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Giyuu climbs the stairs sluggishly. His feet feel as heavy as his chest, which has been quite the norm for him these past few years. It’s like there are heavy stones continuously piling inside his chest, encased by his feeble ribcage. With those, it drags him down – drowning and asphyxiating that he cannot hope to surface again to see the sun.

His footsteps echo loudly in the empty stairwell, and no one is near enough to even hear. No one will care, he thinks morosely as he pushes open the rusty door to the rooftop. He is about to end everything; all those suffering and pain he can no longer think to endure.

He can’t even smile as he removes his shoes and jumps over the railings. Standing by the edge, atop their school building, the wind blows him back to safety. He grits his teeth and curses nature for a little while. He moves again, pushing against the wind, forcing himself closer to the edge because he really is just so exhausted in living like a ghost.

“Hey, don’t do it.”

Startled, Giyuu almost slips to his death. Well, not that it isn’t something he is about to do anyway, but he would really want to at least jump in a graceful way. His hand catches the metal railing before he turns his head to see a teen with wild burgundy hair.

Kamado Tanjirou.

He knows the responsible teen just as most students would. He isn’t the typical sporty and famous student, rather he’s known for being very helpful to those in need. His kindness is something that Giyuu admires from afar, wishing how he would like to have the same simple, but beautiful life.

Giyuu also knows that when someone catches another person trying to jump to their death, they’d mostly stop them and ask why. So, he starts talking, the words easily slipping out of his mouth. Talking to someone who doesn’t know him is easier than he thought.

“Everyone ignores me as they take everything from me. I go unnoticed when unneeded. Then, all of a sudden, they notice me when they need a scapegoat – someone to take the blame. Someone they push to do the things they don’t want. I…I don’t belong anywhere at all.”

Tanjirou simply walks forward with a soft smile of understanding on his face. It is something that boggles his mind initially before he understands how this teen always holds out a helping hand to others.

“You know…” Tanjirou starts, his hand grasping Giyuu’s, urging him to come by his side – back to where it is safe. “It doesn’t matter if they take away everything from you here. You still have a home to go to. You are loved, and there’s even dinner always waiting for you, right?”

Giyuu doesn’t know why, but he is somehow compelled to climb back up. His eyes are wide as his sister’s face flashed in his mind. She always calls out to him smiling, a hot meal prepared at their small dining table. It makes him look down at the floor where his shoes lay innocently.

“I…” Giyuu mumbles as he kneels to wear his shoes. “I guess I’m feeling a bit hungry now.”

He wants to thank Tanjirou for reminding him of such a small yet important piece of information. But he dashes to leave, running down the stairs with his heart finally pounding underneath the stones that gathered in his chest.

The next few days is something like a repeat of it. He goes to class to have another stone added inside himself, feeling heavy again when it got lighter after his talk with that certain teen. It makes him disregard the words said to him the previous day as he climbs back up the rooftop. The process is the same: he removes his shoes and climbs over the railings before he looks down to the ground with heavy eyes.

“Hey.”

Giyuu doesn’t know why he even waits for a little while instead of jumping already. In fact, it’s like he expects the voice to call out to him again. He jumps over the railings again and wears his shoes. He looks up to a smiling Tanjirou with his hand held out to Giyuu. The long sleeves of Tanjirou’s green cardigan barely let his palms show, but it’s there.

It results in them talking as they sit, side by side, on the floor. It’s mostly Giyuu talking about his problems, sharing them with Tanjirou like they’ve been friends for a long time. The teen simply listens, sometimes giving out advice if Giyuu asks for it. He isn’t overbearing and condescending. He isn’t angry with Giyuu’s repeated attempts to jump.

The late afternoon talks are something Giyuu anticipates every day that he doesn’t even try to jump off anymore. He waits patiently, looking over the setting sun until he hears the door creak open to reveal Tanjirou.

Their topics are now more varied. It is now a conversation between the two of them, ranging from their hobbies to the smallest and weirdest things in life. One by one, the stones in his chest are removed by an invisible force that surely comes from Tanjirou’s presence.

But then, his best friend who recently came back from abroad, Sabito, dies in a car accident to save a child. His sister is grievously sick, now stuck at the hospital in bedrest.

He feels empty as he reaches the rooftop earlier than usual. Still, there are no students left loitering around, and the skies are as gloomy as they get. It looks like it’s about to rain with how the clouds are gathering and darkening above him. Is there anything left for him in this world?

Giyuu wants to scream, yet he remains silent and ready to jump.

“Giyuu…Just don’t.”

He really is just one step away from the sweet oblivion he longs for, but he can’t help himself as he turns to look at Tanjirou. The teen is panting and sweating, fear is clearly displayed in his face. It isn’t something he wants to see at Tanjirou’s face, looking so pale and terrified.

Silence greets both of them.

Giyuu waits for the comforting words Tanjirou always has to say, but he hears nothing. The fear is palpable in Tanjirou’s trembling figure. It’s like he sees something in Giyuu – something familiar, if not, the same. Like Tanjirou feels he’s not worthy enough to stop Giyuu now with the determination and grief in his cloudy eyes. Like it’s painful to look at Giyuu.

He doesn’t want to die in front of Tanjirou, anyway. That’d be too cruel of him.

“I won’t do it today, then.”

Giyuu’s foreboding words are carried by the howling wind as he wears his shoes in order to leave. He disappears from Tanjirou’s wide and teary gaze without saying another word. He only hears the flutter of Tanjirou’s cardigan and the big drops of rain hitting the tiled floor.

When he gets home, Giyuu receives wonderful news that he never would’ve had the honor to hear. His sister is recovering well and would be out of the hospital in a week. Sabito’s funeral is a sad affair, but there is a note for him at the mailbox. It speaks of the wonderful adventures and events Sabito has taken part in. That he’s been quite happy with how he has lived his life. Dying in order to protect someone is an honor for him. At the bottom, it reads to be signed by his guardian, the strict and loving Urokodaki Sakonji.

Giyuu cries in his bed until dawn that he skips every morning class he’s had for the next day. He takes his time in gathering his books and materials after the bell rang. Other students are already rushing outside the classroom, leaving him alone as he sits in his chair while looking up at the ceiling in a daze.

And he remembers.

He should apologize to Tanjirou with how their last interaction ended on a bad note. He really scared the teen that dark afternoon.

With a resolute nod, Giyuu stands and takes his bag with him to climb up the stairs he’s been quite familiar with nowadays. The sun manages to make the skies turn into deep warm colors, painting them in mostly a bloody red. The last rays of sunlight are passing through the windows as he climbs, illuminating each step he has to take.

As he swings open the door, he expects to see no one since he’s usually the one waiting for the other. Rather, he is met with a familiar figure standing at the ledge just after the railings, his familiar back against Giyuu. Hanafuda earrings, along with wild burgundy hair sway in the wind. Bandages cover his arms, something Giyuu doesn’t notice due to a cardigan hiding it. Some are bleeding, the blood soaking through the white strip of cloth. The said green cardigan is neatly folded beside a pair of dark shoes.

Giyuu’s breath catches when Tanjirou turns to fall with his back now facing the ground. Even when Giyuu is running and screaming, he still manages to catch a heavily bruised face and neck along with shocked but tired, tired ruby eyes with dark bags underneath.

He reaches the place where the metal railings start to bar his path. Giyuu bends over, his stomach uncomfortably pressing against the cold metal as he impossibly stretches his arm to reach out. To grasp the falling figure of the person he unknowingly fell in love with.

Giyuu’s fingers only manage to hold onto the loose bandages that soon tears and separates from the rest.

Chapter Text

He walks confidently around the campus like a teen without a limp during the early hours of the afternoon. But he’s getting tired of acting like he’s fine, he thinks as he tugs at the sleeves of his green cardigan. Something that his late mother left for him before everything went wrong. His arms are itchy from the bandages rubbing roughly against his skin. His leg wants to give up, the injury he’s been trying to hide is screaming for rest.

Tanjirou agrees that it’s time to let his body and mind rest for eternity.

It’s late as usual since he’s been stalling every day, staying at school till they close, hoping to have more time away before returning to that wretched house. But now, he climbs the stairs with difficulty, limping with each step, not trying to hide the fact he’s injured from the previous night for there’s no one else left to see anyway.

He pants as he pushes the rusty door open and is momentarily blinded by the bright light of the setting sun. It isn’t until after his eyes adjusted that he spots another teen standing at the edge of the building, over the safety of the railings.

Someone got here first with the same intentions, then.

But something pulls at Tanjirou’s heart to see someone die when he looks like he can still be saved. The teen’s back is tense, and his hands are slightly trembling. He doesn’t want to die yet.

 “Hey, don’t do it.”

His heart skips a beat when the teen with long raven hair almost slips from the ledge. He can’t help but inwardly sigh in relief when the said teen takes hold of the railings, turning his head to look surprised at Tanjirou’s sudden presence.

Somehow, Tanjirou is already expecting him to say the words he surely wants to say to someone for a long time but hadn’t had anyone. He understands how this must feel – suffocating. So, he listens with an open mind, understanding flowing in his heart that continues to ache for this teen’s problems.

He soon finds out his name when he asks some of his classmates.

“Oh? The one who’s always alone by the tree during lunch?” Zenitsu responds to Tanjirou’s question with barely any care in the world as he continues to sweep the floor. “Well…I think his name was…er…”

“Tomichika Guy!” Inosuke exclaims, holding up the eraser in a victorious pose, chalk dust flying everywhere.

“Tomioka Giyuu. You idiot.” Genya chides as he passes by while carrying a bag of trash to dispose of.

Tanjirou soon walks away, the name he’s acquired is rolling off his tongue with every step he takes. It is a long stroll around the campus that soon empties itself of other students and faculty as he kills time somewhere else other than being inside the house where he lives.

When he looks up, recalling yesterday at the rooftop, wondering if he should try and end it all this afternoon, he spots the same dark-haired teen jumping over the railings. Tanjirou doesn’t have time to look shocked as he dashes towards the stairs. He takes two steps at a time, his short and injured legs screaming in agony by the time he reaches the top. Trying to look casual as he swings the door open, he sees that Giyuu is still standing the edge, seemingly relaxed, unlike yesterday. It makes Tanjirou smile before he calls out to the other who seems to be expecting his presence.

“Want to talk?”

“About what?”

“Hmm…” Tanjirou thinks out loud before opting to sit down on the floor to rest his legs. He spreads out his arms, his palms facing the skies in a wide gesture. “Anything you want, really. Let’s pass some time before leaving?”

Giyuu sits down beside him with crossed legs, letting out a breath before he starts talking. He first introduces himself, a fact that makes Tanjirou inwardly giggle since he already knows his name. In response, Tanjirou also introduces himself with a grin, holding out his hand for a handshake.

“It’s nice to meet you, Tomioka-san.”

Giyuu scratches the back of his head while his other hand is in a handshake with Tanjirou. His face flushes as he speaks.

“Really, you can call me by my given name. It’s like you’re calling my sister.”

Tanjirou chuckles. “Then, you can call me Tanjirou as well.”

It is the start of something he never expected to save him from drowning in the murky lake he calls life. The bruises he receives every night doesn’t hurt as much as it previously does, the pain numbed by Giyuu’s calming presence. They talk and talk till they are forced to leave as night comes along, darkening the skies as a signal for them to go back to their houses.

There are no words of farewell between them as they go to their separate ways. Perhaps it reminds them of how they want to end their own lives. ‘Goodbye’ is too heavy of a word to say. ‘See you tomorrow’ is something uncertain for their tomorrows will always bring the unexpected. Instead, they look at the twilit sky before looking at each other, a small and timid smile gracing their lips as they stand from their usual spot at the rooftop.

The go down the stairs, walk towards the gates and simply turn around towards their houses, which are in separate directions.

It is then that the moment where Tanjirou indulges in such blissful peace and happiness ends. Kind of like his dose of euphoria of the day runs out by the time he opens the dark wooden door of the mansion he lives in.

It is quiet.

For now, Tanjirou thinks as he softly pads his feet on the polished floor, hoping to have a relatively peaceful night.

The next day is gloomy with rain threatening to pour heavily anytime soon. He wonders if a storm is coming to literally drown them, packing his umbrella into his bag as he goes out of the empty classroom. His classmates are already gone, hoping to be back home before the rain comes down. But Tanjirou takes his time, cleaning the room by himself since he can’t stroll around today in fear of getting wet should rain come.

The bandages covering his arms are getting itchy, though, due to the cold weather. He scratches at them through his green cardigan, wincing from time to time as he aggravates the healing wounds. It makes him drop a piece of paper that goes flying out of the window and onto the ground.

“Ah!”

Tanjirou rushes to retrieve his test paper, climbing over the windowsill since the classroom is just on the ground floor. By the time he picks it up, a sudden flash of lightning makes him wander his gaze upwards. He catches a dark yet familiar figure at the rooftop. The sight makes him uneasy even when he’s seen countless half-hearted attempts from Giyuu.

He runs, his hand clutching his chest as his heart is pounding quite hard against it. He almost slips in his rush, but he manages to take hold of the railing. Tanjirou continues to climb as fast as he can until he swings the rusty door open with all his might. There’s a loud boom as the handle hits the adjacent wall, but all he can see is Giyuu’s hunched back.

“Giyuu…Just don’t.”

The words Tanjirou doesn’t even try to tell himself to believe in slip out of his mouth before he could notice. They have the same intention before – to jump off to their deaths. However, Tanjirou thought that they’re getting better. Or maybe it’s just his wishful thinking. Who knows, maybe they’re still drowning in their own sorrows and pain, and their afternoon talks are simply the times when they blackout and dream of a wonderful time?

Catching Giyuu’s deadened gaze haunts Tanjirou that tears are starting to gather in his own eyes. This is a look of someone who doesn’t want to be saved. Someone who truly wants to die. It is the same set of eyes he sees in the mirror at night while he treats his own wounds with his meager supply.

He feels suffocated that he has to gasp for air, his trembling hand clutching his shirt tighter. Words won’t come out of his mouth like they use to, a large lump in his throat blocks their path.

“I won’t do it today, then.”

Tanjirou sees himself in Giyuu’s place as he blinks his widened eyes.

There are no words exchanged between them, even as Giyuu walks by with a lowered gaze and a sad smile. Tanjirou’s feet are frozen as he continues to face the dark skies that suddenly cries with him. The clear and heavy drops of rain hit the floor with a loud pitter-patter.

“Don’t take him away, please. Not now.” He pleads at the heavens, holding out his trembling hands towards it. “I’d gladly give up my own chance in life. I…let him have a better one, instead.”

Lightning flashes and thunder roars as an answer, and he doesn’t know if it’s a yes or a no.

He is thoroughly soaked by the time he slops his way back to the house at a very late hour. Something that won’t go unpunished in this house full of rotten rules. However, the halls are dark, and it’s too quiet. More so than usual. He sluggishly walks towards the living room and scans his eyes around.

Empty.

He continues towards the dining room, leaving wet trails in his wake. A candle is lit on the other side of the long table. It illuminates the pale faces of his sister and adoptive father. Muzan has an eerie smile plastered on his face, his plum red eyes looking straight at Tanjirou. Nezuko has her eyes closed like she’s asleep while sitting.

“You’re late.”

“I’m sorry. The…the rain was pouring quite hard that my umbrella broke on the way.”

Not really. He simply stayed longer on the rooftop looking and feeling helpless as he watches how the drops of rain scatter as they meet the tiled floor.

“But I guess I don’t have to punish you tonight.”

This makes Tanjirou look up, confused, and suspicious at the same time. He never lets anything slide without any kind of punishment dealt. And yet, Muzan’s smile only grows wider as he gestures for Tanjirou to sit down and dine with them. He does as he’s told and scans the dishes on the table.

Everything is red.

He is about to take some of the meat in front of him in hopes to abate some of Muzan’s anger that’s surely simmering in his veins when Nezuko manages to fall down her chair sideways. It startles him, the silver cutlery clattering on his plate as he stands to help his sister up.

“Nezuko?”

He walks closer, aware that Muzan is watching him like an amused hawk. His sister’s eyes are still closed, and it worries him. Maybe the impact is quite great that she may have a concussion or bruise. But as he kneels to help her up, he is greeted with a large gaping hole in her stomach. Blood is trickling out slowly, coagulating on the carpeted floor. Her insides are gone like they’re expertly taken away.

Tanjirou wants to vomit, bile wanting to come out of his throat.

Muzan laughs loudly. It echoes inside the dark room like unwanted and dissonant notes in Tanjirou’s ears that he stands up and punches the man with all he has. He is cold, and his sister is dead. There’s barely any strength left in his body, so he falls on the floor as large hands encircle his neck.

This time, he is literally suffocating, and he can’t do anything about it.

Therefore, it is a miraculous wonder when he wakes up with the sun’s rays brightly lighting up his room. He goes to the bathroom and looks at the mirror despite the heaviness of his eyelids. There’s dried blood on his face, and his neck is a splatter of violets, blues, and yellows. Kind of like a painting of the galaxies, Tanjirou bitterly thinks as he undresses to take a cold shower.

He continues to go about his daily routine, wrapping bandages around his neck and arms. A band-aid is slapped on the thin yet long slice on his cheek. He puts on his uniform and sees how his cardigan is still wet. Never had to go without it before, he puts it on the dryer and waits for a little while.

Is there anything left in this world for him?

And perhaps he answers it by standing at the edge of the rooftop without his shoes and his cardigan. The red skies remind him of Nezuko’s blood and the dishes on the table he thankfully hasn’t had the disgusting privilege to eat.

He has longed for this moment, but there’s always his sister’s life making him second guess and chicken out. That’s basically the reason he got the chance to meet Giyuu. And he thought that maybe…everything going to be fine if they suffer a little and live a little longer so long as they have their beautiful afternoons together in this very place.

And, yes, Tanjirou’s deeply mistaken.

“I’m going to jump now.”

He faces the skies instead of the ground, wanting to fall in a way that feels like he’s flying. The skies are a dark reminder of everything that went wrong the previous night, but they’re also the same skies he saw when he first met Giyuu. And that is something significant for Tanjirou because that certain upperclassman he’s got to connect with for a few months is something he will always carry in his heart.

“No! Tanjirou!”

With half-lidded eyes, he sees Giyuu reaching out for him with eyes that are lighter than it was yesterday. It makes Tanjirou smile, his own hand automatically reaching out as well, but he knows there’s no hope left for him.

Gravity continues to pull Tanjirou, but before it could create a large gap between him and Giyuu, he manages to mouth out some words.

“Live on for me, won’t you?”