Junpei wakes with fingers in his hair. It’s warm and comfortable, the morning light a gentle brightness as he’s pulled out of slumber into wakefulness, the heavy weight of a blanket wrapped around his shoulders, a soothing heat beneath his cheek. He’s fuzzy but well-rested, stretching out his legs only to have them hit—right, the end of the couch.
“You two,” his ma sighs from somewhere in the kitchen. “Stayed up way too late watching movies again. The TV was still on when I got home! You were shivering!”
“Ma, s’too early,” Junpei grumbles, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and shifting position so he’s on his back instead of on his side, finding that the lumpy pillow he’s got is apparently Itadori’s lap.
Itadori’s still dozing above him, a blanket draped around his shoulders. He can’t be comfortable, his head drooping over, a little spit-bubble expanding and contracting out the corner of his mouth as he breathes, but his sleep looks peaceful.
There’s a faint line creasing his forehead, a mumbled grumble Junpei doesn’t hear, but his fingers twitch in Junpei’s hair and then it all smoothens back again, fingers pushing into his scalp—fingertips splayed out, tangling gently with his hair—with pressure light enough that it makes Junpei want to sink deeper into sleep.
“Junpei,” his ma calls out. “Since you’re up, you should come help your ma with breakfast.”
“Alright, alright,” he says. Itadori’s fingers tense, then release, and Junpei carefully untangles himself from the pile they’ve made in that corner of the couch. He picks up the empty cans of soda and the nearly empty bowl of popcorn from the coffee table and takes those with him to the kitchen. “What’re you making?”
“Bacon and eggs!” his mother declares proudly. “Do you think Itadori-kun will like it?”
Junpei shrugs. “He likes anything you make.”
“He looks exhausted,” she hums, her gaze lingering on Itadori. “That’s why I didn’t want to wake you guys up when I came in.”
“And I didn’t?” Junpei asks, scowling.
“Well, you just looked cute,” she says with a laugh, pinching his cheek despite his sputtered protests. “Shh, he’s still sleeping!”
“Not once he smells the bacon.”
Scent’s got a way of doing that, he thinks. Probably. It lingers. Like the now-phantom touch of Itadori’s hand in his hair, fingerpads against his scalp. He closes his eyes for a moment, and almost remembers what they feel like again.
Junpei wakes with fingers in his hair. This time it’s still dark, the glow of the TV screen bright in the middle of the night. There’s a blanket pulled up to his chin, a strong hand running through the locks of his hair, rubbing against his scalp in soothing strokes. It isn’t constant—sometimes the movement falters, circling a spot against his head, sometimes his hair would get pulled back, stray locks tucked behind his ear, and sometimes the touch would disappear, save for the lightest of tugs, where fingers must have tangled against the ends of his hair.
“Oh,” Itadori breathes above him. His hand stills. Pulls away altogether. (Junpei misses it immediately.) “You awake? Want me to rewind?”
“Mm.” Junpei yawns, putting hand to mouth to cover it. He squints at the screen, trying to parse what scene is playing. It’s not too long from the last bit he remembers seeing, so he probably drifted off not too long ago. “S’okay, I’ve seen this before.”
“I can head out if you wanna go sleep now—”
“No,” he says, though the word’s cut off by another yawn. He moves, but only to get more comfortable. “Let’s keep watching. Is that okay?”
Itadori’s quiet for a moment. “Of course,” he says finally, and Junpei can feel the way his whole body exhales, slow and steady. “Sure.”
Junpei tries to follow the movie better, the post-nap haze in his mind clearing to fill in the gaps of the parts he’d missed. But something feels different, and he spends the next few minutes occupied with this mystery until— “Itadori.”
“Ah, uh. Sorry!” Itadori says, laughing a little. He runs his hand through his own hair, scratching the nape of his neck. “When I was training with Gojo-sensei, it was—there was a—I basically got used to petting something while watching movies, so I wasn’t really thinking when that happened here. Sorry. I wasn’t doing anything with cursed energy, though! I promise! It was just a—uh—”
That explanation sounds nothing at all like what Junpei imagines training in a shaman school would be like, but what would he know about shaman schools? And anyway: “I didn’t mind it,” he says. “It felt nice.”
“Oh.” Itadori blinks. His hand—which had been resting on the back of his neck—hovers above Junpei now. “Do you want me to—Can I—”
Junpei hums, his eyes closing for a brief moment as Itadori’s hands return to his hair, tentative at first until Itadori settles in, fingers gentle and soothing in their idle back and forth through his hair, and then it’s— “Feels really nice,” he murmurs.
He drifts off back to sleep—he sleeps so much better these days—the movie forgotten.
That’s okay. He’s seen it before, anway.
Junpei wakes with fingers in his hair.
It’s nice and it’s comfortable. There’s a blanket pulled up to his chin, sunlight filtering through the window blinds, the firm mattress of his bed beneath him. The heat of a warm body nearby.
And fingers in his hair.
Junpei wakes, and it’s the first time he does so after Itadori, who’s usually a much deeper sleeper, and even less of a morning person. Junpei blinks his eyes open and meets the brown of Itadori’s gaze, a gentle shade that reminds Junpei of how his ma likes her coffee.
“Mornin’,” Junpei mumbles, resisting the urge to rub at his eyes. Itadori’s fingers are in his hair, the touch soft and barely there, a whisper of warmth against him. He’s brushing back the bangs that keep falling into his eyes, running fingers through the fine strands of hair until his palm’s cupping the side of Junpei’s head, moving down to the nape of his neck and lingering there until he moves to do the same thing all over again. Rinse, repeat. Like a ritual. He’s looking at Junpei, eyes wide and open, like he’s studying him, like he’s committing the curve of his cheek and the droop of his eyes to memory.
“Hi,” Itadori says, a hushed whisper in the morning. “Did you sleep well?”
Ma had been complaining—in that exasperated, mother-y way she did—about the two of them always staying up too late, just watching movies. Junpei had been saying something about the crick in his neck whenever he’d inevitably fall asleep against Itadori’s shoulder, or on his lap. Last night they’d woken up after dozing off just long enough to turn the movie off.
Itadori had said he’d head back home.
Junpei had told him he could stay.
It was late. Itadori could take care of himself—could take care of more than himself, even—but Junpei said, did he have to?
So they’d shuffled into bed, too drowsy to say anything about how narrow it was for two—even if it was for two kids as skinny as they both were—too sleepy to bother keeping any space between them. Junpei’s arms around Itadori’s waist, his face buried in his chest, Itadori’s fingers in his hair, carding through the locks like an unspoken lullaby.
He’s still got his arms around Itadori. Itadori’s still got his fingers in his hair.
Junpei smiles, sleep-soft. “Never slept better.”