Show me the ways of love,
And I will follow.
I know I was made to love,
My heart's not hollow.
Bahari - Ways of love.
Nanami waits patiently for the meeting to end, attempting to tune out Gojo’s leg bouncing insistently under the desk. Both the first and second years have been summoned by Yaga, for a debrief in the gradual foreign increase of cursed energy within the school’s grounds.
They have all noticed it. Since yesterday, around midnight, there was a strange kind of energy that did not belong to any of the known occupants of their school. Come morning, nobody could deny that it was still there, and it wasn’t to be ignored.
It was growing, little by little.
It seemed to drift in from everywhere at once, and it could only be felt within the grounds of the barrier. Strangest thing was, they couldn’t detect any malicious intent.
Not yet, at least.
“Be prepared for anything” Yaga is saying and Nanami looks at the other students. They are all a little on edge, brewing with anticipation.
Especially Gojo, it seems. It’s strange, seeing that guy looking almost- anxious, for a change. Not that Nanami misses his annoyingly good disposition and bad jokes.
“So something’s coming” Geto says, and the silence that ensues is like the good old quiet before the storm.
“It could be,” Yaga acknowledges, looking at all of them in turn. “You’ve all noticed it has spiked considerably since yesterday. We couldn’t yet detect a source, nor does it seem to make its intent known but we can’t have you letting your guards down”
Gojo scoffs at that.
“I’m looking at you, Satoru. Confidence is good, but recklessness comes hand in hand sometimes”
“Aw, I didn’t know you cared, sensei. That’s almost touching” Gojo rubs at his chest, mockingly.
Yaga looks just like Nanami usually feels around Gojo Satoru. Prepared to age, by the second.
“I am your teacher, after all” He sighs, rising from his chair, and Nanami guesses that this is the end of the meeting, for now.
They all stand, eager to get back to their own devices. Haibara smiles at Nanami, his usual way of providing a semblance of reassurance when shit is about to hit the fan. Nanami’s attention is distracted, though, by Gojo, who is taking off his shades, his unnatural eyes looking sharp and cold, as usual.
He looks tense, bracing for an attack.
It’s all of three seconds later, when the rest of them feel it. The immense accumulation of all that lingering energy, in one single spot. It gathers around the room, with a pressure so high, it almost bends them over. Nanami puts his hands on his knees, and so do Haibara and Ieri, in an attempt to stabilise themselves against the pressure.
The cursed energy burns, converging in one point with the fury of a hurricane. The ground shakes beneath them, and they all look at each other, prepared to launch at any second.
In the center of the room, where there was nothing before, the floor looks like it’s almost melting now. A blue circle of light gathers all the cursed energy inside it, leaving the walls to tremble in place.
“Don’t take your eyes off it!” Yaga orders, and Nanami doesn’t. He watches as the circle closes in on itself, narrowing slowly to the size of a football. It buzzes in place for a few moments, and he feels his teeth shake from the force of it.
A shriek, like nails on chalkboard, fills their ears, and they all groan in protest. Nanami covers his, and blinks heavily against the onslaught of sensations this energy is causing. The circle narrows to a single point, thinning out like a string of light, until it disappears.
There is no smoke or any other dance of bright lights when something finally appears.
There is however, a tremendous amount of cursed energy.
The worst kind.
The kind of energy none of them had experienced yet, before this moment.
And it belongs to a boy.
A boy no younger than Nanami, donning a sorcerer’s uniform, and looking just as shocked as all of them to suddenly be there.
They eye him wearily as the entire energy around the room seems to settle.
The ground stills, the walls cease their shaking, and the boy looks at them in wonder. Then, recognition dawns on his face, followed by disbelief. He is holding something in his hands, as he takes them all in.
“Who are you?” Yaga is asking him, and the boy glances at him for a brief second before his eyes catch, like a magnet, on Gojo.
Gojo, who looks frozen in place, his eyes too wide, his eyebrows furrowed in confusion, just like the rest of them.
Nanami watches then, as the boy makes a beeline, straight for Gojo, so fast that none of them gets to blink, before it happens.
He sprints, and jumps right at him, and Nanami doesn't get why Gojo isn’t moving from his spot.
It’s almost like he lets it happen.
The kid releases a cry of relief, to everyone’s surprise. Instead of attacking, his arms go around Gojo, holding on tight, shoving his face in his chest.
“Gojo-Sensei!” He sounds so relieved and desperate, in just that one sentence.
The whole thing is so out of place that it takes them all a few seconds to react, really.
Gojo’s hands hover in the air, stiff.
“What the fuck?” Geto whispers, promptly pulling the kid away from his teammate. On cue, the others stand between them, not allowing any further contact between the two.
“Tell us who you are, kid!” Yaga demands and the boy looks away from Gojo, at last.
The expression on his face, however, is pained, despite the obvious relief and disbelief swimming in his eyes.
“Itadori Yuji, second year jujutsu sorcerer” He says and looks at all of them calmly, as if convinced they would believe him.
Gojo is looking at him, still, even as Geto asks, “Do you know him?”
Gojo shakes his head, seeming unable to take his eyes off the kid.
“Why are you here, Itadori?” Yaga asks, and Nanami watches as the boy fumbles with the object in his hand, holding it tight to his chest. It still isn’t clear what the thing is.
“It’s gonna sound stupid,” Itadori begins, his expression schooling into something serious and determined. “But I think I’ve traveled back in time, something like- fourteen years”
They all look at him in silence, then naturally, look at each other, various expressions of skepticism across their faces.
“You think?” Ieri asks, in a tone that isn’t sarcastic, but isn’t buying into it either.
Itadori gulps. “You don’t have to believe me, I have no proof and I have no idea how I got here. One thing I do know, I’ve come to give everything the benefit of doubt, in this line of work”
Nanami could agree. If curses were a thing, and all their strange techniques were possible, why not this? The universe loves a good joke, after all.
“For the sake of trying to understand this, let’s say we believe you,” Yaga concedes and someone scoffs. “You need to tell us about you and why you are here. You should at least know that much”
“Right,” Itadori nods. “I don’t know how much I can give away without messing with the original timeline, but here goes” He seems to swallow something like a knot in his throat, and his gaze travels around them all, only to settle on Gojo Satoru again.
“A year ago in my present timeline, I swallowed a cursed finger.” Gojo looks back at him as he speaks, and they hold eye contact. “More precisely, Ryomen Sukuna’s finger, the King of Curses. I’m his vessel, until I swallow all twenty fingers and am to be executed along with Sukuna at the end of all this” He says it without fear or regret in his voice, as if it is just a matter of fact.
Any self respectable sorcerer has at least an inkling of what that name means. Nanami shudders, thinking of a future where the king of curses would incarnate and bring about the disaster his name spells.
“How- “ Yaga begins, on a sigh, then reconsiders. “Nevermind, that explains your cursed energy, at least. Keep going”
“Thanks,” Itadori nods, his voice getting quieter as he continues.”I’ve been accepted as a student and trained to learn how to use cursed energy,” He smiles then, his eyes still on Gojo. “My Sensei was the only thing keeping the elders from executing me on the spot, really. I- I know most of you in this room, and you’ve all given me more than I hoped for, really. Things worked out, up to a point” His eyes take on a glint of sadness as he continues, and he looks much older, suddenly.
Nanami has a feeling that the scars on his face are new, and that the kid’s been through a lot more than one should within a year.
“Until they didn’t,” He frowns to himself.
He looks away from Gojo, to stare at Yaga, Ieri, and surprisingly, Nanami himself. His eyes speak of memories, memories that Nanami and the rest of them have yet to make with this boy.
There are no tears but he feels as if there should be.
Itadori doesn’t cry, however, in the face of the obvious tragedy he isn’t speaking about. All he says is,
“I think I know why I’m here” He pulls his hands out of the pockets of his bloody uniform, holding out the object from earlier.
It’s a cube.
An ominous cube, with eyes plastered on each of its four faces.
Itadori’s voice is pained and desperate as he pleads with them, already, a world of hurt in his young eyes.
“I need your help unsealing Gojo-Sensei!” Is what he says.
The silence that follows feels muted. Nanami looks at the cube, then he looks at Gojo, uncomprehending.
“What” Gojo mutters, disbelieving.
“Are you messing with us?” Geto is asking in a level tone, and several voices start fumbling over each other, until the whole room is filled with an overall state of confusion.
Nanami himself says nothing, following Itadori with his eyes instead. The kid isn’t trying to convince them any further, seeming to wait patiently for their disbelief and confusion to settle. Itadori is once again, staring at Gojo, who is frowning back at him. Gojo’s face seems undecided on a particular expression, yet.
“He doesn’t look like he’s lying” Haibara says and Geto glares at him, incredulous.
“You don't know that,” Ieri says.
Yaga is looking at Itadori like one would oversee a complicated game of chess.
“Satoru, do you believe this shit?” Geto is asking. Gojo turns to him, blinking. He opens his mouth and a few seconds pass where he doesn't say anything.
“Of course not” He scoffs, sliding his glasses back on, but he doesn’t sound assured of himself.
“It’s not a matter of believing him or not. Satoru, use your six eyes” Yaga intervenes, approaching Itadori and looking expectantly at his own student.
“Do I have to?” Gojo protests half heartedly as he makes his way to the two of them.
“Yes” Yaga insists, no arguments.
“Fine, fine” Gojo takes off his glasses, rolling his eyes before turning to Itadori.
He goes as far as to invade Itadori’s personal space, who is gingerly holding the cube in both hands. Gojo looks at Itadori first, not the cube. He leans in until their noses are but an inch apart, humming contemplatively in his face.
Itadori doesn’t look phased. In fact, he smiles.
“What’s the smile for?” Gojo asks him.
Itadori laughs then, a short laugh that bursts out of him, as if on its own.
"Déjà vu” He explains. “You did the same thing when we first met, sensei”
At that, Gojo steps back a little, looking at Itadori in something akin to wonder, followed by something else Nanami doesn’t know how to read on his face.
Nanami fails to imagine Gojo Satoru as a teacher.
“I’m not your Sens-,” He starts, frowning, then his eyes slide to the cube, and he freezes mid-sentence. “What the fuck?” Then, in an exhale, “He’s telling the truth” Gojo confirms, unable to take his eyes off the eerie object in Itadori’s palms.
“I’m sorry” Itadori says, and Gojo looks back up at him. “We did everything we could at the time, I swear. But they isolated you, they had everything planned out and- “
His voice takes on that desperation again, his eyes pained. “We didn’t see it coming. No one did. We went months before we were able to retrieve the cube but then we didn’t have a way to unseal it. We tried finding the tools we needed for that to happen but they said you sealed them yourself, years before”
He is rushing through everything, pleading with them, pleading with Gojo, to believe every impossible thing he tells them. “Then I had to stay away from the school because they decided I should be executed on the spot, since you weren’t there to- to protect us anymore. Finally, the elders decided that whoever unseals Gojo Satoru will be executed too”
Nanami watches as Gojo takes it all in, silently. At the mention of his own execution again, Itadori doesn’t look bitter, or even resentful.
But it doesn’t make sense. Why would the elders want for Gojo to be sealed?
What the hell is happening in the future that Itadori came from?
Itadori grips the cube to himself, a tired but unyielding determination set across his gentle face. He looks to Yaga then, “Whatever you have to tell them about me, please don’t tell them about the cube. I know sensei trusted you, so I trust you to please not tell them about his sealing. Whatever I have to do, I’ll find a way to bring him back. That’s why I’m here”
“I see,” Yaga says gravely. He looks at them all, hands crossed over his arms “You’ve heard the truth. Satoru’s six eyes don’t lie. We’ll keep the matter of the seal in this room and this room only. However, “ He turns to Itadori. “I cannot guarantee your safety here, once they know what you host inside you. And there’s no way we can hide you, what with the whole show your cursed energy provided just now.”
“I can, though,” Gojo says. “My name has the power to protect him~” He grins at Itadori, all teeth, a crazy glint in his eye.
“I’ll keep you alive, brat”
Itadori blinks at him, something wet in his eyes. His cheeks stay dry, however, flakes of blood visible on his jaw.
“I know” He says, like he never doubted it for a second, that Gojo Satoru would protect him.