Hardly ever do Kugisaki and Itadori co-exist in the same room as him and are not at each other’s throats or bother Megumi. But today’s not like that. Megumi calmly reads his book on his bed, sandwiched between his the two. Kugisaki is probably scrolling on Twitter going off of how pissed she looks, and Itadori is playing on his Switch. It’s a quiet day today. Dare Megumi say it’s peaceful.
But then Gojo-sensei comes barging in. “Awww! Look at you cute kids.” And just like that, chaos re-enters Megumi’s life.
Ignoring the flashing from Gojo-sensei’s phone as he takes a plethora of pictures, irritably, Megumi asks, “What do you want?”
“I’m heading off for a bit in preparation for our mission next week.” The bastard has the gall to invite himself into Megumi’s room and lie across their legs. “But I need one of you to get me a weapon from my room and bring it to me this evening.”
“Why can’t you do it yourself?” Kugisaki asks, also irritated.
Gojo-sensei snickers. “Nobara, I’m a very busy man, you see.”
“Where are you going, Sensei?” wonders Itadori.
“That is a secret, my dearest pupil.” Gojo-sensei lifts up his blindfold and winks at them, receiving a kick from Kugisaki as response. If she hadn’t done that, Megumi definitely would have. “Anyways, decide amongst yourselves. Here’s the key. Meet me later this evening in front of the college.” Soon, Gojo-sensei’s off.
The silver key sits untouched on Megumi’s bed. He, Kugisaki and Itadori share nervous looks.
“Shotgun not it!” yell his two friends simultaneously, a hair of a second faster than him.
Megumi grumbles angrily while the other two teens snicker like gremlins and he pockets the stupid key, dragging himself out of his comfortable position to put on a pair of dusty slippers.
“Bring souvenirs if you find anything interesting, Fushiguro,” Itadori says and continues to play his game.
“What if he finds Gojo-sensei’s stash of porno magazines?” Kugisaki ponders with wicked delight.
“Who even reads those magazines? The internet exists,” Itadori says.
Kugisaki smirks. “So defensive, Itadori. What would you know about the internet, you perv?” Their bickering soon commences and Megumi groans.
“So, you two are just going to stay on my bed while I’m gone?” Megumi asks.
“Absolutely, Fushiguro-kun,” Kugisaki confirms. She waves her hand, ushering him to leave. “Run along, now.”
Itadori and she starfish over his bed, rumpling the sheets he just fitted this morning. Megumi decides to leave before he can get too annoyed. (But really, he doesn’t mind that much).
Now that Megumi recalls, he hasn’t been in Gojo-sensei’s room all that much. He can’t picture what a mad man like him would choose to decorate his accommodation with. Gojo-sensei is out so often. There’s hardly a moment he’s settled in the college. So, when Megumi unlocks the door to find a pretty bare space that’s collecting dust, he’s not all that surprised.
Megumi allows himself to take in the sight, though. On the wall next to Gojo-sensei’s bed is a poster for that really old drama series Shinkansen Girls. Typical of Gojo.
But then Megumi takes a closer look at the wall and he finds yellowing Polaroids. He recognises Shoko from iconic mole, however her really short hair is a surprise. He recognises Gojo-sensei, too. That smile paired with those sunglasses are a sight for sore eyes. Whom he doesn’t recognise is the other teen donned in the Jujustu Tech uniform. His smile is kind and endearing. And his bangs…are another conversation.
Megumi pushes the questions he has out of his mind and continued to look for the weapon. Gojo mentioned they were scissors, which Megumi finds weird. Regardless, he rummages through Gojo’s stuff, searching for the pair of scissors. He even looks under the dusty desk which houses nothing except—
Is that a phone?
Megumi picks the phone up and studies it. He remembers having a model similar to it when he was around seven and Gojo-sensei gifted him his first mobile phone. But his was a blue Sony Ericsson. This phone has more wear and tear, the scratches on its surface indicative of the abuse it’s faced with Gojo-sensei as its owner. He wonders what’s so important in this phone that Gojo-sensei would keep it all these years. Curiosity gets the better of Megumi and he pockets the old piece of technology.
Then, Megumi feels his own phone vibrate.
“What’s taking you so long?” Kugisaki asks from the other end.
“I don’t know what the weapon looks like. I haven’t seen scissors or anything,” Megumi answers back.
“I think I got a picture of it somewhere. I’ll send it to you.”
That is not a pair of scissors. But, whatever. He collects the strange weapon from next to the wooden drawer.
“Got it. I’m coming back now. My bed better be clean by the time I’m there,” he instructs, knowing full well it was going to be a mess.
“You got any souvenirs, Fushiguro?” Itadori asks.
His mind wanders to the light phone in his pocket. “Yeah, I actually do.”
“Isn’t this a violation of privacy?” Itadori asks in a concerned tone.
They’ve returned from their quick trip later to a local technology store later that day after having bought a charger for the flip phone. Kugisaki insisted they should because according to her, “keitai culture is the biggest craze right now” and finding a Docomo Panasonic P-06C in such good condition is like “finding a first edition Blue Eyes White Dragon”.
“What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him,” Kugisaki further rationalises. “And maybe he’ll even agree to letting me keep the phone.”
The start-up tone of the device trills and immediately excitement takes the place of prior ethical concerns. Thankfully, Gojo-sensei wasn’t smart enough and/or concerned to put a password because the teenagers are quickly able to get stuck in.
Kugisaki commandeers the operation and goes straight for the camera roll. “Let’s see what dirty secrets Gojo-sensei’s been hiding from us.”
2005 Gojo-sensei’s album is full of pictures of a woman – the same one on the poster Megumi saw on the wall.
“Ah, it’s Waka Inoue!” It’s no surprise Itadori would recognise her. “Gojo-sensei has some taste.”
“Yeah, she’s hot,” Kugisaki nods in agreement.
Going from oldest to most recent, they see more pictures of some young Nanami who’s stood with another short-haired student Megumi doesn’t know. Itadori pulls his phone out to take pictures of younger Nanami in a fit of giggles.
“Puberty really favoured him,” he laughs.
They get closer to June 2006. That’s when pictures of the teenager with the weird bangs become more frequent.
“Oh my God, he’s handsome,” Kugisaki whispers. “How is Gojo-sensei friends with someone this attractive?”
It seems that they – younger Gojo-sensei, the bangs-dude, Shoko and who he thinks are Mei Mei and Utahime-sensei – are at the beach. The pictures are blurred but it’s not hard to tell that they’re all really happy.
Soon, our trio stumble on some videos. The audio is a bit blown because of the wind however they can still make out their voices.
“Shoko! Suguru! Look this way, I want to get a video of you guys!”
“So, the hot guy’s called Suguru…” Itadori notes.
“Satoru, let’s bury Utahime in sand,” Suguru yells at him. Gojo-sensei probably then started to run towards him because the video becomes one blur and suddenly cuts off. The next picture is evidence that they did just that as Gojo-sensei and Suguru are grinning like bastards, posed in front a rightfully pissed Utahime-sensei who’s buried neck deep in sand.
A strange but welcomed homely feeling drapes itself around the teenagers as they continue to watch the videos, falling silent without realising it. It’s odd hearing how happy Gojo-sensei sounds. His laughter feels genuine and full of life whenever he’s with Suguru. It’s probably the most elated Megumi has ever seen him. There are some classic mirror selfies of the two where they’re looking fondly at each other, faces mere millimetres apart, and suddenly, those previous ethical concerns come creeping back.
“Jesus, Gojo-sensei had a boyfriend? Who was this hot? And he never told us?” Kugisaki sounds deeply offended.
Megumi does wonder why he had never seen this Suguru guy before. As far as he remembers, Gojo-sensei and Shoko were the only third years at Jujutsu Tech.
The pictures become sparse during August 2007, though there is a strange selfie of Gojo-sensei posing with an unconscious man. Suguru still appears occasionally, but his warm smile has vanished and his eyes have become sunken and fatigued.
“Suguru…Suuuu-guuuu-ru.” Gojo is shoving the camera into Suguru’s face while poor Suguru tries to enjoy the setting sun’s rays at the beach.
“What is it, Satoru?” Suguru asks gently. Wow, he’s a patient man. “Must you always have that damn camera out?”
“You look so pretty, though.”
Needless to say, the energy in the room got really awkward real fast. Kugisaki, Itadori and Megumi feel a bit dirty now listening to how tender Gojo-sensei sounds. They couldn’t imagine him ever speaking to someone with such admiration in his tone and genuine care.
Gojo-sensei asks, “We’re the strongest, right?”
Suguru doesn’t respond rather he smiles.
“Of course, we are,” Gojo-sensei whispers, although he doesn’t sound too convinced.
Then the video ends. After September 2009, the camera roll is completely barren. There’s nothing more prying eyes could see after that.
The trio take a few silent moments to reflect on what they’ve witnessed. It’s Kugisaki who speaks up first after scrolling through the phone a bit.
“His old messages are there,” she says. She looks at her two friends. Words don’t need to be communicated to know that they won’t be reading them. They also telepathically agree that this evening will be kept to themselves. Kugisaki hands back Megumi the phone.
Itadori then says, “You’ve been here the longest. Do you remember Suguru?”
“No,” Megumi answers. “He wasn’t around when Gojo-sensei was in his third year. I always thought Gojo was alone with Shoko, but I guess not.”
He still finds it hard to believe there was a time when Gojo was the strongest with someone else.
Megumi finds Gojo-sensei stood at the entrance to the college late that evening. He seems to be on the phone talking to someone when Megumi approaches him, scissors that are definitely not scissors in his hand.
“Ah, Megumi. Thank you. I knew I could count on you,” Gojo-sensei glees and takes the weapon off him.
“I still don’t know why you didn’t get it yourself,” Megumi murmurs. “Are you headed off again?”
“Yep! I’m off to Rome. Gotta deliver this weapon back to them. Turns out this is not suited to be a cursed tool and I need to get a different one fashioned for you by next week. Did you know gladiators used them?”
“It looks like a botched pirate hook. Or a glorified pizza cutter.”
“That’s how you know it’s Italian made.”
Ignoring the jab at Italians, Megumi decides to bite the bullet at come clean. He pulls out Gojo-sensei’s old phone from his jogger pocket and holds it out in his hand. He takes notice of how his teacher’s face falters at the sight of the relic.
“Where did you get this?” Gojo-sensei asks in a hushed voice.
“Where else? Your room.” Megumi quickly realises that right now is not the time to be a brat. There’s not a sliver of humour in his teacher’s expression. Megumi clears his throat. “I found it under your desk. We charged it and looked at your pictures.”
Gojo-sensei huffs out a shallow laugh. He takes the phone from Megumi and studies it meticulously, with awe and disbelief. “God, I hope there weren’t any lewd pictures of me left on here.”
“Ew, no,” Megumi shudders. “But…there was another guy. With strange bangs... Suguru, I think his name is.” Gojo-sensei stills again upon hearing the name. Megumi knows enough social cues to realise that this is a loaded statement for his teacher. “I was just wondering what your whole deal with him was.”
Gojo-sensei takes a while to respond in any way. Finally, he heaves a sigh, stuffing the phone into his pocket. He smiles at Megumi, but it feels hollow. “It’s nothing.”
Megumi also knows a lie when he hears them, but he decides not to press any further and allows Gojo-sensei head off into the night.
The image of Gojo-sensei’s empty smile doesn’t leave Megumi’s brain for the next week. He doesn’t know why he’s so preoccupied with the thought of his teacher’s previous relationship with that Suguru guy. Maybe it’s because they seemed so close in the pictures and videos yet when Gojo-sensei took him and Tsukimi in, he uttered not a single word about the guy. It’s weird considering the blabbermouth Gojo is.
After a training mishap that lands him in the infirmary with minor injuries, Megumi finds this to be the perfect opportunity to ask Shoko about the pictures.
“Were you and Gojo-sensei always the only two in your year?”
Shoko’s normally half-lidded eyes widen for a fraction of a second and she halts her operation when he asks that. “No. Why do you ask?”
“We found pictures of you guys on Gojo’s old phone,” Megumi answers truthfully. “You look really different with short hair.”
“And there was another guy. Well, there were two. Someone with Nanami.”
Shoko’s face goes a bit solemn. Maybe he shouldn’t have brought this up.
They continue the appointment in dead silence.
Friendships can be fickle. Megumi never had people he would call friends prior to meeting Itadori and Kugisaki. In the short time he has known them, a bond stronger than graphene formed.
Cold waves lap at his bare feet. He hears Kugisaki and Maki squeal in excitement and Kugisaki quickly runs backwards out of the water. They’re all – second years included - at the beach, courtesy of Itadori. Panda and Inumaki are goofing about chasing each other. He watches how Kugisaki laughs with so much energy to Maki. She kicks the water and splashes it in the air with a great smile on her face.
Then she turns to him, hands on hips. “Hey, Fushiguro-kun. Have you seen Itadori? Let’s bury him in the sand.”
If he remembers correctly…
“Itadori’s over there.” He points to his friend who’s a few metres behind them, phone held up in both his hands.
“Oi, Itadori! Come here!” Kugisaki calls for him.
Itadori puts his phone away and waves back. When he reaches them, Kugisaki playfully kicks him and ruffles his hair. “You can’t enjoy the beach if you’re on your phone all the time.”
“I know, I know. I just wanted to get a video of all of us.”
Kugisaki nudges him with her elbow.
“What is it you wanted?” he asks.
“We wanted to bury you in the sand,” Megumi answers with a lazy smile on his face.
Itadori just laughs and he swears that laugh could heal.
This friendship Megumi has managed to get for himself is something he cherishes. He knows it runs thicker than blood. Whatever happened between Gojo and Suguru must have been indescribable for them to fall out like that since their friendship seemed stronger. It makes Megumi appreciate Kugisaki, Itadori and even his elders a lot more.
Gojo-sensei always says that being a Jujutsu sorcerer is a one-man game – that they all die alone. Megumi’s been a sacrificial person in nature, likely due to the fact that he doesn’t value his life as much as others’. But being surrounded by these people who he can wholly trust adds that value, he thinks. Certainly, Megumi feels much more connected to the world when he’s with them. Gojo-sensei must have felt the same to some degree.
Satoru hates entering this room. It reminds him too much of him. His scent, his laugh, the times they spent together on the bed not sleeping. Yet, in spite of how much Satoru detests his high-school room, he can’t let it go.
He sits at the desk and pulls out his old flip phone. It’s still got some charge from when the kids took it. Satoru steels himself and opens the camera roll.
He spends what seems like forever scrolling through the pictures with a laboured smile on his face. The sound of Suguru’s voice warms his heart and the fact that he’ll never get to hear him laugh again hurts more than a stab to the stomach. It’s a deep-rooted pain, manifesting itself as small tears in his eyes.
When he reaches the end of the camera roll, Satoru flicks back to his old messages. He only ever really texted Suguru. Starting from the very beginning of their chat thread, Satoru reads each message like they’re a holy text. He remembers so vividly each conversation they had from the moment they met.
14th January 2005
Me: Yo, Suguru, did you hear about the Huygens probe? – 21:50
Suguru: no?? 21:57
Me: cmon I told you it was due to land any day now.
it got to Titan’s atmosphere isn’t that fucking sick? Admit it, it’s cool (◕‿◕) 21: 58
Suguru: satoru, it’s ten and we have a mission tomorrow.
I don’t want yaga-sensei to have a fit cos u overslept 22:01
Me: And yet ur still up and messaging me back ♡ 22:01
Me: Oh, lol, they lost connection.
Imagine, it launched seven years ago for barely an hour of contact time. 22:45
Suguru: go to bed 22:50
Me: okayyyy mother.
gnight (ﾉ´ з `)ノsay it back! 22:52
Suguru: goodnight you dick 22:55
God. Satoru was such a space nerd. How did Suguru put up with him. He chuckles fondly to himself. Rereading these messages is a bittersweet experience. It’s a time he can never get back.
The fondness dissipates when he gets to September 2009.
23rd September 2009
Me: Suguru what the fuck is going on? 10:13
Five outgoing calls from Gojo Satoru – 13:47
Me: Suguru, would you please answer your phone? 13:48
Me: This is fucking serious I need to talk to you. 15:35
Suguru: I’ll be in town tomorrow. Meet me if you want 21:42
Satoru’s heart feels empty reading Suguru’s last message. It’s like a conversation that was cut short and he desperately wanted to give it the closure it deserved. Maybe that’s what is prompting Satoru to dial Suguru’s number into his smartphone.
His finger hovers over the call button. Maybe, by some inexplicable twist of fate, when he presses the green button, he’ll get a response. Satoru knows it won’t be the case but he still hopes. He presses the button quickly and brings the phone up to his ear.
“Sorry. The number you tried to call is not recognised or is no longer in service. If you believe that this is an error, check the number and try again.”
Satoru doesn’t try to call again. He exits his room, leaving the flip phone completely shut down and sitting on his desk to collect dust in that room of sore memories.