Floating Like a Lilo - mahiverse - 呪術廻戦 (2024)


Chapter Text

The weather was terrible—Masamichi Yaga always thought Tokyo weather fluctuated too uneasily for his liking. He could feel the darkness creeping across the sky as he waited inside his office, mostly unperturbed by the mauve twisting around clouds. What was irritating him more than the blotty arrival of nightfall outside his window, was the indisputable fact that Gojo Satoru rarely arrived on time.

Having the young man at his doorstep was harder than lighting a match in the rain. And believe me, Masamichi has tried .

Masamichi found himself rubbing the ridge of his nose in vain. A wave of exhaustion rolled over his dismal expression, largely from the relentless meetings that overwhelmed his schedule as of late. He had heard the name ‘Ryoumen Sukuna’ more times in the last week than his entire life—that told him more than enough about the troubled state of the sorcerer world in the present.

That haunting name, full of carnage and evil. It chilled him ever so slightly. Masamichi would never say he would be afraid of such matters—compared to what he had lived through, it seemed almost trivial. Yet, there was a certain tension to his shoulders when the matter was discussed amongst the lips of the elders. Sukuna. Su-ku-na .

His eyes quietly flitted to the window, face paled by the dry and grey clouds. The weather did more than unsettle; it was an omen, a foreboding of what will come. Masamichi knew that there was a deep secret once stitched in the past, a secret that was being pried open by the higher ups and their babbling.

Such meetings which filled his head over the last few days were at first glance, typical . The general stir of curses that came from human dissatisfaction, their usurping increases, the power struggle amongst the clans. And now this .

When he first read the report it almost astounded him that such events went quietly unnoticed for six years. That the [L/n] clan still lived on. That you existed.

His nails dug deeper into his stuffed doll.

And after the half an hour of silence to himself, Masamichi watched unamused as Gojo Satoru sauntered into his office, a place both knew quite well.

The tall man was wearing something that fell short of a grin on his pale face, lips barely twisted into something tense; it looked as if he was bothered by something. What is was, Masamichi had neither the intent nor the means to uncover. After all, Gojo was a man veiled by many secrets, ones that hid behind nonchalant eyes and wrinkles of a smile. He was someone that took years to take apart, slowly and gently, with human hands and fragile lies. Once fractured, he could never ever be repaired. And now, he walks as though on broken glass, like the blood of his past could measure up to the strength of his mind.

“Satoru,” Masamichi was blunt; he gritted between his teeth, almost frustrated, “Do I need to buy you a wristwatch?”

Despite the blindfold, Gojo’s expression was plausible to read. A quick, fleeting yet memorable smile flaunted his face, “Gomen, Masamichi-sensei! At least I know what you’ll be getting me for my birthday.”

His hair was a reminder of something long gone and lost; battleship grey when deprived of light under the ghoulish moon, but also the colour of snow in springtime. Sometimes it wavered between those two states, of crushed ice in winter ponds frozen over, or the swan's wing around sakura blossoms. Such strands did not fare to become a silver lining in the wound he was digging further into, merely presenting Gojo as pure, sane, loved .

But it was a sad colour. When Gojo stares at himself in mirrors with a false grandeur, he knows that this colour is what he reaped because purity is a lie, and nothing ever remains innocent in a world where he plays both god and the fool.

"I presume you've read the reports," Masamichi sighed, wondering if he could get someone to fetch him an ice pack for his sore temple. The headache plaguing him would not go away any time soon, that much he could tell. “No, I expect you’ve read the reports.” He corrected himself, setting the basic expectations between him and his subordinate.

Gojo's expression became scarily neutral; whatever playful mannerism he adorned when with colleagues and friends had disappeared into the fog of his mind. Even though Masamichi had known Gojo for a long time, it disturbed him how he could not read the man's mind, nor come to a comprehensible understanding of him.

It was a brief expression—the curious poker face. But it told more of Gojo than anything else. Even when Masamichi read the reports, he was almost sickened by the higher ups and their tedious radicalism. The contents were detailed but a narrative poised of bias, deliberately constructed to turn any remnant of Ryoumen Sukuna into the devil incarnate. It construed falsehoods in a shameless fashion, but it also revealed the horrifying picture of sorcery.

Where there is good—the light, the love, the tamed jujutsu—there is evil. Both must exist because both depend on each other. It is a humiliating reality to understand no matter what you fight for, the foe at the end of your path will never be quelled. Time becomes an eternal plateau. Until time itself erodes and the demons corrupt the good.

Gojo nods, “I read over it a few times, but I don’t see why I’m needed. After all, I’m doing just fine teaching here!” He grins, hands on hips.

Masamichi was unfazed; it was likely a grin to mask his true expression. “The [Last Name] clan was unanimously associated with Ryoumen Sukuna. Once he was subdued, the clan were eviscerated from history books thousands of years ago. They quietly died off and the last heir they had that could control Cursed Energy died in the 19th century.”

He paused, his gaze falling onto the report at his desk, “They’ve shed their past and become more adept.”

“Mm,” Masamichi had caught Gojo’s interest. “Go on.”

The principal looked dryly at his collection of cursed dolls, huddled together in the corner of the candle-lit room. He pursed his lips, “This report was sanctioned by myself and myself only. The higher ups were jittery over the matter of the clan so I recently looked into this matter. I suspect that the most recent descendant is a jujutsu sorcerer in the making.”

Gojo beamed, his lips stretching thin into a Cheshire cat-like smile, “Oooh, Masamichi-sensei! You should have started on that. I didn’t read up until then. You have to tell me everything now.”

In the ancient world, where gods fell to their knees every day under the magic of humans, the [Last Name] clan flitted between the enemy and the ally. Once affiliated with Ryoumen Sukuna, they fell out of favour and upon no longer being pressed under the Demon King's thumb, found solace in the human world.

Though they were hateful of non-shamans, they understood that no sane person in the jujutsu world would come within an inch of them. And with the little followers they had, they maintained a lifeline of their sorcerer art, passed from generation to generation.

“She can most definitely see Cursed Energy,” Masamichi affirmed. Though the data on the report was a little sluggish, it narrated a childhood full of curses and power. “What is the key distinction however, is as to whether she can control it.”

Gojo tilted his head, apparently intrigued, “What’s the kid’s name?”

Masamichi exhaled—the name was auspicious. He knew that. “[L/n] [F/n]. It appears she kept her mother’s maiden name, which is why she was about to be found. [L/n] attends the same school that you sent Fushiguro to this morning: the school with the Sukuna talisman.”

“That’s… definitely not a coincidence,” Gojo’s reply was slow, as though he was taking in each sentence.

“It was most likely orchestrated by the clan. Once the Cursed Energy had been felt in that school, they would have sent her there. It is unknown if [L/n] is a lackey or has full knowledge of her ancestry and her clan’s intentions. Therefore, I ask you to keep a tab or two on her. Perhaps, make a conscious effort to settle her here.”

Settle her here? Gojo’s skeleton may as well have jumped out of his body. “Me?” He raises an eyebrow—well, Masamichi assumes he does so as he’s wearing a blindfold, “She’s powerful, so that’s why you want her out of the higher ups’ hands.”

“If you bothered to closely scrutinise the report, Satoru, you would see it. The [L/n] clan’s power is an anomaly. They bring their own self-destruction and the death of [L/n] [F/n]’s mother, which hadn’t been brought to my attention until now, shows this. [F/n] must be watched. She is too unstable to be kept alone. And at sixteen years of age, her jujutsu will be extremely infantile.”

“Hah,” Gojo sighs, sticking his hands into the pockets of his tracksuit bottoms, “You harass her too much without even knowing her.”

He turned, moving towards the door in a suave manner. Masamichi thought he was acting far too casual for ending a conversation of such calibre. “I’ll tag along with Megumi then,” Gojo exhales.

The tall man left the room and Masamichi stared at the document on his desk. Ryoumen Sukuna… what are you planning?


Chapter Text

There is a voice that does not use words.

It's the echo left behind by a bad curse, by magic beyond mere mortal comprehension. It's spiralling across mauve skies, infecting clouds like desecrating a temple. It's empty, silent as it shrieks internally from the culmination of millions, millions, of years of writhing. Superstitions layered with pain so agonising it would invoke every right of the gods. Maybe that's what makes it so divine.

Stories of the supernatural are abundant in a society engulfed in moral terror and tragedy. You hear them all the time, tales of the ghosts caught on the verge of mania, stranded in the plane as they are trapped with humanity. Silhouetted murderers gasping for the light as they hollow themselves out behind closed caskets under dusk and dawn.

It's been instilled into you about the wonders behind the figureheads of each folklore, why magic is so devilish as it dances on sinners' palms. You can't say you're an intensely devoted person when it comes to understanding the secrets of the occult but you've watched too many Buzzfeed Unsolved episodes to do your head in.

Curses remind you of spellbound tortures of medieval times and more. It intrigues you how the aura of darkness can manifest itself so cunningly, with such poignant venom spitting between their teeth. Your mother reminds you of that, a tongue holding so many lies at once, you wonder where the truth starts and where the false promises end.

She wasn't exactly a bad person, per se, maybe misunderstood.

Then again, it's a bit too late to tell that straight to her face when she's buried six feet underground. You use that neologism too much to reiterate the position of your deceased parent, but you vividly remember watching Father bury her ashes on the top of a hill overlooking the town.

You sigh, kicking your feet as you walk to school; your head is tilting slightly side to side as your lips open and close to outline the words of the song. It's a drowsily quiet morning but you're joining the Occult Club at your high school since the Anime Club disbanded the week before (All it took was one photo from the club president and you don't even want to say the rest).

"You were floating like a lilo. With your eyes closed, going where the tide goes."

Upon entering the place known as 'Miyashiro Prefectural Sugisawa Third High School' ( the biggest mouthful in the history of mouthfuls ), the world unravels before your eyes.

A glimmering brilliance eclipses the sky as you brush shoulders with other students while heading indoors. If you were correct - you had to ask a few people around - then the Occult Phenomenon Research Club had just started.

To be honest, it just felt right to go there.

Your dad would probably murder you on the spot if he found out you were planning to join; the two of you began to grow distant after your mother's passing. He never quite believed the demonic auras that somehow only you could see.

Well, you see, a curse had murdered your mother.

And somehow, no one cared. No one believed you. And the best thing? You're trapped with seeing all these terrifying things but not being terrified, just tired of being alive at this point.

There's so much hate in this world and you can feel it.

You only know Iguchi-senpai from the Occult Phenomenon Research Club, mainly because when you jumped at your own shadow one day last fall, he was the only person who believed your vision. And, Itadori Yuuji, you guess.

You haven't had many interactions with him though, only seen him around the school from the corner of your eye. He had exceptional physical abilities though, and sometimes, when a lesson finished early or class coincided with P.E, you'd see him flinging a discus a million miles away.

With a deep breath, you knock lightly on the door to the club room.

Naturally, no one responds. How spooky.

When you open the door anyway, the room is submerged in complete darkness, except for a flickering candle at the centre of a wooden desk. The faces of the three members of the Occult Club are illuminated in the breath of black surrounding them.

"Are you sure, Sasaki-senpai Iguchi-senpai?" Someone asked ominously.

You blink. Wait... do they not... see me?

Sasaki and Iguchi, two second years, you believe, both have their eyes pressed shut. And you turn your head to see Itadori Yuuji; his face bears the determination of a thousand soldiers in battle.

If you could, you would let the world fall away right there at his feet. There's something about him that makes you like him more than most. What it was, you hadn't yet pinpointed, merely admiring him from afar.

"Okay, here we go!"

Everyone opened their eyes with beaming smiles on their faces. Itadori, Sasaki and Iguchi had their index finger on a black pebble on some white paper.

A makeshift Ouija board, you muse ( rather awkwardly too ). How do you introduce yourself again?!

"Spirits, spirits!" Itadori grins widely; you can see how beautifully his lips curve in the darkness. "Please tell us which creature is the council president just barely weaker than?!"

Upon hearing his question to the supernatural, you stifle the loudest laugh you've ever come up with.

That laugh becomes even harder to hold when the letters spell out 'Ku-ri-o-ne', as in sea angel.

The three burst into uncontrollable laughter which lasts for only a few seconds before it is disturbed.

The door to the club swings open brashly and the Council President has a rather furious expression on his face.

"Occult club!" He yells, flickering on the lights. He blanks, "Wait! Who are you?" He narrows his eyes, a thin finger is pointed at you.

Your legs shake as you muster a response, "Oh! Well... uh... I'm really sorry I- I was hoping to j - join the Occult Club and I - I didn't want... to disturb the ritual." You finish flatly, scratching the back of your head with embarrassment.

Your face must be the colour of beetroot as you feel how flushed your cheeks are in the moment.

"A new member? Yosh!" Itadori punches the air with a smile; he then casually rests his arm on the top of the chair he was sitting on. "Hey, Plankton President! What's up?"

Unperturbed, the Council President slams down a piece of paper on the desk that the three are huddled over. You come nearer to look, spotting the words COUNCIL NOTICE at the top of the page.

"As you were previously informed," He folds his arms sternly, "a research club with no real activities must forfeit its club room. So vacate this room at once!"

"But I just got here!" You splutter, waving your hands frantically. You have to curse your luck for that.

Unsurprisingly, Itadori seems unfazed. "You shouldn't underestimate our members, President." How can he look so relaxed when his club is about to be shut down?!

Sasaki stands up and pulls out Mysterious File #9 from the bookshelf. Your eyes linger on the cluster of files, intrigue fluttering in thoughts.

So much...

There must be hundreds of books all stacked on the shelves. This is where you can find explanations, reasons why the supernatural and the occult exist and all the who's and what and how and why.

It takes so much self-control not to let yourself get sidetracked and absorbed into this; if you had the chance, you would stay in this room for hours to comb through each book.

Learning the truth of the occult is like kindling the burnt out fire in the skulls of the dead. It's fair to say it's an attractive necromantic thought, that everyone will think about curses and hexes and bad magic at least once in their lifetime.

Sometimes one thought is all you need to be consumed by it. Devoured whole and spat out with omens dripping between teeth.

"What is that?" The Council President asks; there's not even a hint of interest in his tone, just complete weariness.

For a split second you see the wide grins on Itadori and Sasaki's face.

"You know about our rugby field being closed off, right?" She inquires.

Her dark blue eyes gleam with uncontrollable fascination. You like how they have so much depth to them, being the colour of a quiet lake at midnight, holding foreboding secrets and more.

"Oh yeah," You murmur, "Didn't some of the students who fell ill become hospitalised?"

Sasaki points a finger, "Don't you think that's strange? We're talking about tough rugby players here!"

"Mm," You nod, finally starting to understand it.

"Truth is, the players said they started hearing mysterious sounds and voices right before they fell ill."

Interesting, you lift your head, attention having been caught.

Sasaki continues, a grim but somehow delightful expression on her porcelain face, "That's when we found this newspaper article from thirty years ago. It talks about the disappearance of Yoshida-San, who worked with the construction company. It mentions that he was last sighted here at Sugisawa Third High School during construction."

A shiver runs down your spine, maybe that's why school always had such a poisonous aura; someone had likely died here. No wonder this place was a feeding ground for haunts and demons.

The Council President pushed up his glasses on the ridge of his nose, an irked expression unfurling on his face. You would argue that the Occult Club almost had him intrigued.

"Yoshida-san was struggling to make ends meet, so he turned to loan sharks and then those organisations were after him!" Sasaki explains, "Which means the whole disaster at the rugby field was caused by the vengeful spirit of Yoshida-san who's buried there!"

She twirled on the spot, punching the air with glee. Iguchi and Itadori supported her by doing jazz hands on the sides, rather comically.

"No, it was caused by ticks," The Council President corrects her, much to your disappointment.

Sasaki-senpai almost had you convinced there. Almost. Hell, who were you kidding? You don't doubt her words at all. The supernatural hides behind every shadow on every corner of the earth.

"So what!" Itadori whines, tapping the book's spine against the table's surface. "The occult club is trying to uncover occult activity, so it's still a proper club activity report!"

"This isn't some kid's game!" Council President ( or Mr. Annoying Glasses as you were mentally dubbing him ) didn't budge in his judgement.

"Besides," He continues, frustration stinging on his tongue, "The biggest problem is you, Itadori Yuuji!"

Wait, hold up, what?

Itadori has the blankest expression you've ever seen. You could probably draw all over it.

"You're registered with track and field, not the occult club. So, this club doesn't even have the three members required for any club!"

"H-hey," You speak up, "I wanna join. Doesn't that make it three?"

Mr. Annoying Glasses has eyes like daggers when he turns to look at you. "[Last Name] [First Name], you can't be registered for the Occult Club until the Anime Club hand in their club disbandment form next Wednesday."

f*ck, you bite your lip. Oh well, you tried. That's gotta be worth something at least.

Itadori's expression changes into one of dumbfoundedness; he has his hand up with his finger pointing confusedly at himself. "Huh?"

"Itadori..." Sasaki and Iguchi grumble, cursing their friend's forgetfulness.

"No, I know I wrote down the occult club," Itadori pleads.

Part of you is inclined to believe that; you've noticed a pearled sincerity combing the iris around Itadori's eyes. He seems so kind-hearted it makes you tongue-tied just being next to him.

"I rewrote it!" Someone exclaims and you can feel your heart drop. Because you know that voice. It's Coach Takegi, the track and field coach, but also, the P.E teacher.

Your face pales.

This is the same guy who made you run 20 laps yesterday around the court just for daydreaming. Like come on, you didn't think he'd catch you admiring a pretty butterfly.

"Itadori, we need you so we can conquer the nationals!"

So... A teacher more problematic than the students turns up...

"Give it a rest!" Itadori's palms ball into fists as he sighs, "How many times do I have to tell you I refuse?"

"You can't!"

"Why can't I?!"

You blink, "Takegi-sensei, if I ran 20 more laps for you, would you let him stay in the Occult Club?"

Takegi narrows his eyes; they are the colour of the spaces between thousands of star on a dark night. It's an unsettling, unkind black. "30 laps. I'm not some demon but Itadori, if you can beat me, then I'll give up on you."

You freeze, did I just get stuck with running 30 laps?

Sasaki-senpai mellowingly pats your back as you lower your head in misery.

"Come on!" Takegi roars, "Let's settle it fair and square on the track!"

"Now, that's interesting!" Itadori smiles without a care in the world, grinning with his teeth visible. "You're on!"



First, you ran 30 laps around the school court, with Itadori running the final 10 laps with you as moral support.

Second, Itadori completely obliterated every ounce of confidence in Takegi's veins. You'd been so stunned at his prowess that you couldn't speak for up to ten minutes afterwards.

I mean, he did leave a dent in the metal poles of the football goal.

And finally, as you had gone to fill up your water bottle, you saw a person not wearing the school uniform and wandering the rugby field.

Aka a ghost.

But he looked real enough so you told the school office about it.

You're sitting on one of the school benches when Itadori walks over and joins you. Even he's not in the school uniform but in a yellow hooded jacket one of those trendy high-cuffed black trousers.

It fits him well, somehow reflective of well... him.

"Ah, [L/n]-kun!" He's been smiling all today; Itadori fills up the space next to you. "Have you drank enough water?"

You find a weak smile making it's way onto your face, "Yeah... have you?"

"Oh, I'm fine," He laughs, "I don't need water. I'm just glad the Occult Club won't be disbanding anymore."

You stifle a laugh just remembering how Takegi-sensei was as pale as a sheet when Itadori beat him in discus.

"Oh, about the Occult Club... I hope you're ok if I want to join. I don't know if there are any requirements but..."

Itadori turns and looks at you, and you can feel iridescent warmth somehow. "There's no requirements, but it's cool that you want to join. Now I have another one to protect when we go to haunted places."

"I can hold my own," You laugh bittersweetly.

"Oh shoot! Can you do me a favour?" Your new-found friend asks after looking at the school clock on the building wall.

After lightly nodding, you watch him pull out a small engraved box from his school bag.

"If you're free today, you can come to our club meeting after school. Sasaki-senpai and Iguchi-senpai want to investigate a talisman we found yesterday. So can you take this over to the room for them? I would do it but I have to be somewhere."

"Sure," You accept his request politely, and take the box from his hands.

But in that moment, everything changes.

There is a voice that does not use words, but that does not make it any less powerful. There are eyes tucked away behind other eyes, watching the chaos unfold. There is power that rests out of reach for the hungry, and battle scars ready to reopen.

And there is one being being every man, every destruction, every curse. The birth of death and more. And that is the voice that strikes in the most perilous moment, without even using any words.

Chapter 3: AN ANGEL TO GOD

Chapter Text

Someone once said architecture is the soul of civilisation.

It was Felix Richter, right? Well, as you sit with Sasaki-senpai and Iguchi-senpai, he was probably wrong.

The talisman in Sasaki's hands reminds you of the sky above a bloodied prairie. It heralds something soulful but at the same time, something utterly devoid of hope. Skin devours skin, bones crack under searing hell, an entity endowed with spine-chilling aura.

"I can't get it off," Sasaki-senpai murmurs, a little annoyed as her thin eyebrows knit together.

She's trying to peel back whatever tape was used to mask the contents. It felt ancient, and even though you weren't holding it now, as you had carried it back to school after parting ways with Itadori, your hands still shake from the omen.

It's one name. Carved onto the chest of samurais and soaking graves with venom. Ebbing death just from a loose tongue.

Ryoumen Sukuna.

A name you had never heard before but it crawled into the crevice of your head and you hear the echoes of his shrieks, a lone wolf's howl that lingers in the gaunt air.

"You look like you're going to throw up," Iguchi-senpai notes, arms crossed as he leans over on the table the three of you are huddled around.

He spots your discomfort through the illumination of your eyes; the candle on the table is the sole source of light in the clutches of darkness.

A plethora of emotions run rampant in your veins and you are hugging your stomach from the nausea that creeps up your throat. Bile at the remembrance of warm blood. But when had you ever seen warm blood?

You sigh, "It's been a long day, Iguchi-senpai."

A flat response. But they don't push you any further.

Iguchi-senpai also sighs, "Did we really have to sneak into school to do this?"

Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.

She's still trying. You don't deny the fear pulsing in your veins, trepidation at the thought of curses. It's something that interests you, of course, but not in the way that it might do for others.

Because you're scared.

And yet, you still do it anyway. You try to look away from the talisman but it's like looking away from a train wreck. Impossible.

Humans are drawn to violent destruction in the same way an angel is drawn to God.

"I'm turning on the lights," Iguchi mumbles, standing up and his chair creaks as it moves against the wooden floor.

Sasaki retorts instantly,"No! The atmosphere's important! Enjoying the thrill is in the spirit of the Occult club, isn't it?"

"Mm," You nod weakly.

That's why you're there, right? You want to know the secrets, what lies behind the veil of deities' eyes. You want to hunt down the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle to feel whole again, soothing an addiction to knowledge made impossible to dwell on for infinity.

"It's not like anything's going to happen, anyway," Sasaki mumbles.

And just then, as if she jinxed it, the sound of tape unravelling filled the air.

How quaint that such a mundane sound could instill such fear and interest.

"Oh, it came off!" Your eyes widen.

The tape has a litany of unreadable symbols which unwind as Sasaki's pulls it off with her index finger. It has the faintest sense of a tapestry, a tale to tell.

She keeps unwinding it, and unwinding it, and unwinding it, until a pile of old, bronzed tape sits next to the burning candle.

And as you lay your eyes on the item, you find your throat clamping shut as if a wave of terror drenched you.

It disappears after the initial surprise, but it was almost like someone had their hand around your neck, ready to squeeze the final droplets of life from your tired soul.

A terrifying feeling to say the least.

But even more terrifying, was what was in Sasaki's hands.

A human finger.

"Is it real?" You murmur in interest, "It's nail game is quite good, you know."

Iguchi-senpai chops the back of your head, but just then, the candle stops flickering.

It dies unexpectedly, not even leaving a wisp of smoke behind.

"Give me it," You whisper, not knowing what came over you in the moment.

Sasaki hands the finger over to you and your thumb traces the indents on the sacred and frail thing. At the same time, it felt like the earth was cracking open.

The ground starts to shake violently, enough to throw you off balance.

"What's...this?" Sasaki clutches the tape with both of her hands, terrified.

Everyone is looking at the table, frozen in place. But you can all feel it. The breath of the creature hanging from the ceiling.

A monster that brings with him, a soul of civilisation so terrifyingly inhuman.



Did those fairytales Mother used to let you dream about make reality wilt away like an old flower? Were those curses and nightmares that whispered into your ears on pitch black nights ever born from an imaginative mind?

You have felt fear. But you have never felt this. Whatever this was, it wasn't fear. You can't call yourself scared because part of you is addicted to the monsters in the dark and the curses spilling out of the dead.

The finger in your hand emits more than just power; you're not sure how you can even channel or bother to understand what kind of demonic measures are being taken around you. Somehow, it feels familiar though.

Instinct tells you to fight but your head is set on cowering in a corner. You're trying to take your mind off your last happy memory but it's hard. It's hard to walk to your death but it's even harder to walk away.

So, it's a mindless decision really. Flight or fight, they had said.

Did you choose one? Or did the monster choose it for you?

A hand reaches out from the echoes of darkness, only to plunge you into the same thing, it's vile and cold touch slithering across your cheek and it pulls you into the shadow like a piece of meat.

You can hear someone running up the stairs. You're not too sure who it is.

But you can feel the stench of death ripping apart the fragility of your mind. It's probably too late, isn't it? You are trying so hard to fight, struggling against your head and your fears and this curse.

Hm, if you die here.

Mother's image comes floating back to you. White knuckles. Bloodshot eyes. A choking blackness, a soul-destroyer hurrying across the plane between life and death.

No, you think. I can't die.

And it's that one thought that saves you. One. Just a remnant of your mother and her smile and the twitching lips and blinking eyes.

"Back off!" You scream, lunging forwards. Your hand balls into a fist and it feels like you've built everything up to this moment.

The monster reaches out as if thinking you were measly to devour like a stick snapping in half. It dissipates instantly before your very eyes, not even standing a chance. A bright translucent wall bridges the space between you and it.

Your hands are shaky as your index finger lightly touches this hallucinatory yellow shield, watching the final bits of the monster fall to the ground like snow.

Your first thought was something along the lines of 'Did I just Thanos snap it?!'

But there's virtually no time to waste, you can hear Sasaki's screams down the hallway. And ignoring every thought running through your head, every instinct threatening to stitch itself to the skull of your thoughts, you bolt towards death instead of away.

There are more of them, those monsters. Of course, it was not going to be like those happy fairytale endings and if this was a nightmare, then it sure as hell was a good one.

Each one leaves you with an injury, because escaping unscathed sounds like a dream too far away. You're only human for so long. Blood trickles down itching skin like the transparent tears on a weeping angel.

"Hey!" The pain from your fingers is searing like hell; they're definitely broken. You scream as loudly as you possibly can.

Fear is painted into the hollowness of your eyes so easily, but that's the one thing forcing you forwards. You're shaking so hard you might throw up, your vision is blurry and you can feel the nightmares building up in your head but you are just one soul in millions.

A soul of civilisation, trampled on and withered, a dot in the never-ending flow of time, lost, forgotten, meandering.

Yet, somehow not meaningless. Not to these people at least. Itadori's smile floats to the surface of the pool of your memory when on the brink of equal death and salvation.

Someone is shouting behind you, but their words are muffled. Turning on your heel, you see them.

A step back, startled. It's the same person you caught hanging around the rugby field. Well, not nessecarily caught. It was more like you observed from a distance at what he was doing.

He'd been murmuring all kind of things, like curses and dead bodies and jujutsu, whatever that was.

You blink, looking at him, soaked in his features. Dark-coloured hair, a midnight blue almost, seemed to frame his face. It reminds you of the way the world falls away around the shore of a lake. They hold depth to them more merciless than the vines entangled at the heart of a jungle, memories entwined at the tendrils of his iris. How dark does the darkness venture?

They say eyes are the window to the soul. But you don't want to learn the magic behind this world that you have being rushing head-first into.

"Get back!" He yells, and he lifts hands to form some symbol.

"What do you mean get back?!" You splutter, feeling a wave of dread overwhelm you. "There's no where to run, my friends are being killed by some freak monster, and you're a f*cking perv!"

The teenager narrows his eyes, "Perv?! I'm a jujutsu sorcerer in training. Just rest in a corner."

Shakily, you move closer towards the monster, not knowing why. This monster looks exactly how you think a monster looks, which somehow, reduces the sickening feeling in your stomach by a little - just a little.

It's large and a feverish chartreuse, skin so rough it looks like it would be a thousand times more painful than the leather on a whip. And it's slowly pulverising Sasaki-senpai as she struggles against it.

There's not even wrath present in it's squeamish eyes, the colour of dried blood stuck on wooden walls. Just nonchalance.

Oh my god, I'm gonna throw up.

And, well. What happens next? You lurch over and your jaw unhinges like something out of a poorly directed horror movie.

"You're throwing up?!" Moody Teenager (Perv?) yells wearily, almost unfazed at the cruelty of the situation.

The worst bit was, even as you were letting your lunch slither out along with bile from your throat, you were still trying to help. The wall or whatever that you conjured earlier, appears very faintly, stopping the creature from absorbing you next as a victim.

You can feel the pull of the talisman in your pocket, drawing all the evils in the world towards it. It has the taste of a withered sakura blossom, a gilded soul that can't be caged.

"f*ck... I'm not going to get there in time," Moody Teenager murmurs. ( You're gonna have to ask him for his name afterwards. )

And then, everything stops. The world melts away when he appears, a glint of courage heartily ready in his brown eyes. The window opposite the monster cracks glass comes crashing down on the floor.

It's a blur of that iconic bubblegum-pink hair and you realise that you're not actually delirious because Itadori Yuuji has somehow jumped through a window on the 4th floor of the school.

...4th floor.

Please, anyone, just sign him up for the Olympics. God knows we need it.

The monster is destroyed almost instantly upon impact, surprising you because there was such a doleful expression on Itadori's face. It was very brief. But your mind draws back to how he said he had to be somewhere earlier this evening.

Part of you wants to ask him about it, because curiosity is making your head hurt with all sorts of things.

Why was he here? Was he with the other guy?

A wolf hurries past you and sinks its fangs into a leftover of the monster, it's skin as white as the lilies blooming beneath snowy mountains. A white too emotional to comprehend. Just full of devoured hope and more.

"What... was that?" You sit upright, feeling too many emotions to even bother comprehending.

Itadori sits breathless on the ground close to you, Sasaki in his arms. "[L/n]-kun?" He swivels his head and see you looking very strangely at your hands.

What a principled deranged look in your eyes, as if you had caught the last breath of a nightmare to relish all over again.

You blink, "I need a minute. I'm gonna pass out."

The boy furrows his eyebrows, "So, you can see curses too?"

"This was a curse?" Itadori turns and looks at the piles of flesh in the corner, "Not what I was expecting."

Your face pales.

"A... curse?" Shivers run down your spine upon hearing this, memories of Mother floating to the surface of a dark mind. A lake with too many depths. Too many monsters and too many secrets.

You turn to face him, "Okay, Mr. Moody Teenager Perv Question Mark, what the hell is going on?"

"M-moody teenager what?! Did you say the question mark out loud? I'm your age, you know."

"Well, who are you?! You're not wearing the school uniform, that's for sure."

"Fushiguro," He says blankly, lips curling like he's tasted something bitter. You feel a little better now you can place a name to the face.

Itadori tilts his head, "By the way, what's that munching on the curse?"

You nod along with him, pointing to the wolf, whose pupils have turned rather horrifying black, endowed with hunger.

"My shikigami," Fushiguro says calmly, hands in his pocket. "You two can see them, then? Normally, a curse can't be seen. Not unless you're on the verge of death or in special places like this."

You have to arch an eyebrow at this.

Seeing curses like this have made you tired of jumping at your own shadow, tired of all the made-up fairytale endings when monsters like that are actually real.

"Yeahhh, that makes sense!" Itadori replies, "I've never seen a ghost or anything before tonight."

His stomach must be made of steel for him to have a mild reaction, your eyes widen.

Even Fushiguro has some sort of reaction to this, "You're not scared, are you?"

"Well, I was scared for a bit. But did you know? People really can die." Itadori looks away, but your eyes linger on him with a sombre sense.

"People really can die," You murmur in repeat.

"So I at least want the people I know to have proper deaths." Itadori admits, slowly moving to lift Sasaki up, "Not that I really get it myself."

Proper deaths, you blink. Did Mother have a proper death? You shun the memory of her corpse away. It's too late for her, but not too late for everyone else.

The tape covering the human finger falls out of Sasaki's finger and Itadori fumbles to pick it up.

"This it?" He inquires.

Your eyes widen and you stumble forwards, pulling out the finger from your own pocket.

"No that's the tape," Fushiguro says, still rather relaxed. He points to what you hold in your hand, "That's the special-grade cursed object, Ryoumen Sukuna's finger."

I'll pretend I know what that means.

"Ryoumen Sukuna?" You ask, faintly familiar with it. It was a name carved heartily in your mind and soul. Some semblance of the devil was attached to the syllables stringing his name together.

Itadori lifts his head as if to ask, 'Are you familiar with it?'

"It's a miracle it didn't get swallowed," Fushiguro admits.

You furrow your eyebrows, still reeling from the nausea of the earlier hours,"Why would anything eat it? Does it taste good?"

"Don't be stupid. You'd do it to gain stronger cursed energy. It's dangerous so hand it over already."


But as you move to hand the finger over to Fushiguro, he suddenly pushes you away and you realise why.

A sinister feeling looms over you like a funeral shroud.

"Run!" He yells but he's just a tad too late and whatever entity had broken the ceiling had pushed everyone away, including you.

You lose the finger as you feel the debris and dust overwhlem you.

Clouds of dust huddle in the air as you have your arm covering your face but when it clears, another monster reveals itself.

And it has Fushiguro and you trapped in it's grip.

"Fushiguro! [Last Name]!" Itadori yells, horrified.

The monster is already opening it's ( freakishly human-looking ) teeth as if going to bite Fushiguro's head off. The mere image of that sends you into a frenzy.

But just as you hear him attempting to summon one of his shikigamis, the monster instead throws him at the wall, creating a sound that reverberates across the air. You can hear Fushiguro slump and grunt in pain.

And then it does the same to you.

It's weirdly endorphin-inducing to be thrown out of a window and across the school balcony. The rush of air, right before death. Was this a tranquility few could savour because it being squandered by the pioneers of your demise?

"Dammit," Fushiguro's hands look crooked as he struggles, "I can't think straight."

You've lost a filter on your thoughts at this point, "Not surprised given the blood leaking from your head."

"Oh, shut up," He snaps, rolling his eyes at your crooked humour. You're bleeding too, but only because the wounds the monsters left have just enlarged by a tiny bit. Just a little. A smidge.

Ok, you need a miracle not be hospitalised forever. Why must your bones be so fragile?

Unsurprisingly, Itadori fights the monster, which is easier said than done. But everyone seems to have blurred away, a shrill ringing voice replaces everything.

You can't hear the words ebbing from Itadori's mouth nor really see him, just watching from what feels like an ethereal plane. His figure is hazy and everything hurts in the moment and your heart swells just watching him in awe but the world is simultaneously spiralling.

But then, you have to rub your eyes to double check what you had just seen.

It kind of looked like he had eaten the finger.

No, not worth it. Go to sleep. Your brain pleads.

So you close your eyes, hoping that whatever pain in your bones would die out before dawn arises and that the world would feel safe again.

But Ryoumen Sukuna's hysterical laugh echoes in the back of your head like the whisper of a sea in a seashell. The soul of civilisation is reincarnated once again.

A/N: wtf why is the ending so trash 😑


Chapter Text

The first thing that sends you into a wave of panic upon opening your eyes is the blatant unfamiliarity of the room. A painful headache scorches the pit of your skull as you rub your temple sorely.

Naturally, the first thought that pierces your train of thought is something along the lines of 'Oh my god, I've been kidnapped!'

Memories, distant and new, emerge from the trenches of your mind, and the events that befell the night before come running back like wind grazing a prairie.

The curse. The boy. The sound of demons.

You blink, and then struggle a little, realising you are in restraints. Your hands are tied behind your back as you sit on a chair, and with blurry vision, your eyes look lazily around you.

The walls are plastered with old letters and writings, paper that's lined with age and dark memories. Omens linger in the air like smog in the busiest parts of Tokyo, thick and unwavering, not even batting an eyelid at the thought of suffocating you.

Your eyes are entranced but there is too much to read, and the bitter light of the lanterns scattered on the floor are too soft for you to see through the darkness.

So really, you're blinded in a place of the unknown, armed with nothing but the tragedy of yesterday and the power of the future.

"Ooh! You're awake!" Someone hums. Their voice is delightfully childish, nonchalant and smooth, like treacle is dripping from their lips.

You turn, feeling your heart beat so fast that it might just rattle enough to break apart your chest.

A young man sits before you in a chair, but not sitting in same way as you were. The chair was backwards and his long arms and even longer legs hung out from around it.

His hair was an extraordinary white, coated with winter's frost and the ice of the new world. A colour so cold it strikes purity into the gaze of many; in the dim light of the room it was a meandering grey, however. Like he too, had hazy patches and areas of grey to walk in.

"Did you kidnap me?!" You ask, stupefied, neck curving as you lean in. "Answer me!"

He smiles; it was a smile that no one can quite describe, like the words to entail it are forever stuck on a quivering tongue. "Nope, I'm not like that! But, because I'm kind, I'll give you a recap after you passed out."


It comes clawing back at you, the monster, Itadori, Fushiguro. You rasp for breath, stomach lurching at the thought that while you were unconscious, some life or death battle was unfolding.

He gives a brief description, general and vague and certainly not descriptive in the areas where detail is warranted (for example, why did Itadori eat a finger?!).

"The events I know and your recap don't line up," You narrow your eyes warily at him, well aware that you were the victim here with your hands and legs tied and an injury on your arm.

He shrugs, rather uncaringly, "Hey, I did my best."

In the silence of the room, his voice echoes, giving rise to a plethora of thoughts. Were you underground?

"I have a few questions," You say suddenly, a sharp tone coupling your words.

The corner of his lips twitch, "Not surprised, but go ahead!"

"Where am I? Where's Itadori? Who the hell are you? Why is Itadori being f*cking executed? And what is the food that smells so good?!"

You can't say you asked those questions; it was more like you screamed out at a stranger in one single breath, drawing a large inhale upon finishing.

"You're somewhere," He shrugs, "Where exactly? I've forgotten."

I don't trust this dude. I'm going to get murdered. This is how I die.

"Itadori is actually in the room next to you," He muses, "I was just talking to him! Don't worry, he knows you're fine, save for a few injuries!" He continues with a laugh.

You fix your eyes on him, more specifically on the blindfold that he adorned. There was something about it that felt too mundane, the feeling of tightly-wound secrets seemed overwhelming in his presence.

And then, he lifts his finger and wags it playfully, "My name is Gojo Satoru. I'm Fushiguro's teacher! I'm also a bunch of other stuff but I don't feel like talking about my life story right now."

Gojo Satoru. Despite having never heard it before in your life, it felt eerily familiar, pertaining the same feeling you had uncovered upon hearing of Ryoumen Sukuna. Somehow, despite being a naive youth, stumbling in the darkness of the uncertain paradigm, you are more involved than you initially thought.

Gojo pulls out a paper bag from behind his chair, grinning proudly. It's flecked with blood and dirt, so you imagine he had it on him when he was at the school yesterday.

"It's Kikuf*cku from Kikusuian. It's Sendai's speciality, and it's super good! I recommend the zunda and cream flavour."

You bite your lip, still feeling like you don't have all the answers. "I have another question."

"Ah! Raise your hand! I'm a teacher, you know," Gojo crows, nagging you.

"I... can't... I'm tied to a chair," You flatly reply, blinking at what you just heard.

Gojo taps his chin, "My bad! I wear a blindfold for a reason!"

That's not - That doesn't even make sense! You roll your eyes and sigh; it was a long sigh and the sound of your tired voice reverberates off the small walls.

"Why is Itadori being executed? Are you actually going to do it? What about the law?! Where's his lawyer?"

Gojo lifts four fingers on his right hand, "You're quite the enthusiast, I see. Nothing short of what I expected from a [Last Name] descendant. You even asked four questions! But I'll explain."

[Last Name] descendant? Make that five questions.

"Itadori ate Sukuna's finger, I'm sure you know that. And now, he's a potential vessel for him," Gojo explains ( you hate to admit it because he is probably a good teacher because you actually understand some of the stuff he is spewing.)

He pulls out a finger from his pocket and your lips curl like you're stomaching bile that's risen at the back of your throat.

It looks exactly, if not the same, like the finger you had clutched back yesterday, and even now, every bone in your body is shrivelling at the omen of darkness. The curses this single fleshed out object embodies is indescribable, all you can feel is unwavering terror as you look at it. Sukuna's laughter echoes like one of those sea shells in your eardrums.

"This is the same cursed object that Itadori ate," Gojo said, waving it around mindlessly. "There are twenty of them, and we possess six of them."

Your eyes widen, "Twenty?! Oh, each finger and toe?"

"Nope," Gojo swivels his head, "Sukuna has four arms." He throws the finger into the air and you watch horrified at what happens next.

As if there is some invisible barrier protecting him, the finger flies into the wall and leaves a devastating crater. The old writings surrounding it start to burn from the flickers of flames, newly born from the emergent of dangerous power.

"As you can see, we can't destroy them," Gojo stands up and picks the finger up again. "The curse is just that powerful and it grows stronger by the day, and the seal of modern-day jujutsu sorcerers can't keep up."

You furrow your eyebrows, confusion creeping across your face. "So, it's a ticking bomb?"

"Well! This is where Itadori comes in. When he dies, the curse inside him will die as well. But that would be a waste, wouldn't it?"

"A waste?" You irk an eyebrow, hatred growing with every passing second. This was a human life he was talking about here! How can law and morality be overridden by this?!

Gojo walks back and forth, playing with the cursed object in his hands, "There's no guarantee another vessel capable of handling Sukuna will ever be born again. So, this is what I proposed: If we're going to kill him anyway, why not kill him after he's absorbed all of Sukuna?"

"No," You say suddenly; your lips had moved without you even consciously thinking. The word of defiance escapes your tongue quicker than you can catch it. "I won't let you."

"Awww, that's very brave of you, [First Name]. But, not only did the higher ups agree, Yuuji-kun also said yes!" Gojo beams proudly.

"He what?! How can he accept this? This is so stupid. I don't understand half the sh*t coming out of your mouth! I'm gonna report you to the police for kidnapping!"

Higher ups?! [Last Name] ancestor. Curses?!

Before you can even let out another yell, Gojo shoves a mint green delicacy into your mouth and you realise it's the Kikuf*cku he was talking about earlier. Rather annoyingly, it tastes rather sweet and authentic.

"If I didn't care, [First Name], I would not have had Shoko-kun bandage you up. You claim to not know much but you are hiding something," He stands up suddenly as you furiously chew through your unwanted snack. "Ah, well! I'm going to send you over to Yuuji-kun. He's been asking for you."


Hospitals are such intricate places; they reek of death.

As you walk down the corridor, you revel in the mystery of what a hospital is. Contemplation of this is easy to lose yourself in, because a hospital is so vast and endless and chaotic it engulfs you whole, and you lose yourself in the depth of it's belly, trapped in a tangible place that is tethered to this physical plane but also so much more. You look around, met with the blinding white of the painted walls, and the twisted long corridors, which can often feel empty during this time. The absence of something does not sit right with your stomach. The more you see nothing but yourself in that quiet vacant corridor, the more your mind is drawn to the nature of the very place you walk within.

There could not be anything more cataclysmically life-changing than the physical environment that surrounds you. The stench of death is ever so clear, and it paints a fragrant picture within your mind, a mind morbidly fascinated with the loss of the soul and the final moments of living. This was a place that teetered on the edge of resurrection and modern miracles, that saw lives start and end. The power of weaving the fine line between life and death rested in humanity's own hands. They cause their own descent into madness and slaughter, God's creation has too much power to remain fearful of the divine and unknown. You think to yourself, as you continue walking, why do humans die? How did humans die? Was eternity of living, breathing and knowing your existence there and then, not enough for us? Must we also play tricks and hand our fate over the afterlife? Death was no more than the halting of your body, as if the clogs inside ceased to function. Humans were simply intricate pieces of machinery with an expiry date. Was death the absence of your soul, your very essence? You couldn't be sure.

Gojo-sensei's words cling in the back of your head which you feel is pooled with too many questions. The details are simply dreams that are too far away.

You had just been to visit Iguchi-senpai who was in the hospital. The image of Sasaki's saddened face and tears flocking beneath those beautiful midnight eyes. Itadori's fake smile; it was like he was taking all of the blame. The way his knuckles whitened as he gripped the metal around the hospital bed.

Even the small "Bye-bye" he said when he waved his hand, the other stuffed in the pocket of his hoodie.

You don't like how the smile dropped when he left the room. Something happened to him, and you want to know what it was.

So, outside in the vastness of the world which could easily swallow up two souls like you, you sit with him on a bench.

And very unfortunately, Gojo-sensei also joins, but you do your best not to dwell on it.

"Who passed away?" He asks; the space between the three of you remind you of the gaps in the sky between twinkling stars.

Itadori can't meet either of your eyes, "My grandpa. Although, he was like a father to me."

"I see. Sorry it happened at a time like that," Gojo says.

You blink, so that's why had to leave early that day? Was he visiting his grandpa in hospital?

You want to say something but you know not is not the right time and place. Part of you wants to give your apologies and wishes to Itadori sincerely and in private.

"So," Gojo sighs, changing the topic, "Have you decided what you want to do?"

You look at the reflection the polarised glass brings, staring into the unwavering depths of your eyes, wanting to catch a glimpse of the window to your soul.

Itadori has his shoulders slouched, for a moment the two of you look at each other in the reflections of the hospital window, but then he looks back at Gojo.

"Are casualties like these from curses pretty common?"

His question sends a shiver down your spine, invoking the unwanted memories of your youth. You can feel the blood beneath your skin run cold out of fear, trembling at the idea. In that moment, the image of Mother's corpse being feasted upon by all those wildly imaginative beasts is the only thing that stays in your thoughts.

"This one was a rather exceptional case," Gojo says casually, "But in term of the damage, it happens all the time."

Bright, comforting words indeed, you think bitterly.

"It's a good night when someone dies a normal death after encountering a curse." It's the nonchalance in his expression that tugs at you, replacing the terror in your eyes with intrigue. Gojo-sensei speaks like he's talking about the most normal thing in the world.

"Finding a body that's all torn apart is on the better end of the outcomes," He continues.

You look away, fixing your eyes on the earth beneath your sneakers. Is this... what you want? Aren't you just being dragged along for the ride?

No, you think, casting your mind back to Gojo's words. Somehow, you're more involved in this world that you previously thought. It's no coincidence that Mother was killed by a curse, and it's no coincidence that the spirits plaguing you can be explained by all of this. Or that you had some control over the radiance of dark energy back then at the the school.

"If you plan to hunt down Sukuna, you're going to witness some gruesome scenes and I can't guarantee you won't end up that way yourself. So! Choose your hell."

"I'll - I'll do it, Gojo-sensei," You say suddenly, speaking for the first time. "We write our own stories, and decide how it really ends."

Gojo smirks, shifting his head to look at you. Even with the blindfold on, his expression is somewhat readable.

"Nice! I like people like you. I think [First Name] is finally starting to understand what she's gotten herself into."

You sigh, laying back on the bench, "A fun hell await us."


The only real sound in the room is the closing of the metal tin containing the ashes ofItadori's grandpa.

Following the long-winded discussion outside, Itadori had gone to collect the remains of his Grandpa, during which you had given him a heart-felt message that he seemed to have taken to heart.

"Do you still have that finger?" He asks Gojo, who was leaning against the wall in the corner.

Gojo pulls it out of his pocket, a thin smile grazing his lips. He then hands it over to Itadori and you watch silently at the exchange.

"Looking at it again, it's pretty disgusting," Itadori frowns, almost like he's tasted something unpleasant.

You laugh, "What did it taste like the first time?"

"Bitter. Like really, old meat, I guess," He shrugs, laughing back.

With a stingy expression, Itadori chews down the finger ( more like struggles to, the more you look at his constipated face ).

He sounds like he's choking and you look feverishly around while Gojo doesn't bother moving an inch. His expression is unreadable which you dislike; he's clearly hiding secrets and in a world like this, secrets might just get you killed.

Suddenly, black markings appear around Itadori's face, taking you back. You stumble, eyes widened at the transformation. Itadori's eyes suddenly fly open, and his back straightens for the slightest moment.

His hands move towards his neck, he webbed bit between his thumb and fingers curving around the skin of his throat, as if he is choking himself.

In the corner of your eye, Gojo's hand wavers, like he's on standby for the worst.

"I - Itadori?" You whisper, undeniable fear pulsing through your veins. That fear grows more powerful with each wobbly step Itadori takes as he comes closer to you.

f*ck, f*ck, f*ck. Didn't you have a shield? Didn't make a shield back at the school?! Come on!

You lift your hands shakily and watch the spirals of something translucent form before your eyes; it is a very weak shield.

The shield proves useless when Itadori turns away, and thankfully it seems like it only last for a split-second because you were quite embarrassed if anyone saw it.

Itadori presses his head against the wall, back hunched. You can hear his laughter, Sukuna's laughter, the howls of merciless bloodshed that echo on nights with the full moon.

You feel unsteady just looking at the extra pair of eyes that have fleshed out. Shaking, Itadori struggles for a moment but then he stands up, almost teary-eyed.

He sticks his tongue out rather comically, "Urgh!!!! So gross! So gross it's funny."

You stifle a laugh alongside Gojo-sensei; he almost had you worried there. Almost.

"What? Something wrong?" Itadori frowns innocently.

Your lips curl into a smile for the first time in a while, "Nope. Nothing at all."


Chapter Text

The truth is burdensome and complex, laced with veils of lies and struggles and the blemishes of reality. It is the noose that deities sling about human throats to watch rope graze skin and layers wither away like wilting flowers crushed under autumn winds.

And what was the truth? You're not too sure. It was a thin layer of dust billowing and jutting to look at, shrouded behind too many words.

Part of you feels silhouetted in the palm of fate, suspended for all to see as the gods play with the loose strings of your bones. You've been swayed by the stream of water that curses and the world of sorcery reside in; wherever this life went, you would soon follow.

Fushiguro meets you outside the hospital; perhaps he was being treated there. He looks the same except for the plasters and bandages littered across his ivory face.

You look at him breathless, having forgotten how rich the darkness in his hair seemed to be. Black like a raven haunting a full moon, when midnight skies peel back to taunt oblivion and remember the gleam of the old universe.

It's a celestial forlorn that most humans, more often than not, crave to feel whole again.

"Fushiguro!" You hurry over, a wide grin on your face. "You're looking good!"

He narrows his eyes in his unwavering expression, pointing to the bandage wrapped around his head, "You think so after seeing this?"

You stifle a laugh, a weak smile worn on your face.

He deadpans, hand on hip rather comically. "You know that you are going to transfer to the same school for jujutsu sorcerers that I attend, right?"

Your jaw drops, "Huh?! But... I don't... I don't understand anything from this world... and it scares me."

And it scared my mother too.

"But I saw that shield you made against the cursed spirit," He tilts his head in confusion; in his eyes there are splitting stars and ephemeral wondering.

"Cursed spirit?" You murmur, feeling a swell of something unpleasant digest your bones; just even such words evokes a dark stain over your aura.

Fushiguro nods bluntly, "They're a race of spiritual beings born from aggregated Cursed Energy that flows into particular notions, sentiments and things of that nature. They're basically corrupt spirits with supernatural abilities that exist to haunt humanity. Sometimes... to end it."

You feel a shiver dance down the ridge of your spine, "Can everyone see them?"

"No," He shakes his head, "'Cuz their bodies are made of Cursed Energy, Cursed Spirits can't be seen by normal humans. They can only be seen under special conditions by regular humans, such as a life or death situation. For us, however, the amount of Cursed Energy coming from our bodies lets us see them at all times."

"Where do I come into this?" You frown, a thin-lipped downwards curve resting on your face. "I didn't know sh*t compared to everyone else."

Fushiguro's light green eyes bore into yours, like chartreuse leaves dangling with dew following a morning rain in spring. The colour of grass in prairies you would run through to feel free.

"Your ancestors were likely Jujutsu Sorcerers, or you were imbued with cursed energy through a series of coincidences. Or even both." His words have such a grave emphasis to them; you don't like it at all.

Was this some incredibly crude nightmare you had riddled yourself with, born from the plaguing memories of your mother and her tales of sorcery? Gojo's words haunt the caverns of your heart; ancestry...descendants...

You turn away, half-shaking as you put your palm over your mouth, "I think I might throw up."

"Well," Fushiguro sighs plainly, "Just don't throw up on me."

"Duly noted," You muster a response, gathering the courage to look around. "So... who I do go to in order to cancel my admission?"

"You want to cancel it?" He arches in eyebrow, taking a step closer. "You know your Reversed Cursed Energy is incredibly powerful? I could tell from the moment I saw you."

You bite your lip, starting to feel uneasy again. You can't drag your head across mud just to try to follow a lost dream. A dream that wasn't even yours, just bits of a lullaby that your mother used to sing to you.

And what about your father? Could you just leave him? But then again, it already seemed he had left you years ago.

"Look," Your head pounds as you clutch it, feeling the ground shake. "I - I don't know about doing this. The truth isn't... isn't something I want to face right now."

Fushiguro inhales, stepping closer towards you. The hue of his eyes dwell on the window to your soul, like a looking glass that seems elysian and riveting to admire.

He puts his hand on your shoulder, "The truth is burdensome and complex, but that is the truth. And the truth is that you have power to help people and make a difference in the world. The choice rests with you, [Last Name]."

The choice rests with you.


Tokyo Metropolitan Jujutsu Technical High School was a place of education hidden by the arcadian air, rendering many in the city guileless to it's existence. It was stunning, reminiscent of a breath of fresh air, as crisp as the autumn leaves trodden on the dirt in the season.

Something about the architecture made it luminous; it was elegant but only in a parsimonious manner, restrained by the endowed beauty of magic. You are reminded of conked crowns spilling gold from the zealous beauty of it all. A devotion entrenched with curses and spirits and sorcery.

Those words rarely crossed your mind in the disillusioned universe, but such supernatural occurrences were spun to life before your own vision, befitting of a girl who had suffered hallucinations in the sixteen years of living.

"By the way," Gojo smiles widely, holding up four fingers, "You guys are the third and fourth first years!"

Itadori's mouth form an 'O', "Only four?!"

You shiver, looking around even more. Sunlight fell between the gaps in the trees, slipping amongst turgid leaves and serpentine branches. The wind was cold, brushing your cheeks brazenly and it leaves a trail of red across your skin.

"This is really deep in the mountains," You murmur, struggling to stay warm. Perhaps you should have worn something more cosier. "Is this really Tokyo?"

Gojo shrugs, silent for a moment when the sound of tranquility disturbs the plane; water trickles lightly from a nearby stream. Such a soothing sound, you think.

"Even Tokyo's like this on the outskirts," He says, sticking his hands in his pocket.

"Where's Fushiguro?" Itadori asks, looking around.

"He was treated by a sorcerer and now he's fast asleep," Gojo replies smoothly.

You lift your head, meeting the light warmth of the sky. "So... is this the only jujutsu magic school?"

"It's one of only two jujutsu educational facilities," Gojo explains as the three of you continue walking up a cobbled pathway. "On the surface, it's known as a private religious school. Many jujutsu sorcerers continue to use it as a base after graduation so it's a pillar of the jujutsu community not just in education, but for support and mediation in missions."

Most of what he was saying seemed to echo out from your head, because well, despite the fact he seemed like a good teacher, it wasn't like you were by any means a good student anyway.

So, of course, as Gojo drones on, you and Itadori smile weakly at each other. He's quiet calm, with both his hands behind his neck.

"Anyway," it seems he was finally finishing up what he was saying, "Both of you have interviews with the principal."

"Principal?" You arch an eyebrow, rather curious.

Gojo nods, "Screw it up and he could reject your admission, so go all-out."

Both you and Itadori seem to have largely different reactions to that.

"Yosh!" You punch the air, "A loophole! Maybe I can get myself expelled."

Itadori's face pales and his hands claps his face, "Expelled?! And then what?! Immediate execution?!"

Suddenly, a voice fills the void between all spaces on the earth. A voice that is layered with a darkness too pulverising to contemplate, depth to growls that linger. Trying to tune out this voice was like trying to catch smoke with your bare hands.

Sukuna's words web into the air around him.

"What? So you're not the boss?"

You stop in your steps, finding your body completely paralysed from the fear.

"Any hierachy other than strength is worthless," He smirks; it was a serpentine smile, spitting venom just from speaking. It makes you wonder if he could kill just by uttering a syllable.

Itadori slaps his cheek, "Gomen, Sensei, [L/n]-kun." He look dolefully around, "He pops out sometimes."

Gojo rests his chin on his fingers, as if he is thinking. "What an amusing vessel."

"I owe you a favour, you know," The voice returns in the form of a mouth prodding out of Itadori's palm.

"Not again!" Itadori whines.

"Once I make this brat's body my own, you'll be the first one I kill!"

His words leave you reeling in terror, but Gojo-sensei remains so placid in the presence of something so overwhelming demonic.

"It's an honour to be targeted by Sukuna," He smiles.

"No, it's most certainly not!" You splutter, eyes widened.

Sukuna-sama won't kill you quickly. It will be a death glorified by others, a demise that marches to the beat of hell, refining what it is to be dead because your soul will have shrivelled a million times over. He'll etch the scars into your head and let you howl in agony when you claw your way to salvation.

You stop in your tracks. That thought.

It was yours, yet it seemed to not have belonged to you at all, just attached to the web of your thoughts in a minuscule manner. It felt sorrowful and full if spite, almost as if it was your mother's voice.

"This guy's really that famous?" Itadori asks mindlessly.

Gojo's expression remains the same, unreadable and oddly calm. "Ryoumen Sukuna is a fierce imaginary god with four arms and two faces. But he's actually a human that really existed, though it was over a thousand years ago-"

"In the golden age of jujutsu, sorcerers gather up all their might to challenge him and failed. Crowned with the title of Sukuna, they couldn't even destroy his grave wax as he traversed the ages after death as a cursed object. Without a doubt, he is the king of curses," You finish, words seething from your tongue like you have recited it off by heart.

When done, your dry lips curl in fright at what just happened. How... how do you know that?

Gojo stifles a smile, "Looks like [F/n]-kun here finally decided to read about her ancestry."

My what?!

Itadori tilts his head, curiosity painted on his delicate expression. "Who's stronger, you or him?" He asks.

"Well..." Gojo begins, eerily calm. "If Sukuna regained all of his power, it might be a little draining."

You blink in wonder, drawn to him in awe at the confidence in his power.

"Would you lose?" You ask with intrigue.

Gojo is silent for a moment before he walks ahead of the two of you. But you catch what he says before it is lost in the influx of cold breezes. It was the remnant of a lake brimming with illusionists' power and grins born from confidence in conflict.

"I'd win."


The candles sitting in carved out place holders on the poles flicker with an ominous feeling. It felt suspiciously like a wave of curses had drenched the wood on the walls and the marble on the floor. Every hair on your skin stands straight at the thought of merciless torture.

Nectar drips like petals on a wilting flower inside your eyes; the colour of gold before it becomes lost. The flame of the candle reflects a gleam on your hues, a delicate ambrosia sweetened to the appetite of the gods.

You're standing inside the principal's office, next to Gojo-sensei while Itadori waits outside for his own interview.

Meanwhile, your stomach is doing a million backflip that you might be left nauseous forever.

"You're late, Satoru," Someone says icily. His voice sends the most cut-throat and jarring shiver down the back of your spine, like he's close to unstitching the essence of your soul in an instant. "Eight minutes late."

A gasp leaves your throat, which has since clamped up, when you look around fearfully and seeing the source of the sound sitting at the opposite end of the room.

"Not enough to chastise you for, but I know I told you to fix your habit of being late."

You stammer, eyes widened at the number of plush dolls everywhere, sat upright and courteously. Each are beaded with black eyes that gleam murderously under the illumination of a candle.

Said candle drips with melted wax in a solemn manner, feverishly fighting to stay alive but it will eventually die. Like all things in this world.

Lightning flashes behind the back of your head. That old dude's making cute things!

The man has a thin metal needle in his hand, diligently sewing the back of a mint green plushie; the nature of his handiwork is undeniably soothing and meticulous.

"If it's not enough to chastise me for, then don't chastise me," Gojo sighs, "You're just making dolls, anyway. What's a measly eight minutes?"

He turns and with a grin, says to you, "That's Principal Yaga Masamichi."

"That's her?" He asks idly, almost as if he is unamused.

You bow your head, "[Last Name] [First Name], sir!"

"Do you know the weight of your name?"

A surprised expression is etched on your face. Blinking, you lift your head. "S - Sorry?"

"I said," He repeats, "Do you know the weight of your name?"

"I know it is a sacred name but what for, I do not know," You gulp, choking back your fear and the urge to find the nearest toilet and throw up.

You struggle to meet his eyes when he speaks; they seem to burn directly through everything and everyone, an unwavering, blemishing strength. "I will not conduct the normal interview I do with my students on you, because you are not a normal student, [Last Name]."

His words echo in the back of your head, tightly wound like a noose eliciting terror. The truth.

Feeling the world start to spin, you look to Gojo-sensei for comfort as Masamichi-sensei continues to speak.

"You are the only known descendant of the [Last Name] clan to control their Reverse Cursed Energy and live to tell the tale."

Rather unexpectedly, he stands up, still holding the plush doll in his hands. "Your mother tried the same thing, to repeat history and it failed. But, I'm curious to see how adeptly trained you are."

"Sir," You reply blankly, "I'm not trained at all."

Gojo tuts, wagging his finger, "Nonsense! She's a prodigy."

Liar! You haughtily laugh. Why do you have it out for me?

"People you never know will die everyday in accidents, and diseases in the natural course of life."

Gojo sighs deeply, "There he goes again."

"But do you think that these deaths cannot be overlooked when they are caused by a curse?"

You frown, "I - I just want... to save people."

To save them, because I couldn't save my mother.

Masamichi holds out his hand and summons one of the dolls by his side. Like it is webbed to him as if he is the puppet master, it bounces and grins wickedly in the taste of being alive, or mimicking the act of living. The expression on it's face is ever so fake; he cannot truly let them live but he gives them the facade of it in order to fill a carapace of a man.

The doll stands and rather horrifying it starts sprinting towards you.

"Those weren't dolls?!" You yell, feeling your face pale as you wonder what to do. You never did work best in a stressful situation.

It lunges at you and you dive in the opposite direction, narrowly avoiding a powerful punch from it's skinny arm.

"Cursed corpses. They are dolls. Dolls infused with my curse," Masamichi explains idly, watching the fight unfold.

Is that really a doll?! You think, seeing how it moves so humanly, almost as if it is sentient.

Masamichi remains unfazed at your predicament, "A person's true nature reveals itself during a crisis. I'll keep attacking you until I get an acceptable answer."

You hurry and cover your chest with your school bag in an effort to lessen the impact of the punch. Although, such efforts are futile when the doll's fist ignores the bag entirely and sends you flying across the room. You slump against the wall, feeling air stuck in your throat as you struggle to get up. "Look... it's not like I wanted curses to exist! It was a family member's tragedy!"

"A family member is still 'someone else,'" He replies idly. "A jujutsu sorcerer is constantly facing death. And not just their own death."

You wipe the blood trickling from the edge of your twitching lips, listening to his words as you try to summon cursed energy. But summoning it was like grasping at the darkness of a shadow inside your own soul, desperation hanging in the veins of clawing hands and eyes searching in vain for puddles of power that get lost.

"Sometimes you must ignore those murdered by a curse to rend the flesh from it. It's an unpleasant job. You have to be a little crazy and highly motivated to handle it. So you would do that because someone else told you to? That's pathetic."

"Screw off! You're-" You shout, feeling anger surge inside you. Your heart rattles against your rib cage; if it was made of paper you would have folded it and thrown it out of the window.

"Are you going to blame your mother when you meet the same fate as her?"


The question takes you back; it crumbles the thinned out silhouettes of shields you have measly conjured up until now. A paper heart that you hold, but it is far too burdensome to contain the sorrows it wants to convey.

You fall to your knees, hands on your lap as your knuckles tighten. You grip the corners of your skirt with frustration; his words cut down into the veins of the universe, salvaging the old truths and polishing the words and values few want to accept. Every atom in your body screams in grief, as if the dust burying all your old memories and nightmares is brushed off by an angel's breath.

The world seems to collapse within itself, porcelain and fragile faces fading in and out of existence; amid the chaos of your head, you clear it with a single thought. A command dug deep into the mind, hanging by a thread after a thousand years, ingrained to become instinct.


A wave of cursed energy floods the room, an aura so destructive it leaves it's victims reeling in paralysis. It did not walk between the thin line separating cosmos entities like life and death; it obliterated them with a single touch, redefining the nature of murder. If God had power, then he had nothing compared to what blessed the aura of humanity.

Hearts shake, bend and break, but it hurts in the wake of power awakening.

The cursed doll that had previously battered you, singing with insults, was now a pile of dust. The ashes of it's physicality fall to the ground like snowflakes in winter, delicate and small; it would be beautiful if it was not a mournful shade of grey.

"Jeez... you say some pretty damn harsh things, old man," You get to your feet, fighting back tears. Your legs shake from the exhaustion that overwhelms you in the moment.

Masamichi strokes his beard, "Education is making people realise things. It's not easy to imagine how you'll feel on the verge of death."

You inhale, looking briefly at Gojo-sensei.

"I will ask you one more time. Why are you here, [Last Name] [First Name]?" Masamichi's voice carries an impeccable sense of gravity across the room.

"Because... I can't run away from everyone and everything and if I have this power... no matter how burdensome or complex, I will use it because that is the truth. I don't know how it feels to die but I don't want to regret the way I lived!"

For a moment, a heavy silence blankets the dense air. It felt like a waiting game.

"Satoru, bring the other one after you show her to her dorms and explain security and everything else to her. She passed." He holds out his hand, "Welcome to Jujutsu Tech."


Your room back at your home was quintessential to say the least; it was cosy in the sense of it's small nature, but it was undeniably full of sorrow from the years of decay and despair it had fallen into. It wasn't a room you would feel like you could ever cherish, just live in as if it was a simple commodity.

Jujutsu Tech gave students their own dorms in a rather curious twist of events to what you are familiar with. This new way of living would certainly be new; Gojo-sensei had claimed he'd spoken to your father about your change of school but you question it heavily. The man was stupidly drunk half of the time, merrily chugging down the next pint of liquor, neck deep in a stupor not even a miracle could pull him out of.

Both you and Itadori stand in his room; you waited for him after his interview. The two of you look around, admiring the abode greatly.

"Woah!" You both yell, jumping up and down on the bed in wonder. "This place is huge!"

"All the second and third years are out at the moment," Gojo explains, resting his arm on the tall stack of boxes on his right. "You'll meet them soon and there aren't many of them."

Your eyes are caught on a poster in the corner of the room of a young blonde woman in a bikini.

You smack the back of Itadori's forehead, "There's no way you just put that poster up!"

Gojo grins, "[F/n]-kun, didn't you hear what Yuuji-kun was blabbering about in his interview?"

Itadori's shakes his head feverishly, "Sensei, no! Please don't tell her!"

"Too late," Gojo teases. He imitates how Itadori had behaved, "My name is Itadori Yuuji! I'm into girls like Jennifer Lawrence! Pleasure to meet you!"

"That's not how it was at all!" Itadori waves his hands embarrassingly, pink tinting his cheeks. "Ahhhhh, sensei! I was just nervous."

You cover your mouth after stifling your laugh, "Jennifer Lawrence?! Itadori-kun, you're so funny, please."

"I panicked!" He wails but the three of you talk into the night, giving rise to a new warmth for the next day, a day that will continue to be different to it's predecessor.

The day may end without a dwell on the world but that does not mean it won't carry the darkness of the years clinging on from before. Soon, this is will be made terrifyingly clear.


Chapter Text

A nightmare elicits more than the reality of bloodied lands. When you can't fully be here, you go to the places where you did feel alive - even if those places are filled with horror and misery. Daydreams last fourteen seconds on average but time is disapparant in the death notebook, where feeling alive is a soliloquy of all the thoughts in the world amassing to the bluest one; you are not you in those nightmares.

Instead, what plagues on your first night in the dorm alongside the raging moon, cold as the smile Father last gave you, is the litany of distant memories crowding your head like a pile of autumn leaves. You know those leaves are dying, that everywhere things are falling to sleep just like Mother, but the disappointment of 'yesterday' in the murky timeless echo was just the reminder of how you watched Mother's grave be dug.

It is not necessarily a nightmare, but death held her hand and you had watched those curses swallow her whole at the mercy of a thousand gods in agony; they will writhe in human emotion when you ascend to find her again.

She is lost; where is she? At the family grave on the hill overlooking the town, or deep in the waters of an unforgiving echo, pulled out from the framed photographs on walls for Father to hoard alongside a pint of gin?

O' death, she sings, where is thy sting?

Without an answer, you awake.


Tokyo sings with the click of boots against pristine pavements, marble touching marble; words ebb from people's lips around you but they become webbed into the air tightly, too disillusioned to understand. It was a city that makes you wonder if it cries itself to sleep every night, hurting from the pain of being alive; it's eyes must ache with the weight of unshed tears, for the burden of humanity brings to life anything it touches.

You sit on the metal railing, unfazed by the passing cars and loud traffic to which you become accustomed to with every passing minute. Eyes drift over to Fushiguro and Itadori, who wait patiently with you.

You cannot escape the feeling that, below the surface, something is breaking. Below the surface of the fragile web of thoughts, lingers the truth.

"I'm gonna get an ice lolly," Itadori says decidedly; immediately, he looks at you. "Do you want one as well?"

You blink, the mist around your eyes clearing, "Sure. I'll have whatever you're having."

Fushiguro rolls his eyes, unamused, "Be quick. It would be rude if we turned up late."

"Gojo-sensei is always late," You hum, "We learn from the best."

Two minutes later, Itadori is sprinting towards the two of you with two blue lollies in his hands. He hands one to you and you hate how a blush creeps onto your cheek at the brushing of your skin with him. Were you touch-deprived from a poor youth?

"Hm," Itadori ponders, looking over to Fushiguro, "How are there only four first-years? Isn't that too few?"

As he asks so, you take a bite out of the lolly, the taste of blueberry lingers on your tongue with a curling sweetness. It was a beautiful flavour, and you understand why he had it. Blue holds the deepest connotations, after all.

"Well, have you ever met anyone who can see curses before?" Fushiguro replies.

You don't bother opening your mouth to say something; what would you say after all? For a long time, curses were a silent outreach of the devil's smile, healing in the ruptures in your broken heart with a frothy venom. It was some black and rotting cavity of wrongness that hurt somewhere inside you; you had felt it but could never quite name it.

Itadori stops himself before he takes a bite out of the lolly, "Nope."

"That just proves how small a minority jujutsu sorcerers are," Fushiguro says, thin eyebrows meeting in the middle.

You tilt your head, "Didn't you say that Itadori and I were the third and fourth first years?"

Fushiguro nods, "This person's entry was decided a while ago. You know what our school is like. Everyone has unique circ*mstances."

Turning, you look over at the entrance to the train station and spot Gojo-sensei arriving with a wave. "Sorry for the wait!" He exclaims, walking over, "Your uniforms made it in time, I see."

You blink, looking down at seeing that he was right; how could you have forgotten? Perhaps the nightmare of last night had blocked out the memory of this morning.

What you were wearing consisted of a black button down jacket, black long skirt, and your old pair of sneakers. Thankfully, your attire was not a morbid black, which would have given you fears of forever looking like a funeral attendee when out in public. It was simply the colour of black just before midnight hit, the colour of blue like a midwinter night an hour before pitch dark.

There was, rather curiously, a notable difference in your uniform compared to the other two; an emblem was stitched onto your jacket, which you had seen before but can't quite place your finger on it. You had a hoodie attached to yours like Itadori, except yours was the same colour as your sneakers-light pink like sakura blossoms.

"Yeah," You smile weakly, "It's a perfect fit."

Itadori's finished popsicle is pinched between his fingers, "Though, ours are slightly different to Fushiguro's."

His thumb grazes the soft material making up his hood, brown eyes looking confusedly at it, "Ours have a hood, for one."

Gojo grins, "That's because the uniforms can be customised upon request."

"Huh?" You frown, looking away from your attire and at your teacher, "But... I never put in any requests. At least, I don't think I did."

"That's because I was the one who put in the custom order for the both of you," Gojo explains nonchalantly.

You look down, unsure how to react. Itadori's response is a shrug along the lines of 'Okay, I guess.'

Fushiguro looks even more outwardly stoic, "Be careful. Gojo-sensei has a tendency to do things like that." He lifts his head, looking around, "More importantly, why are we meeting up in Harajuku?"

Gojo gestures for the three of you to trail him as you go deeper into the crowded streets, "Ah, because it's what she wants."

And so, about ten minutes later, you spot her across the street, your eyes widened at what was happening. The teenager was practically barking at a pot-bellied man about something to do with a modelling gig, an iron grip around his collar as he tried to flee.

"We're about to meet her?" Itadori asks, a terrified expression on his face. "This is kinda embarrassing."

You stifle a laugh, "So are you."

Even though you and Itadori were from the countryside, it was only you who seemed to be less 'touristy' about your surroundings. Itadori, on the other hand, was wearing a bright pair of sunglasses that said 'ROOK' as well holding a bag of buttery popcorn in one hand and a strawberry crepe in another.

"Hey!" Gojo waves with a smile at the girl, completely unperturbed at her seething temperament, "Over here!"

You admire her when she comes into view. Her hair was a wonderful orange, and given what little you had seen of her personality, the viperous analogy of such a fruit seemed to fit her well. Her expression was tough to discern, icy in the distinct corners of her features; narrowed eyes and a sharp smile reminds you of the dry sweetness that hides inside an orange. She seemed to have built the layer of tough skin around her, a cold wall that aimed to block people out but you suspect it was simply trapping her in the tyranny of her mind.

Even her eyes were startling to look at; the shape of them appealed to you, like the natural ephemerality of a doe in the wild, and the sting of her long eyelashes made you weep at her beauty. She looks over all of you, a bitterness tucked behind the tendrils of tangerine.

And as she stares at the people before her, it's only now that you realise she is just a smidge shorter than you.

Itadori is the first to speak, "I'm Itadori Yuuji. I'm from Sendai."

And as if that was a cue for everyone else's introductions, Fushiguro says something dull next, "Fushiguro Megumi."

You bite your lip nervously, fiddling with your fingers at her burning glare, "Uh... [L/n] [Y/n]."

She sighs, fixing her gaze on the concrete pavement, "I always get stuck with unfortunate circ*mstances."

"She took one look and sighed," You deadpan, blinking at what had just happened. Even Itadori doesn't quite know how to react.

Fushiguro turns and looks at Gojo-sensei, "Are we going somewhere from here?"

Gojo has both his hands in his pocket, laughing quietly to himself, "Hm, well... We do have all four of you here together... And three of you are from the countryside... So, that means only one thing. We're going on a tour of Tokyo!"

"A tour of Tokyo?!" A wide grin appears on your face and you twirl on the spot, immediately jumping up and down.

Tokyo is a jewel beyond comprehension, hidden behind foggy mornings with blankets of grey smothering the sky, but peel back the layers and the truth is revealed. The sky was azure, white clouds as fluffy as they look, drifting hazily across your peripheral vision, thousands and thousands of feet away from your mellow eyes. The harsh gaze of the sun had dwindled in the early morning, now emitting a more soft beam of light down on the very populated city, the sunlight reflecting off the glassy windows. Such natural beauty, and such a waste it would be concealed by the smoke of the furnaces and the emissions of vehicles. Humans cluster their world with their own devices, ruining the beauty of something else in order to add to the beauty of themselves.

That was the endless treasure your parents had embedded into your head about the cunning wealth that life brought; the serenity of the countryside is nothing compared to the endless possibilities that a city as large as Tokyo seemed to brim with.

After you, Itadori and Kugisaki collectively hug Gojo-sensei and squeal together in excitement about the so-called 'tour' ( Fushiguro remained completely unfazed ), Gojo relents, "I will now tell you the name of our destination."

Both you and the other two drop to one knee, head bowed as you await an answer. It was likely very comical for passerbyers to watch but you were just wanting to have fun with your new-found friends. It wasn't like this sort of thing was a commodity back home; people are often wary of a lonely, loveless girl whose mother is rotting in a grave and father is a drunkard.

"Roppongi!" Gojo puts his hands around his mouth, speaking in an amusing announcer voice.

If you thought Roppongi was a fairytale castle dripping head to toe in Tokyo's most lavish sights then sadly, whatever dream you were euphorically reeling in, was as fake as the promises father made.


Your mind is as fragile as the teacups inside an antique store; it has it's uses but in a witting admiration, it can fumble and collapse. And once fractured, it can never be the same again. Such an analogy is befitting of a girl who was plagued by hallucinations of cursed spirits across your lifetime. Roppongi is not a place where frail sakura blossoms bloom on the crooked branch of every tree, but instead it is the end of everything in existence, Tokyo's end.

"There's a curse here," You say suddenly, lips moving without thinking.

The wave of darkness crawls unwelcomingly across your skin, a vivid coldness that reminds you of the sulphur lakes trembling in hell. You are standing in front of a four story building and every nerve in your body feels like it's been painfully unwoven at the merciless thought of a curse.

What a delicate aura, like a black heart. This curse was visceral in its approach as it tears open your chest to reveal a broken heart, no longer pulsing but instead, it withers like the strings have snapped in two. Rotten flesh lays aghast around the ribcage; like the jagged cutting rock of a cave, it surrounds the demise of your organs. You recoil, stepping back in horror at the descriptive nightmare presented in front of you. Your hands press against your breasts and the wavy skin to reflect the ribcage, but you feel no gaping hole physically present on your body. While metaphorically, your heart is cut open with a surgeon's touch, beautified for the world to revel in it's pitiful plight, realistically, the organ was beating away within you, a constant force that shrouded your shrivelled body everywhere you go.

"You alright?" Fushiguro turns and looks at you; his eyes haunt the remains of something somber, lonely and lost. The green hues take some of your sadness away, leaving you a little hollow at the beckoning thought of sorcery.

As he asks this, Itadori and Kugisaki are pulling their hair out, angry and frustrated expressions on their face, "You liar!" Kugisaki waves her fists around.

You look away, catching your breath; curses seem to affect you more than anything else, "Yeah... I guess I'm still adjusting."

Itadori's lips bitterly curl, "This isn't even Roppongi!"

You didn't even know what Roppongi even looked like, so Gojo's little trick seems somewhat funny now that you reflect on it.

Pouting, Kugisaki points at the building, "You were toying with us country folk!"

After the two calm down ( you had to clasp Itadori by the shoulders and make a promise to take him to the real Roppongi oneday ), Gojo starts speaking.

His expression is always difficult to place, an illusion that befits all. Perhaps it was the blindfold masking his eyes that made him such a mysterious figure; he was intrepid in his gaze, and far too wise with his words. Something about him makes you quiver with anxiety, like he is simply a deity too far away, out of the reach of a powerless human. He understands things you cannot even begin to comprehend, and you imagine there to be a plethora of secrets webbed tightly into the string of his thoughts. Not that you could ever predict what a man like him was thinking.

"There's a big cemetery nearby," He says, slightly shifting his head and you look over, eyebrows knitting together when you realise how the hours ticked by. A whole day disappearing at the premise of dusk; was it wasted or was Gojo-sensei initiating some sort of training coup? "The double whammy of that and an abandoned building brought out a curse."

Hands inside your skirt pocket upon the crisp breeze brushing your cheeks, you reply idly, "So they really do pop up more often around graves?"

Fushiguro shakes his head, "The issue isn't the cemetery itself. It's the fact that people associate cemeteries with fear."

Itadori quirks his eyebrows, "Oh, it was the same for schools too, wasn't it?"

"Hold up, you guys don't know that yet?" Kugisaki asks, rather surprised too. Perhaps she was raised more cordially compared to you and Itadori; the two of you were still learning the workings of this separate world to the one you were most used to.

Fushiguro replies stoically, "To be honest... Itadori did eat Sukuna's finger."

"He swallowed a special-grade cursed object?!" Kugisaki waved her arms frantically, "Gross! Unbelievable! That's so unsanitary and disgusting!" She shuffles away with a weary expression on her face, "No way! No way! No way!"

"What?" Itadori whines; he can't really complain after all. He did do it, and besides, judging from the collection of descriptions you acquired about what happened when you were unconscious, it seemed like Itadori did it randomly without a single sane or rational thought.

Both you and Fushiguro say the same thing in response, monotonously, "I agree with her..."

Gojo sighs, still looking ahead at the building, "I want to see what you guys are capable of. Just think of this as a field test."

You scratch the side of your neck as you listen patiently to his words, heeding to them, "Nobara, Yuuji, you two go exorcise the curse inside that building."

Not me?! You cover your mouth to stop yourself saying that out loud. Really, you should be lucky that Gojo hasn't asked you to go along. Your stomach is already twitching at the idea of fighting a curse.

"Huh? But I thought only curses could exorcise curses, right?" Itadori inquires, "I can't use any jujutsu yet."

Gojo points at Itadori's heart, "You're basically half a curse already. There's cursed energy flowing throughout your body." He steps closer with the same poker expression he's had on all day, "Though controlling that energy isn't something you can learn overnight, so use this."

Rather unexpectedly, he pulls out the cover for a blade, making everyone's jaws unhinge and drop to the floor. Where did he even get it from?! You don't even know how logically such a wicked weapon would go undetected as you ventured across Tokyo with him for the day.

"It's the cursed tool, Slaughter Demon," Gojo explains as Itadori unsheathes it and holds it out above his head. "It's a weapon imbued with cursed energy. It'll work on curses, too."

The silver metal flashes under the depth of the moonlight, a stunning gunmetal grey that was not as ashen or nondescript as one would think, but instead it glistened with a frightening power. The sharpness of it's outline did not fail to make your heart jump out of your throat. It's right there when it hits you like a bag of bricks about the compromising reality of this jutting world; a line of morals and ideologies where the fixation of magic involves handing teenagers weapons made to kill.

You don't remember this life, a life spun together by fate with a dash of mundanity. It gives rise to so many questions, but you must shun them away in the moment to clear your cluttered head; the answers may not even be known yet.

"Oh, one more thing," Gojo adds as you watch Itadori and Kugisaki walk towards a graffitied wall, "Don't let Sukuna out. If you use him, you'll get rid of all of the curses nearby in a flash, but you'll also drag everyone around into it."

Just hearing the name makes your fingers curl around the hem of your black skirt, fear throbbing in the hollow vessel of your heart, veins sizzling with an unknown anxiety, stemming from thousands of years of instinctive pain.

"Got it," Itadori does a thumbs up, "I won't let Sukuna out."

After watching Kugisaki and Itadori lift the closed shutters, you retreat alongside Gojo and Fushiguro, sitting on a block of cement around the abandoned complex.

"I think I'll go," Fushiguro says sullenly.

Gojo shakes his head; he's sitting on the floor but his head still matches the same level as yours given his height, "Don't push yourself. You're still recovering."

Fushiguro sighs, "But someone needs to keep an eye on Itadori, right?"

"True," Gojo taps his chin, "But the one we're testing this time is Nobara."

"Oh, is that why I am not joining them, sensei?" You tilt your head in inquiry, wondering what the reason for your non-participation was.

Gojo nods, "Well, that and the fact that I want you to be thoroughly trained and tested. Up until recently, you were just a normal schoolgirl. It's fine for you to not have conquered your fear or disgust yet but..."

He turns and looks at you for the longest time, as if you can spot the irises hidden behind his thick blindfold. He's reading you like you're an open book and it would be unsettling if he wasn't being so truthful and nonchalant about it.

"What?" You ask blankly, wondering what he is thinking.

Gojo waves his hand, "Nothing, nothing! We'll be getting sushi in Ginza after this."

Something tells you that wasn't it, but you just hope he'll tell you at some point.

Fushiguro rolls his eyes, "Yeah but I bet you'll be making us pay for it."

Gojo beams, "You know your teacher so well, Megumi! A student helps out their tall, handsome, broke teacher any time, you know."

Your lips curve upwards into a small smile; looking up at the twinkling stars locked in the dark blanket rolled across the sky, you think about the sting of death just as how you had thought about it that morning.

One day, it will sting you, the hardship of jujutsu sorcery, and you know you'll never be the same after that. For now, sitting outside a compound in the middle of empty Roppongi with your teacher and friend would suffice. You're just grateful you're not the one exorcising the curse.

It's just a waiting game now.

Chapter 7: AN EYE FOR AN EYE

Chapter Text

This world is a line running along the edge of the universe, swerving around battlestars and thinning out in the midst of sunny skies and porcelain clouds. You feel eternity in motion, in unrelenting rains and waves of sunshine pouring over your head when the warmth of your parents' empty hugs do no more than widen the gap in your heart.

And right now, the world centred in on Eishuu Juvenile Detention Center where the rain became more vicious as you think. It's the day after Harajuku and this atmosphere that has swallowed you up whole feels intrepidly different to the daze from yesterday; tension swallows the air around you, thick and unforgiving as you struggle to breathe in the darkness.

An emergency had broken out at the juvenile detention center, and all four of the first years were dispatched to handle it — it was just as Gojo had said; this was likely your test. The dispatcher's words go through one ear and out the other, but you heard some bits. Your mission was to verify and rescue any survivors left inside with the cursed womb that appeared on the site.

"Our window verified the cursed womb three hours ago. Once 90% were evacuated, they made the call to seal off the center. Citizens within a 500-meter radius have been evacuated as well," Ijichi-san says idly, hands resting behind him in his suit.

You blink, realising you had dazed off again, "Ijichi-san, I have a question. What's a 'window' here?"

"A window is a member of Jujutsu Tech who can see curses. They aren't sorcerors though."

Huh, maybe I should be one of those people, you wonder briefly.

"Let's continue," He says, undeterred, and guides you and the others to Detainee Block 2. "At present, five detainees remain there with the cursed womb. If this cursed womb is the type that metamorphoses, we predict it will become a special-grade cursed spirit."

You shiver upon hearing that word, knowing it means something dangerous. Your eyes meet Kugisaki and Fushiguro, both of whom also have a hint of terror inside their hues.

"I must reiterate this to you: do not fight under any circ*mstances," Ijichi fixes his eyes which rest close to the ridge of his eyes, "If you encounter a special-grade cursed spirit, your options are to either run or die. Please just listen to your fears. Do not forget that your mission here is strictly the verification and rescue of survivors."

He pauses as soon as someone's terrified cries haunt the air; everyone turns and in the distance, the police hold back a teary-eyed woman. You find your nails digging into your palm, as if wanting to imprint crescent-shaped bruises. She calls out for her son, Tadashi, in such poignant agony and you hate it. You hate it so, so much.

This is the world you're trapped in, full of death and death and death.

For a moment, you're that little girl again and the web of lies is cut-throat as it spindles a veil around your skin, warping the beauty of the universe and helping demons emerge from the darkness. Mother's eyes are blacker than the ebony spat in the spaces between stars. She calls for you, as if that woman being barricaded by the police was now suddenly her.

Come back to me, she whispers. Finish what I started.

A second later, you fix your expression, forcing a plastic smile onto your face.

Fushiguro puts his hands together, fingers forming the outline of a dog. His pupils narrow as he calls out his shikigami, "Demon Dogs!"

From the slither of his shadow, a white wolf-like dog emerges playfully; the purity of its fur is brighter than the blackness the darkness of Fushiguro's shadow conveyed. As white as sclera of a dead man, or the wishing bones of templar skeletons, the wolf howls upon being summoned.

"He'll let us know if the curse gets close," Fushiguro explains — his expression was as still as the undisturbed surface of a lake beneath the moon.

"Oh, I see!" You muse, kneeling before the dog. Itadori does the same, an innocent and carefree smile locked on the ivory of his face, "Good boy, good boy! We're counting on you, okay?" You look unwaveringly at it's pitch-black hues and sun-yellow sclera.

Itadori accidentally brushes your hand when you both tickle the dog's fur, a final hurrah before battle, but you overlook it as Fushiguro ushers for the two of you to resume your stances.

Kugisaki opens the door and it creaks, reminding you of the untuned piano sitting back home, the one that screamed every time the rocking chair broke or the wind hurled it's fright into the room.

Chills creep along everyone's faces as the darkness stirs; the walls feel like they are narrowing the more you sprint down them besides Fushiguro.

But then suddenly, you halt in your steps and look up, a sinking feeling embellished in your stomach from all the built up of anxiety.

"What is this?" Kugisaki looks around, her orange eyes startled at the infinital height of the room. It seemed like the walls never ended and the black corners haunting the air above you grow thick upon the scent of your fear.

Itadori stumbles, eyes widened in confusion, "Wh - What's going on in here? This is a two-story dorm, isn't it?"

Kugisaki inhales, hands raised as she frets, "C-C-Calm down! It's a maisonette."

"No, it's not," Fushiguro looks stunned, struggling to remain calm, "It's the deployment of an Innate Domain due to cursed energy... I've never seen one this big." Suddenly, he whips around, sweat trickling down his brow, "Where's the door?!"

"Th - The door's... gone?" You tilt your head, realising the entrance was now barred by a litany of long and winding pipes on the walls. "Didn't we just walk through it? I..."

Naturally, panic sets in like water filtering through a crack in a wall. Fushiguro seems to be the only one whose nerves are not frayed or weathered by the obstacles in the mission; he does have more experience than Kugisaki, Itadori and you combined, you guess. "It's fine," He says dully, watching Itadori and Kugisaki mutter their final prayers, "The dog remembers the scent of the entrance."

"Ah, good boy," You ruffle the dog's fur, "You can have all the jerky you want when you get out."

"You are way too calm now!" A tick appears on Fushiguro's forehead at his friends' antics.

But the playful mannerism you briefly adorn will shed when the horror unfolds, and as you trail deeper into the darkness of the hallways, you realise that the world is eclipsed in black and white; a merciless reality awaits you, the one you refuse to think about.


About an hour into the search, you find a door that isn't locked, but upon entering it, the world shakes and rattles like a dying heart in a ribcage. The stench of blood is pungent and it froths in the gaunt air, rivalling your capacity for not vomiting upon instinct — it's a putrid and sad wave of death that rolls over the room like a blanket.

"Atrocious," Fushiguro murmurs; he seems too calm. Maybe, he's just more used to it than you. You can feel your knees buckling, eyes dancing around the room, not wanting to look at this reality that is staring at you. "It's three people, right?"

You cover your mouth, stumbling towards the corpses, but you cannot even call them human. Pale are their faces, dried up like a vampire in sunlight, having lost the image of being alive. The trail of blood is heavy but fleeting, pooled beneath the severed flesh and soaking the concrete ground. Slumped against the wall is the torso of a young man, and the curled up spine of an unknown creature cuddles the muscle and bone of his inmates.

Itadori runs immediately, his legs carrying him to a place his heart doesn't; he looks out of the corner of his eye and sees you. You. You in your fresh school uniform, a round tear escaping the eyes' edges, trembling lips threatening to spill bile and a body that is being hollowed out from the memories of a dark past.

He holds your hand tightly, feeling the same emotions rotting inside you in that very moment. And you watch, not sure what to even do, as he tugs on the nametag stitched onto the navy blue jumpsuit, and it reads very faintly Okazaki Tadashi.

The woman's words come hurrying back into the conk of your skull, wine dripping into a chalice as it brews over this tragedy. Is my son, Tadashi, okay? Where is he? Please help him.

"Let's take this body back," Itadori says suddenly, a dark expression scrawled on his face.

Kugisaki blinks, "Huh?"

"It's that woman's son," You murmur, eyes gently roving over him, "His face isn't too badly mangled. His mother won't accept it if we tell her he's dead, but we don't have a body."

Fushiguro walks over and pulls the two of you by your hoods, "We have to find and verify two more. Leave that body behind."

How can you be so heartless? Can't we do anything? Anything? ANYTHING?

"Quit joking around!" Itadori yells, "We turned around, and the way we got in here was gone! We won't be able to come back for it later!"

Fushiguro argues back, equally passionate, "I didn't say to come back for it! I said to leave it behind!" He inhales, thin eyebrows still knitted together, "I have no intention of risking my own life to save someone I had no intention of saving in the first place!"

His words incite something in Itadori, who leaps forwards and holds Fushiguro by the collar as well, "No intention of saving him? What do you mean?!"

"This is a juvenile detention center," Fushiguro replies, trying to stay calm, "Jujutsu sorcerers are granted access to all information about the scene beforehand. This Okazaki Tadashi hit a little girl on her way home from school while driving without a license. It was his second offense of driving without a license."

You pause, feeling your morals getting twisted in the palm of God. This information evoked a change in emotion, as if you were thinking differently now. All you can think about it is that little girl; that could have been you had your mother chosen to let you die instead...

"I know you're stuck on saving lots of people and guiding them to proper deaths," Fushiguro explains, "But what are you going to do when someone you saved kills someone else in the future?"

You sulkily retreat, prying Fushiguro's fingers off your bubblegum pink hood and standing silently next to Kugisaki, who holds your hand.

Itadori, however, does not relent, "Then why did you bother saving me?!"

Kugisaki hurries over with you, "Cut it out! Christ, what are you two doing?! You're both idiots! Think about the time and place if you—"

She stops speaking and you turn, realising in horror that she had actually fallen through the ground and left you. It still felt like she was holding your hand but you could see her flailing expression as she slipped through like sand.

A scream leaves your mind before you can even comprehend it; you have lost all means of remaining calm. Everything —the corpses, the hardship, mother, and now this — was destroying you mercilessly.

"Kugisaki?" Itadori turns with a frown, looking at the puddle left behind in her wake.

You fall to your knees, perplexity written on your features; fingers clawing at what was left, you blink at what was happening. Nobara had definitely slipped through an Innate Domain. That word feels vaguely familiar to you, like you had heard it once years ago.

"No way... The Demon Dog should have sensed the curse!" Fushiguro mutters, horrified.

But you see why the dog didn't - it's head was sticking out of a punctured concrete wall, blood seeping from a cracked skull. The stain of red over white is unlike anything you have ever seen before; it was not beautiful at all, but it still conveyed beauty.

As your throat clamps up, you find you have so many things you want to say. You can feel the aura of a cursed spirit hanging in the air tightly woven around you. The power it reeks off is so innately different that you cannot even come close to comprehending it.

There's a cursed spirit. There's a cursed spirit. There's a cursed spirit.

But, before you can tell anyone, it happens before your eyes, standing between Fushiguro and Itadori.

Their eyes are widened at the proximity of the monster and you can tell their brains are screaming at them to move but they're paralysed in natural fear; they are frozen in place like time had stopped.

Even if you wanted to move, what would you do anyway? Your mind is blank because you have never done this before. Nothing in your head is telling you anything and it seems like instinct is the only thing you can rely on.

You watch Itadori's shaking hand hover over the hilt of his demon weapon, the same one that he used in Roppongi. And then, he pulls it out and all you see is a gleam of silver reflecting from the nearby flickering lights and... and...

A jutting sound comes next, like a fine and thin cut — it was not the sound of his blade hitting the curse. The blade lands a few metres away and Itadori's hand is still tightly curled around it's hilt.

"Itadori?" You whisper, terrified. You cannot take your eyes off the blood and the hand and reality was finally starting to sink in.

Itadori pulls out a line of bandages and starts to wrap his hand, watching the cursed spirit crow in amusem*nt.

"Hey Sukuna," He says, "If I die, you die too, right? If you don't want that then help me out!"

"Nope," Sukuna's cruel-lipped mouth prods from beneath Itadori's eyes. "If you want to switch... then switch. But once you do, I'll kill this brat before the cursed spirit can! Then I'll go for that woman. She's a lively one so I'll have fun with her. And finally..."

His eyes swivel and fixate on you with a malicious grin, "You. I think I'll save you for last, [First Name] [Last Name]."

How does he know my name?! You stagger back, disliking how familiar the darkness of that entity is. His serpentine smile lingers as if collecting the dust of a thousand years memories.

"I'm not going to let you do that," Itadori furrows his eyebrows angrily.

You bite your lip, "L - Let me distract it. Fushiguro, you retreat and Itadori, you lure Sukuna out. Let me... let me help. It's the least I can do."

As you say this, the monster bellows a burst of fire and sends cataclysmic damage to the floor. It was enough to make the ground shake angrily like the earth was struggling to fight back.

Fushiguro's eyes widen; he snatches your hand, "It's not jujutsu. It just unleashed pure cursed energy."

Your nails dig into the back of his palm, "Fushiguro! Fushiguro! Fushiguro!"

He is too focused on the maniacal laughter the sentient spirit exudes, watching it's muscular and pale arms twirl at the excitement of playing with humans.

Itadori's voice finally jolts him back to reality, breaking through the air which was shrouded with a painful, ringing sound, "Take Kugisaki and [First Name] and get out of here! I'll keep him busy until you guys are out. As soon as you're out, give me some kind of signal. Once you do that... I'll switch with Sukuna."

"You can't do that!" Fushiguro's hands ball into fists, "Not with only one arm against a special-grade!"

You do the same, "Don't do it! You know what the mission is..."

But Itadori just looks sadly at the two of you; only one word is enough for you to give him your heart, "Please."


Fushiguro and you find Kugisaki after what feels like hours being pressed into your palms. She's swallowed up in the darkness, being played with by some curses. And naturally, her temperance come in handy when it came to stalling for time.

You arrive and the build up of agony inside your soul starts to unstitch itself unsettlingly when you evoke cursed energy. Every atom in your body trembles from the thoughts of the night, the blood and the screams and the eyes of that cursed spirit as it toyed with you.

You don't know what really happens, because your mind seems to blot it out when you use your jujutsu. It's like a nightmare that doesn't wash away when the tide comes — tethered and growing in strength.

The world falls away just enough for you to implement your emotions onto the flesh of cursed spirits and the air around them starts to tear at their skin, like acid rain which melts away their insides.

Fushiguro summons a viper and a frog to assist you but the mass amount of energy you used did not go to vain; you destroy eight cursed spirits in the matter of a few seconds. They are no more than the dust that gathers inside a derelict room, like all the spaces in the house back home.

"We're escaping, Kugisaki!" Fushiguro resumes a battle stance while you smile wryly at Kugisaki sitting in the mouth of a frog.

She looks glum, "I hate frogs, you know."

You smile, "You look so funny, it's cute."

"Yeah, well, sorry!" Fushiguro replies, irked.

But thankfully, there are no more troubles, other than Kugisaki complaining about the insidious tongue of a frog, as you exit the building safely.

As you lay Kugisaki gently and look at her injuries, one of Fushiguro's shikigamis howls beneath the moonlight. You lift your head, "Is that the signal?"

"Yeah," Fushiguro replies grimly, sinking as he rests against the wall.

You get to your feet, brushing dust off your black skirt, "Right, I'll go help Itadori. Try to see if any of the two detainees managed to get out as well."

"What?!" Fushiguro reaches out to stop you but you move away. "What the hell, [First Name]?! Sukuna's been unleashed."

Your hands shake as you speak, "I can't just sit here and do nothing!"

"Wait... first, let's go speak to Ijichi-san. We can wait for Itadori to return."

You bite your lip, unamused. But, you don't have the strength to fight, "Fine."

Ijichi-san is in his car near the evacuation area, and he rolls down his window when Fushiguro goes over to speak.

"Please expand the evacuation area to ten kilometres," Fushiguro requests, grimly thinking about how powerful that special-grade cursed spirit was.

Ijichi nods, "And what about you guys?"

You hold your breath, nervously, "We're waiting for Itadori to return."

"I see," Ijichi replies calmly, "After I take Kugisaki-san to the hospital, I'll return as quickly as possible."

Fushiguro shakes his head, "No, there wouldn't be much point in you staying here."

You arch an eyebrow. He says it so bluntly!

"If you want to do something," He continues, "Please ask them to send over a sorcerer grade 1 or higher. Not that I imagine any are around."

Ijichi lowers his head as Fushiguro folds his arms, "I'll do what I can."

And he drives off, leaving you and Fushiguro, who looks at you with unrelenting worry, "Are you sure you don't need to go to the hospital?"

"I'm fine," You muster a reply. "Besides, we have more pressing concerns to worry about."

The two of you cast your gaze on the juvenile detention centre. A low murmur leaves your lips as your eyes look worryingly at the darkness shrouding the place, "We both know there's a chance that Itadori might not regain control."

You take a step forward but Fushiguro's hand curls around your hood again, "Stop. Don't go. You're just walking towards your death."

"Then what do you want me to do?!" You yell, exasperatedly.


I guess you were right all along — it really is a waiting game.


Chapter Text

The rain is relentless in the wake of midnight, wet ash melting away on the concrete you stand on. The callous gaze of a deity was made ever so evident with the freezing winds. It is the type of coldness that reaches into your bones, as if your heart was a door left wide open to the icy wind, slamming only to open again.

You look up, letting water droplets graze your cheeks coldly, watching natural black tug at the stars in the same way a mother held her newborn. Eyes wrought with fear and turmoil turn and twist at the darkness ahead; the anxiety curled up in your bones threatens to destroy you.

"I have to go," You say suddenly, "We've waited long enough."

Fushiguro has an unwavering expression tightening in his irises, "Don't you trust Itadori?"

You don't meet his eyes, "Of course, I trust him. But, I don't trust Sukuna and I can't help but think that sitting here and doing nothing is going to get Itadori killed."

The rain sends a chill down your spine and you inhale, striding forwards but Fushiguro's fingers curl around the wrist of your black uniform.

"Stop," He says, "You're just getting yourself killed. We're supposed to be saving people."

You purse your lips, "We are saving people! We couldn't save that woman's son, so I have to do everything I can to be of use."

"[First Name]!" He yells, "Think straight. You need to clear your head-"

As he speaks, your eyes cast their gaze sadly on the juvenile detention centre but recoil; the air becomes faintly thin. The colours of the world fizzle like something supernatural has disturbed the finely woven tapestry of time. It was like feeling a million goosebumps ingrained onto your skin at once, hairs as sharp as knives at the thought of a curse.

"What... was that?" You stumble, struggling to speak.

Fushiguro hurries forwards, "The Innate Domain's closed off! The special-grade cursed spirit is dead."

The image of that monster returns to the surface of your tarnished mind, brimming in a lake of sinners; that curse... was dead? That curse and it's wide grin that looked like it would devour you whole and the loop of Itadori's hand being cut off replays over and over again in your head.

"Now we just need Itadori to return safely-" You begin, but then your heart jumps at what cuts your sentence off - that aura.

"Sorry," The voice crows, appearing behind Fushiguro, who seems to be frozen in place from fear, "But he's not coming back."

Your heart is palpitating in your ribcage, as if it might explode just from the terror of hearing that voice, feeling the inexplicable pain and power that this person radiated.

Shaking, you shift your head and look slightly to the left of Fushiguro, eyes fixed on him. Everything about him was the same and yet so different, two sides of a coin that battled with the wrath of human anatomy.

You watch the fine lines of heaven and hell blur with the outline of this man, this monster, this god. Itadori's features beckon you, but not with the comforting warmth they normally bring. Instead, the bubblegum pink riddled in his hair and the dash of chestnut brown in his eyes are nothing more than slates of illusions wiped clean.

The marks on his face are as black as the heart of death, curving the sharpness of his jaw and amplifying the darkness beneath his eyes.

"Don't be so frightened," Sukuna drawls and you hate it. He's in Itadori's body and has his appearance and stands with slouching shoulders and hands in pockets - it's as if nothing is wrong. "I'm in a great mood right now. Let's chat for a bit."

Fushiguro, like you, can't bring himself to even speak. Every thought he has ever conjured cannot be explained with words. Nothing that humanity has devised can capture the intensity of this moment.

Sukuna walks ahead and stands next to you, "This is what he gets for trying to use me without any kind of pact. Feels like he's having some trouble switching back."

Is he...gone? Is that how it is? No body, no final goodbye? Just...this?

It's not even like Itadori died, but rather he stopped existing.

Sukuna's sharp claws tug at Itadori's black uniform, "Still though... It's only a matter of time."

He rips it apart and casts it to the ground where it seemingly wilts under the rain. "Mm," His lips curl devilishly, "I've thought about what I can do."

And then, horrifyingly, like something out of a nightmare, Sukuna reaches into Itadori's heart and pulls it out. The grin on his face makes you want to scream, and instinctively you try to stop him but your legs won't move.

Blood trails down the corners of his twitching lips; he looks at ease, completely undisturbed by the actions he is doing.

"Wh- What are you..." You choke out something, anything.

Crimson spills and runs down the lines of square tiles on the ground, the splatter of rain enhancing the scent of death. Fushiguro's eyes widen, much like yours, caught up in the shock of what was unfolding.

Sukuna holds up a pulsing heart, beating away in his hand - not any heart, it was Itadori. "I'm taking this brat hostage," He says uncaringly.

"Hostage?!" Fushiguro frees his hands, "What?"

"I can live without this," Sukuna looks at the heart, "But that ain't true for the brat."

As he says this, he throws it carelessly to the side. You blink, looking at this heart that was struggling to live while cushioned by chartreuse grass.

"Switching out with me means he dies," Sukuna continues, pulling out something from his pocket and it's a dried, shrivelled finger. "For good measure," He comments and swallows it.

Sukuna's finger... You try to catch your breath but it's hard to with the rain and the wind and him. That special-grade must have consumed it.

"With that, I'm as free as a bird," His hand twitches unnaturally, veins writhing in evolution, "You can be frightened now. I'll kill you."

Fushiguro initates a battle stance, raising his hands. You watch, still shaking because your mind is blank and you don't know what to do.

"Itadori's coming back," He says suddenly. You can hear the confidence and faith entangled in his words and it gives rise to something hopeful brimming in your ribcage. "Even if that means he'll die. That's just who he is."

You gulp, standing still because you don't have a battle stance yet.

Sukuna scoffs, "You give him too much credit. This guy's just a little tougher and denser than other humans."

"That's... that's because he is! He's still alive and we'll drag him out of you, even if it kills us," You narrow your eyes.

Sukuna wipes the blood hanging around his mouth with the back of his hand, smiling, "Just a moment ago, he was scared out of his mind, on the verge of death, and prattling on about his regrets and all that nonsense. I know for a fact he doesn't have the guts to kill himself."

You look at the hand, realising it was the same one that the special-grade had cut off on Itadori. So, the hand got restored...

"He can use Reverse Cursed Techniques," Fushiguro notes grimly.

You don't have a clue what that means but you go along with it. "Even if he can live without a heart, it should still be damaging to him."

We make him heal his heart before Itadori returns, you mentally note. We just have to make him believe he can't beat us without a heart in his body!

"[First Name]," Fushiguro says darkly, holding up his hands to make the formation of a bird. "You provide support. You don't have enough experience to fight."

Sukuna stares calmly at you, his eyes bearing their darkness onto the windows of your soul. The innate calamity of the situation contrasts with the relaxed mannerism he has adopted and it irks you how powerful this being is.

From the trails of his shadow, Fushiguro summons a large bird behind him, the wisps of black still hanging in the air.

Everything happens so fast that you're not sure how to even react or move. You trail Fushiguro, watching the bird move on the right side while he sprints on the left.

"I'm finally outside, after all," Sukuna runs his fingers through his hair with a maniacal grin, "Let's use the open space."

While Fushiguro tries to attack him, you wait for the perfect opportunity, too terrified to properly act. To conjure your Cursed energy on a level that could afflict damage onto Sukuna, you would need to magnify every dark emotion rattling inside the carapace you live in.

"Interesting," You hear Sukuna muse, "You use shikigami but you also come at me yourself."

He hasn't even taken his hands out of his pockets yet, just immaculately dodging every one of Fushiguro's attacks. It's a fight that is too fast for you to comment on.

You don't even know what you should be doing, because there isn't even that opening you desperately needed.

"Put more curse into it," Sukuna's eyes flash dangerously, becoming the colour of red like blood falling out of a gutter. His grip around Fushiguro tightens and when he releases, all you see is dust billowing and droplets of crimson sinking across the air.

A thin unwavering line of blood trickles down the edge of his mouth; he looks strangely calm but you can imagine the terror wraught in his head.

But in the end, what unfolds is exactly what you thought would happen. It is a chain of destruction that you try helplessly to halt but the lack of hope trembling in your soul gives way to your eventual demise.

"Hey, what did I say?" Sukuna stands idly next to Fushiguro and then, in a turn of events, sends him flying into the air. "Let's use the open space!"

Your legs start moving before you even realise that Fushiguro is spinning across the air and crash-landing across two buildings. "Fu - Fushiguro!" You scream, hurrying after them.

All sense of rationality is crumpled up and thrown out the window; you don't think, just act. And in that moment, your jujutsu spins a web around you, evoking a millennia of ancient energy.

Like Sukuna and Fushiguro, you find your agility enhanced at the price of your sanity. Every step feels like trying to run across water but it's worth it, because, you have to find Fushiguro.

"L - Let go of him!"

Heads turn, and you stagger towards the scene. Fushiguro slumps against a cracked wall, battered. His Shikigami tries fruitfully to shield him.

Panting, you look around, and pick up a sharp rock. The outline is jagged and rough, a thin layer of dust gathering on your fingertips. It's just a rock, small enough to fit in your calloused palm.

Still, it's something.

Just like you expected, Sukuna dodges the rock with malicious ease but you just need to provide enough time for a distraction.

His eyes are as dark the sky on God's death, fleeting black irises embalmed by the mercy of a devil. They are a driving force towards destruction, jutting in their manner as they cut into the flesh of your soul.

"It's about time you bothered to fight," He says calmly, walking towards you. "I said I was going to save you for last but... I'm feeling confident today."

In the blink of an eye, he already has his hand around your neck, lifting you into the air. Your throat clamps up and it becomes harder to breathe, like you have tripped into the gallows and been hung by a noose.

Kicking, you try to speak, to say anything, but Sukuna is laughing and such laughter grounds your courage into the dirt.

"[Last Name], huh?" There's an unsettling gleam in his eyes. "I can tell by that naive look on your face that these idiots haven't told you everything."

"Shut...up," You choke out some words.

His nail digs harder into the thin skin and you squirm in pain when he draws blood, "No, I think I'll keep talking."

With his other hand, Sukuna presses his palm against your temple, inciting a painful headache at the trauma of your skull. "Your ancestors used to worship me," He tilts his head, "You know, your lineage is quite special. I see they still continue old practices."

A panicked expression forms on your pale face, What the hell is he talking about?!

He continues, even as you struggle in his iron grip, "Your jujutsu is not bad. It could certainly be better. I thought your memories would be fine by now but actually, it's much better if they are locked. At least you can't blab to anyone before you die."

I don't even know what you're talking about! f*ck... I should have brought Itadori's heart.

"Fight me," You blurt.

Your words catch him off guard. A grin makes his lips curve upwards, "It would be too easy, brat. I'll have to give you some of my blood to make it even."

He looks around, casting his gaze on Fushiguro who was pitifully injured, "Doesn't look like help is coming any time soon."

Sukuna's grip loosens and you fall to the ground when he releases, shaky breaths leaving your sore lungs. He kicks you to the side and you look up, blinking at the blurry vision.

"I used to let your family carry my blood," He spat with disdain, "And look at them now, morons that got over their head and stabbed my back."

He pulls you up, "I will kill you but I can't decide if I want to do it slowly."

The terror of his words leave you reeling in fear, trapping your tongue and rendering you speechless. Still, you try to do something, to prove your worth so that it was never going to be in vain.

"Take this!" You yell, sending a punch his way and already moving to start a fight.

Naturally, Sukuna's power is on another level, but...

Somehow, you are not nearly as weak as he had made you out to be. You are not a lamb readied for slaughter, that was not the path your Mother had sought. You are a fighter, struggling to live in a world that shunned you.

You are [First Name] [Last Name] and it's in this moment that Principal Masamichi's question finally has some plausible answer. Do you know the weight of your name?

"Give him back!" Tears flood your eyes, "Give Itadori back!"

"Didn't know you cared for someone as dense him," Sukuna tuts, hurling another attack your way. "You know, if you are going to fight me, at least use your jujutsu. This is boring."

I would if I could actually control it, you scowl.

In the moment that you needed it the most, it had failed you. The emotions that power your Cursed Energy had withered from the complete and utter exhaustion.

It was like you were a twig on the sidewalk and Sukuna had just snapped you in with a brittle force. He throws you to the side as if kicking a pebble down a hill.

Fushiguro, who was watching your foolish and futile actions unfold, finally decides to release his Shikigami.

"Oh, I see," Sukuna muses, "So your shikigami are created from shadows."

Fushiguro lifts his head slightly, "So what?"

"Hmm," Sukuna rests his chin under his thumb, "I don't get it, though. Why did you run two back then?"

Was he referring to when Itadori called for you and Fushiguro to find Kugisaki and get away?

"What a waste of talent," He scoffs, watching Fushiguro slowly get to his feet. "You're wasting your time. The brat isn't even worth that much."

His words entice a train of thought in Fushiguro and you can see him sifting through his personal memories with sadness; such emotion evokes his Cursed Energy. You watch as a light blue aura appears around his outline, trying to study it so that maybe you can properly conjure it yourself.

"Nice," Sukuna's grimace sends a shiver down your spine, "So this is where you start burning through your life! Show me, Fushiguro Megumi!"

"Sacred treasure swing and ring, ring, Eight Grip..." It was almost as if he was saying a spell but then, towards the end, his aura disappears and fades into the thin air.

The only sound that comes afterwards is the sting of dew dripping down the ends of his sharp, black hair.

In that moment, you get to your feet as well, scurrying over as you listen to Fushiguro speak from his heart to Itadori.


You have so many words you want to say to him but if you tried to hurl them all at once it would just kill you in the process. In the little time you have known him, he had grown on you as if a new-found friend.

"Y - Yuuji," You whisper and such a quiet voice leaves your injured mouth. "You always felt so far away but I don't want to lose you now. I wanted to follow you on this journey ever since high school. I - I want you to know that you really did help people..."

Fushiguro holds your hand tightly, a small warmth that is kindled over time, "The only thing granted equally to all is an unfair reality. I'm not a hero. I'm just a jujutsu sorcerer. So, I've never once regretted saving you. We'll save you over and over again."

He lowers his hands, lacking the tepid, burning gaze he normally pertained. Instead, what replaces the ivory of his face is a sad smile which is coupled with yours.

The black marks on Sukuna's body fade, disappearing deep into the skin. Your knees buckle just watching, because... because...

In a split second, Itadori returns to you.

"I see," He rubs the back of his head casually, "You two are really smart. You put more thought into this than I have."

Seeing him again leaves you breathless, especially since mere hours ago he was spilling blood out of an amputated wrist.

As he says this, blood starts falling from the hole in his chest. You press your hand against it gently, feeling overwhelming agony and pain. The warmth of his lifeline slowly slipping away in your grip was steady and upsetting.

Itadori looks down calmly, "Oh, sorry. Guess I won't have to worry about you guys or Kugisaki and Gojo-sensei."

"No..." You gasp, stomach lurching at the realisation dawning on you. "Itadori, no! Please... no... n - no..."

Your hands tremble when you hold his, watching him fall to the ground.

"Live a long life," He murmurs quietly, breath strained in his last words.

When his body falls, Fushiguro has to pry you off him; the two of you lift your heads to great the battling rain. The water is vicious as it attacks the two of you, a relentless outpour of the heavens' fury. You like to think it is the tears of the angels tucked away behind blankets of grey, moved by what had just happened.

Itadori Yuuji is dead. You know what to do now.


Chapter Text

Masamichi Yaga was waiting for you — he knew you would come at the crack of dawn, and you did. You had steadied yourself before the mirror, looking back at someone else with an unwaveringly sad reflection. You had walked without meaning over to his office, the rubber soles of your converses scraping the sharp rocks. You had broken yourself, with the tosses and turns of a sleepless night, your room next to his, knowing it was empty. The events of that night paralyse you like God's fist hurling a lightning strike at the carapace of your body.

Even now, as you stand before the principal, legs shaking, he can see in your eyes just how lost your soul is. You wade through thick mists clouding your happiness and fight against the tide of the River Styx, desperately seeking rebirth from the trauma of yesterday. Moonlight sticks to the web of your palms as you chase after the night sky, wandering the depths of the universe like a lonely, loveless child. They say eyes are the windows to the soul and the more Masamichi stares at the dull orbs of yours, he realises they are steeped in acetone, polished with the wit of a saddened angel. Cradled and tethered to the temptation of death, you had mercilessly succumbed to it, lacking the potent strength needed to overcome it.

Itadori Yuuji's death had, quite simply put, broken you.

Your hands haven't stopped shaking since yesterday, trembling fingertips turned cold from the lack of his tepid warmth and shimmering brown eyes. Sukuna's power that slithered across your neck like a noose around your throat, crushing your lungs and even hours later, you still can't breathe without feeling bits of them. Itadori... and Sukuna... Two sides of a coin that viciously flashes and flips in the blink of an eye, bending the laws of nature.

Masamichi is stitching together the back of one of his dolls, his wit sharpened by the thin fragility of the needle. He doesn't need to look up to know you are there before him, legs buckling and backpack full of the little you could call your own.

"[Last Name], [First Name]," He begins stoically, unfazed by the way the tapestry of your persona unfurls and unwinds from misery. Finally, he looks up, a dark expression etched onto the outline of his face, like ink sinking into the purity of paper.

You lower your head, unable to meet his eyes, craving a bullet to your head, "I'm withdrawing from Jujutsu Tech."

Withdrawing, Masamichi thinks, lips curling bitterly at that word. He had underestimated the potency of your weaknesses, how they devoured you in this dark world, a world he had dropped you mindlessly into when he accepted you into this school.

"Taking it all back? Why?"

He knew why, of course; Itadori's death invoked the wrath of the heavens with the sorrow echoed out in the universe from when his body fell. Masamichi cast the doll to the side, hands folding over each other as he looks you.

You bite your lip nervously, "I'm not cut out for this. I did nothing... nothing... if I was better, if I was strong, I could have saved him."

"You desired this in the first place," Masamichi pushed further, knowing he could not afford to lose someone as intrepidly special as you — your skill set, your ancestry, your power... "Saving people because you couldn't save your mother."

The mention of your mother makes your hands ball into fists, "She died because of how horrible this world is."

Unperturbed by your stirring anger, Masamichi continues, "I don't need you to repeat the same words I told you in this room weeks ago. This world is the devil's world. People die every day, [L/n]."

"He wasn't supposed to die!" You blurt out, frustration creeping into your tone. "I can't do this... I can't watch everyone I know and care about to slip through my fingers like f*cking sand."

Masamichi's hands join to form a steeple, "Do you know why I accepted you into this school?"

When you don't answer, just letting a tear trickle down the side of your cheek silently, he expands, "You are stronger than you think. You looked at Death in the eye, stared into the pit of this terrible world and you still continued to live. You know that people die every day but your past tries to tear down everything you have built. Do you know who you are, [L/n]?"

"Who...I am? My father's a drunk... My mother was killed by a curse... I am a descendant of an old jujutsu clan—"

"No," Masamichi narrows his eyes, cutting off your warbles, "You are just human. You want to walk away from all of this, as if doing that will make all of it go away like a bad dream. You think that quitting will bring Itadori back? You wish—"

You press your eyes shut, almost starting to cry, "Of course it's not going to bring him back! I know that! I don't deserve to stand there, to act like I could avenge him when I did nothing to save him back there!"

"Then," Masamichi purses his lips, a steady but unforgiving gaze seeping into your soul, "How are you going to live?"

You can already picture it, walking down the long and winding roads into the pale light, stepping off reality and onto the cobbled pathway outside your house. The sky is bright again, too bright and too luminous, yellow muddled with blinding white. Dust is gathering on all the rooms, a callous coldness dampening the air. The kitchen is empty and there's a pile of dishes trapped in the sink, filling it to a brim. A television buzzes in the background, a light noise that comes from upstairs. You will creep past crumpled cans of beer and hold your breath against the smell of alcohol and crawl up the stairs to avoid making a sound because you can hear glasses smashing behind closed doors. The world becomes smaller when you hurry into your room and look at the mess staring back at you.

The world doesn't change, not even if it loses someone, someone like him — Itadori.

Catching your breath, you look up, lips trembling and eyes threatening to spill a mirage of tears, "I... I don't... want to live like that again."

"Your father is angry, I presume," Masamichi says strenuously, although there's a light calmness hiding in his tone somewhere. "I had Satoru — Gojo-sensei — speak to him about your admission here. He was not pleased needless to say; He doesn't want you to follow the same path as your mother."

Finally, his words incite something and you fall to your knees, nails digging into the wood on the floor, "I just want to be more than what life gave me... I don't want my mother to die in vain... for her to be forgotten and overlooked like some roadside flower, a pebble on the beach. I have this power and I don't deserve it... not one bit. Someone as spineless as me should be wasting away back home."

"But..." Masamichi arches an eyebrow, feeling the change of tone in your voice.

"I'm selfish," You whisper, starting to sob on the floor, feeling your skin watered by the plentiful tears, "I don't want to die. I don't want to be useless."

Masamichi looks down unsympathetically at you, a crying girl releasing the build up of pressure that cracks your skull, "I never said you were useless. You are only blinded by your past and your actions. I accepted you not for what you are right now but for who you will become."

You lightly nod, wiping away your tears, "I don't want to let you down, or anyone else. I don't want to let Itadori down... I can't... I followed him into this world... away from everything else I've known just for him."

Masamichi finally exhales, reaching a verdict, "Now you know not to make the wrong choice. Know your worth, [L/n]. This won't be the last time for tears and worries, but I am sure you will look up the same to the future."

He turns and pulls out a thin envelope, coated with a stunning velvety purple, a beautiful and formal material. You scramble to your feet, ignoring the reddening bruise on your knees or the dried tears staining your features; Masamichi hands it to you, "I need you to deliver this to Gojo-sensei in the morgue. I want you to understand the depth of this world, [L/n]. You are more involved than you think, and leaving will just destroy you."

You gulp, the morgue.

Still, you take the envelope and cradle it in your palm, hurrying out of the office, crisp air returning to your lung alongside the chirping birds and more. As you sprint down the narrow pathways, skin recoiling at the flecking of blood on your cheeks from how cold it is, a memory of your mother rushes to the brim of your twitching mind.

She's tucking you into bed again, a blanket cosily wrapping you in her warmth. The features of her face are blurred and hard to make out but, they feel familiar and lovely to look at. She presses a kiss onto your forehead, a low whisper filling the air, "You will have to make your own way in this nightmare, [F/n]. All you need is for someone to hold your hand in one, and your heart in another."


Gojo-sensei is back, you think breathlessly, remembering how he had to leave for a trip day or two ago. He had slipped in unannounced for sure, because you weren't even aware. Your knuckles press against the door and a rapping noise is made; a second later, you enter.

The outline of your figure is still shaking from the morning conversation but you make effort to let it go undetected as you step into the room.

The sheen of white along tiled walls and silver cabinets stuffed with cadavers make the room an effortless cold; chills spiral down your spine as you gaze around.

Gojo-sensei was sitting on one of the benches, facing Ijichi-san, who looks ghastly pale as if the events of yesterday took a toll on him.

You remember his words now, they come crawling back to you. If you encounter it, your choices are to run or die.

That's how it is, huh? Because you ran and Itadori didn't and you can tell that the body covered by a thick sheet on the table in the corner is him. You don't even want to look; you can't look. If you look, you accept his death, that the memory of that boy, your friend, is no more than a pile of bones and empty lungs.

Ijichi has his hands folded over each other, head lowered, "I warned them that fighting was absolutely not an option."

Silence. You wonder if they even heard you come in. It's just like back at the Occult Club; do you have a talent for sneaking in undetected? Or maybe... part of your jujutsu involved stealth.

Blinking, you listen carefully.

"It was intentional," Gojo says suddenly. His words stir confusion on Ijichi's face.

"Huh? What do you mean?"

Gojo scratches the back of his white hair, "There was a special-grade. Sending first-year to rescue five who may or may not be alive people should be out of the question."

That's true, you purse your lips, wondering who allowed it. Did Principal Masamichi want that? For you to truly understand the nature of this cruel world?

"Besides, with Yuuji," He lowers his hand, "I was the one who forced the issue and got his execution indefinitely suspended. Some higher-ups who didn't like that took advantage of my absence and the special-grade to tactfully dispose of him."

Ijichi covers his mouth with a shaking hand, startled by what Gojo was saying.

"If the other three had also died, it'd be more harassment for me and two birds with one stone for them."

His words make you stumble and your elbow clashes with the metal door painfully. Tactfully...dispose...of...him...

Heads turn and Gojo looks at you. Despite his blindfold, you can read his solemn expression. You can feel his eyes linger on your puffy eyes and dried tears, and your wobbly legs because suddenly the burden on your shoulders is 10x bigger.

"I...Gojo-sensei," You stagger towards him, shakily handing him the envelope and trying to keep your eyes on him and not that body in the corner which yearns to be alive again. "Pri — Principal Masamichi asked me to gi — give this to you."

He takes it gently from your hand, "Thank you, [F/n]." He can tell you had been crying all night; you are an open book, too easy to read.

You turn, starting to walk away but Gojo's lips move quicker than you anticipate.

"Stay," He hums, not looking in your direction, "You shouldn't be alone right now."

So, you stay, with him and Ijichi and Itadori. The truth silently sinks in as you listen to the conversation. As they speak, you fix your eyes on the ground, which as uninteresting as it was with the specks of dust and dirt, was a better sight than the pale corpse beneath sheets.

"No one expected it to become a special-grade by the time the dispatch was issued," Ijichi frantically wavers his hands about.

Gojo sighs, gesturing for you to sit next to him and you do, "Searching for someone to blame is just a pain."

You bite your lip, thinking about all the blame you put on yourself. Years of trauma tightening God's noose around your neck.

"Maybe I should just..." Gojo laments unsteadily and you can see something dark unfolding on his expression, "kill all of the higher ups."

"Wh - What?!" You catch your breath, choking out something after a gasp — you most certainly weren't expecting that.

You don't even know who these higher ups are but judging from the conversation, they warrant caution.

At that moment, the door to the room opens and a woman steps in, cream-coloured heels clicking against the tiled floor. You spin to see her, caught up in her elegance.

"You're not usually this emotional," She notes blankly, hands in her white lab coat, referring to Gojo-sensei.

Ijichi immediately bows, hands by side. "It's good to see you, Ieiri-san!" He greets her loudly and anxiously.

Gojo remains slouched and you fiddle with your fingers nervously, admiring her from a distance. She had a delicate eloquence to the features of her face, which curtail the beauty endowed by a thousand gods. Doleful eyes with a stirring and warming brown were paired with her long and calming hair of the same colour. Beneath her right eye was marked a beauty spot, fragile and beautiful and somehow perfect.

"Looks to me," She says, and her voice reminds you of tulip fields cushioning fairies and honey dripping from a waterfall slowly. "Like you've taken quite a liking to him. And her," She adds, twirling her hair calmly as she looks at you. "Given she is here right now."

"I've always been a nice guy who cares for my students," Gojo remarks.

The woman replies smoothly, like they are old friends, "Don't torment Ijichi too much. He's got it rough, stuck between us and the higher-ups."

You find a small smile making it's way to your lips just watching how love-struck Ijichi has become.

"I don't care about a man's hardships," Gojo rolls his eyes — well, you imagine him to roll his eyes.

Ieiri walks over to the table and pulls off the sheet suddenly, making you writhe uncomfortably. She remains unperturbed, so calm in the wake of death. "So this is Sukuna's vessel, huh? I can take him apart as I please, right?"

Her words make you clench the edge of the bench tightly. The idea of picking apart a corpse? It's already bad that they are dead! You remember your father refusing to let Mother's body be sent to the coroner, the anger on his face invoked fear in you.

"Make sure to get good use out of him," Gojo replies.

You lean over to Gojo, "Sensei," You croak, realising your voice is still hoarse from crying, "Who is she?"

"Shouko Ieiri," He says and the three of you watch as Ieiri moves around and gets things ready.

Suddenly, a thought pierces your head. Don't look inside me without permission... I hate it.

It rattles inside you, tearing you apart from within, and you can feel the world start to blur.

Gojo frowns, holding your shoulders, "[F/n]?"

You look around, starting to see your sight fracture into two. The morgue and a bloody underground, a ribcage defining the walls and ceiling.

"You're being awfully hostile, brat," You blurt and quickly cover your mouth, staring to shake as the vision fold over each other.

Gojo's lips thin, "You're being forced into Sukuna's Innate Domain."

"I can hear...something..." You whimper, listening to Sukuna's voice in your head and feeling his power burn agonisingly in your veins. "Itadori just punched Sukuna!"

Ijichi's eyes widen, "What?"

And then, you see it. We'll fight to the death, and if you win, I'll do it without conditions. If I win, you come back to life under my conditions. Sukuna had said devilishly. And then, very faintly, you had heard Itadori's voice. It was brimming with confidence and his typical, brash recklessness. Sure, I'll beat you to—

And then his head was sliced off. Just like that. Gone. Sukuna's power was infatuating. Was that an odd nightmare occurring in the stir of day? Did your mind want to torment you more than you were already burdened with?

For a split second, total blackness engulfs your vision before you return to reality. The kind of spitting ebony that Thanatos wades through at the Doors of Death.

"You know," Gojo says suddenly, "I have a bad personality."

"I know," Ijichi remarks.

Gojo points his finger, "Ijichi, expect a hard forehead flick later."

If Gojo was trying to cheer you up, especially after the longevity of this despairing day, it had certainly worked. You stifle a light laugh at his antics.

"Being a teacher isn't my style," Gojo folds his arms and crosses his legs over, "Do you know why I decided to teach at this school?"

No one says anything.

"Ask me!" He wails.

You purse your lips, "Why did you?"

"Because I have a dream," He replies, "As you can see in this case with Yuuji, the top of the jujutsu world is a den of vice. Conservative fools. Traditional fools. Arrogant fools."

"Just plain fools," You add, thinking about the world right now.

"Yup," Gojo nods, "It's a bargain sale on rotten mikan. I want to reset that garbage jujutsu world."

He puts his hands in a steeple, swooning in meticulous thought, "Murdering everyone at the top would be an easy task. But they would just get replaced. It wouldn't bring a revolution. And if I did that, no one would follow me."

I'd follow you, you chirp. He's put a lot of thought into this which surprises you.

Gojo was made up of so many secrets that maybe he was never real at all.

"That's why I chose education," He says dreamily, "To raise up strong, clever comrades. That's why I occasionally tossed my missions to my students. It's tough love."

You stifle a laugh, are you sure you don't just want to slack off?

"You're talented, [F/n]," He turns to look at you, "You and Yuuji could become jujutsu sorcerers on par with me."

Before he can say anything else, Ieiri calls over, having put on her gloves and her mask. "Hey, you guys," She says idly, "Are you gonna sit there and watch or—"

As she says this, the body behind her suddenly sits up on it's own and Itadori's toned chest is revealed, alongside his bemused expression. "Whoa, I'm completely naked!"

So, Itadori Yuuji was dead — now he's... alive.

It's no surprise that a split second later, you pass out from the overwhelming shock.


Chapter Text

Your dorm is illuminated by the dimming sunshine sifting through closed curtains, a shroud of darkness that reminds one of the lacking shadow behind a burning flame. It was a heavy blackness, but that did not give it the semblance of an omen as you had expected it to but a meandering warmth as you slept away in the comfort of your bed.

After you had fainted, Gojo-sensei had Ijichi-san carry you back to your dorm, cackling at how his co-worker was slaving away. Hours trickled by slowly but soon you awake to an unknown sound.

Someone's voice pierces the painful headache you have been burdened with, making your impenetrably heavy eyelids open a little.

"Oh, [L/n]-kun!"

You turn to the side, shrugging it off, because it sounded too playful. It felt muffled as you listened, having blocked out so many things in your head.

They don't relent, "Pst! [L/n]! I have a surprise!"

Your eyelids flutter much like a dazed, iridescent butterfly, hues of [eye colour] swivelling and fixing on the figure on top of you in bed.

"Itadori?!" Your eyes widen, and you scramble, feeling your back pressed against the wall.

Itadori stares back at you and it leaves you chasing the clouds for breaths. Ivory flecks his face with warmth and a hint of fresh air, as if ichor pulses through his veins from the vibrant smile he gives you. He is no longer a simply memory silhouetted tightly to your soul, as if he can finally breathe again. He's no longer a ghost smiling away in dead ends of the labyrinthine mind.

Your heart skips a beat — did you miss him more than most? He felt like the moon melting to fill your hollow heart with silver, a metaphorical mercury poisoning; maybe love was poison after all. As you look at him, you know it's not love because that word is too big and heavy for the little rushes of adrenaline. Even though your cheeks burn whenever he looks your way, or you smile back at him when you watch those lips tug upwards, this was just a crush. And, just as the name suggests, maybe this emotion will eventually come to destroy you.

"Surprise!" He grins, a thin-lipped smile that covers the width of his face. "Gojo-sensei told me you fainted but I hope you're feeling better."

You suddenly take his hand, struggling to contain your burst of tears upon realising he was alive. A thin aura outlines your figure as you feel the weight of his cursed bones and the blood singing hymns as it moves across his body.

"Me?! I'm more concerned about you!" You splutter, rendered speechless and how close he was to you. "You died!"

You had admired his lips from far, like how he bit them when deep in thought or chewed on the end of his pencil during class. Those lips were inches away from yours and they are steeped in acetone, polished to a brim and perfected every possible shade of diluted pink.

"It feels good to be back," He smiles, lifting his hand for a high-five and you do the same.

His touch isn't devoid, as if you were looking at a corpse — it's brimming with fiery humbled, confidence. It made you think that death was biting at his heels from the shadows, curled up and struggling to strangle the life out of the carefree teenager before you. Itadori's perseverance was unlike no other, strengthened by a promise to a dead loved one.

Itadori moves so you can swing your legs to the side, "You know, I wasn't really dead. Right before I died, I still heard everything."

You press your eyes shut momentarily, caught up in that memory like you were a fly and Sukuna was the spider. "You said... You said to 'live a long life.'"

Lowering your head in shame, your fingers curl around your blanket, "I'm so sorry, Yuuji. I'm so sorry."

"Hey," Itadori shuffles closer, speaking in a soft voice, "Look at me. Please don't cry. I'm the one who should be sorry because you took my death really hard."

You do as he says and look at him; his gaze is as gentle as autumn rain. "I didn't save you..." Bitter sadness chokes you as you lift your hands and press your fingertips lightly against his chest, feeling the soft material of his shirt and then the bones resting behind his skin. His heart feels warm with the curled up sorrow of someone who struggles to live truthfully and you can imagine the hollow space that was left there when that vicious image of Sukuna pulling out his heart appears.

That wound seems imaginary when you feel the thinned out gildess of his ribs, the wishing bones tucked away beneath and suddenly he's reanimated like nothing was ever wrong. As if the images of his falling corpse, his dead smile and even deader eyes are all fake like the plastic petals on the flowers in the shops. But really, as your eyes linger on him, soaked in the curve of his jaw and the honey-dripping skin, he is as real as everything you have ever known.

He lifts your head with his fingers, blinking, "You fought bravely, better than I ever could. Besides," Itadori sighs dreamily, gazing out of the window, "We have the whole world to conquer and learn about. We're not at our limit yet; this is just the beginning."

"Mm," You sigh alongside him, finding solace in the ensuing silence.

Itadori perks up, "Oh, I just remembered! We have to hurry. Gojo-sensei wants to meet us at my new dorm."

He takes your hand and smiles brightly so you trail him out of your room and down cobbled pathways and secret doors all the way to this neverland that you are stumbling into, thinking about how badly you wanted him to be alive. Your eyes glaze over, wandering across the star-strewn universe, because he was right; this is just the beginning.

You wanted to let go of the pain
Even though it was the last thing
That you felt alive from him.


The room felt damp with cold air, as if it was left unused for so long it had lost its coveted sentience and warmth. Tiles of brown wood form the floor, smooth and classy, presenting a living space you somewhat adored.

"You're a head above the rest when it comes to close combat, Yuuji," Gojo explains, holding up a finger. "So right now what you need to learn is how to control cursed energy as well as the bare minimum of jujutsu knowledge."

He turns and faces you, "You also need this, [F/n], because whether you like it or not, the higher ups won't grow fond of your power. With some help, you might even get on par with my level."

Both you and Itadori are beaming, smiling wildly like you are little kids all over again. "What's the matter?" Gojo deadpans, watching his two students jump up and down with giddy smirks.

"Oh, we figured you'd be the best person to train us, so we're just happy," You reply, your smile unwavering.

Itadori lowers his head, giving a serious response, "I'm weak... I wasn't able to help my friends. Worse, I almost got Fushiguro killed. I want to become strong... so..." He suddenly takes your hand and you bow with him, "Teach us to be the strongest!"

Gojo is silent for a moment, as if stewing something over in that unpickable mind of his. He laughs a little, which was understandable given his position as the strongest shaman alive. "You've got a keen eye," He grins.

"Sensei, you're the one who called yourself the strongest," You blank, tilting your head.

As if wanting to change the topic, Gojo directs your attention to the cans on the stand to your left. They look like they have been gathered from the local shop, sweet drinks, fizzy drinks and ginger beer and more.

"All right," Gojo points to them, "First, take a look at those drink cans over there."

You do as he says and look, eyes widening at what unfolds moments later. The cans twist and turn in an instant, metal caving in as if from an invisible punch. The liquid spills and the item falls over with a sound.

It happens so quickly you don't even have time to register it. Your eyes narrow, I have to increase my response time. I can't fall behind.

"Woah," Both you and Itadori gasp in awe, listening to Gojo further his explanation.

"This is with cursed energy," He points to the first can, which was caved in by a punch, "And this one was with a cursed technique."

Itadori suddenly puts on a Bodhisattva expression, pondering deep in thought as he exercised his brain for the answers. "I see..." He murmurs and then blanks rather humorously, "I don't get it."

"Oh..." You blink, taking a step forward and leaning in to admire the damage done to the cans. "Fushiguro explained some parts of it to me. Cursed energy is like electricity and cursed techniques are like appliances."

Gojo nods brightly, ruffling your hair at your contribution, "Electricity by itself is hard to use, right? That's why we run electricity through appliances to achieve various results."

His explanation was surprisingly accurate and simple — no wonder he chose to be a teacher.

"This one was fire with pure cursed energy," You point to the green can, and then to the yellow one, "And in this one... you channelled cursed energy into a cursed technique?"

"Yup! I did it in order to activate the cursed technique and twist the can with jujutsu."

Itadori looks like a lightbulb just turned on inside his head, a comical neologism for his sudden thought. "In other words, we're about to learn a very, very good cursed technique?!"

Gojo shuts down his enthusiasm almost instantly, "No, you can't use cursed techniques."

"Huh?!" Itadori looks like he's been stabbed and you pat his shoulder with a stifling laugh.

"Setting aside simple shikigami and barriers, cursed techniques are fundamentally etched into your body from the day you're born," He explains, hand on heart. "So the power of a jujutsu sorcerer is roughly 80% innate talent."

You inhale, meekly responding, "Do I have a Cursed Technique, Sensei?"

Gojo remains as still as a statue, hard to define and capturing the wittering of his thoughts is practically impossible given his blindfold. Eyes really are the windows into the soul, huh.

"Your lineage ensures you have one," He says blankly, "But, because I don't know what it is, and nor do you, it would be impossible to tame or learn it now."

Itadori deflates like a trampled balloon, laying on the ground as white as a sheet.

"You okay?" You arch an eyebrow at his antics.

"I just thought I'd be able to pull off thunder or fire or a power bomb or something." Itadori waves his arms around, "This sucks..." He goes on to lament about his sadness but you don't quite understand.

After all, he can't use them... yet. Surely whatever cursed techniques Sukuna employs will be engraved onto his body.

"Let's just ignore what you can't do!" Gojo beams, "We're going to enhance both of your strengths. We'll get you to imbue your fighting style with cursed energy."

Itadori suddenly sits up, "Hey, I can already do it! I did it once back there... when I was fighting that special-grade."

Gojo smirks, and you tell from his stance that he's reeking of confidence. "Alright," He lifts his hand and spreads his fingers, palms facing you and Itadori. "Hit me here."

"Not that you actually can," He adds, coolly.

Itadori starts warming up his arm muscles, equally cool, "Don't blame me if you get hurt."

You stand back calmly, interested in what was going to happen. You hadn't see what Gojo could do yet, just heard from others that he is implicitly fast, and was reputedly the strongest jujutsu sorcerer out there.

Then again, your mind flashes back to Itadori against your P.E coach. Itadori was a contender too...right?

"Just hurry up and do it," Gojo teases.

Itadori prepares a punch and to your surprise, it lands on Gojo's palm, but his arm doesn't waver despite the strength behind the blow.

"That didn't have any cursed energy behind it, right?'" You note, observing how Itadori was lacking the outline of that powerful, effervescent aura you normally saw.

"How?!" He roars, quite surprised.

Gojo seems quite calm, as if keep a cool head was just another of his strong suits. "Negative emotions are the source of cursed energy. In the incident you're referring to, you were probably brimming with anger and fear."

You frown, "You have to be constantly flipping out to used cursed energy?!" No wonder then on the occasions you were using it that you felt like your skull was gonna explode.

"Now that you mention it," Itadori adds, chiming in, "Fushiguro's always a bit snappy."

Gojo shooes away that idea, "Not like that. Everyone's trained to produce cursed energy using the faintest sparks of emotion. They are also trained on how to note waste cursed energy when emotions are flaring, too."

"There are several methods to train this," He grins, thinking about whatever gruelling and hard course he was going to put you on. "I'll be having you two use a pretty exhausting one."

You shiver, imagining Gojo sitting on a park bench and crowing over you and Itadori climbing trees and running laps, sweat trickling furiously down your brow. "L — Like what?"

To your surprise, however, he holds up a bunch of DVDs with colourful posters adorned on the front, "Watching movies."

"Watching movies?" Itadori has an identical stupefied expression to yours.

"Yup," In the blink of an eye, Gojo has them set on the coffee table and you turn, observing the flat screen television and the sofa. "Everything from masterpieces to C-grade horror films and terrible French movies. You'll be watching them nonstop as long as you're awake."

Sorry, what?! The last bit throws you off guard - you prioritise your 12 hours of sleep more than most things.

"Of course, you won't just be watching them," Gojo smirks, pulling out two cursed dolls and you stumble, realising that one of them was the same one Principal Masamichi was stitching together when you had gone to see him. "You'll be watching them with these guys! Say hello to your new best friend!"

You look like you just tasted something, "I already had a best friend and she doesn't wear boxing gloves."

Itadori tilts his head, "What's with the cute but creepy dolls?"

Gojo looks back at it, and you and him say something in unison, "It's cute?"

He hands a doll to each of you, "They are cursed corpses that the principal made."

"Mm, it does have his sense," You note, watching Itadori play around with his doll, "Still, I don't understand what you're getting at here."

"Don't be hasty now," Gojo sticks both of his hands back into his pocket, "You'll see soon."

As he says this, you turn and see Itadori get punched in the face by his doll. Watching it unfold makes you cackle at what happened, and you make sure you don't irk your own doll for a similar fate.

"That cursed doll will wake up and attack you, just like that, if you don't keep pouring a set amount of cursed energy into it," Gojo explains and you have to applaud him for it because it seems like a viable learning technique.

Itadori covers his nose, "Ow!"

"Your first goal is to watch an entire movie," Gojo continues, "From start to finish, without waking the cursed doll. This trains you to maintain a steady output of cursed energy, no matter what emotions you feel."

"That's genius..." You murmur in awe. "We can't use too much or too little."

Gojo picks up a random DVD and moves towards the player beneath the TV, idly chatting while Itadori futily tries to control his doll, "I have it set to the faintest level of cursed energy you can produce right now for you, Yuuji. For [F/n], I'm putting it at a second year level. It will steadily start demanding greater output, so don't let your guard down, the two of you."

Itadori holds the doll away like it's a crying baby, which to some degree you can equate it to, "I couldn't let it down even if I wanted to," He whines, making you faintly smile.

"What do you guys wanna start with?" Gojo grins, "I recommend this one. The heroine's annoying but she dies spectacularly in the end."

"Major spoilers!" You exclaim, but you should have expected it because it's Gojo-sensei after all.

"I say we start off with an action-" Itadori begins cheerfully but his words are cut off by the deafening punch from his cursed doll, which he throws to the ground a second later. "Oh, come on!" He yells as Gojo inputs the DVD quietly.

Gojo brushes the dust off his uniform as soon as the television starts to come alive, "Right! Enjoy your date," He winks, "I'll back when I can. Oh, [F/n], a word outside, please!"

"It's not a date!" Itadori panics even more when you cheekily give him your cursed doll as you dotingly follow Gojo outside.

As soon as the door shuts, the two of you wait until Itadori isn't eavesdropping. Gojo exhales upon hearing his student being punched again, the sound loud enough for everyone to hear.

"Right," He says, and it feels like there is a piercing gaze hidden behind his blindfold, tearing away at the flesh around your heart, "Megumu and Nobara are both training with the second years. I was tempted to send you working with them as well, but... I think we should wait on that."

You look down at your shoes, avoiding him out of disappointment, "They don't know Yu — Itadori is alive," You mumble somewhat incoherently. "I dunno... I don't think I can look either of them in the eye with how I am."

Gojo swings his long arm around your shoulder, pulling you into a much-needed hug, "You'll get there," He hums in his usual carefree tone; still, his words have a deep meaning. "This is just the beginning."

Emotion clings to your tongue so you simply nod, fighting back the tears. If your life was as unsteady as a rollercoaster, you were slowly saving yourself with the handle just in reach of your wobbly fingertips.

"Alright, I have to meet up with the principal, again! Have fun!" Gojo winks and walks away.

He disappears into the distance, almost like he was never here. And you just sigh, looking back at the door, wanting to claw back to the euphoria of your old dreams and your old life, no matter how bitter the polarised sweetness seems from far glances.


"Alright!" You hold up a DVD with a dark cover on the front, "We've watched every single Mission Impossible film so now, my turn. Time for The Ring."

Itadori shivers, clutching his cursed doll even more tightly, "Please no! I can't handle Samara."

"You have a demon king inside your head," You stick out your tongue childishly, "Samara's got nothing on you."

"How about a rom-com?" Itadori pleads — you give in almost instantly. What can you say? His eyes are something to swoon over, like the swaying tulips lined up across a prairie.

The romcom plays on the television, a compilation of coloured pixels fizzling and changing with speed. Your eyes rove over it, absorbed in the storyline but still maintaining a fallible connection to your cursed doll, whose forehead you massage intensely as it slumbers.

"You haven't been hit once this movie," Itadori whispers in awe, looking at you intently, wonder scraping his brown eyes. Silently, you turn and that curiosity in his soul is silenced by the windows opening in yours. Your eyes speak for themselves, unwavering sadness pooled together at the iris, pupil darkening enough to gaze longingly at the past. Your jujutsu may be unstable at most, but that was because controlling it meant reaching out into your memories and hugging them close to you, even if it hurt.

So it did hurt — f*ck, it hurt a lot. That's why your eyes seemed watery under the dim light, illuminating the dying flames of your soul. Mother's death... Father's despair. Fear and love that has never been addressed. Such qualms rotted within you, much like a dying flower no one has the strength to remove.

The more the movie goes on, the most you become aware of Itadori — your knees scraping with him, his low breaths as he follows along. As if he can feel you looking at him, he turns, just at the bit before the inevitable kiss in the movie. The characters' humble themselves quietly with sad music playing in the background, the kind of melody that people sing to feel happy, to feel loved again.

The two of you look at each other, motionless and wordless in your mannerisms. Itadori leans in a little, something short of a grin on his face, and you feel flustered just from how close the two of you are. You're cross-legged next to him and as your knee brushes him you wonder if your heart will fall out of your body.

But before that actually happens, your cursed doll sucker-punches you in the jaw and you are sent flying. Naturally, Itadori descends into a fit of laughter while you start ruthlessly swearing at your rather gleeful doll. But secretly, you thank it, because you don't know what was going to happen there. The image of his lips circulate your thoughts ever so briefly.

"Aw, man," Itadori says after briefly checking your cheek for a bruise, "We missed the kiss scene."

As the movie credits roll, you pick up The Ring movie DVD with a sinister grin, cackling, "But we are not missing this!"

Chapter 11: HALO OF RED

Chapter Text

Gojo-sensei was undoubtedly the most mysterious person you had ever encountered. Shrouded by a thick veil of the unknown, it felt like he was a moment's touch away yet eternally distant at a glance. It feels like your eyes play tricks on you whenever you are in his presence; your cranium is being carved out to hollow the old instincts and give rise to the deities.

His arrival traps your head in a tornado, leaves it spinning at the panging luminous light that blinds you from the sheer velocity of his actions. It happens as quickly as it stops. All you feel in that ear-splitting moment is the hood of one of your many loosely comfortable hoodies being tugged at your hand and suddenly world blurs.

One moment you're watching the saddest scene in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, listening faintly to the snores of your doting cursed doll, who hasn't punched you in the last two hours. And the next? Gojo-sensei's words make your head turn.

"We're heading out on an extra-curricular lesson," He smiles as he looks at you and Itadori. Neither of you have relented yet in your progress, and he seems pleased. "I'm going to teach you about the pinnacle of jujutsu battles, Domain Expansion."

You furrow your eyebrows, "Wha? Sensei?! Where are we going?!"

"Gomen!" He smiles again. You don't know how to feel about that smile anymore; it reminds you of a crowing god and you are just a speck of dirt too poor and meaningless to feel special anymore.

"What the f*ck?!" You exhale, letting the curses fly unguarded out of your dry lips. The colours that unfold across your vision tell you that Gojo-sensei has dragged the two of you outside by the mountains at Jujutsu Tech.

It is grizzled and chalky, like the white-gloss high walls of your mother's hallways where you can still hear your childhood screaming but it doesn't sound happy.

Itadori's struggling clears that clutter burdening your mind in that moment, but only for a split-second; after that, the swell of anxiety that typically peruses your heart returns with a mighty soul.

"Hey, where are we?!" The fellow teenager makes a pouty face and his expression would be humourous were it not for the fact that you, him and Gojo-sensei were hovering an inch over the lake.

Your stomach drops with a gut-wrenching feeling you only ever experience when back in school. Oh how red did your face turn in class when the teacher picked on you and suddenly sixteen years of literacy flies out of your mouth into stutters before you can even think.

You press your eyes shut, feeling overwhelmingly sick. The wave of fear and surprise drenching you feels like it is pulling your heart only to nimbly and painfully stitch it back into the gaping wound. This kind of fear was natural, of course, but it would only steadily deter you from every other thing in the world.

Almost like your fear would leave you detached and reeling in lonesome, a lonely desire pocketed by your loveless past.

Your eyelids flutter as you listen to the water, hues of [eye colour] settling on the crystalline lake which was composed of this ultimately perishable endless stillness. The vastness of the universe is riveted by the undisturbed surface of the lake you were literal centimetres away from being dropped in.

Flailing, arms and limbs hurry to scramble away but Gojo remains comparatively calm. "Were you waiting?" He asks; his tone is riddled with nonchalance you cast your gaze in the same direction he is facing.

It was not in the Atlas-hung skies or the jagged peaks of the nearby mountains. It was on a cursed spirit standing bleakly in the middle of the lake.

Surprisingly, a wave of relief engulfs you, because given this creature's short stature, the lake must be extraordinarily shallow. Such observations relieve you of the irrational fear of drowning.

"They're..." The cursed spirit croaks hoarsely, making your eyes widen in surprise at it's communication skills. "Sukuna's vessel?! A descendant of the [L/n] clan?!"

Your eyes rove over this creature, stomaching the disgust and fear tangled in you just from being in it's presence. As you settle on that singular blinking eye, volcanic crown and bitter navy teeth, you remind yourself that not only is Gojo-sensei here but...

I am not helpless anymore, thoughts pour into your head. I am my own person with my own strength.

So, if this culminates in a fight then so be it. You will drag this cursed spirit to death as if it a lit cigarette spindled at the mercy of your cradling fingers.

"This is Itadori Yuuji-kun," Gojo gestures to Itadori, who wears an adorably confused expression on his dazed features. He then gestures to you, "And this is [L/n] [F/n]-kun. I brought them both to watch."

To watch, you think with an arched eyebrow. Did this cursed spirit make an attempt on Gojo-sensei's life? From the looks of it, it seemed like a special-grade, although his more tepid, ashy features dimmed the petrified reaction one ought to receive.

"Sensei, his head looks like Mt. Fuji," You struggle to stifle a laugh. Your comment leaves Itadori in hysterics and he proceeds to point at him in equal fear and laughter.

Gojo finally relents and drops you and Itadori but to your surprise, you don't crash through the surface of the water as if breaking a bubble. Instead, you press the soles of your sneakers onto the lake and listen to the pitter-patter of dark and stormy skies.

There is something fierce and terrible within you, eligible to burst forth yet you do not dare tell it with words. Instead, you look down at the surface on which you stood, gazing at your own reflection, who holds you with unattainable mercy.

Water has a melancholic and soft soul, unwavering is pursuits of blue. It sings and kisses as you wonder about the infinity that cradled you in the space between you and it.

Itadori runs around in a circle, "Why aren't we sinking?!"

You turn, confusion sprawled all over your face. "Sensei, we were at the school just ten seconds ago, right? What's going on?"

"Oh, we warped here," He replies idly. As if that four-lettered sentence is enough to describe the journey.

He has no intention of explaining, you sigh with an irked expression at your teacher's antics.

"What are the brats for?" The cursed spirit scowls. You had almost forgotten he was present given just how silent he was being. You can spot light and dark bruises splashed all over his moonlight-coloured skin - Gojo-sensei must have attacked back. "A shield?"

"Shields?" Gojo-sensei's lips curl fruitfully, "No, no. I told you, they're here to watch."

A shield, you narrow your eyes, struggling to infer from that. If you were a shield... then this cursed spirit was trying to kill Gojo-sensei... and maybe... he wants you and Itadori as well but not to kill...for something else.

"I'm in the middle of teaching these two lots of things," He beams, "Don't worry about them. Just keep fighting."

A large smile unfolds on the thin-lipped spirit, arms hanging by it's side with a slouched yet somewhat arrogant demeanour. It gives the sense you are watching a spirit who was shrouded by potential yet lacked the humility to achieve it.

"Bringing in people who will slow you down just makes you a fool," He grins maliciously.

His threats and insults are no more than small rocks on the side of a long, winding road. Gojo-sensei laughs; it's a degrading kind of laugh, something you equally expect and don't expect of him. "I'll be fine! Besides... you're weak."

Hearing that makes you surprised. Weak. A term spun in the web of your thoughts to the point where the word lost it's original meaning and become something devouring.

His remark earns the response you expect from the cursed spirit; it's ego is damaged. Streams of hot lava erupt from head, dripping with colourful hearth. You watch on, starting to become less and less scared. Maybe you really can do it. Become someone strong.

Because this cursed spirit reminds you of goading bullies and arrogant misers hunting for fool's gold without realising it is their own. He is somehow weak in your eyes, all over again. He is reminiscent of an old, swollen piece of fruit about to split open with wet rot.

"Don't underestimate me, brat!" He roars, voice carrying emotion. "I'm going to enjoy swallowing that smug face of yours!"

A wave of hot air steams over the lake and energy pulses in waves over you. This guy is weak, you think. And even though he seemed more monstrous than any other monster you had ever encountered, you have to remind yourself that he is weak.

You feel Gojo patting your head, "You'll be fine," He says with that typical slick grin, almost like a promise. "Just stay close to me, the two of you."

"Domain Expansion!" The cursed spirit yells out and almost instantly, ebony infects the surroundings and dome of black shrouds hou. You do as Gojo-sensei says and feel your flailing arms brush his pocketed elbows in panic.

The ground rumbles and cracks, lava appearing from every crevice, almost like it is slipping through the cracks. The heat makes your skin itchy and red but you try to remain calm, knowing that this had to be what Gojo-sensei was going to teach you about.

"Wh - What is this?!" Itadori swivels around, half-terrified.

You exhale shakily, tugging on Gojo's black uniform, "This is Domain Expansion, right?"

Gojo nods; it entrances you how calm he remains, especially since you are now watching Itadori scream as he flecks away some bits of lava. "You use cursed energy to construct an Innate Domain imbued with a cursed technique in your surroundings."

As he speaks, you pat down Itadori's hoodie with a small smile, listening to him wail "Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot!"

"What you all experienced at the juvenile detention centre was an incomplete Domain that hadn't been imbued with any curser techniques. If that had been a proper Domain, all of you first-years would have died."

Amazing, you gulp, thinking about back then. Maybe, Fushiguro understood that... He was the one who knew that we couldn't fight.

"Spreading out a Domain consumes a ton of energy but the merits are worth the cost," Gojo-sensei explains, "One such benefit is the boost to stats due to environmental factors."

You listen patiently, somehow riveted and paying attention to your teacher's words more than you ever did back in school. "Mmm, like buffs in video games!" And Itadori nods, eyes widened like a happy child at your analogy.

"Another one is..." He says and suddenly you turn, realising you had been so engulfed in his lesson that you didn't realise that a rock had been thrown at you. It is inches from your face but it crumples. "... that the techniques imbued in the Domain are guaranteed to hit within the domain," Gojo explains, steam drying off his shoulder.

"Guaranteed?!" Your voice goes up by an octave or two.

"Guaranteed," Gojo mimicks you, "But don't worry. There are several ways to deal with it. You can take the hit using a cursed technique, like just now, or ... I don't really reccomend this one but you can go outside the Domain. That's usually impossible."

The cursed spirit seems more displeased than ever and it's lack of actions have fully dissipated any initial fears you held towards it. "If I neutralise that Infinity of yours with a dense Domain, then my techniques will reach you."

"Yeah," Gojo shrugs, "They'll hit."

He raises his hand, ruffling your hair as if to make sure you are still paying attention, "The most effective way to deal with a Domain is to lay out your own Domain."

And then, to your surprise, you watch as his hands reach for his blindfold. "When two Domains are laid out at the same time, the more refined one will dominate that space."

Slowly, the material slips as if he is teasing his students, who have no clue truly how much power he holds as a shaman. "Though, sometimes, compatibility and the amount of cursed energy are factors."

"I won't even let there be any ashes left of you, Gojo Satoru!" The spirit screams, making everything in his domain fly up into the air and storm towards the three of you instantly.

But in that moment, you didn't need to be scared. The only thing you felt... was tranquility. Your anxiety was removed blissfully by the nimble fingers of a devote angel.

"Domain Expansion: Infinite Void," You hear Gojo-sensei's words behind you. You wonder if you should turn around and look at him, but your eyes are fixed on the impending wave of mass destruction paralysed in the gaunt air before you.

In that moment, the world truly falls away. It reminds you of when the angels came after Mother died, tucking you into sleep. The angels came too late, feathers crawling with mite and eyes as flat as snakes. The scent of nostalgia lingered in their skin. You were promised altars and arks, but you were not surprised as a child when their throats are torn open, revealed to be hollow.

This is different. The ascending light is something else when it graces your skin. There is fear. There is sorrow. There is a mess of sins and hosts of terror eating at your soul. It tells you that you are always dreaming, even if you are awake; it is never finished.

The world smelled like roses and the blinding luminosity felt like powdered gold sprinkling tightly over swathes of alabaster clouds. Spinning white and eternal grace and suddenly the sounds of nature are intrusive. Your mind is pickled and rotting away at this ethereal plane, constantly changing and trapped by the beauty of Infinity.

You thought you couldn't see or feel anything, as if god was buried six feet beneath and crawled out from the grave to dig his nails in your ochre skin. But you can feel, you can see...

The information is never complete. Although it is not in the way of a jigsaw puzzle lacking it's respective pieces, empty and absent and a void licked by prodigal man and flames of serpentine tongues. It was like the middle of a whirlpool, being lost yet being found and having every thought you ever thought to hum a lullaby in your head again and again and again.

You feel at peace but your body is at war, like a ghost dragging around shackles. It is limitless but you are limited; it strikes you heavy like a hammer over your head. It is not Gojo's effortless ability that qualms and inhibits you any more. For you don't feel like you have been webbed into his world like the others.

Instead, it shocks you.

Because... instinct tells you that you have the power to snap every thread and every silver lining. Instinct is confident and it scares you. Because instinct reminds you a lot of Sukuna and Mother.

"This is the inner world of Limitless," Gojo says and you look at him with a devote carapace, donating every ounce of attention.

He looks different and such an appearance murders you in your mind. The features of not an angel, with that hair as blissfully pure as that, but a god. He was a god. An image of power circles his iris, tendrils of crystalline blue tangled and shimmering. They were not eyes, you had decided. They were the thrones that angels throated, the wings of God's skeletons and the secretive gaze into prodigal souls.

It stuns you, all in one moment, like you have been shot. A wound that stitches itself back together only to rip apart again at such poignant agony. You remain silent, lips glued together much like Itadori's.

"Perception, communication..." Gojo drawls and it's Gojo-sensei's voice but you find your eyes betray you with most things. "Every action involved in living is forcibly carried out an infinite number of times."

He grabs the cursed spirit by the head, almost enjoying it. "It's ironic, isn't it? When granted everything, you can't do anything but just die peacefully. But I have questions I want to ask you so I'm letting you off the hook with this."

And then, suddenly and violently, yet the horrors dim enough for beauty to arise, he twists the head off the cursed spirit and the area folds in again, piercing white blessing your vision. Your skin can feel the aftermath of such potent power... it hurt like nothing you had ever felt before.

As if emerging elsewhere, you land on the ground, making an oomph sound and look up to see a forest. Itadori helps you to your feet and you cling to him as you watch Gojo's heel dig into the head of the Cursed Spirit, who, rather terrifyingly, was still alive despite his decapitation.

"He really is the strongest jujutsu sorcerer," You whisper in awe and Itadori nods, stunned as well as the powerful nature of your teacher.

"As a living organism," Itadori replies, shock lacing his words, "He's on another level."

Gojo has one hand on his blindfold, which is slightly lifted as if to reveal those stunning sapphires, "You don't seem like the type to act on orders. Was something good supposed to happen if you killed me? Regardless... I want to know. Who was it? Come on, just tell me already!"

From his voice, you have a sneaking suspicion he already knows who ordered such an attack. After all, Gojo-sensei strikes you as a man who keeps his friends close but enemies closer.

"Like I'd ever tell you, brat!" The cursed spirit hisses, unrelenting even on the cusp of death.

"You should you should be saying that?" Gojo-sensei arches an eyebrow, "Hurry up and tell me, or I'll exorcise you. Of course, I'll do that either way."

Itadori frowns, "Wait, curses are capable of holding conversations? It seemed so normal, so I overlooked it."

A response lingers on your tongue but before you open your mouth to reply, an object flies through the air and penetrates the fresh dirt. It explodes violently but not with the normal dust kicking up into the air or traces of ash midst concocted power. Rather, it imbues a burst of flowers across the field, flowers that send you spiralling in awe.

You lean in, delighted by the softness of the petals as it grazes your palm, and there's this simply curiosity, momentarily harmless but when unsatiated, turns deadly, that makes the sakura blossoms fill your hands, soft light pink and they emobdy your internal innocence, but mark the beginning of something new.

You turn, just as your vision is accosted with small cherry blossoms cascading down from thin air, listening to Gojo-sensei and Itadori's ethereal laughs.

Whatever held you in your place was delicate much like a sakura blossom petal, and the emotional connection that wove you together was palpable.

You unfurl your wrist to reveal a single petal; molten in it's pallor, it reveals a thin line that is stretched thin at the mercy of the delicate flower. It is cracked.

While looking at it momentarily, your eyes are drawn to how the beauty of the sakura blossom teeters within despite the broken nature of the petal. Was this a metaphor? An analogy? Since when did the divine laws of nature allow for the unfurling beauty of spring to be thrown into misbalance by the fractured, who's suffering was inextricably linked with your own?

This petal was tangible yet intangible, but whatever construct was being formed between the intimacy of two teenage youths was ineffable to even begin to describe. Beauty was not one for humans to define but they did so anyway.

"Pretty!" A giddy smile and the word escapes your lips before you can catch it.

Itadori beams, rose tinting his cheeks, "Flowers!"

Wait! Your mind screams. It is a cursed spirit, right? It's stripping away my will to fight. Somehow, the only thing filling your mind is the desire to lay on the soft flower fields and dream of something bigger.

Before you can even react, something circles your ankle and pulls you into the air alongside Itadori, who seems to have snapped out of it as well.

But in the moment, you can spot a figure in the distance grabbing the cursed spirit's head and running away.

"Itadori! Grab my hand!" You flail and hold it out, hoping you can feel him again.

The teenager yells out something incoherent before slipperily grabbing your hand and holding it tight enough to leave a mark.

You hold on and use your other hand to claw at the stretched wood trapping your ankle. "Sensei!" You yell, "We'll be fine (hopefully)! Go after him!"

And of course, it just had to be your luck that at that moment whatever creature the long stalk was attached to, opens its mouth as if ready to devour two kids whole. "Gomen!" You scream, "I lied! Help!"

Gojo swipes his hand and the small thing bursts into flames and withers away like a dying flower. Upon this, both you and Itadori fall on top of each other, legs entangled and faces inches from each other.

Blushing, you crawl to your feet and help him, knowing whatever intimacy that was reborn between you would be destroyed by your idiocy.

Gojo rests his chin on the thumb of his right arm, looking out in the distance in thought. He seems collected and calm, certainly more relaxed than his students.

Both you and Itadori bow down, head and hands pressed against the flower fields. Your voice drops by an octaves or two, "I'm sorry about that. They managed to escape because of me. Though you're the one who brought us here, right?"

"Yuuji, [F/n]," Gojo turns and beams at the two of you. He smiles widely and gracefully, "I want you - or rather everyone else - to become strong enough to beat that."

"Huh?" You shiver, an image of "Volano Head" as you now had dubbed him, appears in your head, "Beat that?"

Gojo wags his finger, "It's better to have a concrete goal, right? Man, I'm glad I brought you here."

You deadpan, shoulders slouched, "We had no idea what was going on, though."

"Now that we've set your goals, all that's left is to pursue it. We'll speed up the schedule a bit." Gojo-sensei rests his hand on his hip. "For the next month, you'll be watching movies and fighting me. [F/n], you'll also be practicing with the second-years!"

Itadori's eyes widen, "Fighting you?!"

You sigh, thinking about the workload, "Man... Will I still be alive a month from now?"

Gojo grins, "After that, it's practical combat. You'll take on and complete several harder missions. You'll learn the basics and how to apply them, and then you'll show them off at the exchange event."

"The exchange event?" You lean in, surprised. That's not too far away! Besides! There are going to be so many powerful people there. I hear Fushiguro talking about it with Kugisaki all the time.

"Hey, Sensei!" Itadori lifts his hand as if in a classroom setting.

Gojo points at him rather comically, "Yes, Yuuji-kun?"

Itadori blanks, a woefully and humourously empty expression on his face, "What's the exchange event?"

"Wait..." Gojo also blanks, blinking in surprise, "I didn't tell you?"

You cover your mouth to stop laughing and listen as Gojo explains, Itadori hanging onto every word. And once he is done, he shooes you back to your dorm after dropping off Itadori.

You stand in the doorway, bags beneath your eyes from exhaustion, glad to have some sleep for the first time in a while. "Hey Gojo-sensei?"

"Mm, yes?" He replies smoothly.

"Is it ever possible... for me to go home once in a while?"

Gojo has his hands in his pockets per usual, "Home?"

He understands though, after all, he did speak with your father.

"Yeah," You scratch the back of your head, struggling to stifle a yawn, "I wanna... work somethings out, I guess."

Gojo's expression remains the same, unperturbed and unwavered by your words, "I'm sure it will happen, [F/n]. For now, you have bigger things on your plate. I know you can juggle all of this and still come out on top. You have the potential to beat me in battle - I saw it in my Innate Domain."

You blink, swayed and speechless.

"Well, now I have a meeting with the principal! Or perhaps had... I'm 38 minutes late," Your teacher waves you off, leaving you to stand in the doorway with a heavy heart. The years you spent on the edge of disappearance seem to have accumulated to this make or break point.

You have your goals and you'll do anything to be better than the old you.


Chapter Text

You are your own killer. What made you unusual and tragic and alive was decomposing within your own body, skin bloating from the old brag of a heart, a mind hurrying to its demise in an effort to be everything it is not.

Because... you can tell yourself I exist as I am, that is enough, but your very existence moves deities to tears and challenges the precipice of every incoming war. You yourself are bleeding with every wish you have in that moment,

The blood on your teeth begins to taste like a poem; it is stuck somewhere between dreams at dawn when you watch them from a distance - Fushiguro and Kugisaki. Words are scratched onto the walls of your throat, unheard but it is there.

Sunlight blurs at the edges of your vision, mellow and diluted but still hazily present on that day. It has been almost a week since you last spoke to them, your new-found friends... friends that you could not tell the truth entirely to. The secret eats away at your flesh and it makes you wonder if you would hollow yourself out if they touched you with their pensive gaze.

You're not too sure how to start the conversation, mind stilling much like the bottom of a lake, craters echoing the blankness of your expression. How do you begin to even bother conveying the slightest sense of friendship when all you ever do is spin half-truths. Half-truths and half-lies and real tears and fake words... because Itadori is not dead. He's as alive as anything you would ever want to be alive, flowers in the meadows, the pulsing flames of a sun, the weeping of baby bluebirds high up in make-shift nests.

And you look at Fushiguro and hold your head up high, knowing the Gojo-sensei trusted your spirit enough to know you could handle such a poignant challenge, the tale of a woven liar, to herself and to everyone around her.

The vending machine whirrs when Kugisaki presses on a button titled 'cold' and you stand idly by, hands stuck in the pockets of your black skirt, a solemn expression portrayed on your face. The events of yesterday linger on your mind like morning dew on the lipped leaves of jungle vines, tangible and tethered, hanging with a glimmer.

"Hey guys," You murmur, averting their gaze, taking solace in the patterned floor. Both Fushiguro and Kugisaki are dressed in casual attire, a warm embrace tackling their expressions and comfort seeps through the dark hoodies and lean leggings.

Fushiguro's typically blank features dissipate upon eye contact with you. He lifts his head and the smallest of smiles graces his ivory face, "[L/N]... what took you so long?"

Oh, I was just reeling over the fact I almost died to a guy with a volcano for a head, you muse in the internal web of your thoughts. Of course, none of those words ebb out of your serpentine tongue, "I had to deal with a ton of stuff... I couldn't just up and leave my old life behind."

You perk up, however, because you don't want to spin yourself another tale of isolation, letting the cracks on the cliff widen and swallow you whole. "I happened to get a glimpse of Gojo-sensei's... Domain Expansion."

A hint of surprise unearths itself in Fushiguro's dark eyes, "So that's what you've been up to? Gojo-sensei is a good teacher... but don't let him know I said that."

You faintly smirk, shifting your attention to Kugisaki, who picked up her cold drink, "Couldn't they have put in a few more vending machines?"

"They can't," Fushiguro deadpans, turning to face her, "There are only so many workers who can come in here."

You grab a drink from the machine, the coldness of the metal branches out on the fingers that curl around it, "Oh, what are you guys doing for today? I'm tagging along so I can get some training out of the second-years."

"Zenin-senpai sent us to get drinks for everyone," Kugsaki purses her lips, an evidently grumpy expression forms on her face, "My hands can only hold so much! Not to mention, [L/N]-kun, you missed out on a lot over the last couple weeks. Panda threw me around and then I threw up on him!"

Biting your lip, you stifle a laugh, "Gomen... I promise to join in on your shared suffering. Are you guys taking part in the exchange event with Kyoto?"

Fushiguro nods, "The third years are not taking part this year so we're filling in. And you?"

You shrug, taking a long, refreshing sip from your soda, "Very unlikely... but Gojo-sensei wants to show off me and - I mean, me - at the Kyoto event," You had almost said Itadori's name there... "I don't even know my Cursed Technique yet so I doubt I can do much except flaunt my ancestry."

"The [L/N] clan are one of, if not the oldest and most powerful clan out there. You probably have relatives still alive but under different names to avoid persecution and there's likely books on that history in the school library," Kugisaki offers, crunching her can after drinking all of it's contents in one gulp.

You sigh, looking off into the distance, "Mm, thanks. I'll have to balance that along with everything else..." Watching movies, fighting Gojo-sensei, training with the second-years, speaking with your father and now this.

The sound of footsteps hangs in the air much like a twisted, rattling tree branch and you turn on your heel to face their source: a young man and woman.

They looked to be perhaps a year or two older than you, but something lurking in their told tales of a much echoed and ancient wisdom. That, coupled with the unfamiliar features of their sharp faces, told you the two of them were likely students from Kyoto.

"What are you doing here, Zenin-senpai?" Fushiguro inquires, making you lift your head in interest.

Kugisaki does the same, "Oh, she's one too?"

Your eyes settle on her figure, lean and elegant, reminding you of a hunting leopard. She has her head ever so slightly tilted, sharp eyes digging into your soul like nails into skin. Calling her cruel would be an understatement.

"They do seem similar," You murmur, looking deeply into her dark eyes, "Are they sisters?"

Fushiguro's lips curl bitterly, "They're twins."

"Don't call me that, Fushiguro-kun," She hums, twirling a lock of her ebony hair. Her voice is silky like it was a piece of fabric being smoothened out, a harmony brought on by the molds of piano notes. But it was also smooth in the way that a jaguar's claw is polished before it's bloodshed, a thinned out merciless wake of casualties. "You make me sound the same as Maki. Call me Mai."

Mai's friend has his head lifted as he was looking down menacingly at the three of you, "So these guys are the pinch-hitters for Okkotsu and the third years?"

You look at him, a troubled expression wavering on your face. A large scar ran down the left side of his face, like the trail left in a swamp when the tall grasslands parted. He was tall and certainly muscular, emulating a level of physical power you could likely never match. And you imagine from that eccentric gloss in those small pupils that this young man was addicted to the thrill of battle. You already bore him from that uninterested gaze he returns to you with.

"We came here with the principal because we were worried about you. Your classmate died, right?" Mai rests his hand beneath her mouth, a smirk crows and widens across her face.

Your classmate died, right? The words funnel through your thoughts and return in distortion, glowing with red as if your memory of all the blood pouring from Itadori's chest came back to haunt you.

"Was it rough? Or did you think nothing of it?"

Did you think nothing of it? Because he isn't dead... he isn't dead... he isn't dead... And you can't pretend he is when thinking about that once was already going to send you into a power struggle with grief.

"Enough!" Fushiguro scowls and he takes your hand - his touch is the warmth you crave to be whole again, "What are you trying to say?"

Mai is still smiling; maybe she never stopped, "It's okay. Some things are hard to say out loud. So I'll say it for you. "Vessel" makes it sound nice, but it just means he was a half-curse monster. Having such a tainted, inhuman being beside you, brazenly calling himself a jujutsu sorcerer must have been revolting, right?"

Your hand is shaking to the point where you have forgotten to breathe at the cliff that overwhelms you. Because your empty burning lungs and your heart hitting your chest so hard you thought it would break my ribs and rip apart that skin were the only things you can think about. And the void. The black hole in your head, deep inside your soul, slowly swallowing all your hopes and dreams. That was the worst of those moments. The realization of the vacuum, the nothingness, the absurd of your existence.

You can tell yourself a million times that you're okay and then someone will come along and shatter it all over again. Again. Again. And Again.

"Aren't you feeling better now that he's dead?"

Your nails dig and dig into the back of Fushiguro's hand but he doesn't care, also affected by Mai's crude and straightforward words. The outline of your small figure trembles as if your head is lost in a tornado all over again, anger piling up onto each other, each one lighting the torches that line the walls of the inner thoughts. It is anger from your mother, your father, yourself, Iguchi and Sasaki, Itadori and more.

Ever so slightly, in the small hut housing the vending machines of the site of Tokyo Metropolitan Jujutsu Tech, your Cursed Energy boils uncontrollably, like chucking all those lessons with Gojo-sensei out of the window. Besides, if Gojo-sensei was here right now, you can imagine how he would react to Mai's callous words.

"Mai, don't bring up such pointless topics," Todou says, stepping forward, "I'm only here to see if these guys are fit to take Okkotsu's place."

You lack a filter on your thoughts and it becomes evident with your tongue's quarrels, "I don't have a clue who Okkotsu is but I will gladly destroy you for what you said about Itadori."

"Then I hope we cross paths at the exchange event," His eyes carry unsettling battle-crazed madness, "Aoi Todou, remember that name. Maybe I'll make you get it tattooed on your forehead after I beat you."

You stifle a laugh, "Once I'm done with you, I doubt you'll have any flesh left to get my name tattooed on."

Todou narrows his eyes, "What's your name again?" He doesn't say it lousily much like others who ask for your name but as if he will remember it forever and then some more.

"[L/N] [F/N]," You reply curtly with a smooth tongue.

He freezes, "I see..."

All you see is the twist of fear, as if he is no longer bored with you. Your name is a double-edged sword, reeling with a plethora of misery reborn from the countless descendants that cling tightly to it. Much like the suave cocoon of a caterpillar rattling on a plant leaf, it sheds the old and human mundanity to it, the normality of hearing your name being called out for the register at school. Now? It was a battle cry, an omen, a curse-bearer and more. It would entail darkness and light, entangled with the depths of sorcery. A name out from eyes of magic & punctured hearts.

Toudou shifts his attention, "Fushiguro, was it?"

What follows that tepid question was another one that he roared, a question that stuns you and everyone else except him and Mai.

"What kind of woman is your type?!"

You, Fushiguro and Kugisaki tilt your heads to the same side, the same doleful and dumb-founded expression painted on all of your faces, "Huh?..."

"Depending on your answer, I'll beat you half to death right here and drag Okkotsu, or at least the third-years, out to the exchange event!" And then, rather suddenly, he rips apart his purple shirt, sending the fabric flying everywhere. "By the way, my type is a tall woman with a big ass!"

This guy... is a himbo, you can't help but think to yourself, actually no... not a himbo... a baseless idiot.

Fushiguro's thin eyebrows narrow, "Why do I have to talk about my taste in women with a guy I just met?"

You nod, "He's right. That's a tall hurdle for an anti-social guy."

A tick appears on your friend's cheek like he's been slapped with your thoughtlessness, "Seriously? This is confusing enough already."

"Kyoto, third-year, Toudou Aoi," Toudou says stoically, "Introduction over. Now we're friends. Hurry up and answer. If you prefer men, that's fine, too."

You bite the inside of your lip, "What does this have to do with anything?!" You ask, attempting to divert the topic to save Fushiguro from personal embarrassment.

Toudou grimaces, "A person's fetishes reflect everything about them. People with boring taste in women are boring people themselves. And I hate boring people."

"Have you ever tried anger management therapy?" You blank, asking idly.

Such a question makes him frankly more annoyed than before, if that was even possible. You were merely riling him up as if he was a ticking time bomb, "I don't need to hear your words right now. The exchange event is where my soul can be free as blood boils and flesh clashes. Who knows what I might do if my last exchange event ends up boring me?"

Kugisaki leans over to you in a whisper, "Hey, aren't the Jujutsu Tech schools four-year schools?"

"I think only the third-years and under can join the exchange event," You shrug in response, eyes lingering on the two individuals before you.

"As a show of kindness, I'll let you off only half-dead right now," Toudou says calmly, "Answer me, Fushiguro."

The awkwardness fleeting the air was becoming thick as you writhed uncomfortably in the middle of this tense situation. It was such an odd question, the kind that threw people off.

"Is this some kind of comedy routine?" Fushiguro inquires, eyebrows arched in confusion as he readied himself against Toudou in an impending battle.

Kugisaki diverts some of the attention with her question, "Is that your summer uniform?" She asks, eyes laying on Mai who donned a long and elegant black dress that sleekly fit her figure. It made her powerful and beautiful, a force to be reckoned with. "Ticks me off, but it's nice."

Knowing Fushiguro, he would aim to avoid confrontation, especially since Kugisaki didn't even have her hammer and nails with her. You are unarmed as well, not that you use a weapon anyway. But still, Fushiguro wasn't aware of your secret training and how greatly you had improved over the last few days.

And you are correct, which surprises you since maybe you have grown to understand Fushiguro in the short but meaningful time you have known him. Patiently, you heed to his every word, hanging on by a thread, "I don't have a particular preference. As long as she has unshakable character, I won't ask for more."

Such an answer makes your heart waver, especially since you think about Itadori's blatant 'I'm into girls like Jennifer Lawrence!' proclamation.

"Not a bad answer," Kugisaki lifts her finger, If you had said something like "big boobs", [L/N] and I would have killed you."

You stifle a laugh at her antics, listening to Fushiguro embarrassingly murmur something along the lines of 'Shut up.'

It seemed like whatever playful atmosphere the situation descended into was only momentary, because you look up and see Toudou is crying.

A tick forms on your forehead because you know the reason behind that action is something pathetic, you can already feel it. Tears swell on the corners of his eyes and fall gracefully down his ivory cheeks, much like the elysian waterfalls heavens cascade over.

"I knew it," He mutters, with sadness too; you are growing to hate it because it feels like he defiles the action of crying and being sad with such ugly reasoning, "You're boring, Fushiguro."

"That's it!" You yell, anger seeping through your tone but before you can even make a move, Toudou sprints towards a startled Fushiguro and sends him flying out into the courtyard.

You spin on your heel, gasping, "Fushiguro!" Your legs move without warning, terror creeping up your spine when you listen to the sound of his body crash against the cobbled floor. Instead, you are paralysed when Mai's arms envelop you and Kugisaki.

"Poor Fushiguro-kun," She sighs, but it was a sigh lacking empathy, devoid of all emotion except this curtailing sweetness to her tone. "Even a talented second-grade jujutsu sorcerer is nothing more than a first-year against the top-grade Toudou-senpai. I'll have to comfort him later."

"Names don't mean anything," You say bitterly in response, "Your idiot friend is just looking for a fight so he can give it meaning."

Kugisaki also remains unfazed by the sharpness and crudeness of Mai's terrifying personality, "I thought you and your sister were similar, but that's not the case at all. Maki-san's a hundred times prettier."

Her stark insult makes your lips fly up in a small smile, and you almost want to laugh when you hear the words following it, "Are you not sleeping enough? You've got open pores."

An expression flitting between angry and annoyed sits on Mai's face, "I'll teach you two..." And she pulls out a gun suddenly from her dress; the sound of it locking and loading into action fills the thick tense air. "How to speak to others."

It's two against one, it's two against one, it's two against one, you try to calmly tell yourself but everything moves faster than you anticipated it to.

Kugisaki attempts to throw a punch but you hear the gun going off and she gets sent flying to the ground, battered and her clothes are torn around the edges. In the distance, you can hear wooden pillars cracking and giving way to dust as they are destroyed in whatever decimating battle was going on between Fushiguro and Toudou.

You inhale, stopping your shaking. Since your first encounter with curses back at high school, you have grown. You are no longer the old you, only the premise of what can be, a vessel for potential.

A thin-lipped smile widens on Mai's face, "[L/N] [F/N]. So you must be a descendant of that clan. Yet... you were so troubled by my words about that dead boy."

"You don't even know Itadori! I was just like him..." You spit in response, disgusted with how poorly people could speak about the dead.

Mai grabs you by the throat, "You... are nothing like him. Where's your power, hm? Aren't you a jujutsu sorcerer in training?"

You kick her leg, watching it buckle from the throbbing pain in her knee, "I don't need to prove myself to you! Hell, I don't even want to fight you!"

Just as you expect her to, in light of her persevering, callous personality, she remains her battle stance and holds up her gun with a steady grip, "Such a shame because I would love to test out my ability on someone like you. A first year... with the reputed power levels of some higher ups. I hope you are actually a shaman and not some human freak pretending to be one."

"Who cares?!" You mutter exasperated, "Who cares about shamans and non-shamans and whatever?! You are literally using a weapon used by humans!"

And said weapon fires a bullet upon your words leaving your lips. The bullet appears slow and focused in your wide vision, air tightening around it as it spirals towards you. But, perhaps training is actually viable because the old you would have been dead by now.

The new you is still fighting.

Your figure shines with a blinding aura, midnight blue that dwells on most dark emotions. The bullet shatters before it even reaches you and time feels slow as you move to attack Mai. You hurl a punch at her cheek and to your surprise, it sends her across the room. She lands, slouched, against the wall, a large bruise forming on her cheek.

Of course, a single punch isn't enough to win a fight. Even you know that.

More bullets are fired, each one imbued with cursed energy, zipping through the air in woven, indirect ways, struggling to find a weak point to attack you. They do seem powerful, each in their own way, exhausting your energy as you maneuver to avoid each and every one of them.

"If you want to continue as a jujutsu sorcerer, learn to choose who you pick a fight with," Mai says haughtily.

Her words earn another ground-shaking attack from you and the area around her figure explodes, the hem of her black dress now charred and smoking slightly. Mai coughs, waving away the thick smoke, feeling her legs give way. It felt like cursed energy was now a mere extension of you, not the separate silhouette of your soul that stretched out like ink blots on paper. It was a god's wrath that turmoiled within your body, and you exercised it well over your enemies.

You stand over her, pressing her back onto the ground with your foot, a gleeful smile rocking your face as you look down at her. Kugisaki is grinning maniacally as well, spouting out something along the lines of wanting that dress for her own summer uniform because Mai had put holes into her brand new tracksuit jumper.

Mai's sister, Maki, arrives, quickly followed by Toudou, and almost just as quickly as they had appeared, they exit out of your life once more. Although, when Mai looks away, scowling at her injuries, she promises that the Kyoto exchange event will be very interesting indeed.


Chapter Text

There is an old saying passed down in your family that when one walks after confrontation, each footprint leaves puddles of ichor and tears in their wake. One can turn around, heel digging into mud upon a spin, and look down at not their reflection but the skeletons of the old gods. Look a little closer and their gilded bones twist in the graves, pulling the violent in and tormenting the innocent. But one can look forward instead, muse on the gravity of the past but never face it. They will hear the wittering of rotten corpses and spilt ichor from the open craniums of river gods, but they shall never breathe without thinking of morals first.

The sky feels pressed down on the ridge of your spine as your thoughts are spun with that old tale. As you walk with Zenin Maki and Kugisaki, your heart feels heavy with your mother's lullaby once more. It is as if following that fight with Mai, your footsteps etch puddles into the dirt track you follow your classmates on.

"Hey, Maki-san," You muse, following her and Kugisaki, starting to think about something else. "Is what Mai said true? That you don't have cursed energy?"

You think back to earlier, how snarkily the two siblings spoke with each other, haughty in their proclamations of being weak and and at the bottom, lacking cursed energy.

Maki seems dull with her own words, as if she is accustomed to the truth, "It's true. I can't even see curses without these glasses."

She takes them off, the thin frame balanced between her nimble fingers and you look at her eyes which were now unshielded. They were raven, a soft kind, kindling to the fur of an auspicious black cat not like the shadows cast by ominous deities. It was the kind of black like when your phone turned off by itself, an unfitting metaphor but you thought it was apt to describe her irises like that, especially since without those glasses, she was wandering blindly in a magical world.

"That's why I use cursed tools," She says idly, "They already have curses imbued in them. I can't pour my own cursed energy into them to do things like you all do."

You wonder if you should harness your cursed energy into a weapon or a tool. When you think about your encounters with foes, all you really have is your wits and your fists, neither of whom seem good enough in battle. Perhaps you should speak to Gojo-sensei about it when you see him next.

Kugisaki lifts her head, "Then why are you a jujutsu sorcerer?"

A short silence and then, "To spite them."

She turns around, looking at you and Kugisaki. You find her features to be beautiful; the sharpness of them were as poignant as the petals of a red spider lily, brimming with elegance in their own way. "I can't wait to see the looks on my family's faces when I become a bigshot sorcerer after all the years they've spent looking down on me."

Both you and Kugisaki stop in your tracks, eyes shining brightly as you look at Maki and then at each other. Maki calls on the two of you, "Come on, let's hurry over to see Shouko-san."

It seems the two of you have developed an earnest and high level of respect for Zenin Maki, a young woman whose perseverance and strength was more than wishful thinking.


The grass on the field is stirred by a pleasant wind, whittled down to the faintest breeze that brushes your cheeks. Afternoon sunshine cradles the sky like a doting mother to an infant, but such a natural simile did not last long as you watch alabaster clouds writhe and suffocate. The gods seem angry at humanity again and in their own way, the well-versed lipped angels torment the Creation all over again. Honey hangs over the sky, striking the air with a deep stupor; it was as if the chalices of ambrosia were trickling down from the heavens. What poised itself as a walkthrough waterfall was as cunning as an impeding bloodbath to wade through.

Gojo-sensei's indecipherable expression did nothing to soothe the restless atmosphere you were feeling swallowed up in. He was standing over a dozen feet across you on the empty field, hands casually resting in his pockets and shoulders slightly slouched - not that it did anything to even change how tall he was.

"There's nothing to be scared about," He drawls with a somewhat reassuring smile but it half-makes you want to laugh at how playful he's being. "You're not gonna die!"

You sigh, your heart still pinched by anxiety. "I know..."

"But?" He arches an eyebrow, reading you as if you were just another open book.

"... I'm still scared."

Your answer stills all the air around you, three words cutting through the breeze and crumpling it. Gojo-sensei looks up slightly to the sky, letting you watch the sunlight saunter tipsily over his face. He then returns his gaze to you, a slightly shaking teenage girl with uncontrollable power curled up in your veins.

"Then be scared," He says suddenly, almost seriously too but the mask over his words is indestructible, "Your fear is a tool for the enemy and yourself."

You inhale, your figure silhouetted against the sky on this tiring day. The morning was spent in a woeful conflict with students from Kyoto and a brief look around in Shouko-san's office. And now, the afternoon was about to be spent performing your first battle against Gojo Satoru.

You don't even know exactly what you're scared of; it's all puddled together in the twisted ivory encircling your closed-off heart. Curses, curses, curses. Power, power, power.

And at the centre of it, rests the unknown. What splendid tale does a lack of knowledge spin? One that was vicious and devoured it's victims whole in this cruel, jujutsu world? Or the slow, pulsing venom that twisted across skin, letting the mindless hallucinations do the killing for them?

In school, they taught you many things that seem to have fallen into a bottomless pit, a faraway abyss because you had a fixed routine, a fixed life - a reality you returned to everyday without fail. While the corners of your memories bend and fold over in fray, you vividly remember the split in the universe when curses met humanity. And it was the way your life crumbled that has made a spiral tighten in your chest at all times. You are more alert than you have ever been, life chastised by the deities and almost ended on numerous occasions.

When Gojo-sensei sees the fear in your expression start to melt away and be replaced by concentration, he continues, hands still in his pockets as if engaging in chit-chat on a fine day, "Try to land an attack on me. Oh, a tip beforehand! Don't get yourself killed... I can't promise anything."

"Wow," Sarcasm drips in your tone, "You're the best teacher ever. Amazing advice indeed."

While Gojo-sensei remains in the same position as before, you know you have to ready yourself for battle. It was a training session... a test of your abilities by your lonesome. You had specifically requested Itadori not be present so you wouldn't have to embarrass yourself in front of him.

After a deep breath, your head is finally clear on that warm day. You think back to the encounter with Volcano Head. Gojo-sensei waited for him to make the moves. His Cursed Technique requires being defensive at first. It is only when the enemy makes the first move that they lose... they don't stand a chance against his ability.

Wait... what was his ability again?

You remember something to do with Infinity, which had been described briefly as the space between Gojo and the rest. The closer you got to him, the slower you went.

So, I need to make him attack me first. Unless... if I can create an attack that breaks through his barrier.

You think back to the Domain Expansion, the unsettling calmness that wittered in that world. Unlike Itadori and the Cursed Spirit, you were able to move freely.

Gojo-sensei tilts his head, whining a little, "I don't have all day, [F/N]!"

"Then why don't you make the first move?" The edges of your lips twitch a little mischievously at your words. "I noticed you play quite defensively."

You can finally start to unravel the mystery of Gojo Satoru, a shaman blessed by the gods and destined for greatness. He's nonchalant and calm and easy-going, because he can see everything. Be it a million miles away, or just an inch from his face, he can plan in the moment; he has that luxury due to his power.

"Then we'll be here forever, huh," He muses.

Secretly, he is pleased you have figured him out so quickly. Because for once, someone now stands a chance against him.

You don't know how to fight; you've seen it in movies, sure, but they have those green screens and CGI and trained stunt doubles. You don't have any of that yet you have learnt from it. Perhaps, watching all those movies with Itadori was truly paying off in it's own way.

Remembering your fight with Sukuna, you pick up a sharp rock from the ground. You don't bother to hide it, instead staring Gojo-sensei dead in the eyes when you throw it. What he might not realise, however, is that you have two rocks balled up in that fist.

The first rock is thrown much like a sharp shot from the bowler in a cricket match. Hurled across the air, Gojo-sensei narrowly avoids it, and then the other one which comes from a completely different direction.

"I haven't seen that trick in a while," He grins, resuming his stance but the grin is wiped off his face when he looks back at where you were standing and sees you are no longer there.

It is a split-second advantage, a tactic born from your observations and instinct. For some reason, this feels familiar to you. Your body isn't stiff like you expected it to be, a pile of bones and skin thrown into battle. It was a warrior toughened by experience that you didn't realise existed in the first place. Was this what Sukuna was talking about all that time ago?


You shake yourself out of it, knowing that dwelling on that, particularly in this crucial moment, would lead you to lose the momentum garnered in the attack.

Weeks of cursed energy control has given you more than just burning fury and potent auras. You are no longer a civilian; the flow of the cursed energy reaping rewards in your body is now at your beck and call. A blunt attack would do nothing to sway the defensiveness of Gojo-sensei's technique. But manipulating the vast, volatile and sporadic amounts of cursed energy rupturing your mind and body is a dangerous task. A task that seemed reserved for those willing to take the risk.

You had done it once with Mai, resolving to your cursed energy being seen as an extension of your body. Surely, you can do it again.

In that moment, all that fear that had washed over your earlier was now warped at your fingertips, spiralling and spiralling and spiralling. It was raw and unfathomable, blinding you as you sprinted further into the darkness of your own power. Being scared was natural; that teenage terror was now wielded as a tool for you. You had been so used to hiding behind shawls and shields of yourself, old shadows and silhouettes from the real world. When the worst happened, you would bury yourself in echoes, imprinting memories on top of each other, losing the tell between real and fake.

Gojo-sensei has never seen something so beautiful. He had lost you in that powerful gaze of his but when you were found, you were entirely new. You had been reborn as if old flesh was cut off and namesakes were torn. Your eyes held bloodlust that you never knew you craved.

You seemed trapped in a thousand years ago, power growing with every second. He saw how instinct controlled you, almost wanting to smile.

So, this is the power of the [L/N] clan. No wonder the higher ups are terrified of her.

He sees you coming, of course, but it was not a bloodshed that could be avoidable. Midnight blue eclipsed your body like a hardened aura. You were contemplating if you should do what you had seen Fushiguro do, enhance your physical attacks with it. But you decide against it.

Attacks against Gojo-sensei would prove difficult to make unpredictable, yet you narrowly succeed. You don't often do this, letting your heart guide you instead of your mind. But, as you feel the cursed energy being manipulated, it felt strangely right. It felt like a mother's touch, a kiss on the forehead at bedtime, a hug on your birthday.

That was what Cursed Energy seemed to feel like to you.

A remnant of someone you once loved.

Your hand comes striking down at Gojo's neck, legs shaking as they brim with enough manipulated energy to level a building. Just as you expect, Gojo-sensei moves out of the way, letting you attack the imprint he left behind in Infinity. Such fakes do not work on you, unlike others. Your attack cuts through everything like a blade demanding slaughter.

The ground shakes in peril and earth rises like dawn, dirt rattling as bones quake in the mercy of such fiendish power. Smoke billows, lofting about the air, and you pant, collapsing onto the ground from the agony of exhausting such energy.

In the aftermath, it felt like you were letting the energy rip apart your veins and stitch it softly back together. You are slowly growing to understand it, the brutality of this world, the enigma of your past.

Gojo-sensei looks down and sees a gash in his trousers, revealing a wound on his left calf. The ridge of his spine feels oddly sore too; it was like you had attacked him from the inside out.

He doesn't show it on his usually poker expression but he is stunned beyond oblivion. You had hurt him and he had felt pain unlike no other. Not just physical but almost as if the poignant anger on your expression evoked painful memories, letting them brim to the forefront of his distrubed mind.

"Interesting," is the only thing he can say. That single word doesn't even begin to describe the tip of the iceberg that makes up his thoughts in that moment. He wants to laugh, show you off to the Kyoto principal that he had spoken brashly to hours ago.

You're perfect for a revolution. You will turn the world upside down. With the same premise as himself, you could be a God if you made sure of it.

"Holy sh*t!" You exhale, getting to your feet. The extent of your injuries is revealed; clutching your fingers, realise your nails are bleeding explosively as they twitch in fervent ecstasy. The adrenaline surging in your veins is unlike no other, dimming the pain as if quenching the core of a candlestick and putting out the flame as quickly as it had been lit.

Battles and fights are more than those movies now. They are the truth about humans slaughtering humans, rivers of blood spitting out old souls, gods waging wars for entertainment. It's exhilarating and painful. And it's eye-opening.

Mother's voice lurks in your ear again. Earn your power before it eats you alive.


Anytime Gojo Satoru would saunter into Masamichi Yaga's office, the young man would always be greeted with a contemptuous and daunting expression, woven tightly onto the gaunt face of his senior. The principal of Tokyo Metropolitan Jujutsu Tech was consistently disappointed with the reckless behaviour of his former pupil, and yet he was still tethered to him as a mentor.

"I spoke with Principal Yoshinobu," He says curtly, knowing that is enough to imply what happened.

Gojo sits down cross legged on the floor, shrugging, "He was a higher-up! What else could I say?"

Masamichi purses his lips, a thin and unimpressed expression unwavering on his ivory features, "Satoru, I am not surprised at this point. However, you do know the intention of this meeting."

"Of course," Gojo grins, shifting a little to avoid the discomfort caused by earlier injuries. It had been so long since he felt physical pain that he had completely forgotten what it felt like. "[F/N] is doing well in her training. She'll be with the second year students tomorrow."

"You don't think you're pushing her?" Masamichi narrows his eyes in curiosity. "I hear she is working day and night under your course."

A frail dimple prods from Gojo's cheek as he weakly smiles, "Didn't you do the same? I intend for her to see the truth in this world."

Unamused, Masamichi changes topics, "Moving on... I will grant her that request she asked of you a few weeks ago. As a student of Jujutsu Tech, she will be indoctrinated wisely into the Kyoto Exchange Event. She is not a tool for you to show off, Satoru. I will not have more bloodshed spilt on my land."

"Actually," Gojo hums, "I don't think it's a wise idea to send her home just yet. Her house is probably buzzing with curses and the usual things. And after speaking with her father, I can't help but think a visit to Sendai might just wind up killing her."

"Is an exorcist needed?" Masamichi inquires dully, "I can always make preparations for a team."

Gojo waves the offer away, "No, no. As her teacher, I merely want her to achieve her full potential and her father seemingly doesn't."

"As the principal," Masamichi presses further, placing grave emphasis on his words, "She warrants caution. I dislike false intentions, Satoru. You know that well. Should she seek retribution among other things deriving from her ancestry, I will discipline her in a more satisfactory fashion. Great power cannot roam freely if combined with false motivation; the incidents with Geto have told us a million times over."

The night swallows the two beings whole and spits them out again, reborn. Moonlight washes over the sky in unrelenting pulses as Gojo-sensei watches the bruises start to fade with a small smile. As he looks up at the swarms of midnight blue, he is reminded of your deafening aura and the chaos that ensures. You are calamity in the making and he remembers his old self each time he observes your troubles.

Each path to greatness may be abstract and unique to each individual, like Zenin Maki's personal ambitions or Itadori Yuuji's climb to humility and kindness. But, where there is symmetry, there is great, cataclysmic difference. The old and new crash against each other like waves eroding chalky white cliffs; even though they are close to each other, they could not be more far apart.

When you go to sleep that night, you dream of nothing at all.

Chapter 14: FALLING

Chapter Text

You're lying when you say dream of nothing. While it began like that, it was certainly not how it ended.

At first, you're drowning. In the movies drowning is loud and splashy, someone yells and waves their arms; they dip below the waves and come up in dramatic fashion while those on shore scramble to rescue them.

But in that moment, a sense of anguish, more than pain, had taken rule of your heart. Darkness envelops you. The water closes in around, filling you with a deep dread. And you hold your breath, feeling like your chest is going to burst.Burst! Burst! Burst!Like a bomb planted neatly in the curved pit where your heart once was. Red and black splotches dance in front of you and you can't remember if your eyes are closed or not. The initial coldness hurried away; it was a coldness coming from a merciless whine. A desperate hot wave comes over you instead. Your heart beats rapidly in panic. The urgency for air was more apparent than ever. There weren't red blotches in your field of vision anymore. It was all black.

And then, you awake, gasping for breath like a dumbbell had been burdening your chest.

"A warm welcome," Someone crows and you turn your head so fast you get whiplash. "Oi, sit up. I wanna talk to you."

Sukuna's eyes glow in the midst of a fervour, haunting you as they gleam unwelcomingly in the painted darkness. You scowl, a wave of fear initially rolling over you. When you realise you are in what looks like his Innate Domain, you relax a little.

He doesn't have his full power yet,you remind yourself.He can't kill you here.


"What do you want?" You sneer, lips twisted as you inhale, shakily getting to your feet.

He sits in boredom atop a monstrous pile of skulls which carve out a throne worthy of gods to embellish. Sukuna wears an idle expression, a swoon of darkness eclipsing his orbs as he speaks menacingly, "You... are quite a brat. All day long, I have to put up with the vessel but alsoyou; you stick to him like glue."

"How are you doing this?" You look around, feeling your heart become swollen at all the dripping ebony staring back at you. "How have you brought me here?"

Sukuna rolls his eyes, but he doesn't budge from his position, "Brat, did you not pay attention to anything I told you in our last encounter?"

"What? Memories and other jumbo. A bunch of lies that you're using to try and...manipulateme," You spit out the words, finding them hard to say.

The demon god simply arches an eyebrow, almost smiling at your response, "I have the capacity to feed you lies and watch you slurp it up like some idiot dog. I can give you more lies than stars in the sky, girl."

"So?" You tilt your head, finding his speech lacking conviction and grandeur.

He flashes before your eyes suddenly and you feel your body swerve in the air, chest pressed instantly against the ground. You feel a huge weight decimating the ridges of your spine and after lifting your chin slightly, you realise Sukuna is sitting on you to keep you from moving.

He purses his lips, "I have no reason to lie to you, moron. At least, get that through your thick skull."

"Oh, shut up," You roll your eyes as well, "You can't kill me here."

"Believe me," He says annoyedly, "You'll be the first to die. But before that, I want to indulge you in your past. I can interact with you because at some point in your pitiful and weak life, you drank my blood."

"I most certainly did not!" Your jaw drops, "And if I did, I don't f*cking remember it."

Sukuna's claws dig into your skull as his iron grip tightens around a tuft of your hair, "Of course, you don't. Your memories are locked so-"

But his words drown out after that.

Someone's knocking at your door is what wakes you up. Your head stings with a painful headache as your eyelids flutter. The sound of knuckles crashing against wood on repeat stirs your head and you turn in the direction, groaning. The dream felt too far away for you to bother latching onto, on the cusp of glory yet barely fluttering on the tip of your fingers.

Sunlight hazily sifted through the thin curtains, gracing your skin like the wings of a fragile, fluttering butterfly. You throw your legs over the side of the comfortable bed and grimace, making your way to the door with a grumpy expression.

The door opens and Fushiguro remains bleak as his midnight blue eyes linger on your wrinkled shirt and tired figure, "Did you oversleep?"

"Maybe," You scratch the back of your head, yawning in the process, "Man... why do we have to wake up so early?"

Fushiguro scoffs slightly, "It's just like school for non-shamans. Did you think you were going to have a free pass now that you live here?"

You wave off his remarks, "Har har. Very funny."

As you lift your hands to rub your tired eyes, Fushiguro leans in, suddenly concerned. He takes your wrist and holds it to the light, looking at the bandages and old bruises. "When did you get this?"

"Yesterday," You suddenly blank on the spot; your throat clamps up as if choking on all the words you want to not say, "It's healed pretty well so you don't need to worry."

Fushiguro narrows his eyes and they bleakly rove over your figure, "Did someone attack you? Will you be fine for today?"

"I'll be fine!" You laugh, "It really doesn't hurt. I mean... it hurt a lot when Ifirstgot it but like that's to be expected, right?"

"Don't overwork yourself," He purses his lips and despite the reserved expression on his face, you can spot the care in his tone, "I'll see you at the training grounds when you're ready."

With that, he leaves you standing in the doorway, catching your breath as you listen to his footsteps grow diminutive in sound. And then you can no longer hear him; he is gone and for some reason, you're afraid.


Training is simply put,exhausting.

You're sitting on the stone steps of the courtyard's entrance, swathes of air worming into the cavities in your lungs. The colours of sky merge and blur like a person has taken their thumb and smudged all the colours of the wind against a blank canvas. As pink seeps into cerulean, you exhale, vision disorientated as the hours fly by.

The skin on your body feels numb, layering cracked bones and spilling wounds. Your flesh feels itself in ripples, one by one upon the daze of an angel, waves of exhaustion rolling over you. The cursed energy boiling in veins of slippery ichor and blood is unwavering, even minutes after you stopped channelling it.

You used to think Cursed Energy was the same as powers of heroes on the big screen, flashy auras and powerful attacks and a conveyance of destruction beyond emotion; energy demands to be felt in more ways than one.

But really, it was a foolish thought fed by the lies all movie stars seem to spew. Cursed Energy wasn't a superpower; it was a killer.

And even though Fushiguro had clearly told you not to overwork yourself, you had only gone and done it anyway, slumped slightly now as you try to shake off the remnants of energy.

It felt like your nerves were electrified in a state of adrenalinic panic. Every thought ever conjured in your mind just expands outwards like you've been moving back and forth in a black hole centred in the middle of the universe.

"Salmon roe?" Someone mumbles, the syllabic words end in a high pitch so you assume it was a question for you.

Sorely, you turn your head and look endearingly at Toge Inumaki, one of the second years. You had done your battle stance practice with him a few hours ago, yet it seems like he hadn't broken a sweat. In this early dawn his eyes are the morning dew, scattering the nascent rays, ever illuminating your soul. It's the kind of purple that comes with lavender in the spring, or when you had trekked up the mountain earlier this night and seen all the colours of the wind and more.

He has a piercing gaze, almost like a bullet locked and loaded from such a quiet yet precarious look.

"Hm?" You look up, wondering what he said. It sounded all cryptic and jumbled up in your mind, like a knotted silver lining that you can't untangle so you end up snapping it.

Panda answers for you, "Oh, he asked if you're okay. Training did seem to take a toll on you."

You don't reply, eyes just lingering in contemplation on Panda. I mean, Fushiguro had briefed you at some point about there being a human-like Panda as one of the second-years but still. The wave of initial shock seemed to still be persistent, even hours later.

Maki hands you one of her spare water bottles, narrowing her already sharp eyes, "You're doing extra training, aren't you, [Y/N]?"

"Uh... no...?"

She swats your head, "Baka, honestly! You think we don't notice you keep overloading on work? You're gonna end up killing yourself and not your opponent at this rate."

A sour expression is made evident by your frown after drinking some cold water, "Well... what do you want me to do? The Kyoto Exchange is in a month!"

"Mustard leaf," Toge says curtly.

You arch an eyebrow, gulping down the final droplets of water and Panda translates it kindly, "Take a break. You learnt five different techniques today and already mastered some of the tougher ones."

"Fine," You purse your lips, "Maybe I'll just f*ck around and do nothing for a week."

You had said that in a joking manner but after your arm burst into flames from movie night with Itadori ( that's a story for another day ), Ieiri-san benches you. For a whole week.

But the pain is just an engravement of a lesson. You can't master a sword without being cut by your devotion to it's art. The blade is sharp for a reason and all you have to do is turn it away from you and at Sukuna's annoying face.


Chapter Text

An entire month passes. Not in the blink of an eye but slowly like wet cement under stormy weather. Your routine is perfected, ingrained into your mind and becoming a staple in your no longer mundane life.

Training, training andtraining. And then rest. And then repeat.

But today, it's unwisely different. The air is cold as you walk down the corridor with Gojo and Itadori. The morning was dry and dark and Gojo was explaining your latest mission.

"I won't be able to lead you this time. But don't worry, I've called in a friend you can trust," He explains, pushing open the large doors to the outside.

You gulp at his words, thinking about the juvenile detention center and Roppongi. Gojo-sensei's presence was ever so comforting. Knowing that he wasn't here when you needed someone to lean on... it gave you a feeling you didn't like.

In the courtyard, back facing the three of you, was a tall and well-built man. Under the daylight, his features were exhumed to reveal a calm and reserved expression.

Gojo immediately swings his arm around him, "This is Nanami Kento, the ex-salary jujutsu sorcerer." While he's wearing the biggest grin you've ever seen, the man has his shoulders folded and a stoic expression resting on his chiselled face.

Behind the cream-coloured blazer hanging from his frame, was a holster containing a sword - a blunt one if your eyes didn't deceive you.

Itadori looks baffled, probably because he, like you, had never seen this man before. Additionally, very few knew that Itadori was alive.

"Please don't call me that," Nanami tuts.

Gojo explains, "Plenty of jujutsu sorcerers are oddballs but since he worked for a company, he's got a good head on his shoulders. He's a first-grade sorcerer, too."

He didn't strike you as a sorcerer at all. Light-brown hair styled soneatly, shaded in a way that reminds you of hot chocolate in a mug. That was the first thing that threw you off, made you instinctively wonder if he was normal.

(Then again, whatisnormal now?)

His eyes were shielded by a pair of armless glasses, making you lift your chin in curiosity.

Nanami fixes his glasses which seem to have slipped a little down the ridge of his nose, "I'm sure no one would want to hearyousaying that about them."

The two stand together, making you realise something.A lot of these people wear sunglasses and stuff to hide their eyes. Maybe I should buy a pair.

"Ex-salaryman?" You tilt your head in curiosity, "Why didn't you become a jujutsu sorcerer from that start?"

He ignores your question, shaking off Gojo's arm around his shoulder, "We should greet each other first."

He unfolds his arms, tension loosening itself like an untied knot. Arms by his side, he bows curtly, "Nice to meet you, [L/n]-kun, Itadori-kun."

You and Itadori do the same, "Oh, yes, nice to meet you, too!"

"I studied at Jujutsu Tech," Nanami says, "and the one thing I learned... is that jujutsu sorcerers aresh*t!"

You blink, mind empty, and speak dumbfoundedly in unison with Itadori, "Huh?"

He folds his arms, watching you and Itadori be drained of all colour, as white as sheets from his bold wolds. "Then I worked at your typical company and one thing I learned is that work issh*t!"

"Really?!" Your jaw drops in fascination.

You've rarely heard adults be so profane and bold in expressing their opinion like this.

"If both are equally sh*t, I'll take the one I'm more suited to. That's the only reason I came back."

You, Itadori and Gojo gather together in a murmur, "That's dark..."

"Itadori-kun, [L/n]-kun, please don't believe I'm of the same mindset at Gojo-san. I do trust and have faith in him," His words prompt Gojo to make a beaming smile that you and Itadori roll your eyes at, "but I do not respect him!"

Nanami Kento seemed to be growing on you, it seems, because you stifle a laugh at what he says.

He starts to walk off, remaining stiff, "I hate the way the higher ups do things, but I believe in rules and regulations." And then he sighs, "This conversation is dragging on."

Turning on his heel, Nanami's lips curl, "In short, I don't recognise you two as sorcerers, either."

The words feel like a blow to the chest except your frail body holds a dull ache rather than anything sharp.

"Even if you do carry the bomb we know as Sukuna, and you, [L/n] are a descendant of a clan, please make an effort to prove that youareuseful."

Itadori seems to gather strength from it while you lower your head. "Lately, I've been forced to realise how weak and useless I am. But I'll become strong. I have to be strong, or I won't be able to choose how I die."

His knuckles whiten when his hands ball in fists by his side, "I'll make you recognise me, even without that advice." With a wink and salute, he grins, "Just give me a bit more time."

Even though you and Gojo are smiling, Nanami just looks away, "Say that to the higher-ups, not me."

Itadori groans, "Oh, yeah..."

"Because, frankly, I don't care!"

"Yeah! Yeah! We get it!" You wave him off, watching with a thin-lipped scowl as Nanami leaves.

Gojo ruffles your hair, "Calm down, kiddo. I trust him a lot and besides, you need a mix of teachers if you're gonna get anywhere in the world."

"Sorry," You murmur, looking down at the courtyard floor. "I don't like change."

"I don't think anyone does," Gojo hums low enough for you to hear reassuringly. "See you around, kid."


You were expecting something, but not quite this. Blood slicking down the napes of disfigured bodies, skin stretched taut and eyeballs prodding out of swollen sockets. It was a sight you barely stomached, endurance at breaking point the more you looked. Stared. Examined.

Three high-school boys were found dead in a cinema. And now here you were, metres from their forcefully discombobulated bodies.

You inhale, eyes drifting along the cranial pressurised skulls and the decaying black matter oozing out with the thick blood. It was like someone has mashed their skulls, not broken them, but rather squeezed and stretched their skin and bones.

It was a curse who had made the skin their own, deconstructed the bones and wrestled to make them bloated and deformed.

Suddenly, you feel someone hold your hand and look down to see Itadori's palm gently grazing yours.

"You're shaking," He murmurs idly. His words seem stoic but layered beneath them are syllables edged with concern.

He's right; there is the faintest blur on the outline of your hands. A tremor that moves rapidly and violently, a twist of trauma tightening around your cranium.

Maybe it's because these bodies remind you of Mother and her body. God, no. You snap your jaw shut, gritting teeth to push back that memory. Now is really not the time to think about that.

Nanami lifts his hand, "Can you see it?"

He points seemingly to nothing, the space behind the row that the bodies were seats, "This is the residual taint of cursed energy."

You deadpan, "I can't see sh*t, sensei."

As soon as that sentence escapes your lips, you clamp your mouth shut to prevent more. Maybe it was because you had grown used to the outspoken and easy-going nature of Gojo-sensei. To the point where you behaved differently in a calm environment.

Nanami, however, was a complete contrast. Thankfully, he doesn't seem to care too much. Or maybe he did and was doing well to hide it.

"That's because you're not trying to see it," He replies grimly. "We typically see curses as if it's perfectly natural to."

You inhale as you listen, eyes searching the area he was gesturing at. "When a cursed technique is used, it leaves traces behind. That's what residuals are. But residuals are much fainter than cursed spirits. So, focus your vision and look closely."

Heeding to his words, you lift your hand and shape your palms on the sides of your face, narrowing your peripheral vision. You have to gently let go of Itadori however, cheeks flushed in an embarassed manner when the two of you realise he was still holding your hand.

Another inhale. Air seeps into your lungs, cool and fresh, inflating them as your pupils dilate. A dull ache confounds your forehead as you squint but soon the residue reveals itself.

Footprints are lingering on the floor, growing clearer the more you steady your mind.

Itadori sees it too, a surprised laugh quickly leaving his pink lips.

Nanami places his hands in his pocket, a reserved expression is fixed on his paper face. "A proper sorcerer can sense them before seeing them."

His response makes you scowl a little and with a weary sigh, you follow him as he ducks beneath some yellow police tape encasing the door frame and into the corridor.

"Can't you give us a little more praise or something?" Itadori inquires; it's rather bold of him to.

Nanami stops in his tracks, still indifferent, "I don't praise or disparage anyone. I adhere to facts and judge on that basis. That's who I am."

His words leave a remarkable impression on you. He seems controlled by his own perception, a tough exterior guarding his past. Maybe he was truly just a man worn down by the mundane day to day practices of life.

"There was a time when I mistakenly believe society operated the same way, but enough of that," He silences himself, shifting the attention back to the footprints.

Itadori sighs, standing still in a slouched manner while Nanami walks ahead. A coy smile plays on your face when you see your friend wear a tired frown, "Not clicking, I see?"

"I'm not getting anything from him," He admits sourly.

You give him a weak and pinched smile and move on, looking around, "There wasn't anything on the surveillance cameras, right?"

"Right. There was only one young man aside from the victims," Nanami replies smoothly, hands behind his back.

Itadori chews on his lip, "Then a cursed spirit was behind it?"

"Well, most likely," He says while pondering, as you trail him up some stairs.

The conversation continues in the rain and he hands you and Itadori two umbrellas as you walk along the outskirts of the patio.

"There's a small chance the young man could have done it, but identifying him is the police's-"

He stops speaking suddenly, almost like his mind was fixed on something else. His head turns to the side where some seats are laid under the roof. A shadow was cast over it but it was not dark enough to conceal the fleshy creature shaking on top of it.

"Stop," Nanami commands and he holds his arm out over you, who has already packed up your umbrella and initiated a fight stance. "I'll take care of this one."

"You two take the ones over there," He gestures to the wall behind you where two creatures leaned over to observe. "If you decide you can't beat them, please call me."

Itadori sighs, "Aren't you taking us a bit too lightly here?"

"It's not a matter of underestimating you or not," Nanani fixes his tie, shifting his dark blue collar in the process. "I am an adult and the two of you are children. I have a duty to prioritise your life over my own."

You purse your lips, murmuring beneath your breath, "I'd rather you underestimate us than treat us like kids."

While your eyes are fixed on the cursed spirit in front of you, you still heed to Nanami's reply. "I know that the two of you have been in several life-threatening situations. But that does not make you an adult."

"I know! I'm not saying we are adults but you certainly parent me more than my own parents ever did," You mumble with exasperation.

Nanami continues, unsheathing the blunt sword you had noticed earlier, "Finding more fallen-out hairs on your pillow, watching your favourite stuffed bread disappear from the convenience store. The accumulation of those little despairs is what makes a person an adult."

You sigh, letting him be. Besides, if you keep arguing then maybe your childish feelings will make you distracted and get you killed.

The rain becomes more vicious. You wonder if you should drop your umbrella like Nanami; his transparent accessory lays on the ground a dozen metres besides him. Under the rivulets of water, it becomes battered.

Even as you stand beneath yours, your fingers slowly lose their grip around the handle.

It then hits you that Nanami is babbling about something to do with Cursed Technique and you swivel your head to look over at him fighting.

"Did you get any of that, [L/n]-kun, Itadori-kun?"

Itadori blinks, surprise written on his face as he wrestles with his flexible Cursed Spirit, "Huh?! You were talking to us?"

The distraction in his attention proves fatal when you watch a limb of the spirit slam against Itadori and force him into the air and at one of the metal circles on the baseball field.

"[L/n]-kun, stop standing there and fight!" Nanami jolts you back into reality and you turn, realising the spirit clawing at the space between you and it.

Blinking, you stumble back, closing your umbrella and holding it in your arm. You had subconsciously created a shield with your Cursed Energy.

The blue aura blurs against the damp sky and dark clouds rolling in but it's still there - a shield that you could conjure.

The shield gives you enough time to study your enemy. The curve of it's skeleton, protruding bones and thick, rotting skin. Sharp teeth littered it's droopy mouth and the eyes grew sinister the longer they look at you.

It was no special-grade for sure, which was a relief. You find that you can be more lazy with your approach.

Even though you had spent weeks perfecting your determination and ability in fight, the difficulty never wavered above average.

This fight would be over soon enough, if you could find the right way to kill this spirit.

Because that's the thing, the way your cursed energy was imbued into your skin, like a tattoo, meant that it was more like an extension of your mind and body. It could be whatever you needed it to be. Energy directed with the jutting sharpness of a katana or an area attack with the horsepower of a cannonball.

The Cursed Spirit can't attack you until the moment you are oblivious, until the moment it can slip through the cracks. And at the same time, you can't attack it until you have the confidence and power to kill it.

"Ow..." Itadori groans, getting to his feet. He rubs the side of his face, "Is it even okay to reveal your Cursed Technique?"

Nanami remains on high alert, having dodged every incoming attack from the four-limbed creature in front of him, "It's no problem to reveal that technique to that opponent. Also, all the better if revealing it misleads them."

You chew on the inside of your cheek, I feel like I should be listening but I wanna deal with the curse, as well.

"There is merit to it," Nanami continues and it is a wonder you can manage to pay attention while also slowly letting the Cursed Spirit claw at your own energy. ""Revealing one's hand" is a pact that increases the effectiveness of one's technique."

And then, he readies himself, enrapturing you, "Like so."

It happens so fast that you have to rub your eyes to make sure it was real. The speed, the agility, the unwavering focus...

He was on another level. The precision in his eyes was unlike anything you had ever seen. A blue aura had swirled around him and it was as if he had deciphered the right angle.

In a blur, he moves and the creature doesn't even see it coming. It slumps and falls to the ground, decaying matter oozing from it's freshly cut limbs, all of which are amputated.

Crimson drips down the blunt edge of the sword and it cuts through the air, eventually falling to the ground alongside the rain. The stream of water removes its presence, washing away the remnants of glory.

"That's all from me," Nanami concludes in a cool and calm manner.

Your eyes widen, "Sugoi..."

Not only is the blade he used all wrapped up, but he used the back of it to slice right through that thing.

"[L/n]-kun, behind you. I don't like you looking away."

"Who's the one distracting me?!" You yell out, rolling your eyes. And then, you point over to where you saw the creature last, eyes still fixed in wonder on Nanami, "Oh sensei, it can't penetrate my shield."

Nanami remains unperturbed, "You do realise that it will eat away at your shield if it is clever enough to pinpoint all of it's power into one strike spot?"

You gulp; he has a point. He was far more astute than you initially thought.

When you turn back, the space you are pointing at is empty. The Cursed Spirit's rattling tongue spits and hisses next to your ear, making your skin scrawl with shivers.

"Oh my god," You recoil, staggering back.

In that moment, you let all your thoughts consume you, as if you are inside an untouchable bubble. Your own voice reverberates, echoing across the endless space alongside the convoluted and distant voices of others.

Maki's words of advice suddenly pierce the web of panic. Fighting with your fists is cool and all but a weapon is so much better. You can imbue cursed energy into items on the fly. It all depends on how much you can control and whether you're powerful enough to handle it.

You hold up your umbrella and the tremor in your hand suddenly disappears from your mental fortitude. Your hand is as steady as the tabletop spinning for eternity. The umbrella is shrouded in a thick veil of midnight blue, the material swallowed up by such a powerful aura. It feels like the impact of whatever attack you were planning would be amplified by your sheer wit and emotion.

The creature lunges forward, lacking the sentience needed to think through it's primal attacks. You anticipate it easily. Training with Gojo has heightened all of your senses more than you previously imagined.

It unfolds in your head in slow motion but in reality, you are almost as fast as Nanami. The umbrella may be blunt but you direct your cursed energy to form a sharp line, deep enough to cut into the jugular vein. And you raise your arms and make a stroke in the air, the space around you evaporating and folding in from the explosive power.

Maybe you were channeling too much because the umbrella slams against the neck of the Cursed Spirit and the head is torn off violently. Burgundy hurries into the air like an active volcano and you hear the skull land on the ground a few metres away.

But you can't bring yourself to look at the knotted mesh of hair tangled with the flesh and blood. There was an inferno inside you, flames licking at the walls of your charred guts. An immortalised power that burnt through yourself and others.

When you turn on your heel, gasping for breath and all the energy you used, Itadori stands over the twitching corpse of the Cursed Spirit he fatally injured. A fire burns on his fist, the colour of sulphur lakes in hell, singing with painful passion. A bloodlust for power, overwhelmingly demonic.

He was channelling his Cursed Energy and it evoked a perennial war waging between his mind and body. Skin stitched together at the premise of power but supernatural aura detaching at the moment of impact.

"Itadori-kun, [L/n]-kun, don't kill the curses just yet," Nanami warns.

A little too late for that, guilt seeps venomously into your thoughts. You don't want to look back at the Cursed Spirit's corpse. It will just tell you it was real. This is real. Everything is real.

Nanami holds up his phone. An image of a torn limb on the blood-smeared floor is plastered on the screen. "Have a look at this. I took a photo of my opponent."

You notice the wristwatch on the arm. It stands out against the discoloured and rough skin, bleak and inhuman. You narrow your eyes, "Huh? I thought cursed spirits don't turn up in photos."

"Please listen calmly," He says.

You look briefly at Itadori, rivulets of water dripping down his face, tears curving his jaw. His pink hair is flattened and messy. You are equally watered down, the fabric of your school uniform sticking to your wet skin.

"What we've been fighting..."

Your dull eyes bear onto the wristwatch, a remnant of humanity on something despicably inhuman.

"They're not Cursed Spirits. They're humans, aren't they?" You choke out the uncomfortable truth. The daunting reality that hurts to think about.

No wonder you were so strongly reminded of your Mother.


Chapter Text

Through the brief slumber in the back of Ijichi's car came a meditative bliss. Your skull feels tampered with as you rest your head on the seat. The headache tells you it was time to rest someplace quiet, to ride out the storm within your brain, for in time pain does ebb. Quietly, though. Pain is somehow loud enough that it's quiet.

You exhale sharply, thinking about earlier that morning. Shoko had tried to assure you and Itadori that the human aspect of those curses had died well before you killed them. You seemed hollow at her words when she spoke over the phone but then again, your mind seems to be everywhere and nowhere at once. Thoughts overlapping each other, twisting and turning and strangling you until maybe you're no longer you, you're just... an echo of someone you want to be but can't.

Itadori blinks, leaning forwards and pointing to a figure down the street, "Is that him?"

As soon as he says this, his seatbelt snaps back into action and his spine falls back against his seat rather comically. "Ouch!" He whines, rubbing his tailbone sorely and you weakly smile; he always does this and you don't know how. He makes your lips tug with nostalgia when reminincising the beauty of this world which was something you sorely needed given how dark the nature of curses could be.

You take your eyes off him, those gentle brown eyes and sad but kind smile, and look outside of the window, taking in how dry the skies seemed. And still, they were a dark empty grey, like painted walls rather than the eye of a stormy hurricane, glossed over from years of seeing horrors. This city did seem to crawl with curses amongst other things. It was terrifyingly quiet, too. Far too quiet following the horrors of that morning.

Silence was not unfamiliar to you, just a little too wistful for your lines of thinking. It was a tranquil state just out of your reach, but you longed to listen to nothing, to banish the voices and never hear them again. They were only echoes, remnants of what was real and long gone, lost in the void of your eternally cursed mind. They were shadows that lurked in the crevices of darkness, dancing as they cackled and screamed and cried.

The boy in question, probably your age, was walking just ahead of the car. Your eyes settle on such sable blackness that drowned the strands of his hair as they mulled on the sides. Yoshino Junpei looked less of a teenager and more of a hobo given how wrinkly his clothes seemed; a bland, white shirt, brandless and bleak; baggy trousers that looked comfortable from afar. Even the way he walked, so mindless in thought as if living in that moment. You envy that feeling.

"Hm," A light murmur escapes your lips the more your eyes dwell on his figure, "Casual clothes?"

Ijichi nods, thin lips pursed as he drives. His glasses slowly fall down the ridge of his nose as he tilts his head in observation, "It looks like he hasn't attended school for some time."

"The same could be said about me," Itadori replies and then he turns to face you, "Oh, how are the others?"

Your lips twitch in a feverish smile just knowing that at this very moment that Kugisaki was probably being spun around a million times by Panda. If you listen carefully, maybe you'll hear her faint shrieking.

"They're doing well," Your response elicits a glisten in Itadori's eyes; he returns the smile, a wide one that momentarily splits his cheeks.

He looks ahead again, "So what do we do?"

Ijichi looks down at the passenger seat, "We use that."

Your eyes widen, "What the hell is that?! A cursed spirit?"

The creature hisses eerily as it's large eyes swivel from the noises. Both of it's arms were clutching the cage that traps it. The bars are lined with tape, unreadable symbols from ancient times scrawled onto the surface.

"It's a fly head," Ijichi explains, "A low-level curse that doesn't even qualify as grade 4. Once we reach a place with no people, we'll have it attack him."

"Huh?!" A crick violently rocks your neck from turning your head too fast. You remain surprised as you nurse the temporary injury, "We'll have it what? That's... that's mad."

Ijichi rolls his eyes, "There are four possible outcomes from this."

One: if he's a normal person who can't perceive curses then you and Itadori-kun can save him please.

Two: if he can perceive it, but has no means to deal with it, likewise, please save him. Then we'll question him about the day of the incident.

Three: if he exorcises the fly head with jujutsu... we'll immediately restrain him.

Itadori gulps, "By force?"

"By force," Ijichi fixes his glasses, the frame makes a click as it is pushed up his nose, "If it's a misunderstanding, that's fine. We'll apologise. However...."

Four: if Yoshino Junpei possesses jujutsu potential equal to or greater than a grade 2 sorcerer, we retreat and meet back up with Nanami-san.

"I think I can just barely handle a grade 2," Itadori murmurs while thinking, wondering how this situation was going to pan out.

"If this were a cursed spirit, yes," Ijichi sighs deeply upon seeing confusion unfurl on your face, "Fushiguro-kun must have mentioned it before but a grade 2 sorcerer would be expected to defeat a grade 2 cursed spirit. Therefore, grade 2 sorcerers have the strength of nearly a grade 1 cursed spirit."

You try and wrap your head around the measurement system, "Man... why weren't we ever told about this?!" (Maybe you spaced out when it happened. You do that an awful lot.)

Ijichi exhales, shoulders slouching as if to comment on the irresponsibility of Gojo-sensei but then, he opens the car door, "We'll get out of the car here."

Itadori purses his lips, "Feels like I have to do all the work and I don't like this," His ribcage rattles from the cold air as he breathes.

You lightly tap his shoulder, "It's okay, I can do it, Itadori-kun."

"I know you can," Itadori beams, "You're strong, [L/n]."

Itadori moves over to the opposite side of the car, his reflection cast on the starlit black. While he opens the door to retrieve the fly head, you catch a glimpse of Junpei drifting further away, idealising his life for what you perceive to be a taste of normality. You watch and you watch and you watch, until Itadori gives you the cage with a reassuring smile and you fix your attention on the beady little cursed spirit fluttering about like a twisted butterfly.

There's more to Yoshino Junpei than what meets the eye.


"Hmm," Ijichi narrows his beady eyes in trepidation behind a street lamp pole. He sneaks over on his knees, "Here we go, Itadori-kun! [L/n]-san!"

Itadori points to the side, "Time out! There's someone else here!" He says in a hushed whisper. However, at the same time, the fly head escapes from the cage in your hands and exhaling sharply, you sprint after it, leaping into the air.


You were so fixed on getting the fly head back that you didn't realise you had inadvertently let your path converge with where Junpei and the stranger were conversing. The fly head wiggles in your hands as you fly through the air. It was a sight you desperately would not be captured on film from how embarrassing it was. (You know that if Gojo-sensei was here he would definitely whip out his phone and smile for a selfie.)

And then, because nothing ever seems to go your way, you land straight on Junpei, tackling him to the ground. His eyes are more visible now that you're so close to him. The outline was faded, lost as it weaved in and between sight, like a light-hearted ghost trapped between dimensions. It was soul-wearing the more you gazed into them but you understand now.

So you can see it.

The stranger scratches the back of his head, "What? You a gymnast or something?"

You lean in, centimetres from Junpei's face, "Hey, I have some things I want to ask you about. Will you come with me?"

Junpei opens his mouth but nothing coherent comes out, just a splutter from the nervousness that wracks his expression. His mind is clustered, thoughts pressed against each other in a mad jumble, and panic arises soon after. You help him get to his feet, dusting off your skirt.

His eyes skirt around your uniform, as if examining it. Before you can get a chance to explain or apologise for being so sudden, the stranger cuts in.

"Hold on," He complains, "He and I were just talking. You're so rude!" He pulls on your shoulder and you have half a mind to not elbow him directly in the jaw for being so wild.

Shaking his grip off, you manage to regain your composure, "Uh, well, it's a rather important matter."

"An important matter?" He scoffs, "You're just a kid! What's so important? And what kind of uniform is--"

And then, something happens that you did not most certainly expect. Itadori appears from thin air, as if waiting for the perfect moment to ambush and pulls down the stranger's trousers.

"Itadori?!" You put your hand to your mouth, choking back a sudden laugh. While you double over, the man looks like he could die from the embarrassment, "What are you doing, you brat?!"

"Stop! Stop it!" But you watch on as Itadori tugs on the hem of the greyish trousers and then pulls them completely off the man, leaving him on the street with nothing but those american rose underpants.

You feel Itadori take your hand; his touch is familiar now. He always holds your hand to help calm your nerves and you do the same. "Let's go, [L/n]-san!"

And he tugs at you, running off into the distance and you follow in pursuit. The pair of trousers are ruffled from the gust of wind that follows in your wake. You laugh like you're laughing for infinity. The giggle was an auditory hug. It wends its way through the summer air and for a moment, you lock eyes with Junpei.

Itadori doesn't even break a sweat but you're almost on par with him now from all the track practice back in school. That punishment set by Coach to run 30 laps seems to have paid off after all. You turn the corner sharply with him, having skidded along the hugging tarmac to catch up with him.

"Okay, now, let's go!" He returns to Junpei casually. You huff a little behind him, catching your breath.

Junpei displays shock on his face, "Huh?! That was fast! You already ran that entire lap?!"

"Yep," Itadori sticks his hands in his pockets calmly while you follow.

Junpei lets his hands fall to his sides, fingers gently playing with the outside of his trousers, "You could have just dragged me away," He says sheepishly.

Itadori walks around, "Well, sure."

"But you hate that guy, don't you?" You say suddenly and you watch Junpei's expression change.

He looks embarrassed, "How did you..."

You smile a little, fiddling with your fingers, "Just a hunch. Oh, was I wrong?"

"You're not wrong," Junpei admits, looking a little weathered. He seems straightforward and relatively innocent. A curtailed innocence hangs about his small figure.

"You don't want someone you hate loitering in front of your home forever, right?" Itadori scratches the back of his head, "Let's head over there for a while."

He starts walking off in the direction he points at, leaving a stunned Junpei standing on the street next to you. You pat his shoulder, noticing how stiff his spine seemed to be and how young he was too, "It's ok, Emo. We're not gonna hurt you."

He tilted his head, one of his pale hands reaching to press his fingers against his cheek, "Okay..." The dark bags under his eyes refused to disappear and he twitched, thinking about all the possibilities.

You clutch the fly head in your hands with a shaky breath, "It's been a long day, Junpei-san. Let's just get this over with."

Chapter 17: LOST IN HELL

Chapter Text

The sky is eerily similar to the weather on the day of Mother's death. It was peaceful but it doesn't evoke that sense of serenity most know. You know, the kind of peace one receives in weary eyes as they gaze out at the prairie on the porch of their home. It was the kind of peace that slowly and silently destroys you. The brief tranquility that your body absorbs when you feel yourself sinking into the earth, a natural grave being dug out by God's hands.

Junpei's eyes have a slight warmth to them as they reflect the glint of the afternoon sun. You're sitting on the steps down to the river bank with him and Itadori, laughing about movies. He reminds you of yourself, but more or less the old you, the girl that was far too naïve and knee-deep in a world she will never understand, stuck in a society that won't care for her. You think you can call Junpei a new-found friend, especially since he also agrees that Human Bloodworm 2 was far better than Human Bloodworm 3 (you had been trying to explain this to Gojo-sensei for weeks but he thought you were out of your mind.)

"Here's our contact info," Itadori smiles, handing his phone over and pointing to his and your number. Your smile is a little fragile, maybe you're just somewhat tense, but you watch Junpei's eyes rove and pass over your uniform again. He knows something, you think, but what it is, I can't determine. The swirled buttons? The emblem on your uniform that you don't even recognise yourself?

Junpei looks at the phone, something secretive lurking beneath his mildly surprised expression. He knows something! You purse your lips. Maybe... even someone. You haven't known him for long, not even for an entire day, but you can read him like a book and you know every thought in his head is being backed up by the voice of another, like across the last three days he's been under guise of a shadow.

Then suddenly, a voice breaks whatever still ice had formed between the three teenagers. "Oh, Junpei?" Everyone turns and a woman stands at the top of the stairs, looking back at you.

Junpei's lips twitch into a warm smile, "Mum."

Your eyes linger on this woman and you feel irresistibly jealous. Jealous because your own mother was six feet under. She seems friendly and laid-back, the softness tucked in her eyes tells you she cares deeply for her son.

"It's unusual to see you out here," She notes and then her pink lips stretch into a lovely smile, "Are these your friends?"

"We just met, actually," Junpei admits, standing up to look back at his mother.

Itadori grins, "We may have just met, but I think the three of us can be friends!"

Junpei's mother lifts her hand, "Really? I hope you get along well, then."

A cigarette rested in between thin fingers, her eyes cast into a pool of deep thought. Junpei's mother watched the end of the cancer stick fizzle from the lowly burning fire of sorts, her attention turned briefly to the thin smoke that was webbed into the air around her, slowly lost. In doing so, she seemed so carefree. You like that feeling, that feeling of being free. She instantly strikes you as an amazing mother.

But then, her son's expression changes entirely, hardening as if frustration outlined his features, "Mum! I asked you..." He looks down, his hands balling into fists by his sides. "...to quit smoking."

"Oh, right, gomen!" She pockets the cancer stick in a purple purse, "I did promise not to smoke in front of you anymore." She walks down the steps towards you guys, a graciously sweet smile pressed on her lips, "What are your friends' names?"

Itadori immediately gets up, "Itadori Yuuji!" He swings his arm around your shoulder, "And this is [L/n] [F/n]."

"The green onion doesn't suit your look," You laugh a little, noting the grocery bag tucked on her arm.

Junpei's mother seems enviously relaxed and playful, "Oh, you can tell? I'm trying to be a woman who doesn't look good with green onions." She steps forwards, lifting her grocery bag, "So, Yuuji-kun, [L/n]-chan, care to join us for dinner?"

The sound of Itadori's stomach rumbling tells you what his response is going to be. And you already like this family so you'll tag along. Besides, free dinner? You're not going to pass up on that.


The Yoshino family home was the scent of sweet lemongrass and vanilla diffusers, masking the aroma of sticky gin. You had already kicked off your sneakers and helped set the table, sitting alongside Junpei, his mother and Itadori. You admire this feeling that bleeds and swallows up your heart in this moment, the feeling of "home", of eternity and of light.

Itadori has this uncanny ability to make any situation better and you like this about him, the way he repairs a damaged soul, the way he makes you feel happy.

You're laughing so hard that your rib cage hurts, the fits of giggles being like ripples in a still pond after a stone has been thrown in. Junpei's mother hugs a half-empty can of beer as she descends into a puddle of laughter, also finding Itadori's humour hilarious.

Both you and Itadori had spent the last half an hour telling back-and-forth tales of childhood mishaps and more, easing the tension from earlier and imbuing a sense of peace into this lovelorn family.

"And then? Junpei's mother asks, leaning in.

Itadori's face is pink from all the blushing and giggles, "So then Takashi-kun says, full of confidence... This is the larva of an invasive species! It might be poisonous! Nobody touch it! So then I tried picking it up and it turned out to be konjac noodle from lunch!"

Junpei looks less than pleased, if anything, gobsmacked at how much his own mother is laughing. She waves her hands, "Wait, konjac? It was a konjac noodle?!"

"Mum, you've had too much to drink," He deadpans.

This itself would later be made true when night falls and Junpei's mother falls asleep at the dining table, letting Junpei put a blanket over her. The three of you had been playing charades, laughing over Itadori's impression of Cast Away and more.

It was the first time you had heard Junpei laugh and it made you feel strangely happy.

"Your mum's really nice," You mumble, hands behind your back as you fiddle with them.

Junpei smiles at his mother briefly before turning to face you and Itadori. "What are your mothers' like?" He asks.

Itadori blanks, "Uh, I've never met her. Though I have a few faint memories of my father." He looks away, scratching his head, "I had my grandpa to be there for me, though."

You look down with a small voice, "My mother's dead. And... my father's back home," You feel your phone buzz in your skirt's pocket, "Oh, sorry, I have a call."

"Moshi, moshi, Ijichi-san," You still have traces of a faint smile, as though Junpei's laugh was infectious.

Ijichi sounds scared out of his mind. "How are you?! What's happening?! Are you dead?!"

"Mm, yeah, We're fine..."

"Stay put, I'm coming to get you two! Don't die! Wait... get out of there if he tries to kill you!"

"But we're about to watch a movie!" You laugh, thinking about the movie you chose.

"So... you're not in any danger? Do you want me to come later?"

"Yeah, sure. Two hours from now, then."

"Two hours?!--" Ijichi screams in horror but the line disconnects.

When you put down the phone, Junpei is staring at you, "You two are jujutsu sorcerers, right?"

"...Yeah," Itadori says, which makes you mentally facepalm yourself. Should he have said that?

Junpei's voice is mellow and sad, so soft that it makes you sleepy, "Have you...ever killed someone?"

You look back and see Junpei staring at the television, remote control in his hand.

Itadori's answer is blunt, "No."

You don't reply, feeling your throat clog up from just trying to form the answer. Was it guilt that tugged at you? You know logically you have never killed anyone but you know what it is to "kill" and you have seen Mother's corpse rolling in the back of your labyrinthe mind enough times to know that it was you who got her killed. You caused her death. You, you, you.

But, you remain silent, the expression on your face goes unnoticed, scowling, bitterness, like you had just sucked on a lemon. The memories of the past are like a man driving a knife through your chest. Something within your heart tugs; you're not sure what it is but it fills your throat in the middle of the night, fills your lungs and your mouth. You are drowning and you cannot swim to the surface of your own guilt.

"But someday you'll have to fight bad jujutsu sorcerers, right?" Junpei lifts a CD from it's cover, holding it gently in his soft hands. "What will you do then?"

Itadori exhales, still standing in the same place, "I still wouldn't want to kill them."

"Why not? They're bad people?"

You start to feel your stomach twisting inside of you, threatening to split in half and spill your guts all over the floor. You have a look in your eyes that is of heavy guilt and fear. It doesn't belong on your face and it scares you.

They're... bad... people. You repeat slowly, straining your thoughts. Was your mother a bad person? Was that that why she was killed? Why you repressed all those awful memories except the one memory that seems to rot within you, eat you from within. That image of her skeletal remains, devoured hope and more.

"It's like... I just think, if I killed anyone, the option of killing would force its way into my life. The value of life would become ambiguous. I wouldn't even understand the importance of those I care about anymore. And that scares me."

And that scares me. Doesn't it scare us all?


Chapter Text

You remember it still, the image of murder screaming so loudly inside his eyes that you felt your insides turned out at such inhuman glory. He had said it himself, "The next words that spilled from my lips came from so deep within my gut that it nearly made all the things I've ever said feel like a lie."

And the blood.

There was so much blood.

You don't know if you regret it or not, staying behind with Ijichi, listening and heeding to Nanami's orders because being a child is not a sin. But then again, Itadori didn't listen. Does he ever listen? Maybe only to you because...well, it's you.

In the perilous darkness, you wish you told him to stay.

Although, you're a fool for thinking that. You've always been a fool. Too naive to even think about the darkness to come, too bliss-heavy with that tongue as you laugh along in the small speck of happiness. Not going to that high school doesn't change what happened.

Just because you didn't go doesn't mean Junpei never dies.

'Cuz Junpei Yoshino is dead. And nothing you can do will change that.

It was already terrible having to stand in that cemetery and hold back tears in front of a grey slab, Nagi Yoshino etched onto it with such forlorn. It was already painful to hold Junpei's cold hand as he hugs the collar of his mother's black jacket because it's the only black clothing in the house.

You were already hurting, so why do people have to make it worse?

Why must every waking moment feel like a forcefed lie by the cold touch of a god? One hand hugging you with almighty wisdom and the other driving a knife through your heart.

Nanami's expressionless eyes elicit a silent sort of pain, the kind that aches for too long, a strain on the heart, a crack in the wall. He had returned with that somber expression, specks of blood staining his business suit, and he had looked at you.

He looked at you.

No, don't say it - don't say it. (Because if you say it then it's true. Because Junpei isn't here with you.)

His lips part and the ringing in your ears swallows you up and you close your eyes to feel the darkness, the darkness that is the only thing Junpei knows. You can't hear them - Itadori, Nanami, Ijichi.

But you know as you reopen your weary eyelids that Junpei's crying expression weeps in the reflection of Nanami's eyes when he explains what unfolded, what went down.

And hours later, the truth is hard to digest. Probably because the truth comes in the form of slinking in the morgue silently behind Shouko, eyes staring at the rows of mottled bodies on slabs in the morgue, veiled by sheets of reflective black plastic.

You are still and unmoving like a light-hearted ghost trapped in one place, eyes greyed from reflecting on the events from today. Thoughts blur inside the cave of your mind, smeared between the thumb and index finger of some violent piety. You can't decide yet about anything, if you're (not) fine, if you're angry or sad, if you're mad at Itadori or mad at yourself.

Your knuckles are white from how hard you grip the metal handle, nails digging earnestly into your palms, gentle crescent-shaped marks left as a patient bruise. There's even a slight tremor within you, the slightest mess of mania, a hurricane threatening to tear you apart from the inside out.

Everything burns. It burns so much. It's killing you slowly. Not the pain, not the anger, but the curses. You want to kill so badly that it's poisoning all your thoughts, whispers of the devil are cunningly tricking you. You need to kill that "patchwork" described by Nanami. That murderer. That curse.

Your hands are shaking just thinking about Junpei's last moments. He died.


Itadori, however, sways gently like a breeze. Yet, he is eerily quiet and uncharacteristically empty. You've never seen him like this, so hollow, so in pain, so much like you.

That's what makes this unlucky tranquility between the two of you so unnatural. He's the daydreaming sunshine, the optimistic do-gooder, the action-movie junkie with a penchant for justice. And you're the socially anxious sleuth, the morally ambigious teenager that's tired of everything. You crash with him like a tidal wave but that's what makes it so worth it, so fun to be around him.

But now, there is no wave, no breeze to hurry the current, nothing to move the water. It's like you and him are standing on the surface of a still lake, dead water with even deader air and stark trees dotting the outskirts. It's empty.

It's so empty. Who knew being hollow was so draining?

He breaks the silence first, eyes swallowed up by the darkness of the dimly lit room, "I'm sorry." His breaths are shallow, voice low; out of the corner of your eye, you see his chest rise and die.

What hurts the most is the way he looks at you. The cautious gaze and small, nervous smile, like he's the one who is at fault, who killed Junpei.

But he didn't! He really didn't!

Slowly, your head turns, silent and almost dead-like; such a denuded expression like you want to walk away from all of this. You're too raw and exhausted to hold back your tears and you start crying in front of him.

"Please don't apologise," You flinch at your own words, blinking back the image of Junpei, "You're the one who went... I should have gone with you... but I didn't... I'm sorry."

"I don't think Junpei would be happy if his death drove us apart," Itadori says weakly. "Not that it is. I wanted him to have a proper death."

There is just a moment, a split second where you heard a sad twinge in his voice that reminds you of that night in Junpei's house, when he talked about his mother.

You bite your lip, turning the other cheek, "It's not fair."

"What is?"

"This. This... life," You choke out a sob, tears pricking at the corners of your eyes. Your heartbeat slows, stops pounding in your ears, and in the silence, you hear the quietest of your thoughts and part your lips to whisper it, "Is it bad I want to kill them? Kill them all?"

A soft sigh, "I don't know what you want me to tell you, [L/n]."


Gojo-sensei is waiting for you in the corridor outside your dorm. You had thought him to be on a highly important trip for the last day or two so it's a great surprise to see that familiar face of his. You see, Nanami had called him.

He had called Gojo-sensei as soon as he came back and it turned out, maybe you're easy to read because this was a fail-safe, a back-up they had. Because Gojo-sensei knows you, knows how you react and maybe he predicted it; that's why he's there.

It wasn't long ago that he had said it himself, that if things got too overwhelming you would be sent back home but that felt intangibly useless. It didn't feel like a daunting reality. Not until now.

You've been crying, eyes and nose flushed red and tear tracks still drying on your face. The despondent look on your face momentarily melts into a tranquil, relieved expression and you stagger towards Gojo-sensei.

"You're back early," You muse, playing with a strand of your hair to keep your hands occupied. You don't want it to be noticable how much they are shaking.

Gojo-sensei seems so unlike himself, plagued by something that no mortal could begin to comprehend. He steps forward, hands still in his pockets, something short of a weak smile twitching at his thin lips.

"I'm sorry, kid," He says and you can feel his gaze on you. It's not sharp but blissfully soft, comforting in a way like a blanket that rolls over you in one go. "Nanami filled me in."

You lift your head, forcing yourself to look at him and with a shaky breath, you whisper, "Gojo-sensei, why do people die?"

It's a stupid question really, is what you curse yourself in the moment after but you have to ask it. It's the kind of question a toddler or a young child might ask but you think long and hard about your life and realise that you need to know. You must know.

Why do people die? What is it about death? Why can we kill each other?

Death is so uncaring when it snatches everyone away from you. It renders the living limp and makes their bones rattle at their limited time, forces them to quench their desires for immortality and indulge in chasing meaning in a meaningless life.

Gojo-sensei doesn't answer your question, merely sighing. (Maybe he doesn't know the answer to that either. Maybe he's chasing it just like you.)

"Masamichi-sensei and I both think it's best if you take a leave of absence for the next few days. Use the weekend to recuperate."

You bite your lip. Am I weak?

No, no, your mother whispers as she shoves the image of Junpei's wintry smile into your irises, you're just fragile, my buttercup.

"A break from school huh," Even your words seem so lifeless, so devoid of emotion. You feel like the devil has reached into your throat just like when Sukuna clamped up your neck; the skin on your body is numb and cold.

Gojo-sensei seems sad. Is that the right word to use? To use for a man like him? But then again, he uses his happiness to hide many things. He inhales, looking out into the distance, "You're going home, [F/n]. You're going back to Sendai."

Chapter 19: OBSERVE

Chapter Text

Your father is. . . something. What he is, well, you don't quite know — don't want to know.

Perhaps in the same way as you did with the memories of your mother, bequeathing your glossy eyes was a mirror of blurred memories. Maybe you wanted this to hurt, drawn to the disaster that expanded inside your crushed soul. Because you know well what kind of person you are, what kind of person your father was and is — he's split in two and showed you time and time again so maybe you did notice.

Maybe you did notice, little by little, how your life was fractured.

Beer bottles on the coffee table.

Dead flowers on the pathway.

Relentless rain on car windows.

Dead bodies and more.

All your fears seem to dissolve on your tongue just sourly thinking about it — the heartache that mended only to break. The way your life was a bullet train filled with never-ending screams and nails digging into skin and twitching envy. And then there's that awful train wreck, almost like you're standing idly by and watching it unfold. You're watching everything waste away pitifully, unable to look away because...

Because it's so, what? Beautiful? Intriguing? Heart-breaking?

The time on the train back to Sendai gave you time you wish you gave away. The past has a way of healing all your scars, yet the memory of your home only inflicts deeper ones onto your father's. Do you understand it now? Why Father's hands shook when he brushed dirt over the make-shift grave, why his eyes seemed so dead as he sat in front of the television, why he looked behind his shoulder when night crawls into the sky.

He, himself, was drowning, pulled into the current of her sea — Mother— trapped in a riptide that dragged him further and further from the shore, from the comforting bliss and ignorance. Oh to think that you could wash your guilt and pain away, wash away the existence of curses. Just thinking about them blights your mind like the foul stench of alcohol.

Ah, didn't you make that mistake too? Blindly taking Itadori's hand and admiring this world at first, the disconnection from safety, the saccharine peach of danger. The honey that you were addicted to, the adrenaline fizzling and going haywire in your veins, the scramble to safety, that feeling when you look into the eyes of a curse... it's all replaced with venom. The good memories are painted over with black and drip in ebony at the back of your mind, clawing for escape, to spill that horror into the world; no matter how hard you try, running away from all of this, you cannot escape something that is inherent. You cannot escape yourself.

You're fidgeting with your fingers now, unmoving eyes watching the environment blur away out of the window, the minutes up to the stop, mind deteriorating the more you drag yourself to think about the past.

No matter how hard you try, how many times you dream and dream, you can't change it — Hell, you can barely remember it. Who your Mother was.

A chill circles your body much like a hug devoid of warmth, an unsettling reminder of your past; she used to wrap you in that word... what was it? What did she like to call you?


And she'd tie the bow with a gentle whisper: I love you.

A present, a sacrifice.

You feel your lips tremble, just thinking about the aftermath... the empty bedroom and the silent, weeping house. Good things never last, you had told yourself once, slugging upstairs when you heard your father throw a vase onto the ground in the kitchen. So why did I think she would?

It's so easy to play pretend when you can repress this sort of sh*t, to act like the world isn't crumbling around you, sweep it under the carpet with a broomstick you will snap in two. You held her hand as it collapsed, wondering if death was bad. (You decided it was bad.)

Junpei whispers, it's very, very bad.

The train conductor's voice shatters the disillusioned thoughts and for a split-second, you idly return to reality, gently turning your head to see Gojo-sensei nodding off as he slumbers. It's a rare moment where that blindfold of his seems to have loosened as his head droops.

You tried to push him away, but that didn't quite work. Was it to protect you or him?

When he said that you were going back home for a few days, you most certainly didn't expect him to drop you off.

"I'm sorry, Gojo-sensei," You murmur, resting your chin on the palm of your hand as you look sadly out of the window, wanting to dream of something poetically familiar. I'm sorry, for failing you.

And then, you hear him shuffle, a lazy voice poking out, surprising you greatly, "You haven't failed yet," He mumbles, as if he had subconsciously read your mind.

Your lips remain pursed in deep thought for the rest of the journey.


Your home seems so average, so undelightfully mundane.

From first glance, it would be unlikely anyone could figure out that your mother was buried just half a mile behind, her feelings fading with her corpse as skin rotted away, the love for you and Father did too. And then, when bones became the only reminder of her existence on this earth, you alongside everyone, would be stick with knowing who she was and what she did because you're starting to piece it together.

You're standing in the hallway — Mother died here — and Father leans in the doorway to the living room. Gojo-sensei is gone and the air is dead, weighing you down more than your suitcase and backpack. You feel the stare: the voice without words — naive, foolish, inferior. Because what were you thinking, hm? Going off to fight curses like that?

Did you discard reality because you so desperately wanted to escape her? Mother? There is no emotion in death, merely and simply memories, and that has made it so much more worse.

Father looks different. He looks worse. Did your absence dwell on him?

Great, now you feel more guilty.

The air is webbed with that familiar scent of liquor and Father feels like he's swaying unmajestically. You've learnt well over the course of six years just how sharp the murder of alcohol goes. An alcoholic does harm the same way a firework of razor blades would — unconsciously and without comprehension of the vile damage they do. The damage to him and the damage to you.

Despite his efforts to keep you out of it, to push you away, you still feel caught in the crossfire. Because you're still there in that pitiful house, day in and day out when school is over and life still f*cking goes on even when Mother died — just because you're quiet doesn't mean you're not there. And you watch that man waste away and watch those beer bottles dull the pain, dull and dumb down even joy, even self-control.

Where did he go? Where did the man before The Incident go?

As your eyes look wearily at Father, you realise you've forgotten him already, forgotten everything good and everything bad, and everything and anything you would ever want to know. Maybe you know it subconsciously, but he still feels like a stranger and it hurts.

Grey dust lies cold in an ashtray by the window ledge.

"That's new," Your lips curl with distaste, realising you'd have to deal with flecks of cold flakes and sticks of death.

Even his voice sounds different — more sad, "I'll quit, soon enough."

You sigh, and after rubbing your forehead sorely, you lift your head and look glumly at Father, "Do you want me to clean up the house? I imagine my room hasn't been touched for a while."

Your eyes linger on his gruff attire, the wrinkled, baggy shirt and trousers, the ones he practically lives in because he lives off the unemployment pension. The two of you are basically screaming it.

You know, the HELP ME scream. The PLEASE, MAKE ALL MY PROBLEMS GO AWAY look in your eyes. Two people standing in that dusty hallways, tears wanting to stream down cheeks, a brief exchange of malevolence just at the remembrance of lips stained red with the blood of a bleeding heart — beaten and broken.

And then, those tears bleed an inferno.

You straighten your spine, "Dad? Did you hear me?"

His cloudy eyes seem to drip with sanguine, words turning to dust on his tongue; the alcohol seems to divide him inside. Mix those feelings like water and wine, and one will take over the other inevitably. "Yeah, yeah! Uh, I'll clear everything... downstairs... make yourself at home, kiddo. It's good to see you."

He steps forwards, hands gently trapped in that typical tremor, the shake of a drunk, almost like he's twitching at warmth, unsure of wanting to hug you.

You blink, doing the same, and because you know your father won't ever bring himself to do it (and yet he's still a stranger), you pull him into one of those fragile, awkward hugs. You know, those hugs where you're afraid and you're uncertain and empathy feels so far away.

When you release, you turn sharply on your heel and hurry up the stairs, pinching your nose to disguise that stench of alcohol, leaving your father downstairs in an ocean of his unsorted feelings.


Everything is one big hellfire.

Family photographs drowning and burnt in the holy water of untold memories like every ounce of pain in the years to come was worth it. Dust gathering everything and everywhere in a soul-shattering manner and no one's there to pick up the pieces when you watch the specks of dust float down merrily like fake snowflakes — false hope. Untouched wardrobes and cold clothes that have never know the scorch of skin and brightness of confidence, the flame by flame of a foggy mind.

Everywhere you go, it stares you right in the face and you kind of understand it now, why your Dad went crazy, why he fell into a pit of despair, used alcohol as a crutch. Because you can't escape it! She's everywhere.

Because Mother died in this house and she lived in this house and she existed and why can't you move on. Why can't you whack your head against the shower wall and let amnesia wash away all of this?

The tears lodge in your throat just wanting to confront the past, unspoken words left bitter on your tongue that unfathomable solitude. Misery loves company, but hatred loves to be alone.

You seem to effortlessly glide down the stairs without a single sound, almost as if your mind had remembered all the creaks and croaks, which steps made what sounds. And when you pass by the unpacked luggage, you stand on the cold wooden floor in the same clothes with a mournful expression, like happiness is slipping through your fingers like sand.

The sun's out. There's are roses oddly growing outside your window on the side of the house. The windows are open now and all the stuffy air seems to be filtered out like draining a colander.

You keep telling yourself all these terrible things — it makes you narrow-minded. It makes you grieve for the loss of someone who isn't gone (you) but the part of them that you loved is. (Maybe that's you sh*t-talking yourself.)

And you inhale with a shaky breath because you need a reason to smile today. You need a reason. Anything. Give me anything, please.

And you hear Father's voice coming from the kitchen and you walk past the sofas littered with things and the television that buzzes in the background with the local news (Sendai Gymnasium opened yesterday), and you walk right into his arms.

He's at the table and he puts on a smile and for once, you smile back. It's that weak, unsure smile you give because you're reserved and nervous. And he's smiling like he's scared, like he's trying hard, like he wants to be hopeful.

Be hopeful that hey! Everything is going to turn out okay. (Because in the movies, it always does.)

And you see why; scrambled eggs for dinner. Just like what he used to do when Mother worked long nights. It's the easiest and best dinner one can fix.

They aren't the same, but like you would expect the exact thing.

You see he's made more than enough for the two of you and he's set the table — fork, knives, glasses (of juice).

"Dinner?" You quirk your eyebrows, asking the obvious.

He nods, squirming in nervousness as he awaits your assent, "I wanted to make something special because it's the first time you've visited since... since you started going to that magic school."

Magic school, you stifle a chuckle; he never failed to make you laugh lightly.

"I'm sorry, by the way," You say as you start cutting up dinner with your cutlery. (You say 'I'm Sorry' an awful lot, hm.) "I know you don't approve of it."

You didn't want to ruin this small, nice moment but you just had to bring it up — you needed to bring it up. Part of coming home was to stop shutting the monsters and bad memories in the closet and address all the horrible things that rot unforgivingly in your head at all times. Those things include, but are not limited to: Mother, her death and the [L/n] clan.

Father sighs — it's so long and drawn out that it makes you think he's struggling to slur his words together. Maybe it's because he's itching for a drink. "No, I should be apologising," He says finally, "I didn't want you to end up like... like your mother. I can't lose you too, [F/n]."

"I... I can't lose you either," You whisper in response, "It's why... I don't like to see you like this. Like you've lost yourself within your own echoes."

He gulps, putting his hands on the table surface, ignoring their slight shaky outlines, "Please, [F/n]. Please, you need to understand... God, you were so young. I don't why I didn't do anything. I would have done something if I knew..."

"Knew what?" You narrow your eyes, listening to his voice warble and waver as he wails.

And then, Father looks you dead in the eyes, a lifeless, dark stare, the unwanted and terrifying truth that makes the mind battle to stay sane, "Your mother was not the best person in the world, [F/n]. I don't want to break that image and memory you have of her but it's ... it's the truth."

Your grip tightens like iron around your utensils, "She... she... How can you say that? You spend all your time getting drunk and now smoking! You have no right to criticise her life!"

"I know."

His response momentarily stuns you — he doesn't deny it. He doesn't deny his abyssal despair, but maybe at the same time, he doesn't want to confront it, perhaps that being the reason why he hoards Mother's photograph alongside a pint of gin.

Father lowers his head, his voice cracking, "I know... I couldn't face you. I was so ashamed. I'm destroying myself as if it will do anything. I know that what I do doesn't solve everything, that she is still dead. Because I buried her with these hands, do you understand? Please forgive me, [F/n]."

You let your food go cold, kicking your chair away and ignoring the squeaky sound it makes as you walk over to the other side of the table and wrap your arms around your father.

"I forgive you," Your words are almost lost, so quiet and it scurries away in the dead air of the house. Just as you forgave me, for following Mother's footsteps.

The evening goes by delightfully slow and beautifully, as if all that tension seemed to have been resolved as you sit cross-legged on the sofa next to your father, laughing because that old TV show you used to watch as a kid was doing reruns.


In the night, it was frightening to be alive. There was something spine-chilling about knowing outside of your window was an ebony sable blackness that rocketed the skies and crawled along the surfaces of almost everything, casting that untainted shadow. It's the kind of black that could throw a mind into free-fall in only more sense were to be removed.

That's probably why you were still awake even at the dead of night. The fear of drifting into nothingness, latching onto the past which stares at you with such menace, blurs together as you struggle to sleep.

And just when you press your eyelids shut to dream of something fantastically unattainable, you have to open them again. There's a shuffling sound downstairs, retreating footsteps and then... the back door opens.

You hear it, the sound as clear as day, the sound of... water splashing?

Swinging your legs over your bedside and getting to your feet, you lean on the ledge of the nearest window in your bedroom, practically pressing your face against the window.

And then you see why.

Father has a plastic bag in his hand and a bottle of gin in another. A secret, late-night drink? You scoff, if you want to drink, you don't have to hide it from me. I know your habits, Dad.

But he doesn't drink. Instead, he tilts the glass bottle at an angle and the liquor sloshes out and all over the grass. The bottle clinks with a light hollow sound, like he's trying to not wake you up but it's too late, and you realise he's emptying it. Emptying everything.

And you watch, watch him empty every bottle. Until that plastic bag is dropped in the outdoor bin and he returns empty-handed.

When you go to sleep, you find yourself lightly smiling just thinking about how much your Father tries to do for you. Because if he can do it, then so can you.

Chapter 20: BURY IT DEEPER

Chapter Text

You have this very specific image of your mother in your head.

Warm eyes that teeter with this placid hue, the colour of a sultry sky when daylight peeks out. This quiet, rare smile, reserved for few and the edges of her lips feel gently bent when that sheen of laughter glistens. The hugs, the bedtime stories, the singing in the kitchen.

And then her convulsing body, skeleton jumping in and out, limbs twitching and eyes gaunt. The death rattle swallows up her voice, removing the last words. And then, she is gone. Out like a flame before it had even been lit. She'd be slumbering if the warm blood coated her like a blanket.

It wasn't always like that. Smiles, forehead kisses, chin-on-shoulder hugs.

Sukuna had shown you that there was someone else. Clear tears glistening with the disdain of the person you were becoming, removing all the memories of your old self.

You're standing outside of her room — Mother's room — and you feel like you're crumbling. A cold hand on an equally cold door and the carpet feels like it's peeling back layers of your psyche with brittle bones. Skin hanging on by that one never-ending thought, that scream that doesn't stop.

One memory and you're falling, falling into a pit of words you can't say, words that remain trapped behind clenched teeth and bitten lips — the truth... it's the truth, right? You know she was misunderstood, that she saw those things, those curses, too .

It feels like your mother was a flower of death, a red spider lily webbing you into it's petals, and when you clamber to escape, you fall down the curve back into the pit of the bud. A laugh from her is the most alive you've ever felt.

The weight of love is heavy; it is the most exquisite form of self destruction. You know in order to face the next day that you have to destroy what you already have.

So you open the door. You open it.

The past screams inside your head the moment your foot touches the creaking wood and you feel like you've been torn apart before you even knew how to sew. And the dust that gathers like faint, fake little snowflakes is just a reminder your seams are all jagged and you're stuck with crooked edges.

Everything's still, blank and unseeing, wading through this candid portrait of a perfect stare and nothing moves except you, slow shuffles moving dust. It's unbearable how the world moves on after death. You can weep your ichor, love one like a death wish, but love and death only rot on earth — the pretence of an eternal emotion gives us false hope.

You don't like how it feels like six years never happened. Twist that time around your wrist like metal chains on a braclet, listening to clinks and cries and watch souls wade and burn. Six years and this room is strange. It was your parents' room but you know that after Mother died your Father moved to the guest room, not literally, and not physically. He'd moved in a state of mind, sunken to the seabed of the ocean that was grief. He'd let terrible things pierce his breath and choke him until he pretended that room didn't exist anymore.

Maybe it was the liquor that did him in, hug a bottle of gin and grin when it clinks because he can pretend it's two and not one and not him and not her.

You suppose a similar case ensued with you; you mirrored that glazed look in his eyes, blotted out that door as if it was a painting, smeared it over and waited until it dried. Then it was non-existent. Gone. Just like her.

Until now.

Mother smiles, until now.

You know what you're looking for — not redemption, vengance or justification. Could you justify it? The thoughts and theories bleeding into crevices, the poppies to the dreaming brain. Sukuna's voice bites and snarls and he hisses over and over again; I used to let your family carry my blood.

No, no, no, no. A knife down the middle and the blood washes over. No, no more.

His lips curl like he's unsatiated, I can interact with you because at some point in your pitiful and weak life, you drank my blood.

Is that what you're looking for here? Inside wooden drawers and in the shadows under the bed. Blood? Sukuna's blood. Evidence that he wasn't telling a lie that you ate up so quickly?

Such a shame though, because you find it. You find everything that you needed and nothing you wanted.

The diary was hard to get. Up on the top of the wardrobe, in a special little wooden box, symbols engraved on the sides with this potent elegance. Old and frail, it trembled gently in your hands. Remnants of bloody handprints hug the rough cover, blotches of red that have dried across the century.

Inside, you recognise your Mother's handwriting instantly. The way she dotted her i's and crossed her t's were always so precise, so delicate as if she was worried about snapping the pen in half with her soft hands. Her words are sprawled across dozens of pages, mix and matches, blurs and clears — essentially half-truths and half-lies.

You're reading and reading and reading and you can feel your legs aching so you collapse to the floor, bare knees rubbing against wooden boards. Maybe you would have been reading forever were it not for the fact that you heard your phone's ringtone kill the dead air in the room.

Fushiguro's name blinks back in the darkness that suddenly swallowed up everything and you accept his call, wondering when you had seen him last. Part of you was shrouded in this guilty feeling about neglecting your friends, being a bad friend yourself, making them mad at you. You wonder if everything you do makes them not want to be your friend. A ripple caused from one thing. You chase it and chase it and try to stop it before it reaches them but it always reaches them — always.

"Megum— oh, I mean... Fushiguro-kun!" Something stirs within you, a wave crashing upon your face, like salty water fills your lungs so you can never say the words you want to say.

"You can call me Megumi," You can tell by his tone that he's nervous — he never struck you as one to call. Text maybe, but calling seems too extroverted for either of you. "How are you... [F/n]?"

You look around, inhaling sharply, suddenly reeling from the coldness of the room, as if all the warmth was leached out at the penchant of your misery. Your thoughts leave all at once, throwing and crushing your mind to the ground, used and suffocating — yet no one's hands are wrapped around your throat. The anxiety tugs at sultry lips, threatening a white lie.

Oh, I'm doing just fine, Megumi! Absolutely fine. Hey, do you wanna hear about how self-destructive my mother was? No? Aww, maybe next time.

You feel like you're going to throw up; the book flies out of your hand, a thud on a ground when it stirs dust and lands out of shaking hands.

"I... I'm getting by, I guess," You shrug, leaving the book on the ground, watching your hands start to shake. "It's kind of weird being home after a while," You chuckle a little — light, temporary laughter to choke the life out of you.

You hear silence on his end, and then, "Take your time... by the way. The break is for your own good, right? The Kyoto Exchange is in two days."

"Oh yeah, the Exchange Event..." Your lips purse, "I think I'm still taking part in it. Well, I'd still like to take part in it. I really want to try testing out my fighting skills. I never really get a chance to show off like you."

"Show off?" He seems baffled which elicits a laugh from you, "I've barely done anything."

Even if he can't see you, you still smile, smile in that dead, empty room where your legs might come crashing down again, "Nobara and I have seen you in training, Megumi."

It feels like he rolls his eyes, and you take the short silence and leap to open your mouth and say the words, ask him something you had been dying to ask. Do you miss him? Do you miss Itadori?

Because here it is, here is you, a girl with a heart that has been glued and stitched until there is no pulse, only the adrenaline of this giving you a pulse, cowering away from the light when a ghost whispers across your lips.

The question never gets asked, Itadori falls behind like burnt paper and even though you have his number in your phone and you text him every day, you wonder about him still.

You hear a jolted shout downstairs, eyebrows quirking in confusion and all Megumi gets is a half-hearted goodbye as you hurry down the stairs, scared that a curse had made it's way into the house.

A frenzy engulfs you, dragging you like a massive tide back into the tightened swirl of your anxiety — it's the first time you've had genuine concern for your dad in years. All sorts of images creep into your head. A monster with phoenix eyes lit up from the ashes, viridian tongue biting down on the sizzle of flesh. Junpei. His mother and her severed corpse, the ice cubes pooled at her jagged torso, water and blood scrambling against each other. Like you'd have to swim through blood and gory organs just to see the dead — will you do what Junpei did? Clump the ice cubes to bring him back to life.

When you reach the kitchen, you find your father standing over a small dot on the ground, a tiny sanguine blotch marred onto grey marble. He's cut his finger while chopping vegetables. Nothing can describe the relief that drowns out the frenzy in your head — it's fine, it's fine, it's fine. It's just a cut.

"Oh my god, with the shout you let out, I thought you were being murdered or something," You exhale, already moving to help him.

His eyes are dry and alert, hand slightly twitching from withdrawal. He looks at you with a shaking head, quickly backing away, "Oh no, no, [F/n]. I can handle it, I don't want you to worry."

Your head tilts in this doleful manner, wondering what was up with him, "Dad, let me get you a plaster, at least. I'm pretty sure you don't even know where they are."

"I'm serious, [F/n], please don't look at the blood, I know it's going to hurt you. I really don't want you to be pain, so please don't look at the blood."

You don't have a clue what he's babbling about you half-wonder if it's a side-effect from those nicotine patches he's wearing to ween off his addictions. Still, it's one of those things where you do it anyway. Please don't look at the blood. So what do you do? You look at it.

It isn't even one of those conscious actions, words aren't spoken, silence is deafening, blood drips. And you see how it's not a small little cut, not a tiny little thing that you can smudge with your thumb and feel it tingle when you wash it away under the tap. It's deep and it's dark and cardinal red shines like a metal blade.

The blood unearths something inside you, something screaming to get out, breaking and cracking your ribs to burst open and steal your mind. It stirs solid thought, makes your courage collapse and unravels the repressed memories. Blood, running like a waterfall in order to fill up your lungs, slipping through your fingers like sand. Blood that gurgles and froths and darkens in the pit of midnight under the celestial sky.

Blood in a bowl that looks exactly like what it is and so much more. And then the taste of it, tangy and metal on your tongue, spinning a mirage of flavour you swallow.

It's a choking feeling — the feeling that claws at your skin, ready to unstitch scars. Blood and blood and blood. You're shaking violently, like a ghost is prattling away in your ears, pulling at your roots and ready to open you up and spill. That subconscious brainwashing, Mother's words a whisper into the depth of your heart, the desire to give everything and devote anything. A frightened smile dried out on your trembling lips, wondering if your head was going to explode. You have this itching, awful voice, where you have to do it. You have to give everything to the God because that's what Mother said.

Bones, organs, you'll tear out all your teeth, spread your palms wide with red-soaked ivory bones. If you look in a mirror then you know that your mind will want a gory corpse in it's place.

The blood evokes a sickening sensation across your body as once; it feels like your inwards are being replaced by some sort of black hole. You stagger back, mind swirling when you feel the stretch of darkness, breaths shallow and you collapse, still as a corpse, feeling Sukuna's hand drag you back. Back to the hell that was his Innate Domain.

"Get up, brat," He scowls, voice laced with irrefutable malice, "I've been wanting to have a word with you."

The ground is hard and bruises your skin. Slowly, you get to your feet, still nauseous. Your hands cling to the wrinkles of your jumper, but there is no warmth, not in this place.

Sukuna has his chin in his palms, eyeing you from atop of his throne, the rotting skulls that are piled together and drilled to spite the gods. Bones of old demons, of victims, of conquerors and conquered. "So now you know, hm? You read her diary."

"No, I didn't," The lie comes out faster than you initially thought. You don't even know why you lied — you're not scared, just furious.

(He can't kill you here. He can't kill you here. He can't end your life permanently. It's okay, it's okay, it's okay.)

(Nothing is okay.)

He throws a small rock at your head but you narrowly avoid it, "I almost laughed at that. What is it that you have — loyalty or stubbornness? Because, I know that with the way you act, it's going to get you killed."

"Why don't you get down off your high horse and actually talk to me? Why did you bring me here! And you don't care about my death unless you're the one who gets to kill me."

You don't even address what he said earlier — you read her diary. (Push it away. Please. PLEASE.)

Sukuna's eyes narrow, a shallow darkness emerges within them, deceptive ebony that almost elicits fear in you, were it not for the fact you were slowly growing accustomed to his grandeur. "I didn't bring you here. You brought that upon yourself when you triggered one of your old memories. And I ain't one to brag but, I will kill you, I just have to play the long con."

The long con, you purse your lips. He has a plan, a goal, an endgame. Do you want to put a stop to it?

"I've been flitting between you and that other one — the pink-haired brat — for a bit and I am annoyed," He continues, drumming his fingers with a bitter expression, "You're unbelievably naive. Or maybe ignorant. The truth is staring you in the face all you care about are these mundane things, things I don't understand."

"That's probably because my mother's special scrambled eggs weren't invented in your time," You sulkily roll your eyes — is he throwing a temper tantrum? His boredom is evident. Maybe it's because he's locked up. He's shackled to me.

You swallow back momentary fear, urging yourself to press him for answers... for answers about the million things that bubble in your head from Mother's room. "Now tell me, what am I to you? What... what did you do to my mother?"

A cheek-splitting grin appears on the Demon King's face, an expression of utter maniacal laughter, "How about you give me control of your body? I think two vessels will more than suffice for possessing this world."

Then, a strike of courage, and an unnerved singular response comes definitively from your lips, "No."

He flashes before your eyes, a blinding light that's bright even to pull out your eyes but dark enough to sink into your flesh. You feel a sharp attack and then — death.

He'd taken off your head. When you return, summoned again at his powerful will, you collapse beneath him. Sukuna's webspace chokes your throat, clamping up your mouth as he lifts you from the ground. "You dare say that? Do I need to kill you a million times to get this into your dense head?"

You're fuming that in the one moment you need your jujutsu the most, it has retreated into the skin of your body like a snake curling up for hibernation, making itself so small it could be killed entirely. The pain is excruciating, like he's tearing out your veins in order to prove how much of a god he is.

"You're not meant to be a copy of that other brat — he was a lucky mistake," Sukuna looks to be more than furious, like he's exhausted from your attitude, "I perfected you after generations, [L/n]. So, you're going to prove to me what my disciples can do, or I'll throw you aside when I'm done."

You know now that Sukuna is more than words in a history textbook, more than hushed whispers in corridors and a string of letters to make a demon name. He's nothing like a human — you thought he threw away his humanity but still had some of it left in his hands.

But he proves you wrong, proves to the world that he's ready to be king again. How? By unhinging your jaw, reaching in, and pulling out your heart.


Chapter Text

The repressed memories were like a hallway full of locked doors — banging on them and clawing your way in wouldn't work. But, reading that diary somehow opened them all. And suddenly, you're ten years old again.

You're haunted by all things you did not say, unable to forgive yourself for all the words you didn't utter until it was too late — the I love you's, the I'm sorry's, the I forgive you's. But then again, you're so young, so mindless; you don't believe anything other than the words out of Mother's mouth because Mother knows best, even if you don't like the taste of blood or cry at the curses in the depth of the dark.

"Why do I have to drink this? Dad says it's not good for me," Your lips are pursed, holding back when wobbly eyes look at all the crimson blood. You'll have it coming out of your ears and through all the cracks in your teeth and the creases on your palms. And then the Demon King rises — you see him from a distance and you can't look away.

Her face is so blurred, so unclear; it used to be exact, still like a photograph pressed into the cranium. Is she smiling? Is she sad? Are there tears on your cheeks that you can smudge away with the pain. Her palm is soft and warm; you like holding her hand, but not when there's blood on it and now? Now, there's so much blood.

Mother's voice is a slow echo tucked into your ear like the ocean in a seashell, "It's who we are. I did it, your grandfather did it and his father and his mother before."

It's who we are. Because you were perfected after generations. You're the vessel.

"Tell me a bedtime story," You blink slowly, a wave of drowsiness washing over you like a violent tsunami, sending you straight to the threat of slumber.

Her lips go wryly, twisting when she thinks and then, she decides on one, "I'll tell you a story about a human god, our god — Sukuna-sama. He wanted to rule the world and our family loved him for all the riches and good he promised us. We prayed to him to give us the same power as him. Because this world has loads and loads of evil, mean spirits and only Sukuna-sama can help us control them. That's why, when Sukuna-sama went away, he asked us to drink his blood to keep his memory alive. So one day, he'll come back to us, and since I'll be too old by then, you're going to be the martyr."

She presses a small kiss onto your forehead, thumb gently brushing the strands away from your cheek. And her words seem so far away, an echo buried from religion onto lips. Because... if you love somebody, they turn into a God. But you can't control what kind of God they turn into. In a way, that's what happened to Mother.

She neither killed you nor let you live. Instead, she gave you false hope, "I'm counting on you, [F/n]."


Two days go by — no, fly by — and everything only ever seemed to go downwards. You're in this spiral that doesn't seem to stop and all you can do is practice your jujutsu on empty beer cans that your father throws away, crunching them all up doesn't help; the sound of the metal collapsing feels eerily like your heart breaking.

The only time it does seem to get better is when Gojo-sensei returns. And this time, he brings Itadori with him.

Itadori wonders about who the person in front of him is. He knows it's you, and yet, he is heartbroken when he looks at you. You with this indestructible, passive aura about you, tired eyes with a mirage of sadness arranged about them. He can feel all the power that screams inside you; his hands almost shake just stirring from the jujutsu, not even his jujutsu, because the entire black hole devouring this room is coming from you.


The mind infinitely under turmoil from itself. You find this to be truthful in your case, where you feel so catastrophically split into two that the very stitches of your mind snap and weave themselves together over and over again. You inhale sharply, coming to the realisation you are but a puppet with it's strings. The real question is as to whether you'll cut those strings yourself or let someone else try and fail to do it for you.

Gojo-sensei's tongue clicks, his elbow resting against the doorframe, "Long time no see, [F/n]."

"It's been five days, Gojo-sensei," You shake your head with a simple laugh, "I'm sure you guys didn't miss me that much."

"Is this your home?" Itadori looks about, tapping his chin with a pleasant smile, "It's beautiful! Wow, I forgot Sendai was like this."

You can't tell if he's being genuine or not and it makes you feel nauseous. Maybe, in a way, even after death, even after six years, Mother had changed you. For better or worse? Well, only time would tell. She had peeled back the layers of your fragile mind, revealed the mangled mess of flesh and bones and consummated, cultured, something so petite and beautiful... like a sakura blossom perhaps. Mottled skin in the winter, blooming past summer, still, you are a whole new person. You sigh, having never felt so alive.

So alive, you say, but Itadori can see you're slowly killing yourself.

"Ah, thanks, Yuu — Uh, Itadori-kun," In your head there is a hurricane that destroys all of your thoughts, leaving only a stadium for anxiety. Calling Itadori by his first time feels rather natural, as if it rolls off your tongue with intrepid ease. You'll daydream about the day your own name drawls out from his lips and you can feel the flicker of a smile poking at your cheeks just thinking about it.

It will roll off his lips with such a sweet smoothness that he is tempted to say it over and over again. The syllables are done justice when he speaks them, and it conjures together a beautifully woven name, as if he will pull the strings to your tightly-wound heart. And just as he expects, your heart tugs, your expression shifts, and your mind is washed over from this potent crush.

"So," Gojo-sensei whistles, looking around; you want to bet a thousand yen that he'll admire himself in the hallway mirror, "How are you?"

It's a heavy question and Gojo knows what kind of answer awaits. He sees the Cursed Energy raging in this household and he's quietly fathomed by the potency of a single teenager. If the higher-ups were scared sh*tless about Yuuji, then with you...

With you, they'll send every single person out to kill the strongest Jujutsu Sorcerer-in-Training that the [L/n] clan have had in centuries.

"Uh," You scratch the back of your head, cold air rushing down your lungs, "It's been okay, I guess. I tried practicing my Jujutsu! Oh... and, I managed to get some answers."

It was like two sides of the same coin — with every answer came another question. You'd read Mother's diary and swallowed up the words and now you have the answer to the little things. The symbol on your school uniform is the emblem of the [L/n] clan, a treasured honour a couple centuries ago but now something questionable in alliegance. The reason why Sukuna was so interested in you is because... because you're the true vessel, the one born out from thousands' of years of mindless devote worship.

"Really? Yosh!" Itadori smiles to reassure you, lightly punching the air, "I'm glad that this trip was helpful."

Gojo-sensei tilts his head, "Hm, answers like what?"

"Well," You chew on the inside of your cheek, remembering the inky words scrawled inside the bloodied diary, "I know what my clan's Cursed Technique is."

This reels the two in and you sit them down on the small couch in the living room, hopelessly glad that your dad left for groceries ten minutes before the two arrived. You know well that if your father saw them, he'd fall back into his old ways. Even if the last five days were smiles, struggles and more, your father would always hate the life that your mother was reared into. The curses, the gods, the sorcery.

Any reminder of that would just tell him the same thing over and over him: this is your fault this is your fault this is your fault — you let her die.

Cursed Technique: Mirror Manipulation

Blessed with the blood of the King of Curses, members of the [L/n] clan can control Cursed Energy with a powerful method unique to only them. Mirror Manipulation involves consuming immense levels of cursed energy due to Ryoumen Sukuna's innate power — they lack his ability to use his own techniques in battles without exhausting themselves in the slightest. The Cursed Energy is channelled into shields that protect the user from any attack, however, continued attacks will cause extreme internal injuries. Shields can be extended and constricted at will to debase long-distance attacks or can be taken down entirely to create a false 'mirror' that reverberates both basic attacks and Cursed Techniques. Both of these require immense stamina and endurance which, once over, will create mortally fatal internal bleeding in the user across a short period.

You think back to the night at school when you made a shield against that monster — the feeling was natural, that feeling of protection. The shield appeared because you wanted it to. So perhaps, it truly was ingrained in after all these years.

(Only because you're a product of generations of martyrs.)

Gojo-sensei sits up; he'd been sitting with one leg folded over the other, half-listening and maybe half-deep-in-thought, "Internal bleeding, huh? I'll warn Shoko-chan about this before the Exchange."

"Wait, do you want me to use my Cursed Technique?" You blink, leaning forwards. Itadori bounces his leg, looking back at forth between you and Gojo.

"Of course! If I'm showing off Yuuji, then I'll show off you too, [F/n]," He grins, waving his hands about, "I mean, only if you want to come back."

Itadori turns to face you, brown eyes glistening. For a moment, everything else seems to fall away and it becomes just you two. His vision is filled with you, and his eyes stare into yours, as if maybe able to break through that cracked facade to reveal the soft, melting heart of gold. He feels something surge within him the longer he looks at you, and the void in his chest seems to stretch out just a bit more. Like rifts in a sky, the lines crack and spiral, and the hole becomes bigger and bigger. He doesn't want you to lose yourself like this, to lose everyone else; he wants you to be happy so desperately that it hurts him.

"Are you okay? How are you feeling? Do you wanna come back?" Itadori asks, half-wondering if he should hold your hand.

That question hurts more when it comes from him. You want another chance to prove yourself — need a chance to prove yourself, to Gojo-sensei, to Itadori, to Mother... even to Sukuna.

Eyelids flutter and then panic sets in, resuming it's terror on your mind, parasitical in the nature as it invades the crevices of your brain. Thoughts jumble together and as if they are trying to worm through a thin fragile hole that captures the essence of your endless mind — they force their way in, resurfacing to the top like items floating on water, wave after wave of anxiety. You are on the brink of that wave, as your eyes widen at how the wave fakes a plummet and overwhelms you.

So, you grit a painful lie, "Yeah, I really do. I wanna come back."

Although Gojo-sensei does sense something off — you can tell because his face does the thing — he doesn't bring it up. Itadori looks down at his hands.

"Hm, well, Masamichi-san and I agree that you will still only take part in one of the Group Battles planned at the Tournament. The others are aware of this. I don't want to push you too far, ya know?"

Your lips thin out like you've sucked on a sour lemon. Something bitter remains on your tongue just thinking about it. How are you going to prove yourself again? Part of you feels like you're being treated like a helpless child, but you dare not express that thought externally.

You want to say something to Itadori, say anything, and you open your mouth but nothing comes out.


Itadori doesn't know why he likes you. He knows his types are tall women with big features but he knows that kind of love is so one-sided, it's so unrealistic. He can dream and dream and dream but he's dreamt to the point where he's blind to having a crush on you.

You're sitting on the railings outside the small shrine overlooking the steps, looking out dreamily back at Tokyo. It's a high place, and quiet, too. A zone for yourself when you need a time out.

You don't know how you got there, or why your head is pounding so furiously you want to throw up. The wind gently brushes your cheeks and dried tears stain your face. Your blurry vision starts to clear, and you're presented with a magnificent view of Jujutsu Tech. There is for a moment, brief silence, and you are alone but simultaneously present with all your friends and jujutsu sorcerers. It's awkward to have returned, especially when you had never felt like a outsider more. The journey was awkward enough because you had to banish Itadori and Gojo to the garden while you packed and said your goodbyes to your father.

For a moment, you're struck with the urge to leap off. As if suicide could solve your problems that the world never could. Because then you could experience the morbid entity of death for yourself with your blood splattered on the grey pavement and your bones cracked and then you could be with your mother. Because what was left for you in this world anyway? You lived to die just like everyone else.

Itadori only found out about this spot when he decided to go looking for you and passed by Gojo-sensei on a bench, laughing as he poked fun at a Kyoto teacher called Utahime. It had been almost two hours since he popped out of the lunch kart and surprised everyone, yet it felt like eternity was dragging on like soles of a converse against cobble.

The tension was more than palpable and Itadori only felt it was more frigid with you than with anyone else. Even if it was clear that Kugisaki and Fushiguro were speechless at his antics, they only greeted him with a cold stare or two that was de-iced by the efforts of the second years. With you, on the other hand, you were silent for the entire train journey back. And straight after the reunion, you'd disappeared into thin air like smoke billowing away.

You seem slightly different now compared to back in Sendai. The relentless outpour of sunshine and perhaps that tangible reality of curses seems to have drawn you back to your old self. The person that greeted Itadori in the hallway of a small, tired home, is a person Itadori is scared for, not of, because he doesn't fear you, he fears the monster that Sukuna threatens to make of you.

Itadori has his hands behind his back, fidgeting with them, "[L/n]? Oh — Can I join you?"

You turn, figure silhouetted against the luminous sunlight, "Of course."

He sits on the railing next you, legs swung over and dangling besides yours, so close that you could almost feel him. Your skin feels freshly alleviated from your body, removed as if to reveal the cardinal flesh from behind. It tingles in his presence, and when brushing his own skin, you can feel the layers fall away and a weeping angel is seen inside.

Why am I not okay? The question repeats itself. Over and over again. Why does everything feel so intangible? The question carves it's way into your heart and now your chest feels heavy.

Itadori looks defeated. Somehow, that resonates with you, "How do you do it?"

There's this sick feeling churning in your stomach as you think about Sukuna — it disappears the moment you hear Itadori's voice.

"Do what?" Itadori lifts his head; his eyes meet yours and you feel like you're withering like a flower that bloomed past springtime.

You inhale, gentling leaning in. He makes all your worries evaporate like a summer shower onto a hot car, obliterating every anxious thought just like that, "How do you deal with Sukuna? How do you stop him from getting to you?"

Your eyes linger on the mark beneath Itadori's left eye, that small, unwavering line, a crevice of darkness that bites back. It's where the single eye opens to belittle and mock, coupled with that fanged mouth you know all too well.

The edge of Itadori's lips twitch and he smiles, gently shuffling to take your hand. His voice gets all low and quiet, and you like it because he sounds so sweet and genuine, "Well... do you want to know my secret?"

"That you're always angry?" You quirk an eyebrow, making him chortle and laugh.

"No, no," He laughs at the inside joke — the two of you had binge-watched all of the MARVEL movies together — and leans in, "I just have to remember that he doesn't take up everything."

"He doesn't... take up everything?"

"Mm," He nods, "Sukuna isn't me. And I'm not Sukuna."


Itadori laughs, scratching the back of his head, and after noticing how you nervously look at the mark beneath his eyes — Sukuna's gonna pop out! — he reassures you, "Oh, don't worry! If Sukuna pops out then I'll slap him. There is a world without him, I can promise you that."

"If you turn into Sukuna, I'd probably have to push you off this balcony," Your remark earns a playful punch by Itadori on your elbow and you giggle, shaking your head and taking back your comment, "Don't worry, I won't ever do that."

"I know," He grins, briefly looking away and then returning his gaze.

I know.

You feel like you're back in his dorm again — My Girl is playing in the background, the cursed doll's snores are so damn loud, there's no one else except you and him — and wow, his lips are really close to yours, huh.

However, rather (not so) unsurprisingly, you're too much of a wimp to make the first move.

"Itadori! [L/n]!" Fushiguro calls out, standing a couple metres behind you. His black is ruffled in the incoming wind and he gently tugs at his sleeve. "You guys okay?"

The two of you turn and Itadori grins, hands in his pockets when he gets down from the railing, "Well, the Exchange Event is a big thing but we should be fine."

"Not that," Megumi shakes his head, unperturbed and unshaken. He has a such a resolute expression, a calm composure that you cannot equate to anything other than the stillness of a quiet lake.

You smile like Itadori; it's that weird smile that feels real but never is, "Huh? What are you talking about?"

"Something happened, didn't it?" He deadpans.

Itadori looks down, his fingers twitching when that image of Junpei crying seems to vomit all over his mind. Those doleful eyes with streams of tears escaping the edges and black hair that seems so matted and slick with blood...

"Yeah," He struggles to form the words, lips pursing when his stomach does a backflip as you give him a reassuring shoulder bump, "But I think we're okay. In fact... thanks to what happened, I don't want to lose to anyone anymore."

Itadori doesn't want to lose, not to Mahito or Sukuna and most certainly not to himself. He doesn't want to lose the last words of his humble grandfather and let everything slip out of his hands like sand.

"Good," Fushiguro smiles a little, "Me too. I don't want to lose either."

Oh, now's the time you say something, right? "Me three," You smile back, "Okay, that sounded way better in my head."

Itadori grins and swings an arm around you and Fushiguro, the three of you hurrying to go back and catch up with the others before the Event starts.


Chapter Text

Nobara's arms are slung lazily around your shoulder as you rest with her in the shade under the beech trees. Her expression when asleep is so angelic that it surprises you. The fierce flames bottled up in her raging eyes fall away gently, replaced by a rather melancholic fluttering of her eyelashes. Even her lips, ones that often twist into a sharp, cutting and loose smile, have softened into something neutral. Her body is dotted with bruises and you feel foolish for leaving behind the first-aid kit at the main camp. The most you can do is keep her slumbering away in the shade but when you hear her groan, you realise even that isn't enough.

She'd been retired from the event alongside Mai, who was resting a couple feet away from the two of you. You brush some hairs out of Nobara's face, careful not to wake her up, and yet, she still does.

"I have a splitting headache," She scowls, her palm flying up to her forehead as she shakes her head, back against the rough bark of the large tree. "How long has it been?"

You pause to think, eventually shrugging, "Twenty minutes, I think? I didn't bring my phone with me but I was trying to keep track.

"This is the second time I've been knocked out!" The edges of Nobara's mouth curl with frustration. She pouts, exhaling as she sits up, "Am I retired?"

"Well, you certainly need Ieiri-san to check your injuries," You point to the bruises running along her arms. "It's okay! I'm sure Fushiguro and Itadori will avenge you."

Nobara turns, eyebrow quirking, "And not you? I don't need a man to avenge me, [L/n]. Come on! Avenge me!"

"How? I thought Maki already defeated Mai," You help Nobara to her feet, letting her continue to keep her arm around your shoulder for support.

Her leg bucks in a stumble but she continues, "Miwa Kasumi. She's still out there, right? This is your chance to prove yourself!" Nobara playfully elbows you, "You haven't done anything yet except act as my crutch."

Your lips purse, "I mean... you're not wrong."

The idea makes you a little nauseous. You know that you prepared for this, that youwantthis, but the unfamiliarity of everything is slowly getting to you. Just the thought of facing this Miwa Kasumi makes all the air in your chest be squeezed out as if you're in God's fist.

Nobara can see the flicker of panic dancing in your eyes, a spark that will never be unlit nor let go, just burning away until it kills all the oxygen in the room.

"Why do you think you're weak?" She says suddenly. It's theNobaravoice, that tone she has that reminds you of a strict teacher. The same tone from back in Harajuku when you first met her, when her syllables could cut you apart.

Her question disrupts the tornado of anxious thoughts in your head. You stop moving, finding your legs growing shaky.

"Sorry... what?" You want to melt into a puddle, just evaporate from this earth.

Nobara's eyes narrow, "Why do you think you're weak? Don't avoid it, [L/n]-san."

Why do you think you're weak?

That question corrodes your bones, burying itself deeper and deeper into your marrow, a twisted nestling of a parasite that thaws your shame and lets it glimmer in the spotlight. Being weak is something that weighs on you, like the chains that Marley carries for all of eternity, shackled to events of the past as you were. The past is everything, it's what became of you. It's where the old you died with your mother.

You cower in her shadow, not knowing the gold of her heart but wanting her to look your way again. Even if she was bitter in the throat and mind, she was not weak, not in your eyes anyway. And if you could never be your mother, how could you possibly be strong?

Everything you do tells of a fragile girl. One tiny push and you're falling, falling and falling. Arms flailing and fractured smiles biting back the thought of your crushed body on the ground but it never happens. You, the girl who bleeds too quick, is suspended in the web of someone else. Skin that begs to rot, drenched in the evil of your mother, pleads with her to let you live.

"I'm weak... because I am," You exhale calmly, words loose on your tongue after surviving the next hit of the hurricane that was your anxiety. "I'm not strong. I don't see myself as strong. Wanting to be strong and becoming strong are two separate concepts, two things I can't both have. So, I'm stuck like this. I want to be strong, but I'm not strong, so that makes me weak."

It's not entirely the truth but you can't call it a lie either.

Nobara sees this too but she's just glad you didn't dodge the question for the second time otherwise she'd swat the back of your head, even if she was injured.

"You're not weak, [L/n]," Nobara's words drive your thoughts to a standstill, "And even if you are, you won't be weak forever."

Your lips curl out into a fragile smile, "Thank you, Kugisaki-san."

"Call me Nobara," She juts her thumb with a smirk.

You laugh a little, "Then call me [F/n]."

"So..." You look out, arriving at the edge of the dirt road, "Which way is Miwa?"


Miwa Kasumi sees you coming from a mile away, which ruins any chance of a surprise attack, something you were keen to test out. Your eyes dwell on her figure as you draw closer.

Her hair is a wonderful light blue; it reminds you strangely of coral. It's a blue that dissolves all other imagery of colour, a ruination that does not turn out imperfect as expected. Her hair alone lulls you into a false sense of security, making your heart feel at peace again.

"[L/n F/n]?" She tilts her head. Even her voice is soothing. Everything about her screams kind-hearted. She lacks the jaded mind you presumed all students of Kyoto to have. "Ohhhh, I'm a big fan!"

You blink, "I - Big fan? You're Miwa Kasumi, right?"

Miwa's grip on her sword tightens; your eyes briefly look at the veins on her hands but then return to her gentle features. "Yes, yes! I'm a fan of famous sorcerers. Your clan is legendary."

Was legendary,you want to correct her, but you don't. Instead, you steady the flow of cursed energy in your body. She could easily be distracting you. You know that your reactions in the initial stages of a fight are typically slow; Makialwaysberates you on it. In the later stages of battle, your body picks up momentum in tandem with your cursed energy.

"Miwa," Your jaw is clenched; you chew out some words, "I don't want to lose."

Miwa blinks, but then her expression hardens, "Nor do I."

"Why?" You ask, tilting your head. "Whenever I see or hear about you, you don't act like it."You act like me. You are me. And I'm you.

Miwa does something you did not expect her to do. She softens the grip on the hilt of her sword, an indication she wanted to talk. Maybe she saw it too, like Nobara did - the guilt and built-up of sadness lurking inside you because you wear your heart on the sleeve and get hurt all too often.

"I fear that my weakness causes people to get hurt because they are trying to protect me," She admits, "Oh, I don't know why I'm telling you this! Useless Miwa! Useless Miwa!"

You crack a smile, something rare and genuine. It is fleeting on your lips but you remember the happiness it brings you. "It's okay, Miwa. I'm just trying to understand you. I fear that I'll never live up to my mother, even if she isn't the person I make her out to be."

"Really?" Miwa asks, "Well, may the best sorcerer win!"

She unsheathes her sword, "New Shadow Style:Simple Domai- Oh, sorry, let me take this! It might be important."

The ringing of her phone disrupts her barrier technique, letting the quick flash of blue become eviscerated in the air. You snort, finding it rather funny. Although, the impulsive part of you was starting to get impatient; youreallywanted to fight now, especially after talking to Miwa. You felt as if you could look in the mirror and she would be there.

"Hello, Useless Miwa here," She begins absent-mindedly, as if referring to herself like that was something ordinary.

If Nobara was here, she'd kick our asses for being like this,you think, feet aching from standing too long.

Miwa's eyes widen, navy-blue engulfs the sclera before the lids pull them back and she sways, falling to the ground.


You hurry over, finding a pulse on her wrist and neck. It seems she had fallen asleep. You fumble when you pick up her phone, the call having not ended.



"Oh my god, Inumaki-san, it's you? Did you make her go to sleep?"


You know he usesSalmonfor affirmation so you take his bluntness as a yes, "Where are you?"

"Mustard leaf," He responds, making you sigh as you look down at Miwa curled up on the dirt floor in a deep slumber.

"You know what... I'll let you come to me. I'm on the dirt road next to Miwa."


When you hang up, you kick the ground in frustration before dragging Miwa's body to the rest snugly in the roots of a large tree.Why can't things ever go my way?


You did not like dogs once. Black fangs and nightmare fur. The barks of madness and the very fear of attack seemed tattooed onto you. You felt their teeth piercing your skin just by looking at them, like their paws would dig out your stomach and eat out your liver like Prometheus. It was insanity by force, something driven deep inside the bane of your heart by your mother.

But now, as you pet Fushiguro's Demon Dog, your heart finally feels at ease. It arrived no less than five minutes after the call from Inumaki, which made you assume it was sent from him, especially since you thought Fushiguro was fighting Noritoshi.

The dog pants, a pink tongue flailing about as you ruffle it's hair, it's paws making light pitter-patter sounds and it treks deeper into the forest. You follow, enjoying the shaded sky, masked by a devouring green that feels suffocating in a way. But it also blankets you, like those weighted blankets that paramedics put over the shoulders of trembling kids in the backs of ambulances.

Inumaki comes into view, brown eyes softening with relief when he sees you, "Kelp. Bonito flakes?"

"Hey, Inumaki-san, good to see you're not retired like the others. Uh, I'm fine. I haven't really done anything. I was going to fight Miwa but I ended up having to put her beneath a tree so she wouldn't get sunburn."

Inumaki's eyes fall still. He unzips his dark collar and something calm and sincere comes out, "Gomen."

Your eyes widen, briefly caught up in the moment, but you quickly shake it off, "Oh, thank you." You fidget with your fingers, wondering what to do.

Inumaki sends off the Demon Dog; it fizzles and disappears, maybe returning to Fushiguro. You watch it go, drifting away like smoke from a dead candle. He then turns, walking off north, murmuring "Salmon roe," as if to say, "Follow me."

You do so, but then, the two of you stop in your tracks.

Cursed energy. An overpowering stench of cursed energy, something so paralysing you want to forfeit your soul. The crevice of your skull shakes with anguish; it's like that night at the Eishuu Juvenile Detention Center.

You turn, breaths a little more unsteady, eyes darting about in the woods. Your legs are fixed in one position, calves aching from the intensity but your gaze is loose and vivid. Your vision collides with the extremity of the fear, of the uncertainty, of the unknown. Tree trunks stare back at you, unclear and blurred like fog collecting on a window.

And then, the leaves rustle. Your senses heighten.

The battle. The battle. The battle.You chant, as if wanting it to be a premonition. As if saying it over and over again in your fragile mind would do anything but kill you slowly.

The cursed spirit finally emerges after a minute's worth of a standoff. It's head pokes out from behind a tall tree, the tongue a putrescent purple, slimy and horrifying. Then it's eyes swivel when you and Inumaki watch.

It shakes, frothing about. And finally, it rolls onto the ground.

Your eyes widen, trembling as you threaten to spill out screams and tears. You can't look at Inumaki but you imagine him to be the same.

It's... dead?

Emerging from behind the same tree trunk, is a creature that unearths and stirs a memory. It was that Cursed Spirit from the mountains, the one that rescued the Volcano Head as you and Itadori dubbed it.

Your fists clench hard enough that your nails draw blood, "Cursed Technique:Mirror Manipulation."

The battle,your mind screams, desperate to appease your mother. But the battle is not now, not when it's two students against a Special Grade Cursed Spirit.

So, you put your hands out, urging a shield to appear, letting the flow of cursed energy dictate the protective points.

And then you take Inumaki's hand, and yourun.


Everything's one big blur. Nothing coherent comes through your thoughts, as if you abandoned everything and just ran, which in hindsight, you did do.

You've run so much that your throat is scratchy and sore, like a drought growing ravenously inside it. Inumaki doesn't relent, not like you. While you stumble and slow down, he picks up the pace as the two of you circle an old castle, having been given precious time by the shield.

Fushiguro and Noritoshi have joined you now. The four of you stand in the courtyard, exit blocked by a tangled mess of vines and flowers, too thick and potent to cut through entirely. Besides, even as you burn the edges of the leaves with cursed energy, it continues to regenerate.

"Inumaki-senpai, [F/n]," Fushiguro's legs almost buckle; his stamina must be at an all-time low.

You're relieved to see him. You need another familiar face if you want to survive this.

The cursed spirit stands menacingly at a distance away, prompting Noritoshi to squint, "Why is there a cursed spirit at Jujutsu High? Who does this veil belong to?"

You chew on the inside of your cheek, "I've kind of fought this cursed spirit before. Well, I saykind ofbut like... it just threw me and Itadori around as a distraction."

"You've seen this cursed spirit before?" Noritoshi quirks an eyebrow, "It's definitely a special-grade."

"It can speak," You inhale, steadying yourself the more you look at it, "It's an unregistered special-grade. It's technique is to do with nature."

"But that doesn't explain why it's here," Fushiguro murmurs, "Even Gojo-sensei wouldn't do something like this - sending a special-grade as part of the Exchange Event."

You unclench your fists, sorely rubbing your palms' bruises over with your thumb, "It's here for Gojo-sensei. This about him. It attacked him before with Volcano Head and Gojo-sensei suspects it is working with a human."

"Tuna mayo," Inumaki says, making a gesture which you realise is a phone.

Fushiguro nods, "You're right. Let's contact Gojo-sensei."

The phone rings as he holds it up to his ear, "Our opponent might use a domain, so we need to maintain our distance and retreat to Gojo-sensei-"

It happens so quickly that you swear your heart almost explodes. The cursed spirit moved forward at such a speed that you couldn't tell what was happening until it was too late. It had flicked Fushiguro's phone to the ground.(Say goodbye to his data plan.)

"Don't move!" Inumaki roars. His voice echoes like a breathless siren at sea, syllables tripping as they carry far and wide across air like a drunk crossing the street.

You can tell it has an effect; the outline of the cursed spirit turns a fiery red, glossing over it's movements and fixing it to one place. But you have no idea how long that might last, so you act on instinct.

While Noritoshi enacts some sort of blood technique, you stretch out the cursed energy into shields on your forearms to bear attacks. And as you summon enough might to conjure your cursed technique, Noritoshi sends a circle ofSlicing Exorcismstraight at the cursed spirit's head.

It does nothing.

Not even a droplet of blood comes off it's face. There's no damage. As if the attack never even happened.

Fushiguro takes his turn, sending one of his Shikigami to electrify it from above while he takes a jab at it with his blade.

It cuts the spirit's clothing, which is better than nothing.

He scowls, "Damn, it's tough."

You don't even know where Fushiguro got that sword from. Your own one comes from Miwa. I mean, shewasasleep so it wasn't like she was going to use it anyway.

Your attack is more or less a frenzy at the beginning. Given your cursed technique is entirely defense-based, you had to start from scratch when it came to acting on the offensive. One way of doing that was cutting down the area of your shields and turning them into short-range blitz attacks.

While you know that your exhaustion extends far further than the loud breaths and aching limbs, you can't just sit by and waste away. A sword eventually rusts and turns brittle without care.

You lunge forwards, launching into the sky to make the attack more impactful and the attacks come naturally. The cursed energy feels like an extension of yourself; it's flow eradicates all fears as you dive in and make the kill.

The cursed energy sharpens at the last minute, cutting away at the clothing but also eating away at your stamina. When you're done, you quickly land back next to Fushiguro, gasping for breath.

Droplets of blood prick away along it's pale skin, but not enough to cause any haemorrhaging or visible damage.

"Stop it, foolish children."

Your vision fizzles like a crackling television, distorted and jumbled words untangling themselves in the mess of your mind only to fix out like a straight line, too sharp and thin.

You find your hand going to your head, clutching at your skull as you rock with the splitting headache.What is this? I can't tell what it's saying by the sound, but I can understand it's meaning?

"I merely wish to protect this planet, that's all,"The voice grows in power; the cursed spirit puts it's hand to it's left shoulder where a white cloth hugged it as if acting like a bag.

You can understandwhyit would say that - from what you've seen, this cursed spirit could beat out Mother Nature. Noritoshi? Not so much. "It's a curse spouting nonsense! Don't listen!"

"This on a whole new and different level than lower-grade cursed spirits," You sulk with this reality, trying to determine a way to land an impactful on the creature.

It continues,"The forests, the oceans, and the sky all weep so vehemently that I can no longer stand it. It's impossible to coexist with humans any longer."

You tilt your head, is it a Cursed Spirit made from the cursed energy of nature, not humans? No, no. It must be a Cursed Spirit made from humans' attitudes towards the environment. That's why it cares so much.

"They know there are some humans who are kind to the planet. But how much does their affection even help?"It's arms rise to the sky as if giving a proclamation, although, as your eyes droop from tiredness, it might start to feel like an unwanted soliloquy. Macbeth's soliloquies from high school were growing more on you now, especially since he didn't establish his own headache-inducing language system like this cursed spirit.

"All they desire is time,"The cursed spirit's arm digs inside it's shoulder and then, the ground rumbles loudly and violently. Earth shakes and rattles, stirring dust as roots crawl out from the ground and rise into the air.

Twisted tree roots and branches curl behind the cursed spirit, as if it had conjured it instantly,"Time without humans."

It's mouth is baring teeth but nothing moves,"Please die and become sages."

"No, thank you! I'm much happier alive, funnily enough."


Chapter Text

In all honesty, maybe you should have expected this. Gojo certainly did. But, not even you would be so pessimistic about your chances in a battle that you would have prepared for being flung back into Masamichi-sensei's prized garden, over five miles away from you originally were.

The fact that your ungraceful exit from battle had been cushioned by petunias and geraniums would be comforting were it not for the fact you were knocked out cold by the impact. The loss of consciousness was brought about from straining your muscles and pushing yourself to the limit. You did not know what it was to have "boundaries", or recognise the outline of who you were.

The best way to describe you is like a forest fire. You charge ahead, in any direction so long as you're moving. But the destruction you leave behind, in the forms of littered, burnt leaves and hollow tree branches, will soon catch up. And then, you burn yourself out in the best-case scenario. Fear clings to you like a dress, and then falls, trailing you as you walk further and further away from the person you think you are becoming.

And...to top it all off, you have a killer headache and your insides feel like jelly.

The last thing you remember is trying out an attack outlined in your mother's diary. Something about... mind blocks? Whatever it was, you clearly couldn't grasp it back then and you certainly can't remember right now.

The sunlight leaves you feeling even more disorientated―the gleam of white is a blur that impeaches the rest of the colours. It's a honey-yellow, blue, some white and then... black?

Panda's face looms over yours, "Morning! Or afternoon... whichever one."

Your eyes widen a little, and then, slowly your sight sharpens. Things becomes a little clearer. The grey thing in the corner of your vision was Mai, bandages visible beneath her uniform. The brown 'sea' above you was the make-shift medical area. And the navy, unmoving blob was... you squint... Kasumi, fast asleep on a chair.

"Oh god, Panda..." You murmur, hand flying up to your forehead, nursing the headache with a scowl. "What happened? I can't remember sh*t."

Panda taps his chin, "There was a loose Cursed Spirit, something that wasn't part of the Exchange Event. Gojo-sensei dealt with the intruders but we don't know if they were exorcised."

You groan, struggling to sit up without losing your breath, "The curse? That Mother Nature one? Did they kill it? I... I got knocked out so early..."

"Well, I hope I did!" You turn slowly, so not to get a crick, and Gojo-sensei stands above you, hands in his pocket, grinning from ear to ear. "And I knew you would do this! Don't worry, Shoko-chan prepared all the necessary stuff after I told her!"

You frown, tugging at Gojo's trousers in frustration, "Youknewthis was going to happen?! Sensei! I made myself look like a fool!"

"Ah," Gojo clicks his tongue and wags his finger, "Youdidinjure the spirit. Think of it like this. You're a rusty violin! You just need some fine-tuning and you'll be the best."

You remain unfazed, it's always like this.

But some violins can't be fixed. Or they were made to be like that. Besides, aren't you the best?

"Besides!" Gojo kneels, pulling out his phone, "If you didn't take part, then I wouldn't have got this video of you snoring in your sleep! And Yuuji-kun did come around to see you but he didn't want to wake you up."

Now he's caught your attention, "As soon as I can walk without wheezing, I'm going to snap your phone in half! And where is everyone? Everyone's okay... right?"

Gojo relents his grin for a relaxed expression, "I'll tell you, but only if you promise you won't give up after today!"

You purse your lips with a scowl, "Fine,I promise."

But promises can be broken.


"When did you start getting along with that gorilla?" Nobara asks non-chalantly. A very "Nobara" question made even more funnier by the fact you were pretty sure she was referring to Aoi.

The room is quiet except for the occasional sound of nature from the window and the noises that come with eating. You and Fushiguro were sitting upright in twin beds, Nobara and Itadori at the sides, having pulled up stools to come closer.

Everyone has a slice of pizza in their hand. Since you could only stomach one and Fushiguro was such a slow eater, Nobara and Itadori seized their chance to have the rest. But you were okay with that. They deserve it. They did way more than you could possibly accomplish.

Itadori has a soft bandage on his cheek and you swear the scars beneath his eyes were larger now, or maybe your vision was still wavering like a drunk skipping along the street. "Well, we got along, but like..." Itadori shrugs, mulling over his words, "I remember what happened but I wasn't exactly myself then..."

You figured that Itadori and Todou would get along swimmingly so you arch an eyebrow, "What, were you drunk?"

"You believe I could've been drinking in that situation?" Itadori stifles a laugh, "I'm shocked!" His dramatic expression shifts and he bears a smile at you and Fushiguro.

"But I'm glad you two weren't seriously hurt. You can eat pizza now, at least," He takes a bite from his pizza, savouring the taste.

Fushiguro grumbles, "Come on, bring me something easier to digest."

Nobara munches through her bite, unfazed, "No complaining."

He sighs, "Apparently, I got off easier because my cursed energy was all dried up. Ieiri-san was still able to fix me up as soon as the roots were removed."

"Oooh and I think she had to do something like that for me as well. Gojo-sensei had her prepare beforehand in case I was injured," You add on.

"Huh, so that's a thing that can happen?" Itadori mumbles. "You guys are strong, you know. That's why you're here, still fighting. Not everyone can make it through and not give up."

His words make you pause in your thoughts. Something stirs within you. You want to call it hope but it might be false. Nothing in this world lasts long enough to turn into something meaningful.

"Hey! Don't move the conversation forward without me, you know! I'm strong, too!" Nobara has her chin resting on her palm, being her usual hot-headed self.

You grin, "Of course, Nobara. You're the strongest out of us all."

Nobara juts her thumb out with a grin, "We're gonna destroy the others in baseball tomorrow."

Her words drain the life out of your face, "Huh?! But I don't know how to play baseball!"


There's some time before the game starts.

Not a lot. Maybe ten minutes. But your nerves feel like an exploding supernova, something frazzled and electric, threatening to overwhelm you. You're back at the balcony from before; it's a miracle that the area around it hasn't been too badly damaged. In your hand is your phone and about fifty Google searches over how to become a baseball god in less than a day, the best strategies and the million different tips and rules and did you know that Babe Ruth kept a lettuce leaf under his cap when he played?

"Don't tell me you're revising for a game ofbaseball!"

You don't need to turn to know who it is. You know Itadori's voice like the back of your hand. It's the voice you love, because you hear it when you need it the most, and having it in the back of your head to dispel all the terrible thoughts with his laugh and smile is like walking on clouds―it's the best feeling in the world.

"You look a lot better," You smile weakly, noticing how his skin has touched up with it's usual pink, the way the glitter in his eyes makes him feel more alive. "Did you sleep last night?"

He chuckles, walking over, "Like a baby."

Itadori swings his legs over the balcony balustrade, scooting closer to you, "But, you didn't sleep at all, did you?"

"Huh," You sarcastically grin, "I wonder how you could tell."

He gently pats his lap, "Why don't you rest? Please don't push yourself like this."

You purse your lips, "Itadori, we're on a balcony!"

His eyes hold something serious in them, but something amazingly beautiful too, "I won't let you fall."

And that's enough to convince you.

Resting on his lap heightens the feelings you already have. It feels like a Gordian knot; impossible to tangle or understand. Every time you think you're getting closer to opening your lips and whispering the words from your heart, you can feel your courage being pushed back by the nauseating anxiety, the different futures all playing out in your head at once like a cinema that only shows the bad memories and endings.

You don't want to ruin what you have with him just because of this. If you ruined it, you would never be able to forgive yourself. You would have lost him the moment you opened your lips and told himI like you.

Sukuna grimaces,it is fun to care about other people? Even when it could destroy you?

Shut up. Shut up. Shut. Up.

"Itadori?" Your voice is barely a whisper, threatening to be lost in the wind, "Can I run my fingers through your hair?"

He nods gently with a smile, enjoying the peace that comes with you. He had closed his eyes at night, drawn a shallow breath under the moonlight and dreamt of this moment―dreamt of you in his arms because your hair tickles his cheeks in a good way and you always have this cute sneeze during spring.

And the sky is that beautiful, pretty pink. Pink like his hair on Saturday mornings, fresh out of the shower. Pink like someone's lips after a long kiss, the tint of rose he likes because it creeps up your cheeks whenever he catches you eyeing him out of the corner of your eye.

"Let's stay here until the game starts," He whispers.

The two of you do―still like a candid photo, an unmoved stare, perfect peace.


Your baseball uniform is a little itchy but perhaps it's because you're still wearing your bandages underneath it. Youshouldbe in the medical room, berated by Ieiri-san for thinking you're somewhat invincible but then again, even Noritoshi was taking part in the game, despite the fact that his head is half-covered with white bandages that make him look like a poor mummy prop from a Scooby Doo episode.

Under the glare of the beating sun, you make a mental reminder to ask him about what happened, or at least tell him all the mummy jokes you had saved up.

"[F/n]! No daydreaming!" Gojo yells, standing behind Itadori as the referee.

Without his blindfold and his dark uniform, you would have thought him to be a hippie straight out of Woodstock. His hair is much lighter in the sun, almost blonde. It tantalises the sunshine, soft and yet straw-like. As for what he was wearing... most definitely a shirt and pair of trousers that could cost more than your house.

His words practically hit from where you're standing and you flinch, suddenly flung back to reality. It then dawns on you that you've been idle for the last five minutes, having absolutely no clue as to what was going on.

Toge is a dozen or so feet away from you. He turns, bright eyes glinting underneath the light, lifting the arm with the brown glove in it and waving it a little.

Rather stupidly, the first thing that comes to your mind is:Does he need his cough syrup?

Maybe you're an open book because Toge shakes his head and he looks like he laughed, "Bonito flakes. Tuna fish."

You nod to give him the impression you understood him (it's been almost three months and you're not even close), and fix your eyes back at where the action was happening.

Maki looks so serious in her uniform but you think the colour white suits her more than she thinks. Her cap hides her hair, curtly tied up into a ponytail, but her expression is one of complete determination and confidence.

You watch her play with the ball in her hands, almost sly, as if she doesn't want to give away the tricks up her sleeve and then―the ball shoots in a straight line through the air.

Noritoshi doesn't even try, although, you saw his lips moving earlier so you attribute that win for your team to his conversation with Itadori.

"Strike!" Gojo punches the air, "Batter out!" You can hear the delight in his English.

"Kamo!" Mai retorts, "You won't get a hit if you don't swing!"

You look over at the scoreboard to see a big zero besides 'Kyoto Jujutsu High'. It oddly reassures you and you feel like you can breathe a sigh of relief.

Next, it's Mai's turn.

You were not looking forward to this. Maybe it was because the last time you had seen her properly, she had almost killed you. Hm, maybe that was the reason why you almost pissed yourself when she took up the baseball bat.

Mai's eyes grow darker when they settle on you. She has a mischievous expression, something not quite deadly but not quite good. Perhaps she is dwelling on her last interaction with you. Honestly, you wish you were back under the tree with her and Nobara―at least back then, she wasasleepand couldn't fire off her pistol like it was the Wild West.

"[L/n]! Catch this one for me!" She yells, "Only if youcan!"

Mai steadies herself, grip around the bat tightening, and then, she lifts and swings.

A lot of things went through your mind in that moment, a train of thoughts that looked to be shot straight through your skull like a bullet. Calling it fear would be the understatement of the century. You wouldn't be nervous at all were it not for the fact that Mai wantedyouto catch it, and well, since your roleisto catch it, you kind of have to.

However, you do have a slight advantage.

Due to the lack of players, Gojo allowed at least one member from each team to use their jujutsu energy. And for some, totally random reason (and not Gojo-sensei being Gojo-sensei), it wasyou. In fact, it was actually terrifying how everyone had unanimously decided, without even receiving your input, that it was you who was going to use their jujutsu.

Because havingyourCursed Technique could totally help in a baseball match!

Mai's shot is not even in your direction, but you had expected that from how she adjusted her shoulder, moments prior. Her aim suggested a tight area to your left, so before she had even hit the ball, you knew where it would go. Perhaps that article on the history of Babe Ruthwasuseful.

You know that's the area that Fushiguro was meant to be guarding but everyone had stiffened when Mai spoke at you. It was like a battle declaration. In the same way that people leave alone the imperfections that don't cause harm, they ignore the fights that are not intended for them.

So, the best way to get the ball would benotto run over, because you might open a stitch or trip on an untied shoelace, but instead use a reflective attack to send the ball into your palms.

The moment that ball flies into the air, you hold up your arm and right over your wide-spread palm, in the angle of the ball, a circular swirl hovers in the sky, driven tight and controlled like the eye of a storm. The dark blue makes it stick out like a sore thumb but you had angled it just right, and the surface made even Mai assume that the ball would just go straight through; her co*ckiness was so apparent that she was strolling to first base.

As soon as you hear the ball flick off the mirror, you dive forwards to catch it in your palms, stirring up the dust on the earth. Grey piles up, smoke billowing and you cough a little, no longer satisfied, especially since you slid on your stomach.

You hear some cheers in the background; slowly you start to get to your feet, met with the forest behind the tall fence, which you were a few feet from.

"Yosh! I knew you could do it, [L/n]!" "Well done, [F/n]!" "Goddammit, where did she learn how to do that?!" "Told you to stop being co*cky, Mai!"

The words distance themselves from your mind. You lift your head, sighing, eyes briefly locking with the damp, humid mirage of green, a blur of leaves and branches that twist and bend across the air, tangling up everything.

You blink and then, her voice, quiet and whispery, an echo that was locked in a seashell, seeps through.Well done, my sunshine. I'm so proud of you.

In the darkness of the forest, where the fire inside your soul threatens to burn, killing you and her, Mother's eyes peek out and fix on you.

One moment they're there, and the next, when Nobara helps you to your feet, they're gone.

When it's Nobara's turn to go up, you watch her don a navy cap and the metal bat seems weirdly perfect for her. Perhaps a great weapon if the situation was different.

"They call me the Mah-kun of Tohoku," Nobara exercises her shoulder, to which you snort out loud, "No, they f*cking don't!"

"Don't ruin my confidence, [F/n]!" Nobara whines.

Fushiguro seems even more confused, as if Nobara's words went right over his head, "But, Mah-kun is the Mah-kun of Tohoku."

"Mah-kun's a pitcher, you know!" Itadori laughs, cupping his mouth with his hand as he shouts back.

"Bonito flakes," Toge says idly next to you.

You stifle a laugh at Nobara's expression, which starts out fine but it turns out that holding back a laugh when you have very slight, ever so mild, a tiny,tinybit of internal bleeding, leaves you wheezing like a broken toy.

Thankfully, it stops soon and a more disturbing sound attracts everyone's attention―the sound of metal rumbling.

Someone had put a Mechmaru pitcher machine right where you figured Mai would be standing, and Nobara looks like someone had just stabbed her.

"Hold up a minute!" She roars, throwing her cap down and walking over.

Panda shakes his head, "Oh no... Kugisaki's snapped!"

"That's just a pitching machine!" You frown, hurrying over incase Nobara decides to charge the mound.

Still, despite the very real threat of Nobara threatening to 'lose her sh*t', the pitcher machine remained there, thanks to Mai, who, you assumed, was probably just mad that you had caught her swing.

Nobara still manages to get to on base, even if she was growling more than Panda. You knew that you'd probably have to console her later on about the issue, but you enjoy her company. Because, she stops the loneliness that overwhelms your heart sometimes. When you doubt yourself the most, she's always there. Even when you fear about wearing your heart on your sleeve, she'd give you hers in a cardigan and shut up every single bad thought with what you've permanently dubbed as theNobaravoice.

The only person who is close enough to saving the team from failure is Maki, who drops her bat after 3 runs with a smug grin, which was deserved since she was the backbone of the team. However, Momo had caught her shot rather easily, prompting an outroar from everyone.

Then again, you used your jujutsu so Gojo had to calm the team down, something that was done quite easily when Maki sent the baseball flying straight into Todou's cheek, almost knocking him over.

Other than your catch, that was probably the highlight of your day. Well, that and hippie Gojo.


The afternoon sun lazily drifts across the sky as you watch from inside. Glaucous clouds gleam with a certain leisure when you look more and more at them, holding yourself in this tsunami of fractured awareness.

The corridors narrow when you feel your head being lost in a tornado, catching your breath as the urge to rip out your memories of your mother, gnaw at the back of your mind. Curiosity is undeniable in such a tormenting universe, especially for someone like you who is struck with such a dismal ancestry, a pitiful existence, whereby you have no control over your purpose. A slave to a god; the servitude to something grander does not disillusion you like others who pour out gold hearts for nickel and dime. The turmoil of grappling with being branded as a creation feels like a noose. The rope grazes ivory skin, rough and sudden and free will is crumpled up and grinded into the ground with the boot of a God, as if it was those autumn leaves children would jump on to hear the crunchy sound.

That god is Sukuna. And yeah, you're proud of yourself for being able to make it through one day without crying because of all the terrible things going on at once in your head like a really,reallyscary horror movie, but you can feel yourself losing all the things about you that make you, well...you. Slowly, bit by bit, you're giving small things to your mother.

Your hands to hold hers in, your spine as a ridge she'd step onto the top, your heart and your eyes and your soul until everything is gone and you are what you had always been destined to be.

A vessel.

And sometimes, using your jujutsu makes you face that uncomfortable reality. Maybe that was why you saw Mother back then. A sinister feeling starts crawling up your back, as if something awful is going to happen in the coming days and weeks.

Fushiguro is exactly where you thought he would be. Out on the rooftop, a half-empty water bottle at his lips. He holds up his arm, fingers spreading as if to hold the burning sun; a precarious gaze is tucked away in his eyes, making them glisten with sorrow.

"Megumi," You flinch at the sound of your voice, cringing slightly. Maybe you're doubting yourself again but it seems shaken and shallow, as if you're just a mess of lies and not-truths.

It's rather humorous to be cursed like this. The gods preach their power under the guise of heavenly guidance but subject their own creation to the incessant flaws of themselves. Lies are spat from throaty cries and Cain did lie to God about Abel, ebony dripping between teeth. The truth is not the opposite of a lie; you have determined that much. Rather, prickling the tongue of many, was this blurred line that people slipped between. Truth in lies and lies in truth.

Fushiguro remains placid; he wasn't expecting company but he'll make do. Solitude is his comfort but he cherishes his friendship with you.

You can feel your burden scratching at the back of your throat, a question that is screaming to be asked. It's been something that was always on your mind, but only heightened by the events of the last two days in a sporadic, random thought that exploded in your head and refused to die.

It was about his Cursed Technique.

Because you can still remember how soft the dog's fur feels and the speck of light that blighted it's fractured, dark iris. The dogs are real, right?

"Can I ask you something?" You seem breathless, tired even. The air feels punched out of your lungs just existing for a few moments, "About your... Cursed Technique."

Fushiguro turns, the sunlight illuminating part of his face as he leans against the balustrade. Despite his neutral expression, you can tell he is somewhat confused by your random question. It seemed like a spur of the moment thing, something that didn't fracture the ice but only widened it.

"What do you want to know?" He asks, but his lips urge him to saywhy?

You edge nearer, a little nervous, although you had no reason to be. Maybe it's because having an inclination of curiosity towards your past made you feel like a despicable traitor to everything you stood for. Power, strength, the desire to live a fulfilled life―all of that is meaningless if Sukuna takes over. There is no more "you" in the end, after all.

You're just a collection of thousands of years of people.

"Your Demon Dogs," Since the two of you are so high up, the wind tickles your cheek as you speak, swaying the frayed edges of your baseball uniform, which was still covered in dirt and dust. "Do you think they're real?"

It wasn't a matter of whether they were actually real, but whether Fushiguro thought they did, because he's the one who conjures them, right? How much effort do you pour into a creation till it becomes alive, existent and real?

The question catches Fushiguro off-guard. It reveals his vulnerability; you admire it for a brief moment, a fractured diamond made even more precious. He ponders, feeling his heart wobble a little at such a personal question.

Eventually, once the silence becomes too self-destructive, Fushiguro decides on a response. His lips part and initially, you don't register it because your heart is speeding up from all the questions and no answers and then―

"They exist," He says simply, "Isn't that enough?"

"Yes,but," You press him further, a little anxious, "Does that make them real?"

Fushiguro doesn't need to ask why now. All he need to do is take one look at you and understand.

"Of course."



per usual i put my mc through unbearable pain bc i love projecting my trauma anyway thank you for reading and i'll crawl out of my cave in a couple months to update again. 2 chapters left [not including the epilogue] until this book is done wooo

Chapter Text

Reality is falsely perpetuated by the dreams of your past, a web of memories that fold over each other elegantly inside one's mind.Yourmind. To say that you can tell the difference between right and wrong, life and death, Mother and Sukuna, would be a bold lie. You are slowly losing your sanity, bit by bit, like a drunk stumbling into a well, falling all the way down. It happens to you often, these moments of absolute madness, torn between wanting to be loved and hating yourself; you disappear but you always come back.

Although, you're never the same. I mean, how can you be?

Even now, in the clutch of another nightmare, your mind is bitter with all the things that torment you. When the world stops at your mercy, then it feels like you can see yourself split into two, as though you diverged from yourself when Mother died. You stand over your ten year old self and her eyes are hollow yet the tears seem so real, pearled and bleak as they slip down her cheeks. The irises are dead as if you were the one who died that day. Your hands are shaking and there are more hands, clawing at you and Mother, the limbs of curses.

"Wait! No! Stop!" You hear your thoughts but your lips don't part; what haunts your pale face instead is a washed-out ghost of a smile.

You put your hand over your heart, burying it deeper. If you could run away from this memory you would, because you know what happened that today; it's etched into your bones even if your brain tried to protect you by erasing it. The past isn't just time long gone. It runs deeper than the eye ─ it's a feeling.

The nightmare twists once more, a self-sabotage that is a sweet romance. It's as if you're telling yourself all the things you never would but wanted to through these dreams. You self-sabotage, destroy yourself before someone can get the knife. You push them away before they can leave you.

If you let them in, they'll just ruin you like last time. You thought you could be 'you' but there is no 'you'. Where did you go after she died? Did you run away, again? Because, you're just a puppet. Your strings tighten each day until veins bleed and the red slicks down your throat with bile.

And Mother controls you. You never did let yourself become free from her. Underneath the skin and bones and blood, you are made of bad decisions, irrationality and malfunctioning. You experience and yet, you still make the same mistakes. Behind the sadness of a parent, the mask to please her maker, lay a Mother that lacked a heart to give to her child, a ghost trapped under the thumb of a god. Simply put, you sympathised with her. How could you not?

In order for you to forgive the unforgivable, you repressed everything about yourself, redid yourself, blotted out the bad things and pretended your lips could quirk into a smile like nothing was ever wrong.

Your ten year old self turns, hair whipped against the wind, flesh painted in the shades of glory, stitched into the name of forsaken god; her eyes are so empty, though you stare into them forever, there is nothing inside them that an angel could fix. "Why did you do it?" She flattens the edge of her voice, holding it soft like a blanket. So why did the words strike into your heart brutally?

Junpei slouches next to her, "Why did you do it?"

You stumble, "D-do what?"

"Don't play dumb," Suddenly Mother sit ups, hands folded gracefully on her palms.Even her voice is delicate, like a flower teething in spring, a chirpy bloom, nothing that indicates the manifestation of darkness buried beneath a cracked soul. She picks out letters and threads them together. Her neck is stiff but she still turns it, evoking a chill down your spine; you can't meet her eyes, "We know what you did. It's only a matter of time before everyone finds out."

When you don't reply, standing there with a blinking, confused expression, her smile becomes a little more pointed... a little moresharp. Careful, she's going to make you bleed.

They all kill you with that one look. Junpei and his sad eyes, a doleful expression because he was toof*ckingyoung, shoulders slouched per usual, hands digging into the pockets of a never-been-lint-rolled-before pair of trousers ─ and the first thing out of his mouth would be excitement because Hey, did you see the new Conjuring movie out now?

But he'll never talk again. He'll never smile again. He'll only feast on your fear and watch you decay because you can't hold yourself together anymore, not when you keep seeing all these awful things. He saw the shredded remains of his mother, cried in the room that she bled out in, holding tight to bloodied bed sheets and a cold palm. The ice cubes pooled at Nagi Yoshino's torn torso are nothing now, just comedy for a crowing god to watch humans try to defy the impossible.

Then there's Mother and gory bones that elicit a rancid tar, dribbling blood; she is reminiscent of every nightmare you have ever felt trapped in, lost in, because of her. Her veins protrude and skin slims down, sticking to her and hanging out at the bits where fangs and claws tore them out. Her face is half gone, one eye out and her smile is bloody ─ she enjoys it. She loved you enough to kill you without you knowing, to empty you out because she thought it was the greatest gift of all; to be a vessel for a god is a treasure for her, to you... it's enough to make you sick.

And you. You. You. You. Ten year old you is rotting inside out from a drunkard of a father and a manipulative, loving mother, from the whispers of the curse behind the doors and under the tables, from the metallic taste of blood, how your stomach churns against it's potency. The power electrifies your veins, fizzes out your personality and charisma. She made you weak but gave you strength in the worst way possible.

Before you can open your mouth and admit it, the mist dreamily washes away the three entities and the nightmare is over.


What awoke you was the blinding sunlight from a curtain-less window. You'd been nagging at Gojo-sensei formonthsabout how your room lacked a pair, especially since Itadori and Fushiguro had some; you know it will take time for him to get around to it, but you guess you can wait a tiny bit longer.

You throw your legs over the side and lazily stand up, zapped of all energy. That dream had shaken you, drained the life out of you. You felt powerless, and still do. No amount of Cursed Energy could tell you your worth, not when you have lived sixteen years for nothing.

As you rub your eyes, feeling your muscles tug as you stretch, a cold breeze hurries in from an open window, scathing and unforgiving. You wince, feeling it brush your cheeks and blink, the red of your eyelids straining out the sun in front of you.

But peace is only momentary. Surely, you should know that by now?

Serenity is a series of fragments, small and sharp, striking your thumb when you try to hold on for too long. It was almost comical at this stage how the gods belittled your few moments of tranquility, stealing the last bits of hope that fought in your heart, that you could be okay. That you, with your anguish and tears and years of trauma, could blot it all out all over again.

If you did that, if you sold your soul again for peace, it would just come back, just like how your nightmares haunt you. Bits and bits all flooding you at once, feathered with remnants of dark emotions, of memories that were repressed within you so far in that you felt like your body was being snapped in two. Sukuna was playing with you.

You wonder, snatching a glimpse of yourself in the tall mirror, if you were losing yourself. Everything you once thought was attached to your personality suddenly felt obsolete, unoriginal, dull. It paled to everyone else, to people like Itadori with their quirks and their human-like smile and imperfections, little beauty marks beneath their eyes and dimples on their cheeks, and childhood scars from falling over on bikes (unlike your ones that make your throat dry from all the blood.)

Ever since you spoken to Sukuna, read your Mother's diary, you are slowly changing. You feel as if you had become artificial... fake... inhuman. If you prayed hard enough at time to whatever pathetic god was willing to listen to your cries, maybe you can walk out from this nightmare. Walk out from Cursed Energy and monsters and a thousand year-old god.

But then wouldn't you walk out on everyone who supported you? Believed in you? Befriended you? The thought of Itadori's face when you drop off the face of the earth and abandon your convoluted life, struck you with an uneven sadness.

It's your life,you remind yourself, feeling your ribcage wobble somewhat with shaky breaths. You steal another gaze at yourself in your reflection.

Your eyes seem bleak with misfortune, a mournful black eclipses the other colours, drowning them out. They stare, unable to fathom, unable to sustain a peaceful dream, merely existing, attempting to shade the world in with a palette of demons. Your hair is flimsy today, messed up and unkempt. You rarely keep it in check, finding it hard to take the time to care about yourself. You'd much rather tie it up in a ponytail and train than let Nobara spend two hours straightening it (apparently haircare is a long process).

And then, once you blink, you stagger back, a quickly drawn breath escaping your lungs. Mother stands next to you, as if she was always there. You turn immediately, feeling her ghastly breath, mellow and sweet, dancing on your skin like flower petals.

Her voice is hoarse and quiet, like the echo trapped in a seashell. It feels somber and distant but she's whispering right into your ear, her nails digging into your forehead as her palms massage your temple.

He's waiting for the right moment to seize control, [F/n]. He'swaitingforwhenyou're at your weakest.

Her hands travel slowly from your head, a playful hug─ a mother's hug. In reality, it feels so uncannily like a noose, like a god has wrapped you around their finger, choking the life out of you.

It's ironic your first thought went to a noose. Maybe you could predict your mother now, even if you can't remember the 'real' her.

Because as soon as you draw another breath, she clasps her hands around your throat like a clamp and begins to tighten. Your body thrashes and writhes and you choke, trying to speak but unable to. The startled panic in your eyes is like an animal being dragged to the altar for a sacrifice.

Those animals are too shocked to struggle, to even know what is happening. Blood spurts when the knife's edge falls over their throat and eventually their struggles grow weaker. And eventually... their kicking lessens.

And then they lay pitifully still.

Is that what's happening to you now?

No, no, no. I'm not weak... I'm not weak... Sukuna is not taking me to his Domain. Sukuna is not taking me to his domain.

Even if no one could hear you, maybe indulging in an internal soliloquy was what you needed to hear, because those words form a litany of prayers being uttered in panic, syllables tripping over and skipping into other words, garnering some sort of strength.

You will not die. Not today. Because no matter how bad the monsters and demons get, you can't possibly give into them, to become them, to listen to them. If you did, then your darkest fears would become true. You'd lose all sense of your self, rendered a vessel for a god, forgoing your sanity in order to become lifeless.

So, you think about how everyone will be wondering why you skipped Hashbrown Wednesday─ your favourite day of the week─ and why you aren't at training or in the library pouring over another book, and your hands reach up to your throat and snap off Mother's brittle fingers.

Itadori returns to your mind like a newborn god. The impression of his figure silhouetted against the dark moon when nightfall arrived, the way you had left each other swarming with overlapping thoughts. That feeling cried inside the essence of a fragile soul, tethered and knitted, as if an emotional earthquake threatens to fracture everything. And even though the guilt of wanting him created a hurricane inside you, the decay and rubble that remains from it still craved for him.

I will not let you win.You think of Nobara and what she said to you back at the Exchange Event, of what Itadori said, of what Gojo-sensei murmured when Junpei died, and your resolve returns.

Because you're in my head and I won't let you kill me...Sukuna.



buckle in y'all bc this chapter has 5.8k words ish

Chapter Text

Itadori felt like he was washed up on the shore of a cold beach as he twisted and turned in his bed, the warmth of the blanket becoming a brew threatening to boil over. Normally, he indulges in a few fantasies before falling into some unattainable dream, which was what had happened, but they were too short, slipping through his fingers before he could catch them. The anxiety in him was swelling like a balloon, fizzling and sweltering, almost devouring him whole the more he tried to bury it, but he simply couldn't.

It was overwhelming sometimes. To be him. To be stuck like this. To have hopes and dreams but worries and fears. And then to have Sukuna constantly in his head like a song on the radio you can't turn off.

Humans always seem tethered to something, whether it was endearing or parasitical for them. The universe is vast and endless but there is an end, and no one wants to be alone when it comes. That feeling of drunk wisdom when one finds something so utterly connective that they can't let it go until it's been squeezed of all emotion from their hands. A maniacal need to be fuelled by something, something to keep you in check. To keep you alive.

See, humans are fickle beings, swayed by the current of the stream, mindlessly launching off buildings and chasing false gods and imaginary shadows. They're manipulative and manipulated, as you once said, something your Mother drilled into you. Their desires are only so much until the jilting of reality kicks in. You learnt this slowly, letting the pain wash away each day until one day it was staring you straight in the face as you swallowed the belly of the beast, the blood — it dawned on you that your world was non-existent, a dreamland suited to the needs of the worst. Itadori knew; he was watching you as you slowly destroyed yourself, bit by bit, letting your heart of gold be the one to stretch your endurance thin and ruineverything.

Because everythingwasgoing downhill. It wasn't obvious at first but all it took was observance.

He misses the day he met you since he could only live it once. How looking at your smile was like blindly stumbling into heaven. The world seemed to bow down at your feet — boys, girls, nature. Even back then, you were still setting yourself on fire to keep others warm. You gave away bits of yourself to him and he wonders when he'll ever fully know you. That was just how it was back then.

Sure he knows you, but did he really like the person beneath the skin and bones? Itadori has seen the void that befalls your eyes; God doesn't like you. You're drowning in a pool of blood, limp like a fish on land. Even if you could get a butterfly to flutter on your finger, it would kill you eventually, eating away at the gooey canvases of your soul like moths to a flame. He finds that whatever happiness you experience is short-lived and it hurts.

At least he finds some peace when you laugh at his jokes, or when your heart skips a beat because your hand brushed with his. Or when he looks into your eyes and look at the sun gleaming on them.

Your eyes were a quiet kind of brown, like puddles left behind from the field rain, small and forgettable. They were the same eyes as your mother; what can't be undone cannot be cherished, so you were left with a relic to haunt you forever.

"Thinking about her, eh?"

Sukuna seems more confident today. Itadori wonders why.

Irked, he pushes the demon king out of his thoughts, but it's useless. "I don't need you spying on my thoughts."

"Tch, I'm not a perv like you, brat. Just thinking about the future," Itadori can see him now, the King of Curses atop his throne, smack-down in the middle of his mind.

He felt like he was wading through ice-cold waves. The static in the darkness was akin to an infection, almost boiling out his eyes. Still, Itadori was never one to give up. He knew his strength and welcomed it.

"Why the future?" His eyes narrow, "What are you planning to do with [F/n]?" His words curtail restrained thoughts, a trigger on his temper.

You return to his mind again like smoke he cannot wave away, nor catch. Each thought was like blood-slicked fingers reaching in and spooling the knotted mesh of anxiety saturated in black tar. With Sukuna, the two of you were fleshed out for him to see; all your flaws and humanity were exposed, like puppets being tweaked by their master.

"She'll come crawling back to me," Sukuna crows, spinning a skull around on his index finger. An idle expression hides the brutality within him. He turns, dark eyes sharp and cutting, almost killing Itadori instantly, "My vessel is much stronger than the others. Even if she thwarts my plan, her weakness was never her mother anyway."

Itadori is fixed in place, terror striking him when he tries to decipher Sukuna's words. He forces himself to take a step forward, "What plan? Are you going to kill her? I'll stop you! I won't let you hurt her anymore."

Sukuna leans forwards, laughing at Itadori's words, a litany of panicked thoughts quickly exiting a tongue. His expression darkens, "I can't kill her, you moron. She won't be able to carry my soul. But I can killhersoul — I only need her body. Besides...Yuuji. There is no stopping when it comes to God."

Itadori's lips move but everything falls away and the darkness of his dream returns again.


You hate bugs.

They're annoying as hell and it doesn't matter about how many times your parents used to tell you the wholeLook at their size and look at you!argument, you hate them.

Here, one would normally insert some sympathetic anecdote about how a bug traumatised you in your childhood but as far as you can remember, you hate bugs.

Which is why the intent to murder seemingly raged throughout your body when you noticed an insect the size of your fingerprint, on it's back helplessly as it wrestled on the window ledge, back in your home in Sendai.

Sendai hadn't changed much. It disturbed you how this environment remained the same, even if you were not present in it. You were so used to being a hurricane, absorbing in everything and being utterly self-destructive that you forgot about a sense of peace for a moment. This was most apparent because after the recurrent nightmares, you forfeited your right to solitude. Being alone would only make you realise just how empty it is to exist like this.

You may have gained your own strength but if you didn't curate it — keep it alive like a fire struggling to oxidise itself in the messy spool of a dark cave — then it would dry out, burn out n' be gone forever.

This realisation is what pushed you further into your training. You were falling into a river of power, floating and drowning at the same time. The waves drenched you as the days passed and then the days turned into weeks and two whole months later, you're sitting in the living room of your home, eyes staring and staring — the bug is still stuck on it's back and it's been ten minutes.

Gojo-sensei peeks from around the corner. He is too tall to fit through the doorframe so he leans in inelegantly, "Wassup, kid. That's what you guys say these days," He winks.

You roll your eyes, half-starting to regret bringing him along for a visit home but you're not a fan of going on public transport by yourself and Gojo knows how to buy train tickets. "Please never say that again!"

He slumps next to you on the couch and you can hear the springs beneath you weather and slouch. Your house is close to falling apart — it mirrors your family in a way.

It's bleak and uncharismatically empty, lacking the thrill and warmth most homes have. There was no sign of religion on the walls or shelves. Your dad dabbled in it in his youth — God, God and oh yeah!God— but he escaped it before the damage was done. You'd heard him muttering and murmuring and shaking his head when you asked those sorts of questions:'Don't put your faith in a higher being to change who or where you are, [F/n.] Don't be your mother.'Mm, and look where your mother's antics landed her, eh?

"You know," You begin absentmindedly, "Bugs probably carry bacteria."

For a moment, Gojo is confused; the blindfold hides most of his expression though. And then, he looks at the tiny insect on the windowsill. Since his world is a mirage of patches, an ocean of energy he explores, he looks at the insect. The hairs on his skin prick and he turns. The explosion of cursed energy is outwardly projected from you. He's confronted head-on with so much emotion, so much power, undiscussed thoughts, repressed trauma, sadness — it's nothing he's not used to but it's just strange to know how powerful you could really be if you tapped into it. Just for a split second, he's glad you're oblivious/unawakened or whatever. And that you're gonna be on his side to crush the higher ups.

If those pesky old wizards got to you... Well, he'd be screwed.

"Scared of 'em?"

You shake your head silently; you are a garden of red and black agonies all seeping with the puncture of rotten fruit. This emotion was a bluntness on the edge of light. Tepid eyes sear and then sharpen.

"Watch," A simper of a smile somewhat tugs at your lips. "I've been practicing."

Gojo does.

But before you could pull off your new-found party trick, your father enters the room.

Two months was enough for him to somewhat get his act together. Before, he used to look at you with a hollowness in his eyes like he was staring at an unwavering reflection of himself. It made you tremble with guilt, lugging it around like an anchor set to drown you.

Your father's eyes are less grey, less lonely. He splutters, a heavy tongue carrying unresolved emotions, curled up from wordless thoughts that dampen the back of his mind. "[F/n], do you want to take these to Mom's grave?"

You breathe, low and silently, lost in the world you forget to live in. Did it matter, this world? Where children cried themselves to sleep on the street, where people's words soften in sympathy when the words 'dead mother' escapes your drowsy lips one afternoon. And then it doesn't feel the same, because hearing it elicits a train of thought that cannot be stopped. Her grave. Her grave. Her grave.

It was like screaming — jaw unhinged, eyes widened, mouth agape and voice shrill. Screaming to the world about death, because humans may have made up the word for death but would fear it for eternity. They rest: six feet beneath the ground, rotting as society moves on, uncaring because no one cares for the dead unless they want to.

There's a different world when it comes to death, a difficult outlook, but no one cares because if you are living, you're living, you're not dead. But in the end, everyone dies.

You haven't been to her grave in literal years. You imagine it now, stone covered in moss, sticky with grief and loneliness. The grass around is overgrown, sullen and wilting, a weak and meandering grey that teeters into yellow during strong summers. The air is dead, unforgiving and cold.

"Sure," The words seem almost empty on your lips. You eye the tray of assortments held in your father's hands and turn to Gojo, "You can come with me."

Gojo is patient and replies with something kind but your eyes are fixed on the carpet and everything is blurry, stirring an unwanted sickliness inside your stomach. The colours of the world smash into each other, dizzying you further.

He takes the tray and whistles, "Let's go, [F/n]-chan!" And he starts walking off towards your garden.

It's okay. It's okay. It's okay.

You find a tender smile makes it's way onto your face, "Wrong way!" You call after him once he's disappeared from view.

"It's just my blindfold!" He laughs in the distance, which prompts you to do the same, and he starts hurrying to follow you.


There are two kinds of silence; the sweet serenity brought about from peace, and the destructive absence of sound that drives you to the brink of insanity. The silence after murder is utterly obliterative, like a piercing pain that seizes ears and yet you've felt it more often than not — death is no longer an insistence in this line of work, in the jujutsu world. Death, in person, cannot be a man but a beast. That is the truth that you seek in your eyes, the claws of a tiger that sits on the lap of Thanatos, awaiting the scent of bloody corpses and silent souls.

You're not sure which silence is enveloping you right now as you stand atop a small hill, blinking back almost every single emotion: hatred, anger, sadness, loneliness.

Your legs struggle to hold what feels like the weight of the world, knees buckling, you tremble in front of the headstone. The sun is searing your blistered skin as it climbs into the sky, marking the dawn of a new day, and leaving behind the darkness of the day before.

Now, your eyes bleed into greyish stone, where the name of your mother is etched forever, a remnant of her life, a relic of the lost, if you will. It's the closest you've been to her in six years.

She's rotting in the earth, rotting as she waits for you.

Did it feel good to do what you did?Don't youmiss me? (BE THE MARTYR FROM YOUR BEDTIME STORIES. Come join me. Join. Me.)

Your mind tosses and turns and you slowly lose yourself in the corners of your thoughts. The crevices of anxiety seep into the pond of your memories and every time you reflect on the beauty of your mother, her dreamy smile is cut loose by the tongue of her dead corpse, rolling in the back of your mind like a ghost that cannot be set free. Everywhere you go, she will follow you, and into the end of the night, she cannot be set free.

Sighing, you force your eyes not to spill tears as you focus them on the brown dirt covering Mother's body. Your heart hurts to the point of no return, rib cage rattling as the strings of your organ are stretched to the brink of breaking, teetering between mortal heartbreak and the loss of self in oblivion. You find your body shriveling under the agony of breathing and living above the molten remains of a corpse, which in the end, everyone will become.

It dawns on you as the sun glimmers in a breathtaking way behind the gravestone, as if dipped in stirred melting honey that drips across hopeful blue skies, that everyone dies. That one day, being a jujutsu sorcerer meant it was going to be your body being burned atop a pile of the others, skin peeling back against the roaring flames of a man-made fire. And then, the vessel that housed the essence that made you... well,you...would be reduced to greyish ashes and left to watch humans topple each other on the ground that they walk on.

You can feel Gojo's sadness besides you. Did you want this fate?

No, and yet your mind sulks.

That unwanted pining is born from a sinkhole your heart is submerged in, choking you in the watery wisps of an unattainable dream, a longing that comes from within. It's now more than ever when her absence dwells on you like a heavy wish, pressing your heart against the endless pit of oblivion, to bear the weight of the void, and the weight of being by your lonesome.

Your heart is trapped; suspended by it's own strings in a cruel but beautiful manner, stretched out as it's flesh is peeled off layer by layer, is that swelling sadness. You hate it. You hate almost everything about what you are feeling right now.

Why do I miss someone I know was bad to me? Because all the good memories outweigh the bad ones? Because I sympathise with her? I want to do what she wants me to?

Too many questions. And not enough answers.

"How ya feeling, kid?" Gojo asks suddenly.

His words disrupt the angry flow that had whisked you away from where you were, in an abyss between somewhere and nowhere. Your eyes tremble slightly, wavering in perplexion.


"Mm, I take that as overwhelmed. It's fine to be feeling what you're feeling right now, you know? I'm sure it was rough having to deal with all of this by yourself."

Contrary to the literal volanco of feelings exploding in your head, you don't like talking about your emotions so you laugh and push it away a tiny bit. "Pretty sure my mom's rolling in her grave right now when she looks at the sh*tshow I've become."

It was a hollow laugh, but the kind that filled the uncomfortable silence that was slowly choking you. Ringing in your ears, your laugh swallows you and spits you out a few minutes later.

Gojo stares. You find it hard to read him but frustration is etched onto his face; when will you recognise your greatness?

He purses his lips, "What were you going to do to the bug?"

You gently rest the tray in front of the grave, "I read something. In my mother's diary. A trick to use the shield as a weapon. It's only a layer that separates you from them. If I can control it accurately, I can suffocate my enemies or at least bind them and make them immobile."

Gojo listens patiently, awaiting more. He is curious. You are learning on your own, finding and tuning your power. He thinks back to his days and the ecstasy that rushed within when you could become powerful, when youfeltyour strength.

"At first I did it on big stuff... like that pole outside the training grounds," Ah, Gojo chuckles, remembering how he did a double-take upon seeing the contorted metal on his way to Masamichi. Sothat'show it ended up like that; he seriously thought he'd gone loopy from Calpol. "Then I tried it on small stuff. Beer cans and bottles, different materials and matter. Then I could do it on thumb tacks."

People normally think along the lines ofthe bigger, the better! but here, it was things like this that were true accomplishments of ability. Gojo knows how difficult getting the tiniest of details is and he has lived long enough to see jujutsu sorcerors unable to disperse every speck of Cursed Energy from their surroundings because small things are harder to pinpoint, harder to control, to gauge a depth perception of.

He smiles, swinging his arm around your shoulder, "I should get some custom stickers or something. Something like 'Well done! You survived Satoru's training!' or hmmm maybe, 'I am proof that Gojo is an awesome teacher!' Yeah, yeah I like that one —"

You laugh. It's a much better laugh, more lively now. "I'll be sure to wear them proudly. I thought you'd be a slacker but I guess I was wrong."

Gojo sighs, "I don't work at 100% on something I don't like, [F/n.]"

He wants to incite a revolution. He wants to crumble the hierachy and rebuild the world. Didn't he say when you first met him that he wanted to kill all the higher ups?

You don't reply, instead twisting your vision back to the grave since it is the only thing one could look at.

Gojo knows this is not only the grave but also the death site,the crime scene.The Cursed Energy that lived here was like an eternally-contorting explosion. A time loop stuck repeating itself, regenerating demons and curses. Gojo's eyes were blackened by it. There was too much. It was too heavy, too dark, too powerful.

He narrows his eyes. Something doesn't make sense.What happened here?He asks himself.

The grave is a symbol for your strength, in a way. You think back to your resillence from weeks ago, snapping off the fingers of a devil and promising to kill Sukuna.

To earn that hope, to keep it forever, to make it real and abandon the false ones and the lies, you needed to be broken back down to that ten year old girl again, to lose everything it means because that is the only way you can ever move forward in this world. That is a teaching that you are force fed, because the moment the blinding flash scars your peripheral vision and the screams of curses fill your ears, you enter the past all over again. To bloom and flourish and prosper, to remain eternally avoidant of wilting, you needed to kill the old you and remove everything the [L/n] clan worked so hard for. You may have been played like a pawn but you could topple the king.

You feel a shiver run down your spine suddenly, one that leaves you reeling as you turn — Cursed Energy slithers around you. And then, you see it. A boney spine slinking behind the grave, shadowed and sleuthing.

You strike murder just with your eyes and a wave of Cursed Energy flings itself at the curse. It's almost strange how natural it was now. But then again, you weren't training for nothing. The shield fractures the energy in the air and then scatters, gone like a flame licked out before it had time to live.

"Mm," Gojo taps his chin, "So this place is still reeking of Curses."

Her corpse isn't entirely destroyed, he eyes the grass,So the curses are attracted to this spot incase they can inhabit it as a vessel. This clan turned themselves into carapaces for them after all, so I imagine that's why [F/n] feels like this.

Gojo knows you are different from Itadori. Itadori was perfectly fine with being a vessel; he even remembered the teen agreeing to the conditions. You, on the other hand, on your first encounter with Gojo, objected to almost everything, saw the true unlawful injustice going on. But it wasn't like Gojo could help you back then; the higher ups were on his back about the Sukuna situation. Even when you were thrown head first into a world you didn't understand, you still had more morals than all of the sorcerers combined.

And yet, the truth about you as a vessel is what constructed your downfall.

You hear yourWorth Itringtone and your hand searches your pocket for your phone. When you find it, you look at the caller ID and see it's Itadori.

"What are the others up to now?" You ask, feeling your heart skip at the sight of his name. Wow, wow, wow, Itadori has such a nice name. Yuu-ji. Yuuji.

"On a mission."

You deadpan, "And you didn't think... to invite me?"

"Har har, I'm not the one who has been training non-stop and completely exhausting themselves. If I sent you into the field then you'd have dropped dead from the weight of your eye bags!"

"I'm never gonna get any real work experience, ya know," You sigh, a little annoyed.

"Aren't you gonna answer your boyfriend?" He teases in a sing-songlike manner, quirking an eyebrow.

You hasten a reply, shooing him away, "Alright, alright! And youknowhe's not my boyfriend!"

"I didn't make you guys watch all those movies together for nothing."

Holding the phone to your ear, you clear your throat before picking up, "Yu — Itadori? What's up? Ignore the annoying Gojo in the background by the way."

"Can we meet?"


You don't know why Itadori and the others are at Saitama Urami East Junior High. Hell, that name was almost as long as your old school.

As you walk down the tiled pathway, your mind is caught up by everything. The serenity surrounding you gave you time to think, drawing you back to unresolved issues.

It is growing dark now, skies slipping between shades. The night is still young as the curve of the sun finally sinks over the horizon, and eminence spills across the skies, infant and emergent as it reaches the darkened blue hiding behind shrouded clouds, clouds that melt ever so beautifully. They fade away as you watch them drift, and secretly, part of you wishes you were with them.

Your heart trembles just thinking about the sadness in Itadori's voice. Few things could do that to him. The sorrow deep-rooted in his words was transcending; there are words and then there are none because humans could come up with all sorts of syllables to string together but never live out the meanings or emotions.

Itadori walks on the track to your train of thoughts. You finally see him, sitting on a bench outside a building. There is blood on his hoodie. The red is the first thing you fix on it because it's so obvious.

Your legs wobble; you can feel him from so far. Your heart pines for him, rather embarrassingly. (Sometimes, you're so glad empaths and telepaths aren't real.)

He looks up, having had his face in his hands, and tired brown eyes glisten upon catching your gaze. Those eyes say it all — there is pain in being alive, more pain than dying, because living is suffering and dying is oxidation.

The way his lips flick upwards to greet you makes you run towards him, drawn to the conviction of his tone, the beauty of his own self. To know him was to know...well,him. And that in itself made you feel blessed just to know someone as brave and soulful like him.

He begins to sprint, running over to you and before you know it, his arms envelop you in a hug. The stench of murder is rife, yet you stomach the horror and ignore it. Your fingers rest gently on his backbones, face pressed onto his shoulder.

It is a long time before the either of you lets go, but when it happens, the two of you sit back at the bench, Itadori's cheek on your shoulder. He has a tremor in his hand.

"What happened, Itadori?"

He opens his mouth, expecting a warble or even nothing to come out, but instead, everything does. What he had kept caged, restrained and repressed, he had let loose his tongue in front of you. Itadori does not hold back, but it was like a stream of emotions overpowering him, compelling to blurt out everything that had happened as if talking about it would make it better.

Talking did. He talked to Nobara for so long that his voice was hoarse but he still wanted to talk with you, empty himself out in front of you.

"Their bodies didn't disappear," He murmurs.

Oh, it hits you. It was not an exorcism; it was murder. Bodies of Cursed Spirits disappear. Bodies of humans, like Mother's, do not.

You gently move strands of hair out of his way, lifting his chin to meet your eyes, "Did that make them human for you?"

"But he cried when he saw his brother die in front of him," Itadori looks up at the sky, fulling of pressing darkness. He is blinded by it, the memory of the blood and tears and how it struck him like that.

You are not very good at comforting people, but you are a good listener. You're not sure how to make Itadori feel better which hurts you because he had asked you to come here, for you to be there for him. Pursing your lips, you half-wonder, "You didn't know until they died, Yuuji. If you didn't kill them, you may never have known."

Itadori has bruises under his eyes, "Tears were shed over the lives I ended tonight."

"I see." Oh my god, you suck at this. What else are you supposed to tell him!

"Kugisaki and I decided we're accomplices... to what happened, to why there is blood all over my skin," Very suddenly, he turns, eyes full of pressing thoughts, "Do you remember what Junpei asked?"

You pause, the memory taking it's time to return. Junpei's death was a blot on your heart, sinking and spreading. His quiet expression arrives at the brim of your mind,You'll have to fight bad jujutsu sorcerers, right? What happens then?

"I won't let the option of killing force it's way into your life," Your words are concrete, "Yuuji, you know what the value of life is and what you're feeling right now is evidence of that. What you fear will not become reality. You are a good person, even if you do bad things for the sake of good."

He looks at you, still silent but carefully listening, hanging on to every word. Mustering another breath, you continue, "You and Nobara don't have techniques that could restrain them for long-term. Sometimes, it isn't deliberate, it's just what you're given with. Killing someone doesn't remove who you are. That's only if you let it, if you let it killyouinstead."

You take his hand, tracing the little scars and how soft his palm was against yours, "You know that I'm never gonna let you destroy yourself over things like this. You're a million things and sure an accomplice is one of them but sometimes it sucks that you can't save everyone."

Itadori bitterly smiles, "We're not the same people we were back in high school, are we?"

"Is that bad?" You laugh, "I cringe at the thought of who I was, a week, a month, years ago."

"It is, because I only get to experience meeting you for the first time only once," He grins, "Back when your only concern was if Takegi-sensei was going to give you detention."

You feel like that was years ago. Oh, how times changed. How the two of you had your lives uprooted, thrown into a world you did not understand but were forced to.

"[F/n]? Itadori?! Is that you?" You look up to see Fushiguro and Kugisaki standing in the distance with the backdrop of a large bridge behind them. Their faces are illuminated by the moonlight, revealing the extent of their injuries but also the glint of relief when they see the two of you.

"I'm glad the two of you are safe," Fushiguro says in his typical idle expression, though he hides his happiness in his dull eyes. You eye the scratches on his cheek and how his skin is melting away from red into pink.

You stand up and pull Fushiguro and Kugisaki into a hug, "I was so scared, oh my God. Itadori told me everything, I thought you died."

"Lower the voice," He sulks, scratching his hair, "My head hurts."

Glad to see even in peril, Fushiguro remains himself,you roll your eyes.

"Tch, don't try going to sleep with Sukuna's finger in your pocket!" Nobara tuts, looking to swat Fushiguro but he ducks.

"Just contact Nitta-san," He sighs, "We need to get it sealed at once. Cursed Spirits are approaching."

Itadori chirps, pointing to himself, "Should I just eat?"

Nowyouswat the back of Itadori's head, "No! It's not leftovers!"

Fushiguro folds his arms, "We don't have a clear idea of how many fingers you can handle."

He holds up the finger as if to illustrate his point.

You start to feel the air tense up, the hair on your skin spiking. A wave of dread overwhelms you; being in the presence of something so powerful was draining. It was foreboding, as if something bad was going to happen.

"But I will hand it over to you, since you have the most energy," Fushiguro explains, although he sounds reluctant. Then again, Itadori hadjustoffered to eat the very thing they were looking to ya know...noteat.

Your eyebrows furrow, "Remember, Itadori.Don'teat it."

"You guys always think I have the intelligence of a dog," Itadori whines, walking over to the finger.

You hover near, aiming to watch carefully.

However, that kind of backfires massively on your part. Because you see, it's not Itadori who eats the finger.

It's you.

Itadori's palm opens up and you spot Sukuna's tongue slithering out.


Sukuna knows exactly what he's doing. He bats the finger out of Itadori's hand straight down your throat because you were half-way through saying something.

It happens so fast you don't know what to make of it. Once the adrenaline passes out, the shock threatens to kill you. You feel the festering darkness in your veins, brimming and boiling more than ever.

Sukuna then cackles inside your head.Perfect.

And you fall to your knees, skin crashing against the concrete, feeling yourself retreating within. He's taking you away again. He's going to kill you.

And the silence. The silence of being trapped.

The silence is so loud; was silence ever meant to be like this? The sound of your heart beating is like an echo inside a cave, travelling for miles until it hurts your ears. Slowly, the unstitching begins; a spider crawls across the peripheral lane of the world, untangling the lies with the web of the truth, stringing everything together so it can come crashing down on you in one blow.

Did you think you were going to get away?His voice is sly and haunting. You've never hated someone more than him.

Chapter 26: REST IN PEACE




(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

You suppose he is unescapable. What stares agape, rolling out across your body like a rat's tail writhing in a cloth, is something horrid. Magic is a veil of evil and it chases you amongst your own emotions, unravelling the stitches that had closed-up the ghost breaking free from your own heart, birthed by someone that had been killed at your own hands.

It is bright. A feeling that hangs against your tongue like the pointed edge of a pin, pricking you when you lull yourself into this state of complete, utter, meandering. You are drifting out across sea, not in peril and yet something had died within your eyes, bitter and alone against the rumble of something far greater than you. You hate this feeling of guilt— it is fighting to kill you.

Nothing could quite describe it and you imagine if you had to explain the way your body felt burdenless against the silhouette of unimaginable retributions, it would be impossible to even emulate a word. This is how it always is: feelings are like water; you can't contain it and yet it overspills and you'll watch your lungs fill up and splutter out the envy, the sadness, the anger. Is that how it is going? Something pearled against the web of your palms, stretching out like a blanket across you, only to cuddle your hatred close to your own heart, but for what...

Serpentine is the lightmakeshift, hollow, twisted. What fills your vision is not brimming with luminous warmth but vicious glares and biting darkness, snapping at the hairs on your skin as your body aches for oblivion all over again. It feels much like you have been falling forever, cold air wrapping around your skin like a winter scarf, eyes searching for relief in the waves of ebony rolling over corpses.

Corpses that rot amongst the flowers poking out behind ivory ribs and beating hearts on the ends of sticks and stalks, and you are in a garden of your own blood, rivets of cerise that pulse amongst overgrown weeds and itchy grass. And you've planted the head of her at the back with the rose bushes and you'll bury her where the flowers growand you'll wonder if you water it enough, will you finally love her like she did for you?

Are you dead? No, no. He would never kill you. You can feel the hiss of his arrogance graze your teeth, as if he, himself, is the one strangling you. You are fixed in a motion of existing that drives you back to the veil of dreamy wisps of utopia: the perfect life, the perfect parents, the perfectyou.Existence is enduring more than the consequences of living for those who do not; it is more than what you truly thought in the first place. To exist was just waiting for the inevitable. That snatch of death. Dying, especially to a curse, was an ugly fate. Your mother had been buried out there, on that hill, her body shriveling in the absence of love; the more you slowly start to understand. She died in the same way that one would grind a fly to its death when it lands on the window; you kill it because you can, because you want it to die, you no longer want it's existence... or maybe, you never wanted it in the first place. So why should you be born if you could never be free from death?

Maybe, just as the flames of a hot, white, hell violently rip across your spine, you will allow this fate. It is not about what you wantif the crazed mania of tangled sanity, a nest that settled in the wreckage of your childhood, wants out, then so be it. You are more than you, for you carry more than bones and blood, but gods and martyrs instead. You ought to lose this fight, let your soul flicker out as if it was some poor candle fighting the winter winds, and give away to the inevitable.

And then suddenly, your vision fixes itself like a pair of crooked glasses, burning, scorching, the bottom of your brain being the ashes after a fire. You blink, startled, staggering back and looking around.

Sukuna stares back. "You are a human not a worm. And yet you're slippery, gross and stupid."

What is this feeling? And did he just call me a worm?!Desolation rattles in your ribcage, desperate to break free. You cannot bring yourself to meet what hides behind salmon lids, dull eyes shrouded in contemplation and deep thought, like you're drowning in a past memory, something distasteful that hangs on your tongue at all times.

"No response?" He arches an eyebrow, almost interested by how frightening the stoic, stone-faced expression seemed on your features. "You're normally more loose-lipped. Eh, that gives me more room to talk about myself," He folds one of his legs over the other.

You watch the light-coloured kimono crease across the folds, Sukuna's hands tucked into the billowness of the material, a gentle, soothing cream, almost a smiling purity. And then, the black edges that taint what little humanity dwindled inside him.

You are not giving up, per se. But alas, it is overwhelming. You scrunch your nose and squeeze your eyes shut before burying your face in your arms, a bitter, resigned longing haunts your expression.

"I hate you," The words cut against the slippery escape it had from your tongue. They clamber out, like bony fingers prying open the casket in which they had been sealed. It scratches deep inside you, a bubbling agony that froths across your chest. You hate that Sukuna-like expression of godliness, the one which hugs his eyes, as if he determined you so quickly and completely. You had been hollowed out, a complete annihilation of the self, and now what remains is a crisp, thin veil of pity, an obsolete jewel that a swallow would tighten in it's beak.

And now, eyes rich with cardinal, lacking the cathartic grin to bring meaning to it's life, spin like he had figured you out like a puzzle, a weak lock to a bobby pin. Once done, you will be discarded. But not entirely, as if that was bad enough. You'll lose who you are because what's left is just skin and bones, tied together as if you were some Christmas present being left on a doorstep.

Sukuna's eyes observe the changes in your expression, almost feeling your own thoughts. He's an invasion of poison, with rivets of curses crawling into the very veins you'll stare at for too long in the dim, crackling bathroom lights back at Sendai. "You are too naïve to confront what you did, so you fool yourself into thinking it was the work of others."

You stagger forwards and the horrible, guilty anchor of being a human is lodged in your chest and it heavies as you struggle further. And you bite back the torment just enough to see Sukuna at his throne, and how detailed the skulls he sit on actually were.

"Stop lying to me," A barely audible whisper slither out, as if you were on the verge of collapse. You know this feeling wasn't because you were upset, it came from a place buried underneath an untouched horror. You had planted this truth where her grave was, as if digging into the dirt and keep it covered would hide it forever, as if you could forget your own role in this. You, [L/n] [F/n] are not the person you try to be, and you'll never be that person: popular, friendly, loved.

You are addicted to things you can't have and you'll run after the fire that Prometheus shared, even if you will curtail the wrath of some higher deity, even if said god was just a roseate man that was more complex that your own past.

Sukuna's lips twitch like a finger behind a loaded gun, and as if he fires the fatal shot, his tongue moves quicker than his thoughts, viperous. "Should I pity you?"

"If I wanted to be pitied, I would have just gone to therapy," Your remark is childish but expected.

He presses further, ignoring the words of spite. "You are my vessel. It is not those human opinions but it is something written long before you were born, beforeIwas created. Your mother understood this, even her diary showed you the truth but I wonder if you boiled your eyes in water to blind yourself from this. She was a puppet, a means to an end for my return."

Your fingers judder, a rage that was being caged for too long.I will carve out my own path, even if it is a bloodied passage.

Sukuna continues, his tone jovial and almost light-hearted, as if musing on a lunch with a friend, "My essence was scattered by those annoying sorcerers, so this time it would take far more to revive me. I needed a humanly form to control and why hunt when prey is right there? Your people are below us now, brainless and blind. The [L/n] clan crumbled, one by one, when they drank my blood in their cultist rituals to carry my soul like a wretched womb across the years. And each of your sickly bloods and twig bones strengthened me. I am malignant, invasive,cancerous. I was killing you."

Those bloody eyes, violence protruding in the gleam of darkness, look disturbingly pleased. He is happy that he hurts you. He is over-the-f*cking-moon.

"It was only a member came that could control and produce Cursed Energy, I would use them," He notices your expression, "Don't be displeased about being a stepping stone. You know very well that being handed the short end of the stick is equity in this bleak, godless world. Brats like you ask to kill, not be killed. You're a sheep hiding amongst wolves, [L/n.]"

Dreams are but dreams, so you know that what you yearn is never anything but an "if". You tremble like an exposed nerve, as if you knew this was your eternity of suffering. Your history is brimming with losses and victims and an characterised unhappiness seen amongst all people:people that are never the hero. The thread of history is spun together at the hand of a spinster; the ridge of her spine is something the world dies climbing, struggling to stay afloat when the weight of humanity burdens all. Your shoulders feels heavy from such poignant loss; it's the anguish of a million souls, people who should have been alive. The cold air that brushes your cheeks tinges them rosy red, as if flecked with blood; it almost reminds you of hollow breaths from ghosts.

"Is this my end?" You hold your head high, "You are ready to ascend?"

Sukuna mistakes the lack of a stutter in your voice as a relucted submission; he grins, "It's just your beginning. This is cyclic and it will never end. And I don't need to ascend," He clenches his fist, sharp claws almost drawing blood, "I am already God, [F/n]. Now, it's your turn."

You anticipated this: the lunge after a predator's stare, the way he watched you like a viper that had readied it's fangs. His Malovent Shrine. His attacks were not just his anymore. You could almost read him now, like opening a book, lips parting and starting to recite.

Sharp blades tinged with red, cut through the air cleanly, but clatter upon hitting your shield. More follow, an odd, unrecognisable pattern. It reminded you of a murder of crows, beady-eyed and addicted to chaos. Sukuna thrives when he is powerful. He feels like he is where he needs to be. How can you take that away from him?

You remember the technique you had explained to Gojo back at home, where you let whatever ebbing, veil of instinct guide, a hand over your own, a Mother's touch. It is hard to calm yourself down like this, to rewind the clock and listen to the beating of your heart and how it pounds against your chest, heaving and threatening to burst.

The shield drops and you push that feeling of utter, complete hatred, a winding and infecting emotion that could snap your own bones, onto the attacks, sending them back. Sukuna narrows his eyes, "You're... hesitating... and yet..."

He stands before you. This place is his playground, after all. He raises his arm but you block it, the weight almost crippling you. More follow in-suit, a litany of blows that hit and then don't, but you can barely get an attack in, let alone allow it to injure him. You highly doubt he can be injured anyway, so you query how this fight can even be won. It seemed absurdly fixed, set in stone. How can you run away from the truth again?

"What are trying to do?" You hiss, "You know I can't f*cking kill you."

His eyes carry that same feeling from earlier, a look of satisfaction like you were some riddle to solve. "I am wearing your soul down. Can't you feel it? Once I am certain I can kill you in one blow, I might even do it."

You narrow your eyes, an attack having just narrowly scathed him, "Might?"

"Where is the fun in cutting off your head? I already did it to you once. Why don't I let you kill yourself? You are both the victim and the perpetrator of your own fate."

He steps closer and you scurry, feet tripping as you stumble backwards. Sukuna raises his arm, and almost as if he had spun it out of midair, she appears.

Feverish eyes and a glowing smile and you do wonder how pretty she would be in death. Your face is blank, like a scroll without words, lacking the touch of humanity, more in empty tears. Do you hate her? Hatred is a pretty emotion and you kindle it like a fire within your heart. Staring at her only deludes you into splitting into two, separate from this thin, make-believe of a ghost.

She is tender but dead, unalive in that cruel gaze. Those eyes of hers are widened and frothy with burgundy, peeling back layers of melted chocolate hues to reveal the secrets behind scorching to death.

The image of herbefore, is what fronts your mind; body twitching on the tree branch, autumnal eyes wide, a lidded, dead expression. It hurts, not just to see her like that, stretched so thin in the palms of mercy, but to know what the pain inflicted felt like. Back then, staring at those uncanny hollow eyes and watching your own sour expression turn so apathetic, something shifted violently within you, like the frozen surface of a lake in spring. That ice seems to burn coldly against your skin from all angles, devouring you whole to blur out the terrible truths. Recalling the events had never felt so blank and unseeing, as if perhaps they had happened but you were not there in the heart of all.

You know that to be false. But maybe it was just how you had been dulled down to think. The trauma traps your nursing, illumined mind in this never ending, tightening spiral — thishappened, she is dead. Still, nerved and shaken, you resist, because the truth is so awful that words cannot possibly compose the nature of it, not anyway.

Mother, that is the truth. And yet she stands.

You feel as if you watched it all happen from the sidelines, but you know well that you were there, cold wind whipping against your skin, hair tangled in tree leaves; your body was shivering, shrivelled and shrieking from the horror of what had been done, what had come out of you and her. Mouth wide open but no screams come out —who's going to hear you?

It is now it dawns on you that Sukuna is a part of you, for he can understand the feeling you cannot describe. The feeling of when every time you try to push Mother away, she returns stronger in your head: this idealised image of her that you have is tarnished by the reality that she isn't perfect, that you chase her because you can, not wondering what the consequences truly are because you know can't handle them. For you see, know now, that a heart is a dark, wretched observer. It won't bleed. Maybe the slightest for someone like you (but it won't be enough.) It is not the mother's womb — it can never stretch to make room for you. Sometimes it does feel like that. You cannot be loved by someone who is destined to do so.

And you are falling back into the feelings you had put away, tucked into the drawers and corners of your childhood home, beneath the mattress or behind the potted flowers. You think too deeply about everything. And you can't tell if that allows you to see more of the world, or less of it.

God, this horrible, horrible feeling. This feeling — the one that makes you feel like someone drove a knife through your heart —thatfeeling. "What did you do?" Oh, your lips quiver, a bow with an arrow that won't fire. Your nails cling, fingers digging into your temple because the more you stare, the more it stares back. The moreshelooks.

You were aching for stability, for the past to be fixed (as if could be, as if it was ever broken). Broken is just reality.

Broken is just fearing that everyone you know is like them — Sukuna, Mother, Father. Broken is wanting to kill them with your hands, press your thumb against their neck and squeeze the humanity out of them and yourself. Sweet is the desire for revenge; that's what makes it so addictive. Broken is wanting to dive headfirst into the ocean, wanting to feel the sting of cold ice caressing your shoulders as you plunge further into the dark abyss. As if that was better warmth than a hug from your cold, dead corpse of a mother.

Sometimes it felt like something inside you was wrestling to take control. Other times, part of you screamed to be killed, knowing that no god would ever hear your woeful pleas— only sh*tty Sukuna.

You see, you have always been like this, hm?

That 'want to die'. The bad thoughts. The anger. The madness.And being drunk on the illusion of happiness at ten years old because it is the truth: what you want to go away will never actually disappear. It is a scar that cannot heal, not like this, not when you want to remove the memory of a loved one until they had been winded back out of existence.This is never going to happen,you think as your heart yearns for the stranger in front of you, the soul of your mother, linked by blood and evil.

"[F/n]," She coos— you don't recoil, but you don't embrace it. You're fighting the urge to hug her and it hurts. You vehemently remove the image of her teary-eyed face and warm smile from your head. "Where did the years go? You've grown."

"That's not my mother," But even you aren't convinced. You can feel Sukuna's grimace on you, malice tucked between his teeth like he's preparing to feast on your soul. He'll put you through hell and back. You dislike this idea of being roasted like a marshmallow. It is a very humiliating concept.

"Please don't think you're losing," Mother lifts her arm and her thumb strokes your cheek, palm cupped against your skin, "You have never failed me, [F/n]. Because... I have always loved you."

No, no, no. She is my mother. I am supposed to her and she is supposed to love me. This is how it works. I don't hate her. I am not supposed to hate her.

Your shoulders melt and so does your defensive stance as she pulls you into a hug, "Please come with me. Take away your pain and be the person I taught you to be," She whispers into your ear, a low lullaby-like voice that is akin to an angelic hum.

You feel torn, almost shadowed by the guilt you lug around so much, compelling you to nod. And yet, your voice echoes a quiet, wobbly murmur, "No... I don't want to."

Sukuna's claw digs into your shoulder, "Funny coming from the girl who murdered her own mother at the age of 10. I would have thought you'd want to climb up the ladder with that history."

He had said it: the truth. It spasms throughout your train of thoughts, the jolted, bloody memory of anger, frustration and bitterness, the way the curses pulsed across your vision like your own secret friends, the disappointment of never being loved, of naming all the brands of alcohol before all the cities in Japan. It is making you nauseous now, how slippery the blood seemed and how the violence didn't stop. The idea of fracturing your perfect life... the perfect you... the Good and the Bad...

Your eyes widen,I can't... I can't go back to that...

[Mother & Junpei whisper:You know what you did.]

"No, no, no. I am not a bad person," You say it as if it will make it a reality. Instead, the words hit hard and brutally.

Death seems to wash over you like a violent tsunami, a wave spinning and spinning into a swirl that flushes your cheeks. Death is a mirage of sanguine, an ocean screaming and yelling as it plunges it's victims into the abyss, a tepid coldness running over bodies, swallowing up the light. It is no god, and yet, when nature runs its course, swaying the mortals towards the inevitable, it watches and crows. Many run, unable to sprint forever, trembling against the threat of eternity. They run away in the mortal world but when they are taken away, drowned by a bloody wave, it is all at once, inescapable -- death is inevitable, is it not? That is why you don't run, not anymore. Beyond porcelain bones, gory organs and bloodbath seas, beyond that mirror of evil, lies the calm after that storm, and the calm before it. That is death. That is who death is and will forever be. Nothing seeable, nothing tangible, just an ocean with an unattainable heaven and a seabed with rotting bones.

Sukuna shrugs, "So be it."

Mother drives her hand into your chest like a blade and your guts start to spill out.


"There's no f*cking manual for this sh*t!" Nobara pulls Itadori by the collar and starts violently shaking him, "Oh, you dummy! We're screwed! [F/n] is gone."

The forest is quiet sans Nobara's shouting, which Itadori could only equate to that of a headless chicken. Although, how would a chicken shout if it was headless? He has no time to ponder over that in the middle of this.

Fushiguro resists the temptation to roll his eyes, "Kugisaki-san, don't lose hope. She is still alive. We just don't have much time."

"Time? Until what?" Itadori finally pries Nobara's hands off him and gets to his knees besides your unconscious body. His eyes gently rove over you, hair sprawled out and messy amongst the dirt floor, your casual clothes a little disheveled, your face lackluster of colour and blood. And he noticed the pearled tips of your fingers and the edges around your face, a gleaming black at was hugging your skin tightly, reminding him of black ink.

Fushiguro remains silent until he too observed the changes, "Her soul is being killed right now. There isn't a lot we can do."

"Her... soul?" Nobara kneels down next to Itadori, gulping back a moment of weakness.

The latter nods, "It's Sukuna, isn't it? She told me he was trying to get to her."

Fushiguro looks away, "Her soul will be gone but her body won't. The [L/n] clan are infamous for their indestructible corpses. So... in likely chance that this body will—"

"No." The word came boldly off Itadori's tongue and it was purely instinct. The mere thought of what Fushiguro was insisting, threatened to drive Itadori insane. He would be plagued by this, as if he too had suffered the same infection. Itadori cannot lose you, no no no.

You don't deserve this fate and it hurts him like this. You deserve the world and he wants to give you that, if only he could...

Nobara's lips tremble, "Can she hear us? She must be with Sukuna in this moment. Are you sure we can't do anything?"

Fushiguro watches the nerves under your skin start to wither, "She can hear us, if you try hard enough it will reach her. [F/n] is strong; she won't give in easily."

Itadori's nails cling to your arm, resting your head in his lap. Shaking, he opens his lips, and for the first time, much to the pleasure of Fushiguro and Nobara, he does not shut up.


"Mnhmhn," Your head starts spinning and you say something groggily, "W..why?"

It wasn't an instant-killer stab, but a slow death is exactly what you deserve. Something painful to remind you of what you are. No, not a roasted marshmallow, dummy.

You twitch, mouth ajar and something horrid comes out: a scream, a gasp, a cry. You cannot hold it in. If you thought cramps were painful, well oh boy, you were in for something worse.

Mother relents, staring unkindly. She has lost her love for you.

You can't think straight. You're hearing voices and you do that a lot— hallucinate, I mean— but everything is threatening to drown you.

Itadori's voice is what you can make out the most, syllables blurring around the edges as if you're underwater."You are not responsible for who your mother was."

"It..itadori.." His voice is so lovely, oh, you would listen to it for hours on end.

Sukuna, who had been watching enthusiastically at the blood oozing slowly and meticulously out of your torso, rolls his eyes, "Not that brat. Tch, despite his dense brain, he's surprisingly more strong-minded than you. You should step up your game, [F/n]. At least, he gives me a challenge when I have to use him."

"—and your life doesn't end when you take another's because you taught me that! You of all people know how to be kind, how to care about someone, and you are the strongest person I've ever met, [F/n.] And I metToshiki Yamamoto once! Sorry... I'm just struggling... because... because not enough words and time can help me tell you that I like you for who you are, and that it doesn't matter if you're perfect or not, if you can't run 30 laps or if you can. Because you have loved and are loved, and even when you get hurt, you get back up. That's you, [F/n.] Even in high school you did the things you didn't like and got through the day even if it wasn't the best. Please, don't think for one second that you are exactly who your mother is or she wants you to be, because the person I know will not give up in a fight. And if you can't do it for your mother, do it for yourself. That is how you make amends with your past."

Your eyes blur at the sight of Mother, "I am not you... andand you are not me."

You look down, heart racing, everything starting to tinge with that familiar haze as tears swell up in the lid of your eyes. The adrenaline bars the pain from entering but the sight of the blood is already enough to incite anguish. Red soaks your clothes in an area around your torso and you buckle, eyes starting to roll.

You have paralysed my sense of freedom. You've taken away more of me than I ever could and I can't get back what I lost because of you. But I have a future now, and I can't let you take that away from me.

And you fight your own breath, keeping it still as you summon your last attack—your body feels like it's on fire, skin peeling back and organs spilling out on the floor; crimson gushes all over slabs of rock like spilt paint, slippery and sticky.

"I'm sorry," Your lips wobble, heart slowing down. It was starting to come together, what needed to be done. How to sever the bond between you and Sukuna.Your voice turns to a sob and then a cry and then the pain stops being sharp — it's now blunt but spreading over your ribs. "I can't love you the same way you did for me."

Your left hand takes the cold, lifeless palm of your mother, having half-hoped it would have the barest hint of warmth, the faintest tell-tale sign that she was alive and real. But ghosts get your hopes up, which is why you must let them live in the empty hallways of the past.

You pull her closer, almost going for a final goodbye, a hug, but then—

You plunge your arm straight into her chest, ripping through the rib-cage, and amongst cracked bones and horrible spillage of blood, hah and enough gore for a low-budget indie horror movie, you hold her rotten heart in your palm, wishing it was alive.

She watches you with a sad smile, not betrayed but almost put to rest. She dies at your touch, humbled and upset, eyes heavy with sadness.

Mother's pale sleeping face appears everywhere you look, she is at rest, slumbering away, but the white of her skin has merged with the frost of the snow, she has melted away into the winter, and is lost forever.

Your entire arm is twitching uncontrollably and your entire body feels on fire but somehow, you've never felt more alive. As if you had killed to keep your own life and was giving rise to bile in the back of your throat.

I killed her. I killed her. I killed her.

When? 6 years ago or just now?

Sukuna scoffs, almost surprised, "Hm, your strength has definitely improved." His eyes linger on the pool of cerise collecting at your feet and the sticky coat of blood on your arm like a glove. "I'll have to go all out the next time, I guess. Brats like you always wait till the end to prove themselves."

You open your mouth to speak but nothing comes out, it seems you have used up your voice for today. So, you stand still, as if being left behind, "For now, I gotta wait on Fushiguro and Itadori."

The last thing you can remember before he disappears is that malicious grin penned across his face, one of such relentless apathy. He had not yet let go of today's whims.

But then again, neither had you.


(epilogue next chapter maybe??)


Not da final chapter , epilogue has been published btw

Chapter 27: EPILOGUE: WHO AM I?



Chapter Text

It feels like dying.

And itmustbe; a death of some kind. You remember other deaths that circled you quietly, vultures of oblivion perched just out of sight. The slither of blood out of your womb; violent hands jutting past skin. They felt like this, vast and smothering. They wrapped you in their frigid arms and gently shut your eyes. Chased off in the end by bitter eye-to-eyes with empty beer bottles and an unmarked gravestone but not this time.

This time, you're struggling to even stand. And it's crippling; who am I again? Who am I now? There is no mother to smile at, no quilted blankets at home, nothing to bare teeth and suffer with. There is only you and your death and this sinking feeling as it all fades and falls and fizzles away and there will be nothing left of you, not a single thing for him to find, when this hungry darkness is through with you.

'Hey, are you okay?'

You're going to crash, burn out, wander beyond the chasing embers but have no stones to make sparks with, havenothing, because where did you go again after he left? Deep into your own ribs, buried against the heart you had thrown away. . . The pavement is too gray with the haze of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Chewing gum clumped at the curb with the smell of wet dirt and fresh grass and speckles of wildflowers growing across the landscape.

'[F/n]? Hey? Please look at me.'

You're standing outside your high school but three months on after Sukuna and it still doesn't feelreal. Numb and weightless, you are blinking back the fog until your vision clears again. The voice wasn't Sukuna but was it fright that scurried over your expression like prey? Your chest tightens like a heavy stone has settled there.

Itadori gently takes your hand. You feel a strange sensation fall over you, something you don't trust at first. It's like numbness but not the same, something that slows your rapid pulse and coaxes you out of your guard.

Relaxed,yourealise. That's what your feeling. It's been so long you didn't recognise it.

And yet, it was still... horrible. A horrible, guilty, ugly feeling you've been trapped with for too long that the misery had become just enough comfort for you, like a threadbare blanket pressed against your lips. Too many people had explained it to you, as if you are an open book they penned:you're grieving, it's okay, you need a break, you need you.

Now look at you. Standing in the chilling cold, wondering where the vicious, inhuman, chittering of the make-believe monster in your head is.Notmissing him but missing the feeling of being wanted or needed because now you're "normal again."

Then again, it's awkward when the words you want to say become tasteless in the thickness of the air. Said air was already so brittle it could snap and if it didn't, one of you two might. Perhaps it was because things are different now.

You left.

Jujutsu Tech is nothing more than a name on your school records, a meditation institution you briefly accquaintanced yourself with, enough to keep everyone happy. Everyone except you.

No one speaks; what is there to say?

A lot, actually. Enough for you to blurt it out and all the words would fall onto the ground and you could trace the syllables with a light hum but you worry you'll never be understood. Still, it seems Itadori does—understand, that is. That's why he's shown up out of the blue to walk you home but you feel like you're slowly dying, but hey, look at him. . . look at him.

Maybe it will be okay.

You let out a slow, controlled breath and attempt to loosen your body movements. It was like splitting flesh, cracking bone. You became stiff after It happened. Three months later, standing with your hands in your navy blue jacket, with a boy you think you love, feels more torturous than those romance novels make it out to be.

But he's still there. He's doing it, for someone like you, the same way he'd hold your hand and love how it fit warmly into his. He names every etch of himself with your breaths, heated and tempered under glass until it spins in a shine that mimics your eyes. It gradually dwells on you with the quietest pining that you had laid yourself bare of your troubles and trauma, all for him to garden the acres with kindness.

'Hi,' Since when was your voice so brittle?

The pink blush dusting your cheeks and nose, voice small, hands unable to hold still as you drummed them constantly against your thighs, rubbed your thumbs, glanced here and there and anywhere but at Itadori—it was driving you insane how badly you missed him. You wake up and he isn't in the room next to you. He isn't daydreaming in class anymore. He isn't running laps at the school sporting grounds.

'Hey,' Itadori smiles. What a pretty, f*cking smile.sh*t.

You could spend an eternity watching him trip over his own words, listen to the shallow dip and rise in his breaths, the husk in the back of his voice when he laughs. You feel like you could do anything, and it reminds you of back then. When his voice was a string you pulled on to reach the light, when his words were a plaster that hid the wound in your torso.

Letting go of him was harder than you thought it'd be. But now, he's back. And he pulls you in, even if the air is heavy and the sky's all wrong.

He keeps trying and losing his nerve, shifting the way his fingers are wrapped around yours. His thumb strokes the back of your hand, and then your wrist. He traces shapes up your arm until he reaches your sleeve and you lean into it. Return the favor, even.

You stare at the spaces between the clouds in the sky, hands joined together. You could do this forever, you think. Just lie here with your hand in his and do nothing but exist peacefully.

You bask in each other, a hug that might stop the hurt once and for all, until he can see through himself, until your thoughts peel outwards of your mind like a hurricane ripping across your heart and bones.

Finally, one of you relents. The moment is not timeless, after all.

"Why didn't you call?" You hear the concern in his voice, tip-toeing around the edges of his own lips as if trying to go unnoticed. He worries about you.

"Wh.. Oh," You pause, allowing yourself a moment to let the words seep into your own skin before they were projected into the world. "I don't know. I don't know what the f*ck has been going on with me, lately."

I've been avoiding you because I like you and now that there's no more obstacles in my way, I have to actually digest the fact that I want to live a normal life, even if you might not able to do the same.How do you tell him that?

You can almost hear your own heart shattering, twice over, then again, and again, and again.

Itadori bites his lip, "Do you remember when you came out of Sukuna's domain?"

f*ck, f*ck, f*ck. You know why he's bringing that up.

Tears were starting to swell up in your eyes now—sh*t, am I making you cry? Itadori panickedand you bunch your fists together, sinking into your quivering lower lip. "I... I thought I was going to die." Because it feels like dying, all. the. f*cking. time.

"Walk with me," He whispers, and he starts to take you home.

Well, what else are you going to do? Run away? So, you walk besides him, not behind, as if you had always been trailing him from the get-go, but you're starting to feel at ease. Your heart is windless and gentle, which makes you feel even more vulnerable.Pain sinks to yourgut, like embers burning slow, smoldering the bitterness away. With each spare second, your mind rehearses a new letter to recite.

You blurt it out, having held it in like a bottle of your screams that was going to unwind and explode at any moment. You had prayed you would keep your feelings tucked neatly between your ribs and hide it behind the guards of false halcyon, but alas, you want him to know.

Because you are falling again, but not in underbrushes of cold touches and empty hallways, but in the arms of the boy that will be there to catch you when you stumble. And you're floating, like a lilo that's been cast at sea to rest, and you wonder if you could make what you have with him last forever. Sukuna told you that fairytales are fake but he isn't here now.

Well, as you finally look at Itadori—salmon pink hair and easy-going doe-like eyes, the colour of the woods at nightSukuna is hidden behind that.

"I like you, more than just a friend, more than just a best friend, Iloveyou. I love you because you care for me in ways that I have never felt anyone else do. You come back for me time and time again when I can't pick myself up. With you, I don't have to be afraid, I don't have to become someone else other than me," Tears bead at the corner of your upturned eyes, bitten back by a wobbling wall—said wall was going to be broken down by your emotions. "I love you like I love pink sunsets that match the colour of your sh*tty-dyed hair and freshly picked apples. I love you like the world just ended but all I can see isyou.Like all I need to do is look at you and want to kiss you, hold you in my arms and run with you to the end of the earth, and I understand why people do the things they do for love. You give me the courage to say it—I love you."

And once it's out, it can't be undone, it can't be taken back and maybe it was relief that washed over you with teary eyes under the afternoon sun in Sendai. Now, the pavement with the cracked slabs and plastic litter suddenly looks like a better thing to look at than the person you have fallen for.

You hold your breath in some perverse twisted feeling that had swollen deep inside you, wanting your heart to halt, your body to still, for everything and everyone in this world to just—


There was something magical about the shape of the vowels on your lips when you spoke every word in a way that mirrored just how Itadori felt about you. Every word. It clicks together like chains on a necklace. A needle and a thread. You loop into him like the bulb of a venn diagram.

"I love you, too,"Itadori smiles, his lips gently tugged against his cheeks and it makes such an adorable, loving expression. He tucks a short strand of hair behind your ear.

Holy f*cking sh*t, you exhale through labored breaths and a forced smile, throat tightening. "f*ck, I didn't think ahead... what now?"

What now?! You didn't have a plan for this. First, Itadori shows up out of the blue after three months passing since you woke up half-dead in his lap,collapsed in a puddle of red snow and your own leaking insides, warming your frigid skin. Second, you blurted out that you have the biggest, fattest crush on him—The L word as Sasaki-senpai would tease you with right now.

Third... Itadori gently squeezes your hand as if to sayhey, it's okay.

Meanwhile, Itadori wonders if he needs to pinch himself out of this dream. That this moment has collapsed into itself like a psychedelic, let loose with colours and spirit. That the space between you and him has turned into the finest point possible, until it bends inwards inside your eyes and explodes outwards like a grand revelation. It is as if the world had ended but then it just began and everything is so new: he wants to run across it forever, anywhere and wherever. In the end, it would all just lead right back toyou.

You wonder if this was what hunger for skin had felt like.Sweaty palms. Elevated heart rate. Can't keep your hands off him, always finding excuses to wrap your arms around him, card your fingers through his hair.

Your skin tingles every time he touches your hand, your fingers lingering on his just that second longer. Your heart beats so erratically in your chest it could very well fly out. With flushed cheeks, and a heavy stomach, your whole being lights up like a supernova.

"Can I walk you home?" He asks quietly, as if he really needed to. The two of you are already half way there. The dimples that indent in the corners of his embellished skin is your last coherent thought before you space out entirely, "Nevermind... we kind of already are."

He scratches the back of his head awkwardly and almost catches it, the way your irises are clear like blown-out smoke.

You hum, wondering how to blot out the uncomfortable emotions pitted in the air. "Would you... like to watch a movie with me tonight?" Your words spill out slowly, as if the truth can take its time. As if there is a force behind them, yet the kind that is respectful and quiet—a determination that's observant and patient.

Was that overkill? Were you jumping to conclusions? Are you guys dating? You realise very quickly that you had always immortalised Itadori in the fragments of his happiness, for it had then become yours to share with—laughs, smiles, simply being. There was no wider yearning trapped inside your ribs and blood that wanted nothing more than to bring him that joy. Happiness would catches on his face with a starlit luminescence and laugh lines crease into dimpled cheeks. You dwell on that desire, a husk hungry for warmth, to be clambered into and nested. For him to make you as happy as he makes you. (You wonder if you could ever do that.)

"Hell yea," Itadori grins from ear to ear, which gently guides the conversation back to something normal..ish.

He gives you something you had long since forgotten what the taste of it was—hope. and you cannot tell anymore how to understand it, the good from the bad, the happy from the sad. Hope had always been a wretched womb that was birthed into death the moment your mother breathed her last in this terrible world. It crushes you beneath your feet like a building's collapse, your heart anchoring itself to the floor in some pitiful weighted burden. But then it moves like a tsunami in bits and pieces, sweltered and relentless, fluid and freely. It gathers calamity and kills it with a breeze, sweetens a smooth surface and revels in the peace. It exists in the might bitingly refreshingly way out of the darkest hours.

You press your lips into a thin line, "Cool... I was thinking we could rewatch something we both like. Human Bloodworm 3, maybe?"

What was it with you? Are you growing anxious at the thought of a date?Isthis a date?You don't quite know what word to attach to your feelings at this moment, in fact. You aren't obsessed.

Itadori's eyes are soft to look at. He understands now, having spoken to you in earnest, that the soul of a lover is constantly troubled, and can only be stilled when it comes to an end. You are probably feeling the same way.

"I'll bring snacks. Gojo is making me finish his pile of candy he bought from Kyoto," You smile at that. Your lips twinge at the mention of Gojo. You had been particularly sad to see your new friends go. But Gojo's words are unforgettable and so is his impression. You'll remember how cold the skin of a curse is, how easy it is to strike murder. But your mind will echo with the laughter of silly teenagers playing around on the field, of a grown blindfolded man complaining about how height, of a mother that could have been and a father that is growing.

The sun reminds you of a coaxing, white light. The wrath that Sukuna invoked. Your lips part before you realise your thoughts were being spoken aloud, "He wouldn't stop. . ."

"Sukuna?" Itadori falters. It is a taboo word, is it not? Even if Itadori can hear Sukuna in his head. Even if Itadori cannot shut up the demon king's words (said demon king was complimenting your fight style).

You nod, "Mm. He kept... killing me. Over and over again." Silence, and then, you let out a sigh, "But I came back each time. And then, I stopped it. I ended it. . . By killing her."

You turn. You cannot bring yourself to say her name.Mother. You must leave her where you did, six feet under, buried on the hill half a mile out from your home.

"You heard what I said to you, right? When you were in his Domain?" Itadori cups your cheeks in your hands. His palms are warm and it reminds you of the way a fire flickers in the early stages of winter.

You nod, "Without you... I don't think I could have done it." Embarrassed, you turn away. "I used to think of myself as weak. The more I did so, the more I actually became it. It was hard to break myself away from a pattern of thought I didn't question for sixteen years. I wonder why," You look down at your scarred hands, "Why now?"

Itadori gently takes your hand, "Because you're not alone. I'm here for you. Hell,everyoneis here for you. And you are stronger in ways that no one else can ever be. And I'll always be there when you're at your lowest, just like how I ran those laps with you back in school."

His words bring about a tinge of red on your cheeks. You quickly put it forth to the winter weather but the blush is evident.

"I don't care anymore," You say dreamily, thinking about what happened across that year, "I used to. About being strong or weak. About having power or not having power."

Itadori is silent, almost mulling it over. You continue, a smile briefly graces your lips, "It was the fight at the end that mattered the most. Even if I couldn't hold my own in the beginning, I eventually did."

And you lift your shirt, revealing a long and thin scar from when your mother stabbed you. Because, even if it was all in your head,it was still real. And it was a battle-scar, an old wound, nothing more than the eternal remnant of a horrible and frightening memory. Never fleeting, never entirely gone. But you won't let the pain of being who you are become tattooed into your head. You may be your mother's daughter but that didn't make you nothing more or nothing less.

Itadori grimaces but then he lifts his finger and begins to trace, to which you quickly pull down your shirt, "H-hey, that's ticklish! Help! We're not even ten minutes into our relationship!"

Maybe that's what the two of you needed to heal from the trauma of the past year. A laugh or two in the middle of street, followed by a chase all the way to your own house. And your now-sober father asking Itadori a million questions about you and him.

You will never forget the way your dad's face broke into a smile when he saw how happy you and Itadori were.

Sure, sometimes, the scar will flesh out and hurt again, and it will feel like dying. But you suppose that's what makes moment like this, walking home together holding each other's hands, more bittersweet.


Floating Like a Lilo - mahiverse - 呪術廻戦 (2024)


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