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A Story Without A Happy Ending

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“Someone has to leave first. This is a very old story. There is no other version of this story.”
- Richard Siken

The new student arrives in the middle of Shoko’s first year. He enters the classroom before Yaga-sensei, stopping when he spots Shoko and Gojo already at their desks.

Shoko observes him quietly as he slowly moves to take a seat. Beside her, Gojo straightens, eyes gleaming with interest.

Like a cat getting a new toy, she muses as Gojo leans forward curiously.

Objectively speaking, Getou is pretty. Not her type, but pretty.

She envies the way his hair falls, glinting golden in places where the sunlight hits. She envies his eyes, dark, almost black, content and happy and hopeful. She envies his face - clear of eyebags, an indication of the peace he gets each night.

That’ll be fixed soon enough.

She wonders how long it will take for Getou to learn to come to her for sleeping pills, until staying awake was better than sleeping; at least then, you had control of your own mind.

A year, she guesses. Maybe less.

He is dressed in the Jujutsu student uniform, fidgeting with the black bandages over his wrist as he places his things on the table.

It’s not an unusual sight. Bandages, nowadays, are common. In a world where the name of your enemy is on one wrist and the name of your soulmate is on the other, it’s better to let destiny play out. Falling in love with your enemy was a fate best avoided by keeping the names on your wrist secret.

Shoko brushes her hand over her own bandages, colored bright red to hide the bloodstains from the morgue.

“Hi,” she says. “Shoko Ieiri.”

She watches him closely, looking for a flash of recognition. There is none. Her name is not on his wrists.

Introductions are always terribly tense. Arguably the worst part of meeting someone new, though she knows there are others who enjoy introducing themselves. They run through life, searching for the small gasp, the shock that comes with hearing the name that has been written on their wrist since birth, the nervous laughter of meeting someone that has been destined to play a role in your life.

Shoko is not a hopeless romantic, but it’s an interesting thought regardless.

He bows his head to her, perfectly polite. “Getou Suguru.”

He, too, is watching her closely for a sign of recognition. She shakes her head, ever so slightly, and he understands.

“Nice to meet you” is what she wants to say next, but Gojo beats her to it with a question of his own.

“What’s your cursed technique?”

Getou looks at Shoko, then back at Gojo. He hesitates. “Am I allowed to tell you?”

Only someone who was not a part of Jujutsu society would be lacking in such basic knowledge. He was new. Gojo’s eyes brighten as he comes to the same realization, barreling over his previous question.

“Do you know my name?” Gojo asks, tilting his head and leaning forward into Getou’s personal space.

Shoko commends Getou for not backing away.

“No,” he says, frowning. “Am I suppose to?”

Yes.

“Nope!” Gojo brightens further and he steps back, holding out his hand. “Gojo Satoru.”

Getou’s eyes widen at the movement, his eyes lingering on the expanse between Gojo’s outstretched arm and hand.

Gojo Satoru’s wrists are perfectly blank. The one exception to the soulmate system. It made sense that he would be alone in this as well.

“You...don’t have a soulmate,” Getou says, his voice soft and questioning. He reaches out and holds the outstretched hand, his thumb ghosting over the blank space on Gojo’s wrist. The touch is almost reverential, made gentle by disbelief and awe.

Gojo freezes, flushing a bright red. Shoko raises an eyebrow. A speechless Gojo Satoru was a rare sight.

Getou immediately retracts his hands. “Sorry - I should’ve asked.”

When Gojo doesn’t respond, his mouth still hanging slightly open from surprise, Shoko speaks up instead.

“Nice to meet you Getou,” she says, the edge of her lips curling up in a half smile. “I think we’ll all be great friends.”

────

Months pass.

They’re friends, even if they won’t admit it.

Getou and Gojo fight at every opportunity, but Gojo begins wearing hair ties on his wrists and Getou begins keeping sweets in his pockets and either she’s wrong or they’re not the self proclaimed ‘enemies’ they pretend to be.

(She’s hardly ever wrong.)

Today, they’ve been assigned a mission in the countryside. Gojo stays back on account of family matters, so Shoko and Getou are the only ones that make the journey.

The battle is over in mere seconds; She doesn’t even have to lift a finger.

Getou destroys the the curse before it does any notable damage, reducing it to a wriggling orb of cursed energy. His lip curls in distaste as he holds it in his hands, staring for just a moment before forcing it down his throat.

Shoko watches closely. It’s a fascinating ability.

“What do they taste like?” She asks as they head back towards the town for some shopping. These moments of peace after a mission is complete are rare, few and far between with the shortage of Jujutsu sorcerers. They might as well take advantage of their trip.

“Terrible,” Getou replies, shaking his head, violently wiping his mouth with his sleeve. “It doesn’t go away.”

She wrinkles her nose in disgust, reaching into her bag. She pulls out a box of cigarettes and opens it, holding it towards him with a silent invitation. “Might get the taste out of your mouth.”

He stares for a moment before taking one. “Pretty sure doctors aren’t suppose to encourage smoking.”

“Not a doctor yet,” Shoko says, smiling. She gives him the lighter. “And even if I was, I’d be a doctor, not a narc.”

Getou snorts, accepting the lighter. He puts the cigarette in his mouth and lights it, the small flame flickering to life with a click. He coughs, his face contorting into a grimace.

“Gross right?” She touches her cigarette to the flame and takes a slow drag. It burns, rushing through her throat and lungs, destroying her insides as it went. The toxic stench surrounds them, clinging to every surface. A stark reminder of the poison they consume.

“Yeah,” he says. “It’s disgusting.”

Neither of them stop until the cigarettes crumble to ashes. She stomps them out with the heel of her shoes and they continue.

The marketplace is bustling as they arrive. For a moment they simply stand, watching the crowds of people scattered about, the air filled with loud voices and laughter.

They split and come back together; Shoko, carrying fun souvenirs and clothes; Getou, holding bags of sweets. She glances at the cases of mochi he has, a rainbow assortment of different colors and flavors.

“You don’t like sweets.”

“I don’t,” he says. “They’re for Satoru.”

Satoru. She notices.

“I thought you two weren’t friends,” she says, her lips curling into a smirk.

He shoots her a flat look. “He’s an ass, but he’ll be an even bigger ass if he knows I didn’t pick up sweets on the way back.”

“Right. Of course. That’s the only reason.”

He doesn’t bother to reply. Disappointing; he used to more gullible, confused about whether or not she was being sarcastic. Use to be easier to bait into responding.

“It’s getting late,” he says. “We should head back.”

So they do; they catch the last train minutes before it leaves. The countryside fades, rolling hills and green grass become familiar bright lights and skyscrapers. The sun is just beginning to set when they arrive back on campus, passing under the familiar wooden archway.

There’s a blur of black before Gojo appears out of nowhere, nearly tackling Getou to the ground. Getou stumbles, dropping everything he was holding to catch Gojo, barely maintaining his balance.

“Suguru,” Gojo whines, burying his head into Getou’s shoulder. “You were gone for so long. I was bored!”

“Sorry,” Getou replies, sounding not very sorry at all. “Next time, I’ll be sure to abandon Shoko so I can come back faster.”

“Good! She’s strong. She can handle it.”

It’s rare that Gojo acknowledges that others are strong. She supposed that she should feel flattered, but when she watches Getou gently card his fingers through Gojo’s hair, all she wants to do is tell them to get a room.

“If I die it’ll be on your hands,” She tells him, picking up Getou’s bags for him. He shoots her a grateful look and she responds with one that says ‘You owe me.’

“You won’t die Shoko,” Gojo says, as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “They’d have to get through us first and we’re the strongest.”

The strongest. Such an arrogant statement, said with the brash confidence only Gojo can have. Normally, she would tease him for such a cheesy saying, but she can’t. It’s the truth, after all.

It’s nice to know she can rely on them. To know that they would all go through hell and back for each other. She can’t ever admit that, of course, but the sentiment is there. They know without her saying so.

“Somehow, that doesn’t reassure me,” she says dryly, turning to head back to her dorm. She doesn’t want to impose any longer. “Talk to me after you become Special Grades.”

As she’s leaving, she glances back, just once; She hears Gojo whisper into Getou’s ear, his voice impossibly fond. “Welcome back.”

And Getou, carefully removing Gojo’s sunglasses, his voice hushed, “I’m back.”

Shoko was wrong. They’re more than friends.

────

“Shoko!”

“What?”

“He tastes like cigarettes now!”

“And?”

“You’re a terrible influence. You should’ve told him to eat candy instead.”

────

The school stops sending her on missions. Not because they value her as an individual, but because her ability is too valuable to lose. After classes, her days divided between the infirmary and the morgue, filled with injured sorcerers and dead bodies. It’s an important position, and she knows how crucial it is for sorcerers to live, but she can’t help but feel a little disappointed every time she misses the opportunity to dissect a body.

In the mean time, Gojo and Getou get stronger, labeled as special grades by the end of their first year.

They’re more than friends, but she doesn’t notice they’re soulmates until the end of summer. It happens like this:

Shoko is organizing her medical supplies when the door to the infirmary opens with a bang!, the hinges breaking from the sheer strength of the impact.

Gojo stumbles into the room, cradling a body in his arms. His uniform torn, the usual black covered with red, blood dripping onto the floor. He lays the body down onto the table carefully, gently combing through its long black hair, seeking some manic form of comfort.

Her heart stops for a moment as she sees that it’s Getou, the faint rise of his chest the only indication he was breathing. He’s barely recognizable; deep red scratches on his torso as though a child had decided to carve open an old toy.

Instinct kicks in. She goes to touch him, to heal him but - her hand stops inches away from his body.

Infinity is still activated.

She glances at Gojo, desperately clutching Getou’s arm. His eyes, darting around, blurred with tears. As wild as a caged animal.

She’s never seen him like this before.

“Save him,” he begs. His voice is raw, scratchy. It sounds like a prayer.

“I will,” she says. A lie. Shoko will try her best, but she can’t make promises.

Infinity doesn’t go away, keeping them in a world separate from hers. She can’t save them there.

“I will,” she repeats, whispering. She speaks the same way she would to a scared child. “But you have to let go of Infinity.”

Shoko has never been soft and Gojo has never been delicate, but it’s different now, with their best friend on the verge of death.

Gojo will break if she is not soft.

“I can’t-“

“You have to.” She kneels to meet his eye level. “I can save him. Trust me.”

It speaks volumes of their friendship when Gojo listens. No one else could’ve done the same.

Shoko touches Getou, his pale skin growing colder every second, and begins to work.

 

It takes hours to stabilize him. First, with reverse curse technique; next, with stitches and machinery and medical knowledge stolen from textbooks and experimentation.

Gojo stays the entire time, holding so tightly that his knuckles turn white. Out of kindness, she had pretended not to see his tears. His eyes have dried in the hours since.

“He’ll be okay,” she tells him.

Once he knows; only after does she ask, “Will you leave the room for a second?”

He looks at her, blinking slowly, processing. “Why?”

She gestures to the bandages on Getou’s wrist, stained with blood. They’re as red as her own now. “I need to change them.”

“I won’t look.”

“I don’t trust you.”

Blue eyes meet unflinching brown; They stare at each other.

There are many things she will trust Gojo with. She will trust him to eat sweets at an obscene rate, she will trust him to make jokes at inappropriate times and get in trouble, she will trust him to save her life under any circumstance.

But this?

No, she doesn’t trust him. She knows him too well.

Gojo is selfish. He asks often for the names on Getou’s wrist, draping himself across his lap and refusing to leave until he has an answer; attempting to persuade Getou with saccharine sweet words. Getou has never told him - for good reason; there is a chance that Gojo would kill them both, just to destroy Getou’s enemy. He would call Getou’s soulmate a necessary sacrifice. Cruel, but caring, in his own way.

She doesn’t blame him. It must be difficult, to know that the person you love might be destined to love another.

For once, Gojo listens without arguing, sees that this is not something she will indulge him in. He places a kiss on Getou’s forehead, breathtakingly gentle, before he leaves. The door swings in his wake, crooked and broken.

Shoko unwraps the bandages around Getou’s wrists, sees the names written upon them - those of his soulmate and his worst enemy - and puts new ones on. A motion she has done countless of times; a secret she will keep on his behalf.

After, she heads outside. Gojo is there, leaning against the railing. Beneath them lies rows of trees, varying shades of green that cascade down.

“You won’t tell me their names,” he says, when she stands next to him, lighting a cigarette. She breathes; the smoke escapes, staining the clean mountain air.

“It’s not my secret to tell,” she says calmly. “What happened?”

A lull of silence before he answers.

“I left him. Thought he could handle it, went to take care of the other special grade curse.” - He covers his face with his hands, his breathing shaking - “Fuck. It’s my fault.”

Shoko doesn’t comfort people. It’s not her job and she won’t start now. She’s never been good at it anyways.

So instead she says, “You can stay in the infirmary until he wakes up.”

His head snaps up, looking at her in shock.

Shoko has never let people stay in the infirmary before. It’s always been her work space, a sign of her authority, open for visiting but never a public space. She’s turned away countless other sorcerers, regardless of their status. To give Gojo free rein of the infirmary is a significant act of faith.

“Don’t let anyone else know,” she warns him, taking another drag. “Can’t have people thinking I’ve gone soft on you.”

He laughs. It sounds hollow. “I owe you one.”

“Don’t bother.” Shoko blows smoke in his face and shrugs. “What else are friends for?”

────

“Where is Gojo?”

“No idea.”

“There’s a mission he’s been assigned to.”

“Good luck finding him.”

“Shoko...are you sure you haven’t seen him?”

“Yaga-sensei, why would I ever lie?”

────

The sun is bright. The light covers her skin and it feels like she is being covered in a warm liquid gold. She plucks handfuls of grass absentmindedly as she sits, watching Mei-Mei and Getou spar.

Beside her, Gojo lays on his side, his head propped up by his arm. He watches also, his eyes hidden behind circular sunglasses.

Shoko doesn’t need to see his eyes to know that his attention is solely focused on Getou, who has forgone the usual Jujutsu student uniform in favor of a casual t-shirt and pants.

“Enjoying the show?” She asks, flicking some leaves his way. The leaves stop inches before they can touch his skin, simply floating in midair before falling to the ground.

Gojo hums his agreement, his gaze remaining focused on the battle. Mei-Mei swings her axe at Getou, who narrowly dodges by diving to the side. He gets up quickly, counter attacking with his staff.

“Ieiri,” he says. “Can I ask you a question?”

First names. A serious question.

“You already have,” she says with a wry drawl. “But yes, ask away.”

Gojo moves to a sitting position, his arms behind him to brace him. He crosses his legs and looked up, the sky reflecting on his sunglasses. The very picture of relaxation, if Shoko didn’t know any better.

The slightest hint of hesitation comes in the stuttered breath he takes right before he asks, “Would you ever fall in love with someone that isn’t your soulmate?”

She smiles.

“I think you’re asking the wrong person.”

He laughs. It’s not a nice laugh. “Maybe I am.”

She flicks his forehead, but only because he lets her. Infinity doesn’t stop her this time.

“You love him,” she says. It’s not a question.

He confirms anyways: “I love him.”

“I think it’s quite rude of you to assume that Suguru doesn’t love you back.” Shoko holds up his arm and taps the blank skin on his wrist. “They don’t mean anything you know.”

He looks at her, perplexed. “But soulmate bonds-“

“Are worthless,” She cuts him off, her voice light and mocking. “I never took you for a coward. Going to let fate decide your life so easily?”

“I-“ He stops. Re-evaluates his words. Tries again. “Sorry,” he says, the curve of his lips forming a rueful smile. “When I was young, the elders taught me that soulmate bonds were sacred. I should know better than to listen to those old fools.”

“You should,” she says. “I’m jealous sometimes.”

“Why?”

“You don’t have a soulmate. You’re not bound to anyone.” Shoko lets go of his hand. “The rest of us aren’t so lucky.”

“Don’t beat yourself up over it,” he says, grinning. “We can’t all be perfect.”

She sighs. “I wish you were as ugly as your personality. People would run away screaming.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m a delight.”

“Children would cry when they see your face.”

Gojo’s responding laughter carries down to field where the two are fighting. Getou glances at Gojo; Mei-mei seizes the opportunity and sweeps his legs.

Shoko watches Getou fall, having been distracted by the sound of Gojo’s laugh, and it feels, for just a moment, peaceful.

────

Amanai dies. Things change.

────

It’s three in the morning when she hears a knock on the door. Shoko is in the middle of filing paperwork, as she often does at this time. Visitors at this hour are rare, but not unimaginable.

“Come in.”

The door opens and Getou enters.

“Sleeping pills?”

A little more than a year. He exceeded her expectations.

She moves, reaching to grab an orange bottle from the shelf. The small white pills clatter against the harsh plastic as she hands it to him. “You look like shit.”

And he does; his flaws illuminated by the glaring lamp on her table. Dark eyebags, hollow cheeks, uniform hanging off of him like loose flesh.

“Thanks,” Getou says dryly. “Satoru told me the same thing before he left.”

“Where’d they send him off to?”

“Kyoto.”

She observes the vacant look in his eyes. “You miss him.”

He laughs, an empty sound. The cadence echoes against the walls harshly. “Yeah, I do.”

She hums, inspecting him closely. His bandages are old, worn down. They’re wrapped unevenly, carelessly. She gestures to them, “Need new ones?”

He glances at his wrists, his eyes slightly dazed. Eventually, he nods. “Do you believe in soulmate bonds?”

“The science says they indicate important people in your life and I believe that.” She signals for him to lay his arms out, taking out a knife. “But I don’t believe they decide your life. Just because you know someone’s name doesn’t mean you automatically fall in love with them. It’s still a choice you make...though I wonder at times if it’s simply a self fulfilling prophecy.”

He watches as she cuts the old bandages. They come apart at the seams, two wrists revealing Gojo Satoru underneath. The font is neat, in the perfect calligraphy of the Gojo’s handwriting.

Shoko doesn’t say anything. She doesn’t ask for an explanation.

But there must be something in her expression; he seems to know her thoughts. “You think I should tell him.”

She does.

“It’s your choice,” she says, opening a new packet of bandages.

He holds still as she begins wrapping them over his skin. The fabric stretches, a dark expanse that covers the name.

“I want to tell him,” he says defensively.

“Why won’t you?”

“I haven’t figured out how.”

It’s an excuse. He flinches as she tightens the bandages.

“He loves you,” she says, because Getou looks like he needs the reminder. “He’s your soulmate.”

“He’s also my worst enemy,” Getou responds, cracking a smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes.

“Does that matter?”

A pause. The ’bzz’ from the fluorescent lights fill the room in the absence of their conversation. The sound settles, a consistent background noise.

“No,” he says at last. He pulls his arm back, running his hand across the rough bandages. “I love him anyways.”

Then, softer, ”I would let him kill me.”

“He wouldn’t kill you.”

“Who knows? We’re fated enemies. Maybe the council will order him to.” The words are sharp and biting, disgust clear in his tone.

She sighs. “You still don’t get it do you?” Neither of them were particularly emotionally intelligent, but she had higher hopes for Getou. “He doesn’t have a soulmate, Suguru. He loves you by choice.”

Shoko watches his eyes widen, ever so slightly, as the understanding washes over him.

“…Oh.”

“You’re both idiots,” she says, but her voice has too much affection for it to be an insult.

“Yeah,” he says earnestly. “That’s why we need you.”

She rolls her eyes, sending him on his way with a warning not to take more than one pill a night.

It’s the last conversation they have before Getou massacres a village.