“Nezuko.” Tanjirou tried to reach out to her. She growled at him, slapping his hand away.
Tanjirou frowned at his little sister. Even though she didn’t feel the cold acutely like the human body, Tanjirou was still worried for her. He had tried to hug her but she refused. He wanted to comfort her since he smelled her concern for him. He was getting colder as the temperature started to drop lower. Tanjirou was aware that hugging her would make him lose more heat. The howling wind outside the hut got louder and louder as the hours passing by. It must be turning into a blizzard outside there.
Earlier on, Tanjirou had caught the scent of a demon. He suspected it was a stray demon and had tried to follow it, but the snow had started to fall faster and it gradually turned into a snowstorm as he tried tracking back to Zenitsu and Inosuke. Luckily Tanjirou had found a tiny hut that was used by hunters. He’s not really worried for the two boys as he left them in the village while he went to the forest to search for clues of the demon’s whereabouts. He hoped they found an inn or someone kind enough to offer their house for the boys to stay.
Suddenly there was a loud rattling sound at the door as if someone tried to open it with force. Tanjirou immediately grabbed his sword. It smelled of human so at least he didn’t need to worry to fight a demon. But it still could be anyone, a lost hunter or someone with an ill-intention like a bandit.
His heart thundered in his chest. He calmed himself down to prepare himself with whoever was coming. The door was slammed open and a familiar figure was standing there.
“Tomioka-san!” He clutched his chest, finally able to relax as his heartbeat started to slow down.
The Water Pillar was staring at him with a stoic expression but Tanjirou could smell his surprise to see him and Nezuko there. He quickly stepped inside the hut and shut the door close. He had snows clinging all over himself. There was the smell of blood from his sword and Tanjirou immediately knew that the demon he had been tracking earlier on had been slain by Tomioka. At least he didn’t need to worry of a demon attacking them right in the middle of a blizzard.
Tomioka didn’t go further inside and instead, stomped his boots and brushed away the rest of the snow that was clinging to his hair and his clothes.
Once he’s sufficiently free of snow, Tomioka greeted him, “Kamado.” He turned his gaze to Nezuko and nodded at her. This gesture always warmed him because not many of the Pillars would make the effort to greet his little sister. Well, Tomioka had always been different from the rest. Nezuko waved back at Tomioka before she returned to whatever that had caught her attention on the wooden floor before the arrival of the other man.
“Were you on a case around here?” he asked Tomioka, his heart started racing for another reason; He was rarely alone with Tomioka. But this time, they’re in a close space together and it made Tanjirou more aware of his feelings for the other man. He wasn’t certain since when Tomioka Giyuu had taken root in his heart but when he finally noticed it, it was already too late as his affection for the other man had bloomed into something precious.
Since their reunion in Natagumo Mountain and Tomioka had laid his own life for the Kamado siblings in front of all the Pillars and Ubuyashiki, they had come across each other a few times. They would exchange a few pleasantries or mostly Tanjirou would be the one doing most of the talking while Tomioka just nodded and hummed in response. He didn’t mind the other’s silence as he knew Tomioka would only talk when he deemed it to be necessary.
But Tanjirou could smell the growing fondness from the man as they kept encountering each other. Once, he had caught the man gazing at him with gentle eyes and a tiny lift at one corner of his lips. It had made Tanjirou just a little more smitten with him.
“I’m on my way to a town not far from here. It’s just going to be a short mission,” he replied. His gaze fixed longingly on the fire pit that was in the middle of the hut.
Tanjirou gestured at him with his head to come further inside. He watched the man sat close to the fire pit where a small campfire had been set up. Tanjirou hung his sword back to his belt and sat right next to him, their shoulders brushed. Tomioka’s gaze turned to him. There was something in those bright blue eyes which caused Tanjirou to smile shyly. He watched his blue eyes dropped to his mouth before his gaze flickered back to the fire. His heart stuttered; he wondered if he had imagined that.
They sat like that for a while. The air between them was slightly awkward so Tanjirou tried to break the silence. “Uh- I think the hunters who came here before us had used most of the wood. So I was only able to make a small fire.”
“I hope this could last us until dawn,” Tomioka said, and Tanjirou was suddenly worried if the snowstorm would continue on until the next morning. He hoped it wouldn't come to that. He glanced at Nezuko who was laying on her stomach with her two feet swinging in the air. She was distracted with whatever she’s drawing on the dusty wooden floor. At least Nezuko would be okay in this cold condition.
Tanjirou blushed in embarrassment when his stomach was growling loudly. He only had some senbei crackers before heading off to the forest. A reddish-coloured onigiri was suddenly thrust under his nose.
He turned to Tomioka. “How about you? Do you have some for yourself?”
“I’m not hungry.”
Tanjirou offered, “Why don’t we share it.”
Before Tomioka could respond, Tanjirou took the onigiri and broke it into half. He handed the other piece to him and Tomioka reluctantly took it.
“Thank you for the food.” He bit on his food. The taste of saltiness and sourness with a tinge of sweetness from the umeboshi that were mixed together with the rice was so delicious that a moan unexpectedly escaped him. He dropped his face in embarrassment when he felt Tomioka’s gaze on him.
He took another bite and chewed his food silently as he noticed from the corner of his eyes that Tomioka was still staring at him, specifically at his mouth. Did he have some stray rice on him? He licked his lower lip. He’s not sure if he got any. He licked one more time, this time covering from his upper lip to his lower lip. He didn’t feel any rice over his mouth. He turned to look at Tomioka and their eyes met.
“Do I have something on my face?”
Tomioka immediately looked away and shook his head, his cheeks flushed beautifully. Tanjirou’s heart skipped a beat at such a lovely sight.
The air between them was still a little awkward but peaceful as they finished their onigiri. The night went on with the snowstorm kept raging outside the hut. It’s a miracle that this old tiny place was still standing. Eventually, he started to nod off as the sound of the howling wind and the crackling fire became more soothing in his ears.
When Tanjirou came into awareness, he then realised he had fallen asleep on the floor. He pulled his haori tighter around himself. It was colder than before. He found out the fire was already reduced to mere glowing embers. The howling of the wind had weakened to a gentle humming which was a sign of a dying snowstorm. The sun had not risen yet so it might still be a few hours before dawn.
He quickly sat up and searched for the raven-haired man, hoping he didn’t leave before saying goodbye to Tanjirou. He sighed in relief the moment his gaze landed on Tomioka. His eyes were shut close and he was sitting crossed legs with his back and head leaning against the wall. His arms were crossed on his chest and Tanjirou wondered if he was truly sleeping, what was he dreaming that made him look so peaceful and beautiful and soft. Tanjirou had the weirdest urge to crawl to him and-
His pulse started racing as all the blood in his body rushed towards his face. Tanjirou suddenly had an overwhelming desire to kiss Tomioka!
He flinched when he felt a poking sensation on one side of his heated cheek. He narrowed his eyes at Nezuko who poked him again with her finger. Luckily her sharp claw was shortened by her demonic power so she had no problem poking his cheek repeatedly without the risk of cutting his face.
“Nezuko, can you stop that?”
She stopped but there’s a mischievous gleam in her eyes. Her finger that she used to poke him, now turned to point at the raven-haired man, and then she mimed with both arms wrapped around something invincible in front of her, then pointed at Tanjirou.
He jumped to his feet out of reflex. “No way!” He squeaked in embarrassment. There’s no way Tanjirou would ask Tomioka to hug him!
He froze when he heard a noise coming from Tomioka. The man blinked sleepily. “What’s the matter?” The blue of his eyes seemed so vivid in the almost dark room, the colour reminded Tanjirou of the morning glories that grow on the mountain slopes.
Tanjirou realised the man was still waiting for a response. Before he could open his mouth, he felt a strong push from behind him. Tanjirou yelped as he lost his balance.
“Oof!” He fell right into Tomioka, sprawling on all fours with his face buried into a hard-muscled chest. Tomioka had wrapped his arms around him instinctively and the action caused his heart to flip. The scent of fresh pine mixed with the strangely enticing masculine musk filled his nostrils.
Nezuko ran away, leaving a trail of an excited scent, and hid in her box. The slamming of her little door sounded a little too loud inside the hut. Tanjirou couldn’t believe that Nezuko had the nerve to play matchmaker. Ugh, why did his baby sister have to be so adorable and annoying at the same time?!
Now he’s stuck like this; in a very awkward situation, and he’s kind of in a compromising position, if he didn’t ignore the fact he’s still plastered all over Tomioka. He tried to draw back but was stopped by the two hands that were still holding him. He raised his face and looked into bright blue eyes- Wow! They truly resembled the morning glories that he and Nezuko loved to pick for their mother.
Tomioka’s brows furrowed, a look of concern etched on his handsome face as his hands rubbed his back. “Your body is icy cold. You need to get warm as soon as possible.”
Tanjirou swallowed nervously. “I- I don’t feel cold, I think.” He shivered involuntarily as he felt one of Tomioka’s fingers brush against a spot right above his hip.
Then he noticed Tomioka’s gaze landed somewhere below his face. “Your lips are supposed to be red but now they’re almost blue,” he added.
Tanjirou felt his face burned. He’s definitely warming himself up just under the young man’s gaze. Had Tomioka been paying close attention to his lips all this time?
Tomioka was being uncharacteristically tender when he opened one side of his haori. “Come here.” The promise of warmth and the enticing scent from the other man made Tanjirou get closer and situate himself on Tomioka’s lap without thinking. He folded his knees and arms so that they squeezed comfortably between their bodies.
The moment Tomioka’s haori covered him, he finally realised what they were doing. Are they really cuddling? This felt so surreal. Tomioka smelled even more appealing this close. Tanjirou had a strange yearning to just bury his nose there for the rest of his life. The press of Tomioka’s body had made Tanjirou aware of the pulsing of his heart against the other’s heartbeat, like the meeting of two souls. Perhaps their hearts are beating as one. Tanjirou wondered if he was dreaming right now.
“Are you alright?” Tomioka asked, his voice a touch of whisper. Tanjirou nodded, too embarrassed to say anything else. He had never imagined he would get the opportunity in this lifetime to be this close to the Water Pillar. Well, never in a hundred lifetimes would he imagine himself sitting in Tomioka’s laps.
His brows knitted as he took in Tanjirou’s face. “Your face is red. Do you have a fever?”
Tanjirou frowned, “I don’t-” Tomioka leaned in and their foreheads were touching. Maybe he was having one as Tanjirou felt himself suddenly struck with a silly fever. Their faces were so close to each other that he could feel the other’s warm breath colliding with his own. He smelled the surprise scent from Tomioka, as if the man was shocked with his own action. Their eyes were locked on each other momentarily. He abruptly pulled back and Tanjirou felt bereft of the heat from his forehead. He bit on his lower lip in embarrassment. He couldn’t believe that Tomioka had tried to feel his temperature in such an endearing way.
Tomioka’s steel-blue eyes remained transfixed on him, particularly on Tanjirou’s lips. He stopped biting his lip and watched the pink flush on Tomioka’s cheeks extend down to his neck. Tanjirou was hopelessly captivated. He noticed how Tomioka’s pupils were dilated, almost swallowing the blueness as the whiff of desire reached Tanjirou’s nose. The surge of want swiftly consumed Tanjirou too.
It was gratifying and infuriating at the same time of how Tanjirou wanted, right at that moment, for this man to desire his mouth just like how he desired Tomioka’s.
Kiss me, please.
As if reading his mind, Tomioka breathed, “I want-”
“Yes,” he exhaled. He would say yes to anything and everything that Tomioka wanted. If Tomioka wanted to taste him; his blood, his flesh, his bone, he would have allowed the man to do so as he pleased.
Tomioka began to lean in and Tanjirou, too eager and completely lost in his feverish state, had rushed in thoughtlessly. A loud startling noise broke the quietness inside the hut when their foreheads smacked on each other.
“I’m so sorry!” Tanjirou yelped. Tomioka hissed in pain, his eyes squeezed shut. He thought he saw tears at the corner of his eyes. Tanjirou moved his legs at either side of the other’s thighs, and reached out to feel the bruise that gradually turned red and swollen.
Something shrivelled and died inside him when Tomioka winced from his touch. Tanjirou thought, I’m sorry, Nezuko. Your stupid big brother had ruined his almost first kiss with the man of his dream.
He bit his lips. “Are you okay?”
Tomioka blinked away his tears and murmured, “I’m fine.”
Eyeing him with a certain awe, Tomioka added, “Your head is really something. Could have killed a normal human.” Tanjirou stopped trying to touch the swollen forehead as he smiled apologetically.
Tomioka then noticed Tanjirou was straddling him. This position was more compromising than before and Tanjirou felt his face on fire. Despite the blunder, Tanjirou saw a bright side to this incident; it was obvious that the attraction between them wasn’t one-sided.
Tomioka tightened his arms around Tanjirou, his voice low and husky, “Would you headbutt me if I try to kiss you again?”
Tanjirou felt his own cheeks grew hotter than before. “I would headbutt you if you don’t,” he quipped.
His heartbeat fluttering wildly like the wings of butterflies as Tomioka started leaning down impossibly closer. He felt himself already breathless. Tomioka was not kissing him yet and he’s already stealing all the air from Tanjirou’s lungs! It’s so unfair!
Trying not to repeat the same mistake, he stayed motionless with his chin raised so that Tomioka could easily reach his mouth. His own heart was pounding so hard that it might explode anytime. Then his eyes shut involuntarily as something soft and precious and divine touched his lips.
Tomioka’s kiss made his blood sing. It was a kiss that made his skin tingling, his fingers twisting into Tomioka’s gakuran, and his toes curling within the confine of his tabi socks. He thought he might not want to kiss anyone after he had a taste of his breath being stolen by this man. So Tanjirou kissed him back as if saying I really, really, really like you.
His eyes fluttered open when he felt Tomioka leaned away. He whined. No. It was too short, too quick, and somewhat lacking. He wanted more!
Tanjirou clung his arms around the other’s neck and surged forward to kiss Tomioka like they might cease to exist if they stopped. He pressed his lips at the corner of Tomioka’s mouth, then another kiss right in the middle. In response, Tomioka cupped his cheek tenderly with one hand as his mouth moved against Tanjirou’s.
Then, all of a sudden he felt Tomioka’s other hand grab the back of his head and tug his hair as something wet brushed his lips. Tanjirou gasped and Tomioka took the opportunity to pry his lips open with the push of his tongue. He tried to kiss back but he was so clumsy and inexperienced, at least he made up with his own intensity. It was his first kiss with Tomioka after all. Wait, it was his fourth. Or maybe his fifth or sixth kiss with the man. He couldn’t care less as long as Tomioka continued to stroke the inside of his mouth in sync with the pounding of his own heart.
The lack of air was starting to make him dizzy but he didn’t want it to stop. He wanted the kiss to draw out as long as possible. And when Tomioka decided to pull away, Tanjirou still followed his lips like a moth to a flame.
Tomioka huffed in amusement and captured his mouth halfway. He felt Tomioka’s teeth biting and sucking on his lower lip and Tanjirou let out a low moan. He knew he felt something for the Water Pillar but it only occurred to him now how these feelings had been more than everything that encompassed the world. These feelings for Tomioka were as deep as the ocean and as high as the sky. It was as real as how the sky was blue and the grass was green.
Tanjirou wanted to utter words that had been hidden in the deepest part of his heart, but they were swallowed again and again by Tomioka. He eventually surrendered himself until he got so lost in a kiss that he had forgotten about everything.
As Tanjirou’s mouth began to ache, their kisses got more gentler and slower. The meeting of their mouths were less searing and more soothing that Tanjirou unexpectedly yawned in between those kisses. He blushed when it happened. He couldn’t help it if Tomioka’s kiss could put him to sleep. Tomioka suppressed a noise that suspiciously sounded like a snort and pressed a brief kiss to his nose. Tanjirou was utterly embarrassed so he hid his face in the other’s chest. He felt Tomioka squeezed him for a moment as another kiss brushed upon his scar.
“Let’s go to sleep,” Tomioka’s tone was warm and silky. He released Tanjirou so that they could lay together on the floor. Tanjirou snuggled closer to him and as he slowly drifted off, he wondered if they could be like this together for years to come.
He began to wake up as he felt something warm caressing his face. The first thing he saw was a bleary sight of summer sky eyes looking down at him. Tanjirou noticed his forehead was no longer swollen but the bruise had turned purple. Tomioka pressed a thumb against the corner of his mouth as the rest of his fingers held his chin gently. His heart started beating a little faster and wondered if Tomioka would kiss him again. They held each other’s gaze for a moment, until Tomioka let go of his face.
“I need to go.” Tomioka's quiet words took a few seconds for Tanjirou to process. He felt slightly disappointed.
“Oh, okay.” He rubbed his sleepy eye as he tried to sit up. He stopped when he spotted an arm hugging him from behind. It was Nezuko, snuggling against his back as she slept like a baby. The mismatched haori spread on all three of them to cover from the cold. He never knew Tomioka could be this sweet and a content feeling swelled warmly inside him.
Tomioka took back his haori while Tanjirou woke his sister up and coaxed her to get back inside the box. He needed to start moving and find Zenitsu and Inosuke before carrying on with their mission.
They stood outside the hut. Tanjirou figured from the position of the sun that it must be mid-morning. They had overslept so Zenitsu and Inosuke must be searching for him by now. The sky was cloudless and blue and the fresh white snow shimmered under the sun like diamonds. It was a breathtaking view and Tanjirou wished Nezuko could have seen this. At least he was able to appreciate the view with Tomioka standing next to him.
He fidgeted with the strap of the box carrying his sister. He wondered what happened now between him and Tomioka. Should he say something? Should he confess his feelings? Should he do something to show Tomioka he wanted what they had last night? Ah, he’s overthinking about everything now and whatever between them last night was no longer there to push Tanjirou to… He sighed inwardly. He wished he could feel Tomioka’s warmness one last time before they separated.
Tanjirou turned his head and noticed Tomioka was already looking at him. He might as well say his goodbye to Tomioka. If he was lucky, it would be a month or two before they meet each other again.
“Take care-” he was cut off when Tomioka leaned over him. His heart quivered. And he waited. Tomioka didn’t do anything else except looking right at him, as if he wanted to know if Tanjirou really wanted this- wanted him. Of course Tanjirou wanted Tomioka. He probably had wanted him since the first time they met on the snowy mountain. Tanjirou decided to just stop overthinking about everything and do what his heart desires.
He closed the distance between them, stood on his tiptoes and brushed his trembling lips upon Tomioka. The kiss was fleeting and short but still as sweet and soft like the first time. It still made his skin tingle, and his fingers twitched, and his toes curled. It still took Tanjirou’s breath away and made his blood sing. Because Tomioka kissed him back like he’s saying I like you too.
Tomioka pulled away and murmured, “I’ll see you around soon.” He tucked a wisp of curl behind Tanjirou’s ear.
Still dazed from the kiss, he watched the man disappear behind some trees. He would have stayed that way forever, trying to recall how to use his lungs and breathe properly again, until he distantly heard Zenitsu and Inosuke’s voices.
Tanjirou felt himself brimming in excitement as he started running towards his other two friends. He couldn’t wait to see Tomioka again soon and spend some time with him. One thing for certain, Nezuko was the best sister in the world!
Zenitsu scrutinized Tanjirou’s face. “Oi, what happened to your mouth?” He gasped when something dawned on him and shot Tanjirou an envious glare. “Did you kiss a girl?!”
The snout of Inosuke’s boar head nearly smacked Tanjirou in the face as the boy tried to take a closer look. “It looked like you had a fight using your mouth. Did a demon try to suck your face?!”
Tanjirou hid his flushing face behind his hands as he yelled at them to shut the hell up.