Tanjiro… Tanjiro couldn't remember anything. He couldn't remember who he was or where he was from. He didn't remember anything of his life from when he was human, but he was sure he had been a good person, at least a little. Or rather, he hoped he was.
He didn't eat humans and yet he somehow grew stronger every day, he was kind to people regardless of race or species, he even understood animals somehow (He only realized the last one was odd when Muzan had arched a brow at him when he was having a conversation with an alley cat, then his sire had been both intrigued and amused, the corner of his lips ghosting a smirk and one eyebrow raised minuscule. Most wouldn't recognize any difference between his usual face and the one he had then, but Tanjiro had noticed them after spending nearly every moment he wasn't training with his sire) and he tended to have far more patience than other demons. It was difficult to genuinely anger Tanjiro; enough so that it hasn't happened yet despite the more cumbersome demons trying to find the end of his tolerance.
Tanjiro was "unfortunately soft", as Douma would say with his faux smile on his face, staring at the youngest demon with the same curiosity a child would when peeling away the legs of an insect. Sick fascination and psychopathic tendencies that was just a matter of habit now for the blond. Nonetheless Tanjiro would just give his own smile, more genuine than his fellow second's and shrug the back-handed comment off without effort while Akaza would snap like a protective dog over his nonexistent loss of face. Tanjiro honestly couldn't care less, but the pink-haired demon would find any reason to hate the blond. Akaza still saw Tanjiro as a rival, especially since Tanjiro was immediately placed in the ranking of second with Douma as soon as he woke up after his transformation without his memories in spite of him still being in and needing training. He didn't defend Tanjiro for Tanjiro's sake, and the redhead was well aware of that.
Hantengu and Rui, along with several other demons under Muzan's thumb (particularly the younger ones, or the ones missing their families or that were easily scared) saw Tanjiro as a safe place. Even Kokushibo would have him sit right next to him in meetings.
"You remind me of my brother," Kokushibo said when he had asked why the strongest demon in the twelve moons would sit with him when he distanced himself from others. "You remind me of the sun." Tanjiro didn't know what to say to that, or what he could do to help with whatever internal pain the highest moon was trying to keep close and cast aside at the same time. So he simply settled next to the strongest senior and noticed how Kokushibo's broad shoulders lowered ever so slightly, like a great weight was lifted from him. Like he was afraid Tanjiro would have moved away from him.
Tanjiro felt that it must have been absolute agony to lose your family. Just the thought almost made him cry, for some reason.
"Tanjiro." Muzen called, walking over to his favorite moon with grace and elegance, as if he hadn't slaughtered his own followers moments ago. Pity them as he did, Tanjiro hadn't known most of them. Muzan didn't like him associating with cannon fodder. But he did know one; a certain spider that tended to stick close to him whenever they would meet, however rare it was.
"It's true then?" Tanjiro asks softly, his burgundy eyes looking up into Muzan's pale scarlet ones without fear, only trust and light sparkling in those dark red orbs that made even the king of demons soften marginally. "Rui... has died?"
Muzan knew Tanjiro had a soft spot for the spider demon. The shorter boy would cling to the redhead whenever he saw him, absorbing the warmth in Tanjiro that was unnatural to his kind and basking in the youngest demon's kindness. He had taken to calling him "Tanjiro Onii-sama" whenever he saw him and told Muzan that Tanjiro was his ideal older brother figure, and he felt safe with him. Perhaps Tanjiro being the eldest, responsible for all of his siblings and protecting his home, had just become ingrained in his instincts despite not remembering anything.
"Yes, it's true. Are you sad?" Muzan asked despite knowing the answer.
"Yes." Tanjiro closed his eyes, expression the same with the exception of his brow scrunched up a bit in grief for the boy who so desperately desired a family. "I'm... quite sad."
Muzan had said nothing after that, but he did gently pat the boy's head, noting how his brow smoothed out at his light touch, the softened expression one of complete faith. Was this what it was like to have a son? He didn't know how to explain the microscopic yet still very real warmth in his otherwise dead heart, making it seem bigger than it was. He didn't feel much even for his human family aside from entertainment, them only being a way to pass time. He married a woman who had already had a daughter from her previous marriage, yet he was the one the toddler called "father". And he felt nothing for either of them aside from a vague, detached mirth for the divertissement. Yet this boy who he had, for all intents and purposes, made to be a perfect puppet, had squirmed his way into his cold soul and left behind a warmth not unlike the sunlight he remembered rarely being able to bask in when he was a sickly human. It was an odd sensation that Muzan wanted to explore yet cringe away from all at the same time.
"You are to go in the next mission and kill those hunters on the train." he says, instead of offering further comfort to the boy over his the lower moon's death, lowering his hand from the soft, dark red locks. It would be Tanjiro's first real mission, and a high-stakes one at that. He already knew that Enmu would fail his task, but at least he might buy time for someone of actual use to take care of the rest. For the past few years the boy had been training almost non-stop under the strongest demons at Muzan's disposal. It intrigued Muzan how the boy could get so strong without even a drop of human blood or a lick of flesh. Perhaps he could send the boy on the next mission to put all of the blood he had given the boy throughout the years to use. He would send Akaza as well as his back up. "Consider it your first real mission. I expect you to partake in the extermination this time."
"Yes, Muzan-sama." Tanjiro said obediently, having been given special permission to use his sire's name. He hated the idea of killing humans; hated the sounds of bones snapping and skin tearing and blood splattering, but he owed it to the man who saved him from a painful death with the rest of his family after they had been slaughtered.
Why does that story still feel wrong after all this time?
The girl... there was just something about that girl that made Tanjiro's brain itch. Something he couldn't remember but he felt like he should. Did he pass by her in the streets or something? He had half a mind to do what Douma does when he forgets something and stick his finger into his brain. But Tanjiro always considered it disgusting, so he would rather not.
On another note, Akaza was having far too much fun with that poor flame pillar man, Kyojuro Rengoku. No matter how many times he begged, Rangoku-san was unbudgingly holding his humanity. Tanjiro respected him for that. Still, he almost wanted to step in just to end it. The poor man had to be in agony with his eye ruined and his bones broken or cracked. Tanjiro was certain that if Akaza didn't have his accelerated healing that he would be in a similar, or even worse, state than Rengoku-san was. How the human kept clashing without collapsing escaped the second moon's understanding.
And yet, as incredible as the fight was, his eyes kept snapping back to the girl in concern. She was terrified, frozen in fear and awe at the awesome clash of power between the flame pillar and the third moon. Finally, her eyes snapped up to his, pink clashing with dark red. She flinched, only seeing the otherworldly glow of his gaze, shrouded in the shadows and otherwise hidden from view. Poor girl. He thought with quiet compassion.
He was supposed to help kill the humans here, but he couldn't bring himself to. His excuse could be that Akaza insisted on handling everything himself, which was true, so he was content to just be a spectator. Still, not revealing himself would be rude and cause unnecessary strife later when he got back. The last thing he wanted was everyone bothering him for his "cowardice" in not only not participating in this mess, but also hiding. So he leapt from the shadows into clear view, his haori floating for a moment before settling around him, his longish hair doing the same as it tickled his back briefly. He watched her eyes widen in recognition and shock. Did they know each other?
Another one-!? Rengoku nearly choked, still struggling with Akaza. He was already busy against the third moon and the kids were injured. This wasn't looking good at all.
"Don't interfere, second!" Akaza snapped, causing Rengoku to break into a sweat. Second? He was stronger than this guy? Wait, where is his mark!?
Tanjiro almost laughed but settled for shaking his head lightly. Like he had any intention of-