You could hear a pin drop in the hall. It was dead silent, tense, the same kind of tense you found in a hospital hallway, when someone was waiting for news of either life or death.
Maki was a statue in her seat, hands clasped under her chin, a spear balancing on her thighs. Inumaki was beside her, clutching Panda’s fur like he did whenever he was nervous. His right knee was bouncing, and you could see him nibbling on the edge of his high collar. Panda was patting his shoulder.
The first years were on the other side, facing them. Even Itadori was uncharacteristically broody, like he was channeling his inner Fushiguro, yet it was offset by the way his cheeks were squished against his palms, his lips squeezed into a, frankly adorable, little pout. Kugisaki held a similar stance. Twins separated at birth, you thought shrewdly. Fushiguro was standing beside them, hands in his pockets, and he was even nibbling slightly at his lower lip.
The most surprising of them all, however, was a silent, serious Gojo Satoru, somber as a funeral. He stood right in front of you, head bowed like you were about to tell him he had cancer. He had never stood so close to you before.
You were scared stiff yourself, clutching a pink sticky note in your hand. It had a few dark spots from where your sweaty fingers gripped it.
Slowly, ever so slowly, you turned it up, squinting in trepidation at what was written. For the umpteenth time, you regretted your previous martyrdom, insisting that i’ll open the damn memo, you cowards.
Your eyes widened, ever so slightly, but your borderline omniscient colleague caught on, leaning ever so slightly closer to you. Entranced, barely breathing, all the students leaned forward too.
You inhaled, and not trusting yourself to speak, you gave a short, stiff nod.
The effect was instantaneous. Everyone seated shot up, hands in the air. Fushiguro raised his eyebrows. Vaguely, you saw Panda throw Inumaki over his shoulder and bounce him around. Gojo threw his arms up and whooped the loudest.
The students chanted, delighted voices ringing across the mostly empty grounds.
“Beach day! Beach day! Beach day! Beach day beach day beach day! ”
You smiled, and joined in on the cheer.
Beach day it was.
“This is gonna be the best beach day ever,” Yuuji exclaimed excitedly, marching ahead with a gigantic umbrella in one hand, three full picnic baskets in the other. The others stared at him, a silent chorus of riiight.
Well, there’s no helping it then, you thought to yourself. The sun was bright, the sand was warm, and your bikini was riding up your ass. You followed the pink head of hair bobbing through the crowds, face set like you were going to war.
This is gonna be the best beach day ever, Yuuji-kun, or so God help me.
The rest of your little group followed, but you stopped when you noticed one lagging back, paws twisting nervously.
Panda was the most hesitant to join the little beach excursion, seeing as he was not exactly incognito. You recalled how everyone’s faces had dropped slightly, when you all looked at Panda and realized he would not be able to come.
Luckily, you and Gojo had come up with a solution, a veil made from the same cursed material of Maki’s glasses, albeit a little different. It worked to distort Panda’s image from non-sorcerers, and as you resolutely dragged Panda by one giant paw, it seemed to be serving its purpose. Even the most reckless kids seemed to swerve away from him, eyes unfocused, before going about their way as if nothing had happened.
The only downside was that the veil took form in a ridiculously huge beach bonnet. Powder blue, with little daisies embroidered in the white lace that fell around Panda’s face. Nobara had laughed for a solid five minutes, while Yuuji took a little over twenty photos.
“Rockin’ that hat, Panda,” you said, smiling reassuringly at him. Panda was leery around humans that weren’t his classmates or teachers, so he was grateful for the wide berth everyone was giving him. You wondered what people saw instead of the giant bear. Maybe a giant flock of seagulls. Maybe nothing.
Yuuji, an unstoppable force of nature, had already picked a spot to camp out. It was close to the edge of the beach, near where the shore was cut through by a few rocky cliffs that offered a bit of privacy on one side. He had already planted the huge beach umbrella into the sand, and was already sprinting back to the cab to help Ijichi unload. Fushiguro strolled at a more sedate pace behind him.
Ijichi was another person that had taken a bit of persuasion. It took almost an hour of you pleading and begging and rambling about how this is work too you know before you wheedled out a yes.
You were the one that convinced him, you thought petulantly. Definitely not Gojo, who only had to utter one sentence for Ijichi to almost pee his pants.
Now here he was, walking towards everyone, side by side with Yuuji as he hauled the last of the luggage. It was strange to see him out of his worn work clothes, wearing a casual Hawaiian shirt, some khaki shorts, and…
And sandals. Dad sandals. Leather straps and buckles, the whole shebang.
It had taken both you and Fushiguro to slap a hand over Kugisaki’s mouth and shove her into her seat, stopping the well-deserved what are thoooose?
His sandals, Nobara-chan, you thought grimly as you watched the fashion offender approach. Those are his sandals.
Luckily, nobody paid much mind to Ijichi’s questionable choices, not with a certain Itadori Yuuji bounding alongside him, doing the heavy lifting, shining like the sun itself. A gaggle of college-age girls had started giggling and whispering, pointing at clueless Yuuji who was built like a damn wrestler at the age of fifteen. He noticed the stares, and grinned and bowed politely. Even Fushiguro was ogled. You suppose the tall, dark and handsome trope was still well-received among the youth, even when he inclined his head, standoffish and almost dismissive.
Cue the squealing and giggling and a few phones not-so-discreetly snapping photos.
It made you smile, at least. It was a beautiful day, and the beaches were full of people enjoying themselves. It almost derailed the nerves fluttering into your stomach.
What if something goes wrong? What if we get called in to work? What if we get into an acident? What if seomeone drags a curse into here and—
You shook your thoughts away. You knew they were shared among the group. You could see it in the way Maki’s eyes flitted suspiciously among the crowds, the way Panda drew his veil around his neck. Ijichi was obsessively checking his phone.
It made you sad. You were supposed to just have fun, not worry about having fun. Look at Maki, you thought sadly, who brings a hunting knife to a beach trip?
Oh, well. Perpetual anxiety came with the job description. You flapped a picnic blanket the size of a damn basketball court on the sand, with Inumaki and Panda placing rocks on the corners to hold it down. Once it was flat on the sand, Kugisaki put down her own parasol (it was lace, and matched her bikini, of course) and helped you organize the multitude of picnic baskets that Yuuji had set down before setting up a volleyball net, immediately tossing a ball back and forth with Fushiguro.
At this point you wouldn’t be surprised if Yuuji finished building a beach house before sunset.
Inumaki was sweet enough to ask, a plaintive tuna tuna muffled behind his collar.
“Go,” you said, “Take Panda too, drag him by the legs if you have to.”
And soon enough, the two were climbing over the rocks, poking and prodding at whatever plant managed to grow there. Before long they were halfway up the damn cliff, waving below, Inumaki’s shake faint over the ambience. Panda looked a little more relaxed, even tying his bonnet in a messy little knot.
Just as you managed to put some semblance of order into your little camp with Ijichi’s help, Yuuji was finished with his volleyball, jumping around Fushiguro who looked like he wanted to be anywhere else but here.
“Just gotta wait for Gojo-sensei so we can even out the teams, especially with Maki-san playing we need—” Their conversation drifted off to you. Frowning, you realized your colleague was late. Sure, Gojo would be late to his own funeral, but he was the most excited about this trip, even more so than his students. He probably regressed to the age of eight overnight with excitement.
A petty voice deep in your head hoped he would never come at all. The truce between you two was shaky, if it even existed. Gojo just rubbed you the wrong way, always up in your personal space, his little jokes offensive at their best and downright mean at their worst. It didn’t help that he scared you a little, on the battlefield, when he would let you see a glimpse of how unhinged he really was.
You shuddered despite the heat. Simply put, you disliked both sides of the coin that was Gojo Satoru.
Ijichi sat down beside you, a weary smile on his face. “Quite the character isn’t he?”
You tried to keep your thoughts out of your face. “Who, Yuuji?”
“You know who,” Ijichi sighed. “But he is a good man, you know, he’s just… different.”
Different wasn’t the word you would have used. Different wasn’t exactly how you would describe someone so immensely powerful, a god that had forced himself to the mundane mold of a teacher. It was like plucking an archangel out of heaven and turning him into an accountant.
You chuckled at Ijichi. “Yeah, he’s different alright." Annoyance turned down a corner of your lips, despite yourself. “He’s also half an hour late.”
Ijichi laughed too. “No surprise there, he probably got held up or something, you know how it is.” He turned aside to shoo away a few seagulls that had started pecking at the baskets.
You’re a good man too, Ijichi, you mused as the man waved his hands around. This was why you had been so adamant about him tagging along. With all the shit this man had to put up with on a daily basis, he deserved to feel some sunshine and splash in the sea for a day. Gojo probably sucked the life out of this poor man like an oversized, color-inverted leech.
You wished you could say it out loud, but the truth was, life as a sorcerer could give someone tunnel vision. It was easy to forget real life when you were out there battling monsters that came straight from humanity’s worst nightmares. Sure, people like Gojo and the two mysterious Zen’ins in front of you got all the fame and the notoriety, but it was people like Ijichi you would be eternally grateful for. They were the ones that drove you places and prayed for you to come back so he could drive you all home. The ones who handled desk work and provided support. The ones that worked a thankless job, the unseen foundations of the jujutsu world.
The ones who took care of the sorcerers when the sorcerers were too busy taking care of the world.
Ijichi had won his fight with the seagulls, bringing you back a soda. You popped it open with a thanks, and you sat in companionable silence. Maki was applying sunscreen to Kugisaki’s back. Not that you were counting, but you were pretty sure this was the second application in barely an hour.
But then again, this was Kugisaki, twelve-step skincare routine, always ready for a photoshoot Kugisaki. She was positively glowing today, wearing a cheeky little knitted two-piece that made even Fushiguro blush and stammer out a you look nice. Yuuji, of course, complimented her over and over, making comments on the stitching, clapping his hands while she twirled in the sand. Maki smirked behind her, in a very Maki-like killer black one-piece with a zipper in the middle.
You started reapplying your own sunscreen, not far behind Kugisaki’s obsession with SPF. Melanoma? Mela-no-ma’am. Fushiguro and Yuuji walked up to you, Yuuji already soaking wet, in a pair of pink trunks that matched his hair. Fushiguro was, as expected, in all black. To your surprise his demon dogs were summoned, dripping and panting. You picked out pieces of seaweed in their fur as the dogs licked at you.
“Yuuji needed playmates,” he explained, grabbing his own soda and sitting cross-legged in the shade.
“Yo, sensei. Hey, Ijichi,” Yuuji called out, sitting in the sand to keep the blanket dry. “Man, this is nice. You should get in, the water is uh-mazing .”
It was nice, you admitted. The anxiety you had had settled down, a small, unpleasant pebble sitting in the back of your mind. Maybe this was gonna be the perfect beach day of your and Yuuji’s dreams.
Yuuji grabbed his phone. “Is Gojo-sensei coming?”
And just like that, you had to fight a sour expression that threatened to show on your face. The last thing you wanted to do was upset Yuuji, who had started taking selfies with… everything. The sand, the dogs, Fushiguro. He even pulled you and Ijichi to him, and you grinned at the camera, Ijichi too startled to manage more than a weak smile.
You chuckled as Kugisaki noticed the camera, and pushed her way between all of you, wanting in on the selfies. Even Maki joined in, sticking two fingers behind Fushiguro’s head.
Panda and Inumaki, seeing all the commotion, hurried down. Inumaki flopped down on top of the dogs, arms flailing. Panda jogged after him, gathering everyone in his furry arms as Yuuji shifted to the front to accommodate everyone.
For a long minute, that was all your little group did, pose and smile for an endless array of selfies. When all of your faces were sore from smiling so much, Yuuji busied himself with sending the photos to everyone.
Meanwhile, Inumaki and Panda were rambling excitedly.
“A great diving spot, just a short climb up—”
“Shake shake, tuna—”
‘We found a route where the rocks are super smooth and easy to walk over—”
“A diving spot? Holy shit, that sounds great. Sensei, can we—” That was Yuuji, turning to you.
You smiled at him. “Not without me, you’re not.” You wondered for a bit if that was irresponsible as a teacher, letting your students fling themselves off cliffs, near-death experiences for fun—
“We should wait a little for the tide to come in,” Fushiguro reasoned out.
“Yeah,” chimed Kugisaki, "Maybe wait a little for the sun to come down, I wanna jump too!”
“In an hour, perhaps,” Ijichi interjected. “That should be enough.”
You hummed in agreement, and decided an hour should be good for a short nap in the sun.
“If any of you get hungry, just help yourselves,” you said. “We’ll fire up the barbeque later for lunch.” With that said you closed your eyes behind your shades, drifting off to the sound of chatter.
Just as you were falling asleep, Yuuji gave an excited shout.
Your eyes snapped open, heart sinking despite yourself.
“Oh— Nanamin! Nanamin is here too! Over here!” Yuuji was beside himself, almost knocking over the umbrella as he waved his arms wildly.
The surprise was enough to snap you out of your misery. Nanami? Here? Taking a deep breath, you looked over.
Nanami strode down the beach, wearing a fitted black muscle shirt and light yellow trunks. His blonde hair was free from the usual combed-back style, waving around his face and flapping in the breeze. He was holding what you had identified to be pizza boxes. He looked as severe as usual, of course, but his eyes were soft as he pushed his sunglasses up to his hair. He looked dashing, but somehow, to you, he paled in comparison to the taller man walking beside him.
It was Gojo, looking like, like—
Like Gojo. He looked like Gojo. He had traded his blindfold for a pair of aviator sunglasses, and was smirking as he strutted down the beach, looking like he had stepped off the cover of Vogue. His white shirt was already open, the fabric so sheer you wondered why he was even wearing it, his abs rippling as he walked down towards you. His shorts, as blue as his eyes, hung low on his hips and ended halfway down his thighs. His white hair, messier than ever, glowed in the sun. Hell, he glowed in the sun, eyes finding yours as he peeked over the top of his sunglasses.
“Don’t forget to breathe,” you heard Ijichi whisper teasingly beside you.
You huffed out the breath you didn’t realize you were holding, glaring at Ijichi. He laughed, like he was in on a joke, and looked at you with a knowing look in his eyes.
You rolled your eyes at him, but ultimately you were drawn back to the two devastatingly handsome men who were giving the beach a collective heart attack.
You weren’t even exaggerating. Men, women, and children had stopped in their tracks to gawk at Nanami and Gojo. Eyes lingered on Nanami’s bulging biceps, holding up the stack of pizza. Even more eyes lingered on Gojo’s exposed midriff, and phones were being pulled out of pockets, their owners not even trying to hide it anymore.
Nanami ignored them, of course, as Nanami would, only gracing stiff nods to whoever he happened to make eye contact with.
And Gojo soaked it all up, as Gojo would. He smirked right at whatever camera he happened to look at. He pulled down his glasses and winked at the same group of girls that had squealed over Yuuji and Fushiguro, and you were positive at least two of them fainted.
A stab of annoyance went through you, pulling you out of whatever starstruck daze you had fallen into. He’s not even that good looking. Rolling your eyes, you flopped back down on your stomach, closing your eyes even as you heard footsteps approach your spot.
“Ah, Yuuji-kun!” Gojo exclaimed as the boy tackled him in a bear hug. Gojo affectionately ruffled the boy’s hair as he bumped fists with Ijichi, Panda and Inumaki.
He grabbed Fushiguro, who was trying to slink away from him, and shook him by the shoulder. “Megumi, look at you, getting some sun. I thought emos were allergic to the beach or somethin’.” He patted Megumi roughly on the back as the boy finally escaped his mentor’s grip, scowling.
Then he went silent, and your heart gave a nasty lurch again. The only thing you hated more than Gojo’s voice was his silence, especially when said silence was directed at you.
The students crowded around Nanami’s pizza, and Ijichi went to strike up a conversation with the man, leaving you alone.
You inhaled, exhaled, wishing with all your heart that the sand would just swallow you up. Of course, you weren’t so lucky, so you raised your head and looked at Gojo straight in the eye.
He towered over where you were laying face down on the blanket. He had a smile on his face, but his eyes were hard and cold.
That was the thing that made you so bitter around him. He annoyed you, he annoyed everyone, but it was always so… venomous around you. Like you had personally wronged him. Not that you seeked out his approval, but it would have been nice to be able to coexist with him without feeling like your very presence was an offense.
You matched him with a heated glare of your own, refusing to back down. Gojo thought he could bully anyone he wanted just because he was him, but you had always resisted him, demanding respect for yourself and for others, especially people like Ijichi.
Gojo scoffed at you. He felt like your glare would light him on fire. He never really liked you either. You irritated him, got under his skin, and he always felt like a rat had clawed its way into his chest when he looked at you. The rat was scrabbling around inside him now, as you looked at him in your usual disgust.
You looked at him the same way those snobby higher-ups did, like he was something stuck on the bottom of your shoe. And just like those idiots, he knew you were scared of him, just a bit. He hated that even more, hated how you treated him like a ticking time bomb who would explode any second, a rabid dog that would lash out and turn on you at a moment’s notice.
It was the kind of appraisal that followed him around the jujutsu world, that filled the room even before he stepped inside it, rumors clinging to him front and back. You were a reminder of his real standing in life. Outside the battlefield, you hate him. Within it, you fear him.
He gritted his teeth. Simply put, he hated both sides of the coin that was you.
He looked away first, refusing to let you ruin his day. You already affected him enough, you with your venomous glare, acting like you were better than him, laid out like that in pretty white bikini that left just enough to his imagination—
“Oh, we should take more photos now that you guys are here,” Yuuji mumbled around pepperoni pizza. “Hey, everyone, round two of selfies with Gojo-sensei and Nanamin!”
You got up at that, eager for photos. You also wanted to talk to Nanami, whose appearance was a pleasant surprise. You slotted yourself in between Kugisaki and Maki, trying to ignore the man that had to stand behind you due to his ridiculous height. You threw an arm over the girls, and they eagerly pressed into you, smiling wide.
Your irritation at Gojo’s presence was fading now, as Yuuji gushed over his beloved photos. You wondered about that. You’d have thought it was Kugisaki who would be obsessed with taking selfies, but somehow it was Yuuji that took photos of everything. Weird, because you would expect Yuuji to be that one kid who hated staying still in front of a camera.
Yet here he was, clicking away, deep in thought, staring at his screen like the messy, unfiltered selfies were precious works of art.
Chill out, Yuuji-kun, you mused, it’s just a couple of selfies.
Yuuji tucked his phone away like he heard you, back to his usual smiling self.
Nanami was firing up the grill with Ijichi. You walked towards them, grabbing a cooler full of raw meat. Ever the gentleman, Nanami hurried to take it from you, ignoring your protests.
You moved to help Ijichi set up a folding table, setting a very clever portable sink up on it. You laid out sauces and cutlery and a huge bowl of salad, just as the first sizzles of hamburgers on the grill punctuated the air.
“So, Nanami, it’s really nice to see you here.” It was true. Nanami was another sorcerer you knew that deserved to stretch his legs. You would have invited him yourself, but he wasn’t a teacher, therefore out of your jurisdiction. But you enjoyed his company all the same, and held him in high regard. The man claiming to despise sorcerers went back into this world, risking death once more, all to live a life of gratitude. You had heard that it was his lifelong dream to kick back somewhere in Malaysia, enjoying a laid-back retirement. His strange ambition both amused you and made you sad. Sorcerers only ever retired when they were dead.
He smiled at you, the clicking of his tongs jolting you out of your morbid thoughts. “My apologies for the sudden appearance.”
You shook your head. “What? No, I’m so glad you’re here! I just— didn’t expect you to so willingly join this chaos.” You gestured around you. Sure enough, the blanket was filled with sand and seaweed, Inumaki and Panda were wrestling in the sand, and Nobara was being carried off by Yuuji, cussing enough to make a sailor blush, only to be thrown into the water. You watched her emerge, murder in her eyes, only to be pulled back under by a wave.
Nanami chuckled. “I see what you mean, and it’s fine. I’m used to much worse. Besides,” he paused, giving you a sidelong glance. “Gojo was very convincing.”
You bristled at that. “Oh, god, what did he say to you? He practically threatened Ijichi, and now you—”
You stopped as Nanami looked at you once more, a weird, quizzical look in his eyes, like you were missing out on something obvious. Then his eyes softened, and he shared a glance with Ijichi. There it was again, the same look Ijichi gave you earlier, leaving you out of the loop.
“Trust me,” he murmured to you, sliding the first batch of hamburgers onto a plate. “He didn’t threaten me at all.”
“He better not,” you muttered back, eyes drifting once again to the object of your irritation. He was ruffling Fushiguro’s hair, pointing out to sea, and you couldn’t hear what he was saying over the breeze. His shirt was soaking wet, clinging to him like a second skin.
Whore, you thought to yourself, thinking back to his celebrity entrance.
Speaking of the cliff, the tide was coming in nicely, waves rolling higher up the shore. It seems like the idea of cliff-diving had left the students for a short while, as they drifted to the smell of hamburgers and bacon and hotdogs. Neatly wrapped onigiri, chilled fruits, and sushi were laid down on the table, next to two huge plates of tempura and spring rolls. The sun was high in the sky when the food was finally ready, and a chorus of itadakimasu! rang out as everyone dug in.
You spooned salad into your plate, accepting a hamburger that Yuuji threw together. The kid had stationed himself by the grill, working his magic on the sauces and the toppings. Your heart melted a little, seeing him work, happy as a clam.
You found a seat next to Inumaki, who greeted you with a quiet tuna as he, fittingly, munched on an onigiri. You leaned back on Panda, grateful for the fluffiness, and began to eat. Soon enough, you were joined by Fushiguro and Maki, a still-wet Kugisaki in tow. For a while, everyone was quiet, scarfing down the food. Yuuji finally took a plate for himself, the last one to leave the grill, and sat down on Panda’s other side.
You wondered if it would be inappropriate for you to sit with the kids instead of your colleagues. True, you were barely out of school yourself, and you were closer to a third-year in age rather than the teachers. Besides, you reasoned out, they didn't mind, seeing as Yuuji and Kugisaki were dead set on a competition of who could eat the most and the messiest.
That was definitely the reason, you thought, that you were perfectly happy to sit among them. It was certainly not because you were determined to stay as far away as possible from the white-haired man across you. He went dessert first, hamburgers abandoned on his plate as he bit into a frozen mochi. Filled with berry paste, you observed.
Not that you cared.
Before long, everyone had dumped their empty plates onto the table, now holding an assortment of fruit slices, ice cream, and frozen pastries, Yuuji jumped up excitedly.
“Think the tide’s high enough?”
“Tide’s high enough for what?” Gojo intersected.
“Oh, right, Gojo-sensei,” Yuuji started to explain. “Inumaki-senpai and Panda-senpai found a great diving spot, just over there,” he pointed. “We’re gonna go check it out.”
Kugisaki groaned, the winner, or loser if you really thought about it, of the who-can-eat-like-we’ve-been-starved competition. “‘M too full, Yuuji, and it’s still sooo hot.” She was slumped against Panda, and still, as you looked on in morbid fascination, had plenty of room for dessert.
“Oooh,” Gojo exclaimed. “Dangerous, I like it!”
Of course you do, you thought, rolling your eyes, too full and sleepy to check on the attitude.
Everyone looked at you.
Crap, did I say that out loud?
“I mean,” you corrected, eyes on the ground. “Sounds great, Yuuji-kun, but it’ll be best to wait. We just ate.”
Everyone murmured their agreement, and Yuuji shrugged, happy to oblige. A moment later he was headed to the beach, the demon dogs in tow and a bucket in hand. Inumaki and Panda were quick to follow with their own sandcastle paraphernalia. Maki and Kugisaki, with the latter fussing about whether she was bloated or not, went hunting for a restroom. Fushiguro decided to escort them, looking for a restroom as well.
This left you alone, once more, with the other adults.
Nanami and Ijichi were occupying the foldable chairs, and moved to stand as you approached, but you waved them off and laid a towel on the sand. You reapplied your sunscreen, sighing when you realized the other girls were too far away to do your back. Ijichi would probably have a heart attack if you asked him, and Nanami was, well, Nanami. He would probably slap you, or worse, agree.
You refused to even consider the third option, so you laid face down once more, waiting for the girls to come back. Melanoma it is, then.
You were drifting off again, already feeling the food you had packed down, when you felt someone kneel beside you. You stiffened, not daring to move, as you caught a whiff of berry paste and expensive cologne.
“Want me to do your back?” Gojo asked quietly. You were facing away from him, thankfully, as your eyes flew wide at his words. Your heart jumped to your throat, arms frozen where you had crossed them to cradle your head.
“If you don’t mind.” Your voice was steadier than you expected it would be, and you even managed to sound polite.
You heard the bottle crack open, but nothing could have prepared you for the cool hands that smoothed down your shoulders. You jumped slightly despite yourself.
“Relax,” Gojo said, affronted. “I don’t bite.”
You don’t? You bit your lip before your retort could make itself known. This was a good thing, you reassured yourself. You could work with this strange peace, if not friendship, and abandon whatever it was that repelled you from each other.
This is good, it’s all good, you chanted in your head, as his smooth palms ran down your back. His hands were cool on your sunkissed skin, and you tried to calm yourself before Infinity reacted to your nerves and activated between you.
His hands moved lower, and you held your breath. It’s good it’s good this is good. It’s not like you wanted to run into the shore and stick your head into Yuuji’s sandcastle. It’s not like his cologne was clouding your brain, sweet and warm in the humid air. It’s not like you were imagining his hands glowing purple once more, turning on you, ripping you apart while he laughed—
It’s good it’s good stop that this is all good.
His hands brushed the waistband of your bottoms, and for a moment you were certain the food was gonna make a reappearance, what with how your organs seemed to be jumping around inside you, your heart displaced to sit somewhere beside your uvula.
“All done,” he murmured again, and for a moment you almost felt guilty at the apologetic tone in his voice. Almost.
“Thank you,” you managed to choke out. You forced yourself to look at his face and smile.
All Gojo could manage was a nod and a half-hearted smirk. He stood up and unfolded another deck chair, ignoring Nanami and Ijichi’s loaded stares.
Only when he saw you close your eyes did he let out a long-suffering sigh.
Why the fuck did I do that?
He had seen you look around with a bottle of sunscreen in your hand, obviously looking for the girls. The girls who had happened to be browsing a souvenir shop and tormenting the flustered cashier who blushed such a bright red that it hurt to look at him.
He was just about to fall into his own nap when he heard you sighed in defeat, laying on your stomach, your un-sunscreened back exposed to the sun. Gojo had no need for sunscreen. He could stand on the sun itself and never change a shade. But you weren’t him, your skin exposed to the elements, smelling like the sun and your body wash, warm and soft and probably salty from sweat and the sea—
He stood up, startling Ijichi, and walked towards you. Without thinking, he had knelt down and blurted out the strangled offer.
He wondered if you noticed his hands shaking slightly as he rubbed sunscreen on your back, his fingers pressing into soft, lightly muscled flesh.
Of course she didn’t, he thought bitterly. You were too busy freaking out. You didn’t even look at him. He remembered how you froze, like a deer caught in headlights. How you almost jumped out your skin when he touched you. You were a mess below him, and he had to purposefully peel back Infinity from his palms as it reacted to whatever emotions were running inside you.
Now he was reduced to sulking in his seat. Satoru, you fucking dumbass . He had no idea why he even offered. He knew you were disgusted and afraid of him. You probably only ever saw blood when you looked at his hands. He remembered how you had to bodily force a smile out of your face, the tiny, unsure curve in your lips stabbing through his chest, worse than any glare you had thrown his way.
All he wanted was to help you put on sunscreen.
Whatever, he huffed. He stalked away, towards the crowds. You were out of his mind in an instant, as he sidled up to a pretty little thing sitting alone on a bar.
Or at least that’s what he thought, as he tried to ignore the smell of sunscreen on his hands.
Gojo walked away, a short while later, a new number in his phone. He had no idea what the girl’s name was, but oh well. She had bored him to tears, but he was looking forward to, ahem, seeing her again.
His hands still smelled like sunscreen.
You were roused by Kugisaki and Maki appearing, shopping bags in hand. Fushiguro was trailing behind them, and you chuckled as you saw him get held back by the same girls that had ogled him earlier.
Meanwhile, Yuuji, Inumaki and Panda were waving at you, and you stood up, stretching. You walked towards them, and managed to react appropriately as they showed you their sandcastle.
Sandcastle was a generous term. The moat was neat though, the trio had cleverly carved it out so it filled and emptied with the tide. You were the one taking photos this time, water weaving around your legs as they posed in front of their “sandcastle.”
Well, what they lacked in skillm they made up for with enthusiasm. They rambled on and on about this particular feat of architecture, and you couldn’t help smiling and giggling and clapping along like an idiot.
Your students were freaking adorable.
Then Yuuji pointed excitedly to the side. The tide had reached its peak, and the water just below the cliffs were a deep, steady blue.
“It’s time!” The excitement in his voice was infectious, and you felt a thrill run through you at the thought of hurtling down into the water. Maybe it was a sorcerer thing, natural-born thrillseekers, always looking for speed and heights and danger, anything for that sweet shot of adrenaline. Or maybe, you thought cynically, it came with being a little crazy. It was certainly a trait that ran in everyone, even Fushiguro, who was smiling softly with anticipation.
The four of you walked back towards the umbrella, and even Kugisaki and Maki were up and ready, huddled under Kugisaki’s parasol. Yuuji picked up a cooler full of drinks to bring up there, hopping up and down as if it weighed nothing. You noted, with a giggle, that Nanami and Ijichi were on their feet, Nanami’s book abandoned on his seat as he removed his watch.
Guess even fully-grown men couldn’t resist the thought of some beach stunts.
You couldn’t wait to go, and even the appearance of Gojo couldn’t dampen your mood. You noticed he was also holding a shopping bag, and it was hard to taper down the curiosity you felt. He was smiling as he slung an arm around a terrified Ijichi, looking like a cat that ate a canary.
A canary in a skimpy red tankini, you thought wryly. That white mop of hair was hard to lose in the crowds.
Not that you were looking for him.
“Let’s go, let’s go!” Yuuji was already jumping ahead, only second to Inumaki and Panda who were leading the way. You pretended not to see the white mop of hair that had materialized up top. Fushiguro had summoned his demon dogs to guard everyone’s stuff. You patted their furry heads gratefully as you passed them.
Surprisingly, the rocks were smooth and the climb was easy. Except for the one time you stepped on a loose rock, your flip flops sliding around as you teetered backwards.Thankfully, a hand clamped around your arm and pulled you upright. It was probably Nanami, who already had two saves under his belt with Fushiguro and Kugisaki.
You couldn’t turn around to check, because right then your head peeked over the top and you gasped.
It was one hell of a find. The cliff was pretty low to the ground now that you had climbed it, about a short fifteen meters from the beach. The rock was smooth on top, with patches of grass and white flowers along the cracks in the stone. A tree had somehow managed to grow in the rocks, much to Kugisaki’s relief, and everyone immediately flocked to its shade. You tried to ignore the sound of Gojo gloating to Fushiguro about that hottie over there, when I tell you she was all over me—
“Damn, Panda, Inumaki-kun. This is one hell of a place.” The two swelled with pride, and led everyone to the edge. The lip of the cliff jutted into the sea, carved out by years of waves. The view was incredible, the water practically calling out to you. The sheer drop was sending tingles down to the soles of your feat, sweat beading lightly on your palms.
“How deep do you guys think it is?” You asked.
“We forgot to check, huh?” Ijichi muttered. “You think we should—”
“Nah,” you cut him off, unable to wait any longer. “Only one way to find out, right?”
Nanami turned, a warning already on the tip of his tongue. But before he could speak, you dived.
Everyone yelled in alarm, reaching for you, but you were already falling, your arms outstretched below you.
I’m not a damn sorcerer for nothing, you gloated, whooping as you fell, your entire body cringing against the drop. You even managed to twist and flip, landing in the cold water feet first.
You cut through the water like a bullet, and you opened your eyes as your toes brushed soft sand. Holding your breath, an eons-old fear of the sea creeped up on you, and you found yourself weaving cursed energy through your fingers in preparation. Fear and the ocean were always bad news individually, and worse when they inevitably mixed together.
It was for naught, you soon realized. The water was empty, strands of sunlight shining through the surface, only soft hills of sand for about ten meters in every direction. A school of fish were swimming to the side, ignoring you.
No curses, no sharks, no danger. There was a reason why the ocean was so deeply cursed. It was only natural for humans to fear the one element they could never quite control. But the ocean was in good spirits today, safe and serene.
You sighed, bubbles forming around your head. You kicked leisurely to the surface, wondering how the hell you would travel back up to the—
You gasped, blinking your eyes. You were back in the open air, lying flat against warm stone, back on the cliff. Disoriented and shocked out of your mind, you flailed around, only to stop at the sight of Gojo’s face, inches away from yours, dripping wet. You don't remember him jumping after you. With a jolt you realized his glasses were off.
“What—” You spluttered. “How did I—”
“Are you alright? What is it down there?” Nanami interrupted you, and you realized his blade was out.
“What? Nothing, I—”
“Why did you activate your technique? It took you so long to come back up what the fuck—” That was Maki, hunting knife also at the ready
A lightbulb went on in your head, a quiet oh escaping you before you managed an explanation.
“No, you guys, this is just a misunderstanding—”
“Nothing there.” You were interrupted again, by the inexplicably wet Gojo beside you, his voice light and dismissive. “No cursed energy at all, at least no more than normal from so deep.” He paused, and spit out what could have passed as an apology. “Oops.”
It all clicked into place now. Gojo had spooked when your technique flared up and back down. You could only imagine how alarmed everyone must have been when he disappeared, only to come back with you.
You sat up, noting how everyone seemed to be raring to fight. Fushiguro’s hands were clasped together, and Yuuji’s fists were already dripping blue fire. Even Inumaki’s collar was unzipped.
“It’s good, you guys,” you cooed, still disoriented. You were floating in water one moment, and on dry land the next. “Nothing down there but fish and some corpses in a sack.” Everyone tensed again, and you snickered.
“Kidding, I’m kidding.” You turned your palms up, finding the situation weirdly funny, the adrenaline of the fall making you light-headed. Or maybe that was Gojo’s cologne, now mixed with salty seawater. You turned to him, reluctantly.
“Thanks, uh, for getting me out. Even if there was absolutely nothing down there.” You directed the last words at your students, who had finally begun to relax, laughing at themselves.
“No problem,” Gojo murmured at you, before getting up and shucking his soaked shirt. It would have been quite a sight to see him undressing, if only he hadn’t cackled like a witch and pointed at Kugisaki, who had instinctively grabbed a rock as a makeshift weapon. The words you look stupid had barely escaped his mouth before Kugisaki hurled it at him.
“Well, if all’s well and good…” Yuuji trailed off, handing you his phone, and you accepted it with a nod. You opened his camera just in time for him to take a running start and launch into a graceful backflip. You gasped and leaned over the edge to watch him disappear into the water, whooping happily. He emerged a second later, his delighted laugh floating all the way to you, boyish and extremely infectious. Very Yuuji of him.
“Come on, you guys! Water’s great!”
Kugisaki abandoned her attempts to murder Gojo, breaking into a sprint and spreading her arms wide in a swan dive, giggling and squealing girlishly as she fell. Fushiguro was quick to follow, copying your earlier dive, and even he couldn’t hold back an excited whoop of his own as he twisted to land feet first.
Panda was quick to call out a warning, holding on to his bonnet, and bounded off, a huge furry cannonball, making the biggest splash yet. You laughed at that, focusing the camera on tiny Kugisaki who was almost swept under by Panda’s landing.
Inumaki threw off his jacket, and clamping a hand over his mouth, jumped nimbly off the edge like a bird, throwing himself into the most elaborate series of flips yet, barely making a splash in the water when he landed, toes pointed and arms crossed like he was an Olympic diver in his past life. You were kneeling on the edge now, engrossed completely in your camera work, shouting compliments down courtesy of Inumaki’s exhibition.
Maki was the last to jump, a hurried fuck I hate heights hissing out of her mouth as she threw herself off, landing feet first into the water.
You laughed as the students pushed each other under the water, high off adrenaline. You stood up and watched the video save, walking towards the tree where the men were cracking open beers.
“Drinking on the job now, are we?” You teased.
“Oh, please,” Ijichi replied. “I’m more on the job in my sleep than right now.”
You laughed at that, suddenly remembering that you were the one who came up with this whole thing. The strangest thing was, you never expected the school to actually agree so quickly, first thing in the morning after you had sent in the request. You smirked as you recalled all the hands-on learning experience and camaraderie building bullshit you had to throw in.
The memory held a hint of exhaustion too. With the seal of approval from the Jujutsu Tech administration, you threw yourself into preparations. You had spent an entire night up making calls, rearranging assignments, pushing around schedules. You had planned the food, and cooked and bought most of it. You were a little embarrassed now that you think about all the time you had spent on a silly little outing, but then again, beach days were no joke.
Also, it was supposed to be a surprise. If only a certain someone, your co-chaperone, hadn’t blabbered his big mouth to the first-years exactly five minutes after you told him it was a secret.
You were probably expecting too much, anyway. You recalled the strange little pause Gojo had given you when you shoved the paper onto his desk, needing his signature. You would never admit it, but you were ready to beg him to agree, so when he had paused after he read your request, your heart had dropped to your knees.
You sighed, pushing away the memory of the tension in Gojo’s office a week before. It was all good now, he had signed it with no problem. You accepted the beer Nanami held out to you, and you all fell into easy conversation about the students’ progress, Ijichi chiming in occasionally, being the one to carry his Hemingway novel all the way up here..
Meanwhile, Gojo was dying inside.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. First the sunscreen. Next it was warping to catch you when you slipped on your way up. He supposed that was reasonable, you would have broken your neck otherwise. The paperwork would have taken forever.
A tiny, antagonistic voice that sounded a lot like Ijichi niggled in his mind. Nanamin was right behind her, you didn’t have to warp all the way down from the top and back again just to catch her.
Shut up, he retorted. It was reasonable, he wasn’t too much of an asshole to let you fall to your death. No, what was unreasonable was the way he had freaked out when your cursed energy flared up deep in the ocean, only to fizzle out almost immediately. He had barely taken a second to process it before he moved, on pure instinct, air, water, then air shifting to make space for him and you. It had taken him a good minute to catch, as he laid half on top of you on the cliff, his Six Eyes still searching for whatever it could have been that startled you.
There was nothing, of course. He already knew that, he would always know that, the moment he had stepped out of the car and onto the beach.
Then why the fuck ?
He suddenly had half a mind to warp out of here and into his own bed, far away from you and your white bikini. His newfound idiocy that started with that damn sunscreen was apparently planning to stay for a little longer.
He needed a distraction, and what better distraction than pissing off everyone in a fifty-mile radius?
He started with Nanamin, who was always good value.
“Nanamin,” he sang out, as your conversation lulled, you digging for another beer. “Do people with no feet wear shoes?”
Nanami ignored him.
“Nanamin,” he sang out again. “Nanamin, nanamin, nanamin nanamin nanaminnanaminnanamin do people with no feet wear sh—”
“No.” Nanami didn’t even look at him. Gojo hummed in satisfaction at the clipped tone. It was working.
He smiled sweetly at the expressionless blonde.
“Then why are you wearing a muscle shirt?”
Nanami’s jaw clenched. Gojo shot to his feet, clapping like a seal. Always good value indeed. Even Ijichi had to stifle a chuckle behind his book.
And to everyone’s surprise, most of all your own, you snorted, almost falling into the cooler. Gojo’s smile dropped at the sound, and his eyes met yours, whatever smile you had melting away.
Here we go again, you thought, anger rising up in you like vomit. Gojo’s face was cold and impenetrable again. It didn’t bother you, not in the slightest, when he looked at you like that.
No, what kept you up at night was the way he singled you out. He never looked like that at the students, at Nanami and Ijichi, not even at the sorcerers he didn’t know by name. No, he only ever looked at you like that, like you were overstepping some unseen border, like you were forgetting your place with him. Like you were something offensive and unwanted even when you knew you had earned your place as his colleague, by his side, just as much a sorcerer and a teacher as him.
You would have given everything to trade with Fushiguro, who had suffered Gojo’s presence for half his lifetime. Maybe with Nanami, who had probably lost ten years to being Gojo’s favorite comedic target. You would have traded with even Utahime, who was in danger of having an aneurysm every time Gojo and her were in the same zip code.
But no, you were never quite as blessed. It was always, always like this. It would come up and bite you at the smallest of catalysts, the unexpected nature of his hostility making it all the more severe. When you absentmindedly handed him napkins at dinner, when you would be the one unfortunate enough to deliver some papers to his desk. or like now, when you did nothing but laugh at his stupid fucking joke that wasn’t even fucking funny.
Angry tears pricked at your eyes, and the humiliation of seeing Ijichi avert his gaze, of seeing Nanami shoot a reprimanding glare at Gojo, cemented what you had always known to be true.
You hated Gojo, hated him for always cutting whatever olive branch you bothered to extend him. You hated him for making you feel so small and insignificant, hated him for making you feel unwanted and unloved, even by the students who you were sure loved you just as much as you loved them. You hated him and his face and his smooth hands that still smelled of your sunscreen.
You hated him because he hated you, when you never did anything wrong.
Your anger escaped you, not as vomit, but as hot, pointed words. Your fire to his ice. “What the fuck is your problem, Gojo?”
“Hey, now,” Ijichi tried, ever the pacifist. Such a damn pity you weren’t in the mood for a fucking mediator.
You grabbed Yuuji’s phone, hands steady, voice cold.
“Nanami, Ijichi.” Nanami looked at you, his face wisely set into a disinterested mask. Meanwhile, Ijichi seemed to wilt in his seat, fidgeting with his copy of The Old Man and The Sea. “Go on and take a dive, water’s great.”
Wisely, very wisely, they obeyed. Maybe it was the way your vision was tinged with red, but you could swear they smiled knowingly at each other before running and launching off the cliff, Ijichi curling into a simple cannonball, Nanami preferring a powerful backflip, looking like a god as he was suspended in the air. You switched off Yuuji’s camera, cutting off the sound of the students cheering for their elders. You set down the phone, trying not to hurl it at the man in front of you.
He was still staring at you, all traces of the Gojo that had talked shit about Nanami gone, leaving a statue carved from a glacier.
But your humiliation had opened a dam in you, and now there was a flood. Months of whatever this was was bursting out of you now, even as you tried to keep it away from what was supposed to be the best beach day ever, which was now ruined, all because of him.
Your voice shook. “What the fuck is your problem, Gojo? What the fuck did I ever do to you to deserve this? This, whatever this is?"
Gojo, immovable, strongest-sorcerer-in-the-world Gojo, just stared at you. His ice to your fire.
“Fuck you.” You managed, voice quivering, wiping away angry tears. “Fuck you, Gojo. I belong here just as much as you and Nanami and Ijichi. I belong here, and I am fucking sick of you making me feel like I don’t.”
You stalked closer to him, standing on your toes to look him in the eye.
“Hate me all you want, you smug son of a bitch. I’ll let you do that. But what I won’t let you do is act all high and mighty and step all over me and look at me like I’m some fucking dog shit stuck on your shoe.”
You were barely an inch away from him now, his nose almost touching yours. You dug a finger into his chest.
“You will act civil and respectful and polite around me, fucker, because the last thing I want is you interfering with my work and making the students uncomfortable, because that’s what you do. You make people uncomfortable and miserable and you ruined today like you ruin everything. ”
You were done. Fire to his ice, extinguishing until you were grey and dead. For a moment, you almost felt guilty about those last three words, but you swallowed it down. You were done being soft for him.
Besides, Gojo was still silent. You wondered if this was finally the day he would blast you to shreds and out of his hair.
Then he extended an arm, and forgetting yourself, you flinched away.
“There it is,” he muttered.
You tried to keep the confusion out of your face.
And he tried, again, slower this time, reaching out a hand to touch you..
Would he slap you? Would he press a finger into your forehead and short-circuit your brain?
His thumb pressed into your cheek, just under your eyes.
He was wiping your tears.
What the fuck?
Gojo couldn’t help but huff out what could have been a laugh. He saw it all over your face, and he agreed.
What the fuck was right. One moment he was struck dumb by the knowledge that he had made you laugh. Not at him, but because of him. The fucking ice queen that always looked down at him, waited for him to turn on her, always sighing dramatically when she was forced to even look at him, almost fell face-first into a damn cooler because she found him funny.
And now here he was, not even five minutes later, epiphany after epiphany hitting him like a herd of curses, the ice queen all heated and venomous and spitting in his face how much she hated him.
Crying in front of him.
Gojo had women all over him, all the damn time, and he had to admit that he loved it. He hated this though, when they would start getting all weepy, clinging to him, convinced that they could make him stay or change or love.
Gojo would always push them away when they started that shit. He liked his women beautiful and dumb and fast. Too dumb to understand what they were dealing with, and too fast to have the time to look closer and see that underneath the pretty face and the baby blues, he was nothing but a vessel for barely contained violence, half-insane with power, moving one step forward into the future just to be pulled back two steps into the past.
Broken goods. Rotten to the core, shallow as they come.
And he was alright with that, he was fantastic with that. He was a good teacher, a damn good lay, and the best sorcerer to ever be born. Money and sex and power. His life was a damn peach, and he loved his life.
Then you waltzed into Jujutsu Tech, claiming the office next to his, and made him want change. You exposed him and hated what you saw, that intelligence in your eyes looking right through the thickest of his blindfolds.
He wanted your approval. He wanted your trust. He wanted you to stop fucking flinching whenever he so much as breathed too loud near you.
And you made him start doing things. He had spent a good ten minutes this morning, deciding what to wear, for god’s sake. You made him show up at Nanami’s door, ready to grovel at his doorstep so the man would come with, knowing that you respected his underclassman much more than you would ever respect him.
And Nanami, analytical, all-knowing Nanami, had already ordered the pizza by the time Gojo rang the doorbell. Nanami knew what Gojo had wanted all along, with his sidelong glances and meaningful silences. Nanami had uttered exactly one sentence to Gojo as they drove to the beach.
“All those eyes, Gojo, and you still can’t see.”
Gojo had rolled his eyes so hard he feared they would be stuck forever. Alright then, he wasn’t aware he would be going to the beach with Mr. Blonde Confucius.
Even Ijichi, skittish, pale Ijichi, knew what was up, smiling at Gojo all day long, goading him silently to go talk to her, pussy. Fushiguro knew. Even Yuuji, dense as a rock, made it a point to announce Gojo’s presence around you. At this point, everyone knew. The Earth was round, the sky was blue, and Gojo Satoru had a big, fat crush on you.
Such a pity that you were just as emotionally constipated as him. It was always checkmate with you, he thought. When he thought he had done something right, it was wrong and you hated him for it. Whenever he thought he was over you and your insufferable judgment, he was hit once more with the compulsion to make you happy with him.
Like when you had marched into his office, looking like your life was in his hands. You held out an excursion request. For a beach trip, of all things. By the time Gojo finished reading it, he had wanted to do exactly three things: sign the paper, laugh in your face, and bend you over on his desk to fuck you until you were screaming his name.
Not necessarily in that order.
Even then, he was a fucking coward, saying nothing as he signed his name beside yours. He was a fucking coward, managing only a careless nod as you looked at him and spoke the softest words you had ever sent his way.
“I want this to be perfect, Gojo. I just really want to surprise the kids, let them have fun for a bit. They need it.”
It was all downhill from there. Of course, he went and told the first-years, reasoning that Yuuji would have wanted to make food for the trip, and that Kugisaki would skin him alive if he didn’t give her a forewarning to go shopping. Also, his Megumi hated surprises. He did what he thought was best.
Imagine how absolutely ecstatic he felt when you had shoved open his door, that look on your face.
“What if Yaga says no, what the fuck would you do then? You’ve set them up for nothing but disappointment, Gojo. ”
“Oops,” he had smirked, as you left, looking downright tormented that you would let the kids down.
He went to sleep that night convinced that he didn’t care about your stupid, hopeless beach trip and your stupid disappointment.
The next morning, he was walking out of Yaga’s door, his wallet fifteen million yen lighter, pink sticky note in hand.
Coward coward coward you’re a huge stinking coward, Satoru.
He wished he was as sweet as Yuuji. He would take even Nanami’s silences, graceful and wise. Anything but the lump in his throat as he choked up in front of you like he didn't change women as often ashe changed clothes.
When you were Gojo Satoru, you had no need for words. People listened to you, looked to you, feared you. Gojo liked that about himself. Hell, he was half in love with himself, and he knew it, had no shame about it. He was fucking great. But sometimes, maybe once every six months, Gojo Satoru really despised being Gojo Satoru.
“I’m sorry,” he blurted out.
You looked up at him, and for a moment he had hope.
“Don’t be sorry,” you spat out. “Be better.”
So much for hope.
He tried again. “I’m sorry, okay? I don’t— I don’t fucking know.”
“Yeah, Gojo, you really don’t,” you deadpanned.
Gojo would rather eat shit and die than be here right now. This used to be so damn easy.
“I just want you to be happy.” He mumbled out, feeling like a little kid.
That got a reaction from you, at least. Your eyes widened. “What?”
“I just—” He sighed. “I just want you to be happy with me, and not disgusted or scared. But sometimes you can be such a bitch that—”
Too late, Gojo realized he had chosen his words very poorly.
You laughed, and Satoru wondered if you had finally lost what few marbles you had left. “I’m the bitch?” Your voice pitched higher, and once again Gojo considered warping into the ground and never emerging ever again. “I’m the bitch, here? This is my fault?” You were on a roll now, prickling up like an offended porcupine.
“I’m the bitch for wanting to do what’s best for the students? For wanting to give Nanami and Ijichi a fucking break? For wanting to be fucking normal for once?”
You were panicking inside, you words hurtling out of you at light speed. Hit the brakes.
You floored the accelerator instead. “Maybe I am the bitch, Gojo. I’m the bitch for defending myself from you, being clear with you, trying my damnedest to be patient with you. I’m the pushy, mean, overbearing bitch you’ve always hated, for whatever reason that must be too complicated for me, because all I am is a dumb fucking bitch that you didn’t ask for in the first place! ”
Hit the brakes hit the brakes just fucking hit the brakes.
“I’m the bitch here, Gojo! The bitch you fucking hate so much, when all I ever wanted was for you to let me in.”
The car had crashed. Your head was cracked open, your guts were spilled out on the pavement, all at Gojo Satoru’s mercy.
“I just want you to let me in, Gojo.” You sniffled, dragging the back of your hand against your nose. “I don’t want to be your friend, I don’t want anything from you. I just wish you’d stop— whatever this is.” You gestured feebly between the two of you.
Gojo was stuck again, staring at you. You deflated. All those words, straight out of a soap opera, and the only thing that heard them was a fucking brick wall.
“Whatever, Gojo.” You turned around, maybe if you dropped off the cliff fast enough you’d leave it all behind you. “I’m done with you.”
And then there he was, warping in front of you, grabbing your shoulders and bending down to your eye level.
“I’m so fucking sorry,” he blurted out, panicky and not at all like him. “All these eyes, and I still can’t see.”
You wondered if he had lost what few marbles he had left, but then you were too busy kissing him.
Gojo’s lips were sloppy and hurried, like you were going somewhere. Those smooth hands were back on you, gripping your waist, burying themselves in your hair.
Gojo held his breath, biting back a frankly embarrassing groan. He should have done this sooner, why didn’t he do this sooner? He should have done this the first time he met you. His fingers slipped under the straps of your top, and he felt you shiver against him.
He was a little disappointed. This wasn’t what he had in mind whenever he dreamt of kissing you. He had always fancied it would have been somewhere more… Gojo. Maybe in the middle of Shibuya crossing like all those romcoms Yuuji loved. But here he was, in the hot sun, his students only a few meters away, lips salty and cracked from the seawater. Your nose was still dripping. You smelled like the ocean and sunscreen. Your lips tasted like beer and hate.
It was the best damn kiss he’d ever had.
He pushed his tongue in, hungry for more. He was usually an ace at kissing, but apparently today was Opposite Day. His teeth hit yours, and he knew he should pull back, but your fingers slipped into the waistband of his shorts, his extremely thin swim shorts, that didn’t really do anything to hide his—
He pulled your hands off him, pushing you, warping you again to press you against the tree and really kiss you. You were willing and pliant beneath him, those hands travelling over his skin, harbingers of his untimely death.
You pulled his hair, and suddenly all Gojo wanted in the world was to rip your little bikini off like he had been daydreaming of ever since he rubbed that stupid suncreen on your back. He let himself moan into your mouth, fingers daring to slip beneath your waistband, palming your bare ass. But it wasn’t enough, as Gojo licked and sucked and kissed your mouth until you were an incoherent moaning mess, not enough even as your knees gave out and he was the only thing keeping you standing, your hot body hanging off him. It would never be enough, not until he was fucking you, buried deep inside you, pulling you closer and closer and closer until you were the only real thing in his shitty world.
Suddenly, he had a feeling he was about to do something extremely stupid.
Even worse, he was a hundred percent sure you’d let him do it.
Luckily, unluckily, a familiar ear-piercing screech rang out in the air, and he gasped and pulled you off him, feeling like he was ripping his sanity along with you. Slightly cross-eyed, you slid down against the tree, trying to come back down to Earth, calling your soul back down from where it had floated up to in orbit.
The sight of Nue carrying the first-years was definitely effective in snapping you out of it. You reached to the side, taking a swig of piss-warm beer, hoping to whatever god would listen that you didn’t look like Gojo Satoru had just sucked the soul out of you and put it back all lopsided.
Pretty tough request, seeing as he just did exactly that.
“Sensei!” Yuuji called out to you, and you prayed even harder that the gods would at least shield this kid’s eyes. “We’re going in for another dive. Sorry if we took kinda long, uh, Nanami told us to hang back a bit. Weird.”
You prayed some more.
“But anyway, we’re here now, and Fushiguro’s a genius! Look—” he pointed, as the humongous shikigami floated back down to fetch the other. “Nue’s gonna get the others, too! Smart bird.”
You smiled slightly at Fuhsiguro, trying to sound like a reprimanding teacher. “Fushiguro-kun, Nue is not a taxi.”
Fushiguro scratched the back of his neck. “It’s— it’s nothing. Nue’s easy.” He was stuttering, and Fushiguro never stuttered, so you decided to ease up on him.
Then you realized he wasn’t even looking at you. He was looking at his guardian who was sitting in Ichiji’s seat, the Hemingway in his lap.
Gojo Satoru hated reading, and if anyone knew that, it would be Fushiguro. The poor, poor boy's eyes moved to you, and he looked a little shell-shocked. You avoided his gaze.
God, if you’re out there, just fucking take me. Now would be ideal.
God ignored you.
Filled with the urge to run all the way to Brazil, you stood up, still a little shaky, just as the Maki, Nanami, and Ichiji floated up on Nue. The bird dived back down, coming back with Inumaki and a shuddering Panda. Fushiguro, still looking a bit blank, released him just as the second batch reached the tree. Eight pairs of eyes on you now, five curious, two teasing, and one absolutely devoid of comprehension.
Was this how Jesus felt like when he was being crucified?
Ijichi was the first to speak. “Hello, Gojo-san. How are you liking Hemingway?”
You both glared at him, perfectly in agreement for once. The little—
Gojo laughed breezily, like hiding a raging boner under a book in front of his students was easy as pie. “Ah, you know me, Ijichi, always one for a good classic. In fact, this was so good, I feel a little hungry now—”
His eyes flickered to you. You ignored him. He warped, again, leaving the book open on the seat. Nanami and Ijichi shared another conspiratorial look.
“Stop it, please.” You groaned.
“Stop what?” Ijichi asked.
You were fully prepared to say something nasty, but then Yuuji had launched himself off the cliff again, followed closely by Inumaki's birdlike flight. Looks like a second round then. You worried briefly for Fushiguro when Nue emerged again, but you doubted the boy would want a conversation with you right now.
Especially because Gojo was back up, another cooler in his hand full of ice cream. He was eating another frozen mochi, shivering slightly despite the heat.
Gojo tried, and failed, to avoid your gaze. He had come dangerously close to risking it all and jumping your bones right then and there. He was still dangerously close now, even after he dumped ice cold water from one of the coolers over his head. He hadn’t had to do that in a long time.
He scowled. Ijichi was grinning at him. Nanami was resolutely staring at the sky, the Confucius look back on his face.
Gojo prowled to the edge of the cliff, taking a few paces back, wondering what sort of flip he’d do, when he heard you speak.
“Wait up,” you called out to him, Yuuji’s phone already in hand.
There it was again, the inexplicable squeezing in his ribcage as you held up the camera.
“Time to show off,” you muttered.
He hesitated before shoving your hand down and kissing you again, paying no mind to the two men that seemed much too invested in his love life.
“Who, me?” He murmured, and his heart felt like it might give out as you laughed again.
So he did what any other gentleman would and shoved you off the cliff.
“The phone—” You squeaked, but your fingers were already gripping empty air, the phone going to drop a short distance above Ichiji’s head. Then he was jumping off too, throwing in a messy flip, laughing as he fell above you, his hand reaching for yours, fingers almost touching, almost—
You hit the water. You twisted and kicked up, actually breaching the surface this time. Nue was circling above, already taking Yuuji for another jump, and you splashed Kuigisaki who had drifted off to you.
You managed to squeeze in three more jumps before you all trooped back down to the beach, still a little guilty about riding Nue when you had so deeply traumatized his owner. There was another hasty round of eating, before everyone drifted off again. You had wandered the beach alone, feeling a certain pair of eyes on you. They were no longer harsh and cutting, but tentative, and still a bit dazed.
You had found a seashell, and it was such a coincidental pattern of blue and white that you wished you could take it as a little souvenir. But the ocean was a bit colder now, and you weren’t sure if you could get away with taking something to bring home, not when the ocean knew it could take you as easily as the forgotten seashell. You sighed and put it down.
Now everyone was huddled around a cheery fire, wrapped in towels as the sun painted the sky red. Everyone was exhausted, windswept and seaswept and a bit sunburnt, yet still a little sad to leave. You waved off the wistful air that had settled over you, chirping out a confident we’d be back before you know it as the last of the luggage was hauled into the car.
Nanami waved to the group, and drove ahead on his own. You settled between Panda and Yuuji, dozing off a little on the furry shoulder on your left.
Gojo had warped off somewhere without bothering to help do the lifting.
Not that you cared.
The car pulled out of the beach, and you fell asleep, dreaming of a seashell that looked like the sky.
When you had seen the students into their dorms, left whatever needed to be washed in the kitchen, and waved a sleepy goodbye to Ijichi, you drifted to your own room, wanting nothing more than to collapse in your bed.
You almost missed the paper bag that was placed on top of your dresser, a pink sticky note on top of it. The paper bag Gojo had been holding, you recognized.
For the next best beach day ever, it read, Gonna do it right this time, I promise.
Inside it was a new bottle of your sunscreen.
Another note was stuck on it.
Now get to bed.
You rolled your eyes at that, and saw another sticky note on the bottom of the bag.
Sorry I’m such a pain in the ass.
Then you stopped dead in your tracks. You felt it before you saw it, the remnants of a simple, sincere permission spell, addressed to the sea itself, whose approval was still humming bright in the air.
Gonna do it right this time, I promise.
Sitting on top of your pillow was the seashell you had left behind.