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And what if... what then?

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Gojo Satoru is a fast learner. A quick thinker. A man that manages to notice seven different things at once when he gets out of a convenience store, a bag full of sweets in one hand, footsteps and sound of snickers not as loud as the greeting bell he left behind.

A smile is displayed on his face despite having a vast range of vision; a lady across the street is holding her chatty dog like a purse; there’s a willy-nilly little glob of curse spirit getting crushed under a shoe sole; a shadow moves a bit too late to hide itself, peeking out from a small alleyway nearby. A smile is bloomed on Gojo’s face because of the sight right in front of him.

“It’s hot, isn’t it?” he says, approaching liltingly. “Kinda a bother to see you still wearing that outer suit even after my twenty minutes of grocery shopping.”

The man he’s talking to, Nanami, was preoccupied with his phone before he turns his head to face Gojo. He’s scowling under the protection of a tree, just how blinding the sun is currently now when he looks up at him.

“What took you so long?”

Or perhaps he is just annoyed because of that.

Gojo holds up his arms in submission. “Hey, you said it yourself, you don’t want to impose the space for the children that might need to cool themselves inside. It’s packed in there.”

Gojo offers the groceries from next to him, and he peeks inside with interest.

“Unlike you, I’m still working around the clock,” he responds belatedly while inspecting, and Gojo huffs softly seeing him scrunches his nose for a brief fleeting moment. “You are the one who wears thicker fabric of a jacket anyway.”

“I just got back from Middle East.” Gojo shrugs as he lowers his jacket’s zipper around the neck. “This is baby weather to me.”

Nanami pulls out the ice cream one by one. He keeps the cookies and cream flavored one to himself, though he’s more fixated to the other one. “Baklava…?” he hums, eyeing it suspiciously like it’s some kind of a broken tool. Gojo assumes the man knows what Baklava tastes like. “Is it seasonal one?”

“I couldn’t believe it either that they have it here,” Gojo says as he reaches for it, ignoring the accidental brushing of fingertips against another skin. “It tastes good, you know? The real Baklava from its original place, I mean. I miss it.”

“Knowing you, it must be too sweet for me,” Nanami says, as if he can correct the way Gojo judges his favorite food. Nothing can even come close to the older man’s mindset to bend it, if anything. “Though I don’t blame for the culinary route escape. You just,” he gestures vaguely before opening his own ice cream package, “got back from Middle East, after all. I’d do the same.”

Gojo smirks and chuckles lowly. “Is that envy that I just sensed?” he nudges Nanami by the elbow.

“No.” Nanami’s eyes roam the street, away from his. Summer is the perfect season for Gojo to play a quiz with himself: are people’s faces redden because of the weather, or some old brazen feelings? Is the warmth of something inside can even match the temperature outside of one's body?

At least, Gojo’s own is not strong enough to show at the tips of his ears, just as lightly the leaves at the top of the trees swaying from the breeze. When they’re alone without the kids or even Ijichi, under any weather taking a hold, his Nanami can be his most favorite type of Nanami. So quick to cut ties with professionalism to some extent, and all that because and for Gojo only.

“I’ll take you there one day, if you want.” Gojo can’t help but to grin when Nanami’s brows furrowed at the melting ice cream that drips on his fingers. He catches the man glancing at him just for a split second, out of accident. “There’s an old magic there that might turn me into a time traveler if I’m willing to learn.”

Nanami pats his clothing here and there for handkerchief with his free hand. “Knowledge so old must have some kind of a backfire impact for the wielder,” he mumbles absently, “A twist with side effects. Even the law for Binding Vow — no, don’t you dare.”

Gojo pouts when Nanami pulls back his hand as if scalded; glowering when he’s about to make a move to clean the sticky fingers with his own mischief intention. Such a man-child’s move, Gojo reads that expression with a genuinely amused smirk. A couple of pairs of passerby’s eyes make Nanami’s point.

Gojo suggests rather impatiently, “Do it yourself, then. Just lick it.”

“I’m going to wipe it on your jacket, see how you like it,” Nanami says, and retaliates for something else that he might’ve let out on his face without him realizing. Gojo cackles in harmless mock and dodges him easily as he fetches his own handkerchief from his front pocket and throws it to the blond. He closes the distance again once Nanami has finished wiping his hand clean.

“Anything that consist spells is made up. That’s how language works.” Gojo counters lightheartedly, and maybe a bit jokingly. He's well aware of the youngins' eyes on them from behind the glass.

“You say that as if you can reconstruct runes from eons ago without any special terms and conditions.”

Gojo’s shoulders shake, feeling giddy hearing that. “I love how,” he points out as he tears the wrapper of his ice cream calmly, “We both have different ideas about linguistic and historical factor that influenced it, just because I told you I want to seriously learn them. I’m just saying, meaning of something can always be changed, depends on how powerful our will and beliefs to do it.”

This time, Nanami intentionally glances at Gojo, skeptically. “What kind of cursed spirits that you encountered in Middle East to make you say that kind of thing…” he mumbles, more to himself, then shakes his head in disbelief. “You do realize you’re only twenty-something, right?”

Gojo nods and lets out an ‘uh-huh’ noise. He also realizes that they may or may not be having two separate conversations as well, right now, from the way Nanami is looking conflicted when he tries to respond him. “Which makes it even more encouraging for me to learn other languages, don’t you think?”

“Not for that part.” Nanami finishes his ice cream before throwing it to the nearest bin. That confirms it, Gojo thinks. “I meant the time travel part. It can’t be as easy as entering the term of Binding Vow, can it? It might cost a life and some more.”

“I’m Gojo Satoru.” Gojo just stares with a glint in his eyes when Nanami scoffs. “What? It’s an answer.” He offers Nanami the grocery bag again because there’s a water bottle there. “I can be a sorcerer slash time traveler slash linguist slash anything else at the same time, no big deal. All I need now is just-”

“More time,” Nanami says curtly, for whatever reasons. It’s not exactly a cut off, but it’s still surprising, none the less - for Gojo. Too bad the older man has forgotten how it feels like to get chills over an event in his life. He just watches Nanami sighs and takes the water bottle to pour it over his sticky hand, then drinks the rest of it long enough until Gojo finishes his own ice cream, ruminating over what to say next; if there’s even anything to say.

“So far, I’ve learned… English, since it’s easy peasy. Spanish, because I can. French, because I also can. And Italian, because it’s fun and you’re obsessed with pasta.” Gojo counts with his fingers, but Nanami is already interested with his phone again to check on updates from their assistants, probably intentional. “You also taught me about… what is it again... pikhoved...?” Gojo grins so wide when the word snatches Nanami’s attention so fast, he almost misses the embarrassment behind the incredulous expression. Gojo wants to lean into the man and fondly bump his head against his shoulder, but Nanami will punch him in the face if he does that while they're in public.

“You’re insufferable,” Nanami says, rolling his eyes and sighing harshly.

“Okay, and?” Gojo plants his hands on his hips, provoking. “Water is still wet. And. I’ve made my decision. Ah.” He clucks his tongue in realization when Nanami makes a face like a hissy cat at him. “Speaking of decision. I think I just got a revelation that in English, we ‘make’ decisions like little pieces of our own creation.”

He shoves his hands into his jacket pockets and bravely bumps his shoulder to Nanami’s in good jest, because, who is Gojo Satoru if not an attention seeker, especially one that belongs to his beloved younger colleague? He wants to talk more with Nanami, and spends more time with him when he senses Ijichi’s presence just three kilometers away from where they currently are.

“Meanwhile in Spanish...” he continues his rambling, “...oh, not only Spanish, now that I think more deeply about it. But also French, and Italian. 'Decisions’ are something that you ‘take’, like a transportation to reach a destination, leading you somewhere new…”

In the dunes just a couple of days ago, Gojo Satoru has seen and learned how easy the old soul of soldiers from the great wars turned into curse spirits after centuries of being buried alone underneath the endless sand. Borderless domain of tombstones-less tomb.

“So. What do Germans say about decisions, Nanami?” Gojo tilts his head to the side, searching for something in Nanami’s face. A grounding view.

The soldiers were all wrapped in nothing else but hatred and fiery obsession of killing, ending lives, and victory over one biased ideology. They’re all so powerful. They’re all people once. They’re all so - devastatingly lonely.

Gojo can't just admit out loud that he misses him, can he now?

Nanami gives up with the updates. He pockets his phone back, though still unable to return the gaze that lays heavy from the taller man just yet. “In German, we meet them,” he says, and shrugs, “Like friends.”

Gojo echoes with enough fondness coated with satisfaction, “Like friends." He smiles when Nanami nods. "That’s so neat.”

“Still. It’s a different kind of field of being a linguist.” Nanami turns his head to look at him with this sternity that sometimes bothered Gojo at nights before bed. “And you’re not stupid enough to play dumb with it. There’s no turning back from learning something like old magic, and you know it.”

“Of course, you’re right!” Gojo replies with a chuckle. He holds Nanami’s gaze for as long as he allows him to, and looks up to the sky when the man finally looks away. “I’m just saying, I think while I was in Rub Al Khali, the locals told me about how the dunes as the only thing that can contain the curse spirits. Feed them with strong enough compassion through the earth pure energy, and nurture them until they can claim their own identity just like the way mothers would - for their children. Because it’s the only thing that buries them feets under; their corpses, and memories, and the remnants of what they’ve done to arrive at death's doorstep.”

In troposphere above, the clouds roll in and cover the sun as best as they can, lulling a shade for the people below, though not more than half a minute. It’s blissful regardless, and Gojo gets to see Nanami’s face softens more clearly. Ijichi is stuck behind traffic lights just one and a half kilometers away. He still wishes for more time.

“You’re saying it like that, as if dunes can love a creature. Human, of all things, even in death.” Nanami is saying it with this indescribable gentle emotion. Like the patience inside of him just recharged once the piercing heat from the sun dulled. To Gojo's ears, he also sounds worn out from a ghostly tug of grief.

Gojo quietens, feeling faintly taken aback and is late a couple of seconds to conceal it in his body language. “It’s funny you say that,” he says, a little bit breathless. He remembers the mirage he had to witness in order to defeat a pair of twin special grade cursed spirits. “Because, fun fact, though this is just because it's so plausible that I feel the need to tell you this. In Arabic, it is not enough to say love for one another that you must say ‘be the thing that buries me’.”

Nanami turns his head slowly to face him, like he’s wondering if he has just misinterpreted Gojo’s tone and chosen words to imply the real intention of inviting him to do this, whatever this is, before his next mission without him, in that sentence alone.

“Be the thing that buries me, Nanami,” Gojo says quietly, his voice cracks, just for a little, and he instantly stills as a rock just a moment after he sees Nanami is looking at him. “Can you- can you believe that?” he adds quickly. Miserably. He’s clears his throat, fidgeting because he knows Nanami can see it, somehow; enough time to notice his slip-off, but not enough to let Gojo pull himself together. “What a twisted term for such frivolous thing, don’t you think?" His speech speeds up because of the nerves. "But, uh, you can’t deny that it is also beautiful, right, Nanami? Language is, I mean. All languages are truly beautiful, with all their own respective meanings behind every words."

Gojo knows he never openly panics before, and Nanami, by the look of it, for once in his life knowing him, can tell that there are hints that he blatantly shows when his heart inevitably starts to ache.

“Be the thing that buries me.”

Gojo turns his head to find Nanami repeating the words while still looking at him. His heart leaps to his throat and his face is aflame in three blinks of eyes. He’s a deer caught in the headlights. He's a predator being tested by a courageous prey. He's both when he notices Nanami's energy wavers as they lock eyes in unspoken, magnetic euphoria. 

Nanami smiles to himself when he lets Gojo go from his sight, hiding his face to the other way when a familiar sound of a horn from a car is heard, calling for them. “Yeah. Beautiful.”