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moments at midnight

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Nobara breathes in the night air and smiles. It’s almost midnight, past the curfew Gojo-sensei had “set” for everyone. Remember guys, curfews don’t exist for people who don’t get caught! She strolls along the sidewalk towards the field where the baseball match was played on. The game had ended around 8PM with Tokyo Tech winning the tournament.

It was a fun game. Todo was promptly knocked out after Maki pitched the baseball at his head (which was a great pitch gods what can’t Maki do??) and Yuji’s homerun pushed their score to 2-0. It was a mess of celebration afterwards. Gojo-sensei and Panda started yelling, Yuji had picked up her, Toge, and Fushiguro up in a bear hug and jumped around. Toge was laughing and even Fushiguro cracked a grin. Nobara was whooping loudly as she searched for Maki who was near the benches.

Maki was taking off her cap and shaking off excess dirt on her body. She stared off into the distance, a melancholic smile playing on her lips. She looked sad in a way that Nobara had never seen before. Nobara followed her line of stare and saw Mai scolding Miwa for calling herself useless.

“Miwa-chan! We’ve already talked about this beforehand. You’re not useless and you shouldn’t be referring to yourself as Miwa the useless!” Mai crossed her arms and leveled a glare at Miwa.

“Yeah, Mai-chan is right!” Momo piped in as she looped her arm with Mai’s.

“We are jujutsu sorcerers, Miwa-chan. We are all the same. Useless is not a word I would use to describe any one of us, not me, not Mai-chan, not Mechamaru, and definitely not you.” Kamo firmly stated.

“You need to give yourself more credit Miwa-chan.” Mechamaru rattled off in the distance within the pitching machine.

Miwa looked as if she was about to cry before she grabbed everyone in a tight hug. Kamo looked startled before gently, if a little awkwardly, patting her back. Momo and Mai both had an arm around Miwa who mumbled something to them. Mai gave her a soft smile as Utahime-sensei gathered the Kyoto students together to get ready to leave.

Nobara turned back to Maki but she had already disappeared from the spot. Yuji had set her, Fushiguro, and Toge down before jumping over to Gojo-sensei and Panda who pulled him onto their shoulders. Toge joined in, leaving Fushiguro and Nobara. Nobara turned to Fushiguro, a question forming on the tip of her tongue but stopped once she saw the fond look he was directing at Yuji who was laughing and whopping on top of Gojo-sensei, Panda, and Toge’s shoulders.

“Hey Fushiguro? You’re going to make it even more obvious if you stare any longer.” Nobara teased. Fushiguro’s pale face turned red immediately.

“K-Kugisaki! D-don’t be ridiculous!” Fushiguro sputtered. Nobara laughed in response and looped her arm through his before dragging him towards the group.

“Come on dweeb. Let’s go.”

After some more cheering, Nobara and the guys went back to their dorms and got cleaned up. They met back in the student lounge where Gojo-sensei had ordered platters of sushi for them.

“Eat up, eat up! I’m so proud of how you guys played today! Gojo-sensei really knows how to teach his students!” Gojo-sensei exclaimed with a cheeky grin. Nobara and the rest ignored the last bit but still cheered in response. They dug in right after. In the middle of all the chatter and food, Nobara felt as though something was missing. No, not something. Someone.

“Panda-senpai,” Panda closed his mouth and dropped a sushi back on his plate. “Where is Maki-senpai?”

“She’s probably out. I believe this was the first time she’s seen Mai-san in a while so she could be trying to talk to her or in her secret spot.” Panda replied.

“Salmon.” Toge agreed.

“She has a secret spot in the school?” Nobara questioned.

“Well, I mean it’s not so secret since she told me about how she sometimes just needs some time to herself and coincidentally found a good place to let it go. To be honest I’m not that surprised she’s not with us tonight. Seeing her twin must have left her in a quiet mood.” Panda shrugged.

“Saki.” Toge confirmed Panda’s response.

“She knows we’re here for her so I think it’s best if we leave her alone for now. She’ll be back in the morning, good as before!” Panda clapped Nobara’s back as Toge confirmed Panda’s response once more before the two went back to eating.

“Thanks Panda-senpai and Toge-senpai.” Nobara also goes back to eating and joins Fushiguro and Yuji’s conversation. But Maki never strays too far from her thoughts and in the midst of Yuji arguing that water isn’t wet and Fushiguro responding it is immediately, Nobara found herself thinking back to Maki and how sad she looked earlier at the baseball match.

Everyone finished eating, cleaned the lounge, and retired to their respective dorms by midnight. Nobara couldn’t sleep no matter how many times she turned and shifted on her bed to get into a more comfortable position. Too many things were running through her head and too many of them involved Maki so she decided to go for a short walk. If she can’t sleep, well, a walk wouldn’t hurt. Nobara changed into a hoodie and some comfortable shorts before heading out of the dorms.

And now, here she is, walking to the field the baseball game was played in. The night sky is filled to the brim with stars and with the warm breeze, Nobara feels at ease. She arrives at the field and snorts at how Todo’s imprint is still on the dirt. She skips around on the field and makes her way up to the surrounding benches, using the light of the full moon as her guide.

Nobara gets up to the highest bench and nearly trips when she hears a “Nobara?”

“Maki-san!” Nobara exclaims incredulously. Maki is sitting on the highest bench with a relaxed posture. She’s clean from the baseball game and dressed in a similar fashion as Nobara. Her glasses are on top of her head with her hair down and loose, Nobara could feel her jaw slightly drop. She’s seen Maki a handful of times without her glasses and her hair down but underneath the moonlight, Maki looks almost ethereal.

“What are you doing here?” Maki asks softly, patting on the spot next to her. Nobara shuts her jaw and makes her way to sit next to her.

“I couldn’t sleep so I thought walking could take my mind off of some things. Why are you here? Is this your secret spot?” Maki snorts.

“I’m assuming Panda told you I have a secret spot in the school? I don’t but when the weather is nice at night, I go to the baseball field every once in a while to clear my mind.” She gestures to the sky, “and the stars are very bright tonight.”

“Really? I thought the stars were actually really dark.” Nobara jokes as she sits. Maki chuckles and slings an arm around her shoulder.

“Come on Nobara. You crashed my think time and now you want to tease me? Give me a break.” Nobara just grins and leans into her side.

“I didn’t get to see you at the after party. Gojo-sensei brought so much sushi!”

“Really? Well I hope you guys left me some.” Maki jokes. Nobara hums and the two sit in a comfortable silence for a while, enjoying each other’s presence. The occasional breeze makes everything even more comfortable. Maki’s arm is still wrapped around Nobara’s shoulder who shifts slightly to get a closer look at Maki.

Underneath the stars and the moonlight, Maki looks as if she is a dream. A sad dream. Her eyes, usually twinkling with mischief, seem so tired.

“Are you okay Maki-san? You seem a little down.” Nobara questions as she shifts to face Maki fully. Maki’s arm falls off her shoulder and she sighs and for a moment, she doesn’t answer Nobara. Nobara eyes Maki with rising concern.

“I haven’t had contact with Mai since I enrolled in Tokyo Jujutsu Tech. I didn’t even know that she enrolled in Kyoto Jujutsu Tech until a few months ago. Gojo-sensei had brought me aside and told me before he told everyone about the tournament. I never really got to talk to her after I left the clan. She didn’t even bother to contact me.” Maki explains suddenly as she tilts her head back to look at the sky. Her eyes were dull underneath the bright stars.

“I went up against her today. Did you know that? She yelled at me about how she didn’t even want to become a sorcerer and that she wanted me to stay with her at the bottom of the clan. Can you believe that, Nobara?” Maki scoffs bitterly. “I would’ve hated myself if I stayed there. Why couldn't she come with me instead? We could’ve helped each other and maybe even become the heads of the Zenin clan but I’m just alone now.” Maki lets out another sigh and closes her eyes.

Noabra bit her lip and thought of her words carefully before she spoke. “I think Mai-san will come around. Give her some time and I’m sure you guys will work out your problems. Mai-san can be a little disagreeable,” Maki lets out a laugh. “but I bet she still thinks highly of you. Just give her some time and I know in the end, you guys will get back on good terms.”

“Yeah...I hope so too.” Maki mutters as she sits up and stares off into the distance. Nobara continues on.

“And Maki-san, you’re not alone. You have Toge-senpai, Panda-senpai, Yuta-senpai, Gojo-sensei, Fushiguro, and Yuji!” Maki turns to look at her in the eyes. Nobara grasps one of her hands before carrying on.

“You’re a jujutsu sorcerer and a pretty damn good one. I know you will become the head of the Zenin clan one day and you won’t have to go through the hardships alone. I will repeat it until it gets through your thick skull. You. Do. Not. Need. To. Go. Through. This. Alone.” Nobara emphasizes each word with a poke in Maki’s side, finally getting her to crack a smile.

“’re right Nobara. Thanks for the reminder. Sometimes I forget that I have people who are here for me.” Maki chuckles. Nobara notices her eyes gaining back some of the twinkle and she nods, proud that she did that.

“But hold on a moment.” Maki smirks and Nobara gets the sense that she’s being trapped.

“You said that I have Toge, Panda, Yuta, Gojo-sensei, Fushiguro, and Yuji. Do I also have you then?” Maki’s smirk changes into something softer and shyer. Her face becomes a light pink but her eyes are suddenly the brightest Nobara has ever seen. Maki grabs her other hand and holds both of Nobara’s hands in a loose grasp. Nobara could feel herself flush a deep red.

“Of course! Y-You do have me,” Nobara stammers as Maki’s smile grows to a cheshire grin. Nobara wonders if Maki knows what she’s doing to her and how she’s harboring a not so tiny crush on her.

“Thank you Nobara. I’m here for you too.” Maki leans in and presses a kiss against Nobara’s warm cheek. Nobara reddens even more as Maki wraps an arm around her, pulling Nobara to her side before fully hugging her.

“Yeah. Yeah. Just remember that the guys and I are here for you.” Nobara murmurs into Maki’s neck where she’s buried her face in. Maki hums in response as Nobara pretends to not notice how her hands are slightly trembling around her waist. They stay like that for a while before separating. Maki stands up first, a hand on her neck with a light blush. She gives a hand to Nobara to pull her upright.

“Ready to head back?” Maki asks shyly.

“Give me one more minute,” Nobara replies with a cheeky grin. She stands on her tiptoes and rests her forehead against Maki’s, bringing them in a new proximity of closeness.

Maki’s blush rapidly darkens and spreads and Nobara’s sure that her face isn’t any lighter either but she rests her hand in the crook of Maki’s jawline and kisses the corner of Maki’s mouth.

“There.” Nobara breaks off from Maki, heart pounding, and walks off the benches.

“You coming?” Nobara asks when she’s a few benches below and finds that Maki still isn’t next to her. Nobara looks back at Maki, stifling in laughter and a swoon when she sees Maki still standing in the same spot, pressing her fingers at the spot where Nobara had kissed her. Her blush hadn't faded and her eyes are still shining so bright.

“C-coming!” Maki rushes down the stairs, nearly tripping in her rush to get to Nobara’s side. Nobara finally lets out a burst of laughter, seeing Maki stumbling once more. Maki huffs in annoyance but Nobara can see the fond smile on her face. Once she gets to Nobara’s side, Nobara grabs her hand. She swings their hands together as they walk back to the dorms under the starry night.