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across the great divide

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I.

 

Who knew killing would be this fun?

He lets his whole body hang in the air for a few seconds, right arm outstretched with his hand balled tightly into a fist, and gracefully sticks his landing on his right foot without managing to lose his balance.

There’s a warm, thick liquid rolling down on one side of his face, plastering a few strands of stray hair to his forehead in the most unpleasant way possible, and he has to trump down the irritating itch that’s starting to crawl under his skin with every scarlet drop that drips down on his cashmere grey jacket.

A perfectly good suit can always be replaced with a much better set, he thinks to himself, and besides, there’s no better way to ruin his favorite than with the blood of the people he has scorned for years.

“You can stop now,” the tall man in the center yells, unsubtly instructing his men to cock the uniform assault rifles they’re all carrying. “We have you cornered. You won’t get out of here alive.”

God.

They all look pathetic even without his glasses.

He cranks his head to the side, huffing out a small, unamused chuckle as he straightens his back, and tilts his chin up rather arrogantly while keeping his eyes on the group of men in front of him.

“All right,” he says with the most devious smile he can muster, making sure to put on a show for them as he slowly loosens his tie before wrapping it neatly around his fist. “Which one of you wants to go next?”

Click.

His mind stops him for a moment, nudging him to assess the situation first.

There’s a five-second window in his consciousness that allows him to anticipate their next move—a mini glance into the future, as he secretly calls it—and he knows that there’s only one plausible collective action that they can do given their current position.

And so he jumps.

He hears the first shot of a bullet whir in the air, creating a high-pitched hiss that seemingly pierces through the space where the shadow of his figure was once standing. It almost sounds like a melody in his ears, quiet but not quite, and he feels his blood thrum excitedly in his veins.

“I said,” he repeats himself, eyes wide and glinting while baring his teeth as he descends on one of the men. He’s their weakest link, his mind supplies, and he can’t help but grin as he smells the putrid odor of fear leaking through the pores of the man’s skin. “Which one of you wants to go next?”

The man’s expression looks far more horrified up close to the point where he can’t seem to stop shaking violently under his grip—and yet it does nothing but fuel the carnage that his blood so desperately craves. He leans in, enough for his lips to brush the shell of the man’s ear, and decides to lower his voice down to a whisper. “I guess I’m just going to start with you.”

He stretches his right arm outwards, palm facing the man in front of him to let his cursed energy flow through, and ruthlessly slashes a straight line across the man’s neck with the side of his tie-wrapped hand.

Beautiful.

He leans his head back, relishing the sight of the fountain of blood gushing out of the man, before turning to the other men with his lips curled into the nastiest smile he could muster.

He can already see the weakest point of his next target.

The wringing sound of the bullets going off all around him spurs him into a dance, his body seemingly moving of its own accord as he dodges and veers away from anything that might injure him. He reaches his target without even breaking a sweat, doing the same thing he had done to the other man but with a special focus on this man’s arms, and immediately moves on to the next one.

It becomes a scoreboard, then, each kill turning into an insignificant number inside his head as he hacks and cuts through anyone who attempts to breathe in his path.

Thirty.

Thirty-one.

Thirty-two.

“You should’ve known better than to piss me off, boss,” he says, slowly walking towards the last man standing in the center of all the carnage he has made while readjusting the tie around his hand. “You know how much I dislike people who break their vows.”

“Please,” the tall man practically begs, not bothering to hide the tremble in his voice, and drops his assault rifle to the ground. “Please don’t kill me. I also have a family. Please. I’ll do anything and everything you want. I’ll even cut the interest rate if I have to.”

He cocks his head to the side, feeling a bubble of anger ready to burst inside him. “Can you bring back all the people you’ve killed?”

“...I can’t.”

“Oh,” he begins in faux disbelief, activating his cursed energy once more. “I guess we really can’t always get what we want, can we?”

With one swift motion, he leaps up and strikes at the man with all his might and cursed energy, effortlessly slicing his body in half with just one clean cut.

He stands on top of the severed body of the tall man, taking in a deep breath of the foul smell of death that envelopes the entirety of the office, and allows himself to look at the pile of limbs and torsos littering the blood-soaked floors without a single drop of remorse trickling down his conscience.

This is arguably his best work to date.

There’s a quiet beeping coming from his wristwatch, indicating that he’s done for the day, followed by the sound of the elevator pinging as it reaches the floor he’s in which prompts him to turn his gaze at the exit, wondering if there’s going to be another wave of men entering through the office’s designated elevator.

Except the only face he sees emerging out of the double doors is that of a man from his past.

“Well, aren’t you a sight for sore eyes,” the white-haired man says, displaying the familiar lopsided grin on his gloss-stained lips. The man holds his old blunt sword firmly in one hand, using the other to tug his blindfold down to his neck, and openly stares into his soul with those bright blue eyes. “Let’s go home, Nanami.”

 

II.

 

Nanami,” Gojo calls out from across the table, his voice ranging somewhere in between a growl and a whine. “Shut up.”

He raises his wine glass to his lips, swirling his red Romanée-Conti Burgundy for a few seconds before taking a small, tentative sip, and ultimately flicks his gaze at the man seated in front of him. “I don’t remember saying anything.”

“I know.” The man audibly clicks his tongue on the roof of his mouth and pops a piece of roasted shiitake mushroom inside it, not bothering to close his mouth while he chews. “But your thoughts are too loud right now and they’re making my tuna want to jump out of my plate.”

Nanami subtly lets his eyes wander around Gojo’s overall exterior, trying to figure out what the man’s intentions are based on the small pieces of emotions that bleed through the cracks of his otherwise scrunched up expression.

He’s always been good at reading people. Granted, a lot of them are practically open books with worn-out spines, but he still prides himself for having this kind of ability. After all, the majority of sorcerers and curse users alike only have one expansive innate technique, some even have little to no cursed energy at all, and he’s well aware that a curse user like him—who hasn’t even mastered how to do a domain expansion—has to pick up other useful abilities to somewhat compensate for that small blip in his technique.

Except, of course, his party trick never seems to work whenever he’s in the presence of Gojo Satoru.

For someone who can’t keep his mouth shut about all the nonsensical things he can think of, the man is definitely a lot harder to read than any of the people that Nanami has come across.

“You should stop frequenting here,” he tells Gojo after a few seconds, gently swirling his red wine once again as he openly stares at him with a blank face. “Your higher-ups will have a field day if ever they manage to catch even just a whiff of this.”

“A whiff of what, exactly?” Gojo counters almost immediately, the playfulness evident in his voice. “You don’t want them to know that you cook dinner for me?”

Nanami maintains his empty expression, fairly surprised that he still has the willpower to stop himself from glaring at the man, and takes another sip of his drink.

Gojo isn’t blind.

That much is obvious about him, at least.

He knows that Gojo can see everything clearer than any other sorcerer alive, knows that he can practically stare at a person’s soul if he wants to, and knows that the man has him all figured out even if he doesn’t show even a hint of it.

Only… he doesn’t know how much Gojo actually knows.

Nanami releases an inaudible sigh, carefully putting his wine glass on the table before meeting the man’s gaze once more. “A sorcerer and a curse user being seen in one place will never end well for any of the parties involved.”

“I think you’re forgetting the fact that you’re currently under my supervision,” Gojo says with a small smile, eyes shining brighter than before. “If those old farts want to continue on with your execution, they’ll have to go through me first.”

He raises a brow at the man. “What makes you think I need your protection?”

Wow.” Gojo pops another mushroom into his mouth without taking his eyes off of him. “You’re so scary now, Nanami. Did your hairstyle have anything to do with that? Your cursed energy feels a hell lot stronger since you got rid of your emo—”

Nanami picks up his dinner knife and throws it straight at Gojo’s jugular without hesitation, eliciting a hearty chuckle out of the man as the knife bounces off of his infinity and lands on an empty plate with a loud clang.

“See?” Gojo points out with an amused tone, turning the once small smile on his lips into the most shit-eating grin that Nanami has ever seen—and yet it’s somehow making his insides twist. “Scary.”

Shithead.

“And yet my technique doesn’t have any effect on you,” he tells him with another sigh, lifting his wine glass once more to hopefully conceal any kind of pigment that may color his face.

Gojo snorts, pouring a gracious amount of tomato and olive sauce on his plate before forking his way through his seared tuna. “That doesn’t change the fact that you’ve improved a lot when you managed to slip away from my fingers.”

A warm sensation suddenly blossoms from his chest and unbiddenly travels up to his neck, prompting him to down the remaining contents of his glass in one go. He looks back at the man afterward, feeling a slight burn at the back of his throat. “You have to stop saying it like that.”

Gojo doesn’t say anything in return. If anything, he looks more interested in what's left of his plate than whatever his reaction is. The man stares at the last piece of olive on his plate, eyebrows furrowed in concentration as he seemingly tries to piece a forgotten thought.

He looks more at peace like this, Nanami thinks to himself, forcefully dragging his eyes away from the man’s face before he catches him.

“It’s true, though,” Gojo tells him after a couple of dead seconds, softly tapping his forefinger on the neck of his beer bottle, and sighs. “I should’ve been there for you after what happened to him, but I wasn’t. I’m really sorry for that.”

Nanami tenses for a moment, feeling the memories he has buried in the deepest corners of his mind rush all at once towards him. He opens his mouth to reply, to tell Gojo that he has no right to bring up the past after everything, but immediately cuts himself off as the man drinks the entire bottle in three long gulps.

“You—”

Gojo simply wipes the droplets of alcohol on the sides of his lips with the back of his hand and smiles back at him. “He would’ve been proud of you, Nanami.”

 

III.

SAPPORO

 

“You didn’t actually need me here, did you?”

He hangs his head between his shoulders, catching the playful smile on the other man’s lips out of the corner of his eye, and considers staring at the polished wooden table in front of him for the rest of the night.

It’s been a while since he’s been to a place like this, even longer since he has had any kind of alcohol in his system, yet he still finds a strange sense of comfort in knowing that he can numb his mind and lose himself in the muted sound of his surroundings.

Except he’s here with him.

The loudest person he knows.

“Says who?” Gojo asks in a teasing tone.

Nanami raises his head slightly, flicking his gaze at Gojo without betraying the stoic expression on his face. “Says me.”

The man turns to him, an exaggerated pout drawn on his gloss-stained lips, and carelessly drags his stool closer to his as he tries—and fails miserably—to keep his blue-colored drink from spilling out of its margarita glass. “Don’t you like spending time with me anymore?”

“I don’t.”

Gojo fakes an over-the-top gasp, feigning offense at his abrupt and clipped answer, which turns into a toothy grin immediately right after. “You’re supposed to deny it, Nanami. Try again.”

“I’m not doing that.”

The man only airs out a light chuckle, shifting his focus on his drink as he slowly circles the sugar-coated rim with his middle finger, and Nanami has to forcibly turn his head away before Gojo can sense the intensity of his gaze and tease him again.

An air of comfortable silence falls over them after that, both wordlessly nursing their drinks while they drown themselves in the overlapping conversations floating all around them. It somehow makes him feel at peace and anxious at the same time—as if he was experiencing the calm before a massive storm.

It’s moments like this, he thinks to himself, that makes him want to go back in time… a time when he never had to worry about sorcerers and curses.

Gojo unsubtly clears his throat, gesturing for another drink as he drains the contents of his glass, and props his elbow on the bar, face resting lazily on his fist. When the bartender sets the man’s drink on the table—a Cinderella, he notices—Nanami suddenly feels the pair of eyes burning right through him.

“So,” the man starts, gently clinking their glasses together. “Have you made up your mind about my offer yet?”

Nanami keeps his eyes glued to his own glass, letting his brain process the question properly before his mouth can carelessly say something he might regret.

“I’m not fit to be anyone’s mentor,” he quietly tells him after a long stretch of silence, raising his glass to his lips to take a sip of his drink. “Especially when the mentee in question is Sukuna’s vessel.”

Gojo has never kept his intentions with him a secret.

For the last six months that they’ve spent glued to one another, the man has never failed to bring his new student into their conversations.

You should meet my new student, he remembers Gojo telling him earlier while he was in the middle of exorcising a curse. I just know you two will get along very well.

“He’s so much more than just Sukuna’s vessel,” the man replies defensively. Gojo removes his glasses and pinches the bridge of his nose. “He’s a great kid. An honest one. I’ve already seen his potential firsthand and I know that he has the strength to become a great sorcerer. He might even surpass me one day.”

Nanami sighs and shifts his gaze to Gojo’s face, feeling his skin thrum as he notes just how close their bodies are from one another. “And you honestly think that leaving him in the care of a curse user is a great idea?”

Gojo stares at him incredulously for a moment before rolling his eyes. He takes three long gulps of his Cinderella, as if he needs to get some sort of liquid courage from his non-alcoholic drink, and turns to him again, this time with his entire body facing him.

Nanami feels his own breath hitch at the sight before him.

Gojo’s eyes are practically glowing.

“You’ve always only been Nanami Kento in my eyes,” the man says, voice void of any of his usual playful tone as he stares straight into his eyes. “And I trust you more than anyone else in this world right now. I’d rather leave my student under your supervision than with any of the people inside.”

Nanami blinks at him, too stunned at the man’s words to formulate a coherent thought.

“Does this mean you trust me more than Ieiri?”

Gojo pauses, mouth agape and seemingly also in shock at the question thrown at him. His colleague then suddenly breaks into a chuckle, thankfully dispelling the somber air between them, and returns to his original position to down the rest of his drink. “You’re missing the point. She’s not included in this situation.”

Nanami scoffs but doesn’t look away. “You’re really skilled at saying sugary-sweet words, aren’t you?”

“I can’t help it,” Gojo replies with a grin. “And you already know that I have a sweet tooth.”

Shit.

How the hell can he say no to that?

He shakes his head and downs his drink in one smooth motion, gesturing for the bartender to give him two shots of tequila before drinking those as well, only to slightly wince as the alcohol burns its way down his throat.

Gojo whistles beside him. “I thought Shoko was just exaggerating back then, but you really do drink a lot, Nanami.”

“Only on occasion.”

“What’s the occasion, then?”

Nanami shrugs, mirroring Gojo’s earlier position as he props his elbow on the bar and places the side of his head on his hand, basking himself under the man’s watchful gaze.

Huh, he thinks, etching all the curves and edges on the man’s face in his mind. That’s one hell of a view.

Nanami shakes his head, releasing a soft sigh in the process, and finally lets himself smile at his colleague. “I heard I’m going to become a mentor.”

Gojo raises a brow, his sky-blue eyes widening in surprise as they search his face—probably to look for a definitive answer on whether Nanami really means it or not—before returning his smile, his eyes glowing even brighter against the dim lights of the bar.

“I think this is the part where you say thank you,” Nanami tells him in jest, eliciting a chuckle from the man.

He’s about to turn back to the bartender to order another Old Fashioned, already leaving their conversation at that, when he suddenly feels a warm hand on his cheek, effectively making him freeze in his spot.

“What is it?”

Gojo smiles at him, a hint of fondness evident on his face, before suddenly and unexpectedly leaning in to place a light kiss on his forehead.

“Thank you, Nanami.”

 

IV.

 

“Where are we going?” Itadori’s voice rings through the packed crowd, prompting several heads to turn in their direction. “Oi, Nanamin, why do you keep ignoring me?”

“Itadori,” he calls out with a sigh, adjusting his glasses on the bridge of his nose in an effort to subtly shake off the uncomfortable feeling of all the eyes directed at them. “Please stop calling me that.”

“Does this mean you can finally control your technique?” Itadori asks, walking a few steps in front of him, and Nanami sees the young man with his head tilted to the side as he looks up at him in visible confusion.

“What?”

“Gojo told me your curse technique’s still a little unstable from all your curse user sins and that there’s a ninety-percent chance it will get activated if I stopped calling you Nanamin so I didn’t want to risk it.”

He clenches his jaw and glares at the blindfolded man to his left. “You told him what?”

Gojo shrugs while whistling to himself, not even bothering to hide his amusement at their exchange, and walks ahead of them to look through the line of stalls selling traditional sweet treats.

Nanami lets his eyes wander down the man’s body, somehow enthralled at how Gojo manages to effortlessly weave through the congested street even with his hands inside his pockets, but immediately averts his gaze as soon as he catches the small curve playing on the sides of the man’s lips.

Only his action doesn’t seem to have any use—after all, the butterflies in his stomach haven't stopped fluttering since that night in Hokkaido.

“The higher-ups gave us a report that there might be a couple of unregistered special grades roaming the area,” Gojo tells them, stopping by the stall that sells boxes of delicately crafted monaka. “We’re here to check them out.”

“Might be? They’re unsure of their own report?”

“You know how it is with these types of missions, Nanami,” the man replies, briefly turning to Itadori with his mouth pulled into a grin. “We’ll only know how powerful a curse is once we encounter them.”

Nanami sighs, recounting all the times he has been sent on missions that were far more dangerous than what had been written in the reports. “You sorcerers really haven’t changed one bit, have you?”

“You’re also a sorcerer, though,” Gojo says, the smile evident in his tone. “Just with some strings attached.”

“I’m not.”

“Are, too.”

“I’m not,” he deadpans with a click of his tongue, allowing himself to glance back at Gojo and wipe off whatever smug expression he has on, only to see the man facing the sky with a serious look on his face.

Something’s coming, his senses seem to warn him, feeling the hairs on the back of his head stand up as a sudden strong presence loom overhead. He flicks his gaze back at Gojo, briefly watching the man’s thoughts write themselves all over his face before verbalizing them. “You think this is the work of the ones who hijacked the Goodwill Event, don’t you?”

Gojo turns to him with a smile and a brow raised behind his blindfold. “For someone who openly claims to have no respect for me, you seem to be really good at reading my thoughts, Nanami. Care to share why that is?”

He stops, staring back at the man with the most incredulous expression he can probably put on, and feels the butterflies in his stomach come to a halt as his heart seemingly restarts on its own.

“What are you—”

Nanamin,” the nervousness in Itadori’s voice and the hand on his shoulder cut him off, causing him to abruptly turn to the young man beside him. “Isn’t that a curtain?”