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in the woods with you

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 Zenitsu didn’t know how he found himself under a wolf, but here he was, under a wolf. 

It wasn’t just any wolf too, clearly this was one of those genetically engineered ones because it was huge . Almost twice the size of his poor body, that was about to get mauled to death by it. Probably. He didn’t know who would genetically engineer a wolf in the first place, but he lives in a world fully capable of doing it, so why not.

The wolf above him stares with it’s beady eyes, and Zenitsu can almost make out the violet hue in them.

Violet? Zenitsu muses, living beings can have those colors? Either way, he’s not about to ask questions about it. “Hello.” He decides to greet as politely as possible, unsure if he’s even being understood. “Good evening.”

The wolf doesn’t budge, it’s still pinning him down with its front paws on either side of his head. It doesn’t sound hostile, though, which eases his anxiety a little bit.

Still, with the moon shining with all of its round glory in the sky, he feels like he’s about to die like one of those guys in the opening of horror movies.

“Please get off me?” Zenitsu tries, hoping it would lay off with gentle persuasion.

It doesn’t, instead he hears more rustling coming from the nearby bushes, and more sounds of wolves trotting about. 

Oh no. Zenitsu’s fucked.

He turns his head and finds an equally gigantic, or even more gigantic, wolf approaching him. Its sounds are more subdued, however, than the wolf on top of him, sounding much like a benevolent father. There’s a ruckus behind the larger wolf, a bunch of pups playing around with each other.

A sudden sniff to his hair has him turning to his right, only to find two more wolves dangerously close to him. One sounds curious and the other, who’s invading his private space, sounds genuinely worried.

Worried about what?! He’s the one getting turned into dinner here!! Zenitsu moves away from it, scared.

The wolf from above decides to finally move away, and Zenitsu takes the opportunity of freedom fast. He sits up and drags himself far away, at least as far as he can get before he bumps into a tree behind him.

He’s got some major bad luck today if it got him to stumble upon a whole pack of wolves. From where Zenitsu’s sitting, he can make out a vague conversation happening between them. Or was he just too high on adrenaline and now he’s imagining things? Either way, the attention was on him, whether he liked it or not.

Before one of the wolves can approach him again, the one who sniffed his hair earlier, he hears a howl in the distance.

The wolves all simultaneously look back, ears and hackles raised. Zenitsu does the same, flinching to attention.

Oh no, oh fuck.

They all seem to be frozen for a moment, he doesn’t know what they’re waiting for, but Zenitsu’s not about to risk his life walking around the woods alone with these animals roaming around.

Then something snaps in the bushes, and everything turns to chaos.

The largest of the wolves gets mauled by a rogue wolf that jumps out of nowhere, the wolf that’s pinned him down earlier snarls and attacks the assailant. The two smaller wolves take care of the others that have begun to emerge from the bushes while--

Zenitsu feels balls of fur pool near his thighs, and he’s surprised to find the cubs snuggled to him, with the larger of the four attempting to help its siblings with the fight. They’re shivering and the blonde can’t help but hold them close, feeling an urge to protect.

Was he in the middle of a turf war?! With wolves?!

There’s rustling from behind him and he startles, shit.

Sure enough a wolf jumps out with the intent to kill him, and Zenitsu wrangles up the pups in his arms in an attempt to shield them, but one jumps out.

And gets itself bitten on the leg.

It yelps in pain and Zenitsu’s quick to pick up a stone and mash it into the attacker’s nose. It howls and stumbles back, distracted by the attack. He has the time to pick up the wounded pup and escape further into the woods.

He didn’t know if this would count as kidnapping, but better to take the kids somewhere without any danger. And wolves have a good sense of smell, they’ll surely be found sooner or later.

When Zenitsu can no longer hear the ruckus he’s left behind, he ducks behind a tree and lays the pups there. There’s all three of them, and luckily it’s one of the older looking ones that got hurt, not the small baby. 

He doesn’t know any first aid for animals, let alone wolves, but he does remember needing to wash and cover wounds in general. So he reaches into his bag for a bottle of water he’d always forget to drink, and his kerchief.

The pups watch him carefully with wide eyes, nudging their sibling as it whines in pain. Zenitsu coos apologies to it as he washes the wound, trying not to get bitten in the process as it thrashes around. The other pups whine to it, trying to calm it down.

Since when did he turn into a vet? Zenitsu thinks to himself as he finally ties a kerchief to the wound, hoping it would stop the bleeding. He has some alcohol with him, but he didn’t know if it was toxic to animals, so he didn’t bother using it. He can only hope what he was doing helped.

The pup sniffs at his kerchief and looks up at him, Zenitsu snorts. “That’s my favorite. Take care of it.”

As if the little wolf can understand him, it gives him a small and fragile yip. Zenitsu tries not to melt at the cute sound.

He decides to stay there for a while, waiting in the dark until he was sure everything was okay. Zenitsu had no idea how long territorial disputes lasted with animals, but he can assume giving them five to ten minutes is enough time. 

Sure enough, there’s a bunch of growling and huffing wolves that run past them. It’s the rogues, Zenitsu notes with some slight fear, but the relief comes when he sees they’re not paying them any attention.

It’s the largest wolf from earlier that comes trotting behind them slowly, sounding triumphant. Zenitsu flinches when it stares in his direction, but the children bound up to it with no hesitation, one even tugging Zenitsu’s pants to come forward. With no choice, he gathers the wounded pup in his arms and follows.

He feels like some sort of servant when he kneels in front of their pack alpha, trying not to tremble when it bumps noses with the baby in his arms. The wolf that pinned him earlier rushes to his side, picking up the pup from his arms and licking it all over. He supposes that’s the mother, from the way it’s purring and cooing at the baby. 

The other wolves gather around the child and Zenitsu feels like he can finally escape, but before he can, the mother wolf turns to him and locks gazes with him.

Zenitsu stiffens, great, what now?!

He doesn’t expect the nuzzle he gets on the cheek, but it’s slightly welcome. It feels nice, just like rubbing his face on his favorite blanket after waking up, but he still can’t help the lingering fear that he might just be devoured right then and there.

It pulls back with a satisfied huff and Zenitsu sinks back in relief. Alright, not getting eaten alive today.

But he really needs to go, as fun as that adventure was, his grandpa was about to arrange a search party for him if he doesn’t leave.

“Um.” He starts, gaining all of their attention again. “I’ll be going now.”

He gets numerous barks and yips in reply. It’s amusing to think they can understand him.

When he gets up and bows he finds that one wolf, the one who had invaded his space earlier, is following him.

“Hey!” Zenitsu tries to shake it off by upping his speed, it just picks up its pace too. “Go back, what are you following me for?!”

It replies with a huff, sounding irritated.

“I know where to--” And that’s where Zenitsu cuts himself off, because he’d just forgotten that he fled deeper into the woods and had no idea where the right path was. He shuts up and slows his pace, the wolf senses his defeat and happily leads the way with a wagging tail.

When they reach a familiar clearing, Zenitsu sighs in relief. Maybe he should trust stray wolves more often, they seem to know what they’re doing compared to him.

He steps out into the moonlight, away from the shadows of the trees. The wolf stays behind him, in the shadows, and Zenitsu can respect that. Poor guy probably doesn’t want to be seen by any people who’d want to exterminate him in a heartbeat.

Zenitsu clears his throat, “Thanks.”

The wolf huffs, tail wagging increasing in speed. Well at least it can understand his gratitude. He thinks.

Still, Zenitsu feels the need to thank it in it’s own language, so he crouches down and squishes his cheeks with it, throwing caution to the wind. It freezes for a moment, and Zenitsu can smell the alarm on it,  but it happily nuzzles back after enough deliberation.

Their moment is stopped by a howl in the distance, and Zenitsu watches in amusement as the wolf’s ears perk into attention. It gives him one last press to the cheek before scurrying back into the forest, hidden behind the shadows on the trees.

Zenitsu just kind of sits there and mulls over the events that have happened, before standing up and heading back home.


 

“Zenitsu?” Murata asks the next day, peering from below in an attempt to see his face. Zenitsu doesn't let him, curling in himself more on the desk. “You don’t look so well.”

Aoi frowns at the mention of the blonde’s current health. “Did you get any sleep?” She follows up, looming over him, very ready to nag him like a mother again.

Zenitsu lets them fuss around him, heaving a deep sigh. “No.”

“Why?” This time it’s Genya.

“Just,” He runs a hand down his face, not wanting to relive the events from the night before. It was already weird enough, he doesn’t want to think about it twice. “Got caught up in some weird gang fight.”

Behind him, he hears Tanjirou cough.


 

“Zenitsu!!” Tanjirou hollers from behind when he’s on his way out the school gates. “Want to come visit our bakery today?”

That’s an odd suggestion, Zenitsu thinks. He’s never really been there invited, he usually just pass by to look longingly at Nezuko. He humors Tanjirou anyway. “Why? Are you going to give me something for free?”

“Yeah!” He doesn’t expect the eager nod and even more eager grin, Zenitsu frets.

“Wait, I was joking Tanjirou--


 

In the end, he does end up in front of the Kamado bakery, with an excited, vibrating Tanjirou on his left.

“It was a joke.” Zenitsu croaks pitifully as the redhead drags him inside. “You don’t actually need to give me something for free, Tanjirou.”

Tanjirou chuckles, “Then you can buy something for yourself!!”

“So you’re keeping me hostage until I buy something?!” Zenitsu admits that he's not much of a bread fan, usually they were too dry for his tastes. He can't tell Tanjirou that though, maybe their bread was a bit moist-er. “You’re cruel, Tanjirou!!”

 Tanjirou just laughs his complaints off, leading him to the displays. "Here, pick anything you want!" He says, patting Zenitsu reassuringly on the back.

The blonde frowns, he doesn't know what to pick. He's far from a bread connoisseur, and he doesn't want to pick the melon bread, he's already sick from eating it in school all the time. "What do you recommend?" Zenitsu sighs out, overwhelmed.

"The choco cornet!!" A voice squeaks from beside him, and he jumps in surprise, glancing down at the little girl. It's one of Tanjirou's little siblings, Hanako.

"You always suggest that." Tanjirou replies warmly, walking over to give her a fond ruffle on her head.

"But it's tasty!! Right, mister?!"

Zenitsu's too distracted by the familiar yellow kerchief tied her left leg to reply.