He must have left her an awful first impression. He did try to kill her upon their first meeting, holding her still by her kimono's collar while she growled and tried to get away from him. Giyu didn't regret that. He was only doing his duty as a demon slayer and a sworn Hashira. And yet.
As his feet landed soundlessly on the ground with his haori bellowing behind him, he felt quick vibrations in the air. Narrowing his eyes into slits, he looked around and gripped his sword in his side.
There was no way a demon could infiltrate their headquarters but it was best to be vigilant. Anything could happen. He looked up back at his shoulders to see if Shinobu was still sitting on the roof but it appeared she departed before him. His stony facade hardened as he saw a dark figure hopped from the fence to the trees.
His eyes widened as he realized who it was. "Nezuko?"
He sprinted to chase after her. The girl turned to look behind her and saw him gaining distance. Nezuko growled at him. He was surprised to see she was wearing the muzzle he had given years ago. She hadn't worn it for days.
"Stop right there, Kamado-san!" He said. "Or I will have no choice but to restrain and take you back."
Her lithe figure twisted to scowl at him as if to challenge him. Her stance was shouting at him, 'Try me'. She was restless and her fingers kept twitching.
His eyes widened as though seeing her for the first time. "Where do you think you're going?" He inquired in an icy tone. "Hunting?"
She shook her head furiously, her dark tresses swaying over her face as she denied his accusation. The girl looked fairly hurt. She was in her demon form and looked aggressive although Giyu could clearly her aggravation was not directed at him but at something beyond her control. He knew she wanted to look for Tanjiro. "Breathe in." He said stoically. "Miss Kamado, be rational about this. I'm telling you right now that your brother Tanjiro is in the right hands." He half-lied. "It is futile to go after him."
Nezuko clenched her fists, washing away her worry, and looked anywhere but him.
"I'm impressed. You managed to escape Shinobu-san's mansion."
The girl returned gazing at him and nodded her head a bit, confirming his statement. Giyu took several steps towards her before they finally stood face to face. He stopped his breath from hitching. He stood a head taller than her, towering her slender form. She had to crane her head to look at him better and he was caught off guard by how she looked up at him innocently, how the shadows of her long lashes brushed her pale cheeks and made her look like the sakura's nymph.
She was still silent aside from the start small breaths she was making through her nostrils. Giyu cleared his throat and motioned back to the path. "Shall we?"
Nezuko looked longingly at the path headed South. Her pink gaze looking in between the path and him. She frowned at him before turning on her heel and lead the way back. Giyu's brows raised.
"Ah, it appears you've found Nezuko-chan." Said Shinobu brightly.
"We are simply taking a stroll, Shinobu-san." Giyu replied flatly. "Would you like to join us?"
"In the middle of the night?" Shinobu asked in amusement. "I thought after saying good bye you had gone to bed."
"Kamado-san was taking a walk alone when I found her."
The woman hummed though not appearing convinced. Giyu swerved his eyes to look at Nezuko who blinked drowsily. He caught her body before she fell asleep on the cold forest floor. Shinobu giggled and jerked her head to the mansion. "How lovely. Come."
He left immediately as soon as he laid down the girl on the bed. He couldn't erase from his mind the changes the girl had taken over the years they've been acquainted with each other. For one, he realized she was no longer a child — she was seventeen — and second, she was every bit the lady she should be referred as. Guiltily, he subconsciously called her 'the girl' or Tanjiro's kid sister despite having romantic feelings for her.
Damn, he's disgusted with himself.
Giyu also became conscious of the fact that Nezuko was still afraid of biting someone if she lost control. Hence, the bamboo muzzle. He didn't doubt her self-control, for the gods' sake, she walked amongst them in broad day light, but she wore the muzzle for protection against herself. Otherwise, they would be sentenced. He trusted the siblings. He had witnessed their bond for years and the boy who he was mentoring was a kindred soul. The same went to Nezuko.
"Several Kinotos are being sent South." Said Himejima-san. "I believe the situation there is getting serious. It'd be not long before we are told to aid the corps."
"A kizuki?" Asked Mitsuri curiously.
"No, just too many demon dwellers. There's a swarm of them, I've been told." Replied the stocky Hashira.
"If the Kinotos have been deployed, what of the lower ranking ones?"
There was silence for a second. "We haven't heard of our students for five days now." Shinobu interjected, buttering her bread calmly. "But the crows assure us that our Hinoes are doing well. Let us not ruin the morning and our appetites. Settle down and eat."
Sanemi-grumbled, "This issue has been overlooked far enough. I say we should supervise the eligibility of the kids before letting them enter the Final Selection. Who did they train under? What are their achievements? What are they capable of?" He hissed. "Even half of the Mizunotos can't do a damn thing against common demons."
"What a plan! How flamboyant it would—"
"Not now, Sanemi-san." Shinobu smiled cheerfully. Sanemi huffed before deflating. Not even he wanted to get on Shinobu's bad side.
"Good morning." Bowed Giyu as he entered the breakfast hall. The Water Hashira looked exhausted and there was an unhealthy pallor in his face. The eight of them stared at the enigmatic man before resuming their conversation.
"Giyu-san." Beside him, Mitsuri asked concernedly. "Are you alright? Would you like a cup of tea?"
"No, it's alright, Mitsuri-san. Thank you for the offer."
She nodded and smiled at him earnestly. He looked up to see Shinobu raising her brow at him questioningly. "What?"
"I have a mission today." She said.
"What does that have to do with me?" He asked impatiently.
"Well, I was hoping you accompany Nezuko-chan while I'm gone." She took a bite off her buttered bread. "While I'm sure the others could handle her just fine, I'll be more comforted that she's in familiar hands."
"Are you implying you liked me better than the rest?" He asked archly.
"As a sitter." She amended. "Just walk with her. Tell her stories."
"You treat her as if she were a child." Giyu said accusingly.
"I treat her like I would a younger sister." She retorted. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to prepare."
"You are quite the Machiavellian." Giyu gritted out, shaking his head. She knows what I feel about the girl and she's making it difficult for me. Shinobu simply beamed at him and exited the room.
All he wanted to do the afternoon was spend it quietly in the library and meditate. Now he was tasked to watch over his mentee's sister who, more or less, tend to act like no one's in the same room as she and do all sorts of absurdity — everyone found it adorable — such as laying on the floor with her legs raised and humming, sliding on the floor as though she was impersonating a mop, and just sitting on the floor doing nothing. Was this how she coped with boredom? Oh, Giyu's certainly fixing that. He was not a man of recreation but at least he knew how to spend his time.
"Kamado-san." He greeted the girl as he stepped inside the threshold. Nezuko bowed and blinked at him expectantly. "Did Shinobu-san tell you that I'll be watching over you?"
Nezuko nodded. She was wearing a lavender colored kimono and he suspected Shinobu must have lent or given it to her. Her hair, as always, was loose and curled down her thigh. Giyu coughed as he realized she caught him staring. "Shall we head down the library?"
She didn't answer and quietly followed him in the library. He wondered if Tanjiro would ever be successful in achieving his quest in turning Nezuko back into a human. The boy had been promoted into a Hinoe after 3 years under Giyu's tutelage and his task of slaying and taking blood from demons closes to Kibutsuji was proving difficult. It would be years before it would be achieved. Perhaps, never.
Giyu gingerly took a seat when he finally picked several books to his liking. He looked up to see Nezuko staring down at him in confusion. He uncomfortably patted the space beside him. She shuffled and made herself comfortable.
"Now that we've accommodated ourselves," he said dryly. "Would you like to read?" A question which milliseconds later he found incredibly stupid. She looked at him in disbelief and amusement. As though her muzzle wasn't enough indication that she couldn't read. She examined the pile of books he had taken and held one.
"Who taught you to read?" Giyu asked, skimming a few pages of The Tale of Genji. "Tanjiro?"
She shook her head. "Self-taught? Your mother?" Two consecutive head shakes followed. "Your father?" She nodded.
Giyu tapped his fingers on the table. Here he was, sitting with the girl he liked and he couldn't even have a proper conversation with her. "Do you know how to write?"
She hummed and showed him two of her fingers; the thumb and forefinger, with a tiny space left between them. He bit the insides of his cheeks from smiling widely.
Grabbing the paper, brush, and the bowl of ink , she smiled brightly and wrote down rather clumsily, "Tomioka-sensei?" Her script was not as misshapen as he thought it was.
His brows arched, "Sensei?"
She scribbled down, "I am going to assume you'll be teaching me for the meantime."
"I'm not sure." He drawled. "Your kanji seems fine to me."
She looked thoughtful for a moment and then wrote, "Teach me Kanji and I'll teach you how to smile? I see a fair bargain." Nezuko looked at him cheekily. Giyu forced his facial muscles to stay firm.
"That is not funny." His lips twitched. Dear gods, she just teased him. "But I'll tutor you for a while. If I'm not preoccupied that is."
Nezuko nodded eagerly.
NOTE: I'm posting my GiyuNezu fics on ao3. You can find my fics under DreamOfStarsAndRoses. hehe cheerio!