Sanemi Shinazugawa was born on November twenty ninth in Chuo. He was the - so far, at least - oldest and only child. His family wasn’t rich, but they had enough to get by.
Sanemi was born with memories of a past life. A life where his father was horrifically abusive. A life where his mother turned into a demon. A life where his precious little brother called him a murderer. And that was only the beginning.
He was scared of the memories, and he tended to lash out violently. All he knew in his past life was pain and fighting, and he fully expected that to carry over here. He couldn’t even feel safe around his parents.
Because these people were not his parents.
He was pretty sure his mother didn’t have white hair like him. That had been an oddity in his past life, being born with strange white locks into a family of black hair. His previous mother never grew old enough for her hair to turn gray. This woman, however kind and gentle, was not his mother.
His Newfather was different, too. Not as big. He wore funny looking glasses, and he developed perfumes. He didn’t seem to understand why Sanemi never wanted to be around him, and his wife would lightly tease him for that. He was a man with a penchant for punny humor who clearly adored his wife and child.
Still, Sanemi couldn’t help but be afraid of him. Whenever he brought in alcohol, or came home with the faint smell of beer around him, Sanemi did his best to either leave the room or get between him and Newmother.
The memories haunted him. When he looked into a mirror, Sanemi couldn’t recognize himself with his younger face and without the scars. The world seemed too bright now that he could process colors again. The index and middle fingers on his right hand felt stiff and it hurt to move them.
Sanemi was scared, angry, and lonely. He didn’t understand why he was reborn. Why some higher power decided to shove him back into the body of a child and into the hands of people he did not know. Was this some kind of sick joke? This wasn’t his family, this wasn’t his life. He just couldn’t understand why he was here.
That is, until his Newmother became pregnant with her second child.
“You’re going to be a big brother,” his Newmother tried to explain to him, but Sanemi could barely listen. He finally understood why he was born again.
Because he was being given a second chance to be a good older brother.
His past life’s biggest regret was how he treated Genya. Every mean comment he sent his brother’s way in his attempt to push him away from danger, only for it all to backfire as Genya died in his arms. Sanemi suddenly remembered one of his last conversations with Giyu, that they’d do everything right next time. Well, that opportunity just presented itself to him on a silver platter.
This time, he’ll do everything right. He’ll shower Genya in the love and affection he deserved. When Genya was old enough to understand, Sanemi would apologize for everything.
Sanemi’s parents didn’t understand why Sanemi’s demeanor changed so suddenly, but they were overjoyed that their son finally seemed happy. He was enamored with the idea of being a big brother.
Sanemi didn’t even seem to care when his Quirk manifested. While running to the car to help unpack some of the new purchases for the baby, he tripped and fell, scraping his knee. His Newfather ran over to help, only to be hit with the strong scent of alcohol. He almost tripped himself from the sudden lack of coordination. It was a perfect blend of his Newmother’s ability to produce wine and his Newfather’s ability to alter scents. It got the name of Rare Blood. Anyone who caught the scent of Sanemi’s blood would experience symptoms of intoxication.
Rare Blood. Marechi. The quality that made Sanemi so special in his past life. Now, it was only a small Quirk in a world of oddities. He wondered what kind of Quirk Genya would have, since there were no more demons to eat. He had that tree Blood Demon Art, right? Maybe he could grow plants or something.
When his Newparents started buying baby clothes in preparation, Sanemi insisted they go for a watermelon theme. “They’ll love watermelon,” he told them, hugging the giant watermelon pillow he just picked out.
Life, however, had other plans.
Sanemi was staying at a neighbor’s house while his Newparents went to the hospital. He could feel the excitement in his bones. In a few days, he’ll be able to see his little brother again.
It was going to be Genya. It had to be. The dates lined up perfectly, with the seventh of January right around the corner. They’d have everything they ever wanted. Food, clothes, a loving family. Sanemi would be a good big brother this time.
He overheard the neighbor on a phone call with who he assumed was his Newfather. She cried and offered her condolences.
Sanemi realized that something very wrong had happened.
His Newparents came back a few days later, tired, distraught, with no baby brother.
“Genya’s not coming, is he?” He softly asked.
“How did-” his Newfather started to ask.
Sanemi shrugged his shoulders. His nose twitched as he tried not to cry. “I- I overheard you talking with Miss Mumei.”
His Newfather shook his head. “No, I meant, I don’t think we told you what we were planning on naming him.”
“... That… it’s just what I’ve been calling him in my head.”
His Newmother started crying at that. His Newfather hugged and tried to console her. Sanemi quietly went to his room and locked himself in. He hugged the watermelon pillow to his chest. That was going to be his first gift to Genya. He was never going to get the chance to give it to him.
His Newmother knocked on his door an hour later and asked him to open it. When he did, she wrapped him in a hug.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I know how excited you were.”
Sanemi nodded his head a little. He didn’t want her to apologize to him. She was the one who lost her child, and Sanemi could only imagine her grief. His Newfather came too and joined the hug.
Maybe these people weren’t his original parents. But, he could come to see them as family.
Over the next two months, his Newparents began selling and giving away all the toys and clothes they bought. Sanemi held on to the pillow. In his past life, the only thing he had of Genya left was his yukata. This time, he had the pillow.
That night, Sanemi dreamt of screaming his throat coarse, begging God not to take his little brother away as Genya disintegrated into flecks of dust, murmuring apologies for insignificant and trivial things.
Why? Why, in this advanced world with Quirks and medicine, why didn’t his baby brother get delivered safely?
Sanemi became more withdrawn again after that. He wasn’t reborn to be given a second chance. The only explanation left was the original one. Whatever higher power there was just wanted to play a sick joke on him.
He got into a lot of fights as a kid in school. The unfamiliar, stressful environment paired with the literal years of painful memories caused his anger to flare out of control. This wasn’t what humans looked like. The hair, the eyes, the extra limbs… they looked like demons. There was so much he had to unlearn.
“Learn how to control your kid!” He heard his teachers tell his Newparents many times. He could feel the disappointment in their gazes, the “we didn’t raise you this way” energy radiating off them. Whatever miniscule connection he had built up with them was already starting to fray.
They would sit him down in the living room and make him watch cartoon characters say, “Never judge a person by their Quirk!” He would numbly nod along and try not flinch every time he saw a classmate with horns.
Sanemi just wished there was someone who could understand him, someone who could give him company. Genya would have understood. In his past life, he used to be exasperated by Masachika’s cheerful smiles and “big brother attitude,” but now he’d do anything to get his guidance back. He wanted to see Kanae so that they could bond over having little siblings. Giyu understood him like no one else. Even the Kamado brats would suffice.
When he was ten, Sanemi had grown tired of being alone and misunderstood.
“There used to be demons. They ate people, but some humans fought against them using special swords. I-I was one of those people,” he told his Newparents. He hoped - prayed - they’d at least try to understand.
They exchanged concerned glances. His Newmother let out a nervous laugh. His Newfather patted him on the head.
“That’s quite the vivid imagination you’ve got, Sanemi.”
Sanemi didn’t try to get them to understand again. Their relationship grew frail once more, fizzling out into nothingness. He realized that it would be impossible to connect to anyone from this life.
Vivid imagination, huh? Then why was every memory in such perfect detail? Why did he remember the exact locations of Masachika’s scars? Why did he remember the exact pattern of Kanae’s butterfly clips? Why did he remember the exact shade of Giyu’s eyes? Why did he remember the exact curves of the Kamados’ smiles?
Why did he remember the exact words Genya mumbled as he crumbled into dust, voice dipping in and out, gradually weakening and fading away as his eyes shut to the lethargic sensation that came with death?
Sanemi didn’t want to remember. Not if he was to go through this life entirely alone.
Anger was his outlet. At thirteen, Sanemi joined a Quirk free martial arts school and relearned how to fight. He rebuilt his more muscular frame, he started to practice Total Concentration Breathing again. When he sparred against fellow students, he almost always won. They accused him of cheating, but couldn’t prove anything.
He spent as much time as he could out of the house. He took long routes home, he stopped to pet every single dog that passed by him. He found a small tacky souvenir shop that sold pinwheels and he bought every single one.
Sanemi got into his first altercation with the police when he was sixteen.
“- and the use of your Quirk with no permit-”
“That guy was mugging someone! When I tried to step in, he punched me in the face! My Quirk activates on its own, there’s literally no helping that!”
“Then you shouldn't have interfered,” the officer reprimanded him. “You should have called for a Pro.”
“It took one ten minutes to show up after the incident. They wouldn’t have gotten there in time,” Sanemi tried to explain, but the officer was having none of it. He was sent home with a bandage on his nose and a fine. His Newparents weren’t happy.
Sanemi packed his belongings and moved out that night.
He moved to a different part of Tokyo. The bustling metropolis was even more vibrant than the city he saw in his final months of his past life. He was drawn to the lights and colors. It was so bright, and this time he could actually experience everything in his young, healthy body.
He rented a small apartment and started studying to become a math tutor. He got a job at an animal shelter to pay the bills. He fought crime in his free time, got in more trouble with the police. They called him a vigilante.
He couldn’t trust this world’s justice system. Just like in his old life, the system was complacent, lazy. The old government didn’t seem to notice literal demons running around. In the old world, the “vigilantes” that the police despised so much were the ones who stopped the Demon King from rising to power.
Life was dull, if the nightmarish memories were discounted. Sanemi got himself a pet rhinoceros beetle and a dog. While his new shiba puppy wasn’t trained in emotional support, its company was helpful beyond measure, especially since Sanemi refused to see a therapist. He cooked ohagi as often as he could, and decorated the apartment with pinwheels. He kept the watermelon pillow at his bed.
Still, Sanemi felt lonely. The dog and beetle helped, but he was still missing something intrinsically human. He wanted someone to understand. He didn’t want to live in the isolation he forced himself into before. The same isolation that got his little brother killed.
Sanemi wondered what Genya would think of him now. If he was still somewhere up there in heaven, watching over him in the way Sanemi failed to watch over him. Or did he get reborn, too, just not as his brother. Was he searching for him, too?
He wondered what the others were doing, if they were here. What kind of Quirks did they have, what were they doing? He wanted to know. He… cared about them, as much as he didn’t like to admit it. Did Giyu still love him if he was here, or had he moved on?
He checked social media often to see if anyone else reincarnated, but nothing came up.
Until a warm summer afternoon when he was seventeen. He was playing with his puppy when he heard a ping from his phone. He tossed the dog a treat and went to check. Someone had sent him a private message.
Giyu Tomioka, 3:27 PM- Do you remember?