He hears about the attacker a month after the first incident, when the victim count has risen to five.
The mothers of the victims shuffle into the reception room after school hours. The fear on their faces when he looks at them is understandable, but they don’t shy away from his gaze, stepping towards his desk despite their shaking hands.
They tell him about their daughters, girls that go to different neighboring schools, and the man that assaulted them.
Nighttime or daylight, he appears. they say, voices low and raspy after weeks of screaming for the justice their girls were denied. With scissors sharp enough to pierce the skin, he shears off their hair.
The police say they can’t do anything because he changes his appearance and my daughter didn’t see his face. one says, anger so overwhelming two of her companions have to brace her at each side. They say it’s her fault for walking home alone. That it’s just hair. But is it just hair if my daughter is too scared to leave the house now?
Is it just hair if my daughter doesn’t want to look at herself in the mirror?
Is it just hair if my daughter no longer feels safe around men? Constantly thinking it could be anyone off the street?
He listens to them rage silently, carefully. And then he stands and their voices and breaths pause.
“Three days.” is all he says before walking past them to the door.
A deadline for execution.
The women huddle together, a dark sense of satisfaction settling in their hearts. Thank you. the one with boiling anger whispers, and Hibari just barely pauses in his stride in acknowledgement.
Before they wouldn’t have been able to approach him, much less file complaints or demands, but he’s become softer ( kinder ) since meeting Sawada Tsunayoshi and the odd flock of people that surround him.
He can’t ignore their cries.
Especially if it’s a plea to keep the streets of Namimori clean.
Tonfa twirling in one hand, he mutters to Kusakabe as he strides out the room, “Expand our patrol routes.”
Though he promises them an execution, the attacker isn’t felled solely by Hibari’s hands.
On the third and final day of his search, he hears a struggle in a secluded alleyway just twenty meters outside the typical range of his patrol route.
A bag sits right outside the alley’s entrance, discarded. Stationary carrying the Namimori Middle School emblem has fallen out of its open mouth.
His tonfa flash as he arms himself, cutting down the sidewalk in a sprint.
The attacker, scissors and all, is ejected from the alley before he can reach it, slamming head first into a nearby fire hydrant.
Turning his body to the side, Hibari skids to a stop in front of the alley.
There are two girls slumping into each other just past the mouth of the alley.
Even with their faces slightly obscured by the darkness, he recognizes them.
Despite not being too familiar with her, he can tell the ends of Kurokawa’s hair are slanted, a couple inches stripped from the right half of her hair in a sharp diagonal. Her arms are wrapped tight around her companion’s waist, body trembling ever so slightly. Her face is half buried in her friend’s shoulder, but Hibari can see her pinched expression, her cheeks rouged with fury and fear.
The younger Sasagawa has her arms coiled loosely around Kurokawa’s neck. Her breath is labored, a cold sweat rolling down her neck. She stares out in Hibari’s direction but past him, to the attacker slumped on the floor.
The knuckles on her left hand are split open, her thumb crooked and limp.
“Hibari-san?” she croaks, barely recognizing him through the haze of adrenaline still looming over her.
He flicks out his phone, sending a quick text to his men. His eyes slide down and back towards the very still attacker.
“Is he... alright?” Kyoko asks, and he can’t imagine why she’d be concerned. The hearts of good people are a mystery.
“The Disciplinary Committee will take care of it.” he says, not answering her question. His phone vibrates as Kusakabe confirms he’s on his way, but he ignores it in favor of removing his jacket.
Kneeling down to their level but keeping his distance, he extends it towards them.
Though Kurokawa ignores him, Sasagawa takes it and drapes it around her friend’s shaking shoulders. Her hands stroke Kurokawa’s hair, but her eyes focus in on his.
“My men will escort you home.” he says, breaking eye contact as he rises, hearing the sound of hurried footsteps rushing in their direction.
He hefts the attacker over his shoulder and walks away, aware of the eyes still trained on his back.
A man did not die that day, he simply ceased to exist.
His name scrubbed from every record, he cannot even claim to be a ghost.
He is nothing, as he deserves to be.
“Thank you for what you did the other day.”
The younger Sasagawa is quieter than her brother, but she barges into Hibari’s home in a similar manner with a cheerful smile on her face, acting as if she’s returning to her own home instead of invading someone else’s.
“Ah! Usually you throw onii-chan out in one. Does that mean I’m your favorite?”
“I brought food.”
As she unpacks their lunch, he notices the bandages winding around her hands. Light bruises cover her arms and legs. His eyes narrow.
“This isn’t from back then.” she says, not looking up as she pours them both a cup of tea from the thermos she brought. “Onii-chan healed all of those injuries. These are from training.”
He doesn’t say anything, knowing (if she’s anything like her brother) she’ll continue on her own.
“I asked onii-chan to teach me a little boxing. He says I need to work on my control.” She hands him his cup, a sheepish smile working it’s way on her features. “I can punch the bag fine now, but it always swings back. I got knocked down ten times yesterday.”
As soft Hn. is his only response as he begins to eat his half of the meal.
“I was thinking.” she begins, and (if she’s anything like her brother) it’s a dangerous thing to come out of her mouth. “After I get better at it, after onii-chan says I’m ready, maybe you could spar with me? Onii-chan says boxing is the perfect sport, but I’d like to learn a little of everything.”
He makes the mistake of looking her way.
Her eyes are burning with the same fire he sees in her brother. He can feel a similar heat of passion and power radiating just under her skin. It seems she’s exactly like her brother where it counts.
“When that day comes, I’ll bite you to death with pleasure.”
“Ah! You said yes to me. You always reject onii-chan, I must be your favorite.”