Title: No Place Like Home [Yokoo/Nikaido]
Rating/Warnings: R for violence/scariness, not sex. See below.
Summary: Yokoo moves into a new apartment, and Nikaido starts seeing some disturbing things, but it's no big deal because even though he can see the ghosts, they've never paid any attention to him before. Right?
AN: Written for 2013 Trick or Fic. I really wanted to write something about the fact that Yokoo has mentioned in interviews that he feels spirits, and Nikaido has said something sort of like that too, plus he always refuses to go places alone, like even to the bathroom. I figured, there must be some reason Nikaido is like that, so here you are.
REAL WARNING: Think Asian horror ghost movie like Ring or Shutter or White. Scary stuff happens to people you enjoy! Character death possible! I don't want to spoil all the spoils, given the nature of it, but ghosts are involved and they are pissed.
It's not gory, though, not like crazy serial murder fic or anything, if that's what you're worried about. It's plotty. So...good luck?
No Place Like Home
Nikaido nearly drops the box in his hands as he fumbles the key into the front door of Yokoo's new apartment complex. He saves it at the last second, turning pale at the thought of what Yokoo would do to him if he really had dropped it, since it's neatly labeled "Kitchen Dishes" on top. He's already made this trip what feels like a thousand times, arms feeling rubbery from effort, but Nikaido grits his teeth and shuffles into the lobby as quickly as he can, before the glass door can slide shut on him.
"Hold it, please!" he calls desperately as the elevator door starts to shut. There's a pause, during which Nikaido despairs of his whole life, and then the door slides back open again. "Thank you," he gasps as he struggles inside, desperate to at least lean the box against the wall of the elevator for a second.
The girl inside shrugs and reaches for the buttons, Nikaido opening his mouth to say fifth floor before he sees that's that floor she presses anyway.
"Thanks," he repeats. The girl doesn't say anything, only tucks some of her long, black hair behind her ear. Maybe she's one of Yokoo's new neighbors, Nikaido thinks, since she's getting off at the same floor. She's wearing her school uniform, the same dark blue blazer that Nikaido's seen on other students on the train at their station.
When the elevator doors slide open, Nikaido swallows a piteous whine as he hefts the full weight of the box back into his arms. The girl probably thinks he's a gentleman, since he waits until she gets off first, but the truth is that Nikaido isn't sure he has it in him to go the last six meters from the elevator to Yokoo's door. In the end he's sure he really will drop the box if he lets go with one hand to twist the door knob, so he just leans the box into the door, letting his head thunk forward against it.
"There you are," Yokoo scolds when he opens the door, and Nikaido nearly goes down in a heap all over their shoes. "I was wondering if you somehow got lost without a chaperone, going the whole back to the car all by yourself."
"Take it, take it, oh my god," Nikaido whines, holding out the box with shaking arms. Yokoo rolls his eyes but complies, and Nikaido almost cries with relief when he can finally drop his arms. He stumbles over to Yokoo's small couch, just pushed up against the wall for now, and flops onto it with a groan.
"Don't get comfortable," Yokoo orders, setting the box of dishes down on his kitchen counter. He peels the tape off and starts immediately putting his dishes away neatly in his cabinets, inspecting plates and bowls to make sure they haven't been chipped en route. "There's still plenty of work to do."
"I don't see what was wrong with your old apartment," Nikaido says, tilting his head back against the couch and closing his eyes. "Okay, so the hot water was a little erratic, and maybe there were one or two mold spots, big deal."
"And maybe my concrete-enclosed porch turned the sliding doors into an aquarium during every rainstorm last summer," Yokoo cut in, shuddering. "And don't try to tell me that was a cute home date, either. Quit stalling out there and unpack something."
"Okay, geez." Nikaido opened his eyes and glances around to try and find the easiest thing possible. A box labeled 'paperbacks' is nearby, and Nikaido settles for sliding onto the floor and starting to line them up on the bookcase next to the couch. There's no way Yokoo won't come over here and tell him he's done it all wrong, but Nikaido puts them back in the order Yokoo put them into the box and just hopes for the best.
"Also," Yokoo speaks up suddenly after a couple minutes of silence, "the old apartment didn't have enough room."
"Enough room for what?" Nikaido asks, distracted by trying to hold the books on the shelf up while he reaches into the box for the next couple. It's not like Yokoo has too much stuff or whatever; Yokoo doesn't have a lot of patience for clutter or things he has to dust.
"For anybody to live here with me."
It takes a second to sink in, and then Nikaido jerks his head up and bangs it hard on the shelf. Cursing, he leans back from the shelf, rubbing at his head and blinking back pain tears.
"What did you just say?" he demands.
Yokoo is fussing with a stack of plates with much more attention than can possibly be necessary, eyes glued on them. "I said there's more room, for...you heard me."
Yokoo finally looks up and notices Nikaido still rubbing his scalp and scowling at him. Abandoning his plates, he comes out of his kitchen and over to kneel beside Nikaido, brushing Nikaido's hands aside to feel for the lump himself.
"You don't have to," he says quietly, rubbing gently at the sore spot. "If you aren't ready. I know I didn't ask properly before I decided on this place myself. But I thought if you were someday, then--"
Yokoo's words cut off when Nikaido leans up to kiss him, throwing arms around his neck. His hands might be shaking a little, so he tangles them in Yokoo's hair and holds on tight.
"Really?" Nikaido asks when the kiss breaks. "It's really okay? Because sometimes I'm messy, and I kick in my sleep, and I've never done my own laundry in my whole life."
"I know all that," Yokoo says seriously. "You're also loud as hell and a total brat, but you'll be sleeping over here all the time anyway, right? Because it's so much closer to work."
"That's not why." Nikaido frowns. "Won't you get sick of me, if you even have to put up with me at home?"
"Won't know until we try." Yokoo offers a reassuring smile. "But we've spent nearly every day together for eight years, so I think if I were going to get sick of your face, it would have happened already."
"Okay." Nikaido takes a deep breath, and when he lets it out, a grin spreads over his face. "Okay, then please take care of me. Now please tell me you know where the box with your sheets in it is so that we can break this place in."
"Do I know where the sheets are, he asks," Yokoo scoffs, standing up and dragging Nikaido along with him towards his new bedroom, and Nikaido knows he's serious because he doesn't even mention the rest of the unpacking they have to do.
Flopped on his back across Yokoo's bed, Nikaido thinks of it as their bed for the first time, and the hum of satisfaction he gives has only half to do with Yokoo crawling over top of him and pushing him down into the mattress.
"You're going to regret that workout tomorrow," Yokoo says a while later, still half on top of Nikaido. "First day at the theater, too."
"I'll say I'm sore from moving," Nikaido replies. He's staring at the ceiling, running fingers through Yokoo's hair, and trying not to think about doing a whole butai run in Aoyama Theater. With Yokoo warm against him, Nikaido can tell himself it's no big deal. He gives Yokoo's hair a little tug. "Moving in with my boyfriend."
"You cannot tell the staff that," Yokoo scolds, but it's not very threatening since he's already half-asleep.
Nikaido has a hard time sleeping in strange places, so it's no surprise that he wakes up several times in the course of the night. Each time he chalks it up to the noises of the new building, and rolls over closer to Yokoo's dead weight before dropping off again.
The ghosts make Nikaido uncomfortable, but they don't seem to notice him so it's bearable. Especially in a place like Aoyama Theater, where Nikaido has worked so often, he's almost used to the familiar figures and the spots they hang around, and if they sometimes give him the chills, they don't startle him anymore.
There's the girl near the entrance with a yukata and a Koichi uchiwa, as if she's waiting patiently to be let in for her show, her bright red sleeves not quite long enough to hide the cuts on her wrists. It took Nikaido ages to realize the red of her sleeves wasn't fabric dye. There's a guy who rushes past Nikaido when he's on his way into the men's bathroom sometimes like he's going to be sick at any moment, leaving a rush of cold air in his wake. Nikaido assumes he was an actor, since during the one time he was forced to go the bathroom alone, he could hear snatches of someone practicing vocal scales from one of the empty stalls.
There's one in the meeting room right now, some kind of staff member in a suit at least ten years out of style who looks incredibly harried and takes notes continuously anytime someone in the room is talking, only pausing once in a while to press his hand against his chest with a pained grimace. Sometimes he's there the whole time, other times he appears while Nikaido is looking at something else, or disappears the same way. If he didn't make all the hairs on Nikaido's arms rise, Nikaido would feel bad that the guy has taken notes at probably thousands of meetings and never even gets to sit down.
Beside Nikaido, Yokoo shivers a little.
"You feel him too?" Nikaido asks quietly. Yokoo nods. "But you don't see him? He's in the corner, right behind Tama's chair."
Yokoo looks up, trying to follow Nikaido's gaze. He shivers again, but shakes his head. The ghost goes on scribbling, paying no attention to them.
"What?" Tamamori asks, scrunching up his nose at them. He rolls his eyes when both of them grunt that it's nothing. "And you guys call me a weirdo," he grumbles. To his right, Fujigaya hisses at him to shut up, then scowls when he gets shushed by his manager. Tamamori jumps a second later, clearly a victim of pinching, and on his other side, Miyata asks with an innocent face if Tamamori wants him to kiss it better.
"If you aren't interested in the schedule, I can certainly stop," the staff member leading the meeting informs them icily. In the silence that follows, the ghost stops writing and presses his hand against his chest. Nikaido wonders if the guy dropped dead during one of these meetings or what, and thinks that if he had to spend eternity doing this, he'd kill himself.
During the break, Nikaido drags Senga to the bathroom. Senga goes willingly enough, long used to Nikaido's refusal to go anywhere alone.
"So how's the new apartment?" Senga asks. Nikaido looks over with a raised eyebrow because he hasn't told Senga the news yet, but Senga just grins. "You came in together, so you totally spent the night there, right?"
"Yeah," Nikaido admits. "It's nice, he's got a lot more room than his last place."
"Oho?" Senga asks, leaning in, not at all concentrating on what he's supposed to be doing in the bathroom.
"Pay attention to what you're doing!" Nikaido leans away from Senga. "If you splash me, I'm punching you in the face." He gives his dick a shake and tucks himself back in, edging back out of Senga's range to wash his hands. "He might have asked me to move in with him."
Senga hugs him tightly in excitement, making Nikaido squawk for him to wash his hands, ew. Just then, one of the toilets behind them flushes without warning, making Nikaido nearly jump out of his skin.
"Okay, okay, can we get out of here, please?" Nikaido asks, trying to push Senga back enough so that he can breathe at least.
"It's just the toilet, crybaby," Senga teases.
"Uh-huh, sure," Nikaido agrees, studiously keeping his eyes away from the mirror because he isn't itching to catch a glimpse of anything hanging out behind them. "We're going to copy his key after work."
"So exciting." Senga's grin is a mile wide, and Nikaido can't help but smile back. It is exciting, and Nikaido's really happy. Senga rushes back into the meeting room to tell they others they definitely have to have a house-warming party this week, no members excused. Yokoo makes put-upon faces about having to play host already, but when Nikaido catches his eye across the group, he knows that Yokoo doesn't mind at all.
It's two weeks before Yokoo pronounces the apartment ready to receive visitors and Kitayama and Fujigaya have a night where they both get off before midnight.
"That's pretty good for us," Senga brags as he helps Nikaido set out bowls for chips. "Only two weeks."
"What?!" Nikaido demands, because Yokoo is vacuuming the floor for the third time. "Watta!" When he gets no response, Nikaido marches over to the wall outlet and kicks the plug out. When Yokoo looks over his shoulder with narrow eyes, Nikaido crosses his arms. "It's clean already! Relax, huh? It's just members, and they wouldn't care if you never vacuumed."
"I'd care," Yokoo retorts, but he doesn't protest when Nikaido strolls over to toe the button on the vacuum that makes the cord retract. Nikaido leans up to kiss Yokoo's cheek. "Okay, fine."
"Damn!" Senga says from the kitchen, making them both look up. "We forgot plastic cups."
"It's not like I don't have cups," Yokoo points out, busy tucking the vacuum neatly back into its spot in the closet.
"No way, then you spend the whole night trying to wash them when we want to mix different drinks," Nikaido says. "I'll run out and grab some, you can finish up on your own, right?"
"Yup!" Senga insists. "Come here and help, Watta, please?"
Nikaido tugs on a hoodie and sticks his feet back in his sneakers without bothering to tie them. When he pulls the door open, Miyata and Tamamori blink at him in surprise, just about to knock, Nikaido giving an 'eep!' of surprise before they both laugh.
"Go on in," Nikaido says, stepping out into the hallway to make room. "Try and keep him from cleaning the place three more times before I get back, okay?"
"No bet," Miyata says, making Nikaido chuckle as he goes for the elevator.
It's chilly enough outside that Nikaido is glad he put on the hoodie, and that's even before he's holding a big bag of ice on the way back. By the time he's back in the elevator, his teeth are chattering and he swears he can see his breath. He's so focused on getting back inside where it's warm, that when the elevator doors slide open on the fifth floor, Nikaido nearly runs right into the person standing there.
"Sorry!" he apologizes quickly. It's the girl from before, long hair still hiding most of her face, but the one eye Nikaido can see looks surprised. "Oh, it's you. I guess we must be neighbors, huh? Here, I'll get out of your way."
The girl steps backs with a little bow of her head, and Nikaido shuffles out of the elevator. He turns back to say something else, but the doors are already closing, the girl out of sight. Shrugging, Nikaido shifts the bag of ice to one side so that he can pat down his pocket for his keys. They aren't in the pocket he usually puts them, or the back one, and by the time Nikaido has fumbled through all of the possible hiding spots and finally turned them up, the elevator dings behind him again.
"Forget something?" Nikaido asks, but it's actually Kitayama stepping out, rubbing his hands together. "Oh, it's you."
"Fuck, it's freezing in there," Kitayama curses. He glances at Nikaido's look of mild surprise. "Of course it's me, who were you expecting?"
"My neighbor just got in there a second ago, you didn't see her?" Kitayama shakes his head. "Whatever, hurry up and let's get inside, my arms are numb from this stupid ice."
They're the last two to arrive, and the apartment is warm and bustling when they step inside, easing the chill from Nikaido in no time. Fujigaya has all the booze spread out across the coffee table and is mixing drinks while Tamamori plays backseat bartender, Senga is frying them gyoza, and Miyata is firing up the PS3, waving for Nikaido and Kitayama to hurry up and get over there.
"Don't you spill that on my couch!" Yokoo warns Fujigaya from the kitchen, and Fujigaya calls back lazily for him to come over to stop him if he wants to so bad, and Senga asks cutely for Yokoo to bring him back a drink, please? Satisfied that Yokoo is being taken care of, Nikaido flops on the floor in between Miyata and Kitayama and demands first turn loudly since it's his apartment and all.
There's a moment of silence, because maybe Senga was the only person Nikaido had mentioned that to directly, and then it's broken by a whoop of congratulations from Fujigaya, followed by the ruckus of everyone else adding their congratulations as well.
A couple hours later, Yokoo is doing the pile of dishes they've accumulated when Nikaido comes into the kitchen. He doesn't even try to stop Yokoo, just slides arms around Yokoo's waist and leans his cheek against Yokoo's spine. "Good party, roommate."
"You say that like it's over," Yokoo snorts softly. Both of them watch quietly for a moment as Fujigaya complains that he has a broken X button and Kitayama cackles drunkenly. Senga has taken over as bartender; he and Miyata are discussing in slurred and serious voices what they can mix to make their drinks member colors. Tamamori is out cold, flopped on the couch beside them with his cheek pillowed on Miyata's thigh. "You really didn't tell anybody besides Ken-chan?"
"You didn't either," Nikaido points out, rubbing his cheek against Yokoo's back. "I didn't know how to bring it up. They probably guessed anyway, when you were looking for a new place."
"Maybe they thought I brought you here just to make sure there weren't any ghosts hanging around," Yokoo teases. Nikaido pinches his belly, making Yokoo grunt. "Speaking of that...you haven't, right?"
"Seen anything?" Nikaido feels uneasy suddenly, Yokoo tense under his arms. "No. Why, have you? Felt anything, I mean."
"Not really." Yokoo's voice is neutral, and if Nikaido weren't pressed against him to feel that tension, he'd probably believe him. Nikaido pinches him again.
"Don't lie," Nikaido says. He can't keep his eyes from combing the apartment again, but he still sees nothing but members.
"I haven't felt anything in here," Yokoo clarifies. "Sometimes out in the hallway...but it isn't anything, not like at the theater, or like at that last hotel."
"Ugh, don't even talk about that." Nikaido shudders, hugging Yokoo tighter. He'd had nightmares for a week about that maid roaming the hallways, her blank eye sockets staring right at him, a third dark hole right in the middle of her forehead seeming to stare at him too.
Yokoo shuts off the water and turns in Nikaido's hold, putting some effort into it because Nikaido's grip is so tight, so that he can hug him back properly. "Don't worry, I said. You're safe in here. There's nothing in here but us."
A crash sounds behind them, followed by Fujigaya chanting, "Watta's gonna kill youuuuuu," like a third grader.
"Plus some idiots," Yokoo says through gritted teeth.
Eventually all the idiots are shooed out, with the exception of Senga who has taken Tamamori's place unconscious on the couch. Nikaido takes Yokoo firmly by the wrist when he makes a start towards the kitchen, and drags him directly to the bedroom. Nikaido kicks off his jeans and flops down on his side of the bed, and he's asleep two seconds after his head hits the pillow.
Sometime later, Nikaido rolls over onto his back, whining at how his head is pounding and his shirt is stuck to him with sweat. It's a struggle to open his eyes, stuck-together with sleep, but when he does, there's a blurry figure standing at the end of his bed.
"Kenpi?" Nikaido asks. He reaches up to rub at his head. "Something wrong?" When he pulls his hands away, no one is there, and suddenly the sweat on his skin is making him shiver. He whispers, "Kenpi?" again, but there's no answer.
Two deep breaths later, he tells himself he's being stupid and forces himself to put his feet on the floor. Nothing grabs him by the ankles from under the bed, of course, and he stands up and pads out of the bedroom to get a glass of water. Out in the living room, Nikaido's eyes are adjusted enough to make out Senga sprawled over the couch, blanket mostly kicked off and one leg dangling on the floor. After hesitating a second, Nikaido goes over just to see if Senga is really asleep.
He does seem to be, although when Nikaido goes on hovering, Senga stirs a little. He opens one eye just enough to see Nikaido.
"Go 'way," Senga says, then rolls over so that his back is to Nikaido and his face is pressed into the back of the couch. His next words are muffled, but Nikaido's skin prickles all over when Senga adds, "I already told you, quit wakin' me up."
Nikaido can't scuttle back into bed fast enough, yanking his feet off the floor and the covers over his head, and he presses as close to Yokoo as he can. Yokoo is tangled in the sheet, so it takes a few seconds of flail before Nikaido can get his hand under the right layer to touch Yokoo's skin.
"Wha?" Yokoo asks in confusion. "Takashi?" Nikaido grunts, pressing his hand against Yokoo's waist, fingers digging in a little. "Are you sick?"
For a second Nikaido hesitates, then answers, "Yes," because that's probably it, he's probably still a little drunk. Yokoo rolls onto his back fully and flops one arm out, nearly whacking Nikaido in the face before Nikaido scrambles onto it, tucking himself tightly against Yokoo's side. Yokoo curls his arm to rub Nikaido's back firmly, the warmth of his hand spreading until Nikaido stops shivering enough to try and sleep.
In the morning Senga doesn't remember talking to him at all, and Nikaido blames it all on the member-colored drinks.
"Midori does weird shit to me," he grumbles. He glances up just in time to see Yokoo frowning from the kitchen, but before he can ask anything about it, Yokoo announces that the pancakes are done, distracting all of them.
Nikaido forgets all about it in a couple days, work keeping him busy with practices and meetings and promotions for the show, making it so that he's too exhausted for anything to wake him up during the hours he has to spare for sleep. When Yokoo asks if Nikaido wants to come out with him and Fujigaya for drinks, Nikaido just stares at him with ringed eyes like he's crazy.
"Okay, okay." Yokoo ruffles Nikaido's hair. "Go home and rest, grandpa. I won't be too late."
"I don't care, I'll be asleep," Nikaido snorts, although it's not exactly true. It's been less than a month since they moved in together, but Nikaido already has some trouble falling asleep alone, and even when he does, he wakes up hugging pillows if Yokoo isn't within easy reach.
The train home seems to take forever and a half, one of the lines halted because of an accident. Nikaido glares out the window while he sits and waits, hoping that he spots the ghost of the suicide jumper just so that he can give him or her the finger. When he finally does stumble inside the apartment, he realizes with a groan that plastic recycling is tomorrow morning, and Yokoo's going to kill him if he forgets to put them out again.
When he's stomping back into the building, that neighbor girl is standing by the mailboxes, staring at hers forlornly.
"Nothing good, huh?" Nikaido asks. The girl startles a little, then shakes her head, hair hanging mostly in her face as usual. Nikaido glances at his own, no doubt full of junk flyers, and leaves it for Yokoo to deal with in revenge for the recycling trip. "Ah, me either. I'm heading up, are you?"
The girl nods and follows Nikaido over to the elevator. There's an awkward silence while they wait, Nikaido cursing internally about how he hadn't put his jacket back on for the quick trip outside. He jams his hands in his pockets and tries not to shiver too obviously.
"So," Nikaido says when he can't take the silence anymore. "This is like the third time we've met, so maybe we ought to actually introduce ourselves. I'm Nikaido Takashi. And you've probably seen my roommate around too, that guy's Yokoo Wataru."
There's a second where nothing happens, but then finally the girl says, "Sato Kiku. Nice to meet you."
"So you do talk," Nikaido says, grinning. "I was starting to wonder." Kiku gives him a tiny smile back, but then the lights in the elevator flicker, and Nikaido's smile tightens into a grimace. "Oh no, I've already been trapped on a train for an hour, if I get stuck in here with you...no offense."
"It just does that sometimes," Kiku says. Her voice is soft, like the rustle of fallen leaves, but Nikaido doesn't have any trouble understanding her. The lights right themselves, and Nikaido breathes a sigh a relief when the elevator opens up to their floor. He doesn't even care that it's freezing as always in this dumb hallway.
"See you later, Sato-san," Nikaido says as he heads for his own door, thoughts only on stripping off his clothes and falling into bed.
"See you," Kiku says behind him. "Nikaido-kun."
Nikaido's face-down on the pillow when he hears the lock click and then the door open, but he can't be bothered to pick up his head to see what time Yokoo made it home. There's the soft pad of footsteps crossing the apartment, and Nikaido hopes half-heartedly that Yokoo won't reek of izakaya smoke before he dozes off again.
When the door opens a second time, Nikaido wakes up more fully, skin goosebumping a little. He waits for a few seconds, but there's no other sound. "Watta?" he calls.
"I was trying not to wake you," Yokoo says, voice low. Nikaido rolls onto his side to see Yokoo unbuttoning his shirt. "Sorry. Go back to sleep."
"Welcome home," Nikaido says, relief rushing cool through his veins. He keeps his eyes firmly on Yokoo until Yokoo gets into bed, and only then tries to close them and go back to sleep.
The next morning, the whole thing is kind of fuzzy, but Nikaido still asks if Yokoo forgot something and went back out, or anything like that.
"No? Why would I?" Yokoo eyes Nikaido over his coffee cup. "By the way, you forgot to lock the door last night. I know you were tired, but be more careful about that, okay?"
Nikaido nods, lips tight and eyes glued to the breakfast that he has no interest in finishing now. He remembers very clearly coming in and turning the lock behind him.
That detail sticks with Nikaido for the next few days, making him jumpy and irritable. He tries to keep it mostly to himself so that it doesn't tarnish his fun times guy image, but it's a difficult act to keep up when all he wants to do is curl up in the chair in the dressing room and nap until they can stop showing up at this stupid ghost-invested theater.
"Hey, Nika-chan," Miyata says, sitting down next to him during break. Nikaido gives Miyata a sharp look, because he chose this empty corner on purpose, but it melts away when he sees the concern on Miyata's face. "Is everything okay?"
There's no fooling Miyata's member radar after all, Nikaido supposes.
"It's nothing," Nikaido says glumly. "Some weird things have been happening, but..." Nikaido tries to hold back, because he doesn't like reinforcing his image as group crybaby, but Miyata's friendly ear makes it hard to hold back. Nikaido finds himself spilling the whole story.
To his surprise, instead of telling him it's all in his head, Miyata's frown is pretty serious by the time Nikaido runs out of words.
"What?" Nikaido asks.
"I wasn't going to say anything," Miyata chews his lower lip a little. "Tama-chan made me promise I wouldn't."
"I locked that door," Nikaido hisses, edging closer and looking around to make sure nobody else is close enough to hear. "I feel like I'm going crazy! What did Tama say to you?"
"When he and Gaya went downstairs to smoke..." Miyata pauses, but then goes on. "You know how your front doors are all glass? Tama said there was a face watching them, from inside."
"Like a person?" Nikaido asks.
"No." Miyata stares at the floor, voice even quieter. "Just a face." The hairs on Nikaido's arms rise, but it turns out Miyata isn't finished. "And then when we were leaving, Tama was kind of drunk, you know? But he pointed up, at the windows around your floor and said 'There it is again!' and yelled at it to go away. I didn't see anything, but...I don't see the stuff that he does, sometimes."
They stare at each other, Nikaido's heartbeat suddenly loud in his ears because he can tell that Miyata is absolutely not fucking with him.
"What are you two gossiping about over here?" Fujigaya asks from behind Nikaido, who screams and practically jumps into Miyata's lap, grabbing his arm hard enough to leave white marks when he lets go.
It's later in the afternoon by the time Nikaido works enough of his nerve back up to ask Tamamori for the whole story. He corners him by the mirrors, Tamamori fussing with his bangs and barely even noticing when Nikaido sidles up.
"Miyacchi said you saw something weird at me and Watta's place," he says.
"That jackass." Tamamori shoots an annoyed look over his shoulder in Miyacchi's direction. Miyacchi waves back cheerfully. "Whatever, I was drunk."
"He said it was a face," Nikaido pushes on. "What's that mean?"
Tamamori shrugs like it's nothing, but the way he's touching becomes more fidgety. "It just looked like a face, is all. That's all I saw."
"Looked like?" Something about what Tamamori is saying makes Nikaido keep probing, even though he has the sinking feeling the answers won't make him feel any better.
"I mean, if it were a face you'd think there'd be a person attached, right?" Tamamori asks. He brings his hands down to cross them over his chest, hugging himself. "It was more like..." Tamamori gives Nikaido a quick glance, then leans in to breathe on the mirror, fogging it up.
Nikaido frowns when Tamamori presses his face against the glass until his nose is squished. When he pulls away, there's the vague outline of his face, mostly in negative, empty spots where his eyes and open mouth should be.
"Like that," Tamamori says quietly. He uses his sleeve to wipe the image away, and Nikaido is glad to see it go.
Nothing in the world could make Nikaido go home by himself today, even when Kitayama asks Yokoo to stay after and work on one of their scenes together. Nikaido curls up on the battered prop couches to nap while he's waiting, but he only manages to doze on and off. It doesn't help that when he closes his eyes for too long, he sees Tamamori's face and its negative mirror image. It's Kitayama who comes to shake Nikaido's shoulder eventually.
"What's going on with you and Wataru?" Kitayama asks without preamble. Nikaido opens his mouth, but before he can say anything, Kitayama adds, "And don't bullshit me."
"There's a thing," Nikaido says, feeling like it's just too much to explain it again. "You know, like how there's a thing sometimes."
"In your apartment?" Kitayama asks, voice sharp.
"I haven't seen anything inside the apartment," Nikaido says quickly, which is technically true. Kitayama's narrow eyes say he isn't buying it. "And even if I do see something," Nikaido rushes on, "they never do anything to me besides hang around. They don't even notice me!"
"You look like you haven't slept in days," Kitayama retorts. "You're so pale, maybe they just think you're a ghost too. You guys could spend a couple nights at my place."
"Until what?" Nikaido pushes himself up until he's sitting, gritting his teeth at how his head swims a little. "We live there. I'm telling you, it's nothing."
"What's nothing?" Yokoo asks, coming up behind Kitayama, bag on his shoulder, ready to go.
"This guy's stamina," Kitayama says breezily, although he gives Nikaido a piercing look that says he isn't going to forget about this. He stands up and stretches. "Quit keeping this idiot up all night, you dog."
"Yes, sir," Yokoo salutes Kitayama. He grins, flashing some fang. "I'll get him home and into bed right away, sir."
"Seriously, I'm right here," Nikaido grumbles, pushing himself to his feet. He calls them both jerks, Yokoo calls him cute, and then the staff yell at them to hurry up so they can lock up already.
Outside of their apartment building, Nikaido pauses outside the entrance to look at the glass of the door, then tilts his head back, trying to figure out where Tamamori saw whatever it was that he saw. It looks normal to him, and he jogs a few steps to catch up to Yokoo before the glass doors slide shut.
When they get to their floor, Yokoo heads for their front door, but Nikaido detours to the left to see the same spot from the inside. He can see down to the spot in front of the building, but the angle is steep enough that he has to step right up against the glass and press his forehead nearly flat to it. Looking down from this height makes his stomach twist unpleasantly, the cold glass chilling the skin of his face and his palm where he has it pressed against the glass for balance. For a second he thinks there's someone down there, looking back up, but it's too dark to see with the glare from the lobby lights. When Nikaido cups his fingers around his face to block the light, there's no one there.
When he takes his hands away, there's a pale face reflected in the glass next to his, and Nikaido's throat closes up on a shriek.
Nikaido jumps at the sound of the soft voice, nearly falling onto his butt as he scrambles away from the window and turns around. Sato Kiku is there, long hair in her face and dark blue school uniform like usual.
"Did I scare you?" she asks. "I'm sorry."
"N-no," Nikaido says quickly. "I was just..." He glances behind him at the fading imprint of his face on the glass, a handprint splayed wide beside it. "Never mind. Are you just coming home? Your cram school must go late, huh."
"Mm." Kiku reaches up to brush her hair back behind her ear, and Nikaido sees for the first time that she has a thin, jagged scar running from beside her eye down her cheek. Suddenly her creepy hairstyle makes a lot of sense, and Nikaido forces himself not to stare.
"Takashi?" Yokoo's voice comes from their doorway. "What are you doing?"
"I'm coming!" Nikaido calls back. He gives Kiku a smile. "Have a good night. Get enough rest, okay? Don't study too hard."
"Good night." Kiku offers a small smile in return, and Nikaido walks past her to go back to his own apartment's door.
"Hurry up, it's freezing out here," Yokoo urges as Nikaido pulls the door shut behind him. He has to admit that even though Yokoo's just turned the heat back on, it's still warmer in here than in the hallway. Nikaido flips the lock shut behind him with a loud click before Yokoo can remind him. "Were you talking to somebody?"
"Just a neighbor," Nikaido says, toeing off his sneakers. Past the kitchen, the rest of the apartment is still dark, and some of the unease of the night before starts creeping back. "Can we watch a movie or something?"
"Weren't you the one who was so tired?" Yokoo asks. He opens the refrigerator and tsks at the contents. "We should have stopped and gotten breakfast."
"Yeah, but..." Nikaido thinks for a second what to say that won't make him sound like as much as a weenie as he feels lately. "When we're busy, we're only near each other when we're asleep. I just want to do something together."
Yokoo's expression melts a little. "All right. That sounds nice."
They both take hot showers and curl up in bed together with Nikaido's laptop. Yokoo responsibly turns the heater back off before climbing in bed, but with his arm curled tight around Nikaido's shoulders, it's warm enough still. They watch a movie that both of them have been meaning to see, and Nikaido finally relaxes enough that he almost doesn't make it to the end.
"Thanks," he murmurs when Yokoo closes the laptop and sets it carefully out of harm's way beside the bed. "Home dates are best, right?"
"Idiot," Yokoo says with affection. He reaches down to pull the blankets up over Nikaido's shoulder before settling down himself. "It's not a home date if we live together."
"That makes it all a home date," Nikaido insists. Yokoo kisses him goodnight to shut him up.
It's the best night's sleep Nikaido's had practically since they moved in, and in the morning when the alarm goes off, Nikaido feels like the noise is reaching him through a meter of water. He scrunches deeper into the blankets, eyes firmly shut, thinking I won't I refuse no no no.
The mattress shifts, and an arm slides over Nikaido's waist, tugging Nikaido back into a firm embrace. Nikaido melts all the more into his warm blanket nest, because he loves it when Yokoo spoons him from behind like this. He feels safe and comforted, the weight against his back and the soft breath against his shoulder soothing. When he heaves a contented sigh, the grip around him tightens.
"Mmm, feels good," Nikaido murmurs in appreciation. His eyes flutter open.
Yokoo's side of the bed is empty.
Nikaido is out of the bed like a shot, not looking behind him as he dashes into the bathroom like he's on fire. Yokoo is in the shower and Nikaido rushes in without even pausing, thankfully already naked, to wrap arms around Yokoo's waist and bury his face in Yokoo's chest.
"Takashi, what's wrong?" Yokoo asks, Nikaido's panic making him worry in turn. He sets the shower head back in its holder so that he can wrap his arms around Nikaido's back.
"Nothing," Nikaido lies breathlessly. "Nothing, it's nothing."
"You're shaking all over!" Yokoo's voice has a note of panic now too, and Nikaido tries without much success to slow his breathing, to calm down. "What happened?"
He can't explain. Nikaido just shakes his head and clings tighter until Yokoo gives up and urges him out of the shower to dry both of them off before they catch colds.
Senga's the only one who can pry the story out of Nikaido, hours and hours later. Nikaido stares at the ground, arms wrapped tight around his knees, while he relays that morning's scare in a flat voice, like he's reading a weather report.
"Nika, this is serious," Senga says, sitting close enough that their shoulders are pressed together. "You can't live in a haunted apartment!"
"It's not haunted!" Nikaido snaps, much more sharply than he usually speaks to Senga. "I haven't seen anything, and Watta hasn't felt anything either!"
"It got in bed with you," Senga hisses.
"There's no it! It's just nightmares or something." Nikaido's been repeating that to himself all day like a calming mantra, and by this point it's starting to sound more and more believable. "It's from the show, or moving, or I don't know. But it's definitely not ghosts because I can see those and they don't touch me!"
Senga lets it go for the moment, but Nikaido can see he doesn't believe it. He avoids meeting Senga's eyes for the rest of the day, and shoves the anxiety Senga's expression of concern brews in him down deep inside until he can pretend it isn't even there.
On to Part 2.