He remembers the words of his Master on how he must never waver. How he should be as still as the surface of the water. Unmoved, unphased, yet calm and gentle. Heart steady like the water’s reflection; clear, transparent, with a smoothness that never startles. He must be calm, gentle, steady, and strong to become the next Water Pillar. For whoever wields the Water Breathing technique must never waver.
But he hesitates, again, that night. Heart thundering against his chest, breath caught up in his lungs, eyes watering heavily as he weakly fights against this monster stronger than him.
No, he pleads towards the cloudless sky that shows him no mercy,
No, he whispers as he falls back into his cluttered state of mind,
No, he cries as he feels fangs pierce through his neck, skin torn, blood gushing.
He lost the very moment he hesitated, the very moment his heart stopped for that whole entire second, the very moment he felt his feet freeze in its place, the very moment he relinquished his grasp on his blade.
He lost the very moment he set his eyes on him and saw the maddening hunger in those violet slitted eyes.
The warped demon scrutinized Sabito and gave a sickeningly sweet smile to both of them, “Rather than dying, I wonder how would that Urokodaki Sakonji react if one of his children turned into the very things he kill… wouldn’t that be interesting to know, dear fox children?” he cackles loudly as Giyuu watches the demon plunge his many hands into Sabito’s chest.
Giyuu screams as Sabito chokes over his own blood.
The demon laughs and throws Sabito aside, Giyuu scrambles towards him.
He doesn’t know how long he stayed kneeling before him, breath ragged, eyes sore from crying.
He stays still as he watches Sabito comes back to life.
He gasps as Sabito’s body stitched itself back together, the ghastly void disappearing as if it were never there in the first place. He finds himself breathing again as Sabito’s chest fills up with air, his heart beating erratically against his chest as Sabito opens his eyes. It doesn’t take away the blood pooling around their bodies, or brings color back to his face, but something’s happening, and—and he recognizes that look with dread,
He imagines that the warmth he feels against him is a river. Drifting him away, dragging him under. Never reaching the other side of the river for with this sin he shall now die with, he’s undeserving of reaching a happier ending. He welcomes this heavy feeling and grasp tightly to it, never letting go. He dreams of being washed away towards the sea and into turbulent waters he goes...
He wakes up to the dawn of a new morning.
He drowns in his own wails of anguish.
Tomioka Giyuu passes the Final Selection, not simply because he survived throughout the duration of the trial, but because he’s the only human left standing on that mountain.
His eyes meet Oyakata-sama’s as the man welcomes him as the new Water Pillar. He wants to refuse, he wants to say no, he’s undeserving and does not, cannot do what this man asks of him. But those blind eyes seem to see through him. And it hits him that he knows, somehow, he doesn’t know how , but he does somehow .
Oyakata-sama smiles at him sadly.
But this man is not stopping him.
Tomioka Giyuu knows that he’s undeserving of the title he’s bestowed with, but if this is what it takes… He shall take this on.
He doesn’t return to the house at the foot of the mountain.
He doesn’t answer the numerous letters that are sent to him.
He doesn’t avoid the man he loved like a Father, but he also doesn’t make the effort to meet up with him.
Then he meets the Kamado siblings and he wavers yet again. But he knows these two are different, knows that they just are .
He tells them to head off to the mountain he once loved and to the care of a man he considers as his father… Should he ever take them in, should they survive, he’ll be grateful.
Truly, he feels like a hypocrite.
He wonders if Shinobu knows about it somehow, with how she’s been acting. Her knowing gazes and her light jabs from the mission with the Matagi. But she doesn’t ask and he in turn doesn’t speak about it.
They’re friends like that with unspoken burdens.
He thinks of nothing as he sheds his haori , settling it aside. Thinks of nothing as he bares his neck, showing his scar that will never truly heal.
“I’m back,” he gently whispers and violet eyes alight at him.
Sabito greets back in his own quiet way, soundlessly approaching and resting his forehead against him. Eyes scrunched closed, they share a breath. Giyuu takes off the mouthpiece and Sabito cracks his jaw. They gaze into each other’s eyes in a silent stare down. It's a plea. It's a challenge.
Kill me, one says.
Make me, replies the other.
Silent they both remain.
And it's a losing battle for the two of them. In the end, they compromise for Sabito can't live without Giyuu, and Giyuu can't live without Sabito.
“I’m sorry,” Sabito bares his fangs and Giyuu gives in, envelops him in a warmth Sabito sobs into.
It’s a pain he’s accustomed to, a pain he’s lived with for the past eight years, a pain he’ll continue to happily endure for the rest of his life.
Despite what Sabito has become…
Giyuu, he too like that Kamado brother refuses to let Sabito go.
He won’t lose anyone he loves any longer.
He thinks about the time when Urokodaki Sakonji liken him to a lake high up on a mountain and Sabito to river on its way to the sea. He remembers how neither of them agreed to that. Although perhaps, a long time ago that comparison may have been true, but now he’s the raging river rapids and Sabito’s the cold still lake; Giyuu always angry at the world he lives in and Sabito never changing yet stagnating as time goes on.
They live at the fringes of each other's worlds; a demon and a demon slayer together...
He’ll be really grateful if Urokodaki Sakonji welcomes them into his home.