Today was the first day of many Fushiguro Toji would be opening the door to this dingy, small apartment to be greeted by the glaring eyes of his brat of a son. He had her hair and his eyes. Megumi was his name. Flowing with the blood of the Zenin clan, but now to stay here with Toji instead of being sold off to them.
He was Toji's responsibility now. His son. A stupid brat that had to tilt his head way to far back just to look him in the eye.
He stood in the center of the tatami covered floors of the main room and simply glared. Toji, who stood in the walkway, scoffed at the look and slipped his shoes off at the doorway. He stepped further inside, into the unknown territory that was his home, and stared back at Megumi.
The brat broke away from his eyes briefly to took at the left half of his body. Just as quick, his gaze snapped back to Toji. So he wouldn't inquire about it? Didn't care about the missing left arm on his fathers body or the massive scar that ran all along the left side of his body? No doubt he hated him. He probably didn't give a damn enough to ask.
"Don't you have school to go to or something?" Toji asked, glaring back at him with a displeased look. The kid just kept staring and it was beginning to piss him off.
"It's the weekend."
A simple response. He had quite the cold, monotone voice too.
"Ah, right." Toji scratched at the top of his head. He was hoping to get this kid out of the way, but he guessed that was impossible now.
"Why are you here?" Megumi asked, tone clipped.
"You heard me," Megumi snapped back."Why are you here?"
"This is my place, you brat. Of course I'm gonna come home every once in awhile." He didn't mention how he wouldn't be going anywhere or how he was previously planning to sell him off or about how he was still recovering from an injury that should've killed him.
Instead, he turned around and went to the kitchen. He searched through the fridge and cabinets and found nothing substantial."What the hell. There's only cup noodles here." He was seriously starving after having to deal with all those people at Jujutsu Tech. He slammed the fridge shut, looked back at Megumi, then made for the front door once again."I'm gonna go pick up something to eat from the convenience store. I'm sure they even have something there for brats like you to eat."
He slipped his shoes back on and heard the click of Megumi's tongue as he closed the door.
What was he doing right now? He seriously had no idea how to take care of some brat. Every bone inside him was itching to gamble his money away or find a woman or drink, but he could do nothing about it. All his current savings had to go to Megumi. It was part of the contract he made with that irritating, smug six eyes. Until he took on more work, he was stuck like this. And even then, only a certain portion actually went to him.
His body and head were screaming at him, pulling at his skin and pricking at his brain. His son hated him and he had no idea what he was doing. It wasn't like before when she was around. She anchored him, showed him love, and showed him how to love. She kept him stable and honest, but not past death. Toji didn't want to take responsibility, because he knew it would be like this.
He would be no good at it and his kid would end up resenting him even more. Just look at how their first interaction after so long went. Megumi wouldn't stop glaring at him, and he left once again. She would know how to fix this. How to make their son happy. Toji didn't know how.
So he would just give the brat bland convenience store food and turn the other way. He didn't want to deal with him. There was an extra room to the right of the main room. He'd stick the brat in there and sleep in the main room away from his glaring eyes. Those eyes that looked so much like his. Sharp, deep with color, and blocked off. No one could be let inside them. Not anymore.
Not even his own father or son.
"Shit." Toji kicked the wall next to him, head tilting downwards."What the hell am I supposed to do. Tell me..."
Mother to this son. The only person I'll ever love. My anchor.
Days passed simpler. Toji came home with dinner, sometimes breakfast for the next day and sometimes just money, and Megumi ate it. Other than that, the kid was self-sufficient so long as everything in the house was properly stocked. He did his own laundry, cleaned up after himself, and woke himself up for school all on his own.
He really was quite the adult. It was impressive how he kept everything tidy. Toji could never be so self-sufficient even now. He wasn't around anywhere enough to understand basic household chores and such, but he attempted to clean after himself as best he could.
Megumi didn't talk to him. He glared, stared, and scowled, but that was basically it. Sometimes he would even click his tongue which truly pissed Toji off. This brat was just that, a brat. He riled him up all the time for no reason. It pissed him off so much at times he would take his anger out as he worked. He wasn't rolling in the cash he was working as a mercenary as he did at Jujutsu Tech, but it would have to do. It just meant he needed to start saving more if he wanted to spend big once again.
He, otherwise, chose to ignore his son. If he talked, he talked about food. "I'll be out tonight", "Here's money for lunch", "Breakfast is in the fridge". The words were barely sentences. They were more just fragments of speech, barely enough to get the point across.
Toji found, in these times more than any, he couldn't look at his son.
Every night, as he slept out in the main room and Megumi slept just a thin wall away in the other, a feeling of unease swarmed throughout his body. He knew he was doing something wrong. This wasn't the way someone treated their son, but he didn't know what to do. Megumi hated him, anyways, so shouldn't this type of distance make him happy? Toji knew he was just fooling himself in saying that, but how the hell was he supposed to close the gap?
He didn't know how to act like a father. He couldn't even air out a futon properly. There was nothing he could offer Megumi. Not being the type of person he was. A no good father. It shouldn't be him taking care of Megumi.
Responsibility my ass.
"What's with that look?" Gojo pouted from the doorway."Ah, are you allergic to strawberries? Hahaha, too bad! Maybe I'll just have to eat this myself~ I'm sure little Megumi wouldn't mind, right? I mean if it's allergies, I bet it runs in the family."
"You seriously showed up?" Toji gave him a look."I thought someone else was supposed to be checking up on us?"
"Eh? Did you not want to see me? That makes me so sad!" Gojo, however, laughed."I came here for business reasons, but maybe I should come inside and meet your son. I've always wondered what the kid you conceived looks like. He must be something special if you care about him that much..."
Gojo attempted to look past Toji to get an eyeful of Megumi but was met with an empty room.
Toji smirked."Too bad, he's at school right now."
Gojo shrugged it off, not caring either way."Well, maybe next time. I did come here to talk about him. Maybe it's better he's not here."
"What now?" Toji asked, irritated. There were already enough conditions he was under. Any more and he would feel like fighting this bastard a third time.
"The Zenin clan has been acting up," Gojo said, voice now serious."I told them about Megumi's situation, but it looks like they still haven't been properly put in their place. I guess those old men care more about their bloodline than the strongest jujutsu sorcerer telling them to back off." Gojo brushed it off like it was no big deal."Anyways, this means you'll probably get a visit from Naobito soon. Don't do anything stupid, yeah?"
He smiled. It was deadly.
Toji laughed, not caring for Gojo's hidden threats."Of course those geezers don't know when to back off. It'll be funny to see how shaken up Naobito will be. I'll have fun telling him to back off."
It would certainly be an interesting conversation.
"I'm glad to see we're on the same page."
It was then that they heard the clanging of someone walking up the metal stairs to the apartment. Both their heads turned and there was Megumi, school bag on his back and face just as slack as usual after a long day of schooling.
Of all the timing, Toji cursed.
Gojo noted the atmosphere and how both father and son locked eyes with one another instantly and understood the situation."So this is your son!" He grinned, turning to Megumi and waving."Hello, Megumi! I'm one of your fathers coworkers, Gojo Satoru!"
Megumi gave him no response. He did walk closer to the two of them, probably wanting to get inside the house quickly. He did look slightly intrigued by the man before him. Who wouldn't be? A tall, white haired, baby faced, frivolous, smug idiot.
Toji didn't know what to say in this situation, so he just let Gojo continue. Though really, he didn't like his son knowing the name and face of such a bastard. He didn't want him associating with idiots.
Gojo held out the cake in his hand to Megumi."Look, I even brought some cake to celebrate our meeting! Your father didn't want any, so how about we split it between the two of us?" Megumi gave him a look. Gojo blinked, clearly not knowing how to speak to kids."Or you could have the whole thing?"
Megumi's face grew with even more distaste.
At the look, Gojo barked out with laughter."You look just like him!" he blurted out, continuing to laugh. At this point, he was even clutching at his sides."Your faces! Like father like son! Hahaha, I seriously can't get enough!"
At the mention of them looking similar, Megumi's eyes widened and thinned sharply. The anger in his expression grew and he stomped past Toji into their apartment in contempt. Gojo just continued laughing for no damn reason.
"He's seriously such a cute kid!" Gojo spoke to Toji now, slowly beginning to calm down."Ah, how endearing. I can see why you care about him so much."
Toji ignored his words."Is that all?"
"Yeah, that's all I had to say."
"Then leave the cake here and go." Toji held his hand out expectantly.
"Greedy as ever." Gojo handed over the cake without much fuss."Look after Megumi properly. He deserves to be happy."
Toji shut the door behind him only to find Megumi staring at him once he entered. He wasn't glaring this time. He looked confused or perhaps astonished. It was the most open, childlike face Toji had seen on him in a long, long time.
He then turned away and went into his room.
Happiness. That's why Megumi deserved.
But Toji didn't know how to make someone else happy.
Toji didn't stay in the apartment much. He usually had something to do during the day and came back for dinner if he could. He would sleep there throughout the night and wake up to an empty house in the morning, as Megumi already left for school. They were making it a routine.
Toji was still a stranger in that apartment. Every time he stepped inside, he felt like an unwelcome guest. Megumi had yet to accept him into this territory. It was his home. Not Toji's. His constant glaring was enough of a reminder. So over those painful weekends that Gojo usually left open for Toji on purpose, he found somewhere else to be. He didn't have the loads of money he once did to burn, but he had enough cash to pass his time with something mundane.
It was when he was casually sitting on a park bench looking through his lotto numbers to see if he had a winner that Naobito finally showed up. He was dressed in his typical old fashioned clothes. There was only a brief look before he sat down next to Toji.
His lack of comment about the current state of Toji's left side let him know that bastard six eyes spoiled everything already.
"You went back on our deal, Toji," Naobito spoke, straight to business. It made sense that he didn't want to talk to him longer than necessary."I didn't think the six eyes would be capable of intimidating you."
"You heard the story. I lost," Toji responded, slow grin spreading across his face."Plus, it feels good to pull one over on the Zenin clan. Letting you have your way would leave a bad taste in my mouth."
"I didn't think you of all people would refuse my offer." Naobito side eyed him, catching a glance at what Toji was doing."Let's be honest, you're just doing this because Gojo Satoru threatened you. You're not prepared to raise a child. You never were."
Toji's brow twitched."Hah?"
He couldn't be serious.
"You're just running away and gambling your money away like always," Naobito continued."That child would be better off in our household. You can't make him happy."
"You talk big, but all you're trying to do is rile me up so I can give you what you what." Toji gave him a middle finger."Well, I'm not gonna give you my son, so fuck off."
Naobito gave him an unimpressed look, standing up from his seat."I'll see you again, Toji."
And he left. Just like that.
Toji crumpled the papers in his lap. That bastard Naobito, the whole damn Zenin clan, pissed him off. They could rot in hell. All they wanted was superior cursed techniques. They were flawed. They were all just stuck up assholes.
Toji stood up and promptly slammed his foot against the bench he was sitting on. It cracked completely in half. Toji hated Naobito, because Naobito was right. He was only doing all this because of Gojo Satoru. He didn't have a single clue on how to raise a child.
He couldn't make Megumi happy.
How the hell could he, when he couldn't even make himself happy?
Toji left the broken bench, looking at the sky briefly and finding it was late enough to go to a bar. He needed alcohol and a woman. There was no point in trying to make Megumi happy if he knew he couldn't do it. It was just better to do things like before. He'd drink and gamble and have sex. It was fun. It felt good. If he was doing that instead, he didn't have to worry about Megumi.
To his local bar he went. He ordered his usual. Then ordered it again and again.
A woman came up to him. He had seen her before. Black pointy hair. It was longer than he liked, but that was fine. She sat down next to him with a smile, leaning close.
"It's been awhile since I've seen you, Toji!" she called, lips pouted slightly. She swirled the drink in her hand."Gosh, what happened to your arm?! It's completely gone! Did you get into an accident?"
She talked a bit too much for his taste. He didn't want more people yapping in his ear. He didn't want to appease anyone. Didn't feel like going through the steps.
"Something like that." Toji finished another glass. He turned to her and lowered his eyes."I bet it turns you on. I promise you I can still show you a good time." Toji leaned forward, snaking his arm around the back of her waist.
In response, she leaned closer."Really?" She looked up at him."I've never done it with someone with only one arm. It would be fun to try..."
Toji grinned, leaned down, and kissed her. That's how he was, bold and uncaring. Sharp, and always drowning himself in his desires. This was how it should be. Just enjoying himself like this was so much easier than dealing with that brat or everyone at Jujutsu Tech. That day, he should've never told Gojo to take care of his son.
No, he couldn't do it. He couldn't make Megumi happy. The kid was always glaring at him. There was nothing he could do now. He was too late. Maybe if she was there he could make it work. She would know what to do, because she knew how to be happy. She knew how to make people happy. Toji didn't.
Coward. You're just running away again.
He was doing the right thing. He couldn't take care of Megumi. That child didn't deserve him. She didn't even deserve him. They were too bright. Too untouched. Frail. Scary. He didn't want to fuck things up. Then it would be all over. He couldn't deal with that again. Not after she died. He couldn't go through that again.
"Megumi? As in blessing, right? I love it!"
Toji stood up.
"Huh? Toji? Where are you going?" the woman called after him.
Toji paid for his drinks and left. Looking at the sky, he knew it was late. He hoped the brat knew enough to lock the door this late at night.
He was probably at home sleeping, right? He had probably shut the door to his room the minute he got home. Since Toji was gone and there was no money left on the counter, he probably grabbed one of the spare cup noodles to make for dinner. He either took a shower or bath and then went to bed. At this hour, that made the most sense. He was a self-sufficient kid.
Deep inside Toji's heart was an unknown ache. Megumi didn't need him around to live. He could do fine on his own, but Toji couldn't see that as an excuse anymore.
He couldn't continue this routine of theirs anymore.
The door was locked when Toji finally made it back. He unlocked it and walked inside. There was movement out of the right corner of his eye. Toji looked up just in time to see the slide of Megumi's door, closing him back off from the main room and Toji's tentative bedroom.
Toji paused there. It didn't make any sense for him to be up right now. Not unless...
"Shit..." Toji dropped down at the doorway, raking his hand through his hair. What the hell was wrong with him? He was seriously thinking about running away again, when even now Megumi had waited for him. There was no way he would get Megumi to look at him if he ran a second time.
He had to raise Megumi properly. If he wanted his son to look at him properly, he had to do it. He just had to figure it out somehow. He had no choice but to.
Taking off his shoes, Toji stepped towards the sliding door to Megumi's small little space. He gripped the handle. Shit, his hand was sweating. How lame.
Sliding the door open, Megumi who had stubbornly jumped into his futon, sat up to look at him. He glared and Toji stood at the door staring at him with a grin."What?" he snapped, growing tired of their stare off.
"You were waiting for me, weren't you?" Toji's grin widened."Aw, what a cute little son I have!"
"Shut up!" Megumi's face twisted, embarrassment growing in his cheeks.
"Were you lonely?" Toji teased, moving over to Megumi's futon."Don't worry, Papa will keep you company tonight~"
Toji bent down and opened up the comforter too slip inside next to Megumi.
"H-Huh?! No!" Megumi snapped, trying and failing to keep the comforter closed."Go away! I'm not lonely!"
"Don't act so cold." Toji properly slid himself inside, taking up most of the futon. He pulled the protesting Megumi into a shoddy one armed embrace. He didn't say anything after that. Megumi's hair, so much like hers, prickled against his collar and chin.
Megumi wiggled in his grip but slowly began to give up. He tilted his face upwards, out of Toji's chest, so that he could be heard."You stink." Toji hummed."You smell like booze."
Toji hummed once again. His body curled around his son. There was warmth there in his arms. The warmth of a living, breathing human. The warmth of his son who felt nothing but hatred for him.
Toji's throat was aching before he could even get the words out."I'm sorry, Megumi..." his voice was too small. He wasn't even sure Megumi was able to hear him."You're just gonna have to put up with my stink tonight."
Megumi clicked his tongue, pushing away at Toji's chest."I hate you. You stink and you don't know how to clean. You make me eat those gross bentos all the time. I hate it! I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!"
Megumi pounded on his chest, body beginning to shake under Toji's arm. His voice quivered as he yelled at Toji."I hate you! Just leave me alone! Leave me alone! Stop coming here! You left me! Y-You left! I hate you! Just leave me alone! L-Leave...!" Megumi choked on a hiccup, small hands gripping Toji's shirt. He was crying."You're just gonna leave again, so leave me alone...I-I hate you..."
Megumi's body grew limp, but his tears didn't stop flowing. He was stuttering and hiccuping. His tight grip on Toji's shirt grew knuckle white. He shuttered as Toji pulled him closer once again.
Toji's hand shook along with him. His heart was pounding out of control. His lips quivered. His body ached and gripped tightly at Megumi. He was scared and nervous and full of regret. He wanted to cry. He could feel it with every part of his being.
But he didn't.
Instead, he pulled Megumi tighter into his chest and dropped his head into his sons hair. And in the smallest voice, he whispered to him.
"I'm not leaving you again, Megumi."
Megumi stilled, then sobbed. Even if he didn't believe him, that was fine. Toji would show him he wasn't going anywhere.
He would show him that he was loved.
Megumi had school the next day. He left early in the morning before Toji could even wake up, silent as a mouse as usual. He even pilfered some of his money straight out of his wallet. Sneaky brat.
Toji didn't have any work. He pondered what to do next. He wasn't attuned to domestic life. It wasn't normal to him, so he didn't know how to live it. Plus, he had a brat to deal with. He couldn't be more lost.
So, Toji left the house. He wandered about and found himself sitting on a park bench. It was reaching close to the afternoon and parents were out with their kids too young for school. They let them run about the park, playing with some of the other kids with careless smiles on their faces. All the brats looked Megumi's age to Toji. His son should be out there doing stupid shit like they were. That's what kids did, right?
Toji paused at that thought. He realized something then. Something he should've a long time ago.
Megumi shouldn't be self-sufficient.
He was still a kindergartner. He shouldn't be doing his own laundry and drying his own futon. He should be complaining to Toji like a brat and sticking his nose up at every little chore Toij wanted him to do. Even the food he gave him he shouldn't like. It was full of stuff a kid normally wouldn't like.
Well, Megumi did mention the bentos were gross, but Toji assumed he was talking about their quality. It wasn't any home cooking, after all.
There, sitting at that park bench, Toji decided his first step. The first thing he did was go on a wild buying spree. It was kitchenware first. They didn't even have a damn rice cooker for gods sake. He picked up a single cookbook from there as well. It said "beginners" and "easy" on it, so it shouldn't be that difficult for even Toji who never cooked a day in his life.
Next was the grocery store. Toji didn't know what to buy, so he picked a recipe out of the book and bought everything to go with it along with some condiments and instant meals he always liked having around. With that, he was ready to begin cooking.
When he got back to the apartment, he set the cookbook on the counter and got to work. The plan was curry, so first all he had to do was cut up some vegetables. He pulled one of the carrots he bought out and set it on the cutting board in front of him. He only had one arm, so holding the vegetable down would be tough, but he had an idea.
Opening his mouth, he hacked up the curse he always kept stored inside his body. It unraveled as it popped out, curling around his body. Once it's mouth was free, it produced the blade Toji wanted. The cursed weapon was worth more than the entire apartment complex they lived in, so it was sure to get the job done.
Toji had the worm extend itself so that it could hold down part of the carrot for him, but before it could reach the vegetable, the front door was opened and some words were thrown snappishly in his direction.
"What are you doing?"
Megumi was there, looking at him with the most exasperated expression on his face.
Toji grinned."Yo. I'm making curry."
"Were you gonna let that curse touch the food?! I don't want to eat food a curse touched!"
Toji looked down at the curse wrapped around his body, then back up."Well, I can't cut with just one hand. But all my tools are sharp enough, so it might be possible."
Megumi stomped over to him, surveying the rest of his work area."And you weren't gonna peal the carrot? You have to peal them!"
"I washed it, so it should be fine." Toji put his cursed weapon away as Megumi got closer."Pealing takes too much work."
"What's the point of having a recipe if you don't follow it?" Megumi grumbled.
"You're such a stick in the mud, Megumi," Toji responded.
That seemed to piss the brat off."Fine! I'll cut the carrot, so just sit over there!"
This situation was exactly what Toji was trying to avoid, but at least Megumi was talking to him. He didn't want to make him more upset at the moment, so he sat as his son instructed. In the meantime, while Megumi looked quizzically at the carrot in front of him with a new knife in hand, Toji put the curse away back inside his mouth.
Once he was done, he slowly stood up and watched Megumi clumsily chop the carrot. He was doing alright, but definitely didn't know how to properly handle either the carrot or the knife. Toji was also slightly clueless so let him be.
As he reached the base of the vegetable, though, it was much harder to cut. Toji saw him beginning to slip before it happened. Quickly, with the inhuman speed only someone with a body like his could have, he grabbed the knife and pulled it away before Megumi could injure himself.
There was silence. Megumi stared at Toji and Toji stared back. What should he say in a moment like this? What was parent-like to say? A scolding? Even though he was the one who let Megumi use the knife?
"Looks like the little brat isn't ready to use a knife just yet." Toji set it down, then moved his hand over to ruffle his sons hair."Be careful next time."
Megumi had that open, astonished expression on his face once again. He really had such low expectations for Toji. His eyes quickly sharpened back up."I don't wanna hear that from you." He smacked his hand away."I don't know why you're doing all this. Just buy bentos like usual."
"And I don't wanna hear that from a brat who said he didn't like them." Toji put his hand back on his hair, now ruffling it more roughly. He let up, watching Megumi attempt to straighten his hair with a smirk. He moved to the other end of the counter and patted the rice cooker there."Besides, what's the point in buying this if we don't put it to use?" He grinned."Let's make onigiri. Even a brat like you can make something that simple!"
Megumi grumbled, cheeks puffing cutely which made Toji bark out a laugh. He got harshly ignored for that but once it came time to scoop out the cooked rice he was at Toji's side with a big bowl in hand. It only made Toji's smile wider. He was secretly excited for this. His actions and body language told Toji enough.
So, for the first time ever, the small round table propped up against a wall in the main room was pulled out. They sat on either side, bowl of rice in the middle of the tiny table with sheets of nori and a bland filling strewn about as they attempted to make balls of rice. Megumi's, naturally, turned out much better than the one-armed Toji's and he gloated about it the rest of the night.
Just like a kid would.
From then on, the routine they had established henceforth was broken. Toji attempted to learn how to cook and Megumi attempted to prove himself more capable of cooking, but in the end they both fumbled the dishes they tried to make more often than they produced successful meals. Toji found himself thinking of stupid things like some day sending Megumi off with a successful homemade bento or sitting around a hot pot in the winter. Just dumb, stupid things.
So, they made lots of onigiri as replacement. They could now expertly shape rice balls. Toji avoided the convenience store food if he could and would order from restaurants first instead. They were only a last resort if he was running late.
He also began cleaning. It was simpler than cooking because he could do most of it with only one arm. When it came to dealing with the futons and folding, however, he usually needed Megumi's help. The brat grumbled at first and refused to help him with his own clothes but he soon came around. Maybe it was because he saw Toji attempting to clean the bathroom once and practically slipping on the wet tile. He wouldn't put it past him after the look the brat gave him that day.
It was the first time he saw him smile.
It made Toji think that perhaps he was doing something right. These little, seamless things meant so much more to Megumi than he could ever imagine. If fixing things on the homefront was the first step, then it was going fairly well. But he may need to start acting more stubborn unless he wanted that brat to keep being so cheeky. The fact that he already knew more about cleaning than Toji was already pissing him off enough.
There was another thing that changed too. Something that pissed off that cheeky brat in a funny way.
"Stop it," Megumi monotoned, sending a glare over his shoulder to Toji who stood a few feet behind him outside the apartment building."I already said I don't need you walking me to school."
"What, are you embarrassed?" Toji chuckled, walking ahead of Megumi. His son stubbornly followed."Don't want your friends to see me? I bet you tried to act all cool in front of them, walking yourself to school alone everyday."
"I do not!" Megumi pouted back, now walking in turn next to him. He turned his face away in spite."It's not like that..." His hands clutched at the straps of his school bag.
Toji side eyed him, smile forming. He didn't understand everything about Megumi, but he did know when he was being sincere or serious. He knew when to back off and when to keep pushing. His was beginning to understand this little brat of his little by little, if only just his physical cues.
"I got it." Toji put his hand on Megumi's hair, ruffling it."I'll drop you off a couple blocks away like usual, don't worry." Megumi's face still held a complicated expression, but he nodded all the same. Toji grinned."Are you sure you don't want me meeting your teacher? I'm sure they'd love to hear about what I do for a living."
Megumi's face scrunched back up."No way!" he slapped Toji's hand off his hair."You're seriously so annoying! Just leave me alone!"
Toji laughed."No way~" he teased, putting his hand right back on the brats hair.
Once they got to their usual spot, Toji saw him off. He teased him a bit more until Megumi shook him off and practically ran away. When he turned back to give him once last glare, Toji was cheeky enough to give him a little wave in response.
He couldn't always walk Megumi to school and never had the time to walk back with him, but he did so as much as he could. He may buy him a cheap throw away phone just so he could text him to let him know when he came home or got to school. Toji was beginning to become like those worrisome aunties at the corner store.
"Quite the relationship you've developed."
Toji turned around."Naobito." He had noticed him far before he showed up.
"So, have you realized it yet, Toji?" Naobito asked."That child despises you. There's no way you can make him happy, let alone care from him properly."
"Actually, I've realized quite the opposite." Toji smiled to him."I'm not handing that kid to anyone. Not you nor Jujutsu Tech. If he wants to become a jujutsu sorcerer, I'll let him, but that's it." He held his hand up in mock surrender."That kid's the one calling the shots now, so it's no use talking to me."
Naobito shook his head."I'm disappointed in you Toji."
He scoffed."When have you not been."
"I'm sure that kid, too, will soon see the truth."
It was too bad for Naobito, but such petty words wouldn't work on him anymore. Not after Toji experienced what his sons smiling face looked like.
"I can't wait until my son inherits one of your clans strongest techniques and completely crushes all of you pretentious asses." Toji grinned."Wont that be a sight!"
Naobito probably realized it then, just as Toji had weeks ago. Slowly and steadily, Megumi was beginning to become his pride. His pride no longer harbored itself in his body with zero cursed energy, but in his son which would have ability even beyond him. They both knew it.
And so, Naobito chuckled. He knew when he had lost."Think whatever you want. You better hope you and your son are alive to see that moment. With your past, I'm sure you have plenty of people after your bounty."
"Don't kid yourself. Just because I'm a father now doesn't mean I've gotten any weaker."
With that, Naobito left. Though Toji acted all high and mighty, he couldn't help but think of the veiled threat hidden behind that old mans words. It made him uneasy, like a harbinger of what was soon to come. Such stupid superstitious were, of course, beyond him.
The Zenin clan wouldn't forcibly take Megumi. Not with both Toji and Gojo watching over him. Any other enemies would be after Toji, unless they had realized his true weak point.
The uselessly strung up Toji then decided to wait it out nearby Megumi's school the rest of the day. Because he couldn't be sure. Because Megumi was his son. Because he cared about him. If his past wanted to bite him in the ass, then it should bite him, not his son.
And so, Toji stayed the whole day until the other parents began picking their kids up from school. He planted himself a block away on their usual route, waiting patiently for Megumi to appear around the corner. Appear he did and the expression of shock on his face made Toji burst out laughing.
"W-What are you doing here?!" Megumi snapped, trying to compose himself.
"I came to pick you up, you brat." Toji bent over and picked Megumi up from the back of his school bag until he was hanging in the air."Is that all you have to say?"
"Hey! Put me down!" Megumi flailed.
Instead of doing what he asked, Toji brought him upwards and plopped him on top of his shoulders. He held onto him until his son found his grip, small hands lightly grabbing at his hair as his legs dangled on each side of him.
"I said put me down!" Megumi snapped. He sounded much less threatening now. No, he was definitely thinking the opposite.
"You're such a shortie. I thought I would give you a chance to look at things from higher up."
"I'm not short!" Megumi kicked at Toji's shoulders."I'm growing. I'll surpass your height soon."
"Hah!" Toji couldn't help but chuckle."Like that'd ever happen!"
Toji would. For as long as he could.
Years passed and Toji watched his son grow right in front of his eyes. The kid mellowed out more in front of Toji over the years. He wasn't always snapping and glaring—he probably realized doing so only made Toji laugh—and was now instead developing more of a slack nonchalance.
Toji let him be. His bad attitude whenever he snapped didn't change, so he assumed he was okay. Maybe it was some kinda faze. Brats had those, didn't they?
Home life steadily improved. Toji got better at cooking and cleaning. He made his first and last successful bento. He had sent away a happily smiling Megumi with the warm lunch and then was greeted with the most pissed off face imaginable when he came home. It was omelet rice so of course Toji had to put a bunch of ketchup designed hearts on it. And by Megumi's anger, some people in his class had seen it. Toji burst out laughing until his sides ached and cheeks hurt.
Bentos were banned from that day forward.
Toji felt like he was doing a good job. He was beginning to understand domestic life, if only a bit more. He had no idea if he was making Megumi happy, though. The brat certainly smiled a whole lot more, which gave off the illusion that he was doing something right. Toji couldn't tell. He wished she was there to tell him.
Being around Megumi, Toji had no choice but to face all the feelings he buried inside himself. He didn't want to think about her, but seeing Megumi sometimes reminded him of her. It was always fleeting, but it would haunt him for hours. So, he would fight curses. Cutting them and punching them and shooting them until there was nothing left around him. Until he was alone once again.
Then, he would go home. And Megumi was there.
"Huh?" Toji stared from where he was preparing dinner at Megumi who just entered into the apartment. His clothes and face were dirty. He was naturally scuffed up.
Megumi didn't look his way. He instead sat down at the small ledge at the entryway and took off his shoes.
Toji stopped everything he was doing."What happened to you?" he asked, sharper edge to his voice."Did you get into a fight?"
"I didn't," Megumi responded. At Toji's silence, Megumi looked up. At his expression, Megumi sighed and rubbed at his neck."I seriously didn't. I just wasn't paying attention and accidentally ran into someone. It's not that big of a deal. It was my fault in the first place."
Megumi stood up, dragging his bag into the main room and plopping it down. Toji was still staring at him, so he glared back."What?" he asked, tired of him looking. As least his face wasn't as deadly as before.
"You fell down after bumping into someone?"
"Yeah, what else do you expect to happen?" Megumi gave Toji a confused expression.
It was justified, Toji guessed, because Megumi had yet to understand the simple intricacies that strength held like Toji had. He didn't yet understand how strong the blood flowing through his veins was. Toji couldn't simply stand by and let Megumi think he was normal, because this brat had the potential to be even stronger than him. And he needed to show him that.
"Hey, you've received your divine dogs already, right?" Toji asked. Gojo had stopped by once Megumi inherited his cursed technique and taught him the general ins and outs of how it and cursed energy worked, since Toji would be no help because he never had to learn how to regulate cursed energy.
"Yeah." Megumi was turned away from him now, done with his fathers nonsense, and was currently unpacking his schoolwork and putting it on the small table in the middle of the room."I haven't exorcised any other curses yet. Gojo-sensei said I should get accustomed to using them first."
"You don't have any combat experience, either." Toji looked at him and grinned."Want me to teach you?"
Megumi paused, looking up at him with wide eyes. They were—Toji had to hold back from laughing—they were excited eyes."You'll teach me how to fight?"
"Sure." Toji stepped forward, bending down on the other end of the table from Megumi."All you gotta to is say 'Please teach me how to fight, my cool, handsome dad!'"
Megumi's face instantly soured.
Toji laughed at the look."C'mon, just say it~"
Megumi's lips formed into a pout and he turned away slightly. His voice was a mumbled tone, barely audible."Please...teach me how to fight...dad..."
Toji's eyes widened. It was the first time Megumi called him dad. He said it as a joke, thinking Megumi would call him an old man or geezer like usual. He hadn't realized how much he had been wanting him to call him dad properly, like a regular kid. The happiness that came along with it was a huge shock to his system. He almost forgot what they were talking about.
So, he expelled his feelings, that happiness, into laughter."I didn't think you'd actually do it! Well, you didn't do the whole thing, but that's fine!" He leaned over and ruffled Megumi's hair while his son gave him a slack look."I'll teach you everything I know, Megumi, so I better not hear any complaints. I'm gonna make you so tough that no one can shove you over ever again."
"Don't put it in such a weird way," Megumi commented, smacking his hand away. Toji always purposefully kept it there to wait for him to do exactly that."And I wont complain. I've already decided that I want to be a jujutsu sorcerer."
"Right." Toji grinned, getting up and going back to cooking dinner.
"Hey, dad," Megumi called hesitantly.
Again, he said it.
Toji paused, turning back to him."What?"
Megumi stared, then rubbed his neck."Never mind."
Toji chuckled."Getting shy now?"
"Shut up," Megumi grumbled."Maybe I should ask for another teacher. You only have one arm and with all your lazing around, I bet you're out of shape."
Megumi said it to tick him off, and it worked."Huh?! You damn brat, want me to give you a personal sparing session right now?!"
"No," Megumi joked back."I wouldn't want your back to give out so early, old man."
Megumi came home from school with a slip of paper in hand and a button red nose from the cold winter air. Toji greeted him from the main room, huddled under the kotatsu they bought a few years back. It look up most of the space, but it was worth it.
Toji was laid out on the floor, absentmindedly looking through sheets with coupons as well as lotto numbers. He didn't even bother to sit up as Megumi walked inside. Megumi himself was freezing and quickly moved inside the kotatsu, only for his fathers long legs getting in the way.
"Move your legs," Megumi demanded, kicking at Toji underneath the table.
Toji just ignored him.
Megumi, in an act of rebellion, hiked up his dads pant leg and placed his cold toes along his bare skin. Toji hissed, snapped his legs away and glaring up at Megumi."Damn brat."
Once Megumi settled inside the kotatsu, he set down the piece of paper in hand on the table. He sniffled slightly as he slid it over to his father."Here, the school needs you to sign this."
"What now?" Toji sat up, stretching out his limbs as Megumi coughed smally. He picked up the paper and stared at the contents."Picking your junior high already? And these are the ones you chose?"
The sheet showed Megumi's first, second, and third choice of school.
"It doesn't matter where I go, since I'll be going to Jujutsu Tech afterwards regardless," Megumi explained.
"I guess." Toji stared at the paper a couple seconds longer. He had no idea where any of these schools were or how good their academics were. Maybe he should've done some research or something. He put the paper down carelessly."Well, do whatever you want. Just make sure to study properly. There's a lot of stuff in school you learn that will help you when fighting curses and understanding cursed techniques."
"Gojo-sensei said to just 'enjoy my youth'," Megumi commented offhandedly, sniffling again from the cold and snuggling tighter into the kotatsu.
"Like I said, do whatever you want." Toji shrugged."I just don't wanna get a call from your teacher saying you've been a bad boy." Toji paused there, thinking."Now that you mention it, you never hang out with anyone after school, do you? What, do you have no friends? Aw, don't tell me you're all alone, Megumi~"
"I'm not. I have friends," Megumi growled back, rubbing his neck. He turned his head away slightly."But if I came home late...then you'd be here all alone."
Toji's eyes widened. He hadn't realized what being alone had meant to Megumi. Always coming back to no one home, waiting patiently for someone to show up...This was what Megumi had once experienced and what he was so afraid to experience once again. He didn't want to feel that loneliness again, and didn't want Toji to either.
That hollow, head-splitting emptiness was something neither of them should have to go through again.
And to his son's goodwill, Toji smiled and leaned over to ruffle his hair."Thanks, Megumi." His smile then sharpened."Such a sweet little brat worried about his old man? I bet you're just trying to hide the fact that you don't have any friends!"
"S-Shut up!" Megumi spoke mid cough, slapping his fathers hand away. He finished his small coughing fit with a couple sniffles. Toji's eyes narrowed at the actions."I told you I have friends!" He gave Toji a small glare."Just sign the paper already."
Toji gave him a small chuckle in return, signing the paper as he asked."Here," he said, sliding it back over to him. Megumi took it and slipped it back into his school bag. Toji noted his more sluggish movements and leaned forward."Hey, Megumi." He looked back over at him. Toji placed a hand on his forehead experimentally.
"What are you doing?" Megumi asked, pushing back away from him. He put his hand on his forehead to protect himself incase Toji tried to touch it again.
"You have a cold," Toji responded, astonished. He then giggled."Just like a brat."
Megumi looked away."I knew you would make fun of me if I told you."
"Don't be like that, Megumi." Toji got up, teasing tone in his voice as he walked into the kitchen. Though his next words were serious."It's my job to take care of you, so you should let me know when you get sick. Now we can't do our nightly workout."
"Don't tell me you're gonna make porridge or something..." Megumi slowly turned around, then stopped.
"...Eh?" Toji paused as well, uncharacteristically large piece of beef in his hand.
Megumi's brow ticked."What are you doing? At least get me some meds!"
It's safe to say Megumi had a slow recovery. Toji boasting about never being sick before didn't help. But, at least he tried his best to take care of him.
Toji arrived at Megumi's junior high for the first time. He was far old enough that Toji didn't need to walk him to school anymore, and he had a phone anyways, so Toji had never laid eyes on the building before. He hadn't even known where it was until today.
Classes had ended but students still lingered about attending clubs and doing other things kids their age would after school. They gave Toji curious looks as he walked up to the entrance of the main school building. It was natural of them to do. He was the least conspicuous looking person ever, with one of his arms gone and all.
Toji was called in by one of Megumi's teachers about his son being in a fight with some other punks at school. But that wasn't what was on Toji's mind. Honestly, he had no idea where he was going. He needed clearer signs about where to go. All the hallways in this place looked the same. It was bothersome.
When Toji finally arrived to the staff room, with a curious students helpful directions, he was met with the face of a pissed off teacher. But upon seeing Toji, his serious look became more disheveled if anything. It was no surprise. Toji was already pretty late arriving in the first place.
Megumi sat in a chair across from his teacher who stood up to speak to him. He gave Toji a glance, then looked away towards the window outside.
"Mr. Fushiguro," the teacher started, exasperated."It's about time you—"
Toji bypassed him without care. He grabbed onto Megumi's chin, tilting his face. As he thought, there was a scuff mark on his cheek."Megumi..."
"What?" his son asked, voice snappish as he tried to pull his head away.
"How could you let one of those punks get a hit on you? I thought I taught you better," Toji scolded. It was the most proper scolding he had ever given his son.
"He threw some dirt in my eyes," Megumi explained, finally removing his chin from Toji's grip."I was caught off guard."
"You should've expected such a cheap move from them." Toji huffed."So, how many brats was it?"
"Mr. Fushiguro!" Megumi's teacher wailed."We do not promote such behavior out of our students! As Fushiguro's father, you should know better!"
"Ahh, quit your yapping." Toji rubbed at his neck, turning back to the teacher who looked equally frightened and upset."I'll scold him properly when we get home, don't worry. Just have him write a couple apology letters and we should be okay, right?"
"U-Uh..." The teacher looked between Toji and Megumi, sweating."Yes, that sound be alright..."
"Good. Then, let's go, Megumi." Toji nodded for the door.
Megumi stood up and followed him out. Toji waited as he grabbed his stuff and they left the school. It had been awhile since the two of them had walked home together like this.
Megumi was the first to speak up through the silence."You're not actually going to scold me, are you?"
"About fighting some punks? No way." Toji laughed."Just make sure not to let them land a hit again. Oh, and don't break any bones. This is all apart of 'enjoying your youth', right?"
Toji looked to Megumi and grinned. Megumi gave him a small smile back.
Megumi's junior high years passed by in a flash. Toji wasn't prepared for how quickly they would fly by, or how much his son would grow. From a small brat to someone whose shoulders were broad and wide enough to carry the burdens of many on top of them. He was slowly growing to become a man.
Toji wondered everyday if he had done something wrong. If somehow, he had fucked up along the way and Megumi paid the consequences. Material things were easy. Cooking, cleaning, paying for things he needed, training Megumi, those showed clear change. When it came to happiness and the hole in ones heart, Toji had no idea if he had done a proper job.
Was Megumi happy? Was Megumi still lonely? Did he still hate him? Had he done things properly, even when she wasn't there to guide him?
Toji had no idea. He may never figure that out. But he knew more so now that those were things he would always question. They were inevitable and human. They were the fears he had been suppressing for so long. The thought that, if he had never been by Megumi's side, he would've suppressed them the rest of his life made him glad he was where he was today.
And finally, it was time for Megumi to leave this small apartment of theirs.
"This is the last bag," Megumi spoke, propping the duffle bag at the doorway.
"Not a lot of stuff," Toji noted.
"I only need the essentials."
"You'll be living in the dorms for the next three years," Toji spoke."Put a couple pictures up or something. If you ever need anything, just let me know."
"I get paid too, you know," Megumi responded, giving Toji a brief look before glancing back at the now emptier apartment."I'll stop by when I can."
Toji knew why he said such a thing. That fear of loneliness that clung to them was a strong and everlasting parasite. It may just be their biggest connection.
"It's fine." Toji shook his head."You'll be too busy at the college to worry about coming home. I'll see you around there anyways. Did you forget I work there too?"
"You're right, but..." Megumi rubbed his neck.
Toji smiled, ruffling Megumi's hair."Don't worry about me. I'll come bother you and your friends if I'm ever bored."
He laughed, ruffling Megumi's hair further while slowly pulling him into a one-armed embrace. Megumi didn't say anything, body slack against his fathers. His arms slid over his dads back, lightly wrapping around him. Toji squeezed and Megumi squeezed back.
At times like this, he should say something, right? Words of encouragement or something to take away from. Maybe something cheesy. They didn't exactly do cheesy or heartfelt words. It wasn't their style, but still...
"Megumi, shit's gonna get a lot crazier from here on. Just don't forget I'm here for you." His hand tightened around Megumi as he began to shake. Toji breathed, shaky and stuttered. He felt the inevitable tears welling up in his eyes. They weren't even leaving each other for good, but it felt different."I love you, Megumi. I've always loved you."
Megumi gripped tighter to him and buried his face further away from Toji. His lips were moving, but Toji couldn't hear a thing. Maybe Megumi wanted it like that. And when he stopped, the jolted shaking of his shoulders did as well.
They both eased up slowly, Toji wiping at whatever tears decided to fall. Megumi turned to pick up his bag, sliding it onto his shoulder. Toji watched as he gripped at the handle to the door and opened it.
The midday light streamed through as Megumi turned around and smiled.
And onwards he went.