“Are you sure this is the right one?” Shiro asked for the third time.
Keith rolled his eyes. ”Yes I’m sure.”
“Maybe they changed the locks or something,” Pidge said, shuffling the box in her arms for a better grip. “We can ask the office if they have the new keys somewhere.”
“It’s not the key,” Keith grumbled, stepping back so the others could see the lock. The key turned with a click but when he jiggled the knob, the door held fast. “I think the door’s jammed. Or something’s blocking it.”
“Maybe your roommates decided to prank you on your first day,” Pidge snickered.
“I don’t have any roommates,” Keith said drily, resorting to shoving at the door with his shoulder. “Everyone requested I not be put in their dorms this year so I got a room to myself.”
Shiro’s face pinched with concern. “Why is that?”
“Drop it Shiro.”
Keith paused long enough to give him a warning glare. “Just drop it.”
Shiro seemed doubtful while Pidge was quick to change the subject.
“Maybe it’s the ghost. Everyone said this floor is super haunted.”
“Is that the only reason you’re here, Pidge?” Keith asked, still wrestling with the stubborn door. “I thought it was weird you wanted to help.”
She gasped in mock offence. “I’ll have you know I offered to help you move in out of the goodness of my heart.”
“And to try to find a ghost.”
“Well obviously. You can’t have all the fun.”
“Please don’t set up night vision cameras in my room or something. If there is a ghost, I don’t need two of you watching me sleep.”
“How dare you deny scientific research!”
“Is that what they’re calling it now? Some would call it ‘invasion of privacy’.”
Pidge huffed. “Whatever, you would do the same thing if it was Bigfoot.”
“Bigfoot, no. Mothman, maybe.”
Behind them, Shiro sighed. “Enough, you two. Can we continue this…scientific discussion inside, please?”
“I’m working on it, Shiro.”
Keith winced as the fifth shove jolted his shoulder but the door still refused to budge. Shiro nudged him out of the way and added his much taller and bulkier weight against the wood.
“Should we knock?” Pidge said as the two men continued their assault on the door. “Maybe we have to be invited in. Should we have brought an offering or something? Maybe a pizza? Do ghosts like pizza? Ooh I know, a virgin sacrifice! You’re still a virgin, right Keith?”
“Keep it up, you’ll be the next ghost haunting the building.”
Shiro pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath. “Keith, no threatening people in public. Pidge, don’t encourage him. Now come help us push.”
“Ugh fiiiiine.” She set the box down and shouldered in between the two taller men.
“On three,” Shiro said, taking a step back. “One…Two…Three!”
All three shoved against the door and tumbled into the room as it finally gave way and swung open with a bang.
“Ooooow get off!” Pidge snapped, elbowing Keith in the ribs. “I wanted to be a ghost not a pancake!”
“You’re not the only one who fell, you know,” Keith retorted, squirming his legs out from under Shiro as the older man shuffled around to prop himself up on his real arm.
“At least we finally got inside,” Shiro offered with an optimistic grin. The others answered with dry looks before trudging back into the hall and dragging Keith’s stuff inside.
Pidge immediately began running around the dorm room in glee. They checked everything from the worn couches to the cabinets and empty fridge before disappearing down the hallway leading to the bedrooms.
“Is that everything?” Shiro asked, looking over the two boxes and duffle bag kicked out of the way.
Keith shrugged. “Yeah I didn’t think I’d need much stuff in the first week.”
“If you say so. Just let me know if you need anything. I can drop it off before work or something.”
“I’ll be fine. I’ve managed with less before.”
Shiro frowned again but didn’t argue.
“Hey Keith?” Pidge called, her head appearing around the corner of the hall.
“You sure you don’t have a roommate? One of the rooms is already locked up.”
He followed her around the corner and down the hall. Three doorways branched off, the closest on leading to a tiny bathroom. Across the hall was a small, plain bedroom. At the end, Pidge was fiddling with the handle of a firmly shut door.
Keith shrugged. “It might just be a storage room. Or supply closet.”
“Or the ghost!” She dropped her backpack, immediately tearing it opening and digging around inside. “I’ll see if I can get it open!”
“No breaking and entering, Pidge! I might be off duty but that’s still illegal!” Shiro called from the other room. Keith just shook his head and made his way back down the hall.
“No problems now,” Shiro said, easily swinging the front door shut. “Might have just been a jam. I’ll take a look if it keeps giving you problems.”
“It’s fine, I can always let the maintenance guy know. With how old this place is, I doubt I’m the only one having issues.”
A metallic clatter followed by a wooden creak echoed through the dorm. “I’M IN!”
Shiro and Keith both sighed, each grabbing a box before heading back towards the bedrooms. The third door was now ajar, a beaming Pidge tossing tools back in her bag.
“Pidge, what did I tell you about breaking and entering?” Shiro sighed.
“That you won’t arrest me because you’re dating my brother,” she shot back. Shiro looked equal parts embarrassed and tired while Keith held in his snickering.
Pidge shoved the door open and glanced around the room, the two men crowding in behind her to see. “Well, no ghost, but it looks like you’ve got a roommate.”
Dust floated through the air and coated the tiny window. A handful of boxes were scattered around the floor and perched on the bed. A few had writing on the side to label the packed items. Some had a name written as well that Keith could barely make out from across the room.
“That’s weird.” Keith checked his assignment sheet again but found no other name listed. “Maybe there was a last minute change or something.”
Shiro smiled, carrying the box into the second bedroom. “At least you won’t be alone.”
“You say that like it’s a good think,” Keith muttered, shifting his own heavy box awkwardly to drop it on the bed. Dust kicked up, making his eyes water and nose itch uncomfortably. “If you guys happen to find the box with cleaning supplies, let me know.”
“Will do. We can help you clean up after we move everything,” Shiro offered, dropping a duffle bag on the floor.
“No, it’s fine. I’ll probably just tidy up tonight and wait to deep clean this weekend.”
“If you say– Pidge!” Shiro’s sudden booming voice made Keith jump as the older man stomped into the other bedroom. He reemerged a moment later, hauling Pidge with him by the back of her jacket. “You can’t go snooping through someone’s stuff, especially when they’re not here. Come on, we need to help Keith unpack and get going. Your brother’s expecting us back soon.”
“You guys never let me have any fuuuuuuun,” Pidge groaned. She trudged into Keith’s new room, flinging herself onto the bed.
“I’ve got it from here if you guys need to go,” Keith said, leaning against the wall to take in the cramped space. Pidge had already ripped open one of the boxes and was digging through the mess of clothes.
“Why? Afraid we’ll find something we shouldn’t?” she winked. Keith scowled and crossed his arms.
“No. I just have a sense of privacy, unlike some people. Besides, it’s a long drive and it’s already late. And you’re probably tired from driving all the way here in the first place and–”
“Keith it’s fine,” Shiro interrupted, giving him a reassuring smile. “I don’t mind and despite Pidge’s complaining, she doesn’t either. That’s what friends do. Besides, I’ll feel better knowing you’re settled in before we leave.”
Sighing, Keith relented with a small smile. “Thanks.”
“Great! Now let’s see what kind of secrets I can blackmail you with,” Pidge cackled, digging through the box while Shiro unzipped the duffle bag and started separating out clothes onto the mattress.
Keith huffed a laugh and turned to grab the last box when he noticed someone hovering near the doorway.
He was tall and slender with a tawny complexion and short, chestnut hair. His brilliant, crystal blue eyes nearly glowed with rage as they stared Keith down. Before Keith could react, the other young man whipped around and marched towards the other bedroom, the echoing slam of the door making him wince.
“What was that?!” Pidge yelped, nearly tipping the box off the bed. Shiro jumped and turned towards the noise, too late to see the other man leave.
Keith sighed, folding his arms tighter as he glowered at the floor. “My roommate.”
It didn’t take long to finish unpacking the rest of Keith’s things and stow them away in the limited closet and drawer space the room had to offer. Shiro and Pidge said their goodbyes, sharing tight hugs and loud complaints from Pidge, before leaving Keith to his not quite empty dorm.
Keith’s roommate didn’t show his face for the rest of the night. Even when Keith checked over his schedule in the living room and snacked on some left over pizza he brought from Shiro’s. Only the occasional shuffle or creak gave evidence to him being there at all.
He considered knocking on the door, hoping a proper introduction would make things less awkward, but the memory of blue eyes staring daggers at him kicked the notion in the head.
It was still early when exhaustion crept up on Keith. He shoved the last of the pizza in the fridge and shuffled back to his room, staying awake long enough to get ready for bed before collapsing on the uncomfortable mattress.
Keith awoke a few hours later to a strange noise invading his sleep. Jolting upright, the unfamiliar surroundings became recognizable as his eyes adjusted to the dark. A glance at the clock told him it was nearly three in the morning.
He flopped back down on the bed, ready to pass out again but the noise reached his ears again and made him sit up. It was almost too quiet to hear, drifting in from outside his bedroom. Grabbing his knife, Keith crept to the door and cracked it open to peer into the hall.
Keith didn’t see anything but the sound continued from somewhere in the common room. Swinging his door open, Keith followed the noise, stubbing his toe against the couch as he groped blindly in the dark.
As he woke up more, Keith realized the noise was music, quiet and soothing in a language he didn’t understand. He followed the song until he bumped his hip against the kitchen counter and found the source.
A small, portable radio was shoved to the back of the counter near the sink. Squinting in the dark, Keith felt out the buttons and finally clicked it off. Eerie silence filled the kitchen as he set it back down.
Retracing his steps through the dark, Keith couldn’t shake the prickling sensation of being watched. It made his skin crawl and the grip on his knife tightened as he finally stumbled back to his room. Tossing the knife on the nightstand, Keith collapsed back into bed, exhaustion dragging him back to sleep as the distant hum of a song lulled over him.