Fushiguro regains consciousness two days later. It takes time to knit back together the splintered pieces of himself; his mind echoes of vacancy, negative space that expands until spilling over, and Fushiguro is at once awake. His bedroom looks the same—sparse, organized—but the atmosphere is heavy.
There is a knock, and when Maki barges through the door without invitation, the belated anticipation of Gojō’s appearance crushes against Fushiguro’s lungs. His memories aren’t fully synthesized, hazy around the edges; he remembers Shibuya as something abstract and indistinct, but of this he is certain: Gojō is trapped inside the Prison Realm.
Maki’s voice cuts through his nausea.
“You finally woke up.”
“Yeah,” he huffs.
Neither Fushiguro nor Maki know the directions for navigating this situation. The sheer enormity of its devastation and uncertainty renders language futile, wholly incapable of encompassing it. There is nothing to say, except—
The space between Fushiguro’s lips barely opens before Maki interrupts: “Itadori? I don’t know. Locked himself in his room when we got back and I haven’t seen him since.”
He nods, grateful when she wordlessly dismisses herself.
His mouth tastes of bile.
Fushiguro doesn’t bother knocking; the dense, impregnable shadow inundating Itadori’s bedroom would have swallowed the sound anyways. The door opens and immediately it creeps beneath his skin—black viscosity, a sentient gloom that curls icy tendrils around his wrists and lures him further into its stygian domain, spits him out at the edge of Itadori’s bed.
“Fushiguro,” Itadori croaks. “What are you doing?”
Itadori is sitting, knees gathered toward his chest, head against the wall. If it were anyone else—if the very marrow of his bones didn’t ache with exhaustion—perhaps Fushiguro would pay more mind to prudence. But as it is, he settles himself directly beside Itadori. Their shoulders brush and the the thighs of their clothing bleed into one another.
“Itadori,” he says. “I’m glad you made it out.”
He hums a noncommittal response.
From beneath heavy eyelashes, he greedily swallows every detail he can parse of Itadori; the darkness is inexorable, so thick breath aches like a choke, but Fushiguro is accustomed to gazing at shadows. The tanned radiance of Itadori’s features have dulled pallid, expression an empty husk with sunken checks and impassive eyes.
There’s a fresh scar running down the length of his features; even if Itadori could repress all the trauma and nightmares from his mind, the pain is a landscape permanently carved across his flesh.
Fushiguro’s heart seizes. The observation throbs like a chest wound.
He angles his head slightly.
“When Gojō-sensei first told me about my execution, I kept thinking, Why do I have to die? But now… I—I don’t know—I thought being Sukuna’s vessel would help people, but if this is the cost, then—”
Heaviness settles deep inside Fushiguro’s bones. He cannot decide whether it’s sorrow that misfortune’s thick tar has consumed someone from whom the brightest, most enamoring light radiates, or if it’s outrage that such a hideous, toxic existence has befallen someone through which life’s loveliest is exemplified. Both, perhaps.
“I’m—sorry,” he weeps. “I’m sorry, Fushiguro. You saved me, and I’m a murderer—a monster. I’m so sorry.”
Instinctively, Fushiguro winds an arm around his shoulder before an inner crutch slips and Itadori bleeds. He collapses into the space in Fushiguro’s chest reserved solely for him, heaves violent sobs and clings to each fragmented comfort Fushiguro can offer. Fushiguro feels sick with longing to reach inside Itadori and wrench out this scourge, bury it deep beneath the shadows, somewhere its malevolence could never again sink its teeth into Itadori.
His tongue aches with the weight of unspoken words.
“Itadori—you…” he tries, halts with uncertainty. Steeling himself, he breathes in deeply, exhales and starts again. “Itadori, you’re a lunatic that jumps through fourth-story windows and eats cursed charms to save strangers. You’re a nightmare to walk around Tokyo with and an embarrassment to eat out with in public. You’re the only person who can tolerate more than two minutes of Gojō’s company.”
Nails etch deep into the flesh of Fushiguro’s back. It should hurt, but Fushiguro’s heart is spilling over and a violent desperation to convince Itadori otherwise dulls every other sensation scratching at his skin.
“You are the most empathetic person I know. You are the bravest person I know—the strongest person I know. Your body has been used to do horrible things. Your life has been threatened and taken advantage of for horrible reasons. But you are not a monster. You are not a tool.”
Gently extricating himself from their embrace, Fushiguro meets Itadori’s gaze. It is nearly imperceptible, hallucinatory, but it pulls the breath from Fushiguro’s lungs with gravitational force: specks of light perforating through immeasurable suffering darkening his eyes—the immutable goodness burnt into the very fabric of Itadori’s design, so honest and radiant even the most abyssal darkness cannot snuff it out.
Relief surges through Fushiguro; so long as there persists inside Itadori a fleeting spark of primordial innocence, of bright youth and hope, he will never be irredeemable or irrecoverable. Itadori will not scar into another memory of his childhood—of nights spent wondering when the retreating shadow with broad shoulders will return home and the deeply corrosive, internalized hate for the grief when it does not.
“You changed my life for the better. You’re loud, obnoxious and should read a book sometime instead of always watching movies. But you are kind, warm and the best person I know—in every way.”
Fushiguro settles a palm against the crop of Itadori’s haircut and pulls their foreheads together. The gesture is unfamiliar in its intimacy for Fushiguro, but it feels comfortable, natural. The space between them forms a separate atmosphere, a private world keeping them hidden, safe beneath shared breath from the dangers, the uncertainties and the horrors of their daily lives.
“You are Itadori Yūji, and you are my dearest friend.”
“Megumi,” Itadori cries before burying himself back into Fushiguro’s chest. “Megumi.”
Meanwhile, the world goes on.