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Charcoal Rivers @aglobuzzy
The Second Time Okay, we let Genya have some fluff, now let's double down on the angst.

“Nezuko, are you sure you want to go down the mountain today? You know that Tanjiro and I can do it.”

“Don’t worry, Genya,” Nezuko said with a smile, gathering the charcoal into the basket. She got to her feet, carefully placing the basket over her shoulders. “Onii-chan and I can do it today. We take turns, remember?”

A jesting grin came over her face as she flicked Genya’s forehead. “Or, are you saying you think that I’m not strong enough to do it? That I’m just a small, fragile, weak little gi-”

“I don’t, I don’t!” Genya protested, raising his hands in the air. “I know you’re tough.”

Nezuko laughed. “I was only teasing, Genya.”

Genya sighed, but he didn’t look too grumpy. “You really remind me of Sumi sometimes. You get into too much trouble for your own good.”

Nezuko grinned and adjusted the basket. “Either way, don’t worry about me. Onii-chan and I will be back by dinner. We will bring lots of sweets, too. It is New Year’s in five days, after all. It is almost time for the Hinokami Kagura.”

“Nii-chan!” They looked up. Tanjiro was also getting ready to leave, Shigeru clinging to him. “Please, we can go with you!”

“No,” Kie said sternly. “It’s snowy, so Tanjiro can’t use the cart. He won’t be able to carry you when you get tired.”

Shigeru pouted and clung on tighter. “Please, nii-chan!” Hanako begged. “I won’t get tired, I promise. I’ll help you!”

“Sorry, Hanako,” Tanjiro said, petting her head. “But, no. Nezuko and I will bring you lots of goodies, though. As many as you want.”

“Nee-chan!” Shigeru and Hanako decided to turn their efforts to Nezuko instead.

“Please, let us go with you!” Hanako cried out.

“Sorry, but not today,” Nezuko chided.

“You guys can play with me instead,” Genya said. “Takeo and I need to chop firewood first, but then we can play together.”

Hanako and Shigeru still pouted, but didn’t argue, only wrapping them both in tight hugs.

“Hey, Takeo!” Tanjiro called over their other brother. “We’ll be going now!”

“Yeah, yeah,” Takeo said, shouldering the hatchet. “Nii-chan and I will chop the firewood, so you’ll have a nice warm dinner waiting for you when you get home.”

“That’s good,” Tanjiro said, ruffling Takeo’s hair, much to his dismay. “You and Genya work hard today, alright?”

“Onii-chan, let’s go,” Nezuko said, joining him on the snowy path.

Tanjiro started to step forward, but something was clinging to his leg. “Rokuta…” He kneeled down to get eye level with his youngest brother. “I know you miss Father, but don’t worry. I’ll be back. I’ll be back soon and then I can read you a story. I promise.”

Rokuta whimpered and reluctantly let go. Tanjiro got back to his feet and tugged the straps of the basket snugger over his shoulders.

“We’ll be back soon!” Tanjiro called as he and Nezuko headed down the path.

“Stay safe!” Genya called back.

The two siblings headed down the mountain path, Tanjiro in the lead, Nezuko in the back.

“I think things are looking up,” Nezuko said, voice filled with optimism.

“Hmm?” Tanjiro hummed, asking her to go on.

“I know… that we’re all still upset about Father,” Nezuko said. “And, it’s only been a year since he died, but we’re healing, moving on. Little Rokuta still clings to you, but he doesn’t cry at night anymore. And Genya’s happier than he’s ever been.”

It was true. Tanjiro remembered back to the first night he met Genya, and how sad he had been that day. Now, he smiled and laughed.

“Yes, it’s nice,” Tanjiro agreed. “Life isn’t perfect, but as long as we all have each other, it is all we need.”

The trip down to the village was uneventful. People began to notice them as they walked down the main street.

“Look, it’s Tanjiro and Nezuko!” They gathered around and greeted them.

“Genya’s not here today?” Hotaru asked.

Nezuko shook her head. “He’s looking after the little ones this time.”

“You’ve got charcoal?” Asahi asked. “Need to be ceremonial torches?”

“No, not this year,” Tanjiro politely declined. “We got a surplus last year, so we have enough.”

“Anyone who needs charcoal, gather ‘round!” Nezuko cheered.

“Wait!” Tokuro ran out of the teashop. He was carrying a bundle in his arms. A very angry Yuzuki followed after him.

“I’ve been accused of breaking this plate!” Tokuro exclaimed, unraveling the bundle, revealing the broken shards of a ceramic plate. “Tanjiro, prove my innocence! Help me out!”

Tanjiro leaned over, sniffing at the shards. “I smell a cat.”

“Oh, so a cat broke it?” Yuzuki said, a bit surprised. “Looks like I jumped to the wrong conclusion, Tokuro. Sorry about that.”

“I demand compensation!”

Nezuko had to stifle a giggle. The siblings managed to sell all of the charcoal that day and made a considerable profit. Afterwards, Tanjiro helped fix doors and track down lost pets. In the meantime, Nezuko helped mold candles. They followed in the footsteps their father left behind.

The sun started to set. “Onii-chan, we need to hurry to the bakery!” Nezuko called out as she left the candle shop.


They ran to the bakery and through the doors.

“Ah, the Kamado progeny have come to pay me a visit,” Tanka said with a grin. “Let me guess; ohagi?”

Ever since Genya started living with them, ohagi became the staple sweet they went for. Not that they could complain; ohagi was delicious. So they nodded in unison and paid for two bundles of ohagi.

“The sun’s really low now,” Tanjiro noted as they walked back through town. “It’ll be dark by the time we get home.”

“We’ll just have to be fast and careful at the same time,” Nezuko said with a smile.

They reached the base of the mountain and were prepared to begin their ascent. But, the door of Saburo’s cabin opened.

“Tanjiro, Nezuko!” The old man called out. “It’s too dangerous to go up the mountain at night. You can spend the night with me.”

“Don’t worry, Saburo jii-san,” Tanjiro tried to say. “My nose will warn us of any danger.”

“I’m serious,” Saburo shot back. “Get inside. Before the demons come out.”

Nezuko tilted her head. “But, aren’t demons just a fairy tale-”

“Nezuko, I think we should listen,” Tanjiro interrupted. His expression was grave.

Sensing the severity in her brother’s tone, Nezuko relented, and the two siblings entered his cabin. He cooked up dinner and set out futons for them to sleep on.

“Jii-san,” Nezuko spoke up. “If there are demons, a simple door won’t stop them, right?”

“Right,” Saburo said. “Legend has it that a group known as the Demon Slayers protect us ordinary citizens at night by killing these demons.”

With those words, Tanjiro and Nezuko curled up side by side.

“Onii-chan, why did you seem so scared when Saburo jii-san told us about demons?”

Tanjiro contemplated his answer. “I don’t think he’s told you yet, but-” he fell silent. “We don’t really have proof, but we think Genya’s family was killed by a demon.”

“You mean, the one he had before-”

Tanjiro nodded. He tried to give his little sister a reassuring smile. “But, we’ll be fine. Let’s sleep. We’ll go up the mountain tomorrow, and everything will be fine.”


“Why aren’t they back yet?”

“Nii-chan, did you say something?”

“Oh, it’s nothing, Rokuta,” Genya assured the boy in his lap. He looked over the yard from his position at the engawa. He ran his hands through Rokuta’s hair.

“Why aren’t they back yet?”

He was getting worried. The sun had almost set, and Tanjiro and Nezuko had yet to return. They had never been this late before.

“Don’t let it be like the last time someone was late. Please, don’t let it be like the last time someone was late.”

“Where are they?” Takeo complained from inside.

“I’m sure they’ll be here any minute now,” Genya said, not liking how unsure his own voice was. “We just need to wait a little while longer.”

And they waited. And waited. The sun set, and they still waited.

“Genya, Rokuta, come inside,” Kie called to them. “Tanjiro and Nezuko likely got held back and are spending the night in town. They’ll be back tomorrow morning.”

Genya grimaced, but got to his feet and led Rokuta inside.

“But nii-chan and nee-chan promised they’d bring sweets!” Shigeru pouted.

“And read to us!” Hanako joined in.

Genya sighed. “I can read to you after dinner, if you want,” he offered.

He hoped they’d say yes. He needed something to get his mind off of the terror lurking in his subconsciousness.

“Okay,” they said, much to his relief. They ate the shimmered tero Kie prepared for dinner. Rokuta and Shigeru got the extra portions that would have gone to Tanjiro and Nezuko. With dinner eaten and the dishes washed, they changed into their nightwear and gathered in the bedroom.

“Now, let’s see, what book do you want me to read?” Genya asked, looking through their small collection of books.

“‘The Sun Samurai!’” Hanako exclaimed. “That’s our favorite!” Takeo and Shigeru nodded in unison.

“Alright, let’s see…” Genya pulled out the book in question. He settled down on his futon. Rokuta crawled into his lap. Hanako sat next to their mother, while Takeo and Shigeru cuddled together.

He opened the book. It was old, the pages slightly yellowed. It has probably been handed down the family line for a few generations.

“‘The Sun Samurai,’” he began to read.

“‘Many centuries ago, there lived a man who feared death. He feared death so much, he sought out a way to become immortal. And he almost succeeded. He lived for all those centuries, but he gained a new fear to accompany his fear of death. The sun, the only thing that could kill him.’”

The wind started to howl outside. Rokuta whimpered, so Genya paused to comfortingly stroke his hair.

“‘This was a very evil man. He cared for no one but himself. He killed and hurt the people who tried to stop him. No one could stand up to him. Except for one person.’”

It sounded like there were footsteps outside the house. “Maybe nii-chan and nee-chan are back?” Takeo suggested, sensing the tension in the air.

“No, they wouldn’t risk walking through the snow at night,” their mother said. “You’re probably just hearing things.”

No, they definitely weren’t just hearing things. Someone was outside their house.

“Should I… go check-”

“No,” Kie sharply cut Genya off. “Everything is going to be fine.”

“Nii-chan, keep reading,” Hanako said, clinging tightly to their mother’s nightgown.

Everyone just wanted comfort in the moment. They wanted to stay safely inside, cuddled together, and wait for the morning sun that could kill the immortal man to come. Genya nodded and traced his finger over the fading characters, finding his place.

“‘Only the Sun Samurai, the strongest warrior in all the land, stood a chance against him. The Sun Samurai was everything the immortal man was not. He was kind, hard working, humble, brave-’”

The front door slammed open. Rokuta squealed and started crying, burying his face into Genya’s chest. He wrapped his arms around his youngest brother, softly shushing him.

“No no no no. Please no. Not this. Not this again. Please.”

“What was-” Shigeru’s terrified voice was cut off by the bedroom door being blown off its hinges. A tall man in a dark cloak stood in the doorway. His arms- his arms looked elongated.

There was blood. A spray of blood came from Kie’s chest as one of the arms struck her from where she was trying to shield Hanako. This was futile, since the arm reached the girl, too.


“Nii-chan! Run! Take Rokuta and run!”

Takeo had tackled Shigeru to the ground, trying to cover him. The arm recoiled and struck out again, slashing against both brothers.

“Why? Why this again?”

Genya ran, holding the still weeping Rokuta in his arms. He sprinted past the man and through the smashed front door. The snow stung against his bare feet.

“Run! Save one! Save Rokuta. Get to town, get help! Make sure Tanjiro and Nezuko are sa-”

Pain lashed across his back, and he fell to the ground. Tears clouded his vision. His ears were ringing, but the distinct sound of Rokuta’s cries was gone. Dead, bleeding out.

“Not again-”

Something stabbed into the base of his neck. He couldn’t even muster up the energy to scream. Something was being pumped into him. His skinned crawled, itched, everything felt like it was on fire.

The sensation against his neck left. Genya felt the last of his strength flee. His eyes were starting to flutter close. His grip on Rokuta weakened.

“Again… It all happened again…”

His whole family slaughtered in the course of a single night, the youngest dying in his arms. Only this time, he was dying with them.

The man passed in front of him. Right before his eyes closed, Genya caught a glimpse of his face. Pale, almost sickly, the most vilely apathetic expression. And his eyes. Plum red irises, vertically slit pupils, veiny and bloodshot.

“To think that you would die from only this much blood. I suppose I cannot easily create a demon that can conquer the sun.”

“... Demon…”


Morning came. Tanjiro and Nezuko bid Saburo goodbye and resumed their journey up the mountain.

“The ohagi is probably cold by now,” Nezuko said.

“We can heat them up by the fire when we get back,” Tanjiro replied. “I hope Mother wasn’t too worried.”

“It’s probably fine,” Nezuko said. “I’m sure she figured out we spent the night at Saburo jii-san’s. We’ll get a light scolding at most.”

Tanjiro suddenly froze. “Onii-chan. What is it?”

“I smell blood.”

This made Nezuko tense up, too. Tanjiro’s acute sense of smell had never steered them wrong. And to pick it up from this distance- there must be a lot.

Tanjiro took off in a sprint, and Nezuko was quick to follow suit. Their shoes kept slipping in the snow, but the panic induced adrenaline pushed them forward.

Tanjiro reached the top of the mountain first. When Nezuko caught up, the first thing she saw was her brother’s shaking form.


She looked past him and saw a pair of figures on the ground, their blood staining the snow red.

“Genya! Rokuta!”

She ran past her brother. No, this couldn’t be happening. Nezuko knelt in front of the two figures. It looked like Genya was trying to shield their younger brother from whatever attacked them. Not that it did much good, because Rokuta was clearly lifeless. She checked Genya. Pulse, faint. Breathing, shallow. Skin, only just warm enough to be considered alive.

Genya was still alive, but barely.

“Nezuko-” Tanjiro let out a pained whimper. She turned her attention to him. Tanjiro was standing in front of the house. More blood. The door was knocked down.

“Mother, Hanako. Takeo, Shigeru. They’re all-” Tanjiro was having a hard time forming sentences. “While we were peacefully sleeping, they all- they all got killed.”

“Not all of them,” Nezuko spoke up. She was acutely aware of tears staining her cheeks. “Genya- Genya still has signs of life.”

At those words, Tanjiro turned around, almost stumbling. He fell to his knees by her side. He checked Genya’s pulse.

“We have to- we have to get him to the doctor,” he stuttered out after a moment. “A doctor might be able to save him.”

“But, that’s all the way down the mountain,” Nezuko said. It seemed like an impossible endeavor.

“We have to try!” Tanjiro exclaimed. He tugged at Genya’s arm, slung it over his shoulder. “Please, we have a chance.”

“I know.” Her doubts banished and replaced by a flare of determination, Nezuko scrambled to her feet and tugged Genya’s other arm over her shoulder. The siblings began their journey down the mountain once again, their oldest brother dragged between them.

“Just hang on, nii-chan! We’ll fix things, we promise!”


… being dragged somewhere. Arms slung over… something. Shoulders? Slung over… a person? No, two people. Two people, dragging him somewhere.

His body hurts, aches. Splitting headache. Eyes twitch beneath his eyelids Toothache. Fingernails hurt. A gnawing hole in the pit of his stomach.

“... okay… you’ll be… Gen-”

Voice. Familiar.

He is hungry. Something smells good. He is very hungry.

Claws wrap around a piece of cloth, yank it back. A yelp, sensation of falling backwards.


“Nezuko, stay up there!”

Nezuko? A name? Sounded familiar.

Something soft and fluffy below him. Snow? Cushioned his fall. He stumbles to his feet.

“Genya! Are you okay? You don’t have to move!”

That voice again. He opens his eyes. In front of him… a human. Food. So hungry!

He lunges forward, fangs bared. The human stumbles back in shock. He pounces, pins the human to the ground. Prepares to bite.

Something is shoved into his mouth. Wood. Axe handle? He’s angry now, and that just makes him hungrier.

“Please, just hang on!”

Why is the human crying? He doesn't care. He needs to chew through the axe. After he chews through the axe, he can eat.

“I know you’re sad, and angry! I know it hurts, to go through it all a second time!”

What’s the human talking about? He just wants to eat. The wood begins to splinter in his mouth.

“Please, just hang on, Genya! It’s me, Tanjiro! It’s Tanjiro! Your little brother!”

Little… brother? Tan...jiro? His little brother, Tanjiro?

The human’s face is suddenly clear. It is! It is his little brother! But, why was he pinning his little brother to the ground with the intent to eat him? Why is he trying to hurt his little brother? Why is he so hungry? Why-

Tears slip from his eyes. How could he? How could he hurt his brother like this?

He is the worst brother in the world.

Why does that thought seem so familiar?

Tanjiro grabs him close and rolls away. They roll into a tree. He looks up. Another human. This time, he’s sure this human is a stranger. He has a sharp sword.

“Why are you protecting it?”

“He’s my brother!”

Danger. That human, danger. Hungry. Must get away, get food.

“That thing is your brother? That is a demon!”

Something grabs him, drags him away from Tanjiro. The dangerous human. The dangerous human is holding him tight. He tries to claw away. No use.

“I’m a Demon Slayer. It is my job to kill demons. Naturally, I am going to decapitate your brother.”

“Genya hasn’t killed anyone! He’s innocent! There was a different scent- at my house! Someone else killed my family! I don’t know why he is acting like that, but-”

“Easy. Demon blood got into his wounds, and he turned into a demon.”

“Even if he’s a demon, Genya won’t hurt anyone. He’d never eat anyone! He knows all about demons, and he’d never-”

“He tried to eat you a moment ago. He went as far as biting through your hatchet.”

“He recognizes me now, I’m sure! He’s snapped out of it! I’ll find a cure-”

“There is no cure. Once you become a demon, there is no going back.”

The dangerous human raises his sword. He kicks and shrieks and tries to get away.

“Please stop! Please! Please!” Tanjiro falls to his knees and bows. Not asking, begging. “Please. It’s just me and Genya and Nezuko. Please- don’t take any more of my family. Genya- Genya’s lost his family for a second time. You can’t- please, don’t kill him!”

Family? Lost… his family? He has… family? Tanjiro and… Nezuko. ‘Nemi. Who else? He… can’t remember. Why can’t he remember?

“You must never let any of your enemies kill you!” The dangerous human is yelling now. “Get up! Stop bowing so pitifully! If groveling and begging had any use to it, your family wouldn’t be dead! How can someone who bows to his enemy hope to cure his brother? The weak have no power or rights! Their only option is to get relentlessly crushed by the strong! Maybe the demons know of a cure, but don’t think for a second that they will respect your desires! You must get stronger. Why did you cover your brother instead of fighting back? Why did you show your back to me instead of drawing your hatchet? That’s how I captured your brother!”

Tanjiro stays silent, speechless. Tanjiro’s crying again. The dangerous human draws his sword again. Sudden sharp pain. Stabbed! He got stabbed.


Snow in his face. Tanjiro threw snow at them. Tanjiro is running. Where? Trying to help him?

Tanjiro dashes forward. The dangerous human looks annoyed. Slams Tanjiro’s back with the blunt end of his sword. Tanjiro falls. Tanjiro doesn’t move.

The dangerous human… hurt Tanjiro? The dangerous human… hurt his little brother? His little brother… is hurt? Because of the dangerous human. The dangerous human must pay.

The hatchet falls from the sky. Almost hits the dangerous human. The dangerous human barely dodges. Tanjiro threw the hatchet… before the dangerous human hit him. Yes. His little brother… is smart.

He screeches, kicks the dangerous human away. He dives in front of Tanjiro. He’ll protect his little brother from the dangerous human.

The dangerous human looks shocked. Good. He won’t hurt his little brother, but he’s still hungry.

He lunges at the dangerous human. The dangerous human puts his sword away. Not very dangerous anymore.

The not so dangerous human strikes him in the neck - so still dangerous - and everything is black.

When he comes to, he is lying next to Tanjiro in the snow. Tanjiro is awake. There’s something in his mouth. Bamboo? He tries to nibble on it. He’s still hungry.

“The muzzle is a precaution. If he happens to lose control, he won’t be able to bite anyone.”

The dangerous human was still there. “Head to Mt. Sagiri. Find a man named Sakonji Urokodaki. Tell him that Giyu Tomioka sent you. Make sure to keep him out of direct sunlight.”

The dangerous human vanishes. Tanjiro slowly gets to his feet. Tanjiro helps him up. Tanjiro still looks sad. Tanjiro takes him by the hand. Was Tanjiro always this short?

Tanjiro leads him back up the cliff from where they fell. Another human is waiting for them. Nezuko. His little sister. Nezuko looks scared. Is Nezuko scared of him? He wants to tell Nezuko that there is nothing to be scared of. The bamboo is in the way. He tries to bite through it. No luck.

Tanjiro pets Nezuko on the head. Tanjiro doesn’t let go of his hand. Tanjiro leads him and Nezuko up a mountain path. It looks familiar. Has he been here before?

They come to a house. There’s a lot of blood. He’s still hungry. Why do Tanjiro and Nezuko look so sad?

His little siblings began carrying bodies out of the house and burying them. Why?

Is this… family? His family? The family Tanjiro mentioned?

Should he feel sad? He does feel sad, but he’s mostly hungry. He stands aside, worrying that if he gets too close he might feel tempted to eat the bodies. Something tells him that Tanjiro and Nezuko would not be happy about that.

Where is ‘Nemi, he wonders. Is ‘Nemi not part of his family?

The bodies are buried. Tanjiro and Nezuko are praying. He stands behind them.

Family… Mom. Sumi. Hiroshi. Koto. Teiko. Shuya. Father. Mother. Takeo. Hanako. Shigeru. Rokuta. Dead family.

There are only five graves. Are Tanjiro and Nezuko not done yet? Where is the rest of the family?

Tanjiro looks at him and hands him a purple yukata. Purple yukata… Something familiar. Nezuko tugs a brown travel haori over her shoulders.

“Are you ready, Genya?” Tanjiro asks, taking him by the hand again.

Tanjiro. Nezuko. ‘Nemi, if he’s out there somewhere. His family. All that’s left of his family.

He will protect them this time. No matter what.

Anonymous reviews have been disabled. Login to review. 1. A Bundle of Ohagi 3852 17 0 2. The First Year 3925 11 0 3. Father to Son 2871 6 0 4. The Second Time 4155 8 0 5. Formed Resolve 3347 6 0 6. Daughter of Flames 3422 5 0 7. Unyielding Wave 2910 7 0 8. Family Portrait 3019 7 4 9. Blackfire 3381 7 0 10. Box Barrell 3331 6 2 11. City of Lights 2924 6 0 12. Overwhelming Taste 2243 8 0 13. Growing Pains 3229 6 0 14. Sounds 2876 5 0 15. Stay Safe 3715 5 0 16. Names Remembered and Forgotten 3691 6 0 17. Wisteria House 3614 6 0 18. Rice Field Spider 2477 7 0 19. Mother 3649 8 5 20. Brother 3749 11 12 21. Father 4000 14 6 22. Sister 2892 13 6 23. Family 3911 16 12 24. Collision 3311 19 8 25. Trial by Family 4197 17 14 26. Undeserving 3993 12 14 27. Training Regime 3897 31 7 28. Update 499 0 2 29. Update 2: Electric Boogaloo 112 0 0