Living as Kuromu Dokuro

Chapter 11

Mukuro was worried, no matter what he told himself. Worried as in faintly creasing his illusionary eyebrows whenever his mind strayed, which shouldn't be possible unless he was subconsciously worried; worried as in this strange, inexplicable, underlying emotion that almost blasphemously felt like concern of all things.

The feeling was too strange, too foreign to him, and he discovered that he really didn't like this strange twinge in his guts whenever he pondered over his student's behavior. She was determined, yes, admirably, but she was too determined to become stronger, even choosing torture over a longer time spent on training. She was rushing, and he didn't know why.

He had seen many horrors in the six paths, but at that time when she had resolutely refused to take the less painful option, the look in her eyes had scared him. He had never asked, but he suspected that her resolution was a self destructive one, almost like an overcompensation for something, as if she would never be satisfied with her achievements unless she sacrificed something -her everything- for it.

She was too hungry for strength, for power, too... desperate. She was centering her life around the intangible concept of power, but her reasoning for it was the thing that was destroying her. Even though she so desperately wished to be loved by friends and hopefully family, she too wished to be feared. Without thinking, she immediately prioritized being remembered over becoming happy, perhaps because she was afraid of another meaningless death? He wouldn't know, certainly, but this was definitely going to break her sooner or later.

It was a tragedy in the making, but so far, it had helped her become stronger at an abnormally fast rate, for her mind had decided to ignore the contradiction and focus on her resolution itself. Her resolute mindset of 'No matter what...' was enough for her, at least for now when she had not yet become too close to anyone.

This, more than a strangely strong determination, was shaping up to be an obsession — an unhealthy one at that. It could almost be described as suicidal. He could do nothing but to try and find out why, before she became half as twisted as he was.

Of course, this was not because he cared for her, he thought. He merely wanted his first disciple to be sane and last long enough to become a part of his legacy. It helped that she seemed like she could become a huge asset. He was sure that that was all.

Her resolution (distortion) was convenient for him though, for she would apparently put his life before hers in any life threatening conflict, unless of course, he interfered with either of her goals. In which case, she'd probably defy his orders or ruin his plans.

He frowned again, wondering if there was any way he could mold this to his advantage, or better yet...

...fix that girl.

"Done," he muttered to himself, a smirk stretching his face into an expression of gleeful mischief.

He signed his name on the space meant for parents or guardians, and with a flourish, completed the documents that he had spent an afternoon on. Some he had forged, others he convinced people to make legal, but now he was done with those accursed paperwork.

Perhaps this could help his star pupil stabilize herself.

Social interaction with peers was, unfortunately, a necessity for the type of Mist user Kuromu seemed to be aiming towards.


Pressing her face against the glass wall, said pupil widened her huge doe eyes in childish adoration, colourful sparkles dancing in her violet eyes with longing as she looked at the cat plushie.

It was fluffy... cute... and expensive. Even so, she desperately wanted it.

From outside the window, the cat plushie looked soft and huggable, its round body the colour of pure white. It had round plastic eyes that were blue as the sky, and a curled tail resting quietly on the platform in the display window. It was appealing to every last piece of her feminine side with its cuteness.

She wanted it, but the reality was a harsh, cruel and cold thing — she was jobless, penniless, and the plush toy was expensive. She bit her lower lip in conflict, unwilling to give up on the kitty.

Just then, she heard a high-pitched voice unique to teenage girls, "Hahi! The rabbit plushie is so expensive!"

It seemed like they had the same problems in life. Relatable issues in life.

Her defeated posture drew in a dark aura of depression as she mumbled, "300000 yen... Haru has been defeated..."

Kuromu studied the girl, having been struck with a strange sense of familiarity by her words. Soft chocolate brown hair was tied up in a high ponytail, the end of her hair barely touching her neck. Her fringe was brushed to either sides of her face, framing it neatly. Her eyes were the same shade of brown, sparkling with innocence and about unidentified energy.

She was wearing the school uniform of... Kuromu could not recognize it.

She was kind of pretty, but not extremely eye catching. It was the captivating sort of 'girl next door' feeling.

"Hahi! A random stranger is staring at Haru?!" She exclaimed in shock, dramatically raising her hands in front of her in a defensive guard position. She audibly inhaled, and froze in that position, staring back at Kuromu.

It took a few seconds for her words to register to Kuromu. Oops, it seemed that she had been observing for a little too long. Fortunately, Kuromu had already figured out who this 'Haru' was, mostly because of her speech habits.

It then occurred to Kuromu to apologize, or at least react."Sorry sorry, I was just wondering if you are the same as me in not having enough money to buy the things I like..."

"Eh? Haru isn't the only one? That's somewhat comforting... Haru is Miura Haru! It's fine to just call me Haru." The girl cheerfully introduced herself, her smile bright and infectious. Kuromu felt a tiny tug on her lips, enough to form a corresponding smile on her face.

"I probably should make an actual friend who isn't batshit insane." Kuromu muttered, and proceeded to introduce herself too, "I am Kuromu Dokuro, or Dokuro Kuromu in this country's language. You can call me anything! Despite my habits, I am a full blooded Japanese!"

Kuromu's stomach conveniently grumbled at this point, reminding her that she had not eaten since last night's dinner, and was supposed to be job hunting. This made her flush and add sarcastically, "A homeless, penniless Japanese middle school runaway, that is."

Thinking her words were a joke, Haru giggled. "You can't be totally out of money! How else will Kuromu-chan return home? You don't look like a Namimori citizen, certainly."

"I seriously don't have money," she deadpanned. "My home is at the Kokuyo Land, for now, but I'm looking for a job. Any recommendations?"

"A free meal for the penniless, perhaps?" Kuromu grumbled sarcastically under her breath, but was still heard by Haru. "I haven't had lunch after all, not even breakfast."

"That cannot do! Haru will treat you to lunch! Kuromu-chan is already so skinny, so you can't afford to skip so many meals!" Haru widened her eyes, and determinedly proclaimed. Like a whirlwind, she dragged Kuromu to the nearby restaurant, which happened to be... Takesushi.

Shock made Kuromu momentarily forget to struggle. The back of her head tingled, and her purple locks stood on ends.

Shit.

No, god damn it.

No no no no no-

The wind chimes by the door tinkled with a melodic, welcoming sound. It also alerted the people within that there were customers.

Whoever was 500 floors upstairs probably hated her.

"We'll get some food, then Kuromu-chan can try to get a job from Yamamoto-san." Haru smiled at Kuromu in what she thought was a reassuring way as she dragged Kuromu into the sushi restaurant, oblivious to the internal turmoil of her new friend.

She might not fear Yamamoto Takeshi anymore, but that didn't mean that she wasn't awkward around him!

Nooooo, someone help!


Hibari Kyoya was not happy.

He had lost; the Hibari family's only surviving blood, the demon prefect of Namimori, the uncrowned King unanimously decided by the surrounding towns of Namimori, the Hibari Kyoya, had lost. He had been defeated, and then humiliated by the disgrace of all pineapples, Rokudo Mukuro, and it was not even a fair fight!

And thus it was safe to say that Hibari Kyoya was not happy. He was upset. He was furious.

To have lost to him in such a disgraceful way, to have lost his dignity before him had enraged Hibari beyond what he had ever felt. That herbivore was despicable; he was undisciplined and a stain on Hibari's pride. Even one of his few hobbies of sakura viewing seemed to have become tainted by Rokudo Mukuro; his presence was everywhere in the sakura trees he made sure to fill his beloved school with, no matter what Hibari did to discipline his mind.

Gritting his teeth, he let his anger simmer within his heart as he stalked the purple haired herbivore from a higher ground, the roof of the shops in the shopping district. He had sworn to never step foot in here, but here he was.

There were too many people, their inane chattering too loud, too chaotic, too undisciplined. Even so, he could not punish them for crowding, not yet, not until he got what he needed.

Hibari creased his delicate brows as the shrilly herbivore dragged his prey into a sushi restaurant. This would not do. His patience was running out faster than a candle burning on its last centimeter.

He narrowed his steely gray eyes at the herbivore with unnatural purple hair, and let a rare flash of unrestrained malice light up his twin orbs. Discipline would be enforced, even if by enforcing it in vengeance, he would become undisciplined. He hissed, soft and dangerously, "I will find Rokudo Mukuro, and you, herbivore, will lead me to his nest."

Situated in the restaurant beside Haru, Kuromu shivered, goosebumps rising uncomfortably.


Namimori was strange. It had always been.

If anyone asked around, Namimori had always been ruled by the Hibari family. If they properly researched, no one remembered a time when the Hibari were not around to protect and govern Namimori.

Visitors to Namimori got extensive background checks before being allowed to stay for a week, and taxes were paid only to the head of Hibari. Their town was not on the map of Japan, and the government of Japan was even collectively ignoring Namimori and its surrounding towns and cities. Namimori had a miniature government completely disassociated from the country, and people of Namimori were obliged to go on all out war whenever the order was issued. This strange place had clear drawn borders and regular patrols, functioning on their own laws and a separate judgement system. Other cities that tried to purchase land near the borders of Namimori were promptly reminded of the threat of war, and persistent buyers were quietly eliminated. Going financially decimated was not a rarity either for cities opposing Namimori. But why did they even have borders?

Leaving Namimori was easier than entering the city, but talking about Namimori's inner workings was punishable by death. Not that a normal citizen would know anything about the inner workings of Namimori, though they probably didn't know that they needed to pay taxes to anyone but the Hibari family anyway.

The vigilante-like sovereigns known as the Hibari family kept Namimori under the iron rule of the Disciplinary Committee of Namimori Middle school, and most citizens of Namimori and its surrounding towns found themselves in a willing state of denial about strange happenings not reported on Namimori's newscast. Taking for granted that Namimori was the standard for all of Japan, they blinded themselves to the fact that despite seeming Japanese and all, Namimori was certainly a miniature state separate from Japan, off the map and officially uncharted.

There were several rules in Namimori that were upheld up religiously, the most prominent one in Namimori being the Rule of Conquest. Defying the rules had consequences, whether it be getting socially isolated or being punished by the relevant authorities. Most of the Hibari family never bothered much with enforcing the unspoken rules, for citizens of Namimori already did their job for them most of the time.

The Rule of Conquest being — the loser of an official duel must fulfill the conditions agreed upon without fail.

(Catch: The challenged party doesn't have to agree to the fight... They just have to retaliate offensively for the duel to be valid. Self defense in the strictest sense does not count, fortunately.)

And thus, it was with this in mind that Hibari Kyoya took action.

He would get his answers, no matter what.


As Hibari approached, sweat beads rolled down her neck, and nervously, she began inching back bit by bit. She had to escape - now.

Though she had no idea what she did to attract his attention, the look of fierce determination on his face seemed to be extremely unfriendly. Steel gray eyes darkened into almost black, and though his words were quiet, she could almost hear the impatient snarl.

"Herbivore, where is Rokudo Mukuro?" He had demanded from her, his voice low and filled with a malicious promise.

It was extremely rude.

She would rather not answer such a rude and undisciplined person. She had no such inclination to cause World War III by seriously answering him either.

However, she felt like she would be killed if she didn't answer him. She was so scared that she might do a handstand!

No wait, that's not it-

"I will make my last stand!"

That's not it either! She screeched at herself mentally. Why did she say that out loud?!

She suppressed the urge of running away, recalling all the animal documentaries of sudden actions provoking a predator's natural instincts. Just as the prey in those shows tried to flee out of their natural instincts of fear and danger, the predator would pounce and strike, ruthlessly and mercilessly...

Eh...

She continued backing away in futility. She really, really, really didn't want to end up like the deer in that documentary!

'I mean... Well...' She thought, trying to convince herself. 'He wouldn't hit a frail beautiful girl who just recovered from a car crash, at least not in public... right?'

Crack! The sound of his tonfa embedding itself into concrete. Around the spot of impact, there were bits of concrete cracked in a visible radius.

How scary, that a teenager civilian could destroy concrete with an aimed throw of his tonfa.

Having landed near her, she could only assume that that was his version of a warning.

It was unfortunately very convincing. She froze, and plastered on a fake smile. If she remembered right, Hibari was violence incarnated, a beast that willingly chained itself with his version of discipline. However, for certain very specific exceptions—

(Stage whisper: Mukuro!)

—even those chains could be loosened.

"Ahahahaha... hehee... Eh, s-soooo... Hibari-san..." She could not find enough words for this bullshit to regain respectable eloquence. Cold sweat was dripping, gazes were darting — randomly, searching for a glimmer of survival. "Who're you talking about...?"

She feigned ignorance. If she had to choose sides, she would obviously choose the one that's kinder to her... that is, Mukuro, when he wasn't tor- tutoring her.

She merely hoped to come out unscathed. That was such a humble wish, that the gods above would surely grant it, however much they messed with her?

(Or perhaps, faced with Hibari on the path of vengeance, this was too humongous of an ambition.)

"Do not take me for a fool, herbivore."

She parted her mouth to deny his accusations, but what came out was beyond her control, and it left her in shock and horror. "You don't need my help with that, thank you very much."

What...

The...

Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuuuuuuuuck— Ohmykamisamawhatwasshedoooiiinngg...

She felt like crying. No, screw that, she might actually be crying. Tears of blood dripping from her heart and all that.

Looking at him now, even trees would bleed tears. His killing intent was so high that it wasn't funny, and that murderous glare could probably kill babies with its intensity.

She was trembling and backing away fast. Eyes wide, she ignored what the animal documentaries said about provocation, and began sprinting for her life.

She pushed herself and exerted her muscles, hoping to get another burst of speed. It was going okay, and she almost seemed to have a chance, but then she made the mistake of looking back.

He was chasing her.

"NOOOOOOO, DON'T COME NEAR ME!" She screamed, pushing her legs to become a blur. "STOP, I'M SORRY, I'M SORRY!"

"Bite. To. Death." His words were guttural growls. His aura was an oppressive inky purple. It frightened Kuromu that he did not even try for a semblance of civility as he said that catchphrase.

"I SAID I'M SORRY, DIDN'T I?"

She ran, diving under obstacles and risking a great fall to take short cuts to places from great heights.

He chased, and persisted in doing just that, up until they were tired, panting and on the brink of collapsing. Even though Hibari was great at fighting, he did not have much experience running and weaving through crowds, since people usually didn't dare to run from him.

Soon enough, the sun was down and the sky was dimming fast. Clouds darkened into an greyish faded blue, and the silhouette of a moon appeared faintly on the other side of the sky. Before they knew it, their chase had spanned the entire area, and as the first of the pink and orange shades lit up the sky, evening had arrived.

They shared a glance.

Hibari was too tired to feel even anger, but his prey was just a few metres away.

His breathing was still erratic.

Choose!A: Continue pursuing his target.B: Call it a day and retry later.

Being the obstinate person that Hibari was, no doubt he would choos—

"...Count yourself lucky, hah, herbi..vore... Hah..." He declared generously, having been too out of breath to sound vehement. He shot a half hearted glare at the girl, and turned to head back to... wherever he lived.

Huh? He chose A?

Kuromu collapsed in relief, lacking the energy to share the author's confusion.

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