"And now I just need the ice-cream," Alfred said, smiling and trying not to drop his shopping as he reached for the frozen desserts. "Kiku said he liked ice-cream too... Wait, can he even eat this stuff?" he asked himself as his hand hovered in mid-grab. He shrugged. If Kiku couldn't then he'd eat it himself.
"I haven't seen you around before." The man behind the till, bright red eyes looking from under a shock of silver hair, spoke with a a German accent, his voice cheerfully curious. "Did you move here recently?"
"Yep! I'm Alfred. I moved here last month. You've probably seen another new guy around lately, right? That'd be Arthur—I live pretty close-by with him and a friend." Alfred grinned.
"I'm Gilbert." The other frowned. "But if you've been living here for a month I should've at least seen you somewhere."
"Well, we've been unpacking a lot of stuff so I haven't had the chance to go out much. Plus, there were a few, um, problems... But, anyway, Arthur's out of town for a funeral, so I'm doing the shopping while he's gone."
Gilbert didn't seem to be listening, absent-mindedly putting Alfred's shopping in a paper bag. "And you live 'close by'...? There's only one house around here that's been sold recently, and that's—" His eyes widened. "Seriously? You live in that old haunted place?"
Alfred's smile faltered. "Haunted? Huh?"
"Yeah, didn't you know?" Gilbert lowered his voice, though why he did this was anyone's guess considering they seemed to be alone in the small shop. "A long time ago, some really old guy who lived in that house was pushed down the stairs. He died instantly. It's said that his spirit still wanders around that house, looking for his killer, and he curses anyone who dares to disrupt his search..."
"R-really?" Alfred gulped. He hated ghost stories. And ghosts. Anything creepy that had the tendency to jump out and scare him, really.
"Yeah." Gilbert smirked. "You must be pretty brave to live in that house... or just stupid."
"But it's just a story, right?" Alfred asked nervously.
"Oh, sure!" Gilbert said. He held out the paper bag. "But if you're still worried, here—I'll probably be fired in a few days, 'cause that's how long it usually takes for whatever boss I have to get rid of me, and since I'm so awesome I'll go and check on you after that to see if you're still alive."
Alfred tried to nod, but the motion was weak and it was obvious that he was more than a little troubled when he turned to leave, completely forgetting his shopping until Gilbert called out to remind him. Was there really some scary ghost in his house? Arthur hadn't told him about that, and neither had Kiku!
If an evil spirit really did dwell there, would they have to leave? Alfred shook his head. He really liked his new home. The town was admittedly small but the neighbours were friendly and the house was much bigger than anything he had ever lived in before (they were still trying to find use for more than half the rooms, the largest of them seeming more akin to a ball room than anything else). The first time he'd seen it, he couldn't help but yell, "This isn't a house—it's a frickin' mansion!"
And then there was Kiku... Besides some issues at first, Alfred has started to see the Japanese man as a good friend. They couldn't just leave him there with some murderous spirit on the loose! Maybe Arthur could do something about it? His job was to help ghosts pass on for a living, after all, though he usually did that for the nice ones...
The house at the end of the road stood out compared to the others, large and almost ancient, ivy climbing the walls and framing the wooden double doors. Alfred grabbed at the handle and pushed, somehow managing to enter the gloom without losing his grip on the bag.
"Hey, Kiku? I'm home!" Alfred called into the empty hallway, shutting the door behind him. It didn't take long for him to find the gaze of the familiar Japanese man who materialised besides the stairs, the long white dressing gown wrapped around him acting almost as a contrast to his short dark hair.
"Welcome back, Alfred-san," Kiku said warmly.
"Thanks. Hey, can you eat ice-cream?" Alfred asked, starting to look through the paper bag.
"I haven't tried yet. I've been getting better at eating solid foods, though, so if it's just ice-cream I should at least be able to taste it."
"Okay, here!" The tub of ice-cream was tossed across the room, and Kiku instinctively moved to catch it.
But is passed right through him.
"Ah, hell! Sorry!" Alfred said, a sheepish expression finding its way on his face. He went to retrieve the fallen ice-cream but Kiku held up his hand.
"It's fine. I've much better at picking things up now, too." He knelt down and grabbed at the container, his finger phasing through during the first few attempts but eventually managed to grasp it in a firm grip. "See?"
"Dude, that's awesome, Kiku!" Alfred grinned, and the two began to talk as they made their way down the hallway and to the kitchen, Kiku trying desperately hard to keep his hold on the ice-cream container. It was only once he'd put his bag down on a table that Alfred frowned. "Oh, that's right! I heard this creepy ghost story while I was at the shop. Apparently, there's some evil ghost that haunts this house, and now now they curse all who live here..."
Kiku blinked, the momentary lapse in concentration enough for the ice-cream to literally slip though his fingers. "What? But I've been here for years, and I've never come across another ghost."
"Yeah, that's what I thought you said. This guy was supposed to have been pushed down the stairs... A bit like how you died..."
"But I wasn't pushed. I tripped."
"Yeah..." Alfred's eyes widened. "Dude! What if he used to live here before you, and he cursed the stairs he fell down so that people would trip and fall down the stairs and die just like him!"
"What? I-I was certain that I was the only ghost here... but if he can make people fall down stairs, who knows what else he can do!"
After that, the two of them hid in one of the closets for the next few days, terrified of being attacked by this unknown spectre and only leaving to cautiously retrieve food and drink. Neither one stopped to think that maybe, just maybe, the story was actually about Kiku himself.
And so Arthur was more than a little surprised when, upon finally returning home, he was tackled almost to the ground by two panicking figures.
"Artie, you're not going to believe it! There's another ghost here, but this one's really evil and curses people and stairs!" Alfred yelled.
"This could be dangerous for the two of you," Kiku told Arthur in a way that was only slightly calmer than Alfred. "You should stay away from any stairs here, just to be safe..."
"Wh-what are you talking about?" Arthur exclaimed once he had finally managed to pry himself away.
"The other ghost here! He was pushed down the stairs and now he curses people so that they'll die like him, like Kiku did! I heard about it from some weird guy! This place is haunted!"
Arthur stared at the two of them, looking from Alfred, to Kiku, and then back to Alfred again.
"...You're both idiots."
—Chapter end (edited)