Jujutsu Kaisen: The Promise Bonds - Chapter 23 - DerbyDevil - 呪術廻戦 (2024)

Chapter Text

Promise is a big word.

It either makes something, or it breaks them.

Location: Somewhere in the City of Kokoura-The Hotel Suite [Shoko Ieiri, Geto Suguru, Gojo Satoru, & Yuuji]

"Welcome back! "

Geto paused, momentarily stunned, if that's a thing. He let the words' welcome back' wrap around him like a warm embrace as he stepped through the door, drenched from the relentless rain outside. Water dripped from his school uniform, pooling around his feet.

"Wha-Huh? What happened?" Despite the mask covering Yuuji's face, the tone of his voice spoke volumes of his concern.

It was a simple phrase. It's so easy but not commonly used among the Sorcerers in the Jujutsu World. To Sorcerers, the words of farewell often go along the phrases' good luck, have a nice mission, don't die,' and the greetings that come along with it are 'how is it? Seeing that you're alive, that curse must not be that strong.' Sorcerers don't expect to live when they are assigned to do a mission. Therefore, the words' welcome back' that spoke to Geto with a soft, tinged with a hint of joy and relief, a melody that struck a chord deep within his heart, was a weight of emotions that he hadn't anticipated. Therefore, when his gaze focused on the King of Curses with his usual cardboard mask rushing towards the doorway with hurried steps, to only slow down his momentum, his voice faltered to bewilderment before rushing into the bathroom and carrying a handful of towels in his arms, was all the more endearing and weird to see.

"You're drenched! What happened to the umbrellas I give you and your assistant?"

The gesture was oddly tender as Geto watched Yuuji begin to dry off the rain that clung to Geto's hair. He stood there, feeling the warmth of the towel seep through the cold, a stark contrast to the chill that had settled in his bones. Yuuji's hand moved with a practiced ease, wiping away the rain and the grime. But despite the meticulously patting, it does nothing from the incoming remark from Shoko.

"Let's just say that a certain someone." Hazel eyes shot Geto a look. "thought it would be a good idea to use them as weapons."

Geto rubbed the back of his neck, avoiding Shoko's amused gaze. "I didn't think that it would break that easily...." He mumbled.

He was fighting off gigantic scissors that could snap his body in half! How else was he supposed to protect himself? Using his bare limbs? But then again, when Geto first thought of the idea, he did promise Shoko that he would try not to break them. But that doesn't mean that he won't break them.

Surprisingly, Yuuji chuckles at his response. "Remind me to give you ten umbrellas as a precaution the next time I send you off in the rain."

"Okay, now that's a bit too much."

Shoko snorted, her voice light as a feathered as Geto did not miss the way her lips curled at the edges. "Make that fifty. I doubt that there will be even one left when that happens."

She's teasing him.

"Oh! Then let's double that amount, just in case that actually might happen." Yuuji adds on.

They're both teasing him.

"Anyway, how's everything on your side?" Geto questioned as his gaze followed Yuuji, motioning towards Shoko, and began drying her hair. His touch was so tender and considerate that his ebony eyes could not help but be fixated on the same practiced ease of swiping and patting that Yuuji does. "I heard from the Hotel staff that there was a blackout? Was everything okay?"

Soon after Ijichi dropped them off at their respective hotels and walked through the automatic doors, they were greeted by the frantic sight of the hotel staff and worrisome civilians. Geto managed to get a brief summary of what was going on by asking a nearby staff member and judging by how the lights were back on in the living room and within the buildings, it seemed like the power was back on.

"Satoru didn't give you much trouble, did he?" However, that doesn't mean that Geto shouldn't worried. This is Satoru and Yuuji he's talking about, and especially with the little tussle that they seemingly have (in Satoru's words), he couldn't help but be slightly worried.

"Ya!" A blaring voice chimes in, dragging those ebony eyes to see his white-haired friend walking towards them, standing behind Yuuji with a scowl on his face. "Why are you so quick to blame me?!"

"Because this is you, we are talking about," Shoko remarked, as she then took notice of a bandage wound on Satoru's hand. And there's no doubt that Geto also catches it because of the way he's fixated on it.

"What's that supposed to mean!" Satoru pouted, feet stomping, and all like a child he was before leaning towards Yuuji. "Was I causing trouble to you, Mr. Guide?"

The reaction was immediate. Yuuji tensed, his body going rigid, a moment where the King of Curses- seemed frozen, caught off guard by Satoru's proximity. Then Yuuji crossed his arms, leaned his body weight away from Satoru, and spoke. "Not at all, Six-Eyes. You were a great accompany as always."

"See!" Satoru smiles.

But neither Shoko nor Geto is smiling. Instead, they are glancing at each other as a singular question brewing within their minds: Did Yuuji just tensed up?

~呪術廻戦~

The room of the Curse Manipulator is undoubtedly different. The desk overflowed with neatly arranged papers, an open laptop (if his memory served him right), and an array of pens and highlighters in perfect formation. Post-its adorned the desk like a patchwork quilt, each bearing vibrant yellow notes that caught Yuuji's eye. Careful not to disturb the meticulously organized chaos, he leaned in, scanning the notes with a furrowed brow.

"Kintoki Cedars, a girl, mentally inept, a little brother," the words on one post-it declared, revealing a glimpse into the mysteries occupying the Curse Manipulator's mind. Adjacent to the notes were diagrams, each line and angle precision-drawn with a ruler, and flowcharts brimming with probing questions. Some inquiries seemed straightforward, ready for immediate answers, while others hinted at deeper complexities demanding thoughtful consideration. Yet amidst the scholarly order, Yuuji sensed an unseen intelligence at work—perhaps that of the enigmatic Curse Manipulator himself.

" What a hard-working child ," Yuuji mused out loud, briefly marveling at the organized chaos before turning his attention to the nearby bookstacks next to the bed. Each volume, meticulously categorized by genre and subject, stood proudly with spines unbroken and aligned. A particular book on the history of the Jujutsu World caught his eye, detailing the Golden Era from the Heian Period onward, and he could not help but pick it up. As golden eyes scanned the cover, memories of conversations with Kurourushi resurfaced, prompting a thoughtful raise of his eyebrow.

[ But it's just that the information, the events, and the records are all considered highly confidential. ]

Kurourushi had told Yuuji that he could not access records of sorcery dating back to the Heian Era. However, if all documents and information from that time are confidential, why do the Sorcerers possess them? Moreover, Choso physically taught Yuuji the history of the Heian Era. If the way Choso taught him contradicts the idea of Sorcerers having such records, it raises questions about the confidentiality of that era.

Golden eyes narrowed in suspicion. Had Kuro lied to me?

But that didn't make sense. What motive could Kurourushi have for fabricating Heian Era facts? Besides, the genuine nervousness Yuuji sensed from the co*ckroach spirit couldn't be fake. If Kurourushi spoke truthfully, where lay the deception?

Yuuji's grip tightened on the book as he unraveled these thoughts, weaving through theories and questions to solve a puzzle known only to him. His introspection shattered abruptly at a sharp knock on the door, drawing his attention. Golden eyes snapped towards it just as it swung open.

"Sorry," came the first word from the Curse Manipulator, casually dressed in a sweater and pants, towel in hand to dry his hair—fresh from the shower. "Did you wait long?"

"No," Yuuji replied, setting the book down on the stacks. "You're just in time."

As the door clicked shut behind them, Yuuji's gaze lingered on the Sorcerer settling onto his bed. Fresh bandages adorned his right arm—courtesy of Pretty Miss, no doubt. "So, how did it go?"

Even without further explanation, the Sorcerer's hidden ebony eyes beneath the towel spoke volumes of his excitement. And though he didn't say a word about it, when he walked in drenched (despite Yuuji having given him an umbrella), the curse energies within the Manipulator had clearly grown, bringing a smile to Yuuji's lips.

"I-"

"Wait." Yuuji swiftly interrupted, moving to a wall and biting his finger, using it to write cursive words that melted and expanded across the room, covering every corner before vanishing. He turned back to the dazed Sorcerer.

"There, now you can speak."

"Just a little spell to ensure whatever is said here stays here," Yuuji explained, glancing at the door where two familiar curse energies huddled outside. "I don't need little birdies eavesdropping on us."

"How convenient," Geto commented, intrigued. "Is that part of Curse Language?"

"Something like that," Yuuji nodded. "Interested in Curse Language too?"

"Too?" Geto asked with a raised brow before his expression contorted into a pinched expression. "Don't tell me..."

"It was a careless mistake of mine," Yuuji confessed as he crossed his arms, leaning against the wall with his head down. He felt the cardboard mask on his head shift, adding more weight to his mistake. "But don't worry; your friend still hasn't been able to figure out my identity."

And I pray that he never will.

The guillotine still hangs in the air. Would it be wrong for Yuuji to want to maintain the white lies that he spews?

"Is that why you looked tensed?"

Golden eyes blinked at the Sorcerer before him. Yuuji tilted his head wearily. "I... seemed tense?"

"But then again, I might have misread it," Geto said with a knowing smile. "After all, you're wearing that silly mask; it's hard to tell."

Me? Tense? His composure slipped again, unnoticed. At least this time, Yuuji hadn't accidentally released his curse energy in front of the Sorcerer. He wouldn't know what to do if Kurourushi and the other Curse Spirits showed up in the living room with the rest of the Sorcerers.

"Right..." Yuuji muttered though he doubted that the Curse Manipulator had heard him. "But back to our original conversation, how did your little favor go?"

Even though Yuuji could sense the Sorcerer's curse energy, indicating the new addition to his collection, it couldn't compete with the sight of the Curse Manipulator's face lit with a smile. His ebony eyes sparkled with pride, and his flushed cheeks were unmistakable signs of his success.

"Rather than telling you," the Sorcerer spoke, his voice carrying a confident lilt, "why don't I show it to you instead?"

There was a shift in the Sorcerer's curse energy, a palpable change that made the hairs on the back of Yuuji's neck stand on end. It thickened in mere seconds, vibrating with a potency that crackled through the air like distant thunder. What was once a calm surface of undisturbed water was now twisted and bent. A rift began to form, a jagged tear in the air itself, glowing faintly as it widened, revealing a void pulsing with a life of its own.

From the depths of this void, a figure began to emerge. Her form was shrouded in shadows clinging to her like a second skin. As she stepped through the rift, the shadows peeled away, revealing a woman with long, dark hair cascading over her shoulders. Her eyes were hidden behind a curtain of bangs, her face partially obscured by a surgical mask. Even with it on, her presence was unmistakable—this was Kuchisake-onna, a figure of terror. But as she fully materialized, something seemed different. She didn't move with the feral grace of a predator, nor did she exude malevolent intent as the stories spoke of. There was no greeting to the King of Curses; she stood still, her posture demure and her eyes downcast, radiating an air of obedience and docility.

Golden eyes fixed on Kuchisake-onna, Yuuji stepped closer. As he walked, his hand dipped into his own shadow, fingers curling and pulling out his bamboo flute. Halting before the cursed spirit, he gently lifted her chin, his gaze narrowing.

The bamboo flute lunged toward the Sorcerer's chest, the air humming with stirred energy. Time seemed to slow. In a blur of movement, Kuchisake-onna intercepted the attack, her hand snatching the flute with an unyielding grip. Her once calm eyes now blazed with fierce protectiveness.

"Yuuji?"

The spirit, once bound by loyalty, now bared her fangs at him.

"Apologies, Sorcerer." Yuuji's words carried a hint of curiosity rather than contrition. There was a playful glint in his voice. "I was merely testing the loyalty of this spirit. It looks like she's quite obedient, after all."

Golden eyes locked with the Sorcerer's nervous ebony gaze. "Well done. You've truly impressed me!"

The transformation in the Sorcerer's eyes was dramatic. Just moments ago, they had been fraught with nervous energy, darting around anxiously. Now, prompted by Yuuji's praise, they widened in surprise. The tension seemed to dissipate, replaced by a spark of astonishment. A delicate blush tinted his cheeks, adding a bashful softness to his expression. While surprise lingered, it was the bashfulness that dominated, as if Yuuji's words had unlocked something within him.

Happiness? No, not quite. It was more like contentment. Yuuji couldn't help but wonder: had no one ever complimented him like this before?

"A-anyway!" The Sorcerer coughed, trying to regain his composure as he dismissed his summon. "What was that?"

"What do you mean?"

"That." The Curse Manipulator pointed at the bamboo flute in Yuuji's hand. "You just retrieved it from your shadow, and... it appeared?"

"Oh, this?" Yuuji twirled the flute between his fingers. "It's part of my abilities. Just as you store your Curse Spirits, I store things in my shadows."

"Is that part of the Ten-Shadow technique?"

The flute paused mid-twirl.

A moment of silence.

A blink.

"You... knew about my technique?"

It was surprising, to say the least, that a Sorcerer knew one of his closely guarded secrets. As the Curse Manipulator had mentioned, Yuuji's skill in manipulating shadows was known as the 'Ten-Shadow Techniques,' including storing items like his flute. But therein lay the issue—it was a secret shared only with Yuuji's trusted ally, Choso, and select Curse Spirits like Kurourushi. To think that a Sorcerer he'd known for less than a week had uncovered this ability was disconcerting.

"Where did you learn about it?" Yuuji's gaze drifted toward the book he had picked up earlier. "Is it written in your book?"

Documentation was a double-edged sword. It allowed others to record and expose one's life, detailing strengths and weaknesses as if scrutinizing every moment. There was no privacy. For a Curse Spirit like Yuuji, Sorcerers gaining insight into their abilities and vulnerabilities posed a serious threat. He couldn't help but wonder: what other secrets did that cursed book hold? Was it about him? Or maybe Sukuna? Perhaps even Choso?

He felt an urge to burn it.

Golden eyes blinked. "The Big Three Families?"

Yuuji had heard of them from Choso. The great Sorcerer Clans of the Jujutsu world: Zenin, Kamo, and Gojo. Renowned since the Heian Era, these clans were known for their exceptional talent in jujutsu, passing down inherited techniques through generations. Despite wandering for fifteen years, Yuuji had never encountered any members except for the Six-Eyes. Choso, however, hadn't been forthcoming with details beyond the basics.

But why was Big Bro bringing this up?

It seemed the Sorcerer understood Yuuji's thoughts, interpreting his silence as encouragement to continue. Nervousness tinged his tone as he spoke cautiously, "Please don't be offended if I ask you this, Yuuji."

Even if Yuuji didn't see the nervousness radiating from the Curse Manipulator, the sharp, electrifying tension in the air confirmed the Sorcerer's unease.

"Go on," Yuuji prompted. Yet the boy before him remained tense. Yuuji sighed, trying to reassure him. "You have my word, Geto-kun."

That seemed to settle Geto, who took a deep breath, hands clenching into fists, his gaze piercing. Though his voice trembled slightly, confidence still edged his words. "Were you a member of the Zenin Clan before you became a Curse Spirit?"

.....?

"......Pardon?"

~呪術廻戦~

"Can you hear anything now?" Shoko whispered, pressing her ear against the door.

"Not a thing," Satoru grumbled, shifting his weight cautiously. "It's like they aren't even talking."

Their brows furrowed in concentration, Shoko and Satoru leaned against the wooden door, their shadows stretching and swaying with their movements. It was an unusual sight—two skilled sorcerers caught in an undignified attempt at surveillance. Shoko, determined to catch even the faintest whisper, had practically clambered onto Satoru's back, her small frame perched precariously on his shoulders. Satoru, half-crouched and half-standing, braced himself against the door, wincing as Shoko's elbow jabbed into his neck. They are definitely not eavesdropping, no matter what others say!

"Hold still," Shoko muttered, adjusting her position.

"I'm trying," Satoru strained, struggling to maintain their balance. "Hey Shoko, do you think you've put on weight?"

There was a stunned silence before Shoko's irritation flared. "What did you just say?" she hissed, her voice dangerously low.

"It's true!" Satoru persisted, oblivious to his mistake. "You're a bit heavy up here. Seriously, you weren't this heavy before. Did the Guide's food make you gain weight—"

Before Satoru could finish, Shoko's narrowed eyes and swift movements turned into a flurry of light but firm slaps on his head and shoulders. "You idiot! How dare you say that! You seriously have no tact!"

"Ow! Shoko, stop! I was just kidding!" Satoru yelped, shielding himself.

Fueled by frustration, Shoko continued her assault. "You think it's easy balancing up here? Maybe you should try it!"

Satoru's attempts to dodge her blows made them wobble precariously, nearly toppling over if not for his hand on the door. "Okay, okay! You're not heavy! You're light as a feather! Stop hitting me!"

"You—!"

Before Shoko could retaliate further, the door suddenly creaked open. Satoru lost his balance, sending Shoko tumbling forward with a yelp, dragging him down in a tangle of limbs. They collapsed in an undignified heap on the floor, narrowly avoiding disaster thanks to a timely leg and hand that steadied them. Hazel eyes blinked up at the cardboard box that greeted them.

"What are you two doing?" Yuuji asked, amusem*nt twinkling in his tone.

Shoko quickly scrambled off Satoru, brushing herself off, and flashed a sheepish smile. "Just, uh, trying to see if you have any ideas about what you want for dinner," she said, her voice a little too casual.

The cardboard box tilted to the side, clearly unconvinced.

"Right," Yuuji said slowly, before turning his gaze downward, fixing it on Satoru, who caught himself on Yuuji's leg, his hand close around Yuuji's calf before sliding down to grip his ankles.

"And you, Six-Eyes?" Yuuji asked, his hands clasped behind his back.

"I was getting my ass beat—"

"He was wondering if there's any dessert left," Shoko interjected, earning looks from both Yuuji and her prone friend. "He was starting to get hungry."

"Then you're in luck," Yuuji replied, "The cake that I made should be cooled enough. Let me go prepare it."

As Yuuji walked out, Shoko took a moment to poke her head into Geto's room. Her friend's face appeared blank and confused, prompting her to ask, "You alright?"

Ebony eyes lifted to meet her gaze, tinged with lingering confusion that Shoko noticed. Whatever Geto and Yuuji had talked about—

"Yeah, I'm alright. Let's go get some cake before Satoru eats it all."

—clearly indicated otherwise.

"Then hurry your ass up," Shoko retorted instead. That was all she could do for him, nothing more, nothing less if he didn't want to talk about it. But she would be there to lend an ear if needed since that's what Shoko can do for him.

~呪術廻戦~

The cake was delicious.

Each bite melted effortlessly on the tongue, releasing a flood of velvety cocoa and hints of vanilla, with a whisper of coffee deepening the chocolate's complexity. Satoru couldn't help but sigh in bliss as his thoughts lingered on the satisfying experience, leaving a bittersweet aftertaste that begged for another forkful. However, as delicious as the cake was (and it had been mentioned a million times), it didn't explain why Shoko and Geto had burst into laughter the moment Satoru returned to the living room from his bathroom break. When he asked, they brushed him off, and even the Guide's response left him momentarily bewildered.

Now, sitting on his bed in the comfort of his room, Satoru couldn't shake the feeling that he was missing something—something directly related to Geto and Shoko. It wasn't that his friends couldn't have their own secrets; they certainly could. But for some reason, whether intuition or overthinking, he felt there was something only Geto and Shoko could see.

"Six-Eyes."

The sound of his nickname, spoken softly yet firmly, pulled at him. But it was the warmth of the grip on his hand that truly brought him back. Fingers gently wrapped around his own, the touch grounding and calming, halting his train of thought like a dying engine.

Cerulean eyes blinked, refocusing as the Guide continued. "You're not concentrating."

Oops.

"I am!" Satoru replied. "I was."

"Something on your mind?"

The curse energy that had enveloped him now dissipated, slipping away the moment the Guide released his hand. His mind noted, So he won't hold my hand unless necessary, huh?

It started with a simple request—to control his infinity, or at least understand how to release it. Initially, Satoru thought they had resolved whatever misunderstanding existed between them, judging by how eager the Guide had been to assist—touching him to demonstrate how to learn the Curse Language through tactile interaction. But when Satoru brought up dual cultivation or any other strange technique the Guide had mentioned before, it seemed like the Guide withdrew once more, hesitating. Only after numerous pleas (and maybe a bit of whining) did the Guide reluctantly agree.

Satoru understood the Guide's perspective—who wouldn't? He's Gojo Satoru, perfect in every way, down to the last detail. But that didn't mean the Guide needed to tread so carefully around him. The tentative approach, tiptoeing around him, erected an unseen barrier. The ease of touch, playful banter, and normal interactions were novel for Satoru within the strict hierarchy of the Jujutsu Society. For once, he felt treated like an ordinary person, not a figure of dread or admiration.

Just normal; it felt new.

But now, the Guide's recent demeanor—hesitant, guarded—rankled. Each interaction felt contrived, like a clumsy dance where neither knew the steps. Initially, Satoru tried to brush it off, pretending all was well and nudging conversations in his favor. It worked momentarily, but the allure faded fast. It gnawed at him—a persistent reminder of something unspoken and unresolved. He yearned to address it yet feared alienating the Guide. How could he express himself without seeming overbearing?

Then, his best friend's advice echoed in his mind: [Express your feelings. Clear communication can only help in these situations.]

"Six Eyes?"

f*ck it.

Satoru tightened his grip around the hand that had slipped from his grasp moments ago. He felt a slight jump and flinch at the touch but refused to let go. Instead, he held on tighter. Before giving the Guide a chance to speak, he took hold firmly and asked directly, "What do I have to do to make you touch me willingly again?"

A pause.

A confused hum follows by the Guide's voice. "Wh-what?"

He's confused. Satoru noted. Why's he confused? He tackles on. "At first, it was weird with how casual you are with me, but now it feels strange with the way you're treating me. I've tried and tried to make you touch me, but you always reject me, and it utterly makes me feel like sh*t."

"Sorcerer-"

"Language, yes, I know. I'm okay with having my sweets taken just this time." Satoru cuts in, continuing, leaving no room for the Guide to intercept. He takes in a breath. "Suguru told me to express my feelings and communicate with you, but I don't know how to begin. I don't want you to be uncomfortable with me, and I don't want to be forceful again and make you dislike me. I-I...I know that I have a sh*tty personality, and the way I act is f*ckin sh*t, but, but, it's just that, it's really annoying that you are talking casually with Suguru and Shoko perfectly fine, but with me, you're always trying to put distance, and it's pissing me off. I want you to touch me again, to hold my hands, touch my hair, and make snarky remarks like you've always done."

Cerulean eyes lift, and he tries to look at the Guide before him, who is now a little bit more focused with the shapes morphed into a human figure but still fuzzy. Satoru readjusts his grip and says, "You're the first that ever made me like this, and, and, and..."

I don't want to lose this.

"What do I have to do to make you touch me willingly again, huh, Yuu-chan?"

Location: Somewhere in the United States, the Black Market [Masamichi Yaga & Nanami Kento]

The value of the prison realm exceeded Yaga's expectations.

Dust hung thick in the air, each inhalation a struggle with the acrid taste of concrete and debris burning in Yaga's throat. The ground trembled beneath the onslaught, sending shudders through the soon-to-be collapsing building, and the massive support beams holding the second floor groaned under the strain, signaling their limitations.

"Hasn't anyone taught you it's unsightly to hit a woman's face?" Venom spat from the woman with a scar running across her head, her voice clear amid the shouts of panic and terror reverberating off the crumbling walls. She wiped her lips, smearing blood. "You need a refresher in basic manners."

"I'll have to decline your offer then," Yaga replied, glancing at the man with the panther-like mask struggling to rise to his feet. His burning gaze was fixed on Yaga. He turned back to the woman. "Your methods don't suit my taste," he said.

They aren't allies. Yaga thought to himself as he assessed the situation. Enemies? Had their temporary truce broken? One thing was sure about these two: their objectives aligned with his—to secure the Prison Realm by any means necessary. And by "any means," Yaga hadn't expected such chaos, recklessness, and perhaps lack of planning. Still, he couldn't deny it had saved him the trouble of using his financial leverage. Seriously, one million dollars wasn't a joke.

"Boys..." The woman smiled a delicate curve that seemed warm and inviting. But Yaga saw through the facade; dealing with Higher-Ups all his life had honed his ability to spot cracks in such masks. "Who said anything about me?"

A guttural snarl tore through the chaos, snapping Yaga's gaze to his right. In an instant, a monstrous dog, a grotesque blur of decayed muscle and sinew, leaped at him. Its matted fur was caked with dirt and blood, patches of flesh hanging loosely from its skeletal frame. Its eyes burned with hellish light, fixed on Yaga, its jaws opening like a deadly flower, eager to taste his flesh and blood. But that wasn't all. A surge of unfamiliar curse energy spiked in Yaga's senses, urging him to glance behind—

A deafening crunch of bones and animalistic cries echoed, saved by his trusted cursed doll, Cathy. With a swift kick, Yaga deflected another monstrous abomination; its jaws unraveled in a charge toward him. Just as Yaga redirected his attention forward, a hand shot out. Yaga barely dodged, narrowly evading the woman's claws aimed at the prison realm in his hand.

The woman clicked her tongue.

Yaga narrowed his chocolate eyes disapprovingly at her. This woman!

Anticipating her strike, Yaga dodged as she seized the opening, reaching for the prison realm again. With reflexes honed by countless battles, Yaga twisted away, his focus intense. The woman feinted left, then lunged right, her hand darting toward the object, just missing it. Seizing the opportunity, Yaga sidestepped her attack and delivered a swift kick to her side. She grunted but retaliated with a sweeping move, aiming to knock Yaga off balance. He leaped back, but in the ensuing exchange, she managed a high kick aimed at Yaga's right hand. With a grunt, Yaga felt his grip on the prison realm falter—

And slip.

sh*t! Yaga cursed mentally as he stretched out his left hand, fingers brushing against the tattered, rough surface of the box's talisman.

"Piercing Blood!"

A deadly beam of blood shot through the air, separating Yaga and the woman. Chocolate eyes watched as the beam struck the prison realm, tipping the cube slightly higher in its plane of existence. Yaga glanced back to see who had fired the attack and was momentarily stunned to find it came from the man with the panther-like mask, his hands clasped together in the form of prayer. Instantly, a singular question surged through Yaga's mind:

What in the world is a Kamo member doing here?!

"Dogs!"

Before Yaga could process it, a curt shout in an unfamiliar language echoed in the sky. With those cursed words, foreign curse energy spiked around Yaga, grabbing his attention in every direction. His mind raced: Where was it coming from?

A shadow loomed over Yaga, halting his thoughts instantly. With widened eyes, he snapped his gaze upward, witnessing in a split moment of distraction as a monstrous dog leaped from the second floor. Its jaw wide, teeth dripping crimson, it snatched the prison realm in its mouth. The dog landed with a bone-jarring thud mere feet from Yaga, sending a shockwave of realization through him, reopening a fifteen-year-old memory.

A memory of a Curse Spirit pleading on bloodied ground, once mighty and feared, now reduced to a fragile shard, promising Yaga.

[Then it's a promise-]

Chocolate eyes watch as the dog's jaw loosens and then tightens, watching, trained at the prison realm, as it was engulfed by the creature before his very eyes.

[-Principle Yaga ]

Swallowed and running away from the stage.

Away from him.

"CATHY!" A primal shout filled with anguish erupted from Yaga, the realization striking like a physical blow, knocking the air from his lungs. Desperation surged, the need to fix, mend, and undo the damage roaring in his ears. His eyes darted to his precious dolls, struggling against the dog's attack, striving to fulfill their master's command. But another realization dawned.

Cathy wouldn't make it!

Already in motion, Yaga ran towards the dog now swallowed the prison realm. A bloody beam shot forth, piercing the hind leg of the dog, earning a whimper and grazing Yaga's arms, tearing through his sleeves. Pain shot through him like fireworks, but there was no time to dwell.

"Curse Technique Reversal—"

A voice crept behind him, and Yaga's eyes widened. He turned, striking. His fist collided with the stage floor, cracking it and forcing the scarred woman to jump back, putting a distance of at least ten feet between them.

The woman clicked her tongue harshly. "Nice reflexes."

It was only a brief moment, but Yaga felt it. The air around him crackled with curse energy, and the ground beneath him trembled. The odd sensation, the prickling of static electricity on his skin, raised the fine hairs on his neck. What the hell was that—wait!

Yaga spun around, his attention snapping to the chaos unfolding behind him. His eyes locked onto the limping, monstrous dog, its twisted form a horrifying sight as it fled with the Prison Realm buried deep within its grotesque stomach. The dog leaped from the stage, crashing into the once orderly rows of seats, now scattered, overturned, and broken, their metal frames twisted into grotesque sculptures.

In that critical moment, as chaos reigned around him, a chill colder than the harshest winter night settled in Yaga's bones, spreading with each rapid breath. His hands trembled, fists clenching and unclenching as he struggled to maintain control. But control was an illusion, slipping away faster than he could grasp it. The promise he had clung to with fierce determination now felt fragile, broken, slipping through his fingers like sand.

The Prison Realm—gone.

~呪術廻戦~

Nanami Kento didn't know what to make of the situation. Throughout his time as a Jujutsu Sorcerer, he had never considered it a noble calling. He always wondered why. Why were people born into the Jujutsu world only to serve and protect? Why did Sorcerers have to face death? He didn't understand it, nor did he want to. Nothing good came from a role where one's life was constantly on the line. The institution called it a mission, an honorable badge to flaunt, but who would see it apart from fellow Sorcerers? Honor, power, and strength were words forced upon him by the Jujutsu world, but to Nanami, they were nothing but a curse—a burden.

Being a Jujutsu Sorcerer wasn't a ticket to a luxurious vacation; it was the opposite. It was a one-way ticket to hell, much like now.

"Haibara!" His voice echoed through the chaos. Nanami knew he was shouting; his voice was raw and hoarse, barely audible amidst the panic and confusion. He coughed violently, dust choking him, but he didn't stop calling out. "Haibara, where are you?!"

The room around him blurred with gray shadows, shapes moving hazily as survivors—Sorcerers and others—scrambled through the wreckage. Nanami's eyes scanned the debris-strewn ground and the overturned, twisted chairs, searching desperately for a familiar figure, a flash of color, anything that might lead him to his friend. His heart pounded relentlessly, matching the frantic pace of his movements. Dust clung to his sweat-drenched skin, streaking his face with grime as he stumbled over debris, ignoring the sharp edges tearing at his clothes and skin, and the jostling of people colliding with him.

Yaga-sensei had tasked him with staying by Haibara's side. But the moment the explosion hit, everything went to hell. Before Nanami could process the situation, Yaga-sensei had ordered them to evacuate and rushed toward the center of the stage. Haibara, who had been at his side moments before, had vanished when Nanami had looked away. The only reason Nanami was heading toward the chaos was that he sensed his friend's curse energy flickering among the other energies in the turmoil.

This was supposed to be a simple mission.

Simple, my ass.

For once, Nanami agreed with his upperclassman Gojo that this mission might be more than he and Haibara could handle. What did Sorcerers do when they didn't know what was happening? No support, no guidance—just a simple order to evacuate? How could he do that when he'd lost his friend amid the chaos?

"Haibara!"

A sudden surge of uncontrollable curse energy halted Nanami's movements. His mind pricked at him, like a tiny jab to the side of his brain. It felt like curse energy, but there was something off about it. Something that didn't feel right. It conflicted, as if curse energy mixed with something incompatible, trying to tear itself apart. Nanami couldn't quite grasp it, but it was enough to make the hair on the back of his neck stand on end, a chill sweeping through him. The unmistakable primal scent of rot and decay filled the air, mingling with dust and sweat.

His beige eyes scanned the surroundings—looking, seeing, trying to comprehend.

Whatever it was, it was close. Too close.

A low growl rumbled through the dust-laden air, sending shivers down Nanami's spine.

There was something else in this room besides people.

Nanami's heart raced—not with desperation to flee, but with resolve to confront. He scanned the dimly lit surroundings, eyes sharp and alert. Whatever lurked behind the thick blanket of dust, the shadows seemed to shift and writhe. Nanami dropped his holster and unsheathed his blunt sword.

The curtain raises. Nanami's breath caught in his throat the second he saw the creature before him. A decay-looking dog with its jaw holding a severed limb in between its teeth before letting it go with a sickening thud. Its presence demanded his full attention, halting Nanami's thoughts, freezing his actions, and only making his fingers curl around his blade tighter.

What the hell is that thing?

The dog lunged, and time seemed to slow. Nanami sidestepped, his blade flashing in the dim light as he struck out. The impact resonated through his arm, a satisfying connection that sent the monstrous dog crashing back into the blanket of dust. But there was no time to savor the victory, for another abomination leaped out from the shadows, its teeth bared, a snarl tearing from its throat.

The creature's weight slammed into him, knocking the breath from his lungs and sending him sprawling onto the rubble-strewn floor. Pain flared through his side as he landed hard, his grip on the blade faltering for a split second. The dog's snarling jaws snapped perilously close to his throat, its hot, rancid breath washing over his face.

The jaws unraveled like a sick, twisting version of a flower as Nanami watched in horror before he rolled, his muscles screaming in protest, narrowly avoiding the flower enclosed around his head. The creature's claws raked across his arm, tearing through fabric and flesh, but he didn't let it slow down. With a grunt of effort, Nanami managed to get his feet under him, pushing the creature off and scrambling to a standing position. Blood dripped from his arms, staining the ground beneath him, but he ignored the pain.

For this creature is relentless as he is.

Two more same-dog-looking creatures appeared, and one was limping, circling around him, their eyes trained on Nanami as it only tightened his grip on the blade. His knuckles were white with effort. He couldn't let them overwhelm him. He had to think and use every ounce of his skill and strength to survive. The third dog lunged again, its head splitting open more like a flower, its jaws wide open, aiming for his head. Nanami sidestepped, bringing his blade down in a swift, decisive arc. The weapon connected with a sickening thud as the dog's momentum carried it past him and into the rumble. The creature yelped a high-pitched sound of pain and cries before collapsing in a heap.

But there was no time to celebrate as the other two creatures closed in, their snarls echoing in the chaos. Nanami's mind raced, calculating his next move. He couldn't afford any mistakes. Haibara depends on him, and god knows what he is doing now! Nanami charged forward with a fierce battle cry, meeting the first creature head-on. His blade clashed with the wolf's teeth, a brutal, primal contest of strength and will. The creature's eyes- stared at him, its muscles rippling under the leftover fur as it pushed back against him. Nanami's arm trembled with the effort, his wounds screaming in protest, but he held his ground. He twisted, using the dog's own momentum against it, and brought his blade up in a swift upward strike. The creature crumples to the ground. Nanami heaves out before his eyes resting on the final creature before him.

The limping one.

The creature hesitated, its eyes flicking to its fallen comrades, but Nanami didn't wait for it to make a move. He lunged, his blade slicing through the air with deadly precision. The creature tried to doge, but it was too slow. The blade connected, cutting deep and perfectly in half. Its corpses fell from the skies and onto the ground in a sickening thud. Nanami breathed out as he stood amidst the fallen creatures. His breath was heavy, his body aching.

Click-clank.

His eyes traced the crimson blood that adorned him, then settled on a particular object lying before him—a cube soaked in blood, its talismanic markings still partially visible amidst the brownish-red stains. As his mind registered the sight, he recognized the cube he had glimpsed briefly before the chaos.

The auction item?

Nanami advanced cautiously, each step leaving a silent trail of blood. Bending down, he picked up the cube. Inspecting it closely in his hands, memories of Yaga-sensei flashed briefly. His teacher's usual disinterested expression had shifted when the host presented this cube (Prison Realm, was it?). Nanami recalled how Yaga-sensei's eyes had narrowed slightly, his body leaning forward in surprise—no, not quite surprise, but as if he had finally found what he sought: relief.

Beige eyes looked at the Prison Realm at his hands and thought: Was this what this mission was about?

Senpai!"

He turned towards the voice and saw Haibara Yu a few feet away, cradling a civilian in his arms. Nanami's initial instinct was to rush forward, scold Haibara for not waiting, for disobeying Yaga-sensei's orders and endangering himself. But as Nanami observed Haibara—the scratches on his face, the dirt on his clothes, his hands grimy yet his smile radiant—anger dissipated, replaced by a wave of reassurance.

He walked towards them.

"Haibara," Nanami began, "Are you—"

Suddenly, a faint whisper of movement caught Nanami's ear—a rustle of fabric, a soft scuff of a foot against the ground.

"Senpai, behind you!"

In an instant, Nanami spun around, blade rising as it clashed head-on with a fist. Blood gushed with sickening determination from his assailant's hand, split right in the middle and stretching to the forearm. Nanami heard a grunt of pain escape from his assailant, but that didn't stop the attacker from swiping their left hand, getting a handful of their own blood. Nanami's eyes widened as the shape of the dagger formed and slashed directly toward his eyes.

"Nanami-senpai!"

The dagger explodes back into its liquid form, splattering onto Nanami's face; he then feels a forceful kick to his chest, sending him tumbling backward. He hastily wipes the blood off of his face, fluttering his eyes open, just in time when Haibara reached to his side, concerned.

"Are you okay?!"

"I'm fine," Nanami reassured, his gaze returning to the assailant in the panther-like mask. His mind raced back to the moment the bloodied dagger exploded: he could have been clearly cut, yet it didn't happen. Was it because Haibara interfered? But there was no apparent reason for hesitation. Or was it simply luck? Beige eyes remained fixed on his attacker's arms, then lifted to meet their gaze. Amid Haibara's concerns, the building's groans, the panic-stricken rush, and the lurking growls of vicious dogs, a whisper cut through the chaos—clear and distinct. It was as if the universe momentarily quieted, allowing that single, soft, confused call to reach his ears.

"Nana...min...?"

It wasn't his name exactly, but close enough that Nanami couldn't help but widen his eyes. He knows me?

"Are you?" His assailant began, and Nanami watched as the arm he cut slowly attempted to regenerate but failed. "From Jujutsu High?"

Beige eyes blinked. How does he—

"And if we are?" Haibara interjected, his expression contorted with anger, fist raised.

There was a brief pause as if the assailant was contemplating, unsure, before continuing, "That Prison Realm."

Nanami glanced down at the cube in his hand before meeting the assailant's gaze again.

"Make sure not to lose it. And, uh," his assailant continued, his tone carrying regret, uncertainty, and hesitation, "Sorry for attacking you."

With that, the curtains metaphorically fell, and the assailant disappeared, leaving Nanami and Haibara exchanging confused looks. It wasn't long before Yaga-sensei joined them. Unbeknownst to them, pairs of amber eyes were observed from a distance.

Location: Somewhere in the City of Kokoura-The Hotel Suite [Yuuji]

It's hot.

The tight grip of Six-Eyes on Yuuji's wrist burns, searing onto his skin. The unyielding hold becomes a grounding reminder of the primal hunger gnawing at his insides. It's tantalizing—the heat, the touch of skin to skin, the hint of sweetness—everything that makes Yuuji's teeth ache and his mouth water.

"You..." Yuuji paused, his voice thick with desire, swallowing hard. "You don't know what you're asking for."

The grip on his wrist tightened further, challenging him. "Try me."

Yuuji prayed for any divine intervention to get him out of this. "I've told you before, I can't touch you because I don't trust myself to do so. What part of that don't you understand?"

"And what part of my words don't you understand?" Six-Eyes retorted. "I'm saying I want you to touch me!"

Without warning, Yuuji shoved Six-Eyes down hard, the force evident in how the Sorcerer's body hit the bed. Shock and confusion flashed across Six-Eyes' face, but before he could react, Yuuji was straddling him. His breaths came in shallow, ragged gasps, each one a struggle against his predatory instincts.

He snapped.

Almost.

"You're playing with fire, Sorcerer," Yuuji's throat tightened, his words heavy with need and restraint. He swallowed hard, forcing himself to continue, "You have no idea what you're getting yourself into."

Yuuji's vision sharpened. He focused on the rhythmic rise and fall of Six-Eyes' chest and the pulse at his throat as the Sorcerer beneath him spoke. "I think I have a pretty good idea."

"Do you?" Yuuji leaned in closer. "Because if you did, you wouldn't be asking for this."

"And why is that?"

"Because I want to treasure you."Golden eyes narrowed, head tilted, Yuuji's hand gently cupping the Sorcerer's delicate face, warm to the touch. "And because if you truly understood that I want to cherish you, you wouldn't want to know what I'm capable of."

His trembled fingers traced a path across the Six-Eye's cheek, a gentle, reverent touch that conveyed more than words ever could, and he hoped that the Sorcerer understood. His thumb brushed, feeling the smoothness of his skin under his palm, marveling at the life thrumming just beneath the surface. And at the corner of Yuuji's eyes, he can see the Sorcerer clutching the sheets of the beds tightly in his fist, as the wave of nervouness tingled his senses, edging his primal instinct even more. And yet, the prey before him made no moves to escape, to struggle, nor to fight back.

It enthralled Yuuji's core.

This is dangerous...

"So stop," Yuuji breathes out. Breathe, focus, control. "Tempeting me, Six-Eyes."

His hand slips.

Suddenly, warmth enveloped Yuuji as arms wrapped tightly around his waist. The unexpected embrace caught him off guard, freezing him momentarily, his hands hovering uncertainly in the air. His golden eyes stared down at Six-Eyes below him. "Six-"

"My name," interrupted Six-Eyes.

"What?"

Six-Eyes tilted his head up, meeting Yuuji's gaze with cerulean eyes, lips pressed into a thin, unimpressed line—a hint of a pout. "My name. I have one, you know. Not Six-Eyes."

A brow raised. "Sorcerer-"

A click of the tongue interrupted. "Satoru."

"Sorcerer," Yuuji tried again. "I-"

"Satoru!"

Yuuji closed his mouth, sighing mentally, if not physically too.

"What?" snapped Six-Eyes, lips now forming a scowl. "You call Suguru and Shoko by their names. Why can't you do the same for me?"

Well, because they know who I am... It felt wrong of Yuuji to call the Six-Eyes by his name when he had been deceiving him the entire time. To Yuuji, he felt like he didn't have the privilege to do so.

"And!" Six-Eyes continued, not finished with his argument. "You always have nicknames for them, like 'Pretty Miss' or whatever. Why am I always just Six-Eyes?"

Well, because that's who you are? As much as Yuuji wanted to say it, adding fuel to the fire didn't seem wise. Instead, he said, "How about Gojo? That's part of your name."

"Satoru."

"Gojo, Gojo-kun," Yuuji emphasized. "I'll call you that from now on."

Six-Eyes—no, Gojo—glared and buried his head back into Yuuji's stomach. "You suck. If this is your way of treasuring someone, then you absolutely suck."

Yuuji chuckled.How cute.

"Fine, suit yourself," Gojo muttered under his breath, pushing away from Yuuji with the same persistent scowl. "I'm going to sleep."

He's in a bad mood. Time to leave. Yuuji cleared his throat. "Then, uh, let's continue your curse control tomorrow. So, if you need me, call me-"

A hand grasped his wrist, halting him. Gojo spoke. "Who said you could leave?"

"Huh?"

"You're sleeping here with me."

Golden eyes blinked. "Huh?"

~呪術廻戦~

The first sensation Yuuji felt as he seeped into consciousness was that his body had been through a grinder. Every muscle and bone was persistently sore. He was moving, though not by his own power. The sensation of being carried filtered through the fog of his awareness. There was a rhythm to it, a steady bounce that made him feel almost weightless.

Dark blue was the first color that invaded his eyes as the haze cleared. His skin prickled with cold as he noticed the night air brushing against his neck, but the warmth of the body holding him provided a stark contrast, a slight sense of comfort. Then came the scent—the earthy aroma of the forest and the sophisticated fragrance of the clothes he clutched. His eyelids fluttered, and the world around him transformed into a ghostly landscape bathed in the silver glow of the full moon. Despite the strange scenery, the first word that spilled out of Yuuji's mouth was—

"Sensei?"

"Ah, you're awake," a deep, velvety voice, full of relief and amusem*nt, drifted into his mind. "Yuuji-kun."

Golden eyes blinked, taking in the voice that called his name. The syllables pronounced by that voice wrapped around him like a comforting blanket.

"I was getting a little worried there, ya know? I thought you’d sleep until the next day!" The voice—Sensei—continued his tone light as a feather and gentle like the moonlight caressing Yuuji’s cheeks.

Golden eyes shifted, glimpsing toward the side, where he realized there were stairs below them. He asked, "Where's—"

"They’re okay," the teacher interrupted, the tone gentle but firm. "Thanks to you holding out. The second years managed to bring them back safely, and they are currently in the infirmary resting."

"And the Curse...?"

"I took care of it, of course!" Yuuji sensed a smugness in the tone; whether it was because the teacher (are we role-playing as Sorcerers again?) was strong or simply arrogant, Yuuji didn’t know. "It was a piece of cake."

"As expected of Sensei." Somehow, his voice does. "So strong..."

It wasn’t long before he felt his grip tighten around his teacher’s neck. Feeling the smooth texture of the fabric beneath his fingertips and the steady pulse of light against his palm, Yuuji snuggled closer, burying his nose in his teacher’s collar, prompting the teacher to speak.

"Yuuji-kun?"

There it was again, the way this teacher called his name. It was unfamiliar yet had a comforting cadence to it. No, that wasn’t right. It wasn’t just a calling but more of an invitation, a promise of safety and familiarity, telling him that it was okay to speak freely to this sole teacher—to share his burdens, worries, and weaknesses. Maybe because of that, Yuuji found his voice continuing again. "I'm sorry for troubling you."

His voice muffled under the velvety jacket, but the hum from his teacher let him know he had heard, prompting Yuuji to continue. "I know you just got back from your overseas mission, and you must be tired, so..."

His words drifted off as an unsettling tightness wormed in Yuuji’s chest, one he did not recognize. Nevertheless, the teacher seemed to catch his meaning and gave a carefree chuckle. "You're no trouble at all. You did your best, and that’s all I can ever ask of you. Besides, I am the strongest; those side hustles meant nothing."

"But I want to do better," Yuuji found himself saying. "I want to be like you, Sensei."

Moonlight wove through the leaves, casting intricate patterns that seemed to shift and dance with them, a silent witness to their conversation. Yuuji could feel the steady rhythm of his teacher's steps and the gentle sway of the world around him. It was calming, a reminder that they were moving forward and that he was still here.

....?

"And you will," his teacher reassured him. "You will become stronger. But just remember this, Yuuji-kun."

Yuuji noted once more how his teacher called his name. Each time, it stirred something foreign and intimate in his heart—a confusing, bittersweet sensation.

"Don't try to be like me."

The words reached Yuuji's ears with a delicate sound, like fragile glass teetering on the edge of shattering, yet they held a depth that resonated in the hollow chambers of his heart. It was a voice that knew loss, had danced with despair, and emerged scarred and weary.

"Why?" His voice was a murmur, so soft and cautious that even the wind could blow it away. Regardless, his teacher was there to catch it.

"Because being up there is pretty lonely."

Regret threaded through the tone, an undercurrent tugging at the edges of his teacher's unresolved feelings. It was as if the voice carried the burden of past mistakes, missed opportunities, and moments lost to time. There was a heaviness, a sense of carrying the weight of a broken heart that had tried and failed to mend itself over and over again.

A new sensation gnawed at the edges of Yuuji's heart, something unfamiliar and disconcerting—a throbbing ache that seemed to emanate from within as he heard his teacher's words.

What is this?

"Then," his mouth moved once more, a temporary distraction from the sensation his soul was feeling, "do you still feel lonely now?"

There was a brief pause before the teacher answered, "Nah, in fact, I think it might just get a little livelier now that I have you and the others under my belt. You three, out of all the second years, are the most handful. I got to keep my eyes on you guys."

Safe, his body reminded him. Trust, his mind called for it. But his soul was confused.

"Alright," his voice declared, though he wasn't entirely sure what he was declaring. "I take it back, I won't be like you then, Sensei. Instead—"

"Wha—Yuuji-kun!" A gasp of surprise slipped from the teacher's lips, his composure cracking. "Are you trying to break your Sensei's heart? You can't take back your desire to become GLG!"

"—I'll be there for you."

"Huh?" The teacher paused, his voice reflecting bafflement at Yuuji's declaration.

"That way, you won't ever feel lonely, Sensei!"

"Be there...for me?"

"Yeah," Yuuji nodded, and just as quickly as the words were spoken, the honesty in his voice sang. "I mean, of course, I may be weak right now, but in the future, when I get stronger, strong enough that when Sensei is ever in trouble, then at that time, I'll be there for you! You can count on it, Sensei!"

The declaration lingered in the air, a poignant echo that broke the silence with its weight. The teacher's soft chuckle followed, a sound as gentle as a breeze stirring the night. He adjusted his hold to ensure Yuuji was secure before continuing up the stairs. "Well, well, well," he chirped, his steps light. "Aren't you a good kid? If only the others were just as good and honest as you."

"But," his teacher began, "that's no good, Yuuji-kun."

Golden eyes blinked in confusion. "Why?"

"Because, while it's good to want to become strong, don't do it for me. Do it for yourself." The teacher's voice was earnest. "Do it so that when you become strong, you won't lose to anyone—not to Sukuna, not to the higher-ups, not even to me."

Yuuji didn't fully understand his teacher's words, but he felt the sincerity behind them. It was so profound that it touched a part of him he hadn't realized was vulnerable.

"And so, when that time comes, when you can protect yourself, then, whenever I'm in trouble, save me, help me," his teacher continued. "That way, I won't have to worry, and you can keep making my life livelier as you have now, Yuuji-kun."

Ah, Yuuji thought, internally realizing the honesty in his teacher's words—the pure, unfiltered truth that came from his heart. No pretense, no hidden agenda—just a raw, heartfelt declaration of gratitude and selflessness that made Yuuji see the kindness and warmth in this person.

"Alright." Yuuji didn't know whether it was his mouth or his own voice that finally spoke the promise; he couldn't care less. But what he did care about at this singular moment was—

"Then when I become stronger, I'll definitely make you happy so that you won't ever feel lonely again, Sensei!"

—his vow to him.

"Wha?" His teacher chuckled. "What a confession, how passionate. When did you become a smooth talker, hm?"

As they continued their ascent, the banter shifted into comfortable chit-chat (something about humans and worms?), each step bringing them closer upwards. Yuuji could feel the heat radiating from his teacher's body, a stark contrast to the chill of the night. It wasn't just physical warmth but the warmth of care, unwavering support, and protection. He nuzzled closer, the scent of his teacher—faintly of sweat and the outdoors—filling his senses with a singular thought.

He's warm.

Yuuji woke up slowly, the remnants of his dream clinging to his mind like wisps of smoke. In the dream, he had been enveloped in a comforting warmth, a vivid sensation that lingered even as he stirred into wakefulness. His body felt heavy with contentment, a rare feeling that made him reluctant to open his eyes fully.

As the haze of sleep cleared, Yuuji became aware of the solid, warm presence beside him. His arms were wrapped tightly around something—or rather, someone. Blinking away the last vestiges of his dream, Yuuji looked up and realized he was hugging Gojo's waist. The realization sent a jolt through him.

This is why I insisted on taking the left side... Yuuji begrudgingly noted that this outcome was definitely foreseen but failed to prevent after Gojo's adamant stubbornness. He mentally groaned before peering up at Gojo, whose face was serene in his sleep, features softened in the early morning light filtering through the curtains. A soft smile graced Yuuji's lips as he watched him. The warmth from his dream made sense now; it wasn't some abstract sensation, but the tangible heat of Gojo's body pressed close to his. And maybe because of the feeling and lingering dreams of sensation, Yuuji could not help but want to press closer, to feel the warmth beneath his fingertips.

And so, he snuggled closer, pressing his face against Gojo's chest. The scent—a mixture of familiar soap and the faint musk of sleep—was soothing. He murmured, "How warm."

This, he thought as his golden eyes closed again, savoring the heat, the closeness, and the touch of another before him. He sighed in contentment. Can be dangerous.

Omake:

No bonus scenes for this chapter!

Jujutsu Kaisen: The Promise Bonds - Chapter 23 - DerbyDevil - 呪術廻戦 (2024)

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Geoffrey Lueilwitz

Last Updated:

Views: 5668

Rating: 5 / 5 (60 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Geoffrey Lueilwitz

Birthday: 1997-03-23

Address: 74183 Thomas Course, Port Micheal, OK 55446-1529

Phone: +13408645881558

Job: Global Representative

Hobby: Sailing, Vehicle restoration, Rowing, Ghost hunting, Scrapbooking, Rugby, Board sports

Introduction: My name is Geoffrey Lueilwitz, I am a zealous, encouraging, sparkling, enchanting, graceful, faithful, nice person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.