Author's Note: Greetings and salutations! I am Kuroneko19, but feel free to call me K-chan. ^_^ This is my first Ghost Hunt fan fic, which takes place following the anime. Contrary to what the title, the plotline has nothing to do with the film Inception, but instead has to do with the events that will take place as this story progresses. I do my best to keep everyone as in-character as possible – if anyone finds inconsistencies, please feel free to point them out.
Please remember: all questions, comments, constructive criticism, and/or suggestions are welcome and appreciated. Thank you so much for reading – enjoy!
Disclaimer: I own nothing from Ghost Hunt. I just like to write. ^_^
Case File #1: Skeletons in the Closet
If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, then you'd best teach it to dance.
– George Bernard Shaw
"You're Mr. Kazehiro Otanashi, correct?"
"That's correct," the older man answered with a nod. "I apologize for the inconvenience of having shown up without an appointment, but I just came to learn about these incidents from the men only recently and looked you up. I'm afraid my earlier phone call was the best I could do, given the circumstances."
"Oh, that's all right," the brown-haired girl said cheerfully, offering him a steaming cup of freshly brewed tea.
"Ah, thank you, dear." Mr. Otanashi gave her a grateful smile as he accepted the beverage. In the back of his mind, he couldn't help but note that it was a comfort to find such a kind and warm soul in the presence of such outwardly cold men.
In particular, he noted, the older teen sitting across from him, one leg crossed over the other with a black notebook opened across his lap. How such a young man could give off the air of the arctic winds (and wear so much black in this heat!) was a mystery, though not so much as how this very same young man was the chief executive officer of a paranormal research center.
That Mr. Otanashi had not expected. To find that Kazuya Shibuya was in fact eighteen years of age and the boss of the older gentleman named Lin Koujo (whom Otanashi had initially taken to be Mr. Shibuya on first glance) and that darling young lady came as a bit of a shock. Of course, given the recent turn of events, the balding old man supposed he couldn't be too judgmental. After all, Shibuya Psychic Research had be highly praised and recommended…
"Returning to the subject at hand," the stormy-eyed young man continued, interrupting his potential client's musings. "Would you tell me about your situation in-depth? Your description over the phone was rather vague."
"Yes, of course." He took another appreciative sip of tea before setting the cup down on the table. He peered through his spectacles to give the young man another look before taking in a breath and relaying his story.
"As you asked before, I am the Kazehiro Otanashi who phoned you an hour ago. I'm the chief executive officer of Tomei Construction Company's Meguro Branch. We're a relatively high-level company, commissioned mostly by the larger business firms looking to expand. We also specialize in high-rise tenement buildings and regular apartment complexes."
"Wasn't Tomei Construction Company in charge of that art museum reconstruction project two months ago?" the girl inquired from her position behind her employer.
Mr. Otanashi smiled at her again. "That's quite correct, Miss…" he chuckled. "I'm sorry, my dear. I'm afraid I never caught your name."
"It's Mai," she replied pleasantly. "Mai Taniyama."
"Well, Miss Taniyama, you're a very observant young lady." She beamed visibly at the compliment. "The art museum was indeed reconstructed by the Shinjuku team, with additional assistance from the Shibuya and Meguro offices."
"But that isn't the reason why you're here," Kazuya Shibuya interjected, his icy tone stifling the conversation.
"No, of course not. Forgive me." The older man gave a slight bow in apology, but did not flinch. The boy in charge of SPR was terribly business oriented, but lady office assistant (such a pretty young thing, he couldn't help but think) managed to keep the atmosphere relatively calm. The fact that she'd shot him a rather disapproving look behind his back was quite amusing. "Actually, what I wish to speak to you about concern the Meguro office's current project in the Nakameguro residential area."
The rapid typing on Lin Koujo's laptop prompted him to continue. "The Nakameguro neighborhood is a very quiet residential district, you see. It was only recently that the company acquired the site we're currently working on – about seven or eight months, in fact. The building that used to be there was an old apartment complex established in the early 1900s or thereabout. It had been abandoned for a good decade up until last year, when the Meguro city council decided to begin renovating different areas. The site was handed over to us after it was purchased by one of Tokyo's major business companies, and about five or six months ago, we leveled out the old building to begin construction."
He reached over for his cup and took another long and soothing drink. "We've put up the skeleton of the new business office complex since then, and up until three weeks ago I'd thought that things were going relatively well."
"You mentioned that the Nakameguro district is residential," Shibuya interrupted. "Why would there be a business office placed there?"
"Well, it's been classified as a business offices complex, but the layout is more of a combination of both business and residential," Mr. Otanashi explained. "The idea behind it is rather original, I'll admit: half of the building is solely dedicated business offices, banks, and various other things of that caliber. On the other half, and completely separate from other side, is a nice middle class apartment complex, which will be run by the company that commissioned us."
"Seems like an odd project," the man called Lin commented from behind his computer screen.
"The gentleman who came to us with the project was odd," Mr. Otanashi admitted with a bit of a laugh. "Mr. Ikezawa, I think it was. Shimizu Ikezawa. Ah, but I digress."
He set the teacup back on the table. "It was three weeks ago that I noticed the startling amount of accident reports that had been accumulating on my secretary's desk. I'd been on a month-long business trip in Nagano, and hadn't been available during that time. When I returned, I discovered that these accidents had been on the rise since construction began, and have been increasing in frequency.
"At first, I thought it was all the result of on-site carelessness," he admitted dejectedly. "I decided to monitor the foreman and the workers personally, and established a makeshift office for both myself and my secretary so that we could continue our work while maintaining surveillance. But even under careful scrutiny, the accidents continued. The foreman – one of our older employees, Umehito Sendo – had no explanation for everything that happened: crates would suddenly open and spill all their contents, and machinery would malfunction even after inspections. Many of our workers have suffered from what could easily be written off as work-related accidents, but there were a few that sustained injuries we just couldn't explain."
"What kind of injuries?" the youth inquired.
"Frostbite," said Mr. Otanashi, eyes hardening. "Frostbite in the middle of summer. Three of our workers suffered from it, and one of them was sent to the hospital with hypothermia. And then there was young Furukawa, who went home with strange burn markings and lacerations on his back when all he'd done was take measurements in one of the unfinished third-floor corridors. The rest, I couldn't even begin to think about. We started out with well over one-hundred-and-fifty workers, Mr. Shibuya. I'm having difficulty in maintaining a decent number and trying to call in other men. I've even had to resort to borrowing workers from the Setagaya branch, being as it's the largest in the area next to the Ota branch. The main office hasn't caught wind of the accidents yet, but it's only a matter of time before I receive a phone call. The CEO of the Setagaya offices hasn't been very pleased about lending out a portion of his workforce."
"That would be understandable," SPR's director said, nodding almost to himself. He cast his stormy gaze back up to the slightly winded man. "Is there anything else you tell about? Aside from the accidents, that is."
"Well, yes, there are a few things," he said in a considering tone as leaned back into the couch. "Aside from the unprecedented amount of submitted incident reports, we've had a problem with local animals – dogs in particular, as well as cats – and birds interrupting our construction. And several of my men reported coming across completed areas on the construction site that shouldn't have been there. Mr. Sendo and I were both a bit skeptical, but when we both went to investigate, we ourselves came across several rooms on the business side of the project that had somehow been completed as apartment rooms."
"Apartment rooms?" an elegantly shaped eyebrow raised.
"I know, I know… hard to believe, isn't it?" Mr. Otanashi chuckled wryly. "Believe me, Mr. Shibuya, I'm not the kind of man to give into the panic caused by some unexplained phenomenon. I'll openly admit that my first impression was that it had been some kind of prank, or else some of the workmen got their information and layouts messed up. Neither explanation was plausible, mind, but that was what I thought. But when this kept occurring in different parts of the complex and the rooms were showing up furnished, I began to question my own sanity."
"Furnished?" the Taniyama girl looked to be caught somewhere in confusion and horror.
"Beds and nightstands," he explained, shaking his head. "And lamps and other things as well – a typical apartment setup. And if that wasn't weird enough, it all disappears the following day and that spot is exactly as we left it: unfinished."
An uneasy silence settled in the office. The only sound aside from their breathing was the repetitive clacking of Lin's fingers against the keys of his laptop.
"How long has this been going on?"
Mr. Otanashi looked to the ceiling for a moment. "Mr. Sendo and I began investigating the strange rooms about two weeks ago. According to my secretary (and I did go back and double check with him to be certain), the incident reports began not too long after we demolished the old building and began laying the base and erecting the skeleton. What happened during my trip in Nagano, I really couldn't say."
"Have you contacted the police?"
"I have," the older man affirmed with a frown. "Unfortunately, they weren't much help. They patrolled the grounds for less than a week before concluding that it was all work-related and some of it likely induced by the current heat wave we're experiencing. They also pointed out it could be local street gangs being nuisances, but with all that's been going on, I'm not very convinced this would be the case."
The black-clothed young man only hummed in response. He looked down into his notebook as if in deep thought. The room began to slip into silence once again, and Mr. Otanashi suddenly found it to no longer be bearable. Just as he was about to open his mouth…
"We'll take your case."
Mr. Otanashi blinked incredulously. "Y-you will?"
The young man nodded. "In order for us to better survey your construction site and record any data we acquire, we'll require that one of your completed rooms with working electricity will be made available to us to use as our base of operations. Additionally, we'll need lodging."
"That seems like a fair enough deal to me," Mr. Otanashi acquiesced. "I'll see to the details immediately, and send you a fax in regards to the lodgings. There are several hotels and lodging homes in the vicinity that would be happy to accommodate you I'm certain."
"That will be fine." Kazuya Shibuya closed his notebook and rose from his seat. His client did the same, and bowed in the young man's direction.
"Thank you for accepting the case, Mr. Shibuya," he said gratefully as he straightened himself out. He stuck out a weathered hand, which was gazed at for a moment before being grasped in return.
"We'll be at your site the day after tomorrow."
"Excellent. That should give me enough time to explain things to the workers and the foreman. Again, thank you, Mr. Shibuya."
Kazehiro Otanashi bowed to the young man's two assistants, and thanked Mai for the tea, before he took his leave out into the stifling summer heat in the Shibuya district. It wasn't until the air conditioning overtook the sudden humidity the simple action had allowed to infiltrate the office that Mai finally spoke.
"Hey, Naru?" she frowned as he turned slightly in her direction. "Are you sure it'll be all right for you to take a case on a construction site? I mean, it's only been a little over a week and a half since…"
"I'll be fine, Mai," he interjected coolly, brushing past her as he returned to his office.
Mai continued to frown in his direction. Not even two weeks had gone by since Naru had been released from the hospital following the incidents at the Yoshimi residence, and she hadn't the slightest idea just how badly drained he'd been using his psychokinetic powers. Even if it had been incredible, it had most certainly been dangerous…
"Mai." She snapped herself from her worried thoughts at the sound of her boss's voice coming from beyond the now closed door of his office.
"Yes, Naru?" she called back.
'Jerk,' she thought sourly with a pout. Yeah, Naru was doing better. It would take a lot more than PK-induced exhaustion to override his seemingly programmed condescending demeanor.
At least there was a new case to look forward to, even if it was a construction site in the dead heat of summer.
Then a new realization occurred to her: Would there even be any air conditioning?
The whistle from the tea kettle startled her from the unpleasant train of thought.