Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens Volume 5 Chapter 9-10

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Warning: Child Torture

Top of the Ninth Inning

"I'm going to floor it, so put on your seat belts."

And just as Jiro stated, he slammed on the acceleration pedal; the minivan the three were in lurched off and sped down the street.

"Whoaa," the other two exclaimed when Jiro made a sharp left turn. Banba and Lin were thrown to the right from the motion.

"……He's drivin' crazy." Banba muttered next to Lin. He was using his j.a.panese sword as a means to support himself against the car's jerking motions.

They were almost at their destination, one road away from the Mutagawa Group's warehouse.

In just a few minutes, an old squared building came into view – it was the warehouse.

"A truck is coming."

The truck that was parked in front of the warehouse just took off and was heading towards them.

"Grab a hold onto something."

Jiro ordered, re-adjusting his grip on the steering wheel. Lin questioned him. "Hey, what are you-"

"Quiet and brace yourself."

The next second, Jiro had sharply swung the wheel to the side. The minivan swerved to its side and came to a stop, blocking the road. Once they regained their balance after being flung around from the motion, they looked out the window to see the truck was speeding towards them.

"Oh no-"

"They're going to crash into us!"

Banba and Lin braced themselves for the collision. The truck had put on its emergency brakes, making a high pitched screech. Fortunately, the truck did not hit them. It had managed to stop in time, narrowly missing Jiro's van.

"……I thought we was gonna die."

Banba exhaled.

Lin nodded next to him. "My lifespan just got shortened."

If they had gotten hit, it would have been over. They would have been stuck in the car, unable to escape the collision.

"Misaki!" Jiro yelled, opening the door and rus.h.i.+ng out of the car. Lin and Banba quickly followed suit.

Since they had blocked the road, they had expected the driver to be yelling at them, but an unexpected development awaited them. The door on the pa.s.senger's side had opened, and a man came out of it. He landed on the ground nimbly and sauntered over to them, smiling.

"We meet again, stupid mask face."

It was a familiar voice.

It was that hitman.

"Geh," Banba grimaced.

"You again!?" Lin scowled as well and yelled back. "You're always getting in our way. Are you a stalker!?"

"Huh? h.e.l.l no."

Saruwatari frowned.

"So why are you here?" Banba stepped in front of Lin, holding his weapon in his right hand. At that, Saruwatari pointed to the driver with his thumb.

"I was hired by them. They said they were being targeted by a hitman, but you were involved too?"

"Hey!" The driver of the truck yelled at Saruwatari when he conversed carefree with the enemies. "What the h.e.l.l are you doing? Kill them already!"

"I'm gonna do that now," Saruwatari glared back at the man. "Don't order me around."

He then turned back to them and brandished his ninja sword.

"Leave this fella to me." Banba re-adjusted his grip on his sword and instructed Lin and Jiro in a low voice. "Hurry up. Get Misaki."

"Alright. Got it."

"Don't get killed."

Leaving Banba to face that hitman, Lin and Jiro dashed over to the driver's side. Once they pulled the man out of there, Lin took out his knife and pressed it against his neck. "If you do as we ask, we'll let you live."

"Hey, hitman!" The man shouted for Saruwatari, seeking help. "Hitman! Kill these guys!"

Saruwatari turned to face him, annoyed. "Huh? I'm not in the position to do that right now."

"Haa?" The man's eyes widened at his refusal. "Don't kid with me! What will happen if I die?"

"Then go die."

No matter how hard the man wailed for help, Saruwatari paid no heed. He was completely focused on Banba.

"Where is Misaki?" Jiro drew close to the driver.

"Misaki?"

"The child you kidnapped!"

Jiro took out a gun with his uninjured arm and pointed it at the man.

"I-I don't know."

Just then, they suddenly heard voices coming from inside the truck. It was the sound of children crying. Jiro pressed his ear against the vehicle and figured she must be in there.

The door to the back of the truck was locked.

Jiro placed his finger on the finger and ordered. "Open it up. Now!"

"As if I could do that! They're important merchandise!"

There was a gunshot. Gunpowder smoke emitted from the gun barrel. Jiro had shot the man.

"Ow, s.h.i.+t……!"

The man staggered, having been injured in his right leg.

"Next will be your other leg."

"I got it! I got you!"

The man broke down and raised both his hands in defeat. He unlocked the door as instructed and opened the doors wide. There were six dog cages inside the truck. Each one had an elementary school kid locked up inside.

"This is horrific……"

Jiro frowned at the scene.

Lin looked at the children inside the cages and tutted. It was like they were livestock. "……Human trafficking?"

The man had mentioned they were important merchandise, meaning they had intended to sell these children off somewhere.

"Ah, you," Lin saw a child he recognized among them. "You're Rena Aikawa, right?"

She was the daughter of Mari Aikawa – their client who got murdered. Lin did not expect to find her here.

"Misaki!" Jiro climbed into the back and searched for his daughter. "Misaki! Where are you!?"

"………She's not here."

Out of all the children inside the cages, Misaki was missing.

"Where is Misaki!?" Jiro yelled. He stalked up to the driver again and thrust the gun against him.

"I don't know," the man shook his head.

If she was not here, maybe she was locked inside the warehouse.

"Let's check inside."

They threatened the man to give them the key for the side entrance of the building and entered the warehouse. Only silence greeted them. They did not feel any person's presence inside. They called Misaki's name, but there was no response.

After Jiro looked around inside, he whispered. "……There's no one here."

The warehouse only had a pile of cardboard boxes. Inside them were guns and bullets as well as white powder in vinyl bags and syringes.

Jiro walked around further.

"This is-"

He spotted something on the ground. It was a hair tie. It looked like Misaki's.

There was no doubt that Misaki was here. She had left proof behind for them.

The two walked out of the warehouse and questioned the man again. "Where's Misaki? She was here, wasn't she?"

"……Yeah," the man finally seemed to have recalled her. "She was the weird kid."

"Where is she!?"

There were gunshots again. This time there were three.

"Hee!" The man shrieked and bent over, covering his head.

At this rate Jiro may kill him. Now that Jiro had lost his cool, Lin took over the interrogation. "Where is the weird kid?"

"Sh-she was taken by Is.h.i.+harsan."

"And who's Is.h.i.+hara?"

"He's from the same organization as me."

"Where did he take her?"

"I don't know!" The man yelled.

Lin could tell he was lying. He pressed his knife to the man's throat. "Why would he take her?"

"That kid seemed to know something on us……Is.h.i.+harsan said he was going to get it out of her."

Jiro and Lin exchanged glances. By 'get it out of her,' he meant torturing her? If that was the case, then they needed to save her quickly.

"Do you think he took her to their base?"

"No," Lin shook his head. "There's no way someone would bring a kid into their gang's hideout."

"I suppose so."

"Then that leaves……his home?" Lin stared at the man with a side glance, carefully observing him. The man had a marginal reaction when he said that. It seemed Lin had hit the mark.

"Where does Is.h.i.+hara live?"

When Jiro pressed the man for answers, he shook his head. "I don't know."

It did not seem he was lying this time.

"What is his first name?"

"Hiros.h.i.+. Hiros.h.i.+ Is.h.i.+hara."

Jiro started a call, planning to have Enokida look into him. He talked with him for a while, but after he hung up he shook his head in defeat.

"It's a common name, so there are too many guys with the exact same first and last name. He did say he could cross some off by age, address, occupation and past criminal offenses from the list to find anyone who could be correlated with the Mutagawa Group……"

But even then, they would still have more than ten people. There were too many. They did not have the time to check up with each one.

"……Hiros.h.i.+ Is.h.i.+hara."

Lin whispered his name.

"Hiros.h.i.+ Is.h.i.+hara, he said?"

Lin had a realization.

"The name of the man who took her was Hiros.h.i.+ Is.h.i.+hara, right?"

"Yes." The man replied.

The name Hiros.h.i.+ Is.h.i.+hara was familiar to Lin.

'Hey, did you know? Is.h.i.+harsan in room 408 is apparently a yakuza member of the Mutagawa Group.'

Now that Lin thought about it, he had heard a talkative housewife mention that when they were going around asking people for information on Rena Aikawa's case earlier.

"……Hey, Jiro," Lin considered the possibility. "I think I know where he lives."

Misaki managed to avoid being put on the truck by provoking Is.h.i.+hara. Although she was able to escape human trafficking, that did not change her situation. Once Is.h.i.+hara bound her limbs, he put her in his car and drove her off somewhere. They were heading towards an old apartment building. Is.h.i.+hara picked Misaki up by her waist and snuck onto the elevator with her while avoiding being seen by onlookers. They got off on the fourth floor, and she was brought to the furthest apartment on the floor.

"……Welcome home."

She heard a child's voice. A boy greeted Is.h.i.+hara as he took off his shoes at the entrance. The boy's eyes widened when he saw Misaki. "Who is this girl?"

"You're in the way. Move."

Is.h.i.+hara shoved the boy aside and proceeded down the hallway. He headed towards the bathroom.

Is.h.i.+hara turned on the faucet and began to fill the tub.

"……This is for daring to talk smack to me."

He tore off the tape covering Misaki's mouth and lifted her up.

"I'm not letting you off easy even if you start crying, you s.h.i.+tty kid."

In the next moment, her small body was thrown into the bathtub.

There was a splash of water, and her clothes started to sodden. The cold water spread all around her as she was pushed to the bottom of the tub.

Her limbs were still tied, making her unable to move. She attempted to rise to the surface, but her head was pushed back down from above her. She could not breath. Water was seeping into her mouth and nose.

It hurt.

Air was escaping her through her mouth.

It hurt.

Just as she thought she was at her limit, the man's arm reached out to her, grabbing her by the collar and pulling her up.

"Gha, kwah, gha."

Misaki coughed, spitting out water. She heaved, sucking in air as much as she could.

"Come on. Tell me."

The man questioned her, drawing close to her face.

"Who are you? Tell me." He yelled and shook Misaki.

"……I won't."

Misaki would not tell him. She could not.

I'll protect Jiro-chan.

The man grew angrier when she glared back at him and shouted.

"You s.h.i.+tty kid!"

Misaki was a.s.saulted by water once more. Is.h.i.+hara held Misaki's head and pushed it into the bathtub.

It hurt. She could not breath again. Water went up her nose, and she grimaced from the sharp pain underwater. Misaki tried her best to hold her breath so she would not waste air.

A few seconds later, the man's hold on her weakened. She was pulled out of the water before being submerged again. Is.h.i.+hara repeated the process multiple times.

But regardless, Misaki would not cave in. She would endure whatever he would do to her.

"Gha, ha, ah," Misaki stated as she regulated her rigid breathing. "……I won't tell you a single thing."

The man increased his pressure against Misaki's head, fuming. He was going to put her under the water again, when-

"Dad."

They heard a reserved voice from outside the bathroom. It was the boy from earlier.

Is.h.i.+hara stopped and clicked his tongue. "……What is it?"

"Someone's here."

They heard the sound of the intercom ringing. Is.h.i.+hara tutted once more before walking out of the bathroom. His footsteps drew farther away.

Now was her chance.

The ropes binding her had loosened while she had thrashed around. Misaki undid her bonds and slipped out of the bathtub. She had to get out of there before the man came back.

When she was about to get out into the hallway –

"That was just a religious solicitator. Don't bother me over every little thing." Misaki heard the man's voice drawing closer. "If someone comes, just say I'm not here."

This isn't good. He's coming back.

If she stayed there the man would find her. Misaki quickly went into the j.a.panese style room in front of the bathroom and hid inside the closet.

She brought her knees to her chest and held her breath.

"Hiding is useless."

Hearing a voice just outside the sliding screen, she jumped.

He found me. Misaki braced herself.

She had completely forgotten that she was drenched. The man could easily find out where she was by tracking the drips of water.

The sliding door abruptly opened with a snap.

"Get the h.e.l.l out here!"

Is.h.i.+hara howled, glaring at her. He reached out and grasped her ankle roughly, trying to pull her out.

It was the same as back then. Abruptly, memories from the past arose before her. The menacing look Is.h.i.+hara overlapped with her step-father's from four years ago.

She was a.s.saulted by fear double-fold and felt tears forming. She was shaking.

Misaki ground her teeth and fought the sensation head on.

She had to resist. She got onto her own feet and bit into the man's arm. I'm going to bite it off. Misaki bit harder into his arm.

"Ow, you s.h.i.+t!" Is.h.i.+hara shouted, withering in pain. "How dare you-"

Is.h.i.+hara snapped and attacked her. He struck her in the face, causing her to stumble back from the force. Unable to retaliate, she collapsed onto the tatami floor. Misaki curled up into a ball and raised her arms to protect her head, s.h.i.+elding herself from the blows and grounded her teeth.

"You f.u.c.king-!"

Is.h.i.+hara raised his fist when he suddenly stopped.

The intercom was ringing again. Someone had arrived. It was being rung persistently. It would not stop no matter how much it was ignored.

"……What is it now?" Is.h.i.+hara shouted, clicking his tongue. "Hey, you go check!"

"I'll go now," Misaki heard his son's weak voice reply back immediately.

Is.h.i.+hara turned his focus back onto Misaki and grabbed her by the hair.

"……G.o.ddammit, you're being a pain in my a.s.s."

When he lifted up her face, blood poured from her nose. A blood vessel must have burst when she got punched a second ago. The blood dripped onto the tatami floor, staining it.

"Come on, tell me." Is.h.i.+hara laughed. He had a triumphant expression as though he thought he had won. He must feel proud, believing he had control over a child through violence. What an idiot, Misaki thought. This man and her step-father were all idiots.

I don't want to lose to a stupid adult like him.

Misaki glared at the man in front of her and stated. "……Do you think I'd be scared just because you hit me?"

The man scowled at her. "What did you say?"

"This is nothing."

I'm not like the normal kids. I won't cry just by getting punched. I won't weaken. I'm not scared at all even if this stupid adult tries to intimidate me.

"I've had an abundance of real life experience with this." Misaki smirked at him while wiping the blood off her face with the back of her hand. "It's not like I went through abuse at four years old for show."

Is.h.i.+hara's complexion changed.

"You s.h.i.+tty kid," he raised his arm once more. "I'm gonna kill you!"

Lin and Jiro left Banba behind and headed over to Is.h.i.+hara's place. It was at an apartment building near the park Lin and Banba were investigating at earlier, in room 408. It was the middle of the night, but nonetheless they hit the intercom b.u.t.ton. There was no reply, so they kept ringing it repeatedly. After a few moments, the one who appeared was not Is.h.i.+hara but a boy. He must have been Is.h.i.+hara's son.

"Good evening, young boy," Jiro spoke before the other could. He lacked his usual courtesies. "Is your father in?"

"……He's not."

"Are you alone?"

The boy nodded.

"But it sure is loud in there." Lin had his focus towards the inside of the room. They could hear a man yelling, 'you s.h.i.+tty kid,' and 'I'm gonna kill you.'

"I'm sorry to intrude."

Jiro said in manner where the other could not consent to nor refuse to. Intimidated by his threatening demeanor, the boy let them inside.

They headed towards the direction of the shouts and found themselves at a j.a.panese style room.

"I'm going to kill you for looking down on me!"

They heard that yell from inside.

When they opened the door, Misaki was there.

She was in a terrible state. She was entirely soaked, and her face was covered in blood from being hit. The man had gotten on top of her and was about to throw another punch.

The moment Jiro saw the scene, he snapped.

"You b.a.s.t.a.r.d," he shouted. "What the h.e.l.l are you doing to my daughter!?!?"

Jiro's dominant arm whipped out of its bandaged sleeve and formed a fist high above his head. His left hand grabbed the man by the collar, and he used his injured right hand to punch the man square in the face.

Jiro struck the man over and over while making a beastly roar. They heard the sound of skin tearing and bones snapping. The man's face swelled up and his nose became bent. Jiro's fist was caked in the man's blood that gushed out of his nose.

The man had lost consciousness. But regardless, Jiro did not stop. Lin watched him as he lost himself to anger and kept pounding the man in a daze. He was overwhelmed seeing the intensity behind his rage.

After a while, Jiro's right arm began to bleed. Seeing that, Lin quickly intervened. "……Hey, you can stop now. You're opening your wound."

Jiro was so menacing that even Lin hesitated to draw close to him.

Jiro's wound had fully opened. He was so worked up that he did not even notice the pain. After he had tossed the man aside, he took in deep breaths to regulate his breathing. Jiro returned to himself in the next moment.

"……Misaki!"

He rushed over to Misaki who was lying on her side.

She immediately lept into Jiro's chest. "Jiro-chan!"

"Ahhh, I'm so sorry. I must have scared you." Jiro held Misaki tightly. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry to have scared you."

"I'm okay……I'm fine."

Misaki wrapped her arms around to Jiro's back and repeated.

"I wasn't scared……I wasn't scared at all……!"

'I wasn't scared.' 'I'm okay.' Misaki wailed as she repeated those words, trembling.

How much fear had she been exposed to? Lin pondered nervously. He had not known her for long, but this was the first time he had seen her like this. What she just went through should have been a terrifying experience.

But Misaki was trying to be strong. She was trying to be the avenger's daughter. For Jiro's sake.

Lin stared at the two as they embraced each other.

This is a family.

That thought pa.s.sed through his mind.

Even after Misaki had fallen asleep from crying and exhaustion, Jiro still kept a firm hold on her. They returned to the van and laid her small body onto the backseat. Misaki was sound asleep. She must have relaxed as soon as she saw Jiro's face.

Lin got into the pa.s.senger's seat.

"Is it alright?" He glanced over to Jiro in the driver's seat. "Your arm."

The bandages were completely red.

"Yes," Jiro looked at his injured arm and gave a wry smile. "Compared to the pain she went through, this is nothing."

The van slowly took off.

Jiro held the steering wheel with one hand and stated. "……I've made my decision."

"For what?"

"I'm going to let her go. I'm going to put her up for adoption."

There was a strong conviction behind his tone of voice.

At this point, his resolve probably would not waver now.

"I see……that's unfortunate."

It could not be helped though. It was the conclusion Jiro thought of. And besides, after seeing Misaki get in that state – beaten up and firmly trying to act strong – there was no way he could keep her around. No matter how mature she behaved, she was still an elementary school girl. Jiro did not want to put Misaki through all that pain a second time. It was natural for him to think that way. If Lin was in the same position as Jiro, he would have made the same decision of entrusting her to a normal household.

But it did not change the fact that they were family.

"……So you did know after all." Lin muttered.

"What did I know?"

"Tips on raising a child."

Jiro's breath caught in his throat.

"She gave it her all. She did amazing." Lin looked outside the window after glancing at Misaki in the backseat. "She's definitely your daughter."

"……Thank you." Jiro replied back in a small voice.

After a few minutes of driving, Jiro suddenly recalled. "That reminds me. Is Banbchan alright?"

Their fight had probably reached a conclusion by now. Lin answered while still facing towards the window. "He's probably fine."

Bottom of the Ninth Inning

"Hey!"

A voice called out to them, stopping their attacks. It was just getting to the good part, Saruwatari tutted.

The young man from the Mutagawa Group approached them while dragging his injured leg. "What the h.e.l.l are you doing?!"

"……Ah?" Saruwatari glared at the man.

"Because of you, the plan completely fell through!" Kase yelled and pointed at Banba. "Hurry up and kill him already!"

"How many times do I have to say to not order me around until you get it!?"

Saruwatari snapped and before he realized it, he had sunk his fist into Kase's face.

"Aghh," Kase yelped and fell onto the ground, motionless. He had lost consciousness.

Now there was no one to interfere. Saruwatari could fight the other man to his heart's content. He looked over to the man in front of him and smirked.

Banba glanced over to the truck."I'm worried about them children. Can I call an ambulance?"

"Sure, whatever."

Once Saruwatari gave him his approval, he took out his cell phone and made a call. "Ahh, h.e.l.lo? s.h.i.+gematsu-san? I found a truck with children inside it, so could ya come check 'em out? Ah, and send an ambulance. We're at-"

After telling the other the details, he hung up with, "okay. Thanks." He then turned to face Saruwatari. "He said they're gonna get here in ten minutes."

That was no issue. "Then let's finish this in one."

Saruwatari held up his ninja sword once more.

The match resumed.

Saruwatari grinned and swung up his sword. The two quickly closed the distance between each other. Their blades clashed with a metallic clang. Saruwatari then bent over to push away from his opponent's blade. The other man took a step back to correct his posture. He then stepped forward, thrusting the tip of his j.a.panese sword at him. Saruwatari took out shuriken from his pocket and threw them with agile speed. One missed. However, the second one had fine trajectory, flying at Banba's face. The other knocked the black object aside, using his scabbard. He then threw the scabbard at Saruwatari.

The moment Saruwatari dodged the scabbard he felt a presence behind him. In an instant Banba had gotten around him. Saruwatari made a half rotation and swung his sword. Banba's blade blocked the blow in the last second.

"……You're good."

"You as well."

The two grinned at each other before distancing themselves once more.

Now how should I take him next?

Just as he adjusted his grip on his sword, Banba abruptly exclaimed. "Oh, would you look at this?"

He glanced down at his wrist watch and made a provocative smile.

"Looks like more than a minute has pa.s.sed."

"……Shut your trap."

Just then, they heard the faint sound of sirens from police cars and ambulances in the distance. They're here already? Saruwatari tutted. The sound was drawing closer. They could not stick around for much longer.

"I'll finish it with this."

Saruwatari raised a four-sided shuriken and glared at his opponent. He had used all his other ninja weapons, and only had that one left.

"We have a one point difference on our score. It's the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and bases loaded – a full count."

The infield and outfield were drawn-in. The next pitch would decide the game.

"If you get three strikes, I win. If you make a hit, you win."

"Fine by me," Banba grinned as well. He gripped his sword with both hands and rose it high into the air, as though wielding a bat. "Give me your best shot."

The match would be settled on this one pitch.

Saruwatari began to make the motion to pitch. He took a large step forward and bent over, releasing the black object mere centimeters from the ground.

It was not a straight ball; it was a sinker. Saruwatari would get him to miss with this pitch.

It was the same as last time they had fought. The shuriken was set to veer off and strike the batter in the leg.

However, immediately after Saruwatari released the shuriken he realized something:

Banba's stance was different.

Banba would take the stance of a right handed batter, facing the pitcher from his left side. Instead, Banba took up the opposite position. He had his right side facing Saruwatari, taking the stance of a left-handed batter.

When did he become a double-sided batter?

Banba swung his sword in front of the stunned Saruwatari. He outstretched his arms and striked the shuriken, managing to hit it towards where the mitt would be. He was able to hit back the shuriken with a curved trajectory a batter would normally evade – back to the pitcher.

The shuriken was flying back at Saruwatari's face. He moved instantly, but he was unable to fully dodge it. The shuriken grazed his cheek and struck the truck behind him.

He was able to hit it.

Saruwatari was dumbfounded.

The pitch he put everything into was sent back to him. He was unable to respond to it at all.

"Alright!"

Banba raised his fist slightly.

"That's my win." He rested his sword against his shoulder, making a triumphant expression.

"s.h.i.+t," Saruwatari cursed quietly.

He did not expect it would be sent back to him. The man must have made a plan to counter it since they last fought. "You can't use the same trick twice." Banba smirked.

"……Shut it."

The sirens were coming closer. They had to get out of there quickly.

Saruwatari picked up his ninja sword and turned on his heel. "I'm going to win next time. Remember that."

Top of the Extra Tenth Inning

A week pa.s.sed since Misaki's abduction.

The bruise on her face the man had given her had finally swelled down, and she resumed her normal activities. It would be more accurate to say Jiro made her go back to her normal activities. They did not have much time left.

The wound on his right arm had still not healed fully, but the swing was taken off. He glanced at his watch. It was eleven AM.

Jiro stood in front of a family restaurant in f.u.kuoka city. Today he was going to meet with a family.

"You must be Tanaksan, correct?"

They arrived ten minutes earlier.

"Yes."

Jiro nodded and looked at the two people who called out to him. It was a kind salaryman and elegant woman. Both looked to be around forty years old.

These two – the Matsus.h.i.+ma couple – were candidates to be Misaki's foster parents. They seemed to be a warm and kind couple. That was the impression Jiro got from them; not bad for a first impression.

"Let's go in," they entered the restaurant under Jiro's suggestion.

The day after the incident, Jiro went to a foster care person to help him find a new family for Misaki. He was then presented several conditions and following them he had found the Matsus.h.i.+ma household.

According to the agent, he would have to meet with the foster family and discuss Misaki before making the final decisions. The day he had to directly meet with the foster family, talk to them, and evaluate them as they would be taking care of his child was today.

"Welcome. Three people? Do you smoke?"

The couple shook their head at the employee's question.

"I also don't smoke."

Jiro added.

"Then I'll take you to the non-smoking area over there."

The shop attendee brought the three of them further inside.

Everything was taken care of by the mediator beforehand and referred to him, so this was the first time Jiro met with the Matsus.h.i.+ma family in person. Once they sat down at their table, Jiro turned to them and bowed. "Thank you for coming all the way out here today."

The Matsus.h.i.+ma couple lived in Niigata. The two came all the way to f.u.kuoka just for their interview.

"Oh, it's no problem." The husband shook his head without a moment's delay. "When we were approached on this, it honestly felt like a dream come true for us. We would have flown here for our future child's sake."

Jiro was happy to hear him say that.

"……Speaking of Misaki."

After they had conversed for a few minutes, Jiro brought up the important detail.

"She had been abused by her step-father for a long period of time."

The two made a small gasp and frowned sympathetically.

"Her heart is complex, and I hope that you can be patient with her to open up to you."

"Don't worry," the husband told him. "My wife has the credentials for counseling."

"Is that so?"

Jiro pretended to be surprised. He already had Enokida look up their personal history. The wife, Yukie, worked as a middle school counselor before she married. She had apparently worked with children who were victims of bullying or had family issues. According to Enokida, the husband had no connection to the underground world, and they were an ordinary family. The company he worked for was clean as well, and it looked like his pay was well.

"I'm sure that will help Misaki-chan."

"For many years we have always wished to have a child." The wife spoke. "But I don't have a body that could allow us to have one……"

"It's not your fault."

Her husband wrapped an arm around his wife and smiled.

"We'll definitely make Misaki-chan happy."

The wife nodded deeply at her husband's words. "We promise."

Jiro imagined Misaki being with these two and her future living happily with this kind couple.

"……Thank you very much."

He decided.

He was sure these two would take care of Misaki. He would entrust his child to them.

"Please take care of Misaki."

Jiro stood up and deeply bowed his head.

Bottom of the Extra Tenth Inning

"……I'm disappointed in you."

Kunio Yamazaki slammed down the morning paper from a week ago. Sanjou grimaced when he saw the header: 'The culprit behind the child kidnappings has been arrested.'

There was a familiar name mentioned in the article. 'Unemployed – Yuuta Kase has been arrested.' Sanjou had bought out the police to pin the whole crime on Kase to save their hide.

"How much money do you think I spent to cover up this incident?"

Kunio went through his own fair amount of troubles as well since it was his company's truck that had been found. His usual gentle expression was that of a demon today. He was thoroughly livid.

"My greatest apologies."

Sanjou deeply bowed his head.

It was the worst outcome. The Mutagawa Group's loss of profits for this failure was immense. They did not just fail to carry out their deal with the human trafficker but even their trust with the Yamazaki Transportation company was harmed as well.

"So," Kunio sat across from Sanjou in the usual coffee shop and brought up the main point of their discussion today. "What did you need to talk to me about?"

"Truth is-"

Sanjou madly pursued after the avenger for the past month.

"I know the avenger has a daughter."

"And what of it?"

Kunio sulked, but Sanjou suggested, "would it be alright to present his daughter to Mieko-san?"

He needed to fulfill his daughter's revenge to make Kunio feel better and restore their damaged relations.h.i.+p with Yamazaki Transportation.

"……I see."

Kunio finally showed interest.

"You plan on making up for your failure with this?"

"At the very least, it is an apology."

Kunio pondered to himself for a few moments.

"If you can carry out this revenge, Mieko may feel better."

He gave his approval.

"And how do you plan to kidnap his daughter?"

"We won't kidnap her. The avenger himself will give her to us."

Kunio knit his eyebrows. "What do you mean?"

"The avenger put his daughter up as a child for adoption."

Is.h.i.+hara had seen both the avenger and the daughter. Sanjou never would have imagined one of the children his men had kidnapped would coincidentally be the avenger's daughter.

Sanjou first looked to find out who his daughter was. According to Is.h.i.+hara, the girl was a second or third year elementary schooler. Sanjou hired several informants and had them look at all the elementary schools in f.u.kuoka. It costed him a lot, but they had found the girl in question and even figured out where the avenger lived as well.

He was going to attempt to abduct his daughter, but the avenger had a strong fort.i.tude. The avenger must have become weary since the last time and had hired a guard for his daughter. There was a brawny black man who would accompany her to school and pick her up later.

After observing the avenger for a while, Sanjou found something unexpected. The avenger met up with a mediator from a foster home. He was going to put his daughter up for adoption. Sajou had paid the agent so he could meet with the avenger as a foster parent.

After Sanjou explained everything that he had done, Kunio made a bitter expression. "He would be skeptical. He would look into the foster parents' history."

Sanjou already knew that. He had a counte plan set up. "I have a brother of a different father who lives in Niigata. He lives with his wife, and they don't have kids yet. They're an ordinary family. His wife worked as a counselor. If I paid them to use their names, the avenger wouldn't question our ident.i.ties. Fortunately for me, my facial features are similar to my brother. I should be able to deceive him even if he looked up what his face looks like."

And the plan was a success.

Sanjou hired an elegant looking woman who resembled his brother's wife, a hostess he knew working at a high cla.s.s club. She was a sharp woman and she understood the gist of everything that was going on after meeting with him just once. She did not lack in acting skills to pretend to be his wife.

The avenger was completely deceived and chose Sanjou as a foster parent. He would give them his daughter tomorrow at eight at night. The avenger told him he would have someone else to hand her over at the place they decided on.

"It'll go smoothly, right?"

Kunio questioned dubiously.

"Yes," Sanjou would make it happen. He nodded deeply. "I'm sure of it."

Translation Notes:

When Jiro screamed “what are you doing to my daughter?!” he dropped all his feminine speech and completely went full aggressive masculine in j.a.panese. To say he was p.i.s.sed is an understatement. While he has adjusted his speech pattern for appearances before, he’s never gone this hardcore masculine before in the entire series.

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens Volume 5 Chapter 9-10

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Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens Volume 5 Chapter 9-10 summary

You're reading Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens Volume 5 Chapter 9-10. This novel has been translated by Updating. Author: Chiaki Kisaki, 木崎ちあき already has 353 views.

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