Trigger warnings for the following: Suicidal thoughts; Emotional Abuse; Emotional Torture; Torture; Kidnapping; Psychopathy; Sadism; and general Muzanness... yes, that's a word. Also, more blood than I normally like... so yeah.
Tanjiro's head swam. He hated it here. So much. Huge, empty spaces, rooms with shoji doors and tatami mats and… nothing else. His hands stuck in something creeping up his entire arm to his elbows that would not break… Darkness everywhere…
The walls seemed to close in on him… but he couldn't break free. He wanted to. So badly… But Muzan caught up with him every time . He couldn't die either. He'd tried… it hadn't worked. He didn't have his nichirin blade, or access to the sun… And he was so hungry… but the demon lord wouldn't let him sleep. Muzan, after all, didn't need to sleep. He just sat there, silently smirking as Tanjiro nodded off, only to poke him or prod him, or slice off his arm again and again, capturing it once it grew back and…
He was losing himself. He could sense it. It became harder and harder to ignore the pain in his stomach. It never left him alone. Usually he could distract himself, but now, he had so little to do or see, so the pain kept growing, the gnawing kept grinding, the hunger kept pressing him to eat, eat, EAT!
What about Nezuko? Was she alright? Was she a demon too? He thought so… he remembered her being a demon. Did Nezuko have this problem? She'd already slept so much, though. For two years, she slept. Tanjiro had only just been turned… and again, Muzan wouldn't let him sleep. Was this torture? Or an experiment? Both? Somehow, he struck Tanjiro as being just that cruel to explain either one.
He took a deep breath and started back at one again, counting each lung-full of air, pushing himself back to the constant concentration sun breathing style. He wanted that to help him somehow. And it did… just not quickly enough. He could sense that too.
He didn't want to admit, even to himself, how much that thought scared him.
"How long do you think you can keep this up, little one?" Muzan asked. His voice sounded healthy and full and so, so amused.
Tanjiro took a breath. "As—" he cut off as his throat fell into a growl.
Muzan laughed cruelly.
"As long as it takes," Tanjiro tried again, forcing his voice to work. He didn't know what to do, but he would do something. He couldn't cut off and regrow limbs. That would take too much effort and energy – would just make the gnawing worse. He'd already tried to escape, multiple times. Each time, he lost more and more energy fighting. Now he had to use all of his concentration to keep the hunger at bay. If he tried to escape now and failed, he wouldn't be able to hold back next time… so he couldn't try again… not right now. Or… or could he?
Ugh, the smell of blood fogged his senses, making it so hard to think. He opened his eyes again (when had they fallen shut) to see a plate of foo—meat in front of him. Human meat. When had that gotten there? And why couldn't he take his eyes off of it. He felt drool drip down his chin and tried to stop it, but it just kept coming.
Muzan laughed again. He was standing in front of Tanjiro, holding a plate of his own. When had he gotten there?
"Do you want some? It is a rather good meal, I must say."
Tanjiro grit his teeth. He bit back another threatening growl, or tried to. He couldn't seem to keep it completely back. Turning his head away, he took a deep breath, forcing himself to swallow while doing his best to ignore the smell of iron in the air.
Then, suddenly, the smell got closer. Tanjiro's head turned back around without his permission. He reeled back from the hand holding a lump in front of him, dripping red.
"Just a bite and I'll let you go…"
Tanjiro swallowed and shook his head. "No."
Tanjiro hated himself for hesitating. "Because people's lives are precious! People deserve to live them! You have no right to take that from them!" His speech faded into a hungry growl and he looked away.
"Oh, so articulate? So suddenly too. What is it, I wonder." He came even closer, dragging a hand down the side of Tanjiro's face almost lovingly. He tried to flinch away, but something kept him rooted in place.
"You hurt people – kill them for –" his voice failed him again, his throat felt so dry and his eyes wandered to the meat just in front of him. "For food…" he shook his head. "But you could get food other ways! People die all the time!"
What was he saying?! Was he talking about desecrating graves? The very idea made his stomach turn. Then it hurt and he gagged. Had he fallen so far already? How long had he been here?
"You can't keep this up forever," Muzan commented, still sounding so amused.
He was right. Tanjiro knew it.
"Just let me sleep," he said, practically begging.
"If you sleep, you die," Muzan replied matter-of-factly. "Another demon will kill you. That's why sleeping demons never survive."
"Nezuko did," Tanjiro shot back.
Muzan blinked, then frowned. "Who?"
"My sister." He wanted to yell and scream more, remind him of the girl who had had so much life in front of her, and he'd taken that from her too!
The dark-haired demon sat back, one eyebrow raised. "The one I killed?"
The world around him froze.
She… she was dead?
He'd… killed her?
Something began to boil in his gut… a rage he'd never felt before. But he quashed it down. He couldn't lose control, not right now.
"Liar," he rasped.
Muzan didn't respond, just smiling and holding up his hand that had blood dripping from the raw meat. In front of Tanjiro, who couldn't seem to move his eyes away for some reason, he licked it.
The drool in Tanjiro's mouth seemed to double and he struggled to make his throat work.
"If…" he started, trying to make his voice less harsh and guttural, "if you want me to eat so much, why," he swallowed again. It didn't help much. "Why don't you just force-feed me?"
He hadn't wanted to give Muzan ideas, but he couldn't think of anything else to say that wouldn't ignite his blood or focus on the food.
He had to believe Nezuko was okay.
He had to.
"Oh, Tanjiro-kun," Muzan said, bringing the hand to the side of his face again, except it was the one with the meat in it. No… no…. Don't lick it… "If you don't choose to eat, then it's pointless."
Because it wouldn't break him.
Tanjiro swallowed, doing his best to draw his mind away from the stickiness on the side of his face… just below his mouth…
"I… would rather… die…" he forced himself to say.
"But you have already," Muzan pointed out. "Multiple times. Were you still human, you wouldn't be here right now."
Tanjiro felt himself growl again and pulled at the… whatever it was keeping his arms and legs trapped behind him. It didn't help.
"Too bad you don't have enough energy for a demon blood art…" the older demon mused, licking the blood from the side of his hand again. "Newly turned as you are. I wonder what it will be? And how can I use it to further my goals?"
"I'll… never help… you," Tanjiro gasped.
The other demon watched him for several seconds. "Hmm… perhaps you're right. You don't need to choose the first bite now, do you."
Before that could register in his mind, the hand in front of him moved, the other hand grabbing his jaw and forcing down. His mouth opened and the substance – that smelled and tasted so, SO good – slid over his tongue. Tanjiro's eyes widened and he tried to make himself spit it out. He tried… but his body wouldn't obey him! He felt his jaw move and before he knew it, he had nothing else to chew.
He realized, suddenly, that his hands were free and scrambled at the plate that had been set before him. He was half-way through it before his mind caught up with him and he spit what was in his mouth away, banishing from his mind how good it tasted, throwing the whole thing back and scrambling away.
Tears came to his eyes as he stared at his bloody, clawed hands.
"No…" he whispered in horror.
Then he felt a hand on his head, gently patting it and running through his hair.
"There you go… good job, Tanjiro… my new moon."
The hand blurred.
His eyes burned.
Thanks to TimeLordTim for all the help with this!
So, I've read a couple of stories where Tanjiro gets captured by Muzan, but few seem to take it as seriously as I think it would go... it frustrated me, so I ended up writing this... and then felt like I kicked a puppy. WHY DID I HAVE TO TORTURE THE CINNAMON ROLL?! WHYYYYYY?!
Bet you'll never look at stories where he's one of the Moons the same way... (which, admittedly, was kind of the point...)
I really did try to keep the blood and gore in this to a minimum...