Even at the tender age of 11, Yuuji has already been met with more loss than others.
When he was 3, both of his parents had been met with a fatal accident leaving him alone and an orphan. He would have very likely stayed that way if not for the assistance of his grandfather.
And now he too was gone.
Wasuke had tried his best to live for Yuuji’s sake despite battling with his old age and ever wavering body. And while his never ending perseverance gave him a few extra years, it hadn’t been enough to see Yuuji through childhood. And now, once again, Yuuji was alone with no one to call for help.
Wasuke had been a rather harsh man when he was still alive, leaving him with little friends and fewer acquaintances. Distant family members were, well, distant. Yuuji hardly knew anyone else besides his parents and his grandpa. Having felt no obligation to take Yuuji in, they (his aunt and her husband) helped to pay for the cremation bills and left Yuuji to become a ward of the state.
Yuuji thinks that they couldn’t possibly do that to him. That there must be a rule against leaving a child purely because one didn’t wish to take care of them, but he’s proven false when he’s driven away from his house and everything he knew.
It had happened so suddenly that, as Yuuji lays on his bunk bed in the small dark room of the orphanage that he shared with 5 other children, he is still unable to fully comprehend what has happened to him.
To him, it had only felt like a few days ago that he was playing in the yard of their house as his grandpa watched him play, sipping his tea and yelling at him to be careful. The memories were still fresh and vivid in his mind, not yet replaced with the pallid and grey face of his grandfather on his deathbed. Yuuji hopes that his memories never get replaced. He only wants to remember his grandpa at his fullest; bright and full of exasperated affection disguised as annoyance.
Yuuji rolls over on his small bed to lay on his side, curling and wrapping his arms around himself in a mock embrace. The last proper hug he had gotten was the sad pitying one from his aunt, who despite embracing him, had felt cold and the hug itself had barely felt like a hug at all. Thinking about his aunt has him feeling frustrated and confused. Confused at how she could so easily express guilt when she was the one sending him away. Yuuji wants to cry and scream, at her and the world but he had already done the former and was dried of tears while the latter was impossible unless he wanted to gain the ire of the matron and all the other children at the orphanage.
Yuuji sighs internally. He couldn’t even mourn for his grandfather like he wanted to.
A part of him knows that his grandpa wouldn’t have wanted him to cry and grieve over his death for longer than necessary, but his grandpa also didn’t think that Yuuji would end up alone and hopeless in an orphanage either. Yuuji misses him so much that it hurts to even think of him in passing, but Yuuji resists the urge to cry because his grandpa should at least get that. Yuuji would be strong for him, to live like his grandpa would’ve wanted him to.
Rapid knocking on the door shocks him out of his stupor. It was around 10 am and Yuuji had wondered just how much longer he could stay in his room before someone came to get him. All the other children he shared his room with had left for breakfast at 7 earlier, but he had refused to join them, unable to muster any energy to leave his bed. He guesses that he had found his answer as the matron barges into the room despite having gotten no response from him.
“Get up. You’re late for breakfast and I refuse to have you miss lunch,” she says sternly. Walking over to his bunk she stands over him and waits. There are several different matrons helping to tend to the children at the orphanage, some were nice and some were not mean, but definitely stern. This was one of them.
Yuuji wants to stay a little longer, to curl back up into a fetal position and gather all the warmth he was missing. But he didn’t want any trouble so instead, he slowly pulls himself away from the blanket and pillow and heaved himself onto his feet. Before he even thinks about leaving the room, he makes sure to tidy his bed and put things back as they were before; just like he had been taught when he first got there.
The matron continues to stare at him as he does his task before a sad almost pitying frown mares her face. “Yuuji,” she begins, voice low almost as if she was hesitating to ask. “I know this is hard for you. It’s hard for everyone in your position, but it’ll get better. I promise.” She tries her best to placate him, to give him a sense of ease. He’s thankful for that, he really is.
“Thank you,” he says softly, giving her a soft smile in return. “I was just a little tired this morning.” Thankfully, his words seem to work from the way she smiles back at him.
Yuuji wishes his words were true, that her words were true as well, but anyone with any brain could tell that it was all just false pretense. For the entire month that he had been at the orphanage rumors were overheard. They ran rampant throughout the children, young and old. Gossip about how no one truly left, that those who went into foster homes always found themselves abused, taken in only because of the stipend the government gave them. How, at the end of it all they would all be aged out, homeless and unloved. Yuuji doesn’t know how much of this is true and how much of it was exaggerated lies (though aren’t all lies just twisted forms of a truth?) but he keeps on his toes, ready to take action if ever need be.
When he finishes with his bed the matron takes his hand and urges him downstairs to the dining hall. Breakfast had ended hours ago so he was surprised to see a small bowl of oats waiting for him. His shock must have been evident on his face because the matron gives a small awkward laugh.
“Technically you’re supposed to eat breakfast at breakfast time, but I made an exception since you're new.”
Yuuji is grateful and he thanks her for her consideration.
After consuming his portion of oats, he wanders outside to where all the other children are. The orphanage was fairly small here in Sendai, totalling to only about 30 children altogether. The orphanage was temporary for the most part, made for newer orphans waiting to get adopted or put into a foster family. The older children who were in their teens were usually problem children of some kind who got sent back, but everyone knew that wasn’t the case. What reason would a person have to act out if the family was kind and caring?
Yuuji on the other hand would soon meet his social worker in a week's time, and maybe, but most likely, he’ll be put into a foster family within a few days. Yuuji doesn’t want to go. Doesn’t want to have a new ‘family’ who he’ll never connect with; one unrelated by blood because he doesn’t yet understand the meaning of found family. To him, family is someone who would care for him, unbridled by obligations and moral ‘duties’. His aunt and uncle should have been such an example, but they hadn’t cared for him and his person, so the only family Yuuji had and had ever known was his grandfather. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t hope for it because if anything, Yuuji wishes with all of his might that one day he’ll be loved. Unconditionally. Wholeheartedly.
But he had already had that before. He had been loved unconditionally and wholeheartedly by his grandfather, so why did he have to lose the one precious thing in his life and search for it again?
Fate was cruel.
By the time lunch rolls around, Yuuji is still just as exhausted as he’d been earlier. He’d spent most of his time watching the other children play and despite wanting to join in on the fun, his anxieties told him that he would be a bother. A month may have been a long time at the orphanage, but many of the children had been with each other far longer and created bonds that even Yuuji could not penetrate. Not that he tried very hard of course. He had done his best to make friends, but he was never one to pry if he wasn’t wanted.
One of the matrons, a fairly young and new one from her fresh face and happy disposition, calls for the children to get ready for lunch.
As the rest of the children slowly head back in, Yuuji takes his time, not entirely excited to rush something he wasn’t interested in. His meal from earlier hadn’t yet fully digested and he still felt full. If he had to though, based on good manners taught to him, he would make sure to finish his meal. But before he can get up from where he is, the matron who woke him up earlier comes rushing towards him.
“Yuuji!” She calls out, a strange urgency in her voice that he remembers vaguely hearing once when a small orphan girl got her hair caught in a standing fan. They had had to cut it off once they figured that it was too tangled. She had cried for days.
Yuuji hopes that whatever was plaguing the matron wouldn’t cause him to cry nor lose his locks because he very much appreciates his hair.
Twirling a small strand of his hair anxiously, Yuuhi stands up and waits for the older women to reach him. When she does, she takes a hold of his hand and eagerly begins pulling him back into the building.
“Am I in trouble?” He asks, still not understanding what was happening to him and why the matron, who he previously thought was worried, was so excited.
The matron doesn’t stop in her pulling but does take a moment to apologetically glance back. “Oh my gosh,” she says, abashed as if she had only realized what she’d done. “Sorry about that Yuuji. It’s just,” she pauses, excitement uncontrollable that she has to take a moment to calm down. “You’re getting adopted!”
Yuuji halts to a stop and freezes.
He can barely hear anything around him, an echoing chamber where voices are too loud to make out replaces it instead. Adopted? Him? Doubt and worry are the biggest emotions coursing through him, but a small flicker of hope sparks too.
“Who,” he asks softly and for a moment he almost thinks he wasn’t loud enough but she replies,
“A distant relative of yours.”
The spark inside of him is like a trembling flame. Growing big, unsure if it wanted to grow strong or if it wanted to fade into nothing.
A distant relative could mean a multitude of different things. It could mean that they wanted to be family and help him, maybe even honor his grandfather. But that was exactly the problem. Did they want to honor his grandfather because they felt obligated or did they want to help him because he was Yuuji? Small, defenseless Yuuji, who only had himself to offer.
Yuuji wants to believe, but does he dare to?
The matron continues to pull him and as she talks, most of her words fall out of Yuuji’s ears. And just as suddenly as the news of being adopted had come, he was already in front of the entrance of the head matron’s office before he knew it.
Beyond the door would be his future. Or rather, beyond the door was the unknown, for who could ever know their future?
The matron beside him lets go of his hand and knocks on the mahogany doors gently.
“Come in,” replies the voice of the head matron, older but not weaker despite the matron’s harrowing age.
Yuuji waits for the matron to step in first before following after. The first thing he sees upon entering the room is the shock of shell-pink hair, just a shade darker than his own. The second, is the striking contrast of the dark tattoos that show from his rolled-up sleeves, showing also the large muscles of his forearm. Sitting on the cushioned chair across from the head matron’s desk is a man dressed in a dark suit, pressed and absent of any wrinkles. And by the way the man crossed his long legs and seemed impossibly large in the chair he sat in, Yuuji knew that if he were to stand up, he would tower beyond anyone else in the room.
When the man turns his gaze toward Yuuji, the shocking blue-grey eyes that stare back at him have him flinching slightly in shock. The man’s fierce gaze softens as he calls out to him.
“Yuuji,” he whispers tenderly as if Yuuji were already someone he cherished and loved.
Shivering at the pressure and magnanimous presence of the man before him, Yuuji nervously shuffles, flushing lightly as he stares at the ground.
“Hello,” he says back, peeking through his eyelashes to catch a glimpse of the man softly smiling back at him. Yuuji is immediately taken by the sight of such a man smiling at him, heart skipping a beat as he shyly smiles back.
A moment passes between them before the head matron interrupts.
“Good. You’re here Yuuji. This is mister Ryoumen Sukuna, he’s recently just learned of your situation and has come to take you in.”
Yuuji takes a moment to taste the name with his tongue, whispering the name inside his head to remember before turning to look at the older woman. A part of him is enraptured by Sukuna, but another part of him still needs answers before he’s left with who was essentially a stranger. “Not to be rude, but who is he?” Yuuji turns to gauge Sukuna's reaction because he really doesn't mean to offend, but thankfully Sukuna looks anything but offended. Rather he appears understanding and perhaps even, sad? Yuuji’s gut wrenches at the sight.
The head matron looks as if she wants to chastise him for his ill-mannered question, but Sukuna raises his hand to stop her. She flinches back into her seat.
“It must be a lot to take in,” he says.
Yuuji nods lightly as confirmation, gaining a light chuckle from the man. The warm fluttery feeling in his chest is back once again.
“I’m sure you’ve been told that I’m a distant relative, but to put it more precisely. I’m your uncle, first removed. Or more simply, I’m your grandfather’s sister's son.” He gives another deep chuckle at the sight of Yuuji’s confused face. “It’s okay, you can just call me uncle.”
Yuuji softly smiles at him, before growing a bit somber. “Why,” he pauses. “Why didn’t you come sooner?” Why wasn’t he there at grandpa’s funeral? Why wasn’t he there when the social workers took him away from the house he and grandpa had shared? The house that he grew up in, spending every waking moment with people he loved?
Sukuna looks guilty as he replies, “You must know, Yuuji. I’m a very busy man. But that doesn’t excuse me not coming for you sooner, I’m sorry,” he apologizes, and who was Yuuji to hold it against him?
“I forgive you,” he says, confidently to make sure that Sukuna knows. Knows that Yuuji doesn’t intend to harbor any ill feelings against him for taking a while to get to him. Sukuna smiles softly back at him.
“Thank you,” he says.
A sharp cough from the head matron brings their attention back to the matter at hand. “Well, know that everyone is all caught up. Mister Ryoumen, here are the paperworks that needs to be signed by both you and Yuuji.” She slides a few pieces of paper across her table.
Sukuna rises from his seat and just as Yuuji had expected, he easily towered over him and the head matron if she had been standing. Yuuji has to crane his head in order to look at Sukuna and with the man standing, the broad shoulders of his back and chest are clearly visible, a sight Yuuji may or may not have admired for a little more than he had intended to.
Sukuna takes a pen from out of his pockets and swiftly glances over the documents before signing his name. Turning to Yuuji, he holds out his pen.
Yuuji gently grabs the pen, their fingers softly brushing before Yuuji quickly pulls away, flushed and a little sweaty with the way his chest rapidly beats in his chest. Yuuji tries his best to skim the document but most of the letters go right past his head but he signs the paper either way, putting his trust in Sukuna’s hands. Which had looked so large and strong and elegant from the way he had ever so flawlessly written his name.
Handing the pen back to Sukuna, Yuuji slides his paperwork towards the head matron. She checks the paper and gives a small nod.
“Congratulations, Yuuji,” she says with a professional smile. “You’ve been officially adopted.”
Yuuji turns back to face Sukuna, clutching on the hem of his shirt. Sukuna beckons for him to come closer, so Yuuji does. Meanwhile, the head matron discreetly leaves the room to leave them some privacy.
Kneeling down to Yuuji’s height which had barely come up to Sukuna’s waist, Sukuna lightly places a large palm on top of Yuuji’s pink tresses and strokes his head.
“Shall we go home, Yuuji?”
Just as the dawn made way for a new day, Yuuji’s own future was starting to change. Sad, he thinks of the life he shared with his grandfather and gathers his courage. He didn’t have to forget his grandfather in order to move on. Instead, he would take the chance of happiness that was being given to him by this caring and kind man before him. The chance of having a new life with Sukuna.
A warm sensation passes through Yuuji’s body as he bashfully replies.