Chapter 1: Kamado Nezuko's Confession
When did it start? Nezuko was lost in thought while she was preparing dinner. Recently she had come to the realization that she had developed feelings for the former water pillar, Giyuu. Once she reverted back to the sweet human she was, she started interacting with everyone normally. Everyone was happy for her but Giyuu was the only one who hadn’t had much of a reaction. From the beginning she was curious about him. Her memories of him remained even when she became a human. She remembered their very first encounter. He was the one that made a bamboo muzzle for her and put his life on the line along with Urokodaki and her brother in trust of her. Her brother was his only friend and they visited him often. She remembered when she asked if she could be his friend too. He gave her a nod. In the inside he was happy to have made another friend. Nezuko visited Giyuu even without her brother. Sometimes she would go just to check up on him, bring him food, just spend time with him, or all of the above. As she spent more time with him, the more she started to see him in a different light. The feeling of love had blossomed within her.
“Nezuko the water’s overflowing!” Tanjirou shouted.
“Huh?!” She looked and saw the pot was overflowing. “Ah!” She carefully removed the pot off the fire.
“Nezuko what’s wrong? It’s unusual for you to be daydreaming while cooking.”
She mustered up a smile. “It’s nothing!”
“If you say so...Oh! It’s that time of the year again.”
“What is it?”
“Where we go flower viewing! The sakura trees are going to be beautiful this year. I’m so excited. We should bring Giyuu-san with us!”
Nezuko’s eyes lit up at the mention of Giyuu. Giyuu-san’s going to come too?! What am I going to wear?!
Tanjirou picked up the scent of anticipation from Nezuko. Nezuko must really be looking forward to seeing the flowers this year.
The next day she decided to bring some food to Giyuu. She was always concerned whether he properly ate in that huge empty house of his. She knocked on the wooden door. “Giyuu-san!” There was no response. After trying a couple more times, she gave up. Feeling dejected she turned around to go back home. That was when she saw Giyuu coming back home. She ran up to him with eagerness. She didn’t see the rock on the ground and tripped over it.
“!” Giyuu ran up to her and caught her just in time. That was close.
“Hehe, thank you!” She stood back up. “I brought some food over for you!”
“Come inside.” Giyuu entered the house with Nezuko following behind him. Nezuko unwrapped the cloth and unpacked the food for him. She had packed all sorts of delicious food causing his stomach to grumble loudly.
“Please eat Giyuu-san.”
“What about you?”
“I’m okay!” Just then her stomach rumbled too. Her cheeks turned red. How embarrassing!
She must be hungry. “Eat.”
“Okay…” They ate breakfast in silence.
“Thanks for the meal.” Nezuko started packing up the empty containers. “Do you have time?” he asked.
“I’ll bring out tea.”
“Giyuu-san don’t you have to go to the store?”
“I have time.” He set out tea for them. Giyuu enjoyed the extra time with her because it was soothing to him. Whenever he started off the day with Nezuko, he felt happy inside all day long.
Nezuko was feeling incredibly nervous. She wanted to ask him if he had time to go view flowers this weekend. “Um...Giyuu-san.” Thump, thump. “I was wondering if you have time this weekend.”
“I have time.”
“W-Would you like to go flower viewing with me?!” She realized the way she invited him sounded wrong. “Ah! I meant not alone! Nii-chan will be there and also Urokodaki-san too!”
Thank goodness he said okay! Part of her felt disappointed that he said okay to all of them going. Would he have said okay if it was only me? After wishing him a good day, Nezuko walked to the tailor shop to start the day.
“Nezuko-chan, good morning~” the seamstress greeted her.
“Good morning!” Nezuko settled down.
“We have quite the orders we need to work on. Are you ready to start the day?”
“I like your energy. Let’s start working.” The two women started working. Many customers entered and exited for the next few hours. It quickly became lunch time and they decided to go on a break.
“Hello~” a voice said.
“Wel-” Nezuko gasped and smiled. “Mitsuri-nee!”
“Nezuko-chan~ Are you free right now?”
“Yeah I’m on a break! What brings you here? Do you need a kimono or some altering done?”
“Maybe next time. I came to get you!”
“Let’s eat lunch together. Is that alright miss seamstress?”
The seamstress laughed. “Of course it is Mitsuri-chan. You two have a good time.”
“Thank you~” Mitsuri linked her arm with Nezuko’s. “Let’s go!” Mitsuri brought her back to the restaurant she ran with Obanai. “Obanai-chan~”
“Mitsuri.” He noticed she wasn’t alone. “The brat’s sister.” Obanai didn’t have much of an opinion about her. He was fine with her coming often because Mitsuri treated her like a younger sister.
“H-Hello Iguro-san!” Nezuko bowed her head to him.
“Sit, sit, Nezuko-chan!” Mitsuri seated her. “We have a new menu item called omurice, would you like to try it?”
“Yes please!” Nezuko loved Mitsuri’s cooking.
“One omurice coming up~” Mitsuri went into the kitchen with Obanai following her.
Nezuko felt envious looking at the lovely couple. I wonder if Giyuu-san and I can be like that one day. She let out a small sigh.
“What’s with the sigh?” Mitsuri came out with a plate of omurice for her. She settled it down in front of her.
Nezuko saw what looked like beaten eggs topped on fried rice. She noticed there was a heart ketchup on the egg. “It looks and smells amazing!”
“Thank you~ Try a bite!”
Nezuko took a spoonful of the omurice and ate it. She looked at Mitsuri with a surprised expression. “This is so good!”
“Hehe thank you~” Mitsuri sat down next to Nezuko while Obanai sat next to her. “So did you sigh because of Tomioka-san?”
Nezuko blushed and bashfully nodded her head.
This girl likes Tomioka?! Obanai was in shock.
“How did you know?!”
“I can tell from the way you look at him~ You two would make a cute couple! Did you invite him to go flower viewing this weekend?”
“Kind of...Speaking of which, would you two like to join us?”
“Thank you for the invite but we’re running the restaurant that day. I want to go though,” Mitsuri had a sad expression.
“Mitsuri, how about you go? I can man the place down.”
“I would never go flower viewing without you Obanai-chan! I’m going to work with you right here.”
Mitsuri. He was touched by her response.
“So how did you ask him?!” Mitsuri was eager to know.
“Well...I invited him with everyone else.”
Poor Nezuko-chan! She knew that someone like Giyuu needed a girl who would take initiative. They continued to chat until it was time for Nezuko to return. Mitsuri sent her off with sakura mochi to share with the seamstress. She was determined to help Giyuu and Nezuko out. “Obanai-chan I’m going to visit Tomioka-san’s place! Can you look after the place for a short while?”
Tomioka’s?! Tomioka you bastard! Obanai internally sighed. He knew she wanted to help them out and there was no stopping her. “Take your time.” Misturi gave him a quick peck on his cheek. Obanai’s cheeks turned red.
“Thank you Obanai-chan~ I’ll bring back something yummy~!” She waved as she exited through the door.
“Mitsuri.” Obanai was clutching onto his chest. His love for her grew more and more everyday.
Mitsuri was happily humming on her way to Giyuu’s store. She saw him sitting with an emotionless face. Tomioka-san looking so cute while just sitting there! “Tomioka-san~”
Giyuu noticed Mitsuri running his way. "Kanroji. Are you here for some fish?"
I guess it'd be a little rude not to buy anything. "Give me the best fish you have! By the way I came to talk to you."
Talk? What could she want to talk about?
"Say Tomioka-san is there someone you like?"
"..." Giyuu didn't know how to respond to the question. The silence made Mitsuri feel like she asked an awkward question. "I…"
Could it be that he's going to say Nezuko-chan?!
"Like my friends…"
This wasn't the answer I was looking for! Tomioka-san needs a little push! Mitsuri grabbed his arm. "We need to go somewhere Tomioka-san!"
"We'll come back for it later!" Mitsuri lead him to the tailor shop Nezuko was working at. Mitsuri noticed the usual group of boys that admired Nezuko, standing outside the shop. Perfect timing!
Giyuu noticed the group of boys as well. There was a strange feeling that arose within him. He didn't know what it was except that he didn't like it.
"Oh those guys again!" He looked at her. "These guys always come to Nezuko-chan's shop to look at her. They must really like her!!" She peeped at him to see his reaction.
The fact that these guys came here often to look at Nezuko didn't sit well with him. He decided to approach them.
Tomioka-san is jealous! Nezuko-chan he really likes you~
"What are you doing here?" he asked them.
"Oh, uh!" One of the guys stepped up. "Are you Kamado-san's older brother?! I-It's nice to meet you! I'm Suzuki Teru!" His voice cracked towards the end of the sentence. The guys behind him snickered. His face turned red. "I-I would like to take Kamado-san flower viewing this weekend!" He bowed his head.
"May I know why?!"
"She's already going with someone."
"Who?! Does she have a lover?!"
The young man came to the realization that Giyuu was not her brother. Looking at him closely, he didn't even resemble Nezuko at all. Craaaap! I just asked her out in front of her boyfriend! "I-I'm terribly sorry! I didn't know she was seeing someone!" He bowed his head and ran for his life. The others followed after him.
"?" Giyuu was confused. Seeing someone? Is she seeing someone?
Tomioka-san the way you scared that group of boys away from Nezuko-chan! I love how assertive you were~
The door opened and Nezuko poked her head out. "Giyuu-san, Mitsuri-nee? What brings you two over here?"
"Oh! We were just solving a minor problem!"
"Oh so that's what the commotion was about."
"Sorry~ Hope we didn't bother you!"
Nezuko shook her head. "I'm not bothered at all."
"After work…" Giyuu spoke up. "I'll walk you home." He wanted to make sure he properly scared the group of guys away for good.
Nezuko's cheeks grew hot. Did I hear him right?! "You're going to pick me up after work?" He gave her a nod. She broke out into a huge smile. "I'll be waiting!" He gave her another nod before she went back in to work.
The sun was setting, indicating the end to another day. Like Giyuu promised, he walked to the tailor shop to pick Nezuko up. As he was approaching the store he noticed Nezuko happily talking to some man. The uncomfortable feeling bothered him again. He stood there until they were done with their conversation. Nezuko spotted Giyuu and waved at him. He walked up to her. “You ready?”
“Yes!” The two started walking together under the orange pink sky. Nezuko was enjoying the time she was spending with Giyuu.
Giyuu was deep in thought. For some reason he couldn’t stop thinking about the man he saw just before.
“Giyuu-san would you like to join us for dinner?” There was no response from him. She looked at him and noticed he was lost in thought. How was she able to tell? Who knows. Nezuko could tell that his mind was elsewhere. “Giyuu-san?”
“I was wondering if you’d like to join us for dinner.”
“Okay.” Giyuu joined the Kamado siblings for dinner. He was spacing out through dinner and his walk back home. As he was lying down to sleep, the scene where Nezuko was talking with the young man kept replaying in his mind. He kept tossing and turning because he couldn’t fall asleep. He eventually gave up on sleeping for the night and walked out to the corridor. The moon was shining bright. He looked up at the moon and saw Nezuko’s smiling face. Is that the person she’s seeing?
The day to go flower viewing has arrived. Nezuko woke up super early to head down to Mitsuri’s restaurant. Mitsuri had told her that she would help her make food for everyone. Nezuko entered the restaurant. “Good morning. Mitsuri-nee I’m here.”
Mitsuri popped her head out of the kitchen door. “Nezuko-chan good morning~ Come to the kitchen!”
Nezuko went to the back and entered the kitchen. She gasped at the luxurious ingredients laid out before her eyes. “Mitsuri-nee can we really use all of these?! Shouldn’t you use these for the restaurant?”
“It’s okay! We’re going to make Tomioka-san fall for you even harder today!”
Nezuko blushed. “How are you so sure that he even likes me that way?”
Mitsuri giggled. “I just know~ Let’s start cooking!”
After they finished cooking some food, Nezuko went to where they would be viewing the sakura trees. As she was waiting at the entrance, she noticed Tanjirou still wasn’t here. I wonder where nii-chan could be? Just then Tanjirou’s crow landed on her shoulder and gave her a letter. “Thank you.” The letter read as follows,
I’m very sorry but something turned up last minute with Urokodaki-san. We’re sorry we can’t go watch the flowers with you but please have a good time with Giyuu-san.”
That means it’s just me and Giyuu-san viewing flowers?! Her heart started beating faster. What if he doesn’t want to stay? What should I do?!
On the other hand Tanjirou’s crow returned to him. “Did Nezuko receive the letter?”
“Giyuu’s changed,” Urokodaki said.
“You think so Urokodaki-san?”
“Ever since he sent you two to me, I knew something about him changed. He’s not the kind of child that would let a demon live. Now look at the three of you. You guys are like a family.”
Giyuu-san! Tanjirou was glad he made the decision not to go. Giyuu was the only person he fully trusted Nezuko with. Earlier during the week he bumped into Mitsuri and she revealed to him what she thought about Giyuu and Nezuko. She said she was positive that they had feelings for each other. A lot of pieces started coming together as he listened to her. He couldn’t have asked for a better person for Nezuko. Please have a good time with our Nezuko!
Giyuu arrived and saw Nezuko waiting. “Nezuko.”
“G-Giyuu-san!” Her voice squeaked. “Nii-chan and Urokodaki-san said they can’t make it last minute. If you don’t want to go, it's okay.” Even though she said that, she was hoping he’d still want to watch with her.
Giyuu started walking forwards but noticed Nezuko wasn’t following. He looked behind at her. “Aren’t you coming?”
Nezuko was elated. Giyuu-san said yes! “I’m coming!” She walked next to his side and they started walking. The sakura were in full bloom. All they could see were the beautiful light pink petals surrounding them. Many couples were walking around and enjoying the view.
Giyuu noticed that she was carrying what he assumed was a container of food. “Let me hold that.”
“Oh, it’s oka-” A child bumped into her causing her to drop the container of food. Some of the contents spilled out of the container. The food Mitsuri-nee and I worked so hard on!
Nezuko smiled at him. She lifted him up and patted the dirt off of him. She was sad because she wanted Giyuu to eat the food but it couldn’t be helped. “Are you alright?”
The kid nodded. “I’m so sorry onee-san!” The kid’s parents came to get him. They profusely apologized to Giyuu and Nezuko.
“Oh no it’s okay! As long as he’s alright.”
“Please take money as compensation for the food.”
“It’s alright! Please don’t worry about it!”
While Nezuko was talking with the kid's parents, Giyuu started separating the food that fell onto the ground and the ones that remained in the container. He put everything back in an orderly manner. After the parents and the kid left, Nezuko turned to Giyuu. “Ah Giyuu-san it’s okay.”
Giyuu knew how much effort she put into making the food. He coincidentally saw her go to Mitsuri’s restaurant early in the morning. He wasn’t going to let her work go to waste. “I separated the ones that touched the ground from the ones that didn’t.”
“Oh! You didn’t have to.” She smiled brightly at him. “Thank you.”
Giyuu felt like his heart was being squeezed. He turned his eyes elsewhere. “It’s nothing.” They continued walking until they reached a secluded area. It was the perfect place to sit down and look at the flowers. “Should we sit here?”
Giyuu took off his haori and placed it on the grass. “Sit.”
Giyuu-san’s haori is going to get dirty. “But your haori is going to get dirty.”
“It’s okay.” She sat down and he sat down next to her. He started to undo the cloth.
The cute food Nezuko spent time making looked like a mess. She felt embarrassed looking at it. I can’t let him eat this. “Giyuu-san please don’t eat this. There are plenty of places to eat around here. Let’s go to one of those.”
Without a word, he took a bite of the potato croquette. There was a mixture of meat and vegetables inside.
Nezuko looked at him with eager eyes. Is it to his taste? The corners of his lips curved up a little bit. Giyuu-san is smiling! He rarely ever smiles!
He took the other potato croquette and brought it to her mouth. “Try it.”
“I-I can eat it myself.” She took it from his hand and took a bite. The crispiness of the outside with the softness in the inside combined with all the flavors, made it feel like there was a flavor party in her mouth. Mitsuri-nee thank you so much!
They ate the delicious food as they enjoyed the scenery. After finishing the food, they remained seated. “Thank you for the meal,” he said.
“Thank you for the meal~” Nezuko said. “I’m so full!” Giyuu noticed a crumb on the edge of her mouth. He brought his hand to her mouth. “?!” Nezuko was shocked from the sudden touch.
“There was a crumb.”
“T-Thank you.” She could’ve sworn that her heart was going to leap out of her chest from his touch. She continued to enjoy the good weather and the flowers. Her eyes wandered to Giyuu. Giyuu-san is really handsome. “I like you,” the sentence slipped out of her mouth. Giyuu’s eyes widened and their eyes met. Nezuko gasped at the realization of what she just said. She quickly looked away from him.
Is she thinking about that guy? His eyebrows furrowed. "Are you talking about that young man?" He didn't know why but it just came out of his mouth as well. After seeing that scene when he went to pick her up, it hadn't left his mind.
She looked back at him with a confused expression. "Young man? What young man?"
"From that evening when I went to pick you up." Is he the one that you're seeing?
Nezuko took a moment to dig through her memories. "Oh you're talking about that customer! He wanted to surprise his wife with a beautiful kimono for their wedding anniversary. He was sharing a funny moment from their wedding. It was funny."
Giyuu felt all the tension leave his body. He was relieved that he was just a customer.
"Why do you ask?"
Nezuko knew it wasn't nothing but she wasn't going to push him to tell her. "Giyuu-san, I meant what I said. I like you. I really like you." You don't know how much I like you.
Giyuu looked into her gorgeous deep red to pink eyes. He didn't know exactly when it started. All he knew was that feelings had bloomed for the young woman in front of him at some point.
"I'm sorry if this is too sudden for you. I understand that you may need some time. I'll wait for you."
"There's no need to wait."
"Let's start right now." Tears started streaming down her eyes. He wiped them with the sleeve of his kimono. "Don't cry."
"I'm crying because I'm happy!" She launched her body at him, giving him a hug. It caused Giyuu to fall on his back. "Please take care of me!"
Giyuu had a small grin. "Please take care of me as well."
Spring marked new beginnings. Everything that had died during the cold winter wind, spring revitalized. The once bare sakura trees grew back their beautiful flowers. Under these sakura trees, a new flower had grown. A flower of love. Spring was finally here.
Chapter 2: Iguro Obanai's Confession
Obanai and Mitsuri were strolling through town together. Obanai liked walking with her but at the same time he was annoyed by the men who were ogling her. He wanted to grab his sword and scare them off. He looked at Mitsuri who was in a good mood. His heart fluttered whenever he ever looked at her or thought of her. She was a beautiful and kind woman who always shone so bright.
“It’s a beautiful day~” Mitsuri commented.
“It is,” Obanai agreed. Kaburamaru hissed in agreement as well.
“What to eat~ What to eat~ Oh! Iguro-san I heard that a new restaurant opened up! Would you like to go try the food?”
“Okay.” He didn’t care where they went as long as he got to spend time with her.
“Yay~” Mitsuri lead him to the new restaurant but there was already a line. “What a long line! I heard that the food here was amazing.” She started talking about all sorts of foods.
Obanai liked listening to her talk about the different kinds of food she loved with passion. The faces that she made was too adorable for words. He mentally noted the foods where her eyes sparkled more. Kanroji’s so cute. By the time she finished talking, they were ready to be seated. The waitress seated them down inside. The place was crowded but looked promising.
“What can I get you two?” the waitress asked.
“I’d like everything on the menu please,” Mitsuri replied.
“Excuse me?” The waitress thought she misheard her.
“Everything on the menu and a cup of tea please,” Iguro said.
The way Iguro-san repeated the order for me makes my heart flutter~ “Iguro-san you’re only having a cup of tea?”
“I’m not feeling particularly hungry.”
Mitsuri felt bad because it felt like she dragged him with her. “I’m sorry for bringing you along when you’re not hungry.”
“I wanted to come.” Seeing you eat happily is enough to make me full.
The waitress along with a few other waiters came out with the food. They had to bring an extra table in order to place all the food. Everyone in the restaurant stared at the amount of food Mitsuri was eating. Obanai loved watching her eat as he sipped on his tea. She had this satisfied expression that he adored. There were two guys sitting at the table besides them. Mitsuri overheard their conversation.
“You see that girl with the strange hair?” the first guy whispered.
“Yeah, she’s insane. How can she eat so much? Doesn’t she feel ashamed?” the other whispered back.
“She’s a pig haha!”
Mitsuri’s feelings were hurt but she tried her best not to show them.
Obanai got furious. How dare they talk about Kanroji like that! Obanai got up ready to beat the shit out of them but Mitsuri held his hand. “Kanroji.”
“I’m okay Iguro-san,” she said with a smile but it was clear as day how hurt she was.
He reluctantly sat back down. If I ever see them without Kanroji around, I’m going to make sure tomorrow won’t come for them.
After Mitsuri finished eating, they were back out in town. “Thank you for coming with me Iguro-san~ Would you like to come to my place for some desserts?”
“Yay~” Mitsuri was back to being happy and cheerful. Obanai was relieved to see she was back to herself but at the same time concerned about her feelings.
“Kanroji-san is that you?” someone called out to Mitsuri.
Mitsuri recognized that voice, causing her entire body to tense up. That voice was the same voice who said such cruel things to her years ago.
Kanroji? He glared at the man who was approaching them. He didn’t know what kind of relationship he had with her but he didn’t like him already. He protectively put himself in front of Mitsuri.
“Wow it is you Kanroji-san. I knew I recognized that weird hair color.” The man was Mitsuri’s marriage candidate that said hurtful words to her few years ago.
“What do you want?” Obanai hissed at him.
“Oh wow. You managed to find yourself a man! I was positive only a boar would accept you.”
This asshole! “What did you say you shithead?”
“Iguro-san!” Mitsuri tugged on his haori. “It’s okay,” she whispered to him.
“How noble of you! It must be hard walking around with a freak like her. Did you know she eats so much? How she eats so much is beyond me! Don’t get me started on how ridiculously strong she is. Hahahaha!” He started obnoxiously laughing.
Obanai threw a punch at him. “Shut your shitface up. You have no right to talk about Kanroji with that dirty ass mouth of yours.”
“H-How dare you punch me?! Do you know who I am?!” he screeched.
“I don’t give a shit who you are. Anyone who talks about Kanroji with their disgusting ass mouth will get a taste of my fist.”
Iguro-san… Tears started forming in her eyes. She was really touched that he was standing up for her.
The man adjusted his glasses. “Those different eye colors! You two are truly made for each other. Bunch of freaks!” he shrilled.
“Don’t talk about Iguro-san’s eyes likes that! He has the most beautiful eyes. You’re truly a mean person! I’m glad it didn’t go well with you!” Mitsuri shouted with tears sliding down her cheeks.
“Kanroji…” A crowd started forming around them. There’s people gathering. We should get out of here. Obanai held her hand. “Kanroji, let’s get out of here. People are starting to look.”
Iguro-san’s hand is so big and warm. “Okay!” Obanai led her out of the crowd.
The man fixed his glasses and pointed at them. “Where do you think you two are going?! Come back here!”
The pair arrived back to Mitsuri’s house, holding hands the entire way. “Um, Iguro-san my hand.”
?! Obanai just realized that he had been holding her hand this entire time. He quickly let go of her. “Sorry.” Badump, badump, badump. I can’t believe I was holding her hand the entire time.
He sat down at the corridor. Mitsuri came out with freshly made honey butter pancakes. The sweet scent of the honey waft through his nose. Obanai didn’t really have a sweet tooth but if it was something Mitsuri cooked, you damn well know that he was going to eat it. She set down the stack of pancakes in between them. “Here’s a fork.” She passed him a fork.
“Thanks.” He took a bite of the pancake. It was a little too sweet for his tastes but he felt the love Mitsuri put into making it. “It’s tasty.”
Mitsuri smiled brightly. “I’m glad you like it!”
Dammit! Kanroji you’re too cute.
“Thank you for before…. That man he was my marriage candidate about three years ago.”
Obanai listened in silence. Kanroji...had a marriage candidate. Of course she would look how beautiful she is. Any man would be lucky to have her as a wife.
“He rejected me though. He said that my hair was a weird color, I eat too much, and I was too strong. He couldn’t stand the thought of my weird genes being passed onto his children.”
Obanai’s hands balled into fists as he heard her story. That bastard. That single punch wasn’t enough. I should’ve beaten him up more.
“I tried concealing my true self but I couldn’t do it. Oyakata-sama said that I was amazing as I was. I’m so glad to have joined the demon slaying corps and met everyone, especially you Iguro-san. You even gave me these beautiful socks. I’m a truly blessed person!”
Obanai pulled her in for a hug. He could relate with the pain. He vividly remembered the fingers that pointed at him and called him all sorts of names. He grew up without friends and the only one that stuck by his side was Kaburamaru. Now he had Mitsuri who had become his friend. The first person to call his different colored eyes beautiful. His world that was once black and white, she painted with her colors. “You’re beautiful the way you are. I love everything about you.”
Badump, badump, badump, badump. “Iguro-san…” She gripped onto his haori.
They looked into each others eyes. This was the moment. The timing felt perfect for Obanai to profess his love for her. Tell her how you feel. “Kanroji, I’m in love with you. I’ve been in love with you for a really long time.” Years worth of his feelings for her finally came out into the light. He couldn’t tell whether she had the same feelings for him too because she was loving to everyone. How he wished she felt the same way. She was the only and probably only person he’d ever hold romantic feelings for. The short silence felt like forever.
Mitsuri’s cheeks became red. “I love Iguro-san as well,” she shyly replied.
Obanai felt like an arrow struck his heart. “So from now on are we…”
“We’re lovers!” She threw her arms around his neck and gave him a kiss.
“Call me by my name Obanai-chan!”
Obanai-chan?! Is that what she’s calling me?
“I hope you don’t mind me calling you that.” Her green eyes gazed at him lovingly.
“I don’t mind.” He felt like he was on cloud nine. He pulled down the bandages from his mouth and pulled her in for another kiss. She melted into his kiss.
They were both glad to have joined the demon slaying corps for they found each other. All the painful scars of the past no longer bothered them as they looked forward to the future they have together.
Chapter 3: Kochou Shinobu's Confession
The moon was shining bright. Deep in the forest Kyoujurou was fighting off a lower demon that had been specifically seducing men to consume them.
"I won't let you consume anymore humans!" he said enthusiastically.
"I love your energy. I can tell how strong you are. Oh yes, such a fine man you are! I want to consume you so badly!" She launched an attack straight at him. Kyoujurou was able to cut off her attacks with his sword. "I see you're shy but let's see if you can withstand the temptation." She started singing. Her voice was as sweet as honey. Like a siren, she used her beauty and voice to lure in men. This one is definitely in the bag. Kyoujurou charged towards her. "Yes! Come to me!" She opened her arms wide. Within a flash he was out of her field of vision. "Huh?" He had sliced her neck. How could it be?! No human has been able to resist my temptation. This man he really!
"You have a wonderful voice I'll admit that! That voice of yours wasn't enough to capture my heart though!"
She watched him in awe as her body turned to ash. "If only I had a man like you when I was human. Surely...surely I wouldn't have turned out like this…" The wind carried her ashes away.
Kyoujurou sheathed his sword. "Another success!" The news of Kyoujuro defeating a lower moon quickly spread to the pillars and Kagaya.
"As expected of Kyoujurou. What a fine child he is. Make sure that Shinobu takes a look at him even if he doesn't have any injuries. He's been fighting hard," Kagaya instructed to his eldest daughter.
A kakushi brought Kyoujurou back to the Butterfly Estate like Kagaya instructed. He was put to bed, waiting to be examined by Shinobu.
"Rengoku-san you're back again~ You've been going on a lot of missions." Shinobu sat down next to him.
"Kochou! Sorry to be bothering you again! I heard it was Oyakata-sama's orders to bring me here! I'm okay so if you'll give me the okay to leave!"
"I'm sorry Rengoku-san but I won't allow you to leave until you've rested." Shinobu recalled the conversation she had with Kagaya moments ago.
Shinobu was in her room when she was called by Kagaya. She went to the Ubuyashiki estate. She kneeled on one knee and bowed her head before him. "Have you called for me Oyakata-sama?"
"Come sit Shinobu."
Shinobu sat across from him and on her knees.
"I've called you to talk to you about Kyoujurou. Tell me Shinobu, what do you think of him."
"Rengoku-san is a very encouraging, energetic and cheerful person. He doesn't let anything bring him down and always gives everything his all."
"Yes he is that kind of child. He barely takes proper time to rest even when he has gotten injured. I'm afraid that he isn't taking care of his body properly."
"I have noticed that with Rengoku-san as well. He concerns me the most because I know how hyped he can get for missions. I worry that he drives his body too hard."
Kagaya smiled. "Then Shinobu can I leave Kyoujurou in your hands? There's no one but you who I can leave him to."
Shinobu bowed her head. "Please leave him to me."
"Thank you Shinobu."
Suddenly an influx of lower ranked demon slayers were brought into the room. They were able to put each one into a bed except one.
"Come take this bed!" Kyoujurou stepped out of bed and offered it to the injured member.
"I can't take your spot, Rengoku-san…" the member said.
"Save your energy boy! Getting you back to full health is priority!"
"Same could be said of you Rengoku-san~ I need to you to rest or else I won't allow you to leave," Shinobu said with a smile.
"I can rest at home! Plus there are no more beds here!"
A vein popped on her forehead. As if you'll rest at home. You're not going to get away Rengoku-san. "Come please follow me Rengoku-san. Aoi, Sumi, Naho, Kiyo please look after everyone~"
Shinobu lead Kyoujurou to the private part of the estate. Only the residents of the estate and Mitsuri were the ones able to go back and forth freely. She brought him to a room. The room had many bookshelves filled with books and a small table. "Please rest here Rengoku-san."
"This is a wonderful room! Is this your room Kochou?"
"I could never barge into a lady's room like this! I'm sorry but I can't rest in here!"
He's so stubborn! "Rengoku-san, please rest here." Internally she started to get irritated. Calm down Shinobu. Calm down.
"Alright, alright! Kochou you win!"
"Thank you." Shinobu opened her closet door to lay out a futon for him. Kyoujuro took the futon from her hands.
"I'll go lay this out and rest as you instructed! You must be really busy with so many injured members! Don't mind me and help them out!"
Rengoku-san is always considerate of others. "You're really going to rest here, right?"
"You have my word!"
"Very well. Please rest Rengoku-san. I'll come back soon to check up on you."
"Un! Thanks for all your hard work Kochou!"
Shinobu tended to the injured demon slayers. Once she finished, she came back to her room to check up on Kyoujurou. Rengoku-san better be there. She slid the door open and found him passed out. He listened. She kneeled down beside him and looked at him. “Please get some proper rest,” she whispered. Kyoujurou always stuck out to her not only for his positive energy but also because he was so diligent. It was beyond her how he was able to remain that way all the time. Surely he must’ve been hurt and lost a loved one too, so how? How is it that he was like this was a wonder to her. She got a book and sat down at her desk to start reading.
Kyoujurou opened his eyes after a good rest. “Man I feel refreshed! I should thank Kochou later!” He sat up and saw that Shinobu at fallen asleep at her desk. Kochou’s asleep! He carefully picked her up and laid her on the futon.
“Nee-san…” she mumbled for Kanae in her sleep.
It must still hurt Kochou. Kyoujurou remembered when they received the news that Kanae had been defeated by upper moon two. It was said that their fight was at a standstill until the sun started to rise. He placed the blanket over her and left the room.
Sun rays entered the room through the window indicating it was morning. Shinobu opened her eyes and noticed she was on the futon. She immediately sat up. “Rengoku-san!” She stepped out of her room and found him enthusiastically talking with the members who were in recovery.
Kyoujurou noticed Shinobu standing at the door. “Kochou are you awake?”
She was in disbelief. “Rengoku-san…”
“I wasn’t going to leave until I got the okay from you!”
"!" Kyoujurou listening to her made her feel respected. "Thank you Rengoku-san. How are you feeling?"
"I'm fully energized!"
Shinobu broke out into a genuine smile and laughed. "Rengoku-san you're always full of energy."
Kyoujurou was thrown off by that cute laughter of hers. He's heard her laugh before but not like this. "Kochou you're so cute when you giggle!"
Shinobu's eyes widened in shock from his remark. No man had ever been straightforward with her like this. "W-What are you saying?!"
"You're cute, you're cute!"
The members on the bed who were watching them all had the same thought. Please stop flirting in front of us. You're making us feel more lonely here.
"Please stop spewing nonsense and go eat breakfast!"
"Oh, breakfast is ready?" He turned to his underlings. "Did you guys eat already?"
"We did," they replied.
"What about you Kochou?" He looked at her.
"I'll eat a little later."
"That's no good! You should start off the day with a proper meal! Let's go!" He brought her along to breakfast.
After Kanae had passed, Shinobu took on her role as head. As long as she could remember, Kanae had always been there for her and taken care of her. Now that she had to take care of everyone else, she had forgotten how it felt to be taken care of. Kyoujurou sat her down first before sitting down. The table had some simple dishes, grilled fish, and two bowls of rice along with miso soup. Shinobu couldn't remember the last time she had a proper breakfast. Shinobu ate a little bit of breakfast before setting her chopsticks down. Kyoujurou saw the amount of food she had eaten. “Hm? Kochou are you not feeling well?”
“I’m feeling fine. Why do you ask?”
“You barely touched your food. You need to have a proper meal to start off the day strong!”
Shinobu smiled at him. “I don’t see the point in eating, it’s not like I gain extra strength.”
“I respectfully disagree! Food is key to build strength!”
Shinobu was surprised by his response. Suddenly she remembered what Kanae had said to her years ago.
Usually Shinobu helped Kanae prepare breakfast but today she overslept. Kanae didn’t wake her up because she wanted her to get some extra sleep. When Shinobu woke up, she bolted down to the dining room and saw that Kanae had already made breakfast for everyone. “Nee-san I’m so sorry!”
“Good morning Shinobu~ Don’t worry about it~” she said as she put the bowl of rice down.
"It's okay~" she replied with a smile. "Do you mind bringing everyone for breakfast?"
"Okay." Shinobu went to fetch the rest of the residents of the Butterfly Estate. They all entered the room.
"Good morning everyone~" Kanae gave each person a hug. "Let's have breakfast~"
Everyone sat down for breakfast. Once they finished eating, the girls offered to wash the dishes.
"It's okay~ You guys should go out and have some fun~" Kanae replied.
"You too Kanao~" She handed some money to Kanao. "Go buy yourselves some delicious snacks!" Kanao nodded. The girls went out to buy some snacks, leaving just Shinobu and Kanae in the room. Kanae started cleaning up the bowls and plates.
“Nee-san, I’ll clean up.”
“Shinobu~ You should finish your breakfast, it worries me when you don’t eat much. You need to eat to fight~”
Shinobu frowned. “What’s the point? I’m not going to get any bigger than this.”
“Shinobu the size of body doesn’t matter. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Even the biggest person has weaknesses. You just have to discover your own strong points. But before you do all that, you must eat well. Food is the beginning to building strength. Don't be so quick to hate your body. Your size might become an advantage to you~”
“Nee-san…” Shinobu was greatly encouraged by her sister’s words. She picked the chopsticks back up and ate another bite of rice.
“That’s the way to go Shinobu~” Kanae happily smiled at her. “I love you as you are~” she hugged her.
“Nee-san!” Shinobu blushed.
“Hahaha, I love you Shinobu~” The room was filled with Kanae’s gentle laughter.
Shinobu had to try her best to fight back tears upon remembering her dear sister. “Thank you for the meal.” She picked her chopsticks back up and continued to eat.
“That’s the way to go Kochou!” Kyoujuro said.
“!” Kyoujurou had re-ignited the encouragement within her. Thank you Rengoku-san. You made me realize something I had forgotten. They continued eating breakfast in peace. Kyoujurou ended up eating seven servings as Shinobu watched him eat.
“Thank you for the meal Kochou!”
“It’s no problem. Did you enjoy it?”
“Now that you’ve had breakfast, can you please follow me?” Kyoujurou followed Shinobu to the infirmary.
“Please sit down.” He sat down on the chair as he was told. Shinobu sat across from him. “When did you wake up yesterday?”
“In the middle of the night!”
“Did you get some more sleep afterwards?”
A vein popped on her face and she smiled. “Rengoku-san I’m pretty sure I told you to rest.”
“The girls were working hard so I couldn’t rest!”
“Rengoku-san, I appreciate your kindness but you need to rest.”
“They remind me of my younger brother so I wanted to help out!”
“Your brother would worry if he knew you weren’t getting proper rest, you know~”
“Oh! You’re right! Senjurou would worry hahaha!”
Shinobu internally sighed. “I suppose you kept your word getting rest. I’ll give you the approval to leave.”
“Thanks for taking care of me!” Kyoujurou said bye to everyone else and walked out of the estate proudly.
Shinobu watched him leave from her room. “I still worry about him.”
Weeks passed by since she had seen him. She often wondered how he was doing and whether he was getting proper sleep. Thankfully today all of the pillars were called for a meeting. When she came into the room she saw Mitsuri happily talking with Kyoujurou while Obanai was standing next to her. Mitsuri noticed Shinobu’s entrance.
“Shinobu-chan!” Mitsuri excitedly waved at her.
Shinobu smiled at her. “Mitsuri-san.” She walked over and greeted Obanai and Kyoujurou.
“Kochou how have you been?!” Kyoujurou asked.
“Hello Rengoku-san~ Have you been getting proper rest?” she asked while smiling.
“I sure have! My hours of sleep have increased to four!”
Anger started brewing behind her smile. To four? Only four?
“What about you Kochou?! Have you been eating properly?”
“! I...started eating a little more.” She avoided his eyes as she responded.
Mitsuri was listening to the conversation in bliss. Her best friend and her mentor were getting closer even without her help. So that’s why Shinobu-chan’s been eating a bit more! As expected of Rengoku-san~ He’s so reliable!
“That’s good! How about I take you out to eat after the meeting? I want to buy you something as a way to say thanks!”
“Shinobu-chan will go~” Mitsuri answered in her place.
“Oh sounds good! Kanroji do you want to come along too?”
“Thank you but I have to pass~ Iguro-san and I are going to go eat at a restaurant later. Right Iguro-san?” She turned to him.
“Yeah.” Kanroji you’re adorable as usual. Kaburamaru hissed. (What about me mistress?)
“You too Kaburamaru~” She patted his head.
After the pillar meeting, Kyoujurou and Shinobu were walking in town. It wasn’t Shinobu’s first time being alone with a pillar of the opposite gender but for some reason she felt something different being alone with him.
“There’s too many places to choose from. Kochou, you pick a place!”
“How about we go to that restaurant?” She pointed to the restaurant in between the produce store and accessory stall.
“Alright let’s go!” When they entered the place was packed with couples all over the place.
What kind of place is this?!
Kyoujurou didn’t even notice the couples. “There’s a lot of people here! This place must be tasty!”
“Welcome! Oh how cute you brought your little sister with you! How cute! How old are you?”
Shinobu already got pissed off. She was once reminded how much she hates her small body.
“She’s not my younger sister nor is she a little girl!”
“Oh! I’m so sorry!” She bowed her head.
Shinobu smiled at her. “It’s okay.”
“I’m so sorry I didn’t know you two were a couple! Please let me seat you right away!”
She looked at Kyoujurou who had no reaction when the waitress referred to them as a couple. Since he didn't correct her, she found no reason too either.
The waitress seated them down. “Today is a special day. It’s the anniversary of our owners. We have a special menu with a discount for couples. It’s called the love set. It comes with…” The waitress went on a lengthy explanation of the food that came in the set. “So will you order the set?”
“Kochou what do you think?” he asked Shinobu.
“I’m okay with the set. What about you Rengoku-san?”
“I’m okay with it! Two love sets please!”
“Sir I just explained all the food that comes with the set.”
“We understand, please give us two sets~” Shinobu said.
“A-Alright.” The waitress came back out with two love sets. It covered the entire table, the surface of the table couldn’t be seen. “Please enjoy the meal.”
“Thank you for the meal!” Kyoujurou immediately dug in. “Tasty! Kochou you should try the fried shrimp, it’s delicious!”
Shinobu tried the shrimp like he recommended. The crispy texture on the outside with the plump shrimp in the inside tasted delicious. “This is really good.” She never had fried shrimp this good before. Kyoujurou started piling the shrimp on her plate. “Rengoku-san what are you doing?”
Rengoku-san really is a caring person. Shinobu smiled. “I appreciate the thought but I couldn’t possibly eat this much.”
“Eat as much as you can! I’ll finish off all the rest!”
Kyoujurou paid the meal like he said he would. “Thank you for the meal Rengoku-san. I would like to pay for half of the meal.”
“Sorry but I can’t accept! This is my treat!”
There’s no beating Rengoku-san.
“Will you be going back to the estate?”
“I will. What about you Rengoku-san?”
“I’m going back home to see my younger brother!”
“I’ll walk you back!”
“Are you sure?!”
“Yes thank you for the offer.”
“Alright well this is where we part ways! See you next time Kochou! Make sure to take care of yourself!”
“Same could be said to you Rengoku-san~ Please get proper amount of sleep.”
“I’ll try!” He waved at her as he ran.
She waved back at him. Please look in front of you Rengoku-san. Once she was alone, instead of going back home like she said she would, she went to a secret location where she used to come with Kanae. The secret location had a stream of water flow by and many flowers growing. It was a calming place and she often came when she wanted time to herself. She sat down on the grass and leaned on the tree. “It was...nice to be with Rengoku-san. When I’m with him I feel like I can relax a bit. I don’t have to put up a front as much.” Orange butterfly weed growing on the grass caught her attention. She carefully touched the flower. The color of the flower reminded her of his eyes.
“Shinobu~ I wonder what kind of man you’ll marry in the future~” Kanae squealed while making a flower crown for her. “If you could meet a man who proudly exclaims his love for you, I wouldn’t ask for anything more~”
“Nee-san I’m never going to get married!”
Kanae gasped. “Eh?! Remember when you used to say you wanted to marry someone like tou-san. Someone who’s bright, kind, caring, and cheerful.”
“That’s...all in the past now.”
“What will you do when I get married then?”
“I’ll live alone.”
Kanae placed the finished flower crown on Shinobu’s head. “I would never let my adorable Shinobu live alone~ We’ll live together forever!”
“Your husband’s not going to like it!”
“If he loves me, he’ll surely welcome you with open arms~” Kanae hugged Shinobu. “Nee-san would be so happy if you could give love a chance when it finds you. Allow your heart to open up.”
Out of all the men she knew, Kyoujurou captured her attention. Sanemi was hot-blooded and harsh with his words, Tengen was obsessed with being flamboyant and had three wives, Giyuu came off as cold and emotionless, Obanai was quiet and head over heels for her best friend, Gyomei was her savior, and Muichirou was a kid. But Kyoujurou? He was warm and comfortable to be around. He was like a thick blanket that kept you warm even in the harshest of cold weather. The way he was honorable but also modest was amazing. Instead of bringing people down or not caring, he uplifted them. She admired his beautiful personality and mental strength. She knew for sure she couldn't do that. Sure she gave people smiles and talked in a relaxing voice but all of that was simply a mask. Each day it became harder to keep pretending. How much longer do I have to keep this up? She lost count of how many times she's asked herself that. To be honest she was getting tired of it. Looking at Kyoujurou inspired her to keep marching on forwards even when things got hard. There were four young girls she had to look after.
I've become interested in him. The more she thought about it, the more it made sense. She had developed feelings for him.
The next day she decided to pay Mitsuri a visit. There were some things she needed to discuss with her. Shinobu entered through the gates and saw Mitsuri bee keeping with Obanai. “Hello Mitsuri-san, Iguro-san~ I must’ve come at a bad time.”
They carefully closed the beehive. Mitsuri ran up to Shinobu to give her a hug. “Shinobu-chan welcome! You came at the perfect time!”
“Kochou you didn’t come at a bad time. I was just about to leave. I’ll be going now,” Obanai said. “See you Kanroji, Kochou.”
“Bye Iguro-san~” Mitsuri waved at him.
“See you next time Iguro-san.” Shinobu gave Mitsuri a small package. “I bought some sakura mochi.”
“You’re the best Shinobu-chan~ Come inside! Let’s eat these together~” Shinobu entered the house with Mitsuri and sat down at the table. Mitsuri brought out some tea for them. “One for you, one for me~” Mitsuri sat down across from Shinobu. “What brings you here so early Shinobu-chan?”
Shinobu wrapped her hands around the cup. She didn’t know how to approach this topic. “Mitsuri-san...how do you approach someone you like?”
“Someone you like?! Well for me I like to spend time with them and do things together!” Could it be…? “Shinobu-chan do you have someone you like?!”
“?!” Am I that obvious?
“It’s okay to like someone Shinobu-chan~ May I know who the lucky guy is?!”
“Well...he’s someone you know and you’re very close with.”
“No!” Mitsuri-san, Iguro-san is in love with you!
“Hm…” Her eyes lit up. “Could it be...Rengoku-san?!”
Shinobu avoided Mitsuri’s gaze. “Maybe…”
Mitsuri clasped her hands together. Rengoku-san and Shinobu-chan being lovers! I can picture it! “What do you like about Rengoku-san?”
“I like how kind, bright, and cheerful he is.”
“He just draws you in, doesn’t he?!” Shinobu nodded. "I'm cheering you on Shinobu-chan!"
"Wha-! I'm not going to confess to him or anything like that."
"Rengoku-san probably doesn't even see me that way. Besides I don't think either of us have the time to get involved with each other. I'm just going to forget about it."
Shinobu-chan… "It's true that we're busy as pillars and you take care of people on top but you shouldn't have to force yourself to forget it. Embrace these precious feelings Shinobu-chan."
"Don't take the short end of the stick Shinobu-chan! You're human, it's natural to have these feelings!"
Shinobu smiled at her. “Thank you Mitsuri-san.”
After chatting for a little bit, Shinobu had to return to the estate. Mitsuri saw her off. When she was alone she came up with an idea and decided to visit Kyoujurou. She ran over to Kyoujurou’s residence. It was the perfect timing as she saw him about to head out. “Rengoku-san!”
Kyoujurou turned around and saw Mitsuri running towards him. “Oh Kanroji! What brings you here?”
“Well there’s something I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Oh I see! Come follow me!” He brought her to his room. “So what is that you needed to talk about?”
“I have a question Rengoku-san. Do you have someone you like?”
“I like everyone!”
“I mean romantically.”
“Romantically? As in someone I’d take to be my wife?” Mitsuri nodded. “Well I’d like someone like Kochou!”
“Someone like Shinobu-chan really?!” Mitsuri was gleaming.
“May I ask what you like about her?”
“Well she’s good at taking care of people, kind, and cute! I want to take care of her and show her the beauty of life!”
“Show her the beauty of life?!”
“Well I can’t say I’m a hundred percent certain but I think Kochou conceals a lot of her true emotions underneath! I’m sure it’s related to Kanae’s death. It seems like she’s trying hard to fill in her shoes! As much as that is admirable it also makes me sad. I hope that I can be a reliable person to her! Lean on me when she needs to! Cry when she needs to! I believe that each life is precious and that we should live our lives to the fullest! I want her to know how precious her life is and that she shouldn’t have to restrict herself! I’m sure Kanae would’ve wanted that too!”
Rengoku-san you sure are an amazing person! “I’ll support you Rengoku-san!”
Kyoujurou was confused. “Hm? Support me?”
He didn’t know what Mitsuri was talking about but was nonetheless grateful. “Haha thanks!”
"Rengoku-san will you come meet me at the park next Thursday?!"
"Next Thursday? Sure I have time! Should I bring Senjurou too?"
"Please just come alone!"
"Alright!" Kyoujurou walked Mitsuri to the gates. "I'll see you at the park next Thursday! You said noon right?"
"Yes! I'll see you next Thursday!" They said their farewells. Mitsuri ran all the way back home and wrote a letter to Shinobu. She turned to her crow who was fidgeting. "I want you to deliver this to Shinobu-chan, okay?"
"K-Kaw! (C-Count on me!)" Mitsuri watched her crow fly until she couldn't see him anymore. About twenty minutes later he came back. "Kaw! (I've come back with a letter!)" He landed on the windowsill.
Mitsuri untied the letter from his ankle and opened it. Her face was beaming from Shinobu's response. "Alright! Looks like it's a date~"
The following Thursday came in a blink of an eye. Kyoujurou was sitting on a bench, waiting for Mitsuri to come. “Rengoku-san?”
Before his eyes was Shinobu. She wasn’t wearing the usual outfit and was in a simple yellow kimono. “Kochou! What brings you here?”
“Mitsuri-san called me out here. Did she do the same for you too?”
Shinobu sat next to him. I should’ve known she was up to something.
“I like your kimono Kochou! You look good in it!”
“Have you eaten anything yet?!”
“I did. What about you Rengoku-san?”
“I did also! Should we stop by a teahouse for some sweets?”
“That sounds good.” They walked into town in search of sweets.
“Kyou-Kyou?” a woman’s voice called out to Kyoujurou. They turned around and saw a young woman behind them. Instantly, Shinobu thought she was pretty. She was a lot taller than she was and had an elegant aura around her.
“Oh Mio! It’s been a long time!”
“Oh is this your girlfriend?” Mio asked.
“We’re not a couple,” Shinobu answered with a smile. What am I doing here? I don’t belong here. I shouldn’t have tried to pursue my feelings.
“I’m very sorry!” She bowed her head to Shinobu.
“It’s alright~ Well I should get going now. See you Rengoku-san~”
“Huh? Kochou wait!”
Shinobu didn’t bother to turn back. Inside she was boiling with anger. I’m so stupid! What was I thinking?!
“Sorry Mio, it was nice seeing you!” Kyoujurou ran after Shinobu. He spotted her and put his hand on her shoulder. “Kochou!”
Shinobu stopped as soon as she felt his hand on her shoulder. She turned her head to see him. “What is it Rengoku-san?”
“Why did you run off like that?”
“Ara~ I’m so sorry! I simply didn’t want to interfere the conversation.”
“You weren’t interfering anything!”
Please open your eyes Rengoku-san. “Ah is that so? That’s nice to know. Now I must take my leave.”
“Kochou why are you in a rush? Don’t you have some time?!”
“I’m pretty busy today. Now if you’ll excuse me~”
“But you just had some time right before!”
“Why are you coming after me after I stormed off?”
“Because I care about you!”
“Why do you care about me?” Is it because we’re friends? “!” Kyoujurou had wrapped his arms around her. She looked up at him and he was smiling at her.
“Because I like you,” his voice was gentle, opposite of his usual enthusiastic tone.
Her heart started pounding faster. She avoided his eyes. “What do you like about me? If it’s because I smile a lot and I talk in a gentle tone, then you’re in for a rude awakening.” I manifest a lot of anger inside of me. You wouldn’t like the real me.
“It must’ve been hard Kochou.”
“What do you mean?” I refuse to falter.
“I want to be there for you! It must be hard trying to hold everything together by yourself!”
“How are you so straightforward?” she murmured.
“What was that?”
“Nothing. Will you let go of me now?”
“Ah sorry!” He let go of her. “So how do you feel about me?!”
She looked back into his eyes. She remembered what Kanae and Mitsuri had told her.
“If it’s too sudden, I can wait! I can wait for all eternity if you need me to!”
Shinobu broke out into a small laughter. He did a really good job of making her laugh. “I wouldn’t make you wait that long.”
“I know but I’m saying I would if you wanted me to!”
I really like him. “I...like you too.” She wanted to keep her composure but she felt her face grow hot from admitting her feelings.
He lifted her up. “I like you too Kochou! Hahahaha!”
“What are you doing?!” She noticed people stopping and looking at them. “People are watching us Rengoku-san!”
“Are they?! Everyone this is my girlfriend!” he proudly exclaimed. Shinobu’s face grew redder. The people around them clapped and congratulated him. “I’m the luckiest man hahahaha!”
“Jeez!” Even though people were watching, there was a sincere grin on her face. Nee-san I decided to give love a chance like you said. If it’s with Rengoku-san, it’s worth the chance.
Chapter 4: Shinazugawa Sanemi's Confession
Gray clouds covered the sky. One drop, two drops, rain started falling down and soaked the ground. Sanemi was in front of a grave, holding a bouquet of flowers. Today marked the death of Kochou Kanae. There were flowers already on her grave. He assumed they were from the girls of the Butterfly Estate. He kneeled and placed the bouquet down next to theirs. Looking at her grave reminded him of his very first pillar meeting.
After his first pillar meeting finished, Sanemi remained to apologize for being disrespectful. “My deepest apologies Oyakata-sama,” he bowed his head to the ground.
“It’s alright, I understand. Lift up your head Sanemi.” Sanemi did as he was instructed. “I’ll be looking forward to your help.”
“I won’t let you down.” After he was released, he stepped out through the gates.
“Shinazugawa-san~” He turned and saw Kanae standing there.
“Are you free for the rest of the day?”
“No.” He started walking. Kanae ran up to him and walked alongside him. “What do you want?”
“I want to know when you have time~”
“To throw a welcome party for you~”
“I don’t need one. I’m not here to make friends. Now leave me alone.” Sanemi went into his new residence. Life felt empty without Masachika. He took out the letter that was left for him. “Masachika-san…” When he heard how he reminded Masachika of his lost brother, he was reminded of Genya. “Genya, I hope you’re living a normal life. ‘Nemi’s going to kill all the demons so that they won’t harm you.”
“Heh. You were some odd woman. Always so cheerful and carefree. Me brushing you off didn’t stop you from approaching me again.”
After defeating another lower moon, the kakushi brought him to the Butterfly Estate.
“Lay him down on the bed!” Shinobu instructed the kakashi.
It’s the younger sister. I wonder where the older one is. Right as he thought that, Kanae popped her head through the door. “Shinazugawa-san~ Congratulations on defeating a lower moon~” She entered the room and sat beside him.
“Nee-san he needs to be treated.”
“Yes, yes~ Bring me the kit Shinobu~” Shinobu brought the first-aid kit to Kanae. “Thank you~ I’ll take things from here.” Shinobu was reluctant to leave Kanae alone with Sanemi because she knew how rough he was. In the end she left but decided to keep a close eye on them.
If he does anything to nee-san, I swear I’m going to barge in!
Kanae was happily humming as she started disinfecting his wound. Sanemi just watched her in silence.
This girl’s a weirdo. She always hums when she’s treating a patient. It reminded him of his mother humming. He didn’t hate it, matter of fact it soothed his heart. “Are you done?” He was growing impatient.
“Almost~” she said as she bandaged his arm. “There all done!” She finished it off with a knot. “Now, now Shinazugawa-san~”
The way he disrespects nee-san! A vein popped on Shinobu’s face.
“Let’s hold that welcome party~”
“Hah?! Hell no. I’m busy.”
“Eh~ How are you busy when you’re supposed to be resting?” Kanae put her finger on her chin.
“Then why are you trying to hold a party for an injured patient?!”
“You’re going to get better faster~ A party will make you feel better! Oh! I have to go invite everyone. Pardon me Shinazugawa-san~” She skipped out of the room.
“What is wrong with her?”
Kanae came back within a second because she forgot to ask Sanemi a question.
“Why are you here again?” Sanemi asked.
“I forgot to ask you a question~ What’s your favorite food?”
“I don’t have any.”
“Ah, is that so? Well I hope you rest well!” She gave him a smile.
“Why does she smile so much?” Though it isn’t an ugly one.
The next evening Sanemi was blindfolded and being led somewhere by Kanae. “Oi, what do you think you’re doing?!”
“We’re almost there~” she replied in her sweet voice. After walking a little bit more they came to a halt. Kanae took the blindfold off of him. "Tada~"
In front of him all the pillars had gathered. There was a table full of food and a sign that read, "Congratulations Shinazugawa-san~" He could tell that Kanae had made the sign. She seated him in the middle.
"Alright everyone let's congratulate the newest addition~ Shinazugawa-san the wind pillar!"
The pillars gave him their official welcome to him. “I’d like to thank everyone for taking time to come to the party today~” Kanae said.
“How could we say no when you worked so hard Kanae-san!” Kyoujurou said.
She put all of this together alone?
“Now, now~ Let’s eat everyone~”
“Thank you for the meal!” the pillars, mostly Kyoujurou, shouted. While everyone was busy eating, Sanemi turned to Kanae who was happily eating. She noticed that he was looking and offered him an ohagi.
“!” Did she find out that I like ohagi? By who? No one here knows me.
"I found out from Kumeno-san," she whispered.
"He would always talk about you, you know."
There was no way he could reject the ohagi. Rejecting it would feel like he was rejecting his former friend. He took the ohagi from her hand and took a bite. "It's not inedible."
"Hehe thank you~"
This woman…isn't that bad. "You're one strange woman."
Kanae smiled at him because when he said that, there was a smile on his face. "What was that Shinazugawa-san? Say it one more time~"
“Hell no! I’m not repeating myself!”
“But I couldn’t hear you…” She made a sad face.
“Tch, I said you’re a strange one.”
She beamed at him. “Just kidding! I just wanted to hear you say it again. Hehe~”
A vein popped on his face. “This woman.” After the party the pillars offered Kanae to help but she told them that it was okay. Everyone but Sanemi left. “I’ll help out.”
“It’s alright~ You should go rest up.”
“Let me pay you back for the party and ohagi this way.”
Shinazugawa-san you are a softie underneath~ “I’ll take you up on your offer then.” The two cleaned the place. They were sitting and looking at the moon. “Shinazugawa-san do you have any siblings?”
“Really? Kumeno-san said you did. Maybe he lied?” She tilted her head in thought.
Masachika-san...You talked about me too much. “I...was just joking.”
“Ah~ How many siblings do you have?”
“I had six.”
When she heard him say it in past tense, it hurt her heart. She only had Shinobu and Kanao as her younger siblings and she couldn’t imagine losing any of them. Without hesitation she gave him a hug. How heartbreaking it must’ve been.
“What are you doing?”
“Do you want me to stop?”
“I never said that.”
That evening under the moonlight, they stayed close to each other. Sanemi felt something fall onto his shoulder. He looked and saw that Kanae had fallen asleep. It was visible that she had shed tears for him. He touched her tear stained cheek. “Why waste your tears for someone like me? You are really one strange woman.”
“Ever since that night, my feet brought me to you every time. At some point I’ve fallen for that kindness of yours. You were something I couldn’t be to my siblings. To Genya. To outwardly be so affectionate to yours. I wanted to be like that but I couldn’t.” The rain slowly came to an end. His crow landed on his shoulder informing him of his next mission. “I’m off. I’ll come again next time.”
“Shinazugawa-san~ Have a safe trip!” Kanae’s cheery voice echoed. He turned his head around but of course she wasn’t there. Even though there was no one there, he could see that dumb smile of hers he found cute.
A smile curled on the edge of his lips. “I’ll be back.”