Disclaimer: I don't own DCMK
Pairing: Mild KaiShin [KaitoxShinichi]
Summary: Shinichi feels like there's someone else living in his house. It's either that or he's gone crazy.
"I think I'm going crazy."
Mouri Ran stared at the boy sitting across the café table from her. That was certainly not something she had ever expected to hear from Kudo Shinichi. Sure, her childhood friend had gotten a bit…odd since he'd returned from his two year absence which he still wouldn't tell anyone about. He had become much quieter, and he'd become a little, well, paranoid was the only word Ran could think of to describe it. So maybe this wasn't entirely out of the blue after all, but still… This was a little extreme.
"What do you mean?" she asked cautiously.
"I…" He hesitated. Blue eyes flickered to the surrounding tables, scanning the faces of all the occupants before returning to Ran. "I feel like there's someone else in my house."
Ran stiffened, alarmed. "Someone broke into your house? Have you reported it to the police?"
"Well…" Shinichi shifted uncomfortably in his seat. His hands tightened around the cup of coffee before him. "I'm not really sure."
And now Ran was really confused. If there was one thing that she knew that Shinichi knew inside out, it was how to solve a crime. Last she'd checked, breaking and entering was definitely a crime. And this was his own house they were talking about. How could Shinichi possibly not be sure if someone had broken in? It just didn't make any sense.
"So…is anything missing?" Ran asked.
"It's not like that. I feel like there's someone else in the house—as in, you know, living there."
Ran felt a cold shiver run up her spine. Oh no. This was starting to sound like a ghost story. She abhorred ghost stories. At this point, what she really wanted to do was change the subject, but… If Shinichi had come to her for help then it had to be seriously bothering him. And looking at him more closely, she could see that things had to be bad.
When Shinichi had first returned, he'd been pale and far too thin. He had told Ran in rather vague terms that he had been experiencing some physical complications. What that meant, he hadn't said. In the weeks since then, however, his condition had improved. Now though, he looked almost like he had then. His face was pale, and there were prominent dark circles under his eyes. It was clear he hadn't been sleeping well, and Ran had a suspicion that he wasn't eating properly either.
Ran's inner mother hen stirred. Ghost or no ghost, she decided, she was going to help her friend get to the bottom of this!
"Why don't you tell me what's been happening?"
Shinichi took a long drink from his coffee before answering.
"It started about a week ago. There were eggs in my refrigerator."
"It was a new carton. I'd just used up the last egg the previous day. I hadn't gone to the grocery store yet."
"So you're saying someone else bought you a new carton of eggs and put them in your refrigerator without telling you."
Shinichi nodded. "Unless that was you?"
He sounded hopeful, and Ran was almost sorry to have to shake her head. "It wasn't me. But are you sure you didn't just forget that you had more eggs? Or maybe you forgot that you bought them. No offense, but you can be a little absentminded when you have cases. And you were helping the police on that armed robbery case last week, weren't you?"
"It's not that that's impossible," Shinichi admitted. "But it wasn't just eggs. There was also a fresh loaf of bread on the counter and a pack of chocolate chip cookies in the cupboard. And a carton of milk."
"And you don't remember buying any of it?"
"I guess that is a little strange. But like I said, you were pretty preoccupied last week."
"That's not all."
Ran listened in mounting confusion as Shinichi proceeded to list all his observations—like how the milk he hadn't bought and hadn't drunk had been gradually decreasing in quantity until, just yesterday, it had been replaced with a new carton. The detective produced a series of photographs that documented the change. The same thing had happened with the chocolate chip cookies and the bread and a variety of other food items that mysteriously came and went about his kitchen. Shinichi had brought several of the items over to Professor Agasa's and had them tested for poison. None was found.
"Then, three days ago, one of the light bulbs in my library burned out. I was going to replace it the following day. But, the next morning, it was already fixed."
"Maybe it wasn't actually burned out…?"
"And I'm sure someone's been reading my books."
"What makes you say that?"
"They feel like they've been read."
"…" Ran honestly had no idea what to say to that. If Shinichi didn't look so honestly worried, she might have been inclined to laugh at the fact that he'd said something so illogical. "Shinichi, I think maybe you're just tired. You don't look like you've been sleeping."
Shinichi made a noncommittal noise in his throat and went back to sipping at his coffee. It was clear he wasn't buying it.
"Look at it this way," Ran tried again. "What reason would anyone have for breaking into your house to change your light bulbs and stock your pantry?"
Shinichi had to admit that he didn't know.
"If it still bothers you, we could go search your house together," the girl offered. She really didn't want to accidentally find out that it really was a ghost. But hey, if it was a ghost, at least it was a helpful one.
They didn't find anything.
Not that Shinichi had expected them to. He had, after all, already searched the house himself. But a second opinion on a knotty problem was always welcome.
Pity he still didn't have any answers.
That night, there was a whole chocolate cake in his fridge.
The following morning, Shinichi asked the police for a fingerprinting kit. He spent the rest of the day dusting his house for fingerprints. Fortunately, it was summer vacation, so he had plenty of time.
The only fingerprints he found were his own (and a scattering from Ran, Haibara, and Professor Agasa. There weren't any from his parents because they hadn't been home since the last time he'd cleaned the place).
When he was done, he opened his fridge and found that a quarter of the cake was gone.
Shinichi didn't eat anything that night. Instead, he downed a pot of coffee and surfed the web until he found a place selling decent security cameras at reasonable prices. He placed a rush order. Then he buried himself in mystery novels until he fell asleep on the armchair in the library.
He woke up to find a blanket over him. A blanket that he was sure had been stowed in one of the closets on the other side of the house.
"What have I told you about eating a balanced diet?" Haibara Ai demanded, glaring at the teenager sitting at Professor Agasa's dining table.
Shinichi did his best not to cower. "I know. I just…" He stopped when the little scientist held up a hand.
"If you feel like you can't trust the food in your own house, you can get takeout. Or you can come here," she added as an afterthought. "Although I would also like to remind you that we have tested all the food you brought over, and I can assure you that it's all edible. So really, you're wasting perfectly good food."
"No I'm not," Shinichi muttered. "Because someone's eating it."
Haibara only looked at him quizzically. "You're still going on about that?"
"I have evidence."
"You mean all those photos."
Shinichi thought of his rapidly growing collection of snapshots centered around the contents of his kitchen. There was just no way that he was somehow forgetting about buying all of it, let alone eating all of it. If he had been doing so, Haibara wouldn't be scolding him now for not feeding himself properly.
"Are you sure you haven't seen anyone entering or leaving my house?" he asked again. He could tell the girl was getting tired of the question, but he couldn't help but ask it anyway.
Ai rolled her eyes. "Yes, I'm sure I haven't seen anyone. And no, I haven't noticed any suspicious activity through the windows or heard any strange noises when I pass by. I guess your houseguest must be invisible."
The detective did his best to muster up a glower despite the exhausted buzzing in his head. "I am not making this up."
"I'm not saying you made it up," Haibara replied. "I just don't understand what you're thinking. Do you really believe some criminal is breaking into your house to give you food and put blankets on you when you fall asleep? Because that just sounds like lunacy."
"So you think I'm losing my mind."
Ai shrugged. "You said it, not me."
And that, Shinichi thought, was about as unhelpful an answer as she could possibly have given.
He had spilled some coffee in the hallway. He'd just poured himself a cup of it and was taking it to the library when he thought he heard a noise behind him. He had spun around immediately, but the hallway behind him had been empty. His abrupt movement had, however, caused him to spill almost half his precious mug of coffee. Some of it ended up on the floor, but most of it ended up on his clothes.
With a sigh, he went to change his clothes and get a towel to clean up the spill. When he got back, the spill was already gone.
He stood in the hallway over the clean patch of floor for several minutes before he walked straight to the kitchen to brew another batch of coffee. This time, he took the entire pot with him to the library.
Every day, there were new signs of the mysterious, invisible houseguest. And Shinichi was seriously starting to wonder if he should sign himself up for a psychiatric evaluation because he felt like he was going crazy.
He wasn't eating well, he knew. He didn't dare eat most of the food in his house. He didn't know which ones hadn't been tampered with yet. So, while home, he mostly drank coffee. He now kept his coffee beans in a cabinet in his bedroom with a lock on it.
He couldn't sleep either. He lay awake on most nights, staring at the ceiling and straining his ears to hear the invisible houseguest going about their business in the kitchen. Except, of course, that there never was anything to hear.
Except today. Today, he could hear water flowing. It sounded like someone was taking a shower. Was that humming mixed in with the sound of the spray?
Rolling out of bed, Shinichi crept to the nearest bathroom and tried the door. It was not locked. There was no light seeping out around the door either. And, when he peeked inside, the bathroom was empty.
He went on to check every bathroom in the entire Kudo Manor. By the time he was done, he had discovered that all the bathrooms were dark and open, and none of them had wet showers or tubs. The mirrors weren't even misted over.
He checked them all again just to be sure. There wasn't even a wet tile or missing towel anywhere.
The security cameras arrive the next morning.
Shinichi installed them all around the house. He paid special attention to the kitchen and dining areas as the invisible houseguest was obviously very active in those places. He linked all the cameras to his laptop upstairs, and he started spending unwholesome amounts of time scrolling from one room to the next. Searching.
The cameras never picked up anything suspicious. They did, however, turn off at random intervals for no apparent reason. Thinking they were faulty, Shinichi took them to the store where they, of course, worked perfectly. He brought them back and put them up again, and he began to wonder if maybe Ran's theory about ghosts wasn't so farfetched after all.
If he wasn't going crazy, and it wasn't a ghost, then the culprit was extremely skilled. And if the culprit was that skilled then all the clues and obvious disturbances were being left on purpose. And that was even more confusing. What purpose could the culprit possibly have? It didn't make any sense! Unless the person's goal was to drive him crazy. If that was the case then he was succeeding.
It was two past midnight, and Shinichi was awake because, frankly, he's been awake more nights than he's slept lately. Tonight, however, he was so awake yet so absolutely, torturously tired that he had dragged himself out of bed and down the hall to the library with a jumbled, desperate idea that reading a book might distract his thoughts long enough to allow him to escape to dreamland. He felt like a sleepwalker except that he was pretty sure he was awake.
Once he reached the library, he took his favorite Sherlock Holmes novel off the shelf, sat down on the armchair, and started to read. Though he was reading from memory and not the book because his eyes were having trouble focusing.
It was after half an hour of this mind-numbing battle between insomnia, exhaustion, and narrative draw that he heard the scream.
Even in his abysmal state, Shinichi recognized a scream of terror for what it was. And the worst part was that the scream was coming from somewhere inside his house.
Again. Just like the sound of showering and the laughing and the self-devouring food. It was either in his head or not, at this point he didn't care.
Grabbing a soccer ball he kept in the library (because juggling a soccer ball helped him think), he stormed out of the library—and stopped.
There was a man in his hallway. The man was hanging upside down by one foot with his arms bound by his sides and his other leg waving like a signal from a desperately drowning man. The intruder had probably come dressed in black, but most of that outfit was now a bright, neon orange. On the floor beneath the man was a gun.
Shinichi's tired brain was still processing the strange sight when he heard another cry from further down the hall. Grip tightening around his soccer ball, he skirted around the dangling intruder and ran towards the new noise. He found the next intruder at the top of the stairs. The man was plastered to the wall across from the top step by a mass of something white and sticky that was rapidly hardening. The only bits of the man visible around the gunk was the tips of his fingers, one booted foot, and half of a ski mask-covered face. The man's eyes were closed. He appeared to be unconscious.
"There's one downstairs, and two more in the yard," an incongruously cheerful voice said.
Shinichi whirled around, forgetting that he was standing at the top of the stairs. His foot slipped. Blue eyes opened wide. He caught a fleeting glimpse of a man clad in white before he was falling. His soccer ball flew out of his arms. His eyes closed on reflex.
Somewhere in the distance, Shinichi thought he heard an alarmed shout, but he had other things on his mind—like the rush of wind and the impending collision with the ground.
It didn't come.
Instead, a pair of strong arms wrapped around him, and the world jolted, shifted, lurched, then stilled.
"Tantei-kun! Are you all right?"
Blue eyes blinked open. Shinichi found himself looking up at a face he knew insofar as you could know a face that was always half in shadow and shielded by a gleaming monocle.
"KID?" he squeaked, not having quite gotten his breath back yet.
"What are you doing here?"
The thief cocked an eyebrow at him. "Saving your life. Wasn't it obvious?"
"But—how did you know?"
The thief affected an air of puzzlement. "Well I have been living here for two weeks. It's only natural to notice armed men sneaking in."
The way he said it made it sound very sensible indeed. And, because of that, it took Shinichi a split second longer than it should have to notice exactly what it was the thief had just admitted. When he did notice, he went white.
"It was you?!" he exclaimed, leveling a finger at the thief's face. This wasn't easy because he was currently sitting on said thief's lap with said thief's arms wrapped loosely around his waist (he had yet to take note of this because he had a much more important issue on his mind right now). He ended up accidentally jabbing the thief in the nose. He pulled his finger back quickly, but he kept his glare level. "Why?!"
KID regarded him with an expression that clearly said he didn't know what all the fuss was about. "I was just looking out for you."
"By scaring me half to death?!"
Now the thief put on a hurt expression that Shinichi didn't believe for a second. "I assure you, that was not my intention. I heard through some of my contacts that there were, ah, unsavory leftovers from a certain organization in the area looking for revenge on a certain detective. I wasn't about to sit around and let them hurt my favorite detective." Here, he offered Shinichi one of his best disarming, 'I'm just a good citizen' smiles.
"And why did that involve inviting yourself to live in my house?"
"Well~, it was just easier. Besides, I did help out around the place, so it's not like I was just mooching."
"Helping out…" Shinichi repeated dully. So that was what KID called it, was it? Shinichi was not particularly impressed, but he did calm down a little. "You could have dropped a warning to the police instead."
KID had the audacity to look amused. "Do you really think they would have taken a warning from a wanted criminal seriously?"
Shinichi supposed the thief had a point. Kaitou KID might be known as a non-violent criminal, but he was also known as a prankster who wasn't above using underhanded tricks to get what he wanted. A tip from KID would no doubt be investigated thoroughly with great suspicion before it was acted upon, and by then it might have been too late.
"You could have warned me then," he pointed out. "I would have listened."
Was it just him, or did KID's smile look more genuine now?
"I'm glad to hear it," the thief said, tone light. "But I saw no reason to stress you out unnecessarily."
Shinichi's glare returned. "Oh yes, it's not stressful at all to find signs of an uninvited guest living in your house. Do you have any idea how much sleep I lost because of you?"
KID looked mildly abashed. "I did notice you weren't resting well. I thought it was because you'd heard the same news I had."
"…Well, it wasn't."
"I truly am sorry about that." The thief sounded so sincerely apologetic that Shinichi found himself believing him. "Let me make it up to you."
Feeling suddenly wary, Shinichi coughed lightly. "That really isn't necessary. I mean, you did catch the…" His gaze flickered back up to the top of the stairs. "Other intruders. So thank you."
KID changed tact with the ease of a practiced con artist. "Allow me to thank you for your hospitality then."
"You can thank me for that by cleaning up after yourself," the detective replied, tone dry. "I'd rather not have suspicious substances stuck to my walls longer than absolutely necessary."
The thief waved a hand dismissively. "That goes without saying." The waving hand changed direction, producing a red rose with a flourish and presenting it to Shinichi. "At least let me take you out to dinner."
Shinichi blinked at the rose then at the smiling thief behind it. He felt like he'd somehow missed part of the conversation. And now that the world made sense again (as much as it could make sense when Kaitou KID was involved), all those sleepless nights were piling onto Shinichi with a vengeance. They were not helping his thinking process. "Huh?"
"After you get some sleep," the thief amended, a hint of concern creeping into his one visible eye.
Shinichi's memories of what happened after that were blurred. He had vague recollections of being carried somewhere. It was followed by the familiar warmth of his bed. At that point, the exhaustion finally won out, and he sank with relief into the arms of sleep.
A certain thief stood by his bedside for a moment longer, a soft smile replacing his customary smug smirk. He brushed Shinichi's bangs gently out of his face with one gloved hand then leaned down to place a chaste kiss on the slumbering detective's cheek.
When Shinichi woke the following morning, it was to find a red rose in a glass vase sitting on the corner of his desk. Next to it sat a card.
"I took the liberty of calling the police for you to pick up our unsavory guests," he read. "And don't worry. I've cleaned up all my things. I am sorry to say that I have to return to my own lodgings for now, but I haven't forgotten about our date. I'll pick you up at six."
Shinichi lowered the card slowly and stared at the rose. So he was apparently going to be going on a date with Kaitou KID.
A blush crept up into his face.
He was still rather confused about how everything had gotten to this point. But, well, it could have been worse.
A.N: This was a little idea that popped into my head a while ago. I rediscovered it recently while sorting through my story notes and the rest of it just sort of flowed out. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. :)