Muichiro was exhausted. All he wanted to do was lay down in his futon and sleep.
No. He wanted to lay down in Yui’s futon.
Since he and Yui had returned home after their long stay at the Butterfly Estate, Muichiro had started sleeping with his brother in his futon. He knew Yui was having nightmares, but he never told him about them, and Muichiro never brought them up. He knew Yui would hate that.
Part of the reason Muichiro had began to sleep with Yui in his futon was because of those nightmares. The other reason was for Muichiro himself to feel better. It wasn’t that he was scared of getting attacked again and needed to sleep with his brother to feel safe. He knew he could take care of himself after all the training he’d done, but he was scared for Yui. He was scared that he wouldn’t be able to save him. Sleeping next to him helped him worry less because he knew Yui was right there, and if anything happened, he could protect him. He would never let him get hurt again.
Muichiro was also worried about his brother. Everytime he was away, he worried something would happen, although he knew the chances of that were slim. He was also worried because he didn’t know how his brother was dealing with him being gone.
He’d talked with Miss Amane and Oyakata about it, and he knew Miss Amane would check on him everyday that Muichiro was away and that if anything were to happen, he would be notified immediately. But he still worried.
Whenever he came home from his missions, he almost always found Yui asleep in his futon. Miss Amane had also told him that he was always asleep when she arrived. Based off this, he knew his brother wasn’t sleeping at night, and that worried him even more. He wondered if it was because of the nightmares.
During the talks he’d had on the subject with Miss Amane and Oyakata, they’d all said it would be best if Yui went to stay with the Ubuyashikis while Muichiro was away, but none of them wanted to force him. He needed to decide on his own free will, which knowing his brother, Muichiro knew would be nearly impossible. He couldn’t stand being around anybody, and hardly seemed to tolerate Muichiro, his own brother.
This is why when a crow arrived telling him that he was needed at the Ubuyashiki Estate regarding his brother, he started to worry some more. He’d hoped he’d be able to go straight home and find his brother safe and get to sleep, but that wasn’t happening today.
Had something bad happened to his brother? Why else would he be there? But if he’d been hurt wouldn’t they have brought him to the Butterfly Estate? If he was dead, they would have told him by now, right?
Despite how tired he was, he forced himself to change directions, and walk as fast as he could in the direction of the Ubuyashiki Estate, trying to push the worry aside.
Muichiro was relieved when he saw Yui sitting outside with Miss Amane when he walked up to the Ubuyashiki Estate. He started to make his way over to where the two were sitting to check on his brother, but Miss Amane stood up and met him halfway.
“My husband would like to speak with you first,” she said. “Yuichiro is fine right now. Nothing major happened. I just thought it would be best to bring him here. Now follow me.”
Muichiro did as she said, and followed her after giving one last glance to Yui who was turned away from him watching some of the Ubuyashiki children play.
“Why is he here?” Muichiro asked, as Miss Amane led him to Oyakata.
“He was crying yesterday when I arrived at your house,” she replied. “I offered to let him spend the night, and he accepted, so I brought him here. I was worried about leaving him alone this time, so I’m thankful he decided to come with me.”
“Is he okay?”
“He seems alright now, but there was an incident in the middle of the night last night. He ended up crying again, and he seemed scared. I’m worried about how he’s handling everything. But at the moment, he seems to be doing fine.”
As she finished speaking, the two of them arrived at the room where Oyakata was. Amane told him to wait outside for a moment, and then she slipped inside to talk with her husband for a couple minutes.
The few minutes he had alone gave him some time to think. He had been doing an awful job of taking care of his brother. He knew about the nightmares, but he hadn’t realized the extent that everything was affecting Yui. Muichiro had thought that since he had been mostly fine, that the same would be true with Yui.
He had been wrong.
Muichiro wished his brother would just talk to him more to let him know how he was handling things. But he knew Yui would never open up to him. He never had in the past.
After a few minutes, Miss Amane stepped back out of the room and sent in Muichiro. As he walked in, Oyakata told him to take a seat, and so he did.
“Thank you for letting my brother stay here,” Muichiro said. “I’m always so worried about leaving him alone.”
“He’s always welcome here, and so are you,” Oyakata responded. “We’re the ones who came and found you. We won’t just stop caring now that you’ve joined us and now that your brother has lost an arm. My wife especially feels some responsibility for you two.”
“Thank you.” Yui had always tried to tell him that they didn’t care about them, and as much as Muichiro tried to argue that they did, Yui’s words always got to him. Having confirmation that they really did care from Oyakata himself made him feel better. It was hard to not believe what Oyakata told him.
“I just don’t want to have to burden you. He’s my brother. It’s my fault I wasn’t able to protect him well enough. He should be my responsibility,” he continued. When Muichiro had first woken up at the Butterfly Estate and everything about the attack had finally sunk in. He had felt so much guilt. Yui had lost his arm, and Muichiro hadn’t been able to do anything to prevent it from happening. He never wanted to let that happen again, which is why he had ended up joining the Demon Slayers.
But he was failing his brother. While he was now capable of protecting him, he was often not home to be able to do so, and he hated that. But there was nothing else he could do.
“It’s not a burden,” said Oyakata. “We’ve all enjoyed having him here. And we wouldn’t mind him coming back. My wife told me he said he’d like to keep coming back whenever you’re off on missions.”
“He did?” Muichiro could hardly believe that. Yui barely even put up with him, and they were brothers, and now he was saying he wanted to stay with people who he had only ever complained about in the past.
Oyakata nodded. “I know it’s been hard on you always worrying about how your brother is doing while you’re away, so we’re glad to be able to help. You can bring him here now before you go off on your missions, as long as he continues to be okay with it.”
When Oyakata said that it hit him. He wouldn’t have to worry anymore. Yui would be here while he was away. All he had wanted to be able to do was make sure he would be okay. He always felt useless when he was away, never knowing what was going on with his brother. Now he would know exactly where he was.
He felt so relieved.
Muichiro took a deep breath and started blinking his eyes in an attempt to hold back his tears. He wouldn’t cry. Not in front of Oyakata. He was too old to be crying like this. He rubbed at his eyes with the back of one of his hands.
He felt Oyakata reach out and place a hand on his head. “You don’t have to worry anymore. He’ll be safe here with us.”
When Muichiro arrived outside, he noticed that Yui was no longer seated where he had been. Instead he found him running around and playing with the three Ubuyashiki children that he had seen earlier. He wished it could be him playing with his brother. He couldn’t remember the last time they had.
As he called out his brother’s name, all four of them stopped running and started talking amongst each other for a couple minutes. Then Yui started making his way towards him.
When Yui caught up to him, he immediately grabbed onto Muichiro’s hand and asked, “Can we go home now?”
Muichiro nodded and started to lead the way letting his brother keep hold of his hand, hoping that it made him feel safe. He just wanted him to feel safe.
At home he always did his best to give his brother distance. He knew he got annoyed with him easily, so he gave him his space. But when Yui was the one wanting the attention, Muichiro allowed it. So he let his brother take his hand.
“Oyakata said you’re going to be staying with them whenever I’m away,” he said. “Does this mean you’re starting to understand them more?”
“No,” Yui snapped. “I’m not staying with them because I like them. I still hate the Demon Slayers and anybody who works with them. But their house is a lot nicer than ours, and they feed me, so why would I turn that down.”
Muichiro frowned. Whenever Yui talked about how much he hated the Demon Slayers, he tried not to let it get to him. He tried to tell himself that he wasn’t including him. They were brothers. But recently he started to think maybe he was included in that.
“You seemed to be getting along with some of the kids,” he replied. Maybe if he could get him to admit to that, that would mean he didn’t really hate everybody associated with the Demon Slayers, which would mean Yui might not hate him.
It wasn’t the answer he was hoping for.
“But you were playing with them when I came outside.”
“I wanted to see what it was like because it’s not like you’re ever around to play with.”
He wanted to be. He really did.
Muichiro took a deep breath and once again held back his tears. He would not cry in front of his brother.
“I just want to be able to protect you. That’s why I joined the Demon Slayers,” he said. “That’s why I can’t be home all the time.”
“I told you that’s not your job. I’m older. I can take care of myself just fine. And it’s my job to look after you.”
Muichiro knew Yui didn’t want to be protected. But he also knew he couldn’t take care of himself as well as he thought he could. He let his brother yell at him. It didn’t matter if he hated him. Yui was his brother, and he would take care of him no matter what.
“Miss Amane said you were crying last night. She said you looked scared. She said when she came by the house yesterday you were crying then too. How are you supposed to take care of yourself when you’re like that?” He wished Yui would just understand. He wasn’t looking down on him.
“She’s lying. I’m not scared. I don’t need you!”
It hurt. He’d tried to ignore if for so long. But it hurt.
Muichiro pulled his hand away from Yui’s, not wanting to touch him right now. His cheeks felt wet. He didn’t even notice he’d started crying.
“You obviously hate me!” he snapped. He didn’t want to admit it. But he knew it was true. He tried so hard to be nice to his brother, but Yui just would never like him. He started to wipe the tears off his face. “”Why don’t you just stay with them? Why even bother coming home if you don’t want to be there with me?”
It wasn’t fair. It seemed like Yui cared more about the Ubuyashikis than about him. He’d looked so happy playing with the kids, and he had looked so content when he had been sitting outside with Amane. Why couldn’t his brother care about him like that?
The rest of the walk home was silent.
Muichiro turned his head to look to where the voice was coming from, which he realized afterwards was a mistake. He felt so much pain moving even just a little bit.
“Don’t try moving too much yet,” the voice said. It was Shinobu. He was at the Butterfly Estate. “I heard you killed a Lower Moon. Congratulations.”
“I don’t think he knows you’re here. Would you like me to have a crow sent?”
Muichiro started to shake his head in response, but it hurt too much. “No,” he said instead. “He’ll already know. He’s staying with Oyakata and his family. Don’t let him in if he comes.”
Muichiro had hardly spoken to his brother since they had fought on their way home from the Ubuyashiki’s. He didn’t want to bother him, so he gave him space like he often tried to do, and only spoke to him if absolutely necessary, deciding to let Yui be the one to talk first. Not that he did.
But Yui coming to visit him now was different. He knew Yui would just get mad at him, and he didn’t want to deal with that right now. If Yui came he didn’t know if he’d be able to stop himself from crying.
“Did something happen?” Shinobu asked.
“It doesn’t matter,” said Muichiro. “Just please don’t let him in.”
“Alright. I’ll let everybody know not to let him in.”
Muichiro heard his brother talking as he woke, but couldn’t yet make out any words.
“Yui?” He opened his eyes and looked up at him. “What are you doing here? I told them not to let you in.”
“I have a letter for you from Oyakata. He asked me to deliver it.”
Muichiro wondered if Oyakata had done this on purpose. If he knew something was wrong, and he had sent Yui here as a way to get the two of them to talk. He hadn’t spoken with him since he had picked up Yui, so he wondered if Yui had said something, or if Oyakata had just figured out himself something was off.
As Yui pulled out the letter he was delivering, Muichiro reached up his hand to grab it and winced. He was still a bit sore from his mission and figured he was going to end up staying here for at least a few days.
“You can go now,” Muichiro said as he pulled the letter out of his brother’s hand, placing it on his lap. “You delivered the letter, so you can leave.”
He couldn’t have Yui stay here much longer. He could feel tears already threatening to spill over. He wasn’t going to cry in front of him again.
“I just want to make sure you’re okay.”
Muichiro turned his head as the tears finally started to fall. Yui couldn’t actually mean that. He couldn’t actually care. If he wanted to make sure he was okay, it was only for himself.
“Please just leave already,” he said, voice cracking. He hated it. He hated how he sounded. Yui was going to know he was crying.
He listened to Yui’s footsteps as he left the room and closed the door behind him. Once he was sure he wasn’t coming back, Muichiro slowly pulled himself into a sitting position and wiped the tears from his face.
He opened the letter.
A few days later, Muichiro was starting to feel a lot better. He was now able to move more without being in so much pain. After having read the letter from Oyakata, he knew he needed to talk with Yui, so when Shinobu stopped by to check on him that morning, he asked her if she could send his brother to talk to him.
When Yui arrived Muichiro was already sitting up in bed. As Yui pulled up a seat and sat down next to the bed, Muichiro took a deep breath. He wasn’t ready for this conversation, but it needed to happen.
“I need to talk to you,” he said. “I’m going to be a Pillar. This probably means I’ll be busy more often, but it’ll be okay because you can stay with Oyakata and his family.”
The letter he had received from Oyakata had told him all this. Since he had killed one of the Lower Moons, he was going to become a Pillar. Oyakata had also told him in the letter that his family would continue to allow Yui to stay with them and that they would be happy to have him since he would likely spend a lot more time with them now.
“You’re only twelve. Why would Oyakata make you a Pillar?” Yui asked, sounding angry. Muichiro knew this was how he would react.
“Well they’ve been down a few recently, and I killed one of the Lower Moons, so it doesn’t matter how old I am,” he responded.
“You’ve only been a Demon Slayer for a few months.” Yui looked like he was starting to panic. Did that mean he was actually worried?”
“I know, but-” he started before being cut off.
“Why do you keep doing this! Why can’t you just quit already? Please.”
Muichiro wished he could just get Yui to understand that he was doing this all for him. He was just trying to protect him. He wasn’t going to let him get hurt again. He wasn’t going to die. Whenever he went on missions he made sure never to get too reckless, because he needed to get back home to his brother. Yui needed him, so he wasn’t going to let himself get killed no matter what.
He couldn’t deal with this anymore right now. All he wanted to do was to let Yui know what was happening, and now that was done.
“I don’t want to fight with you anymore, Yui,” he said. “Please leave. I just thought I’d let you know.”
The next thing he knew his brother had his arm wrapped around him. Muichiro winced, still a bit sore.
“Yui?” This wasn’t what he was expecting at all. He was expecting more arguing coming from Yui. Not a hug.
“I don’t hate you,” he heard his brother whisper.
It took him a few seconds to comprehend everything. Something about the way Yui said it made it sound like he truly meant it. It was all Muichiro needed to hear. Since their parents had died, the thought that his brother hated him was always there. He never did anything to make Muichiro think otherwise. But this felt like confirmation that Muichiro had been wrong all along.
“I’m glad,” he said once Yui pulled away.
Once Yui had left, Muichiro let himself smile.