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A different replay (Under revision)

Chapter Text

Kamado Tanjirou woke up at the sound of footsteps. Where was he? He opened his tired eyes and got a look around the room. It was his old home, the one before Nezuko had turned into a demon. His body relaxed out of habit. The warmth of familiarity, and for a few moments, he considered going back to sleep. No danger and there is nothing wrong.

No, something was wrong. Tanjirou immediately stood up, alerted. He reached for his blade but found nothing. He started pacing around the room, panic starting to rise up inside.

"Nii-chan? What are you doing?" His blood ran cold at the voice. He turned to see a face he hadn't seen in a long time.

"Takeo? You're supposed to be..." Tanjirou trailed off. Dead. He thought. His little brother's face turned to annoyance.

"I know, I know. I'll get to chopping the trees." And he rushed off, leaving Tanjirou in confusion and panic.

"Think back Tanjirou, what were you doing?" He muttered to himself.

Right. He had come back from a mission and had plans to celebrated his 19th birthday. After receiving many happy birthdays from his peers, he hurried off. Tanjirou and Nezuko had planned to meet up with Giyuu at Urokodaki-san's house, to celebrate his birthday between the four of them. Tanjirou knew that he had made it to the mountain but couldn't remember anything after that.

Tanjirou took a look at himself for any signs of injuries.

That's when he realized that he was much shorter. His arms had no scars. It was clean. Uninjured. He had turned... younger? Was this a dream? No, it felt way too real for it to be a dream. He froze as a thought fell into place. Time travel? Was it even a thing? Was it possible?

If this wasn't a dream, Tanjirou was younger, Nezuko would be human, and everyone in his family would be alive. His first thought was happiness. His family was alive!

Then his heart sank. Zenitsu, Inosuke, Murata... Giyuu. Everyone he knew back then didn't know him now. They were strangers.

"Mom!" Tanjirou rushed outside, not caring about the cold. He slid open the front door to see his mom caring for Shigeru.

"Tanjirou? What's wrong?" She gave him a worried look.

He looked straight in her eyes and asked, "How old am I?" She said nothing for a few moments before replying thirteen.

Thirteen. It was before he started his training.

Before Nezuko became a demon.

Before Tanjirou's family died.

A soft cloth came into view. "Tanjirou, why are you crying?" Tanjirou's eyes widened. He hadn't realized he had started crying. He let his mom continue clearing away the tears and relaxed at the comfort. Perhaps... Perhaps this wasn't bad at all.

Tanjirou shook the thought out.

Then his brain halted when his sister, Nezuko, questioned something.

"Onii-chan? I thought you were going to the village today?" Nezuko came into the view, holding Rokuta on her back. Tanjirou felt a shiver down his back. He was supposed to go down to the village? Which meant... No, today couldn't be.

"I want to go!" His other siblings complained. Mom gave them a look before she turned to me with the same look.

"I still believe you shouldn't go. The snow looks like it'll become harsher soon." His mother worried. Tanjirou opened his mouth to reply but nothing came out. He found his heart speeding up. If today was that day...

He quickly tried to calm his heart and gave her the best smile he could manage at that moment.

"It's dangerous when the snow is falling, I'll go tomorrow when the snow is calmer."

 

Tanjirou stayed alert and jumpy for the rest of that day, acquiring weird looks from his siblings. He was jumpy, as he didn't know when Muzan would attack his family. Before he knew it, it was nighttime. The sun had set, darkening the forest, and the heavy snowstorm began.

After everyone went to sleep, Tanjirou crept out of the house. Since he didn't have his sword, he took the next best thing. His axe. Yes, that was a foolish thing to do but he was going to protect his family. Avoid their death.

Tanjirou shivered from the cold. The icy wind slammed into his face, making it difficult to look straight ahead. Well, it wasn't like he could see clearly anyway.

The darkness around him clouded his views, he could only see his two feet. Tanjirou was never really afraid of the darkness since he had his sense of smell to help guide the way or alert him when something was approaching, but it was still unsettling.

He let out a shaking breath, looking up at the dark sky. If only there were stars. It would have been uplifting.

And there it was, the familiar scent of Muzan. It still made him scrunch his nose, the smell of so many different types of blood like he was so many people- yet he was only one. The layered scent of people's blood, the deaths on his hands being endless.

Tanjirou gripped the handle of his axe. His family wouldn't be one of them. They will live.

 

 

 

Nezuko heard someone leaving the house. Their creaking steps woke her up. And at first, she didn't think much of it, as it could simply be their mother, who sometimes stay up to stitch their tattered clothing.

Then Nezuko heard another noise. Once again, she didn't think much of it. Then her mind clicked. It was the sound of the door opening and a brief moment of the howling snowstorm. She checked over her family, though it was hard to tell due to the darkness, from what she could see, all of her siblings were asleep...

Except for her older brother.

She panicked. Not only was it was snowing harshly outside, and it was nighttime with the moon hidden in clouds, it was a night without light! She put on her thin haori- unfortunately the only one near her- and grabbed her brother's scarf. He was probably freezing cold by now.

She quietly slid open the door.

There were faint footsteps in the snow. She hurried. As the snow continued to fall, the footsteps would get covered and make it impossible to find him until morning.

"Onii-chan!" Nezuko called out as she walked. The snow accompanied by the wind pushed her back, but she pushed on. She tried to warm up her freezing hands, just how far had her brother gone?

 

It took some walking and resting before she saw a body. It was lying on the ground, red snow around it. Her heart pumped. It wasn't a human... right? No one would walk at a time like this in the mountain.

Her brother did.

Nezuko took deep breaths, ignoring the pain her lungs were experiencing from the cold. Her brother... he- he couldn't be. That body couldn't be her brother.

 

 

 

Tomioka Giyuu suddenly found himself on the ground, face touching the snow. He calmly stood and wiped the snow off his face. He wondered why there was snow. It was summer after all.

The first thing he did was survey his surroundings. He certainly was at a mountain, but not where Urokodaki-san lived, where he was last. He should leave the mountain first, and look for a village.

Unfortunately, Tomioka didn't know which way was out of the mountain. He was at a pretty even area, so he took a guess and went to his left.

As he ventured farther down or up the mountain, a scent of blood reached him. Tomioka followed the scent, assuming there had been an accident and someone had gotten injured. He didn't have the best medical knowledge, but he knew some.

As he neared closer to the source of the blood, the clearer he could see someone. They noticed him as well.

"P-please help!" When Tomioka got closer, he saw the person's features. A girl with long untied hair, red eyes filled with fear, holding onto a boy near her age.

He recognized the boy. How could he not? Even if he had long hair and blood covering his face, Tomioka would recognize him.

"Onii-chan, he- he is..." The girl, Nezuko, broke down crying.

His first thought was that Tanjirou was injured. He was near death. Empty, lifeless eyes, pale skin as white as the snow beneath them, his second thought was that Tanjirou looked 13- If not younger.

There was a thought in the back of his mind, but he pushed it aside for the moment. "I'll take him down to the village to see a doctor." He pulled Tanjirou onto his back and was about to leave when Nezuko grabbed him again.

"Wait! I-I'm coming with you!"

Giyuu hesitated. Not only was it a long way down, but it was snowing. She seemed to be exhausted, and he doubted she would last. "You can't-"

"I will!" Nezuko interrupted, "I... I know the way down. I can help! So please... let me..."

While he understood that she couldn't leave him to a stranger, she would be slowing them down. From how she looked, she was in the cold for hours. She was shivering from not only shock but the cold. If she were to be out in the cold any longer, he didn't know how it would affect her.

However, Tomioka didn't know the way around the mountain. He would end up wasting time trying to find his way down. So reluctantly, Tomioka nodded. Nezuko relaxed, knowing that she didn't have to separate from her brother.

They made their way down, Giyuu having to slow down in order to match Nezuko's limits. It gave him some time to think. And there were many things he had to think through.

The first was where he was. Giyuu was sure that he was waiting for Tanjirou to come back from his mission, so they could celebrate his birthday, as they never get to due to missions. He definitely did not fall asleep at a snowy mountain, it definitely was not Winter, and Tanjirou and Nezuko were definitely not this young.

Another was that this scene was too familiar. The first time he had met Tanjirou was just six years ago. He had met him carrying his sister, who was turning into a demon. However, this was different. It wasn't Nezuko, but Tanjirou. At least, he figured Tanjirou was turning into a demon...

Tomioka didn't want him to. He couldn't bear to slice the head of the person he had learned to love. Tomioka had a small hope that Tanjirou didn't receive the blood of a demon, or that Tanjirou wouldn't survive.

He hated himself for being so selfish, for hoping the death of the person he loved because he couldn't do his job.

Then Tanjirou suddenly pushed against his back, causing him to slip.

"No!" Nezuko screamed and reached towards them as they fell down a cliff. He prepared to turn to prevent from falling on top of Tanjirou only to find his back empty. Surprised, he fell right on the ground without softening his fall. He was lucky the ground was covered in snow. His ears were ringing from the fall but a soft growl snapped him right back.

"Tanjirou-" Giyuu managed to get out before he was knocked back to his back. He could see Nezuko still on top of the cliff, panicking. He dodged to his left as Tanjirou charged and attempted to kick him. With no choice left, he slammed the bottom of his hilt on Tanjirou's neck, knocking him out.

Giyuu patiently waited for Nezuko to make her way down to where they were. Expectantly, the first thing Nezuko said when she arrived was of Tanjirou's wellbeing.

"... He's just knocked out."

"I-I saw what happened.” Nezuko huffed out. Giyuu looked up. She saw from that distance? “Onii-chan wouldn't have attacked someone like that without a reason! He-" Nezuko rambled on. Giyuu contemplated on whether or not he should tell her without hurting her or to just get it done.

He ended up choosing the latter. "If you bathe an open wound in a demon's blood, you become one. That is how they increase their numbers. Your brother is now one of them." Nezkuo's face fell.

"Onii-chan wouldn't." She refused, her voice shaking. "He's not... I know he won't!"

"I'm going to..." Decapitate your brother. The words disappeared from his mouth.

"There must be a way to turn him back! I'll find a way to! I'll definitely do it, so please!" Nezuko exclaimed, her words filled with determination. Tomioka winced. He knew what he should do, but...

He couldn't.

Tomioka had left the mountain with a heavy heart. Not only had Tanjirou attacked him, but he sure didn't recognize him. The chance of Tanjirou, like him, travelling to the past was nearly impossible, but Tomioka had a small hope. He wished he hadn't.

So he was in the past. Alone.

He probably should get used to that feeling.

 

 

 

When Tanjirou came to, he was lying down with his back to the ground, a bamboo in his mouth. His brain took time to process what had been happening. He was a demon. Not Nezuko. He had expected things to be different but to this extent... Tanjirou stopped. Everything that had happened caught up to him.

Giyuu! He had come to his home and... and... Tanjirou had attacked him.

"Onii-chan?" Tanjirou turned to his sister. Still human. He felt his shoulders relax. He had saved her, he wasn't late this time. He moved towards her, to hug her. She accepted happily, face lighting up.

Tanjirou touched the bamboo in his mouth. He wanted to take it out, but since there was a chance of attacking his family he didn't.

"There... there was someone who was a demon hunter. He told me you're a demon now and told me about them. I want to help you onii-chan!" Tanjirou paused. Did she want to turn him back? No, she couldn't. That'd mean she would try to-

"I'm going to join the demon slayer corps. I'll find a way to turn you back to a human!" She couldn't! He shook his head as hard as he could. He couldn't watch her ruin her childhood just because he had changed.

However, Nezuko had a determined look on her face. "Onii-chan. You can't change my mind."

Tanjirou regretted his actions immediately. Why hadn't he thought it through? He could have just moved his family to a safer place or something else that would have allowed them to avoid Muzan. Now Nezuko wanted to be a hunter, hoping to turn into a human.

"Ah- Onii-chan, don't cry! Don't worry, it'll be fine." She hugged him tighter. "I- We should visit mom. I don't want her to think we left her." Tanjirou nodded. Nezuko pulled out the blue scarf he had left at home. She tied it around him and pulled it so it covered his head. She smiled.

"That's better, right?" He lightly rocked his head up and down. Nezuko held his hands. Her hands were cold, proving how long she had spent out here in the cold. He tightened the grip, disappointed in himself. She must've suffered out here, wearing a thin haori and an overused kimono, with nothing but worn-out sandals to support her feet.

Tanjirou cried for the third time that day.

 

It was a tearful depart. Their siblings couldn't believe what had happened and with tears pouring out of their face, begged them to stay. Even Takeo was crying a bit. Their mom had a sad look on her face. Without managing to cry, she gave them some food and clothing for comfort. Nezuko pulled all of them for a big hug before they left. It only made the separation harder.

After that, they walked. During the nighttime, of course. Soon Tanjirou could tell Nezuko was tired. He gave Nezuko a small pat on the head, a habit he had developed that never went away. She gave him a weak smile.

"Thanks, Onii-chan. Oh, there's a small cabin!"

Nezuko exclaimed. Tanjirou followed her gaze and did see a cabin.

Tanjirou covered his nose as they got closer. There was the scent of blood. He slowed down. Though the scent wasn't really intoxicating, he didn't exactly know how he would react to it. Nezuko didn't seem to have noticed him slowing down. Tanjirou hesitated on getting closer.

He took a breath. For Nezuko. Tanjirou rushed over to Nezuko before she could be attacked by the demon inside.

The sight that greeted him was most definitely not great. Bloodstains all over the walls, humans lying dead on the ground, a demon in the middle of it all. The demon tilted his head. He stared at Tanjirou and Nezuko, eyes darting between the two. Then it landed on Nezuko.

"... Are you human?" He asked. Nezuko's face was filled with fear. That seemed to be a good enough answer for the demon as it lunges at her.

Tanjirou turned around and found her on the ground, the demon on top of her. He had to act fast before Nezuko could get injured. He ran to where they were and pulled the demon off of Nezuko. He hissed and fought against him. Tanjirou stumbled back and fell on his back. The demon took that chance to attack Nezuko. She had Tanjirou's axe with her.

She swung when the demon was close enough, and the axe had stabbed the demon's neck. With Nezuko'a strength, the axe barely struck the demon, but it did hit. Nezuko struggled to pull the axe back, maybe to try again, but it didn't move from the neck. Tanjirou grabbed the axe and pushed further in, successfully cutting the head off.

The demon grabbed Tanjirou's arm and struggled to pull the axe off his hand.

"The-the head's off but the body's moving?!" Nezuko cried out.

"You bastard! Why's a demon travelling with a human!?" The demon yelled from his decapitated head.

"His head's talking!" Nezuko shrieked.

Tanjirou grabbed onto the demon's clothes and gave a hard swing to a certain direction. He needed to bring the body out of sight from the demon. He hoped the head wasn't strong enough to attack Nezuko. Once he was between trees and away from the head, he took that moment to throw the body off the cliff. By the time he went over to Nezuko, he had used the majority of his energy and was close to fainting.

"Onii-chan, you're alright!" Nezuko was holding a small blade that he had given to her in case of an emergency. The head of the demon was tangled on the ground due to its long hair. Behind her was Urokodaki-san.

"You must be Tanjirou."

 

 

 

Sakonji Urokodaki had been managing the house when he received a visit from Giyuu. To say that he was surprised was an understatement. But what happened after felt more like a dream. Giyuu had greeted him as if this was a regular occurrence and told him a story that was beyond belief. A story of how he had come back in time. It had seemed like a joke at first, but the story was told in such detail and with a serious tone that only made it more believable. In the end, he had no choice but to believe it.

"I have a request. It is selfish and brash, I apologize. But could you train her? She doesn't possess much power, but I believe her determination will be powerful. I do realize that keeping Tanjirou alive is a violation of the code, but I... I will not hesitate to kill him when he turns to harm or eating humans." Urokodaki noticed the hesitation Giyuu had. He sighed.

"I trust your judgment, Giyuu."

"Thank you, I shall be returning to my mission now. Please take care." And with that, Giyuu left, leaving him to his thoughts.

 

 

 

Nezuko was trying her best. Her life had flipped over in a matter of hours with her brother turning into a demon. She was only twelve! And here she was, standing in front of a demon's head, preparing to kill it. However, if an axe couldn't, how could a small knife?

"You won't be able to kill it with that kind of thing." Nezuko turned at the sound of an old man's voice. She stayed speechless for a moment. It was definitely an old man though he was wearing a tengu mask. She also hadn't heard him walking towards her. As she was about to ask what would, she saw her brother out of the corner of her eyes.

"Onii-chan, you're alright!" The man beside her greeted as well.

"You must be Tanjirou." Her brother nodded in reply. Nezuko looked at the man. How did he know about her brother?

"How- How do you know Onii-chan's name?" She asked.

"I have my ways. Now, finish the demon." Nezuko frowned at the vague response. She was about to protest that she should know why a random stranger knew the name of her brother when he patted her head. Something he began to do when he turned into a demon. Nezuko reluctantly left it be. She focused her attention back to the demon.

The demon survived when his head was cut off, and from what she could assume, her brother had gotten rid of the body, considering how her brother defeated it. Which only left the head. Did she have to destroy the head? There was a rock nearby that she could use. She picked up the rock and prepared to hit. She paused. It would take more than one hit, right?

Wouldn't that be painful?

"Ah," Nezuko saw the sunlight from the corner of her eyes. She had taken too long to decide. She dropped the rock and covered her ears when the demon started screaming. She watched horrified as the sun burned the demon's head. Nezuko's eyes widened as she realized that her brother would be affected as well. She looked around for him. She found him between the trees, where the shadows were.

"I am Sakonji Urokodaki." The man introduced himself. "You are the one that Giyuu wanted to introduce to me?"

"Giyuu?" She searched her mind for the name. "Oh, Tomioka-san! Yes. I'm Kamado Nezuko, that's my brother, Tanjirou." So he was the one Tomioka-san had told her about.

"Nezuko. What will you do if your brother eats a human?" She frowned.

"There's no way he-" He slapped her. The surprise made the pain worse and Nezuko held her cheek in pain and shock.

"Too reliant. While your thinking of destroying the head was right, you had no way of knowing that the body was truly gone. It could've attacked you at any time."

"But onii-chan-"

"You didn't see him destroy the body. Not only that but you firmly believed your brother wouldn't eat anyone. Your determination is admirable but foolish.

"If your brother eats a human there are two things that you should do. Kill your brother and slit your own stomach. This is the kind of resolve you need in bringing your brother along.

"But remember this well. That situation is something that can never be allowed to happen. Do you understand what my words mean?" He asked.

Nezuko held in the tears that threatened to come out. What Urokodaki-san had just said was like another slap. Instead of teaching her a lesson, it brought her back to reality. The hopes of being a demon slayer were far fetched. She could only do it if she worked hard. The pressure hit her hard. Her brother grabbed her wrist. He gave her a smile.

She took a breath to calm herself and stood up straight. "I.. I understand!"

"Good. I have to test if you're ready to become a demon slaying swordsman. We'll be leaving once the next moon is up." She nodded.

Nezuko will do it. She will pass this test!

Chapter Text

After night time had arrived, Urokodaki-san told her to follow him. Oh wait, run after him.

She was dying. Definitely. Nezuko had run after Urokodaki-san as she was told. Which was fine, but they had run for so long that she wasn't sure if her lungs were even usable anymore. By the time they arrived, her entire body was screaming in pain.

Nezuko steadied herself on a nearby tree, barely stopping herself from collapsing. "So... did I... pass the test?" She wheezed out.

"The test has just begun." Nezuko’s mouth fell open. That was just the start of it? The super long run that tested her endurance wasn’t the test?! Nezuko felt herself wanting to quit. She gritted her teeth and forced herself to stand straight without support. "Follow me up the mountain. Your brother will stay here." She hesitantly looked at her brother and he nodded at her. Would he be fine here? She felt a little anxious about leaving him alone...

"I will come to pick up your brother up once you have started the test," Urokodaki-san assured her. She reluctantly nodded and followed Urokodaki up the mountain.

The climb felt even harder than the run. The mountain’s rough grounds was difficult to walk on, despite being used to it from the mountain she lived in. Her legs wanted to give up, Nezuko was tired and could barely breathe. The mountain's thin air only made her head spin even more. The only reason why she hadn’t fainted was the sheer determination of passing the test. This was her only chance.

She bumped into Urokodaki-san, who she hadn't realized stopped walking and stumbled backward. Her back slammed into a tree, making her gasp for breath. She felt so weak, nearly collapsing from this.

"From where we are, you will descend the mountain. To the bottom, where my house is. This time, I won't be waiting till dawn." He said before disappearing behind the fog.

"Hah... hah..." She felt completely blind, she had no clue where to go, or where she had come from. She knelt down for a moment to catch her breath as her head started spinning fast.

You can do this. For onii-chan! Nezuko huffed. She'd find her way back somehow, one way or another.

"Aah!" She screamed as she fell into a pit. The world shook around her when her body hit the bottom. Nezuko looked up at the height of the pit and groaned. "... I wonder if I'll even survive."

 

 

 

Tanjirou waited at the bottom of the mountain, patiently watching as Nezuko and Urokodaki-san’s back disappeared into the mountain. He hoped that Nezuko would pass the test without getting injured too much, though he knew that wasn’t possible. He chuckled, remembering the test.

Remembering the test brought back multiple memories. Tanjirou thought of Sabito, Makomo, and the other children. Urokodaki-san’s tears when he had come back alive from the Final Selection.

“Tanjirou.” His mind snapped back to reality. “Come inside the house, you and I are going to have a long talk.” Tanjirou became anxious.

He nodded, realizing how inconvenient it was to have his mouth covered. It would be nice to talk to him. He stepped into the small and familiar house. It looked welcoming but hostile, as Tanjirou was a stranger to Urokodaki-san in this timeline.

Inside the house was as small as Tanjirou remembered. He carefully avoided the pot in front of the door, making sure not to knock it over. He remembered the time he did knock it over. Urokodaki-san had made his training harsh that day. He gently laughed at the memory.

Urokodaki-san motioned him to sit down. Tanjirou prepared himself to talk about the travel. If there was anything Tanjirou could trust him about, it was this.

“If you make any wrong move, I will not hesitate to slice off your head,” Urokodaki said silently. “I would like this conversation without shedding any blood.”

Tanjirou frowned. He may be a demon now, but he wasn’t going to attack anyone. And how was he supposed to speak? He pointed at the bamboo covering his mouth. Urokodaki-san sat in silence before sighing. He leaned over and untied the bamboo.

“Speak.” Tanjirou breathed in and looked uncertain.

“Urokodaki-san, you may or may not believe me but I am not from this timeline. I came from the future.” Tanjirou sat in silence. He thought he smelled a small shock in the air of emotions but wasn’t sure if it was certain. Urokodaki-san mumbled something inaudible before allowing Tanjirou to continue.

“I… I’ve met you before. But it didn’t go like this. Instead of me, Nezuko had turned into a demon, and I was taking the test. I promise that I don’t want to harm anyone. I- I don’t think I can harm any humans. When Nezuko and I were at the small cabin, and human blood was everywhere, it didn’t affect me! Instead, I thought it smelled horrible. So I can guarantee that I will not harm any human.”

Urokodaki-san was silent. Tanjirou anxiously waited for a reply. Would he believe him? Or find it as nonsense? As he waited, the dim light that lit the room flickered. The darkness blinding him every few seconds. His heart was pounding. And finally, Urokodaki-san replied, breaking the heavy atmosphere by asking a simple but important question.

"If you do not consume human flesh, what will you eat to survive?" Urokodaki-san demanded and Tanjirou paused and thought. What did he eat? He needed something to get energy from after all. He froze, and thought about how Nezuko dealt with it, he couldn't sleep to get his energy back because it was too obvious for him that he needed to consume food.

Food.

That was it! What would happen if he tried eating human food? Would that work? He had passed by several shops with food on the way and they all smelled quite nicely. It was a small chance that it would work, but Tanjirou was willing to take the risk.

Tanjirou spoke up. “I could try to eat human food...?” It sounded more like a question. Not really helping to convince Urokodaki-san. Urokodaki-san sat there and waved his hand in front of an apple in the bowl by the pot. Tanjirou reached out, took the apple and crunched down. It was surprisingly sweet. Tanjirou had expected it to be sour, disgusting, or make him feel sick, but it was quite the opposite. To Tanjirou’s surprise, before he realized it, he had finished the apple.

Urokodaki-san seemed just as surprised as Tanjirou, from what Tanjirou would smell. Never have both of them heard that a demon can eat human food.

“What… a surprise.” Urokodaki-san commented.

“I’m surprised as well,” Tanjirou admitted. “At least that actually proves that I will not eat human flesh,” He stated and they both sat in an odd but comfortable atmosphere.

The door slammed open, making both Tanjirou and Urokodai-san jump, and Nezuko fell on her stomach. "I'm... back..." Nezuko said between breaths. Urokodaki-san gave an approving sound while Tanjirou felt pride.

"I've recognized your abilities, Kamado Nezuko."

Chapter Text

The training was hard. Nezuko went up and down the mountain so many times that she had managed to memorize the entire mountain. She didn’t know how, but she was glad she did.

Partially glad. The places for the traps constantly changed and became difficult for her to use the same way every single time. It forced her to take different directions. Not only did the placements changed, but the traps also became increasingly difficult. A simple pit that she had first fallen down now was filled with spikes that could pierce her bones without force, the wires that made her trip now triggered arrows, and more like those.

Nezuko probably would have died long ago if it wasn't for her heightened senses. She could see the traps coming from the sides, small triggers on the ground, on coming knives from far ahead. She didn't know exactly what or how it came to be, but it was a life saviour. It did feel like pure instinct, but it saved her from most of the deadly traps.

After she could dodge most of them, Urokodaki-san had her go down with a sword. Nezuko gripped the sword, trying to get used to the feeling.

Soon Nezuko learned that it restricted her movements. A lot. Without realizing, she would end up triggering a trap with the edge of the sword, or try to dodge flying arrows in a cramped space but being unable to because of the sword’s length. Nezuko ended up came down with more injuries each time, worrying her brother more.

"I'm fine, onii-chan. They're not severe!" Nezuko tried to convince her brother. She got a concerned look in return. Nezuko sighed. There wasn’t much she could do to lower the number of injuries she got other than training. She tried to change the subject. "Besides, how are you? You're also training with Urokodaki-san, right?"

When she heard that her brother was training separately with Urokodaki-san, she got curious. Was he learning swordsmanship as well? She considered asking, but Nezuko wanted to give some space to her brother. He deserved to keep secrets.

Doesn’t it seem like he’s keeping secrets anyway? Nezuko ignored the thought. She trusted her brother.

Her brother didn’t look up from where he was bandaging her. The leg, where the latest cut she got from an arrow was. "It's not like yours. It’s not as… severe." He sighed. "Also, stay still! I can't put on the bandages."

"Ah, sorry!"

She snapped out of the small memory of the previous night. If she continued to daydream like so, she probably wouldn't make her way down before dawn.

It took longer than usual, due to her small break, but Nezuko finally made her way down. She was exhausted and out of breath as usual. Her arms stung from all the branches she hit along the way down. Nezuko looked over her injuries to make sure there weren’t any severe bleeding or bruising. There were some bruising from the previous days, but none of them were bad, and she wasn’t bleeding this time. Nezuko gave herself a pass this time. Wasn’t too bad of a run.

Instead of the normal sight of an empty house, since her brother was usually training with Urokodaki-san at this time, someone was waiting for her this time. Urokodaki-san stood in front of the house.

“Follow me.” He ordered her. Nezuko was puzzled, though she usually was when she talked with Urokodaki-san, but followed anyway. He led her through a familiar place where she usually went through to get down the mountain, then Urokodaki-san led her to a part of the mountain that she hadn't seen before.

The place was full of mist swirling around the area like a cloud drifting off to who knows where. The mist covered the entire area, making it almost impossible to see. Nezuko stuck close to Urokodaki-san, not wanting to get lost. However, the more they walked, the more it subsided.

Eventually, they stopped walking.

"I don't have any more to teach you," Urokodaki-san stated.

Nezuko tilted her head. "Eh?" She stared at him, hoping for an explanation.

"From now on, you're going to have to prove yourself." He continued, "See if you can improve yourself upon the basics I've taught you." Nezuko wasn’t liking where this was going.

"Oh..." She nodded anyway. It felt like she only understood half of what she was supposed to do. "Right."

"If you are able to hack this rock in half, I will allow you to join the final selection." Okay… slice a rock. She could do that. “And if you break the sword, I’ll break your bones.” Urokodaki-san threatened.

"Right." She nodded once more. Nezuko thought that it would be easy. Slice a rock in half? Sure, she’s done it before. The mist slowly cleared away and the rock became visible. She stared at the rock for some time before the size of it settled in her mind.

"Whaaat?!" Nezuko screeched. Just how was she supposed to slice a rock at that size? Especially without the blade snapping in half! She needed more explanation. Unfortunately, Urokodaki-san was long gone.

Nezuko sighed in defeat and stared at the rock. It just wasn’t possible. How was she supposed to slice such a large rock without breaking her sword?! It was twice her size, the blade could only handle so much force. Was this even possible?

"Nezuko?” Her brother’s voice snapped her out of the train of complaints. She looked over in surprise.

"Onii-chan? I thought you would leave with Urokodaki-san.” Nezuko said.

Tanjirou shook his head. “I’ll be leaving soon. I just wanted to see how you were doing before I did.” He smiled. Nezuko was happy to see that her brother has smiled again, she hasn’t been able to see her big brother since their training started.

Nezuko replied, her tone softer than planned. “Thank you.”

They stood in comfortable silence. The peace and silence were nice. Her days have been filled with nothing but training and the sound of sword swings.

“It’s possible, Nezuko.” Her brother spoke up. “Use the breathing technique Urokodaki-san taught you.” He knew about the things she learned in her lessons?

"Breathing technique… huh…” Nezuko thought over the training that she has done over the past few months with Urokodaki-san and nodded. Her brother gently patted her head.

"You can do it Nezuko.” He murmured, “I believe in you.” They hugged. Nezuko nested in the warmth she hasn’t felt in a while. The mountain wasn’t so cold anymore.

 

Even with the small help from her brother, Nezuko made no progress. It wasn’t for the lack of effort, at least.

She finished her usual training before approaching the large rock. It towered over her like an enormous grizzly bear. Nezuko leaned her sword on the rock before sitting down. It had been months, from what she could tell, since she started this.

"Aaugh!!! How am I supposed to do this!?" Nezuko pumped both of her fists in the air and fell backward. Her back hit the rough ground and she let out a groan of frustration. Despite all the months she took, she got nowhere, and she could feel her determination slipping away.

"Shut up!"

Nezuko jerked upright at the sudden voice and looked around to see where the voice had come from. She should be the only one in the mountains at the moment.

A boy was sitting on top of the rock, wearing a fox mask with a scar from the corner of the mouth to the cheekbones. He seemed about her brother's age before he was turned into a demon. However, what struck her was that with the constant traps, her senses were heightened, so how did she not notice him coming near? She wearily grabbed her sword.

"No matter how difficult it may and will be, shut your mouth and deal with it." The boy appeared right in front of her in a mere blink. Her heart stopped at the scare but managed to lift up her sword in time to block the upcoming attack. The force pushed her back, and she nearly tripped onto her back.

She barely managed to regain her balance before the boy threw her off again with a kick.

“Slow,” The boy snarled. She wobbly stood up, gripping hard on her sword. “And weak.” Nezuko gritted her teeth. Who was he to come out of nowhere and insult her like so?! She wanted to prove that she was not slow nor weak, but then the boy swung his sword faster than Nezuko could react. He scoffed.

“Your reacting time is terrible. Your current state is not suitable for the Final Selection.”

Nezuko felt her blood rushing to her head and she told herself to calm down. That didn’t mean she wasn’t angry anymore.

“What do you mean?!” She shouted as she blocked another swing. “And what are you doing?! Jumping on a person like that?”

The boy paused and laughed. “And what are you doing?” He asked with a hint of anger in his voice. “Being in a state like this during a battle will get yourself killed!” Nezuko didn’t know how to reply to that. She… she was strong now, wasn’t she?

Yes, she was. She had to be. Nezuko prepared herself into a stance.

The boy seemed satisfied with her response. “Alright.” He said, “Bring it.”

Nezuko hesitated. She looked at the sword the boy held and looked at hers.

“But my sword is… “ She stared at the sharp sword in her hand. It glistened, despite no light around. “And your sword is... wooden.” The wooden sword looked worn out like it’s been used many times before this. Wouldn’t her sword cut through the boy’s sword?

The boy laughed and vanished. In a moment he was right in front of her, swinging his blade from all different directions. Nezuko couldn’t take a moment to blink. She thought the traps Urokodaki-san made was fast, but this was different. She could only see so much, and could only react so fast.

“You flatter me!” He laughed and then swung the blade again. Nezuko blocked it once more but was pushed back by the sudden increase in the amount of force he used.

“Thank you for this care that you’ve just shown me but there’s no need to worry!” The boy cried and then he swung the blade again, watching as Nezuko failed to block. The wooden sword slammed into her side, making her out of breath. She only got to gasp before he struck her again.

“Do you really think that you can injure me? With that amount of strength of yours?” He asked. Nezuko puffed her cheeks in response and blocked the next attack. “You don’t have to worry at all! I’m much stronger than you! I can even slice that rock open!” The boy then flipped her over. Her world spun when her face hit the ground.

Nezuko wiped away the blood that now ran down from her nose. Nezuko then realized what he had said. She stared at the boy with her mouth open.

He sliced that rock open?!

She braced for impact as she was hit in the head. She hit the ground, and finally, Nezuko felt like she was done. The world around her shook, her nose was bleeding, and her body was bruised beyond the usual. She couldn’t go back up into a stance. In fact, she couldn’t stand up anymore.

“You haven’t learned anything.” You haven’t turned anything that you’ve just shown into your own skill! Especially.” He took a step back and said menacingly. “The Breathing technique that Urokodaki-san taught you, the concentrated breathing.”

Concentrated breathing? Her brother had mentioned that. Nezuko thought back. What was concentrated breathing? Her brain blanked out. She was becoming dizzy…

 

Her head was still hurting when she woke up.

"Are you alright?" Nezuko opened her eyes to a girl with another fox mask. The mask had two flowers on its right cheek. Unlike the boy, the mask didn't cover her face. The girl wore a cute flower kimono on the inside and black clothing on the outside. Her hair was black and her aqua eyes were gentle and showed kindness. She reminded her of her brother for some reason. The girl gazed at Nezuko and smiled.

Nezuko smiled weakly, her head was throbbing in pain. “I-I am.” She replied, her voice shaking from the beating she just got. The girl continued smiling.

 

The girl called herself Makomo, and Nezuko soon learned that the name of the boy with the scarred mask was Sabito. They talked like they knew Urokodaki- san. Perhaps they were also a student of Urokodaki-san as well? Nezuko would’ve liked more information, but that was all Makomo would tell Nezuko.

Makomo helped Nezuko with many of her mistakes and pointed out the places where she was lacking. As expected, she had a lot. Makomo helped patiently to improve her skills as Sabito did.

Whenever Nezuko asked where they have come from or why they were helping her, Makomo would only reply with, “We both adore Urokodaki-san very much.”

So all the increasing number of questions remained a mystery.

 

“Concentrated breathing,” Makomo explained, Nezuko paused to listen but kept adjusting her movements to get the movements right. “Is the acceleration of the blood flow and the beating of the heart. That way your body temperature rises up, you will be able to maintain a human form but be as powerful as the demons.”

“You have to increase your lung capacity and allow the maximum amount of air that you are able to hold to enter your bloodstream. When your blood is quickened, your bones and muscles will go into a panic mode and when your blood runs hot, you will become stronger.”

Nezuko thought on her words. While she kind of understood what it means and how it worked, she couldn’t understand how to do so.

“How do I do that?” Nezuko asked her.

Makomo looked at her with the usual sweet smile on her face. “Do you best to train, I don’t think there is any other path other than this path.”

 

“Ah, you met Sabito and Makomo?” Her brother said when Nezuko has explained about the meeting. Her brother was visiting, without telling Urokodaki-san, to her surprise. He was never the type to break rules.
Nezuko grinned.
“You know them?” She exclaimed, “The boy was really, really strong!!” Tanjirou smiled.
Nezuko realized then why Makomo reminded her of her brother. They both had a sweet but sad smile, with a gaze that seemed to be looking at something far beyond her reach. It looked like both of them went through something no one their age ever should.
“I’ll do my best and become just as strong.” She announced. Her brother’s eyes twinkled and gave her a small pat on her head.
“I’m sure you will.”

 

And so Nezuko trained. She did until she couldn't feel any pain because her fingers were so numb. Until it felt like she didn’t have fingers. When her lungs felt like it wanted to explode, her bones were about to crack, she continued on sorely from determination.

And she still wasn’t strong enough.

Sabito defeated her again and again. Her strength, mentally and physically, felt like it was going anywhere but up. This went on for months until Nezuko couldn’t remember just how long she has been training for. The mountain’s gloomy atmosphere didn’t help much.

“Nezuko? Are you listening?” She snapped out of her thoughts and saw her brother staring.

“Oh… Yeah! I am.” Nezuko lied.

She could tell that her brother didn’t believe her at all. He had a frown on his face and had a face that had disbelief all over. She sighed.

“I… I don’t think I can do this. I’m just not strong enough!” She exclaimed. Nezuko felt tears running down her face. Her brother pulled her into a hug. It was so nice. She relaxed in his arms.

“The stronger and faster side wins.” He pulled away, and for a moment, Nezuko missed it. For so long, she was alone in the mountain. Even her brother could only visit so many times for so long. She felt so sick and tired. “Make sure to take breaks. You can’t train all day without it.”

Nezuko nodded. Talking with her brother was always so refreshing.

 

Finally, she felt that today would be the last day. When she arrived at the meeting place, where she met Sabito and Makomo, Sabito was awaiting her. As usual, he had his mask on.

“You finally have a confident feeling surrounding you.” Sabito pointed his sword at her. A real sword and not a wooden one. “Nothing like you were the first time I met you.”

Her brother came by many times after that day. He helped her with her endurance as well as and helping her through the tough days.

She took a deep breath. They both charged at each other and to Nezuko’s surprise, she could follow Sabito’s movements. Nezuko slashed her sword down and it clanged against Sabito’s. She went back into a stance. Her heart pounded. She had managed to aim for Sabito and not lose in the first strike! Nezuko brought her sword up in time as Sabito slashed. She blocked the first strike and dodged the next one.

There was an opening.

Her body moved without her even thinking, and before she knew it, her body was ready for another slash. However, Sabito didn’t move.

She stared with her eyes wide. She did it. Nezuko had done it! That day, her blade reached Sabito before his. His mask had fallen into two pieces, revealing a smiling face full of sorrow and happiness.

“You must win Nezuko, against him too.” Nezuko tilted her head in confusion.

Behind her, Makomo whispered, “Please Nezuko. Stop him.”

Nezuko whirled around but never saw Makomo. She didn’t want to. Something inside her told her that when she turned around, Sabito wouldn’t be there either. They… They became a part of her life, and now they were gone? She somehow had a feeling that they would never come back as well. Nezuko shook the thought out.

She turned around, despite not wanting to, and saw that the fog had cleared up. In front of her was the rock.

The rock was sliced apart.

“You did it Nezuko.” Her brother said behind her. Nezuko didn’t know when he came, but she felt too distressed to jump. The two people - if they were even human - that had helped her through so much of her training just disappeared out of thin air as if they never existed.

Everything became blurry.

“Onii-chan, they’re not coming back, aren’t they?” Nezuko asked, her voice muffled from tears and her face in her brother's arms. He didn’t reply, but it felt like a silent yes.

 

After she finally calmed down, she and her brother went down the mountain, to where Urokodaki-san was waiting. He congratulated her for passing the test and let her clean up. Training in the mountain could make someone really dirty.

Once she was cleaned up, Urokodaki-san had given her some new clothes. And while her brother was helping her tie her long hair, Urokodaki-san talked to her.

“I didn’t want you joining the final selection.” He admitted. “the reason was that I couldn’t bear to see children die of this anymore.”

Nezuko thought of Sabito and Makomo. So they were the children?

Urokodaki-san sighed. “I didn’t count on you to be able to slice that rock. You did well.” He praised her. Nezuko smiled, Urokodaki-san sounded proud.

“Alright, I’m done.” Her brother announced. Nezuko stood up and twirled around for a joke. She stopped and giggled.

“Thanks, Onii-chan. It’s perfect.” Her brother handed her her familiar haori. A pretty violet that faded into black at the ends. She happily put it on.

Then Urokodaki-san gave her a mask. It was a fox mask, similar to the ones that Sabito and Makomo wore, except on hers had a tiny red flower on the corner of the right eye with a blue streak that flowed down from the flower, as if the mask was crying.

She looked up and saw her brother holding a similar mask. His mask had a large, red, sun on the forehead, as well as two small red dots on the corner of their mouths. It looked… happy.

Then arms wrapped around her. Nezuko looked up to see that it was Urokodaki-san. “Nezuko, you must come back alive from the final selection,” He asked her. No, demanded her. “This old man and your brother will be waiting for you right here."

Nezuko grinned. “Wait for me, Urokodaki-san, Onii-chan.”

 

 

The stairs she was to climb had Wisteria left and right, a flower that weaker demons couldn’t stand. The wisteria flower glowed violet, like her haori, and was pretty. She kind of wished to show some to her brother, but he wouldn’t be able to near it. It disappointed her a bit. Though from Urokodaki-san’s teaching, the flowers weren’t supposed to bloom this year.

Nezuko made her way up to a place many people were as well. From what she could tell, they were all around her age. many looked nervous, their teeth chattering, bodies shaking like they were standing before death. Though that was kind of the situation for some. And the few looked confident had their chests puffed out, a wide grin on their faces, and seemed prepared for whatever would come.

She finally made her way up and saw two little girls standing in front of what she assumed was the starting gate. One of the girls had black hair while the other had white.

The black-haired girl spoke up. “Greetings, everyone.” she greeted, “thank you all for joining the final selection tonight. There are many demons held captive on this mountain brought back by demon-killing swordsmen. They are unable to leave, meaning they are trapped in this place.” Nezuko peeked behind them. More stairs but no wisterias.

“As you see, from the bottom of the mountain to where we are, there are a lot of demon-repelling wisterias that bloom all year round.” The other girl continued.

Nezuko looked at where she came from. It was kind of hard to miss them.

“However, from here on out, there will be no more wisteria, only demons. Your task is to survive out there for seven days, then you will meet back on the other platform where there will be wisterias. If you do make it, you pass the final selection.” They both said in unison. Nezuko knew the selection would be hard, but for seven days…!

“Now let the final selection begin.” Nezyko jumped as everyone started rushing towards the gate.

It took a moment, but Nezuko took a deep breath and went up the stairs with confident strides. She was fully prepared to survive, no matter how long it would be.

 

 

It didn’t take long to find a demon. The demon was loud like they weren’t even trying to hide or anything.

“Hey hey,” they exclaimed. “I eat this.”

Demon, she confirmed once more.

Then another voice argued back. “No, no, I eat!” Nezuko froze. She hadn’t realized that there was another demon. She carefully unsheathed her sword and peeked over.

There was only one demon. At first look. As she looked closely, the demon had another face behind his head. They both shared the same body.

“Okay… it’s still one body, and this should be easier than cutting a huge rock in half.” Nezuko whispered to herself.

Breath of water: Fourth Style

Striking Tide

The sword swiftly cut their neck, and she landed behind them. By the time she sheathed her sword again, they had crumbled to nothing. Happiness overflowed. She had done it!

“I…I sliced them.” She smiled happily and cheered. “I’ve really gotten stronger!” Nezuko steadied herself, trying to get over the happiness of defeating a demon. Unlike the first time, where she depended on her brother, she did it by herself.

While she was relaxed and celebrating at her win, a large presence drew near. It was frightening and nothing like the demon she just fought against. It felt like the air around her had suddenly gotten colder. Nezuko couldn't ignore it, especially since there was a small presence of a human. And they were both heading towards her. Before she could even think about what to do, a boy came running out of a bush and into the clearing, screaming his head off. Nezuko frowned at the scream. It would only attract more demons.

“Wh-Why is there such a large type of mutant here?! I didn’t hear about this!” The boy screeched. Nezuko took one look and fully understood.

The demon has multiple arms, some were covering his neck, one holding a child by the neck, and others being used to push trees out of its way. One of the arms stretched like rubber and reached for the one that just arrived.

The boy fell onto the ground, a puddle of liquid below him. Nezuko gritted her teeth. What was she doing?! The boy was going to get eaten in front of her, and she was just going to stand there?

Move! She screamed at herself.

The demon’s hand grabbed the boy’s head. Right before it did, the boy turned to her. His pleading expression crushed her. Nezuko helplessly watched as the demon crushed his head, blood splattering on the ground and nearby trees.

The demon stared at her then it grinned wildly.

“Here comes.” He drew out each syllable, “another cute little fox.”

 

 

 

Tanjirou walked over to the rock that has been sliced in half and sat down in front of it.

“Sabito, Makomo.” He called out. “Thank you for helping my sister.” He felt the air shift for a moment and he knew that they were there.

“ …I don’t know you.” Sabito said bluntly. Tanjirou simply smiled.

“I know.”

“You are not what you seem to be,” Makomo spoke up. She stood there and stared at Tanjirou.

“I know.” Tanjirou simply said once more.

Even if they didn’t know him, seeing them was nice.

Tanjirou stood back up and gave one last look at the sliced rock. He gave a small pat before walking away. He should train while Nezuko was working hard in the Final Selection.

Chapter Text

"Hey little fox," The demon spoke with his terrible high pitch voice, "What year of the Meiji era is it?" A shiver ran down her spine. His voice was sharp sounded rusty, like metal that hasn’t been used for a long time. His tone wasn’t a type of threatening tone, but just hearing it was pushing her down to the ground. Nezuko winced at the pressure.

She realized that her body was trembling. Nezuko took slow breaths in attempts to calm herself down. She looked directly at the demon’s eyes. The demon looked back at her and she shuddered. For a moment, Nezuko felt like she met her doom.

She finally managed to reply. "... Why do you need to know?" Nezuko freaked out inside. Why wasn’t she attacking? It looked like the demon had his guard down, so it was a chance!

Who was she kidding? That demon was nothing like the previous ones. This one was more powerful, it ate so many people, and Nezuko could never defeat it. She wanted to cry. How was she supposed to do this?

"AHHH," The demon screamed. Her ears felt like bleeding at the pitch. His eyes were full of anger and Nezuko tightened the grip on her sword. She felt her shoulders tensing. "The era name, even the era name changed!! It's not enough at all!! I haven't eaten enough!! How long have I been locked up here in this place?!"

The demon slammed his feet on the ground, again and again. It felt like an earthquake, his stomps making the ground shake and making cracks on the ground. Her legs shook as well, the unstable ground was throwing her off, but she did her and grounded herself.

She couldn’t do this, he was too strong!

Her legs and her mind couldn’t coordinate, she couldn’t take a step back. She gritted her teeth as sweat dripped down her face. Her breaths became uneven as the tension worsened.

The demon reached out with its arm and tried to grab her.

The demon reached out with its multiple arms. Nezuko screamed at herself to move as the arm drew near. They got closer and closer until it towered and surround her, and it felt like the world around her disappeared.

She found herself on the ground, pain running through her back. Nezuko blinked out the tears falling out and saw the demon grinning. He lifted his hand again and prepared to slam down on her. With her legs shaking, she crawled away in time as his hand hit the ground where she was at.

Nezuko used a tree as support and stood up. She tried to grab her sword but found her waist empty. Then she saw that her sword had been blown away from the first hit.

The demon tried to kill her again, but she used this chance to rush towards her sword. There it was, lying between bushes, the hilt visibly sticking out. Her hands gripped the hilt, and she rolled out of the way from the demon’s attack as it struck again.

The demon paused and stared at her. His glare was full of annoyance. She stared back, huffing. The fear was slowing down her movements, as well as making her short of breath quicker.

She gulped, unsure if she’ll survive.

“You can do it Nezuko.” Nezuko heard her brother say. “I believe in you.”

She was always amazed at her brother’s ability to stay strong even in the toughest times. Nezuko helped out with their mother’s job regularly, but just that was hard. So she could only imagine how tough it was being the oldest in the family.

She bet he would be able to defeat the demon without hesitation or fear. She hesitated, can she do it?

Of course, she can. Nezuko glared without fear and took a deep breath.

Then the world came back into view and Nezuko ducked low and cut the arms from below.

Breath of Water; Third style

Dance of the Rapid Current.

The multiple arms fell onto the ground, contrary to the demon’s liking. The arms dropped to the ground with a splatter, as if it were sacks of rice dropping from the sky splattering everywhere.

The demon roared and croaked, he stared at her and it’s face twisted with anger and hatred. He stomped on the floor and the arms regenerated faster than she expected, but he didn’t attack her. Instead, the demon started screaming a name. She froze. The name was one she knew very well.

"UROKODAKI!" He screamed. "DAMN YOU!!!"

Nezuko listened in horror. Urokodaki-san had a history with the demon?

"What did you do to Urokodaki-san?"

"Me?! HA! It was Urokodaki who captured me and I will never forget that moment." His voice quieted down a bit. "It was during the Edo period, during the Keio era!"

That was decades ago. How… How many people had he eaten during that time? Nezuko was horrified. While Nezuko was frozen in horror at the new information, the demon started counting. He used his hands, counting from one. Her instincts screamed at her to sneak away while the demon was counting.

“ … twelve, thirteen…” Nezuko gulped. The demon finally stopped. He had an arm up for fourteenth but didn’t say it. He grinned widely and pointed at her. “Fourteen, you’re the fourteenth.” He giggled and covered his mouth like he was embarrassed.

What did he mean by the fourteenth?

Nezuko didn't want to know the answer.

“Heehee, I’m counting up the number of Urokodaki’s students I’ve eaten. I decided to kill all of them.” His arm reached over to her and he tapped her mask. “This fox mask is a mark.”

Nezuko’s blood turned cold. She realized why the demon was so gleeful when it saw her. She was his next meal. At first, Nezuko felt cold. She was frozen from terror, but then it turned into anger.

“Speaking of which, the ones that left me with the best impressions were this pair of kids. The kid with the rare hair colour was the strongest. He had pink hair and a scar on one of the corners of his mouth.” Nezuko didn’t want to listen to him anymore. Nezuko had guessed that Sabito and Makomo were… dead, but to think they died from being eaten… “The other one was a little girl wearing flower-patterned clothing, she wasn’t very strong but she was quick and light with her movements.”

Nezuko felt something salty. She reached up to her face and found herself crying. She started shaking. Her body couldn’t hold herself up, her grip on her sword shaking. However, it wasn’t because of fear.

The demon seemed to notice how much this was affecting her. He continued with his awful voice. “They’re all in my stomach because they were wearing the mask. It’s as if Urokodaki killed them himself.”

The world started to violently shake around her. Like an earthquake, but with the sky as well. It was sickening.

“Fufufu, when I said these words to the little girl, she was so angry that she had tears at the corner of her eyes, after that, her movements became rigid. So I plucked off her arms and legs.” He motioned what he had done. He grabbed a tree and ripped off multiple thick branches. The tree appeared above her, and Nezuko only watched. She was going to be killed.

Breath of Flower; Fifth Style

Peony of Futility

The trees were sliced into pieces. Nezuko saw a girl with a light pink haori landing softly on her feet as she came down from the air. Her butterfly ornament shined in the moonlight, an empty smile on her face. She looked at the demon before turning to Nezuko. The demon screeched and tried to punch her. Nezuko scrambled to her feet. Her body moved by herself, determined to not let the demon kill the girl.

Breath of Water; Fourth Style

Striking Tide

Her sword sliced through one arm after another, until she was only a step away from the demon. The ground rumbled under her, and for another second, she thought it was another tantrum from the demon. However, the demon was quiet.

The rumble underneath her worsened and Nezuko felt that she didn’t want to take a chance. It was a split second, but it was enough. She leaped up and there was enough distance between her and the demon’s arm that she couldn’t be caught.

Then the girl stepped in and sliced the arm. It fell onto the ground, and the arm slithered back into the ground. Nezuko landed, unfortunately rather harshly, and the girl didn’t even let the demon take a breath.

Breath of Flower; Sixth Style

Swirling Peach

The girl went for the demon’s neck but the demon’s arms blocked her way, which slowed down her speed, and forced her back. The girl did it so swiftly and without unnecessary movements.

Nezuko noticed just how steady the girl was. What made her different from her own? Was it just skills? Or practice?

Oh, it was her breathing. Nezuko probably would have never noticed it, but working with Makomo made her notice her mistakes. Her own breathing was erratic and uneven, affecting how much she could use the Breath of Water to the fullest, as well as making her movements rough. When using the Breath of Water, she should be flexible, like water.

Full Focus

Breath of Water; First style

Water Surface Slice

It was like her body was moving on her own. She could tell the difference, her body felt light, and she could control it without having to use so much effort. Like water, she felt flexible.

Nezuko leaped into the air, in the corner of her eyes she saw the girl watching her silently. With her sword ready in her hand, her eyes locked at a certain point, though she wasn't sure what about it was attracting her, she swung.

The blade sliced ever so smoothly through the demon’s arms that covered his neck. There was a surprised look on the demon’s face and probably herself as well. His head slid off his body and landed on the ground, bits of him starting to crumble to dust. Nezuko landed, kind of roughly, and she tumbled backward. Her back hit the ground and saw that the girl was watching her, she stared back.

“DAMN IT!!!” The demon screamed before fully turning to dust.

Once the demon was gone, the girl turned and started walking back. Nezuko tried to stand up and stumbled but caught herself.

“W-Wait!” She reached out. Nezuko’s hand grabbed the girl’s sleeve, forcing the girl to a halt. Nezuko realized what she did and flushed red. “I- I just want to- uhm,” Nezuko stammered. Her brain was still trying to keep up with what had happened.

“I just want to say thank you! If you hadn’t come, I would’ve died!” She managed to get out. The girl didn’t show any reaction but Nezuko continued anyway. “My name is Nezuko! Kamado Nezuko. What’s yours?”

It was probably a terrible time to do this, but Nezuko felt that she could get along with the girl very well. However, the girl didn’t reply at all.

Nezuko fiddled with her sleeve. Oh. She was still holding the girl’s sleeve. Nezuko let it go and watched as the girl enter further into the forest. She shouted out a bye before turning the other way to continue the selection.

Nezuko sighed. The Final Selection probably wouldn’t get any harder now.

 

 

 

Tanjirou slid open the door to Urokodaki-san’s house.

“So Tanjirou as well…” He heard him mumble. Tanjitou tilted his head.

“Urokodaki-san, did you say my name?” Urokodaki-san’s head snapped up and for a few moments. A dim light from the single candle lighting the room flickered. Tanjirou waited for a reply.

“It’s not my place to tell you.” He finally replied. Tanjirou lifted a brow, what did Urokodaki-san mean by not in his place? “Have you completed your training?”

Tanjirou nodded, he thought of all the things he had found out. “Yes! I completed the usual training as well as trying out the Breath of Water. My body is starting to go back to the state it was before.” He stretched his back and arms, thinking back on what had been happening in the last couple of months. Urokodaki-san didn’t seem too surprised at the fact that Tanjirou had travelled through time, it was as if it wasn’t the first time in the situation.

They had a chat on what to do next. Urokodaki-san asked if he would stay here but he couldn’t leave Nezuko by herself. Tanjirou didn’t want this to happen in the first place, he was too focused on not letting Nezuko become a demon that he hadn’t thought of the consequences. Now Nezuko was in the Final Selection Arc trying to become a demon slayer.

“Tanjirou. How will you be walking around?”

He blanked.

Walking around… he hadn’t thought of that! Urokodaki-san seemed to have noticed his sudden panicking and had been prepared because he brought out a very familiar mask and scarf. Tanjirou was confused about why he brought it out until his mind made the connection. It could probably block the sun from hitting him, though it might be uncomfortable, it was a much better choice than the other, where he would only drag Nezuko down.

Urokodaki-san wrapped the blue scarf around his neck and put the mask on his head.

“Use these to cover yourself from the sun.” He murmured.

 

 

 

Seven days had officially passed and Nezuko successfully came down. The sight of other humans was so relieving. Other than the first day, she only managed to meet one or two other humans. Seeing demons all day and every day for a week wasn’t fun.

The sunrise was a beautiful added bonus.

“Welcome back.” Greeted both the black and white-haired girls. They waited silently for the other survivors to calm down. Well, mostly this boy with golden hair wearing a haori with little triangles.

He was repeatedly muttering with his head in his hands, “Will die, will die, will die..” Just being near him was making her a bit nervous as well. She took several steps back and almost bumped into someone. She recognized her immediately.

The girl had a few butterflies fluttering around her. A few others had flown away because of Nezuko though. Apologies and thank yous were stuck on the tip of her tongue but it didn’t come out. Seven days without talking affected her throat, she had to cough several times.

“Even if we survived, we’ll all die in the end…” She heard the timid boy mutter. Nezuko contemplated on stomping over to him and telling him to stop or just letting him be, the test could’ve affected him after all.

Unlike him, who seemed like he was probably scarred for life, or unlike the girl who looked very unfazed, There was another boy who seemed more annoyed than anything. He had a tough look about him, with his messy hair, scarred face, and how he held himself.

“Hey, what about the blade?” He impatiently asked.

The two girls, as if this was an ordinary occurrence, continued on, unfazed. “You must first pay the cost for your uniform, then get your body measured and have your rank engraved.”

“There are ten ranks in total. Kinoe, Kinoto, Hinoe, Hinoto, Tsuchinoe, Tsuchinoto, Kanoe, Kanoto, Mizunoe, Mizunoto. You are currently at the lowest, Mizunoto."

"What about the blade?" The boy asked again.

"Today you each will choose a chunk of tamahagane alloy. Your blade will be completed within 10 to 15 days after, also," the girl with white hair clapped her hands."From now on, a Kasugaigarasu crow will be following you." A flock of birds flew down, landing near or on each of them.

Kasugaigarasu, huh... Nezuko reached over at the crow on her shoulder. She ran her fingers through its feathers. It didn’t react. It didn’t seem like the regular crows that she has seen in the mountains.

“A crow?” Nezuko giggled. One of the boys had a sparrow sitting on top of his head. The boy pointed at the bird with confusion. “Isn’t this a sparrow?”

The black-haired twin spoke up this time. "Kasugaigarasu is a crow that is primarily used for comuni-"

A crow was slammed in front of her. She bent down in horror and checked if it was alright.

“Caww!!” It cried. She glared up at the boy. It was the one with a scarred face.

“I don’t care about some dumb crow!” He growled. He stomped towards the girls and forcibly pulled on the twin with black hair. She didn’t show any resistance. “I want the blade, the blade of the demon slayer corps. The colour changing sword!!!” He tugged on her hair a few times.

Nezuko grabbed his wrist with both her hands. “Let go of her!”

He tried to swing his arm, but Nezuko held still. He was strong, Nezuko planted her feet on the ground to keep herself from toppling over.

“Or else what?!” She opened her mouth, unsure what to reply, so she simply stared. She stared with as much fierceness as the boy. She refused to back down.

After some time, the black-haired girl spoke up. "Are you done?"

Nezuko broke the eye contact. "Yes." She muttered.

"Yes." Nezuko broke away from the staring contest.

"Then, please go over there and personally choose the alloy that will be used to create your blade." She motioned to the table filled with what she called tamahagane alloys. Nezuko looked over the rocks. They all seemed the same, weren’t they?

Her eyes landed on each rock until she arrived at a certain one. Its edges sparkled from the sun, and it felt like she could look through it. Her hand reached over and grabbed it before she realized what she was doing.

Oddly, she felt content.

 

 

 

Tanjirou could smell her before she arrived. Her sweet, strawberry scent reached him before she did.

"Nezuko!" He pushed the door open and rushed outside. Their eyes met. He took large steps to reach her, he wrapped his arms around her and she leaned on him. Tears fell out of her eyes.

"I missed you Onii-chan..." She cried.

"You did it. You survived the Final Selection." He patted her head in comfort.

Large arms surrounded them. “You came back to us alive,” Urokodaki-san said softly, his tone full of relief.

Despite the fact that his face was hidden, Tanjirou knew - he could tell, as tears were falling out of his mask. Tanjirou, feeling responsible for Urokodaki-san having to go through the fear of losing another child, reached up and rested his hand on top of his head.

The hardships have yet to come, but for now, let us celebrate this small win. One by one we'll win this war, once again.

 

 

 

Nezuko went to rest inside because she was tired from the Final Selection. Tanjirou waited until she was asleep, then went outside to see Urokodaki-san staring at the split opened rock. Tanjiro smiled and walked up to him.

“No more children will die in the hands of that demon,” Tanjirou whispered.

Urokodaki-san nodded. The scent of sadness was in the air, and Tanjirou felt that he should leave Urokodaki-san to himself. He headed back towards the house, looked back at the figure which was now surrounded by mist before going back to his sister.

 

Fifteen days later, someone with a familiar scent came near. A grin broke out on Tanjirou’s face as memories came flooding back. Since Nezuko was still asleep, he went out to greet Haganeduka-san instead. The sound of wind chimes from his hat and a flower-patterned haori rested on his shoulder. Same as the first time, he carried the box containing the sword.

Ah, but it wasn't for him this time. Nor would it be ever.

"My name is Haganeduka. I am the one that has forged the blade that will be used by Kamado Nezuko." Haganduka introduced himself.

"I am Kamado Tanjirou. The one you've forged the blade for is my sister, who is currently inside. So please come in and have a seat." Tanjirou rushed out. He couldn't afford Haganeduka-san interrupting him.

"This is..." Haganeduka-san stopped. Without lifting his head, he asked, "You are not Kamado Nezuko?" Tanjirou nodded frantically.

"Please, come in and have a seat. I'll wake my sister up." Tanjirou motioned inside. Haganeduka-san sat quietly before standing up and entered the house. Tanjirou stood outside and watched happily as Haganeduka-san went inside. He cheered silently. Tanjirou had managed to convince Haganeduka-san to come into the house! What an accomplishment!

Nezuko was awake when he entered. "Onii-chan?" She tilted her head. "What's going on?"

"Oh, Nezuko! This is Haganeduka-san, the one who has forged your blade." Tanjirou introduced. He went to sit beside her.

Nezuko gave a quiet 'oh'.

"This is the Nichirin Blade. I forged this blade." Oh, there he goes. Tanjirou sighed. Well, it was going to be hard to stop him anytime soon. "The Nichirin blade's raw materials are Iron sand and Ore from the highest mountain that is closest to the sun. 'Secret crimson iron sand' and 'scarlet crimson ore'. They are metals that have absorbed the sunlight."

"Um, Haganeduka-san..." Nezuko attempted.

"The mountain the materials are from, the sunlight mountain, is bathed in sunlight all year round. Never troubled by clouds or rain."

"Haganeduka-san! Could you-" At Nezuko’s attempts to get his attention, he lifted his head. Nezuko face froze and she stifled a laugh. "... PFFT!" Nezuko immediately covered her mouth and turned red in embarrassment.

Haganeduka-san stared at her for some time then turned towards him. Tanjirou could guess what he would say next.

"Ahh, you guys are the 'children of burning crimson', right?" His voice sounded hopeful. Oh, how sad Haganeduka-san was when Tanjirou’s blade had been black.

“Children of burning crimson?” Nezuko inquired.

"A child of a burning crimson has red hair and eyes." He pointed towards Tanjirou as an example.

Nezuko took a look at her hair. "I have black hair though?" Nezuko lifted some strands to show Haganeduka-san. Tanjirou thought back. Her hair had changed when she had turned into a demon, hadn't it?

"Ah, and I'm not a demon slayer," Tanjirou pointed at himself. Haganeduka-san's pointing finger stabbed his cheeks.

"Why? I could have witnessed a bright crimson coloured blade this time!" Tanjirou chuckled.

"My blade wouldn't have turned red anyway." He got confused stares. Well, no wonder. They weren't the ones travelling through time. His mouth twitched, he was tempted to smile.

Urokodaki-san broke the odd moment. "Alright, Nezuko. Try and pull the blade out of its scabbard." He told Nezuko. Tanjirou sat by her side and watched as she smoothly pulled it out. "The blade changes colour based on each individual owner." He said as the blade turned into azure, a beautiful shade of blue.

"Wow." Nezuko gasped. "Beautiful." Haganeduka-san jumped up.

"I thought I could see a red blade from one of you!!! Damnit-" Haganeduka-san leaped forward. Tanjirou immediately stopped him. By getting in front, they crashed together and Haganeduka-san started struggling and reached his arms out to grab Nezuko.

"Ow ow ow, please calm down Haganeduka-san!" Tanjirou winced while Nezuko laughed and backed away. Urokodaki-san joined in as well and struggled to get Haganeduka-san off of him. Tanjirou honestly thought that it would go forever until the Kasugaigarasu caw-ed.

"Caaaaw, Caawmado Nezuko, hurry and go to the North West town!! Caaw!" Tanjirou really should've expected it, but he flinched at the sudden crow and ended up head-butting Haganeduka-san. He fell to his back, clutching his forehead. His hat fell off and the wind chimes crashed onto the ground.

"A-a mission already!?" Nezuko squeaked. The crow flew onto her shoulder.

"In the North West town, young girls are constantly disappearing! Every night, young girls are constantly disappearing!"

 

 

 

"The uniform of the demon hunters is made of a special fabric. It has good air permeability and is also resistant to moisture and fire. The claws and teeth of weak demons can't even rip this uniform open."

"Wow!" Nezuko exclaimed. She adjusted her clothes. "It's comfortable too. Hey onii-chan, how are you going to travel?" Tanjirou grinned. He reached over to his pile of clothes and grabbed his mask and scarf. The mask had a red sun on the left ear, as it did before.

He wrapped his old scarf around his neck and put his mask on his head. “How's this?"

"Well," Nezuko stated, "It's better than what I've thought of." She giggled out. He pulled off the fox mask. He pulled his scarf so it went over his head. "But how do you know it'll work?"

He laughed nervously. "Oh... uh, don't worry, it'll work!" Nezuko glared at him. She opened her mouth, fully ready to talk to her brother. "Let's go!" Tanjirou interrupted before she could actually speak. "Or the crow will complain again!"

They hugged and waved Urokodaki-san goodbye.

Nezuko eyed him before leading him outside and okay. Tanjirou may have underestimated how much the sun could affect him. Despite wearing all the layers of clothes he was wearing, the sun prickled his skin. He hoped quietly, that Nezuko wouldn't notice.

They passed by a boy with devastation all over him. Tanjirou remembered the boy that had just passed them. Kazumi-san. The girl he loved was the last victim if he remembered right.

Oh... She could've been saved if I remembered about him earlier. Tanjirou bit his lips. If he had arrived earlier...

"Kazumi-san looks devastated. He was right beside Satoko when she was taken." Nearby women gossiped. "It's so unsettling that this happens every night."

Nezuko whispered in his ear beside him. "Onii-chan," Nezuko whispered in his ear. She pointed to Kazumi-san. Tanjirou nodded and they both started to follow him.

Excuse me," Nezuko called out when they were alone. "Kazumi-san? I'd like to ask you some questions about your current situation." Kazumi-san flinched and looked back at them with wide eyes, then looked around, as if just realizing where he was. Nezuko smiled and the boy looked at them, dark circles under his eyes with his cheeks bright red. Kazumi-san hesitantly nodded.

 

"... and when I turned around, she disappeared." Kazumi-san finished. He nervously bit his nails. "You might not believe me..."

Nezuko grabbed his hand with hers and looked straight into his eyes. "I believe you! We both do, right onii-chan?" She turned to him. Tanjirou nodded in agreement. He knew and believed that Kazumi-san was telling the truth.

Tanjirou checked the sky. It was sundown currently, so it wouldn't be long before he could move freely without the mask and the scarf restricting his view.

“The demon won’t appear until nighttime when it’s time for his next meal…” Nezuko muttered. Kazumi-san’s face turned to horror. Nezuko snapped her attention to him, “Ah, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be sacrificing someone or anything! Anyway, we should head towards someplace more open first.” Kazumi-san nodded warily.

 

It became night time. Tanjirou pulled the mask to his side and pulled down his scarf. He trudged ahead of Neko and Kazumi-san and sniffed around for the demon. So far, he didn’t pick up any scent.

"!" And there it was! He turned to Nezuko, who turned to Kazumi-san.

"Lead us, Onii-chan!" Nezuko pushed him forward. Tanjirou followed the scent with Nezuko right behind him. Kazumi-san called out to them, confused about what was happening.

Nezuko shouted back to him. "It’s the demon!"

Tanjirou took a quick glance around the area. The scent of the demon was slowly disappearing. It was probably going underground. He gritted his teeth, he needed a shortcut. He leaped up and landed as gently as he could on a nearby roof. Without pausing, he pressed on, jumping from house to house. The scent was getting stronger as he continued on, he can accurately locate them now. He landed on the ground, several feet away from the scent.

Nezuko caught up to him, huffing a little. He pointed at the area. "Nezuko! Stab down!" She looked at him in confusion at the sudden instruction but brought up her sword - and stabbed down. Some black ooze slowly came out from the ground, a body following. Tanjirou grabbed her immediately and pulled the girl away from the demon’s reach. Kazumi-san came up to them, huffing loudly.

"Hey!” Nezuko screamed, her body between them and the demons, “Where did you take all of the women you've abducted?!" The demon gritted their teeth harshly and sank down until it was only their eyes above ground. Tanjirou handed the girl to Kazumi-san.

"Please hold onto her." Kazumi-san did, although lost on what was happening. This was probably all overwhelming to him. Nezuko’s sword slashed through the air.

Her sword cut the demon’s forehead and didn’t affect much. A little bit of blood trickled down the demon but that was all. They sank below ground, the black liquid following him. Nezuko pulled back to his side. It was just in time. The demon appeared from the ground and made attempts to pull Nezuko down, but only grabbed the air. Nezuko slid lower and struck from below. The demon howled in pain and slithered backward.

“You bastard! Stop getting in my way, that woman will go stale if I don’t eat her soon.” They hissed out. “She’s already 16!!!”

“Don’t fret my duplicate.” Nezuko and Kazumi-san turned towards the roof, where the original demon was standing. Tanjirou kept his eye on the copy. “I’ve already had my fill of girls from this town.” They smiled in satisfaction.

The copy grumbled. "Well, I'm not, I want to eat more!"

Kazumi-san spoke up, his voice trembling and face full of fear. "You m-monster..." A single teardrop rolled down his cheek, "the girl you kidnapped yesterday night... Give her back to me… Give Satoko back to me, immediately!" His voice grew larger and larger, eventually, he yelled the last sentence out. Fully determined. Then the third demon finally came into view.

The demon tilted its head. "Who's Satoko? If that girl's hairpin is in this collection, then that means I've already eaten her." He revealed his collection. There were so many hairpins that Tanjirou couldn’t count. He clenched his fist. Nezuko gasped in front of him, probably thinking the same as him. So many have been eaten.

Kazumi-san collapsed on the ground, holding a petrified expression. His shaking hand pointed at the collection. “That…” His voice trailed off.

Nezuko’s back straightened. "You-" Nezuko made an attempt to move forward, only for one of the demons to come out from the ground and try to punch her. Nezuko was forced back. Tanjirou stepped in and slammed the demon’s arm to the ground, making a quick crunching sound. The demon slithered away, dragging its broken arm on the ground.

"You… Now that I look at you... You're a demon!” It shouted.

The other two made a disgusted sound. “Why is a demon working with a human?" They both glared at him. Tanjirou stared back.

There was a startled gasp behind him. "D-demon?" Kazumi-san looked at him, fear in his eyes. Tanjirou winced, it wasn’t a good time for this.

"Ah!" Tanjirou turned at Nezuko's startled cry. She was being forced down into the demon's area. "Onii-chan!” Tanjirou reached over and grabbed her outstretched hand. Nezuko came out of the puddle and they both tumbled back. A single hand stopped him from falling to the ground. Kazumi-san looked surprised at what he had done but didn’t retract his hand. Tanjirou gave him a smile, thankful for the support.

“Thanks, Kazumi-san!” He thanked. Nezuko stood up first and cut off the arm that had attacked them. Tanjirou bolted towards him as fast as he could, successfully surprising the demon, and kicked him in the stomach. They coughed and fell right back underground. Its copy leaped at them from above.

Full Focus

Breath of Water; Seventh style

Piercing Rain Drop

Nezuko’s sword pierced right through the demon’s neck, its blood spattered on her. The real demon, the one who had been watching from the sidelines, hissed. It dove underground and disappeared. Tanjirou searched, ignoring the two demon scent from the one that was now dead and the other of the demon he had kicked.

“Onii-chan!” He turned to his sister, who had landed on the roof. She was covered in a little bit of blood, and she looked ready to jump down. She was staring not at him, but rather something behind him. Thanks to his reflexes and nose, he realized the demon was behind him.

He barely avoided a stab to the eye; the demon sliced his jaw. Tanjirou held his jaw, his haori was beginning to stain with blood.

Full Focus

<>Breath of Water; Second Style

Water Wheel

Tanjirou tumbled out of the way, just in time for Nezuko to cut the demon’s neck, and barely missed being sliced as well.

Nezuko lightly landed on the ground and sheathed her sword. They both silently stared at the disappearing body.

Nezuko’s eyes widened. “Ah! We forgot to ask him about Muzan!” She bit her bottom lip. “That was unsuccessful.”

Tanjirou sighed. It wasn’t like they were going to get any information anyway. "Kazumi-san. Are you alright?" Tanjirou asked. The unfortunate man was still sitting on the ground. His shoulders were slumped over, his face on one of his hand, his other still holding the girl.

He looked up with devastation on his face. "... I've already lost my fiancee. Do you think I'd be alright after that?!" He put his hand on Kazumi-san’s shoulders.

"Kazumi-san. No matter how much you have lost, you don't have a choice but to continue living with strength, No matter how severe of a blow you took." Kazumi-san grabbed hold of his haori.

"Why would a kid like you know anything about this?!" Tanjirou smiled sadly. He knew more than he wished he knew.

He stood up.

"I'll be leaving now." He handed Kazumi-san the stack of hairpins, "Take this if only Satoko's hairpin is here as well."

Nezuko tugged on his sleeves. She pointed up to the sky."Onii-chan. The sun's coming up." Tanjirou nodded and put on the mask and pulled the scarf up. She took his hand and they both walked down to the main street.

"I-I'm sorry!" Kazumi-san shouted behind them. Tanjirou stopped walking. "I've said some things that were overly cruel to you! Please forgive me!" He turned back and waved him goodbye, Nezuko dong the same.

"Wow.” Nezuko breathed out, “So we'll be regularly doing missions like those, huh.”

Tanjirou chuckled. Not really. He thought. With no doubt, Muzan would be after them soon or later.

“I'm exhausted." Nezuko groaned. “Do we get to rest?” As soon as she said that out loud, the Kasugaigarasu appeared. The crow landed on the ground in front of us, tilting its head, it cawed loudly.

"The next location is Asakusa in Tokyo Prefecture!"

Nezuko’s shoulders slumped. "Ehh?? So soon?" She whined. The crow fluttered its wings wildly and pecked her foot.

"Go now!" Nezuko let out a frustrated sound. Tanjirou bent down and picked up the crow gently. It shook around, trying to get free, but Tanjirou held on. He checked to make sure Nezuko wasn’t bleeding or anything.

She sighed. "I'll go!!!" She exclaimed.

 

 

It didn’t take long for them to arrive at the next destination. Nezuko seemed really tired, however, from the lack of rest. She looked very exhausted. Not only that, but she wasn't used to a city environment, so she was probably overwhelmed. He tugged her towards a more quiet place. Nezuko sighed in relief.

"Thanks, onii-chan." She flopped down to the ground. Nezuk’s gaze turned towards the large crowd. “A city is really different, huh.” Tanjirou pulled off his mask. He gave her a small smile.

“It is kind of overwhelming, isn’t it?” He said. The city lights were very bright, though not as much as the sun, and the buildings were much higher than what she would be used to. Everything would seem much larger.

Nezuko stared at him. “You don’t seem very affected, Onii-chan.” She stated. Tanjirou laughed nervously, well, it wasn’t his first time in a city after all… He tried to think of something to say.

His eyes wandered from Nezuko back to the crowd…

And landed on Muzan's.

Tanjirou could recognize it anywhere. Muzan didn’t seem to care much for him until recognition came over his face. It soon turned to disgust and anger. They both stared at each other for what it seemed like forever. Tanjirou felt a shiver down his back, but he refused to back down. With as much strength in him as possible, Tanjirou continued to glare at him, Muzan doing the same.

He wondered if he should head over to him. This time, show Muzan that he wasn’t a small pest that could be gotten rid of.

No. He told himself. That would make things worse. The man who wasn’t involved would turn into a demon. Tanjirou couldn’t let that happen. So he helplessly did what he could only do at the moment. With his nose in the air, he told Muzan that he will fight back, whether he would like it or not.

Eventually, his ‘wife’ came over to him and they left. Tanjirou watched every single moment until he was out of sight.

“... Onii-chan… Is something wrong?” Tanjirou forced himself to look away from the crowd.

“No. Nothing at all.” He lied. Nezuko looked unconvinced. She didn’t reply and instead continued to watch him like she was waiting for him to tell the truth. Nezuko sighed. “Okay.” Tanjirou frowned. He felt heavy. He didn’t like lying to his sister at all.

Nezuko looked at him expectantly, but Tanjirou continued being silent. He couldn’t burden his sister with all this… Then Tanjirou tensed. He felt a demon heading straight towards them. He grabbed Nezuko and pulled her towards him.

“Uwah!” Nezuk squeaked out. As soon as he did, a ball crashed into where she was sitting. Nezuko gaped at the wall that was now very cracked. Pieces of the wall crumbled down.

“Ahahaha! There they are!” A girl’s gleeful voice yelled out. Tanjirou’s jaw tightened. This was earlier than he expected.

Chapter Text

“That’s not good,” Tanjirou muttered. It hadn’t been long since he and Muzan saw each other. Just how impatient was he, sending two demons so quickly? And from the little scent of blood coming from the two, he assumed they were demons just born.

“Just like he said! A girl with a katana and a demon with earrings!” The girl demon giggled hysterically. Nezuko froze for a brief moment, her fingers twitching towards the hilt of her sword. The demon stepped forward, and Nezuko immediately unsheathed her katana, ready for battle. The demon’s wide grin became even wider and threw one of the balls she was holding.

Tanjirou reacted faster than Nezuko. He reached out and grabbed Nezuko’s arm. He pulled her aside as the ball went flying past where she was standing. The ball crashed into a wall and bounced right back out; and into her hand.

“Thanks, Onii-chan!” Nezuko cried, stumbling to gain her balance. She raised her katana again, this time ready for the attack. The girl hurled the ball in the same direction, earning a confused noise from Nezuko. Tanjirou pulled Nezuko aside as the ball suddenly changed its course. It followed them, and up slamming right into Nezuko’s arm. She bumped into him, sending them both stumbling back. Nezuko clenched her arm in pain.

“It doesn’t look broken.” Tanjirou checked over her arm. Nezuko sighed in relief.

“Okay.”

Tanjirou glanced up at the two demons. “I’ll take the demon with the Temari balls and you go for the other one.” He whispered in her ear. Nezuko slightly nodded. She stood right up and dashed to the left.

The girl demon made an attempt to follow her, but Tanjirou stood up and shifted to stand in front of her.

“So you’re going to play with me!”

The demon girl giggled maniacally and threw the Temari balls over and over again. It came at him from all sides and with his best efforts, he dodged most of them. Some simply scratched him, while some struck his bones. Tanjirou cursed under his breath. He couldn’t dodge forever. He would eventually become slower and be defeated.

Tanjirou cursed under his breath. He had no sword. The only way to defeat her would be with the sun, but then he would also turn into ashes and die.

He quickly leaned to the side as another ball flew at him. He tripped over the rocks that had crumbled down from the nearby walls. Before he could land flat on his face, Tanjirou managed to save his fall by somersaulting. Before he knew it, thousands of tiny rocks flew past his face. He squinted and covered his face, stopping the rocks from damaging his eyes.

He turned around and paled. There was a large hole at the spot he was at. Everything around it was cracked and looked like it could break at a single touch.

Tanjirou gulped. That could’ve been him.

He turned around and sneaked away from the hole. There was dust flying about everywhere, so it was his chance while the girl demon couldn’t see him clearly.

He headed towards the demon girl. Currently, there was no plan on what to do after he was near her, but he did so anyway. He leaped up to the top of the wall, luckily there was space for him to stand on, and he got himself a good angle.

Then he used his head.

Literally.

He jumped down, head first, and slammed it onto the girl’s head. She choked and fell onto her back. Tanjirou looked at her anxiously.

… She was unconscious. Tanjirou let out a breath. It worked.

Tanjirou didn’t take time to rest and headed to where Nezuko was. He had only realized that Nezuko couldn’t see where or which way the arrow is coming from. How can he be so stupid!

He had to hurry to her.

 

 

 

Nezuko jumped backwards and grimaced as she felt something tugging her arm and twisting it backwards. Nezuko panicked and charged up the wall, jumped, and twisting herself in the same direction as her arm was pulled. So far, she couldn’t manage to land a single hit on that demon.

Nezuko jumped away as she felt the air beside her change and ripple, then charged at him once again. The demon held out his hand once again and she felt the air current on both sides of her shoulders change, so she jumped.

As Nezuko somersaulted backwards, she was pulled in a weird direction. Judging by the direction it pulled her, she would dive into the ground. She gritted her teeth, ignoring the pain as she raised her katana.

Full Focus

Breath of Water; Second Style

Water Wheel

The ground underneath her cut open and Nezuko charged up and raised her katana once again to slice the arms of the demon.

Full Focus

Breath of Water; Second Style

Water Surface Slash

The demon gritted his teeth as he backed away, grabbing his now de-attaches arm. Nezuko jumped back as he raised his hands again and she was pulled into the sky. She then remembered one thing that she has forgotten ever since that day.

 

She stared at the poor baby bird. It chirped at the tall tree in front of them, a particular branch had a messy nest on it.

Nezuko assumed the bird had fallen. Poor thing. It was shivering, its feathers prickled up and frozen from the cold. It seemed like the softness of the newly fallen snow had softened its fall. Nezuko worried, there were many winter animals that could attack the bird. Her heart sped up at the horrid thought and panicked.

She huffed, her breath visible from the cold, and gently put the bird in her hands. The bird chirped and fluttered widely, unwilling to be carried. She decided. She would climb the tree.

Luckily, there were branches near the ground, within her reach. Nezuko grabbed hold of the nearest branch and quietly whimpered at the small pieces of wood pricking her hand. She was determined to place the bird back. She leaned against the tree and grabbed hold of another branch and pulled herself up with the help of another branch. It was difficult with only one arm, but Nezuko managed.

It took what seemed like hours when she finally reached the nest. Nezuko sat down on a thick branch to get some breaths in. Climbing the tree took a lot out of her.

After her heart started to beat more evenly, she leaned forward and gently placed the bird in the nest, making sure not to disturb the other birds or messing up the nest. She beamed as the bird chirped happily. It rested itself into the nest, its stiff wing loosened.

Nezuko made her way down, grabbing a branch with her hands, then pushing her feet down onto a lower one. She trembled at the height but continued on.

A step at a time. Grab the branch, put her feet down. Grab the branch, put the feet down. One mistake and she would-

Nezuko’s eyes widened as she lost her footing. Her foot slipped off the branch, her hands following soon after. She helplessly reached for a branch- any branch- but couldn’t. Her heart pounded loudly and the cold wind howled in her ears.

She slowly started to fall down and couldn’t do anything about it. She cried out as her hand suddenly slipped off the branch. Tears froze at her cheeks; fears overwhelmed her.

It wasn’t surprising that she fell since snow covered the branches along with ice. Nezuko closed her eyes and was ready for the pain but only landed in warmth.

Nezuko looked up and saw bright purple-red eyes with diamond-shaped pupils staring right at her, gentle and worried. It took a little while for the realization to strike her. She buried her face in her big brother’s arms, scared and happy.

Tanjirou patted her head and comforted her, telling her that everything is alright. That she won’t get hurt, that he will always be there.

 

Since then, Nezuko was afraid of heights.

Nezuko closed her eyes while screaming her head off. The demon on the ground snickered and laughed, then began controlling her movements through the air and as she was pulled sideways and upwards so many times. She couldn’t feel her legs anymore, she couldn’t even think properly!

Nezuko felt like puking, being pulled in all sorts of direction was making her dizzy. She hadn’t eaten much in the last couple of hours so she wasn’t sure if she had anything in her stomach.

Nezuko could see her brother head-butting a demon from the corner of her eyes. It was a success from what she could see. She slapped herself for being dumb. If her brother could defeat a demon, then so can she!

She landed on the ground, the demon’s attention seemed to be on the other one. Nezuko aimed the tip of her katana at her leg. She stabbed herself quickly and lightly, a little bit of blood trickled down her ankle. There was some pain in not just her leg but her whole body. She focused her brain on the pain. She forced her concentration sharper than before, raised her katana, and swung it downwards as she stopped moving in mid-air.

Full Focus

Breath of Water; Eighth Style

Waterfall Jar

The force of the breath slowed down her fall, but she still landed quite harshly. Ignoring it, she stood up and raced at the demon. Dust flew everywhere due to her landing and covered her sight a little, but it settled back down as she appeared in front of the demon. It froze in surprise.

Full Focus

Breath of Water; First Style

Waterfall Surface Slice

The sword smoothly sliced through the head. No bloodshed. The head rolled onto the ground with a quiet thud and she knelt down, panting heavily. She immediately got up and raced towards her brother.

Nezuko rushed through the obstacles of walls and debris, searching for her brother. She ran around a corner and bumped right into her brother. She fell right onto her back as her brother shouted her name. “Nezuko!” He exclaimed. He held his arms out, welcoming her into a hug. Nezuko didn’t hesitate and ran right into it.

She hugged him really hard, trying to calm down her pounding heart. Once it calmed down a little, she pulled away and turned to worry. “Onii-chan, are you…” She trailed off. From her view, she could see the demon with the temari balls was weakly getting up.

Her brother tapped her head. “What’s wrong?”

Her fingers twitched and her arm tried to move as the demon crept up behind her brother. The demon pulled up her only moving arm and threw a ball. Her mouth had barely opened when her brother whipped around and grabbed it between his hands. The ball spun wildly between his hands, slowly ripping off his skin. Nezuko gaped in surprise and anger as she watched his blood drip slowly.

The female demon saw her and smiled before throwing the temari balls at her, Nezuko bought up her katana and swung it.

Full Focus

Breath of Water; Fourth Style

Striking Tide

Her sword sliced through the multiple balls before slicing right through the air. Nezuko landed roughly on the ground, shoulder first. She gasped in pain.

“Nezuko!” Her brother ran up to her and helped her up. Nezuko leaned against her brother’s body. Feeling light-headed, she stood there trying to focus. She could barely hear her brother’s voice as he called out to her, a buzz ringing over all the noise. She closed her eyes, a minor headache starting to come on.

She fainted. It took some time but she managed to gain conscious and adjusted to her surroundings. The sun was showing a little over the horizon, and the sunlight was slowly seeping through. She sighed at the small warmth.

She glanced to her side, where her katana was laying beside her, the azure glinting brightly.

“Nezuko, are you awake?” She whimpered. The ring was faint but still there. Nezuko felt sick but yet relaxed at the same time. The wind blew against her face, cold and refreshing.

She reluctantly opened her eyes. “What happened?”

“The demon escaped.” Her brother answered. She grimaced. That wasn’t good. “It’s fine.” Her brother reassured.

Nezuko sighed. That wasn’t fine at all.

“... You’re going to destroy the sword.” Her brother chuckled. Nezuko lessened the grip on her sword. She hadn’t realized that she was holding it so hard. She looked at her red hand. It had started to bleed a bit. “Haganeduka-san will get really mad.” He added. Seeing his face pale at the thought, Nezuko wondered why was it so bad.

… Not that she wanted to know, of course!

Nezuko stood up but then ended up wobbling slightly due to her sleepiness. Her brother seemed to notice this and leaned her body to his for support. She yawned, but she slapped both sides of her face to stay awake. She relaxed at her brother’s warmth and soon her eyes closed shut.

Before she fully fell asleep, she heard her brother whispering in her ear. “Sweet dreams, Nezuko.”

 

 

The demon growled as she crawled her way out of the hunters’ sights. Her blood dragged along the ground, but she could care less. She found her companion’s clothing on the floor, crumpled up with ashes covering it.

There were no tears shed. In fact, why did she even bother coming over to him?

Her legs slowly regenerated as she crawled, and soon started walking towards the smell of humans. Determination fueled her, and she would get that man’s praise. She will meet his expectations. She would get her revenge on the pair of hunters.

She bounced her temari ball up and down as she walked through a small alley, leaving a trail of blood from her legs. A pair of couples that had entered the alley backed out when they noticed her.

The demon narrowed her eyes and threw her ball, blood splattered everywhere as the bodies of the couple lay on the ground.

No, as the couple’s body parts lay on the bloodied ground.

 

 

“Mm…” Tanjirou slowed down his walking speed when he heard Nezuko waking up. He moved over to the side of the road and gently laid his sister down. She rubbed her eyes.

“... Huh? Where are we?” She asked, her words slurred from drowsiness.

“We’re on our way to the next location.” He replied. “It’s just continuing down this road.”

"Please!!!" Tanjirou perked up. He could recognize that voice anywhere. "I beg of you, I beg of you! Please marry me. I don't know when I'll die, so please marry me! I beg of you!"

Tanjirou’s mouth opened before he could think about it, happy from seeing one of his best friends after so long. "Zenitsu!”

Chapter Text

"Zenitsu?" Nezuko looked at her brother in surprise. How had he known his name? To her knowledge, this was her brother's first time meeting him.

"Chirp, chirp, chirp!" A sparrow hopped over to them. "Chirp, chirp!" Nezuko kneeled down, though she didn't have a single clue on what it was saying. Her brother, on the other hand, seemed to understand.

She watched as he stomped over to the boy, Zenitsu-san as her brother called him, and dragged him away from the girl. Zenitsu didn't let go of his hold on her waist. Her brother yelled.

"What are you doing in the middle of the road?! Can't you see you're bothering the lady?! And the sparrow too!" Zenitsu-san flinched at the sudden loud voice and let go. He pushed away from her brother and fell onto the ground. Zenitsu-san stayed speechless for a few seconds, maybe due to her brother's getup, before asking in a yelling voice.

"Who are you?" Her brother didn't get a chance to reply before Zenitsu-san noticed her. He pointed to her with a gasp. "Ah, that uniform! You're that beauty from the final selection!" Nezuko wondered how he had recognized her. She was pretty beaten up from the previous fight and her face was pretty ruined. Well, unless she had a break between missions to let it heal. Though it probably wasn't happening anytime soon.

"Alright young lady, you should go back home now." Her brother told the lady. She bowed in thanks and begun to leave before Zenitsu-san tried to grab her again. He stood on his knees, crying.

"What? She still needs to marry me! She likes me!" The lady turned around and slapped him, hard. She took a deep breath, and slapped him again, again, and again. Each slap stronger than the last.

Nezuko stepped in then. She pulled the lady away from him. "Calm down!" She told her. Sure, he might've deserved it somehow, but it was getting a bit too harsh. The lady pried away from her grasp and gave him one final slap.

"That's completely impossible, I already have a fiancee! And I only talked to you because you seemed sick!" She then ran away. Zenitsu-san then grabbed her brother's arms and started begging.

"I'm about to die, I'll definitely die on the next job!!! I'm super weak and don't think that I'm exaggerating! You need to protect me before I finally get married!!!"

"My name is Kamado Tanjirou! That's my sister Kamado Nezuko!" Her brother shouted back. Zenitsu-san 's attitude changed.

"My name is Agatsuma Zenitsu! Help me, please! I was deceived by a woman and have a lot of debt! The guy I owe money to says that I need to repay the debt the woman owes him as well, so he 'groomed' me!" Zenitsu-san did a weird bend. "I went through a really hellish training regime every day, and during that time I really thought I might as well die! And I really thought I was going to die during the final selection!"

"In the end, I was lucky and survived. Then I ended up back in that hellish lifestyle again! Ahh, scary, scary, so scary!!!" With a horrid expression, he flipped right back up. "I don't want this! I really, really, really don't want this at all!!! Save me please!"

Nezuko sighed at his meltdown. She lightly patted the sparrow, maybe to reassure it, chatting with her crow. She couldn't follow the conversation, but it was very relaxing to listen to.

It continued for some time. All three of them, her and the birds, waited for Zenitsu-san to calm down.

"Nezuko, let's start walking." Nezuko looked up, Zenitsu-san appeared to have calmed down and was chewing on a rice ball. Her rice ball. She was very ready to eat the rice ball for lunch. Her injuries haven't healed and she was still exhausted so she needed it... Though looking at Zenitsu-san she supposed it was fine.

"Caww!!! Hurry up Nezuko, Zenitsu, and Tanjirou! Start running, the three of you will go to the next location" Her crow, Maro, as she decided to call it cawed.

"Ah!!! The crow's talking!" Zenitsu-san reacted strongly-and realistically-and fell back on the ground. Nezuko sighed. So they would be working with Zenitsu-san for the next mission.

 

They walked for some time before they arrived at a large house in the mountains. The first thing she noticed wasn't the house though, but rather the presences of those inside the house. Nezuko could sense multiple demons, two humans, and one she couldn't recognize.

Zenitsu-san covered his ears. "Can you hear a sound coming from over there? Seems like we're going to need to work together in the future as well." Nezuko strained her ears but didn't hear anything.

"!" Nezuko turned around and saw a pair of children. A boy and a girl. "Are you alright?" She asked but got no reply. She took a breath. Nezuko smiled to reassure them and asked once more.

"Are you alright?" She questioned again, this time more quietly and slowly. The two children seemed to realize that she wasn't meaning to harm them and fell on their knees.

Her brother stepped beside her. "What happened?"

"Is the house over there your home?" When the boy opened his mouth but failed to say anything, she figured that she should have slowed down.

"No- It's not... It's the home of the... the monster..." Nezuko nodded. That confirmed that there were indeed demons in there. The boy continued.

"Our elder brother was captured by the monster when we were travelling during the night. The monster came but it ignored the two of us and took our brother away." Nezuko puzzled. The demon had a specific target?

Nezuko shook the thought out of her head. Her priority was to rescue their brother and defeat the demon.

"Then the demon entered the house?" He nodded. "And you guys followed them here." He nodded again. Her brother patted them on the head.

"That's impressive. You guys are strong." The boy started to tear up.

"We- we were following our brother's trail, he's hurt..."

Nezuko grimaced. The situation had become grim since he was injured. She would have to enter now or soon.

"Don't worry. We'll defeat the monster and rescue your brother, I promise you."

The little girl looked up from her brother's arms. "R-really? Do you mean it?" Ignoring the pain in her ribs and her aching fingers, she nodded.

"Nezuko, Tanjirou. What's this sound? It's really uncomfortable..." She was confused, she really couldn't hear anything. "It keeps ringing... A drum?"

Nezuko started to faintly hear it. A beat of the drum. One, two, three. A body flew out of one of the open windows. Nezuko immediately covered the eyes of the children as the body splashed down on the ground. Her brother rushed towards the body.

"I finally... got out..." He coughed up some blood. Too much blood. "Am I... going to die?"

A loud growl came out from the main entrance, and once more she heard the sounds of the drums. Nezuko checked on the boy that had fallen out of the window.

Her brother shook his head. "He's already.." Nezuko bit her lips.

"That's not... our brother. Our brother is wearing yellowish-brown clothing." The girl whimpered, thankfully still not looking up.

So there were more victims being imprisoned in the house.

"Okay! Zenitsu-san, let's go!" Nezuko called for him. Zenitsu-san violently shook his head.

"Then stay here and protect the two." Her brother said. Nezuko didn't want her brother to go in, but she didn't want the children to stay alone either. Zenitsu-san didn't want to go in and she wouldn't be able to handle it on her own, so this was the best choice. Nezuko frowned at the conclusion.

"Alright." She pushed all the negative thoughts out of her head. Her brother would be able to take care of himself. "Let's go, Onii-chan."

They entered the house. It looked very normal. Other than the few presences of demons, of course. There was one near. It was faint as if it was near death, but it definitely felt like a demon. She put her hand on the hilt of her sword, ready to battle.

"Ahhhhh!" Nezuko turned around to the entrance and saw Zenitsu-san running to them, the two children in front of him. She was running out of patience. Then she saw a demon chasing them. Nezuko unsheathed her sword, its azure shine making the demon freeze.

Then came the sound of the drum. Unlike the outside, it's sound was much louder and stronger, making the ground shake. Nezuko grabbed one of the children, the girl, to make sure she doesn't fall. Her brother tripped into the room across where she was, and Zenitsu-san held onto the boy with all his might.

The room changed. Again, and again.

"Uwah..." The girl teared up. Nezuko wiped away the tears.

"Don't worry, I'll protect you and Zenitsu-san will protect your brother. What's your name?"

"Te... Teruko." Nezuko was about to say something when a demon's presence appeared behind her. It was a demon with multiple drums attached to his body. It was, she guessed, what changed the rooms.

She covered Teruko's mouth and whispered, "Try not to scream. There's a shelf behind us, hide behind it." Teruko dashed towards the shelf, miraculously not alerting the demon.

"Why does everyone not know of manners... barging into other people's houses." The demon growled. "Pisses me off."

Breath of Water; First style

Water Surface Slice

The demon reacted fast and beat his drums. Nezuko found herself falling on her back. She quickly came back to her feet and analyzed the situation. The whole room had flipped over to its side, making the tatami the wall. As she guessed, that was how his demon arts worked. Then the unusual presence started making its way towards them.

A person with a boar head broke through the opposite doors, yelling, "Pig assault, pig assault!"

Chapter Text

Zenitsu couldn't stop shaking. "G-g-gonna die! Gonna die!!!"

"Teruko, Teruko!" The boy shouted. Zenitsu grabbed his arm.

"D-don't yell so loud!" He didn't want any demons to hear and come for them. Zenitsu's heart fell the same way the boy's face did. "Let's leave!" He decided. There was no way he could protect anyone!

"Why are we leaving? Do you plan on running away by yourself? You keep crying about dying, do you feel any shame at all? Is that sword on your waist a fake?" Zenitsu felt the words stab him in his heart.

"Those are really harsh words. And you misunderstand me, it's because I can't do anything by myself that I want to find someone!" Zenitsu grabbed hold of the boy's arm, "This isn't something we can handle by ourselves!" He slammed open the front door.

Zenitsu panicked at the sight. "No way, no way, no way! I remember that this was the entrance!! Where did the door leading outside go?!" The door opened to a simple room. He was sure that that was where he entered! He slammed the door closed. Going around the hallway, he opened the doors one after another. None of them led to the entrance.

At around the fourth door he opened, there was something. A man with a boar head? The scream crawled out of him. "M-m-m-monster!!!" He ducked down as the person bounced against the walls and leave through the door he opened. Zenitsu's tears fell as the person disappeared far from his sight. The boy that had arrived at his side looked at him with an expression.

"Don't look at me like that!" He cried.

* * *

Shoichi wasn't sure if he could think anymore. So many things had happened in a mere 24 hours and his brain couldn't keep up. So he tried to stay in the moment. It wasn't as reassuring though. Shoichi felt calm compared to Zenitsu-san. His low, heavy, and slow breathing showed how panicked he was, and Shoichi was so worried for him that he couldn't be worried about himself.

"Excuse me, Zenitsu-san..." He spoke up, scaring Zenitsu-san. He screamed and fell back in surprise. Then he screamed again. The first scream was of fear and the second of anger.

Zenitsu-san hugged him tightly while shaking, then glared at him. Shoichi sighed as Zenitsu-san mumbled about how he should've given a signal.

"I'm sorry..." He started. "But seeing you like this is makes me feel unsafe."

"I'm sorry, okay?!" Shoichi saw something on the corner of his eye.

"It's a child." The thing said. Zenitsu-san shook even harder, then froze. Stiffly he turned. Shoichi figured what would happen and covered his ears. He was right. Zenitsu-san shrieked at the highest pitch he had ever heard and sprinted off, dragging him with him. While the things that Shoichi saw made him believe that Zenitsu-san wouldn't be able to protect him, the things he does sometimes argues. The speed at which Zenitsu-san ran was hard to keep up, and he reacted faster than Shoichi could see.

"Don't come here, don't come here! We're not delicious, I'm serious!" Shoichi huffed, tired from all the running he had done.

The monster made an inhumane noise and said, "How would I know if I don't have a taste?" And before he knew it, Zenitsu-san pulled him over to the side. The tong of the demon crashed with a nearby pot, cutting it in half.

They slam into a room. Shoichi quickly got up, his brain finally catching up. Zenitsu-san stayed on the ground, shaking. He grabbed his hand and tried to help him up.

"Just leave me, run away without me!" Shoichi pushed down all the fear and shook his head.

"I can't! Please get up!" Zenitsu-san stopped screaming and instead looked at him with disbelief on his face. Shoichi didn't understand why, but he had no time to think. The monster had managed to catch up. Shoichi tried to pull Zenitsu-san once more but found him unconscious. No, asleep.

"Heeee, what is that guy doing?" The monster laughed. As the monster's tong aimed at them, Shoichi closed his eyes and prayed.

"Zenitsu-san, please get up!!!" He screamed out. At that moment, something fell to the ground. The monster's scream and a protective hand covering him got him to look up. Shoichi silently watched as Zenitsu-san grabbed his sword. In less than a second, Zenitsu-san disappeared from his side and appeared on the other side of the room. As the monster's head flew into the air, Zenitsu-san flinched awake. When the monster's head rolled to his feet, Zenitsu-san jumped up, higher than humanly possible, and cried again.

"What's going on??? It died in an instant!" Shoichi blankly sat there as Zenitsu-san started rambling about how he was the one who had defeated the monster. He didn't know how to react, he had never met someone like Zenitsu-san before.

"... Let's go." He eventually said.

* * *

The demon didn't react, but Nezuko did. The person was carrying blades, though it was chipped. He shouted some stuff and randomly dashed to the demon before she could warn him of the demon arts. The demon beat his drum and made the room flip once more. Nezuko managed to catch herself, but Teruko fell again. She was about to help when the person with the boar head's feet slammed into her. Luckily she prepared herself in time.

The drum was hit again, and the room flipped.

"Kyahh!" Teruko shouted. Nezuko looked over to her and saw the boar headed person on top of her. With anger, she tackled him off of her.

"Don't step on other people like that!!" Nezuko grabbed Teruko when the person started going towards them.

"What are you doing? The demon is right there!" Completely ignoring her, he swung his blade. Then the demon slammed on his drum. Three huge slashes nearly cut them. The cut was amazing. It tore the tatami apart so cleanly and so quickly. Another couple of slashes made the boar headed person go into the hallway. Then another three drum sound made the room flip. Nezuko tried to prepare for every beat.

Then a drum beat made the room change without the demon moving. The demon disappeared out of her sight when the room changed. So there were others with a drum.

Nezuko opened the door quietly. On the right were pieces of a human. The sight made her want to puke, but she ignored it. She needed to take care of Teruko first. "Okay, Teruko. Let's go left. Don't look back." She told her.

They continued straight until she felt the presence of a human. She harshly opened the door. A few open doors ahead was a boy who was about to slam on a drum.

"Kiyoshi nii-chan!" Teruko rushed towards him. Kiyoshi, as Teruko said, stopped inches away from the drum. He dropped it and reached out for Teruko with open arms.

"Teruko!" After a few moments of happiness, she is noticed. "She... she is...?"

Nezuko introduced herself. "I'm Kamado Nezuko, I'm here to defeat the demons. I was told you were injured? Let me see it, I have some medicine." Kiyoshi lifted his leg. Nezuko assessed the injury. It wasn't life-threatening.

"What happened?" She asked.

"I... I was taken by a monster and it wanted to.. eat me. Then another one came out of nowhere. They started to try and kill each other. I-I think that they were deciding on who got to eat me. And then one of the demons ripped a drum off of the monster with the drums. I noticed that beating it caused the rooms to change... so I've been using it until now." Nezuko nodded.

"Wait, did the demons ever say the words, 'rare blood'?" Kiyoshi nodded.

"Caw! Rare blood is a person with precious blood!! A person with rare blood can equal to fifty people!! A hundred people!! Once eating that person, they are able to gain nutrition equal to that blood's rarity!! It's a demon's favourites!!" Nezuko frowned at the information, though she didn't have the chance to comment on it. The demon's presence came into range.

Nezuko lowered her voice. "I'm going to leave this room. As soon as I do, beat the drum and survive."

She leaned down and sprinted to the presence. She had managed to time it well.

"Beat it!" She yelled. The rooms changed around her.

"You bunch of bugs... I really hate-" The demon growled and beat his drum.

Nezuko found herself upside down. Then she barely had time to react to the demon's attacks. Through the next few drum beats, she observed the demon. It was hard, but she soon memorized it. The drum on the right shoulder turned things to the right while the left shoulder one turned things to the right. The right leg's drum made the room flip forward when the left leg turns it backward. The difficult one was the one on the stomach, which causes the claw-like attacks.

Even if she had memorized them, it was hard to follow. The claw attack and the room's rotation was too fast for her to follow. Not only that but the injuries Nezuko had received from the previous fight was slowing her down. If she failed to dodge one of those attacks...

"Ugh! Shut up, negativity!" Nezuko screamed out. The demon seemed to pause for a millisecond at the sudden outburst. She slowed down her rough breathing as much as she could, and oddly she remembered something that Urokodaki-san had said in a lesson.

"Water is able to transform into all sorts of shapes. Drawing it into a box will make it a square, drawing it into a bottle will make it cylindrical."

Just like how she had used it to block her falls in the battle in Asakusa, she could use it to help her move. Water can be any form or shape.

"Vanish from my sight, you vermin!!!" For some reason, it seemed like it wasn't towards her.

Nezuko's blood ran cold as the demon started beating his drum rapidly. The room spun faster than she could register and the claw attacks increased from three to five. Her head was spinning and she wasn't sure if she could stay conscious for any longer. She fell when the spinning stopped. Papers flew around her, and Nezuko saw the writings. It seemed to be a story of some sort.

In case the papers caused her to slip, she skipped back once her foot touched the ground until she was out of the area.

Oh. So that was how to move and breathe without increasing the pain. She jumped up to avoid an attack. It was a good thing that she had skipped over the papers. Some random things can be lessons, huh.

The air above her pressured down a bit. Nezuko ducked as the demon's attack slashed right above her. The demon was going to rapidly beat again.

Breath of Water; Ninth Style

Water Splash

Nezuko's confidence went up when she dodged all the attacks. The demon was definitely panicked. She took that moment, and though she was upside down, aimed for his neck.

She calmly landed and focused on breathing. The pain was suffocating her.

"Why... am I not good enough?"

Nezuko peered over with sadness in her eyes. "You were... a great opponent with strong demon art. But you should not kill humans."

"Is that so..." As the demon disappeared, she made sure to take a blood sample. A meow startled her. Nezuko gave the blood to the cat and patted it on the head. It meowed once more as it became invisible.

Nezuko forced herself to concentrate for Kiyoshi and Teruko's presence. She ran around the house before stumbling upon a room with two people. She opened the door to find a book flying right towards her face. She barely managed to dodge before another object came flying at her.

"It's me, Nezuko!"

Kiyoshi paused. "Uh, oh. Nezuko-san. Sorry, the drum disappeared so we were in a panic..."

"I understand. Now come on, let's go outside." She motioned him to climb on her back. Nezuko continued before Kiyoshi denied. "Don't worry, I'm stronger than I look! Plus, your leg is injured, it'll be quicker this way."

She made sure not to run too fast, but she was very worried for Zenitsu-san, her brother, and the boy she had entrusted Zenitsu-san. Relief came over her as she learned that all of them was outside. Then there was an unfamiliar person with them. Well, not so unfamiliar, since it was probably the odd person with the boar head.

She came upon Zenitsu-san-who all beaten up-standing in front of her brother, shielding him from the boar headed person.

"Pull out your sword and fight, you cowardly weakling!!" He yelled. "Since you and I are both demon hunters, you must fight!"

Nezuko felt anger rise within her, what was with that logic?! Before she exploded, she gently laid down Kiyoshi. Gritting her teeth, she rushed forward and punched him as hard as she could in the stomach, successfully hearing the crack of his bones.

"What are you doing?! Demon hunters shouldn't fight among each other!" Nezuko winced when she jumped to avoid an attack from him. It was low and swift. She didn't want to attack him, as that would mean she had broken the rule as well, but she couldn't continue dodging.

"Calm..." Her brother ran towards them. "Down!!!" Nezuko felt very bad for him as her brother head-butted him.

"Are- are their head intact??!" Zenitsu-san freaked out. All of their eyes widened as the boar head fell down from the male's head.

"Wo-woman's-" Her brother slammed Zenitsu-san's mouth shut before he could say anything about the male's face.

"What did you say about my face...?"

Chapter Text

There weren't many demons around. From what Tanjirou figured, Nezuko would meet up with Kiyoshi and would keep both him and Teruko safe. Tanjirou was too far from the drum demon and was lost. With no doubt the rooms will change soon, so he waited.

Just as he expected, the room changed. He quietly opened the door and stepped out into the hallway. From there, the room changes shouldn't affect him much. Honestly, there wasn't much action, though he wasn't complaining. Tanjirou currently had no weapons to kill a demon, so even if he did meet an opponent, he'd be at a big disadvantage.

Unfortunately then, he saw Inosuke. Knowing that Inosuke did not know him yet, he planned to slowly back up. Due to Inosuke's high sense of touch, he was noticed quite quickly.

Inosuke screamed at the sight of him. "Demon!!!" Tanjirou mentally facepalmed. He skidded to a stop and changed his course. He ran back and took a different turn. Behind him, he could hear the stomping footsteps of Inosuke chasing him.

"Get back here!" Tanjirou honestly thought that Inosuke would end up chasing him forever. Then as he did a small turn to the left hallway, he came across a heavy weighted demon. Tanjirou went straight past him, causing the demon confusion and probably soon: death. He believed in Inosuke's strength and pushed forward.

Tanjirou continued on, going in different directions. He eventually could smell Zenitsu, and briefly, and faintly, heard the sound of Zenitsu using his breath. He slowed down, unsure if he should go near. While the Zenitsu he knew wouldn't attack him, they were strangers right now. Tanjirou stood there, debating. He shouldn't interfere in any of their battles. Or should he? Nezuko was surely injured and hasn't fully healed yet. Not only that but she's facing a tough opponent. After some moments, Tanjirou clenched his fist and hoped for the best for one of them. He opened the nearest door to him and headed to a random direction.

And ended up outside to see Zenitsu on the ground, Shoichi crying over him. Tanjirou quickly put on his mask and pulled his scarf up onto his head at the sight of sunrise, and went to check on Zenitsu.

* * *

Sharp hearing. That's all Zenitsu had for him, really. Thanks to his hearing, he could hear the sounds of every living thing, like the sound of breathing, the beat of the heart, the blood flow. He ignored this single strength of his and kept being deceived by people, trusting the people he only wants to trust.

Ah, why was he so weak?

"Zenitsu-san!" Was that Shoichi? Oh, the sound of the demon had disappeared as well, all three. There were strange footsteps too. Hm? He was outside. "Are you.. are you okay?" Zenitsu sat up and checked himself. He looked fine.

"We were thrown outside the house when the layout changed. We fell from the second-story window."

"Really?"

"It's all thanks to Zenitsu-san's hard work that I was able to remain unharmed." Zenitsu patted the small pain behind his head and felt happiness in his heart from being complimented. He froze when his hair was damp.

"I... So I fell on my head?!" He shrieked.

"Is it a major injury?" Shoichi screamed a little, but Zenitsu had heard him. He let Tanjirou check his head and relaxed when he said that he wouldn't die from it.

"Pig assault, pig assault!! Hahahaha!! There's still a demon!" A weird person with a boar head smashed his way out of the house. Zenitsu recognized him. How could he not? The odd person was the fastest one to go up and down the mountain. The same person turned to them and shouted, "I found you!" Zenitsu realized that he was aiming for Tanjirou and got in front of him.

"S-stop! You can't attack him!"

"Hey, hey, hey, what are you talking about? Don't you know that that's a demon?"

Zenitsu trembled. "I knew that!" He knew from the beginning. A demon and a human has a different sound compared to each other. Zenitsu was terrified. A demon, walking in daylight, spoke to him. He was going to run, after all, how could he kill a demon?

Then he heard Tanjirou's sound. It was so gentle. Soft. It made him want to cry. His sister, a human, walked with him. She had a similar sound, but rather than something that made him want to cry, it filled him. So determined. Zenitsu felt like he could trust them. They must have a reason.

"I... I want to ask face to face. So you... just get out of the way first!!" The pain on his head worsened when he was kicked.

Then he was kicked again. That was his ribs. The kicking went on for a bit before stopping abruptly. Zenitsu looked up and saw that Tanjirou had forcibly stopped him. Zenitsu immediately got back onto his feet as the person pulled back his blade. He was going to slice Tanjirou! Zenitsu pulled Tanjirou back, both of them barely dodging the blade. He stepped in front of Tanjirou. The world felt like it was shacking. Or maybe he was.

"Oho, you're fighting back!"

Zenitsu shook his head violently, pain is forgotten. "No, no! I'm just-"

"Pull out our sword and fight, you cowardly weakling!!" He yelled. "Since you and I are both demon hunters, you must fight!" Zenitsu frowned at the logic but didn't have the chance to reply as Nezuko-chan slammed her fist right into the person's stomach. Zenitsu winced when the sound of bones cracking filled the air.

"What are you doing?! Demon hunters shouldn't fight among each other!" Nezuko-chan dodged an attack from the person. Zenitsu wanted to stop him from hurting her anymore. She was clearly hurt, he could hear it.

Tanjirou head-butted the person. Hard. "Calm down!!" He shouted.

"Are- are their heads intact??!" Zenitsu asked. It was a hard crash. His mouth fell open when the boar head fell as well.

"Wo-woman's-" Tanjirou slammed his mouth shut.

The person glared at him. "What did you say about my face...?"

Chapter Text

"We have no complaints about your face!"

"I'm going to kill you, bring it on if you've got the balls!! Try your headbutt again!"

"I can't! Take a seat, is your head ok?!"

"My name... It's Hashibira Inosuke! Remember that!!"

Tanjirou stood in silence before he continued shouting, "How do you write your name?!"

"Write?! Write... I don't know! It's written on my pants though..."

"He stopped..." Shoichi commented. Zenitsu shrieked as the person's eyes rolled to the back of his head and fainted.

"He probably has a concussion..." Tanjirou said. That, Zenitsu thought, is terrifying. How hard was his head?

* * *

After knocking out Inosuke, Tanjirou requested Kyoshi and Shoichi to assist with burying the dead. When he had called them by their name by accident, they looked at him weirdly but didn't say anything. Tanjirou was quite glad they didn't.

They were on their final burial when Inosuke woke. As he expected, the first thing Inosuke did was ask for a fight. Zenitsu ran and hid behind Teruko as Inosuke asked what they were doing.

"Burying the dead, of course. There was a lot of people killed in the house. Inosuke, you should come and help too." Tanjirou didn't stop there. "But if your wounds still hurt, you can sit down and just watch. Everybody has different levels of pain tolerance."

"Onii-chan..." Nezuko whispered.

"Buring people is a really tiring job. Digging holes, carrying bodies out of the house... It's a lot of work. Zenitsu and these kids are very capable so it's fine. Just take a rest." Tanjirou finished.

Inosuke eye twitched. "Huuuuuuh?! Don't underestimate me! No matter if it's a hundred or two hundred people, I'll bury them all! I'm a better grave digger than anybody else!" Then Inosuke went ahead and helped bury the remaining bodies.

Afterward, when they were going down the mountain, they experienced a little problem where Zenitsu insisted on staying with Shoichi. This time Nezuko stepped up and pulled him away, telling him that Shoichi couldn't. Then the crow gave Kiyoshi an incense bag since it was able to repel demons.

"Thank you all so much." Kiyoshi thanked them. "We can return to our home by ourselves." Nezuko gave them a small hug and Tanjirou and Zenitsu waved goodbye while Inosuke was running around behind them like a madman.

"Follow me!" The crow cawed. The four of them followed the crow to the house with the crest of Wisteria on the door. "Rest!! Rest!! Rest until fully healed!"

Nezuko sighed. "Thank you." The door creaked open.

"It's a monster... A monster!" Zenitsu freaked out. Nezuko shushed him.

"Sorry for disturbing you so late at night," Tanjirou said.

"You are demon hunters, right? Please, come in." Soon the meal was prepared, and the bedding was done. Then the lady called in for a doctor for Inosuke, Zenitsu, and Nezuko.

"All three of you have broken ribs..." Tanjirou chuckled.

"Onii-chan...!" Nezuko pouted. Tanjirou pulled down his scarf and took off the mask. It had turned nighttime and he felt a bit too suffocating, covering his entire head all day. He wondered if Nezuko was feeling the same when he had carried her on a box all the time.

He waited until they were sound asleep before heading outside. Tanjirou felt the cool air around him. It didn't feel like much changed since he became a demon. He still felt so human; acted so human. Though he was, definitely, a demon. Thoughts endlessly flowed through his brain. He knew what was coming next. The next mission they would receive was difficult because they would have to fight against a lower demon moon.

Giyuu would be there. No, he couldn't get his hopes up. After all, Giyuu of this time didn't know him. They were strangers.

"..." Everything felt overwhelming. So many things had happened and he hadn't gotten much chance to think about it. What brought him back? Or was this truly a dream? It couldn't be, it felt too real, the pain was real. Perhaps it was the work of a demon? It would have to be a powerful one though, and if there was a demon of that strength, they would've been notified.

"Tanjirou?" He turned his head around. Zenitsu quietly slid the door closed behind him and came to sit beside him.

"I think you have the chance to ask now." Tanjirou smiled at him. Zenitsu stared at him. Then hesitantly he spoke.

"You... you're a demon."

He nodded. "I am."

"Why are you walking around with a human?" Tanjirou wondered how to explain it to him. He didn't want to burden Zenitsu by telling him that he knew everything from the future. Zenitsu wouldn't believe him in the first place.

"That's... my sister, Nezuko. Our family was attacked by an oni, and only she and I survived. We met a kind demon slayer who mercifully left me alive." Tanjirou paused. He supposed it wasn't the right thing to do for a demon slayer. He hoped Giyuu wasn't punished for it. "The demon slayer directed us to a cultivator where Nezuko trained for two years. Now we're trying to find a way to turn me back to a human." Zenitsu's eyes widened.

"That's possible?" Tanjirou shrugged.

"Who knows? We have a start and that's all we need to believe that there is a way to."He didn't get a reply. They sat in silence before Tanjirou stood up and faced him.

"Even though you knew I was a demon, you protected me. Zenitsu, you are a really kind and brave person. Thank you." Tanjirou thanked him. Zenitsu opened his mouth but closed it back. Tanjirou knew Zenitsu didn't believe in himself. As much as he wanted to tell Zenitsu that he was strong, that he could protect, it was something he needed to learn himself so Tanjirou ended the conversation.

"It's getting really late, you should go back to sleep." Once Zenitsu headed back in, Tanjirou began walking around. How much of his skills did he still have? If only he had a blade to test out with.

Oh. He did this many times. During nighttimes, mostly because of a mission, he would walk along a path while the moonlight shined against his blade. It was beautiful. Perhaps, when he turned back into a human, he could do it again.

Chapter Text

Over the next couple of days, they rested. Nezuko's face was rid of all injuries and Zenitsu had fallen for her at first glance. Just like the first time. At first, Nezuko seemed to feel awkward at the gestures but soon started to accept them. Tanjirou was a bit conflicted about the sudden acceptance but was happy to see Nezuko smiling from the little flowers here and there. Being in love or anything like so was something she had never gotten to experience before, despite being very popular in their hometown. Taking care of their siblings was a very tiring job.

He would have to have a small talk with Zenitsu later though.

 

After some time, when they had fully healed, Nezuko's crow gave instructions to go to the Natagumo Mountain without delay.

Nezuko sighed. "It doesn't feel like we got much rest." She reluctantly put on her black haori. "I wish we could have a bit more rest."

Tanjirou smiled wobbly, uncomfortable but getting used to the feeling of the mask once more. "I can carry you if it's helpful." He suggested. Nezuko immediately shook her head.

"I'm fine! I can do this. What about you Onii-chan? How are you doing?"

"I don't feel much exhaustion. Perks of being a demon, I suppose." Tanjirou held out his hand for Nezuko to take it out of habit. He was about to withdraw it when Nezuko happily took it. She opened the door to the room and led them out to Zenitsu and Inosuke. Zenitsu sprang to life when he saw Nezuko and Inosuke didn't even bother looking at them. Nezuko immediately went to the lady of the house and bowed.

"We'll be going now. Thank you for all of your hard work!" The lady smiled. She brought up the two things she was carrying. He smelled wood planks.

"I shall light some sparks for you." She clashed the two wooden planks together.

"What are you doing?" Inosuke loudly questioned. Tanjirou grabbed him before he could do anything and Zenitsu shielded the lady.

Zenitsu yelled back just as loud. "Are you stupid?! Those are 'sparks'! We're going on a dangerous mission, so she's helping us ward off evil spirits!!"

"No matter what may happen, please live your lives with your heads held high. I wish you luck on your coming battles..." The lady said, her voice dipped with sadness. Just how many had she housed that could not survive?

"Heads held high? Luck for the upcoming battles? What does that mean?" Inosuke puzzled. Nezuko and Zenitsu stared at him in disbelief. Tanjirou sighed and simply sped up.

 

It took them some time, but they arrived at the mountain by sundown. Tanjirou was a bit weary, the nightfall was upon them soon. Even a bit of the sun would've been nice to have.

"Over there!" Nezuko pointed at the front of the mountain. Tanjirou headed over to the body laying on the ground. They were wearing the demon slayer uniform. He lifted his mask over his head and checked on the person. They gasped in surprise and pushed him away, staring at him with fear in their eyes.

"D-Demon-" And in a moment they were flown above their reach and into the mountain. Tanjirou halted at the reaction. Of course, a demon hunter would fear him, he was a demon now. Zenitsu and Inosuke were different and it was something he had expected. It still impacted him more than he wished it did. Tanjirou continued to stare at the ground where the person had just been laying, desperately trying to live.

A small but calloused hand touched his shoulder.

"Onii-chan," She looked straight in his eyes. "let's go." Tanjirou glanced at the forest. Once they enter, that would be it. They would be in this fight, whether they wished to or not.

"... Let's go." He approached the entrance, making sure to keep watch of spiders on the way.

Inosuke shoved him to the side and stomped forward. "I'll be the vanguard, so just follow me!" Nezuko stepped to the side before he could shove her as well. Behind him, Zenitsu was mumbling incoherently. Tanjirou watched him warily. Zenitsu was trembling so much that it seemed the ground was shaking as well. Nezuko, probably thinking the same thing as him, whispered to him.

"I'll go with Zenitsu-san and keep a check on him. You can go with Inosuke-san." Tanjirou nodded.

"Then, we'll be heading this way." He gestured to wherever Inosuke was heading.

"Okay. Be safe, Onii-chan."

"You too." Tanjirou watched Zenitsu and Nezuko disappear out of his sight as he followed Inosuke into the forest. He was anxious. The mountain had a twisted and unnatural smell that was making him slightly light-headed.

"Tch!" Inosuke cut pulled down another spiderweb. "So annoying, what's up with all these spider webs?!"

"These demons are... Maybe these demons are related to the spiders." Tanjirou knew that Inosuke could be smart when he could be. It wouldn't make sense for him to know the kinds of demons were in the forest.

"Hmph!" Inosuke continued to grumpily stomp on. It didn't take long before they could see a demon hunter in the distance. Before Tanjirou could stop him, Inosuke headed straight to the person. The sound of the twigs on the grounds cracking alerted the hunter.

"Wha- What are you?!" He screamed when he saw Inosuke. Then he realized, maybe they weren't the best pair for this. The hunter's eyes landed on him. "A demon-"

"Wait! I'm Tanjirou, this is Inosuke. There are two more that are currently separated from us. We're here to help." The hunter's face turned grim.

"H-help?! What? A demon and-" he gestured wildly at Inosuke. "And this guy?! Besides, a pillar has to come. The result won't change if they don't! It'll be pointless!"

A fist slammed into his face. Tanjirou quickly pulled Inosuke back before he could harm the hunter anymore.

"So annoying! If you keep on insisting that things are pointless, then your very existence is pointless." Tanjirou sighed. Inosuke probably didn't know how to treat a senior. He had the hunter by the hair harshly and was right up in his face. "Hurry up and explain the situation, you coward!!"

The hunter tried to pull Inosuke's hand off his hair. "A- After receiving orders from the crow... 10- 10 members got here and... started to kill each other!" The hunter's scared eyes moved from Inosuke to something behind them.

Oh, how much Tanjirou would give to have a sword right now.

Chapter Text

Maybe it was because he was a demon now, he could see the strings tied onto the hunters so clearly.

Tanjirou ducked, barely avoiding his head being sliced. He tried to create some distance and bumped right into Inosuke. He was very unhappy about the situation.

"These people are idiots! Don't they know that it's forbidden to kill each other?!" He screamed in Tanjirou's ears.

Tanjirou huffed. He grabbed the arm of a demon hunter and pried their sword away from their hands. He winced. As much as he didn't want to do so, he didn't know what would happen if he tried to cut it with his bare hands. He didn't know just how strong this demon's strings were, but his sword had broken in half the last time he was here. He couldn't really take the risk.

The sword felt a bit off, but he didn't have much choice.

The person he borrowed the sword from changed to bare fist to fight. Tanjirou, unexpecting so, nearly got punched in the face. He quickly cut off the strings attached to the person. They fell face-first onto the ground.

"Cut the wires attached to them, it's what's controlling them!" Tanjirou informed the other two.

"I've already figured that out!" Inosuke screamed in reply. He leaped over three hunters and swiftly cut the strings. Tanjirou kept his nose on guard. The spiders were small and could be easily missed. The terrible scent in the mountain certainly was in the way but if he could concentrate, he would be fine. And he knew Inosuke would be fine with his enhanced sense of touch, but Tanjirou wasn't sure about the other.

... Murata, Tanjirou remembered. They had met in the very mountain they were in currently and he had a great bond between the four of them. Unfortunately, It was harder than he wished to have a friend that lived through missions.

Tanjirou pulled his mind away from the future. Or- the to be future. They had to find the main demon of this mission first.

"Inosuke! Look for the-" Tanjirou felt a shiver down his back. He looked up to find him. Lower moon five, the demon who wanted the bonds of family.

"Don't disturb our family's peaceful life here. Be killed by mother in the next few moments." He stated before walking away.

Inosuke, clearly not happy with that, jumped up against a hunter's body and swung his sword- and missed due to the limited hight he could jump.

"Damn it! Fight me!" Tanjirou rushed to catch Inosuke. He couldn't have him taking much damage before the upcoming fight.

Tanjirou only barely- but did- catch him, much to Inosuke's annoyance. Inosuke fought against him, pushing him away. Tanjirou quickly let him down.

As soon as Inosuke's feet touched the ground, he got to work.

Breath of the Beast; Seventh Style

Spatial Awareness

Tanjirou guarded him as Inosuke searched. Ignoring the discomfort of the unfamiliar sword, he cut the strings over and over.

"Found it!" Inosuke shouted. Murata spoke out.

"Leave this place to me, you guys go on ahead!" Inosuke snorted. Murata glared knives at Inosuke. "Shut it! I'm also a member of the demon hunters you know. The movements of the people being controlled are simple and easy to dodge! I'll be wary of the spiders, so just hurry on!"

Tanjirou nodded. "Thank you!" He grabbed a furious Inosuke and continued into the forest. Inosuke, as Tanjirou expected, was stubborn and struggled against him.

"I'm definitely punching that guy!" Tanjirou let out an exasperated sigh. He probably should be used to this.

 

Tanjirou and Inosuke came to a halt at a crying hunter. Her bones were twisted in a way it shouldn't be, her sword stuck in a hunter's neck, and holding the head of another.

"Don't come near me!" She pleaded. "Please, run!" Tanjirou jumped quickly to avoid a quick swing. She swung two more times before her arms went behind her back and a terrible cracking sound was heard. Tanjirou was furious. The demon was controlling without care on the hunter's health. With the way her bones were being twisted, she would probably never be able to hold a sword. Or even have movable arms.

The hunter appeared right in front of him and Tanjirou moved quick. He pulled up the borrowed sword. The metal clashed against each other and the girl's face turned from pain to fear.

"You..." The girl didn't have much time to say anymore as her eyes travelled to a different place.

"Kill us.... please..." Appeared two other hunters. Their bones were twisted as well. Their faces were covered in blood, but he could still see the pain on their faces. The stench of fear was so strong he could smell it over any other.

"Our bones... and... our organs... they're broken..." One of them cried.

"Please... save us... kill us...!" The other begged.

Inosuke didn't hesitate. "Okaay! I got it!" He launched himself and swung. Tanjirou shouted before the blade actually sliced the person.

"Wait!"

"Shut your mouth!!!" Inosuke growled. "He said it himself, he wants to die! Plus, we'll be the ones killed otherwise!"

Tanjirou ducked another swing. He wasn't sure if he could...

Oh, screw it!

"Inosuke! Can you handle all three?" He asked. Inosuke huffed.

"Of course I can!" Tanjirou dodged the girl aiming for him and made his way to the demon controlling them. Tanjirou had contemplated doing the same thing he did the first time, but it resulted in the three hunters dead.

He knew... He knew that they probably would die. However, if there was a chance that they could survive... He couldn't ignore the chance.

And there was the demon from his first life. He could take care of him on his own.

Breath of Water; Third Style

Dance of the Rapid Current

Tanjirou aimed for the legs first, to ease up the fight.

It wasn't strong enough. The blade did reach the legs, but it didn't slice through it. It made a mere scratch. Tanjirou realized that ever since he and Nezuko left Urokodaki-san's home, he hadn't practiced with a sword.

He tried again, making sure not to make the same mistake.

Breath of Water; Eight Style

Waterfull Jar

The blade cut the demon right in half. and the two halves fell onto the ground.

Tanjirou didn't stop moving. He started running until he saw her. Just as she did last time, her eyes were of fear. Except when she saw him, her fear turned to confusion.

"A... a fellow demon defeated my strongest puppet?! What are you even doing here in the first place, do you not know who lives here?! Why are you holding a demon hunter's sword?! I-" Her expression went back to fear. "You're going to kill me?" Her voice was quiet.

Breath of Water; Fifth Style

"I... Thank you..." She whispered.

The Merciful Rain of a Dry Day

The sword sliced cleanly and without blood. There were no cries of anger, just silence.

"Rui... Won't be happy." She told me before she disappeared.

Tanjirou blinked. That wasn't what she had told him last time. Rui... Was that the name of the lower moon five? Perhaps it was because he was a demon as well, she assumed he had known about the twelve demon moons?

Nevertheless, he had to get to Inosuke. He backtracked his way back.

"Did you defeat her?!" Was the first thing he said. Tanjirou nodded.

"I did. How are your injuries?" He didn't seem to bad. At least, better than last time. There was only a small cut on his arm and a bit of blood on his boar head.

"Look! I could have done just as well as you. I-" Tanjirou pulled out some bandage. "Hey! I don't need that!!" Ignoring him, Tanjirou wrapped the bandage around the small cut. He wanted him to be as healthy as possible for the upcoming fight. Tanjirou, truthfully, didn't fully know what happened with Inosuke, but he suffered a lot. Tanjirou couldn't have that happening again.

 

 

 

Tomioka came across several hunters laying dead on the ground.

"Were you acquainted with any of them?" Kochou asked. "There doesn't seem to be any survivors here either. We were informed that several rank 10s joined this mission but they are probably dead by now, don't you think?" Tomioka stayed quiet. Worry took over him, though hopefully, it didn't show.

"Let's go."

 

It didn't take long before Kobhou struck up another conversation.

"Isn't the moon lovely?" She commented. He glanced up. It was a full moon and none of the trees were covering it.

"Yes." Kochou faltered for a short moment. He could tell she clearly wasn't expecting such answer from him.

"... Let's split up from here. I shall proceed from the west."

"Agreed." Kochou changed direction and Tomioka was left alone. He would like to see Tanjirou again soon. He missed the moments they had. Tomioka, in no way, was displeased with the life they had before... this. It was as peaceful as it could be for a demon slayer.

He sighed. It came with the job, he supposed.

 

 

 

Zenitsu couldn't even deny it anymore. The forest was creeping him out, and he wanted to leave. Of course, he wouldn't! He couldn't leave Nezuko-chan alone!

"Hm... I definitely sense many demons around here, but I don't see any." Nezuko-chan said.

"Well-" A jolt of pain went through his arm. "Ouch!" He glanced at his hand. Did something bit him?!

"And there's just so many demons around, apparently, that I can't even sense Onii-chan and Inosuke-san!" Ahh... Nezuko-chan being angry was adorable!

"I sense a stronger demon than the rest over there! I can sense some humans as well but it's really faint!" Nezuko-chan sped up and Zenitsu followed.

What greeted them wasn't great. Nezuko-chan let out a cute gasp. People- at least it was what he thought they were- were hanging from shiny things, maybe webs, with a tiny house in the air.

Some people sounded human, while the others were a mix. Were they... turning into demons??

"The smell!" Nezuko-chan grimaced. Along with their surroundings, the smell was terrible too. Tanjirou probably wouldn't survive here with his sharp nose.

Zenitsu heard rattling inside the house. He hesitantly got closer to see what was inside. Slowly, a head peaked out. His brain stopped working when he saw what was it. A huge spider with a human head.

"Eep!" Nezuko-chan stepped in front of him.

"Fufufu..." The spider laughed. "It's too late for you..."

"I- I hate guys like you, don't talk to me!" He screamed. Every part of his brain shouted at him to run away. He couldn't! That would leave Nezuko-chan alone. He couldn't do that to her and Tanjirou would never forgive him either.

"Look at your hand... you were bitten." Zenitsu looked at his shaky hand. The sudden pain he felt on the way here was...

"That's poison. It'll turn you into a spider as well..." Nezuko-chan's face turned into horror. His face probably mirrored hers.

"In a short while, you'll be my slave." The spider's sickening grin made chills down his spine. "Be ready to crawl on the ground."

"No! Zenitsu-san won't become like you!" Zenitsu would've cried in happiness that Nezuko-chan cared if it weren't for the situation.

The spider continued. "Your limbs will go numb and pain will set it. Then you'll get dizzy and feel like throwing up. Finally, you'll face intense pain and your body will shrink. You'll faint and when you wake up..." Zenitsu didn't mean to, neither did he want to, but he screamed. He screamed like the world was ending. He... he couldn't become a spider! After so much-

"Zenitsu-san! Keep it together!" He froze. That was... Nezuko-chan, right?

 

"Keep it together! Don't cry, don't run away. There's no point in doing so!" Zenitsu shook his head as hard as he could. He sat atop a tall tree that towered over his Jii-chan.

"No way!! I'll die, I'll definitely die!" He cried as loud as he could.

"You won't die from this, get down!!" His Jii-chan yelled.

"Jii-chan!! I-"

"Call me Teacher!!"

"I love you Jii-chan!" Jii-chan's face lost all traces of annoyance and instead had a fond look. Zenitsu continued. "When I was being financially supported by the woman who eloped with me and was riddled in debt, you saved me!!"

Zenitsu quietly added, "Or I might have justed wanted to be brought up as a swordsman."

They both paused before he spoke up again."I wanna live up to your expectations, but I can't!! I feel so much regret... I really do! I'm training under you and I haven't slept at all, but I still can't produce any results!!"

"What?! What are you talking about!? Calm down, Zenitsu!! You have a talent.-"

Zenitsu didn't know what happened then. He heard the sound of lightning before he blanked out. Was he hit? Hah. Just his luck. He had an unpleasant life and got struck by lighting making my hair colour change.

At least he lived.

Zenitsu didn't usually like himself. He always thought he had to do things properly. But... he was afraid, he would run, and he would cry.

Zenitsu wanted to change.

 

"I- I'm doing my best! And yet the final moments of my life will be becoming a monster!! This is too-"

"Zenitsu-san, calm down!" Nezuko-chan shook him. Zenitsu wanted to calm down, but he was dying here! He saw something crawling towards him in the corner of his eyes.

"Eek!!" Zenitsu pulled his hair. "..." He looked at the pile of hair on his hand. He could already pull it out? Wasn't it supposed to take longer?!

He blanked out.

 

 

 

Nezuko felt very... cornered. The demon certainly had some power but she could most likely defeat it fine. However, Zenitsu-san had fainted and she wasn't sure if she could protect him at the same time.

"Pwahaha! He fainted!" The demon burst out laughing. "What a coward." Nezuko unsheathed her blade.

"Shut up!"

Yeah

Breath Thunder; First Style

The air felt prickly, and on pure instinct, Nezuko dodged to the side.

Thunder Clap and Flash

She could barely see as Zenitsu-san dashed through the air and aimed for the demon.

Speckled Venom Phlegm

The demon spewed something from his mouth before Zenitsu-san could reach him. However, Zenitsu-san twisted his body in some way and dodged mid-air. It didn't feel as if he was the same person.

Breath of Thunder; First Style

"Get him!" The demon shouted. A couple of smaller spiders jumped.

Breath of Water; Tenth Style

The Dragon of Change

Nezuko sliced each spider in half and aimed for the demon. Another spider appeared in front of her. She was forced to fall back down to the ground.

Thunder Clap and Flash

"Stab him! Poison him more!!" Nezuko cut the tongues of the spiders to stop them from poisoning either of them. Which was hard since there was a lot of the spiders and only two of them. Nezuko worries worsened when Zenitsu-san coughed blood.

Breath of Thunder; First Style

Thunder Clap and Fkash

Nezuko noticed that Zenitsu-san was using only one style. This one, however, seemed different.

Six-Fold

She covered her ears. Zenitsu-san's attack was quick and loud. Like thunder. Nezuko heart pounded as Zenitsu-san fell onto the house and the demon on the ground. The house was high and she couldn't exactly get up there. She could only jump so high.

"..." Maybe she could use the trees?

Nezuko tried to climb. It was very awkward. She had some experience with Urokodaki-san's training in the mountains.

After some embarrassing fails, she managed to arrive at the top to find Zenitsu-san laying on the ground. His breathing was rough, and from the look of it, he couldn't move.

"Zenitsu-san?" Nezuko didn't know what to do. Her knowledge of medicine lacked greatly!

"Go..." Her attention snapped back to him. "Go find... Tanjirou..." She stared at him. He could be attacked at any moment if she left!

"I'll be... fine. Go!" Nezuko bit her lips. She was worried for Zenitsu as much as she was worried for Tanjirou, but Zenitsu was... Her eyes met with his.

"Please don't die." She whispered. Nezuko jumped down from the house as safely as she could.

Now, where was her brother?

 

 

 

Tanjirou looked behind him. The cause being the sound of thunder.

"What are you doing?!" Tanjirou stared at the direction.

Zenitsu and Nezuko would be fine, he told himself.

The two to them turned to the sound of water. A demon was on the river shore. She turned away and started heading back into the forest.

"Father!!" She called out. Tanjirou pulled Inosuke back as a larger demon jumped down from the air. The water splashed everywhere as the demon's feet landed in the water. Tanjirou kept his eyes open, making sure the water didn't distract or cover possible attacks.

"Get away." The demon's voice rumbled. Its spider head was making him a bit wearily. "From my Family!!!" He punched the ground so hard that it pushed both him and Inosuke away.

They both recovered quickly, and Inosuke tried to cut the demon's arm.

"He's tough!!" Inosuke growled when neither of his blades went through the arm. Tanjirou stopped the demon's other arm from hitting Inosuke with his blade. Oh right, borrowed blade.

The demon grabbed their legs and flipped them backward. The demon came towards Tanjirou as he landed. He splashed the remaining water, dirt, and rocks at him. Tanjirou covered his eyes. Inosuke came up right behind the demon and tried to cut the demon. Tanjirou winced. Inosuke had so many openings.

The demon punched Inosuke back. Tanjirou rushed towards a thick tree

Breath of Water; Second Style • Modified

Horizontal Water Wheel

He cut the tree near the roots and made it fall right on top of the demon. Before the demon could stand up, Tanjirou quickly aimed for the demon's head.

Breath of Water; Tenth Style

The Dragon of Change

The blade missed the neck.

He was really rusty.

Tanjirou was annoyed at his lack of skills but he couldn't focus on that right now. The slice luckily did cut a part of the demon's face. It roared in pain and lifted the tree as if it weighed nothing. However, Tanjirou wasn't planning to get thrown away. Inosuke was having trouble getting up, Tanjirou assumed. He moved back and barely avoided the tree. He headed a bit towards the land. However, instead of attacking him, the demon started running away.

"Haaah?!" Inosuke stepped in front of him and tried to cut his arm again. It didn't go through. Tanjirou was about to distract the demon so he didn't attack Inosuke when Inosuke swung down on his blade with the other. The force was enough to cut through the arm. Tanjirou mentally noted himself to praise Inosuke when they weren't in battle.

The demon seemed to have gotten more scared and ran away from both of them.

"Stop running, damn it!!!" Inosuke chased after him. Tanjirou followed them as best as he could. The smell in the forest lessened a bit but it still clouded his nose. He'd rather not lose them. "Where did that bastard run off too?!" Inosuke grumbled and let out an inhumane sound of frustration. Tanjirou pointed to the tree behind him.

"Up there!" Inosuke twisted his body in a way Tanjirou wished he would stop doing and saw the demon.

"There you are!!!"

Then to their horror, the demon started shedding, a disgusting liquid dripping down as it did. His skin stayed stuck to the tree and his body fell on to the ground with a loud thump.

Tanjirou frowned. This wasn't looking good. Inosuke wasn't moving. He stood still in front of the demon. Tanjirou immediately acted. He couldn't afford to have Inosuke die here.

And good thing he did. He managed to pull Inosuke away as the demon punched. When his fist landed in the air, he looked angrier. The fight wouldn't go well. Tanjirou could tell. The best thing to do would be to end the battle as quickly as possible, but...

He gripped the sword he was temporary using. It still felt off in his hand. He was rusty with the Breath of Water, so would he be able to..?

Breath of the Beast; Fang of the Third

Rip and Devour

The sound of blades and bones breaking made him was like a punch in the face. He couldn't' afford to waste time like this! Tanjirou saw Inosuke on the ground. The demon grabbed him by his neck.

"I will not die!!!" Inosuke screamed, despite his neck being trapped.

Breath of the Beast; Fang of the First

Pierce and Extract

Inosuke's broken blades pierced the demon's neck, and for a moment, Tanjirou thought it was done. However, the blades didn't move.

It's now or never. Tanjirou thought. While the demon wasn't looking at him.

Dance of the Fire God

A familiar scent was near.

Then in an instant, the demon's arm was cut in half. He roared in pain and dropped Inosuke.

Flame Waltz

Tanjirou swiftly slashed the demon in half, vertically then horizontally.

Tanjirou's heart pounded. Without meaning to, he blurted out his name.

"Giyuu!" He got a surprised look in return. They stared at each other for a moment or two. Tanjirou was about to speak up.

Inosuke, however, didn't waste a moment as soon as he got up. He shouted at Giyuu.

"Fight with me! I'll beat you and I'll be the strongest one!!" Giyuu sent a look at Inosuke. Tanjirou stopped whatever was going to happen.

"I-ignore him! Uh, thank you for helping us, G- Tomioka-san!" Tanjirou wasn't sure but he smelled a scent of a disappointment for a second. The smell of this mountain was still strong.

"... He's injured. Someone who doesn't know the severity of his injuries will only get in the way." Tanjirou frowned. This really wasn't the Giyuu he grew up to know.

"Screw you!!!" Inosuke screamed. Tanajirou clasped his mouth shut. If he screamed any more, he would only damage his voice.

Then Inosuke disappeared in front of him and was tied up on a tree branch. Tanjirou looked at Giyuu, who was carrying a rope.

"Another pillar will be around here to pick him up," Giyuu mumbled. Tanjirou watched in wonder as Giyuu finish tie Inosuke up. Now that seemed like something the Giyuu he grew up to know would say.

He smiled. "Thank you." Giyuu didn't reply and Tanjirou felt so awkward. He followed Giyuu as he took off, surprised that he wasn't stopped.

"I... won't you kill me?" Tanjirou asked. Giyuu hesitated and mumbled something in a low voice. Tanjioru couldn't hear it clearly, but he heard some. If he guessed right, Giyuu had just said that it was because he loved him. Tanjirou stopped. Perhaps... Giyuu seemed to have stopped as well. He stood in front of Tanjirou, his breathing low.

Tanjirou looked up at him. He didn't know what he was expecting. There were so many reasons why this Giyuu wasn't the one he knew, but at the same time, it seemed like it. He gulped. Take a chance, right?

"G-Giyuu? Is it... is it you?" Tanjirou saw Giyuu's eyes widening before he was hugged. Tanjirou froze before hugging back.

"I missed you." Tanjirou cupped Giyuu's face. He thought he was alone in the past, where he knew everything that would happen. He kissed Giyuu, happy to know that he wasn't alone in this. He had felt so alone, though he tried not to show. Giyuu was kissing him back, to his happiness.

Tanjirou was sure he was completely red when they pulled apart. They continued to hug for a bit longer before Tanjirou pulled away. He didn't want to, but he had to remember. They were fighting.

"I.. Let's go now. I need to find Nezuko."

"There are also many things we need to talk about. About what's different." Tanjirou nodded. He was right. There were so many things that needed to be talked about.

 

 

 

Nezuko couldn't find him. At that point, she felt as if she went through the entire forest. Just how far was he?

"Gyaaah!" A long squeal made her stop midstep. Nezuko came upon a sight of two demons. She didn't know how to react. One of the demon had injured the other.

She gulped. The first demon's presence was large. She could tell he was powerful.

"What are you looking at?" The first one questioned. "This isn't for show." Nezuko could see that the other one was crying. Her face was injured with string-like marks.

"What... What are you doing?! Isn't she an ally of yours?" The demon scoffed.

"Ally? Don't think it's such a shallow thing. We are a family. We are tied by strong bonds." Nezuko wanted to throw up at that. This was not what a family was. "Besides, this is between me and Nee-san. I'll dice you up if you're going to meddle in this."

"Family? Strong bonds? As if! This looks nothing like so!" Nezuko said.

Really. Nezuko had to praise the great timing.

"Oh, perfect. There are demons here." A fellow demon hunter came out behind the demons. "If these are kiddy demons, even I can do this." The hunter grinned.

"No! They're strongest demons here!" She warned him.

"Shut up and pull back. I'm going to get promoted." He grinned became wider. Nezuko grimaced as he rushed forward at the demon. Then shivered as the poor hunter was cut into small pieces.

"What did you say?" Nezuko tore her eyes away from the pieces of the hunter to the demon. She instantly regretted it. The demon's face was full of anger that sent fear all over her body. "Say that again?" Nezuko tried to calm her breathing. The air felt so heavy and thick. The pressure making it even more difficult.

"I... I said," She prepared herself. "Your bonds aren't real!" For a terrifying second, the demon didn't reply. Or do anything at all.

"I won't kill you instantly. I'll mince you up after I shred you. However... I'll spare you the pain and kill you in a single blow if you take back what you said." Nezuko shook her head. If there was anything her life had taught her, it was about family.

"I know a family when I see one. And this isn't one!" Nezuko dodged the strings the demon seemed to be controlling. She couldn't rush in, despite what she had been doing just now. The demon was strong, and without exactly knowing just how strong he is, she could lose her life.

However, she couldn't keep on dodging. Her stamina had a limit. Her stamina had a limit. She backed up into a tree as she dodged another one.

Breath of Water; First Style

Water Surface Slice

Nezuko attempted to cut the next one. Keyword attempted. The sword broke in half to her horror. She barely managed to dodge the strings she was trying to cut. Just how strong were his strings??

"Nezuko!" She recognized the voice. Well, of course she did.

Onii-chan! Stay away!" She called out. Her brother completely ignored her and did an unfamiliar stance.

Stance?

Dance of the Fire God

Blue Heaven

Dance of the Fire God? What Breath was that? Her brother blocked all the strings that had been aiming for her. When had he gotten a sword? And who was that? Nezuko saw a body in between the trees. It took her a few more seconds but her mind finally clicked.

"Tomioka-san!" Tomioka-san glanced at her but didn't exactly reply.

"You..." Nezuko had forgotten about the demon for a moment, to her own surprise. The demon pointed at her and her brother. "Siblings?"

"What of it?" Her brother confronted.

"Siblings... Her brother is a demon... and yet..." The demon mumbled.

"R- Rui..." The other one weakly said. The demon, Rui, was it? The demon's eyes glued to them.

"These genuine 'bonds.' I want them!!!" He shouted out. If the situation wasn't so grim, Nezuko would have laughed at how spoiled that had sounded.

"Wait a minute! Wait! I'm your big sister, don't abandon your big sister!!" The girl demon begged. Nezuko genuinely felt bad for her as Rui attacked her, cutting her head and a part of the forest. This was in no way a family.

"You guys can't even handle your own duties. Kill the guys darting around the mountains and I'll forgive you for that incident." Rui told her without even looking then ignored her. The girl timidly carried her head and headed off.

"Tanjirou and I will take care of this one here. Go after the one that just left." Tomioka-san whispered to her. Nezuko wasn't sure if Rui would let her go, but she nodded in reply.

"Give me your brother. I'll spare your life if you hand him over. I'll make him my brother, starting today." Nezuko's anger flared. Her brother wasn't an object that could be treated like this!

If her brother didn't grab her shoulder, she probably would have snapped. "Go Nezuko! We got this." Nezuko hesitated but agreed. She didn't know where her brother got the sword, or how he knew to use it, but she trusted him. Plus, he wasn't alone. "And hand me one of the needles from Tamayo-san." Nezuko quickly passed him one and slowly separated from them.

Breath of Water; Fourth Style

Striking Tide

And Nezuko bolted out of there. She could hear the fury of Rui as she left, but her brother and Tomioka-san seemed to do a good job of distracting him.

Nezuko did her best trying to chase down the girl. She was tired from all the running and dodging, but she didn't fight that much. This was the least she could do.

There! Nezuko saw her. And a hunter.

Acid Cocoon

The hunter got surrounded by the web and was cocooned.

Breath of Water; Seventh Style

"Wow~" Nezuko came to a stop. Another person- a hunter- had appeared right behind the demon. "That's amazing. Do the strings come out of your palms?" Nezuko backed off. She felt like she would be a hindrance if she intervened.

Nezuko watched amazed as the hunter avoided all of the demon's attacks without a mistake. When she was near the demon, the demon cried out.

"Wait!! Please wait!! I'm being forced to abide by orders, please help me! I'll be ripped apart by the strings if I disobey!"

"Is that so. That's so heart-breaking... Your poor soul." The hunter smiled, though Nezuko felt as if she wasn't actually. "I'll help you out, so please cooperate with me." Both Nezuko and the demon was surprised at her answer.

The demon seemed to relax. "Y- you'll help?"

"Yes, but... I have a few things to ask before we can get along." The happy tone in her voice disappeared. "How many people did you kill?"

It was silent before the demon replied with tears in her eyes. "... Five... But I was ordered to so I had no choice!"

"You don't have to lie, you know. You ate more than forty people, right?" Nezuko clenched her fist. That many people had died from just a single demon? Just how many deaths were there in this mountain?

"... I don't really eat them."

"I came from the west side as you did, and I saw a lot of cocoons dangling on the west side of the mountains. Every person caught inside was completely dissolved into liquid, and there were forty cocoons in that place alone. Forty dead people." Then she added, "I'm not mad about this. I'm just checking the precise number."

The demon's voice was accusing, "What's the point of checking this?"

"Well, you're going to get some proper punishment and turn over a new leaf. If you take people's lives and receive no punishments, the people who got killed will never be satisfied." Nezuko shivered at the next words. "I'll torture you according to the number of people you've killed. Stuff like poking your eyeballs out, slashing your stomach and dragging your inside out. After enduring all the pain and suffering, you'll be resolved of your crimes.

"You're a demon so you won't die. There won't be any after effects! So, let's all work hard together."

"Don't joke about that..." The demon looked very annoyed about that. "Die!"

Breath of the Insect; Dance of the Butterflies

Frolic

Nezuko could barely see it, but from what she could tell, the demon hunter had stabbed the demon multiple times. It didn't look like much. The stabs were shallow and the head was left unscathed.

"It looks like we can't get along. Too bad." Nezuko could only stare in horror as the demon started dying. She didn't know how to describe it, but it looked like poison.

"You shouldn't let your guard down just because I can't cut your head off." She sheathed her sword. "A swords lady like me uses poison. Demon Hunter: the Insect Pillar. Kochou Shinobu. Ah, pardon me, you're dead so you can't hear me anymore." She turned towards her.

Nezuko flinched, unsure how to react. Shinobu-san smiled at her before piercing the cocoon, letting the other hunter out. He coughed several times.

"It seems that only your clothes have melted off and your body left unharmed." Shinobu-san said. Nezuko was glad there wasn't another death but felt bad for the hunter currently covering his body. "Now then. I'm sure there is another demon here. Do either of you know about it?"

Was talking about Rui? Nezuko nodded.

"Great! Could you lead me to them?" Nezuko hesitated. Her brother was a demon. He didn't eat or harm anyone, so it should be fine... right?

"... Yes...?" The answer came out more like a question, but she seemed content with it. Nezuko wearily led her in the direction she had come from.

 

The demon's presence was gone, from what Nezuko could tell. She could also see Tomioka-san and her brother. In an instant, Shinobu-san was gone from her side. Her blade clashed against Tomioka-san's.

"Oh? Why are you getting in the way, Tomioka-san? If you do this, everyone will hate you. Please get out of the way."

Nezuko interrupted. "Wait! H- He's my brother. He hasn't-"

Shinobu-san tilted her head. "Oh? Then I'll be sure to kill him quickly with poison that won't leave him in pain." Nezuko grabbed her brother's arm as Tomioka-san stepped in between them.

"Isn't this a violation of the Demon Hunter's Conduct?"

"..." Tomioka-san didn't reply. Her brother pushed her down as another hunter came down. Nezuko fell down terribly due to the sudden appearance. The girl swung her blade at her brother, who easily blocked the attack. He quickly stepped back to avoid another attack. Nezuko pulled her brother away from her and pushed him out of the way as the girl's kick struck her instead.

Her kick was strong.

Nezuko fell to the ground, head ringing. She faintly heard her brother calling out to her. She could see the blurry figures of Tomioka-san and Shinobu-san fighting. It didn't take long for her to lose consciousness.

 

 

"Caww!! Restrain the ones named Nezuko and Tanjirou, and bring them to headquarters!!" The crow flew around the air. It's loud cries reaching everyone's ears. "Nezuko as well as the demon Tanjirou! Restrain them!"

 

 

There were mumbles telling her to wake up.

"How long are you going to sleep?! Get up already!!!" Nezuko's head rang.

What a way to wake up, she complained. Then she saw a couple of people standing in front of her. And she was on the ground? Her hands were tied. She couldn't see her brother anywhere as well.

"The pillars are present!" Somebody announced.

Nezuko was so lost.

Chapter Text

Nezuko was lost.

She got knocked out in the mountain by someone, woke up here surrounded by people that she mostly didn’t recognize. How they were staring at her didn’t feel great. Their gazes felt… accusing.

Well, there was a small memory in the back of her mind that talked about Pillars. Maybe Urokodaki-san had mentioned them at one point, but Nezuko couldn't remember.

"This is the headquarters of the Demon Hunters. You are on a trial right now, Kamado Nezuko-chan." Shinobu-san informed her.

A trial.

She was on trial. Nezuko had a small idea of what the trial was about.

“There's no need for a trial here!” Nezuko’s first thought of the man was that he was someone she could like if it weren’t for what he said. “Protecting demons is clearly a violation of conduct! We can deal with it by ourselves. We'll decapitate every demon!" Nezuko’s heart sped up. The demon he was talking about couldn’t be…!

"Then let me cut his head off flamboyantly. It'll be flamboyant flamboyance." Another said. Nezuko gaped at the person, he was tall, they were going to cut off her brother’s head?!

"Ahhh... What a shoddy child he is. How sorrowful. It's so sorrowful that he was born into this world." Nezuko looked around, panicking. She could tell that her brother was near, as well as Tomioka-san and Shinobu-san. Though only one was comforting to know.

A person on a tree spoke up. "More importantly, what are we going to do about Tomioka? I have a headache seeing him not bound there. According to Kochou, Tomioka violated the Demon Hunter Conduct as well. How will we deal with him?" Nezuko followed to where the person was pointing at and found Tomioka-san. He was standing alone, away from the group.

"Well, it's fine, right? He followed me without causing a ruckus. We'll think of punishment later." Shinobu-san shifted her eyes to her. "More importantly, I want to hear this girl's story."

"My brother-" Nezuko coughed. Her throat was dry. Shinobu-san seemed to have noticed and brought a bottle to her mouth. She whispered a thank you and drank.

"My brother has never harmed or eaten a person and he never will! He- He and I can fight together!" They stared at her blankly.

"Whoah, whoa. This got somewhat interesting." Nezuko turned to the voice. It was a man with scars all over his body and a glare that made her shiver. He had a grip on her brother’s arms. "So you're the idiotic member who brought this demon. What the hell were you planning to do?"

"Please don't act on your own, Shinazugawa-san," Shinobu-san said.

He ignored her. "What's a demon to you, kiddo? You can fight with it to protect people as Demon Hunters?" He pulled out his sword. "You see, about that... That's impossible, you moron!" Nezuko fought against the person that was holding her. She couldn't break free and the sword stabbed her brother in the shoulder. Nezuko's blood boiled when she saw the blood dripping down his shoulder and stain the rocks.

Anger rose within her and she broke free from the grasp of the person holding her. She rushed towards Shinazugawa-san. Her brother stomped on his foot as Tomioka-san shouted out.

"Stop it!! Oyakata-sama is arriving soon!" Frozen from both the stomp and Tomioka-san speaking up, Nezuko had the chance to headbutt him. Now, her head wasn't like her brother's. It hurt. A lot.

They both tumbled over onto the ground. Nezuko weakly got up, head hurting even more from the headbutt, and headed over to her brother. He had his mask on, along with the scarf. He seemed okay, other than the stab mark on his shoulder.

"Damn you... I'll rip you to shreds!" Shinazugawa-san screamed.

"Oyakata-sama is here!" A girl's voice echoed. Everyone went silent, including Shinazugawa-san.

"So you have come, my swordsmen. Good morning everybody. Our members have gathered for the Pillar Meeting that we hold once every six months as per usual." Her brother tugged her haori.

"We need to bow." He whispered. Nezuko looked at him confused. Then she saw everyone else on their knees, including her brother. So she did so. Well, as best as she could while being tied up on the ground.

"We find it most honourable to be in your presence, Oyakata-sama. We eagerly pray for happiness upon you." Nezuko could hardly believe that was the same person that was screaming at them just now.

"Thank you, Sanemi."

"Let me humbly say that there is a soldier present in the Pillar Meeting by the name of Kamado Nezuko who has brought a demon. I believe an explanation is much needed."

"I see... I'm sorry this has surprised you all. I have given my approval for Tanjirou and Nezuko. So I would like it for everyone here to accept them." Nezuko let out the breath she didn't know she was holding. At least her brother wasn't being executed. The other, however, did not like that.

"Ah... Even though Oyakata-sama wishes us to do so, I am reluctant to give consent..."

"I also flamboyantly oppose to this. I can never accept a demon hunter who brings demons along."

"Don't trust them. We all hate demons, to begin with."

"I respect you from deep within, but I can't understand your thinking!! I completely oppose this!"

"We are demon hunters who annihilate all demons. I wish to punish both Kamado and Tomioka."

There were some positive- at least as positive as it could be- comment.

"I will abide by all your accordances, Oyakata-sama."

"Either way's fine for me... I'll just forget right away..."

Nezuko wasn't sure who said what, as she didn't exactly know their names, but it didn't sound very good.

"Now, the letter," Oyakata-sama said. The little girl beside him nodded. She pulled out a letter.

"We received this letter from the former pillar, Urokodaki Sakonji-sama. I will read a part of it."

"'-- Please forgive Nezuko for being with a demon. Tanjirou has a tenacious spirit and retains many human reasoning. He does not eat humans, but rather human food. You may find this sudden and difficult to believe, but this is the unmistaken truth.'"

"'If by any chance Tanjirou ever attacks someone, Kamado Nezuko, as well as Urokodaki Sakonji and Tomioka Giyuu, will cut their own stomachs open as an apology.'"

Everything became blurry around her. Did she hear it right? Urokodaki-san and Tomioka-san would have to commit seppuku as well?

Her selfish decision of wanting to turn her brother into human meant risking the lives of people who supported them. She didn’t realize this.

At that moment she hated herself.

"... If they want to die, they can just die and rot away. There is no guarantee in all this." Shinazugawa-san growled.

If only Nezuko could punch him.

She tried to get up. Her hands may have been tied, but that wasn’t stopping her.

"Shinazugawa is correct here! If he kills and eats someone, nothing can be undone! The people who got killed will never come back!"

And stopped.

She forced herself to stop. How Shinazugawa-san said it was rude and unnecessarily mean but that didn’t mean it was wrong. She believed in her brother but that alone wouldn't help.

"That is very true." Oyakata-sama agreed. "They can't guarantee or prove that he won't attack people. However, you can't prove that she'll attack someone either. As the letter says, Tanjirou consumes human food." Nobody spoke up at that. Nezuko's heart was thumping.

So what was going to happen to her brother?

"Besides, Tanjirou has come into contact with Kibutsuji." Everyone gasped and caused a large commotion amongst the pillars, but she was confused. Who was Kibutsuji? They started piling questions onto her brother. She pulled him a little closer to her.

Oyakata-sama stopped the commotion by shushing them.

"You see, Kibutsuji has come after Tanjirou and Tanjirou and Nezuko shook their pursuer loose. The reason for this may simply be just to close some loose ends, but for the first time, I don't want to let go of the tail that Kibutsuji has shown us. I believe something unexpected has happened to Kibutsuji. Do you understand?"

Nobody said anything for a while.

"I... do not understand, Oyakata-sama. We can let humans live but demons shouldn't. I cannot consent." Nezuko, truthfully, was very sick of Shinazugawa-san at that point. Then, to make her opinion him even worse, Shinazugawa-sama grabbed hold of her brother. "Forgive my rudeness." In a second, he and her brother changed locations. They were in a darker area where her brother would be safe from the sun.

Nezuko didn't know what Shinazugawa-san was going to do, but she didn't want to know. It didn't look anything good. She tried to get up from where she was laying but was pushed back down.

The push was painful. It dug in between her lungs. She couldn't breathe.

She could only watch helplessly as Shinazugawa-san cut himself in the arm a few times and held it out in front of her brother, who's mask was forcibly pulled off. Nezuko thought her brother wouldn't react, but flinched and covered his nose.

Of course, Nezuko would have been more worried if she could breathe. She took staggered breaths, all out of focus. Then the pressure was lifted. She took a large breath, her lungs ached at the sudden burst of air and calmed herself down before going after Shinazugawa-san.

She marched over to where he was, quickly saying, "excuse me, Oyakata-sama." Before kicking Shinazugawa-san between the legs as hard as she could. He fell over.

Nezuko huffed and pulled her brother as far away from him as possible.

"What happened?" Oyakata-sama questioned.

"The demon's sister stopped them before anything happened. However, the demon doesn't seem to be affected by the blood in any way." The girl on Oyakata-sama's left informed him.

He smiled. "That's proof that Tanjirou won't harm any human." Nobody argued. The guy that was pushing her down shook of Tomioka-san's grip. He glared at him.

"What are you doing Tomioka?"

"Nezuko," Oyakata-sama called out. Nezuko looked up at him. "Despite this, there will be people who won't willingly agree about Tanjirou. So you two have to prove that you can fight."

"Y-yes!" Nezuko managed to squeak out.

"Now then. Sanemi. Obanai. Don't bully the younger ones too much."

"... As you command." They both reluctantly answered.

"Now then. It's time to begin the pillar meeting." Nezuko was relieved. The meeting had been really tense.

Shinobu-san lifted her hand. "Okay then. Let us take care of them at my place." Nezuko- and pretty much everyone else in the area- looked at her blankly. "Okay! Take him away!" She clapped. Two Kakushi grabbed her and her brother and started speeding away. She didn't have time to react.

"Nezuko, Tanjirou. Give my regards to Tamayo-san." Nezuko's eyes widen. How did he know about Tamayo-san?

Her brother was mostly silent the walk back. He had a serious face and looked like he was in deep thought. Nezuko left him be to think.

Then he spoke up. Of course, it was to ask her how she was. Sometimes, Nezuko wished her brother would worry about himself.

“Are you alright, Nezuko?” She frowned.

“I’m fine. What about you, Onii-chan? You got hurt more than me.” She didn’t know what he did to get injured so much. It didn’t seem like he was going to tell her.

I’ll ask Inosuke-san since he was with Onii-chan. She noted herself.

 

"Pardon the intrusion." One of the Kakushi called out. They waited for a few moments before calling out again. "Pardon the intrusion… Pardon the- I don’t think anyone’s coming.” Nezuko sighed from behind.

“There’s someone out in the garden.” The two Kakushi looked at her. She was exhausted and just stared back. The two of them shrugged and headed into the garden.

There were a lot of butterflies. A pretty girl stood in the middle of them. Nezuko recognized her as the hunter that knocked her out.

Nezuko didn’t have much chance to look at her last night. She wore a white cape over her uniform. Oh? She wore a skirt instead of a hakama. Nezuko’s eyes eventually travelled over to the butterfly ornament she wore. For a second she thought that it was an actual butterfly. It looked similar.

“Oh… That’s Tsuyuri Kanao-sama. The Insect Pillar personally takes care of her.” Shinobu-san does? Nezuko was surprised… but not really. Shinobu-san just had an aura around her that felt so familiar and nostalgic.

Excluding when she kills demons.

“We came under Kochou-sama’s orders. Could we enter the estate?” The girl stood smiling. After a few uncomfortable silence, one of the Kakushi asked her again, with no reply once more.

Nezuko glanced behind her. Someone was walking up to them.

“Who are you?!” The two Kakushi jumped very high. They came to face with another girl. She wore a demon slayer uniform as well, but she had a white dress on top. And two butterfly ornaments. She had blue ones this time.

“No, we’re not- uh- Kochou-sama…” The Kakushi that was leading her gestured wildly. It wasn’t helpful, but the girl made the connection.

“They’re hurt, right? Follow me.”

Nezuko gave a last look to Kanao-san. She was still standing there, surrounded by butterflies.

 

 

 

Tanjirou’s head was ringing already, so hearing Zenitu’s screeches did not help.

“I’m going to continue drinking this medicine for 3 months?! It’s super bitter and painful and how do my legs and arms get cured of drinking this?!” Tanjirou was so relieved that Zenitsu was alive and well. He was still injured as much as he was in Tanjirou’s first life, but he looked a bit better. Fewer bandages on his body.

“Someone explain this to me better! What’s going to happen if I get hurt from drinking this?!”

“Zenitsu-san!” Tanjirou sent a surprised look to his sister. Her face was bright and looked relieved. “You’re alright!” Zenitsu stopped crying. His eyes widened with the biggest hearts in his eyes.

Aoi stomped over to Zenitsu. “Please be quiet!! I’ve explained about the medicine to you countless times already!” Zenitsu shivered up like a scared mouse and hid under his covers. While Nezuko checked on Zenitsu, Tanjirou tried to convince the Kakushi to let him roam.

Eventually, he managed to. First, he checked up Inosuke. He seemed to be sleeping, so Tanjirou left him alone but from what he could see, Inosuke was fine and healing well.

Then he checked on Zenitsu, who was talking happily with Nezuko. They both got bright red when he came to check on them. Tanjirou smiled and pretended to be oblivious. He trusted them after all.

That didn’t mean he wasn’t going to talk to Zenitsu though.

And eventually went to search for Giyuu. He hoped that the pillar meeting was done by now.

“Hey!” Tanjirou jumped at the voice. “Where are you going?” Aoi came over to him.

“To meet… uh…” Tanjirou stammered.

“You’re not allowed to leave the mansion without a hunter.” She said. Tanjirou nodded. Of course, he couldn’t, he was a demon after all. The pillars probably did not trust him still. He sadly sat down near the entrance. Aoi studied him for a moment but seemed to be content with that and left.

Tanjirou sat there for some time, though he hadn’t noticed, it was already sundown.

“Tanjirou.” He immediately stood up at the voice.

“Giyuu!” With a smile, Tanjirou greeted him. The smile started fading away as he saw Giyuu’s serious face. Ah, right. They had many things to talk about.

Chapter Text

So. I usually post updates on my profile in wattpad but I guess it's best to do it here in order to actually let people see.

I do realize that it's past October 31st now. I've gotten busy with my life. I'm still editing! But it's taking me longer than I thought. I would love to still continue this so I'll do it as best and quickly as I can.

I'm only still editing chapter 5...  There's a lot of things I changed with the story so it's been hard.

I might need another month or a little more than that. I really didn't expect to take so long. Sorry!!! :(

Please don’t misunderstand!!! I am not giving up on this story!!!