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A curse from me to you

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Yuji Itadori was four years old when he decided he hated his parents, yelling it to the setting sun.

Sukuna paused, glancing up from tracing patterns in the mud to stare at Yuji, a mocking grin already spreading across his face.

“I hate them,” Yuji repeated, stamping his foot. Tears filled his eyes as he glared at his brother. “I hate them the most. Don’t you hate them too, Su-tan?”

Shaking his head, Sukuna didn’t bother replying as he returned to the patterns scrawled in the dirt, leaving Yuji to angrily fill the silence with his own babbling. “Always gone! Never here! I hate them, I hate them, I hate them! They don’t love me, if they loved me, they wouldn’t be gone all the time.” He’s crying now, fat ugly tears that Sukuna hated more than anything, and that only makes him cry harder, afraid that Sukuna will yell at him again for being such a baby.

Looking up from the patterns in the dirt, Sukuna laughed at his tears. “Why would they stay, cray-baby brat? They leave you all alone because they have better things to do,” he hissed, “Because they don’t need you anymore. They don’t love you.”

Despite his anger at their parents, Yuji howled in agony at Sukuna’s words, hurling himself at his brother, fists clenched, and teeth bared. He managed to land a single blow to Sukuna’s chest before his brother twisted out from beneath him, fury blazing in his eyes. Pain exploded across his face, Sukuna’s hands curled into claws as they scratch and strike every part of Yuji he can reach. They collapse in a tangle of limbs, but Sukuna was too strong, too quick, and Yuji tired quickly under the relentless onslaught, hiccupping in pain as Sukuna perched on his chest.

“They don’t love you,” Sukuna continued softly, patting Yuji’s bloodied cheeks. “They leave you with Wasuke, but if they loved you, they would be here more. You wouldn’t be alone.”

Trembling, Yuji tugged on Sukuna’s sleeve. “They should love us,” he says, wanting his brother to agree more than anything. His brother was clever like the adults are, if he said it then it was the truth. If he said they cared, Yuji would know it was real. “I don’t want them to leave all the time. I want Mama and Papa and Ji-chan to be with us all the time, but they don’t! I hate them, they shouldn’t leave us alone. I hate them, I hate them, I hate them.”

Sukuna laughed softly, climbing off Yuji with a sharp pinch to his side. He didn’t seem to care in the least about their parents or Yuji’s tears, pointedly going back to his drawing. It was a monstrous creature, all sharp claws and snapping jaws, extra mouths and limbs to rip and shred. Yuji’s nightmares are full of this creature, dreams full of it chasing after him, dragging him from the house into the dark to feast on his flesh and no one hearing his screams for help. Last night, he had dreamt his family were too busy eating dinner to pay him any mind as the creature raked claws down his back, stomach opening wide and more teeth emerging to crunch on his bones. He had woken screaming to Sukuna’s body pressed to his side, hand clasped in his. The shock of the dream and the warmth of reality chased away his usual fear of his brother, Yuji melting into Sukuna’s embrace. He had fallen back asleep in the cradle of his brother’s arms, soothed by the steady heartbeat that mirrored his own.

That night it was the same dream, his parents and grandfather ignoring his screams as the monster dragged him from his bed. The last thing he saw was his mother and father, faces turned away, hand in hand, as the creature cracked open his skull. Yuji screamed himself awake once again to the circle of his brother’s arms, choking back sobs as he pressed himself to Sukuna’s chest, too tired to care as Sukuna whispered about curses and vows until they fell asleep once more.

When he woke up the next morning, it was to the sound of muffled sobs and the soft murmur of voices. The door was pushed open slightly, Sukuna’s head tilted as he listened. He was smiling, eyes fixed on Yuji. When he pulled himself from bed, bleary eyed, Sukuna took his hand in a biting grip, pulling him to his side. Their grandfather appeared at the door, gruff face crumpled and eyes red-rimmed, kneeling to speak to them as the policemen watched with grim eyes.

Despite his promise to never do it in front of his brother, Yuji cried at the funeral, tears spilling down his face. Beside him, Sukuna watched with greedy eyes as their grandfather plucked the bones of their parents from the ash. At the gravestone, Sukuna untangled his hand from Yuji’s with a sneer. “Cry-baby brat,” he spat, “This is what you wanted. You hated them, and now they’re dead.”

Love creates the most twisted of curses.

That day, Yuji vowed to never cry again, a foolish promise.

 

 

 

At school, the children began to call him ‘monster’. It took a while for Yuji to understand why.

During music lessons, Eiko stumbled over a verse, so Yuji took her hand like Sukuna always did to him, and she gave him the biggest toothy grin. They sit together during lunch, and Eiko shows him how her mother had made rabbits out of apples. The next three days, Eiko didn’t come to school, and although it made him sad it was something Yuji paid little attention to, thinking she must have caught a cold in the biting autumn air. The adults find her wandering the woods, half frozen, bloody, and no longer able to speak. Yuji decided he no longer liked the taste of apples.

He tried harder to be more  grown up like the adults and older children, stronger and more mature, so that he could make things better. Their sensei declared that Yuji and Hiroki were the most responsible of the class and let them help with lunch service. Hiroki was the oldest of three brothers, a natural leader, and Yuji was happy to listen closely to whatever Hiroki told him, in awe of the way he seemed like adult, so different from Sukuna's maturity. Together with his childhood friend Masahiro, Hiroki had begun teaching Yuji how to play soccer, taking him down to their local park and playing until the sun began to set and it grew too cold to continue. Yuji liked playing with them, happy to stay outside rather than return home. He’s disappointed when Masahiro could no longer play with them after breaking his leg falling down the stairs of his family’s apartment building. A freak accident, they say. Sukuna laughed when Yuji had told him. Rather than leave Masahiro out, Hiroki suggested the three of them play video games together instead, even inviting Yuji over for dinner afterwards. Yuji’s grandfather grumbled loudly when he came to collect Yuji, but he managed to extract a promise from Hiroki’s mother for more playdates, so Yuji suspects the grumbling was just for show. Yuji was making friends again, having fun for first time since his parents had died, and that seemed to please his grandfather more than it irritated him, so Yuji allowed himself that small happiness. No one ever discovered how it came to be that Hiroki got locked in the school freezer after lunch service, but he never asked Yuji to come play with him ever again.

He didn’t notice the whispers, the way the adults began to look at him. Yuji didn’t notice anything odd at all. Sukuna did, laughing at the stupid teachers and their boring classmates as they walked home together, laughing at how they were never kind to him like the other children. Sukuna always seemed to be enjoying himself whenever Yuji was most miserable, so he decided to no longer confide in his brother, pressing his mouth into a pinched line whenever Sukuna asked after his friends. It's during those times when he remains resolutely silent that the light catches Sukuna's eyes in an odd way, a hungry, blood-filled gaze that makes Yuji's neck prickle as Sukuna went silent too. Yuji didn’t pay that any mind either, until swimming lessons begin at school in Spring and they find Masahiro face down in the pool, and once again suspicious, accusing eyes turn on Yuji.

He didn’t understand the whispers and the way the adults glared at him, as though it was his fault Masahiro drowned. He didn’t understand why his classmates seemed to avoid him more and more, the invitations to play drying up until only half-hearted friendliness remained. The adults would smile at him, speak to him, but they never seemed to have time for Yuji any more, and he began to wonder if Sukuna had been right, that the adults were stupid and weren’t worth their time. Sometimes he still tried to play soccer in the park, hoping the other children walking home would join him, but it became easier to simply head straight home rather than wait for offers that never came.

“You’re not going to the park today?” Sukuna asked, eyeing Yuji as they make their way home after school.

“No, not anymore,” Yuji shrugged. “It’s boring, and I can just play at home instead.”

“This is insufficient,” Sukuna muttered with a sigh. "Friends are a waste of time at this age."

On Yuji and Sukuna’s seventh birthday, Yuji suddenly gains three new brothers.

He thought it was strange, his brothers who look nothing like him or his grandfather, who seem to come out of nowhere, but Sukuna told him that they had to stay together from now on, a new family, so Yuji puts it from his mind. He should question it, his brothers who aren't quite right, but whenever he tried to focus on the thought it slipped from his mind like smoke.

Besides, he liked these new brothers much more than Sukuna, enjoying chasing Kechizu through the rice paddies and catching frogs with Eso. He liked Choso most of all, who still held his hand to cross the road and taught him how to make manju. These brothers care about him, treating him differently from Sukuna. In fact, he learnt quickly that they were not like Sukuna at all, surprised at their frowns when he called them by their names. “You don't call us by our first names, Yuji, that's implolite. You must call us ‘nii-san’,” Choso patiently explained. “It is very rude to not speak to people the proper way.” Yuji nodded, his mind on how appalled the teachers at school had been when Sukuna, who has never called their grandfather anything other than ‘Wasuke’, spoke to all other adults with ‘kimi’ or ‘omae’. Sukuna was allowed to be rude, it seemed, but not him. He must know his place. Choso never asked Sukuna to call him‘nii-san’, but Yuji didn’t mind that because that way it felt better, more special that he was the only one to call them that. He was their little brother, their lesser, and he knew his place.

It was a shock to realise that Yuji was happy in a way he couldn’t remember ever being, not even when his parents were still alive. That was a strange thought, because he remembered being happy with Masahiro and Hiroki, and he remembered distantly being happy with his parents, but there was a persistent thought that he is happiest now. He is happy now, Sukuna told him so, and when Sukuna said something, it must be real. Yuji was the happiest he'd ever been with his brothers. Eso and Choso walk him to school each day and pick him up after school too, with Kechizu waiting patiently behind the house for them before they all tear off into the woods to play. Soon, Yuji began to hate having to go to school, preferring to stay at home with his brothers and grandfather when he could play and have fun and not have to worry about anything, with his family there to protect him.

At school, there was no grandfather, no Choso or Eso or Kechizu. Just Sukuna.

During a school soccer match, Sukuna’s fist flew out, catching the side of Yuji’s jaw. Their fight was more vicious than it’s ever been, biting and scratching between furious punches and kicks. When they were finally dragged off to infirmary, Sukuna glared the nurse into a swift retreat, uncaring that his open wounds were oozing blood onto her crisp linen sheets.

“I hate you,” Yuji spat at his brother, but Sukuna merely grinned.

“Will you curse me now too?” Sukuna said sweetly, and bile rose in Yuji’s throat at the memory of his grandfather’s tear-stained face telling him his parents had died in a car crash.

Despite himself, he felt the traitorous tears well up, hating how Sukuna laughed when Yuji tried to stop them from falling down his cheeks.

“So predictable,” Sukuna muttered. Hoping from the bed, he stood over Yuji, eyeing him before nodding. "Happiness is an illusion, Yuji. You are weak, your heart is weak, and you can't save anyone." He pinched Yuji’s neck as he strolled out, uncaring that they weren’t supposed to leave the infirmary until their grandfather arrived to collect them.

Yuji waited and waited for their grandfather in the infirmary until his teacher arrived with a grave expression and quietly offered to drive him home. They tell him later that his grandfather was at the hospital, that there had been an accident. They tell him Eso and Kechizu’s bodies were never found, and after that day, Yuji never saw Choso again. He wanted to ask more, but there wanted to know the details, but time slipped away until it was a week later and grief was setting in. His grandfather had stormed his way out of the hospital bed days before he was meant to be released, cursing up a storm, but rather than it making Yuji happy, he was terrified at the way his grandfather looked, strangely thin and fragile in a way Yuji had never considered before. After leaving inscense at the funeral plaque, his grandfather retreated to the garden to smoke despite his doctor’s strict orders not to, leaving the house to descend into a heavy silence. Yuji disapepared to his room with the bundle in his hands, curling into a ball on his futon and finally began to sob. He couldn’t understand how his brothers were suddenly dead. He couldn’t understand why his grandfather had said nothing about it but was seemingly angry all the time now. He couldn’t understand.

There’s a sharp pinch on his neck, and Yuji lifted his face to meet Sukuna’s amused gaze above him. Sukuna flicked the stolen funeral plaque in Yuji’s arms but said nothing of their removal from the shrine downstairs.

“Brat, I told you to quit the stupid waterworks.”

“But they’re gone, Su-tan,” Yuji wailed, slipping into the old nickname without thought. “Eso-nii and Kechizu-nii are gone, and now Choso-nii has disappeared too! Don’t you even care that they’re gone? Don’t you love anyone but yourself?”

“Why would they stay?” Sukuna said softly, tracing the names on the funeral plaque with Yuji’s spilt tears. “Why would they be safe from death? You wanted them to remain by your side and waste away living according to your whims. Know your place, Yuji. What have you done to deserve that, what do you have that could make them stay? You love them so easily, and you hate so easily, and your hate becomes a curse on them. You care and they do not, and it becomes a burden until in the end they all leave you.”

The funeral plaque goes spinning as Yuji launched himself at Sukuna, rage driving his punches harder and faster than he’d ever struck before. Beneath him, Sukuna drove his fingers into Yuji’s ribs until they creaked, forcing Yuji to relent with a cry of pain. Sukuna spat, saliva a bold red, and Yuji shuddered at the sight, rage ebbing and leaving a hollow despair in its wake.

“Love and hate are the same thing as a curse,” Sukuna mused. “Loving or hating someone, both can be a burden, both can be a curse. But you know, 'love is the most twisted curse of all'.” Sukuna’s smile was cold, his eyes fixed on Yuji’s face as it crumpled.

That day, Yuji decided he hated Sukuna too.

 

 

 

Sukuna and Yuji start middle school together in a new town nestled between the mountains. Their grandfather didn’t say why, but Yuji has begun to appreciate his silence now, preferring it from the ugly truths. He didn’t want painful reminders of the deaths he couldn’t prevent, and he most definitely didn’t want his grandfather to voice the things he could sometimes see flickering across his face, the accusations he was sure rested on his grandfather’s tongue.

Yuji had decided to be happy, so he pretends. He grinned and laughed with the other students, made sure to be as polite and attentive in class as possible despite his average grades, and even joined the soccer club and practices late into the night. This time, he was careful not to make friends, and a whole year flickered by without a single incident. Yuji was learning. He will be good; he will make it work. He knew his place. He smiled and laughed and joked, he went to his club and never accepted the invitations to hang out afterwards, politely turning down the offers for weekend karaoke or going to the summer festival together. Despite it all, Yuji was happy in the existence he had crafted for himself, happy in the careful distance he had created.

One of the boys in the soccer club goes missing over winter. The police find his body only once the snow melts. Yuji quits the soccer club.

He began karate instead, positive that this at least might be ok, since physical application was something he knew was alright, encouraged even. Strength was all that mattered in the world, after all. At the dojo, the team captain, Todou, took one look at him and decided to take Yuji under his wing, and despite him being extremely strange and kind of annoying, Yuji is horrified to find he liked him all the same. Todou was forward, unapologetically himself, smart and kind in his own way. But he was strong, and strength was all that mattered, so surely it would be ok to be friends with Todou. At the end-of-year competition, even Sukuna seemed impressed by Todou’s victories, cruel smile twisting his lips as Todou defeated opponent after opponent with ease. Strength was all that mattered, and Sukuna admires that, so Yuji doesn’t mind when Todou declares that they are best friends and gives him a ticket to a cosplay event by Todou’s favourite idol as a celebratory gift after the competition.

That night, Yuji walked into his room in time to see Sukuna carefully burning the ticket, uncaring when the paper drifted to the ground and left black scorch marks on the floor. Yuji briefly considered hitting him, but he hadn’t managed to land a punch on Sukuna since they were nine. He wanted to scream, but Sukuna wrapped a hand around Yuji’s wrist before he could speak, pulling him closer.

“Making friends again, even though you know it will only end in pain?” Sukuna murmured, pressing his cheek against Yuji’s. “Aren’t you tired of this? Hurting them over an over again is all you’re good for.”

He hated Sukuna, he hated him, screaming the words over and over as he clawed at his face, wanting to rip those identical eyes from Sukuna’s head. As always, Sukuna simply laughed at Yuji’s tears, drawing him close until the rage and pain drained from Yuji’s body and nothing but a clawing emptiness was left.

That Monday the karate club flinch when he walked into the dojo, watching his warily. The vice-captain tells him that Todou was in the hospital, an accident involving a tractor engine apparently. They couldn’t save his hand. It was unsurprising when the school spreads the rumour that Yuji Itadori is cursed. They whisper ‘monster’, and Yuji silently agrees. After all, death and misery seemed to follow him everywhere.

“Poor Yuji,” Sukuna crooned, even as he laughs at Yuji’s tears. Yuji pushed his face into his futon, trying to muffle the sobs wracking his body. He can feel warmth press against his side as Sukuna settles down next to him, feels fingers tracing along his spine. “You never learn, do you, you brat.”

He hadn’t wanted this, he had never considered this, but for the first time in his life, Yuji wondered why he was even still alive.

A curse. His existence was a curse.

“None of that,” his brother murmured, threading his fingers through Yuji’s hair.

Despite the familiar twinge of anger at his brother, Yuji felt himself relax into the gentle touch, shuddering as Sukuna’s nails scratch over his scalp. “Is it my fault?” he whispered into the futon, half hoping Sukuna wouldn’t hear him and half hoping he simply wouldn’t answer. Sukuna had never bothered concealing the truth before, not even when it would hurt Yuji. Or rather, he revelled in the truths that would hurt Yuji, grinning with delight whenever his weak younger brother crumbled that little bit more. “Am I cursed?”

Humming, Sukuna’s fingers settled on Yuji’s nape. “Foolish puppet, if you are cursed, then so am I.”

It wasn’t an answer either way, but strangely it still made Yuji feel better. Less alone. Yuji relaxed, letting Sukuna resume stroking down his back until his breath evened and pulled him into sleep.

 

 

 

By the time they begin high school, Yuji had learnt the rules to keep the curse at bay. He was friendly but had no friends. He was involved with school but had no ambition in his studies. He was skilled in all things but had no hobbies. He would speak to other students and teachers, friendly and polite, but he does not say anything of merit. The students and teachers at their middle school notice him, they interact with him, remember how he was in his first year and keep their comments at the change in him to themselves. The relationships Yuji now has with others are a distant thing, unconcerned and unconnected. It was lonely, but he was not alone. He has Sukuna.

When they start high school, there are new people, new faces who peer at them with interest, and Yuji silently despaired at having to create that distance once again. “Another pair of twins!” the girls in his class squeal and try to drag Yuji to meet their senpai Maki and Mai Zen’in. “Two sets of identical twins! This has to be fate!” they crow, crowding too close, laughing too familiarly. Yuji quickly shook off their hands and all but sprinted down the corridors back to the classroom, uncaring of how rude it was to not greet his senpai, but he cannot stay. He won’t risk it. Know your place, know your place.

When he arrived home, it was to Sukuna’s waiting arms.

“They kept trying to- And I told them no, but they didn’t- I really tried, I swear-”

“Enough,” Sukuna growled, pressing his hands into Yuji’s sides.

“I’m sorry,” Yuji repeated, tears prickling his eyes with mounting fear until Sukuna pressed his teeth to Yuji’s neck and bites down hard enough to draw blood.

“That will suffice as payment for today,” Sukuna declared, wiping the red from his lips. Yuji wasn’t sure what the payment was, the blood or the apology. He had long ago given up any hope of understanding what it was that Sukuna wanted, but pleasing Sukuna and displeasing Sukuna was integral to Yuji’s being now. Throughout Heaven and Earth, he alone was the honoured one. Like the Buddha, Yuji considered Sukuna’s arrogance, the utter surity of his own existence, and wondered if it was divine mandate that guided their lives. If they were not a curse, then what purpose did their existence serve? All Yuji knows is that here, in this life, the only absolute truth was that he lived according to Sukuna’s pleasure and displeasure.

 

 

 

Despite his best efforts, Yuji becomes friends with his classmates. He didn’t mean to, guardedly keeping to himself and resolutely not joining a single club, but it happened anyway, and before he can stop it, Kugisaki and Fushiguro arrived at his house unannounced and invite themselves in. He rationalises it as study, harmless enough, and commits the mortal sin of relaxing in their presence, letting their bickering wash over him. Kugisaki was lamenting over their snacks as Fushiguro pours over their collective study notes when Sukuna walked in on them. Yuji froze, terror crawling up his spine and a dozen excuses crowding his lips. Every version of apology and plea was ready to spill from his mouth before Sukuna’s mouth quirked into an easy grin and he dropped down beside Fushiguro, ignoring their surprised looks.

“The Senboku earthquake was before Hakodate, you translated the Taisho dates wrong,” he said softly, tapping Fushiguro’s messy notes.

“Er, thanks for that,” Fushiguro muttered, throwing a baffled glance at Yuji.

Lost for words, Yuji stared between them with growing confusion. Sukuna never bothered with anyone, least of all people Yuji hung around with. But he seemed relaxed, hands splayed behind him as he lazily watched Kugisaki squabble with Fushiguro over the powdered-sugar fingerprints she’d left on his notes about the Taisho period. Catching his eye, Sukuna’s grin widened fractionally, a playful smile that Yuji had only ever seen whenever he and Sukuna were properly fighting, or if Yuji had stumbled home bleeding from a fight with someone else.

Or when Yuji cries.

He shivered and ducked his head, aware of Sukuna’s gaze burning into him all night until Fushiguro and Kugisaki leave. Sukuna didn’t say a thing about them, and the silence filled Yuji with dread. He knew the warning signs by now, and vowed to break away from them before it was too late. He tried to make sure they never come over again, keeping his distance as best he can in class, but he knows keeping Fushiguro and Kugisaki from Sukuna is pointless given they attend the same high school. Being rude to those who don’t deserve it didn’t come naturally to him and avoiding them was hard enough when they were in the same class. They don’t take the hint, sticking to him like glue, so Yuji can do nothing but wait. He wondered if this time they would die, or if they would merely be crippled this time, like Todou had been. He wanted to worry, but it was tiring to live with worry day in and day out, so he decided it was simply easier not to care. It was an absolute truth of the world. Caring, worrying, wondering what would happen to them was all pointless; they lived according to Sukuna’s pleasure and displeasure.

 

 

 

After years of blissful emptiness, Yuji’s nightmares returned full force. Dreams of flesh and blood and bone, dreams filled with screams and yawning never-ending desire. He was scared, and yet so very hungry. He dreamed of Kugisaki and Fushiguro, of Todou and Choso, even the smudged faces of his parents, what little he can remember of them. He dreamed of their flesh torn open, their faces peeled from their skulls. He dreamed of sucking the marrow from their bones.

He screams himself awake each time and tumbled through the darkness until he reached Sukuna’s futon, crawling under the covers and curling around his brother. Sukuna never seemed to be asleep anymore when Yuji came to him, arms always open and waiting for Yuji. He never says a word about the dreams, but he never seems to need to know what is in Yuji's head. He always knew without words. His hands were soft, gentle, stroking Yuji’s sweaty hair and tracing patterns on his skin, but Sukuna offered no words of comfort or reassurance in the darkness. He didn’t need to. Yuji was unravelling day by day, and Sukuna knows it. Time slips away and days begin to blur. Happiness and sadness coalesce, leaving a yawning emptiness, an insatiable hunger. The yawning pit inside him grows, the chains that bite into his very soul pulling tighter, closing in around him like a cage of bone and blood. A curse from me to you. Yuji stops sleeping, preferring the feeling of his own body tearing itself apart with exhaustion than the painful state of sleeping where he is helpless to relinquishing all control and at the mercy of the nightmares once more. He stops wanting to talk anymore lest it comes out in screams. He stops going to school, tired of pretending for Kugisaki and Fushiguro and his grandfather. Time slips by faster, becoming meaningless flashes as Yuji looses focus on everything but the bone-deep weariness and the hunger inside him.

Food is tasteless, ashes in his mouth, so he stops eating too. Sukuna is displeased at that, bringing him treats, sweets and cakes made specially for him that taste like metal, rich and full and soft with beating red centres. Yuji doesn’t question where the food comes from, doesn't think about the taste and what it reminds him of, because Sukuna tells him not to worry, and he is so very hungry. Sukuna always had a penchant for cooking, he will eat and not question; he knows better than to displease Sukuna. He will eat what Sukuna brings him, licks the crumbs from his fingers to chase the iron taste of it, but he hates that too. Even though the food Sukuna brings isn’t tasteless - but rather is beyond heavenly, mouth-wateringly delicious - the hunger remains, howling in dissatisfaction.

More, more, more.

He is so hungry. He is so empty.

He doesn’t want to dream again, but here in this place, it is Sukuna’s wills that dominates and guides everything.

“Finally getting it, eh, brat?”

Sukuna circles around him, fingers toying with the gaping wound in Yuji’s chest.

“Don’t,” Yuji whimpered, trying to hold on as his consciousness wobbles and slips. “Please don’t.”

Sukuna laughs with a red-stained mouth. Yuji’s heart pulsates feebly in Sukuna’s cupped palms.

“Hush now, brat. We can work on the dream a bit more tomorrow. I think we’re ready to see what happens to your new friends, eh?”

Sukuna’s nails trace delicately over Yuji’s exposed ribs, drawing patterns in his congealing blood.

“Please,” Yuji begs, unable to stop the tears leaking out the corners of his eyes. “Please don’t make me wake up.”

“Maybe we can add Satoru Gojo in tomorrow night, huh? Or should we bring back Kaori-Mama again, have her kill the old man. I let Wasuke live longer this time and he is due to croak right about now anyways. How about we have Kaori-Mama kill the old man while we watch. What about we create that one that happened to that movie otaku’s mother? Do you know what a hemicorporectomy is, brat? I’ll have Kaori and Jin show you on Wasuke next time exactly how it’s done, won’t that be fun?”

“Don’t make me see it. I don’t want-”

“Or maybe we can play with someone new, bring in that movie otaku and that patchwork curse to play with each other, how does that sound?”

“Sukuna, please-

Lips brush against the shell of his ear as Sukuna’s fist tightens. Yuji flinches as his heart bursts with a sickening popping sound, watches blood gush from Sukuna’s fingers like a fountain. “Give in, Yuji Itadori. Give in to me, and I will give you a lovely dream. Continue to fight me, and I’ll give you the other dream. I’ll invade your mind until you forget what is real and what is not. Wasuke and Jin will have never loved you, they slit your throat when you were four after you killed your own mother during childbirth. Satoru Gojo was your enemy, and you ripped his head from his body with a single blow. Nobara Kugisaki was your lover who died in your arms, a burnt corpse that dissolves to ashes because you weren’t strong enough. Kento Nanami died cursing your name as you pull the eyes from his sockets. They never found the other half of that movie otaku’s mother’s corpse because you devoured her.”

Yuji sobs, tears blurring his vision. Sukuna brushes sharp nails against his eyelids, catching the tears, uncaring at the blood that follows in his fingertips’ wake. “I will destroy your memories, Yuji Itadori, until you cannot trust your own mind. I will devour your reality.”

The last words are breathed against his skin. A curse from me to you. Sukuna’s hand lazily petting Yuji’s innards as Dismantle tears him apart. “So just give in to me already, brat.”

 

 

 

Gasping, Yuji tumbles out of bed. He blinks at the room around him, hazily taking in the messy posters of Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook and the crumpled school uniform bunched at the foot of the bed. The dream still lingers, an eternity stretched out inside his head. Lying back, Yuji closes his eyes and begins to slowly try and sort through the cluttered memories, dead faces and innumerable mistakes jumbling together.

Real, not real. Real, not real. He hesitates as he sorts through them, trying to recall the eternity that was yesterday, but everything feels smudged, distant and strange.

The space between dream and reality is a curse.

In his head, Sukuna laughs and laughs.