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my heart's in my mouth

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“Tanjirou, the ‘King of Making Friends’ and the ‘Face of Kindness’, can’t talk to one person?” Genya spoke in disbelief before adding a fake gasp.

“I’m already friends with Zenitsu!” Tanjirou blushed. “This is… something beyond friendship…”

“I think it’s sweet.” Kanao smiled. “You must really like him to be this nervous.”

“Yeah, I don’t understand why.” Inosuke grunted with his mouth full of Tanjirou’s food. “He is fun to tackle to the ground and lay on…” His green eyes flickered to the ceiling in thought. “I’ll allow you two to be together, on the condition you keep bringing me food.”

“Shhh! He can’t know! Not yet at least.” Tanjirou protested when he saw a flash of blond walking towards them.

“Yeah he’d beg you to marry him and follow you around until you do.” Genya smirked as he took a swig of his water. “Or maybe he’d wrap his arms around you and never let you go.”

“I don’t think that would be so bad…” The redhead smiled at the thought. Him and Zenitsu holding hands, walking to classes while holding hands, walking home while holding hands, showing him to his family while holding hands. Tanjirou sighed as he thought of his mother meeting Zenitsu, they would definitely get along. “One time, his hand was right next to mine on the table and I swear our hands are the perfect size to hold-”

“Shhhhhhut up!” Genya hissed. Tanjirou snapped his mouth shut and preoccupied himself with his lunch. Genya scratched his head as he turned away from the blond walking towards him. Kanao shoved a piece of bread inside Inosuke’s mouth so he wouldn’t say anything. Inosuke smirked as he chomped down on the bread, forgetting about the whole conversation.

“Uhh, hey guys…” Zenitsu offered a weak smile at his group of friends.

“Hmmm.” Genya nodded. Kanao gave him a silent smile. Inosuke let out a gargle of a greeting as crumbs flew from his mouth.  

“Hi!” Tanjirou greeted as a smile spread across his lips. “How was your morning?”

“Fine… but I got an ear full from Mr. Tomioka for letting you come to school with those earrings… again...” The blond muttered.

“I’ll have to make it up to you!” The redhead insisted. “Anything you want.” He said it like a promise. Zenitsu’s eyes lit up. “That doesn’t involve Nezuko.” Zenitsu sulked.

“Hey guys…” Muichirou came up to them, sitting next to Genya.

“Hey Muichirou!” Everyone greeted back. Zenitsu sunk down into his seat even more.

“What are your guys’ plans for the weekend?” Kanao asked. “I’m going with my older sisters to a museum.”    

“Study.” Genya and Tanjirou sighed.

“Eat and sleep!” Inosuke crossed his arms proudly.

“My Gramps is leaving for the weekend, so I think I can finally relax!” Zenitsu smiled.

“Wait! I’m going to bother Zenitsu.” Inosuke smirked as he punched him on the side of his arm. “Come on! I know where everyone lives, it’s about time I know where you live.”

“Hey!” The boy protested, rubbing the non-existent but totally will bruise on his arm. “Gramps said I can’t have anyone over. Besides, Kaigaku would kill me if you guys came over… And I don’t want to imagine what you’d do with my address. You’d probably try to climb the tree in my backyard.” Green eyes widened in excitement at the mention of a tree.

“You’re not going to study for the math exam?” Tanjirou tilted his head.

“No, I understand it pretty well.” The blond shrugged. Muichirou kicked Tanjirou’s shin from underneath the table. Tanjirou shot the blue haired boy a confused and hurt glance, but then quickly turned his attention back to Zenitsu. “I’ve always been pretty good with math and science.” Another swift kick made Tanjiro jump in the air as he furrowed his brows at the usually calm boy. Muichirou nodded his head to the side, motioning Tanjirou to get up and follow him. The redhead shook his head, motioning to Zenitsu before turning his attention back to his friend. The best part of the day was lunch with Zenitsu, he wouldn’t miss out on it.  

“Tanjirou and I gotta go to the restroom.” Muichirou announced as he yanked Tanjirou up. Tanjirou blinked in confusion before he met equally confused golden eyes.

“T-TOGETHER?!” Genya screeched as a blush lit up his cheeks. Kanao covered her mouth, her cold facade breaking as she began to blush too. Inosuke looked back and forth between each member of their group, perhaps the most confused.

“Yeah, he’s the best person to go with.” Muichirou stated, blue eyes boring into Genya’s before winking at him. A flash of realization crossed his face and the blush died down from his and Kanao’s face.

“Can I-”

“No!” Genya yelled, his arms shooting out to pull Zenitsu back to sit down when he tried to go along with the two boys.

“But I have to-”

“I’ll walk you, Benitsu!” Inosuke yanked Zenitsu out of Genya’s grasp as he got up.

“I am more than capable of walking myself! I just wanted to go with Tanjirou cause he was going.” Zenitsu blushed, trying to pull his hand from Inosuke’s. “Don’t hold my hand when we’re talking about the restroom!”

“I’ll prove to all of you that I’m better than Tanjirou! You should always ask Inosuke to come with you guys to the restroom!” He wasted no time as he pulled Zenitsu away from the group, running to find the closest bathroom. “Race you!” He called out to Tanjirou and Muichirou once he got a head start.

“Inosuke, please let me go! Your hands are sticky and covered in food.” His face scrunched up in disgust. “Are they having a secret conversation…?” He asked, his voice soft in worry.

“Don’t worry your pretty head about it, Blondie.” Inosuke laughed, completely ignoring the question.

“Wait Muichirou, please stop pulling me! My leg still hurts, you kicked me really hard.” Tanjirou called as he stumbled behind the boy. “Why did you kick me? If you wanted to talk you could’ve just said it, we shouldn’t hide anything from each other.” He chided him.

“It’s about you and Zenitsu.” His eyes widened. “I know how you can make a move.” Tanjirou snapped his head, focusing on the blue haired boy in front of him. “Ask him to help you study for math. Say that you don’t get any off it and you need his help for the test.”

“But, but that’s lying! I don’t need help understanding it, I just need to study.” Tanjirou protested.

“It’s not lying, he has a better grade than you do, so technically he’s helping.” Muichirou explained.  

“I won’t have time to go on a study date, I need to help my family.”

“Tanjirou, they can survive without you for one afternoon.” Was his deadpan response. “If you ask your mom I’m sure she’d let you go. And you’re just making excuses.”  

“It still feels wrong…” Tanjirou muttered as he looked down. “I might not be able to tell him.”

“Oh yeah, your face gets all weird when you lie…” Muichirou muttered as he looked up at the sky, trying to think of a plan. “Oh! Why don’t you text him! That way when you lie he won’t see your face!”

“I thought you said it wasn’t technically a lie! I don’t want to lie!” The redhead protested. “I don’t want our future relationship built on a lie, i-if he decides to have me.”

“‘Have you’? What are you, a Victorian gentleman asking for his hand in marriage?” The younger boy looked mortified. “Come on, Tanjirou! It’s not a lie, I just… you know what I mean.” The blue haired boy said in exasperation. “Text him now, hurry, so that way he might invite you over this weekend.”

“But he said-”

“His gramps would be gone, it would just be you and him.” Muichirou pushed Tanjirou. “And besides, you could finally give Kaigaku a piece of your mind.”

“I just don’t understand why he’s so mean to Zenitsu!” Tanjirou’s expression shifted from nervous to annoyed. “He must have had a hard childhood, being an orphan, but it’s the older brother’s job to support your siblings! I can’t believe he called Zenitsu-”

“Yeah, yeah, I get it, you like to defend Zenitsu’s honor. But hurry and text him.”

“Oh right!” He patted his pockets, trying to find his phone.

Tanjirou: Hey, Zenitsu! I was wondering if you were able to tutor me in math today

Tanjirou: please?ヽ(^◇^*)/

Zenitsu: ??

Zenitsu: you could’ve just asked me in person, aren’t you coming back  

Tanjirou: I just thought of it now

Zenitsu: ok but I have to submit some papers to Mr Tomioka so wait for me in the second floor of the library

Tanjirou: Yay! I can’t wait! (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ

Tanjirou had moved to five different locations in the library, trying to see which spot was best for them. The first was too noisy, he needed to find a place where he could focus on Zenitsu (for studying!). The second wasn’t secluded, not that he would try anything! It’s just nice to spend time… alone with Zenitsu. The third spot was okay, but it was next to the bathrooms so he had to pass. He had spent so long trying to find the perfect table that when Tanjirou did find one, Zenitsu had already turned his paperwork in and found him.

“Hey Tanjirou!” Zenitsu sighed as he flopped down next to his friend. The redhead tried not to focus on the fact that he could’ve sat across from him but instead sat right next to him. “Sorry for making you wait, Mr. Tomioka can be so particular about the weirdest stuff…”

“Don’t apologize, you’re such a good friend for helping me!” Tanjirou smiled as he wrapped his arm around Zenitsu’s shoulder.

“Tanjirou! You always know what to say to make my day!” The blond smiled widely at the compliment. Tanjirou felt his hand tighten slightly around him, but if Zenitsu felt it he didn’t say anything. He let his hand dropped as he took out the math textbook and his notebook. “Come on, let’s start with the homework, did you have a chance to start the homework?” Zenitsu turned away to pull out his notes.

“Ah… no. We’ve been so busy at the bakery…” Tanjirou sheepishly scratched the back of his head.

“It’s okay, I haven’t started either… We could do it together.”

“Wooow! Zenitsu your handwriting is so nice!” Tanjirou gushed as he looked over his friend’s notes.

“You can only flatter me so much!” The blush on his cheeks said otherwise. Tanjirou stared into his face, watching intently as he tried to take in as much of the  expression as he could. He watched the way Zenitsu’s lips pull up in a smile and the way his dimples peaked out for a little bit. “Tell me what’s confusing you and I’ll try my best…”

It felt like seconds had gone by, but it was already an hour. He tore his eyes away from the blond’s face to look at his notebook, which was filled with most of the homework they had needed to be completed. When he looked back up at Zenitsu, the afternoon sunlight that came through the window was illuminating his hair. His usual color was now golden like a halo. His whole essence, the look, the smell, the feeling was similar to the brightness of the sun.

How his hair was naturally that color never ceases to amaze him.

“Do you get this example?” Zenitsu’s voice cut through Tanjirou’s thoughts like a knife. His dark red eyes snapped down to look at the paper.

“Uh, no…” Tanjirou wasn’t lying. He wasn’t paying attention and has no idea where that answer came from.

“You look distracted, are you tired? We could stop for the day…” Zenitsu suggested, looking at his friend with a worried expression.

“After this example.” The redhead insisted.

“Ok, the first step is to do the derivative…” He pushed his notebook in front of Tanjirou as he pulled the chair to be right beside him. Zenitsu leaned forward, closer to Tanjirou.

And Tanjirou fell deeper in love.

He was too aware of the way the blond’s pink lips moved as he explained the problem. The way his hands curled as the gestured and pointed at the steps of the problem, the way he voiced his thought process, the gentle sound of his breath, they were all like consecutive slaps to the face as Tanjirou realizes just how deeply-

“Tanjirou! You spaced out again! That’s it, you need to get some sleep. You can’t work yourself to death! I’ll be lonely if you die, you’re the only one who puts up with me.” Zenitsu poked Tanjirou’s forehead. He watched Zenitsu’s angered expression as he started cleaning up the table. “I know you feel like you have to help your family, but take me into consideration and relax for the night.” The redhead followed his movements, noticing how soft and delicate his hands looked, compared to his rough and callous ones. What would it be like to hold them?

“Do you want to come over for dinner? My mom would love to have you.” He already had his phone out, preparing to text his mom to make extra food.

“No, that’s okay!” He rushed out quickly. “I would love to, but I don’t want to intrude.” The redhead began to open his mouth to protest. “Besides, if I get home too late Kaigaku will try to lock me out again.” A frown pulled on his lips.

“Then I’ll walk you.” Tanjirou got up from his seat, dumping his notes into his backpack as he followed his friend out of the library. Zenitsu raised an eyebrow in disbelief.  

“Tanjirou, my house is in the opposite direction of yours.”

“That’s okay! It’s my fault you stayed late, so I should walk you. You usually walk with Muichirou, don’t you? I don’t want you walking alone.” Tanjirou insisted as they walked out of the school gate.

“Tan-” The redhead pouted, giving his best ‘hurt puppy’ face (as Genya liked to call it) to try and convince Zenitsu. The blond stared at him, first in disbelief, then in anger, and finally morphed into gratitude and exasperation. “Fine... “ He relented. Tanjirou’s lips pulled up in a charming smile. “Hey, come on, stop smiling like that!” Zenitsu pushed him away by his shoulder.

“It makes me happy to spend time with you, Zenitsu! Even if it is just for a short walk to your house.”

“I hope you do, we’re friends after all…” He tried to hide his deep blush by covering his face with one hand, trying to fake exasperation. Tanjirou tried to get a peak of Zenitsu’s cute expression but he wasn’t able too. Suddenly, Tanjirou pulled Zenitsu’s hand from his face, and kept it in his own. “T-Tanjirou!” He cried.

“What?” He tilted his head in response.

“I-It’s… Well, you know… Why would… You… You…” How cute Zenitsu is when he’s stuttering and embarrassed. “You can’t… We shouldn’t… People would get the wrong idea.” The blond looked around for any familiar faces as they walked down the street.

“I hold hands with everybody.” Tanjirou explained.

“Oh... You do?” Why, why was there a hint of sadness in Zenitsu’s scent? “How come I never see you? Do you guys… hang out when I’m not around?”

“Well, me, Inosuke, and Genya all walk home together.” Tanjirou raised a brow in confusion, but he couldn’t help but be disappointed when the scent of sadness didn’t go away. “But I always wish you and Muichirou walked with us!” He was suddenly aware that Zenitsu wasn’t letting go of his hand. Maybe Kanao was right, maybe this is easier than what he thought it was! He smiled, it was a small victory, but every little part of Zenitsu won is like a little piece of glowing happiness.

They walked in silence, but Tanjirou didn’t mind. He wouldn’t be able to hold meaningful conversation because all he could focus on was the warmth spreading up his arm to settle in his heart. He could smell calmness washing over the usually tense Zenitsu. He could help but gush at the calming effect he had over the blond.

“Here we are…” Zenitsu sounded disappointed as they walked up to the door.

“Oh…” Tanjirou mirrored his tone. “Well, it was fun walking together! One day we should hang out after school.” Zenitsu smiled as he looked down at their still joined hands, hesitating to open the door. “Too bad your grandpa doesn’t let you spend the night… My mom is the best cook! My whole family helps out with dinner. She’s been wanting to meet you, you know.”

“Why?” Tanjirou’s heart shattered at Zenitsu’s dumbfounded reply. “Why would… anyone want to meet me?” Tanjirou decided to take Zenitsu’s other hand in his own, pulling his friend to face him instead of the front door.

“Zenitsu… the truth is-” His door suddenly swung open and caused the blond to jump and tear his hands away from Tanjirou. Zenitsu moved to cling onto Tanjirou’s shoulder as he looked at the stranger who had opened his front door.

“Ooooh, who’re these cuties.” A woman with long white hair rested against the door, dragging her eyes up and down the two of them. “You boys are so cute, I could just eat you up! But I think you’re a little too young for the party.” She crossed her arms as a smirk pulled on the corner of her red lips. Her eyes stopped to focus solely on Zenitsu. “You must be Zenitsu, you’re cuter than what he made you out to be.”

“Daki, what are you-” The door opened all the way to reveal Kaigaku, who immediately began to get pissed off. “Ugh, it’s my stupid brother and his boyfriend.” Daki protested as she was pushed out of the way. Kaigaku stepped outside and closed the door behind him, leaving the trio outside.

“H-hey!” Zenitsu stepped away from Tanjirou. “Gramps said we couldn’t have anyone over. I’m not going to cover for you anymore-”

“Listen, don’t even think of coming home before sunday.” The older one interrupted, pushing Zenitsu away by his forehead. “I’m throwing a kickass party and I don’t need your disgusting face around scaring everyone away.” Tanjirou clenched his jaw.

“It’s not disgusting! Zenitsu is pretty! Especially his eyes.” The redhead took a step towards Kaigaku, who raised one of his eyebrows.

“Eh?!” Zenitsu snapped his head to look at Tanjirou.

“Well, apparently you don’t know him. His personality can turn his looks sour. He’s a whiny crybaby who’s good at nothing. I’m sure you’ll get tired of him too.” Kaigaku smirked, reaching out to push him once more, but Tanjirou grabbed his wrist.

“Hey, apologize!” Tanjirou yelled, his grip tightened. “You shouldn’t say things like that.”

“Like what?” Kaigaku challenged.

“Lies.” Crimson eyes bored into him.

“Tanjirou, let’s just go.” Zenitsu pleaded as he wraps his fingers around Tanjirou’s arm. “Please, you’ll just make him more angry.” He tugged Tanjirou, who slowly released Kaigaku, but Tanjirou continued to glare at him.  

“Scram.” Zenitsu pulled Tanjirou away, who turned to give Kaigaku one last glare.

“Zenitsu, you shouldn’t be treated like that…” Tanjirou huffed. He kept trying to find Zenitsu’s eyes, but the blond just was looking at the ground. “He’s wrong about everything. Kaigaku’s not a good person, I could smell the sourness surrounding us.” Tanjirou explained and Zenitsu let out a soft chuckle. Tanjirou smiled, anger melting away as he intertwined his fingers with Zenitsu’s again. “If, if you were apart of my family, then I’d be sure to cherish you every single day!”

“Are… are you saying I can marry Nez-”

“No… more like if you married me…” Tanjirou watched as gold began to shine.

“Marry you? Tanjirou, I only helped you out with math… I’m sure you can find another way to thank me.” Zenitsu paused, nudging him with his shoulder. Then, his expression softened to something along the lines of sadness. “And I know you’re just saying that to be nice…”

“No! I really mean it!” He insisted and Zenitsu looked at him, like it was all clicking.

And Tanjirou smelled something sweet. It was like when a peach blossom first opens up. Zenitsu turned his head away from Tanjirou’s kind eyes, who frowned slightly as he looked in front of them. Was that too forward? Genya had told him it’s not cool to be too forward…  

“You’re being really nice to me.” Zenitsu stated as the blossoms began to close.

“Well, yeah!”

“... why?” Zenitsu narrowed his eyes in suspicion.

“Umm… I… Er…” Tanjirou stuttered out. Well, he can’t lie! But he wanted to tell Zenitsu his feelings someplace special. But he had to tell him before they got home! Tanjirou sighed in defeat. He hopes Zenitsu will forgive him for confessing on the walk home. “Zenitsu, there’s something I need to tell you…” Tanjirou began to blush.

“Gah! I’m kicked out of the friend group, aren’t I?!” He interrupted as he threw himself onto Tanjirou. “I know I’m a crybaby so I shouldn’t be surprised! I bet I wouldn’t be able to put up with myself either!” He dug his face into Tanjirou’s shoulder as he let out a loud sob.

“What?! No!” Tanjirou was offended.

“Then why has everyone been avoiding me? Every time I come close to the group everyone shuts up!” Zenitsu pulled away in confusion.

“Oh, that’s my fault!” He smiled as he took Zenitsu’s hands in his own, trying to set the mood again.  

“YOU don’t want to be my friend?!” Zenitsu was crying, tears rolling down his face.

“Yes!” Tanjirou yelled.

“‘Yes’?!” The blond echoed. “Why are you so blunt! You could’ve let me down gently you know!”

“Well, yes but no!” Tanjirou raised his hands trying to calm him down.  

“Well, which is it!” Zenitsu grabbed a handful of Tanjirou’s hair, pulling it roughly.  

“I don’t want to be your friend!” A dramatic cry spilled from the blond’s lips. “I want to be more!” The crying promptly stopped. “I like you! I like you a lot!” He finally explained. Zenitsu looked at Tanjirou’s face in disbelief, with his red tear stained cheeks. “You’re really cute, Zenitsu.” Tanjirou couldn’t help but smile.

“You… like me?” The blond emphasized by pointing at himself. His friend nodded eagerly.

“Do you like me?” He asked.

“Of course… I’ve… I’ve always liked you, Tanjirou. But I just thought that.. ” His heart soared at Zenitsu’s words.

“Ah, really! I’m so happy!” The redhead cheered as he wrapped his arms around him and pulled him close. “I promise I’ll be the best boyfriend, Zenitsu!” The blond grumpled something into the nook of Tanjirou’s neck. “I promise to walk you to all of our classes and hold your hand whenever you want. I can’t wait to tell everyone!”

“Wait, so everyone knows?!”

“Well, I couldn’t keep it a secret… And I wanted to make sure no one else would try and date you…”

“Come on, Tanjirou… You know that would never happen…” Zenitsu mumbled as he pulled away.

“I want to date you!” The proclamation causes some people on the street to stare at the boys.

“Tanjirou!” He screeched, a blush burning his cheeks. The boy in question tilted his head innocently. “If, if you’re going to be my boyfriend, you can’t toy with my heart.”

“But I am serious, Zenitsu.” Tanjirou pulled the blond closer, staring into his eyes. “I’m not toying with you, I really like you, but I will reserve the right to tease my boyfriend.” Zenitsu pouted and Tanjirou’s smile grew. He leaned in to give him a kiss on the cheek. “Come on, this is my house.” The blond touched his cheek where Tanjirou had kissed him before following him to the front door. The redhead was about to knock on the door when he paused to look at him. “I have to warn you… I did talk about you a lot to my family.”

“Y-you did…?” Tears began to form in Zenitsu’s eyes.

“Yeah…” Tanjirou scratched his head sheepishly.

“Mom! Tanjirou’s boyfriend is here!” A younger version of Tanjirou opened the door, smiling excitedly at the two of them. “Please come in! Are you finally eating dinner with us?!” The boy shouted as he pulled Zanitsu in.

“Takeo!” Tanjirou scolded.

“How do they know already?” The blond asked as he walked deeper into the warm house.

“I told you, I talked about you... a lot…” Tanjirou smiled at him lovingly.

“Tanjirou’s boyfriend!” A little girl with bangs came running into the room.

“Zenitsu! It’s so nice to meet you!” The famous Kie Kamado came out of the kitchen, a warm smile present on her face. “I hope you’re hungry, I made a lot of food for us.”

“Thank you!” Zenitsu spoke formally, trying to ignore Tanjirou’s laughter.

“Zen-Zen! Sit by me!” The little girl pulled him away.

“No! Sit by me!” Takeo pulled him back.

“You guys will pull him apart!”

“Come on guys, I’m sure Tanjirou wants to sit next to Zenitsu.” Kie smiled knowingly as she watched Tanjirou lovesick expression.