Title: When Life Hands You Pomegranates...
Rating: PG-13 for Gojyo's language, as always
Word Count: 1527
Summary: Gojyo finds his dream house. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect, and even dream houses have their downsides. Gojyo’s dream house just has a slightly larger one than most.
A/N: Written for hc_bingo. Masterpost with my game card is here.
His realtor insisted the house was perfect in every way. Two-car garage, extra bedrooms for guests or an office, huge den in the basement, and even with a pool with an outdoor kitchen and entertaining area on the patio. It was practically made for him.
She just hadn’t mentioned that it was already occupied.
But that’s getting ahead of the story. Flash back six months. One Sha Gojyo, playboy extraordinaire and accomplished advertising entrepreneur (he always knew exactly the lie everyone wanted to hear), had, quite literally, hit the jackpot. On a vacation to celebrate his best friend’s bachelor party, he’d wisely stepped away from the casino poker table for a while when security started watching a little closer than he’d liked, and promptly hit the biggest slot machine jackpot in Las Vegas history. After taxes and more taxes, he still had enough to upgrade from the one-bedroom home he’d been too lazy to move out of even after he could afford to. A little over a month later, he’d settled on a modest home in an older neighborhood that was going for way below market value.
The house hadn’t seemed all that different from most of the other houses he’d looked at, except for the price, of course. There had been something niggling at the back of his mind, though. Something he hadn’t figured out until move in day. The whole place was painfully, immaculately... clean.
‘Clean’ was even an understatement. The house had supposedly been on the market for nearly a year, the last owners moving out quickly without waiting for any interested buyers, but there wasn’t a nail out of place, not a cobweb or a dead bug. Not even dust on top of the cupboards, out of sight where nobody in their right mind bothered dusting anyway. Sterile was probably the better word.
He really started to worry when he noticed he could see his reflection in the fridge door. Like an evil twin staring back at him from the depths of the netherworld, if the netherworld was made out of highly-polished chrome. One time, just as he opened it to grab one of the beers they’d put in to cool as soon as they got in the door, he swore it even smiled at him.
Over the next few weeks, nothing too serious happened. At least, nothing so serious it really caught his attention. Strange sounds, sure, but it was probably just the house settling. And his beer cans all getting thrown in the trash, well, maybe he was just extra drunk and didn’t remember cleaning up. The fact that the ashtray followed him from room to room no matter where he left it was strange, but kind of useful, so he ignored it.
After that, the incidents got... well... bigger. His closet rearranged itself by color and season. His shoes were at the door every morning no matter where he left them in the house. And his damn cigarettes kept disappearing, which made the ashtray following him mostly useless. That was even harder to ignore, but somehow, he managed it for a good six months.
It was next to impossible to ignore the walls when they started bleeding, though.
Even if the blood smelled suspiciously like pomegranates.
He stood and stared at the wall of the bathroom, towel over his shoulder. He’d planned on taking a shower, but now he wasn’t so sure. The house even bled neatly, though, the blood pooling at the base of the wall to roll down into the drain in an orderly fashion. His eyes narrowed. “You have got to be shitting me.”
“I’m afraid not. You’re far too stubborn for your own good.”
While he would later deny it, Gojyo screamed like a tiny girl. Only a suspicious pressure in the small of his back kept him from tipping into the pomegranate-scented blood on the floor of the bathroom as he spun around.
To find absolutely nothing.
At first, anyway. The longer he watched, the colder it got, and what looked like fog rolled into the hallway. If he hadn’t been trapped in the bathroom, he might have bolted out of the house like a tiny girl, too, and how would he have ever lived that down?
Not that standing his ground, so to speak, helped all that much in the end. The fog started to coalesce, forming a shape that was decidedly human. Gojyo promptly passed out.
When Gojyo finally woke up, it was to find himself staring up at the ceiling of his bedroom instead of the bathroom. Also, he noticed with a vague sense of panic, sans pants and overshirt.
“Ah, you’re awake. I was a bit worried. I’d never killed anyone unintentionally before.”
Surely the voice knew exactly how unhelpful that was. Didn’t it? It took a practically Herculean effort to tear his eyes away from the ceiling and slowly slide down to where he’d heard the voice coming from, to find...
A completely ordinary, if pretty, man. Who looked like he’d stepped out of a period drama or something. Gojyo reached out to poke at him, but his hand passed right through the man’s shoulder. So much for this not being a dream or a hallucination or...
Saying his smile chilled Gojyo’s blood would be polite. A Gojyo-popsicle would perhaps be more accurate, but somehow still an understatement. Suddenly, the last part of the obviously-not-really-a-man’s statement caught up to him, and he squeaked a completely unmanly squeak.
“Please don’t do that. I find it most disconcerting.”
“You- It- But- How- You-”
The something-man-shaped seemed to take pity on him. “You can call me Hakkai. You’re the first person who has actually managed to stay in this house so long, so I suppose in a way, you’ve earned it.”
Was that supposed to help? “But you’re a... a.... a...”
“Ghost. Yes. Well, more of a vengeful spirit, really, but I guess that’s an argument of semantics. I suppose you want an explanation or something equally comforting and ultimately useless?”
Wait. Was that a trick question? “Yes? No? ...What’s the right answer?”
The laugh was even scarier than the smile. “When you figure it out, let me know.” No, wait, that smile was totally scariest. “I’ll be watching.”
He (it?) blinked out of sight.
Gojyo curled into a very unmanly ball and whimpered.
It took the better part of the rest of the day before he could convince himself to confront his problem head-on, so to speak. He wasn’t doing that in his bedroom, though, no matter if he had already seen the ghost in there or not. Some places needed to retain at least the illusion of being sacred.
He remembered that first day, with the feeling that the fridge was watching him, and decided to try this in the kitchen. “Hey, uh...” Shit, what was its name? “H-Hakkai?”
“Holy fuck!” That whole suddenly appearing thing had to go before it gave him a heart attack. “Do you have to do that?”
“Strictly speaking, no, but one really doesn’t have many sources of entertainment after one’s death.”
“So you’re really...”
“Dead. Yes. That is generally how one becomes a spirit.”
Right. Stupid question. “Why are you haunting my house?”
“Your house?” Could ghosts be judgmental? This one sure as hell seemed to be. “Well, but, I suppose it would be now, technically. It’s certainly not the one I died in anymore.” He ignored Gojyo’s alarmed sputtering. “They tore that one down some years ago, and built this one on top. I could have moved on, then, but I was very angry.” He smiled brightly, leaving Gojyo to wonder again how ghosts could make even a gesture like that terrifying. “Still am, quite honestly, but you don’t seem entirely a bad person, and I must admit I admire your courage.”
“Courage?” Obviously the ghost, Hakkai, could see something he couldn’t.
“Mm, yes. You are standing here talking to a ghost.”
“...Right.” Silly him, how could he have forgotten? “So you’re... not going to try to kill me or anything, are you?”
“Don’t you think I would have done so long before now, had I wished to?” Maybe Hakkai had been scary before he was a ghost, so he was extra scary now. “Besides, I think I may enjoy having company again after so long.”
With that, the ghost blinked out of sight. “Wait! I didn’t- Crap.” Gojyo turned a slow circle, but the kitchen seemed completely back to normal. A normal that, for once, didn’t include the hair-raising feeling of being watched. “...Hakkai?”
This time there was no answer.
Gojyo shuddered, doing his best to shake the entire encounter out of his mind. So what if he had a ghost? It gave the house character, yeah? Yeah. Totally character. He grabbed a beer out of the fridge, being careful not to look into the polished surface too long, and headed out onto his patio for a good, long smoke. It was a nice night, and he’d definitely earned it.
In the now-empty kitchen, the quiet was broken by soft laughter as his forgotten ashtray picked itself up to go join him.
This entry was originally posted at http://envious-muses.dreamwidth.org/17667.html.