Nobara finds herself standing in the middle of the first-year dormitories' hallway, barefoot toes curling up into a cramp over the freezing wooden floors. It's well past midnight; probably somewhere around 2:15AM in the morning - though she hadn't bothered to check her alarm clock in the dark before she'd left her cold-ass room to take the stairs down to the first floor of the dormitories where the boys were.

Her boys.

"This is stupid," she mutters under her breath, fists tucked into her armpits and shoulders hiking higher up around her ears. She should have learnt her lesson - she always wakes up around this time to make the transfer.

"Fuuuck, it's so cold." Nobara swears she can see her breath rise up in a fog of translucent white, illuminated by the soft light coming in through the windows. A glance through the glass proves the moon full and bright - exquisitely round and far away. "They better have warmed up the bed."

The thick comforter around her shoulders begins to slip, and she shrugs it up, elbows tucking in to conserve heat. The ends of her thick pajama pants drag across the floor, soft shuffles echoing down the hall. It would be creepy to live here on her own...

The thought of a warm bed banishes the encroaching thought.

Nobara snuffles loudly, the cold in the dorm making the tip of her nose ache. She barely pauses in between the divide to Fushiguro and Itadori's rooms because she knows that it's more likely to be Itadori's. It's always been his, anyway: his idea first, his invitation first, his room first, his bed first, and his warmth first.

She and Fushiguro can't help but follow.

Nobara turns the handle to Itadori's room with a blanket-covered hand. The metal is chilly through the fabric, but she's thankful for the small relief of stepping onto carpet soon after. In the dark, the little green carpet they'd gotten the last time they went shopping together was a brackish, murky colour. Her bare feet, pale and almost the colour of the moon, stand out stark against its plushness.

In the far corner of the room, two bodies are pressed together on Itadori's bed, tucked up tight and radiating warmth. She can already taste the toastiness.

Her knees knock against the frame of the bed when she approaches partially blind in the darkness. It takes her all of two seconds to make out the boundaries of the bodies melded together into one indistinct shape under the covers.

"Hey," Nobara says, lifting her foot to kick Fushiguro in the back of his thigh. Her voice is gruff from aborted sleep. "You're in my spot."

"Grnf," Fushiguro grunts, slowly craning his neck back to flash her a glare. "Really?" He asks, as incredulous as he can make it through the sleep-muteness. He presses his face back into Itadori's shoulder and tries to ignore her, the prick. "I already-" a yawn- "warmed up this spot. Just take Itadori's other side."

"No way, this is my side of the bed," Nobara argues, giving a flurry of swift kicks to his thigh again. Harder, this time, of course.

Her spot is always on the left side of the bed - Itadori's left. Away from the cold expanse of the wall. Fushiguro knows this, but just refuses to acknowledge it. One of his hands snakes out of the covers to half-assedly bat at her shin when her attacks connect. "Fuck, stop-"

"Guys," Itadori finally lifts his head, brows furrowed but face otherwise serene for someone being jostled awake at 2:30 in the morning by second-hand kicks. His eyes are practically glued shut, but he pries them open to give each of them a look. "This is my bed - you don't have a side. Just get in or I'll kick you both out. Fushiguro, can you move onto my other arm? This one's starting to go numb." He stretches out his left hand and clenches it a few times to get the blood flowing back into it. His way of mediating.

With a triumphant grin inappropriate for this time of night, Nobara watches as Fushiguro grumbles, but still rouses enough to slide over Itadori, body heavy and moves sluggish. The action drags the two blankets - dark blue and vivid red - along with him, and Nobara pauses to fix them before she layers her own blanket over top, cherry-blossom pink swallowing the other two hues. No way was she letting Fushiguro be a blanket hog again.

Nobara pauses with a foot on the mattress. She blinks, then curses, "Shit, I forgot to bring my pillow." Hell had already frozen over, but she still wasn't gonna go all the way back upstairs just for her pillow. She'll just share Itadori's.

"Scoot," she demands after a click of her tongue, pressing an insistent palm to Itadori's shoulder and then to his back until he gets the message and rolls over, shuffling forward a bit to bracket Fushiguro now on his other side.

She slides under the covers and presses her front to Itadori's back, spooning him; the large patch of skin where his top has ridden up warms the area near her belly, a touch hotter than the heat coming through his shirt and sweater combo. Slung over Itadori's waist, Fushiguro's forearm presses into her rib cage. She manages to get her own arm in between their chests, jostling all of them in the process. They need to readjust - Fushiguro lifts his arm and drapes it over her too, arm and fingers long enough to half-clutch at the hem of her fuzzy sweater at the small of her back.

"Haahhh, it's so warm," she sighs long in relief. Their shared body warmth washes over her all at once, and then filters in gradually - filling in the gaps of heat that the winter night had left her bereft of. Nobara buries her chilled nose into the crook of Itadori's neck and he shirks for a second, but relaxes when she finally settles in. He smells like tangerines and sweat. Fushiguro left behind the scent of mint. The black parts of Itadori's undercut have grown long enough to tickle the inside of her nostrils when she breathes in. Their limbs are folded and cramped together in this bed that's definitely not made for three people-

But it's comfortable.

"You're cold," Itadori grouses, voice low and sleepy. His lips stick together when he talks.

"You took my warmth," Fushiguro complains in an equally grumpy voice. It doesn't mean much to her. Their voices warm her in a way that their body heat can't.

"D'you think they'll have the heater fixed soon?" She asks, ignoring their grumbling. She shudders when the comfort of a heated bed sinks into the marrow of her bones.

"Mm, not likely," Fushiguro hums, voice muffled when he adjusts his head over Itadori's arm and stuffs his face further into the chest in front of him. He slings a leg over Itadori's hip, and his knee knocks into her side.

"Ow," she says, tone bland.


It hadn't hurt - her hip bones are sturdy. Plus, she was used to being thrown around and roughed up a bit now. Courtesy of her gaggle of second-year senpai – in particular, Panda-senpai.

Still, as retribution, she pushes her leg in between Itadori's and wiggles her cold toes between their calves. Fushiguro groans at the cold and Itadori just rumbles out a slightly displeased note, shifting a little to get readjusted to their combined weight before melting back into the mattress.

"Your toes are fucking freezing," one of them says. Nobara can't really tell who. They sound the same: a muffled kind of teenage-boy-just-woke-up sexy. She doesn't think they're sexy.

"I know," she replies anyway.

"It's been a month already since you guys've been coming into my room. I dunno if they're gonna fix the heater like this." Like this being the solution they had collectively come to: leeching off Itadori's abnormally high body temperature every night. "You should complain about it to principal Yaga or something, not just come to me."

"We have," Nobara and Fushiguro say together, voices overlapping.

Itadori chuckles at their combined deadpan and the movement ripples through them like concentric waves spreading out over water from the middle of a lake. It's a nice sound. Nobara doesn't mention that she likes the ripples, nor the way they reverberate through her chest.

"Then we should sign a petition," Itadori says. Over the bulky hill of his shoulder, she sees the way his breath moves Fushiguro's hair.

A scoff. "Who's going to sign it?" Fushiguro asks dryly. "There's only the three of us in this dorm. All the upperclassmen are out."

"That's the best part," Itadori cheers sleepily, grin pressed into the crown of Fushiguro's head. Nobara feels it when Itadori's arms tighten around Fushiguro, giving him a little squeeze that gets his breath to leave him like a squeaky toy without the squeak. "That's all of us! So if we all sign it, they definitely have to fix the heater."

"I dunno, it costs a lot to heat the whole building," muses Nobara. "I can see why they'd skimp on a few costs if it's only the three of us. Doesn't make them less shitty for leaving us to freeze to death, though." She closes her eyes and listens to the way Fushiguro takes in a breath that's missing and the way it's echoed through Itadori's body; his chest expands on the deep breath in. She lets out that same breath with them. They're all breathing in sync.

"I don't think they're short on cash..." Fushiguro doesn't give any further explanation. Instead, he arches his back a little and they hear his spine pop twice, deep and hollow.

"Ooh, that sounded good," Itadori says at the same time Nobara mutters, "Gross."

They end up laughing together, low and drowsy, and their ripples start to overlap. Nobara thinks that this is her favourite sound. Her favourite sensation.

They fall silent after that, and sleep starts to creep up on them. Only-

" 'Mm hot," Itadori mumbles, "water."

He turns to look over his shoulder at Nobara, and she huffs when his slight shift lets a little bit of heat escape from under the covers; she feels it waft up in a wave of warm air against her neck.

Reluctantly, Nobara sticks an arm out into the freezing cold to slap at Itadori's nightstand, searching blindly for his water bottle. She almost knocks it over too, but snags it off the wooden surface before it falls. She nudges the cool plastic against his cheek. "Nn."

"Thanks," Itadori says, dragging his body to sit up. He disentangles his arms from around Fushiguro to do so, and the other looks as if he'd just been robbed in broad daylight.

Nobara watches under heavy eyelids as Fushiguro curls up in Itadori's lap instead, brow pressed into his hip and frown back on his face. She understands the feeling. Her arm lies limply across Itadori's legs, hand brushing the underside of Fushiguro's jaw, fingers loose and curled naturally. She flexes them to give Fushiguro a little tap at his chin. He looks back at her with green eyes turned ocean-trench blue in the moonlight and his eyebrows unknot themselves from the middle of his face.

They're all sweaty. When Itadori leans over her to put away his water bottle, his side presses into her face briefly and the mattress behind her head dips where he puts his hand. Nobara notes distantly that his sweater's fallen back down over his lower back and the fabric smells like the common soap they use for their laundry. This is what it means to belong, she thinks hazily, a fleeting thought in the middle of the night when she's weighed down with sleep that's still too far from her reach.

Itadori lies back down, and Fushiguro and Nobara prime themselves to get back into the same position as before. Itadori makes a token complaint, so they take the time to shift as far away from each other as they can get in the tiny bed. They don't get very far, but it's enough for Nobara to stick her foot out of the blanket, back-to-back with Itadori.

Fushiguro moves to withdraw his hand from where he'd tentatively encircled both her and Itadori, but she catches him by the fingers before he can, pressing his palm over her bare belly and intertwining their fingers – one by one – overlapping callouses and rough surfaces until they lock together.

"Kugisaki, it's hot," he says instead of a proper protest against the fact that she's trapped him flush to Itadori's front again. Fushiguro's fingers twitch against her stomach, perhaps a little meanly, and her belly collapses and spasms hummingbird-quick at the ticklish sensation.

"Yeah, well I'm cold," Nobara lies. Fushiguro knows it too - can feel the dampness of her skin. He doesn't complain further. Just sighs that put-upon sound he uses whenever she or Gojo-sensei were being particularly selfish.

Nobara thinks it's a little unfair - he doesn't make that sigh for Itadori often. And Itadori himself could stand to be a bit more selfish, too; Fushiguro would forgive him for a lot more. In fact, Fushiguro's always had an unfair bias for Itadori. It's grossly discriminatory – he doesn't sigh when Itadori drags him across the compound to show him something that would otherwise be commonplace to a sorcerer, doesn't sigh when he asks too many obvious questions about jujutsu techniques, or takes too long to exorcise a curse, or wants to watch movies and pretend at being normal for 2 hours.

Fushiguro doesn't sigh for all those things and more – merely nods in a disgustingly sincere way and agrees to whatever Itadori wants to do.

…It still doesn't feel like enough, though. Itadori could ask them for more.

Could ask to hold their hands when he's scared, or fall into a hug when he's seeing the red on his hands, or complain about the training when his body near refuses to move.

He could simply ask, and they would give it to him.

But he doesn't.

Nobara's eyes water. There are some nights – nights like these, where their bodies are crammed close with sedated amity under freezing moonlight – that make Nobara doubt. She doesn't feel normal on nights like these.

Of course, there's nothing normal about their lives in the first place. They're sorcerers; and sorcerers, by their very nature, live and die on a whim. It's an absolute rule that Nobara knows that she and Fushiguro live by. But it's not the way that Itadori lives. Or at the very least, it's not how he should have lived.

Her and Fushiguro were sorcerers- and Itadori-

Nobara sniffles wetly when her brain aborts the idea. If her nose was running, it was because of the cold. Itadori was a sorcerer now, whether he liked it or not. As much as she's tempted to keep seeing him as a muscle brain, a newb, a greenhorn- he's already a sorcerer in name, if not in spirit.

But still… on nights like these…

Nobara tries to gather her thoughts again through the haze of oncoming emotional sleep. This is important – she needs to puzzle this out.

She puts it this way: regular high school students probably didn't do this. They probably didn't cuddle up with friends on cold winter nights; least of all when the dorm's heater has been broken for a month and no one had bothered to do anything about it for all that time, merely for the unvoiced comfort that came with nearness and the reassurance of life.

It comes naturally to the three of them when they're coddled into the small space of Itadori's bed. Nobara knows it derives from the occupational hazard – encroaching death can do that to a person. The craving for breath, movement, warmth. Sleepy voices in the middle of the night. Elbows digging into your ribs and knees knocking with yours.

Absentmindedly, she wonders if Itadori would have been sleeping in bed with other friends if he'd never been dragged through the mud into their world. He's snuggled up to them now, but in another lifetime, in another world, outside of the deathtrap of the Sorcerer's realm, he'd be free from a waiting death.

The question rises in Nobara's throat, cloying and thick with sentiment she doesn't want to name.

Does he regret it?

Does he regret them?

Her hands clench. She doesn't want Itadori to regret his life.

"I can hear you thinking from all the way over here," Fushiguro says, tone pursed and prying. "It's noisy as hell." –As if he wasn't just on the other side of Itadori's body, all of them squished unreasonably close under their heavy duvets, tangled like tumbleweed. He wiggles his fingers under hers for a moment, turns his wrist, and gives her hand a gentle squeeze.

Nobara sighs through her nose. The sound conveys annoyance, but the intake of breath that comes afterwards is chilly and she can't bring herself to find the fiery comment she wants to shoot back at him. Sometimes she forgets that he's astute like that. She hates it. It's not about him.

"Shut up," she says by way of covering up her worry, "you're the one that's talking." There's no heat in the words.

Nonetheless, Nobara relaxes her hand from where she'd probably been crushing Fushiguro's fingers and pulls her foot back under the covers. Warm toes seek hers and she finds herself playing footsie with Itadori.

She forgot that this one is also just as astute – but in a straightforward, oblivious kind of way. It's not endearing. He catches onto the tiny little things but misses the entire larger picture. What a creep.

Their little game of footsie becomes a big-toe thumb war. She manages to snag Itadori's little toe in between her second and third toes, and when she does, she clenches her foot tight and twists.

Itadori yelps loudly at the unexpected pinching maneuver, left leg jerking over into Fushiguro's space and kneeing him in the shin.

"Guys," Fushiguro hisses in pain as he tugs more forcefully on the hand that Nobara has trapped under her shirt and against her stomach; he tries futilely to try and create some room between them. He doesn't un-intertwine their fingers though. Nobara thinks it's telling. "This is why we can't have nice things," he says, sulkily.

Nobara lifts her chin to shoot both Itadori and Fushiguro a smug look over her shoulder, neck muscles straining from where her head hovers heavily over the pillow. From what she can see, Fushiguro's face goes from offended-drowsy to a slow, simmering, just-licked-lemons look as he makes out her gloating face through the darkness and the sleep haze.

Itadori is in the middle of muttering a string of apologies, back hunched and pressing into Nobara uncomfortably as he reaches down to rub at Fushiguro's no doubt sore shin when he spots the other's expression and turns to see Nobara's grin.

Her neck is starting to cramp. "I win," she gloats, letting her head fall. The tone she musters is so deliciously triumphant that she swears she can feel it when Itadori's hackles rise.

"Hey, wait a sec, you cheated-!" Itadori's voice raises past what could be considered an indoor, middle-of-the-night voice, if not for Fushiguro's non-trapped hand coming up to slap over his mouth. She doesn't know why Fushiguro bothers. It's only the three of them in this dorm anyway. Nobara has no such reservations about keeping their noise level down and boisterously laughs out loud into the frosted space of the room.

With a muffled, put-out huff, Itadori turns over – first onto his back and then onto his other side, facing her. Fushiguro has finally reclaimed his hand. Nobara's fingers feel a little cold. The soft cloth of her pajama top falls over her belly. Itadori's gaze is bronze in the backlit glow of the moon outside the large, glass-door windows.

"What," she says around her smirk, voice carefully flat with an edge of her countryside yankee coming out, "you wanna fight?" She'd never managed to kick the habit of her regional dialect coming out whenever she's tired. It mollifies her a little that the same goes for Itadori. But curse Fushiguro and his city-boy accent.

"You're cold, right?" Itadori asks her suddenly, solemnly. He looks so serious, that she pauses to judge if he's trolling her. A blink.

"Yeah…?" It comes out more of a question.

Itadori nods to himself, and Nobara is just about to ask him what the fuck was his deal- when flattened fingers wriggle under her side, pinching her skin unintentionally when they try to push past her weight sunk into the bed like a body in a bog. Her fuzzy sweater twists uncomfortably from where Itadori worms his palms under her and Nobara whines something nasty, hoping that the little nip of his hands at her side will stop if she lifts her body enough that he can slide his arm under her smoothly. Instead, he grabs her around the waist and lifts her – actually, drags her, more like – over him with his monstrous strength; up and over onto Fushiguro.

"Hey!" she yells, incensed by the sudden body throw. Quick to react, Fushiguro's hand in on her collarbone when she lands, and she's pretty sure one of her elbows has ended up in his gut. She winces and feels a little sorry for him; he was being beaten up left and right by them tonight.

The blankets are all crumpled and in disarray, folded and trapped under Nobara who's on top of Fushiguro, who's kicking back at Itadori for dumping her on him. All of the heat they'd been storing up is gone now too, but Fushiguro turns onto his side and shifts back against the wall so that she's in the middle and they can fix the blankets up and over their heads. They shudder together in unison, legs scrunching up to conserve heat; all it does is create awkward body shapes that don't quite fit together.

It gets stuffy under the blankets with three people breathing into it, and it smells suspiciously like someone's farted. When they surface for air, they're clicking together like puzzle pieces again, arms criss-crossing and bodies scooting close enough to fill in the gaps. Nobara feels like she's being smothered by two really big, really stupid puppies.

"Now you can be warm, right?" Itadori says, nuzzling into her hair whorl. She needs to recolour soon. She'll rope Itadori into helping her – it's a scratch-each-other's-backs type deal. "Your hair smells really nice."

"That's not what I meant, you idiot," she grumbles at Itadori. She reaches back to swat at him, but only gets the side of his ass. "And stop sniffing me, you creep!"

He gives her a brief squeeze and takes in one long, big sniff. "But you smell like flowers," he whines, his following exhale warm on the back of her head. Her shampoo is rosehip and lavender, but the crush of their bodies around her mixes their scents together so that she can't really make out her own products' aromas. It's probably close to 4 AM and she really doesn't need to think about how Itadori's bed has long started to smell like all of them.

Fushiguro shimmies away from the cold expanse of the wall and presses his face into her forehead; his lips are in between her eyebrows. It's not a kiss, it doesn't count as one in her books, and she's also not going to think about how his breath tickles and ruffles her eyelashes. It's warm.

"You're right," Fushiguro says. Gross, her forehead is damp from his breath. "Kugisaki, you smell like flowers. Girls just smell nice, huh?"

Through the crush of bodies around her – pressing to her front and back – Nobara realizes that she's surrounded by an idiot and an even bigger idiot. Ones that she calls her friends.

"Yeah, and you guys stink," she quips. They don't really; the smell is comforting. Itadori chuckles and Fushiguro hums something noncommittal. She's falling asleep. "Itadori, don't drool into my hair," she mumbles as a warning. She doesn't know if she says it clearly. Her eyes are slipping shut.

"No promises," Itadori yawns. The yawn catches, and all three of them chain the action.

There's nothing normal about this situation.

But at the end of the day, Nobara doesn't want to be a regular student with regular friends.

Because she was fond.

She was so fond of these stupid boys. Her boys. Nobara's stupid boys.

She loves them so much.

But she's not going to admit that sappy shit to their faces.

It's a twisted sort of thought, especially when she knows that either of them could die at any given time, but it's one that comes and passes with the blissful fade into unconsciousness, sweaty bodies pressed together uncomfortably warm and cramped into a bed that's not meant for three.

In the morning, it's Itadori who's the first to leave - the first to kick off the blankets and let in a vortex of cold air as he disentangles from them, limbs akimbo as Nobara and Fushiguro grasp childishly at his clothes to try and get him to sleep for 10 more minutes like a snooze feature on an alarm clock. It doesn't work, because their hands are softened with slumber and their grasps don't connect properly. It's too early to be up, but Itadori is on his feet without an alarm, rising with the sun like it's engrained in his skin and he's one with the dawn.

Nobara and Fushiguro are left cold without their heater, so Nobara settles over the mattress right onto Itadori's rapidly cooling warm spot. Fushiguro follows – he gets to be the little spoon this time, rolling across the bed right into Nobara's arms, tucking himself up under her chin and lanky arms folding tight to his chest so that they fit as close as they can make it. They cling to each other, shivering, trying to soak up what's left of Itadori's high-residue heat before it fades.

They don't stay in that position for too long though – because in the mornings, Fushiguro likes to sleep on his stomach to avoid the sunlight blasting through Itadori's east-facing window, and Nobara can only sleep for so long before her skin begins to feel dry and her mouth feels tacky.

Nonetheless, they stay like that for at least half an hour, dozing in and out of consciousness until Nobara has enough of Itadori's shuffling about the room and gets up to complete her own morning routine. She comes back down to the student kitchens another whole half-hour later, fully dressed, and fashionable enough to be scouted when she goes out with Maki-san on a shopping trip later this afternoon.

A clingy Fushiguro is attached to Itadori's back as he makes them all breakfast, eyes squinty in the way they get when you haven't had enough sleep and aren't an early bird. Their breakfast is rice and fish and miso soup - a traditional Japanese breakfast and so, so domestic. The dishes have already been set – Itadori's only spooning out rice for them now.

Nobara slots into the chain, another, smaller limpet attached to Fushiguro's back. But only for a moment; she's not as touch inclined as Itadori, and not as needy (snort) as Fushiguro. Late nights were only for practical purposes and nothing else.

(That's what she tells herself.)

Itadori gives his shoulders a little shake and makes a noise like a long-suffering mother hen, rice spatula pointing towards the set table and indicating them to take a seat. Fushiguro detaches himself from Itadori's back like a barnacle being scraped off an anchor and makes himself coffee – black, no cream or sugar. They settle down to eat, and Nobara finds herself wishing reluctantly that they would stay this way forever.

At least, until she gets herself a boyfriend (or girlfriend).

The irony doesn't slip past her; she'll probably never get one of those if these losers keep clinging to her.