“I-isn’t this illegal?”
“Not if we don’t get caught, so please please please hurry up already!”
It was one of those days Koichi really wasn’t sure why he hung out with Josuke and Okuyasu as much as he did.
The three kids were squatting on the roof of the grocery store, staring at the ventilation duct, waiting patiently for Echoes to return with the goods. Koichi bit his lip, feeling his stand slither through the vents, worrying about making even the tiniest amount of noise. Considering his stand’s whole gimmick was making noise to an excessive degree he was anxious out of his mind. This was the last damn time he was assisting Josuke and Okuyasu on one of their heists. They’d have to stick to asking that weird middle schooler to help them in the future.
At last, Echoes slid out of the vent, dropping its findings on the roof before being recalled by Koichi.
“All right!” Josuke cheered. “Koichi, you’re a legend!”
“I’d rather be anything but that,” the boy exhaled, running his hands down his soaked face as he sat on the roof.
“Finally,” Okuyasu practically sobbed. “The limited-edition raspberry-flavored Sonic the Hedgehog ice cream bars imported from America are in our hands!”
He picked up one of the ice creams and unwrapped it. Koichi stared at it. It looked awful. Unappetizing. Its horrifying gumball eyes were not even where Sonic’s eyes should have been. Its eerie smile started to melt in the sun.
And Okuyasu bit directly into it. Koichi cringed. This is what he risked his reputation for. Good. Great. Just fantastic.
Koichi called out Echoes Act1 again to scout the nearby area for cops. Or normal people who might call the police upon seeing teens on a grocery store roof. All the while Josuke and Okuyasu were freaking out over their weird, gross ice creams that tasted like food coloring and additives. Probably. Koichi wasn’t going to find out if his assumptions were correct this time.
Instead of finding law enforcement his attention was caught by a duo of people walking away from cafe Deux Magots, a block or two away from the store. One of them was Jotaro, and the other one...?
“Hey, Josuke,” Koichi said. “Did Jotaro mention anyone else coming over besides Mr. Joestar?”
“No, why?” Josuke asked, wiping some blue ice cream off of his cheek. Koichi’s face instinctively scrunched up upon the sight.
“I just saw him at the cafe with someone,” Koichi explained, shaking his head briefly. “I didn’t recognize them, though.”
As if by magic Josuke’s expression took a serious turn, and he ran over to the edge of the roof in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the mysterious man. His attempt was less than successful, though, as there were plenty enough buildings in the way, and Crazy Diamond didn’t have x-ray vision to Koichi’s knowledge, anyway.
“Where were they heading?” Josuke asked, bobbing up and down and all over the place as he tried to somehow see around the buildings to no success.
“Towards the park I think?” Koichi said. “Are you planning to track them down?”
“Duh,” Josuke rolled his eyes. “That could be an enemy stand user.”
“I don’t know about that.”
“Even if they aren’t an enemy I want to know who would hang out with Jotaro out of all of the people in Morioh,” Josuke continued. “I mean, it’s Jotaro. He doesn’t hang out with people.”
“Yeah, he’s just all quiet and menacing and looms above everyone else!” Okuyasu chimed in. His face was even more covered in the ice cream than Josuke’s. Koichi felt a little sick.
“Come on, guys, we gotta catch them before we lose them!” Josuke shouted and jumped down from the roof to the alley the three had climbed up from.
“W-wait, I was supposed to hang with Rohan today!” Koichi protested while Okuyasu desperately shoved the remaining ice cream bars into his bag.
“Bah, screw Rohan, you already know who he is,” Josuke said, throwing his hands behind his head. “There’s a new person in town and they’re already far more interesting than a cranky mangaka! Besides, we could use a long-range stand to help keep track of them...”
Koichi sighed audibly, wishing for nothing more than another long-range stand user in town that Josuke and Okuyasu could pester with crimes instead of him.
Jotaro and the man were walking through the park. Talking. Being perfectly ordinary people. Admittedly ‘ordinary’ was a bit of a stretch with Jotaro in particular, but no matter how he looked at it, Koichi couldn’t find anything suspicious about the stranger. Except maybe his sneakers, but Koichi might’ve been imagining it.
“I’m telling you, it’s just some guy,” Koichi sighed. “I don’t see a stand, Jotaro doesn’t even have Star Platinum summoned. I doubt he’s an enemy.”
Josuke, squatting behind a tree with Okuyasu and Koichi, frowned intensely. Koichi could tell the boy wasn’t convinced.
“I don’t know, there’s just something about this that’s odd,” Josuke said, holding his chin. “I just have a feeling about it.”
“I think so too,” Okuyasu muttered, mirroring Josuke’s pose. “The guy looks like a stand user to me.”
“Literally how,” Koichi sighed again.
“I don’t know, there’s something about him... maybe that hair... or the sneakers...”
“Okay, I’ve got news for you two,” Koichi said. “Normal people don’t all dress the same. Some of them might look like stand users, but that doesn’t make them stand users.”
“No way,” Josuke rolled his eyes. “Where are they now?”
“They’re sitting on a bench,” Koichi replied. “And talking.”
“I don’t know, school? Marine biology? Jotaro’s thesis maybe?”
“Okay that does sound pretty boring,” Okuyasu admitted. Koichi kept stalking - no, observing, he wasn’t here to do any more crimes - Jotaro and the other man as Echoes Act1 hovered some distance above them, allowing Koichi to hear bits of their conversation as it went on. After the thesis tangent there was something about Mr. Joestar and some other people Koichi hadn’t heard mentioned before. He couldn’t exactly make out much of the conversation as he didn’t want to get caught. He saw both of the men laughing. Koichi’s brows furrowed.
“What happened?” Josuke was quick to ask upon seeing his reaction.
“Was he a stand user after all?” Okuyasu got excited.
“No, I just... Jotaro was laughing just now?” Koichi said, still a bit confused by what he saw. The other two teens were silent for a second.
“Are you sure it was Jotaro?” Okuyasu asked. Koichi nodded.
“They were both laughing, I’m sure of it.”
Josuke raised an eyebrow.
“Have we ever seen Jotaro laugh?” he asked.
“I don’t think so?” Koichi replied. “At least I don’t remember him really laughing, ever.”
“I guess he is in town with a serial killer and a bunch of malicious stand users but... still,” Josuke pondered out loud. Koichi shrugged and went back to observing. Or, he would have, if there wasn’t a green dude made of coils standing right in front of Echoes’ face, about 20 meters in the air. He let out a startled scream and stumbled over, falling onto Josuke and Okuyasu.
“Koichi what the fuck?!” Okuyasu yelled.
“Are you okay?! What happened, were you attacked?!” Josuke asked, standing up to look around, but immediately freezing in place. Koichi pulled himself off the ground, and the sight of the stranger he had just stalked - OBSERVED - standing right in front of their hiding place greeted him as well. Shit.
“Man, you guys are loud,” the man commented, adjusting his glasses as his eyes scanned the three teens and Koichi in particular. That green thing must’ve been his stand. He was a stand user after all. Maybe there was something to stand users dressing up in weird things? Like sneakers, apparently.
“What did you do to Koichi you freak?!” Josuke yelled, instantly bringing out Crazy Diamond, more than ready to pummel the man into a million pieces. The redhead took a step back, his expression turning much firmer.
“Calm down, kid,” he said. “I didn’t touch your friend.”
“Oh yeah?!” Okuyasu joined it, summoning The Hand and grabbing Josuke’s shoulder as he did. “We’ll see about that!”
Koichi didn’t have time to stop the teens before they lunged after the man. Lucky for the redhead, he had come prepared.
Before Crazy Diamond’s fist got the opportunity to collide with the man’s face, his own stand flung him into the air with what looked like a strange, green rope. In fact, observing the area, Koichi noticed dozens and dozens of these weird, fleshy ropes and strings hanging from the trees and street lamps, forming some kind of a web. When had the man been able to set them up?!
He landed onto one of the ropes, looking down at the kids.
“I told you, I didn’t touch your friend,” he huffed. “Tell them, greenie.”
Koichi blinked twice, even more startled than before.
“I-it’s true,” he said. “But... What is up with you?! When did you set up this... this web?!”
“I don’t know, man, you’re looking pretty suspicious right now,” Josuke growled.
“Should I get him down, Josuke?” Okuyasu asked, opening and closing his right hand in sync with his stand. All three teens were fixated on the man, keeping a close eye on him. Koichi bit his lip. The guy certainly had a threatening feeling about him, but it was true that he hadn’t attacked them yet... Not only that, he had been hanging out with Jotaro just a moment ago, and Jotaro if anyone was pretty careful about the people he chose to spend time with.
Wait, where was Jotaro, actually?
Echoes Act1 was still out and above the park. Koichi took the opportunity to look around, while Josuke and Okuyasu had the stranger occupied. Jotaro wasn’t at the bench. In fact, Koichi couldn’t catch even a glimpse of him anywhere. His fists clenched. Could that stranger have done something to Jotaro?
Echoes returned to Koichi. He was frowning intensely.
“Where’s Jotaro?” the kid asked. Josuke and Okuyasu turned to look at him, and the stranger curiously raised an eyebrow.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Don’t try to play games with me!” Koichi yelled. “Did you do something to him?!”
“Wait, he’s not in the park?!” Josuke asked, and Koichi shook his head in response. He looked firmly at Okuyasu and brought out Echoes again, this time in Act3. The stranger gasped in what, to Koichi, sounded like... amazement?
“Okuyasu!” Koichi yelled out.
“On it!” the teen responded, him and his stand swiping the air between them and the stranger. The created void started filling as expected, the rush of air racing to fill the gap in reality flinging the man off the strings he was standing on. Perfect!
“Act3!” Koichi commanded his stand. “3 Free-!”
In a blink of an eye the stranger, instead of having fallen down and hit the ground, had somehow landed perfectly fine, standing upright next to... Jotaro?!
“Jotaro!” the kids exclaimed. The man mumbled something reminiscent of a ‘yare yare daze’ and pulled down his hat.
“Did you have your fun?” he sighed. The redhead smiled ever so wide, his eyes practically sparkling. He looked over to the teens.
“What extraordinary abilities!” he said. “A close-range power-type stand capable of erasing reality? And a stand that comes in different forms?! Can you imagine if we had to have fought things like this in Egypt?”
Was he... was he gushing over their stands? What?
Jotaro looked at the man firmly from the corner of his eye, and Koichi could’ve sworn he saw the corners of his mouth turn into the smallest possible smile. The stranger noticed it, too, and laughed a bit.
“Sorry, yeah, I should introduce myself,” he said. “Hi, I’m Noriaki Kakyoin. The Speedwagon Foundation sent me here to provide backup.”
“You’re... not a bad guy?” Josuke blinked. “Then why did you-”
“I didn’t attack you guys, chill,” the man, now known as Kakyoin, cut off the teen. “I guess I startled your friend there, but to be fair, he was spying on us, so I’d consider the score even now.”
Josuke turned to look at Koichi. He scratched the back of his head and nodded.
“Y-yeah, I did tell them that,” Koichi said. “But you did act suspicious as hell.”
“Not the first time I’ve heard that,” he admitted. “But trust me, I was just messing with you, getting some payback and whatnot. If I actually wanted to hurt you I would’ve done so pretty quickly.”
“What about that stunt with the webs, huh?!” Okuyasu challenged him. Unlike Josuke and Koichi he still hadn’t recalled his stand.
“Safety measures,” Kakyoin held up his hands. “Jotaro mentioned you had stands, and, well, I don’t often get to meet new people with stands who aren’t somehow convoluted criminals or something worse. I wanted to see how they worked, but, you know, without getting beaten to shit. That’s all.”
“So you almost got into a fight?” Koichi asked. Kakyoin simply smiled at him.
“It’s an effective way to figure out stand abilities, don’t you think?”
“You could’ve just... asked us.”
Kakyoin rolled his eyes, bringing another ‘yare yare’ out of Jotaro.
“They’re right, you know,” Jotaro said.
“Wow, I knew you had become a dad and almost have a doctorate now, but I didn’t expect you to be a stick in the mud,” Kakyoin teased him.
“Wait wait wait, where were you, Jotaro?” Josuke butted in. “Koichi couldn’t find you anywhere!”
“I was behind that tree.”
The teens looked to their right. There was in fact a hefty tree wide enough to hide someone of Jotaro’s build behind it. Koichi felt incredibly embarrassed that he hadn’t figured to scout out their immediate surroundings, instead looking literally everywhere else in the park.
“O-oh,” Koichi winced. Kakyoin chuckled.
“I would’ve been fine, you know,” he said to Jotaro. “I’ve fought worse guys before. You if anyone should know.”
“You don’t know what these kids are capable of,” Jotaro muttered, catching the attention of the teens.
“Wait, you think we’re tough?” Josuke got excited. Jotaro sighed, not enjoying the attention he was about to get.
“Jotaro thinks we’re cool?!” Okuyasu exclaimed. “This is like the best day ever! And we got the-”
His expression froze, before slowly turning to an intense shock.
“The ice creams!” Okuyasu yelled, and rushed to his bag, Josuke and Koichi following close behind. He opened the bag and grabbed an ice cream, hastily unwrapping it.
Sonic’s freaky gumball eyes slid out of the wrapper and fell onto the grass, his goopy, melted head following close behind. Koichi felt sick again.
“Sonic, no!” Okuyasu cried out, his hands drenched in melted ice cream. Josuke put his hand onto his friend’s shoulder, looking just as defeated and mournful. Koichi thought about how he had basically broken into a grocery store and stolen their products for this, regretting being born. Jotaro and Kakyoin walked over to witness the carnage.
“Is that Sonic?” Kakyoin asked. Josuke nodded.
“They finally imported these so we- uh. Um. Bought, some,” he said. Koichi bit his lip. If Josuke was going to go through all that trouble to steal treats, have them melt in the sun, and then rat the three of them out anyway, Koichi was going to lose it.
“But they melted while we were tracking you down!” Okuyasu sobbed. “He was too good for this world...”
“His raspberry-blue skin and mischievous little smile, gone forever,” Josuke added on, sniffling for the drama. Koichi felt his skin crawl upon the indication that Sonic had not blue fur, but skin. Kakyoin adjusted his glasses.
“You know,” he said. “I did startle you pretty bad there. How about I, hm, buy, you these hedgehog ice creams to compensate?”
The teens faces immediately lit up. Jotaro gave Kakyoin a look, questioning the way he worded that last sentence.
“For real?!” Josuke beamed.
“I’ll pass,” Koichi said, not wanting to look at the abominations ever again.
“Good choice,” Jotaro commended him, and started walking off, the rest of the crew tailing him.
“What, you’ve had those before?” Kakyoin asked, earning a groan from Jotaro.
“Jolyne’s obsessed with them,” he sighed. “But they taste like food coloring and additives. I don’t get it.”
Koichi felt just a little bit proud that he had been right about the horrendous ice creams.