"Found you." A voice materialized behind them and everyone jumped save the Water Pillar as he merely turned to face him, unfazed blue meeting his own light green.
“Ah, good day, Tokito-Senpai.” Despite the fact that they are all from the same year, the children does greet him politely- he is still three years older than them, just held back since he has to earn a Middle School diploma, then a High School diploma next year.
After all, he- no, they, are a genius.
“Yuichirou, right?” the Water Pillar called him and he corrected, “No, I am Muichirou.”
But Tomioka just blinked, tilting his head, “I’m pretty sure you are Yuichirou though…” The others just helplessly shrugged, no one actively siding with either Hashira.
“No matter, the lot of you have taken too long. I’ll be dragging Tomioka-senpai away for my mission details. Dismissed and take your lunches.” he orders and they head to the cafeteria while he drags the upperclassman to the stairs, “We’ve secured the rooftop so we can talk there.”
Yet he just nods, before following him obediently, up the stairs to the roof, locking the door behind them- under the sun, where his brother waited for them with their lunches.
“Giyuu-senpai, we got you a bento also, if it is okay.” His brother called out, waving.
“Thank you Muichirou.”
He stopped there, as the two sat side by side, checking the food available for them.
“Oi, Tomioka-senpai, how come you can tell that I am Yuichirou?” he drawled, canceling his blank stare and the image of Mui and his mannerisms, as if a skin being removed, and glares at their upperclassman.
As he sat before his twin, he was pretty sure despite the personality thing, they looked like mirror images of one another- even the other Hashira can have trouble telling them apart if he chose to adopt his brother’s blank gaze or if Mui chose to display his trademark glare: he’s lost count of getting information way higher than his security level; or the Kamaboko as they liked to call their juniors, dragging him away to their socialization until he glares at them-
But somehow, this person could tell.
They’ve tried a lot to trick him but he hasn’t made a mistake yet. The only other person who has ever succeeded on this at a 100% rate was Oyakata-sama, but that was a different matter since the Master has his insane senses.
(Not to say others haven’t answered correctly, like Tanjirou checking with his sense of smell, or Shinobu being familiar with the miniscule differences of their bodies, or the increased familiarity, like Gyomei-senpai- over time some people have learned the tells between them.)
Yet, Tomioka Giyuu just glances at them, before answering, “Despite being twins, you two are unique in your own ways.”
“That isn’t really an answer and you know it. Also you don’t even just study us, a few moments ago, with just one look and you called me out earlier as Yuichirou.” He grumbled, really, it was easy to fail in their bait and switch tactic when Tomioka Giyuu was included. Before, he thought he was just really good at guessing but--
“It’s impressive though, Giyuu-san has never been wrong to date in our guess-who game.” Mui added, as he started on his bento, straight to the crux of things. “We’ve tried to trick you quite a lot of times, and you could still tell us apart, even when we did our best.”
The Water Pillar just hummed, before answering, “It’s hard to explain… but Yuichirou feels an inch closer to purposely rude, and Muichirou is closer to rude by naivety- not that both of you can’t be nice, or that you can’t exact the rudeness the other possesses…”
Is it a trait for Breath of Water users to be useless in explaining things? Yuichirou felt his nerve pop, because that explained nothing.
“Again, not a concrete answer, Tomioka-senpai…” He trailed off, as the guy just gave a small grin, apologizing, “Sorry, I guess I could just tell- Muichirou is Muichirou, and Yuichirou is Yuichirou after all?”
And there is that other problem, one he shared with the others-- well he’s not really directly involved, but it includes Mui- so it includes him.
After all, he just have to glance at his twin across him and see him star struck at this guy. This guy doesn’t know his effect on people huh…
Not that he is quite immune, anyways he’s sure if he stares at the Water Hashira from the corner of his eye, he would feel less inclined to just look on fascinated at this person, but holy hell, seeing Mui like this is another thing.
Muichirou, his younger sibling who was stronger than him, who slaughtered demons when they have attacked their home, who protected him, despite the fact that he was the older sibling-- Mui still dislikes thunderstorms and asks him to make the hot milk for a good night sleep- yet he flounders before this too-pretty-for-his-own-good guy.
A snap before his face shook him out of his thoughts to see Senpai before him, “Are you alright Yuichirou?”
Why are you snapping your fingers before me, do it to Mui, look, across me-- he’s just off to LalaLand with you and your sparkles and shit-YOUARETOOCLOSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He lightly smacked away the offending hand and just huffed, “Whatever, let’s just eat then tell us about our mission details for this week.”
“So how much do I owe you guys for lunch?” Tomioka Giyuu asks, having finished the meal and their debriefing for the mission details-- his brother would have to work on repairing the security on the East Hall since its cameras were still busted, while he would be part of the guard around him, until he finishes. Then it's back to the rooftop and East Wing patrols...
“It’s our treat Giyuu-senpai.” He answers for them just as his brother just huffs at him.
Mou, Yui-nii, just because you can face him head on doesn’t mean I can… He sighs before spacing out, looking at the skies above them-- away from it all, so he doesn’t have to deal with these surprising conflicting feelings. He doesn’t really know when he started adoring the Water Hashira, but--
Maybe it’s taking several missions with him last year. Or when he tutored them last semester. Or those cat naps they shared during lunch time. Or how he always got to tell them apart correctly...
Or when Senpai helped him repair his relationship with Yui, when the latter told him he was wasting his time as a Demon Slayer--
“Just because your effort would be insufficient in reaching Muichirou, doesn’t mean you can give up. So what if he’s a genius? So what if he is stronger than you? There are things you don’t realize that you are better than him, right?
So your younger brother is stronger than you? Does it mean you no longer have the right to protect him? At least you can comfort him, you know? At least, your younger sibling returns to their older sibling-- at least in this world, you still have one another.
It’s futile to be a Demon Slayer? Sure, it’s also futile to think we’ll make a difference-- but you saved that guy earlier-- wouldn’t you agree that made a difference to him?
Why does it have to be you who saves them? Why not, when you have the ability to make a difference? If it was such a pointless choice, why did your brother save your life?
If it’s such a waste for you to live, go find the plant that produces the oxygen you breathe and apologize to it.”
It’s also unnerving to realize that Giyuu-senpai continued on being a Demon Slayer and a hardworking student, more so when they learned his older sister has been in a coma for nearly 10 years already-- since his “extended” family does not want to support her anymore, and he’ll have to prove himself a capable heir to their family business, the entire burden on ensuring she can stay confined in the hospital has been on him, just as he has to prove his worth to them, lest he lose his entire inheritance on those vultures, as he once said offhandedly.
Unspoken between the Hashira, Giyuu gets the shortest patrols and the most forgiving hours because the last time he collapsed, it was hell for everyone else. Even Oyakata-sama does not comment much on the mission details and Giyuu isn’t allowed to refute him anyways.
And yet, maybe it’s how he knew, for all he was a genius, he would have faltered if he had lived the life Tomioka Giyuu has-- and maybe he would manage, maybe he wouldn’t but--
From his peripherals, he can see Yui-nii sigh again, placing his head on his hands-- and sure his brother is facepalming his airy-wooshy-washy approach but, he’s really glad that he still has his brother okay? Someone who comforts him on the sad days, who helps him clean up when there’s too much horror he has lived in-- who welcomes him home.
While Giyuu-senpai-- doesn’t. Well, he’s sure Sabito-senpai would care for him as fellow Hashira or Breath of Water disciple-siblings or-- closer, but he does not want to think about that thank you very much.
“Ah maybe I still have some,” the silent rooftop is broken by Tomioka Giyuu taking the bag on his shoulder- something that he was actually surprised to see earlier-- it’s not his bag, but he brings it like it is his. Then he unzips it and takes a couple of boxes from inside-- Pocky.
He could feel his gaze shift from the snack to his brother because Wasn’t that what everyone else sent him away from their side of the campus so he can avoid?
“I won some Pocky from a girl earlier. Well-- this entire bag, but I can’t eat it all-- so, Yuichirou likes cookies and cream, and Muichirou likes the dark chocolate. Please take them as repayment for the lunch,” he comments while passing them a couple of boxes.
Won? Girl? Earlier? Repayment?
“Let me get this straight, you won a bag full of Pocky?” Yui-nii takes charge.
Fuck, they messed up. Someone managed to slip through their plans.
“Ah if you’re going to interrogate me, just ask the Kamaboko, I’ve already explained things with them earlier-- it was why we took a while in the room.”
Good idea, Muichirou thought, as across him, his brother has whipped his phone out and rapidly texting. Those kids did well.
But Yui-nii stopped, a curious expression on his face, and somehow his heart feels like the next words will be grave details for him, “Wait, that’s a long time to explain an incident and the mission details there- did anything else happen?”
He did not expect Giyuu-senpai, who was in the middle of opening another Pocky- chocolate, to rip the cardboard seal, or to suddenly look away, a hint of red on his cheeks.
Never mind, those kids will face hell later on, when they can train again under him this coming weekend.
Giyuu-senpai surprisingly recovered fast, opening the foil and adding, “Nothing happened further.” then he started snacking on them.
He glances at his brother, disbelief mirrored on their similar faces.
Yuichirou swallows, as he sees Mui’s eyes go dark, in the cacophony of bleak emotions that he can sense despite the distance. He glanced back down at the snack on his hands, and decided, if they have already lost the premise of their plan today, then-- it was fair game right?
So he dared ask, “Alright, then let’s play Pocky Game, Tomioka-senpai.” He didn’t look at his twin, but heard him start spluttering, but Senpai blushed again and alright that’s it, he faced him head on and knew in a couple of seconds his own mind will start melting.
“Wait, wait, are you sure about that?” Giyuu muttered, looking away while his mouth nibbled on the current one on his lips and well, he can’t blame the kids if they tried earlier--
“You offered the goods and I offered the game~ sides are you hoping for the tie?” He teased and bless the paleness of this guy, he was just before senpai, a few steps closer yet he’s sure he can feel that heat from his cheeks warmer than the afternoon sun.
“No. Don’t bully the kouhai, Yuichirou, nothing happened between us.” Senpai gave a deadpan face then swallowed the snack-- and he’s pretty sure his twin just swallowed reflexively behind him heh, well that’s something I can tease Mui later on…
“Still, are you scared?” He teased and surprisingly Senpai gave a small smile, “No, but I’m surprised, since you usually are distant to me and keeps to Muichirou after all… I didn’t expect you’d want a game from me?”
Majority of the people in this school would want a game with you, you black hole. Yuichirou whined in his head.
“Well, Mui’s after this. Anyways, ready?” Mui appeared beside them with a shocked-face, but before Giyuu-senpai starts to protest maybe for himself or for Mui, his twin adds, “If I can?”
Tomioka Giyuu blushing- it’s a sight he wants to keep as a picture, maybe beside Mui’s photos, but he knows any evidence of what they will be doing would lead to their deaths later on- by the other Hashira or those common people, so best just savor this experience.
“Okay, just one round, chocolate alright?” More than alright is your ability to immediately compose yourself, that’s the Water Hashira who created Lull for you, I guess
“Sure. That your favorite?”
“It’s the most common flavor in the bag so best use it.” So they did play, he’ll have to terrorize those children later on.
“Alright,” Giyuu-senpai takes the chocolate end and he takes the other, and after one breath, they start-
A slow pace, but he learns how deep blue that gaze runs and closer, that their nose touches and-
Closer that he can almost drown in the ocean, and yeah, he'll agree, Mui is cute but this guy is tiers above that, they have really just been lowkey ignoring that truth, if anyone says otherwise--
Too close- he wants to stay sane, thank you very much- he bites his end, just one more to the middle, and faster than Giyuu-senpai who blinks before taking the remaining piece and as he swallows, he tries to drag the last bits of brain cells he has and grip it to stay .
“I win.” He nods, I lost purposely because someone needs to stay sane, especially if my brother is going to join the chaos you’re making today.
“Yui-nii lost.” he whispers, trying to catch his breath as he watched his twin and okay fine, his crush go at it-- and said twin looks at him, before subtly cocking his head
Get on with it, he says.
Onii-chan what have you done, he realizes as Yui-nii steps back and Senpai holds a new one out for him and--
He takes a step forward on shaky legs and nearly crashes to the ground, but his brother and Senpai steadies him, the latter studying his eyes.
“You don’t have to if you don’t want to--” kind words, considerate tone, soft eyes, but utterly false against what his entire heart is yelling...
Ah, so this is also why Niichan decided to hell with it and go for it. His heart is beating too fast, he feels like it will jump out of his chest.
Sorry, my fellow Hashira, I’m betraying the plan. Muichirou adds 'make a last will and testament later' on his mental to-do list.
“I’m doing it.” He cut in, before adding, “Just to confirm, would you hold it against anyone if it’s a tie?”
Would it be your first kiss? He would have liked to ask but no-- just the thought makes his blush, and he fights hard to make sure it doesn't show on his face, but he hears the soft pffft from his brother and knows he failed.
“If you are asking if it’s my first kiss, no, I’ve lost that before from Neechan when I caught her from a tree--” Giyuu-senpai answers, “But for today, for the sake of a game,” and he closes his eyes a bit, “Maybe it’s an insane choice for me, but I would have liked to know if you don’t hate me enough to play a game with me.”
He holds the hand grasping the snack, and inquires, “What do you mean? I don’t hate you senpai...”
A sudden wind blows loudly, making his hair fly around.
"But you do.
Because you’ve stopped facing my gaze head on every now and then.
You greet me as a last resort when we meet sometimes.
Because Yuichirou’s been angrier at me somehow.
You also end up just spacing out with me.
Because you’re also avoiding me a bit.
You would go so far to just turn away from me and face Sabito instead- even it it’s angry or anything.
So… you do hate me, right?"
His hold slackens, and Giyuu-senpai just wilts a bit, “Let’s just get this over with.” As he places the snack in his mouth.
This close, with the deep blue darkening a bit, and he knows, they have messed up, when they have decided last month that maybe they should just lessen interacting with him instead, because it drives them crazy-- they’ll end up fighting one another for this person but--
They didn’t realize they were hurting what was most important to them.
He paused before taking the stick, “Giyuu-senpai, I don’t hate you, okay?” He enunciates the words carefully, and just a bit, the shadows lighten up, and this close, he realizes that he has forgotten how strong the person who reminded him and his brother of their own strength-- that he too, needed someone else to lean on, when it couldn’t have been his family. She's lying in a coma after all, unlike Niichan who's with him on an everyday basis.
"Are you okay with this though?" Surprisingly, Giyuu asks, and Muichirou wants to shake him that he's more than okay with this- he nods and takes position at the other end.
So he places his hands on his partner's cheeks and starts, surprising Senpai and he responds- soft black strands on his hands and heating cheeks, and it feels like taking steps as he sink within the waves of the ocean--
Until he drowns, as he falls deep into those blue eyes, as farther below their depths he could go deeper into.
But he senses where his partner has paused, where Giyuu was starting to bite, but-
It might be his only chance, even if it may be misconstrued for a weird holiday-
Even if he wasn't ready yet, but he’ll try to follow as Yui-nii told him, take the first step-
So he darts forward- to where his mouth reaches another, soft like a feather, that point of contact- as their lips touch and a surprised hitch in their breaths, and as he sees those cool gaze widen in surprise.
And admittedly, his own feelings are like the trail of path that materializes before him, so he pauses, not daring to risk further, as he leans back-- he tries to memorize it, watch light shimmer on the piece of the ocean trapped in this person, watch red blossom on pale cheeks and as warmth fill his hands, with all his feelings, hold Giyuu gently to cup those cheeks but firmly that he cannot pull away, “I really like Senpai okay? I didn't know when it started- but I think I knew when you walked in a room and I stare at you longer than necessary."
Muichirou paused to take a deep breath, before admitting, making his gaze meet Giyuu's.
"I was scared and didn't know how to face you. I ended up looking away, to the clouds or to other people and even to the point Yui-nii got, and is exasperated with him..."Almost impossibly, those eyes widened further and he wonders, maybe this person can hear how loud his heart beats, or how his stomach twists, so he finishes, before he lose the bit of courage he has gained. "But I was going for it wrongly. I won’t avoid you any further next time, so be ready for it okay?”
And with that, Senpai just covers his mouth with his hands, but blush starting to subside, controlling himself, blinking rapidly-- processing things, and then the creeping realization of what he just did - he almost mirrors him with how his own skin heats up, and as he processes the words he uttered- he knows this could change their relationship- but--
There is a sense of peace.
I'm glad I got to told you those things...
The conflicting feelings also shone in him, and he understands-- he doesn’t need the answer yet, he’s just happy to have done something, to take a step forward, so he adds, “I do not need an answer from you right now, and I guess, I’m glad that I could convey my feelings properly, at least.”
And a beat or a couple after, exhaling suddenly, and then thankfully, Giyuu-senpai nods, before removing his hands, “Sorry, I was really surprised.”
“Yes today is quite a day...” He trailed off, he scratches his cheek a bit, wondering what the correct course of action is.
"Do you... do you hate me though?" Muichirou dares ask, and thankfully, before his heart could start pounding away again, Giyuu readily shakes his head.
"That's a relief..."
Curiously, this close, he's realized somewhat the familiar gaze was still a bit shrouded so he asks, "Are you thinking that the others hate you?"
The hesitation answered him, as Senpai froze, and then and there, Muichirou decided, he might as well throw fuel to the fire that they have started, “For the rest of your issues, and if your heart can take it, please try to play the game with the other Hashira, okay?”
“Wait, why?” Ah the blush on Senpai’s face was almost gone but it’s now back again. He brushes his hand against his cheek, removing the stray bangs and tucking them on his ear, enjoying the slight shiver on his fingertips and trying to process the electricity that danced on his own.
“You might be surprised about the result. Anyways, don’t worry, my first kiss was also an accidental one with Nii-chan so I didn’t really lose anything, just gained more, actually.” Muichirou added, trying to steer the discussion to a lighter note.
And then he remembers his brother who was just at the side, mouth agape, staring at them in sheer shock. “Yui-nii?”
“I just realized you declared war for today.” His twin coughed before finally answering, “Well it was surprising to see my brother grow up suddenly.”
“Don’t be like that, I’m sure to grow taller than you,” he retorted back, “Anyways, what I did, it might just salvage the day, after all, most plans die from first contact.”
“Plan?” Giyuu cut in, glancing between them with a curious face.
“Giyuu-senpai, you really can be very oblivious, you know?” He muttered and Senpai just huffed, crossing his arms. Too cute.
“I'll bite the bullet further. We have a plan to send you away because you attract too many people that want to play the Game with you. So, yes, today is still dangerous for you.” They were in a school where a lot of people are still actively targeting his Senpai after all, and he just told him to change a bit of plans and play the game they were supposedly not playing , “At all costs, stick with the Hashira, you’re always part of us, don’t forget.”
It’s surprising how those words lighten up those eyes, of shock and embarrassment and curiosity and the myriad of feelings dance within them, and a bit of annoyance creeps in his veins as he realized that he has looked far away from him that he didn’t realize that shadows has started filling up that kind gaze.
But he also realizes that he just spilled an important secret from the very person he should not have told it to, just as Giyuu opens his mouth and he wonders what to say--
Just then another bell rung- the warning bell for afternoon classes.
He's taken too much time from his task today, yet he feels it's too short of a moment spent with this important person.
Muichirou sighed, mentally preparing himself, carefully tucking away , so he started, “That said, it should be time for us to help you get back to class Senpai.”
Yui-nii adds, "And faster, that bell means we have 10 minutes to clean up and bring Senpai to the College Wing."
The trio wince before quickly pack up their mess and start heading back, the twins readying themselves with the dangerous task of returning Tomioka Giyuu to the College student campus side.