After the exchange event, there’s an obvious change between Maki and Nobara, Inumaki notices. The first year had been kissing the ground Maki walked on for a while now and while Maki never seemed like one for such a huge display of emotion like that, she never pushed the girl away or was ever rude to her. She never said anything about it either though; it was almost like indifference.
But after the exchange event, Inumaki heard from Panda, who heard from Miwa, who heard from Mai, who heard from Momo- that Nobara had all but declared her love for Maki mid-fight with the girl on the broom. Word must have gotten to Maki too because the two had walked off to see Shoko after the event and were nowhere to be found the rest of the day.
The next day, Inumaki walks into the kitchen and sees Nobara smiling widely in Maki’s face while she washes plates. Maki leans back when she spots him..
“Tch,way to kill the mood Inumaki-senpai.” Nobara scoffs, rolling her eyes.
“Okaka.” 'it’s not like I want to see gay people right before I eat’ , he signs. Maki glares and throws the dish sponge at him, which he thankfully dodges..
“What did he say, something mean huh?” Nobara asks with a glare.
“He's just lonely and bitter,” Maki says with a smug grin.
Inumaki just glares and turns right back around, walking out of the kitchen hearing the girls’ chuckling.
Inumaki is late for his first mission after being on bedrest for a couple days after the event, given the special-grade nightmare. He giggles, remembering how Yuuta reacted as he speed-walks to the front of the school where the car should be waiting.
“A special-grade? Are you alright? You weren’t alone?...n-not that you can’t handle yourself, uh, obviously…but still, that…it must have been tough.” Yuuta finally settled on staring at Inumaki through the screen of his iphone.
‘Megumi and Kamo-san were there, it would’ve been worse if they weren’t.’ Yuuta looked away from the screen.
“I…I’m glad you’re alright. I’m glad everyone is.”
‘We're not made of glass Yuuta.’ Inumaki signed with a teasing smile and Yuuta chuckled.
“I know, I know. It was tough but you guys are tougher.” He said, eyes shining with honesty as a small smile graced his lips. All Inumaki could think about is how kind he is.
“Inumaki-kun why are you late? That’s my thing!” Gojo asks with the usual annoyingly cheerful tone to his voice.
“Tuna tuna.” Gojo nods, though he probably has no clue what Inumaki said.
As Inumaki slides into the back seat, his phone vibrates in his pocket and he’s shocked to find that it’s Yuuta, who he was just thinking about.
Yuuta: good morning Inumaki :D
Inumaki: being awake in the morning is never good
> but hi :)
Yuuta : you have a mission today right?
> good luck and be safe! I’ll text you later
Inumaki : to make sure I’m still alive?
> you worry too much
Yuuta: well maybe but you mean a lot to me!
Inumaki : just me?
Yuuta : maki and panda too
> of course
Inumaki : of course
Then there’s a pause in their constant stream of texts, but Inumaki still feels a smile on his face as he rolls his eyes. Yuuta is a little too easy to tease, he thinks. Though he can’t dwell on it long before he has to get ready for the exorcism.
“Maki, it’s your turn to go get the groceries.”
“Look, you will have to live one night without your fancy noodles, Panda. I have plans.”
‘Gay plans.’ Inumaki signs to Panda who chuckles. Maki snaps around with a glare.
“I know you said something.”
“Okaka.” Inumaki says with a shrug and mock innocence in his tone.
“Okaka my ass. Go be bitter and single somewhere else.”
“Well, aren’t you technically single?” Panda says.
Maki throws her shoe at him so fast, he couldn’t even think to dodge.
He groans in pain.
“Mind your damn business!”
‘Sounds like you’re bitter and single.’ Maki takes two steps forward and Inumaki throws his hands up in surrender.
“Come back to me when people are knocking down your doors for a date!” Maki says with a smug grin before leaving the room.
“She got us there.”
Inumaki rolls his eyes.
“Oh and then I fell almost all the way down the cliff after I exorcised the curse. Miguel had to grab me, I was screaming, it was a whole thing .” Inumaki laughs looking at Yuuta on his computer screen.
‘I can hear it in my head, you’re so jumpy.’
“Not that much anymore!” Yuuta protests, looking sheepish and embarrassed, only further proving Inumaki’s point. Inumaki laughs again, unable to help himself.
“I can’t believe you’re laughing so hard. I could have died and you’re giggling.” Inumaki only laughs harder at this and Yuuta laughs quietly as well. Yuuta's eyes drift elsewhere for a few seconds before he sighs.
“I have to go, and you should get some sleep anyway.” Yuuta smiles.
Inumaki raises an eyebrow.
“Tuna tuna.” Inumaki says pointing under his right eye then at Yuuta.
“Are you- leave my eyebags out of this?” Yuuta says through a chuckle. “Goodnight Inumaki.'' Yuuta says with a little wave that Inumaki reciprocates.
“Kelp, Yuuta.” Yuuta blinks twice then waves again with a little nervous chuckle before hanging up.
“Okaka.” Inumaki says with a glare.
“Why not? I asked nicely and everything.” Maki says with a huff of breath.
‘I don’t want to? it’s your mission that you’re perfectly capable of doing.’
“But Nobara-“ Inumaki rolls his eyes and Maki smacks his arm hard. “Shut up! She has tickets for this concert for some band she really likes, and she wants me to go. She said it would mean a lot to her.”
When Inumaki looks up from nursing his arm, there’s a flush to Maki’s cheeks as she taps her foot, leaning against the back of the couch in the common area. Inumaki sighs.
Maki’s gaze flits to him from her peripheral vision.
“Salmon salmon.” Inumaki says, waving his hand to say ‘whatever’.
Maki smiles a little and hands him the file for the mission later that night.
“Thanks Toge.” she says quietly. Inumaki just rolls his eyes again as he tucks it under his arm.
‘Whatever just go get a girlfriend already.'' Maki shoves his shoulder and huffs in disbelief.
“When are you going to get a boyfriend, huh?” Inumaki glares at her again before she leaves the room.
That mission sucked too. Inumaki had a huge gash on his arm and he hit his head super hard but Maki had said,
“Worth it, we kissed after the concert.”
“Yeah, Nobara right? Maki has mentioned her a couple of times.'' Yuuta says on facetime later that night.
“They’re practically dating but she insists that they’re not.” He says with a tone of disbelief and Inumaki nods.
“Salmon. Tuna mayo.”
“They kissed?! I have not been caught up yet.”
‘She's still saying they’re not dating.’ Inumaki signs with a roll of his eyes.
“Nobara must be just as hopeless then.” Yuuta says with a chuckle.
‘Gay people.’ Inumaki signs with a sigh.
“Hopeless, all of us.”
‘All of us?’ Yuuta just shrugs.
There's another voice Inumaki hears briefly before Yuuta mutes himself and comes back a minute later.
“I have to go, sorry Inumaki, I’ll talk to you later, yeah?”
“Salmon salmon.” Inumaki waves and Yuuta ends the call quickly. Inumaki lays back on his bed.
All of us?
“They make me want to barf.” Nobara says in disgust, taking a bite of her food and staring at Megumi and Yuuji who are standing in the kitchen practically nose to nose. Poor Megumi is flushed red while Yuuji is talking a mile a minute about something on his phone and doesn’t notice.
“Yeah, that seems unfortunate.” Panda says with a sympathetic nod.
‘Almost as bad as what we deal with.’ Inumaki signs to Panda, who is visibly holding back a laugh for fear of Maki and her familiar wrath.
“What did you say, tuna mayo?” Nobara said, pointing her fork at him.
“I’m starting to think you just hate lesbians, Toge.”
“Okaka.” He says with an eye roll. ‘Just you.’
“Big talk from a single gay.” Nobara says leaning into Maki with a huge smirk. Inumaki glares at the girl.
“It's bordering on jealousy at this point.” Panda admits and Inumaki looks over at him, feeling slightly betrayed even on such a small matter.
“Denial isn’t good for you Inumaki-senpai.” Yuuji says with a smile as he and Megumi sit down with them.
‘This is getting homophobic.’
“And?” Maki asks boredly.
Nobara chuckles. Inumaki likes playing jokes on people but he quickly realizes he doesn’t like being on the receiving end of them. Because it feels like losing. Inumaki doesn’t like to lose.
‘I’m not single anyway.’ Inumaki is signing before he can even really think about it. Maki nearly chokes on her drink.
“Ha! Good joke, who would you be dating? I know everyone you know.”
Damn that’s a really good point. Well, this is going to be one of the most embarrassing moments of my short life, Inumaki is thinking when suddenly his phone rings. Looking down, he sees it’s a facetime from Yuuta.
“Okkotsu-senpai?” Megumi asks.
“Why is Yuuta calling you so late?” Panda asks and Nobara gasps suddenly.
“Are you dating Okkotsu-senpai?” She asks loudly. Inumaki’s eyes widen. Maki raises her eyebrows and looks at him.
“You and Yuuta?” The phone finally stops ringing now and Inumaki is speechless, blinking slowly.
“Inumaki-senpai, I didn’t think you’d be so shy.” Yuuji said.
“He did it to himself!” Nobara argues. Inumaki's phone rings on the table and a text from Yuuta is shown on the screen.
Yuuta : hey you said to call at this time right? it’s fine if you’re asleep though sweet dreams 😊
“Wow, that is gay.” Maki says, leaning over to read his phone. Inumaki slams his hand on it and stands, deciding to leave the room. His cheeks are red hot with embarrassment.
Why didn’t I deny it?
Inumaki jumps when his phone dings again as he walks into his room.
Yuuta : so maki just texted me
Inumaki’s eyes went wide. That was fast. She’s so evil.
Inumaki : oh, saying?
Yuuta: she asked me how long we’ve been dating
> I didn’t know we were dating
Inumaki wants to slam his head into the wall.
Inumaki : it’s a prank i'm pulling on maki
> but if you don’t want to play along that’s fine too obviously
Inumaki stares at his phone for a few minutes before realizing Yuuta might be awhile.
He took a bath, changed into pajamas, made popcorn now that everyone was asleep and watched a few youtube videos before trying to go to sleep. Trying but not succeeding. He sighs and grabs his phone from the nightstand and stares at his notification screen.
Did I just fuck something up? Inumaki worries. Suddenly he’s unsure what this means for his friendship with Yuuta, wonders why he didn’t just-
His phone screen lights up with a ding and Inumaki has never unlocked his phone faster.
Yuuta : i'll play along it’s no problem 😊
> I can’t ruin one of the great Inumaki Toge’s pranks obviously
Inumaki chuckles quietly to himself, falling asleep before he could remember to text Yuuta back.
Yuuta : good morning Toge! I’m assuming you fell asleep but if we’re going to pull this prank off we have to get our stories straight!
Inumaki blinks at the text from Yuuta, sent a couple hours before he actually woke up. He's in the backseat of a car, on his way to a mission with Megumi.
Inumaki : story?
Inumaki hears a ding but instead it’s Megumi’s phone on his lap. Inumaki just barely and mostly accidentally catches Yuuji’s name on the screen with what he was 90% sure was a heart emoji of some kind. Inumaki doesn’t say anything because poor Megumi would get so flustered, but he quietly snorts to himself.
Gay, he thinks before realizing, wait that is gay. He opens Yuuta's contact information to put a white heart next to his name. White reminds me of him .
“We’re here Inumaki-senpai.” Megumi says, opening the door on his side.
“Salmon.” he nods and gets out as well.
Missions with Megumi always go smoothly. He's a little too serious but it’s helpful in this sense, so it doesn’t take long to finish off the few 2nd grades in an abandoned building.
As they’re walking out Inumaki has counted Megumi looking at him at least 14… 15 times now.
“Takana?” Inumaki asks, turning to look at the taller boy as they walk down a hallway.
“Y-yeah…it’s…can I ask you a question?” Megumi asks, like he just needed a push. Inumaki nods.
“How did you ask Okkotsu-senpai out?” Inumaki barely retained his shock before remembering that was the story right now.
‘He asked me…over facetime recently.’ Inumaki lies right through his fingers.
Megumi nods, but he doesn’t look quite satisfied.
“I guess…I think…I like someone. and I think they might like me? possibly? I don’t kn-“
“Okaka?” Inumaki asks, giving him a puzzled look. 'Are you not dating Yuuji?’
Megumi's eyes go wide and he misses a step as they descend a staircase. He stutters, looking down as he gets his footing back.
“What? no, I haven’t…we’re not dating… Is it obvious though?”
“Salmon.” Inumaki says immediately.
Megumi’s eye twitches.
“Says you and Okkotsu-senpai.” Megumi bites back, opening the doors to the front, where the car waits for them.
Inumaki’s brow furrows.
“There you two are! Let's go, it's going to start raining!” Nitta-san calls from the driver seat.
When they get in the car, she gets a call that she has on speaker the entire time, so Inumaki can’t ask Megumi what he’s dying to.
What did he mean? Me and Yuuta? Obvious?
His phone vibrates halfway back to the school.
Yuuta 🤍: our story like who asked who out and how and when, do we have nicknames? is there any basic information I should know things like that
Inumaki: have you done this before or something? you’re a little too prepared.
Yuuta🤍: it would kill you to tell me I had a good idea huh
Inumaki: yes 💔😔
> also I told Megumi you asked me over facetime recently because he asked
Yuuta🤍: that works!
Inumaki: I also put a white heart next to your contact name
Yuuta🤍: white because of my shirt?
> that’s kind of gay?
Inumaki: ha ha 😐
> but true I got the idea from Megumi
Yuuta🤍: he has a crush? :’)
Inumaki: you have no idea…
Yuuta🤍: tell me about it on facetime later? I have to go…
Inumaki: sure have fun be safe
Inumaki rolls his eyes.
I taught him everything he knows and look what that got me.
“Inumaki-senpai, did you zone out or something? We’re back.” Megumi’s grumpy head pokes through his door.
Inumaki jumps with a nod and unbuckles his seatbelt to get out. His phone dings and vibrates, falling out of his hand.
Megumi reaches down to pick it up while Inumaki closes the door. As Inumaki moves to thank the boy, he sees him staring right at his screen.
“Okaka.” He says, quickly snatching his phone back and looking at the notification on screen.
Yuuta🤍: oh I hope your mission went well 😊
Megumi snorts but walks away leaving Inumaki to stare at the message as it begins to drizzle.
“Says you and Okkotsu-senpai.”
“Did you guys hear?” Yuuji says after running down from the building to the field at a pace so rapid it left them all blinking in shock.
“Hear what?” Maki asks.
“Gojo-sensei says we have Friday off!” He says with a wide smile.
Megumi and Nobara finally reach them, their legs lacking superhuman abilities unlike Yuuji.
“And that warranted a world record run to the field?” Panda asked. “I think you scared the birds from the trees.” he says looking up.
Yuuji stares up too, with a forlorn look on his face.
“Anyway, we have to make plans. And by ‘we’ I mean me and Maki.” Nobara says, looping her arm through Maki’s and turning them around to walk to the opposite side of the field.
“Megumi and I are going to the arcade in Akiba again! I think I finally have a chance at beating him now.”
“No you don’t.”
“Well as fun as that sounds, I’ll be staying in.” Panda says though it’s obvious.
“What about you, Toge?”
“Okaka.” ‘I bought a new game. I've been waiting for the chance to play it so have fun on your date.’ Inumaki signs with a wink.
“Are you jealous that you and Okkotsu-senpai can’t go on dates?” His grin, normally warm and kind, looks a little too reminiscent of Nobara.
“You have got to stop hanging out with Nobara so much.” Megumi says, bonking him on the head with his fist. Yuuji yelps.
“No but really, when should Okkotsu-senpai be back?'' Yuuji asks, rubbing the top of his head with a slight pout. Inumaki and Panda shrug.
“Gojo didn’t say and as far as I know Yuuta hasn’t. He probably doesn’t know either.” Inumaki nods in agreement.
“That’s got to be hard on him.” Yuuji says, sounding genuinely upset on Yuuta’s behalf.
Inumaki closes his eyes for a moment, remembering the dark eyebags he’d seen on Yuuta’s face the last few weeks on Facetime, his exhaustion obvious in his every move and word.
Inumaki knows how he frets and worries over them all after missions…he knows being away is hard on Yuuta. It’s like a constant thorn in his side or a pain in his back, he can’t ignore it and it hurts .
“He’ll be back soon. Why are you guys talking about him like he’s dead?” Maki asks, walking back with Nobara right beside her.
“Be nice Maki, you know he’s sensitive.” Panda says with a pout and Inumaki huffs out a quiet chuckle.
He’d never say it to their faces so openly, but his friends mean a lot to him.
He’s never really had any before now. He knows Yuuta gets that, and understands it so well. He can’t wait to have the boy back at his side feeling as happy as he does right now.
“That math just can’t be right Inumaki.'' Yuuta says.
Inumaki was trying to finish some last minute homework on Facetime that night. He knew the answer was wrong, but he didn’t have anything else to put there. Inumaki would defend his wrong answer with his life.
As Yuuta grabs his phone that was screen-down on his desk, it lights up and Inumaki vaguely and quickly sees…
Yuuta looks up right away.
‘Is your lock screen a picture of me?’ Inumaki asks.
Yuuta's phone slips from his hands, clattering onto the wood floor of the room he’s staying in.
Inumaki hears him mumbling to himself as he moves back in his chair to get it. When he’s finally achieved that, he looks back at the camera sheepishly.
“Well, after you told me about the contact name, I figured I should do something like that too! Is…I can change it if you want.” he says, eyes wide with worry.
He looks like a sad puppy , Inumaki thinks to himself.
‘At least let me see it though, to make sure it’s a good one.’
“It is.” Yuuta says almost as soon as Inumaki is done signing and he hopes the camera quality isn’t good enough to pick up the pink rising on his cheeks.
“It's from that day you guys went to the beach. you’re laying in the sand with Panda’s drawing he did of you.” Yuuta says with a smile as he looks at it.
Inumaki's phone dings.
Yuuta had sent him a screenshot of his screen. It’s mostly him lying down, the sun had been nearly setting and it hit him at a nice angle. It was a pretty good picture.
“I’m glad you approve.”
‘Speaking of gay things, Megumi and Yuuji are going on a date this friday.’
“A date? So that means Megumi must have made a move then!”
‘I’m honest to god shocked. You know how Megumi is about feelings.”
“That's why I’m proud of him!”
‘I suppose it could have been Yuuji who made a move though.’
“No.” Yuuta says so quickly it shocks Inumaki a little. “No, Yuuji wouldn’t have.”
‘Oh you two know each other well?’ Inumaki asks with a little smirk but Yuuta is looking down at his hands in his lap, quiet.
It worries him.
Yuuta nods, too quickly.
“It's just…Yuuji is a good person right? But he has Sukuna. No matter how good he is, Sukuna is still there.” Inumaki's brows furrows, not liking where this seemed to be going. “If he's a good person he’d never put that on someone else.”
“ Okaka. ” Inumaki glares, his voice raising slightly.
Yuuta's wide eyes look up at him.
‘Don’t talk about Yuuji like that. He's not a monster or a burden. I thought you of all people would understand him.’ Inumaki may have gone a little too quickly for the laggy facetime video on their laptops but Yuuta seems to piece it together anyway.
“N-no that’s not what I meant!” Yuuta waves his hands in worry before running them through his longer hair.
“I meant…it’s because I do understand what it’s like to be saddled with a power or a debt like that... that I know he wouldn’t be the one to make the move.”
Inumaki’s anger dissipates as he stares at Yuuta, looking oddly reminiscent of himself as a first year. Small, nervous, and withdrawn.
“I’d never do that to someone but…Yuuji probably wants to be loved. We all do, right?” Yuuta says, his small smile almost bitter.
Inumaki is at a loss for words.
Yuuta just sighs and grabs his phone. “It's late, you should go to bed.”
Inumaki blinks and shakes his head but Yuuta ignores it.
“Goodnight Inumaki.” He says, hanging up immediately after.
Inumaki sinks into his computer chair, feeling a heavy and sad pain in his chest.
What did Yuuta mean by all of that…
That question kept him up and staring at his phone for the next four days. Yuuta hadn’t texted or called at all.
It wasn't unusual since he was so busy doing god knows what over there but Inumaki had gotten at least one text a day since he’d been gone.
He's avoiding me… or giving me the silent treatment.
Either way, the pit in his stomach felt like it grew bigger and bigger every day.
It made him anxious... he could hardly sleep or eat, it was driving him a little crazy. Inumaki may like to prank and joke but he hates truly upsetting his friends.
He doesn’t have many to be gambling with anyway. But upsetting Yuuta , the sweetest boy in the history of ever probably... felt even worse.
Inumaki dared not even consider something worse had happened…something that made Yuuta unable to respond… It sent a chill up his spine and made him dizzy, so he tries to ignore it.
He thought he was doing a good job of trying not to show how stressed he was. until...
“You look like shit.” Maki says when he joins her on Friday for an early morning mission. Gojo is a sick liar.
He barely has the energy to glare at her. He'd slept a pitiful and uneasy two hours.
Maki and Nitta-san thankfully filled the car with idle chatter about that band Maki had gone with Nobara to see. Apparently she really liked them too now.
Inumaki just sat with his head rattling quietly against the glass of the window.
He moved almost on autopilot behind Maki and her Naginata in the halls of the old office building.
A few second grades had been halting demolition, nothing too crazy. Inumaki is thankful for this, considering he’s practically half asleep.
“ Tch , why’d you even come if I was going to do all the work? I haven’t heard a word from you.” Maki says after the third cursed spirit.
Inumaki shrugs, walking out of the room.
“It's not fun being mean to you when you don’t fight back. Are you okay?” she asks, falling in step with him quickly as they rounded the corner.
“Boy troubles?” she wiggles her brows but Inumaki pales.
“No way, what happened?” she asks.
Inumaki rolls his eyes before something flies out of a room into the hallway.
Inumaki moves to stand in front of Maki and block his head as debris and concrete fly everywhere.
“Takana?” he asks, looking behind him. Maki looks relatively unaffected as the large curse in front of them stands.
It looks almost like a dripping puddle of trash, brown black and even green spots all over its lumpy body with water or something dripping from its mouth and body. It's gross .
Maki doesn’t say anything or wait for direction, they’ve gone on enough missions to have this down.
“Don’t move.” Inumaki says just as Maki runs in and stabs it through the middle and slices through the top of its head.
It flings everywhere, it almost looks like mud or clay. It doesn’t mold back together but as Maki falls back, it swings its arm and catches her leg, knocking her back into the wall with a harsh thud.
“Melt.” What’s left of the curse begins to melt away rapidly into the floor. The curse’s screams and cries slowly die out into silence by the time Inumaki reaches Maki.
“T-takana?” Inumaki’s voice is a little hoarse but Maki nods anyway. She was already getting up before he got there.
He hands her back her Naginata and she nods.
“I’m fine, you have medicine?”
He pats his front pocket.
“Are you going to tell me what’s wrong now? Before we get ambushed again?” Inumaki tries to walk away but Maki grabs his arm. “You are so stubborn.”
“This isn’t about me, you freak.” she glares but lets go of him.
They walk back down the hallway to the stairwell in silence. Inumaki feels even worse. Maki doesn’t even try to talk to him or Nitta-san the whole ride back.
All I do is upset people… he thinks bitterly, squeezing his eyes shut as the car parks and they have to get out.
Inumaki stays a tad too long in the backseat, willing this guilt to go away.
The door on the other side swings open again and Inumaki whips his head up to see Maki getting back in the backseat with the car keys in her hand.
She doesn’t say anything for a second until she sighs and looks at him seriously.
“Look, I’m only going to say this once. We’re friends. So whatever is wrong you can tell me. I know…I know what it’s like keeping everything in. It sucks.” she says with a sigh and Inumaki thinks he might be hallucinating.
This cannot be Maki.
She smacks his arm.
“Don’t look at me like that. What is wrong with you? You make it really hard to be nice!” Maki says, raising her voice. “Whatever, there I said it, now I can move on. Bye.” she says, grabbing the door handle.
She turns back, looking bored.
“Start talking then.”
Inumaki begins to tell her about the Facetime call... what Yuuta had said and how he didn’t know how to respond so he stayed silent.
“So you think he’s mad at you for that?” Inumaki nods. “You’re an idiot.”
“Your first mistake is thinking Yuuta could be mad at you. He's probably embarrassed to have said something so…personal.”
Inumaki nods slowly. That does sound like Yuuta .
“What I don’t get is why he’d say that if you two are dating.”
He hadn’t even thought about that when he’d told her.
He curses himself out in his head. He can feel her gloating look.
And sure enough, when he looks up, Maki has her chin resting in her palm as she smirks at him.
“Tell me why that is.”
Inumaki rolls his eyes.
‘No, we’re not dating. I lied because you got on my nerves.’
“First of all, you’re the annoying one. Second of all, I knew it.”
“Trust, there was no hiding it from me.”
Inumaki blinks but Maki waves her hand.
“I’ll tell you another time. The point here is you’re annoyingly over-dramatic. Communication goes a long way.” she says, smacking his forehead.
Inumaki falls back against his seat and rubs at the area. Maki snickers.
‘Did Nobara teach you all this?’
“See there you go, pushing me. It’s your fault I bully you, honestly.” she grabs at the door again and swings it open.
“Now get out, I have to give these keys back to Nitta-san.”
Inumaki obeys and Maki locks the car up right after.
“My advice for you is to talk to him. Yuuta’s an idiot and so are you. So talking is the best way to solve your stupid little problems.”
Inumaki sighs but nods.
He doesn't like admitting Maki is right, but she’s right. He’d only know how Yuuta felt if he asked.
Maki swings the car keys around her index finger as they walk to the common room. Loud voices are coming from the room, piquing both of their attentions.
“Oi, what are you guys so-“ Maki stops dead in her tracks as she turns into the room.
Inumaki walks in right after her and his breath catches in his throat.
There in the middle of the room, with a wide smile and a flush to his cheeks, about 8 inches taller than he used to be with longer black hair but a familiar white shirt... stood Okkotsu Yuuta.
“Ah you two finally made it back!” Gojo says from a spot on the couch behind Yuuta and Yuuji, who stood right next to the second year and seemed to be talking a mile a minute.
Megumi, off to the side, looked so embarrassed.
Nobara sat on the couch too and Panda was next to Yuuta.
“Jesus, you’re tall now. What were they feeding you?” Maki asks in disbelief as Yuuta approaches them.
He gives her a nervous chuckle and Inumaki feels his arms break out in goosebumps. It sounds deeper than on facetime .
“Inumaki?” Yuuta blinks.
“I said hi and sorry I didn’t text you! I was worried I’d blow the whole surprise.” he said, rubbing at the back of his neck.
Inumaki just nods and Maki snorts.
“My god, I'm going to have to deal with this now.” she says before walking off to Nobara.
“We ordered lunch Maki-san!” Inumaki hears the first year tell her.
“It's sushi, Nobara insisted.” Yuuta says to him with a smile.
‘She just wanted sushi.’
“Yeah, but it’s good,” he shrugs. “Did you want some? I can get you a plate.” Inumaki waves his hands.
“Okaka, takana.” he tells him.
“It's no trouble, plus I already know which ones are good! It’ll be one second!” Yuuta says before walking into the kitchen.
Inumaki smiles underneath his collar.
I’m so glad he’s not upset with me.
“Aw, Okkotsu-senpai is a really sweet guy!” Yuuji says, appearing next to Inumaki.
The second year blinks.
How do I keep forgetting that , he asks himself. Everyone here thought they were still dating.
“He’s a little… I don’t know, intense? He just has a presence.” Yuuji says and Inumaki nods. Yuuta’s endless cursed energy tends to fill the room.
“And the way he looks at you...” Yuuji says with a small nudge to his shoulder.
“Tuna?” Yuuji looks confused but nods anyway.
“Y-yeah, I mean when you walked into the room it was like you had all his attention immediately. He must really like you--”
“Okay, so I got a little bit of everything and extras of the things that I like. I figured it was okay to share the plate.” Yuuta says approaching them.
Yuuji waves them both goodbye, going to find Megumi who has likely retreated back to his room after saying hello and grabbing some food.
Inumaki nods, grabbing a roll off the plate and taking a bite.
He notices Yuuta staring the whole time.
Intense…that’s pretty accurate.
Inumaki looks back up into Yuuta’s teal eyes.
Yuuta seems to exhale a breath he’d been holding for a while before nodding.
“Can we talk?” he asks quietly, like he’s nervous and doesn’t want anyone else to hear.
Inumaki nods but before they can say anything else, Panda is pulling Yuuta into some story Gojo was telling about when he went to visit him, which quickly became the Yuuta story time hour.
Inumaki didn’t mind though, he’d listen to Yuuta talk for hours, especially if he looked this happy.
“Says you and Okkotsu-senpai.”
Inumaki thinks he’s beginning to understand now what Megumi had meant.
It's not until hours later, when the sun is setting, that Gojo and Panda make their leave. Inumaki and Yuuta wave them goodbye but neither of them move.
“I have to tell you something.”
Inumaki doesn’t like how serious that sounds but nods anyway, sitting on the couch next to the boy rather than across from him like he was before.
“I…I kind of lied earlier,”
Inumaki blinks twice, he hadn’t been expecting this.
“I mean it wasn’t really a lie, I did find out that day I was coming back, and I didn’t want to spoil it but also…I was really embarrassed.”
Yuuta sighs, with his face in his palms as he shakes his head.
“Inumaki… Toge ,”
Inumaki’s eyes widen as he watches Yuuta slowly peek at him from between his hands.
“I like you, I mean I really like you. I have since our first mission together probably. I thought this prank wouldn’t be a big deal, but I realized it kept getting my hopes up and I felt guilty.” Yuuta rambled for a little and Inumaki sat in silence.
He…he actually likes me?
He had been hearing it for months but until Yuuta had sat down right now and told him, Inumaki didn’t let himself dream that to be true.
He didn’t get good things, so why not avoid the disappointment altogether? Maybe that’s why Maki’s jokes and digs stung a bit more than they should have.
“Yuuji probably wants to be loved. We all do right?”
Inumaki craved love, something he didn’t get a lot of as a cursed child.
He was all alone before he came to this school and then he met Yuuta and he craved something more.
But he ignored it and pushed it away, writing off the quickness of his heart anytime the shy boy looked his way.
He didn’t want to be greedy.
“If I made you uncomfortable I can leave... I’m sorry, I just had to get this off my chest.” Yuuta speaks and Inumaki nearly jumps, honestly forgetting he’d left him hanging.
Yuuta stands from the couch and Inumaki panics, grabbing his wrist and yanking him back down. Yuuta falls into the couch with a thud and they’re much closer now but neither look away.
“Okaka.” Inumaki says, slowly letting go of his wrist that sat in between them.
‘Guilty?’ Inumaki signs and Yuuta drops the eye contact.
“I…I told you right? I’d never saddle someone with all my baggage. But every time we talked I just kept thinking it was like we were really dating…that it’d be so easy. But it’s not. I’m not. I mean, what boy also comes with his dead ex-girlfriend?” he tries to ask like it’s a joke but Inumaki sees the restlessness in his eyes. He's really worried over this .
“I stuck myself with Rika, with everything that comes with this. You shouldn’t have to be.”
“Okaka.” Inumaki glares.
‘You can’t just decide that for me. You deserve love too, Yuuta.’
Yuuta just stares at him. He looks fragile.
He may look different and older but he’s still that same boy Inumaki remembers cowering if anyone looked at him too long.
“What good has my love ever done?” he breathes quietly and the way he also looks shocked tells Inumaki it was a slip, something he was probably thinking.
“Look, can we get to the part where you reject me, this is getting pretty em-“
Yuuta's words are cut off by Inumaki's chapstick-covered lips on his own slightly dry ones (he bites them when he’s nervous, which is all the time).
Yuuta feels like time has stopped... he can’t even feel his own heartbeat.
Inumaki is pressed firmly against his lips with both hands on his face, like he’s trying to say something. Thankfully, Yuuta has always excelled at understanding him.
He relaxes and the kiss becomes a proper one when Yuuta presses back, his hand wrapped around Inumaki’s on his cheek.
The kiss lacks rhythm and the positioning is a bit off, but their enthusiasm makes up for it. The soft slide of Inumaki's lips as he pulls away for a small huff of breath before attaching their lips again, the way Yuuta chases him each time…it all says so much.
“Oh god, can’t I get a drink around here without being assaulted?” The two boys jump apart and look over their shoulder to see Nobara walking into the kitchen.
Yuuta stutters, his cheeks impossibly red.
Inumaki chuckles, his own cheeks warm.
“Well…okay wow. This turned out better than I hoped. Toge,”
Inumaki nods immediately.
“Will you be my boyfriend? for real this time.”
Inumaki taps his finger on his chin and Yuuta’s smile falls just a little before he rolls his eyes and nods.
Yuuta pulls him into a hug and Inumaki finds himself melting against him as his arms grip the back of his shirt.
“I know it’s late but I’m like…wide awake. Do you want to watch a movie or something?” Yuuta asks.
Inumaki nods, grabbing his phone to see the time.
“Is your lock screen a picture of me?” Yuuta asks with a smug grin.
Inumaki holds his phone close to his chest.
“Oh, so it’s just your other black-haired, blue-eyed sorcerer friend who wears a white shirt just like mine and has-“ Inumaki shoves his hand over Yuuta’s mouth with a playful glare. He can feel the grin under his hands.
Yuuta moves Inumaki’s hands away with ease, bringing one of them up to his lips for a soft kiss pressed against his palm.
Inumaki’s eyes widen at that.
“Seriously, let me see the picture, I have to know if it’s a good one.”