Whumptober Day 16: JJBA
This is a Stardust Crusaders AU everyone lives ending, so enjoy ^_^
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Day 16: On a Need to Know Basis
Prompts Used: recovery | scars | aftermath
Fandom: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 3
Read on Ao3
Read on FF.net
Kakyoin stared at himself in the small mirror above the sink in the hotel room.
He looked horrific.
It was a miracle he was even standing, he knew that, and the Speedwagon doctors had somehow managed to put his body back together. He was grateful to be alive, yes, and on top of that, more or less functioning. He should be grateful that he was finally discharged from the hospital and on his way home tomorrow, but he just couldn't seem to shake off everything.
He leaned forward in the mirror, a finger coming up to trace the twin scars across his eyes. When he'd originally gotten them, he hadn't even thought about the scars. He'd just been anxious to recover enough to rejoin his friends in their fight against Dio. Now…going back to his old life, these had no place. They would make him stand out and he couldn't even hide them.
The other scar though…that one was worse.
This was the one that had taken him out of the fight entirely, that had kept him from being with the others at the end. He shuddered as he slipped his hand down to his stomach, tracing the awful puckered skin, still pink and tender, knowing there was a spot just like it on his back, just barely to the right of his spine—the only thing that had kept him from being paralyzed. Even then, the doctors had warned him that he might never fully regain his muscle mass because of the damage and he probably wouldn't be able to do anything strenuous for years if not the rest of his life for fear it would be too much stress on his ruined body.
On top of that, he hadn't been able to manifest Hierophant since then either. He could still feel his Stand attached to him, but Hierophant had taken grievous injuries too and Kakyoin was sure he would need his own recovery time. Still, it just felt like one more blow. Taking away the only thing that had ever brought him comfort.
Kakyoin turned away from the mirror in disgust and quickly finished toweling his hair dry and dressing, even that taking way too much energy, leaving him slightly breathless. Tears of frustration pricked at his eyes, but he angrily blinked them away as he tugged his shirt down over the ugly scars and finally stepped out of the bathroom.
Jotaro was watching tv on the small set in the room, flipping idly through channels. He glanced up briefly at Kakyoin as he slunk past to his own bed.
He laid down, curling up and pressing a pillow to his chest, idly watching the television without really registering it, trying to find a comfortable position. He'd been slowly getting off the heavy pain reducers since leaving the hospital, but his body was in constant protest, aching and exhausted no matter what he did or didn't do.
His fists clenched in the pillow, anger building inside of him. Anger he probably didn't have the energy for, but he didn't care at this point.
"Hey, are you good?"
Kakyoin looked over to see Jotaro watching him. His face looked blank, but Kakyoin knew him well enough by now to read concern there.
"Fine," Kakyoin replied automatically.
Jotaro didn't believe him obviously especially since Kakyoin shifted again and was unable to stop the look of pain that crossed his face as something inside him pulled, causing agony to shoot through him.
Jotaro sat up straighter. "Do you need more pills?"
Kakyoin shook his head. "Already took one today."
"Well, how about an aspirin?" Jotaro asked as he stood and went over to the small kitchenette in the room, grabbing a glass of water and a bottle of pills.
Kakyoin sighed and sat up stiffly, accepting the water and swallowing the aspirin. Maybe it would do something for him, but he doubted it.
"How bad is it?" Jotaro finally asked.
Kakyoin sighed and slumped back against the head of the bed, still clutching his pillow against his chest. "Everything hurts," he admitted.
Jotaro sat down on the end of the bed, arms folded in his lap. Kakyoin could see his own scars, lighter pock-marks all over his arms and others too close to his neck. He'd said they were from knives Dio threw at him. Those had been bad enough but Kakyoin knew Jotaro was still favoring his broken ribs and shoulder. He'd only just gotten his arm out of a sling.
And yes, Kakyoin knew he wasn't the only one who had been injured, but Jotaro had defeated Dio on his own. No one else had been around to help him and it was a miracle he had figured out how to stop time with Star Platinum to survive and win the fight. If he hadn't…all of them would be dead right now, and Dio would be free to hurt only more people.
"Did the shower not help?" Jotaro asked. "I know sometimes the heat at least relaxes my muscles which takes some of the pain away."
Kakyoin shrugged. "A little. It's just hard to stand for too long right now. I have no muscle mass in my core anymore so it takes a lot of effort." He bit his lip.
"You should wear the brace the doctors gave you."
"If I do, I'll rely too much on it. I'll never regain my strength."
Jotaro sighed, reaching up to run a hand through his hair, in the rare condition of not being covered by his hat. "Kakyoin, you have to let yourself heal first. You can't just expect everything to magically go back to normal—"
"I know that!" Kakyoin snapped. "What the hell do you think I'm trying to do?"
Jotaro narrowed his eyes. "I think you're trying to pretend you're okay when that obviously isn't the truth and it's not doing you any favors."
Kakyoin turned away, jaw tight, fingers clenching hard into the pillow he held.
"Look," Jotaro continued. "I get it. I'm not good with this either, but…we're alive. I'm grateful you survived."
"I wasn't there, though, I couldn't help you," Kakyoin said.
"You did though," Jotaro insisted. "You were the one who cracked Dio's Stand ability. Without you, we all would have died."
Kakyoin was silent again for a long time before he took a breath and said, "Are you ever…scared…to go back?"
"What do you mean?"
Kakyoin sighed, looking down at the bedcover. "I mean, how do you just go back to living normally after all this? What are we going to do, Jotaro? Sit in a classroom all day, pretend to be normal until we graduate and have to figure out what to do with our lives after that? When we've done these impossible things, nearly died multiple times, how do you go back too that? And my parents…they don't know about Stands, they still think I just ran away or something. And I'm going to come back like…like this with no explanation they can understand as to what happened. I'll have these scars for the rest of my life!"
Jotaro nodded slowly then shrugged. "I guess, maybe part of me is looking forward to some normal," he said slowly as if just realizing it himself. "And I get to see my mom again." He glanced over to Kakyoin. "I'm sure your parents are going to be glad to see you too."
Kakyoin curled up more. But Jotaro was right. And he really did want to see his family again. He had missed them horribly.
"I know," he finally admitted. "I just… it's going to be hard. What will they think when they see these scars? I don't want them to feel guilty. I just don't know if I can go back to my old life, you know? It was so…lonely."
"Kakyoin," Jotaro told him firmly. "You're not alone now. You have us. So…remember that."
Kakyoin felt something well in his throat and he swallowed hard. Jotaro was right. Despite everything, he did have friends now. Friends he could actually rely on, who understood what he had been through. There was something cathartic about that.
Jotaro stood up. "Here, let me help you get more comfortable."
He grabbed an extra pillow from his own bed and helped prop Kakyoin up with them until there was no strain put on his middle, leaving him pain free for the most part.
As Jotaro went back to crash on his own bed, Kakyoin looked over.
"Jotaro, thank you," he said sincerely.
Jotaro ducked his head, but he didn't have a hat brim to hide under this time. "Sure," he replied.
Kakyoin turned back to the tv and took a deep breath. Tomorrow they would go home. He decided he needed to make the most of it.