"I have an idea."
Those are four words you never want to hear Junior say, especially not after he’s spent the past three hours eating nothing but junk food. He was hyped up on sugar and Soda's company - a bad combination all around.
"No more truth or dare," Zon said, eyes widening in panic, as if just the thought of it made him shiver, and not in a good way. Perhaps it wouldn't be as awkward for him this time, since he and Saifah were now officially a couple, but apparently he didn't want to test it.
Junior huff indigently, as if offended by the thought. "No, of course not! We did that last time, and it turned into everyone watching Fighter and Tutor make out. I've seen enough of that nastiness to last a lifetime!"
Fighter hooked an arm around Tutor's shoulder, smirking ever so slightly. "You sure?" He asked innocently, nuzzling Tutor's cheek with his nose. "Because I wouldn't mind if we played again..." He kissed Tutor on the cheek, earning himself a sharp jab to the side with Tutor's elbow. It was shocking how close they had become after going away for their weekend trip.
Tanthai tried not to think about that, though, because it was painfully obvious what that 'vacation' had entailed.
"Guys, stop it," Hwahwa scolded them, making Fighter flush. "What's your idea, Junior? Another game?"
His eyes glinted wickedly - yet another bad sign. "Have you guys ever played mafia before?"
"Ooh, yes, I love mafia!" Soda gasped, her approval only fueling Junior more.
"I made up a version that's a bit more interesting, with more characters," Junior said, jumping into it now that he had everyone's attention. "Do you guys want to play? We have a big enough group, especially since Champ and Zen joined us this time."
Zen nodded nervously, looking like he regretted that decision now. Not that Tanthai blamed him.
"Won't that get confusing?" Blue asked.
"It's not that complicated, don't worry," Junior assured him. "I'll explain everything in detail. First, there's a couple mafias, and their role is pretty self explanatory. Every night they pick one person to kill, same as usual. The medic is the same, too. The detective can pick one person to view the role of each night, but instead of finding out for themselves, one random player finds out instead."
"That's a cool idea, actually," Soda said, and Junior practically beamed.
Japan sighed. "What else?" He prompted.
"There's also a traitor, who is on the mafia's side, but they can't help kill. Their job is to throw the townsfolk off the mafias trail. They can also mute one person per night. There's a vigilante, who gets one kill for the entire game. Their goal is to kill a mafia, though they could just as easily kill an innocent. And then there's my favorite role, which is the serial killer. Their goal is to kill everyone, and the only way they win is when everyone is dead, or if they're the only one left. The last role is the cupid, who picks two people to be lovers."
"I've played with that one before," Day spoke up. "If one lover dies so does the other, right?"
"Yep! See, not that complicated, right?"
He received multiple blank stares, and had to go over the whole thing once more until everyone got it, at least partially.
"I get the rules, so I can be the narrator, if everyone is okay with that," Day offered, and the rest of them agreed.
Junior got out thirteen slips of paper and wrote down the roles while the others arranged themselves in a lopsided circle. Tanthai noticed how Zon made sure to sit next to Saifah, seemingly unable to leave his boyfriend's side.
"Don't cheat, you can’t see anyone else’s roles or it'll ruin the game," Junior said, passing out the slips of paper. "Also, one thing I forgot to mention. You cannot kill the narrator or yourselves, unless you're the serial killer, and then you can kill yourself if you want...I don't know why you would, but you can. Oh, and cupid can't pair themselves with someone else, because I know at least half of you would. I'm looking at you, Fighter."
Tanthai took a piece of paper from Junior, hoping that he'd be anything but a townsperson. Every time he played he got stuck doing nothing.
He opened the slip, keeping his face neutral as he read it.
Dozens of possibilities flashed through his mind. He could pick Champ and Zen, because he knew his friend liked the football captain despite how adamantly he protested against it, or he could pick an already existing couple, but that seemed too nice. He could pair Soda up with someone else to make Junior mad, but it wasn't enough. And then it hit him. Junior and Zon.
"Everyone go to sleep," Day said after everyone had put their papers back. Tanthai obeyed, closing his eyes. First Day had the mafias wake up, then the medic, then the detective. He waited until he called for the cupid, and after looking around at the bowed heads, he pointed first to Zon, then Junior. Day rolled his eyes, but wrote it down anyways and told him to go back to sleep.
After everyone else had gone, Day called for them to wake up.
"Last night," Day started, getting into character. "Something tragic happened. We lost not one, but two dear citizens. Fighter, Tutor…” he paused dramatically. “You two are safe, but seriously, stop clinging to each other."
"Soda and Zen were both killed in the middle of the night, and unfortunately, the town medic got confused and went to the wrong house. The detective did their best to find the perpetrators, but apparently they aren't very smart and decided to investigate one of the deceased instead. Soda's identity will be revealed to one player at random." Day handed her slip of paper to Zon. Zon just nodded, looking disappointed.
Citizen, if Tanthai had to guess.
"You have five minutes to discuss," Day said, sitting back down.
"I would like to point out how suspicious Tanthai looked when he read his role," Junior said. "He was smiling. Either he's a mafia or the traitor, I just know it."
Tanthai didn't expect to be put on the spot, especially not this early in the game. "No, that's not why I was smiling. I was just glad I got a role this time, it doesn't mean it's a bad role! You know I'm always a nobody."
"That is true," Zon said, backing him.
"What about Junior then? He was quick to accuse," Fighter said.
"So are you, to be fair," Saifah said smoothly. "The point of the game is to accuse each other. Besides, it was a fair point."
Dew spoke up before the two could argue any more. "I heard Zon move around a lot last night. I don't know if he’s something or not, just thought we should think about it. He could've just been fidgety."
"Or his boyfriend was poking him," Zon said, shooting Saifah a withering glare. The taller boy simply smiled, feigning innocence.
"We need to narrow it down, we can’t just throw out random accusations," Tutor said. "We only have a few minutes left."
"P’Tutor, what are you?" Blue asked suddenly, and Tutor blinked.
"Uh, the medic?" He said, and Tanthai noticed how he hesitated, the unsure tone in his voice making it hard to miss.
"That's a good idea, we should all say our roles, just to see if there are any inconsistencies," Dew said. "I'm the vigilante."
"I'm the detective," Saifah said.
Hwahwa claimed to be a townsperson, along with Fighter, Zon, Champ, and himself. There were only four townspeople, and though Tanthai knew he was lying, that didn't mean the other four weren't as well. Sometimes townsfolk claimed to be something else to look less suspicious.
"I'm a mafia," Junior said, and everyone laughed. He always claimed to be one, whether he was or not.
Blue looked around the circle. "I'm the cupid," he said, and Japan frowned.
"But I am," he said, and hushed whispers filled the room. Tanthai held back a smile. Interesting.
"Well one of you is lying," Hwahwa said.
Or both of you, Tanthai silently added.
"Let's worry about them later, first we need to deal with the most suspicious, and that's Tutor. He acted too guilty when he said he was the medic, and he refused to look anyone in the eye. That's never a good sign," Saifah said. "I accuse him."
"He's right, he was acting weird. I second that," Tanthai agreed.
"You guys made a choice?" Day asked.
"Yes, we're voting for Tutor," Champ said.
"Okay, everyone hold their thumbs out. Up means safe, down means out. On the count of three, okay?" Everyone nodded in understanding. "One...two...three..." Day trailed off, counting the extended thumbs. Only Tutor and Zon voted up. Not even Fighter thought his boyfriend was innocent.
Tutor scowled. "You guys will regret that."
"Everyone go back to sleep," Day said, ignoring him. "Mafia, wake up. Who would you like to kill?" A pause, and Tanthai swore he heard Blue giggle, muffled as it may be. "Alright, and who does the traitor want to mute? Again? Okay, go back to sleep. Medic, who do you want to save?" Another pause. This time, it was Day that laughed. "Okay, okay, I'm not surprised. Go back to bed. Uh...serial killer, I guess?"
He went through everyone else, until Tanthai was growing antsy, just sitting with his eyes closed. His job was done already.
"Everyone wake up," Day said. "Last night, the mafia attempted to kill another one of our fellow townsfolk. This time, however, the medic managed to save them."
Tanthai turned to Blue - his current biggest suspect - to see if he looked guilty, but he kept his face blank.
"Wait..." Fighter said slowly. "What about the serial killer?"
Day shrugged. "Can't say, but they didn't kill anyone."
"Probably muted," Japan muttered to Tanthai under his breath. Tanthai wasn't so sure. Day had said 'again,' meaning the traitor muted the same person, and the serial killer killed someone the night before. Maybe they both went for the same person? Or the mafia killed the serial killer the first round, meaning it was either Zen or Soda.
"Who did the detective pick?" Junior asked.
"No one," Day said.
Champ's eyes widened. "Did we kill them?"
Fighter looked over at Tutor, who had moved back so he was no longer in the circle, his lips twitching up into a triumphant, I-told-you-so smirk.
"Whoops," Saifah muttered.
"It's fine, we can still win this," Hwahwa said. "We need to focus. Whose roles don't we know yet?"
"Zen and Soda, who are both dead, and we're still unsure about Japan and Blue," Dew said. "Personally, I can't see Japan lying, and Blue is such a naughty rascal that we can safely establish that he’s lying, so my guess is Japan is the real cupid."
Blue pouted, tucking himself under Dew's arm. "Am not," he insisted, as if he weren't snuggling up the older boy as he spoke.
"He doesn't strike me as suspicious, though," Saifah said. "At least, not yet. Most people lie about their role, even if they're innocent."
"One minute left," Day interrupted.
"I'm still suspicious of Zon, he's strangely loud during night time and he agrees with everything we say, which is what the mafia usually does," Junior said, pointing his finger at the shorter boy.
Zon gasped, sputtering over his words as he tried to defend himself. "But...it's not me!" He protested. "I'm just a civilian!"
"You have to do better than that, my Zon," Saifah teased, slinging an arm across his shoulders.
Zon flushed. "But I'm telling the truth!"
Fighter shook his head, not convinced. "I'll second that accusation," he said, and Tanthai nodded in agreement.
"Okay, let's vote. One, two - Junior put your other hand down, you can only vote once - one." Day counted the votes, which turned out to be a near tie. "Six verses four. Sorry Zon, you're still out. And so is Junior, since you two are the secret lovers."
Tanthai was proud of how well he managed to hide his own grin when Zon jerked back like he had been shocked, while Junior made a melodramatic gagging noise. Saifah stiffened, pulling Zon closer to him as if he thought their relationship was threatened, by Junior of all people.
"That's not fair, why didn't you put me with Soda?" Junior turned to Japan, who blinked, startled by the sudden question.
"Well, you should be thankful to him, or you'd have died the first round," Tanthai said, playing along for now. Japan gave him a small, grateful smile, which made it worth it in Tanthai's mind.
"Everyone go back to sleep," Day said, reciting the same thing he had the previous two rounds. This time, Tanthai listened for movement from Japan, but even though they were sitting just a few inches apart, he couldn't hear anything. Was he innocent, or just really quiet?
Once the night had ended and Day told everyone to open their eyes, Tanthai scooted closer to Japan, simply letting their shoulders brush for the time being. Japan set a hand on Tanthai's knee, acknowledging his presence and making Tanthai smile.
"We have lost another man tonight," Day started. "Fighter, please move out of the circle."
The betrayal in Fighter's eyes was almost comical as he looked around the circle, searching for the one that killed him. Eventually he gave up and moved back to sit with Tutor, who was doing a poor job of hiding his laughter.
"The medic was unable to save him. Does anyone have an accusation?"
Saifah's hand shot up. "I'm still suspicious of the two that claim to be cupid, specifically Japan. He didn't say anything until after Blue claimed to be it first. I don't know, it seems a bit sketchy to me."
Champ looked at him. "Sketchy?" He echoed, and Saifah shrugged.
"I believe him," Tanthai spoke up, not missing the way Junior rolled his eyes.
"Of course you'd defend your boyfriend," Dew said. "Personally, I think Blue is the real cupid."
"Hypocritic," Tanthai fired back. “And weren’t you just accusing him during the last round? What changed?”
“I changed my mind,” he said stubbornly.
Blue pouted, poking at Dew's shoulder. "The more you try to defend me, the guiltier I look. I'm not going to argue, because I know I'm the real cupid, and if you guys don't believe me I don't think I can convince you otherwise. But I think P’Japan has a good reason for lying, he's probably the detective or something and is trying to throw the mafia off his trail." He smiled, but Tanthai wasn't going to fall for his cuteness.
Blue had to be a mafia, he had no doubt about it.
"That doesn't sound like something a mafia would say," Champ said, and Japan shrugged hopelessly.
"I'm not a mafia, either," he said.
Hwahwa's head shot up just then. "Wait, who did the detective pick? Are they dead?"
Day smiled. "Can't say."
"We're doomed," Champ groaned.
"We can still win, I'm sure of it," Saifah said. "We just need to play smart. I think getting rid of one of the mafias would be the smartest decision, and since there's only one person we've confirmed, I think it's obvious what we have to do."
Tanthai tensed, wrapping his arms protectively around Japan's waist. "He's innocent," he insisted, but judging by the doubtful looks on everyone else's faces, they didn't agree. When they held out their thumbs to vote, only Japan and Tanthai voted to save him.
"Japan is out," Day said. "Everyone go back to sleep."
"Wait," Tanthai said, pushing Japan's arms out of the way and crawling into his lap. Once he had situated himself he closed his eyes, smiling when he felt Japan's arms wrap around him.
"Mafia, wake up," Day said. Tanthai couldn't focus on who was making noise, not this time, not when Japan was holding him close like this. "Alright, I see. Makes sense to me, I'd do the same thing. Vigilante, wake up. Would you like to use your kill? Okay, okay."
When they opened their eyes, Day was laughing.
"Well, the mafia and the vigilante both seemed to have something against Tanthai, since they both wanted to kill him," Day said, and Tanthai gasped indignantly.
"It's probably because you're being so gross with your boyfriend," Junior said from across the circle.
"You're just jealous because you're still single," Tanthai shot back. "And you're not supposed to talk, you're dead."
"So are you!"
Tanthai stuck out his tongue, snuggling back against his boyfriends chest as he watched the scene before him unfold. Now that he was dead, he couldn't talk, and he regretted not saying something about Blue sooner, because now he had lost his chance.
"Why didn't the medic heal anyone? Day never even mentioned him. Do you think Tanthai is the medic?" Dew asked.
"I know Tutor claimed to be the medic, but obviously that's not true, since the medic healed P’Champ the next round," Saifah said. "Or maybe P’Champ is the medic and has been healing himself?"
Champ shook his head, and though it wasn't the most convincing argument by any stretch, it seemed good enough for the time being because Saifah dropped the subject, switching instead to accusing Dew.
"P’Dew hasn't been acting that suspicious, though," Hwahwa pointed out.
"Or maybe it's you, you've been way too calm," Saifah said. "You're being just talkative enough to not look suspicious while still not drawing attention to yourself."
"Why, you...what?" She stammered, her cheeks reddening. Her expression had been so relaxed that Tanthai hadn't even thought that she might be hiding something, but her poker face dropped as soon as she was accused. "I'm not! I'm a townsperson! And how come no one has said anything about you? You claimed to be the detective, but you've only checked on someone once!"
"I've been muted the past couple rounds," Saifah said, not seeming bothered by her weak protests. The panic in her eyes was telling enough. "Why are you getting so worked up? Are you a part of the mafia?"
"I'm one of the good guys," she insisted, a little too late.
"Who wants to second my accusation?" Saifah asked, and after a moment of hesitation, Blue raised his hand. Hwahwa's betrayal was tangible in the air as she was voted off, and she shot Saifah a bitter glare as she moved back to sit outside the circle.
"Go to sleep," Day said, and this time, Tanthai got to keep his eyes open. "Mafia, you know the drill. Wake up and pick someone to kill."
Not surprisingly, Blue woke up first, grinning mischievously as he scanned the room. Saifah woke up as well, a smug look on his face. Blue pointed to Champ, who 'slept' peaceful at his side. Tanthai glanced over at Zen, who was watching the back of Champ's neck with something akin to reverence, and Tanthai made a face. Did he look at Japan that way? He'd like to think not.
"And traitor, who do you want to mute?" Saifah pointed at Dew, and Day sighed. "You know there are other people in this game, right? Go back to sleep. Medic, wake up."
Champ sat up, blinking as his eyes adjusted to the light. Zen looked away.
After pondering for a minute, he chose to heal Blue, and Tanthai could feel Japan's chest rumble with silent laughter against his back.
"Everyone wake up, the game has ended. Last night, Champ was killed, and since the mafia now outnumber the townsfolk, they won."
"Yes!" Saifah high fived Blue, and Dew beamed, laying his head on top of Blue's.
"You were the mafia and you never killed me," he said slowly, gently pulling Blue away from Saifah. "Does that mean something, hmm?"
"Nah," Blue said, shaking his head, a sweet smile on his lips. "We muted you almost every round, though. Saifah thought you were the detective."
Hwahwa stood up and marched over to Saifah, who was laughing. "We were on the same team, what the heck?" She scowled.
"Wait, who were the mafias?" Zon asked.
"Blue, Hwahwa, and Junior," Day said. "Saifah was the traitor."
"So Japan was the real cupid, then?" Champ asked.
"No, I was!" Tanthai said cheerfully, flashing his friends his biggest smile, and Zon turned to look at him with his lips curled back in disgust. Junior mirrored his expression, making Tanthai burst out laughing. Their expressions were hilarious.
"I should've known," Junior said, shaking his head.
"P’Champ, you were the medic, right?" Blue asked, and Champ nodded in confirmation. "Then...Tutor was the detective, and Dew was the vigilante?"
"Yep," Day confirmed.
"Wait, that means the serial killer had to be either Soda or Zen, right?" Japan spoke up.
"Soda was just a civilian," Zon said. "I saw her card, remember?"
Zen smiled, coming back to sitting next to Champ, though keeping a decent amount of space between them. "No, I was."
"Wait, how did you die? We killed Soda," Hwahwa asked.
Zen shrugged. "I wanted to watch the full game, so I killed myself off."
Wanted to watch the game or Champ? Tanthai thought to himself, but he wouldn't embarrass his friend out loud, at least not now. As soon as it was just their close group, he'd bring it up.
"That was so much fun, even though I died right away," Tutor said. "P'Fight, you did so bad," he teased, and Fighter punched him lightly on the arm. Tanthai once again looked away, their flirting too much for him. Why couldn't they flirt like Saifah and Zon, who spent the entire night giving each other soft smiles? Tutor and Fighter were practically undressing each other with their eyes, and Tanthai felt like he was intruding on something private.
"Next round, if I have the ability to, I'll kill you right away, Saifah," Hwahwa promised, before getting up to go sit with her boyfriend.
Soda had been on her phone for most of the game, since she had been voted out right away, but now she was standing up, motioning for everyone to gather together for a picture. "We need to post this on our school page," she said, shooing Zen back into the group when he tried to sneak away. "It'll be a good promotion for the Cute Boys Page. Everyone get with their couple, and say cheese!"
"What if we don't have our own couple?" Champ joked.
Soda considered that for a minute, then pointed to Zen. "You're single too, aren't you? Go sit with P'Champ. You'll look cute together, I promise. C'mon, my battery is about to die!"
Tanthai smiled, holding up a peace sign like he usually did. Japan copied him, his chin resting on Tanthai's shoulder. In front of them, Dew was trying to get Blue to make a heart with him, but due to the size difference of their hands it came out lopsided. Fighter turned at the last minute to kiss Tutor on the cheek, and Saifah, apparently having a similar idea, gave Zon a quick peck on the lips, making him blush. Champ and Zen sat next to each other, and though their backs were to him, Tanthai could picture Zen's pleased smile.
"Okay, on three!" Soda said, making a heart with her forefinger and thumb. Junior managed to give her bunny ears at the last second, and though Soda scolded him for it, she didn't delete the picture. Day and Hwahwa hurried off to the kitchen once Soda had given them the okay, probably to get more snacks, since they had nearly run out already.
"Who wants to watch a movie next? I'm too tired for another round," Tutor said, and Fighter smirked, opening his mouth to speak, but Tutor shot him a glare, silencing him before he could say anything inappropriate.
"Get up," Japan said, tapping Tanthai's thigh to get his attention. "I have to use the restroom."
Tanthai obeyed, finding him and Japan a spot on the couch while he waited.
"I think this turned out to be another successful sleepover," Junior announced, flopping down next to Tanthai so hard the couch creaked. "We should really do this more often. I have another game idea!"
"Let's just finish this one, first," Dew said. "Too many of these and I might start losing brain cells."
"P'Dew, be nice," Blue scolded.
"He has a point," Zon pointed out.
"Guys, shush! I like to watch the commercials," Soda said as she took one of the matching chairs on the far end of the room. Champ took the other, motioning for Zen to join him. To Tanthai's surprise, he let Zen sit in his lap, the two of them exchanging shy smiles.
He hadn’t expected things to go this quickly. Maybe there was something between them after all.
"I'm back," Japan said, his eyes landing on Tanthai. He took the empty seat Tanthai had saved for him, and Tanthai moved in closer, not wanting even an inch of space between them. Call him clingy, but...okay, he wouldn't lie, he was most definitely clingy.
Looking around the room, he didn't feel too bad about it. Everyone else, with the exception of Junior and Soda, were sitting either next to or on top of their partner. Tanthai didn't feel too bad for Junior, though, when he looked over his shoulder and saw he was texting Soda as discreetly as possible, with his phone tucked halfway up his sleeve.
Most of the time their group was a chaotic mess, but they had their moments, like now, with everyone all quiet and sleepy, turning the majority of them snuggly - Saifah and Zon specifically.
Junior was right, Tanthai decided. So far, the night has been successful.
Now he just had to keep the house from burning down when they made breakfast the next morning.