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8

I was obviously not having a good day.

Fate seems to enjoy literally sending me corpses from the sky everyday, but honestly, that was not the reason why I was relentlessly moping around town. 

Ares, my dearest friend and beloved boyfriend, was a person who played an important role in my life. He helped me a lot, whether I was a normal girl who fussed about almost everything or the detective who forgets to spend time with him.

It was undeniable that both of us had grown more than a little distant since the previous year. Ares was left in the dark, waiting, waiting and waiting while I solved a top secret case.

Well, what can I do? It's over.

What I can use is a diversion for my thoughts.

I took a glance at my watch and decided to attend a certain heist. I was not sure whether it was distraction or comfort I sought at the moment, but I was certain that Illustrion's heists will never cease to interest me.

 

 

——•——

 

 

It felt harder to kill time on this particular day.

I watched the azure sky be kissed by golden laces and myriads of red, orange and pink until it became darker and darker as night came to visit again.

Time went on and I'd soon be meeting Illustrion.

The rituals would be the same, I'd go to the museum's rooftop and be met by the usual smirky, white-clad thief.

And that's exactly what was happening right now.

"You seem a bit distracted, dear detective." A voice was heard from behind.

"No, " I drawled as I turned around to face Illustrion, "I am just... fine."

It was then when I realized that what was supposed to be a confident answer said in a steady voice, was instead stuttered in a shaky manner.

"You can tell me, dear detective," Illustrion offered, the smirk never wavering, "I may not be an expert in comforting people, but maybe you can make do with me."

"No Illustrion, it's..." How pathetic of a person and a detective have I become to have my own nemesis worry about me. "I don't even know what to do."

"He said he was tired of waiting," The thief did not respond, I took it as a sign for me to continue, "and I feel so stupid. I had a feeling I never should have done anything, I never should have returned like this. I... It's not like anyone would care if I died that night. I just..."

What happened next was something my mind could not process immediately, I felt enveloped by warmth. Illustrion was hugging me!

"It's okay, I'm here for you." Illustrion crooned before pulling away. I could've sworn I blinked just once and the next thing I knew was that the thief already vanished.

I reached for my breast pocket only to find the recently stolen opal, a blue rose and a note.

 

——•——

 

I couldn't help but chuckle as I held the neatly-trimmed blue rose, it had reminded me deeply of the thief's cerulean eyes.

I secured and returned the opal to the police and was left with only the note in my hand. Even now, I was still baffled by it.

 

 

Dear 'dear detective',

I'll be waiting for you tomorrow at 4:30 pm at the local park in Jamestown.

—Illustrion

 

 

It was scribbled in scarcely legible handwriting, obviously written in a haste with the usual caricature next to the thief's alias. 

The letter was brief, detailed and anything but a riddle.

I frankly didn't know how Illustrion's mind works, but this is simply outrageous. Nevertheless, I still found myself sitting on one of the benches at the said park the next day, the rose still in my grasp as I eyed my surroundings.

It was an average park where trees could be located at almost every corner. Children were running around the playground, some teenagers mostly occupied either the benches or the swings, I scrutinized the adolescents to see whether or not Illustrion was one of them.

A loud cheer from kids caught my attention. Curious, I sauntered there the subtlest he could, finding a fair crowd of children seated on the grass, all attentions directed towards the good-looking, albeit messy-haired young man in front of them.

The said young man had porcelain white skin, a black coat covering most of it, with a layer of white collared shirt beneath it. He was breathtaking and he looked especially cute with the little dove perching comfortably on his shoulder.

"—now, let's move on to our last magic! I am thrilled to say that I'd be needing a volunteer for this particular one," the awfully familiar blue eyes of the handsome stranger looked around as he announced.

"You, the one holding a blue rose! Would you care to partake in being my assistant for the finale of my magic show?" the young man asked, an angelic smile gracing his lips.

I did not realize I was the one being called until his gaze fell onto the blue rose I held. I blink, wondering if I unconsciously raised my hand, because if I heard it right, what the young man had said was 'volunteer', not 'appointee'.

Still confused, I walked towards the young man who grinned at me, I attempted a smile which might have looked like the awkward one I make when I was forced to smile in front of the camera.

"It's a pleasure to have you participate in one of my magic shows," the adorable young man said, his hand held out.

I would've shaken it with my own if only the young man wasn't so fast. The blue rose Illustrion had given me last night suddenly disappeared as a shower of blue which slowly turned into red in an ombré manner.

My eyes widened; that was the first and only rose Illustrion had given me, how could he just... 

"Why did you do that?!" I screeched, face red with anger, ignoring the children's odd stares at me.

The messy-haired magician blinked at me, slightly tilting his head in confusion. I simply walked away from the scene, rebuking myself for suddenly losing my cool.

"Uh, thank you for watching yet another one of my shows, but I'm afraid I'd have to cut this one short..." The magician excused himself from the protesting children and went after me.

"Dear de- ! Aestheria! Hey, Aestheria!"

Strange. How did he know my name?

I decided to run when I sensed him getting closer. I should really consider jogging more often.

A hand caught my wrist and I was faced with the blue—wait, it wasn't precisely blue, it was Indigo, a shade I knows I've seen somewhere—eyed young man.

"Sorry about the rose, I—"

"Forget it," I myself did not know why I was so irritated. It was only a mere rose and it's even from my archenemy, I should hate it or something.

"No," the young man insisted, pulling a blue rose looking much fresher than the one I had, out of nowhere. "let me make it up with this, at least."

"It's fine," I heaved a sigh, "I-i don't really need the rose, it's just... it was from... a friend."

The magician let out a small chuckle, "Well, I'm glad you see me as a friend."

I blinked twice, then thrice, "Excuse me? What do you mean by that?"

"Let's get reacquainted, shall we?" the messy-haired male cleared his throat, "My name is Castiel, I'm an amateur magician."

"Wait, that does not answer my question, at all."

Castiel's lips ghosted a terribly familiar smirk, one that I've has seen a lot last night, "Are you sure, dear detective?"

"Illustrion?!" I exclaimed, watching his smug expression morph into a panicked one. I figured I should say something as to not arouse suspicion, "W- wow! You're such an illustrious magician!"

Castiel suppressed what almost became peals of laughter as he commented, "Smooth, dear detective, smooth... but still, thank you, I suppose."

My face was now flushed, "Shut up, I could take you to the police station right now."

"But you wouldn't," he remarked with a teasing tone, "Why? Because I'm your friend!"

I could only groan because it is true. I was here to meet Illustrion to talk about my issues, not to get him detained.

 

——•——

 

We decided to have our talk at a nearby cafe where, according to Castiel, only a very few people come. And true to his word, there were exactly just three people occupying the lot of tables.

The cafe was more decent than I had expected and I wondered how good their black coffee would be.

"What do you think?" Castiel made that (annoyingly) beautiful grin which never failed to make me red.

"It's... passable, I guess."

"That's it?" Castiel made a pout as we took one table for ours, "You'll regret ever saying that after you taste how great their coffee is."

A uniformed girl came to their service almost immediately, "Good afternoon. May I take your orders?"

"Hmm, I'd like the strongest and purest black coffee in the menu." I said, pointing out how I do not want any kind of milk or sugar in it.

"And I'd like a triple scoop of chocolate ice cream!" The magician chirped at the waitress who shook her head knowingly with a small smile as she walked towards the counter.

"Seriously," I deadpanned, tone utterly flat.

"What?" Castiel pouted again, making me wonder where the usual smirks went.

"I didn't know Illustrion was a sweet tooth."

"Well, you do now."

I couldn't help but chortle, "You're so different than what I have imagined."

"Oh yeah?" Castiel snorted, "And what kind of a person did you think I was?"

"Well, I deduced that you are still a high school student and that you're male," I paused to glare at him, "I thought you might be some kind of thug or a notorious womanizer."

Silence filled our spot, Castiel stared at me like I murdered a bucket of puppies in front of him, "...what? I'm so disappointed, dear detective. I could understand the first two parts, but... thug? Womanizer? Seriously?!"

"Okay, so I may have been kidding about thinking you're a thug, but I'm serious about the womanizer one."

Our orders finally came. Castiel smiled just like a five-year old who was given free ice cream, which would technically be true since I was kind enough to be willing to pay it for him this time.

"So, how about we talk about your issue now?" The magician licked his chocolate ice cream, "You seem to be avoiding the topic since earlier."

I took a sip of my coffee, my gaze falling onto the floor. "Well, you already know the story of my life. I recently returned to being who I really was, but he said he wants to move on. I don't even know who I really am now. Am I the worst friend ever or the most pathetic high school detective there is? I... I'm just no one."

"No," Castiel flashed a small, lopsided smile at me, "You're you... You're the one who solved countless cases for the police, the one who kept doing what is right and continued giving people justice despite your shrunken state. You're the one who took solved the biggest case ever and lastly, you're my greatest critic. You're a very amazing person, dear detective."

I stayed silent, taking a few moments before my eyes met the magician's indigo ones and decided to speak, "It's Aestheria..."

The messy-haired male raised both of his eyebrows, confused. "Hmm?"

"You called me by my name earlier at the park, right? You can keep doing it if you want."

Castiel's (devious) little grin made me reconsider things, "Aww, I knew you were a considerate person, Aesther!"

I was already starting to regret this.

What happened after this, though, was rather uneventful.

We took our time conversing about topics each never would've discussed with other people. As teenagers who have complicated lives and relatively similar problems, we were able to console and sympathize with one another.

 

——•——

 

So this was my 'dear detective'.

Huh, never thought we'd be so similar.

Now that I think about it, each of us had little crushes with childhood friends who started a relationship with someone else now. It was actually pretty silly.

Anyway, so, I already guessed that we were bound to be nemeses, and yet I couldn't help but wonder if we can't be something beyond what we were meant to be.

"Um, Aesther."

It was hard to miss the frown painted on Aestheria's face, "What is it?"

"Nah, it's just... I..."

The detective raised an eyebrow at me, as if taking note that I could also stutter like a normal person, "What?"

"Umm, actually..." my lips were pressed into a thin line, my naturally rosy cheeks were on fire and my gaze was on the ground, "I li—"

Some popular music leaked out of the speaker of the other's phone.

She picked up her ringing phone only to be greeted by her childhood friend's booming voice, "Aestheria! Are you even aware of the time? You're still my friend, I'm worried about you! What if you go and disappear again?"

"Ares, just how much annoying could you get?" I watched the detective put on an irritated face, "idiot, and where do you think I could even disappear to? I know, I know. I'll come there soon."

She ended the call with a deep sigh, looking over to me with a small smile, "I'm sorry about that. So, what were you going to say?"

I took a second to remind myself to keep a poker face at all times, "Ah, it's nothing, really. I was just going to say that I live near here."

A fake smile immediately replaced the disconcerted expression on my face.

Because in the end, it wasn't nothing, it wasn't nothing.

The detective spoke of his former boyfriend so fondly, it was my mistake to think I can actually stand a chance to have a place in her heart.

It's my fault for thinking that there was still a spark of hope left.

It was my wrong. I only had myself to blame. Why would an excellent detective be interested in someone like me, a thief?

I was so stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid—

Something incredibly soft and warm making a brief contact with my lips, broke my reverie. I wondered what it was, then noticed how Aestheria's face was all flushed.

"Umm..." The detective was red from her cheeks to her ears, "thank you for today." She said before scurrying off.

I blinked, finding myself touching my lower lip with my fingers.

So, perhaps there was a spark of hope left and I wasn't as stupid as I thought after all.

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