Tuesday came. On that day, only Shoto and Katsuki came for the internship. Izuku was to reschedule classes for the following Thursday, followed by all three of them attending on Friday. In addition to the mandatory weekend internships, Endeavor requested they come in twice during the school week. After their Tuesday morning classes, Katuski and Shoto caught the first train available to Endeavor’s agency.
Though on a technicality, with the intervention of the Pillars, they did manage to resolve an incident before Endeavor. As such, he pushed them even more than during their first week. They chased after him, practiced their Ultimate Moves, patrolled the afternoon streets. But, their minds were occupied with something else.
It was five thirty when Endeavor finished their training for the day and ordered them to get a bullet train back to UA campus. Katsuki and Shoto packed their belongings, but headed in the opposite direction of the train station. They headed to the local library.
“We can always change our minds,” Shoto offered.
“No,” Katsuki shook his head. “We’re getting our hands on that book.”
After reading the excerpt from “The Demon Slayers,” Katsuki and Shoto became determined to read the full book. The preface and introduction made no mention of Sabito or Genya. Though they now knew the identities of the Wind and Water Pillars, they didn’t get the answers they desired. They couldn’t find an online version of it anywhere. Their last option was to check out a physical library.
“So, Icy Hot, since we know their true identities, shouldn’t we turn them in?” Katsuki asked as they walked to the library. “They are vigilantes, after all.”
Shoto pondered it and shook his head. “Not yet, anyways. We need answers first.”
“Any new theories on why they look exactly like the people in the photo?”
Shoto shook his head again. “Maybe they are just avid cosplayers. Or could it be some sort of time travel Quirk at work?”
“Didn’t the introduction say they died of some curse?”
“Maybe it was a time travel Quirk, and they just thought it was a curse. This would have happened before Quirks manifested, though. It’s unclear.”
Katsuki shrugged. They arrived at the library. The massive shelves and collections of tomes greeted them. Visitors and workers bustled around.
“What would this book even be classified as?” Shoto pondered. “Fantasy? Nonfiction? Historical fiction?”
Katsuki looked around for a moment, taking in the layout of the library. “I’ll take any section that falls under fiction. You take nonfiction. Shoot a text if you find anything. If not, meet back here in an hour.”
Shoto nodded in agreement. “Remember, we are looking for ‘The Demon Slayers’ by Agatsuma.”
“I know,” Katsuki said, rolling his eyes. The boys split up, each heading to their respective sections.
An hour later, and neither found the book in question. They met up near the entrance. The disappointed looks on their faces told them everything.
“Should have known,” Katsuki grumbled. “If you can’t find it on the web, what are the chances of there being a physical copy at a library.”
“What should we do?” Shoto asked.
Katsuki paused, thinking. “These librarians should all be literature nerds, right? Maybe one of them will know something.”
Shoto was quick to locate the nearest librarian by the uniform button up and suit pants. He waved Katsuki over as he went to get his attention.
“Excuse me? We are looking for-”
The librarian jolted and whirled around. Ocean blue eyes met Shoto’s stone gray and icy blue ones.
The Water Pillar.
“Giyu Tomioka?” Shoto said, sparing a glance at the man’s name tag.
Katsuki tilted his head in disinterest. “Who’d have thought we’d find you here?”
Giyu’s face was impassive, the look of shock fading from his features. “What can I do for you?” He said, voice giving no indication he knew them.
“We are looking for a book. It’s called ‘The Demon Slayers’ by Agatsuma,” Shoto said.
Giyu blinked a few times, and sighed. “So you’ve figured it out.”
“Not quite,” Katsuki growled with a sneer. “We’re hoping you can enlighten us.”
Giyu pondered this for a minute. “I suppose we’ve peaked your interest and owe you an explanation. Hang on a minute. My shift is almost done.”
He left to go to the front desk. Katsuki and Shoto exchanged glances.
“Can we trust him?” Katsuki asked. “He is technically a criminal.”
Shoto shrugged. “He seems genuine. And he did help save Natsuo.”
Giyu came back a moment later. “It would be best to talk somewhere else. I know a cafe nearby.”
“You’d better not be leading us into a trap,” Katsuki said, voice dripping in suspicion.
“Likewise,” Giyu said simply. “Endeavor’s not going to be waiting out there, right?”
Shoto shook his head. “No, you don’t have to worry about him. He’s patrolling on the other side of the city right now.”
“Good, or Sanemi - the Wind Pillar, I mean - would probably try to fight him on the spot. He hates him.”
Giyu pulled out his phone. “I’m gonna phone him right now. Going to tell him to meet up with us.”
He put the phone to his ear. “Hey, Sanemi… Yes, I’m fine… So, you remember those two Heroes in training from last week… Yes, those two… Well, guess who just ran into me at my day job… I think they just want answers… Can you meet us at the cafe… Alright, see you soon.”
He hung up the call and put his phone in his pocket.
“Well, lead the way, Tacky Haori,” Katsuki scowled.
“Don’t insult the haori,” Giyu said, his voice cold. “Follow me.”
He led them to a cafe a few streets away from the library. “Sanemi will be joining us in about ten minutes. Feel free to order something in the meantime.”
“Hey, Giyu!” A waitress with wavy auburn hair greeted them. It was clear that he was a regular here. “The usual, right?”
The waiter noticed Katsuki and Shoto. “I didn’t know you knew these two, Giyu! I saw you in the Sports Fest! Wow, it’s an honor! What can I get for you?”
“I’ll have mango mochi,” Shoto said.
“I guess I’ll have a tonkatsu sando,” Katsuki said.
Giyu, Katsuki, and Shoto were silent for a minute.
“Okay, I’ve got a question for you,” Katsuki started. “How did you not recognize our voices from the Sports Festival?”
“We didn’t watch it,” Giyu said with a blank expression. “Put frankly, we have no interest in this Heroism stuff.”
“Well, I guess that explains it,” Shoto said.
They were awkwardly silent for a few more minutes until food arrived. Giyu had ordered a platter of ohagi.
“Isn’t that super sweet?” Shoto asked through a mouthful of mochi.
“That’s what makes it so delicious.” The Wind Pillar - Sanemi - came up behind Shoto and Katsuki. He walked around the table and gave Giyu a quick kiss before sitting down next to it.
“It’s sickening,” Katsuki grumbled. “How can you stomach so much sugar?”
Sanemi’s eyes went wide for a moment before glazing over with a saddened realization. He looked away, mumbling something along the lines of, “No brother of mine would insult ohagi.”
“We’ll get to that,” Giyu said. “I guess we should start by saying this is a long story. And very... odd. You’ll probably think we’re crazy.”
“Look, we already think you’re crazy,” Katsuki said, ignoring Giyu’s glare and Sanemi’s look of hurt. “But, we want answers, alright? We’ll even accept the crazy ones.”
“Alright,” Sanemi said after a moment. “In that case, tell us how much you know.”
“We read the preface and introduction of ‘The Demon Slayers’ by Zenitsu Agatsuma, that was then published by his great grandson,” Shoto began.
“Ah, that book,” Sanemi muttered. “We’ve been trying to get our hands on a copy ourselves, but it’s been difficult. It’s too old and too niche to have an online version, and physical copies are super rare.”
“What did the section you read say?” Giyu asked.
“It basically said that there was a group called the Demon Slayers in the 1900s, that they defeated a ‘Demon King,’ and that there was some sort of curse. There was a photograph of a group of people, two of which looked identical to you. We figured out your names based on the caption, and found out that you were two of the people killed by this curse.”
“That’s all of the book we were able to find online,” Katsuki continued. “So we hoped to find a copy at the library. That’s when we ran into Tacky Haori.”
“Don’t insult the haori.”
“So, it sounds like you’ve got the basics down,” Sanemi said, resting his chin in the palm of his hand. “I guess Giyu and I can fill you in on the details.”
He and Giyu met gazes. Giyu took in a deep breath and started. “This isn’t our first life. We used to be Demon Slayers, and we were reincarnated in this time period with all of our memories.”
“Reincarnation?” Katsuki asked with a look of skepticism. “That’s hard to believe.”
“What would be the point of us coming up with such a ridiculous lie if it wasn’t true?” Giyu asked. Katsuki didn’t have a rebuttal.
“So, you’re the exact same people we saw in the photograph?” Shoto asked.
“That’s right. We are the same Giyu and Sanemi from that time period,” Giyu continued, “the Demon Slayers were a real organization founded sometime in the 1500s. It was unrecognized by the government.”
“So even then you were vigilantes?” Katsuki scowled.
“You got a problem with that?” Sanemi asked, looking him right in the eye.
“Anyways,” Giyu interrupted, “The organization's goal, as you might guess, was slaying demons. Demons are humans that have been transformed by the first demon, Muzan Kibutsuji. Demons are driven by a hunger for human flesh.”
Katsuki and Shoto felt their blood run cold. “So… they ate people?”
“Yeah,” Sanemi said. “The government didn’t seem to notice, or they just didn’t care. That’s why the Demon Slayers needed to exist, because nobody else was willing to do anything. And there were innocent people in need of protection.”
“Within the Demon Slayers, there are nine members who possess the highest level of swordsmanship. They are known as the Pillars,” Giyu said.
“And the two of you were Pillars?” Shoto asked.
“Yes. We were also the last active Pillars before the Demon Slayers disbanded following Kibutsuji’s defeat. We lived for roughly four years after that before dying because of the curse.”
“What’s this curse about?” Katsuki asked.
“By pushing their bodies to its utmost limit, Demon Slayers are capable of unlocking the Demon Slayer Mark.” Sanemi explained. “People with the Mark experience a boost in speed, strength, and endurance.”
Katsuki grinned. “Sounds awesome.”
“Gaining the Mark takes a huge toll on your body, and you’re doomed to die by age twenty five,” Sanemi said with an unamused expression. The smile slid off Katsuki’s face.
“It was worth it, I suppose,” Giyu said, taking a bit of ohagi. “Shortening our lifespans, I mean. We defeated Kibutsuji, and pretty much all the demons disappeared with him. Though, we’re doing our best to avoid activating the Marks this time. We don’t want to shorten our life spans this time around unless absolutely necessary.”
“There’s only one demon left, but he’s for all intents and purposes ‘harmless,’” Sanemi said, putting the last word in air quotes.
“It seems like we’ve got the bigger story,” Shoto said, looking at his half melted mochi. “But, we still don’t know who Sabito and Genya are.”
Giyu and Sanemi looked saddened once more. “Sabito was my best friend,” Giyu said, eyes downcast. “In my past life, he died protecting me when he was thirteen. In this life, he was the victim of a kidnapping. That ‘tacky haori’ is modelled after his old kimono.”
Katsuki suddenly looked uncomfortable at the prospect of making fun of the haori.
“What about this Genya guy?” He turned to Sanemi.
“My little brother,” Sanemi said, voice wavering. “He helped take out Upper Moon One - the second strongest demon - but died in the process. Didn’t even get to be born this time around.”
Shoto and Katsuki exchanged apologetic glances, at a loss for words. They figured that Genya and Sabito were somehow important, and that some ill fate had befallen them, but somehow death had escaped their minds. How were they supposed to respond to this?
“We… we know you’re not really them,” Giyu spoke up. “Apologies if it seems like we are trying to project them onto you.”
“It’s just that your voices are almost one for one,” Sanemi explained. “We were caught off guard the first time.”
“I… suppose that’s understandable,” Shoto said. “Is that the whole story?”
“Pretty much,” Giyu said, moving to stand up. “We’re sorry we disrupted your Heroing. Good luck with your careers.”
“Hold on,” Katsuki said. “Why are you still vigilantes today if all the evil demons are gone?”
Sanemi sighed. “There’s still the League of Villains and their freaky Nomu. It’s been a lot harder to track them since their leader was captured. But, as the fight between ‘the new number One’ and that weird Nomu showed, they are still very much a threat. We can’t stop just yet.”
“Which is why we’d appreciate it if you don’t tell anyone what you learned today,” Giyu said. “It’d be hard to fight Nomu from prison or a psych ward.”
Shoto spoke up first. “Alright. I’m sure we can let it slide.”
“Yes, we can,” Shoto told Katsuki.
“In that case, I think we’re done here.” Giyu and Sanemi got to their feet and started to walk away.
“Wait,” Shoto called. They turned around.
“I… I don’t think you’re crazy.”
Giyu and Sanemi looked stunned for a moment, then smiled.
Maybe it would be possible to connect with someone from this life.