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tulips, chrysanthemums, and weeds

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It's become a habit for Tanjiro to linger by the playground during recess. His kids are a rambunctious bunch, always getting themselves into trouble in some way or form. He's tried encouraging them to play a bit more kindly and it worked, for a time—until Obanai slipped and fell on his way down from a tree, landing right on top of an already tearful Mitsuri. After that, it was easier for him to sit close by with a book in hand than to watch his kids through the classroom window.

The kids aren't any less playful in his presence, but they do have the mind to ask him beforehand and immediately call for him when something's gone wrong. It's already a win for Tanjiro.

"Sensei, sensei," A familiar, small voice calls from behind his book, "Sensei, look, look!"

Tanjiro already knows who the voice belongs to before he could put his book down. Of all of his kids, it's always Giyu who waddles to where he's seated, arms outstretched and reaching for him, and sticks by him until the bell rings. Even when the kids opt to play tag, it's always Giyu who sits out and glues himself to Tanjiro's side.

It usually warms his heart to know that his student trusts him so much compared to before. Looking back on how Giyu couldn't even speak a word to him without his jiji's prodding—it fills him with a sense of pride, knowing how far Giyu's come and how he helped him grow out of it.

But sometimes it worries Tanjiro. It happens so often that he can't help but think the boy's being singled out.

"Sensei," Giyu whines.

Tanjiro has to stifle a laugh. In the months that he's been with Giyu, he's never known him to be so impatient. "Alright," He concedes as he sets his book aside, heedless of the last page he read, "What is it, Giyu?"

"For you!" And Giyu practically throws his gift onto Tanjiro's lap none-too-kindly, his chubby hands bunched up into small fists around the stems of his gift.

Oh, is the only thing on Tanjiro's mind as his eyes finally settle on Giyu's gift.

They're flowers—a total of twelve for a bouquet, tied together by a loose knot of... Tanjiro has to lift the gift from his lap to get a better look. Is that a garden weed? He thinks. Did Giyu use a weed to tie the flowers together?

It looks like his student really did and more than that, included garden weeds along the delicate tulips and chrysanthemums he's no doubt picked from the nearby flower bed. Either Giyu had no idea he's picked a bunch of garden weeds along with his bouquet or he knew and didn't care, Tanjiro can't say for sure—but he can see that Giyu's put in more effort than Inosuke had when they were his age.

Giyu had taken great care to get him red tulips, spacing them as evenly as he could among the blue chrysanthemums. And though his knotting of the garden weed tie was loose, it was clear that he at least tried to knot it into a thoughtful little bow.He seems proud of his work, too, his smile wider than Tanjiro's ever seen and his eyes nothing short of shining. He places crosses his arms and rests them on Tanjiro's lap, peering up at him as he adds, "When Nezuko-san visited last Friday, she said you liked red flowers! But the only red flowers are tulips, so I got those instead!"

"Mm," Tanjiro hums. He just about expects to see a patch of bare earth picked clean of red tulips, yet he sees nothing of the sort when he looks up. "You didn't take these from the flower bed, Giyu?"

The boy shakes his head, saying, "I did, I did! But I wanted the best tulips, so Sabito helped me look for the best ones!" Something seems to have caught his eye, though and Giyu leans forward, his weight pressing on Tanjiro's knees as he reaches for a stray leaf from one of the tulips' stems and plucks it clean. "Sabito asked me why I wanted the best flowers but Uro— Uroko— jiji said if I wanted to do something for anyone, I should do my best for them."

"And I wanted the best tulips for my sensei!" He says, proudly and matter of fact. Then he rests his head on Tanjiro's lap once again, arms crossed and hands bunched into little fists. "Do you like them?"

Tanjiro hums and pretends to mull his answer over as he turns the bouquet in his hands. But it doesn't take him too long for him to smile at Giyu—and the boy beams at him with a smile that reaches his eyes, baby blue and shining so brightly that Tanjiro's heart clenches—and pats the boy's head with his free hand.

"I love it very much," He tells him, "Thank you, Giyu."

"But can I ask what the blue chrysanthemums are for?" Giyu's already mentioned what the red tulips are for and he's touched, really, that his student remembers his favorite color and tried to look for it in the flower bed. He's just not sure where the chrysanthemums come to play, because he knows for a fact that the school doesn't have anything more than tulips and carnations and well, the occasional garden weed.

He's just about to ask if Giyu bought this when Giyu speaks up again. "Jiji let me get some from his garden! He lets me help him with the flowers, and I really like the blue ones he grows." And, almost shyly, "Jiji says if I want to make a gift, I should... add something that I also like, so they could remember I got it for them! So I got the chry-san-them-mums because they're blue!"

I like blue! Blue like the sky, Tanjiro remembers him say. Because his sister loved how blue his eyes were like they were the clear skies on a bright day, so much so that anything she made for him would always be blue.

The thought only fuels Tanjiro's smile even more, but he doesn't know what else to really say. Giyu could only take so much praise before he starts thinking that maybe his sensei's stretching the truth and it's not really real. "Well then," Tanjiro starts, "Thank you, Giyu! I guess blue chrysanthemums would remind me of you and your little gift, huh?"

It seems to have catch Giyu off-guard, though. He blinks at Tanjiro and a slow, light blush forms along his cheeks as if he hadn't expected Tanjiro's response at all. But he doesn't pull away. Instead, his smile is positively blinding, "O-Of course, sensei!" He hiccups. "I'm glad you like it! You really, really like it, don't you, sensei?"

"Mhm, of course I do!" Tanjiro ruffles his hair again, laughing when Giyu tries to swat his hand away. "I love all of the gifts you kids give me, you know that, don't you? I'm grateful I have such thoughtful kids."

"Now," He uses his free hand to motion for Giyu to step aside and let him stand. The boy seems almost hesitant but he follows Tanjiro anyways, keeping his eyes trained on how Tanjiro's keeping hold of his little bouquet. Once Tanjiro's stood up, though, he steps closer to grab a hold onto the hem of his apron. "I want to put this in a vase inside our class, so I think I'll head inside for now."

"I can help, I can help!" With that, Giyu lets go of his apron and he's already running ahead of Tanjiro, opening the door for him like a little gentleman. "I can get the water for the vase, sensei!" And Tanjiro can't stop himself from laughing this time.