Hey everybody. This ain't the best of chapters but I'm kinda just using it as a springboard for future events. As usual, let us thank FortunesRevolver for BETAing and also for allowing me to use the name of Misanori for Naoto's grandpa(I forgot to mention that last time).
I've been having raving thoughts in my head for the past week with ideas for one story I've been recently cooking up and one that I thought of a year ago but never got around to starting. One of them will be in the 'Cartoon' section and one will be in the 'Anime/Manga' section of the site. Even I've been thinking that these ideas are really good and I'm just itching to write them, but I don't want to do what I did last time, which was to start too many stories at once, because I would end up never updating any of them. So I'm gonna try to finish this story first before starting on one of the other two. Keep your eyes peeled for them in the future!
Let's get on with it.
Kanji said, baffled at the lobby of the Shirogane mansion. When the Investigation Squad arrived at the bus stop that was nearest to Naoto's house they were surprised to find a black SUV and a driver waiting for them. Apparently, Naoto had sent him to pick her friends up once they arrived at the bus stop and bring them back to the estate. That in itself was already enough to garner impressed looks, but upon coming to the grand gate that was adorned with the Shirogane crest, they began to become anxious.
The driver reached out of his window in order to swipe a pass through the security box. Once that was done the gates swung open with a complimenting screech. Looking out the windows they gazed in awe at what they beheld. The estate was located relatively high up on the summit of a hill located near Yasogami. From the main building, one could guess that there must be a spectacular view of Inaba along with the surrounding countryside. The grounds of the Shirogane estate weren't particularly showy, but they exuded a sense of class and nobility. The estate had to encompass the relative vicinity of the surrounding 1200 acres. The grass was very fine and had a very deep and pleasant hue of green. The grounds consisted of many different types of trees arranged tastefully where one seemed to be needed. There were sweet chestnuts, sakura, maples, spruce and oak trees. The surrounding forest seemed to be made up of mostly pine along with redwood.
The apex of the driveway placed them right in front of the mansion itself. The driver hurried out of his seat in an attempt to get the doors for the teens but they were all already clambering out by the time he put his foot on the ground. They admired the house which seemed to be made in a type of Victorian style while not being to overt about it. The design of the house was elegant but sturdy. The windows that adorned the face of the building reached up to about 15 feet, the second level windows were shorter at about 7 feet. Even so, they were tinted so that it was impossible to see inside. The stairs leading up to the grand double mahogany door were made of granite.
The Investigation Squad were simply baffled, even Rise who had seen a fair number of mansions and estates. The beauty of the place while at the same time contrasted by its enigmatic subtlety gave off a very strange yet pleasant vibe. What made it even more pleasant was the knowledge they had that one of their friends actually lived here. The driver had left to drive the car over towards the garage, leaving the seven teens there in their awe.
About a full minute passed by in this state until someone finally spoke up.
"Yeah, it's big." Yosuke said, stating the obvious of course.
"It sure is." Yukiko replied still not taking her eyes from the building in front of her. Almost as if it might disappear if she looked away.
"I've seen some pretty nice houses in my day, but this one takes it all to a whole new level." the teen idol spoke.
"Such a big house... for such a small girl." Teddie said while spreading his arms respectively for the measurements he was describing, all the while never taking his eyes off the house.
"Should... should we, you know, go and knock on the door?" Chie asked who, like everyone else, was staring at the house.
"Yeah, let's go." Souji said, tearing his eyes from the edefice as he began up the stairs to the door and the others followed soon after.
At the door, Souji was having a little bit of a problem. A silly one at that, but a problem none the less. This was the first time he had ever been to a house of this magnitude and class. He didn't know whether to ring the doorbell, use the knocker or simply knock on the door himself. Knocking on the door and using the bell seemed too informal for requesting entrance to a house like this yet using the knocker seemd like it would possibly scratch or put a dent in the door which seemed almost like it would cost as much as a car. He stood there for a good fifteen or twenty seconds looking back and forth between the door and the bell, wondering what to do. Finally Yosuke pushed on his shoulder saying "Would you do something already?"
"Okay, alright." Souji said, finally deciding to use the knocker, which strangely seemed to be in the shape of Yamato Takeru's head. He gave the door a good three raps before backing off. Within seconds a man wearing shades, who Souji recognized as Yakushiji, came to the door.
"Ah, hello! Welcome, we have been expecting you. Please, please come in." he said standing to the side and ushering them in. If they had been flabbergasted at the exterior of the house, the inside caused them to become stupefied. The floor was polished marble which gave off an underbearing sheen. Upon entering the building, one would see the dual, polar staircases that led up to the second floor. Between them was a statue, also made of marble, that depicted detection's greatest son: Sherlock Holmes. The effigy had Holmes sitting upon the plinth with his left leg crossed over the right. He wears neither his coat nor his signature deerstalker's cap. He rests his arm on his crossed leg while holding his calabash pipe to his mouth. On the plinth is a plaque that reads his famous words;
"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
A neo-classical chandelier hung from the ceiling, which must have been at least twenty feet high. On opposite sides of the lobby were doorless entrances that led off into other rooms as well as on the left side of the right staircase and the right side of the left staircase, however these both had doors.
It was almost as if they were right back where they started outside, with the bug eyes and the drooping mouths.
Yakushiji started up the stairs as he turned around and said, "Naoto-sama is most likely in the study. Please wait here while I go get her for you." And with that he had ascended the stairs and headed down the hall. Several moments passed once again in stupefied silence while they all took in the room they were in. However, there was only so much in this one room to admire that, after another thirty seconds or so of gaping, they were able to get a hold of themselves.
"Okay, so I'm guessing Naoto and her family are like, filthy-stinking rich?" Yosuke asked, though his tone suggested it was a rhetorical question.
"Well, you think they would have a fair bit of money. I mean, Naoto-kun's grandpa is a nation-wide famous detective. But I never would have thought that you could get this kind of money from doing detective work." Chie answered.
"Yeah, I thought that freelance detectives were kind of an outdated workforce. With the police force, they aren't really needed as much anymore." Yukiko said.
"Well, Naoto's grandfather has been in the business for a while. He was probably working way back when when consultation with PI's was still a norm. He's probably solved hundreds of cases. That kind of success, spanning over a long career, would probably build up an impressive bank account." Souji said as he read the Holmes quote on the plaque.
"This is so awesome! I want to come Nao-chan's house everyday! I can't believe she has a house like this and never told us! She shouldn't be so stingy! She should have told us sooner! She should have..." Teddie continued to babble on as he ran around the lobby trying to take in everything at once. All of a sudden, he stopped, looked up and seemed to become entranced by the chandelier. Then, he laid down on the ground directly below...and just stared at it. Everybody sweatdropped at this, but no one was willing to ask the blond what he was doing.
Kanji spoke up, "If this is just the front room, I'm kinda eager ta see what the rest of the house looks like. It's exciting, ya know? Having a rich friend and only suddenly finding out they're rich."
"Hey, I'm rich too you know..." Rise sighed, then grumbled, "Just because I don't have a big house and whatnot."
"Yeah, but we already knew you were an idol before we even met you. It's... different, ya know?" Kanji said back to the idol who gave a little 'hmph'.
"Well, I hope Naoto shows up soon. I want to be able to show Chie how wrong she is about this whole Jet Li/Jackie Chan thing." Yosuke said nonchalantly.
"I don't think so, mister! You'll see, once we get those movies rolling you'll have to submit to the fact that you know absolutely nothing about kung fu movies!" Chie roared back at Yosuke.
"We'll see. Hey, what do you say we make it a little more interesting?" Yosuke asked.
"More interesting how?" Chie inquired.
"Ooh, ooh! I know! How about whoever loses has to take the winner on an all-expence-paid date!" Rise squealed while bouncing on the balls of her feet.
"WHAT!?" Chie and Yosuke exclaimed at the idol. "WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD I WANT TO GO OUT WITH HER/HIM!?" they asked pointing towards one another.
"Hey, that sounds like a great idea!" Yukiko said enthusiastically.
"NO WAY!" the two brunettes continued to shout in unison.
"Oh, come on! Think about it: You both think you're right and if you can prove it to the other one, you'll be able to have them take you and buy you whatever you want!" Rise said trying to explain the pros of her plan. "Think about it Chie-senpai. You could have him buy you all the steak you could eat. Even filet mignon!"
This got Chie thinking, and drooling a little. "You know, it's not such a bad idea." she reasoned.
"Oh no! Nuh uh! Not gonna happen! There's no way I'm gonna be paying for a filet steak dinner for you!" he stated adamantly.
"Why, what's wrong Yosuke? Afraid I'm right?" Chie asked smugly.
"No of course not, because you're not!" Yosuke defended himself.
"So then what's the big deal? I'll take the bet if you will." she said with finality in her voice as she put her hand out to him.
Yosuke looked at it with apprehension and then looked around the room, looking for anybody to help him out of this situation that he had mistakingly gotten himself into. Seeing no lifeline in anyone and with his pride on the line, he grudgingly shook Chie's hand, sealing the deal.
"Alright then. I'll be looking forward to that filet." Chie said.
"Don't count on it. Wait and see, by the time this is all over, I'll have come up with something even worse and more expensive than filet for you to buy me." Yosuke threatened as he took his hand from Chie's. Souji chuckled softly to himself, though it did not go unnoticed by Yosuke who sent him a dirtly look.
At that moment, they heard a voice from atop the stairs.
"Hello everyone. I'm sorry to have kept you waiting. I hope you haven't been wai..." Naoto stopped talking once she saw what each of her friends were holding. "...Why are you all carrying bags?"
Each of her friends, aside from Teddie, looked at their bags and then back at Naoto with slight looks of confusion.
"They're for our clothes and whatnot, silly! Why else would we be carrying them?" Rise explained.
Naoto looked at the idol with a degree of shock on her face "You mean...you all are going to be spending the night?" she asked looking around at all her friends with a hint of trepidation in her voice. As her eyes swept over the crowd they suddenly came to rest on Souji. Seeing him with his bag slung over his shoulder as well suddenly caused the detective's face to glow a faint shade of red.
Chie spoke up "Well Naoto-kun, we felt that we would need to watch various amounts of Jet Li and Jackie Chan movies in order to really tell which one is better than the other. That would obviously take a while, so we brought our stuff over to tie us over for the night. We figured you would have thought of that."
Naoto, usually not one to let others see what was happening beneath the veil of her outer self, had a fairly shellshocked expression upon her face "O-oh...yes of-of course. That's...that's a reasonable and natural assumption. Yes, that makes sense. It would take quite some time to be able to comparatively watch movies with the intent of discerning whether the stars of said movies are better than the other." Taking a slight pause, she continued "Please excuse me for a moment."
Naoto then turned back around and climbed up the stairs. After she had gone, Chie addressed the rest of the group "You think maybe we should have called to see if it was alright to spend the night?"
"Well maybe. But come on, did you see her? She's totally fine with it!" Yosuke assured.
Naoto was making her way back to the study where she had left Misanori. Though her countenance suggested other wise, inside her thoughts were storming frantic. She had never entertained guests before, let alone for a whole night!