Voices of the Past @aglobuzzy
Water Foxes

Giyu Tomioka was born on February eighth in Nogata. He was the second of two children, with his sister Tsutako being five years older. Their family was well off, and they lived in a big house.

Giyu was born with memories of a past life. A life where his parents died young from an unpredicted cold season. A life where his sister was killed by demons on her wedding night. A life where he was labelled insane for trying to speak of demons. And that was only the beginning.

The memories haunted him in the form of nightmares. For the first year of his life, there wasn’t a night Giyu could sleep through without waking his parents up with crying. After a while, he began getting used to the dreams, though it would take him several more years to process them.

Giyu didn’t speak for the first two and a half years of his life. His parents worried and took him to the doctor, but they found nothing wrong. In truth, Giyu didn’t speak because he was still trying to piece his new life together.

He couldn’t understand everything, with the brain and body of a child. But, Giyu understood that he had a sword and fought against demons. Something akin to the modern day Hero. No, there was nothing glamorous about it. He saw people get hurt, and, as he began to understand later, die.

He remembered there were other people, too. An old man he called Urokodaki-sensei. A friend with pink hair and a scar. Sabito. A pair of kids he treated like his little siblings, bearing the family name Kamado. A girl with a teasing smile and an airy laugh, Shinobu. A man with scars and bloodshot eyes, who he spent his final years with, someone by the name of Sanemi. The man he fell in love with.

Giyu considered asking his sister or his parents if they remembered anything like that. But, he kept his mouth shut. He didn’t want to risk the possibility of being labelled delusional again.

“Do you believe in demons?” He asked his sister in a roundabout way, as a test, a riddle to figure out how much she knew, if anything.

Tsutako laughed and smiled. “Yu-chan, there’s no such thing as demons. But, if there were, you don’t need to be afraid. If demons did exist, nee-san would protect you.”

She didn’t remember. If she did, she wouldn’t say they didn’t exist. Giyu felt very lonely.

His right arm hurt a lot. He knew he had lost it when he was fighting demons. Maybe suddenly getting it back was stressful on his body.

In this life, Giyu became left handed.

At age four, Giyu manifested his Quirk when his mother accidentally knocked over a glass of water. The cup almost fell on his head, but Giyu did not react to it, standing completely still. After a moment, there was no impact, or the sound of shattering glass as the cup hit the floor. Giyu felt a light mist shower over him. He opened one eye, and saw that the glass and the water inside had been reduced to a fine dust. His mother was crying, hugging him tightly and asking if he was alright. Giyu nodded a little.

His Quirk got the name Dead Calm. If Giyu enters a state of absolute calmness and activates his Quirk, any non living object that enters a range of two and a half meters around him could be turned to dust.

Dead Calm. Breath of Water, Eleventh Form. The move he invented himself, now twisted and corrupted in the form of a Quirk, that so much resembled the Blood Demon Arts that were used against him. It wasn’t a sword technique anymore, but a part of his old life that latched onto him in an unnatural way.

Even so, Giyu tried to put his past life behind him. For some miraculous reason, he had been given another chance. He didn’t want to waste it. But, as he found, it became increasingly difficult to live in a world where he felt like he didn’t belong.

His parents chalked it up to him being a shy kid, but, somehow, Tsutako knew better.

“Yu-chan,” she said when she was twelve and Giyu was seven. “You always seem so sad. What’s wrong?”

Giyu was silent. “Nothing,” he said eventually.

Tsutako didn’t buy it. She didn’t want to say that something was wrong with him, because she knew how upset he got when other kids on the playground called him weird. At the same time, she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was horribly wrong.

“Yu-chan, look,” she decided. “You don’t have to tell me right now. But, I know you’re upset by something. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know, alright?”

Giyu was grateful to have Tsutako as a sister. Even if she didn’t fully understand, she at least tried. He hoped she wouldn’t die this time.

If there was one thing Giyu was thankful for in this advanced, Quirk filled society, it was the progression of medicine. When a cold season came and his parents fell ill, doctors were able to save them. They might have never understood him the way Tsutako did, and they probably never will, but he didn’t want them to die.

When Giyu was ten, Tsutako was babysitting him and decided to take him to the mall for shopping. Giyu let her take him by the hand and lead him along. It felt nice, having the opportunity to be treated as a kid when he didn’t have a childhood in his past life.

Something caught his eye in one the shop windows, and he stopped short, his hand slipping out of Tsutako’s. She noticed and stopped, as well.

“What is it, Yu-chan?”

Giyu was looking at a shirt in the display window. It was in a hexagonal pattern, alternating between two shades of green, yellow, and orange in an intricate design. Sabito’s old pattern.

After some pleading, Tsutako agreed to buy him the shirt. When he got home, Giyu cut a small hole near the collar. He vowed to carry the cut off piece of fabric with him at all times. That way, if he ever found Sabito, he could show it to him and see if he also remembered.

When Giyu was eleven, his sister came home with the news that she found a boyfriend. She said he was a year older than her, and a Hero student. Her parents were thrilled and asked her to invite him over for dinner. Tsutako protested and said they weren’t at that stage yet.

Giyu felt apprehensive. In his last life, Tsutako died the night before her wedding, when she was a little over seventeen. That date was fast approaching. Even though this life had been more just and kind so far, there was no telling when it could take a turn for the worse.

Tsutako dated that guy for a few more months before deciding to bring him over. The night before the dinner, Giyu crept out of bed and went to her room.

“What is it, Yu-Chan?” She asked sleepily when he tapped her shoulder.

“Can I stay with you tonight?”

“Aren’t you a bit old for that?” Still, she let him curl up beside her. Giyu didn’t sleep that night, just keeping a close eye on the bedroom door. If any demon - or anyone at all - tried to hurt his sister this time, he’d protect her.

No one came that night. Giyu had never been more relieved in either of his lives.

Tsutako’s boyfriend was now a UA graduate. He was Nogata for an internship when he met her, or so he said. Now that he graduated, he became a sidekick at the agency he interned at and moved to Nogata.

“So, what’s this little guy’s big plans?” He asked at the dinner.

“Oh, Yu-chan hasn’t thought of anything like that,” Tsutako said.

It was true. Giyu hadn’t. He didn’t have his parents’ interest in business, nor did he particularly like psychology like Tsutako. His profession - if it could even be called that - in his past life was being a Demon Slayer. It was all he knew.

“Well, there’s always the Hero path,” the boyfriend suggested with a hint of arrogance. “We could always use fresh hands. Your Quirk any good?”

Giyu didn’t engage in the conversation after that. He had no interest in a Pro Hero career. It was too oversaturated for him, too much spotlight for a job as humble as saving people. It was one of the perks of the Demon Slayers. No one knew him personally.

Still, Giyu realized that if he was going to protect his family this time, he needed to get stronger.

At age twelve, Giyu began training.

He needed to rebuild his strength to what it was at his prime. He knew all the techniques, he just needed to practice them until they became second nature again. Total Concentration Breathing, day in, day out. Full body workouts, even his hurt right arm. Tsutako was there to make sure he didn’t over exert himself.

“If you’re not going for a Pro Hero career, maybe you could be a gym teacher?” She suggested. “Or a sports star.”

Teacher, maybe. Sports star, definitely not.

When he turned thirteen, Giyu got permission to begin walking around town by himself. The freedom was nice, since his parents tended to shelter him. As much as having an actual childhood this time around was relaxing, Giyu still had over twenty years of memories and experiences. He never truly felt like a child.

Giyu was walking home from school when he spotted a small shop on a street corner one block down from his house. It looked like a wood carving shop. On the display sill, he saw a collection of fox masks.

The kind that Urokodaki-sensei used to carve.

He quickly texted Tsutako, saying he might be a bit late. Giyu pushed open the door to the shop, glancing around. Wooden carvings lined the shelves, including both masks and figurines. He figured this stuff had long since gone out of fashion.

Maybe Urokodaki-sensei remembered.

“Can I help you?”

Giyu looked up to the counter. The man behind it wasn’t Urokodaki-sensei.

“... No, I’m good.”

Sure, he was disappointed, but Giyu tried not to feel too discouraged, wrapping his fingers around the torn cloth in his pocket. If Sabito was alive and if he remembered, maybe he would see this shop, too. Giyu stopped by the wood carving shop every few weeks to browse, and sometimes asking about a pink haired boy with ghostly eyes the color of lavender.

No one matching that description ever showed up at the shop.

One day, four months after he first saw the wood carvings, Giyu was ready to go into the shop after school, but got a text from Tsutako asking him to come home and help make dinner. On the news that evening, he saw a story about how a teenage boy was kidnapped as he was exiting the woodcarving shop. A local Hero found the kidnapper two days later, but the boy was already dead. A pink haired boy with ghostly eyes the color of lavender. He had a scar on his cheek and he was wearing a shirt in that hexagonal green and yellow pattern.

Giyu didn’t leave his room for a week after learning this news. His parents thought he was being paranoid after seeing the news. Tsutako thought he had been frightened because he owned the same shirt as the kidnapped boy. Giyu buried himself under his blanket, quietly crying and hugging the shirt to his chest.

Sabito had been alive, and now he wasn’t. They had just missed each other. Sabito had gone to the wood carving shop. Happy coincidence, or did he also remember, and was searching for his friend? Once again, Giyu had avoided death and Sabito hadn’t.

He remembered how, in his last days of life, he and Sanemi said they’d do everything right in their next life. So much for that.

In a world saturated with Heroes, they couldn’t save Sabito.

The woodcarving shop closed down the following week.

Tsutako married young, when she was still only twenty. Giyu was fifteen. He understood that marrying this young was no longer a custom in this society, but his sister seemed happy. While her fiance- well, husband now - still seemed arrogant and snobbish, Giyu had to acknowledge that he treated Tsutako well. And if Tsutako was happy, he could be happy, too.

More years passed. Giyu was still undecided on his direction in life. There were a few times he considered becoming a vigilante, but fighting in it of itself wasn’t appealing. He wanted to use this life as a chance to live a peaceful life.

“I want to move to Tokyo,” he told his parents when he was seventeen.

“Are you sure?” They asked. “It’s pretty far.”

Giyu shrugged. “I’m still not sure what to do with myself. Maybe I’ll find something there.”

Giyu moved out after that. He rented a small flat in the center of Tokyo city. To pay for rent, he got a job at a library down his street where he helped shelve books.

Giyu wasn’t happy. He didn’t feel like he belonged in this world. To this day, he struggled with technology in the way an elderly person might. His coworkers heckled him when it took him three attempts to print out a document. It felt unnatural, like he was a stranger in someone else’s story.

“You know what you need,” Tsutako told him during a video call. “A girlfriend.”

“I’m not interested in women.”

“A boyfriend, then?” Tsutako amended. “Someone on the same wavelength as you, so that you can understand each other. I’m here for you, of course, but there’s only so much I can do.”

Giyu nodded along, not very interested. He doubted anyone could truly understand remembering a past life.

Unless they remembered, too.

Giyu had always expected people from his old life to wander into this life, but he never actively sought them out.

Giyu went about creating his first social media account. Maybe, he could try to find someone. They could talk, be there for each other.

He searched for Sakonji Urokodaki first. He could use the guidance of his mentor.

No results. Giyu felt his heart sink.

Tanjiro Kamado.

No results.

Nezuko Kamado.

No results.

Shinobu Kocho.

No results.

Giyu stared at the screen with desperation. Now that this idea had been seated in his head, he felt a strange yearning for companionship. He didn’t want to be alone again.

He tried again. He searched for the man who understood him like no other.

Sanemi Shinazugawa.

One result.

Giyu breathed out, shocked to finally find success. He clicked on the profile that showed up. The profile showed the Sanemi he remembered so well, from the hair to the eyelashes. The only difference was the lack of scarring on his face.

Giyu clicked on the box to private message him, but stopped short. Just because Sanemi existed in this world didn’t mean he remembered. His parents didn’t remember. Tsutako didn’t remember. Giyu felt his fingers tremble. He didn’t want to get his hopes up.

He could test it, though. A test would cost him nothing. At worst, Sanemi would be confused and maybe block him on the app. But…

After a moment of hesitation, Giyu typed out, “Do you remember?”

He hit send.

Me: Can Giyu be happy? Also me: No.
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