Sukuna stood in shallow waters, undeniably a refreshing break. The cool stream washing away the pains of long days spent walking with his trousers rolled up above his knees. It was almost too perfect, the fish in the waters even visible in such pristine water, to not take a rest stop would have been too much a waste.
The scenery was beautiful, clear creeks, tame tributaries and a small waterfall nestled between a shallow rockpool.
The staff Sukuna carried had a single cord wrapped and tied around the body at the three quarter mark, Megumi had assumed Sukuna was versed in staff forms and martial arts. The surface was hot as Megumi rested on a large rock and soaked his swollen feet in the cool waters. He watched Sukuna take either side of the wooden body, divided by the brown leather cord and pull, drawing a long thin blade from the unassuming shell which sheathed the hidden weapon all along. In a sudden movement that made the omega flinch, Sukuna changed his grip and speared a fish gliding by with hardly a ripple through the water surface. Megumi raised his eyebrows, actually impressed.
The day was too hot for travelling, they took the day to rest and let their stolen ox take a break too. Megumi wanted to bathe under the waterfall and wash his inner robes. Under the hot sun and beside a fire his clothes would dry quickly. At home they had their own water supply, Megumi was used to regularly bathing, on the road he had nothing. Feeling awfully grimy and sweaty in the early summer heat made him more snappish than usual. He even missed the times he was manhandled and dunked into a tub by the servants to be scrubbed with grains and bathed in rice water before meeting with the Gojo heir. All the residues of outdoor sex did not help to make Megumi feel appealing either.
Megumi bundled a strip of cloth and the kimono he often used as a blanket in his arms as a temporary bathrobe. He climbed off the rock he was resting on to patter away while Sukuna was busy. ‘Keep the collar on.’ Sukuna said simply without turning.
‘……..’ Megumi looked behind his shoulder and studied Sukuna as though the alpha was dim-witted. As if one measly strip of braided cords would reserve any of his modesty or protect his oh so chaste and pure body. What flattering validation to be thought of so highly by Ryoumen Sukuna, the alpha who had been sparing no efforts to defile him in every way. Megumi rolled his eyes and left for the waterfall.
Megumi soaked his inner robe into the water and laid a rock over them to stop them from drifting before he tiptoed into the pool. A little shell toe was followed by a pale calf, and Megumi dipped in carefully with the cloth tied around his wrist. The water was cool but welcome in the glistening heat. Megumi waded into the hip deep water, he crouched on his knees to float and take the pressure from his waist and back. It was a relief to face the downpour and let the clear water run through his hair and wash away the journey on his face, to finally feel clean and a little more human again. The omega used the small cloth to scrub himself pink, and said a prayer to Suijin , a small waterfall provided Megumi with insurmountable relief.
He considered pressing Sukuna to bathe while the weather was hot and the water was cool until he heard a rustle and rolled his eyes, figuring Sukuna had come unprompted for waterfall sex. Megumi turned from the spray and searched for the alpha, upon failing to find him he turned his head this way and that. Sukuna should have only come from one side lest he felt like crossing the river needlessly, but Megumi was sure he heard noise from the other.
Megumi had left the collar on, mostly contributed to forgetting to take it off rather than for Sukuna’s warning. He touched his choker and squeezed the washcloth in his hand. The pregnancy did send his instincts into overdrive, Megumi began to wade back to his dry clothes.
‘Oya? What do we have here?’
Sukuna fanned himself and the fire he was roasting fish on with a piece of driftwood bark he found bone dried on the bank. The food was ready, and Megumi had yet to return. It wasn't as if they often had stimulating conversation during mealtimes past 'salty or not salty enough' but the alpha took a bite out of a skewered fish and sat chewing by himself feeling oddly dim. Why did omegas take so long to wash?
Sukuna brushed himself off as he stood. He was explicitly not worried about the omega brat, if he didn’t come back already the food was going to go to waste and the little bitch would whine about it. He was going to torment the little thing a bit and maybe take a bath himself- with Megumi. Doing very clean things. Sukuna put his hands in his sleeves and ambled towards the waterfall.
Nothing. Sukuna lifted a large rock. Still nothing.
Megumi’s usual attire was strewn on a rock, his white smallclothes soaked in the water yet to be washed. He picked up Megumi’s navy kimono and sniffed, it smelled only of milk and succulent mint. A paper shikigami fluttered from the pile and stuck to Sukuna’s arm. The alpha tossed his sleeve to shake it off, the doll continued to cling to him. When he tried to brush it off, it stuck to his hands and slid down his elbow. Sukuna sighed out through his nose and continued to search into the trees. More paper shikigami stuck to him from who knows where, Sukuna continued to follow the peculiar trail until paper butterflies swarmed him.
He heard before he saw, Sukuna quietened his steps and approached carefully to peek through the trees. They had tied the ox to a tree in a grass clearing to graze out of the sun and to hide the cart, a crowd circled the car and a distinct white pile.
Then his hackles raised and his jaw clenched hard enough to click. With an urgency that made him feel ill Sukuna needed Megumi by his side now .
‘Call for your mate, ojou-chan-’
‘No get him onto the cart, let’s get it out of here.’
‘What would we do with him? He’s already bonded.’
‘He’s not getting up either way, we’ll lure out his alpha and rob them both.’
‘Ojou, we’re getting awfully impatient, you don’t want us to get angry do you?’
Megumi was that heap on the ground, eyes lowered, shoulders and thighs exposed and bare, he grasped the oversized kimono to stay closed with a white knuckle grip, the other hand wrought iron around a tree root to anchor himself in place. He had hidden his front, they found him from the view of his back and Megumi clothed himself quickly without the aggressors seeing his baby bump. His hair was wet and slicked back, for once tamed, stray wet locks framed his face delicately. He wore only his collar and the ill fitting kimono. This wasn’t the time to get hard but Sukuna almost stumbled, his alpha swelled at the omega heeding his order- Megumi kept the collar on. He presented as claimed and no one touched a claimed omega.
Mine, mine, mine . He was near salivating at such a lewd sight, just as much as he felt enraged, Megumi simply looked so… breedable… His long dewy eyelashes and subtle pout just commanded one to shove a cock into him.
Megumi twisted his face away as a worthless pest crouched in front of him, blocking Sukuna’s view.
‘Ojou-’ An insolent paw gripped Megumi’s milky arm.
It wasn’t as though Megumi were afraid to get Sukuna involved that he didn’t call for help, he was primarily too embarrassed to call for ‘his alpha’ in front of so many strangers ogling his wet, exposed body. If he were not pregnant he would have put up a fight and run, Megumi had always been a fast sprinter, but vulnerable as he was with a pup inside him Megumi’s instincts commanded him to protect himself and minimise harm by acting weak. ‘ Sukuna!’ Megumi screamed and curled away from the vile touch. ‘Sukuna, alpha-!’
Ask and you shall receive as they say. Before Megumi finished the man on him was caught in the jugular and thrown bodily into the rest of the group with the effect of pelting a boulder full force at a paper wall. ‘EHH?!!’ Sukuna was a pretty girl’s name afterall. Perhaps he and Megumi matched in that sense.
Sukuna leered down at Megumi’s vulnerable form, the omega peered up at him, eyes big and glassy, bottom lip jutted out as if it would quiver- Later . The omega was unharmed and Sukuna was a little preoccupied with bloodlust to play with him. Megumi recovered in the span of a blink and threw the kimono up on his shoulders and righted himself like the sly thing he was. Men were dumb, alphas were dumber.
Megumi had no intention to continue to let his bare cunt to kiss the ground but before his legs could even straighten his knees buckled and he gave out like a marionette’s strings having been snapped.
Fear and the scent of death. It rushed into the body and flooded the brain like liquid terror. Megumi’s eyes shut but didn’t bother to smother his nose with fabric, his body was already intimately familiar with Sukuna’s alpha. Like venom he had built resistance being fed bit by bit of lingering potent pheromones, though still his sweat poured and head lowered in self-preserving submission at fresh threats.
‘Hora hora , even a bunch of illiterate country rats can see when an omega has already been bitched can’t you?’
Megumi whimpered, he had never heard Sukuna snarl anything more than playful or a warning.
Even grown men froze in the presence of a king, Sukuna biologically asserted his superiority so easily. Even Megumi forgot how dangerous he was when he played along with the omega’s whims. Sukuna’s fingers twitched, itching to rend limb from limb, muscle from bone. He was grinning, in no such manner of sound mind, and delighted his (his?) omega called for him.
There were seven brigands, one alpha amongst the betas and all cowering in shock. One man clutching his crushed throat was unable to breath. The leader of the pack was decently sized for an alpha, slightly more well-dressed than his companions, he recovered first even if by pride alone. ‘Who do you think you are acting that tough, we’re robbing you!’ The alpha amongst them pointed his dagger at Sukuna.
They drew small knives from their yukatas and spread to surround Sukuna, in an age where weapons were contraband thieves made do with kitchen knives. ‘Hora…’ The whelps came at him, much too slow, so easily side stepped even in a mess of limbs and waved flashes of blades. ‘I thought I was being robbed here, ganbare ganbare .’ Sukuna broke their bones, pulled limbs from sockets and loosened back molars with a simple backhand until the thieves lay in a heap. The ox fought its reins in the background, backing up its legs trying to pull away.
He was unarmed, but that was easily remedied. The remaining alpha stood petrified in the same position for Sukuna to grab the wrist holding him at knifepoint. The bandit snapped out of it with a screech as his weapon was rended from him, his fingers and wrist broken in the process.
Megumi wrapped himself around Sukuna’s sword arm. Even if he despised anyone who preyed on the weak, he didn’t believe petty thieves deserved death. ‘They’re just some farmers’ sons, you've scared them straight, it’s enough.’ It was over too quickly, Megumi could barely stumble barefoot into Sukuna before the group lay at his feet like beaten dogs. Megumi had to be careful in his words, careful to not order the prime alpha. His cunt still throbbed up to his kidneys when he remembered well of the times he had stepped (stomped) on Sukuna’s toes- He didn’t think those before Sukuna now qualified for such same punishment. He tried to lower Sukuna’s arm holding a blade before a young man lost his life over a stupid mistake. ‘Sukuna, let’s go back, there’s still so much of the day left…’
‘Please, we’re sorry, our village’s crops have been failing, they said we were cursed to have a failed harvest and no one knows what to do- We were just trying to get by!’ The young alpha pleaded on his knees to someone who could really care less.
Sukuna’s eyes flitted towards Megumi and the weak fingers and skinny wrists just about tickling him trying to lax his arm. Megumi’s paper dolls still clung to him, the little exorcist himself just the same, fluttering and fastened around him. ‘Alpha…’ Megumi tried his hardest even if it made him want to die, his ears pink as he peered up through his wet lashes looking particularly demure. ‘There’s still time to go back and take a bath together before the sun falls from its peak. I’ll…’ He couldn’t do this in public, so many puppy-dog eyes watered his way to be saved. ‘I’ll… Wash your back for you…’
‘Hmph.’ Sukuna snorted and threw the knife somewhere behind himself, perhaps it landed in flesh. He did hold pride in being able to control his alpha, if Megumi were to be unhappy with him and refuse to put out the rest of his journey would be unhappy. He cared little, rather maggots lived or died, though perhaps his alpha also knew the omega did not wish to see blood spilled.
‘Scram.’ The scuttle of retreating dogs, whining with their tails between their legs left with swears and apologies until they were left alone with their ox. Megumi peeled off each talisman doll stuck to Sukuna quietly, hands shaking slightly from the fear still in his system though he knew it was over now. His hair still dripped and he looked particularly dainty in oversized clothing, perhaps a look to revisit, Sukuna thought.
‘Let’s go, blessing. I’m going to fuck you under the waterfall and you can wash my back afterwards.’ Sukuna lifted Megumi to sit on his arm. His geta still lay haphazardly in a heap at the waterfall. Megumi rolled his eyes and let himself be carried, the adrenaline washed away and the stress left him drained. His scent was nearly scrubbed away and the water dampened his pheromones. Sukuna could scent strangers on the omega. The arms around Megumi tightened and Sukuna buried his face between plush thighs and inhaled deeply. Megumi tried to push his head away, ‘Don’t-!’
Megumi kicked his legs idly, feet dancing in air as he rode on the back of the stolen cart the next day. With delicate fingers he picked the white feathered flesh off a skewered fish and nibbled carefully the crispy skin. Overall, Megumi felt refreshed from their brief stop, clean, well-fed and well-rested, all unpleasant events compartmentalised into a growing pile for him to sort out later when he could afford the time. Even Sukuna smelled more personable after a wash, less of internal iron and musky smoke, more of southern seasalt and temple incense.
Though the renewed awkward silence was strange. Sukuna had fucked him at the waterfall until he was bruised, then Sukuna did carry him back to camp, and then fed him some fish he had grilled prior -And from then on continued to pensively sit in silence as if pondering some secrets or the universe. Before Sukuna would wonder off regularly and paid no heed to the boy waddling away knowing they would reconvene when it was time to move again, but now every time Megumi drifted past an invisible boundary he felt the alpha’s attention shift even if the man himself never moved as if a strange invisible rope was tied between Sukuna’s eyes and his back. The omega was honestly getting a little antsy wondering if the criminal was beginning to find him more hassle than he was worth and hoped they would reach their next stop faster to prove his usefulness.
They rolled towards their destination, a rice farming village, the very same one the pack of country hoodlums came from. Simply put: They were broke. Upon catching the mention of curse Megumi had made up his mind to investigate- and to fill up their pockets with some voluntary donations lest they would have no fares or chances in Osaka.
Megumi tidied his dress, his obi layered formally, his crested obidome displayed at the front and threw on the Zenin crested haori.
He was fixing his neckline, ‘What are you doing?’ Megumi ducked away as Sukuna tried to reach into his clothes again still wary of having his nipples abused. ‘Just checking something…’ There wasn’t much room for Megumi to run as he retreated to the edge of the wooden cart. Sukuna was twisted back, stretching his arm and slipping his hand into the omega's inner white collar. Megumi shot him an impressed look, lip curled but did little else as rough fingers brushed along the back of his braided choker and Sukuna pulled away. The alpha went back to glaring at the road immediately after dragging his inner wrist across Megumi’s scent gland. ‘....’ The omega said nothing to the bizarre scenting.
The appearance of a pretty, graceful highborn omega and his ronin bodyguard in their little village was very exciting, inviting all the aunties out to stare and whisper their arrival even before they reached the small center.
‘- A Zenin? Oh my…’ The village head rubbed his sweaty palms against his kimono inconspicuously. An exceptionally beautiful male omega was stood neatly before him, a fine white kimono bearing a family crest worn over his head as a sunshade in the manner of aristocratic wives, he peaked out under the large hood with such a modest, cold expression but those eyelashes belonged to an oiran. Megumi himself never thought much about his appearance but his fairness, lithe limbs, light coloured eyes did most the convincing for him. And alphas were most easily fooled by pretty omegas. The Zenin travel pass verified his identity for those who could read.
The old alpha was the proud type, Megumi could tell by the way he did not outwardly question a Zenin exorcist personally rushing to their small rural settlement to aid. Sukuna was easily forgotten as a servant when the omega was so lovely.
‘Our dogs have been getting attacked at night,’ The village head was pushing middle-aged, he walked well and strolled with his hands folded behind a straight back, perhaps once an arrogant young alpha. He was known as Jun-san, Megumi also parsed him as the wife-fearing kind of man.
‘I had set up patrols instead to find out who- or what’s doing this but nothing has been coming from it.’ Jun-san pointed at the sorry rows of rice in their paddies, torn and sparse like the hair on his crown. ‘It’s not just the rice, it’s almost all our crops but if the rice doesn’t grow- Well, what would we even do if we don’t have taxes to pay?’
In Shinto-ism rice seedlings were said to be a dwelling of kami which in turn must be worshipped, an omen like this was no good, ‘Could I see the rice closely?’ Jun-san made a jerking motion with his head and one of the farmers stepped into the paddy, returning with a handful of sprouts to hand Megumi. Sukuna glowered in the background, arms crossed, bored and irritable of the noise as Megumi was fawned over.
‘Too close.’ A wooden staff cut between Megumi and the crowd. The villagers laughed awkwardly and nodded, taking steps back from the omega. Megumi resisted growling at Sukuna breathing down his neck but understood his intention as preventing anyone from being close enough to properly scent him. ‘I apologise for my servant, he has been in service to my family for three decades, he is sometimes overbearing.’ I haven’t even lived three fucking decades! Sukuna sucked in a loud inhale and the squeaking of his back molars was audible as he grit his teeth.
‘What kind of injuries have your dogs sustained?’ Megumi returned the limp leaves back to the farmer, the tears in the rice were too large and jagged to be an insect and a wandering herbivore would simply have been found already. ‘Bloody ones, bites and full body injuries.’ It was much too odd to be human intervention either.
‘This has been ongoing for two moons? I must ask if there have been more deaths this past year than births in this village?’ Megumi turned with some urgency. A beta woman, perhaps a marketplace vendor inhaled sharply and nodded insistently. Though really anyone could count the amount of pups and elderly walking around and hazard a guess. With some uninspiring acting Megumi looked pensive, really his pretty face carried the performance.
‘What is terrorising your village is neither pest nor human.’ The cacophony of gasps erupting from the villagers had Sukuna rolling his eyes from under his straw hat.
‘You mean to say it’s a curse, Zenin-san?’ Jun-san urged as if he hoped it were. ‘The signs do point towards the supernatural, though if you could share anything out of the ordinary occurring the past year it would be great insight.’ Someone piped up, ‘We had snow this winter.’ It did help when a group was inherently superstitious. ‘The first in nearly a decade.’ The village leader agreed.
‘Then it is a bad sign, for the gods to bring snow and then the grains to be destroyed…’ Megumi looked to the side, more muttering and concern in the background. ‘I feel great resentments here, I will investigate tonight. Continue to plant rice only at the edges of the fields today, do not fill the center. Please send all your people back into the village after dark and leave a torch lit in every vegetable garden, there will be no need to continue your nightwatch.’ He looked past the crowd at a suspiciously familiar group of young men cowering from a distance.
Megumi entertained the villagers all day, giving divinations and advice to the long line of people lining up to see him. They brought snacks, fruit and garden harvests as tokens of appreciation, country folk had little money to spare though a few small coins slipped their way by the desperate. They were even given a room for lodging, their ox was parked somewhere to graze, it was humble yet generous for a village and they were fed a neat meal by Jun-san's wife. Megumi liked her, a very talkative omega with a far more severe personality than her mate.
‘You don’t actually know what’s going on here.’ Sukuna lay on his back popping bitesize kumquats into his mouth. Megumi was sitting side saddle on a floor cushion massaging his ankles, trying to press away the swelling. If his stomach got bigger Sukuna wondered if he could even reach by then. ‘We’ll find out.’ Megumi replied simply. ‘We .’ Sukuna stopped his fruit sampling to fix Megumi with an unimpressed look.
‘You’ve already eaten my kibi-dango , you should at least pull your own weight Sukuna- san .’ Megumi’s gaze drifted and Sukuna followed it to a plate of millet dumplings he did indeed eat all of. ‘What do I look like? A dog?’ He was referencing the tale of Momotaro of course but the silent side eye Megumi gave him made a vein pop on his forehead.
Jun-san accompanied them to the fields at night, though it seemed he was just really excited to see an exorcist at work more than anything else. Sukuna spoke nothing around strangers, Megumi could tell he was irked by the company. There was only the moon in a relatively cloudless sky and not a torch in sight. It was humid in this region, even a summer sky had few fluffy clouds. Megumi had put up strings across the paddies in the day and connected his paper dolls to the ends, he would know in what field there was a disturbance.
‘Jun-san, could you walk along the main path like you were on patrol?’ Megumi suggested. ‘I believe it would be best to pretend tonight is the same as any other, the curse seems to have enough intelligence to avoid being seen.’ The alpha was eager to oblige and set off with a wooden stick, probably the kind his wife used for laundry.
‘And now?’ Sukuna leaned against a tree in the foliage. ‘We wait.’ Megumi ran his fingertips along the long threads attached to a sapling. ‘Though if you stuck to the forest perimeter and looked for it the night might speed along. You’re better at being undetected than villagers after all.’ Though flattery got no one anywhere, Sukuna did roll his eyes and disappeared to look. Out of boredom, he said to himself.
Megumi waited, and waited, leaning against a skinny tree strumming his fingers along the strings until Jun-san even returned from surveying the whole stretch of land. Megumi straightened and inhaled quietly, deeply. If he didn’t catch whatever it was he would be quite embarrassed to say the least.
A fragile rustle. One of his paper dolls began to dance without a guiding breeze. Megumi snapped back to attention and pinched the string, Jun-san’s eyes were practically sparkling with intrigue. Megumi looked into the trees, Sukuna was just about visible in the distance to only his point of view, arms crossed and waiting. Megumi held up three fingers for Sukuna to see and the alpha disappeared again. ‘Jun-san, please stay here and keep a track of my paper ningyo, don’t come out until we identify what we are dealing with.’
Megumi strode along the path careful to keep an even pace before reaching the third field. Conveniently a cloud was blocking part of the moon making seeing difficult only in the immediate area. Megumi walked along the edge of the section hearing and seeing nothing. The omega stopped before cutting across the halfway line to the trees, Megumi reached into his sleeve before crouching down.
Fwoom! For a flash it appeared as if the fields were surrounded by will-o’-wisps as Megumi’s shikigami burned away and lit the entire stretch from the village to the road for just long enough. A lump writhed, startled by the sudden brightness a distance across from Megumi in the oily black of the water. Megumi almost jumped into the mud, the curse knew it was spotted and shot off for the forest. Megumi slipped a paper talisman out from his sleeve again but didn’t throw it, instead Megumi fixed the thin paper body to his lips and whistled a piercing note.
A savage slash that rippled across the whole field ripped from the trees stopping everything in its tracks, even the rice plants seemed to quiver until settling still again.
Megumi hurried to Sukuna’s side to see. ‘Why did you whistle for me like a fucking dog?’ Sukuna sheathed his blade again with the glint of the moonlight bouncing off onto the curse in the water. Even Jun-san rushed over from the other side to see what the commotion was. The cloud drifted past finally. They all scrutinised what they saw.
The shape of a hobbled looking old man, one swollen visible eye, covered in mud, tearing rice apart with its teeth. Apparently. Some green strands hung off its black teeth. It wasn’t easy to tell its shape when it was so caked in mud but the crown looked inhuman.
‘Jogo.’ Was the only sound it uttered.
‘Jogo?’ Jun-san blinked and repeated.
‘Jo... go….’ Megumi stared at it wide-eyed and incredulous.
Sukuna didn’t repeat it but maybe it was a near thing. They all stared at each other until a breeze actually rustled by.
‘Disgusting.’ Megumi’s lip curled, looking down at the thing in disdain.
‘Let’s exterminate it.’ Sukuna agreed, raising his staff.
‘Jogo?!’ The pathetic thing could be exorcised by Megumi alone. He flung out a talisman, it ignited immediately on contact.