The black-haired man inspected, for the umpteenth time, the paper he is holding in his hands. He just finished filling in all the blanks, with his impeccable handwriting the kanji almost looked a lot more like print than handwriting, though his pretty calligraphy had already been flattered too many times. From outside comes the muffled whine of thunder as he gets to his feet and finally hands the completed sheet and borrowed pen to the man behind the desk, amused by reading a small book from behind a pair of thick sunglasses. On a cloudy day? No, that's the least of it. Under roof? Is he unhinged, perhaps?
"Oh, did you complete it yet?" being hounded by the end of the paper under his nose, the man took the sheet and forcefully unloaded a dark stamp on the corresponding blank square. A couple of red sparks climbed into the sky, but the fifteen-year-old didn't even flinch at that "how fast...although, of course, I hate all this bureaucracy. If we are able to use sorcery, we should use it to speed things up a bit. The day I'm elected director of Tokyo Jujutsu High, I'm sure I'll find a way to..." faced with the heavy silence installed for his monologue, the professor looked up over his glasses, meeting the neutral face of the boy "sorry, boy. I must be bugging you with all this talk".
«The truth is that yes, a lot».
"Don't worry" and Suguru smiled, a smile worthy of a magazine, while he strongly squeezed the handle of his wheeled briefcase "the truth is that I'm very happy to be here, so everything I know about my new life is from my absolute interest".
"Yeah, well...let's get going to the male quarters wing...Getou-shonen" the teacher, Yaga Masamichi, clapped his hands for a second before standing up, plunging her hands into his coat pockets "the sooner the better. Surely you are tired from so much train travel, it is best that you settle down and rest a bit. Out there it seems that the apocalypse is looming".
The first thing Suguru thought when he arrived at the institute, almost an hour before, was how it was possible that such a piece of land with such a huge building could be hidden from the naked eye, in the very heart of a city as busy and moving as only Tokyo is. He had no idea the screens existed, and Professor Masamichi had to explain it to him when he saw his stunned expression. Outside of that, walking between such huge places and wrapped in such a cozy silence was sweet but, at the same time, somewhat annoying. He was not born in a very big city, in fact, he would say that the place where he was born did not even fall into the category of "city", but even there there was much more noise than within the grounds of Tokyo Jujutsu High.
"This place is very quiet" he couldn't help expressing. Not even the soft rattle of his suitcase wheels on the wooden plank floor was audible enough to break the dead silence, and Yaga-san exhaled.
"We don't have many students. People with the ability to transform into shamans are rare, so most magic schools never have too many students. Normally, they barely reach ten counting all the courses, and I would swear that is the case in the rest of the world. Although we are not the only magical school in Japan, it is normal for the numbers to be this low. The number of curses, of course, is a separate case. They don't care about the unfair game or the fact that they double us...or maybe even triple us in participants".
Suguru was silent the rest of the way, remembering when he was nine years old and had found one of those things in the attic of his grandparents' house. Well, from his grandfather, since at that point his grandmother had died about five or six years ago. The old man, alone and more bitter than usual after being widowed, did nothing but getting on his nerves at the cries of his only grandson, who never wanted to return to that house despite the insistence of his parents. He now knows that that curse never directly attacked his grandfather, but it did drain his energy, drop by drop. All his pain cloistered inside, the burden, the anger, the desperation, things that increased after the departure of his beloved wife and that he never dared to speak to anyone out of pride and shame. That creature was in charge of creating itself based on all that pain, and year after year the suffering was greater until, one winter, the old man suffered a pneumonia that was too strong, and died.
"At least now they're together again" Getou remembers his mother telling him, drenched in tears, trying to calm a son who wasn't sobbing anyway. It's not that he hadn't cared about his grandfather's death, but he was painfully certain that he hadn't, that they hadn't been able to go "beyond" to be together.
"And this will be your room".
Yaga-san stops in front of a door, and Suguru stops just in time to avoid crashing into the professor's body. He holds out his hand and slides it to the side, opening the door that leads to a small but cozy room.
There are beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows with square windows facing the inner courtyard of Tokyo Jujutsu High and can be covered with a blackout curtain. A futon on the floor, with the sheets and blankets folded at it's feet. A small desk, a wardrobe for clothes, and an ideal cabinet for a television that Getou does not have. All in all, the room is small but sweetly cozy, and considering he doesn't have to pay a yen for it, it's not in his plan to complain.
"The white door leads to the bathroom" the chestnut-haired man explained, while Suguru entered to leave his suitcase leaning against one of the walls. Personal bathrooms? Wow "since the number of students is always minimal, the institute was able to afford the construction of personal bathrooms. If the number quadruples or more in a short time, which I doubt, we would have to consider building shared bathrooms. I don't know if you read it on the form to fill out, but Tokyo Jujutsu High also covers meals and health insurance. Oh! And in the recreation room there are several telephone lines, in case you want to call someone, although going abroad for visits is allowed on weekends. Outside of Tokyo, I mean…" thunder shakes the walls of the institution loudly, and Yaga-san exhales "unpack, Getou-shonen, and go out for a little walk if you wish. Now, with your permission, I'm going to go unplug the TV in the rec room before it gets hit by lightning".
The professor walked back the way he had come, closing the sliding door a bit before disappearing, leaving behind a harassed Suguru. And, almost as if Mother Nature had decided to lend a helping hand to his overwhelmed mood, the rain finally began to fall. From the window he could see the drops hitting the surface of the artificial lake in the inner patio, and the beautiful cool wind blowing into the room. Sleeping there must be real sweetness, but now he can't think of it. He can only think of beating away such annoying thoughts and, with nothing else to do, he decides to unpack.
He remembers very well...since he can remember, how his mother has always blamed "a very active imagination" for the fact that he was able to see all the things he can see. She even feared, at some point, that he had schizophrenia. Little Getou believed his mother's fear, ignorant of sorcery and the great world of which he was truly a part, until that man in the black and gray robes showed up at his parents' house one afternoon six months ago, setting up a fight. which lasted until the day Suguru left, suitcase in hand, to take a bus to the nearest train station, then travel directly to the country's capital. They told him that he had completely lost his mind, that he was crazy, but Suguru had seen in that recruiting shaman the answers to all those things that had weighed him down since he was able to walk on his own. They have a clear name, and he is not crazy, but not one of the people with whom he shares a roof were able to see it. He couldn't stay chained to this denial, this need to beat away all the pain…and yet he feels miserable. And he can't find a reason why.
The last pair of black pants is folded inside the closet, stealing a short sigh from the dark-haired man's lips. Hanging from one of the closet doors is an oval mirror, and he takes the opportunity to remove the rubber band from his hair, letting it fall, straight and midnight black, to touch his shoulders. Carefully, he combs his fingers through his hair, remembering all of his mother's reproaches about why he can't wear his hair like most boys his age. He likes it and, with any luck, will be able to grow hair to his waist or longer. But for now, he takes it in short strands and tucks it back into a bun, snorting and glancing around his new room a second time.
There is nothing flashy or personal, nothing beyond a calendar on the desk. Someone had ripped out all the pages until they reached September, the current month, and the box of all the numbers below a beautiful drawing of a monkey, since according to the zodiac that was the year of said animal. “2004” above, and that's where it all ends. When will the year of the snake be? Maybe that will bring him some of the luck he needs.
He stepped out into the hall, closing the door carefully behind him, and exhaled upward to brush a couple of raven locks from his face. There were several more doors down the hall, ten counting his, and they were all closed. Will there be someone else?, he carefully advances towards the exit of the corridor, but from the outside he is unable to glimpse anything from the other side. The dark shape of a suitcase, the sounds of a person, whatever. The prospect of being the only student of his generation disturbs him a bit, though perhaps...
Caught off guard, Getou exhales and raises his head. He has reached the end of the corridor to the inner patio, from where various corridors run in various directions inside the institute, like veins and arteries. Across the yard, lugging two oversized carry-ons and a pair of round sunglasses, is a girl with very, very short brown hair, and her own scarlet face. Seeing her bags and how heavy they must be, he's not surprised at all. Suguru blinks and hesitantly ends up pointing at himself.
"Yes you! Where is a teacher? I just arrived! I have to talk with him!".
“Uh…Yaga-sensei said that he would go to the recreation room".
The unknown girl seemed very satisfied with that answer. Although, if she just got here, she shouldn't have a clue where that room is. She nodded and nodded him thanks, made difficult by the weight of the suitcases, and she scampered back into the hallway, leaving a very confused Suguru behind her. Was she a freshman, just like him? At least he already knows that he won't be alone in his class, although he doesn't know if that reassures him. He has never gotten along with girls. Not that he dislikes them, but in his town there were very few and they always went everywhere together, a small group inaccessible to anyone of the opposite sex. Of course he can't say that he has had too many male friends. Making friends is something he hasn't been very good at, ever. A thunder accompanies his emotions and, while the girl's footsteps are lost in the distance, he decides to go outside.
The institute is surrounded by leafy trees, it seems to be located in the middle of a personal forest, so the wind that accompanies that rain of the last days of summer carries the fresh aroma of the leaves to one of the side stairs, on which Suguru sits. He stops, resting his head on the thick railing. How many years has it been there? How many students have walked up and down those steps? He closes his eyes, burying his gaze in the dark fabric of his clothing, and finally, he remembers.
It is smooth, feels like thorns but not so sharp as to hurt. Refreshingly, it doesn't bother him enough to get to his feet and run for cover. "Don't get soaked, do you want to be cold on your first day of school?" he rebuked himself, but still he stayed put. Surely one of the shamans in there can cure a cold with a spell or something, he has no idea, so just groans as his brain pulses a bit. Hundreds of students going up and down those stairs. Will he even measure up? Or he may die, plummeting at his first encounter with a curse. Come on, classes haven't even started and he's already freaking out about it, he's really pathetic. Suguru rubs his closed eyes against the black fabric, and then feels how the rain stops weighing him down. Ooh, was that it? Really?
"I'm sure there are better places to mourn than in the rain".
"What?" Getou blinks, raising his head, and finally finds a boy next to him, smiling and very, very tall. He has one hand up and, turning his eyes up, the dark-haired man finally realizes: he is holding back the water, forming a dome over his head. The water bounces sideways, like an invisible umbrella, and he can't help but let out an impressed sigh "wow, that's... amazing".
"It's not a big deal" but the stranger smiles, proud of his little trick. He has very white hair, albino, and messy in all directions. He wears a pair of round black glasses, identical to the ones the girl had on her hair, the one who yelled at him just a few minutes ago "but it's very useful for keeping melancholic boys from getting drenched in the rain".
"Melancholic?" Suguru repeated, unable to hold back a small laugh that welled up in his chest. It's as if those thoughts that have been plaguing him ever since he left his village…no, for several years now, are gently shoved aside. The unbearable thoughts of him are like those raindrops that can't get through the white-haired's invisible dome "no, I was just…thinking".
"With a constipated expression and under the rain?"
"That's how I think, how do you think?"
"I do not do it".
"Oh, that shows..."
"Hey! I'm here protecting you from the rain, don't insult me!" he protests, his dark glasses jumping on the spot, on the bridge of his nose, as Suguru lets out a slightly louder laugh. When was the last time…?
"Hey, I'm not the one wearing sunglasses on a stormy day, you know? That says a lot of you".
"Ah...these? They're not mine, I stole them from the head of a girl I passed in the halls on my way here. She yelled at me, but I hate being yelled at" he took one of the temples from the glasses and pushed them up over his thick ivory hair, stealing an exclamation from Getou that he was unable to hide. His eyes looked like something out of a science fiction movie. Very large, clear, light blue like precious stones and with long white eyelashes. They hardly looked human and, to the laughter that escaped the tallest, Getou could only cough to hide "Ha, I know they look weird! But it's part of my technique, you know? The six eyes of the Gojo family".
"Yes! What is your family technique?"
"No, I don't…" Suguru stood up at last, holding on to the railing of the stairs. He fears that telling him the truth is going to alienate himself somehow, Getou has no idea if the world of shamans is ruled by some kind of elitist idea that sorcerers from famous families are superior to those born from nothing itself. -Well- he decided -I guess I'm about to find out- "I'm not from any family, I come from a town called Kanazawa, and no one from my family has powers, I was the first. My name is Getou Suguru".
"Ah, that explains your lack of a smug air!" replied the white-haired man, in the middle of a laugh, forcefully unloading a two-length hand on Suguru's back, stealing an exhalation "I'm Gojo Satoru. Nice to meet you, Getou-kun. I'm dying to know what technique you're going to invent".
"Thank you..." he didn't know what else to say, although he didn't have much time. A shout reached them over the top of the stairs, and they both turned in it's direction. Standing there, soaking in the rain and looking angry, was the brunette girl. She was lucky to have short hair, like a boy, because she would now had it clinging to the sides of her face, like Hanako-san. She pointed at Gojo fiercely, shrieking even louder.
"Give me back my glasses, freak!"
"Freak!?" Gojo replied in a howl, raising a hand to his chest indignantly "Learn to share!"
"To share, you must have asked my permission! You just took them from me! Thief!"
"Those words are very ugly! Besides, how do I know that they are your glasses? You could have stolen them from anyone!"
"They are mine! They have my name written on one of the temples! Shoko Ieiri! There is!"
Gojo blinked, pulling the glasses off his head and tilting them to the side. Suguru, curious, leaned out to read the same account. There it was, written on one of the temples in the ink of what appeared to be a corrector: 家入硝子. The white-haired man clucked his tongue as Ieiri stomped down the steps and ripped the glasses from his hands, sinking them into her short brown hair.
"I can't believe I'll have to share a class with a thief!" she snorted, as Gojo rolled his eyes and, at last, she looked at Getou "And with his accomplice!"
"Accomplice?" Suguru repeated, as Gojo, recomposed, let out a laugh and put an arm around his shoulders.
"That's it! This gloomy boy who thinks under the rain is my accomplice! He's crazy, so watch out for him!" he pulled Getou by the shoulders as Suguru protested and, once the protective field was broken, the two of them scampered into the school, with Shoko chasing after them. Getou's senses were flooded by Gojo's roaring laughter, and although he knows he has only just met him, he is struck by a strong and beautiful feeling that he has finally come home.