Note: This gaiden takes place around volume 3 but no spoilers or mentions to the plot.
Her destined prince never appeared no matter how much time had passed. Mikako Honda was already going to have her twenty-eighth birthday, and he had yet to come for her. She thought she would be married and have a happy family by the time she was in her mid to late twenties, but in actuality she overestimated and was suffering. Mikako was still single and did not have a true lover. Rather, she was so busy running around trying to pay back her debt every month that she did not have the time for love. All of this was that leech's fault, who had pretended to be her prince.
Ah, I don't want to do this. I don't want to go.
She unconsciously sighed. She felt depressed since this morning. Today was the worst day of the month for Mikako: her payment due date.
Mikako packed her spoils in her traveling bag and left home. She walked from Tenjin towards Daimyou when an old multi-tenant building came into view. Her gait gradually became heavier.
On the third floor of the building, there was a sign that read Genkai Financing on one of the doors in a corner. This was were the black-market lending company was.
"Are you kidding me?!"
She heard a rambunctious voice when she opened the door. The owner of the voice was one of the collectors working for Genkai Financing, a sadistic occupation where they use certain means to force people who owe them money to pay up. This man was around thirty years old. He was muscular and had an intimidating physique. He regularly had a cigarette in his mouth, creating a boorish image.
The collector sat improperly at his desk and was pressing his client for payment. There was a silver gleam on his right fist – they were brass knuckles. He always wore them and used them to injure clients when they did not follow his instructions.
"……I-I'll pay back," the man who had just been hit by him stated fearfully. "I'll pay you back, so……"
"What was that? I can't hear you!"
"I-I'll pay you back this month for certai-, ngh."
The collector grabbed the man by the hair with the hand not equipped with brass knuckles.
"Next time, maybe I should just have you pay with your cornea."
Miako screamed internally. Tomorrow was her turn. She trembled.
After the man scrambled out of the office, the collector took notice of Mikako and grinned. "Well look here. If it isn't Shingo's girl."
I was his ex specifically. Though I was just one women out of many.
Mikako felt overwhelmed just by recalling the past even a little bit and spoke. "Many thanks. I have brought the amount due for this month."
She lined up the brand items onto the man's steel desk. They were spoils she received as gifts from seven men.
"I have a 490,000 yen Vuitton tote bag, a 250,000 yen Chanel wallet, a 180,000 yen Bellesoira necklace and 200,000 yen earrings, and finally a 150,000 Tiffany ring."
"So all together, they're 1,270,000 yen, is that is?"
The collector muttered, licking his lips. He was fast at calculating the amount.
"You're a bit short on this month's payment."
"The weather has been poor. And they've been very conservative with their spending……"
There was a sharp bang sound, and the air in the room instantly chilled. The collector had slammed his fists onto the table.
Mikako was startled, eyes wide. The collector continued while flashing the metal on his hand.
"Isn't it your job to make them spend money on you? You're a marriage swindler, aren't you?"
"…..Yes. You are absolutely right," she forced out.
"If you can't pay up, you can go to the brothels like the other women do."
"No, it's alright. I'll do my best." Please, anything else besides prostitution.
"Then until next month." The collector waved her farewell. He then reminded her in warning. "Don't fly away now."
"……Until next month."
Mikako lightly sighed as she left the multi-tenant building. She had to diligently collect money from now until the next due date again. She wanted to cry.
It was unfortunate for her to have been pulled in by a bad man. A few years ago when she met him, she had thought, 'this person has to be my prince!' However, he was struggling host addicted to gambling.
One of the gangs in Fukuoka – the Matsudaira Group – that managed Genkai Financing also ran a baccarat gambling ring in Nakasu. They plucked money out of gambling addicts' hands, and then they lend them black money to suck everything out of them. Mikako's lover, Shingo, was a regular at the gambling ring. Shingo was popular among the woman for having handsome features, and he would make many lovers and put his debt he accumulated from gambling onto their shoulders. Before Mikako realized it, she had become a victim as well. Most of the women would make money by working at brothels connected with the group, but Mikako chose to be a marriage swindler, making men financially support her by using the engagement as bait. Presently she was fake dating seven men.
I need to increase the number of men to date, or else I'll be struggling to catch up on my payments. Maybe I should find a new prey by showing up at a matchmaking party aimed at people with high income.
Mikako pondered her next course of action as she walked when a man suddenly appeared before her.
"There you are, Rika!"
She tilted her head in confusion. Rika. Ahh, he means me.
Mikako remembered the man's face. He was a company employee named Hara whom she had dated about half a year ago. I guess I did call myself Rika around this man.
Once he had proposed to her, she had completely cut all ties with him, but now he was here in front of her. Had he been searching for me ever since I broke up with him? She was nervous.
"Give it back!" The man yelled, glaring at Mikako.
"Give me back all the money I spent on you!"
It did not matter that this man demanded his money back; Mikako had already handed all the branded items he had bought for her to the collector a long time ago. The items had probably been turned into money and were circulating around the gambling ring by now.
"I can't. Besides, didn't you just give them to me out of your own free will?"
The man grimaced. "Wh-what did you say!?"
"It's not like I didn't do anything wrong. Go to the police or lawyers if that will make you happy."
When she boldly stated that, the man grew more enraged. "Shit! You better remember this, you bitch! I'm going to be avenged!"
He shouted in the center of the street. The passerby's gazes on them hurt.
"Go to hell, you damn woman!"
I know. I'm already there.
After Mikako watched the man run off with those words, she sighed deeply.
She did not want to do this at all. But she had no other choice. She told herself that excuse in her mind.
She had a life where she could think of nothing but paying back her debt. Everyday she would flirt with men to try and pay things for her. Her life consisted of fearing the single day when she had to make her payment once a month.
She was in hell.
Nonetheless, she secretly wished for her prince to come and save her from this hell someday. I never learn, do I? Mikako ridiculed herself. As if there would be any stalwart out there who would come to save her from a yakuzrun black-market.
A couple minutes in walking distance away from the Chikushi exit at Hakata Station stood an old multi-tenant building. The Banba Detective Office quietly ran its operations today as well on the third floor. However, they had plenty of free time since clients did not come by often. The head of the office, Zenji Banba, was focused on polishing his baseball mitt and Japanese sword, while his sole helper (or more accurately his freeloader) Xianming Lin was fully invested in the TV program he was watching. They both spent their time doing whatever they liked in this single room that served as both an office and their living space.
Even when Banba called him by name, there was no response. Lin was sitting back on the sofa and his attention was fully focused on the TV screen. He crossdressed as a hobby, so he had long brown hair and wore makeup. With it being summer, he wore a cool, white one piece dress yet he sat cross-legged in poor manners, leaving his boxers fully visible. That was normal though.
"Hey," Banba tried getting his attention again, speaking a little louder than before. "Hey, Lin-chan!"
"……Ah? What is it?" He finally got a response.
"Could ya grab that there oil for me?"
"……Jeez," Lin made a clearly displeased look. "If you want it that much, get it yourself. I'm at the good part."
Although he grumbled complaints, he tossed over the oil to clean the baseball mitt.
"You sure like them dramas." Banba whispered to him once the program went to commercials. Seeing him like this reminded him of when he first met Lin half a year ago; he was completely sucked in watching a romantic drama back then too. "Is it interestin'?"
Lin recently got into a series drama called Hirugao Gokutsuma, which was being broadcasted at ten at night. The focus was largely centered around a housewife, and it was popular enough for the view rating to pass more than twenty percent each episode.
"What's it about?" When Banba asked, Lin began to explain the synopsis excitingly.
The story's main protagonist was an extremely normal housewife named Kaoru, thirty-five years old. Her husband Katsuhiko was twenty years her senior and was an executive for the Jinguuji Group and the boss of one of its affiliated groups. He recently started to have affairs with young women in high class clubs and rarely comes home. But even then Kaoru was not unhappy. Her love for her husband had already turned cold.
Kaoru lived on the highest floor in a high class apartment, and despite having a comfortable life with numerous branded items, she began to become bored of her life. And one day when she went to a bar, she met a drug dealer ten years younger than her named Kenji. The two fell in love and began to commit adultery.
One day someone from the yakuza group, Ryuusuke, witnessed Kaoru leave a hotel with Kenji. He demanded compensation or else he would tell her husband, and Kaoru had to reluctantly comply. But taking an interest in Kaoru, Ryuusuke tried to establish a physical relationship with her.
However, Kaoru firmly turned him down, and Ryuusuke, growing impatient, broke into her home. The moment he tried to attack Kaoru, her husband Katsuhiko just came back from a trip with one of his lovers and found them. Katsuhiko went into a rage. He saved Kaoru and ordered his men to capture Ryuusuke.
Ryuusuke was then put through torture for being a traitor. He was tormented by Katushiko's men when he finally talked. "I'll tell you some juicy information. Your woman is incredibly frivolous."
Once Katsuhiko learned of the adultery, his fury turned to Kaoru and Kenji!
That was apparently the story so far.
The commercials finished, and the drama resumed once more. The scene was of Kaoru telling Kenji that Katsuhiko found out about their adultery.
'Please, run away,' Kaoru's actress looked desperate and pleaded with Kenji. It was brilliant acting. 'If that man finds you, you'll be killed too!'
'Kaoru-san,' Kenji's actor was a popular young actor for this current season. 'Run away to Mexico with me.'
'I know someone in the drug cartel in Mexico City. I was asked to go over there and work with them.'
Kenji placed his hands on Kaoru's shoulders.
'I'm going to be a drug lord in Mexico,' he told her with a serious expression. 'I'll become a drug lord, and make you happy.'
And there the ninth episode ended.
"……Are you serious!? Mexico!?" Lin gripped his head in agony. "Dammit, it ended just when I wanted to know more!"
A heavy ballad song began to play during the end credits. The tune was a cross between a love song and a resentment song as the main theme for Hirugao Gokutsuma. The title of the song was 'Harsh Love.'
The preview for the next episode showed Kenji heading to the airport with Kaoru and they find themselves surrounded by Katsuhiko's men. Their path to love was not so easy.
"There's only three episodes left; how are they going to end it!?" Lin writhed in agony.
Ignoring his roomate basking in the afterglow of the drama, Banba turned off the television. When he did, they heard a knock on the door. A client had arrived.
Their first and last client for the day was a middle-aged woman named Akiyo Yamanaka. Banba sat across from his client and began the hearing session. The client wanted them to investigate someone's background history.
"My son has been spending money left and right recently."
She currently lived with her only son at the moment.
"How old is your son?"
"He'll be thirty-four this year."
"What? Listen, he's not a kid," Lin snorted. "Your son can spend his money anyway he likes. Let him do it."
Akiyo proclaimed she could not allow it, breathing heavily. "He's being deceived by a bad woman."
According to what she said, her son Hiroyuki had started going out more over the past few months. Hiroyuki also started to buy items with his credit card more often. He was apparently buying gifts for a woman and taking her out to eat delicious food.
"I wouldn't give any complaints if he was dating her serious. However……" Akiyo's expression turned dark. "But I'm worried he's just being tricked by her and made to pay everything for her……"
"Since it's your precious son, naturally you would be worried."
Banba tried to sympathize with her.
"Yes," Akiyo nodded firmly. "So I want you to look into that woman."
Jiro's bar – Babylon – was closed for today. Once he had finished cleaning up and organizing the bar, he decided to close early.
After locking up the shop, he headed straight for their apartment. The person he lived with threw a fit so they could have a cat, so they had just recently moved to a place where they allowed pets.
"I'm home~." The lights were on in their room. "Oh? You're still up?"
A girl was sitting on the living room sofa.
"……Ah, welcome back, Jiro-chan."
Her name was Misaki. She was his adopted daughter.
"Did you give food to Kuro-chan?"
A black cat was curled up on her small lap, asleep. It was a male cat named Cromartie.
"Yeah," Misaki nodded. However, her focus was still on the TV.
"What are you watching, Mischan?"
"Oh, isn't it that popular drama that's running right now?" Jiro then muttered to himself, rubbing his beard. "Actually, will that show even teach you anything good……?"
"Hey, Jiro-chan. Do you think Kaoru will elope with Kenji?"
"Elope? That would be romantic."
"Kenji said he's going to become a drug lord. I think it'd be better to choose the life she currently has than to be with a hopeless man chasing his dumb dream."
"Oh my goodness," Jiro shrugged. "You have no expectations for them? Did I mess up in raising you?"
"Don't worry. I was this way before you took me in."
She said another uncharming statement. She was always like this. She hardly had any childish traits due to her complicated upbringing.
"The bath is ready. Will you use it?"
"I'm sorry. I got a job and need to go meet up with the client."
Jiro ran a bar in Nakasu on the side; he also worked as an avenger. It was Jiro's job to carry out his client's revenge. If they had punched someone, he would give them a punch back. If they stabbed someone, he would stab them back. If they stole money, he would steal from them. Putting someone through the same pain they did to others was his creed as an avenger.
"I'll be back soon. Go to bed."
"Okay. Take care and be careful."
Jiro left home, grateful that his daughter was so sensible.
Enokida – an informant in this city – changed locations sporadically. Without any specific place of residency, he would always jump around all the internet cafes in Fukuoka. He was a man with many mysteries and little information on him. His name Enokida was not even his real one; he started being called that because his head was shaped like an enoki mushroom. Although the credibility on that was uncertain.
When Lin went to the designated internet cafe in Nakasu at their scheduled time, Enokida was already there waiting for him. He had platinum blond mushroom hair and wore a bright yellow parka with red skinny jeans. The man stood out in his gaudy outfit and was drinking his coffee at a table beside the window.
When Lin called over to him, his face, hidden by his long bangs, turned to face him. "Hey."
Enokida was a skilled hacker. Whenever Lin asked him to look into something, he would always find information with his great hacking skills. He asked him to look up Hiroyuki Yamanaka's credit card history. Enokida opened his personal laptop and began to briskly type away on it.
"Who is this Hiroyuki Yamanaka?"
"Just a standard company employee. He's the son of our client. Apparently he's been spending more money recently because a woman is making him buy her gifts."
"Huh," Enokida chuckled before reading off the screen. "Hiroyuki Yamanaka. Thirty-three years old. Birthday is on October third. Ah, he really doesn't seem to be the type to be popular with the ladies."
Enokida was looking at a photo of Hiroyuki Yamanaka on his computer screen. He must have managed to infiltrate a database from somewhere and found the man's photo and profile. Finding information on him would be simple with Enokida involved.
He then looked over Hiroyuki's purchase history.
"Oh wow, he really is buying a lot. Last week he bought a necklace, and the week before that he got earrings. He's been shopping around places at a fast pace."
"Can you get the camera footage in those stores?"
If there were stores selling branded items, then they should have security cameras installed. If Enokida could breach the system, then they might be able to see Hiroyuki and the woman in there shopping.
"Ah, this is him, right?"
After Enokida worked on his computer for a bit, he turned the screen towards Lin. The footage was taken a few days ago in a store. Lin could see Hiroyuki walking with a woman in the center of the screen. She was pretty. She seemed to have a neat and calm air around her. She was trying on some necklaces.
"She's totally using him."
Instead of a harmonious couple, it looked more like the man one sidedly fell for his partner and was being coerced into buying items for her.
"Find out who this woman is."
Enokida responded in his usual cheerful tone. "Okay~."
Once Enokida sent him the data from the surveillance cameras, Lin headed back to the office. Banba arrived home at night.
He had been following Hiroyuki the entire day, so Lin asked him what he found. "How did it go? Did you get anything?”
"More or less," Banba handed him a camera.
Lin took it and connected it to the TV with a cable. The photos Banba took appeared on the screen. There were an immense amount of photos. They started with Hiroyuki leaving work, wearing a suit. He then went inside an Italian restaurant. When he left the restaurant, he was with a young woman. Lin recognized her.
"It's the same woman." The woman Lin saw on the surveillance camera footage Enokida provided him and this one were the same person. "He's really making the effort for her."
If his latest expenses were for this woman's sake only, then from his purchase history Lin estimated the man spent sufficiently 1,000,000 yen.
The next photos showed the two making their farewells at a train station. Afterwards, they seemed to have left for their homes. This was at ten thirty at night.
"What a sound relationship."
"I tailed that woman." Banba pointed to the TV. "This here's her house."
Lin's eyes widened when he saw the photo of the building. It was a worn-out building. Lin had assumed she would be living in a better apartment if she was extorting so much money out of her boyfriend.
Who is this woman?
"I'm going to go out and watch the apartment for a bit."
Lin suggested. Banba nodded in consent.
It was boring listening to the man boast about himself. Was this how Kaoru and Katsuhiko felt whenever they were together?
Mikako's thoughts drifted to Hirugao Gokutsuma as she listened to Hiroyuki Yamanaka talk with her. It was a popular drama series that was airing recently, and she adored it. She would watch reruns of it.
The last episode that aired last week, the ninth episode, had the heroine's lover – a young drug dealer – announce an incomprehensible claim of becoming a drug lord, and they were going to flee to Mexico.
Mikako knew it was fiction, but she could not help but feel jealous of Kaoru. But a drug dealer would not do. She did not want to get further involved with the yakuza than she already was. If possible, she wanted to meet a normal person; preferably a rich one.
Mikako returned to herself when she was called by her name. Well, right now she was going by the name Yumi.
She quickly etched a smile on her face. "Y-yes?"
"What's wrong? Are you feeling unwell?" Hiroyuki was frowning at her from the opposite side of the table.
"Sorry, I just got lost in thought."
Hiroyuki had asked her if she would like to meet his mother a week ago. I guess I should end it with this man soon, Mikako deduced. She had the rule as a love swindler to pull out of a relationship at a certain stage.
"Yumi-chan," Hiroyuki spoke with a serious expression.
"I'd like to marry you."
Here it is.
Mikako was expecting this since he asked her to come to a beautiful restaurant with a night view.
Just as I thought. "Oh my," Mikako glanced at the ring he presented to her and exclaimed in joy.
She calculated in her mind the ring's price as she examined the dazzling jewel closely. It was a Cartier engagement ring. She estimated it was roughly 800,000 yen. Not bad, Hiroyuki.
She got teary eyed (pretended to, anyway).
"What a gorgeous ring……" It was truly beautiful. And expensive.
"Will you marry me?"
She absolutely could not. "I'm sorry……I'm happy to hear it, but I can't accept it."
"My mother has severe dementia."
I'm sorry, mom. Mikako apologizes in her mind. Her fifty-six year old mother was actually doing really well and went to yoga classes every week.
"If I marry, my mother will be left all alone."
"Can't she live with us?"
"No," Mikako shook her head. "Her condition is severe. It'll just put unnecessary stress on you."
This made-up scenario was the sixth time she had used it now.
"I thought about putting her into a facility that could take care of her, but I can't pay the downpayment."
"How much do you need?"
"1,300,000 yen……" Mikako cast her gaze downward. "But I can't pay that amount……"
"Don't worry, Yumi-chan. I'll figure something out."
Mikako snickered internally.
Yes! She was in high mood where she wanted to skip and shout in joy. Not only did she manage to get a ring, but she also got an additional 1,300,000 yen. With this, she should be able to pay the normal amount for next month.
She turned down Hiroyuki's offer to drop her off at her house and walked down the streets alone. She did not want her men to know where she lived. She once let another man take her home and had been followed by him since. She ended up having to move because of it. She had no intention to repeat the same mistakes.
As she was recalling her past blunders while walking down a narrow alleyway, there was a strong impact from behind her, causing her to fall over.
Mikako yelped and blinked around trying to grasp what had transpired.
Someone had ran into Mikako. He was a young man. Mikako wondered if he was just a drunkard, but the man ran off as soon as the thought crossed her mind.
It was then that she realized what had happened. The Chanel bag she had over her shoulder was gone.
No! A thief!
She trailed off as she began to shout for help. The thief was already growing smaller in the distance.
Ah, no! My Cartier ring! My 800,000 yen!
Her eyes burned with tears. She felt strength escape her body. Mikako collapsed onto the ground, falling into despair.
However, an unexpected development occurred.
A man in a suit appeared out of nowhere and seized the thief. The culprit struggled against the man restraining him and managed to break free and run away.
The man in the suit approached the dazed Mikako. In his right hand was her bag. "This is yours, isn't it?"
"Y-yes, it is." Mikako readily nodded. "A thief had bumped into me and-……"
"So I was right." The man held out her bag for her to take. "When I heard a scream, I wondered if that was the case."
It can't be; he went out of his way to help me?
Mikako looked up and closely examined the man. What a handsome guy, she thought absentmindedly. He was tall and had nice masculine facial features. And he had a gentle smile.
"Are you alright? You're not hurt anywhere?"
Y-yes! I'm fine!"
"I'm sorry I let the man get away."
"No! It's fine!" Mikako got her bag back. "You did enough!"
She was so impressed she started talking like a military personnel for some reason. She was trembling minutely. What amazing luck. A snatcher took my bag one moment and the next a wonderful man appeared and got it back for me.
Her pulse was pounding. She felt heat arise in her face. Fated to meet – those words came to Mikako's mind. Perhaps this person is my prince? No, he has to be.
Then I have to go for it. Mikako made up her mind and asked the man. "Ah, excuse me."
"Could you allow me to do something in return as thanks? Like have a meal sometime-"
The man gently smiled at her. "I'd be glad to."
After they had exchanged numbers, Mikako returned home. She yelled while skipping down the hallway of her apartment. "Yes!"
Shunsuke Saruwatari was intently throwing shuriken. A few minutes away on foot from the monorail station in Kokura, Kitakyushu City in Fukuoka prefecture, there was a darts bar called Lady Madonna he frequented that was located at a corner in Konya city among other bars surrounding it.
The bar was like any other darts bar on its first floor, but the basement floor was reserved for people in the underground, particularly for hitmen. Many underground businesses, such as discussions and trades took place here. Human shaped dummies were situated along one of the walls for target practice, and the hitmen guests would spend time throwing knives and shooting at them with their guns. Intently throwing shuriken here was part of Saruwatari's daily routines, just like a relief pitcher would do warm ups in the bullpen.
Saruwatari had become a hitman for a simple reason: he was strong. That was the only reason. Because he was strong, he wanted to fight strong opponents. He sought for killers whom he could get enjoyment out of to test his abilities. He was given the name 'the Submarine Ninja' due to throwing shuriken and kunai with an underthrow, and that name had become well-known in the industry, but Saruwatari had no interest in fame.
A voice suddenly spoke to him.
There was only one man who would call him in that manner: Naoya Nitta. He was someone in the same grade as him in high school and was his partner as a killer consultant. He was Saruwatari's right-hand man.
When Saruwatari turned around, he saw Nitta waving at him from a booth. He reluctantly sat down across from him. "What is it?"
"I found an interesting job for you."
"What's the target?"
"His name is Hongou. Apparently he's a hitman."
A hitman, huh. Saruwatari's eyes glistened in excitement. He much preferred professionals than ordinary people.
"He is a heinous outlaw who formerly worked for a gang in Kitakyushu."
The client must be the gang's boss then.
"And this Hongou slept with the leader's most beloved lover. He ran away with the woman. This syrupy development sounds a lot like the story in Hirugoku."
"What the hell is Hirugoku?"
"Eh? You don't know Hirugoku? It's a drama series. Hirugao Gokutsuma. It's extremely popular right now."
"Like I'd know," Saruwatari countered. He did not watch drama.
"The request was to kill this man and bring back the woman who ran away." Nitta smirked and asked him. "So what will it be? Will you take it?"
The wonderful man who had retrieved her bag from the thief was Tanaksan. He was apparently working for his father's company as he was busy moving around overseas. He was wonderful.
Mikako had sat down for meals with many men for work up until now, but she had never been as invested as she was today. Mikako was already fawning over the mature Tanaksan.
The pleasurable meal she had with him was over before she knew it. She told him she was going to wash up and went to the restroom to adjust her makeup, and when she came back Tanaksan had already paid the bill.
Ahh, how smart! Wait, I shouldn't just be admired by this.
"I'm sorry!" Mikako quickly pulled out her wallet. "How much was it? I'll pay."
"It's fine," Tanaksan told her with a smile.
Mikako had planned to treat him for a meal as thanks for helping her, but he ended up treating her instead. Now feeling like she still owed him, she wanted to spend more time with him.
"Can I see you again?"
When she got the courage to ask him as they were about to part, he nodded, smiling. "Of course. Do you have a day you're available next week?"
"I'm free at any time!" Mikako immediately responded. The other seven men she was dating completely slipped her mind.
There was a small coin-parking lot in front of the apartment building the woman lived at. It was only large enough for five cars to park at. Banba parked his vehicle in the spot farthest in. He began his watch. This was his tenth day doing this.
'There are two outs and bases are loaded; it's a full count. Will they be able to get out of this pinch? The catcher is preparing for an outlaw-' Banba had the professional baseball live radio session playing in the car. 'The pitcher threw! The batter missed! Three strikes!'
"Whew," Banba made a long sigh.
'What was that pitch just now? It had an incredible curve to it.' The announcer questioned.
'It was a knuckle.' The commenter explained.
'Ah, a knuckleball? The catcher caught that marvelously.'
'He really did. If he looked away, the other team would have reached first base due to their error.'
'This team's batter is struggling with this pitch every time.'
'Indeed. Even if you know the pitch, you probably wouldn't hit it. This pitch is-'
When Lin turned off the radio, Banba raised his voice in alarm. "Whatcha do that for!?"
"Focus on work."
"Can't I listen to the radio?"
"Look, the woman's here." Lin glanced outside the car. The woman they were on watch for appeared. She was walking towards Moyori Station. Banba and Lin got out of the car and tailed after her. They arrived at the station a few minutes later. The woman was waving at a man. He must have been waiting for her here.
"This is the fourth man."
The woman frequently met up with men. And they were all different too.
"She sure is popular," Banba groaned, taking pictures of the two. "She's datin' a different person every time."
'He's being deceived by a bad woman.' What Akiyo Yamanaka said had credibility to it.
Every since Mikako met Tanaksan, she had been neglecting the wallet men – it was the term she called her targets for her marriage swindling work – and she has been primarily meeting with Tanaksan only. She put 1,000,000 out of the 1,300,000 she got from Hiroyuki for an elderly nursing home into savings and kept the remaining 300,000 and used it for herself. They were for her beauty expenses. She first went to a beauty salon and had her long hair trimmed and dyed her hair into a soothing autumn color two tones darker than it was before. She wanted to match a mature man like Tanaksan. She also bought more conservative clothing and purchased more hair extensions. She invested more into her looks than ever before.
Mikako recalled that although she offered to treat Tanaksan for a meal when the thief incident happened, Tanaksan had paid for their meal instead. She had to think of some form of repayment for the next time. Since she was always on the receiving side of things – or rather on the side making them bestow her gifts – she did not know what to buy for a man. Tanaksan always wore a suit. She had a preference for neckties, but she could probably do something else. Maybe a belt? A tie clip? A watch? But he may be put off if it's expensive.
After pondering what to do, she thought she would be safe getting him a branded handkerchief, and Tanaksan was very happy to receive it. Perhaps due to her efforts, Tanaksan confessed after their fourth meal together. "I would like to date you."
Yessss! Internally, Mikako made a victory pose like a relief pitcher who managed to keep the opposing team from scoring, bases loaded and no outs. Externally, she made a shocked expression and replied humbly, "are you sure you want to settle with me?"
They had gathered all their evidence. In fact, they had more than enough.
Today was their last day of investigating, and they were to report their findings to Akiyo Yamanaka. Akiyo came by the office at the appointed time, but her son Hiroyuki was with her too. Banba and Lin sat down next to each other in the reception seats, and the Yamanakas sat across from them.
"Hiroyuki-san," Banba called him by name and showed him a photo of the woman. "Do you know this woman?"
After Hiroyuki made a slightly surprised expression, he nodded timidly. "Y-yeah……She's Yumi-san."
"This person's real name is Mikako Honda."
The woman Hiroyuki was seeing was not Yumi but Mikako. That was what the information Enokida provided said. She apparently would date different guys and have them spend money on her and give her gifts.
"Unfortunately, this woman has been dating other men besides you." Banba showed him another photo. It was a photo of her being harmonious with another man. "She has been meeting with these men frequently as of late."
Hiroyuki rejected the truth that was thrust in front of him.
"Look!" Akiyo yelled. "You're being tricked!"
"N-no! There's no way that's true!" Hiroyuki raised his voice undauntedly. He shook his head, causing the excess flab in his neck to bounce. He's like a bull dog, Lin thought.
"Get a hold of yourself; wake up!"
"Shut up! Shut up, shut up, shut up!"
"Why are you telling your own mother to shut up!?"
"You're annoying! You're always like this!"
A fight broke out between the parent and her child.
"Come on now," Banba smiled wryly and stepped in between the two. "Please calm down, you two."
"That's right; quiet down." Lin added. "It doesn't matter even if you bicker about it here. This woman is in the wrong."
"Yumi-san is not!"
"Yumi-san is being tricked!" Hiroyuki pointed to the tall man in the photo. "By him!"
What the hell is he getting at? Lin was exasperated. Look at the truth. He sighed.
"She's not Yumi; she's Mikako." Akiyo made the final blow. "She didn't even tell you her real name."
"Shut it, old hag! Shut up."
Akiyo was at a loss of words. She was shocked to see her beloved son's rebellious attitude towards her.
"I'll pay you any amount." Hiroyuki stated. "Please find out who this man is."
It was a strange development.
Lin and Banba exchanged glances and shrugged simultaneously.
They managed to find Hongou's whereabouts thanks to Nitta's research. He had quit working as a hitman and was now working for as a collector for the Matsudaira Group's black market lending company. Saruwatari headed to Fukuoka City where the office was at and got inside. There were five employees in the office. In other words, it was just a gang assembled in one place, but they were not Saruwatari's enemy. The men took out hand guns from their pockets when Saruwatari appeared, but Saruwatari easily took them down with his hidden ninja sword.
He did not see Hongou among the men in the office. He questioned one of the men he left alive, who told him Hongou had left to see a woman.
They had missed each other then. Saruwatari left the corpses were they were and immediately left the office. A blue sedan was parked alongside the road – it was Nitta's vehicle.
Saruwatari gave his report as he got into the passenger's seat. "Hongou wasn't there. He went off to some woman's place."
"By woman, you mean his lover?"
"Probably." He could not imagine he would go to a woman's apartment that was not his lover. "Here's the address."
Saruwatari handed over a sheet of paper. It was the address he forced the lackey to give him. Nitta drove off, heading to that destination.
Of all things, her date with Tanaksan had to fall on the day she had to pay back her debt.
Mikako sighed heavily while applying her makeup in front of the sink. She did not feel like going over to the black market lending company's office and was dragging behind. Before she knew it, it was night. She just wanted to skip it.
While Mikako made her arrangements to head out, her interphone went off. Did Tanaksan come to get me?
She opened the door, heart pounding excitingly.
The collector stood there.
Mikako grimaced internally.
"You didn't show up to the office. I thought you had flown away."
The man pushed his way through, wrenching the door open.
"Haha," Mikako dryly laughed. "No, of course I wouldn't. I was just heading over there."
"So? Where's your payment for this month?"
Mikako did as asked and pulled out the branded item from her closet. "I have a 750,000 yen Cartier ring."
"……Just 750,000 yen?"
The collector's voice instantly turned cold.
The next moment, she felt an impact strike her face. It was abrupt, and she had no idea what had happened. She stumbled back before collapsing onto the floor. It hurt. Her left cheek was hot as though she was burned. It throbbed.
She was punched with brass knuckles.
"Next time, you won't get off with just a punch."
The collector spat out and left with these final words.
"If you got time to hook up with a man, then get the money. You stupid woman."
The woman lived in an old apartment building on the second floor. Nitta parked on the side of the road, and they both watched the building for a few minutes until Hongou appeared. He went inside the woman's room. It was the third room on the right on the second floor.
"So that's where his lover is at?" Nitta whispered beside Saruwatari.
A few minutes later, the door opened.
"Here he is."
Hongou left the apartment and began to walk off.
"I'm gonna go after that Hongou." Saruwatari got out of the car. "You wait here and watch for that woman."
After leaving Nitta, Saruwatari tailed Hongou. He followed after him on quick feet so he would not lose sights on him while making sure to keep a distance. Hongou headed to the Genkai Financing's office.
"Wh-what the hell's this!" Hongou yelled the moment he opened the door. He must have found all his employees' bodies.
"H-hey, get it together!" He called out to his lackeys who have already gone cold. "Who did this!?"
When Saruwatari spoke behind him, Hongou quickly whipped around to face him. He looked shocked for a moment before baring his teeth, yelling. "Shit, it was you!?"
Hongou went to take something out of his pocket. It was not a gun; it was a silver item – brass knuckles.
Saruwatari moved the same moment Hongou put on his weapon. He pulled out his ninja blade with agile speed and struck it through the man's throat.
Hongou collapsed on the spot. It was a let down. "……You weren't much at all."
Saruwatari received a call as he looked down at his corpse.
'Hello, Sarucchi?' It was Nitta. 'How is it with Hongou?'
"I killed him. He was super weak."
All Saruwatari had to do now was to capture the woman and bring her to his client. He wanted to finish this boring job as soon as possible.
"And how about that woman?"
'She's in a French restaurant beside the Nakasu river right now, but here's the thing-'
"Got it." Nitta had tried to tell him something, but Saruwatari hung up and started to head over to Nakasu.
Even when Mikako tried to cover the bruise she got from the brass knuckles with concealer, it was still visible. Her left cheek was still swelled up. Even using Dr.Ci:labo face-lift had no effect. Although she had built muscle in her face to fill up the hollowness of her cheeks, it was not helpful with her face swollen.
It hurt to meet her bevolved Tanaksan while she looked like one of those victims of domestic violence, but it was worse to not meet him. Fortunately, the restaurant they made reservations at was a fancy French restaurant and the lighting was dark. She hoped her bruise would not stand out.
When Mikako went to the restaurant, she was brought to a terrace seat that overlooked the night scenery. Several minutes of waiting later a young couple directly passed by her.
"What a beautiful restaurant!" The woman raised her voice in awe. They entered a space around the terrace seat and looked out at the shoreline across the river. "The night scenery is stunning too."
Mikako did not recognize either of them, but they were a handsome man and a beautiful woman who seemed quite compatible and matched in attire as well. The woman wore a simple one-piece dress.
"Our seat is over here. I reserved a seat in the VIP room." The man told her and wrapped his arm around her waist. "Let's go."
They huddled next to each other as they walked to their seat. Mikako was glad to see them happy. Every time she saw a couple that happy, she felt her own distant wish could be fulfilled. Was this because of Tanaksan? Love could change a woman, she supposed.
"Mikchan." Just as she was watching the two acting harmoniously with each other, Tanaksan appeared. He pulled out the seat across from her and sat down. "I'm sorry to have kept you waiting."
"No, not at all." Mikako shook her head with a smile. She was kept waiting for twenty minutes though. "I just got here as well."
They immediately ordered their drinks. Tanaksan drove here, so he ordered a non-alcoholic drink.
They raised their fancy slim glasses and lightly clanked them against each other.
"What's with that bruise on your face?"
Shoot, he noticed.
"…………Hey, how long are you going to touch me for?"
Lin glared at the man next to him as they turned the corner.
"Really now?" Banba glared back. He removed his hand that he had wrapped around Lin's waist. "Don'tcha say that like I'm some old creeper who sexually harasses people. ……And actually, Lin-chan, dontcha think you wasn't overdoin' it?"
"Likewise," Lin pouted. "What's with your getup? It so does not match you."
The two took their seats as they belittled each other's formal attire.
"So you set them all up, right?"
Banba nodded proudly when he asked that. "Of course."
Their plan of getting close to the target by pretending to be a couple went off without a hitch. While Lin had distracted the woman Banba had put a redback spider listening device – a product they were provided by Enokida – into the woman's bag.
Enokida had used his hacking skills to figure out that Mikako had plans to meet with a man here. Banba and Lin then made a reservation at this restaurant as well, so they could learn of Mikako's relationship with the man at close quarters.
They put their earphones in and listened to the conversation.
The reception was good. While the man's voice was a little far away from the listening device, they were still able to hear the conversation without a problem.
'Mikako-chan,' the man sounded surprised. 'What's with that bruise on your face?'
After a few moments of silence Mikako replied back in a teary voice. 'The truth is……'
She could have said she fell down the stairs or off the bed. But when Tanaksan had asked her what was wrong, she could not think of a lie. Or rather, she did not want to lie to him. Mikako felt like she was at her limit, trying to keep everything inside her.
She had taken a bigger shock from being hit by the brass knuckles than she expected. The pain in her cheek had not regressed no matter how much time had passed, and she could not help but feel she could get hit again. She wanted to talk to someone about it. She wanted help. She thought perhaps if it was this person, he could stop them. She thought maybe he could save her.
As such, Mikako decided to tell him everything. She told him of how she fell for a struggling host who was addicted to gambling a few years ago, how her lover had accumulated all this debt and put it on her shoulders, how she refused to work as a prostitute, and how she chose to gain money by deceiving men. And she told him that her monthly day to pay up had come and she was hit by the collector with brass knuckles.
Mikako let out everything she had held back. Complaints fell from her Yves Saint Laurent rouge colored lips. Her Dior eyeliner became streaks from her tears. She must look unsightly right now. She was expecting Tanaksan to be disappointed in her, but he was kind to her. He got up from his seat and walked over to her.
"There, there." He then crouched down in front of her to meet her gaze and padded her head. "It must have been hard for you. You did the best you could."
Even more tears fell at his kindness.
"If you would like to, would you go to Hokkaido with me?"
Mikako is stunned at the sudden proposal and looked up at him.
"I've actually got sick of my job. I've been doing nothing but working, and I have been thinking of taking a long vacation. I thought about restoring my spirits by traveling around and leisurely enjoying the countryside. I know it's sudden, but I plan to leave late tonight. I was going to tell you about it today."
"No matter how much debt you have, they won't chase you all the way to Hokkaido."
It was an incredible development. Mikako could not believe it.
Is this……a dream?
Her mood instantly got better. Mikako lifted her head and nodded multiple times. "I-I'll go with you! I'll follow you wherever you go!"
She had been waiting for someone to say that for a long time. She had waited for someone to rescue her from this hell. Tanaksan was truly her prince.
I get to run away with the person I love. Yes! This is the best! Her tears completely drew back.
"Then let's go."
Tanaksan stood back up.
"We don't have a lot of time until we have to go. Hurry and get ready." He pulled Mikako by the arm and smiled. "Ahh, and then bring as much cash as you can. It's the country, so we probably can't use cards much."
"This restaurant has amazing food." Lin stuffed his cheeks with the food brought over to their table. "As expected; they have some quality to it."
He glanced over to Banba while chewing his food.
"Ah, you're footing the bill, right? Could I get the lamb chops cooked in red wine with foie gras sauté? I wanted to try a foie gras for a while."
"……Lin-chan, this ain't the time to get foie gras." Banba's eyes widened. "This has gotten serious."
"What's wrong?" Lin asked as he stabbed his fork into the lobster cooked with white wine. "Are they getting married?"
"They're gonna leave the prefecture. To Hokkaido."
"Are you serious!?" He unintentionally yelled. "To Hokkaido!?"
He did not expect they would run away together. This was like HiruGoku. Lin began to get worked up.
"At any rate," Banba stood up from his seat. "I'm gonna go after 'em."
"Eh? But I haven't had to eat this yet."
"It's fine; hurry up."
"But the fois gras-"
"Hurry it up."
Lin was worried about Mikako running away, but he did not want to throw away the delicious food.
"Go on ahead of me," Lin replied. "I'll follow after once I'm done eating this."
Mikako put the bare minimum she needed into her traveling bag, stuffing in western clothes and makeup and taking out as much cash as she could find. She finished with packing.
She left her apartment with luggage in hand when the time came and waited for Tanaksan in front of her apartment.
"Are you ready?"
"These sure look heavy." Tanaksan commented, glancing at her bags. Naturally they were. Mikako had put all her assets in them.
Tanaksan relieved her from the traveling bag that had all her bills in it. He was smart and kind.
"I'm going to bring the car around. Wait here."
Mikako did as instructed and waited where she was.
A few minutes later, Tanaksan came by in the car. Mikako had started to approach the car to get on the passenger's side when for some reason the car only sped up faster.
It kept going and passed right in front of her.
What's the meaning of this?
"Wait! Tanaksan! Tanaksan!"
The car would not stop no matter how many times she called out to him.
Mikako desperately ran after the car.
Why? Why are you leaving me behind?
Her mind completely blanked.
She pushed aside her long hair and ran. Her legs tangled over each other, and she fell unceremoniously. Mikako continued to scream even as she stumbled. "Tanaksan! Wait!"
And then suddenly the car stopped.
It backed up to where Mikako was.
Tanaksan opened the window on the driver's said and showed his face.
"Do you understand how the man you duped felt now?"
"Eh?" Mikako's eyes widened. What's with that tone of voice? "You're an okama!?"
"Jiro-chan, who is this?"
There was an elementary school girl sitting in the passenger's seat.
"And you have a kid!?"
Mikako was taken aback.
"I'm sorry for deceiving you. I'm an avenger." Tanaksan explained. "You see, I did this because Harsan asked me to."
'Please avenge me.'
It started with a job request.
The client was a man in his thirties. He was a company employee named Hara.
'I was tricked by a woman.'
According to him, he had been dating a woman named Rika. They grew real close. He bought her gifts and he took her out for dinners, and it was just a matter of time before they got married.
However, the day he gave her an expensive engagement ring, the woman had broke all contact with him.
An eye for an eye, a fraud for fraud – that was part of the job as an avenger.
'Her real name is Mikako Honda. She is twenty-eight years old and works as a typical office worker.' An informant he was well acquainted with told him the woman's real identity. 'She doesn't seem to have a luxurious life, so she must have a reason to save up money.'
'A possibility.' Enokida nodded. He continued, reading off her purchase history and rental history. 'This woman seems to like romance dramas, shojo manga, and princess movies like Cinderella and Snow White.'
'Those must resonate with her.'
'The Cinderella concept? Then you should easily be able to deceive her.' Enokida chuckled. 'You just have to pretend it was a fated meeting.'
"On that note, that incident was set-up."
Jiro explained everything.
"The thief was a friend I had asked for help. I had to make a scenario so I could get to know you."
"Wh" Mikako was dumbfounded. "What is that……?"
Tears began to overflow. It was severe, but she did understand to an extent what her victims must have felt like.
"Work modestly from now on." Jiro told her with a gentle smile.
"Work modestly from now on."
The okama, who was her wonderful Tanaksan until just now, winked at her in farewell.
"See you later."
He rolled up the window again and took off.
Mikako did not feel like going after him.
Mikako muttered, crying.
……What's an avenger anyway?
She had met people of various occupations in the underground from hosts addicted to gambling to collectors and yakuza from the black market, but this was the first time she had ever heard a ridiculous sounding occupation as an 'avenger.' She did not expect the person she fell for on first sight would be so dangerous. Or more precisely, she did not expect the person she thought was her fated prince to be a drag queen and have a kid.
What the heck was this? This is the worst. I don't get it.
As she was crying alone, she was suddenly called out to by someone. It was a young man's voice.
"……What is it?"
She replied while sniffling. She did not know who the man was, but she just wanted to be left alone right now.
She turned around to face him with her tear streaked face and saw a suspicious looking man standing in front of her. He had his parka hood up and a kerchief around his mouth.
"You're Hongou's woman, right?"
The man asked a sudden, strange question.
Hongou's? Woman? ……what's going on?
"Wh-who's Hongou……?" Mikako was sure none of her wallet men had the name Hongou. "I think you're mist"
"Don't play dumb," the man yelled. "I saw Hongou leave your room earlier today."
"Anyway, come with me."
The man went up to her and roughly grabbed Mikako's arm.
"Ow," Mikako immediately pulled away out of shock. "P-please stop!"
I don't know what's happening, but this man is bad news.
Mikako sensed danger from the man and tried to get away.
"Hold it, wait there!"
The man yelled and threw something underhand. A black shaped object whizzed by her.
It was a shuriken.
Mikako was startled.
Who is this man? He's scary. Why did he throw a shuriken at me? There's something wrong with him.
"I told you to hold it right there!"
Mikako trembled, seeing the abnormal person before her. I have to get away. She quickly turned on her heel.
Please, someone, help!
"I'm not gonna miss this time."
The man moved, throwing another shuriken.
Just as Mikako thought it was over, a man appeared out of nowhere and blocked it, shielding Mikako.
The man removed his jacket and used it to knock down the flying shuriken before turned to Mikako. "Are ya alright?"
Banba was shocked to see Mikako Honda's partner was Jiro. He watched the scene unfold before him, stunned. Apparently Mikako was a target for his avenger work.
Nonetheless, Banba was amazed he did not notice Jiro at all. However, that was unavoidable. Jiro wore a suit unlike usual and had even changed his hairstyle slightly. His appearance had changed as well as his manner of speaking. He did not expect a man speaking in such a masculine way to be Jiro.
"He must've shocked the poor gal……"
Banba muttered to himself, watching Mikako standing frozen in place from a distance. She reaped what she sowed though.
But with this another job had been wrapped up. He was about to call Lin and meet up with him somewhere when he noticed a disturbance.
"……What's this now?"
Mikako was having a dispute with someone. No, she was being attacked by a man.
Unable to sit back and watch, Banba immediately went in to save her.
"Hey," the man demanded. "Don't get in my way."
The man spoke in a familiar Kitakyushu dialect.
When Banba looked at the assailant closer, he recognized the man's face. It was the hitman from Kitakyushu – Saruwatari.
"I was wonderin' who it could be, but it's just the zero-hit ninja."
"……It's the stupid mask." Saruwatari looked over Banba and frowned.
They had crossed blades with each other a few times now. However, they did not expect to see each other here of all places.
"Get outta the way," Saruwatari glared at him. "I have some business with that woman there."
"I can't do that."
Without any more words to say, Saruwatari charged at him. He pulled out his hidden ninja sword and swung. He was as blood-seeking as ever.
Banba on the other hand was unarmed. He prepared to fight with his fists and kicks, making some distance from the man when-
"Wait! Stop, stop!"
A bespectacled man suddenly showed up. Banba recognized him too. He was Nitta, Saruwatari's partner.
Nitta gave them a wry smile. "I'm terribly sorry he caused you so much trouble."
Saruwatari tutted. "Nao, don't get in my way."
"Well, you see, Sarucchi," Nitta told him, shrugging. "This woman isn't actually Hongou's lover."
"She was just someone who had to repay Hongou."
"I'm awfully sorry." Nitta faced Mikako and bowed. "I'm very sorry you got attacked by him."
Nitta then winked at Banba.
"Please play with him again another time."
He then grabbed Saruwatari by the arm and firmly pulled him away.
"Alright then. Let's go, Sarucchi."
"Let me go!"
"Come on, we got to hurry."
"I told you to let me go! You can't pull me away after I came all this way!"
"Listen, we got work to do."
It was like a mother dragging her child putting up a temper tantrum.
Banba sighed as he watched the two leave. "……He's as loud as ever."
"As far as work goes, I don't like deceiving people much." Jiro spoke keenly as he drove.
He thought back on Mikako. She certainly did horrible things, but it was also true that she was in a serious situation.
Her crying flashed through his mind, and he smiled bitterly. "A woman's tears are awful."
Jiro immediately turned the wheel and made a U-turn.
"Mischan, can we take a detour?"
"Where are we going?"
"We're going to a place bad people are at."
Jiro would not forgive anyone for raising their hand against her. And to have hit her with brass knuckles of all things. Whoever did it was scum. Jiro would not be satisfied with just a punch.
Jiro parked the car in front of the building in question.
"What are you going to do?" Misaki inquired.
"An extra job for free. Please wait here."
Jiro got out of the car and climbed up the stairs. He got onto the third floor and opened the door to Genkai Financing.
"Oh my goodness……"
When he looked inside, he was shocked. He saw a pile of bodies. Yakuza men working for this dirty money lending company were on the ground, bleeding.
"How awful. Who would have done this……?"
There were plenty of reasons someone with this occupation would be killed.
Among the bodies, Jiro spotted a man who looked to be the collector. He wore brass knuckles on his right hand.
"Now then," Jiro pulled the article off the corpse's hand. "I will make sure to give you the same pain you gave Mikako-chan."
Once he put on the silver item on his right hand, Jiro thoroughly punched the body's left cheek. Mikako must be overcome with sadness right now. There was nothing Jiro could do for her now since he had deceived her.
But he wanted to at least do this much for her. It may have been pointless, but he did not care. Taking revenge was for self-satisfaction anyway.
Today has been a complete mess. Mikako thought to herself as she wiped her eyes with her palm. And the disaster had continued. She was first hit with brass knuckles by the collector, and the person she thought was her fated partner was queer, had a kid, and had tricked her. And on top of it all, she had been attacked by a strange ninja man who was after her.
But this person had saved her.
"Hey there," the man turned around and asked. "You ain't hurt are ya?"
Mikako closely examined the man's face. What a handsome guy, she thought passingly. He was tall and looked great in a suit.
"Y-yes, I'm fine."
MIkako nodded dumbly.
"……Um, what's your name?"
When she asked, the man seemed surprised and cocked his head. "Me? I'm Zenji Banba."
"Zenji, Banba, -san……"
Mikako whispered the man's name absentmindedly. For some reason she felt heat rise up in her face, and her pulse started to speed up.
"Thank you for saving me."
Mikako bowed her head deeply. Banbsan smiled gently to her back. "Ahh, dontcha worry 'bout it."
His smiling face was quite manly. He was a wonderful gentleman.
"……Ah, um, Banbsan!"
As if she could let this chance escape.
Mikako gazed at him with upturned eyes.
"Could I treat you for dinner as thanks sometime?"
…..He has to be the one.
Mikako's eyes shone in wonder, unaware that the man she had fallen for at first sight was the insane man renowned as the "killer of killers."Translation Notes: The drama mentioned in this story Hirugaogokutsu (昼顔極妻) is based off of two famous drama series: Hirugao: Love Affairs in the Afternoon and Gokudou no Onntachi (nicknamed Gokutsuma). Hirugao is a more recent drama while Gokutsuma was from the late 80s and early 90s. Misaki’s cat is often referred to as Kuro. Based off his full name, his nickname should be ‘Cro,’ but Kuro is a common name for black cats (it’s the equivalent of ‘blackie’), and I honestly just didn’t want to get rid of it.