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IVKI

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“Ah, Shotaro. There are some flowers for you,” said Akiko as she entered the agency that morning. In her arm was a bouquet of roses.

   Shotaro put down his coffee and stood up. He trudged towards Akiko while releasing a small sigh and took the flowers from Akiko’s arm to inspect it. Then, he found a lavender-coloured card in between those roses. Shotaro took the card out and read what was written on it.

Shotaro, seeing you make

my days better.

-IVKI-

   “IVKI?” Akiko asked. Shotaro just gave her a small nod as an answer. He put the bouquet on the coffee table and proceed to sit on the sofa.  “Isn’t this already the fourth time?” Akiko wondered to herself as she went to the kitchen to make her own cup of coffee.

    “The sixth, actually,” Shotaro pointed out to her. He lowered the card on the table and just stared at it silently. His hand clasped as he rested it on his thighs.

   Shotaro had been receiving bouquets of flowers for the past three days. At first, he thought it was some kind of thank you gift from his previous clients, but all of the messages written on the cards sound too romantic and does not have the ‘grateful for your help’ vibe to it. So he thought that maybe these flowers was sent by his secret admirer. A male secret admirer.

   As a detective himself, Shotaro can guess it that much. It was uncommon for girls to give flowers to guys, there are some but just a few of them. It was usually guys that give flowers, especially as a romantic gesture to the one they adore. Also, the message on the card always sounds romantic and fluffy so Shotaro could guess that this guy is pretty much a gentleman or straight up playboy.

   Each bouquet that Shotaro received were always a different type of flower. At first, it was lilies, then sunflowers, tulips, chrysanthemums, carnations and now roses. Shotaro did felt curious about the sender’s identity. Shotaro knew that he was an open-minded person and he himself did not care much about others sexualities because love is still love. He would appreciate any positive feelings people had of him. He pondered why the sender did not want to meet him face-to-face. Even though he would most likely to reject the other, he at least wanted to tell him to stop sending flowers because he's just not worth it.

   Sure, when Shotaro did not have any important case to solve, he would go to the flower shop and dig up any information he could get. It was easy to know which flower shop to go because the name of the shop was written on the bouquets wrapping. When Shotaro asked the workers about this mysterious guy, some that are kind enough to cooperate with him will always describe the person with the same physical appearances. It seems that the guy had been buying flowers for three days in a row and came at almost the same time everyday so they could remember him clearly. After all, the shop usually did not have that much customers so they remembered who bought their flowers well enough.

   According to them, he was a skinny and tall guy. He was light-skinned, had short, curly, dark-brown-almost-black-haired. His curly bangs were long enough to cover his eyes when he was looking down. He also wears round glasses and has that serious yet charming aura around him.

   This information helped Shotaro to put a face on this IVKI, but it is not enough. He prefers to know his real name. Is IVKI actually related to his name? It’s not like Shotaro could ask Philip to look him up. It had been a year since Philip… left.

   Shotaro stood up from the sofa and steps towards his desk. He took a sit on his chair and continued writing his reports. He did not have time to search for this mysterious guy or to mourn over someone who left. He still had things to do, reports to write, house chores to finish, cases to solve, people to save and a city to protect. He made a promise and he intended to keep it.

   “Where do you want to put these flowers?” Akiko asked him.

   “Just put it inside the box behind that door,” he replied without a care and pointed to the secret door where he hanged his fedoras.

   "Eh? So you just put all the flowers you received there?"

   Shotaro nodded, his eyes still focused on his typewriter as he continued to type.

   Akiko sighed silently and shook her head. Ever since Philip left, Shotaro became a little cold and no longer smile as often as before. Yet he said it was to keep his hard-boiled image. It had been a year and they all missed the other detective. Out of all of them, Akiko knew Shotaro missed Philip the most. After all, they are two-in-one detective, they were partners and they were brothers. Without the other, they’re just not complete anymore.

   Akiko opened the door and gently placed the bouquet on top of others that already wilted in the box.

 _____________________________________________________________________________

   Two days went by peacefully. Shotaro still got a bouquet of flowers. This time, it was peonies but they still end up in the box, though.

   On the third day, Shotaro got another case. An important one because he and Akiko suspect that this case involves Dopants attack. Even though the Museum had been taken down, there were still gangs out in the city who thought they could rule Fuuto. Obviously, they would fail because Shotaro is still alive and would be out there kicking their asses. He will protect his beloved city no matter what.

   This case was brought upon his attention by Akira, his client. He asked Shotaro to find his missing sister. After some poking around and digging of information, he concludes that this case did involve Dopants.

   It was pretty easy, after all. He found them in an abandoned building and beat them up with Joker. They were, like always, a bunch of kids that chose the wrong path and he hoped that they would learn their lesson. Shotaro felt himself relax a little bit, another happy ending.

   Until a new Memory user showed up. He recognized him as the new worker at the pet shop near the agency.

   “I am Energy! The leader of EXE!!!” the user announced loudly. “One day, this city will quiver before me and make me their leader!” Right after that, he inserted the Energy Memory and transformed into a Dopant. Then, it formed a ball of energy on its palm.

   Shotaro knew that he did not have enough time to transform into Kamen Rider Joker, so he proceeded to turn his back toward the Dopant to protect his clients. But nothing happened, instead, he heard a loud smack from behind and the energy ball completely missed them. Shotaro turned to look at the Dopant, wondering why it missed its target.

   He saw that the Dopant was trying to stand from its fall. Not far from it was a stranger who stands firmly. Shotaro was baffled. Did this guy just hit the Dopant? He heard Akiko and Terui Ryuu gasped in shocked too.

   “How dare you?! Who do you think you are?!!” the Dopant screeched in anger. It was mad because a normal human dared to attack him.

   The guy pushed up his glasses and calmly state, “No one.”

   “Then you better scram before I kill you!” the Dopant threatened him. But the guy did not heed its warning and stood as brave as he could in front of all of them. Shotaro admits that he was kinda amazed by him.

   “Unfortunately, I couldn’t. I won’t allow you to hurt Hidari Shotaro,” the guy replied. He did not look scared at all, in fact, he looked like he had encountered Dopant his entire life.

   Shotaro stared at the guy closely. His physical appearance matched perfectly with the information he gathered. So, this guy was actually, “IVKI?” Shotaro asked.

   The guy looked at him, “Bingo!” he laughed. “But it is pronounced as Ibuki, love,” he chided. Shotaro’s mouth almost gaped open when he heard that endearment.

   “Hey, this is not the time to be lovey dovey!” Akiko lectured and hit Shotaro’s head with her trusty slipper. “Ouch! Akiko!!” Shotaro yelped and Akiko just pouted. 

“Look out!” Terui Ryu suddenly warned.

   The Energy Dopant was angry. How dare this mere human attacked him and ignore his powerful existence! It started to form another ball of energy, this time it is bigger than before. “I already warned you!” the Dopant fumed angrily then he threw the ball of energy towards Ibuki.

   “NO!” they all screamed in anguish, but Ibuki just stood there without moving a muscle still looking calm and fearless. The ball hit him but instead of killing him, it just exploded around him and leave him harmless. Ibuki survived without any scratch.

“You cannot hurt me!” Ibuki cackled almost looking maniacally. “So unfortunate!” he stated before his smile quickly vanished from his face. “Now, I had to destroy you myself,” he finished and walked slowly towards the Dopant.

   The Energy Dopant panicked. How could this guy survive its attack?! Does it mean that this guy actually had what it takes to kill him?! Then, like the coward it was, it ran away quickly and gone from their sight.

   They all stared at Ibuki with amazement but then, Ibuki fell on his knees. They rushed towards him. “Hey, are you okay?” Shotaro asked worriedly. Ibuki lifted up his head and looked straight into his eyes, “Yes, I’m fine. It just……that was so scary,” he sighed heavily. Shotaro chuckled and held out his hand. Ibuki grabbed it and stand close to Shotaro.

   Then Shotaro realized that this guy was his secret admirer. “Ah!” Shotaro blushed and hoped Ibuki won’t notice how nervous he was now.

   “This is the first time we’ve met. I hope you’re not disappointed,” Ibuki said softly. His eyes looking at Shotaro with fondness.

   Shotaro scratched his cheek and smiled shyly, “Of course not. So, would you tell me your name? All I know was that you introduced yourself as IVKI on those flowers,” he asked.

   “My name is Hiiragi Ibuki,” Ibuki answered. “About the flowers, I hope you liked them.”

   Shotaro grinned, “I loved them.” He heard Akiko snorted behind him.

   Ibuki chuckled silently and touched Shotaro’s finger, “I’m glad,” he said. They both just stared at each other.

   At that moment, a familiar voice was heard. “I hope I’m not intruding anything,” the owner of the voice said. Shotaro never turned around faster in his life. He knew the voice! The voice of his precious partner!

   Philip was smiling at them. Steady and alive. “Yo, Shotaro!” he greeted cheerfully with that stupid grin on his face.

   “Phi-Philip…..how…?” Shotaro was speechless. He got to meet his secret admirer and now Philip was back. Was today his birthday or something?

   “I didn’t hear anything about this!” Akiko was also shocked. Even Terui Ryu was left speechless.

   “It’s a long story,” Philip started, “but to make it short for now, it seems that Wakana-nee-san sacrificed herself to bring me back.”

   Shotaro felt so happy. He did not know where to release his happiness.

   “It seems that we have a stranger here,” Philip said while he looked at Ibuki. They both stared at each other. Philip just felt something was off about this guy.

   “Oh, this is Ibuki and well… it’s also hard to explain who he is to you right now,” Shotaro exclaimed. “So, I think we should celebrate your return. Then I could fill you in,” he smiled brightly.

  Akiko and Terui Ryu smiled at the suggestion, agreeing in it. Philip smiled, Shotaro is still Shotaro. That’s a relief.

  But as they walked back to the agency, after dropping off Akira and his sister, Ibuki is still there with them and Philip couldn’t help but notice that they were close.

  Too close.

 ________________________________________________________________________

  Philip was mad. He never felt this mad before. All he wanted to do was sent Hiiragi Ibuki back to whatever dimension he came from.