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Black Masquerade

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All throughout the morning, a ball of nerves continued to grow in your stomach. No matter how many deep breaths you took, it wouldn’t dissipate. Of course, this was something totally normal. Your first day of high school is very important. Today will determine your social standing in the school. 

Over the summer, it was everyone’s goal to become a better version of yourself before school starts, to get new friends or possibly a boyfriend. You were one of those people too, but deep down you knew that you didn’t have to do that. You knew that Koichi, your best friend since you could remember, wouldn’t ever think of ditching you for someone else. 

You had met Koichi in elementary school. You had missed the first week of school due to you and your parents settling down. You had moved to Morioh when your dad received a better job offer at the nearby hospital. As a doctor, he worked constantly to ensure that the three of you lived comfortably. However, after noticing the lack of attention and time he gave you, your parents decided to move to Morioh, where he would work less hours, allowing him to spend as much time as possible with his daughter. You weren’t that upset with the move. While it was heartbreaking to leave your friends, being in a new place was exciting. Your excitement to make new friends and explore your new home outweighed your sadness. 

On your first day of school, your teacher had assigned you the seat right next to Koichi. While you immediately greeted him, eager to make a new friend, Koichi was feeling very nervous about school, despite it being the second week already. 

While it took awhile for him to warm up to you, as soon as he did, the two of you were inseparable, always pairing off together to work on projects and eating lunch together. By middle school, everyone knew that if they tried looking for one of you, most chances are the easiest way to find one of you, would be to look for the other one, since you and Koichi are always together. 

You were drawn out of your thoughts when Koichi asked, “You think the upperclassmen are going to be mean to us? Boss us around since we’re basically fresh meat?”

Thinking about it for a while, you answered, “I didn’t even think of that, but I hope not.” Sighing, you continued, “That just made me even more nervous.” 

After that, the conversation soon dwelled down. The only noise heard between the two of you were your footsteps and the rummaging of your pens from how the two of you were swinging your bookbags. Soon enough, the two of you reached the main plaza. 

Passing the plaza was one of your favorite parts of walking to school. For as long as you could remember, you’ve loved animals. But, no matter how much you’d beg your parents to have a pet, they’d shake their heads, ending the discussion. Once you mentioned this to Koichi, he immediately took you there, showing you the animals that would frequently stop by to drink water. 

Your favorite one was this turtle that’s recently showing up. It started showing up a few weeks ago, so whenever you passed by it, you always helped it cross the plaza and take it to the pool. Today was one of those days where you were eager to see it. 

Quickening your pace to a slight jog, you yelled over your shoulder, “Hey Koichi! Do you think the turtle is there already?”

Shocked from your sudden change of pace, Koichi began jogging after you. “Hey, wait up! Watch out!” But as soon as he said this, he saw you ran into a tall man. Wincing as he saw you fall back harshly, he was surprised to see you on your feet. 

As soon as you heard Koichi’s warning, you turned your head to look at him while still running forward, but once you processed what he said, it was too late. Quickly turning back, you attempted to stop, but you still ended up running into the man who appeared out of nowhere. Feeling the impact, you braced yourself for your harsh landing, but surprisingly, you didn’t fall back, instead you were on your feet with your bookbag in your hands. 

Noticing the large shadow casting over you, you glanced up, meeting the man’s hardened gaze. Shrinking under it, you jumped slightly when he spoke up. His deep and low voice broke the silence surrounding you two. 

“Sorry. I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.” 

Quickly recalling how you were the one who ran into him, you furiously shook your head and bowed deeply. “No, no, no! It was entirely my fault! I was the one who wasn’t paying attention! I’m sorry!”

Hearing labored gasps approach you, you turned around to see that Koichi had finally caught up to you. 

“Are you okay, [name]?” Nodding at his question, you gave him a small smile, confirming your sentence. 

Before Koichi could ask any other question, the stranger cleared his throat, grabbing your attention. Reaching in his jacket, he brought out a small notebook. As he did this, you noticed his appearance. What stood out the most was his long, oversized jacket and matching hat. He definitely looked like someone who was new to town. 

Flipping open his notebook, he asked, “Do you either know of any Higashikata living around here? I have urgent matters to talk to them about.”

You and Koichi glanced at each other, desperately scanning your brains for anything relating to Higashikata. While you knew you had no clue who this Higashikata person is, the least you could do after practically ramming into him is try helping him find this person. Coming up empty, you glanced at Koichi one more time to see if he had better luck, but his confused expression said otherwise.

Feeling guilty, you softly shook your head and spoke up for the two of you, “I’m sorry, sir, but there're so many people in this town.” 

Raising his hand and shaking it slightly, he said, “It’s alright. Perhaps you could point me towards 6 Dingchan road?” 

This was something you two knew. It was one of the streets near your houses. Pointing towards the bus stop, Koichi said, “You can get there by taking bus #3 or walking down that way and taking a left once you reach the grocery store.”

“Koichi’s right, but it’s much easier taking the bus! It’ll get you there in no time!” You added on with a smile, relieved that you two were able to help him somehow.

The two of you were able to lead him towards the bus stop when a group of four guys caught you attention. They wore similar uniforms to yours and Koichi’s, meaning one thing they’re either in your grade or they’re your upperclassmen. 

Walking past you three, the one leading the group, presumably their leader, spit on the ground before saying, “Damn, these first years don’t have any manners. Look at these two, not even a good morning.” 

The man with the long coat didn’t seem fazed by this, only tilting his hat downwards to hide his scowl. Neither you or Koichi noticed but he grew annoyed at the sight of those four. He absolutely hated stuck up guys who acted better than everyone else. You and Koichi, on the other hand, were terrified. It seemed like what the two of you talked about earlier was coming true.  

Immediately, the two of you bowed and greeted them, hoping that would be enough and they’d go on their way. Luckily, the group leader scoffed and walked away, with the other three following close behind. Letting out a sigh in relief, you felt your shoulders slack once they walked away. Returning to your original goal, Koichi waved the man over to follow you two again. 

Before you could get far, you took one last glance at the group, sticking your tongue out at them after you made sure they couldn’t see you. Throughout elementary and middle school, bullies would sometimes go after you or Koichi since you were always alone with each other. However, you didn’t back down.  

Noticing they were approaching someone, you watched in worry as you saw them circle around their next victim. You hadn’t noticed him before when you were running towards the fountain. You were sure you’d notice someone like him. His appearance was memorable, considering how his hairstyle stood out the most. His hair was styled in a pompadour, which wasn’t that common nowadays, but he still managed to pull it off nonetheless. 

Looking closely, you noticed how he was tentatively reaching his hand towards something in the fountain. It was as if he was scared of it. Stepping a bit closer, you let out a gasp in surprise at what you saw. It was the turtle you wanted to see! Laughing slightly as you realized it was the turtle he was scared of. A fear of turtles is sort of cute. I wonder if he’s in our grade, you thought while laughing quietly. 

You were about to turn around to help Koichi and the man when the leader of the delinquents reached forward and roughly grabbed the turtle out of the water. Frowning, you worried whether they would do something to the turtle or the boy with the pompadour.

Unconsciously, you began walking slowly towards them. It wasn’t until he backhanded the boy with the pompadour. Sharply inhaling, you started jogging towards them. You didn’t even see him do anything to make him deserve that. You abruptly came to a halt when you saw the leader pick up the turtle and fling it towards a nearby wall, injuring it badly. Not only were you already pissed off by how they treated the boy, your anger grew even more once you saw how they treated a helpless animal. 

Fueled with anger, you ran towards the boy with the pompadour, placing yourself in front of him, while yelling, “What the fuck was that? You can’t just go around hitting people or animals! Especially if they haven’t done anything to you!”

Your sudden outburst shocked everyone, mostly the boy who was now behind you. Hearing your angered voice, Koichi turned around and was completely shocked to see you facing off the group of delinquents who just bothered the two of you moments before. 

While it shocked them, they mainly grew even more angry. You noticed how the leader’s eye twitched in anger before yelling at you. “What? This your boyfriend or something?” Looking past you, he spoke again, this time towards the boy behind you. “You should keep your girlfriend under control. Maybe she just needs someone to put her in her place, right you guys?” 

Rolling up his sleeves, him and his friends grinned maliciously. Slowly, they approached you two, resulting in you shrinking under their glares. The more they stepped forward, the more you stepped back. This isn’t going as planned.  

It wasn’t until you bumped into the boy behind you. Glancing up at him, you hoped he came up with a plan because you surely didn’t, which was something you were regretting because four against two didn’t make you very hopeful that you would come out of this unscathed. However, the moment you glanced into his eyes, you felt your heart rate calm down. Giving you a small smile, he maneuvered you behind him before returning his gaze back towards the delinquents. 

“What’s that smile for? You happy to get beat up? What’s your name, dumbass?” 

Standing straighter, he responded, “My name’s Josuke Higashikata. I’m in class 1-B.”

Hearing his last name, you, Koichi, and the man from earlier turned to look at him. He was the one that he was looking for. Noticing how fast he whipped around to look at Josuke, the reason he has to talk to him has to be incredibly important. 

“Josuke? Well, whatever! Hurry up and give us your money! Try to pull something funny and I’ll shave your fucking head! You too, bitch!” He growled, while glaring at you when he finished up his sentence. 

Before you could pull your wallet from your bag, Josuke began to give off a furious aura. Unlike before, the calm energy that was surrounding him was no longer there. Noticing his pissed off expression, you could only hope that this wouldn’t turn out bad.

“What did you say about my hair?!” Josuke yelled. Before either of you could process it, the main delinquent stumbled backwards as he got punched in the face. Grimacing, you watched in disgust as you heard the sickening noise of his nose cracking and the rapid outflow of blood. It took you a bit, but you took notice of the distance between you two and the group of delinquents. There was a large amount of space. Josuke had to have stepped forward to punch him, but he didn’t move one step.

“Do any of you have anything else you’d like to say about my hair?!” 

“Nothing! Nothing!” The main delinquent rushed to say. It came out muffles as his hand covered his mouth and nose, attempting to stop the flow of blood. However, his response was worthless as Josuke proceeded to slam his foot onto his head, slamming it onto the ground, resulting in his blood spilling on the concrete. 

Pressing down slightly, he said, “Then what did I hear, huh?” You were about to rush in and stop Josuke before he overdid it when he stepped off and walked towards the direction of where the turtle was thrown. In the midst of everything, you had forgotten about the turtle. Immediately thinking of where you were going to bury it, you prepared yourself to see its mangled body in his hands. However, to your surprise, the turtle was perfectly fine -  as if nothing has happened. 

“W-what? How is it okay?” You asked as he approached you. Once he was close enough, he handed you the turtle, slightly shivering as it moved in his hands. Gesturing to the fountain, you figured out what he meant and gently placed the turtle on the fountain.

“Are you okay?” he asked. Realizing he was talking to you, you looked away from the turtle and opened your mouth to respond, but it wasn’t your voice that he heard. 

“Look! His twisted nose went back to normal!” 

After a beat, another one of the delinquents yelled, “It’s healed! B-but that’s not his normal nose!”

Raising his index towards you, signaling to give him a minute. He walked towards the group of delinquents, stating, “You forced me to touch that turtle, even when I didn’t want to and even dragged an innocent girl into this! What are you going to do about that, huh?”

It was definitely a weird sight to see a group of four intimidating, buff guys shrink at the sight of Josuke. Instead of attempting to make peace with him, they scrambled to pick up their leader before running away.  

He was on his way back towards you, wanting to make sure you’re okay when his path was intercepted by the same tall man who you ran into earlier. You noticed how Josuke’s surprised expression quickly turned sour. You could only assume that the man was glaring at him as well. The air soon grew tense. Feeling uncomfortable with the energy they were creating, you turned toward Koichi, trying to see if he was feeling the same. Your suspicions were confirmed when you saw the worried expression on his face. 

You glanced at everyone, trying to quickly think of ways to ease the tensed aura surrounding you all. However, you were saved from having to do anything as the turtle you placed in the fountain suddenly jumped out. The sound of water splashing disrupted the silence. The sudden noise startled you and Josuke, resulting in Josuke letting out a yell. 

“Gah! That scared me!” Giggling at what he said, you thought back to when he was slowly reaching towards the turtle. I guess he is scared of them

Noticing the air no longer being tense, Koichi approached as well. Up close, he was able to see the turtle clearly. He felt even more confused when he saw it was completely fine despite it getting slammed against a wall.

Soon enough, the voice of the man in the long coat filled the silence. “Josuke Higashikata. Born in 1983. Your mother’s name is Tomoko, she went to college in Tokyo when she was 21. You’ve been living here ever since you were born.” Glancing up to gauge his reaction, he continued, “In 1989, you had a bad fever, almost deadly, for 50 days for no apparent reason.” 

Deeply sighing, he took a moment to prepare himself for what he was about to say next. “Your father is Joseph Joestar. He’s a real estate mogul in the US. He’s currently 79, but still very healthy. Despite that, he asked me to divide his inheritance. While I was figuring it out, I found out he had a son living in Japan, which he had no clue of.” Shaking his head slightly, “The old bastard kept saying he only loved his wife, but turns out he had an affair when he was 65 and had you.”

Tucking in his notebook back in his jacket’s inside pocket, he spoke up once more, “I’m Jotaro Kujo, technically your nephew despite me being older than you. How bizarre, huh?”

Silence enveloped everyone once he was finished. From where you were standing, you could clearly see Josuke’s expression. He was no longer glaring at him, but guessing from his slightly opened mouth, you assumed he wasn’t expecting this. Closing his mouth, he cleared his throat, trying to ease his nerves before saying, “My nephew? Oh, uh nice to meet you.”

Jotaro glanced at his wristwatch and then back to Josuke, “Let’s talk while we walk.” As you watched them walk off together, you quickly stood up from your crouched position near the fountain and jogged toward Koichi. “You okay?”

Nodding his head, he looked at you shocked, “What about you? You literally cursed at our upperclassmen and almost got killed!” 

Laughing nervously, you nodded as well. “Yeah, but I didn’t get killed! So that’s good!” Noticing the direction they were walking, you whispered, “Let’s tag along with them. They’re heading towards the school anyway.”

-

“So you’re going to inherit ⅓ of all his possessions. The whole family was in total chaos over this.”

Concerned, he looked at Jotaro and asked, “Chaos? Why?”

Chuckling, Jotaro responded, “Why else? My grandma just found out her husband had an affair. She was the angriest she’s ever been in their 61 years of marriage.”

Almost immediately after hearing this, Josuke bowed deeply, and sounding very genuine and upset, he apologized, “I’m so very sorry! I apologize for the troubles I brought upon the Joestar family!” His apologies shocked you all. It wasn’t his fault, yet he was taking the blame for it. It was his dad, this Joseph Joestar who’s to blame since he’s the one who cheated. 

Jotaro was also shocked by this. His eyes slightly widened. This wasn’t what he expected at all. In all honesty, he was expecting to take some punches for his grandpa. He didn’t consider this at all. Feeling a tad uncomfortable from his apologies, he titled his hat downwards to cover his eyes. 

“But I do know that my mom was in love when she had me. I know that for sure.” Still bowing, “Just go tell my dad, well, um, Mr. Joestar, to not worry about us. We’re doing alright without him.” 

Before Jotaro could respond, a group of girls around your age walked by. Noticing Josuke, they walked around and started swarming him. They all began calling out his name, complimenting on his hair. Whether he was feeling uncomfortable with the overwhelming chatter, he didn’t show it one bit. Politely accepting the compliments and thanking them all. Unlike him, you and Koichi could tell that Jotaro was slowly getting fed up with the loud, neverending chatter. As he clenched his jaw, you and Koichi glanced at each other.   

It wasn’t long until he spoke up, completely tired of the noise. “Josuke, I’m not done talking to you. Run these girls off. They can talk about your stupid hair later.” Almost immediately, the group of girls nervously glanced at each other. It was like they were afraid of what was to come. Trying to figure out why they looked so scared, you remembered how upset Josuke got when the delinquent insulted his hair. He ended up completely changing that guy’s nose. Realizing he doesn’t like having his hair insulted, you immediately thought of one thing and one thing only, This isn’t going to end well.

It seemed like Jotaro figured it out as well because he started to take back what he said. “Wait, Josuke. I wasn’t insulting you-” Getting cut of by what seemed to be a punch - you weren’t so sure what it was, but something clearly hit him. He staggered backwards a bit before he found his foot, wiping the small amount of blood from his busted lip, he glared at Josuke and took a step closer to him. 

You and Koichi were extremely confused. They were hurting each other, without even getting close to one another. Whatever was going on, was clearly not visible to you or Koichi. Things started getting even more confusing when Jotaro began talking about stands - something about how they’re the manifestation of someone’s soul, whatever that meant. 

Leaning towards Koichi, you whispered, “Hey Koichi, do you have a clue on what they’re even saying?”

“I was about to ask you that.”

Your attention was dragged back towards the fight when Jotaro suddenly appeared behind Josuke and ended the fight with an actual visible punch. While you were distracted, you should have been able to see him sneak behind Josuke. He was in front of Josuke one second, then not even a second later, he was behind Josuke. 

The punch managed to knock Josuke to the ground, resulting in the group of girls screaming. They were about to rush towards him to help him up, when Jotaro yelled, “Shut up! Leave right now!” His voice halted their movements, with a slight blush, they ran away. Once they were gone, he extended his hand, helping Josuke up, despite Josuke saying he’s okay. 

“What I was going to say before you interrupted me was that there’s another reason why I came here,” pausing to pull out a collection of polaroids, which all contained this weird and ominous face, “Grandpa was trying to get a picture of you using his stand, but these showed up instead. They might not even have anything to do with you, but I wanted to warn you about them.”

Finally acknowledging your and Koichi’s presence, Jotaro said, “[name], Koichi, you probably won’t understand why, but avoid this guy at all cost, not even calling the police will help.” Nodding at him, the feeling of anxiety rushed through you. What did this person have that made him so strong?

Glancing at his watch, Jotaro cleared his throat and announced, “It’s 8:29 A.M. The three of you should head to school.” All at the same time, the three of you all came to the sudden realization, you were all late to your first day of school, practically the most important day of the school year. 

“The opening ceremony! We have to go!”

Grabbing his backpack from the ground, Josuke yelled, “[Name] and Koichi, was it? C’mon let’s go!”

After this, the three of you began running as fast as you could. This ceremony was when you’re supposed to get your class schedule and your locker combination. Glancing back at Jotaro, you watched him glance at his watch one more time before walking away. You had a gut feeling that this wasn’t going to be your last meeting with him. At the sound of Koichi reminding you to be careful and look forward, you looked straight ahead and tried to keep up with Koichi and Josuke.