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First to Burn

Chapter Text


Tweek pulled on the sleeve of his sweater, gripping the tight material in his fists to ward off the cold air of a late February afternoon. From outside, he stared longingly through his reflection in the window of Tweaks Bros coffee shop, regretting his decision to wait in the frigid air. The inside was dark and clean with chairs folded on top of the tables and mugs neatly stacked on the shelves, closed for the Friday night but ready for a quick opening tomorrow morning. The fire burner in the back was probably keeping it warm too. Tweek sighed, exhausted and longing to head home to spend his well-deserved weekend doing nothing but staying in his pajamas and playing with Stripe, his guinea pig. With that thought he twitched a bit in anticipation causing his shoulders to quiver, although if anyone were to ask, he’d simply blame it on the cold. To distract himself from the winter chill Tweek glanced at the poster plastered across the front window of his family’s coffee shop. On the poster was a rugged looking man, he had hard eyes narrowed to look intimidating and his finger pointed out as if he were challenging anyone unfortunate enough to pass by. Behind him in bright colours was the American flag, waving proud and strong. Tweek scoffed at the poster, glaring back at the man as if accepting a fight. Tweek hated the ugly thing, he had complained to his father that it was scaring off customers- not to mention the mere insinuation of it kept Tweek up at night- but Richard Tweak only brushed him off. It was their American duty, according to his father, the poster was there to give people hope for the future. Tweek huffed, infuriated with the thought. It wasn’t hope at all; it was war propaganda.

 It had been years since the war of Canada vs. the United States had seized across both nations, taking with it lives and leaving behind destruction. Tweek barely remembers when the war first began, he thinks he was around eight years old. It was a conflict of interest, at least that’s how it had started out. A noble cause between Canada’s beliefs on freedom of speech and concerned American mothers. Mainly the mothers of South Park who looked at the popular Canadian comedians, Terrance and Phillip, as brain washing hicks. Terrified that their children’s young fragile minds would implode with every fart joke or f-bomb, the mothers ordered the gruesome execution of both Canadians. Which, Tweek would like to mention, was broadcast live on television. It was the first big factor in the war, although was not the kicking point in weaponry and solider deployment. The first few years weren’t much in the aspect of war or what one would imagine it to be, mostly political arguments and semi-violent rallies. In March of Tweek’s eighth grade year he’d spend most nights awake past appropriate time with a coffee gripped tight in one hand and his phone in the other. It had been the first time the American military marched onto Canadian soil and initiated attack. Tweek had spent countless hours looking up every article of American vs Canadian battle, one side over taking the other only to be blindsided a few weeks later. It had been a bloodbath. By the winter of sophomore year, the men of South Park we’re beginning to be drafted and with the loss of internet around the summer before, Tweek had to read about it in the newspaper.

Tweek felt a bitter taste rising in his mouth and relaxed his jaw instantly realizing he’d been biting the inside of his cheek in thought, his eyes burned a bit with threatening tears and angerly shuffled away from the coffee shop all together opting to stare down the main road. His breath puffing out smoke from the frozen air, making him push aside any thought that was war related. Instead his mind wondered to Craig Tucker, his longtime boyfriend and the man who was very late picking him up. Blowing out more fog Tweek wondered if Craig pulled over to take a quick smoke break before coming to get him. It would not be the first time Craig had been late to anything only because he couldn’t go fifteen minutes without a cancer stick ignited between his lips.

Tweek couldn’t stop the corner of his mouth to lift into a smile and he realized he must look insane standing on the street by himself smiling at nothing. Craig, the addicted fuck, knew how much Tweek opposed to the habit. He’d bet a lot that his boyfriend was driving the long way with all the windows rolled down to try and rid the smell from his vehicle. A sudden shiver tickled his back this time causing Tweek to jump violently and wrap his arms tighter around himself to keep as warm as possible. Whichever way Craig had gone, Tweek could only wish he’d get there faster. The sun was starting to set and a night in mountain town was not one you wanted to be caught in without a jacket. A wave of luck passed by and Tweek spotted the familiar lights of a rusted red pickup truck turning onto his street. In excitement he straightened himself a little using his hands to smooth out a bit of his wild blonde hair and tugged the bottom of his knitted sweater in a vain attempt to look more presentable.

When the truck finally arrived with a squeaky stop Tweek smiled shyly at the window before walking his way around to the passenger seat.  It was an old truck, sold to Craig by Stanley Marshes uncle, Jimbo, right after the old man was drafted to war. Jimbo had said it was a good truck, though it did need a bit of a fixing up. He had wanted it to go to good use since he wouldn’t be there to take care of it. Jimbo had smiled so softly at the old thing before giving it a few affectionate pats on the corroding trunk, the mere gesture pulled roughly on Tweek’s heart strings. Regardless of Jimbo’s infatuation with the truck, he wasn’t wrong about the vehicle needing to be fixed up. It had been badly rusted from years of frosty winters, two flat tires, and a couple problems under the hood. Tweek didn’t know much about cars, scratch that he didn’t know anything, but he could tell the old thing was a ticking time-bomb. Regardless, Craig bought it for dirt cheap. Thomas Tucker helped Craig all summer between Junior year and Senior year fixing it up. They did a pretty good job and the old thing runs fine now although it took Craig two and a half weeks to convince Tweek it wouldn’t explode as soon as he’d start the engine. Tweek does appreciate the truck now, it had given him and Craig more freedom. Tweek could also appreciate the small amount of muscle Craig had built while working on it all summer.

Craig on the other had was extremely proud of himself and the truck. He’d told Tweek one day while taking him out on a drive through the town with the windows rolled down, the radio playing, and ice cream melting on the seats, that when Jimbo returned from the war he’d ask him to help paint it back to the racing red it once was. Tweek had stared at him for a moment with his jaw open before quickly closing it when Craig turned to him with a rare carefree smile on his handsome face. In that moment he had resembled an innocent child who’d had a silly secret but was too giddy to keep it to himself. It was sweet, Tweek almost never got to see Craig excited about anything. He mustered up the best half smile he could, deciding to bite his tongue on the likeliness that Jimbo would return at all.

“Hey babe,” Craig greeted as Tweek eagerly threw opened the heavy door and lifted himself onto the bench seat of the truck. Craig looked casual sitting in the driver seat staring back at Tweek with dark green eyes. His right arm was slung over the back of the passenger side and Tweek gladly settled into it, mostly pleased to be welcomed into the warmth, his fingers tingling from a change in temperature. Once Tweek had fully settled into the seat and the chill from outside slipped out of his spine he turned his attention to Craig.

“You’re late,” Tweek greeted back. Craig stared at him blank faced, nodding slightly and using his arm to try and pull Tweek in closer to him but Tweek swatted him away in favor of putting on his seat belt, “I was freezing my ass off out there,”

“I’m sorry, lemme help warm you up,” Craig said as he scooted a little closer to Tweek when he wouldn’t budge, running his left hand over Tweek’s upper thigh and giving it a squeeze. Tweek noticed with only minor horror that Craig wasn’t wearing his seat belt.

Rolling his eyes at Craig’s lack of caution he turned his attention to the radio pretending not to feel the burning touch of Craig’s fingers grazing his leg, “I hope the smoke break was worth it. I don’t know what you’d do without my ass.” Tweek said with a blush and Craig gave his thigh another ginger squeeze causing Tweek to jerk suddenly, accidently turning the radio volume up a little too loud. 

“Actually, I wasn’t smoking,” Tweek turned to Craig with a confused and disbelieving look while Craig just stared back at him. He cocked his eyebrow in question, but Craig gave no answer merely shrugging and continuing with his thigh massage.

“What took so long then? Surely you didn’t forget about me,” Tweek joked half heartily, playfully swatting Craig’s large hand off his thigh. Craig eyes instantly darted down to where his hand was promptly removed and glared at the small space between his hand and Tweek’s leg, offering no flirtations back. A wave of embarrassment splashed its way through Tweek’s mind, and he quickly added, “Dude, did you actually forget? Oh man, I could of froze to death!”

“Relax Tweek,” Craig finally answered, “I didn’t- I wouldn’t forget about you. Something come up and I was a little busy,” Craig looked back up at Tweek, his eyes softened mildly, and he swiftly placed his hand back onto Tweek’s thigh, reconnecting the warmth amongst them.

Tweek hesitantly nodded in compliance although Craig’s reactions had taken Tweek aback for some reason. Having known each other since they were young children, not to mention they’ve been dating since they were ten, Tweek had developed a six sense when it came to Craig. So, when a nerve in his brain rang, warning him about his boyfriend appearing slightly off, a switch deep inside his subconscious flipped itself on. In that moment a strong zap of anxiety raced across the pit of Tweek’s stomach and a pulling sensation spread through his abdomen as if raising a red flag. Tweek’s instant reaction was to reach for his golden hair and give it a harsh pull. Craig immediately tsked and leaned over to catch Tweek’s wrist in a tight grip and unfold Tweek’s fingers from his locks. Tweek felt himself tug a little too hard before relentlessly letting go, a few strands of blonde hair pulled away from his scalp with his hand. He could feel Craig’s eyes watching him intensely; embarrassed about his small outburst, Tweek blushed and visibly gulped down his raising anxiety. He ignored the feeling of his panic settling in the bottom of his belly as he plucked hair from his fingers and tossed them out the window.

“Well whatever, I uh guess we should head over to Clyde’s? Everyone’s probably there already- and probably drunk, we’ll have a lot of catching up to do,” Tweek said, lifting his thumb to chew on the hang nail and looked out the windshield. He half expected Craig to start the truck and go and half expected him to go on a tangent about how Tweek will likely be bald by the time he’s twenty-five.

“Can I kiss you?” Tweek was not expecting that. He turned his head a little too fast, teeth still chewing on his thumb when he stared at Craig. The uncomfortable feeling in Tweek’s belly numbed and he nodded eagerly, his stomach instead filling with butterflies as he watched Craig shift closer in the seat. Tweek leaned in himself straining against the seat belt to get as close to Craig as possible, closing his eyes and puckering his lips in childish excitement.

He smiled a bit, though he tried to hold it back when Craig’s thin lips pressed against his. Craig wasn’t gentle, he was rough when he kissed Tweek, harsh like he was trying to breathe again and the only thing keeping him alive was Tweek’s mouth on his. Tweek secretly preferred it this way. Craig’s hand, which was still on his thigh, twitched and grabbing at Tweek before moving up slightly towards his hip. Craig’s other hand was gently stroking Tweek’s cheek before moving down to cup around Tweek’s jaw and pulling him more into the kiss. Tweek moaned at the contact and melted deeper into Craig’s mouth, letting Craig lick his way past Tweek’s lips to take swipes at Tweek’s tongue.

When they pulled away panting Tweek pouted, chasing after him till the seat belt started digging into his collarbone painfully and he backed down. Craig wiped his grinning mouth with the back of his hand while he shuffled his way back towards the steering wheel and Tweek wanted nothing more than to ditch the party in favor of spending his Friday night locked away in Craig’s bedroom. Deep down he knew Craig had the same urge even as he turned to key to awaken the trucks loud engine.

“Do we really have to go? I bet Clyde’s so fucked he won’t even notice if we didn’t go.”

“We have to go,” Craig answered, he turned the wheel and pulled away from the sidewalk onto road, “he has my pack of smokes.” 

“Oh god, of course,” Tweek huffed out in slight sexual frustration, going back to pick at his hang nail and staring at the darkening sky above.

The party was already in full swing when they had pulled up to Clyde’s house around ten fifteen. Mostly everyone was stashed inside where it was warmer and closer to the alcohol. A few stragglers had found themselves outside on the porch steps, including a familiar Kenny McCormick who had grinned like a Cheshire cat and waved his half-finished cigarette at the sight of them.

“Finally! The party’s here, I was starting to get bored,” Kenny laughed as he pulled out another smoke and patted the spot beside him on the porch. Tweek could only assume he was talking to Craig mostly, unless he was hiding a pouch of instant coffee for him.

“Dude, it’s freezing outside. I’d figured you’d try to warm up between a group of sweaty chicks,” Craig called back while he slammed the driver’s side door and walked into the crisp night. Tweek hesitated momentary as he glanced begrudgingly at the brightly lit house. His eyes followed the silhouettes of the drunk party goers through the window as he slipped out of the car.

“Yeah, well, it was quieter out here,” Kenny grumbled looking down at his grossly worn sneakers, ash from his cigarette staining the concreate steps he was sitting on, “and I don’t gotta watch ‘em from outside.”

“Ah,” Craig agreed, which caused Tweek to tear his eyes away from the house and curiously watch Craig and Kenny share a look. Craig gave Kenny a half-hearted glare, nodding his head towards the house in indication. Kenny only shrugged in return before looking away and taking a long drag. A bubbling feeling of jealously began to spread between Tweek’s shoulders, like a child who had been left out of a funny joke. Instinctively, Tweek sucked his cheek in like a fish and began to chew on the inside flesh.

“I’m gonna stay out here,” Craig whispered to Tweek once he had caught up to Craig at the steps to Clyde’s door. Kenny whistled at them and made kissy noises followed by inappropriate jokes about Tweek being the hired stripper, his momentary uncharacteristic melancholy attitude quickly forgotten. Craig and Tweek simultaneously rolled their eyes at him, “Token’s inside somewhere, find him - he’ll keep you company. I’ll come look for you later.”

Tweek gave Craig his best pleading eyes. He hated walking into these things by himself, he always felt awkward and never knew where exactly he was supposed to go. Craig just smirked and gave him an affectionate smack on the butt - to which Kenny giggled at - and an encouraging nudge towards the door. Groaning Tweek sauntered towards the party, tossing Kenny a harsh glare as he pushed his way into the house.

Upon opening the door, the sound of early 2000’s bops made its way through the crowed hallway. Tweek could only guess that Clyde set up his old CD player in the living room and had his favorite Much Music party mix playing on repeat. Clyde’s house was one of the oldest in South Park and very small with only a kitchen/living-room split, two tiny bathrooms and a bedroom which basically only fit one twin sized bed. People were already bumping into one another and he hadn’t even taken more than three steps in, which Tweek silently stressed was a safety violation if there happened to be a fire. Despite this Clyde loved his place almost as much as he loved having people over to fill the empty spaces. His father was drafted back in grade eleven, part of one the first batch of South Park men to leave, along with some of his friends’ fathers. He was also the one of many who never came back and only three months after deployment, Clyde got a letter delivered to him during third period biology along with men dressed in military uniform dropping by to give their condolences. Clyde moved in with Token’s family almost immediately after the death of his father but no more than a month after he had turned seventeen Clyde dropped out of school to work full time at a butchery and moved to rent on his own. Craig, Token and Jimmy had tried to convince him either back to school or to stay with them, but he refused. Instead he wanted to make his own living till he turned eighteen, then he’d leave to fight the in war that took his father. Tweek wasn’t sure if Clyde meant he planned on volunteering or just wait to be drafted; he didn’t want to think of either option.

Pushing past a group of giggle girls Tweek made his way towards the kitchen space where he’d hope to find Token. He felt himself sweat a little under his clothes due to the over capacity of human bodies in one area and hoped his friend would be easy to spot so he’d have someone to distract him from the bubbles of restlessness that were resurfacing from only moments ago.  Unfortunately, when Tweek finally wrestled his way over to the kitchen counter Token was nowhere in sight, just a large punch bowl filled with suspicion looking juice and three people he was hoping he wouldn’t bump into tonight. Eric Cartman, the established South Park sociopath was huddled over a plate of assorted finger sandwiches greedily stuffing them into his cheeks like a chipmunk. His large frame was blocking the fridge behind him and he laughed while he jiggled his large hips when anyone tried to get him to move so they could grab a beer.

Tweek cringed at the sight of him, the nerves within threatened to burst, causing him to lift a finger to his mouth so he could continue to chew on the pathetic excuse left of a nail while he turned towards the other two in Cartman’s company. Stan and Kyle were both leaning against the counter bobbing a little to the music and taking turns whispering into each other’s ear before giggling. They hadn’t really noticed Tweek at all, which was alright with him. Tweek didn’t mind either of them honestly, they used to be decently close when they were children. It was just that Stan and Kyle, especially when they had been drinking, tended to get lost in what Craig would describe as a gay orbit, only revolving around their boners for each other. Of course, neither was out about it, denying any rumors about the two being anything but Super Best Friends. Tweek thought it was kind of dumb and extremely annoying to try to have a conversation with them while they all but sucked each other off. Tweek at least had the decency to worship Craig’s dick in private.

“Aye Twitchy, fancy seeing you here,” Tweek jumped at the sound of Eric’s boisterous voice. Tweek’s teeth clenched momentary in surprise and accidently bit down on his own finger, yelping like a dog being stepped on. Eric laughed so hard at Tweek’s reaction he started turning an ugly shade of pink and Tweek had the sudden urge to stuff the rest of the sandwiches down his tubby throat.

“Oh Tweek! Hey man didn’t see you there,” Stan greeted nonchalant, giving Tweek a friendly smile and a polite wave. Kyle simply nodded in acknowledgment. Tweek in return gave them both a little nod while he sucked on his sore finger, although they both had gone back to their super-secret conversation within seconds, forgetting Tweek and resorting back into breathing each other’s air. Feeling a tad bit lonely, Tweek turned to face the crowd of people who were attempting to dance, in the unlikely hope that Token was one of them.

“Are you looking for your fuck buddy?” Eric asked with a mouth full, Tweek watched as a chuck of chewed bread fell out of his mouth and onto the counter.

“No, actually I’m looking for Token,” Tweek deliberately turned his body away from the fat boy (He heard a faint ‘aye!’ at his gesture but ignored it) towards Stan and Kyle hoping they’d somehow take the hint and talk to him, “Have you seen him around?” Tweek asked.

“Ha I knew it! Craig’s little hamster dick couldn’t satisfy you. That’s fucking funny. I’m surprised you want to go straight to black dick, figured you’d try out a few averaged sized ones before leveling up,” Oh how Tweek hated Eric’s stout face cavity. He kept his body turned towards the other two, though they hadn’t even glanced back towards Tweek, choosing to basically dry humping in Clyde’s tiny kitchen. Tweek could feel himself starting to become increasing frustrated with the mix of too many people and Eric’s general presences. He knew it had only been a few minutes but Tweek wondered if Craig would be down to call it a night.

“Hey E-Eric, leave him a-alone,” Tweek felt a tap on his calf and looked over his right shoulder to see Jimmy standing behind him, using his crutch to poke Tweek’s leg to catch his attention. Jimmy hovered over Tweek, a wide crooked smiled plastered on his face, looking directly at Cartmen.

“Oh look, another one of Tweek’s boyfriends. Come to stick your wonky dick in the spaz too,” Eric growled through the food stuffed in his mouth. Tweek’s fists clenched and a shiver vibrated through him like an electric shock. He swore if Eric said one more word, Craig would have to visit Tweek in jail for their date nights.

“O-only if he asks po-politely,” Jimmy grinned wider at his own response, turning his body to walk through the crowd again, away from the pig of a man and his horny associates. Jimmy motioned for Tweek to follow and Tweek felt his body relax a fraction in relief, eager to flee with his friend.

Jimmy ended up leading Tweek out the kitchen and though the crowded hallway towards the back of the house. It was an end corridor with one of the small bathrooms to the left, a broom closet and the slightly off hinge back door which lead to an unkempt yard. The space itself was cramped although not due to people. Tweek was relieved to find the small space vacant of drunk people, letting out a huff of breath he didn’t realize he was holding.

“Thanks Jimmy. I thought I was about to go berserk,” Tweek said while he sent an appreciative smile towards his friend. Jimmy simply nodded and grinned whilst he propped himself up against the wall in a cool lean. Jimmy moved to rest his crutches against the wall beside him for an easy reach before lounging back and crossing his arms casually over his chest. His shaggy brown hair flared out slightly against the wall behind him.

“I’ve seen you l-lose your s-shit before. Thought I-I’d save my good old buddy Craig the honors o-of having to drag you out of a f-fight,” Jimmy said as he tossed Tweek a cheeky smile before adverting his gaze towards the not-so-distant party. In that moment, Tweek had thought he looked quite handsome. Jimmy was one of South Parks most surprisingly well-groomed bachelors who had taken growing up in a war-torn country with stride. Despite his disability, he had grown tall enough to rival Craig and Token - who both resided over six feet - and was (in Tweek’s opinion) smarter than the lady of brilliance herself, Wendy Testaburger. Jimmy was also one of the handfuls in their class who had already turned eighteen, alongside Stan, Bebe, Token, Kevin and of course Craig. A micro voice suddenly sparked to life within Tweek’s subconscious, pondering if perhaps he wasn’t so hopelessly devoted to Craig and if Jimmy considered dabbling in male genitalia there could be a potential for romance. A pink blush spread across Tweek’s face like butter on warm bread causing him to bashfully look away from his friend in hidden shame

“Speaking of.”

“Ahhg!” Tweek jerked wildly at the start of Jimmy’s words, snapping his head back towards him with wide, guilty eyes. A rise of panic filled the brim of Tweek’s stomach causing a rush of paranoid adrenaline to flood his veins. Had he been talking out loud? Did Jimmy hear his confession of mild attraction? Could Jimmy read his mind? Tweek felt his lips twitch with a need to explain his self vigorously but only a strain of choking sounds came out.

“Geez Tweek,” Jimmy laughed, shifting his position against the wall, “did y-you drink some of that punch in the kitchen? I h-heard Eric was mixing blow into it l-like it was Kool-Aid,” Jimmy, although still grinning, had tossed Tweek a concerned look, raising his eyebrows when Tweek aggressively shook his head no.

“G-good,” Jimmy sighed, he glanced once over at Tweek before scanning the crowd, “I’m glad I b-bumped into you Tweek. I’ve been looking a-all over f-for Craig, do you kn-know where he is? He and I have a, uh, bet to se-settle.”

Having taken his breathing exercises into practice, in through the nose and out through the mouth, Tweek calmed momentarily before pulling at his bottom lip with his teeth at the question.  Growing up Tweek wasn’t known for being the best to hang around, seemingly born with jittery movements and paranoid hysteria. The kids of South Park were never too keen to ask the boy who screamed bloody murder about underwear gnomes if he wanted to go see a movie. That is, until Craig. Craig had been the first person in South Park to look past his mental decline and caffeine addiction, acknowledging his creativity and strengths instead.  Craig had been the first person to give him any form of affection. In extension, Craig’s gang (Token, Clyde and Jimmy) warmed up to him over time, kind enough to entertain Tweek’s illusion that he was an important part of their friend group.

Tweek bit his lip harder when Jimmy gazed back at him for an answer. He felt insecure at the implication that Jimmy had only approached him to find Craig, “He’s outside,” Tweek managed to mumble around his swollen lip.

“H-hey Tweek, are you alri-”an extremely loud crash and fits of laughter from down the hall interrupted Jimmy, alarming both enough for their heads turn and search for the cause of the noise. Tweek caught sight of Clyde for the first time that night. His hair was wet from sweat, sticking up in a ridiculous cowlick. He looked flushed and out of it as he triumphantly raised the pieces of a destroyed bottle like a barbaric warrior. Tweek could hear slurred proclamations over the music and laughter about those ‘damn fucking Canadians, I’ll kill them all!’  

“S-shit! Token was supposed to keep him low key,” Jimmy grumbled, he pressed his hand against his forehead in frustration before quickly reaching over to snatch his crutches, “I guess that’s my que, s-sorry Tweek,” Before Tweek could get a word in Jimmy was already pushing his way through the crowd to contain his drunken friend.

Once again, Tweek was left alone, only this time in the dark corridor of an exasperating party feeling increasing exhausted. Tweek pressed himself hard against the cracked plaster wall, knocking his head back against it and closing his eyes in frugal hopes of drowning out the sounds of everyone around him. Distantly, he could still make out the yells of excited drunks although Clyde’s loud cheers had quickly dissipated. Tweek could only guess Jimmy had pulled him outside for fresh air in a fruitless attempt to sober him up. This night was really starting to leave a bad taste in his mouth.

In all honesty Tweek would have liked nothing more than to indulge in the questionable sweet juices of spiked punch, savoring the way it allowed him to shed his overwhelming anxiety and allow his mind the freedom to melt into a mindless state of euphoria. He imagined the pleasure of freeing his shoulders and back from their constant state of tensed strain, and dance with the other party goers as if he had no bones at all. But alas, Tweek refused give into the temptations of a mindless, drunk night. He knew why these people gathered together in a cramp, dirty little house at the edge of South Park. These people were here to lose sight of the world around them. They were here to drink till they forgot the war, till they forgot that in the morning they’d have to return to the responsibilities of aiding the soldiers’ still fighting. The rowdy noise and hardy laughter were nothing but a cover to mask the crippling sorrow for loved ones they’d lost and the loved ones still missing. Tweek didn’t want to lose himself in a false reality covered by cheap beer and old pop music. He didn’t want to forget.

“I’m surprised to see you here all by your lonesome,” an abrupt voice startled Tweek, his head propping back up from its resting position against the wall to see the sudden intruder, “although, I’m not upset to see you without your guard dog,” Pete spoke with a cheeky grin. He had a lit cigarette clenched between his crooked teeth, Tweek was surprised he hadn’t smelt the intruder upon arrival.

“Uhm, yeah, I was with Jimmy, but he left to take care of Clyde,” Tweek answered nervously, keeping his rigid stance against the wall. Tweek and Pete weren’t ever friends by any definition. Growing up Tweek’s interactions with any of the goths only occurred at Tweek’s family’s coffee shop where Pete and his friends spent most of their late evenings. They never really had a friendly conversation, unless you included Firkle, the youngest goth, trying to sell a cart of smokes to Tweek. For the most part, Tweek kept his distance. The goth kids did have the tendency to unknowingly trigger Tweek’s paranoia of demons and black magic curses.

“Lame,” Pete inhaled deeply on his cigarette, flipping is long black hair in the process of exhaling the smoke, seemingly aiming away from Tweek’s face. How thoughtful, Tweek inwardly groaned, “I was about to ditch this fucked up excuse of a party,” Pete said while glaring daggers at the walls around him, “But I spotted you all alone and thought I’d come say ‘hi’.”

“I’m surprised you came here at all,” Tweek wasn’t sure why he was engaging in conversation with Pete, or why Pete sought out a conversation with him. The uncomfortable social interaction was causing the familiar buildup of stomach jitters to start fizzing its way back up Tweek’s abdomen.

Pete darkly chuckled at Tweek’s comment through a cloud of his own smoke, disturbing an already on edge Tweek, “Neither am I; Thought I’d find something to entertain me.”

“Have you?” Tweek asked as he waved his hand through the cigarette fog accumulating in front of his face, clearing the air between the slightly.

“That depends,” Pete answered quickly, his eye swiftly glazed over Tweek before meeting eyes with an evocative stare. An animalistic instinct of a fight or flight reaction ignited in Tweek’s brain and he shifted awkwardly where he stood, his legs suddenly itching to run back into the crowd and disappear, “Where’s your guard dog?”

“I’m assuming you’re referring to Craig,” Pete nodded smugly at Tweek’s question, “He just went out for a smoke is all, he’s probably looking for me ‘bout now,” Tweek hoped what he said was true, at this point he was willing to embrace the crisp winter winds and walk home.

“Kinda lame of him to ditch you in the corner while he gets to have all the fun with the rest of the conformists,” Pete pressed, licking his dry lips.

“He didn’t ditch me!” Tweek abruptly felt defensive at the idea that Craig had purposefully sent him away, “He’s coming right back, then we’re leaving together.”

Pete raised his eyebrow at Tweek while he tried to suppress a cheeky grin. He huffed out more smoke before putting out his cigarette by smashing the tip of it against the door to Clyde’s back yard, “Easy there, kid,” Tweek could tell Pete was trying to get a rise out of him, although he couldn’t fathom why, “Listen, I saw Craig outside with McCormick and the other fucks. They seemed to be having a good time. If you’re eager to get home though, well, I could help you out.”

“Not necessary,” Tweek swung his head to the side at the sound of Craig’s voice, feeling a gasp of relief press out his lungs at the sight of his boyfriend standing there. Craig’s long frame blocked out the scene from the hallway, shadows from what little moonlight flooded through the back window sharpened his beautiful features, making him almost look menacing. Pete back off just a tiny bit, but still grinned at Craig as if he was holding onto a pair of Kings at a poker table.

“Hey, surprised to see you stepped away from your little affair outside,” Pete’s spat with arrogance, his specific choice of words rubbed Tweek the wrong way, causing his fingers to automatically twirl through his blonde locks and give a brisk pull, “I was just here to offer Tweekers a ride home.”  

“And I’m telling you that’s not necessary,” Craig fired back, his usual level-headed tone breaking away into an irritable edge. Craig took a step forward to wrap his hand around Tweek’s wrist, giving it a solid tug in his direction. Tweek cried out in shock as he stumbled towards Craig from the force of the tug, latching onto Craig’s arm for stability, “Ready to go, Hun?” Craig asked sweetly whilst he turned his attention towards a wobbly Tweek. Once he had found his balance, Tweek only nodded weakly, confused by the hasty switch in Craig’s behavior. Tweek had wanted nothing more than to press a giant eject button and be thrown far from that senseless and erratic party.

“Sure, take him home now,” Pete bit back carelessly, Tweek turned and watched him pull out another smoke and matches from his black jean pocket, quickly flicking the match against the bottom of his combat boots and pressing the flame to his cigarette with shaky hands. Pete hummed slightly in his inhale, rolling his shoulders back in a stretch while Tweek’s eyes followed the smoke that was exhaled out of Pete’s nose, “Who’s gonna take him home when you’re off-”

“Enough,” Craig interrupted sharply, his grasp on Tweek’s wrist clenched. Tweek, too concerned about his self-diagnoses of mild whiplash from lashing his head between the two men in hopes to keep up with the interaction, didn’t acknowledge the painful grip Craig had on him.

Silence fell heavily upon the three of them. The small corridor suddenly was unbearably cramped with thick, murky tension. Within a short moment, Pete’s eyes bulged out and his jaw dropped as if having an unexpected epiphany. Immensely baffled by the two, Tweek opened his mouth to ask what was going on before quickly shutting it as he watched Pete’s expression shift from surprise to malice. His glare was directly aimed at Craig but Tweek diverted his gaze, feeling as if he’d personally caused great offense. Blowing one last chemical cloud of smoke at them, Pete turned heels and stormed off.

Craig let out a hefty sigh only moments after Pete’s frame vanished with in the crowd. He rolled back his shoulders a few times to relax his tense body, his neck lulling to the side as well. Tweek heard the faint pop of Craig’s joints realigning before Craig turned his gaze down towards Tweek, who was still clutching Craig’s arm with ferocity.

“Sorry Tweek, I’m sorry,” Craig apologized, he softened his face while his eyes studied Tweek curiously, the moonlight twinkling in his dark eyes like a fireplace flickering. Craig bent his large body down as if folding in half, hesitating momentarily before he brought Tweek’s wrist up to his lips and kissed the red skin tenderly. Tweek immediately forgave him.

“Ah man, w-what the hell just happened?” Tweek felt himself fumbling to form the question, his mind fuzzing up from the gentle interaction with Craig. His wrist was still pressed to Craig’s warm lips and for the first time since arriving to the party Tweek felt a warm buzz tingle through him delightfully. Tweek’s eyes watched as Craig continued small pecks on to Tweek’s wrist and hand. Craig’s eyes peered back at Tweek through thick, dark lashes causing a heavy shiver to visibly glide up Tweek’s spin.

“We’ve been here long enough,” Craig’s voice had come out a little gruffer than a moment ago, holding back his sudden arousal. Craig allowed his other hand to snake around Tweek’s lower back presumably to hold down his quivering. Craig shifted his head away from Tweek’s wrist towards his ear, pressing lightly against the outer shell, “Let’s go back to mine,” He added quickly. He hadn’t needed to say any more. Tweek was mere putty in Craig’s large hands. Completely dismissing the sour interaction from a second earlier, Tweek nearly hopped into Craig’s arms out of shear gratitude.

He didn’t though, jump into Craig’s arms. They were still unfortunately standing in a very public party. Drunk or not Tweek wasn’t willing to let these people see two beautiful boys in action. Instead, Tweek settled for reaching around his own waist to where Craig’s hand laid against his back. Interlocking their fingers in a vice grip.

“Please,” Tweek whispered hoarsely, Craig instantly turned and plowed through the intoxicated guests with an attached Tweek in tow.  

Within seconds, they had pushed their way to the front of the tiny house and quickly out the door. Tweek was pleased to be reintroduced to the winter air of their mountain town. He paused just outside Clyde’s door to welcome the dry, freezer burnt oxygen into his lungs. Tweek took a deep breath in like a heavy smoker, expanding his belly out before releasing a verbal exhale. Too enraptured by the crisp air, Tweek didn’t notice there was company until it was too late. A loud giggle burst out from his left, breaking him out of his mini meditative state and caused him to jump on the spot, screeching in terror. Kenny, who was still outside and apparently still smoking, laughed even harder at Tweek’s reaction.

“Scared ya, didn’t I Tweekers,” Kenny cheekily grinned. He had moved from his previous hunched position on the hard, front steps, this time leaning his left shoulder casually against the side of the house. He looked more relaxed than he had been before, although Tweek couldn’t fathom how comfortable it could be to rest against Clyde’s broken house siding.

Tweek puckered his bottom lip out in a pout. Kenny was always quick to tease him. Ever since grade nine, during a project in which the students had to write a personal response about their fears and how they proceed to overcome them. It was meant regarding the current war, a ‘healthy’ way for the disturbed children of South Park to express their inmost mental worries and release their anxiety and horror onto a lined paper sheet, double spaced. The writing itself was effortless for Tweek who was constantly filled to the brim with frets and worries, oh no, he’d ace that part. Inevitable, it was the oral part of the assignment that put the blood red target on his back for Kenny’s perpetual taunting. At ten forty-two am in a grade nine classroom, Tweek stood shaking, facing the same classmates he’s has since grade one, and read his script about his fear of Canadian home intruders and his personal knight in shining armor who went by the name of Craig Tucker.

Tweek had been Ridiculed. He’d essentially read his own personal love letter out to class. He could feel his face ignite with heat as if someone had tossed gas at an open flame. Tweek kept reading for the sake of finishing the project, his own voice dwindling in humiliation as his classmates snickered through his confession, Kenny laughing the loudest. He remembered trying to sneak a peek at Craig over his crumpled paper sheet, frightened that he was laughing too. Craig wasn’t laughing, in fact he hadn’t acknowledged Tweek at all. Craig had turned his body away from the class, facing the wall with his worn, blue hat pulled over his face and concealing any expression. Tweek never really knew how to feel about that.

Tweek was older now through, he’d gotten passed his cringey memory (mostly) and now just found Kenny’s teasing desaturating. Tweek twitched with the anticipation of making a sassy remark, but another voice cut him off, “H-hey!” Jimmy hollered from the bottom of the steps, “I see the two of you found each other.”

Tweek’s eyes wandered frantically at his surroundings and noticed there was a small party of its own type happening outside. Kenny, Jimmy, Token, and a very smashed Clyde all seem to have migrated out in the brisk night air. They were all sporting a bottle of boozes, spread out evenly in front of the small porch. Their cheeks were all tinted a bright pink that spread down their necks and disappeared underneath jackets. Whether it was from cold air or the alcohol -most likely both- Tweek could sense they had been having a fun time out here. Tweek recalled Pete mentioning Craig having an ‘affair’ outside causing his free hand to clench in a fist, press his sharp nails into the palm of his hand. Surely Tweek might have enjoyed himself tonight too if he had stayed outside and avoided the devilish company behind closed doors.

“Yeah, we did,” Craig answered, his tone had reversed back to being stoic and uninterested, “We’re leaving now,” His long, tan fingers clenched at Tweek’s hand for a stronger grip, Tweek tried to match his firmness with his own fingers. Craig took lead down the stained cement steps, pulling Tweek along and brushing briskly past a wobbling Clyde which nearly knocked him over.

“Awwe, nooo!” Clyde hiccuped as he caught himself on the closest stable thing, which happened to be Token, “you can’t leave yet dude, we gotta go get them fucking Canadians’! Dude, we gotta,” His words slopped out of his mouth as if he was spitting out cold spaghetti. Tweek worried he might be suffering from alcohol poisoning.

“Good night,” Craig threw back dismissively over his shoulders, not even bothering to offer a proper fare well aside from a swift flick of his middle finger. Both boys disappeared into the night, rushed to be somewhere warm and private.

“Fuckin’ finally,” Craig sighed as he flopped back first onto his bed, causing the bed frame to raddled loudly against the wall.

Tweek hushed him frantically by waving his index finger in front of his pursed lips. They had just arrived at Craig’s house a little after midnight, which meant Craig’s family were most likely asleep. The Tucker’s home was small, not quite as small as Clyde’s, but still smaller than most of the other houses in the neighborhood. Tweek always thought it felt more homely that way. They were closer as a family, more in tuned with each other although the Tucker’s were never known for conveying affection. Tweek had spent all his teen years, sitting on the ratted couch in the Tucker’s living room watching their family dynamic.

Tricia, Craig’s little sister, was secretly Tweek’s favorite person. She was stubborn, audacious and one hell of a scrabble player. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and challenge Craig on an intellectual level. He couldn’t count the times he’d witnessed the siblings fight, shouting over each other on whether space exploration is more valuable then delving into the deep sea. Tweek had no input on their fights, he regarded both places as terrifying, yet he watched with admiration. On the occasion they’d ask Tweek’s opinion, Tweek would take Tricia’s side, giggling to himself as Craig had a nerd tantrum while Tricia threw him a cheeky wink. He’d eventually come to think of her as his little sister too, although she was taller than him now.

Craig’s parents were mostly welcoming to Tweek now, but it took them a little longer to fully accept Tweek and his homosexual relationship with their son. Tweek kind of understood their concerns and confusion towards them together, even if it stung his feelings a bit. Laura Tucker, Craig’s mom, always seemed neutral with Tweek. She’d give him curious eyes when he would come over for a ‘play date,’ but kept kind and to herself. I wasn’t till a couple years later, when the boys were around twelve, that she’d stormed into Craig’s room to ask Tweek if he’d like to join her in making a batch of cookies. Craig had rolled his eyes in irritation at being interrupted, but Tweek felt a burst of butterflies’ tremble through his stomach. He’d felt so cheerfully warm, Laura had never directly reached out to Tweek apart from the basic ‘hello Tweek, how are you?’  Tweek instantly accepted.  

Thomas Tucker, Craig’s father, was in the most blatant term a straight shooter. He only really cared for cars, beer, and woman- just as any man should, or so he’d thought. So, when word spread through the small mountain town about the stone-cold Craig Tucker holding hands with another boy, Thomas hadn’t been very pleased. To compensate for his son’s homosexuality, Thomas often encouraged Craig’s bad boy behavior, thriving on news that his son had gotten into bloody fist fights, Craig winning the majority. In Thomas’s mind, the tougher Craig was the more inclined he was to repent his sins with Tweek and thrust himself into an abundance of pussy.  Tweek found somber amusement in Thomas’s view of Craig. Did Thomas know about Craig’s never-ending fascination with stars and constellations? Was he aware of the secret fondness Craig had for vulnerable animals, how gentle he acted around them? Could he fathom amount of lube Craig stores in his bedside drawer for late night homosexual fun? If the old man paid enough attention to these other sides of Craig, he’d crumble apart like a house made from a deck of cards.

Admittedly, Thomas had gotten better throughout the years in hiding his disapproval of Tweek. He’d no longer grumble under his breath when the boys locked themselves in Craig’s room, or made snide comments on their displays of affection. Tweek recognized that Thomas was trying to be considerate, mostly for the sake of his son. Thomas had always held Craig on a towering pedestal, and in return Craig thought highly of his father as well. Although Tweek had usually felt far removed from Thomas, he sobbed on Craig’s behalf the night Thomas was delivered a letter, an image of an angry eagle stamped in melted wax held closed a billet, demanding his service in war.

Tweek watched Craig wiggle around on his bed, the comforter bunched up underneath him as he vainly attempted to get comfortable. Craig looked like a cat, marking its territory in a display of self-righteousness. This made Tweek smile widely. He loved Craig, truly, he did. They had their issues, their moments of opinionated spit fire. Craig had a cynically logical view on the world, he figured every problem had a cognitive, solvable answer. Tweek on the other hand was fueled by emotions, choosing to base decisions off sensitivity and in the moment feelings. Heated argument inevitably always left Tweek sat in his room with a stomach full of anxiety and wet, tear streaked face.

Tweek never took any form of rejection from Craig well. Tweek loved him with his whole being. His heartbeat bounced to the rhythm of Craig’s deep, toneless voice. His blood flowed to the sensation of Craig’s warmth. With every fight they might have had, there were just as many moments of pure serenity and peaceful romance. Craig hated it when Tweek would bring up the idea of soulmates, he thought the idea preposterous in a scientific, animalistic reality. Tweek had disagreed. The universe was far too vast for Tweek to comprehend, there were many things Tweek hadn’t ever had a full cognitive grasp on. Demons from Hell? Horrific beasts that Tweek assumed hid under his bed to snap at his ankles and consume his soul. Craig said they only existed in extremist’s nightmares. Aliens from outer space? Tweek figured they were watching him from the sky, waiting for him to be vulnerable in order to kidnap him and preform grotesque experiments for research. Craig agrees they’re likely aliens but it’s mostly plant life or other forms of bacteria. The swamp monster in Starks Pond? Craig told him to stop at that one, although Tweek still refuses to go swimming. No, Tweek didn’t have a rational perspective, but with all his non conventional beliefs he’d bet money on his idea of soulmates. He knew it was real cause he’d found his. His person, his one true love.  

From the bed Craig had nuzzled himself into a position he deemed comfortable despite still being fully dressed. Tweek continued to smile fondly at him, taking off his jeans and sweater and waited to be beckoned to the bed. Craig propped himself up on his elbow, head in hand and gave Tweek the universal finger command for ‘get over here.’ Tweek complied immediately.  

“Did you have fun at the party?” Craig whispered, his lips pressed loosely against the shell of Tweek’s ear, his body shifting around Tweek’s in a spooning position. Craig let his one hand wrap around Tweek’s thigh, lightly scratching his blunt fingernails across his skin.

“No,” Tweek answered honestly, watching soft pink lines appeared like patterns on his skin, “I missed you, I was hoping we could spend time together.”

“We’re spending time together now,” Craig grunted, the tip of his tongue started to trace Tweek’s ear causing Tweek’s cheeks to blossom pink as well, like a spring garden. Tweek squirmed under the attention and backed up against Craig’s chest more snugly.

“I know, but I just like, wanna spend all my time with you dude. Like forever,” Tweek said quietly, biting his lip through the forward confession. Craig’s nails paused their movement on his thigh momentarily before he moved to wrap his arm around him, kissing Tweek’s exposed shoulder twice. Tweek could feel the heat from Craig’s clothes toasting his back, rubbing against his naked skin, leaving behind the sent of Craig’s sweat on him.  

“Yeah,” Craig muttered in a hushed breath, burring his face into the pillow. Tweek grinned to himself, pleased with the answer he assumed was conformation. His eye’s glanced over to the nightstand beside the bed. A picture frame stood erect on the stand, as if the frame itself was proud to display the picture. The picture was a frozen capture of Craig and Tweek in the Tucker’s backyard. They were young in the picture, perhaps only twelve. Tweek was sat on a sketchy swing made only of cheap rope and plywood. Craig was stood behind him, holding the rope with both hands and staring angerly at the camera. Tweek vaguely remembers Tricia taking the photo, without consent and laughing hysterically when Craig told her to ‘fuck off.’ Tweek wasn’t sure when Craig had gotten the picture from his younger sister, but the feeling of bursting like a firework when Tweek noticed the picture in his room one day could never be forgotten.

“You know,” Craig mumbled, startling Tweek out of his thoughts when he shifted in the bed again, his groin rubbing against Tweek’s bum, “the night’s still young.”

Tweek giggled a little too loudly for that time of night, turning away from the past to stare at his future. Tweek was so sure soulmates existed and when Craig pulled him into his arms, he liked to imagine that Craig secretly believed in them too.