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i wish i could hold you 'til forever comes

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Yuuji’s chin lays tucked to his chest. His eyes are closed, but he isn’t sleeping— he hasn’t been able to sleep for the last week, or so it seems. He knows that’s ridiculous at best, because he’d be next-to dead on the floor from exhaustion if he didn’t unknowingly black out at some point or another.

Foregoing his attempt either in frustration or impatience, he lifts his head and tries to ignore the pang of discomfort in his neck. The room he’s in is dark. His muscles are aching from walking all day and slaughtering every curse that came across his path. Most of all, he just wishes that someone would do him a favour and give him a kick to the back of the head and force him unconscious, but that might bring the possibility of Sukuna taking control.

He’s almost too tired to keep him at bay.

“Why are you awake, Yuuji?”

Right. Choso. His voice is more gravelly than usual. Was he sleeping? Then again, Yuuji hasn’t quite figured out if the guy is a human or not. He blinks, taking a few seconds to allow his eyes to adjust to the darkness before letting them settle on the man sitting adjacent to him, cross-legged with his back resting against the wall.

The room they’re in is on the second floor of a condemned warehouse, complete with an uncomfortable amount of dust and cobwebs. Choso had sighted it out the night before, insisting that staying in the same place for too long would attract unwanted attention. Thankfully, the building was empty and didn’t require any further exorcising.

“Can’t sleep,” Yuuji grunts at last, bringing his arms to fold over his chest. His joints pop with the movement. It isn’t a total lie, though in truth, the real reason is because every time he closes his eyes he’s plagued with images of Nanami, and Nobara, and Megumi— he cuts off his train of thought at the feeling of a lump rising in his throat and swallows thickly.

“Are you cold, little brother?”

There he goes again.

In the last few weeks that he’s been on the run, he’s come to the conclusion that Choso’s delusions of familial connection are no different than Todo’s sudden fondness that appeared mid-battle during the exchange event. He isn’t sure if it was his doing or not. He can’t complain, really, because if not for Todo he’d be dead, and if not for Choso he’d be alone.

No, not completely alone, just alone with him, and Yuuji isn’t sure how much of that he’d be able to handle.

He opens his mouth in protest, suddenly aware that he had zoned out and forgot to answer, and now Choso is in the process of taking two long strides to cross the room amid Yuuji’s flustered denials. He slides down the wall, extending an arm from the wide sleeve of his garment and wraps it around the boy’s wiry frame, pulling him close to his body. Yuuji tenses, hesitant, before allowing himself to capitulate to the comforting feeling of warmth for the first time since...

He doesn’t notice that he’s crying until a strangled sob wracks his body and he gasps for air, the sensation of choking now grasping his lungs as he’s unable to make the tears cease. Choso’s hand comes up to rest on the side of his head, tilting it so that he’s is fully leaning against the man’s chest.

His fingers rake through Yuuji’s hair as he whispers a quiet succession of I’m here’ and ‘I’ve got you’, only ceasing when sobs turn more into quiet gasps than painful shudders.

“I killed them,” Yuuji chokes out. “I killed them, I-”

“No,” Choso interrupts firmly. Yuuji looks up through his blurred vision at the face of the half-curse staring down at him with nothing but... pain and fondness. “Don’t think like that,” he orders, as if the idea of Yuuji blaming himself is too much for him to bear, too much to stand. “Sleep,” he adds, softer. “I’ll watch over you.”