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Clue

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    Rain dripped heavily on the windshield of the car louder than the heavy metal music playing inside. Connor had both hands on the wheel, which was unusual as one was usually resting on his boyfriend's thigh. He leaned forward, squinting to see the road.

    "Jare, are you sure we're heading the right way?" He asked, tapping impatiently.

    "Definitely." Jared shook his head. "We took the right exit, google maps said so." He frowned down at his phone. "Wait, it's not reloading. Come on, damn service-"

    "I'm pretty sure I've seen that weird stump before." Connor frowned, scrunching his face up.

    "No-"

    "Yes I have! I told you it looked like a person laying down!" Connor protested.

    "Actually you said it looked a dead person." Jared corrected, smirking.

     "The point is, we've been here before." Connor groaned, banging his hand on the wheel. "We've got to stop somewhere, I can see a thing in this rain."

     Thunder roared overhead as if the sky agreed.

    "But, but," Jared's bottom lip stuck out. "There's no where to stop, what if there's a murderer?"

    Connor rolled his eyes, "Don't think your boyfriend could save you?" He teased.

     "No, not really." Jared admitted, smirking.

      "Wait, there's a house here." Connor slowed the car down and pulled into a long driveway.

Jared's mouth fell agape as he stared at the house, or rather, mansion really. "It looks like it's haunted!"

Connor had to admit, it did. The house stood three stories tall, it's once bright green paint now dull and peeling off in large strips. The front porch was splintered in multiple places and the shingles were scattered around the lawn, where after they had fallen off no one had bothered to fix them.

Connor almost would've said that no one lived there if there wasn't a light on in the top floor of the house.

He parked the car and turned to Jared, who was looking even more freaked out.

"Scared?" Connor mocked, knowing this would get Jared up and out of the car.

Jared's eyes narrowed, "I'm not scared."

Connor cocked an eyebrow and crossed his arms, "Oh yeah? Prove it."

Just like that, Jared was swinging the car door open, stepping out into the rain and stomping through the mud up to the house. Connor quickly hurried to follow him, making sure to grab his satchel from the backseat.

"Jared, hold up-"

But he was already ringing the doorbell, giving Connor a smug look from a distance away.

"Who's scared now!" Jared called. Connor gave him a dirty look before falling, his boot had gotten stuck in the thick mud. He pulled and his foot came completely out of his shoe. He cussed under his breath as he attempted to pry it out.

Jared's face fell and he started to head towards Connor, when behind him the door swung open. He jumped, quickly turning to face the person in the doorway.

A boy scowled at him, squinting down suspiciously at Jared. His hair was a dark brown and slicked back. Jared could've thought he had looked quite distinguished, but his lack of a smile made him more horrifying. He seemed older than him, but not by too much. To top it off, he was about a foot taller than Jared.

Jared's eyes widened as he stood there in shock. "Uh, er, we're-"

     "Kinda lost." Connor had gotten his boot unstuck and now stood behind Jared. Jared looked up at him to see he was soaked from the rain, and his clothes were covered in mud.

     The boy seemed to relax a bit, he glanced around outside. "You're late." He said, taking them by the wrist and dragging them inside.

     "Late?" Jared questioned, struggling to keep up with the boy's long strides.

     "For the dinner party, we started an hour ago." The boy frowned at them. "We'll have to get you both a change of clothes, Mr. Scarlett and Professor Plum."

     Connor and Jared exchanged a look.

     "Uh, like clue?" Jared scrunched his face up, confused.

     "Mr. Scarlett, this is no time for games." The boy scorned, tugging them into a room.

     Before he knew it, Jared was dressed in a slimming white tuxedo with a deep red trim. He had a sparkly red tie to match, and his hair had been slicked back.

    "How do I look?" He giggled to Connor, who was dressed in a similar black tux with a purple bow tie.

    "Absolutely stunning, however," Connor dropped his voice. "I don't think we should be here."

    Jared looked up at him, "It's not like we didn't try to stop him. Besides, I'm kinda worried about what happens if we tell them we're not Mr. Scarlett and Professor Plum."

     "Good point." Connor nodded, he turned as the boy entered the room again, a jeweled cane in his hand.

    "For you." The boy handed Connor the cane.  Connor gladly accepted it. "Now you're both ready, we can head downstairs."

     "What's your name again?" Connor asked the boy.

    The boy seemed to have expected this question, for he nodded. "Why of course, I'm Mr.Boddy." He smiled. "Rude of me to not introduce myself being the host."

    They followed Mr.Boddy down the hall to a long set of stairs descending down to a basement.

     Jared and Connor entered a makeshift dining room. A table had been set up and four other people sat around it, each in just as elaborate clothing as Jared and Connor. They all looked out of place in the dusty and moldy basement.

    "I would like to announce the arrival of Mr.Scarlett and Professor Plum." Mr. Boddy tilted his upwards as if he was speaking to the ceiling.

    "Oh, that's wonderful!" A girl in purple cheered, pushing up her large circular glasses.

    "This is Ms. Peacock." Mr.Boddy introduced the girl. She smiled.

    "Pleasure to make your acquaintance. Now, I'm rather eager to get this started, I want to know why I was sent that letter." She frowned.

    "All will make sense in due time, Ms.Peacock." Mr. Boddy assured her.

    "No, she's right. I want to know what is happening!" The girl in a short yellow dress stood up and banged her fists on the table.

    "Colonel Mustard, please take a seat. I'm just going to serve dinner and we'll get everything sorted out, don't worry." Mr. Boddy told her, and promptly left to supposedly serve dinner.

    "I just don't understand why we're here." The Colonel sat down and crossed her arms.

    "So how does someone your age become a Colonel?" Jared teased, trying to lighten the heavy mood that hung in the air.

    "I'm not, it's the dumb alias he gave me." She glared at him. Jared glanced at the boy that had not been introduced yet. He was pale and wore a white suit quite similar to Jared's.

    "Let me guess, you're Mr. White?" Jared chuckled. Somehow the boy seemed to get even paler.

    "Uh, yes, actually." He scratched the back of his neck.

    Jared gave a small chuckle and was glad when Ms.Peacock spoke up. "So, you all received letters too I'm guessing?" She pulled her invitation out of her pocket. "About... unsavory things?"

    Uncomfortable silence settled in the room. Jared was starting to wish they hadn't pulled over.

    With a loud clank, the door to the basement burst open as Mr.Boddy came back down, carrying a large tray. He gracefully went around the table, setting down bowls of chowder. When he set one down in front of Jared, he noticed a red envelope on his plate. Beside him, he saw Connor had a purple one. Everyone else at the table lacked this strange letter of sorts.

    Carefully, Jared lifted the letter from its spot and opened it, pulling out a dark red parchment.

    Dear Jared Kleinman,

    What the hell? How did he know his name?

    Jared continued to read the letter, feeling sicker and sicker by the second. By the end, he didn't feel like touching the food at all.

    How the hell did they find out? He had hidden it so well!

    Jared looked over at Connor, who was still looking at his letter and holding the exact same expression as Jared.

    Connor couldn't find out about what was in his letter.

    He'd kill someone to prevent it.

Chapter Text

     "Now, I'm sure you're all concerned about the things said in your letters." Mr.Boddy stood at the end of the table, carefully eyeing every one of his guests.

    "That's what we've been saying all night." Mustard snorted.

    Jared noticed no one had eaten their soup.

     "Since we have everyone here now, I can explain. I've gathered you all here today because I learned about your wrongdoings, and don't worry about who else knows, I can keep a secret." His eyes twinkled sickeningly. "The point is, you all are the worst bunch of people in our school-"

    "You go to our school!" Colonel Mustard had stood up and banged her fists on the table, causing her soup to almost spill.

    Mr.Boddy merely waved his hand. "I have something that will make your little problems go away, easy as that." He strolled to the back of the room and began to dig through a closet Jared hadn't noticed before.

    "This is outrageous." Ms. Peacock was fiddling with her glasses. "I've never done something awful-"

    "We've all done something awful, that's why we're here." Connor's words cut through like a knife. Jared jumped, for a second he had almost forgotten that his boyfriend was next to him. Jared reach over and took his hand, Connor looked down at him with sad eyes.

    "Now, here we go." Mr.Boddy began to hand out presents wrapped beautifully in green and red wrapping paper.

    Jared received his box and puzzled over it, it was smaller than most everyone else's.

    "Go ahead, open them." Mr.Boddy encouraged.

    Jared tore open the box, not bothering to be careful. It was a bad idea, as he immediately cut his finger on what was inside the box. He cursed slightly under his breath and began to suck on his finger, examining the dagger he had received.

    He looked up to see everyone puzzling over their objects. Beside him, Connor had a small revolver, which he was attempting to take the bullets out of. Across from him, Mr.White stared blankly at a rope with a noose on the end. Colonel Mustard fiddled with a wrench and Ms.Peacock brushed her finger over the grooves of her candlestick.

    "What does this mean?" Mr.White practically whispered, he still hadn't taken his eyes off the rope.

    "It means you can go home, no problem, just like that." Mr.Boddy grinned. "Just one thing, when I turn off the lights, one of you has to be dead when I turn them on again. If someone is dead, the rest of you can all leave, no one will ever know your secret. If the lights come on and no one is dead," he grinned, "I make sure everyone knows what you did."

    Now, it wasn't that Jared wanted to kill someone, it's just that he didn't want anyone to know his secret.

    However, surely someone else would perform the act? He could wait it out and protect himself until the lights came on?

    Mr.Boddy stood near the light switch now, "Ready?" He asked, but without waiting for an answer, he flicked the light out anyway.

    Jared heard shuffling, and beside him he felt Connor move away. He reached his arm out, trying to find his boyfriend in the blackness. There was a loud bang from the gun, and Jared felt his stomach drop, Connor wouldn't have killed anybody, right? There a soft thud and then a loud one, and finally a bang of the door.

    Jared had to find the light. He could hear Mr.White softly crying and Ms.Peacock hyperventilating. However, he could hear no noise from Connor. Finally, Jared reached the end of the room and smoothed his hand over the wall, finding the light.

     When he flicked it on, he turned to see Mr.Boddy laying on the floor just a few feet from him.

    Ms.Peacock shrieked, covering her mouth with her hand.

    "It was him, it was him, I heard the gunshot!" Colonel Mustard yelled, pointing at Connor, who had somehow ended up next to Mr.White.

    "No, I swear! I felt someone grab the back of my suit and I panicked! I swear I didn't hit anyone!" Connor dropped the gun to the floor. "I thought I had gotten all of the bullets out!"

    "He's right!" Ms. Peacock pointed to a hole in the wall next to Jared, the singular bullet shot was buried in there.

    "Well then, how was he killed?" Colonel Mustard demanded.

    Jared leaned over Mr.Boddy, noticing the blood gushing from his head. “Well, it looks like he was hit by a blunt object.”

“Like a wrench?” Mr.White squeaked, glancing over at Colonel Mustard.

“Woah, hey, I have the wrench right here and it’s not all bloody!” She held it up and, sure enough, there was not a speck of blood on it.

“The candlestick!” Connor exclaimed. “Where did it go!”

“In the dark someone grabbed it from me!” Ms.Peacock shook her head. “I thought they were trying to kill me.”

“But where is it now?” Jared demanded.

Everyone looked around, searching under the table and inside the closet. The candlestick didn’t turn up.

“Well, I heard the door slam, so perhaps-“ Colonel Mustard started.

“You think the killer when upstairs? But we’re all right here!” Ms.Peacock shook her head.

“Wait, you guys have all played clue before, right?” Jared asked.

“Of course.” Almost everyone said in unison.

“Well, there aren’t five players, there’s six!” Jared reasoned. “Where’s Mr.Green?”

Chapter Text

   "But, Mr. Boddy wouldn't have gone on if we weren't all here?" Ms. Peacock reasoned, shaking her head.

    "I don't know, he seemed pretty crazy to me." Connor shrugged. "Maybe this Green dude is around the house somewhere."

     "So what, are we supposed to go looking for him?" Mustard demanded, crossing her arms. "Why can't we just pack it up and leave? We no longer have to worry about our secrets getting out, we can all just never speak of this again."

    "But what if something links us to the body?" Mr. White set his noose onto the table. "We'll all get arrested then."

     "How about we find a phone and call the police, and just maybe we'll find Mr. Green along the way." Jared suggested, shrugging. 

    "This house is so big, how do you expect us to find anything, it'll take us forever to go through the whole house." Ms. Peacock fanned herself as she leaned against the table.

    "Simple, we split up." Connor suggested, making his way back to Jared.

    "No!" Mustard nearly knocked a chair over in her outburst. "Then one of us is stuck with the murderer!"

    "Well then we'll know who the murderer is." Connor replied simply.

    "But then the other one will be dead!" Mr. White looked like he was going to cry again.

    "It makes sense though, the murderer would never kill their partner, it would completely reveal them." Ms. Peacock agreed. "Who wants to pair with who?"

    "Well, there's three stories to the house, so let's split into three groups." Jared moved over to the table and gathered up some items.

    "There's five of us, that means one person will have to be by themself." Mustard pointed out. 

    "That person will go to attic, it's the smallest space and the least likely to have a phone." Jared held his hand up to reveal straws. "If you have the same length straw as somebody else, you're paired with them, the tallest straw is the attic, and the smallest straws are the first floor, and so on."

    Mr. White stepped forward and drew the first straw, revealing he had one of the small straws, he seemed relieved knowing he didn't have to be alone. Ms. Peacock stepped up next, taking a medium length straw and comparing it to Mr. White's, but it was not a match. Connor drew the longest straw and smiled sheepishly at Jared.

    "I'll be fine." He promised quietly.

    Mustard took the second to last straw and found herself paired up with Ms. Peacock. 

   That meant Jared was with Mr. White.

   The group headed upstairs and began to split up, before Connor left though, Jared pulled him aside to talk.

    "Before you go, just promise me this." Jared took a deep breath. "You didn't kill Mr. Boddy, did you?"

    Connor's face hardened, "Of course not."

    Jared nodded for a second. "Of course, sorry, of course." He leaned up and pressed their lips together. "Stay safe." 

    With that, Jared returned to Mr. White, who had already managed to find a flashlight.

     "Man, this place must be ancient." Mr. White ran his hand along an antique couch. "How old do you think some of this stuff is, Mr. Scarlett?"

     Jared snorted, peeking into what appeared to be a kitchen. "Just call me Jared."

    "Oh, okay, Jared. I'm Evan."

    Jared stepped into a 1950's kitchen. It almost would've been cool if everything hadn't been long rusted over. Evan stepped in behind him.

    "I once went to a diner that looked just like this, I got a free milkshake with my meal because the waitress liked me." Evan opened the refrigerator, a foul odor of rotting food caused him to immediately shut it. 

    Jared chuckled, "You know, I can't imagine you as the murderer."

    "That's because I'm not the murder-" Evan stopped as he found an old fashioned phone, but quickly realized it was a fake.

    "Okay, so you're not the murderer, and I'm not the murderer, then who is?" Jared smiled, lightly teasing the boy. The two stepped back into the dark hall and made their way down.

    "Well, I don't think that it's Ms. Peacock." Evan admitted.

    "So, you think it's Mustard?" Jared nodded, pausing as the two passed a large painting of a crying child.

    "No, I never said that." Evan shook his head. "Professor Plum makes me a bit nervous too."

    "It's not him." All humor had dropped from Jared's voice now, making Evan flinch away. 

    "Why do you say that?" Evan asked in a low voice.

    "I came here with him, I know he would never do that." Jared kept his eyes trained forward.

    "Well, do you know his secret?" Evan stared at him.

    "That has nothing to do with it." Jared huffed.

    Evan shrugged, "I don't know, someone in there was willing to kill someone over some secret."

    "And you weren't?" Jared chuckled, eyeing at Evan from the side. "What's your secret anyhow?"

    Evan turned pink, "Well, I guess it wouldn't hurt to tell, I mean you're in the same boat I am. But you have to tell me yours too."

    "Deal. One exception, you can't tell anyone, especially Co- er, I mean Professor Plum." 

    "Alright." Evan's eyes stared off as if looking at something Jared couldn't see. "Well, it was last year-"

~~~

    Evan made his way into the bathroom stall, sitting nervously as he waited for... him.

    He had promised Evan a scholarship, a full ride to college, and all he had to do was one small favor, and it would go by quick as can be.

    The bathroom door opened again, making Evan's heart speed up. He fiddled with the strap on his backpack as the footsteps sounded closer. 

    Tap.

    Tap.

    Tap.

    They stopped suddenly, and Evan shut his eyes tightly, when three knocks sounded on the stall door.

    Evan opened his eyes and scrambled to open the door. His fingers slipped once, then twice.

    "Are you gonna open the door or what?" The gruff voice sounded from outside the door.

    "Y-yes, sorry." Evan managed to finally unlock it. He dared not make eye contact, and opted for staring at the floor. Still, the shadow of the other boy loomed over him as he heard the stall door click shut once again.

    "Get down." 

~~~

    "I gave someone a blowjob for a scholarship." Evan said quietly. "If that got out, not only would my life be ruined, I'd lose the scholarship."

    Jared was silent for a second. "I'm sorry, Evan-"

    Evan gained his composure again and gave Jared a small smile, "Your turn." 

    Jared chuckled quietly, "Well-"

    There was a scream from upstairs.

Chapter Text

    Evan and Jared exchanged a look before trampling back through the house, desperately trying to find the staircase as the screaming continued. 

    Finally, the two managed to locate it and climbed the stairs, then following the sound of screaming down the hall to a room. 

    Jared flung the door open to find Ms. Peacock shrieking at the top of her lungs, Mustard trying to comfort her, and a dead body in the corner of the bedroom.

    "Get away from me!" Ms. Peacock backed away from Mustard. "It was you, it had to be you!"

     Mustard scrunched up her face, "What! How on earth could it have been me!"

    "You went one way, I went another! While I was searching another room, you killed him!" Ms. Peacock said frantically.

    "And you think you wouldn't have heard me!" Mustard crossed her arms, how do I know you didn't do it!"

    "Do you think I'm dumb enough to have strangled him then called for help-"

    "Enough!" Connor entered the room. "Before we go around making crazy accusations, why don't we look at the body, hm?"

    Jared was both comforted and frightened by Connor's presence. Even though he knew Connor would never hurt him, could he have hurt someone else?

    Evan slowly made his way over to the body and leaned down, before lightly prodding the body. "Well, rigor mortis has set in, so he'd definitely been dead for a while."

     "Great, so crazy Mr. Boddy there had a dead body in his house before we got here, go figure." Mustard huffed.

    "Is it Mr. Green?" Jared asked. 

     "No, he's too old to be Mr. Green, he couldn't possibly be a student." Ms. Peacock objected.

     That was definitely true, the man had slightly graying hair. If Jared had to guess, he would've said the man looked to be in his late 40's. 

     "Well here, let me see." Evan awkwardly began to dig through the man's green waistcoat, until he pulled out a green envelope. 

    Everyone in the room went silent as Evan began to read the letter out loud,

    "Dear Larry Murphy," 

    "How nice." Jared snorted, before he was shushed by Ms. Peacock.

    "I am pleased to invite you to a special dinner party on the evening of October 30th. Now, I know you're a busy man, but I do think I have something that might pique your interest. You see, I have stumbled across some information regarding your company, specifically the financial stability of it. I do wish for you to come, as I'm you don't want this information out in the public eye anymore than I do."

     "That's outrageous!" Mustard slammed her hand on the wall.

     "Sincerely, Mr. Boddy." Evan finished.

Jared felt an uneasiness in his stomach, his letter had sounded eerily similar to Mr. Green’s, er, Larry Murphy’s.

He just hoped that the group wouldn’t be reading his letter over his dead body.

“How did he die?” Connor asked, staring at the cold figure before them.

“Uh, I don’t know,” Evan searched the man a bit more. “Poison maybe? He doesn’t have any sort of marks. It could’ve been natural?”

“I highly doubt it.” Ms. Peacock objected.

“But poison takes a long time to take effect sometimes, right?” Connor asked. “Who would’ve had the time?”

“Well, it’s very possible Mr. Boddy killed him.” Evan suggested.

“Bullshit!” Mustard argued, pacing now. “Why not skip the formalities then? Why invite him to the dinner party if he wouldn’t be able to participate?”

“Maybe he planned to kill all of us?” Peacock muttered, sinking down onto the bed.

“Enough, this is unproductive.” Connor decided, tapping his foot on the floor. “We need to continue our search for the phone, then the police can figure everything out.” Connor glanced over at Jared, and stood up a little straighter, puffing his chest out.

As Jared stared into Connor’s eyes, he noticed something. The earlier calmness in Connor’s face had been replaced with... fear?

No, it couldn’t be, Connor had been so confident earlier.

“Jared, maybe you should come with me-“ Connor began to reach a hand out to wipe the hair from Jared’s face when he was interrupted by Ms. Peacock.

“You can’t leave me with her, she’s probably the murderer!”

“I’m not, but I don’t want to be with crazy here.” Mustard leaned up against the wall.

“It’s fine.” Jared smiled at Connor. “I’ll just go with Mustard and Mr. White can go with Ms. Peacock.” Connor frowned but nodded.

Evan looked relieved to not be with Mustard or Connor.

“Alright then, let’s get back to work.” Connor nodded, pulling Jared into the hall for a quick kiss before he left. “Stay safe.”

“You too.” Jared called after him. Everyone else shuffled out of the room.

“Ready?” Mustard stood with her hands on her hips.

“Yeah, let’s not split up though, better to stay together after someone else just died.” Jared walked down the hallway, Mustard following him.

“Fair enough.” Mustard shrugged, letting Jared lead.

“So, what’s your name, if you’re comfortable of course.” Jared asked, peeking into another bedroom. “I’m Jared.”

“Zoe.” She replied, following him into the room.

“Pretty name.” He commented, opening the closet door.

She smiled, “What, did you pair up with me so you could flirt with me?” Zoe raised a questioning eyebrow.

“Oh god no.” Jared chuckled. “That Professor Plum is my boyfriend.”

“I see.” Zoe smirked. “You trying to hide a secret from him?”

“Aren’t you trying to hide a secret from someone?” Jared asked, digging through Victorian style clothing out of curiosity.

“Of course, but you see I don’t have a single thing to hide from anybody here.” She tilted her head. “He’s hiding something from you too.”

Jared threw what was probably a dress worth more than his house to the floor in anger. “Trust me, mine’s worse than whatever his is! I love him no matter what.” He said firmly.

“That’s very bold of you to say.” Zoe plucked the dress off the floor and smoothed it out. “Or as some would say, naive.”

“Yeah whatever.” Jared huffed.

Zoe thought for a second, “How about this, I tell you what my secret is, and you tell me yours. And I swear, I won’t say a word of it to Plum, if I do you can reveal my secret to the whole world.”

Jared mulled it over in his head, “Alright, that makes sense.”

Zoe smiled, “Perfect, it all started about four years ago, but it’s hard to keep track now-“

~~~

It started with a keychain. It was bright pink, sparkly, and it had her name on it. She had just slipped it absentmindedly into her pocket while shopping and hadn’t even realized it have there until several days later while doing laundry.

But there was something about it that just made it so... exciting.

It happened a couple more times, small items, like chapstick and gum. An easy slip into her pocket and no one would notice it missing.

Then, it became more frequent, and the items got larger and more expensive. Jeans were her favorite to steal, easy and lightweight but useful. She stole anything she could fit into her body without suspicion. Movies, jewelry, digital cameras, picture frames. Nothing was off limits. She even managed to smuggle an IPhone out of the store once.

It wasn’t even as if she couldn’t afford these items, her parents had plenty of money to do so. It wasn’t about the items at all, it was about the rush. She had never felt such a rush of adrenaline as when she stole something expensive.

~~~

“-I’m a klepto.” Zoe finished, hanging her head. “I just got addicted, and I couldn’t stop. No, I didn’t want to stop.” She stared off into space. “I was still doing it up until I got that letter.”

Jared slowly sat down on the bed next to her. “It’s okay, that’s something you can fix. It’s an addiction, just like with cigarettes or drugs.”

“Cigarette addictions don’t give you a felony.” She laughed. “Alright now, you’re up my dude.”

Jared nervously chuckled, “Okay, I guess, but it goes back a long time, even before I was born actually-“

~~~

“You’re not doing it right.”

A six-year old Jared sat up a little straighter, fingers gracefully moving across the piano keys.

“No! You’ll never do it like him at this rate!”

Jared bit his lip, small hands trembling as he replayed the same melody.

“Forget it, go to your room!” The woman’s voice was sharp, and Jared knew later on he would really get it from her, but for now, he simply obeyed her instructions.

Jared knew why he wasn’t playing piano right, it was because of him.

His brother. Long before Jared had been born, his parents had had another child, Jeff.

Jeff had been perfect. Or, at least, that’s what his parents told him. Jeff had played football, Jeff had played piano, Jeff had won the spelling bee, Jeff had all the friends.

Jeff. Jeff. Jeff. Jeff. Jeff.

Then, Jeff had gotten sick at age thirteen, and was bedridden for two years until died. A year later, Jared had been born.

Jared had been born to replace his brother.

“Jared, you’ll never be able to play football like Jeff if you don’t get big and strong.”

“No Jared, you can’t study ventriloquism, don’t you want to be a doctor like Jeff?”

“Jared, if you don’t study your vocabulary words you’ll never get as far in the spelling bee as Jeff.”

Jeff was Jared’s life.

Years later, at age thirteen, Jared’s parents really began to push him. He wasn’t living up to their expectations, and he knew it. He was benched at every single football game, his small stature was not built for a game like football. His piano skills definitely lacked quality, but he did discover an interest in the trumpet, which he was not allowed to pursue. At the spelling bee he got out on the word bisque, his mother cried and locked herself in her room that night. But most importantly, Jared didn’t have any friends.

That lead to a lot of time locked in his room, telling his parents he was studying while he was actually reading comedy books he had smuggled from the school library.

One particular time at the library, in the very back, Jared had discovered a magazine. A special magazine, filled with pictures of half-naked boys.

Jared’s parents had always encouraged him to get a girlfriend, as Jeff had had several before he died. However, seeing these pictures made him way more excited than seeing a girls picture.

So, he brought it home and hid it under his mattress.

And life continued like usual, Jared kept doing exactly what his parents wanted him to do, and his parents kept telling him how Jeff did things.

Then, one night, Jared’s mother had been cleaning around his room when she happened to check under the mattress, discovering Jared’s magazine.

That night had been chaos. His father had beat him senseless while his mother cried, asking why he couldn’t just be good, to do what they say. Eventually, Jared was just left on the floor, tears, sweat, mucus, and blood all mixed together on his face.

After that night, Jared decided to never let anyone in again. He was to just be Jeff, he would not feel anything original ever again. He would be obedient and someday his parents would love him.

And he lived like that, for two years, until he was put into Connor Murphy’s science class.

Jared by then had mastered the art of getting superficial friends, fake ones he could use to advance himself up the social ladder.

The moment he had spoke to Connor, he knew there was something different about him. He didn’t care about fake talk.

Later that night, while Jared was laying in bed, a piece of Jared that had been missing for two years thawed out.

Ever since that day, Jared spent his time around Connor, trying to impress the boy, to woo him.

And miraculously, Jared succeeded.

~~~

“-My parents still don’t know we’re dating, even though I told Connor they do. He doesn’t know any of this, and you can’t tell him.” Jared stared at Zoe.

“He’d understand-“ Zoe insisted, her voice and eyes softening.

Jared’s eyes glossed over, “I don’t want him to look at me like I’m broken, just like everyone else who learns about it does.”

Chapter Text

    After their chat, Zoe and Jared worked quietly, examining each room with silent calmness. Neither were upset or mad, just happy to not speak for a little while.

    It's wasn't long until the two finished their floor, and Jared somehow found himself finishing up in the study.

    On one end, there was a large, fluffy couch that probably was about fifty perfect dust at this point. In front of the couch was a fine coffee table with a gold ash tray on top. Behind the couch stood a tall, dark oak bookcase. Each book had a genuine leather cover and a grand name, such as OPERATIONS OF SURGERY or MANSON'S TROPICAL DISEASES.

    On the other side of the room was the desk. Behind it was a large window that looked out onto the property. The few plants seen from the window were withered and black.

    On the desk laid a variety of oddities, including a preserved human eye, a dried out exotic flower, large, goggly reading glasses, and an armless statue of a woman.

    Jared picked up the jar with the eye, staring into it's pupil. The eye was a lovely hazel color. It was a dark brown by the center and gray and blue near the outer edges.

    As Jared still stared at the eye, he attempted to lean back against the desk. In this, he managed to knock over the statue, creating a loud thud.

    Jared cursed jumping up and dropping the jar in the process. The preservatives leaked out onto the floor, creating a nasty odor. The eyeball rolled under the desk, never to be seen again.

    Jared turned to the desk, and was confused to find that the statue had indeed shattered, but the bottom of it had been attached to some sort of wire.

    He reached out, trying to figure out what was happening with the wire, when behind him he heard creaking.

    Thinking Zoe was coming into the room, Jared turned around to talk to her, only to find that the bookshelf had swung open, revealing a small hallway.

    "What the hell-" Jared moved forward, carefully stepping over the eye juice, and made his way into the passage. As he stepped in, the door shut behind him.

    Jared raised his eyebrows in concern but continued forward, following along the path. The floor was rotted wood and the walls a rough stone. In the middle of the hall was a window, and Jared approached it carefully.

     He was staring out into the the second floor hallway, Zoe was leaning up against the wall, still waiting for Jared to completely his room.

    "It must be a one way mirror." Jared whispered to no one in particular. He reached out a hand and touched the glass.

    Then, he banged on it.

    "Hey Zoe!" He tried to call, but the mirror muffled his voice. Zoe looked up, startled, at the mirror, her eyes wide in horror. "Zoe! It's me, Jared!" He banged on it again before realizing that she could not hear his voice, just the thumping of the mirror.

    He saw her mouth his name as she ran towards the study.

    Well, she was sure to have a surprise when she got there.

    Jared turn on his heel and continued following the path, which lead him to a steep stairwell heading downwards.

He squinted as he went down, the lighting in the hall was way dimmer than it needed to be and-

Jared's foot caught ahold of something heavy and he fell down the rest of the stairs, which, luckily, there weren't too many left.

Cursing, he sat up, looking around for whatever had caused him to fall, when his eyes landed on a candlestick.

It had rolled away from him, leaving flakes of dried up blood in its path.

Oh shit, that was the murder weapon.

Jared stood up to continue down the path when he found he had reached a dead end.

Or so he thought.

As he leaned his head against the wall, sending it flying open, and sending him tumbling to the floor once again.

    He cursed, looking up to find he was in the basement once more. The weapons still all sat on the table, and Mr. Boddy was still lying face down on the floor.

Oh good, at least he knew where he was.

“I found something!” He yelled, scrambling up from the floor and dashing up the stairs once more. “Guys! Guys! I found something-“

Chapter Text

    Connor leaned over the candlestick, gently picking the object up with a purple handkerchief he had found stashed in his suit pocket.

    "So you just happened to find this secret passage?" Ms. Peacock said skeptically.

    "Like I told you, I leaned on the statue and this passage just opened up." Jared told them from behind Connor, who seemed to be protectively standing in front of him. "The killer must have known about this passage and hidden the candlestick in here!"

     "How do we know you're not the killer?" Ms. Peacock questioned, raising her eyebrow at Jared.

    "If he had done it, wouldn't he have not shown us the passage?" Zoe snorted. From beside Zoe, Jared noticed Evan was giving him a distressed look.

    "That's to fool us-" Ms. Peacock began, but Jared simply pushed past Connor and the rest of the group to get to Evan, who was panicking and hyperventilating now.

    "We'll be right back." Jared dragged Evan away, exiting the passage through the study and going into one of the bedrooms so they could talk.

     "What's wrong?" Jared asked, sitting the boy on the bed as he continued to breathe heavily.

    "I'm sorry, I'm sorry-" Evan gasped, a hand clinging to Jared's shirt.

     "No need to be sorry, Evan." Jared sighed. "C'mon, just tell me what's up."

     Evan looked up at him with big watery eyes, "I found something out, and then I realized something."

     "Jesus Christ, just spit it out dude!" Jared said, exasperated.

      "Sorry, sorry." Evan mumbled, hastily taking his hand back. "So, Ms. Peacock, or well, Alana, that's her real name, she told me-"

    "Get to the point." Jared said bluntly, slightly wincing afterwards at his own sharpness.

    "Well, uh, she told me her secret, and well, she's killed somebody before." Evan said quietly, fingers fiddling with the blanket on the bed. Jared pauses, inhaling sharply.

    "She told you that." Jared whispered, leaning in so close his nose almost touched Evan's.

    "Yes." Evan rasped, licking his lips slightly as he leaned in a little closer.

     "We have to tell everyone." Jared pulled away, and Evan's face scrunched up. "We know who the murderer is now!"

    "Wait-" Evan grabbed Jared's arm. "We don't know that for sure."

    "I've heard enough to know that you haven't done it, the same with most of the others." Jared tried to shake Evan off his arm. "It must be her."

    "No, Jared-" Evan held on tighter. "What if, what if you don't know everything-"

    "What does that mean?" Jared demanded.

    "Well, what if Connor isn't as good of a person as you think-"

     "He is!" Jared shouted at the boy now. "He is! He's perfect and he loves me for who I am! He doesn't pity me and he treats me like I'm my own person! He's innocent!"

    "Do you think that you just happened to end up here!" Evan yelled back. "You think you just showed up at a mansion and Mr. Boddy happened to just have your information! Connor knew about the party from the beginning!"

    Jared paused, staring at Evan with bloodshot eyes, "Wait... how could you know his name?"

    Evan gaped at him for a minute.

    "I never told you his name was Connor instead of Professor Plum." Jared said hoarsely. He began to back up into the doorway. "Alana did it, you hear me."

    Evan sat on the bed still, watching him go. "Jared-"

    Jared dashed away, he needed to just think this through. He didn't know what to think anymore, or who to trust for that matter.

    Surely his Connor wouldn't do anything, right?

    As he ran through the hall, he wasn't paying any sort of attention, and ended up running smack into the others.

    "Ow, fucking Christ, Jare." Connor's voice sounded from underneath him after they had crashed to the floor.

    Jared was just so relieved to have Connor close again. He hugged him tightly, burying his face into Connor's chest as he tried to hide his tears.

    Connor's voice softened when he realized something was wrong, "What's up, babe?" He ran a gently hand down Jared's back.

    "It's Alana!" Jared's voice was muffled. "She's the murderer!"

    Connor looked up at Alana, who was looking horrified.

    "You're mistaken-" She began, but Jared cut her off.

    "No! Evan told me! He told me you killed someone before!" Jared clung to Connor like a child. Connor awkwardly sat up so Jared was resting in his lap and gently stroked the boy's hair.

    "Is that true?" Zoe asked.

    Alana pushed up her glasses, tears threatening to force their way down her cheeks. "It's not what you think, okay!" Her lip trembled. "You weren't there-"

~~~

   Alana leaned over the edge of the crib, staring down at the sleeping infant. At age 5, she was not allowed to hold her newborn brother, no matter how much she wanted to.

Her mama stood behind her, “You’re going to have to be gentle with him, okay?”

Alana nodded her head eagerly.

“When he gets a bit older, you’ll be able to play with him.” Her mama smiled.

“He’ll play doctor with me?” Alana turned around to grin at her mother brightly. “Or barbies?”

“I’m sure he will.” Her mama laughed. “Alright, let’s get you to bed.”

Alana was lead down the hall to her bedroom, and tucked into bed. Her mother went downstairs to watch tv.

Quietly, Alana snuck out of her room and headed back down the hall to her brother’s nursery.

Alana tiptoed in, pressing her face against the bars of the crib. Then, as quietly as possible, she began to climb. She pulled herself up by the top bar of the crib, silently landing next to her brother.

“Mama says we’ll get to play when you’re bigger.” She whispered, lifting her brother up. The baby had now awoken, and was squirming slightly. “I wanna play now.”

Still holding her brother, she attempted to climb back over the bars. She struggled, she didn’t understand why he had to be so big, he was supposed to be her little brother!

The baby began crying as Alana held him by one hand to grip the edge. She frowned, throwing one foot over the bar. She felt her grip on her little brother slip. Desperately, she tried to hold on, but it was no use, she just wasn’t strong enough to hold him up for so long. The baby fell to the floor, hitting his head with a loud lump. Alana stared at him, horrified.

From downstairs her mother’s voice called, “Alana? What are you doing up there?”

~~~

Alana was crying now, taking off her glasses so she could wipe her face. “I didn’t do it out of meanness, I was just little and stupid.”

Jared had taken his face out of Connor’s chest to look at Alana.

“I’m sorry.” He said after a long silence. “I didn’t know the whole story.”

“It’s okay, I get it.” Alana pushes up her glasses, her eyes were bright red.

Jared pushes himself off of Connor and made his way to Alana, raising his hands in peace.

“I lost my brother too.” Jared whispered.

Alana stared at him for a second before bringing him into a tight hug. “I don’t think it’s you.” She whispered into his ear. “Do you still think it’s me?”

“Of course not.” Jared whispered back.

Chapter Text

    Evan appeared in the doorway of the bedroom, looking pale and curious as Jared and Alana pulled apart from their hug.

    Jared stood still, staring at Evan for a second as he controlled his breathing.

    "You made it sound as though she had murdered someone on purpose." Jared said evenly. Everyone's eyes were on Evan.

     "You wouldn't listen to me." Evan breathed, tapping his fingers nervously on the door frame.

    Jared scrunched up his face, "You clearly said she had murdered someone-" he began to shout, but Evan cut him off.

    "You don't even know your boyfriend's secret!" Evan shouted him down. Jared felt Connor stiffen behind him.

    "Listen here." Connor pushed past Jared and made his way over to Evan. "You said-"

    "I don't want anything to do with you, I did nothing wrong." Evan crossed his arms. "I had no loyalties to him."

    Connor turned a bright red, "You did nothing wrong? Bullshit. You were one that-"

    "Shut up, shut up!" Evan screamed, hands covering his ears as tears spilled down his face. Connor grabbed a hold of Evan's suit and began to shake the boy.

      "Stop!" Jared shouted, placing himself in between Connor and Evan. He turned to Connor and could barely manage to make eye contact with him. "Tell me."

    Connor stared at him blankly for a second, before swallowing loudly. "Jared-"

    "Tell me." Jared demanded, his voice shaking from the lump in his throat.
 
    Connor looked at him with tired eyes. Jared hadn't noticed before, but now they looked hollow and frightened. "Well, I-"

    "He was the man in the bathroom." Evan whispered.

    Jared turned around, "What?"

    "He was the one that paid for the blowjob." Evan kept his eyes trained on Connor, not bothering to look at Jared as he spoke. "Though I would've done it for free."

     Jared looked at Connor, his eyes wide. "Is this true?"

    "It's not how you think, it was when we were on a break." Connor rubbed the back of his neck. "You were mad that I had taken up smoking again and was refusing to quit. I was so pissed off that day I just... but then the next day we made up and I just couldn't tell you."

    Connor reached out and Jared backed away. "How could you?"

     "I've felt awful about it ever since and then I got that letter. He was threatening our relationship, I just couldn't sit back and do nothing." Connor told him.

    "Did you kill them?" Jared whispered, biting his lip.

     "No." Connor said firmly.

     "So you're just going to act all innocent?" Evan tilted his head. Connor gave him a dirty look. "You're certainly right in the part that you didn't get your hands dirty, but there is most certainly blood on your hands."

    If the circumstances had been different, Jared would've made a joke.

    "I killed Mr. Boddy." Evan said casually, shrugging. "But in a way, so did he."

    Jared stared at him, unable to make words form. Beside him, Zoe spoke up for him. "Why?"

    Evan glanced at Connor, who was equally incapable of words. "I'm in love with him."

    Connor suddenly regained his voice, "I'm in love with Jared, I told you that."

     "I know." Evan's voice was soft. "That doesn't change it." He looked back at the rest of the group. "He told me he needed to keep it a secret from you, so I did it. I killed him." He made eye contact with Jared. "I wanted to kill you."

    "Why did you kill Mr. Green then?" Ms. Peacock asked.

    "I didn't." Evan told her. They looked at Connor, who simply shook his head.

“I did.” Zoe said softly.

Jared turned to face her, “What?”

“Mr. Green... Larry Murphy, is my dad.” Zoe told them. “After I received my letter I found his hidden in his desk. I found out all the awful things he did. I’ve always resented him, so I poisoned him before he was set to be here. Guess it took a little while for the poison to work, he must’ve arrived here first.”

“So is there anyone here that didn’t kill someone!” Jared tugged on his hair in frustration. Alana raised her hand, then, slowly, Connor did the same.

“I swear, I had no part in plotting Mr. Boddy’s death.” Connor told Jared, gently trying to scoot closer to him.

“I don’t care, don’t come near me.” Jared turned away from him and moved closer to Alana.

“So, what are we going to do then?” Alana asked, putting a comforting arm around Jared’s shoulders.

There was silence.

“We could leave here, pretend none of this ever happened, and never tell anyone a breath of this.” Zoe suggest after a minute.

Everyone in the group slowly made eye contact, beginning to realize they each person had something they never wanted to leave this room.

“Alright.” Jared agreed finally.

With that, each person went their own way, getting dressed back into their proper clothes and heading to their cars.

Jared sat silently in the passenger seat of Connor’s car, listening to Connor nervously drum his fingers on the steering wheel.

“Do you think we’ll ever be the same again?” Connor asked finally.

After a long pause, Jared answered honestly, “No.”