PSC Series: The Haunted CelebrityChapter:
the GazettE, SCREW, Alice Nine, ViViD, more to comeDisclaimer:
I don't own the guys. Just the story.Pairings:
AoixRuki, ByouxRui, KaixUruha, probably more to comeGenre:
AU, horror, supernaturalRating:
PG, for nowWarning:
"PSC, which stands for Paranormal Studies Center, is an institution whose main object is to investigate various paranormal and supernatural events. This is the Department of Investigation and Recovery, where all investigative tasks are being done. My name is Kai, and I am the head of this Department. Welcome. How may I help you?"
Ruki woke up to a song that sounded suspiciously like SpongeBob SquarePants’ opening theme song.
It was followed immediately with a voice of someone complaining about the choice of channel. This person said the afternoon news program would be more appropriate to watch instead of this stupid kindergarten cartoon show. But another person quickly argued that the episode that was currently being aired at the moment was one of the funniest episodes ever—something about SpongeBob and Patrick getting into trouble after being left in charge of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy’s secret cave—and it didn’t matter how often it was aired, it would never get boring. Th bantering continued, tinkered with SpongeBob’s and Patrick’s voices every now and then.
It was a fascinating argument, and it was the first time Ruki had ever heard such an adamant discussion about SpongeBob Squarepants. But at the most inappropriate moment, Ruki’s body decided to throb with pain. The pain was so intense it blocked everything else, including the noises around him. He moaned agonizingly.
“Oh, he’s awake!” Someone yelled a little too loud, making Ruki cringe.
Ruki opened his eyes and saw nothing but a big blur at first. But when his sight cleared up a bit, he could see the faces that hovered above him. Nearly half of the Department of Investigation and Recovery were here. He recognized Kai, Uruha, Shou, Miho, and Hiroto. A little bit further on his right, standing by the window were Reita and Ayame. Reita was clutching a remote in his hands, while Ayame was standing in front of him with her arms folded across her chest. It became obvious who had been arguing about SpongeBob SquarePants earlier.
And then there was a flurry of movements from his left, and the next thing he knew there was Yuu’s face invading his entire sight. Ruki was so shocked he thought he was going to faint again.
“Thank goodness you’re finally awake!” the actor said. His face was practically brimming with concern. “How do you feel?”
“Like I’ve been hit by a truck,” Ruki answered weakly. He had never really been hit by a truck, but if he had, he knew it must have felt like this. The pain seemed to originate from his left rib, where it felt the most intense, spreading to his whole body. Even the sight of Yuu’s face couldn’t take his mind away from the throbbing pain.
Ruki blushed; where did that thought come from? And then suddenly came the flashes of memories, the thoughts he had been having during the attack in Yuu’s apartment just before he blacked out. He blushed even worse.
“Ruki? Are you alright?” Yuu asked, his voice sounded panicked. “Your face is all red! Should I buzz the doctor?”
“I’m okay, I’m okay,” Ruki stopped Yuu before he reached for the button just above his bed. “By the way… where am I?”
Kai stepped closer toward the bed at Ruki’s right side. His face looked serious, but Ruki couldn’t tell whether his boss was upset, worried, or tired. Probably all of that and more.
“You’re in the hospital,” Kai explained. “You have a fractured rib, a dislocated shoulder, and tons of bruises. But you will be fine. At least that’s what the doctor said.”
Ruki sighed. It didn’t sound as bad as he had expected. He wouldn’t be able to jog around the block for a while, but at least he hadn’t gotten his legs broken. That would have been a lot more annoying. Something like that happened two years ago when Kai’s team including Ruki encountered a super violent onibaba
in Nagasaki, in which Ruki had gotten his right leg broken, smashed against a tree. Ruki could never forget how arduous it had been going to the bathroom with stiff gypsum wrapped along his leg, and he intended not to experience it ever again if he could help it.
But it didn’t mean that a fractured rib was in any way better. It surely felt like hell, like his ribcage had contracted and forced his lungs to compress inside his chest, which made it a lot harder to breathe. Ruki contemplated buzzing for the doctor himself. A dose of painkiller sounded very tempting at the moment.
“Ruki,” Kai’s voice brought Ruki’s attention back to him. “I’ve already heard a bit from Yuu, but you experienced the attack first hand. Can you tell me about it? Do you remember what happened?”
Ruki frowned. The bits and pieces were all in his head, and he knew he could tell Kai everything that had happened from the moment the attack began, but what happened after that? What was going on when his sight was suddenly filled with red, as if someone was aiming a red spotlight right onto his face? Was it just a normal stage that people went through before they passed out?
In the end, he decided telling Kai everything he knew, whether it was important or not. He started with eating breakfast and washing dishes with Yuu, which he mentioned only briefly. With Yuu standing right next to him, it was difficult to relive the situation again without blushing profusely. His heart was also beating madly inside his chest, which was a torture for him with his injured rib. He quickly got to the point when the invisible hands came out of nowhere, pulled his collar and flung him backward. He remembered the sheer power of the creature that made him feel like he weighed nothing as he flew across the room. He remembered the ‘crack’ that seemed to resound in the entire room when he crashed against the table. And then he remembered the excruciating pain that raged inside his body as he crumpled on the floor.
He told Kai the details of when the creature strangled him, of the merciless grip around his neck that was cutting off his respiration. He also spent some time describing his efforts in fighting back against his attacker. He didn’t understand how his punches and kicks could make impact. Ghosts or apparitions weren’t usually touchable, unless they wanted to be touched. It might be important, he thought, especially with Ayame here. Ruki knew Ayame would need all the smallest details to get her analysis done.
“I couldn’t think clearly,” Ruki said, lying through his teeth. He remembered pretty well what he had been thinking back then, which was mostly about Yuu and how much Ruki actually admired him even until today. It would be irrelevant, not to mention embarrassing, to add that bit into his story. “I tried to grab it, any part of it, to see if I could recognize its form. It felt like a human, but I’m not so sure. I was losing my strength very fast. And the next thing I knew… I was seeing red.”
“About that,” Shou piped in, “Ruki, do you remember how you felt when that happened?”
Ruki frowned. He thought the most crucial thing to do at the moment was to find out what creature had attacked them. “To tell you the truth, I don’t remember much. Does it matter, though?”
The taut look on Kai’s face told Ruki that it mattered more than he thought.
“Ruki, I’m going to ask Yuu to repeat what he has told us before you woke up,” Kai said. He looked so somber Ruki was beginning to feel worried. What happened when I fainted? Why does everyone look like I’ve done something bad?
That would be ridiculous; what could an unconscious person do?
However, before Ruki could mutter his confusion out loud, Yuu had begun talking. If the room hadn’t been uncomfortably silent before, it was now.
“It was a violent sight, to say the least,” Yuu started, his voice sounded tired. Ruki wondered if he had got any rest since… how long has it been since I got attacked, anyways? How long have I been unconscious?
“You were struggling against this invisible creature,” Yuu continued. For some reason his eyes were staring relentlessly at Ruki. “Your arms and legs were thrashing, and for a while it seemed like you successfully landed a good number of blows against the creature. But it was soon becoming useless. You were getting weaker, I could see that. I wanted to help, I really did, but that creature kept kicking me back every time I got too close. I panicked, and you were… you were…”
Hiroto, who had been standing beside Yuu, patted the actor’s shoulder. “Don’t worry too much about it, Yuu-san, this is not your fault,” he said, trying to soothe the distraught man. Ruki could see his effort was failing, because Yuu still looked very much stressed out.
“Hiroto is right, Yuu,” Kai added. “You had no control over the situation. You couldn’t have, not without the adequate skills. Even if I had been there instead of you, I wouldn’t have known what to do in such a short moment.”
Kai’s words seemed to do the trick, Ruki thought while carefully watching Yuu’s face. Once he looked a little bit calmer, he took a deep breath and continued his story.
“As I was saying, you were getting weaker and weaker by the minute. Soon, your hands and legs stopped moving, and your whole body became completely stiff. I couldn’t tell if you were breathing or not. And then... and then, all of a sudden, you were glowing red.”
Ruki looked at Yuu incredulously. He waited for someone to blurt out the punch line, to tell him that it was a joke, but the room was still as gloomy as it had been since he woke up.Me? Glowing red?
“Every single inch of your body was glowing… red, bright red, like some neon light or something. I froze on the spot, watching you.” Yuu paused for a moment, taking another deep breath as if preparing to say something even more appalling than what he had already told everybody.
Ruki didn’t know what to expect. So he just lied as quietly as he could and hoped that what Yuu was about to say would not be weirder than what he had already heard so far. But it wouldn’t be Ruki’s life if it didn’t have a spark of surprise, and this theory was proven to be true as Yuu resumed with his story.
“I was just about to approach, you know, take my chances and try to reach you somehow. I didn’t know what good that would do, but I couldn’t just stay there and watch you get…” he stopped, seeming to catch himself before saying what he dreaded. “Well, I tried to move, but before I got very far, you opened your eyes. And your eyes were… they were red. Completely red.”
“Weird, man. That is so weird…”
The person who said that sounded like Reita, but Ruki couldn’t be bothered to see if it really was really him or someone else. He tried to focus on Yuu’s words, but his brain refused to believe that the story was about him. It sounded too bizarre, too impossible to be about him. How could he glow red? That’s impossible, unless, somehow, he had gotten infected by some radioactive substance from a source that he was not aware of.
He wanted to kick himself in the face for the sudden random images of Spiderman that popped up in his head.
Lunch in the hospital, like most people said, was awful. The rice was soggy, the miso soup tasted bland, and the piece of tuna looked so sad Ruki almost didn’t have the heart to eat it. But he ate everything down to the last grain of rice. Apparently fighting against an invisible creature could really drain his energy.
The doctor, a tired looking middle aged man with grey hair, came to check up on him right after lunch. He was accompanied by a seemingly nervous nurse who nearly plugged off the needle from Ruki’s hand when she tried to change the IV bottle with a new one. She also almost stepped on Hiroto’s foot when she hurried to the doctor’s side. Ruki thought she wouldn’t have been as nervous and clumsy if Yuu hadn’t been in the room. Ruki understood her. He knew exactly how it felt, knew that it would be impossible to act calmly in the presence of a handsome and famous actor like Yuu.
After all, he had been experiencing the same feeling for the past few weeks during his stay in Yuu’s apartment.
But the good news was the doctor told him that he could leave the hospital in three days, which was sooner than he had expected. He would rather not stay longer here, not just because of the unappetizing menu, but also because of the thought that Yuu would be left alone in his apartment. No doubt that Kai could easily assign someone else to guard Yuu instead of him, someone more capable, but after what had happened, Ruki had decided to make this case a little personal. Nobody was going to throw him against a table and walk away unscathed.
It did need a lot of planning, though, and that’s the hardest part. Ruki had no idea what to do. The fact that he was now stranded in this room with a fractured rib was proof enough that he couldn’t fight the creature empty-handed, not to mention without special supernatural ability whatsoever… except to glow red. Which seemed to be useless as far as he could tell from Yuu’s story.
He didn’t know if he should be glad or depressed that everyone had chosen to avoid the topic. He was curious to find out what had happened to him, but then again he was also worried that it might be a bad omen. It’s definitely not a normal reaction. In fact, it was unheard of for a person to glow like a neon light when being attacked by a supernatural creature. But thinking about it was making his head ache, which was a bad addition to his already sore body. He should wait until he was a little healthier and a little less muddled by painkillers to properly contemplate about the whole matter.
“The most important thing is to decide how we are supposed to detect the creature,” Kai said. He was leaning against the wall right next to the window. It looked like it was getting dark outside, but night hadn’t fully descended. Warm splotches of orange stretched across the indigo sky, making Ruki think that it must be around six or seven p.m. at the moment.
“That’s true,” Ayame agreed. “There’s no way we can fight it if we can’t even tell where it is or what it’s planning to do.”
“I couldn’t sense its presence unless it wanted me to sense it—or rather, unless it wanted to beat the crap out of me,” Ruki said, recalling his recent experiences encountering the invisible creature. “Maybe it’s because I lack the power to detect it much sooner, I’m not sure.”
“Or maybe it’s because the creature knows very well how to conceal itself,” Kai shrugged. “There are many possibilities, Ruki, and neither of them means that you’re incompetent. We just need a strategy, an effective one.”
The room was silent for a moment. The remaining people—Shou, Miho and Hiroto had left a little earlier—seemed deep in their own thoughts. Kai walked away from the window, and then sat down the sofa right next to a sleeping Uruha. Their leader looked gloomy. The creases between his eyebrows were deep, and the corners of his mouth were turned down. It was a very unwelcoming sight, as opposed to the usually bright and cheerful Kai that Ruki used to see.
Next was Reita. He was sitting on the chair by the door, seemingly busy with his cellphone. He looked bored, but Ruki could somehow guess that he was also thinking about the case. Otherwise, he would have gone home already, or probably gone to the bike accessory store that he frequented almost every day. Ruki had often underestimated his junior, but Reita had proven almost as often that he was completely reliable. One of these days he would have to give him more credit and a little bit more trust.
And then Ruki’s sight turned to the last person in the room, and immediately felt his cheeks becoming warmer. Yuu was sitting on a chair right next to Reita. The left side of head was leaning against the wall, his eyes were closed. He seemed to be sound asleep, and he had been for the last hour or so. Ruki was confused; didn’t Yuu have a schedule to keep up? A movie shooting to attend? It didn’t make sense that he would rather stay here than go to work like he was supposed to. Ruki couldn’t stop wondering why Yuu hadn’t left, but he hadn’t had the chance to be alone with Yuu to ask him about it.
Ruki yawned before he could stop himself. He covered his mouth with his hand, vaguely wondering when visiting hour would end. It might be the drugs he had taken after lunch, but he felt so sleepy he could fall asleep with his eyes open.
But Kai’s words hung in the room like a heavy fog above their heads. Ruki knew there was a great urgency to sort out what they needed to do. As of now, time was of an essential matter. The longer they spent deciding what to do, the more dangerous it would be for each and every one of them. Ruki could sleep for as long as he wanted after this whole thing was over.
Just when the silence was beginning to feel oppressing, Ayame turned around. She had been standing by the window, staring at the skies outside, not saying a word. Now she was facing the rest of the group in the room. Her face was practically expressionless, like always, and her voice sounded calm when she started talking, almost as if she was talking about the weather.
“We need a bait,” she said. “We need to lure the creature out, and then trap it. It will be easier to fight it, whatever it is, if it is contained inside a safe and controlled area. Shou and Uruha are perfectly capable of creating a strong kekkai
which can contain pretty much anything, so we don’t have to worry about that. But we have to make sure the kekkai
holds until we are certain that the creature is no longer a threat.”
“What do you plan to do after it’s caught inside the kekkai
?” Kai asked. Beside him, Uruha was now wide awake, eyes also focused on Ayame.
“That, of course, depends on what creature it is. But I think that once it is bound inside the kekkai
, we will know what to do with it.”
“And where do you plan to execute this plan?”
“We know that it always showed up in our client’s apartment, so I see no reason to change locations,” Ayame said. “I’m guessing that this creature can only be in places it is familiar with, like places it has been or seen. The creature is practically obsessed with Yuu, so we have a bigger chance of catching it in his apartment. We have all the space we need to set up a perimeter in Yuu’s living room.”
There was a brief, unsettling silence before Kai asked, “And the bait…?”
Ayame’s gaze fell upon Ruki and at that very instant Ruki knew what she meant by ‘bait’. She wanted someone who could lure the creature out of its hiding. She intended to put someone on the line, taking every risk to draw the creature and drag it into the trap. The fastest way to do that, it seemed, was to make the creature angry. And this was something Ruki had proven to be exceptionally—although unintentionally—good at.
Ruki sighed—a heavy, shaky breath that felt like a big rock trying to make its way through his throat. So it had come to this. He realized with a leaden heart that from now on he was going to face the hardest part of the task. It should make him feel afraid—he could be risking his life if he decided to participate in Ayame’s plan. Instead, he felt anxious, impatient to get this over with. He wanted to make sure whoever or whatever had broken his rib and given him so many bruises would pay for it, and if it meant he would have to gain some more bruises, then so be it.
Ruki was just about to voice out his consent when Yuu suddenly spoke up. He didn’t sound very pleased with Ayame’s idea.
“You can’t be serious!” he bellowed. “It’s too dangerous!”
Ruki hadn’t even been aware that Yuu was awake, moreover listening to their conversation. But now the man was standing straight, his shoulders tense, and there was a hard look on his face that Ruki just couldn’t fathom.
“Can’t you see that he’s been hurt? How can you think of doing something so dangerous while he’s still injured?”
“Yuu, I will certainly not put my staff in a situation which they cannot handle,” Kai said calmly. “We have years of experience behind every action we do, and Ayame as our Analyst is very capable to draw out a suggestion from the most difficult situation. I guarantee that there will be no decision made before we calculate the consequences.”
“Well then you might want to recalculate the consequences one more time,” Yuu insisted. “You guys heard what the doctor said. Ruki needs a lot of rest even after he is out of the hospital.”
Ruki found himself staring at Yuu with a feeling that was part awe, part confusion. He wouldn’t have been so surprised if Yuu had been mildly worried about him—stranger or no stranger, what Yuu had witnessed must have been terrifying. Watching someone being thrown around like a ragdoll by an invisible creature could be traumatizing for some people. But this vivid, unrestrained concern Yuu was showing was almost too much. He seemed ready to argue against whatever Kai was going to say about putting Ruki as bait.
But why? Ruki didn’t understand why he would bother.
Ayame was next to speak up, defending the idea she had suggested. Despite the palpable tension in the room, she still looked and sounded very calm.
“Yuu-san, I understand your concern,” she said. “I have certainly taken Ruki’s current condition into consideration, even before I thought of making him bait in this plan. I know what I’m suggesting is dangerous, but of course I wouldn’t put Ruki into a life-threatening situation, not without thinking about the consequence of every single possible outcome.”
She placed both her hands on the edge of Ruki’s bed, staring straight at Yuu. It always amazed Ruki how convincing she could be when she wanted to, making it impossible for people to underestimate her despite her casual appearance. Well, this must be one of the reasons why she was a highly reliable Analyst, other than her exceptional deduction skill.
“We will have two, maybe three people on guard,” she explained. “I’m thinking Shou, Uruha, and Reita should take that responsibility. First of all, either Shou or Uruha will be responsible for building the kekkai
that I was talking about. Second, all of them have the skills. They are fast to react, and most importantly, they can maintain their focus. They will be hiding while Ruki tries to lure the creature out, and once he succeeds, everyone will be there in an instant. Ruki will not be left helpless, not even for a second.”
“But that doesn’t mean—”
“I’ll do it,” Ruki said before Yuu could finish his sentence. He knew that the argument would never end if he didn’t say anything. He still couldn’t figure out the reason behind Yuu’s excessive stubbornness, and despite the fact that it was making him feel slightly happy, he had to keep in mind that Yuu was his client and he was supposed to do what he could to deal with his problem. That was, after all, what he was paid to do.
“I’ll do it,” Ruki repeated with a firmer voice, ignoring Yuu’s splutter of protest. He looked at Ayame with a determination he hadn’t even known he had. “Just tell me what to do. I want to make sure that whoever or whatever did this to me pay for it.”
It was approximately an hour and a half after visiting hours were over that everybody—except Kai—had finally gone home. It had taken a couple of nurses threatening to call the security to kick them out of the room to persuade everyone to leave. Ruki heaved a deep breath, leaning back against his pillow. Despite the sleepiness he felt, his mind wouldn’t stop and take a break. The conversation they had a moment ago kept replaying in his head. There could never be enough time to discuss every single detail of the plan that Ayame had suggested, but at least they had covered most of the basics to make sure the plan would run smoothly. Before they ended the discussion, Ayame had insisted that they didn’t mention all the things they had talked about tonight to anyone.
“We need to minimize the risk of blowing up this plan,” she said. “It’s best if we don’t let any outsider except our client know about it.”
She made Yuu promise not to tell the people he was working with, including the makeup team, the staff, even his manager. Knowing that he couldn’t talk to his manager seemed to make Yuu a little upset, but Ayame emphasized once again that it was for his own safety. They still didn’t have a solid clue about their suspect. It would be pathetic if they ruined the only chance they got to succeed just because someone unknowingly told the culprit about it.
“You have to remember that the suspect can be anyone,” she said, “anyone at all.”
She was always mysterious and a tad bit frustrating, Ruki thought. And then she had left with Reita—another mystery, if Ruki could say so himself, because those two had never got along before. She might have another strategy up her sleeves that she hadn’t revealed to anyone, something that required her to talk to Reita. Ruki hoped it was a contingency plan that would make sure he survived this whole ordeal, without anymore broken bone if possible.
“You should get some sleep.”
Kai’s voice dragged Ruki away from his current thoughts. He looked at his senior who was sitting on the chair beside the bed, and soon saw that he wasn’t the only one who needed rest. The dark circle around Kai’s eyes made him look worse than a starving vampire—and Ruki had seen starving vampires, so he wasn’t exactly exaggerating with his opinion.
Ruki shifted slightly, wincing when his side hurt, and then settled in the most acceptable position.
“You don’t have to stay here, you know,” Ruki said. “You look like you can use some sleep too.”
Kai smiled. “That’s what the sofa here is for,” he replied good-naturedly. “And it’s a very comfortable sofa, I might add. Uruha fell asleep as soon as he sat on it.”Uruha can fall asleep practically anywhere
, Ruki thought idly. But he didn’t say a word to contradict Kai. He knew that if he chose to keep pressing on the matter and force Kai to leave, his boss would only end up spending the entire night worrying about him. It was probably better if he stayed, both of them would have each other’s company, and Ruki didn’t have to worry any invisible creature would try to maim him while he was asleep.
“Or would you prefer Yuu was here instead of me?”
Ruki nearly toppled off the bed. He looked at Kai with wide eyes, spluttering. “Wh—what do you mean?”
“Well, he did seem adamant on keeping a watch over you,” Kai smiled even wider. “Why didn’t you let him stay?”
“He has to go to work,” Ruki answered, struggling to put on a poker face. “He has taken the whole day off today. They have a deadline to catch up so…” He stopped himself before he started babbling. It’s a habit he needed to get rid of.
Not very eloquently, he steered the conversation to a different direction. “Um… do you think Ayame’s plan will work?”
Kai’s smile faded slightly at hearing Ruki’s question. He suddenly looked very tired; lines after lines that had etched themselves on his face became clearer under the light of the room. His right hand ran through his hair, making it a total mess.
“It has to,” he said sternly. “It has to work. Otherwise I’m forced to take drastic measures.”
The way Kai said ‘drastic measures’ made Ruki’s skin crawl with dread. Things would have to be extremely bad and unsalvageable for Kai to take his ‘drastic measures’. Ruki had witnessed such emergencies only twice in the time that he had spent working in PSC, but it was enough to make him not want to go through the same experience again.
“But enough of this talk for now, you are supposed to get all the rest you need,” Kai spoke with a gentler tone. “Now shut your mouth and go to sleep, you hear me?”
Ruki kept his eyes open long enough to see Kai walking toward the sofa and settling himself there. His figure was dark but unexplainably strong, an assuring presence that made Ruki feel somewhat safe. Ruki was unconscious by the next minute, slipping into a restless sleep and a dark, painful dream.
- TO BE CONTINUED -
Uh... Hi? *lol* Sorry for the very
long wait. Two more chapters to the end of this story. So yeah. Ehehehe. /end of stupid author's note/Previous chapters: 1
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