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Convergence

Chapter Text

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.

Ryomen Sukuna.

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.

Chapter Text

They have no choice but to go directly to the elders. Already, the school is stirring with the aftermath of the whole burst of foreign cursed energy, and in order to avoid suspicion, they have to report things right away. They had very little time to devise a plan and that implies telling the truth, but leaving aside the prison realm. Yaga instructs Itadori to mostly stay quiet, and to not get swayed by the elder’s ways of asking questions, because they can trip him up in just a few seconds if he lets them.

Itadori simply agrees, as if he is already expecting the worst.

Now here they are, entering the den of these old farts that Satoru feels like squashing under his foot, everytime they are being mentioned, even. He hates every single one of them.

“Masamichi Yaga, Gojo Satoru,” Says one of them. They are all males, because their generation is twisted like that, and still clings on to their ridiculous tradition in discriminating against their female sorcerers.

Yaga bows respectfully, and Satoru wants to gag. He knows he is expected to do the same, but he just doesn’t want to. Every bone in his fiber tells him not to bow down to these frauds. He watches as Itadori bows even deeper than Yaga and rolls his eyes.

“Still the same contemptuous brat, Gojo Satoru”, Another elder says, his eyes buried in the folds of his wrinkles. Satoru barely refrains from showing him the middle finger.

They all look the fucking same.

Satoru” Yaga warns in a whisper, and he relents only for the sake of making this work. His bow is lazy and almost mocking. If the elders notice, they don't bother to point it out.

“Who is the boy?” Wrinkly folds asks, his voice raspy as if from a lifetime of tobacco.

“This is Itadori Yuji,” Yaga introduces. “He is the source of the cursed energy we felt accumulating since yesterday in the school grounds” He waits for a beat.

“Oh? Do continue”

“He is also a second year jujutsu sorcerer, and the vessel of the King of Curses, Ryomen Sukuna” Yaga says, and Satoru is surprised that there is no catch in his voice.

Silence lies about the room for a few moments before voices erupt, one over the other.

“Ryomen Sukuna?”

“A vessel?!”

“You mean to say that thing incarnated?”

“Execute him, right this instant!”

“Yes, we must execute him, waste no time-”

As the elders speak one over the other, Satoru remains unphased. He had expected this much from these cowards. He looks to Itadori instead, who is standing straight. His expression though, is almost a void. He doesn’t give away a single hint of fear. He doesn’t look like he wants to defend himself, either. The only thing that gives away his calm demeanor is the hand that he holds inside his pocket, gripping the outline of the cube.

Satoru doesn’t know what to make of him.

“We can’t execute him” Yaga speaks over the elders, and Satoru snaps back into the conversation.

It takes a while for an elder to single out what Yaga said, seeing as they are still talking over each other.

“What’s your reasoning, Yaga?” The elder who first addressed Satoru, is asking.

Yaga clears his throat and silence settles back into the room, slowly.

“We can’t execute the vessel of the king of curses” Yaga tells them again, “Because he’s coming from the future and we don’t know how that will affect us all”

Satoru counts all the way to three and a half, bouncing on the balls of his feet. On cue, the cacophony of voices starts again, this time, laughter and disbelief among them.

“Have you grown tired of your job, Yaga?” An elder jokes but it sounds more like a threat, really.

“The future, he says.” Another one scoffs.

“Nonsense”

Itadori winces from his place to Satoru’s right, rigid and poised. Poised for what, Satoru doesn’t know. Is he going to flee, should their plan fail? Is he going to release the king of curses on them, like one would sic a rabid dog on a pack of thieves?

How good is his control, anyway?

“Show us your proof” Wrinkly folds demands.

Immediately, there are murmurs of agreement following his demand.

“He doesn’t know how he got here, either,” Yaga explains, slowly. “If it’s proof you are asking for, Satoru’s six eyes can vouch for him. However, Itadori has a tight rein on the king of curses and he won’t have him come out just to put on a show, I’m sure you understand”

Satoru whistles, in his mind. Yaga came up with all that on his own? If he didn’t know any better, he’d say his teacher is trying to mock the elders too, at this point. Those old farts sure deserve all the mockery Satoru had saved up for them, for that one special day he is sure will come at some point.

It isn’t this day, however.

“Why weren’t you executed in the future, boy?”

Itadori looks straight at the elder asking the question and his voice is level when he answers. “They decided my usefulness extended to me consuming all of Ryomen Sukuna so they can execute us both at the end. I was given the option of an instant or a postponed execution, if I agreed to eat all 20 fingers. I chose the latter”

It is really off putting, how someone can talk about their own execution, the way this Itadori Yuji does. Almost like he agrees with their decision, that he shouldn’t be kept alive. Satoru frowns at the thought. For some reason, it unsettles him.

“And what guarantee did they have that you wouldn’t slip and kill us all?”

“That’s because it wouldn't have happened. My teacher would have personally executed me on the spot, and he is more than capable of defeating Sukuna” Itadori explains, nothing but confidence in his statement.

“Who is your teacher, then?”

“Gojo Satoru” Itadori says, and Satoru can’t chase away the strangeness of it all. Of someone he never met, talking about a Satoru that doesn’t yet exist. A future Gojo Satoru, who apparently, before being sealed, had a tight leash on Itadori Yuji, the vessel of the King of Curses whom he was to execute on spot, should he lose control.

His future self would be forced to execute his own student. Satoru already hates him. What kind of teacher is he, if he’s playing in the palms of these geezers, even 14 years from now? Did nothing change? Are they all still pawns in these filthy old hands?

Why is Itadori ok with all of this? Is he that much of a coward?

“Of course” The elders scoff at hearing Satoru’s name. Yes, he will always jump at the chance of creating trouble for them, no matter where his future leads. He’s pretty sure the whole postponed execution thing was his idea in the first place.

“Gojo Satoru, are you vouching for this boy?” The elders ask him, and Satoru looks at them for a couple of seconds, before taking off his shades.

With naked eyes, and a confidence stemming from his own powers, he smiles, a feral grin.

“Of course” He says, leaving no room for doubt in his tone.

“I suppose you don’t know why you’re here?” They ask Itadori, and the kid answers with a no.

“Very well. We will discuss this matter and come to a decision before the end of this day”

“Don’t let him out of your sight” One of the geezers warns Satoru and Yaga.

“Dismissed!”

Satoru bows again, in the same lazy manner and Yaga slaps him upside the head once they are out of sight.

“Itadori, I’ll show you to a room, you must be tired” He says, leading the way.

They walk in silence all the way to the student dorms. For some reason, Satoru feels pissed about a lot of what went on in there, even though their plan might just work out. He stomps off ahead at some point, and Yaga doesn’t say anything to stop him.

-

Itadori Yuji lives to see another day, and the shitty elders agree to keep him alive, from fear of tampering with the future, and because they do want Ryomen Sukuna to be gone for good. Satoru is not so sure they won’t try to kill him when he isn’t looking, anyway.

That’s just how those dirty fuckers go about things.

Still, he doesn’t follow after Itadori at every step, content in letting Yaga take over that task. The next day, Yaga calls Itadori in his office and they don’t come out of there for a while. Whatever they’re planning is probably in relation to the cube.

He gives himself time to sort out the mess in his head, instead.

Chapter Text

Satoru avoids the kid. 

He’s filled with a mix of confusing feelings, and a curiosity so big, that he doesn’t know what to do with himself for the rest of the day. So after Yaga takes Itadori aside, Satoru wanders off, ignoring Shoko and Suguru’s attempts at discussing the elephant in the room.

Itadori Yuji, the boy had called himself. A jujutsu sorcerer, the vessel of the King of Curses. As if that wasn’t enough to rattle their world, the kid had to go and travel back in time.

For Satoru.

The vessel of the king of curses travelled back in time, to unseal his future self.

That… should be a bad joke, but it isn’t. So Satoru allows himself to chew on it from all sides. Hence, avoiding Itadori Yuji for the rest of the day. And the day after.

He is kind of expecting the kid to come looking for him, what with the whole, ‘I travelled back in time for you’ thing, but he doesn’t. It is then, that Satoru concludes he is being stupid. 

Itadori didn’t travel in this timeline specifically, for him

He did it to unseal Gojo Satoru, the strongest sorcerer whom the future world no doubt needs in order to maintain its balance. He did it for the bearer of the six eyes and their only hope at salvaging what is left of that future.

How did he do it, though?

Does it even matter? 

He’s here, isn’t he? And Satoru had seen it for himself, the cruel truth in that cube, staring him in the face. Mocking him. His future self is imprisoned, sealed like a depravity, held in the arms of a boy he has yet to know anything about.

Satoru is the strongest, even now. He is the strongest, the only one bearing the six eyes and limitless, so how did he end up being sealed away in his future?

Who sealed him?

It’s that thought that prompts him to go find the Itadori kid and shake him for answers. 

Yaga finds Satoru first, however, and pulls him into his office. Itadori is already there. He isn’t sitting down, instead pacing like a caged dog. The moment he feels them come in, he looks up. He has this strange expression on his face as he watches Satoru, just like the first day when he materialized into the classroom.

Satoru doesn’t know him so he can’t begin to read it.

“So, what’s the deal?” Satoru starts and Yaga sits down on the sofa, gesturing for them to do the same on the other side. Satoru does, putting his feet on the table. Yaga kicks them off and bonks him in the head for it. Satoru sulks, a bump rising on his head. From the corner of his eye, he catches Itadori smiling slightly at their interaction. But his smile is reserved and strange. 

It only serves to irk Satoru, for some reason.

“Sit down, kid” He says, addressing Itadori for the second time since they met. 

He’s surprised when the kid actually obeys. He puts a considerable distance between them, though. That’s fine. Satoru likes his personal space, just fine.

“Satoru” Yaga starts, “I spoke to Itadori. While the elders are looking into a way to send him back in his timeline, we’ll make the best of it as we can. I looked into the tools that could unseal the prison realm but they aren’t available to us right now. We need either the inverted spear of heaven or-“

“The black rope, I know,” Satoru says, rolling his eyes. As if he could carry the Gojo name and not know of these things.

“Yes. It will take a while to find them since we can’t ask the elders for their location. I spoke to the other students and they will be subtle in their side quest to find them when taking on missions”

“How cunning, sensei~” Satoru praises. Yaga gives him the stink eye.

“Itadori” Yaga says, and the guy looks up so fast, he should get whiplash. “I would ask you again to just wait for this to pass, but I know you won’t listen” Yaga sighs, as if he’s too old for this shit. “Hence, I allow you to go on missions- however, only supervised! You’re only to go if Satoru goes and even so, I won’t be able to send you in every time. Some of the missions he takes would risk your exposure, and we don’t want that outside of the school grounds”

Itadori nods, his mouth a thin line. Satoru catches himself staring at the scars on his face. They look recent, just barely healed.

“In the meantime, I want you to show Satoru your technique. Let him familiarize with your control and your fighting style, it’s going to be useful if you’ll be running missions together, however long that may be”

“Ok” Itadori says, simple as that.

Satoru doesn’t have anything to object here so they head for the training grounds.

-

The training grounds are, thankfully, filled with students so Satoru doesn’t have to worry about awkward one-on-one time with Itadori. Nanami, Shoko and Suguru are there.

He makes a beeline for Suguru who is sitting on the floor, drinking from a water bottle. 

“Yo” Suguru says and Satoru grins back. 

“How was it?” 

“Yaga wants me to see the kid’s technique. Test his control”

“I have to admit, I’m curious about that,” Suguru says. “Aren’t you?”

“Maybe,” Satoru allows. He looks around for Itadori. The kid is standing a few feet away, where Nanami and Shoko are talking to him. Satoru can’t hear what they’re saying, but he’s a little surprised to see Itadori looking comfortable in their presence. His stiff posture is a bit more relaxed now, and even though he’s not smiling, he looks less like an alien, and more like an actual student that belongs in their school.

“Oi, kid! C’mere” Satoru calls, and Itadori turns and starts walking over. Then he notices Suguru and he stops dead. There’s a ‘barely there’ twitch, in his expression that Satoru only notices because he is looking so carefully. Whatever it means, it doesn’t look good. It speaks of recognition, though.

“I know most of you in this room,” 

Itadori had said at the time, and Satoru wonders if the only one he doesn’t know is Haibara. Still, his pause is only for a couple of seconds before he schools his expression and joins them. 

“Sens- senpai” Itadori says, correcting himself at the last moment. 

The slip does something strange to Satoru’s stomach and he frowns at it. He’s not sure if he’s displeased by it or what.

“Hello, kid,” Suguru says, waving a hand. “Can I stick around when you show Satoru the moves?” 

“Ah. Yeah” Itadori says, but he looks shifty. His eyes keep darting back and forth as if trying to avoid contact with Suguru. Maybe they don’t get along in the future, though Satoru can’t imagine why that would be the case.

“Wanna start?” Satoru asks him. They might as well, otherwise things could just keep getting more awkward and confusing.

“Sure” Itadori nods, and Suguru gets up to stand further to the side while Satoru puts the necessary distance between him and Itadori. “What do you want me to do?”

“What can you do?” Satoru counters and watches Itadori raise his fists, looking calm and composed. 

“Punching and kicking. Also, Black Flash and Divergent Fist” 

Oh. Black Flash already?

“How many times?” He wants to know.

“Four” 

Satoru whistles and so does Suguru. 

“Show me your moves, then” He takes a fighting stance, leaving the right distance between his feet.

Itadori comes at him and he’s fast. His body moves in a fluid, effortless kind of way, as if he’s a spring falling down the stairs, aided by nothing but gravity. Satoru blocks his kicks and punches, but he can’t afford to look away from him. The way he moves, though, it’s almost mesmerising. His focus is 100% and that is no doubt a person who could achieve black flash more than four times in a day, even. 

He bounces back and keeps coming, so Satoru stops messing around and attacks him for real. No techniques, just martial arts. Itadori is made for them. He blocks Satoru, making use of every free corner around him to propel his movements and it almost looks acrobatic in its essence.

The others are staring in a trance, and Satoru doesn’t blame them.

Itadori Yuji’s fighting is truly a sight to behold.

Satoru grins, intrigued. He goes for one of his signature moves, certain that this one will hit. Itadori catches it though, as if he’s familiar with it.

Oh.

Right. 

Satoru feels a rush, at that moment, decides to try as many of his signature moves as he can. He wants to see how many Itadori can handle.

He handles them, alright. 

One after the other. He almost makes it seem like he’s predicting them. It’s obvious that he’s waiting for each one to happen, eyes alert and breathing controlled, never leaving Satoru’s frame. Satoru thinks that if Itadori wanted, he could use black flash, right at this moment. He’s tempted to make him try. To do that, however, he has to push him. Push him harder. 

So Satoru pushes. 

He does something that usually only happens when fighting Suguru. He takes him seriously.

Itadori doesn't disappoint him.

-

Going on a mission with Itadori happens faster than Satoru thought it would take. After all, there's always a shortage of sorcerers, so he shouldn't be surprised.

Itadori follows him around like a sad puppy, quiet and restrained. There's a weird silence between them that Satoru feels is unnatural. Not because he's the type to feel awkward if nobody says anything. 

It's just a nagging little sensation, telling him this isn't how Itadori would normally interact. 

When they arrive at the location, they busy themselves with the case and there's no time to feel strange about their lack of conversation. Itadori asks simple things, mission related things, and Satoru answers him, but that's about it. 

Satoru exorcises the first curse all too quickly, which gives him time to see Itadori in action, this time for real. He's swift, a visible control about him, his face set in determination. He's so serious about it, like this little case is all that matters, for him to fix things. 

When they get out of there, waiting for a manager to pick them up, Satoru watches Itadori, still. There's a shiftiness about him, a restlessness. He perks up like a dog at every little movement and noise, staring intently at building corners, under parked vehicles, in dark alleys. All the while wearing this frown on his face, like he's waiting for something that isn't coming.

Satoru doesn't ask. 

Their second mission, a few days later, goes along the same lines. So does the third, in which Shoko accompanies them.

Itadori is reckless, and seems to give zero fucks about getting himself injured. He prowls through curses like a hurricane, like he's got something to prove to those things. It's a good thing Shoko's there for the last one because he's pretty banged up by the end of it, his uniform torn in places.

They don't find much as far as leads go.

-

The day after the last mission with Itadori, Satoru catches him in front of his dinner, uniform jacket in his lap, not even eating.

He entertains the thought of bothering him, just to see a reaction, something. But he remembers how that failed so far on their missions, and he settles for sitting on the adjacent row, instead. 

Yaga walks in at some point, after Satoru eats half of his dinner and Itadori starts on his, at least. Yaga nods in Satoru's direction but heads for the kid.

"Itadori" Yaga says, and he looks up from the bundle of clothing in his hands.

"Yaga-san" Itadori acknowledges.

"I can give you a spare for that. It looks pretty worn out" Yaga offers, gesturing to the uniform jacket that Itadori's holding.

Itadori shakes his head. "No, it's fine. I'll just fix it”

"You sure about that?"

"Yeah. Someone made it for me so it's- it's gotta be this one" Itadori explains, and it's only then, that Satoru sees the needle and thread lying beside him on the table. 

"I understand," Yaga nods. "Let me know if you need anything, then" He turns to go, and Satoru wonders what the hell he even came here for.

"And kid- " Yaga stops in the doorway. 

Itadori looks up at him. 

"Get some sleep, will you? You're pushing yourself too hard"

Itadori nods, obedient. Then he goes back to sewing.

When Satoru heads out, he gets close enough to properly glance at the uniform. Itadori is surprisingly good at sewing, and the uniform looks well worn and cared for, in a really used kind of way.

He'd be lying if he said he wasn't curious about that.

-

It’s on their first mission with Suguru that they finally get a good lead on the black rope needed to open the prison realm. It’s also on that mission that Satoru realizes he didn’t imagine the weird atmosphere between Itadori and Suguru. 

Itadori chooses to sit in the front on the car ride, never once attempting conversation with any of them. He does interact a little with the manager, which is just weird. When they get to the part of talking with their witness for this mission, he keeps his distance from Suguru, looking like he wants to run out of the room, or something. 

“What’d you do to him?” Satoru asks him, when they head for the location where the curse was last seen, and Itadori walks ahead in front of them.

“That’s what I’d like to know,” Suguru tells him. 

“He seems fine with Shoko and Haibara. Even with that bore, Nanamin” 

“He’s more than fine with Kento,” Suguru says, and Satoru gives him a raised eyebrow.

“Yeah. I think they know each other as well as he knows you. He seems very familiar with him. The other day, he was giving him that baguette sandwich that Nanami always buys”

Satoru snorts. “Really?” He asks, but it’s more to hide the frown that wants to take over his face. It doesn’t make sense, Itadori being super friendly with Shoko, Haibara and Nanami, when he won’t even try to engage Satoru in conversation. 

“For all that he walks around with that cube all the time, he doesn’t give you much, does he?” Suguru asks him, and Satoru is grateful for his friends not opening the can of worms that is his sealing in the future. They must have piles of questions that they want answered but they keep their mouths shut. Because Satoru doesn’t have the answers, either.

“You kidding me? He barely talks to me. He follows me around only on missions, and obeys everything I ask, but he’s all strange and unresponsive, otherwise” Satoru does frown, this time. “He blocks me off, completely”

Suguru looks at him, in silence. 

“You must be dying on the inside,” He laughs. “Gojo Satoru, finally ignored” 

Satoru punches his shoulder, shoving him to the side. Suguru punches his back and they pull at each other for a bit, like the dignified sorcerers they are. Just like that, the tight ball of unease lifts from Satoru’s belly, and he goes about the rest of the day with a lightness in his steps.

-

The question remains unanswered, though. Itadori keeps his distance, but his eyes are always following Suguru and if Satoru is sitting really close to Suguru, (which is most times) Itadori is suddenly there. Like a guard dog, or something. 

Satoru can’t help but make fun of him, really.

“He’s not gonna eat me, you know? Suguru only eats curses” Satoru makes a face. “Gross,” He adds.

Itadori is stiff beside him, looking like a deer caught in the headlights. Suguru slaps Satoru upside the head and he almost chokes on his fluffy donut. His shades slip past his nose.

“Not as gross as when you leave your stupid, half-finished candies in my uniform pocket!” He says.

“That was one time, Suguru! One time!”  Satoru defends, pushing his shades back up.

“Or when you stick gum under my desk, just to be an ass,” Suguru stresses.

“Oh come on, that was funny” Satoru laughs, remembering Suguru’s look of disgust when his hands came out all sticky.

“Why do I put up with you?” Suguru sighs.

“It’s ‘cause you love me~” Satoru says, skipping ahead and pushing Suguru on his way, intentionally.

“Yeah, yeah” Suguru waves him off. 

It takes a few seconds for him to realize the very obvious handprint of sugar dust on his shoulder.

“Satoru, you little shit!” 

Satoru turns to see him give chase, and as they engage in a weird run around the street, he hopes Itadori gets it. That Suguru is his best friend, and that there is no way in hell he’d be hurting someone undeserving, much less Satoru himself.

Judging by the look of confusion and amazement on Itadori’s face, he thinks it gets across

Chapter Text

On the fifth mission together, Satoru is more or less anticipating how it's gonna go.

For the most part, it's pretty much the same as the others. The weird silence, the restlessness in Itadori's bones, the jokes Satoru makes, falling flat between them.

Although, sometimes, Itadori looks at him strangely when he makes a dumb joke. He looks almost fond. It's gone, before Satoru can catch it properly, because Itadori always averts his gaze from him.

Ah.

That's right.

Itadori Yuji won't look him in the eye.

What he doesn't anticipate, though, is the mission being mistakenly ranked as a first grade. They encounter a special grade, instead. A strange thing, with a humanoid shape and mismatched patches sewn onto its body. It doesn't talk, but it laughs.

A lot. It’s a disturbing sound.

Satoru isn’t too worried about it, though. It doesn’t have the ability to overpower him on its own. The thing tries, though. That alone, tells him it’s not very smart.

Maybe that’s why he goes easy on it. He doesn't put much of an effort. He's confident, and his guard is loose. Which is why it manages to get one on him. Just once. It's not even a full blown hit, more like a graze, but it's enough to wake him up.

Just in time to have Itadori blow past him, like an enraged bull, straight for the curse. Satoru follows him with his eyes.

Itadori sees red.

The curse laughs, and it's eyes look gleeful. The mouth is open wide, grotesquely pleased with having pressed the right buttons. That in itself, is not strange at all.

The strange one is Itadori, and that desperate look in his eyes. There's nothing of the usual calm and determination that he holds in a fight. There's no level headed-ness in the way he attacks. He's relentless, and the more he gets pushed back, the more he becomes enraged.

He almost gets his leg sliced off by the curse in the process.

"Itadori!" Satoru calls, but he's not being acknowledged.

The kid is almost blind to his surroundings, led by whatever triggered this rage. He gets a few good hits on the curse before it gets another one on him. But he's sloppy in his desperation, and it's precisely why he can't finish it off despite the impressive strength behind his attacks.

Satoru can't attack it either, with Itadori in his line of vision.

"Oi! Kid!" He tries, but he’s ignored in favor of Itadori launching at the curse from the side, like a lunatic.

Seriously, what’s with him?!

All he can do is watch, as Itadori forgoes his cursed technique to fucking punch the curse in the face. He hits it, again and again and again, until his fists become raw and his cursed energy is wasting off him in waves. He looks almost mad.

“Itadori Yuji!” Satoru calls him, louder, and he notices the moment Itadori falters, perks up, only for a second. “Don’t just play with it. Let’s finish him off, yeah?”

Itadori’s fists are still working, and Satoru is inclined to think he didn’t reach him, after all. But then he jumps back, heaving and sweating. He looks at Satoru, and it’s hard to tell what’s going on inside his head. There’s confusion in his eyes, rage, still.

He looks torn about something.

In the end, though, he seems to pull himself together and steps back all the way, giving Satoru the necessary range for him to attack. So he uses it. His technique is not yet complete, Satoru is still working on that. But it is powerful, no doubt, and it blasts half the curse into oblivion. The other half of it is trying to regenerate and it has that going for it, at least. It heals pretty fast.

“Hey,” Satoru grins at Itadori, all teeth. “Show me that beautiful flash you got, hm?”

Itadori blinks at him for a moment, before it registers. Then his face clears with understanding.

“Ok” He says.

Already, he looks more present. Satoru waits for him to charge up, and the moment Itadori heads for the right side of the curse, Satoru takes the left.

It’s not really necessary, he could finish it off himself, or just leave Itadori to do it. Yet, they both land a synchronized attack, wordlessly aiming for each opposite side.

The thing never stood much of a chance, between the two of them, really.

It’s the thought that Satoru has as they watch the remains of the curse fade for good, that leaves a strange taste in his mouth.

The thought that Itadori is as strong as Satoru is.

That they’re the strongest.

 

It’s not just deja-vu.

-

The next time they have a mission with just the two of them, something strange happens. Well, good strange, he guesses. Everything’s been strange between them, since day one, so Satoru ran out of words to explain this confusing mess that’s him and Itadori Yuji.

Following Itadori’s outburst from that last mission two days ago, Satoru is a little bit on guard, waiting to see if it’s gonna repeat itself.

It doesn’t, though.

What does happen, instead, is Itadori working in tandem with him, without once standing in his way. Without a verbal agreement, they just seem to know where to place themselves, delivering swift, clean hits, to every curse standing in their way.

And they do it together.

As a combo, Satoru thinks, snickering to himself, as Itadori synchronizes with him, perfectly. Applying just the right amount of cursed energy besides Satoru’s own to pummel another curse into non-existence. There’s quite a few of them, this time. A mental hospital is the best recipe for curses, go figure. They tackle them one by one, and Itadori remains by his side, silent but fully present, unlike the times when they’re not fighting.

As the last of them goes down, Satoru smiles wide, all teeth, and looks at Itadori, letting his shades slip past his nose. He’s satisfied.

“Ah” Itadori says, and Satoru’s heart does a weird little stop at the sight of his smile, one that he hasn’t seen on him before.

“Just like I’d thought. Fighting by your side is so much fun, sensei. I’ve always wanted to do that”

He doesn’t look at Satoru as he says it, though.

He’s somewhere in his memories, addressing a Gojo Satoru that doesn’t yet exist.

Satoru frowns, conflicted between feeling good about this whole thing, and wanting to slap Itadori for his wistfulness. He doesn’t correct him on the slip, though.

“Yeah. I like it too” He says instead, and Itadori looks at him, a little surprised, before allowing a fond smile to sketch on his lips. His scar pulls to the side and it makes it look a little crooked.

Satoru likes it.

It is a lucky day because they also gain more information about the rope, and things aren’t as strained between them. Satoru feels it in the way Itadori smiles at his jokes on the way back, albeit still not the right kind of smile, he thinks.

He wouldn’t mind another day like this one.

-

Satoru dozes off, because he can. He's been sitting here for too long, and he's bored.

Itadori and Suguru are quiet and broody, for some reason. It's probably that ever growing tension between them. It’s been going on for every other mission that Suguru joins them for, and this would be the third.

Satoru really should address that.

Maybe.

He's not sure he wants to know.

So he naps, but his senses stay alert, as always. He feels their cursed energy as they move around, so even if his eyes are closed, Satoru can overall tell what they might be doing. Itadori had kept his distance from both of them, always sitting at least four meters apart from Suguru, to the point it seemed ridiculous. As for Suguru, he’s been eyeing Itadori every now and then, as if persistently asking that silent question.

For all his frowning and avoidance, Itadori hasn’t said a word to Satoru about Suguru.

He has no clue what his problem is.

Eventually, there’s Suguru’s energy, getting near. Satoru can feel him closing the distance. Until there’s Itadori’s energy, fast and urgent, coming right between him and Suguru.

He almost reeks of fear and trepidation.

“Don’t!-“ Itadori starts. “Don’t- touch him. Please,” He says, a strain in his voice that borders on painful.

What.

Satoru opens his eyes, looking up. Itadori’s back is to him, blocking Suguru from view. They are caught in a weird stare down.

“Itadori” Suguru says, cautious. “Look, I don’t know what assumptions you made about me. But I wouldn’t hurt Satoru. He’s my best friend” Suguru says, ever the voice of reason. His tone is patient and kind.

Satoru frowns, watching Itadori’s back shift uncomfortably. He’s rigid, looking like he’s restraining himself.

“I know that,” He says. Then shakes his head. “Actually, I don’t know anything about you, except that you look exactly like the man who sealed Gojo-Sensei and the one who hurt the people I care about the most”

He sounds torn and confused, and it’s all Satoru can do to process the words coming out his mouth.

Is that what it was?

Did Suguru- in the future?… His heart speeds up with dread.

Itadori continues, “When I see you, I just-“

“I trigger you into wanting to protect him” Suguru finishes for him.

Satoru wants to laugh, but he doesn’t. He’s still processing.

“I’m sorry” Itadori says, sounding guilty and still very much confused and rather like a scared animal.

“Don’t be. I’d probably act the same if I were in your place”

Itadori laughs. “I know he doesn’t need me for that. Or anyone for that matter. But I-“

“You want him to be safe”

“I already failed him once, I don’t- I don’t know if I can stand through it happening again, I don’t know if- why I am telling you this,” Itadori trails off on a sigh.

His posture is still rigid.

Suguru’s energy feels calm in comparison to Itadori’s jumble of nerves and emotion that he’s trying to reign in. Satoru is at a loss for what to do with this boy. He holds all these secrets about him in the palms of his hands and he won’t give anything to Satoru.

Itadori Yuji knows him.

He knows him so much better than he lets on, and Satoru doesn’t know a thing about him. About what he is really like. Itadori is always by his side, because he has to be. Because they go on missions, because he’s desperate to find leads, because he’s hurt and jaded, and whatever he was like before coming here, he’s not showing himself.

Itadori Yuji is running himself dry, in attempts to save Satoru from the prison realm and yet he won’t even fucking look at him when he’s standing right here! Instead, he tells Suguru all these things that he’d out to tell Satoru himself!

Satoru is beyond pissed.

But looking at him from where he stands, the sight of his tired back and the nervous twitch of his hands, Satoru can’t bring himself to yell at him. He can’t bring himself to shake Itadori and demand answers. Even though he has so many questions and they keep growing by the day.

He knows if he indulges himself in his emotions right now, he’ll just spook him further, and Itadori will likely put even more of a distance between them.

And that’s the problem, isn’t it?

The distance.

Why go to such lengths to protect Satoru, if he’s not going to let him in?

What’s up with that?

“Itadori” Suguru says, and Satoru snaps out of his own trail of thought.

“Tell me this. Have we met?”

Itadori takes a frustratingly long time to answer. “Yes. And no” He says, as if that makes any sense at all.

Suguru watches him silently for a few moments. “I see” He says it as if it makes sense for him.

Satoru is tired of their cryptic bullshit. Besides, he thinks, cryptic doesn’t suit Itadori Yuji at all.

-

The whole onslaught of vague information puts Satoru on a mission. Not a curse mission.

A ‘Find out what the deal with Itadori is’, kind of mission. He’s done being in the dark, weird time travel theories be damned! He needs answers! So far, Itadori had fed him scraps, like an unwilling stranger on the street. Scraps that only made him all the more hungrier. So much so, that now he’s positively starving to know.

Not about his goddamn future.

He wants to know about Itadori Yuji. He wants to learn about him, find what makes him tick, find out if he can smile other than the sad, guilty smiles that Satoru sometimes sees him sketch across his pretty mouth. He wants to know how Itadori got those scars that don’t suit him but also do, in a strange kind of way. He wants to know why his hair is pink, and how he and Satoru met in the future.

There’s so many things he wants to find out about him.

If only Itadori would look at him, for once.

Satoru is right here, isn’t he?

He’s real, and much more tangible than a future version of himself trapped in a fucking cube!

If Itadori Yuji won’t face him, then Satoru will.

Chapter Text

So far, the time they spent together has been limited to missions, and the few hours they had left, to search for the black rope at the end of each work shift. Itadori would always leave Satoru’s side once they got back to the school, without offering anything more than a ‘Thank you for your help today’ or ‘Have a good night, senpai’.

Besides, Satoru himself had given him a wide berth. He might like to bother people until they get sick of him on a regular basis, but it’s different with Itadori. Things are just different with him, and Satoru is not sure where they’re standing.

That’s why, he’s going to find out.

Because Itadori is an avoidant little shit, Satoru takes it upon himself to bump into him as often as he can, between their missions. Sometimes, days pass without going on one, so he has the time for this, really. He’s got time to observe Itadori interact with other people, and notice the subtle differences from when he does with Satoru himself.

Which is why, new things stand out to him.

Like the way he doesn’t spook when Shoko heals him, and how he talks easily with her. Like the way he seems comfortable and curious around Haibara’s easy going nature, (not that it’s hard to do that) or the way he seems to really respect Yaga.

What stands out more, though, is his interactions with Nanami. Itadori looks at Nanami with the same guilt he reserves for the cube, and it irks Satoru to no end. It irks him, the way Nanami is patient with Itadori and sometimes looks fondly at him as if he knows him already. Even more so, when Nanami puts his hand on top of Itadori’s head, one time, and Itadori not only allows him, but leans into it.

Naturally, Satoru can’t help but be petty when faced with these kinds of feelings.

So he, more or less, intentionally makes Nanami’s day harder by pranking the shit out of him. Suguru looks at him with knowing eyes by the end of that day, and an ever suffering stare that says he’s being immature.

Satoru tries to be level-headed about this but he kind of fails at it.

-

He finds Itadori during breakfast, already sitting with Nanami and Haibara and Satoru insinuates himself in the equation, sitting closer to Itadori than usual. Itadori doesn’t comment on it.

“Good morning, senpai” He says, too awake for Satoru’s taste.

Satoru is not a morning person.

“‘S too early,” He complains, purposefully slumping into the bench, leaning into Itadori to test his reaction.

He stiffens a little but he doesn’t push Satoru away.

“Want some coffee? With plenty of sugar,” Itadori tells him.

Satoru blinks at him, sleepy and cranky as he always is in the mornings. Somehow, though, Itadori’s face is nice to look at in the morning, and it’s even nicer when he’s not ignoring Satoru and instead offers him coffee. Coffee that Itadori knows he doesn’t drink unless it’s got tons of sugar.

Huh.

He files that little thing to his little treasure pile of Itadori facts.

“Yeah” Satoru tells him, squinty eyed.

Itadori pours it in a cup with paw print patterns, and adds half the sugar cubes lying about.

“That’s a lot of sugar,” Haibara whistles.

“You’ll die of diabetes, if nothing else” Nanami says, deadpan.

Satoru sticks out his tongue at him and makes rude noises.

Itadori is still stiff beside him, his shoulder and thigh warming Satoru up in the chill of the kitchen. But he’s not uncomfortable, Satoru notices. Such a subtle difference, and he’s not even sure how he can tell, but Itadori is not actually put off by Satoru standing in his personal space.

He’s just- always reluctant to let it happen, for some reason.

They have breakfast in silence, mostly. Haibara makes jokes sometimes and Nanami always ruins the jokes, and Itadori is a comforting presence beside him.

Satoru falls asleep sometime in the middle of sipping coffee, slumped so far back that he’s close to falling under the table.

Itadori’s little laugh is totally worth it, though.

-

Satoru decides to push a little more.

He corners Itadori in the back seat of the car while on another mission with him and Suguru, and sits between the two of them. He purposely keeps his shades in his pocket and halfway through the road, slumps back into his seat, groaning.

He does it until Suguru snaps at him.

“Seriously, what’s wrong with you?”

He’s not expecting Itadori to answer, though.

“Senpai, your eyes?”

“Whuh?” Satoru says smartly.

Itadori gestures vaguely. “You get tired without a blindfold, no?”

Satoru looks at him, taking in the fact that Itadori pays attention to these things.

“Yeah,” He says, trailing off.

Satoru is quiet for a couple of minutes, closing his eyes so the onslaught of information doesn’t tire him out before they even begin the mission. For some reason, he doesn’t want to take out his shades just yet.

“Did you really forget them?” Suguru asks, sounding rightfully suspicious. Satoru never does, after all.

“Shut up, Suguru” He grumbles.

Itadori frowns, looking like he wants to say something but hesitating to do so.

Satoru gets an idea.

A stupid idea.

Which is why it’s brilliant, he thinks.

“Itadori. Lend me your jacket?” He asks and Itadori looks at him. They actually make eye contact for a quick second.

“Uh, sure” He says, and takes it off.

Satoru takes his own jacket off, slipping in the sleeves of Itadori’s uniform. It’s really short on him but also much larger.

It smells like him.

“It’s just until we get there. Put mine on if you’re cold” He explains, and slumps back into his seat, content to leave Suguru gaping at him, and Itadori to give him an unreadable look, as always.

Satoru pulls the hood over his eyes and sleeps.

-

All these little things that Itadori allows him to get away with, only serve to tickle Satoru’s curiosity even more.

He’s getting somewhere, he knows.

He just needs to push more. Push until Itadori gives in and comes out of that self-inflicted prison.

Itadori is some sort of martyr, and Satoru never sympathized with those types before, but hell if he’s gonna let this one slip past him. There has to be more to Itadori, he’s certain of it. It’s right there, behind his eyes, hidden in the soft folds of his clothes, guarded by the cube that torments Satoru when he allows himself to think of it.

Gojo Satoru who knows Itadori is in there, keeping all the secrets, only skulls and bones to share them with.

He wonders if he’s gone mad, yet.

He wonders if he should be worried about Suguru. Satoru doesn’t believe for a second that Suguru would do such a thing.

Refuses to believe it.

Itadori had been vague but he didn’t actually accuse Suguru of sealing Satoru.

You look like him’

Itadori had said, sounding like he wanted to reject the very fact that Satoru’s best friend could look just like the man who sealed him. But he reacted too strongly to Suguru, for it to be just a mistake.

Satoru groans in frustration, his thoughts chasing one another in circles. It’s not like him to dwell on things too much.

Leave it to Itadori Yuji to mess with his head.

-

It's past eleven as Satoru wanders the school grounds, having returned from a mission with Suguru. He's not tired, sleep doesn't come, so he's considering just lounging around, maybe enjoying the souvenirs he got this time.

He passes by the kitchen on his way and the lights are off but he can hear voices.

He recognizes Itadori's cursed energy before he sees him. It's dark, but Satoru can make out his slumped figure just fine, head against his arm on the table, as he rolls the cube in his hand, on top of the wood surface.

He's speaking quietly, just for himself.

"-Sensei" There’s a long pause, like he isn’t going to continue that thread of thought.

"Are you lonely?"

What a funny question, Satoru thinks.

"Yaga-san said the prison realm is just darkness, and there's nothing else in there. No time, no cursed energy. Nothing to do but be with your own thoughts…" His fingers skim over the cube, and the blue of its eyes glow in the darkness.

"Just bear with it a little longer, yeah? I promise I'm getting you out. You'll be back in no time, Sensei. Then we can go eat kikkufuku again, and Fushiguro can glare at us both, for worrying him to death and, Kugisaki will get mad- " His breath hitches, and when he speaks again, it almost sounds like he's crying.

Oh fuck, he doesn’t want to hear this.

"Sensei, Kugisaki is not- and Nanamin- "

He makes a keening sound, a thing that goes straight to Satoru's heart.

"…Sensei, I don't know what I'm doing," Itadori gulps, like there's a knot in his throat he's swallowing. Like he's been holding on to so many things for so long, never letting them out.

"I miss you," He tells Gojo Satoru, the one in the cube.

It sounds intimate, and Satoru almost feels bad for hearing it.

But it's about him.

A Satoru that Itadori met in the future. A Gojo Satoru that actually knows Itadori, one that Itadori trusts.

What the heck?!

There's silence that goes one for minutes. Then, another voice. One he can't recognize.

“Do you wish to take his place, brat?”

It's the cursed energy that Satoru recognizes, instead. So that can only be Ryomen Sukuna, he knows.

Itadori stares at the prison realm, as if willing it to open so it can swallow him whole.

“I would have done it long ago if I could,” He says, sounding beyond tired, but there’s no hesitation in his voice.

“Go ahead, unseal him" The king of curses sounds delighted. "I’ve been bored to death in this timeline, anyway. I’ll rip your precious sensei to shreds, the moment he steps out of that thing” Sukuna's eyes look all wrong on Itadori’s cheeks, filled with malice, and the sick pleasure of his own fantasies.

His mouth is wide, like a gaping, black hole.

It’s such a strange contrast with Itadori’s gentle nature that he gets whiplash.

Itadori’s voice is deadly calm when he does speak.

“As if I’d let you”

“Oh, please. You can’t protect anyone, much less the six eyes. That sorcerer is destined for ruin, just like you are- I’ll be laughing on his corpse one day, and you know the best part?” Sukuna pauses for effect, a delirious satisfaction in his voice.

“It’ll be your hands that killed him!” He laughs, euphoric, downright unhinged.

There is a loud clapping sound and the laughter stops abruptly.

Satoru blinks, only to realize Itadori had slapped himself, hard.

He says nothing for a long time, and Satoru doesn’t breathe, back against the wall.

One little exchange of words with a cube and a curse, and Itadori had talked about him like the present Satoru doesn’t even exist in the outside world.

What is he to do with all of that?

“It’ll be fine” Itadori is saying, with only curses by his side.

 

It’ll be fine, Sensei”

-

In the wake of the whole thing with Itadori and Sukuna, Satoru has the strangest thought. Unsuited, for the gravity of the situation but there, nonetheless.

He imagines it for a second, and then the thought just won’t leave him.

Does Itadori sleep with the cube?

It’s such an irrelevant thing to consider but he can’t help it.

He carries it around all day, doesn’t he?

It’s all he can see when he closes his eyes. Itadori, under the blankets, with that sad face that bothers the shit out of him, curled up around that cursed cube.

He wonders if that Gojo Satoru can hear him.

-

Maybe it’s because of the weird thoughts he entertained in the darkness of his own room, but Satoru starts to pay more attention to moments like these.

Itadori talking with the cube.

It does strange things to Satoru, just the image of him doing that, at night, alone, in the dark.

Demons do feel closer at night, the ones that stick with you. And Itadori must have a lot of them, king of curses aside. Satoru feels like everytime he grasps the thread of Itadori Yuji’s existence, it only unravels further and further in his hand, until he loses sight of it.

Satoru is not an insomniac but Itadori might just be close to one. Because he does find him milling around at night, in the halls, or the garden, keeping company to a man that is not even there.

And that’s it, Satoru realizes.

Itadori Yuji doesn’t sleep at night, because he’s keeping Gojo Satoru company in the prison realm. Even if he has no guarantee that Gojo can hear him, in there.

Satoru huffs a laugh at the very notion of it.

At the same time, it just adds to his already tormented mind. Itadori would be the first to lead him on like this, without even trying to do so. Satoru would hate him for it if not for the fact that he’s too busy trying to figure him out.

True to his theory, Itadori does talk to the cube when he’s alone.

He talks about irrelevant things, everything he did that day, makes it sound like he went on trips instead of missions. He talks about Nanami a lot, and sometimes Ieri. He mentions Haibara a few times.

It’s the most Satoru has heard him talk until now, really.

He talks of all the little things.

But he never talks about himself.

And sometimes, he’d say strange things, like, “I ruined the uniform, sorry, Sensei”

Satoru blinks.

Oh, that makes sense, doesn’t it?

And things like, “I’ll learn baking when you’re coming back, alright?”

Sukuna’s voice comes after that, saying nasty things, “Look at you, can you be any more pathetic than this?”

And, “He can’t hear you, you know? The only one who can is me, and that’s just too good!”

He would laugh, then, all too pleased with himself.

Satoru doesn’t feel bad about it, catching Itadori’s drifting conversations.

He feels pissed.

All this drama is tiring him out, so he corners Itadori eventually, because it has to get done. There’s just no other way around it, not unless he wants to be a snooping bastard for the rest of his life.

Satoru is shameless on a good day, but he has some dignity.

Chapter Text


They are finishing a mission, just him and Itadori. The kid goes and takes off his uniform before fighting, folding it in a corner of the abandoned school building that they’re hunting curses in.

Satoru gives him the stink eye.

Itadori frowns at him when he notices but doesn’t ask.

He fights alongside Satoru, that thing they’re doing now. 

Their own thing, and he likes it. 

He notices how Itadori always looks back at him, as if checking he’s still there, but inevitably turns his gaze away if Satoru tries to chase it.

He’s struck silly, when Itadori puts his hand in front of Satoru’s naked eyes, when the gooey splatter of a particularly nasty curse spreads all around them.

Satoru teases him a little but Itadori doesn’t rise to the bait, of course he doesn’t.

On the way back, Itadori is checking the uniform for new rips, and Satoru looks at him, wanting to take him apart right then, and there.

Show me!

He wants to yell.

Show me who you are.

Because so far, Satoru had only seen Itadori as if from behind a screen. Just the dramatic parts of their lives, the action, the dirty job of a sorcerer, the gulping back of secrets and pain.

Itadori looks tired and dead on his feet when they slide into the car, and he dozes off. Everytime his head slips on Satoru’s shoulder though, he jolts awake and pulls himself up, apologizing.

The fourth time he does it, Satoru yells at him.

“Just sleep, will you!?” And he pushes Itadori back down on his shoulder, grumbling under his breath.

Itadori is so stiff, Satoru wants to slap him. But he softens quickly from sleep, and Satoru doesn’t wake him until they arrive back at the school.

-

“Itadori” He calls, when the car stops beside the gate. 

It’s not even loud or very clear, because if Satoru is being honest, he wouldn’t mind if they just took another drive, for no reason other than to let him sleep a little longer.

Itadori springs awake, though, like the hounds of hell are licking at his feet.

Like he always sleeps with one eye open.

The naked look he gives Satoru, in the split second between the haze of sleep and awareness is clear, and Satoru grasps it like a vulture. 

A momentary shock of seeing Satoru beside him, and the obvious relief to do so.

He flashes back to the first day Itadori materialized in their school, when he had that same look, and Satoru didn’t understand what it meant and why it was directed at him.

He didn’t plan on it the night before or something, but he makes a split second decision the moment Itadori reigns in his expression, pulling back any hint of intimacy from his eyes.

"Itadori, I gotta ask. Did something bad happen between you and me? In the future?"

Itadori stiffens, frowns.

"What? No, why wo- “

"Because you're being super obvious about it. You can't tell me I'm imagining this weird ass tension between us. Spill!" Satoru demands.

Itadori freezes but he finally, finally, looks at Satoru. Not for long, just a few seconds of his eyes searching for something- before he looks away again.

Satoru wants to kick him.

"Sorry. If I made you uncomfortable. Nothing went on. Sensei is- " He trails off, shifting. "We got along really well. We never had an argument" 

Satoru studies him closely but he can't pinpoint a lie. Huh.

Something is happening, though.

If they got along so well, then why is Itadori treating him like a complete stranger?

Why is he avoiding his eyes all the time?

"You're not lying, but you're omitting something, aren't you?~"

"What?"

"Don't play dumb, Itadori. This makes no sense. If we got along like you said, then why are you so skittish around me?"

"I'm not-"

"Buuulshit" Satoru calls, leaning into Itadori's personal space. Their noses are almost touching. 

"Be honest, Yuji," He asks him quietly.

Itadori blinks at the use of his name, before leaning back a little.

The look on his face is reserved, and cautious.

Satoru can't make anything of it.

"I'm sorry, Senpai. There really isn't anything going on. I'm just- not in a good place, at the moment. I really don’t mean to make things awkward-”

"Then look at me, will you?" Satoru takes off his shades, closing in on Itadori again, but considerably less calm. 

“Stop touching that cube all the time, talking with it, like it’s a goddamn person. I’m right here, aren’t I? I am Gojo Satoru, am I not?!”

Itadori’s mouth opens, in time with his face. His eyebrows twitch until they morph into something painful. 

He doesn’t say anything, though. Just scrunches his eyes shut, and that’s all the confirmation Satoru needs.

“God, you’re so frustrating!” He shouts, before turning to the manager.

“Get out” He tells him.

“Eh? But Gojo-san, this is my-“ 

“Get out, Ijichi!”

Satoru bullies him into it, because he can. 

“Gojo-san, you’re so unfair” Ijichi does opens the door though, grumbling under his breath. “See if I drive you again”

Satoru waits for the door to close and holds onto Itadori’s hood when he tries to bolt for it.

“You stay!” He demands.

“Senpai-“

“It’s Satoru, ok? Not sensei, or senpai, not san, or whatever have you. If you’re gonna act all moony over me when I’m not looking, at least use my name, goddamn it!”

“Why-“ Itadori gulps, looking like a deer caught in the headlights.

“Come on, Itadori. Let’s stop this silly game, hm? Tell me what your deal is. I think I should know, given you’re here because of me, aren’t you?”

Itadori shakes his head, uncooperative, still too guarded!

Satoru catches him by the back of his head, forcing eye contact to stick between them.

“Yes, you are. You’re here, in my past, with my future self in your fucking pocket, talking to him as if he can fucking hear you! As if he can give you any kind of reassurance that things will be fine, when he’s just a man in a fucking cube!”

“I- don’t- “

“Don’t cry, Itadori, not unless you’re staying here. Show me! Show me what the hell you’ve been keeping from me all this time! Why are you avoiding me?!”

“..Because it fucking hurts!” Itadori shouts, his eyes scrunching up in pain.

“It fucking hurts, seeing you here, surrounded by people when- when he’s trapped in there, and I want nothing more than to get him out and fix things, but I fucking can’t! I can’t fix anything, and having you beside me these past few weeks, doing missions together like we’re back in school all over again, and having good things- I can’t!”

Itadori does cry then, big, fat tears rolling down his tired eyes, gulping down painful knots and refusing to make a sound.

“That’s it,” Satoru says, staring him in the eyes. “That’s right, Itadori. You need to cry about these things. Mourn them, if you have to. But stop holding in all that”

Sensei” Itadori calls him, and it’s the saddest thing Satoru’s heard. 

This kid lost too much in such a short life, even for a sorcerer.

“I’m here, Yuji” Satoru tells him, because he will be the Satoru Itadori Yuji needs, even if it’s too early.

Itadori hiccups, his eyes blurry with tears, and the sounds he makes are nothing but painful. 

He’s still holding himself back.

Cry, Yuji” Satoru pulls his head into his collarbone, and it’s probably all the push Itadori needs.

He cries like a kid. 

The hiccups he makes sound like he’s surprised with himself, and confused but he can’t stop it. His body lifts with the effort to contain himself.

Sens- “ He cuts off abruptly.

“That’s it, Itadori” Satoru encourages, squeezing his neck, dropping his chin in his hair. 

“Sensei is here,” Satoru says, quiet and comforting.

It only makes Itadori cry harder, and Satoru is pretty sure Ijichi could hear it if he stuck around. 

He nuzzles Itadori’s hair, whispering silly little things that only aid his crying.

There you are,” Satoru tells him, smiling a little. “That’s my Yuji, isn’t it? All too good”

He presses his thumb into Itadori’s neck, feeling his frantic pulse. 

He’s all too warm.

“Sadness doesn’t really suit you, Itadori. Get it out of your system, hm?”

Itadori pulls at Satoru’s uniform, shaking his head, wetting his skin with snot and tears, mouthing half words that don’t quite make it out between his sobs.

“Yes, I know, sensei is embarrassing you. Doesn’t he always?~” Satoru jokes but knowing him, he’s probably always eager to tease Itadori and press his buttons, even at 28 years of age.

How could he resist, really?

He rubs Itadori’s back, because it shakes under his hand.

“Good boy, Yuji,” Satoru tells him, and Itadori just cries.

-

Yuji is not keeping track of how long they’ve been standing here, in the backseat, the sounds of his crying, and the slow tick of the car’s engine the only sounds as Satoru holds him still, refusing to let go. 

Satoru wants him to cry it all out.

He’s mortified, but he didn’t even realize he needed this until he let it happen.

Yuji didn’t even realize how much he wanted to get close to this Satoru, until he felt the softness of his skin under his wet cheek. Until he learned the smell of him, and he smells exactly like Gojo-Sensei. 

Because he is Gojo-sensei, but younger.

He’s just as bratty and spoiled, just as endearing to Yuji as the future version he knows. It had been so hard to stay away from him, and now that Satoru cornered him, Yuji’s walls part like the red sea, letting him in, just like that.

He’s never been able to deny Gojo Satoru things, has he?

Satoru whispers silly things, things that pull at Yuji’s heartstrings, with that voice that belongs to his Sensei, with his fingers touching Yuji, cold and comforting against his heated skin.

Yuji allows himself this moment.

Just this once, to be weak and give in to the urge of taking comfort in Satoru’s presence.

He heaves a trembling sigh, feeling his body release a great amount of tension. It’s like he’s just hatched from an egg, and the only thing keeping him aware of his existence in this world is Satoru’s grounding hand against his nape.

“There you are,” Satoru tells him, smiling in his hair. “That’s my Yuji, isn’t it? All too good”

His voice is soft, in a way Yuji never heard before. It’s strange, to know that his sensei can sound like this, for him. Yuji shouldn’t, but he takes it. He takes it and puts it away, greedily, like a starved little creature tasting the first hours of its life.

Yuji is not good. 

He’s not, but he wants to be good for Gojo Satoru.

It’s a thing inside him that’s been growing, everytime Gojo-Sensei gave him his attention, everytime he praised Yuji, making him warm and fuzzy on the inside.

“Sadness doesn’t really suit you, Itadori. Get it out of your system, hm?”

Yuji shakes his head, wanting to deny it. He wants to say he’s not as messed up as he feels, but he is, isn’t he? He’s all over the place, running himself dry, because it’s the only thing he can do.

It’s the only way to move forward, in a world without Sensei, without Kugisaki and Nanamin- the thought of them hurts so bad he wants to heave!

What will he tell Gojo-Sensei when he comes back? 

I let them die, sorry.

It’s my fault, I’m sorry I’m a murderer.

I’m sorry I can’t save anyone!

Please don’t hate me.

He tries to say things, to say he’s sorry, to plead with Satoru to- to what, he doesn’t know. He can’t ask him for forgiveness.

Satoru’s voice is playful as he speaks in Yuji’ hair, thumb brushing over his pulse. 

“Yes, I know, sensei is embarrassing you. Doesn’t he always?~” 

Yuji would take that any day, over the shame that swallows him whole.

He’s afraid of facing Gojo Satoru again.

-

Eventually, Itadori’s body stills, all the tension and tears having been wrung out of him, and he slumps against Satoru, quiet, and refusing to raise his head.

“Better?” Satoru asks him, and Itadori nods in his shoulder, his breath warm over Satoru’s uniform.

Satoru gives him another minute or two.

Ijichi knocks on the car window a bit later, tentatively, dreading Satoru’s reaction. 

Satoru opens the window. He’s rarely sorry for bullying Ijichi, even though he kinda likes the guy. But he’s just so easy to torment.

“Is- is he ok?” Ijichi asks, glancing at Itadori.

“We’re good now~” Satoru tells him, but he doesn’t attempt to move him.

Itadori springs up, however, like he just realized where he is.

“I’m so sorry, Ijichi-san! I’m ok, thank you for letting us use your car” He scrambles out the door as he says this, bowing to Ijichi like a frantic salesman.

“It’s ok, Itadori-kun, I’m glad you’re ok now” Ijichi smiles at him, and Satoru is reminded that there’s probably very few people in this world that dislike Itadori Yuji.

Possibly just those shitty elders.

“Ijichi, expect me to smack you sometime soon,” Satoru tells him, as he closes the door behind himself.

“Ehh!? Why?!”

Satoru pulls Itadori away by the shoulders, giving Ijichi his annoying grin as he goes.

He doesn’t have to tell Ijichi that he would have kept Itadori standing right there, for as long as it would happen, if they weren’t in somebody’s work car.

“But he was super nice to us, you’re abusing his trust again, Sens- “ Itadori says before he blinks, remembering himself.

“Senpai” He corrects.

Satoru groans. 

He’s gonna have to work on that, still.

“Don’t worry about it, Itadori. Let’s get you something to eat, hm? You look like a dehydrated mummy” 

Itadori scrunches his nose, and Satoru is delighted at the little reaction, because it’s new.

He’s working on it.

-

They get dinner and Satoru is amused, with the way Itadori keeps glancing up at him every now and then as he eats, before looking away quickly.

“Something on my face?~” Satoru asks him, leaning his head on his palm, elbow on the table.

Itadori swallows, almost chokes. “No!” He says, too sudden.

Satoru laughs, light heartedly. “Take it easy, kid”

He coughs for a minute, before he pulls it together.

“You know I’m older than you, actually?” Itadori tells him, wiping little teardrops from the corners of his eyes.

“What? Lies!” Satoru says, but Itadori only shrugs.

“I’m not actually in my second year. The whole thing- with Sensei, happened more than two years ago” Itadori trails off, zoning out, and Satoru wants to keep him here, in the present. 

Past. Whatever.

“So you’re-?” He asks, and Itadori blinks at him.

“I’m eighteen” He says, eyes wide and innocent.

“Wha- seriously? That means- you’re two years older than me” Satoru concludes.

“Uh, yeah?”

“Why’d you lie about it, then?” He wants to know.

“It seemed more credible, back then. Easier to explain than..”

“I see” Satoru hums, watching him blatantly, until Itadori looks away. 

He wonders if Itadori would tell him what happened in those years between school, and his time here. 

Not any time soon, probably.

“Aha! No more senpai!” Satoru realizes, lighting up. Then he grins, a toothy smile.

“It’s Satoru for you, Yuji~”

Itadori’s mouth opens, a noodle slipping past his lips to fall back into his soup.

“..Satoru-san?” He says, testing.

“No san. I hate the san!” Satoru grumbles.

Itadori smiles at him, a little crooked. 

Satoru” He says, and it’s probably the tone of his voice, gentle, and a little fond, that makes Satoru’s insides burn pleasantly. Or it could be the sudden notion that he’s a bit older than Satoru.

Itadori has a really nice voice.

-

It’s the same voice that keeps the older Gojo Satoru company, whatever dimension he’s stuck in, inside the prison realm.

That voice tells him things that are probably only for his future self to know.

Satoru only hopes the bastard can hear them! 

Over the next couple of days, Satoru notices the little changes. Subtle, but there, nonetheless. Itadori doesn’t go all stiff anymore if Satoru touches him, he doesn’t act all shifty.

At least not around him. 

He’s still cautious on a good day, still a bit paranoid, like he’s been living in a fighting rink until he came here. 

But he lets Satoru see him, just a little bit. He gives him little smiles, which are not as sad anymore. He lets him get away with things, rolling his eyes but the look on him is fond, Satoru can see it. Itadori is still careful around him, though. Careful not to push in any way, as if he ever tried anything like that. He gives Satoru his space and doesn’t initiate any sort of contact unless Satoru does. He lets himself be dragged along for breakfast, and late night dinners, after an exhausting mission.

Satoru loves those missions the most. 

It’s the perfect excuse, to get Itadori to look softer, forgetful, a little less on guard. And it’s on those nights, that Itadori gravitates a bit more towards Satoru, dozing off against him on the ride back. Or letting Satoru drag him close in the backseat, and in an unspoken agreement, pull Itadori’s head in his lap. 

He plays with his hair until he falls asleep.

Itadori calls him Gojo-Sensei, in those moments when he’s half asleep, and Satoru lets him have it.

Satoru takes what he can get, surprised at his own patience.

He’s never been one for patience, after all.

Chapter Text

Despite all these new things that weren’t there before, Satoru wants to learn more.

He still doesn’t know much about Itadori, but he thinks he’s been given permission to pry a little, now. Itadori is openly making conversation with him, as opposed to before, so he takes that as a yes.

Lately, they are being saddled with more missions though, and now that they have further leads on the rope, they have to get out there, and connect the dots in between missions as well.

So there isn’t much time to think of nice things, and indulge in silly activities.

On top of that, the elders keep calling for Itadori, testing different cursed objects that could react to him, in order to get him back into his own time.

It’s those hours when Itadori is with them, that Satoru gets all pissy and impatient, a weird buzz of something unsettling, tickling under his skin.

He shouldn’t get comfortable.

He should remember that Itadori doesn’t even belong to this timeline. That he needs to go back home.

A home where there isn’t much left, by the looks of it.

It’s precisely because of these reasons that Satoru stubbornly makes time for the things they don’t have time for.

Even if that means losing sleep.

Itadori is doing the same, though. He’s still a walking zombie so Satoru knows where to find him.

The rational part of him wishes Itadori would get some goddamn sleep.

The other is still in a daze at the fact that all that time is spent talking to the prison realm.

Predictably, Itadori is in the kitchen again, squinting his eyes against the light when Satoru turns it on.

“Se- Satoru…You’re still up?”

“Shouldn’t I be asking you the same thing? What are you doing?”

Itadori rubs at his left eye, where the skin underneath is red and soft.

“Ah. Can’t sleep, I guess? Happens pretty often,” He says, his other hand sliding the cube back in his pocket.

Satoru hums, before walking over to him.

“Stop rubbing it, you’re making it worse” He says, grabbing Itadori’s wrist to pull it away from his eye.

Itadori looks at him sleepily, not even reacting at the touch.

“Come with me,” Satoru tells him and drags him along.

Itadori follows him like a kid who woke up after a particularly bad nightmare, and Satoru doesn’t let go of his wrist.

He leads the way to his dorm room. When they get there, he leaves the door open as they go in, in case Itadori wants to flee or something.

He doesn’t.

Satoru turns on the lamp, and Itadori looks around, half asleep on his feet, probably not taking in much of what’s around him anyway.

“Sit. We’re watching a movie” Satoru pats the back of the couch, and goes to fumble with his movie collection. It’s starting to gather dust, really. He just hadn’t had the time for it.

“Ok” Itadori mumbles and crashes into a corner, pulling his feet up on the couch.

“Do you even like movies?” Satoru asks him, a few titles in hand.

Itadori blinks at him, coming back to himself. There’s an unreadable look in his eyes as he takes in the cases Satoru is holding.

For a moment, he’s not there at all.

“I do” He says then, smiling that sad smile again.

Is everything a bad reminder for him? Satoru thinks.

“Choose?” He asks instead.

Itadori looks at the titles, and Satoru wonders if he’s reading them at all, when his hand pulls one out from the stack.

“You like animation?” Satoru asks him, because from that pile of genres, Itadori chose Spirited Away.

“I read manga. Uh, used to. I guess”

“Oh”

Satoru reads them sometimes too. He just never managed to get Suguru or Shoko into them, and not having anyone to spoil plot points for takes some fun out of it.

It’s mostly why they wouldn’t watch movies with him either.

Satoru goes to sit on the couch after setting it up. He doesn’t leave much room between them, because he’s shameless like that and because Itadori allows it.

“Here” He says, throwing a blanket at his head.

“Oh” Itadori pulls it off, settles it in his lap. “Thanks”

Satoru presses play.

-

Halfway through the movie, Satoru is surprised Itadori is still awake, really. He’s not sure if he’s forcing himself to stay that way, or if he actually can’t sleep.

When Chihiro is helping the wounded dragon, Satoru can’t help it.

Out of habit, he says,

“You know, the guy is actually a river spirit-“

“Sensei, not the spoilers” Itadori says in this exasperated tone.

He makes a face.

It’s so sudden, and it sounds so different from his usual tone, that Satoru stops to blink at him.

Itadori opens his eyes.

“Ah. Sorry. I’m used to Sensei spoling plot points...” He trails off, looking at Satoru.

“So it seems,” Satoru says, a grin taking over his face. “How many did he spoil for you?” He asks him.

“Too many” Itadori scrunches his nose, and Satoru laughs.

“But you’re still watching them with him?”

“Well, yeah” He says, like it should be obvious that he does.

Satoru turns back to the screen.

He shouldn’t be surprised by the things Itadori gives him, but he still is.

It’s halfway through the movie that he looks back at Itadori again. He’s huddled under the blanket, knees up to his chest, somehow, still awake.

His eyes are slipping closed from time to time though, and he shakes himself every time it happens.

Satoru moves closer to him, stealing the warmth Itadori gives off, and half the blanket with it.

“Go to sleep. We can watch it properly next time” He says quietly.

Itadori mumbles something like a no, but he seems halfway done.

“Go to sleep” Satoru says again, and watches him give in to his tired eyes.

“Atta boy,” He whispers.

Satoru closes his eyes too, letting the drone of the tv on in the background. He’s gonna have a hell of a crick in the neck in the morning, but at least it’s gonna be worth it.

Itadori sleeps like the dead but wakes up at the crack of dawn.

Which is why when Satoru wakes up, he’s stretched out on the couch, by himself, the blanket over him and his shades on the desk.

So Itadori snuck out and didn’t wake him.

Satoru is not sure if he’s grateful or pissed about it.

He allows himself to sleep in a little, until Suguru comes to drag his ass off on their next mission.

Satoru misses the coziness of the couch, and the warmth of the blanket already.

It had a lingering scent to it, like Itadori was still there.

-

“So what do we have so far?” Yaga asks them a day later.

They’re in his office. Satoru, Itadori and Nanami.

“Some of the rumors we traced were false,” Nanami says.

“The one in Ueno is the best trail we have so far,” Itadori offers, marking another spot on the map.

“Itadori,” Nanami starts. “Have you tried connecting the ones from Yamaguchi and Ueno? I think there’s something we’re missing there”

“I did. See, here, the people we asked were kind of contradicting themselves, and so we checked Ueno too, since one of them let it slip past. We were right to do so. We haven’t been to Yamaguchi yet but I think it should be next”

“You think it might be there?” Yaga asks him, and Itadori nods.

“Might be” He says, a look on his face that says he’s afraid to hope.

“Right. Then, I’ll have you and Nanami go this time. I’m sending Satoru a bit further than your radar, and it’s not a mission where I want you exposing yourself”

“Ok,” Itadori says. “If that doesn’t interfere with your mission?” He asks Nanami.

“Kento offered, actually” Yaga supplies, and Itadori smiles at him.

“Thanks Nanamin”

What’s up with him using that nickname, anyway.

He says it in such a familiar way.

It’s fond and sad and it just rubs Satoru the wrong way for more than one reason.

“For nothing, Itadori. I only do what’s in my power” Nanami says. “Just don’t expect me to-“

“Ah” Itadori says, realizing something. “You’ve worked overtime. Sorry, I know you hate it” He winces.

Nanami blinks at him. Coughs slightly into his fist.

“That’s alright. You need all the help we can get”

“Thank you. I promise I’ll make the best of everything we got so far”

“That’s good and all” Yaga is saying. “But do get some rest sometime, Itadori. You look like hell”

Itadori scratches under his eye, a little self-conscious. “Ah. Is it really that bad?”

“Your bags have bags!” Yaga tells him.

Itadori laughs.

“I’ll try,” He says, and Satoru knows he’s lying.

They all know it.

Satoru is not gonna be around for a few days, so he won’t even be able to drag Itadori to the couch, and make him watch movies until he falls asleep.

Something occurs to him, then.

“Itadori. You got a phone?”

“Ah? Yeah. Surprisingly, it still works”

“Gimme your number,” Satoru says, throwing him his own phone.

Itadori fumbles to catch it. He looks at Satoru from the corner of his eye as he types it in.

“Here”

Satoru takes it back and grins.

“Don’t be a stranger” He tells Itadori, turning towards the door and waving a hand as he goes.

“Right” Itadori is saying, as Satoru closes the door behind him.

-

Satoru is restless during his solo mission, and even more impatient than usual.

He’s also distracted.

While he goes about dealing with the special grade, he keeps thinking of his phone in his pocket, and a silly text message he sent a few hours ago.

To which he didn’t get a reply.

It’s not like he’s self conscious or anything. It just irritates him, how Itadori can wring himself out for Satoru’s sake, (albeit the future him) and then go and act like they’re not the same person. Even now, he’s still treating Satoru differently. It’s always ‘Sensei this’ and ‘Sensei that’, with him. It’s never ‘you’, as if this Satoru is not a past version of himself, but a completely alternate one.

It pisses him off.

He’s on his third day of the solo mission, and he lasted long enough before he sent Itadori a text. He’s going back to the school in two more days, after he figures out who the fuck is exploiting all these cursed objects related to the mission at hand.

Itadori should’ve had time to check his phone, between his missions with Nanami, (Satoru is a little annoyed with that too) and all that sleeping he never does.

Maybe he is sleeping.

Yeah, right.

Satoru is tempted to call Nanami instead, and be a little shit about this whole thing but he doesn’t.

Instead, he tries to shrink the time he spends on this mission, narrowing it down to one more day instead of two. It’s just annoying that he has to spend the night in this place, and he’s also required to wait around for information before he can go kick ass and get it over with.

He’s never exorcised anything faster in his life.

-

miss me?~

(ô‿ô)

[message received]

all the tim- |

[deleted]

Yeah, I do|

[deleted]

is that a trick question, senpai?

[message sent]

-

Satoru sees the message only when he gets in the car for his ride back.

He’s tired, and irritated, and irrationally cranky about that answer.

Trick question, he says!

What trick question? That Itadori idiot wouldn’t know genuine interest if it hit him in the face! The guy probably sells himself short in a lot of aspects.

Satoru can bet he does.

He tries to nap on the way back but he’s restless, and so he proceeds to annoy the manager with stupid jokes and cocky remarks.

By the time he arrives, it’s evening, and he stomps off after leaving the car door open, like it personally offended him. The manager grumbles under their breath but it’s nothing new.

Satoru can annoy a lot of people in a day.

His energy has to go somewhere, so he prowls the halls, and waits for the next victim of his ire to show up.

Naturally, it’s Suguru.

“Where’s that idiot?” Satoru rounds on him.

“Hello to you too, your pissy highness. Long time no see” Suguru says, amused. “Who pissed in your food, Satoru?”

“I wonder who!” Satoru says, crossing his arms.

“Lemme guess. Itadori?” Suguru raises an eyebrow.

“Bingo! You don’t get a special prize, by the way”

“What’ he do this time? Didn’t answer your texts?” Suguru asks him jokingly.

Satoru glares at him, and it only serves to make his best friend laugh at his expense.

“Wait. Spot on, am I?”

“Fuck off”

“Sorry, sorry” Suguru coughs, collecting himself. “He’s not back yet. I haven’t seen him since yesterday”

Satoru frowns.

Itadori does still avoid Suguru so he isn’t exactly the best person to ask about this.

“Satoru. He’s fine, Nanami is a responsible guy, you know that”

Satoru doesn’t want to hear it. It’s not like Itadori needs somebody to monitor him.
Except he kind of does. Because he’s abusing his own limits, and one of these days, Satoru will bonk him over the head and let him sleep there for days!

“I know that” He grumbles, leaning against the wall to the training room. “He’s just- frustrating the shit out of me, on a good day”

“Because he’s keeping you at arm’s length, still?” Suguru guesses.

“He’s not even trying and yet he walks all over me” Satoru admits, messing his hair in his frustration.

“Wow. I sure haven’t seen you this worked up about someone before”

“Suguru. What do I do? Why the fuck do I care what this guy does or doesn’t? I don’t even know him!”

Suguru watches him silently for a few moments, his eyebrows doing that thing he does when he’s actually thinking.

“Satoru, I don’t know what to tell you. Itadori avoids me, hence I don’t know anything about him, and you don’t really tell me things either, except when he’s really testing your patience. What is it you want from him?”

Satoru blinks at Suguru.

What does he want from Itadori?

That’s simple.

He wants-

Well.

Fuck” Satoru says.

“Thought so” Suguru pats his shoulder. “Before you go and get frustrated with him, maybe figure out what exactly you need from the guy. He’s already doing enough as it is, what with trying to unseal your dumb ass. There’s only one of him, and I can’t imagine dealing with two of you, ugh”

Suguru shudders, and Satoru kicks him.

“Get outta here. I’m amazing!”

“Amazingly annoying, yeah”

It’s then that Satoru sees Nanami heading their way, and he frowns, not understanding the sight at first.

As he gets closer, though, he does see why Nanami’s gait is a little strange.

Itadori is slumped on his back, his head hanging on Nanami’s shoulder, eyes closed and dead to the world. He looks as worn out as Satoru feels, or even worse.

Definitely worse.

“Geto-san” Nanami greets. “Gojo-san” He deadpans in Satoru’s direction.

Satoru doesn’t say anything, staring at Itadori, and all the rationality Suguru instilled in him goes out the window, just like that.

“Put him down,” He tells Nanami.

“Sorry?” Nanami blinks at him.

“Satoru- “ Suguru starts but Satoru is not hearing it.

“He’s just asleep-“ Nanami starts but is cut off.

“Put him down!” Satoru demands, stepping into Nanami’s space.

Nanami frowns at him. “Ok. Hold on. He’s really heavy, just so you know”

He lowers Itadori to the floor, and Satoru takes him. Itadori’s dead weight slumps against him, warm and solid. His head comes up under Satoru’s chin, he realizes.

Still, it’s not an effort to lift him, and Satoru grabs him under each leg, hefting them up around his waist. Itadori’s arms hang limply behind his shoulders, and Satoru doesn’t give a shit about Suguru’s obvious mortification with his behaviour, or Nanami’s annoyed looks.

He turns to go, but stops, a question on the edge of his mind.

“Did he sleep at all, these days?” He asks Nanami.

“Not that I know of. He just crashed in the car, and I couldn't wake him” Nanami says, giving Satoru a strange look.

“This idiot,” Satoru grumbles.

Itadori shifts against him for a few seconds, and his arms go from limply hanging, to squeezing around Satoru’s shoulders.

“Sensei” He mumbles, rubbing his nose on Satoru's shoulder, like a dog.

Ugh!

“Yeah, yeah. Just go to sleep, dumbass”

He carries Itadori away, while Suguru and Nanami look after him like he just proclaimed his love for the Zenin clan or something.

“Jealous, much?” He hears Suguru say.

Satoru flips him off, even though the halls are too dark now, to be seen from this distance.

Nobody said Satoru is above being petty.

Chapter Text

So Satoru went and did something rather weird, and now he’s got a handful of an 18 years old sorcerer on his case, asleep, and warm against him.

Itadori’s hair tickles his cheek when he sometimes moves his head. Satoru tries to remember where his room is, but he doesn’t actually know. So he takes Itadori to his own dorm, kicking the door open.

He’s surprised that it doesn't wake him, really. He must be really fucking tired, and for good reason. Itadori was bound to get like this at some point, what with him acting all reckless.

Satoru dumps him on the bed.

Itadori frowns, probably at the loss of contact, curling in on himself as Satoru pulls the covers over him.

“Don’t make that face,” Satoru tells him quietly, sitting beside him. His brows are so knotted he feels the need to smooth them over.

He gives in to that need, because why not.

“What an idiot, frowning even in your sleep~” He teases.

Itadori grumbles unintelligible things, and his hand moves under the blanket, fumbling with something.

Satoru frowns at him, before pulling the covers away.

Ah.

Of course.

Itadori’s holding on to the cube, as if someone might come in and snatch it away.

“Aren’t you cute,” Satoru tells him, and is tempted to try.

Taking the cube, that is.

Would that wake him up?

The shitty thing is staring at him with those blue eyes, eerily reminiscent of his own.

“Wachu looking at you ugly thing?” He asks it.

There is no answer, of course, and Satoru sighs, crashing beside Itadori, and finally feeling his own tiredness get the best of him. He considers taking the couch, but they can fit just fine so he doesn’t bother.

 

It’s somewhere in the middle of the night that Itadori’s restless sleep wakes Satoru up. He pulls at the covers, annoyed, before realizing that’s not the only thing that’s bothering him.

There’s a strange noise from beside him.

Satoru frowns, but he’s sleepy so it takes him a while to open his eyes, and react properly.

He’s pretty sure he can hear muttering.

When he does open them, he stares at Itadori’s scrunched up face. He looks almost as if awake, except he’s kicking his feet, talking gibberish and sweating all over.

“Hey” Satoru says, touching his arm, only for it to be shoved away so suddenly that it wakes him up, completely.

Itadori’s reaction works like a chain, his body getting more agitated, his feet kicking Satoru under the blankets.

“Oi!” Satoru pulls himself up, attempting to shake him, but stopping himself at the last moment.

Itadori looks like he’s fighting in his sleep.

Satoru is not worried about getting kicked. He’s pretty sure Itadori would fall off the bed, though. Which is exactly where he’s heading, rolling over, twisting the covers around his feet completely.

Satoru pulls him away from the edge, and gets an elbow to the side for his effort.

Figures he’d have night terrors.

“Itadori!” He calls, and has no choice but to avoid getting kicked again.

“Wake up!” Satoru shouts.

Itadori turns towards him, a painful grimace on his face, but he doesn’t wake.

The damn cube is still there, his hand clamped against it like a vice.

Satoru shouldn’t, but he does.

He grabs the cube and pulls. Itadori’s grip on it doesn’t slacken, so he pulls harder.

He manages to pry it off eventually. The tension that is released leaves him falling back on the wall behind him, the thing warm and glowing in his hand.

Itadori springs up like a lunatic, in the next second, wide awake, his eyes big in his head.

“Give him back!” He says, frantic.

Satoru freezes, taking in the sight of him.

He looks scared out of his mind.

“Give him back, please!” Itadori makes a grab for the cube. It’s like he can’t even see anything else at that moment.

Like Satoru himself is invisible.

“No,” Satoru says, hiding the cursed object behind his back.

Itadori stiffens, his sweaty hair all over the place. His eyebrows furrow, his mouth pulls down, and the fear residing in his eyes is so real, Satoru wants to slap him awake.

“Itadori. You don’t need it right now” Satoru tells him, closing the distance between them so Itadori can see him properly.

“It’s me, see? I got it, it’s safe with me” He says quietly.

Itadori’s eyes slowly fill with recognition, and Satoru continues.

“You’re too dependent on this thing, and it’s not healthy” Satoru grabs his fingers, and they shake in his own hand. “I’m here, even if this isn’t the present. You can touch me, see?” He lifts Itadori’s fingers to his face, settling them on his cheek.

They twitch against his skin, clammy and trembling.

Itadori’s eyes follow his every movement, jumping from his mouth when he speaks, to Satoru’s own eyes.

“Let me ground you a little, hm?”

Itadori releases a charged breath, his shoulders slumping in defeat.

“That’s it, focus on me” Satoru bumps their foreheads together.

“I’m not your teacher yet, but it’s still me. Do you think I’m different from my future self?”

Itadori shakes his head, and his sweaty bangs brush against Satoru’s skin.

“Do I treat you differently?” He asks him.

His eyebrows furrow in thought, before he opens his mouth.

“A little” He says quietly.

“How? What would he have done, right now?”

Itadori closes his eyes, breathing shakily. Satoru can feel the breaths against his lips.

“I don’t know”

“You don’t?”

Then it clicks, and he pulls back a little, in realization. Itadori’s hand drops from his cheek.

“You weren’t intimate with him, were you?”

Itadori turns to look at him again, the night lights outside reflecting on his forehead. His eyes quickly avert their gaze, though.

“I don’t know what gave you that impression” He mumbles, and Satoru wants to laugh at him.

Is he seriously saying that?

“Is that why you’re so afraid to ask things from me?”

Itadori frowns, not understanding Satoru’s question.

“This,” Satoru says, touching their foreheads together again. “Everything that’s been happening between us since you came here. It all happened because I pushed you. You never asked me for anything, even though it’s clear you needed it. And you needed it from me, that much I know. Maybe the one in the future, but still the same thing. Instead, you tried to take that comfort from a cursed object”

Itadori’s mouth opens, like he’s going to say something but nothing comes out. He makes a choked sound in the back of his throat instead, which validates everything Satoru is saying.

“That’s why, until my dumbass future self comes back, I’ll be holding on to this, every now and then, ok?” He says, pulling the cube between them.

“Wai-“ Itadori starts but Satoru speaks over him.

“Just when we’re together,” He clarifies. “When you get back from missions, come to me, yeah? You don’t have to do this on your own. We’ll watch stupid movies, and I’ll spoil plot points for you, and you can tell me what other things you liked to do with me, hm?”

“…ok” Itadori’s face heats up, Satoru can feel it. He’s a bit red in the ears, too.

Whenever he gets like this, open and vulnerable, Satoru is tempted to take more than he should.

But Itadori is a ticking time bomb most days, and cutting the wrong wire will only make him draw back into himself, at worst, not trusting Satoru with any of this again.

So he takes his time, can’t help but frown at his older self for leading Itadori in this corner in the first place. Something had to be happening between them. Maybe the future him was just being an idiot and never acted out on it, (the age difference might be a good reason, Satoru thinks) but there is no way he didn’t like Itadori.

“Let’s get some sleep, hm?” He asks him, and Itadori nods, looking a little lost as to where he should place himself, now.

Satoru lies back down, settling the cube between the pillows.

He pats the other pillow, wiggling his eyebrows at him.

Itadori gives in, lying on his side, glancing between Satoru and the prison realm.

He’s awfully endearing.

“Don’t worry, Yuji. We’ll get him out. Then I’ll kick his ass for being sealed in the first place” He huffs.

Really, the nerve of his future self! Was he drunk or something, when they caught him?

How did he manage to leave this whole mess behind him?

Itadori huffs a laugh, sneaking a hand under the pillow, pulling the covers up to his shoulder.

There’s a small smile sketching his face, and Satoru is pleased with himself.

-

Satoru wakes up later than usual, and isn’t surprised that Itadori’s side of the bed is cold, and the cube is gone.

It’s a Saturday so he could just sleep more.

But he’s curious where Itadori went, so he only lasts ten more minutes before it gets the best of him. It’s past ten when he makes his way around the school, hair still wet from the shower, and dressed casually. It feels like forever since he had a free day.

Idly, he wonders where Itadori gets his fresh clothes from. Is Yaga giving him an allowance, or something? He probably is, otherwise he’d wear the same stuff over and over. Although, Satoru hadn’t seen him in anything but school uniform, so far.

He finds Suguru and Shoko in the cafeteria. Satoru steals a piece of toast from Suguru’s plate, and makes a run for it, not sticking around for breakfast.

He’s still munching on it when he sees Yaga round the corner, a pile of documents in hand.

“Satoru. I was going to call for you” Yaga says, motioning for him to follow.

“What for? It’s my free day, Sensei”

“Itadori left me with all these maps and notes, and then disappeared somewhere. Find him, will you?”

Satoru blinks, swallowing his last piece of toast.

“It’s what I do best, isn’t it?~” He jokes but Yaga silently agrees.

Satoru has no idea where Itadori might be on a weekend, since he doesn’t know his off mission habits yet. Aside from the very unhealthy ones, that is.

He’s about to ask if he mentioned anything about going outside the school, but promptly remembers he has a phone. And he has Itadori’s number, too. So he texts him, before he starts running around chasing ideas.

where you at, you rascal?

[message sent]

The reply comes a bit later, just as Satoru exits the building.

[message received]

The training grounds in the yard

Of course. Satoru shouldn’t be surprised.

He finds Itadori alone, because no one else is crazy enough to train on a Saturday.
He’s pummeling some poor training puppet, and Satoru walks over to him, lazily. He’d like to just snatch Itadori away and throw him on his couch, make him relax all day.

The audacity!

“Don’t you ever slow down?” Satoru asks him, when he is within talking distance.

Itadori looks at him, sweaty and worked up, too awake at this hour, really.

Satoru likes the sweaty part, though.

“Satoru-Senpai-“

Satoru bonks him over the head. “Enough with the Senpai. I’ll get mad with you”

Itadori grins a little, wiping sweat from his brow. He looks at Satoru for a few seconds and he visibly zones out.

“Hello? Earth to Itadori?” Satoru snaps his fingers.

Itadori’s face is a little red, probably from the training but maybe not only.

“Never seen you in a hoodie before” He tells Satoru, his eyes fixated on the light blue color of what Satoru’s wearing.

“Dashing, aren’t I?~” Satoru winks, a playful smirk on his lips.

Itadori isn’t looking at him, but there’s a closed lipped smile on him, and a blush staining his cheeks. “The color really suits you,” He says quietly.

Satoru can’t help himself.

He grabs him around the shoulders, pulling him into his side. “Come with~” Is all he says, before dragging him along.

Itadori struggles against him a little. “Wait- I’m sweaty and gross, let me-“

Nope~”

Satoru ruffles his hair, and it is indeed damp under his hand. But it’s not gross. More like, he wouldn’t mind seeing more of this Itadori.

Eventually, he gives up, letting Satoru drag him along. He’s not wearing his school uniform today, just a nondescript white shirt and track pants.

Then he remembers the red hood on Itadori’s jacket. So maybe he likes those.

“Let’s go shopping sometime, hm?” Satoru asks him.

“Uh, sure?”

“Not today, though. Today we laze like pigs!” Satoru whoops.

They slowly make their way to Yaga’s office.

Eventually.

-

Turns out, Yaga is putting together everything they gathered on their missions so far, and they’re going somewhere. Most of it was already stitched by Itadori, but there’s information that Yaga has from the other students which he needs to put together with everything else.

“We’re on a good track” He says, sounding confident. “You can relax today, Itadori”

Itadori is staring at all the info and sources they gathered. Satoru can’t read him at the moment.

“Thank you for all the help” He says.

“Don’t thank me yet. Also, the students are the ones doing the dirty work, I just pull a few strings”

“I know” Itadori smiles, a fond smile.

“Ok, now go, off with you! I don’t wanna see you until tomorrow at least” He shoos them out of his office.

Satoru gladly takes Itadori away, and pulls him in the direction of his dorm room again.

“Where are we going?”

“Couch”

“Couch?” Itadori asks, a confused look on his face. He looks really young, whenever he does that.

Satoru is hopelessly endeared.

“Yes, my dear Yuji. Couch means weekend. Weekend means couch. No work today!”

Itadori doesn’t protest or agree, just follows.

Satoru rarely uses his room for anything other than sleep and the occasional movie night. He’s generally an active person, and always has something to do. It usually involves hanging out with Suguru, but he’s been a little too focused on Itadori lately, to do much of that.

Itadori does go for the couch, when Satoru just sits there in front of the tv, crouching over the DVDs.

“Preferences?” Satoru asks him.

“Uh, dunno. Something light? I don’t know if I can focus much” Itadori says.

“Hmm, well then, Marvel, DC, or a random action movie that I don’t know anything about?”

“Marvel?”

“Are you asking me or agreeing?” Satoru turns to look at him.

Itadori huffs, slumping against the couch. “Agreeing”

Satoru shows him the pile. Itadori goes for Spider Man, and it’s so silly, Satoru laughs as he sets it up.

“What?! They still make cool superhero movies-“ Itadori frowns, stopping himself. “Or I guess not anymore” He mutters.

“None of that, now” Satoru says, crashing beside him on the couch after digging some chips and nuts from the hidden stash he reserves for movie nights.

He throws one in Itadori’s face and presses play.

-

They watch the first and the second, where Itadori’s focus is indeed lacking.

Satoru makes jokes, assuming Itadori’s seen these movies already. He’s pleased when Itadori huffs little laughs, like he can’t help himself, and tells Satoru about future movies Marvel released. He tells him he liked Venom, and that it’s actually more entertaining than Spider Man. Satoru doesn't care much about the movies in the future, but he likes seeing Itadori caught up in talking about something silly and simple, for once.

“Honestly, it’s just a lot of comedy without much plot, really. But it was so fun to watch” Itadori is telling him about the second Venom movie, when they circle back to it.

“Was it?~” Satoru asks him, focused on the way his scar moves along with his lips.

“Yeah. Do you like going to the cinema?”

“I do. Wanna go together?” Satoru offers. “I’ll buy you silly glasses and tons of popcorn. It’ll be fun” He raises his eyebrows playfully.

Itadori’s cheeks color a little, and he looks younger at this moment. His actual age.

“I think I’d like that” He smiles to himself, looking at his own hand playing with a string at the hem of his pants.

Satoru ruffles his hair affectionately. “Atta boy~”

Itadori blinks at him, raising his head. Satoru doesn’t move his hand, and Itadori doesn’t ask him to.

“Did you get some rest, after?” Satoru asks him quietly.

“Ah. It took me a while to fall back asleep, but I did” Itadori shrugs.

“Is it the night terrors? The reason you’re not sleeping?”

Itadori fixates on Satoru’s knees, pulled up on the couch beside his own.

“Mostly” He says vaguely.

“Does it help, if I’m around?”

“…yeah”

Satoru waits, but he doesn’t elaborate. He slides his hand away from Itadori’s hair, loosely grabbing two of his fingers instead. They dangle between the two of them.

“So come here, hm? Whenever you want to sleep. Or you need anything. Come find me, yeah?”

Itadori isn’t looking at him so Satoru pulls up his shades, cranes his neck until he catches his eyes. “Yeah?”

“Ok” Itadori agrees quietly, nodding.

There’s a restrained look about him, and Satoru can barely read it. He finds it hard to believe that even after all the drama that went on between them, Itadori is still so reluctant to ask him for help.

He still won’t tell Satoru what he really needs.

“Wanna watch the third? Or well, make bad jokes about it, really?”

“They’re asking for it,” Itadori agrees, about the jokes.

“I know, right?!”

Satoru goes to put in the third movie but when he comes back to the couch, he sits closer to Itadori. When he finds him distracted, he grabs his fingers again, loosely holding them with two of his own.

Itadori relaxes a bit, and his back is no longer stiff against the couch.

Chapter Text

The weekend is a pleasant little thing, with Satoru dragging Itadori along, here and there, (around the school) making sure he actually eats, before bundling him up for couch sessions. Itadori follows him like a baby duck, quiet, and secretly pleased, Satoru can tell. He’s still not asking for anything, and always seems rather taken aback with Satoru’s newfound fixation to get him to sleep and eat.

Satoru isn’t under the illusion that he suddenly became a person that worries for others.

It’s just normal, to make sure at least, that those people who matter in your life don't self-destruct, whenever you’re turning your head the other way. It’s the minimum effort, really.

Maybe a little more than that when it comes to Itadori, he’ll admit.

He doesn’t know if it’ll stick but over the next few days, Itadori does seem a little more present. At first, Satoru has to go find him at the end of the day, drag him to his dorm room and make sure he stays there. So he sits with him, and they always watch animated movies at night, because Itadori gets nostalgic for them or something.

Satoru wordlessly holds his hand out, asking for the cube before pressing play, and he gives it away, albeit reluctantly.

Itadori is fidgety for a while, without the ever present weight of the prison realm in his pocket, but he calms down when Satoru leans against him, stealing his warmth.

Satoru makes faces at the thing, because he can.

It mocks him just by staring, and he eventually shoves it in his own pocket, putting it out of his mind.

They go through Howl’s moving Castle, Totoro and Ponyo, before Itadori gets used to the idea of Satoru taking his turn for the cube. Three different nights, all of them in which Itadori crashes on his couch, and Satoru lets him sleep there. At least it’s a comfortable couch. Itadori refuses to sleep in the bed, acting like some shy schoolgirl, even though he claims it’s just too small for the two of them.

Satoru teases him about it, he can’t help it.

They go on more missions, and sometimes they just attend classes, but almost a week passes by the time Itadori actually comes to Satoru’s room on his own.

Satoru can hear him, sometimes, when his sleep isn’t deep enough, struggling with the night terrors. He wakes up then, crouching beside the couch swaddled in the bed comforter, poking Itadori until he wakes up too.

He’s always disoriented when he does, and looks like he just free dropped from the sky or something, his eyes big and frightened, taking a full minute to recognize Satoru sitting beside him.

Satoru talks to him, whispers silly things to help ground him.

Itadori never fails to apologize for waking him, and looks mortified with the fact that he’s showing Satoru this part of him.

Satoru tells him how he’s greedy, so he wants to see all the parts Itadori has to offer.

Itadori would cover his eyes with his arms then, groaning in defeat. Satoru will sit with him a little longer, sometimes fall asleep before Itadori manages to do it. When that happens, though, he always wakes back up in bed, and he has to assume Itadori is just carrying him back in.

They eat together more often, too.

He learns that Itadori can actually cook, and occasionally bugs him into making breakfast, whenever he looks more rested. It’s not because he’s a breakfast person, but there’s just something about eating food Itadori makes, that fills his belly with a searing warmth which lasts all through the day.

Itadori is a good cook, really.

They sometimes train together, because Satoru likes seeing him getting all worked up, and because Itadori is always beautiful to watch whenever he fights. He’s learning things about him, just like he planned to.

All the while, they’re getting closer and closer to obtaining the black rope.

Satoru should feel relieved about his unsealing, yet it leaves a confusing mess of feelings in his head.

-

Somewhere around the second week of this newly established thing between them, Satoru wakes up to Itadori having another one of those terrors. He’s getting used to that, and it’s not a good thing. Having him here, knowing he’s getting rest instead of prowling the halls at night is good, but that kind of sleep can’t be of much help in the long run.

He rolls out of bed, leaving the comforter behind. It’s getting kinda cold since winter is just around the corner.

“Yuji” Satoru tries, but Itadori never hears him when he’s like this. Not unless physical contact happens. Satoru has learned what works best, so he grabs his foot, which is bare and warm, and presses, talking to him until Itadori starts to hear him, gradually.

“Wake up, Itadori” He says, louder.

Itadori starts, as usual. Satoru waits him out, until his frantic heart stills, until his eyes stop chasing the shadows around the room, like they’re about to materialize and strangle him to death.

All the while, giving him the usual gibberish to keep him here.

“Still me, see?” Satoru tells him, rubbing his thumb in a circle over Itadori’s ankle.

Itadori’s breaths come down, one by one, his eyes latching onto Satoru like he’s the one thing holding this reality standing.

“Satoru,” He whispers, just to check.

“Yea, I’m here” Satoru gives him his hand, and Itadori takes it lightly into his own.

He’s sweaty and worn out.

“Do you remember any of them, after waking up?” Satoru asks him quietly.

Itadori frowns, looking at their hands. “This one I do,” He says.

So not all of them.

Satoru understands the whole ‘respecting your privacy thing’ that Itadori is going for, but he’s had enough of that.

“Come on” He says, pulling him in a sitting position.

“I’m using you as a human furnace tonight, it’s cold” He says, because Itadori is always more inclined to agree if it’s for Satoru’s sake.

Predictably, he follows.

Satoru takes his spot by the wall, where the sheets have tangled to no end. He pulls at them, annoyed, but he gives up soon, in favor of getting under the covers and encouraging Itadori to do the same. He does, albeit so quietly that Satoru likens it to one sneaking into a dragon’s nest.

He snickers, amused, and huddles close once Itadori is fully under the covers.

“Don’t kick me, ok?” Satoru jokes, sliding his cold feet along Itadori’s own, which are blissfully warm and soft.

“Why would I?” Itadori asks him, unbothered by the freezing of Satoru’s skin.

“Maybe because I’m here, stealing all your warmth?” Satoru suggests, wiggling his eyebrows playfully.

Itadori looks at him with that confused puppy face, and Satoru wants to lick him on a whim.

He’d probably fall out of bed.

“You’re cute when you’re clueless” Satoru tells him, rubbing his foot against Itadori’s own, underneath the covers.

“You say the weirdest things” Itadori mutters, but his ears are red again.

So he does know that Satoru is flirting with him.

Probably.

“And don’t you like it, when I do?” He teases.

Itadori looks at him, but he doesn’t admit to it, or deny it in any way. He lets his lips stretch into an indulgent smile, though.

Satoru wants to pull him closer, throw a leg over him and keep him there. But any move that is too bold on his part could spook Itadori into running back for the couch, so Satoru behaves.

“Alright, now. Back to sleep” He demands, pulling the covers up to his nose.

“Night, Yuji~”

 

It’s strange, in the morning, when Itadori is still there, dead to the world, sleeping with Satoru’s foot on his face. The cube is somewhere between them, having rolled off in the night. Satoru takes a more decent position, (he has some bad sleeping habits, ok) and shamelessly watches him sleeping.

Looking at him up close, Itadori’s eyelashes are rather long. His face is younger in sleep, probably because he’s lost the frowning and the anxiety that always sticks to him.

Satoru traces his eyelash, because he can’t help it.

Itadori’s nose twitches, and his hand comes up to grab Satoru’s, but he doesn’t wake up.

Huh.

Progress, he would call it.

Maybe he’s starting to get used to Satoru being around him. To the point where he doesn’t startle awake at the slightest poke anymore.

“Good boy,” Satoru praises, petting his hair. He still doesn’t know why it’s pink.

Itadori mumbles something in return, because he always sleep talks, nightmares or no.

“Is that so?” Satoru asks him, even though he doesn’t understand a thing.

Itadori still has his hand, albeit he’s loosely holding on to it. Satoru lets him keep it, and naps a little longer because it’s still early.

He doesn’t mind the cold at all, if he can talk Itadori into sticking around.

-

All this ‘sharing a bed’ thing keeps happening, and naturally, it brings a comfortable familiarity between them.

Satoru hogs it, because he’s not above that. When he wakes up early enough for breakfast, he drags himself to the cafeteria, and if he finds Itadori sitting with Nanami, Haibara, or sometimes just by himself, he sits beside him, head pillowed on his arms over the table. Itadori makes him over-sweetened coffee, and Satoru takes little bites of breakfast if it’s something Itadori cooked.

He’s useless in the mornings, though, so he ends up sleeping in his food most times.

It always amuses Itadori, so Satoru doesn’t mind looking silly if that’s what does it.

There’s the ghost of a hand in his hair, sometimes, when he dozes like this, and it makes it worth it, getting up in the morning.

Satoru knows where this is going for him.

In a painful direction, because Itadori will be leaving soon, after the seal is undone. He’ll be leaving, and Satoru will be left waiting for him for twelve years, until they meet again for the first time, and Itadori won’t even remember any of this.

Satoru has no idea how time travel works. If time is linear, if the future him would retain any of his present memories of Itadori, if the Itadori that Satoru will meet one day will repeat this cycle of going into his past.

If the Satoru from now, the one who knows about his own future, will inevitably be sealed when his time comes.

There’s so many possibilites, and he wonders what Itadori thinks of all this. He wonders if part of the reason why he won’t let Satoru fully in, is because he’s trying to avoid him getting hurt in the long run. This unspoken thing they have is almost like a mirage, something that shouldn’t even be possible. Maybe Itadori doesn’t believe it’s real.

For him, this reality is unknown, strange, somewhere he doesn’t belong.

Maybe that’s another reason why he clings to the cube, the only reminder of the world he comes from.

Satoru should stop now, before he makes it worse.

But he’s never been one for letting sleeping dragons lie.

-

It’s a Thursday, when Yaga calls them in, just him and Itadori again.

Satoru gets a buzzing under his skin, a feeling that something’s going to be different.
Itadori is the same, anticipation simmering in his bones, and no doubt, they know what’s coming.

“We got it,” Yaga says.

“The rope” Satoru confirms, and looks at Itadori as he says it. He’s suddenly alight with energy, albeit containing himself.

“Yes. Suguru got it on his last mission. There were some- questionable ways which I’m still not exactly clear about, but he did. We can unseal Gojo Satoru from the prison realm, Itadori”

There’s silence for a long moment, in which Itadori’s face tries to restrain itself. It kind of fails at it, and the smile he gives Yaga is wide and brilliant, no brakes.

He looks the epitome of relief and gratefulness.

Thank God” He chokes and his voice betrays him.

There’s wetness around his eyes, and he lifts his hand to his face, gathering it in surprise.

“Eh? Sorry, I don’t know why-“

Satoru wants to hide him from the world, right at this moment.

“Dumbass” He says instead, gently shoving Itadori with his shoulder. “Wachu crying for?”

“That’s what- I’m happy, so I don’t know why-“ Itadori rubs at his face but more silent tears keep coming and Yaga puts a hand on his head.

“You did great, kid. All this is because of you, keep that in mind. We only helped”

Itadori looks up at him, red eyes and all, sniffling quitely.

He smiles through his tears, closing his eyes in relief. “Thank you, Yaga-san”

Yaga nods, indulgently.

Then he turns to his desk, pulling out the one thing they’ve been searching for so long.

“That’s it?” Satoru says, grimacing at it.

It’s such an inconspicuous thing, one wouldn’t even guess the role it can play in the jujutsu world.

“This is it” Yaga confirms, passing it on to Satoru.

“I suggest we get the other students for this, before we start. Nanami is still on a mission but it’s your choice, Itadori. Do you want to do this now, or wait until he’s back? There’s a few more hours” Yaga says, glancing at the clock on the wall.

Itadori blinks the tears away, wipes his nose on his wrist.

“I’ll wait. They’ve helped me a lot, so it feels weird doing this without them being present”

“Thought so” Yaga says. “I’ll send for you, ok?”

“Ok” Itadori nods, and they head for the door.

Satoru holds the rope out for Yaga but the teacher shakes his head.

“Keep it. Just be sure it’s out of sight”

“Got it,” Satoru says, sliding it in his pocket.

He follows Itadori out the door and closes it silently behind him.

Chapter Text

Satoru doesn’t want to think it, but he inevitably does.

This is it.

The truth is staring him in the face, and he has to look back.

Itadori is walking a little bit ahead of him but his feet move slowly, like he’s letting them take him wherever. Satoru walks even slower, frowning at Itadori’s back.

They have to talk about this, don’t they?

Though what would they say, even?

Congrats on returning to the future. See you in twelve years, though you won’t even remember me.

Satoru feels a headache coming on just at the thought of it.

“Satoru?” Itadori calls, and he looks up only to find him standing an arm’s length apart.

Itadori grabs his index and middle finger with his own, lightly.

Almost fearfully.

When Satoru looks at him, Itadori’s eyes are searching his, even though he’s wearing the shades, still.

“Can I see you?” He asks, his eyebrows pulled down.

Satoru’s heart kicks itself to the curb when faced with that look on him.

“Take them off for me?” He asks, smiling a little.

Itadori slides them off carefully, his frown staying on his face. They dangle from his hand, and he looks at Satoru, searching for something, or trying to convey something.

Satoru doesn’t know.

“Why the sad face, hm? He’s coming back” He tries to sound playful, but it doesn’t quite sound right.

Itadori’s fingers squeeze his own, and he opens his mouth. It takes him a few tries to say what’s really on his mind.

“I- there’s so much I haven’t told you” He starts, bites at his lip. “There’s all these things that I wanted to tell you, things I wanted to do with you, but - I didn’t know if it was a good idea to indulge in any of that. If you hadn’t pushed, I don’t think we’d be here. I was- am, a coward, about this whole thing” Itadori laughs, self-deprecating.

“You’re not a coward, you’re just a selfless idiot” Satoru corrects him.

He settles his chin on top of Itadori’s hair, and his other hand on the back of his head.

“I think we both know this couldn’t have ended happily” He says.

Itadori’s breath hitches, and his arms come around Satoru, squeezing.

“Am I bad for wanting to stay here with you?” He asks, so quietly that Satoru barely hears him.

God, the things this boy does to him.

“Nah. I think this is the better world, at the moment. And I’d fucking love to keep you here, to be the shittiest, most selfish piece of shit, but you don’t belong here”

He pulls back, to look at Itadori, catch his eyes.

They’re wet.

“I bet the future me would go ballistic if I didn’t let you go back to him. I don’t know what you know about him or not, but trust me on this, since we’re the same person. He needs you. If that world you’re going back to is as bad as I think it is, he’s going to need you even more”

Satoru takes Itadori’s cheeks in his hands, chasing his eyes as they blur with tears.

“Even if he didn’t need you for anything, he’d want you to be there. That’s it, really”

“What about you?” Itadori says, his voice trembling.

Satoru smiles, albeit it’s a bit sad.

“Don’t you think I can wait for you?”

Twelve years?” Itadori says, mortified.

“You don’t think you’re worth it?”

Itadori shakes his head, so quickly, he dislodges Satoru’s hands for a few seconds.

“Then you’re an even bigger idiot,” Satoru tells him, grinning a bit like a mad person.

“Because you’re fucking worth it!”

It’s now or never really, so Satoru takes the leap, and kisses him.

Itadori stiffens for just a second, in surprise, before he melts into it, his tears wetting Satoru’s fingers. A hand slides in Satoru’s hair, the other holding on to his glasses, still.

Satoru kisses him to last him a lifetime, because he’s going to need it.

He’s going to need something really solid, to remember the feel of him against his mouth, wet and a little rough, filled with a desperation born of too much wanting, and too much of doing the responsible thing for so long.

Itadori makes sounds, and Satoru swallows them, keeps him there, stealing his every breath. All the greed in him that’s been silently suppressed, all that impatience he kept shoving down, are holding Itadori in place, taking and taking.

He knows it will never be enough.

Whatever they do in these remaining hours, whatever Itadori is willing to give him, it’s not going to be enough. He’s going to forget how his mouth feels, because this isn’t a fairy tale. He’s going to forget the color of his eyes, or the sound of his voice, or the little smiles he gifted Satoru in moments that were only his.

Satoru might forget how Itadori looks, by the time he meets him again.

Then he laughs into their kiss, because there’s such a thing as cameras, and photographs, and he’s being overly dramatic for some reason.

It’s not going to be the same.

Some days, many years from now, he’s going to wonder if he didn’t make him up.

Except, Suguru met him. Shoko and Nanami, Haibara, Yaga. Hell, the shitty elders met him.

Even if they didn’t, and even if cameras didn’t exist yet, Satoru wouldn’t allow himself to forget about him.

“What- “ Itadori breaks off, breathless. He blinks at Satoru in a daze, his lips red and swollen. “What are you laughing for?” He asks him, and Satoru lets him breathe for another three seconds before he goes back to eating him up.

“I’m just having an epiphany~” Satoru jokes between kisses, biting on Itadori’s lip, sucking it into his mouth.

Itadori closes his eyes, releasing a sigh that turns into a little moan.

“If you make sounds like that, I won’t be responsible for what happens next” Satoru warns him, albeit teasingly. “Should I just undress you here, in the halls?~”

Itadori goes even redder in the face, and his skin burns under Satoru’s hands.

“I wouldn’t put it past you” He says, and Satoru grins, delighted.

“Don’t tempt me~”

Itadori closes his eyes when Satoru kisses him again, a little less bite this time.

“ ‘M not” He mumbles, standing on his tiptoes to reach him.

Satoru knows he already has a thing for that height difference they have.

-

They could be kissing in the halls until tomorrow, if Satoru wouldn’t want a little more than that from Itadori.

Eventually, he pulls him back to the dorms, to that room that became their little space in time. Itadori stumbles as he goes, distracted, and he keeps tripping because his eyes are glued to Satoru. When they open the door, they forget to close it.

Satoru crawls with him on the couch, pulling him into his lap, a bone deep satisfaction for finally being able to give in to that urge.

It’s been itching at him for weeks!

Itadori lets him, so Satoru takes. His hands are not sure where they want to be first so they roam, over Itadori’s neck, his shoulders, underneath his jacket.

He’s warm under Satoru’s hands, hard but soft in some places.

“Can I?” Satoru asks him, thumbing at the hem of his T-shirt.

Itadori nods, keeping his eyes trained on Satoru’s own. “Yeah” He breathes.

Satoru dips his fingers underneath, like testing hot water, and he presses his thumbs over the skin for a bit. Itadori is burning. He usually runs really warm but right now there’s a fever about him, something that Satoru, perpetually cold as he is, wants to melt into.

Satoru kisses him a little slower, a little longer.

He slides his hands up, as far as they go.

Itadori arches into him, closing his eyes for a few seconds, his mouth open. There’s heat between their legs, where they connect in the middle, and Satoru grabs his waist, pushing him down a little.

Ah

Itadori lets out this tiny gasp, and his eyes open, wide and surprised.

Oh!?” Satoru says, a thrilling buzz going down his back.

He does it again, carefully following any change in Itadori’s face.

The responding noise he makes is so sweet he wants to eat it, right from his mouth.

But he’s more preoccupied to see where this is going, so he presses his thumbs into Itadori’s waist, holding him in place, guiding him along as he slides against Satoru. The movements are short, and teasing. Itadori’s eyes alternate between closing and opening to look at Satoru, as they move against each other. Satoru loves the way his ears burn red, the way his mouth opens on little gasps and moans.

“Feels good?” Satoru asks him, because he wants to hear it.

Itadori frowns a little, his hands on Satoru’s shoulders, holding on to his uniform.

“Yeah..” His voice is a little raspy.

It does crazy things to Satoru’s bloodstream.

He nudges Itadori into a particularly longer but slower slide, pressing him down just so. Itadori’s head drops into his shoulder, his mouth wet against Satoru’s skin. Satoru lifts his waist against him, meets him halfway, and closes his eyes without meaning to, at some point, guided by the pleasant feeling.

Satoru” Itadori breathes his name, and that’s enough to make him attentive again.

“Hm?”

“I think- “ Itadori starts but Satoru knows what he wants to say, so he just pushes him down, again and again.

“That’s it. Come for me,” He lets the pace fasten, and feels the wetness between them. It’d be embarrassing really, if they weren’t still teenagers.

“Oh!” Itadori says as Satoru keeps pushing him, faster, and a little more urgent.

The friction is delicious, even more so when Itadori’s hands cling around his neck, his mouth on Satoru’s temple, making noises right next to his ear.

“Yuji” Satoru calls him when he feels him close.

“Yeah- ah

“Look at me”

Itadori does, albeit he has difficulty focusing his eyes.

“You can come, Yuji,” Satoru encourages him.

“Fghhn” Is what comes out of Itadori’s pretty mouth, and Satoru would like to just dip his fingers inside it, see how far they can go.

Come,” He says again, close to his ear, and Itadori stills, holds himself taut for a few seconds, and his eyes glue themselves to Satoru’s.

“That’s it, let me see you”

Satoru gives him that final push over the edge.

It’s a wonderful thing to watch him come, his hands gripping Satoru’s shoulders, hard.

“Satoru” Itadori mutters, going boneless in seconds, releasing all the breath out of him in one go.

“Good boy” Satoru praises, and lets him come down from it, slowly.

It’s a minute or so later that Itadori looks up at him, curious.

“What about you? Can I-“

“Don’t worry about me. Do what feels natural, hm?”

Itadori blinks, pulls himself up. “I want to” He says, closing his eyes, his hands cupping Satoru’s head, bringing their foreheads together.

He starts moving again, and Satoru is still hard, so the friction gets him back on track right away.

“You’re such a good boy, Yuji,” Satoru tells him, kissing his mouth, sucking on his lips.

“You like saying that” Itadori huffs between breaths. He pushes a bit harder against Satoru, dragging it as he goes.

“That’s because you like hearing it~”

Itadori opens his eyes. “I do?”

“Mhm. You get all warm, and your eyes go big and shiny” Satoru mouths on his ear, pulling him closer, rubbing their groins together. “You love it when I praise you~”

Itadori’s hands slip in his hair, and he gasps, sweaty and feverish against Satoru.

“You’re- too much, sometimes,” He says, and Satoru feels himself getting there.

“Give me your mouth” He tells him, and Itadori complies, his tongue poking out a little for Satoru to swallow.

It’s kind of desperate, just like the friction Itadori provides, and it’s only a few more seconds of that before Satoru comes, feeling it zing up his spine, go down in his toes.

 

He holds on to Itadori a little longer, after it’s over.

Chapter Text

Satoru knows it’s time.

The time on his phone says so, and Itadori’s face says the same thing.

“Are you nervous?” Satoru asks him, in the waning light of his dorm room.

Itadori sits beside him, fidgeting with the cube, his legs touching Satoru’s on the couch.

“I’m just- It’s been a while” He says, quietly. “I don’t even know what to tell him”

Satoru laughs.

Itadori startles, looks at him with a confused frown.

“You do realize, you’re having this conversation with him? With me, right?”

Itadori’s mouth opens, his eyebrows raising. “Ah,” He says, blinking. “You’re right”

“This is so strange,” He adds.

“Not any more than curses are,” Satoru tells him, taking Itadori’s hand with the cube in his own.

“And still,” Itadori looks like something is sitting on the tip of his tongue. In his eyes. Something he won’t or can’t tell Satoru.

Not now.

“We have a lot of catching up to do, don’t we?” Satoru asks him lightly.

Itadori smiles a little, nostalgic. “You could say so, yeah”

Then his mouth turns down, his eyebrows furrow. It’s a painful grimace, a reminder that there’s a lot that Satoru doesn’t know about him.

“Yuji” Satoru grabs him by the back of his head, making sure Itadori follows his eyes for this.

“It’ll be fine, hm? Whatever you have to tell me, I won’t come to hate you. So make sure to tell me everything when you get back, yeah?”

Itadori gulps, blinking rapidly. He keeps trying to avoid Satoru’s straightforward gaze.

Satoru shakes him a little, pulling him closer.

“Look at me. Tell me you’re getting this. I won’t be mad with you, no matter what, got it!?”

Itadori does look. The grimace is still there, twisting his mouth, quickening his pulse.

“I get it” He says quietly.

Satoru brushes a thumb over his mouth, presses down on it until it loosens.

“Then stop looking like that. You’re overthinking”

Itadori closes his eyes, takes in a slow, deep breath. He releases it in increments.

“Ok” He tells himself.

“Whenever you feel ready, we can go” Satoru says, and Itadori grabs his hand this time, pulls him in until Satoru is the one sitting in his lap.

“Let’s just stay a little longer, yeah?”

“I’m not going anywhere~”

He’s not. Itadori is the one leaving soon.

Satoru curls himself around him, nuzzling his temple, his neck. He tells himself he’ll remember Itadori’s scent, even months from now.

He smells clean and comforting, like rain showers in summers. A bit like clean soap, cursed energy, and teenage boy.

A bit like a very faraway home.

-

Nanami finds them, knocking on the still open door to Satoru’s room.

He doesn’t say anything so Yaga must’ve filled him in. Itadori smiles at him, and Nanami nods but he’s restraining a smile of his own.

Dorks.

Satoru walks ahead, because he’s feeling a little spiky, now that he’s not alone with Itadori anymore. He’s not gonna be a brat about this. Letting him leave sucks, it sucks really bad, but there’s no other way to go about it. Satoru thinks he did a pretty good job on acting mature about it, anyway. He can at least sulk in his own head.

He stomps into Yaga’s office only to be pushed back out.

“Not here” Yaga says, shoo-ing him along and heading for what seems to be the classroom where Itadori first materialized in their midst.

“What difference does it make?” Satoru grumbles.

Nanami and Itadori are talking quietly behind him and Satoru opens the door with his foot.

Yaga bonks him over the head. “Don’t be a brat,” He says, joining the other students who are already inside. “My office is too small for all of you,” He explains.

Suguru and Shoko smile in Satoru’s direction, waving. Haibara joins Itadori and Nanami, excited. Satoru is pretty sure he can see flowers in his background.

“You know what to do?” Yaga asks him, and Satoru scoffs.

“Duh”

“Great. Then let’s get it over with. Itadori”

“Yes!” Itadori says, alert, already heading Satoru’s way. He pulls out the cube, carefully. “What do I do?” He asks Satoru.

“Hold it in your palm,” Satoru says, bringing the rope out.

Itadori’s hand shakes, and the cube stares at them, with that perpetually disinterested look. Satoru wraps the black rope around it, twice on each side, watches its creepy tendrils cut into its surface, a never ending length of cursed rope.

“Don’t let go of it when I pull” Satoru warns and Itadori nods, such a serious look on his face.

Satoru wraps it one more time and looks at Itadori, showing him three fingers which he closes, one by one.

And he pulls!

The cube starts shaking, as the rope swallows it whole, almost, like a swamp of cursed energy. Itadori holds on to it as the length of the rope gets shorter and shorter, the eyes of the cube closing one by one.

Satoru can see the way it weighs on him, and waits just a little longer.

“Let go, now!” He tells him, and Itadori does, a loud bang as the cube hits the floor like a sack of bricks. It trembles in place, turning pitch black and cracking at the corners.

Satoru isn’t watching the thing. He’s watching Itadori instead, whose breath is being held in the back of his throat, his eyes focused and staring.

“We need to move!” Satoru tells him, and pulls him away. The rest of them are doing the same, and he notices that Yaga did instruct them to pull all the furniture to the side, so there will be plenty of space.

They wait at the back of the classroom for the cube to fully crack.

It makes no noise but the energy around it is buzzing unpleasantly, and it wobbles in place, once, twice, as if struggling against the rope.

Then it cracks for real, and big chunks of fleshy walls come apart from it, elongating, until something becomes visible in the middle of their cursed grip.

Satoru recognizes himself the moment he’s unsealed.

Taller, older, a blindfold over his eyes, crouched on the floor, tendrils of fleshy things falling away from his body, like disgusting chunks of actual meat.

Gojo Satoru, the future version of him, stands there in silence, for too long, only getting up to his feet.

Itadori freezes at the sight of him, just 6 feet apart. His face does this thing, going through so many emotions at once, as if it can't decide if it should settle on relief or incredulity. There's tears coming down his nose, pooling in the corners of his mouth.

He's still and silent but tense, like a bow about to be released.

He's just standing there.

Satoru pushes him.

"Go" He says, and Itadori's feet literally fly off the floor, light as a feather, running with the speed of light towards his teacher.

Gojo turns to him, then, and his stoic mouth stretches wide into a grin, holding his arms open for Itadori to come to him.

"Yuuji!"

Itadori jumps.

Gojo catches him around his thighs, letting them wrap tight around his waist. He spins him around, laughing in that annoying way that Satoru knows it grates on people’s ears. Itadori's hands squeeze around his neck, his face buried in Gojo's left cheek.

"Sensei!" His voice is so bright in that moment, like he’s a completely different person.

"Sensei, Sensei, you're here!!" He laughs, incredulous, choking on tears, shaking with them.

“Did you miss me, Yuji?~” Future Gojo asks, and Satoru watches as Itadori struggles to make words between his tears and laughter.

Satoru knew it would be interesting to see them, but- look at them!

The others are also watching, but he’s not looking to check the expressions on their faces.

“I did!” Itadori says earnestly, sounding so much younger.

“I really missed you, Sensei,” He says, and Satoru guesses there’s still a certain distinction in Itadori’s mind, when it comes to the two versions of Gojo Satoru.

“I missed my favourite student too!” Gojo spins him around a few more times, before he puts him down to take him in, properly.

Itadori’s eyes are glued to him, making no attempt to put any distance between them.

“Look at you, you’ve grown” Gojo says, but there’s an edge of sadness in his wonder, something that Satoru knows only because it’s him.

Gojo palms Itadori’s head, scrutinizing him, and Itadori’s eyes are so big in his face, filled with wonder at having his teacher back.

“Sensei” Itadori says, his hand coming up to grab Gojo’s sleeve.

Welcome back”

It sounds so honest, and a little too raw. Itadori gulps back tears of happiness, and Gojo catches the wetness on the tip of his thumb.

He pulls down his blindfold, and there’s a smile, an honest smile, sketching his face.

“I’m back, Yuji” He says quietly, pulling him into a hug.

Itadori goes easily.

And he laughs.

And he cries.

Satoru feels strange in his chest, watching the whole thing.

He’s laughing too, because it really is weird, watching your future self steal the entire attention of the guy who travelled back in time to save your ass from a cursed cube.

Huh.

It sounds even more idiotic when he says it like this.

Yaga coughs, and Satoru turns to look at the rest of them. So does the other Gojo.

“Satoru… long time no see” He says, awkwardly.

“Yaga-“ Gojo looks at him but his eyes slide to the rest of the people in the room. They stop on Suguru, Satoru notices, and they look horrified, then just as quickly, pained.

It’s a ‘blink and you miss’ glance.

Satoru doesn’t want to see that from him. He stomps over to them, and Gojo blinks in his direction.

Satoru kicks him in the shins, hard.

“Oi, shithead! You’ve got an excuse for all this?!” He demands, loudly.

“Wow. A mini-me!” Gojo says, his arm relaxed over Itadori’s shoulder. “Yuji, what have you been getting up to?~”

Itadori scratches his cheek, smiling, but he’s taking a long time to word it, and Satoru’s pissed.

“He travelled back in time, to save your poor ass! You better have a good reason for sticking in that fucking cube for so long” He says, getting all up in Gojo’s face.

Itadori looks between them, confused.

“Oh?” Gojo says, his mouth pulled in a way that says he’s analyzing things. “It does seem like it” He muses, looking at the other people in the room.

“I don’t remember being such a rude brat, though~” He says, so Satoru kicks him again.

“Stop evading the question, bastard!”

Itadori frowns, shifting uncomfortably under Gojo’s arm on his shoulder.

Satoru hates to bring that look on his face but this is between him and well- him.

God, that’s so dumb!

“I’m serious, you shitty teacher!”

“I see that you are~” Gojo says, annoyingly playful.

Satoru kind of gets why people hate his personality at this moment.

“But it’s gonna have to wait. I’ve been in there for too long, do you really think I want to look at my own face right now? And have an argument with myself?”

Satoru feels a vein pop on his forehead.

He groans, frustrated.

“Ugh. Screw you!” He says, showing him the middle finger because he can.

He stomps to the back of the classroom. “This isn’t over, just so you know” He tells his older self, kicking a desk that’s in his way.

Itadori looks at him as if he grew another head. Gojo is frustratingly amused.

“Oh God, there’s two of them,” Yaga puts his head in his hand, mortified.

“My hair is going to fall off soon” Nanami says to no one. Haibara and Suguru laugh about it, like the idiots they are.

Just like that, the tension that Satoru was going for is dispelled, and he has no choice but to put that argument away for later.

-

Gojo Satoru from the future is hard to read, but Satoru knows himself.

He knows that fake smile, and the slight edge to his voice when he’s containing something. He knows how his eyes look when he’s carefully watching for details, why his mouth pulls the way it does.

It’s barely noticeable but it’s there.

The tension in his shoulders, the slight twitch in his hand. Gojo is talking with Nanami and Haibara, teasing them, making jokes.

But his eyes are strange.

He looks at Haibara like one would at a very old memory, and he ruffles Nanami’s hair like they are that familiar, and Gojo is his teacher or something.

“Such reliable students~” He says, beaming proudly at them.

“They really helped a lot, Sensei!” Itadori says. He’s calm now, but there’s an energy about him, something different.

“You’re so annoying, why did you come out?” Nanami slaps Gojo’s hand away, irritated.

“I’m hurt, Nanamin! Is that any way to talk to a teacher!?” Gojo holds his palm to his chest.

“Shoko, you’re much sexier in the future~” He tells her, and Shoko flips him off.

“And you’re an even bigger pain in the ass” She says around her cigarette.

“You guys are giving me a headache. Find me when you need to” Yaga says, heading for the door.

“Ever the spoiled brat,” Suguru says, hands in his pockets. He’s sitting on a desk, his eyes trained on the older Gojo like a hawk.

Gojo turns to him, and his face schools for a few moments into something unreadable. Even for Satoru himself.

“Suguru~” Gojo smiles then, stepping closer to him until their shoes touch. He bends a little at the waist, mirroring Suguru’s position with hands in his pockets. “Missed you too” He says, and there’s no lie in his voice. They hold eye contact for a long minute.

Suguru frowns.

Satoru concludes he may not be around in the future where Itadori comes from.

He doesn’t want to fathom such an idea.

“Who said I missed your dumb ass?” Suguru says, shoving him playfully.

Gojo laughs, and it’s natural to watch him taking Suguru in a headlock, messing his hair, getting elbows to his side in return. They scuffle around, and Gojo is still laughing, an irritated Suguru in his hold.

“You got even stronger, you little shit” Suguru finally extricates himself from Gojo’s hold, his hair loose and staticky.

“ ‘Course I did~” Gojo says vaguely, as Suguru ties his hair back up in a neat bun.

Itadori is looking at them like he knows what could come. He’s sad, though, frowning and looking a little at war with himself.

“Yuji?” Gojo turns to him, as if on instinct.

“Whuh?” Itadori says, looking up, and the expression is gone, just like that.

“Sensei wants to eat Yuji’s homemade cooking~”

“Uh, sure! I can make you something” Itadori says, already stepping towards the door.

Shoko looks at Suguru, making a weird face.

“Why’s he talking about himself in third person?”

Suguru shrugs, making a rude gesture by circling his forefinger around his ear.

Satoru shows him his tongue, and the middle finger in return.

Chapter Text

Satoru should probably give them some privacy at this point, but he’s not that noble.

He wants to see how Itadori takes this, and most of all, he hasn’t got much time left with him. Yaga did mention to Satoru that the elders are close to finding a way to send him back but somehow, that information just paled in comparison to the whole unsealing thing.

Or it could be that he just purposefully chose not to acknowledge it for real.

Somehow, he had convinced himself that if the unsealing isn’t happening any time soon, then he’d be here longer. At the same time, opening the prison realm was the equivalent of saying goodbye to Itadori.

Satoru can see it now.

It’s not like Itadori is ignoring him, but he’s- absorbed.

He follows the two of them to the kitchen, and Satoru sits on the table, keeping himself occupied with a lollipop while Gojo is, well, being a nuisance. Itadori is preparing ingredients, and chopping things, and Gojo is shamelessly in his space. He’s not touching him or anything, just sits on the counter, and stares at Itadori as he moves around the kitchen.

He stares because this Itadori is new to him, Satoru realizes.

Just like Satoru only knows of this version, Gojo from the future must be unfamiliar with him. It only serves to confirm Satoru’s suspicion that Itadori had been a very different person until recent events in his life.

“Sensei?”

Gojo has his blindfold back on as he answers. “Hm?”

Itadori tilts his head at him, curiously.

He’s cute.

“Are you ok?”

Gojo stills.

“Why would you ask?”

“Well- you’re very quiet. It’s so unlike you” Itadori taps the wooden spoon against his hand, once.

“I’m just watching Yuji. You’re very cute when you’re focused~”

Itadori’s ears burn red, and Gojo’s smirk is predictable.

“How long have you been here?” Gojo asks him, on a more serious note.

Itadori looks at Satoru then, and his face is warming up by the second. Probably remembering everything they did earlier.

“Ah- two months, I think. It took us a while to find the black rope without the elders knowing about it”

Gojo hums, giving Satoru a weird look. “Eh, so did you get friendly with my younger self?~” He asks, ever the evader.

Itadori turns back to his vegetables, chopping at them with too much dedication.

“We got along,” He says vaguely. “You’re just as bratty in every version, Sensei”

Gojo laughs, tilting his head at Itadori. “You had fun together, didn’t you?”

“We did~” Satoru says in Itadori’s place. “Yuji is a very good boy” He crosses his legs, leaning back.

Itadori splutters, choking on his own spit.

“He is, isn’t he? Did he make you pancakes?~ You haven’t lived until you taste those things!” Gojo is saying, a dreamy smile on his face.

Satoru guesses his sweet tooth is as strong as ever.

“Oh, but I did~” Satoru says, wiggling his eyebrows.

Gojo smiles at him, and even through the blindfold, they’re pretty much holding eye contact. Satoru never thought he’d get to the day where he’d be suspicious of himself.

“Did you now?” Gojo asks him, and he claps his hands.

Satoru knows that habit he has.

“Satoru?” Itadori asks him, and Satoru’s attention is distracted, just like that.

“Hm?”

“Are you eating with… us?” Itadori’s face does this thing, when he’s confused.

Something unfairly adorable.

“Duh” Satoru says, dropping into a chair after he turns it backwards. “Do you think I’d say no to your cooking, Itadori?”

“I guess not?” Itadori says, not seeing the compliment in Satoru’s question. “Ok, I admit. Sensei, this is weird!”

He looks at Gojo as he says it.

“Which part?” Gojo asks him.

“The- two of you part” Itadori frowns, nodding to himself. “Definitely the weirdest part!”

“One of me is already too much to handle, I know~” Gojo says, delighted.

Itadori looks at him, and his mouth opens, a bit of a daze coming over him.

“Yuji?” Gojo waves his hand in front of his face. “You’re burning the sauce”

“Gah!” Itadori fumbles, turning the heat down, and stirring the pot like his life depends on it, suddenly.

Satoru really wants to know what was going through his head, just now.

-

There was no way for all this spectacle to happen and for the elders not to notice it.

It’s like a giant circus clown, and the whole school is buzzing with the strange fact that they now have a Gojo Satoru who travelled from the future, to bring Itadori back into their timeline. Yaga had kept the mention of the cube tight between them, so that’s the official story going around.

They barely get to eat before the elders summon them to their lair, as Satoru calls it.

Paranoid mother fuckers.

Itadori doesn’t look as crisp as he did the first time they walked into this place, he notices. Gojo is walking by his side, laidback, making stupid jokes which Itadori looks immersed in. They have silly smiles on both their faces, and Gojo gestures widely.

Itadori’s eyes are big, attentive.

Like they’re not going to the devil’s lair, but a walk in the park.

Yaga looks at them like a parent would worry about their children misbehaving.

“Pay attention” He says, before they go in, and Gojo slides his hands into his pockets, his stance changing. He’s still relaxed but he’s also razor sharp, the way Satoru always feels when having to face these geezers.

“Oh my, there really are two of you” Wrinkly folds says as a form of greeting.

“The more the better~” Gojo says, smirking.

“A bigger headache, you mean,” Another elder comments, sighing.

“The dislike is mutual~” Gojo tells them, amused.

The elders grunt and frown, muttering amongst themselves. Satoru looks at Yaga, who seems a second away from slapping himself out of this chamber.

“You know why you’re here, don’t you?” Wrinkly folds cuts to the chase, crossing his arms.

I sure do, but I don’t think our views align on this yet” Gojo replies, tilting his head.

“You’re here because you, and that vessel over there have been messing around with this timeline as you please. You think you can just waltz in and out with that thing, whenever you wish to?” The elder sneers, spit flying from the side of his mouth.

Satoru bristles but Gojo looks unaffected.

“I intend to, yes” He says confidently.

Wrinkly is rising from his grandiose seat, hands flying about as he speaks.

“We were generous enough to let him live, even let him go on missions with your counterpart, but don’t think we’re going to make this easy for you!”

Satoru is not even surprised they ended up here. It was inevitable, really. These guys live for the drama, as always. He looks at Itadori, who is silent. He’s mostly following his teacher with the corner of his eye, though he tries to keep his gaze ahead.

“And what are you going to do about it?” Gojo asks, challenging them.

Yaga hisses at him, but he’s promptly ignored.

“We have observed him closely, and he’s beyond unstable! His control could slip any moment, and you have proven incapable of keeping him on a leash, given how you were sealed away in your original timeline, and he ended up here in the first place” Wrinkly is looking at Yaga next. “ Did you really think you could play this right under our noses? You have some nerve, Masamichi”

Well, it was worth a try.

“I felt it was the right thing to do, at the time” Yaga says, not sounding apologetic in the least. Satoru likes that about him, his honesty. “The boy had proven himself dedicated to helping the future world of jujutsu, and you all know that this world can’t survive without Gojo Satoru in it”

“That may be true, but they let it happen. If he’s here,” Wrinkly gestures to Gojo. “Then what about the future where they’re coming from? Isn’t it already doomed?!”

“I haven’t asked them the details of what happened. We can’t guess how us knowing might affect our future actions from now on, so I thought it best not to get into that”

Satoru agrees with this, as frustrating as it is. Besides, he’s not sure if knowing will fix anything. If this is the past, then everything is bound to happen either way.

Right?

“Well, which is it, boy? What kind of future are you coming from?” Wrinkly is looking straight at him, and the room fills with silence.

Itadori turns to his teacher, as if silently asking for permission to talk about this.

Gojo puts a hand on his head, watching the elders as he does so.

“It’s alright, Yuji. You can tell them”

The way Itadori is gazing up at Gojo, the look in his eyes, makes him look exactly like a kid. No older than eighteen, lost in a world of curses and executions, confused, tried and tested by everything around him, but still standing. Only a student, clinging to the safety of his teacher’s presence.

Because he is a kid. They both are, Satoru is reminded.

“Ok. Yeah” He says, nodding before turning to address the elders.

“To tell you frankly, it’s bad. Sensei’s sealing led to an infestation of curses through the entirety of Japan, and we have been isolated from the rest of the world. Master Tengen’s barrier is keeping them from carrying outside of Japan territory, but that’s all that we have left. The one who unsealed Gojo-sensei has brought upon an age of curses and sorcerers, who incarnated into the future, due to pacts they made hundreds of years ago. All this in order for them to engage into a culling game, something that gives normal humans the chance of using their cursed energy, the way a sorcerer would. I don’t- understand all the technical details of how it happened, but I can tell you humanity was screwed over, badly.

There’s silence as even Gojo is looking at Itadori, finding this out for the first time.

Satoru imagined something really ugly, but not this.

Not an age of curses, of all things.

Then the muttering and the shocked whispers start, predictably. Yaga looks at Satoru, and they frown at each other.

“Who sealed Gojo Satoru?” Wrinkly talks over the agitation in the room.

“He calls himself Kenjaku. He’s- we don’t know who exactly he is, only that he once possessed the body of Noritoshi Kamo. His technique allows him to change the brains of sorcerers at will, taking over their bodies. Now he’s- inhabiting somebody else” Itadori frowns, but doesn’t elaborate.

Satoru really doesn’t want to think of who that body belongs to, now.

“Do you know the one he’s inhabiting?”

“No. I’ve never met him before” Itadori says, and it’s clear to both Satoru, and future Gojo that he’s lying. Even though Itadori is a bad liar, at this moment, he’s calm, and looking straight at them, not once averting his eyes.

Like he’s protecting something by not telling the truth.

Gojo looks at Itadori, frowning. Satoru wants to take them both out of here, and demand they spill the truth.

Only, he’s afraid to find out.

It tears at him, in two opposite directions.

“Whatever you decide my punishment should be, Gojo-Sensei needs to go back to the future. I will remain behind if that’s what it takes”

Satoru turns to Itadori so fast, his neck cramps.

What the fuck is he saying?!

“That is true,” An elder is saying. “Gojo Satoru is needed in the future, but we have no use for you, do we? How many fingers did you consume?”

“Fifteen,” Itadori says, a frown on his face.

“And did you stay sane, despite it?”

“…Sukuna took over. He- killed a lot of people before I regained control”

Itadori’s voice is pained, his mouth twisted in something ugly, and filled with self hatred.

He looks at Gojo, then, and Satoru hates that look on his face.

I’m sorry, Sensei. I wasn’t strong enough”

Gojo looks back, his mouth in a straight line, not giving anything away.

Then he smiles, and pulls Itadori under his arm, his eyes on the elders.

“Sorry, but I’m taking him back. He’s not staying here” Gojo tells them.

Itadori’s breath hitches, and he looks stiff, surprised.

“You’re not the one who gets to decide that. He’s a murderer!” Wrinkly protests.

Gojo holds Itadori close, and the difference in their ages is suddenly apparent to Satoru. As childish as his adult self still is, and as strong as Itadori acts for his age, at this moment, Itadori depends entirely on Gojo’s protection.

He has been, all this time, Satoru remembers.

He forgot about that, what with Itadori acting like it was normal, to be sentenced for execution wherever he goes.

“Oh, but I am~” Gojo says, lightly. His voice changes abruptly, though ” You’re not killing him, not unless you want me to destroy this past, before the future even catches up with you old farts”

He’s not joking.

The silence is just the pin about to detonate a bomb, Satoru knows.

And he’s always been the one to pull the pins.

“You were right, dealing with the both of us is an even bigger pain in the ass,” Satoru says, stepping closer to Itadori and Gojo. “Itadori Yuji will leave this place unharmed, and I’m pretty sure you won’t have any objections, hm?~”

Yaga face-palms, all diplomacy be damned.

Itadori looks back and forth from Satoru to his older self, a little confused, a little wary of the tension in the room.

Satoru smiles at him, all teeth.

“Don’t worry, Yuji. You have the strongest men on your side~” He tells him, confident.

He’s relishing in the tension, excitement coursing through his veins.

This is fun!

“How dare you-“ The elders argue among them, argue with them, but Satoru’s ears tune them out. He’s the luckiest bastard in the world, if he gets somebody like Itadori Yuji devoted to him like this, and hell if he isn’t going to abuse all the powers of heaven and below, to keep him at his side.

Satou had never considered his selfishness a fault.

It’d be foolish of him, not to use such power to keep the things that most matter. Itadori Yuji did the same thing for Satoru, with the hounds of hell at his heels, no influence, no guarantee that he will be living another day after his unsealing. Satoru owes him this much.

“Silence!” Wrinkly says, stabbing his iron cane against the concrete floor as hard as it would go. At once, the voices dwindle, albeit some muttering can still be heard.

“Gojo Satoru, your insolence knows no bounds! Mark my words, one day, this excessive pride will be the end of you. We will let the boy go back to your original timeline- however, on one condition!” The elder pauses, making sure everyone is listening.

“Show us you can restrain Ryomen Sukuna, right here and now!”

Itadori freezes, a wild look on his face. His eyes grow so big they’re about to bulge out of his head.

“No,” He mutters, quietly.

“What’s that, boy?” Wrinkly raises a condescending eyebrow in Itadori’s direction.

“No, please, I don’t- “ He shakes himself free from Gojo’s arm, stiff and defensive.

“I haven’t let him out since Shibuya, I don’t know what will happen-”

“That is exactly why we need to do this. If Gojo Satoru can’t handle him- “

Itadori interrupts the elder, trepidation in his voice. “Then what?! Are you saying we’ll just risk everything?”

“Yuji” Gojo says, calm, focusing on Itadori’s rising panic. “You forget one thing. There’s two of me. And one more sorcerer who is just as strong as my younger self. Don’t you have faith in Sensei?~”

“I do. I trust you with my life, but I’m- scared” Itadori’s voice drifts away, quietly. He frowns at the floor, scrunching his eyes up, balling his fists “He’s been itching to fight you since I came here and I’m- not sure what he’s planning”

“Has he, now?” Gojo asks, intrigued. He takes the few remaining steps between them, stopping close to Itadori, nose to nose, analyzing him as if he can see The King of Curses right through him. “Well, I’ve been getting itchy in that prison realm too, so I get the feeling. Come out and play, Little King~”

The elders are silent, watching their interaction closely, and Satoru would be lying if he said he’s not interested to see this fight. Itadori goes cross-eyed, looking at Gojo this close. He blinks, and in the next second, there’s a mouth popping on his face, and two sets of eyes opening from the slits in his cheeks.

Ryomen Sukuna.

“You have some nerve, Six Eyes, calling me little,” The king of curses says, amused.

Itadori moves as if to slap him away but Gojo grabs his hand, holding it in place.

“What can I say, I live for the danger,” Gojo says, delighted.

“Let’s put on a show, then. Switch with me, brat. I’ve been bored to death here with your silly nightmares, and nothing but bones for company”

Itadori is silent, looking at his teacher, still unsure about going through with it. Gojo takes off his blindfold, releasing Itadori’s hand.

“Trust me, Yuji. It’ll be fine,” He says, looking into Itadori’s eyes.

Satoru watches him curiously.

“Ok” Itadori says, after a long moment has passed.

“Atta boy~” Gojo pats his head, a big smile on his face.

Somehow, it’s like he’s patting The King of Curses, as one would an obedient dog, Satoru thinks, and snorts.

It’s entertaining.

“Now?” Itadori says, and looks around the room.

“Are you jesting, boy? They’d be destroying this place in a second” An elder scoffs.

Itadori blinks innocently in realization “Oh, right

“You’ll go outside. I’ll be the judge of this fight” Wrinkly says, getting up, and gesturing for them to get out.

Satoru watches as Sukuna’s eyes and mouth disappear from Itadori’s face, anticipation settling in his bones.

Chapter Text

Word spreads like fire, and whatever staff and students are still around the school, they gather around outside. By the time they reach the open grounds, Satoru can see all of them talking amongst themselves, some anxious, some intrigued. It’s a shitshow, of course.

The rest of the elders stayed behind and only Wrinkly followed them out.

Cowards, the whole lot of them.

“Yo!” Satoru says to Suguru, who’s been silently watching them as they exited the school.

“What’s going on?” Suguru asks him.

“Exactly what you heard. They’re making Itadori release Sukuna, to prove the older me can still handle him”

“Are they serious?” Suguru arches an eyebrow at Itadori and Gojo.

The elder is still saying something, which Satoru fails to pay attention to.

“Yep. Dead serious. If they don’t do this, they won’t let Itadori go back”

Suguru frowns, looking at Satoru. “Are you ok with this?”

“Which part?” Satoru asks him, not taking his eyes off Itadori. He’s putting a safe distance between him and Gojo, not that it will make much of a difference.

“You’re right, I wouldn’t know where to start. It’s all fucked up, really” Suguru laughs, sounding resigned to the shitshow that is their lives as sorcerers.

“Yep. But this, I want to see~” Satoru tells him, a wide grin taking over his face. Suguru is probably frowning at him for it, but who cares.

“Of course you would” He sighs, and as Satoru takes a step closer to Itadori and Gojo, Suguru pulls him back by the neckline of his uniform. “At least don’t stick your nose in the line of fire, idiot. Stay here”

Satoru pulls. Suguru pulls back.

“Let me go, Suguru!”

“Nope”

Let me go-

“Yuuji!” Gojo calls, and Satoru stills, perking up. “Just like the last time, but make it 15 seconds, then you can switch back, hm?~”

“Got it!” Itadori says. Satoru notices he took off his jacket at some point.

Gojo rolls his neck, more for the hell of it than anything else.

Itadori closes his eyes, and it’s less than three seconds before he opens them again.

“You better not disappoint me, Six Eyes!” Sukuna says, and proceeds to rip the clothes off of Itadori’s body, leaving him bare chested, wearing just pants, and displaying an impressive amount of black marks.

Damn, though.

Itadori looks better than he imagined, without a shirt on.

Before Satoru blinks, he’s gone, rounding on Gojo like a flash of light.

Gojo sidesteps him, clapping his hands as he does so, moving further from Satoru’s range of hearing. Sukuna follows him, a resounding crash in the distance.

They soon come back, a disaster of falling trees in their wake, and a whole crater in the ground where Sukuna tries to pummel Gojo’s face in.

Suguru whistles beside him but Satoru doesn’t turn to see him.

“Your strength has increased, indeed~” Gojo is saying, just as Sukuna slams into him, full force. He’s promptly pushed back, though, and he spins mid-air, landing on a boulder.

He kicks the damn thing straight in the direction of the onlookers, who scramble to the sides as it crashes around them.

“I see you’ve brought the monkeys for the show. That’s great, I’ll just kill all of them!” Sukuna says, making a go at the closest people around him.

He’s heading straight for Shoko and Nanami.

Satoru moves before he thinks, parrying his clawed hand with his leg, and throwing him back. It’s not as easy as he wants it to look, though.

“Aren’t you getting ahead of yourself?” Gojo asks him, right as he slams Sukuna’s face into the ground. It lasts all of three seconds before Sukuna flips him off, and they twist mid-air, his leg attempting to kick Gojo in the side.

When that fails, a rush of energy passes them by, felling all the trees within a two mile radius.

“Why shouldn’t I? I’m enjoying myself!” He grins, a twisted expression that looks horrible, and so wrong on Itadori’s face.

“Nine~” Gojo says in response.

“He’s not coming back, you know?” Sukuna’s stance changes, his right hand pulling back, the left one stretching before him, two fingers closed. “Only when you crawl on the ground, heaving your last breaths, I’ll consider letting him out for a bit” He grins, his eyes rolling in the back of his head. “Just to hear him beg me to heal you, like he did with Yoshino Junpei! You should have seen him, begging a curse for help, offering himself up for a pact, like a lamb for slaughter!”

Itadori would, wouldn’t he?

Satoru loathes these snippets of information being thrown at him.

“Twelve~” Gojo continues.

“It will be fun, watching him freeze in terror like that” A flame manifests from his hand then, twisting and flickering. “Maybe I’ll keep one of you alive, long enough to torture him a little” He laughs.

“Fifteen”

Satoru tenses.

Sukuna’s flame snuffs out, just as he is about to release it.

In his place, Itadori blinks, coming back to himself. He looks surprised to be there, and he glances around at the disaster they’ve left behind.

“Welcome back, Yuji~” Gojo says, and there is the slightest hint of relief in his voice.

“Sensei- it worked. I’m back!” Itadori looks himself over, then makes a face. “That bastard! He ruined my clothes again!”

“I think he might be a real pervert,” Gojo laughs, heading for Itadori as he speaks. “Good job, Yuji!”

He offers a high five, and Itadori takes it, a big smile on his face. None of them is as relieved as Itadori at this moment, most likely. Although, looking at the people around them, it’s a wonder nobody shit their pants yet. The crowd had lessened considerably while Satoru wasn’t looking. Only four other people present, aside from the ones who helped them find the rope.

There’s the sound of clapping then, a slow, lazy thing. Satoru turns to the elder. He’s walking over to Gojo and Itadori. His clapping feels like a mockery.

“Congrats, you managed not to kill us all. I guess you can go back into your timeline, then” He says, his cane resting between his torso and left arm.

“How generous of you~” Gojo tells him.

Yaga appears out of nowhere, a hand on Gojo’s shoulder.

“He means to say we’re grateful for the chance you’ve given us” He corrects, probably squeezing Gojo’s shoulder in warning. There is something though, like a strange slip of space holding his hand at the barest distance from Gojo’s actual shoulder.

Satoru had noticed it earlier too, when Gojo was fighting Sukuna. It must be something to do with infinity, he guesses.

“I know what he means. You’d kill us all if you didn’t care about a few people in this crowd, don’t think I didn’t get the clue. I want you two out of here before the week is over, you’ve brought enough disaster to last us a decade”

“We’d be glad to, if you know how” Gojo smiles then, and Yaga’s hand slides off from his shoulder.

“It’ll be easier to send you back, now that there’s two of you”

“Great!” Gojo throws him a thumbs up. “When do we start?”

“Tomorrow. Clean up this mess, while you’re at it” Wrinkly walks off as he says this, already washing his hands of them.

Bastard.

-

It’s amazing to watch the way Itadori acts around his future self.

Satoru can’t take his eyes off him, if he tried.

Itadori is very- responsive, is the word, to everything Gojo does.

Satoru had been paying attention to all the small changes since Gojo’s been unsealed. He’s paying attention now, as they head back into the school. By all means, Itadori should still be guarded, and wary of everything around him.

A part of him still is.

Gojo walks close to him, though, and Itadori’s shoulders are relaxed, for once.

When he speaks, he’s more animated, less restrained. His eyes look alive, for the first time since he came here. He doesn't zone out, doesn’t get pulled in by the thoughts in his head. He’s fully present, attentive of his teacher’s presence by his side.

And why wouldn’t he?

Satoru shouldn’t be surprised, but he kind of is. Even if Itadori had wordlessly shown him the extent to which his devotion goes for Gojo Satoru, seeing it from the outside is almost like a strange dream.

Itadori retrieves his jacket from the kitchen, and Satoru hangs back, Suguru by his side.

“You still have that old thing?” Gojo is asking him, and Itadori puts it on, turns to him, as if surprised to see him there.

“Yeah. I patch it up every now and then. Been through some nasty fights with it”

Gojo hums, thumbing a button on the red hoodie. Itadori follows the movement, a bit of a blush rising on the tip of his ears.

“You like it that much? I’m pretty sure I can still order a new one for you. This one’s pretty much done for”

“Maybe, but I’ll still wear it. Might be silly of me, but it reminds me of the good days, ya know?” Itadori looks up at Gojo, smiling. It’s not a sad smile. It shows his teeth, all honesty, and simple fondness for the memories he made with the people he met in the jujutsu world.

“I see now” Gojo says, and he zips up Itadori’s jacket, ruffling his hair at the end.

As he walks off, Itadori sprints after him, a genuine contented expression on his face.

He’s softer around the edges, Satoru concludes, and feels good about it.

-

Tomorrow, the shitty elder had said.

Tomorrow they will try to send Itadori and Gojo back into their future, and if it works-

If it works, that’s it, really.

Satoru walks in a daze, a frown on his face, and the insistent pressure of a headache on the left side of his temple. Suguru is not saying anything, and maybe that’s for the best. He’s not sure where they’re going, since this day rattled him around, made him angry, excited and curious, and left him feeling resigned.

Maybe he should get some rest or something.

Ha!

Right.

“Satoru- “ Suguru starts but stops, probably swallowing something useless.

He puts his arm around Satoru’s shoulder instead, and Satoru doesn’t shake him off. He slumps a bit of his weight on Suguru, and they walk a little slower, in mutual silence.

It’s a pretty aimless walk, really.

They’re rounding a corner when Itadori pops out of nowhere, hands in the pockets of his pants, looking like he’s been waiting there for a while.

“Satoru,” He tilts his head with a smile.

“Miss me already?~” Satoru jokes but he’s not feeling it, really.

Itadori lifts himself off the wall. “Yeah, actually”

Satoru blinks, straightening up a little.

“How bold, Yuji!” He makes no attempt to extricate himself from Suguru though.

He might be sulking a little.

“Will you go out with me today?” Itadori asks him.

Satoru fails to react in time, because Suguru pushes him right into Itadori.

“Go, idiot” He says, heading back to where they came from, waving his hand with his back to them.

Satoru watches him go for a few moments.

Does he think he’s cool, or something?

“Are you asking me on a date, Itadori?”

“I’m pretty sure you asked me first. I’m just holding you to it” Itadori says, his smile doing unfair things to Satoru’s bloodstream.

“Aagh, I’m holding you responsible for this shit, Itadori! My head’s a fucking mess!” Satoru groans, messing his own hair in frustration.

“Eh? Wait, what? What’d I do?” Itadori flails his hands around, looking confused.

Satoru laughs, pulling him along by the hood, suddenly energized.

“Think a little harder, you’ll get it~” He tells him.

“I don’t get it!” Itadori says, tripping behind him.

Satoru stops abruptly, turning just in time for Itadori to slam into him. He catches him around the shoulders, squeezing him tight, and nuzzles his hair. Itadori relaxes against him, and Satoru’s growing headache is dwindling. He sighs in relief.

Damn it, how the heck will he last 12 years before he sees him again?

Satoru squeezes him harder, probably too hard, but Itadori doesn’t protest. Instead, his hands come up to press against Satoru’s back.

“I think I get it,” He says quietly.

It’s a bit of a long hug.

-

Ijichi drives them into town, because Itadori somehow charmed him into it, without even trying.

It’s close to evening, and it’s been a long ass day already, but Satoru would forgo sleep if he has to. He’s not missing out on a date with Itadori.

“Ah, I have no idea what movies are airing now. What year is this?” Itadori says, out of nowhere.

Satoru stares at him.

“You’re seriously asking me this, now?!” He laughs, because Itadori is being ridiculous.

“Uh, yeah. It’s, what, 2006?” Itadori frowns, thinking.

“Bin-Go!” Satoru says, still laughing.

He makes fun of Itadori while they find the cinema because he loves those faces he makes when Satoru teases him.

When they get there, the mall is fairly empty, what with it being a weekday. It’s nearly five by the time they decide what movie to watch.

Poltergay!?” Itadori says incredulously, lifting his eyebrows in a comical way, and looking at Satoru to confirm if he read that right.

What?” Satoru says, looking at the movie presentation. It’s supposed to be a comedy about a haunted basement, which used to be a gay night club before it burned down. “Imagine being haunted by gay ghosts! Oh no!”

“In french!” Itadori says, laughing. “What the hell?”

“Might be fun,” Satoru says, scrunching his nose dubiously. “If ridiculous does it for you?”

“Dunno about the french part” Itadori comments, searching for the next presentation. “Ah, this one’s great!” He says, pointing.

The Illusionist?” Satoru reads the premise but it doesn’t give much away. “Feel like romance?~” He asks, wiggling his eyebrows.

“Hmm, not particularly, but anything we watch is cool with me,” Itadori says, grinning in Satoru’s direction. Really, Satoru wishes he’d have seen those expressions sooner on him.

“Aren’t you a charmer?~” He teases.

Itadori shoves him playfully with his shoulder. It’s something he wouldn’t have done before Gojo’s unsealing. It’s becoming clear, the burden that’s being lifted from his shoulders, now that his teacher is back.

Satoru has a hard time conceiving the fact that this is basically his future self he’s thinking of.

This whole thing is way too strange, even for him.

“Ah! Look, Itadori!” Satoru says from behind him, grabbing his head, and turning it towards the poster in question. “Time travel!”

Itadori reads the title and laughs. “I didn’t know The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was released in cinemas” His head turns in Satoru’s hands until he’s looking at him upside down. “It’s a good movie, but a little sad”

Satoru hums, his shades slipping past his nose. “ ‘The Yuji Who Leapt Through Time’ would be a good movie. I’d probably memorize it by heart. Especially that steamy scene~” He says, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.

Itadori blushes, his mouth opening but Satoru’s glasses slip too far down his nose, bonking Itadori’s forehead in the process. They fall on the floor, followed by a dull thunking sound.

“Ah!” Itadori pulls back, rubbing at his forehead.

Satoru blinks in surprise for a moment before they look at each other, and one of them bursts into laughter first. Satoru doesn’t know which one, but they laugh until his tummy hurts, and he has to bend down in an attempt to stop gasping.

“Oh- your face!” He says, wiping tears from the corner of his eyes. “It was- I wanna do that again!”

“What the heck- was that?” Itadori says between guffaws. He’s leaning on Satoru’s shoulder, bending to pick up his shades.

“Ok. ok. Stop- stop laughing. It hurts” Satoru is still laughing though, and so is Itadori.

It takes them about three minutes to calm down.

“Here” Itadori says, once he’d decent again. He slips the shades back in Satoru’s hair, but fails to slip them over his eyes. He just stands there, staring.

“Mm, I have a better idea” Satoru tells him, pulling him in by the belt loops.

Itadori goes easily, their noses touching.

“Are you getting lost in my eyes, Yuuji?~”

He can’t help it, really.

“That would be so lame if you didn’t have such pretty eyes,” Itadori snorts, his breath over Satoru’s lips.

He’s standing on his tiptoes, Satoru realizes.

“No pick up line is lame coming from me~” Satoru tells him confidently, and Itadori gives a short laugh.

“Where are you trying to get with this?”

Satoru kisses him, because that’s simple.

He forgets they’re in public, forgets Itadori is leaving, not to be seen for another 12 years, forgets they’re sorcerers, and that he’s the strongest man on earth.

In this moment, he’s just a teenager with a big ass crush on the most adorable guy he’s ever met, and it’s fucking mutual!

“This,” Satoru mumbles, shamelessly kissing the hell out of his mouth.

Itadori is a mushy pile of goo by the time Satoru releases him, and he grins, smug, and a little exhilarated.

“Your face looks manic,” Itadori tells him, licking his already wet lips.

“Let’s pick that movie~” Satoru winks, pushing Itadori back into their forgotten task.

In the end, it’s a comedy they go for, because they’ve had enough drama to last them for years. It’s another two hours before the movie starts so they have to waste time until then.

Satoru drags Itadori away, with a purpose in mind.

“What’s the hurry?” Itadori asks, curious.

“I’m a man of my word, Yuji. I promised you silly glasses, didn’t I?” Satoru says, brandishing his hands in the direction of a colorful shop with souvenirs, and all kinds of quirky trinkets.

“Oh” Itadori says, remembering. “You did, yeah” He smiles wide.

They step in, followed by the upbeat music that’s in trend at the time, and Satoru looks around. There’s so many toys, and stupid stuff. When he turns, Itadori is already taken with some weird plastic spoon strainers shaped like dinosaurs.

“Look, Satoru! It’s adorable!” He brandishes a green long-neck at him.

“I should’ve figured you’d be into this kind of stuff~” Satoru says.

“Haha, they’re really cute”

“How about this, Yuji? A bubble whale machine!”

“Ah, I’d totally buy that!” Itadori says, now holding what looks like a squishy pastel melon in hand.

Satoru wanders around, searching for something in particular.

The shop doesn’t disappoint.

“I think this would look good on you” He tells Itadori, holding the thing behind his back as he approaches him. He puts it on his own head for display.

“Nyeow?~”

Itadori stills, his eyebrows rising into his hairline. He turns red suddenly, peeking at him from behind his hand. “Satoru. That’s- heart attack inducing” He groans.

“Eh? Are you into this? Should I buy them?” Satoru flicks the fluffy cat ears.

Itadori gulps. “Nope!”

“I shooould” Satoru teases, rounding on Itadori to slowly pull off his shades.

Itadori shakes his head no, fervently. “Please don’t. My nose will bleed”

“Yuuji, I didn’t know you’re so kinky~” Satoru puts his shades in his pocket, blinking wide eyes at Itadori, relishing the way his mouth opens, and he gapes uselessly.

“I bet I could make you do all kinds of things, right now” Satoru whispers in his ear, and Itadori pulls back, combusting.

Satoru laughs, filled with mirth, but he takes pity on him. “Let’s take a picture, hm?” He says, shoving a different pair of cat ears on Itadori’s head. He does look adorable. Satoru would probably be just as useless if Itadori would wear these around.

“You’re so mean,” Itadori sulks, crossing his arms. Satoru snaps the picture, and just to be a little shit, licks Itadori’s cheek, only to see him splutter in surprise.

Itadori looks overly confused and horny by the time Satoru’s done with taking pictures for fun.

“You’re just too much fun to tease” He tells him while Itadori busies himself with the rack of glasses.

“Didn’t we come in for these?” He says, picking up a ridiculous heart shaped pair the size of his head.

“We did~” Satoru agrees, sliding his face in the glasses Itadori’s holding. “They totally suit me, wouldn’t you say?”

“Perfectly!” Itadori humors him.

“Lemme pick some for you,” Satoru says, delighted.

He makes Itadori try on about four different pairs, one of which is a hot pink pair of plastic hands with polished nails. The Flamingos kind of suit him, but it isn’t until he finds a pair of yellow stars with orange lenses that it clicks.

“That’s it. This is the one!” Satoru spins him around, until they find the mirror again.

”Ta-daa~”

“They’re surprisingly not embarrassing,” Itadori says, making faces.

“You wound me, Yuji. I wouldn’t choose something like that”

“Uh, you totally would,” Itadori nods. “I like them, though!”

“Great, let’s buy them!” Satoru whoops, pushing him towards the checkout.

“Ah. Wait” Itadori says, and he quickly disappears from Satoru’s side.

He finds him again in the stuffed toys aisle, crouched on the floor in front of a big pile of grey dumplings.

Itadori surfaces and turns to him.

Totoro?” Satoru asks, recognizing the quirky thing he's holding.

“Uh, yeah. I’m getting this little guy” He grins.

“Are you going to cuddle it at night?~” Satoru jokes, unable to see Itadori’s eyes properly through the orange lenses of his sunglasses.

“Actually, it’s for you,” Itadori says, quietly. “Since I’m leaving and all that..” He trails off, looking to the side. “It’s dumb, I know. It’s fine if you don’t want it, but I wanted to-“

“Shush!” Satoru says, promptly shoving him out of the aisle, and straight to the checkout. “We’re getting these!” He says, crowding the sunglasses next to the cat ears, and a bunch of lollipops.

He looks at Itadori until his plush joins the pile.

 

“Thank you for shopping with us!” The cashier waves them off, and they are barely out the door before Satoru looks at Itadori expectantly.

“Well?!” He prompts, bouncing on his feet.

“Ah- right!” Itadori takes a few seconds to come back to himself, sliding the Totoro plush out of the bag, and pressing it in Satoru’s hands.

“I’m not giving it back!” Satoru warns, and wonders idly if by the time Gojo is back into the future, he’ll find a Totoro plush materialized into his bedroom, out of nowhere.

Itadori bumps his forehead on Satoru’s shoulder, and Satoru lets him stay there for a minute. Eventually, he looks up again, a tiny smile in the corner of his mouth. His scar pulls along with it.

“Wanna get popcorn?”

Chapter Text

The commercials are coming to an end, and the lights are turning off.

Satoru wonders if he’s going to pay attention at all, when all he can think of is doing things to Itadori, while he’s distracted.

“Ah, there’s this movie with a guy who turns his living room into a penguin nursery, you’d like that one” Itadori tells him, as he digs into his popcorn.

“Sounds like something you’d do,” Satoru tells him.

Itadori laughs quietly in his hand. “I guess?”

There’s a few people down the rows, probably four or five. They’re sitting at the very top because Satoru always likes it up here, and Itadori had no particular preference.

He leaves the popcorn to him, and unwraps a candy instead, slumping back into his seat. The beginning is rather dull, and he’s predictably distracted, bumping his leg into Itadori’s, whenever he slides out of focus.

Itadori lets him, turning sometimes to snicker in his direction.

“Maybe I should’ve gone for a horror, so you would get scared and grab my hand, hm?~” Satoru tells him, while the museum keeper is running from a pile of dinosaur bones.

“You can hold my hand, though?” Itadori says, switching the popcorn to his right, and offering Satoru his clean hand.

Satoru takes it.

It’s warm and calloused, the evidence of many fist fights. “What a sexy hand~” He says, and Itadori’s huff is lost in the commotion on the screen.

Satoru is pleasantly surprised when he finds himself entertained by the dinosaur fetching his own bone. It’s real dumb, but it’s ridiculous to the point he laughs uncontrollably.

From there on, it’s a mix of boring dialogue peppered with funny scenes that shouldn’t really amuse him the way they manage to.

Itadori is in tears beside him, laughing too hard when the elevator doors close over the mongolian’s head. His hand is a little sweaty but Satoru doesn’t give it back.

In a particularly loud scene, Itadori’s face is lit up by the screen, and he’s looking at Satoru as he laughs. Satoru grabs him on a whim, kissing the smile away from his face, because he’s itching to do so.

Itadori spills popcorn on the floor, his hands flying about for a few seconds before they settle in Satoru’s hair. He’s kissing back, slow and wet, his eyes closing and opening, every now and then. Satoru has half a mind to put down the remaining popcorn before pulling him into his lap, intent on ravaging his mouth.

“Are we really doing this?” Itadori whispers in his ear, and Satoru bites him.

“Are we?~” He asks back but doesn’t actually wait for Itadori to answer, capturing his mouth again. Itadori is pulling a little on his hair, and Satoru really, really likes that.

He squeezes him by the neck, pressing into him from all sides.

There’s a silent scene on the screen, and Itadori blinks at him, holding his breath.

Scared?” Satoru mouths, his smile a little predatory. Itadori shakes his head no, but his pulse quickens under Satoru’s hand.

Satoru kisses him quietly, holds him there.

“Mm, does your Sensei know what you’re doing right now?~” Satoru asks him between open mouthed kisses.

Itadori’s little gasp is lost in the noise coming from the screen.

“He doesn’t”

Satoru feels strangely excited at the thought of his oblivious future self, and he barely refrains from laughing. Instead, he plays with Itadori’s hair, lifting his hips a little, in a bold move.

Itadori closes his eyes tight, his head coming down on Satoru’s shoulder, “Don’t be a tease” He says quietly.

“But you like it~” Satoru counters, doing it again.

Itadori’s hands tighten in his hair, and it’s a little painful, in a good way. He’s warm all over, his lips wet on Satoru’s collarbone. His legs squeeze Satoru, a tremor passing through him.

“See?” Satoru whispers, licking around his ear, breathing over it.

Itadori squirms, retracting one of his hands to muffle the sound that wants to come out of his mouth.

Satoru slides his hands under his clothes, pressing his thumbs into heated skin.

Satoru” Itadori whispers, voice strained, and barely audible. “Please”

“It’s ok,” Satoru tells him. “I’ll be merciful~ Now give me your mouth”

Itadori lifts his head, and Satoru goes back to kissing the living daylights out of him.

He tastes like caramel popcorn and cherry flavoured candy.

It’s safe to say that they don’t know how the movie ends.

-

By the time the credits roll, and the lights are back on, Itadori is gathering popcorn off the floor because he’s made a mess, and Satoru grins shamelessly at him because he looks downright ridiculous.

His hair is a mess, and his clothes are wrinkled. The tips of his ears, and back of his neck are still flushed red.

Itadori flips him off the third time he snorts, and Satoru wiggles his eyebrows, poking his tongue out suggestively.

They’re back outside a few minutes later, and it’s dark, and pleasantly quiet.

“Wanna take a walk?” Satoru proposes.

Itadori plays with the plastic sunglasses, twirling them in his hand. “Sure,” He says.

They don’t have a curfew or anything so they wander around for a while. The crisp cold air stings his nostrils a little, but it feels good. Itadori’s feet rustle through dead leaves, and he looks relaxed, not attempting to fill the dead air between them.

It’s comfortable.

Satoru sees swings as they walk by, and he’s tempted.

He drags Itadori along, into a little park between the blocks. The playground is humid, lit up only by street lamps, and one of the swings is broken.

Satoru passes Totoro to Itadori, so he can stand on his feet on the one working swing. His head is almost touching the bar. Itadori is putting on the sunglasses, grinning at him.

“Suits you” He tells Satoru, after watching him swing for a while.

“Wanna go? I’ll push you”

Itadori laughs. “Ok” He agrees.

He climbs on it, standing, and Satoru pushes him lightly. The hinges creak, and their breaths leave clouds of warmth in the air. Itadori’s face is illuminated by a yellow light. The swing catches in speed fairly quick, and a whoosh of air is created, everytime it swings.

“Yuji” Satoru says, sometime later.

“Hm?”

“I’ll wait for you, so make sure to come, yeah?”

Itadori is being swung back and forth, and he looks at Satoru as he passes him by.

“You’re crazy,” He tells him.

He sounds fond, though. A little incredulous.

“For you?” Satoru says playfully, wiggling his eyebrows.

Itadori snorts before jumping off the swing.

“I hope so,” He jokes, catching the thing before it hits him in the shins.

He’s is pleasantly surprised when Itadori is the one initiating things, pulling Satoru close to kiss him slowly, and quietly. There’s no urgency in it, no rush of hormones, just their mouths learning each other. He’s getting better at it, Satoru notices.

They fool around the park for a while, until they get tired enough to notice, and head back.

-

It’s almost midnight when they get back to Satoru’s dorm room, and Itadori doesn’t try to take the couch. He lets Satoru pull him in bed, lets him stick close, their legs sliding against each other under the blankets.

Satoru just looks at him.

He’s tired, and so is Itadori by the looks of it, but the thought that this is it, that he most likely won’t get another night like this, forces him to stay awake.

“You don’t wanna sleep?” Itadori asks him, his hand coming up to brush over Satoru’s temple, lightly.

“Not yet” Satoru mumbles, focused on the feel of his hand.

“Yeah. Not yet” Itadori agrees. His eyes roam over Satoru, as if trying to decide where to stick. Eventually, they settle back on his eyes, and they stare at each other like idiots in the dark.

Satoru catches his hand, presses his thumb over Itadori’s palm, and brings their foreheads together. “Are you gonna tell future me about this soon?”

Itadori’s eyes unfocus for a few moments before he’s answering. “I wouldn’t even know how to tell him”

“Like, hey Sensei, I’ve been kinky with your younger self, he’s quite irresistible?~” Satoru suggests, wiggling his eyebrows.

Itadori frowns, but he looks amused. “I wouldn’t put it like that”

“Hm, then, shall we call him in the bedroom, right now?” Satoru says, shifting to climb over Itadori, straddling his waist. “Show him what he’s been missing out on?”

Satoru,” Itadori pleads. Mostly, he seems embarrassed, though.

Satoru bends over him, talking close to his ear. “He might be into it, you know? Wouldn’t you like that, having the both of us all over you, doing things?”

“Ugh” Itadori groans, turning his head away from him.

“What’s wrong, Yuji?~ Are you embarrassed of Sensei? He already knows, you know?”

Itadori scrunches his eyes shut, squirming under Satoru. “He doesn’t” He mumbles.

“You sure? What if he does?” Satoru persists, gently biting Itadori’s ear, pulling on it lightly.

“He doesn’t. He’d tease me to death if he did” Itadori says, distracted.

“You know him so well~” Satoru praises, pulling Itadori’s hands up, holding them in place by the wrists. “Is that why you never told him anything? Even though you probably liked him for longer than you’ve liked me?” He laughs then, because it’s weird, referring to himself like he is more than one person.

Itadori turns to look at him, his face a little flushed. “Sensei is really easy to be around. He's fun and- “ He frowns, focusing on a spot above Satoru’s collarbone. “He’s never had an issue with saying what’s on his mind, and I like that about him- about you. But that way he has of being frank can hit really hard, if it’s something you don’t want to hear”

He’s not looking at Satoru as he tells him these things. “He just blatantly throws things out there, you know?” Itadori huffs. “You know, because it’s you. I know you’re the same person. I know having this talk is ridiculous but between now, and the future you, I can’t help but think that there is a difference. And I’m scared of that”

Satoru looks at him, studying his eyes silently. “Hmm, and you think without these memories, that difference is enough for me to reject you? You think there is a chance that future me just doesn’t see you this way?”

“I don’t know. I’m- scared to find out”

“You’re gonna have to, at some point. Give yourself some credit, yeah? You have me in over my head for you, don’t you think it’s possible that future me feels the same way?” Satoru slides his nails over Itadori’s wrist, lightly. “I mean, the only reason I can think of, that he might not do anything, is your age difference”

Itadori gulps, his eyes going back and forth between Satoru, and the bed covers.

“Don’t steam around in it for too long, hm?” Satoru grabs his chin, holding it in place. “Or I might just keep you here, after all” He says, kissing him.

Itadori closes his eyes as he does so, relaxing under him. He’s pleasantly warm beneath Satoru’s thighs.

Satoru would love to just take everything he wants from him right here and now, but he kisses him slowly instead. He kisses Itadori’s frown away, the corner of his mouth, his temple. He kisses his chin, the side of his nose.

He kisses his mouth because that might just be Satoru’s favourite thing to do in the world.

Itadori’s body slides along his own, and it’s so much better when wearing sleep clothes. He’s softer this way. Satoru thumbs his lips. They’re wet, tender from attention.

“How are you so good, Yuji?”

His thumb slips inside, and he presses on Itadori’s tongue, until his mouth closes over Satoru’s finger. “You’re so good for me” Satoru praises, pressing their bodies together, sliding over Itadori’s dick. It's not hard yet but he's getting there.

His eyes are closed.

He looks flushed with heat, pliant, and willing to give Satoru everything he might ask him for. Somehow, though, he gets the impression that going all the way is something that Itadori wants to keep for his future self.

Satoru can’t bring himself to take that from him, as irritated as it makes him.

But he can test that limit, so he does.

He wants to give, just as much as he’s itching to take, so he slides his thumb in Itadori’s elastic band, snapping it once.

“Should I?” Satoru asks him.

Itadori opens his eyes, nods. “Yeah”

Satoru goes for it, slipping a hand inside his pants, grabbing Itadori in his fist. He’s really hot, and growing as Satoru bites his collarbone, sucking, thumbing his hand over the slit.

Itadori moans, his legs sliding along the sheets, sighing.

“Satoru”

“Mm, yes,” Satoru says, pulling his hand out for a second. He presses his palm over Itadori’s mouth. “Lick”

Itadori does as asked, licks Satoru’s hand until it’s plenty wet, and Satoru sucks those same fingers in his mouth, teasingly, watching Itadori watching him, as he does it. Then he slips it back in Itadori’s pants, and he’s fully hard now, twitching in Satoru’s hand when he grabs him.

They kiss, moving against each other, and Satoru never knew he had a thing for giving pleasure to someone like this. Maybe because it’s Itadori, really. That must be it.

He makes sounds that Satoru eats right out his mouth, licks them from his lips. He’s getting wet, precome pooling at the tip, and Satoru grins, moving his hand just so, watching him squirm in pleasure.

“Satoru- yours too,” Itadori mumbles, struggling to keep his eyes open.

“Mmm, later. Right now it’s spoiling Yuji time~” He presses over Itadori’s slit, smearing the precome, delighting in the resulting moans.

“Mkay” Itadori blinks rapidly, his eyes hazy, arching off the mattress as Satoru rubs him faster, with more urgency.

He’s so pretty, like this, open and relaxed, feeling good under Satoru’s hands.

“That’s my boy,” Satoru praises, brushing sweaty bangs away from his forehead.

Itadori gasps, tensing for a second but Satoru doesn’t let him come yet. He wants to enjoy him like this a little longer so he drags it out, pulling Itadori’s thighs over his own.

“Not yet, baby” Satoru pushes his pants down properly, letting them hang around his knees. Itadori looks at him once, before he sinks back into the pillow, leaving himself in Satoru’s hands.

Satoru had experimented things before, with girls, and a guy or two, here and there, but he’s always been quite impatient about it. He never took his time with them like this, never felt taken with their reactions the way he does now.

Itadori is just precious like that, he guesses.

Satoru watches him as his mouth opens, his eyebrows furrow, pupils dilated in his head.

Ah-”

“I know,” Satoru says, and rewards him for his patience.

He gives him that last nudge, plays with Itadori’s nipple, tweaking it under his thumb. He never believed much in the ‘guys having sensitive nipples’ thing but Itadori is reacting, alright. Satoru does it again, scraping his nail over it as he strokes him, bending to bite it in his mouth.

Itadori’s hands come up in his hair, holding on to it, and it makes him bite harder.

“Satoru- please,” Itadori says, his toes curling in the sheets, his thighs squeezing Satoru tight.

Satoru takes mercy on him, and he rolls his wrist, pumping him to his climax. Itadori’s back and legs lift off the mattress, standing on his heels, taut, and about to snap.

Come in my hand, Yuji,” Satoru encourages, biting behind his ear.

It’s all the push Itadori needs because he’s snapping, dripping in Satoru’s hand. Satoru squeezes him slowly, until there’s nothing left, kissing his mouth as he does.

“That’s it” Satoru praises, brushing a hand over his sweaty forehead. Itadori turns on his side, curling in on himself, and Satoru lets him, petting his hair quietly.

They fall asleep, sometime between him returning the favor, and some lazy kissing, until Itadori dozes off against Satoru’s neck.

Chapter Text

Itadori wakes him up reluctantly, before breakfast. He looks guilty as he does so, and were it anyone else, Satoru would murder them six ways to Sunday. Given that it’s Itadori, he lets himself be dragged out of bed instead, and clings to him while they’re brushing their teeth, sleep deprived, and irritated.

Itadori is way too awake, proving that he’s used to sleeping very few hours, and can actually function with that. He lets Satoru sneak his cold hands inside his shirt while in the bathroom, and Satoru is pretty sure he could fall asleep right there.

Breakfast is a foregin affair for him but he’s not saying no to Itadori doting on him, so he actually drags his ass over to the cafeteria.

Gojo is there already, with Suguru and Shoko. Satoru sniffs, blinking at them.

They look chummy.

“I don’t believe it. What did you do to him?” Suguru asks Itadori, staring at Satoru as he slumps on the bench beside Gojo.

“Uh, nothing?” Itadori says, blinking his confused puppy eyes at Suguru.

“He probably threatened him with breakfast,” Gojo says, looking at Itadori.

“He did,” Satoru groans, and waits for Itadori to sit down to slump against him.

He knows very well that Gojo is looking, so Satoru does it on purpose. He’s that petty.

Itadori blinks at him, his arm hanging mid-air, before it comes down to ruffle his hair lightly. “I gotta make breakfast, remember?”

“Nevermind breakfast. Lemme sleep” Satoru mumbles, rubbing his face on Itadori's shoulder. “It’s your fault I stayed up all night”

He feels Itadori jerk a little against him, and he’s probably panicking or something. Gojo is not saying anything, and Satoru looks up to see him standing there, head in his palm, elbow on the table, watching them with a stupid smirk on his face.

“You need something?” Satoru asks him, smiling at him with his teeth.

“Nope, just wondering. What did you two do last night~?” Gojo asks him, a teasing tone to his voice.

Satoru smirks back, poking his tongue out. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“We played cards!” Itadori says out of nowhere, and Satoru blinks.

Then he snorts, laughter bubbling out of him.

“Did you, now?” Gojo hums.

“Mmmyep! Yuji is very good at playing, actually. He gave out such a good hand~” Satoru says, looking at Itadori upside down. “Didn’t you?”

Itadori’s face is rather comical at the moment.

“I just got lucky” He mutters, picking at a string in his sleeve.

“Stop teasing him, Satoru. You’re being mean” Suguru says around a bite of toast.

Satoru frowns at him, feigning innocence. “Am I mean to you, Yuji?”

Itadori opens his mouth, looks from him to Gojo, and he takes a while to answer.

Gojo gasps, perking up from his position. “Has he been bullying you, Yuji? Should Sensei defend your honor?” He leans into Itadori’s space, and by extension, Satoru’s.

“Too close” Satoru pushes him back, hand against Gojo’s forehead.

Itadori blinks, shaking his head. “He did not”

“Are you seriously having this conversation?” Shoko deadpans, not smoking for once. She’s actually eating breakfast.

Satoru guesses she’s human, after all.

“What conversation?” Satoru asks her, blinking at her innocently.

“Don’t humor them, it’s already weird, seeing double and all that” Suguru says, shaking himself as if to dispel the weirdness of the situation.

“Yuji, why didn’t you call me to play cards?” Gojo whines.

“Ah- it was super late, and I didn’t know want to wake you up-“

“Late? Were you out of the school before that? I couldn’t find you after the fight and nobody would tell me anything”

“That’s because I- “

“Because we went shopping. Itadori has a thing for cat ears, did you know?” Satoru wiggles his eyebrows, and Itadori looks at him with big eyes, and a red tint to his cheeks.

“Cat ears?” Gojo asks, tilting his head to the side. “Ahaa- You went to a maid cafe, didn’t you?~” He ruffles Yuji’s hair, teasing.

Satoru watches disinterestedly as Suguru rises from the table.

“That’s enough, you idiots” Suguru bonks both him and Gojo in the heads, dragging Itadori out from between them.

“Hey!” Satoru protests, glaring at his back.

“Com’on Itadori, I’ll help you with breakfast. I don’t know how you deal with both of them, I swear”

“Well, I’m done here, see ya losers. Itadori” Shoko says, already heading out.

“See you!” Itadori answers, letting himself be dragged away by Suguru.

He actually looks relieved to be out of that conversation.

“Who made you the adoptive mom?” Satoru asks him, poking his tongue at Suguru and making rude noises.

“Right? I’ve always thought there was a motherly side to him” Gojo muses.

“Somebody has to be the brains in this madhouse” Suguru flips them off.

“Do you cook, Geto-san?” Itadori asks, a packet of rice in his hand.

“Sometimes. What are we making?”

Itadori busies himself with explaining things, and Satoru watches, amused. He doesn’t seem so wary around Suguru anymore. Probably because Gojo is here, treating Suguru as if nothing happened. Satoru is grateful for it, really.

“Aren’t they cute~” Gojo says, raising his eyebrows at Suguru and Itadori.

“Missing the aprons only,” Satoru says, distracted.

It’s fun, teasing Itadori. It’s even more fun to tease his oblivious older self, (ok, that’s gotta be a new level of weird) but jokes aside, Satoru is not sure how much Gojo got out of this conversation. For his sake, Satoru hopes he was just playing dumb.

Otherwise, he’s not above kicking his own ass into the next timeline.

-

Any semblance of normalcy is ruined when they’re being called down to the chambers again.

Satoru has no idea what kind of contraption awaits them, can’t help but imagine some weird ass time machine made of cursed objects or something.

He lacks imagination, he knows.

It’s just him, Itadori, and Gojo, this time.

“So, what’s the trick?” Gojo asks, because it’s only Wrinkly and Ijichi that meet with them, leading them to a table where plans, and various cursed objects are laid about.

“Ijichi, explain the works to them” Wrinkly waves them off, busying himself with checking some notes.

“Yes” Ijichi clears his throat, clipboard in hand. “We looked into Itadori-kun’s initial time-skip, and tried to understand what triggered it in the first place” He says, pushing his glasses up his nose.

“The conclusion we reached was that the cursed cube reacted to something in Itadori’s will, and that Ryomen Sukuna’s powers helped feed it enough energy to somehow open a portal. Albeit not willingly on his part, of course”

“You’re saying that Itadori wanted to come here?” Satoru asks, frowning.

“Pretty much. The explanation that we have is vague, and could probably reveal more in due time, but this is the main trigger”

“Yuji, where were you last, in our timeline?” Gojo asks him.

Itadori thinks about it, for a moment. “Uhh… I was with my brother? we were trying to chase down some ancient sorcerer lady that supposedly could unseal you. She did a number on us though, and we had to split. I’m- not sure where exactly I was. I think she was trying to take the cube from me, that’s the last I remember”

“You have a brother?” Is what Gojo focuses on.

“Ah, yes. He’s- we only recently figured figured that out, actually”

“Can your life get more shonen manga than this?” Satoru asks him, amazed.

Itadori is like the freaking Santa Claus of horror stories.

“Haha, I thought the same thing, actually” He laughs.

Wrinkly clears his throat.

“Right,” Ijichi says, coming back to the task at hand. “Anyway, we’ll pretend this makes sense, and try to repeat the circumstances in terms of energy. The cube is empty now, but we have two Gojos, so that should suffice. It might not work from the first try but we have a 60% guarantee that it will”

“Great! Let’s get on with it” Gojo says loudly, slapping Ijichi on the back, so hard he bends over.

“Are there gonna be magic circles?” Satoru asks, blowing a bubble out of the gum he found in his pocket.

He’s gotta get his restlessness out on something.

“There won’t be magic circles” Wrinkly says, a sneer on his mouth. “There’s gonna be this, however” He says, brandishing a sealed object. The shape is lumpy, and impossible to ascertain while covered in seals.

“What’s that?” Itadori asks.

“It’s a piece of a curse. More precisely, just one wing. This thing has been spawning every few decades, only in places with a very high, abnormal energy. We think it doesn’t actually harm anyone, unless you enter it’s territory. It’s- a bit of a mystery, still “

“We need to find that thing?” Gojo asks, bending to sniff it. “Eugh”

“Yes, however, we need it alive, and we need it here, at the school. The jujutsu sorcerers have called it ungaikyo over the centuries, precisely because it resembles the myth demon”

Itadori actually looks curious “What demon is that?”

“Tsk, tsk, Yuji-kun, Sensei needs to give you a test in mythology. Ungaikyo is a possessed mirror demon. It can manipulate its reflections to whatever it prefers~”

“Ooh, are we going demon hunting? Wait, is Yuki-onna real too?! I’ve always wanted to meet her” His eyes are sparkling with interest.

Satoru bonks him over the head, lightly. “Of course you would. You’re exactly the type of idiot to get caught by her too”

“Hey!” Itadori grabs his hand, making an offended but funny face.

“Admit it, you would~” Satoru teases him, bending over at eye level, while grinning in his face.

Itadori turns away from him, sulking.

Gojo puts a hand on his head, lifting a finger while explaining. “Who knows, she might be. If not a yokai, then as an actual curse. It’s possible she was one, at some point”

“Whatever this thing is, we need it as a catalyst to open the portal. But it has to do it willingly”

“You’re shitting me” Satoru says, making a face.

Wrinkly gives him the evil eye but he goes back to explaining. “If only. We need it alive and kicking, willing to open the portal for us. It’s mirror is the only thing that could work right now”

“What does it do, though?”

“We’re counting on the fact that it can reflect anything. It’s energy is impressive, and it works in ways we still don’t understand. One thing is clear, though. We need these two,” He points to Gojo and Itadori. “To be reflected in it, so they can go back”

“Ooh!” Itadori says, impressed.

“Oh” Satory says, deadpan. “And how do you propose we do that?”

“I think you already know,” Wrinkly says, and Gojo hums, sliding his hands in his pockets.

“You want Suguru to swallow it, don’t you?” He says, relaxed and smiling.

“Precisely. If Geto Suguru swallows the curse whole, he can have it willingly use the mirror for us”

“What’s the catch, though?” Gojo asks him, and Satoru is wondering the same thing.

“The catch is that you’ll have to travel pretty far, and it’s really hard to find, even in it’s known territory”

“I think we’ll manage,” Satoru tells him. “Is this thing even a curse?”

Wrinkly puts the wing back down on the table. “Something like that. It’s got plenty of cursed energy, for sure. And we’re about to make use of it. Ijichi, you take it from here” He says, motioning for them to get out already.

“Ah, yes. We talked to Geto-san, he’s going to accompany you on this road, of course” Ijichi says as he leads them out.

“Is he now?” Gojo hums, looking caught in his own head at the moment.

“So who’s going?” Satoru asks, as they exit the chamber, and head back up towards the school dorms.

“Geto-san and Gojo-san are mostly needed for this-, uh, either one of you two. But I assumed Itadori-san would want to join, so I took the liberty of getting him a ticket as well”

“Ijichi-san! That’s so considerate of you!” Itadori looks at him with sparkles in his eyes, bowing a few times. “We really should tell you this more often, but you’re always such a great help. Thank you for your hard work. Ah, and sorry- about the last time” Itadori adds, scratching his neck sheepishly.

Ijichi looks flustered all of a sudden, as if he doesn’t know what to do with all that praise. “Ah, it’s ok, you weren’t feeling well. And Gojo-san was only helping you so, uh, I don’t hold a grudge for that” He trails off, blushing.

Itadori blushes too, like a silly schoolgirl, and Satoru snorts at the both of them.

“What’s that about helping? Did something happen, Yuji?” Gojo looks at him, tilting his head.

“Uh. Nothing big- just. Injuries from a mission” He says, waving it off. “I got reckeles, is all”

His ears are tinted red, though, and he frowns at himself, probably realizing he dug his own hole.

“Hmm? I do notice, you’ve been awfully carefree with putting yourself at risk” He steps in Itadori’s space, taking his chin in hand. “Like these scars, for example” Gojo thumbs the one on the corner of his mouth, lightly.

Itadori’s eyes bulge in his head, and he looks about to combust.

“Ah, yeah. I don’t even know how exactly I got them” He laughs a little, looking flustered.

Satoru is basically watching himself, in the future, turning Itadori into goo, everytime he so much as looks at him.

Huh!

It’s kind of mind-boggling.

And fucking hot. Besides being super weird, that is.

Ijichi clears his throat again, looking embarrassed on their behalf.

“Here’s the tickets, Gojo-san. And the location where you should be finding the curse” He shoves the papers in Gojo’s free hand, who takes them, albeit he seems a bit distracted.

“Thank you Ijichi. You may go now” He smiles wide.

“Right” Ijichi bows once, out of ingrained habit, and leaves them to their devices.

They are back outside, and Satoru always feels amazed with how dark those geezer’s chambers can be.

“Sensei. We never traveled together” Itadori says out of nowhere, and he’s looking at both of them as he says this.

Satoru just wants to glomp him.

And possibly spoil him to death.

“First time for everything, my dear student. Mmm, let’s see, these are for today, in 4 hours, actually. Train tickets!” He brandishes the things at them, grinning wide. “This is gonna be fun, let’s find Suguru, hm?”

Satoru takes Itadori along with him, by the neck. “Let’s go find that idiot” He agrees.

-

“Things just keep getting dramatic whenever you’re involved, somehow” Suguru tells Satoru, once they’re all settled for traveling, a few hours later.

“Hmm, I think Yuji is a real magnet for trouble, though” Gojo considers, chin in hand.

Itadori doesn’t deny it but he’s not paying much attention, either. He’s looking at the location circled on the map.

They had Ijichi drive them to the train station, and now they’re waiting for it to arrive.

“Are you calling me a drama queen?” Satoru challenges, getting all up in Suguru’s face.

“And what if I am?” Suguru bumps their foreheads together, legs planted in the ground, pushing him back like that.

“You’re the lady with the pretty flowing hair” Satoru counters, childishly.

Itadori blinks at them, suddenly paying attention.

Suguru grins slyly at Satoru, hands in his pants pocket. “Screw you, baby face”

“You love my face. Who doesn’t?” Satoru mirrors his position.

“What is the point of whatever you’re doing?” Gojo asks them, amused.

“I think they’re bonding,” Itadori says. “You know, like dudes?”

Right as he says this, the train pulls up in the station, and Satoru remembers they have a three hours trip with this one, and then they have to change with other trains and- Wrinkly probably made them take the train on purpose.

Just to rub his hands in glee, thinking how they might suffer through the trip.

Joke’s on him.

Satoru could travel to a freaking galaxy right now.

-

It’s gotten dark, and they still have two hours left of this train ride. Conversation has dwindled, and Satoru is twirling his phone in his hand, bored to death.

He wishes he sat next to Itadori, now.

Itadori pulls a pack of cards out of nowhere, though, and they play for a while.

Halfway through a losing hand, which Satoru is sure Suguru must be cheating him on, he slumps in his seat, an uncomfortable stiffness in his back.

Itadori and Gojo are still playing, and Satoru watches Itadori’s face.

He’d be really bad at poker, alright.

They seem a little too absorbed in a stupid card game, so Satoru toes off his shoes, and puts his feet in Itadori’s lap, because he can.

Itadori doesn’t seem to notice it at first, keeps playing. Gojo and Suguru do, but only Gojo stares at his feet with muted interest.

Itadori deals a hand, while frowning at his cards. He’s not looking away from them as his hand settles on Satoru’s foot, acknowledging that it’s there.

Gojo looks amused by the small contact. He raises an eyebrow in Satoru’s direction, and Satoru pokes his tongue at him.

Gojo smiles wide in response, before he slumps against Itadori with no warning, sliding half his frame across his seat.

Itadori looks at him, blinking.

“Sensei?” He settles his cards upside down.

“Sensei is sleepy, so he’ll take a nap. Yuji can be my pillow,” Gojo tells him.

“Ok? Sure,” Itadori allows, smiling a little. Gojo’s head reaches his shoulder from this position, his legs spread out before him, occupying too much space. Their sides press against one another, and Gojo’s hair is probably tickling Itadori’s chin.

Itadori catches Suguru’s eye, and they share a look.

Suguru shrugs, and Itadori mirrors his gesture.

Satoru presses his toes over Itadori’s belly, satisfied with the warmth. He doesn’t fall asleep but he closes his eyes, comforted by the feel of Itadori’s hand on his foot.

The silence that follows is chased by the sound of the train riding the tracks, and a stray voice carrying in the wagon every now and then, from the other passengers. The neon lights are a little annoying, though.

Satoru dozes off, against his will.

He wakes up a while later, hearing muffled voices at first, before he makes out Itadori and Suguru quietly going back and forth.

“-then we kinda have a similar thing going, you and me” Suguru is saying, sounding amused”

“Now that you mention” Itadori agrees, and Satoru doesn’t open his eyes, just listens.

“It tastes horrible, doesn’t it?” Suguru asks him, a smile in his tone.

“Eugh” Itadori is probably making a funny face right now. “Honestly, I don’t know how I swallowed those things. I guess I don’t have a gag reflex or something”

Oh.

Oh, that is- an image Satoru wants to entertain, very, very much.

“I did, for a while,” Suguru says. “Used to try and puke them out, even though it was impossible to do, after swallowing them. I’d like to say I got used to it, but I’d be lying a little” He laughs about it.

“They must taste worse than Sukuna’s fingers, that sucks …thank you, though. For agreeing to do this”

Satoru would snort, but he doesn’t. That’s such an Itadori thing to say, thanking Suguru for something he would do anyway, because it’s his job.

Suguru probably smiles, considering Itadori, because his tone of voice sounds familiar when he speaks next.

“You’re a good guy, Itadori. I’m glad you’re the one person Satoru took so well to. He’s finally learning some things he wasn’t really good with, before”

“Oh” Itadori says, and Satoru frowns.

What’s that he’s learning?

“Thank you. But I don’t know about me being a good influence on him, there’s not much I can offer”

Satoru is actually scared to find out how much more, Itadori would be willing to offer him, if only he’d ask.

He concludes that Gojo is also asleep too, or pretending to. Although, he doesn’t doubt that Itadori and Suguru can tell if they’re awake, and they’re probably just leaving them be.

“Trust me, you are. He’s been growing for the best, since he met you. It’s good for him, learning to respect others, and extend his field of vision when it comes to what power alone can solve, and not”

“I think you give me too much credit” Itadori says, quietly, and it doesn’t sit right with Satoru, the way it sounds coming out of his mouth.

Itadori’s thumb is circling idly over his ankle, as he speaks.

“I’m reckless, and I never think much before I act. I get overly confident sometimes, in powers that are not even my own, and that’s not something I’d want to give as an example”

Satoru itches to pinch him when he talks like this.

“And that’s exactly why” Suguru says cryptically, not bothering to elaborate.

Satoru opens his eyes, watches Itadori slumped in his seat beside Gojo, who is actually asleep on his shoulder. His mouth is open, and his arms are crossed.

He looks close to falling off his seat.