“Hey, are you sulking again? Come on, you know I didn’t mean it!”
Yeah, you did.
“Megumi-kun, you always look so broody. No one will approach you like that!”
I don’t care. Who cares about other people and whether they want to be with me or not? Talk to me or not?
“Megumi-kun, hey, hey, Megumi-kun… make sure… you … ”
“Fushiguro. Hey! Fushiguro! Are you listening to me?”
Megumi feels a second pass as he keeps his eyes closed, a single tic as he remembers where he was, where he is . The dorm common room. He feels the stiff, plush leather of the couch beneath him and against his back. His feet are planted firmly on the floor. There’s a soft weight draped over him.
His eyes slide open, blinking once, slowly, before they shift over to the sound of Kugisaki’s voice. She frowns at him, arms crossed over the soft rouge sweater she’s wearing over a pair of fancy tights she probably spent half her stipend money on again. The look on her face is mildly annoyed with his lack of response, but she seems more troubled than anything else, brows creased and her finger tapping nervously on the inside of her arm.
She’ll get mad and be a pain to deal with regardless, so Megumi just bites the bullet, “What did you say?”
Kugisaki rolls her eyes, huffing in exasperation. “I said , ‘Have you seen Itadori anywhere?’ He was supposed to be here, but I can’t find him!”
The name leaving her lips finally rouses his conscious back into play. Megumi sits up a little bit, feeling the soft weight over his chest shift down into his lap. He glances down, staring at the worn down blanket for a moment longer before it comes rushing back to him in perfect, warm clarity.
Yes. Megumi almost says. Itadori had just been here with him in the common room. There’d been a movie he kept babbling about, mentioning this and that with eyes that did a poor job of concealing his hopefulness that Megumi would say, “Why don’t we watch it then?” But Megumi wasn’t that kind of person, and he didn’t want to watch the movie. He just wanted to recede back to his room. Read. Think. Train. Anything else.
But it’d been Itadori. Itadori and his quiet, waiting eyes even though his personality was anything but quiet. Itadori, awkwardly ruffling the back of his head, grinning.
Itadori, who Megumi was quietly, aggravatingly beginning to realize, could get him to do more than Megumi wanted to do. Could get Megumi to do things he didn’t want to do.
(Itadori, an idiot who couldn’t hide a single thought on his face, showing just how happy he was for Megumi to do something as simple as sit and watch a movie with him.)
Hide your emotions better. Megumi had said that once to his sister. You don’t know what people are going to do with them.
People would come after you just for being happy. They didn’t care. A person’s happiness was more than reason enough for them to feel like they needed to do something about it.
“But if I show Megumi-kun I’m sad, you’ll do something about it then too, right?”
“He was just here,” Megumi says calmly, sitting up and searching the room in one simple sweep before it fell back onto the blanket in his lap. It was soft but wrinkled, creased in spots and smelling like softener. Itadori had been using it, sitting on the opposite end of Megumi, swaddled up like a giant cotton ball with only his head peeking out. Megumi thought he looked ridiculous.
“...hey, what? It’s cold! You’re too cold-blooded, Fushiguro. Warm up that heart of yours, man.”
Megumi grips the blanket a little tighter, as though all eighty kilograms of Itadori would come tumbling right out of it.
“So he’s not here either,” Kugisaki frowns, putting a hand on her hip. “I was looking for him because he said he’d help me look through a catalogue—even if his opinion is useless, I just wanted someone to look.”
“Did you check his room?” Megumi says.
“Duh,” Kugisaki mutters. “That’s the first place I checked. I tried texting him too but he left his phone here.”
His fingers drift over the blanket. The movie hadn’t been one he liked, some foreign film about a man about to kill himself and something about Christmas. Itadori had seemed riveted. I fell asleep.
It wasn’t that Megumi felt bad for falling asleep. He’d already warned Itadori of possible outcomes since he wasn’t that interested in the film. The only thing lightly scratching the edge of Megumi’s chest, pricking his conscience, was that he did fall asleep and now Itadori had disappeared.
A quiet thought trickles into the back of his mind— were you that comfortable enough you could fall asleep?
No. Megumi thinks, reasonable and silencing. He’d been tired. They all were. Even Itadori. How the guy still had any motivation to want to watch anything when he’d crashed the entire car ride home from the last mission was beyond Megumi.
The small television screen is black. Megumi stands, nimbly folding the blanket and laying it over the backside of the couch.
“No one else has seen him either. They said he’d be with you but I guess not,” Kugisaki frowns at him. “Were you that boring that he left?”
Megumi gives her a dull look and Kugisaki huffs, unfolding her arms and looking around the room. “Any idea where he might’ve gone? He didn’t say he was going to go out?”
“...no,” Megumi says. The thought of Itadori mysteriously disappearing starts to grate on him, even though it shouldn’t. It can’t be helped. Considering the fact that Itadori was a walking time bomb for the jujutsu world, it only made sense any unease about his whereabouts were within reason. In a roundabout sort of way, Megumi tended to feel he ought to be up to bat when it came to Itadori.
Megumi was the one who brought him into this world anyway. It just made sense. Itadori was the kind of guy who needed looking after.
Because he got involved with all of this for you? Partly. Because he’s your classmate? Partly. Friend? ...partly. Because —
“Live a long life — ”
Megumi stops himself from going any further.
“You go ask Gojo-sensei then,” Kugisaki says, already turning on her heel. Megumi looks up after her back. “He should know, right? You need permission to leave school anyway.”
“Why me ?” Megumi asks slowly. Kugisaki rolls her eyes.
“Because you lost track of him in the first place,” she quips, examining her nails. “I’m going to ask Maki-senpai and Panda-senpai since they might’ve seen him too.”
Her logic makes little to no sense to Megumi, but it’s pointless arguing anyway. He rubs the back of his head, sighing as he makes his way to the door. Kugisaki looks satisfied, meeting him halfway and holding the door open for him.
“Besides, don’t you have some kind of Itadori-GPS built in you anyway?”
Megumi closes the door after him, right in her face. He doesn’t feel regret, not even when Kugisaki starts to curse his name to the high heavens and the lowest hells, telling him to sleep with one eye open.
“Megumi-kun, don’t be so mean. If you have time to be mean, why don’t you try being nice for a change?”
“Hmm? Yuji? What about him?”
Megumi withholds a sigh, keeping his hands in his pockets as he mentally prepares himself for the possible mental strain he’s about to go through when dealing with the particular man in front of him.
Gojo Satoru rocks back on his lounge chair, an expensive looking, plush thing that had Itadori and Kugisaki pawing at it whenever they got the chance. Megumi did notice though that Gojo-sensei seemed to let up just fine when Itadori would come over, getting excited over something as simple as a chair. Idiots.
Though their teacher seems to look the picture-perfect definition of ease—feet kicked up and a basket of sweets sugary enough to make Megumi’s teeth hurt looking at them—he knows Gojo’s anything but. The stacks of books sitting on the floor at his side detailing a new set of philosophies and theories promises that, along with the crumpled, folded pile of newspapers detailing world news. The worst thing about Gojo’s that he’s always moving, climbing leagues ahead of any natural human being.
Gojo’s got a pair of dark shaded sunglasses on instead of his usual blindfold, peeking up over the rim of them with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. His lips are curled into a disgustingly sneaky sort of grin when he faces Megumi.
This bastard knew exactly where Itadori was.
“...Kugisaki wants to know where he is,” Megumi says flatly. Gojo hums again, feigning thinking as he taps a spoon against his chin. “They have plans.”
“I thought he was watching a movie with you, though?” Gojo says innocently. Megumi feels a vein throb against the side of his head, but his hands clench inside his pockets instead. He frowns at Gojo. “ It’s a Wonderful Life , right? Watched it with him. Not bad. Did you get bored?”
“No,” Megumi says. He refuses to grit out I fell asleep or anything else that will cure his teacher’s boredom. He also refuses to think longer about the fact that Itadori watched the movie with Gojo already. Then why watch it again, idiot? “Where is he?”
“Hmmm,” Gojo says, dragging out the sound. “If he didn’t tell you himself, maybe he doesn’t want you to know.”
Megumi’s brows furrow a touch, scrunching together. His lips thin out into a thoughtful line, silently racking his brain over the idea. What the hell is he talking about? Was there something Itadori needed to do by himself?
Why didn’t Itadori just wake him up? Because he wanted to let me sleep?
“Haha~ Didn’t think about that, huh?” Gojo says cheerfully. “Maybe Yuji thinks you’re too overbearing so he doesn’t want you tailing after him—”
Megumi turns on his heel, ready to leave. Gojo bursts out into laughter behind him, pressing harder at Megumi’s nerves as he narrows his eyes, looking over his shoulder back at his teacher. Gojo sighs, thoroughly content with himself as he taps his spoon against his lips. “Struck a nerve, huh?”
“Do you know or not,” Megumi says flatly. He shouldn’t have wasted his time. Kugisaki. He’d be better off just asking one of the few managers by the front. They’d have seen Itadori leaving.
It didn’t strike a nerve. He wasn’t overbearing. Who else is supposed to make sure Itadori and by extension, Kugisaki, even if she says she isn’t as crazy as the former—don’t get themselves killed? Megumi’s got the most experience between the three of them anyway.
“He mentioned something about grabbing some snacks~” Gojo says breezily, leaning back in his chair and picking up another book. “The convenience store down the hill maybe?”
It’s all Megumi needs to hear. He flashes Gojo one last, withering look before reaching for the door handle. Any second longer with their teacher would threaten his patience. I need to go find Itadori.
“By the way,” Megumi doesn’t flinch, just sours a bit by the door as Gojo opens his mouth one last time. “Did you like the movie?”
Megumi frowns at the door. He traces back to the parts of it he can remember, barely a bit of the beginning and somewhere to the middle. The movie was easy to pick apart from the beginning, just about a man realizing the affect his kindness might’ve had on others. Simple.
The kind of movie Tsumiki easily would’ve liked. Kindness was a simple thing to understand and show. It’s part of what made the whole thing nauseating to Megumi.
“It was fine,” Megumi says, opening the sliding door to leave. Gojo hums, spooning another mouthful of shortcake.
The screen door closing behind Megumi isn’t enough to muffle out Gojo’s last mused words.
“Movies like that aren’t much to guys like you and me, but everything to people like Yuji, huh?”
The sun’s starting to set outside, shining through the hallway windows and painting the corridors dark gold. Megumi watches the long shadows stretch outwards, feeling them almost shift with life. He stands outside Gojo’s hall, the corner of his lips tugged downwards into a frown.
Megumi doesn’t even know the other half of the movie. He’s seen enough to know what it’s basically about.
“People like Yuji.”
“I already know that,” Megumi mutters, bringing one foot forward and walking.
Itadori and Megumi’s sister might not look anything alike, but they’re both the type to give simple movies like that more than the time of day. Because people like Itadori and Tsumiki are cut from the same cloth—the kind that bunches up in his mouth and makes Megumi feel sick to his stomach and at the same time, looking at them, sticking to their shadows—
“Tsumiki, why are you crying?”
“Didn’t you read this?” his sister shoved the newspapers into his face. She was sniffling, wiping at her nose and eyes as she searched for a tissue. Light was filtering in through the thin cracks of the window, illuminating their crummy apartment in hot orange hues. “Look!”
Megumi hated this time of day the most, when the shadows were at their longest.
He remembered frowning, picking up the crumpled papers Tsumiki probably scavenged off the floor from somewhere. He skimmed the contents before stopping at the corner where it talked about a man from Sendai who spent the last few years of his life writing letters—dozens and dozens of letters to people he’d met during his years and felt needed to hear them the most.
The man gave up everything he had, including donating all his organs to those people before taking his life. Several confessionals came out from these recipients about how he changed their lives, stopped them just short of taking their own—saving a small business from losing everything, his heart saved a little girl, his eyes gave a young man the chance to see—simple, unimportant things.
(How does it help us ?)
Megumi stared at the article before looking at Tsumiki, unimpressed.
Tsumiki snatched the papers from her brother, smacking him on the head too before folding them close to her heart. “Megumi-kun, maybe you’re too young to understand the greatness of a story like this. It’s wasted on you.”
“Shut up,” he muttered. These kinds of things were pointless. He didn’t feel like arguing with Tsumiki either, even though she never really got mad at him over things like this. She’d just smile, her dumb, stupid smile and try to ruffle his hair and go make dinner for both of them.
“I think it’s great!” Tsumiki said proudly, holding the papers close. “Don’t these kinds of stories give you a little bit of hope about the world? Hmm, it’d be nice if we could’ve been one of those people though…”
“That’s exactly it,” Megumi said. Tsumiki looked at him. “It’s pointless. It doesn’t help us so who cares about what someone else does? He just helped some people to make himself feel better about what he was going to do.”
Megumi watched the shadows stretch longer across their hallway. His hand balled into a fist at his side.
That kind of stuff makes me si —
“Megumi-kun, you’re such a sweet kid, even if you are a brat,” Megumi whirled around, staring at his sister and Tsumiki hid the lower half of her face with the papers, eyes curling up in a tell-tale smile. “You’re always thinking about us. Thank you.”
“But you know what’s nice?” Tsumiki held the papers back and smiled. “At his funeral — ”
Kugisaki (18:02) did you find Itadori yet??
Not yet. I know where he is. Getting him right now.
Kugisaki (18:03) well let me know if you need help.
It’s not hard.
Kugisaki (18:03) sure. sure. whatever
Kugisaki (18:04) tell him i’m gonna kick his ass for making me wait!
( Read. 18:04)
Kugisaki (18:05) did you just leave me on read?!?
Megumi turns his phone off, sliding it back into his pocket. He sighs, leaning back against the guard rail overlooking the rounded edge of the sidewalk. Thin throngs of people shift across the shopping alley as the evening lights start to come on, illuminating dark corners. Megumi watches them pass, eyes flickering over the heads of businessmen on their way home for work, a young woman hurrying, a father and his kid gathering groceries and small groups of students shoving shoulders with their friends, laughing and pointing.
The small residential city area beside the school isn’t large. Curses are low in number here, especially this close to the school. It’s conveniently located near the suburban part of Tokyo and near enough to the bustle that a simple train ride could easily send them into the heart of the city. If Itadori was out just grabbing things, odds were he didn’t leave this area.
The convenience store they all frequented sits behind him, a few people going in and out. Megumi waits beside it, thinly feeling out for his Divine Dog who he’d sent off to go sniff Itadori out. It’s easier to do this then go around looking when I don’t even know where to start.
The thought irks him, light and straining in the corner of his conscious. Megumi ignores it. If he tried hard enough it wouldn’t be that difficult to imagine where Itadori might have gone, but it still wasn’t a necessarily easy task either. Itadori was the kind of guy you could send off to get groceries and be back without a hitch or go missing for an extra two hours, eventually making his way back home with a handful of things he didn’t need.
“I saw something kinda cool.”
“I wanted to check that out!”
“Hey, Fushiguro, wanna go try that? It looks good!”
“Fushiguro, let’s — ”
Itadori wasn’t stagnant, always changing, running off somewhere just out of reach of fingertips or shadows, charging toward something, anything, blindly and unknowingly—
Megumi’s eyes drift back to two high schoolers. One of them shouts about something, motioning eagerly to a window while the taller one hangs back, silent but grinning. They both look to each other and laugh. Megumi’s eyes shift to where the taller one’s knuckles brush against the other’s and then Megumi looks away.
Now showing! International, critically acclaimed film, tonight only! Tickets on sale now! Visit our website at —
“...is this a joke?” Megumi mutters in disbelief, staring at the poster now looking right back at him.
The poster is a perfect copy of the one sitting on the dvd back in the common room, translated into Japanese for the advertisement. It’s a Wonderful Life! stares right back at Megumi without a care in the world. There’s a screening right here in the town, later tonight in a couple hours. It’s a series of old foreign films the local film association is trying to show in the nearby theatre. Tickets could be bought online.
Megumi stares at it like he would a curse.
People continue to move in and out around him, barely sparing the poster a glance. Megumi figures it’s not even particularly popular with people, too obscure.
“Fushiguro, want to watch this one with me? It’s good! Crazy good! Not much action but… hey, don’t look like that! Fine, fine, I’ll go watch it by — ”
Megumi starts to recall more parts of the film. The main character had been stopped from taking his life by his so-called guardian angel—from there on out, it was a matter of witnessing all of his actions to understand why he shouldn’t die. It doesn’t matter though. Over and over again the main character kept pulling short sticks, ridiculed or wronged by people who’d never get the karma they deserved.
(So, so stupid .)
People never got what they deserved, good or bad.
Megumi’s hand clenches tighter around his phone. He stares at the poster and the link, frowning at it and himself.
What are you even thinking?
“Megumi-kun, you’re so — ”
“ Woof, ” Megumi’s eyes turn from his phone screen down to his shikigami, slipping his phone back into his pocket as his dog returns, sniffing happily at his feet.
“Show me where he is,” Megumi says. His shikigami lets out an affirmative bark, sticking to the dark shadows lining the bricked wall as Megumi follows behind him.
It seems like Itadori isn’t far. His shikigami almost trots up to where the sidewalk curves over and quickly looks back at his master, tail wagging. Megumi’s hand slides over his head, ruffling past the tips of his ears as he moves between two overhanging trees, heavy with buds that won’t bloom for another month or so.
Megumi stands in the dark shadows of the trees, frowning when he realizes the space has opened up to a park. A few rusted swings wait at the side and a play set stands in front of him, three kids running in and out around it—
“Hey! What the heck? I totally got you that time!”
Beside him his shikigami’s tail wags harder, hitting the floor in a series of thump thumps. He pants, looking expectantly at his master who stands still, watching in silence.
Itadori’s tufts of almost pinkish hair pop up from around the playset, eyes bright as he laughs, grabbing onto one of the poles to hold himself up. The sunset stains the sky in a blood red swatch, shading into dark gold. Long shadows drag every which way over the park, but none of that seems to bother the three children and Itadori, running around without a care in the world.
Megumi spots a few plastic bags sitting on a bench and his eyes instantly draw back to Itadori, a little girl in pigtails giggling as she peeks from around Itadori’s knees, blowing her tongue at the other two boys.
“Nuh uh! It missed! Get glasses!”
“Taro, don’t be mean!” the girl protests. Itadori nods resolutely beside her, squatting down as they tally up what looks to be points with sticks. “Yuji-kun, we totally won.”
“Right?” Itadori affirms, nodding at the sticks like an idiot. The two boys glower, crossing their arms over their chests. “We make a great team.”
“Nee-chan we want a round two!” one boy shouts, crossing his arms over his chest. His friend nods, hands on his hips. The girl sticks her nose in the air. “Yuji, you’re on our team this time!”
Figures. Megumi thinks, reaching for his phone but never taking it out. His eyes stay on the kids and Itadori as he stands in the shadows of the trees. At least he’s playing with people his age. Megumi feels a thin trail of exasperation line his expression, buffing out anything else as he watches Itadori laugh. Only this idiot would get distracted on his way home to play with a bunch of kids. Do you even know them?
Megumi’s Jade dog stirs beside him, ears pricking forward as it looks to one corner of the park. Megumi’s eyes drift over, spotting the fly head curse bubbling out of the shade of the trees. It’s a weak, low ranking curse that won’t cause any problems, maybe scare a few kids more perceptive than others.
The curse trickles out a bit more, creeping closer to the girl and Itadori. Thin trails of it begin to step into the light, out of the shadows. Several eyes greedily gaze up at the back of Itadori’s head.
Megumi snaps his fingers.
His shikigami disperses at his side. Megumi watches his dog reappear, mauling the curse with gaping jaws and dragging it off back into the darkness.
“Huh? Then it won’t be fair,” Itadori sits down onto the ground, leaning back on his hands and the girl frets beside him, saying he’ll get his clothes dirty. “Should we play something else?”
“I want our prizes first!” the girl says. The boys groan and Itadori grins, waiting beside her as they turn around and shuffle a bit behind a set of bushes.
They finally come forward with two crowns, woven sloppily together with short flowers and fallen branches too heavy with buds. The girl cheers, bowing so her younger brother can place it on her head while Itadori lets the other boy set it down on top of his. “Yuji-kun, we won! Don’t we look gorgeous?”
“I’m not sure stuff like this really fits me,” Itadori says, adjusting the flower crown. Megumi presses his hand to his mouth to stop himself just short of snorting. His shikigami’s tail wags harder. “Doesn’t really match my look, you know?”
“Nonsense!” the little girl says, proud hands on her hips. “We make perfect brides!”
“Maybe something more—wait, huh?”
It’s not that the little girl’s hair is black, streaming behind her as she laughs at her younger brother. Their friend pouts beside them, standing by Itadori’s shoulder as they all chatter. It’s got to be for some other reason entirely that the image blurs before Megumi’s eyes for a second, shifting and twisting until for just a quiet, fleeting second—
Megumi sees Tsumiki laughing. He sees himself, lips pulled down into a frown but expression warm, a younger Yuji laughing sheepishly beside them—
(He stops. Stops hard and stops quickly, because these thoughts have no place in their world or their future. Not in the lives they live or their reality.)
Not when an execution sentence still hangs over Itadori’s head, silent and waiting for the moment the last finger slides past his lips. Not when curses come crawling out from the shadows and jujutsu sorcerers come at them with the intention to kill and take and take and take—
“A scaring contest!” one boy says. “That’s the next one! We’ll scare you so good, you’ll get nightmares!”
“No way! Taro, that’s lame!”
“No, it’s not!”
“I’m pretty hard to scare,” Itadori says, rubbing his chin. The boys pout at him, disbelieving while the girl giggles. “I almost never have nightmares.”
Megumi doesn’t say it, but he’s sure that’s a lie.
“Woah!” Itadori whirled around, nearly jumping out of his skin. He looked at Megumi with wide eyes. “Fushiguro! You scared me, man. What’s up? Thirsty?”
Megumi had left his room after waking up to the almost silent sound of a door creaking shut. Megumi stepped outside, knocking twice against Itadori’s door as moonlight poured into the hall from behind him, tinting Megumi’s hair with light flashes against the sleek black of his unruly tufts.
He opened Itadori’s door, muttering a silent apology when he noticed the empty, messily strewn sheets in Itadori’s uncharacteristically well-kept room, hastily thrown to the side. Megumi considered the knocked over glass of water with furrowed brows, eyes skimming over the contents he found.
Itadori had little else in his room. Stacks of manga sat in the corner, piles of weird prizes from arcades, a poster starting to curl at one edge on his wall while the other half was tacked up with this and that; photos of Tokyo—Megumi sighed at the one of him and Itadori from the angel cafe, rubbing the back of his neck—some of the three of them, of random things and stubs from places Itadori had visited.
A room that otherwise seemed almost untouched, as though Itadori had never been there. Just hidden, tiny little pieces as evidence of his life here so far.
Because he spent half of it missing, having to pretend he was dead so people didn’t try to kill him a second time. Megumi felt his hand tighten on the doorknob, knuckles turning white with the strain, threatening to break the varnish. Because people will probably keep trying to kill him for what he is.
The familiar sensation of anger boiled in the pit of Megumi’s gut, bubbling up in the surface of his shadows. He could feel the eyes of his shikigami peering up at him through the void of black, waiting.
“Who do we — ”
Even when the only reason Itadori was here in the first place was because he wanted to save him , Megumi, someone he’d only just met.
Because Itadori may not realize it, but he lived like the kind of person who could disappear without a moment’s notice. Even if Itadori tried to live just the opposite, the kind of life where he hopes he won’t be alone… Itadori could always just disappear. Just… gone .
(Megumi hates it.)
Megumi remembered the feeling of looking down the hall, staring into the deep darkness where he knew down to his bones Itadori must’ve gone. He’d heard enough of his restless tossing and turning to figure that much. Megumi left Itadori’s room behind, stepping into the shadows without even flinching to find him.
Megumi frowned now, brows scrunching up slightly as he took in Itadori’s crouched form.
He’d somehow managed to tuck his body into the corner ledge by the window, miraculously fitting into the small cropping that almost hid him away from any other prying eyes. It almost made him look smaller. That’s rich. Itadori wasn’t a small guy by any means. Tucked away like that though, he could’ve had people fooled.
Itadori grinned at him, the corners of his eyes crinkling up.
“Megumi-kun, don’t worry. There’ll be plenty of people who’ll see how kind you are.”
That’s not true.
Moonlight poured in from the windows, past the wooden beams and casting itself onto the floorboards. It lit up the ends of Itadori’s hair, softening the color. Megumi felt a sense of calm amidst the shadows, one that helped him as he ignored Itadori’s question and glanced down to where Itadori had slapped one hand over the other, gripping onto it.
Megumi felt his shoulders tense. His eyes narrowed a bit, looking back at Itadori. “Is it Sukuna?”
“Huh? Oh.” Itadori blinked, looking down at his hand. “No, no. I mean, well, this guy causes his own problems and whatever, but nah, it wasn’t him.”
Itadori scratched his cheek looking sheepish, “I couldn’t sleep so I wanted to walk around a bit. He was actually just saying this and that… Crazy right? What kinda bad karma do you have to get to have a cursed spirit keep you company?”
Company is an interesting enough word for Itadori to pick. It already made Megumi wonder a bit of Sukuna was capable of actually such a feat.
Itadori laughed, leaning back into the little crook he’d stuffed himself in. Megumi stood just short of where the moonlight cut harshly across the shadows, hands at his sides as he watched Itadori, following the bead of sweat trail down to his exposed collarbones. Thin lines peeked under Itadori’s eyes, tired lines. Megumi’s eyes drifted over the lean column of Itadori’s neck as he rested his head against the creaking window, letting the moonlight bathe him.
Itadori looked like he could disappear and no one would even know, taken somewhere far, far away.
It’s already happened once.
Megumi felt his fingers twitch before he curled then neatly in on themselves, pressing into his palm.
“What’s bothering you?”
Itadori ruffled the back of his head, peeking up at Megumi, almost disgruntled. Megumi wanted to scoff. “Does anything get past you, Fushi?”
Yes. Megumi didn’t say. Just not when it comes to you.
Megumi stepped out of the shadows, coming to stand a few feet from Itadori. Megumi stayed silent, sliding his hands into his sweatpants as he gazed out the hallway windows. Itadori stayed quiet too, staring at Megumi for a bit before he leaned his head on his knee, following his gaze out the window.
“It’s really nothing crazy,” Itadori said. Megumi listened to every word. “Just got a bit restless. It gets hot here, huh?”
“It’ll get cooler,” Megumi said. “Up here the heat doesn’t follow as much. It gets cool.”
“Oh, yeah?” Itadori looked at him, curious. “Any cool places to check out?”
Not really almost left Megumi’s lips. He considered Itadori’s question, thinking about it a lot harder than he normally would’ve.
“At the edge of the woods,” Megumi said. Itadori perked up. “There’s a bamboo forest. It opens up to a spring. It’s nice there.”
“What the heck man?” Itadori laughed, shoulders shaking. “Fushiguro, that’s too like you.”
Wisteria trees blocked the outer alcove once you broke past the bamboo. Somehow huddled up by the spring, wild hydrangeas grew in massive bursts of color. Megumi had found it once on an early morning run, standing there in silence and taking it in. The kind of place Tsumiki would’ve gone nuts for, calling it a secret, pretty little place, even though anyone else at the school could’ve easily found it if they tried hard enough.
“But we found it, not anyone else!”
Megumi pressed his lips together. He should’ve said some random place in the city.
“Okay, let’s check it out next time,” Itadori said lightly, leaning back. “Can you get there on foot?”
“...there’s nothing much to see,” Fushiguro said, standing beside him. He could feel Itadori’s warmth, soft and constant like an overly warm-bodied child, just right there. “Just a small spot.”
“Well, you like it, right?” Itadori rubbed his chin in thought. “I trust ya. Let’s check it out next time. Only if you’re down though.”
Megumi shrugged. Itadori’s lips curved up into a grin, leaning back with a bit of a loud exhale. “Man, what was I even thinking about in the first place? I used to be able to sleep like a log before.”
Itadori brought his head against his knee. He sighed through his nose, shoulders relaxing a bit. Megumi’s eyes traced the short tufts of Itadori’s hair, down to the curve of his cheek smushed against his knee.
“...just stuff I can’t change,” Itadori said finally, voice low. “Nothing interesting at all.”
That’s fine. Megumi thought about saying, even though he didn’t. Just think about whatever you want. It doesn’t matter. Every part of it. You’re not a hero. You’re not a saint. Think about all the things that bother you, that make you mad, that terrify you, even, cause you get scared too, Itadori.
If you’re mad, get mad. (I’ll get mad with you.)
If you’re sad, get sad. (It makes me sad too.)
If you want —
(Think about it all and get rid of it. They don’t deserve a place in your —)
Megumi said none of those things though. He just stood there in silence beside Itadori’s crouched form, maybe hoping in some way that an ounce of that, just a sliver, would make itself clear without him having to say anything.
(I’ll take it all, if you want.)
Down and down and down into the deep void of Megumi’s shadows, where they’d never see the light again. They’d sink into oblivion, all of it, anything Itadori might want to cast away. Megumi’s always been good at that—getting rid of the things people don’t want, the things Megumi himself doesn’t like or wants to see. He wasn’t kind enough like Tsumiki to try and see the good in those little things.
The shadows at Megumi’s feet stirred, bubbling up like a shifting surface.
(I can hold onto the important things too.)
Hide them away, hidden and safe like the weapons Maki was always asking him to hold on to. Megumi could hide Itadori and all of it—
“Hey, Fushiguro,” Megumi glanced over, stopping at Itadori’s cheeky, sheepish grin. “You’re such a nice guy.”
Megumi felt his chest tighten. His throat constricted around itself. His expression remained cool as Itadori laughed a bit, leaning back and looking up at Megumi, fingers hooked around his legs. “Somehow, I kinda feel better. Thanks.”
Megumi’s lips pressed tightly together. His nails bit into his palm, drawing blood.
(I’m really, really not.)
“Yuji-kun, there’s a weird guy standing over there!”
Megumi looks up at the girl’s words, narrowed eyes quickly sweeping across the park. He frowns when not another soul comes in sight and then pauses, turning forward the same instant Itadori’s owlish eyes meet his, round and curious.
The two boys stand protectively in front of Itadori and the girl, frowning at Megumi suspiciously. “He’s just been lookin’ at you like a creep! Yuji, you know this guy?”
Megumi feels a vein throb on the side of his head. Itadori still looks a bit surprised, blinking round eyes at Megumi’s unannounced presence. Megumi suddenly wonders why he didn’t just call out to Itadori in the first place and—
Itadori’s eyes brighten, quick and warm and all at once. His entire face lights up, lips turning upwards into a bit of a grin and he eagerly starts to wave, disrupting the crown of flowers over his head. “Hey, Fushiguro!”
His shikigami’s tail hits the floor, hard, wagging over and over again. It lets out a little whine, impatient at the sight of Itadori’s smiling face. Megumi quickly dispels it before it can do anything else, letting it sink back into his shadows as he finally steps out from the shadows of the budding trees, hands in his pockets as he faces Itadori.
“Don’t worry guys, I know this weirdo,” Itadori says, turning to the kids. Megumi scowls and the boys don’t look convinced, but the little girl peers up curiously at Megumi, holding Itadori’s shoulder with tiny fingers. “He’s my friend—you guys should get going now, yeah? It’s getting late.”
“But the sun’s still out,” one boy protests. Itadori squints at the blazing sunset, low and dark on the horizon.
“Nah, you better get home,” Itadori waves his fingers, “pretty creepy stuff happens at this hour, you know? I’ll see you guys around.”
The boys groan but relent, grabbing their discarded things. The little girl waits a moment, shyly looking at Megumi. He hesitates before lightly raising one hand out of his pocket at her in a short, clipped wave. She blinks and then quickly turns to Itadori, whispering something in his ear.
Itadori blinks, cocking his head to the side. He points at Megumi and the little girl nods. Megumi raises a thin, careful brow.
“Huh? Hey, Mimi, you’ve got a pretty crazy imagination,” Itadori ruffles her head, looking confused before he shrugs it off. Mimi giggles, taking Itadori’s flower crown and waving to him and then shyly to Megumi before she runs off with her brother and friend. “Get home safely you guys!”
“Bye, Yuji! Bye, weird guy!"
Megumi scowls a bit, watching the kids skirt the corner of the park, a chorus of laughter filling the air before they disappear entirely. He stares after the spot where’d they left before his eyes automatically bring themselves back to the one person he’d been looking for this whole time.
Itadori stares after the kids too, a warm smile on his face as he leans back onto his hands. The evening light turns harder, darker, and it stretches out both of their shadows until the tips just barely intermingle, Megumi’s overlapping Itadori’s.
“I was totally surprised to see you there,” Itadori says casually, looking over to Megumi. “What are you doing? Just grabbing some stuff?”
Megumi’s half tempted to shake him for a second, reminding Itadori to think of every and other more plausible reason for Megumi to be here at this park, looking for him, but of course Itadori doesn’t think any of that. He doesn’t think anyone would go looking for him.
“Kugi—” Megumi pasues for only a second before calmly continuing, “...I was looking for you.”
“Me?” Itadori says, surprised. “Oh, wait! Because of the movie? Sorry, I didn’t wake you up! You looked beat , man, so I thought you’d want to sleep.”
Itadori laughs, rubbing the back of his neck. “My bad, my bad. I stopped it halfway when I noticed. Went to go grab some snacks… wait, am I forgetting about something?”
Kugisaki. Megumi shrugs, “You know those kids?”
“Nah, just ran into them when I was at the store,” Itadori rests his arms on his knees. “They were arguing about ice cream flavors so I gave them one of mine and we split. Just had some time to kill so…”
No one just does that. Megumi’s half tempted to mutter. No normal person.
“Didn’t mean to make you come all the way to look for me though,” Itadori says, looking a bit apologetic. He stands, wiping dust off his pants and almost hopping over to the bench with his things. “Lemme grab my stuff and we can—”
“Why do you like it?”
Itadori pauses, looking over at Megumi curiously. His brows are furrowed, head titling to the side like a puppy, confused.
“The movie,” Megumi says. His voice is even, cool, but he doesn’t feel any of that. He feels— “What do you like about it?”
“Oh, that,” Itadori scratches the side of his cheek, grinning a bit sheepishly. “It’s a… well, it’s a classic, you know? It’s won a lot of awards and stuff, even though it was a flop at first!”
“Why do you like it though?” Megumi prods, waiting with his hands clenched tight into fists in his pockets. Itadori hums in overexaggerated thought, rubbing his chin as he leans to the side, thinking.
“...well, it’s sorta just a nice story, you know?” Itadori says thoughtfully. “It kinda reminded me of this article I read once when I was younger—this huge thing people were talking about for a bit ‘cause it happened not too far from where I lived. Probably didn’t make big news for the country or anything.”
Itadori mimics writing in the air, shuffling his bag to one arm. “It was about this guy who wrote a bunch of letters to people he hardly knew, all these strangers he just kind of met and he did all these great things for him before he died… It’s a Wonderful Life reminded me of it a bit, so maybe that’s why? Nice people doing nice things, even if it’s not too action packed.”
The wind rustles the trees above them, shaking heavy branches of full buds, waiting to bloom. The air is warm, but it’s not swelteringly so. Megumi can’t really breathe despite all that, throat constricting tightly, chest heavy. He doesn’t trust his hands to do what they should be doing. Nothing.
“And it’s really nice, you know?” Itadori says. “When he died, all these people came to his funeral. It’s like how all the people in the movie come back and help him out, even when crap kept coming his way. Lots of people… I bet he wasn’t lonely at all.”
“But Megumi-kun, when he died, all these people came to his funeral. He wasn’t lonely at all!”
“It wasn’t useless, right?”
( “I get lonely easily,” Itadori said. “So it’d be nice, maybe.” )
The world around Megumi quiets. All he hears is Itadori speak.
(His heart lunges for his mouth. His shadows reach, reach, and reach, wishing it could swallow Itadori’s whole.)
“When I was younger I wasn’t really sure why I liked that story so much,” Itadori says, mulling it over. “I think I just thought it was nice. Now though, when I think about what my gramps said—I get it better.”
“I love this story, Megumi-kun.”
Itadori’s hands hang at his sides. He looks up, a warm, absent kind of smile on his face. The wind affectionately ruffles the short tufts of his hair and then his smile widens. “Just doesn’t seem like a bad way to go.”
The wind tugs roughly at Megumi’s hair. He wonders if it tries to tug him away, warns someone like him not to get too close to that—to this. Itadori. Tries to tell him not this one, you can’t take this one back with you.
But Itadori doesn’t go anywhere. He stands beside Megumi, expression warm and easy, even though there’s enough wrong with the world and his situation that Itadori could be locked away in his room, pitiful and somber and Megumi wouldn’t blame him. But you aren’t. You’re here.
You’re afraid of being lonely?
(Megumi imagines his hand reaching outwards, to Itadori’s back that’s smaller than people think, even when it appears to be so broad—)
“Sorry,” Itadori laughs, rubbing the back of his head. “I know it’s kinda boring, right? I used to be way more into action movies too, but Gojo-sensei had me watching so many I can get into almost anything now. Next time I’ll pick—”
“Let’s go watch it.”
Itadori pauses, mouth open like an idiot as he blinks, owlish and turns to Megumi with a confused frown. “Huh?”
“The movie,” Megumi says, low and clear. He keeps his gaze on Itadori’s, holding onto them firmly. “Let’s go watch it.”
“...are you sure?” Itadori says, perking up in surprise. He starts to wave his hands at Megumi, starting to ramble a bit, “It’s alright, dude! I know you were falling asleep and it’s not the most exciting—”
“I was just tired,” Megumi says, hoping he doesn’t sound as stubborn as he feels. Itadori’s hands settle in front of him, looking at Megumi like a lost child. “It seems worth finishing, so let’s go check it out.”
And Itadori doesn’t question, doesn’t hesitate—
Without missing a beat, his face lights up. Itadori grins, stuffing his hands into his pockets as he beams at Megumi. He doesn’t refute the offer or turns him away, happy and eager—
“Okay!” Itadori says. “Sounds good! Let’s head back and—”
“We’re going here,” Megumi says simply, pulling out his phone. Itadori frowns curiously, peeking around Megumi’s shoulder to look at the screen. His eyes go round in surprise. “I already got the tickets.”
It’s just to make up for falling asleep.
“What the hell?” Itadori exclaims, eyes wide in awe. “Woah, that’s awesome! I didn’t even know they were showing it around here—hey, it looks like this place shows a lot of old movies! Fushiguro, how’d you know about it? Were you holding out on me?”
“Just saw it,” Megumi says, sending two texts before he turns his phone to silent. “We’ll be a little early. Is that fine?”
“Yeah, oh, wait,” Itadori frowns at his bag. “Gojo-sensei asked me to pick up some of these for him—”
“He can wait.”
“Are you sure—”
“He can wait.”
Itadori grins, taking Megumi’s word for it. The corner of Megumi’s lip twitches upward and Itadori falls into step beside him, the two of them making for the station. “This is pretty cool—it’s a really old movie, so I never thought I’d see it on screen! Thanks, Fushiguro. Are you sure you wanna—”
“I’m sure,” Megumi says. “...and you don’t have to go to movies alone.”
“Well, but you know, Fushiguro,” Itadori scratches his cheek, grinning obliviously at him. “I don’t really mind going to the movies by myself! Aren’t you more of a book guy anyway?”
The look Megumi gives Itadori seems to be enough, urging a pale Itadori to quickly take back his words and apologize. Megumi simply rolls his eyes once, but he keeps in step, even and light as Itadori happily walks beside him.
Their shadows overlap behind them. Megumi gets a faint glance at where his slides over Itadori’s and the two become one, engulfed completely.
Megumi turns his eyes forward, keeping pace with Itadori so the shadows never break.
Kugisaki (19:43) Did you find him yet?
Kugisaki (19:44) Great! Hurry and get back here, I’ve been waiting for forever!
We won’t be back until later. I already let the school know.
Kugisaki (19:44) Hah? How come?
Movies. We’re going to watch.
Kugisaki (19:45) WHAT? HEY, FUSHIGURO, WHAT DO YOU MEAN MOVIES???
Movies. We’ll see you later.
Kugisaki (19:46) EXCUSE ME??? I DON’T THINK SO.
Kugisaki (19:47) I HAD PLANS WITH HIM FIRST. Not that his time is that precious, it’s my time!!!!
Kugisaki (19:49) FUSHIGURO PICK UP YOUR PHONE!!!
Kugisaki (19:49) unbelievable. ur dead. I’m getting you back for this.
Kugisaki (19:50) you better be ready.
Kugisaki (19:55) ...if you fall asleep this time I’ll kick your ass.