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Farewell, Dear Friend

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Tragedy had once again befallen the Narumi Detective Agency. True to Shotaro’s half-boiled state, he was visibly upset. Akiko decided the best thing to do at first was to call her husband, Ryu Terui. Even if she knew how to handle Shotaro when he got like this, Ryu’s steady demeanor was always welcome in a crisis. Further, there was a Gaia Memory user to arrest.

By the time Terui arrived, Shotaro had finally accepted Akiko’s offer of hot cocoa. He sipped it slowly, his eyes glancing over the damage to the office.

A dopant had tracked them down, put together the pieces of who Double was, and came to try to take care of them herself. In the process, the agency had taken on some new battle scars. There were scorch marks on the walls in places, the tall bar table was knocked from its mounting point, the chairs and table in the kitchenette were upended, the contents of the counters were dumped on the floor, and nearly everything breakable had probably broken. But in the corner, under the window, was a sight that Shotaro abruptly tore his eyes from. Instead he looked down into the light brown swirl in his cup.

Someone knocked on the door. He started a bit at the sudden noise. “Come in!” Akiko called.

As expected, it was Ryu, Jinno, and Makura. “What trouble did you cause now, huh, Detective?” Makura immediately rounded on Shotaro, brandishing his handcuffs.

Together, Jinno and Akiko both whacked him. One with his typical back massager, and the other with her slipper. “The culprit’s back there!” Akiko told him. The woman that broke into the agency was tied to the bed frame with her arms behind her back courtesy of one of Shotaro’s neckties. Fang also hopped around near her ankles giving her boots some warning nips if she looked like she was wriggling too much.

While Jinno and Makura went to make the arrest, Ryu crossed to his wife. She held back from hugging him at first, but when he reached out and patted her head, she took that as her invitation. She tried not to get too PDA when he was on duty, but this office was as good as their home away from home. “Are you okay?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she answered. She wrapped her arms around his waist and settled her head in against his shoulder.

The woman had a lot of ranting about “nosy-ass brats” to make on her way out of the office. Akiko didn’t feel too bad when she tripped and lost a high heel on her way up the two small stairs to the front door. She would have tossed it out the door after them, but that would mean letting go of Ryu and she didn’t want to do that yet. Even if they had more than enough power amongst the Kamen Riders present to take care of any remaining Dopants in this city, it was a little upsetting to find a monster in the office.

Everything was quiet for a long moment, and Shotaro finally broke it with the light tap of his empty mug being set on the table. He got up from his chair, and passed the snuggling couple. He went up the two small stairs to the rear of the office, and stood in front of the mess in the corner under the window. He planted his hands on his hips and just stared.

“Hidari--” Ryu started, but Akiko stopped him with a pat of the hand on his chest. She extricated herself from his arms and halved the distance between herself and Shotaro.

“Shotaro, are you okay?” she asked.

“Ah, dammit!” Shotaro suddenly shouted. “Does this look like I’m okay?” After all the unyielding firm support he had been offered, things had to end like this.

“Maybe we could find a replacement,” she said, finally closing the distance. If he was angry, maybe he was less upset.

“A replacement?! How are we just supposed to find a replacement?! We’ve been through this, every member of this Agency is irreplaceable!” He fluffed the back of his hair in frustration. He strode around the mess to his desk chair. He picked it up, letting whatever lay on the wheeled base fall off and onto the floor. He set it down near the bed and dropped into it heavily.

Ryu decided it was time to intervene. “Hidari, we need to clean up before further damage is done.”

Shotaro glared. He didn’t expect Terui to understand, but he at least thought he might exercise a bit more delicacy than this. “The boss left me to take care of this, okay? I’ll deal with it!”

Terui backed off. He knew Shotaro was nearly impossible to negotiate with in this state.

Silence fell over the agency once again. Wind whistled outside the window over the desk. Terui started making a new batch of coffee, improved over Shotaro’s usual. Though now was far from the time for pointing it out.

Shotaro again glared toward the mess in the corner as if that could somehow unmake it. He had only just gotten his partner back, and then this? It was only due to how soon it had come that he was merely numb, and not coming apart at the seams.

The door to the garage swung open, and Philip swept into the room. “Good news, Shotaro. The Hamilton model number 2287 desk is currently available from four different used furniture stores. One in Tokyo, one in London, and two more in the United States. The one in London is in the closest to-new shape, but I thought you might appreciate the character of the one in Tokyo.” By the time Philip had stopped at Shotaro’s side, his partner’s face was cautiously hopeful.

But then after a moment, he huffed. “But it’s not the Boss’s desk! It’s not the same! It’s like if I tried to pass off my coffee as Terui’s!”

“Shotaro, I know it means a lot to you, but if we don’t get this out of here, it’s going to burn a hole in the floor,” Akiko insisted.

Shotaro finally caved. “Fine. Fine. Let’s do this.” He started rolling up his shirt sleeves. And if they were going to talk him out of giving the Boss’s desk a viking funeral, then they didn’t know him very well.