that fancy, ‘s a pretty simple recipe…”

“Sometimes it’s better to go for a simpler option anyway,” Nori tells him. “That’s what makes these amazing. You got everything perfect.”

“Aw, gee, thanks…”

Jotaro catches Jolyne’s hand as she sneaks yet another daifuku. “All right, that’s enough. You’re going to make yourself sick.”

“But Daaad…”

“Man, I still can’t believe you guys are parents and you never even mentioned it…” Josuke muses. “Especially not to this cutie! I mean, c’mon! Where’ve ya been hiding her?”

Jotaro frowns. “We haven’t been. It just never came up.”

“We were trying to keep her out of the whole Kira mess,” reiterates Nori. “And after that there was just never an opportunity.”

“I guess that does make sense….” Josuke shrugs. “Well, it’s fine, at least we get to meet her now! Anyway. So about the wedding….”

Chapter Text

‘…there are times… when it is necessary and an act of friendship to write nothing rather than not to write.’ – Johann Wilhelm von Goethe, Elective Affinities

Jolyne stands in the doorway in her pyjamas and makes a noise. “Uhh…”

“Is something wrong, Jolyne?” asks Nori, putting down their book.

She steps forward, feet turning in on themselves as if to hide herself from the two of them. “Why didn’t you say anything about me to Uncle Josuke and Uncle Okuyasu?”

“What do you mean?” asks Jotaro, who knows exactly what she means.

“I…” She turns her head away. “Are you embarrassed about me?”

Nori leans forward towards her. “Why would we be embarrassed?”

“Because I…” She sniffs. “Cause I’m not like other girls… cause I’m different…”

Nori sighs. “Of course not, Jolyne. We love you for who you are. It’s just that there was a lot of other stuff going on here at the time, so we never got the chance.”

“Besides,” adds Jotaro, “we didn’t know you were a girl back then. Even if we did mention you, we wouldn’t have been talking about the you that you are now.”

“…Oh,” says Jolyne. She stands there for a moment, then turns and pads away towards the hotel bathroom in her soft green socks. It’s hard to tell what she’s thinking, but then it’s hard to tell what anyone is thinking ever. He hopes she’s satisfied, is tempted to make absolutely sure, but then…

He doesn’t want to smother her. Smothering suggests mothering, suggests Holy, which is bad; he wants to give her space, to let her be herself and to accept her. But he’s not sure of the line between ‘not smothering’ and ‘distant’; not sure if he can tell when he’s being too much or too little, not sure what the signs are for holding her close and leaving her be.

Besides, they have other things to worry about as well, now as always.

 

“So,” begins Jotaro, “what’s the plan when your dad gets here? I mean, at least Suzi won’t be here, but that still leaves the issue of how he and Tomoko-san are going to deal with seeing each other after so long...”

Josuke swallows. “Suzi’s his, uhh, wife, right? Not his mother? I always get them mixed up…”

“Yes, his wife. She’s not coming,” Jotaro says, and gathers his strength to explain the difference yet again. “Lisa-Lisa is his mother. The surprisingly young-looking one I sent you a photo of. She’s not coming either.”

(It’s not out of any stubbornness or hatred on either part. Suzi doesn’t want to make things more awkward than they already are for Josuke, and Lisa-Lisa, well… Jotaro is sure she would make the attempt to come to her grandson’s wedding, if any of them could contact her to tell her about it. The fact is that Lisa-Lisa has been missing for quite some time; she was last spotted 3 years ago somewhere in Siberia, and since then no one has heard anything but rumours of her. He’s heard there have been sightings of her as far afield as Finland, Thailand, and the Congo, but not even Hermit Purple has given any further enlightenment. Jotaro wouldn’t be at all surprised if she somehow turned up in Morioh as if nothing has happened at all, but he also won’t be surprised not to see her.)

“Jeez…” Josuke sighs. “I dunno, man. Like, what do I even tell Mom? ‘Sorry, dad looks super old these days’? She’s still hung up on him, and that’s without adding Shizuka to the mix…”

Jotaro shrugs. “Who knows. But he’s head of the family and your dad, so he’ll probably want you to treat him right and not hide him from your mother.”

“Ah, come on!” Josuke points at him, jabbing his finger towards Jotaro’s chest. “He may be the de facto head of the family, but everyone can see that you’re the one that brings us all together! He’s just older ‘n everyone else, and that makes him the one in charge apparently? No thanks!”

Jotaro buries his hands into his pockets, his fingers catching on to the cloth and squashing it in a slow pattern. “Good grief. I didn’t know you knew fancy words like ‘de facto’, Josuke.”

“Yeah, well…” A snort, and Josuke jabs his thumb into his chest. “I went an’ got myself an edju-ma-cation! Now I know all the complicated words!”

“Sure you do.” He pats Josuke on the shoulder. “You’re doing well for yourself, kid.”

“Whaaaat?” Josuke gasps and clutches both hands to his heart. “Genuine praise from the King of Neutrality himself? This is the best day of my life! Thanks, dad!”

Jotaro opens his mouth, closes his mouth, and then: “…You’re welcome.” Time to change the subject. “Anyway. I was meaning to ask. What’s the Stand situation?”

“Stands? Ah, it’s all fine, there haven’t been any Stand attacks in weeks!” Josuke tells him. “Lucky, huh?”

He folds his arms, tapping against the sleeves. “Hmm. Lucky. Almost too lucky.”

“Aw, jeez…” Josuke shakes his head. “Why’d ya have to be such a pessimist? It might never happen!”

Josuke is so, so much like his father. A younger, fitter, less beardy version, maybe, but god. The personalities are nearly identical these days. Jotaro just hopes that a predisposition for cheating can’t be inherited.

“Believe me, Josuke,” he frowns, “whenever someone says something like that it means something really big and bad is just over the horizon. I’d be prepared to bet that something goes wrong before the ceremony even begins.”

“Pfft, like anyone would dare come near this town with so many good Stand users ready to bite their heads off. And if something happens somewhere else, well, it’s not our problem, is it?”

He sighs. “In my experience, nearly everything becomes my problem some time or other. So I wouldn’t be so sure.”

“Man, ya gotta stop with this negativity!” Josuke puts his hands on his hips. “It’ll be fine. And if it ain’t fine, we can deal with it, right? It’s not the end of the world.”

“…right.” He hopes so, anyway. It’s not like he wants Josuke’s wedding to be ruined.

Chapter Text

‘I don’t know half of you as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.’

– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

And then Giorno, Avdol, Polnareff and two bodyguards – Jotaro recognises Mista, but not the one with messy black hair in an orange band – step onto the scene. They arrive in a manner that would be comical if it wasn’t so deadly serious: at first, it appears that Mista has arrived on his own for some reason, but then he holds open the door as one by one, all four of the others step out of a taxi that isn’t nearly large enough for everyone. Pol is the last out, levering themselves with Avdol’s help into their wheelchair, and puts the tortoise on their lap.

“Hi Giorno!” shouts Jolyne. “Hi Uncle Avdol and Pol-pol!”

“Hello, JoJo!” Avdol shouts back. “Nice to see you!”

“I’m Jolyne!” she yells, throwing both hands high into the air with the type of unrestrained enthusiasm that makes everyone simultaneously jealous of and fiercely protective of her. It's moments like these that help explain to him why after all this time he still wants Jolyne to be his, and not DIO's; to see that kind of freedom and happiness for her as her father. Is he good enough? No, probably not. But he knows he wants to do better by her by far than DIO would have done.

“Hi, Jolyne!” yells Pol. “Coco Jumbo’s really happy to see you!”

“Is…” Josuke, who has been waiting at the entrance of the Morioh Grand with the three of them, swallows. “Is that a turtle?”

“No, don’t worry, it’s a tortoise, you’re fine,” replies Jotaro.

“Oh god it’s a turtle,” groans Josuke. Good grief. Kids never listen. There’s a difference, goddammit.

Nori sighs and waves at the group as they approach. “Pol, could you put away the tortoise, please? Josuke here has a bit of a phobia.”

“Of turtles?” asks Pol, giving the tortoise to Avdol to put in one of his pockets.

“Yes, but also of tortoises,” Jotaro nods, starting to tap his foot on the hotel steps. Then, to the rest of the group, in Italian: “Welcome to Morioh, everyone.”

“Delightful,” agrees Giorno. “Doctors, and, ah, Jolyne too, we are honoured. And this must be the groom-to-be, I take it? You look very similar to him, if I may say so, signor.”

“That’s him,” replies Nori. “They do a bit, don’t they?”

Avdol folds his arms. “I rather think Josuke is a little less… forbidding.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Oh, nothing…”

With a tug on his cap, Jotaro decides to change the subject. “Anyway. Josuke here is a junior police officer, but don’t hold that against him.”

(“Oh, no,” groans Jolyne. “Are you just gonna talk about boring grown-up stuff the whole time?”

“Probably,” Nori admits to her. “You can go off and play in the room if you like.”

“Can I play with Giorno?”

“Later. If you ask them first.”

“Josuke, come play.”

“Can’t, babe, in a minute.”

“…Fine.” With that, she wanders off towards their room.)

“Why would I be so discriminatory?” shrugs Giorno. “It is a fine profession for a young man. Why, one of my best and most trusted subordinates is an ex-cop. Incidentally, Abbacchio is also married to a man now. Bucciarati, if you remember him, Doctors?”

“Of course,” nods Nori. “He seemed a very intelligent young man.”

“Abbacchio…” Jotaro scratches his chin. “Wasn’t he the one that was in a coma or something?”

“Well remembered,” nods Giorno. “You will be pleased to hear he has made a full recovery.” Then: “So is this Josuke a Stand user?”

“Uh… I heard my name… ya done?” coughs Josuke, in Japanese. “I have no idea what you’re sayin’, on account of it all bein’ Italian an’ all…”

“Oh, right, sorry.” Jotaro shakes his head and switches to slow clear English, the one language Josuke and Giorno have in common (however tenuously). “Josuke, this is Giorno Giovanna. I told you about them. These are their… companions. This man is Mohammed Avdol, who can conduct the ceremony for you, and this is his significant other Jean-Pierre Polnareff. Both of them are old friends of Nori and I. You three, this is Higashikata Josuke. And yes, he is a Stand user.”

“Hello,” nods Josuke. “Giorno, good hair. Stand? Yes, Crazy Diamond is my Stand. It… what is word? Crazy Diamond is healing.”

“Healing?” Giorno tips their head. Their English is surprisingly better than Josuke’s, even though they began learning later, after Jotaro and Nori’s visit. “My Stand also does healing. Interesting.” They stick out a hand for Josuke to shake. “I am pleased to meet you, Higashikata Josuke. My Stand, Gold Experience, is the same kind of Stand as yours, yes?”

“Same kind of Stand?” repeats Josuke. Then, in Japanese: “Holy shit! Does Giorno really have a Stand like mine?”

“It is quite similar with regard to the reparation of injury, yes,” Nori tells him. “I believe they work in slightly different ways, but they both have a similar effect.”

“Whoa!” Josuke puts his hand up for a hi five, and in English. “Cool! Nice to meet you!”

Giorno chuckles and slaps his hand with probably a lot more restraint than Josuke was hoping for. “Likewise, my friend. We shall have much to discuss, I have no doubt.” Then, in Italian: “It’s not often I meet someone else who takes such excellent care of their hair. I wonder what his routine is?”

“Ask him yourself,” grunts Jotaro.

“Ah, um… Great!” Josuke moves on to the other two. “You are Mohammed Avdol and Jean-Pierre Polnareff?”

“Indeed we are. How nice to meet you at last, Josuke,” nods Avdol, in his usual near-perfect Japanese. “I’d like to talk to you later about my part in the proceedings, if I may? And your fiancé, if he’s available. I’d like your input on a few things.”

“Uhh…” Josuke smooths back his hair. “Yeah, sure – I mean, you speak Japanese?”

“Of course. Though I am a little rusty.” Liar. “I did try to teach Pol here, but alas…” He nudges Pol, and in English: “You haven’t had much success with Japanese, have you?”

Polnareff shrugs. “It’s just too different from European languages, what can I say…” They stick out a hand towards Josuke. “Jean-Pierre Polnareff. Didn’t expect you to look so much like Jotaro, tête de paillasson.

“Is about my hair?” growls Josuke. “I understand insult to my hair every time.”

“It… uhh…” Pol puts their hands up. “It was a complement?”

“Oh, that is fine,” Josuke nods. “Cool. It is nice to meet you. I speak English not very well, so excuse me, but… You are friend of Jotaro-san? Meaning, someone friend with Jotaro-san, who is not Kakyoin-san? Excuse me?”

“Good grief, you don’t have to act so surprised…”

Chapter Text

‘You can know a thing to death and be for all purposes completely ignorant of it. A man can know his father, or his son, and there might still be nothing between them but loyalty and love and mutual incomprehension.’ ― Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

“And whatever you do, don’t insult Josuke’s hair.”

“Why, what’s wrong with it?”

“Well…”

Sadao arrives five days before the wedding, after most of the arrangements have been set up but before the final preparations will have to be made, and comes with Jotaro on a small tour of the little town of Morioh.

“…And that’s what they call the Angelo Stone,” remarks Jotaro, gesturing towards the rock. “Hey, Angelo.” He doesn’t mention that he was there at its creation. Or that it encases a murderous pervert who may even now be in horrible unending pain, unable to die. Or that he’s not exactly sure why or how Josuke and Koichi started saying hello to it but now somehow it’s just the thing you do.

“Uhh… hey, Angelo,” repeats Sadao.

“And heeey, Jotaro-san!” Josuke says loudly, from behind them. “Who’s this?”

Jotaro and Sadao turn.

“Wait a minute!” realizes Josuke. “I know you!”

“You do?” asks Sadao. “How?”

Josuke clicks his fingers a few times. “Uhh… what was it… it’ll come to me… oh! Yeah! Didn’t you appear in one of Prince’s music videos like, ages ago?”

(Oh no. This is going to be embarrassing for everyone. Jotaro pulls down his hat.)

Sadao startles. “Prince? Gosh, yes, that was… more than fifteen years ago now, I should think.”

“Oh my god!” Josuke yells. “Jotaro-san, I can’t believe you know someone who worked with Prince! Hey, mister, what’s he like? Is he as cool in real life as he is on stage? Does he –”

“Whoa, there, hang on,” chuckles Sadao, holding up his hands. “I barely met him, to be honest. I wouldn’t have any idea what he’s actually like in person. I was just there for my sax and piano skills.”

“Oh, I see,” nods Josuke. “That’s too bad. Ah well. Anyway, uhh, I got so excited I didn’t think to ask your name, sorry… Jotaro-san, mind introducing us?”

“Uhh…” This was not how he planned for Josuke and Sadao to meet. He had been going to ring Josuke’s doorbell and go from there, but, well… Here Josuke and Sadao are now. He shoves his hands deep into his pockets and stares at the ground. “Josuke, this is, uhh, Kujo Sadao. My dad. Dad, this is Higashikata Josuke. My uncle.”

“W-wait, what,” stammers Josuke.

“Oh, that makes sense,” nods Sadao, stroking his chin. “You both take after Joseph.”

“Wait, what,” repeats Josuke. “This is your dad?”

“What’s wrong with that?” asks Jotaro.

“He – you look younger than Grandpa Ryohei did, may he rest in peace!”

“What do you mean, ‘may he rest in peace’ –”

“He probably is, actually,” Jotaro nods. “And that’s why the old man is a perv.”

“Aw, jeez…” Josuke makes a low bow and sighs. “I’m sorry. That was a stupid thing to say, huh? Lemme try again. Uh. It’s nice to meet you, sir…”

“Uhh…” Sadao also bows, even more awkwardly. “Likewise. I’m not sure why you invited me, but at any rate it’s nice to be here.”

“Well…” A cough, and Josuke kicks the ground gently. “So, like, Dad – Joestar-san, that is – mentioned you a couple times, and I was kinda thinking…You… were married to my older sister, correct?”

“I don’t like where this is going,” groans Sadao.

Jotaro glares. “Josuke, don't you dare say what I think you're about to say. You’re going to make things worse than they already are.”

“No, I didn't invite her, I'm not that dumb!” Josuke folds his arms. “I’m just, like, trying to get stuff right so I can explain things properly, yannow? Cause you’re, like, not married anymore, right?”

A slow, slightly shaky nod. “We… had a falling out. Now we’re divorced.”

 “Okay, so, like… I was thinking that…” Josuke rubs the back of his neck. “Since no one in the family likes her, that means you’re pretty much the closest thing I have to an older sibling now. So I invited ya.”

“I’m… really not sure how to feel about that.”

“Yeah, yikes, I know.”

“Good grief, Josuke, stop making things awkward, will you?” Jotaro sighs and rolls his eyes. "At least there aren't any in-laws on Okuyasu's side...”

"Okuyasu, huh?" Sadao turns back to Josuke and pats him on the shoulder. "I didn't know you were marrying another man. Good for you."

Josuke tips his head. "Uhh... thanks. Didn't expect you to be so progressive."

"Well," chuckles Sadao, "I did meet Prince that one time."

Josuke actually laughs. Then: “But, so, she’s not coming?”

No,” says Jotaro.

“Definitely not,” agrees Sadao. “As the only person who still has some contact with her, I can tell you for a fact she doesn’t even realize you exist – at the express wishes of your father and his wife, I might add.”

“Shit.” Josuke shakes his head. “What’d she do, kill someone?”

“She got pretty damn close,” growls Jotaro.

And then, as if to break up the tension again –

There is a sudden, noisy shriek, from behind and below him – “Neffu!” – and then something small but surprisingly strong attaches itself to his leg. He only just manages to avoid kicking it off; he’s been warned of this. He’s forgotten how downright annoying small children can be.

“Ah,” he murmurs, glancing down at the five-year-old girl with a long black wig and sunglasses clinging onto him in a horribly close and uncomfortable knife-sharp grip. He tightens his hold on the soft inner fabric of his pockets and tries to play along. “Aunt Shizuka. Or – no, my mistake, it’s just a barnacle. Tsk. Guess we’ll have to keep looking for the real one.”

“Nooo!” shrieks Shizuka, banging on his legs with a chubby fist. “Look, Taro-san, iss me!”

“She’s not gonna let go, y’know,” snorts Josuke. “You’ve just got her stuck to your leg until she gets tired. Oh, and ZuZu, it’s pronounced nephew.”

“Neffu!” she agrees, gripping even harder at his leg.

“You mean that really is Shizuka?” Jotaro mimes extreme surprise and confusion, and: “I didn’t know you turned into a barnacle.”

“I’m not, I’m not!” Shizuka lets go, finally, and points at herself. “Look, I’m a lil girl!”

“Ah, so you are,” he says.

“Wait, Jotaro-san, was that – your face!? It actually moved!”

“Oh, very funny, Josuke, I express myself fine.”

“It… can be a little bit difficult to tell…” admits Sadao.

He folds his arms. “Loads of people can read my emotions.”

“Uhh… really?” Josuke scratches his head. “Cause… I feel like it’s pretty much just Kakyoin-san and maaaybe Avdol-san.”

“Taaaa-roooooo-saaaan!” yells Shizuka, thankfully changing the subject before they can accuse him of having a poker face like most people do around this point in the conversation. He knows. His poker face sent a man insane. They don’t have to keep pointing it out. “Come see Josuke-niisan’s place!”

“All right, all right, I’ll come see…”

“So this is the little girl Joseph adopted?” asks Sadao. “Gosh, you really are very small, aren’t you?”

“No! I’m a big girl!” Shizuka holds up five fingers. “I’m this many! I followed Josuke here from Tomoko-bachan’s house all on my own!”

“I’m lookin’ after her for the day,” admits Josuke. “I brought her over to Mom’s so I could surprise you, but… looks like she sneaked out…”

“How odd!” Sadao shakes his head. “I didn’t see her coming at all! Must be a very good little spy, eh?”

“Uhh… yeah, a spy…” Josuke rubs the back of his neck. “Sneaky. Anyway. You guys wanna come in for a bit? For a chat, or whatever?”

“I’d love to, actually,” nods Sadao. He lets the two siblings move ahead, and then, to Jotaro, murmurs: “You know, somehow I expected them both to be a little older…”

"Yeah, well, you and me both."

Chapter Text

‘And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them.’ – Ezekiel 25:17

It’s not long before the wedding when the first and only enemy finally comes along, conveniently showing up just when Nori and Jotaro are doing one last thorough check around Morioh while Jolyne plays with Giorno in their hotel room.

“Didn’t know you were a Stand user, Showa,” Jotaro frowns, examining one of his old school bullies from head to toe. The guy has not aged well, losing half his hair and gaining a hell of a lot of weight, but is still the same recognisable sneering face that would direct quiet snide remarks in Jotaro’s (and, later, Nori’s) direction even when teachers were nearby. Especially when teachers were nearby, because then it would be Jotaro’s fault for giving him a well-deserved black eye.

“I wasn’t,” agrees Showa Diwadi. There’s still something almost slimy about him, even after all this time, and the only reason either Jotaro or Nori are holding back right now is out of respect for Josuke’s turf. “But then there was a guy with an arrow, and, well, you probably know the rest. So here I am. I’m going to kill you and every single one of your freaky Stand using friends.”

Showa snorts suddenly. “You know, Kujo, we all thought Kakyoin was paying you for protection. I mean, the quiet honour student only hanging around with the biggest, meanest guy in school? It’s not like a couple of pathetically unsociable men like you would ever have any real friends. But now I see everything so much more clearly. Now I see why you two freaks were always so close in school. I bet you both thought you were so fucking special.”

Star Platinum itches to come out at that, held back by the thin thread of ‘don’t rise to it’ that Nori had impressed upon him before they approached this asshole. Showa chuckles.

“What’s this? Not going to attack me? Tsk, I thought you were the combative type.” He shakes his head. “You’re not scared of little old me, are you?”

Jotaro grinds his teeth. This asshole’s not worth it. Definitely not worth the aggravation. Definitely not worth a good heavy punch to the nose.

“Why are you here, Showa?” asks Nori, who seems to only just be keeping Hierophant in themselves. “Just to reopen old wounds?”

Showa chuckles again. “In a manner of speaking…” He folds his arms. “I think it’s time for someone to finally defeat you two. I hear you’ve gotten even more cocky since we were in school together, so I’ll take great pleasure in bringing you down with [Psycho Killer].”

“You won’t even have time to take it out,” snarls Nori. “Go on. Try us.”

“Is that so?” Showa tips his head to one side and points to Jotaro’s wrist. “What’s that, then?”

Jotaro looks down at the little pink glowing bracelet, and then back up at Showa. (How the fuck…? When did he –? But, Jotaro notices, it’s just sitting there. A dumb ol’ bracelet. How bad can it possibly be?) He snorts.

"What is this, a friendship bracelet? Seriously?”

Showa chuckles. "Ah, Jotaro-san, how naive you are to underestimate me. Actually, [Psycho Killer] is already beginning to work on you, although you haven't felt it yet. You see, my Stand has the ability to reopen scars on the unfortunate victim. Every scar."

He looks down. Indeed, the very messy scar from when a possessed sword stabbed him in the uterus has suddenly begun staining his shirt; above it, every knife wound he ever got from DIO and everyone else, every wound from before he met Josuke and a few extra besides, even the place where his chest surgery corrects him - everything is opening up and bleeding and everything hurts. His earring holes, long closed up around his understated studs, are dripping blood. Oh. Oh fuck. That’s how bad it can be. He's going to bleed to death. He turns towards Nori, hoping that they won’t have been affected, but –

They have been surprisingly lucky, as far as scars are concerned. There is a red patch forming on their shoulder from when some Stand bit them, and a few smaller circles and lines where something or other has cut their legs or their arms. Blood trickles down the long green stems of their jewelled cherry earrings. But then, of course, there is their face. Particularly, a small circle just below their hairline, trickling blood down on either side of their nose. And –

Their eyes. The cuts are as bad, if not worse, than when they were made all those years ago, bright red and seeping lines cutting Nori’s face into three pieces behind their glasses. The thick blood has already covered their eyes almost completely, and if they hadn’t been blinded before they most certainly are now.

“I see you are realizing the problem,” Showa remarks, as casually as if on a rather bothersome rainstorm. “The one blinded, and the other losing so much blood you will not be able to fight me for any length of time before collapsing completely. Alas, how the mighty are fallen.”

“Hm.” Nori folds their arms. “Interesting.”

“Interesting?” echoes Showa. “You are both about to die by my hand! Jotaro looks about ready to faint as we speak!”

It’s true, Jotaro is only just barely managing to stay standing at the moment through sheer willpower; he’s beginning to black out, dizzy spots floating around in his vision.

Nori raises a hand to their own face and wipes off a small drop of blood. “That’s true. But you are wrong in assuming you can beat me, even with a handicap. You’ll pay dearly for that, and for every cruel word that has come from those disgusting lips.”

With that, a tentacle of Hierophant shoots out and picks up Showa by the neck; with a sudden jerk, they dangle the fat, ugly little man high above the ground.

“What?!” wheezes Showa, in a voice that they’ve both heard too many times to count: the voice of sudden, unexpected defeat. “How? I blinded you!”

“You did.” A little toss of Nori’s head, flicking their hair back over their shoulder. “Unfortunately for you, I already have experience being blinded. If you had taken my sense of hearing as well, I might have struggled; as it is, you didn’t even move from the spot where you were standing. So…”

Tentacles of Hierophant curl in around Showa’s wrists and ankles. “I’m afraid the one with open wounds will be you.” With that, there is a series of violent wet sounds – and a moment later, Showa falls to the ground. Or at least, the pieces of him do. Nori stands there for a moment, three bloody rivulets pouring down their face, apparently waiting for Showa to make any other type of move. He doesn’t.

Jotaro blacks out.

 

“You idiots,” grumbles Josuke, as the last stab wound on Jotaro’s chest closes up again to the same taut white line it was before. “What would you have done if I hadn’t happened to pass by? What are you doing getting yourselves into a Stand fight so close to the wedding?”

“We’d have gone to the hospital, of course,” replies Nori, checking their reclosed scars in Josuke’s pocket mirror. “Or to Giorno. They have healing powers too, you know.”

“With you blind and Jotaro-san unconscious? There’s no way you could have got that far! Besides, what if the hospital didn’t have enough of Jotaro-san’s blood type? What if reopening the cuts on your eyes made you completely blind permanently, huh? What if Giorno couldn’t –”

“Josuke, calm down.” Jotaro prods at a wobbly white line on his upper stomach. “You’re making my scars heal all wiggly.”

“Yeah, and they would’ve been so much worse if I wasn’t here, man! You gotta be more careful! You have a fucking daughter to take care of! Shit, I mean, even if he did attack first that’s no excuse to just let yourselves get slashed up like a horror movie…”

Nori shakes their head. “No can do, Josuke. There’s always going to be Stand users who’ll be able and willing to hurt us like this, and we can’t just let criminals go free. So, sorry. But careful isn’t really an option.”

(It’s just one person this time. It’s almost disappointing. But, well, at least it’s not a serial killer this time; or, worse, Holy.)

Chapter Text

‘While the tenth sang wonderful things they knew not

Ah the tenth, the Lesbian!’

 – Algernon Charles Swinburne, Sapphics

Half of Morioh shows up to see Josuke and Okuyasu married. Jotaro catches sight of Koichi and Yukako, Tonio (doing the catering for later that evening, emphatically without Pearl Jam, apparently), the Indomitable Kishibe Rohan, a few of the others that were involved in the Kira fiasco (no longer teens but young adults, god, they’re almost all as old as he was when Jolyne was born), even Hazekura Mikitaka shows up in a surprisingly normal-looking suit and doesn’t even mention aliens once. All of them are Stand users (or, in Mikitaka’s case, perhaps just really convincing fakes). The only two non-Stand users he can see in the entire crowd are Sadao and Tomoko, if he can count Jolyne as a user when she hasn’t actually got a Stand yet.

He wonders if that was intentional, for protection perhaps, and thinks it might be a good tactic if a group of really powerful enemies attacks at once. On the other hand, he gets the worried feeling that Stand users attract Stand users and, surely, this is just asking for trouble. And that’s that, he can’t think of anything but the threat. Damn.

Avdol gives a brief speech in Japanese about love, or something to that effect, but Jotaro’s not really listening as well as he should because what if something goes wrong? What if –

Nothing does go wrong, surprisingly. There are no mysterious accidents, no surprise guests, and, most importantly, no further enemy Stand users. Everything goes almost entirely to plan, and even the little issues – like Okuyasu tripping over his new shoes as he walks down the aisle, or Shizuka throwing a small invisible tantrum for attention during the subsequent celebratory meal – are small and normal and even easy to deal with. It all seems just a little too mundane. He keeps expecting something, anything to happen – and then it doesn’t. Normal life just goes on. Josuke got married, and nobody died. For once.

It is both comforting and, at times, extremely disconcerting. He can barely concentrate on the wedding photos, or the somewhat Stand-censored speech he tries to give about Josuke and Okuyasu and his support for them.

His scattered thoughts only come back together during Josuke’s speech, when an off-hand comment seems to stir something or other in Jolyne sitting beside him.

“So, hi everyone, welcome, thank you all for coming…”

Ciao, e grazie a tutti per essere venuti…” translates Pol, for the benefit of the Italian table.

“Man, what a turnout, right Oku?” Josuke lays a hand on Okuyasu’s shoulder. “I have to say, lookin’ at all of you right now… raise your hand, how many of you can honestly say you’re completely straight?”

There is a general pause while everyone looks at each other, trying to figure out whether anyone else will actually put their hand up; at last, Koichi and Yukako raise their joined hands. They’re the only two in the entire room, and Josuke raises a glass for them with a laugh. “Give it up for Koichi and Yukako, folks, representing the straight minority!”

That starts up a general round of laughter and a smattering of applause. In the interim before things quiet down, something tugs on Jotaro’s sleeve.

“Dad? What’s straight?”

“Oh, uhh…” He blinks at Jolyne, vaguely registering Josuke beginning to speak again in the background; he keeps his voice low. “You know. When guys want to date girls, or vice versa.”

“So Uncle Josuke’s not it?” she asks.

“Josuke is gay,” he nods. “It means he’s a man who prefers men.”

She leans forward. “Are you gay?”

Good question. He glances over at Nori, dressed in their new long red jacket over a sleek black turtleneck and flowing silver skirt; the sort of outfit that works just because Nori is wearing it. There is the faint glow of Hierophant from under their shirt; they’re binding again today. They appear to be listening to Josuke’s speech, but he knows that Nori has a talent for paying attention to multiple things at once and probably is keeping track of at least part of the muffled conversation. And yet they’re not helping. Oh well. He turns back to Jolyne and shrugs. “I guess it depends on the day, doesn’t it?”

“Oh.” She considers this for a moment, then: “Am I gay?”

“Uhh…” He stares at her for a moment, filtering the question into sense while Josuke makes some sort of joke about fighting as a means of flirtation – “You guys know what I mean, eh, Kakyoin-san, Jotaro-san?” – which Jotaro acknowledges with a vague shrug before focusing back on Jolyne. There is a rumble of laughter from around the room, and Jotaro takes the opportunity to clear his throat.

“I, uh…” He takes the thin gold chain on his jacket in hand and begins to play with it. “Girls who like girls are called lesbians, if that’s what you mean.”

Jolyne tips her head. He tries to come up with something a little more substantial. “Well. You already know some stupid people don’t see you as a girl, so they might see you as straight if you like girls or gay for guys. But no one here would see you like that. Either way, this is really the sort of thing you have to decide for yourself.”

“…oh.” Jolyne turns away a little. “Right.”

There is a small round of applause as Josuke’s speech comes to an end, and Jotaro finds himself wondering if he should attempt to produce some helpful words of comfort for her. He’s not sure there is much comfort for her, out in the world where people are cruel and don’t understand. Things are maybe a little better than when he was her age, and she has a whole roomful of friends and relations to rely on right here, but that’s not very helpful in finding someone to love out in a world where even he still gets the odd idiot who can’t tell the difference between his past and his more authentic present.

He makes the wrong choice, and stays silent to clap for the speech.

Chapter Text

‘Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;

My sin was too much hope of thee, loved boy’

 – Ben Jonson, On my First Son

“Well, Josh’ke,” slurs Joseph, swaying slightly even with the help of his cane, “con… grash’lashions. Y’know, you r’mind me… sho mush of my shelf…”

Oh no. Joseph always gets… weird when he’s drunk. Whoever’s idea it was to give Joseph unlimited sake, at his age, is just asking for trouble.

“Jolyne, do you know where Shizuka is?”

“Yaya’s introducing her to Pol-Pol and Uncle Avdol and Cousin Giorno.”

“Right. Do me a favour and go join them, will you?”

“Why?”

“Just… I have to go do something, ‘kay?”

“…Right.”

Adequately reassured that Jolyne won’t get in the way, Jotaro edges closer to Joseph to attempt a little bit of damage control in case he does anything crazy.

“Aha, uh, thanks, I guess…” replies Josuke, rubbing the back of his neck. “Uhh… You want to sit down for a bit?”

“No… lishen, boy.” Joseph pounds a hand onto Josuke’s shoulder with surprising strength for an eighty-six-year old; Josuke nearly buckles to the ground completely but just about keeps his footing, if not his breath. “Y’r… a good boy. Y’can wear what th’hell y’want. Y’know…” He jabs a finger roughly into Josuke’s chest, and Jotaro sees Josuke flinch. Ah, shit, that’s his binder area, isn’t it? That’s definitely a shitty feeling. “I ushed t’ dresh like a woman… shometimesh… Pretty damn hot, ‘f I shay sho my shelf… I’m shaying y’can be whoever you want… any—urp – thing…”

“Uh… yeah...” Josuke coughs. “Where’s this coming from?”

Before Jotaro can do anything about it, Joseph smears a hand down Josuke’s face, smudging the light layer of makeup that very likely took Josuke a long time to get right. “Llll… lipshtick…” Joseph explains. “Looksh great. Y’ra… fine man. Good luck t’you. Y’know, I ushed to have a boy like Ok… Ok’yashu. Don’… don’ lettim die.” He sniffles. “Long, long… long, long time ago. Long ago. Love m’wife. Loved your mother. Loved Shiz… Shizuka?”

“You’re drunk, old man,” states Jotaro, finally deciding to step in and pull him off Josuke. “C’mon. I’ll bring you back to your hotel room and you can sleep it off.”

“Nnnooo… Wanna… Wanna tell you some’n.” He half-flops in Josuke’s general direction, pince-nez sliding precariously down his nose. “Y’ra… gooboy. Good shon. Wanna make it up t’you. ‘M a terr’ble dad…” Another sniff. “Y’didn’t tell me y’were… wash th’word… transhgen’er.”

“That’s his business, old man,” grunts Jotaro. “I don’t know where you heard it from if not from him, but it’s his choice not to tell you.”

“I know… I j’st…” Joseph hiccups. “I wa’nt… washn’t there f’you…” He starts to sob gently. Ah shit, he’s crying, shit, now what? “Wa’nt there t’save Caesar. Wa’nt there f’you, Jot’ro... Could’ve made thingsh… better. Josh’ke, Josh’ke, I’m sho fucking sh-shorry… Your shister would’ve hated you…”

“Okay, time to go,” growls Jotaro, slinging one of Joseph’s arms over his shoulder. He has to stoop down to be at Joseph’s old and hunched level; his back will probably kill him for that in the morning. “Let’s not let talking about her ruin our nice evening.”

“H-how…?” Joseph runs his free hand down Jotaro’s bicep, invisible crackling sparks of pain flowing down Jotaro’s skin in its wake. “Holy hell, you’re shtrong… Tha’sh the Joeshtar in you, m’boy. Built like a… washname… brick shithouse.”

“What?” He blinks. “Sorry, what?”

“Brick…” Joseph hiccups again. “Shithouse.”

“What’s that s’posed to mean? What’s a ‘shithouse’ and why’s it made of brick? How’s that relate to my muscles?”

Joseph sways for a moment in contemplation of these questions. “Sh… ‘sh an English shpeech of… figure of… idiom. Y’know. Metaphor.”

Jotaro stares at his grandfather in confusion. “Explain.”

“… Iunno, Jot’ro, ‘m too drunk for thish…” Joseph leans further into Jotaro, as if to emphasise his point. “Jush means… you’re really big an’ mushcly, y’know?”

“Oh.” Jotaro looks down at himself, then back at Joseph. “Right.”

“Is there a problem here, gentlemen?” It’s Giorno, hovering next to Josuke and only really adding more of a complication to the problem.

“I’m taking care of him,” replies Jotaro. “He just needs to go drink some water and lie down.”

“Hey, y’r not Caesar,” Joseph says, sounding almost offended by the fact that Giorno isn’t who he expected. He tips his head, and then: “I know you. Y’r dad. Threw a knife ’t me. Hurt.”

“I do apologize on his behalf,” Giorno murmurs.

“Threw loadsh of knivesh at Jot’ro,” adds Joseph.

Josuke gulps. Clearly his English isn’t so bad that he can’t understand Joseph’s half-coherent slurring, then. “Oh, that’s where all those scars come from…”

“It doesn’t matter.” Jotaro turns himself and Joseph towards the exit. “It was a long time ago. So don’t worry about it. You’re both part of the family now.”

“Fine bloody shight, the shpawn of DIO at my bloody son’sh wedding!” Joseph struggles, craning his neck around to try and catch sight of the other two. “I din’t loshe my hand t’a god f’thish kind’ve dishre—cheek!”

Jotaro doesn’t comment on that. Probably best not to mention Jolyne at this point, or to point out that yelling about not accepting someone into the family only a minute after going on about accepting someone else into the family is a little hypocritical.

“I’ll, uhh…” Josuke coughs after him. “I’ll let Kakyoin-san know where you’ve gone, right?”

“Thanks.” He doesn’t turn around, merely continuing to half-drag, half-carry Joseph away from any more potential victims of his drunkenness. Tomoko, in particular. “Look after yourselves.”

“Joeshtar men… all die young, y’know.” Oh god, Joseph is still ranting. Jotaro grunts and steadies himself for the long slog all the way back to Joseph’s hotel room. “We’re sh’poshed t’wait till marriage, fuck only our shpouse, have a kid, an’ die a hero b’fore th’age o’ fifty. B’fore we have a chanshe t’fuck thingsh up. Exshep’ me. Makesh no shenshe… Granny! Why’d you shay that, huh? Din’ want me t’get wi’ Ce, huh? Well y’ got y’r fuckin’ wish!” Joseph slaps Jotaro’s chest with his free hand. “Hey, Jot’ro… y’ra real Joeshtar man…”

“But I haven’t… never mind.”

It’s going to be a while before he can finally convince Joseph to go to bed.

Chapter Text

‘You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…’ - Dr Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

“Doctor… Did you really mean what you said last night?”

“Hm?”

It’s early the next morning, too early for most people. Upstairs, Nori is taking a long shower in their room; Jolyne is still be asleep but will definitely be up soon. Jotaro needs coffee. As expected, his back feels as though it’s being torn apart and twisted against his will. The painkillers are only barely helping.

He blinks at Giorno for a moment before registering fully that they’re here in the otherwise empty dining room, presumably also getting an early-morning dose of caffeine, and that they just asked him a question. “Mean what?”

“That I’m part of the family.” Giorno ducks their head. “You barely even know me.”

“Oh, that.” Jotaro rubs his face, then shrugs. “I meant it. Besides, there’s a lot of other family members I barely know. Or I didn’t used to know them. Doesn’t mean they’re not. You’re as much of a Joestar as any of us.”

Giorno coughs. “Ah… Didn’t I hear Mister Joestar say something last night about how all the Joestars die young? I’m not sure I want that… dubious honour.”

“Good grief. I wouldn’t take anything the old fart says while drunk seriously if I were you,” Jotaro grunts. He really needs that coffee. “Just because he can predict the future sometimes doesn’t mean he’s always right. ‘Sides, he specified Joestar men, so you’re probably safe if you want to be.”

(The whole ‘inherited fate’ thing is bullshit anyway. As if anyone would actually want all those rules about whether or not to have sex and when just for it to lead to an early death. Yeah, right.  Jotaro is a Kujo man, and proud of it. It’s like Nori always says: it’s okay to take things as slow as he needs, it doesn’t make him any less of a man. Nori would never force him to do something he didn’t want, and he’d never force them either. The time for bullshit about ‘real men’ ended long ago.)

“Hm. Perhaps a little safer than you are, at any rate.” A sigh, and Giorno shakes their head. “I just… I don’t understand. How you can still consider me family after all that you went through. I mean, do you really think you can have the same kind of relationship with me that you have with, say, Josuke?”

He grabs a clean mug from by the coffee pot and begins to fill it up. “No. Josuke’s like a son to me. You can’t replicate that, because you’re a different person to Josuke. But you deserve to be here as much as Josuke does.”

Giorno strokes their chin. “And if I don’t want to be?”

“You accepted the invitation. You talked a lot with Josuke. And you came to me and asked.” He peers at them from under the brim of his hat, trying to get a hold on what exactly they want from this conversation anyway. Support? Or rejection? “That seems like you do want to be. If you didn’t want anything to do with us, you’d just keep with your mafia family.”

“I…” They take a breath. “That’s different. My mafia and I are bonded in the blood of our mutual enemies. The Joestars are only bonded with genetics. You and I, for example, share a connection only because I’m Jolyne’s sibling.”

“That’s not true.” Then: “Well. That’s part of it. But that’s not what’s really important.”

“Then what is?” they enquire.

He takes a sip of coffee and shakes his head, not entirely sure himself what it is.

“Is it because of how I helped you with that, ahh, transplant?” Giorno guesses.

“What?” Jotaro stares at them for a moment, then: “No, not that. It did help, but… it’s not like you needed to earn anything from us. Speaking of, though, did Josuke accept the… offer?”

Giorno shakes their head. “He wants to wait a few years. Although he did kindly offer to return the favour.”

“Did you accept?”

“I’ve already made all the changes to my body that I think are necessary,” they shrug. A pause, and Jotaro can feel Giorno’s eyes on him, piercing through him even with several layers of clothing and a hat on. Then: “You still haven’t answered the question. What makes me a Joestar? If it’s not genetics, or fighting together, or favours, then what is it?”

“I… don’t know.” He takes another swig of coffee. “You’re just… one of us now. You have a lot of Jonathan in you. The good one, or so I’m told.”

“The good one, huh.” Giorno seems to think about this for a while. “…You remind me of Bucciarati,” they say, at last. “You have the permanently pissed attitude of Abbacchio, but your soul is similar to that of a man whose acceptance meant more to me than any social status I could have hoped to gain by joining Passione.” A breath. “Thank you.”

“You’re… welcome?” Jotaro blinks. “Wait, what do you mean, ‘permanently pissed’?”

“Ah, it’s just that you tend to look quite…” They gesture towards their own face wordlessly.

“Oh. That.” He groans. “Yeah, I get that a lot.”

“…I beg your pardon, it was rude of me to point it out like that.”

“No, it’s fine.” He drums the fingers of his free hand against the hot coffee cup. “There’s plenty about you I can criticize, as well.”

“Like the fact that my father threw a load of knives at you?” asks Giorno.

“Yeah, that was a bit shit,” he snorts. “I mean, he also indirectly got Nori and me together, so…”

Giorno catches themselves in the middle of a chuckle, covering their mouth with one slender hand. “God. I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t be laughing at that, I…”

“It’s fine, it’s not like I got serious permanent scars and trauma from it, or anything…” He tips his head at them. “I don't think I've seen you laughing before, though.”

Giorno hesitates. "Ah... I suppose I don't do it that much. But, be honest, how often do you laugh?"

He thinks about this, and: "Good point."

“People like us don’t often have a lot to laugh about,” they agree, without clarifying what they mean by ‘us’. Joestars? Stand users? People with long-standing psychological damage from fighting an evil psychopath? All three, probably.

“...I guess not,” he says.

“I’m sorry.” Giorno coughs and turns back to the hot drinks available, not specifying exactly what it is they’re sorry for this time. “By the way, can you read the writing for all this? I’m looking for some tea.”

“Don’t bother,” grunts Jotaro. “Bag tea in this country all tastes like piss.”

“No,” says Giorno, without looking up from the small selection. “It really doesn’t.”

 

And that’s it. They’re done. Josuke and Okuyasu are going on a short honeymoon to… where was it, again? Some place up north that apparently they both liked when visiting. The rest of them clean up in Morioh, making sure Joseph doesn’t interact too much with Tomoko and vice versa, making sure Shizuka doesn’t get in the way, making sure everyone is okay and not about to explode. One by one, people leave to their own homes or towns or countries, exchanging contact details with their new friends and promising to call and visit again.

The three of them – Nori, Jolyne, and himself – are the last to go. Tomoko and a few of the Morioh youngsters wave them off; they wave back, and he wonders whether they’ll be okay on their own. Probably. At any rate, now all there is to do for everyone is to resign themselves quietly back into a quiet, peaceful life.

(Or not.)

Chapter Text

‘A cherry lip, a bonny eye, a passing pleasing tongue’

 – William Shakespeare, Richard III (1.1.94)

“And you’re sure it’s okay?” he asks.

“Of course,” nods Nori. “I’ve heard it feels great on everyone, no matter their gender.”

“…Okay then.” It would be a travesty to disappoint them; on the other hand, he never really understands how they can need this, want this so often. Nevertheless, he shuffles down and begins to smooth his hands over and over their thighs, mostly to ground himself but also because, apparently, it makes the overall effect that much better.

This… has been a learning experience for Jotaro. Multiple learning experiences, actually. To find out, after so many years together (give or take 3 years of time travel), that Nori wants this kind of thing and even enjoys it – well.

They stroke his cheek, leaving behind three lines which feel as though they are glowing, painful red; it’s a sensitive day. Not their fault. He feels the urge to wipe it off all the same. The next best thing is to initiate the touch: that he knows from experience. It still is… tingly, but perhaps slightly less so. And at least he knows where he’s going to get those sensations, rather than being zapped with it out of nowhere.

He lowers his head and opens his mouth, rather nervous that he might not get this right after all. It is, after all, the first time he’s attempted this specific activity. Hands are all very well, but this…

On the other hand, of course (so to speak): He really likes spending time with Nori. He likes it when they’re happy. He likes to do fun things with them, like fight Stands and fail at video games. He likes it when they’re happy. He even likes touching them, most of the time, and if that isn’t true love he’s not sure what is. So this is… just another part of that, really.

And he does learn something. He keeps experimenting, with an occasional suggestion from Nori, and at last figures out what works best for them until they’re done. Success.

He’s actually rather proud of himself.

 

“Okay,” Nori says, eventually. “My turn.”

Oh no. He’s been dreading this a little, even though logically he knows he has nothing to fear from them, dreading the confrontation of his needs – or lack thereof – with their desires. It’s odd: he had half-expected, hoped even, that having an actual functioning dick would change things for him. Make him somehow more interested, more receptive. But, in the end, the other half was right all along; he feels the same about Nori as he’s always felt. It’s not that he minds a little bit of experimentation. But… not this. Not now. He puts a hand on their breastbone, not pushing away but not allowing them any closer, and sighs. “It’s fine, Nori. Leave it.”

“Leave it?” they echo. “It’s not very fair for you if I’m the one who has all the fun.”

Good grief. He looks away. “But… that’s just it. I might not have fun. You’d probably be really good at it, cause of that cherry thing you do, I just…” A breath. “It wouldn’t be fair on you if I didn’t react right, either.”

Nori pauses for a moment. “You’re not ready, huh?”

“Not…” Jotaro bites his lip and tries to find the right way to express it. “Not today. Or most days. You know that. But I can do this. If you want it.”

“No,” Nori replies. “Not if I’m just using you. That’s not right at all.”

“You… wouldn’t be?” Jotaro frowns. “I’d just be helping you. It might surprise you, but I actually kinda like you, asswipe. So I’d be happy to.”

They turn onto their side to face him. “And then what, have this become some sort of chore for you just to keep me satisfied? I’m not going to make myself a burden for you, Jotaro. I already rely on you for so much, and you’re not even getting anything in return.”

He bunches the blanket up in both hands, twisting and tightening his grasp on the cloth. “I already have you.”

“Jotaro…”

“How about if…” He looks back at them and takes their hand. “I’ll let you do it another time. When I’m feeling up to it. Then it’s fair on everyone. Deal?”

They make a hmm noise. “And you’d tell me if you wanted it? You’re sure about that?”

“…Yeah,” he says. “Sure. I can do that.”

“Then… okay. It’s a deal.” They squeeze his hand. “As long as you’re comfortable. Just let me reciprocate sometimes, okay?”

“…right.” He’ll try. It might take him a while to mentally prepare for it, but he’ll definitely try.

Chapter Text

‘This journey of yours will not prove futile or fruitless.’ – Homer, The Odyssey

“Jolyne…” Nori clears their throat. “Look, you’re at the age now when you’ll be going through some changes soon. It’s very normal for those changes to make you uncomfortable, so just let us know if there’s anything we can do to help.”

Jolyne hesitates. “What… what kind of changes?”

They sigh. “With your hormones the way they are now, you’ll probably start to grow more like Dad.” A nod towards Jotaro. “You know, bigger, stronger… hairier…”

“…Oh.” She tips her head. “Do I have to?”

“No,” he replies. “Actually, if you want to look more feminine instead you can. The Speedwagon Foundation is good with that sort of stuff.”

“You’d probably go on blockers first, to stop you developing much more,” adds Nori. “Then you could move onto female hormones later, if you wanted.”

Jolyne chews at her lip.

“Think about it,” concludes Nori. “You know very well we’ll support you no matter what decision you make.”

“I don’t get it,” she whines. “Why is this even happening?”

They explain.

(It’s hard to explain about this sort of stuff when neither of them are as familiar with her style of genitals as she is, and especially not when he has never done what is being described to her and Nori doesn’t even remember it happening to them. For all of them, right now, this entire discussion is entirely theoretical. At least he hopes so. She’s thirteen, for god’s sake.)

 

It’s not very long after that when Jolyne – accompanied by Nori – has a successful Speedwagon Foundation appointment to decide which treatment is best for her; it’ll be another while yet before she gets onto blockers, let alone female hormones (if she feels that’s what’s right for her), but he’s glad she’s starting to make progress. She’s got the right name, accurate in as many places as they can realistically have it at this point; she’s got good clothes she’s starting to grow better into; and most importantly, she’s got both of them.

Well, if they can be there, of course.

“Whose turn is it to go this time?” he sighs, looking at the scanned and blurry images they’ve been sent by the Foundation.

“Mine,” says Nori.

“Need anything?”

“No. Probably not.”

It’s the same conversation every time, or very similar, anyway. One leaves, one stays behind and works at their day job and tries to keep track of where and how and why Jolyne is at any given point. One comes back, perhaps injured or with another person’s blood on their hands, and has to face their daughter with the assurance that “work” really did need them to go to Malaysia, again. Nori is always better at that part than he is; they’ve always had good grace and balance in the face of her innocent questions.

“How was Terengganu?” he asks.

“There was a talking house Stand.”

“What.”

“Yeah, [Another Brick in the Wall] was weird.”

“Good grief. Did you get hurt?”

“Don’t think so.”

He glances over to where very likely, Jolyne will soon be coming in from school. “Want to get cleaned up?”

“…Yeah.” And a few minutes later when Jolyne comes in, they’re relaxing on the sofa, as if they never left, with a, “How was school, Jolyne?”

“You’re back already?” She shrugs. “It was… fine. Where’d you get that bruise?”

Nori lifts their forearm, as if they haven’t even noticed the dark purple developing just below the crook of their elbow. “…Oh, yeah. I just knocked it on a door handle. Must have been worse than I thought.”

(“It threw an entire door at me, Jotaro. Several, actually. There was no way I wasn’t going to get hit some time.”)

(“Did you get injured anywhere else?”)

(“Well, no. But still.”)

And the next time a call comes around:

“Whose turn is it this time?” asks Nori.

“Mine.”

And that’s where things start to go wrong.

Chapter Text

‘Sometimes it was harder to change the past than it was the future.’

 ― Kate Atkinson, Life After Life

Tokyo, mid-2006. The tinny ringtone echoes emptily down the deserted alley, and Jotaro picks up his mobile. “Nori? Is something wrong?”

“Well, uhh…” There is a cough from the other end of the line. “Are you busy, Jotaro?”

Jotaro glances behind him, into the dark shadows that seem to be slowly advancing, and begins to walk faster. “Uh. I can keep myself from dying for a few minutes, why?”

“Jolyne’s been arrested.”

What?” Jotaro finds a doorway set back from the rest of the street and shelters himself inside it, switching the phone to his other hand to keep an eye out for [The Beatles]. Its hearing is not so great, but its vision…

“She tells me she’s innocent,” Nori explains. “And I do believe her, but…”

“What’s she supposed to’ve done?” asks Jotaro.

“Apparently she stole a wallet,” they reply. “Oh, and a car.”

“A car? At her age? All by herself? Good grief.”

Nori hums. “Seems suspect, I know.”

“On the other hand…” He shoves his free hand inside his pocket and bunches up the cloth in his hand. “I was doing some pretty shady shit at that age myself. Or trying to. And Giorno was only about a year older than her when they took over the entire fucking Italian Mafia.”

“Even so…” A pause. “I don’t think she’s at that level. She says it was a misunderstanding.”

“So are you bailing her out?” he asks. “Or are you going to… be strict with her?”

There is the faint clicking of tiny sharp insectoid feet down the alleyway. Oh god. Not now. Can’t it leave him alone for one minute?

“Oh, she’s coming home with me,” Nori replies. “Though I’m considering grounding her for a couple of days or so. Maybe a week.”

“I see.” He nods. “You have enough money to get her out?”

“I have enough.”

“Good.”

(It's been following him for a few blocks now, skittering to a halt every time he stops and beginning again when he steps forward again; it seems almost to bring the darkness with it.)

"So, anyway..." Nori coughs. "How's Tokyo?"

In the darkness, Jotaro catches sight of several small points of yellow, as of the street lights on the other end of the alley reflecting off a few menacing pairs of eyes. "Oh, you know. Lots of tourists, busy traffic, a few giant insects. The usual."

(They’re tough, tough enough that Star has trouble breaking even one, and he can only fight so many at a time. This one seems to enjoy their little game of cat-and-mouse. It’s not moving anymore, even though he’s sure it’s seen him. It’s waiting for him to run.)

"Hm." A breath. "How long?"

"Three days, minimum. I'll come back as soon as I can."

(There’s got to be some sort of trick to it. He’s already tried to find the User; there has to be some sort of weakness he can exploit with them. Maybe fire? Or chemicals?)

"You always do. Turd.”

"I love you, Nori. And I love her, too. Tell her that, okay?"

(Going towards it, facing it head-on in this darkened alleyway, is tempting. On the other hand… there are flammable and toxic things further into the city. Further near the people. Assuming he’s right, of course. He really, really hopes he’s right. He doesn’t want another rampage on his hands.)

There is a chuckle. "I will. Love you too. See you in a few days."

(There’s nothing for it. If he wants to try and trap this bitch, if he wants to live, he’ll have to use the Joestar Secret Technique. He tenses, ready to move as soon as his phone is back in his pocket.)

"Yeah."

It'll be fine. She’ll be fine.

(Right?)

Chapter Text

‘Why do we have such a difficult relationship? Why can’t we just love each other like a normal family?’ – Ruth Ozeki, All Over Creation

He comes home around dinner time. Kisses Nori on the cheek, raises a hand to greet Jolyne sitting at the table. She doesn’t wave back.

“So, I hear you go arrested.”

Silence.

“How was it?”

More silence.

“Did they treat you okay?”

“What do you care,” she mutters.

“What?” He blinks at her. “What do you mean?”

“Tch.” She gets up from the table, picking up her plate to take with her. “Never mind. You wouldn’t get it.”

“Get what?” She leaves the room, completely ignoring his question, and he turns to Nori. “Was it something I said?”

“I have no idea,” they reply. “I thought she was doing all right.”

He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to have done wrong, whether it’s just her being an awkward teenager or whether he really has done something unforgivable. Either way, she barely speaks to him from then on, only to Nori. As if he isn’t there. As if there’s nothing more to be said to him worth saying anymore. Every effort on his part to ask about her day, her arrest, her anything, is met with a sulky silence before she eventually turns to Nori as if the minor interruption never happened; even Nori’s attempts at encouraging her to be at least civil with him go unnoticed.

Well. That’s life, probably. He’ll have to deal with it as best he can.

“Oh? Getting a bit of karma at last, are you?” sniggers Joseph, when he calls. “That’s just teenagers for you, I’m afraid. Even you-know-who was like that for a while. And I do remember a certain someone being the world’s least likeable asshole before Kakyoin convinced you to finally grow up a bit.”

Jotaro frowns. “At least when I acted out I had a good reason for it. Everything in my life was shitty for a pretty long time. We’re trying to make things better for her, but –”

“You’re operating under the assumption that all teens are as rational as you are now. Whereas it’s more like they’re constantly playing some sort of mood roulette. So, it might be you, or it might just be hormones screwing with her mind. Now, if you’ll excuse me – Suzi wants me to help with something –”

The phone goes dead, and Jotaro is more confused than ever.

 

Time goes by. She is still avoiding him. She has been avoiding him like a nasty smell for months, and he still hasn't quite figured out why. Every time he sees her, it's either bitter insults or, well, nothing at all.

(It just doesn’t make sense. She’s on the road to transition, taking blockers for now until she’s ready, and she’s already accepted as a girl no matter what. She has all the clothes and makeup and jewellery she can ask for, and she wears her hair exactly the way she wants it without criticism. So why is she unhappy? What on earth has he done wrong?)

He does try asking, several times. Most of the time, she storms out of the room with a, "Stop trying to pretend you care!"

That's not helpful. He asks Nori. They don't know either.

"Maybe it's a hormonal thing?"

"She's not even on oestrogen yet."

"I mean, you clearly do care. Tell you what, I'll try and ask her and then you can try and address the problem."

"Please."

But: "... She yelled at me for 'taking your side'."

And another time: "She said something about emotions? And then she told me that she was never ever going to speak to you again."

"Oh, great. What the fuck did I do to her?"

He tries asking her that, too, the censored version. She says: "Oh, fuck you."

It’s getting worse.

Star sits on the end of the bed, legs and arms crossed, and stares resolutely at Jotaro with the kind of aura that radiates pure reproachfulness. Without saying a word, without even saying ‘Ora’, he somehow inspires a feeling of guilt that doesn’t even make sense, because what is it that Jotaro’s actually done, anyway?

“What,” grunts Jotaro. “Don’t tell me you’re mad at me, too. What do you want from me?”

“Ora,” says Star, jerking his head towards Jolyne’s room.

“Yeah? What do you want me to say, huh? I don’t even know why she’s mad!”

“Ora,” Star insists, pointing at him and then at the door.

“She’s not going to just answer me if I ask her, Star. It’s not that easy.”

Star turns his head away and makes what almost sounds like a ‘hmmph’ noise. “Ora, Ora.”

Jotaro throws up his hands. “Good grief. If I ‘must have done something’, then tell me what it is. Go on, tell me.”

“Ora.” Star sits back and nods, as if the entire discussion can be easily resolved with that single word. “Ora, Ora, Ora.”

“That’s all very well for you to say.” He groans and goes to sit down next to Star. “Look, I… I’m trying, okay? I just don't get it. I'm calling her by her name, treating her like a girl, I'm trying to come home as often as I can... What else does she want? Is there something I'm missing?"

"Ora," shrugs Star. 

“I just…” Jotaro pulls down his hat. “I don’t know what to do, Star. That’s all there is to it. I don’t know how to help.”

“Ora, Ora.” Star shakes his head. “Ora.”

“You said it,” Jotaro sighs. “Raising her is difficult.”

Chapter Text

‘It’s not your fault. I didn’t mean for you to find out. It was my problem, and I took care of it the only way I knew how.’

– Ruth Ozeki, All Over Creation

“I can’t believe it!” The screen lights up with the slightly pixelated image of Avdol and Pol on the computer screen. “It’s working! Hello, you two!”

“Hi,” replies Jotaro, grasping at his jacket and sliding his thumb up and down the collar. “Looks like you did figure out the technology after all.”

“Pfft,” snorts Pol. “Like you can talk. Kakyoin, how long was it before he gave up and left the computer aspect to you?”

“Oh, he didn’t even begin to try, I just don’t trust him with anything more complicated than a phone...” Nori adjusts the camera on top of the screen to get a better image of the two of them; onscreen, the square blocky image moves accordingly, lagging slightly but still relatively good quality. “Anyway, what’s up with you two? It’s been a while since we’ve had a chat…”

“We are very well, thank you.” The blurry shape representing Avdol moves just a little behind its originator. “Helping Giorno and the Foundation out keeps us busy, as I’m sure it does you.”

Jotaro nods. “Yeah. Stand users are getting more common, I guess.”

“They are. Arrow or no arrow.” A pause, then: “Speaking of Stand users – or not – how is young Jolyne doing? Well, I hope?”

“No Stand of her own yet,” Nori tells him. “But yes, she’s all right.”

“Maybe she’ll want to see you two,” adds Jotaro. “Talk to you herself.”

"Oh, good point… Jolyne!" calls Nori, turning their head towards the hall. "Where is she? She should be home… Honestly, that girl..." They send out Hierophant in the direction of Jolyne's room. "She's starting to get into the whole teenage rebellion thing, I don't know where she gets it from..." They sling a spiky-feeling arm around Jotaro's shoulders and shake their head. "She even got arrested a little while ago."

"Hah!" Avdol's voice crackles through the speaker. "She really does take after you, Jotaro, eh?"

Jotaro snorts. "Yeah, right. That makes no genetic sense."

"No, it's not a genetic thing, you're just a bad influ—oh.” Suddenly Nori flushes a deep pink and coughs. "Oh, I should not have seen that."

"Seen what?" asks Pol, their time-delayed image moving closer to the screen.

The green aura around Nori that signals their use of Hierophant disappears, a candle suddenly put out and still smoking. Nori covers their mouth and mutters: "I shouldn’t have gone through the wall like that, that was very inappropriate." It's inaudible except to Jotaro, who suddenly gets a better idea of what's going on and looks away from the screen in second-hand embarrassment.

"Anyway," he says, trying to veer onto a more appropriate subject without having any idea how this small talk shit is supposed to work, "so you two, uhh, gone anywhere interesting lately?"

"What's the matter with you two today?" Pol chuckles. "Kakyoin not knowing what to say and Jotaro asking us questions? It's a bit of a role reversal, don't you think?"

He folds his arms. "Hey. I do talk to you, you're exaggerating."

"Not by much, if I'm honest, Jotaro," replies Avdol. Beside him, Pol's picture goes through a broken and jerky nod. "But I know you care for us really."

Nori, apparently somewhat recovered, leans into Jotaro again to get themselves more fully in view of the camera. "Oh, it's easy to figure him out once you know the trick. Just the other day..."

Jotaro puts an arm round their waist and rolls his eyes as the other three take every opportunity to gently tease him; if he’s really honest, he doesn't really mind it coming from any of them. It's all in good fun. Besides, it provides a welcome distraction from the awareness of what Nori saw just now, makes it less difficult to face Jolyne later.

(She's at that age, he supposes. Time really is moving forward so quickly...)

Chapter Text

‘…A single green light, minute and faraway, that might have been the end of a dock.’

 – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

It’s his turn to fight Stands again. This time he finds himself on the end of a run-down wooden pier jutting out into a medium-sized lake; across from him on some sort of little pontoon stands a short dark-skinned man wearing a kilt and tam-o-shanter.

“Ye won’t be able ta get ta me, Kujo!” yells the man. “I’m 10 meters awae!” He gestures to the gently rolling waves in between the two of the, not even enough to rock the pontoon. “Ye cannae swim this distance afore I set off ma [Mull of Kintyre]!”

“Hm,” says Jotaro. “And what does that do?”

“Ach!” The Scotsman produces a large, green-glowing set of bagpipes. “[Mull of Kintyre] produces such a loud and high-pitched noise that not only will ye go permanently deaf, the vibrations will cause yer very cells ta die oot! Ye cannae walk on water, Kujo!”

“Hm.” Jotaro kneels down briefly and dips a hand into the cool water. It is, as he expected, wet, and definitely not the sort of substance that would allow a heavy thing – such as himself – to remain on the surface indefinitely. He stands up again. “You know, I’ve always wanted to try something in a situation like this.”

“Och aye?” The Scotsman puts his lips up to the bagpipe’s mouthpiece. “Go on then. Try me.”

Just as the Scotsman takes a deep breath, Jotaro tenses, switches on [The World], and –

sprints.

The effect is, pleasingly, exactly as he hoped it would be – he splashes like a skipping stone over the surface of the water, fast enough not to sink in while most of the bulk of the lake is caught in one single instant of time as if frozen. Only the miniscule areas where his feet touch for an instant loosen slightly, as if he’s running at full speed through a shallow puddle.

He jumps onto the pontoon, just as his five second time limit comes to an end.

The Scotsman, his eyes closed tight, puffs out his cheeks –

Jotaro grabs the neck of the bagpipe –

The bagpipe makes an undignified squawk –

The Scotsman’s head snaps upwards, and there is a slightly choked gasp.

“Oh, shite,” says the Scotsman.

“Correct,” says Jotaro.

 

Even at home, there are people out to get Nori and him. Even walking in the street, going to pick up some food from the corner shop. Even from what looks like a trio of religious nutjobs who probably believe Stands are angels or some shit.

“Hi there,” says the tallest woman. “My name is Beatrice G. Scissor, and these are my sisters Jude and Eileen. We’d like to take a moment of your time to talk to you about our lord and saviour TAKE THIS!”

A massive metallic looking gauntlet rushes up towards Jotaro’s face, narrowly missing slamming straight into his jaw as Jotaro just manages to jolt out of the way in time, and he’s ready with fists and Star at the ready in only a few moments, panting slightly and regarding the three sisters with narrowed eyes.

Beatrice has what looks like a wearable Stand, a pair of red and purple gauntlets with what looks like little yellow diamonds at the knuckle; beside her Jude (or possibly Eileen) is flexing a pair of giant wings (what use are those going to have in a fight?), and Eileen (or possibly Jude) wears a large grey visor with a red slit cut where the eyes should be.

He takes a deep breath and balls up his fists, running his thumbs back and forth over the knuckles. It still bothers him to have to hurt women, but he’s learnt not to shy away from it. After all, underestimating [Desert Rose] nearly cost him an arm, and no one wants to have to repeat a lesson like that. Besides, they tried to punch him first.

“I don’t know why you felt the need to introduce yourselves,” he tells them, using his favourite tried and trusted one liner, “because I’m going to beat you all so hard you won’t remember your own names.”

“Hm,” shrugs Beatrice. “We’ll see. Let’s go!”

The fight is not particularly unusual. The gauntlet woman actually manages to go fist to fist with Star for almost half a minute. But in the end, the Scissor trio make the beginner's mistake of attacking one at a time and not mobbing him all at once with aerial attacks, punches, and what turns out to be eye lasers, so it takes very little time for Jotaro to get them all to back down and play nice.

Even so. He just wants to get some fruit juice, damnit.

Chapter Text

‘The Lord hath smitten him by the hand of a woman.’ – Book of Judith 16:7

“Jotaro.”

“Oh, Nori. How’s Mexico, you overgrown cactus?”

“Not good. Manageable. But not good.”

“Do you need me to come over?”

“No, it’s fine for now. I just need you to take down some numbers for me.” A gasp, then a staticky rustle of leaves, as if Nori has suddenly ducked into some conveniently-placed undergrowth. “Fuck, I think they spotted me. Oh, no, it’s just a regular patrol.”

“So what have you found?” asks Jotaro, tucking the phone into the crook of his neck.

“The air base.” Nori takes a breath. “They’ve hidden it away in some sort of ancient Aztec temple or something, I don’t know how they shifted all that stone without anyone noticing, but they’ve somehow hollowed it out. Anyway, stay on the line, I’ll need the statistics I’m about to give you.”

“Go on.” Jotaro fishes out his notebook and – ah, fuck. “Hang on.” He glances over to Jolyne, ensconced on the couch in her ripped jeans and leather jacket, engrossed in texting… someone. “Jolyne, could you get me a pen?”

Without looking up, Jolyne grunts and flips him the bird; apparently not.

“Good grief, Jolyne, I don’t have time for this, just – oh, thank you, Star.”

“Ora,” replies Star, handing him the pen.

“Okay, so what were the numbers…?”

“Right, yes, so the number of airplane fanatic Stand users at the base is approximately 21…”

Without being dismissed, Star wanders over and sits next to Jolyne – or, at least, hovers in a vaguely seated position beside her. He looks over at her, gentle and quiet, and lifts a hand to touch her shoulder. “Ora?”

“Fuck off.” Jolyne bats Star’s hand away. “Don’t try that. You can’t even talk.”

“Ora,” nods Star, folding his hands. For the rest of Jotaro’s call with Nori, he simply sits there, not saying or doing anything, with his enhanced hearing capturing everything from the way her breaths barely catch on a growl at his presence to the way her typing sounds so much more violent and aggressive now that he’s here. But he doesn’t go away.

Neither of them want him to go away.

 

“Yo, uhh…” The teen has a multicoloured hairstyle much more vibrant than the green-dyed highlights in Jolyne’s hair, some badly-applied eyeliner, and a shit ton of piercings pretty much everywhere. “Whoah, you’re like a giant. Uh, I mean… is Jolyne in?”

He stares at the kid for a moment, and then: “Jolyne! Your friend is here!”

It takes all of thirty seconds for Jolyne to speed up to the door and push him aside. “Okay, you can get the hell out of here, for a start… Styx, I fucking told you not to come to my house, jeez, call me next time or something.”

Styx leans around her to look at Jotaro. “Why not? Your dad seems cool.”

“He’s so fucking not.” Jolyne stomps out down the steps, catching and dragging Styx behind her. “Let’s go already, Weezer and Marillion are waiting.”

“Where are you going?” asks Jotaro.

She tosses her neat green plait over her shoulder. “None of your business.”

He folds his arms and lets Star take her shoulder, confident that Styx won’t be able to see why she’s standing stiff and unmoving on the lawn. “Where.”

She bunches her fists. “The mall. Get off my fucking back already.”

“Mm.” He drums his fingers on his arm, tips his head. “It’s not like I don’t believe you, but last time you said that you were actually trying to hit up a gas station for cash which, by the way, you could easily have if you just asked.”

“Fuck off. Just because Yaya’s not here doesn’t mean you can boss me around how you like.”

“I’m doing exactly what they would do if they were here.” What they have both done, in fact, on multiple occasions before now, both together and separately. It doesn’t ever feel any less absurdly hypocritical for him. Jolyne never gets any more cooperative with either of them than she was the first time, and she certainly never gets any less rude. Especially not with him. This is the first time they’ve had any real audience, though.

“Uhh, sorry to interrupt,” Styx pipes up, “but we really are going to the mall this time. Promise.”

“Shut up, dillweed,” she spits, which is probably an indication that Styx is telling the truth.

He tips his head. Star turns her slightly: she can’t escape his gaze just yet. “When are you coming back?”

“When I fucking feel like it.”

“Prob’ly round six or seven,” supplies Styx helpfully.

“How about you close your fucking mouth for once in your life, Styx?”

Jotaro nods at the kid in silent thanks, then looks back at Jolyne. “If you get into trouble, you’re on your own. You need to take responsibility for your own actions.”

“I’ll do what the hell I want,” she growls, yanking out of Star’s grip. Star reaches out for her, but doesn’t touch; predictably enough, she ignores him and beckons to Styx. “Styx, we’re leaving.”

(Is that the right thing to do? Just let her go, knowing that she’ll probably be up to mischief anyway? He’s not sure. All he knows is that very few people kept him accountable as a teen. Holy would have backed down as soon as she was shoved out of the way, but never backed down in the times where he actually needed it. Right now, what does Jolyne need? Discipline? Or leniency?)

Styx follows her, making confused noises. Just before the two of them get out of earshot, and before Jotaro can think better of it, he says: “Hey, uhh… you kids wanna learn to hotwire a motorbike?”

“Ugh, puh-lease, we all know how to hotwire a motorbike.” She puts one hand on her hip, displaying the still-fresh butterfly tattoo that she got into so much trouble for, with the other hand still bunched in the front of Styx’s shirt. “Don’t try to be ‘cool’, it doesn’t suit you.”

“Actually, I don’t know how to –”

“Styx, I told you to shut the fuck up. We’re leaving. Now.”

“Bye, Jolyne’s dad!” yells Styx, while being towed away. “I’da totally hung out with ya!”

“Uhh… Sure. Bye.” But the two of them are already disappearing around the corner.

Good grief. He’s pretty sure that’s the first time he’s seen one of Jolyne’s actual friends, even accidentally, since she was in middle school. Somehow, it’s not quite like what he expected.

(She kind of reminds him of himself at that age. With more friends, of course. He hopes that that makes her happy. But at least she’s not smoking; or, if she is, she’s sneaky enough about it that Jotaro can’t catch the scent of it on her clothing. She’s probably not drinking. She’s never come home smelling like it, anyway. And hopefully at least some of Giorno’s persistent warnings about drugs got through to her at some point.)

(And maybe she’ll learn to tolerate him. Eventually. One day.)

(Perhaps.)

Chapter Text

‘Judge not my passion by my want of skill,

Many love well, though they express it ill.’

 – Anne Finch, A Letter to Daphnis, April 2, 1685

They have been planning this for a while now. It took a while, a lot of preparation and planning, but everything has fallen into place and, well, he's as ready as he'll ever be. He takes comfort in the fact that, since Nori doesn't remember ever doing this, they're both just as inexperienced as each other. Kind of. It's not like he doesn't know how it's supposed to work - his mother's lecture on How It Will Always Work For You, No Matter What, No Questions Asked left him somewhat traumatized but a lot more aware of what usually happens. Usually. To women.

…Maybe it’s better that they’re learning together. Now that a lot of the things she talked about don’t apply to him anymore. If he tries this as himself, with his real body, even once, maybe he’ll like it. Or not. Right now, it’s a confusing mess of colour and sound and feelings, and he’d rather be deep underwater suspended in the cool high-pressure, but. Focus. He does want to try, doesn’t he?

"That’s right, like that… Remember, if you need to stop, you can."

“And… I’m not squashing you, or hurting you or something?”

“It’s fine, Jotaro, you can stop thinking about it and enjoy it,” Nori replies. “Here.” They pull his head down closer into a slow and gentle kiss; that, at least, is almost an automatic action by now, practiced enough that he knows how handle it. He can feel every centimetre of where the two of them touch with an intense and burning accuracy, the sweat, the sharp electric sparks of their hands running down his back, the desperate itch of hair – his or theirs he doesn’t know – tickling his cheek.

Not to mention every single iota of sensation from… that. It’s taken a lot of time to get this far since he picked out an average-sized plastic bottle from the trash pile Giorno presented him. It’s taken a lot of thought to mentally prepare himself. But he loves Nori, and Nori will be happy if he does this with them, and he’s gotten used to kissing and holding hands and then, after Giorno, kissing other places and using hands in other ways. This is a natural progression.

This, however, is not something to get used to. Intense and overwhelming. Almost – very nearly almost – too much. Much too much.

(He can feel everything. All at once. He’s not sure if it’s good or bad, but it’s definitely… everything. His brain feels like static.)

 

“We could do it, you know,” muses Nori, after everything is clean and calm and quiet again and they’re lying in bed with their arms draped around each other. He wrenches his eyes from an empty spot in the middle of the ceiling and flicks a glance over at them, trying to clear his mind of the need to rock himself side to side until he’s processed everything.

(This new stuff wasn’t horrible, though, was it? He thinks maybe he could even handle it again in the future. The far future, that is. Maybe a year. Once he’s gotten over the intensity and confusion of this time. And at least now he has a better idea of what to expect.)

Nori’s gentle thoughts spoken aloud, as if unintentionally, take a while to filter into his brain, turning the buzzing mess into one single point of focus. But then, that’s why he loves them. They’re good at helping him feel calm. It’s their voice: smooth, melodic, not gratingly annoying like some people. They said… Do something. Do what?

“…Huh?”

“Have another one. One that’s ours and only ours.”

“Uh…” Huh. He’s never really considered that possibility; has always been fine with just Jolyne. But there’s no real reason why it couldn’t happen, at least physically. “I guess.” His hands wander down to rub back and forth over Nori’s stomach, up and down, soft and smooth and comforting. Like petting a cat, the type that doesn't have any fur. Then: “Wouldn’t it technically be Giorno’s, though, since…?”

Nori snorts. “No, Jotaro, I’m serious, moron. Besides, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t actually work like that.”

He raises his eyebrows. “Good grief. I thought you were the one who said you were never going to do anything like that again?”

“I’m allowed to change my mind, aren’t I?”

“…You’re allowed.” He runs a hand through their hair, curling their springy locks around his fingers. “But I should remind you that you literally crushed me.”

“True.” They turn their head slightly and kiss his chest. “You asked for it.”

“Asswipe.”

“You know you love me.” Nori moves a little, wiggling into a more comfortable position before letting his hand start stroking them again. It’s nice. He's not going to stop. “Still. I suppose it is quite a lot more to take on. We’re busy enough as it is.”

“Mm,” he agrees. “Not to mention the money.”

“And I don’t know anything about what to do with siblings.” They sigh. “Jolyne would definitely be jealous.”

“She’s already got Giorno,” Jotaro points out. “Plus, Josuke is pretty much like an older brother to her anyway... not that I’d know about that, either.”

Nori pokes him in the stomach. “But would you want it? That’s the question.”

“I…” He tries to imagine a younger sibling for Jolyne, one that’s his and not remotely related to DIO, and finds himself coming up completely blank. Not to mention… “I don’t know. I mean, we only just got this far.” He shrugs, the sheet rumpling beneath him. “Anyway, I…I'd rather Jolyne was really mine in the first place." He ducks his head away. "Uh. If that makes sense.”

“It does,” Nori replies, reaching over to smooth a little of his hair out of his face. “And speaking of your other kids –” They give him a sudden, gentle shove. “Don’t you already have Josuke, Giorno, Okuyasu, Koichi, Yukako, Rohan, and Shizuka to think about?”

“Fuck off.” His face splits up into a grin, and he kicks at their legs ineffectually. Teasing, now that’s more like familiar ground. “I’ll have you know neither Giorno nor Rohan consider me their dad. And I’ve barely even met Shizuka.”

“Tch, I don’t know…” They shake their head. “Irresponsible fathers abandoning their children like that….”

“I still love ‘em,” he replies. “I’m doing my best.”

They take one of his hands and interlace their fingers with his own. “I know you are, Jotaro. You’ve always done the best you can.”

(He wonders who else will be able to see it that way.)

Chapter Text

‘My own hesitation tells me that the time hasn’t yet come to tell with ease and fluency about everything one could or did observe at first hand. So why tell of anything at all? With such a handicap, wouldn’t it be better to remain silent?’ - Christa Wolf, The Quest for Christa T

“So,” starts Jotaro. “She’s eighteen now. You… think it might be a good time to…”

“Tell her about her father?” Nori strokes their chin and begins to pace around and around the kitchen floor. “Yes, I suppose she does have a right to know. Well, some of it, anyway.”

Jotaro nods. This day has been coming for a long time, more than eighteen years now (or twenty-one, depending on how you count). “What’s the plan?”

"I have no idea." Back. Forth. Back. "Even though you and she have a family resemblance, we can't go on lying to her..." Forth. He reaches out a hand to stop them, partly because he's getting dizzy watching them but mostly because they're working themselves up too much, and takes their shoulders firmly.

"Hey. It'll be fine. We'll work it out." He strokes a loose lock of their hair behind their ear. "What does she actually need to know?"

"Umm..." Nori hesitates.

"Okay, wrong question. What doesn't she need to know?"

"She..." Nori tips their head downwards, and eventually mumbles: "Doesn't need to know that it was rape. Doesn't need to know he was a vampire. Doesn't need to know about whatever was going on with one guy's head and another guy's body. Unless that somehow affects her genetics? I don't know... Doesn't need to know he was our enemy and that we killed him."

"Are you sure?" he asks, trying to look closer at their face. "Seems like a pretty big detail to leave out, douchebag."

They are silent for a moment. "... But she doesn't have a Stand. She's... God, she might actually have a chance at a normal life, you know? At least as normal as you can be when you can see Stands. All it would do is make her resentful of us. I don’t want her to have that experience. You and I both know how painful it is for a family to break up with hate.”

"But what if -"

"I know, I know, people still want revenge on us for him. And they've already targeted us so many times, it’s only a matter of time before…" They shake their head. "But I don't know what it will do to her to know that we fought against and killed her father, that we hated him so much, that we deliberately murdered him for his crimes. To know her father was such an evil man... I can't do that to her."

He sighs and pulls down the brim of his hat. "All right. Is there anything else?"

"Well..." Nori takes his hand. "I don't think she needs to know exactly how he was related to you, either."

"Definitely not." A pause. "So, do you want to talk to her about it, or shall I? Or -"

"Let's do it together," they murmur.

"Thought you might say that."

 

“Jolyne? Come here.” Nori indicates the seat set in front of where they and Jotaro are sitting side-by-side. “We have something to talk to you about.”

“Ugh.” She folds her arms and flops down, all gangly legs and too-revealing skirt. “Why is he here.”

Nori sighs and pinches their nose above the bridge of their glasses. “Jolyne, please. He has every right to be here, in fact I think this conversation requires it. I’m still not sure what it is you even have against him.”

“Tch. Whatever.” She takes out a stick of gum and starts crushing it up loudly between her teeth. “What do you even want? Gonna rail on my behaviour again?” Chew, chew, pop. Fucking annoying, and probably deliberately so.

“No. This is… more important. The truth is…” Nori takes a long, deep breath and bows their head. “Well, you’re old enough to know that… that is to say…”

Chew, chew. Jotaro’s patience gives out.

“I am not your biological father.”

Pop. “Ex-fucking-scuse me?”

“You heard him, Jolyne.” A sigh. Nori brushes a hand through their long and flowing hair. “He’s not. It’s hard for me to say this, but I didn’t even meet Otou-san here until I was already a couple months along with you.”

“What. The fuck?” She turns her head from directing her gaze at one wall to face fully towards them. “You’re shitting me, right? I mean, it’s not like I give a shit either way, but… what the hell?”

“Good grief,” he frowns. “I don’t see why anyone would joke about something like that.”

“Of course you wouldn’t, humourless old bastard…”

Jolyne.” Nori groans. “Please. Just…” They put up a hand, fingers splayed. “We’re trying to explain things to you. What we’re saying is the truth, plain and simple. Although you and he share a distinctive family resemblance, your biological father was someone completely different. Do you understand, Jolyne?”

“Tch.” She folds her arms. “Makes sense, I guess. It’s not like someone like him would ever have been an actual father to anyone.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asks.

“You fucking know that.” Jolyne grunts. “Yaya, you gonna tell me bout the real one? Who is he?”

“Was,” corrects Jotaro. “He died before you were born.”

“I didn’t ask you, you fucking sunuvabitch.”

“Jolyne, seriously, stop that.” Nori’s shoulders slump. “But I’ll tell you what I can.” Jotaro takes their hand and holds it tight; they breathe in slowly. “To be honest, I barely knew him myself. He was… a distant relative of the Joestar family tree, which is why you have the star birthmark, and he… did not care for me or you whatsoever. With Otou-san’s help I was able to leave him and start a better life before you were born. That’s… as much as I can deal with telling you right now. I don’t know if I’ll be able to answer any of your questions.”

There is a long, drawn-out silence while Jolyne digests all this. Jotaro thinks this may be the longest time she’s gone without speaking for several years now. Then: “Okay.” Nothing else. Her mouth remains unmoving: the gum, perhaps, has fallen from her mouth or been swallowed in the commotion.

“Jolyne, we still love you, okay? There’s nothing that could ever change that.” Nori opens their hand towards her. “Do you want to ask me anything?”

“No,” she grunts, getting up and brushing herself off. “If you’re not gonna say anything more, there’s not any point me asking. We’re done here.”

“Jolyne—”

She turns at the door, head tipped towards Nori. “I already said, I don’t really give a shit either way. If you called me in here just for that, you needn’t have bothered. It doesn’t change anything.”

And with that –

she’s gone.

Chapter Text

‘The unnamed does not exist for us. To name something means to include it in some sort of universal meaning.’ – Bruno Shulz, The Mythologization of Reality

“Where have you been?” he asks.

“None of your business, asshole,” she spits.

“Jolyne –” He reaches out and tries to catch her by the shoulder. “Come on, talk to me for once.”

She yanks herself away as if his touch is acid, and flings herself towards her room. “Get the hell away from me! Don’t pretend you have the right to touch me!”

“Jo –” she’s halfway out of the door “—lyne. Damnit.”

"This can't go on, Jotaro," Nori reminds him, as the echoes of the slammed door reverberate through the house. "She’s been holding some sort of weird grudge against you for years, and it's only worse now. Sooner or later, something is going to have to happen."

"I know," he replies. "I'll try and talk to her again if I can, but..."

That is easier said than done. For several years now she's been spending more time away than at home; the two of them usually manage to catch her when she comes in really late, but sometimes there's Stand work and sometimes there's normal work and sometimes there's just the overwhelming tiredness of having too much to do. And of course, there is her reluctance to even be in the same room as him for no apparent reason.

(It may be that he will soon have to initiate stakeout tactics in his own home, and nobody wants that.)

Still, he tries to keep an eye out for her.

Tries.

(... He had no idea what he was getting himself into with any of this, did he?)

 

And another day, an ordinary day like no other, when she is out somewhere, again, and he has arrived at home from work a little after Nori as usual: “I met Jolyne’s boyfriend today.”

Jotaro looks at them, startled. “Good grief. She actually let you meet him?”

“I know. It was only a few moments.” Nori shrugs. “She kind of dragged him away from me before I could really get an idea of him.”

Jotaro nods. That does seem like the sort of thing Jolyne does these days, constantly avoiding even her most tolerated parent, trying to be a normal girl for a while. He doesn’t blame her. Their lives are weird. Their existence – as a couple beyond the norms of gender and sexuality, as the parents she either looks like or is related to but never both, as Stand users in a world full of ordinary folks who can’t see such things – is not the sort of thing her friends think about, and it’s not something she seems to want to even acknowledge anymore. The last time Star tried again to communicate with her, she simply didn’t respond at all, letting him ‘Ora’ softly at her until he faded away again. “What did you find out?”

“Not much.” Nori tucks their hair behind their ear. “He’s just a bit… well, bland. Forgettable. Not really the sort of person I would have expected her to date. Just an average American boy trying to get into a good university and live a perfectly average life. I don’t think he knows she’s trans yet.”

“Hm.” He strokes his chin, running his thumb over the thin stubble. “How old is he?”

“Older than her, definitely.” Nori makes a hmm sound. “Not too much, just a couple of years at most. He has rich parents or something. Seems a little weak-minded, in my opinion.”

“Interesting.” Jotaro frowns. “You don’t approve of him.”

“Is it that obvious?” They shake their head, once. “Call me overprotective, but I get a bad feeling around him. Like an omen of bad luck, you know? He’ll break her heart, I just know it.”

“We’ll see about that,” he growls, cracking his knuckles. “What’s his name?”

"Don’t get into even more trouble with Jolyne, cockwipe, she’ll never forgive you. But let’s see, it was…" Nori hesitates. "Something beginning with R, I think. Robin? No, is it Robert? Roger?"

"Rohan?" he jokes.

"As if I'd ever let my daughter date Rohan," scoffs Nori. "No, it was... God, what was it, anyway? No, I'll get it in a minute..." They snap their fingers a few times. "Ralph? Richard? Oh, no, I remember!"

"You do?" prompts Jotaro.

"Yes, that's it," nods Nori. "It was Romeo. Romeo Jisso."