“South-southeast! Your next mission is located south-southeast!” The Kasugai crow shouted above him multiple times in the past five minutes. Tanjiro told his crow he knew where he was headed yet the bickering didn't cease any less. Tanjiro sighed covering one of his ears to stifle the crows loud voice.
“I heard you! I heard, so give me a break and quiet down!” Tanjiro pleaded hoping the crow would listen to him. The crow only flew down flapping around him and cawing. “I'm begging you! I got the message, so please!”
Suddenly a loud cry startled the pair and both looked over only to see two people on the path. One with a bright yellow fading to dark orange kimono with white triangles was on his knees gripping a girl in a dark lavender kimono by the shoulders and pleading like his life depended on it.
“Please! Please marry me!” The blond haired male begged, with tears in his eyes.
“I could die any day, you know! That's why I want you to marry me! So please! please, im begging you!”
“Wha- what on earth is that about?” Tanjiro questioned as he looked over the odd scene, seamingly out of nowhere a male house sparrow flew from the side, and to Tanjiro who held out his hand in advance for the small bird so it could land. It chirped desperately at him and fluttered its wings to try and prove his point about the situation before him.
Tanjiro tilted his head at the sparrow and took in all of what he had to say. Eventually after getting the information, Tanjiro nodded at the little sparrow “I see, I'll do something about it” Tanjiro said, determined to fix the problem ahead of him.
The sparrow looked relieved to be finally understood and promptly flew off to the side. Tanjiro walked to the strange guy and the girl struggling to pry him off as he clutched to her, his face full of tears and snot as he still pleaded to the girl.
“Please help me! Please marry me! I'm begging yo-” he was cut off as Tanjiro yanked him off the girl by his sunset colored kimono.
“What do you think you're doing in the middle of the road?” he shouted at the blond while holding the kimono tightly “Can't you see she wants no part of you? And don't go making trouble for your sparrow, either!”
“T-That uniform? Hey, i know you from final selection” he mumbled as he looked over Tanjiro’s features, recognizing the kind sound the Alpha made during the time he was around the burgundy haired male after Final Selection was over.
“No one i know is anything like you! I don't know you!” Tanjiro yelled at the teary male.
“But we met, remember! We met, remember?!” The other repeated in haste “Your the one that has a problem! like your bad memory!”
Then, Tanjiro finally recognized the blond as one of the five survivors from final selection, he had quite a unique scent from other Alphas and Betas he's met before. He took a moment to process this and finally let his grip go of the yellow-orange kimono, turning his attention to the alpha female. “It's alright now i've taken care of it, you can head home now without any trouble”
“I will. Thank you so very much!” she happily said bowing to show her gratitude to Tanjiro for his help. The male behind Tanjiro watched with wide eyes before he started shouting again.
“Hey! Stay out of my way! She is going to marry me because she's in love with me-” all of a sudden a loud smack rang through the air as the girl smacked the other and continued to hit him multiple times before being held back by Tanjiro.
“H-hey calm down!” Tanjiro said as he struggled to hold the female alpha back from hurting the blond more.
“When did I ever say that I loved you!?” She yelled, as she tried getting out of Tanjiro's grip to knock more sense into the other guy.
"You were crumpled up at the side of the road and all I did was ask if you were alright!"
"What? You mean you didn't reach out to me out of love because you were worried!?"
"I already have a fiancé, so not on your life! And with all that energy you must be fine now right? Goodbye!" Her words were full of finality as she turned around and stormed away.
“W-wait comeback! Come…”
“Hey, cut it out!” Tanjiro looked at the blond that was sitting on the ground.
“Wh-why did you get in my way? This has nothing to do with you!” He replied.
Tanjiro gave him a look.
“What's with that look, Knock it off!” The other cried “Why are you staring at me like I'm some sort of creature or something? Your the one that's responsible for it, It's your fault that I lost my chance at getting married!” He pointed accusingly at Tanjiro like he was a villain.
“JEEZ, SAY SOMETHING ALREADY!!!” he screeched the tears just seemed never ending for this guy.
“Listen up! I'm going to die soon, on my next job. The thing is i'm super weak! I'm not kidding, you have to protect me until I manage to get married all right?” the young teen said. Tanjiro placed a hand on his own chest as he spoke his next words.
“My name is Tanjiro Kamado!”
The male shook violently “Is that right? I'm sorry! My names Zenitsu Agatsuma, please save me, Tanjiro!” Zenitsu shuffled towards him and gripped at his kimono, his eyes shiny from all the tears as the light hit them. Tanjiro scrunched his face in confusion at the demon slayers words, why did he become part of the Corps?
“What do you mean save you?” Tanjiro placed his hands on Zenitsu’s shoulders “What's your reason for becoming a swordsmen Zenitsu? And why are you being so blatantly shameless?”
“That's a harsh way to put it!” he cried.
“I got tricked by a women and racked up all this debt, an old geezer who took it over for me was a cultivator, and after that i had to go through hellish training day after day!” Zenitsu pulled his hair as he spoke, “It was so bad that I thought I'd be better off dead! I was hoping I could die during Final Selection, but since i was lucky enough to survive, im still going through hell every single day!”
Tanjiro looked on with worry as the blond continued to rant on about his predicament.
“Ahhhh! I’m so scared! scared, scared, scared! I know that im going to end up killed and devoured soon by a demon, my brainsgoingtobesuckedthroughmyearswhileimstillalive nonononono!!!”
“PLEASE SAVE ME!!!” Zenitsu hollered for dear life as he shook uncontrollably, shaking in place, tears overflowed on his already soaked cheeks, he was even gasping for breath as he entered some sort of panic attack. The scent of distress and anxiety was horrible to Tanjiro’s sensitive nose, he thought the smell of a fightend Betas was bad but this one topped it for potency.
Tanjiro felt the urge to relieve the blond of such a desperate and terrored filled state. He didn't understand why the need to protect and nurture was so strong towards Zenitsu but reason or not he wouldn't leave someone who needed help.
And Zenitsu desperately needed it right now.
Tanjiro kneeled beside his trembling form and placed a hand gently on his back and rubbed it soothingly. Zenitsu continued to hyperventilate, his crying never stopping blurring his caramel eyes.
“What's the matter, are you okay?” Tanjiro asked quietly, releasing some of his pheromones in hopes to calm the boy down. It wouldn't be as effective as a Betas calming pheromones but he would do the best he could to help the young male. He massaged his back in soothing circles while rubbing the scent gland on his wrist to the sunset kimono, spreading the scent more to calm Zenitsu further.
Zenitsu’s breathing calmed down fairly quicker then Tanjiro thought would happen, considering how panicked he had been when this started. “Are you feeling better now?”
Zenitsu took a deep breath before nodding his head slowly and closing his eyes as he rubbed his sleeve on them, clearing his face of tears. He looked up to Tanjiro for a moment before picking himself up off the ground and slumping his shoulders.
“Sorry about that,” he said, suddenly very shy as he fidgeted with his fingers. Tanjiro smiled softly at Zenitsu which surprised the blond.
“Dont worry about it, you needed the comfort and i wouldn’t just leave you in such a state”
Zenitsu blinked at Tanjiro’s kind words, tears pricking at the corners of his eyes again from it, he sniffled. It's been a while since Zenitsu met someone as kind as Tanjiro, besides Gramps of course.
Tanjiro jumped at the sight of tears again, afraid he may have triggered the unstable Beta into crying again.
“Ah, please don’t cry again!” he gestured to hold Zenitsu’s shoulders again but faltered in the process as Zenitsu brought an arm up to rub the tears away again and spoke.
Tanjiro let out a sigh of relief and smiled again when he realized he wasn't going to cry again.
“Let's head this way, there's a place I need to go if you want to come”
Zenitsu nodded following alongside Tanjiro on the dirt pathway. There was a warm breeze that blew around them as they walked. Zenitsu glanced over to Tanjiro every once in a while. He was kind of confused at the burgundy haired male. Despite being an Alpha, Tanjiro was very kind to him in the few minutes that they met. Even under the odd circumstance that they met under, and he was even allowing Zenitsu to accompany him.
As they walked a bit more, Zenitsu realized that the box Tanjiro was carrying had a demon inside. As scary as the thought of a demon so close scares Zenitsu, Tanjiro’s kind sounds made him feel a lot better about the situation. He obviously wasn't trying to bring harm or deceive anyone with it. And he sounded to much of a good soul to want to bring any harm to anyone.
Although he was a demon slayer, he was traveling with one oddly enough. Zenitsu wouldn't question it though, at least not now. He trusted that Tanjiro was doing this for a good reason, he could trust that.
Zenitsu listened to Tanjiro's heartbeats and the swaying of his hanafuda earring as he walked alongside him, it was a beautiful sound, soft but strong. It was weird but, pleasant. Most of the time Alpha's had sounds that felt intimidating and powerful, Beta's were calm and caring. Zenitsu had yet to meet another Omega like him to see how they generally sounded but he would guess similar to Beta's.
Tanjiro was like a mix of both Alpha and Beta sounds.
"How are you?" Tanjiro asked after quite some time of silence. He was giving Zenitsu some space to think and relax. All that panicking must have taken a lot out of him.
"I'm good, now that I'm calmer though, I'm starting to get a bit hungry"
"Don't you have any food with you?" Tanjiro questioned.
Zenitsu shook his head "no"
Tanjiro looked over the other demon slayer thoughtfully. He must be exhausted, he definitely looks it, he mused as he looked at Zenitsu's eyes, red and puffy from all the crying and half lidded from fatigue. Tanjiro reached in his kimonos inside pocket where he knew he had a rice ball stored there.
He pulled out the snack and presented it to the blond "Here take this, would you like it?"
"Oh, thanks" Zenitsu took it gratefully, and took a bite of the Onigiri. He looked over to the Alpha and noticed that he hadn't taken anything out to eat for himself.
"Your not eating, Tanjiro?" The Alpha smiled.
"No, since that was all I had with me"
Zenitsu regardless of his tiredness and hunger couldn't just take what little food Tanjiro had all for himself. He wasn't selfish. Not to mention Tanjiro was so kind to him all this time, he needed something in return. And the Omega in him cared for the hospitality the Alpha shared with him.
So Zenitsu did the only reasonable thing, and that was to share half of the food with him.
"Here, you have half" Zenitsu offered half of the rice ball to the burgundy Alpha.
"Really? Thanks!" Tanjiro took the half happily, taking a bite himself.
Again a comforting silence takes place as they finish eating, Zenitsu wonders how far Tanjiro is traveling. They've been walked for a good forty minutes already.
"I know what you mean when you say your scared of demons Zenitsu, but you can't go making trouble for your sparrow"
"The sparrow? Was it distressed? How can you tell?"
"Well, he says your always whining about not going to work, that you constantly hit on Alphas and Betas, and you snore so loud that he's had it. Or so he says" Tanjiro points to the little sparrow he pulled out of his inside pocket where it snuggled up to rest a while back. It chirped in agreement and it looked at Zenitsu.
Zenitsu's eyes widened in shock and disbelief.
"He's saying all that? You can understand bird language?"
Tanjiro nodded giving Zenitsu a hum of agreement.
"Your lying, right? Your just trying to trick me!" He says, not believing what Tanjiro's saying.
Zenitsu suddenly hears a loud cry from a crow as he sees one overhead flying in circles above them. He's shocked to his core when he hears the bird suddenly speaking.
"Start running! Start running! Tanjiro, Zenitsu, run! Both of you head to your next destination! Tanjiro! Zenitsu!"
Zenitsu started trembling at the freakish sight. There's no way that's happening! he's dreaming!.
“AHH! THAT CROW IS TALKING!!!” he screamed again, and somehow started making dynamic poses on the ground that Tanjiro didn't even know were possible for the blond. Zenitsu continued to freak out and covered his ears like he was trying to ignore that fact that Tanjiro’s crow was actually speaking. “IT’S A MONSTER! IT'S A MONSTER!”
Tanjiro looked over the male in worry, did his crow trigger another panic attack?
“Z-zenitsu it's okay! that's just my Kasugai crow” he went over the panicked demon slayer and kneeled down beside him. Zenitsu didn’t respond only continued pulling his hair and yelling things like “im going to die! diediedie!!!”
Without thinking, Tanjiro presented his wrist close to Zenitsu’s face and released some pheromones. He himself was a bit surprised at the action but he didn't mull on it as Zenitsu suddenly quieted down. His tawny iris studied the wrist in front of him and took in the scent wafting into his nose and calming down way faster than earlier.
Perhaps Zenitsu needed more than that. Would scenting something keep him steady? He used to scent either their wrists, items, or clothing that his siblings had when he would leave for a few hours to make money for his family, and it worked well so that they didn't miss him too much and kept them happy. He supposed it was because since his father passed, there was no one to fill an Alpha role in the family and they looked to him for it.
Zenitsu looked up, and warm caramel met kind scarlet.
“You seem to be soothed around my scent so, would you like me to scent something to keep you relaxed for a while?”
Zenitsu said nothing for a moment, lost in how unreal Tanjiro’s concern for him was. Why was he being so nice to someone like him? Like he deserved the goodwill? He was worthless in so many ways, he was weak, a crybaby, a coward, and couldn't even make Gramps proud by learning more of the styles of thunder. He tried, he really did, but he was such a disappointment to everyone around him no matter how hard he tried. So why?
Zenitsu couldn't even remember the last time he was given such an offer, and here it was, right in front of him without any hesitation, just like how Tanjiro had given him the rice ball earlier. He was such a kind hearted person. How many people would take advantage of something like that? Would he do anything someone asked without even batting an eye?
He sat up and looked down at the ground.
“You'd do something like that…” Zenitsu shut his eyes making the tears at the edges spill over, his voice shook as he finished his sentence “...for someone like me?”
Tanjiro smiled “Of course, if it would help you”
Zenitsu blushed at the bright smile Tanjiro gave him. That unique kind melody still hummed in his ears and he nodded shyly turning his face away. He offered his arm lifting it up for Tanjiro to scent the end of the kimono. Zen felt Tanjiro grab his hand and jumped, almosted jerking his hand away when suddenly Tanjiro connected both of their wrists.
“W-what are you doing?” Zenitsu asked, shocked that Tanjiro was rubbing his gland on Zenitsu’s.
“Hmm? Oh, did you want something else scented instead?” Tanjiro looked apologetic, removing his wrist quickly in case he accidentally crossed some boundary. He assumed Zenitsu wanted to his wrist scented.
“I was suggesting the kimono, but the wrist is fine too...” Zenitsu looked away giving Tanjiro his arm again in reasurrence that he could continue his previous actions. Tanjiro nodded, and continued rubbing his gland on Zenitsu’s.
“y'know I did this alot with my little brother when there where thunderstorms at night” Tanjiro smiled at the memory.
Zenitsu's eyes widened a bit. He did this often with his family members? Something tugged at Zenitsu's chest at the thought, he wished he could of experienced something like that.
By the time Tanjiro finished he hadn't realized how much pheromones he was pushing out until he stopped and sniffed.
"Ah, sorry I guess I went a bit overboard," he said. Zenitsu shook his head.
"No, it's fine I don't mind"
Tanjiro nodded standing up while helping out Zenitsu as well. "C'mon, I think we're close" he said as he broke into a run.
"Ah wait up!" Zenitsu cried as he ran after the Alpha.
"Hey, Tanjiro, on second thought I'm not gonna make it, even if I go with you I'll be totally useless" Zenitsu said behind Tanjiro. They ran quite a bit before stopping when they got to the dense forest. And tracking up this mountain was exhausting.
Tanjiro looked over his shoulder to look at Zenitsu.
"I'm sure you can make it, and were getting close" he could smell the scent of a demon and something else it smelled like blood but differnt.
Through the dense forest there was a clearing and a mansion in the middle. They both stopped in front of the building.
"I can smell blood… but, this scent…"
"You smell something?" Zenitsu questioned.
"Something i've never smelled before" He replied.
"Well i don't know about that, but do you hear that sound? Also are we going to work together, after all?" He asked hesitantly.
"You hear something?" Tanjiro turned to look at him but something passed him caught his eye.
When Zenitsu didn't get an answer he looked at Tanjiro but saw he was looking elsewhere to his side, when he looked he saw them as well.
"K-kids..." he started shaking a bit, a little spooked at the sight, he hadn't heard them at all with the creepy sound coming from the house.
"I wonder what's wrong"
Zenitsu watched as Tanjiro approached the two trembling kids, focusing his hearing a bit he could hear that they were terrifed, this made Zenitsu continue trembling himself, what had they seen before they got here?
"Hey, guys, what are you doing all the way out here?" Tanjiro asked the kids, but stopped when they shuffled a bit away from him and clutched to each other protectively.
They were really spooked.
"Okay, wanna see something cool?" He asked them in a friendly way.
"Ta-da! It's a tame sparrow!" Tanjiro said enthusiastically as he pulled the sparrow out from his pocket again. The bird aided him by chirping happily and fluttering around a bit.
He's really good with kids, Zenitsu thought as he saw the younger ones calm a bit.
"See? Isn't he cute?" He asked them. He sparrow made another chirp. The two kids started crying as they slumped to the ground in each others arms.
"Please tell me, did something happen?" Tanjiro asked softy. "Is this your home?"
"N-no. No, its not" the young boy said shakily, blinking some tears away "This, this is… a monster's house!"
"Our big brother got taken away when we were walking down the road at night, this monster we've never seen before showed up. It didn't give us a glance, just our brother"
"And they went inside that house right?"
"Yeah" the young boy nodded.
"And you followed them here? You did good, great job!"
"We-we followed the traces of his blood, he got hurt!" The boy cried.
"Don't worry! Were going to defeat the bad guy and get your brother back to you, okay?"
"Really? You really will?" The little girl piped up, when she unburied her face from her brothers kimono.
"Yeah!" Tanjiro nodded to the little girl, giving her a smile "promise!"
"Tanjiro, hey what's this sound? This creepy noise never stops, is it a tsuzumi?" Zenitsu asked he brought his hand up to cover his ear while also taking in Tanjiro's scent from his wrist.
"Sound? I don't hear anything" he said. He couldn't hear anything besides the ruffling of leaves as the wind blew through the trees, and sounds of cicadas and crickets in the distance.
Overall it was fairly quiet in his opinion.
Then he faintly hears something as he looks up at the building. It got louder and louder eventually it started picking up pace, and out of nowhere, with no time to react accordingly to the situation, a person flew out over the second story balcony. Blood sticking to their clothes also flew into the air around them as they fell.
Time seemed to slow but it all happened and ended in just seconds.
A scream rang out as the person fell hard onto the ground, blood spattered everywhere.
"Don't look!" Tanjiro yelled to the kids as he ran over to the injured man.
Zenitsu looked on with horror at the sight, his eyes wide with shock and fear. He shook uncontrollably as anxiety and adrenaline clawed at his chest. He was stuck in a state of fight or flight but thankfully he had Tanjiro's scent surrounding him this time in a sort of temporary safe bubble. It helped to ground him a little, but he couldn't fight off the dread.
"Are you alright? Stay with me!" Tanjiro said as he lifted the man's upper body, lifting his head. Tanjiro's eyes widened at the injury on the Beta's stomach. It was a deep wound, his stomach was torn open. He grimaced at the sight.
He wouldn't make it…
"Even though… I got out…even though I made it out… made it outside…" it pained Tanjiro to see the Beta struggle to talk in such a state he was in "still… im going to die?... Am I still going to die?"
Tanjiro felt his heart sink in despair, and hopelessness. He closed his eyes as he took the other into an embrace to try and help reduce the pain the other must have been going through.
After a moment had passed he felt the man go limp and lifeless.
It must have hurt a lot, he must have suffered. Tanjiro grit his teeth.
"Tanjiro, by any chance, is that guy these kid's…"
We couldn't save him in time, if only we'd gotten here a little sooner, we might've managed to save him.
Zenitsu jumped as he heard an intimidating noise and the beats of a tsuzumi continued throughout the inside of the mansion.
"Hey, is this man your…" Tanjiro went to ask.
"It's not him, brother's wearing a persimmon colored kimono"
So it's captured more than one person. Tanjiro stood up and placed his hands together in prayer giving a moment of silence. I promise to bury you when I return. Forgive me, forgive me. When he finished, he turned around with determination in his eyes.
"Alright, Zenitsu come on!" Tanjiro said. Zenitsu stood there, his shoulders shaking and he was sweating at he starred, hypnotised by the mansion. He shook his head rapidly, not wanting any part of this.
"But no one else can help them now but you and me Zenitsu" Tanjiro said. Why did Zenitsu belittle his power?
The blond stayed quiet, still quivering and tears threatened to fall again.
"Really? All right then" Zenitsu jumped at Tanjiro's scary expression, and clinged to Tanjiro's box as he walked away from him.
"Hey, come on! Why are you making that ogre face at me? Okay i'll go!" Zenitsu cried.
"I have no intention of forcing you if you don't want to"
"I said i'll gooo!" Zenitsu whined.
Tanjiro stopped in front of the kids again and rolled off the straps of the box and kneeled down to place it in front of them. The young boy was confused as he watched Tanjiro do this.
"In case of an emergency im leaving this box behind, even if something happens you two will be protected okay?" Tanjiro looked them in the eyes to make sure they understood "Ok we're going now"
Tanjiro stood, and walked to the building's entrance, with Zenitsu in tow who again was crying, but he couldn't comfort him right now. There where people that needed their help and they needed to get there fast.
Hopefully Zenitsu could stay a bit calmer now that he had Tanjiro's scent. Tanjiro slid the sliding door open and stepped inside. It was quiet, for now, but he didn't let his guard down, just in case. The house was stepped in the smell of multiple demons but one clearly stood out from the rest.
He thought he only smelled one from outside but it seemed he was wrong. He gripped the hilt of his katana.
"Tanjiro, hey, Tanjiro, you'll protect me right? You'll protect me, right?" Zenitsu's face was covered in tears again. And Tanjiro smelled the fear rolling off him like buckets of water.
Tanjiro mentally sighed as he stopped in the middle of the hallway he didn't want to say this, but maybe it would let the Beta get a grip and face his fears, if not at least try and understand that he couldn't do this without him "Zenitsu, i hate to put you on the spot, but..."
He turned around, facing Zenitsu, feeling bad about having to say this.
"I've got a broken rib and leg from my previous battle, and neither have fully healed yet so-"
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN BROKEN BONES? DON'T GO BREAKING ANY BONES ON ME!" Zenitsu yelled at the top of his lungs yanking his hair for some sort of stability. Lost in his frantic yelling Zenitsu hardly stopped to even take a breath.
"IF YOU'VE GOT FRACTURES, THERE'S NO WAY YOU CAN PROTECT ME! I-I-I-IM GOING TO DIE! WHAT AM I GONNA DO? WHAT AM I GOING TO DO? I'M GOING TO DIE NOW! DIE! DIE! DIE! DIE"!
"HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?! BROKEN BONES? I'M A DEAD MAN NOW 99.9% DEAD!" Zenitsu was on the floor again rolling around hysterically. Tanjiro realized that he couldn't rely on his scent alone for Zenitsu to keep a level head, it isn't that he's just scared of demons in general, it was a deep fear. Probably rooted to his core.
"IM DEAD! IM DEAD! IM DEAD!" Zenitsu wailed.
"Zenitsu, quiet down! You'll be alright!" Tanjiro said worriedly in a hushed tone, as he looked down, Zenitsu was screaming and yelling and Tanjiro was nervous that Zenitsu would have another breakdown.
"DON'T SUGARCOAT IT!" Zenitsu hollered back.
"I'm not! I can tell, all right? Zenitsu you're really- Hey!" Tanjiro yelled. Zenitsu screamed as he heard footsteps approaching, and tried covering his ears.
"You shouldn't be here!" Tanjiro shouted at the two kids that followed them inside.
"M-mister, we heard scratching sounds inside that box you left!" The boy said nervously, the little girl came closer to him and reached out. Tanjiro pulled her close for reassurance.
"S-still, it pains me that you left it behind! I mean, it's more precious to me than my own life!"
A loud bang from above them shook the walls and Tanjiro looked around cautiously. He heard Zenitsu scream again in panic, and before he could turn around to try and calm him he was shoved into the room next the them with the young girl, the cause was Zenitsu bending down to crouch and ended up bumping them.
Zenitsu looked over his shoulder to see what he had hit and quickly apologised for the incident, afraid the Alpha would get upset.
"S-sorry! my butt..."
Tanjiro blinked but the second he did he found himself in a different place.
What? The room changed, or were they the ones that moved? to the sound of that tsuzumi? He couldn't smell Zenitsu or the boy nearby.
The little girl whimpered as she clutched to Tanjiro's kimono and buried her face. Tanjiro placed his hands on her shoulders so they could see each other.
"Sorry you got separated from your brother, but i'm going to protect you no matter what okay?" Tanjiro wiped a tear from her eye, she stared at him as he spoke "And Zenitsu's going to protect your brother, don't worry. What's your name?"
"Teruko" she said softly.
"Is that right? Teruko? That's a nice name you have-" Tanjiro stops mid sentence when a demons scent hits his nose. And it was close. He looked over to the open door were it was coming from and saw the demon reveal itself from the shadows.
He covered Teruko's mouth, in time before she screamed.
Among all these scents, this one was the strongest that the house was covered in. This one's devoured a whole slew of humans.
"IM GONNA DIE! IM GONNA DIE! I'M GONNA DIE! IM TELLING YOU! TANJIRO AND I GOT SPIT UP!" Zenitsu cried as Tanjiro suddenly disappeared. He couldn't hear him and that scared Zenitsu more then anything.
"Teruko!" Zenitsu jumped "Teruko!"
"No no no! Don't yell like that! If you yell and the bad guy hears you, it won't be pretty! Come on lets step outside!" He pleaded.
"What? Why outside?" The boy questioned, he'd never seen someone older act like this before. "Are you trying to escape all by yourself?"
"All this constant yammering about dying… aren't you ashamed of yourself? Clinging to a younger person… dont you feel pathetic? What are you wearing that sword on your hip for anyway?"
"Ack- those words… they cut so deep..."
Zenitsu jumped up and grasped the boy's kimono trying to drag him towards the outside door "That's not it! In not useful to anyone here anyway, so im gonna get a grownup here okay?"
"Let me go!" The boy struggled to tug his clothing away from Zenitsu but he wouldn't budge.
"This isn't something we kids can resolve on our own!" Zenitsu slid the door open and his eyes widened when he just found an empty room, his face contorted in disbelief "Your kidding me, your kidding me, your kidding me! I'm sure this was the front door!"
Zenitsu looked around frantically trying to remember where the door to outside was.
"Where'd the outside go?! I mean this was…" Zenitsu slid another door open "was it this one?!"
"How about this one?" Another door.
"And this one?" And another. But Zenitsu paused when he saw a figure in the dark room. Zenitsu felt a shiver run down his spine at the sight, it was some monster with a boars head! And if the figure standing there wasn't enough to make Zenitsu pass out then and there, the thing breathed in deeply and let it's breath go in this intimidating way.
"IT'S A MONSTER!" Zenitsu shrieked as his eyes bulged out of their sockets, and ducked when the thing sprinted towards him. Zenitsu cried bloody murder as he crouched into a tiny ball to protect himself, covering his head with his hands.
When it was all quiet, Zenitsu turned around, afraid he may have lost the kid, but was met with the same boy giving him that same look Tanjiro had given him about an hour ago.
Zenitsu pointing accusingly at him "What the heck? What's with that look in your eyes?! Stop looking at me like that!"
"Okay, okay" Zenitsu said trying to gather himself "Let's just try and find the door that leads outside ok? But be very quiet so no one hears us, here" Zenitsu offered his hand to the boy who took it hesitantly.
"What's your name? Sorry I didn't ask earlier" Zenitsu sighed, as he held the kid's hand. He felt horrible that the boy had to deal with him and not by Tanjiro’s side. But! He would try his best at keeping him safe!
"Ah, that's nice" Zenitsu gave a small smile at him. Zenitsu began walking forward taking slow steps as to not make any noise. He could still hear that tsuzumi somewhere but couldn't tell from which direction.
This whole place is loopy! How was he going to find the exit? Let alone, a safe place to hide if the time came? Zenitsu started getting chills at the thought of bumping into a demon. He took in labored breaths, shaking as he peaked over a corner to see if the coast was clear.
When he saw and heard nothing he continued down the empty hallway shaking with every step he took, he unconsciously brought his wrist up and put it near his nose but was surprised when the scent was barely there.
W-what? How did it go away so soon? Did it have to do with him sweating so much? The demons in this house? He didn't know and that lack of information continued to make the Omega spiral down more and more into panic frenzy .
N-no not right now! He had to find a way out first or somewhere safe! The best idea though was finding Tanjiro and sticking by his side forever. He really wanted to leave this hell hole of terror. The sounds of the tsuzumi had stopped and Zenitsu didn't know if that was good or bad for them.
"Excuse me, Zenitsu?"
"AHHH!!!" Zenitsu screamed at the sudden sound behind him not even realizing in his fear induced state that it was just Shoichi. He turned around hoping to maybe scare whatever he heard by trying to be intimidating but stopped and leaped on Shoichi’s small frame, he clung to him as tears poured out.
“Signal… signal… s-signal me first!” Zenitsu begged on his knees “If you want to talk, don't come at me all of a sudden! My heart nearly flew out of my mouth just now!”
“Im sorry” Shoichi said, he sounded tired and nervous.
“If that had come to pass, that would've made you a murderer for sure! You get that right?” Zenitsu shook like a leaf.
“See… it's just… you've been sweating, gasping and shivering so bad, not to mention your scent is soured in fear-”
“What about it? Aren't i doing the best I can here!?”
“Well, forgive me for saying, but you’re making me nervous, too, so...”
“Oh no! Sorry about that!” he said tearfully, he hadn't meant to make the other sacred as well, he was trying to make him feel safe, not get to his level! “still! if we talk too much, those demons will hear and all, they might find us, right? That's why I think it's best to stay as quiet as possible! Right?”
Shoichi said nothing in return but his face turned grim as he looked passed Zenitsu. Zenitsu could hear it before he turned around, that unatrural and scary sound only demons could make. He turned around afraid of what horror he’ll see. Zenitsu breath hitched so sharply, he felt pain in his throat when he saw the demon.
“A couple of kids, most likely agreeable to the tongue” The demon spoke as it eyed both of them like pieces of fresh meat.
“WHAT DID I TELL YOU! A DEMON SHOWED UP! A DEMON SHOWED UP, UNDERSTAND!?” Zenitsu yelled as he snatched Shoichi’s hand and ran the opposite direction.
“STAY AWAY! STAY AWAY FROM US! STOP THAT!!” He screamed back at the demon that started to chase them by crawling on the ground freakishly “W-W-WE DON'T TASTE GOOD! I'M SURE I TASTE AWFUL! And this kid’s all skin and bones, so he's all dry and tastes ghastly!”
If he couldn't save his life at least he'd do some good and save Shoichi’s life.
“How will I know until I have a taste?” The demon replied shooting his tongue out of his mouth like a bullet.
“NOOOO!” Zenitsu yanked Shoichi’s kimono by the sleeve just in time to pull him away from that demons tongue and held him close wrapping his arms around the younger kid protectively. Because Zenitsu grabbed Shoichi quick enough he saw the tongue hit a vase instead and split it in two.
“What was that? Quick tongued! Splitting a vase in two?” Zenitsu dodged the tongue again as it attacked once more “That's just not possible!” he screeched as they busted through some doors, he held Shoichi securely so he didn't get hurt as they fell and slid across the ground.
Shoichi whipped his head around to the now open entrance where they came from, he looked down to Zenitsu’s form and took his hand shaking it a bit “Zenitsu! Get up!”
Zenitsu gasped as he turned around “IT'S IN MY KNEES NOW! 80 PERCENT OF MY FEAR IN IN MY KNEES!” Zenistu wailed.
“This is no time to whine, all right?”
“Just leave me behind, okay? Make a run for it!”
Shoichi looked at him with concern “I can't do something like that!”
Zenitsu cried like an open faucet with no stop button.
What a great kid! Even though i'm making terrified sounds like this, he refuses to leave me behind! I have to find a way to save him somehow! If I don't protect him, what will happen to him? Dying before he reaches double digits would be way to tragic! What would people say if they heard i couldn't even protect a single kid? I'd be even more useless then i am now!
“Get up!” Shoichi shook his shoulder, desperately.
But i'm so weak… I don't have the ability to save my own life, let alone another persons! But if I don't protect him… he’ll die!
Zenitsu startled when he heard the demon crawl into the room by the entrance and looked back in terror. The demon laughed at the two, taunting them with his next words.
“I'm going to guzzle your brain matter through your ears!”
It was in that moment Zenitsu’s brain ceased functioning and broke as his worst fear was made apparent right before his very eyes, his body slumped to the ground lifelessly.
Those words where the last thing Zenitsu heard before his vision went black. It was like an empty abyss, he looked left and right but found nothing but more darkness.
Suddenly a bright light blinded him and he shut his eyes tightly.
"Get up Zenitsu!"
Zenitsu's eyes shot open and he found himself lying on his back staring at the clouds in the sky as they drifted on currents of wind. The orange and red colored sky was quite pretty today he admired. He blinked sighing as he sat up.
"Now, again Zenitsu" Gramps instructed him as he used the staff to whack his back, it didn't hurt but it was firm, Zenitsu nodded slowly at him as he stood. How had Gramps shown up? Hadn't he been somewhere important? He felt nostalgic but shook the thought away "Control your breathing and take the stance I taught you, your enemy is right in front of you"
He looked in front of him and saw a poorly made dummy that was being held up by a post. Zenitsu took his stance, dragging his left leg behind him and picking up the dirt roughly, as he took his stance and gripped the hilt and shaft of his sword sturdily.
The training from today took a lot out of Zenitsu, and his legs threatened to break under him again as they buckled unsteadily. He couldn't let Gramps down, its been months of this hellish training and he still hasn't made any headway.
He couldn't put all that time Gramps spent on him to go to waste! Kaigaku had learned almost every move of the breath of thunder and he hadn't even accomplished one!
He took a deep breath, the air filling his lungs to its utmost limit. He clenched his teeth as he let out the deoxygenated air and sprinted forward to the lay figure. In just a flash his sword had struck the dummy's bamboo neck and decapitated the mannequin, as he sheathed his sword back.
He stood up straight and flinched when a loud thump echoed in his ears. He opened his eyes again and turned around curiously as he heard something rolling to his heel. When the object touched him he realized it was the decapitated head of the demon they had been running away from earlier.
Zenitsu screamed and jumped away.
“T'S DEAD! ALL OF A SUDDEN, ITS DEAD! WHAT THE HELL? I CAN'T TAKE THIS ANYMORE! WHAT IS THIS? WHAT IS THIS? YUCK!” he hollered as he cried fountains again. What the heck! What was going on? He looked behind the dissipating body of the demon and saw Shoichi. What? Shoichi… had saved him?
“Shoichi… don't tell me” Zenitsu said with recognition and hope. He ran over to the boy and hugged him dearly as he cried “Thank you! You saved my life! I shall be eternally grateful to you for this! You must be an Alpha! If your so strong! Why didn't you tell me sooner that you were so powerful?
“What are you talking about?...”
“Huh, did you say something?” Zenitsu asked him.
“Eh?” Shoichi looked at the teary blond with confusion, did he not know it was his doing that killed that demon? Something was wrong, but he knew he couldn't fix it himself. He shook his head “Uh, no. Forget it”
Shoichi helped lift the distraught male up “Lets go now, okay?”
Zenitsu nodded in agreement “yeah”
Looking out of the room, hand in hand, they stepped out and looked both ways before continuing down one direction. They turned a corner. The sound of that tsuzumi was back and it was getting louder, not to mention it was being played rapidly this time around. There was the sound of another demon close by too, he tried to find Tanjiro by his sound but the sounds of the tsuzumi was drowning out any other noises. They turned another corner and Zenitsu swore they just went down this hallway.
“Where are you Tanjiro?” Zenitsu said worriedly.
That creepy tsuzumi was still playing, and Zenitsu had a bad feeling that Tanjiro might be dealing with the demon that might be making all that ruckus!
Just be safe and sound, Tanjiro!
“Um, Zenitsu, Is it just me, or are we going around and around in circles?” Shoichi said nervously beside him. Zenitsu stopped in his tracks.
“I knew it! I was getting the same feeling!” Zenitsu patted the youngers head affectionately “That's my boy Shoichi! I knew I could count on you!”
Zenitsu looked around and saw a door next to them. He turned to Shoichi and pointed to the door “All right, could you check to see if this room is safe?”
“What the heck? All right, all right, just stop giving me that look! fine i'll do it myself!” Zenitsu stepped over to the door slowly, shaking as he did, and slid the door open a sliver. The room was dark but he could see and hear that it was completely empty.
“There's nobody around” He was grateful, but a bit sad that he didn't find Tanjiro. That sound felt really close right now! “lets go this way”
Zenitsu took Shoichi’s hand again and walked into the room “Tanjiro, please show up” Zenitsu begged.
All of a sudden he felt a weird pull on his body and the room seemed to flip around, he looked down in shock as the door they were walking to was now under their feet “Th-the room… just flipped?!”
They fell through multiple rooms before the brightness of outside made Zenitsu squint, he gasped. Shoichi! A protective feeling came over him as Zenitsu twisted his body in the air and grabbed the kid quickly and pulled him close. He shut his eyes tightly and waited until they hit the ground.
When they did though Zenitsu blacked out once more.
Someone was calling him? Zenitsu opened his eyes and saw the sky again.
“Zenitsu! Thank goodness are you alright?” Shoichi cried, there were tears in his eyes as he looked at him. Zenitsu sat up, his back hurt and he was sprouting a massive headache. His brain felt shooken up too.
“When the room spun around, we got thrown outside… and we fell from the second story window” Shoichi said hesitantly, he looked concerned for some reason.
“Did we now?” Shoichi nodded. Zenitsu smiled at him, he was happy to see that Shoichi was okay.
“You were protecting me, so I'm fine, but…”
“I'm glad to hear that. So, why all the tears?” Zenitsu questioned. He went to scratch his head because it felt itchy but when he felt something wet he pulled his hand back and examined it.
His hand… it was...
“I GET IT NOW! I FELL RIGHT ON MY HEAD, DIDN'T I?”
“Yes” Shoichi replied tearfully.
“Am I gonna… am I gonna die?” Zenitsu’s shouting didn't help as he became lightheaded “ahh, my head is starting to spin”
Out of the blue Zenitsu heard loud footsteps approaching them quickly from inside the house. He didn't hear the tsuzumi anymore, and he could faintly hear the sound of Tanjiro’s heartbeat, as well as three other humans.
“What’s this? What's this? What's this?” Zenitsu freaked as it came closer.
“Comin’ through! Comin’ through!” Without any warning the doors flew open and that monster burst through from earlier.
“AHHH! THERE IT IS AGAIN! THE MONSTER BOAR!” Zenitsu wailed as he held Shoichi close and turned his back to the boar without realizing it, instinctively protecting him.
The beast just cackled as it looked around “I'm getting a demonic vibe”
Suddenly something clicked in Zenitsu’s head “Wait a second! It’s that guy! I could tell by his voice, he's the fifth survivor of Final Selection! The first to rush up the mountain and back down, Mr. Impatient!”
“Ah, found it!”
Zenitsu followed the Alpha’s gaze and his heart jumped when he saw Tanjiro’s box a few feet away. He was talking about the box? Why? Was he planning to do something to it, or the demon inside? Zenitsu could mull over it long as the guy rushed towards the wooden box and Zenitsu sprung into action. He couldn't let the guy mess with it! It was Tanjiro’s! And he said it was important to him!
“Stop!!” He yelled as he stopped in front of the box just in time to make the Alpha skid on the ground to stop himself from colliding with the blond. They guy stepped back looking down at him.
“Who the hell are you? Get out of the way!” The Alpha’s voice commanded his Omega. Every word wanted to make the Omega shrink back in fear but he refused to, this wasn't an Alpha that he had to listen to! Not if it would end up having Tanjiro hurt!
“I'm Zenitsu Agatsuma! I'm with the Demon Slayer Corps like you!”
“Demon Slayer Corps?” The boar leaned down a little, raising his twin jagged swords “Then I shouldn't have to tell you! We gotta get rid of that thing! Now get the hell out of my way!”
“I'm not moving!” Zenitsu yelled back at him. The voice clawed at him to listen to the command but he refused to give into it “This is Tanjiro’s-”
“Don’t argue with me! If that's the case, I'm gonna demolish him and that box together!” He threatened he swung his sword close to Zenitsu's face, but stopped over his shoulder, his figure was intimidating and Zenitsu’s body shook in fear and will to reject the commands
“Inside this box… inside this box is something I'm not letting you touch! Something that's precious to Tanjiro!”
“Hey, come on! What are you talking about? There's a demon inside that box! Don't you get that?”
“I've known from the very start! I knew he was traveling with a demon, because the sounds demons make aren't anything like human sounds. But… I can pick up a sound to gentle and kind from Tanjiro, it makes me want to cry. So kind, I don't think I've heard something like it before”
“Tanjiro, despite being a Demon Slayer, is traveling with a demon. But I'm sure he has a reason for that, and that's a reason i can accept! I believe that! I… I'm going to ask Tanjiro directly myself, so, you can just back off!” The Omega yelled.
Zenitsu couldn't react fast enough to dodge when he was kicked harshly, and kicked to the side. The Alpha paid no mind to him as he prepared to kick the box. Zenitsu jumped at him and pulled him down, getting hit on the back as the boar shoved him away “Get off me dammit! Your so annoying!”
The male got up and faced the box again but as he made a step towards it, he lost balance and fell when Zenitsu grabbed his ankle, stopping him once more “You're not laying a finger on that box!”
The guy kicked him again leaving a bruise over his left eye as he tried to get Zenitsu to let go of him, but he didn't move.
Instead he grabbed him with both hands and flung him away as far as he could, using the breathing technique he learned “That's something important to Tanjiro! You're not touching it until he comes back!” Zenitsu yelled as he pulled the box close to his chest to shield it.
“Damn you…” The male growled as he shook his head, that's twice he's been thrown around like a doll today! He got up quickly and kicked Zenitsu again and again. Zenitsu felt blood dripping from his mouth and nose when the Alpha ceased his assault for the time being, he heard the sound of a sword near his body and he flinched at it. He didn't need to see it to know how close.
“Move!” he demanded.
“I won't!” Zenitsu shouted as he ducked his face to try and protect it. The Alpha growled, he didn't understand why the punk didn't get up and fight, he could feel power emanating from his body but he refused to attack him! It was irritating.
“Take this! Move it! Draw your sword and fight me you spineless punk!” The boar kicked him a couple times before taking a fighting stance and waited for Zenitsu to make some sort of move. When Zenitsu heard the familiar tune in his ears sing again he looked up with hopeful eyes, and his heart leaped for joy when he finally saw Tanjiro after their forced split up.
“Tanjiro… I protected it. Because you said… this was more important than your own life” Zenitsu said weakly, everything hurts right now “The thing is...”
“After all that bluster, you still won't draw your sword dumbass?! If you're a fellow demon slayer then let's see you fight! If your not gonna fight get the hell outta my way!” The boar continued kicking him repeatedly “If you don’t move, I'll just have to skewer you along with that box!” He raised one of his swords and prepared to stab Zenitsu.
“KNOCK IT OFF!” Tanjiro yelled after his shock withered away. Zenitsu jumped at his words, he was shocked at his voice, full of anger “Knock it off!”
Tanjiro curled his hand into a fist and aimed straight for the Alpha as he sprinted forward with all the strength he could muster, taking in a controlled breath, his blow struck the boar. A cracking sound echoed and he was thrown back several feet.
"AHH! HE BROKE HIS BONES!" Zenitsu yelped as the sickening noise struck his ears. Zenitsu saw Tanjiro step in front of him and take a defiant stance, his stomach fluttered and turned at the sight, and he held the box closer as he eyed the Alpha on the ground. Zenitsu’s Omega side couldn't help but swoon over the fact that an Alpha like Tanjiro was protecting him like this.
Tanjiro clenched his fist tighter in anger, he hasn't felt like his since he found Muzan in that city and threatened to kill him when they met again. Zenitsu had looked so beaten up and injured. It pained him to see the blond in so much agony because of him. He had protected Nezuko, and in turn got hurt for it because of his mistake of leaving her all alone. It was his fault that Zenitsu got hurt. He furrowed his brows as he glared at the other Alpha.
"Aren't you a member of the Demon Slayer Corps? Don't you get why Zenitsu refuses to draw his sword?”
“Its because it’s taboo for us to draw our swords on each other for no reason! But here you are, giving him a one sided beatdown! Is that fun for you?" Tanjiro trembled as he tried containing his rage, he loathed people that picked on the weaker and timid “You're the lowest of the low!” Tanjiro growled, venom laced in hostile words.
Zenitsu shrunk back at hearing Tanjiro like this. He couldn't imagine someone so kind hearted become so full of hate and hostility towards another. He guessed he was wrong about Tanjiro not being able to defend himself against others if he needed.
The boar chuckled on the ground in front of them “Oh, so that's why? My bad, in that case let's fight barehanded!”
Tanjiro couldn't believe his ears.
“No! I don't think you understand at all! First-”
The Alpha got up quickly using the momentum in his legs to stand back up and rushed Tanjiro.
“Were not supposed to fight each other period!” He said desperately to make the other understand as the Alpha ran at him. He put up an arm to make him stop his charge but the boar ignored it as he continued, he backed away a bit. “Fighting barehanded doesn't make it alright!”
Tanjiro instinctively went to grab his sword but discarded the idea. He couldn't use a weapon like that against the guy. He dogged a kick, and a few punches that flew his way “Listen to me!”
Tanjiro pleaded to get the other to stop attacking. Suddenly the Alpha grabbed his shoulders, and lifted himself off the ground spinning on him as he tried to force Tanjiro down with a type of head lock.
The boar let him go and threw him, almost enough to knock him off his feet, and he launched another kick to Tanjiro’s face, it was a close call too, Tanjiro could practically feel the Alpha’s sandals graze his chin.
Zenitsu looked at the two Alpha's fighting in disbelief as Shoichi ran over with tears, he asked him if he was alright and apologized for not trying to help out in some way.
Look at him! How can he move like that? I mean he heard it clearly no doubt, Tanjiro busted up some of his ribs…
Tanjiro dodged again as the Alpha shot towards him with great speed, he launched himself from the ground with just his bare hands, throwing a kick at his legs, he tripped him and swung another kick at Tanjiro's side sending him back a little.
Tanjiro tried retaliating by swinging his own kick at Inosuke, but the boar just leaned back dodging it, and came back up like it was nothing for him, in his surprise Tanjiro couldn't block the punch that made contact with him.
"Actually, isn't Tanjiro running afoul of the taboo himself?" Zenitsu questioned Shoichi as the boy took out a handkerchief from his pocket. He lightly cleaned Zenitsu cheeks that were stained with blood "He did break his bones after all"
The boar grabbed Tanjiro with that headlock he had been trying to do earlier and his time be successfully threw Tanjiro down, and his back hit the hard dirt. He didn't waste time though and got up hitting the Alpha's masked covered chin on his way up.
Next thing he knew the guy went down and tried tripping Tanjiro, swiping his feet to make him lose balance again. Tanjiro backed away and the other Alpha followed giving him, with no time to counter properly he head butted straight into Tanjiro, he was fast enough to block with his arms though, crossing them in a cross like shape.
Tanjiro gritted his teeth painfully he was definitely going to have bruises there later, and his ribs ached, demanding him to stop and rest, but adrenaline kept it to a minimum, bearable enough to continue fighting.
More kicks and punches were thrown each other's way, and Tanjiro struggled to keep up now, as he noticed something was off.
T-this guy, his attacks are bizarrely low! It's just like, just like, battling a four legged beast! This guy was really skilled he had to admit, he'd never seen a fighting style like this, he barely had time to react to each new attack. He dodged another kick and leaned down low too.
Target him low, even lower than him!
He braced his weight on his left arm and brought his right leg over to kick the boars side but was shocked when he missed. The guy did a split to dodge him!
He tried pushing himself back when he saw the Alpha's foot swing around from the back, but he couldn't move away as it smacked him face first into the ground. His nose felt like it was burning as it leaked out blood.
The flexibility of his joints, its superhuman! He felt the weight on his head lift and the guy did a few backflips to create some space between them.
"Pretty amazing, aren't I? Pretty amazing, aren't I!" He sung, flaunting his skills at Tanjiro.
Zenitsu scowled, He said it twice! Singing his own praises...
Zenitsu wiped the blood off his nose and mouth before pinching the bridge of his nose to stop the bleeding. He breathed through his mouth as he did this.
He was obviously trying to compete against Tanjiro, to see who would end up being the winner, at least that's what Zenitsu thought.
He huffed in fake amusement.
"And look what else I can do!" He hollered again, he leaned back drastically as his spine bent unnaturally and he put his head under his legs, while doing this, he was laughing his heart away which Zenitsu can only assume was smugness at his special talent.
Could this guy get anymore insane!? Zenitsu screeched at the sight. No human could do that! Especially with broken ribs! Was he possessed?!
"Cut it out! Don't do stuff like that when you've got broken bones! It's gonna get worse!" Tanjiro scolded him.
"Worse?" The Alpha huffed at him in reply as he charged Tanjiro once more "Fine by me! Nothing can top the pleasure of this moment!"
He went for more punches and Tanjiro dodged.
"You need to think hard about the future!" Tanjiro yelled, he would continue hurting himself just for a fight? That made no sense! Surely the guy was hurting right? Tanjiro did his best to block the hits coming his way.
"Why should I care!" The Alpha shouted back, getting a kick straight to Tanjiro's gut. Tanjiro felt his breath knocked out of his lungs. He hit him right where his ribs were and he felt like keeling over.
"You need to..."
But determined to stop the guy, he forced himself to ignore the pain and to grab the Alpha by the shoulders, and lifted his head, preparing to headbutt him.
"Calm down!" Tanjiro yelled as he hit the other's forehead with great force. Tanjiro heard a scream and recognized it as Zenitsu's panicked voice.
"THAT SOUND! ARE YOUR SKULLS FRACTURED?!"
The boar stumbled back clumsily as he forced himself to steady his body. The boar mask couldn't hold itself in place as he looked own and it slipped over his head to the ground.
Zenitsu looked up in surprise when he saw the mask fall, and so did Tanjiro.
"HUH? A GIRL? WHAT? YOUR FACE!" Zenitsu looked at the Alpha with shock. No way!
"What the hell? You've got a problem with my face or something?" The wild boar asked, not paying any mind to the blond on the ground directing his eyes to Tanjiro's dark velvet ones.
"You're one creepy guy, you know that?" Zenitsu spoke as he looked over the Alpha, he's never seen such a thing before! He expected a mean looking Alpha, maybe even with some scars littering his face, not some weird pretty boy! "You have such a ripped body, but there's a girl's face sitting on top of it"
"Why the hell are you staring at my face like that?" The Alpha said demandingly, but Zenitsu could hear the insecurity in it. It didn't make the blond any less scared though when the Alpha glared at him.
"I-I'm not!" Zenitsu yelped as he ran to the kids, shivering as he hid behind Teruko "I'm not looking at your face!" He denied, hiding his face.
"We don't have a problem with it, your face is quite petite, fair skinned, and therefore attractive!" Tanjiro complimented.
"Your a corpse! Come at me!" The Alpha growled.
"Not happening! I'm not gonna attack you anymore!" Tanjiro said as he grounded himself.
"Try headbutting me one more time!"
"Nope, I'm done!"
"I said do it! come on!"
"Sit yourself down" Tanjiro said "Are you okay?"
"Hey, big forehead! Let me tell you my name, it's Inosuke Hashibira! And don't you forget it!" Tanjiro looked at him determinedly, he's never heard that type of name before.
"What characters do you use to spell that?" He asked, genuinely curious. Inosuke looked at him with shock.
"S-spell?… I don't know how to read or write! That name is written on my loincloth-" he stopped as he pointed to himself and he stood there for a good few seconds.
"What's wrong?" Zenitsu murmured to no one in particular.
"He froze…" Shoichi stated.
Everyone looked at Inosuke with confusion.
"What's the matter?" Tanjiro asked. Inosuke stood there for a moment before he leaned back and fell.
"Ahh! He collapsed! Is, is he dead?" Zenitsu looked passed Teruko's hair as he looks at Tanjiro, who looked slightly concerned for Inosuke. He was still breathing.
"He's not dead, it's probably a concussion, because I headbutted the hell out of him. It just took a while to catch up i guess" Tanjiro answered. Teruko walked up to him and Tanjiro saw she looked worried.
"Are you okay, Tanjiro?" She asked sweetly.
"Yeah" he nodded at her, her eyes brightened as she smiled at him.
"Amazing!" She praised as he lifted her hand "Can I touch your head?"
Tanjiro bent his knees a little to get down to her height, "Sure!"
Zenitsu sat there, gob smacked when he saw Tanjiro's head. That's scary, not a drop of blood from his forehead. How hard is it anyway? He shook, glad he was on Tanjiro's good side and not the other's. Well, the wild boars passed out at least. He'd be happy if it stayed that way.
"Tanjiro, your head is so hard!" Teruko laughed, as she knocked on his head a few times after poking it to test out how hard it was. Tanjiro chuckled as well "You think so?"
She nodded eagerly and smiled a big smile. Shoichi and Kiyoshi looked on with wonder. Tanjiro turned his attention back to Inosuke and walked towards him, kneeling beside him. He removes his black and forest green checkered kimono and folds it neatly on his leg before he lifts Inosuke's head with care and placed the clothing under his head.
Zenitsu tilted his head, that tune he had memorized by now had made its appearance during the middle of the Alpha's fight, but he didn't understand why it did so quickly. I mean, Tanjiro was basically seething at Inosuke in the beginning.
He felt dizzy with all this happening at once and placed a hand on his forehead. Today was so exhausting. He sighed heavily, stumbling slightly as he stood up, he must've lost a lot of blood. He tracked over to Tanjiro's side and sat down by him. Tanjiro was currently wiping the blood on Inosuke's forehead.
He stopped to look at Zenitsu.
Zenitsu had tried to disregard the sound he heard nearing the end of their fight. It was another sound of bone cracking when Inosuke hit his stomach and Zenitsu had remembered it was probably Tanjiro's ribs he mentioned weren't healed when they went into the house.
If he wasn't so cowardly he probably could have fought Inosuke instead of having Tanjiro injure himself more, just because he was too weak to do anything. He gripped the pants of his uniform under his hands.
"Here" Zenitsu said as he took off his kimono and laid it over Inosuke's form.
He would help Tanjiro with whatever it was he needed right now. It seams helping his crazy boar guy was first on the list.
Tanjiro smiled softly at him as his earrings jiggled as he moved "Thank you Zenitsu" he sounded thankful to normal people, but Zenitsu could hear sadness and disappointment behind them.
Zenitsu's eyes widened. What? For what? Did he do something make the Alpha upset? Or was it something else? He didn't get an answer as Tanjiro finished cleaning off as much as he could off the passed out boar before getting up. Zenitsu saw Shoichi approach them as he held two swords.
"He left this over there" Shoichi said as he placed them down next to Inosuke neatly. Tanjiro thanked him for picking them up.
Zenitsu felt a chill pass through him. Those swords were a nightmare of fiction! How the hell did those things not break or something, they looked so brittle and scary.
Those things had been so close to lopping off his own head.
Tanjiro looked at Zenitsu as he eyed the swords, fear and distress plagued him again. He placed a hand on Zenitsu back and rubbed soothingly again. Zenitsu just sat there, enjoying the safety his scent gave off. When he pulled away Zenitsu was disappointed at the loss.
"Come on Zenitsu, we have to go find the body's of the people who died and bury them" Zenitsu jumped as Tanjiro gestured to the mansion again.
"W-what you want me to go back into that hell maze again!?" Alright, Zenitsu admits he promised to help Tanjiro with whatever he needed help with but come on! Can't he just stay here! He nearly died multiple times today and he didn't want another near death experience anytime soon to add to his book!
"NO! NO! NO! YOU WANT ME TO GO IN THERE? WHAT IF WE GET SEPARATED AGAIN? THAT HOUSE IS CURSED I TELL YOU! CURSED!"
"Zenitsu..." Tanjiro groaned tiredly.
If you were wondering why I didn't put Tanjiro's POV throughout the story last chapter it's because it wouldn't be much different and honestly I would have been bored writing it, so I'm sure it would be just as boring to read. Thank you guys so much for the feedback and inspiration! it really means a lot and fuels me to continue writing so much, so thank you! <3<3<3
also sorry for the random updates!
After some encouraging words and Tanjiro insisting that he would be okay, Zenitsu had finally agreed to go back into the mansion, on the condition that Shoichi came along. Of course Zenitsu had no doubt that Tanjiro could protect him if it came down to it, especially after that display earlier, but he'd still feel better if Shoichi went with them.
Unfortunately to Zenitsu's luck, Shoichi didn't agree with it. Leaving Zenitsu a sniveling mess behind Tanjiro as they walked through the mansion, lead by that fancy nose of his. He clutched the back of Tanjiro's checkered haori as they walked down a corridor.
Shoichi, Teruko, and Kiyoshi stayed outside to help by digging graves for the victims that remained in the house. They had buried the Beta from earlier that fell from the second story and they were patting dirt on the grave.
Tanjiro had told them beforehand that they didn't have to force themselves to help out if they were tired and to rest whenever they needed. He especially told Kiyoshi not to push himself but the boy insisted on helping out as much as he could.
Zenitsu glanced around his surroundings when they entered a room. It was lit by lamps on the ceiling and to the right there seemed to be an open doorway to a kitchen. The grip on the fabric in his hands tightened when the smell of copper hit him.
When he looked over Tanjiro's shoulder he spotted two people on the ground, blood covering everything around the bodies. Zenitsu guessed they must have been there for a few hours at best, for it to smell this way. Tanjiro walked over.
He followed holding the haori in his hand. Zenitsu couldn't see Tanjiro's face but he sounded sad, guilty, and upset. Zenitsu let go once they were next to the two bodies.
"Zenitsu do you think you can pick up the other person while I carry him?" Tanjiro asked as he kneeled down next to them. Zenitsu nodded and went around the Alpha to the other corpse. He wrapped an arm under her legs and back, gently picking her up.
When they both left the room behind Tanjiro spoke to him again. "I know you were scared Zenitsu, but thank you for coming"
Zenitsu looked over and nodded his head. He felt bad for how he acted earlier, he just got terrified at the thought of going back into that house of horrors. Feeling somber, Zenitsu's head hung low. Tanjiro didn't need that.
Zenitsu grabbed a large rock and walked over to where Tanjiro and the kids were. He sighed as he carried the heavy thing. They had buried the two people and were helping out the kids, Kiyoshi had gotten a bit tired so they compensated for it by having Zenitsu, Shoichi and Teruko get the rocks this time around.
All of a sudden a loud yell rang out that made Zenitsu jump out of his skin with a yelp. When he turned around he saw Inosuke yelling and then broke into a run after him.
"AHHH! HE'S AWAKE!" Zenitsu immediately dropped the rock and ran.
DOES HE ALWAYS WAKE UP ANGRY? I HATE THAT MORE THAN ANYTHING!
"FIGHT ME! FIGHT ME! HEY YOU-"
Zenitsu ran behind Tanjiro, gripping the Demon Slayer Corps. Uniform. Tanjiro wince at the action as his body was turned to shield Zenitsu.
When Tanjiro looked up to see a confused Inosuke looking at the graves and back to them Inosuke pointed at them accusingly.
"What the hell are you guys doing?!" He questioned them.
"It's a burial" Tanjiro answered.
"You help out too Inosuke" Tanjiro pointed to the current deserted house. "There are still people who were killed inside the house"
"What's the point of burying the corpse of creatures? I'm not doing that! I'm not helping! Forget that! Fight me!"
Zenitsu furrowed his brows.
Man, he really is a loon, what does he mean what's the point?
"I see…" Zenitsu lifted his head a little from the Alpha's shoulder when he spoke. "You can't do it because your wounds are hurting you"
Zenitsu looked at Tanjiro in disbelief. And Inosuke had looked even more upset, a vein visible on his forehead from where Zenitsu stood.
These two are beyond help! There are both crazy!
Zenitsu heard caring and thoughtfulness in Tanjiro's words. Zenitsu was shocked. Not only had he never met an Alpha or heck even another person so nice, but Tanjiro hadn't shown any anger or annoyance at Inosuke, he only sounded, bad for him. Weren't Alpha's like, super territorial when another Alpha wants to challenge them?
I mean he's seen it before. He saw two Alpha's one day in the street fighting over a girl. When the aggressor has said those two words "fight me" it was almost like a trigger button and the two were battling it out on the ground until the police came.
It was almost scary how easy it was to set off an Alpha like that, but...
"No that's okay! Afterall, we all have a different pain tolerance. Moving everyone who died outside the house, then burying them with dirt takes a lot of work" Tanjiro said as he moved his arms and hands in gestures.
"Zenitsu and these kids and I will do our best, so don't worry!"
"You should get some rest Inosuke. Sorry to ask so much of you!"
Inosuke grinded his teeth in anger and Zenitsu flinched when Inosuke blew up again saying he would bury two hundred more corpses then Tanjiro and everyone else. It was an obvious display of a challenge that even a five year old could tell.
Yet all Tanjiro did was give a simple smile "oh, so you do want to help!"
Lord help him, he's tagging along with the most mentally impaired Alpha in the world and a crazy savage one to boot.
The sun was setting behind the trees, the blue hues of the sky turning into bright oranges and pinks through the trees, as the wind blew through them.
Zenitsu, Tanjiro and the kids were giving prayers to the ones they buried. Zenitsu blocked out the noises of Inosuke headbutting every tree in their vicinity, getting annoyed by them.
"What is that person doing?" Teruko asked.
"I think it's best not to look" her older brother replied his eyes closed while trying to concentrate on giving his prayers.
"Yeah…" Shoichi agreed.
The guy had a concussion or even a fracture on his skull, how the hell could he keep hitting it? Zenitsu was sure he was crazier than any person he's met so far.
Zenitsu jumped when he heard the voice and wing beats of the freaky talking crow.
"Descend the mountain! Descend the mountain! Caw!"
"That crow is talking!"
"Just, don't think anymore" Kiyoshi said.
Teruko nodded. "Okay…"
The crow began to circle them in the air as he continued to speak.
"Alright then, follow me! Follow yours truly! Caw! Caw!"
"Alright, let's head down" Tanjiro said to the three kids as he lifted the box on his back. He gave them a comforting smile and they nodded their heads, when they started heading onto the dirt path through the forest, Inosuke stopped them in their tracks.
"Oi! Where are you going?"
Obviously where leaving, Zenitsu grumbles in his head.
"Where descending the mountain" Tanjiro said.
"Where not done with our battle yet!"
"Your tired aren't you? Come on, where heading down"
"HAA?! I'm not tired!" Inosuke got into a running stance and sprinted "Fight me!"
"AHH!" Zenitsu cried as he used Tanjiro as a human shield again "Stay away!"
The three kids glanced at him.
"Fight me!" Inosuke said when he reached them.
"Nope" Tanjiro answered as he continued walking down the pathway.
"Come on! I'm ready this time! You won't knock me out now!"
Tanjiro shook his head.
"I said I wouldn't fight you anymore and that's that. Those are the Corps rules."
Inosuke grumbles and runs ahead of them to bang his head against another tree.
Zenitsu sighed and puffed his cheeks out in annoyance. What's up with this guy? He removed himself from behind Tanjiro. Glancing next to him, he sees Tanjiro smiling.
"What's that look for?" Zenitsu pouted.
Tanjiro shook his head "You just remind me of one of my siblings"
He sounded fond as he looked up to the sky, probably lost in some memories.
Oh? Zenitsu never thought Tanjiro could have siblings, but now that he thought about it, he did give off a big brother vibe when he interacted with the kids.
The sun was getting closer and closer to setting and it was getting close to being dark.
When an Intersection of the road came up Kiyoshi was the first to pipe up about it.
"We can head home from here Tanjiro-san" Kiyoshi said as Shoichi and Teruko stood on either side of him.
Tanjiro turned around to face them "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, we-" Shoichi began.
"No way! You can't leave me Shoichi-kun! You have to stay!" Zenitsu cried as he drapes himself on the younger kid with tears.
Shoichi tries to pull away from Zenitsu's hold but he wouldn't budge.
"Zenitsu! Let go! I don't want to!"
"I won't have it! I won't have it! You can't go Shoichi-kun!" Zenitsu yelled as he shook the young boy. Kiyoshi and Teruko looked on worriedly at their brother unsure of what to do.
"Your powerful, Shoichi-kun! Shoichi is the one that's gonna protect me!" And he's one of the only people in this crazy group that's sane!
Tanjiro grabbed the back of Zenitsu's two toned haori, trying to tug the blond off of Shoichi, but he still persisted on keeping his grip on the boy.
"Can't you see Shoichi doesn't want to stay?" Tanjiro tried to reason.
"Please don't leave me behind!" Zenitsu begged ignoring Tanjiro.
"You stop that right now!" Tanjiro said suddenly with a hint of annoyance and authority. Before Zenitsu could react though his vision blackouts for the second time today.
Tanjiro said his goodbyes to the kids after his crow gave Kiyoshi some Wisteria to keep the demons at bay.
Looking down, Tanjiro saw the blond still knocked unconscious and drool had escaped his mouth. He sighed and slipped off Nezuko's box to place it in front.
He struggled to pick up Zenitsu's limp body to carry on his back, his ribs yelling at him to rest as soon as possible. But he pushed through the pain and continued following the crow with Inosuke not far behind.
At some point Inosuke had approached Tanjiro on their walk down.
"Fight me checkered haori!"
"No Inosuke. We can't fight each other it's the Corps. Rules"
"Forget that! Fight me! I swear I'm gonna find a weak point and bring you down loser!"
"My names not "loser!" Its Tanjiro Kamado!"
"Kamaboko Gonpachiro! I'm gonna bring you down!" Inosuke stated as he did weird gestures with his arms in a sort of flexing way.
"Who are you talking about?"
"That would be you!" Inosuke shouted.
"No, it's someone else!" Tanjiro yelled back.
"AHH CAN YOU TALK ANY LOUDER!?!" Zenitsu screamed behind Tanjiro.
"Is that a challenge yellow hair!" Inosuke says with goad. Zenitsu just gives him this look of "Are you serious right now?".
Annoyed with not getting either of the Demon Slayers to fight him, Inosuke carried on with his "I'll get my head stronger than yours" workout.
Zenitsu's eye twitches at the sight. Maybe this was all just a weird fever dream.
"Sorry Zenitsu, for waking you!" Tanjiro said, his voice genuine with apology.
Zenitsu just huffs his displeasure with having been disturbed, he hadn't gotten much sleep lately and he was really comfortable when he was sleeping around Tanjiro's scent, that is until he was rudely awakened.
He lays his head back on Tanjiro’s shoulder taking in his cinnamon and cherry wood smell. He took a deep breath, letting it all go as he relaxed again. He closed his eyes and concentrating his hearing to listening to the sounds that surrounded him.
He listened to the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves of the trees, birds chirping their last songs before dark, the crickets coming out to play their nightly routine along with the cicadas. He could hear the distant sound of water rushing down a nearby creek, the splashes from fish, and the croaks of frogs.
He faintly heard the hoots of an owl, the footsteps of Tanjiro, and Inosuke's headbutting as the trees shook from the force, breathing, a small yawn beside him and the pitter-patter of Tanjiro's heart and the jingle of his hanafuda earrings as he walked. And soon his hearing singled out the sound he heard when they first met. That boundless kindness that he will most likely never find anywhere else.
He felt warmth from his neck and he enjoyed it as the coming of night began to chill the air. So lost in his mind as he was borderline between being conscious and unconscious and practically drunk off of Tanjiro's scent growing stronger by the second, he would've missed what Tanjiro said if it wasn't for his good hearing.
"What are you doing?" Inosuke's voice inquired.
Hmm? What was what? Was Tanjiro doing something? Zenitsu couldn't really figure it out through his sleepy haze but it didn't matter to him right now. He was happy and content at the moment.
He wouldn't let Inosuke's stupidity ruin it for him.
"Oh, have you not scented before Inosuke?" Tanjiro asked curiously.
"Scenting? Your just rubbing necks!" Inosuke shouted.
Zenitsu's eyes shot open when he heard Inosuke say that. He felt like reality had crashed down on him the second he opened his eyes, and it felt like a log smacked into his face like that one time when he was under that hellish training from Gramps.
Zenitsu blushed when he realized what that warmth was from earlier and realized why Tanjiro's scent got so overwhelmingly strong, and Zenitsu shrieked, jerking his head away so fast that he had made gravity favor his. He felt around quickly to try and grab Tanjiro or anything so he wouldn't fall but it was already too late and he fell backwards with a hard thud.
"Oww..." Zenitsu coughed painfully, his ribs aching for some reason. That fall made it feel worse.
"Zenitsu!" Tanjiro turned around swiftly to see if Zenitsu was okay.
Tanjiro had tried to catch Zenitsu before he fell but he couldn't react in time with how unexpected it was.
When Zenitsu opened his eyes to see the Alpha hovering over him he screeched and shoved his hand in Tanjiro's face who only looked confused at Zenitsu's actions.
"You idiot! You dumb dumb idiot! Why did you do that! You can't just scent me like that!" The blond yelled as he used his other hand that wasn't in Tanjiro's face to wrap around the swollen gland on his neck.
"But Zenitsu, you liked having my scent around earlier what's wrong with it now?" Tanjiro had sounded disheartened but Zenitsu's antics overlooked it as he panicked again.
"WHAT'S WRONG?!- WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHAT'S WRONG!?!! YOU DON'T JUST SCENT PEOPLE WITH YOUR NECK GLANDS THAT'S SO INTIMATE! AND EMBARRASSING!"
"But, I do that all the time with my family, and it's easier doing it that way then with our wrists since it's stronger" Tanjiro explained.
Zenitsu looked at him like he was crazy as he hiked his knees up to wrap his arms around. Was he just as dumb and oblivious as Inosuke? Did that mean he wasn't culturally educated like Inosuke? Surely he would have known of something so basic.
Well, he did calm down rather quickly but he knew it was the work of Tanjiro's scenting. He sighed heavily. What did he get himself into?
At least he had something to ground himself. He blushed as he rubbed his red gland, looking up to see Tanjiro's was the same.
"Are you two just gonna sit there all night?!" Inosuke hollered at them from the distance.
Sorry this Update is so late I didn't mean to drag it so long I just got busy and school started and I had no idea how I wanted to progress it so ehhh- here ya go! hope you enjoyed the chapter! it was really fun to write and I'm excited to do the next part when Tanjiro finds out Zenitsu's a Omega and not a Beta.