Tweek was having the dream again.
The one where he’s sitting in the passenger’s seat of a truck, once he could make out the landmarks whizzing past him in the windows but it was only a blur now. Next to him was a dark haired boy, yelling something at him. The boy was the same age Tweek was when he first started having the dream - seventeen.
Everything was fuzzy and choppy where it was once clear and lucid.
The only thing he could still understand fully about the dream was the way he felt. Giddy. Overwhelmed. In love.
And once he caught sight of headlights in the rearview mirror-
Very, very afraid.
In the dream he sees himself ducking down out of view of the car following them. He sees his own mouth start to move, a name is forming - he used to know what it was but after three years, the dream was beginning to fade.
All he knew now was that it was one syllable, and that he yelled it with desperation he’d never felt in real life.
The dream was far behind him now, left alone under the cold pillow in the early morning version of his bedroom. In the present, Tweek was in the middle of his daily cleaning routine. He’d just finished tucking all of the stores supplies back into their places and wiping sweetener and creamer off of the polished wooden counters, moving onto sweeping. His eyes were trained on the linoleum floor, feet carrying him swiftly but carelessly across the dining area of his parents shop. He was eager to close up and head home. Closing up at night had always unsettled him, so he was partially relieved to be closing a few hours early while the sun was still casting the dim afternoon light over the town. The ability to close early came at a nerve wracking cost, however, because he’d hired an exterminator to come in and take care of a freshly overwhelming ant infestation they had in the storage room. It was a task usually left to his parents but they’d decided that twenty was more than old enough for Tweek to start arranging things for the shop. He was going to have to know how to do these things if he wanted to inherit the shop, at least that’s what his parents told him.
He wasn’t entirely sure if inheriting the shop was something that he wanted to do, but lately it was beginning to seem as though it was his only option since his accident in highschool. He’d been told that he was out late one night when he was attacked by a man trying to mug him, he’d put up a fight and was promptly bludgeoned until he lost consciousness. The trauma to his brain caused a form of retrograde amnesia to affect him, losing memory of everyone in his life aside from his own parents.
He didn’t know what their personalities were, or what things they liked anymore, but he knew their faces. Other than basic motor skills and a handful of simple academic topics, it was as though his mind was completely wiped. He could still get a sense of déjà vu if he caught a whiff of a familiar smell, or if he felt an emotion around somebody that seemed to be a stranger now. It was his new way of identifying people, for the last three years, people weren’t faces or personas - they were smells and emotions.
He’d never tell them, but his parents were ammonia and fear.
The accident had crippled him emotionally, and oftentimes he felt it had stunted him. He wasn’t able to move on with his life like his peers. While they were making decisions about how to progress, he was still relearning the world around him. After his accident, kids who he knew the smell of, who he felt familiar emotions around, stopped interacting with him. It was too much effort to try and rebuild what seemed to be already rocky friendships, at least that’s how Tweek took it. Graduation came and went and his status as a hermit was solidified,with no other option he made the decision to stay home and work at his parent’s coffeeshop.
It was one of the few things that he could handle. The mundane, repetitive days were good for him, he felt. It was a stability that he wouldn’t find out in college.
He was thinking about this, for the thousandth time that spring, as he found himself dragging a dolly full of things he had to restock in the front for the next day. His body was moving on muscle memory alone, eyes unfocused on the floor as he hurried so he wouldn’t have to deal with the exterminator. He didn’t know why he didn’t hear the jingle of the bell above the door, or the footsteps of the man crossing the floor to greet him, but the next thing Tweek knew he was barrelling into the chest of someone he hadn’t expected to be there. Frozen in place, he looked up to see a man in a dark blue button up in front of him.
The man had a long angular face, with a large hooked nose that reminded Tweek of a raven. His hair was black and sideswept, neatly styled as though he were working an office job of some sort. Bright grey eyes, half lidded as they regarded Tweek, caught his attention until the man broke out into a smile. He looked so handsome.
“Sorry,” He laughed, his voice low but sounding as though he spoke through his nose. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
Wagging his jaw uselessly, Tweek’s ability to control his body came back to him all at once with a violent jump backwards that almost made him knock over the dolly he was dragging behind him. The man was looking him up and down again, in a way that made Tweek feel exposed and he gripped the metal handle of the dolly, pulling it around so it was between the two of them. In some stupid way in his mind he thought of the dolly as a shield, knuckles blanching and eyes wild as he waited for the man to speak again.
“Ahem,” The man shifted his weight, tugging at a nametag on his chest, “I’m the exterminator? This is Tweak Bros. Coffee, right?” He looked around as if to confirm for himself.
Tweek looked back up at the man, thinking for a moment that the name Craig didn’t seem to fit him at all.
“In the back!” Tweek’s voice came out choppy and half yelled, he winced at the sound of it and tried to clear his throat before speaking again. “There are ants, in the backroom. Where we store things, it’s why I called.” He spoke more slowly this time but his shoulders were still hiked up to his ears and though his hands had moved from the handle of the dolly, they played nervously into each other at his waistline.
The man stared expressionless at him for a moment before Tweek realized with a wave of embarrassment that he was waiting to be led to the source of the infestation.
“Oh!” He turned on his heel so fast he nearly fell over, face reddening and cursing himself as he sped walked to the back of the store, hoping Craig was following him while simultaneously hoping he’d dissolved from existence and was no longer looking at him with those piercing grey eyes.
His hand shook as he shoved the key into the doorknob, becoming overly aware of how closely Craig was standing to him. Panic that had made its way from his chest to his hands pushed the door open with much more force than he’d meant to, causing it to slam loudly into the shelf behind it. Tweek let out an involuntary laugh, and tried to back out of the room to let the exterminator in to do his job. He just wanted to leave Craig on his own, to stop being perceived and to make himself a cup of coffee to calm down. To his horror, his sudden backing up only led him to once again be pressed against the chest of the exterminator. Heart pounding in his chest, he craned his neck back and saw that Craig was smiling down at him again.
Those damn eyes.
They saw every bit of him, he could feel it, things he couldn’t even see. Unraveling and undressing him despite only being partially open.
He reached for something, anything, to pull him out of this situation but a fistful of Craig’s shirt was all he got. Deciding that backing out of the room wasn’t a viable option, The man completely blocked his path, he righted himself and jumpily moved further into the room. It was either a stroke of the worst luck Tweek had ever had in his life or, more likely, just the fault of his own panic that made him not see a bag of half opened coffee beans directly in his path. He fell, arms outstretched as he braced for the painful impact of his face on the concrete floor.
A moment passed, longer than he expected to meet the floor, and he opened his eyes.
Two things became apparent as soon as he was able to think again. One being that he was suspended mid fall, formerly outstretched arms limply grazing the dirt covered floor. The second was that a pair of large hands were gripping his waist, fingertips pressed hard into exposed skin where his shirt rode up. The exterminator’s hands made their way from Tweek’s waist to his chest, tugging unintentionally at his thin shirt and leaving a trail of burning skin behind them. He felt himself being pulled toward the man, and soon he was once again feeling the warmth of Craig’s chest against his back. Only this time he was being held there, the man’s breath was heavy and hot against his cheek and Tweek couldn’t tell whether or not he was imagining the fast pace of his pulse. It felt as though Craig’s heart was trying to leap out of his own chest and tunnel it’s way into Tweek’s. Overbearing in that moment, was the familiar scent of mint toothpaste and faint green apple body wash.
“I’ve got you.” The exterminator said, finally, but didn’t let go of Tweek. He almost seemed to relax and hold him tighter to his chest.
If Tweek thought he was aware of the man before, he was showing himself up with the amount of focus his mind had on him now. Every part of Craig was warm, and unbearably close to him. It woke something in the pit of his stomach, a stirring feeling he typically pushed away until the most intimate hours of the night. It was the only time he could be sure no one was watching him.
“You really don’t remember me, do you?” Craig said now, his voice was low and the heat of his breath against Tweek’s ear as he spoke did nothing to ease the stirring in his stomach. As he said this, his grip on Tweek started loosening. Tweek gulped, shaking his head and moved - almost reluctantly, he realised - away from him.
“I’m sorry, I don’t think that I do…” He trailed off, staring intently at the man, studying his face as the cogs in his brain whirred to life. “Oh!” He exclaimed, “Your eyes - that’s why it’s been bugging me!”
An expression Tweek almost took as hope made itself apparent on Craig’s face.
“I think we had a few classes together in highschool, right? I remember you looking at me a lot, I think?” Tweek offered with halfhearted cheer.
Craig’s face dropped, something that tugged at Tweek’s heartstrings more than he’d expected it to.
“I’m really sorry, um, it’s Craig right?” He waited until he got a nod from the man before continuing. He licked his lips, tucking a tuft of unruly pale blond hair behind his ear. “I had an accident a few years back, in highschool, and I haven’t really recovered all of my memory.” He looked up at the exterminator, heart aching at the sight of his sagging shoulders. “If I knew you at all, I don’t remember it. Just your eyes and…” He paused, inhaling again that gentle smell of green apples, “Your body wash..I think.”
Tweek’s brows furrowed together and he turned from the man, running a cold hand against the place where Craig’s hands just were. There was something else familiar about him, something he didn’t say because it was so strange. It felt to him as though the man’s very touch was familiar. He whipped back around, face as serious as he could muster.
“Were we close?”
Craig closed the gap between them, imposing but not aggressive as he caressed Tweek’s cheek. Trembling now, Tweek’s body moved him closer on it’s own accord, as though this motion was one it had performed many times before with this stranger. Breathy and quiet, Craig spoke.
Tweek tilted his head, lifting his chin as he looked lazily at the exterminator. He reached up, again out of muscle memory alone, tugging on the man’s collar. Craig seemed to hesitate before he placed his hands once more on Tweek’s waist, pushing him back against the door and dipping his head down to Tweek’s and letting their lips collide. The force of it all would have knocked Tweek over if he weren’t being held in place between Craig and the door behind him.
An intense wave of nostalgia washed over Tweek as Craig kissed him, a torrent of memories that he no longer had but was now alerted to the absence of made him lean further upward into Craig. Hands shaking with a long lost eagerness as he ran them through the exterminator's hair, his mouth burning with mint and hunger.
Soon Craig was moving him expertly to the table in the middle of the storage room, clearing a space with little effort before he sat Tweek down atop it. The fluidity of the motion told him that this was something he and Craig had once done often. His whole body alight now, Tweek pulled Craig closer, his legs spread to make room for Craig’s hips, which swayed into place without a moment of hesitation. A soft whimper escaped him as Craig pulled his mouth away, and he almost protested before he felt it land hot and wet against his neck.
Sharp teeth nipped at Tweek’s flesh, making him writhe under the exterminator’s touch. He gasped, hands shooting down to Craig’s hips, pulling them forcefully against his own. Untucking Craig’s shirt, Tweek stuffed his hands into the back of Craig’s jeans. Confidence he was certain wasn’t his own filled him as he squeezed the exterminator’s ass, soft cotton boxer briefs against his palms just another of all the unsettlingly familiar things he didn’t dwell on. Instead he busied himself with grinding against the man biting hard on his neck, a burst of hot air flushing suddenly against him as Craig let out a moan. Denim against denim, it wasn’t very easy to tell but Tweek was sure that the exterminator was feeling the same throbbing between his legs, the pressure of jeans getting tighter making him grin in uncharacteristic delight.
Just as everything was beginning to feel right, and so tantalizingly comforting, Craig stopped. He took a half step back, standing upright again and shaking as he wrapped Tweek up in a sudden hug. Soft, lustless kisses were placed on Tweek’s forehead. He sat dumbfounded and unsatisfied in the exterminator’s arms, reeling in what had to be the most confusing day of his life.
“I’m sorry, Honey- I’m,” Craig panted, stroking Tweek’s hair with a sense of affection the recipient felt was undeserved. Craig cleared his throat, “I’m sorry. I promised myself I’d wait until you remembered everything, to do something like that - but god. ” He cupped Tweek’s face, looking fully into it.
Tweek wondered for a moment as the man took him in, what he looked like to him. Small and pale: Flushed and sweaty. Out of character with his openly hungry, no, starving eyes. Longer than he would be proud to admit, he considered lying about remembering so they didn’t have to stop.
“Just seeing you again, feeling you so close to me.” He smiled again but there was a sobering amount of pain in the expression this time. “I’ve just missed you so much.”
Tweek was coming back to his senses now, enough to ignore the feeling between his legs anyways. He placed his hands on Craig’s and pulled them slowly away from his face.
“Who were you to me?” He whispered.
Craig froze, his eyes darting all over Tweek’s face before he burst into a small fit of laughter. “You know, I’ve been waiting three years for you to look at me like that, and to ask that exact question. I’ve dreamt it, fantasized about what I would say that would make you remember everything -” He licked his lips, grinning without his eyes, “But now that it’s actually happening, it all sounds so stupid.” He dropped his hands from Tweek’s and turned away to think, assumedly about which line he should say to make it all right again. Whatever it was.
Tweek hopped down from the table, hurriedly adjusting his jeans in case of leftover excitement that he now saw would be misplaced. He approached Craig cautiously, but not the same way he would a real stranger. It was clear this man had once meant very much to him, and that he had cared very much for Tweek as well.
The word echoed in Tweek’s mind and as he reached out to touch the man’s shoulder, he almost said it but thought better of it when he caught a glimpse of Craig’s reddened eyes.
“You can tell me anything, I think-” He offered an awkward laugh, “I think after that I’d believe you.”
The two young men sat across from each other at a booth in the dining area of the coffeeshop. Craig had completed the job he was hired to do while Tweek busied himself with making a fresh pot of coffee. The job took half an hour longer than the coffee took to brew though, and so for a full thirty minutes Tweek was left to relive the experience with the exterminator over and over until he joined him.
Now, separated by a polished wooden table, he gingerly touched the fresh welts. He bit his lip as he remembered for what had to be the hundredth time how it felt for Craig to be panting and moaning against his neck. He felt his face flushing as the man cleared his throat, pulling him back into the present with a weighty sense of embarrassment. He knew the other man knew exactly what he’d been thinking about. He wondered if it had felt equally comforting to him. If his body had moved on its own accord, too.
“You’ve always done that, you know?” Craig chuckled.
“Done what?” Tweek asked cooly, taking a sip of his coffee.
Leaning across the table and lowering his voice despite the lack of other people in the now closed shop. “No matter how many times I fuck you, you always sit there afterward and relive it until you can’t anymore.” Grey eyes gleamed with something that almost scared Tweek.
Surprise jolted through Tweek at the exterminator’s words, and he inhaled his coffee. Sputtering and mortified, he slammed the mug down.
“Jesus-fucking-christ, man!” He shrieked out between coughs. “You can’t just lay that kind of shit on a guy!”
Craig hurried to his feet, a fistful of napkins as he attempted to clean the spilled coffee before it hit the floor. He looked over at Tweek, who was fully red-faced and out of breath, half smiling.
“I’m sorry, really, I’m not usually so overt - I wish you still knew that.” He reached out to reassure Tweek but thought better of it, his face becoming somber again as he focused on cleaning. “I guess I’m just still a little worked up from earlier, it’s been a long time since we- well.”
“Have you been sleeping with other guys while all this has been happening to me?” Tweek blurted out, not fully realizing he was saying it outloud until Craig froze and turned slowly to look at him. An amused smile played at his lips.
“Just Michael.” He grinned, as if waiting for laughter before going on. “That would have been funny if you actually knew what I was talking about.”
Tweek just stared, though he hadn’t meant to ask, he still wanted an answer.
Finished cleaning the mess he caused, Craig looked up. “Come now, Honey, jealousy doesn’t suit you and you know it. What do you want me to tell you?” His tone was kind and soothing despite his words, he was being genuine.
Feeling foolish Tweek looked away, “Ahem. I’ve never.. Or - well, I guess from what I remember, I’ve never... you know. ”
Craig’s eyes widened, looking Tweek over. “You’re being serious.” He stated, unnerving Tweek with his ability to read him so well. Just who was this guy?
“Ah, yeah. I am.” He tucked a tuft of hair behind his ear, pinching his earlobe to stop himself from following the strands to his scalp and pulling them from the root. He met Craig’s eyes again as he settled back into his seat. “People just aren’t really my thing, and no one’s ever really noticed me like that, so - as far as I remember I’m a virgin.”
A coy smirk spread itself across Craig’s face, eyes gleaming again. “Oh, far from it.”
“Man, you’ve gotta stop looking at me like that.” Tweek said, shuddering under the weight of Craig’s gaze. “It’s almost... violating. ” He chewed the inside of his lip, feeling very uncomfortable with the idea that this almost-stranger apparently had memories of having sex with him. Memories that Tweek himself could no longer access, was that moral for Craig to remember then?
“Right.” Craig took a sip of his coffee.
“I’m sure you have a lot of-”
“So were we more than-”
The both laughed as they talked over each other, eyes meeting and holding that contact for a while before Craig waved his hand as an invitation for Tweek to go first.
“Were we more than just… I mean, did we date or was it just..?” He asked quietly, embarrassment consuming him more and more with every word.
Eyes softening, Craig thought a moment before answering. “Do you remember what caused you to lose your memory in the first place, Tweek?”
“Hey, I thought I was asking the questions.”
Craig held up his hand, “Please. I just need to know this.”
“My parents said that I was attacked, mugged, one night and- well.” Tweek shifted in his chair with sudden discomfort.
“No, Tweek, what do you remember? ”
“I remember...pain...in my arm, my head. A headrush, vertigo?” He squeezed his eyes shut, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I’m sorry.” He gave up with a sigh. “It’s just all so fuzzy, I can’t…”
Craig reached across the table, holding Tweek’s hands in his own.
“I need you to promise that you’ll believe everything I’m about to say.”