A soothing hum slid into the vast hallways.
The thumps of tiny feet bouncing with each step echoed.
An orange hue draped over the beautiful shrine, signaling a long day coming to an end.
The young master yelped in surprise as a firm hand grasped the nape of his neck, holding him up mid-air like a mother feline to her newborn.
“Sukuna-sama!” he gushed, arms opening up for a hug.
“Brat” The double-spectator gruffly said. “Wash up. It’s time to eat.”
He craned his neck in confusion. “Already? I thought it was still noon.” Pouting, he shook himself from Sukuna’s grip to land on the floor.
“I’ll get ready and help Uraume-san prepare dinner then!” His tiny figure raced to the kitchens as Sukuna watched, stormy blue eyes trained on the flutter of a red yukata.
But the thrum of energy and vibrance Yuuji held couldn’t hide the frailness of his body from Sukuna.
Every day it was becoming harder for Yuuji to run as freely as he once did. The shine in his long, peach hair had dulled over the years.
The quiver in his arms when he carried weight was obvious.
The series of coughing fits in the middle of the night awoke everyone in the vicinity.
At least the stench of vomit wasn’t as putrid as it was the first time.
Sukuna clenched his jaw. He was a God. A sovereign ruler over the sorcery world and by default Japan.
He could take over the entire world if he so desired, with the strength and capabilities of one million soldiers.
Curses and humans alike feared him (at least, the wise ones did). His reign of terror shook everyone to the core. Where he went, ash and blood followed.
Only a select few were able to withstand his monstrous presence. He remained at the top of the food chain.
Sukuna had everything. Nothing was out of reach for him.
So why couldn’t he save Yuuji?
He steadily approached the room where he smelled fresh food and heard the clinking of plates being presented on the table.
There, was Yuuji, wearing a sakura pink kimono with golden traces embedded at the bottom of his puffy sleeves. It complimented Yuuji's natural coloring, beautifully so.
He sat perfectly still and well-mannered, missing any traces of dirt he previously had from playing outside. The visible dip of his collarbone was a sickly white and the bone seemed to poke out no matter how much Yuuji ate.
The enticing aroma of a steaming meal drew him to sit across from Yuuji. Yuuji wore a delicate smile, the creases eye deepening. It was the same one he always wore when they were together.
It never changed over the years. His smile was an assortment of benevolence, fondness, and contentment.
If Yuuji was a sane person, he would be looking at Sukuna with fury and disgust.
Uraume had their head bowed down in respect, standing near the entrance. They waited to hear if Sukuna accepted their meal or not.
But, as usual, Uraume’s meals were perfect. They prepared human meat almost as well as Yuuji after all.
While they ate, Yuuji filled in Sukuna on his day. The pinkette rambled about how their garden needed more plants, his brief trip to the nearby village to buy new sandals, his mini fishing trip at their local stream, and so on. How the boy could carry out so much physical activity in a day was beyond him. If he didn't know any better, he'd say Yuuji was healthy.
Sukuna never spoke in response, instead only tilting his head in acknowledgment once or twice. But Yuuji never minded. His cheerful voice seemed to fill up any space.
The eye on his cheekbone narrowed at Yuuji’s plate. He had barely eaten anything.
Interrupting Yuuji’s rambles, he brought up one of his hands to gesture at the untouched plate. “Uraume’s cooking no longer good for you?” he nonchalantly asked.
Yuuji gasped, scandalized. The boy was fond of Sukuna’s white-haired follower and never failed to praise their diligent servitude.
“Of course not! It’s just-“ He hesitated. Saddened eyes met the ground while his hands fiddled with the brittle ends of his hair.
“If I eat now, I’ll just throw up again” Yuuji finally muttered.
“So? The servants will clean it up.”
Yuuji shook his head. “No, it’s embarrassing. I wake you up too, don’t I?”
Sukuna only scoffed, plunking in another chunk of meat to swallow the unease in his throat.
“We can’t have the mighty King of Curses losing sleep for a lowly being like me, can we?” Yuuji teased. “Besides, I eat little amounts throughout the day so I don't feel hungry. Maybe when I feel better I can start eating like normal again.”
The last time Yuuji ate “normal” was ten years ago. Before a bitter shaman placed an irreversible curse on him to spite Sukuna. Of course, they paid the consequences through their painful death but Yuuji had to live with it. Now reaching twenty-one, Yuji's condition showed no sign of improving. It was stagnant. If it weren’t for Sukuna’s massive amounts of cursed energy and skill, Yuuji would have died years ago. But together, they were okay. They were rather compatible like that.
But Sukuna knew a dying person when he saw one. How could he not, when he loved trampling on them? Their last moments were painted in fear and unbridled rage towards him.
He practically savored it. The helplessness of it all.
Yuuji was the one who stitched him up after a sorcery mission went wrong. Yuuji found him, lost in the forest and vision blurry from an awful concussion. Child hands and all, Yuuji carried him to his family’s hut and nursed him back to good health. And that was back when Sukuna was still human. When he was vulnerable, in more ways than one.
Warm hands, worried golden eyes, and the softest tufts of pink hair you could imagine.
Sukuna sought company in the Itadori home after that, returning there most of the nights after run-ins with curses or other annoying sorcerers. They never turned him away. Instead, like their son, welcomed him with open arms and easy-going smiles. They were foolishly kind. The only one who seemed to have some sense being Yuuji's grandfather. Their family was small but unbearably warm.
Perhaps it was karma that caused them to be slaughtered and Yuuji cursed when the boy was only eleven.
When Sukuna settled in for the night, he brought Yuuji’s sleeping body closer to his chest. He relished in hearing the steady heartbeats of the warm body he cradled. Yuuji sleepily rubbed his cheek against Sukuna's bare chest, practically purring.
From up close, he could make out the eyebags Yuuji attempted to hide with makeup. Sukuna scoffed, gently rubbing away the unnecessary paste.
He peered down at Yuuji's supple lips. Once a rosy pink, they were now faded.
As of late, every time he tasted them it left a bitter taste in his mouth. It seemed that everything about Yuuji was beginning to fade.
Sukuna’s grip tightened. He didn’t have long.
But if Kenjaku’s plan worked, he wouldn’t have to inhale rotting flesh every time he held Yuuji.