There was no book written with how to cope with these sorts of situations. No on taught him what he was supposed to do, sitting down at the cashier’s desk of the shoe store, watching people come in and out, the other staff members interacting with them. He was close to the end of his shift, eyes lingering on Bebe who was over by the fancy heels she loved so much, helping one of the customers out with her shoes.
A different blonde was in his face in a moment, wild eyes wide and full of fear. Strange eyes, with one blue and one green, in a way that was so unbelievably familiar. It seemed almost like he was letting out a quiet humming noise before he hissed through his teeth in a whisper and asked:
“Can I please, please hide behind your desk?!” the words came rapid fire in his direction. “My ex just came in and I can’t face him right now.”
It was a snap decision. He gave a quick nod, gesturing for the blonde to come round the other side, before the vibrating bundle of nerves had dived down and was crouched on the floor behind the counter. Clyde looked up to scan the store, meeting Bebe’s curious gaze with a shrug, before he tried to pinpoint an ‘ex’.
“Hey, dude, you nearly ready?”
Clyde looked up. He saw one of his best bros on the other side of the counter, dark hair covered by his stupid blue snapback, leather jacket in place as usual.
Familiar mismatched eyes…
“Clyde? For fucks sake, dude, wake up.”
“Oh!” he brushed off the weird feeling and odd connection in favour of giving Craig his full, undivided attention. “Right! Yeah, I’m nearly finished. I just gotta clock out, should be about ten mins.”
“What’s the point in being the future owner of the store if you can’t sneak out early?”
Clyde grinned wide and waggled his brows. “I don’t wanna jinx it, but Bebe’s been warming up to me again, and I’d hate her to think I’m leaving her in the shit.”
“That girl is never going to warm back up to you now she has employee discount and you know it.”
Clyde blew a raspberry at his friend before giving a toothy smile. “I’ll be out in five, will that make you happy?”
“So happy. You have no idea. I thought I saw…I’ll be outside.”
The taller boy turned on his heel and marched out the store, leaving Clyde on his own with-?!
“Is he gone?!”
Clyde looked down, seeing wide puppy dog eyes looking up at him. “Who?”
“Craig! Is he gone?!”
“Uh, yeah, he’s just left…”
The blonde was on his feet in seconds, speeding round the other side of the counter. “I can’t believe how stupid I was! Of course you work here! In this shop! Future owner-I should’ve checked! I can’t believe I was so-?!”
“Wait!” Clyde reached out, racing round to grasp hold of a pale wrist that poked out the sleeve of a green hoody. “Dude, what’s up? Why are you…?”
Glistening eyes turned back to him, white teeth gnawing down on pink lips and-!
Clyde let out a loud, dramatic gasp. “No way.”
The man scowled at him and tore his wrist back. “Get off me!”
“The ex you were hiding from…was that Craig?”
“Yes!” he hissed. “It was Craig! I didn’t realise you knew him! Or that you were-Clyde!”
“You know me?”
“Of course I know you, you’re like, his best friend or some shit! He spoke about you!”
Clyde felt a smile begin to spread across his face. “He spoke about me?”
The mismatched eyes narrowed and his jaw fell slack. He gave a scoff before he turned and tried to head out the store once again.
Clyde was faster this time, grabbing his arm and pulling him back, putting himself between the blonde and the door. “Wait!”
“He’ll be outside waiting for me.”
The blonde hesitated. His jaw snapped closed.
“Let me go out first, I just gotta grab my things from the back and ditch the work shirt. Wait in here.”
The eyes narrowed further. He nodded slowly.
“Great! I’ll be as fast as I can!”
He stopped in his tracks, looking down at the thin boy. “What’s up?”
“Why are…you helping me?”
“What do you mean?”
Blue and green eyes flickered from side to side, narrow shoulders curling in on themselves. “Why are you helping me? Your Craig’s friend! You should…I dunno, man, be an asshole or something?!”
Clyde shrugged the question off, giving what he hoped was a winning smile. “I dunno, dude. Maybe I’m just a sucker for pretty blondes?”
That seemed to stun the blonde in question into silence, giving Clyde a chance to escape into the back room to grab his things and speed away as quickly as he could.
He was stopped at the exit to the staff and store room by Bebe, who leant in with a glint in her eyes and her hands on the door frame.
“Who’s the blonde?”
He waggled his brows at her. “You jealous?”
She simply rolled her eyes. “In your dreams, Dono-man. Who is he? Seriously?”
“He’s Craig’s ex. He’s avoiding him or something and needed to hide.”
“Ooh, an ex, huh? Who knew that was Tucker’s type?”
Clyde pressed his palms together in pleading prayer. “Please, please, please let me pass! I promised I’d be fast so I could get Craig away from the store entrance so he could leave.”
“Betraying your bro? Really? I never thought you had it in you.”
“I’m not betraying him, I’m just helping out a customer, alright?”
She pursed her lips before pushing back with a flourish of her hand. “Fine. After you, lovely.”
The pair got back into the store and Clyde gave a quick wave to Craig’s ex-boyfriend as he passed, who’s red cheeks darkened as he gestured for Clyde to hurry up. Outside the store Craig was there with his eyes glued to his phone, surprising no one. Clyde gave a soft shoulder bump to get his friend’s attention, grinning up at the dark haired boy.
“I’m ready to go!”
Craig’s brows pulled together. “You didn’t change you shirt? You always change your work shirt.”
“I just-I’m super stoked to get out of here.”
He didn’t mention the fateful encounter to Craig, who was in high spirits about the movie they were going to watch. It seemed like an out of place thing to bring up, especially on their bro-date.
By the time it had finished the encounter with the ex had been pushed to the back of his mind.
He didn’t expect Craig’s ex-boyfriend to reappear. The next day when he was tiding up one of the shelves that had been left in a bit of a state someone came to stop next to him, tattered vans that were definitely in need of replacements, and baggy jeans that led up to-!
“It’s you!” Clyde let out a yelp as he knocked himself off balance and landed on his ass.
“Shit! I’m so sorry-I didn’t mean to-oh, Jesus, let me help you up!”
Clyde laughed it off, taking the hand offered and pulling himself to his feet. “Don’t worry about it, dude. It happens. What can I do you for?”
When he was up close and not mid panic, the blonde seemed to have the most expressive face. It was a stark contrast to his friend Craig, who’s facial expressions ranged from ‘somewhat positive’ and ‘mildly irritated, but not invested enough to actually care’. This guy though? This guy seemed to wear every thought on his face. The way his eyes flickered around like he was constantly scanning the area, and the way he chewed his lip and his brows which were constantly moving.
“How did you manage to deal with Craig?”
The thought had caught him off guard. “It’s just-you’re really expressive, dude. Craig’s kind of…a brick wall, sometimes.”
The blonde’s lips pursed. His eyes focused on Clyde. His brows pulled together. “I…I know. He was…refreshing. I guess. But…I’m a bit too…”
Hesitation. A wry smile.
Clyde grinned wide. “So, what’s up?”
“I-I wanted to say thank you. For yesterday. For covering for me,” the blonde grimaced as he raised a hand to drag through his hair, creating a bird’s nest on top of his head. “I put you in a really awkward situation and-I’m really thankful. That you helped.”
A lopsided smile began to spread across his face. “Don’t worry about it, dude. I wasn’t about to drop you in the shit just cause you’re Craig’s ex. I bet he’d be thankful I kept you apart too, if things were really that bad.”
“You didn’t talk to him about it?!”
“Nah, it never came up. He was pretty stoked to go to the movies, so…”
The blonde’s smile was something bittersweet. “Yeah, he’s pretty protective of movie time.”
“I-if-shit-just-!” the smaller boy sucked in a breath and slowed down his speech. “If you want, you can pop by our coffee shop and I can get you something on the house. If you drink coffee. I dunno if…”
“I can drink coffee.”
He’d never drank coffee in his life.
The nervous tension in the blonde’s shoulders seemed to lift. “Cool! Great. We’re on the bottom floor of the mall, near the entrance. Can’t miss us.”
“I’ll pop round after my shift, if you’re still open.”
“I’ll see you then!”
With that the mysterious ex disappeared and left Clyde on his own.
It took a total of ten seconds before he started freaking out.
Bebe was his first port of call. She was lounging in the stock room trying to find cell reception on her phone when he kicked the door open and made her nearly drop the device with a shriek of terror.
“What the actual fuck?!”
“Bebe! I need your help!” he kept the door open, knowing the policy of needing at least one staff on the front at all times. “What do I order at a coffee shop?”
“What do you mean what do you order at a coffee shop? Coffee, what else?”
He groaned at her response. “No, what do I order? Me, specifically? I’ve never had coffee.”
“Why are you so bothered by-oh, don’t tell me,” she sauntered over to the door and pushed them both back out onto the shop floor. “There’s a cute barista.”
It wasn’t entirely untrue.
“Okay, first of all? You’re a mess. Like, one hundred percent, you-really-need-a-hobby kind of mess. And no, scoring chicks is not a hobby.”
He huffed out through his nose in silent protest.
“Second of all, you have the biggest sweet tooth of anyone I know, so I’d suggest like a caramel kinda drink, like how some places do those caramel fraps? You’d probably like them. Or a mocha.”
“What’s coffee even like?”
She gave him a sympathetic look. “It’s kinda bitter, I’m not gonna lie. You mightn’t like it.”
“I’ll try it,” he insisted. It would be rude not to at that point, right?
Bebe had offered to lock up after they finished doing the cash, allowing him to escape a little early to get down to where the coffee shop was. Thankfully he was just in time, as on the door it showed they closed only half an hour after the shoe store did, and there behind the counter stood a blonde with a grin once he spotted Clyde.
“You made it.”
“Yeah man!” Clyde grinned wide as he approached the counter. “I wouldn’t turn down free coffee.”
“What can I get you?”
He followed Bebe’s instructions and fumbled his way through an order, keeping his cool enough that at least the blonde didn’t question his uncertainty. It didn’t take long before the sugary drink was presented to on the counter and the pale hands were running through the mess of locks on top of his head, tugging as they went.
“There we go. Now we’re even.”
“You really need new shoes.”
The blonde blanched. “What?!”
“Your shoes,” Clyde clarified, pointing down behind the counter with his free hand. “I noticed when you were in the shop earlier. They’re kinda old.”
“They’re fine! They’re protecting my feet and that’s all I need.”
“Yeah but new ones would protect your feet better.”
The mismatched eyes narrowed. “Do you always just come out with random shit?”
“Yup!” Clyde straightened himself up. “But don’t worry; I’m happy to save the day, again. If you pop by the shop on your next day off we can get you a nice, shiny new pair that aren’t falling apart at the seams.”
“Oh, wow, so generous of you.”
“I know. I’ll even through in my store discount, if you’re nice.”
The lightly freckled cheeks began to darken. “I-I couldn’t ask that! That’s-like-way too much! You can’t!”
“You gave me a free coffee.”
“Yeah, because you saved me.”
Clyde blew a raspberry. “Please, I hardly saved you. You weren’t in any real danger. Come on, it’ll be fun! Don’t turn down a good deal, dude. You won’t regret it. I promise.”
The narrowed eyes turned away to stare at the tills in front of him. Clyde held his breath as he waited for a response with the biggest, cutest puppy-dog eyes he could muster. Bebe had always said he had the most adorable puppy-dog look.
When the blonde looked up and caught it, spluttering for a moment before he grumbled something out under his breath, Clyde knew it had worked.
“I said fine!” he snapped. “I’ll think about it. Think about it! That’s not-that’s not a definite.”
“Yes! You won’t regret it, uh…”
He looked down at the nametag clipped to the apron.
“Tweek. Tweek! Yes! Craig had mentioned you once or twice!”
“Oh, wow, once or twice. Lucky me.”
He fumbled as he tried to cover his mistake. “I mean-in a good way! Not in a like, bad way, you know? Craig’s never-I’ve known him for ages and he’s never been particular forthcoming with information, so that’s pretty good.”
‘Tweek’ let out a tired sigh, though there was a warm smile on his face. “It’s alright, Clyde. I know. I have to close up shop.”
“Right,” Clyde licked his lips as he took a couple of steps back from the counter. “Well, I’ll see you later then, I guess?”
He walked home holding his coffee, taking occasional sips as he walked. Bebe had been right, even with the sugar it was kind of bitter, but…
He could probably get used to it.
Clyde was ready this time, even though a good week and a bit had passed. He noticed the skittish guy as soon as he entered the store, mismatched eyes flickering round as he scanned the store for something. It was another shift with him and Bebe, his dad in the office working on important Business Things. Thankfully the store was busy enough that Bebe didn’t get there first.
He rushed forward to greet the blonde with a wide smile, who returned it with a little more reserved enthusiasm. “You’re here!”
“Yeah, I’m here.”
“To get new shoes, right?”
Tweek rolled his eyes. “Why do you think?”
“I dunno, maybe you just wanted to pop by to see my beautiful face?”
The laugh that the blonde let out was somewhere between a giggle and a snort. “In your dreams.”
“So, what kind of shoes do you like?”
Tweek shrugged. “I dunno, man, just shoes? Nothing complicated. Or expensive.”
Clyde snorted at that. “Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with my-!” he flicked a finger against his nametag. “-Employee discount. But seriously, what do your shoes say about you? What do you want your shoes to say about you?”
“What?! Why would my shoes say anything about me?!”
“Shoes say loads of things! Just take Bebe’s shoes,” Clyde gestured over to where his co-worker stood, helping a mother and child fit some new school shoes. “Even when she’s at work, she wears flashy shoes. Our uniform code says we have to wear smart black shoes and yet hers still have glittery bows on the back of them.”
“They suit her.”
“Of course they do! Cause she’s so-Bebe. She’s super into shoes, and she’s really outgoing.”
Tweek turned to Clyde. “What about your shoes?”
“What about my shoes?”
“What do your shoes say about you?”
Clyde looked down to the black boat shoes on his feet, shifting his weight about and stretching his ankles. “I mean, these are my work shoes, but…they’re pretty comfy. And I’m also pretty comfy, I guess,” he gave his belly a pat. “Friendly, too, to boot.”
A ghost of a smile.
“The question is, do you want a pair of flashy, outgoing shoes to impress the masses like Bebe, do you want something comfy and welcoming like my lovely shoes, or do you wanna be boring like Craig and get boring black converse.”
“Craig’s converse are fake.”
“Yeah, cause he’s a cheapskate and doesn’t care about shoes.”
“What do boring converse say about you?”
Clyde pursed his lips in thought and stroked the stubble on his chin. “Well, Craig’s a creature of habit, and enjoys the simple things in life. Real converse though? They’re a little more stylish. Like, you enjoy the simple things, but can treat yourself and dress yourself too.”
Tweek looked down at the ground, where his tattered vans were still attached to his feet. “Would it be weird? If I got the same shoes as Craig?”
Clyde scoffed. “No way. You’d be like, ten times cooler, cause you got real ones.”
He dragged Tweek over to the displays that held a variety of converse. It took him a total of ten minutes to pick out a pair of white shoes, eyes glinting as he ran a finger over the canvas material.
Clyde lent in, their shoulders brushing as he got up in Tweek’s personal space. “You know, some people personalise converse.”
“Yeah, like, paint on them and shit. Expressive.”
Tweek’s brows pulled together, looking up to Clyde with those big colourful eyes. “I’m not sure I’m…expressive.”
“Are you kidding?” Clyde’s smile widened. “I think it’d be perfect for you. Let’s get them fitted to you, see if you like them!”
He’d fitted hundreds of shoes before, but there came a point where he stopped helping people. It was usually an age line, where he expected people to be old enough to fit their own shoes. He’d offer the help, but most people declined.
This time he got down on one knee and instructed Tweek to stand once the shoes were on comfortably. He felt round the sides and back despite Tweek’s flustered insistence he was fine, before Clyde stood up and gestured for the blonde to walk a few paces round the room.
Tweek did so, walking around the display before coming to a stop in front of Clyde and giving a nervous smile and a little wave of his hands that looked almost like jazz-hands. Clyde bit back a snigger as his cheeks raised.
“Well? Do they…suit me?”
“They do, yeah.”
“They’re not, like, too flashy? Cause I’m not outgoing like-Bebe?-is.”
“They’re not, don’t worry. I think you’re-they’re perfect.”
The nerves seemed to slowly evaporate into the air, the smile on the pale face becoming more genuine. “Yeah?”
“Yeah,” Clyde cleared his throat and waved a hand at the chair. “Let’s get these bad boys boxed up and paid for, huh?”
It didn’t take long for him to ring them through the till, along with some heavily discounted waterproofing spray to make them last. Tweek gave a small thank you as he took the bag and headed for the store front, a firmness to his walk that hadn’t been there before.
He didn’t even realise he was staring off into the distance until Bebe was snapping her fingers in front of his face.
“Uh, hello-o? Earth to Clyde? You still there?”
He turned to find her red lips pulled into a smirk, one perfectly shaped brow raised in his direction. It was the expression of trouble. He knew it.
“Were you flirting? With a boy?”
Clyde spluttered at the accusation. “Wha-that’s-no! I would-with-absolutely not!”
She raised both brows at that and folded her arms across her chest. “What’s so bad about flirting with boys?”
“Or is it this particular boy? Has he been in before?”
He turned from her, raising the back of his hand to his cheeks to check-cripes he was getting a little warm.
“Are you blushing?”
“I am not blushing!”
“I think you’re blushing and-oh. He…right.”
He stopped, looking up to where she was staring. There, at the entrance to the store, just beyond the doors, were two boys. One tall, intimidating, with his hands shoved into his pockets and a scowl that Clyde could recognise as his uncertain scowl. The other was much shorter, practically vibrating with energy, all arm movements and twitches.
Clyde felt his heart plummet.
“That was Craig’s ex.”
He nodded at Bebe’s observation.
“Shit…Clyde, I’m sorry.”
Tweek said something that made Craig bark out a laugh, the blonde’s face breaking into a temporary smile. Craig gestured to the paper bag in his hands that held the shoes he’d just bought. Tweek turned back into the store.
Their eyes met. Tweek gave a small wave.
Clyde waved back.
“Ugh,” Bebe groaned, as Tweek turned back to Craig. “You sure know how to pick ‘em, Dono-man.”
“What?” Clyde turned to face her. “What do you mean?”
“Falling for your best friend’s ex? Isn’t there some…bro code about that shit?”
Clyde rolled his eyes and waved her off. “I’m not falling for anyone, Bebe.”
“Clyde…” her voice trailed off, smile blossoming on her face as she turned fully to the front. “Craig! What brings you to our lovely retail outlet?”
The brunette turned his attention fully to his best friend, glancing behind him only for a moment to see no one else at the front of the store. Craig had come in fully, making his way to the tills where the pair were lounging.
“Trish ordered some new shoes or something? They were meant to have arrived today and she asked me to come pick them up.”
Clyde snorted at that. “Why’s she not picking them up herself?”
“More important things to do, apparently. I think she’s hanging out with Karen.”
“I remember when your sister would kill for a chance to come see me.”
“Thankfully she woke up one day and realised there were better boys to crush on than my friends.”
“I take full offense to that. You know there’s no boy better than me.”
Craig rolled his eyes at that.
“So, Craig,” Bebe started with a casual flick of her hair. “Clyde tells me you know that blonde kid who just left.”
Clyde poked her in the side. Hard.
She ignored him in favour of prying gossip out of Craig.
“Uh, yeah, I do,” Craig nodded. “That’s Tweek.”
“Tweek, huh? How do you know Tweek?”
He rolled his eyes at her. “Bebe, I know you know he’s my ex. Who are you fooling?”
“Oh, no!” she raised her hands to her mouth in mock-shock. “Your ex?! What on earth happened between you two?”
There was the expression of ‘mildly irritated, but not invested enough to care’. “We dated, we fought, he dumped me.”
Clyde felt a pang of disappointment. He didn’t try place why.
“He dumped you?” Bebe repeated, her gossiping girl façade dropped with disbelief taking it’s place. “Seriously?”
“Yeah, seriously. I get it, we clashed a bit I guess. I…he’s very in touch with his emotions, or whatever. And I don’t care enough or something. What do you care, anyway?”
She shrugged it off. “No reason. Just curious. So, what are the shoes Tricia ordered and we’ll find them on the system, right, Clyde?”
“Right!” he resisted the urge to slap himself out his stooper. “What can I get for my favourite Tucker? And by that I mean-!”
“Trish, yeah, I get it.”
It was simple enough, and Craig was quick to leave once he’d taken the bag from Bebe. The pair called out goodbye’s and love you’s after him, though all they got was an over the shoulder middle finger. Bumping into Tweek had rattled him a bit. Clyde could tell.
“Did he never told you what happened to them?” Bebe questioned as the store fell quiet. “Whenever I have a messy breakup I always tell Wendy.”
“Craig talks a lot of shit, but never really about himself. I knew he was dating someone called Tweek, and I think I’d ran into him a couple of times, but then they stopped dating and that was that. He never went into details.”
“It kinda looks awkward.”
“It does,” Clyde confirmed with a pang of longing. “And if Tweek broke up with him…”
“I’m sorry, Clyde.”
“No. No, that can’t be all it is.”
She let out a sigh. “I know you tend not to give up that easy, but-!”
“I have to get them back together.”
“Woah, slow down there, big guy. Why?”
Clyde gestured wildly at the store front. “Don’t you see? Craig is hurting, I can’t just sit around and do nothing!”
“Babe, sugar, you have no idea what happened. Maybe Tweek is actually crazy-high maintenance and Craig’s better without him?”
“He doesn’t seem crazy! At least not that way!”
“No one ever seems crazy when you first meet them.”
“I have to try something!”
She gave him a firm look. “And you’re doing this for Craig, not just to stop yourself from getting a crush on his ex?”
“Bringing him into the store, making sure his shoes fit, giving him your employee discount? You were flirting with him. I know what your game is.”
“I wasn’t!” Clyde insisted. “He needed knew vans!”
“Alright, but don’t go trying to meddle, okay? At least ask Craig and Tweek first if it’s something they want to explore.”
But Bebe didn’t know Craig like he did. Didn’t know how to tell when his best friend was upset. She just didn’t understand. He had to do something! He couldn’t just leave Craig hurting like that when he had the opportunity to fix it, or at least try to.
He did plan on asking Craig before he made an effort to get him and Tweek back together or at the very least back on speaking terms. He’d been to the coffee shop a couple of times since the first, trying out different sugar concoctions to figure out what his favourite would be. The bitter taste was growing on him.
They had arranged the day before what their plans would be for Jimmy’s comedy show at the weekend. Craig loved to go to those sorts of things, and Clyde loved to support his friends, so they rarely missed one. The decision was so spur of the moment that he didn’t have time to ask Craig first.
“I’m going out to this…thing, tomorrow. Do you wanna come with me?”
Tweek stopped, staring across the counter with wide eyes. The tall takeaway cup sat between them waiting for Clyde to claim.
“It’s just a dumb thing,” he clarified. “My pal Jimmy, he does, like, stand up comedy or whatever, and I’m going to go cheer him on.”
“Is it…a group thing?”
He thought of Craig. Thought about how Tweek had been willing to hide behind some rando’s counter over just passing him in a store. He forced a tight lipped smile. “Nope. It’d just be us.”
“Is it…not weird to invite me out, just us?”
“You know. With Craig.”
“Nope!” he popped the word out. “So, wanna come?”
Tweek’s eyes narrowed in a way Clyde noticed they always did when the blonde was deliberating. Then a small smirk that sent a loud thud through his chest spread across Tweek’s face before he reached forward and took the coffee cup back, picking up a sharpie from the counter top between them.
He began to scribble on the take-away cup before handing it back. Clyde turned it round to find a phone number.
“Text me the time and place and stuff. I’ll wear my new shoes.”
Clyde grinned wide and patted the counter before he began to head backwards towards the door. “You won’t regret it, I promise!”
Bebe disapproved when she found out. She insisted he told Craig before hand so at least one of them were prepared, but given how upset she was when he told her he couldn’t begin to imagine what Craig would be like. He didn’t want to run the risk of the dark haired man not showing up.
So he planned to tell him at the event, while they were at the bar ordering their drinks and he was texting Tweek to let him know where exactly he was. But Tweek arrived quickly.
Really, he didn’t have any time to tell Craig. He totally would have if he did. One hundred percent.
Maybe more like eighty percent.
Once Clyde had laid eyes on the mess of sunshine that was Tweek’s hair his nerves vanished, replaced instead by pure excitement. He was so ready for this to happen. To hang out with his old and new friend, and hopefully mend whatever it was between them.
Craig was less excited.
“You invited Tweek?!”
Clyde gave a good natured punch to Craig’s shoulder. “Relax, dude. It’s totally cool!”
“No, Clyde, it’s not totally cool. How could you do something so-?!”
But the brunette was one step ahead of him. He raised a hand in the air and shouted out for the blonde, who met his eyes with a wide smile and began heading over before-!
Mismatched eyes landed on Craig. The blonde’s excitable pace slowed down. Clyde took the moment to look down and see-!
Converse that were decorated with a handmade touch, greens and blues and yellows all merging together, details he couldn’t quite make out from where he stood.
“Tweek!” he greeted as the blonde got closer, however slowly. “You alright, dude?”
“I thought you said this wasn’t a group thing?”
The directness of the blonde caught him off guard. His moment of weakness was enough time for Craig to scoff and give his own thoughts on the matter:
“Clyde says a lot of shit, you’ll learn when he’s lying eventually,” Craig spat out. “He’s also got a habit of sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong.”
He looked down at the ground with his tail between his legs.
Craig turned back to the bartender and ordered a third drink, handing more money over. Clyde took the chance to get a better look at Tweek, who was practically vibrating with nerves. For the first time since he made this plan he began to doubt it.
“So you found us alright?”
Tweek’s eyes snapped from staring intently at Craig’s back to where Clyde stood. “Yes. Thanks.”
“Cool! Good, I was worried cause I’m not, like, the best at giving directions, so I was hoping you wouldn’t get lost or anything!”
Okay. This was gonna be harder than he thought.
Craig turned and passed a dark drink to Tweek, his own beer in his hands. Clyde scowled at him as the dark haired man began to move, leaving the brunette’s drink at the bar. “Let’s find seats.”
With the three of them having drinks in hands they fallowed the tallest towards the stage, finding a quieter table than where they usually sat. Clyde perked up at the opportunity as he turned to Craig with a wide smile.
“Seeing as you’re the common ground why don’t you sit in the m-!”
Craig grasped his shoulder and forced him down into a seat, allowing the exes to sit either side of him. “You’re in the middle. This was your fucking idea.”
Shit he was in trouble.
“Right! Sure!” he turned to Tweek and tried not to let his optimism leave. “What did Craig order you? Nothing bad I hope.”
“Oh, uh, just,” Tweek gestured to the glass. “Rum and coke. I don’t like beer.”
“Dude, Craig, good call. I guess it’s hard to forget things like that, huh?”
Craig scoffed at the statement. “Sometimes people are good at remembering things. Sometimes they forget, even if its something that happens every week.”
Tweek’s wild gaze snapped to the Tucker boy. “Are you still holding on to that?!”
“What do you think?”
The table fell quiet, allowing the sound of the bar to take over as everyone prepared for the stand up night. Clyde felt his sanity gradually slipping out his grasp.
“Well, well, lookie here! Three little chatter boxes, aren’t you lucky I decided to come.”
The trio turned to the feminine voice behind them. Clyde didn’t think he could pinpoint a time in his life where he had been so fucking glad to see Bebe Stevens, standing behind him in her red pumps and black dress.
She leant forward to place a kiss on his temple. “Wouldn’t miss this fireworks show for the world.”
Bebe moved to take the seat on the other side of Craig, a drink already in her hands. Clyde spared a moment to look to Tweek, who was gazing towards the stage with lines creasing his brow.
“It was Tweek, wasn’t it?”
The blonde snapped his head round. “What? Yes. That’s me. You’re-uh-Bebe?”
“The one and only!” her red lips spread into a grin. “I hope you haven’t been told any horror stories, I’m not as mean as they say, I promise.”
“No, no horror stories. Why would there be horror stories?!”
She shrugged the question off. “Clyde and I used to date, so he knows all my terrible habits.”
“You work together!”
Bebe laughed at Tweek’s confusion. “Yeah, I think he got me the job to get back in my good books or something, and I guess it worked. We’re pretty good friends now, we had things in common to date in the first place, after all.”
Craig clucked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. “Nice pitch.”
“Thanks. I was working on it on the way over.”
Tweek turned to Clyde, brows pulled tight together as he looked up with the light making the blue and green of his eyes look almost identical. “Is that why you invited me? You’re trying to make us friends?”
Christ this guy really got to the point, huh?
Clyde gave a sheepish smile and shrugged. “I want us all to be friends. You’re pretty cool.”
The narrowed eyes of consideration. He felt his heart beat hard against its cage as he waited for the outcome. He hoped Tweek wouldn’t walk. Christ almighty, he hoped he didn’t walk.
Jimmy appeared on stage to greet the crowed and start the evening events. The mismatched eyes turned to the front. He settled into his seat.
Clyde felt a wave of relief and turned to beam wide at Bebe and Craig, the former who gave him a thumbs up, the latter who was refusing to meet his gaze.
Once the show started to get into full swing, Craig had begun to loosen up. He had no doubt in his mind that Bebe was part to thank for that as the pair stuck together and whispered at each other on occasion, snarking about the people around them no doubt. Clyde kept most of his focus on his own blonde companion, who had sat silently beside him for the whole time.
Clyde leant in close, whispering over the sound of the act on stage. “You doing alright?”
Tweek jumped a fraction at the question, but turned with large blue and greens. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“I’m…sorry I sprung Craig on you. And Bebe, I guess.”
A smile that looked more like a grimace. “It’s…fine.”
“Do you not find the acts funny?”
Tweek’s brow furrowed. “I do.”
“You’re not laughing.”
“I hate my laugh,” Tweek confessed. “It’s not big and proud like yours.”
“I’ve been told my laugh’s annoyingly loud.”
“You don’t think so?”
Tweek shook his head slowly.
“I don’t think you need to worry,” Clyde assured with a wink. “My laugh is loud enough to drown yours out, so you can let loose.”
He leant back in the chair and turned back to the act on stage. He knew that Jimmy would be up next to close, and he wanted to be completely focused on it. Focused enough that he missed the look in Tweek’s eyes as the Donovan-style laughter filled the table, or the small giggle-snort that broke free from the blonde’s lips.
Focused enough that he missed the worried look on Bebe’s face after she watched the exchange, or the fact that Craig caught it.
Once Jimmy’s act finished up and the performers for the night said their goodbyes, Tweek was on his feet. There was a strained smile on his face as he looked down at Clyde, fingers tapping together as all eyes landed on him.
“I should go,” he declared quickly. “Thanks for inviting me.”
“Sure! You can stay longer if you want, we’re going to-!”
Clyde’s jaw clicked as it snapped closed.
“Craig-could-you…come outside with me?” Tweek spoke through gritted teeth. “Please?”
The tall boy stood with a quiet murmur of agreement. The pair disappeared from the building, heading to the door with one empty glass and one half finished glass left behind.
Bebe moved into Craig’s seat before she turned to watch out the window the pair talk. It was a bit difficult to see, but Clyde could make them out through the people in the building. It wasn’t hard given the furious hand gestures from Tweek and the looming body of Craig. They watched as the conversation seemed to get more and more heated as time went on. Clyde let out a low sigh, turning to Bebe with a pitiful look on his face as she watched the argument with her usual interest.
“I really fucked up, huh?”
Her brown doe eyes snapped to him. “What?”
“Those two. I fucked up.”
Her expression softened and she wrapped an arm around his shoulders. “Your heart was in the right place, sweetie. And who knows, maybe this is what they needed?”
“To argue and have their nights ruined?”
“Well, yeah. It kinda seems like they’ve both been avoiding each other and they haven’t been able to have an actual conversation. Maybe you didn’t fuck up. Maybe you did good.”
They turned back to the scene outside. Tweek was dragging his hands through his hair while Craig spoke with more emotion than Clyde was used to seeing him have. Whatever he said seemed to set Tweek off, who snapped, practically stomped his foot, and spun round to leave.
Craig stood there for a good ten seconds before he kicked the wall of the building and headed back inside.
He stormed over to the table and grabbed his coat from the back of the chair Bebe had poached. “I’m going. Tell Jimmy I’m sorry I couldn’t hang about.”
“What?!” Clyde was on his feet. “You’re leaving already?”
“Yes, I am. And before you get any funny ideas about following me, or trying to convince me of anything? Don’t. You’ve done enough.”
Clyde had the decency to look down and shut up at that.
By the time Jimmy joined them at their table, Clyde was sniffling back his tears and left Bebe to do the talking.
He didn’t hear from Craig for three days. He sent an array of texts, even going as far as requesting Jimmy to get involved. The one response he finally did get from Craig was a confirmation that yes, they were still friends, but yes, he was also still kind of pissed off.
He left Craig to be the next one to make contact after that. The fury from his best friend left him feeling too ashamed to visit the coffee shop Tweek worked at, let alone text him. It surprised him that it was Bebe who was the one to suggest he make the first move there.
“Look, you like him, in whatever capacity that might be, and I hate seeing you mope about the store like this. It really kills my buzz.”
“No problem. You should go see him though.”
“What if he hates me?” Clyde whined out from behind the counter. “What if he doesn’t want to see me?”
“Then he can tell you. Or, you can take the opportunity of seeing him at work to take advantage of the fact he can’t run away from you cause you’re a customer.”
Clyde looked up at her with his pathetic expression. “I don’t want him to hate me.”
“Babe,” she reached forward to brush a stray brown lock from his forehead. “If he’s gonna hate you he probably already does. It’s a little late for that.”
“That doesn’t help.”
“If he already hates you, the best you can do is try prove he shouldn’t. Not sit and accept it.”
His dad appeared later to thank them both for working and offer Bebe to get away early so he and Clyde could shut up shop. She surprised him by requesting Clyde left first, saying that she wanted to have a quick chat with Mr Donovan about what her shifts would look like once term started up again after the summer holidays.
Clyde dragged himself through the mall at a leisurely pace. When he got close to the slowly emptying mall he found only one person in the coffee shop behind the counter, and it wasn’t Tweek. He resigned himself to another day without the blonde and headed to the exit. He was so lost in his own head that he nearly stepped in on an important conversation.
He caught the dumb leather jacket Craig was so fond of first. As soon as he saw it, paired with electric blonde hair, he pressed himself to the wall of the shop with his heart racing in his chest as he processed it all.
There they were. Tweek and Craig. Talking.
“…ust really sorry.”
Clyde poked his head round the corner to try get a better look at the pair. He caught Craig rubbing the back of his neck with a grimace on his face, though all he could see was the back of Tweek’s head.
“He’s…full of the best intentions. But it wasn’t fair to put you in that position.”
“Don’t worry. It wasn’t your fault.”
He heard the familiar sigh of Craig mentally preparing himself to do something he hated to do: open up. He sucked in a breath, eyes wide as he realised that maybe this was it. Maybe this was the moment they patched things up and both of them stopped looking so…
“Clyde’s really taken a liking to you.”
“It’s a good thing, don’t worry. But he tends to try stick his nose places at times like this. He’s big on helping his friends and everyone getting along or whatever.”
A small tremor in Tweek’s voice. “I had noticed. It’s kinda sweet.”
“I know it’s not…maybe not been enough time, but if you wanted to try…be friends, then…”
Clyde peaked round the corner again, seeing Tweek’s head angled to the floor rather than the lanky boy in front of him. He held his breath as he waited for the blonde to say something. Anything.
“I-I’d like that,” Tweek confessed. “I’ve really taken a liking to Clyde, too. In a-I mean-not like-in a weird way or anything-just-?!”
Craig’s soft laughter cut off the panicked rambling. They all paused to watch a wide smile break across his face, dark eyes full of mirth as he clasped a hand against Tweek’s shoulder and said: “Don’t worry, Tweek. It’s not weird. Clyde would suit you.”
The implications hit Clyde full force.
He was moving before he had a chance to even think about it, bounding over with a wide smile he hoped didn’t betray his inexplicable panic. Tweek gave a small yelp of surprise as he joined them full force, mismatched eyes wide and freckled cheeks a bright red.
Craig on the other hand had the nerve to smirk at him. Like he’d known Clyde was listening the whole time.
“Hey! Guys! What’s up?!”
“Got out of work already?” Craig questioned.
“Yeah, dad’s closing up with Bebe, she wanted to talk about, like, when college starts back up and stuff. What are you guys talking about?”
Craig’s smirk widened. “Nothing important.”
Clyde squinted at his friend, fully aware Craig was trying to imply that he wasn’t important.
“Thanks for coming to see me, Craig.”
The pair turned wide eyed to Tweek, who had got some kind of control over the colour of his face.
“I appreciate it.”
“No problem. I gotta go, I promised I’d go see IT with Jimmy.”
Clyde paled at the very thought. “You have fun with that.”
“We will. You free tomorrow?”
“Yeah, I’m not in. Do you wanna…?”
“I’ll come to yours.”
A wide grin blossomed across his face. “Really?!”
“Yes, really. Now let me leave.”
Clyde managed to squeeze a quick hug out of the man before he shrugged out of it and escaped to the cinema to meet Jimmy.
But his mood quickly dropped once his best friend was out of sight and he was left alone with the very blonde he’d be sort-of-almost-kinda avoiding for the past few days.
He sucked up his pride and turned his most charming smile to Tweek, only to find the mismatched eyes were already on him, staring him down. He faltered for a moment but didn’t let it stop him. This was why he was here. Why Bebe had let him leave early instead. So he could have this very conversation.
“So, uh, hi.”
There was a twitch of a smile. “Hey.”
“I took a step out to talk to Craig while it was quiet.”
Tweek chewed down on his bottom lip as silence settled over them.
“Listen, Tweek, I just wanna apologise for the other night. It was a dick move and I should’ve warned you. And then, like, not taken forever to come see you again.”
“It’s fine, I get that-nn-you were trying to get us to be friends again. Just…please don’t do it again.”
“I won’t! I promise.”
“I’m not good with unexpected people. I need, like, time to prepare myself. Especially unexpected people I’m not on the best terms with.”
“I’ll never do it again,” Clyde swore. “And if I do then you have full permission to punch me in the face.”
Tweek bit down on the smile threatening to break through. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Are you…” Clyde gestured in the air for the words he needed. “Free?”
“Like, right now?”
“I mean, whenever, right now would be great, but whenever works.”
“I’m free. My shift finishes in like, half an hour.”
“Do you wanna do something?”
“Uh, sure? What do you wanna do?”
Clyde grinned wide as warmth spread through his body. “Anything, so long as I get to do it with you!”
“The arcade’s still open?”
It was a place Clyde was familiar with, which meant he was confident he’d be able to impress the blonde with his mad skills. When they arrived and he was dragged over to the air hockey table he found he was the one who was being impressed.
They went through a decent amount of money on the different machines, a good portion of it being sunk into a claw machine in an attempt to win a plush Baymax. When Tweek made the winning play to get the soft toy from the machine and presented it to Clyde, he could’ve kissed him.
He was quick to move them on to the basketball hoops.
It was the one game he destroyed Tweek on. By the end of it the blonde boy fumed as the machines spat out their tickets, the difference between them both obvious.
“Why are you so good at this?!”
Clyde could only laugh at the fury. “I’m pretty into sports, I guess. I played basketball at school. Now I just stick to football.”
“Is it difficult to believe I could be a sports guy?”
Clyde wrapped an arm around Tweek as he grasped his plush and his tickets. “Let’s get you something nice, seeing as you got me something nice.”
Five dumb toys and sugary treats later they were finally leaving, walking over to where Clyde’s car was. Despite Tweek at first declining the lift home, saying he lived close enough he could walk, the brunette insisted that he let him drive. If nothing else than for the chance to see where his new friend lived.
“I was a little mad at you,” Tweek confessed as they pulled up to the house. “A lot mad at you.”
“I…hope I didn’t ruin your night.”
“It was still really good. I think-maybe-it was for the best.”
He practically burst with pride.
“Don’t let that go to your head!”
“Too late. It already has.”
Tweek snorted with laughter. It never failed to brighten his mood.
“This you then?”
“Yeah, this is me.”
Clyde tried to think of something to say, leaning over towards Tweek with one hand on the wheel. “Thanks for not being mad at me anymore.”
“I’m…glad I decided to forgive you.”
He grinned wide. “Me too.”
Tweek reached forward, wrapping an arm around Clyde’s shoulders with a lot more ease than Clyde had considering he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt anymore. He returned the hug with some force and found himself unsurprised that the blonde smelt of coffee beans and cream.
“Thanks,” Tweek’s voice had dropped to a whisper as he pulled back from the embrace, still staying close as Clyde’s arms didn’t drop. “For being my friend even though…”
“It doesn’t matter,” Clyde stated with a small smile, running a hand from Tweek’s shoulder down his side, watching as Tweek’s eyes flickered across his face, between his eyes, down to his lips. “You’re pretty cool, Tweek.”
The eyes settled on his own. Teeth straight from years of grinding bit down on pink lips as a grin began to spread across his face. “You’re pretty cool too.”
It was like boiling a kettle. He didn’t notice it first, and it was so gradual that it wasn’t until it clicked ready that he realised it had happened. He was staring down at Tweek, this boy, and his throat felt dry and his palms were beginning to sweat in their places on his side. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from the splatter of faint freckles across his cheeks that he couldn’t quite see but that he knew were there. From the almost perfectly matched eyes in the darkness of night.
“Can I kiss you?”
He felt the fingers on his back and neck twitch and close to fists, a pink tongue darting across Tweek’s lips.
Then he nodded.
It was short and sweet, experimental and uncertain. Clyde couldn’t have stopped the smile that was breaking forth even if he wanted to, especially when Tweek surged forward for a second taste. He wrapped his arms around the blonde tighter, pulling him closer and soaking up everything that was this sweet, slightly bitter drink that he was growing addicted to and-!
There was the honking of a horn outside. The pair tore apart, flying round to find the source. Further down the street was a taxi waiting out of someone’s house.
“I should go,” Tweek spluttered, regaining Clyde’s attention. “I’ll see you later?”
“Yeah,” Clyde gave a wide grin and a wink. “You better.”
Another of his so-called ‘ugly’ laughs before Tweek got out the car and waved through the window before he made his way up the steps to the front door. Clyde rested his cheek on the wheel as he watched the boy walk, admiring the view he got from the car.
The joy lasted all night. It wasn’t till morning it died.
He stared down at the phone in his hands, text there on the screen for him to take in.
“What have I done?”
It was from Craig, confirming he was going to head over in an hour so to make sure his lazy ass was out of bed. Somewhere between ‘get Craig and Tweek back together’ and Bebe’s accusation of ‘you’ve got a crush’, he must’ve got a crush. But a secret crush. A crush so secret that not even he knew about it.
He thought about calling Bebe, but knew she was at work. He was there when the rota was made. This meant he had no one to help him. No guidance on what he was meant to do next.
What the fuck was he meant to do next?
Craig knocked on the door once before he let himself in and came up to Clyde’s room. By the time he got there the brunette was in a puddle of tears.
“Shit, what happened?!” Craig rushed forward to kneel down on the floor in front of Clyde, who was huddled up on his bed.
Craig placed a hand on either side of Clyde’s shoulders, voice level and calm in an attempt to ground him. “Dude, calm down and tell me what’s wrong. Why are you crying?”
“I’m such an awful best friend!”
Clyde turned to face the floor as shame flooded into his cheeks. “I-I’m horrible! I didn’t mean to betray you like this but-but I just-I just couldn’t-?!”
The brunette stopped. He held his breath in hopes of silencing the sobbing.
“Just tell me what you did. We’ll work from there.”
Craig’s dark eyes pierced into his own. The scowl was more concerned than anything else.
“I kissed Tweek.”
The concern dropped. Craig’s face scrunched up in confusion and he rested back on his heels before the floodgates opened.
“I’m so sorry!” Clyde cried. “I wanted to make you friends again so that you could maybe get back together because I wanted to be able to hang out with you and him but I think maybe Bebe was right and we went to the arcade and then I drove him home and in the car I kissed him and I never meant to! And I never will again, I promise, I’ll stop-!”
The finite way that Craig said his name always got the rambling and sobbing to stop.
When he focused on Craig’s face properly he noticed there wasn’t any anger. On the contrary, Craig was smiling. “I don’t mind that you kissed Tweet. But thanks for telling me.”
“Really. I mean, it’s a little weird, sure, but I meant what I said to him. You suit each other.”
“So you knew I was there, huh?”
“Come on, give me some credit.”
Clyde let out a wet laugh.
“Dude, seriously, you’re not an awful friend. I mean, a heads up on this whole thing might’ve been nice, but if this means you’re not going to try play matchmaker than I’m all for it because that would’ve been a terrible idea.”
“Bebe said that.”
He wiped his nose on the back of his sleeve. “So you’re okay with…Tweek?”
“Give me…some time,” Craig admitted. “Before you want me to be all buddy-buddy with him. But yeah. I’m okay with Tweek.”
“And you’re okay if…if I was to ask him out?”
The signature Tucker smirk. “So long as I don’t have to be there, sure. And you stop crying.”
They spent the next few hours binge watching shit TV and making generic conversation about how each other’s family were. It wasn’t till his dad got home that they realised just how many hours they’d spent in front of the TV doing very little and the man declared he would enlist them both in making dinner for the evening. Thankfully Clyde wasn’t a bad cook.
Once they’d finished dinner Craig excused himself, giving Clyde a half hearted hug on the way out.
“Thanks for looking out for me. Even if you’re an idiot sometimes.”
The tall boy had his phone out and was calling someone before he was even out of sight.
Clyde would find out from a string of excitable messages from Bebe that Craig had been ringing the blonde girl to tell her everything.
He was thankful that his friends had been so supportive. Bebe had done nothing but persistently ask since she found out if he’d asked the other boy on a date yet, and when the first day was over Craig had sent him a warning that Tweek tended to get lost in his own thoughts, and he better have said something after the kiss.
Which he had. He had asked when Tweek was next at work. So he could go see him at work.
So if Tweek had changed his mind he’d be able to pop in, get rejected, and leave.
When he finally summoned the courage to enter the shop he cursed under his breath at his bad timing. There was a queue. A queue with Tweek on the coffee machine as someone else manned the till, all smiles and pleasantries.
He finally got to the front of the queue and gave his most winning smile. “Hey, could I talk to Tweek a second?”
Tweek spun round and Clyde could’ve melted at the sight of him with a couple of pins in his hair to keep it out his face. “I’ll make you a drink and come over in a sec, I just gotta finish up these orders.”
Clyde moved away from the counter and found a table for two, watching as the crowd waiting for their drinks died down. Eventually there was no one left and a second co-worker appeared, taking over from Tweek who was finishing off two coffees. With some small discussion Tweek finally left the counter to join him at the table, sliding one coffee to Clyde before taking a large gulp of his own.
“Isn’t that gonna burn your throat?”
“I’m used to it.”
“Right,” Clyde took a long sip through the straw. That same caramel taste he loved. It was perfect.
“Are you okay? Did-did I do something?!”
He snapped his head up to the worried face. “No! I mean, yes, I am, but no you didn’t do anything.”
“You look a little worried…”
“I was just…I’ve never really asked many…that’s not a good way to start this conversation.”
Tweek narrowed his eyes. Shit. Think of something, Donovan.
“I was wondering if you wanted to go on a date sometime?”
He really admired how easily Tweek’s face seemed to redden. It must’ve been something to do with how pale he was as he raised a hand to cover his pink cheeks and the smile that Clyde just knew was there.
It was enough to give him a spark of confidence as he waggled his brows across the table. “I’m happy to go wherever you’re most comfortable. The cinema, for a meal, stop in at home…”
“You’re a fucking mess,” Tweek declared through his chuckling. “Is it-is it not gonna be weird?”
“Going on a date with me? A kiss is one thing, but…” the smile began to drop. “I don’t want you to upset…your friend. Friends. I don’t want that kind of pressure.”
“If you’re talking about Craig, he doesn’t care.”
The mismatched eyes brightened. “He doesn’t?”
“He actually told me to ask sooner rather than later. Apparently you worry easy, so I should make sure I’m clear about things.”
“Yeah, I do.”
“So I wanna be clear: I’d like to go on a date with you. Multiple dates, if the first one goes well.”
Tweek looked over to see a queue beginning to form at the coffee shop. He licked his lips and made quick work of the rest of his coffee before he stood up, looking down at Clyde with a flush of pink still on his cheeks. “I like quieter places, too much noise is kinda off-putting when I’m trying to eat. I’m off tomorrow, if…”
“We can go when I finish work,” Clyde suggested. “I can pick you up.”
“That’d be nice. I have to get back to it. There’s a queue.”
The brunette shot to his feet, his smile reaching from cheek to cheek. “Sure! I’ll catch you later, okay?”
Tweek’s eyes flickered around the room, his hands wringing together with worry. Clyde waited for him to move, to give the signal that it was okay to leave.
The blonde turned, wrapped a hand round the back of Clyde’s neck, and pulled them together to place a single peck to the corner of Clyde’s mouth before he blurted out: “See you tomorrow!” and ran away.
When Bebe asked later that day if he’d done it yet, all he did was send her cool-shade emoji’s back.