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The Lost Forest Of 1992

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The morning sun peaked over the quiet mountain town of South Park, located in Park County, Colorado – relatively small in size, and home to two thousand citizens (at most), the scorching heat affected many of the winter-conditioned inhabitants, through the current summer season. 

It was the year of '92, with the air visible through the sizzling concrete roads, cicadas crying out whilst the nature flourished, and the electric fans increased to their maximum settings.

In the case of Tweek Tweak, worker at Tweak Bros. Coffee, and son to the owners (the extremely passionate Richard & Mrs. Tweak, who took their work very seriously), the young 17 year old was currently stood within a general store on the main street, staring down at the magazine he held in hand, rather intently. 

With his eyebrows furrowed together in concentration, he hadn't noticed the store’s customers going about their daily business, chattering to one another as cars could be heard driving past. The shop’s bell chimed every time one walked into the small, brown building (the same being applied as they left), and the chime of the old cash register was far too apparent after one had paid for their products justly.

Instead of being bothered by the heat, or worried about the amount of people in the store, Tweek’s green eyes remained glued to the pages of the magazine – True Drama, it was called – an intricate, realistically-painted woman took up most of the front cover, as bold, yellow lettering contrasted with the red colour scheme it had going on. Local news was also featured in smaller fonts, overlapping with the picture. Its contents consisted of acting tips, celebrity gossip, and upcoming movies.

Tweek couldn’t help but purse his lips at his decision.

'Alright.’ He thought to himself, turning on his heel, and swiftly walking up to the cashier, eyes practically fixated on the cash register itself, ‘Ah, wait! This is way too much pressure! I can’t look this guy in the eyes! He’s not the usual cashier! He's a stranger! What if he stabs me!?’ He internalised frantically.

Ngh!” He squeaked out, feeling his left eye twitch subconsciously, shoulders tensing up extremely so as he scavenged around in his navy blue jeans’ pockets.

After a few seconds, however, having placed a few rusty cents on top of the register shakily, the chime resounded once more, and Tweek was granted ownership of the magazine. He pressed it against his chest desperately, pacing out of the shop, before being hit with the warm air all at once.

It’s not like he minded it, however – after all, the boy was used to drinking coffee all the time, and his messy, soft blond hair often harboured a lot of warmth. So, in a dismissive manner, now relatively calmer, Tweek rolled his magazine up, and made his way through the town – from time to time, he couldn’t help but tug on his green, misbuttoned shirt, which was tucked into his jeans, too. He carefully looked left and right, as quite a few cars passed him on the road, and he spotted a few locals who visited his family store, clearly wary. 

As one parked car’s window was rolled all the way down, the radio host’s voice was blaring, far too happily, quickly, and passionately, as usual.

Hey, I'm super, thanks for asking! It’s a beautiful Friday morning here in South Park – as usual, I’m your host, Big Gay Al! The temperature levels are at an all-time high, and expected to reach an incredible 25 degrees by noon! Now, for our next song - ‘Let’s Get Rocked’, by Def Leppard!

Tweek didn’t have to hear any more, sighing out with a small smile as he continued to make his way towards his location – he knew that, by the time he had approached the tree house, that exact song would be blaring from its interior, just as loudly as Big Gal Al’s voice was currently doing so through the car.

It was Craig Tucker’s favourite song, after all.


Tweek made long strides up the hill, inhaling silently – making a sharp turn to his left, the boy pushed a few outgrown weeds out of his path, approaching the tree house. It was located far enough from the heart of South Park, and hidden well enough from sight, practically enveloped in greenery. Hence why it was the perfect location for a gang’s secret hideout.

Tweek then stared up at the tree house’s bottom entrance after approaching the semi-rotting ladder. It was poorly-made, there was no denying it – however, it was the thought and memories that counted – after all, he and his friends had worked on building it together from scrapped wood and metal for the longest time, back when they were 9 and 10 years old, and in the 4th grade. It was their sanctuary, to some extent - the secret which brought them closer together.

'Yup, like I thought, he’s listening to it.’ Tweek thought to himself, shrugging the memory off – the music was pretty loud.

The boy then wasted no time in climbing up the ladder, performing the ‘secret knock’, set into motion by the leader of the gang, and his best friend, Craig Tucker. So, Tweek knocked quickly (four times in a row, to be exact) - he then paused for a second, before knocking twice to finish it off.

Almost instantly, there were a few sounds of shuffling able to be heard, and the bottom entrance to the tree house was lifted up – Tweek quickly climbed up, instantly being greeted with the all too familiar smell of smoke, coffee, and a hint of Coca Cola.

“Hey, Tweek.”

“Mornin’, Tweek.”

“Hey, morning.” He greeted back to the two figures, who had instantly shuffled back to their original seating positions. 

As usual, the tree house was full – full of cushions, cigarette butts, empty glass bottles, empty straw baskets, and old magazines scattered around. It felt comforting; homely, almost. Of course, the radio was put on full display, positioned to the side, and the song had reached its end.

And that was ‘Let’s Get Rocked’, by Def Leppard!“ Came the radio host’s familiar voice, “Now, for our next song, it’s ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ by Guns N’ Roses, as requested by local Kenny McCormick!

“Hey, wanna know how a black person could have a guaranteed safe pass in life?”

Hey, I’m black, okay?”

If they were white.

“…Didn’t I just say I was black, asshole?”

A dark-skinned boy named Token Black, at the age of 18, was sat at the mini table, now positioned back to rest over the tree house’s bottom entrance. He was a well-dressed boy, as his father had a stable job as a lawyer; he wore dark pleated pants, a black turtleneck, and a purple sweater.

After a few moments of receiving no reply, Token sighed out, running a hand through his dark, lined-up curly hair, whilst blue playing cards were in his hand - he decided to stare down at them, now examining each one carefully.

On the opposite end of the table sat Craig Tucker, aged 18 - a supposedly notorious troublemaker both in high school, as well as about the town in general, almost the entirety of South Park assumed he would turn out bad – including Craig, Tweek guessed.

But that didn’t impact their friendship. Tweek always saw good in the elder boy, ever since they were kids – Craig just wanted to live his life – beyond his stoic, rational, and monotonous demeanour was a quirky, nerdy guy, who had a love for animals (especially his pet guinea pig, Stripe), outer space, and making movies. In Tweek’s opinion, Craig faced a lot of problems because of his stoicism, and the fact that he’d flip practically anyone off. It was a childhood habit that had stuck with him up until now.

The leader of the gang had applied gel to his black hair, although the side parting was more like a fringe, if anything. His navy blue denim jacket’s sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, and his black shirt was worn loosely, although tucked into his black, waist-high jeans. His piercing blue eyes stared down at his deck of cards in hand, causing the boy's attractively slender face to scrunch up.

As Tweek sat next to his best friend on his left, he couldn’t help but roll his eyes at the boys’ bickering, and the amount of smoke coming from Craig’s cigarette – it rested between his lips, which were often busted due to fights, or bleeding, as he'd rip the skin off subconsciously with his teeth.

Today, Tweek noticed, his lips were both.

The contents of Craig's cigarette were burning more and more, ash being produced quicker and quicker. It made Tweek anxious and tense up, for some strange reason – an ‘irrational fear’, as Craig would call it.

But, the blond boy didn't address it, and instead, leaning back against one of the cushions, he unrolled his magazine, and opened its pages.

“Like Michael Jackson says, ‘It don’t matter if you’re black or white’.” Tweek commented, before beginning his immersive reading – this caused Token to nod his head repeatedly, and Craig to shrug, before giving a short nod of agreement.

"Hey, you piece of shit!" Token called out accusatorially at Craig, "You just smirked on the sly - don't think I didn't see that!" He added on, pointing.

"Don't call me any of your mother's pet names." Craig retorted, sticking his tongue out, and flipping the boy off with one hand.

"Is that another dig at our skin colour?" Token asked, cocking an eyebrow.

"Anyway, I knock." Craig muttered, lowering his hand to knock on the table, and setting his deck of cards down.

"Piss off a rope!" Token instantly yelled out in frustration, slapping his deck on the table, “This song’s timing was way too convenient!”

Craig couldn't help but cock an eyebrow, turning his head to face Tweek – the two instantly burst out into persistent laughter, after looking into the other's eyes.

"Fine, go ahead, laugh," Token stated, eyes squinted at the two, "You're down to your ride, pal." He addressed Craig, laughing bitterly.

"I don't think the loser should be sayin' that." Craig replied in between his genuine laughter, exhaling after taking the cigarette from between his lips, and tapping the ash off repeatedly. 

After a few moments, with Tweek's laughter having died down, Craig smiled at the boy, holding the cigarette out in offer for him to take. Tweek silently looked at it, then at Craig, before returning the smile, and taking it.

Inhaling the chemical was oddly satisfying to Tweek, there was no denying it - he felt his troubles lighten with every exhale - like he was releasing the tension from his body.

Before the blond boy knew it, Craig had shuffled over to join him in leaning against the cushion, their shoulders now pressed together as Tweek couldn't help but jump reflexively. 

Craig let out yet another laugh at the boy's reaction.

"There, there, Tweek - it's okay." He reassured, tilting his head to rest on the shorter boy's shoulders.

With the colour in Tweek’s face mounting, Token studied the two through squinted eyes, before sighing out, shaking his head, and taking one of the unopened glass Cola bottles, resting next to the radio - whilst the hissing of the drink was audible as the metal lid was popped off, Tweek shrunk back in his seat, going back to reading.

"You always did like drama, huh?" Craig asked monotonously, cigarette back in his own mouth - he stared at the magazine with half-lidded eyes.

Tweek nodded his head.

"Haven't starred in many local productions lately, though." Token brought up casually, taking a sip of his drink as he leaned over the table, hand resting on his cheek.

"Well, I mean..." Tweek trailed off with his reply, twitching slightly, "It's too much pressure after a while, man! I'm meant to relax during summer break, and my idea of relaxing is either practising the piano, or hanging out with you guys!"

Craig's facial expression couldn't help but harden at such a reply, whilst Token blinked, before shrugging.

"Fair enough."

“A-And anyway, I prefer to improvise my dialogue, which not many directors like! They assume I think I'm better than them, and they end up saying that I need to stick to remembering the script, which is bullshit!” Tweek explained, tensing up out of irritation, “Acting is about expressing yourself!”

Just at that moment, there were multiple knocks coming from under the table, resulting in Token to jump slightly, and back away.

After a few seconds of silence from the three, they thought about whether or not it was the correct secret knock.

“Hey, guys, open up, it's me!" Came the all too familiar voice of their fourth friend in the gang.

"Clyde." They all said in unamused unison - they were used to the boy's different greeting by now, and shuffled the table to the side, opening up the entrance for him.

Clyde, at the age of 17, was a bright boy in general, despite his mother, Betsy Donovan's passing, when he was 9 years old, which always stayed in the back of his mind. Now that Tweek thought about it, that was the main reason why all four of them began working on the tree house – so that Clyde could be distracted to some extent, and, when life got too much for any of them, not just Clyde, they could go there as an escape, or a time out zone. Of course, Roger Donovan, all the same, appreciated how far Craig, Token, and Tweek had gone for his son.

Clyde himself wore his red and white bomber jacket, his white shirt tucked into his light blue jeans, and his light brown hair was swept to the side with hair gel, just like Craig.

And that was ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ by Guns N’ Roses, as requested by local Kenny McCormick!“ The radio host’s voice stated once again, “Now, our next song is Boyz II Men’s ‘End of the Road’, as requested by Stanley Marsh, and dedicated to Wendy Testaburger!

All four of the boys couldn’t help but cringe at the extra information behind the song’s announcement.

“Stan is still chasing after Wendy?” Clyde asked after climbing up, panting and clearly out of breath, “I thought she said it was over for good this time?”

“Stan’s such a pussy.” Craig stated with a laugh, before pausing, and addressing the main issue at hand, "Anyway, dude, we've been through this - you've gotta do the secret knock to enter!" He snapped.

"You guys should know I’ve forgotten the secret knock by now!” Clyde exclaimed, leaning over, and resting his hands on his thighs, "Hold on, lemme catch my breath, I ran all the way here..."

“Seriously, it’s been 8 years since we made it.” Token continued on in statement, with an airy laugh of disbelief.

“Speaking of, found your jar of pennies yet?” Craig teased in question, unable to help his smirk.

“No! You ask me this every day!" Clyde whined, slumping down on one of the cushions, "And my boss said he won't gimmie any insurance claim for it! Meaning that all my paper round work was for nothing!"

"Jesus, it's been nine months, man - just give it up, already!" Tweek advised in a panic, "For your own sanity!"

"Hah, Clyde Donovan never gives up!" Clyde replied in determination, "I'll never stop digging for them!"

"Still can't believe your old man threw the treasure map away." Craig said, unable to help his laughter, "It's tragic, truly. But, then again, you were the dumbass for burying them in the first place."

"Hey! I'll have you know that I can buy a shit ton of candy if I find them! Plus, one can never be too careful, since there are way too many thieves around here---...oh shit..."

A tense silence quickly enveloped the tree house as Clyde registered what he was implying, making eye contact with Craig at the wrong time, and Token's sudden kick from under the table.

The news of Craig's thievery at South Park High had spread around the town like wild fire, and of course, hadn't missed to inform his friends. To Tweek, it was uncharacteristic, although the townspeople would say otherwise – they didn’t know Craig like he did. His parents grounded him for a while, of course, and he was suspended for three days.

Although the whole ordeal was over, all the same, Craig's eyes momentarily widened in shock at the accusatory look Clyde was giving him, before he went back to his deadpan expression, closing his eyes, and inhaling his cigarette.

"Whatever, man." He muttered, feeling all worried eyes fixated on him, “You all know I did it – it’s over, anyway.” He admitted with a shrug.

"Skin it! I didn't mean to bring it up!" Clyde urged apologetically, holding his hand out, and tearing up.

Almost instantly, Craig rolled his eyes, took Clyde's hand, and quickly let go. No hard feelings between the two - that was what skinning it meant. Something which was vital in friendships, and often forgotten.

"…So?" Token inquired, wanting Clyde to continue on and explain, "What's brought you here so frantic?" He added on.

"Oh, right!" Clyde called out, "Basically, I was digging under the porch, right, and---"

"You found evidence of extra-terrestrial life?" Craig asked, far too hopeful by the theoretical news as his eyes shimmered.

"Uh, no, but---"

"You found the underpants gnomes' secret lair?!" Tweek asked in mortification, expecting the worst as he clutched his hair.

"Jesus, no, Tweek, but---"

"Let him finish, you guys." Token interrupted maturely.

"Oh, whatever!" Clyde called out, clearly fed up by the interruptions, "I don't have to tell you guys anything!" He added on, waving his hand dismissively.

"Great, good going, Token." Craig said with a roll of his eyes.

"What, me?!"

"Shh, guys! Ngh, g-go on Clyde, what is it?" Tweek asked genuinely, turning and bringing the volume of the radio down significantly so.

Clyde's facial expression instantly brightened as Token and Craig obliged at Tweek's order, and he couldn't help but lean forward.

"Okay, so, I was digging under the porch for the pennies, and who do I see standing outside my house through the cracks, clear as day, but that Bartles guy!"

"Wait---you mean that 6th grade kid, back when we were in the 4th grade?" Token asked, resulting in Clyde to nod a few times, "I thought he left town?" He added on in confusion.

"Agh, Jesus! He terrified me!" Tweek yelled, resulting in Craig to pat his head reassuringly.

"Well, him and the old leader of the 6th graders - the one who always wore that shirt with his own face on it - were talking outside my place - heard 'em, clear as day!” Clyde informed, “They must've come back to South Park, since they couldn't make their fortune elsewhere! The two must be 19 or 20 years old by now, although they look much older!" He added on, causing the three boys to laugh slightly.

“And? What were they saying that’s of interest to us?” Craig asked with a raised eyebrow, taking another smoke of his cigarette.

“Well…” Clyde began, only to trail off as his face dropped – the boy’s brown eyes remained downcast, and he kept on opening his mouth to say something, only to close it.

“Go on, man, what is it?! Jesus, I’m getting nervous here!” Tweek called out, tugging on his hair slightly, causing Clyde to look up slowly, shoulders visibly tense.

…D’you guys wanna go and see a dead body…?” The boy asked, voice quiet and meeker than usual, when he had news of importance.

Token, Craig, and Tweek’s eyes widened in unison – of course, Clyde could feel their eyes on him, and he couldn’t help but cough, wondering how to explain the situation.

“It’s not a joke…” He assured, tone serious, “You know how Butters Stotch went missing last week?” He added on in question.

Token furrowed his eyebrows slightly.

“…Yeah, the cops still haven’t found him yet - Office Barbrady ran out of ideas, so it’s up to Park County police force now…” He stated in reply, “…Although, with Sergeant Yates around, no one can relax.”

“Last I heard, Butters went out into the woods near Starks Pond to pick blueberries, and hasn’t been seen since…” Craig muttered.

“Gah! Th-that’s what I heard!” Tweek said with a nod

“Well…Bartles found Butters yesterday. Not in the woods by Starks Pond, though…” Clyde stated, “Not alive…He--…he’s dead. Butters is dead.”

The four hadn’t particularly known Butters that well, but spoke to him in passing – mainly at school – he was a nice kid, although many took advantage of that kindness – Butters was a classmate, to some extent, so it was only natural that Craig’s Gang, as well as other South Park students, would be drawn towards such a local story.

J-JESUS, DEAD?!” Tweek yelled out, feeling himself shiver and twitch all at once, “Oh man, oh manOH GOD!

“Tweek, calm down!” Craig replied in worry, holding the boy’s hand, and stopping him from pulling his hair out.

H-How…?” Token asked breathlessly.

“Mauled by an animal, according to Bartles – he said he saw countless wounds on the body…” Clyde replied.

“GAH! I DON’T WANT TO KNOW!” Tweek screamed.

“Where… exactly?” Craig asked with a frown.

“Beyond that place called U-Stor-It, right next to Tweek’s family business…” Clyde replied, “And…in The Lost Forest.” He informed, “The only possible entrance to the forest is the one by U-Stor-It, since the whole perimeter is fenced off with barbed wire. Bartles went through that entrance with a car he had stolen just for fun, travelled 30 miles up North, following the straight path, and found the body.”

“OH GOD, WHAT!?” Tweek called out.

“…’30 miles up North, following the straight path’?” Craig repeated in question, blinking for a moment, “I’ve been there before, then!” He stated loudly in realisation, jumping up out of his seat, “It’s right where the small slope leading to the river is, right?” He asked, and Clyde tensed up, before registering the question, and staring up at the boy in shock.

“Y-Yeah! Yeah, he mentioned a slope leading to the river! How did you know!?” He replied in amazement, proceeding to stand up, too.

“Back in the 3rd grade, me and my dad used to fish there, before it was fenced off completely!” Craig explained, putting his cigarette out, eyes wide, “The river was almost like the sea, so we went there instead of Starks Pond! I remember that area well!

“T-Then, if we actually go there, the car Bartles stole to get there in the first place should be a marker that we’re on the right track, since he said he crashed it near Butters’ body!” Clyde replied, "He was told to keep his mouth shut by the old 6th grade leader, and not to report a thing to the cops!” He added on.

“Wait…what?!” Token asked, “Why?!”

“The cops know Bartles doesn’t own a car, and they’ll ask questions as to how he got so deep into the forest in the first place, and what he was doing! Heck, they might even charge him for Butters’ death, as well as the boosted car! He was terrified at the thought, believe me, guys!” Clyde insisted, “So we can go and see it, right now!”

“Well…we don’t have a car, neither…and walking might be tough - it’ll feel endless.” Craig muttered quietly with a muffle, biting down on the nail of his thumb as he pondered around in his thoughts.

“H-how about we just make an anonymous call to report where the body is!?” Tweek asked frantically, causing Clyde to shake his head.

“Apparently they trace those kinds of calls.” The boy replied, “Then we’ll be the ones in trouble, and interrogated.”  He added on, before pausing, “And…there’s one more thing…”

“Oh shit, what now!?” Tweek asked.

Trent Boyett is out…He’s now leader of the gang of the old 6th graders.” Clyde stated, “Bartles mentioned something about how he wished they were in Trent’s car, so they could report the find without a problem…”

A silence was present, until Token let out a shaky laugh.

“…Shit.” He said.

“Jesus, man, if they knew you were hidin’ under there, they would’a killed you.” Craig muttered gravely.

“Yeah...” Clyde replied with a laugh, “Scott Tenorman, that old 9th grader, also met up with them outside my house, so he must be a part of that gang, too…” He added on, “Dude’s like 23 or 24 but all the same, he’s dangerous.”

“Oh, Jesus!” Tweek squeaked.

“So, Craig – what do we do?” Clyde addressed in question.

“…We’ve got to go and retrieve the body. Not just view it, like some art exhibition sculpture.” Craig stated, almost instantly, “Walking will take us two days, at most, and will be difficult, I won’t lie to you guys - but we’ve got no choice but to power through it – plus, there’s no way we can get our hands on a car without lookin’ suspicious whilst drivin’ into The Lost Forest. The cops’ve started patrollin’ around town today, and are on everyone’s asses, too.”

“All the more reason not to go by car…” Token agreed.

“So…we---we’re going to walk through the forest for two days to find a dead body, and bring it back to the cops?! GAH, OH GOD!” Tweek yelled out.

“That brings up the question…” Clyde commented, “What d’we tell our folks?”

“Easy,” Craig replied composedly, “We’ll all tell our folks that we’re camping out at Token’s, and Token will tell his folks that we’re camping out by Starks Pond. Then, we’ll tell them that the day after camping, we’re heading to the mall and grabbing dinner there in the evening, too.”  He explained.

The three boys listened to their leader in amazement, and Tweek couldn’t help but nod slowly, although he still made strained noises and twitches, attempting to muffle his voice.

‘If only I could have Craig's confidence…’ He thought to himself - Tweek could remember saying that to his taller friend once, causing Craig to state 'the key is not to give a fuck'.

“So we’re rock solid until tomorrow night...” Clyde muttered, holding his chin in thought, and furrowing his eyebrows.

“Wait, we’re leaving today!?” Tweek asked, “Ngh! But---but, I’m not prepared! Emotionally!”

“Are any of us, Tweek?” Craig asked reassuringly, placing a hand on his best friend’s shoulder, “Look, we’re all sticking together, and sneaking into the forest. We’ll be careful. Retrieving Butters’ body is the moral, right thing to do, don’t forget. We can’t just abandon him.” He added on, voice soft.

“Oh shit!” Clyde called out, “But---but, if we do find him, then what do we tell the police?! They’ll contact our folks, they’ll know we trespassed into The Lost Forest, and our folks will find out that we lied about where we were!”

“We’ll just tell them we wanted to widen the search, and aid them.” Craig replied, “Sure, our parents might be mad that we lied, but heck, it’s worth it! They can’t touch us for saving Butters’ body, and neither can the cops – plus, we’re doing this for Butters’ sake, our morality, and our fame!”

“…H-Hey - hey, yeah!” Clyde beamed, “We’ll be famous! We’ll get into the papers!”

“….W-we might even be on TV!” Tweek added on, “Directors might scout me, too!”

“Sure!” Craig beamed, “We’ll be like our 4th grade superhero alter egos!”

“Yeah, but what about Bartles?” Token asked, folding his arms, “He’ll know that Clyde was listening in, or think it strangely convenient that he came across the exact place where the body was, two days after he was talkin’ about it right outside his house. He’ll get suspicious, then kill Clyde differently, or get Trent Boyett and Scott Tenorman on him.”

“If it comes to that, then I’ll defend him - don’t sweat it, Clyde.” Craig reassured, resulting in the younger boy to tear up and sniffle, hugging him (much to Craig’s discomfort).

“Craig! You’re the best!”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Craig replied dismissively, “Now, let’s all meet back here at 10am – make sure to bring your camping gear.”

Sir, yes, Sir!” Clyde beamed, saluting jokingly.

Gotcha.

Ngh!

Chapter Text

Tweek wondered how such a turn of events came to be.

As the blond boy was sat on his bed, in the comfort of his home, he stared down at the fluffy carpet-covered floor - of course, the room was a mess - clothes, books, and some of Craig's belongings were taking up most of the space - namely, on the floor itself. Posters were stuck up on the walls, although many threatened to fall off at any moment – usually at night, Tweek found, wondering if the underpants gnomes had something to do with it.

The boy's desk wasn't any better, either. His Ambra computer took up far too much space than necessary, stacks of paper with messy handwriting scribbled all over them were spread out over the desk, and coffee mugs were as present as ever, either empty, or half-finished.

However, instead of worrying about the mess, Tweek had other things to worry about in his mind.

Namely the fact that himself and his friends were setting out to find a dead body.


"Alright, Tweek, here's your coffee thermos - make sure you don't lose it!" Richard Tweak began, leaning against the kitchen counter as he held out the thermos for his son in one hand, whilst the other held his own cup of coffee.

Richard was a burgundy-red sweater-wearing man in his mid-30s, with short, curly, dark-brown hair, a pointed nose, and a charmingly calm air about him - not like, Craig, however. 

To Tweek, Craig was different. A good kind of different.

The blond boy nodded his head as the two stood in the kitchen, with Mrs. Tweak pacing around, standing up on her tip toes from time to time, and rummaging through the cupboards. As Tweek took the coffee thermos, he quickly took a sip of it, feeling the buzz of the warm liquid, causing Richard to chuckle.

"Slow down, son." He commented, causing Tweek to twitch, nod, and pack it away, similar to his sleeping bag, which was rolled up and hung over his shoulder.

Eventually, the short-haired woman with light brown hair and a button nose, equally as calm, approached her son with a smile, eyes kind and gentle.

"Here's some snacks in case you boys get hungry." She stated, presenting multiple boxes and packets of biscuits.

"I-I'm not 9 anymore...I can handle myself..." Tweek replied as he denied the snacks, causing Richard and Mrs. Tweak to laugh lightly. 

"He's right, Honey - plus, Token must have provided the snacks already."

"Oh my, you're right!" She admitted in realisation.

After a few seconds, Tweek forced a smile of thanks for the offer - he couldn't help but twitch once again at the lies he was telling his parents.

"But still, you'll always be our little boy, Tweek." His mother stated, the smile not having left her face.

"Never forget that, son." Richard added on.

Tweek wasn't one to often tell his parents where he was going, since, in his eyes, they hardly helped him - their stories never went anywhere, too - that was a fact.

But maybe this time was different - maybe Tweek needed to seek the comfort and help from his parents, for his own sake.

'Agh, Jesus! What am I doing?! I'm going to see a dead body, and these guys have no idea!'

Just then, Tweek jumped at the sound of someone performing the secret knock on the house door.

"Aw, it's Craig!" Mrs. Tweak stated brightly, "He still does that secret knock of his - how sweet!" She added on lovingly.

"Why don't you invite him in, Tweek?" Richard asked, smiling happily.

"Ngh! No!" Tweek replied, "We have to go and meet Clyde! And Token is waiting!" He explained, "So I'll see you guys tomorrow evening!"

"Have fun, honey! And be safe!" His mother replied with a wave of her hand.

"Also, uh, Tweek..." Richard began, trailing off with an awkward cough.

Tweek blinked, turning his head around to face his parents one last time, as he had practically walked out of the kitchen, making his way towards the door.

"Just...be careful of your belongings, son. We know Craig means well, but..." Richard stated cautiously, trailing off once again, voice relatively quiet. Mrs. Tweak couldn't help but nod her head.

Tweek stared at the two, before furrowing his eyebrows.

"Craig isn’t a thief." He stated defensively, “You two should know that better than anyone else…”

"No, we know, we know!" Richard reassured sensitively, "It's just...You can never be too careful. I'm sure it was just a one-time thing...Him stealing the school’s money…" He added on, although Tweek knew for a fact that they didn't believe that for one second.

Even to his parents, Craig Tucker was a thief, and they wanted to keep an eye on him. All the better if Craig was invited into their own home. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

'You fakers...' Tweek thought to himself, turning back around, and continuing to make his way towards the door. His parents hadn’t addressed him any further as they went back to what it was they were doing, before their son’s appearance.

Tweek quickly opened the door to exit the house, feeling the warm air hit him all at once yet again – his emotions had gotten the better of him, knowing that Craig was stood there in front of him, yet couldn’t bring himself to meet the elder boy’s blue eyes.

"Hey, Tweek - ready to go?" Craig greeted in question, voice muffled, given that a circular lollipop was currently in his mouth – as he pointed behind his shoulder with his thumb, his other hand was in his jean’s pocket.

"Yeah..." Tweek muttered as he closed the door behind him, eyes downcast.

Craig couldn’t help but blink in realisation and part his lips, before cocking an eyebrow.

"Hey, Tweek, what's wrong? You okay?" He asked, "Normally you'd say something like 'what is this, prom?', or whatever…" He added on, unable to help a hollow laugh.

Tweek jumped at the boy’s realisation, quickly bringing his head up, and staring at Craig – he forced a smile, despite his twitching.

"Y-yeah, yeah, I'm fine, I'm fine!” The blond boy reassured, “Anyway, did your folks suspect anything?" He asked.

"Nope." Craig replied, gesturing an a-okay, "Yours?" He inquired.

"No...In fact, they’re so oblivious, that they wanted to invite you in." Tweek muttered, missing out the last part of what they had 'warned' him about – he couldn’t do that to Craig, "They love you more than their own son!"

"I'm honoured." Craig stated, unable to help his grin, “Now, let’s go.” 


"Want some?" Craig offered, holding out the spherical, coloured lollipop for his friend to take.

Tweek instantly felt his face heat up at the offer, turning his head away as the two walked down the roads of South Park side by side, making their way towards the tree house.

Gah! N-no way, man!” The blond boy replied, “Germs can spread so easily!” He informed, and Craig couldn’t help but roll his eyes.

“C’mon, just have some. It won’t kill you.” He replied monotonously, “You’ve been eyeing it up the entire time we’ve been walking.”

“WH---“

“You’re not exactly subtle, y’know.” Craig interrupted, unable to help the smirk playing on his lips.

Tweek instantly twitched at the comment, feeling himself tense up.

N-no! Gah! Jesus! Th—it’s cause…” He trailed off, and Craig patiently waited for him to explain, “You-your lip…”

“Hm? Oh, right.” Craig muttered, “Guess you didn’t wanna taste the blood on it.” He added on apologetically, “My bad.” He finished off, throwing the lollipop to the side of the road dismissively.

“Ngh! W-What happened, anyway?” Tweek inquired.

“Random couple’a punks bumped into me without sayin’ sorry.” Craig replied, shrugging, “I think you can figure out the rest.”

Tweek let out a sigh, rolling his eyes.

“I don’t get why half the people in this town need to be fucking assholes.” The blond boy stated, “Especially those old 6th grade kids…”

“Who knows.” Craig replied shortly.

"But Craig, seriously!” Tweek began, stopping himself from walking any further. Of course, Craig walked a few steps further, before pausing, and turning around to face the boy.

“What is it?”

“Bartles probably knew that Clyde was under the porch, don’t you think?!” Tweek asked, tugging on his shirt, unable to help twitching, “It's all probably a trap! Like we’re all just a pawn in one big game! Their Gang will be waiting there to kick out asses! Or kill us! You have to believe me!"

Craig stared at the boy worriedly for a few moments, before sighing out, and making his way towards the shorter.

"Tweek, it's okay," He replied reassuringly, putting an arm around the blond’s shoulder, "I brought something for self-defence..." He whispered, leaning close to Tweek’s ear.

Tweek couldn't help but twitch at the proximity of their faces, and how Craig hadn't hesitated to close the gap between their bodies - he was urged by the taller to continue on walking, and did so.

"W-what d'you mean?" Tweek whispered back in reply, looking around cautiously.

After a few moments of silence, Craig removed his arm from around Tweek's shoulder - he then smirked, beginning to run - or rather, bolt - down the road. Of course, almost instantly, Tweek began running, too, and couldn't help but laugh at the sudden race which Craig had announced without words - he often did such childish things, attempting to relive their 4th grade lives, Tweek guessed. 

Before the two knew it, they were panting, just as out of breath as Clyde was before. As they stood behind a restaurant’s back exit, where the dumpsters and trash were, the two were bent over, hands on their thighs.

"J-Jesus man, what are we doing outside Raisins?!" Tweek asked through multiple pants, attempting to catch his breath.

"…Y-you wanna be protected, don't you?" Craig replied in question, catching his breath, too.

Tweek couldn't help but squint his eyes, turning his head to look up at Craig, who had now straightened his posture.

"Well, yeah, but...Don't think I can't fight, too! Cause I can!" Tweek assured, face flushing, "It's just, if it is a trap, then those guys will probably have switchblades or something, and know how to use them, unlike us…A-and if we do come across wild animals, then we can't fight them!"

"Exactly - so, this is the only way to protect ourselves, when fists won’t work." Craig replied, "And it's not a weapon you can just wave around in public, which is why I'm showing it to you here." He added on, looking around carefully whilst turning his head left and right.

Tweek straightened his posture curiously, blinking and tugging on his shirt.

“W-What is it, man?!”

After a few moments of deafening silence, Craig carefully put his hand into the inner pocket of his jacket, pulling out a silver, shimmering object. Tweek’s eyes widened at the presented weapon, which looked brand new, and practically unused.

It was a gun.

“…J-Jesus Christ, Craig! A gun!? W---why?! I mean, how?!”

“Took it from my old man’s gun cabinet,” Craig replied in explanation, seemingly unfazed, “I managed to grab a few shells, too.” He added on, passing it over to Tweek for him to inspect.

Tweek quickly took it, eyes shining in amazement as he turned it left and right. He was scared whilst holding the weapon, there was no denying it, but it was oddly soothing – like he had some control over his life. The gun was heavier than it looked, and the boy couldn’t help but twitch, trying to handle it as carefully as possible.

“Is…is it loaded?” The blond boy asked, holding the gun up and squinting one eye as he aimed it at one of the trash cans.

“Nope.” Craig replied, hands on his hips, “My dad will think he used up the shells when he was drunk, and went out with his friends to shoot beer cans, or something. So we’re safe.”

“…This is amazing, Craig…” Tweek replied, making shooting gestures at the trash can, simultaneously making explosive sounds. The boy then placed his fingers on the trigger, calm at the fact that it was unloaded, and pressed down.

However, before he knew it, a deafening crash resounded throughout the area, as a lone shell was sent flying into the trash can, smoke coming from the gun – Tweek and Craig’s eyes widened in shock as they yelled out, instantly making a run for it down the road, and running a couple of blocks.

Hey, who’s setting off smoke bombs out here!?” A young waitress who went by the name Lexus Martin called out, opening the back door of the restaurant as she looked around.

As the two boys were running, Craig was unable to hold his laughter in.

“Oh man! Tweek, that was so cool!

Shut up!” Tweek snapped in reply, clearly terrified as he shoved the gun into his friend’s hands. The taller took the gun and quickly hid it back in his jacket’s inner pocket.

After a few more moments of running, they came to a gradual slowing down, with Craig trailing behind Tweek, stifling his laughter.

“Dude, that was priceless! You should have seen your face!” Craig exclaimed.

GAH! Y-You knew it was loaded, asshole!” Tweek retorted, his head turned to face Craig whilst frowning – the boy had sped his pace up out of anger, before turning his head back around, “That Raisins girl must have seen me! Oh Jesus! Now the cops will come for me!

“Chill, Tweek, she thought it was smoke bombs.” Craig assured calmly.

“Still! You’d better not fucking push me again like that, man!” Tweek snapped in reply.

Craig blinked in surprise, before quickly running in front of the boy, and grabbing his arm.

“Hey, Tweek – look, I’m sorry.” The black haired boy began softly, “I didn’t mean to make you feel awful and scared…” He added on, “But honestly, I didn’t know it was loaded.

Tweek stared at Craig with squinted eyes, taking into account what he was saying.

“You swear?” He asked.

“Yeah.”

“On your mother’s life?”

“Yes, I swear on my mother’s life.”

…Pinky swear?

Craig paused at the shorter boy’s distrust with squinted eyes, before sighing out, and taking Tweek’s hand, forming a pinky swear between them. He took the time to notice how, just like his hair, Tweek’s hands were soft, too – the two then unlinked their fingers after a few seconds, and Craig couldn’t help but give a short cough whilst looking away as he scratched his cheek.

“There, pinky swear – do you trust me, now?” He asked monotonously, now inspecting his best friend with half lidded eyes.

“…Yes.” Tweek replied, offering a small smile, which Craig returned instantly, putting his arm around Tweek’s shoulder as they continued to make their way.

Scott Tenorman and Trent Boyett, at this moment in time, were in the process of exiting the South Park Billiards, a local sports bar dedicated to drinking and playing pool, with a sign just outside of its door claiming ‘No Minors Allowed’. Scott, now 24 years old, shaded his eyes with one hand, squinting at the scorching sun as he had opened the door.

The old 9th grader hadn’t changed that much throughout the years – pale, freckled skin, large ears, a pig-shaped nose, and large, bushy red hair (which was now gelled back). The only thing one could notice indefinitely was that he had grown slightly taller, and wore a black leather jacket, blue jeans, and a white shirt.

“Sure is hot.” He stated in irritation, turning to Trent for an agreement in reply.

Trent, however, aged 18, didn’t reply to the comment as he flicked his cigarette to the side - a permanent scowl was visible on his now-slender face (with hints of stubble growing on it), despite his disinterested demeanour. The boy’s golden chain necklace shimmered as it made contact with the sun, as did his short blond hair, gelled back in a similar fashion to Scott. With his tattered leather vest being red in colour, the boy’s muscular arms were shown off, emphasising his tough stature – two tattoos were present on both. The left one had a skull with "Never Forget" on it, and the right one had a cross with "Vengeance is Mine, sayeth the lord" on it.

As soon as he saw the two guys, Tweek felt himself tense up, and cling to Craig’s jacket. Craig, of course, seemed unfazed, continuing to make his way past them, hands in his pocket. The streets were practically empty, too.

“Hey, look who it is!” Scott beamed, “It’s the thief and his boyfriend!”

Craig’s facial expression instantly hardened, turning his head to look the taller in the eyes. Tweek suddenly felt his defensive instincts kick in, and he couldn’t help but let go of Craig, staring at the two with a frown.

Watch your fuckin’ self, Tenorman.” Craig snapped, flipping him off.

“Oh, did he pound a nerve or something, Tucker?” Trent inquired in amusement, his Texan accent far too audible.

Not as much as he pounds you during sex, asshole!” Tweek interjected. Craig, of course, let out a snigger at the comment.

“Now Tweek, is that any way to talk to a fellow classmate?” Trent inquired amusedly, cocking an eyebrow as he ignored Scott’s look of disgust, who was attempting to come up with a witty comeback.

“You stopped being a classmate the second you were sent to Juvie.” Craig stated, eyes half-lidded, “Setting fires in this day and age? Really?

“What can I say, I burn lots of stuff.” Trent retorted, “Not my fault some building in this shitty town was in the way. And anyway, got out at the end of the day, didn’t I?”

“The only reason you got out in the first place was ‘cause you got bailed out by your boyfriends, who just love to eat – rather than kiss – your ass.” Craig replied in composure, sending Scott an accusatory look, unable to help his smirk.

“Why, you little—“

Scott was then interrupted after having Trent place a hand on his shoulder, pulling him back with a violent jerk. The blond made his way to close the gap between himself and Craig, glaring at him.

Watch it, Tucker.” He warned.

“And after you turned 18, it was too much work for the cops to just send you to big boy prison.” Craig continued on offhandedly.

“Don’t test me, Tucker. You know goddamn well I got out through parole.” Trent replied.

“Sure. Although your attitude isn’t upholding to the ‘promise of good behaviour’…” Tweek stated, and Trent couldn’t help but send the shorter a glare, too, before smiling.

“That aside, heard you two homos graduated high school two weeks ago.” He stated, “12th grade...senior year, huh? Must’ve been fun.”

“It was. More than fun – it was awesome without you.” Craig replied.

I bet.” Trent said, the bright smile not having left his face.

Just at that moment, before Tweek knew it, Craig was pinned down to the floor by Trent violently, as the boy had a strong grip on his neck and shoulder – Tweek’s eyes instantly widened, and he parted his lips, calling out to his best friend. As Craig winced at the warmth of the stone pavement, feeling as though his skin was melting into it, his body was now fully lying on the floor. However, before Tweek could tackle Trent, he was pulled back by Scott, who had an equally strong grip on him.

S-Shit, man!” Craig called out, his strained voice putting his helplessness on full display, “C’mon, seriously!” He urged, squeezing his eyes shut as Trent loomed over his body, still having a grip on him, smirking.

“I’m a man of justice, so I’ll ask you this – oi, open your eyes!” Trent snapped, “Know what this is, Tucker?” He asked.

Scott, of course, looked on at the sight with hysterical laughter whilst holding Tweek back – Tweek, who, in the midst of urging them to stop it and let Craig go, noticed how Trent had reached into his pocket, and brought out a shimmering silver weapon, with the words ‘Kill all betrayers’ scrawled onto it. Trent then brought the weapon close to Craig’s face, almost digging it into his cheek, and the boy’s blue eyes widened in fearful recognition.

Fuck---shit, you asshole! Let go of me, man!” Craig called out.

Answer!” Trent snapped.

Ngh--Just let Tweek go, you assholes!” Craig replied, “Then I’ll answer!

“What, so he can try to kick Trent’s ass?” Scott asked, “I don’t think so! Answer the question now, Tucker!” He stated with a kick to Craig’s side.

A switchblade, you stupid assholes!” Tweek called out subconsciously in a panicked reply, after seeing Craig wince yet again.

Trent merely looked up at Tweek with a chuckle.

“Correct.” He stated, before looking back down at Craig, “Hey, your boyfriend sure is smart, Tucker.” He addressed, “Now Craig, you know where this switchblade will go the next time you or your faggot boyfriend speak out of turn?” He continued on in question.

Fuck---

Right into your fucking guts. Got it? Say yes.” Trent ordered.

F-Fuck you, man! Let him go!” Tweek interjected.

Yeah, okay, okay!” Craig snapped.

Alright!” Trent beamed, instantly retracting his switchblade and putting it back in his pocket – as the juvenile jumped, pulling Craig with him to stand up, he began to dust him off in a supposedly friendly, calmer manner. After a few seconds, Tweek was then let go of by Scott.

“See you later, girls.” The red-haired boy stated with a malicious smile, waving at the two.

Trent didn’t have any more to say, and began walking down the street in the opposite direction to where Craig and Tweek were heading, hands in his pockets. Scott then abruptly made his way over to Trent’s side, their backs now facing the two as they walked away.

Craig and Tweek stared in shock at what had just happened whilst breathing heavily, before Craig gritted his teeth, and punched the nearby wall.

Gah!

Shit!

Chapter Text

"Craig - Ngh! J-Just let me just look at it, man!" Tweek strained, pulling on the end of his hair with multiple twitches, "It might get infected!"

"It's fine, Tweek.” Craig muttered calmly in reply, proceeding to light his cigarette - the blood seeping out of his knuckles had now dried up, dark red mixed with smudges of light red, due to punching the wall beforehand, "Look, we're almost there, and we don't wanna make Token and Clyde worry, so just forget it..." He added on in a muffle, cigarette now between his lips.

The two boys continued to make their way towards the tree house, approaching the grassy hill with long strides - after having his life threatened, and punching the wall, Craig was quieter, in Tweek's opinion - and the blond, being Craig’s best friend, of course, couldn’t help but worry immensely.

A tense silence was now present between the two – although Craig had stated not to talk about it anymore, Tweek knew it was vital to do so. Craig was the one who had taught him to talk about his emotions, and feel what he had to feel, after all.

“…But what about you?” Craig asked, breaking the silence, “Are you okay?"

"...Craig, I'm fine." The blond stated, "But...you were frozen! Gah! T-There was nothing you could have done to prevent it, so it’s not your fault - that bastard pinned you down suddenly - no one saw it coming. Ngh!" He reassured, as stably as he could to make his friend feel better, “I just wish I could’ve done something to help!”

"...Tweek, it’s not your responsibility.” Craig replied, readjusting the strap of his backpack, which hung off of his shoulder, “I could have put the barrel of the gun right in between that bastard's eyes, and pulled the trigger.” He added on, “I could have at least had it hidden behind my back, just in case something like that happened...but I miscalculated.” He stated, “I didn’t think he’d actually pull a switchblade out on the streets, or have Tenorman start a fight with us. They're both jacked in the head."

Tweek studied his friend for a few moments, before sighing out.

“Craig, you're my best friend - of course it's my responsibility…and I agree, they're fucked up. B-but it was bad luck that no one was around to see it. At least then, the cops could've gotten involved, and Trent would've been put away for good.” Tweek replied.

“We’re not going to the cops, neither. It’s pussy.” Craig stated, causing Tweek to nod – as much as he wanted to go to the cops, Tweek knew that, next time, Craig would be prepared to face Trent Boyett.


“I hope you assholes brought your campin’ stuff.” Craig greeted as he climbed up the entrance of the tree house, exhaling smoke as Tweek was following behind him, unable to help a few coughs.

Shh! Hold on!

The two blinked after hearing Clyde snap at them whilst sniffling, only to see him and Token sat there silently, their eyes closed as the music coming from the radio was reaching its end, resounding throughout their sanctuary.

For a moment, Tweek felt overwhelming emotion, and Clyde, with his hands clasped together, was crying, letting the tears fall freely.

“This song is just too good!” He stated, “Reminds me of back when I broke up with Bebe…”

“More like how she dumped your ass.” Craig retorted whilst inhaling his cigarette, resulting in Tweek to nudge him for ruining the moment, and Clyde to burst into tears all at once.

“I have to admit, Stan has some good music taste.” Token began, nodding slowly as he felt the rhythm of the music.

“He probably used his shitty computer to search up breakup songs.” Craig said with a laugh.

Before the four boys knew it, however, the song had faded out, and Big Gay Al’s voice came through the radio once again. Clyde couldn’t help but quickly wipe his eyes, sniffing deeply, and exhaling.

And that was Bonnie Raitt’s song, released a year ago, ‘I Can't Make You Love Me’ – requested by Stan Marsh, in dedication to Wendy Testaburger!

“And that’s enough for now!” Craig stated, putting his cigarette out as he walked over and turned the radio off, “Token, did you bring the tent?” He inquired.

“W---…a tent?!” Token asked in disbelief, “You tell me how I’m meant to carry all that heavy stuff over here and throughout the  entire trip, exactly!"

“Great, so we’re sleepin’ in nothin' but our sleepin’ bags in the middle of The Lost Forest.” Craig muttered, rolling his eyes, “Didn’t your parents tell you to take one with you?”

“I told them that you’d bring a big enough one for us to sleep in!” Token reasoned.

“We can keep watch at night. Ngh!” Tweek replied, “I can't sleep...ever.”

“Hey, good idea, Tweek!” Clyde beamed.

“We can take turns usin’ this badboy, then.” Craig stated, presenting the gun to his friends casually.

Woah!” Token gasped in amazement, with Clyde’s jaw dropping.

Walkin’ talkin!

"Hold on...what happened to your hand, dude?!" Token asked in shock, noticing Craig's bloody knuckles.

“Not important. Let's go, already!” Craig urged, putting the weapon away – this caused Token and Clyde to send each other a worried glance, before nodding their heads repeatedly, putting their backpacks and sleeping bags over their shoulders as they stood up, ready to go.


 

The four boys stood in front of the entrance to The Lost Forest, inspecting it without words.

Rather than finding the words, it was almost like they couldn't. Tweek felt more and more on edge after they had walked past his family business (which was closed for the day), as well as the storage facility, U-Stor-It. They could feel everything around them growing darker.

And then, before the group of boys knew it, there the broken part of the barbed wire fence was, big enough for a car to drive through it. It was rusted, and multiple signs were hammered into the grassy floor behind the fence, as bold writing stated: 'Caution - Dangerous animals may be present on trail'.

Tweek clutched at his shirt, unable to help a gulp and a twitch.

“W-Why would Butters go through here, anyway?” He asked timidly, before looking around, clearly cautious - the cops had yet to make an appearance, and others on the streets were too far away to notice what it was that they were doing.

“Maybe it was his escape, just like our tree house..." Craig replied with a shrug, eyes lidded heavily as he looked up at the towering trees - he noticed the greenery loomed over both the fence, as well as them.

"He must’ve been here countless times if he managed to travel 30 miles, don't you think?" Token asked, nodding his head to agree with Craig to some extent.

"He'd never run away, since he was scared of his folks - they'd ground him for the stupidest things, too." Clyde stated, "So yeah, he definitely knew where he was going. He managed to follow the trail the entire time, too, and didn't get lost or distracted."

"I remember bunches of blueberries also grew by the river, so...that explains it.“ Craig stated, flicking his cigarette to the floor and stepping on it, a hand in his pocket.

“Butters travelled 30 miles and approached his usual hangout. He then picked the blueberries, and about to head back, got mauled by a wild animal…” Clyde listed off in inspection, holding his chin, "Looks like I've cracked the case, guys!" He stated, clicking his fingers.

"Shut up, Clyde." Craig muttered.

"Alright, let's go." Token urged, crouching down ever so slightly to make his way through the broken fence.

After being the first one to successfully enter, Token silently gestured for them to follow, dusting himself off afterwards.

Clyde followed suite, unable to help his cautious head movement after successfully passing through - already, one could see how much the forest was freaking him out, since he practically clung to Token's side.

Craig eyed Tweek entire time, equally as cautious.

"...D'you wanna go first?" He asked softly, resulting in Tweek to jump, visibly shaking.

"Crai--Craig, I don't think I can do this, after all! I mean, it's been a week since he died, right?! What if his body is all rotten, and rats are eating him?! I can't handle seeing rotten flesh, or guts, or blood, man!" Tweek strained out, talking extremely quickly - Token and Clyde stared on in shock at their blond friend's mannerisms, and Craig's face scrunched up in worry - he quickly took Tweek by the shoulders, forcing him to look into his eyes.

"Look, it'll be okay. I'm here," The boy reassured, "We're all here, okay? We'll get through it together. We decided we'd do this, didn't we?"

"I didn't say I'd do it!" Tweek replied with a snap, before parting his lips in shock, feeling guilty, "I just..." He trailed off the more he looked into Craig's eyes, unable to help his small twitches - although, he couldn't lie, Craig's touch must have had magical powers, or something - he felt at slighter ease, "I don't know, I just..." He attempted once more, before looking away.

"It's okay, Tweek." Craig replied, "I'll be here the entire time, okay?"

Tweek looked back into Craig's eyes - their gazes on each other remained persistent for quite a while, and Craig had no intention of letting go of Tweek, until he knew that the shorter boy was at ease. Tweek took the time to notice that their bodies were rather close, too - it was a strange situation, but a strange situation that Tweek was used to, since Craig always did this to comfort him at his worst.

Token and Clyde, feeling as though they didn't have anything to say to reassure Tweek, looked elsewhere, waiting patiently.

Tweek, after a few moments, brought his head down to look at his feet, feeling his face redden – it was rather embarrassing, being reassured and pampered like a child by Craig - the blond could only give a small nod in reply, having calmed down significantly, and Craig smiled, letting him go.

Tweek shuffled towards the fence, walking through.

After doing so, and straightening his posture, the blond boy felt an entirely different wave of air envelop him, as well as his senses.

He slowly turned his head to peer into the dark, wooded path, completely immersed in inspection. The path was hard to make out, in general. The trees also varied in colour, size, and classification, practically covering the sky above them, and a lot of bugs were present, making Clyde strangely happy (his superhero alter ego back in 4th grade was called Mosquito, after all). 

Token, clearly unamused, began swatting a couple of flies away, feeling the sweat trail down his forehead as the heat made itself more and more known.

Tweek then jumped and yelped out after feeling a hand tap on his shoulder - whipping himself around violently, he let out a sigh to see that it was Craig who had done so.

"Let's go." Craig urged with a smile, resulting in Tweek to nod.

And so, the four set out into The Lost Forest, attempting to find the dead body of Butters Stotch.


 

The sun was as scorching as ever - to the group of boys, who were currently en-route to the ‘blueberry river’, as dubbed by Clyde, it felt like they had been walking forever. Although no one else, except for Clyde, voiced their discomfort - maybe it was the isolation of the forest making them feel strange.

The four travelled in a straight line as they followed the grassy trail, one behind the other – Craig was at the very front as he led the way, having the most knowledge on The Lost Forest in general. Tweek walked behind the taller boy, clutching to his own shirt mostly, or drinking from his coffee thermos – instead of looking around and feeling uneasy, the blond focused on his best friend’s back, realising just how well-built Craig actually was around the shoulders, despite his relatively thin body. Clyde was walking behind Tweek, staring down at the ground most of the time – the slightest noise made the boy jump, whether it be from the woodland critters rustling around in the bushes, or from Token, who had accidentally tripped on a stone behind him.

The sunlight hardly peaked through the trees, but all the same, the rays enabled the visibility of dust particles floating above the trail, as the cicadas were fully audible.

"Hey Tweek...gimmie some of your drink..." Clyde stated with an extended whine, his pleading tone far too obvious. The brown-haired boy had hunched his back as they walked, letting his arms sway from side to side.

Tweek instantly turned his head and obliged towards his slightly taller friend’s request with a nod, handing his coffee thermos over. 

"Thanks..." Clyde sighed out, deciding to tilt his head back and drink all at once - his eyes then widened in shock, and he couldn't help but spit the liquid out, choking, "Eugh! Tastes like shit!" He exclaimed with a splutter.

"T-then don't drink any, asshole!" Tweek snapped, "Gah! You've wasted my coffee!" He added on, twitching.

Craig laughed.

“Don’t worry, Tweek – I’ve got lots of snacks in my bag.” The black-haired boy reassured, “That is, unless Clyde eats them all in less than ten minutes.” He added on accusatorily.

“Thanks, Craig…And please don’t, Clyde!”

“Hey! Just what do you take me for?!” Clyde asked, clearly offended as he stripped his backpack off of his shoulders, presenting it boldly, “I’m the one who brought the radio along, so you should be nicer to me! We need tunes if we wanna survive!”

“Whatever.” Craig replied shortly.

“I’ve brought water and juice, too, so don’t sweat it, Tweek.” Token added on with a smile, holding on to the strap of his bag which hung off of his shoulder. Tweek couldn’t help but send the boy a thankful smile, before turning back around, facing Craig’s back as they continued on walking.

“Hey, I’m tired! Maybe we should take a break?” Clyde called out in inquiry after a minute.

“Clyde, we’ve only been walking for an hour…” Token reasoned, looking down at his watch to see it read 11:30am, then at the boy with squinted eyes.

“Yeah, but how far, is the real question!” Clyde replied.

“Who knows.” Craig stated with a shrug, “I’d say around three miles by now.” The boy added on, looking around, “Actually, come to think of it…” He began, stopping his movement.

The three boys blinked at their leader, as they brought their movement to a stop, too.

“W-What is it, Craig!?” Tweek asked, fearing for the worst.

“I just remembered,” Craig began, turning himself around to face the group, “Back when me and my old man drove through this path, there were wooden signs tellin' you how far in you were.” He informed, “The signs began at 3 miles, so the marker for it should actually be around here somewhere. If we find it, it means that we’re on track.”

“Maybe the greenery covered it up, and grew over it – it’s been years, after all.” Clyde stated.

“I doubt it. If Butters coming here regularly was true, he would've kept the signs intact, and scavenged around." Token reasoned.

Wait!” Tweek called out suddenly, upon peering through the trees, “Craig, d’you mean something like that?!” He inquired, pointing.

The three taller boys instantly turned their heads to where Tweek was pointing curiously, blinking in shock at his find.

A slightly tilted wooden sign, visibly rotting as moss grew around it, had ‘3 Miles’ carved into it.

“That’s…” Craig trailed off with his sentence, “Oddly convenient.” He stated in a mutter, before nodding his head, “But yeah, that’s it. Good find, Tweek.”

Tweek felt a strange feeling in his stomach upon being complimented by his friend – he quickly clutched to his shirt, smiling bashfully as he stared down at the floor.

“There’s still 27 miles left, then!” Clyde whined, “Then add on the extra 30 miles we need to travel back! That’s 57 miles altogether! That’s long!”

“I didn’t know you could count.” Craig commented, quietly enough for Clyde not to hear, with a smirk.

“Still, you must have super powers, Craig!” Clyde stated with a beam.

“Well, I did fulfil an ancient prophecy, so…” Craig shrugged, not knowing what more to say.

“Wasn’t that in a dream?” Token asked, cocking an eyebrow.

“Yeah, but it was still real to me.” Craig replied, proceeding to flip the boy off, “Don’t dead my hype, assface.”

“Gosh, sorry, Super Dick!” Token retorted, rolling his eyes.

“It was Super Craig, actually.” Craig corrected in a deadpan manner, “If you’re gonna refer to the 4th grade, do it better.”

“Man, I remember how badly you and Tweek fell out – somethin’ about sides and traitors!” Clyde stated, resulting in Tweek to twitch immensely, and blush.

GAH! I-I’d rather not remember!” Tweek stated, “I—I mean, we were young, and—and arguing with you was bad enough, Craig!” He explained.

“I know, Tweek.” Craig replied softly, “I was the same, but…It brought us closer together. So it’s worth remembering.” He added on, before noticing what he had said – the boy awkwardly knit his eyebrows together, before looking away.

Tweek’s eyes widened at the reply, and he parted his lips, wanting to say something – however, the words didn’t come.

Clyde and Token couldn’t help but cringe at the reply.

“Gosh, do you guys need a moment alone?” Clyde asked, nudging Token, “C’mon, let’s keep walking!” He urged, gesturing for them to walk side by side in front of the two boys, at quite the respectable distance, where Tweek and Craig could talk privately.

Token obliged all too quickly - of course, Tweek blushed at the implications, and Craig flipped them off. The two then began walking side by side, too, continuing to make their way towards the Blueberry River.

Tweek couldn’t help but fiddle with his hands, twitching at the awkward silence. Clyde’s laughter and weird gestures didn’t seem to fill the awkward silence up enough, however - the brown-haired boy was inquiring about which superhero would win in a fight against the other, with Token discussing his answer seriously.

Ngh! Y-You know, I don’t think I told you this, but I was so happy when you lent me your computer, back in 4th grade…” Tweek stated as he snuck a glance at Craig, wanting to dispel the tension already – he could feel his ears reddening by the second.

Our computer, you mean.” Craig corrected, unable to help his smile towards the shorter boy. Tweek jolted slightly.

“Well, I mean…you know! “ The blond strained out in reply, “You brought all the stuff over from your house, and set it up in my room…I just felt guilty!”

“Why? We’re best friends, aren’t we? You’d have done the same.”

“Still, you trusted me with…our stuff, after I had spilt coffee on my old computer…”

Craig shrugged.

“That’s what friendships are based off of. Trust.” He replied, before laughing, “God, you’re still Wonder Geek, aren’t you? Always worryin’ about things. Even about stuff from the 4th grade.” He teased in question, unable to help his grin.

“P-piss off, Super Dick! Sorry for caring!” Tweek retorted with a smile, eventually bursting out into laughter, as did Craig.

A few moments passed.

“Still, it’s weird – before 4th grade, we had no idea the other even existed.” Craig stated, exhaling to calm his laughter down.

“Y-Yeah – but I prefer now.”

“…Me too.”

The two smiled as they looked down at their feet, paces synchronised.

“So…after summer is over, you’ll be a college kid, huh?” Craig asked airily.

Tweek blinked in surprise, before cocking an eyebrow.

“What? Ngh! Y-you’ll be one too, Craig!” He stated, looking at the taller worriedly.

“Sure.”

GAH! What is that supposed to mean?!”

“I mean…” Craig trailed off with his sentence, before sighing out, and looking over at the blond, “Token’s got his old man’s connections, and the brains to enter university in a heartbeat.” He informed, “And Clyde will end up working in his old man’s shoe store…" He trailed off.

Tweek paused for a moment in thought.

"They both told me – that they’re not goin’ to college. They've cancelled their college applications.

'Oh.'

Nghs-so!? That doesn't mean we'll never hang out with each other again!” Tweek reasoned, somewhat frantically.

“And I’ll…”

Craig quickly cut his sentence off, frowning slightly – after a few seconds, he released his tense facial expression, sighing out yet again.

“Look, you should meet better guys when you get to college – good guys. Not like us. Token excluded, but all the same..."

Ngh! B-but I don’t want to meet other guys!” Tweek snapped.

“Truthfully, you shouldn’t be hanging around us – it’s asshole. We're a bad influence. You should cut ties with us, after we find Butters.” Craig muttered.

“What---what are you saying?!” Tweek asked, “What's asshole about wanting to be with your friends?!”

“It’s asshole if your friends drag you down!” Craig snapped, before exhaling in an attempt to calm himself down, “Look, you’re smart, Tweek, and you’ll go far in life. And maybe back when we were kids, it was okay to mess around, but now…you have a future to worry about!”

Tweek squinted his eyes in confusion, knitting his eyebrows together.

“Craig, what are you saying---“

"I’m going with my old man when summer’s over…to help him out at his company.” Craig stated, “I'm going to cancel my college application, too. So...I’ll be busier with work, you’ll be busier with college.” He added on shortly, “We’ll see less and less of each other – you’ll find new friends, I’ll find new friends.” He muttered, before pausing, “Heck, maybe we’ll both meet someone in our respective places. We can’t get influenced by each other, to the point of dependency.”

"But…you told me we’d enter college together…We promised…” Tweek stated, "I mean, sure, I'm upset that Token and Clyde won't be with us, but...with you, it's...entirely different! What we promised - was---was that a lie....?” He asked.

"No---Jesus, Tweek, no!” Craig replied with wide eyes, before ruffling his black hair out of frustration – the words weren’t coming out correctly, “Look, sometimes, things change. We're practically adults, right? My old man’s been breathin' down my neck about earnin’ some extra cash instead of studyin’, so that I’m prepared for the future. Childish paper rounds don't do it for me anymore, neither. Plus, my bike is broken.” The taller explained, “So it’s…complicated. I changed my mind about college, since my old man has a point.”

“Yeah, but that’s your dad talkin’! Ngh! N-not you!” Tweek snapped, “You’re smart too, Craig! Smarter than most!”

“The key is to not give a fuck.” Craig replied.

“So why do you care about work all of a sudden, man?!” Tweek retorted, “You’re wasting potential by working early! You'll get a better job and finally leave this shitty town, like you've always wanted to, if you study and graduate first! We decided we'd do that together!”

“Look, let’s just forget about---“

There you go again, trying to change the subject!” The blond interrupted, “Craig, you were the one who told me to feel what I had to, and talk it out! So you shouldn’t be so hypocritical, and do the same!”

Craig couldn’t help but tense up, not knowing what else to say.

Tweek paused, studying his best friend carefully – he then softened his expression, melancholic.

“Tell me honestly – and seriously – you want to work, instead of go to college…?” Tweek inquired.

 Craig paused, before biting down on his lip casually, eyes half-lidded.

…Yes.” Was his reply, "I'm cancelling my college application, after we find Butters' body."

Tweek glanced to the side - It would hurt; he couldn’t lie - not seeing his best friend as much as before, gradually fading out to become the face of another stranger. But often, that was life.

So, Tweek sighed out, closing his eyes to compose himself. He then forced a smile, looking into Craig’s eyes. He’d just have to make the most of the time they were spending together, here, now.

Alright, Craig. AlrightNgh!---I’m sorry I snapped. I just care about you.”

“…I know, Tweek. I care about you, too. We’ll make the most of this trip - I promise.