Work Header

Multiplication by One

Work Text:

Tweek lowers and folds his umbrella as he mounts the steps to Craig's house, shaking off the Oregonian raindrops that have clung on his walk over. It's not actually Craig's house—thanks in part to a reference from the Blacks, it's the place he's been house sitting since the summer after freshman year, for a professor on extended sabbatical—but after almost a year and a half, Tweek has come to think of it as possessively Craig's.

He rings the bell and wipes his hands on the front of his jeans. Finding the denim too damp to be useful, he tucks the umbrella under his arm, hastily unzips his jacket, and reaches inside for some dry shirt, and that's how Craig finds him when he opens the door.

"Tweek," Craig says, shifting his gaze from Tweek's awkward hands up to his face.

"Ah, hi!" Tweek lets his hands fall to his sides, catching the umbrella before it drops. "I got your text."

"I know." Craig steps back. "So come in, already."

As usual, Craig doesn't give Tweek quite enough room so that Tweek has to rub up against him as he crosses the threshold. Usually Craig will pet Tweek's hair when this happens but he doesn't this time, and Tweek wonders if it's because he got Craig wet just now. He should have taken off his jacket outside.

He does so now, hanging it on his usual hook, then leaning one handed on the wall as he tugs off his boots. When he turns around, he sees Craig standing by the door that leads down to the basement. All the thrill tendrils that coiled in Tweek's belly as soon as he got the text summons start to unfurl, wending through him. He shivers in anticipation.

Craig holds the door open for him like usual and Tweek goes first, giving the hot little thrills permission to sink deeper into his bones with each downward step.

And then all of Tweek's thrill goes cold and freezes him where he is, because:

Clyde Donovan. Is here. In Craig's basement.

He's been here before, of course—just not at the same time as Tweek. While Craig has never kept his two boyfriends secret from each other, even when they were in high school, he's always kept them separate. Especially since they came here for college. Everyone back in South Park assumes they must see each other all the time and Tweek has found it easier just to let people think what they want, skipping any details. The truth is that he's hardly seen Clyde at all for the past two years. Fall semester of sophomore year, they both showed up to the first class of Intro to Statistical Inference, but Clyde wasn't there the next class. Tweek had mentioned it to Craig because he looked it up and found it was a core requirement for Clyde's major, Business/Entrepreneurship, whereas it was only an elective for Tweek's Mathematics degree. But Craig just told him not to worry about it, Clyde would take it next semester.

Aside from that, there have been a few times when he's seen Clyde from a distance. And then there was the one time he went to see Clyde deliberately. It was a home game against the Beavers' rivals, the Ducks. Clyde was the only one from their 4th grade baseball team who kept playing the sport, and he'd gotten good at it. Really good: good enough to make All-State three years in a row in high school and to be offered an athletic scholarship to Oregon State. Tweek hadn't known about the scholarship right away; he'd thought he and Clyde were both following Craig to Corvallis. When he heard about Clyde's sweet ride, as Cartman had called it, Tweek couldn't help wondering if he was following Craig and Craig was following Clyde. When he brought it up, Craig had looked at him and asked if he thought that question really deserved an answer, and Tweek could only say no.

So freshman year he'd avoided Clyde's games, just as he had in high school. Then for some reason he decided to go to that one game last year. The next day he read in the school newspaper that Clyde had gone 3 for 4 and, more impressively, turned two double-plays. Tweek had sort of missed that because as soon as he sat down and looked around the stadium, he'd seen someone he thought was Craig sitting over by third base, the closest you could get to sitting by shortstop, which is Clyde's position. The Jumbotron confirmed it was Craig when Clyde lined a foul ball to him in the second inning. It was probably a coincidence, but when Craig's hand reached up on the Jumbotron and closed in a fist around the ball, it looked like destiny to Tweek. He started wondering if that was a regular thing, if Clyde hits a ball to Craig every game, and how much skill and control that would take.

And then he couldn't help thinking about Bull Durham and wondering if Craig ever makes Clyde wear ladies' underwear for his games, and if he was wearing something lacy under his uniform right now, just for Craig. He got up to get a cold drink then, and while he was waiting in line he saw Craig going into the restroom; and then he started wondering if Craig was going to take Clyde and the ball home after the game, have Clyde sit between his feet and hold the ball up for him as Craig stroked himself off and came all over it, and make Clyde lick it up, which would be really filthy and wrong...

Tweek hadn't stayed for the rest of the game. He didn't know if Craig had seen him at the concession stand; Craig never brought it up, so Tweek didn't either.

This, right now, with Tweek on the stairs in Craig's basement and Clyde down on all fours on the floor, is the closest Tweek has been to Clyde since they left South Park. A few more seconds pass and Tweek realizes Clyde isn't looking for something he dropped—he's staying on hands and knees with his head lowered, body at perfect angles, barefoot. "Oh Jesus," Tweek breathes. He tries to back up, but he crashes into Craig on the step above him. Wide-eyed, he turns and looks up at Craig, opens his mouth to try to ask, even though he knows Craig won't tell him anything until he feels like it; he tries to ask, but he only gets as far as, "Oh God, what," his voice failing to inflect properly for a question he can't articulate anyhow.

Craig's expression as he looks down at Tweek is unreadable. It's not blank, there's definitely something there, and a lot of the time Tweek can tell what it is. But not this time. The thrill tendrils are a tangled mess inside him. He tries to take a deep, steadying breath but winds up feeling like he's gulping air, which doesn't help.

What does help is Craig. Craig being there and looking at him. Looking at him and letting Tweek look back; making him.

Then Craig raises his hand, snaps and points. Tweek doesn't have to turn to see where Craig is telling him to sit. He holds in the gaze a fraction of a moment longer, as long as he dares, before turning and going down to Clyde.

He brushes his hands over his backside quickly, skims down the back of his thighs; the denim there is mostly dry. He hopes the residual moisture won't bother Clyde, but when Tweek gets to him he sees Clyde is already damp, the hair at his nape slick and curling, a fine layer of sweat infusing his shirt. Tweek sits as lightly as he can, trying to rest his weight on his own legs.

"Are you comfortable?"

Tweek looks up when Craig speaks, then glances at Clyde for his answer.

"Tweek." This time when Tweek looks up, Craig's arms are folded, his gaze fixed on Tweek. "Why are you sitting like that? Speak."

A soft whine rises in the back of Tweek's throat. He's a good puppy, most of the time, and he almost never has a hard time with the "speak" command—except when Craig asks impossible questions seeking an answer that the question isn't even asking, which Tweek thinks this one is doing.

"Okay." Craig's expression shifts softer as he comes over and rests his hand on Tweek's head. Tweek arches his neck hopefully, encouraging Craig's fingers to slide deeper into his hair. Craig obliges him, scratches behind his ear, and Tweek's foot thumps against the floor in appreciation. "Okay," Craig says again, and Tweek doesn't mind so much that Craig takes his hand away because he hears the hint of a smile in Craig's voice, and that makes him thump more.

"Up," Craig says, but when Tweek starts to get to his feet, Craig leans down and gently pushes on his shoulders to stop him. Tweek cocks his head. Craig caresses behind his ear and Tweek's lips part for Craig's tongue, but Craig doesn't kiss him. He drops his hand to Tweek's knee and says, again, "Up." Tweek's foot comes off the ground as he lifts his knee, his weight settling onto Clyde; more fully when Craig cants Tweek's leg so his bent knee comes to rest in the small of Clyde's back.

Craig stands back and looks at them. Tweek isn't sure if Clyde is shivering or if it's just him, but he can't look down with Craig looking at him. And now Craig really is looking at him, just him, this command definitely meant for Tweek: "Stay." Without a backward glance, Craig goes up the stairs.

If Tweek could see Clyde's face, he thinks he'd be able to tell if this is okay. He leans a little, hand on Clyde's head, but doesn't dare try to turn his face up even without Craig there—or maybe because Craig isn't here. "Am I too heavy?" Clyde's hair is just as thick as it looks and Tweek's fingers burrow in deeper. "Are you okay with this?"

The trembling now is definitely in Clyde, in his arms, and Tweek slides off. "Hey," he says, kneeling beside Clyde. "Hey, Clyde." Clyde keeps his head down, doesn't say anything or even indicate he's heard Tweek. Tweek wonders if he's in sound deprivation and brushes back the hair over Clyde's ears, but there are no plugs. He lowers himself to his elbows and looks up at Clyde's face, trying to catch his eye.

But that won't be possible, because Clyde's gaze has gone somewhere Tweek can't follow, at least not at this moment. He's been there, though: to subspace. Clyde is in deep; they must have been sceneing for hours before Craig called Tweek over.

This is the first time Tweek has ever seen subspace from the outside. He keeps gazing at Clyde's face, even though Clyde isn't looking at him or even acknowledging Tweek's gaze. Tweek knows the only gaze Clyde can acknowledge is Craig's, but he keeps looking anyhow because no one tells him not to. He didn't know what subspace looked like before; he didn't know it looks like this. Now he knows, and it makes him feel, it just, it makes him feel...

"Clyde~," he says, not expecting a response, not needing one.

When he feels the hand on his shoulder, Tweek startles badly, jerking away from however close he was getting to that space. He looks up, caught, wondering what his punishment will be.

"Careful," Craig says. "You're going to break my chair. And then what will I do with it?"

Even though Craig is looking at him, Tweek feels like he's really talking to Clyde.

"If you put him—it," Tweek hears himself say. "If you put it out on the curb, I'll—I'll take it home with me."

He flushes at the outrage, even though he's the one who dared it. Craig's expression doesn't change, but Tweek feels the full weight of his attention for a moment.

Then Craig bends down, turning his face to Clyde so Tweek can't see it anymore. "Hear that, dummy? Tweek'll take you in if I ever throw you out."

Clyde doesn't say anything. Tweek doesn't see him respond at all but Craig must, because he says, "Hey," in a different tone, one Tweek recognizes and is comforted by even when it's not directed at him. Then Craig turns to him. Tweek gathers himself up inside, preparing to be told to leave, but Craig only says, "Go sit on the sofa while I fix the chair," and hands Tweek the mug he brought down.

Cradling the coffee in both hands, Tweek inhales the reassuring steam without drinking as he sits on the sofa. Craig didn't tell him to watch but he didn't tell him not to, and Tweek thinks Craig would have had him wait upstairs if he didn't want Tweek to see this. Since Craig told him to wait on the sofa, it follows that either he doesn't care whether or not Tweek watches, or he actively wants Tweek to watch.

So Tweek does: he watches as Craig has Clyde—has the chair kneel up and lift his arms overhead, he watches Craig strip off the chair's shirt. He watches Craig kneel behind the chair and run his hands over the chair's perfectly sculpted, stretched arms, and he watches Craig lower the chair's arms to its sides, still stroking, ending each stroke with a light squeeze. He watches until the chair has stopped trembling. Tweek watches until he's trembling himself.

Craig must say something then because Clyde nods, the smallest movement but Craig has been training Tweek in the art of focusing, and Tweek sees it. Then his focus switches as Craig turns and summons him.

"It's fine now," Craig says as Tweek folds himself onto the floor beside them. Tweek isn't sure whether Craig means Clyde or the situation, until Craig continues conversationally, "It's just a crybaby and a scaredy-cat, and it's been a little afraid of you."

"Of me?"

Still soothing a hand down Clyde's arm, Craig nods. "It thinks you're going to take me away. That you're more fun to play with, that I therefore must want you more, and am going to choose you over it." His hand stills on Clyde as he turns to look at him. Clyde's gaze comes up from the floor to meet Craig's when he feels the weight of that stare; Tweek knows that's what happening because he's been there. Not exactly like this, but he knows what Craig's gaze feels like, what it can do; what it can make you do.

"It had the audacity to imply I'm a liar, by refusing to believe me when I told it that won't happen." Craig locks his hand around Clyde's nape, closes it into Clyde's hair, twists and pulls to force his head up as he bends and whispers, loud enough so Tweek can hear it too, "This isn't about fun."

Clyde is perfectly still and quiet, but Tweek thinks he must be humming with vibration all over inside; Tweek would be, if Craig murmured that in his ear. Just hearing it from this far away, Tweek feels shaky and calm at the same time, which should be impossible, but it's not. Craig taught him that.

When Craig lets go, Clyde slumps forward, back curved, hands on his knees to support himself. Craig said Clyde was fine and he must know Clyde better than anyone, maybe even better than Clyde knows himself and definitely better than Tweek knows him—but even so, Tweek doesn't think Clyde looks fine.

He turns from Clyde when he feels Craig's fingertips beneath his chin, and opens himself to Craig's gaze.

"What are you thinking?"

Filled with Craig's gaze as he is, Tweek doesn't know what he's thinking anymore. He waits for Craig to tell him.

Craig drops his hand but holds the gaze another silent moment. Then he says, "Do what comes naturally," and releases Tweek with a slow, deliberate blink.

Tweek turns back to Clyde. Scootches close to him. Clyde's exhaustion is evident but he's still holding himself up, by nothing but willpower. Not his own—Craig's. Tweek can only imagine what it must take for him to be able to do that. He tries to imagine pushing himself like that and he knows he wouldn't do it, he would take the punishment. Over the past year, Tweek has wondered more and more how he and Clyde are different, what Craig gets from one of them that he can't from the other. Looking at Clyde now, Tweek suddenly knows something he didn't before. His epiphany may not be the answer to his question and it might open up more than it closes, but he understands that while he lives for his time with Craig, Clyde would die for it.

An overwhelming and nameless emotion fills Tweek. He moves closer, wanting to express what he's feeling, utterly helpless to.

He touches Clyde's arm. When he tries to move it, he feels resistance. "Please," he says. Clyde turns his head but he doesn't look at Tweek, he looks beyond; and then the resistance is gone, and Tweek is able to get Clyde to lie down on his side. He takes off his own shirt and folds it into a cushion, which he slips under Clyde's head. Then Tweek lies down next to him, so they're facing each other. "I would never," he starts. He wants to touch Clyde's face but finds his fingers burying themselves in Clyde's hair instead. "I never could," Tweak tells him, knowing in the dark places of his heart where he's thought about such things that it's true: he wouldn't be able to take Craig away from Clyde even if he wanted to. He doesn't want to, though. Not now, not anymore: the nameless emotion has rushed through his heart, swept away the dark.

He keeps stroking Clyde's hair. He doesn't know if this is enough, but it's all he can think to do; it's what Craig does with him. As they lie, looking into each other's eyes, Tweek realizes he has Clyde's gaze now, even though Clyde is still in subspace. He sighs, and feels an answering sigh slide through Clyde; it seems to move him forward, but they're not physically any closer now than they were a second ago.

Clyde's lashes flutter as Tweek continues petting him, his eyes making a heroic effort to stay open. Tweek wants to tell Clyde it's okay to close his eyes—but every time Clyde flutters, Tweek does too. Not the quick, anxious flapping of butterfly wings but long, slow, and smooth nothing Tweek knows a name for; like Craig, he thinks, if Craig had wings.

"Looks like my pet has a pet."

Tweek startles at Craig's words, guilt dragging his hand off Clyde as contrition upturns his face. Anyone who didn't know Craig as well as Tweek would think his expression is the same as it's been all day, but Tweek sees something new there even if he's not sure what it is. He just knows it's not anything that means punishment.

"Go sit on the sofa and try calling him," Craig says.

Tweek blinks up at him. Maybe that look meant punishment, after all, but for Clyde not Tweek. Then it registers that, for the first time since he got here, Craig isn't calling Clyde "it" anymore. He doesn't know if that's good or bad, though. He looks down at Clyde, whose eyes are closed now, then back to Craig. Craig doesn't tell him again but he also doesn't release Tweek from the command, so Tweek moves back to the sofa.

When he looks at them again, Clyde's eyes are open. Hand hovering beside him, Tweek looks at Craig, who nods. "Come," Tweek says, patting the cushion.

Other than a shiver that ripples through him, Clyde doesn't move. Tweek looks to Craig again. "Try a different word," Craig says. "He already has that command."

Tweek's head bows under the fury of his blush. Of course Craig uses that command with Clyde, and not in the way he uses it with Tweek or the way Tweek has used it just now. Tweek wants to chew his lip, but Craig doesn't allow that. He gathers himself, looks up, and tries the only thing he can think of: "Clyde." He pats the sofa seat again.

Clyde looks at Craig and Tweek does, too.

"Don't look at me," Craig says to Clyde. "Look at your new master."

The words shock through Tweek and, he sees, through Clyde, too.

Clyde doesn't look at Tweek, but he does get up on all fours and crawl over. When he climbs up on the sofa, Tweek pats his lap and Clyde rests his head in it. As Tweek strokes his hair, he realizes Clyde is crying. Not hard, but when he touches Clyde's face, brushes the pad of his thumb near the corner of Clyde's eye, he smears a fat, wet drop into Clyde's skin.

"Fuck," Craig says across the room. And then he's there with them: "Oh, fuck," he says in his regular voice, not his basement voice. He kneels by the sofa, his fingers joining Tweek's in Clyde's hair. "That's not what I meant, dummy. I'm not giving you away completely. Do you think I would ever let anyone else have you for themselves? I'd kill you first."

Tweek is sure Craig wouldn't really, but the way Clyde reacts—turning his head to kiss Craig's palm, rubbing his cheek along it—it's obvious Clyde needs to believe it, or at least believe in the fantasy of it. The nameless feeling floods Tweek again, opening up more new space inside him, filling him with a thrumming ache.

"Get down here," Craig says. "Both of you."

They slide off the sofa, settling on either side of him. Wrapping an arm around Tweek and drawing him in close, Craig twists to retrieve a throw pillow from the sofa. He puts it on the floor and Clyde doesn't need to be told to lie down.

"I know I told Tweek to come over so I could fuck him in front of you," Craig says as he resumes stroking Clyde's hair. The unexpected words make Tweek squirm and push against Craig, whose arm tightens around him in response. "But maybe I need to fuck you in front of him."

Clyde rolls onto his back, arching in an unmistakable offer. "Oh God," Tweek whimpers before he presses his face into the crook of Craig's neck and gnaws on a mouthful of his shirt.

"Not now," Craig says, his head still turned in Clyde's direction, so Tweek keeps chewing the cotton blend fabric. "You know what I want now."

At that, Tweek looks up; he doesn't want to miss what Craig wants.

After shifting Tweek to straddle one of his legs, Craig lets go of him and turns to Clyde, who seems to turn into modeling clay in Craig's hands. He responds to the slightest touch, letting Craig move his body around until he's on his side from the waist up, one hand tucked under the pillow his head is resting on, the other draped behind him; his hips torque perpendicular to his upper body, pelvis up, legs canted open with one stretched straight and the other bent at an acute angle, maybe 40 degrees.

Tweek hasn't been given permission to speak, let alone the command to do so, but he can't help himself. "That looks uncomfortable."

Craig glances at him. "No." There's a smile just at the corner of his mouth, but somehow Tweek knows the smile isn't for him or his question. "He's fine like this. He's used to it—this position is one of his favorites, I think." Tweek experiences an odd, pleasant tingling low in his belly when he realizes Craig has been sleep training Clyde. Craig returns his gaze to Clyde. "Isn't that right?"

Clyde parts his lips but doesn't speak; there's just a hint of his tongue as he wets his lips, an arch rolling through his body from his chest through his hips and down to his toes.

Resting his hand over Clyde's eyes, Craig murmurs, "No," and Clyde goes quiet. "Sleep now," Craig says, his voice low and deep. "Be a good boy for me now and I'll let you come for me later. Let you have as much of my come as you can drink, and then more. Just go soft now, and sleep."

Tweek squirms in Craig's lap, awed by how Clyde relaxes all over instead of needing to squirm too. Craig's thumb soothes along Tweek's back as they watch Clyde. As he always does in the basement, Tweek is finding it difficult to track time, but he thinks it's only a couple of minutes until Clyde's breathing slows and steadies.

"Is he really asleep?" Tweek asks in a hushed voice.

Craig nods. "He knows better than to try faking it." Tweek doesn't question the unexpected flush he feels at that.

After another moment, Craig reaches for Clyde's fly. Tweek swallows most of his whine, but some of it spills out with his next breath. Craig glances at him. "It's all right, he won't wake up." One hand resting in the small of Tweek's back, Craig drags Clyde's zipper all the way down, slowly, metal tooth by metal tooth. Movements still slow and careful, he takes out Clyde's cock and lets it rest, soft and heavy, against his belly. Clyde is uncircumcised, his cock cocooned inside his foreskin, but Tweek thinks it looks vulnerable. He didn't know Clyde's cock was going to make him feel like this, that he'd want to put Clyde in his mouth not to make him come but to keep him safe.

An audible exhale draws Tweek's gaze back to Craig. He's focused on Clyde, his expression deepened into calm. Tweek isn't sure he's ever seen Craig look like this; maybe no one has—maybe this is something Craig only gives to those who are asleep. Tweek tingles beneath his skin as Craig's calm seeps into him.

"It started when we were kids," Craig says then. "I don't remember how, just that whenever I had a bad day or something went wrong or whatever, I'd go over to Clyde's and make him take off his clothes and let me look at him, and that'd calm me down." Another deep sigh moves through him. He doesn't say any more but Tweek hears the unspoken words in that breath anyhow: it still does.

Tweek leans against Craig, Craig's thumb drifting as far up along his spine as it can go without moving his hand from the small of Tweek's back, caressing back down, skimming up again, gliding down, a lullaby of movement.

After a while, Craig goes on, "It used to calm him down, too. Sometimes it still does. Sometimes he needs more." He doesn't elaborate on what that more is and Tweek doesn't ask. "Today nothing would calm him. That's never." He closes his jaw around whatever he was going to say. "He somehow got it into his head that he's not what I want, that he was going to lose me—" He breaks off again. He shifts Tweek fully into his lap, both arms encircling him.

And Tweek gets it: Craig is afraid of losing Clyde, too. He didn't know Craig was susceptible to fear and anxiety—Craig has always seemed beyond that, impossibly strong and cool. But today Craig was scared. And he called Tweek.

"This wasn't how I planned it," Craig says. His arms loosen and Tweek shifts back to look at him. "Do you want it like this? With...with all three of us?"

Reflexively Tweek brings his hand to his mouth, chewing on a ragged cuticle.

Craig rests a hand on his head and Tweek's jaw eases, releasing his thumb. "It's okay," Craig tells him. "You don't have to know the answer now."

Tweek glances down at Clyde's sleeping face, his body, his soft cock. He knows the answer. "I want to protect him."

"From me?"

Tweek thinks he hears amusement and maybe something else in Craig's voice but when he looks up, Craig's expression gives nothing away.

"I just want to protect him," Tweek says. "I want to protect you, too."

Now Craig does smile, the curvature of his lips so gentle that it would be easy for almost anyone else to miss. "My guard pup." His fingers slide through Tweek's hair, down to cup his nape, thumb rubbing behind Tweek's ear and eliciting the low, pleased growling that Craig calls purring when he wants to tease Tweek. He doesn't tease Tweek now, though; he doesn't say anything, just pets and gazes and lets himself smile.

Tweek's eyes fall shut. He's always been content with Craig, just Craig, even if he didn't have all of Craig. After this, though, he knows that Craig needs Clyde, and that him needing Clyde doesn't make him need Tweek any less. He might even need Tweek more now than he did before. Another thing Tweek knows now is that, while he had always thought he needs Craig more than anyone else in the world does, Clyde needs Craig just as much—and also, somehow, amazingly, he needs Tweek, too. It's like multiplication by one, which is what Tweek has always used to explain how being with Craig makes him feel: one times one is one. The beauty and simplicity and soothingly irrefutable truth of that statement is what made him want to study mathematics.

One times one is one. And one times one times one is also one.

Tweek smiles: he is needed, oh he is loved, and he is one.