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I Want It To Hurt A Lot, Actually

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In the seventeen years Craig Tucker has spent his life in the depths of the Colorado Rockies, he's learned something especially important; summers are short . The good news is, Craig prefers the cold, anyway. The sun is like a hell spawn, sent from Satan specifically to fuck with him. Craig gets body odor wicked bad around June, and has to ditch his favorite hat by July unless he wants it filled with pools of sweat. By early August, he’s rocking a fine sheen of grease 24/7 and stinks like a corpse. So kissing that hot weather goodbye is fucking heaven-sent, enough to make him get on his knees and pray to his Lord Jesus Christ. It’s summertime, indeed, but the living is most certainly not easy. Sure, Craig has more opportunity to goof off all day, no weighted responsibilities of school to tie him down, but the copious amounts of sweat and stink get regretful after a while. Besides, it’s too hot to do jack-shit by mid July, which leaves Craig sweating in his bedroom and playing video games for about a month and a half straight. He stinks like sour milk. The whole room does. This summer shit fucking sucks. 

 

There is, however, one unfortunate aspect of summer ending; school. Seriously, public high school is a fucking danger zone. Craig can tolerate being called slurs by a bunch of illiterate douchebags. What he has an issue with is being treated like the house pet, the token little faggy boy that likes to go shopping and cares about what his nails look like. Just kick his ass, at that point, like -Jesus fuck. Craig doesn’t understand why teenagers are so fucking stupid, or why high school has to be this bad. He longs for days in the future, when he’s graduated and grown and free to get as far away from South Park, Colorado as possible. 

 

Just one more year , Craig thinks, laying flat on his back in bed, staring at the ceiling. It’s dark in his room, aside from the light illuminating from the glow in the dark stars he put all over his walls years ago, right around the time he insisted to his parents he would work for Nasa one day. That seems like a fucking joke now, Craig barely pulled a C in physics last year. There’s a model of the Millennium Falcon hanging over his bed, the one he built with Clyde when he was ten, and not one -but two - Deadpool posters framing it. Shameful as it may be, Craig finds pleasure in staring into the face of buff, sarcastic men in spandex. At least, he usually would if he were not, instead, staring into the face of the pressing issue of school. Why, oh why is he not Ryan Reynolds, fucking about in a red latex suit? Instead he’s cursed to be seventeen year old Craig Tucker -the asshole who has school tomorrow.

 

It’s almost two o’clock in the fucking morning. Craig spent the last few weeks sleeping until five and shitting around with his friends from dusk till dawn. It was the only time the heat wasn’t suffocating enough to kill him. However, that did fuck up his sleep schedule. As of right now, his body is a lot more prepared to be smoking weed by the train tracks with Tweek and Jimmy, or getting drunk behind Red Robin with Clyde and Token, not lying awake in bed, dreading his general existence. Craig wishes he had just one more week of fucking around. He feels like he deserves it, especially if it means he’s going to be spending the next several months crammed in a glorified prison with his peers. But fuck, nothing can ever fucking go Craig Tucker’s way. 

 

He finally manages to fall asleep sometime around four o’clock, but is torn from his precious slumber by six. His alarm is blaring the Imperial March , which is pissing Craig off. He curses his past self for doing this to him as he blindly swats his hand at his bedside table, trying to shut the stupid thing off. He finally manages to hit the snooze button, settling back into bed and drifting off again. His alarm goes off three more times before he finally drags himself out of bed, pissed off and cursing whatever Gods are watching over him. Craig is a filthy fucking homo, so it’s probably Satan in charge of puppetering his life. 

 

Dragging himself into a sitting position is one thing, but actually getting out of bed feels like an impossible task. His limbs are heavy and his eyes are crusted with gunk. His head hurts and his body hurts and his brain hurts, everything may as well be exploding from the inside. He yawns and stretches his arms over his head, spine popping, giving him a breath of life. Finally, he musters the will to push himself out of bed and head to the bathroom. His bladder is currently filled with the liter of Mountain Dew he chugged before bed last night. And of course, the bathroom door is locked. Craig huffs and pounds on the door. 

 

“Occupied!” His sister yells from the other side of the door. “Fuck off!”

 

“Hurry up!” Craig yells back. “I have a gallon of radioactive piss that needs to be unleashed.”

 

“Gross!” Tricia, yells back. Thankfully, it’s not long before Craig hears the toilet flush, and then the sink running. When Tricia steps out of the bathroom, she pushes at Craig’s chest, brushing past him and muttering,

 

“Fag.” 

 

If Craig were not an embarrassing two seconds away from pissing his pants, he wouldn’t have let a twelve year old in pigtails call him a fag. However, Tricia can get away with it, this time, because Craig doesn’t have time to respond when he’s too busy charging into the bathroom. He hops in the shower when he’s done. Sitting in his own filth is fine and dandy when he’s by himself, but showing up to school reeking like rotten sewage is not the move. Craig spends about five minutes altogether in that shower, mostly because he knows if he spends any longer, he’s going to start jacking off. Tugging his dick is becoming a compulsory instinct at this point, so much so that it’s getting inconvenient. Half the time when Craig pops a boner, he rolls his eyes and takes care of it as quickly and efficiently as possible, like it’s just another chore his body needs, like eating or pissing. 

 

He examines himself in the mirror when he steps out of the shower. Overall, Craig doesn’t consider himself to be particularly vain or self conscious. He’s aware that he’s not the best looking guy around, six and a half feet of scrawny, gangling limbs, with eye bags so deep he looks about ready to keel over into a coma. His hair is cut by his mom with a pair of kitchen scissors and his wardrobe of choice is Star Wars t-shirts and the same stupid blue hat he’s been rocking since the fourth grade. Regardless, he can comfortably say that he isn’t exactly ugly. His cheekbones sit high on his face, sharp and sturdy, and his brows, dark and thick, are naturally set low, making his resting face appear brooding and mean. There’s novelty to this, as Craig finds himself rarely being approached by strangers or the general public. The common person, he supposes, does not want to mess with the half dead giant that looks like he’s ready and willing to kill. The acne festering along his chin and hairline are taunting him, though. 

 

Out of pure instinct, his left hand flies toward his face, going for the particularly noticeable pimple dotted right in the center of his chin. He pinches it between his thumb and his index finger, squeezing with all the force he can muster. His skin tugs, irritated with the force of Craig’s grip. He feels it pop between his fingers, immediately digging his thumbnail into the skin and scraping at it.

 

“Fuck,” he whispers when he pulls back his hand to see blood dribbling out of the now fresh wound on his chin. His face looks like a horror show, gashed and bloody, all from popping one fucking zit. He goes for the toilet paper, wetting a wad of it before pressing it to the cesspool of bodily fluids pooling from his face. He scowls at his reflection, growing increasingly disappointed with himself. He points to himself in the mirror, leaning in close and glaring into his own eyes. “Stop picking your skin, dumbass.”

 

He descends to the kitchen once he’s wearing pants again. His hair is still sopping wet and there’s blood still smeared on his chin. His family is already two steps ahead of him, Tricia kicking her feet under the kitchen table and his mother standing over the stove, cooking scrambled eggs. His father’s back is turned to him, eyes glued to his phone. Craig heads straight for the fridge to grab the milk, drinking directly from the carton. 

 

“Gross!” Tricia yells. “ Mom , Craig put his fucking mouth on the milk carton again!” 

 

His mother sighs heavily, looking at Craig with scolding eyes. “Don’t do that, it’s gross. We’ve talked about this.” Craig rolls his eyes, putting the milk back in the fridge and slamming the door shut. 

 

“What the fuck ever.” He mutters, sauntering over to the kitchen table. He sits next to his dad with a huff, leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms over his chest. 

 

“Good morning, sunshine.” His dad greets. “How’s my favorite faggot doing this morning?”

 

Craig glares at him, sucking his teeth in annoyance. “I dunno, dad.” He says. “How are you doing this morning?” Before his dad has an opportunity to respond, Tricia belts out a laugh. 

 

“Someone's woke up in a pissy mood.” She teases. “Are you being temperamental because you ass blasted one of your fuckboy friends? Are the fag jokes hitting extra hard?” Craig groans loudly in annoyance.

 

“Shut your fucking mouth, I swear to God.” Craig says, covering his face with his hands and slumping further in his chair. Tricia gasps, like she’s just uncovered some new and exciting information.

 

“So you did fuck one of your friends! Who was it? Token? Clyde ?”

 

“Craig,” his mother interrupts. She pauses her task of portioning out scrambled eggs onto four separate plates in favor of staring at him, a funny look on her face. “You’re not having butt sex with those boys, right? That’s how people get aids.” 

 

“Ew, Craig put his aids lips on the milk carton! We’re all gonna get aids!” Tricia teases, pointing at Craig like he’s a zoo exhibit. 

 

“That’s not how aids are contracted.” Craig argues. 

 

“I don’t trust that Tweek kid.” His mother continues. “that whole family’s off their fucking rocker. Those are people that’ll give you aids.” 

 

“Wait,” his dad says, putting his phone down in favor of staring at Craig, brows etched in a scowl. “ Who are you having butt sex with?”

 

“Jesus fuck!” Craig shouts, throwing his hands up and pushing himself away from the table. “Fuck you guys, I’m going back up to my room.” 

 

“Without eating breakfast?” Craig’s mother asks. 

 

Craig glares at her, stomping over to the fridge and rummaging through it like a nuisance. He pulls out three cans of diet coke, holding them up like he’s showing off a trophy.  

 

“Already covered.” He says. His mom scoffs. 

 

“You’re such a pain in the ass.” she says, as Craig is already halfway out of the kitchen, and flipping her off over his shoulder. 

 

Once he reaches his room, he chugs one of the cans of diet coke in one go, the carbonation making his sinuses burn. The bubbles build up in the barrel of his chest like a nuclear detonator, exploding in the form of a fucking gnarly burp. 

 

Craig descends the stairs about fifteen minutes later, dressed in the first few things he grabbed from his closet. He has his backpack swung over his shoulder and his blue, woolen hat tugged over his head. He feels exhausted, posture slumped and eyes heavy; his limbs drag behind him like a ghoul. He moans pitifully once he reaches the bottom of the staircase, footfalls heavy against the floor. 

 

Craig does not instantly recognize the car parked in his driveway. It’s a sliver Lexus something-or-other, a small five seater that has Craig bearing his teeth. Token used to drive a massive SUV of sorts, a spacious black seven-seater that reminded Craig of a limousine. About a week ago, right after Token’s parents left for their annual three-month-trip to the Bahamas, Token crashed his car. That’s what he told his parents, at least, which is technically the truth. Of course, he left out the part where he was intoxicated. Craig hadn’t seen the replacement until now, but he’d been hoping it would be massive and spacious like the old one. 

 

Clyde sticks his head out the window, throwing Craig a goofy grin as he approaches. “Get in loser, we’re going shopping!” He calls. 

 

“What?” Craig asks. 

 

“It’s from that movie, dude.” Clyde says. “The chick flick.” 

 

Craig stands at the passenger side door, staring at him expectantly. “Why would I be watching chick flicks?” 

 

“Dude it’s kind of funny, Bebe had me watching it the other night-“

 

“Don’t care. Get out.” Craig says. 

 

What? ” Clyde whines. “No way, why do you get dibs on shotgun?” 

 

“I’m the tallest.” Craig says, shrugging. 

 

“Fuck you.” Clyde replies. “Token, get my back on this, dude; tell Craig to get fucked.” 

 

Token sighs heavily. “I could not give less of a shit about which one of you gets shotgun.” 

 

Clyde throws his head back, groaning loudly. He undoes his seatbelt, grumbling as he crawls out of the car. He shoulders Craig on his way out, shooting him with a glare. Once Craig’s gotten into the car, Token puts it in reverse, backing out of the driveway. School doesn’t start for another hour, but it’s a twenty minute drive and Token still needs to make his rounds. As the only one in their friend group with a car, he is, obviously, personally responsible for making sure everyone gets to school. They’re halfway to Tweek’s when Clyde decides to make a ruckus. 

 

“Wait!” He shouts, forcefully slapping his hands against Craig's headrest. The movement is so sudden that it makes Token jump, swearing loudly as he swerves. Craig has to grip the sides of his seat for dear life just to avoid major heart palpitations, but Clyde seems completely unbothered.

 

Christ Clyde. What ?” Token asks.

 

“Can we pick Bebe up?” Clyde asks, as if he were a child asking his parent for candy. Token scowls, eyes glued to the road as his car trudges along.

 

“No, I still have to go get Tweek and Jimmy, and my car only has five seats.” He makes eye contact with Clyde in the rearview mirror, who looks like he might cry, lip sticking out in a pout and eyes beginning to water. It's a little sad, but mostly pathetic.

 

“C'mon, please ? She can sit in my lap! She lives, like, right over here and I miss that ass, dude.” Clyde is pleading at this point, but Craig can't really figure out why. The last time he checked, Bebe was perfectly capable of taking the bus to school like anyone else, and if Clyde wanted to see his girlfriend so badly, he could sit with her and the rest of the girls at lunch. Token sighs, dejected, as he puts on his blinker and makes a right turn into Bebe's neighborhood. 

 

“Fine, whatever.” He mutters. Clyde nearly squeals with excitement. Craig groans in complaint, but Token’s already been persuaded. How he feels about Clyde’s girlfriend is complicated, to say the least. She’s nice enough, and funny when she drinks. She has an easy time getting her hands on good weed for free, a skill she developed from being a pretty blonde with big tits, and she’s always kind enough to share. She greets Craig when she sees him, seems absolutely smitten with Clyde (for some fucking reason), and is okay enough company to have around when they’re trashed. It’s just that she says things and does things that set Craig on edge, make him feel like she’s not someone that he should be hanging around. Plus, Clyde turns into a douche when they’re together. All in all, Craig doesn’t want to spend his Monday morning crammed in a five seater car with Bebe Stevens. 

 

She’s waiting on the front porch when they arrive, looking like a million and one dollars. Her hair is curled to perfection, lips painted red, and she’s wearing a red sweater that’s just a little too tight, paired with a checkered skirt that’s just a little too short. She’s objectively gorgeous, proportioned like a Barbie doll and constantly glammed up like a supermodel. She’s just the type of thing boys like Clyde ruin their futures over, but Craig thinks she comes across as artificial. 

 

Bebe waves to them when the car stops, shouldering his book bag and beginning to jog over. The wind is making her skirt rustle and Craig sincerely hopes it doesn't blow up, because he thinks that if he caught a glimpse of her panties today, he might take it as a sign to off himself. He averts his eyes and tries not to wish for the sweet release of death as he hears Clyde roll down the window and loudly wolf whistle in his girlfriend's direction. He thinks he can hear Bebe's nails click against the car windowsill and then the distinct sound of lips smacking together before she finally opens the door and climbs in. Craig risks glancing at them in the rearview mirror and is assaulted by the image of their all too comfortable PDA. Bebe is sitting on Clyde's lap, indeed, with his face in her hands as they rub the tips of their noses together, both smiling softly. Craig isn't sure where Clyde's hands are, but he's pretty positive he doesn't want to know. 

 

“Ugh,” Token says, loud enough to gain both of their attention. “Keep it in your pants, you assholes.” Bebe giggles. 

 

“Sorry.” She says. She holds her hands up, as if to say I’ll keep them to myself . “Hi Token.” Token gives her a short wave as he begins to drive away. “Hi Craig.” She says, holding up her hands and wiggling her fingers. “I just got my nails done, wanna see?”

 

It takes Craig a moment to realize that she’s addressing him. Never once has he asked Bebe to see her nails, and he has no idea why he would start now. He furrows his brows in confusion, turning in his seat to look at her. 

 

“No?” He says, although it comes off as a question. She touches his face, which is weird and incredibly awkward, and examines it, turning his head side to side. 

 

“You should really do something about your skin, if you wanna get boys to like you.” She says. She grins at him, releasing her hold on his cheeks. “I have some old products you can take, if you want.” 

 

Clyde snorts. “Baby, I don’t think a few cleansers can fix that ugly mug.” She smacks Clyde on the shoulder. 

 

“Don’t be rude!” She scolds. “Craig could be plenty handsome with a little help.”

 

“Thanks.” Craig mutters, which makes Bebe beam. 

 

“Well, you know, like, gay handsome.” She adds, which only makes the compliment feel more backhanded. Once again, Craig would rather just be called a faggot and get it over with. 

 

They pull up in front of Tweek Bros. Coffee about five minutes later. Before the car has time to fully stop, Tweek emerges from inside the shop looking like an absolute wreck. Despite the heavy bags creased under his eyes, they’re wide and alert, shooting every which way. His hair is riddled with nasty cowlicks, sticking up in every direction like the laziest victory spikes. There’s a gnarly scab on his chin, dotted in the same place Craig picked his zit this morning. Clutched in his palm is a large travel mug and a brown paper bag, both of which are vibrating as frequently as his hands. 

 

He's wearing a dark green pullover that’s about four sizes too big for him and hangs off his slender frame like a burlap sack. His messenger bag has slipped from his shoulder to his elbow, the bottom of it dragging along the concrete behind him. Tweek takes a moment to notice this, yelping like a dog when he finally does and awkwardly flailing his arm to try to push the strap back on his shoulder. Craig snorts at the sight, feeling a grin tug at his lips. 

 

Opening the car door is a struggle for him, too. His hands are shaking bad and there are too many things clutched between them. A strange, frustrated sort of gargle emits from the back of his throat just as he manages to rip open the passenger side door. He slides into his seat, throwing down his messenger bag in the process and huffing at it angrily. Just as he shuts the door behind him, Token starts to pull out of the parking lot. 

 

“Jesus fuck,” he mutters. He tosses the paper bag onto the center console. “I brought muffins.” 

 

“Woohoo!” Clyde exclaims, instantly grabbing for the bag. They take a moment to pass it around. The bag only has four muffins, leaving Tweek empty handed. Token glances at him through the rear view mirror just as he makes a grab for the last muffin, his eyebrow raised. 

 

“Nothing for you?” He asks. Tweek shakes his head, instead reaching into his pocket for a pack of cigarettes. 

 

“Can I smoke in here?” He asks, already rolling down his window. It doesn’t matter what Token’s answer is, because Tweek is flicking his lighter to life. The pungent scent of tobacco hits Craig’s sense like a truck, making his fingers itch. Judging from the scowl on Token’s face, Craig can assume he would’ve said no

 

“Fuck, fine, I guess.” Token mutters. Tweek grins. 

 

“Thanks.” He says. He takes a long inhale. It makes Craig’s mouth water. “I f-feel like shit, man. I’ve been awake for, like, hnng , two days.” He sniffs, rubbing at his nose. 

 

“That’s not good.” Bebe interjects. Her brows are furrowed in concern. “Do you have insomnia?” 

 

Tweek looks at her like he’s never seen her face before. His shrug is more reminiscent of a spasm, a weird noise ripping from the back of his throat. He takes a long sip from his thermos. “Clyde, who the fuck is the pretty blonde girl?”

 

“Dude, are you fucking high?” Clyde asks. “Bebe? My girlfriend?” 

 

“So she’s not here to kill me?” Tweek asks. 

 

“Uh, no.” Clyde clarifies. 

 

Craig barks out a laugh, just as the car pulls into Jimmy’s driveway. He’s already waiting outside. Craig has to get out of the car to help him load his crutches into the trunk and lower himself into the backseat.

 

“Th-th-thanks.” Jimmy says, as Craig has his arm wrapped around his waist. 

 

“Whatever.” Craig responds. “Your retardation is an inconvenience.” 

 

“Excuse me.” Jimmy says. “The p-p-politically correct term is mentally handicapped.” Craig rolls his eyes. 

 

“Get in the fucking car, retard.” He says. Jimmy grins, deadweighting himself and struggling against Craig’s efforts to get him comfortably in the backseat. 

 

“Uh-uh-uh,” he says. “S-sorry, I can’t understand you. I’m t-t-too retarded.” 

 

Park County High School is about ten miles away from anything in South Park, all the way out past Stark's Pond. The drive is twenty minutes if they take the interstate, and about thirty when they take the scenic route. But holy shit, is that route worth the ten minute extension. Watching the mountains and the rivers whizz by, being cased by pine tree, it makes Craig feel peaceful. Something in nature touches him, the pine trees and the mountains are like home. He bases how his school day will go around which route Token decides to take. 

 

Today, the detour to get Bebe put them behind schedule, meaning they have to take the interstate. Bebe does not honor her promise to keep her hands to herself. Craig keeps catching glances of Clyde and her in the rear view mirror, his face twisting in disgust every time he has to be cursed with the sight of them making out. He blasts the volume on the radio in an attempt to drown out the incessant sounds of their lips smacking together and lets his eyes flutter closed. Hunched in his seat with his arms crossed over his chest, Craig imagines clouds of cigarette smoke and frozen lakes, snow caked into pine tree branches. 

 

The drive, although only twenty minutes, feels like twenty years. By the time Token is pulling into his parking space, it’s twelve minutes before the first bell is supposed to ring. His friends part their ways, scurrying off one at a time and bidding their farewells. It’s Bebe and Clyde who leave first, Bebe dragging Clyde out of the car by the collar of his shirt. In those heels she’s wearing, she’s taller than him by a few inches. 

 

“Thanks for the ride, Token!” She calls, voice syrupy sweet and fingers fluttering. “Goodbye, boys!” 

 

“Good fucking riddance.” Craig grumbles, reaching for his backpack.

 

“They’re so gross.” Tweek mutters, reaching for another smoke. “Why can’t they keep their, hnng, personal shit personal? ” Craig hums low in the back of his throat. He searches his own pockets for his own cigarettes, realizing with horror that he forgot them at home. He locks eyes with Tweek through the rear view mirror. 

 

“Can I bum one of those?” He asks. Tweek snorts. He tosses his empty pack on to the center console. A box of motherfucking Newport’s. 

 

“If you can conjure it with your mind, sure.” He says. “Otherwise, get fucked.” 

 

In place of giving a verbal response, a low, frustrated growl crawls from the depths of his throat. With all the force he can muster, Craig rips open the passenger side door, storming out of the car in a fury. He kicks the door closed, the heavy slam ringing through his head like a gong. He heads toward the school in a rage, hands shaking and nicotine on the mind. The ghost of tobacco sits idly on his tongue, taunting him with phantom memories. 

 

Once inside, he spends a good five minutes loitering outside his classroom, back pressed up against locker doors as he stares at his phone, trying to tune out the incessant chatter of his peers. Tension curses his muscles, a desperation for relief itching at the tips of his fingers. No amount of Twitter distractions and Reddit posts can qualm the need for a smoke igniting in his blood. Craig is well aware that he’s shit out of luck until three o’clock, once the final bell has rung and he can finally storm home. 

 

“Aw shit, no way!” An excited voice rings from off to Craig’s side. He snaps his head up, greeted with the sight of Clyde, a wide smile carved into his face. “Fuck it up , I got homeroom with my boy.” Craig stares at him like he’s watching his final braincell deteriorate. 

 

“Don’t talk to me like that.” He says, brows furrowed. Craig can stand a lot of things, but being referred to as Clyde’s boy makes him want to commit a hate crime. 

 

The first thing Craig notices when they enter the classroom is Kenny, sat in the back in a ratty orange hoodie and what is probably unwashed hair, although it’s hard to tell from how tauntly pulled his hood is, tight enough to cover his mouth and his forehead and leave very little room for his eyes to poke out. When Craig gets closer, he can see that Kenny's eyes are bloodshot, a purple splotch running along the bridge of his nose. He nods in Craig and Clyde’s direction, eyes lit up as if he’s excited to see them. Craig offers him an awkward wave. The last time he saw Kenny was sometime in June, at his cousin Red’s end of the year party. He’d watched Kenny do lines off some freshman girl’s tits and proceed to sprint around the perimeter of the house, claiming he could never die. 

 

Craig is tempted to sit as far away from him as possible, but Clyde is already bumbling over like some sort of fool, so he supposes he has no other choice but to interact. Kenny’s eyes light up when he notices them coming. Craig imagines he’s grinning under that hood.

 

“Hey,” Kenny greets, voice muffled by the hood of his sweatshirt. “What did you guys do over summer?” He’s murmuring bad, making it near impossible to decipher what the fuck he’s saying.

 

“Play video games and jerk off.” Craig answers. Kenny leans back in his chair, making the front legs lift off the linoleum floor. His fingers are tapping against the wood of his desk as if he’s too restless to properly sit still. Craig wonders if he’s on something heavier than weed.

 

“Nice.” He mutters. He reaches into the pocket of his hoodie, pulling out an unopened pack of blue American Spirits. Craig’s eyes widen at the sight of them, his mouth watering and fingers itching to light one. Kenny grins at him “You want these? A guy at a gas station gave ‘em to me, but I don’t smoke this shit. I know it’s your brand.” He offers. For a moment, Craig considers dropping to his knees and kissing the ground beneath Kenny’s feet. 

 

“God, yeah.” He says, taking the pack of smokes from Kenny’s hands. He loosens his hood, exposing the rest of his face and letting a few tufts of dirty blonde hair stick out every which way. He’s tanned and freckled, no doubt from spending time in the summer heat. The purple splotch on his nose, which is looking a little extra crooked, is definitely a nasty bruise. It’s paired with a scattering of bruises along his right cheekbone. His front tooth is chipped and there’s a noticeable new gap between his canine tooth and his mollar. He has a scab on the corner of his mouth. Craig isn’t sure if that’s a wound or a disease. 

 

“What the fuck happened to you?” Clyde asks, staring at Kenny like he’s an animal on display. Kenny's smile doesn't falter, but his eyes do as confusion proceeds to spark behind his irises. He closes his lips, but Craig can still see the bump of his tongue running over his teeth, stopping about where the gap is before a horrified sort of realization dawns on Kenny's face. Craig doesn't blame the guy. One of his teeth is clearly missing, and it's obviously from whatever incident also gave him that purpling bruise on his nose.

 

“Oh, uh, that,” he says, and he kind of sounds like he's at a loss for words. He shoves his pinky through the space where his tooth had once been and tries to smile like it's a funny story. “I fucked this guy's girlfriend over the summer, I guess.”  Kenny stops and stares at the both of them for a while, his eyes wide. Craig stares back, expectantly. Whatever happened for sure ended in a beating and Craig wants to know every gorey little detail.

 

“You guess?” He asks, prompting Kenny to continue. He shrugs. 

 

“I dunno, I fucked a lot of people over summer.” Kenny’s not really looking at them, like he’s lost somewhere. Craig is familiar with this mood of his, when he gets dreamy and acting like he’s shy and mysterious. It usually means something fucked up is going on in his life. Craig doesn’t ask much, but spend enough years buying drugs from him, and it’s not hard to pick up on.  “But I guess one of them had a boyfriend and gave him my address. So.” 

 

Clyde snorts. “So he kicked the shit out of you?” He asks. Kenny presses his lips together, shrugging. 

 

“S’okay. I’ve been beaten worse, or whatever.” He says. Craig has watched Kenny get the shit kicked out of him for a multitude of reasons, most of them drug related. He’s an accessible dealer, but also a shitty one. Sometimes he overcharges because he’s smoked half the product, and sometimes he goes off the grid for four days straight with no warning. It’s pretty common for Kenny to look beat up, battered and bruised. Duct tape splints and colorful bandaids have become a regular part of his attire. Considering his lack of either, this is certainly not the worst Kenny’s looked after a fight. “Other than that, I mostly just got high all summer.”

 

“Shocking.” Craig says. Kenny shoots him a grin, and suddenly it’s like he’s come back to Earth just to stare into Craig’s soul. Craig sneers, in place of squirming under that intense gaze. 

 

“And I talked to God.” Kenny says. Craig isn’t sure how to respond to that. Clyde laughs, but something tells Craig Kenny isn’t joking.

 

“Is she hot?” Clyde asks. Kenny looks amused. 

 

“Incredibly.” He answers. “But she gave me the clap.” 

 

“You’re telling me you managed to fuck God?” Craig asks, looking at Kenny incredulously. He shrugs, a funny, lopsided grin plastered across his face. 

 

“Yeah, she’s Hispanic, I think. And apparently riddled with chlamydia.” He says. Craig scoffs. 

 

“What the fuck are you smoking?” Clyde asks, laughing. Something in Kenny’s eyes ignites, something dark and teetering on the edge. 

 

“You don’t even wanna know the kind of shit I smoke.” He says, which is chilling and undoubtedly true. Craig’s seen him at parties, and he’s seen the things he sells and the people he talks to. Kenny is the embodiment of that one sketchy kid parents don’t want their children hanging around. 

 

Grimy, ill mannered, and always caught in some sort of questionable situation. He keeps weed in his backpack and pills in his pockets. He sells cigarettes to freshmen behind the school, right in the alcove with the dumpsters, which, in turn, leaves him constantly smelling like shit. He doesn’t always talk much, but when he does, it’s either a rampage about titties, an offer to buy some sort of substance, or odd mutterings about God and dying and the meaning of life. If it turned out Kenny’s been smoking crack since eighth grade, Craig wouldn’t be surprised. He’s grateful for the bell ringing, signaling the end of their conversation. 

 

The first day of the school year is always the worst. Syllabus readings bore Craig to tears, and getting to know his teachers is a chore. He curses teachers that make the class participate in those stupid ice breakers, as if Craig hasn’t been going to school with half these people his entrie life. He sounds like a fucking doofus in fourth period, standing up at his desk and awkwardly announcing to his peers, 

 

“My name is Craig and, uh, my favorite color is blue.”

 

He’s pretty sure his favorite color being blue isn’t a “fun fact,” and he’s doubly certain that not a single one of his classmates is listening, but the sudden spotlight on him makes him wish he were two feet tall. It took fifty-five minutes to get through the class, leaving Craig the last to go. His history teacher seems to be the chatty sort, trying to engage everyone he comes across in basic conversation. His attempt on Craig is futile, of course. 

 

“I can think of another pretty interesting fact about you, Craig. How tall are you, man?” He asks, looking Craig up and down. 

 

“I don’t know.” Craig responds. 

 

“Do you play basketball or something?” He continues. 

 

“No.” Craig answers. 

 

“Craig likes to play with balls, alright!” A voice calls. It’s distinctly male, but Craig can’t recognize much past that. A few light chuckles sound around the room. His teacher mostly just looks confused. Craig remains straight faced, sitting back down and resting his cheek in the palm of his hand. He stares up at his teacher, brow raised as if to ask 

 

Are we done here? 

 

The bell rings a few minutes later, signaling lunch time. Craig is relieved to get out of there, dreading an entire upcoming school year of shit like that, little shitty jabs and nasty jokes aimed at Craig and his sexuality. He’s the first one out the door, rushing to lunch as quickly as the strides of his legs will allow. 

 

His friends are seated in the usual table on the far side of the cafeteria. Clyde is talking about something he is, apparently, very passionate about, judging by the way his hands are flying every which way. He pauses in what Craig can only assume is mid sentence as his gaze lands on a spot just behind Token's shoulder before his face lights up in a wide, goofy grin. On his feet in a flash, he's excitedly calling out Bebe's name, practically jumping up and down as he tries to get her attention. He's like a toddler, really, Craig thinks as he rolls his eyes and plops his lunch tray down next to Tweek, who jumps in surprise at the loud clatter.

 

“Jesus Christ, man, you almost gave me a heart attack.” He says, hand placed firmly on his chest and eyes wide with startled surprise. Craig has to suppress a grin and instead just shrugs before shouldering off his backpack and dropping it next to his feet. There's some sort of limp-ass salad paired with a few stale, grayish chicken nuggets piled on top of his tray and Craig awkwardly pokes at it with a plastic spork. School lunches aren't necessarily the most appetizing things on the planet, but he’s lucky enough to be on the districts free lunch plan and he certainly won’t be turning down free food.

 

“Where the fuck is your lunch?” Tweek asks, loud and blunt, gaze directed toward Token and the lack of food sitting in front of him. Craig nearly laughs out loud at the genuine concern laced in his voice. Token seems to have been spacing out because he's slow to react, blinking blearily before turning his attention on Tweek.

 

“Hm? Oh, uh, I didn't pack one.” He shrugs nonchalantly, as if this is normal behavior -which Craig finds amusing considering how out of the ordinary Token not eating truly is. Usually, he's the one flocking about the rest of their group like a mother hen, bringing extra peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for everyone- just in case- so his lack of food is quite surprising for everyone, and probably quite disturbing to a habitual worrier such as Tweek. “I'll probably just grab a pizza or something after school. I can leave after fifth period.”

 

“What the fuck?” Clyde says loudly, tearing his attention away from the cold Walmart breakfast burrito sitting in front of him. His mouth is full and he's managed to spray food on the table top in front of him in excitement. “Since when ?” Token shrugs again.

 

“I only need five credits to graduate.” So that's the advantage of caring about your school work, Craig thinks, getting less school work.

 

“What about rides home?” Craig asks, brows furrowed. He can't imagine Token would be too keen on the idea of going home just to drive back up to the high school an hour later and pick up all his friends.

 

“Well, considering I'm not a personal chauffeur, you could ride the bus like normal people. Or, you know, learn how to drive.” Tweek scowls down at his food as Token finishes, mouth twitching with discontent.

 

“No fucking way am I ever riding the school bus again. Do you know what happened last time I rode the bus? I found a used condom on my seat. Used . I nearly touched another guy's splooge at seven o'clock in the morning.” Craig grins. Tweek has always amused him. He’s funny, with an odd sense of humor that makes it difficult to decipher whether or not he’s joking. Token presses his lips together for a moment, clearly trying to decide how to address that issue, but before he can process what was just said to him, Tweek continues to babble. “I'm pretty sure it was the bus driver's, too. Like, that fucking wacko dragged some poor girl into a run down school bus from nineteen-eighty-asscrack and then left his spunk all over the place, specifically for me to find. I'm pretty sure he was plotting against me sophomore year.” Clyde laughs, loud and obnoxious, and slaps his hand against the table top, making Tweek jump three feet out of his skin and nearly fall off his chair in panic. Token just sighs and rubs the bridge of his nose.

 

“I really don't think a forty year old bus driver was plotting against you.” He says, sounding exasperated.

 

“You don't know that,” Craig shoots back, knowing he probably shouldn't be adding fuel to the fire, but finding the opportunity all too tempting. “Maybe he wanted to, I don't know, male impregnate you or something.” He finds pretty quickly that he is not nearly as creative as Tweek when it comes to making up ridiculous conspiracies, but it doesn't seem to matter because it makes his friend twitch in his seat and let out a muttered,

 

“Oh, Jesus,”

 

all the same. Craig has to suppress a grin as he finally manages to work up the courage to push a forkful of limp, soggy lettuce into his mouth. It tastes about as terrible as he had remembered, and the watery ranch dressing on top isn't doing much to help. Jesus, he really needs to start packing his own lunches.

 

He's not paying much attention to his surroundings at this point, a bit lost in thought and definitely zoning out enough to not notice the people coming and going from their table. Most of them are Clyde's football buddies dropping by to say hello and talk about whatever the fuck it is  meathead jocks talk about. Craig doesn't really care about sports. He played a few seasons of baseball in elementary and middle school and it was fine, if not pretty boring, but he's never really paid much attention to football. His dad likes it, watches the Broncos games every opportunity he gets, occasionally putting money on them, and he likes to call Craig a “fag” for not sharing the same obsession. Which is completely ridiculous. Craig can only think of one other circumstance where he can watch sweaty, in shape men play with balls, and he’s positive his father would not approve of that one. 

 

The only reason Craig attends home games is because of Clyde. He’s big on the sportsmanship thing, likes to know his friends are in the stands cheering him on. In the duration of their high school career, Craig has missed one single football game, and Clyde cried about it for a week. If Park County loses, he needs his friends there to cheer him up. If they win, he’ll throw a party. These parties consist of Craig and his friends crammed into Clyde’s basement with the entirety of the football team, eating pizza and lying to Clyde’s dad about how much beer they’ve drank. 

 

Outside of these parties, Craig tries to interact with the football team as little as possible, partly because they’re all a bunch of bumbling morons, Clyde included, and partly because athletic boys who proudly sport jerseys in their everyday attire intimidate the fuck out of Craig. Not so much because he finds them attractive. Although, if questioned, Craig wouldn’t be able to describe his type, he knows for a fact that homophobes lacking brain cells aren’t it. Mostly, he’s just terrified they’re all going to randomly decide to kick the shit out of him one day. 

 

He's only half-way paying attention when he hears the pitter of heavy footfalls approach his table, shaking him out of his daze. He blinks slowly, trying to gather his bearings. Glancing around at his friends, he comes to the conclusion that none of them were really paying much attention, either. Something hanging in the air has come over them, an energy that’s suddenly encompassed them, leaving every person seated at their table suddenly alert and coated with unease. Shivers run up Craig’s spine, tingling across his chest and making his cheeks burn with blood boiling rage. Craig is not an emotional person the good majority of the time, but there are certain someones that just make his skin crawl.

 

“Hey, dude.” He knows that voice. He’s had it following him around since preschool, grating and entangled with trouble. What did he even do to deserve this sort of torture? Craig had been hoping for limited interaction this year, for a few passing glances at parties, maybe a nod or so in the hallway. Not this , not bothering him at his fucking lunch table. God is punishing Craig, cursing him with the presence of the one, the only -

 

“Oh, hey Stan.” Clyde says back, a pretty big smile plastered on his face. Craig is certain he’s being fake in order to maintain humility. When it comes to football playing assholes, Stan Marsh is one of the worst. There are certainly more actively antagonistic meatheads, ones that like to scream slurs at Craig in the hallways or try to hit him while he’s leaving school, but that doesn’t make Stan better. When they had PE together sophomore year, not long after Craig came out and the rumor mill worked its magic, Stan started signaling him out during competitive sports. The amount of bruises Craig’s collected from Stan’s dodgeball hits has been astronomical. 

 

Stan’s been hanging around Kenny for as long as anyone can remember, which means Craig and he are bound to cross paths. Like when Craig needs weed, but Kenny’s busy playing video games at Stan’s house. Or when Craig needs someone to shoot the shit with before school starts, but Kenny’s already found his friends. They’ve never quite gotten along. Ever since elementary school, Stan’s been weird. It’s like he sees Craig and his friends as a massive nuisance, a roadblock to his general existence. Unless he needs something, of course. Like the time in fourth grade when he found out Craig had a hundred dollars to his name and suddenly decided they were best friends. Or the time in middle school when he realized Craig was getting better grades in science and somehow convinced him to do his homework for a week. Ever since Craig came out, Stan’s been even weirder. 

 

“Jesus fuck, what?” Craig snaps, realizing Stan’s eyes have landed on him. He glares daggers, gripping his plastic fork so hard in his hands it bends. “Are you mustering up the courage to call me a slur or something?” Stan looks taken aback for a second, but his expression quickly morphs into something neutral, 

 

“I heard you got your tongue pierced over the summer.” He says, shoving his hands in the pockets of his hoodie. Craig scowls, feeling the metal bulb press up against the roof of his mouth. He's suddenly very aware of the way it clicks against his teeth when he talks sometimes and how the metal sparkles when it hits the light just right. It wasn't exactly his proudest moment, wasted on cheap beer and sitting on the floor of Clyde's bedroom, surrounded by his equally intoxicated friends when Jimmy suddenly suggested he pierce his own tongue. In a chorus of encouragement and a stupid, drunken state, he managed to do it without much struggle. His parents still don't know that he has it and he's praying they never find out.

 

“You wanna see it or something?” He asks. “Take a fucking picture and use it for you spank bank material later?” Stan’s expression darkens. 

 

“No one gives a shit if you’re a poof, Craig. Just don’t push it on anyone else.” He says. Craig scoffs, flipping him off. 

 

“A poof, wow.” He says. “What the fuck is this, nineteen fifty-two?”

 

“Do you prefer fag, or something?” Stan asks, sounding exasperated. 

 

“I prefer you fuck off.” Craig responds. 

 

“Okay!” Clyde interjects. “Ladies, you’re both pretty. Let’s not bicker anymore, mm-kay?”

 

“Tell that to your fucking buddy Craig, here.” Stan says. “He’s the one being a douche.” 

 

“And you’re the fruity little fairy who’s suddenly so interested in what my tongue’s doing.” Craig argues back. Deep set rage settles over Stan’s features, his teeth grit and his shoulders tight. He starts at Craig, posture pulled taunt like he’s gearing up to throw a punch. 

 

“Hey!” Clyde shouts, quickly standing from his seat to hold Stan back. Having another blunt force physically restrain him seems to calm Stan down, body relaxing as he throws his hands up and takes a step back. 

 

“I just heard from the rumor mill that you pierced your own tongue and I thought that was badass. Excuse the fuck out of me.” Stan says, face still contorted in anger. The explanation has Craig rolling his eyes. Stan does not extend kindness for the sake of being kind. It’s certain that he came over looking for a favor. What the favor would have to do with Craig’s tongue, he isn’t sure. Watching Stan start to walk away makes Craig so irrationally angry he starts shaking. Without thinking, he stands from his seat and shouts, 

 

“Suck my fucking dick, Marsh!”

 

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you, fag?” Stan yells back. Craig flips him off, plopping himself back down in his seat with a huff. He starts picking at his food, but the feeling of his friends’ eyes on him is making his skin crawl. 

 

What? ” He asks after the silence has stretched on for too long. Exasperated, he throws down his fork and glares at each and every one of his friends, daring them to say so much as a word. Clyde and Token avert his gaze, suddenly much more interested in their hands and their food. Tweek is staring past him with wild eyes, wide and angry. He’s shaking in his seat. 

 

“I’ll kill him for you.” He offers. It makes Craig grin, the tightness in his shoulders loosening. His eyes snap to Craig, intense and deadly serious. “I’ll do it. They’ll never find the body.” 

 

“Shit, I believe it.” Craig says. 

 

“If I can change the subject,” Token interjects. “I think I'm gonna have a party on Friday night. Y'know, for back to school.” Craig perks up at that idea, eyes widening with interest. Token throws two parties a year; one on the first week of school and the other after the Homecoming dance. For the past three years, these ragers have conjured tales for the ages. Token spares no expense in keeping the place stocked like a bar, and Kenny uses these parties as prime drug dealing real estate. Last year, he brought twelve pounds of weed with him, most of which he was willing to give out for free, so long as you joined the circle quick enough, and several grams of cocaine. There's a pool in his backyard that someone always ends up throwing up in and an array of guest bedrooms for frisky, drunk couples, along with a surround sound system in the living room and a spacious basement with several flatscreen TV's. 

 

“Oh, fuck yes !” Clyde says, a little too loud and definitely too excited. “I haven't been to a rager since the Fourth of July; I'm so down.”

 

“Nuh-uh, count me out, man,” Tweek says, nervously picking at the scab on his face. Craig rolls his eyes. Trying to drag Tweek out of the house for any social occasion, much less a party, is like pulling teeth. “That shit scares me. People are out to get me in crowds, I can feel it. Too much pressure. I'll stick to getting high in my room.” 

 

“Boo, lame.” Clyde calls, hand cupped around his mouth and thumb pointed down. Tweek just shrugs in response, as if that's the best apology he's got. His eyes cast to the table, his fingers drumming against it rapidly. The scab on his face is ripped off, leaving a pool of goo in its wake that has Craig wrinkling his nose. 

 

“It’d be cool if you actually hung out with us. Ever.” Craig says, tactlessly. He doesn’t intend to come across so aggressive, but his mind is still caught up with anger, phantom memories of Stan Marsh plaguing his psyche. Tweek’s head snaps up, the look in his eyes wild. He starts fiddling with his hands, picking anxiously at his nails. A tremor runs through him, leaving him quivering in his seat. In the fluorescent lighting, Craig can make out little droplets of perspiration on his brow.

 

“I have to shit.” Tweek announces, loudly. He stands from his seat, messenger bag clutched tight to his chest, and scurries off. 

 

The rest of the school day passes by uneventfully, with syllabus reading after class introduction after syllabus reading, things that Craig couldn't really care less about. Relief floods through him like rushing waterfalls once two-thirty rolls around, the final bell ringing through his ears, rattling his brain with rushes of dopamine. He books it to the bus stop, shoving his things haphazardly into his backpack and maneuvering through crowds of his peers with gusto. There’s certainty that Craig looks completely ridiculous, something akin to a race horse or a bumbling giraffe. He’s six inches too tall for his own skin, towering over the throngs of teenagers and weaving through the crowd like a labornyth. If he were shorter, perhaps Craig’s long strides would resonate more with that of a scampering mouse, but instead he’s stuck as the awkward giant.

 

When he's finally managed to get home, after a long and dreadful bus ride with Tweek, where he was extra jittery and completely ignoring Craig in favor of muttering nonsense, he’s greeted with Tricia sitting on the couch, watching some trash reality show with a bowl of ice cream on her lap. Craig plops down next to her after kicking off his shoes and snatches the remote from her hand.

 

“Hey!” She shouts, voice shrill enough to make Craig cringe. “What the fuck!?”

 

“It's three o'clock, Red Racer's on.” He says, quickly flipping the channel.

 

“Fuck you!” Tricia responds angrily, standing up to block Craig's view of the TV. She stretches her arms out to their full wingspan, making Craig have to tilt and maneuver his head around her. 

 

“Move.” He says, growing increasingly agitated. 

 

“No!” Tricia shouts, stomping her foot like a child. “Watch your stupid race car show somewhere else! I was busy.” Craig rolls his eyes. 

 

“Where, exactly, would 'somewhere else' be? There’s not another TV around here.” Tricia lets out a frustrated noise before punching Craig hard on the shoulder.

 

“I don’t care.” Tricia rebukes. “I. Was. Busy.” 

 

Craig blinks at her, unamused. “Red Racer comes on every day at three o’clock. And everyday, at three o-fucking-clock, I watch Red Racer. Now move before I rip your pigtails out of your fucking head.” 

 

Tricia groans loudly in frustration, dropping her arms to ball her fists at her sides. She turns on her heel, stomping toward the stairs. 

 

“I fucking hate you!” She shouts. Craig doesn’t respond, aside from flipping her off over the back of the couch. He’s already started zoning out to the screen in front of him. The heavy sounds of her footsteps thud through the house, making the floor thrum with the raw energy of her anger. 

 

As he always does after school, Craig takes a nap on the couch. This is, of course, after his mind has been numbed with images of cartoon race cars and other animated nonsense. It's what he does best, after all; absolutely nothing. And there's absolutely nothing Craig revels in more than lounging around like a vegetable and forgetting about his existence. His intent had been to only lay down for twenty or so minutes, but minutes easily turn to hours and before he knows it, six-thirty has rolled around and his parents have come home, squabbling loudly in the kitchen over this or that, and rousing Craig from his slumber. He’s forced to retire to his room until dinner time, locking himself in his own version of solitary confinement. Earbuds plugged up in his ears to drown out the noise, his laptop screen buzzing to life as he attempts to load up his Steam account, he's suddenly a lot more irritable than he had once been. His sister -God bless her- doesn't attempt to disturb him until it's dinner time, and by then his shitty laptop has already bugged out so many times he's prepared to hurl the goddamn thing out of the second story window. So he grumbles and pushes himself out of his desk chair, dragging his feet downstairs to the kitchen.

 

For some reason, his mother insists that they eat dinner as a family, seated around the table like normal, civilized people, but Craig think that’s stupid. Forcing the household to interact isn’t going to make everyone suddenly start liking each other. 

 

“How was school today?” Craig’s mom asks.

 

“Fuck school!” Tricia says, jamming her fork forcefully into her spaghetti. She’s scowling. Craig responds with a huff and an eyeroll. 

 

“It was whatever. I’m sleeping over at Token’s next week.” He says. His dad raises a brow. 

 

“Are you?” He asks. His tone makes Craig instantly sour. 

 

“Yeah,” he says. “Clyde and Jimmy will be there, too.” 

 

“Don’t you think you’re getting a little old for sleepovers?” His dad asks. Craig scowls. 

 

“It’s Token, dad.” He says. “And Clyde. And Jimmy. We’ve been having sleepovers since preschool.” 

 

“Uh-huh.” His dad says. “And what are you boys going to get up to? Anything inappropriate?”

 

“Thomas!” Craig’s mother scolds. Craig rolls his eyes.

 

“Jesus fuck, dad, don’t be weird. Even if I wanted to fuck them, it wouldn’t happen. They’re straight, remember?” He says. His dad throws his hands up in defense.

 

“I don’t know what you’re doing in your free time, kid. I don’t get all this fag shit.” Thomas says. Craig scoffs. Tricia laughs. 

 

“Are you turning your friends gay?” She asks. Craig stomps her foot under the table, making her squeal in pain. 

 

“Hey!” Craig’s mom intervenes. “Be nice to your sister.”

 

“Fuck off.” Craig says.

 

“I’m getting pretty fucking sick and tired of you telling me to fuck off, Craig. Remember that I’m still your mother and you still have to listen to me. Be nice to your sister.” His mom scolds. Craig sneers down at his food, stabbing at it like it’s personally offended him. 

 

“That Tweek kid won’t be there, will he? Or the McCormick boy. The one who likes orange.” His dad asks. Craig rolls his eyes. 

 

“Not fucking this again.” He complains. “No, Tweek’s not gonna be there, but I wasn’t asking, I was telling you. I’m sleeping over at Token’s on Friday.”

 

“Oh, God.” His dad groans. “You’re turning your friends, I know it. You’re spreading your gay thing like a disease.” Craig decides not to respond, instead opting to throw his fork down and push himself away from the table. 

 

“Thanks for dinner, mom.” He mumbles, passing her in the kitchen.

 

“Where are you going, shithead?” Craig’s dad asks. Craig flips him off. 

 

“The fuck away from you.” He says. 

 

“Oh, way to go , Thomas,” he hears his mom call as he makes his way to his room, but everything else sounds muffled by the irritated buzz thrumming through his head like tinnitus. He's halfway up the stairs when he pauses, glancing behind his shoulder to stare at the front door. The dead bolt is unlocked. Instantly, Craig turns on his heel and bolts back down, taking the steps two at a time. The heavy creaks of the front door opening alerts his mother. She stands from the table and shouts, 

 

“Craig Tucker, where the fuck do you think you’re going?” Just the door slams shut. 

 

Craig is a man on a fucking mission once he gets outside. He’s walking in long strides, determined to reach his destination before his parents flip out and decide to start looking for him. He’s halfway down the street when his phone buzzes in his pocket. He ignores it, knowing it’s mom. Fuck her, right now. Fuck everyone in that goddamn house. 

 

Clyde's father is the one who answers the front door, wearing old pajama bottoms and a white t-shirt. He doesn't look at all surprised to see Craig standing outside his house unannounced.

 

“Hey kiddo,” Roger says, nodding and stepping aside to let Craig in. “Clyde's in his room, I think.” A pause, and then an awkward, “Probably knock first.” Craig nods once, not bothering to meet Mr. Donovan's eyes as he heads up the staircase, pausing a little to glance at the large, framed picture of Mrs. Donovan hanging over the fireplace, her urn sitting on the mantle just below. Craig hates looking at that fucking thing. He’d only been eight or nine when Clyde’s mom died, but he remembers the funeral vividly. Tragedy is a difficult thing to process at such a young age. He turns away from the portrait and continues trudging up the stairs. 

 

“Jesus dad, I told you, I'm busy .” Clyde says upon Craig's knock. He sounds exasperated, as if his father had attempted to talk to him multiple times before this.

 

“Busy killing zombies or busy tugging your dick?” Craig asks. A pause, a click of a button, and then a pitter of feet jogging across plush carpet before Clyde throws the door open, a large, goofy grin on his face.

 

Zombies , dude. And I was totally winning before you came to distract me.” Although his words indicate annoyance, Clyde is grinning from ear to ear and there's a bounce in his tone. His excitement is almost infectious. Craig shrugs and pushes his way into his friend's room. Briefly, he wonders if it's nice to come from a family that has money to spare. Craig is most notably jealous of the proper gaming computer on Clyde's desk, complete with dual monitors and a light up keyboard, but he also wishes he could have an actual gaming console at his house, like Clyde's Xbox. He turns back to his friend, who has a wicked smile on his face. “You wanna get high?” He asks, and Craig has never been so quick to say yes .

 

“What's it like to have sex with a guy?” Clyde asks, once they've managed to get utterly and thoroughly ripped . Craig blinks, slowly, trying to gather his thoughts.

 

“Are you thinking about having sex with guys?” He asks. 

 

“No, but, uh, for curiosity’s sake? Yes.” Clyde says. “Is it like pooping in reverse?” 

 

“I don't,” Craig pauses, his brain overloading with information, and moving too slow to process it. “I don’t know. Also, what the fuck , Clyde?”

 

“Oh, are you a top?” He asks. He gives Craig a once over. “I wouldn’t peg you for one.” 

 

“What the fuck.” Craig says. “Are you having gay sex? Why do you know what tops and bottoms are?” 

 

“No dude, I’m just trying to understand so I can be more supportive of my bro.” Clyde says. He’s grinning like a dope.

 

“You are a full blown moron.” Craig says. “I don’t know what it’s like to fuck a dude, Clyde. I’ve never done it.” 

 

“Are you serious ?” Clyde says, sounding shocked and bewildered. “Dude! No way , so you’re a virgin?”

 

“Uh, yeah.” Craig says. “Who do you think I’ve been fucking?” 

 

“Holy shit.” Clyde mutters. “Wait, but you've made out with people, right?” There's so much genuine concern in Clyde's voice that it makes Craig grin.

 

“Uh, no.” He says. “Again, who would I be making out with?”

 

Holy shit! ” Clyde practically shouts, startling the walls. “Dude, we gotta get you laid.”

 

Craig is about to respond when he feels his phone vibrate in his pocket. He ignores Clyde in favor of fishing for it, the little notification lighting up his screen 

 

From: Tweek 

I know I’m lame. Sorry. I wanna hang out w u more :(  

 

A grin tugs at Craig’s lips. “Yeah.” He says. “You’re probably right.” 

Chapter Text

By the time the final bell rings on Friday, Craig is practically frothing at the mouth for a drink. The first week of school was like a blur, final memories of summer laziness fading away as he’s thrown back into his standard high school routine. It sucks, as always, crammed in a building with over four-thousand of his peers and standing six inches over the masses. Kids he doesn’t know stare as he passes, giggling behind their hands. 

 

Hey look! It’s that queer!

 

Meatheads shove his shoulders while they storm past, fixing him with smug looks that remind him their aggression is no accident. Teachers are boring, kids are mean, and by the very end of the first week, Craig is about damn sick and tired of being sober. His fingers itch for fun, to lose himself in bass boosted music and liquor that smells like gasoline, to watch freshmen puke in Token’s pool and seniors start stripping out of their clothes. With the week over and his homework completely ignored, Craig is ready to let loose. 

 

He’s been riding the bus home with Tweek all week. Without Token around after school to give rides, he doesn’t have many other options. He could’ve hitched a ride with Clyde and Jimmy, gone to Taco Bell to gorge himself before heading back to Clyde’s and pre-gaming until nine o’clock, but Craig doesn't believe in pre-gaming. Drinking is meant for during the party, but his friends seem to disagree. Even though Token always has better vodka stocked in his kitchen, Clyde still insists on bringing flasks full of Smirnoff. Even though Token always has better, home grown weed, Jimmy continues to bring a pill bottle full of his own stash. And the two of them always - always - manage to blow through a good quarter of their own shit before the sun's started going down. And thus, Craig has given up on arriving to parties with the two of them in tow because he kind of hates dealing with them. Clyde is an asshole when he drinks, Jimmy stutters to the point of incoherence when he's high, and it just puts sober Craig in a bad mood. Plus, he hates showing up to Token's doorstep already inebriated, just in case the security guard has yet to go home for the day.

 

Next to him, Tweek is staring out the window, fidgeting anxiously in his spot. The sides of his fingers are torn to shit, flaps of cuticle hanging off the edges by a thread. Blood is caked under his nails. He has the sleeves of his dark green sweatshirt rolled up, showing off the array of nasty scabs and pick-marks lining his right forearm. Craig isn’t sure what those are, but Tweek’s been rocking them for as long as they’ve known each other. He assumes it’s an anxiety tick of sorts. His sophomore year, Craig decided it would be an excellent idea to take a psychology class. He got a B, and doesn’t remember much about it, but he’s pretty sure excessive skin picking was on the list of anxiety symptoms. Craig has no clue how he manages to pick that bad, on account of how short and bitten his nails are. 

 

“You got any plans for tonight?” Craig asks, filling the silence. The bus ride seems to be taking especially long and he’s starting to get bored. Tweek jumps in his seat, turning wild eyes on Craig in a flash. He quickly rolls down his sleeves, too long for his arms and coming down to hang over his hands. 

 

“Just, ugh , work and stuff.” He says. He squirms under the weight of Craig’s gaze. “I have to take my meds later, um, so I can’t party. Or anything.” 

 

“I wasn’t asking you to.” Craig replies, which seems to make some of the tension in Tweek’s shoulders relax. Craig is somewhat tempted to ask about the meds, and why they might leave him incapable of going to a party, but he doesn’t. Tweek has been talking about his medication for a while, but it’s always vague and the mere mention of it seems to make him anxious. Which is understandable. If Craig were taking some sort of heavy, mystery medication, he might be embarrassed about it, too. “What’s it like working for your parents?” He asks, instead. Apparently, these are the things he’s curious about, bored on the bus. 

 

Tweek makes a low, guttural noise in the back of his throat, something that’s a mix between a moan and a growl of complaint. He crosses his arms over his chest, hunching over himself. “Shitty.” He spits, the sudden anger radiating off of him abruptly ending their conversation. 

 

In the hours between school and the party, Craig stays locked in his room. His sister isn’t home, sleeping over at a friends house, and his parents are still at work. As he always does when he’s left with an empty house and several hours to kill, Craig starts jacking off. It’s out of his control, really, his body reacting on its own as if it recognizes its solitude. He needs to blow off some sort of steam, anyway. Something’s got him all pent up and antsy. If he doesn’t want to act up and make a fool of himself at this party, he’s going to need to, quite literally, crank it out. 

 

This leads Craig down a pornhub rabbithole. It starts with the homepage, and then the first few videos that pop up when he types ‘gay’ into the searchbar, which then turns into ‘gay anal double penetration’ (somewhat horrifying, but Craig’s dick definitely disagrees) which then turns in ‘hentai’ (the cartoons are okay, but the eyes freak Craig out. They look so soulless.) He eventually finds himself in the leather daddy shit, the weird, kinky stuff he only watches late at night, hidden deep under the covers. Like someone could be watching, Craig glances over his shoulders before clicking on the video. 

 

There are things within this subsection of porn that Craig is curious about. Most notably, this bit he’s looking at, this image of a large, muscular man hunched over a small little twink, fucking his ass hard with his hands wrapped around his throat. They both look so blissed out, sound like they’re having the times of their lives. Craig wonders what it would feel like to wrap his hands around someone’s throat, a cute boy who moans all pretty. He likes that the boy in the video is a pretty blonde, trapped under the weight of a handsome, dark haired man. Craig knows he’ll never be the small, pretty type of gay boy. He’s way too tall to be a twink, and his face is too masculine. There’s no semblance of softness in his feature, his voice is too deep and flat to moan like that. But that doesn’t stop his mind from wandering. Instead of being the strong man, the agressive top chasing thrills, he wonders what it would be like to have someone else’s hands around his throat, bent over, taking it hard-

 

“Fuck,” he mutters, brows creased. His hand is sticky, body running with tingles. That did it. After hours of pornography and lazily stroking his dick, that video did him in. Craig sighs, leaning back in his chair with a lazy grin on his face. 

 

He shows up to Token’s house just as the last rays of sun are peaking over the horizon. The front door is heavy and wooden. It opens with a soft creak , like something out of a horror movie, and Craig nearly snorts at the thought. He's seen enough movies to know that wild high school parties are top real estate for crazy ax-murderers, so it wouldn't be too out of the box if he were to get murdered tonight. Oh well. If he's going to be stabbed, it may as well be while he's utterly smashed. At least he'll go out happy that way.

 

Token grins when their eyes meet. He's dressed casually, except not really because his white t-shirt is Gucci and his jeans are seamless and perfectly pressed, probably name brand as well. Those two clothing items alone must have cost over a thousand bucks and Craig thinks it's a massive waste of money. He could get a very similar outfit from Goodwill for not even a fraction of the cost. As a matter of fact, he has gotten a very similar outfit from Goodwill for a grand total of ten dollars -including his shoes- and it's managed to hold up over time just fine. The biggest difference being his jeans have holes in the knees and his white shirt doesn't have the Gucci logo written across the fabric. No, all his shirt has is a suspicious yellow stain near the hem. But, there's comfort in the idea that Token isn't dressed to impress tonight, probably because he knows he's going to be puking before the clock strikes midnight and he doesn't want to stain one of his nice button downs. Craig can respect that and also relate. It's for that same reason that he never dresses up for parties, half the time showing up in sweat pants and an oversized hoodie because he can’t afford to get a puke stain on the clothes he actually likes. That and he doesn't care at all about the socializing aspect of parties. He just wants an excuse to get wrecked without having to worry about his parents catching him drinking alone in his room. 

 

“Hey dude.” Token greets, stepping aside to let Craig in, who pushes past the doorway with a nod of his head and his hands shoved into his front pockets. The living room looks nice, clean and welcoming, the TV turned on to some football game, but the volume down pretty low. The sound system is already set up and a good amount of furniture, aside from a few couches pushed against the walls, has been cleared out, allowing room for people to dance if they so desire. No one else seems to be here. 

 

“Hungry?” Token asks, because he's considerate and because he knows Craig's father doesn't get paid until next week, which means that all they have to eat for now is stale cereal and bologna sandwiches.

 

“Starving.” Craig replies, already halfway to the kitchen. He lucks out when he finds boxes of leftover Chinese food in the fridge, containers full of wonton soup and orange chicken, and is quick to grab a fork and start shoveling it into his mouth. Token watches with a funny look on his face, something mixed between horror and intrigue, before saying,

 

“Uh, you know you can use the microwave... right?” Craig pauses mid chew because, well, yes , he knows he can use the microwave but it didn't exactly cross his mind in the moment and now he's stuck with a mouth full of cold Chinese food and a real stupid look on his face. He swallows carefully and scowls down at the box of orange chicken in his hand.

 

“I like it better cold.” He lies.

 

It's nine pm by the time people actually start showing up, which means Craig's been sitting around in Token's living room, eating potato chips and shooting the shit, for just over an hour. Parties are awkward whenever people first start arriving -at least that's what Craig's discovered in his nearly five years of getting trashed on Friday nights- especially when the first people to show up are the ones he doesn't know all too well. Token never extends invitations to his parties, he doesn't need to, because people arrive through word of mouth. He tells a few people directly, mostly his friends and the other kids they've known since preschool, and then rumors fly and information travels fast, and that's partly what makes Token's parties so epic because by the time ten o'clock has rolled around, over half the school is drinking hard liquor in the living room. But until then, Craig is stuck sitting around a nearly empty mansion with six freshmen girls in all too revealing dresses, as if they're trying to impress someone. One of the girls is giving Craig funny glances from across the room and whispering something to her friends. He can hear their obnoxious giggling and has to roll his eyes. Making fun of him is fine, he doesn't care, but he's a little bothered that they're doing it so blatantly, when he's not even ten feet away.

 

“Hey,” one of the girls says and she's standing right in front of him. Craig lazily draws his gaze away from his phone to give her a bored look. “My friend thinks you're cute.” She gestures to another one of the girls sitting on a couch on the other side of the room, who blushes and awkwardly waves. Craig must look pretty confused, or maybe even a little mean, because when their eyes meet, she shys away from his gaze almost immediately. Part of him is suspicious that this is not legitimate. He wonders if this is their weird way of mocking him. Craig has been described a lot of way, but cute has never been one of them. 

 

“Huh,” he says, turning his focus back to the girl in front of him. “Well. That sucks.” He turns back to his phone, not considering the fact that that was a rather rude way to reject someone, so he doesn't expect the loud and rather annoying gasp that follows.

 

“Excuse me?” She says and when Craig looks back up at her, she looks pretty angry.

 

“I'm gay.” He explains, annoyed that this girl he doesn't even know is still lingering. He sees her stomp off out of the corner of his eye after a moment, huddling together with her friends as a few more people begin to trickle inside. The living room is starting to get more and more full, which is grating on Craig's nerves, who just so happens to be a kind of gigantic human and takes up a lot of space, unlike the absurd amounts of freshmen and sophomores hanging out inside. Jesus , why do fifteen year olds have to be so fucking small ? Craig could step on one of those fuckers if he wasn't careful enough. He finds Token in the kitchen, mixing orange juice and vanilla vodka in a plastic red. Kevin Stoley has cornered him, talking rather animatedly about some fucking nerd shit. Don't get him wrong, Craig likes sci-fi and fantasy as much as the next person, if he had to pick a favorite movie it would probably be Empire Strikes Back , but he doesn't show up to school in pointed elvish ears (Oh, sorry, they're vulcan , his bad) and he doesn't bombard random strangers over the Star Trek movies, or whatever it is Kevin insists on talking about. In short, he's not a total fucking loser, unlike someone.

 

Just when he's contemplating whether or not he should just turn around and head back to the living room, which is now infested with swarms of underclassmen, Kevin spots him. His hair is slicked back with too much gel and there's a nasty grin on his face that Craig fucking hates, as if they're sharing some inside joke, except only Kevin wants to be a part of it. His t-shirt is obnoxiously yellow and even more obnoxiously outdated, with the words “keep calm and live long and prosper” written on it. A silhouette of Spock is printed on the top. Craig is pretty certain Leonard Nimoy would be ashamed. 

 

“Well, well, well,” Kevin starts, sipping something out of his own plastic red cup. Craig thinks it might be water, considering Kevin is way too lame to actually drink. God, he fucking sucks . “What are you doing here, traitor?” Craig rolls his eyes and heads for the fridge to grab a beer. He knows it won't get him buzzed enough to deal with whatever nonsense conversation is about to unfold, but he doesn't feel like it's late enough in the party to get properly drunk. He twists off the top of his beer, realizing that he has yet to address Kevin in the slightest, aside from brief eye contact, and it's starting to get awkward. Well, it's been awkward. Everything about Kevin is awkward.

 

“We’ve been over this, shitlord,” Craig starts, realizing that he's not even going to try to play nice tonight. He just doesn't have the patience. “Star Trek is just a corny, half brewed idea that only gained traction because it made recluse losers feel smart. It’s basically a televised superiority complex.” Sometime his junior year, Craig hate watched the entire series with Token and Clyde. They were, of course, ethereally high and spent the duration of the series shitting all over it. Craig had been particularly enraged by Spock, for some reason. That whole Vulcan bullshit just made his blood boil and Leonard Nimoy’s acting had been questionable at best. Kevin sputters.

 

“Says the Star Wars fag!” He argues, which makes Craig's expression darken. He's used to being called a fag, or a fairy or a queer or a homo or whatever , and he likes to believe he has a pretty thick skin about it. Words are just words and Craig doesn't believe in giving power to slurs. Hell, he calls himself a fag, or he'll use the word to tease his friends. He's so used to it that he should be completely desensitized by this point, but there's something about Kevin Stoley using a slur to both berate him and to try and act buddy-buddy in that weird, socially recluse way he does, that just grates on Craig's nerves. “George Lucas was, like, the king of making recluse losers feel superior.”

 

“Walk the fuck away from me, Kevin.” Craig says, voice low and brows set in a scowl as he takes a sip from his beer. Token, who's been sitting by and watching this interaction go down very quietly, swallows a pretty big gulp of his drink, loudly, as if trying to be noticed. He shoots Craig a look and then directs his gaze back on Kevin, who looks almost afraid, which is funny in a way, both because Craig doesn't like him and because it seems strange for anyone to be afraid of skinny, fumbling, entirely un-intimidating Craig Tucker, for any reason.

 

“Hey, Kevin, how about we go outside?” Token suggests, trying to diffuse the situation. “You can keep telling me about your space ship thing.”

 

“My USS Enterprise model!” Kevin corrects. Token tries offering a grin, but there's a pained look in his eyes that makes Craig want to laugh. He can't keep the snarky smile from tugging up his lips.

 

“Yeah, that. We'll sit by the pool.” Token quickly leads him out of the kitchen and, assumably, into the back yard, leaving Craig by himself, sipping a beer. He's okay with this, just people watching by himself before the real party gets started and he can move on to heavier liquor. Maybe Kenny will be kind enough to pack him a free bowl and he'll be able to do a few bong rips to get properly crossfaded. Hell, get him drunk enough, and maybe Craig can be coerced into snorting a line. The last time that happened, he slid across Token's hardwood floors in his socks and ended up face planting against a wall. As he had pulled away, a line of blood had dripped from his nose. When Jimmy asked him why the fuck he'd done that, Craig had just said,

 

“I was ice skating.” To which his friends promptly made fun of him for the rest of the night. Yeah, getting that level of fucked up sounds great.

 

Craig isn't sure how long he stands there, observing, but apparently it's long enough for Clyde to arrive, presumably with Bebe and Jimmy in tow. It's pretty obvious when this happens because Clyde is notorious for being loud and obnoxious upon entering Token's house (and also just in general) and tonight's no different. With heavy footfalls and loud laughter, he stumbles into the kitchen, already half-drunk and flushed red. Bebe has her arm hooked around his waist, steadying him, even though he's not actually drunk enough to fall quite yet. She appears to be sober and dressed to the nines, which is to be expected, in a tight red dress and tall, stiletto heels. She's a little bit taller than Clyde in those shoes, who's habitually short and stout like a teapot, and her hair is falling around her shoulders in a curtain of golden curls. The smile she shoots in Craig's direction is bright and infectious, making him grin and nod in return.

 

“Hi Craig.” She greets. 

 

“Hey dude!” Clyde says, wiggling out of his girlfriend's grasp to throw an arm around Craig's shoulders, squeezing a little too tight. He lets go just as quickly, however, and turns to grab a beer of his own from the fridge.

 

“Baby, maybe you should slow down.” Bebe suggests, although the smile on her face is sweet and adoring, so Craig is skeptical over how serious she's being. He doesn't think she has much room to talk, anyway. She may not be drinking at the moment, but she certainly will be and that is always a spectacle. Craig remembers back in June, at Red's end of the year party, Bebe got so drunk off of fruity schnapps that she spent half the party with her shirt off and attempted to use a broken shower rod as a stripper pole. Where she got the shower rod, Craig has no idea, but the pinnacle of the night was when she did too many spins and ended up puking all over the carpet. Although Craig can’t be entirely sure, he suspects that was the night she and Clyde started hooking up. For no other reason than they were attached at the hip not even a week later. 

 

“Nah,” Clyde says after chugging down half the bottle in one go. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and the grin on his face is large and goofy. He belches, making Bebe scrunch up her face in disgust. “It's a party, let's let loose.” He turns to Craig, holding out his bottle expectantly. When all he gets in return is a blank look, he sighs and says “Fucking cheers me, dude.” Craig obliges, tapping his bottle to Clyde's before chugging the rest down. He instantly feels a rush of lightheadedness, but it passes just as quickly and he's back to sober square one. Bebe rolls her eyes, still smiling, and walks over to the various arrays of liquor, mixing a concoction of something into a wine glass and swirling it around just for the sake of dramatics.

 

“I'm gonna go find Annie.” She says, resting her hand on Clyde's bicep. He responds with an awkward mm-hm, mouth full of liquid, and when he swallows, Bebe kisses his lips quickly before turning to go. The boys end up leaving the kitchen as well, on a search for Jimmy, who Clyde, apparently, managed to lose in the ten minutes he's been at Token's house. The place is finally starting to see a pretty good sized crowd and it no longer only consists of underclassmen. Craig spots Red across the living room and contemplates saying hello to her, but ultimately decides against it. She's talking to some girl on the couch and the two of them are getting pretty close, giggling like dumb teenagers. Craig doesn't recognize the other girl. He wonders if she even goes to Park County High School. It’s not uncommon for randos to make appearances at Token’s parties -word spreads quickly in small towns. 

 

“I can’t believe you turned my cousin into a lesbian.” Craig says, making Clyde sputter, hand to his chest like an offended mother. 

 

“I didn’t turn Red gay!” He argues. “She always liked pussy, this lesbo shit she’s doing isn’t my fault.” Craig rolls his eyes. 

 

“Yeah, that’s why she exclusively dated boys until you came along.” He says. Clyde pouts like a baby, which makes Craig consider punching him in the fucking face. “Your dick is like pesticide, it kills heterosexuality.” 

 

“God fucking dammit.” Clyde mutters. “Give a guy a break! You turn a girl gay one time and suddenly your dick is poison.” 

 

They end up finding Jimmy in the basement, surrounded by stoner kids Craig doesn’t recognize. He’s sandwiched between two girls, a blonde girl with a septum ring and dreadlocks, and a petite redhead nursing a bong in her lap. He has his arms around both of them, eyes bloodshot and glazed over. 

 

“There you are, dude!” Clyde says, waving at Jimmy from the base of the stairs. Craig nods in his direction. Jimmy grins back, offering them a wave. Clyde happily bounds over to him, taking the joint from Jimmy's hand when offered. He hogs it, which Craig finds pretty selfish. Everyone knows the puff puff pass rule, it’s basic stoner etiquette. Eventually, once he’s managed to smoke through half the fucking thing, Clyde passes it to Craig. He accepts, happily, taking a long, deep inhale that travels through his lungs like a virus. He coughs, which is embarrassing, rubbing vigorously at his sternum until he can quell his breathing. Clyde laughs at him, clapping him on the back, body swaying a bit. The rough force of Clyde’s hand makes him stumble, and he shoots him a glare. 

 

“Atta boy!” Clyde shouts. “You kill them fucking lungs!” Craig flips him off, feeling his face flush red. His eyes feel itchy and bleary, and his lungs hurt worse than when he chain smokes a pack of cigarettes. Weed is awesome, Craig thinks, but it also absolutely sucks. 

 

“I’m gonna go get a drink.” He mumbles, turning on his heel and trudging back up the stairs. How the fuck one hit has him feeling so faded, Craig has no clue, but now he needs some liquid courage to balance it out. 

 

He inevitably decides to ditch Clyde and Jimmy for now, and go hunt down Token. He might still be by the pool with Kevin Stoley, though, so if that's the case, he'll try to find Kenny amongst the chaos, for no other reason than to bum a cigarette. Jesus, Craig really needs more friends if this is all he's got. Maybe he'd have more fun if he were drunk, but he doesn't want to drink alone. Surely Token must be pretty tipsy right now, having been forced into holding a conversation with Kevin fucking Stoley .

 

He has to pass through the kitchen, anyway, to get to the backyard, so it's no trouble to make himself a drink. He doesn't grab another beer because they're not strong enough, so that means he's stuck mixing his own cocktail in a red solo cup next to the couple loudly and rather lewdly making out against the counter. It's kind of amazing that it's barely passed ten o'clock and they've already reached that point in the night. Craig chugs the drink he just made, cherry schnapps mixed with margarita mix and lime, before slamming his cup down and making another. This drink he's willing to sip at, considering that last one had a few shots worth of schnapps and he drank it all in one go. He's not fuzzy quite yet, but he feels warm and a little happy, which is a start, so he makes his way outside.

 

The air is chilly, having just breached September. There aren't as many kids outside as there are in, but it's still a pretty good amount of people smoking cigarettes or dipping their feet in the pool. Token isn't in sight. Craig presses his lips together and turns to go back inside. He's getting kind of annoyed, which really sucks because he was hoping to have a good amount of fun tonight, and wonders if maybe he should sit in the stoner circle with Clyde and Jimmy and take a nap on the couch. He's done it before, but usually that was at rather boring parties where the most wild thing that happened was a quick game of seven minutes in heaven. There's not much fun in missing out on the most wild party of the year all because his friends are a little preoccupied at the moment, and Craig really isn't particularly wild when he's stoned. 

 

He's quickly pulled out of his thoughts when someone's shoulder brushes past him, aggressively. This isn’t anything Craig’s not used to dealing with, but the added liquid courage in his system has him considering throwing the rest of his drink in the perpetrator’s face. He's not surprised to be greeted with the face of Eric Cartman, barreling through crowds of people and yelling for them to get out his way.

 

“Move, you fucking asshole!” Cartman yells. Kenny and Butters Stotch are traveling behind him. They all look a little off, like they’re extra alert. Kenny’s eyes are wide. Butters has a massive grin spread across his face.

 

Craig sours, clutching his drink a little tighter in his hand. Temptation to dump it over Cartman’s head runs strong in his veins, but he refrains, instead choosing to take a step back and glare daggers in Cartman's direction. 

 

“Hiya, Craig!” Butters says, his voice too loud. “I’m supposed to be grounded, but Kenny snuck me out! Aren’t you having fun?” He looks like a child ready to jump out of his seat. Craig regards him awkwardly, unsure of what to do with himself. 

 

“Butters! Stop talking to the fucking fruity boy, let’s go.” Cartman calls. Craig rolls his eyes. He could give more of a shit about Cartman calling him homophobic bullshit if Cartman didn’t call everyone homophobic bullshit. Kenny offers him a mischievous grin, running a finger under his nose and sniffing loudly. He shoves his hands back into his pockets, not uttering a word. 

 

Oh. Okay, yeah. That does explain why all three of them look so weird. Craig stares at Cartman with hesitation, then back to Butters. The three of them are already walking away, backs turned to Craig as they carry on about their business. Butters will pose no threat, he never does, and Kenny does this every other day, but a coked out Cartman is a lot more questionable. When Cartman gets high at parties, that’s usually when the violence begins. Out of anxiety-induced self preservation, Craig tries to get as far away from those three as he possibly can. Cartman already seems pretty riled up. The last thing Craig needs is to be in his line of fire. 

 

While he’s outside, Craig decides to light a cigarette. The mixture of the nicotine and his high and his buzz is doing wonders on his brain, relaxing his body. He’s not sure how long he’s been here, but it’s been far too long without something exciting happening. He wishes he knew where Token was, or that Clyde and Jimmy weren’t sitting around the basement getting stoned. He wishes Tweek were here. 

 

Across the green stands Stan Marsh, throwing a football back and forth with Kyle Broflovski. They’re talking about something, the low drone of their voices carrying through the night air, but Craig can’t make out what. He assumes it’s pretty grim. The expression on Stan’s face is sullen, a sadness that’s been primed with anger, which is odd. Craig likes to avoid Stan like the plague at parties, but they always seem to show up to the same ones. Usually, the smile on his face never drops and he’s always holding a drink. There are only two places Craig can think of where Stan seems happy, and that’s parties and the football field. 

 

Stan’s wearing a white t-shirt and a pair of blue jeans. He has red sneakers on his feet and a dark brown sweatshirt tied around his waist. The sleeves of his t-shirt are tight, pulled taunt against the bulges of his muscles. It flatters the barrel of his chest, making him look squared off and strong, like he could knock the fucking wind out of Craig. Even from the distance and against the dark, Craig knows his eyes are shockingly blue, the kind of electric hue that Craig could only dream of. He glares in Stan’s direction, as if either of them are paying him any mind. Stan really lucked out in the looks lottery, Craig thinks, bitterly. Which is totally unfair. There’s not a single person Craig can think of that deserves those good looks less. Once he’s finished his cigarette, Craig turns and heads back into the kitchen.  

 

He finds Red upon pushing past the sliding glass door, standing off to the side and nursing a can of beer. For once, she’s not surrounded by a haggle of girls, whether that be Bebe and Annie and Wendy Testaburger, or little closted dykes interested in getting inside her pants. Craig approaches her, relieved to see someone he can casually shoot the shit with. She's wearing baggy sweatpants and her hair is tied up in a messy bun. The only makeup on her face is a bit of smeared mascara and maybe, possibly eyebrow powder. 

She looks Craig up and down when he moves to stand next to her, eyes glazed with boredom. She has the Tucker family curse of resting bitch face paired with a bored, flat voice. 

 

“Hey.” Craig says. Red regards him briefly, one brow slightly quirked. She leans her back up against the wall, shoving one hand in the pocket of her sweatpants and using the other to lift the can of beer to her lips. It’s Pabst Blue Ribbon, which shouldn’t even be possible. Token certainly does not stock up on beer made specifically for white trash, meaning that she probably brought her own. She burps, loudly, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. She drops the now empty beer can to the floor, crushing it beneath her shoe. 

 

“You look lonely.” She says. “Your friends ditch you or something?” 

 

“No.” Craig answers. “I ditched them. This party is kind of lame.” 

 

Red hums, her eyes scanning the crowd absentmindedly. From the pocket of her sweat pants, she pulls out another can of beer. “Kinda.” She agrees. “I’m mostly still here for the girls and the drama.” 

 

“The… what?” Craig asks. Red doesn’t answer right away, taking a drawn out sip of her beer instead. She’s staring down at her phone. 

 

“Something about Stan and Wendy.” She says. “I think they broke up again, but I dunno.” 

 

Craig snorts. Stan and Wendy have had some on again, off again thing going on for forever. In terms of overly dramatic breakups, they’re right up at cheesy tabloid status. Craig doesn’t talk to Wendy a lot. Outside of the years of schooling they’ve been forced into together, they’re practically strangers, but he knows for a fact that she’s not the dramatic type. Her blow ups with Stan, as far as Craig is concerned, always happen behind closed doors. People start finding things out when Stan gets pissy, walking through the halls of their high school like he’s gunning for violence, ticking away like a time bomb. Sometimes he smells like beer, faintly under his breath. They’re always back together within the week, like nothing ever happened. 

 

“Shocking.” Craig says, rolling his eyes. Red cracks a grin. 

 

“Right?” She says, sarcastically. She sighs, pushing herself off the wall. “I should go check on my crying friend, or whatever.” She makes a motion like she’s hanging herself with a noose, crossing her eyes and sticking her tongue out of her mouth. “This is why no one should date men.” 

 

“All of us, or just the ones that act like dicks?” Craig asks. Red fixes him with a flat stare. 

 

“You all act like dicks.” She retorts. Craig purses his lips. He can’t really argue with that. 

 

Craig is not nearly as drunk as he wants to be, but for some godforsaken reason, he feels weird about drinking alone. Parties really aren't all too fun if he's not in the presence of his friends, or punch-drunk off his ass and witnessing some wild shit going down, but so far, neither of those things are happening. It's too early in the night for people to be getting sloppy, or for vases to break or makeshift stripper poles to come out, which means if he got wasted right this second, he would most certainly make a fool of himself, in a very memorable way. And, well, that just would not do. For a moment, a very brief lapse in judgement, he considers calling Tweek and bailing to go hang out with that weird fucker. Getting high and watching shitty cartoons sounds pretty nice right now. It might be awkward in the morning, assuming he'd crash at Tweek's house and wake up sober and groggy, but that would be a problem for morning Craig. Current Craig doesn't need to think about his problems right now. But, ultimately, he decides against it, figuring that Tweek is in bed already, or building towers with his strange and copious collection of fidget spinners, or whatever the fuck it is that kid gets up to in his free time, so Craig figures he should leave it alone. Plus, if something especially crazy does happen tonight, he doesn't want to miss it all because he was too busy smoking weed with the town spazz.

 

So, instead, he heads back down to the basement, not at all surprised to find Clyde and Jimmy still there, taking bong rips with the stoner kids. In Clyde’s lap sits a massive bottle of Grey Goose, which he’s taking swigs from at every opportunity he can get. He looks pretty gone. Jimmy is making out with the blonde girl in dreadlocks, a spectacle that Craig finds near repulsive, but Clyde is watching intently. 

 

“Dude,” Clyde says when he notices Craig approaching. “Is it gay that this is making me kinda horny?” Craig is, as usual, a bit stupefied over how fucking retarded his best friend is. Before he can even open his mouth to answer, Jimmy pulls away from the girl.

 

“A-a-abso-abso,” he takes a deep breath and clears his throat to try again. “Definitely.”

 

“Nuh-uh!” Clyde protests, trying to jump up from his spot, but only managing to stumble forward and nearly fall flat on his face. “I was asking Craig, he's the gay expert.” Craig wants to die, or disappear, or something to make him as far away from here as possible.

 

“I'm cutting you off.” He says, instead of addressing Clyde's statement. He tries to reach for the bottle of vodka, but Clyde scampers away from him, whining loudly in protest. Craig sighs, mostly because he's annoyed that he's not that level of fucked up yet and he's a little envious. Clyde takes a hearty swig from the bottle before setting it aside, just out of arms reach. 

 

“There, all yours!” He says, a goofy grin splayed across his face. He’s slurring, eyes half lidded. “Where's Bebe?” He asks, suddenly, searching around the room. He scrambles to his feet, nearly stumbling face first into the carpet and goes to bolt up the stairs.

 

“Where the fuck are you going?” Craig shouts after him, standing himself. He doesn't realize how tipsy he actually is until he feels a rush of dizziness follow him, making him stumble a little and grip the arm of the couch for balance. There's no way he's ever going to catch up to that slippery fuck like this.

 

“I'm gonna get pussy .” Clyde shouts back. Craig decides that it's not worth chasing after him, and instead falls backwards onto the couch, letting his knees hang over the edge because he's far too tall to actually fit the entirety of his body on a miniature little loveseat. The vodka bottle, thank God, is within close proximity and Craig reaches down for it, his arm hanging limply off the side of the couch. He manages to squeeze his fingers around the neck of it and lug the stupid thing up to his lips, tipping the glass back until a rush of alcohol is spilling down his throat

 

“I love vodka.” He mutters sarcastically to no one in particular, trying his best not to cough and sputter at what tastes exactly like gasoline. His throat burns like a son of a bitch and he can almost feel that sensation crawling up to his eyes. The base of the bottle is resting against his chest, Craig's hand wrapped loosely around the neck to keep it steady. He'd probably die of embarrassment if it tipped too far one way or the other and managed to splash himself with a tsunami of alcohol, whether it be on his face or all over the front of his jeans. He continues to drink until he can no longer focus his vision on anything in particular and the pungent smell of marijuana no longer assaults his senses. Finally, he places the bottle back on the floor and attempts to swing his legs over the side of the couch. He somehow manages to overshoot his momentum and fall off the edge, his lanky body rolling across the carpet. A couple of giggles are heard echoing across the room, but to Craig they're a million miles away. He feels a new surge of confidence, which tends to happen when he's drunk enough, and all of a sudden being without his friends doesn't feel so weird. There's a massive ruckus going on upstairs, the kind that involves the sounds of teenagers screaming and chanting and Craig wonders who's fighting, or if there's a fight at all. He can't imagine what else it would be, if not a fight, but he's also not sure who could be throwing punches so early in the night. Is it still early in the night? Or has time slipped by without him noticing? Well, whatever. Ultimately, it doesn't matter because someone is fighting upstairs and Craig is so fucking ready to watch their face get pummeled into the ground. Are kids taking bets? He hopes so, he always wins whenever people bet on fights.

 

In an attempt to rush up the stairs, Craig manages to lose his balance a bit. He grips the handrail for support, leaning on it more than he remembers usually having to, but doesn't slow down. He has to see what's going on, has to know who's getting the shit kicked out of them, regardless of the reason, and takes the steps two at a time, a bit prideful at his lack of tripping once he reaches the top. All the commotion is coming from the living room where hoards of drunk teenagers are crowded around something that Craig can't quite see. He pushes his way past a few kids, who shoot him dirty looks that he ignores, until finally, finally, he can make out what's going on. It is a fight, no surprise there, involving none other than Eric Cartman, hunched over a significantly smaller figure and pulling his fist back, gearing up for another hit. Craig sees a pair of familiar red sneakers decorated in bad sharpie doodles and caked on mud. Without thinking, he opens his mouth and shouts,

 

“Kick his ass , Kevin!” They lock eyes, something sparking behind Stoley's, and Craig watches in utter delight as his leg flies upward, landing a pretty hard kick right to Cartman's groin. Craig whoops loudly, grinning like an idiot when he finds he's not the only one to be cheering, and watches as Cartman stumbles backward, hands suddenly cupping his junk as his face twists in pain. He grunts like a pig, which Craig finds amusing for a whole variety of reasons, before a wave of utter rage washes over his face. He's sweating pretty badly along his forehead and under his arms, which makes Craig believe that this is the most exercise Cartman's gotten in months. He charges toward Kevin, who looks like a deer caught in headlights, and tackles him to the ground, back landing against the carpet with a sickening thud. Briefly, Craig wonders where Token is and why he's not bothering to break this up. Surely he would if he saw it, wouldn't he? It always seems like he's the person who's ending the fights. He supposes it doesn't matter. He thinks fights are one of the main events of parties and wishes he had popcorn or something. Then it would be dinner and a show.

 

He spots Red across the room, her arm around a blonde girl in a short, yellow dress, who's clinging on to her for dear life. She's awfully small and looks kind of afraid, her eyes blown wide with concern, which makes Craig think that she must be pretty young. He finds this somewhat concerning. Red is a senior this year and that girl couldn't be any older than fourteen. Oh well, she must have been the best Red could do tonight. It's not really any of Craig's business who his cousin does or doesn't decide to fuck. His mind wanders to Clyde, who's nowhere in sight and must be upstairs with Bebe, doing God knows what, and he feels kind of sorry for that poor fuck. Craig's never had sex, but he can't imagine it's better than watching a couple of drunk assholes deck each other in the face.

 

The fight ends all too quickly, with Kevin flat on his back and bleeding out of his nose, a nasty bruise starting to form on his cheek, and Cartman wheezing like an asthmatic goat, sweating profusely just about everywhere. However, he looks pretty unharmed, a fact that disappoints Craig just a little bit. He was kind of hoping that fat asshole would get what's coming to him. Still, he supposes that Kevin Stoley is not the person to do it, considering everything about him. Craig's mind flashes to Stan in gym class, doing pull ups in the weights room with his shirt off, or maybe it was push-ups, Craig doesn't quite remember the difference right now, and he thinks about the way his muscles pulled tight and rippled along his back, how his biceps bulged. Now that's someone who could take on Cartman if he so desired. Stan would never. He’s all talk when it comes to physical violence, his main method of confrontation being vague threats and passive-aggression. Still, Craig can dream. Not because he wants to think about Stan, sweaty and shirtless and muscled, but because he wants to see Cartman pummeled into the ground. Yeah. That's... that's all it is. It's not that he likes thinking about Stan's arms, hardened with rippling muscle, or the defined tone to his stomach, the faint lines of his abs, how his shoulders are broad and strong, how his hands would fit so well wrapped around the circumference of Craig’s throat-

 

Jesus, has this room always been so fucking hot ? Even with the crowd dispersing, Craig feels like he's suffocating and he has to get away from it as soon as possible. He pushes past people in a rush toward the kitchen, shouldering underclassmen out of his way and getting annoyed looks in return. He needs a cold drink and a break from the crowd, suddenly too dizzy to properly focus. The kitchen is mostly deserted, aside from Cartman, who's chugging down a beer with one hand and attempting to fan himself off with another, and a few kids coming and going for more drinks. Craig ends up pouring himself a glass of water, needing something not alcoholic for once, and slumps against the edge of the counter. He drinks down half the glass in one go. He's breathing pretty hard, he notices. The cold water isn't doing a whole lot to calm the heat in his face, but it is soothing his burning throat. Craig hangs around in the kitchen for a while, watching people come and go with wide eyes. He wonders if he looks as flushed as he feels or if it's all in his head to begin with. Stupid Stan Marsh, fucking around with his thoughts and forcing him to embarrass himself at a goddamn party. He ought to kick Stan's ass for pulling that sort of stunt. Cartman brushes past him without a second glance, leaving Craig alone in the kitchen. 

 

“Jesus fucking Christ, dude!” Sounds off the annoying voice of Kyle Broflovski, who is, for lack of a better term, an uppity prick. Craig has had a particular disdain for him since they shared the same physics class junior year and were forced to sit next to each other. For the most part, Kyle did a decent job of minding his own business, but there were those few times when he would glance over at Craig's homework and attempt to correct him that just seemed to get under Craig's skin. Sure, it was a year ago, but he sincerely doubts that Kyle has gotten to be any less of a nosey little teacher's pet. Especially considering that Craig once heard him admit that he “doesn't mind” studying. Fucking loser. He watches as Kyle stumbles into the kitchen, supporting Stan under his arm, with a rather frustrated look on his face. He doesn't appear to be very drunk, his eyes as alert and sharp as always, but there's a slight flush in his cheeks that hints at the fact that he's been drink ing. Stan, on the other hand, is stumbling around like the plastered idiot he is, barely able to hold himself up right. He has a pretty wide grin on his face, which is an interesting contrast to Kyle's scowl. 

 

“Oh,” Kyle says when he finally notices that Craig is in the room as well. “It's you.” His voice is flat and unamused, as if he wishes it were anyone else. That makes two of us , Craig thinks bitterly as he takes a long sip of his water. He watches as Kyle sits Stan down at the kitchen table, blowing a bright red curl out of his face in annoyance.

 

“Come one, dude, I'm fine. Lemme fuckin', uh,” Stan pauses, hiccups, and tries again. “Lemme get another drink.”

 

“No.” Kyle says sternly, and Craig rolls his eyes. If he were in Stan’s position, he’d be throwing a fit. He can’t comprehend why Kyle is being such a killjoy. It’s a party , for God’s sake. “You need to give it a rest. I'll get you a glass of water.”

 

Lame ,” Stan whines. “I’m fine, dude. Get me some whiskey instead.” Kyle doesn’t respond, instead walking toward the fridge. Craig moves out of the way as he grabs a plastic cup and a beer bottle, popping the top off the beer and taking a slow sip before filling the cup with ice water. “Hey, no fair, how come you get to drink?” Stan complains. His whining reminds Craig too much of Clyde when he drinks. 

 

“Because I'm not a mess.” Kyle says dryly, carefully placing the cup of water in front of him. Stan looks like he wants to be hurt, but he's way too happy to manage it, so his grin cracks through his pouty facade. When Kyle turns away, Stan’s arm swings out, landing a hefty smack to his lower back. The force makes Kyle jump, pivoting on his heel in a flash and meeting Stan with fiery eyes. 

 

“What the fuck?” Kyle says, voice bordering into shrill territory. 

 

“Sorry.” Stan says. He’s still grinning like an idiot. “I didn’t mean to —sorry. I’m sorry.” Kyle’s poster relaxes, shoulders slumping and the fire behind his eyes fizzling out. 

 

“Whatever.” He says. “Don’t do that again. You don’t know your own strength.” 

 

“Hey Craig!” Stan says, turning his attention away from Kyle and directing it across the kitchen. He's waving obnoxiously, grinning like an idiot, like they’re fucking friends or something. Craig sneers. 

 

“Well,” Craig says, gaze directed toward Kyle. “He's a mess.” He takes a slow sip of his water and watches as Kyle huffs and shakes his head.

 

“I know.” Kyle says, sounding defeated. The kitchen is almost entirely deserted by now, aside from the three of them, and the only things that can be heard are the sounds of muffled party going on around them. There's a loud crash and the distinct sound of Kenny's voice yelling “oh shit!” and it makes Kyle whirl around almost comically fast, eyes blown wide. “Jesus, dude,” he says, sounding annoyed. “I should probably go check on that.” He sighs dejectedly and rolls his eyes so hard that Craig wonders if they'll roll out of his skull. The mental image is reasonably humorous, enough so to make him grin a little. “Hold down the fort for me?” Kyle says, turning his pleading eyes on Craig, who feels pretty awkward under that kind of attention. “Make sure nothing happens.”

 

“Like what?” Craig asks.

 

“Like-” Kyle is cut off by Stan's hand smacking his cup of water across the table like a barbarian and spilling its contents all over the floor.

 

“Whoops.” He says and Kyle squeezes his eyes shut in frustration.

 

“Like that.” His voice is flat and he takes a long, deep breath, exhaling slowly. He gulps down half his beer in one go before slamming the bottle on the counter. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and sighs heavily. “I’m trusting you, dude. I’m fucking serious.” His gaze is so intense that Craig isn’t sure what to do aside from nod.

 

“Uh, okay.” He says. Kyle’s eyes are starting to make him squirm. 

 

“Okay.” He says. He finishes the rest of his beer, offering Craig and Stan a two finger salute and a “don’t die on me, fuckers,” before turning on his heel and rushing off in Kenny's direction. Craig hears him yell “Oh, you fucking idiot!” once he's out of sight.

 

He turns his attention back to Stan. It's pretty awkward being in a room alone with him. Craig has no idea what to say to break the heavy silence as he watches Stan lean back in his chair, trying to balance only on the back legs. Part of Craig hopes he falls. 

 

“Having fun?” Stan asks, in what Craig assumes is, an attempt to break the awkward silence. He rolls his eyes. 

 

“Nope.” He says. “I was thinking about killing myself, actually, but now you’ve graced me with your fucking presence. So.” He stares at Stan, brows set low, and Stan stares back. He looks kind of dumbfounded and confused. Stupid jock is a good look on him. 

 

“Uh, okay.” He says. He starts tapping his fingers against the table, like he’s trying to think of what else to say. “You probably shouldn’t, like, joke about suicide. Or whatever.” 

 

Craig sneers. Don’t fucking tell me what to do , he thinks. The audacity of this prick, honestly. “Blow me.” He says, which makes Stan’s face set in a scowl. “And who said anything about a joke.” 

 

“Dude, can you stop being a dick for, like, four seconds?” Stan asks, leaning forward just enough for the front legs of his chair to touch back down to the ground. Craig raises his eyebrows in surprise. “I’m just trying to fucking, uh,” Stan pauses to hiccup. “Make conversation.” 

 

Dude , fuck off.” Craig shoots back, suddenly sounding nasty, even for his own liking. “In case you couldn’t tell, I don’t give a fuck about making conversation . I don’t wanna be your friend. I’m only here because your fucking boyfriend asked me to babysit you.”

 

“Excuse me?” Stan asks, face morphing into something angry and dangerous. His voice is stony and harsh, body tensed. “What the fuck did you just call Kyle?” Stan isn’t standing, but there's so much power in just the broadness of his shoulders and the lines of his frown that he may as well be towering eight feet tall. Craig shrinks in on himself, suddenly intimidated. Stan goofy and fumbling and drunk is not a threat, but Craig may have pushed him into scary territory. God , he's strong. He could probably kick Craig's ass right now if he wanted to, even if he's too wasted to stand without help. On his worst day, Stan could still break Craig in half. 

 

Craig opens his mouth, but he's not sure what to say. Something in Stan’s eyes is making him incredibly nervous. He’s not good at diffusing tense situations, but he also isn’t in the market to end the night with any broken bones. 

 

“Calm down, it was a joke.” He says with a shrug, hoping to all hell that it comes off as casual and nonchalant. He’s worried that he may have spoken a little too quickly. 

 

“You have a shit sense of humor.” Stan spits. His body has relaxed, but his face is still scrunched in anger. 

 

Craig wants to say something back to that, but he’s suddenly feeling anxious. Stan’s anger feels explosive, radiating off of him in waves. Craig would rather not be on the receiving end of it. He glances toward the doorway contemplating making a run for it. He's tipsy and he's scared, trapped alone in a room with a strong, angry boy that could easily snap him in two if he so desired. 

 

His escape plan is foiled about as quickly as it’s formed. He doesn’t make it two feet before Stan is up, his chair scratching unpleasantly against the tile, and his hand is clamped firmly around Craig's wrist, keeping him in place. Even swaying and inebriated, he’s too strong. 

 

“Where are you going?” He asks. “Don’t you wanna stay and chat?” Craig feels heat rise to his cheeks. Oh, God , he thinks. His voice is so deep . He tries to wiggle free from Stan’s grasp, but it’s no use. 

 

“Let the fuck go of me.” He spits. Stan grins, pushing Craig backwards, making his stumble into the counter. Stan cages him there, both hands planted firmly on the counter and body pressed so close it’s intimidating. Craigs breath hitches. 

 

“Or what?” He asks, voice low and smile mean. Craig feels his heart drop. There's nowhere to go from here, Craig realizes, swallowing thickly. He can't escape. His knees tremble, shoulders tense, eyes blown wide. The heat in his face flares.

 

“Or I’ll kick your ass.” Craig says, trying to sound a lot more confident than he feels. 

 

Stan laughs, which makes Craig feel pretty stupid. He moves his hands from the countertop to grab Craig’s waist, grip tight and bruising and unforgiving. Craig squeaks and it’s embarrassing. He’s shaking like a fucking leaf and he’s sure Stan can tell. He’s taunting him (that dick ) waving it in Craig’s face that he’s bigger and he’s stronger and there’s nothing weak, skinny Craig Tucker can do about it. He tries not to let his fear show through on his face. 

 

“Oh, you will ?” He asks, grinning like it’s the most amusing thing he’s heard in a while. His grip around Craig’s hips tightens. “C’mon, then, do your worst.” 

 

Craig grunts, jaw trembling. His eyes dart to the doorway, trying to figure out an escape route. It’s pointless; Stan has him cornered. 

 

 “Let go of me.” He says. He hopes it doesn’t sound like he’s begging.

 

“No,” Stan says. “Either apologize or kick my ass, if you think you can.” He looks Craig up and down, as if sizing him up. The grin on his face makes Craig squirm uncomfortably, like he’s delighted in the knowledge that he holds the upper hand. If Craig were a hundred pounds heavier, he would beat Stan into the ground. Unfortunately, he isn’t, and he can’t, which only makes the tremors running through his body quake worse. 

 

“What do you want me to apologize for, Stan? Implying that you might be gay?” Craig asks. Stan just stares at him, making Craig scoff. “You’re such a fucking prick.” He pushes at his chest, trying to make him back the fuck off. Stan sways a bit, probably because he’s fucking drunk, but his hold on Craig only tightens. It makes Craig want to sob with panic.

 

“Oh, look at me!” Craig blurts, pitching his voice in a crude imitation of Stan’s as anxiety starts to swallow him alive. “My name’s Stan! I’m so straight, I have to rub my heterosexuality in that fairy Craig Tucker’s fucking face.” He pauses, eyes flicking over Stan’s form, broad and strong and hardened with firm muscle, and contemplating his predicament. “And I’ll make him fear for his fucking life while I’m at it.” 

 

Something in the embarrassing admission makes Stan’s demeanor change. His expression softens, lips slightly parted and brows raised, like it had simply not occurred to him that cornering someone and acting aggressive would be intimidating. His hold on Craig loosens, but he refrains from removing his hands entirely. The tonal shift makes a tenseness release in Craig’s shoulder. 

 

“Wha- no, I wouldn’t,” Stan stops, brows furrowed. He stares at Craig like he’s trying to fit together a puzzle. The corner of his lips tugs up into a lopsided grin. The sight of it makes Craig’s heart race, the fear picking back up in his chest. There’s nothing laced in that smile that he trusts. “You think I’d be capable of killing you?” Stan asks. 

 

Craig averts his eyes, staring into the abyss of the kitchen floor. He feels dizzy suddenly, like he might throw up if he doesn’t control himself. He shrugs awkwardly. Stan chuckles, looping his arm around Craig’s waist and pulling their bodies taunt. It makes Craig gasp, stumbling with the force of Stan’s strength. It’s so sudden that he wouldn’t have had time to struggle if he wanted to. 

 

He’s a few inches taller than Stan, which becomes apparent the second they’re near nose to nose. When Stan has to tilt his chin up to look Craig in the eyes, a look of bewilderment written across his face, Craig can’t help the bubble of pride that swells in his chest. 

 

“Are you scared of me?” Stan asks. Duh , Craig thinks. Like, fuck, obviously. Taller or not, there isn’t a universe where Craig could ever over power Stan. The added bonus of drunken aggression only leads to a more precarious scenario. 

 

“No.” Craig says, but it’s weak and murmured and he’s certain his cheeks are flushed with alcohol and humiliation. His response only makes that stupid fucking grin on Stan’s face grow. 

 

“Yeah you are.” He says. Craig scowls. “Like, in a cool way?” 

 

“What?” He asks. 

 

“Do you think I’m scary, but in a cool way?” Stan asks again. Craig stares at him, brows furrowed. 

 

“I don’t know what the fuck that means.” He says. Stan sighs, rolling his eyes like Craig’s the moron here. 

 

“Like,” he starts, running a hand up the back of Craig’s neck, fingers tangling into his hair. He uses his extra leverage to force Craig’s head down, the tips of their noses brushing together. When he speaks again, his voice is low and husky, deep with something sinister. “Do you want me to really scare you?”

 

Craig’s brain short circuits. Stan’s words and tone hit Craig over the head like an aggressive seven year old playing Whack-a-mole. His breath hitches, chest constricting as his body threatens to hyperventilate. He has to avert his eyes, choosing instead to stare at his shoelaces. His skin feels like it’s on fire, heart pumping erratically, hands threatening to shake. Miraculously, the kitchen is still deserted, leaving Craig completely and utterly at Stan’s mercy. A shiver runs down his spine at the thought. 

 

“Stan,” He manages to struggle out, wishing that his voice could hold any heat. Instead, he sounds broken and pathetic. Stan stares into Craig's eyes, full lips slightly parted. “Back away from me right fucking now.”

 

Stan does not, in fact, back the fuck away from him. Instead, his fingers tighten in Craig’s hair, making him gasp embarrassingly in surprise, and his stupid grin only grows. “Or what?” He challenges. 

 

Craig cringes at the feeling of Stan’s hand tightening around his waist. He would be squirming if he could, but Stan’s grip is too tight to allow room for struggle. His arms are trapped to his sides, held there by a strong arm chorded with bulging muscle, and there’s a firm grip on his hair. If Craig were the pathetic type, he would cry. The problem is, aggressive men typically don’t respect cryers. Or they like them too much. Craig would be willing to put money on Stan being the latter. Or what. The words ring in Craig’s head like the mantra to a curse. Or what? Or nothing. Craig is well aware that there’s nothing he can do to force Stan away from him. He’s terrifyingly trapped. 

 

“Get the fuck away from me.” Craig repeats, trying to keep his tone stern. There’s nothing intimidating about him to Stan, though, because the only reaction his words cause is sparking an amused glint in Stan’s eyes. 

 

“You’re blushing.” He says. 

 

“No shit, I’ve been drinking.” Craig fires back. Stan’s hand untangles from his hair, opting instead to brush his fingertips over Craig’s cheekbone, thumb stroking sweetly at his flushed skin. It makes Craig sneer, corners of his lips twitching in a mix of fear and frustration. A shiver runs up his spine, making his shoulder quake with the chills. Don’t . He thinks. Stop touching me. Fuck off. 

 

“Can I kiss you?” Stan asks. Craig blinks, surprise morphing across his face as he stares at Stan. 

 

What? 

 

What did he just say? 

 

What the fuck?

 

Craig stands there, shellshocked and staring at Stan with wide, confused eyes. His lips are pressed together tightly, formed like a thin line, and his brows are furrowed, pinched in the center of his forehead. Whatever it is that Stan’s trying to do here, Craig doesn’t get. Is he trying to catch him, or something? Trying to get him to agree to a kiss so Stan can laugh in his face and call him slurs? Still, the suggestion does something to his body, something that makes him feel shaky and hot. 

 

“Uh,” he says, finally, and oh so eloquently. Stan’s fingers brush under his chin, positioned perfectly to tilt his head at each and every whim. His eyes dart around the room, certain that he looks panicked and confused. He can’t zero in on Stan’s face, too afraid of letting his eyes linger on a smug, cocky expression. He stops himself from asking why? It’s not everyday that cute, aggressively heterosexual football players come around asking Craig Tucker for kisses. How was he supposed to prepare himself? 

 

It’s not everyday cute men ask Craig Tucker for kisses. 

 

Ah, fuck it. 

 

He fists his fingers into the fabric of Stan's t-shirt, pulling him closer and mashing their mouths together. It's sloppy and awkward because Craig's never done this before, but he's coming to find that he loves the feeling of Stan's lips against his. He’s warm, lips tasting like beer and vodka, and the soft little groan that escapes him does things to Craig’s body. Things that make him gasp and groan in return. 

 

“Hey,” Stan says, pulling away enough so that their lips are just barely brushed together. Craig whines when they stop, pathetically trying to chase after that warm, electric feeling. Stan’s hand is cupping his face, keeping him from leaning too close and recapturing Stan’s lips in a kiss. “Let me lead, okay?” 

 

Craig nods, voice broken, and he whimpers out a soft “Mm-hm,” before he’s kissing him again. It’s softer this time, Craig’s body is moving more passively, allowing Stan to take control. Their lips slide together like a smooth melody, cohesive and beautiful. It’s making Craig’s head spin. The grip around his waist loosens, allowing Craig’s arms to wiggle free. He places his hands on either side of Stan’s cheeks, thumbs brushing against his cheekbones, fingers playing with the slight texture of stubble on his chin. 

 

Stan is the one who finally pulls away, their lips separating with a loud and wet pop , and his pupils are blown, cheeks as red as Craig's. Those dangerously blue eyes search his face, lingering on his lips before flicking back up to meet his gaze.

 

“We should go upstairs.” He says, voice low, and Craig has no idea how he's supposed to deny that request. So he doesn't. He just nods and allows Stan to lead him out of the kitchen, following him up the stairs two at a time. No one gives them a second glance, which is a relief, and he let's Stan lead him into the bedrooms at the back of the house. Those rooms are reserved for guests, but they're so out of the way that hardly anyone knows about them. For a moment, Craig wonders how many times Stan's been up here with Wendy, but quickly shakes that thought away. He doesn't want to bring her up right now, even in his own head, so he has to convince himself that he doesn't care about her, or that he just kissed her boyfriend who is, apparently, kind of gay. At least gay enough to want to drag scrawny queer boys away from parties just to kiss them. 

 

Just to at least kiss them. That thought makes Craig feel like he’s on fire. 

 

The second they're inside and the door is shut and locked, Craig's back is being pressed against it, a pair of lips attacking his own. It's aggressive and kind of messy, but it's so hot that Craig hears himself whimper pathetically, threading his fingers through Stan's hair. It's soft and silky to the touch, just how he imagined it would be, and Craig tugs a little, letting his nails scratch lightly at Stan's scalp. He hears him groan, softly, and it's encouraging. It means that Craig did something right, something that made his partner feel good. Stan's hands are on his hips, gripping tight, pressing harshly into the skin. It kind of hurts but a twisted little part of Craig likes the pain, likes the way he's being manhandled, and he wants those hands to hurt him more. Teeth dig into his lower lip and tug, causing a little spark of pain to jolt through Craig's body and send pathetic shivers of pleasure up his spine. He has to refrain from moaning once more, out of fear he'll be teased for it later.

 

“Want you,” Stan mumbles, his voice heavy with arousal, deep enough to make heat pool at the bottom of Craig's abdomen. “Want you so fucking bad.” That does things to Craig's body, things he can't quite explain. Before he has any grasp on what he's doing, his head is nodding sporadically, brows creased and jaw slack. He feels Stan's thigh slip between his legs, pressing against him, rubbing slow circles with just enough pressure to drive him fucking crazy. Lips are attached to his neck, sucking the skin between a set of teeth and Craig wonders if he'll have a hickey later. Part of him hopes so, just to prove that this isn't all a dream. “You're so responsive.” Stan murmurs, pressing his thigh a little bit harder against Craig's groin, just hard enough to feel really, really good. His mouth falls open, head tipping back against the door, and he rolls his hips against Stan's leg desperately, humping him like a dog in heat.

 

“Never,” he tries to say, but his throat is dry and his words aren't working. “Never done this before.” It's a little shameful to admit, especially considering his partner seems so experienced, but Stan appears to be relatively unbothered. He grins a little, pressing a much softer kiss against that same spot on Craig's neck.

 

“I figured.” He says. Generally, Craig would consider punching him in the fucking face over a comment like that. Now, the shame building in his chest is impossible to distinguish from the heat pooled in his belly. He groans, face warm. “You don’t know how to kiss.” 

 

Craig blinks at him, lips slightly parted and eyes wide. “Teach me, then.” 

 

Stan obliges, kissing him furiously. His hand wraps around the length of Craig’s throat, pressing into the sides of his neck and making him gasp. He presses himself flat against the door, letting his eyes flutter closed. He can still breathe, but his air flow is limited, causing a sense of euphoria to rush through his head. That mixed with the pressure on his groin is nearly heaven.

 

“H-harder.” He breathes out, surprising himself with the sound of his own voice. He sounds like that man in the video, the small, slender one who moaned like a whore (he’s a pornstar, Craig. Of course he’s a whore.) Stan is staring at him like he’s starved, which makes Craig whimper like a bitch. “Choke me harder.” 

 

Stan grins, his hold on Craig’s throat tightening. Craig squeezes his eyes shut, hips rolling up against Stan's leg, searching desperately for contact. His body shakes with need, knees weak and skin desperate for contact. He whimpers, suddenly frustrated with the amount of layers between them. There's a shitty grin on Stan's face, which probably would have made Craig scowl if his brain weren't too preoccupied with every little shift and sensation happening around him. The hold on his throat is replaced with soft lips, grazing his flesh and making him sigh lightly. He's breathing heavily through his nose, eyes squeezed shut and lips slightly parted, fingers tugging at silky black hair. Stan's hair is a little longer than his, a little shaggier, and it flops in front of his face. It's the perfect length for Craig to run his fingers through and it's so, so soft. He feels dizzy and light, as if he's flying, and he wonders if this is what bliss is, cradled in the arms of an attractive boy, the air in his lungs being squeezed away. 

 

When Stan's mouth finds his again, Craig parts his lips immediately, allowing his tongue to lightly brush against Craig’s lips. He sighs, opening his mouth to allow their tongues to properly roll together. It’s over too soon, Stan pulling away suddenly. Craig whines softly, his fingers desperately trying to keep Stan's head in place, to bring his lips back.

 

“You lied to me.” Stan says, grinning a little. Craig furrows his brow, trying to calm the heaviness of his breathing.

 

“What?” He asks.

 

“You lied to me.” Stan repeats, grin only growing wider. “You did get your tongue pierced.” Oh , Craig thinks. Right. That. If he's being entirely honest, he had completely forgotten about his tongue stud up until now, having gotten so used to it being in his mouth that the metal bulb doesn't bother him anymore. He doesn't get an opportunity to explain himself, however, because the second he opens his mouth to speak, Stan's lips are covering his all over again. It's rougher this time, all intense and sloppy. It makes Craig's knees turn to jelly. He’s pressed tightly against Stan, lanky arms slung around strong shoulders, to keep himself from completely collapsing under his own weight. Stan's hands have moved from his hips to grab his ass, gripping tight and making a rush of blood flood toward his groin. Craig gasps in his mouth, hips bucking forward on impulse. Stan’s hands are so big and warm, toying with him however they please. Craig wants those hands all over him, to feel up the skin of his chest and his thighs and his everywhere

 

He nearly has a heart attack when he feels his feet leave the ground, Stan's arms wrapped tightly around him as he's lifted against the wall. Craig knows he's an awfully slender person and that, by default, he probably doesn't weigh very much, but he can't be that light, can he? Stan is managing to support his weight no problem, as if he's no heavier than a ragdoll. 

 

“Wrap your legs around my waist.” Stan tells him, and God , why does his voice sound so fucking good like that? All deep and commanding, making Craig’s body jolt with electrified desire. He sounds so sure of himself that Craig has no other choice but to obey, thighs squeezed around Stan’s waist tightly. He feels kind of ridiculous like this, as if he's an overgrown toddler, legs dangling in the air and a strong boy keeping him supported. 

 

Any embarrassment is instantly forgotten once his back is pressed to the door, Stan’s sturdy build boxing him in and lips pressed to the side of his neck. He runs kisses along Craig’s pulse, hot, opened mouthed, and wet, pausing to suck hickies all over the expanse of his throat. Under the layers of his jeans and his sweatshirt, Craig feels way too fucking hot . He can't help the heavy, breathless gasps that are escaping his lips. When Stan’s hips roll against his, bucking up into him and creating delicious, magnificent friction, Craig squeaks embarrassingly and claws at Stan’s back. 

 

“Jesus ,” he gasps, rocking his hips and squeezing his thighs tight around Stan's waist. He's slowly losing cognitive function, his brain only capable of chanting want, want, want over and over again. His head is spinning so fast that it takes him a while to recognize that his back has left the wall and that he's moving across the room, but when he does, it's because he's being tossed on to the bed, landing with a soft oof . Stan crawls over him, settling between his legs before capturing his lips once again. The weight of a body on top of him is different from the weight of a body pressing into him, and Craig can't decide which he prefers. All he knows is that he wants it to be this weight, all hardened muscle and deep, open-mouthed kisses, the strength of his abdomen quivering with every shift.  Craig’s fingers itch with the urge to feel those muscles shifting against his hands. He shoves them under Stan's shirt, bunching the fabric as he runs his fingers over lines of muscle, stopping only when he reaches Stan's chest. There's a shuddering breath against his skin, a pause, and then hips rolling into his own.

 

“Take your shirt off?” Craig asks and Stan obliges, nodding slightly as he pulls away just enough to tug the article over his head. He throws it to the floor before dipping his head back down and landing a soft nip to the side of Craig's jaw.

 

“You too.” He says and, unlike Craig, it's not a fucking question. So he does as he's told, feeling something that he's never felt before under the heavy gaze of those striking eyes. He feels fucking small , as if this figure is looming over him, making him shrink to a puddle of whimpering, pathetic cries, and it's intoxicating. Once he's bare chested and exposed, he watches as Stan's gaze wanders his torso, taking in the sight of his bare skin. Craig isn't as well sculpted as his partner, something that he's suddenly feeling self conscious about, and he fights the urge to cross his arms over his chest and completely shrink in on himself. Stan runs a hand over his chest, lightly dancing across his skin, and the touch is hot, setting his entire body ablaze.”Can I touch you?” He asks. 

 

“You’re already touching me.” Craig says. Stan chuckles, his smiles lopsided as he looks at Craig with bright, amused eyes. 

 

“No, I mean like,” He glances down at Craig’s hips, eyeing the obvious hard-on straining against his pants. His eyes flick back up to meet Craig’s, gaze so intense it makes him squirm. “Can I touch you?”

 

Yes ,” Craig breathes. Something lights up behind Stan's eyes, any bits of doubt leaving as he captures Craig's lips in a deep, heated kiss. They stay like that for a while, lips moving together and hands exploring each other's chests, until Stan's begin to trail down his abdomen, the brush of his fingertips light, making gooseflesh spread all over Craig’s skin. Their eyes meet when Stan’s hand reaches the button of Craig’s jeans, the gaze is intense, questioning, a silent plea for permission. Craig nods curtly, his fingers running up and down the vertebrae of Stan's neck and playing with the fly away wisps of hair. It's swiftly undone and before Craig can even comprehend what's happening, or the implications behind it, a hand is diving into his underwear, making no hesitation to wrap around his cock.

 

The feeling is fucking breathtaking . Stan's hand is a little bigger than his, his fingers not quite as slim or long, his palm a little wider, and the skin is a little calloused, but it's warm and it's skilled and it makes Craig gasp. He's not sure what he had initially been expecting, certainly not anything all too different from touching himself, but it really fucking is. There's a rush to the newness of it all, an excitement that makes him whine and grate his hips, that makes him claw at Stan's back. His eyes flutter closed, lips parted to let our short, heavy breaths. He rolls up his hips, chasing the feeling coursing through him. 

 

“Fuck,” he mutters. “ please .” He’s not sure what he’s begging for, but it makes Stan kiss him, picking up the pace of his hand and adding just a little more pressure. He trails his lips down Craig’s torso, leaving hickies in his wake. He tilts his head back, shoulders tightening and back slightly arched once those lips greet his hip bones. He spreads his legs, allowing Stan better access to settle between them. Copious amounts of precum are being produced from the tip of his dick, which is getting about ready to blow. Craig bucks into Stan’s hand, chasing sweet release. When he feels a pair of soft, warm lips wrap around the head of his dick, his body tenses up.

 

“Wait, I’m gonna-” He tries to warn Stan, but is cut short when an explosion of heat wracks through his bones. Stan’s mouth stays on him, sucking slightly at the head of his cock, making Craig see heaven. His stomach muscles spasm, hips jolting as he lets an embarrassing display of moans escape his lips. 

 

When he manages to come down from his peak, He lays flat on his back, eyes fluttering closed as he listens to the rise and fall of his breath. He cracks his eyes open to see Stan staring up at him, grinning like he’s proud of himself. 

 

“You have cum on your face.” He says. Stan looks taken aback, wiping at the corner of his mouth with his thumb. He stares down at the bead of cum collected on the pad of his finger, lopsided grin growing. 

 

“Really?” He says, clearly trying, and failing, to not look so entertained. “Not even a 'thank you?' Jesus, dude, I thought an orgasm would make you less of a dick.” Craig rolls his eyes, pushing himself into a sitting position so he can be eye level with Stan.

 

Thank you .” He says, sarcastically. Stan beams. 

 

“You’re welcome.” He says. “The other polite thing to do would be to return the favor.” He leans back on his hands to show off the hard on straining against his jeans. Craig stares at it shamelessly, feeling his face get hot. He glances back up at Stan’s face, flushed with mused hair and spit smeared lips. 

 

“I’ve never, uh,” He gestures crudely and it makes Stan laugh. 

 

“What, you think I’d had a dick in my mouth before tonight, either?” He asks, which only makes Craig’s face feel hotter. “Just do it, dude. I’m sure you’ll be great.” 

 

Craig sucks in a deep breath, nodding once. “Okay.” He says. Stan’s face splits into a wide grin. He reaches out, tangling his fingers into Craig’s hair and tugging, forcing his head down so that he’s eye level with Stan’s dick. He gasps, mostly from surprise, but the noise makes Stan groan and nudge his hips up, as if to say get a fucking move on . Craig doesn’t hesitate as he reaches out and undoes Stan’s zipper. He runs his hand over his bulge, making him sigh softly, eyes fluttering closed. His grip on Craig’s hair has not loosened. 

 

“You look so fucking hot like this.” He murmurs, which takes Craig by surprise. Craig Tucker has been called a lot of things in his day, but hot has never been one of them. He licks his lips, pulling Stan’s pants down and reaching into his underwear, wrapping his fingers around the base of his dick. 

 

Oh God, Oh God, Oh-

 

His head is forced down again, mere centimeters from Stan’s cock. Craig flushes, intimidated. He never assumed he would be in this position, and he feels pretty unsure of what to do from here. 

 

He opens his mouth, poking his tongue out to lick it tentatively, swirling it around the head ever so slightly. 

 

“Come on, dude, you don’t have to be shy. Just suck it.” Stan encourages. Craig swallows thickly. He’s intimidated , dammit. He’s never fucking done this before. He takes a deep, shaky breath before opening his mouth just a little wider, taking the head in fully and sliding his lips as far down the shaft as he can manage. He feels like he’s about to gag and he definitely couldn’t take any more into his mouth, so he wraps his hand around the rest and just sort of improvises. He bobs his head, like he sees in porn, keeping up the same pace with his hand. He tries to set some sort of rhythm with his tongue, licking up the side of the shaft like candy and using the excess spit to act as lube. He picks up the pace with his hand and pulls off near completely, so only the head is in his mouth. 

 

“God,” Stan says. “That feels so fucking good.” 

 

Okay. Yeah. That’s what Craig likes to hear. He continues, moving his tongue in a way that draws out those little moans he likes too much and pumping his hand just the way Stan seems to like. It doesn’t take long before his stomach is tensing, body tight. His grip on Craig’s hair tightens and he thrusts up, making Craig gag, and cumming down his throat. Craig isn’t sure what else to do aside from swallow. Stan’s grip on him is too tight to go anywhere, and he’s certain that if he tried to pull off right now, he’d just get shot in the eye. Still, having cum suddenly shooting in back of his throat is surprising, to say the least. If ever asked about this, he will deny how much he sputters. Gagging around the dick in his mouth is not as sexy as Craig would have imagined, but Stan’s moans are more than gratifying enough to make up for it. 

 

When Craig pulls off, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, Stan stares down at him with dopey, half lidded eyes. He’s smiling lazily. 

 

“Thanks.” He says. 

 

“Your cum tastes like battery acid.” Craig responds. Stan doesn’t respond, instead humming softly and letting his eyes drift closed. Craig watches the rise and fall of his chest, listening to the sound of Stan’s breath slowly beginning to even out. Craig stares at him for a while, waiting for something, anything , to happen. When Stan snorts softly, mumbling in his sleep and shifting to lay on his side, Craig balks. 

 

“You drunk bastard.” He mutters, eyes narrowing into a glare. He tries to slip off the bed as swiftly and quietly as possible, suddenly wanting as far from Stan as he can get. Finding his clothes in the darkness is nearly impossible. Craig has to drop to his hands and knees and blindly swat at the carpet. Stan starts snoring above him, making Craig roll his eyes. He feels ridiculous like this, butt fucking naked and awkwardly crawling across the floor like a drunkard. His head feels fuzzy, his body buzzing with warmth. The room feels like it’s spinning. With success, his fingers curl around denim, making him breathe out a sigh of relief. He steals the closet hoodie he can find and stumbles out the door the moment he’s dressed. 

 

So.

 

That really happened. It wasn’t a fever dream or a drunk delusion, no one slipped ketamine into any of Craig’s cocktails. A boy kissed him and touched his dick for the first time. And that boy was Stan Marsh, 

 

That’s the part that makes Craig pause, stopping to slump against the hallway wall, sliding down to the floor with his knees hugged against his chest. He stares at the wall across from him, glaring at it like it’s personally wronged him. His head feels dizzy, stomach settling with nausea and exhaustion seeping through his eyes. He’s not thinking about bed, or parties, or alcohol. His brain feels like an empty buzz, thrumming with flashes of bright blue eyes and strong hands. He stares at the crotch of his jeans, brows settling into a harsh scowl, like his dick has personally betrayed him. 

 

“Why can’t you fucking control yourself?” He mutters, his words bouncing through the empty hallway. 

 

Chapter Text

The first thing Stan thinks when he wakes up in the morning is this room is fucking cold . He's wrapped up tightly in a thin quilt, his body curled up in a ball for warmth, and he still feels himself quake with shivers. The next thing he realizes, as he lets his eyes crack open and take in his surroundings, is that this is not his bedroom, nor is it any recognizable room in his house. He groans, the sudden burst of sunlight attacking his retinas and making his head throb with a splitting ache. The mattress underneath him is soft and warm, just comfortable enough to make him not want to crawl out of bed quite yet, but the chill in the air has his teeth chattering. Shifting his body, he feels his legs rub together, the slide of his bare skin creating friction. He shifts, laying flat on his back. On the floor below sits his clothes, crumpled in haphazard heaps. 

 

There's a fogginess to his memory, making it difficult to decipher where, exactly, he is, but easy to write it off as not a big deal. He's laying naked in a strange place with a pounding headache, definitely aware that Token had a party recently. Was that last night, though? That can't be right, Stan feels as though Token's party was a million years ago, or just a strange fever dream. Could it really have been so recently ? Stan rubs his eyes with the heels of his hands as he tries to rack his brain for memories. An involuntary groan of frustration escapes him as he manages to recall a particularly painful conversation with Wendy, and then the inevitable drinking away of his sorrows. He thinks Kyle may have taken care of him, which would explain how he ended up in one of Token's guest rooms, but it doesn't explain why he was left here overnight, or why his clothes aren’t on his body. Kyle would have made sure he got home safe-

 

Oh fuck .

 

Kyle.

 

Stan quickly shoots up into a sitting position, desperately searching for his phone. He flings aside the quilt and begins patting himself down, ignoring the brisk chill in the air. He manages to find it strewn off to the side, laying peacefully on the floor below. When Stan unlocks it, he’s greeted with the sight of several ignored notifications. There’s a text from his dad, asking if he'll be home soon, but he doesn't pay that much mind. This happens a lot, actually. He'll mention that he's headed to a party and dad will tell him to be safe, but doesn’t bother to act when he doesn't answer his calls or texts. No, what Stan's concerned about are the messages from Kyle .

 

From: Kyle

Hey dude, where are you?

 

From: Kyle

Seriously dude, you're freaking me out. I can't find you anywhere.

 

From: Kyle

Stan, dumbass, I have to go home. Do you want a ride or not?

 

From: Kyle

I'm assuming you crashed at Token's, which is fine. Whatever. Do you need me to pick you up?

 

Stan checks the time, seeing that it's nearly noon, and he wonders if Kyle is still willing to offer that ride. He could walk home if he really needed to, but he would prefer not -especially with this fucking headache and the sudden chill in the air. He fires off a quick text.

 

From: Stan

Yeah dude, that would be great.

 

He doesn't even get a second to breathe or regain his bearings before his phone starts vibrating, receiving a call from Kyle. Stan contemplates letting it go to voicemail because he's not in the mood to get yelled at, but he ultimately decides against it. The best option in dealing with Kyle's rage is to let him blow up as soon as possible so that he doesn't sit and stew and make things worse.

 

“Hello?” He answers, voice deep and thick from exhaustion.

 

“Dude.” Kyle says, and he sounds scarily calm, as if he's not about to explode into a fit of anger and worry. Stan doesn't quite trust it. “What the fuck ?” Yeah, there's that rage. Jesus, it's amazing how much Kyle can like his mother sometimes, an observation Stan would never even consider sharing with his friend.

 

“Uh, sorry, I-” Stan pauses, suddenly getting a wave of vague memories. He can see a flash of grey eyes, a tall, lanky figure, a sneer and a tongue stud and a pair of thin lips against his own, but not a whole lot else. A part of him knows that's where he must've snuck off to when he managed to lose Kyle, to fool around with… someone? Stan can’t quite remember, he’d consumed enough alcohol last night to kill a child, and it’s hard to think through the headache. “-must've lost you.” He hears a quiet scoff, can practically feel the way Kyle's eyes roll, and feels immensely guilty for making him worry.

 

“That's one way to put it.” He mutters. Stan can picture him now, pacing in his room with a haughty scowl etched into his face, his arms crossed over his chest. He's grown quite familiar with how Kyle looks when he's angry, gotten so very used to the sharpness of his eyes and the firm line of his frown. “Jesus dude, I’m so stupid. I don’t know why I trusted you with fucking Craig Tucker.”

 

That name creates a jolt through Stan’s body, a feeling of impending dread settling deep in his bones. He vaguely remembers being in the kitchen with Craig, although the details of his face are hazy.

 

“Dude, I'm sorry-”

 

“Save it.” Kyle snaps. There's an awkward pause, neither one of them speaking, but it doesn't last long before Kyle sighs heavily and starts talking again. “Really, it's fine. Whatever.” Stan almost wants to object because he hates how defeated Kyle sounds, but he keeps his mouth shut instead. He would rather this than the wave of rage that would follow if he pushed the subject. “Listen, I can still pick you up, but I promised Kenny I'd hang out with him today, so you have to tag along.”

 

“Okay.” Stan says, yawning widely. He has no qualms with spending time with Kenny, it's been a while since the three of them have gotten to hang out together, anyway. He saw them both over the summer a few times individually, but for the most part he was busy with his summer job and getting drunk with dad on the couch and had trouble finding the time to get together with his friends. He's missed them a lot, actually. “Sounds fun.”

 

“Any requests?” Kyle asks.

 

“Requests?” Stan repeats, confused.

 

“Yeah. Kenny wants me to pick up ibuprofen. Do you need anything?” Oh, Stan thinks, grinning a little to himself.

 

“I'm fine, but thanks for taking care of me, mom .” Kyle snorts on the other end of the line.

 

“Shut the fuck up. I'll be there in ten.” He hangs up before Stan can say goodbye, probably wanting to have the last word. 

 

Stan sits in silence for a moment, mindlessly scrolling through his notifications before he finally manages to stretch and swing his legs over the side of the bed. He pops his neck from the side to side, releasing the built up oxygen in his joints and groaning in relief at the sickening cracks. The pull-over hoodie he had been wearing last night is laying flat on the floor in a crumpled heap and Stan grumbles as he pulls it over his head. It's dark brown, a little too big, and starting to get holes in the front pocket, but it's comfortable, and just about perfect for the whole 'I just woke up in someone else's bed with a splitting headache after a night of binge drinking and some drunken one-night stand I can barely remember,' look he has going on right now. Stan thinks he should probably take a shower and brush his teeth, no doubt smelling a little funky from the amount of pure alcohol he's sweating, but he figures against it, knowing that no matter what state he's in, Kenny is going to be about ten times worse.

 

Stumbling out of Token's guest room, he heads across the hall, desperately searching for a bathroom. Even though he has no intention of maintaining basic hygiene today, he still has to take a wicked piss from the heavy amount of liquor that was stored in his body last night. He still feels giddy and light, stumbling on his own two feet, but his head is foggy. The clouds surrounding his brain are overdue to clear any second now, and ideally, when that happens, it’ll be when he’s got a hangover cure in his hands. If Stan thinks his head hurts now, he’s severely dreading what’s going to happen in a few hours. 

 

Looking at his reflection in the mirror is odd. Stan knows he’s a good looking guy, shaggy dark hair and striking blue eyes, his body tall and lean, threaded with ropes of hardened muscle. He knows he has a nice smile, a strong jaw despite the roundness of his cheeks, full lips and naturally straight teeth. Even dehydrated and groggy, running off way less sleep than his body requires. Stan knows that he still looks better than most other guys his age. Still, his reflection is shocking. His eyes are dropping and dull, his hair a mess and his face devoid of color. All he’s missing is the lines of cystic acne running along his cheeks. Drop twenty-five pounds of muscle mass and grow three inches, and this person in the mirror could be Craig Tucker. 

 

Why is Stan thinking about him, again? He squeezes his eyes shut, wracking his brain for drunk memories, but completely draws a blank. He had been hanging out with Kyle, after finally convincing him to drink, they’d both smoked just a smidge of weed, which is a rare occurrence for Stan, and they had been alone, goofing around in some bedroom after Wendy had… Dumped him? Did Wendy dump him, or did she just get mad at him? Stan can’t recall. Either way, something had happened with Wendy, which led to Stan chugging inhuman amounts of alcohol, getting so drunk he could barely stand on his own, and Kyle dragging him to the kitchen for some water. According to Kyle, Craig Tucker had been there. For what, Stan isn’t sure, but apparently they were alone together. After that, Stan’s mind draws a blank. 

 

He throws his hood up as he descends the staircase, trying to sneak around the house as inconspicuous as possible. He's not sure how many people are still here, but he can't imagine it's a majority. Surely Token will notice Stan lumbering around his home like a hungover fool if he's not careful, and that sounds like an embarrassing situation that would be best avoided. He's never not made it home from a party before, has always woken up safe in his bed (and, on occasion, Wendy's) so he's never had to experience a true walk of shame. And oh boy, does Stan feel shameful.

 

When he reaches the bottom of the staircase, he sees a few other kids lounging around lazily, sipping cans of soda and watching TV. They're mostly underclassmen, as far as he can tell, and Stan takes a moment to thank whatever God is listening for that . He makes a detour into the kitchen, on the hunt for a cold beer. Empty bottles line the countertops, right along with spilled puddles of varying liquors. Token is so fucking lucky his parents have a maid service. Every time Dad’s thrown a party at their house, Stan’s been the one who’s had to clean it up. 

 

Realistically, Stan’s aware that after last night, his liver doesn’t need to endure the pain of another drink, but his head and his stomach are begging for it. He manages to find a twenty-four ounce can of Bud Light rummaging around the back of the fridge, which is a score. These are the same beers Stan has sitting in his fridge at home. A Bud Light, a burger, and a gallon of water? Immaculate as a hangover cure. While he’s here, Stan grabs a bottle of water, too, shoving it in the front pocket of his hoodie. He cracks open the beer, taking a long chug. 

 

He manages to sneak out the front door going virtually unnoticed. The carbonation for the beer is doing wonders for his stomach, and at about half a can in, his headache is subsiding. For a moment, Stan feels pretty good. He gets to see Kyle and Kenny today, forget all about his mistakes from last night. That is until he sees Craig Tucker, sitting on the porch steps and smoking a cigarette. 

 

Stan freezes when he sees him, a wave of memories finally crashing over him. A kiss in the kitchen, which led to some frisky activities upstairs, locked behind closed doors. Stan still doesn’t recall the details, not all of them, anyway. He remembers kissing, vaguely, but can’t seem to recall the shape of Craig’s lips. He doesn’t remember what their bodies felt like flushed together, and he can’t completely conjure what they did. What he does know, for absolute fact, was Craig lied to him about getting his tongue pierced. Oh, that wicked tongue stud and the things it did to Stan’s body, he remembers with shame. 

 

Craig’s back is to him, a rather nasty hickey plastered on the base of his neck, peaking out of the collar of his jacket, matched with a few faint marks in the shape of fingertips. The marks are confusing. Stan has no idea what would make him so bold as to choke someone out and leave them sporting hickies. He doesn’t even do that stuff to Wendy, why the fuck would he do it with a stupid, drunk hookup? Craig is wearing a massive gray sweatshirt, PCHS written across the back in bold green lettering. Stan feels stuck out here. He doesn’t want to go back inside, but he certainly doesn’t want to be speaking to Craig, either. 

 

The choice is made for him when Craig finally turns, his gaze settling on Stan’s figure. He has a pair of aviator sunglasses on his face and his lips are pressed into a flat line. He hums something under his breath, looking entirely unimpressed, as if Stan’s general existence inconveniences him. It’s too late to retreat, now, Craig’s already spotted him. If he turns and runs back inside, he’ll look like a coward. Stan supposes he has no other option but sit and chat until Kyle shows up . 

 

“Uh,” he says, breaking the tense silence. He sees a flash of kitchen tiles, his body pressed against Craig's, a devilish smirk stretching his lips, and his face flushes. God , was he really that bold? He shouldn’t have even been able to stand up straight. “Hey dude.” He greets lamely. Craig hesitates for a moment, unmoving, before he slowly pushes his sunglasses up, letting them rest on the top of his head. Stan is not surprised to see that he looks pretty shit, his gray eyes dull and cloudy, a putrid shade of purple formed underneath them. No wonder he went with the big glasses. Even clouded with exhaustion, there's still an intensity to his gaze that makes Stan want to retreat, like a bitch. He knows Craig remembers last night. Something in his eyes says he might remember it better than Stan. 

 

“Hey.” Craig finally says back, after an uncomfortably long time. He pushes his sunglasses back down, letting them rest on the bridge of his nose. He turns away, taking another long drag off his cigarette, holding in the smoke for a beat, before slowly letting it out. Stan feels incredibly awkward like this, stuck in the same vicinity as a massive mistake. 

 

“So, are you gonna fuck off or what?” He asks. To his own ears, Stan doesn’t sound particularly rude. He could’ve shoved Craig out of the way and screamed him, like Cartman would’ve, or just kicked him in the face. Stan’s not a dick like that. Craig stretches his legs out in front of him, leaning back on his elbows and peering up at Stan from the tops of his sunglasses. 

 

“I was here first.” He says, “You can fuck off.” Stan sighs, growing impatient. 

 

“Look dude, I had a rough night last night,” as he says it, he watches Craig raise a brow. “...and I want to be alone.” 

 

“Rough night, huh?” Craig repeats, smirking around his cigarette. White terror runs Stan’s blood cold, every fiber of his being shaking with tension. Stan knows what he’s implying. The look in his eyes is telling enough. In his moment of panic, he decides to play dumb. 

 

“What are you talking about?” He asks, brows twitching downward. He shoves his hands in the pockets of his hoodie. Craig doesn’t respond, just continues to grin around the filter of his cigarette. “Stop looking at me like that, dude, you’re creeping me out.” 

 

Craig raises his brows, the corners of his lips twitching upward. He scoffs. “Looking at you like what?” He asks. “Like I know one of your secrets?” 

 

Fuck, playing dumb isn’t working. Stan has a moment of panic, stressing over how to play his next move. Denial will only make him look more foolish, if his posture is giving away any indication of his anxiety. The look in Craig’s eyes is telling him it is. If he tries to get defensive, he’ll just look like a whiny little bitch. Stan pinched his brows, bringing his beer up to his lips and chugging. 

 

“Tell anyone about last night and I’ll literally kill you, how about that?” Stan says. He comes across a lot more aggressive than he’d intended, the meanness in his voice making Craig’s expression flatten, set stoic and hard, like a rock. He regards the beer in Stan’s hand for a moment, the cigarette between his fingers trembling slightly.

 

“Who would I tell?” He asks. Stan stares at him, watching as he pushes himself into a sitting position and puts his cigarette out on the concrete. This settles Stan enough. So long as Craig never tells a fucking soul about last night, Stan can bury it deep. The memories will slowly fade away, so long as they never get uncovered. 

 

Stan does not respond. Instead, he directs his eyes toward the street in front of them, watching Kyle’s car come just into view. He steps off the porch, headed toward the front gates. Craig stays silent as he leaves, but Stan swears he can feel his eyes boring holes in his skin. 

 

Stan is super jealous of Kyle’s car. It’s gorgeous, for one, and brand spanking new.  It had been a gift for Kyle's seventeenth birthday. He’d been begging his parents for a fancy sport car for about a year, desperate for something pretty that would drive fast and look sexy while doing it. He got his wish in that gorgeous black convertible. What Kyle plans on going with a convertible in Colorado, Stan isn’t sure. It snows nine months out of the year and rains the other three. Putting the top down and feeling the wind in his hair isn’t an option. 

 

When he manages to pull open the passenger side door, he can hear the heavy bass of Kyle's music and tries to hold back his groan of complaint. Kyle likes loud, computerized pop music, the minds of songs that make Stan’sbrain vibrate. Kyle grins at him when he climbs in, clad in pajama bottoms and an ugly orange sweater, a pair of round sunglasses on the bridge of his nose. His hair is mostly hidden by a bright green hat, but the few curls falling in front of his face are especially frizzy and untamed. Stan just about starts counting the faint freckles on his nose when he realizes he's staring and quickly redirects his gaze to the road in front of them.

 

“Hey, dude,” Stan greets. “Sorry again about last night. Shit just got out of hand-” Kyle groans, abruptly cutting him off.

 

Dude , shut the fuck up.” He turns to offer Stan a grin, weak and lopsided, but a grin nonetheless, and it helps to release some of the anxiety-filled pressure building in Stan's chest. Anxiety is a normal reaction to being around Kyle. His mood is always delicately placed on it's balancing point, ready to tip one way or the other at just the wrong shift in movement, rage easily set off by a shift in posture or fuck up in dialogue, and it makes Stan have to think twice as hard about the words that are coming out of his mouth. He doesn't remember always having to be this careful, this aware of his own behavior as he attempts to appease. When they were kids, Kyle had been the easiest person in the world to be around, but something happened to change that somewhere down the line, and now, well - now it's like being around Wendy, and Stan has yet to decide if he likes this change or not. He thinks not, missing how easy their friendship used to be. He grins back without thinking, finding relief in the kindness that's being bestowed upon him. Kyle isn't easy going by any means, but his current posture is enough to fool anyone. He's slumped, body loose, one hand on the steering wheel as the other forearm stretches across the windowsill. The grin on his face looks relaxed, carefree, and the way the sun reflects behind him looks almost picturesque, like a shot from a teen romcom. It's a sight to behold, and Stan is embarrassed when he has to find himself tearing his eyes away, again .

 

“You’re good, it’s cool. How are you feeling, dude?” Kyle asks. Stan doesn’t answer right away, scowling down at his hands like they’ve betrayed him. Kyle clears his throat, stepping on the gas. “I just mean, like, with the Wendy stuff.” He clarifies. Stan tenses, teeth grit and shoulders tight. Waves of memories he’d been trying to drink away hit him at full force. 

 

“I’m okay.” He lies. Stupid Wendy, she’s such a bitch sometimes that it drives Stan crazy. He’s still unclear as to why she’s upset with him, or if they’re even still together, his memory fogged from alcohol and shame. He knows she’s pissy about something, her panties pulled in such tight knots Stan wants to offer to cut them off for her. She’d certainly threatened a breakup, sometime in the midst of her scolding, directing her rage over this or that right in Stan’s face, like he did anything wrong, but he can’t recall if she had followed through. He thinks their fight was over alcohol, which is completely stupid, but so are most things Wendy gets mad about. Girls are so much fucking trouble. More so than they’re worth. “She’ll be over it by Monday, dude; it’s whatever.” 

 

Kyle sucks his teeth, staring absentmindedly at the road in front of him. “Sure, yeah.” He says. “That’s how it always is, right?” 

 

“Yeah.” Stan mutters, something in Kyle’s words putting him on edge. 

 

Kyle is a fast driver, he thinks, as he watches their little town fly by in a blur, the mountains nothing more than a haze of trees against the horizon. He goes forty in residential areas, sixy along the main roads, and takes turns sharp enough to rival a Fast and Furious movie. Generally, this would send Stan's heart into a frenzy, but with Kyle it's almost calming. Maybe it's due to the amount of blind trust they share, maybe because Stan has always seen Kyle as untouchable, a spirit of strength and passion, fury that makes him tick like a time bomb. He's above the law in some ways, whereas a perfect model of citizenship in others. In Stan's brain, Kyle is somewhat of an enigma, incapable of being tied down one way or another, and a lead foot upon the gas pedal is the perfect depiction of his character.

 

They're pulling into Kenny's driveway in a flash, which makes Stan briefly consider how much longer it would have taken had he been driving, careful and slow, cautious on the gas pedal like it's something delicate. The whirlwind that is Kyle's frenzied driving makes Stan wonder how he ever passed his driver's test in the first place, but he refrains from voicing his thoughts out loud. He tries not to outwardly criticise Kyle all too much, even in a teasing manner, because he's no longer sure how he'll react. They used to be able to tease each other mercilessly and know that there was no malice behind it, used to hurl whatever insults came to mind without fearing repercussions. Kyle's gotten more prickly over the years and Stan can't figure out why.

 

Kenny's neighborhood is fucking disgusting. His front yard is covered in brown dirt, with a few spatterings of weeds that grow three feet tall and a mess of crushed, empty cans of beer. There are cracks in the foundation of his house, a garage door that's nearly hanging off the hinges, and badly chipped paint flaking off the front door. But it's not just Kenny's house that looks quite so sad and broken down, it's every house on the block. Most of the residents use their garages as meth labs, their backyards as puppy mills, and there's always a stench of rotting animal carcass and roadkill hanging in the air. 

 

Stan's family isn't the richest. At the very least, his dad doesn’t make near the same wages as Kyle’s. He’s not a fancy lawyer, he’s just a small business owner; a humble pot farmer in rural Colorado, and his mom works as a receptionist to a plastic surgeon. But at the very least, they manage to pay their bills without having to resort to selling drugs or harming animals. Sometimes they have money left over to go out to a nice restaurant, or maybe, even, take a weekend camping trip. Seeing Kenny struggling to survive in the slums of an already poor, remote town, is both humbling and utterly depressing. They stick out like a sore thumb in this part of town, as Kyle's brand new, sleek black car pulls into Kenny's driveway, and Stan feels infinitely embarrassed. He hates drawing attention to himself when he's in this area, knowing full well that there are people around here that would not hesitate to shank him over a few dollars.

 

He breathes a sigh of relief when they get out of the car and he hears the click of Kyle locking the doors behind him. Kyle doesn't bother knocking as he pushes his way past the front door. It's not like it matters; the McCormick's really wouldn't care if someone tried to break in. It's not like they own anything worth stealing, anyway. Kenny is face down on the couch, soft snores coming from his direction as they approach. The floorboards creak under their feet, making him snort and twitch, clearly being pulled out of his slumber. He groans, turning his face to the side and cracking one eye open to see who just disturbed his nap, before groaning again and shoving his face back into the cushions.

 

“Tylenol?” He asks, voice severely muffled and almost inaudible. Kyle grins and holds up the bottle of painkillers, as well as a bottle of water.

 

“Wake up and you can have it.” Kenny lets out a noise of complaint before slowly pushing himself into a sitting position. He looks about as terrible as expected, eyes bloodshot from exhaustion and skin bordering on a grayish tint. He holds his head in his hands for a moment, elbows resting on his spread knees as he takes a few deep inhales. Finally, without lifting his head, he reaches one arm out, making a grabbing motion with his fingers. Kyle places two pills in his palm, which Kenny immediately snatches back and pops in his mouth before reaching for the water. He drinks it down greedily, the bottle caving in under Kenny's hand as he tips his head back. He manages to suck it down in one go, throwing the crushed plastic on the floor when he's done and gasping sharply.

 

Fuuuuuuck .” He groans, letting his head flop backwards and his eyes scrunch closed. “My head is fuckin' throbbing.” He runs his palm along his forehead, smoothing out the creases in his brow. “I’m gonna need some fucking oxy is this keeps up. Thanks for playing mom, dude.” Kyle snorts and shoves Kenny's shoulder, an amused glint in his eyes.

 

“Shut the fuck up.” His words don't hold any bite to them, and Stan smiles fondly as he watches the display.

 

“Are you doing alright, dude? Need a hangover cure?” Stan asks, waving his almost empty beer can in Kenny’s face. Kenny cracks his eyes open to glance at him, that infamously mischievous smirk gracing his features. Like Kyle, Kenny has a crooked grin, but his is far too big for his features, stretching across the length of his face lazily. Where Kyle's smirk is dazzling, full of boyish charm, Kenny's holds nothing but trouble.

 

“No more fucking alcohol. I went too hard last night.” He says, and looks a little proud of himself. Kyle snorts again, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

“You always go too hard.” He counters.

 

“Especially so this time. I got stupid and tried to impress someone.” He rolls his eyes at himself and then immediately cringes and grabs his forehead, rubbing at his temples.

 

“Who?” Stan asks. Kenny just shakes his head, grin only growing impossibly wider.

 

“That,” he says, pausing for the sake of dramatics. “Is strictly classified.” Stan is curious, but he opts not to push. Kenny isn't particularly stubborn most of the time, but when he chooses to dig his heels in, there's no moving him, and he's especially good about keeping secrets, most notably when they're his own. “Anyway,” Kenny says, breaking the momentary silence. “I'm fucking starving and could use some grease.” They all glance around at each other, sharing wide, unapologetic grins.

 

“McDonald's?” Kyle offers.

 

“Mc-fucking-Donald's.” Kenny confirms and Stan has to calm the excitement building in his belly. It's been a long while since he's had any sort of processed garbage in his body, having to keep up diet and exercise for the sake of football season, and he's absolutely craving a Big Mac and a large fry. A Diet Coke wouldn't be too bad, either. Kenny stands and stretches, lifting his arms above his head and tipping forward onto the balls of his feet. His sweatpants are a little too big for him, threatening to slip off his hips, and his t-shirt is dirty and speckled with holes. Stan was right, Kenny doesn't only look about ten times worse than himself, but he smells pretty bad, too, the stench being especially noticeable when he lifts his arms. Kyle's hand quickly slaps over his nose, face scrunching in disgust.

 

Dude. ” he says, clearly exasperated. Kenny glances at him, brows furrowed, then takes a whiff of his armpit, pulling away with a sour expression.

 

“Oh, gnarly ,” he cringes away from himself, putting his arms down quickly. “Sorry, guess I forgot to shower last night.”

 

Yeah you did.” Kyle says. “Go do that, for the love of God .” Kenny grins, that stupid smirk he has when he's about to do something neither Kyle nor Stan would approve of. Cartman, however, would almost always get a pretty good kick out of whatever it is, that fucking asshole.

 

“Care to join me, hot stuff?” He asks in an exaggeratedly flirtatious tone, wiggling his eyebrows. Kyle rolls his eyes as Kenny zeros in on him, puckering his lips like a fish as he leans in for a kiss. Kyle attempts to shove him away, his hands pressed flat against his chest and pushing with all the force he can manage. Eventually, Kyle's arms give out and Kenny stumbles forward, managing to land a sloppy and wet kiss to his cheek.

 

“Awh, sick !” Kyle says, voice a little shrill.

 

Weak , dude!” Stan interjects, laughing to himself. Kenny grins and turns on his heel, walking toward the bathroom as he flips the both of them off over his shoulder. Kyle wrinkles his nose and aggressively wipes off his cheek with the back of his hand. He turns to Stan with an exasperated expression, brows furrowed in his discontent and eyes heavy with agitated exhaustion. There's a moment of silence between them, eyes lingering for a moment too long, and it feels as if they're having an entire conversation without the need for words. Stan can't help the swarm of nervous bubbles fluttering in his stomach, captivated by green, almond eyes and pinched brows. Kyle isn't an attractive person in a conventional sense, not in the same way Stan is, but the uniqueness in his appearance is alluring. His eyes are sharp, sparked with intelligence so severe it's intimidating and the curve of his nose, although large and crooked, creates an illusion of sophistication. He walks with his head high, shoulders back, spine straight, his lithe frame and stiff posture only making him look taller. In all truth, he's an inch or so shorter than Stan, just barely breaching six feet, but he carries himself as if he's as tall as a skyscraper, and it's a strange mix between admirable and terrifying.

 

The house is empty, aside from the three of them, the McCormick's being an infamously unstable family who all like to disappear for days at a time without warning. Kenny claims that his sister is often over at friends' houses, probably gossiping about boys, or whatever thirteen-year-old girls do in their spare time. Staurt and Carol are either getting trashed, or dealing with the after maths, waking up groggy and disoriented in the basement of Skeeter's Bar, or passed out in a set of bushes somewhere.

 

They'd be lucky not to choke on their own vomit , Kenny had once said with an eye roll and a toss of his head.

 

And what about Kevin? Kyle had asked the last time Kenny's house had been entirely empty. What happened to him? Kenny had shrugged noncommittally and said,

 

Jail, probably .

 

Maybe having a house to himself would be cool, Stan thinks, if Kenny didn't live in such a terrifying neighborhood, but the fact of the matter is he could get shot at any moment. He tries to shake the thoughts away, instead opting to draw his focus back to Kyle, shooting the shit as they wait for Kenny to return. In all truth, none of them are in particularly great shape. They're in a weird place this morning, dealing with the aftermath of a reckless party, all groggy and tired and craving absurd amounts of greasy food, which makes Kenny's shower exceptionally short. As he barrels out of the bathroom with his hair still dripping wet, the same dirty, oversized clothes hanging off his body, Stan can't help but feel the sheer relief wash over him, shuddering down his spine like beetles. The grin plastered across Kenny's face is just as wide as ever as he shakes out his soaked hair like a dog, the droplets of water flying every which way, some of them landing on Kyle's sweater.

 

“Ready.” Kenny announces, his hair sticking up in odd directions. Kyle rolls his eyes, a fond grin on his face, as he grabs his car keys and wordlessly leads the other two out the door.

 

Approximately a thousand years go by as they drive to the closest McDonald's, all the way on the west end of Park County, and Stan spends them staring out the window. He's in the passenger's seat, watching as the trees fly by and the road whirs under their tires, Kenny sprawled across the entire backseat behind him, snoring softly and mumbling in his sleep. There's a point where Kyle slams his foot harshly against his break, a shitty smile of satisfaction gracing his features as he watches Kenny tumble down through the rearview mirror. In a haze of exhaustion and shocked, he grumbles a string of profanity, tossing his hair and squinting his eyes at the bright rays of sunshine. Stan, against his better judgement, sniggers, earning a glare from Kenny and a cheeky grin from Kyle.

 

They look pathetic when they finally enter the store, a group of teenage boys clad in their pajamas, large sunglasses balanced in front of their eyes and skin sickly pallid. What they've been up to is clear to anyone with half a brain and a pair of eyes. It's Kenny who orders first, spouting out an order so extensive it could cover half the menu. Coffee, large coke, hash browns and cheeseburgers, a 10 piece nugget for the table -and the list goes on. His total is over fifty dollars by the time he's finished and Stan glances at Kyle, whose jaw is set in fury, neither one of them wanting to pay on Kenny's behalf if he's just going to abuse their generosity. But they both end up shocked when he reaches into his dirty sweatpants pocket and pulls out a large stack of cash, ones and fives mostly, but excessive nonetheless.

 

“Dude, holy shit.” Stan mutters, focused on the large was of money crumpled in Kenny’s hands., Kenny turns to him with a funny sort of look on his face, eyes wide, brows raised to his hairline. He doesn't say anything, choosing instead to wink and place a finger up to his faintly quirked lips in a 'shushing' motion before turning back to the cashier to pay for his order.

 

“Can I get a name for your order?” The cashier asks. She's older, maybe forty or fifty, and she looks bored, appalled, and impressed all at once.

 

“Kenneth,” Kenny says back before sliding her a stack of ones across the counter. “And keep the change; for your troubles.” He walks away before he's given his receipt, hands shoved in the pocket of his joggers. Stan attempts to go up to the counter, but he's stopped by a bony hand against his chest. It's followed by a large orange hoodie and a grinning, gap-toothed expression. “I've got you covered. You thought I could eat all that shit by myself?” In all truth, Stan isn't sure. He's seen Kenny devour more food than he thought humanly possible.

 

“Dude,” Kyle says, a funny smile on his face, as if he isn't sure whether to be thankful or suspicious. “Thanks, that's really cool of you.”

 

They find themselves at a booth in the back, trays upon trays of greasy heaven sitting in front of them, as if they've been kissed by angels. There's silence between the three of them for a while, all far too focused on scarfing down their food like animals to bother with conversation. Stan is certain he's never felt hunger like this as he dumps an entire small fry in his mouth, barely managing to chew it all before he takes a large slurp from his Coke.

 

“Where the fuck did you get all that money?” Kyle asks after a moment, bits of burger still in his mouth. Stan's been wondering the same thing, but he wasn't sure if he'd wanted to know the answer.

 

“My good ol' friend Mary Jane McCormick, amongst, er, other things.” Kenny replies, tapping the side of his nose and sniffing loudly. He leans back in his seat, letting his legs stretch out in front of him. “Does wonders on a party night.”

 

“Are you high?” Stan blurts, because he really can't help himself. That lazy smile stretched across Kenny's face is looking awfully suspicious. He snorts, shaking his head as if that's the most amusing thing he's heard all day.

 

“Fuck man, I wish .” He says, chuckling to himself. “Nah, just tired as shit. I didn't get home until six thirty in the fuckin' morning and then you assholes woke me up. I was having such a good dream, too.” The vaguely sexual innuendo makes Stan a little uneasy, but both he and Kyle apparently decided not to comment on it. It's best not to call Kenny out on being gross, it'll only encourage him to do it more, that rebellious bastard. Kyle snorts around the straw in his mouth, hunched over the table and making a few drops of Sprite fly out in front of him.

 

“Stan didn't even make it home last night.” He says, making Kenny grin like a maniac, a knowing light flashing in his eyes.

 

“No way ,” he says, as if this is some sort of hot gossip. “Who'd you hook up with?” Kyle turns to him as well, brows furrowed as if he hadn't even thought of that possibility, and Stan feels his cheeks burn red. He wishes he had a beer and a tequila shot for this. 

 

No one .” He says firmly, trying to sound as convincing as possible. Kenny sniggers and Kyle continues to stare, inspecting his skin as if searching for hickies. Luckily, Stan doesn't have any visible ones, but he has yet to inspect his chest and abdomen, too caught up in trying not to think about it to bother.

 

“C'mon,” Kenny prompts. “It's fine, man. Everyone rebounds after a breakup.”

 

“I’m pretty sure it was just a stupid fight.” Kyle says. Stan refrains from groaning, instead squeezing his eyes shut and taking a deep, slow inhale. “They’ll be back to normal by Monday, right?” 

 

“Yeah, duh.” Stan responds. “Wendy wouldn’t break up with me. We’re, like, in love, or whatever.” 

 

Kenny whistles, impressed. “Fuck, so you cheated on your girlfriend.”

 

“Weak, dude, no! I didn’t hook up with anyone.” Stan lies, set on the defense. 

 

“Was she a Freshman or something?” Kenny asks. 

 

No. Stan insists. “God, fuck you guys.”

 

“Thank God.” Kenny says. “You know Red Tucker hooked up with a Freshman last night?” 

 

“Gross.” Kyle says, sitting forward in his seat, suddenly very engaged in whatever the fuck Kenny's talking about. 

 

“I shit you not. I saw them getting pretty handsy by the hot tub.”

 

“Sick, dude!”

 

At best, listening to other people’s hook-up stories bores Stan to tears. At worst, it makes him feel weird. Red Tucker and some other chick smashing their puss’s together is not on Stan’s priority list of concerns. He has his own embarrassing sexual encounter to not be concerned with, thank you very much, he doesn’t need to tune into someone else’s. He is thankful that his friends have dropped the issue of him, though. If they’d kept probing, Stan’s not sure he would’ve been able to come up with a decent lie. 

 

Not that anything happened last night, not anything of the homosexual variety, at least. Stan isn’t gay, and if he did anything gay last night, he didn’t. But if he did, he was fucking sloshed. Stan definitely likes girls. He's always liked girls, with their long pretty hair and soft skin, big eyes, full lips. And tits. Guys don’t have tits. Craig Tucker certainly doesn’t have tits. And who doesn’t love a rocking pair of tits? Obviously if he likes girls, he’s gotta be straight. 

 

(Tell that to the dick that was in your mouth last night, Stan!) 

 

“-dude, I’m telling you, that hickey on his neck was insane. I know my fucking hickies, man.” Kenny says. Stan must have missed a portion of their conversation, because he’s pretty sure they’re no longer talking about Red. 

 

Kyle wrinkles his nose, looking displeased. “I call horseshit.” He says. 

 

“It was a hickey, dude!” Kenny argues. “Unless he was feeding leeches upstairs, yeah. That was a fucking hickey.” 

 

“There’s absolutely no way.” Kyle says. “I don’t believe anyone would-“

 

“What are you talking about?” Stan interrupts. Kenny’s attention snaps to him, looking at him with wide, intrigued eyes. 

 

“Kenny’s cracked out.” Kyle says. 

 

“I am not!” Kenny retorts. 

 

“Yeah, you are. Craig Tucker did not get laid last night.” When Kyle says it, Stan feels his heart sink. He sputters in disbelief, making Kyle grin, like he’s won a battle. 

 

“What?” Stan asks. He squeezes his eyes shut, shaking his head. “Why do you guys even care about that?” Kenny holds his hands up in defense. 

 

“Usually, I wouldn’t.” He says. “But, dude, he was acting so fucking weird after he came downstairs, like he saw a ghost or something.”

 

“Like, weird how?” Stan asks. “What was he doing?” Kenny shrugs. 

 

“Like, I dunno,” he blows a raspberry, tapping his fingers to the table top. “He bummed a smoke off me and just stared off into space. He didn’t even call me a stupid asshole or anything. I don’t know if something bad happened to him or what.”

 

“Bad?” Stan asks, growing defensive. “Like, what kind of bad?” 

 

“Not rape bad, if that’s what you’re asking.” Kenny says, making the tension in Stan’s shoulder release. Kenny regards him for a moment, crooked grin splitting his face. “Just, something. Whatever it was fucked with his head. He came down stairs at, like, three or four in the morning and was still sitting on the porch, smoking cigs and staring off into space when I left at six.” 

 

Stan stares down at his hands, brows furrowed and lips turned down into a frown. He wonders if Craig ever went to bed last night, or even left his spot on the porch. He wonders how many cigarettes someone can smoke in one night without dying. 

 

Kyle snorts, arms crossed over his chest and a haughty smile etched into his face. “I still call horseshit on all of this. There isn’t a world where someone would want to go near that prick’s genitals.” His words thrum through Stan’s chest, settling him with unease.

 

“He’s not ugly,” Kenny says. “He’s just-“

 

“He’s kind of ugly.” Stan interrupts. “But mostly he’s a fucking asshole.” He’s still staring at his lap, certainly looking mean, judging from how tightly his brows are pinched. Kenny studies him up and down, something knowing sparked behind his eyes. 

 

“Yeah.” Kenny agrees. He’s eyes Stan oddly. “Unless you catch him in the right mood.” Stan is about to respond, mouth open in preparation, when he’s cut off by Kyle’s voice. 

 

“Hey, Kenny,” he says, bending down to pick something up off the dirty, McDonald's floor. It's a piece of food, a nasty, dusty bit of McChicken that's been sitting there for who knows how long, and it makes Stan wrinkle his nose in disgust. He's a little surprised that Kyle's even touching it, knowing how he gets about messes sometimes. The bit of chicken is held up in front of Kenny's face, taunting him. “I dare you to eat this.” Kenny eyes it for a moment, as if weighing his options as he pops a few fries into his mouth.

 

“Will you pay me?” Kyle snorts, as if the answer should be obvious.

 

“Duh,”

 

“How much?”

 

“Twenty bucks.”

 

Fuck yeah.”

 

Kenny should not have eaten that old ass Mcchicken. He rushes to the bathroom twice to puke before they leave. 

 

Stan crashes when he gets home, belly full of greasy, fried food and head still pounding from dehydration. He feels foggy and light, disoriented in his exhaustion. He barely has time to greet Dad and grab a beer before he’s face first in his mattress. Much to his personal disgust, he managed to gulp down three large cups of cola and half of Kyle's sprite, forcing himself to have to get up and piss several times in the span of the hour they were inside McDonald's. He's happy to finally be home, curled up under the covers, an unopened beer on his nightstand, and slowly drifting to sleep.

 

Hangovers give Stan weird dreams. When he goes to bed drunk, he sleeps like a rock, but if there’s any amount of lingering alcohol in his system, his brain likes to play tricks on him. 

 

It takes him a good while to recognize where he's standing, his body melding in a puddle of shadow, the darkness of the room enough to be suffocating. He's stuck listening to a soft melody, the intro to a song he knows he loves, but can't seem to remember the name of. Someone strikes a match, lighting a long line of candles one by one and filling the room with a soft glow. Immediately, Stan knows where he is, eyeing the deep purple comforter resting on top of a queen size bed, that beautiful, eggshell white dresser just an inch to his left. The walls are the same off-white color, a few strategically placed cork boards hanging along them, decorated with photobooth pictures, movie tickets -anything that may have created memories. Stan eyes his favorite strip of pictures, the three part strip of the two of them in eighth grade, the top picture smiling sweetly, the middle sticking their tongues out, and the third kissing as if they even knew how to kiss. It tugs at his heart to look at, even in his dreams.

 

Wendy is standing near the bed, lighting the final candle set upon the bedside table. She's wearing a dress, a black, a-line number, low cut and tight up top, but flowy and elegant on bottom. Stan always liked that dress, thought she looked stunning in it. It hugs her slender frame nicely, cinching her already slim waist and hugging her curves. Stan watches as dream-Wendy saunters over to him, smiling softly, a sweet glimmer in her large, brown eyes. She'd never been prone to wearing much makeup, claiming that she wasn't very good at it, usually choosing to fill in her brows and coat her lashes with mascara and call it a day, but on special occasions, she'd put on a bit of eyeliner and color her lips. Stan liked those occasions, liked seeing her dressed up and glamourous. She cups his cheek in her hand, something soft and sad in her eyes as she searches his face. It makes Stan feel uneasy.

 

“I love you, Stan,” she murmurs, and it should be sweet, kind, should make his heart flutter in his chest, but her voice is so sad that it only makes him tense. “But you don’t love me, do you?” 

 

Stan has been here before, around two weeks ago when he showed up to Wendy’s house drunk. When she’d uttered these words to him in reality, her hair wasn’t brushed and she was wearing her pajama pants. This pretty black ensemble was what she had been wearing to Token’s party last night. In his dream, Stan wants to say something, but he doesn’t have a voice. No matter how many times he opens his mouth, the words just won’t come out. Wendy watches him like a kicked puppy. 

 

“You’re so distant.” She says. 

 

“You don’t care about anything but booze, do you Stan?” 

 

“I’m scared I’m losing you.” 

 

“It’s like I don’t even know who you are.” 

 

“You’re just not you…”

 

“...When you fucking drink!”

 

He watches in horror as the scene shifts, Wendy's soft features melting away, being replaced with hard lines and angles, dark hair shortening, long legs growing even longer. The person in front of Stan is taller now, thinner in the waist and hips, but broader in their shoulders. The room has shifted as well, morphing into Token Black's guest room, white walls and white linens. It's cold in this room.

 

“You're a waste of space, you know that?” Craig says, voice deep and nasally. He pushes Stan backward, making him stumble onto the bed and crawls on top of him, straddling his lap. They kiss, harsh and angry, teeth clacking together due to sloppy force. “You’re so fucking useless it’s humiliating.”

 

“Maybe I should just kill myself.” He says when dream-Craig starts to pepper kisses along his throat. He's joking, sort of, but when Craig comes back up to look at him, there's so much deadly seriousness in his eyes that it makes Stan feel uneasy.

 

“Maybe you should.”

 

He wakes up sweating and shaking.

 

When he shows up to school on Monday, it's with a thermos full of vodka and orange juice shoved in the front pocket of his backpack. Orange juice is perfect for hiding liquor, takes the sting out of Dad’s cheap Smirnoff and hides the lingering scent of booze. So long as he doesn't make it too strong, he'll be able to get through the day without much more, or much less, than a buzz. He doesn't always drink at school, but he can't calm the jitters running through his body or the twitch of need in his nerves. He hates days like these, when his cravings are more than a discreet buzz of maybe I could or I would if... but rather an intense desire, a burning need to feel normal and okay, to not be so exceptionally dull. Without alcohol, his head is heavy, mood low and brain too focused on the piles of shit humanity has to offer, lowering his already unenthusiastic mood. Does he enjoy being this way? Of course not, not when he has to swallow down the shame that swells in his chest as he steals his dad's beer, not when he depends on a substance to kill him slowly, just so he can be normal again. He hates looking in the mirror after a bender, seeing the pudge beginning to form around his belly and the heavy creases under his eyes, but that hatred will never compare to the intense, burning loathing he feels when he remembers who he is without the alcohol.

 

So he keeps vodka in his thermos and beer under his bed, has two glasses of wine with his eggs for breakfast and pours Irish Cream Liquor in his coffee. He sneaks scotch at lunch, mixed in with the fruit punch in his hydroflask, and splits a six pack with his dad after dinner so he can be in bed by nine, eager to do it all again the next day. It's a ritual, Stan tells himself, just his routine. And it's not every day. Most days he'll only have a drink or two (or three. Or four.) and it keeps him going, running on the fuel of his buzz and the euphoria in his mind. If he stops drinking, he'll be sick, lethargic, and won't be able to continue doing all the shit he needs to do. Stan, for his part, refuses to admit that he has a problem.

 

It's seven thirty-something in the goddamn morning and he already wants to go home. His head hurts, pounding from the multitude of Bloody Mary's he drank the night before. The sounds of high schoolers slamming their doors and chit-chatting with their friends is really starting to piss him off, the noise too much for his senses. Stan feels as if he's about to fucking snap, so he takes another drink.

 

“Stan?” The voice to his left makes him jump three feet out of his skin, blood rushing to his head as he cringes and rubs at his temples. He had been so lost in thought that he didn't even realize it wasn't his locker he was standing at, moping like the pathetic loser he is. Wendy, on her end, looks as if she's running through a series of emotions. A little amused, a tad confused, but mostly concerned.

 

Shit , sorry- hi. Good morning.” He greets, awkwardly. Wendy hums, studying him with scarily intelligent eyes. She's not an idiot, well aware of the signs of Stan’s self-hate. She eyes his water bottle like it’s poison, clearly connecting the dots in her mind’s eye. They avoid the topic of Stan's drinking like the plague, almost as if it's an unspoken rule in their relationship. Unless, of course, Wendy’s pissed. 

 

“Hi.” She responds. “Are you, um, okay?” She looks up at him with big, concerned eyes, an expression that's uncharacteristically vulnerable and it makes Stan uneasy. He knows she's referring to their fight Friday night, but he's not in the mood to talk about it. Not now, not ever. Just thinking about it makes him feel sick to his stomach, whether it be with sadness or relief, he can't decide, but either way, he hates himself for it.

 

“I'm fine.” He says, all too quickly. Wendy studies him for a moment, her expression difficult to decipher.

 

“Okay,” she says, slowly. “Can you, um,” she takes a step closer to her locker and Stan immediately steps out of the way.

 

“Yeah, uh, sorry, I'll just, uh-”

 

“I’m sorry.” Wendy says. Stan’s eyes widen, his head tipped slightly to the side. 

 

“What are you sorry for?” He asks. 

 

“For fighting with you. I’m really, really sorry. I don’t want things to end between us, I just got scared because you’ve been so-“

 

“It’s fine.” Stan says, cutting her off. She doesn’t need to finish, he’s well aware of her next words. 

 

You’ve been so sad, Stan. To her, he’s always so fucking sad. Stan disagrees. How could he possibly be sad when he’s got the burn of liquor to keep him happy? Drunk people aren’t sad, they’re too much fun. 

 

“We’re totally good, right?” He asks. 

 

“Yeah.” Wendy says, smiling softly. “We’re totally good.” 

 

That smiles always makes his heart flutter. “I love you.” He mostly blurts it on instinct. Telling Wendy he loves her is like second nature at this point, he doesn't even think about it. Her face falls when he says it, guilt striking through his heart as he watches her lips press together, eyes cast toward her feet. He starts walking away, nervous energy bubbling through his blood and threatening to spill over. Wendy's voice calls to him again.

 

“I love you, too.” She says, weakly, and it does nothing but fuel the heaviness in his chest, heart dropping to the pit of his stomach. 

 

Wendy offers him a slight smile paired with sad eyes. Stan feels ten years older and a thousand times more exhausted as he leaves her. He considers seeking out Kyle to at least attempt to find comfort in the presence of another person, but part of him wonders if he's faking being sick again. He tends to do that after parties, complaining to his mother about a migraine or a stomach ache just to get out of going to school. Sheila always buys it, doting over him like a toddler as she brings him mountains upon mountains of chicken soup and allows him to play video games all day. It's not like it matters much. Kyle is smart and decently studious, capable of buckling down and doing his work when he needs to, so playing hooky every now and again doesn't do much in terms of affecting his grades, a skill Stan finds himself envious of. 

 

His next option is Kenny, who's most definitely getting high behind the alcoves, crouched next to a dumpster with a group of terrified sophomores, who will probably end up taking the fall if they all get caught. Stan isn't interested in associating with that shit show, he has his own illegal substances to worry about. It's then that Stan realizes how few friends he actually has. Kyle and Kenny. Those are the only two people he has an interest in hanging out with, outside of football or class. Jesus. What a lonely way to trudge through life. He leans against the nearest set of lockers he can find, drinking greedily from his water bottle. 

 

“God fucking dammit.” Says a nasally, bored voice from off to his side. Stan glances over to Craig Tucker, slouching into his hips, backpack slung over one shoulder, and looking as if he's this close to just pushing Stan out of his way. “Get out of my way, asshole.” Stan rolls his eyes, side stepping out of the way, clearing from the locker he had been slouched against.

 

“Give me a break, Craig. I'm too hungover to deal with your shit.” He lets his eyes flutter closed, leaning his head back to block out the intense fluorescent lights shining above him. The loud crash of a locker door slamming shut jars him out of his moment of peace, making his eyes snap open and his head whip in Craig's direction to glare at him.

 

“Whoops.” Craig says, bored and flat and not looking the least bit sorry. He's wearing a black t-shirt, the neckline stretched out, as if he's not even trying to hide the dark bruises along the column of his neck, and an oversized blue flannel. Stan wonders how many questions he's gotten, how many pointed looks have been thrown his way. He wonders if Craig answers them truthfully and the thought makes him cringe. Craig must notice Stan staring at his neck, because his frown deepens, brows pinching together. “Stop staring at me.” He says. 

 

“Sorry,” Stan says, immediately redirecting his gaze away from Craig and his multitude of hickeys. “It just looks like you got mauled.” Craig gives him an odd look, head tilted to the side as his hand hovers over the side of his neck. He grins, like the memories are flooding back to him.

 

“Weird, I wonder who could’ve done that.” He says. Stan’s attention snaps back to him. 

 

“I dunno.” He says. “But if you’re smart, I wouldn’t go spreading his name around.” Craig rolls his eyes. 

 

“I don’t need your threats, Stan. No one’s even asked.” He says. “You’re not as important as you think you are.” Stan grows quiet, lips pursed and gaze directed toward his feet. Craig side-eyes him, looking exasperated. “Are you just going to stand there looking pathetic?” He snaps.

 

“Dude, do you have to be such an asshole all the time?” Stan snaps back. Craig huffs and pounds his fist against his locker door, the loud crash ringing out through the hallway like a shotgun. Stan winces once again, the sound going straight to the throbbing in his head. His annoyance only grows when he hears Craig's amused snort.

 

“Sorry, did that bother you?” He asks and he sounds so snide that Stan just wants to punch him. “You're such a pussy, Jesus.” Stan knows his hands are trembling, can feel the pounding of his heart against his sternum, but he doesn't want to give Craig the satisfaction of his response, does not want to engage. Just ignore him , he tells himself, like a mantra, just fucking ignore him.

 

“God, fuck off,” he says, jaw set. Craig eyes him for a second, a strange glint behind his gaze.

 

“This is my locker.” Craig says. He raises his brows, stepping into Stan’s space. He’s absurdly tall, towering a good four or five inches over Stan’s head. “Move.” 

 

“Get out of my face, fag.” Stan says, pushing Craig’s chest forcefully. Craig stumbles back, his shoulder knocking into the locker. Stan had not intended to push him that hard, and the loud crash of metal is going to make his head spin. He takes another drink from his thermos. 

 

Craig grits his teeth, straightening himself up and staring at Stan with murder in his eyes. For a moment, he looks like he’s going to hit Stan in the face. He doesn’t, just sighs heavily and turns on his heel. As he walks away, he flips Stan off over his shoulder, tension filling the expanse of his back. Stan watches him go, unsure of what to do with himself. He feels like he should apologize for the aggression. He hadn’t intended to be a dick, his body moving faster than his brain, words passing his lips without a filter. 

 

When Stan gets home from school, the urge to drink himself to sleep is strong, tugging at his chest and swelling the pit of his stomach. His throat yearns for the burn of liquor, hands itching to wrap around the neck of a bottle. It's only seven pm, he's just gotten home from football practice, sweaty and spent. He'd suffered a particularly brutal tackle today, landing hard on his shoulder with a sickening thud and it's been tender ever since. The pack of ice he's holding against it isn't doing much good and neither is the abundance of ibuprofen he took not too long ago. Temptation boils in his blood, if not to forget about everything else going on in his life, then only to help with the ache in his tendons. So he texts Dad and tells him not to bother him for dinner, makes up a lie about how he'll eat later, but he needs to study, and reaches underneath his bed for the bottle of Malibu. Stan hates sugary shit like this, but it's all he has right now that'll get him drunk quickly. He doesn't have the heart to chug a six pack tonight, he'll save that for another day.

 

Drunk and tired, still swaying with his own self-loathing, he scrolls through his social media, bored with everything popped up along his feed. His Instagram mostly consists of other kids from school, the same kids he's grown up with, and none of them lead particularly interesting lives. It's mostly grainy selfies and shitty memes with the occasional nature picture thrown in the mix. Even drunk, Stan can't bring himself to enjoy it. So he switches to Snapchat, watching through everyone's stories twice and refreshing his feed over and over again. He has a few unopened snaps from his streaks and remembers that he still has to send those out, quickly taking a blurry picture of his ceiling and sending it out. Wendy texts him goodnight and he sends a moon emoji back, along with a heart. It goes on like this for a bit, scrolling and refreshing without much else to do. His drunk brain is moving at a weird place, bored and a little angry, but too stubborn to go to bed.

 

Ultimately, he doesn't feel as much shame as he typically would when he searches “K.Broflovski” in his Instagram, quickly clicking on Kyle's profile and scrolling through. Surprisingly, Kyle has a bit of a social media presence, mostly from how often he uses it. He's managed to accumulate nearly a thousand followers. It's kind of impressive to Stan, who really only has any sort of social media platform for the sake of having one. He almost never posts, and when he does it's generally a shitty picture of his dog or his friends. Kyle has somewhat of an aesthetic. His feed is mostly book pages and libraries, scenes of nature or album covers. There are group photos of himself posed with friends and family and one or two photos of Ike and him endeavoring on brotherly adventures, which usually means video games or a trip to the movies. But, every now and again, a selfie will pop up, and Stan always lingers on those the most.

 

Kyle is not an attractive person by design. He's certainly not ugly, but his features aren't anything that will turn heads. He's fair, pallid, with a light dusting of freckles on a large, hooked nose and a frizzy mess of auburn curls. His face is sharp with high cheekbones and a slim jaw, his body lithe. His eyes always look intense, intimidating with their sparks of intelligence and his brows are arched in such a way that his natural resting face appears to be judgemental and haughty. His fingers are long and slim, spindly, and his legs go on for miles. When he does post selfies, they're never anything special, typically with a hat covering his curls as he smiles widely into the camera. Stan's favorite isn't a selfie, exactly, but it's a lone picture of Kyle, huddled in a shopping cart outside of Walmart, face blank as he gives a peace sign to the camera. It's dark out and the photo is a little blurry, taken with flash, and from an objective standpoint, it's pretty shitty. But Stan likes it because of the memories it holds. It had been taken two summers ago, right before the start of their junior year, and they had gotten high with Kenny, huddled behind a super store at midnight, Stan shaking with paranoia over getting caught up until he was too fucked up to care. They had found a lone shopping cart in the parking lot, cryptic in its location, and Kyle thought it would be funny to crawl inside and be pushed around. Stan recorded the whole thing, watching with utter delight as Kenny pushed Kyle through an empty parking lot like a fucking idiot. The video isn't as amusing sober, but he's still glad he has the memory.

 

His eyes linger on that picture for just a moment too long, smiling stupidly to himself, before he continues with his scrolling. Eighty, ninety, one hundred likes -Stan will never understand the race for popularity on apps like this, but he finds them decently entertaining nonetheless. Kyle loves his presence, loves to post content people will enjoy, to keep up with his weird, inexplicable aesthetic. This is Stan's nightly ritual, looking over Kyle's page, hoping -for reasons he can't quite explain- that there will be a new post, preferably one containing his face. There's another picture, toward the bottom of his page, that Stan likes to linger on. It's another old photo, one Kenny took right before they started high school, of Stan and Kyle in front of Stark's Pond in August, arms around each other and huge smiles on their faces. The sun is setting behind them, leaving the two of them backlit with a yellow glow. Kyle is taller than him in this picture, taken right before Stan hit his growth spurt, and there are braces on his teeth. As Stan remembers, he had gotten them taken off a week after the picture was taken. The caption reads “My best friend > Yours #SuperBestFriends.

 

Stan stares at the photo for far too long, reading through the comments and scrolling through the likes. He remembers that day vividly, right at the end of summer break, carefree and ignorant. He misses that period of their lives, misses the summers of swimming in Stark’s pond and tossing the football around in their backyards. Now everything is about sports and parties and college applications, alcohol and disappointment. Stan has to wonder why, at eighteen years old, he already feels like his youth has slipped away.

 

Grumpy and exhausted, with an odd swell of guilt growing in his chest, Stan locks his phone, placing it on his bedside table and deciding that now is probably the right time to get to sleep. As he drifts off, tipsy and bitter, he finds his thoughts wandering between Wendy and Kyle and, oddly enough, Craig Tucker. Long legs and sneers, boney, guant, ugly in an almost beautiful way. He's not Wendy and he's not Kyle, he's not attractive or likeable -an asshole without any charm. And yet, Stan, heterosexual, quarterback Stan Marsh, feels himself being pulled to him like a moth to a flame. He wants to touch him again, to pin him down and kiss him until he's breathless, to bite and lick and stroke until he's withering, incoherent. Like he used to do with Wendy, like he can only dream with-

 

And those are the thoughts that keep him up until he's sober again.

Chapter Text

Craig is awake somewhat early, on a goddamn Monday morning, due to the smell of waffles wafting through the air. He's face down in his couch cushions; he must have fallen asleep there the night before . The BBC had subjected him to four fucking episodes of Doctor Who , which Craig had watched with all the distain he could muster. He's still wearing his clothes from the day before and he has absolutely no intention of changing for school today. Maybe he'll take a shower. Maybe . His mother is in the kitchen, piling fluffy, golden waffles on a plate. She shoves two candles into the top of the stack, one in the shape of a one and one in the shape of an eight . She pours a can of diet coke into a wine glass, which is lined with pink feathers on the stem and covered in ugly, glittery decals that read birthday girl . Craig thinks that glass is fucking hideous, but in a funny way. He sits up, yawning wildly and rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. His hair must be a mess. He can practically feel it sticking up every which way. His mom is softly humming the tune of Happy Birthday as she approaches him.

“Thanks mom,” Craig says, taking the paper plate from her hands and blowing out his candles. His mother smiles at him, running her fingers through his hair and massaging his scalp. She pinches his cheek lightly before saying,

“Happy birthday, honey.” and heading back into the kitchen. Craig takes his time with his breakfast, savoring the sticky syrup and warm, fluffy dough. Birthday waffles are a Tucker family tradition.

He does end up showering, but it’s begrudgingly and only because his mother told him he smelled like ‘the inside of a cow’s ass.’ His soap smells like roses. It’s some girly shit his sister insisted upon. At the time, Craig didn’t think it was bad enough to object. Now, however, he finds it disturbingly potent. On the other hand, he supposes it's better than sweat and a rancid accumulation of body odor, so whatever.

He comes back downstairs, wearing jeans and fresh underwear, but the same unwashed t-shirt. His hair is still sopping wet. He’s only stopping in for a diet coke, the presence of his family sitting around the table setting him on edge. 

“Good morning, faglord!” His sister shouts. Craig doesn’t remove his gaze from its hunt for soda, staring into the fridge as he says, voice flat,

“If you call me fag-lord one more fucking time, I’m going to set your room on fire. And you can’t do anything about it, it’s my birthday.” 

“That’s not true.” His mother says. “Craig Thomas Tucker, if you set fire to this fucking house, I swear to God-”

Fine .” Craig cuts in. “I’ll just beat her up.” 

From behind him, his dad scoffs. “Like you could throw a punch, queermo.” 

“You’re skinny like a twig.” Tricia says. “I could break you in half.” 

Diet Coke on his hand, Craig straightens, slamming the fridge door shut. A mean expression settles on his face, glaring into the universe. “Fuck you guys.” He says, voice seething with venom. 

“Jesus,” his mother says, arms crossed tightly over her chest. She rolls her eyes. “You’re such an edgy teenager. What do you gain from being pissed off all the time?” 

At that, Craig wants to laugh. It’s such a stupid question. He wonders how well his family would handle it if they were the ones constantly being picked on for their sexuality. He opens his can of soda, digging into the pocket of his jeans for his phone. There are three missed texts from Token, the time reading seven-ten in the morning. 

“God dammit.” He mutters. He turns, headed toward the front door. From over his shoulder, he flips his family off. 

“You better not fuck around at school today!” His mother calls. 

“And fix your attitude, asshole.” His dad adds. “If you’re just gonna be a pissy little crybaby, don’t bother coming home.” 

Craig does not respond, huffing heavily through his nose and slamming the door shut behind him. He hopes everyone in that house has a shit day. They would deserve it. 

“You're late.” Token says when Craig opens the car door. He looks up from his phone and offers a grin. “Happy birthday.” Craig just grunts as he climbs inside, shutting the door rather aggressively behind him.

Yo ,” Clyde shouts, pitching himself forward from the backseat. “My bro Craigory is a whole ass eighteen! You're an adult, dude!”

“Don’t call me your bro.” Craig says. “And definitely don’t call me Craigory.” 

Clyde rolls his eyes, like Craig’s requests do nothing but burden him.“What are you gonna do for your new found adulthood, dude?” He asks, excitedly, as Token begins to pull out of the driveway.

“Buy a pack of cigarettes and jerk off to World of Warcraft porn.” Craig deadpans. Clyde does not look amused.

“Craigothy, worse words have never been spoken.”

“Craigothy is just as bad as Craigory.”

“Craigua?”

“Shut the fuck up.”

“Craigward!”

Craig groans, pressing his index fingers to his temples. “Clyde, just fucking kill yourself. It would do me so many favors.”

“You know I can’t kill me, I’m too powerful.” Clyde says. “Besides, dude, you’re being really fucking lame. You’re an adult! The world is your oyster.” 

Craig scoffs. “Fuck off. I can’t do shit until I’m twenty-one, anyway.”

“Not true!” Clyde says. “You can apply for a credit card. Or pierce your nipples.” 

“I’m not gonna fucking do that.” Craig says. “What’s wrong with you?” 

“Piercing your nipples isn’t an out of the box suggestion.” Token chimes in. “You’ve impulsively decided to pierce yourself before.” Craig pauses, scowling at the road in front of him and sucking his tongue. 

“I was trashed.” He justifies. Token laughs. 

“Okay, man. Whatever you say.” He says. 

“Come on, dude. You gotta give me something, or else you’re just a loser.” Clyde says. Craig rolls his eyes.

“Maybe I'll invest in a better jack off lube. I’m getting sick of using Vaseline,” He offers. “But that's only assuming someone gives me money today.” 

“Yeah, I wanted to hear about your masturbation habits this morning.” Token says. Clyde snickers from the backseat. “Also, there's a card for you in the glove box.” 

Fuck yeah . Craig thinks, as he opens up the glove box. Token has never failed to get him a fucking sweet gift on his birthday and a card means money. There’s a red envelope sitting inside, his name written across it in neat handwriting. When he opens it up, he finds a stack of twenty dollar bills, adding up to two hundred dollars.

“Damn.” He mutters. Token has for sure given him fifty dollars for his birthday, but two hundred ? God, he can buy, like, four or five video games with this. He shoves the wad of cash into his pocket. “Thank you.” He says, trying his best to sound grateful. It's kind of a lame. His voice is flat and dumb and his stupid brain doesn’t know how to Form a Feeling. 

“Read the card.” Token says. 

It’s a pretty generic birthday card, but there’s a note at the bottom in Token’s handwriting. 

“Happy birthday, shart stain.” Craig reads. “You are a parasite. Hope your mom had fun pushing you out of her vag eighteen years ago.” Craig pauses. “What if I told you I was a c-section.” He says. 

“Dude, then you’re just a fucking tumor.” Clyde replies. 

“Were you?” Token asks. 

“No.” Craig says. 

“Then I hope your mom had fun pushing you out of her vag eighteen years ago.” 

Craig stares at him. “Wow, that’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. I think I’m gonna cry.”

They pick up Tweek within five minutes, who seems significantly more prepared than usual as he rushes out to the car, tray of coffee in hand and messenger bag tucked safely under his shoulder. His hands are shaking bad, but the look in his eyes is less frazzled than it’s been in days. He manages to open the car door on the first try.

“I, hhh, brought everyone coffee.” He says, passing the tray around. Craig doesn't like coffee, but he accepts it anyway, knowing full well that if he turns the gift down, Tweek might have a meltdown. “Oh! And I made cupcakes. Um, they're really for Craig but I fucked up the portion size so...” he pulls a Tupperware container out of his bag, filled to the brim with more mini cupcakes than Craig can count. “There's, arg, enough for everyone.”

“Oh, fuck it up , Tweekers!” Clyde shouts, practically ripping off the top of the container and shoving a cupcake down his gullet.

“Thanks, Tweek.” Craig says, offering him as genuine of a smile as he can manage. Tweek just squawks out something unintelligible and nods profusely, shaking like a leaf.

Clyde clears his throat noisily from the backseat, mouth still filled with cupcake, making his cheeks bulge like a cartoon. He swallows, harsh and loud, so that everyone knows he's just finished his food. “So, sir Craigothy,”

“Jesus fucking Christ.” Craig mutters under his breath.

“Prepare yourself to be blown away, because I'm giving you the best gift of all.”

“Is it your silence?” Token asks, deadpan. Clyde huffs and places a hand to his chest in faux offense.

“Not at all, my good bitch . Even better, actually.” Tweek laughs at that, an honest to God belly laugh that has even Craig cracking a smile. Not that it's particularly funny, but seeing Tweek so utterly amused is entertaining in and of itself.

“What the fuck could be better than you shutting up?” Tweek asks. The expression on Clyde's face is pitiful, like he's about to start bawling any second. The temptation to allow it to happen is strong, but ultimately, Craig is more interested in sparing everyone else the trouble of trying to calm Clyde down, so he decides to take pity on him.

“Shut up for a second.” He says, voice stern. He turns in his seat to look Clyde in the eye. “What are you planning?” Clyde, for his part, instantly perks up, the beam sprawled across his face blinding.

“Well,” he's grinning hard. Craig doesn't trust it. “My dad's going out of town to meet his mistress in Utah, so my house is empty tonight.” There's a pause as all of them take it in. Empty house...

Oh.

“No.” Craig starts. “Clyde, you're not planning to-”

Party time, motherfuckers! ” The car is silent as they pull into Jimmy's driveway. It's Craig who breaks it.

“It's a fucking Monday .” He complains. “And I’m still recovering from Token’s party.” Clyde scoffs. 

“That was, like, two weeks ago.” He argues.

Token scratches the back of his neck, looking hesitant. “I have a math test tomorrow, so...”

“Uh, yeah, I've gotta, like, work, or whatever.” Tweek says. Clyde frantically looks between the three of them, brows drawn in a plea.

“When did you all get so fucking lame?” He whines. “We got fucked up every other day last year!”

“Yeah, in Token's basement while we hate watched Star Trek reruns and took bong rips until we passed out. We didn’t drink ourselves sick on a Monday night.” Craig says.

“Come on ,” he whines. “It's your eighteenth birthday. I’m not talking about a massive rager, just the gang and a few other people getting fucked up. Can't you spare having a little fun?” Craig wants to respond, but he’s interrupted by the passenger side door opening.

“W-w-what’s Craig not being fun about?” Jimmy asks.

“Yo, Jimmy, my favorite guy!” Clyde says. “Lemme ask you; how do you feel about getting fucked up tonight?” Jimmy hums. Token exists the car in favor of wrapping an arm around Jimmy’s waist, lowering him into the backseat.

“W-well, on the o-o-one hand, I do like getting trashed.” He says, closing the door behind him. Clyde whoops in victory. “But on the o-o-other hand, we have school tomorrow.” Clyde boos. Jimmy grins back at him. “I’m j-just f-f-fu-fucking with you. I’d like to get absolutely hammered.”

“Woo-hoo!” Clyde says. “Jimmy’s on my side.” 

“Jimmy doesn’t count, he’s literally retarded.” Craig says. “No offense, Jimmy.” 

“N-none taken. I am, quite literally, re-re-retarded. I’m so retarded, I c-c-couldn’t even say retarded.” 

“Boo!” Clyde says. “Everyone is lame but me and the retarded kid.” 

“Can we do it any other day?” Token asks, repositioned in the driver's seat and pulling out of the driveway. “Like Friday?”

“My dad will be home tomorrow night, dude. This is all we got. Plus, today is Craig’s birthday.” 

Craig stares out at the road in front of him, brows knit. He wishes Clyde's father had chosen to meet some girl an entire state over on a Friday, but he supposes the Monday of his birthday is equally as convenient, and he finds Clyde's adamance toward throwing him a little birthday party thoughtful, in a way. Still, a school night isn’t really the time to be-

“Mm, fuck it.” Craig says. “Yeah, okay. Let’s get trashed.” 

Clyde hollers in his excitement.

Entering school is weird. People from elementary school are stopping him in the halls to wish him a happy birthday. The attention is a lot to handle. He’s used to attention at school, but not like this. His brain malfunctions when he has to act like a normal person, stuttering like a bad record the second he’s forced to utter a response that’s not a sneer or a raise of his middle finger. When people are mean to him, Craig can walk it off, but politeness and friendly greetings turn him into an anxious wreck. Craig isn’t sure how people like Clyde and Wendy Testaburger and other popular, extroverted types manage to have so many friends. Craig has spoken to a grand total of ten people today, not including his family, and he’s already drained and irritable. It’s only eight o’clock in the morning. Red even gives him a gift, a stack of Avengers comics from two-thousand eleven. When her back is turned, Craig throws them in the trash. If it’s not Superman or Deadpool, he doesn’t want it. 

Kenny is waiting for him in homeroom when the bell finally rings. He looks like he hasn’t showered in a few days and his face is blotchy. There are dark purple bags under his eyes like he hasn’t slept in a while. He’s wearing a skirt with his ratty orange hoodie.

“What the fuck are you wearing?” Craig asks. Kenny’s legs are hairy. Also, it’s nearing the end of September, it’s getting cold out. Kenny grins at him. He smells funky now that they’re this close. 

“It’s fucking coture, dude. Don’t you know anything about fashion?” Craig has no fucking clue what coture means, and he’s pretty sure Kenny doesn’t either. Kenny cracks a grin. “I’m fucking with you. I woke up in the walmart parking lot like forty minutes ago and this is what I was wearing.” 

“Jesus fuck Kenny, if you’re gonna lie to his face twice, at least make it convincing.” Clyde says. Kenny turns to him, the grin on his face slipping into something stony and uncomfortably serious. 

“I’m not fucking joking.” He says. He turns back to Craig, grinning again. “I hear it’s your birthday, Tucker.” 

“Jesus Christ, who are you, Jekyll and Hyde? What the fuck are you on?” Kenny grins, sitting straight up in his seat and tapping his fingers against his desk. 

“Dude, I did enough drugs in the past seven hours to kill a fucking horse. You don’t wanna know .” 

“That’s terrifying.” Clyde says. Kenny raises his brows, grinning like a maniac. 

“It was exhilarating.” He says. Clyde shifts awkwardly in his seat, clearing his throat.

“We’re having a party tonight. You wanna come?” He offers. Craig wants to throw his head back and groan. Although he isn’t opposed to inviting Kenny, he is opposed to inviting whatever gaggle of shifty people Kenny will want to bring with him. 

“On a Monday?” He asks. 

“It’s my birthday.” Craig says. “Also, fuck off. You woke up in a Walmart parking lot not knowing who you are this morning. Don’t start giving us shit about a stupid party.” 

Kenny whistles low, eyes wide with ideas as he leans in closer to them. 

“No judgement,” he says. “I just might have a fucking treat for you guys.” Craig and Clyde glance at each other, not quite trusting Kenny’s tone. He grins, as if he can read their minds. “I’ll find you later today.” Kenny murmurs. “I owe you a birthday present, Tucker.” 

As lunch rolls around and Craig is immersed in his free, shitty school lunch of gray chicken nuggets and soggy fries, he catches sight of Clyde laughing it up with his meat-headed football buddies a few feet away. The lunch room, as per usual, is obnoxiously loud, so Craig can't make out what they're saying. He hopes to God that Clyde isn’t getting overzealous and inviting his football friends to Craig’s party. Marsh is, of course , only a small fraction of that group of fucklords, but Craig keeps his glare glued to him anyway. If that asshole dares showing up to his birthday party, Craig will not hesitate to kick his ass (even though he's about one hundred and twenty pounds soaking wet and Marsh could very easily overpower him.) The group disperses not long after Clyde releases a particularly obnoxious laugh, loud enough to be heard over the roar of the lunch room. As he approaches the lunch table Craig is still glaring.

“What?” He asks. He glances behind himself, confused. “Am I not allowed to have other friends now or something?”

“No, what? That wasn’t for you.” Craig says, blinking away his stare. 

“You’re just glaring at the universe, then?” Clyde asks. Craig flips him off. Clyde sits down next to him. “I need to know who your boyfriend is.”

A hush falls over their table as Token and Tweek's heads snap up in sudden interest. Craig pales, a pit forming in his stomach.

“What are you talking about?” He asks, for once in his life, happy for his natural monotone, making him sound nonchalant.

“Dude,” Clyde says. “Come on, we all saw that fucking bite mark on your neck after Token's party. I just wanna know so I can invite him over.” Craig glances at his friends' faces, Token curious and Tweek concerned.

“I don't have a boyfriend.” He says firmly, desperately trying not to search for Stan's face in the crowd. “I didn't- he wasn't anyone. I barely remember his face.” Except it's a lie. He spends every waking moment remembering that face, and the feel of his lips and his body, how his hands felt on Craig's waist and his warm breath against his skin. God , he hates himself for wanting to feel it all again. There's a moment, he thinks, where he sees Tweek's face perk up with relief, but it passes just as quickly as it had appeared. Craig thinks he may have even imagined it all together. Clyde studies him. 

“So you’re telling me you lost your V card to a stupid hookup?” He asks. 

“Yeah, whatever.” Craig says, glaring down at his lunch tray. His fist balls around the handle of his plastic fork. He’s still pretty confused on what constitutes virginity, or what steps he has to take to lose it. Whatever he did at Token’s party certainly didn’t involve any dicks in assholes, but he did walk away from it feeling different, in the weirdest way. “Can we just fucking drop it?” 

 

“Hey, Tucker.” Says a voice behind him, making Craig jump three feet in the air. He whips his head around, eyes wide, to be greeted with Kenny. 

 

“Jesus fuck, you almost gave me a heart attack.” He says, and Kenny grins. 

 

“Don’t joke about heart attacks.” He says, but he’s smiling, so Craig isn’t sure how serious he is. “Shit ain’t fun.” 

 

“What do you want?” He asks. 

 

Kenny shrugs, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Come with me.” 

 

Craig hesitates, but ultimately ends up following Kenny outside. They walk in silence for a long while, headed toward the dumpsters behind the gym. Not a lot of people hang out over there, mostly due to the smell, but Craig likes to smoke and shoot the shit sometimes and that’s where Kenny sells drugs to freshmen. When they arrive, Kenny pulls a pack of Marlboro Reds from the pocket of his hoodie and hands Craig a cigarette. He takes it without question. They smoke in silence for a moment, Kenny staring off into space and Craig waiting for him to break it. 

 

“Have you ever met God?” Kenny asks, finally. Craig takes a long drag from his cigarette and stares, brows furrowed. Kenny’s eyes look glassy and distant, as if he’s on a whole other plane of existence and he’s waiting to come back to Earth. Finally, his eyes snap to Craig and it’s like he’s stone cold sober, which he hasn’t actually been in who knows how long. “I have a present for you. Take enough and you’ll see God.” 

 

“What the hell are you talking about?” Craig asks. Kenny just grins. 

 

“Craig,” he says. “It’s your birthday, man. Let me help you out.” He reaches into his backpack and pulls out a ziplock bag filled with- 

 

Oh shit

 

Craig’s been dying to try those

 

“You can have as much as you want, on the house.” He says. 

 

Craig glances at the mushrooms, and reaches out for them, but stops before he can take them from Kenny’s hand. “What’s the catch?” He asks, finally. Kenny grins, taking a long drag from his cigarette.

 

“I wanna join you, obviously.” He says. Craig shrugs. 

 

“Sure.” He agrees. 

 

“I want Stan and Kyle to join, too.” Kenny says. Craig’s expression darkens. 

 

“Absolutely not.” He says, firmly. Kenny raises his brows. 

 

“No problem.” He says. “Then these will be a hundred dollars.” 

 

Craig squeezes his eyes shut, sighing heavily. “Why would they want to hang out with me?” He asks. 

 

“They wouldn’t.” Kenny says. “But I want them there.” 

 

“It’s my birthday.” Craig says. 

 

“And these are my drugs.” Kenny argues. “I’m offering them for free, dude. You just have to accept my terms.” 

 

Craig eyes the bag again. It looks like there’s a lot in there and he wouldn’t even know where to start with it. Having Kenny around to trip sit seems like the best option, all things considered, but the idea of having Stan so fucking close again -

 

No. He can’t do that. He hasn’t spoken to the guy since their incident two or so weeks ago and he isn’t about to start now. What happened was a one time thing, a weird, drunken mistake. Craig doesn’t fuck straight boys and he doesn’t fuck Stan Marsh. Stan Marsh certainly can’t fuck him . Even if he drools over the thought. Kenny eyes him and Craig realizes he hasn’t said anything for a while. He doesn’t know what the fuck to say. 

 

“This feels like a bad idea.” He decides on. Kenny’s grin grows impossibly wide. 

 

“Bad ideas make the best memories.” He leans his head to the side and his eyes are so glossy that Craig can’t tell if the movement is on purpose or not. With Kenny, it’s hard to tell whether he’s drugged up or just fucking weird. “Kyle needs to loosen up and Stan wants an excuse to see you.” 

 

Craig feels like his heart just dropped. His body tenses and he stares at Kenny with wide, panicked eyes. The way Kenny looks back at him, knowing smirk gracing his face, eyes glinting with intelligence, is almost too much to bear. “Why?” He asks, laughing nervously. He hopes to God it comes across as bitter. “So he can humiliate me?” 

 

Kenny pulls out another cigarette and places it between his teeth. He doesn’t say anything for a moment, flicking his lighter to life and taking a long, slow drag. Craig watches him like a hawk. 

 

“I get it. You think I’m stupid.” He says. He’s staring down at the cherry of his cigarette, thoughtfully, grin plastered on his face. His tone strikes something in Craig’s chest, breaking it open to pierce his soul. Kenny glances back up at him, eyes glimmering like he’s just peered into the face of God. 

 

“What are you talking about?” Craig asks, unease laced in his tone. Kenny’s grin makes his heart race, his throat clenched as he watches him blow a puff of smoke from the corner of his mouth. It all feels like too fucking much.  

 

“I’m not good at much.” He mutters, dropping his half smoked cigarette to the ground and stomping it out with the heel of his converse. “But I know secrets. Think about my offer, okay?” 

 

Craig watches him walk away, a bitter taste settling in his mouth. In all truth, he’s never believed Kenny to be stupid. The McCormick family is known to be off, strange and filled with secrets no one in their little mountain town can quite comprehend, but Kenny is something else entirely. What deity Kenny has wrapped around his finger, Craig isn’t sure, but he knows for a fact that he doesn’t want to fuck with it. He stays there until the bell rings, staring at his shoes and pondering. Even as he starts his trek to class, he’s so lost in thought that he doesn’t notice when another body is walking toward him, broad and strong, and he collides right into him. 

 

Shit! ” Craig exclaims, stumbling backwards and feeling as if reality has just been knocked back into him. He glances up to be faced with the vibrant blue eyes of Stan Marsh, hands tucked into the pockets of his sweat shirt and looking equally as dumbfounded as Craig feels. “Watch it.” He snaps and Stan’s stupid expression darkens. 

 

“You bumped into me, asshole.” He says, sounding drained. Craig clenches his teeth and crosses his arms over his chest, glaring down at the gravel. 

 

“You smell like booze.” Craig says, wrinkling his nose. Stan scoffs. 

 

“And you reek like fucking cigarettes.” He retorts. Craig scowls, eyes fixated on the concrete beneath his feet. 

 

“Whatever, just move.” He mumbles, going to push his way past him, but he’s stopped by a strong hand clamped over his bicep. A jolt of electricity travels down his spine. 

 

“The fuck do you think you’re going?” Stan asks, voice deep enough to make Craig’s head spin. 

 

“Get off me.” Craig says, flinching back in an attempt to tear his arm away. It doesn’t work; Stan’s grip is strong and unwavering, clamping down harder around his arm. 

 

“I asked you a question.” Stan says, his tone making shivers run through Craig’s body. “Where the fuck do you think you’re going?” Craig halts in his spot, pursing his lips into a sour expression. He raises his eyes to meet Stan’s, staring at him questioningly. 

 

“Class.” He says. “Where else would I be going?” The sturdy grip around his arm is starting to make Craig’s head spin. Tilting his head to the side, Stan fixes him with a crooked smirk, the kind of thing that, paired with striking blue eyes and strong hands, courses through Craig’s body like the blood in his veins. The shiver that runs through him is visible and completely uncontrollable. 

 

“Without saying excuse me?” Stan asks. “Maybe you wanna apologize for running into me.”

 

“Apologize-“ Craig starts, brows lowering in annoyance. He tries, and fails, once again to jerk is arm free. “You entitled douche, why the fuck would I apologize to you?”

 

Stan raises a brow, tugging Craig closer to him, which, in turn, makes Craig’s heart palpitate in his chest. He sucks in a deep breath, staring at Stan in shock. “Maybe because I could beat your fucking ass if you don’t.” Stan says, voice gruff and low. It makes Craig’s cheeks burn. 

 

There isn’t a doubt in Craig’s mind that Stan’s capable of beating him to a bloody pulp, which is both terrifying and oddly thrilling. He can’t tell if he’s quaking from fear or adrenaline, but he’s certain that his pathetic little shivers are doing nothing to deter Stan’s aggression. His jaw shakes, knees trembling. Stan’s stupid grip on his arm is getting to be painfully tight. Craig is so on edge that he doesn’t think twice before collecting the saliva in his mouth and spitting it directly into Stan’s face. Of course, this does not come before his brain completely malfunctions and forces him to stupidly exclaim, 

 

“Fag!” 

 

Which causes Stan to curse, flinching so hard his grip on Craig’s arm loosens, allowing Craig to free himself from Stan’s grasp. He jerks his arm away with such force that he stumbles, tripping awkwardly over his own two feet. His eyes linger on Stan’s arms for just a second too long, heart rate going into overdrive. 

 

“What the fuck!” Stan shouts, and his voice raised and his expression set in rage. He wipes at his face with the sleeve of his jacket, a display that is, shamefully, amusing to watch. Craig laughs, which only seems to make Stan’s body tighten more, his expression one of pure anger. It would be hot if he weren’t so capable of, and so willing to, beat the ever-loving shit out of Craig. 

 

(Not that it isn’t hot. It’s still very, very hot.) 

 

He looks back up at Craig, who has yet to retreat, frozen in his spot with his eyes fixated on the display in front of him. The anger set deep in Stan’s eyes and laced into his posture is palpable, so thick Craig can almost taste it. That gaze makes Craig’s body run with jitters. 

 

“You don’t want to hurt me.” He says. “Or else I’ll tell-“

 

“Tell?” Stan asks. “Tell who fucking what? ” His words come across as more of a challenge than a question. Craig swallows thickly, forcing himself to hold his ground. 

 

“I’ll tell everyone you’re just as much of a fucking fag as I am.” 

 

When Stan’s face pales, eyes wide with terror, Craig feels an overwhelming sense of victory come over him. He grins, crossing his arms over his chest as if he’s just won. The victory is short lived, however, as he watches the pure fear written across Stan’s face morph into rage. Craig doesn’t have much time to react before he sees Stan pull his fist back and throw it directly into Craig’s face. 

 

“Mother fucker! ” He shouts, stumbling backwards and clutching the bridge of his nose. The center of his face throbs, traveling outward like a sun burst. Hot rays of pain kiss his cheeks. He pulls his hand back, checking for blood. It’s clean, luckily. “You just fucking hit me.” He says, and lets his eyes flick back up to meet Stan’s.

 

He looks just as surprised as Craig, staring at his hands like he doesn’t believe what he just did. In a flash of white hot rage, Craig barrels toward him, knocking him to the ground. Stan falls with a nasty oof and stares up at him with wide, pitiful eyes. Craig has no clue what he’s doing. The last time he got in a fight was the fifth grade, but he feels powerful like this. Running on aggression and instinct, he goes for Stan’s neck. He doesn’t make it, however, because Stan’s hands clamp down around his wrists, his grip too sturdy to loosen. Craig gasps as he’s flipped over onto his back, hitting the ground hard enough to knock the wind out of him. He squeezes his eyes shut, preparing himself for another hit. 

 

The hit never comes. Stan looms over him, hesitating, as if he’s unsure how they even got themselves here. Craig is too winded and dumbstruck to move. He stares at Stan for a second, studying his eyes, blue and vibrant, and the curve of his lips. In a rush of stupidity, of complete and utter thoughtlessness, he leans up and kisses him. Stan doesn’t pull away. He lets out a sharp noise of surprise, but otherwise melts into it, letting his eyes flutter closed and opening his mouth to deepen the kiss. Craig’s hand cups his cheek. His skin is scratchy with the beginnings of stubble. He smells like beer and cologne. His breath tastes potent, like liquor. It’s gross and it’s wrong and it makes Craig feel like he’s floating in the clouds. He never wants to come down. 

 

Stan is the one who breaks the kiss, but his face is still so close, lips brushed together as the heavy pants of their breath mixes with the late September air. He’s staring down at Craig with a dazed, dopey expression, eyes shining like he’s just kissed heaven. A swell of pride fills Craig’s chest. Stan clears his throat, pushing himself up off the ground. He can’t seem to meet Craig’s eyes. 

 

Craig doesn’t move for a moment, stuck laying flat on his back and watching as Stan’s figure looms above him. His hands are shoved in his pockets, his gaze directed toward the horizon. “Please don’t tell anyone about this.” He whispers and he sounds so pitiful that Craig almost wants to laugh. He doesn’t. 

 

“Okay,” he says instead and his voice is just as weak and just as strained. His face feels warm, no doubt flushed with a plethora of emotions. 

He’s instantly convinced there’s something wrong with him. Physical violence should not be making him feel horny. This is reminiscent of their last encounter, which is ridiculous. But God, does Stan make him feel like jelly, all strong and dominant. He should be on magazine covers with that body and those blue eyes. 

 

“Come to Clyde’s tonight.” He blurts, and that seems to peak Stan’s interest. Craig stands, brushing the gravel off his clothes. Looking into Stan’s face is making him blush. “It’s my birthday. Kenny wants you there.” 

 

“You having a party or something?” There’s a grin etched into his face, like this is all some big joke.

 

“Kinda.” He says. 

 

“I actually have plans tonight,” Stan says, scratching the back of his neck. “With Kyle, so-”

 

“Bring him with you.” Craig insists. “Kenny’s only going to give me free drugs if you’re both there.”

 

“What kind of drugs?” Stan asks, his brows raised in interest.  

 

“Mushrooms.” Craig says. “I’ve never done them. I want to. But if you’d rather spend your night jacking Kyle off-“

 

“We don’t - ugh . Shut up or I’ll fucking punch you again.” Stan threatens. Instinctively, Craig’s hand goes to cup the bridge of his nose. It still feels tender. 

 

“Do it, please. ” Craig says. “Fuck around and see what happens. I’m not above pressing assault charges.” Stan lets out an annoyed hmrph, but otherwise stays silent. His face is set in a glare. 

 

“Fuck you.” Stan spits. “I’m not going to your stupid fucking birthday party.”

 

“Why?” Craig asks. 

 

Why!” Stan exclaims. “You’re a bitch, dude. You just threatened to press charges on me! Why the fuck would I want to go out of my way to see you?”

 

Craig stays silent, lips pursed and arms crossed tightly over his chest. Stan’s staring at him like he’s an infection, rotten and unpleasant, something he’d rather be rid of. Craig is focused on his arms, his shoulders hunched in frustration, his eyes hardened with discontent. 

 

“Why the fuck did you let me kiss you?” He asks. Surprise travels through Stan’s face, softening the anger that had once been placed in his features. Craig feels the corners of his lips twitch, threatening to tilt upward. 

 

“I-“ Stan starts, but Craig cuts him off. 

 

“Why did you go out of your way to fuck m-“ he can’t finish, however, because suddenly Stan’s on him, hand clamped firmly around Craig’s mouth. His eyes are wide with panic. 

 

Shut up.” He hisses, voices dropped to a hushed whisper. Craig struggles to get out of his grasp, squirming as much as he can, but the effort is futile. He settles for glaring, eyes boring holes into Stan’s skin. “Listen to me very fucking carefully: Token’s party never happened . You and I? Nothing. We’ve never been involved. Got it?” 

 

Craig stays still and silent, glaring at Stan until he finally removes his hand from his mouth. “Sure.” He agrees, making Stan’s shoulders relax. Craig watches him, lips pursed slightly. He crosses his arms over his chest. “But it did.” He continues. Stan tenses again. “And we were. And you just let me kiss you, so I guess it’s safe to say you want it to happen again.”

 

A range of emotions pass through Stan’s expression, a bundle of conflict settled deep in his eyes and the turn of his lips. He’s quiet for a while, eyes directed toward the ground. When he finally opens his mouth to speak, all he says is. “I have a girlfriend, Craig.” 

 

Craig snorts. “Again? How’s that working out for you?” He asks. 

 

There’s a stretch of silence that feels like eternity, Stan staring at nothing, as if his brain has completely shut down, and Craig studying Stan’s face. He sighs, heavily, kicking awkwardly at the ground as he shoves his hands in his pockets. “Okay.” He says, finally, voice barely above a whisper. He meets Craig’s eyes and his expression is something else, disturbing and sad and hard to look at. Craig almost feels bad for him. “I’ll come to your party. But this doesn’t mean, like, y’know,” Craig scoffs, crossing his arms over his chest. 

 

“Trust me, I know. I just want the fucking drugs.” He says. 

 

Stan rolls his eyes. “Cool,” he says, voice sounding bitter, as if he’s hurt. “I guess I’ll see you tonight, then.” 

 

Craig watches him go, glaring at the back of his head as if it’s personally wronged him. His lips are still tingling, though, and his chest feels full. His nose is definitely going to bruise. 

 

Craig is still thinking hard about Stan and drugs during his bus ride home. Next to him, seated by the window and nervously chewing at his nails, Tweek is jittering bad. He looks pale, gaunt, thin like he hasn’t eaten in a while. Despite the autumn chill in the air, beads of perspiration line his forehead. About five minutes into the ride, Tweek lets out an awful wail, drawing the attention of about half the bus, and slams his head against the window. Craig laughs. 

 

“What the fuck did you do that for?” He asks. Tweek seems embarrassed. 

 

“Don’t fucking stare at me, man, it gives me the jitters.” 

 

Craig hums, turning his attention toward the bus seat in front of him. 

 

“Are you going to Clyde’s tonight?” He asks, attempting as casual of conversation as he can manage without looking his friend in the face. 

 

“Ugh,” Tweek responds, and Craig spares a glance in his direction. “What did I fucking say about staring at me? Mind your damn business!” 

 

“Jesus Christ , okay, sorry.” He throws his hands up in defeat, shoulders raised and cheeks tinting pink. God, this kid is so fucking weird. 

 

“Fuck, uh, I dunno. How many people are going?” Craig shrugs as casually as he can manage. 

 

“Shit if I know. Clyde promised nothing big, but he’s a fucking dickwad so I guess we’ll see.” Tweek grunts again. 

 

“I hate people.” 

 

“I know.” Craig sighs. “I’m in the same boat there.” He can feel Tweek’s eyes on him, trying desperately to peer into his soul. 

 

“Who’s staring now?” Craig asks. 

 

“Gah! Fuck you!” Tweek quickly looks away, fidgeting in his seat. 

 

“Look dude, come or don’t come, I won’t judge you either way, but it could be kind of cool to actually have you around this time. You always bail and it’s getting lame.” Tweek huffs next to him. 

 

“I’m not going to a party with a bunch of fucking people there.” He squirms around a little in his seat, vigorously picking at himself. “But I don’t want to bail on your birthday. That would be lame.” 

 

“So…?”

 

So, hang out with me, or whatever. I don’t know. I have to go to Kenny’s, but after that I’m free.” 

 

“Can I look at you now?” Craig asks and Tweek is quiet for a moment, squirming around with his head bowed. 

 

“I f-fucking guess.” Craig turns to him and notices how torn up his hands look, bloody at the cuticles and peeling around his nails. 

 

“I can come to Kenny’s with you. I wanted to talk to him anyway.” Tweek’s head snaps up and he gives him a long look. 

 

“I don’t think he - nng- has any weed right now. None he’s willing to sell, anyway.” Craig shakes his head. 

 

“I don’t need any weed.” He says. Tweek’s gaze grows even more peculiar, but he doesn’t say anything. Instead, he averts his eyes back to his nails, picking at them with new found focus. 

 

The bus stop just on the other side of the train tracks is the first one in South Park. It’s about four blocks from Kenny’s house. Tweeks keeps a pair of headphones jammed in his ears the entire way, refusing to say one word to Craig. When they reach Kenny’s front yard, Tweek turns to him with intensity. 

 

“You can’t judge me, man.” He says. His voice is loud, raised to a volume and that has Craig wincing. “You have to promise . And you can’t tell anyone about this, either.” 

 

Craig isn’t an idiot. There’s only ever one reason to go to Kenny’s, and it’s to buy drugs. He didn’t assume Tweek was here to shoot the shit. But the look he’s been given suggests that he’s about to step into something heavy. He nods once. They proceed. 

 

It’s Karen McCormick who answers the door. She’s tall now, taller than Tweek, and her hair looks dirty. There’s a glower on his face that makes Craig feel a little uncomfortable. Tricia talks about Karen McCormick sometimes and she never says anything good. Craig has never spoken to her apart from a brief “is Kenny home?” so he has no way of knowing whether or not Tricia’s accusations of her being a “tweaker fucking bitch” are true. She sighs. 

 

“Kenny!” She shouts. “It’s for you.” She nods her head inside, gesturing for them to follow, and they do, although it’s somewhat reluctant on Craig’s end. When Kenny comes into view, she swiftly leaves. Out of sight, out of mind. Good, and thank God. Craig doesn’t intend on interacting with twelve year old girls, anyway. 

 

Kenny is shirtless but he’s still wearing that damn skirt. Somehow, he looks even more filthy than he did at school. 

 

“You’re gonna have to come back later.” He says and Tweek groans. “Sorry man, but my parents aren’t home and I’m not allowed in the shed.” 

 

“What?” Tweek asks, voice loud and eyes wide. He threads his fingers through his hair, grabbing fistfuls and tugging harshly. Craig cringes, wondering what kind of damage Tweek might be doing to his poor scalp. “No, no , that’s not fucking right. My parents should’ve called earlier.”

 

“Dude, c’mon, this isn’t a pharmacy.” Kenny says. 

 

“You gotta help me out, man!” Tweek says, desperately clutching at Kenny’s shoulder, bug-eyed and lip sticking out in a pout. “Please, please ? Fuck, I’m desperate here!” 

 

Kenny lets out a low breath, raising his brows in surprise. “Fuck.” He mutters, batting Tweek away from him. He turns his gaze to Craig. “What’s the deal with your party tonight?” He asks. 

 

Don’t change the fucking subject!” Tweek practically screeches. Kenny, however, seems unfazed. He puts up his hand, not even sparing Tweek a second glance. 

 

“What?” Craig asks. Kenny fixes him with a look, eyes questioning. “I don’t fucking care. Bring whoever you want.” Kenny grins. He turns to Tweek, who looks like he’s about to explode. 

 

“My folks have some extra shit laying around, but I’ll have to charge you extra. My dad will kick my ass the second he sees it’s gone if I don’t have the money to back it.” He says. 

 

“Yeah.” Tweek replies, holding his trembling hands in front of his face. He takes a step back, giving Kenny room to breathe. “Fuck, yeah, that’ll work. I’ll take anything.”

 

Kenny grins, turning on his heel and heading toward the back of the house. This leaves Tweek and Craig stuck in the living room, completely up to their own devices. The couch is stained and it smells like rotting death, the floor covered in crushed, empty cans of beer. Tweek’s eyes are downcast, focused on his feet. He keeps bouncing on his heels and tugging at the sleeves of his shirt. 

 

“Are you okay?” He asks and watches Tweek visibly tense. “You’ve been weird. Like, more than normal.” 

 

“I’m out of my stuff.” Tweek says. His movements halt, staring down at the floor with a scowl. There’s a stain on the carpet that looks suspiciously like vomit. “I don’t know what happened. I thought I had enough to last the rest of the month.” 

 

For a second, Craig is tempted to press further. That thought is fleeting, however, because the moment it pops into his brain, Kenny’s coming back, carrying a brown paper bag.

 

 “That’ll be two hundred buckaroos, amigo.” He says. 

 

What!?” Tweek screeches, face paling and eyes bulging out of his skull.  Kenny just shrugs in return. 

 

“I told you dude, I need compensation. My parents will kill me without it.” Kenny justifies. 

 

“Compensation!” Tweek repeats in his outrage. He stomps his foot and holds out his hand, palm facing up. “Give me!” 

 

Kenny holds the bag out of Tweek’s reach, making him growl in frustration. There’s a stupid, cocky grin on Kenny’s face. “Give me my money first.” He says. 

 

Tweek’s cheeks are heating up, his posture tense and stiff. “ Ah! I’m fucking making sure you’re not ripping me off!” 

 

The first thing Craig assumes is in that bag is coke. It’s a small bag and it looks near empty -there are few drugs Craig can think of that would be so expensive for such a seemingly small amount of product. And he certainly wouldn’t put it past Tweek to be a coke-head. 

 

Kenny raises an eyebrow, amused. That look makes Craig sour. He considers punching Kenny right in his smug fucking expression. “I thought you were desperate.” He says.

 

Argh!” Tweek groans, back to pulling at his hair in distress. “Fuck you! This is such fucking bullshit!” 

 

Kenny rolls his eyes, opening the bag and tilting it in Tweek’s direction. Out of sheer curiosity, Craig peeks inside, too. It sure as shit isn’t coke. What it is doesn’t register in Craig’s brain for a moment. In place of green nugs or white powder, he’s greeted with the sight of small, yellowish crystals. The first thing he thinks is that it’s rock candy, which would be entirely stupid. Craig realizes this just as Kenny’s closing the bag up, the last flashes of the substance stamped into his brain. 

 

“That’s not two hundred dollars worth.” Tweek says. Craig stares at that brown paper bag clutched in Kenny’s hands with hesitation, like it might combust any second. His mother’s words ring in his head. 

 

I don’t trust that Tweek kid

 

“Yeah, you’re right.” Kenny says. “It’s whatever the fuck I’ve got for you. And if you’re desperate , you’ll take it.” 

 

Ah!” Tweek exclaims, his face twisted in frustration. He fists his hands into his hair, hanging his head and hunching his back. “I don’t have that kind of fucking money! 

 

Kenny looks amused, as if Tweek’s distress entertains him. “Two hundred bucks or nothing, dude. Them’s the rules.”

 

 The expression on Tweek’s face is murderous. His fists are balled at his side, shaking violently. If Craig were in Kenny’s shoes, he would tread lightly. 

 

ARGH!” Tweek screams, throwing his hands up in the air and storming toward the front door. He slams it open, stomping outside in his rage and screams again. “ Fuck you! I’ll fucking kill you, Kenny! Fucking- gah!” 

 

“I’m not scared of you!” Kenny shouts back, grinning like a maniac. “Do your worst, bitch boy!” Tweek screeches like a banshee, kicking up the dirt in Kenny’s lawn before storming off down the driveway. Craig spares a glance in Kenny’s direction, his expression sour, before rushing off in Tweek’s direction.

 

“Sayonara, Tucker!” Kenny calls, as he waves them off. “I’ll see you tonight!” He blows a kiss in their direction. Craig sneers. 

 

He catches up with Tweek a little ways down the road, who seems as if he has no intention of slowing his stride. Anger radiates off of him like a seething nightmare. “I’ll kill him,” he rambles. “I’ll cut his fucking hands off and feed them to him, stab him in the fucking throat, what the fuck! Fucking asshole.” 

 

“Tweek, cool it.” Craig says. Tweek stops in his tracks and whips around to face Craig. 

 

“What am I gonna do now?!” He asks, voice raised. The intensity in his expression makes Craig cringe, raising his hands out in front of him and taking a step back. 

 

“I don’t know.” Craig says. His eyes cut to the ground, intimidated by Tweeks stare. “Not this. This stuff you’re messing with seems... heavy.” 

 

“Fuck you.” Tweek spits. “I shouldn’t have let you come with me.” And he’s storming off again. For someone with such short legs, he’s hard to catch up with. 

 

“Look, Tweek, I know it’s not my business but that shit can’t be good for you.” He feels a little out of breath after having to jog to catch up. It reminds him how out of shape he is. 

 

“You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.” Tweek says, his tone harsh. He hasn’t slowed his pace, hasn’t bothered to spare a glance in Craig’s direction. “It’s just coffee grounds, for my head. And my body. It makes me feel, hnng , normal.” 

 

“That’s called an addiction.” Craig says. “And last time I checked, coffee grounds don’t look like crystals. You were trying to buy meth.” Craig says. Tweek stops abruptly, frozen in his spot. A tremor runs through his back, shifting through him and making his body tremble. He whips around, staring at Craig with wild, terrified eyes. 

 

“What the fuck!” He screams. Craig’s eyes widen. He takes a step back, holding his hands up in front of him. “Why the fuck did you - gah !” Tweek pauses, breath heavy and eyes unhinged, and runs his hands through his hair. His fists ball into the strands, tugging at them harshly as he squeezes his eyes shut. He stomps his foot. “ Fuck!”

 

He falls to his knees, shaking and screaming. He pounds his fist against the pavement repeatedly, the thuds sickening, like his bones are crunching under the force. Craig cringes, growing increasingly concerned that if Tweek keeps it up, he’s going to break his hand. 

 

“Stop, fuck!” Craig says, dropping to his knees to -fuck- he doesn’t even know. Stop Tweek, somehow, from causing anymore bodily harm. He reaches his hands out, going to grab him, to restrain his hands and keep them from aggressively pounding against hard pavement. 

 

“Get away from me!” Tweek says, making Craig pause and cautiously scoot back. He sobs, rolling on to his side and curling his knees into his chest. There are hot, fat tears streaming down his face. Craig’s hands drop to his sides. He shifts, sitting on the pavement criss-cross applesauce and redirects his gaze toward the horizon. Listening to Tweek’s pained sounds and not having fuck all to do about it is starting to make Craig feel like an asshole. He presses his lips together, fingers gripping his knees tightly. 

 

Tweek is managing to calm himself down. His noises are becoming less agonizing, softening to quiet sniffles. Once his sniffles and horrid sobs disperse to nothing, Craig opens his mouth to speak. 

 

“I’m sorry Kenny’s such a dick.” Although he’s addressing Tweek, his gaze is directed away from him, instead turned downward as his fingers pick awkwardly at his shoelaces. Tweek hums softly, no doubt still pathetically sprawled out across the ground. Craig blows out a long breath. “And I’m sorry for upsetting you. I didn’t mean to.” 

 

Tweek sniffles. “You can look at me, if you want.” He says, voice hoarse. Craig turns, watching him push himself off the ground into a sitting position. He wipes at his face with his sleeve, eyes red rimmed. He takes a deep breath, letting his eyes flutter closed. His hand is placed on his chest.

 

“I’m sorry you had to see that.” Tweek says once he’s calmed himself. Craig shrugs. 

 

“Shit happens.” He says. Tweek snorts, a funny grin on his face. 

 

“Do you watch a lot of your friends have panic attacks over-” He pauses, lips pressed together as he swallows thickly. His eyes are downcast. 

 

“Drugs?” Craig offers. Tweek hums low in his throat. 

 

“Coffee.” He corrects. “Or, uh, medicine. Whichever.”

 

Craig realizes that he probably shouldn’t press Tweek too much on this, that he should let all the drug talk go, but curiosity is pushing at him, unable to remain contained. “What other ‘medicine’ do you mess with?” He asks. 

 

Tweek shrugs. There’s a hole in the knee of his jeans that he won’t stop picking at. He still has yet to meet Craig’s eyes. “Whatever I can get my hands on, I guess. Coke keeps me focused, and weed keeps me calm, and the- um,”

 

“And your stuff? Your medicine?” Craig prompts him. 

 

“Yeah, that. It just feels good. Like, I dunno, focused and up, I guess.” He says. Craig stays quiet for a moment, staring at Tweek like he’s a puzzle to fit together. 

 

“What about psychedelics?” He asks. He watches a grin tug at the corner of Tweek’s lips. He hugs his knees tight to his chest. 

 

“They’re cool sometimes. I really only like them for special occasions, though.” Tweek answers. 

 

“It’s my birthday,” Craig says. “There’s your occasion.” 

 

When Tweek grins, it’s wide and toothy and too big for his face. He finally lifts his gaze to land on Craig, sharp like a knife and making a shiver run through Craig’s body. He lets his legs fall, splaying out in front of him, and leans back on his hands. “Okay, but I have two conditions.” 

 

Craig raises a brow. “Which are…?” 

 

“One,” Tweek starts. He sniffles loudly and wipes his nose with the back of his hand. “You have to come back to my house and smoke a blunt with me.” 

 

Craig cracks a grin. “Oh no, anything but free weed.” He says. Tweek laughs. 

 

“And two,” he holds up two fingers. “If Kenny so much as looks at me wrong, I’m beating the shit out of him.” 

 

“Deal.” Craig says. He holds out his hand, offering it for Tweek to shake. Tweek stares at it hesitantly, as if he’s unsure what to do. Finally, he grasps it, his grip firm and his hand small. He shakes Craig’s hand with vigorous amounts of force, strong enough to rattle Craig’s brain. When he’s done, he laces his fingers through Craig’s, squeezing his hand tightly and refusing to let go. 

 

“Deal.” Tweek says. He’s beaming. Craig can’t help but take note of the warmth of his palm

Chapter Text

After football practice, Stan goes to Kyle’s house. He’s in a weird mood, hollow and lightheaded, like his brain has drifted off into another dimension. He’s sitting in Kyle’s room, pretending to study. Even with his head bowed, eyes glazing over each word of his textbook, Stan’s having trouble processing the information. His last drink was hours ago, long before practice, where he would’ve managed to sweat out any alcohol trapped in his system. He feels awful. It doesn’t help that he’s been eating like shit lately, too, running purely off of fast food and TV dinners. Dad’s house has been needing groceries for a few days, but neither of them have bothered to go out and get any. Thank fuck for DoorDash, or else Stan’s pretty certain he’d be running entirely on liquor. 

 

Kyle looks stuck in his head, probably focused on his text book and actually bothering to process the information presented to him. Stan envies his talents, his intelligence, and wishes that he could muster up the strength to actually sit down and study. Instead, he thinks about Craig Tucker and magic mushrooms and long legs and whatever the hell it is the drugs will bring on. Stan is a fucking loser when it comes to drugs, especially for someone who associates so heavily with Kenny McCormick. He’s smoked pot a grand total of five times and, well… that’s kind of it. He can drink anyone under the table, but pump him full of dope and he’s completely unable to function. Mix the two and that’s just asking for disaster. Kyle likes to smoke, though. Not all the time, but enough -more than anyone outside their friend group might guess. 

 

“I talked to Kenny today.” Stan says. Kyle’s gaze stays focused on his textbook, halfheartedly writing notes in the margins. Stan’s not sure why he does that, it’s not like the book is his to keep. 

 

“Me too.” Kyle says. “It’s like we’re friends with him or something.” 

 

“He wants us to do drugs with him tonight.” Stan says. 

 

“Naturally.” Kyle replies. 

 

“Him and Craig and those guys.” Stan adds, which has Kyle pausing, putting his pencil down in favor of staring up at him, brow quirked. “He has shrooms, I guess.” 

 

“What?” Kyle asks, frowning. His tone takes Stan aback, like he’s spitting acid directly in his face. Stan shrugs. 

 

“It’s Craig’s birthday.” He says. “They’re having some sort of party at Clyde’s.” 

 

“Gross.” Kyle responds. Stan laughs, awkwardly. 

 

“Do you wanna go?” He asks. Kyle’s focus has redirected back to his textbook, scribbling his notes. 

 

“Go where?” He responds, as if he’s completely forgotten their conversation. 

 

“To Craig’s party? With me. And Kenny.” 

 

“It’s Monday.” Kyle says, scowling down at his book. “And I don’t want to trip with Craig Tucker. I fucking hate him.” 

 

“Craig’s, like, fine. Don’t be a prick, dude.” This comes out of Stan’s mouth as if he himself had not decked Craig Tucker in the face earlier today. He wonders if Craig’s nose is bruised. 

 

Kyle scoffs, setting his pencil down into the binding of his textbook. He pushes it away from him, settling his hands in his lap instead. “ He’s the prick. I don’t even want to imagine how insufferable he’d be tripping on mushrooms.” 

 

“Dude, come on.” Stan whines. “You’re being lame.”

 

Dude , you have to admit this is a weird idea. Like, what’s Kenny trying to gain?” Stan isn’t sure how to answer. He knows Kenny wants them there, for one reason or another, but he didn’t obtain this information from Kenny, himself. It does sound like a weird idea. Tripping on shrooms two weeks after a terrible, regrettable mistake wouldn’t not usually be Stan’s version of a good time. He’s never agreed to joining in on Kenny’s drug use before, and none of those circumstances involved a direct cause of Stan’s shame. Yet, he agreed to show up tonight and he agreed to drag Kyle along, directly after Craig kissed him. 

 

“I dunno.” He says. “Maybe he’s just trying to coax us into some fun.” 

 

“I’m plenty fun on my own, thanks.” Kyle says. He pauses, brows twitching downward. “This doesn’t make sense. We live in Colorado. Kenny could get his hands on mushrooms whenever he wanted. Why tonight? For Craig’s, of all people’s, birthday?” 

 

“Does it matter?” Stan replies. The continuous mention of Craig is starting to put him on edge. Stan had been hoping that’d be a minor detail they’d gloss over. 

 

“You know shrooms make you stay up, right?” Kyle asks. “If I did agree to go, we probably wouldn’t get any sleep before school tomorrow.” 

 

“How do you know that?” Stan asks. Kyle shrugs, a mischievous grin tugging at his face. “Have you tried them before?”

 

“Maybe.” He says. Stan knows what that means. 

 

“Dude! Why didn’t you tell me?”

 

“Jesus man, calm down.” Kyle says. “It was one time last summer. You remember, I was at Kenny’s for like a week.” 

 

“What are they like?” Stan asks and Kyle just shrugs. 

 

“Weird. Things get really warped and the universe, like, breathes with you. It’s weirdly spiritual.” Kyle shrugs again. “You get the shits wicked bad, though.” 

 

“Dude, sick.” Stan says. 

 

“I know dude!” 

 

“Indulge me, then.” Stan starts. “You’ve done them before and I want to try them, I think it sounds fun. Come on, please?” Kyle sighs. 

 

“Okay.” He agrees. “Fuck it, for you? Sure.” 

 

They leave for Clyde Donovan’s house at around nine pm. Kyle is practically seething on the car ride over, blasting his shitty pop music and white knuckling the steering wheel. Stan stays quiet, listening to him ramble about all the ways he’ll bash Craig’s face in if something goes awry. Stan thinks it’s a facade. Kyle’s not pissed off, he’s nervous and projecting his anxieties in forms of rage. Never in a million years would Kyle actually try to start some sort of physical altercation with Craig. There’s only one person Kyle despises enough to justify violence, and that’s Cartman. 

 

As they approach the front door, Kyle has his arms crossed tightly over his chest, a scowl etched into his features. Stan’s the one who knocks on the front door. He hears a heavy pattern of footsteps, and then a lock clicking, the door swinging open at full force. The grin Clyde greets them with is massive and childlike. 

 

“What’s up, man!” Clyde extends his hand and Stan grasps it, stepping together to clap each other on the back. 

 

“Hey dude.” Stan greets back when they break away. Clyde nods toward Kyle, standing slightly behind Stan with his arms still crossed, his smile refraining from faltering, but he doesn’t say a word. He moves aside, making room for Stan to enter the hall, shutting the door just as Kyle tries to step through the doorway. It slams against his foot, making him yelp like a dog. 

 

Ow , fuck!” He shouts. 

 

“Shit, sorry!” Clyde calls, ripping the door open. Kyle’s balancing on one foot, face pinched in a grimace. “Sorry man, fuck! Did you, uh…” Clyde pauses, stammering. “...want to come in?” 

 

Kyle’s eyes land on Clyde, brows pinched in the center and mouth slightly open. He gingerly places his hurt foot back on the ground. “Why the fuck else would I be here?” 

 

Like a jolt of electricity has traveled down his spine, Clyde instantly straightens his posture. He tries for a grin, but it’s obvious he’s nervous. “Shit, dude, that’s really cool of you, but you don’t have to. Token’s already trip sitting us.” 

 

Kyle opens his mouth, cheeks reddening with heat. Before he can get a word in, Stan decides to step in. “Kyle’s cool, dude. He’s tripping, too.” 

 

Clyde looks like he wants to say something, but snaps his mouth shut, stepping aside to allow Kyle through the doorway. Inside, Kenny’s lounging lazily on a massive sofa, watching TV. His feet are propped up on the coffee table in front of him, arms crossed over his chest. Token and Jimmy are in the kitchen behind him, chitchatting and holding plastic red cups. Stan isn’t sure if there’s alcohol in those cups, but they make his mouth water nonetheless. Craig Tucker is nowhere in sight. Kyle beelines in Kenny’s direction, face still set in a scowl. They plop themselves on the couch. It takes Kenny a moment to acknowledge them, eyes glued to the colorful cartoons playing in front of him. It’s some Adult Swim show, bright and spastic in its animation style. Kenny’s eyes are huge. 

 

“Uh, hello?” Kyle says, breaking Kenny’s attention from the TV. He perks up when his eyes land on them, smile unnervingly wide. 

 

“Well if it isn’t my favorite guys!” Kenny says. “I wasn’t expecting you two to show your faces.” 

 

“What’s wrong with you?” Stan asks. He’s used to Kenny being weird, high off one thing or another, but the look in his face sets terror deep in Stan’s bones. Kyle studies him. 

 

“He’s high.” He says. “Mushrooms, I’m guessing.” 

 

Kenny taps the side of his forehead. “Learn something from this one, Stanny boy. He understands context clues.” 

 

“Are we late or something?” Stan asks. “You guys already took them?” 

 

Kyle’s eyes scan the room, watching intently as Token, Jimmy, and Clyde continue with their conversation. “Just Kenny.” He says, finally. 

 

“Bingo!” Kenny says. “I took a few grams maybe five or six hours ago. When God herself decides to hand you magic shroomies, you fucking take that shit and run.” 

 

Looking at Kenny’s face, his wide eyes and massive grin, has Stan all kinds of nervous. He’s heard stories of mushrooms, heard people talk about tripping and funky feelings and bright colors, but he knows very little about them. He had always assumed they were calming in some way, a downer like weed or booze, but Kenny looks nothing if not energized. Stan chews his bottom lip, eyes shifting back to the TV. It’s hard to look at even sober. Stan wonders what Kenny could be seeing, peering at the screen through the lens of psychedelic eyes. 

 

Within the next fifteen minutes, Craig finally bothers to show his face. He waltzes into Clyde’s without knocking, Tweek in tow. Their hands are tightly interlaced, palms pressed together as they walk shoulder to shoulder. Tweek is searching around the room spastically, like he’s looking for ticking time bombs. When his eyes land on Kenny, they narrow, his glare all sharp edges and heat. He looks away just as quickly in favor of following Craig into the kitchen. 

 

“What the fuck was that about?” Kyle asks. Kenny shrugs. 

 

“He tried to buy drugs from me and I gave him a shitty price. He’s pissy now.” Kyle sucks a deep breath in through his teeth, bared like he’s preparing to be hit. 

 

“I’d be careful, dude. Tweek’s fucking unhinged. Like, he’s a literal crackhead.” He says. Stan wrinkles his nose. 

 

“I think he’s just weird, dude.” He argues, unable to keep his eyes from glancing in Tweek and Craig’s direction. They still have yet to break apart, Tweek having dropped Craig’s hand in favor of looping it around his arm. “He’s been twitchy and off his rocker for as long as I’ve known him.” 

 

“Dude, that’s the crack!” Kyle responds, voice hushed like he’s afraid of Tweek overhearing. 

 

“Eh,” Kenny says with a shrug of his shoulders. He’s slouched far in the couch, hood up and hands shoved in his pockets. His legs are stretched out in front of him. “I’ve dealt with my fair share of crackheads. He doesn’t scare me.” 

 

Kyle turns, sparing a glance at Tweek from the back of the couch. “He’s hanging off Craig like a lost puppy.” He mutters. Stan presses his lips into a firm line. No one else seems to be acknowledging their sudden closeness, as if this is normal behavior. The anxiety radiating off of Tweek is palpable, thick enough to cut with a knife. Stan scowls. 

 

“I think they’re fucking.” Kenny says. 

 

Something deep in Stan’s chest sinks, a heavy feeling logged under his sternum. He doesn’t find the accusation likely. Not two weeks ago, Craig was a virgin. Stan has a hard time believing he’d go from awkward, fumbling virgin to a nymphomaniac in such a short amount of time. 

 

“What makes you say that?” Stan asks.

 

“I dunno.” Kenny says. “Just a vibe I’m getting.” 

 

“No way.” Kyle says. “If there’s one person more incapable of getting laid than Craig, it’s Tweek.”

 

“You think?” Stan asks. Tweek is not entirely unattractive, or at least he wouldn’t be, if it weren't for the open sores on his face and the fact that he looks like he’s starving to death. Upon further inspection, Stan sucks in a breath from between his teeth. “Fuck, maybe you’re right. At least Craig doesn’t look like he’s dying.”

 

“Yeah, exactly.” Kyle says. “Crack is a hell of a drug.” 

 

Kenny snorts. “Crack sucks.” He says. “You gotta try so hard to get addicted to that shit. It’s like two hours of pure bliss and then seven hours of crippling anxiety. Anyway, look at them; if they’re not fucking already, they will be.” 

 

Kyle rolls his eyes. “That’s fucking disgusting. Who in their right mind would want to fuck either on of them?” 

 

Stan furrows his brows, oddly offended. Being repulsed by Tweek is reasonable, but Craig isn’t the worst looking guy around. He could stand to shower more and go to the gym, maybe start taking Accutane, but the way he’s structured is solid. His personality is a shitshow, but Stan could say the same of himself. 

 

“I’d fuck Tweek.” Kenny says. “Not Craig, though. I bet he’s boring in the sack.” 

 

Stan disagrees. Lately, his girlfriend has been getting pretty boring in the sack. She used to be more fun, all cute and experimental, but as of recent, Stan finds being between her legs is a chore. Although he only remembers hazy blurbs from his night with Craig, something about it was refreshing. Granted, that could always just be the alcohol talking. 

 

“Alright, party people!” Rings out Clyde’s voice, loud enough to stir the house, promptly snapping Stan out of his thoughts. He peers over the back of the couch to look at Clyde. He’s holding an open bottle of beer. It’s half empty, and mouthwatering. “Let’s get this fuckery started.” Kenny grins and cups his hands over his mouth. 

 

“You’re not supposed to mix alcohol and psychedelics, dipshit.” In Clyde’s defense, Stan didn’t know that either and he feels his stomach drop. He’s not remotely close to drunk, or even so much as buzzed, but he’s been drinking today. Would that matter? Stan has never tripped before and has no clue what to expect. Is he about to have his first psychedelic experience be a bad one? Has he just set himself up for a long, miserable night? Fuck, he has no clue. Clyde looks somewhat embarrassed, but it’s short lived. Instead of responding to Kenny, he belches and sets his beer down on the countertop behind him. Stan laughs and gives a short little round of applause. Clyde beams. 

 

“How much are we taking, Ken?” He asks. Kenny shrugs. 

 

“I’ve got probably half an ounce on me.” He says. 

“I’m taking an eighth for me. My drugs, my rules. The rest of you can figure it out.” He takes out two baggies of mushrooms. One is significantly more filled than the other. Kenny keeps the less filled one for himself and throws the other on the coffee table in front of him. “Come get y’all drugs, fuckers.” 

 

Kyle empties the bag out on the coffee table, studying the pile in front of him. “How strong are these?” He asks. The grin Kenny shoots him is too big for his fucking face, which is not particularly encouraging. 

 

“Oh, you’ll see .” He says. 

 

Stan stares at them incredulously, holding himself back like they might burn him. He watches Kyle scoop up a handful before going for his own. They don’t look scary, Stan tries to convince himself. It’s just a pile of dried mushrooms, after all. He can do this. The rest of the party comes and goes, trying to guestimate about how much they should take. Everyone seems to be bumbling and confused. The last to come over is Tweek, who’s stiff in his movements, pure anger radiating off of him. 

 

“Welcome to my presence, Tweeker.” Kenny says, a nasty grin plastered across his face. Tweek wrinkles his nose, scowling down at the final pile of mushrooms sitting in front of him. He turns, walks over to Kenny, and stands over him for a moment. The expression on his face is difficult to read, his eyes calculating as he stares at Kenny’s form.

 

It happens so quickly, Stan doesn’t have time to react. He’s not quite sure what he sees for a moment, stuck processing Kenny's howl of pain, watching as his head flies backwards, smacking against the back of the couch. Tweek shakes his hand out for a second, scoops up his mushrooms, and heads back into the kitchen without so much as uttering a word. A hush falls over the room, watching with bated breath to see if Kenny will react. Anyone else might take issue with being sucker punched in the mouth, but Kenny doesn’t move, doesn’t say a word about it outside of, 

 

“God dammit, that actually hurt.” Soft enough for only Stan and Kyle to hear. Off in the distance, Craig is laughing. 

 

“I’m so proud of you.” Stan hears him say, but his voice sounds hushed and far away, murmured like he’s spilling secrets. 

 

“Maybe we should dip.” Kyle says, leaning into Stan’s space with his voice pitched low. “I don’t think I’m comfortable tripping with someone that unstable around.” 

 

“Nah, I deserved that.” Kenny says. Kyle fixes him with a look, all hard lines and sharp edges. He furrows his brows. 

 

“Dude, I think he wants to kill you.” Kyle says. Kenny folds his hands behind his head, leaning low in the couch cushions.  

 

“Being killed ain’t so bad. I’ve done worse.” He replies. 

 

“You aren’t funny.” Kyle says, deadpan. Kenny laughs. 

 

“Whatever, dude. Hey,” he holds up his baggy of mushrooms, shaking it slightly. “Down the hatch. Think happy, fuckers.” 

 

Stan looks around the room, finding that the rest of the party has already started eating their mushrooms, as if the spat between Tweek and Kenny never happened. He turns his focus back to his own pile and takes in a heavy breath. 

 

“Down the hatch.” He mutters, eating a few small stems. They taste like fucking shit, a mix of stale cracker and rotten log. It’s like licking the bottoms of Cartman’s feet. He gags. Kenny laughs at him. 

 

“Oh yeah, they taste like dirt and mold.” He says. Kyle nods in agreement. 

 

“It’s like eating any other mushroom in the fucking world.” He mumbles. 

 

Dude!” Clyde shouts. “This is the worst thing I’ve ever fucking eaten. And I ate out Henrietta Biggle.”

 

Craig is chewing his slowly, which Stan cannot grasp. He wants to chew these things up as quickly as possible, trying his damned best to bypass the excruciating taste. He watches his adam’s apple bob as he swallows. 

 

“They’re okay.” He says finally. 

 

“Acid is better. It’s sweet.” Tweek replies. Craig grins. 

 

“Yeah? You’ll have to show me sometime.” Stan does not like the looks they exchange. He can feel his hands curl into fists, balled up in his lap as he presses his lips firmly together. Taking a deep breath through his nose, he dumps the rest of the mushrooms into his mouth, chewing them up quickly and trying to keep them from making contact with his tongue. Something about that fucking grin on Craig’s face just doesn’t sit right. It makes Stan wonder what sorts of things those two could get up to, tripping balls alone in Craig’s bedroom, whispering secrets…

 

Nope. It’s probably best that he doesn’t let his mind wander to such places. He shakes the thoughts away. Think happy , he reminds himself. 

 

They sit around for a good hour, shooting the shit and waiting for something to happen. Stan feels pretty weird, like his body is floating. His leg won’t stop bouncing. And when the fuck did this room get so bright? Was it this bright an hour ago? He checks his hands, watching as the veins start to wiggle and shift, seeming to grow against his skin. He takes a deep breath, letting his eyes flutter closed. Arrays of color burst behind his eyelids, forming into avantgard shapes and dancing along his vision. He hums, a smile spreading across his face. 

 

“Vibe check!”  He hears Clyde call. “How are everyone’s vibes?” Kenny snorts from his spot next to Stan. 

 

“Fan- fucking-tastic.” He says. 

 

“I definitely just ate a bunch of shrooms.” Tweek says, voice far away. Stan imagines his figure in the kitchen, running his hands along granite countertops, pupils blown wide.

 

“This isn’t, like, real.” Says Craig’s voice.

 

“Stan?” Kyle asks. Stan cracks his eyes open, met instantly with Kyle’s face. He looks especially three-dimensional, like Stan can count every freckle across his nose and every line in his lips. 

 

“Woah, dude!” Stan says, excitedly. He’s smiling big, teeth on display. “Your eyes are so fucking green.” He grabs the sides of Kyle’s face, pulling him closer to get a better look. He laughs. Kyle laughs back, his smile fucking infectious. 

 

“You have a big smile.” He says. His eyes are studying Stan, wide and pupils blown, like he can see through his skin and stare directly into his heart. “Has anyone ever told you you’re smile’s fucking huge?”

 

“Is it bad?” Stan asks. 

 

“No way, dude!” Kyle exclaims. He tilts his head to the side, the movement of his face lagging like a bad video. Stan snorts out a laugh, choked and ugly, but it makes Kyle laugh along with him. They press their foreheads together, Kyle’s eyes fluttered closed as he cups Stan’s cheek. Stan feels like he’s seeing the world through a fisheye lense, and he’s never been happier. “Your smile is so dope.” Kyle says. Stan laughs again. 

 

“That’s gay.” He says. 

 

“No it’s not!’ Kyle argues. He pulls away from Stan, the speed of his movement making Stan dizzy. “Why am I not allowed to compliment my best friend, huh? Newsflash, asshole; I like you. There’s a fucking reason you’re my best friend.” 

 

Stan whimpers, feeling as if his heart has just melted inside his chest. A reply sits idly at the tip of his tongue, but he never gets to voice it, because suddenly Kyle is letting out a loud exclamation. 

 

“Holy shit .” He says, sliding off the couch and letting his knees hitting the carpet. His face is inches from it. “Dude, Clyde, you didn’t tell me you have monkeys in your carpet!” He starts running his hands over it, grinning like a maniac. 

 

“What!?” Clyde shouts enthusiastically. “No fucking way.” He bolts over to them, getting on his hands and knees right alongside Kyle. “Dude, you’re fucking tripping, those are obviously snails.” 

 

“You’re both tripping.” Kenny interjects. “And I’m seeing cherry trees.” Stan has no fucking clue what they’re talking about. The carpet looks like carpet, except weirder. It’s whirling and warped. He can make out each individual fiber. He thinks the room might be moving. Not in the sense that it’s spinning, but more like it’s alive, breathing with them, watching them. 

 

Clyde starts sobbing from his spot on the floor, running his hands along the carpet. Kyle glances at him. 

 

“Are you okay, dude?” He asks and Clyde nods. 

 

“It’s just so fucking beautiful, man.” He says, and he’s grinning. “It’s all so beautiful.” His face is warping, giving a weird 3D effect. The tears make his eyes look huge, bug eyed and funny. Stan laughs. He really can’t help it, as if the laughter is erupting from him without his permission. It feels good. Craig comes strolling into the living room. His pupils are blown wide and he’s smiling. It’s a good look on him. 

 

“What did you do to me?” He asks and Kenny laughs. 

 

“I gave you a good fucking time, man.” He says, and Craig groans, low in his throat. He’s quiet for a moment, staring at the walls and running his hands through his hair, back and forth, playing with the strands. 

 

“I think I’m God.” He says, finally. 

 

“Yo, fuck it up , Craigory!” Clyde says. He’s wiping tears from his cheeks. “I live for the confidence, king.”

 

“I’m fucking smart.” Craig says. “I know everything. Go ahead, ask me a question.” His gaze is fixed directly on Stan. His eyes are big and gray and shining in the light and his smile seems impossibly wide. Stan bounces his leg, partly because he’s uncomfortable under Craig’s intense eyes and partly because he can’t stop fucking moving

 

“Uh,” he says. He can’t think of a damn thing he wants to know. His brain feels like it’s moving so quick it can’t zero in on a single thought. “Is God even real?” 

 

“Yeah, and it’s me.” Craig responds. He rolls his eyes as if that’s the dumbest thing he’s ever heard. He turns to Kenny, pointing at him dramatically. “What did you do to me?” He asks again. 

 

“I gave you some magical fucking mushrooms, man.” Kenny says. He shifts his feet to perch on the sofa cushions, pushing himself up so he’s standing on top of the couch. He looks like a giant from up there. It’s going to make Stan’s head spin if he keeps staring. 

 

“Think of me as your spiritual guide through the realm of psychoactive substances.” He says, wiggling his fingers. For a moment, Stan is certain that sparks fly out. “I’m here to make sure you feel fucking bangers all night.” 

 

“Hey Craig, I got a question for you.” Stan says. Craig fixes on him with a scowl. He crosses his arms over his chest, staring at Stan expectantly. 

 

“Spit it the fuck out.” He says. 

 

“What’s it feel like tripping on your birthday, dude? Like, time and shit. Shit’s whack as hell.” Stan rambles, making Craig stare at him like he’s grown a second head. 

 

“You’re a moron.” He says. “This is why I’m God and you’re not.” 

 

“Dude, no way, I totally know what you’re talking about.” Kyle interrupts. “Like, fuck dude, time and shit.”

 

“Yeah!” Stan says, heart swelling. He feels like he and Kyle’s minds are fusing together, becoming one with each other and one with the universe. They know everything about each other, may as well be able to read each other’s minds. “Isn’t the way time passes fucking crazy? Like aging and all that stuff. Fuck, our brains are connected, dude.” 

 

“Thoughts, dude. Fucking wild.” Kyle agrees. 

 

“You two are fucked up.” Kenny says. He’s back to slouching in his spot on the couch, hood up, hands shoved in his pockets, and his legs outstretched in front of him. His eyes are closed. 

 

“Yeah dude.” Kyle says. “How strong were those mushrooms?” 

 

Kenny cracks a grin, sinking further into the couch. Stan imagines there’s a blackhole below him, opening and closing every so often just to make Kenny melt into the cushions. “Strong.” He says. “I think I’m a good two grams away from talking to God.” 

 

“You’re already talking to God.” Clyde says. He points to Craig, who’s staring at the wall with unnerving intensity. Kenny cracks his eyes open, lips pursed as he looks between the two of them. 

 

“We’ve been over this, Clyde.” He says. “God’s a gorgeous latina woman with huge tits. Duh.” 



The night goes on like that -a throng of teenage boys babbling nonsense and ooh -ing at all the pretty colors that dance across their eyes. Stan, at some point, asks Kenny if he’s actually a Shaman, sent by the Gods to guide him through his journey. He’d never really been a spiritual person before, only going to church when he was forced to and never daring to believe in a God, but as the universe breathes with him, as amazing images and colors flash before him and his mind races a million miles a minute, he begins to ponder his own spiritual awakening. Is this happiness? This joy in life and discovering all the wonderful things it has to offer, is that what true happiness is? Stan has never before dared to dream of this feeling, and now he’s trapped in it. All the weights and anxieties of everyday life are behind him, he only knows the universe and the all powerful mushroom. 

 

Kyle has been busy with his own fun, excitedly talking the ear off of anyone who will listen about philosophy and theory and questioning all about the meaning of life. Clyde spends a good while insisting it’s pussy, which Kenny whole heartedly encourages. Hours go by like a blink. Stan’s brain is stuck on the concept of time, unable to wrap his head around it. What is an hour even supposed to feel like? A minute, or a day? Who invented time, who decided it needs to be structured the way it is? There’s no need for time, Stan thinks. The concept of passing time reminds him that his trip will eventually end. With the way his brain is going, he doesn’t feel like he wants it to end. 

 

Craig ,” Clyde whines at some point in the night, after the group of them had all congregated into the living room. “I think I’ve figured out who your mystery man is.” 

 

Stan feels himself tense, fear encasing every fiber of his being. He thinks the world is closing in, plaguing his field of view in darkness. Stan’s not sure what he would’ve done to give anything away, has been careful to outwardly interact with Craig as little as possible. Obviously, Craig hasn’t breathed a word to his friends, or else Clyde would have no mystery to get to the bottom of. 

 

Splayed out in the corner of the living room, several feet adjacent from Stan’s spot on the couch, is Craig. He’s laying flat on his back, Tweek hovering over him. Their eyes are glued to each other, running their hands along each other’s faces and giggling every so often. Craig keeps playing with Tweek’s hair, and Tweek won’t stop squishing his cheeks. Something sparks in Stan, hot beneath his fear. 

 

“It’s Tweek!” Clyde announces, dramatically. Both Tweek and Craig’s heads snap in his direction. Instantly, Tweek shrieks, scrambling away from Craig’s body. He hugs his knees to his chest, rocking back and forth. Craig props himself up on his elbows, face twisted in a scowl. Stan, for his part, could not be more relieved. Color returns to his vision, swirling and fluttering to life. The universe is balanced again. 

 

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Craig says, finally. 

 

“Don’t be so fucking shy, Craig.” Kenny says, and he looks like he’s just risen from the dead. He hadn’t said a fucking word in hours, Stan had completely forgotten he was there. “Everyone knows you fucked someone at Token’s party.” Stan doesn’t like his tone. He gets the feeling Kenny knows more than he should. Craig scowls. 

 

“The fuck does that have to do with- ack,” Tweek pauses, a shudder running through his body. His eyes spasms. Stan feels encaptured by the movement. “Me? I wasn’t at that stupid party!” 

 

“You guys keep fucking with each other, I dunno.” Stan says. The look Craig fixes him with is murderous, making Stan’s face feel hot. “Like, touching each other’s faces and stuff.” 

 

“Yeah, obviously. Look at him!” Craig says, thrusting his pointer finger in Tweek’s direction. “Is that not the best thing you’ve ever seen?” 

 

Stan has no idea what he’s talking about. Tweek’s face is warping and vibrant, filled with magnitudes of color, but so is everyone else’s. Kyle’s face is especially colorful and bright, like a glittering gem in the sunlight. Out of everyone, Tweeks face must be the scariest to look at, with his gaunt cheeks and open sores. If Stan stares too long, he’s terrified he’ll have a panic attack. He feels Kyle clap a hand on his shoulder, his mouth lowering to the shell of Stan’s ear. 

 

“Stop staring at him.” He says, voice low. Even amidst his serious tone, it’s like music to Stan’s ears. “Seriously. It’s bad juju.” Stan promptly redirects his gaze. 

 

“That doesn’t help your case, dude.” Clyde says. Craig huffs, crossing his arms over his chest. “Yo, Token, my man! You think Tweek and Craig have fucked?” 

 

Standing behind the couch, Token crosses his arms over his chest, studying the two of them quizzically. He hums. “Maybe.” He says.

 

“You’re all so fucking stupid!” Tweek shouts. It makes Stan cringe, the shrillness of his voice unbearable. “What part of I wasn’t at that party do you not understand?” 

 

“But you would fuck my homeboy Craig, if given the opportunity.” Clyde clarifies.  

 

“I didn’t say that!” Tweek says, voice shrill. He grabs at his hair. “ Hnng , fuck you so fucking bad. Fuck!” 

 

“Stop calling me your homeboy.” Craig argues. 

 

“Tweekers, my man, I’m curious.” Kenny interrupts, rousing the attention of the room. Tweek’s head snaps up in his direction, staring at him like he’s not sure if he wants to beat Kenny to death right away or wait and let him speak. He nods, urging Kenny to continue. “What’s your biggest kink?” 

 

What !?” Tweek asks, flinching so hard he’s practically jumping out of his skin. Kenny shrugs. 

 

“I’m just curious.” He says. Tweek moans pitifully, hanging his head between his knees and pulling at his hair. He heaves a sigh. 

 

“Nothing, fuck! I dunno. Being left alone?” He offers. 

 

“What’s that called?” Kyle asks, thinking out loud. “Asexual? Are you asexual?” 

 

Tweek doesn’t respond outside of a twitch and an awkward grunt. Stan can’t see his face anymore, but he’s certain it’s beet red. 

 

“What’s that?” Stan asks. 

 

“It means you don’t experience sexual attraction.” Kyle clarifies. “Like, you don’t like anyone at all.” 

 

“It’s like the opposite of me.” Kenny says. “I like everyone. Girls, guys, dick, pussy, and everything in between.” Stan snaps his head over to him. 

 

“I didn’t know that.” He says. “You can…. You can do that?” 

 

Kenny offers him a sly smile. “Course, dude. Sexuality is a spectrum. It’s not just straight and gay.” 

 

“Have you ever heard of the Kinsey scale?” Kyle asks and Stan shakes his head. “It’s kind of outdated, but it’s basically like everyone is on this spectrum of sexuality. On one end is fully straight and the other is fully gay. Kinsey thought most people fell somewhere in the middle, not really totally straight or gay.” 

 

No one is completely straight or gay . Well yeah. Now that Stan’s thinking about it, it feels so fucking obvious. Why do people limit themselves so much? If a person is hot, then they’re hot. If their personality is cool enough, why not fall in love? Like, duh.

 

“So where do you fall?” Stan asks. Kyle's eyes widen in surprise. They’re like pools of emerald seas, clear and gorgeous enough to drown in. 

 

“What?” He asks.

 

“On the scale. Like, what are you if you’re not totally straight or totally gay?” Kyle’s eyes shift. Stan doesn’t think he was prepared for this question. 

 

“I dunno, dude,” he says. “Like a two?” 

 

“What the fuck does that mean?” 

 

“So, one is completely straight and six is completely gay.” Kyle explains. “And I’m like a two. I guess.” 

 

“I’m a one.” Clyde interjects. Ain’t a gay bone in me. Have y’all ever tasted pussy?” 

 

Kenny raises his hands. “Here, here!” he cheers. “Clyde Donovan, you are on my fucking level.”

 

“Not that there’s anything wrong with being gay.” Clyde continues. “Shoutout to my faggy homeboy, Craigory!”

 

“I’ll kill you, Clyde.” Craig says. He’s staring intently at the toes of his shoes, 

 

“Is Butters gay?” Stan blurts, the curiosity suddenly hitting him like a truck. He hasn’t really spoken to Butters in a while, outside of minor chitchat and passing hellos, but he has a Hello Kitty backpack and likes to paint his nails pink. Stan hasn’t seen him with a girlfriend since fourth grade. 

 

“No!” Kenny says, throwing his hands up in the air. “Apparently fucking not.” 

 

How ?” Kyle asks. “He played Hello Kitty Island Adventure until the ninth grade.”

 

“I don’t fucking know man, but it was a smack to the fucking face.” Kenny says. 

 

“Maybe he just doesn’t want your dick, Kenny.” Kyle says. Kenny groans. 

 

“That’s worse .” Kyle turns to face Stan. 

 

“See, it’s comments like that. How did you not know Kenny was a least kind of gay?” Kyle says. Kenny snorts. 

 

“Seriously. Stanny boy, we gotta work on your gaydar.” He says, which also seems obvious now. But, in Stan’s defense, Kenny’s pretty loud about how much he likes boobs. Maybe all the other stuff just, stupidly, went over his head. He didn’t even know bisexuality was a thing until two seconds ago. 

 

That’s not entirely true. Stan’s heard of people liking boys and girls, he’s seen enough reality TV and porn to get the point, he just never assumed it existed in real life. Boys like girls, girls like boys, sometimes girls like to get drunk and kiss each other, and people like Craig Tucker like to shove dick down their throat. Stan’s dick, most specifically, which would not amuse Stan so much under any other circumstances, but the mushrooms are doing funky shit to his brain. The mere thought of Craig wanting him, enough to kiss him after Stan bruised his nose, fuels his fucking ego. Are guys who call themselves bi actually just gay in disguise? Stan sort of used to think so, but he knows for certain Kenny still likes fucking chicks. If Kenny can be bi, why couldn’t anyone else? Kyle called himself a two on the gay scale, whatever that means. That’s gotta be a little bi, right? 

 

By the time it’s nearing four am, Stan’s high has gone down dramatically. The room is bright, hyper focused, with a few small waves and wiggles along the carpet and in the patterns of the walls, but it’s no longer blooming with colors and patterns. He feels relaxed and content, like he’s breathing for the first time. The word ‘balanced’ rings over in his head, coursing through him in waves of serenity. He feels like he’s coming back from a spiritual journey, his body beginning to descend from the heavens. What he’s been up to, entirely, Stan isn’t sure. For the most part, he’s just wandering around Clyde’s house, spouting nonsense and talking to Kyle, the scholar, and  Craig Tucker, the ever knowing deity. 

 

He hasn’t been able to keep much track of the others, only popping up every so often. Clyde is the jester. Stan finds him annoying, coming in and out of phases of his trip only to make a fool of himself. Stan caught him checking out his own reflection once, posing in the mirror and calling himself “sexy motherfucker,” and watched him lay face down in his kitchen tiles, running his hands along them repeatedly, twice. He cried to Stan four times, all brief and about varying topics. 

 

Tweek is like a phantom. He pops up only to bug Craig and scare the absolute shit out of Stan. He never says anything, only coming in to grab Craig’s hand and stare around the room with wide, unsettling eyes. Craig lets him do this, is even kind enough to hold his hand back. Tweek always leaves after a few moments, like Craig is his checkpoint, his place to go to not be bothered by enemies and restore his health bar. 

 

Kenny stays on the couch. He doesn’t move from that spot for nearly seven hours, speaking only jibberish. Token has long since gone to bed by now, and Jimmy has had his face pressed against the windows for who knows how long. 

 

“I’m going for a walk.” Craig announces, once they’ve settled back to their living rooms roots. “I need a smoke.” 

 

“I’ll come with you!” Stan says, and it’s like all of a sudden everyone’s eyes have zeroed in on him. Craig looks confused and annoyed, his eyes narrowed as if he doesn’t quite trust Stan’s intentions. 

 

“...why?” He asks, and that makes Stan pause. 

 

“Uh,” He says, eloquently. “Fresh air?” Craig studies him for a moment too long to be comfortable. It makes Stan squirm. He breaks the stare by turning on his heel and muttering a quiet 

 

“Whatever,” which Stan takes as his cue to follow him. 

 

The outside is cold and harsh. The streetlamps bright, but they feel gray and drab. The stars are covered by clouds. Craig is a few strides ahead of him, seemingly uninterested in striking up any sort of conversation, which Stan decides he will not tolerate. 

 

“Where are we going?” He asks, jogging to catch up. Craig ignores him completely, instead opting to light his cigarette. It takes a few tries for him to flick his lighter to life, battling against the wind. “Craig, where are we going?” Stan asks again. 

 

“Are you retarded?” Craig snaps, just as he’s gotten his cigarette to light. The cherry glow illuminates his face in warm hues of orange. “I said a walk . Now shut the fuck up and walk with me.” 

 

Stan tries to keep quiet and enjoy the night air, but his brain is going too fast. He feels like he needs to fill the empty space. 

 

“What did you and Tweek get up to today?” He asks. He’s painfully curious all of a sudden, mind racing with what-if’s. Kenny’s comment set him on edge earlier, and he’s finding Tweek’s clinginess suspicious.

 

Craig’s gaze remains focused straight ahead. He has his cigarette placed between his lips, smoke curling around him in the moonlight. Maybe Stan’s still tripping, but he doesn’t think he’s ever seen anyone look so beautifully mysterious in his life. Craig shrugs, blowing a puff of smoke from the corner of his mouth. 

 

“Hung out, got high. About the same thing you and I are doing right now.” He speaks so nonchalantly it’s infuriating. 

 

“Did you fuck him?” Stan blurts, callously. Craig stops walking, eyes wide, brows furrowed, and lips curled into something that looks akin to a snarl. His head snaps toward Stan, eyes pointed with something sharp. 

 

“What do you care, Stan?” He spits. “You have a girlfriend.” He places the cigarette up to his lips, taking a long drag. Stan watches him hold it in his lungs before slowly blowing it out through his nose, a sinking feeling in his chest. Stan hasn’t thought about Wendy all day, her figure nothing but a phantom memory in his mind. 

 

He saw her a few days ago, after weeks of awkwardness, and her tenderness had caught him off guard. They’d had a check-in, the kind of vulnerable, mushy bullshit Stan wouldn't dare share with anyone but her. While she stroked his hair, he let himself thought dump, both to her and the walls of her bedroom. She listened intently, of course. Wendy has always been a good listener. When she kissed him, it was slow and gentle, like they had all the time in the world.

 

It’s been a long time since Stan’s felt cherished like that, and she’s the only person capable of supplying him with that sort of sweetness. Obviously, Stan has decided to repay her by actively ignoring her in favor of doing mushrooms. This realization begins to encase his thoughts with darkness, collapsing into him like the world closing in. He has to redirect his thoughts or else the guilt might literally crush him. 

 

“So, you did fuck him.” He says. He shoves his hands in his jacket pockets, glaring at the toes of his shoes. Craig huffs. 

 

“Are you jealous, or something?” He asks, nose wrinkled and deep creases lining his brow. Stan presses his lips together, scuffing his shoe against the concrete. His silence makes Craig scoff. “And for the record, no, I didn’t fuck Tweek.” 

 

“He wants you to.” Stan says, thinking of the look in Tweeks eyes as he would play with Craig’s hands or stare into his face. 

 

“And that’s your business because...?” Craig asks. Stan pauses, tongue in cheek, his gaze refocusing on the horizon. He scuffs his shoe against the concrete. Craig is staring at him expectantly. When Stan doesn’t respond, he huffs again, rolling his eyes. “You put my dick in your hand once and now you think you own me.” 

 

“That’s not fair!” Stan argues. 

 

“Which is insane,” Craig continues, like Stan never said anything at all. “Because you have a girlfriend.” 

 

“Yeah.” Stan says, his words tasting bitter on his tongue. The dark, suffocating feeling is creeping back into his mind. “I do.” 

 

“I don’t even know where you’re getting this fucking idea.” Craig continues, pacing along the pavement, his frown only seeming to deepen. “In case you forgot, shit for brains, the only person I’ve fucked is-“

 

“Okay, fuck, I get it!” Stan says, voice raised. Craig pauses, halting his movements. His cigarette smells pungent. Stan’s voice rings too loud against the still night air. He huffs, pressing his forehead into his hands. 

 

“You have no reason to be so fucking obsessed with me.” Craig says. “Especially if you’re going to keep denying that anything happened between us.” 

 

Craig’s words are like a javelin through his chest. His skin, already hyper-sensitive with funky little mushroom feelings, blooms with pricks like fine needles. A range of emotions pass through Stan; fear, anger, sadness, but the most notable one is instant and extreme denial. 

 

“Nothing did happen between us.” He hisses through clenched teeth. Craig rolls his eyes, as if this is a joke to him, and not a funny one. “And if you tell anyone, I’ll-“

 

“You’ll what?” Craig challenges. “Lay a fucking finger on me, asshole. I dare you.” He steps closer, getting into Stan’s space. Although he knows he could easily overpower Craig if things were to get physical, Stan feels small with him this close. He’s certain cowering is not an attractive look on him, but the look in Craig’s eyes is murderous and he’s looming over Stan like a ghoul. He isn’t proud of what happens next. 

 

The thing is, Stan doesn’t intend to kiss Craig. In the same way he didn’t intend to punch him earlier today, or how he didn’t intend to sleep with him at Token’s party. It just sort of happens . The closeness gets to him, making his body urge to do something about it. 

 

Craig seems surprised when their lips meet, grunting awkwardly and stumbling back. Stan keeps a hold on him, wrapping his arms around his waist and kissing him harder. Craig kisses him back, hand cupping Stan’s cheek. He tilts his head to the side, opening his mouth to deepen the kiss. 

 

When Stan pulls away, Craig whimpers, chasing after his lips pathetically. His eyes are wide, Staring at Stan like a fish out of water. 

 

“What the fuck.” He mutters. Stan tries to offer him a grin. 

 

“Sorry, I-“ 

 

He’s cut off by Craig fisting his hands into the fabric of Stan’s coat, pulling him in for another heated kiss. Stan sighs softly, melting into it. Craig tastes like cigarette smoke and bad decisions, like infidelity, like freedom. His lips are rough, cold and slightly chapped from the chilled Colorado air. 

 

For the moments their lips are connected, moving against each other in a regretful and oh so wonderful dance, Stan feels like he’s trapped in a time loop. It occurs to him that perhaps he doesn’t want it to end. 

 

It does, of course, with Craig breaking away, his lips parted and eyes glazed over, looking like he’s just kissed heaven. Everything good always comes to an end. 

Chapter Text

Craig wakes up in Clyde’s living room at six-thirty in the morning, surrounded by a throng of teenage boys. The first thing he notes is that he’s had wet dreams like this. The second is that he’s laying face down in Clyde’s kitchen. Token is standing over him in fresh clothes. He looks fucking exhausted, eyes droopy like he hasn’t slept a wink. Craig for sure isn’t tripping anymore, but he feels kind of funny, all floaty and light. He grins up at Token, who gazes on him cautiously, as if he’s lost his fucking mind. 

 

“Good morning to you, too, asshole.” He says and Craig only grins wider. He flips onto his back, stretching his arms above his head before pushing himself into a sitting position. 

 

“I had a good night.” He says and Token raises a brow. Clyde groans from the otherside of the room, his head placed between his hands. 

 

“Motherfucker.” He moans. “Why does everything feel so weird.” 

 

“You did a bunch of drugs last night.” Token reminds him. Clyde laughs. 

 

“Oh, right. Silly me.” 

 

Kenny rouses from his sleep next, grinning lazily. He hadn’t moved from his spot on Clyde’s couch practically all night, hood up and murmuring nonsense. He yawns, stretching his arms out widely. 

 

“Mornin’ y’all.” He says with a slight Texan drawl. His gaze focuses on Token. “What the fuck is for breakfast?” 

 

Token glowers at him. 

 

“I don’t know and I don’t care. I’m not your mom.” He says and Kenny pouts. 

 

“You wound me, sir.” He says, clutching his hand to his heart dramatically. “I’m starving to death and you can’t even be bothered to care!” Token rolls his eyes, but otherwise ignores him. Kyle, who had been sleeping soundly with his head in Kenny’s lap, is the next to wake up, with a loud snort as Kenny shoves him off the couch. 

 

“Wha…?”

 

“Rise and shine, dickwad.” Kenny says and Kyle blinks at him sleepily. He immediately fishes his phone out of his pocket, rubbing at his forehead with his brows creased. 

 

“Fuck,” he groans, throwing his head back and squeezing his eyes shut. 

 

“If anyone needs a ride from me, start getting ready. We’re leaving in ten minutes.” Token says and Craig whines. The last thing he wants to do is go to school today. He turns to his right, finding Tweek sleeping soundly on the floor next to him. Instantly, Craig is rushed with memories, a messy, skunk smelling bedroom, video games, Tweek’s hand clasped in his. He remembers blossoms of colors, waves and wiggles lining Tweek’s face, how soft his hair had felt.

 

“No,” Tweek groans pathetically as Craig shakes his shoulder. 

 

“Get the fuck up, we have school.” Craig says. Tweek cracks an eye open, staring at him with heavy eyes. 

 

“Ditch with me.” He says. Craig pauses, weighing his options. He’s skipped school before, sure, but those days have always ended with a nasty fight with his parents. He already didn’t come home last night and his phone’s been dead for hours, a call from the school will surely only make whatever fights brewing worse. 

 

“What would we do?” Craig asks, in place of answering. Tweek pushes himself into a sitting position, settling on his knees. 

 

“I dunno, fuck. Anything!” Tweek says. He twitches a little, shoulder spasming upward and face scrunching. “My parents are, hnng, working today, so my house is free.” 

 

Craig grins, studying the slope of Tweek’s shoulders and the elongated line of his neck. His clothes are twisted, collared shirt hanging loosely off his frame.  “Weed?” Craig asks. Tweek’s eyes cut to Kenny’s direction, who’s still slouched on the couch, conversing with Kyle. He snaps back to Craig. 

 

“Yeah, I can get you weed.” He says, so confidently it takes Craig aback. He collects himself quickly, letting an easy grin settle on his face. 

 

“You had me at ‘my parents aren’t home.’” Craig says. Tweek punches him in the shoulder, his fists like getting pelted with rocks. Craig flinches, rubbing at his shoulder. 

 

“Shut up.” Tweek mutters, cheeks hued pink. He glances back over to Kenny, who’s now standing with his shoes on. Kyle’s holding his car keys. “Meet me at my place in an hour?” Tweek asks. 

 

“Sure.” Craig agrees. Tweek grins, reaching his hand out to wrap around Craig’s index and middle fingers. He squeezes them for a second as he inhales, and releases as he breathes out. Craig had never thought his hands were very big, but compared to Tweek’s, all spindly and slight, they seem massive. He supposes they ought to be, as would the rest of him in comparison to Tweek. On the grand scale of human sizes, Tweek probably falls somewhere in the middle. It’s a given that Craig would be taller than him, he’s taller than most everyone. With height comes other plights, like a size fourteen shoe and, apparently, obnoxiously large hands. This is only noticeable when Tweek’s hand is enveloped in his, but Craig makes certain to keep note.

 

The hand holding thing should probably be weirder than it is. Craig has known Tweek since grade school, and he’s never felt the need to platonically hold his hand until yesterday, locked away in Tweek’s bedroom. In the middle of rolling his blunt, Tweek had started breathing funny out of nowhere, then started twitching and wailing. Craig’s first instinct was to reach out and touch him, stupidly thinking maybe he could physically make the fit stopped. Craig had squeezed his hand, and then immediately pulled away like he’d been burned. He’d started to apologize, only to be silenced by Tweek grabbing his hand right back, squeezing the life out of it. He hadn’t been keen on letting go until they breached Clyde’s front door, and even since then, he keeps going back in for more squeezes. The physical touch seems to keep Tweek grounded, like he needs something stable and solid to keep himself from cracking, so Craig keeps allowing it without question. 

 

Once he’s finally released his hold, Tweek nods once, pushing himself off the ground and rushing in Kenny’s direction. Craig lays back down, arms behind his head and eyes fluttered closed. He could stand to go back to sleep for another hour, or maybe fuck around Clyde’s by himself and watch TV. He cracks his eyes open when he feels a presence looming over him, greeted only by the sight of Token and Clyde. Their backpacks are slung over their shoulders and staring at Craig expectantly. 

 

“I’m not going.” He says. 

 

“No fair!” Clyde whines. “I wanna skip school today.” He turns to Token, bottom lip sticking out in a pout. Token heaves a sigh, rolling his eyes. 

 

“You’re both such jackasses, I swear to God.” He says. “I’m leaving now. Come with me or don’t, I don’t care.” 

 

Clyde ends up following him out the front door, turning to shoot Craig a look once he’s in the doorway. 

 

“Don’t hang around my house all day.” He says. Craig responds by shooting him a thumbs up. 

 

“-I swear, dude, he just vanished.” Kyle says, addressing Kenny as they head toward the front door. Craig realizes that Tweek is no longer in sight, having slipped out like a phantom. 

 

“He probably just snuck out dude, who cares. Let’s go.” Kenny responds. At not even seven o’clock in the morning, Craig has no clue where he’d be in such a rush to get to, but he’s practically pushing Kyle out the door. 

 

“Happy birthday, Craig.” Kyle calls over his shoulder. Craig lifts his arm off the floor, raising his middle finger. 

 

“It’s not my birthday anymore. Get the fuck out.” He says. Kenny snorts. 

 

“A pleasure as always, good sir.” He says. Craig hears the front door slam shut. 

 

He lays on the ground for a while, eyes closed and body relaxed. He feels like he could drift off to sleep, or like he could stay here and ponder life’s deepest questions for a while. Instead, he pushes himself into a sitting position, deciding that if he’s going to lay down for the next hour, it may as well be in a bed. Craig certainly is not going to sleep in Clyde’s bed. He’s positive that Clyde hasn’t washed his sheets since tenth grade, making the concept of running a black light over them terrifying. Craig can sleep in his own filth just fine, but someone else's feels out of the question. He also has no intention of using Mr. Donovan’s room. He assumes it reeks of dust and loneliness, which couldn’t be more far from appealing. 

 

He ascends the stairs, headed toward the spare bedroom, way in the far corner of the house. He’s exhausted and his bones hurt. He knows for a fact that the room holds a memory foam mattress and black out curtains. Some alone time in a dark, silent room sounds incredible. 

 

Unfortunately, Craig does not get that luxury, as he’s instantly greeted with a large, human shaped lump in the center of the bed. Craig stays paused in the doorway, staring at the figure as it shifts, turning on its side to reveal a handsome, sleeping face. Stan looks softer when he sleeps, face round and sweet, and Craig isn’t sure what to do with this information. He snores softly, instantly igniting something fiery in Craig’s chest. He glowers, stomping over to the side of the bed and shaking Stan awake. 

 

“Get the fuck up.” He says. Stan grunts and rolls over, burying his face in the pillows. 

 

“Leave me alone.” He groans and Craig rolls his eyes. He throws the blankets off Stan, finding him clad in only his boxers. Craig halts, cheeks growing warm as he finds his eye lingering over Stan’s almost naked body. 

 

“Dude!” Stan whines, moving to grab the corner of the comforter. 

 

“Get out of bed, Stan.” Craig says, although he doubts he looks at all intimidating with his cheeks flushed red and his eyes focused on a spot behind Stan’s head. “Everyone else is gone. You can’t stay here all day.” 

 

“Just give me a few more minutes.” Stan argues, smushing the side of his face against the pillows. He sighs softly, Craig watching the rise and fall of his breath. He wrinkles his nose, tempted to push Stan out of the damn bed. He just wants to lay down in peace, dammit. Stan’s not even supposed to be here. “I was dreaming about you.” Stan mutters. 

 

That throws Craig for a loop. His eyes widen, scowl dropping in favor of a look of surprise. “You kissed me last night.” He says, although it’s more to remind himself than it is Stan. There are only two things Craig distinctly remembers from his trip last night. One was the moment Craig hit his peak, as he was listening to Kenny mutter ancient summonings, and he felt his soul leave his body. The other is Tweek, just as a general construct. Tweek stands out in his mind clear amongst the drug haze, his smile, his eyes, his voice, everything about him. Through the heavy film of Tweek hanging over Craig’s memory, Stan’s kiss feels indistinguishable, like a minor blip in the timeline. 

 

“Yeah, I know.” He says. Craig purses his lips, shoulders stiffening. 

 

“What kind of dreams were you having about me?” He asks. 

 

“Dirty ones.” Stan says. He cracks an eye open, taking in Craig’s expression. He’s smiling like an asshole. Craig sucks in a slight breath through his teeth, spine stiffening. Stan still hasn’t covered himself back up, leaving the lines of his back and the curves of his ass on display. Craig’s gaze lingers for a little too long, before promptly snapping to the wall behind him.

 

“Dirty ones.” He says under his breath, a light grin tugging at his lips. He can’t bear to look at Stan’s face, certain it’s smug. Out of the corner of his eye, Craig watches Stan roll onto his back. In a move of pure weakness, he lets his gaze drift to the lines of Stan’s abs. 

 

“What are you still doing here?” Stan asks. 

 

“Not your fucking business.” He replies. He musters up the balls to let his eyes drift to Stan’s face, which is a mistake. Stan’s posed in the pillows, a crooked, sultry sort of grin settled on his face. That look sends a jolt through Craig’s body, like an electric current surging up his spine. His shoulders tense, body shivering with nerves. As much as Craig would like to believe he holds any semblance of self control, Stan’s effect on him is saying otherwise. 

 

“So, the thing is,” Stan starts. “My girlfriend hasn’t sucked my dick in months and I kind of can’t stop thinking about your mouth.”  

 

Forever more, Craig will be completely and utterly ashamed that that line works on him. There’s absolutely no reason it should. Every rational thought in Craig’s head is screaming red flag. That stupid, awful line will forever mark Stan as a pompous douche. Craig’s dick, however? It disagrees. As a matter of fact, Craig’s dick is starting to become uncomfortably in favor of Stan’s terrible words. He also has to quickly accept the fact that when his dick gets involved, he has the moral backbone of a soggy carrot. Like, seriously, why is Stan bringing up his girlfriend not a turn off? He takes a moment, staring at Stan and his arms, and the way his biceps look with them folded like that. 

 

Out of nothing but complete horny adrenaline, Craig leans over and captures Stan’s lips in a kiss. He can feel them tugging up in a smile, right before those strong arms wrap Craig’s shoulders, tugging him close and throwing him off balance. Awkwardly, Craig stumbles, knees hitting the side of the bed as he falls into Stan. He braces his hands on the mattress, landing on either side of Stan’s hips. Their noses are squished together, lips intertwined. Stan is kissing him furiously, his hold on Craig sturdy, keeping him firmly in place. Craig’s hand goes to cup his jaw, thumb stroking at his cheek and urging him to open his mouth. Stan obliges, tilting his head to the side and deepening the kiss. His tongue pokes out, running over Craig’s bottom lip before he pulls it between his teeth. Craig groans, the slight pinch making him shiver. Stan’s lips are soft, his tongue skilled. He kisses with force and confidence; sturdy, strong, and experienced. It makes Craig’s knees weak.

 

He breaks away just long enough to crawl onto the bed, settling to straddle Stan’s lap. The position is, honestly, emasculating and awkward. Craig feels like a fumbling giraffe trying to fold up his body like this. He grunts, wrapping his arms around Stan’s neck, shifting in his lap to press himself closer. The physical touch is doing wonders to Craig’s body, regardless of how awkward he feels. They’re chest to chest, faces pressed close and tongues intertwined, which makes his blood run hot, rushing through him on a grand voyage south. However, Craig can’t help but wonder how much better all this touch and pure, animalistic contact would be if it were with someone else. In his mind, Craig imagines he’s the one who’s big and strong, paired with a partner that’s all cute and small, that he can just envelope with his body and positively melt into. 

 

Stan is, objectively, gorgeous. Craig admits this to himself with all the rage he can muster. As much as he hates Stan, the lines of his body and the tone of his voice set Craig’s nerves ablaze. He’s sturdy, stable, and so fucking handsome it makes Craig want to die, strong in a way that has his skin tingling -but he’s not melt worthy. It seems more like Stan is trying to melt into him, to just consume Craig’s body and take what he wants. The thought has Craig choked, tingling with energy. 

 

He kisses Stan then with so much force that they tilt backwards, Stan landing on his back and Craig laid out on top of him. The new position gives Stan’s hands more room to roam, squeezing Craig’s waist and running over the small of his back, dangerously close to grabbing his ass. Craig sighs slightly, hands grabbing either side of Stan’s face, thumbs running along his cheekbones. 

 

Stan shifts, tilting his hips up to flip them over. Craig rolls with him easily. Landing on his back with Stan settled between his legs. He grips Craig’s hips, the strength of his fingers harsh. Upon finding Stan half hard, Craig immediately twitches upward, chasing after his touch. He groans, face growing hot and breath getting heavy. The grin he feels stretching across Stan’s lips is most certainly cocky, which he would love to punch him for, if they were not currently entangled with something else. The boxers Stan’s wearing are thin, Craig realizes. He shifts his hips again, wiggling them around in a desperate attempt to feel Stan’s dick grinding against his own.

 

Stan’s lips travel to his neck, leaving hot, open-mouthed kisses in their wake. He pulls a patch of skin between his teeth, sucking harshly and making Craig squirm. 

 

“Careful with marks.” He says. Stan pulls back, staring at the patch of skin he was once latched onto before letting his eyes flick up to meet Craig’s gaze. He runs his thumb over the patch of skin, sensitive and making Craig shiver. 

 

“You’re safe.” He says. He cracks a grin. “Ashamed of me or something?” 

 

“You’re the one who wants to keep this a secret.” Craig reminds him, making Stan’s expression shift from cocky to kind of uncomfortable. “I’m just trying to keep my friends from asking questions.” 

 

“Thanks.” Stan mutters. 

 

He goes back to pressing kisses along any and all exposed skin he can find. The pickings are slim, as Craig’s wearing a disheartening amount of layers. He shifts, wiggling his arms to grab at the hem of his t-shirt. Stan gets the hint, moving to give him space as he tears the article over his head. Stan’s eyes focus on his chest, a grin tugging at his lips. He captures Craig in another heated kiss, lips locked together as Stan’s hands roam up and down his torso. The skin to skin contact feels like an itch being scratched, making Craig sigh against Stan’s mouth, melting into the touch. He bucks his hips, gasping when he feels Stan hard above him. Craig is certain his face is flushed. 

 

“Tell me about your dream.” He murmurs, just as Stan’s lips are peppering hot, open-mouthed kisses along the column of his neck. Stan hums, the vibration ringing across Craig’s skin. 

 

“It was pretty weird.” Stan says “you sucked a rainbow out of my dick.” 

 

It’s really not as sexy as Craig might have been hoping for, but the image of his lips stretched around Stan’s dick is shooting jolts up Craig’s spine. He shivers in his place, body squirming in such a way were his hips brush against Stan’s. He watches Stan’s eyes flutter closed, letting out a short breath as he braces himself on his forearms. 

 

“You really want your dick in my mouth.” Craig says. Stan offers him a cheeky grin, all teeth and mischievous eyes. 

 

“Blame Kenny’s mushrooms.” He says. Craig feels the corners of his lips twitch upward. He blows a slight puff of air from his nose. 

 

Stan kisses him again, forceful, with their teeth clacking together upon impact. Craig lets out an embarrassing squeak, legs instinctively wrapping around Stan’s waist and hands cupping the sides of his face. Stan grinds into him, positioning the bulge of his dick to rub against Craig’s ass. The friction makes Craig gasp, grinding down as he throws his head back. Stan takes that as an opportunity to press kisses along the expanse of his neck, sinking his teeth into whatever spots he so pleases. 

 

“Your jeans feel awful.” He murmurs. Craig snorts. 

 

“Stop humping me like a dog, then.” He says. Stan pauses, pulling away from the expanse of Craig’s skin for just long enough to lock eyes. He looks hungry, primal. It sends shivers through Craig’s body. 

 

“Or you could take them off.” He offers. Craig’s eyes widen, lips slightly parted as he finds himself getting lost in Stan’s gaze. God dammit, why does he have to be so fucking hot? Craig feels like putty in the palm of his hands. He lets out a low breath, eyes locking with Stan’s as he nods, making the grin on Stan’s face grow, a spark ignited behind his eyes. His hands fly to the button on Craig’s jeans, undoing them swiftly. 

 

Trapped in his own lust, Craig had forgotten that today was the day he’d decided to wear his Deadpool boxers. He blushes, squeezing his eyes shut and covering his face with his hands. Above him, Stan laughs. 

 

“Big Ryan Reynolds fan?” He asks. Craig doesn’t respond outside of a struggled groan, making Stan laugh again. “I can be Wade if you’re Vanessa.” 

 

Craig cracks his eyes open, staring at Stan from the spaces between his fingers. “You’re not funny enough to be Wade Wilson.” He says. 

 

“I’m strong enough.” Stan says. As if to demonstrate, he wraps his arms around Craig’s waist, hoisting him into a sitting position and pulling him into Stan’s lap. They’re nose to nose, breath mixing in the space between their lips. “I think I’m hotter, too.” Stan murmurs, caressing the skin of Craig’s cheek with the back of his hand. Craig scoffs. 

 

“Suffer full body burns and ass cancer, then we’ll talk.” He says. 

 

Clad in only their underwear, their dicks straining against the fabric, Craig kisses him again. He bucks his hips, angling them to to grind their cocks together. Craig sucks in a deep breath, breaking away from the kiss to rest his forehead against Stan’s shoulder. His body feels too hot, well aware that if they keep this up much longer, he’s going bust in his pants. Which would be pretty humiliating, and definitely not the outcome he’s chasing after. Still, the feeling of Stan moving against him is sending electricity through him, flushing his skin and making him whimper pathetically. Stan’s fingers are playing with the hem of his boxers, pulling it down past his hips. 

 

“Off.” He murmurs, voice deep and husky. It makes Craig gasp, nodding his head and shifting to crawl off Stan’s lap. He pulls his underwear off his hips, wrestling with them awkwardly. Stan is watching him like a hawk, whistling low once his dick is revealed. Craig blushes, suddenly feeling way too exposed. 

 

“You too.” He says, making Stan crack a grin. He pulls his underwear off, a lot more swiftly than Craig had been able to manage. He can’t help but stare once Stan’s left completely exposed, hard cock resting against his stomach. He’s staring at Craig expectantly. 

 

Craig’s eyes shift between the two of them, flicking from Stan’s lap to his own. He creases his brows, staring at his own dick like it’s the first time he’s seen it. “My dick is bigger than yours.” He says. 

 

Stan pauses, scowling down at himself, and then back at Craig. “So what?” He says, finally. It makes Craig grin triumphantly. “This isn’t a contest.” 

 

“Sure.” Craig agrees. “But if it were, I’d win.” 

 

Stan tackles him, making Craig flail in surprise as his back hits the mattress. He doesn’t have time to catch his breath, however, because Stan’s kissing him furiously, his hands curling around Craig’s wrists, pinning them to the bed. He grinds his hips against Craig’s, dicks sliding together in a way that has Craig’s back arching, head thrown into the pillows. 

 

“Bold words from someone who’s two seconds away from gagging on my cock.” Stan says, the deep, richness of his voice making Craig’s head spin. 

 

“Yeah.” He mutters, pathetically. Stan rolls them over, pulling Craig on top of him as he lands on his back. 

 

He trails kisses down Stan’s torso, pausing to pull patches of skin between his teeth, leaving slight red marks in his wake. Stan groans, threading his fingers through Craig’s hair. He presses hot, open mouthed kisses along his hips, the inside of his thigh, runs his tongue over the shaft of Stan’s dick. Stan gasps, hips twitching slightly as his grip on Craig’s hair tightens. Craig grins, wrapping his hand around the base of Stan’s dick as he peppers kisses from the base to the head. He pumps his hand a few times before parting his lips, wrapping them around the head of Stan’s cock. 

 

“Fuck.” Stan says, voice heavy and breathy like a sigh. Craig flicks his eyes up, looking at his face. His eyes are squeezed closed, head thrown back into the pillows. The flush spread across his cheeks fills Craig’s chest with pride. He slides his mouth down, engulfing more of Stan, his tongue running along the shaft. He starts bobbing his head, gagging slightly as he feels the head of Stan’s dick hit the back of his throat. His pumps his hand in rhythm with his mouth, hallowing his cheeks and sucking like a lollipop. 

 

Unfortunately, he doesn’t get much farther, as they’re interrupted by the abrupt sound of Stan’s phone ringing, loud and jarring. Craig flinches, pulling off quickly and immediately wiping at his mouth with the back of his hand. 

 

“Seriously?” He says, eyes narrowed in annoyance. Stan’s holding his phone in front of his face, lips tilted in a frown. He holds his hand up, as if to silence Craig. 

 

“It’s Wendy.” He says. He sits up, reaching over the side of his bed to grab his boxers. Craig scowls, crossing his arms over his chest. 

 

“Ignore it.” He says. Stan’s brows crease. His phone has stopped ringing, but he’s still staring at the screen with intensity. 

 

“I’m gonna go.” He says. He stands, pulling his underwear over his hips. Craig stares at the bulge of his dick longingly, half hard and hidden by thin fabric. “Later, dude.” 

 

“Thanks for the blue balls.” Craig mutters bitterly as he watches Stan leave the room. He’s greeted only with a middle finger in response. Once alone, he sits there for a good while, naked and glaring at the wall in front of him. Rage seeps through every pore of his skin, radiating off of him in white hot waves. Craig would genuinely like to know what the fuck is wrong with him. What would possibly possess him to allow Stan to do this? He hates Stan, hates him with every fiber of his being, why the fuck is he allowing himself to be toyed around with like this? Used and metaphorically spit on and thrown to the fucking dirt. He thinks of cigarettes and weed and Tweek, sitting at home and waiting for him. Craig craves the itch of rough smoke filling his lungs and a warm hand pressed in his. His balls hurt. His body feels unfulfilled and pathetic, uselessness set deep in his limbs. Stupid Stan and his stupid girlfriend and his stupid, shrimpy dick. Craig is going to fucking kill him. 

 

Once he’s dressed, Craig walks to Tweek’s house, still pissed and aching and ready to throw his fist through drywall. It’s on the other side of town, giving him plenty of time to clear his head. The fresh air feels nice, cold and brisk against his warm skin. He must smoke about half a pack of cigarettes on his walk, too distracted with thoughts of Stan and Wendy and his own miserable choices to bother limiting himself. His lungs taste like stale smoke, his clothes littered with ash. The nicotine high has him feeling woozy by the time he finally reaches The Tweak’s front door, head spinning like he’s drunk. It’s unlocked, so he lets himself inside. 

 

Craig has only been to Tweek’s house a handful of times. His parents can be weird about having company over, but Craig’s never quite understood why. Every piece of decor and furniture is pretty basic. It’s tidy and clean enough, and outside of the several large, framed posters of coffee cups, there’s nothing all too out of the ordinary. He can hear Tweek banging around upstairs, screeching at himself and stomping around his room. Craig heads toward the noise. 

 

Tweek’s room is messy. And not in the same way Craig’s is, where the floor is covered in dirty laundry and his bed is unmade, but in the sense that it looks like a tornado hit. There’s little empty floor space and his shit is everywhere. Plethoras of fidget spinners are shoved into his open desk drawers and there are legos all over the floor, which seems like a hazard. His clothes are piled on top of a bare mattress and his sheets and comforter are on top of his desk. There are food wrappers and coffee cups sprawled all over the floor. His back is turned when Craig walks in. He’s squatting over something and muttering what sounds like nonsense to himself. 

 

“Hey.” Craig says. Tweek jumps, whipping around quickly to stare at Craig with wide, unsettled eyes. 

 

“Jesus fuck.” He says. His voice sounds shrill and his expression looks wild. “You almost killed me. I almost went into cardiac arrest.” Craig rolls his eyes. 

 

“You’re being dramatic.” He says. He peers over Tweek’s shoulder, but can’t make out whatever the fuck is going on behind the mess. 

 

“You’re late.” Tweek says. “I thought I got that weed for nothing.” 

 

Craig shrugs in return. “Sorry, I lost track of time.” He says. He studies the room, gesturing to whatever mess is happening behind Tweek. “What are you doing?”

 

Tweek glances behind his shoulder. “I was gonna pierce my septum.” He says. 

 

“Yourself?” Craig asks. 

 

“Fucking obviously.” He answers.

 

“Tweek, you can’t keep your hands steady enough to take notes in class. Why do you think you can pierce your own face?” Craig asks. Tweek puffs up like he’s offended. 

 

“I can do it!” He argues. Craig rolls his eyes. 

 

“That’s stupid.” He says. 

 

“Fuck you!” Tweek responds. He runs his fingers through his hair, hands quaking. “Nggh, watch this!”

 

It’s not long before Craig finds himself standing awkwardly in the center of the bedroom, watching Tweek hunch over his mirror, needle in hand. It seems like a terrible idea. But, Craig supposes if he can pierce his own tongue drunk, Tweek might be capable of avoiding serious injury. When he pushes the needle through his nose, it’s quick and smooth. Tweek doesn’t flinch. He lets it go halfway, turning to Craig with the piercing needle sticking out of his nose like a bull. 

 

“Tada!” Tweek says. Craig gives him a little round of applause. 

 

“Impressive.” He agrees. “Get the jewelry in, asshole. That can’t be sanitary.” Tweek rolls his eyes, but listens. He turns back to the mirror to slide the needle out of his nose, instantly hooking the jewelry into the fresh wound. He hardly struggles at all with screwing the ball into the horseshoe. Craig is pretty impressed. 

 

“Nice.” He says. Tweek grins at him. The piercing suits his face. It makes him look more impish and mischievous. Craig grins back. “I have no fucking clue how you managed that, but it looks good.” Tweek beams.

 

“I know.” He says. “Do you want one?” 

 

Craig blinks at him. 

 

“What?” 

 

Of all the stupid things Craig’s done in his life, he’s certain this lands somewhere in the top five. He’s also certain his dad will kill him when he gets home. This is entirely unnecessary, he’s eighteen now and could go to a professional piercer whenever he so pleased. He doesn’t need to be getting a back alley piercing by his friend who casually smokes meth, but, well…

 

Fuck it. 

 

He’s laying flat on his back on Tweek’s bedroom floor, Tweek straddling his lap. He’s hunched over him, staring up Craig’s nose with his brows pinched in concentration. 

 

“This might get too personal.” He says. Before Craig has time to react, Tweek is shoving his index fingers up Craig’s nose. Their faces are mere inches apart, Tweek’s expression focused. It reminds Craig of the hours he spent staring into it last night, playing with his hair and touching his cheeks. If Tweek’s fingers were not currently frogging around in Craig’s nose, he’d be tempted to reach out and touch it. Instead, mean little fingertips keep pinching his septum, making Craig feel like he’s about to sneeze. 

 

“Get out of my nose.” He says, squirming awkwardly. Tweek scowls. 

 

“Stop moving.” He says.

 

Craig, begrudgingly, stills himself. “Get out of my nose.” He says, again. “Please.” 

 

“Sweet talk doesn’t work on me, Craig Tucker.” Tweek says. But he removes his fingers. He goes to pick up the needle. “I’m going to penetrate your septum now.” 

 

“Don't call it tha-“ Craig is cut off by Tweek clamping a hand over his mouth, seriousness written across his face. That look has Craig’s body tingling. 

 

“Stop talking.” He says, so focused and intense it can only be taken as an order. Craig scowls at him, but keeps his mouth tightly clamped shut after Tweek removes his hand. He holds the needle up to Craig’s nose, centering it. “Breathe in.” He orders.

 

Craig takes a deep breath in. Tweek stares at him, his free hand holding on to the side of Craig’s head, fingers tangled in his hair. His brows twitch downward. 

 

“I can fucking feel your heart trying to jump out of your chest, man, calm down.” He says, exasperated. “I promise it doesn’t hurt that bad.” 

 

“What if I told you I’m afraid of needles?” Craig asks, which he isn’t. Tweek scowls, his left eye spamming slightly. Otherwise, his body stays still. Craig is damn near impressed with how long he’s managed to go without twitching to squawking. 

 

“I’d tell you that’s fucking stupid.” He says. “Stay still, and breathe in.” 

 

Craig does as he’s told, wincing as Tweek surprise attacks him and shoves a fucking needle through his nose. It’s not painful, but it sure does make Craig’s eyes tear up like a motherfucker. “Jesus.” He says. 

 

“Stop whining, I’m not done.” Tweek responds. Getting the jewelry in is the worst part. It hurts like a piece of glass being pulled through his skin, and Tweek does not have kind and gentle hands. Craig sucks a deep breath in and pounds his fist on the tile. 

 

“Motherfucker.” Craig whines. 

 

“You sound like a pussy.” Tweek finishes messing with the jewelry and grabs Craig’s face from under his chin, squishing his cheeks and forcing him to tilt his head up. He stares at Craig’s face for a hot second, inspecting his work. Craig stares back, but he feels a little ridiculous. The concentrated look on Tweek’s face is making him antsy, and the hand clamped around him isn’t particularly gentle. He’s certain he looks akin to a pug with his cheeks squished. Finally, Tweek nods and clambers off of him, allowing him to sit up.

 

“Yeah, it’s good.” Tweek says. He tilts his head, gesturing toward the mirror. “Go look.” 

 

Craig stands, looking at himself in the bathroom mirror. He likes it, he thinks. The jewelry, marked right in the center of his face, manages to change up his whole look. He comes off as meaner, the natural edges of his face accentuated. “Not bad.” He mutters. He catches sight of Tweek’s reflection in the mirror. He’s beaming. 

 

“Told you I could do it.” He brags. 

 

“I’ll admit it, I was wrong.” Craig says. He stares at his reflection a moment longer, taking in his newfound edges. “What now?” He asks, finally turning away from the mirror. Tweek is fidgeting in his spot. 

 

“I dunno.” He says. “I have coke.” 

 

“What?” Craig asks.  

 

“I have a couple grams of coke.” Tweek repeats. “I stole it from Kenny.”

 

Craig stares at him, brows furrowed. “Excuse me?” He says, feeling like his brain is incapable of processing this information. It’s not exactly the fact that Tweek is in possession of drugs that’s throwing him off. He’s spent enough time around Kenny to be used to pretty much everything. Craig figures that’s the nature of hanging around drug dealers -being exposed to a plethora of drugs. It’s just that Craig has only ever done coke twice, when he was insanely drunk, and it scared the shit out of him both times. He doesn’t like the nosebleeds, or the heart palpitations he gets when he’s coming down, and he’s fairly certain his brain isn’t meant to go that fucking fast. He’s also pretty sure Tweek doesn’t need to be going that fast, either. “You want me to do fucking what?” He asks. 

 

Tweek cocks his head to the side. “You don’t have to do anything, man.” He says. “But I have coke, if you want it.”

 

“Coke that you stole from Kenny?” Craig says. Tweek grins, like he’s proud of himself. “Aren’t you guys fighting, or something?” 

 

“Kinda.” Tweek says. “He's refusing to give me my shit, so I’m helping myself to his.” His fists are balled and he’s running his knuckles over each other. His hand movements are excessive and vigorous. Craig cringes. 

 

“Jesus, Stop.” He says, reaching out to bat at Tweek’s hands. Tempted as he might be to unload the can of worms Tweek just dropped into his lap, Craig is a lot more interested in making sure he doesn’t give himself a friction burn. Tweek drops his hands, staring at Craig curiously. His eyes are wide, teeth clicking and jaw trembling. He grabs Craig’s hand, squeezing it tight and making Craig yelp like a dog. 

 

“Ow, fuck.” He says, making Tweek’s grip loosen. He pulls his hand back, shaking it out. “Easy with your hands.” 

 

“Sorry.” Tweek says, quickly, his face paling. 

 

“It’s fine, that just fucking hurt.” Craig replies. He stares at his palm, seeing it glow bright red. “You can hold my hand, but you can’t break it.” 

 

“Sorry -fuck-“ Tweek wheezes, like a panicked switch has been flipped in his brain, grabbing tight fistfuls of his hair. “Sorry, sorry,” he repeats, chanting his apology like a mantra. He drops to the floor, knees pulled tight to his chest. He starts rocking back and forth, his breath struggled. 

 

“God dammit.” Craig says, falling to his knees. He reaches his hand out, offering them up for Tweek to take. He shakes his head, burying his face between his knees as he struggles out a sob. 

 

“Fuck,” Craig mutters, growing panicked. “Fuck, fuck.” He searches around Tweek’s room, desperately hoping for something, anything, to help calm him. Tweek’s sobbing loudly now, concerning shivers running through his body. Craig’s eyes land on the bong sitting on his windowsill, the water starting to turn green and the sides caked with resin. Craig feels a moment of triumph wash over him. 

 

“Weed?” He offers. Tweek doesn’t seem to hear him over his sobs. Craig clears his throat, trying again. “Do you want weed? Would that help?” 

 

Tweek doesn’t respond for a moment, leaving Craig stuck staring at him and desperately hoping his episode will pass. He lifts his arm, shaking like a leaf, his hand curled into a fist. He tilts his wrist, lifting his thumb up before letting out another sequence of wails. Craig makes quick work of grabbing the bong, sitting himself down on Tweek’s floor and searching for his baggy of weed. He knows it’s around here somewhere, he was just here yesterday. 

 

Under Tweek’s bed, just below the footboard, sits a ziploc baggy. Craig grabs for it, whooping in success to find three large nugs of pot inside. He starts packing the bowl, grinding the nugs up between his fingers and packing down as much as he can. When he’s finished, he hands the bong to Tweek, along with his blue bic lighter. 

 

Tweek lifts his head, eyes streaming with tears as they zero in on his bong. He wraps his fingers around the neck of it, letting his legs splay out in front of him as he brings his lips to the mouthpiece. That first hit seems to calm him down instantly. It’s a big one, too, the kind where he holds the lighter to the bowl for a solid ten seconds, letting his piece be engulfed in smoke. The pungent smell of marijuana assaults Craig’s senses, making him crave a hit of his own. Tweek holds the smoke in for a few seconds, blinking tears out of his eyes before slowly blowing it out, his chest falling with his exhale. He passes the bong to Craig. 

 

“Better?” Craig asks before taking his own hit. 

 

“Yeah.” Tweek says. He brings his knees back up to his chest, crossing his arms over them.

 

The second the smoke enters Craig’s lungs, he feels like he’s going to throw up. He sputters out a fit of coughs, smoking billowing out of his mouth in harsh, aggressive puffs. He feels his lungs constricting, rejecting the stale, bitter smoke they just endured. Eyes squeezed shut, starting to pool with tears, Craig brings his shirt over his mouth and nose, coughing loudly into the fabric. Had his ears not been preoccupied with the hellish sounds of his own lungs constricting, Craig would have heard the sweet, gentle sounds of Tweek’s giggles. He rubs at his sternum in rapid, up and down motions, trying to swallow his coughs in favor of deep breaths. 

 

Once the fit is over, he breaths out a sigh of relief, his brain feeling like tv static. He blinks through his wet eyes, sniffs awkwardly, and raises his gaze to land on Tweek, who’s grinning from ear to ear. Craig cracks a smile, letting out a light chuckle. Tweek laughs back and suddenly, like some sort of domino effect, they’re both giggling like fools. Tweek’s smile is huge, funky looking on his face, and it makes Craig laugh harder. He falls to his side, curling in on himself as he clutches at his stomach. Tweek seems to be having a hard time catching his breath above him, head thrown back and a large smile on his face. His eyes are still red and wet.

 

“Fuck,” Craig mutters, sitting back up into a crisscross applesauce position and wiping away his tears with the pad of his thumb. His smile feels like it’s taken over half his face. “Look, we match.” He says, his own voice sounding easy and relaxed to his ears. 

 

Tweek cocks his head to the side, his grin faltering in favor of confusion. Craig sniffs, pointing back and forth between himself and Tweek. “Just a couple of teary eyed, bull-ringed assholes.” He clarifies. Tweek’s smile lights back up. 

 

“Do you wanna play video games?” He offers. “After we kill the bowl, obviously.” 

 

“Fuck yeah I do.” Craig easily agrees. 

 

They end up playing seven rounds of Mortal Kombat, which Craig isn’t very good at. Fighting games and button mashing aren’t his forte, but Tweek is a fucking beast. He manages to kick Craig’s ass all seven rounds, in victories that are anything but shallow. Getting his ass repeatedly creamed is not doing wonders for Craig’s self esteem, and neither is Tweek’s incessant, and surprising, love for trash talk. 

 

“I’m gonna whoop you ass so good, man.” He says. “You’re dead, bitch! I’m gonna fuck your corpse.”

 

“I’m sure you will, weirdo.” Craig responds, right as his character gets roundhouse kicked in the face. “God, I fucking suck at this.” 

 

“Ha!” Tweek shouts as the fatality screen flashes. “Yeah you do! I win.” Craig blows a raspberry. He’s certain that if they were playing Battlefront or Civilization, this would be a different story, and he prides himself on that bit of knowledge. Still, his ego is pretty bruised.

 

“God dammit.” He mutters. “You’re going to spend the rest of our lives holding this over my head.” Tweek beams. 

 

“Fuck yeah I will.” He says. He pauses the game in favor of stretching his arms over his head, legs splayed out in front of him. He turns to Craig, an easy smile settled across his face. “Wanna play again?” He asks. 

 

“Give me a minute.” Craig responds. “My ego still hurts.”

 

Tweek snickers. “You’d be better if you did some coke with me.” He offers. 

 

“Absolutely not.” Craig says. “Coke gives me bloody noses.” 

 

Tweek stares at him, cocking his head to the side. “So?” He asks. 

 

“So, I don’t wanna get a bloody nose.” Craig responds. Tweek wrinkles his nose, brows knit. He reaches out to touch Craig’s face, squishing his cheeks between the palms of his hands. The touch is initially jarring, making Craig flinch. Since yesterday, Tweek has been increasingly comfortable with physical contact, grabbing Craig’s hand when he gets nervous or positioning himself alarmingly close to Craig’s body, but face touching hasn’t been on the table. Regardless, Craig allows him to mess with the skin of his cheeks, rolling it between his palms and giggling at the wet sounds they make. It’s those soft giggles that have Craig allowing this, that and the weed and the leftover lingerings of mushrooms in his system. 

 

“You’re weird.” Tweek says, finally, making Craig sputter. 

 

“I’m weird?” He asks, although his voice sounds odd with his face all smushed. 

 

“Yeah.” Tweek responds. His eyes are sparked wide with confusion, brows twisted like he’s looking at a two-headed beast, but he’s smiling in a way that’s too wide for his face. “You haven’t done coke, but you smoke cigarettes.” 

 

“I’ve done coke.” Craig argues. “I just don’t do coke. It’s crazy addictive and it’s fucking bad for you.” 

 

“Same with cigarettes.” Tweek says. 

 

“Cigarettes don’t give me bloody noses.” He retorts. 

 

“Nope.” Tweek says, popping the p. “They just give you cancer.” 

 

“Get off my dick.” Craig defends. Tweek shrugs, dropping his hands from Craig’s face in favor of grabbing his fingers. He laces their fingers, palms pressed together as he lightly strokes his thumb over Craig’s knuckles. He’s staring at them intently, eyes glue to the scene in front of him like he’s never seen anything more interesting. 

 

“Ugh,” Tweek whines, throwing his head back. “You’re making me want a cigarette. You smell like them.” 

 

“I have some.” Craig offers, reaching into the pocket of his jeans. Tweek’s eyes light up, practically bouncing on his knees like an excited child. 

 

“Do you want more weed?” He asks. “I was gonna roll a blunt.” 

 

Craig hums, cursing under his breath as he opens his pack of smokes to only find two stray cigarettes left. “Sure.” He mutters. Tweek cocks his head. 

 

“Are you okay?” He asks. Craig huffs, staring at his nearly empty pack of cigarettes like it’s personally betrayed him. 

 

“I’m low on smokes.” He grumbles. Tweek purses his lips, tapping his fingers rapidly against his knees. 

 

“I think I have a vape somewhere.” He says. Craig wrinkles his nose. 

 

“Vapes are for douchebags.” Craig says. Tweek giggles, that funny, questioning grin plastered on his face. 

 

“See, man, you’re totally weird!” He accuses. “Any way you can ingest nicotine is for douchebags. Cigarettes aren’t any better.”

 

“Why are you bashing cigarettes so bad? You smoke meth.” Craig says, growing irritated. 

 

Like a flip has been switched in Tweek’s brain, his smile drops. He pulls his hand away from Craig’s like he’s been burned, face paling as he curls up into himself. He twitches, face scrunching as his head jerks to the side. 

 

“Fuck you!” Tweek says, voice harsh and loud, just a hair away from being a shout. It takes Craig aback, any grumpiness about Tweek’s teasing suddenly dropped. Tweek takes a deep breath, relaxing his face. He thrusts his hand out, palm facing up. His fingers twitch in a come hither motion. Instinctively, Craig intertwines their fingers. 

 

“Don’t break my hand, please.” He says, voice soft. Tweek cracks a smile, a soft huff of laughter escaping his lips. He squeezes Craig’s hand, grip firm, but not painful. Craig releases a breath he didn’t know he was holding. 

 

“Sorry.” Tweek mutters, eyes still fluttered closed. His voice is weak and shaky. He scrunches his face, a visible shudder running through his body. Impulsively, Craig squeezes his hand back. It makes Tweek’s face relax, lips tugging up in a ghost of a smile. 

 

“I’m sorry.” Craig responds. 

 

“My parents call it coffee.” Tweek says, voice hushed to a whisper. His brows crease, like he’s thinking, that ghost of a smile falling back into a frown. “Or medicine.” 

 

“What?” Craig asks. 

 

“Meth.” Tweek clarifies. “That’s what they call it. Like I don’t know it’s meth.” 

 

Craig stays quiet for a while, listening to the soft sounds of Tweek’s breathing, and focusing on their skin pressed close. 

 

“If you know what it is, why does it freak you out so bad when I mention it?” He asks, finally, doing his best to match Tweek’s hushed tone. Tweek shivers, shoulders shaking violently. He squeezes Craig’s hand tight. 

 

“I’m not really supposed to, hnng, tell anyone.” He says. “It’s for my brain, because I’m sick, um, like, paranoid and hyperactive and stuff. Doctors suggested adderall. My parents like meth, better.” 

 

“That’s insane.” Craig says. Tweek shrugs. 

 

“It’s all the same shit.” He mutters. “Amphetamine and stuff. It all does the same thing.” 

 

“Yeah, okay, but that’s not fucking true.” Craig corrects, eyes wide and jaw dropped. He cannot fucking believe what he’s hearing. “Buying meth from Kenny, of all people, is not the same as doctor prescribed medication. Your parents are just off their fucking rocker.”

 

Tweek laughs, a slight chuckle that bubbles up from deep in his chest. When he grins, it’s wide and crooked and, quite honestly, adorable. He sniffles, wiping at his nose with the sleeve of his shirt. 

 

“Why the fuck do they call it coffee? That’s stupid.” Craig adds, making Tweek burst into a fit of giggles. He covers his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt, green eyes bright. Craig wonders if his cheeks are hued pink. 

 

“They used to like, uh, put it in my coffee? Like, argh,” Tweek pauses to spasm, his face tightening up and body running with shakes. “Sorry, sorry. Just a little bit mixed in with the grounds, before I was old enough to, like, take it myself.” 

 

“Okay, it’s official; you were raised by two full blown retards. Stop listening to your parents, they’re fucking insane.” Craig says. 

 

“Shut up.” Tweek whines, burying his face in his knees. He runs his thumb over Craig’s knuckles, his touch gentle. His shoulders are still shaking with his giggles. Craig gives his hand a slight squeeze, his own grin splitting his face. 

 

“I’ve never heard more irresponsible parenting in my life, Jesus fuck.” He says, growing increasingly pissed off. Tweek’s personal habits are, at the end of the day, not Craig’s business. But this one is life ruining and crazy dangerous. If the choice were Tweek’s and Tweek’s alone, maybe Craig wouldn’t be sitting here, absolutely seething. This wasn’t his choice, though, this addiction was something that was thrust on him by people he was supposed to be able to trust. Craig’s hold on his hand tightens, squeezing harsh as he grinds his teeth. Tweek lifts his head, peering at Craig over the tops of his knees. 

 

“Stop snarling, you look like a feral dog.” Tweek says. Craig presses his lips closed, brows lowering in annoyance. 

 

“Just start taking adderall, I swear to fuck.” Craig mutters. Tweek hums lightly under his breath, giving Craig’s hand a final squeeze. 

 

“I think I need a second by myself to, like, calm down.” Tweek says, releasing his hold on Craig’s hand. He wraps his arms around his knees, resting his chin on top of them. 

 

“Oh.” Craig says, feeling suddenly discouraged. He knew pushing this conversation would make Tweek shell up, and he’s certain his palpable anger did nothing to help. His eyeline falls to his lap, nose down turned and arms hanging loosely to his sides. 

 

“Will you go to the gas station down the road and get more cigarettes?” Tweek asks. “We’ll smoke them together whenever you get back.”

 

Craig perks up at that, brows slightly raised as his lips tug up in a grin. “Sure, okay.” He agrees. “What do you smoke?” 

 

“I don’t care, man.” Tweek responds. He shakes for a moment, a violent shudder running through his body. He takes a deep breath, hand to his chest as if he’s monitoring the rise and fall of his chest. “I’ll give you whatever cash I have, just get what you smoke. I’ll be happy.” 

 

“I don’t need your money.” Craig responds. He pats his pockets, his wallet filled with two hundred dollars worth of birthday cash. He figures he’s safe to blow about half of it on cigarettes. “Do they card?” He asks. Tweek gives him a funny look. 

 

“It’s on the other side of the tracks, man.” He says. “The one with the barred windows, like two blocks down from Kenny’s house.” 

 

Craig knows which gas station Tweek is talking about. Kenny’s dragged him there on one too many drunken, stupid nights over their high school years. The place reeks of mold and rat shit and someone overdosed in the shitty, single stall bathroom about six months ago. The body had been in there for over twenty hours, rotting and making the place stink of stale heroin. Craig’s been buying smokes there since he was thirteen. 

 

“Okay.” He says. He stands, reaching out to ruffle Tweeks hair. “I’ll be back.” He says. 

 

Tweek wrinkles his nose, batting Craig’s hand away. “Take your time.” He says. “I promise I’ll be all good once you get back.” 

 

Craig hands him his last two cigarettes, Tweek accepting them with questioning eyes. “For your troubles.” Craig offers. 

 

“Thanks.” Tweek mutters, weakly. 

 

Craig’s trek to the gas station is, most notably, freezing. Something happened in the hours he was at Tweek’s, locked inside with video games and marijuana galore, because suddenly the entire town has been engulfed in winter chill. Craig shivers, teeth chattering as he pulls his jacket closer to himself. The cold makes his cheeks burn, the tip of his nose like a block of ice. He should’ve worn a warmer coat. He would’ve, had he known the temperature would suddenly drop below freezing. He huffs, his breath blowing out in visible puffs. With everything in his body, Craig wishes he hadn’t given his final two cigarettes to Tweek. They would have done him wonders on a walk like this, the kind that takes over half an hour in freezing weather. Not to mention, he’s feeling pretty frazzled. Although Craig is well aware that whatever’s going on in Tweek’s head is his own burden to bear, that doesn’t make the outbursts any easier to watch. He appreciates Tweek for being transparent, however. Craig has no clue how he'd be feeling right now if Tweek were the type to lie about his needs. 

 

Once he’s breached the other side of town, the one with the fucked up houses and the stale smell of roadkill hanging in the air, he knows he’s approaching the gas station. It’s like a breath of relief, one that reminds Craig how close he is to his goal. He longs for the warmth of Tweek’s bedroom, and his eyes and his cute smiles. He longs for smoke in his lungs and nicotine highs and weed. Only a few more blocks to go before he’s halfway finished with his quest. He feels his phone buzz in his pocket, reaching for it instantly under the circumstance that it might be Tweek. It is, unfortunately, not. Instead, Craig is greeted with what could quite possibly be the most cryptic message he’s ever received from one Kenny McCormick. 

 

From: McCormick brand spice

The Gods are testing me and I didn’t study. 

 

Craig halts, reading the sentence over and over with his brows creased, an obvious sneer on his face.  

 

From: Craig

Tf are you talking about?

 

Kenny’s response is near instantaneous, and especially horseshit. 

 

From: McCormick brand spice

You’ll see :)

 

Craig rolls his eyes, pocketing his phone and continuing on his mission. Over the years they’ve known each other, and kindled something similar enough to friendship, he’s gotten plenty of strange texts from Kenny. Generally, when he starts babbling on about ancient beings and the secrets of the universe, Craig assumes he’s on something. What, exactly, he wouldn’t have any idea, but Craig has always assumed himself to be a last resort in Kenny’s eyes, the guy he goes to when no one else will listen to his gibberish. However, never once has Kenny included Craig in his strange ramblings about Gods and magic and other such horseshit, a realization that makes Craig suddenly pale with nerves. Never will Craig be gullible enough to believe Kenny is legitimately clairvoyant, or that he has some sort of ins with the universe, but he does find himself unsettled by Kenny’s strange little sequence of texts. 

 

As he passes Kenny’s neighborhood, a part of Craig is tempted to take a little detour. He imagines knocking on Kenny’s front door and demanding to know what the fuck it is he’s going on about now. A bitter taste settles in Craig’s mouth. Kenny’s ability to throw off his mood with a few short, odd sentences doesn’t sit right with him. He reaches into his pocket, pulling his phone back out to shoot Kenny another text. 

 

From: Craig

Are you home?

 

Kenny takes a moment to respond, leaving Craig frozen in his spot on the sidewalk, staring at his phone screen like a crazy person. He taps his foot against the ground impatiently. 

 

From: McCormick brand spice

No, I’m at school. 

 

Craig snorts, rolling his eyes. 

 

From: Craig

You should’ve just ditched.

 

This time, Kenny’s response comes instantly. 

 

From: McCormick brand spice

I’ll only ditch school if I’m dead. 

 

That’s a boldfaced fucking lie, Craig thinks. He’s positive Kenny has gone days on end without showing up to school before, like he’s dropped off the face of the planet. Craig always assumes he’s playing hooky, or that he’s coming down from a particularly intense bender and doesn’t want anyone to bother him. He generally doesn’t answer his phone during those times, like he’s sleeping for days on end. Which wouldn’t be impossible. He’s bragged to Craig before that he’s slept for forty-eight hours straight. Still, Craig isn’t going to call him out. Half the fun of hanging around Kenny is getting to mock all the stupid shit he says behind his back. 

 

Craig continues on with his walk, knowing full well that his destination is approaching. Thank God for that, the cold is really starting to bug him now. Usually, the cool air feels nice to his senses, but right now, in nothing but his jeans from yesterday and his thin blue hoodie, he feels like he’s getting face-fucked with frostbite. The wind is picking up, reminding him how close October is approaching, which means nothing but heavy amounts of snow and ice caked roads. 

 

Just as he spots the gas station in sight, gray and dingy and encased in grime, his phone starts vibrating in his pocket. He furrows his brows, wondering who the hell could be calling him at one o’clock in the afternoon on a Tuesday. His friends should all be sitting in class, but even if they weren’t, they know damn well not to call him anyway. He fishes his phone out of his pocket, finding an unknown number flashed across the screen. Craig debates whether or not he should answer. His first assumption is that it’s a telemarketer, which would be a massive waste of his time, but it has a park county area code, which Craig finds suspicious. He quickly decides to accept the call. 

 

“What?” He asks upon answering. 

 

“Dude.” The voice on the other end is deep, husky, and incredibly familiar. It makes Craig stiffen as he recognizes it, his confusion quickly morphing into shock. He feels his heart rate drop, body stilling. Why the fuck is Stan calling him right now? How did he even get Craig’s fucking number? “I have a six pack of beer and a mason jar full of weed. Come hang out.” 

 

“Jesus.” Craig says. He’s shivering now, the sudden stop in motion making the air feel a hell of a lot cooler. He still can’t get his body to move. 

 

“Is that a yes?” Stan asks. Yes? A fucking yes? Craig can’t even force his piece of shit brain to think right now, how the hell is he supposed to rationalize drinking with Stan on a fucking Tuesday afternoon. His parents will already be pissed that he didn’t go to school today. He doesn’t even want to think about what will happen if he comes home drunk. He must be taking a while to respond, because Stan speaks up again. “I’m still thinking about your mouth. It kind of drives me crazy.” 

 

Craig feels like he’s going to explode. A current goes through his body, leaving him thrumming with some type of energy. To be completely honest, he hasn’t thought much about Stan since this morning, but now it’s like he’s getting hit with an overwhelming wave of memories. Heavy breaths and little moans, his warm skin and strong body; bullshit like that. And that stupid comment. That horrendous you’re kind of driving me crazy. Fuck this. Craig can’t handle this right now. Not only is he itching bad for a cigarette, but he has Tweek sitting at home, waiting for him. He realizes that he’s been silent for a little too long, stuck in his own panic. His head feels heavy and confused, his thoughts jumbling together in incoherence. He takes a deep breath, saying the first words that come to mind. 

 

“Don’t fucking call me again.” He hangs up, quickly and without remorse, continuing on with cigarettes on the mind. He manages to make it a good thirty feet from the gas station before getting overwhelmed again, the thoughts in his head straying from cigarettes and returning to Stan. What about Stan, exactly, Craig can’t focus on. His head is racing so quickly that he thinks he’s going to get a goddamn migraine. Most of them consist of Stan’s muscles and his eyes and his dick and his fucking everything. It’s disgusting and it makes Craig want to put his fist through drywall. Why does that asshole have to be so-

 

Fuck. Why does he have to be so hot? Craig wishes he’d stocked up on cigarettes earlier. He wishes Tweek hadn’t needed space and sent him out on a quest. He’d give anything to be with him right now, smoking and playing video games, instead of stuck in the cold, pacing over a stupid boy. He stares at the gas station, picturing his sweet blue American Spirits. Cursing under his breath, he pulls his phone out of his pocket, scrolling through his call log.

 

Stupid phone calls, givng him the jitters. He quickly enters Stan’s number into his phone, still unsure of how the motherfucker got his contact information. Whatever. If he cares enough, he’ll just ask, like a normal person. He’s not a nervous, blushing virgin with only dick on his mind. He can hold a fucking conversation. He types out a message, and then panics and erases it, and types out a new one. Before panicking. And erasing it. Like some sort of nervous, blushing virgin. Ugh, why is this so hard? 

 

From: Craig

I wanna hit you.

 

He finally settles with. Stan’s response is quick. 

 

From: Stan

Fr? Lol we’re in the same boat. I really wanna fucking hit you, too.

 

Craig feels his face flush, his chest tightening as his eyes graze over Stan’s message. His lips part, short breaths escaping his mouth. Desperately, he tries to wrap his head around what the fuck that could mean. The typing bubble appears under Stan’s message, Craig staring at it with impatience. 

 

From: Stan

Like, in a sexy way.

 

Craig furrows his brows, staring at his screen in confusion. 

 

From: Craig 

Wtf does that mean???

 

From: Stan 

It means I wanna bend you over, fuck you hard, and fucking hit you.

 

For a very brief second, Craig is certain he’s going to go into cardiac arrest. He sucks in a deep, shaky breath, trying to cover his sudden gasp with the back of his hand. His heart is beating rapidly in his chest, like it’s ready to give out any second. 

 

From: Craig 

Like… kink shit? Have you done that before? 

 

With bated breath, Craig waits impatiently for his answer. Zeroed in on his phone screen and face flushed warm, he nearly jumps when Stan responds. 

 

From: Stan 

Yeah dude, I’m not a virg lol

 

Bitter as he may be about that fucking comment, Craig doesn’t have much time to respond before his phone’s going off again. 

 

From: Stan

I bet you’re itching for my fucking dick down your throat. 

 

Attached to the message is a photo, one that makes Craig’s heart drop to the pit of his stomach. Stan Marsh, the one and only, sent him a fucking dick pic. It’s not a bad one, either. It’s hard, a bead of precum forming at the tip, and Stan’s hand is wrapped around the base, like he’s jerking himself off to the thought of Craig. Which is…

 

Craig has no idea how his brain feels about this, but his body might fucking combust if he stares at it a second longer. So, he does what any reasonable person might do and beelines inside the gas station. 

 

Inside, it’s dreary and gray. There’s a lone worker behind the counter, mopping up the floor. Craig spares a glance at the wall of cigarettes behind him, itching for those damn American Spirits. But, alas, he has a very awkward, very much so growing problem to attend to. He feels his phone go off in his hand, the vibration making his back stiffen. 

 

“Uh,” Craig says, awkwardly, catching the attention of the man behind the counter. “Where’s the bathroom?” 

 

The guy gives him a once over, like he’s studying the redness of Craig’s cheeks and the tightness in his posture. He frowns, pointing toward the back of the store. Turning to look, Craig catching sight of the familiar blue triangle hung over a door that had once been white, but is now stained with mold and suspicious yellow splotches. He turns on his heel, heading toward it with long, quick strides. 

 

The first thing Craig notices when he enters the bathroom is that it smells like piss, the kind that’s rancid with Mountain Dew and has been sitting around for a few days. The next thing he notices is the weird brown stain just above the sink, in place of a mirror. On the plus side, it’s a single stall with a lock that works. The downside is, the toilet has no lid. He wrinkles his nose, finally mustering up the courage to open his unread message from Stan. 

 

From: Stan

See how hard I am for you?

 

Craig flushes, plopping his happy ass down on the toilet. His dick is getting uncomfortably interested, distracting him from the immeasurable amounts of shame building in his chest. Stan has a nice dick, even if it is kind of small, and the idea of him jerking off to Craig is gratifying, to say the least. He squirms, picturing Stan alone in his room with his hand wrapped around his cock as he gets himself off to the thought of Craig’s mouth wrapped around it. Bravery ignites in his veins as he types out his next message, hitting send before he has time to rethink. 

 

From: Craig

Honestly, your dick is probably the least impressive part about you. I’m glad it’s kind of small. Way less intimidating to put in my mouth that way

 

Craig squirms in his spot, staring at his phone with intense focus. 

 

From: Stan

My dick is not little. It’s not my fault you’re hung like a fucking horse.

 

Petty and grossly masculine as it may be, Craig feels a bubble of pride form in his stomach, a grin stretching his lips. He stares down at his lap, erection straining against his jeans, rubbing against the fabric uncomfortably. Heaving a sigh, he glances around his surroundings, taking in the sight and the smell one final time before popping open the button of his jeans. 

 

As disgusting as his current location may be, Craig could not physically ignore the blood rapidly flowing to his groin even if he wanted to. He releases his cock from it’s confines, wrapping his hand around the base and cautiously pumping his hand. An idea sparks in his brain, one that, under normal circumstances, would feel too stupid to even consider. Chewing his bottom lip, he angles his phone to get a picture, trying desperately to not give away his disgusting location. It takes a few tries, his camera picking up little glimpses of the dirty floor or peaks of the porcelain toilet seat beneath his lap. He huffs in frustration, brows creased as he continues jacking his dick. Finally, he gets a photo adequate enough to send. 

 

From: Craig

If you think my dick is so big, why not let me fuck you?

 

From: Stan

In your dreams, dude. You wanna be stuffed so fucking full of me it’s embarrassing. 

 

Craig gasps, sucking the air between his teeth like he’s just been sucker punched in the gut. He squeezes the base of his dick, twisting his wrist in a way that has his thighs trembling. His body clenches, filled with phantoms of Stan’s dick. He imagines Stan’s body, moving behind him and filling him to the brim. Craig has to muffle a groan with the back of his hand. 

 

From: Craig

And if I do? What are you gonna do about it? 

 

From: Stan

Give you what you want, if you’re good. Duh. 

 

“Jesus fuck.” Craig mutters out loud. He picks up the pace of his hand, collecting a bead of precum with the pad of his finger, smearing it around the head. The added lubricant creates an easier slide, any roughness in friction forgotten. He lets out a deep sigh, squeezing his eyes shut and letting his head tilt back. The soft sounds of skin against skin fill his space, swirling in his ear drums like a sinful melody. 

 

From: Craig

Good how?

 

From: Stan

Let me have my fun with you, first. I really wanna pull your hair, hit you across the face, make you take my dick like a filthy fucking whore. 

 

Craig groans, face erupting in flames. He doesn’t know a lot about, like, kink shit -or whatever. He’s watched enough porn to know it exists, and to know that maybe, just maybe, there’s some stuff he might be into. Like rope things or boys in lingerie -the normal stuff. But getting hit and hurt? Just lying there and taking whatever it is Stan has to give him? That’s a whole new ball park. One that makes Craig feel like he’s going to explode the more he thinks about it. 

 

From: Craig 

You’re fucking weird. 

 

From: Stan

Maybe, but your dick sure seems to like it. 

 

Craig feels a jolt travel through him, setting his skin ablaze. It’s getting sweaty in this fine gas station bathroom, and it stinks like rotting shit but, fuck, try telling that to Craig’s dick. 

 

From: Craig 

Next you’re gonna tell me you wanna be called daddy or something. 

 

From: Stan

That’s not a bad idea, baby boy. Although, I prefer sir. Maybe master. 

 

Craig, if he were in a more clear headspace, would have laughed at being called baby boy. But instead, it does something to his body, something completely out of his control. He squeezes his eyes shut as he cums all over his hand, his orgasm rippling through him like a tidal wave. Pleasure courses through his body in never ending bursts. When he starts to come down from his peak, he catches himself panting heavily like he’s just run a marathon. His hand is covered in copious amounts for his own fluids, sticky and white. If he stares at it much longer, he might combust. He sends Stan a picture. 

 

From: Craig 

Fuck you. Look what you made me do. 

 

Once his post-orgasm haze has cleared and he’s snapped back to reality, Craig stares down at himself in disgust. He wonders what the hell could’ve happened to him in his childhood that led to this exact moment. Stupid Stan and his stupid words and his stupid dick. Craig ought to kick his fucking teeth in. His phone buzzes. 

 

From: Stan

I wanna keep making you do that until you get sick of me

Chapter Text

So. That fucking happened. Stan isn’t entirely sure what to make of this. He feels like his brain has completely fizzled out and he’s fucking exhausted. He’s laying in bed, shame pressed in his chest like a heavy weight. There’s a six pack of beer sitting under his bed he’s itching for, but can’t touch. Not if he wants anything to drink before bed, at least. There’s also a mason jar of weed sitting on his night stand that Stan’s never smoked. His dad insists it’s “the shit,” which is intriguing. Dad used to smoke this until he couldn’t move, lounging on the couch and playing Red Dead Redemption until the wee hours of the morning, entirely brain dead. Stan promised himself he’d never get that bad, that he’d never become such a lazy, worthless piece of shit. However, temptation for relief runs deep in his bones, itching for anything to calm the headache. 

 

There’s a gun in the garage, locked in a safe. Of course Stan knows the combination, his dad taught it to him in case of intruders. Sometimes, he opens it, just to stare at the pistol hidden inside. Or hold it, which he can do because he knows how to be safe with a gun. He always takes the magazine out before holding the barrel to his forehead and thinking about pulling the trigger. 

 

But that’s only if he hasn’t had his alcohol, and the headaches get too bad. Stan’s not going to kill himself.  People who kill themselves are weak, it's literally the easiest way out, and the easy way out is for quitters. Pride has run in Stan’s blood for as long as he can remember. It rears its ugly head in football practice, through brutal plays and sheer competitive drive. Football, like everything else, has been feeling tedious for a while, but he’s incredibly stubborn about quitting. He’s been playing since he was eight, and dad always praised him for his capabilities on the field. It feels like the one fucking thing he’s good at. 

 

Which reminds Stan that it’s nearing two pm and he has practice soon, so he certainly can’t off himself. If only lifting his head from his pillow didn’t feel like so much work, and if only he could shake the heavy feeling in his chest. He’s tempted to, for the first time ever, play hooky. That’s not because he wants to die. Stan wants to make it very clear to himself that dying and fantasizing about dying is completely off the table. It’s just that before he left Clyde’s house, after abandoning Craig and not answering Wendy’s phone call, like the douche he is, he broke into the liquor cabinet and chugged as much vodka as he could before catching the bus home. He blames the mushrooms for making him feel like shit, those shifty bastards. They felt fucking fantastic when Stan was high, but the second he wasn’t, he really wasn’t. His ego was the first thing to take a dive, sinking him deep in self-pity and hopelessness. Then, his mood crashed hard the second the curtains stopped wiggling. Now, with the helping hand of his liquid courage wearing off, his fucking head hurts. There’s no way he’ll be able to get through practice without something to quell it. The thought of Bloody Mary’s and cold beer has Stan’s mouth watering. 

 

He really needs to savor that six pack under his bed, but he could sneak another drink from dad’s fridge. For one, he’d never notice it’s gone. Dad’s brain has been pretty much fried since the divorce, he can’t keep track of his things all too well. Also, even if he did notice a missing beer, he wouldn’t give a fuck. 

 

About four days after the divorce was finalized, once Shelly skipped town for college and mom had long since moved her things out, Stan and his dad got fucking smashed on Fireball whiskey. He was fourteen at the time, his only previous experiences with alcohol being sips of his mom’s red wine. As he puked his guts out on the tile floor and dad laughed at him for being a lightweight, he decided he didn’t want to go back to mom’s house. Dad let him do whatever he wanted, and mom’s new boyfriend was a prick. Maybe there wasn’t always food in dad’s fridge, and maybe the place reeked of weed and testosterone, but there was always beer, right alongside whatever other liquor dad felt like buying. That was dinner sometimes, the two of them drunk on the couch, yelling at reruns of old reality TV and playing video games. 

 

“You know, Stan,” Randy said, one night in eighth grade, after a few too many margaritas. “You’re probably the best thing I’ve got right now. I love you, kiddo.” 

 

At the time, Stan had smiled at him and muttered a quiet, “Thanks dad. I love you, too.” Now the memory makes him feel sick. 

 

Stan stays in bed for a good fifteen minutes, staring at the ceiling and trying to will himself to sit up. He’s spacing out hard, like his brain has currently left the building. Thinking about football and the stupid Homecoming game makes his stomach turn, and thinking about Craig Tucker and his rapidly decreasing heterosexuality isn’t an option. He thought about those things a lot on mushrooms, seemingly less scary when they were surrounded by garbled nonsense and pretty, bright colors, and seemed to have had some sort of personal revelation. One that without the influence of drugs, Stan is trying desperately to forget about. Those types of thoughts play in his mind like TV static, not to be touched or acknowledged. Stan cannot be gay, even if he’s found himself in bed with another boy more than once now. Surely that doesn’t count, right? Stan was too fucked up to know what he was doing. His mind could always drift back to that gun in the garage, but right now he’s afraid that if he sits on that for too long, he’ll muster up the balls to actually do something about it. He sighs heavily, finally hauling himself to his feet. He shoulders his athletic bag, grabs his car keys off the nightstand, and pushes his way out the door. 

 

Just as he’s leaving, he finds Dad sitting out on the porch, a joint in one hand and a beer in the other. Stan has no idea how long he’s been out here. He didn’t even know he was home . They stare at each other for a moment, Stan dumbfounded and awkward, and Dad looking as if the gears in his brain are just starting to turn. 

 

“Hey kiddo.” He says. “What are you doing home so early?” 

 

“Jesus dad, don’t you know anything?” Stan instantly defends. “I always come home early on Tuesday’s.” 

 

“Oh.” Dad says. Stan breathes out a sigh of relief, amazed that that worked. In the month since school started, Stan has not come home before seven pm once, too caught up in classes and football practice. He supposes Dad will believe anything, though. He doesn’t have the brain cells to pick out a lie anymore. “Hey, I just cracked open a beer. Wanna join me?” 

 

“I have practice.” Stan says. “Homecomings on Friday, or whatever.” 

 

“Oh, shit.” Dad says. He’s grinning ear to ear. “Nice, you better kick some ass out there.” 

 

“Thanks.” Stan says. “I’ll still take that beer on my way out, though.” 

 

“You gonna drink and drive?” Dad asks. Stan shakes his head. “Fuck it, I got another six pack in the fridge. Just take that.” 

 

“No, dad, you drank it all, remember?” He most certainly did not. Dad is referring to the six pack currently stored under Stan’s bed, which Stan had decidedly stolen from the fridge without asking. 

 

“Seriously?” Dad asks. He stares at the mountains in the distance, mouth slightly open. That expression makes him look stupid. “Fuck, I could’ve sworn I just bought that thing.” He pauses for a moment, his brows pinched like he’s trying hard to think. “Whatever. Here,” He offers Stan the joint, who looks at it like it might burn him. 

 

“I have to drive, dad.” Stan says. 

 

“It’s just a little pot. You getting pussy on me, Stanley?” Dad asks. 

 

“No,” Stan says. “I’m just trying to be responsible.” Dad rolls his eyes.

 

“Fucking prude.” He says. Stan presses his lips together, trying to refrain from saying anything too snotty. He’s definitely not in the mood to start arguing with Dad over some damn weed. 

 

“I really gotta go.” He says. “Sorry. I’ll see you at dinner.”

 

“Oh, fuck.” Dad groans. “Do you know if there’s any food in the fridge?” Stan shrugs. 

 

“I dunno.” He says. There definitely is not food in the fridge, unless Dad’s made some spur of the moment grocery trip neither of them were aware of. “I haven’t been to the grocery store in a while, so.” Stan shrugs again. Dad looks like he’s lost in thought, lips pursed and eyes glazed over. Wherever he is, it certainly isn’t on earth with Stan. 

 

“Have you seen your mom recently?” He asks. The question makes Stan tense. 

 

“Not since Fourth of July, no.” He says. Thinking about the Fourth of July sets Stan on edge. The night had been awkward from the moment Stan stepped through the door, completely unaware that his breath smelled like beer. Mom’s boyfriend had been a pretentious prick, as per usual. He’s the worst, uppity and annoying. Whenever Stan visits them, he tries to act like he’s Stan’s dad. The night drew to a close around the same time Stan decided his voice was going to make him commit murder unless he got his hands on a drink. When mom caught him breaking into her boyfriend’s wine cabinet, she had accused him of being a lowlife, burnout. Just like his father. “Why?” 

 

“You could swing by her place, see if she’s got anything worth taking.” Dad suggests. 

 

“No.” Stan says, all too quickly and a little too firm. “I’ll just get Taco Bell or something after practice.”

 

“Fuck, yes .” Dad says. “This is why I love you, kid.” 

 

“Yeah, I’ll see you later, dad.” Stan replies. 

 

The drive to school takes too long. His town whizzes by in a blur, but everything feels like a blur these days. Stan wishes his dad let him take that beer. He needs a drink, to help him focus. 

 

“Fuck.” He mutters to himself, eyes wandering to the side pocket of his athletic bag. He’s sitting at a red light and it’s taking forever. Maybe he still has that flask. Maybe if he just- 

 

“Fuck, yes.” He says, fingers curling around the metal container. He pulls it out of his bag, shaking it a bit and wanting to cry in relief when he hears liquid sloshing around. It tastes like gasoline when it touches his tongue and it makes a shiver run through Stan’s body. Whatever the fuck that is, it tastes rancid, but does the trick. Maybe a little bit too well. 

 

Stan quickly realizes that he’s incredibly lucky he was so close to the high school when he chose to pull that move. Not only was that mystery alcohol disgusting, but it was fucking strong. He’s definitely not drunk, but he’s too buzzed for comfort. If he plays like ass today, he just knows he’s going to get moody. He parks crooked, like an asshole, and has to take a deep breath when he stands. He’s not dizzy, just -whatever. He’s fucking fine. 

 

During his walk to the locker room, the fresh air is kind to Stan’s senses. The late September chill feels like it’s lifting the weight of his problems off his shoulders. He loves when the weather gets like this, right before it starts to snow and some of the flowers are still alive. It feels like he’s breathing for the first time. The giddiness in his brain short circuits, however, when he spots Wendy across the grass, her eyes having already landed on him. 

 

She looks fucking exhausted, her hair tied in a messy ponytail, eyes dropping with heavy-set bags. Her sweatshirt is two sizes too big and she’s wearing her purple crocs. The first thing Stan assumes is that she’s been up late studying. Then he remembers he didn’t answer her call this morning, and she’s probably been sick with worry. It’s too late to turn around and pretend he never saw her, she’s heading right for him. Stan feels frozen in his spot, staring at her apprehensively. He swallows thickly, lifting his hand to offer her a wave.

 

“Hi Stan.” She says, voice flat and monotone. It kind of reminds Stan of someone else he’s had awkward encounters with today. Stan shoves his hands in the pockets of his jacket, scuffing his shoe against the grass. It’s been a few days since Stan’s talked to her, too lost in the chasms of his mind to deal with much of anything. She probably had not been expecting to see him, in the same vein as Stan had not been looking forward to seeing her. The look in her eyes suggests she’s pissed. Or, at the very least, frustrated and tired. 

 

“Hi.” He says, slowly, hesitant. “You look pretty.” That’s Stan’s move whenever he feels awkward under Wendy’s gaze, excessively complimenting her. Wendy pauses, eyes cast toward the toes of her shoes like she’s embarrassed. 

 

“Shut up,” she mutters, the flush in her cheeks enough to make Stan proud. “You’re such an ass, Stan, why haven’t I heard from you?” She steps closer, wrapping her arms around him, her face buried in his chest. 

 

“Sorry,” Stan says, although the contact suggests she can’t be all too angry. His fingers tangle into her hair. It’s soft to the touch. “I’ve missed you. Like, a lot.” It’s not entirely a lie. Stan has been thinking about her a lot. Sort of. He’s been thinking about her enough, at least, and he’s definitely missed something. He thinks it’s Wendy. Having her in his arms certainly feels nice. 

 

“Whatever.” She mumbles. 

 

“Why are you mad at me?” Stan asks. “Please don’t be mad. I love you.” Wendy squeezes him tighter. 

 

“I’m not mad.” She says. She turns so that her cheek is resting against Stan’s chest. “I’m sorry, I don’t want to upset you. Just, like, where the fuck have you been? You haven’t answered your phone. I’ve been worried.” 

 

“I know.” Stan says, guilt rising in his chest like bile. “I’m sorry, I-”

 

-‘ve been ignoring you. And stuck in a miserable pit of self-loathing that only that thing we don’t talk about can soothe. 

 

“-Got kind of sad. So.” Stan says. 

 

“Oh.” Wendy says, somber and quiet, her voice barely above a whisper. “I’m sorry. Is there anything I can do?” 

 

“This feels nice.” Stan says. He squeezes her tighter, like he can’t get her close enough. He sighs heavily. “I wish I could stay longer. I have practice.” 

 

“You can come over tonight. If you want.” She offers. In the past, Stan would’ve jumped at the opportunity to hang out in Wendy’s bedroom. He likes when she lets him lay his head in her lap, and then she’ll stroke his hair and rub his back and whisper sweet things to him. Unfortunately, Stan doesn’t feel like he deserves that tonight. He isn’t entirely sure what he deserves from Wendy, but he’s positive it isn’t her kindness. 

 

Part of him wonders if he should just call it quits now, before he has to put Wendy through any more heartache. Stan can’t help but shake the feeling that he’s becoming a chore to her, always taking advantage of her heart and their history to suck her dry and leave her in the dust. If he weren’t such a coward, he would leave her. It’d be good for her. Hell, it would be good for both of them, but the thought of seeing her on the arms of another guy makes Stan sick to his stomach. He needs her so much that it hurts, which is totally unfair to her. If Stan weren’t so goddamn selfish, maybe he’d have the balls to dump her before homecoming. Instead, he squeezes her tighter. 

 

“I really, really want to.” He says. “But I can’t. I have homework and stuff.” 

 

“Okay.” Wendy says. She sighs, breaking the hug in favor of cupping Stan’s cheek in her hand. “Well, I love you. Don’t be late to practice and call me tonight. We can figure out our homecoming plans.” 

 

“Okay.” Stan agrees. She kisses him and it’s so nice and warm and cozy that Stan wants to melt. Her lips are so full and soft, her body so warm. Stan hugs her tight, arms wrapped around her waist while he holds her as close to him as he can. When they pull away, Wendy looks a bit starstruck. She’s grinning. 

 

“Okay.” She says, voice barely above a whisper. “Bye, Stan. I love you!” 

 

“I love you, too.” He says. He means it. Probably. 

 

Football practice goes about as well as Stan had expected it would. He plays slow and can’t quite seem to get his head in the game. He’d been hoping exercise would act as a distraction for him, but instead his brain keeps him from focusing. He lands funny on his shoulder, after a nasty tackle from Clyde that has him wheezing. Focus, Stan, he thinks to himself, getting increasingly pissed off at each fumble and misstep he makes. Just fucking focus

 

It doesn’t really matter how much he focuses. Unfortunately for Stan, his brain has forgotten how to function and his body can’t seem to figure out how to move. He has been treating his body like shit, especially in the last two days. Staying up all night to get high, and then proceeding to drink the next day is probably more than enough to slow someone down. Add in all the fast food he’s been eating and he’s bound to be sluggish. He feels like a total jackass every time he fumbles or fucks up, and can’t help but remind himself that it’s his own fucking fault. When he finally gets off the field, he’s grumpy and covered in bruises. 

 

Boys talk too much in school locker rooms. The grating sounds of his teammates' voices mixed with the incessant sounds of locker doors slamming shut has Stan’s headache slamming back into him at full force. He scowls at his locker door, trying to tune out everything around him. He sighs, peeling off his shoulder pads. He’s covered in sweat and is just about prepared to keel over and die, and these assholes cannot be bothered to shut the fuck up . Stan wants to kick something, or scream. Everyone just stop talking! 

 

“Oh, shit!” He hears Clyde say. His voice makes Stan cringe. “Dude, that fucking bruise on your shoulder is a monster.” 

 

Stan touches it. It’s tender and, he’s certain, massive. He feels pretty weird about the fact that Clyde’s just staring at him.

 

“Sorry, man.” Clyde says. “That’s my bad.” He punches Stan lightly in the shoulder, a grin on his face. Stan has to physically refrain from cringing. 

 

“It’s whatever. I played like fucking ass today.” Stan says. Clyde shrugs. 

 

“Don’t worry about it, me too. The shrooms fucked me up, dude. I’ve been thinking about killing myself since I woke up this morning.” 

 

Stan is quiet for a moment, staring at him, but Clyde’s grinning like a moron. So, it’s probably a joke. 

 

“Yeah.” Stan finally says. He turns away from Clyde, choosing to end the conversation in favor of pulling his t-shirt on. Getting out of his stupid football garb is about a thousand times more entertaining than anything Clyde has to say. He’s determined to get out of this locker room as soon as humanly possible. 

 

The sun is setting when Stan gets outside, turning the sky shades of pink and orange, the rays of dusk reflecting off the clouds like something from a heavenly painting. He calls Kyle. Not for any particular reason, other than he needs someone to talk to or else his brain is going to melt. Everything feels too weird and dark and drab to be letting it sit and fester in his head. Generally, when he feels this much like shit, Stan talks to Wendy. She’s kind when he vents to her, gentle and soft in her words. Wendy doesn’t get it, exactly, doesn’t understand the hellscape of Stan’s mind or the darkness that consumes him, but she tries and Stan will forever appreciate the effort. The problem is, Stan is pretty sure he’s been cheating on her, which is shitty, probably. Yeah, no -that’s definitely shitty. It’s really, really fucking shitty. And he’s been beating himself up about it pretty hard. The sound of her voice would make the guilt swallow him alive. So Kyle it is. 

 

“What?” Kyle asks upon answering, tone finicky.  

 

“Don’t sound so pissed, dude, it’s just me.” Stan says. Kyle scoffs on the other end of the line. 

 

“I’m not pissed.” He says, voice calm and flat. “I’ve just been considering punching you in the fucking face all day.” 

 

“What? What did I do?” Stan asks. 

 

Dude, you completely disappeared this morning.” Kyle says. “And you still owe me my Redbull.” 

 

“What are you doing right now?” Stan asks. “I can get you an energy drink.” Kyle hums on the other end of the line. 

 

“I’m by the train tracks.” He says. Stan wants to groan in frustration. Kyle only hangs around the train tracks when he and Kenny are trying to get high. It’s the only place cops don’t hang around. Stan doesn’t typically have the most pleasant time. “Cartman’s here.” 

 

“The fuck? Why?” Stan asks. “Is that why you’re in a shitty mood?”

 

“Something like that.” Kyle says. “Kenny invited him without my permission and he keeps trying to get me to share my weed. Plus I barely slept last night and my head hurts.” Stan can practically hear him rolling his eyes. He grins. 

 

“Lame.” Stan agrees. “I can join you guys, if that’s cool.”  

 

“Sure.” Kyle says. “But I can’t promise I won’t punch you in the fucking face.” 

 

“Please don’t.” Stan says. “I fucked up my shoulder at practice. I think I’ve suffered enough.” Kyle blows a raspberry into the receiver, which makes Stan laugh. 

 

“You’re a tool and you deserved that.” Kyle says. “But sure, whatever, golden boy’s been through enough trauma today.” 

 

“Yeah, yeah.” Stan says. “I’ll see you soon, dude.” 

 

“See ya soon, dude.” Kyle responds. 

 

The thing is, Stan hasn’t really spoken to Cartman since Token’s party. Partly because Stan associates with Cartman as little as possible lately. When he does, it’s nothing but trouble. They hadn’t seen each other much during the party. While Stan was spending his time moping over girls and his own general waste of an existence, Cartman was chugging from kegs of beer. As Stan was drinking in his sorrows, pitying himself and blabbing on to Kyle about his stupid feelings, Cartman was doing lines of coke with Kenny and Butters. When Kyle had had enough of the pity party and managed to convince Stan to take a shot with him and cheer the fuck up, Clyde was catching Cartman trying to peek up Bebe’s skirt. They rekindled not long after the aftermath, Cartman looking ready to murder and Stan feeling ready to die. 

 

“That fucking bitch !” Cartman had screamed, rage seething off of him in waves. “I’ll kill her, I’ll kill them both, ungrateful fucking slut.” Stan and Kyle watched him unamused, Kyle even daring to roll his eyes. “What was that you fucking jew? Are you fucking giving me attitude?”

 

“Jesus Christ,” Kyle said. “Say it, don’t fucking spray it.” As Cartman was puffing up, his face turning red and his eyes looking about ready to bulge out of his skull, Stan interjected. 

 

“What happened, Cartman?” He asked. Cartman’s attention snapped to him. Stan had watched him settle himself, face morphing into a precarious grin. 

 

“Well, Stan, I’m glad you asked.” Kyle scoffed as he spoke, which made Cartman cut him a deadly glare. “As I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted by a nasty jew with no manners-” 

 

“The Jew jokes stopped being funny seven years ago, you fat fuck.” Kyle interjects.

 

As I was saying,” Cartman said, all too loud. “I was being a good fucking sameritan, and helping Bebe get a piece of lint off her dress, but then her skirt lifted up -which wasn’t my fault- and Clyde accused me of playing peeping Tom!” Kyle rolled his eyes. 

 

“I wouldn’t put it past you.” He’d said. 

 

“Did he kick the shit out of you or something?” Stan asked, giving Cartman a once over. He didn’t look all too battered, aside from the light purple hue forming around his cheek, and the rims of red around his eyes. 

 

“He punched me in the fucking face! And I totally could have nailed him back, but my allergies started acting up and my eyes were watering, so I couldn’t see that well, so before I could really lay into him, Bebe played dirty and kicked me right in the balls . That bitch could’ve literally busted my balls .”

 

“Wait, you started crying?” Kyle asked, grin growing wider. 

 

“Stop laughing, it’s not fucking funny, Kyle! And no, I wasn’t crying. My allergies were acting up.” Cartman argued. Kyle laughed again. 

 

“Sorry, sorry,” He had said, but he didn’t look particularly remorseful. “I’m really sorry about your broken dick.”  

 

“My dick isn’t fucking broken! My dick works fine! It’s my balls that could’ve popped. Have you ever been kicked in the balls by six inch platforms?”

 

Ugh ,” Stan had interjected, feeling as if his head was going to explode if he listened to Cartman’s voice any longer.  He pressed his head in his hands, as if a migraine were coming on. “Shut up about your busted balls, Cartman.” 

 

Cartman stared at Stan, his mouth gaping open like he’d gone braindead. “The fuck is his problem?” He’d asked Kyle, jamming his thumb in Stan’s direction. 

 

“Suck my dick, Fatass, that’s what.” Stan snapped. 

 

“He’s convinced Wendy dumped him.” Kyle said. 

 

Ugh! ” Stan groaned. 

 

Ha !” Cartman had laughed, loud and obnoxious, making Stan dream of kicking the shit out of him himself. “No wonder you want me to suck your dick! What, did Wendy finally figure out how gay you are or something?”

 

“Shut your fucking mouth, Cartman!” Stan had said, voiced raised just a little too loud. 

 

Ha! ” Cartman laughed again, this time hard enough to clutch at his stomach. “Holy fuck , she did, didn’t she! Lemme guess, lemme guess!” Cartman started bouncing on the balls of his feet, like an evil fat kid preparing to gorge himself in a candy store. He pointed to Kyle, dramatically. “She caught you tongue deep in dirty Jew butthole.”

 

“Jesus.” Kyle had cut in. “That’s fucking disgusting. What do I have to do with any of this?”

 

“Kyle, I bet you really love keeping your filthy fucking hands pulled tight on Stan’s little bitch leash, especially now that that dumb cunt isn’t in your way, anymore.” Cartman said. Kyle sneered.

 

“Leave me out of your weird fantasies, you fat fuck.” He’d said. Cartman roared in laughter. 

 

“It’s not my fault you and Stan are fucking gay for each other.”

 

 It was then that Stan stood from the table, rapidly. The pure, concentrated rage radiating off of him was near palpable. 

 

Shut up!” He practically yelled, making Kyle’s eyes widen in surprise and Cartman take a step back. Stan kicked his chair, making it topple to the ground “Get your fucking face out of my sight before I beat it into the ground, Cartman.” Stan remembers feeling Kyle’s hand grip at his forearm, probably in an attempt to quell him, but the effort was futile. Cartman, although trying to put up a tough front, looked nervous. Stan grunted in frustration when he still refused to move his feet. “Get the fuck out!” He said again, loud and firm. 

 

“Fuck you, Stan!” Cartman had shouted. “I do what I want. I’m only leaving because I want to.” 

 

After Cartman had left, Stan heaved a sigh of relief. Kyle’s hand had still been resting on his forearm. His eyes were wide, like he’d just been shocked with an electric wave. Stan huffed. 

 

“Fat bastard.” He muttered. Kyle laughed a hard, honest to God belly laugh that had Stan cracking a grin along with him. 

 

“Yeah, seriously. I would’ve loved to see you kick his ass.” 

 

After that, They had decided to go up stairs, Stan hauling a large liter of vodka with him. Kyle watched him chug shots with no chaser, like a pro, and laughed at him for having no sense of taste. They had been huddled by themselves in one of Token’s many guest rooms, Stan drunk as a bum and Kyle higher than the sky. He was giggling pretty heavily, as they both were, and seemed increasingly amused at Stan’s utter lack of bodily control. Hours must have gone by as they stayed locked up there, as Kyle eventually came down from his high, but Stan never quite stopped drinking. It was around the time Kyle had sobered up that he suggested Stan cut himself off and dragged him downstairs for a glass of water. Quite frankly, there’s not much he remembers from that point on, outside of key little blurbs, like the sound of Kyle’s laugh, and perhaps the fact that he put Craig Tucker’s dick in his mouth, but sometimes he wonders what would’ve happened if Kyle hadn’t taken him downstairs.

 

 Not so much because he wants to -because he doesn’t. Actually, Stan hates thinking about that what if , as it tends to make him nauseous and, in return, crave a drink. Stan had been having a lot of fun with Kyle in their space together. He regularly thinks about how bright Kyle's eyes had seemed when he spoke about Stan’s spat with Cartman. He called him scary, ‘ but in a cool way ,’ and Stan couldn’t seem to draw his gaze away from the shape of his lips as he spoke. They were sitting so close together, it would have been easy to lean forward and-

 

Nope . No. Nuh-uh. Stan is certainly not going to address that right now. Not when he’s mere minutes away from being face to face with Cartman again. Although, it’s not just Token’s party that’s still bugging him. He’s having a hard time forgetting about last night, too. Not that there was much said last night of value. The weird thing about the drugs was that they made Stan’s mind feel like the most powerful and intense thing in the universe, as if every thought he could experience was grand and big and worthy of sharing. In actuality, most of what came out of his mouth and most of what he listened to when he was tripping was absolute nonsense. However, Kyle’s comment about the kinsey scale is sticking with him. For the life of him, he cannot decipher what the fuck it means to be a two. 

 

By the time Stan reaches the train tracks, the sky is turning purple, the last rays of sun disappearing over the horizon. The atmosphere reeks of weed the second he steps out of his car, making Stan’s nose wrinkle. He wishes he had a drink more than he’s ever wished for anything else. Fucking around town with Kyle and Kenny is one thing, but adding Cartman to the mix is another, he needs a few pumps of liquid courage before dealing with that mess. But Stan is, stupidly, empty handed. Jesus, he hopes he doesn’t cause a scene, today has been weird and eventful enough. He takes a deep breath, grounding himself, and heads for the chaos. 

 

The group of them look like a bunch of bums, dressed in tattered layers of flannels and sweatshirts, shivering in their skin as they huddle around a pipe like it’s a life source. Kyle is sitting on the curb, covered in warm layers, and he looks annoyed. His brows are set low, mouth shaped in a firm line, as if he’s indured nothing but inconveniences since he got here, which is probably the case. His pipe is clutched firmly in his hand, pressed against his chest like he can’t get it far enough away from Cartman's wandering eyes.

 

Kyle ,” Cartman whines. “Gimme some of that.” He extends his hand, making grabbing motions with his stupid, fat fingers. 

 

“Fuck off, dude.” Kyle says. “I’m not sharing my weed with you.” 

 

“Oh, leave it to the fucking jew to be a stingy piece of shit. Fuck you, Kyle.” Cartman sticks his tongue out, which Stan finds pretty juvenile. 

 

“Get your own if you wanna get high so bad.” Kyle says. Cartman turns to Kenny, batting his eyes. 

 

Kenny ,” He says. “Would you please be willing to share some of your weed with me?” Kenny laughs in his face. 

 

“In your dreams, fatass.” He says. Cartman pouts like a child, letting out a whine so high pitched it makes Stan’s brain vibrate. Kyle turns to him, the first to pay Stan any mind, and looks him up and down with a bored expression. 

 

“Where’s my energy drink?” He asks. Immediately, Stan feels his chest sink, realizing that he completely forgot to get Kyle his redbull. 

 

“Uh,” he says, shoving his hands in the front pockets of his jacket. “Sorry?” 

 

“God fucking dammit.” Kyle huffs. 

 

“Stan!” Cartman says, voice sticky sweet like honey. “What a pleasant surprise. Any chance you’d be willing to share some of your dad’s-“

 

“No.” Stan says, rolling his eyes. 

 

“Screw you guys!” Cartman complains, his voice pitched in a grating whine. It makes Stan cringe, striking on his half-formed headache like a hammer to a bell. 

 

Despite Cartman and the sound of his voice and the punchableness of his face, Stan hangs around for what feels like a while. Him, Kyle, and Kenny end up playing hacky-sack with an old wad of socks Kenny had shoved in his backpack. It smells like rotting cheese and sweat and it’s incredibly unstable. Trying to kick it around is getting frustrating, especially by the fourth time one of them has kicked it into the mud. Cartman is having a grand old fucking time laughing at them from his pearch on the curb. 

 

“You guys suck at this!” He taunts. 

 

“If you’re so fucking great, then you come play.” Kyle says. “Put us in our place, right?”

 

“I would , but I twisted my ankle running the mile today.” Cartman shrugs his shoulders innocently. “I guess I just have to sit this one out. You don’t want me hurting myself, do you?” 

 

“Give me a fucking break.” Kyle argues. “Like you’ve ever run a mile.” 

 

“That’s fucking fatphobic, Kyle!” Cartman says. “Obesity is a disability, you know. I can’t help that I’m fucking disabled.” Kyle rolls his eyes and Kenny belts out a laugh. 

 

“You’re not disabled, you’re just a fat piece of shit!” Kyle yells. 

 

“The same motherfucker that calls Kyle a nasty Jew is trying to preach about ableism. Real cute.” Kenny says. 

 

“Fuck you guys!” Cartman argues back. 

 

In the bickering, Stan feels his phone buzz in his pocket. He groans, praying it isn’t Wendy. He knows she wants to hear from him tonight, but he might die of embarrassment if that happens. His plan was to just ghost her, and then pretend to have forgotten about calling her when he saw her at school tomorrow. Thankfully, it isn’t Wendy. Unfortunately, it’s dad. 

 

“Uh, what?” Stan asks. Dad doesn’t call him much, and he’s beginning to wonder if it’s an emergency. 

 

Stan ,” Dad whines. The connection is shotty, the static making him sound like a mangled robot. “I’m dying.” 

 

What?” Stan asks, voiced pitched in panic. “Dad, what the fuck is going on?” 

 

Donde está Taco Bell .” Randy groans, pairing his words with a shitty Mexican accent. Stan pauses, the realization that this is not, in fact, an emergency setting in. Fuck

 

“Uh,” Stan says, dumbly. “Your -sorry. Shit, I totally forgot.” 

 

“I’m starving, Stan! Do you want your father to starve ?” Randy continues, melodramatically. 

 

“No, of course not, dad. I was hanging out with my friends and forgot, I’m sorry. I’ll be home soon.” Stan says, suddenly feeling embarrassed. Now that it’s been brought to his attention, Stan is realizing he’s pretty hungry, too. 

 

Yes .” Randy says. “You’re the best, kid! I love you!” 

 

“Bye dad.” 

 

After the call ends, Stan turns to his friends, who are still arguing amongst themselves, the makeshift hacky sack forgotten.

 

“I gotta go.” He says. He shrugs. “Dad wants me home for dinner, or whatever.” 

 

“Can I come with you?” Kyle asks. His eyes cut to Cartman, who looks about ready to explode. Briefly, Stan wonders what he missed. He figures, however, that it doesn’t matter. The last thing he wants is to listen to Cartman bitch. 

 

“Yeah.” Stan says. He turns to Kenny and Cartman. “Either of you wanna come?” 

 

“What’s for dinner?” Cartman asks, looking about ready to jump out of his seat. Stan decides the best move here is to lie. 

 

“Uh,” he says. “Vegetable stew.” Cartman's nose wrinkles in disgust. He sticks his tongue out and pretends to gag. 

 

“Fuck, gross.” He says. “I hate your stupid vegan shit.” Stan is not vegan anymore. Lately, he’s been doing awful at being a vegetarian, too. In seventh grade, he’d watched too many documentaries on the meat industry and decided consuming animal products wasn’t worth the harm. He did well for a few years, but ever since his junior year of high school and all the intense hangovers he’s suffered, he’s fallen off the wagon. It’s not Stan’s fault that a juicy burger tastes so fucking good after a night of drinking. He hopes the cows and the pigs can forgive him. 

 

“Yeah, count me out.” Kenny says. “I have plans to go harass Craig whenever the fuck he texts me back.” Hearing his name makes Stan tense, lips pressed together in a firm line. Kenny is staring at him like he’s expecting something, but Stan has nothing to give. He has to physically refrain from squirming under Kenny’s knowing gaze. 

 

“Okay.” He says. He’d ask what Craig and Kenny plan on getting themselves up to, but he’s afraid of cracking if they stay on this topic. Instead, he spares a glance in Kyle’s direction. “Need a ride?” He asks. 

 

“Yeah, please.” Kyle says. They bid their adues to Kenny and Cartman, relief washing over Stan during the trek to his car. Usually, he likes being around Kenny, but Kenny’s been weird for a month or so -ever since that damned party at Token’s. He studies Stan so closely it’s like he’s reading his mind. The look that crosses his eyes sends chills down Stan’s spine, like he knows something he shouldn’t, which is concerning, to say the least. Stan wouldn’t assume Craig to be the blabber mouth type. He hasn’t said anything to his friends, as far as Stan’s aware, so why would he tell Kenny about them -whatever they are. He wouldn’t, Stan’s pretty sure. There’s no reason Kenny would know anything, right? Stan chalks it up to the fact that he’s just being paranoid. He has been on edge all day, after all. Cartman’s relentless tormenting and inability to shut his fucking mouth hasn’t helped. 

 

He breathes a sigh of relief when they get in the car. Kyle looks about ready to lay down and take a nap. His eyes are glazed over and drooping, body hunched like he’s just run a marathon. He rests his head against the passenger side window, letting his eyes flutter closed. Stan thinks he looks sweet like that, all gentle and sleepy and peaceful. He offers him a grin, and Kyle’s lips tilt upward back. Everything about his body language is kind and comforting, not at all the uptight air that typically sets Stan off. He likes the comfortability, likes feeling Kyle’s presence in such a nonthreatening way. 

 

“I lied to Cartman, by the way.” He says. “Dad wants Taco Bell for dinner.” 

 

“Fuck, yes .” Kyle says, throwing his head back and grinning like he’s just been kissed by the heavens. “God, a crunchwrap sounds so fucking good I could bust.” 

 

“Fuck yeah it does.” Stan replies, his own grin spreading across his face. 

 

The drive-thru line takes about half a century. Stan has no clue why this stupid Taco Bell is so fucking busy on a Tuesday night, but he’s pissed about it. He’s had a nasty headache since they started playing hacky sack at the train tracks and that mysteytery liquor he drank earlier is settling weird in his stomach. Kyle is playing his shitty, awful pop music, which isn’t helping Stan’s headache. He knows he needs water and some greasy food to soak up the alcohol, but mostly he just wants a drink. By the time they’re rolling up to dad’s house, Stan feels just about ready to vomit, he’s so nauseous. Just as he left him, dad is still on the porch, joint in his hand and a few crushed beer cans littered around his feet. He holds up the bags of food as he steps out of his car, making dad whoop in excitement. 

 

“That’s my boy!” Dad calls, pumping his fist in the air. His face is lit up like a hungry dog. Stan cringes in embarrassment. 

 

“Stop, dad, Jesus.” He says, making his way up the porch steps. Kyle is right behind him. “You’re fucking embarassing.” 

 

“Oh, hey kid!” Dad says, spotting Kyle over Stan’s shoulder. 

 

“Hi Randy.” Kyle says. He eyes the joint in Dad’s hand. “Can I have some of that?” 

 

“Yeah, whatever.” Dad says, passing it to Kyle. “Just don’t tell your mom, she’s kind of a bitch.” 

 

They stand out there for a while, Kyle and Dad passing the joint back and forth in silence as Stan watches them, awkwardly. Every time Kyle comes over to his house these days, it makes Stan wish he smoked more weed. Third wheeling his dad and his best friends is fucking embarassing. Finally, they manage to smoke down the roach, and Stan practically jumps in anticipation. 

 

“Thanks, Randy.” Kyle says. 

 

“Anytime, kiddo.” Dad replies. 

 

“We’re gonna go eat upstairs.” Stan says. Dad eyes them for a moment, like he’s trying to fit together the pieces of a puzzle. 

 

“You go, Stan.” He says. “Kyle, I’m gonna need you to stay down here for a second. Let’s talk.” 

 

Stan and Kyle exchange a glance, silently communicating their hesitation. Stan has no clue why his dad would want to talk to Kyle alone, and he doesn’t trust it. But, ultimately, he decides not to argue, instead offering the two of them a wave and heading back inside. 

 

Once upstairs, surrounded by the comforting safety of his bedroom walls, he starts drinking. Food forgotten and beer on the mind, Stan cracks open that six pack that’s been sitting under his bed, chugging down the first can as quickly as he can. He burps loudly, the noise reverberating around the room like a battle cry, and it makes Stan cringe. He’s on his third beer by the time Kyle joins him upstairs. The look on his face is displeased, angry, and it sets Stan on edge. 

 

“What did my dad want?” He asks. Kyle presses his lips together, ignoring Stan in favor of messing with his TV. 

 

“Wanna play Smash?” He asks, instead of answering Stan’s question. 

 

“Sure,” Stan responds. He chugs down the last of his beer, crushing the can in his hand and dropping it to the floor, along with his other piles of crushed, empty beer cans. “After you answer me.” 

 

Kyle scowls. He’s not looking at Stan, gaze directed completely on the TV. The Nintendo home screen illuminates the room. He tosses Stan a controller. “I’m supposed to check your room for razor blades.” 

 

Stan blinks, lips slightly parted and brows pinched in the center of his forehead. Razor blades? What the fuck would he be doing with razor blades? And why couldn’t they be allowed in his possession? That’s the dumbest thing he’s ever heard. He opens his fourth beer. Kyle isn’t watching him, instead focused on setting up the game, but his expression is pinched and tight. He looks upset, for sure, but it isn’t rage directed at Stan and it isn’t sadness. It’s something else, something Stan’s having a hard time placing his finger on. 

 

“Why?” Stan asks, finally. Kyle shoots him a glance, eyeing him with hesitation. His eyes zero in on the beer can in Stan’s hand, brows pinching when he glances behind his shoulder to find the small pile of beer cans strewn about Stan’s floor. 

 

His attention snaps back to the Super Smash Bros Home Screen. “Your dad thinks you’re depressed.” He says, tone careful, as if he knows he needs to tread lightly. 

 

Stan balks, mouth agape and eyes wide. He stares at Kyle like he’s grown a second head. “Depressed?” He asks in outrage. “That’s insane. I’m, like, as far from depressed as someone can get.” 

 

“You mean happy?” Kyle asks. “Choose your character, dude. We’re doing six rounds.” 

 

“Kyle?” Stan says. “Do you think I’m depressed?” 

 

Kyle pauses, sighing heavily. He puts his controller down, in favor of resting his forehead in his hands. “I don’t think you’re ‘keeping razor blades hidden around your room’ depressed.” He says. “But I think your dad has reason to be concerned.” 

 

“What the fuck.” Stan blurts. “ Why? ” Kyle’s head snaps up, staring at Stan like he’s an experiment worth studying. Even bloodshot and glassy, those green eyes seem so sharp and so bright that they could pierce right through Stan’s soul. He doesn't answer verbally, instead pointing behind Stan, toward the crushed cans of beer littered behind him. His eyes stay focused on the beer in his hand. Stan scowls at him. 

 

“Just because I like having a few drinks at the end of the day doesn’t mean I’m fucking depressed.” He argues. Kyle brings his thumb up to his mouth, teeth digging into the cuticle. His eyes are directed toward his lap

 

“Do you remember the Fourth of July?” He asks. 

 

Stan had been so obnoxiously plastered last Fourth of July that he can’t remember anything past dipping his mom’s house in favor of crawling through Kyle’s window. Even his recollection of the following day is hazy. 

 

“Fuck no.” Stan says. 

 

“You told me you want to kill yourself, Stan.” Kyle says, which feels more like a heavy kick in the chest. “I mean, nothing screams ‘I’m depressed’ like threatening suicide.” 

 

Stan groans, tilting his head back and staring at the heavens, like maybe God will help him. For the first time in a long time, Stan considers prayer. 

 

Hey dude, lend a hand! 

 

“That’s fucking embarassing.” He says. 

 

“Embarr- Stan !” Kyle exclaims. His arms are raised to his sides, palms facing upwards. “It’s concerning.” There's a pause, neither of them saying a word. Kyle lets out a long sigh, running his fingers through his hair. His eyes refocus on the tv, controller in his hands. “Don’t pick Kirby. I’m Kirby.” 

 

“Obviously I’m going for Bowser.” Stan says. “Are you going to search my room?”

 

Kyle remains quiet, not tearing his eyes away from the television screen. The game starts, first round in The Dark Realm. 

 

“No.” Kyle says, just as Kirby lands several swift kicks to Bowser’s face. He falls off the platform, making Stan curse. “Even if I did, I doubt I’d find razor blades.”

 

Stan decides he doesn’t want to be talking about this anymore, and would rather focus on smash. They tie in the tournament, three to three, which makes Kyle curse and demand they play another round. It’s like the topic of Stan and his imaginary depression has been completely forgotten. They play three more tournaments in Smash, Stan winning both rounds by the slightest margin, before switching to Mario Party. 

 

It’s nearing eleven o’clock by the time they call it quits, Kyle eyeing his phone dubiously. He groans. “I’m sleeping over tonight.” He announces. Stan perks up at his words, brows raised questioningly. 

 

“You are? When was that decided?” He asks. 

 

“Just now, by me. I don’t want to go home.” Kyle responds. Stan grins. 

 

“Okay.” He says. His mind wanders back to last night and their nonsense and the Kinsey Scale. “As long as you promise not to, like, touch me in my sleep.” 

 

Kyle blinks, brows furrowed together and lips tilted down. “What?” He asks accusingly. He’s staring at Stan like he’s lost it. Stan shifts awkwardly. 

 

“It’s a joke.” He explains. Kyle’s expression doesn’t falter. “That Kinsey scale thing. You said you’re a two.”

 

“Okay?” Kyle asks. “Is that a problem for you, or...?” 

 

“No!” Stan says. “No, fuck, of course not. I don’t care if you’re gay, or whatever.” Kyle studies him incredulously. The way his lips are shaped, pressed thinly and pointed downward, makes his nose look hooked and crooked. “Just, like, how gay are you?” 

 

Kyle blows out a long, agitated breath. He runs his fingers through his hair, taking his focus away from Stan’s face. “I dunno, dude.” He says. “I like girls, and stuff. It’s just, like, Chris Hemsworth is pretty hot as Thor, and sometimes I think it’d be cool to makeout with Tom Brady.” He shrugs nonchalantly.

 

“But you wouldn’t date a guy or anything?” Stan asks. Kyle rubs at his forehead, sighing heavily again. 

 

“Fuck, probably not. Dude, why do you care?” 

 

“I don’t.” Stan says, quickly. Kyle stares back at him. 

 

“Is this making you uncomfortable?” He asks. 

 

“No.” Stan says. 

 

“Okay.” Kyle says, but he doesn’t sound like he quite believes him. Stan opens another beer. 

 

“I’m not a homophobe.” He defends. “Like I said, dude, I don’t care if you’re gay.” 

 

“I’m not gay.” Kyle corrects. “I might be bi, but that's still pretty questionable.” 

 

“Okay.” Stan says, feeling his chest deflate. Kyle being kind of gay is by no means a problem in Stan’s mind. What he’s taking issue with, Stan is realizing with horror, is that the possibility of Kyle being gay is there, but slight. As he’s coming to realize that his own claims of heterosexuality are decreasing, so is Kyle. The difference being that Kyle still maintains a shred of hope, a chance that whatever it is he’s going through could be a phase. 

 

This revelation feels especially odd as they’re going to bed, Stan sprawled across his mattress and Kyle on the floor next him. Stan’s trying to keep his eyes set on the ceiling, but every now and again, as he’s shifting in bed, he allows himself a shameful glance in Kyle’s direction. He’s wearing a t-shirt and his boxers, which, for whatever reason, is making Stan’s head spin. As he falls asleep, his mind begins to wander, getting flashes of green eyes and nimble fingers and freckled cheeks. They overtake his memories, replacing what was once gray eyes and sharp edges. Red curls fall under Stan’s fingers in place of black strands. These thoughts come to him in waves as he slips into dreams, fuzzy feelings building in his chest. The last coherent thought he has before he’s completely out cold is, 


I am so fucked .

Chapter Text

Apparently, not coming home for thirty eight hours straight is enough grounds for Craig to get his shit wrecked. Literally -dad broke his laptop. Like, he sheer, brute force snapped it in half. Craig was initially appalled when he stumbled upon this revelation, sneaking through his front door long after the sun came down, reeking of weed and cigarettes. Sometime after the Stan situation, after they had been hanging around Tweek’s room for nearly ten hours, they met up with Kenny for weed by the train tracks. Watching Tweek and Kenny interact had been weird. The anger radiating off of Tweek was so thick it was practically visible, but Kenny acted as if they’d never encountered an issue at all. Craig paid for their shit and tried to get out of there as quickly as possible, but couldn’t manage to sneak away before Kenny said, 

 

“You just missed Stan, by the way.” Craig had not responded, outside of flipping Kenny off over his shoulder, but he didn’t miss the curious look Tweek shot his way, or the unsettling smirk on Kenny’s face. Craig’s not sure what he was on about, Craig is never entirely sure what Kenny’s on about, but he knows he doesn’t like it, especially not if it involves Stan and himself. 

 

By the time he got home, Craig had been praying that his parents would be asleep. He was nearly relieved to find an empty, dark living room, until he noticed his laptop sitting at the bottom of the stairwell, in a gruesome two pieces and a crack in the screen. Had Craig’s brain not been fried from mushrooms, copious amounts of weed, and his itching need for a tetanus shot due to some horrifically shameful gas station shenanigans, he would have kept his mouth shut and quietly snuck up to his room. If he had any brains left at all, he would have chosen to leave any fight brewing for the morning. Instead, his gloriously empty head filled itself with nothing but dumb, blinding rage. Without so much as a thought, he screamed, 

 

“Are you fucking kidding me!” 

 

Which, in turn, rattled through the house. As did the heavy sound of Craig slamming the front door shut. He certainly wasn’t thinking about the ruckus this would cause, or the brutal screaming match that would follow, as he stomped over to his broken computer, his lips trembling into a sneer. His hands were held tightly to his sides, clenched into fists and his body was running with tremors. The deafening sound of his blood rushing through his ears had been enough to muffle his parents’ footsteps, as well as their shouts of outrage. When Craig’s eyes had snapped up to meet his parents, standing at the top of the stairs looking furious, he had been surprised, but by no means deterred. He was the first to get a word in, which was also a mistake. 

 

“You broke my shit!” He shouted. His dad started to descend the stairs, looking furious. 

 

“Where the fuck have you been?” The boom of his voice made Craig flinch. 

 

“Both of you!” His mother interjected, stern and hushed. “Keep your voices down. We’ll talk about this in the morning.” 

 

“Like fuck we will!” Craig shot back, in no attempt to lower his voice. He gestured angrily to his laptop. “You broke my shit!” 

 

His dad laughed. “You think just because you’re eighteen you can do whatever the hell you want with no consequences, huh?” 

 

Craig felt his hands ball into fists, face growing hot. A low, guttural noise ripped from the back of his throat, his teeth bared like a wild dog. If Tweek had been around to see such an expression, he would’ve laughed at him. 

 

Fuck you !” Craig shouted, throwing his hands up in the air. “Fuck you, fuck you-“

 

“Hey!” His mother scolded, still refusing to raise her voice above a whisper. “Your sister is sleeping, asshole. And watch your fucking language.” 

 

Clamping his mouth shut, Craig screamed behind closed teeth, his fingers threading through his hair and eyes squeezed shut. Like a toddler having a temper tantrum, he had stomped his foot, a loud thud ringing out upon impact. In the midst of his fit, a hand clamped tightly around his shoulder, shaking his body like an attempt to get him to snap out of his rage. Craig tried to push it off, but his dad’s grip was too strong. As he allowed himself to crack his eyes open, he was greeted with his dad’s furious, reddened expression. 

 

“Who the fuck do you think you are?” He asked, beginning to tug Craig up the stairs. He tried to struggle, to break free of his dad’s grasp, screaming “fuck off,” and “get off me,” as he was pulled toward his room. It didn’t matter, dad’s grip never let up. He continued ranting as if Craig’s tantrum fell upon deaf ears. “It’s been days, Craig, days ! I had to talk your mother out of calling the police! We got a fucking call from the school, you know-“

 

Fucking let go!” Craig had screeched. His father was not deterred, his hold on Craig only tightening. 

 

“Ditching class? Seriously, how stupid are you?” He continued. 

 

“Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you!” 

 

“We’ve been over this a million times! all you have to do, all we ever ask of you, is that you go to school and you call us when you’re not going to be home. Is that so fucking hard? Or does your tiny pea brain not understand the bare minimum?” 

 

Craig had no verbal response for this, only screeching violently, about four feet outside his sister’s bedroom door. 

 

“You’ve gotta be the most useless, disrespectful piece of shit I’ve ever come across. You don’t deserve your fucking privledges.” His dad opened the door to Craig’s room, practically shoving him inside. Craig stumbled, vision blurred by rage as he stared into the carpet of his bedroom hyperventilating. 

 

Motherfucker!” He shouted. His dad scoffed from behind him. 

 

“You reek like pot.” He said. “Skipping class to smoke dope isn’t the way to a bright future. If you want a new laptop, get a job.” And with that, Craig’s father slammed the door closed, leaving him stranded in the faint light of his glow in the dark stars. Craig had been completely unaware of what time it was until his eyes fell to the digital clock on his nightstand, blinking 1:07 in the morning. 

 

Thus, he’s sentenced to a month long grounding, as if the broken laptop weren’t punishment enough. Access to his phone has been heavily restricted, reserved only for school or when his parents might need to get in contact with him. He’s not allowed to go out with his friends or play his video games (which is impossible without his laptop, anyway) and he certainly isn’t allowed to go to homecoming. Which, on only day fucking three of his thirty day sentence, happens to be tonight. 

 

As lame as school dances are, getting trashed at them with his friends isn’t, and Craig had been looking forward to the after party at Token’s. Unfortunately, he had decided to be not only a jackass, but also a moron, and now he has to suffer the consequences. He can’t even go on walks to smoke, due to his parents fearing that if they let him out of their prison for even a second, he’ll start fucking off again. 

 

Thank God he’s still allowed to accept rides to school from Token, or else he’s fairly certain he’d blow his brains out. The past few mornings have been brutal, with Craig having to tiptoe around his house in a desperate attempt to avoid his family. No one has said a word about their blow up Tuesday night, even Tricia is being careful to keep her mouth shut, and Craig would like to keep it that way. He’s positive that if he sees his folks for any longer than a brief passing, he’s going to lose his shit. He still has some very choice words on the tip of his tongue regarding the whole laptop mishap. 

 

He’s made a habit of sneaking out fifteen minutes before Token pulls up for a cigarette and some time to himself. There’s nothing like a brisk morning and some nicotine to get his day started. Craig is just finishing up his second smoke when Token’s car pulls into his driveway. When Craig stands, Clyde seems to take that as his cue to exit the passenger seat. 

 

“What are you doing?” Craig asks. Clyde stares at him questioningly. 

 

“Giving you my seat?” He says. 

 

“Don’t bother. I'm sitting in the back with Tweek.” As Craig opens the back door, a funny grin spreads across Clyde’s face. 

 

Pfft , fag.” He says, moving to get back inside the car. 

 

“Morning.” Token greets, staring at Craig through the reflection in the rear view mirror. Craig slouches low in his seat, knees pressed against the back of the driver’s seat. He crosses his arms over his chest. 

 

“It’s not like that.” Craig defends, completely ignoring Token’s greeting. Clyde turns to glance at him. 

 

“Sure it’s not.” He says, rolling his eyes. “It’s like you think I’m stupid. You guys have been all over each other. Don’t think I haven’t noticed the hand holding.” He turns to Token, speaking as if Craig has already left the vehicle. “They’re definitely hooking up, right dude?” 

 

Token hums. “Yeah, maybe.” He says. Craig feels his face burn, arms crossed over his chest as he slinks as low in his seat as possible. 

 

He stays silent on the drive to Tweak Bros, watching the town whiz by as his fingers itch to light another cigarette. When the car’s stopped and Tweek emerges from the coffee shop, Craig feels a ghost of a smile beginning to form on his lips. The smile only grows when Tweek tugs the passenger side door open, staring at Craig with an initial look of shock that quickly morphs into a face-splitting grin. 

 

“Hi,” he says, sliding into the middle seat, squishing himself as close up against Craig’s side as possible. He holds out his hand, palm facing up and fingers twitching slightly. Instantly, Craig obliges, lacing their fingers together and pulling their intertwined hands into his lap. Tweek’s eyes travel over his figure, a funny grin written on his face. “You’re folded up like a fucking pretzel.” He says. Craig squeezes his hand. 

 

“Worth it.” He responds. He doesn’t miss the slight red hue that tints Tweek’s cheeks as he directs his gaze toward his feet. Nor does Craig miss the sweet, embarrassed smile settled along the lines of his lips. The moment is broken by the grating sounds of Clyde’s laughter, his eyes focused on them in the rearview mirror. 

 

“Jesus Tweek, what kind of drugs are you giving him? I don’t think I’ve ever seen Craig smile that big in my fucking life.” He jokes. Tweek squeaks, twitching awkwardly in his seat. Like he’s been burned, he tears his hand away from Craig’s, clutching it tightly to his chest. He’s refusing to look Craig in the eye. 

 

He eventually sneaks his hand back to Craig’s not long after they’ve picked up Jimmy and hopped on the interstate. He stays silent on the drive, but plays idly with Craig’s fingers, squeezing them in his palm and lightly grazing his touch over the knuckles. It sends warm tingles up Craig’s spine, relaxing his muscles and letting a soft grin creep across his face. He imagines that delicate touch running over the length of his back or across his shoulders, gentle and soothing. It lasts until they’ve reached the school, Tweek immediately dropping his hold on Craig’s hand once they’ve parked. He turns to Craig with wild, intense eyes and a grin that’s too big for his face. 

 

“Smoke time?” He asks. Craig can’t help but crack a grin back. 

 

“Are you psychic?” He asks, making Tweek waver, that big grin settling into something small and bashful. Craig finds his sudden shyness alluring, something to be sifted through and uncovered. He grins. “You read my fucking mind.” Tweek’s expression is as warm and bright as the light from a thousand suns. 

 

They head for the dumpsters, their walk refreshing in the chilled air. It snowed lightly last night, the ground coated in a small dusting of white. Tweek grins when his sneakers crunch through the frosty grass, Craig watching him with nothing but utmost curiosity. The more time he spends with Tweek, the more he has a way of building an unfamiliar fuzzy feeling deep under Craig’s sternum, even through little things like playing with his fingers and crunching through the snow. 

 

Their cigarettes are in Craig’s hand the second they turn the corner, entering the alcove. The rancid stench of garbage instantly assaults his senses, making him wrinkle his nose. He lights his smoke swiftly, savoring it as if it’s the last cigarette he’ll ever have. Tweek is standing right next to him, huddled into Craig’s space and playing idly with his fingertips. The smoke from his cigarette is traveling into Craig’s nose. 

 

“Do you wanna do acid with me?” Tweek asks, disrupting their silence. Craig scowls, staring at the glowing end of his smoke. He flicks his wrist, discarding any extra ash building at the end. Tweek has still not released his other hand. 

 

“I thought you only did that stuff on special occasions.” He says, instead of answering Tweek’s question. 

 

Tweek spasms, flinching so hard he accidentally drops his cigarette to the pavement. He shakes his head, eyes squeezes such, before reaching down to retrieve his smoke. “Kenny’s being an ass.” He says. Tweek rolls his eyes, taking a long drag off his cigarette. “He has all the coke I could ever want, but no fucking - argh!” Tweek’s eyes twitch, body jolting. His face is twisted in a scowl. “But! I found this shit in my parents’ freezer.” He reaches into his messenger bag, pulling out a small packet of tinfoil. “Speedy with an easy, hnng,  come down. If it wears off before I can get more of the good stuff, I still have coke. The visuals might freak me out, but I'm feeling brave after those mushrooms.” 

 

Craig can feel his scowl deepening, lips thinning out and frowning slightly. “Mixing drugs like that has gotta be how people die.” He says. Tweek scoffs. 

 

“Don’t be a buzzkill.” He argues, shoving the tinfoil back into his bag. “It’s homecoming, let me have fun.” 

 

“You don’t go to homecoming.” Craig points out. 

 

“I’m going tonight.” Tweek replies, taking Craig off guard. His head snaps in Tweek’s direction, staring down at him like he’s grown a second head. 

 

“Are you?” He asks. Tweek beams up at him, squeezing Craig’s hand and nodding. 

 

“Yeah,” he says. “With you. You’re my date.” 

 

The corners of Craig’s lips twitch up into a smile, the natural creases of his brow softening. He takes a long drag of his cigarette, running his thumb over the expanse of Tweek’s knuckles. 

 

“If only.” Caig says, wistfully, leaning his head back, eyes fixed on the sky. Tweek cocks his head to the side, brows furrowed and eyes unsettlingly wide. 

 

“What the fuck are you talking about?” He demands. 

 

Craig huffs out a sigh, staring at the sky in the hopes that maybe, perhaps, God himself could release him from his father’s grip. In the past, convincing Tweek to do anything outside of getting high in Token’s basement had been like pulling teeth. Trying to get him to attend a school dance had been out of the question, and managing to pull him out of his house for the after party was near impossible. So of course, the one year and final opportunity Craig’s been given to go to homecoming with Tweek, he can’t. The word date is ringing through his mind like a bell choir. He squeezes Tweek’s hand, taking in the warmth of his palm and the feeling of their skin pressed together. 

 

“I really, really wanna be your date to homecoming.” Craig says. “But I can’t. My parents will kill me.” 

 

“Oh, wah,” Tweek says, releasing Craig’s hand in favor of bringing his fists up to his eyes, twisting them to mimic tears. “Little baby is afraid of mommy and daddy. Boo-hoo.” 

 

Craig balks, mouth slightly agape and brows raised. He collects himself quickly, allowing his brows to settle low on his face, twisted into a questioning expression. He leans down, hunching over Tweek as he brings their faces near eye level. His back is strained from this angle, twisted like a hunchback. Once again, Craig is reminded of how tiny Tweek seems compared to him, all little hands and short stature. 

 

“Are you challenging me?” He asks. A grin cracks Tweek’s face, lopsided and mischievous. Elevating onto the balls of his feet, he reaches up to grab Craig’s face between his hands, the tips of their noses mere centimeters apart. His thumbs run over the creases of Craig’s brow, smoothing over them. 

 

“I’m mocking you,” he says. “Big difference.” 

 

Craig scoffs, lips twisted in a smirk. Tweek’s staring at him with stars in his eyes, grin wide and head tilted to the side. He releases his hold on Craig’s face in favor of digging through his messenger bag, letting himself settle from his tiptoes. He makes a grab for his tinfoil, opening it up to reveal seven little tabs of blotting paper. He picks up four of them with the tips of his fingers, placing them on his tongue. 

 

“There, I’ve already dropped.” Tweek says. “So I’m going. That means you have to, too.” 

 

Craig raises a brow. “Does it?” He asks. 

 

“Mm-hm.” Tweek says, nodding his head rapidly. “You’re riding the bus with me after school, right?” 

 

Craig shrugs. “That was the plan.” He says. Tweek’s beam spreads widely across his face. 

 

“Just don’t go home.” He suggests. 

 

Craig snorts, the smoke in his lungs suddenly tasting a hell of a lot more bitter. He stares down at the cigarette placed between his fingers, smoked all the way to the filter. The corners of his lips are down turned, chest feeling heavy. He breathes out a heavy sigh, kicking awkwardly at the dirt in front of him. A big part of Craig wishes he were brave enough to claim he doesn’t give a fuck what his parents think. After all, he’s an adult now. He doesn’t need to live in fear of his parents, or the consequences of disobeying them, but the fight from Tuesday still lingers along the forefront of his mind. 

 

“They already broke your shit, man.” Tweek reminds him. “What’s the worst that’ll happen?”

 

Something in Tweek’s words clicks into Craig’s brain like a puzzle piece. Or maybe it’s just the shine in his eyes, bright and warm and hypnotizing. But Tweek’s right. There’s not much Craig’s parents could do to him at this point, it’s not like he has another laptop to break. All they could do is extend his grounding, which wouldn’t even matter so long as Craig could continue the charade of simply not going home. It would be so easy to not get caught, too. Seriously, what are they going to do? Search the town? 

 

Craig feels his face crack into a grin. “Okay, fuck it. But only if I can talk you into going to Token’s after party.” He says. 

 

“Okay.” Tweek agrees. “Deal.” 

 

After the bell rings and they have to part ways, Craig’s day is weird. He’s filled to the brim with jitters, nervous energy buzzing through the barrel of his chest. He keeps watch on his phone like a hawk, paranoid about a sudden angry text or call from dad. The text never comes, of course; regardless of Craig’s ever-growing stress. Still, having to sit through class is hellish. Craig is way too antsy to focus, keeping himself busy by bouncing his leg and routinely checking the clock. His mind keeps wandering to Tweek and his acid, wondering what those little tabs of paper could be doing to him. Would sitting in class feel better or worse with funky colors and endless energy? Craig wonders what Homecoming would be like whilst tripping, crowded in the gym with a few lame streamers lining the floor. He’s never dropped acid, but the imagery of mushrooms have yet to disperse from his memory. Surely they’re similar, right? At the very least, Craig can ask Tweek about it. He’ll get to watch it happen, hopefully drunk off his ass. The mere thought of the sorts of fun that could lead to is enough to convince him to defy his parents. That, and the fact that Tweek called it a date. 

 

That still feels foriegn. Craig’s never been on a date before, but whatever he and Tweek have planned certainly isn’t what he’s pictured in his head. It’s not like he was awkwardly asked to Homecoming by some boy he’s been admiring from afar. He’s going with Tweek; the same Tweek he’s been hanging around since he was nine, the one who steals weed for him and drops acid at school. They’ve known each other their whole lives, stuck in the same stupid town with the same group of friends. If someone were to ask a nine-year-old Craig what he thought of Tweek, he wouldn’t have had an answer outside of,

 

‘He’s weird, but cool.’  

 

For years, Tweek’s walls seemed so guarded that Craig had never thought to approach them. It was like he lived in his head, popping out into the real world for only moments at a time. The second Craig extended his hand for the first time, it was like all of that shifted. Tweek’s boldness floors him. Up until recently, Craig had never thought to consider what Tweek got up to in his free time, but now he feels like he wants to know everything. The few tidbits of Tweek’s life he holds shoot him with thrills, leaving him hungry for more. He wants to know everything, every little detail engraved in him. Craig’s fingers twitch, curling around his phone. He wishes it were Tweek’s hand. 

 

Thinking about Tweek is dangerous, Craig realizes after lunch, while he’s doing out so hard in PE class that he gets hit in the stomach during a game of dodgeball. It collaides into him like a fucking truck. His hands clutch at his gut, doubling over and wheezing like a deflating balloon. As he attempts to catch his breath, he realizes that this is the second time today Tweek’s managed to run him into trouble. If Craig were not dealing with the wind being knocked out of him, he would’ve smiled. 

 

Sixth period is cancelled in place of the Homecoming assembly, which Craig ditches in favor of smoking cigarettes alone by the dumpsters. He’s down to his last four, cursing his parents for all the stress they’ve caused him and himself for his complete lack of self control. Huffing, Craig places one between his teeth, lighting it swiftly and feeling the nicotine spread through his blood stream. He flutters his eyes shut, tilting his chin toward the clouds and blowing a long stream of smoke into the air. Four cigarettes, that’s it. Four whole fucking cigarettes, all because of his stupid parents and his stupid broken laptop and this stupid grounding he’s choosing to ignore. 

 

Craig would have bought a carton of them the other day, if he’d thought about it. Instead, he’d only bought two packs, one for himself and one for Tweek, and scurried out of that convenient store  as quickly as he could. Now he’s stuck with a measly four smokes and a sudden paranoia of ever entering that gas station and it’s nasty, piss-scented bathroom again. Craig bounces his leg, sucking on the end of his cigarette like pacifier. Stan Marsh is such a fucking douche, Craig could spit on him. The scent of piss will forever be associated with him, burned into Craig’s memory right along with his stupid, tiny dick. 

 

The second the final bell rings, Craig darts to the bus stop. He wants to see Tweek and get this day started. In his stride, he turns his phone off, dropping it into the front pocket of his backpack to be forgotten about. He’s at the bus stop in ten minutes, greeted with the sight of Tweek fidgeting in his spot, waiting for him. The corners of his lips tug up into a grin the moment their eyes meet. Instinctively, Craig waves and jogs over, making Tweek’s face light up like the night sky, eyes brighter than the Colorado stars. 

 

“I made myself bleed.” Is the first thing Tweek says when Craig approaches him, thrusting his hands into Craig’s face to prove it. His nails are bitten down nearly to the quick, lines of dried blood caked in his cuticles. Craig grabs his hands, bringing them close to his face to examine. 

 

“Shit.” Craig says, brows raised. “That looks like it hurts.” Tweek shrugs, fidgeting awkwardly in his spot and bringing his hand up to his face, staring at it intently. 

 

“Yeah, I was picking at my fingers a lot. I got really anxious in English because I’m pretty sure I opened a portal into another dimension.” He snaps his head up, staring at Craig with a wide, crazed grin. “I think my hands are magic or something, I don’t know. Hey, do you wanna transfer energies?” 

 

Craig cracks a grin, reaching his hands out for Tweek to take. “Hit me.” He says. In an instant, Tweek’s hands are squeezing his, his eyes closed as he hums something low under his breath. Craig watches him intently, his body thrumming with electricity. When Tweek opens his eyes, looking up at Craig with a giant gaze and a grin too big for his face, Craig can’t help but be struck with the feeling that he wants to pull him closer. 

 

“Your hands feel nice.” Tweek says, holding Craig’s hands up to his face, searching the lines of his palm like they contain secrets. “I like your energy. It feels good in my body.”

 

“Thanks?” Craig says. Tweek drops his hold in Craig’s hands in favor of stepping closer to him, elevating onto his tiptoes and grabbing the sides of Craig’s face. He pulls him down so that they’re eye level, Craig stumbling slightly in his place. Eyebrows twisted questioningly, Tweek stares into his eyes, running his thumbs in smooth circles over Craig’s cheekbones. His fingers are curled slightly into the short hairs at the nape of Craig’s neck, the pads of his fingers warm against his skin. Craig’s gaze flicks to his lips, then back up to his eyes, green and big and bright, pupils blown to the size of saucers. 

 

“Your face is so cool.” Tweek says, voice dropped to a hushed tone. Craig feels his cheeks grow warm. His hands hang uselessly at his sides, unsure of what to do with themselves. They itch to touch Tweek’s waist, or rest on his hips, but he has no idea if that would be crossing some sort of boundary. The tips of their noses are close to brushing together, their eyes locked and lips mere inches apart. 

 

Craig stumbles back like he’s been burned, straightening up as quickly as he can and trying to get as far from Tweek and his lips and his eyes as possible. “You’re really short.” He says. It’s the first thought that pops into his head. In all honesty, Tweek isn’t that short. Sure, he’s quite a bit shorter than Craig, but so are most people. Still, Craig’s back aches from hunching over and his brain feels all jumbled. He can’t form thoughts all too well right now. 

 

“Huh?” Tweek says, looking down at himself and then back up at Craig. He has to tilt his chin upward. “I think the coffee might’ve stunted my growth, or something. Oh , coffee sounds really good right now. Do you know where we can get coffee?” 

 

Coffee coffee? Or-” Craig starts. 

 

Shh , shut up, shut up!” Tweek chants, waving his hand in front of Craig’s face and staring at something behind his shoulder. “The bus is coming.” 

 

Craig turns to be greeted with the sight of the city bus approaching them, about a quarter of a mile down the road. When he looks back at Tweek, he has his head cocked to the side, hand cupped over his ear and lips slightly parted. His eyes look glossy and unfocused, staring off into space. After a moment, he nods, straightening himself out and breathing a heavy sigh of relief. “Okay, we’re good.” He says.

 

Craig stares at him, then turns to look back at the bus. He frowns. “What the fuck were you doing?” 

 

“Checking for bad energy. But we’re good.” Tweek says. Craig feels his frown deepen. 

 

“How can you tell?” He asks. 

 

“The ground makes weird noises when the buses have bad energy. It has something to do with the tires. Or the Devil. I don’t know.” 

 

Once the bus has stopped and they’ve begun to board it, Tweek attempts to board without paying his bus fare, which leads to a very awkward, and slightly heated conversation between Tweek and the bus driver. It ends in Craig having to fork over two fucking dollars before he grumpily trudges to the back of the bus, pulling Tweek by the hand behind him. He sits down with a huff, crossing his arms over his chest and slouching in his seat. Next to him, Tweek’s rapidly bouncing his leg, searching his head every which way. Craig raises a brow. 

 

“Are you looking for demons or something?” He asks. Tweek hums, staring down a particular spot on the ceiling. 

 

“No, I’m really anxious.” He answers. 

 

“Oh.” Craig says, shifting awkwardly in his seat. “Do you wanna hold my hand?” 

 

Tweek’s head snaps in his direction, eyes locking on him with focused intensity. “I kind of want to lean on you, but I feel like that’s weird.” He says. 

 

“It’s not weird.” Craig responds too quickly. As soon as the words leave his mouth, he feels his face warm. 

 

Tweek’s eyes widen slightly, refocusing his attention to his feet. “Will you put your arm around me?” He asks, taking Craig off guard. He watches as color visibly arises in Tweek’s cheeks, his hands fidgeting in his lap. “I think it’ll make me feel safe. You’re good at making me feel safe.” 

 

“Yeah.” Craig says, draping his arm over the back of Tweek’s seat. “C’mere.” 

 

Tweek fits himself into Craig’s side, his warm body pressed up close against him. Craig loosely wraps his arm around Tweek’s shoulder. He hums slightly, resting his cheek against Craig’s shoulder, hands folded in his lap. He nuzzles his cheek against the sleeve of Craig’s sweatshirt, a soft smile gracing his lips. 

 

“I like your vibes, they’re so safe.” He mutters, soft like an angel. Something deep in Craig’s chest flutters. Tweek scoots himself closer, turning his cheek to press his face into the side of Craig’s neck. The tip of his nose is cool against Craig’s hot skin. “God, I could melt into you.” 

 

A pathetic whimper escapes Craig’s chest, releasing from parted lips without his permission. He allows himself to tighten his hold on Tweek’s shoulders, fingers curling into the fabric of his shirt. This should be weird, Craig tries to remind himself. Boys do not cuddle up with their friends and talk about melting into each other no matter how many psychedelics they take. Certainly not on public transport. Craig gets that Tweek has issues processing reality, with or without acid. He blames drugs and the crazy parents, but this has to be crossing some sort of heterosexual social norm, even to him. Tweek called this a date, for God’s sake. Surely, he must be flirting… right? As the bus halts to a stop, Tweek’s hand wraps around Craig’s forearm, nails digging into him like talons. 

 

“Can’t go home.” He utters like a warning. “Someone will find you.” He’s talking like Craig’s a fugitive, running from the law with a bounty over his head. 

 

Craig Tucker: Wanted, Dead or Alive

$50,000 Reward. 

 

Craig entirely agrees. The football game starts at five, and the dance at eight, leaving them with at least two hours to kill before Homecoming. Craig has no clue what they could do with themselves in that time that would be safe from watchful eyes. They can’t go to Clyde’s, he’s preparing for the game, and if they try to go to Token’s he’ll be annoyed at them for showing up unannounced. Token’s parents are still in the Bahamas, but the security guard should be on duty and he would not be impressed with the size of Tweek’s pupils, nor his strange mutterings. Going to Jimmy’s feels weird without Clyde and Token. Neither of them move to get out of their seats. 

 

“Where do we go, then?” Craig asks. Tweek is staring out the window, eyes the size of saucers. 

 

“Another town.” He says, voice barely above a whisper. “Somewhere with coffee, where the trees don’t wiggle.” 

 

Craig racks his brain, trying to recount his knowledge of Colorado geography. A spur of the moment bus trip out of town seems like a bad idea, especially so close to the game, but he’s not sure what else to do. Tweek is talking like he has a plan.“That’s Idaho Springs.” Craig says. He’s never been, but he knows it’s some town he’s passed heading to Denver, which couldn’t be more than an hour out. “It’s probably, like, a forty-five minute trip. We might have to transfer at the station.” 

 

Tweek presses his lips together, humming softly. “Idaho Springs it is.” He agrees. 

 

Their trip ends up taking longer than expected, and forces Craig to fork over a grand total of ten dollars, which he’s annoyed about. He could’ve sworn they weren’t an hour and forty-five minutes outside of Idaho Springs. Granted, the one time he rode the bus outside of South Park was last summer, drunk off his ass and thinking the thirty bucks for a spur-of-the-moment trip to Denver was worth the investment. This travel time doesn’t even include the half-hour wait at the bus station, where Tweek pops his final three tabs of acid. 

 

“The mountains are so cool, man!” He exclaims while they wait for their next bus. “And the trees! Fuck, look at that.” He’s not pointing to anything, just staring off into the distance with giant eyes and a Cheshire grin. 

 

By the time they reach their destination, they’re already late for the game. Tweek refuses to turn around until he’s found a coffee shop and had a cigarette. It takes twenty minutes to hunt down a coffee shop, in which time the two of them smoke through a grand total of four cigarettes. Craig has to fork over an additional three dollars for Tweek to get his coffee, and he claims it tastes like shit the second it touches his lips. He’s quiet walking back to the car, taking slow, tentative sips of his coffee and dragging his feet. His grip on Craig’s hand has been tight.

 

“Are you okay?” Craig asks. Tweek had seemed perfectly happy for the duration of their bus ride, and only somewhat frantic as they disembarked. Craig wouldn’t have the slightest clue what could’ve set him off. 

 

“Do you think I’m gonna die?” Tweek asks. His voice is loud and the question throws Craig off guard. 

 

“Probably, unless you’re immortal.” Craig answers. He offers Tweek’s hand a slight squeeze. “Everyone dies eventually.”

 

“I mean, hnng,” Tweek fidgets awkwardly in his spot, the coffee cup in his hand trembling violently. “You said that thing about mixing drugs. Do you actually think I’m gonna die?” 

 

“Eventually.” Craig reiterates. He offers a shrug. “You have to stop at some point. No one can go their whole lives high off their ass without consequences.” 

 

“But everything kills someone.” Tweek argues. “What does it matter of my vice is, uh, c-coffee, or whatever. You said it yourself, we all end up in the ground one way or another.” 

 

Craig purses his lips, rubbing his thumb over Tweek’s knuckles. “Yeah, I guess.” He says. “I think at that point it just depends on how long you wanna live.” 

 

Tweek eyes him for a moment, slowing his stride until they’ve come to a complete halt. Craig is tempted to pull them along, but they expression on Tweek’s face seems serious. “What do you mean?” He asks. Craig scratches awkwardly at the back of his neck. 

 

“Like, would you rather be old and wrinkled or join the twenty-seven’s club?” He asks. Tweek chews at his lip. 

 

“Fuck, I dunno! In between?” He says. Craig presses his lips together. 

 

“Then, yeah. I’d stop doing drugs.” And with that, they continue on to the bus stop. 

 

The Colorado bus line is the biggest waste of time Craig’s ever experienced. The sun has completely set by the time they’ve reached the high school, the game ragging on in the distance. Craig runs, wrapping his fingers around Tweeks wrist and tugging him along behind him. If he doesn’t at least catch the end of the game, he’ll never hear the end of it. 

 

Craig reaches the gates just in the nick of time, the crowd roaring in the stands as number seventy-one sprints across the field. The score board illuminates red right in Craig’s field of view, fourteen to fourteen. There are five seconds counting down on the clock. Someone in an orange jersey is approaching hot on seventy-one’s heels, chasing after that stupid ball like an animal. They’ve approached the 10 yard mark, two seconds counting down. 

 

The roars of the crowd are deafening, ecstatic cheers of Park County students overtaking the stadium. Seventy-one has thrown down the ball, arms raised above his head, encouraging the praise of the crowd. His back is toward Craig, the blockage of bodies and goal posts making it difficult to decipher who he is, even after he rips his helmet off. 

 

“What just happened?” Tweek asks, his voice rousing Craig from his head. He tears his eyes away from seventy-one, glancing up at the scoreboard. Twenty-to-fourteen. The clock is flashing zero. 

 

“We won.” Craig says. He realizes that he hasn’t dropped Tweek’s wrist, but has instead migrated to his hand, their fingers laced together. Tweek squeezes his hand, crooked grin splitting his face. 

 

“Want a smoke?” He asks. 

 

Between the time it takes them to walk to the dumpsters and finish a cigarette, the dance will have started. As they approach the alcove, the pungent aroma of tobacco fills the air. A figure is squatted next to the dumpsters, a bright spot of orange huddled stark against the darkness. Clouds of smoke are billowing from the figure, features growing more distinct as they approach. 

 

Kenny’s wearing jeans with his orange button down, wrinkled with a nasty grease stain splotched at the hem. A few of the top buttons are undone, showing off the skinny barrel of his chest and what appears to be a silver bike chain hanging around his neck. A Spider-Man bandage stretches across the bridge of his nose. He grins up at them as they approach, a new gap between his teeth. His blonde hair is slicked back, a few gelled clumps of hair falling into his face. He offers them a wave. Tweeks hand clamps hard around Craig’s, squeezing the life from his tendons. 

 

“Hey guys.” Kenny greets. His hand slips into his back pocket, pulling out a little silver flask. “Celebratory grog?” 

 

“Thank fuck,” Craig says, taking the flask from Kenny’s hand. After a nearly three hour bus trip, hes fucking exhausted and itching for relief. 

 

The mystery alcohol is fizzy and tastes like gasoline. A shiver runs through Craig’s body as he chugs down as much as he can stomach, overwhelming warmth traveling through him. He gags, thrusting the flask back to Kenny with trembling hands. A large belch emits from the pit of his stomach, leaving his taste buds coated in the bitter flavor of bile. 

 

Kenny holds the flask into Tweeks view, shaking it a little. Tweek shakes his head, retreating behind Craig and keeping his lips clamped closed. Kenny shrugs, tilting his head back and gulping down the last of his grog. When he pulls the flask from his lips, he cringes, pounding at his chest. 

 

“Yeah, that’ll put some hair on your chest.” He says. He grins, lopsided. The dark makes it hard to tell, but Craig’s fairly certain his eyes look weird. Kenny plants his ass on the asphalt, stretching his legs out in front of him and crossing them at the ankles. Craig makes a grab for his cigarettes. 

 

“Clyde’s gonna be losing his shit.” He says, flicking his lighter to life. Park County hasn’t won a homecoming game since freshman year. Kenny scoffs. 

 

“Yeah, Stan, too.” He says. He lights another cigarette. “Did you catch the whole game?” 

 

Craig shakes his head. “Just the last few seconds. I saw enough to know we won.” Kenny raises a brow, grinning around his cigarette. His eyes lift to Tweek, who’s still half standing behind Craig, a scowl etched in his face. 

 

“Hey, Tweeker.” He greets, making Tweek instantly tense. He wraps his arms around Craig’s, holding him tight. “You haven’t come by my place in a few days.” Kenny continues. Tweek cocks his head to the side, a strange sound reminiscent of a growl vibrating through his chest. “I have your stuff.” 

 

The second those words escape Kenny’s lips, Tweek tenses, the cigarette clutches between his fingers snapping in half. Craig watches it fall to the ground, the orange glow the cherry slowly dying out. Tweek lets out a long, shaky breath, running his hands through his hair. 

 

“Um,” he says. “I don’t really-“

 

It’s too late. Kenny’s already reaching into his backpack, pulling out a brown paper bag. Craig makes a grab for Tweek’s hand, squeezing it tight. 

 

“I’ll sell it to you for forty bucks.” Kenny offers, grinning like he’s doing Tweek a favor. Tweek twitches, tearing his hand from Craig’s grasp. 

 

“Gimme.” He demands, thrusting his hands out, fingers shaking. Kenny shrugs, tossing Tweek the bag. He peeks inside, a surprised gasp escaping him. “Fuck, this is-“

 

“A steal?” Kenny offers. “Yeah, I was feelin’ bad about the other day, thought I’d throw you a bone.” Kenny pauses, gaze fixated on Tweek. “Us filthy addicts gotta stick together, right?”

 

Tweek freezes, eyes wide and face paling. He drops the bag, kicking it in Kenny’s direction. “Keep your fucking stuff , Kenny.” He says, fists balled at his sides. Kenny laughs, loud and obnoxious. 

 

“Shit, you getting clean?” He asks. Craig has to keep himself from scoffing. Clean is a word, but certainly not one to describe Tweek. The sheer amount of weed and cocaine he ingests on a regular basis is evidence enough, and that’s not even counting the acid excreting from his pores or the bag of crystal meth laying at their feet. 

 

Tweek pauses, pressing his lips together and clearing his throat. “I just don’t wanna, hnng, die, man. I’m really trying not to die.” 

 

Kenny scoffs. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” He says, like he’s personally experienced heaven. “I’ll strike you a deal; eighty bucks for your stuff, and I’ll throw in half a gram of coke.” 

 

Tweek’s hands fly to his wallet, digging around in his jeans. He pulls out a large wad of cash, right along with a handful of various coins. “I have seventy-one dollars and,” he pauses, quietly counting the change sitting in his palm under his breath. “Eighty-two cents.” 

 

“Seventy-one,” Kenny mutters, staring wistfully at the sky. “Okay, deal, but only because seventy-one is our lucky number.” He grabs Tweek’s money, kicking the bag over to him. Tweek scurries for it like a rat, clutching the bag between his fingers like it’s a life source. He cocks his head to the side. 

 

“Why is seventy-one lucky?” He asks. 

 

“Seventy-one won.” Kenny says, eyes focused on Craig with such intensity it makes his squirm. He feels exposed, like Kenny’s gaze holds the power to break apart his ribs and peer into his soul. He has to battle the urge to cross his arms over his chest. “He’s gonna have a hell of a God complex after he’s had his liquor.” 

 

“Stan,” Craig says, a sneer carved into his face. Stan is seventy-one, he realizes. Stan won them the fucking game. The name tastes sour in his mouth. “Stop looking at me like that. Why do you think I care so much about Stan?” Kenny shrugs, pushing himself off the ground and brushing the dirt off his jeans. 

 

“I’m not stupid, Craig.” He says. “It’s pretty obvious that if anyone were to care about Stan and his big dick syndrome, it’d be you.” As Kenny brushes past them, he tosses Tweek a small ziplock bag, filled with powdery white substance. He turns on his heel, offering them a two fingered salute. “I’ll see you guys around.” 

 

Craig’s cigarette has burned nearly to the filter. He takes one final drag, that last bit of nicotine making his head feel woozy. Tweek is quiet, staring at the spot where Kenny’s figure had once been with his lips pressed tight together. A spasm runs through him like an earthquake, his entire body shaking violently. Craig reaches for his hand, but Tweek pulls away like he’s been burned. He turns to Craig in a flash, eyes wide and wild. 

 

“What does he mean?” He asks, voice pitched. The paper bag clutched between his fingers is trembling, vibrating at a hundred miles per hour. “Th-the shit about Stan and his- gah!” Tweek’s face spams, eyes twitching interchangeably. With how wide they are, it makes him look crazy. “His fucking --argh— dick? What the fuck does he mean?” 

 

Craig stays quiet, dropping his cigarette butt to the ground and squashing it under the sole of his shoe. He shoves his hands in his pockets, refusing to meet Tweeks eye. “I don’t know.” He says. Tweek laughs, a sound that’s bitter and devoid of humor. 

 

“I’m so fucking, fucking stupid -ack!” Tweek is jittering so much, it tempts Craig to reach out and touch him. He refrains. The physical contact doesn’t seem appropriate right now. “Fuck me! Fuck this, fuck you , I’m going home.” Tweek says, fingers threaded through his hair. Craig’s head snaps up, something deep in his chest pained, like there’s a hand wrapped around his heart, squeezing it like a stress ball. That makes him reach out, hurt and searching for that reassuring warmth of Tweek’s palm in his. Tweek flinches away from him, taking a step back. He holds the bag to his chest, as if he’s afraid Craig is going to grab for it. 

 

“We haven’t even made it to the dance.” Craig says, his arm falling uselessly to his side. “I thought this was a date. I paid for your bus ticket.” 

 

“A date!” Tweek says, face split with an unsettled grin. He presses his palms to his forehead, pushing a few stray strands of hair from his face. He laughs, crazed with nerves and devoid of joy. His breath is growing rapid. “I can’t - no - no, fuck you , no!” His hands are trembling. Snot is running down his face and his eyes are looking wet. It’s kind of pitiful, and very concerning. If Tweek weren’t chanting fuck you and looking at Craig like he’s out to get him, he might feel inclined to hold him. Instead, he’s fucking hurt. 

 

“You called it that. This was your idea.” Craig says, brows lowering in a scowl. Tweek stomps his foot, letting out a frustrated growl. 

 

“Just keep your stupid queer shit away from me, okay?” He says, which feels a lot more like getting punched in the gut. The warmth in Craig’s stomach curdles, overwhelming him with the urge to vomit. Tweek looks equally as surprised as Craig feels, his face falling the second the words escape him. They stare each other down for a moment, the pitiful expression on Tweek’s face almost too much to bear. It’s Tweek who breaks the eye contact, gaze falling to his feet. “I should go.” He whispers. 

 

“Yeah.” Craig says, fresh cigarette already between his teeth. He flicks his lighter to life. “You should.” 

 

Tweek nods, turning on his heel to leave. Once he gets a few feet away, he pauses, turning his head to look at Craig over his shoulder. 

 

“Have fun with Stan.” He spits the words like they’re acid, bitter and painful on his tongue, before storming away with purpose.  

 

Craig can’t stand to watch him go. Instead, he stares at the cherry of his cigarette, enthralled with the billows of smoke curling into the sky. It takes him a long while to muster up the courage to move his feet, the trek back to the school nothing short of depressing. This all feels so pointless without Tweek, like Craig just threw his freedom away for fuck nothing. As he approaches the school, the muffled sounds of pop music assault his senses, shitting all over his already sour mood. Stupid fucking high school and stupid fucking dance and stupid fucking homecoming, Craig is in no mood to party. He’s in a mood to smoke a hundred cigarettes and sleep for fourteen hours, to taste the burn of liquor in his throat for weeks and break his dad’s shit just as a little taste of payback. 

 

In his head, Craig curses Kenny. He can’t help but feel like this is his fault. He was the one who provoked Tweek —somehow. He was the one with the drugs and the wicked tongue and the knowledge no one but Craig and Stan should be holding. He fucking did this. 

 

Have fun with Stan. 

 

There isn’t a bone on Craig’s body that wants to have fun with Stan. What he wants is to bum liquor off of Clyde and hold Tweek’s hand, maybe ask him for a dance and maybe go back to his house once they get bored. In Craig’s head, they’d smoke weed in his bedroom, surrounded by darkness and whispering secrets. Maybe they’d lay in Tweek’s bed, stoned to the bone with twin grins spread across their faces, Craig’s arm snug tight around Tweek’s shoulders. Stan only brings trouble. Stupid, sexy trouble that’s only any good at making Craig feel gross about himself. At least Tweek sparks joy, illuminates him with refreshing excitement. Or, he would, had he not called Craig a fucking queer to his face. He wonders if the week they’ve spent building this bond was for nothing, if that one, stupid little word is going to tear everything between them to the ground. 

 

“Oh, God.” Craig groans as he approaches a dark figure slumped on the sidewalk. “Not you.” 

 

It really is just Craig’s luck to stumble upon the absolute last person he wanted to see. Stan is huddled in layers, a brown parka over his green Park County Cows jersey. He’s wearing red gloves and a red beanie. Clutched in his hand is a large glass bottle, the label hidden by a brown paper bag. He grins when he sees Craig approach, lifting his arm to offer a wave. He tips the bottle back, taking several large swigs like its water. 

 

“Hey, dude.” Stan greets. He’s grinning like a moron. “Catch the game?” 

 

Craig crosses his arms over his chest, a sour expression written on his face.”I hate you so fucking much.” 

 

Pfft, ” Stan says, rolling his eyes. “Lighten up, dude, I won. Sit down and have a drink.” He pats the pavement next to him, looking up at Craig with a dopey grin. 

 

“I’m pretty sure they breathalyze you before you go inside.” Craig says, as if he hadn’t just chugged a bunch of Kenny’s fizzy, mystery alcohol. Stan laughs, jabbing his thumb in the direction of the school. 

 

“I’m not fucking - hic-“ following Stan’s hiccup is a loud burp. He pounds his chest with his fist, clearing his throat awkwardly. “ Woof, that tasted like vomit. I’m not going in there, dances are lame.” 

 

Craig can’t help the ghost of a grin twitching at the corners of his lips. If nothing else, he can take comfort in knowing he agrees with Stan on something. The offer of alcohol is tempting, and Stan seems so happy sitting in the dark, getting drunk by himself. Fuck it, Craig thinks, taking the bottle from Stan’s grasp. Tweek is gone and the last thing Craig wants is to attend the stupid dance without him. With Stan so stupidly drunk, maybe Craig could actually get something out of this. A shiver runs through him as bitter liquid coats his tongue, tensing his muscles and making his skin break out in goosebumps. His stomach feels like a fire pit. He plops his ass on the pavement, setting the bottle down in front of himself. 

 

“You won.” Craig says. Something about that feels absurd. Stan certainly isn’t the sole member of the football team. But the way his face brightens leaves Craig tempted to indulge him. He pumps his fist in the air like he’s on fucking Jersey Shore. 

 

“Fuck yeah I did.” Stan sways slightly, leaning into Craig to throw an arm around his shoulders. His voice drops to a whisper. “My girlfriend is gonna be pissed when I don’t show at the dance. We’re supposed to win homecoming court.” 

 

Craig scoffs. “I’m kinda pissed at you, too.” 

 

Stan takes another swig from his bottle. “Why?” He asks, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “Because you hate me?” 

 

“I think you’re the root of all my problems.” Craig replies. Stan laughs, removing his arm from around Craig’s shoulders to clutch at his stomach. The infectious laughter has Craig cracking a grin. 

 

“That’s so funny. I’m the root of all my problems, too.” He says. His eyeline redirects toward the sky, staring at the stars with a soft grin. “I think I should probably kill myself.” 

 

Craig raises his brows, but offers no other response. They sit in silence for a moment, drowning in the weight of Stan’s words. 

 

“...That was a joke, by the way.” He says. Craig hums, not entirely convinced. 

 

“I think that’s some sort of literary irony.” He says. Stan snorts next to him. “Captain of the football team offs himself after winning the big game. It’s, like, dramatic or something.” 

 

“I don’t know what the fuck dramatic irony is,” Stan says, taking another swig from his bottle. His eyes are starting to look glassy. He hiccups again, followed by a loud burp. “But that just sounds like a motherfucking tragedy.” 

 

Craig snorts. “How tragic could it be if it solves both of our problems?” He asks, wrapping his fingers around the neck of Stan’s bottle. Their hands touch, feather light and sparked with electricity. He takes a swig, gulping down as much alcohol as he can before he gags. 

 

“You and your stupid friends ruin everything.” Craig says, hunching forward. His words are starting to slur together. “I had a date tonight. He dipped because of you.” 

 

Stan laughs, gaze still directed toward the sky. The stars are bright tonight, twinkling like diamonds against the dark. “I guess neither of us can have who we want. That’s why we’re stuck with each other.”

 

“That’s depressing.” Craig mutters, not bothering to point out the fact that not only does Stan have a girlfriend, but could easily land whoever he set his sights on. Stan snorts, playing idly with the lip of the bottle. 

 

“Welcome to my whole fucking life, dude.” He says. He sighs heavily, staring down at the bottle with a faltered grin. He stands, turning to Craig and offering his hand. “You wanna blow this shit show?” 

 

Craig stares at his outstretched palm, clad in red wool. He grasps it, hoisting himself to his feet. “Is that a euphemism for something?” He blurts. Craig’s not sure if he’s actually trying something, but he’s drunk and lonely and wishing his stupid date had gone better. 

 

Stan grins, shrugging his shoulders. He hasn’t dropped Craig’s hand, instead squeezing it slightly. “Not intentionally, but I am kind of a shitshow.” 

 

Craig can’t help the laugh that bubbles up from his chest, belting out of him without permission. He squeezes Stan’s hand, taking a step closer and feeling pride fill his ego when Stan has to tilt his chin up to look in his eyes. The smile that graces his face is bright. For the first time, Craig thinks he’s seeing Stan as human, broken open with his soul exposed. Something about it intimidates him. 

 

“You know,” Craig says, flicking his gaze from their palms pressed together to Stan’s eyes. “You’re kind of charming when you’ve given up.” 

 

“Does that mean you’ll blow me?” Stan asks, brows raised. His expression is reminiscent of a golden retriever, hyper and excitable. Craig blows out a long breath before his face betrays him, splitting into a grin. 

 

“Sure,” he agrees, although he wishes this were with anyone but Stan. “I’ll blow you, shitshow.” 

 

Craig nearly falls on his fucking face when he tries to walk. Luckily, Stan is like a pillar, even in his drunken, fumbling state. He hangs onto Stan’s arm, allowing himself to be led wherever. The parking lot is deserted, students busy inside the dance, or getting up to god knows what around the school. Craig supposes he’s also one of those teenagers getting up to God knows what, somewhere within the means of the school. Although he has no clue where he is or where he’s being led. 

 

When they arrive in front of a small white Toyota, Craig feels dumbstruck, staring at it like he’s never seen a car before. They’re a good few hundred yards away from the school, maybe a block from the city bus stop. The nearest car in sight has to be hundreds of feet away. Stan squeezes his hand. 

 

“Is this… your car?” He asks. Stan opens the back door, gesturing inside. Craig blinks. “I won’t fucking fit in there.” 

 

Craig is not given much more opportunity to protest, as suddenly Stan’s hand his placed over the center of his back, pushing him into the back of the car with force. In his drunken clumsiness, Craig stumbles, flailing awkwardly as he bellyflops onto the stretch of backseat. He squirms, trying to flip himself over onto his back. Once he’s managed to squish himself into the car, his head propped up against the window and legs bent at the knee, he’s greeted with the sight of Stan crawling over him, closing the door behind him. 

 

“You fit just fine.” He says, his smile bright. That seems like a stretch, what with the awkward ways Craig’s legs are compacted in. He’s certain that if he sat up any further, he’d bump his head on the ceiling. How Stan has managed to cram the both of them into this tight space, Craig has no fucking clue. He hums, cupping Stan’s face in his hands. 

 

“How am I gonna-“ Craig’s cut off by the feeling of Stan’s lips capturing his. As always, Stan’s lips are soft, full, he kisses with just the right amount of pressure. 

 

“What, wanna just get right to it?” Stan asks, hands having already flown to his belt buckle. Craig swallows thickly, eyes focused on the movement of Stan’s hands. 

 

“Yeah.” He says, voice wistful. Stan grins, lopsided and cute, giving him that sweet, boy-next-door charm. Craig feels himself melt. When their lips meet again, it’s open-mouthed and messy, a string of drool dribbling from the corner of Craig’s mouth. He wraps his arms around Stan’s neck, pulling him close and craving the weight of his body pressed against his. Stan groans against his lips, fingers digging into his waist. At some point, Craig’s shirt had rode up, leaving a slight strip of pale skin exposed. Stan’s hands find this instantly, warm skin against warm skin. It makes Craig moan pitifully, arching his back and bucking his hips out of sheer instinct. 

 

Had he been asked a month and a half ago, Craig would not have been able to guess that the feeling of Stan’s lips and body pressed against him would be so familiar. Never would he have assumed this would’ve happened once, much less several times. When Stan’s hands pop open the button of his jeans, Craig gasps, wiggling his hips in an attempt to remove the rough fabric. He whines as Stan’s hand cups him through his boxers, fondling his dick through the thin material. Craig’s leg twitches, back arched. He feels like he’s running a hundred and ten degrees, the cold Colorado October forgotten in the heat of his bliss. 

 

The feeling cannot compare to that of Stan actually touching his dick, rough palm wrapped around it and stroking almost timidly. Craig is not fully hard, but if Stan added just a little more pressure, gave him just a slightly smoother glide- 

 

“Fuck, yes, ” Craig moans, throwing his head back. His arms fall uselessly to his sides, one pressed firm against the car window and the other hanging limp off the edge of the seat. He twitches, gasps, squirms in place. Each and every movement or little noise that escapes him has Stan’s breathing pick up, his eyes ignited with burning desire. When he removes his hand, Craig whines loudly. 

 

“Chill, dude.” Stan says. He sits back on his heels, pushing his jeans down his hips. Craig licks his lips when he’s greeted with the sight of Stan’s dick. The smile on his face is cocky. If Craig weren’t currently squirming for Stan’s touch, he would’ve been tempted to hit him. 

 

Stan climbs over him again, grinding his hips down. The lengths of their cocks slide against each other, making Craig gasp and clutch at the seat below him. 

 

“Hey,” Stan says. He’s propped up on his elbows, head bowed and lips ghosting over the shell of a Craig’s ear. His breath is warm. “Can I try something?” 

 

Craig stares up at him, confusion spread across his face. “What?” He asks. His voice sounds foreign to his own ears, so pathetic and soft. Stan grins. 

 

A gasp of surprise erupts from Craig’s throat. The mix between the friction on his dick, hot and heavy and delicious, and the feeling of Stan’s hand wrapped around his throat, constricting his airflow, has him seeing stars. 

 

“This.” Stan says low, his hot breath on Craig’s skin. 

 

“Fuck,” Craig breathes out, hips stuttering slightly. He’s not sure how to express to Stan that he’s tried this before, the first time they did this, and Stan didn’t have the decency to ask that time. And just like that first time, the constriction on his air flow is fucking euphoric, leaving his head spinning and stomach jittering with butterflies. 

 

“I don’t think you can suck my cock in here.” Stan says. Craig is barely listening, too preoccupied with the growing pressure building in the pit of his stomach, running through him in waves of shaking heat. “It sucks, I think about your tongue all the fucking time.”

 

Craig smiles, eyes fluttered closed and totally blissed out. He pokes his tongue out, showing off the silver bulb. Stan squeezes the sides of neck just a little tighter, forcing out a struggled moan. 

 

“Yeah, there it is.” He says. His voice is so deep it’s going to make Craig’s head spin. The hand around Craig’s throat loosens, allowing him more freedom to breathe. He clutches at Stan’s back, bucking his hips erratically, desperate for release. The crook of Stan’s neck is in perfect distance for Craig to bury his face in, nipping lightly at the exposed stretch of skin there. Stan shutters, hips twitching slightly before aggressively grinding down. For a brief moment, Craig wonders if they’re no better than animals. Desperation and primal need fill them, intoxicating their air with the stench of sweat and sex. 

 

Without warning, Craig’s body spasms, familiar waves of pleasure washing over him. His body feels hot and electric, back arched and hips twitching, continuing their search for friction as this feeling lingers. It calms as quickly as it starts, leaving him wiped out and panting like a dog. There’s a stickiness splayed across his stomach. He’s certain the hem of his t-shirt is drenched in his shame. 

 

Above him, Stan is jerking his dick, his gaze locked on Craig’s face. It makes his cheeks erupt in flames, the look in Stan’s eyes nothing short of animalistic. The desire radiating off of him is palpable. Forevermore will Craig remember the look that spreads across Stan’s face when his cums, jacking his dick in the backseat of his car to a greasy, lanky, entirely unimpressive eighteen-year-old boy. The God of Park County high school himself, the star quarterback, the hottest fucking thing Craig has ever laid eyes on, came to him. On him, right on his exposed expanse of skin already splotched with semen. 

 

When it’s over and after the sounds of their harsh panting has grown deafening, Craig laughs. He really can’t help it, he’s so overcome with dopamine and afterglow, his body is practically gushing with joy. Apparently, his laughter is infectious, because Stan joins him, bowing his head to nuzzle into the crook of Craig’s neck. 

 

Even amidst alcoholic haze, Craig isn’t dumb enough to think anything romantic could ever take place between Stan and himself. That’s not what either of them want, not in their cards for the future. But in this moment, high on dopamine and rushed with tingling memories of pleasure, with Stan’s body weighed on top of his and his face buried in Craig’s neck, images of them starting the car and running away together flash across Craig’s brain. If he were to actually run away with anyone, it would be Tweek. Craig knows that, can feel it through his core, but the weight of Tweek’s reactions still press heavy on his chest. Any chances he’d once thought he had to have Tweek, truly have him, has been entirely snuffed out in Craig’s mind. Stan is here, holding him like he’s the last thing on Earth. Stan is the only other person Craig knows with nothing left. 

 

“You’re so weird.” Craig mutters. He doesn’t mean it as an insult, but he also doesn’t mean to direct it towards Stan. With his eyes fluttered closed, the only images his head can conjure are blonde and green-eyed. Stan doesn’t respond, outside of a soft chuckle and further nuzzling his face into Craig’s skin. 

 

He sighs, running his fingers through the strands of Stan’s hair. It’s soft, like Tweek’s, but not as thick and wild. Their options, in terms of cleaning themselves up, are limited. A really gross part of Craig doesn’t want to clean up yet. He’s afraid that the second Stan’s mess of fluids have been wiped away from his skin, so will this from their memories. Craig is realizing that he’s getting pretty sick and tired of forgetting these things between them ever happened. They can’t keep doing that. Not when Craig still has the dirty texts saved on his phone. Not when he’s still got Stan’s cum drying on his skin. 

 

“You can leave whenever.” Stan says, breaking away from Craig’s grasp to push himself into a sitting position. Instantly, Craig is snapped out of his horny delirium, any dreams of the two of them running away together immediately smushed out. “I was gonna go home. I’m pretty tired, so-“

 

“You’re trying to get rid of me?” Craig asks, jaw dropped. Instead of answering, Stan leans past Craig to open the door. He gestures to the outside, making Craig scowl. “Are you fucking kidding?” 

 

It’s like all of a sudden, any of the pathetic, sexy charm Stan once held has dispersed. Craig takes it back; he has no need to ever acknowledge this happened again, nor does he ever need to so much as speak another word to Stan. He tumbles out of the car, stumbling on alcohol and shaky, sealegs. He slams the door closed, flipping Stan off over his shoulder. 

 

“Fuck you, asshole!” He yells, storming away from Stan and that stupid white car as quickly as his legs will allow. He makes it just far enough so Stan’s car is out of sight, caught on the far end of the school with nothing surrounding him aside from lampposts and heavy, metal trash cans. In his rage, he lands a swift kick to one, the clang ringing across the empty night. 

 

Fuck! ” He shouts. 

 

“Craig?” Calls an eerily familiar voice in the distance. Craig freezes, snapping his head in that direction. Two shadowy figures are approaching from across the parking lot, weaving between cars. They’re tall, one distinctly female and the other distinctly male, and balding at that. That voice, that shrill, female voice, Craig knows it. As a matter of fact, he’s been familiar with that voice for eighteen fucking years. 

 

“Shit.” He swears, eyes wide with petrified realization. 

 

“Oh, that’s fucking him, alright.” Says the male voice. The figures are still difficult to make out in the darkness, their voices nothing but a terrifying echo across the parking lot. “I can smell a defiant little shit from a mile away.” 

 

You!” His mother shouts, her face suddenly coming to view. She has her hand thrust out, pointing at Craig with shaking fingers. “Craig Tucker, you are in for an asswhooping.” 

 

“Uh,” Craig says, unable to find his voice. 

 

“Where the fuck have you been?” His father demands. 

 

“Do you have any idea the kind of worry you put us through?” His mother asks, the rage in his eyes softened by maternal concern. It somehow manages to make Craig feel both incredibly guilty and positively quaking with anger. 

 

“Do you have anything to say for yourself, shithead?” He dad asks. Both of them are staring at him expectantly, hands planted firmly on their hips. His mother is tapping her foot impatiently. Craig glances between the two of them, dumbstruck. 

 

“What are you-“ what happens next is the most defiant thing Craig’s body has ever done to him. He hiccups. He fucking hiccups , loud and obnoxious and forcing a bubble of gas to escape his throat. It tastes like bile. “...doing here?” 

 

His parents look at each other, expressions lifted in surprise before quickly morphing to anger. “Are you drunk?” His mother asks. 

 

“No.” Craig lies. 

 

“At school? ” His father exclaims, outraged. 

 

No .” 

 

“Fucking liar. I can see it in your eyes.” His mother says, making heat flare in Craig’s cheeks. 

 

Shit. 

 

His father is studying him, a disgusted sneer morphed in his face. Whatever he’s looking at, fixated below Craig’s face, he is certainly not impressed with. 

 

Oh, shit

 

“What the fuck is on your shirt?” He asks. 

 

Shit, shit! 

 

“It’s, uh,” Craig starts, growing so hot under his clothes he can feel the alcohol sweating itself out. His mother studies him, as well, following his dad’s gaze. She squints her eyes, peering at him intensely. 

 

Fuck, shit, motherfucking shit!

 

“It’s semen.” She says, entirely unimpressed. She flicks her eyes up to meet Craig’s. “You have semen on your clothes.” 

 

Craig can’t help it. He laughs, tilting his head back and staring at the sky. He hopes all his friends will know that when he dies tonight, it’ll be at the hands of Thomas and Laura Tucker. 

 

“Mother fucker .” 

 

Chapter Text

Stan gives himself a good half an hour to sober up before he drives home. He doesn’t believe he’s too intoxicated to be behind the wheel, regardless of the fact that he consumed enough alcohol to kill a child. Deluded by vodka and dopamine, he gets behind the wheel, risking the twenty minute drive back to dad’s house. Luckily for Stan, the roads are pretty clear. There’s not another car insight to collide with when he swerves or a pedestrian to hit when he goes eighty in a thirty-five. God must be blessing him tonight, with a win and a safe trip home. He hits the curb when he parks. Dad is sitting on the porch when he stumbles up, the pungent stink of marijuana filling the air around him. His bong is in his lap. 

 

“Hey kiddo.” He says, eyes glossy and red rimmed. He seems incapable of opening them completely, which makes Stan giggle. “How'd the game go?” 

 

“You didn’t go?” Stan asks, face falling. Dad has missed football games before. Stan doesn’t expect him to make all of them, but this one was kind of a big deal. This was Stan’s final homecoming game, ever. His last hurrah, the first big game of the last season of his life. He thought dad would’ve at least cared enough to make an appearance. He always used to get so excited at football games.

 

“Nah, I had important business to attend to.” Dad says, holding up his bong with a lazy grin on his face. Of course. Of fucking course the weed came first. It always fucking does. 

 

“Well, I won.” Stan says. His dad’s face lights up. He punches Stan lightly on the shoulder. 

 

“Good job, kid!” He holds the bong out to Stan. “Wanna celebrate?” 

 

Stan stares at it for a moment, his brain feeling fuzzy. He wraps his hand around the neck, taking the glass piece from dad’s hands. “Yeah, you got a lighter?” 

 

“Course I got a lighter.” Dad says, tossing a dark blue bic lighter in Stan’s direction. “Hey, it’s your favorite color!” 

 

Stan stares at it, thinking about blue cigarette boxes and blue tennis shoes and blue jackets stained with cum. He shivers. “My favorite color is green, dad.” He says. Dad’s face falls. 

 

“Oh,” he says. “When did it stop being blue?” 

 

“It’s never been blue.” Stan answers, flicking the lighter to life. Stan’s never hit a bong before, but he’s watched dad and Kenny and Kyle do it enough times to figure it out. He takes a bigger rip than he’d intended, hacking up a lung when he pulls the bong away from his face. A dribble of drool falls from his mouth, splattering on the porch below his feet. He blinks, eyes bleary and itchy. 

 

“Atta boy!” Dad cheers, pounding him on the back. Stan laughs. If he thought his head felt fuzzy before, it’s like tv static now, blank and drifting on another dimension. 

 

“Fuck,” Stan mutters under his breath. “I’m wiped. I’m gonna go to bed.” 

 

“Good night, kiddo.” Dad says. “I’m proud of you!” 

 

The walk upstairs to Stan’s room takes both a million years and no time at all. Everything around Stan is hazy and slow, like he’s moving through gelatin. Static lines his vision, buzzing over his eyes like film. Once he reaches his bed, he falls face first into the mattress, not bothering to discard his winter layers. The second his head hits the pillows, he’s out like a light, drifting peacefully to sleep. 

 

His dreams are weird. It starts in a dark room, a single beam of light coming from the sky and illuminating a circle of ground. It looks like concrete, gray and uneven, littered with awkward splotches of discoloration. Stan heads toward it, body slow like he’s moving through jello. The more steps he takes forward, the further away the light seems to become, until it’s simply a blip in the horizon. 

 

“Hey, dude!” Booms a voice around him, thundering like the forces of heaven. It rattles through his bones, hands flying to his ears as he falls to his knees. The world around him starts shaking, the ground vibrating under his knees. Stan squeezes his eyes shut. 

 

“Stan!” The voice is normal this time, the shaking having halted. When Stan opens his eyes, he’s sitting under the bleachers on the football field, Kenny sitting across from him. He grins, crooked and showing off the gap in his teeth. His left eye is bruising. A massive stain of blood is spread across the abdomen of his t-shirt. 

 

“Oh my God, dude!” Stan exclaims, scrambling backwards. Confusion passes over Kenny’s face. He follows Stan’s gaze, grin faltering. 

 

“I did something bad, dude.” Kenny says. 

 

“Fuck, you can say that again.” Stan replies. He can’t take his eyes off the blood. 

 

“Huh? No, not that.” Kenny says, gesturing to the massive splotch of blood coating his stomach. “Don’t worry about this, man. You won! enjoy your victory while you can.” Kenny crosses his arms over his stomach, cringing slightly. When Stan’s eyes flick up to Kenny’s face, it’s breaking, eyes growing and shrinking with the pattern of Stan’s breath. It reminds him of mushrooms, but much scarier. 

 

“What do you mean, ‘ while I can ?’” He asks. Kenny smiles grimly. 

 

“I told you, dude. I did something bad.” 

 

When Stan startles awake, he has no fucking clue who or where he is, any thoughts of Kenny and his warnings drifting from his memory. His head still feels light, eyes heavy and crusted with gunk. It’s still dark out, soft beams of moonlight peaking through his blinds. He pats himself down, searching for his phone. It’s resting in his front pants pocket still, the glow from his screen bright enough to a blind a motherfucker. He blinks, giving his eyes a moment to adjust. A wall of notifications line his lock screen, including several missed calls and texts from Wendy. Stan groans, clearing them. He doesn’t have the balls to face her right now, not after dipping out on her at the dance. Not after the events that took place in his car. The time reads a quarter till midnight, meaning Stan was only asleep for a few hours. His head doesn’t hurt, but it feels really weird, woozy, like his brain is swaying. The static is on full force. 

 

As far as Stan’s aware, the only liquor currently stored in the house is a bottle of fireball whiskey and a case of cheap red wine, which is for his mom. It’s one of those desperate attempts dad’s having to charm her back, which hasn’t worked since Stan was thirteen. The mere thought of fireball makes bile rise in Stan’s throat. When he was fourteen, he got so sick off Fireball whiskey the drink was permanently ruined for him. The dance would’ve ended an hour ago, which means there’s a party at Token’s; that’s free fucking booze. 

 

He pushes himself out of bed, a newfound energy engaged in his body. Standing throws his head off balance, and his stomach still feels warm, but that nap did wonders to sober him up. If he could drive before, he certainly can now. When he descends the stairs, keys in hand, he’s greeted with the sight of dad watching TV on the couch. 

 

“I’m heading out again. There’s a party I wanna go to.” Stan says. Dad turns to look at him. 

 

“Okay.” He says. “Are you good to drive? You were out cold for a while there.” 

 

“Yeah, I’m good.” Stan says, confidently. “That nap sobered me up. It was just a little pot.” 

 

“Cool.” Dad says. “Don’t wake me when you get home, and if the cops show up, call your uncle Jimbo.” 

 

“Got it.” Stan gives him a thumbs up, already halfway out the door. 

 

“I love you, kid!” 

 

“Yeah, bye dad.” 

 

Just around the time Stan’s pulling up to Token’s is when he feels a headache coming on. He’s parked about a block or so down the road, which is lined with cars. In the distance stands Token’s house, massive and flashing with colorful lights. As he breeches the front yard, he can practically feel the bass under his feet. The house is booming, drunk teenagers raging on inside, with a few stragglers standing around in the grass, smoking cigarettes or joints. Stan doesn’t pay them much mind, determined to get his hands on a drink as soon as he possibly can. 

 

The living room is cramped and pulsing with music. Bodies jive together, sloppy and paying no mind to the boy trying to weave his way through. Before Stan can make it to the kitchen, he stumbles upon Cartman and Butters. The malicious grin curled on Cartman’s face has Stan feeling uneasy. Butters is trying, and failing, to hide his laughter behind his hands. Both of their eyes are fixated on Stan. 

 

“Stan! What a pleasant surprise.” Cartman says. The grin on his face reeks of evil, malicious intent oozing from his pores. It runs chills up Stan’s spine. Butters sputters, doubling over in laughter. His face is flushed red. 

 

“Uh,” Stan says, eyes bouncing back and forth between them. “What?” 

 

Butters’s laughter is obnoxious. Regardless of how much he tries to hide it behind his hands, Stan hears it loud and fucking clear. The expression on Cartman’s face makes Stan’s heart drop to the pit of his stomach. “I owe you an apology, Stan. Sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry. All those gay jokes I’ve made at your expense have been uncalled for and derogatory.” 

 

Butters gives up on his charade of trying to conceal his laughter. He barks out a laugh, doubling over. Stan looks between the two of them, feeling frozen in his spot. “The hell are you talking about, Cartman?” 

 

Cartman opens his mouth to speak, but before he can get a word in, Butters blurts, “You’re a fucking fag!” And starts laughing again. 

 

A nervous bubble of laughter erupts from Stan’s throat. He throws his hands up. “Yeah, real funny guys, I’m super gay for Kyle, or whatever.” He says. 

 

“See, that’s what I thought , too.” Cartman replies. “But apparently I was wrong. It’s come to my attention that you’ve been trading handies with Craig Tucker.”

 

The world around Stan encloses. Dark fields line the corners of his view. Cartman’s face is starting to grow fuzzy, the sounds of Butters’s high pitched giggles muffled like they’re underwater. His chest feels tight. He can’t fucking breath. 

 

“What are you talking about, Cartman?” His voice sounds wobbly, far away even to his own ears. He tries for laughter again, this time more nervous and pathetic sounding. “Where did you hear that?” 

 

Cartman presses his lips together, putting his hands behind his back and rocking on the balls of his feet. Out of desperation, Stan looks to Butters, praying he’d be willing to give him some sort of clarity. Butters simply shakes his head curling his lips inward. 

 

“Dude, seriously.” Stan says, regaining some of his strength. Cartman shakes his head, running his fingers along the lines of his lips like he’s zipping them up.  

 

“Cartman!” Stan demands, louder than he had intended. It draws the attention of a few of their surrounding peers, making Stan’s cheeks flare. Cartman holds his hands up in surrender. 

 

“A little birdie told me, okay?” He says. Stan stares at him, unimpressed. He turns to Butters. 

 

“Tell me where the fuck you heard that, or I’ll break your arm.” He threatens. Butters’s face falls, the color draining from his cheeks. He swallows thickly. 

 

“T-that seems pretty extreme Stan, geez,” he laughs awkwardly. “I mean, it’s just a dumb rumor.” Stan moves toward him, making Butters instantly cower, curling in on himself and blocking his face behind his arms. “Eric! It was Eric!” 

 

“Butters, you pussy!” Cartman whines. 

 

Stan wraps his fingers around Butter’s wrist, tugging him forward. He squeezes tight, in no attempt to be gentle. 

 

“Ow, ow , that hurts, Stan!” Butters whines. Stan scoffs, rolling his eyes. 

 

“Don’t fuck around with me, Butters. Where did Cartman hear that bullshit?” He demands. Butters whines, trying to wiggle out of Stan’s grasp. 

 

“Butters, I swear to God-“ Cartman starts. Stan twists Butters wrist, a sickening pop excreting from his joints. Butters gasps, his body tensing under Stan’s touch. 

 

“Wendy! He heard it from Wendy, now please, please let go of me!” He whines. 

 

Stan feels instantly numb, his ears ringing. He can’t see two feet in front of his face, his mind preoccupied with the heavy static buzzing through. “Wendy,” he whispers. 

 

“Yeah, but I think she heard it from-“ Butters starts. 

 

“She’s here?” Stan interrupts. He drops his hold on Butters’s arm, making him yelp and draw it back instantly. He rubs at it, holding it close to his chest. 

 

“She sure is, but I don’t really think she wants to see you, Stan. She’s awfully sore with you.” Butters says, the color drained from his cheeks. His forehead is shining under the colorful party lights, damp with perspiration. It’s like he believes Stan would actually break his arm. Cartman’s right, he’s such a fucking pussy. 

 

“Get the fuck out of my way.” Stan says, shouldering his way past. Too many thoughts jitter through his head, running at a hundred miles an hour. The house is crammed with bodies, difficult to maneuver and creating tension in Stan’s shoulders. He doesn’t have the slightest clue how Wendy found out, or how much she knows, but if whatever information she's holding angered her enough to notify Cartman, she’s surely told others. Words spread like wildfire, especially at parties. 

 

All the eyes surrounding him are starting to psych Stan out. He’s panicked with a headache coming on, his hands shaking bad. The pit of his stomach feels like a rock. Bile rises in his throat. Stan’s first stop in searching the house is the kitchen. If he’s lucky, it’ll be empty. If he’s even luckier, he’ll stumble across a drink before he stumbles upon Wendy. Nothing requires liquid courage like the anxiety currently consuming his soul. 

 

A six pack of beer is sitting out on the counter when Stan makes it to the kitchen. There are a few people hanging around, Stan pays them no mind as he heads for his conquest, popping the can open and chugging as much down as he can. Beer can crushed in his hand and carbonation settling in his throat, Stan’s eyes zero in on the bottle of tequila sitting just across from him. He doesn’t need much, just a shot or two to give him the strength to face his girlfriend. Two shots and a beer, that’ll fix this fear overtaking his body. 

 

With a red solo cup in his hand, Stan wanders out of the kitchen, keeping his eyes peeled for Wendy. He gazes through the sliding glass door that leads into the backyard, the pool filled with teenagers, the grass covered in party litter. He thinks he might spot Kenny over in the distance, which runs a chill down Stan’s spine for reasons he can’t quite pinpoint. But it’s hard to tell. All he can make out is a flash of orange. 

 

Stan’s next stop is the basement, where he knows there’s a fully stocked bar. The living room and the basement are prime spots for people to congregate, filled with the most music and life. If Wendy is having fun anywhere, it’ll be in one of those two spots. A heavy haze of smoke hangs over the basement air, reeking of pot and teenage hormones. The descent from the stairs is like a walk through skunk-scented fog. At the bottom of the steps is a throng of bodies, sitting on couches or swaying to the soft, psychedelic music playing. Stan scans the masses, trying to make out thick dark hair and pretty doe eyes. Features are hard to spot from so far away. Stan huffs, taking a large drink from his cup. 

 

This room is filled with a lot of unrecognizable faces. Between the bodies and the clouds of smoke, Stan can hardly see a thing. He’s thrown off when someone collides into him, a few inches shorter than Stan and spastic like a canonball. A hearty oof escapes Stan, clutching at his stomach and stumbling backwards. The person he collided with doesn't seem to notice the mishap, his back still turned toward Stan as his head snaps every which way. He turns, wild green eyes faltering as they land on Stan.  

 

No, ” Tweek whines. He squeezes his eyes shut, groaning loudly. His fingers thread through his hair, tugging at the strands. 

 

“Uh,” Stan stammers. “Hi? You kinda bumped into me there.” 

 

Tweek huffs. His pupils are blown wide and he seems twitchy, more so than normal. His jaw is jittering rapidly, like he’s cold, which is impossible. This room has to be seventy-five degrees, at least. Stan wonders if he’s been visiting Kenny in the bathroom, or if Kyle’s right and he really does smoke crack. “Where’s Craig?” He demands. Stan cringes, that name like an alarm in his brain. He shrugs, pathetically. 

 

“How should I know?” He offers. Tweek studies him, the sheer size of his eyes enough to make Stan squirm.  

 

“He was supposed to be here.” Tweek says. He’s staring at the floor, big eyes hyper focused on a spot below his feet. He scowls. “I thought he might’ve been with you.” 

 

I had a date tonight , whispers Craig’s voice in the back of Stan’s mind. He tries to recall Craig’s birthday and the mushrooms, the way Tweek had lumped onto Craig like a cancer tumor. Realization strikes him, clearing the fog in his mind. He bailed because of you

 

Stan feels nauseous, the alcohol in his stomach curdling. The mix of bodies and smoke clouds and Tweek’s eyes are making him hot under his clothes. He pulls at the collar of his shirt, swallowing thickly. His eyes drift toward the crowd, still on the scan for Wendy. A mean part of his brain wonders if Craig found her first. 

 

“I haven’t seen him since after the game.” He says, which is the truth. Ever since he kicked Craig out of his car, Stan hasn’t heard a word from him. He was pretty pissed when he left, which Stan didn’t initially think much of. There hasn’t been a time Stan can recall when Craig didn’t seem pissed off. Now, however, the image of him running inside the dance to track down Wendy and spill out all that fucking rage plagues Stan’s mind. Tweek doesn’t respond verbally, only allowing a shrill, frustrated noise to escape him. Stan cringes. 

 

“Dude, calm down.” He says. He’s tempted to call Tweek a freak to his face, but Stan has a feeling that wouldn’t end well. He’s watched Tweek get in fights with guys bigger than Stan and come out victorious. When he snaps, he’s like a wild animal. Stan would prefer not to be on the receiving end of that. 

 

“Fuck you!” Tweek practically shouts. He growls, threading his fingers through his hair. He stomps his foot, jaw trembling. “I don’t have time for this!” He exclaims, throwing his hands in the air. “There’s ghosts in here! I need to find Craig.” 

 

He scurries past Stan, leaving him dumbfounded and confused. Downing the rest of his drink, Stan throws the red solo cup to the ground and sweeps the room one more time. He takes a lap around the perimeter, eyes traveling over the crowd. There isn’t a single pretty, dark-haired girl in sight. None that are Wendy, anyway. For a brief moment, Stan thinks he can see Kenny way in the back corner of the room, nursing a bong in his lap. It’s not Kenny, just another blonde boy in an orange coat. 

 

With the basement being a bust, Stan feels pretty shit out of luck. This house is huge, he wouldn’t have the slightest clue where to begin looking from here. Not unless he wants to start knocking on bathroom doors and interrupting couples trying to hook up. He decides to pass through the kitchen again, grabbing another beer. It feels good going down, carbonation coating his throat and warmth consuming his stomach. The tension in his muscles subsides, leaving him loose and calm. 

 

Swaying slightly on his feet, Stan heads back toward the living room, on a mission toward the grand staircase. He feels lightheaded and slightly dizzy. A hiccup convulses his chest, rising up with a subtle taste of bile. The flashing party lights are going to throw him off balance. He squints, trying to peer through the crowd. About ten feet away, standing next to the staircase railing, he swears he can spot a red pleated skirt and a curtain of blonde curls. 

 

“Bebe!” Stan calls. The figure doesn’t move, doesn’t do anything to acknowledge Stan’s call. With the volume of the music, Stan can’t blame her. He can barely hear himself think. He starts to push through the crowd, not even bothering to offer an excuse me as he shoves away the bodies. 

 

“Hey!” Shouts a male voice, not far from Stan’s ear. At first, Stan’s brain doesn’t register that the voice is addressing him, too focused on getting to the person he assumes is Bebe. If anyone would know where Wendy is, it’d be her. “Hey, I’m fucking talking to you.” The voice says again, grasping Stan’s shoulder and pulling him back. 

 

In his surprise, Stan’s body goes pliant, allowing himself to be manhandled. He almost trips over his own two feet. “Dude, what?” He snaps, whipping his head around to face this jackass. 

 

He’s greeted with the sight of Jason White, looking incredibly pissed off. There’s a red solo cup in his hand, dripping down the sides. He’s still wearing his Park County Cows jersey, his chest decorated number forty-two with pride and now stained with a nasty red splotch. Stan winces. 

 

“You made me spill my drink, faggot.” Jason says, pushing at Stan’s chest. His force is firm, making Stan stumble again. His expression darkens. 

 

“What did you just call me?” Stan asks. Jason takes a step toward him, a nasty grin on his face. 

 

“I called you a filthy,” he pauses, poking his finger into Stan’s chest. “Fucking,” he pushes, hard. Stan holds his ground, regardless of how much it makes his abdomen tense. “Faggot.” 

 

Out of pure, blind rage, Stan pulls his fist back and releases with all the force he can muster. He manages to strike Jason in the side of the cheek, forcing his head to turn. Before Jason has the opportunity to react, Stan’s swigging again, landing his fist firmly into Jason’s stomach. It’s soft and squishy. By no means built to withstand the force of a drunken, pissed off quarterback. 

 

“How’s that for a filthy fucking fag!” Stan taunts. Jason wheezes, rage set deep in his eyes as he manages to direct his gaze to Stan. By now, people have started to notice them, pausing their partying in favor of watching the two stupid football players duke it out. Jason runs at him, knocking the both of them to the ground. 

 

Stan gasps for breath as he hits the floor, the weight of Jason’s body suffocating. He sees Jason pull his fist back, bracing himself for impact. The fist lands against his mouth, shaking Stan’s teeth and forcing shivers through his jaw. He wraps an arm around Jason’s shoulders, flipping them over. With his knees, he traps Jason’s arms to his sides, leaving him rendered completely at Stan’s mercy. The crowd is chanting around them, a circle of violence depraved teenagers watching them like a zoo exhibit. Stan hits him once, twice, three times, all with nothing but pent up rage and drunken strength. When he pulls his fist back, there’s blood gushing from Jason’s nose. A swell of victory fills Stan’s chest. 

 

“The fuck are you smiling for?” Jason says, voice weak. “You getting off on this or something?” 

 

Stan grits his teeth, a low growl escaping from the depths of his chest. He hits Jason in the mouth, using his fists in an attempt to shut him the fuck up. His teeth dig into Stan’s knuckles, splitting the skin. “Learn to hold your fucking tongue or I’ll rip it out of your goddamn face.” Stan threatens. Jason sputters out a laugh. 

 

“I can’t believe I have to share a locker room with nasty freaks like you.” He says. 

 

Stan spits in his face, splattering across the bridge of his nose and into his eyes. Jason scrunches his face, cringing upon impact. Stan scrambles to his feet, standing over Jason. He stares at him with nothing but hatred as he lands a brutal kick to Jason’s side, the soft part right below his ribcage. Jason wheezes, turning on his side and curling into a pathetic ball of cowardice. Stan kicks at his back, the toe of his shoe striking against Jason’s spine. He coughs, loud and wet and nasty. Stan wonders if there’s blood. He’s gearing up for another kick when a female voice calls from the crowd, catching Stan’s attention. 

 

“Stop!” She shouts. Stan watches the crowd shuffle, stricken dumbfounded when Wendy emerges. She’s fixing Stan with pleading eyes. “Stan, please, stop. You’re scaring me.” 

 

All the anger built up in Stan’s body releases, deflating his chest like a balloon. He looks back at Jason, crumpled in a heap on the floor. Aside from the rise and fall of his chest, he’s not moving. 

 

“He called me a faggot.” Stan justifies, gesturing to Jason’s body. Wendy’s eyes are wide and glimmering with something akin to fear, but a lot more somber. 

 

“I think he’s paid the price.” She says. Stan falters. He approaches her, reaching his hands out. When Wendy recoils, it makes Stan pause. His hands fall, hanging limp at his sides. He clears his throat, rubbing the back of his neck. 

 

“Do you wanna go somewhere private?” He asks. Wendy stares at him like he’s grown a second head. It makes Stan’s stomach jitter with nerves. “To, like, talk. Or whatever. I’ve been looking for you.”  

 

Wendy pauses, his gaze drifting to her feet. She crosses her arms over her chest. “Okay.” She agrees, a mutter under her breath. 

 

She leads him through the crowd, a million pairs of eyes glued to Stan, waiting with baited breath for what he’ll do next. He shoves his hands in his pockets, trying to keep his eyes on the back of Wendy’s head. She takes him upstairs, into the west wing of the house. The lights are turned down low, leaving the hallway mysteriously dark. A few of the doors that line the hallway are hanging open on their hinges, begging to be infiltrated. Wendy takes him into the room at the end of the hall, gesturing for Stan to enter first. Once she’s surpassed the doorway and they’re both comfortably immersed in the dark, the only illumination being moonbeams peeking through a pair of sheer, purple drapes, Wendy clicks the door shut behind her. 

 

The tension between them is thick, hanging heavy in the air. Wendy’s eyes are still wide with shock, panic set deep in her pupils, but there’s sadness in her face. The soft sounds of her breath are going to be the death of Stan, all sad and wistful, deep like she’s trying to calm herself down. She’s not meeting Stan’s eyes, her hands clasped together in front of her and her gaze on the toes of her shoes. She looks pretty in her slim-fit purple dress and her dark purple lipstick. A strand of hair hangs in front of her face, making Stan want to tuck it back. When he reaches out to her, she flinches away from him. 

 

“Are you proud of yourself, Stan?” She asks. 

 

“What do you mean?” Stan responds. She looks up at him, squinting her eyes. 

 

“You’re drunk.” She says, spitefully, like a javelin being thrown through Stan’s heart. 

 

“No, I’m not.” Stan argues. Wendy rolls her eyes. 

 

“Yes you are. You’re always drunk.” She pauses, crossing her arms over her chest. “God, I bet you’re so proud of yourself. You won you’re fucking game, you won your fucking fight,” Stan’s brows set low, suddenly hyper-aware of the dull throb in his lip. “You blew me off to get drunk, again -“

 

“Jesus Christ, dude, you sound fucking crazy!” Stan interrupts. This takes Wendy aback, causing heat to rise in her cheeks. 

 

“You did not just-“ she starts. Stan isn’t having it. He steps into her space, making Wendy flinch slightly, curling in on herself. 

 

“You think you’re sitting on some fucking high horse like you’re not at the exact same party I am!” Stan rages on, raising his hands and squaring his shoulders, fitting himself to look as massive as possible. 

 

“Stan, you blew me off and you lied to me.” Wendy fires back, making Stan’s chest deflate. “You’ve been blowing me off and lying to me for months.” 

 

“God, that’s fucking rich coming from you.” Stan says, laughing bitterly. “You can’t act all high and mighty about lying when you’ve been going around, telling anyone that’ll listen that I’m-“ 

 

Stan pauses, the words caught in his throat. Wendy raises a brow, waiting for him to continue. “Gay?” She offers. Stan winces like he’s been struck. Wendy watches him closely, her expression softening. 

 

“Yeah.” Stan mutters, his tongue tasting sour. “Like, Jesus, what the fuck is wrong with you?” 

 

“Stan, you can’t even say it.” Wendy shoots back. “You’re pale as a ghost and you beat Jason unconscious for calling you a fag. I know you. I know how you act when you’re on the defense.” 

 

Stan stares at her, desperately trying to conjure some sort of response, something to defend himself. The need to speak sits like a frog in his mouth, but no words escape. Wendy huffs out a scoff. 

 

“Besides,” she says. “Why would Kyle tell me that if it wasn’t true?” 

 

There’s not a feeling in the world that’s more disorienting than the words ringing through Stan’s head. Spots line his vision, dark and fuzzy. The blood rushing through his ears is deafening, pain shooting through the center of his forehead. His knees feel so wobbly he’s terrified of collapsing to the floor. Something rises in Stan’s throat, bitter and making him gag. He coughs, then sputters, chest convulsing as he hacks puddles of bile onto the carpet. 

 

“Jesus, Stan.” Rings Wendy’s voice, muffled like she’s under water. Stan gags again, his throat burning, eyes watering. The acidic fluid is murder on the swollen cut on his lip. When the convulsing stops and Stan manages to straighten back up, he’s greeted with the sight of Wendy’s pissed off face.

 

“K-kyle…?” Stan asks, weakly. Whatever he was about to say, he can’t finish, because the bile is already rising again in his throat. Wendy presses her lips together. 

 

“You know,” she says, sighing softly through her nose. “I could get past the drinking and the aggression and the blowing me off. I know you’re going through a lot, okay? I get it. I’ve tried so hard to be here for you, to be patient and give you what you need, but all you ever do is shut me out. I could care less if you like boys, Stan, if I just knew for sure that you like me, too.” 

 

“I do like you.” Stan argues. “Of course I like you. I love you.” For just a moment, Wendy gazes up at him like she believes him, eyes wide and doe-like, face soft in expression. It passes just as quickly, leaving her scoffing and shaking her head. 

 

“If you loved me, you wouldn’t cheat on me.” 

 

Stan stares at her, mind blank. He’s not sure how he’s supposed to weasel his way out of this. He’s not even entirely sure what this is, still incapable of wrapping his head around how she’s found out about his escapades with Craig Tucker. How the fuck would Kyle have found out? And why would his first inclination be to tell Wendy about it? 

 

“I didn’t-“

 

“Don’t play dumb, Stan.” Wendy interrupts. “It only makes you look worse.” 

 

Stan’s shaking by now, his fists balled at his sides. He has too many issues to address, too many burdens weighted on his shoulders. He feels like the room is spinning, his lungs enclosed. In the distance, Wendy scoffs. 

 

“I don’t even know who you are anymore.”  

 

A second overwhelming wave of nausea hits Stan like a truck. His knees buckle. Lifting his head feels like a task. Chest convulsing, throat constricting, a wave of throw up splatters between his feet. Stan has no idea how he’s keeping himself upright. 

 

From off in the distance, he swears he can hear her say something along the lines of, 

 

“I can’t be here right now.” 

 

Or maybe it’s, 

 

“Gross, Stan! I can’t even look at you.” 

 

Either way, her words don’t entirely register in his head. Not even the click of a door knob and the patter of Wendy’s shoes crossing the room is enough for Stan to regain his senses. He barely acknowledges when the door drifts shut and he’s left alone to panic in the darkness. 

 

When Stan had set out to talk to Wendy, he hadn’t gone in with a plan. He never does when it comes to her, she always takes him back, no matter how angry she is with him. She’s never stormed away from him, always quick to stroke his hair and calm him to reality once his head has become too much. Even in their worst moments, Wendy does not walk away from him. It’s the lack of fingers in his hair or her sweet words that snaps Stan back to reality. He acknowledges his solitude, after it had long since been initiated. So, that’s it, he guesses. Wendy’s done, this was the last straw and they’re over -for real this time. Stan sniffs, wipes at his nose, and picks himself back up. His stomach feels awful, the kind of nauseous a burger and a large coke would fix, and his head is spinning. Dark clouds hang over his head, rumbling like they’re gearing up for thunder. 

 

Stumbling out of the guest room, a newfound sense of purpose comes over Stan. He could continue to waste away, moping over Wendy but, honestly, she’s kind of a bitch. So, like, fuck her, she left Stan alone after accusing him of all those stupid rumors. Yeah. Rumors. That’s what Stan’s going to tell himself, that the whisperings of him being gay for Craig Tucker are totally untrue and his stupid bitch of a girlfriend is being dramatic. Or, ex-girlfriend. Whatever. There’s absolutely nothing about this situation that Stan deserves or should’ve seen coming, because it’s all totally made up. 

 

( Say that to the cum on your car’s upholstery, Stan!) 

 

But Stan doesn’t need to justify his sexuality, to himself or Wendy or anyone else. He’s fairly certain that that beating he gave Jason was enough to deter future antagonizers, and, honestly, the mere idea of Stan - Stan Marsh - messing around with that fucking loser Craig Tucker is laughable . Who in their right mind would believe something that ridiculous? Well, except for Wendy, but Stan’s already decided she’s crazy, and Jason White, but his parents are cousins. His whole family is filled with a bunch of backwater hicks, so who gives a fuck what he thinks. And….

 

Stan pauses, standing idly in the dark, empty hallway, swaying slightly in his spot. A low growl resonates in his chest, shoulders hunched and brows lowered like a Neanderthal. And Kyle. Kyle would, apparently, believe such a ridiculous rumor (Stan thinks, as if he had not jacked off over Craig’s stomach only four hours prior). He’d believe it to such an extent that he’d blab about it to Wendy. He didn’t even have the decency to talk to Stan first, couldn’t even be bothered to check in, offer a 

 

Hey dude, is this true? 

 

Stan slams his fist against the wall, making the expensive painting hanging next to him rattle. Stan certainly does not need to justify his sexuality. He’s getting pretty fucking sick and tired of trying to justify his sexuality, even (especially) in his own head. What he needs is to find Kyle. They’re overdue for a little chat. 

 

Spotting Kyle is easier than hunting down Wendy. He’s in the backyard, his feet dipped in the pool. There are a few bodies surrounding him, a couple lightly treading in the pool, stragglers passed out drunk in the grass, and kids standing around with lit cigarettes haphazardly across the yard. Kyle sticks out like a sore thumb around the masses, with his bright red curls and neon green sweater. Wisps of smoke curl over his head, barely visible against the stark night. When Stan approaches him, it’s with aggression. 

 

“Hey!” Stan shouts, voice booming over the dull chatter of his peers. If he draws attention from anyone outside of Kyle, he doesn’t notice. Kyle turns, fixing Stan with wide, questioning eyes. A little black device that looks like a flash drive is clutched in his hand. Quickly, Kyle tries to tuck it into the sleeve of his sweater. 

 

“Hey, dude.” Kyle says, apprehensively. “What are you-“ 

 

He’s cut off by Stan shoving him, throwing off his balance and making him splash into the pool. Stan stares at the water, seething, watching Kyle’s figure squirm and flail under the surface. When he finally breaks the surface, he screams. 

 

“What the fuck , dude!?” His hair is sticking to his face, his eyelashes splattered with droplets of water. 

 

“Fuck you, dude!” Stan shouts back, his anger set so deep, he’s incapable of controlling the volume of his voice. Kyle fixes him with a confused look, treading to the edge of the pool. “What’s your fucking damage, spreading rumors about me?”

 

Kyle’s expression grows grim. He pulls himself out of the pool, shaking his hair out as he plants his ass on the pavement. Water drips from his sleeves and his hair and the tip of his nose. He’s real fucking lucky there’s a swimming pools width between them, or else Stan would push him in the water again. From across the ridge, Kyle glares daggers, looking like a rat all sopping wet with his face pinched. Stan scuffs his shoe against the pavement, shoving his trembling hands deep in the pockets of his coat. 

 

Kyle shifts, wringing out the sleeves of his sweater and sitting crisscross applesauce. He pats himself down, throwing his head back and groaning when he can’t seem to find whatever it is he’s looking for. “You made me lose my dab pen, you bitch.” He spits. 

 

“Fuck you.” Stan says. “My fucking girlfriend just dumped me because of you.” 

 

Kyle sighs, resting his elbows on his knees. “Oh, boo-fucking-hoo. Like you’ve ever given a shit about Wendy.” 

 

Stan puffs up, ready to argue, to justify all this false love he holds for a girl he only ever acknowledges when he needs to feel good about himself. Before he can get a word in, Kyle’s speaking again. 

 

“She deserves better, dude.” 

 

“You don’t actually believe it, do you?” Stan asks, eyes narrowing. Kyle, for a moment, looks like he’s trying to swallow a marble. 

 

“I believe you’ve been a dick for months.” He says. “And I think it’s pretty weird that every time you disappear, or start acting shifty, Craig Tucker’s involved.” 

 

Something in Stan breaks, like an elastic band pulled too tight around the circumference of his brain finally giving out. If it weren’t for the several feet of water between them, he’d have his hands around Kyle’s throat. Instead, he shouts, 

 

“I wouldn’t cheat on my girlfriend with a fucking dude! I’m not a fucking faggot!” 

 

Kyle stares at him, his expression difficult to read from the distance. It passes through fazes, anger, confusion, hurt, until finally settling into something eerily calm. He stands, a wet spot in the shape of his legs imprinted on the pavement. “You’re drunk, Stan. Just go home.” 

 

There are a lot of things Stan could say, a lot of words of retaliation swarming through his mind. All of them pass the second they enter his brain, fleeting thoughts mixed in with his rage and his static and his shame. He blows out a long breath, face pinched and eyes directed toward his shoes. The reflection of the moon glimmering off the water seems to have him mesmerized. When he looks back up, Kyle’s gone from his spot, walking across the grass with his hands shoved in his pockets. Stan watches him, a heavy ache in his chest with each passing footstep. 

 

“Well, whatever Kyle, fuck you!” Stan shouts at Kyle’s figure in the distance. He doesn’t move, doesn’t stop his stride or turn to look at Stan. This stupid, drunk idiot is just screaming into the void. He continues. “What the fuck do you even know? You’re fucking high!” 

 

He aggressively kicks at a pebble, making his footing fumble. He slips across the grass, landing hard on his ass. A few of the stragglers are staring, which makes Stan’s expression sour. He raises his arms over his head, squaring his shoulders and puffing his chest out. 

 

“What the fuck are you looking at?” He shouts to everyone and no one in particular. The looks of unease he gathers satisfy him enough to start trudging back inside, the rage in him turned back down to a simmer. He pays no mind to the bodies once inside, pushing past them on a mission toward the front door. Stan needs a drink, but more than that, he needs his bed. He’s sick of this, this whole existence thing. More than anything, he wants to lie down and shut his brain off for a while. 

 

It’s not until he’s down the block, unlocking his car doors, when he remembers another, very permanent way of shutting his brain off, the method locked in that safe stored away in the garage. As a matter of fact, dad’s house has a few ways Stan could permanently shut his brain off laying around, in forms of pills and poisons and blades. And there’s alcohol. There’s always alcohol. Stan’s fairly certain that if he manages to choke down that entire bottle of Fireball tonight, he’s not going to be waking up tomorrow morning. 

 

Just as Stan’s shutting the driver's side door, he swears he can spot a familiar figure, orange and surrounded in clouds of smoke. It’s only out of the corner of his eye, like a shadow person lurking in the dark edges of his bedroom. 

 

“Kenny?” He mutters, turning to get a better look at the figure across the street. There’s nothing there, of course, aside from a lamppost and a little brick house with an orange mailbox. No people, no figures, and certainly no Kenny. With a shiver, Stan turns the ignition and starts his long journey home.

Chapter Text

The thing about groundings Craig had never considered? Parents can extend them. What was once one month of confinement has now surpassed to three . This is, apparently, what Craig gets for ignoring his first grounding, getting drunk at school, and being caught with cum staining his clothes. Oddly enough, and much to Craig’s relief, his parents refrained from dwelling too much on the latter. They’d tried to ask who he was with, who could’ve been the one to soil Craig’s clothes, but he didn’t budge. It’s not like they would ever believe the truth, anyway. No one would. 

 

 He’s had exactly no contact with his friends all weekend, locked away in his room with nothing to entertain himself aside from a few comic books and a busted telescope. Not being able to talk to Tweek is putting him on edge, both anxious to and absolutely dreading seeing his face again. Craig has been called a lot of nasty things over the years, things he has no other choice but to take in stride. Comments have gotten to the point where they should just roll off his shoulders. And yet, the sound of Tweek’s voice, pitched in panic, calling him a queer won’t stop ringing in his head. Queer isn’t even one of the bad ones! So many people choose queer as their identity, isn’t it supposed to be reclaimed by now? 

 

But God, Tweek had seemed so scared, so small and nervous, like those days of hand holding and face touching and sweet smiles and bus rides, of Craig’s arm around his shoulders when he got anxious, had never happened. He acted like he wasn’t the one to call it a date in the first place. And the way he looked at Craig… Jesus, it had been nasty, like he was a glob of shit at the bottom of Tweek’s shoe. It was almost like he was looking at Craig the same way he looks at…

 

His stuff

 

His medicine 

 

His coffee

 

The fucking meth. That stupid, nasty shit he obviously doesn’t want to be doing anymore, the fucking drugs that seem to be the main source of his problems. That shit his parents and Kenny keep pumping him with. When he bailed, he’d had a bag full of it. Craig wonders how long it would take Tweek to go through that bag. It had seemed like a lot, but, then again, Craig doesn’t know much about meth. He wonders if Tweek mixed it with his acid, if he’s been spun out all weekend, if he’s got scabs on his face and blood under his nails, if he’s lying dead somewhere. 

 

Token completely skips Tweek’s stop today. Craig still doesn’t have his phone on him, his parents having decided that he doesn’t deserve it, even while he’s at school, and he’s been itching to text him. He’s had a lit cigarette clutched in his hand since he stepped out of the house this morning. It’s been two days and thirteen hours since his last cigarette. The lack of Tweek’s body in the car is only making his anxiety spike. 

 

“You passed Tweek Bros.” Craig says. Token hums next to him, pulling into Jimmy’s neighborhood. 

 

Aw, Craig misses his boyfriend.” Clyde taunts. Craig flips him off over the back of the seat. 

 

“He’s not coming.” Token says. He shrugs. “He’s sick, apparently.” 

 

Clyde snorts. “ Sick ?” He asks. “Or has he been partying too hard?” 

 

Token grins, a slight gush of air escaping his nose. “Getting high alone isn’t really a party, man.” He says. Craig groans loudly, tipping forward to press his forehead against the dashboard. 

 

“He’s fucked.” Craig mutters, despair thick in his tone. Awkwardly, Token pats his back. 

 

“Tweek does crazy stuff all the time, you know that.” He says, obviously trying to be comforting. It’s not. It’s mostly just strained and uncomfortable. 

 

“Yeah, dude. I’m sure he’s just fine.” Clyde jumps in. “He’ll be making out with you again by tomorrow.” 

 

Craig turns his head to the side, glaring at the both of them from the corner of his eye. “It’s not like that.” He mutters, bitterly. “I kinda thought it was, but-“

 

Queer-

 

Queer

 

QUEER! 

 

“-it’s not.” 

 

Having his before-school cigarette is weird without Tweek. Craig has grown used to his presence, his jitters and his anxious tics and the feeling of his palm. Hiking alone to the dumpsters feels sad, all of a sudden. Kenny isn’t there when he arrives, but Butters is, sitting with his back against the wall and nursing his wrist close to his chest. He has a splint around it, heavy bags hang under his eyes. The first thing Craig assumes is dear old Mr. Stotch got drunk and pissed again, probably over laundry or dishes or something else completely stupid. Craig has never been close to Butters, and has always found him pretty annoying and weak, but he does have the slightest bit of sympathy over the shitty parents. At least enough for Craig to try to act civil when he’s hurt. 

 

“Hey,” He says, causing Butters’s attention to snap towards him. He looks fucking terrified, and Craig can’t blame him. Although Craig has not actively tormented Butters since elementary school, he’s generally not the kindest to him. Sometimes, on his worst days, and when Butters is being especially annoying, he’ll start throwing out threats. 

 

“Butters, if you don’t leave me alone, I’ll set you on fucking fire.” 

 

Or get unnecessarily mean. 

 

“I’m so glad your dad hits you. You deserve it.” 

 

Today, however, Butters is sporting an injury, which makes him too vulnerable to prod at. Craig intends to tread lightly. Butters does not respond to his greeting, instead staring at him with wide, terrified eyes. “What?” Craig asks. 

 

Butters’s face burns. “Nothing, nothing.” He murmurs. Craig raises a brow. 

 

“Everything okay?” He asks. It’s a pretty stupid question. Butters is very clearly not okay, and Craig feels like an idiot for asking. Butters shrugs, trying for a grin. It’s strained and weak, coming off more like a grimace. 

 

“‘Course, everything’s just peaches and cream.” He says. His voice sounds fucking pathetic. Craig manages to hold himself back from rolling his eyes. 

 

“Really? Because it looks like you got your shit wrecked.” He says. Butters squeaks, keeping his gaze to the ground. 

 

“Can I, uh,” he pauses, swallowing thickly. Craig kind of wants to snap at him, to tell him to just fucking spit it out. “Have a cigarette, please?” 

 

Craig wants to say no. He’s running low on smokes and he doesn’t know when he’ll be able to get more. He’s almost out of birthday money and there’s no way he’ll be able to convince his parents to let him out of the house. He doesn’t, just silently hands Butters a cigarette and his lighter, watching intently as he struggles to flick it to life. 

 

“You’re about to light the filter, dumbass.” Craig says, before Butters can light the wrong end and completely fuck his lungs over. Butters raises his brows, taking the cigarette out of his mouth and staring at it in shock. He flushes, turning it around so the filter is placed between his teeth. “Why have you decided to pick up smoking?” Craig asks. It’s obvious he’s never even held a cigarette before. Butters shrugs. 

 

“Homecoming went bad.” He says. “Ken thought this would help. Said to me ‘Butters, my favorite guy! If you go to them alcoves behind the school on Monday morning, our dear friend Craig can get ya a cigarette.’” 

 

The mention of Kenny has Craig scowling, taking a harsh drag off his own smoke. Up until now, Craig has blissfully forgotten about his existence, and his interference with Craig’s life. He has to see him today, in just a few minutes, actually, which Craig is not looking forward to. He rolls his eyes. “Kenny’s a bitch.” He says. “He shouldn’t be giving advice, and he definitely shouldn’t be offering away other people’s smokes.” 

 

Butters grows quiet, lips pressed tight together. “Don’t call Ken a bitch.” He says, softly. “He’s the only person who’s nice to me.” Generally if Butters said something so self-pitying, Craig would sneer and tell him to get over himself. Today, it only makes him feel guilty. He takes a final drag of his cigarette before dropping the butt to the ground, stomping it out with the sole of his shoe. 

 

“Whatever.” He mutters. “I’ll see you around, Butters.” He turns, hands shoved deep in the pockets of his jeans. Before he can leave, he spares one final glance in Butters’s direction. “I’m sorry you had a bad weekend.” 

 

Butters chuckles awkwardly. He kind of looks like he wants to cry. “Yeah, you too.” He says. “Good luck in there, Craig. You’ll, uh,” he pauses, swallowing. His eyes dart from side to side, finally settling to land on his shoes. “You’ll need it.”

 

Craig has no fucking clue what that’s supposed to mean, but it unsettles him to the core. As he enters the building, he’s overwhelmed with the feeling of eyes on him. He’s not sure what’s different about today, but it’s like the entire school has dropped everything to watch what he’ll do next. He regards the crowd with unease, trying to keep his head held high and ignore the stares and the looks and the whispers. Craig wonders if there’s something on his face, or a stain on his shirt. Panicking, he glances down at himself, checking his clothes for cumstains that aren’t there. After his parents dragged him home on Friday, he’d thrown his favorite blue jacket in the trash, never to be looked at again. 

 

It’s seven fifty-eight in the morning, two minutes until he’s supposed to be in his seat for home room. Standing at her locker not ten feet away is his cousin, Red. Craig pushes through the crowd, trying to get to her. 

 

“Hey.” He says. Red glances up at him, her expression flat, before turning back to the contents of her locker. 

 

“Hey.” She says, slamming the door shut aggressively. The reverberation makes Craig wince. 

 

“Is something weird going on today?” He asks. Red presses her lips together, avoiding his eye as she shoulders her backpack. 

 

“I dunno.” She says, dryly. 

 

“...it feels like people are staring at me.” Craig says, voice low. Red regards him with questioning eyes, one brow quirked and her lips pursed. 

 

“Do they have something to be staring at you for?” She asks, taking Craig aback. As far as he’s concerned, no. The strangest and most explosive thing to have happened to Craig in the past sixty hours was his fight in the parking lot with his parents, which no one was around for. He hasn’t done anything since arriving at school today, nothing out of his norm, at least. There’s not a single logical reason in Craig’s brain as to why the energy of his peers feels so off all of a sudden. He must take too long to respond, because Red is speaking again. “I gotta get to class. Later, slut.” 

 

As much as Craig would love to get a word in, he can’t. Red is already walking away, leaving the impact of her words behind her. With a minute to spare, Craig manages to drag himself to class. His body moves on autopilot, taking long strides as his brain consumes itself with questions. The most prominent being, 

 

Why the fuck did Red call him a slut? Craig is now, officially, a loser, a fag, a homo, a fairy, a fruity little gay boy, a queer, and a slut. What’s going on? 

 

Even Clyde’s acting weird all of a sudden, staring at him with apprehension as he takes his seat. Craig isn’t sure what the fuck he could’ve done inbetween the drive to school and now to cause this. Kenny is in his seat behind him, hiding in the confines of his hood and tapping restlessly against the wood of his desk. Craig doesn’t get much opportunity to greet them before class starts, his teacher talking and his peers silent. Even with his face turned toward the board, he can feel Clyde’s gaze burning holes into his skin. It makes Craig antsy, so unbelievably uncomfortable with the sudden attention that he wants to scream. He feels about as spun out as Tweek, bouncing his leg and picking at the sides of his fingers. He wishes Tweek were here so he could squeeze his hand. It’s only been two days, but Craig really misses squeezing his hand. 

 

When their teacher is finished droning and they’re  given the rest of the period to study, Craig tries to keep his mind focused on schoolwork. He has some math homework due today that he hasn’t started on, but the mere thought of looking at graphs is making him want to pull his hair out. He really can’t keep ignoring Clyde’s heavy gaze, not if it’s sending him into a spiral like this. 

 

What ?” Craig snaps, fixing Clyde with a mean stare. Clyde instantly retreats, sitting up straight in his chair and suddenly turning his focus on the class work sitting in front of him. 

 

“Nothing, dude.” He says. Craig wants to hit him, he wants to hit him more than he’s ever wanted anything. 

 

“Why the fuck is everyone acting so weird!” Craig exclaims, fisting his hands into his hair and slamming his elbows on the desktop. Behind him, Kenny whistles, and then makes an explosion sound with his mouth. It’s muffled by the fabric of his hood, but it makes Craig’s eyes snap toward him nonetheless. 

 

“And you, ” he starts, making Kenny’s eyes widen. “You ruined my fucking life.” 

 

Kenny doesn’t respond verbally. Instead, he grabs the strings of his jacket and pulls his hood as tight as it will allow, slinking further in his chair. 

 

“I wasn’t supposed to be here today.” Kenny says, whispering under his breath. His hands start shaking on his desktop. Craig can barely see his eyes, but he’s certain they’re blown wide. “I was supposed to be with Her until things calmed down.” He rubs his abdomen again, hiding his face behind his clothes. Craig doesn’t entirely understand what that means, but it puts his anger into full force. 

 

“You sound cracked out.” Craig spits. “Jesus fuck, Kenny, are you good for anything that’s not selling drugs and giving people STI’s?” 

 

“Dude, calm down.” Clyde starts. “You don’t even know what you’re mad about.”

 

Craig, decidedly, ignores him. He knows precisely what he’s angry about, and it’s Kenny and his stupid little business and his stupid little way of interfering with Craig’s life. Anytime anything goes awry, Kenny always seems to be behind it. Well, Kenny or Stan Marsh. Right now, Craig can’t decide which one of them he’d rather see dead. 

 

“You’re such a piece of shit. You scared him away from me.” He continues. That makes Kenny’s head snap up, regarding Craig questioningly. “You sold him shit that’ll kill him and you scared him away from me.” 

 

Kenny remains quiet, kicking his feet out awkwardly. He sighs under his hood. Clyde rests his hand on Craig’s shoulder, making Craig flinch, smacking him away. How they haven’t drawn the attention of their teacher yet, Craig isn’t sure. He hopes the dull chatter of the classroom is enough to drown out his less than friendly words. 

 

“People ask for drugs, Craig.” Kenny says, quietly. 

 

“Yeah,” Craig agrees. “ People ask for drugs, but he didn’t. You took advantage of an addict to make a quick buck, you fucking rat.” 

 

Kenny chuckles lightly. “Rat? Seriously?” He asks, causing Craig to fix him with a heated stare. He throws his hands up in defense. “Okay, okay, dude, look, I really don’t think this should be the focus of your problems right now.” 

 

Craig crosses his arms over his chest, souring. “Fuck you.” He spits. 

 

“No, Kenny has a point.” Clyde says. His eyes are shifting nervously. “You, uh, kind of missed a hell of a party.” 

 

He listens quietly as Clyde rehashes the details -all the ones he can remember. From what Craig gathers, something happened between the football game and Token’s party that led to Wendy breaking up with Stan, which led to Stan giving Jason White a concussion, shoving Kyle Broflovski in the pool, and fracturing Butters’s wrist, not necessarily in that order. The part about Butters’s wrist has Craig wincing. Butters’s father committing something so heinous is believable, but Stan? Sure, he's a total douche, but Craig never imagined he’d inflict real injury. He’s not evil . At least, that’s what Craig thought. As far as Clyde’s describing, that’s the general consensus on Stan’s behavior; everyone is confused and terrified. People have been throwing out theories, curious over what it was that made Wendy finally call it quits and Stan utterly snap, but the rumor mill is muddied. No one has discovered anything cohesive, other than it has something to do with Craig. 

 

That part has Kenny humming under his breath, his leg bouncing and his fingers tapping rapidly against his desk. The panicked look he shoots in Craig’s direction has chills running down his spine. Something in Kenny’s eyes is telling him that that’s not entirely true. People are talking, spreading their theories like a virus. A juicy breakup is bound to have a reason, and if that reason has got something to do with the only out gay guy in school and the quarterback… 

 

“What have people been saying?” Craig demands. Clyde shrugs halfheartedly. 

 

“Well, uh,” he starts, rubbing awkwardly at the back of his neck. “Bebe told me that she heard from Red Stan was cheating on Wendy with, uh,” Clyde pauses, trailing off. He swallows thickly, eyes darting away from Craig’s face. “With you. But Red heard that from Cartman, so I dunno how reliable it is.” Clyde shrugs again. 

 

Instantly, Craig feels the color drain from his cheeks. So that’s why Red called him a slut. Generally, Craig would not recommend taking Cartman’s word for anything. This thing, however? He’s right about. It’s true, it’s all fucking true, and how Cartman got ahold of this information is beyond Craig. He makes a mental note to watch his back for that one. Cartman’s antics can sometimes be laughable, but they can also be life ruining.

 

The look written across Craig’s face must be telling, because it makes Clyde’s face drop and Kenny switch from humming to whistling. He feels hot, all of a sudden, getting smacked in the face with a truckload of shame. He wonders what people would think if they really knew what happened, could read the week old texts, if they had seen the jizz caked on his clothes. He wonders what kind of crazy theories could be being spread around, and, more than anything, he wonders if Stan is going to hold true to his promise and kill him now that people have found out. He’s already proven his aggression, apparently on three separate occasions. 

 

“Dude… no.” Clyde says. Craig’s eyes cast down to his feet, brows pinched on a scowl. Kenny’s whistling is starting to annoy him. “So, it’s true? You… and Stan…?” 

 

Craig purses his lips, watching his nails idly scratch at the wood of his desktop. He taps his foot, impatiently, heaving out a large sigh. “How, exactly, did Cartman find out?” He asks. Kenny and Clyde exchange a look. 

 

“He’s claiming Wendy told him.” Clyde says.

 

“And how did Wendy find out?” Craig asks. 

 

“Uh,” Clyde says. “Kyle, I think? I dunno for sure, though.” Craig feels his cheeks warm. So that’s why Stan pushed Kyle in the pool. Craig already has complicated feelings over Wendy knowing about his escapades with her boyfriend, but Kyle being aware of this information absolutely fills him with shame. Craig takes a deep breath, pressing his fingers to his temples and squeezing his eyes shut. 

 

“And how the fuck did Kyle find out?” He demands. 

 

“Does it matter?” Kenny retorts, finally bothering to jump in. He sounds nervous, eyes refusing to meet Craig’s. “It doesn’t change what you did.” 

 

Craig grits his teeth, hands balling into fists. “ I’m not the one who decided to cheat on my fucking girlfriend.” 

 

Kenny scoffs, quietly, picking at his nails and leaning back in his chair. “Yeah, you just went along with it, like any good person would.” A low, guttural noise rips from Craig’s throat, something  akin to a growl. He shouldn’t be having to deal with this, it’s not fucking fair. Stan was the one who started this, he was the one who sent Craig the texts, he was the one who followed Craig outside on his birthday, he was the one to initiate that first mistake. This isn’t Craig’s fault, so fuck Kenny for trying to treat him like it is. 

 

“Fuck you.” He spits. “You don’t know anything, Kenny.” 

 

Kenny laughs. “I know fucking everything, Craig.” The look in his eyes is absolutely chilling, forcing shivers down Craig’s spine. 

 

“Wendy’s the one who dumped him.” Craig says, redirecting the conversation. “What’s she been saying?” 

 

“Not much.” Clyde says. “All anyone has heard from her is that she broke up with Stan because he’s a douche. She told Bebe and Red that he’s been cheating on her with a boy, but Cartman’s the only person who’s claiming it’s you. The rest has just been-“

 

“The fucking rumor mill.” Craig finishes with disdain. Clyde nods, solemnly. 

 

Craig releases a long, slow breath, his heart sinking in his chest. This is a weird position he’s found himself in. Craig has actively and purposefully kept this a secret for so long because —well. He doesn’t know anymore. Because Stan asked him to? He didn’t even ask. He threatened and Craig stupidly listened. He had himself convinced that if his friends asked about his hickies a month ago, and Craig had told them the truth, they wouldn’t have believed him. Who in the right mind would believe he, Craig Tucker, was sleeping around with Stan Marsh ? Everyone, apparently. Fucking everyone would believe that. Under any other circumstances, Craig would laugh in Stan’s face. Of course he got caught, he totally had it coming. Honestly, how long did he think he could juggle a girlfriend and a sexuality crisis for? How did he not see this blowing up in his face? What a prick. 

 

Craig wishes it were anyone but him that had been Stan’s little gay experiment, so that he could enjoy this moment. Instead, he’s scared absolute shitless and completely, irreparably pissed off. He doesn’t want to see Stan, terrified of being maimed, and the mere thought of having to face Wendy or Kyle is so shit it’s going to give Craig diarrhea. He’s not sure how either of those interactions would go down, and he does not want to find out. Craig doesn’t even want to think about the rest of his peers, the idea of their eyes and their whispers making his skin crawl. Craig has enough problems with relentless tormenting already. Now, not only is he the fag, he’s the fag who broke up the quarterback and the class president. Maybe his dad is right. Maybe he is spreading his whole gay thing like a disease. Even his friends are being weird. Red had been short with him, looking at him like she wanted him dead. Clyde seems unable to maintain eye contact, fidgeting and squirming in his seat. The way Kenny is jittering is getting on his nerves. The hums and odd noises coming from him remind Craig of Tweek, all strung out and paranoid. 

 

“Let’s get something straight.” Craig says, snarling through the bars of his teeth. “This is not my fucking fault.”

 

“So you mentioned.” Kenny mutters, picking at the sides of his fingers. 

 

“Then, who’s fault is it?” Clyde asks. 

 

Craig fixes him with an intense stare, the lines of his frown set deep, fingers trembling. His entire body feels tense, the ropes of his muscles twisted in angry knots. “Stan’s, obviously.” 

 

The retelling Craig gives is as vague as he can possibly make it. He doesn’t talk about the morning after his birthday party, or the texts they exchanged that night. He definitely doesn’t bring up the events that transpired after the football game, or else he’s certain the rage coursing through him will overtake every cell in his body, forcing him into a state of raw violence. But he does talk about Token’s party, to the best his brain can recall. He makes it very clear that he was drunk and lonely that night, and that Stan came on to him . Through his story, Craig puts a lot of blame on Stan. He doesn’t view this as unfair in the slightest because, in his mind, pinning everything on Stan is what’s just. It’s the truth. Every single time they’ve fallen into bed together (or the backseats of shitty sedans, or crusty gas station bathrooms) it’s been because Stan pursued him. 

 

Playing up his fear seems to be going in Craig’s favor, as well. He recounts how Stan had huddled into his space, face set in rage, how he’d just grabbed Craig’s body like it belonged to him. Recounting this sends shivers down Craig’s spine, unpleasant, chilling ones that make his skin break out in goose flesh. At the time, it had been incredibly attractive. Now it just makes Craig feel dirty, like it should have initially. Fuck Stan Marsh. Why does he have to be an aggressive, over controlling douche? Craig is going to spend the rest of his days regretting how much he let Stan get away with, how much control he held. Craig swears right here, right now that he will never allow someone to dominate him like that again. The look Clyde gives him as he tells his story is first bewildered, and then mortified. 

 

“So, you didn’t consent?” Clyde asks. “You got intimidated into-“

 

“No, that’s not it.” Craig defends. He can paint Stan as a lot of things right now, but a sexual abuser would be going way too far. Craig can depict him as a shitty enough person without slapping him with the label rapist. “It was like he didn’t know what he was doing until I mentioned I was scared. Then he, like, softened, started being more flirty and charming. He asked if he could kiss me.” 

 

Clyde’s brows raise. “And you said yes?” 

 

“I kissed him first, technically.” Craig answers. “I thought him and Wendy were already broken up, and it’s not like I’ve got a line of people waiting to kiss me.” 

 

“So, it was just the one time?” Clyde asks. Kenny laughs, a fit of maniacal giggles that has Craig gritting his teeth. Clyde glances between them cautiously, like the gears in his head are visibly turning. “ Dude!” He exclaims, something in his brain clicking into place. Craig scowls at the toes of his shoes. 

 

Being suddenly aware of why people are staring at him is making Craig want to die. He’s humiliated, walking through the halls as the sole source of drama for the day. Craig Tucker single handedly turned the quarterback gay. He’s lured him into his gay little trap, where they paint each other’s nails and talk about fashion and have crazy, hardcore butt-sex. He ruined the class president’s relationship by turning her boyfriend into one of him. And now he’s been outed and gone totally rogue, which makes Craig seriously concerned for his safety. Stan is, obviously, not above causing damage. He’s already punched Craig in the face once, manhandled him, threatened him, he wouldn’t be surprised if he left school today with a few broken ribs. 

 

Knocking Jason White unconscious is a justice, in all honesty. The guy is a hateful prick, Craig completely understands why Stan would want to see him suffer. But he hurt Butters’s wrist, which is both odd and terrifying. Then there’s the issue of pushing Kyle in the pool. There isn’t a scenario Craig can conjure where that would happen. Stan and Kyle have been practically inseparable since elementary school, they’re self-proclaimed best friends. Perhaps Stan truly has snapped and gone off the deep end. Maybe there’s nothing left of him, outside rage and violence. 

 

By the time Craig’s sitting in his history class, zoning out to the monotonous drone of his teacher’s voice, his bewildered curiosities have shifted into full-blown panic. He can’t stop bouncing his leg, staring at the clock in a will to make time move slower. So far, he’s been lucky enough to dodge Stan today. In the three hours Craig has been at school, he hasn’t run into Stan once, which has been good, for the most part. He’s positive that whatever attention he’s getting, Stan’s experiencing tenfold. Craig is also pretty certain that he’s gunning for a fight, and what better target than the faggot that turned him gay? 

 

Lunch is coming up, though, which is forty-five minutes Craig has to be left out in the open, waiting to be thrown to the wolves. He’ll see Stan then, he’s sure of it. If not, he has PE directly after, where he knows Stan will gladly target him if they end up playing a competitive sport. The thought sets Craig frozen with nerves. If it weren’t for this stupid grounding (which he’s choosing to blame on Stan, too) he’d just ditch class. The problem is, he’s one misstep away from his parents just saying fuck all and killing him in cold blood. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t; either way, Craig is going to die. He just needs to decide if he’d rather it be at the hands of his father or Stan Marsh. 

 

When the lunch bell rings, Craig beelines as far out of the building as he can manage. He’s itching for some nicotine and a moment to breathe. Normally, he’d go to the alcoves, but he doesn’t want to risk running into Kenny. Craig has had enough weird encounters for the day, he really doesn’t need another one. Instead, he decides to huddle under the bleachers. It’s getting cold out, the puffs of Craig’s breath freezing amid the autumn air. He has to shove his hands deep within his pockets to keep them from freezing. His teeth chatter. 

 

If Tweek were here, maybe Craig wouldn’t feel so alone. Originally, he had started offering his hands and his space as a way to quell Tweek’s anxieties, but now he wishes he had that feeling of skin against skin for his own sake. His nerves feel totally shot, elevated to a state not even the burn of nicotine can calm. Tweek would find a way to distract him, or comfort him, would grab his hand and smoke right along with him, remind him that the opinions of his peers mean nothing. Settled under the bleachers, cigarette half burned, Craig desperately wishes his brain and his billows of smoke had some semblance of companionship. He stares at the cherry of his cigarette with disdain, as if the weight of his problems rest upon the shoulders of his nicotine. 

 

Craig is snapped out of his thoughts by the jarring sound of footsteps. For a moment, his heart rate goes into overdrive. He’s terrified by the idea of a faculty member finding him like this, crouched by himself, smoking on school property. That would certainly lead to a call home. As the footsteps approach, Craig freezes, clouds of tobacco scented smoke curling into his eyes. He should really put this out, bury it in the dirt and pretend as if he weren’t doing anything at all, but his limbs feel incapable of movement. He squeezes his eyes shut, praying desperately for a harmless interaction. 

 

Ugh ,” groans a male voice from off to Craig’s side. It’s deep, guttural, and laced with irritation. “Goddammit, what the fuck are you doing here?” 

 

When Craig cracks his eyes open, he’s greeted, unfortunately, with the last person he wants to see. Stan is looming over him, something Craig can’t quite make out clutched in his hand. He seems to be having a difficult time standing, swaying lightly on his feet. His elbow is pressed up against the support beams, leaning against the structure for balance. Craig’s eyes widen, any dispersed panic smacking back into him at full force. He scrambles, putting the rest of his cigarette out on the dirt and shifting to stand on his feet. Stan watches him with a flat expression, like Craig’s mere body language is annoying him. 

 

“Jesus, dude, calm down.” He says, plopping himself down into the dirt, his legs crossed in front of him. The object in his hand, which Craig is now realizing is a flask, is brought up to his lips. Stan tilts his head back as he drinks from it greedily. He hiccups. “I’m not gonna fuck with you, what do you think of me?” 

 

Craig doesn’t have a response for this. His opinion on Stan is a whole lot of bad, but he certainly isn’t going to say that. Not while he’s drunk and aggressive. Instead, all he can muster is, 

 

“We have to stop running into each other like this.” His voice sounds weak, soft and broken. The smoke in his lungs is leaving his throat gruff, scratchy like sandpaper. Stan rolls his eyes. 

 

“You’re telling me. Lemme bum a smoke.” He leans back, reaching a hand out and gesturing for a cigarette. Craig stares at the blue American Spirits box clutched in his hand. He doesn’t want to share, and he definitely doesn’t want to share with Stan, but his body moves on autopilot, easily giving into Stan’s demands. Stan stares at the cigarette for a moment, expression flat. “Lighter, too, dumbass.” 

 

Like a jolt of electricity is running up his spine, Craig sits up straight as a board. He tosses Stan his lighter, watching with intensity as he lights the end. Once the smoke hits his lungs, Stan coughs, his face scrunched up in agony. He pulls the cigarette away from his face, staring at it like it’s personally betrayed him. Craig itches for his lighter back. He didn’t get to finish his first smoke, and he could use another two or three. Nerves run through him, Stan’s silence as he takes another drag putting him on edge. Craig still isn’t sure if he should leave or not. He hopes to God he doesn’t decide to stay and end up in emergency care. 

 

“Did Kenny send you after me, too?” Craig asks, trying for a grin. The look on Stan’s face has him instantly faltering, eyes cutting to the ground in place of stay set on Stan’s face. 

 

“No.” Stan answers shortly, taking another swig from his flask and another drag from his cigarette. He still hasn’t given Craig his lighter back. “I haven’t spoken to Kenny since..” Stan trails off, staring out in front of them, peeking at the football field through the bars of the bleachers. Suddenly, he slams the side of his fist into the support beams, throwing his head back and uttering a loud “ fuck!” 

 

Craig jumps, the harsh reverberation of metal bouncing around his head like a pinball machine. His body aches with tension, jaw set and shoulders tight. He’s staring with wide eyes, incapable of uttering a word. 

 

“I fucked up so bad, dude.” Stan mopes, head lolling back as he stares up at the sky. Craig presses his lips tight, cautious to respond. “I’m the biggest fuck up in the fucking world. What the fuck?” 

 

Craig does not respond. He picks at the threadbare knee of his jeans, scowling down at the ground. Like he’s drunkenly raging to himself, Stan continues. “My stupid bitch of an ex girlfriend thinks I drink too much and my stupid bitch of an ex best friend told her I’m fucking gay , like that’s their fucking business. Kenny’s avoiding me and everyone is avoiding me! Even you’re acting scared. Why the fuck does everyone think I’m out to hurt them?”

 

There’s a lot of things Craig could comment on, could insert with a snooty reply or prod at or ask about. The one he settles on is, 

 

“I am scared.” Craig furrows his brow. “I mean, did you really break Butters’s wrist?” 

 

“Fuck you.” Stan spits. “I fractured it, okay? He’s just being a dramatic little bitch.” He takes another drag of his cigarette, blowing out the puff of smoke aggressively. “Who gives a shit about Butters, anyway?” 

 

“Kenny does.” Craig mutters, because it’s the only response his brain can muster. Stan completely disregards him, his brain having already jumped to another topic. 

 

“I'm pretty sure they’re a thing.” He says, spitefully. The weight of his gaze settles on Craig’s form, making the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. 

 

“Kenny and Butters?” He asks.

 

“Kyle and Wendy.” Stan corrects. He takes another sip from his flask. “I mean, that’d be pretty fucking funny, wouldn’t it? For that stupid bitch to hop on my best friends dick after accusing me of cheating.” 

 

Craig absolutely thinks that would be funny, and some sort of poetic justice. After cheating on his girlfriend several times, Stan would totally deserve to lose her to his so called best friend. He deserves to suffer under the weight of his consequences, and something like that would definitely make him suffer. If Stan was so afraid to lose Wendy, he shouldn’t have fooled around with another boy’s dick. Craig thinks of Tweek and his warm hands and his short stature, big, goofy smiles and sweet laughs. If he were given the gift of Tweek’s trust and devotion, he’d hold that shit close and never let go. 

 

“Absolutely.” Craig says. Stan goes quiet, his hands balled tightly in his lap and jaw set. “And you did cheat on her. We both know that.”

 

A frustrated growl rips from Stan’s throat. For a moment, he looks like he’s going to punch Craig in the face. He doesn’t, his muscles loosening and his hands hanging uselessly at his sides. He groans, pitching himself forward and hanging his head. “I just don’t know how they found out.” He says. Stan takes a final, long gulp from his flask, tipping it back and downing the rest of the contents. He wipes at his mouth aggressively, a loud belch erupting from the depths of his stomach. 

 

Craig stares at him for a moment, tilting his head to the side. He messes with his box of cigarettes, tapping the edges against the palms of his hands. “Uh,” he says. “I mean, were you treating her well?” 

 

Stan’s head snaps in Craig’s direction, a look set on his face that goes straight to Craig’s nerves. “What?” He asks. 

 

“Like,” Craig starts, “Were you at least paying attention to her, too? Because if you liked having your dick in my mouth more than hers, that looks pretty suspicious.” 

 

“Fuck you, Craig!” Stan yells. “You’re such a fucking piece of shit, acting like you haven’t been gagging for my dick this whole time. Pretentious prick.” His tone is loud and rage filled, stumbling over his words like a buffoon. It reminds Craig of Cartman, angry and stupid and hateful. 

 

“Jesus,” Craig sighs, rolling his eyes.

 

Fuck,” Stan whines, pitifully, throwing his head in his hands. “I can’t believe you’re the only person I can talk to. You were the last person I wanted to talk to.” 

 

“I don't want to be talking to you at all, in case you can’t read body language.” Craig says. 

 

Stan lifts his flask to his mouth. He stares at it for a moment, confused, only to shake it lightly and whine again. “God dammit!” He looks at the cigarette clutched between his fingers. “My fucking cigarette is almost out, too!” 

 

Craig is fairly certain that he’s being forced to witness an overgrown toddler having a meltdown. “I think you’ve had enough to drink.” He says. 

 

Stan laughs, low and bitter. “I’m not drinking to feel better about myself, you ass.” He says, slurring. He hiccups, chest convulsing. “I’m trying to fucking die.” 

 

Craig stays quiet, not equipped to offer any sort of response. As much as he would like to deny any role he’s played in Stan’s demise, he knows for a fact that if he turned up dead tomorrow, Craig would only blame himself. He’s sat here for a good while, watching Stan drink himself sick and listening to him whine about his life. Stan has no one else to turn to, no friends left who give a shit about his safety. All he’s got is alcohol and the begrudging ear of the same boy that caused him to push himself over the edge. 

 

“Don’t say that shit to me.” Craig says. He sounds insensitive, even to his own ears. “I’m not equip to deal with your fucking damage, Stan.” 

 

Stan states straight out in front of him, looking like he’s trying to swallow a marble. For a moment, he looks so pitiful Craig almost feels bad for him. Craig cannot fully be bothered to give Stan his pity, however. Death wish or not, Stan deserves his pain. Without saying another word, Stan pushes himself up off the ground, brushing the dirt off his jeans. He huffs, taking the final drag of his cigarette before dropping it to the dirt, stomping the cherry out with the bottom of his shoe. Craig watches wearily as Stan shoves his hands in his pockets, face scrunched up in dissatisfaction. As he starts to walk away, Craig calls, 

 

“Give me my lighter back!” 

 

Stan pauses, staring down at it thoughtfully. Craig isn’t sure what he’s thinking, exactly, but he feels like he’s watching the cogs in his brain turn. “No.” He says, finally. “I think I’m gonna keep it.” 

 

“What?” Craig balks. “Fuck you! Give it back.” 

 

“Nah.” Stan responds, casually. “It’s my new weed smoking lighter. Blue’s my favorite color, I guess.”

 

Craig watches Stan’s form disappear with disdain, seething and desperately wishing for a way to light his cigarette. Of all the weird interactions he’s had with Stan over the past month, that was definitely the weirdest, and probably left Craig the most pissed off. Fuck Stan, fuck him so fucking hard, Craig is just about ready to lose his shit over that damn lighter. Once again, Craig has to ask himself why ? Why the fuck has he let himself be led into this position, why the fuck did he ever sleep with Stan in the first place? Whatever weird, horny delusion Stan had him under is broken now. If Craig sees that prick’s fucking face ever again, he’s going to beat it to oblivion. 

 

While he’s changing in the locker room for gym, Craig nearly has a panic attack. Boys locker rooms are backwards, in the sense that douchebags can randomly flash their friends their balls, but if Craig looks at anything aside from his locker, he gets death threats. If he changes in a stall, away from their eyes, he’ll get called a faggot and a pussy. Sometimes boys ask him if he wants to suck them off. It’s a trap, of course, and the boys that ask are never anything close to Craig’s type. Now, with this new information out about Stan, he can only imagine the ridicule he’s about to endure. Boys around him are goofing around, talking loud and shoving each other. Stan is nowhere in sight, but no one’s seemed to comment yet. Craig knows they’re bound to, he can feel it in the air. Craig showing up to gym but not Stan is a rare occurrence in and of itself. He keeps his head straight, trying his best to tune out his surroundings. 

 

A fist smashes into a locker by his head, which makes Craig flinch, but keep his head down, teeth grit. A deep voice laughs, loud and right next to his ear. Whoever this is has caught Craig with his pants down, still pooled around his ankles, and hunched over to strip them off. He can’t remember if he’s wearing superhero boxers today. He really hopes he isn’t. 

 

“Made ya flinch!” He calls. Craig kicks his pants off his ankles, scowling down at the floor. He still hasn’t lifted his eyes to greet his new antagonizer, busy trying to change into his basketball shorts. 

 

“Fuck off.” He mutters, straightening to reach into his locker. His eyes flick to the face of a freckled, red headed boy he doesn’t quite recognize. They may have gone to middle school together, but Craig can’t quite recall. Sometimes Cartman plots things with gaggles of ginger kids, though. It would be a very Cartman move to send his henchmen out to do his dirty work. The kid isn’t very big, definitely seven or eight inches shorter than Craig and kind of pudgy. His arms aren’t defined with muscle, and his ankles are oddly skinny. The way he’s standing leaves ample room for Craig to kick him in the balls. He poses exactly no threat. If he tries throwing punches, Craig will just smash his face into the lockers. 

 

“Hey man, tell me something,” the ginger kid says. “Did it hurt taking Marsh’s dick up your ass?” 

 

Craig tenses, brows lowering to a scowl as he pulls his shorts up his legs. “Why do you wanna know?” He asks, slamming his locker door shut. “Plan on taking a dick up your ass anytime soon?”

 

The ginger kid puffs up, face turning bright like his carrot top hair. He shuffles forward, his fist colliding into Craig’s side. Craig stumbles into his locker, flinching as he clutches at his side. This kid might not be very big, but with a surprise attack like that, his impact hurts. 

 

“Fuck.” Craig groans. Other boys have started paying attention, muttering around them. If a faculty member is around, he’s certainly not here to do anything. 

 

“I'm not a fucking fruit, fruit!” Ginger kid snaps. Craig grits his teeth, fingers flexing. 

 

He knows damn well that if he gets into a fight today, he’s dead. His parents will either ship him off to military school or juvie. He’s never been in a real, proper fight. Sure, there were those few times in elementary school where he threw a punch or two, gave Butters a wedgie or spit on Kevin Stoley, but otherwise this is completely new territory. Usually when boys start getting too aggressive with him, they’re too big to take on. This might be the first time Craig has really been given the opportunity to stand up for himself. He pauses for a beat, coughs, and wonders to himself if he’s really not going to take it. Parents be damned. Craig’s side hurts and he’s irreparably pissed off. 

 

When his knee lands directly into ginger kid’s balls, he crumples instantly. It’s kind of pathetic to watch, honestly. Craig still isn’t sure what gave this kid the confidence to start throwing punches in the first place. 

 

“I am sick and fucking tired ,” Craig sneers, drawing his fist back and smacking ginger kid in the side of the head. “Of being called a fruit, ” another hit, smacking him in the jaw. “Or a fag, ” His fist lands hard against the bridge of other boy’s nose. God, this is weirdly easy. This kid seems so small and weak, he’s not even bothering to fight back. Craig grabs the crown of ginger kid’s head, forcing it down as he brings his knee up, slamming it into the kid’s stomach. The ginger kid lets out a struggled gasp, crumpling to his knees the second Craig let’s him go. “Or a fucking queer. ” Craig collects a glob of moisture to the front of his tongue, hacking it directly into ginger kid’s face. 

 

When ginger kid finally struggles to his feet and lifts his gaze to Craig, his face is set in rage. That expression has Craig smug, unfazed as ginger kid moves to hit him again. He’s slow, still crippled in pain with a glob of saliva dripping down his cheek. The languid pace of his movements gives Craig ample time to defend himself, pressing the flat of his hand directly into the center of ginger kid’s face. It’s small, or maybe Craig’s hands are just big, because the tips of his fingers easily curl around the expanse of ginger kid’s skull. He shoves him backwards, making ginger kid fall flat on his back. Craig now understands why Stan chose violence after the Homecoming dance. There’s a rush to this, to making homophobes and assholes and douchebags suffer a little. For so long, Craig has sat idly by, letting these fuckfaces treat him like shit on the bottoms of their shoes. He deserves this, to finally fight back, and it’s exhilarating. 

 

Craig looms over ginger kid, staring at his stupid freckled face like it’s every person that’s ever wronged him. Like he’s looking right at Cartman, or Jason White, or that kid that smashed his face into his locker sophomore year, or the kid that blew spitballs at him in chemistry when he was a junior. But most importantly, when he looks at ginger kid lying there, crippled in pain, Craig imagines he’s looking at Stan. 

 

By now, their peers have started to circle them, watching with big grins. There was probably some expectation for Craig to get up to trouble today, but a physical altercation this early in class must still be surprising. Commotion erupts, the noises of his classmates numb in Craig’s ears. 

 

“Call me a fruit again.” Craig says, the gruff tone of his voice surprising even himself. Craig has never considered himself to be intimidating, but if he were in ginger kid’s place, laying on the ground in agony as a six and a half foot fruit loomed over him, threatening him with that voice, he’d be fucking terrified. The look on ginger kid’s face alludes to fear, which swells Craig’s chest with pride. He takes his eyes away from the ginger kid’s form, sweeping over the masses of his peers. Craig raises his arm, certain he looks completely unhinged. “Anyone else wanna call me a fucking fruit ? Go on, I dare you!” He calls to the crowd. 

 

While he’s distracted, ginger kid goes to swipe at him, wrapping his arms loosely around Craig’s ankles and tugging, trying to trip him up. It works to some degree, but there isn’t enough room between the sets of lockers to fall flat on his face. Craig’s back lands against the lockers, his feet slipping out in front of him and accidentally scuffing ginger kid in the face. He reaches his hands out to catch himself, slipping out from underneath himself and landing hard on his ass. Craig grits his teeth, kicking ginger kid in the face again. The kid coughs, groaning in pain.

 

Craig struggles to his feet, huffing out heavy breaths. Ginger kid isn’t moving, clutching his face in his hands and laying flat on his back. Craig gears himself up to strike the kid again, fully prepared to -quite literally- kick him while he’s down.

 

“Hey!” Calls a male voice before he gets the opportunity, fully snapping Craig away from his own violence. His gym teacher is standing in front of him, arms crossed tightly over his chest. He looks between Craig and ginger kid, face set in a scowl. “You two, come with me.” 



“A fight !” Craig’s mother yells, throwing her hands in the air. She’s pacing back and forth in the living room, Craig sitting on the couch in front of her, his hands tucked in his lap. After he was dragged to the principal’s office, forced to awkwardly sit in the waiting room with ginger kid as he nursed a purpling bruise under his eye, Craig had to endure an incredibly awkward call home. He was sent back to class to finish out the school day, and then had to sit at home alone for a few hours, dreading the inevitable of his parents getting off work. His dad is standing behind her, arms crossed over his chest and face stony. “God, what the fuck has gotten into you? You don’t start fights.” 

 

“I didn’t start it.” Craig grumbles, rubbing his hands together awkwardly. “The other guy hit me first.” 

 

“Jesus,” his mom groans, pressing her index fingers to her temples. “You have just been looking for trouble lately, haven’t you? You gave that kid a black eye, Craig!” 

 

Craig stays quiet, having a difficult time looking his mother in the eyes. She continues her pacing, the look on her face set in distress. 

 

“I don’t even know what to do with you.” She says. “We’ve tried everything. We’ve grounded you, we’ve taken away your phone, your privileges-“

 

“Broke my shit.” Craig interjects. His mother shoots him a dirty look. 

 

“Watch it!” She snaps. “You’ve been nothing but difficult lately. Disappearing, drinking at school, being completely disrespectful. I don’t know how else to get through to you.” 

 

“Mom, I didn’t hit that kid because I was looking for trouble.” Craig argues. He lays his hands flat in his lap, arms shaking with tension. “I was being harassed. He hit me first. I wasn’t trying to start a fight, okay?” 

 

His mom throws her hands up in the air, tipping her head back to stare at the ceiling. “Lord help me, before I lose my shit.” She says. 

 

“Laura,” Craig’s dad interrupts, uttering his first word since he’s gotten home. The both of their attention snaps to him, staring at him questioningly. “Go upstairs. I want to have a few words with the boy alone.”

 

“Fuck, fine.” Craig’s mom says, turning on her heel and heading toward the stairs. “You deal with him, I’m done.” 

 

They watch her in silence, neither Craig nor his father moving a muscle until she’s out of eye sight. After a beat, Craig’s dad sighs, letting his arms fall to their sides as he heads toward the couch. He sits down carefully, leaving a cushion’s distance between himself and Craig. He’s staring straight ahead, tapping his fingers lightly against the tops of his knees. Craig watches him out of the corner of his eye, caution set deep in his bones. The jarring sound of his dad’s laughter leaves Craig both chilled and stupefied, unsure if he should feel relieved or terrified. 

 

“Shit kiddo, I didn’t know you had it in you.” His dad says, still chuckling slightly. Craig cracks a grin, but remains silent. He knows he has to be careful, still. Just because his dad is amused doesn’t mean he’s in the clear now. “You really gave that kid a black eye? There’s not a scratch on you!” 

 

“Busted up his nose, too.” Craig says, the corners of his lips twitching upward. His dad laughs, sounding completely overjoyed. 

 

“God dammit, son, you’re a beast.” He says. He pauses, clearing his throat and letting his smile falter. The suddenly serious expression on his face looks forced. “You promise he hit you first?” He asks, fixing Craig with a look. 

 

“Yeah.” Craig says. His dad nods slightly, that serious expression breaking with a grin. 

 

“What’d you do to piss him off?” He asks. Craig shrugs halfheartedly, staring down at his hands. 

 

“Be gay.” He answers. Dad raises his brows in surprise. “It’s always because I’m gay.” 

 

“Seriously?” He asks. Craig shrugs again, crossing his arms over his chest and hunching in on himself. Dad blows out a long breath, smoothing his hands over his head. He stares at the ceiling for a moment, lips pressed together in a firm line. “Look, I still don’t get this gay thing. I don’t even know what two dudes do together. Like, how did you even get all that stuff on your-“ Dad pauses, shivering in his spot, his face twisted in disgust. He holds his hand out in front of himself, as if to physically stop the thoughts of dried semen on Craig’s hoodie. “My point is, regardless of how confusing this is for me, it’s who you are. And it’s real fucked up of other kids to pick on you for who you are. Fuckers like that deserve a kick to the face.” 

 

Craig stares at his hands, brows pinched. He’s not used to this with his dad, this kind of vulnerability and acceptance. He’d been expecting a screaming match of epic proportions when he sent mom upstairs, not this. 

 

“So, what I’m hearing,” Craig starts, trying for a grin. “Is that I’m not in trouble?” 

 

Ha!” His dad laughs, head thrown back like that’s the funniest thing he’s ever heard. “In your dreams, asshole. You’re still in boatloads of trouble, but I’ll have a talk with your mom. Maybe I can convince her to soften your punishment.” 

 

Craig blinks, staring at his dad with wide, appreciative eyes. “Thank you.” He says. Dad waves him off. 

 

“Yeah, yeah.” He says, pushing himself off the couch. “Don’t mention it. And hey, Craig,” he turns, fixing Craig with a look. 

 

“Yeah?” He asks. 

 

“I’m proud of you. For standing up for yourself.” 

 

Dinner is quiet. His mother’s face has been set in a scowl since they sat down, and his dad seems a bit extra on edge. Even Tricia is having a hard time thinking up something to say. His mom made spaghetti and meatballs. This is the third day they’ve eaten spaghetti and meatballs in a row. It’s starting to taste like vomit. Craig picks idly at his dinner, any appetite he could’ve had completely dispersing under the weight of his mom’s gaze. The sounds of utensils scraping across their plates is starting to grate on his nerves, setting tension in his joints. He rests his head in the palm of his hand, staring down at his nearly full plate like it’s personally betrayed him. 

 

A knock rings through the house, disrupting their silence and setting everyone at the table on edge. His parents exchange wide eyed looks, his mother’s head slightly cocked to the side. Tricia perks up, one eyebrow raised. It’s obvious that no one knows who could be at the door. Craig knows for a fact that he’s not expecting any guests. He’s not sure who his family would be inviting over at seven-thirty on a Monday. Whoever is on the other side of the door knocks again, loud and rapid and making Craig’s brain vibrate. 

 

Jesus ,” he groans, pushing himself away from the table. “I’ll fucking get it.” 

 

Just as Craig is approaching the door, whoever’s on the other side knocks again, each tap of their fist against the wood growing increasingly rapid. One would think it’s an emergency. When Craig throws the door open, he’s greeted with the sight of Tweek, pale and gaunt, heavy bags hanging under his wild eyes. There are pick marks littered across his hairline, on his cheeks, and dotted along his chin. He’s breathing heavy, beads of perspiration lining his face. They stare at each other for a moment, silent and shell shocked, the pants of Tweek’s breath being the only sounds that fill the silence. After a moment, his face breaks out in a grin. 

 

“Hi.” He says. His eyes are unnerving, but that smile has Craig’s heart fluttering. 

 

“Hi.” He says back. “You’re sweaty.” 

 

“I ran here.” Tweek replies. He leans to the side, trying to get a peek past the door frame. “Am I interrupting something?” 

 

“Uh,” Craig says, mind drawing a blank. “Just dinner. What are you doing here?” 

 

“I miss you.” Tweek says. “The last time we talked-“

 

“Craig?” His mother calls, her voice sounding far away. He turns to greet her, approaching them with a curious look on her face. “Who’s at the door?”

 

Craig steps to the side, bringing Tweek into her line of view. Her expression flattens into something entirely unimpressed. She presses her lips together in a firm line, hands to her hips. Tweek waves at her, meekly. 

 

“Hi Tweek.” She says, sounding cold and robotic. Her eyes search his face, expression growing increasingly sour. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave, Craig’s grounded.” 

 

“I’ll just, gah, be a minute!” Tweek says. “I’m not gonna take up too much of his time, promise!” 

 

She studies him, eyes narrowed. “You boys can talk at school tomorrow. Why don’t you go home and get some rest? You… don’t look too good.” 

 

Tweek tenses, body spamming as his face twists in a wince. He flexes his fingers a few times, redirecting his gaze toward his feet. “Yeah, uh,” Tweek says, chuckling nervously. “I took my, hnng , my meds last night and drank lots of, gah , um, coffee. So.” 

 

Craig’s mother raises a brow. “What kind of medication do you take, Tweek?” 

 

Mom !” Craig whines, throwing his head in his hands. Tweek twitches, fidgeting from foot to foot. 

 

“Just, like, amphetamine, for my brain. Like adderall? But off brand.”  He answers, fingers flying to pick at the scabs on his face. 

 

That’s one way to put it, Craig thinks. 

 

“Don’t do that.” He scolds, batting Tweek’s hands away from his face. Tweek drops them, offering Craig a sheepish grin in return. 

 

“Laura,” Craig’s dad calls from the kitchen. “Let the boy talk to his friend. He said he’d only be a minute.” 

 

At that, Craig perks up. The grin that graces Tweek’s face is bright enough to light up the sky. His mother scowls, arms crossed over her chest tightly. She purses her lips. 

 

“Give me a moment, boys.” She says, turning on her heel and stomping back to the kitchen. Craig can hear the hushed murmurs of his parents’ discussion, but their exact words are hard to make out. 

 

... don’t trust him…”

 

“Just a few…”

 

“...in trouble!” 

 

“..just give....” 

 

“Thomas! What if that’s his dealer!”

 

The second Craig hears his dad utter the words “...ten minutes… leave the door open.” He wraps his fingers around Tweek’s wrist, tugging him inside and pulling him up the stairs. He takes them two at a time, Tweek easily following behind and giggling softly from behind his hands. His eyes, green like a forest, and his big, goofy grin make his face ignite. Something deep in Craig’s chest stutters. The corners of his lips tilt up in a grin.

 

“Ten minutes!” He calls behind him. “I’ll leave the door open!” 

 

“I’ll be waiting out here with a fucking timer, Craig! No funny business!” His mom calls back 

 

 He pulls Tweek inside his room, leaving the door slightly ajar. For a moment, neither of them speak, Craig watching intensely as Tweek wanders the perimeter of his space, poking at any nic nacs and trinkets he comes across. He hums slightly under his breath, finally turning to Craig with an awkward grin plastered on his face. 

 

“Hi.” He says, voice breathy. Craig quirks a brow. 

 

“Hey.” He says, slowly. “You mentioned something about missing me?” Tweek hums again, his shoulder spasming. He runs his fingers over the Superman figurines sitting on top of Craig’s desk. 

 

“Did I? That’s gay.” He says, then pauses, stopping his wandering right next to Craig’s bed. “Er, I mean, sorry. Yeah, I missed you. A lot. Last time I saw you, it went weird. Right?” 

 

“Yeah.” Craig agrees. “It was pretty weird when you called me a queer and dipped.” 

 

“Hnng,” Tweek responds. He starts messing with the scab on his chin. “I mean, like, people in communities can reclaim slurs, I think. Like how Jimmy can say retard, or like-“

 

“Get to the point, Tweek.” Craig interrupts, rolling his eyes. 

 

“Gah!” Tweek exclaims, his body running with jitters. “Yeah! Right! I just mean that, like, I can say queer if I, uh,” he pauses, clearing his throat and letting his gaze settle on a point just past Craig’s shoulder. “If I’m one, too.” 

 

Craig’s silence must put Tweek on edge, because after a moment of twitching and awkward grunts, he continues. “This is lame. I know I shouldn’t have said it, I just got really freaked out. I was excited to go to the dance with you! But then Kenny happened, and he said that weird stuff about you and Stan, which probably isn’t even true -“

 

“It’s true.” Craig says, making Tweek’s eyes snap back to him. Craig sighs, heavily. “Or, it was. But it was stupid and it’s over.” It’s over , Craig repeats to himself. It’s really, truly over. Thank the good fucking lord. 

 

“...Right.” Tweek says. “But that’s not my business. We weren’t -aren’t- y’know? So, yeah. I flipped out. And it wasn’t cool and I wanted to say I’m really, really sorry. I like you, man. I couldn’t handle the pressure of fucking up this thing we’ve got.” 

 

“This thing?” Craig asks. “What, exactly, is this thing?” 

 

Tweek jumps, rubbing at the back of his neck. “I dunno, man. What do you want it to be?” 

 

Craig shrugs halfheartedly. “What do you want it to be?” 

 

Ah!” Tweek twitches. “I have no idea. I don’t do this stuff! Feelings and shit, being with another person. But you’re different. I like you, I like hanging out with you and I like when you hold my hand and sometimes I think it would be so fucking cool if you kissed me.” 

 

Craig feels the corners of his lips tilt up in a grin, his body running with warm, fuzzy feelings. “So when you called homecoming a date-“

 

“I meant a date , yeah.” Tweek says. “I was hoping -just, like maybe - I mean if things went well enough-“ 

 

“You were hoping I’d kiss you at the end of the night.” Craig finishes. 

 

“Yeah.” Tweek says. “But that obviously didn’t happen, because I fucked up. So.” 

 

Craig stares at him for a moment, an array of thoughts racing through his head. It takes nothing out of him to accept Tweek’s apology. The idea of a cute boy who he has a crush on running to him after dark simply to apologize for negative behavior and confess his own feelings is incredibly romantic. It makes Craig’s heart flutter, butterflies rising in his stomach. He smiles, softly. 

 

“You did.” Craig says. “It’s okay. I did, too. If you want, we can start over.” 

 

Tweek’s eyebrows twitch. “Start over?” He asks. Craig feels his smile grow. 

 

“Yeah,” he says. “Start over, pretend it never happened. There’s nothing stopping me from kissing you now.” 

 

Tweek blinks up at him, wide-eyed and curious. “Please?” He asks, voice cracking. 

 

Kissing Tweek is a whole hell of a lot different from kissing Stan. The second their lips collide, it’s explosive, shooting Craig’s vision with fireworks and running his body warm. Deep in his chest, his heart melts. The butterflies in his stomach are losing their absolute shit, fluttering erratically. Tweek is shorter than Stan, making Craig have to hunch to reach his lips. He curls an arm around Tweek’s waist, his body warm pressed up against Craig’s. The shapes of their lips fit together like puzzle pieces, presses of hot skin dancing in a tango, synchronized and flawless. He’s addicting, Craig realizes, a flurry of emotion and passion that only leaves him wanting more, more, more

 

Breaking away from each other is a struggle. Every time their lips part, Tweek goes in for more, pressing his lips to Craig’s in chaste little smooches that make his head spin. He refuses to remove his arm from around Tweek’s waist, terrified that the second he does, he’ll wake up and realize this has all been nothing but a very weird dream. If it is, Craig can’t bear the thought of it ending. 

 

“Times up, boys!” His mother calls from the bottom of the staircase, snapping them out of their haze. Tweek squeaks and scurries away, his cheeks tinged in pink hues. Craig sighs. 

 

“That’s our cue.” He grumbles, leading Tweek out of his bedroom and down the stairs. 

 

As they’re stopped at the door, Tweek fit into the frame and bracing the cold October air, Craig kisses him goodbye, one final time. Tweek hums against his lips, fingers brushing along the sides of Craig’s cheeks. There’s a telling pull, indicating a smile. When Craig tries to pull away, Tweek’s hold on him tightens, pulling him back down for more. 

 

“Okay, greedy,” Craig says, laughing slightly. “Calm down, I’ll see you at school tomorrow.” Tweek whines. 

 

“Just one more?” He asks. His eyes are so big, face set so sweet, Craig has no idea how he’s supposed to turn down that request. He kisses him once more, a chaste peck that has Tweek whining softly. When they pull away, his eyes are the size of saucers. “Okay.” He whispers. 

 

“Bye, honey.” Craig says. Tweek grins. 

 

“Bye, Craig. I’ll see you tomorrow.” 

 

Closing the door behind him, Craig turns, ready to head back upstairs. He’s greeted with the sight of his parents not too far behind him, staring questioningly. 

 

“So,” his mother says, looking like she’s caught between being confused, annoyed, and utterly furious. “Is he… your boyfriend?” 

 

“Uh,” Craig hesitates, unsure of how to respond.

 

“I mean,” his mom continues. “You kissed him goodbye and called him honey .”

 

“Yeah,” Craig says. “He’s -yeah. We’re together, but it’s kind of new, so don’t embarrass me.” 

 

“Is he the boy that got the- the stuff on your..?” She asks, awkwardly.

 

“God, Laura .” Craig’s dad complains. 

 

Craig feels his face grow hot, embarrassed to be reminded, in some way or another, of Stan and his humiliating escapades. “Yeah, Jesus mom, gross.”

 

His mother raises a brow. “You’re not on meth, are you?” 

 

Craig laughs. “I can guarantee you, I will never try meth.” 

 

His mom throws her hands up. “Okay, fuck, I was just checking!” She pauses, assessing him for a moment. “ You don’t look like a meth head, anyway. I hope this thing with this boy is a rebellious teen fling.” 

 

She turns and stomps up the stairs. Craig’s dad watches her, standing in his same spot with his arms crossed over his chest. His brows are knit, mouth slightly agape.

 

“You’ve got weird taste.” He says as his eyes land on Craig. 

 

“Yeah, well,” Craig says, a bitter taste settling in his mouth. “I’m kind of over pretty boys that treat me like shit.” 

 

His dad looks like he wants to say something for a moment, but refrains. He snaps his mouth shut, rubbing at his forehead and sighing slightly. “You’re still super grounded, by the way.” 

 

On Tuesday morning, as Token pulls up in front of Tweak Bros., Craig feels like he’s going to jump out of his seat. The smile that graces his face is bigger than he thinks it’s ever been as he watches Tweek emerge. He looks the same as he always does, wild, alert, and gaunt, but he’s smiling big. He’s carrying a travel mug of coffee and a lit cigarette. There are sunglasses on his face, which is odd. The sky has been overcast for the past four days. Craig surges over and kisses him the second he opens the car door. He tastes like tobacco. Craig wants to suck the nicotine off his tongue. Tweek smiles against his lips, peppering him with smooches as he crawls into the car. 

 

“Hey, babe.” Craig says, brushing his knuckles along Tweek’s cheekbone. Tweek kisses him again, the palm of his hand placed firmly under Craig’s jaw, his fingers splayed. 

 

“Hi,” he murmurs. They pull away after Clyde scoffs from the front seat, glaring at them through the rear view mirror. Tweek shrieks at the noise, jumping ten feet out of his skin, his coffee sloshing in his hand. He settles, taking a long drag from his cigarette and lacing his hand in Craig’s. 

 

“Oh, it’s ‘not like that,’ is it?” Clyde asks. Craig grunts in return, pulling Tweek’s hand into his lap. 

 

Tweek holds his cigarette up to Craig’s mouth, grinning at him like a maniac. “Want a drag?” He asks. 

 

Craig accepts, although he’d much rather take another kiss. He’s not sure what it is about Tweek’s lips that’s so alluring, but he can’t stop going in for more. This is his first drag of nicotine this morning, smoke filling his senses and making him instantly loosen. Having a cute boy giving it to him only makes the high more sweet. After he blows out the cloud of smoke, he kisses the palm of Tweek’s hand. 

 

Craig hopes his mother is wrong. He hopes this thing with this boy is not just some rebellious teenage fling. He hopes this thing grows, evolves into something real and raw and sustainable, something they’ll be able to wholly call theirs. Together, Craig thinks the two of them could take on the world. This boy is safe, bold and fascinating, the kind of intelligent that sets Craig’s nerves ablaze and the sort of cute that has him itching for more. He’s warm, filled with life, even past his afflictions. The drugs are a problem. Craig is not unaware of this, but that’s a problem he can worry about later. As they grow together, move through life and all its twists hand in hand, Craig can be there as Tweek tackles his problems. Until then, they have this. This giddiness that comes with something so new and exciting, with something they both know could become something amazing. 

 

Entering school today might be weird. As a matter of fact, it might be weird until the day he graduates. This is a strange and massive bit of gossip Craig has managed to get himself into, he knows he’s bound to a year of hostility, knows he has a very long road ahead of him, but he also knows he can take it. He’s got Tweek, and his hands and his lips, his warmth and his bright. With Tweek by his side, doing nothing aside from being himself and adoring Craig, he knows he can do anything. 

Chapter Text

On May twenty-sixth, two weeks before school gets out and with finals rapidly approaching, Kyle Broflovski turns eighteen years old. He doesn’t think much of it, initially. His mother dotes on him a bit  when he comes downstairs for school that morning, but he’s too busy finishing up his last couple chapters of Crime and Punishment to pay her much mind. He took his AP Lit exam a week and a half ago, but he has a project due next week that’ll count for half of his final. Picking a book report on Crime and Punishment was the easiest option. He’s read it before, for pleasure back in eighth grade, when his interests in Russian literature and true crime had somehow meshed. Picking out religious imagery is easy, he hangs around Kenny enough to understand ramblings of God and angels, can pick out a Virgin Mary figure from a mile away. This report should be a breeze. 

 

He’s got a bit of calculus homework to do, too, but Kyle’s ignoring that for now. It’s not due until Friday, anyway, and he’ll definitely need Wendy’s help. Math doesn’t seem to come as easily as English and history. Kyle does okay in science, he can wrap his head around numbers so long as they have some form of application. But charting graphs for the sake of charting graphs? That goes right over his head. Wendy is really good at math, though, and she likes to incentivize Kyle with kisses, among other things. Kyle could probably scrape a B in calculus on his own, but with Wendy, he’s managed to reach top of their class. Having a tutor that’s willing to fuck him helps. It’s amazing what sex can do for the brain. 

 

With his mind focused on homework, Kyle nearly forgets that today is supposed to be special at all. Or, he would, if he wasn’t also thinking hard about Wendy, and the plans she has for them after school. He’s going over to her house today. She’s promised him a home cooked meal and a “study-session,” a movie, and maybe, if it doesn’t get too late, video games. Talking Wendy into playing games with him is like pulling teeth if he doesn’t play his cards right. She can tolerate Nintendo games, but anything aside from Animal Crossing and Mario Kart is completely off her radar. She finds GTA sexist, and she can’t figure out the controls for shooters, which kind of sucks. For the first month of their relationship, Kyle had had his heart set on getting her to play Call of Duty with him. 

 

His drive to school is kind to his senses, music turned up loud and windows rolled down. The warm, late spring air feels refreshing against his skin. Kyle’s morning drive on the highway is an integral part of his routine. He likes the open road and the time to himself, the twenty minutes of nothing but mind-numbing hyperpop. When Kyle first got his license late sophomore year, he’d sometimes carpool to school with Stan. They’d spend their mornings goofing around and shooting the shit. Stan would drink, heavily and at seven o’clock in the morning, and Kyle would keep his mouth shut. He regrets that now -sort of. Watching Stan’s fall from grace had been difficult, and infuriating. Sometimes, when he thinks too hard about it, or when he catches sight of Stan’s sad, drunk face in the halls for a moment too long, he’s overcome with guilt. A part of Kyle believes he could’ve done more to help. 

 

Then he remembers that Stan Marsh is the biggest douche he’s ever come across, and suddenly Kyle’s guilt is replaced with rage. Besides, if it weren’t for Stan and his terrible decisions, Kyle would’ve never gotten the opportunity to impress Wendy. So, in all honesty, good riddance. Kyle hasn’t spoken to Stan in months, not since his blow up at homecoming, which was sometime in early October. Seven months. That’s how long it’s been since they’ve uttered a single word to each other. Seven fucking months, and Kyle couldn’t be happier. 

 

Kenny is the first person to greet him when he arrives at school. It’s by pure coincidence. Kyle is just pulling into the parking lot as Kenny is walking by, headed toward wherever it is he’s going to sell drugs. He’s just getting out of the car as Kenny spies him, grinning like a goof and offering Kyle an obnoxious wave. He’s wearing a bright orange crop top, which looks more like a hoodie he cut in half, a black skater skirt, and black and white striped thigh-highs. Kyle gives the wardrobe choice a once over, brows pinched in the center. 

 

“Good morning, birthday boy!” Kenny calls as he gets out of the car. “Or, should I say, birthday man.” 

 

Kyle scoffs, slamming his driver’s side door shut. “You look like a prostitute.” He comments. Kenny grins. 

 

“What a funny coincidence. I’ve been whoring.” He shoots Kyle a wink. “Just name your price, handsome. It’s a birthday treat from me.” 

 

“Damn, tempting as that is,” Kyle says, rolling his eyes. “I don’t think my girlfriend would be very happy with me. Maybe you haven’t heard, but she’s had problems with boyfriends suddenly turning gay and cheating on her.” 

 

Kenny’s grin falters for a moment, but it’s so quick Kyle swears he could’ve imagined it. “Too bad.” He says, snapping his fingers. “And you looked so delicious today.” 

 

Ew , Kyle thinks. He’s going to choose to ignore that last comment. Sometimes when Kenny really gets flirting with him, Kyle has a hard time deciphering when it stops being a joke. “Guess you’ll have to figure out a different gift for me.” He says. Kenny grins wide. 

 

“What, you looking to bum some free weed off me?” He asks.

 

“I’m not asking for anything.” Kyle says. “If you want to give me free weed, though…” 

 

“I would,” Kenny says. “But I doubt you wanna go to class with ‘illicit substances’ on your person.” 

 

Kyle purses his lips. He’s never shown up to school high, nor with weed on his person, paranoid about drug dogs and then the inevitable call home to his mother. Kenny’s right, there. He doesn’t want to get caught. Kyle glances at his car, well aware that he could store his weed in the glove compartment, he’s done it before, but he’s already been struck with anxiety over potential repercussions. It would be just Kyle’s luck to get pulled over and searched today. He sighs. “Once again, Kenny, you’ve proven yourself smarter than I.” 

 

Kenny grins, his front tooth chipped. The crooked way his lips tilt shows off the gnarly gap between his incisor and his mollar. “Sorry, dude. But, hey, I was about to go smoke. Wanna join?” 

 

Kyle blinks. “Nicotine or weed?” He asks. “Or meth?” 

 

“Don’t be stupid, you know I’m a heroin guy.” Kenny says, a funny glint in his eyes that makes it hard to decipher whether or not he’s joking. 

 

“That’s not better.” Kyle says. “It actually might be worse.” Kenny snorts, turning on his heel and beginning to walk away, leaving Kyle rooted in his spot behind him. After a moment, he turns, glancing over his shoulder with a sparkle in his eyes. 

 

“You coming?” 

 

Kyle very rarely joins Kenny on his before school endeavors. He’s afraid of getting caught, which is silly. In the twelve years they’ve been going to school together, Kenny has never gotten caught. Today, he’s feeling brave. He reminds himself that there are only a few weeks left of school, all his AP exams are taken and all finals studies for. Most of his classes are watching movies or playing jeopardy until finals week, and even if he did get in some sort of trouble, he knows it wouldn’t be long lasting. In two weeks, he’ll be walking across a stage in a cap and gown, leaving this world of classes and teachers in his dust. He’s on track to be valedictorian, for God’s sake. Even if he did get caught, get his achievements revoked, that would just leave the position of valedictorian open for Wendy. She’d deserve it, she works equally as hard as Kyle, if not harder. 

 

He follows Kenny, allowing himself to be led to the alcoves. Kenny has already got a cigarette lit before they’re even halfway up the hill, the pungent scent of tobacco assaulting Kyle’s senses. He wrinkles his nose, covering his mouth with the back of his hand. Kenny smokes like a chimney. He always reeks of the stuff, leaving clouds of grim everywhere he goes, and in that regard, Kyle is used to the stench. What he’s not used to, however, is the smoke drifting into his eyes, traveling up his nose in a sharp burn. He’s never consumed a nicotine product, and he certainly doesn’t intend to ever start. 

 

The alcove is already occupied when they arrive. It takes Kyle a moment to make out the figures. One is terrifyingly tall, his back turned to the two of them, clad in an all blue ensemble and hunched over to a concerning degree. The other is hard to see, standing well behind the first figure and clutching tightly at the fabric of a blue t-shirt. All Kyle can make out are his hands and the toes of his converse. As they approach, neither of the figures pay them any mind, staying glued to their spots. Kyle realizes, pretty quickly, that they’re making out. The gross and incessant sounds of their lips smacking together being the first indicator. The second being the weird little squeaks and hums coming from the smaller boy, the sorts of noises that make Kyle’s cheeks flare. Next to him, Kenny grins and cups his hands around his mouth. 

 

“Either get a room or let me join!” He calls. The figures pause, breaking away with a loud smack of their lips as the tall one turns to greet them. 

 

Those cold eyes, that flat expression, run Kyle’s body with icicles, pricking at his skin. Craig is not looking at Kenny, but instead regarding Kyle with an unnerving gaze. From behind him, Tweek pokes his head out, hair messy and pupils blown, his lips kiss swollen and tinged red. He squeaks, jumping back to cower behind Craig, his arms wrapped tightly around his waist. The both of them have arrays of gnarly hickies lining the lengths of their necks, making Kyle wrinkle his nose at the sight. Craig won’t stop fucking staring at him, cold, calculating -it’s fucking chilling. Kyle wants to yell at him. 

 

What are you looking at, asshole? What the fuck do you think you’re looking at?

 

After a moment, Craig’s eyes fall to Kenny, who beams up at him. Craig sighs, heavily, and turns to press a final peck to Tweek’s lips, which turns into two and then three. From what Kyle can observe, it’s Tweek who keeps going in for more. 

 

“This better be good, McCormick.” Craig says, not bothering to lift his eyes from Tweek’s face. He sounds bored and slightly annoyed. 

 

Kenny grins, throwing his backpack off his shoulders to dig around in the front pocket. After a moment of searching, he pulls out a ziplock bag, containing two fat pre-rolls. Kyle’s mouth waters when he sees them. He wishes, desperately, that they were not about to start their school day. Kenny takes one, placing it between his teeth and sparking it to life. Whatever weed Kenny’s got on him is pungent, smacking Kyle in the face with the stench. If a teacher came by, they’d be screwed. Kenny doesn’t seem to care, puffing at his joint with a lazy grin on his face. He passes it to Craig, who accepts easily and, in turn, passes to Tweek. Tweek hogs it for a moment, smoking through it like it’s a cigarette. Kyle watches the three of them in silence, unsure of what to do with himself. After a moment, Tweek tries to pass him the joint. 

 

“Uh, no thanks.” He says. Tweek stares at him with wide, unnerving eyes. That gaze sets Kyle on edge. 

 

“Oh,” Tweek says, rolling his eyes. He takes another hit before turning to Kenny. “Why did you bring a fucking - gah!” Tweek pauses, jittering for a moment in his place. “Narc?”

 

“I’m not a narc !” Kyle argues. Tweek blinks at him, the sheer size of his eyes making Kyle uncomfortable. 

 

“So you’re a pussy.” He says. 

 

“Wha- no! ” Kyle argues. Craig laughs.

 

“He just doesn’t believe in fun, babe.” He mutters, as if Kyle isn’t right there and can’t hear everything he’s saying. 

 

“I’m plenty fun!” Kyle argues, which even he can admit does not make him sound particularly fun. He squeezes his eyes shut, taking a deep breath. “I smoke, just not at school.” 

 

Tweek turns to Craig. “So, he’s a pussy.” 

 

Fuck,” Kyle says. “I’m not a fucking pussy!” Tweek grins like a maniac, attempting to pass the joint to Kyle once more.

 

“Take the - hnng- joint then, pussy boy.” He says.  Kyle sours. This is literally peer pressure, all those after school specials were right. 

 

“You don’t have to take it, dude.” Kenny interjects. “Don’t let them get to you.” 

 

Tweek steals another puff before passing the joint to Kenny. “Pussy, pussy, pussy!” He calls, face split in a massive grin. Next to him, Craig is laughing. Despite the haughty expression set on Kyle’s face, neither of them seem particularly deterred. 

 

“Oh, God !” Kyle whines, tipping his head back and throwing his hands up in the air. “Why are you assholes so intent on getting me high?” 

 

“Why not?” Craig asks, blowing a cloud of smoke in Kyle’s direction, making him cringe. He does his best in fanning the smoke away from his face, fixing Craig with a nasty glare. “You got something important to be doing or something?” 

 

No, Kyle certainly does not have anything important to be doing. He has homeroom, which is a snooze fest, and then English, where he’s already finished his book, followed by government, calculus, and then he can go home. If there were ever a day for Kyle to go to class high, this would be it. He’s tempted to give in, but fear of potential trouble holds him back. Teachers and faculty members are scary enough, but Kyle is also worried about his girlfriend finding out. Wendy is not a prude when it comes to substance use, but she and Kyle agree that there’s a time and a place. Quite obviously, Wendy takes issue with excessive substance abuse. It was half the reason her last relationship ended. The other half is currently calling Kyle a pussy. 

 

“That doesn’t matter.” He says. “I said I’m good. Back off, dude.” He thinks he sounds kind of snappish, judging by the disgruntled look on Craig’s face. Kyle takes a moment to study him, hunched shoulders, pinched brows, his arm thrown protectively around Tweek’s waist. The lines of acne running along his cheekbones are flaring up and he has heavy lines set in his forehead. Those cold gray eyes set Kyle on edge. 

 

Of all the boys to play experiment with, Kyle will never understand why Stan chose him. He’s nothing close to pretty, or cute, or hot, or anything akin to how Stan would describe his taste in women. As far as Kyle’s aware, Stan likes pretty, dark haired girls that are shorter than him. When Kyle had initially learned that Stan likes boys, he had expected his side-whore to be a cutesy little fem boy type, like Butters. Craig Tucker would have to be the exact opposite of a cutesy fem boy. He’s not handsome like a man, either. He could be, maybe, if he did something about his skin and wiped that sneer off his face. He has solid enough foundation beneath his grime. Kyle is envious of the curve of his jaw and his pointed cheekbones, the intense way his eyes sit on his face. But he’s scrawny, his posture is shit, and Kyle can smell him from here. He looks like a bitch, snooty and holier-than-thou. His damn height makes him too tall to try and take a swing at, which Kyle finds infuriating. Kyle is not short by any means. He’s six-one (and a half , dammit!), which makes him taller than Kenny and Tweek. He’s taller than Stan, too (by half a fucking inch, Stan would argue). Kyle is taller than most people. Just not Craig Tucker. 

 

“Pussy!” Tweek chirps again, making Craig crack a grin. 

 

“Shut your fucking mouth!” Kyle snaps. Kenny clicks his tongue, chuckling under his breath. 

 

“See, dude, you totally let them rile you up.” He gestures to Craig and Tweek, who are grinning between themselves. Kyle sours. 

 

“Was that the goal?” He asks, addressing them. 

 

“Duh,” Kenny responds. “These two chase misery like it’s fucking heroin.” 

 

Kyle wholeheartedly believes that. There’s a very particular incident of misery he can pinpoint that Craig Tucker had been the center of. 

 

“Give me my joint back, assholes.” Kenny says. Tweeks sucks on the end of the joint for a moment, Kyle watching in fascination as the cherry burns out. A large billow of smoke pools into the sky. Tweek drops the filter to the ground, stomping it out with the bottom of his shoe. Kyle thinks he might’ve been trying for a shrug, but his shoulders spasm and twitch erratically. 

 

“Oops.” He says, face cracking in a grin. “Sorry, it’s gone.” 

 

Kenny rolls his eyes, lighting his second joint. He leans against the wall of the alcove, gaze directed toward the sky. 

 

“I’ve been talking to Stan again.” Kenny says, filling the air with thick waves of tension. Every muscle in Kyle’s body tenses. Usually, Kenny knows better than to bring up Stan. In the months following their end, Kenny had avoided him like the plague. Kyle had thought that was smart of him. Kenny is accident prone and reckless, weakened by drugs and his own self-induced traumas. If Stan found out that he was the one who started this, who came to Kyle in the middle of the homecoming dance, a panicked look in his eyes as he uttered the words, “Dude, I have to tell you something,”  Stan would break him in half, plain and simple. 

 

The looks sprawled across both Craig and Tweek’s faces are sour upon mention of Stan. Craig’s hands are balled at his sides, and Tweek looks downright murderous. “Don’t.” Craig says. His voice is low, gruff and smoke-filled. 

 

“Dude, c’mon-“ Kenny starts. Craig is quick to cut him off. 

 

“I can’t believe that asshole hasn’t killed himself yet. I was really hoping that he would fucking kill himself.” He continues, which makes Kyle tense. He’s sure Craig has some weird feelings in regards to Stan, but to go as far as to hope for his death seems… harsh. Kyle remembers Craig approaching him not long after homecoming, when things had been fresh and open, reeking of infection. Seeing Stan around at that point, sad and quiet with his tail tucked between his legs, had made Kyle want to break down and cry. Craig, however, had been the opposite, showing up to school everyday seething and looking for a fight. Kyle had never seen it before, had never witnessed Craig break out into aggression, and it scared the shit out of him. 

 

“Stop looking at me like I’m gonna kill you.” Craig had said, holding his hands out in front of himself. Kyle had been trying to see if his eyes looked weird, if he was fidgeting or sniffing. Kenny had a theory that Craig’s new boyfriend was supplying him with stimulants, and the aggression made Kyle believe it. Craig looked normal, though, if not a bit extra tense. “I just wanted to say thanks.” 

 

Kyle had raised his brow, looking Craig up and down. He had a gnarly hickey on the side of his neck, a bruise in the shape of teeth marks. Kyle stared at it for a moment, unsure, at the time, of how Craig had gotten that mark. Obviously, it had been given to him by Tweek, Kyle knows that now. But at the time, he’d been hesitant, unsure of the nature of Craig and Stan’s relationship. Just because Craig had a new boyfriend didn’t mean he wasn’t still sleeping around. If he wasn’t above fucking up Wendys relationship, why would he be above fucking up his own? 

 

“For what?” Kyle asked. 

 

“For ruining Stan’s life so I don’t have to.” Craig had paused, the corners of his lips twitching upward. The mix of those cold, expressionless eyes and that nasty smirk made him look fucking evil. “Hilarious move, getting with his ex. That was literally his worst fear.”  

 

The comment about Wendy had Kyle burning with shame. He didn’t do that to hurt Stan. He would never use Wendy like that, but to this day, he’s certain that’s how Stan sees it. Regardless, the whole conversation left Kyle feeling weird. Maybe their history leaves Kyle soft on Stan, but he can’t get behind the idea that he deserves to suffer and die. What he needs is to really sit and think about his actions. And some fucking rehab, unless he wants his liver to fail. At least Craig’s blatant, seething hatred let Kyle know he for sure was not, and is not, still sleeping with Stan. 

 

“That’s not funny.” Kyle says. He can withstand a lot of shit talk when it comes to Stan, but wishing for his death is too fucking far. “Suicide is serious, dude.” 

 

Craig fixes him with a look, opening his mouth to speak when he’s cut off by Tweek huffing heavily, his eye spasming. “Who cares, fuck Stan. I - hnng- can’t be here for this.” He announces, lacing his hand in Craig’s and tugging him away. A smile graces Craig’s lips as he happily follows behind. “Let’s go makeout somewhere.” Tweek says loudly. 

 

Kyle isn’t entirely sure, but he swears he can hear Craig mutter 

 

“Just makeout? ” 

 

Gross. Kyle wrinkles his nose, his mouth tasting bitter. Seriously, do the meth scabs turn him on? Kyle must be missing something here. 

 

“Why are you talking to Stan again?” He asks, once he and Kenny are alone. 

 

Kenny shrugs. “He seemed lonely. Everyone needs a friend sometimes.” 

 

“Dude,” Kyle says, staring at him in disbelief. “You know you’re part of the reason he’s so lonely, right?”

 

Kenny stays quiet for a moment, eyes focused on a spot just above Kyle’s head. “I know.” He says, voice low and hoarse. He takes a long drag off his joint. “I regret it, like, everyday.” 

 

Kyle isn’t sure how to respond to that. Not a day goes by where he finds himself wishing Kenny had never opened his mouth in the first place. For the past seven months, Kyle has been nothing but grateful for Kenny’s honesty. How he obtained the information he did, Kyle still isn’t sure, but he never once doubted it. Before homecoming had occurred, Kyle had had suspicions of his own. It’s not like Stan is particularly smart or subtle. His sudden need to be around Craig Tucker directly after his mishap at Token’s party had been telling enough. His blatant disregard of Wendy was simply the cherry on top of the shit cake. What had kept Kyle from calling him out on his own was the worry. Regardless of his short comings, Kyle had always been concerned for Stan’s safety. The drinking made him damn near unbearable, but the sadness in his eyes caused Kyle to take pity on the poor bastard. Sad people and addicts make mistakes, Kyle would continue to remind himself. The alcohol and the depression was fucking with his head, surely Stan would be bound to get a grip at some point. That’s what Kyle had wanted to believe. Now, seven months later, Stan’s addiction and his sadness have only seemed to get worse. 

 

“Hey, dude, I have a question.” Kenny continues. “Don’t get pissy.” 

 

Kyle raises a brow. “No promises.” 

 

Kenny huffs out a laugh. “Did you tell Wendy about Stan so you could be her shoulder to cry on?” 

 

Upon hearing this, Kyle’s first instinct is to start throwing things. The first four months Of his relationship with Wendy, Kenny had been dead silent about it. He acted as if it had always been like this, like Stan had never existed. Once, sometime around March, he’d crawled through Kyle’s window spun out of his mind, muttering nonsense about the ancient beings. He looked thin and there were bumps on his face, obviously sores. This had been the first time Kyle had ever seen Kenny with sores. The topic of his drug use was by no means a secret, but Kenny could tight-lipped about what all he’s tried and what all he's on. Kyle’s learned to guess. He’s familiar with what weed and acid look like, and decent enough at picking out when Kenny’s coked out. This, however, Kyle had never seen before. 

 

“He was just a casualty, I wasn’t trying to fuck his life up.” Kenny had muttered. “Just a casualty, but he got hurt the worst.” 

 

Kyle hadn’t any clue what he was talking about. He watched as Kenny threaded his fingers through his hair, eyes wide and teeth bared. He looked ready to start hyperventilating. “Why don’t we get you some water?” Kyle had suggested. 

 

“I wasn’t trying to do it!” Kenny yelled, making Kyle panic and shush him. Instantly, Kenny hunched in on himself, shushing softly. “I fucked up, Kyle, I fucked with everything. I didn’t mean to!” 

 

Dude, just sit down, okay? You’re freaking me out.” Kyle said. Kenny began pacing back and forth. 

 

“I was trying to fuck with Tweek, Stan just got in the way. Now he’s everywhere, plotting. It’s my fault!” Kenny rambled. A nervous belt of laughter escaped him, fingers threaded through his hair. It was then that he grabbed Kyle by the shoulders, shook him, and whispered, “What if Stan catches me?” 

 

The memories after that are kind of hazy. He thinks Kenny may have passed out on the floor, but he wasn’t there when Kyle woke up the next morning. He had showed up to school that day and his hair was clean, which was weird. Kyle knew for a fact Kenny’s water had been shut off for days. If it hadn't been for the mud tracks in the shapes of Kenny’s sneakers lining his room, Kyle would’ve assumed the whole ordeal was a dream. 

 

Ever since then, Kenny’s been more bold. It started with memories, reminiscing on the things the three of them used to get themselves up to years ago. That then transitioned to probing questions, a sudden interest in Kyle’s relationship with Stan leading up to his fall. There was once he had randomly blurted, 

 

“Isn’t it weird that all three of us are bi? What were the odds? I wonder if Cartman’s bi, too.” 

 

Now, apparently, Kenny is interested in where Wendy lies in all this, and Kyle’s intentions with her. Which isn’t entirely unfair. Look -Kyle didn’t mean to wiggle his way between them. It’s not like he’d set out to break them up, only to swoop in and steal his best friend’s girl. It’s just that he’s always kind of thought Wendy is cute, and she’s blindingly intelligent, and filled with personality. The second she wasn’t actually dating Stan anymore, things just sort of happened. 

 

So he takes a deep breath and allows his rage to settle. It’s difficult. Kyle does not appreciate having his character prodded at, and he’s still on edge from having to look at Craig Tucker’s fucking face. The way Kenny is staring at him has him all kinds of antsy. Finally, in place of answering Kenny’s question, he asks, “How long have you been talking to Stan?” 

 

Kenny raises his brows. “Since March.” He answers. 

 

“Since - what? ” Kyle demands. Kenny starts whistling awkwardly, his fingers trembling ever so slightly. “You’ve been talking to him for two - no - almost three months, and you didn’t tell me?” 

 

Kenny whistles low, then makes an explosion sound with his mouth. He pulls his hood up, tightening it around his face as far as it will go. “Yeah.” He mutters, weakly. 

 

Dude!” Kyle exclaims. Kenny flinches, like he’s been struck. 

 

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” he mutters. “I wasn’t supposed to interfere, She warned me, dude! She said don’t use your friends as tools for revenge, word for fucking word, but I didn’t listen! Now I've killed the timeline.” 

 

Kyle stares at him, arms crossed over his chest. He fully believes that Kenny believes he’s communing with God. Drugs and trauma are bound to make a person believe anything. Trying to convince Kenny his delusions are just that, delusions, is exhausting and not worth the fight. Kyle knows he’d never win. He sighs. “Revenge?” 

 

He watches as Kenny shrinks in on himself, pressing his back against the alcove walls and sinking to his knees. He hangs his head, arms crossed over his chest. “Tweek stole a ton of stuff from me.” He mutters. “I could tell he was into Craig, and I think anyone with eyes could see Stan was, too, so I…” Kenny trails off, shifting to bring his knees close to his chest. “Did something bad and selfish and fucked everything up.” 

 

Kyle’s not really sure where this is coming from, or what it’s all about, but he can make a guess. He assumes stuff means crack, or whatever Tweek’s drug of choice is, which probably put Kenny in the hole, money-wise, and got him a beating from his parents. If Kyle were in that position, he’d probably be eager for a bit of payback, too. Although, messing with people’s love and social lives is a new move for Kenny. The last time someone stole drugs from him, Kenny just smeared a bunch of shit on their car. His methods of payback are rarely ever convoluted, which is probably why he’s feeling like this blew up in his face. That, and whatever he was trying probably didn’t work. Although Kyle can’t know Kenny’s main goal for certain, he can assume it had something to do with driving a wedge between Tweek and Craig. Quite obviously, that didn’t happen. Instead, Kenny overshot his trajectory and struck down Stan, who, stupidly, had also been caught up in the bullshit.  

 

“Why did it have to be Stan!” Kenny groans, as if he’d been reading Kyle’s mind. “I wish it had been anyone but Stan. 

 

“Yeah, I get what you mean.” Kyle says. He sighs. “Kenny, look, I get that you miss him, I miss him, too. Like, the him he was before he turned into a douche.” 

 

Kenny laughs. “He is kind of a douche.” He mutters. 

 

“Yeah, exactly.” Kyle says. “That’s the problem. Stan used to be the coolest person ever, but that part of him died the second he touched Craig Tucker’s dick. It’s better to just move on.” 

 

Kenny stays silent for a second. He flicks ash off the end of his joint, sighing heavily. “I really wish that were true.” 

 

As Kyle is forced to wander through the halls of his school, he cannot get Kenny’s words out of his head. The sullen tone and the panic had set him on edge, coursing through him in waves of ice cold worry. A part of Kyle wonders if Kenny is on to something, if this drama with Stan got blown way out of proportion. Maybe it really wasn’t supposed to be like this. 

 

Kyle would be lying if he said he didn’t miss him. As a matter of fact, Kyle would be lying if he said he didn’t feel utterly betrayed by him. As much as he would like to pretend that the source of his betrayal is for Wendy’s sake, and Wendy’s sake alone, that’s not the entire truth. Stan took his trust and snuffed it out like it was nothing. Bitterness lives laced in Kyle’s blood, anger set deep in his bones. Stan hurt Wendy, which totally blows, but he also hurt him. Neither one of them deserve that. Stan’s presence in their lives had lived like a parasite, keeping them pulled apart and miserable, hanging onto false hope for betterment. When Kyle had befriended Stan, way back in preschool, he had signed up for companionship, not a chore. He had been looking for someone he could trust and love, not someone constantly looking to go behind his back in a pathetic attempt to fuck up his own life. After all that care and energy he’d put into Stan, the kind that came at his own expense, he feels like he got thrown to the dirt. Kyle had not informed Wendy of Stan’s mishaps in an attempt to swoop in and steal her for himself. He’d done it out of blind anger, out of a need for justice for himself. 

 

Why Craig Tucker? Why not Kenny? They’ve been friends with Kenny for as long as they’ve been friends with each other. He’s incredibly sexually promiscuous, experienced, and he’ll fuck anything that can give consent. He likes to wear skirts and makeup, like a girl, and he’s perfectly willing to be used as gay experimentation. Or Butters. Stan could’ve easily convinced Butters to fuck him. Sure, his voice can get grating after a while, but his face is oddly feminine and he’s small, like a girl. Honest to God, Kyle can’t wrap his head around why Stan didn’t approach him first. Surely he would’ve been a better fuckbuddy than Craig Tucker, right? He would have initially said no and told Stan to talk to his girlfriend, but maybe, after Stan either dumped Wendy or got her okay to sleep around, Kyle would have been open to the idea. In the time he’s been with Wendy, he’s learned that she’s reasonable about most everything. 

 

“You can do stuff with boys, if you want. Just ask me first.” 

 

Kyle has yet to take her up on that offer. It comes with the catch that Wendy is allowed to fool around with other boys, too, which makes Kyle kind of uncomfortable. He knows that’s a douche move, but he can’t help it. He’s a serial monogamist by nature. Besides, there’s nothing a boy can offer him that Wendy cannot, but maybe if Stan hadn’t been a moron, he would’ve gotten the same deal. Instead, he decided to go behind her back and stick his dick in Craig Tucker, over Kenny or Butters or Kyle himself. Gross. 

 

It’s that that reminds Kyle Stan deserves this, has earned his social exile, his fate of drinking alone until his liver finally gives out. He’s not Kyle’s problem anymore. He hasn’t been Kyle’s problem for seven months, and he will never have to be Kyle’s problem again. 

 

The school day passes by uneventfully. Sometime after third period, Wendy surprises him with a wrapped gift and a large iced coffee. Two balloons are tied to the coffee cup, pink sparkly ones that read Birthday Gal in bold, glittery lettering. 

 

“Don’t open it until you get home!” She says. She looks both deadly serious and like she’s ready to burst out of her seat with excitement. Kyle grins, leaning down to offer her a peck on the lips. The coffee tastes fucking delicious, chocolately and creamy with mountains of whipped cream on top. Kyle doesn’t drink much coffee. He prefers his caffeine in forms of energy drinks, but Wendy’s thoughtfulness touches him. 

 

“You’re the fucking best, dude.” He says, grinning wide. Wendy beams up at him, rocking forward onto the balls of her feet. She offers him a chaste kiss, cupping Kyle’s cheek in the palm of her hand. 

 

“Thanks, dude, I know.” She says. “You’re the fucking best, too. Still wanna come over tonight?” 

 

“Of course.” Kyle says. “Why wouldn’t I?” 

 

Wendy pauses for a moment, staring up at him with big doe eyes and a sweet smile gracing her lips. She shrugs. “Just checking. Does six-thirty sound good?” 

 

“Sounds perfect.” Kyle says. He kisses her goodbye, hand pressed flat to the small of her back. 

 

The first thing Kyle does when he gets home, a quarter till one, is play Call of Duty. He wishes he were stoned, he’s much better at shooters when he’s high, but smoking flower in his parents house is a sin punishable by death. He misses his dab pen. He hasn’t gotten a new one since he lost his Stizzy at the bottom of Token’s pool, and he’s not an experienced enough stoner to start taking dabs. He doesn’t have a rig and he certainly does not trust whatever wax Kenny sells. The one time Kyle was coerced into taking dabs, they had tasted like rat poison and made his lungs feel inflamed. Afterward, Kyle swore up and down that he would not be trying that again. 

 

Wendy’s present is still sitting in his bed, wrapped neatly in dark green paper and tied with gold ribbon. Obviously, Kyle is interested in opening it, but as of right now, he only has video games on the mind. His headset is loud today, filled with twelve year olds and angry grown men. A lot of them are screaming slurs into the mic, which is annoying at best. Three hours in, it’s downright tiresome. Kyle gives up eventually, sick of listening to prepubescent voices threatening to “gas all kikes.” With the game off, he turns in his computer chair, eyes redirecting to Wendy’s present. She had told him to wait until he got home, but Kyle’s been considering waiting until he goes to her house, so she can see his reaction when he opens it. 

 

He wonders if that’s a romantic gesture or if it’s completely stupid. Should he listen to his girlfriend or not? Do as she's asked, or disregard her wishes because he assumes what’s best? When Kyle puts it like that, he kind of sounds like a chauvinist. He sighs, hovering over the gift like it’s a time bomb. Next to it, his phone starts buzzing, lighting up with a number he doesn’t have saved. At first, Kyle assumes it’s a spam call, but it’s graced with a Park County area code. Kyle pinched his brows, staring at the screen until the call passes, eventually fading to black. When Kyle picks up his phone, it starts vibrating again, lighting up with the same number. 

 

“Hello?” Kyle answers. 

 

“Holy shit, hey dude!” Greets the voice on the other end, so familiar it makes Kyle’s blood run cold. “I thought you would’ve had me blocked, I can’t believe this worked. It’s Stan, by the way. In case you didn’t-“ 

 

“I know who you are, Stan.” Kyle interrupts. “You’re slurring.” 

 

On the other end of the line, Stan laughs. He sounds staticky, far away. Kyle can hardly believe this is real. “Yeah, totally, hey how many drinks do you think it’ll take to go into liver failure?” 

 

“I’m not helping you kill yourself.” Kyle responds. He pinches the center of his forehead, eyes squeezed shut. “Why did you call me?” 

 

Stan hiccups. It disrupts their connection, making Kyle wince. He holds the phone away from his ear, like it’ll burn him. “To say happy birthday, dude! I wouldn’t forget.” 

 

For a moment, Kyle is tempted to hang up, and then chuck his phone through the wall. He really should change his number, so shit like this can’t happen. Stan must take his silence as cue to continue. He hums, muttering something Kyle can’t quite make out. He needs to hang up. If he doesn’t hang up now, he’s only going to get angry. 

 

“Also, I wanted to apologize.” Stan says, throwing Kyle off guard. He taps his foot against the floor, thrumming with energy of some type. 

 

“This has gotta be fucking good.” Kyle says, rolling his eyes. He doesn’t want to hear Stan’s apologies. He’s seven months too late for that. Stan blows a raspberry, and then burps. It’s loud, and gross, kind of wet at the end, like it came with bile. 

 

“I’ve been thinking a lot, you know?” Stan says. “And I’m a real piece of shit. I mean, I knew that, but I didn’t really know that until my actions had consequences. Like, I fucked up really bad dude.” 

 

Yeah, he really did. Kyle doesn’t say this, though. Instead, he says, “You owe this to Wendy more than me.” 

 

“No, listen.” Stan says. “I know, and I’ll talk to her if she wants to listen, but I owe you something, too. We used to be so fucking tight, dude, like inseparable and shit. And something happened in me that I didn’t understand for so long, but it made me push you away. I got so freaked out and just stopped thinking. I did anything I could to run away from how I was feeling, and it led to the coolest person that’s ever entered my life getting hurt.” 

 

“...Wendy?” Kyle asks. 

 

You.” Stan replies. “Seriously, man, listen to me. I’m fucking speaking from the heart, here.” 

 

“I’m listening, Stan.” Kyle says, voice soft. Stan shudders out a sigh. 

 

“Do you want to know why I started fucking around with Craig Tucker?” He asks. “Because it sure as shit wasn’t because I wanted him.” 

 

“Why?” Kyle asks. He feels chills break out across his skin, the built up curiosity suddenly burning holes through him, bursting out like explosions. 

 

“I was, what’s that word? Uh,” Stan pauses, hiccups, and starts again. “Projecting! Yeah. I was unhappy in my relationship, and I should’ve had the balls to call it quits way sooner, and I was crushing on someone, a boy, that I thought I could never have. Craig was the best option. If I was fucked up enough, it didn’t matter whose face was attached to the body. I always just imagined-“ Stan stops, swallowing audibly. 

 

“Me?” Kyle asks, realization smacking into him like a semi truck. 

 

“Yeah.” Stan says. “You. It was always you. I wanted you so bad but I was a coward about it and just ended up ruining everything.” 

 

“Jesus,” Kyle mutters. 

 

“I wish I’d been more self aware.” Stan says. “If I could go back, I would do everything differently.” 

 

Kyle thinks of Kenny and, by extension, God, timelines, and whether or not they truly are trapped in the right one. “It’s too late now, dude. Shit hit the fan and now we’re not even friends.” 

 

“Dude, I know. It totally blows.” Stan sighs heavily. “But if we could go back in time, I would’ve just told you I liked you at Token’s party. Save the drama.” 

 

“That would’ve been smart.” Kyle agrees. 

 

“What would you have said? If I had?” Stan asks. Kyle pauses, tongue in cheek. 

 

“I don’t know.” He says. He glances down at Wendy’s present, untouched and wrapped up beautifully. Who knows what he would’ve done seven months ago? Kyle only knows who is now, and now things have complicated themselves so much, Kyle’s still uncertain if he ever wants to see Stan’s face again. Listening to his voice is torturous enough, making bile rise in the back of his throat. “I can’t really be thinking about that stuff.” 

 

“Yeah.” Stan says. “I get it, you’re happy now. I’m happy for you, dude. It hurt at first. Like, a lot, I felt like I was being betrayed. Do you know how many times I tried to drink myself to death? I had to go to the hospital twice to detox. I gotta stop drinking, dude, it’s gotten so bad.” 

 

“You say, drunk.” Kyle interjects. By now, Stan is just rambling. Kyle can’t listen to this, it’s too painful. Now he has liability if Stan dies, like he could’ve done something about it. “This is why I can’t talk to you anymore, dude. You’re a wreck, like, all the time.” 

 

“I should nut up.” Stan says. “But I won’t. I’m probably going to die like this. You’re smart, not talking to me. Save yourself some trouble. All I’m good at is hurting people.” 

 

“Stop throwing yourself a pity party, dude.” Kyle says. “You’re not a bad person, you're sick. Alcoholism and depression are diseases. You don’t need to distance yourself from everything and you don’t need to die. What you need is help.” 

 

“I know.” Stan says quietly. Silence stretches between them, thick with tension. Kyle sucks a deep breath in through his teeth. 

 

“Is that all?” He asks. 

 

“Yeah.” Stan says. “That’s all.” 

 

“Well,” Kyle says, staring into a spot on his carpet like it’s a portal to another dimension. “Thanks for calling, I guess, and wishing me happy birthday.” 

 

“Of course, dude.” Stan says. “You don’t have to do anything with this knowledge, but I never stopped loving you.” 

 

“Right.” Kyle says, his palms growing sweaty. “I'm going to New Haven for college in September.” 

 

“Yale?” Stan asks. “That’s pretty far.” 

 

“Yeah, well,” Kyle starts. He clears his throat. “Maybe this summer, if you’re not dead, we can hang out. Or whatever. Before I leave for good.” 

 

On the other end of the line, Stan laughs. “Seriously?” He asks. Kyle sighs. 

 

“I dunno, dude. Right now, you can’t even apologize to me without being piss drunk. But maybe in the future, sometime.” He says 

 

 “I’d like that a lot, dude.” Stan says “I guess I’ll talk to you sometime in the future. If I’m not dead.” 

 

Once the call ends, Kyle throws his phone on the bed, his eyes redirecting to Wendy’s present. He rips open the wrapping paper, creating a mess amongst his covers. Inside the box is a multitude of packing peanuts. There’s a note sitting on top, written in sparkly purple pen and big looping letters. 

 

Dear Kyle, 

 

Happy Birthday! I love you more than words could ever describe. Thank you for being my best friend and thank you for loving me wholly. You deserve the world. 

 

PS: Bring the “special treats” with you tonight! They’re 50 milligrams each. 

 

Kyle smiles reading it. Tapped to the back of the note is a small ziplock bag with two gummy candies inside, no doubt THC infused. That slippery bitch, no wonder she told Kyle to open this when he got home. She must’ve known he'd be too pussy to accept if he’d known he was carrying weed at school. He curses himself for not accepting Kenny’s present, or smoking that joint with him behind the alcoves. Fifty milligrams seems excessive. Kyle has never taken an edible stronger than thirty. He has no clue where Wendy’s tolerance lies or where she got these, but he’s learned to never doubt her plans. Somehow, she always seems to know what she’s doing. 

 

Buried under the packing peanuts is a framed picture of them, posed in front of the mountains just as the sun is setting. They’re facing each other, Kyle’s arms looped around her waist with their foreheads pressed together. The both of them have massive smiles sprawled across their faces. Something tugs deep in Kyle’s chest, forcing a grin out of him. 

 

Had Stan confessed his feelings a long time ago, long before Wendy had stumbled into Kyle’s life and filled it to the brim with love and happiness, he’s not sure where he would’ve ended up. Life is weird like that, he thinks. Every decision is made at a crossroads, every action having consequences. The person Kyle was at the beginning of the school year is not who he is now. That version of himself could’ve easily fallen in love with his best friend, but that’s not the version that exists now. This Kyle has a girlfriend, and he loves her more than words could ever describe. 

 

God, he can’t wait to get high tonight. 

Chapter Text

Blinding rays of sunshine peak through shitty, beat up blinds, crooked on their hinges, broken, and smothered with dust. The room is small. The whole studio apartment is small, six hundred square feet of clutter. A full sized bed lays pressed up against the farthest wall, opposite of the east window. Next to it stands a nightstand, cheap and built lopsided. The top is cluttered with dirty cups, fidget toys, various art supplies, and empty prescription bottles, shining amidst the rays of the sun. Multitudes of psychedelic tapestries, posters, and canvases line the walls, pinned with thumbtacks, all of them obtained years ago through theft.

 

(“Borrowing,” the drugs would call it. “It’s just borrowing.”) 

 

Up against the east wall lays a beat up green sofa, covered with colorful throw pillows and fleece blankets. Across from it is a small, fourteen inch TV laying on top of a ring-stained coffee table. A plethora of coffee mugs, dirty bowls, and tupperware are stacked on top of the table, strategically placed to not block the view of the screen. A few feet from the foot of the bed stands an empty easel and a little wooden stool, a mixing palette and a mason jar full of dirty paint brushes laying on the floor. In the far corner of the apartment stands a desk, lined with plants, tea candles, a tub of kosher salt, jars of bay leaves, and a multitude of crystals. Various types of quartz, mostly. They shine in the rays of the morning light, positioned perfectly for the sun to catch their hues. 

 

The sunlight is what rouses Tweek from his sleep, shining directly into his eyes and making him groan. He rolls over onto his back, yawning widely and stretching his arms over his head. Above him, the textured ceiling looks bleary and far away. He rubs the sleep out of his eyes, taking a deep, slow breath in. Sleep is a rare occurrence, between work and Etsy orders and insomnia. When he has a day off, and when his brain is finally able to get some rest, he tries to soak up as much of it as he can. He turns to his side, facing his back toward the sunlight, and bats his hand at the nightstand. His fingers curl around his phone, lifting his head off the pillow just far enough to check the time. It’s six-thirty in the morning, meaning Tweek got two and a half hours of sleep last night. 

 

The inside of his throat tastes like ash, mucus build-up making it near impossible to breathe. He clears his throat, then coughs, a glob of flem ejecting itself from his chest and settling over his tongue. Throwing the covers off his body, Tweek walks to the bathroom and spits the loogie into the sink. It’s a dark yellow, like dehydrated piss, making Tweek wrinkle his nose. He turns the water on, watching as nasty yellow fluid swirls down the drain. Gross things come out of his body on the regular. It’s what comes out of a pack a day smoking habit and eleven and a half years of meth abuse. 

 

Speaking of cigarettes, Tweek needs one. He pokes his head out of the bathroom door, scanning the floor for a t-shirt. He’s wearing flannel pajama bottoms, but that’s it. Although he’s gained a considerable amount of healthy weight since he’s been clean, the barrel of his chest is still too skinny for comfort. He used to go out shirtless all the time, whether it be stepping outside for a smoke, running errands, or buying drugs, but that was before rehab. He’d be too thwacked out of his mind to notice, staying up for days on end without food or water, running around sketchy neighborhoods in just his underwear in a desperate search for his next fix. 

 

He spots a white t-shirt right next to his nightstand, moving to quickly snatch it up and throw it over his torso. Owner of a KICKASS labradoodle, it reads in bold red lettering. A shitty clip art picture of a labradoodle is pasted on the bottom, it’s tongue peeking out and it’s eyes soulless. Tweek does not own a dog. He’s never owned a dog and he never intends to; he’s a cat person. The t-shirt was a thrift store find, from back when he was nineteen and homeless. He had been coming down from a bender, the crash of epic proportions. He had entered some Goodwill in Denver, searching for fresh underwear and a new spoon. His old one had recently broken in half, and Tweek had been desperate to shoot up, or else the bugs would come back. At that point in time, the bugs coming back was not an option. Tweek had already picked his face to shit and he was getting dope sick, bugs would only make the shakes worse. He didn’t end up leaving with a spoon or underwear, only the stupid labradoodle t-shirt, buried deep in the depths of his backpack right along side every other one of his possessions. Stealing when he was high was easy, but all strung out and coming down from a bender had Tweek so suddenly paranoid of authority that he hopped on the next bus out of Denver, never to return. 

 

While he’s already outside to smoke, Tweek decides to take a walk to the coffee shop down the street. It’s about half a mile away, and completely shit, but the fresh air feels nice on his senses. It’s late August, partially cloudy and just warm enough for Tweek to walk comfortably in his t-shirt and his pajama bottoms. A pair of green flip-flops rest on his feet. Halfway to the coffee shop, a black van drives by, suspiciously slowly. The windows are tinted, making it impossible for Tweek to peek inside, and the driver looks terrifying in his brimmed cap and his sunglasses. Tweek stops dead in his tracks, staring at the van with a watchful eye. He’s positive that the window is going to roll down any second now, whatever assassin sitting in the backseat will point his assault rifle in Tweek’s direction and gun him down, point blank. Deep in his chest, His heart hammers rapidly, thumping hard against his sternum. The knobs of his knees quiver. Keeping himself upright feels like a massive chore. As the van passes him, Tweek prepares himself to die today. 

 

He doesn’t, of course. Catastrophe never comes. The van just keeps on driving, which could only mean one thing; surveillance. That was a government van, sent to scope out Boulder, Colorado for drug addicts to incriminate. It doesn’t matter that Tweek hasn’t used in a good while, not since he got out of rehab. Not since the NA meetings, and not since the DUI. The DEA doesn’t care, they want addicts to use for free prison labor, that’s why they demonize drugs. Tweek jumps, watching intently as the van drives out of view, stomach turning with nausea. Stressed and shaking on his own two legs, Tweek yearns for caffeine. With a violent shudder, he keeps walking. 

 

Something tugs at him, a feeling that he’s forgetting something. He lights a second cigarette, the debacle with the van leaving him antsy. He doesn’t like seeing surveillance out. If he’s bugged by one surveillance van, he’ll be bugged by a million of them, so stuck in his head and focused on them he’ll accidentally manifest their existence. Tweek wholeheartedly believes he’s magic, he has since he was a kid. While he was in rehab, he took a special interest in Wicca. It was the first time a concept of spirituality really hit Tweek, finally giving him an explanation for the unexplainable. He’s learned to practice his craft with caution, as the capabilities of his mind are too powerful to ignore. Manifestation plagues him. Thinking about anything for too long always guarantees it to pop up into existence. 

 

As he approaches the coffee shop, his face involuntarily spasms, making him wail and shake out his head like a wet dog. Between his fingers, the cigarette trembles. He stands outside for a moment, finishing his smoke. Nothing is busy yet. The world doesn’t start getting busy until after nine o’clock, the only people up at this hour being old people and tweakers. Or, in Tweek’s case, ex tweakers with insomnia. He prefers it this way. The less people he has to interact with on a regular basis, the better. He wonders when the van will be back to put him in handcuffs. He’s managed to avoid jail his entire life, somehow. It would be just his luck to get booked after almost three years of sobriety. 

 

Inside the coffee shop is clean and tidy. It smells immaculate, the mere scent of coffee beans and pastries breathing life into Tweek. There’s a girl standing behind the counter, looking bored. She must be around Tweek’s age, looking pristine in her headband and her black button down, a brown apron tied around her waist. Tweek orders a black coffee, iced. Usually, he prefers hot coffee, but this place likes to leave grounds in their travelers. The grit gets on Tweek’s nerves. He has issues with texture, certain things make his tics worse. If he can feel coffee grounds in his teeth, he’ll twitch for the rest of the day. 

 

On his walk back, he makes note that his pants feel extra breezy. There’s no extra tightness in his crotch area, no support for his parts. He pauses in the middle of the sidewalk, scowling at the mountains and shimmying his hips. To an outside eye, he must look insane, wiggling in his spot like there are bugs crawling up his legs, but the movements confirm his suspicions. Tweek is not wearing underwear. Why isn’t he wearing underwear? He always wears underwear to bed, or else the gnomes will steal them. Pesky bastards, those gnomes. Tweek is certain they only take his underpants to fuck with him, because the moment he buys new ones, all his old pairs are back in his drawers, clean and folded neatly. 

 

Seriously, what is Tweek forgetting today? He’s had his cigarettes and his coffee. Is it breakfast? He does feel hungry. He should have about half a dozen eggs in the fridge. Scrambled eggs are a good breakfast, easy on his stomach and a nice source of protein. Throw them in a warm tortilla with salsa and cooked spinach, and that’s most of his primary food groups. He definitely needs more iron. The nicotine has his head feeling woozy. If he walks too fast, spots line his vision. Tweek can’t remember if he has any spinach left. Maybe he needs to go to the grocery store, maybe that’s what he’s forgetting. If he does have to go to the grocery store today, he really doesn’t want to. The old ladies that work there most definitely want him dead, especially Cindy, the sixty-something woman that works the register. Tweek thinks she’s a plant, a spy for the government implemented to watch his every move. Tweek is certain Cindy’s broken into his house and gone through his stuff. His toothbrushes keep going missing, and that is certainly not the gnomes’s doing. 

 

This plagues Tweek until he gets home, coffee finished and reeking of cigarettes. His house is a mess. He definitely needs to do dishes and laundry. The dishes are doable today, but the laundry will be a pain in the ass. The closest laundromat is two miles away and Tweek doesn’t have a car. He’s broke and his license was revoked years ago, meaning he’d have to ride the bus with baskets of dirty laundry. That’s just asking to get stabbed. He scowls, headed into the kitchen to make breakfast. The fridge isn’t full, but there’s certainly enough food laying around the house to keep him sustained for four or five more days. He has a bit of extra money right now from Etsy orders, so he can spare the expense for take out if need be, making grocery shopping a no go. He clicks his tongue, grabbing two eggs and his half filled bag of spinach before slamming the door shut. A jolt runs through him, making him shout and jump, almost dropping his eggs. Thank God he didn’t, that would be a massive waste. 

 

Tweek is certain his downstairs neighbors are planning to break in and murder him, he can feel it in his bones. He can’t blame them. With how much he shrieks and bangs around, he would want to kill him, too. He’s never met whoever lives downstairs. He’s been living in this apartment for a year and a half, but he knows none of his neighbors by name. There’s no need. If Tweek asks for their names, they’ll ask for his, which is not information he’s willing to give out. The more people know about him, the more danger he’s in. He just knows the government is looking for him, hot on his heels with a warrant out for his arrest. They listen to him, have his house bugged, keep plants in his place of work. It’s only a matter of time until they find him. 

 

What the fuck is he forgetting!? This thought nags at him as he stands at his stove, cooking scrambled eggs and muttering to himself. Coffee, cigarettes, breakfast, all down. He doesn’t need to go to the grocery store and he’ll get to the dishes and the laundry later. He’s still not sure where his underpants went, but he has a feeling he’ll never know for certain. The gnomes must have stolen them off his body while he was asleep last night. They’ll return them eventually. They always do. Tweek huffs, spooning his spinach-egg mixture into a flour tortilla, pouring a generous amount of salsa on top. Coffee, nicotine, breakfast -what else is there? He takes a bite of his breakfast burrito. Coffee, nicotine, breakfast -he’s still fucking forgetting something! What is he forgetting?

 

Meds. Fuck

 

Tweek didn’t take his Seroquel last night, he forgot. He had been busy painting clay pots, and making earrings and personalized spells for his Etsy shop, and completely blanked. It’s too late to take it now. If he does, he’ll be knocked out cold in a matter of minutes and sleep his day away. In the pocket of his pajama pants is a smooth worry stone, made of rose quartz. Quartz is good for cleansing energy, and rose quartz has anxiety relieving properties. Tweek keeps an extra stone in all of his pants pockets. He closes his fist around his, squeezing in time with the pace of his breath. A rock certainly is not his meds, but the cleansing properties help him calm down. He’s fine, Tweek reminds himself. He’s not in danger, and he’s not on some sort of government watchlist, no one is trying to kill him and there is no such thing as underpants gnomes. He just forgot to take his anti-psychotic last night. Tweek makes note to cast a spell later, something to help quell his nerves. 

 

Sometimes Tweek wonders if life would be easier if he had friends. He doesn’t. Tweek has been living in Boulder since he was nineteen, and he’s yet to make a single friend. This is generally fine. Tweek despises human interaction a grand majority of the time, but having someone to listen while he panics, or someone to distract him with their company sometimes could be nice. He had made friends in rehab, kind of. Spending the better part of a year couped up in a facility in Salt Lake City, Utah is bound to force a person to socialize. 

 

His favorite was a fellow twenty-one year old boy named Thomas, who had worse tics than Tweek and really, really loved heroin. He’d tell Tweek about it all the time, seemingly shocked and appalled that he’d never tried the stuff. He said he’d preferred snorting it over shooting up, because he thought track marks were for fucking pussy whore assholes . He would say this as if Tweek weren’t sitting right in front of him, arms littered with nasty track marks. Thomas did admit that snorting heroin made it way easier to overdose, and then recalled the three times he overdosed in the year leading up to his time in rehab. Tweek still speaks to him sometimes, over text once every few months. From what he’s heard, Thomas is still doing okay. He’s staying away from heroin, at least. He’s in California now, smoking weed and working at a comic book store. Outside of that, Tweek has no idea what that kid might be doing with himself. He has a sneaking suspicion it’s not much. The reason Tweek and Thomas got along was because neither of them seemed fond of anyone else. Two anxious shut ins, just trying to scrape by. 

 

After he finishes his breakfast, Tweek starts painting. He got into art while he was in rehab, finding solace in creating things. Working with his hands makes Tweek feel fulfilled. All forms of art pique his interest, from pottery to jewelry making to resign art, but his true passions lie in painting. Tweek paints anything and everything he can think of, his brush moving in line with his feelings and observations. He has an outline of floral work sitting on a canvas somewhere, which he has big plans for. Whenever he finishes that piece, he intends on trying to sell it. His paintings don’t typically sell, especially full colored canvases, but he has a feeling these dead flowers will go over well with his consumers. 

 

He doesn’t paint the flowers today. Instead, he starts a new project. It begins abstract, random lines and squiggles on a page. This eventually turns into faces, gaunt and twisted in agony, screaming from the circles of hell. The project consumes Tweek, keeping him rooted at his essel  until the sky starts getting dark. Once the natural light fades, Tweek sighs, pulling away from the canvas to admire his work. He checks the time. Ten minutes til eight, right around sunset. His fingers are covered in dark gray paint, his clothes splotched with splatters of color. The painting is a bit rough around the edges, certainly requiring a few touch ups here and there, but he can get to that later. Right now, he needs to take his medication and fall asleep. 

 

Within twenty minutes of taking his Seroquel, Tweek is out cold. That’s the nice thing about heavy anti-psychotics, they put him right to sleep. Hopefully, he’ll wake up in the morning without delusions of stalkers and underpants gnomes, without fear of his neighbors and the general outside world. The other good thing about Seroquel is that it stops his dreams, which have been nothing but nightmares since he was twelve. When Tweek was in high school, the nightmares of ghouls and murderous creatures would get so bad he’d rouse himself from sleep with the sounds of his own blood-curdling screams. No one ever came to check on him, but Tweek knows for certain the noise would rouse his parents as well. Nothing could stop the nightmares, nothing aside from avoiding sleep all together. At that point in time, having stimulants around to keep him awake felt helpful. It wasn’t. Nothing about the drugs was ever kind of helpful. 

 

Every day of Tweek’s life goes by in a passing blur, only amplified when he doesn’t take his anti-psychotics. His headspace is constantly dreamy and far away, anxiety running so deep in his bones it’s hard to calm himself. The days when he’s left up to his own, no responsibilities of work to tie him down, he does little to nothing, outside of art, witchcraft, and consuming himself with paranoia. 

 

By three-thirty in the morning, Tweek’s awake again, due to the blaring tune of his alarm. He has an opening shift at the bakery in an hour, and he needs forty-five minutes to get there. Tweek goes about his routine of hacking dirty loogies into the bathroom sink, choosing to forego showering for the sake of time. He grabs a protein bar and a monster energy drink before leaving, cigarette already hanging out his mouth before he even slips past the front door. It’s still dark outside. The sun doesn’t come up until five-thirty this time of year, leaving Tweek to wander under the stars. He smokes three cigarettes during his walk and chugs his energy drink. The mix between caffeine and nicotine so early in the morning doesn’t sit well in his stomach, making his body gurgle and growl. The protein bar does little to settle him. 

 

There’s a chill in the air that reminds Tweek of the past, his senior year of high school, which he’d spent with Craig. They were inseparable, spending nights upon nights together, constantly glued at the hip, as if being ripped apart were physically painful. Tweek must have been awful for Craig’s sleep schedule, staying up several nights in a row, jittering on his high and his paranoia. Craig would stay up with him, indulging in weed and, occasionally, cocaine, and finding ways to keep the two of them busy. Sometimes that would mean video games and conversation, giving each other shitty stick and poke tattoos and talking up the future. Other times, that would mean rough, ruthless fucking. If it was a school night, Craig would walk him to the corner store up the road from his house for energy drinks and smokes before class. The sun would always be yet to rise on those days, just the two of them trapped in the cold night air, high on dopamine and vices. Tweek fucking misses him, misses his warmth, misses having one thing in his life he knew for sure was real. 

 

Tweek tries to actively avoid thinking about Craig Tucker because it always leaves him heavy hearted. Of everyone that’s come and gone in Tweek’s life, he remembers Craig the best. So much of his adolescence is a nasty blur, a mess of fog covered memories. Amidst it all, Craig stands out, bright and clear. His hands, his voice, his body, all branded into Tweek’s psyche, stamped hard on his brain with a white hot iron. Craig was real. There’s not much from Tweek’s past that feels real, but Craig was. Tweek couldn’t make someone like him up. They lost touch not long after graduation, for reasons Tweek can’t entirely recall, but presumably by his own fault. Craig was doomed to enter Tweek’s life at a bad time, and in turn, they were doomed to fail. They should have been soul mates. In his twenty-three years on this planet, Tweek has never met anyone he felt so fucking comfortable around, so free to love. But Tweek blew his chance. He doesn’t remember how, but he knows it to be true, can feel it in his bones. He fucked up and he’ll never meet anyone else quite like Craig again. 

 

The bakery Tweek works at is a little hole in the wall place, sandwiched between a chiropractor's office and a raw vegan restaurant. He passes two seven-elevens, a witch shop, a yoga studio, and a mechanics shop on his walk over. It’s very Boulder , this place is like hippie central, even in poor, sketchy neighborhoods. By the time Tweek clocks in, the baker is already hard at work, kneading bread dough and not sparing Tweek a glance. Tweek wishes that were his job. He considered going to culinary school while he was in Denver, but school costs money and an eighteen year old Tweek needed all his cash for meth. He’s just the guy behind the register, making thirteen dollars an hour and dealing with customers. It completely sucks. Tweek’s people skills are subpar at best. He’s anxious and twitchy, his tics only spiking when he’s forced into human interaction, and he can be a bit slow socially. Angry customers give him panic attacks and the old ladies that come in are not fond of his piercings or his array of shitty tattoos. Tweek doesn’t have many piercings, just his septum ring and his stretched ears, sized only at double zero and plugged with lime green tunnels, but the tattoos are excessive and most of them are awful. 

 

Ever since he was a kid, Tweek has loved art. He’s really refined his skills since rehab, but he’s always indulged in the arts. In high school and his early adulthood, he expressed his art in the form of stick and poke tattoos. At the time, Tweek had not thought about the permanence, putting whatever the fuck he wanted on his body. Some of his tattoos are harmless flowers, daisies by the crook of his elbow and wildflowers on his forearm. He has a snake on his bicep and a dagger amidst the wildflowers. He also has probably the ugliest interpretation of a shark he’s ever seen up on his shoulder, a bong on his wrist, which is especially frustrating considering Tweek can’t even smoke weed anymore, and a cigarette on the inside of his middle finger. His knuckles, embarrassingly, read the words “ poop soup,” a decision he made not long after he wound up in Denver, after a night he’d spent smoking a lot of crack. That was not Tweek’s proudest moment. It really sucks that that shit is permanent, he wishes he had the money to get poop soup covered up. Or removed. The fact that he has a job is a miracle. He has no clue why anyone would want to hire the guy with poop soup shittily scrawled out on his fingers. And of course, there’s the star on his wrist. Tweek tries to pretend the star doesn’t exist. 

 

The morning is slow. Every day, the bakery opens at five in the morning, and every day they see little service until nine. Tweek is absolutely bored to tears by seven forty-five, praying for the day to stop dragging on. So far, he’s served ten people, all of whom have been anxiety inducing in their own right. Tweek can’t wait for the day his Etsy shop draws in enough income to cover the bills. Maybe he’ll be able to open up his own shop or website, gain enough traction to run his own business. At the end of the day, Tweek is really sick of this stupid customer service job. He just wants to do art and witchcraft for a living. If Tweek could smoke weed, that would simply be the cherry on top of the cake. He can’t. Some addicts can, Thomas does, but Tweek literally cannot. So many doctors have told him the spikes in his paranoia are from his repeated abuse of ‘psychoactive substances’ which, apparently, includes weed. Psychosis and marijuana are not a healthy combination, and oh boy did he used to smoke a lot of it. 

 

High school was a weird point in Tweek’s life. He remembers very little about it, outside of the drugs. His parents had been giving him microdoses of meth since he was ten, but by the time he was fourteen, he was in charge of his own medication schedule, which meant he could indulge in whatever drugs he could get his hands on without repercussions. The marijuana intake had been the most excessive. Sometimes, Tweek would smoke up to eight times a day, in between lines of cocaine and meth. When he was fifteen, he got suspended for a week for making the halls of his high school reek of skunky weed. He’s not sure how he’s not dead. Any doctor he’s ever talked to is stumped, as well. Such severe addiction issues starting from such a young age should have killed him years before he got clean. It’s by the grace of the Gods he’s still standing here. He thanks them for his life, his second chance, every fucking day, through crystals and meditation. 

 

On edge from serving customers, Tweek shoves his hands deep in the pockets of his black work pants, suddenly terrified he forgot his quartz. He’s shaking, body jolting with jitters. The last person he served, a severe looking man with a bushy, ginger beard, had the privilege of watching Tweek tick so bad he nearly dropped his cake into the trash can. He had screeched, embarrassingly, jumping ten feet out of his skin as his shoulders twitched. When he had finally mustered up the courage to look ginger-beard in the face again, his eye wouldn’t stop spasming. In the depths of his pocket sits his stone, smoothed out and calming. He closes his fist around it, taking deep breaths. The cleansing energy of rose quartz has him breathing easier, washing relief over his body. He makes a quick note to properly thank the Gods when he gets home. 

 

Tweek’s lunch break is at nine-thirty. He has half an hour to spare. There’s a seven-eleven a few blocks away, the walk maybe ten minutes at most, and Tweek could certainly use another energy drink and some time to smoke. Customers have his nerves all shot, a dull ache thrums through his head. His hands are shaking, his body indicating its need for nicotine. One cigarette on his walk there and one cigarette back, he decides. He’ll pick up a few more packs at the convenience store. Hopefully, his tab won’t go much over thirty bucks. Paying for cigarettes is the bane of Tweek’s existence. He misses the days when he had no fear, hopped up on speed and willing to take whatever he damn pleased. From ages fifteen to twenty-one, Tweek never put so much as a dime down for packs of cigarettes. 

 

Being with Craig helped. He’d spend all his money on weed and cigarettes for the two of them to share. If they ran out before Craig could come into another sum of cash, Tweek would hunt down — fuck. He can’t remember that kid’s name. The blonde one in the orange hoodie. He’s probably dead now. What was his name? Tweek’s parents would buy meth from his parents. Anyway, Tweek would rob him blind all the time. How he never got in some sort of trouble for it, Tweek has no clue. Craig always found his kleptomania endearing instead of bat-shit insane. 

 

Tweek doesn’t steal shit anymore. He doesn’t have the balls to without the meth, terrified of potential repercussions. He hasn’t had the balls to do much of anything outside of work and art, which become a job in and of itself, since rehab. He’s trying to be good, to be a model of citizenship, which means he has to actually fork over the cash for smokes, which really sucks. Other than rent, nicotine has got to be Tweek’s highest monthly expense. On bad months, he spends upwards of two-hundred dollars on cigarettes alone. It’s awful, his lungs hurt all the time. Tweek is nervous there could have been blood in his loogie this morning. He would stop smoking, but he really, really doesn’t want to. He doesn’t even want to consider cutting back. Nicotine and caffeine are the two indulgences he’s allowed to have, and Tweek is going to take advantage of that. 

 

Convenient stores have an awful energy to them. Tweek hates the tones of gray in the lighting, the shifty sorts of people that work behind the counters. The energy has him all out of whack, shoving his hands deep in his pockets to squeeze his quartz. The patrons always freak him out. Seeing teenagers is the worst, he never knows what they’re up to. When Tweek was seventeen, he would use the backs of seven-eleven toilet seats to snort coke. Or meth, depending on how shifty the seven-eleven was. Surprisingly, they’d usually get kicked out because of Craig. If whoever was working behind the counter told him he was too young for cigarettes, Craig would start picking fights. All coked up, Tweek would get mega horny for it, attracted to his sudden aggression. 

 

It must be Tweek’s lucky day when he finds the seven-eleven is near deserted. He makes awkward eye contact with the guy behind the counter, nodding slightly as he rushes toward the energy drinks. Should he grab one or two? And does he want Monster or Bang? Drinking more than one Bang energy drink in one day would probably give him a heart attack, that’s over 600 milligrams of caffeine. But they don’t have the green Monsters Tweek likes. He sighs. So it’s going to be Redbull today. Tweek grabs the twenty-four ounce can, needing as much caffeine as his body can physically handle. He should grab something to eat, too. The last time he ate was nearly six hours ago, he’ll need to keep his strength up for the rest of his shift. 

 

Just as Tweek is scanning his eyes over various bags of chips and candies, looking for something that he can eat quickly, but is also sustainable, the door to the convenient store opens. A little bell rings through the building, catching Tweek’s attention. His head snaps up, desperate to get a look at this new body. He needs to gauge their threat level. When his eyes meet this new figure, Tweek feels his heart drop to the pit of his stomach. He’s not sure if he wants to make a run for it or throw up. Either way, his stomach turns with jitters. 

 

Gray eyes land on him, cold, calculating, brows set low like he’s pissed off. Tweek remembers the things that expression used to do to his body, the chills that would run through him whenever he was fixed with that look. He feels frozen, peering at this tall, familiar man from over seven-eleven isles, and having this man peer back. It’s been six years since Tweek has seen him, six years since he’s been in South Park, since he’s graduated high school, and the time has done this man kind.

 

“Craig?” He says, loud enough, apparently, for Craig to hear. His brows twist, eyes glimmering with something. That look has Tweek cowering, wanting to duck his head behind the isle and pretend he doesn’t exist. Anxiety spikes through him, his hands trembling like a shift in tectonic plates. There’s no reason Craig should be here -why the fuck would Craig be here? Tweek has managed to go years without seeing his face. What the fuck were the chances of this encounter happening? His whole body feels like it’s shaking, stomach turning with nerves. Craig shouldn’t have heard him; Tweek’s mutterings were not meant for anyone but him. He squeezes his eyes shut, taking deep breaths and flexing his shaking fingers. 

 

“Tweek?” A deep voice calls. Craig lacks tone, he always has, but in the years since they’ve seen each other, his little tells haven’t changed. The pitch in his voice, the slight raise of his eyebrows, he’s stupefied. Tweek realizes, suddenly, that it doesn’t matter how much time has passed, Tweek can still read him like a book. He watches like a hawk as Craig approaches him, hesitant in his stride. He looks angry, but that tells Tweek very little. From what he remembers, Craig always looks angry. 

 

“Yeah,” he says, voice breaking, a nasty croak in his throat. His brain is elsewhere, floating aimlessly through other dimensions. This is not real. Tweek is not seeing him, this isn’t Craig, it can’t be. In his pocket, Tweek’s quartz feels heavy. He swallows, thinking of surveillance vans and Wicca and the power his mind holds when it sits on something for too long. Tweek jolts, face growing hot. Of course Tweek is magic, but is he truly so powerful he could manifest an entire person’s existence? He doesn’t think so, and yet here Craig is, standing right in front of him and looking dumbstruck. Finally, Tweek forces his body to move, swallowing down his panic to take a step closer. There’s only a few feet of distance between them. On those long legs, Craig could easily close the gap. “It’s me.” 

 

Craig’s eyes wrack over the length of his body, slowly and without subtly. They snap back up to meet Tweek’s face, his bottom lip tugged between his teeth. The corner of his mouth tilts up into a lopsided grin. 

 

“Hi.” He says. He sounds just as far away as Tweek feels, like neither of them are fully convinced this is real. Tweek shudders, an embarrassing shout escaping him as his shoulder flies upwards, head twitching down. He knocks himself in the cheekbone. 

 

Fuck! Hi.” He says, eye still spasming. He rubs idly at his face, taking a moment to take in Craig’s appearance. He’s wearing a pair of filthy black coveralls, his hands stained black with grease and grime. Sewn into the chest of his shirt is a white patch, his name sprawled across it in red, looping lettering. He has stubble on his chin and his jaw, dark and shadowy, and his skin is tanned golden. Since the last time Tweek has seen him, he’s filled out considerably. He’s still trim, being massive and bulky at his height would be difficult, the sheer amount of calories he’d have to incorporate into his diet nothing short of a chore, but he’s toned. His exposed forearms look strong, the expanse of his chest broad, his shoulders sturdy. Those gray eyes never lost their intensity, and that sharp face never softened to something less harsh. 

 

He’s no longer sporting the nose ring Tweek gave him all those years ago, which Tweek finds oddly disappointing, but with his sleeves rolled up, Tweek can see the shitty stick and poke star they did years ago, tripping balls alone in Tweek’s room. It’s a five point star on his wrist, messy and horribly faded by now -it looked lopsided and shitty even back then. Inside the star, a word is scribbled out in Tweek’s shitty handwriting, permanently marked on Craig’s skin. 

 

“Mine?” Craig had asked, pulling his wrist away to peer at the fresh tattoo. 

 

“Yeah.” Tweek said. “Because you are mine. Now everyone and their fucking - fucking hnng - mom can know.” 

 

Craig grinned. “Okay, but you need one, too. You’re just as much mine as I’m yours.” 

 

Tweek’s tattoo had ended up coming out even worse. Craig had never given a stick and poke before and his art skills were shit. Of all the stupid little home tattoos Tweek has given himself over the years, that shitty star with the word mine written out in Craig’s handwriting had been the most painful to remember. He stopped being Craig’s six years ago. Or, at least, that’s what he’d thought. 

 

“You look good.” Craig says. A nervous bubble of laughter erupts from Tweek’s chest, spewing out of him in volcanic proportions. “The last time I saw you…”

 

“Why the fuck do you get in these - these gah- moods, where you have to bring other people down to make yourself feel better, Craig?”

 

“Sorry, babe, I don’t take criticism from junkies.” 

 

“Let’s not!” Tweek interrupts, a truckload of nasty memories smacking him in the face. These don’t come up often in ties to Craig, Tweek likes to remember their time together fondly, but seeing his face again is making things hurt extra hard. Tweek is washed with a wave of guilt. He’s beginning to recall the end, and it isn’t looking pretty. 

 

“Do you care about anything that’s not drugs?” 

 

“At least I care about anything at all!” 

 

“...I care about you, you ass.” 

 

“I’m sorry.” Tweek rushes out, his face burning bright. NA taught him to confess to and apologize for his wrong doings, and right now he’s feeling like he has too much to apologize for. “I’m really sorry about all of that. I’m sober, err, I’ve been sober for a while.” 

 

“You’re gonna fucking die of you keep doing this to yourself! I’m trying to help you!” 

 

“Watch it, Craig, your fucking -hnng- savior complex is through the roof! News flash, asshole; no one can fucking help me! ” 

 

Smash 

 

Shatter 

 

Crash

 

“What the fuck, Tweek!?”

 

“That’s fucking amazing.” Craig says, which makes Tweek’s face burn. Hearing praise from Craig feels like a high in its own right. The sound of his voice has Tweek fucking melting. Craig’s eyes are wide, glimmering with something hopeful “Genuinely, that makes me really proud.” 

 

Tweek laughs, a mix of nerves and joy. Craig’s compliments melt something deep in his chest. Looking at that face again, smiling down at Tweek like he’s just rediscovered something once cherished, has Tweek’s knees trembling. Craig leans down, hunched over Tweek’s frame. He seems massive from this angle, a giant in the truest sense. It has tingles running over Tweek’s skin. “You look good, by the way. Really good.” Craig says, voice low. 

 

Gah!” Tweek tics, spasming in his place. He shakes his hair and his hands out, tapping his foot against the seven-eleven tiles. Why did he have to use that voice? That low, dangerous voice. This place feels too hot, Tweek is going to combust. “I -yeah! Nng, I mean. You too. Look good, uh…” Tweek sounds like a bumbling idiot trying to get his tongue to probably work. He can’t take his eyes off the tattoo on Craig’s arm. 

 

Craig is grinning down at him, seemingly amused, which kind of makes Tweek want to sour and punch him. Fucking asshole, knowing Craig, he’s probably trying to rile Tweek up on purpose. In high school, riling Tweek up and making him all flustered was Craig’s fucking favorite hobby. “What are you doing in Boulder?” He asks. 

 

“I live here.” Tweek says, the words spilling out of his mouth faster than his brain has time to compute. Craig laughs, tipping his head back. That loose, easy smile suits him. It breaks the tension built deep in Tweek’s chest, relieving to his ears. Staring at the curve of Craig’s jaw has him burning. 

 

“I figured.” Craig responds. “I meant, like, work, school, life. What do you do?” 

 

“Not drugs.” Tweek says. He feels like his face is on fire. Craig laughs again. “I, uh, work at a bakery and I like to paint. Sometimes I dabble in witchcraft.” 

 

“Witchcraft, huh?” Craig asks, brows slightly raised. “That sounds more fun than what I do.” 

 

“Mechanic?” Tweek asks, taking in the state of his clothes. Craig grins. 

 

“Yep.” He says, shoving his hands deep in his pockets. He rocks forward on the balls of his feet. “Fixing up other people’s cars so I can pay my rent.” 

 

“It’s weird seeing you.” Tweek blurts, then instantly feels his face heat. “I just mean, not that it’s not good! Just, like, uh-“ 

 

“I get it.” Craig says, interrupting Tweek’s rambling. “It’s been a long time.” 

 

“We used to fuck and now we’re strangers. This is pretty weird.” Tweek says, watching as a slight dust of pink colors Craig’s cheeks. 

 

“We used to be in love.” Craig mutters, gaze flicking to the tattoo on Tweek’s wrist. Although his words are true, they take Tweek aback. He hasn’t felt anything outside of robotic and numb in a long time, but seeing Craig again, hearing him utter such a strong word, has Tweek rushing with stupid, teenage emotions all over again. They stare at each other for a moment, Tweek’s face flushed red. Love . They used to be in love . The word rings through his head, plaguing him. They did used to be in love, or whatever the meth-induced, teenage equivalent of that may be. He knows it must be true because his heart melts at the mention. Craig clears his throat, snapping Tweek back to reality. “You still smoke? Let me buy you a pack of smokes.” 

 

Tweek, not one to turn down free cigarettes, and still shell shocked from the sheer coincidence of this encounter, nods. He allows Craig to lead him to the register, buying two packs of blue American Spirits. He pays for Tweek’s Redbull while he’s at it, tossing him one of the packs of cigarettes once the transaction has been completed. Tweek follows him outside, cigarette and lighter at the ready. 

 

Watching Craig smoke is just as enticing as it was in high school. He’s gotten more handsome over the years, rugged and sharp, beautiful in the most masculine way. Tweek feels intimidated, like he’s unable to measure up to this perfect specimen of good looks standing in front of him. He smells like cigarette smoke and engine oil, a faint hint of cologne underneath his grime. Trapped in his presence, Tweek squirms. 

 

“Thanks for the cigarettes.” He says. Craig cracks a grin. 

 

“No problem.” He answers. “I needed a smoke, anyway. Gas stations…” Craig trails off, a visible shudder running through him. Tweek snorts. He gets it, convenience stores and gas stations leave him pretty antsy, too. They remind him too much of past afflictions. 

 

“Sorry.” He mutters. Craig raises a brow, regarding him questioningly. 

 

“Why are you sorry?” He asks. Tweek shrugs, awkwardly, the movement twitchy and spastic. 

 

“I just assume that’s - hnng- my fault? Because of the, uh, drugs. And stuff. You used to watch me do a lot of bad shit in gas stations.” He says. Craig presses his lips together, swallowing thickly. 

 

“No.” He says. “That actually has nothing to do with you.” 

 

They’re quiet for a moment, Tweek waiting patiently for Craig to explain himself. Explanation never comes, however, leaving Tweek antsy and wracked with nerves. He takes a long drag of his smoke, eyes nervously flicking to the toes of his shoes. 

 

“How long have you been in Boulder?” He asks, slow, like his voice is having trouble forming the words. 

 

“A few months.” Craig says. He’s staring at Tweek with intensity, taking in his every move. “You?” 

 

“Five years.” Tweek replies, fumbling with his hands. “Or, well, four years. I moved here when I was nineteen, but I went to rehab in Utah when I was twenty-one, and now I’m here again.” 

 

“Woof.” Craig says. “Utah fucking sucks.” 

 

Tweek laughs, nervously, rubbing at the back of his neck. He takes another long drag off his cigarette. “It wasn’t so bad. I got into art. And witchcraft.” 

 

“Art and witchcraft.” Craig repeats. “I bet the Mormons loved you.” 

 

Tweek laughs again, genuinely this time. “I think I just give off a bad impression to everyone.” 

 

“Not to me.” Craig responds. Tweeks breath hitches in his throat, his body feeling too warm under his clothes. He directs his gaze to the toes of his shoes, sucking on the end of his cigarette like a life source. 

 

“What are you doing tonight?” He asks. It’s intended for curiosity’s sake. The silence is getting to him, his thoughts racing too fast to not be hearing Craig’s voice. He needs something to drown out the incessant chatter of his own mind. Craig blows out a long breath, smoke filtered out with it. 

 

“I get off work at six-thirty,” he says. “After that I had some really important plans of getting super stoned and watching Attack of the Clones in my underwear.” 

 

At the mention of Craig clad in only his boxers, Tweek flushes. He knows what that looks like, or at least what it would’ve looked like years ago. Things have changed since then, that much is observable. He’s curious to know exactly where those changes might lie. 

 

“Attack of the Clones.” Tweek mutters. He does not remember what the fuck that is. Star Wars, probably. Tweek has probably seen the entire franchise more than once, upon Craig’s insistence, surely, but he can barely remember his mother’s name sometimes, much less the plot of a bunch of fifty year old movies. “Odd choice.” He says. Craig cracks a grin. 

 

“Well, I mean, if you had something better for me to be doing in mind,” he starts, trailing off as he fixes Tweek with a look. When the only response Tweek can offer is a twist of his brows and cocking his head to the side, Craig sighs. It’s slight, just a puff of air exiting his nose, but noticeable nonetheless. “Do you want to go out with me tonight?” 

 

Tweek blinks. “ Tonight tonight? Like a date?” 

 

“Yeah,” Craig says, an easy grin settled across his face, his posture casual. “Like a date. For old time’s sake.” 

 

“Okay.” Tweek says, weakly, his heart stuttering in his chest. The smile Craig flashes him is dazzling, the sort of thing that has only ever been reserved for Tweek. A thought occurs to him, then, that they don’t know each other anymore. Tweek knows for certain that he’s changed. He has to only assume Craig has, as well. He chews his bottom lip, tapping his fingers rapidly against his thigh. “You don’t have a boyfriend I should know about, do you?”

 

“No.” Craig says. He looks amused. “I haven’t had anything more than a hookup in probably five or six years.” 

 

Six years. Nothing more than a hookup in six years . Tweek could say the same for himself. His dating history is short and pathetic, consisting almost entirely of coked out one night stands and Craig. He can’t even recall the last time he had sex. He hums involuntarily, buzzing with nervous energy. “That’s a long time.” He says, voice cracking. 

 

“Yeah, well,” Craig says. He sounds smooth, calm. “I was seeing this one guy, but that ended pretty abruptly. No one else has really compared since.” 

 

Logged deep under his ribcage, Tweek feels his heart burst. His body thrums with overwhelming warmth, threatening to spill out. He has to squeeze his eyes shut, terrified he might cry. Craig missed him. Craig has fucking missed him, like how Tweek missed Craig. Tweek wonders if tattoos can count as manifestation, if the universe held her power over Craig’s permanent branding. He’s forever marked as Tweek’s, just as Tweek is forever marked as his. Although Craig has other tattoos, galaxies lining his left forearm, the shitty star remains spotted big on his wrist. He could’ve gotten it covered up, and he actively chose not to. It’s fate, it fucking has to be. 

 

They end up exchanging numbers, Craig promising to text Tweek the second he has a free moment, and part their separate ways. Tweek has ten minutes until his lunch is over, meaning he has to speed walk to the bakery, jogging a bit those last few blocks. He’s grateful for his fresh pack of smokes and his caffeine. Without it, his mind would be buzzing, plaguing his thoughts with overwhelming bursts of feelings. He clocks back in just in the nick of time, right as the clock strikes ten o’clock. In his pocket, his phone buzzes, rattling against his quartz. It’s Craig, a message that’s nothing but a single blue heart emoji. Tweek can’t help the soft smile that settles on his face. 

 

The time leading up to his date has Tweek shaking like a chihuahua. His shift could not be dragging by slower. By the time one o’clock rolls around, Tweek is frothing at the mouth to leave. He practically sprints home, a move that has his lungs angry with him, doubled over and wheezing just outside his front door. Tweek takes the time for a cigarette, huddled outside his apartment and staring up at the sky. He wonders how this date will go, what Craig has in store for the two of them. He doesn’t really remember what dates looked like back in high school. The both of them were broke and stuck in South Park, there was only so much they could’ve done to entertain themselves. At seventeen, Tweek’s version of a date was getting blown behind the one shitty Chinese restaurant in town. He doesn’t assume that would really fly now, they’d certainly be arrested for public indecency. 

 

Once inside, Tweek takes a shower. The warm water instantly relaxes him, loosening the anxious tension in his shoulders. When did Craig get so handsome? Obviously, Tweek has always found Craig pretty handsome, he’s always been tall and scary looking, dark hair and mean eyes, a sharp jaw Tweek loved to run his tongue over, but no one looks their best at eighteen. Now, however? Fuck, Tweek can barely believe he’s looking at the same person. The mere thought of that mean, angry mug, those strong forearms, that broad chest, has Tweek running with electricity. He’s so tall, it’s going to drive Tweek wild. 

 

He leans his back against the tiles, head tipped backwards and eyes fluttered closed. There’s warmth coiled in the pit of his belly. Tweek cracks an eye open, staring down at himself and idly rubbing his hands over his skin. Oh

 

Okay. He’s hard, standing at full mast and begging for relief. Tweek chews his bottom lip, eyes flicking nervously around the shower, as if creatures are lurking in the shadows. He supposes it wouldn’t hurt to just…

 

Fuck , yeah, okay, Tweek thinks, hand wrapped loosely around the base of his dick, this certainly doesn’t hurt at all. Tweek strokes himself, imagining a tall, sturdy body crammed into this tight space with him, dripping in warm water and crowded into his personal bubble. Tweek thinks of lips on his neck, warm breath by his ear, a hand bigger than his own lazily stroking his dick. He groans, picking up the speed of his hand, bucking his hips into the ghost image of Craig’s hands. This is fine. This is more than fine, it’s fucking relieving, all that nervous, fiery energy thrumming through his blood stream is rushing to his dick. 

 

“I want you so fucking bad, man, I’m gonna explode!” 

 

He has Craig pinned against the old mattress in his childhood bedroom, one hand loosely wrapped around his throat, the other three fingers deep inside him, working him open. Craig tilts his hips, eyes fluttered closed. Heavy pants of his breath escape from parted lips. Tweek wants to kiss them senseless. 

 

“You have me.” Craig pants. “You fucking have me.” 

 

Tweek groans, muffling the noise with the back of his hand. Fucking Craig senseless always felt like a blessing, like Tweek had been given the sacred gift of his vulnerability, his openness, and he had to handle those things with care. He’d always do his best at being romantic. Craig tried to keep it a secret, but he was such a fucking hopeless romantic. 

 

“Look at me.” Tweek orders, making Craig’s eyes snap open. That look has him absolutely melting. “I just want to open you up and crawl inside you, fucking feel around in your insides, fucking squeeze your heart until all it can feel is me .” 

 

Craig is looking at him like he hung the fucking stars. It has Tweek’s face burning, limbs turning to jelly. “I’m yours.” He murmurs. “I’m all yours. I love you.” His words are so sickeningly sweet it’s going to give Tweek cavities. He hums, like his heart has melted in his chest, crashing his lips to Craig’s. 

 

“I’m yours.” Tweek replies, lining himself up and slowly pushing inside. “Fuck, I love you.” 

 

He latches his mouth to the side of Craig’s neck, biting down hard. From between the bars of his teeth, Craig hisses, his fingers tangling into Tweek’s hair. He feels so fucking good, Tweek is going to bust embarrassingly quick. 

 

Fuck,

 

Fuck, 

 

“Fuck,” Tweek swears, the heat built up in his belly unraveling, painting the shower walls with ropes of cum. There’s a lot of it, he must’ve been horribly pent up. When was the last time he got off? Tweek really can’t remember. Sex is so off his radar most of the time it boarders into humiliating territory. He cleans himself off, rinsing the walls and washing the conditioner out of his hair. He feels a lot more relaxed, his muscles loose, warm tingles running over his skin. He shuts the water off, stepping out of the shower and shaking out his wet hair. With all that energy released, he feels much more prepared for the night to come. 

 

Craig picks Tweek up from his apartment at seven-thirty. He’s clean, engine oil scrubbed away from his skin and smelling like a fresh shower, lingering hints of cigarette smoke under his breath. He’s wearing a collared shirt, cobalt blue and slightly wrinkled, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and the first few buttons undone. The shirt is fit tight on his chest and his biceps, making Tweek’s mouth water at the sight. He had personally chosen a t-shirt and cargo shorts for his attire, which he’s beginning to regret. The shorts show off the tattoos just below his knees. 

 

Cum scrawled under his right knee, and dumpster below his left. That had been Craig’s doing, Tweek would not have chosen such stupid placement. Obviously cum dumpster should be a tramp stamp. Or at the very least, it should’ve gone above his knees, so Craig could still see the lettering while fucking his face. 

 

“Yeah, fucking gag on it, slut. All you're good for is taking my big cock and swallowing my cum.” 

 

Craig is absolutely staring. “Hi,” he says. He lifts his eyes to Tweek’s face, flashing him a grin that’s all sorts of handsome and heart melting. “Ready?” 

 

“Mm-hm,” Tweek hums, nodding. “Where are we going?” 

 

“You’ll see.” Craig says. “It’s a surprise.” 

 

The drive is fairly short, but quiet. Tweek stares out the window, getting lost on the heavy sounds of Craig’s music. He has a funny music taste, a weird mix of hardcore, pop-punk, and cheesey hits from the eighties. Tweek would assume Craig to be into punk and classic rock, to have interests in The Rolling Stones and the Sex Pistols, but the numbing tunes of Madonna mixed with Mindless Self Indulgence has Tweek shocked and giggling. The car finally stops just outside a run down building, a little hole-in-the-wall place with a massive sign out front, bright blinking letters that read bowling . Tweek quirks a brow. 

 

“We’re here.” Craig says. Tweek grins. He honestly wants to laugh. Craig had made such a big deal about this being a surprise, he had been expecting something extraordinary and sickeningly romantic. Bowling would probably have to be the exact opposite. 

 

“How retro of you.” Tweek says. 

 

“There’s a jukebox inside.” Craig says, like that means anything at all. “And this star patterned carpet that reminds me of you.” 

 

Oh , Tweek thinks. That’s very, very sweet. God, Craig is such a dumb sap. “Plus, happy hour.” Craig continues. Tweek snorts. 

 

“I’m sober.” He says. Dumbass, he thinks, amused. Craig’s face falls. 

 

“...right.” He mutters, making Tweek instantly flush with guilt. “We can go somewhere else if you-“

 

“No!” Tweek exclaims. “It’s, uh, it’s fine. Bowling sounds fun.” He’s lying, bowling most certainly does not sound fun, but time with Craig does. He likes this place, apparently, and Tweek wants to indulge in Craig’s interests. Plus, something about the retro vibe and the star patterned carpet reminds him of Tweek. Nothing is going to make Tweek fuck this date up. 

 

“It’s more fun drunk.” Craig says. He pauses, scowling down at himself. “Should I not say stuff like that?” 

 

Tweek grins, flattered that Craig is thinking about his boundaries. He shrugs. “I don’t care. My problem was never with alcohol, anyway. Now, if you were talking about how much fun you have bowling coked up...”

 

Craig visibly shudders. “Absolutely not.” He says. “Coke is evil.” 

 

“Agreed.” Tweek says. That shit certainly is evil, all drugs are. “But it’s really fucking fun. Until it’s not anymore.” 

 

Craig snorts. “Agreed.” 

 

The inside is just as run down as the outside, like the place hasn’t been touched in forty years. The carpet is dirty, covered in ugly star and spiral patterns, and the wood paneling of the walls looks like it’s starting to mold. Overhead, the shitty speakers are blasting eighties pop music, which makes Tweek suppress a grin. No wonder Craig likes this place, all shitty and retro, playing his favorite type of music. The amount of times Craig would fuck him to the Safety Dance or Material Girl during their relationship was insane. The other patrons are mostly middle aged people and children and the crashing sounds of bowling balls hitting pins is going to make Tweek twitchy. 

 

He gets sensory overload bad, especially if he’s already on edge. It makes him almost wish he could have a drink. He can’t. Although alcohol was never the problem, with his personality it could easily become one. It’s best to avoid mind altering substances altogether if he wants to stay on track. He doubts his body could handle any more hardships, anyway. Between his lungs and his nasal cavities, which have holes burned through them from cocaine and sharp shards of meth, the last thing he needs is to destroy his liver, too. 

 

Tweek is too anxious to talk to the teenager behind the counter, which is kind of pathetic. He’s a grown man, he shouldn’t be trembling at the sight of a teenage girl. Luckily, he can pretty easily make Craig do all the talking. Unfortunately, Craig is also piss poor at talking to people. 

 

“Hi!” She says. She smiles too much, Tweek doesn’t trust it. “What can I do for you?” 

 

Craig is quiet for a moment, staring down at her with a scowl. Tweek can practically hear the words sitting idly on the tip of his tongue. 

 

“What the fuck do you mean? The same thing you do for everyone all day, dumbass.” 

 

“One lane, two hours. Size thirteen and a half  and…” Craig trails off, glancing at Tweek. 

 

“Ten.” He squeaks, keeping his eyes glued to the floor. The carpet is star patterned, and also riddled with grime. Craig turns back to the girl behind the counter. 

 

“Ten.” He repeats. His voice is flat. He sounds annoyed, which Tweek understands. Talking to people is a fucking inconvenience. Tweek is glad the exchange is short and easy. He’s fairly certain Craig would start actively being a dick if the girl had asked any more questions or attempted small talk. Once they have their shoes, Craig bee lines them toward the bar. 

 

“I’m gonna get a beer.” He says. “If that’s okay.” 

 

Tweek doesn’t mean to jump, the spasm running through his body completely of its own accord. It has his shoulders twitching, the joints in his knees trembling badly. “I don’t care.” He says, although the shakes in his body must read otherwise. Genuinely, he doesn’t. Just because he doesn’t drink doesn’t mean Craig can’t, the spasms just occur all on their own. Craig regards him questioningly, which only enhances the jitters in Tweek’s joints. “Seriously, it’s fine. Don’t mind the -nng- twitching.” 

 

Over the course of two hours, one beer turns into three. Craig seems loose, laughing, an easy smile settled on his face that never seems to falter. Tweek really sucks at bowling, but being around Craig feels amazing. They instantly fall into easy conversation, a comfort that makes it feel like they’d never been apart in the first place. They’re joking around a lot, teasing each other and bantering like a long term couple, like the relationship they had years ago never ceased. By Tweek’s third gutter ball in a row, Craig starts teasing his bowling abilities. If it were anyone else, Tweek would feel humiliated, but this is Craig, the same Craig who couldn’t figure out the controls for Street Fighter when they were seventeen. The same Craig who could play D&D for twelve hours straight, who regularly got hit in the face with dodgeballs in PE, who’d be wheezing if he had to so much as jog a block and a half. Tweek couldn’t possibly feel humiliated around this person. 

 

“You’re such a dick.” He complains, starting to get annoyed with Craig’s taunting. It has to be intentional. Craig’s taunting has, historically, always been for a purpose. He loves to rile people up, likes watching them get frustrated. 

 

“You’re just too easy, babe.” 

 

“Hnng, fuck you! Stop pissing me off, asshole.” 

 

“Make me, asshole.

 

“It’s not my fault you’re bad at this.” Craig says, just as his bowling ball knocks over eight pins. “Maybe you need bumpers. Like a toddler.” 

 

Tweek sticks his tongue out, blowing a raspberry. “Fuck you.” He says. 

 

“Don’t be a brat.” Craig responds, his voice smooth and low, stirring something in the pit of Tweek’s belly. He’s grinning in that funny way Tweek can’t quite read. “No one appreciates a fucking brat.” 

 

Tweek wants to laugh at that. Not only can he recall a few occasions where Craig appreciated his brattiness, but out of the two of them, Tweek is certainly not the one who needs to be reminded of this information. He’s not the one who pisses people off and complains for fun. He doesn’t laugh. Instead, he huffs, crossing his arms over his chest and scowling at the scoreboard. Craig is winning by a long shot. 

 

He’s not particularly handsy, which Tweek finds both respectful and disappointing. He seems hesitant to touch Tweek outside of a slight brush against the small of his back in passing, or their knees grazing while they’re sitting to rest. It’s odd. Craig is unafraid of blatant flirtation, he called Tweek a brat , for Gods’ sake, and Tweek feels like it’s pretty obvious that he wants touch. Either Craig has forgotten his cues, his little styles of flirtation, or he’s blatantly ignoring them just to be a tease. It’s going to make Tweek rip his hair out. 

 

“So I’m gonna be boring for a second and ask about work.” Craig says, their second round finished and seated in front of a large pepperoni pizza. The pizza sucks, it’s a flavorless grease pool. Craig is nearly finished with his third beer. He’s sitting close enough to be thrilling, but not so close their sides are pressed together, like Tweek wants. He clears his throat, scooting just a little bit closer to Craig. He wishes he were brave enough to just crawl into Craig’s lap. 

 

“Go for it.” Tweek says. He’s not interested in talking about his stupid job, but he’ll gladly give Craig any information he desires. Whatever Craig asks for, he can get. 

 

“How’d you end up working for a bakery?” He asks. 

 

“They hired me.” Tweek says, shrugging. He tries for a laugh. “I have to pay my rent somehow.” Craig hums softly. 

 

“Do you have trouble finding work?” He asks. 

 

“Yeah, man, look at me.” Tweek says, thrusting his hands out in Craig’s direction, fists balled to show off the shitty tattoos on his knuckles. 

 

“My God.” Craig mutters, lightly running his thumb over the lettering. The touch, gentle and slight as it may be, has Tweek’s skin jolting with electricity. “Poop soup.” Craig reads aloud, making heat rise in Tweek’s cheeks. His eyes flick up, that funny, unreadable grin plastered on his face. “What possessed you to do this?” He asks. Tweek’s face erupts in heat. 

 

“Uh,” he says. “Word association? And drugs, obviously.” 

 

Craig nods, that funny grin refraining from faltering. “Obviously.” 

 

“How’d you get into fixing cars?” Tweek asks. He doesn’t care at all about Craig’s work, he just wants to direct the conversation away from himself. And keep listening to Craig’s voice. 

 

“Beat going to college.” Craig says. “It pays the bills and I like working with my hands.” 

 

“You drive a nice car.” Tweek says. He knows fuck all about cars, but Craig’s looks like a robot, sporty and tricked out. He wonders how much something like that would cost. Certainly more than anything Tweek could afford. Not that he’s looking to buy a car, he hasn’t gotten behind the wheel since his license was revoked years ago, after the DUI and a year of court-ordered rehab. Craig laughs. 

 

“I’d better. I fixed her up myself.” He says. Tweek hums, his gaze traveling the length of Craig’s arms, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows. His hands are massive. Most everything about him is massive, but his hands are something else. There was a time where Tweek had been acutely aware of the size of Craig’s hands, the length of his fingers and all the spots he could reach. 

 

“God, it feels like you're splitting me open.” 

 

“On just my fingers? Honey, at this rate you won’t be able to handle my dick.” 

 

Tweek shivers in his place, swiping his tongue over his bottom lip. “You’ve always been good with your hands.” He says, suddenly terrified to meet Craig’s eyes. The air around them tenses, the weight of Craig’s body stiffening. He moves to take the final sip of his beer, tilting his head back and swallowing thickly. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, placing the empty bottle down in front of him. The thud of glass against plastic makes Tweek jump, every nerve in his body ablaze. Craig clears his throat, leaning back and letting his arms drape over the back of the seat. He’s so fucking close. The smell of his cologne is going to drive Tweek insane. 

 

“Wanna join me for a smoke?” Craig offers. Tweek accepts, gladly, following him outside. He has his own smokes, but accepts when Craig offers him one of his. Watching him flick the lighter to life has Tweek’s Adam’s apple bobbing, the sharp curve of his jaw and the strong lines of his nose too good to look away. 

 

“Are you okay?” Craig asks. Tweek realizes he’s been staring for a moment, his cigarette unlit, and jolts. A humiliating shriek rips from his throat, making his cheeks flush. He keeps his eyes on his shoes as he reaches for the lighter. 

 

“Yeah,” he says, flicking it to life. “You’re just stupid handsome and I feel like I can’t fucking breathe.” 

 

A soft exhale escapes from Craig’s nose. “I get what you mean.” He says. “I haven’t been able to stop staring at my cum dumpster all night.” 

 

Tweek snaps his head up, staring at Craig with his lips slightly parted. The tone of Craig’s voice has his body coursing with heat, his words nothing short of filthy. He’s talking about the tattoos, but he’s talking about Tweek, too, he has to be. He feels a sudden rush of confidence, closing the space between them and elevating to his toes. He cups Craig’s face in his hands. The moment their lips meet, Tweek feels like he’s caught amidst fireworks, explosions of color dancing across his eyes. Warm jitters run over his skin, his stomach fluttering. The shape of Craig’s lips is just as he remembered, thin and warm, sturdy in his kisses. The hand not clutching his cigarette sneaks around Tweek’s waist, his palm splayed flat over the small of Tweek’s back. 

 

He’s always been taller than Tweek, broader by default, but he’s stronger now, too. That much is obvious from his clutch on Tweek’s back, his arm looped around his waist, pulling him in and keeping him in place. Tweek whimpers against his lips, melting into him. Craig’s leading, his lips moving at a pace Tweek has no choice but to follow. So that’s how it’s going to be, Tweek thinks. That’s just fine, he's been in the mood to lay back and take, anyway. 

 

Pulling away is hard. Tweek remembers this part vividly. Once he’s attached to Craig, he has a difficult time letting go, going back in for one, two, three more kisses before he finally lowers himself back on his heels. He takes another drag off his cigarette, his free arm still looped around Craig’s neck. Craig is staring at him glossy eyed and mystified, taking deep breaths between parted lips. He pulls Tweek closer, bringing his mouth down to the shell of his ear. 

 

“Do you want to come back to my place?” He murmurs, warm breath ghosting over Tweek’s skin. “I’ve been waiting to get my hands on you all night.”

 

Tweek shivers. “You could’ve had your hands on me whenever you wanted.” 

 

“I know.” Craig says, lips quirking in a grin. “I like watching you chase for it.” 

 

Tweek’s breath hitches, head caught up in Craig’s body and his warmth, the feeling of his lips and his touch. Fuck, Tweek missed him. 

 

The drive to Craig’s apartment is hell, ten minutes of nerve wracking silence. Craig keeps his eyes focused on the road, but he refuses to remove his hand from Tweek’s thigh, his grip fucking bruising. Tweek can’t keep his eyes off the lines of his profile in the moonlight. He wants to grab Craig’s hand and shove it down his pants, or lean over and undo Craig’s jeans, get that big fucking dick down his throat. He doesn’t, he’s going to be patient. Something tells him Craig won’t like it tonight if he’s not patient. 

 

Craig lives in a two bedroom apartment located on the second floor. The place is kind of cluttered, surfaces littered with cups and knickknacks, blankets strewn across the furniture. He has unframed Star Wars posters placed randomly on the walls. A roll of toilet paper is sitting on the kitchen counter, for some reason, right next to a yellow tool box. Books on stars and race cars line the coffee table, right alongside a box of condoms. Tweek picks it up, finding it to be empty. 

 

“Bring a lot of boys home?” He asks. He’s not jealous (he’s a little jealous. Craig is his , after all). Mostly, he’s just teasing. Craig rubs the back of his neck, clearing his throat awkwardly. 

 

“No one that’s compared to you.” He says. Tweek smiles softly, rolling his eyes. It’s a cop out of an answer, but the correct thing to say nonetheless. 

 

“When was the last time you were tested?” He asks. Craig sucks his teeth. 

 

“Month ago, I think.” He answers. “I’ve had partners since then.” 

 

“Okay.” Tweek answers. “Well, in that case, I really hope you're not out of condoms.” 

 

Something in Craig’s expression grows deliciously dark, the smirk that tugs at his lips doing things to Tweek’s body. He crowds into Tweek’s space, cornering him so his back lays flushed against the wall. Craig’s figure cages him in place, his forearms resting on either side of Tweek’s head. 

 

“Looks like it’s your lucky day.” He says, voice low and deep. It makes Tweek’s knees feel like jelly. He’s all too familiar with that tone, that darkness, that control. It plays in his head like a broken fucking record. “I happen to have more in my bedroom.” His hand cups Tweek’s cheek, the tips of his fingers curling into wild blonde hair. Tweek hums, letting his eyes close. He nuzzles his face into the palm of Craig’s hand. 

 

“I think it’s both of our lucky days.” He says. He flutters his eyes open, staring up at a Craig from underneath his eyelashes. The look sprawled across his face will forever be burned into Tweek’s memory. 

 

The rush to Craig’s bedroom is a flurry of passionate kisses and the careless discarding of clothes. Before Tweek knows what’s happening, he’s flat on his back in Craig’s bed, king size and so absurdly comfortable Tweek feels like he’s going to be absorbed into the mattress, his shirt long gone and his shorts unbuttoned, showing off the band of his boxers. Craig hovers over him, trailing hot kisses down his chest, sucking lightly at the skin. Tweek groans, threading his fingers through Craig’s hair and arching his hips, desperate for contact. He feels like the world is spinning, skin flushed red hot. Craig’s lips and body are going to drive him insane. 

 

“I wanna fuck you.” Craig pants, husky and deep. He grabs Tweek from under his thighs, pulling him close, practically bending his body in half. He lines up their hips, the hard line of his cock grinding against the curve of Tweek’s ass. Even through the layers of clothes, Tweek can feel the heat pooled to his core. “Feel that, babe? Feel how fucking bad I want to be inside you?” 

 

A pathetic, broken moan escapes Tweek’s chest. He grinds down, wiggling his hips from side to side. Above him, Craig’s breath hitches, hips stuttering. “Please,” Tweek moans. “Fuck, please fucking split me open, fill me up. I missed you, missed your big fucking cock, please Craig, please.” 

 

Craig regards him for a moment, eyes shining bright like stars, lips slightly parted. “I missed you, too.” He says lowly, the sudden shift in his voice making Tweek’s heart melt. 

 

Before Tweek can comprehend what’s happening, he’s being flipped onto his stomach, face in the pillows. Craig’s hands hook into the waistband of his underwear, peeling away his layers of clothes and leaving him exposed. Tweek shivers, anticipation built deep in his bones. Behind him, Craig shifts, roughly grabbing his ass and spreading him open. 

 

A lid uncaps-

 

God

 

Craig’s fingers-

 

Fuck, oh fuck

 

Stretching him open, curling inside him, making every nerve in Tweek’s body positively shriek with pleasure. He balls his fists into the sheets, rolling his hips back to get Craig’s fingers to fuck him deeper. 

 

“More.” Tweek moans, brokenly. Craig crooks his fingers, massaging his inner walls. “More, please.” He wiggles his hips, pleased when he hears Craig swear under his breath. A loud whine releases from between parted lips when he feels Craig remove his fingers, leaving him empty and shivering. Tweek arches his hips, pushing his ass back in silent beg for relief. He feels the head of Craig’s dick rub up against him, teasing and leaving him desperate to be filled. The shuffling of a foil packet, the loud squelch of lube being squeezed from the bottle, then… and then...

 

God, fuck, fucking shit! 

 

Fuck , babe,” Craig pants, right up against the shell of his ear, pushing himself all the way in, buried deep in Tweek’s body and stretching him wide. His voice is deep, husky, so far gone that all Tweek can do is mewl pathetically in return. “You feel so fucking good.” 

 

Tweek whines again, throwing his head back and exposing the long line of his neck. Craig wastes no time pressing sloppy, open-mouthed kisses to his skin. He shifts, snapping his hips in rough, brutal strokes that have Tweek’s thighs shaking. He missed having Craig’s dick in him, pounding into those euphoric spots in his body and making him wither. His chest is pressed into the mattress, back arched and hips tilted upwards. Those strong, calloused hands grip either side of his hips, fingers digging in harsh enough to leave bruises. Tweek’s fingers tangle into the sheets, body quaking with each little shift or movement. He rolls his hips, pushing them back to grind against Craig’s cock. 

 

“You feel so fucking big.” He struggles out, between desperate moans and whines. Behind him, Craig chuckles. 

 

“I am fucking big.” He brags. Craig loves bragging about his dick, and he loves it even more when Tweek swoons over the size of it. He’s not monstrously huge, Tweek would never bottom for him if his dick was too big, but he’s impressive enough to have earned his bragging rights. 

 

Tweek would love to respond, but he can’t, too busy panting out little mewls and whines, a particularly harsh thrust making him cry out, shoving his face into the sheets as he sobs. Craig tugs on his hair, pulling his head up. His palm encloses around Tweek’s throat, softly squeezing the sides. 

 

“What was that, honey?” He asks, voice syrupy sweet. Tweek whines, a line of drool spilling down the side of his face. It’s completely disgusting, but Tweek can’t help it, too far drowned in pleasure to control himself. “Are you crying?” The excitement in his tone has Tweek keening. 

 

Once again, Tweek is not given the opportunity to respond, as Craig’s grip on his throat tightens. He whines, circling his hips and placing his hand over Craig’s. “Harder?” He pants out, begging for it. 

 

“Harder?” Craig asks. The hand gripping Tweeks hair moves to his shoulder, pulling him back and slamming him down hard on Craig’s dick. Tweek struggles out a choked sob, body quivering with energy. “How hard do you want it, slut?” 

 

“Please,” Tweek struggles. Craig buries himself deep, grinding his hips in teasing, circular motions. Tweek turns his head to the side, desperate to see his face. Craig looks focused, brows furrowed and eyes fluttered closed. 

 

“I like when you beg.” Craig says. A smile graces his features. “ Mm, fuck, yeah. Beg for me again.” 

 

“Please!” Tweek says again. “Please, please, fuck! I want it so bad, want you to fuck me as hard as you can. Please, Craig, you make me feel so, hhh, fucking full. So good. ” He swivels his hips, making Craig swear and tangle his fingers into Tweek’s hair, grip harsh. 

 

Craig pulls out, leaving Tweek feeling empty and unsatisfied. He whines, panicked as he reaches back, searching for contact. “No, no,” he practically cries. 

 

“Calm down.” Craig says, batting Tweek’s hand away. He flips him onto his back, Tweek landing on the mattress with a surprised oof . Staring up at Craig is like staring into the face of God, handsome, dominant as he looms above him, so calm and in control. That look in his eyes has Tweek ready to combust. Craig crawls between his legs, hiking his thighs up and pulling him in, hips flushed together. Craig lines himself back up, slowly pushing in in one swift motion. The stretch has Tweek gasping, throwing his head back as he rolls his hips, wanting to feel every fucking inch of him. “I wanna see your face when I make you cum.” 

 

Tweek keens, wiggling his hips. The way Craig is looking at him is going to make him bust right here, right now if he doesn’t get a grip. He starts moving again, his body enclosed around Tweek as he fucks him at a brutal, unforgiving pace. Pressure builds low in Tweek’s belly, boiling white hot and threatening to spill over. He can’t calm the loud gasps and moans escaping him, can’t handle Craig’s deep grunts next to his ear. He feels ready to explode. 

 

“Fuck, Craig, fuck ,” he whines, clawing at Craig’s back. “I’m gonna-“ 

 

He’s cut off by Craig’s lips smashing against his, a kiss that’s rough and open-mouthed, all tongue and teeth. Craig hits a spot deep inside him, making Tweek cry out, his body quaking with waves of pleasure. Craig fucks him through it, every shift in his body making Tweek see stars. As he’s coming down, overwhelmed with warm, tingling feelings, Craig doesn’t let up. Over sensitive and spent, Tweek grasps on to him for dear life, wrapping his legs around Craig’s waist, pulling him close. 

 

“I wish you could cum inside me.” Tweek says, babbling before his brain has the chance to stop him. “I wanna feel you so bad, just want you to melt into me, fucking fill me up with you, fuck .” 

 

Craig grunts, shoving his hips forward as his body trembles. He holds Tweek close, like he’s taken his words to heart and is truly trying to melt into him, gyrating his hips with each spasm of his muscles. The little squeaks coming from Tweek’s chest are starting to get embarrassing. He squeezes around Craig, crossing his feet at the ankle and dragging his nails down the length of his back. Even after he’s come down from his peak, Craig stays there, his face buried in the crook of Tweek’s shoulder. After a moment, he shudders out a heavy sigh, pulling out slowly and breaking the contact between their sweat-slicked skin. He’s grinning like a dope, stars in his eyes. 

 

“You’re something else.” He says, sliding the condom off his softening dick and tying it off. Tweek hums, running his pointer finger up the expanse of Craig’s chest. 

 

“I feel all gooey.” He says, chest tingling with warmth and legs like jelly. A dull ache travels through his lower back, making him cringe as he pushes himself up into a sitting position. The smile Craig shoots him melts his heart. 

 

“I know what you mean.” He says, rolling his shoulders out. “I’m gonna smoke. Want to join?” 

 

God ,” Tweek groans, throwing his head back. “Please.” 

 

The apartment has a balcony. Tweek is instantly jealous. A balcony makes it easy to step outside for a smoke. If they had been at Tweek’s apartment, they would’ve had to make a loop around the block for their cigarettes. The view of the city in front of them is dazzling, all lit up and bustling, even amidst the dark of night. Tweek leans into Craig’s side, craving the feeling of their skin flushed together. He nuzzles the side of his cheek against Craig’s chest, a soft, lazy smile gracing his features. Craig throws an arm around his waist, the tips of his fingers curling into Tweek’s hipbone. Nicotine hits better after sex, making Tweek’s already buzzing body kick into overdrive. Warmth encases him, dopamine spiked up in his brain. 

 

Craig smells like sweat and sex. The scent is comforting on him, and Tweek remembers it vividly. Physically, they have always had a hard time breaking away from each other, the frequencies of their souls attracted to each other like magnets. Before they were anything but friends who liked to hold hands, Tweek remembers getting panic attacks when they would have to break apart. The first time their lips met set off a part of Tweek’s brain, something that told him to keep going back for more and more. They were having sex within days of dating, frequently, sometimes up to three times a day. The drugs should have killed Tweek’s sex drive. They killed everything else, his need for sleep, for food, anything that wasn’t smoking, snorting, or injecting meth. But with a new boyfriend and a seventeen year old’s hormones, Tweek’s dick pretty much never gave up. Anytime Craig’s eyes or hands would linger too long, anytime he looked too handsome, if he dared to grunt or groan, even in a non-sexual context, Tweek would be on him like a wild animal. With neither of them having a car and Craig being grounded on and off for most of their relationship, they had to get pretty creative. 

 

“Do you remember when I blew you in the band room?” Tweek blurts. A rush of air escapes Craig’s nose, a smile tilting his lips. He brings his cigarette up to his mouth. 

 

“Yeah,” he says. “I think we almost gave Bradly Biggle a heart attack.” 

 

Tweek grunts in return. He can’t remember who that is, all the faces and names from high school blur together. This Bradly Biggle kid sounds like a fucking nerd, though. “We used to do stuff like that all the time, I couldn’t, hnng,” Tweek pauses to twitch. He still has leftover shakes from post-orgasmic bliss. “Get enough of you.” 

 

“I still can’t get enough of you.” Craig says, fingers curling tight around Tweek’s hip. 

 

“We used to be so in love.” Tweek muses. “We were just stupid kids, and I was out of my mind all the time, but you were so easy to be around. You’re still so easy to be around. I don’t usually put out on the first date, you know.” 

 

Craig laughs, tilting his head back and staring at the stars. They’re pretty tonight, big, bright, not a cloud in the sky. “Tweek, can I ask you something?” 

 

“Hm?” Tweek hums, Craig’s tone setting him on edge. He sounds sullen, far away. 

 

“Why did you leave?” He asks. Tweek feels his body freeze, eyes widening with anxiety. “You just dipped. One day you were telling me you love me, and the next you were gone. No one knew where you went or how to get a hold of you. It was like you dropped off the face of the planet.” 

 

He has to get out of here. 

 

He has to fucking get out! 

 

Tweek feels his fingers trembling. He takes a long drag of his cigarette. 

 

“It’s foggy.” He says. 

 

Smash

 

Clatter 

 

Crash

 

“Don’t fucking come near me! Get away from me, get away!” 

 

“Tweek, calm down-“

 

“Don’t tell me to calm down!” 

 

“I was paranoid about something.” Tweek continues. He swallows thickly. He hasn’t thought about this in a very long time. 

 

“You’re out to get me, man, you’re all fucking out to get me!” 

 

“You’re strung out, you asshole! No one’s here to hurt you.”

 

“I think we fought that night.” Tweek says. 

 

“I’m not strung out, Craig! Get the fuck away from me!” 

 

A crash. A scream. Craig flinches, but he was not the one struck. Tweek feels dizzy, a purpling bruise starting to form in the center of his forehead. The wall in front of him is dented. His fingers tremble. 

 

Craig stares off into the horizon, a scowl etched in his face. He stays quiet for a moment, before realization strikes him, lighting up behind his eyes. “You shot up in front of me.” He says. 

 

“You’re insane.” Craig says, which strikes Tweek right through the heart. He’s not crazy, he’s not! “All I’m trying to do is love you, but you make it so hard.” 

 

Tweek shrieks again, ramming his head against the wall. “Fuck you!” 

 

Tweek flushes, suddenly humiliated. “Did I… not usually do that?” He asks. Craig scoffs.

 

“No.” He sounds bitter, like the memories lay rotten on his tongue. Tweek understands the feeling. “I specifically asked you not to. I’d worry too much and it wasn’t worth the fight.” 

 

Heavy footsteps, a door clicking closed. Tweek is alone, free to do as he pleases. Without Craig’s chains weighing him down, he can run, run from this hell town and never fucking look back. 

 

Run

 

Run 

 

Run

 

“I’m sorry.” Tweek says. “I shouldn’t have done that and I shouldn’t have just up and disappeared. I should’ve at least said goodbye. If roles were reversed, I would’ve worried myself sick.” 

 

“Don’t worry about it.” Craig says, casually, like he’s brushing Tweek off. “We’re here now. Things are different.” 

 

“Yeah.” Tweek responds, smiling softly. “They are.” 

 

They finish their cigarettes in comfortable silence, watching the stars and reveling in each other’s warmth. They stay attached at the sides, Tweek’s cheeks pressed up close against the bare barrel of Craig’s chest, Craig’s arm tightly looped around Tweek’s waist. It’s a nice night, about sixty degrees out with a gentle breeze, the sky clear and twinkling bright. Tweek traces the constellations with his fingers. He can see Orion just straight ahead, the vague dusting of Libra off to the side. Craig’s a Libra, if Tweek is remembering correctly. His birthday falls sometime in late September, although that information means very little to Tweek. Astrology is not the main focus of his craft. He doesn’t need to deep dive his own personality, that sounds disastrous. He prefers meditation and spells, energy manipulation and auras and making sure his chakras are aligned. Craig’s aura is gray like his eyes, intense and alluring. Tweek nuzzles against his skin, taking in his scent. 

 

“What time is it?” He asks, voice soft and muffled. Craig hums. 

 

“Dunno.” He answers. “After eleven, probably.” 

 

Tweek groans, pitifully. “I didn’t take my meds again.” He says. “Real meds! Seroquel. It helps with the paranoia and it’s the only thing that can put me to sleep.” 

 

“So you’re going to be up all night?” Craig asks. Tweek nods, idly. 

 

“And crazy paranoid in the morning.” He says. 

 

Craig pauses, tongue in cheek. “Nothing I haven’t dealt with before.” He says. “I’ll stay up with you.” 

 

Tweek perks up. “Yeah?” He asks, lowering his voice and staring up at Craig through his lashes. Staying up with him means things, time they can spend together doing whatever they want. When they were teenagers, it was almost always copious amounts of fucking. “And do what?” Craig grins, dark, sultry, making Tweek’s stomach flutter. 

 

“Whatever you want.” He answers. 

 

Tweek hums, tracing circles into the skin of Craig’s chest. Craig squeezes him, pulling their bodies flushed close. He leans down, the shape of his lips barely ghosting over Tweek’s. “I bet you want my fucking dick.” 

 

“Actually,” Tweek responds. “I’m more interested in your ass right now.” 

 

Craig pauses, regarding Tweek with wide eyes. Something soft and innocent glimmers behind them, shooting thrills through Tweek’s body. A rush of bravery has his hands roaming to Craig’s ass, his cheek nuzzling against the soft hairs of his chest. Craig’s fingers tangle into his hair. 

 

“I think we can work something out.” He says, guiding Tweek’s head to tilt upwards, eyes locked. 

 

When he seals their lips in a kiss, the kind that’s white hot and filled with passion, something deep in Tweek’s chest melts. He loops his arms around Craig’s neck, elevating onto his toes. Something about this man has him weak, the sturdy build of his body, the ruggedness of his face, his aura and his energy and the pull of his soul. Six years ago, Tweek ran from him, whether it be from fear or drugged up delusion, he bolted without saying goodbye. He’s not going to make the same mistake twice. Craig’s right here with him, real and sturdy and whole, kissing Tweek like he never stopped loving him. Things are different now. The Gods have gifted him with a second chance, one he plans on snatching up and running with. Craig’s here and Tweek decides that he never wants to let him go.