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Bloom

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„This is Fushiguro Megumi. He’ll be watching you guys today.”

The soft breeze coming through the open windows blows the curtains of the classroom in front of the first year’s faces and blocks Megumi’s view for a second. The warm morning breeze fills the room with all sorts of smells: flowers, freshly cut grass and the faint scent of car exhaust from the very center of the city. Megumi watches Zenin-senpai nodding slightly. His gaze wanders to the other two but he can’t make sense of what he sees. His eyes are drawn to the Panda standing on two feet and eyeing him with slight curiosity. A cursed animal? A cursed toy? What is it? When its mouth opens to welcome him, Megumi is taken aback at the sound of human speech coming out of its mouth.

Its different from his divine dogs. Different from his other shikigamis – not bound to a master and able to move around without the chains of a cursed building keeping it locked in one spot. Gojou-sensei’s hand grips his right shoulder harder and reminds him of his manners. His mind must have wandered too far and strange thoughts must have shown on his face. He turns his head slightly to his guardian and teacher and follows the hand pointing in a specific direction.

“This is Panda”, he introduces the cursed subject.

“And this is the cursed voice user Inumaki Toge.”

Megumi greets Panda and averts his eyes forcefully from the strange animalistic form to catch a glimpse of the quiet guy leaning against one of the school desks. Purple eyes are starring right back at him and Megumi can’t stop the cold shiver running down his spine. The Inumaki clan is well known for their strange inherited technique – a real curse for the user, metaphorically and literally speaking. He picks up the faint scent of lavender – not Zenin-senpai’s. Inumaki-senpai must have just presented recently for the Alpha-scent to get picked up by his Omega-side that easily. His omega-side gets restless under that guy’s gaze. It’s almost as if those eyes are searching for the very core of his soul in order to reveal every secret he has been keeping so far. They remind him of their difference in secondary gender – him an low Omega, Inumaki-senpai a proud Alpha standing above him in every aspect of life.

“He can only communicate by using onigiri ingredients”, Gojou-sensei adds.

Strange. Is a cursed voice really that powerful? Wouldn’t it make sense to communicate in short sentences and single words instead of something useless like food ingredients? The scent of lemon grass meets his nose when Zenin-senpai steps closer. At least, one face is familiar. She pushes a chair out of the way and curses when her weapon gets stuck between the classroom’s furniture. His omega-side wants to take a step back – away from her scent. Megumi tries is hardest to remind his instincts over and over again that he knows her. She wouldn’t do him any harm. Not here, not in front of Gojou-senpai. He is safe. His Omega-side is safe. Why must his secondary gender be such pain in the ass?

Thankfully, Gojou-sensei has the tendency to keep anyone from getting too close since Megumi has presented as an Omega. Zenin-senpai looks confused at the sudden action of her teacher but stops in her tracks.

“Today we are making an excursion to Saitama”, Gojou-sensei suddenly announces, and it earns him a sigh from his students. So, they know about their teacher’s habits already. Good for them.

Gojou-sensei makes it sound like a special place, but Megumi knows better. This is just another mission which Gojou-sensei dumbs on his students because he too lazy to do it himself. Upside: They get lots of training and are able to climb up the ranks faster than with the normal jujutsu school system. Downside: Every breath they take inside the cursed building could be their last.

The group of first years starts moving without saying another word. They must have already given up complaining about their teacher’s habits. Gojou-sensei turns around and smiles. Creepy and clearly not a good sign. They cross the school grounds and Megumi finds himself wondering why no one else seems to have any classes today. What a strange school. His thoughts are too occupied with useless questions to notice the cursed voice user Inumaki-senpai slowing down to walk side by side with him.

“Tuna, tuna.”

The soft voice pulls him out of his thoughts and draws his attention to the Alpha walking next him. Not sure what to answer, Megumi scratches the back of his head and averts his gaze towards the ground. An instinctive reaction to the difference in their dynamics. It annoys him slightly. His omega-side is like a tick, he as to follow to soothe his instincts and his thoughts. Submission is all he does nowadays; even Gojou-sensei had looked concerned when he had shown his bare throat to the arguing Alphas in front of him a few days ago, when his guardian had used his Alpha-voice in a confrontation with the director. It had taken all his willpower to avert his gaze as Gojou-sensei was talking to him through what his guardian had called an “instinct overdrive”. Rare but nothing unusual for a newly presented Omega.

A phone screen is suddenly shoved into his face and Megumi takes a second to realize what Inumaki-senpai tries to do.

We heard that you are the only one in the dormitory. Do you like it there?

The news must have traveled fast when even the first years already know that he moved into the school’s dormitory just a few days ago. After Tsumiki had been transferred to the school’s hospital ward, there was just no reason to stay in their shared apartment anymore. Gojou-sensei had arranged everything for him: the cancellation of the rental contract and a company to move every single object either to the dormitory or into Gojou-sensei’s residence. They had lived quite the minimalistic lifestyle. But this was something he only found out after he had seen the handful of boxes lined up at the main door.

“It’s okay, I guess”, he answers truthfully.

Casual conversations aren’t his strong suit and so their little talk dies down just like that. He glances one last time to the other, making sure that he didn’t miss some kind of nonverbal sign, but Inumaki-senpai’s eyes are looking straight forward. The scent of lemon grass meets his nose before he sees Zenin-senpai out of the corner of his eyes walking right next to him.

“You’ll get used to Toge’s way of talking. It takes some time to distinguish between the different onigiri ingredients”, Zenin-senpai tells him,” he isn’t usually the one who approaches people first, be glad.”

Does that mean he is trusted? His gaze wanders to Inumaki-senpai once more and watches the Alpha typing away on his phone again.

We are going to work together. You and me, the screen reads a moment later.

That explains why the other wants to get to know him a little. Going into a fight with a stranger isn’t the best foundation to exorcise a curse. He wants to ask Gojou-sensei if this is really going to work. He is inexperienced, only trained in hand-to-hand-combat and a little bit in curse techniques but nothing to support someone in a life and death fight. They stop in front of the Ikebukuro train station. Inumaki-senpai puts the phone away and passes him one of the commute cards Gojou-sensei is handing out.

“Mustard leaf?”

“Huh?”

His verbal reaction isn’t the best and could even be considered rude, but he has no idea what Inumaki-senpai wants from him. What else is there then asking for some other form of communication?

“He asks, if you are okay”, Panda translates and bends down slightly.

“Ah, yes. Thank you.”

Gojou-sensei signals them to hurry up and rushes through the station without any regards of their shorter legs. Zenin-senpai sighs loudly and Panda walks faster to catch up to Gojou-sensei. Inumaki-senpai doesn’t seem to care if he gets left behind or not. Unintentionally, they seem to decide at the same time to walk side by side to the first carriage in the very front of the platform. The station is packed with people and curses alike and makes it difficult to navigate through to the platform without getting in the way of a curse. Several cursed worms are running over their shoes and slow them down. Megumi tries his hardest not to look at the curses eating away at the tracks. The train itself is crowed with curses spirits as well -not a good sign. This railway is infamous for suicides and attempted suicides on a weekly basis. Everyone knows that and no one cares anymore. Not every dead body can be recovered after a suicide, so the reminds are scattered around the area and the train itself. What a sad way to leave this earth.

 Megumi tries to look straight ahead instead to the roof of the station and almost stumbles over a small abandoned plastic bag sitting on the floor. He is caught by Inumaki-senpai and dragged to the railway carriage in a faster pace. The moment the other takes a step inside the carriage a female voice announces the departure of the train. Inumaki-senpai turns around and presses his back against the passenger behind him in an attempt to make more room for Megumi. He has no time to think about trying for another carriage when Inumaki-senpai pulls him inside and the doors close behind his back. They are pressed chest against chest and for the first time, he notices the slight height difference between them. He is slightly taller than the Alpha.

Megumi had been told by several people that he is quite tall for an Omega. Nothing like those cute little Omega-boys they show on national television and movies. Looking at his image, there is nothing cute about his appearance at all. It’s better this way. Inumaki-senpai on the other hand looks, at first glance, like the perfect Omega-material – perfect height, slim and bedroom eyes. Their looks are the exact opposite of what is considered to be the perfect Omega or Alpha by society.

Fuck. Why is that even important?

He shakes his head slightly and watches Inumaki-senpai’s eyebrows knit in confusion. The train takes off and he can’t help himself but grabbing the other’s jacket in an attempt to not tumble into another passenger standing next to him. The lavender scent gets stronger the moment the other grabs the handle above their heads to steady them. A quiet purr escapes Megumi’s lips and startles not only himself but Inumaki-senpai as well. He tries hard to stop the sound from escaping his throat but it’s too late and it draws the attention not only from Inumaki-senpai but from the people around them as well.

The word Omega is whispered somewhere, and Megumi can almost feel the change in the atmosphere inside the carriage. Several pair of eyes are starting to stare at him. He tries his best to ignore the two Alphas standing next to him, eyeing him lustfully. He spots Panda pressed in a corner of the carriage, although no human is able to touch him, and Zenin-senpai sitting next to Gojou-sensei at the end of the carriage; casually reading a book.

“Mustard leaf?”, Inumaki-senpai’s voice sounds.

Their eyes meet again, and Megumi is unsure of what to answer. The mixed scent of Alphas inside the carriages makes him nauseous, the only scent that doesn’t have such an effect to his wellbeing is apparently Inumaki-senpai’s. What to answer then? He counts the train stations until Asakadai and discovers that they are most likely riding that train for thirty more minutes. Warm fingers are suddenly brushing over his forearm and breaks him out of his thoughts. For a moment, he expects one of the other passengers to be touching him but as he looks down, only Inumaki-senpai’s fingers are brushing over his skin. The scent of lavender grows thicker and he can’t help but lean in a little closer. It carries a faint promise of safety and protection. His omega-side stirs at the scent and Megumi finds himself unable to help the heat climbing its way to his cheeks. Is this how an Alpha comforts a panicked Omega? Is this how nature intended it to be?

He tries to avert his gaze and to concentrate on the feeling of the other’s fingers. Inumaki-senpai lets go of the handle when the door opens at the next station and turns Megumi and himself away from the door towards a small wall of plexiglass. He is startled at the sudden motion and grips Inumaki-senpai’s jacket with both hands in order not to lose his balance. His back is pressed against the wall and passengers are exiting and entering the carriage again. It doesn’t really get emptier. Inumaki-senpai pulls out his phone, types something and a moment later shows him the screen.

I’m sorry. You presented just recently?

He nods and waits for another text to read.

Don’t worry. I don’t mind, the next reads.

He can’t really make sense of the last text. What does he not mind? The physical closeness? The touch? The comforting? And then it dawns on him and he tries to get a sniff of his own scent. Inumaki-senpai’s eyes widen at the gesture and he is quick to type another text and show it to Megumi.

You smell nice. Don’t worry. I’m in control.

The marks around Inumaki-senpai’s mouth spread into a soft smile. Megumi breathes a sigh of relief at the other’s reaction. Strangely, he believes the Alpha when he says he is in control. If not, Gojou-sensei wouldn’t let them get as close as they are right now. Surely, those blue eyes are watching him like a hawk. The touch on his forearm stays light and reassures him that he can trust Inumaki-senpai. Out of the corner of his eyes he notices the other typing away in his phone again. The touch is a pleasant distraction from the scents and the curses which are crowding themselves in the small carriage.

Fifteen minutes.

Not that long then and he can bring a little bit more distance between them. He scratches the side of his neck and nods in confirmation. The ride continues and he keeps wondering why they didn’t just drive there. Using public transportation isn’t Gojou-sensei’s style at all. He had never seen the other getting around without using a jujutsu teleportation magic of sorts or calling Ijichi-san to drive him. The AC blows cold air directly in his face and starts to irritate his developing scent glands. The itchy feeling returns stronger by each minute he stands under the AC and gets worse the more he focuses on it. He clenches his teeth and tries to concentrate on something else. His gaze meets Inumaki-senpai’s and curios purple eyes are staring at the same spot on his neck that keeps driving him insane.

What a pain!

His fingers find the spot again and out of pure agony he scratches the scent gland harder; a little too hard. A wave of pain shots through his body and Megumi suppresses the urge to buckle over. Suddenly a warm hand pushes his fingers away from the irritated scent gland and a flat palm is pressed against it lightly. Megumi’s breath hitches in his throat and he stares wide-eyed at the other. Quite cooing meets his ears and his first instinct is to give Inumaki-senpai better access to his scent glands. He doesn’t realize their scents getting mixed and doesn’t even notice the arm grabbing his upper arm suddenly and pulling him away from the other. A low growl escapes his throat. Megumi turns his head to the side and to the one who gets in the way of his secondary gender’s needs. Bright blue eyes are meeting his own and Gojou-sensei’s action make him stumble a few steps away from Inumaki-senpai, straight into his guardian’s chest.

“Toge-kun. Be aware of your dynamic”, a low voice says.

Gojou-sensei stands next to them, eyeing them observantly through his dark glasses. Bright blue eyes wander from Megumi to Inumaki-senpai’s hand pulling away from Megumi’s scent glands. It feels intimate; like they had done something wrong and Gojou-sensei is here to scold them. The urge to submit here and there is almost overwhelming. The scent of campfire on a cold winter night clashes against lavender and Megumi is sure that he hears his teacher growling quietly. A female voice announces the next station and he is glad to escape the situation by exiting the train at their final destination.

Panda and Zenin-senpai appear behind Inumaki-senpai’s back and Zenin-senpai raises an eyebrow at them. Suddenly the warm hand is just a ghost on his neck and Inumaki-senpai steps back and gives him more space to turn to the carriage’s door; avoiding Gojou-sensei’s strange look.

They step outside the train and Maki-senpai is quick to draw his attention to her.

“You smell sweet. I heard that you presented just a few weeks ago. Omegas are quite rare for someone coming from the Zenin bloodline.”

She grins and Megumi knows that him being an Omega is seen by her as just another bullet shot in the Zenin’s direction to take them down. He wants to tell her that he has nothing to do with the Zenin Clan anymore but decides against it. Blood is still blood. A name doesn’t change that fact. Gojou-sensei leads the way through the station and straight into a narrow passage. Thankfully, the place is less crowded with curses and people alike. Panda and Inumaki-senpai are trying to keep up with Gojou-sensei’s long legs and for a moment Megumi catches himself being confused about why Inumaki-senpai doesn’t walk next to him. Did he do something? Did the other finally had enough of his scent? Had he done something that wasn’t appropriate for an Omega to do?

“He has a hard time getting friendly with people because his communication is so limited”, her gaze wanders to Megumi and green eyes meet blue ones in an intimate gesture.

“Toge-kun, I mean.”

“He is nice”, he replies without thinking which earns him a grin from Zenin-senpai. Megumi can’t make sense of her behavior.

Gojou-sensei stops in front of a student home compound and his gaze wanders to the highest floor. The building reeks of death and despair and curses in form of black worms and ravens are already eating away at the building’s protective aura.

“International student homes are quite popular for sudden deaths. Suicide or natural cause makes no difference to those lower curses”, Gojou-sensei explains to them.

“I’ll draw a curtain. The faster you exorcise that curse the faster we can go get some food. How does that sound?”

“Only if you pay.”

“Of course, Maki-chan.”

The curtain darkens the sky above their heads and instinctively people are trying to get away from the magic line between the outside world and the jujutsu sphere building up around the building. Zenin-senpai is the first to walk inside, followed by Panda and Inumaki-senpai. He turns around one more time to look at Gojou-sensei. His guardian nods and it’s all that Megumi needs to follow the others. He is still not sure if this is a good idea. Hopefully, this mission wasn’t originally assigned to Gojou-sensei and then dumped on them.

Wouldn’t surprise me, he thinks and enters the building.

Inside they are meet with a lobby and an elevator to their left. The atmosphere inside is thick with curse energy and cools down the closer they get to the elevator and the staircase.

“There are ten floors. The staircase is to the left. Stay together”, Zenin-senpai tells them and with the last sentence her gaze falls onto Megumi. He raises an eyebrow at her silent indication. He never worked solo when assigned to a group. He thought of himself as a support not a close-ranged damager. She of all people should know that.

Megumi’s eyes wander around and take in every little detail that could possibly be an evidence for a special-grade curse. Nothing looks out of the ordinary – a perfectly looking student home. They enter the staircase without saying another word to each other. They simply assumed that everyone knows their role in this mission. The staircase is dark, and the curtain drawn around the place doesn’t help their sight. After stumbling over a few steps in the beginning they get the hang of it. Megumi summons his white divine dog, just in case, even though he was told only to watch. The very next moment Megumi finds himself smiling at Panda’s reaction to his shadow technique. Panda gets startled at the dog running next to him and makes a high-pitched noise. Zenin-senpai laughs at Panda’s reaction and strokes the dog under his ears. Inumaki-senpai on the other hand doesn’t interact with the dog at all. The Alpha doesn’t even so much as glance at it and it leaves a bitter taste in Megumi’s mouth behind. At least, the other isn’t scared of his shadow technique. The laughter dies down and only their steps are echoing through the staircase.

It seems like the stairs never end and he becomes hot just from walking up all those goddamn stairs. His ears are meet with Zenin-senpai’s hard breathing and Panda’s noises of complains. Megumi opens his jacket and welcomes the coldness sipping into his body.

“I’m getting hungry”, Panda complains, and Megumi can’t stop his own stomach from growling quietly at the thought of food.

“What the hell is wrong with this staircase?”

Zenin-senpai must be hungry as well. Her voice is laced with annoyance and anger.

“Salmon.”

They stop for a short period of time to catch their breaths.

“You two should really work on your stamina”, Zenin-senpai points in Inumaki-senpai’s and his direction while being out of breath herself. It’s quite ironic. She tries to cheer them up in her own ways, but it doesn’t help. Megumi turns around and isn’t surprised to find pitch-black darkness looking back at him.

He glances at the Alpha, standing next to him once more and is slightly taken aback by the flushed face and the little beads of sweat forming on the other’s forehead. Inumaki-senpai is the first to sit down and it works like a magic spell for the rest of them. Panda sits down with a huff and even Zenin-senpai doesn’t complain about them not able to take another step. Megumi leans against the wall and lets his gaze wander around – from the ceiling to the side walls and to the small window a few meters ahead of them. The walls seem to vibrate slightly. His eyes can’t catch a clear sight of their natural form. Clearly the work of a higher-level curse.

“It’s a territory, there is no other way”, Panda says and touches the walls with his right paw.

“Megumi? Can you send your divine dog ahead? Maybe he can find something like a door.”

He nods and gives a quick instruction to the dog who barks briefly and runs up the stairs.

“We can’t even see the door which we came through anymore”, Zenin-senpai adds.

“Salmon.”

Megumi’s hand wanders to his scent gland and rubs the sore spot. It’s itching again, not quite bad like in the train, but bad enough to the point where it’s really starting to get on his nerves. Zenin-senpai suddenly stands up and takes a few steps towards him. She slaps his hand away from the irritated scent gland and gives him an angry look.

“Don’t do that. It’ll only gets worse. Something must have triggered your hormones.”

She leans forward and takes a deep breath; sniffing him.

“You smell.”

“So, what”, he snaps at her and regrets it instantly. He is so feed up with everyone always telling him that he hasn’t got his scent in control. It’s been three weeks since he presented, and these new instincts are a real pain in the ass to deal with. Her Alpha scent meets his nose and he can’t fight the urge to submit to her. His bare throat is shown in her direction which earns him a face of confusion. He can’t help it! A low growl interrupts their moment and Inumaki-senpai steps between them, looking at Zenin-senpai the same way Gojou-sensei had drilled his eyes into Inumaki-senpai’s body earlier. She shakes her head and puts a little distance between them. His instincts release him a moment later and he takes a deep breath to cool his head.

Just on time, the dog’s howl signals them to move.

“He found something,” Megumi announces and isn’t surprised when Zenin-senpai continues to walk as if nothing ever happened between them. Panda sighs and follows her. Inumaki-senpai on the other hand waits for him to continue walking. For another five to ten minutes they take one step after the other. The demon dog is still not in sight and it makes Megumi questioning if the howl had sounded closer than it really is.

Warmth is spreading throughout his body and he can’t help but getting rid of his jacket and tying it around his hips. Inumaki-senpai does the same and the lavender scent fills the staircase and makes it even harder for Megumi to take deep breaths. His shirt is soaked, and his face flushed the moment his divine dog comes into view. Zenin-senpai throws her hands in the air in a sign of relief and Panda bends down to one knee to catch his breath once more.

The divine dog stands in front of a white door and waits for them to open it.

“You okay, Megumi?”

He lifts his face slightly to reassure Zenin-senpai that, yes he is okay, just a little bit out of breath and sweaty from the little sport’s lesson they had.

They open the door and are meet with a hallway which divides itself into four smaller hallways.

“So, who wants to choose first?”, Zenin-senpai asks her team members and Panda brings a hand under his chin in a thinking-pose.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to split up.”

“Salmon.”

“Huh? Why not? We always split up.”

“But Fushiguro-kun is only here to watch and Gojou-sensei entrusted him to Toge-kun.”

“It’s okay. I don’t mind. I can fight”, he tries to ensure them.

Inumaki-senpai shakes his head and Zenin-senpai sighs dramatically.

“Fine. Panda take the left hallway. I’ll take the right one. You two can choose between the other two.”

She stomps away in an angry manner and Panda shrugs at her dramatic reaction and takes his leave as well. Megumi turns his attention to Inumaki-senpai and waits for him to choose one of the two hallways left. Apparently the other does the same. Megumi’s gaze wanders to the right hallway in the middle. His senses try to get any kind of information but only the darkness awaits them and so it’s up to them to choose blindly.

A wet tongue licks at his right hand and he is reminded that Inumaki-senpai waits for him to choose one way or the other.

“Let’s go.”