The Case of the Nocturnal Marauder

A DNAngel Mystery File

Disclaimer: DNAngel never has and never will be mine…not until Dark-san does me a favour and steals it. .

My first attempt ever at a mystery fic! This thing just struck me in the middle of a train journey O.o. Inspired by P.G. Wodehouse (is he a 'Sir'?). Just the phrase "nocturnal marauder" generated this whole fic :D.

I must confess here and now before you plunge into the story that this fic has SXR under – and over - tones. (As in, SatRisa, and not SaeRisa…)


"Uwaaah! This place is really huge!"

It was Friday and the Hikari mansion had visitors.

"Dude, it's a perfect setting for a movie!"

Not so much visitors as they were guests, Hiwatari Satoshi figured as he stepped aside to let seven awestruck classmates into the house.

"Hiwatari-kun, are you really okay with this?"

"…it was really my father's idea…"

He regarded them as each stepped into the house. The first was Saehara Takeshi, ever the brash and excited one. Following him was Saga Keiji, with his servant Funabashi who was notably suffering under the weight of Keiji's luggage. Daisuke lumbered in with his and Riku's baggage, the girl beside him, attempting to wrench her own suitcase from his hands. Last, but definitely not the least, was Harada Risa herself. Her suitcase trailed behind her as she made her way into the Hikari premises.

"Ara, Satoshi-kun, so few? I thought you had more friends than this," Comission Hiwatari commented as he descended the spiral staircase to meet his guests. "Welcome to the Hikari mansion, minna-san. It's always a pleasure to accommodate friends, especially you, Niwa Daisuke-kun."

Daisuke simpered nervously as Hiwatari-san stared directly at him.

"I'm sure you will all find your stay very satisfying," he continued, straightening his tie as he walked to the front door. "Satoshi-kun will direct you to your rooms. Dinner is at seven." With that the acclaimed leader of the police force exited the house, door resounding with a thud behind him

Satoshi cleared his throat. "If you will pardon his theatrics, your rooms are this way."

oooo

Dinner, as the Commissioner had announced, came by at seven.

Arrayed on the table were several courses, accompanied by a dazzling set of silverware that was slightly lacking in shine, but magnificent all the same. The first thing Keiji did was to grab the silverware and gawk at it.

"Funabashi! This is it!" he exclaimed as he held it up against the light, pulling out his camera to shoot a few photos. "A bit shoddy, but with a bit of polishing, it will be perfect. What do you think?"

"I think you should unhand the poor plate, sir. Hiwatari Satoshi-san does not look happy with what you're doing."

"Eh…it might be a tad bit too ancient for the upcoming production, but I suppose it is ignorable under the pretext of being a rare heirloom…" Keiji muttered as he scanned through the other objects splayed across the table, picking each one up and surveying each silver masterpiece under his scrutinizing gaze.

"Sir," Funabashi started, but Keiji promptly ignored it, fingers clicking at the button of his camera.

"Sir…" Funabashi tried again.

Keiji was examining the notches in his plate. "A pity that time has gotten to it…the grooves have collected a bit of tough grime…but I suppose no one notices this sort of thing on the big screen, hm?"

"Sir, Hiwatari-san is headed this way…" Keiji was scratching his chin as he set the plate back down onto the table and picked up the cutlery.

"Sir…"

"I see you have a deep interest in my property, Saga-san."

Keiji jumped at the soft tone of Satoshi's voice. "Hiwatari-han! I was just wanting to see you about this fine silverware that you have…"

"No, you may not have it," Satoshi calmly replied even before the question was asked.

"Eh? Why?" Keiji started, surprised. "Saga Entertainment has been looking for silverware such as this for over three months now, and we haven't been able to obtain so fine a specimen, Hiwatari-han. Without it, Saga Entertainment's upcoming detective movie (Who Took My Fine Silverware?) cannot be released. The silverware is of key importance to the project, Hiwatari-han, we simply must have it."

"Two things to note, Saga-san: you have not 'obtained' my fine silverware, and it isn't a 'specimen'. Besides," he stated pointedly, "I thought you were dissatisfied with the state of the silverware."

Keiji clutched the cutlery in his hand, frustrated at Satoshi's quick refusal. "But that isn't the point, Hiwatari-han. The silverware can be sent for restoration in due course of time. It is of utmost importance to the thrust of our new movie. You must lend it to me."

"No."

Irked by the other's blatant lack of any regard for the interests of Saga Entertainment, Keiji setted the cutlery down onto the table with a fair bit of force, prepared to give any and every reason as to why he must borrow the silverware. "Hiwatari-han – " he began, but Satoshi was nowhere in sight.

"It appears Hiwatari-san will not relent so easily," Funabashi observed as he re-arranged the silverware on the table.

His remark earned a hard glare from Keiji. "You don't have to state the obvious, Funabashi.

"Yes, sir," was the placid response given. But as he straightened, he clapped the distressed heir of Saga Entertainment on the shoulder. "Not to worry, sir, we will find a way about this."

oooo

He was annoyed. Thoroughly.

Saehara frowned as he rapped upon the twin's door once again. He was supposed to have Risa over half an hour ago to discuss something, but the girl was late, and he was increasingly restless. "Harada-san! Hurry up already!"

Five minutes passed and it still was not apparent that Risa would show. He started again, yelling at the top of his voice in hope that Risa would appear at the door, ready to go to dinner, if not to discuss his important topic. He took a deep breath in preparation to start again when a cough behind him disrupted his plan. Saehara found his breath caught in his throat in a most awkward manner.

"Kindly desist from raising your voice in my house, Saehara-san," was all Satoshi had to say as he stepped up to the door of the twin's room. He was just about to knock on the door when Risa's face appeared from around the corner.

"Hiwatari-kun, Saehara-kun," she called out, catching their attention. "Ano…Hiwatari-kun, can you come over here for a second?"

Satoshi complied to her request with a curt nod, and strode over to where Risa was. Saehara, slow in his reaction, soon followed suit, ready to confront the girl, but when he arrived on site, his attention was caught by something else.

A piece of artwork, so real that he did not dare to touch it lest it responded, sat proudly upon its pedestal. It was two live-looking sparrows perched on a branch, a leaf protruding from the mouth of one. Between them sat an unfinished nest, depicting a perfect image of the two birds building a home. Saehara let out a low whistle as he ran his expert eye over this particular art piece.

"Riku and Daisuke and I were just taking a look at this, Hiwatari-kun, and I couldn't help but wonder…" Risa said, soon lapsing into a silence as her eyes roamed over the artwork once more.

"My great grandfather was a taxidermist, a skilled one of his kind, and was rather different from the other Hikari artists. He often played with the idea of bringing things back to life, but taxidermy was all he could do to restore the dead," Satoshi explained. "He wanted to construct something that would reflect the importance of building a home, or something to that effect."

"Sugoi…" Riku whispered as she reached out to touch the lifelike structure. "I wish we had something like this back at home…"

"It's really pretty, isn't it Riku-san?" Daisuke commented as he examined the fine masterpiece once more.

While Saehara stood awestruck, irritation forgotten, and the three absorbed themselves in the details and the lifelikeness of the artwork, Satoshi was growing increasingly impatient. "I'm glad that you appreciate the works of my ancestors," he said, "but we really should be heading down to dinner."

oooo

One night at the Hikari mansion was all it took for the strangest theft case ever to arise. Well, two theft cases, to be exact.

The first found its roots in the disappearance of a particular set of silverware which dated back to the eighteen century, and was without a doubt a rare Hikari treasure. To be exact, the case found its roots in Saga Keiji's seemingly innocuous outburst that ran along the lines of "that will look perfect in our new movie! Hiwatari-han, you must lend it to me" to which the later had graced with a stern "no".

The second was the case of a missing artwork, a fine masterpiece that was an arrangement of two sparrows settled upon a branch - an artwork which depicted nature, and one of Satoshi's favourites among all the artworks in the mansion.

These two occurrences were realised upon Saturday morning in the mansion, and due to such Satoshi was called to his father's office to accept the orders to run an investigation to uncover the thieving culprit. Thus, all the members of the estate were called to assemble.

"What? The silverware has gone missing?" was Keiji's first cry when he heard the news. "But who, how, why, when?"

"That's what I would like you to answer, Saga-san," Satoshi said as he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "I've checked the premises thoroughly to see if there was any possibility of a break in, and have found all the windows and doors to be locked and unscathed. The cook and the gardener came in at seven-thirty, after I had finished my investigation. They do not have the keys and are only allowed in upon request. All the other workers report at eight, and all of them including the cook and the gardener left the house by nine o'clock last night, the time at which both the silverware and the artwork were where they were supposed to be and before which all the windows and doors leading out of the house apart from those in the rooms were locked. I would hardly believe that any one of us would let a complete stranger climb in through our windows – if they could, that is. The mansion has been built in a way to render it impossible for any thieves to enter via any other means than that of flight." At this juncture, he glanced at Daisuke in a significant manner.

"It's very interesting," Satoshi went on to say, "that your movie should be called 'Who Took My Fine Silverware?' Indeed, I would like to know who took my fine silverware."

"Well, it certainly isn't me." Keiji folded his arms firmly across his chest. "At any rate, I'm just as dumbfounded as you are, and even more so upset. I did want to use that on the company's new movie."

"Which gives you a perfectly good reason to take the silverware, Saga-kun."

"No one asked you to stick your nose in, Harada-imouto," he shot back.

Risa folded her arms in the exact same manner. "I was just stating a possibility, Saga-kun. I'm not saying you did it. Besides, for all we know, Funabashi could have committed larceny for your sake without you knowing it."

"Hey, don't you bring my servant into this!"

"'Larceny' isn't used in such a way, Harada-imouto…"

"Who asked you, Saehara-kun?"

"Maa…minna…calm down for minute. There has to be a logical explanation to this," Daisuke started, eyebrows creased in a pained expression.

"Niwa-kun is right. There as to be an explanation to this," Riku agreed. "Hiwatari-kun, isn't there a lock to the silverware cupboard?"

"There ought to have been, Harada-san," Satoshi replied. "Unfortunately, the silverware was just as accessible as was the artwork."

Riku gasped at the revelation. "An artwork was stolen too?"

Even Risa was concerned. "Which one, Hiwatari-kun?"

"The one that we were looking at last night," he replied, he too folding his arms pensively. "It's such a coincidence that it happened to be that one out of all the artworks displayed in the hallways." He turned his head to look at Daisuke. "Any idea who it might have been, Niwa-kun?"

"EH? Why do you ask me, Hiwatari-kun? I'm just as flabbergasted," Daisuke replied, uneasy under Satoshi's piercing gaze.

"I was just recalling Harada-san's earlier comment about how she wished that there was a similar artwork in her household. This gives both you and Harada-san a reason for the crime, although I doubt that Harada-san would have acted so boldly. Still, there is a possibility."

"What? Are you accusing my sister of stealing your things?" Risa burst out, furious that Satoshi would even consider the idea. "Saehara-kun was there too, Hiwatari-kun! And all of us agreed that it was an admirable piece of work. Does that make me a suspect too?"

His equanimity undisturbed, Satoshi expounded on his speculations. "Certainly, it does. Although Harada-san's statement has more cause for suspicion."

"Then that would make you a suspect too, Hiwatari-kun," Saehara pointed out.

Satoshi faced him, a chiding look on his face. "Saehara-san, what you say is true. But that is hardly plausible."

"This is Hiwatari-kun's house after all, Saehara-kun," Riku assented. "It doesn't make sense for him to take his own things."

"Well, it doesn't seem to be any one of us," Daisuke said, furrowing his brow as he did so. "Even if there is a reason for each person to steal those things…" He frowned at the thought that his friends could have committed such an atrocity.

Satoshi unfolded his arms and ran an eye over the seven friends – now suspects – that were to spend two more nights in his mansion. "I don't have any proof as of yet, and I won't start rummaging through bags. But this one thing I will say: no one is to leave the premises for the rest of their stay."

"What?" Keiji ejaculated.

Saehara shook his fist. "Just because someone committed a crime the rest of us have to suffer?"

"It's merely a means to ensure that the stolen items do not leave the grounds," Satoshi rationalised. "They were taken between the hours of nine o'clock last night and seven-thirty this morning. During that period no one was witnessed to have left the house, so the artwork and the silverware must still be within the four walls of the house."

"Fair enough," Riku declared. "So no one will leave the house. Not until there is some elucidation as to whom our midnight marauder might be. Are we agreed?" She held out her hand and gestured for the rest to follow suit. Reluctantly, each of them piled their hands atop the other in consensus.

oooo

Sunday morning found a bleary-eyed Satoshi sitting upright in his bed. As he waited for the lassitude that accompanied his medical condition to ebb away, he tried to recall recent events and every single mathematical equation as well as scientific facts that ever crossed his path and ran a keen eye over his room.

After doing so, he realised that something was not quite right with the state of his room.

He repeated the action, making a mental checklist of how his room ought to be, and found his suspicion to be true. In the middle of his room, near the window, belonged an easel with a painting that was now out of the picture. He bolted out of his bed, made sure that his eyes were not deceiving him and dressed quickly. He was just about to call for a morning assembly when Risa knocked on his door. Gathering his patience, he opened the door to attend to her.

"Hiwatari-kun?" she asked, waving her hand in front of his face. "Are you quite awake yet?"

The oscillating hand, accompanied by his low-blood pressure, made Satoshi dizzy. He caught it with his right hand to stop the motion. "Don't do that."

"Sorry," she muttered apologetically. "I just thought you might need a little longer."

"It's okay. A sudden realisation happened to jolt me right out of bed this morning." He shifted a little such that she could glance into his room. "There was a painting that was there last night," he paused to point out the exact spot, "but it's missing this morning."

"Your painting was stolen?"

"Some time last night, I surmise. I'm quite sure that it was still standing there before I went to bed," he said as he stepped out of the room and closed the door behind him.

"But why would anyone want to steal your painting?" Risa asked curiously as Satoshi locked his bedroom door.

He frowned at her response. "I'm not a bad artist, you know."

Startled, she spoke quickly, "I didn't mean to imply that."

"I know," he smiled for a brief second. "But the painting was still in its early stages. There's no reason for anyone to steal an incipient work of art, it having little or no value, unless to spite."

"That's unthinkable! What would anyone have against you?"

"After yesterday's little interrogation, many of them would have reason enough to be unkind," he reasoned. "The thing which perturbs me isn't quite the issue of a stolen painting, but rather how the thief could have eluded me so easily."

"You were asleep, Hiwatari-kun. It can't be helped," Risa stated reassuringly.

Satoshi grimaced. "Even so, I should have been able to find some evidence of sorts." Like a feather or something, he thought. Dark had many a good reason to do some harm to him and commit this act of larceny. So did Keiji, who had wanted the silverware badly. And Saehara - he supposed that there were other things that Saehara wanted to steal from him apart from his painting – his title, his grades, and most notably…

"Risa?"

"Hm?"

Satoshi started down the hallway with Risa in tow; he did not want to seem overly concerned. "I understand that you agreed to meet Saehara-san to discuss some matters with him."

"Oh," she said as she quickened her pace and stepped beside him. "It was nothing."

"Honestly?"

"He's interested in some girl. Wants to get some tips on how to chase her," she shrugged. "I couldn't give a clear-cut answer. But I passed a light joke: that he might like to pick up the Maiden de Enthral."

Satoshi smiled. "You shouldn't encourage anymore cases of theft."

"That wasn't my intention, Hiwatari-kun," she pouted. "Besides, the Maiden de Enthral has been placed under lock and key. There's no way that Saehara-kun could attempt theft and emerge successful. But, honestly, such a beautiful work of art ought to be kept away from the public eye; it's far too tempting – Hiwatari-kun?"

Satoshi had halted mid-step. "Pardon, I just remembered something," he said, looking up and realising that they were directly outside Risa's room. "You had better change into habiliments suited to the breakfast hall," he reminded her, plucking at the sleeve of her pyjamas as he turned to walk away. "I'll see you at breakfast."

oooo

Monday morning was fraught with commotion. Satoshi knew it when he was summoned by a loud roar from his father. Most unhappy, he pulled on his clothes begrudgingly and found a gathering in the main hall. It appeared that the Maiden de Enthral had been unlawfully snatched from its place, and this proved to be of utmost disturbance to his father.

"Poor Hiwatari-kun," Riku muttered as she surveyed the damage done.

"Un," Daisuke agreed, bending down to further examine the glass casing, attempting to solve the mystery.

Keiji was unusually chirpy. "This trip is turning out to be rather amusing, Funabashi! It's giving me new inspirations for our upcoming movie."

"I don't think it's appropriate to make such a statement at this moment, sir."

"SATOSHI!" Commissioner Hiwatari bellowed as the boy made approached the crime scene.

Satoshi nodded in greeting, running an expert eye over the traces of cut-through glass. He also noted Saehara standing near the central object of attention and taking pictures. Apparently, the boy thought that this would make an excellent news-report.

"Satoshi," the Commissioner started impatiently, "I know that there've been a couple of things missing – the silverware, an artwork and your unfinished artwork – and that you've been extremely polite to our guests, but the last straw has been drawn here at the theft of Maiden de Enthral. I want you"- he stuck a finger at Satoshi - "to seize their luggage" - he pointed the finger at them - "and execute a thorough search of their possessions."

"I don't think that's necessary, fa-"

"The Maiden de Enthral is not just a Hikari artwork, Satoshi. It's an heirloom that has been passed down from generation to generation of women in the family. It's as good as a betrothal gift, do you understand? No one steals the Maiden de Enthral. Fortunately for the thieving kleptomaniac, the magic on Maiden de Enthral was removed in the previous generation, if not we would have found our crook lying dead this morning."

"I'm sure we don't need to go through the hassle of –"

"EHH?" He turned to stare at Saehara. The boy seemed to have discovered something.

"WHERE'S HARADA-IMOUTO?"

It took a moment before the reality of Risa being absent struck the crowd. Before anything was said, each member had automatically started up the stairs in search of Risa. When they found her, she was in her room, studying a glinting work of glass balanced on her open palm. It was an ornament, to be exact, one that was fashioned to be pinned to the hair in adornment.

"The Maiden de Enthral!" was the first exclamation that burst forth from the crowd. This was Riku's observation.

"Risa took it?" was the second exclamation that proceeded. This was Daisuke's speculation.

"I KNEW IT WAS HER!" was the last and loudest exclamation. This was Saehara's conclusion.

In a swift move, Funabashi apprehended their supposed thief. Shocked, Risa nearly dropped the artwork. Funabashi made a second heroic dive and saved the Maiden de Enthral.

It was with bewilderment that Risa stuttered out a "w-what are you d-doing here?"

"Quite the opposite, Harada-imouto - or should I say thieving culprit?" Keiji strolled into the room, officiously. "What are you doing here with the Maiden de Enthral which has been found missing from its case, hm?"

Risa's eyes widened. "Me? But I didn't take it! It was on my bed this morning." She pointed to the brown packaging at the foot of her bed.

Keiji gave a short laugh. "Nice try, Harada-imouto, but –"

"Shut up, Saga-san," Satoshi interjected as he strode into the room, scowling at both Funabashi and master. "And I would appreciate very much if you do not touch her, Funabashi-san, and return me the Maiden de Enthral."

"What's the meaning of all this, Satoshi?" the Commissioner demanded as Risa was unhanded, and the ornament returned to Satoshi.

Satoshi paid him no heed at first, scrutinising the Maiden de Enthral and ensuring that there was no harm done to it. "It's quite simple, father," he said as he prodded Risa's wrist and made sure she was all right. "I took the Maiden de Enthral in the middle of the night."

"The glass was cut. Don't you have the key?"

Satoshi shrugged. "I lost it."

"But Hiwatari-kun, why did you take the Maiden de Enthral?" Riku's voice sounded up from dumbstruck crowd.

"Need you ask?" came his response as he helped position the Maiden de Enthral atop Risa's head. "I was just restoring Maiden de Enthral to its place."

"WHAT?"

"Hiwatari-kun," Riku started, interrupting Commissioner Hiwatari, "what about the artwork on the sparrows?"

"I took that too," he confessed. "It was a model for my painting."

"EH? But you said that you didn't take it!" Saehara cried out in disbelief.

"I said that it was 'hardly plausible' that I would take it, Saehara-san," he stated flatly. "Anyways, I've finished my painting, so if you were observant this morning, you would have found it back on its pedestal."

"Wasn't your painting stolen, Hiwatari-kun," Daisuke asked, noting a certain inconsistency.

"Oh," Satoshi said. "I forgot that I had moved it to another room in order to get a bit of privacy while painting."

They were flabbergasted.

Satoshi was just about to leave the room with Risa when Funabashi had to sate his curiosity. "What about the silverware?"

"I nearly forgot," he admitted, pausing a minute to address Keiji. "You will find a set of fully restored silverware at the silversmith's, Saga-san. Please collect it by this evening and return it to me before your movie is released."

They stood amazed.

Risa did not understand any of this.

"Hiwatari-kun?" she asked, trilling on 'kun'. "If you knew the truth behind all these occurrences, why didn't you say so earlier?"

At this, the ends of Satoshi's lips lifted.

"Because," he said as he started out of the room. "It's fun."

owari


YOSH! Finally done! This was completed in less than fifteen hours, inclusive of break time, meal time and what-have-you. :D. My first mystery fic :D It was great fun writing it. Coupla notes:

a) Funabashi and Keiji: It was really O.o to speckle Funabashi's speech with 'sir's – this was truly under the influence of P.G. Wodehouse and Jeeves. I'm not even sure if he calls Keiji that, but I figured that 'sir' beats 'Keiji-sama' any time of the day. If you would like to take this issue up with me, feel free to review.

b) Sparrows artwork: The thing about nest building is really made up. I researched a bit and found that it might be more common for them to steal a swallow's nest (very in sync with the story)…so that makes it the importance of home-renovations? On another note, it is apparent that more common nests of sparrows are built in the eaves of houses, or in the hollow of tree trunks, both of which I thought were just too – for lack of a better word – odd to be crafted into solid artworks that rest upon pedestals. The picture that formed in my mind when I played with the idea was just wrong.

c) SXR: I know I promised SatRisa, but somehow a bit of SaeRisa came out. GOMENNASAI! I'm not even sure if I got Satoshi in the right light all the way through the fic. It kinda of died at the last bit, when I was trying for SatRisa and at the same time trying to keep Satoshi in character as he explained the situation in its entirety. I do like how Risa is so oblivious to things though.

d) Commissioner Hiwatari: Thanks to trapt-t for correcting me on this note. :D Now I can write my fics with four less letters every time I include Satoshi's dad.

e) Maiden de Enthral: Completely made-up, of course. I imagined it to be a fine masterpiece of a hair-stick. I know it was breezed past, but this was supposed to be a SatRisa bit…pity Risa was not informed on the significance of Maiden de Enthral.

f) 'Larceny': This is such a silly point to note, but I'll confess that I haven't the faintest idea of how the word is used. I try to exercise the usage of newly acquired vocabulary in my writing, but that doesn't mean that I'm spot-on all the time. :S please feel free to correct me.

g) At this point I would also like to note that 'ejaculated' was not misused. My sister pointed out that it might create unnecessary misunderstanding because there are two meanings to this word.

h) Correct me grammatically or typographically because my eyes are currently dying after long hours of staring at the screen. I appreciate it. Please also notify me if there are loopholes in the story... I'm not a very organised writer.

Story completed: 5 March 2005
©Copyrighted by JadOo Enterprises 2005