"Of all the people I had to be stuck with, why did it have to be Runo?" Dan thought bitterly as the pair walked silently in the mansion. The bluenette was the one that held the candle, and her face was filled with caution and hints of fear. She wasn't the same scared little girl that played this game when she was twelve, but even now, it was still frightening. She had trouble deciding whether having Dan beside her was a reassuring thing or not.
"Hey, Dan, why did you want to play this game again, anyway? Remember what happened last time?"
"I dunno, I honestly wanted to see Spectra scared, but I guess I didn't think this through."
"You sure didn't. I wonder why I even let myself get caught in to this..."
The two of them were silent for a while. They were both walking down one of the many long, narrow hallways in the mansion. Everywhere the candle's soft glow reached was something that looked far scarier than normal, like all the doors that were spread out across them, each one could've opened at any moment and something could've jumped out at them. They really didn't want that to happen. It went on like this for quite some time...trying to find a window so that they can tell that they're not in some kind of horrible nightmare and they're just in someone's house.
They both attempted to ignore what sounded like footsteps other than theirs behind them; thinking that it was their own imagination.
Alice whimpered as her hand trembled while holding the candle. She had somehow lost her partner, Shadow, as they were walking around the higher floors of the mansion. Where he was now, she didn't know, but the more important fact was that she was all alone with no one else around. She really wished that she wasn't playing this game, and hoped that she would bump in to someone sooner or later.
Out of the blue, she heard someone sniffling close by. She tried to dismiss it, but then as she moved closer, it sounded more and more real, and much louder too. There was no light coming from that direction, but her own candle showed that there was indeed someone there. Someone small...
"T-that jerk...leaving me all alone..." came the voice of a certain little Ventus brawler. The Darkus brawler was surprised. "Lync?"
The figure looked up and saw the orange-yellow glow. "Y-you're the n-nice girl..." before she could say anything else, the chibi wailed and just hung around her waist; the girl's dress now being somewhat drenched in the boy's tears. She was at first shocked, but then she simply smiled and tried to comfort him. "There, there...it's okay..."
"I hope that everyone else is okay..." Gale muttered as he held the candle with such a steady grip that it looked like he could do it forever. Baron was walking close to his leg, reacting to the smallest creak that some of the floorboards made when stepped on. "I...I don't like Halloween, Gale."
"Baron, Halloween isn't about scaring other people. For kids, it's supposed to be a fun holiday where you go trick-or-treating and get a lot of free candy."
"Candy? Really?" his eyes lit up at the sound of the word; his fear had washed away and was now replaced with curiosity.
"Yeah, though I myself only experienced it once. I bet Dan and the others have been doing it ever since he started school."
"H-how do you get candy? Can you tell me?"
The teen smiled. Talking should pass the time for the both of them, and the topic wasn't really scary either. "Well, you see..."
"It feels like forever since we stepped in to this house." Julie whined.
"No kidding. How long do you think we've been in here, twenty, thirty minutes?" Marucho added with a downcast expression.
"I don't know. I just hope that 3:33am will come soon..."
The silence that hung between Shun and Hydron was deafening despite nothing was going on at all. Shun was the one that held the candle, and as they traversed the ground floor, he swore that he heard something moving around, and it didn't sound human. The two soon passed the living room where the pairings were picked, but now in the darkness it looked like a mere bunch of objects that were obscuring their path. "This is stupid." Hydron said bluntly.
"At least someone agrees with me." the Ventus brawler nodded once.
"Why do you hang out with that kid, anyway? He's nothing more than an irritating nuisance."
He simply smirked. "Maybe so, but he's still my best friend."
"...I don't get how having friends would do you any good. Allies, sure, but friends? What's the point?"
"It's not exactly something that can be easily explained..." the ravenette muttered as he tried to think of something else to say. "Dan was...the person that pulled me from my solitary state when I was little. Without him, I wouldn't have been able to get through many things. Right now, he's just the same kid I grew up with in my childhood. Under that stubborn and hyperactive exterior is someone who truly cares about others no matter who they are."
"From all people, I didn't expect you to tell me this."
"Hmph. You won't understand the feeling until you experience it yourself. Maybe Gale will be able to shed some light on this."
"We'll have to see."
"I hate you, twerp."
"I hate you too, Mylene."
"It was your fault that we lost the game so quickly."
"Me? You're the one that let the candle's flame disappear!"
"And you were the one that didn't know how to work the matches! Matches, of all things!"
"As if you don't know how to do that too!"
"I do too! I'll show you right now."
"...well?" the Vestal asked with a smirk.
"...never speak of this to anyone or your head comes off."
He laughed. "That is if I could survive until 3:33am stuck in a salt circle beside you."
"Where exactly are we?" Volt mused aloud as he let the candle illuminate the walls around them. Gus didn't reply and was simply examining every little thing they passed. Spectra's loyal pet was very, very bored with this.
"Hm? I hear something from that room." the Haos brawler suddenly said. It caught the attention of the blue-haired male, and the both of them approached the door cautiously. They glanced at each other and both nodded before Gus reached for the knob and turned it slowly.
One peek in the room made them shut the door so fast that the sound echoed in the entire hallway. After shaking off their frozen condition, they bolted for another area while trying to keep the candle lit the whole way.
"...you're not making this any better, twerp."
"Just trying to make some conversation..."
"Okay, Dan, I swear, I think someone or something is stalking us."
"I know, but I can't really tell where it is." the brunette was glancing around as they were approaching a corner. Throughout the entire time, the sound of footsteps came and vanished time and time again. Sometimes it was so close that it seemed that the thing was right behind them, and sometimes it was far-as if it came from another hallway. Either way, the sound was loud and clear. The two weren't sure whether it was other people passing by them, or someone else entirely.
"R-R-Runo..." Dan suddenly stuttered.
"L-look there..." at the corner, a soft glow emerged from the darkness. Before they could even react, two familiar voices pierced through the heavy, quiet path. "As I recall, the Midnight Game is some kind of ritual for punishment in the olden days. While obviously people don't use that anymore as a way for someone to repent his crimes, the Midnight Game has suddenly gained popularity in the internet, with a lot of people trying it and telling their experiences. Actually, that's where I heard-"
"Gale?" the Pyrus brawler called. The voice stopped, and the glow grew brighter until two figures appeared in their view. "Hey, it's you guys. I didn't expect to bump in to you."
"Have you been telling these kinds of stuff this entire time, Gale?" Runo asked.
"Well yeah. It kind of lightens the mood. Right, Baron?"
"Yep!" the four-year-old piped nearby him.
"Err...can we join you?"
"Hm...well, I don't remember the rules saying anything about that, so why not? The more the merrier."
"Yay-" Dan then cut himself. "-I mean, I wasn't scared. I bet Baron was getting bored with you rambling all the time, so it's good that we're joining you."
"Actually, Master Dan, Gale's stories are really interesting."
"W-whatever! Let's just keep on moving. We don't want the Midnight Man to catch us."
At the mention of that, the youngest chibi shrunk back. "I-I don't want to meet the Midnight Man..."
"And so we move~" as the two chibis set out, Runo lingered nearby the teen and whispered. "Can't believe that jerk's a really good friend of yours."
Gale simply smiled back. "Can't believe that same jerk's your boyfriend."
"W-when is this game going to end..?" Lync asked Alice for probably the hundredth time. The girl wasn't tired of answering his question though as it was the same thing she asked herself every step she took. "Soon, Lync. We just have to keep it up for a while longer."
"But, how long?"
"If we keep thinking about that, then time would pass by slower. If we keep walking, it'll be 3:33am in no time."
"O-okay..." the little chibi allowed himself to believe her words and smiled.
"Man...it sure is dark around here..." Shadow mumbled with the same cocky yet somewhat anxious face. Exploring some of the rooms, he soon found a nice, big one with a bed just sitting there. With a yawn, he walked to it, jump on it, and fell asleep soon afterward...completely forgetting that while playing the Midnight Game, that wasn't allowed.
"Being stuck in the salt circle sucks." Gus muttered.
"What's better, seeing that thing again, or just sitting here?" Volt suddenly asked.
"...hm. Definitely sitting. I would like to kick the guy who made this game though."
"One more hour to go." Shun stated.
"How do you know?" Hydron asked; doubtful.
"Easy. I'm wearing a glow in the dark watch."
"I've been wearing one ever since Dan dragged me in to this game the first time."
"Now that I think about it, the way you and the others reacted when he mentioned that did strike me as odd. You actually played this before?"
"Yeah. One of those 'genius ideas' that he found in the internet. After playing that, he wouldn't go out of his house for a week."
"Hah, serves him right."
"Well yeah, but there was a very good reason why he acted that way."
"Hm? Really? What would that be? He actually saw the Midnight Man?"
"...that is what he claims."
Spectra with his candle had been wandering around slowly as he thought of a million ways to kill Dan for keeping him in this boredom of a game. It wasn't scary at all, yet the fact that he was still abiding to it made him wonder if he was wary about this 'Midnight Man'. He would rather get some sleep than play this, but it would soon be over, anyway. Once that happens, the little brat won't ask to play it again. Hopefully.
As he crossed hallway after hallway, he soon heard a sound of small sniffling. He recognized it anywhere. "Mira?"
"K-Keith, is that you?" her higher, more child-like voice replied. With his light source at hand, he approached the sobbing Vestal who was sitting in a badly done salt circle and her unlit candle beside her. "Y-you're here..." she mumbled softly; a little hard to understand from her sniveling. The teen's expression didn't change, but inside, his mind was screaming to help her out. He had ignored that feeling for the longest time-the feeling of being an older brother, yet now, he didn't mind his 'emotions' winning over. Just this one night.
And so without hesitating, he blew his candle, which surprised the child more than anything. Softly and incoherently, he counted to ten while taking out the package of salt in his pocket. "Three...four...five..." he then spread it around him and Mira, and just sat down beside her as he continued counting. "Seven...eight...nine...ten. Looks like I can't move anymore, I'll have to stay here."
He turned to her and showed her a genuine smile. Even in the darkness, she could feel it-the very same smile that he always wore when they were younger. "Don't worry, I'll be here until the game ends, and even afterward."
Mira proceeded to cry as she hugged her older brother tightly. She thought of the game at first was ridiculous, but now she wished that it would never end, for this was the only time...in a long time...that her brother was with her, and no one else was going to disturb them.
"I think we lost." Marucho said.
"We're stuck in a salt circle waiting for the game to end. Does it feel like we lost?" Julie repeated.
"Hrm. You don't need to sound sarcastic about it."
"I wasn't sarcastic." the Aquos brawler just kept silent. He estimated that they had less than an hour left before the game ends, which was good, because this was starting to get awkward.
3:33am and onwards
"The game is done, fellow people. Thank you for playing the Midnight Game." a voice suddenly echoed in the darkness. Right after that, all the lights turned on, and everyone rejoiced.
Tadashi, the mansion's butler, simply smiled as he stretched his arms in the control room. It was finally done and over with, and now he can finally sleep. All those triggers with the creepy noises and footsteps got him tired.
Shadow, meanwhile, was still snoring away in the room with a fake dead hand on top of his belly. He was going to have one heck of a wakeup call later.
"Dan, remind me that if you suggest this game ever again, I'm going to put anestesia on you."
"Isn't that a bit rough, Runo?"
"Oh, I'm very serious."
"The game's done, isn't that what counts?" Gale chided.
"'Xactly, Master Dan. Master Gale is right."
"When did you start calling him master, Baron?"
And the rest of the night was filled with random conversations, stifled yawns, and finally sleep. When Gale's parents decided to come to the mansion to check on them, they were surprised to find twelve kids, three girls, a young man, and their son sleeping all on the couches. They simply beamed and decided to cook breakfast for them as a surprise for their return. They couldn't wait for everybody to wake up to a fresh new day. The day of spooks and treats was over.