Kimetsu No Yaiba Light Novel (Demon Slayer Light Novel) – Chapter 4 – Aoi and Kanao

Kimetsu No Yaiba Light Novel (Demon Slayer Light Novel) – Chapter 4 – Aoi and Kanao


 

I’m bad at getting along with Kanao.

It’s not that I dislike her, I’m just not good at getting along with her. She did not offend me in anyway nor did she have any kind of conflict with me.

To put it simply, Tsuyuri Kanao was a girl who was like a puppet.

Even if you were the one who initiated the conversation, she would not reply. She always had a hollow smile and could not make any decision on her own. Her decisions were made only by flipping a coin.

Seeing how Kanao was, I was only getting anxious on my own as I had an impatient personality, sometimes I even got fed up with it.

Even though I’m older, Kanao’s ranking was far above mine. She was talented when it came to slaying demons so she was chosen to be a “Tsukugo”, someone who will inherit the skills of a Pillar at a young age.

On the other hand, I’m just human trash who was fortunate enough to survive the final selection. Then I could not gain any actual battle experience afterwards because I was too afraid. I was able to stay in the Butterfly Estate thanks to Shinobu’s benevolence and help to take care of injured squad members and carry out physical rehabilitation for those who are recovering.

Was there any value to a squad member who can’t kill demons?

Of course there wasn’t.

I’m just a burden to the Demon Slayers.

Perhaps it was for that reason, I was especially panicked when I face Kanao. When I found out that it was my feeling of inferiority, I could not stand how lowly I was.

I started to hate myself more and more.

Then, someone said to me—

“You’re already a part of me because you helped me out, Aoi-san. I’ll take your emotions into battle with me.”

That person said trash like me was a part of him and he would take these feelings I could not vent to the battlefield.

While he was saying those words to me, he showed no signs of boasting or hesitating and even showed a sun like smile at the same time.

So I also wanted to work hard and give it my all within my capabilities—

(However….)

When I was ordered to follow the Sound Pillar on a mission, I was trembling uncontrollably. Thinking of the terror I felt when facing a demon, I could not even protect Naho.

“Kanao! Kanao!”

I repeated her name over and over again like a fool.

Kanao actually grabbed my hand.

She did not flip her coin and only knitted her brows and gritted her teeth. No matter what Sound Pillar-sama said, she did not release her grip at all.

I haven’t thanked her for what happened then.

*

“Get some supplies outside?”

“That’s right. I’ll be counting on the two of you.”

I got called by Shinobu, who was considered my superior, to her room. I thought I was going to get scolded for what happened with the Sound Pillar, but that was not the case.

Speaking of which, Shinobu very rarely asked us to go buy things together.

Aoi glanced at Kanao who was seated next to her.

Kanao was looking into space with an expression that was no different from her usual, one could not tell what she was thinking.

“The herbs I need you both to buy are written here.”

With that said, Shinobu smiled at them.

Having to be alone with Kanao who was always silent—if it was last time, even if it was a request from Shinobu whom she respected greatly, she would still feel depressed.

But to Aoi now, this was what she was hoping for.

With the thought that she could finally express her thanks for that incident, Aoi bowed her head.

“I understand. Then we’ll be off.”

“Thank you. After Tanjirou and the rest finish their mission this time, they’ll probably come back here.”

Shinobu added on lightly.

But Aoi was surprised after she heard those words.

“Even though there’s nothing to worry about since Uzui is with them, we still have to prepare as much as we can and wait for them to return.”

“………….”

They did go in her place.

(Because I’m too useless……)

Aoi bit her lip slightly, hoping that the mission this time would not be too dangerous but that was just her own arrogant wishful thinking. If even a Pillar had to be deployed, there was no way it was something as simple as facing a few small fry.

After infiltrating the Infinity Train to take down the demons there, they came back covered in injuries. Both their bodies and minds were traumatised and they became so broken that one could not bear to look at them….

And this time, it was her fault.

(……Please be safe—)

Aoi prayed seriously while holding the feelings of wanting to cry out loud.

(……Everyone has to come back together……)

Her fingers that were placed on her knee were shaking continuously and she could not stop them.

Aoi felt her own worthlessness and shut her eyes tightly.

*

The apothecary shop which Shinobu frequented was located on the main street, a distance away from the Butterfly Estate.

Aoi had gone there a few times with Shinobu.

“Welcome.”

The boss greeted them, Aoi remembered that face that was as thin as a shriveled-up eggplant.

“I would like you to get these herbs—”

In summary, Kanao did not speak and Aoi made all sorts of requests while holding Shinobu’s note. She was not too worried about the boss’s eye in identifying the herbs.

However when it came to the time to pay up, the colour from Aoi’s face drained completely.

The purse which she kept properly was gone……

The purse contained money given to them by Shinobu but now it was nowhere to be found.

After digging frantically through the pockets of her squad uniform for a while—

(…….Ah.)

Aoi covered the corner of her mouth.

She had taken out her purse from the pocket of her uniform to pay for something before she came out and thus left the purse on her table. When her train of thought came to this point, Aoi was stunned.

Usually, she would make this kind of mistake.

Kanao looked over, noticing that something was not right.

“….—–Kanao, sorry.”

Aoi said softly with a hoarse voice then she bowed so deeply that her nose seemed like it was going to touch her knees.

“I forgot to bring my purse!”

Kanao did not reply.

Aoi felt so guilty that she just wanted to sink into a hole and disappear.

*

And unfortunately, during this shopping errand, not just Aoi, even Kanao did not bring her own purse.

Kanao stared firmly at the coin she always took out to toss and it was clear that her expression was wavering.

“I won’t take that away.”

Aoi laughed weakly after observing the situation

As they had come to this store several times, Aoi tolerated her embarrassment and requested to buy on credit. However, the boss who was full of doubts refused to accede to the request no matter what.

“Even if you say that……but we’re still businessmen after all. A pity my elderly boss stepped out……I can’t make decisions on my own.”

The boss dodged the issue and said.

“Speaking of which, what do you all do? What kind of organization is the Demon Slayer Corps?”

“Uh….”

Aoi was unable to answer for a moment when the boss asked her that.

As the Demon Slayer Corps was not a government acknowledged organization, it got especially awkward in this kind of moments.

Even if they spoke about demons and what not, others would not believe them. With exception of people with the wisteria emblem, the trust that society had of the Demon Slayer Corps was definitely not high. Even if they fought demons with their lives on the line for the sake of those living, the truth was that squad members could not even carry their Nichirin blades in broad daylight.

Seeing that Aoi was at a loss on how to answer, the boss looked suspiciously at Aoi and Kanao.

“What can women do? The person who came before was extremely gorgeous too, don’t tell me you’re all doing some shameful kind of work?”

“!!”

This person made this kind of wild guess probably because the people who come from the Butterfly Estate to do errands are all female.

However, the boss’s perverted gaze infuriated Aoi.

“I understand, just pretend I never mentioned buying on credit!! Goodbye!!”

Saying those words politely, Aoi grabbed Kanao and pulled her out of the shop.

But she regretted it immediately.

(……I messed up.)

Aoi grabbed her own head. In the end, even if she went back to the Butterfly Estate now to get her purse, she would not be able to make it back before the shop closed.

If only she was not that reckless. She should have just quietly bowed her head no matter what the other party said.

However, how was anyone supposed to endure when even Shinobu was talked about in such a way and the Demon Slayer Corps got insulted.

(I’m so stupid……stupid stupid stupid!)

She already decided that she was going to keep walking forward—lest she should trample on that person’s good intentions.

Yet she allowed herself to be led around by her emotions and in the end, her effort went to waste, how embarrassing.

They could not be short of all the things she was supposed to buy today—whether it was herbs, medical alcohol or the muslin used to make bandages.

What if they happened to return when supplies were lacking?

What if they received injuries that were too serious for Shinobu to treat?

What if something terrible happened to them because of me……?

Just by imagining this, her legs started shivering ridiculously. She realized her own idiocy and her vision turned dark.

“…….Sorry, Kanao.”

She did not have the energy now to show her thanks for the incident then.

Feeling downcast, Aoi bowed to Kanao again.

“I have become a complete burden because I’m too scared of demons to even do my duties…..But now I can’t even buy supplies properly……—-I’m really the worst.”

Spilling out these words , Aoi was on the verge of tears. She held back her tears as best as she could. The back of her throat was feeling warm and this sour feeling was coming from the inside of her nasal cavity.

“I……feel so useless…..”

“……..”

“………I’m going to beg the boss one more time and ask if we can make the payment tomorrow.”

Aoi turned around once she said that.

However, Kanao reached her hand out towards Aoi’s head and clumsily patted her head.

Those were not the youthful soft hands a girl should have. Feeling the thick calloused hands that came from countless hours of training—the hands that have been fighting all the way till now to protect someone, Aoi stopped crying.

“Kanao…..”

Hearing that Aoi called her own name while feeling troubled, the girl showed a faint smile and held Aoi’s hand. Without asking if Aoi was alright, Kanao started walking without giving any warning.

Aoi asked the girl who was quietly pulling her along:

“Are we going back to the Butterfly Estate?”

“………….”

Kanao looked indifferent and did not say anything.

“But this isn’t the way to the Butterfly Estate—and the herbs have not….”

Aoi turned her head, hesitating, as she watched the apothecary steadily become further away, however, Kanao turned a deaf ear towards her and went forward on her own.

This girl was so difficult to understand at these kinds of times. Aoi sighed as she gave up.

After walking for a while, Kanao suddenly stopped walking.

There were many people gathered on the road.

“? What’s going on?”

Aoi observed the scene closely. The liquor store seemed to be having some kind of activity.

Is it a performance of some sort?

Just as that thought crossed Aoi’s mind, an elegantly dressed elderly woman said:

“Oya, What cute girls. If you have the time, why not take a look?”

After the elderly woman finished talking, she somewhat forcefully pulled the two girl’s sleeves.

“No, we—”

“Now that I look carefully, the two of you look a bit familiar. Don’t be shy, go look as much as you want. The snack group’s competition is very exciting.”

Since the event had gone on for a while, Aoi could only look into the store through the gaps between the crowd and then she realized that a few men and women were having an eating competition. Activities involving drinking and eating a lot was a form of entertainment for the masses in the Edo era, however, it was rarely seen nowadays.

Forty-five pieces of Manju, seven pieces of Yokan, seventy pieces of Uguisu Mochi, four pieces of pickled radish, voices reciting numbers that were unbelievable could be heard coming over and Aoi started doubting if she was hearing properly.

(T/N: Manju – Round Japanese dessert which is a flour/rice flour skin with red bean filling. Yokan – Jellied Japanese dessert made from red bean paste, agar and sugar. Uguisu Mochi –  A bit like Manju but stickier and tends to be green bean based.

The sumo wrestler who was seated right in the centre had an especially shocking appetite. After finishing off a piece of Yokan in a flash, he swallowed the Manju one after the other.

This scene actually made onlookers feel nauseous, however, Aoi was more wary of Kanao’s reaction.

Even though she never heard it directly from Kanao, as the latter’s family was living in extreme poverty, she was sold by her parents to a pimp. It was Shinobu and her already deceased older sister who saved her and trained her to become a demon slayer.

Aoi wondered what kind of reaction Kanao would have after seeing this event.

“Kanao……?”

Aoi nervously looked towards Kanao who was beside her only to see that the girl still had an expressionless face and was absentmindedly watching the competition.

Eating large amounts of food not to satisfy their hunger or for survival but purely for entertainment.

Looking at the profile of the girl who was observing the competition, for some strange reason, Aoi found it hard to bear.

“Let’s go.”

Now it was Aoi’s turn to pull Kanao’s hand.

Seeing that Aoi was holding her hand, a curious expression appeared on Kanao’s face and the latter silently looked at her.

Just as Aoi planned to bring Kanao out of the place just like that—

A scream came from the crowd.

“?!”

Turning her head to take a look, the sumo wrestler had collapsed onto the ground and the Manju fell from his hand, rolling onto the floor.

“U……….Uu………Uu…………U……”

The young wrestler groaned for a while, his face ashen and not long after, his eyes rolled upwards and he lost consciousness. At the same time, lots of white foam spilled out from his mouth.

“Wh, what happened? Did the Manju get stuck in his throat?”

“Hey, quick, pry his mouth open!”

“Should we give him water?”

The men started discussing, words flying everywhere.

It seemed like they were going to handle this the wrong way.

No——once she thought that, her body started to move.

“Excuse me! Excuse me….please let me through!! Let me……!”

Aoi forced her way through the crowd.

She knelt down next to the wrestler and checked his breathing, pulse, pupil dilation, buccal cavity as well as his bowel sounds in that sequence. Right after that, the colour drained from Aoi’s face.

(I was right……this is not as simple as choking on food.)

In actual fact, the situation was extremely critical. Even so, if Shinobu was around, she would definitely know how to deal with it.

However, the only person here was her.

Can she hold the responsibility for a person’s life? This was herself who could not even face a demon……

(But I have to do it, if not, this person will—)

Aoi bit her lower lip and thought back to the first aid and management for this kind of situation that she read about in medical books. After taking a few deep breaths, she said to the crowd of onlookers:

“This person needs emergency treatment, or his life will be in danger. I need someone to get a nearby doctor over!!”

A man nearby shouted: “Un, understood! I’ll go!” and immediately ran off.

Afterwards, Aoi turned to Kanao who was beside her.

“Kanao, ask the shop staff to prepare what I’m about to say.”

Aoi urgently listed down some basic tools found at treatment centers. Just as she finished her message, she remembered that Kanao would not take action just like this.

“Quick, toss your coin—”

But once she turned her head, she saw that Kanao’s back as the girl had ran into the store.

“…..—”

Kanao had not received orders from her superior, Shinobu, and yet she was able to agree to Aoi’s request without tossing her coin to decide.

Even though she was confused and agitated by it, Aoi turned her head back to look at her patient.

Then, she heard a yell from the crowd, a young man who was obviously not of a decent character emerged from the crowd, his arms hidden under his clothes at his belly.

“What’s this? Little lady. I put a lot of money on this wrestler. He can continue the competition once he spits out the thing stuck in his throat, right? Don’t disturb the competition by saying such alarming things!”

The man spoke to threaten her and alcohol could be smelt from his breath.

Perhaps he made a bet with a friend and he could not accept that the match was interrupted so he reached his hand towards the wrestler. Aoi became enraged and she forcefully slapped the hand away.

“Didn’t you hear what I just said? This person needs emergency treatment or his life will be in danger.”

“Ahh?”

“You’re in the way of treatment, please leave.”

“What did you say? You bitch—”

The man’s face changed colour and he tried to grab Aoi.

Aoi quickly avoided the attack and she grabbed the man’s arms and flung him onto the ground.

Even if she was a useless squad member, Aoi still endured through hellish trainings. Anything at this man’s level was nothing to her.

“I am going to ask you to leave.”

“……you, you……”

“If you still don’t understand after this and come here again, I’m going to break both your arms.”

Aoi narrowed her eyes coldly and finished her statement. The man gulped.

It was not known if the threat worked, the man started to hurl words of anger and left behind a “You’ll remember this!!” before leaving. The crowd of onlookers became excited.

“Everyone, please remain calm.”

After giving such as order, Aoi repositioned the wrestler’s body.

After ensuring that his airway was completely patent, Kanao also just happened to run over with all the things that were required….

*

“If not for these two girls, this sumo wrestler would have already lost his life.”

–The doctor who rushed over in the nick of time said. The onlookers who were still at the site cheered and intermittently, one could hear people saying, “That’s great”, “Good job”.

“Ara~ You two are pretty good.”

The elderly lady who spoke to the two was also within the crowd. The elderly lady said those words with an expression of awe then she turned around to face the liquor shop owner who hosted this event and forcefully slapped his round shoulder.

“Hey, Yoshitaro. Remember to give these two girls a gift as thanks. If someone actually died, it would have caused a lot of trouble. You need to show your utmost sincerity.

“I know. I really can’t argue against you, Kayo-baa san. I really must thank you both this time. Here’s a small gift, even if it’s not much……”

The elderly lady and the boss seem to know each other. At the same time as he was offering his thanks, the boss actually gave them a cask of alcohol and a huge sack of rice.

“Please accept these.”

“…………”

These gifts given out of gratitude were originally for the winner and they were not on the scale of “small gift” and there was no way they could simply “accept these”.

But the good thing was they were planning to get alcohol and they could sell the rice for some money. Reaching the idea that this could be a method to be able to buy herbs and muslin, this kind of weight was nothing.

The two of them split up the load and carried the gifts, however, Kanao was obviously having an easy time while Aoi was falling behind.

This time, Kanao was taking the lead again.

The place where they were walking towards was, similarly, away from the Butterfly Estate.

What is going on in her head? Aoi thought suspiciously.

(Right….I haven’t thanked her yet. I have to at least say a word of thanks.)

Then, Aoi suddenly realized—

Whether it the incident with the Sound Pillar or what happened just now.

That wrestler could be saved exactly because Kanao responded to Aoi’s request and swiftly took action. She could not have handled it on her own.

“—Um, about just now……Kanao.”

Aoi called out to the back of the one carrying the sack of rice.

“………………………….”

Kanao stopped walking and turned around.

“Um….that is…”

“………..”

Kanao looked straight at Aoi’s direction and waited for her to continue talking.

Even though Aoi knows that she had to say it.

But when it came to the time when she really had to give her thanks, she became especially embarrassed.

Just as Aoi was pondering upon the most appropriate way to say her thanks, an angry roar which shocked their ears came over.

“You whore, if you wanna kill me then do it!”

“I’ll do it even if you don’t tell me! You useless bum!!”

“?!”

Aoi became stiff.

Afterwards there was the sound of something shattering as well as the crying voice of a child.

“Wh, what? What happened?” “……………”

Just as Aoi was looking around frantically, Kanao swiftly reached her hand out to the air and pointed at the house that was located in the back alley behind a framing shop.

The sound came from there was what Kanao probably meant.

Walking into the narrow alley, they could see a courtyard that was about nine feet wide. It was a so-called partitioned house*. One of its sliding doors was opened halfway and there were shattered rice bowls and teacups scattered outside the house. Aoi swallowed her saliva.

(T/N: Google this term: *棟割長屋. It’s a Japanese traditional terraced house)

“—Excuse me, sorry for intruding. Are you alright?”

At the same time she opened her mouth to ask, a tall and skinny man ran out of the door, knocking into objects at the same time and a woman who was carrying a baby on her back chased after him.

Aoi became startled after noticing the object that the woman held in her hand.

The woman was holding a thick chopper which gleamed slightly.

The crying voice of a child came from the dimly lit interior of the house.

“I can’t tolerate this anymore……I must use this knife to kill you today, you scum!”

“If you have the guts to do it then do it! You fatty hag!!”

“What did you say?! I dare you to say it again!!

“Fine! I can say it as many times as you want!! You hog!!”

Hearing her husband’s verbal abuse, the woman was furious and she reached out her strong arms and grabbed the man’s collar. As the man could not help but let out a yelp, Aoi who was just standing on the spot, flabbergasted, came back to her senses.

“Please stop!! He might really die!!”

“Don’t stop me!! This doesn’t have anything to do with you, doesn’t it?!”

Even though the woman was angrily glaring at Aoi, the latter did not cower.

After pushing the two apart, Aoi asked : “What are you angry about?”

“This useless bum took all his earnings and used them on gambling and booze!! The rice bucket is empty! We don’t have savings! If this goes on, our family is going to starve to death!!”

The wife let out a stream of words in one breath then she released her husband. She then squatted on the ground and started crying.

The wailing that came out of her dry lips almost sounded like the roar of a beast.

“……Mi, Mitsu.” A worried expression slipped out on the husband’s face.

“So….sorry, forgive me, it’s my fault.”

The husband knelt down and kowtowed.

Then, a boy walked out of the terraced house while holding hands with a girl. The ages of the two looked to be about seven years and five years respectively.

“Okaa-san, don’t cry, I’ll work hard!!”

The strong will and gentle demeanor of the boy overlapped with a certain demon slayer.

“So don’t cry! When I grow up, I will work hard and become an amazing person so Okaa-san and everyone else can live in with full stomachs!!”

Hearing such a commendable declaration from the boy, Aoi stealthily shot a look at Kanao.

However Kanao did not seem to realize it and she watched with smiling eyes at the family that were crying together. Her gaze seemed to be looking at something that was out of her reach—something that she could never hand ever again.

“Kanao.”

Aoi softly called her. Hearing the words “rice” did Kanao finally understand Aoi’s intentions. She lightly nodded her head and put the weighty rice sack on the ground.

“If you don’t mind, please take this.”

Hearing Aoi’s words, the couple raised their heads in surprise.

“You both probably can last a while longer with this rice. Also the rice can be sold for money.”

“?! Rally? Miss—are you really saying that?!”

“But we can’t receive these for nothing……”

“Please promise me that you will not use the money you get from selling the rice for drinking or gambling.”

“Yes, yes!! Of course!!!”

The husband prostrated himself and promised them.

“I will change my ways, start anew!! I will not let my wife or children suffer!!”

“——Then we’ll be going.”

Aoi nodded her head and quickly turned around.

Just as she was about to leave the alley—

“You and I are complete strangers, why are you helping us so much…….?”

The wife called out and asked.

Aoi hesitated a bit as she did not know her to reply her.

She just wanted to help the boy who cared about his parents and the mother, who despite being in poverty, rather starved to death with the rest of the family and never thought of selling off her children.

It was that simple…….

But just saying “I’m lending a helping hand” did not sound right either. Somehow, it sounded arrogant.

“Onee-san, wait—–!!”

The boy caught up with her, still with his sister in tow.

“Tha….thank you both!!”

The boy deeply bowed and his sister imitated her brother and bowed as well.

“This is what Otou-san was selling—”

After searching in his clothes for a while, the boy pulled out a pin wheel. He seemed to want to give it to the two of them as a thank you gift. However, Aoi hesitated for a while, not knowing if she should accept it.

Thinking of their family’s situation, this thing was not just merely a pin wheel, it was something they could sell for money.

However just as Aoi was being indecisive, Kanao took the pin wheel from the young boy’s hand.

She did not toss her coin but the movement was extremely natural and without hesitation.

Kanao softly said:

“—-Thank you.”

After hearing those words, the boy smiled brightly.

It was a heartfelt smile of joy.

“……….”

Just as Aoi was deeply moved by the scene, the boy grabbed his sister’s hand again and thanked them continuously and quickly returned to his parents’ side.

Aoi remained where she was standing and looking at Kanao, who was blowing at the pin wheel in her hand. The red pin wheel spun continuously.

“………—-why?”

Aoi asked.

Why are you able to accept it so calmly?

Why didn’t you toss your coin……?

Kanao stared at the spinning pin wheel for a while and shortly after, she mumbled:

“Because….that was that child’s greatest show of sincerity.”

“!!”

“If we don’t take it, that child would be sad……”

“…………”

Aoi stared at Kanao with her eyes widened and mouth agape.

She felt that the words were trapped in her heart to the point that she was getting flustered and could not say anything.

At the same time, she was embarrassed at how hopelessly foolish she was.

She thought that aiding others was an arrogant way of saying it and in that moment of hesitation, did not know if she should accept the boy’s gift.

She must have sympathized with their life of poverty in her heart.

However if she did not accept the young boy’s gift, her act would have completely become one of “charity”. And the boy did not want any “charity”.

Because Kanao understood that which was why she accepted the gift without hesitation.

(In comparison, I’m—)

Just a hypocrite.

As Aoi was wallowing in self-hatred while being depressed, Kanao gestured asking her to hurry up.

Aoi quietly followed behind Kanao.

Even though this road was not going to lead to the Butterfly Estate, it did not matter anymore.

Following behind, Aoi walked for a while and a red patio umbrella appeared in front of her eyes.

It’s a tea house, Aoi thought while being stunned.

Kanao started looking around the tea house, seemingly looking for someone. She called out to an elderly person who seemed to be tea house’s boss and softly asked something.

“Kanroji? Ah, you mean Mitsuri. She did not come here today.”

Hearing such a reply, Kanao looked disappointed.

(Mitsuri……?)

She must have been referring to the Love Pillar, Kanroji Mitsuri, who was close friends with Shinobu.

Speaking of which, the tea house that Mitsuri frequented was in this area and she heard that the tri-colored Dango sold by that store was extremely delicious.

(Why would Kanao want to find Love Pillar-sama……? Did Shinobu-sama have a message to pass to her?)

Which was why she headed straight for this place once she left the apothecary–?

But if there was really such an errand, then Aoi would have been informed as well.

Thinking to this point—

(Ah……—-)

Aoi covered the side of her mouth.

There was only once possibility.

“Were you thinking of borrowing money from Love Pillar-sama?”

“………..”

Hesitating for a while, Kanao lightly replied:

“Un. Because Aoi was troubled.”

“……………….”

“I thought it would have been a good idea—but I could not help out in the end.”

“…………….”

Warm tears slid past Aoi’s cheeks.

The tears that she was holding back as hard as she could flowed out non-stop like a waterfall.

Kanao looked at Aoi, feeling flustered. Not long after, she nervously placed a hand on Aoi’s shoulder.

“…….Thank you.”

After Aoi said that softly in a hoarse voice, she felt that her mood was lifted.

“Today you helped out so much for the whole day……when I was almost taken away by Sound Pillar-sama…..you also tightly held onto my hand and did not let go.”

After Aoi finished expressing her thanks, an embarrassed expression appeared on Kanao’s face and the latter shyly lowered her head.

She finally said it.

Just as Aoi was thinking that, Kanao mumbled:

“If it was just me….whether it was the time that wrestler collapsed or that time when the husband and wife were arguing, I definitely would not know what to do.”

“Kanao……”

Aoi blinked away her tears again.

“Since when……were you able to make decisions without tossing your coin?”

Once Aoi asked this, Kanao fell silent.

“It was Tanjirou, he—”

Not long after, she mentioned a name that Aoi did not expect to hear.

“He wanted me to live while following my heart, and he cheered me on……so……”

(—Ah….I see.)

A slight red tinge appeared on Kanao’s fair cheeks. Seeing how she was right now, Aoi completely understood her situation.

Just like how he helped Aoi break free of her self-deprecation and guilt, those words also changed Kanao.

The boy who was like the sun, used a single sentence to transform the girl who was like a puppet into a human—

That was likely why Kanao was able to show such serene and gentle expressions now.

“………………”

Aoi looked at Kanao as many emotions crossed her.

The warmth that overwhelmed her heart was enough to bring anyone to tears. However, once she knew that that youth was not being kind only to her, a faint feeling of disappointment arose within her. But Aoi she acknowledged that the two of them had the same kind of feeling, she became happy. Many different kinds of emotions were crossing each other—

Even though they had lived together all along, the girl still gave off the feeling that she was distant. However, right now, Aoi felt that they were close.

Kanao was right next to her.

Just as Aoi was looking at the girl’s blushing face—

“—Here, eat up.”

The elderly boss carried a tray of tea and tri-coloured dango over.

The boss placed the tray on the long bench that was beside the two and prepared to leave.

“Eh? No……We didn’t—-”

Aoi saw what happened and immediately admitted that she did not have any money.

“I won’t request payment from the two of you.”

After finishing his words, the elderly man showed a faint wry smile.

(T/N: Actually the Chinese translation did not make it clear if the boss was a man or woman.)

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Image courtesy of ultra-violet-heart (Tumblr)

“The two of you Mitsuri’s comrades, right? Demon Slayers or something like that?”

“? Uh….ah, yes.”

“When my daughter was attacked by a demon, it was Mitsuri who saved her. Mitsuri is the benefactor who saved my daughter’s life.”

“…………….”

“Thinking about it, this isn’t a job that’s easy, you both have push on. But don’t be reckless, alright?”

The boss finished his words and returned into the tea house.

“……——”

Aoi looked back and forth at the old man’s rickety back and the hot tea that was giving off steam.

His sincere concern and warm gaze caused warmth to come out from within her heart.

If it was last time—

“Then all the more I am unable to accept your good intentions. I am a useless burden that’s unable to go on the battlefield after all.”

Aoi was sure to say those kinds of stuck up words.

However she does not think that anymore.

As someone who was part of the Demon Slayer corps, knowing that someone was full of acknowledgement and gratitude towards the Demon Slayers made her extremely happy.

Aoi sniffled a bit and said:

“Then let’s accept these with gratitude, Kanao.”

She smiled at Kanao and Kanao also smiled slightly back while nodding.

The tri-colored dango that was received much praise from the Love Pillar was extremely delicious and also had a slight salty flavor……

*

When they left the tea house, the west side of the sky had been dyed red.

Aoi and Kanao walked side by side in the town that was steadily becoming darker.

Long and thin shadows stretched out from beneath their feet.

Once they returned to the Butterfly Estate, they should first apologize for not being able to buy the herbs and then set off once it was morning to get them. Aoi thought that to herself on the way back.

When they reached the outside of the town, they heard the sound of someone chasing after them from behind.

“Hey……Wait up! Yes, I mean the two of you!! Wait for me!!”

“?”

When they turned around, what appeared before their eyes was the face of that apothecary boss that was like a dried eggplant.

“Haa Haa….Ahh, thank goodness.”

He raised his shoulders and kept gasping for air.

“? What’s up?”

At the same time as Aoi was waiting for the boss to catch his breath, she asked.

The boss let out an awkward smile after he heard the question.

“I apologize for what happened during the day.”

The boss took out a cloth bag and inside it were the herbs that Aoi planned to buy.

“You can pay up the money any time you want.”

“Eh? But……”

Seeing that the boss had suddenly changed his mind, Aoi could not help but frown while Kanao looked at the boss curiously.

The two of them did not know what kind of wind just blew over. Perhaps he saw that they looked more suspicious than happy—the boss shrugged his shoulders in embarrassment.

“Actually—-”

He spoke as quietly as he could, as though he was afraid that others would hear him.

*

“So the elderly lady that both of you met at the eating competition was the mother of the boss of the apothecary?”

“Yes.”

After hearing Aoi talk about what happened throughout the day, Shinobu asked curiously.

Aoi nodded, affirming the fact.

“So such a thing can happen huh?”

Shinobu nodded, feeling surprised.

The elderly lady of the apothecary seemed to have seen Shinobu, Kanao and Aoi in the store a couple of times. Even though western clothing was nothing strange anymore, the squad uniform of the Demon Slayers was quite unique and this left a deep impression.

The elderly lady remembered this fact when she returned to the store and coincidentally, her son also mentioned what happened during the day. When the elderly lady heard it, she became agitated at once.

“You actually let those good girls return empty handed?! Have your eyes fell out of your skull?! You can’t only be thinking of profits when doing business! Haven’t I taught this to you many times?! Go look for them!! You stupid son!”

The mother gave the order and the boss immediately dashed out of the door.

“Also the boss also helped to put in a few words for us and spoke to a muslin distributer that he knew so we could pay by credit first.”

“Arara, seems like he’s really scared of his mother.”

Shinobu laughed as she said that then praised Aoi.

“You did well, Aoi.”

Aoi shook her head rapidly and cold sweat came out of her body,

“I ca, I can’t accept it! Actually, it’s because I forgot to bring my purse out….thanks to Kanao, the problem could be resolved smoothly—”

“Kanao said the same thing.”

“Eh……?”

“Did you say whatever you wanted to say?”

“?!”

Aoi raised her head in surprise only to see that Shinobu had softened her gaze.

“—You probably did manage to say it.”

“……Shinobu-sama.”

“Frustrations train the mind and it’s something you must go through to become stronger. It’s not meaningless at all—However don’t forget this: Aoi, Kanao, Chiyo, Sumi as well as Naho, you’re all my important subordinates as well as my precious family members.”

“……”

Facing her superior’s beautiful smile, Aoi overlapped her hands and deeply bowed on the spot.

Perhaps Shinobu had already realized Aoi’s complex feelings for Kanao, which was why she wanted just the two of them to do an errand together.

Many feelings gushed into Aoi and she was deeply moved.

For a while, she did not raise her head……

When Aoi left Shinobu’s room, the sky had become completely dark.

Faint moonlight shot in through the paper lined square grilled windows.

She had to keep the herbs on the shelves then cut the muslin into bandages……right, the sleeping clothing and bedding for the squad members need to be prepared as well.

If so, then Zenitsu, Inosuke, Nezuko and Tanjirou—those squad members who are risking their lives to fight evil demons could come back anytime to take care of their injuries.

(I am also part of the Demon Slayers.)

Aoi forcefully clenched her fists.

She never thought that she would feel this way. Ever since she was fortunate enough to survive the final selection, this was probably the first time such a carefree feeling came from her heart.

Would the future her being able to live proudly and no longer feel guilty for being lucky enough to escape death?

Will I be able to love the real me……?

You’ll be fine, a voice told Aoi. Whose voice did that belong too—it seemed to be Tanjirou, yet it sounded like Shinobu or even Kanao.

Realising that Kanao naturally became part of that list, Aoi could not help but let out a faint smile.

“Aoi—One of the recovering squad members asked something about securing the bandages, what do I do~?!”

Naho, who was unsure, called out, asking for help.

Aoi put on a stern expression and replied: “I’ll go over soon.” And immediately went straight for the wards.

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