Head Over Heels - jewboykahl (2024)

Chapter 1: Orientation

Chapter Text

Starting a new job is never easy for anyone, but especially someone who never been employed by anyone but their parents. New environment, coworkers, tasks, hours—everything seemed so insurmountable, especially with the addition of no longer having the comfort of talking to your mother or cousin during your shifts.

Tweek knew this would be a positive change given the insanity he had endured since being forced to work at his parent’s coffee shop. The hours had always been grueling, the pay had always been subpar, and his parents had always behaved like insufferable tyrants; however, it was easy, familiar, and safe. As he ambled through his enormous new place of employment, his knees on the verge of betrayal, he suddenly regretted estranging himself from his family even more.

Somehow, Tweek made it to the very back corner of the massive hardware store to the measly desk of the HR representative that hired him a week prior. He was told to return wearing a collared shirt and with two forms of identification, and that is exactly what he did, despite being exceedingly nervous.

Menards was a relatively new chain in Colorado, having originated in Wisconsin. Tweek vaguely recalled its construction on the outskirts of his hometown, South Park, and the causal death of their small, local hardware store as a result. Though he knew f*ck all about tools, lumber, or anything in between, he figured the store was close enough to his friend’s apartment in Fairplay and far enough from his parent’s, and perhaps they would make him a cashier.

“Hey, there,” A mustached man inquired, addressing Tweek with a friendly grin. He was clad in a powder blue dress shirt that read Menards above the breast pocket. The name Randy laminated on his name tag seemed familiar. “What can I do ya for, young man?”

Tweek cleared this throat, but still stuck in an unintentionally questioning tone, “Uh, I’m here for orientation. Kelly told me to come here,”

Randy bobbed his head and threw him a thumbs up, “Alright! Welcome to the team! What’s your name?”

“Tweek,” he informed him unenthusiastically and the man turned to gather a few packets from the desk behind him. Every time someone asked him that question, he seriously considered lying and saying something normal like Ralph or Isaac. The urge was even stronger then considering his desire to officially cut ties with his parents.

Randy’s face light up in realization. “Oh, your Richard and Helen’s boy!”

Tweek forced a grin, an awkward chuckle, “Yep, that’s me.”

“Wow, small world,” Randy laughed, shuffling the paperwork in his hands. “No offense, but their coffee tastes like sh*t.”

“I agree,” Tweek said, accepting the small stack of papers.

Randy snorted, then procured a pen from his breast pocket for him to use, “Go ahead and get started on the first page if you want. Kelly’ll be back from break any minute.”

“Thank you.” He accepted the pen and glanced down at the information, feeling a surge of panic when he couldn’t decide what address to jot down.

“So, you’re just here for the summer?” Randy asked. Tweek wondered how he would know that until he saw him flipping through his application.

“Yeah, I go back to college in August.” Tweek explained.

Randy nodded, “Nice. My son’s your age and I’ve been trying to get him to go to college since you graduated. He’s always been an underachiever.”

Tweek squinted, feeling another surge of remembrance, “Stan, right?”

“That’s him!” Randy verified, putting on another grin that made his mustache look lopsided, “He works here over in plumbing.”

Ignoring the hypocrisy that the revelation presented in consideration of his formed comment about his son being an underachiever, Tweek remembered the popular quarterback of his high school’s football team occasionally ranting about how stupid and terrible his father was. There was also a period of time around their fifth and sixth grade years where the whole family had moved to a countryside estate for Randy to try his hand in marijuana farming. Tweek thought he would very much like to know how the man ended up at Menards.

“Hey, Tweek!” The somewhat familiar voice of Kelly sounded from behind him. Tweek turned his head to watch her approach him, patting his back, “How’s it going?!”

The hiring personal was a sweet, jittery middle-aged woman with a sun-kissed skin. She perpetually wore reading glasses on her head, restraining her brunette bangs, and a friendly smile. Tweek wondered if she even needed them until they began orientation and she flipped them down over her eyes in order to read him the prepared information. The orientation was awkward yet short, which he was eternally grateful for, though he came out feeling braindead from a boring, ten-minute Welcome to Menards video. He had also been filled with intimidation at the prospect of being placed in the electrical department.

“I’ll take you over to electrical to meet some people in the department,” Kelly told him as they stood together, “Your assistant manager and the other full timer are here today, Jimbo and Kenny. They’ll show you around a little bit and then you can get out of here!”

“Alright, that sounds good.” Tweek flashed her a quick smile before they vacated the training room and started back down the stairs.

Tweek struggled to make idle conversation with the HR representative as they travelled across the endless aisles of infinite merchandise, all organized into several various departments. His heart pounded with realization that it would soon be his job to know where every product was. The thought made him fiddle with the royal blue uniform vest he was given, hoping his new coworkers would not ask that he put it on.

“Heya, Kenny,” Kelly greeted a young man in the form of a sigh on approaching a desk nestled in the middle of the electrical department. It was a narrow podium that housed two computers and papers, pens, and a stapler. There was a shelf just behind it that was even more crowded with various office supplies, a box full of discarded papers, a plastic container full of broken lightbulbs, and a bottom row full of drills and other tools. The top shelf held a massive printer and plethora of differently colored documents and signs. There was a punch clock and a large television screen above the shelf; the screen displayed the words Electrical Team Members: JIMBO K., KENNY M.

“Hey, there,” the man replied, granting Kelly a smirk when she leaned against the desk. There was no need to glance at his name tag to know that this was Kenny McCormick. Though Tweek had not seen him since graduation three years prior, the mop of blond curls, the lopsided smirk, and the soft, honey brown eyes of his former classmate were unmistakable. Aside from the loose-fitting, royal blue polo and black lip ring, he had not changed a bit. Kenny, too, immediately recognized Tweek, “Oh, no way, man, are you the new morning stocker?!”

Tweek grinned back, unable to decide if the prospect of working with multiple South Park High alums was relieving or not. He did not possess an abundant amount of positive memories from that place (or South Park in general). He said, “Sure am,”

“Sweet, we really f*ckin’ need the help.” Kenny huffed, and Kelly agreed.

The older woman slapped the desk, “Welp, he’ll show you around the department. Maybe annoy the crap out of you while he’s at it,”

Kenny scrunched his eyebrows at her as she laughed at her own joke and backed away, “Never,”

Kelly laughed, granting Tweek a smile and wave, “I’ll see ya around, honey. Good luck!”

“Thank you!” Tweek called after her before casting his gaze to his fellow blond, who had returned to whatever task they had interrupted.

“Sorry,” Kenny muttered after a short bout of silence. Withdrawing his fingers from the keyboard, he averted his attention to Tweek. He crossed his arms and leaned against the desk, “So, what brings you here, Mr. Tweak? Back from college to mingle with the commoners?”

Tweek remembered right away why he never minded Kenny—he was charming and funny. Despite being the poorest kid in their neighborhood, he had always possessed an effortless swagger that was perceived and admired by everyone. He also recalled being temporarily jealous of his fearlessness when it came to openly liking both girls and boys (until he came out as gay himself and received an oddly supportive reaction from the small-town residents and his neurotic parents). Kenny’s parents simply didn’t care what he did, and therefore neither did he. On top of this, he was kind and extremely attractive.

He nodded, answering, “I suppose. I just really need the money, gotta start paying for my loans.”

Tweek hoped Kenny would not ask why, uninterested in revealing why the sudden and desperate need of steady funds arose. To his relief, his new coworker pushed himself upright, replacing his arms with his hands against the desk, “Gotcha. Want me to show you around a bit?”

“Sure,” he accepted, then eyed the vest in his hands, “should I put this on?”

“f*ck no,” Kenny told him, pulling the bright garment it from his grasp and dropping it onto the shelf beside the printer. He elaborated, “It’ll look like I’m helping another guest and people will leave us alone.”

Tweek snorted, already quite appreciative of how Kenny ran things. The pair began to travel down the main isle of their department together, which was packed with an enormous selection of solar lights, floor and table lamps, and random, useless electrical trinkets that were bought cheap and sold for a significant profit.

Kenny gestured to their left, “By the way, we call this whole carpeted area the cloud. Just so you know if people start talkin’ nonsense about a chandelier not being in the cloud.”

Tweek nodded, taking a quick glance above their heads. There had to be over two-hundred different styles of lights on display above the cloud: chandeliers, vanity lights, flush mounts, pendant lights, recessed lighting, fluorescent panel lighting, and further down there were multiple rows of ceiling fans and a back wall decorated with outdoor lighting. He blinked to readjust to the normal lighting environment, and Kenny’s face as he explained the layout of the department.

“This is lightbulbs, down there is work lights and extension cords… Lightbulbs is the f*ckin’ worst, people don’t know how to act in that aisle... Eight is more tech-y stuff like AUX chords and speakers, then there’s old and new work boxes, which I’ll explain what those are later. Then 12 and 14 are switches, outlets, wall plates, breakers, and wiring,” Kenny flicked his eyes down over to the flustered-looking Tweek. He grinned, patting the newcomer on the back, “Don’t worry, dude, you don’t have to know all this sh*t right away. You’re just gonna be up-stocking—so you’ll put new freight either out on the shelves or up in the mega racks.”

Tweek followed Kenny’s pointer finger to the top of the extensive, metal shelves, which held a plethora of cardboard boxes with varying sizes, almost all tagged with a small rectangle of white paper. His stomach continued to churn at the seeming complexity of the job but allowed himself to be eased by Kenny’s knowledge and friendliness.

“Let me take you up to the front desk so we can get ya set up with numbers.” Kenny told him, already turning and heading toward the opposite side of the store. Tweek noticed his brightly painted purple nails when he scratched his freckled nose and spoke again, “That just means you’ll be able to use to computer system instead of writing out what you up-stocked on a sheet of paper and hoping one of our dumbass managers enters it for you. Or, my dumb ass,”

Tweek chuckled at the self-insult and continued stalking behind him until they reached what he assumed was the front desk. It was across from the row of registers and beside the exit doors. About fifteen feet long, his housed three computers, a few file cabinets, and a wall of small lockers that were all labeled with various names. Another familiar face was pacing behind the desk, visibly annoyed at something. Kenny leaned against the smooth wood of the counter and addressed the angry redhead, confirming that he was who Tweek thought, “Kyley B., how’s it goin’ today?”

“Absolutely sh*tty, McCormick. How are you?” Kyle shot back with a huff, resting his hands on his hips and peering over at them. His expression somewhat softened when his blazing chocolate eyes landed on Tweek. “Oh, hey, man! It’s been a while since I saw you!”

Tweek smiled back graciously, “Hey, Kyle. Right? Coming back to South Park is always strange. Sorry you’re having a sh*tty day,”

Kyle shrugged, “Oh, y’know, it’s just people thinking that I owe them free sh*t if their leaf blowers break and they don’t even have a receipt to prove that bought it here, let alone at all,” he flicked through an accordion file in a small crate on the desk before him as he continued to rant, “And you-know-who f*cked up his overstock report again, so I had to send Craig over to fix it. And you know how much Craig loves helping people when they f*cked his job up.”

Kenny hissed, “R-I-P Cartman.”

“Yeah,” Kyle snorted, handing Kenny a bright, neon green sign from the file. “Is that all you came for?”

“Actually, I was hoping you could get Tweek here set up with numbers for System 5. He’s my brand-new mornin’ stocker!” Kenny grinned and shot his fellow blond a wink.

Kyle grinned—an expression that looked almost unnatural for the fussy redhead. Tweek recalled the man’s incessant frustration when they were in grade school together, punctuated by his leadership role in the South Park Academic Decathlon club. He had a fleeting curiosity as to why the brainiac was employed at a hardware store instead of in college like himself. He pushed the potentially offensive thought aside and watched him go to work on one of the desktop computers. Kyle was dressed more similarly to Randy, so Tweek assumed he was some kind of manager.

The three made small talk as Kyle worked, uninterrupted until another male employee rushed past Kenny to get behind the front desk. Kyle threw him a glance, his face instantly reverting back to its generally vexed expression, “Did you fix it?”

“Yeah, I f*cking fixed it.” The dark-haired man grumbled, fiddling with a blue locker in the center row label ‘Inventory Team’. When he turned around, Tweek’s breath inadvertently hitched. He flushed furiously when Kenny took notice and raised an eyebrow at him.

“You good?”

Tweek nodded, acting natural. It wasn’t a lie, he was fine, it was just that the guy was one of the most attractive people he had ever seen in his life. A quick glance at the nametag dangling from the breast pocket of his uniformed vest confirmed his name was Craig. Craig was tall and thin, with a full head of gorgeous, thick, almost-black hair was neatly styled to frame his face immaculately. Round, deeply brown eyes were half-hooded due to the furrow of his thick eyebrows. His cheeks were graced with close-shaven stubble, his enticing pink lips a straight line.

When Craig addressed Kyle for the second time, the nasally quality of his voice and a subtle lisp was more prominent, “That fat tub of lard needs to be fired. Or executed. He can not do a single thing right.”

Kyle barked a laugh that turned into a deep exhale, “Trust me, I have tried everything to fire him. As long as his mom puts out, though, he’s not going anywhere.”

Kenny and Craig laughed in unison at a joke that Tweek didn’t understand. Not being in the loop would have probably bothered him more had he not been completely distracted by Craig’s every move. He watched the man remove the clip-on name tag and swipe it through a black, rectangular time clock. After a beep sounded, he unbuttoned his vest and placed it in the locker.

Breaking out of his revere, Tweek glanced to find a sh*t-eating grin stretching Kenny’s pierced lips. Neither of the pair had time to acknowledge the look as Kyle addressed them. “Tweek should be all set with his numbers. Do you remember how to set up the password, Ken?”

“Yup,” Kenny confirmed, popping the ‘p’. He impeded Craig’s path toward the exit door with an introduction, “Yo, Craig, this cute ‘lil thing beside me is Tweek. He’s gonna be our new morning stocker in electrical.”

Craig continued shrugging on his stylish windbreaker, looking between the pair of blonds. When their eyes met, Tweek saw him smile for the first time. “Cool. Hopefully you’ll be better at logging your overstock than any number of the useless managers here.”

Tweek laughed, inwardly kicking himself for the unnecessarily boisterous sound. He amended it with a subdued tone, “We’ll see. Nice to meet you.”

Craig’s grin widened as he continued to his walk toward the large, sliding glass exit door. Kenny and Tweek bid Kyle good-bye and began the journey back to the electrical department. Kenny began, “So, Craig’s pretty hot, right?”

Tweek wanted to scream. He could feel flames against his cheeks. He sighed, “Was I that noticeable?”

Kenny barked a laugh and clapped a hand onto Tweek’s shoulder. Normally, he was not one for physical contact, especially with someone he barely knew. Kenny made it feel calming and sincere, however, so Tweek allowed the hand to stay there as they conversed, “Nah, don’t worry. I just so happened to be checkin’ you out while you were checkin’ him out.”

Tweek snorted at the obvious joke and shook his head, “So, what exactly does he do?”

“He’s an inventory controller. Specifically, he audits the mega racks and makes sure people who do your job are doing it right. If you are, he ignores you. If you aren’t, he snaps at you.”

This thought caused even more nerves to bubble within him. He was not confident in his ability to learn the system in a timely manner and absolutely dreaded the thought of that gorgeous specimen being cross with him.

He went in and out of paying attention to the rest of Kenny’s additional orientation before he was sent on his way. On climbing inside his beat-up Honda Accord, he let his forehead fall against the steering wheel. The stress of learning a completely new job in a completely new environment was enough to send him into panic mode, but he would also be thinking about how awkward he must have seemed in his first interaction with Craig all night, and furthermore worry himself sick over potentially annoying him with completing a task incorrectly.

He puffed out a long breath as he drove off from the large parking lot. As he headed back toward his friend’s apartment that he was crashing at, he comforted himself with the knowledge that anywhere had to be better than Tweek Bro’s.

Chapter 2: Blond Boys Pining

Notes:

thanks to my wives thelotusflower and ambercreek for helping me with this one
u are my muses <3

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Having worked a tedious retail job for years, Kenny knew that the golden rule was to never check the time. Each side-glance at the clock automatically added another ten minutes to your shift. However, he could not help breaking this unspoken law on a particularly boring afternoon in the excruciatingly uninteresting electrical department.

Though there was never a set schedule for full timers like himself or managers, he seemed to always work a 1 P.M. to close shift on Thursdays. He dreaded this day, the slowest day of the week. It’s not like he enjoyed answering stupid questions about lightbulbs from old, white people, but it did make time pass by quicker.

After his third walk through the cloud, where he lazily straightened the clearance section and long wall of track lights, he planted himself in front of the electrical desk and leaned against it routinely. Kenny broke the law again—3:34 P.M. He moaned audibly.

“Dude,” someone said suddenly beside him in the midst of a Clash of Clans battle on his cell phone. Kenny’s spirits immediately soared at the familiar sound. He averted his attention to the owner of the voice who continued, “Someone is gonna lose their life tonight.”

Stan must have had just arrived for his shift, as Kenny had not seen him prior to this interaction and his straight, black fringe looked disheveled, as if he had just been driving with the window down. As always, before replying he took a moment to admire him. Stan looked stupidly adorable in his personal variation of the Menards uniform—khakis dress pants, flannel, and a zip-up, Dri-Fit vest. He always found the bright blue color absurd on anyone but his best friend. Perhaps it was because it complimented the alluring ocean blue of his eyes.

And he hated how often he thought of those eyes.

“What’s going on?” Kenny inquired, twisting his body to face him, still resting against the desk.

Stan puffed out a deep sigh, “I’ve been here for one f*cking half hour and I already had to deal with two irritated guests who apparently were waiting forever for help because nobody is ever in our department.”

Kenny knew this problem well. There were three primary members of the plumbing department, and only one was useful. The department manager went by Garrison, a borderline insane, flamboyant baby boomer who did as little work as possible. The two assistant managers were Stan and another man around their age, Eric Cartman. He was by far the most collectively disliked team member; he was rude, uncooperative, and lazy. Stan somewhat made up for it with his decent-to-good (depending on how he was feeling) work ethic and friendliness, but those traits only went so far to cover up his counterparts’ incompetence.

“I feel ya. I had to explain to about ten people today I don’t know sh*t about plumbing.” Kenny replied. Electrical was directly adjacent to Stan’s department, and oftentimes guests would wander into Kenny’s territory and ask for assistance (or assistance finding assistance).

Stan chuckled and paced over to the tall, metal filing cabinet behind Kenny’s desk. He pulled open the first drawer in search of candy. Each department had a secret stash of snacks, and the electrical department’s measly array of loose Life Savers and bite-sized Snickers resided in the drawer. Stan procured a small piece of chocolate and tore into the wrapping. Kenny watched as he did so, noticing a new rubber wristband on his arm.

He also hated how much attention he paid to Stan’s hands.

“How’re you? I haven’t seen much of you this week,” Stan commented, pausing the chewing process to speak.

Kenny shrugged, “Fine, I guess. I finally got some help in the mornings, so that’s a plus.”

Stan raised his eyebrows in remembrance, “That’s right, that Tweek kid started here! I haven’t see him yet. Does he look different from high school?”

“Oh, yeah, dude, he looks good as f*ck,” Kenny informed him with a suggestive wooh.

Stan rolled his eyes and laughed despite himself, “You think everyone looks good as f*ck.”

“Damn right. Especially you,”

“f*ck off,” Stan told him, tossing the candy wrapper at him.

Kenny scoffed dramatically when it fluttered to the ground, “You better pick that up! Your uncle just swept, that’s disrespectful.”

“Well, he’s gay, and so are you,” Stan muttered, teasing smile curving his lips. Kenny watched his tongue dash across them, licking the chocolate from the corner of his mouth, the moisture darkening the enticing shade of pink.

Kenny especially hated how much he thought about those lips.

“You say I’m gay, yet I’m the only one out of the three of us not in a relationship with a man.” And there it was—the reason he hated thinking about Stan the way he did.

“Yeah, but you would be in a relationship with a man. That’s all that matters.” Stan rolled his pretty eyes again in the midst of his reply, “Plus, Gary only counts as, like, half a man.”

“Perfect logic,” Kenny deadpanned. He wondered why he tortured himself by bringing up the topic of Stan’s boyfriend as he felt his gut clench.

Not only did the boy that he loved have a boyfriend, but that boyfriend was the perfect, vanilla version of himself. Gary Harrison was sweet and blond, from a well-to-do Mormon family, and unwaveringly kind. He actually had his life put together and clearly loved Stan deeply, as he put up with the on-again-off-again dynamic with ease and patience. The couple had broken up and gotten back together twice, and Kenny didn’t know how he could handle Stan breaking up with him once. Though, he supposed he did have a similar experience to letting Stan slip from his fingertips if he counted that one night.

And he definitely counted that one night.

“Speaking of all that, though, are you gonna ask out Tweek?” Stan asked, unwittingly twisting the knife.

Kenny shook his head, “Nah. He’s hot, but he’s not my type. Not dead inside enough.”—He earned another f*ck off from his friend as he continued— “Plus, he’s got googly eyes for Tucker.”

Stan laughed aloud at the revelation. “Who the hell would want anything to do with that asshole?!”

“Hey, Tweek doesn’t know how big of an asshole he is yet, cut him some slack. I mean, Craig is pretty hot.”

“Dude, again, you think everyone is hot.”

“Dude, again,” Kenny mocked him, smirking, “especially you.”

“Right,” Stan laughed off the comment before they fell into another exchange of complaints about Stan’s dysfunctional department. Eventually his attention taken by someone speaking into his ear from the radio. Also being forced to wear a headset against his ear for the departments to be able to communicate with one another, Kenny already knew he was being summoned back to his desk. He returned Stan’s wave and smile good-bye, the fake expression quickly falling to a natural, self-loathing grimace that was much easier to maintain after that painful interaction.

Kenny broke the rule again—3:50 P.M. He found it hard to believe that he was talking to Stan for nearly twenty minutes. He smiled sadly to himself, wishing he would come back to make time go by faster again.

_

There truly wasn’t much that Tweek hated about his new job, but he absolutely hated those stupid, large, long, metal signs.

In various aisles, including the main aisle of electrical, Menards decided to install massive shelf signs onto the mega racks. The racks were separated into sections that were alphabetized, and each sign stretched between two entire lettered sections. In order to reach the overstock, one had to lift these signs and pull them down, which was much harder than it seemed. The shelf signs were unnecessarily heavy and unreliable. They were the bane of his existence.

Though his primary department manager, Richard, himself showed Tweek the proper technique of sliding the signs down and away (and warned him not to screw around up on the ladder multiple times), he struggled to control the useless beasts.

“For f*ck sake,” Tweek grunted under his breath, jostling the particularly stubborn shelf sign above sections G-H. Being on top of a six-foot, rolling ladder was intimidating enough for him half of the time, but this obstacle gave him more causation to fear.

On his fifth pointless shove, the left side of the sign became unhinged. Tweek’s large, amber eyes widened in panic and he hastily grabbed the massive thing. Pain shot through his fingertips as he struggled to keep the thing from clattering to the concrete tile beneath him.

Tweek felt the sudden urge to cry as he felt the ladder wobble beneath his feet. What he thought was the end of his life and the structure compromising beneath him was actually the additional weight of his savior, “Woah, hey, I got you,”

His wild stare peered to his right to find Craig had leaped up the ladder to join him. The man worked swiftly, gently pushing Tweek aside to stand on the top step with him. Their bodies pressed together as Craig expertly and carefully slid the shelf sign back into place. As soon as the fear of death or causing property damage subsided, Tweek’s entirety ignited with a tingling feeling at their closeness.

He puffed out a deep exhale, wide stare meeting Craig’s. Their eyes lingered for a blissful moment, and yet again, he made the dark-haired man grin slightly. “You okay?” he asked.

Tweek momentarily forgot how to speak, letting out an embarrassingly long uh before finally replying, “Yeah, oh my god, thank you so much,”

Craig nodded, finally withdrawing from Tweek’s personal bubble and backpedaling down the ladder. “Those things are awful.”

“I know!” Tweek exclaimed, pinching his eyebrows together, “What the hell is even the point of them?!”

Craig shook his head, readjusting his vest and lifting his store-issued tablet from the ground. He side-stepped so Tweek could also step down to ground level, feeling relieved that that moment was over. Craig said, “No idea. There’s plenty of displays that fit on the wall beneath the mega racks, I don’t know why they didn’t just do that.”

So far, this was the longest he managed to talk to the inventory controller, which he supposed was pretty good for his fourth day. Craig and the three other members of the inventory team occasionally weaved in and out of electrical, counting merchandise and reporting out-of-stock items. Craig was the only male on the team, and the Tweek had come to learn just earlier that morning that the “team lead” (also known as the manager who does not get paid like a manager) was Kenny’s mother, Carol. The other two was a girl around their age called Wendy, and a middle-aged woman called Bethany. All four were very kind and helpful, especially Craig—who had just saved his life.

Tweek grinned sheepishly at him, watching him re-enter his password for the hand-held device he used. “Thank you. Seriously, I would have dropped that thing and destroyed all of these lamp shades,”

He relished in the way Craig chuckled lightly at his stupid comment. Their eyes met again, Craig inquiring, “What were you trying to do?”

Tweek gestured to the long, rectangular box beside them of merchandise that would not fit on the shelf. “I just needed to up-stock these recessed lights.”

Craig held his tablet out for Tweek to take. “Hold this real quick.”

“Okay…” Tweek agreed, though the only option was to grasp the device or let it fall to the ground.

He watched in bemusem*nt as Craig propelled the rolling ladder forward a few inches before setting it back into place. He asked, “Did you tag it already?”

“Yeah,” Tweek confirmed.

After turning back toward him, Craig bent down and lifted the box. He climbed up the ladder swiftly and craned his long arms over the ghastly shelf sign to drop the box into an empty space on the rack. Tweek was simultaneously eternally grateful for the kind gesture and vehemently annoyed at the ease in which he completed each task. The dark-haired man ambled down the ladder again, accepting the tablet from Tweek’s grasp, “I’ll enter it for you, too.”

Tweek’s eyes remained wide and on him as he typed in the seven-digit sku number assigned to the box of lights from memory as he added the inventory to their online system. He wanted to gush about how easy Craig made everything look, but instead he thanked him again, “I really owe you one.”

“Not at all,” Craig told him with a sweet smile. “I actively avoid these aisles because of those things, so it makes me look like I am actually doing something.”

Tweek let out a laugh, quite proud of himself for the noise finally sounding normal. “I don’t blame you… Every time something doesn’t fit out on the shelf down this aisle I am filled with dread.”

It was Craig’s turn to laugh, and pride again swelled in his chest at the melodic sound. He inwardly scolded himself for already having this stupid of a crush on this guy he barely knew. Craig did not help the situation by saying, “Well, anytime you want some help, I’d be happy to ignore my responsibilities.”

“I might have to take you up on that,” Tweek sighed, signifying relief. “I worked my last shift and this one without Kenny and it’s been really confusing.”

Craig granted him a sympathetic nod, “Yeah, Kenny is an annoying sh*t, but he is really helpful. I think he’ll be here soon. But you probably get out of here in a couple minutes,”

Tweek shook his head, “I don’t leave ‘til noon.” It was 9:50 A.M.

Craig co*cked one of his dark eyebrows, “Aren’t you a morning stocker? I thought you would work from 6 to 10.”

“Richard said I could stay ‘til 12 if I want, because they need the help and I need the hours.” Tweek informed him, somewhat embarrassed to reveal how badly he needed money.

“I guess that makes sense. Especially with how f*cking lazy he is.”

Tweek chuckled, “You really don’t like the department managers, do you?”

“Not even a little,” Craig confirmed. Tweek thought he may have been joking, but his expression remained completely stoic. “Them not doing their jobs correctly is the reason I even have a position. The only one that is not on my sh*t list is Bebe in wallcoverings.”

Tweek had briefly met Bebe the day before—she seemed like someone who did her job correctly. He specifically recalled their interaction because she had greeted him with, “Hey, sunshine!” and it made him feel special. She was also unusually beautiful, tall, and thick, with loose waves of golden blond hair cascading down her back.

“Well, I hope you having to save my life doesn’t put me on your sh*t list.” Tweek expressed, shoving his hands into the pockets of his vest to force himself to stop picking at the corners of his fingernails. He fiddled with a few loose pieces of paper instead to satisfy his nervousness at the remaining presence of Craig.

Craig shook his head, smiling, “I think it would take a lot for you to end up on that list.”

With that, and an awkward exchange of see you around, Craig set off and away from Tweek to return to whatever he was doing before Tweek broke everything. He let out the breath he had been inadvertently holding and decided he needed a sip of water.

An excruciating first day with nothing to drink taught him quickly to always bring a beverage or two. Picking up the metal thermos from its spot on a shelf beneath the electrical desk, Tweek twisted the lip open and checked his iPhone for any messages. His roommate and close friend had sent him a stupid meme that made him snort before he took a swig of ice water.

Feeling the overwhelming urge to relay what had just happened, Tweek tapped his thumb against the screen until a half-coherent message was sent.

Me: Dude, that one hot dude I was telling u about yesterday just saved me from getting decapitated

Token: Wtf are you talking about?

Me: sign almost fell on my head and he caught it

Token: … You’re going to have to explain this much more clearly when you get home. I’m not following.

Tweek pouted at his inability to clarify, as he was approached by a customer that needed help finding something that he thankfully knew the location of. It was very rare that he did not have to find a manager or fellow morning stocker to answer guest questions for him, which made him exceedingly anxious. However, he merely informed each guest that he was brand new and they usually went easy on him. After the person was satisfied, he went back to work, overflowing with the desire to gush to Token about his interaction with his crush.

-

Head Over Heels - jewboykahl (1)

Notes:

so i hope the description of the shelf signs wasnt too confusing, but just in case heres a pictures of them - the part that says "Outdoor Recreation" is the part that comes down
they are f*cking annoying
thank you so much for the reads and comments!! <3

Chapter 3: The Juice Incident

Notes:

thanks again to all my loves for the reads, comments, and kudos <3

Chapter Text

“So, what the hell was that text about?”

Token’s initial, generic greeting went unanswered as Tweek bustled into what was essentially their shared apartment and made a beeline for the restroom. The situation was a bit unusual; after a massive falling-out with his parents that ended in him being kicked out of their family home, his best friend came to his door shaking and panicking, unable to fathom what he was going to do or where he would stay. Without a second thought, Token offered him the empty extra bedroom of his needlessly extravagant apartment. He was lucky enough to inherent part of the wealth his parents possessed and was more than happy to share that with someone he cared about.

Tweek had returned from the vacant second bedroom that he had been inhabiting for the last few weeks. It was bare of any furniture or decorations—unless you counted the blow-up mattress Tweek had been sleeping on. He had refused Token’s offer to front him the funds for at least a futon, for f*ck sake. Tweek had already felt plenty enough like a burden by taking up the spare space.

It was previously filled by Token’s former college dormmate that had become a close friend of theirs, Jimmy. He had since moved in with his serious girlfriend and left the space available for the homeless twenty-two-year-old. Token quite frankly found it absurd that he had not offered the space to Tweek for when he was home from the University of Colorado Boulder for the summers before it had become absolutely essential.

Changed out of his uniform and into sweatpants and a hoodie, Tweek slumped down onto the grand, leather sofa beside Token and let out a groan. “The more I think about it the dumber I feel.”

Token pursed his lips. “Yeah, that’s kinda what happens when you start thinking about anything you do.”

Disregarding the completely valid point, Tweek extrapolated, “I almost dropped one of these big, awful, metal signs at work and that extremely hot guy I told you about came and put it back up for me. Like, it would have fallen to the floor if he hadn’t run up the ladder and saved me.”

Token squinted, puzzled, “I thought it almost decapitated you?”

“That was a bit of an exaggeration, but it was still pretty scary.” Tweek admitted, drawing a chuckle out of his friend. “Anyways, we talked for a bit after all that happened and I just keep thinking that everything I said was stupid and he’s gonna walk around thinking I’m an idiot who can’t speak or use signs correctly.”

Token laughed again, causing Tweek’s attention to fall upon him. Thinking about how ridiculous he must come off to Craig was yet another scenario that made him deeply envy Token’s general calm and collectedness. The guy could keep his cool under the most unnerving situations in a way that Tweek’s anxiety would never allow. He also would not mind looking as effortlessly cool and attractive as him; he always had the latest pair of Jordans with stylish shirts, hoodies, and jackets to match. He was well-built and a few inches taller than Tweek with beautiful dark skin and a perfectly barbered curly Afro fade. He gave Tweek a pointed look, “I don’t know what all you said to the guy, but I can guarantee you’re overthinking it.”

“I know that, but also, he’s just so… monotone almost? Ugh, I don’t know, he’s hard to read.” With a groan, Tweek buried his face in his hands. The exhaustion he felt from the new schedule that required him to arise at 5 A.M. to prepare for work was not helping suppress his paranoia in the slightest. He had already spent the remaining two hours of his shift that day obsessing over how he could have said and done everything differently to come off as less of a disaster toward Craig. It also did not help when Kenny arrived and began immediately teasing him about his apparently evident crush on the inventory controller.

“Wanna play some Smash Bros? Button-smashing always calms you down,” Token offered after a few moments of Tweek silently tugging at the ends of his unruly mop of curly, blond hair and staring into space. He had been steadily worried about his friend’s mental health since the whole incident occurred with Tweek’s parents, and especially now since he had thrust himself into a completely different customer service environment than he was used to. So far, however, he had been handling it a great deal better than expected.

Tweek nodded, snapping from his impromptu trance. “Sure, sounds good. After that I’m going to take the fattest nap of all time.”

Token snickered and propelled himself forward to turn on the gaming console. He managed to extract some more details of the fretted about interaction Tweek had with the mystery man, Craig, as Kirby and Captain Falcon battled ruthlessly on the flat screen TV.

_

Tweek could not decide if he was grateful or annoyed at Kenny as they traced through the store towards the paint department. The two had long since been done with their required tasks for the morning, and Kenny had volunteered them to help Bebe in completing their overstocking, as the department had received an unusually large amount of freight to put away while simultaneously understaffed.

“Hey, angels!” Bebe greeted bubbly, the kind, unique phrasing bringing a genuine smile to Tweek’s face again. “You here to save me?”

“As per usual,” Kenny quipped, earning an eyebrow raise from their coworker. “Who called off today?”

“You didn’t hear about Butters?” Bebe questioned with a gasping quality to her tone.

Kenny’s face became contorted with concern, “No, what happened?”

Her face, too, took on a serious connotation, “He fell out of a two-story window and broke his neck! He’s gonna be out for a few months,”

Tweek did not know who Butters was, but he displayed an expression of horror along with Kenny. His fellow blond exhaled deeply, “That’s f*ckin’ brutal, man. I’m gotta check on him here soon. I had no clue.”

“Yeah,” Bebe sighed deeply. An air of solemnity followed the trio a few aisles down, where an assortment of boxes could be found laying on the floor before the rack of spray paints. “Anyways, this is where I need the most help. I got an absurd amount of spray paints when I actually need primer. But, you know how that sh*t goes.” Tweek did not, but apparently Kenny did, as he nodded his head in understanding. Bebe perked up, stricken with an idea, “Actually, Ken, if you want to go give Karen a hand, she’s doing all of pet and grocery by herself.”

Kenny rolled his eyes, huffing sarcastically, “I guess I’ll go help my little sister.”

Two bits of information that Tweek was glad to be privy to prior to this interaction was that Kenny’s younger sibling had recently obtained a part-time job in wallcoverings, and that for some reason the pet section and the grocery section were considered a part of the wallcovering department. The organization did not make sense to anyone that he asked, either.

“Oh, shut up and go help the poor girl,” Bebe giggled, knowing that Kenny was already on his way and more than willing to help anyone, especially his little sister.

Tweek felt a brief surge of panic at the prospect of being left alone with the manager he had barely been acquainted with; however, her kind smile and honey-sweet tone made him feel instantly at ease. “Don’t worry too much, honey, I tagged all the boxes and entered the sku’s already, I just need some help getting it up there! Let’s go grab the ladder,”

The blond visibly relaxed, deciding that was something he could easily accomplish. With that, he followed Bebe a few aisles over to find a tall, grey, rolling ladder identical to the one he used in electrical. She asked as they traveled the short distance, “So, how do you like the new job so far?”

Tweek shrugged, “It’s easy enough. Everyone has been super nice.”

Bebe nodded, grinning, “That’s good! You won’t find too many assholes here. Some, but not many,”

After dragging the ladder back over by the paint desk (which was significantly larger than almost any other departments, as they needed space to mix paint for customers), he and Bebe were greeted by an employee that looked unfamiliar to him. The guy was boyishly handsome and quite tall, a somewhat dopey smile stretching his face as he spoke, slightly out of breath, “Hey, Bebe! I just finished my over stock; do you still need some help?!”

“Uh, no, I’m fine,” Bebe replied in her typical, sweet way, but something in her tone was a bit less sincere. “Thanks, sweetie.”

“Are you sure? I don’t mind at all! You know I always have time to help you,” the boy continued, making it quite apparent why Bebe must have been reluctant to accept his aid.

“I know, I appreciate it. But, I got our new friend, Tweek, here, and Kenny helping me out today.” She let him down easy again.

The guy’s spirit failed to faulter as he turned his attention over to Tweek. His smile remained wide and genuine, “Hey, man, nice to meet you! I’m Clyde—Bebe’s department neighbor!”

Considering the only department close to them besides plumbing was floorcoverings, Tweek deduced that that is where Clyde belonged. Clearly, he was pleased with the proximity of their departments, as his interest in her was blatant. Bebe, on the other hand, seemed a bit unenthused by his presence.

“It’s nice to meet you, too,” Tweek replied, sending him a friendly smile. “I just started in electrical.”

“Hell yeah, bro! They driving you crazy over there yet?” Clyde perpetuated the small talk, stare still lingering on Bebe. Tweek found the obvious infatuation quite sweet until a horrifying thought plagued his mind—is this what it looks like when he is talking to Craig?

Their conversation was cut off by a deafening crash that resounded from several aisles away, punctuated by the sound of shattered glass. The three of them snapped their heads toward the source of the noise, which was followed by a muffled, “God damnit!

“Oh, sh*t,” Bebe grumbled under her breath, breaking out into a jog toward the disaster sight. Tweek and Clyde exchanged confused expressions before finally spotting what Bebe saw—a pool of purplish-red liquid seeping out from a row of mega racks that were stocked with various grocery items. The two were close to follow her.

On arriving at the scene of the incident, the culprits were revealed to be a very panicked looking teenage girl and a very amused Kenny. On the ground lay a massive puddle of several busted cranberry juice containers and the fluid itself coating the concrete floor. The girl sputtered, “I’m so, so sorry Bebe! Kenny came up behind me and totally freaked me out, I dropped it from the top of the ladder! I-I’m so sorry!”

“Oh, no, it’s okay, honey! I’d much rather some juice fall than you!” Bebe shot the chortling Kenny a glare, “Why don’t you make yourself useful and go get a mop?!

“Aye, aye, capt’n,” Kenny snorted, speeding off to procure the cleaning utensil. Clyde had already swooped down to pick up the larger shards of glass that littered the ground as Bebe planted herself before the aisle, serving as a warning to by passers to avoid the area.

Bebe huffed, “Jesus, Karen, how did you deal with him all your life?”

Karen let out a nervous laugh, and it was then that Tweek noticed that family resemblance. She owned what was essentially a copy and paste of Kenny’s face, the distinguishing factors being more feminine features and long, brown hair. She gestured to the mess on the ground, “Honestly, it always goes a ‘lil something like this. I’m gonna go get some paper towels.”

Tweek decided that was probably a smart move and wandered after her, muttering his intentions quickly to Bebe, feeling the odd obligation to report to her. In his haste toward the communal cleaning supply closet not far behind Karen, he almost ran full speed into someone else headed the opposite way. Luckily, they both sensed one another and stopped before they collided.

“Well, hey, there, Tweek,” Wendy greeted humorously, backstepping away from him. “Did something break?”

“Yeah,” Tweek confirmed, pleased to see that Craig was beside her. The two almost looked as if they could also be related, as she possessed dark, straight hair and wide, brown eyes as he did. He inadvertently grinned at Craig before continuing, “Kenny scared Karen and made her drop a whole thing of juice from the top of the ladder.”

The two friends displayed vastly different initial reactions; Wendy gasped, “Is she okay?!”

Craig groaned, “Of course he did.”

Tweek addressed Wendy’s remark, “She’s fine, nobody got hurt. She’s going to get some paper towels, I was gonna grab some, too. Bebe and Clyde are over there cleaning up and keeping watch.”

Wendy nodded, “I’ll go see if I can help.”

With that, she sauntered off toward the grocery section, leaving Tweek and Craig in the adjacent hardware department alone. There was an awkward moment of wordlessness before Craig offered, “I can come with you.”

“Okay,” was all Tweek could manage, but it was enough as the two set off through the aisles.

The dark-haired man grumbled again, “I swear to god, McCormick cannot go a day without getting on my nerves.”

Tweek was half amused and half disappointed by the statement. He happened to like Kenny quite a bit, so if Craig didn’t like him, did that imply in a round-about way he also did not like Tweek? He brushed away the ridiculous thought and asked, “Do you guys not get along or something?”

Craig sighed deeply, “No, we’re cool, he’s just a sh*thead. He’s always either flirting with me or trying to have a rapport with me. Or, apparently, making his sister break a bunch of juice that I’m probably going to have to end up zero-ing out at some point.”

The knowledge that Kenny flirted with everyone was not news to him. He had earned a reputation for being a bit promiscuous in high school—entering relationships as quickly as he would end them and reportedly sleeping around a bit. Tweek never paid it any mind; he was just a naturally coquettish person.

“Is there anyone else you’re friends with here?” The question sounded stupid leaving his mouth, but it was too late to stop it.

Luckily, Craig did no behave as if it was a strange thing to be asked. He answered as they approached the supply closet near the front of the story that read ‘TEAM MEMBERS ONLY’ in massive, red letters across the large, white security doors. Either Karen had sprinted in and out of the closet or Craig caused Tweek to have complete tunnel vision, because he did not run into her again despite having the same destination. He said, “I really only hang out with Wendy and Heidi.”

“Who’s Heidi?” Tweek asked, grabbing a thick roll of god-awful, brown paper towels. Craig grabbed a broom and dust-pan, which Tweek assumed was for smaller shards of glass.

Craig replied as they ambled back toward the spill, equipped with supplies, “She works part-time in floorcoverings. She’s cool.” Tweek said a noncommittal Ah, unsure of how to respond further. Craig brought the conversation back to the subject of his annoyance, “I’m sure you’ll hear Kenny’s hilarious jokes about me being their stereotypical GBF.”

Tweek heart came screeching to a halt at the revelation. His eyes inadvertently widened as he surprisingly succeeded in requesting clarification, “You mean, like, gay best friend?”

“Yeah,” the taller man confirmed. His expression shifted, “You’re not a hom*ophobe, are you?”

“No, no, no,” Tweek exclaimed emphatically, shaking his head before revealing tentatively, “No, I’m actually gay, too, so…”

“Oh,” Craig spoke, a bit of a relieved smile stretching his lips. “Cool.”

Yeah, Tweek thought as they reentered the chaos. Bebe was frustratedly ordering a still tickled Kenny to mop more efficiently. Tweek suspected part of his remaining amusem*nt had to do with the lingering scent of marijuana on his jean jacket that morning. Wendy and Karen sopped up the liquid with the coarse paper towels. Craig went to work searching for rouge shards of class. Cool.

Chapter 4: Lunch Breaks

Notes:

i apologize for the lack of tweek in this chapter but i hope craig and those gals makes up for it <3
thank u again for the lovely reviews!! and of course reads and kudos and just ur existence !!!!
special thanks to my gf lotus for helpin me with this chapter I love her with my whole heart

Chapter Text

As soon as the three friends claimed a table in the employee break area, Heidi began venting about her complicated love-triangle situation. While Craig was sympathetic to his friend’s confused feelings, he was running out of patience—especially considering she was trying to decide between two people that he was not overly fond of. And, as far as he knew, no men were yearning of him, yet alone two.

“Kyle just asked me to go to the fair with him as sort of a double-date with Stan and Gary. Right in front of Eric,” Heidi bemoaned, French-tipped finger pressing against her temple.

Wendy was equally fed up with hearing about the battle for Heidi’s affection. Her feelings were identical to Craig’s—in full support of their wonderful, brilliant friend, but utterly exhausted at hearing of Cartman. Her hatred for him was likely the most passionate in the store (behind Kyle’s). Not only did he not do his job and therefore made her’s more difficult, in their previously established relationship, he had treated Heidi rather terribly. She could not fathom what kept her interested. She replied, holding back an eye-roll, “Are you gonna go with him?”

“I don’t know! I thought Kyle was really great, but, honestly…” Heidi did a quick scan of the area, as if about to expose confidential information, “Eric told me some sort of messed up stuff about him.”

“What stuff?” Craig encouraged her to continue. He and Wendy exchanged knowing looks, both already positive it was going to be false rumors.

Heidi sighed, “Okay, so apparently in Kyle’s last relationship he was really manipulative… Eric said he’s met his parents and Kyle was just sort of raised to always be trying to get something out of people. You know, he can just be a little sneaky…”

While Craig thought it was absurd, Wendy became instantly infuriated. She slammed her hand on the table and seethed, “Are you f*cking kidding me right now, Heidi?!”

The brunette’s eyes widened in genuine confusion, “What?!”

“Do you know what faith Kyle follows?” She asserted, perking her head at Heidi and lacing her hands together over her mouth.

Heidi remained out of the loop, but Craig had caught on to Wendy’s observation. He felt the urge to laugh, but he did not want to set his culturally sensitive best friend off even more. She answered, “I—He’s Jewish, right?”

Wendy nodded curtly. “Yes, he’s Jewish. So, what Cartman has done is taken anti-Semitic stereotypes and reassigned them to how he would behave in a relationship. Sneaky, greedy, manipulative.” Heidi’s pale, green eyes widened in realization. Wendy punctuated the point by saying, “He basically just convinced you that Kyle is a dirty Jew.”

Craig could not contain his amusem*nt. He released a short chuckle from behind his water bottle. Wendy shot him a pointed look, but he could tell she was holding back a smile as well, “That’s not funny, Craig! Cartman is a f*cking Nazi and he’s trying to sabotage a potentially actually healthy relationship for your friend!”

“I cannot believe him,” Heidi huffed, jaw set. “I’m going to tell Kyle I’ll go with him. That is just… You guys must think I’m an idiot.”

“I do think it takes a special breed to find anything remotely appealing about Cartman, but I don’t think you’re an idiot, Heidi.” Craig told her, attempting to be reassuring.

Heidi took it like a back-handed compliment and clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth, “Eric can be really sweet, okay? You guys just don’t see it.”

Wendy gestured diplomatically, eyeing Craig, “You don’t have to defend yourself, we know why you like him. I just hope you realize he was the one manipulating you. Kyle can be a pain in my ass, but he’s actually really nice and smart. I think you two would be great together.”

Craig admired that Wendy was the ultimate supporter. There had been some internal conflict in the infancy of Heidi and Cartman’s romantic relationship as Craig, Wendy, and anyone else who knew the situation relentlessly questioned and teased her for her choice in partner. It disillusioned Heidi and pushed her even deeper into the unhealthy situation that caused her to endure a massive personality change. Ever since she finally broke it off with him, Wendy had been walking on eggshells to ensure she did not fall back into the same patterns. She took on a firm but compassionate response that seemed to have much more positive affect on Heidi—though, it was made difficult by the fact that her department was directly adjacent to Cartman’s and he had no qualms about disregarding all of his managerial responsibilities to harass her and beg to be taken back.

Wendy was particularly distressed when Cartman had threatened suicide if she did not agree to date him. Craig once again found humor in the situation, as Stan shared with him a voice-mail Heidi had sent him in confidence, concerned for her ex-boyfriend’s well-being. He was crying and sputtering like an idiot in the recording, and everyone got quite a kick out of it—especially Kyle.

Craig did not tell Wendy about that.

Heidi conceded to the point, and Craig was grateful for the topic to shift. Wendy a addressed her again after a short lull in conversation, “Did you hear about the juice incident yesterday?”

Heidi giggled shortly, finishing her bite of sandwich before replying, “Yeah, Bebe was complaining about it earlier. I’d’ve killed Kenny,”

Wendy rolled her eyes amusedly, “He’s a mess. I can’t believe he’s the most competent person in electrical.”

“Tweek is cool,” Craig defended unconsciously—probably a bit too reflexively. He amended, “I mean, he is pretty good. Competent,”

“Oh, yeah, he’s not bad! He helped clean up yesterday, too, didn’t he?”

Craig nodded in confirmation as Heidi questioned for clarification, “Who the hell is Tweek?”

“He’s the new morning stocker in electrical,” Craig was quick to answer again.

Wendy balled up a napkin she had used to dab the corners of her glossy lips and stuffed it into her empty bag of Sun Chips. She added, “Kenny said he’s caught on faster than anyone he’s ever trained. And he told me that yesterday when he was”—she put her index finger and thumb to her lips to imitate smoking a joint—”so, I know he was being candid.”

“Yeah, he hasn’t f*cked anything up yet, which is really impressive. He is pretty nice, too.” Craig added.

Tweek had walking around in Craig’s head for a full week then. Ever since he spotted him on his way out the door for a fifteen-minute break on Tweek's first day, he felt an innate desire to be close to him. The frequency of his thoughts surrounding the blond boy increased when he inadvertently pressed their bodies together and was struck with an electrifying feeling. The quirkily adorable, tall, curly-headed blond boy completely took over Craig’s thoughts when he learned of his sexual orientation.

“Craig Tucker,” Heidi announced, a sly grin stretching her lips, “Are you blushing right now?”

“What? No,” Yes.

Wendy cackled, pointing a finger at his reddening face. “You definitely are, your patchy-ass beard isn’t hiding sh*t. Do you like Tweek?!”

Craig scrunched his nose at the comment, lifting a hand to rub the dark stubble covering his cheeks, defensive of his facial hair. He ignored the question. Heidi pressed on, reaching across the table and grasping his arm. “Come on, you legally have to tell us when you like someone!”

“I don’t have to tell you sh*t. Especially since I’m being bullied.” Craig retorted.

“It’s fine,” Wendy shrugged, smirked, “I can tell. Because you’re blushing even harder now.” Jerking his arm from Heidi’s grasp, he crossed them over his chest and groaned. She gasped in realization, eyes widening, “That’s why you actually helped clean up yesterday! You wanted some quality time with the new kid!”

Craig's shrugged dramatically, "What the hell does that have to do with anything? I'm helpful,"

"Oh, bullsh*t, any other given day you would have been like 'alright, they got this'," Wendy argued, "You have a thing for Tweek!"

Heidi and Wendy cooed in unison, both earning their very own middle finger from their of Craig's hands as he stood to leave. Wendy barked a laugh and caught the sleeve of his jacket as he began stalking away, “Hey, come on, we’re just messing with you! Obviously you don’t have to talk about your new crush if you don’t want to.”

Reluctantly, Craig plopped back down onto the white, plastic lawn chair. Heidi remained animated about the topic, “Do you know if he’s gay or anything?”

Craig signed, knowing the revelation of Tweek’s hom*osexuality would extend the conversation even more. “Yeah, he’s gay.”

“Forget what I said, we are definitely talking about this!” Wendy retracted her last statement as Heidi giggled excitedly.

“I hate you two.” Craig mumbled, secretly very pleased to be hit with a line of questioning about his new object of interest for the remainder of their break.

_

“Hey, dude,” Stan greeted Kenny, who had been waiting at their usual meeting spot for about five minutes then. He had just ignited his second cigarette as he peered over at his friend, who handed him a Reign energy drink, “Sorry, line was super long for some reason.”

“S’all good, thanks,” Kenny assured him, accepting the beverage with his free hand. He positioned his cigarette between his lips and inhaled hands-free as he popped the tab of his can open with a satisfying snap. Stan did the same and claimed the spot on the wooden bench beside him.

Whenever possible, the pair took their thirty-minute breaks together on the usually neglected picnic table outside of the west-end of the establishment. It had a fantastic view of the row vivid, green spruce trees that lined the perimeter of the vast parking lot, and the parking lot itself. It was situated by the garden center, where unfortunately many more guests had been flocking due to the summer season. It remained their pseudo hiding place, as a majority of their coworkers ate in one of the two designated break areas.

“People are killing me today, dude,” Stan exhaled after a long sip of the candy-flavored beverage. “I’m ready to be off this weekend.”

Kenny blew a raspberry, flicking ash onto the black asphalt beneath them. “Tell me about it, stud.”

Stan lifted his stare to his friend, an inadvertent smile dashing across his lips. For whatever reason he loved to watch his friend take slow, long drags of his cigarettes. Not that he loved the idea of Kenny steadily giving himself lung-cancer, but there was just something ethereal about the movement of his fingertips and lush, pink lips against the stick of rolled-up tobacco. The way the white smoke danced slowly from his mouth was mesmerizing. The lip piercing only made the vision more tantalizing.

Breaking from his revere, Stan said, “You still coming over after work to start the next episode?”

“No sh*t, I gotta know what happened to my girl Nicky.” Kenny’s reply displayed a semblance of sadness. He felt a deep connection with his favorite character from Orange is the New Black.

Ever since Stan’s family purchased a Netflix subscription and Kenny’s could not afford one, the pair had made a tradition out of binge-watching shows and streaming movies together. Almost any television program Kenny had ever seen, he’d seen because of the Marsh’s. Experiencing media in unison was a major facet of their bond, and it meant everything to the both of them—even if the ritual's true significance was unspoken.

Stan leaned his head back and widened his eyes for emphasis, “I can’t believe they put her in Max! I wonder how long she’s gonna be there.”

“If it’s more than one episode I’m gonna lose my mind,” Kenny assured him, entirely serious. “If I could murder any TV show character it’d be Luschek. f*ckin’ hate that human dumpster fire,”

The dark-haired man chuckled at Kenny’s passionate defense of his favorite inmate. “I don’t know, man. I still think I’d go for p*rnstache.”

“Not anymore. sh*t is getting darker than even that P-O-S,” the blond added, smothering out the small flame of cigarette butt and dropping it into the pack. Before Stan had something to say about it, he would flick the unless remainder to the earth; his animal-loving friend, however, convinced him to stop as it not only pollutes the planet, but can cause birds and squirrels to choke or destroy their stomachs. Kenny wasn’t sure how accurate that was, but generally if Stan asked something of him, he did it.

Kenny dreaded asking, but needed to know, “Is Gary gonna be there?”

“Nope, he doesn’t like Orange. He says it makes him uncomfortable.” Stan relayed with an amused eyeroll.

Kenny hissed out a chuckle, “I forgot pastor Gary doesn’t take kindly to p*rnography.”

“Shut up,” Stan laughed, nudging Kenny’s arm with his elbow. Butterflies erupted in Kenny’s stomach. “He just isn’t used to all the nudity and swearing and sex. Plus, he’s gay, so, a prison full of naked lesbians does not gel with him.”

Kenny granted his friend a wistful smile, “What do you think it’s like to be fully gay? Seems less confusing, but ya miss out on loving titt*es.”

“I don’t know, man. A prison full of naked lesbians frankly does gel with me.” he took another swig of his beverage before complaining, “We really need to get caught up, though. I had to unfollow one of the actresses from the show cause they posted a huge f*cking spoiler.”

“Damn,” Kenny frowned. “Did it ruin a lot?”

Stan shook his head, “I scrolled as fast as possible, so I only saw a little hint of something.”

“f*ck us for starting a show six seasons behind, honestly.” Kenny reasoned with a smirk.

Stan watched his fingers swirl around the circular top of his can absentmindedly. Kenny’s nail color had changed to a powder blue. He always admired his friend’s fearlessness in indulging in gendered practices such as this, ignoring any sexist pushback. Stan also admired Kenny’s hands in general—unsure why. They were just nice.

The raven-haired man shrugged, “Whatever, I like living in our own, painfully behind world.”

Kenny grinned widely, dimples on full display. He really loved living in his own little world with Stan.

After a brief bout of phone-checking silence, Stan offered a new topic of conversation, “Oh, hey, are you and Karen busy on Sunday? Me and Gary are going to the fair, and I’m pretty sure Kyle’s gonna bring Heidi.”

Kenny’s heart clenched unpleasantly at the idea of watching sweet, innocent Gary walk around hand-in-hand with Stan for an entire afternoon. He projected his anguish onto different undesirable aspect of the occasion in a teasing manner, “I dunno, dude, that sounds like a double-date. My family is a bunch of hicks, but we aren’t the sister-f*cking type. We draw the line at cousins.”

“Sick, Kenny!” Stan exclaimed, shaking his head and ignoring Kenny’s chuckles. “I just know she likes that kind of thing, Jesus! And I know you aren’t seeing anyone right now, so…”

Kenny knew Stan did not mean anything by it, but the phrasing and subject made him feel pathetic. A somewhat prideful person by nature, his spirits fought back against the sickening taste this left in his mouth. Without much thought, he blurted, “Maybe I’ll ask Tweek.”

Stan furrowed his brow. “I though you didn’t like Tweek like that?”

Kenny shrugged, wanting to say more, but settling for, “Maybe I’ll learn to. Plus, I don’t see Craig puttin’ a ring on it anytime soon.”

“Okay, whatever,” Stan retorted dismissively. “Bring Tweek, then.”

“I’ll ask.” Kenny said decisively, something somewhat vindictive inside of him taking pleasure in Stan’s visible (albeit confusing) annoyance. The remainder of their lunch break consisted of discussing the nature of Heidi and Kyle’s relationship in regard to Cartman having another conniption over the redhead making his move. Though it was an entirely different situation, Kenny felt himself oddly relating to Cartman’s frustrations.

Chapter 5: Everybody Loves Kenny

Notes:

thank u for all the comments, reads, and love so far!! <3

Chapter Text

Slowly but surely, Tweek entered the sku numbers and locations of the various merchandise he had place on the overstock shelves. It took him probably way too long as he double and triple checked that he was typing the correct numbers in to modify the pallets (which he learned was the technical term for the individual, alphabetized sections on the mega racks). He was paranoid of entering the wrong number and throwing off the inventory counts, primarily because it was his job to do it correctly, but also definitely because he did not want to screw Craig over.

Halfway through his task, a small, old woman approached his desk. A surge of panic immediately erupted inside of him at the prospect of being asked a question he still did not know the answer to. It had yet to be two full weeks on the job, and there was so much to learn. Kenny had been an enormous help, teaching him the answers to the most common questions, showing him how to do price checks, and even writing out a step-by-step module into a small, red notebook of how to navigate their complicated online system—System 5.

“Young man,” the woman spoke curtly, “I need you to find something for me.”

The woman’s brashness did not make the nerves subside. He put on a polite smile anyways, “Of course, ma’am,”

Tweek saved his final entry into the computer system then pressed the ‘F4’ tab until it logged him out. The only bit of information he recalled from his boring computer training was to never leave System 5 open, as it could potentially leave sensitive information avaliable to the public. He allowed the woman to lead him to the right of the electrical desk, and he inwardly hoped she would not be asking him for help finding one of the hundreds of solar lights stocked on the mega racks to his left. He could never find what he was looking for in that section and had absolutely no prior experience with those particular kinds of outdoor lights. Thankfully, she turned into a ceiling fan aisle instead.

“There’s none of this one on the shelf,” The woman said, pointing to an empty spot where a large room ceiling fan usually resided.

“I’ll see if we have anymore in overstock,” Tweek assured her as her removed a ballpoint pen from his vest and copied the sku number from the item’s bin tag onto the back of his hand. “I’ll look that up for you!”

The old lady wordlessly shadowed Tweek back to his desk, where he punched in his login information and then the seven-digit number of the ceiling fan. He relayed the news as he read the information, “I apologize, ma’am, but it looks like we’re out of stock on those fans.”

“What do you mean?” the woman challenged.

Tweek faltered, quickly trying to think of how to rephrase what he thought was perfectly clear, “Uh, we’re all sold out, unfortunately.”

She made him feel even more uncomfortable by continuing to argue with him and her unblinking gaze, “You just told me you would see if there was any on the overstock. You haven’t even looked yet,”

“Oh, I did!” Tweek explained, realizing at last what the issue was, “I checked to see if we had any in stock through our computer system, and it says we have none on the floor or in our storage.”

The old woman paused before shaking her head, “I don’t believe that. I’d prefer you go look and see for yourself.”

“Okay…” Tweek trailed off, stepping away from his computer. He supposed he had been spoiled with normal interactions with guests up until that point and desperately wished Jimbo had been around to take care of this woman instead of his inexperienced self. Tweek trudged down the same aisle they had just come from to where the massive, rolling ladder was placed. The stranger trailed behind him, arms crossed.

Tweek absolutely resented the woman for making him deal with the dreaded shelf signs again. Luckily, Kenny had since given him a more in-depth tutorial on the proper direction in which to slide them—out and down, not up and away. He still struggled, but he understood the mechanics much more.

With a grunt, he pulled down the metal sign that revealed a shelf full of ceiling fans. Tweek scanned his eyes between the tags on the merchandise and the sku number scribbled onto his hand. Unsurprisingly, he did not find what she was looking for.

On dismounting the ladder, Tweek shrugged, “I’m sorry, we don’t have it. Would you like to me to see if another store around here does?”

The old woman exhaled deeply, “No, I don’t want to drive all over the world looking for it. Help me find another one,”

Every second he spent with the old woman trying to find a similar ceiling fan based off of the tiny picture he pulled up of the item on iPhone felt like his very own version of Hell. She answered clarifying questions with minimal information and remained displeased at the fact that they did not have the fan she initially wanted. After an eternity, she chose a similar one, Tweek loaded it into her shopping cart for her, and he held back a celebratory fist-pump at her long-awaited departure.

Tweek traced back to the desk to finish entering this overstock information. His manager, Jimbo, had hopped on the computer he was using, so he claimed the one beside him.

“You done with the freight, there, Tweek?” Jimbo questioned in his slightly loud, country drawl.

He nodded in confirmation, “I just have a few more pallet changes to enter.”

“Sounds good! You’re really gettin’ the hang of this, new kid. Hows’about you take off early today? Give yourself a little break,”

Tweek shrugged, “I mean, I can if you need me to, but I don’t mind staying. I need the hours,”

Jimbo clicked his tongue, “That’s right, you got some college to pay for comin’ up. That’s fine! I just appreciate you been workin’ hard this week.”

“I appreciate your appreciation.” Tweek quipped sweetly, going back to entering the modifications.

Jimbo was a tall, broad, and balding man, who looked like the kind of person who would perpetually wear a hat had it not been against dress code regulations. He wore a t-shirt version of the light blue manager button-down tucked into a pair of straight cut jeans and hefty brown work boots. He was exceedingly friendly and a bit dorky, very much encapsulating father energy despite having no children. Kenny had told him that he was married to a man he fought with in Vietnam, and was Stan’s uncle.

“What’re you goin’ to college for?” Jimbo asked him just as he processed his final entry.

“Psychology,” Tweek answered, then specified, “I’m going into social work.”

Jimbo whistled, “That seems like a mighty difficult field. Good for you!”

“Thanks,” Tweek grinned, shrugged, “I’m sure it won’t be easy, but I hope it’s worth it.”

“I’m sure it will be. Lotsa folk need help.” Jimbo told him before his attention was stolen by Stan approaching the desk.

Tweek had encountered Stan again for the first time since high school earlier that week. His physical appearance had barely changed—still casually gorgeous, but his dark hair had grown out almost past his large, brilliantly blue eyes. To an unwitting acquaintance, he also appeared very heterosexual, Tweek thought, though he never verbalized this to anyone, fearing he’d sound shallow.

The flannel, khaki joggers, and Air Force 1’s spoke for themselves, though.

“Dude, can you go help this lady in aisle 14? I’ve tried to explain the difference between a three-way and a one-way lights, like, three times and she doesn’t, like… believe me or something.” Stan asked his uncle, visibly frustrated by the interaction.

Jimbo chuckled, shook his head, “Sure thing, Stanley.”

With that, Jimbo left them. Stan let an awkward moment pass before filling the silence with the generic question Tweek had already answered from several other team members, “So, how are you liking it here?”

As always, Tweek shrugged, “I like it so far. Much better than my old job.”

“At the coffee shop, right?” Stan asked, and Tweek nodded. “I bet, dude. I’d hate working with food or drinks or anything like that. Plus, not to be rude, but Tweek Bro’s coffee kind of tastes like sh*t.”

Tweek let out a genuine laugh, “That’s exactly what your dad said.”

Stan scoffed, “Ugh, never mind, it’s delicious.”

The blond chuckled again at Stan’s disdain for the man that he had come to learn was one of the assistant general managers. There were three, and Tweek rarely saw or interacted with any of them. This he was thankful for, as they made him incredibly nervous. Anyone with remote authority had always rendered Tweek a combination of uncomfortable and indignant.

“What happened to… what was his farm called…” Tweek hummed, wracking his brain for the Randy’s ridiculous name-brand marijuana.

“Tegridy,” Stan answered venomously. “My parents finally got divorced over that f*cking farm. Or rather, the fact that he spent the money selling the farm on buying a f*cking Block Buster.” Tweek clapped his hands together as he laughed even harder. Stan narrowed his eyes, “Don’t laugh at the dismantling of my family!”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, it’s just really funny,” Tweek defended, subsiding his cackles for Stan’s sake, though he could tell he wasn’t actually offended.

“I’m just waiting for him to leave the stability and decent pay here to open up a chocolate factory or some sh*t next.”

“That’s a Randy business venture I’d appreciate.” Tweek snorted in reply.

Stan’s smile slowly faded from his face, bringing up his next topic as if he did not actually want to discuss it. “Did Kenny ask you about the fair this Sunday?”

Tweek shook his head, “No, what fair?”

“Oh, well, there’s a fair in Denver, my boyfriend and I are gonna go with Kyle and Heidi and I thought Kenny was gonna ask you.”

“As like… a date?” Tweek couldn’t decide if he wanted to widen his eyes or pinch his eyebrows together. He had no inclination that Kenny was interested in him romantically, but given that it was a trip with two other couples, he drew on the context clues.

Stan shrugged, peering up and away, “Yeah, I dunno, I guess so. Sorry, I’ll let him talk to you about it. I guess he’s into you.”

“Really?” It sounded borderline absurd. Kenny had flirted with him, sure, but it all felt like good-natured teasing. He had seen Kenny in action in high school trying to get into someone’s pants—he could tell the difference.

“Yeah, I guess,” Stan said with another exaggerated shrug and what sounded like contempt in his tone. He drummed against the desk with his hands before pushing away. “Sorry I ruined the surprise, just wanted to see if he asked yet. See ya around,”

Tweek’s head became heavy with the notion of Kenny being interest in him in a more-than-coworkers kind of way. It was flattering to be admired by someone so attractive, but just as in grade school, he admired Kenny from afar. Stan, Kyle, and Kenny had always been a trio of outspoken doers, getting themselves wrapped up in situations Tweek wanted to stay far away from.

Panic surrounding how he was going to let Kenny down gently flooded his mind for the rest of the shift.

_

“Done for the day?”

On his to his car, Tweek was beckoned by Craig’s voice from his right. The man had propped himself up against a massive, concrete supporting beam, iPhone out, thumbs in the texting position. His soft smile sent Tweek’s stomach into fits.

“Uh, yeah. What about you?” he took strides away from the exit doors to be closer to him.

Craig shook his head, “Taking my second fifteen already. I get off at three.”

Tweek widened his eyes, “You work six to three?”

“Every day,” Craig confirmed, “I’m not a fancy college-goer like you.”

Tweek scoffed, “Fancy is not an accurate way to describe anything about me.”

Craig shrugged, pursing his lips inward, “University of Colorado Boulder seems pretty fancy to me.”

Tweek’s stomach dropped, “Did Kenny tell you that?”

“Yep. And that you’re going into psychology. That’s pretty cool.” Craig confirmed.

Tweek noted the cute way he pronounced psychology with his subtle speech impediment, shifting the subject to Kenny, attempting to do some reconnaissance. “Thanks, it’s alright, I guess. So, does Kenny… talk about me a lot?”

Craig looked away, thinking for a moment, “Not really. Why?”

The blond exhaled deeply, unsure of whether or not Craig could be trusted with the information. He could not help himself, about to absolutely boil over, “Stan just told me he’s gonna ask me on a date to the fair with him.”

Craig’s entire demeanor instantly shifted. His perpetually stoic expression transformed into an affronted one. “What?”

“Yeah, I don’t know…” Tweek trailed off, suddenly feeling as if he were causing drama. “It’s just what Stan said, though, so I don’t know how true it is.”

“Well, Heidi is going to go with them all and she said it was supposed to be a double-date, so,” Craig spoke more quickly than usual and crossed his arms over his chest tightly. “Are you going to say yes?”

Tweek shook his head, “I mean, I like Kenny, but not like that. I guess I’ll just have to talk to him.”

“Yeah, I guess you will.” Craig fired back quickly. The sinking feeling in Tweek’s stomach ensued. “Anyways, I have to go back in before I get another break violation. See you tomorrow.”

“See ya…” Tweek trailed off, wishing he had never been born just to upset Craig like that.

Why was everyone so tense about Kenny? First Stan was cross about the whole thing, and then Craig became uncharacteristically offended when the topic arose. Tweek figured given Stan’s relationship status that it was not a reflection on his own feelings for Kenny, and perhaps he just wasn’t a huge fan of Tweek’s, but as far as he knew Craig was single. Maybe the complaints and grievances Craig displayed for him were mere coverups for a crush, or even deeper feelings.

Tweek drove off to pick up some food for himself and Token, ready to fill his friend in on the latest work drama that he had been eager to hear at the end of each day. Token did not work, using the summers for their intended purpose of giving students a break between semesters. Despite his gratefulness at being able to afford not working, he was often exceedingly bored.

Tweek was happy for this, because there was a lot to get off of his chest that day. Including his first extremely irritating customer.

Chapter 6: Carpool

Notes:

sorry this chapter is kind of sh*tty but thank you to my big brained gf ambercreek95 for talking me through this chap and giving me the petty/gossipy craig energy i needed in her new chapter of Crocodile Rock!! go read it or i'll punch u!!
jk but it is amazing and so is she!!!
thanks for all the reads n comments and kudos !!!! (:

TW: mention of drug overdose death ; twenny flirting and being bffs

Chapter Text

“Craig!”

A voice beckoned him back into consciousness. As soon as his eyelids separated again, he watched a hand come down and harshly pat his cheek. He shook his head, dipping away from Wendy, “Dude, you didn’t have to f*cking hit me, I was already awake!”

Carol snickered, placing a hand on her jutted-out hip, “You deserve it for fallin’ asleep during our meetin’ again!”

Craig only felt mildly sorry for dozing off half-way through nearly every weekly Inventory Team meeting. While Carol did her best to make it as quick and painless as possible, there was no such thing as an exciting, Monday morning work venture. His guilt was lessened by the slaps to the face, shouting in his ear, tickling, or any other creative way that Wendy decided to wake him—and for the support from the other two for her to continue.

Once the meeting was concluded, Wendy and Carol rushed off to begin the daily counts for the day. Each morning a list was generated of various skus throughout the store that needed to be counted and confirmed, thus keeping track of all the merchandise. The number of items to count could range anywhere from 100-500, so there were plenty of days in which Craig was beckoned to help before he began auditing the mega racks.

It was tedious and horrible, but he truly did not mind the monotony. Department by department, he scaled ladders to double check the overstock and confirm that everything entered into the computer system was on the correct pallet. Technically, all he had to do was print up a report and notify the department managers to fix it, but that would decrease his workload by at least an hour a day, so he would fix the mistakes himself. Even then, he was often done well before the end of his shift, and would wander aimlessly around the store, killing time and occasionally helping out the managers and sales personnel with menial tasks.

There were plenty of days where he swore he would die of boredom, but he wouldn’t complain; it paid for his studio apartment, video game addiction, and terrible diet of entirely fast-food.

“Hey, Craig,” Bethany stopped him before they made it out of the conference room by tugging on his arm. She was a small, middle-aged woman from the Philippines. She was in charge of keeping track of items that went out-of-stock, so Craig hardly saw her, but she was extremely kind and funny. “Did you hear what the intruder did?

Craig stifled a laugh, wetting his lips, “Nope, what happened?”

Her voice dropped to an unnecessary whisper, nose scrunched in disgust, “He was going through our lockers.”

The Intruder was Bethany’s nickname for the new assistant general manager, Gordon. The man entered the work environment and immediately began cracking down on everyone, to no one’s appreciation. On top of this he was extremely awkward. Craig could not stand him for both reasons, as he forced him to stop wearing earbuds while he did his audits and attempted to be relatable with excruciatingly lame jokes and quips. Craig asked, “Why?”

“You tell me!” She exclaimed as they began tracing out of the conference room. They passed through the second breakroom as she continued, “But I saw it! He think he is so sneaky… I ought to report him.”

Craig listened amusedly as she continued to rant about other suspicious or annoying things Gordon had done the whole way to the front-end desk to pick up their tablets. They were forced to separate when Craig sped off to the electrical department to complete his task and to avoid the wrath of Kyle Broflovski, who was already visibly irate at eight o’clock in the morning.

“What’s good, stretch?” Kenny greeted Craig on watching him trace by the electrical desk.

Craig cast an annoyed gaze over to the insufferable blond sales associate. “Hey, idiot.”

Kenny feigned for shock, snorting, “Well, good morning and f*ck you, too.”

“I’m not in the mood, Kenny.”

Craig had nearly managed to forget about the fact that he was planning to ask Tweek out on a date. With the ability to subscribe to logic, he knew that being angry with Kenny for finding the very attractive Tweek attractive also was ridiculous and uncalled for, but he could not help it. It just seemed like even when he was not trying to frustrate Craig, he still managed to effectively do so.

“Can I just ask you something?” Craig said pointlessly as he approach the desk Kenny was leaning against, fully intending on continuing before there was even a chance for a rebuttal. He had changed his mind about not wanting to converse about the topic, the need for answers overthrowing his better judgement, “Why are you f*cking around with Tweek when we all know you’re in love with Marsh? It’s a little f*cked up, don’t you think?”

Kenny’s heart sank at the mention of his affection for Stan, but effectively sidestepped the comment and contorted his features in confusion, “What the hell are you talking about?”

Craig rolled his eyes, “Don’t play dumb, I know you are all going to the fair, and you’re asking him as your date.”

f*ck, Kenny thought, Stan is such a little sh*t. He let his eyes shut, exasperated, “Dude, I’m not asking Tweek out on a date. I was f*ckin’ joking with Stan about it.”

Craig remained unconvinced, “Why would you joke about that?”

“Have you met me?”

The dark-haired man began to disarm at this juncture, feeling a bit stupid. He had also realized at that point that he had said way too much for the observant Kenny to not be privy to his attraction toward Tweek. Craig shook his head, quickly looking down at his tablet to hide the apparently very obvious blush that he felt creep across his face. “You should definitely tell Tweek that, then. He is under the impression you’re romantically interested in him.”

Kenny smirked, stashing a hand in the pocket of his baggy khaki cargo pants as he stepped around the desk, “And clearly, as someone who is romantically interested in him, this upsets you.”

Craig scoffed defensively, disregarding the pointed look he was receiving from his friend. “I never said I was interested in Tweek.”

“Yes you did,” Kenny contradicted. “Just not in so many words.”

Craig lifted his gaze from the mobile device and huffed, “You’re annoying.”

“And you, my friend, are f*cking hopeless.” Kenny chuckled, reaching up and managing to pinch Craig’s stubbly cheek before getting his hand struck down. “Why don’t ya just ask the poor twink out? Clearly the feelings are mutual, which really sucks for him.”

“Why don’t you just ask Stan out?” Craig fired back, instantly experiencing a pang of guilt, fully aware of the reason.

Much to his relief, Kenny laughed it off, “Oh trust me, I have. I’m serious, though, man, he really does like you. What’s stopping you?”

It was an undeniably good point. There wasn’t anything stopping him from at least asking to get to know Tweek better. Perhaps it didn’t even have to be romantic at first—though, he would not mind if it was.

“Besides,” Kenny’s voice intercut his inner monologue, “If I was trying to f*ck Tweek, I would definitely invite you to join us.”

“Alright, that is enough of you for the day.” Craig concluded nonchalantly, turning around and leaving Kenny at the electrical desk.

Though Kenny was absolutely stupid, the conversation made him feel immensely better. Not only did he not have to compete with Kenny, but he could also be reasonably sure that Tweek felt the same way. Not that he was a total idiot and didn’t notice Tweek’s lingering stares and shy smiles as potential mutual interest, but it was always better to have affirmation. So, what is going to stop him now? Probably just the fact that he was an awkward asshole.

Maybe Tweek was worth subduing this aspect of his personality.

_

It had only been about a half-hour into Kenny’s shift that he got the opportunity to clear things up with Tweek. There was not much freight to do that morning, so he had finished putting it all away by 8:30 A.M. and was ready to enter in the new pallet information into System 5.

“Hey,” Kenny greeted as his fellow blond claimed access to a computer. He practiced self-control in not calling him something stupid like gorgeous or sweetheart as he usually did, knowing it would no longer be construed as a joke.

Tweek flashed him an uncomfortable grin before taking in a long sip of his coffee that he had stashed on the shelf bellow them earlier that morning. His eyes were avoidant, focusing on absolutely anything but Kenny. It was pretty amusing, and perhaps borderline disappointing how very clearly uninterested in Kenny he was. But, he would not complain—he was not interested in Tweek either.

He may as well have some fun with it, though.

“Tweek… there’s somethin’ that I wanna ask you,” Kenny began after a few moments of quiet had passed over them. He noted Tweek’s comedically widened stare.

Tweek let out a long, quiet sigh before turning to Kenny with a fake grin. “Uh, yeah, what’s up?”

Kenny scanned him up and down. He really could see himself being genuinely interested in someone like Tweek. He possessed a long list of endearing qualities and presented a soft, stylish persona. That day he was dressed a pair of light wash, relaxed fit jeans and a baggy, soft green short-sleeved button-down, which looked cute despite one button being out of place, making the garment appear crooked. His funky, mismatched socks were visible, as he had rolled up his jeans. He looked effortlessly cool and unique, and his face was equally gorgeous and interesting—large, light brown eyes, a Keebler nose dusted with tiny, pale freckles, and alluring Cupid’s bow lips. He almost wished he could possess feelings for him, charm him, win him over—move on from Stan.

He just didn’t even compare.

“So, Stan and his boyfriend, Kyle and Heidi, and I are gonna go to this fair in Denver this weekend and I was wondering if you…” Kenny paused, looking away and laughing nervously as he took a step closer to him. He prided himself on his ability to act coy, the look on Tweek’s face absolutely priceless as he reached over and fiddled with the hem of the shirt, fixing the buttoning error. “Would wanna come with us? As like my—”

“Kenny, can I just…” Tweek interrupted, clearing his throat. “I’m not… I don’t really—”

“Completely platonic friend and protect me from being the fifth wheel?”

Tweek closed his mouth, expression falling into a sassy grimace as Kenny began laughing at his own pseudo-prank. Caught up on the stunt, Tweek sighed, “So, I take it Craig is not a good person to confide in?”

“No, Craig’s a huge f*ckin’ gossip. Especially don’t tell him sh*t involving me, ‘cause he loves yelling at me.”

Tweek frowned, looking away again, “Sorry… I just, I really didn’t want to hurt your feelings in any way, and Stan told me you wanted me to be your date, and I just… Sorry, I feel like such a dick,”

“You’re fine, man. I’ve been accused of much worse than having a crush on you,” Kenny laughed good-naturedly. “Stan’s the only one I’m a little annoyed at. But, I’m always a little annoyed at him, so nothin’ new,”

Letting out a relieved sigh, Tweek replied, “Yeah, it was pretty weird how Stan told me. He seemed sorta mad at me for it.”

This revelation caused a sinking sensation in the base of Kenny’s stomach. Of course, he seemed mad. Of course, he was unfairly jealous of his nonexistent romantic interest in Tweek—just as he seemed jealous of any guest or friend who so much as sent Kenny a wink. It made the desire he felt to call Stan his that much more agonizing.

Kenny found himself at a loss of words, offering Tweek a mere shrug instead. He feared the pain was evident in his expression, as Tweek reached out a comforting hand to grasp his wrist, “I would love to come with you, Kenny.”

The pair grinned at one another, a mutual understanding being exchanged wordlessly. Kenny nodded, “Thank you.”

He spent the rest of the day sulking over Stan as usual, but the prospect of soon spending a day out with him and his boyfriend became much less daunting as he joked around with his new friend, Tweek.

_

“Kyle, you look fine,” Stan groaned, face in hands. “You’re going to be late picking up Heidi!”

Kyle scrunched his nose in dissatisfaction, the mirror’s image not reflecting exactly what he wanted to see despite this being the third outfit he had tried on and modelled for his two good friends. Kenny had come over to their apartment before their departure to the fair as he had (stupidly) agreed to carpool with Gary and Stan. Tweek and Gary were instructed to convene at Stan and Kyle’s place, and Kyle was to pick up Heidi from her’s. He exhaled deeply, “I’m just nervous, okay?! This is our first actual date since she bailed on me for Cartman.”

Kenny loved the way Kyle spoke his rival’s last name—both syllables laced with pure disgust. Kyle had developed a crush on Heidi in the midst of her horribly unhealthy relationship with Cartman, watching the poor, sweet girl endure an onslaught of horrible, manipulative antics and knowing he could treat her better. Once the two had finally broken up, he slowly inserted himself into the picture. He asked her out on a date to which she agreed but was almost immediately talked out of it by Cartman. He was livid at her ex-boyfriend for sabotaging their relationship, but was elated when Heidi agreed to give him a second chance and be his guest to the fair.

Kenny attempted to motivate him to stop obsessing over his appearance with a compliment and a time update, “Well, ya look sexy as hell in that sweater and you have fifteen minutes to get over there,”

Settling on his pullover and a pair of jeans, Kyle reached into his closet and procured a plain, black Nike ball cap. He placed his over his neatly combed and styled bush of curly ginger hair. Stan threw him a bemused look, “Dude, why the hell did you spend so much time on your hair just to put a hat on?”

“I don’t know, f*ck off, Stan.” Kyle spat back dismissively. “I’ll see you guys at the fair!”

With that, he sauntered out of the bedroom, leaving Stan and Kenny to mock him some more after the sound of jingling keys and a slamming door signified his absence. After receiving a text from Gary announcing that he was pulling into the complex, Stan headed toward the exit of Kyle’s room, and Kenny took a look at himself in Kyle’s full-length mirror on the way out.

“Jesus, I need a haircut.” Kenny complained, ruffling his fingers through his tousled, blond ringlets as he peered at his reflection. “My sh*t looks like that one dude from One Direction in 2010.”

Stan chuckled, raising an arm to lean against the doorframe. “Did you just compare yourself to Harry Styles and also forget his name? That’s, like, double blasphemy.”

Kenny perked his head to the side, pouting a lip, “You don’t think my hair is as good as Harry Styles's?”

“f*ck off,” Stan rolled his eyes, unable to fight the smirk that curled his hips. “You know how I feel about your hair.”

With that he continued to make his way down the hall, leaving Kenny to recall the blissful memory of Stan’s hands tangled up in his ridiculous mop of hair, tugging at it gently as their lips hungrily attached. He licks his lips, cursing Stan for bringing it up right before he was forced to interact with the ray of overrated sunshine that was Gary Harrison.

“Heya, Kenny! How’s it going? Job treating you okay? How’s your family?!” Kenny was instantly bombarded with a line of questioning from the new presence in the apartment.

“Heya, Gary,” Kenny shot back, matching the enthusiasm in a sardonic tone that he would never pick up on, “Just fine, just fine, and just fine. You?”

“I’m fantastic, my job is fantastic, and my family is fantastic!” Gary remarked back with a hearty laugh and a thumbs up.

Gary always reminded Kenny of what he could potentially look like if he had the time, money, or energy to take care of himself (aside from having a solid five inches of height on him, which was immensely frustrating). His light blond hair was always immaculately styled into an attractive swoop, his bright, blue eyes devoid of any wrinkles or bags, and his clothing always stylish and crisp. On a good day, Kenny brushed his hair and found socks that were not riddled with holes. Despite being an unceasingly kind and pleasant presence, Kenny could not stand him.

Stan smiled between the two of them, “Tweek almost here?”

“Yep, he texted me ‘bout a twenty minutes ago. He lives out in Fairplay with a friend, so,” Kenny trailed off, becoming a bit distracted by Gary caressing the small of Stan’s back. It made a lump form in his throat.

He was immensely grateful to the timid knock that sounded on the door only a minute or so later. Stan flung the door open to reveal the adorable Tweek, clad in almost exactly what he wore to work every day, but without the royal blue vest covering his vertical black and yellow striped button-down. The four exchanged greetings and introductions before piling in Stan’s car and beginning the forty-five-minute journey to Denver’s fairgrounds.

Kenny half paid attention to a work horror story Tweek was relaying, gazing fixedly at Stan in the driver’s seat. Unsure why, he had always loved to watch him drive, admiring his handsome profile and feeling an eruption of excitement when he would occasionally turn to glance at him. The joy-inducing image was tarnished by the fact that it was someone else that Stan was granting sweet, quick looks and smiles to.

“Hey,” Tweek addressed him, eyebrow co*cked. “You feeling okay?”

“What?” Kenny muttered, replacing his gaze on Tweek. The inquiry loaded in his mind before Tweek was forced to repeat the question, “Yeah, sorry, m’fine. Just tired. Anyone care if I smoke?”

“Just don’t get ash in my car,” Stan ordered.

Kenny jested, “We’ll see what happens,” as he tugged the white and red cigarette box from his jean jacket. The first long, calming drag instantly helped soothe the nerves boiling in his stomach.

After a short bout of silence, Tweek spoke up, shocking Kenny with the nature of the declaration, “You know, Kenny, you sorta look hot when you smoke.”

Throwing his fellow blond a vaguely confused expression, he caught the wink he sent him. Kenny allowed himself a smile, quipping back, “Thanks, T. You look hot doing just about anything,”

Tweek giggled flirtatiously, scooting a bit closer to his friend, “No really! I’m not usually into guys smoking but I don’t know, maybe I can make an exception just for you.”

“Lucky me,” Kenny crooned after puffing out a line of smoke out the window.

“Well, I hate that you smoke,” Stan interjected, tone short. “it smells like sh*t and you’re gonna die.”

A pleased expression crossed Tweek’s face as he stifled a genuine laugh. Kenny held one back as well, addressing the driver, “If smokin’ gives me cancer when I’m 80, I don’t f*cking care. Who the hell wants to be 90 anyway?”

“Right,” Tweek snorted. “You’re so funny, Kenny.”

“That’s pretty f*cking selfish.” Stan grumbled.

Gary twisted around to regard Kenny, “You know, this woman at the homeless shelter my family and I volunteer at has just officially made it thirty days clean from her opioid addiction, and she quit smoking at the same time! I’m sure you could do it if she can!”

Kenny shot him a pointed look, “Well, my dad f*ckin’ died of a heroin overdose and he never quit smoking. Crazy world, lots of coping mechanisms.”

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to sound insensitive…” Gary frowned, turning back around.

Stan patted his thigh reassuringly and gave Kenny a look, "Dude, chill out. You know he didn't mean anything by it."

Kenny wanted to scream until he felt an arm circle around his middle, and Tweek’s head drop against his shoulder. He draped his arm across Tweek’s shoulders as he whispered, “I’m really sorry about your dad, Kenny.”

“It’s cool. This definitely makes me feel way better.” Kenny replied, putting out the small blaze at the end of his cigarette with his calloused fingertips. He held the litter in his hand, unable to reach his pack to stash it. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched both of Stan’s hands return to the ten-and-two position, gripping the wheel harshly.

“Is it working?” Tweek whispered much lower against Kenny’s neck.

Kenny smiled sadly. Stan’s unjust envy in combination with the reference to that one night caused indignance and sorrow to battle in his chest. Despite this, he was grateful for the backup that Tweek surprisingly provided. He nodded to answer Tweek’s question, though he wished it weren’t working.

Chapter 7: The Fair pt. 1

Notes:

huge, major, fat ass shout out to my dear lovely friends ambercreek95 and thelotusflower for essentially holding my hand as i wrote this whole chapter. i love u both immensely and owe u my life
thanks for reads and comments n kudos also!!!
please dont hate me or stan!!!! (:

Chapter Text

There was something that did just not make sense about Tweek.

The guy was cool and nice enough, but something simply felt off. What kind of guy shows up at a job and immediately starts flirting with two different people? He showed blatant interest in Craig (according to Kenny, at least), and was clearly infatuated with Kenny as well. There was just something troubling about it.

These thoughts circled through Stan’s muddled brain as he watched the pair laugh and brush shoulders unnecessarily, competing in a race against Kyle and Heidi at a water gun target game for a floral-patterned teddy bear. Kyle was operating one gun while Tweek did the other, Heidi and Kenny cheering on their respective dates. This was the fifteenth game that group had engaged in together and nearing their second hour at the fair that was steadily growing in population. In the end it was Tweek that reigned victorious, and Stan watched in discontent as he procured the stuff animal from the game attendant and turned to Kenny, presenting it dramatically, “For you, milady.”

“Oh, you shouldn’t have,” Kenny giggled, putting on a joking, high pitched voice.

“Stan, are you alright?” Gary’s voice beckoned him to reality. “You’re sort of squeezing my hand really hard.”

“Sorry,” Stan muttered back, releasing his inadvertent death grip.

Gary merely smiled graciously at him, “It’s okay. Is there something bothering you?”

Stan shook his head, glare still fixed on the two blonds having way too much fun with one another. He wanted to focus on Kyle and Heidi hitting it off, as he was quite happy for his friend. He also wanted to enjoy the nice, sunny summer day out with his boyfriend, surrounded by the hustle of happy patrons enjoying various games and rides. He wanted to stop over-analyzing the way Kenny’s honey eyes lingered on Tweek’s face or the way his nose crinkled when he laughed at his jokes.

“I’ll win you something way cuter,” Kyle promised Heidi, a sly grin curling his lips as he looked at her.

Kenny nodded at Heidi, “Don’t get your hopes up. Kyle’s sh*t at all of this stuff.”

“That’s not true!” Kyle fired back, “I’m good at the basketball thing!”

“That’s just one thing, dude,” Stan snorted, forcing himself into the conversation despite his desire to sulk in silence, “and basketball isn’t an inherently carnival skill.”

He felt entirely too pleased with himself when his comment caused a musical chuckle to fall from Kenny’s mouth. Stan watch his lips remain stuck in a smile, biting down on his piercing, their eyes connecting for a blissful moment. He lifted his dark eyebrows slightly toward him, silently begging him to maintain the contact and not pay anyone else a cent’s worth of attention.

Stan knew in his heart he was being unreasonable. There is nothing wrong with Tweek—he was nice. He seems a bit pretentious and eccentric and he had definitely come on way to strong toward Kenny, but he was fine. Maybe he would even be really good for Kenny. He hadn’t had any kind of relationship or fling in quite some time, and he absolutely deserved happiness more than anyone he knew.

“Do you even win prizes from those basketball games?” Heidi questions, peering over at the attraction in question from across where the group was standing. There was a short line of prepubescent boys waiting to take turns shooting basketballs at the hoops with absurdly long nets connected to them.

Kyle nodded, “Yeah, they let you pick a ball to keep.”

“Yeah, Kyle, win her a basketball. Very romantic,” Kenny snickered, waving his teddy bear prize proudly.

Heidi shot him a playful glare, “What, you think just because I’m a girl I don’t want a basketball?! That’s sexist.”

“How is that sexist? I’d much rather have this bear, and I’m a dude,” Kenny retorted, shrugging, “Kinda,”

Stan snorted at the comment only he understood, being privy to Kenny’s gender identity. Bet Tweek doesn’t know what the f*ck that means, he thought bitterly.

Kyle grasped Heidi’s hand, sticking his nose up, “Come on, Heidi, let’s get you a ball.”

With a giggle, she traced behind him, their hands still connected. Tweek and Gary cooed in unison, making Kenny bark a laugh and peer at Stan, “Gays are so f*cking sentimental.”

“What?!” Tweek exclaimed, “They’re cute!”

Gary chuckled heartily, “It’s really nice to see Kyle with someone so great! She seems like a real smart gal.”

“She’s pretty awesome,” Kenny agreed as the congregation began to migrate aimlessly. He addressed Stan again as the four ambled together, “Have I ever told you how I think she looks like Hailee Steinfeld?”

“Yes! You’re totally right!” Stan exclaimed in agreement.

Gary knit his eyebrows together, “Who is that?”

“She’s in that new transformers movie about Bumblebee,” Stan answered.

“Ah,” Gary nodded, shrugged, “I don’t watch movies very often.”

Kenny’s following statement gave Stan’s chest an obnoxious flutter, “Movies is sorta me and Stan’s thing.”

“Speaking of movies and such,” Tweek chimed back in, grinning down at Kenny, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Evan Peters?”

Stan’s blood began to boil again. He watched out of the corner of his eye as Kenny smirked stupidly back at him, “I can’t say I’ve heard that one, but thanks, he’s f*ckin’ hot. I’ve got a soft spot for blonds.”

“Really?” Stan interjected reflexively. The very quiet, logical portion of his brain urged him to calm himself, but he sputtered on flippantly anyway, “Because you told me that you like his darker hair better. And your number one celebrity crush is Bill Hader.”

Kenny’s mouth opened and shut, eyebrows furrowed before he could conduct an intelligible response, “Yeah, but I’m not gonna deny myself the pleasure of enjoying a hot blond.”

Kenny was not the only one completely perplexed by Stan’s behavior. Wary glances were being exchanged between Tweek and Gary as well, and with each unwarranted huff, the tallest blond of the three scooted closer to his boyfriend. Stan rolled his eyes, shooting back, “Yeah, clearly you’re interested in anything with a heartbeat.”

“Um, excuse me?” Tweek fired back in a way that made Stan instantly regret his mouth’s disconnect from his self-control. “Do you have a f*cking problem with me or something, Stan?”

“Yeah, dude, you’re kinda acting like a lunatic,” Kenny chuckled nervously, though gleam in his eyes had shifted from confusion to something else—something deeper that Stan wished he had the time to analyze.

“I’m—no, I don’t have a problem with anyone, I’m—” He stopped himself and peered to Kenny. His self-awareness finally caught up to him and flush flashed across his face. “I didn’t—”

“Hey, Stan, let’s go ride the Ferris Wheel,” Gary cut in, charming, generous smile unfazed by the witless ramblings.

As he was ushered away, he caught a glimpse of the remaining annoyance written into Tweek’s features, a combination of swirling guilt and adrenaline making his whole body tense. The thought what the f*ck is wrong with me crossed his mind for the hundredth time that day, and for the billionth time in his lifetime.

The couple journeyed the short distance to the Ferris Wheel attraction in silence. Stan attempted to shake the uproar of intense, incomprehensible feelings as they weaved in and out of groupings of various families and friend groups waiting in line or bustling along between attractions. Over a loud-speaker somewhere, generic pop music was playing, the sound blending with the dings and buzzes of the various games as Stan’s brain slipped away from reality and even deeper into a hyper fixation on the way Kenny’s lips told the story of his displeasure with his behavior.

The Ferris Wheel was painted white and decorated with multicolored spotlights on the spokes and carts. The line was only about five people long when Stan and Gary approached. Feeling a breeze nip at his exposed forearms, Stan tugged down the black Colorado Rockies sweatshirt, pulling the cuffs into the palms of his clammy hands. He held back a flinch when he felt Gary’s hand clasp his elbow.

“Hey, do you want to talk about how crazy that was?” Gary offered, only half-joking, but fully concerned.

Stan forced himself to focus his attention on Gary. He exhaled, “Sorry, I just… I don’t know, I don’t like Tweek’s vibe.”

“How do you mean, Stan? He’s been really sweet and pleasant to me so far! Am I missing something?” Gary asked, rubbing ginger circles against his arm.

Stan allowed himself to be comforted by Gary’s presence. The took a few steps forward as the next couple were guided into a newly vacant cart. He extrapolated as he watched the attendant close the gate and prepare to whisk them away, “I can’t explain it. He just seems sketchy to me. You know he has a crush on this other guy at work, too? Plus, he’s only been there for, like, barely two weeks. I just don’t get why they’re so buddy-buddy already.”

Gary shrugged, “Maybe they just have a connection. I guess my real question is why do you care so much?”

He was not prepared to answer that question. Not even allowing himself a moment to think on it—and thus ride another downward spiral into insanity—he merely shrugged, “f*ck, I don’t know. I’m just in a bad mood, I guess. I’m sorry for acting like a dickhe*d.”

Gary pulled him into a one-armed embrace and pressed a kiss to the side of his head. As they stood there like that, occasionally inching closer to the ride, Stan had the fleeting wish that he felt those same butterflies for being hugged and kissed by his boyfriend as he did from Kenny’s sideways glance.

Once on the ride, Gary relayed a story about something hilarious his brother said, followed by another story about something amazing his baby sister did. Stan could hardly keep up with his now eight brothers and sisters, but did his absolute best, knowing how important his family, faith, and work is to him. He acted as an event coordinator for a South Park charity organization for the homeless that provided shelter, food, and personal care products. Gary and his sister came up with the idea from the acknowledgement of the town’s staggering homeless problem. Their parents gave them the funds to make it realistic, and it soon took off, and is Gary’s entire life. He organizes fundraisers and such to help fund the charity, events which Stan often helps plan and attends.

As the couple were descending from the peak of the ride, Stan glanced to his right to noticed two familiar figures sitting on a bench. He did a double-take, absolutely positive it was Kenny and Tweek when he considered the oversized, light denim jean jacket his friend wore every day. Their masses of blond curls had blended as if their faces were pressed together. Stan’s heart dropped to the base of his stomach, he muttered involuntarily, “Are they f*cking kissing?”

“What? Who?” Gary asked, not up to speed on Stan’s observation.

Stan plunged his hand into the front pocket of his jeans, retrieving his cell phone. He flipped open his camera and turned his body to face where Tweek and Kenny sat. He used his thumb and index finger to zoom in on them, squinting desperately to discern whether or not their mouths were connected.

“Stan, what in the hell are you doing?” Gary wondered, surprising authority in his tone.

Panicked, Stan clicked his phone shut and replaced it into the pouch of his hoodie. He shrugged, “Just thought I saw Kenny—”

“Do you think you could go a full thirty minutes without talking about Kenny?”

That all-too familiar combination of regret and anguish rose within Stan again, making his stomach churn. He cupped a hand over his mouth, rejecting the bile that was attempting to creep up his throat.

Bewilderment was written into Gary’s features, especially his usually steady blue eyes, “Are you going to throw up?”

Stan shook his head. He allowed himself a moment to regain the faulty composure he had been suffering with since the ride there before replying, “No, I’m fine, I was just curious, is all—”

“You are acting really weird about him and Tweek,” Gary stated blatantly. His set jaw did nothing to calm the rocky waves of nerves in Stan’s stomach. “Do I need to be worried?”

“What?! No, dude, seriously,” Stan sighed. As he was sputtering for an acceptable reasoning for his unsettling behavior, a vibration in his pocket captured his attention. He pulled out the device again, a goofy photo of Kyle illuminating the screen. “One sec,” he told Gary, swiping his thumb across the glass before pressing the device to his ear, “What’s up?”

“Dude,” Kyle’s voice seethed, “Can you please come over to the merry-go-round?! Cartman f*cking showed up and he’s being f*cking insane!”

“Are you kidding me?! Yes—yeah, Gary and I will be right over—” the line went dead before Stan could finish his sentence.

“What’s going on?” Gary questioned, frustration still evident on his face.

“I have been summoned probably to break up a fight between Cartman and Kyle.” Stan groaned, blowing a raspberry. “I can’t believe I have to do this on and off the clock.”

The pair went silent for the few more minutes that they were held up on the Ferris Wheel. As they dismounted and headed toward the merry-go-round, Gary caught the sleeve of Stan’s jacket. Blue met blue, and the blazing gaze did not allow Stan to forget how he had f*cked up.

“We’re talking about Kenny later.”

Chapter 8: The Fair pt. 2

Notes:

thanks for all the comments and supports ladies and gays! hope you like d r a m a !

Chapter Text

“I really am sorry to hear about your dad, by the way,” Tweek began as the pair claimed a vacant bench. They decided to procure a few sodas and split a funnel cake after Gary bit the bullet and whisked the moody Stan away. “I knew he died, but I didn’t know it was an overdose.”

“It’s cool,” Kenny’s reply came out as a grunt as he leaned down to set the disposable cup full of Sprite on the concrete ground. He provided more of an explanation as he pulled out his pack of Marlboros. “I was nine, so, I’ve had plenty of time to cope. Him and my mom were both druggies my whole life anyway.”

Tweek raised his eyebrows, waiting for his mouth to be somewhat less full of funnel cake to ask, “Carol?”

“Oh, yeah. Carol did heroin and meth until he died. She spent a year in prison after my brother, Kevin, called the cops to tell them our dad was passed out dead in the recliner.”

Tweek felt his heart separate at the retelling of such a traumatic event. He could not believe that they grew up in the same town their whole lives and he had no idea what Kenny went through. Granted, they had always been part of two completely different social groups and entirely separate classes throughout high school, but he would still see him almost every day in the halls, aside from the stretch of a few years where he had moved schools—or so, Tweek thought.

Kenny seemed almost entirely unbothered, though he could not hide the hint of pain that flashed in his eyes, dancing with the reflection of the flame from his lighter as he ignited a cigarette. He watched him breath out a line of smoke before replying, “That is so horrible, Kenny, I’m so sorry. I had no clue… Wait, so what happened to you and your siblings?”

“Foster home,” Kenny huffed, throwing up his index and ring finger like a peace sign, “Two f*ckin’ years in one house, and another year in a new one. First one was almost as bad as my original home. They were, like, strictly agnostic and forced us to question all religions. It was bizarre as f*ck.”

Tweek narrowed his stare, “What the f*ck? How does that even work?”

Kenny shrugged, lauging at the ridiculous thought, “I dunno, man, but they were pretty abusive. Not toward me, Karen, and Kevin so much as the other kids that had been there longer, but yeah…I liked the second home a lot better. They weren’t bat-sh*t crazy. At least there weren’t any drugs at either place. Just the weed I sneaked in.”

Tweek snorted, “Weed is a f*cking plant. Completely different from synthetic opioids and… whatever the hell meth is. Wait, you started smoking weed when you were ten?”

Kenny laughed, and raised the hand that held his cigarette, “And these. I was a pretty f*cked up kid.”

“Well, that wasn’t you fault… I’m sorry, again. I can’t believe I didn’t even know all that, I feel like an idiot. I just assumed you guys went to live with other family or something for a while since your dad passed away… But your mom seems better now, yeah?” Tweek asked, attempting to steer the conversation in a more positive direction. He and Kenny were still essentially acquaintances, and he did not want to upset the balance of their still blossoming friendship with an overabundance of extremely personal questioning regarding his childhood trauma.

Kenny nodded from behind another sip of soda, “You’re not an idiot, it’s not like I announced any of this to the study body. But yeah, she’s twelve years clean. She won’t talk about it, but I think she went to rehab after she got outta jail. Took her a couple years to get back on her feet, but eventually she got custody of us back and we all lived in this tiny-ass two-bedroom apartment together. Kevin and I got jobs to help her save up for the house that we all live in now.”

“I do remember you working at City Wok when we were thirteen,” Tweek replied, proud of himself for recalling the detail. “I thought that was insane.”

Kenny took a drag on his cigarette, then shrugged, “Yeah, well, you started working for your parents when you were, like, f*ckin’ five.”

“That’s true.” Tweek sighed bitterly. “It’s still almost unbelievable to me that I’m not working at Tweek Bros… I mean, I’ve already had pretty long periods of time during school semesters that I wasn’t working there, but I knew I was going back… Now that I’m not it’s like… I don’t know, too good to be true, maybe?”

Kenny bobbed his head in understanding, carefully detaching a bite of funnel cake for himself, “I dunno much about your situation either, but your folks using you for free labor is pretty f*cked up. I’d be happy to be outta that, too.”

Tweek let out a sarcastic laugh, “I’m convinced a majority of the reason I’m so f*cking anxious is all the caffeine they let me drink since… probably infancy.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised. I remember you being super twitchy and shaky when we were younger,” Kenny recalled, “So, what, they fire you or somethin’?”

Tweek sighed, “Or something. We had this big, huge screaming match when I came back from school and it ended with me quitting and them kicking me out of their house and saying some pretty hom*ophobic sh*t so… Now I live with Token.”

“From the little I remember about Token, you are significantly better off. Sorry about all that, though. What was the fight about?”

Tweek felt a surge of anger rise within him at the thought of his parents. After chewing aggressively at his bite of funnel cake, he ranted, “I got back from school, like, a month ago, and they had come up with a schedule for me to start working again. They wanted me to work”—he counted on his fingers for emphasis—“Twelve hours on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, and then pull the all-nighters on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to make the donuts and pastries, and then show up for the morning rush shift on Saturdays and Sundays. And I was a manager. And they only paid me $9.50.”

Kenny scoffed loudly, “Dude, I wouldn’t even get out of bed for $10.50.”

“I know!” Tweek exclaimed, then continued, “Anyways, I told them there’s no way I’m doing that, and if I do, I want a raise. That did not go over well… Basically from then on it was just my dad and me yelling at each other while my mom, like, blubbering crying for us to calm down. My dad told me part of my payment is living in their house—even though I had to buy my own groceries and sh*t—and that I should be grateful he didn’t kick me out on my own when he found out I was a queer.”

Kenny scoffed a second time, “Queer? Is he 70 years old?”

“Might as well be. After that, I said I’m done, and I quit. They actually kicked me out after that.”

“Well, sh*t, dude, that sounds like a f*cked up reality TV show situation,” Kenny shook his head, “Sorry parents are such pieces of sh*t.”

Tweek shrugged, “At least I don’t have anyone working me like a mule and constantly berating me. Now I just have Stan berating me.”

While Tweek said it and meant it as a joke, Kenny huffed indignantly and shook his head. “Sometimes I really want to drown him.”

“C’mon, it’s fine. He is clearly having some kind of mental breakdown over the idea of you liking someone else.”

“Well, that isn’t f*cking fair, because he’s in a relationship,” Kenny spat back, feeling his heart clench. He cleared his throat, “Anyways, I’m again very sorry for his f*ckin’ asinine behavior. But hey, if I’m apologizing for my man, I think I deserve one about yours, too.”

Tweek scrunched his eyebrows together, “What are you talking about?”

Kenny smirked, very pleased to relay the story, “Craig was all pissed off at me for asking you out. Basically shouted at me at the electrical desk,”

Tweek’s spirits fell. He had almost forgotten about Craig’s crush on Kenny. He sipped slowly at his drink before he returned, “How do you get two guys you aren’t even dating to be so possessive over you?”

“What?” Kenny snorted, peering quickly over at Tweek in utter disbelief.

“What? Clearly, Craig has a thing for you if he’s so concerned about us going out,” Tweek shrugged, the look on Kenny’s face slowly making him feel like an idiot.

Kenny laughed heartily, clutching his chest, “Dude, sorry—no, I promise that is not it. Tucker basically hates me. You’re the one he’s all huffy about,”

“I barely even know him, man. I bet it’s you.” Tweek frowned, though he already felt significantly more hopeful toward the situation.

“You’re so cute, Tweek,” Kenny told him with a raise of his eyebrows. “Really, you are. I wish you didn’t have a crush on such a dumb asshole. Regardless, he definitely likes you back. I brought it up and he didn’t even argue with me.”

Tweek couldn’t help the grin that immediately stretched his lips. He tried to bite it away, but Kenny had already taken notice, cooing and nudging him with his shoulder. He rolled his eyes and leaned away, “f*ck off. That doesn’t really mean anything.”

“Trust me, for Craig, it means a lot. I’ve never heard him talk about anyone he wasn’t just complaining about. Plus, I saw you two together when we were cleaning up that huge juice mess. He couldn’t take his eyes off of you.”

Belly effectively filled with butterflies, Tweek lifted his gaze to find Kenny’s. He had the kind of genuine, endearing smile that filled you with courage. He allowed himself to trust his words and grin back, “I do catch him staring sometimes.”

“See!” Kenny chuckled. He paused for a moment after they had a laugh, leaning into Tweek’s face, “C’mere, you got powdered sugar on your face.”

“Oh, thanks,” Tweek said, looking up and away when Kenny swiped his thumb against his cheek. He hardly questioned how natural such a seemingly intimate action felt between the two of them. “I’m so bad at eating. I always get sh*t all over me.”

Kenny dusted off his hands when he had removed the smudged from Tweek’s face, “So is Karen. I used to have to wrestle her to wipe dirt and peanut butter off her face.”

A vibration sounded in the deep pocket of Kenny’s jean jacket. Tweek went to work removing the remaining, sticky confectioner’s sugar from his moist fingertips and palms as he heard half of Kenny’s conversation with an unknown person.

“What? What do you mean he… Okay, love, calm down… I—Him and Gary are still on the Ferris Wheel… Okay, I’ll be there in a second,”

Tweek knit his eyebrows together, standing with his concerned-looking friend, “What’s going on?”

“That was Heidi, Cartman’s trying to f*ckin’ fight Kyle or some sh*t, I don’t know,” Kenny huffed, “I’m being called as backup since the only person he actually listens to is Stan.”

Tweek’s confusion persisted as they ambled down rocky concrete path to reunite with their friend group that had apparently broken out into an altercation with another remember of the Menards crew. On approaching the merry-go-round, they pair caught a glimpse of Heidi, Kyle, and Cartman having a heated exchange, and an unfamiliar, small blond boy in a neck brace cowering closely behind Cartman.

The few exchanges Tweek had with Cartman were unpleasant, very much fitting the rest of his coworker’s perceptions of him. He was an overweight, perpetually bothered man with admittedly very nice, thick brown hair and gorgeous heterochrome eyes. Those were his only two pleasant qualities—even his voice was grating.

“Leo?!” Kenny questioned on approaching the congregation, “What the hell are you going here?”

“Oh, uh, hey, Ken,” The blond boy greeted after moving his entire body to the side to peer at them. He was roughly the same height as Kenny, but much thinner. A large, healing bruise adorned his right eye, and his small nose veered slightly more to the left than looked atomically correct. His voice was small, and possessed a syrupy, country twang, “Well, Eric’s license expired, and he needed a ride…”

Kenny’s furious expression turned to Cartman, who was still gesturing wildly at Kyle. He spouted over their skirmish, “Hey, asshole! Why the f*ck did you drag Leo all the way to f*ckin’ Denver after he just broke his f*ckin’ neck?! Have you officially lost your mind, fat boy?!”

Despite the spectacle before him, Tweek’s attention became quickly swept up in realization that the blond boy was Bebe’s assistant manager in wall coverings. His eyes widened as he refocused on the drama ensuing.

“He feels fine, Kenny,” Tweek winced at the ugly pronunciation of Kenny’s name that Cartman spat out, “Kyle’s the one you should be yelling at! He’s f*cking using Heidi like she’s some kind of commodity!”

Kenny’s eyes rolled to the back of his head, “What the f*ck is he on about?”

Heidi and Kyle stood side by side, her face scrunched in a combination of embarrassment and frustration, Kyle absolutely seething as he answered, “This f*cking insane sack of sh*t is accusing me of trying to get Heidi here just to f*ck her and then immediately start working on Wendy!”

Cartman threw his arms up in the air, “It’s true! I heard you saying it!”

“To who, you moron?! Nobody is going to back you up on your untrue bullsh*t!” Kyle shouted back, fists called at his side, “You’re just pissed because you f*cked up with Heidi and she decided she wants to date someone normal and to be treated like a human being!”

Cartman scoffed, instantly softening his expression when he peered over to Heidi, “I know we had some rough times, baby, but seriously… Kyle is going to hurt you so much worse than I ever did or would! I’m not leaving without you!”

“Actually, Eric, I should really be getting home soon, I don’t feel too good,”

“Not now, Butters!” Eric snapped. Tweek did not know Butters (Leo?), but he felt instantly defensive of him.

“Hey, do you wanna come sit down while they hash this out?” Tweek offered him, pointing to a bench a few yards away from where Cartman, Kyle, and now Kenny yelled back and forth. “I’ll grab you a bottle of water from the concession stand,”

Butters granted Tweek a pleasant grin, “Oh, uh… Well, sure, it seems like this’ll take a while…”

As Tweek began walking off with the complete stranger, Kenny mouthed him a thank you, and he grinned back. Butters basically collapsed against the long, wooden seat as soon as they approached, letting out a strangled groan. Tweek frowned, aiding him in readjusting to a comfortable position. “That better?”

“Oh, yeah,” Butters’s sigh of relief was painfully genuine. He peered up at Tweek with the brightest, sky blue eyes he had ever seen, “Thank you. What’s your name?”

“I’m Tweek. I’m new at Menards, friends with Kenny,”

“Oh, neat! Kenny’s a real good guy. It’s nice to meet ya! I’m Butters,”

Tweek smiled graciously at him, “Finally, someone with a name as goofy as mine.”

Butters laughed before Tweek promised he would return shortly with a water bottle for him. On the way to the concession stand, he ran into Gary and Stan, who were rushing toward the merry-go-round. The three stood in place for a moment as Stan questioned confusedly, “Hey, what’s going on?! Are they fighting?”

“Not physically,” Tweek confirmed. “Sort of sounds like Cartman is just being an asshole. Hopefully you’re in a better mood so you can defuse the situation.”

With that, Tweek continued on his way. He purchased a couple of ice-cold bottles of water and made his way back to Butters on the bench, in the exact position he had left him. He twisted the cap away for him and inquired, “Can you do this on your own?”

“Sure can! Thank you so much!” Butters stated, slowly and thankfully removing the disposable container from Tweek’s grasp.

Tweek transferred the condensation from the bottle onto his pant leg as he offered another amenity, “I have some Tylenol if you want. I carry it around with me for my headaches.”

“Oh, that’s alright! I’m on pain killers. I just need to be heading home to take ‘em and keep on my schedule…” Butters trailed off.

Tweek frowned, “Well, come on then. We’re not gonna take no for an answer.”

Butters’s expression revealed he was intimidated by the prospect of demanding anything from Cartman, but he allowed Tweek to support him to his feet anyway. They traced back over to where the altercation was taking place, now much calmer with the additional presence of Stan.

“—Can we at least agree that a fair is not an appropriate place to be having this conversation? Clearly, this is not a good idea, and if you guys start yelling at each other again, someone is probably going to call security on us.” Stan reasoned, gesturing diplomatically.

Cartman had his arms crossed over his chest, “I am just trying to look out for the woman that I love, alright?! That doesn’t have to start anything—”

“Are you f*cking joking?!” Kyle interjected, “You came up to me pratingly swinging!”

“Oh, for f*cks sake!” Heidi’s voice cut in, laced with frustration. She held her hands out between the two, as if to physically separated them and to scold them simultaneously, “Eric, I don’t need your protection! If you want to be with me, you should have treated me better when you had the chance! I’m giving Kyle that chance now and I need that to be none of your business! Please, stop following me around and telling me these awful things about him, I don’t want to be a part of your lies anymore! And stop torturing Butters! He is your only friend and pretty soon you’ll lose him!”

Tweek was impressed by the spiel, and the fact that Heidi said what was needed to be. With that, she strutted off, Kyle to follow closely. Kenny spoke up again, regarding Cartman, “Take Leo home now, and f*cking drive. If you get pulled over, pay the fine for your license.”

Cartman’s mouth opened and shut dumbly a few times before releasing a childish huff and looking over to Butters, “Alright, bud, let’s go.”

“Thanks, fellas. It was real nice to meet you, Tweek!” Butters spouted as he walked off toward the parking lot in the same path that Cartman stomped.

Tweek, Kenny, Gary, and Stan stood in a semi-circle of awkward silence for a moment, until it was finally broken by Kenny saying what everyone was thinking, “Ready to go?”

Everyone either hummed of nodded in agreement and made the uncomfortable journey to the car in silence.

_

After more painfully awkward silence between everyone besides Tweek and Kenny, Stan felt an immense amount of relief to pull into the parking lot of his apartment complex. Not a word was passed between himself and Gary, or the two blond buddies in the backseat. Anxiety and dread had been building in his chest minute by minute at the prospect of another unpleasant conversation with Gary that was sure to ensure. A fair amount of self-hatred had also been plaguing his mind (which wasn’t exactly new, but it never helped).

Stan exchanged unceremonious good-byes with Kenny and Tweek before walking his boyfriend over to his car parked a row away from him in guest parking. More unnerving quiet followed until they approached Gary’s small, old Volkswagen, until Gary leaned against the driver’s side door and addressed him, “So… can we talk about today?”

Stan let out a puff, the series of ridiculous events leaving him emotionally exhausted for the day. He shook his head, slipping his hands into his hoodie’s pocket, “Not really. Like, ever again. Cartman has officially lost his sh*t.”

Gary perked his head, “You know that isn’t what I’m talking about, Stan. What was all that about with Kenny?”

“I-I—” Stan interrupted himself immediately with an exaggerated shrug, casting his gaze up toward the sun, squinting at its brightness, “I don’t f*cking know, dude. I just… Like I said, I was in a bad mood, and I just don’t trust Tweek… I just get these psycho vibes off of him.”

“I know you don’t like Tweek. That makes sense to me. Why does it piss you off so much, is what I want to know,” Gary redirected Stan’s focus yet again, “do you have a thing for him or something?”

Stan pinched the bridge of his nose, exasperated, “God, no, I don’t have a thing for Kenny, Gary.”

“Okay, well, I’m not exactly crazy for thinking you might! You looked like you wanted to rip Tweek’s head off any time he so much as looked at Kenny and you were being so snippy and weird toward both of them. I just—I need you to tell me now if this is going to be something that I should worry about, okay? You’ve broken up with me twice already, Stan, and clearly I love you or I wouldn’t keep agreeing to be with you, but you having feelings for your best friend is something I really can’t get over.”

That sinking feeling invaded Stan’s entirety again. Questions about himself circled his head violently, and he ignored each to reach over and cup Gary’s hands in his own. He forced his gaze to connect with his. “You don’t have to worry. I’m really sorry I was acting ridiculous. Kenny’s just been through a lot and I don’t want to see him hurt.”

Gary turned his hands over and gave Stan’s a squeeze. He returned calmly, “I want to be with you, Stan. But I’m gonna need you to access your un-crazy side.”

Caught off guard, Stan stifled a chuckle, “Did you just—”

Gary smiled slightly, shrugged, “TV may not be our”—he punctuated the term by curling his fingers into air quotes—“thing, as Kenny reminded me, but I watched The Office.”

Stan felt infinitely worse after that snide suggestion, even after Gary kissed him good-bye and promised to text him later. After watching Gary’s vehicle peel off and out of his apartment complex, he directed his gaze back to the clouds in the bright sky and muttered, “Why did you make me like this, God?”

Chapter 9: Impromptu Drive-Thru Date

Notes:

okay so two things: this story is set in 2019 bc i dont feel like talking about COVID-19,, and this chapter contains Games of Thrones final season spoilers!! ik that show is barely relevant anymore but i just wanted to warn
thank u for the reads and support and i hope this creek fluff makes up for my transgressions <3

Chapter Text

Craig breathed an immense sigh of relief when had finally tagged and upstocked the final item in the endless amount of freight that Bebe was stuck with by herself. Normally Craig would be irritated by the notion of stopping in the middle of his own tasks to help a department complete theirs—especially for thing like upstocking, when there were specified team members to do the job that regularly left before it was complete—but without Butters and only one morning stocker available for Mondays, he could see how much Bebe was struggling.

As traced over to the paint desk to inform her that her upstocking was complete, he saw something that made him consider turning around and merely shooting her a text message. Clyde from floorcoverings was beside Bebe, leaning against the desk and most definitely not-so-subtly flirting with her.

Craig liked Clyde for the most part—he was a complete and utter bro, but he was kind and always wiling to help. When it came to Bebe, however, he was unbearable. When he first arrived as a transfer from the Colorado Springs store he was extremely boisterous about his attraction to her, until he was shut down, as she had been in a relationship (and still was for all Craig knew). After learning this, to his credit, he backed down, but still made it incredibly obvious that he was interested. There did not seem to be any ill-intentions, but had Bebe been Craig’s girlfriend, he certainly would not appreciate the kind of attention he granted her.

Clyde also incorrectly surmised that Craig and Bebe were close since he, Wendy, and Heidi actually were—perhaps a vaguely sexist assumption, but the true annoyance lied within him constantly asking for relationship updates that Craig was not privy to. He liked Bebe and enjoyed talking to her at work, but they barely chatted outside of the paint department and had never hung out. Craig guessed it was shear desperation that kept Clyde inquiring.

“All done,” Craig nodded curtly, hearing into the pocket of his vest and retrieving his tablet. “I entered them already, too.”

Bebe’s smile was wide and genuine, “You’re such a lifesaver, honey. Thank you.”

Clyde knit his eyebrows together, “You needed more help with upstocking?! I could’ve done it! Or sent Heidi over!”

“Yeah, Bebe, ask someone else next time.” Craig added sarcastically.

“Ha ha,” Bebe droned, and then perked her head over to Clyde, “Thanks, sweetie, I know I can ask you. I might take you up on that for Wednesday, I’m going to get slammed again and Karen scheduled off for the mid-shift.”

Clyde shook his head, “Can’t you just make Brenda stay passed ten if she doesn’t get it done?”

“Nope. I already asked Randy,” Bebe exhaled deeply again, rubbing beneath her eye with the back of her fist. “It would be fine if I could use the ladders and help right now. It’s really just me slowing us down.”

Craig and Clyde exchanged confused looks. Craig inquired, “Why can’t you use the ladder?”

For a split second, her blue eyes went wide. “Uh, my doctor just advised me not to for the time being,” she began, clutching her lower stomach, “I pulled a muscle not too long ago carrying paint, and I’m supposed to take it easy…”

Clyde frowned, “I’m sorry, B. Anything you need, I got you, okay?”

Bebe nodded, giving his arm forearm a squeeze. “Thank you.”

“Same goes, I guess.” Craig teased, earning a middle finger from Bebe that he was quick to return.

The boys took off and away from the paint desk in the direction of Clyde’s department. Craig was on his way to audit electrical’s overstock, which was part of the reason he was so eager to finish up in wallcoverings. It was only 10:30A.M., which meant Tweek was still around and most likely freed up from breaking down freight. The cute blond had inhabited his mind for the entirety of the weekend, which made Craig feel a bit creepy. Especially when he spent a half hour hovering over the ‘follow’ button of Tweek’s private Instagram account.

“You think I should ask to transfer departments?” Clyde asked when the pair were out of Bebe’s earshot, pulling Craig from his Tweek-induced trance.

Craig glanced over to find a completely serious expression. He replied with the clarifying question, “To wallcoverings?”

“Yeah.”

“Aren’t you, Heidi, and Red the only people in floorcoverings?”

Clyde paused to think on this for a moment, “I… Yeah, but Bebe could really use the help.”

Craig chuckled, amused and somewhat softened by his devotion to his crush. “Bebe just needs to him someone else. She will be fine. Plus, she’s getting plenty of help from us and Kenny.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Clyde sighed, definitely disappointed by the rationale behind not making moves to work with Bebe more closely. They approached the small floorcovering desk in less than a minute of conversation, where Clyde ducked behind the retrieve a water bottle.

Craig continued walking on past the display of extensive carpeting options handing on a rotating display that went all the way up to the ceiling of the vast, warehouse-like establishment. A juvenile anticipation began to spread across his chest the closer he got to the electrical department, grateful to evade any needy guests or fellow employees on his way.

As he predicted, he found Tweek unoccupied, chatting with one of his least favorite department managers, Richard. He was neurotic middle-aged man that was constantly in a fuss about other employees screwed around too much, but never actually did anything himself. Richard also complained to Carol on Craig’s second day as part of the Inventory Team that he had made a mistake when auditing, which technically meant that Wendy had, since she was the one who trained Craig to overstock audit. Nonetheless, it annoyed Craig immensely, and he was not one to let go of grudges easily.

Craig continuously flicked his eyes over to Tweek as he pretended to be examining something on the mega racks from an aisle away. While the new blond employee was his primary reason for choosing to audit electrical first, he also happened to genuinely not mind coming to the department as much as others—he could view almost all of the skus entirely from the floor without the need for a rolling ladder, as their shelves were shorter than most others.

“Hey, Craig,” Tweek greeted after a few agonizing moments of Craig waiting to be noticed.

“Oh, hey,” Craig returned, playing off the incessant eye contact Tweek surely noticed. “How was the fair?”

Tweek rolled those pretty, amber eyes, “A complete sh*t show. Apparently, a lot of drama ensues between Kyle, Kenny, Stan, and Cartman.”

Craig puffed out a short scoff, “Yeah, they are all annoying drama queens. I just chose to walk away and not be a part of it when they try to drag me into their sh*t.”

“This is exactly how they were all throughout school. My friends and I did the same,” the blond responded, tucking his hands into the front pocket of his already worn-looking Menards vest.

“Jesus, you had to deal with them going through puberty?” Craig asserted, pleased to cause a cute, muted chuckle come from Tweek.

“Yeah, as if my own puberty as a gay kid wasn’t enough stress.”

The dark-haired man took a turn laughing warmly, nodding in agreement, “Relatable.”

The two chuckled a bit more together, light and dark brown connecting. For that moment that their eyes on one another’s, it seemed like the hardware store around them disappeared. He had fallen into a star-littered void from one of those space documentaries he spent probably way too much time watching intently. Tweek shared a completely separate orbit with him, something that made his heart begin to race.

When Tweek finally flicked his stare elsewhere, Craig nervously covered for the time he had just spent gazing at Tweek like (a freak) the boy was made of gold. “So, uh, did anything else you did make up for the sh*t show those assholes put you through?”

“Not really… I finally finished Game of Thrones, which just thoroughly depressed me right after I was stressed to the max from the fair.”

Craig thought his heart would burst where he stood. His mouth fell ajar, “You watch Game of Thrones?”

Tweek nodded excitedly, “Yeah, it’s one of my favorite shows ever! Except I didn’t love that last season,”

“Me neither,” Craig agreed, sharing the enthusiasm for the subject, “So you just now finished it?”

Tweek sighed, “Yes, I know, I’m a whole month late. My roommate started the whole series, like, beginning of March so I was waiting for him to catch up.”

Craig’s high came instantly crashing down at the term roommate and the pronoun he. “Oh, cool. So, is he your… like, boyfriend?”

“God no,” Tweek shot back humorously, shaking his head, “He’s pretty much my brother, so that would be incest.”

“Graphic, but okay,” Craig laughed.

Tweek tittered, then perked his head to the side, voice sickly sweet, “Nope, I’m very single.”

“Me too…” Craig returned, trailing off. The gleam in Tweek’s gorgeous eyes and the quirk of his pretty, full lips made Craig’s mouth water. The emphasized response gave Craig the courage to inquire, “Have you taken your thirty yet? I was going to go to Wendy’s if you want to come… I have a lot of strong opinions about this show.”

“Uh, I haven’t taken my break yet,” Tweek answered half of the proposal before tugging out his red iPhone and reading the time, “sh*t, it’s already almost eleven?! Yeah, I should definitely force myself to eat something other than a Starbucks Double-Shot.”

“I concur,” Craig snorted, raising a concerned eyebrow. “Well, I can drive us, if you want… Uh, do you want to just meet outside the exit?”

Tweek grinned brightly and nodded. “Sounds perfect.”

“Okay,” Craig breathed, turning on his heels, “See you in a few, then?”

“You got it,” Tweek confirmed, heading back over to the electrical desk where Richard remained planted.

Craig fought the largest grin he had suffered in a long time as he made his way toward the front desk to clock out.

_

Tweek could not recall a time he felt his heart palpitate more intensely (and not in the context of a panic attack) as he sat in the passenger’s seat of Craig’s busted up, light blue PT Cruiser. He had warned Tweek on the way to not make fun of his vehicle’s make, model, or the damage inflected onto front bumper, that was attached entirely by what appeared to be half a roll of duct tape, and thus barely holding on. Hanging out with Craig on a whim felt like a death wish and a miracle, and his entirety became hyper aware of their closeness. His stomach was a knot of nervous excitement.

The inside of Craig's car was immaculately clean, a direct contrast from the shabby exterior. The only imperfections to the interior were deliberately placed stickers of various Star Wars characters on his air-bag, along with a lone couple of gay pride stickers; one was the rainbow flag, the other read ‘If God Hates Gays Why Are We So Cute’. Tweek laughed at the phrase he recognized from a viral image of a protestor as Craig swiftly slapped the volume nob on his speaker, silencing the emission of an alternative sounding song he could not identify from the three-second snippet.

They took off out of the parking lot and down the road. Thankfully for nearly every member of the Menards team, Wendy’s was situated less than a block away and was hardly ever too busy, given the pastoral environment the outskirts of South Park provided. It was this thought that reminded Tweek to inquire, “So, are you from around here?”

“Sorta, I’m from Leadville,” Craig answered, “I got the job at Menards when I moved into my apartment, which is pretty much in South Park.”

Tweek nodded, noting that he had his own place with a grin. “Nice. So, more importantly… What the f*ck, Dany?!”

Craig laughed as he steered his car, “Twitter had a conniption for three days straight about King’s Landing. I personally saw it coming.”

“How?!” Tweek squawked, further humoring Craig with his enthusiasm, “They were surrendering! Jon had stopped fighting and she went and burnt the city to the f*cking ground!”

“Okay?” Craig sputtered out as they fell in line with a few more cars in the Wendy’s drive thru. He gaped to his right to find Tweek’s animated expression. It softened when he admired how the sun shone beautifully off of Craig’s nut-brown eyes, granting them a golden tinge. “Is that the first time she was absolutely merciless? She crucified hundreds of people in Meeren, she dry-roasted the Tarlys and Varys, and she watched her brother die a horrible, slow, painful death in, like, season one. Not to mention Cersi had just murdered her best friend and killed one of her dragon babies.”

“Well, still, dude, I’m furious! She’s supposed to be this merciful savior that cleanses the world of corruption and yet she is slaughtering innocent people because she’s mad?” Tweek huffed, crossing his arms over his chest.

“It’s not just that she’s mad, she’s also been slowly losing her mind for the past three seasons. Anytime you think you’re the chosen one, it’s hard to stay sane. Props to Harry Potter.”

“I guess that’s true,” Tweek conceded, pointing to the cartoon Anakin Skywalker sticker in front of him, “You know what happened to this clown.”

Craig barked a laugh as their car lurched forward, almost at the window. He asked, “What do you want?”

And uncalled for amount of panic erupted in Tweek’s chest at the notion of deciding what he wanted to order from the fast-foot restaurant. He widened his eyes and sputtered, “I—Uh, I don’t know, what do you get?”

“Chicken sandwich, usually,” Craig replied.

“Uh, just that, then,” Tweek hated Wendy’s chicken sandwiches. He hated himself more for being unable to verbalize that as he reached into his back pocket to procure his wallet.

Craig co*cked an eyebrow at him, “What are you doing?”

“Pulling some cash out for us,” Tweek answered simply, pulling a ten-dollar bill.

“I got this.” Craig promised, refusing the paper.

Tweek shook his head, “Hell no, dude, let me pay! We’re using your gas,”

“Yeah, to go down the street?” Craig chuckled, “Don’t worry about it. My treat.”

That was unacceptable to Tweek. As Craig relayed their order to the Wendy’s attendant through the drive-thru speaker, he swiftly stick the money into Craig’s center console to be found later and to soothe his conscious. Craig drove toward the window again, granting Tweek a sideways smirk. “I hope you know I heard what you did. But I’ll let it slide this time. Only because you're cute.”

Tweek smirked back, feigning for innocence and his brain, heart, soul, and lungs took turns internally screaming at the compliment, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Tucker.”

“Sure you don’t, Tweak.” Craig’s snide smirk curled into an endearing simper.

After the pair received their lunch, Craig drove back to the Menards parking lot for them to eat. Their discussion of Game of Thrones deepened as Tweek pretended to enjoy his food, both becoming even more enthralled with one another after realizing how much they have in common and how simple it is to converse with one another

Chapter 10: Coming Clean

Notes:

thank u for reading and commenting i love u !!!! (: drink some water and tell urself youre cute!

Chapter Text

It had been three consecutive times that Tweek nearly tripped and face-planted on the untied shoelace of his beat-up, white Reebok work sneakers, but he was too excited to stop until he reached the electrical department. It may have been five-something in the morning and before he had finished his coffee, but he was pumped.

Grateful that the store was not yet opened to the public, Tweek sped-walked to the electrical desk. He was additionally grateful for Kenny having already shown up for his earliest shift of the week.

“Hey, Ken—Whoa,” Tweek stopped, laughing when he saw Kenny essentially reeling where he stood, eyes completely glossed over and beat red.

Kenny giggled stupidly, “Yeah, I over did it. What’s up, though?”

“Look!” Tweek continued to gush, disregarding the abrasive smell of marijuana, tobacco, and body spray fighting for dominance. He raised his phone for Kenny to view the notification that had just popped up on his screen.

Kenny squinted, taking a full twelve seconds to realize what the notification meant before exclaiming, “Oh, sh*t, Tucker followed you. You gonna f*ck now?”

“Is that all you think about?” Tweek quipped, sliding his phone into the front pocket of his jeans.

Kenny shrugged, blinking sluggishly, “That’s pretty big, though, huh?”

Tweek nodded, “I guess so. Also, we had lunch together yesterday. He called me cute.”

“I told ya he likes you,” Kenny grinned, waggling his eyebrows much slower than he meant to. “You can tell me all about your new husband while we break down five pallets of freight.”

“Five?!” Tweek groaned, mood effectively ruined. The two began tracing their way toward the back aisles where the Tweek’s workload for the day was always stored. His job was to break down massive pallets of freight, which consisted of various items needing to be dispersed throughout the department. It was the receiving’s job to organized merchandise by department off of delivery trucks, secured with plastic wrap, and deliver them throughout the store.

When Tweek saw four of the aforementioned pallets and a green cart filled with even more items, he pouted a lip at Kenny, who had whipped out a pocket knife and stepped toward the first collection of what looked like primarily outdoor lights. He frowned, “I’m not sure I want you wielding a weapon when you’re stoned out of your mind.”

“Don’t be so dramatic. I dare you to find one sober forklift operator.”

Tweek shivered, “Not a comforting thought at all.”

The pair went to work, chatting minimally as they weaved in and out of their department. When guests began flowing through the aisles more regularly, Kenny took point on assisting them while Tweek continued to put merchandise out on the shelves. Slowly but surely, he was learning the ins and outs of the department, primarily focusing on merely where items were located. He had already memorized the major categories (lightbulbs, cords, outlets, etc.), and had moved into the phase of discerning what things actually were in relation to what category they fit into. It was tedious, and he was positive he was getting on everyone’s nerves for asking what’s this ceaselessly, but he was getting the hang of it.

“f*ck, dude,” Kenny moaned as Tweek approached the desk, list of skus he had upstocked in hand and ready to be entered. “I could f*ckin’ fall asleep right here.”

Tweek smirked, tapping his fingers against the keyboard as he claimed the vacant space beside his fellow blond, “Rough night?”

“Sorta. Stan came over and it was just… so weird. He said some half-assed apology for being a dick at the fair and we watched Hot Rod, then he just left.” Kenny sniffed, rubbing his eyes. Their bloodshot quality had subdued, and now he truly just appeared exhausted.

Discomfort at the mention of Stan immediate settled in Tweek’s irritated expression. He wished he had a better poker face when Kenny shot him a smirk. Tweek said, “So he still hasn’t figured out what the f*ck his problem is?”

“No, sir,” he huffed, pushing himself upright. “Working through feelings isn’t his usual M.O.”

Tweek rolled his eyes. While his interactions with Stan were limited, he had decided they did not get along. It was clear that he harbored jealousy for anyone who took Kenny’s attention, platonic or romantic. Finding it quite codependent and unwarranted on top of being snapped at, he felt that his disdain was entirely justified.

After a pause, Kenny sighed, “I just wish he’d talk to me. I know he’s going through some sh*t.”

“If I were you, I’d just ignore him until he figures it out for himself. He’s acting like a spoiled little brat. I mean—how hard is it to decide you like someone, anyway?”

Kenny’s features shifted, his shoulders tensed, “He has a hard time with all of this stuff. He’s not just some whiney little bitch… He’s got some issues.”

“Well so do I and so you do, but you don’t see me snipping at customers for admiring how cute Craig is. Especially since we aren’t f*cking dating.” Tweek shot back as he began entering the pallet modifications.

Kenny chewed and swallowed this for a moment, gazing at nothing. Tweek knew he was right but felt slightly guilty for the harshness of his words. Just as clearly as Stan liked Kenny did Kenny love Stan. Tweek’s front teeth tugged a patch of skin loose on the inside of his lip before he crafted his inquiry, “So, did you two used to date?”

“Never dated,” Kenny responded quickly, insinuating that there was something else.

Tweek co*cked an eyebrow, “Did you kiss or something?”

The blond quirked his head over to Tweek, lazy smirk plastered across his freckled face, “You want me to tell you what really happened or use my manners?”

Though this essentially revealed everything Tweek was interested in being privy to, he responded, “I want to you tactfully tell me what happened.”

Kenny inhaled deeply, “Well, Stan had just broken up with Gary for the second time about… six, seven months ago. He always tells Gary and whoever else he just isn’t ready for a huge commitment. But, he invites me over, tells me he just doesn’t think he loves Gary. He thinks he might have feelings for someone else. My damaged ass assumed he was referring to Kyle, until he kissed me. And then things escalated,” he emphasized the word with a high-pitched voice, earning an eye roll from Tweek before he continued, “Anyway, we f*cked. And it was great, and I’m thinking, wow, maybe I actually have a chance with this guy I’ve been in love with for f*ckin’ years. Nope… only takes a few days for him to go right back to Gary.”

“Jesus,” Tweek huffed, this information making him like Stan even less. “Seriously, what the hell is wrong with this guy? Or you?”

“Good questions,” Kenny chuckled, grin slowly falling to a saddened expression. “Like I said before, he’s been through a lot of sh*t… I mean, he didn’t even come out of the closet ‘til we were seniors. Not to tell ya all his personal sh*t, but he’s been dealing with depression since we were ten, and he got himself addicted to alcohol, you already know about his bat-sh*t crazy dad… I don’t know, I guess everything he’s been through just made him scared. He just gives up and does whatever’s easiest. I guess that just ain’t me.”

Tweek’s chest felt heavy with this new knowledge. Granting his friend a sympathetic smile, he asked gently, “Do you want to be with him?”

His friend broke his heart even more when the saddest smile of all stretched his lips. He wetted them, glanced at Tweek, then nodded, “More than anything.”

With that, Tweek let the subject die, and felt somewhat less angry towards Stan. The one he truly felt for was Kenny—he was one of the most charming, easy-going people he had ever met, and the mere mention of his feelings for his best friend nearly broke him down. It was easy to see that that the night he and Stan spent together meant the world to him, and being immediately left behind again for Gary broke him. Tweek wished he could possess Stan’s body and force him to make the right choices so he never had to see Kenny’s face take on that expression again.

“Well, hello, there,” Kenny’s voice pulled Tweek from his revere, and the presence of Craig immediately heightened his spirits. “If it isn’t our good old-fashioned lover boy.”

Craig shot him a glare, “What the hell are you ever talking about, Kenny?”

Kenny let out a laugh, sinking away from the electrical desk and pointing between the pair of them, “You know exactly what I’m talkin’ about. I’ll leave you crazy kids alone so these sparks don’t hit me.”

Craig shook his head as they watched Kenny disappear down the aisles, “I swear, he gets dumber with age.” Tweek chuckled and returned to entering his pallet modification into System 5. Craig’s stare lingered on the paper for a moment before he spoke again, “I can’t believe they make you do this sh*t by hand.”

Attention piqued, Tweek asked, “Is there another way?”

“Yeah, with the tablets. My whole entire job is modifying pallets, and this is all I use. Here, I’ll show you,” Craig offered, closing the gap between them after whipping out his mobile device. Butterflies erupted in Tweek’s stomach as he watched Craig’s fingers manipulate the touch screen, half-retaining the much easier way of entering the information than what he was used to doing.

Feeling betrayed by Kenny’s training, Tweek tossed his hands in the air, “God, that’s so much better.”

Craig clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth, “Yep. I’m sure the Neanderthals in this department will never offer to train you on a tablet until they’re forced.”

“I wish you could train me,” Tweek mused, peering up at Craig’s handsome face. “Or that you were just the only person I worked with. You make everything seem so much less complicated.”

Craig replied with a smile, intent stare trained back at Tweek’s face, “If I could recruit you onto the Inventory Team, I totally would.”

“Right, so then you wouldn’t have to make up excuses to come here just to see me in electrical?” Tweek guessed facetiously, relishing in the rosy tinge that instantly crossed Craig’s cheeks as a result.

Craig faltered for a moment, before grinning shrugging his shoulders, “You figured me out.”

With that, he wandered off to at least pretend to do his job, leaving Tweek with the feeling that he was floating and the desire to examine his Instagram account for the whole rest of his shift.

Chapter 11: Texting & Realizing

Notes:

thank u to my good sweet friend lotus for helping me immensely with this chapter!!
also, thanks to the rp simp squad for inspiring tweek and craig's instagram names!! hehe love my tarjei loving friends!! (:
thanks again for reading and commenting and liking!!!

Chapter Text

[spacekid125] t.t. :) sent you a photo!

[spacekid125]: t.t. :): Were we NOT just talking about this?

After hearing his cellphone vibrate beside him, Craig tore his gaze away from the gorgeous aesthetics of Breath of the Wild for the first time in three hours to view the notification. His heart jumped when he saw Instagram’s multi-colored logo pop up with Tweek’s initials, beckoning him to conversation with the exchange of a digital photograph. Disregarding his Switch controller, he scooped up the device and used the facial recognition technology to view the photograph.

It was a selfie that Kit Harrington had taken wearing Daenerys Targaryen’s long, white-blond wig. Craig snorted, recalling their conversation from work earlier that day, jokingly insisting he pulled the hairstyle off better than Emilia Clarke. He could still not decide if Kenny was actually offended by the assertion or not, being the die-hard fan of hers and Daenerys’s. Regardless, Tweek and Craig had fun messing with him about it.

Craig: Lol send this to Kenny.

Readjusting a throw-pillow, Craig reclined back onto his couch against it. In his optimal browsing position, he began scrolling through his feed, quickly receiving another message. He smiled.

t.t. :): I don’t want to get yelled at again man!!! He’s so defensive of her :S

Craig: Yeah, his obsession with her and boobs in general are the only things that remind me he isn’t totally gay.

t.t. :): Right hahah, his obsession with emo guys makes up for it though.

Craig: When you say “emo guys” do you mean “one emo guy”? And by that, do you mean Stan Marsh?

t.t.:): HAHAha yeah. We can really read each other’s minds, huh?

Craig smiled even harder. He let his thumbs linger on the keyboard for a moment, giving himself time to decide on a response.

Craig: True. That’s how you could tell I make up sh*t for myself to do in electrical just to talk to you.

t.t. :): I was… half kidding abt that. But I’m glad my instincts were correct, bc I really like it when you come over :)

Heart pounding probably too harshly at a mere collection of words, Craig let his phone fall onto his chest. He covered his burning cheeks and shut his eyes, attempting to tame his giddiness. For some reason, the colon and parathesis smiley face Tweek used was almost as adorable as what he had actually written.

Craig: Cool (: Why don’t you just f*ck up the overstock so I have to spend all day fixing it?

t.t. :): No way man!!! I don’t want to get in trouble!

Craig: Dude, I’m the only one who actually cares when people f*ck up the overstock. Richard wouldn’t even notice, trust me. He’s dumber than Kenny.

t.t. :): Still :S that would make me so anxious!! I don’t want him to think I screw around too much

Craig: Lol fair enough. I’ll f*ck up the mega racks myself then.

t.t. :): Aww, just for me?!?

Craig: For sure.

Another hour slipped passed him as he and Tweek continued the text chain, which quickly became fairly long due to their swift responses to one another. Craig could not believe that all he did was text a cute boy and play video games his entire Friday night as he stood to his feet and sent himself to the bathroom to prepare for bed. It would be a few more hours later that his eyes finally forced themselves shut in the midst of a reply to something Tweek had sent him.

_

Ken: hey sry stan Im not guna be able to come over otngiht. Not feeling great.

Me: It’s cool man, feel better!

Though he said it was cool, Stan did not actually feel that way. He had seen Kenny earlier that day at work for a couple minutes and he was totally fine. Unless some crazy super-sickness captured him in the three hours they had spent apart, he was lying, and continuing this active avoidance of Stan.

Stan had been having a hard time getting more than a few stupid jokes out of Kenny since they last hung out that Monday. He surmised that his friend was still upset with him, though he acknowledged and apologized for his hissy fit at the fair, but he wished he would just tell him. Kenny was never one to actually tell people that he was upset with them; he would always just ignore you until he worked it out on his own and forgave you in a week.

Stan supposed he couldn’t complain—at least Kenny actually worked feelings out.

With his newfound freedom, Stan decided to ask Gary if he was free. Usually he was not on a Saturday afternoon, often swept up in charity, work, or family related endeavors. However, quick response accepting the invitation to hang out at Stan and Kyle’s apartment negated this theory.

Stan had tidied up and put in an order for pizza for the pair by the time Gary arrived at the apartment. Kyle was usually off the same time that Stan was on their weekends to work, but he was forced to stay in longer to cover for the other front-end assistant manager that had called off. Needless to say, he was not happy about it—especially considering Kyle absolutely despised his job.

“Hey,” Stan greeted with a smile, stepping aside to allow Gary to enter. From the get-go, something felt immensely off within him—he was plagued with this dark, empty feeling emitting from the crevices of his chest.

“Hey! How’s it going today?” Gary returned, leaning down to peck Stan’s cheek before they migrated to the couch.

“I’m okay. How was the fundraiser?” Stan asked, slumping onto the cushion and raising the Firestick remote toward the television.

“It was phenomenal!” The blond gushed as he claimed the spot beside him, crossing his legs and gesturing with his hands in his usual, enthusiastic way, “We raised over five-hundred dollars! Everyone was going crazy for Amanda’s homemade oatmeal cookies! She’s really coming into her own as a baker! And Mark was able to come down from Denver after all!"

“That’s great,” Stan told him with a grin. “So, you and Jenny will be able to meet your goal for June?”

“I’m not too worried! Something else really exciting happened today—we were approached by another charity organizer that does a needle exchange program and they said they would love to work with us on some more events during the summer! Isn’t that amazing?!”

“That is amazing!” He exclaimed. “That’s a huge opportunity!”

Gary nodded, proud smile remaining as he peered over at the television. “I’m really looking forward to seeing where this takes us! Jenny’s been doing a lot of research into harm reduction work, and I think we could really lend a hand to them and vice versa!”

Stan absentmindedly flipped through Netflix as he listened to Gary continue to relay the events of the fundraiser his charity had set up that day. He truly loved and admired the amazing work that Gary and his family did—sometimes feeling as if these people are scarily nice and too good to be true. Nonetheless, it was encouraging to be around such a positive, giving force of nature such as Gary and the rest of the Harrisons.

Yet, fleeting thoughts of Kenny repeatedly interrupted his stream of consciousness.

Even admiring the way Gary laughed out loud at the funny moments in The Office and feeling his warm arm wrap around his shoulders did nothing to curb the desire to be goofing off with Kenny about some ridiculous movie they had seen a hundred times already. His heart clenched and mind reeled at the soon all-consuming wish that Kenny had shown up instead of bailing on him. He needed to know that they were okay—that Kenny was okay. He needed to hear his calm, soothing voice tell him that things would turn out alright, see his enticing, co*cky smile directed at him.

Stan allowed his mind to drift off to a particularly fond memory of his best friend that had been replaying in his mind like his favorite scene in a film. Kenny had come over one night unannounced after seeing a spoiler for a show they were binging together, Shameless. He was absolutely furious and demanded they stay up all night until they were completely caught up. They shared a joint and barreled through an entire season, cuddled up in Stan’s bed and doing their best to be quiet as to not disturb the sleeping Kyle in the adjacent room. They did not fall asleep until six in the morning, and when Stan awoke at noon, he found Kenny completely knocked out, head resting on Stan’s chest and arm flung around his middle. He sat there for almost an hour—staring at his friend’s face as his cheek squished out and lip protruded, dark circles coloring the creamy skin beneath his eyes. Rays of sunlight crept through the blinds on Stan’s bedroom window to perfectly illuminate his angelic profile.

Stan wanted nothing more in that moment than to brush up against him accidentally-on-purpose as they recited the lines of Tropic Thunder and split a pizza. He wanted to hear Kenny’s resounding belly laughs and soft chuckles at all the stupid things Stan said and did. He wanted to tell him to f*ck off when he would respond with some equally stupid, degenerate comment.

He wanted to count the mismatched brown freckles that decorated his nose and cheeks. He wanted to gaze fixedly into his golden stare and be constantly reminded that he was loved and cared for without the need for any words. He suddenly craved the feeling of Kenny’s sunshine hair between his fingertips, and Kenny’s hands wrapped around the nape of his neck as their lips smashed together in desperate attempts to memorize the taste.

“I’ll be right back,” Stan announced in a hushed tone, managing to calmly propel himself upwards and trek to the bathroom. He shut the door and rush to the toilet, flipping the porcelain lid ajar with haste and promptly emptying his stomach’s minimal contents into the bowl.

After a minute of desperately trying to muffle his retching, he flushed the toilet and slumped back against the wall. He tangled his fingers into his already messy fringe of hair and stared blankly ahead. Softly, under his breath he gasped, “I f*cking love him.”

A rapping on the bathroom door caused him to flinch dramatically. It was followed by Gary’s voice, “Hey, Stan, pizza is here! Are you okay?”

“Yeah—” Stan squeaked, voice cracking. He cleared his throat and tried again, “Yeah, I just… I’m just poopin’, you know how I be.”

Gary laughed at the reference to the episode they had just watched together and walked off. Stan hung his head and smacked himself in the face.

What the f*ck am I supposed to do? He thought repeatedly for the remainder of the time he spent with his boyfriend, feeling entirely f*cked.

_

“Dude, f*ck Menards.” Was the first thing Kyle cared to grumbled after he woke up from his post-double shift nap. His hair was a mess of auburn spirals as he collapsed onto the sofa chair beside where Stan was sat. “The next time I see Bradley, I’m going to stomp on him.”

Stan let out an awkward, nervous laugh. It had only been a half-hour or so since Gary excused himself to go have dinner with his family. Stan was invited, but declined, claiming he wasn’t feeling the best. It was not a lie—he was quite worried he would suffer another bout of projectile vomit at any given moment, especially after forcing himself to act normal and eat a few slices of pizza for lunch.

Kyle missed the first sign that his friend was losing his mind and continued to rant about work, “Tell me why two grown-ass men and one teenager is not enough manpower to keep enough shopping carts available in the store?! Cart pushers have one f*cking job and I had to go help them! I was sweating my ass off, dude, I was so pissed. I’m about to write out my two-week notice and just carry it around with me for when I finally snap.”

“That sucks…” Stan trailed off, blue gaze wandering aimlessly around the room. “But don’t quit. Then I’d have to quit.”

“We’d both be better off, dude,” Kyle assured with a scoff. After considering the vacant expression on Stan’s face, he raised an eyebrow, “Are you okay?”

“Uh… If I’m being really honest with you, no.” The dark-haired boy admitted, surprising himself slightly with the ease at which he revealed his state of mind.

Kyle, too, was taken slightly aback by the inviting into Stan’s feelings. He shifted toward him, showing his attention was set on him, “What’s going on?”

“I…” Stan started, immediately betrayed by his own voice. Before he could put in any effort to stop himself, his vision became blurry with tears. His throat tightened and his stomach lurched again. “I’ve got a really f*cking big problem, man.”

“Hey, it’s okay, Stan,” Kyle assured him, reaching out to pat Stan’s back as he surged forward and buried his face in his hands. Concern and confusion crossed his face as he patting him comfortingly, “Let it out, man. We can talk when you’re ready.”

After a few minutes of sobbing and sniffling, Stan forced himself upright and wiped his face with the inside of his t-shirt. Remaining panic combined with embarrassment to make Stan feel extremely small and hopeless. He flicked his gaze over to Kyle and sniffled pathetically, “I… I love him.”

Kyle turned his head to the side, “Yeah? Everyone knows that, why are you crying about it?”

Stan’s eyes went wide, dread filling his entirety, “What the f*ck do you mean everyone knows?!”

Withdrawing his hand from Stan’s presence to gesture confusedly, “You’re… dating him? Are you messing with me or something?”

“What?! No, god, I’m not talking about Gary,” Stan corrected, choking up again when uttering the clarifying statement, “I meant Kenny.”

“Oh, for f*ck sake,” Kyle spouted, disarmed. He rolled his eyes, “We’re on this again?”

“This is serious, asshole! I-I don’t know what to do! I think I really f*cking love him, dude! I-I think about him all f*cking day every day, all I want to do is hang out with him, I can’t stand seeing him with anyone else… Ah, sh*t, I really need to apologize to Tweek…”

“What the f*ck did you do to Tweek?!” Kyle questioned before waving a hand in the air, “Actually, I don’t even want to know. I just need you to stop this.”

“Stop what?! I can’t just stop loving someone!”

“Stan, I already told you this sh*t after you and Kenny hooked up that one time! You don’t really love him! You’re latching onto him because you’re self-destructive and things are going really well with Gary.”

Stan faltered. He fully believed this was the case the first time that Kyle had pleaded it, but it did not account for this burning in his chest that he felt for Kenny. He sputtered, “Dude, I just don’t think that’s it! Why would it keep coming back up if I didn’t really love him?”

Kyle exhaled deeply, regarding his friend gingerly but firmly, “You are self-sabotaging right now and you need to stop. You’re bored in your healthy relationship because you’re familiar with the instability you grew up in and you feel like this means you and Gary aren’t compatible. You need to accept the fact that you deserve to be happy and healthy and let yourself be those things, okay? Kenny is not a stable relationship kind of guy. He doesn’t have his life together. I love him, but he would not be good for you, alright?”

Stan swallowed. Hearing this reiterated spiel from Kyle against made him pump the breaks on wanting to be with Kenny. He sniffed, looking away, “I mean… I just, I know you’re probably right but… It just sucks… Do you not think Kenny feels the same?”

Kyle shook his head, “I think he would have told either one of us by now if he did. You know Kenny, he’s a sexual guy. He likes to fool around. That’s all that it was for him.”

Stan felt exponentially more hurt and confused hearing Kyle’s take on things. From his point of view, Kenny gave him the greatest, most passionate night of his life, and continued to be a supportive force by his side no matter what happened. Kenny pulled him in for tight, loving hugs whenever he was feeling down or for no reason at all. Kenny stayed up late just to keep talking to him, Kenny brought him food when he was too depressed to eat, Kenny forgave him for being a walking disaster, Kenny accepted him for all his flaws and made him feel immensely loved and seen despite them. Kenny was beautiful and funny and smart and calm and so much more than whatever Kyle gave him credit for.

But Kyle was Stan’s best friend, primary confidant, and advisor since elementary school. He quickly wiped away a few fresh tears that spilled onto his cheeks and nodded, “Thanks, Kyle… I don’t know what the f*ck is wrong with me.”

Kyle frowned and moved onto the couch. He draped an arm around Stan’s shoulders, speaking again, “There’s nothing wrong with you, dude, you just don’t know how to let yourself be happy. Gary is such an awesome guy and he really cares about you. Don’t let it slip away because you’re fictionalizing something more exciting with Kenny. If you really, really aren’t into Gary, of course, break up with him, but I think you are. You’re just… You need to let yourself be.”

Still not fully convinced considering the thoughts of running into Kenny’s arms still seemed pretty favorable in his head, Stan fell quiet and accepted the fate Kyle illustrated for him. As they fell into a comfortable silence after Kyle turned on a show for them, Stan heard a ding from his pocket. He whipped out his phone, hoping to see a message from Kenny, deflating when it wasn’t one.

Gary: Feeling any better? My mom made you some soup if you’re hungry!

Stan bit his lip, unable to decide if he wanted to smile or not. He told Gary he would love it if he brought it over before laying back against the couch, silently wishing he could be anyone but himself.

Chapter 12: Freight Date

Notes:

thank u everyone for reading n thanks again to my gfs thelotusflower and ambercreek95 for letting me rant abt this story to them! !!

Chapter Text

Craig: I am going to kill myself.

Tweek’s eyes widened at the message he received, thinking it was pretty early to wish death upon yourself—maybe not for a Monday, though. Having already completed putting away the single pallet of freight for the morning, he had been taking laps around electrical, chatting with Kenny and Richard between helping guests. He smiled to himself and shot Craig a quick response.

t.t.:): Pls don’t ): what’s wrong??!

Craig: The receiving guys are all sick so Carol and Todd asked me to sort freight.

t.t. :): I’m sorry! ); but also who is todd and what is sorting freight?

Craig: Lol, Todd is the GM and sorting freight is receiving’s one f*cking job. It’s organizing merchandise off of our trucks into department’s pallets. There’s somehow not a single one available this morning, so I’m doing it by myself. ):<

t.t. :): Ugh that’s so annoying :S maybe I could come help you?

Craig: I wouldn’t want you to have to do that, it’s f*cking boring.

t.t. :): But… I’m already bored and I want to talk to you ):

Craig: I’ll never say no to seeing you

The final message caused Tweek’s chest to flutter. With a grin, he slipped his phone back into his front pocket and traced his way back to the electrical desk to request permission to leave the department and help Craig. He frowned when he found only Kenny, their supervisor having disappeared again. He asked his fellow blond, “Where’s Richard?”

“f*ck knows,” Kenny snorted, lifted his gaze to Tweek, “What’s up?”

“Oh, I was just gonna ask him if it’ be cool for me to go to receiving to help Craig sort freight. He’s by himself, so…” Tweek trailed off.

A knowing smirk stretched Kenny’s lips, “And you want to go get paid to flirt with him?"

“Sorta?” Tweek admitted with a cheeky grin.

Kenny nodded his head, “Go on, I’ll let Rich know.”

“You’re the best,” He assured his friend before spinning on his heels and speeding off toward the receiving department.

The receiving area was the section of the store that Tweek had spent by far the least amount of time in, as it was on almost the complete opposite side of the building from electrical. He had only been back there to nervously return rolling, green carts that they would pile freight onto to be put away. The space was enormous and rendered potentially dangerous due to the constant coming and going of forklifts. On the far-right side of the room were two massive, aluminum roll up doors, where delivery trucks gained access to the warehouse for the unloading of merchandise. On the far wall of the rectangular-shaped space was a dark, green baler, large, brown swinging door that led to the store’s dumpsters, and long-stretching shelves that housed miscellaneous items, such as cardboard boxes, rolls of plastic wrap, and damaged-looking stock.

Just before he arrived at the “Team Members Only” area, a buzz from his cell phone obtained his attention. Thinking it was Craig, he whipped out the device to be sorely mistaken.

Dad: Tweek – I just want you to know that your final paycheck from TB is going toward your rent for the last month you lived with your mother and I. You will still need to send us what's left of the $400.

Molten hot rage immediately ignited his entirety. Tweek ceased his movements in the back aisles to reread the infuriating message until he could no longer stand the sight. Not only did he have the text itself, but also the flashback of his father threatening to do exactly this in the midst of their relationship-ending, verbal brawl. Fighting his instincts to shoot back a f*ck you, he slipped his phone back into his jeans and stomped the rest of the way to the receiving department.

There he found Craig cradling a case of assorted Gatorade. He greeted Tweek with a nod before he placed the item on a wooden pallet. He shifted to face Tweek, instantly detecting his companion’s indignation. “Uh—you okay?”

“Peachy,” Tweek grumbled, throwing his arms up. “What am I supposed to do?”

“I—You don’t have to do this, man, I got it—”

“I came all the way back here to help you, okay? Just tell me what to do,”

Eyebrows raised, Craig pointed to the disorganized pallets of freight across the space, “Just grab the boxes from over there and sort them by department. If you read the pallet label, it’ll tells you where it goes.”

“Okay.” Tweek huffed, making his way over to obtain his first box.

The pair worked in silence for a while, the quiet only interrupted by Tweek asking for assistance on figuring out where some boxes went. After they had made it through half of one of the three pallets, Tweek felt another vibration in his pants pocket. Knowing he would regret it, he took a glance anyway.

Dad: Tweek – Your total is $223. I want it by the end of the month.

“That’s only two days, you f*cking asshole!” Tweek’s mouth snapped without his brain’s consent. He flicked his stare up to the curious Craig before swallowing hard and reaching for another box. “Sorry,”

“You’re fine… I hope everything is okay.” Craig replied tactfully, busing himself with the task before them.

Tweek felt himself shake with anger, vision blurred by the frustration that enveloped his concentration. What the f*ck did he do to deserve such horrendous parents? What kind of cosmic sin had he committed in his past life that rendered him worthy of the bullsh*t they put him through?

“Sorry, I’m probably being an asshole,” he uttered to Craig, realizing he had forgotten to reply to his well-wish.

“No, you couldn’t. You do seem pretty furious, though.” The dark-haired man admitted as he dropped a case of toilet paper onto plumbing’s pallet.

A pang of guilt puncturing his fury, he granted Craig a sheepish frown, “Sorry… It’s just this whole thing…”

Craig paused, wetting his lips and admiring Tweek’s appearance. Even with his eyebrows knit together and his jaw set in bitterness, he looked vivacious and adorable. It seemed that his bleach-blond curls had cascaded even further down the nape of his neck over the weekend, and his anger had colored his pallor cheeks bright red, obscuring the pale, tiny freckles that were splayed across the bridge of his nose and extended across his cheekbones. He cleared his throat awkwardly, offering, “You can talk… I mean, if you want to get it off your chest, I don’t care.”

“Oh, no, it’s fine… Just my stupid f*cking father being an insane piece of absolute human garbage.” The blond spat, tossing a box of tissues beside Craig’s latest addition to the plumping pallet. He raked his fingers through his hair. “Sorry, he just stresses me the f*ck out.”

“You don’t need to apologize, Tweek. I asked to be ranted at.” Craig reminded him with a soft smile.

Even the slightest grin from his coworker created an eruption of butterflies in his belly, which he discovered was even more intense after a weekend of shooting Instagram messages back and forth. Tweek sighed audibly for what felt like the twentieth time in ten minutes, “Okay, sorry if this oversharing, but a few weeks ago I got into a huge fight with my parents and I quit working for them at their stupid coffee shop and they kicked me out of their house. Well, my dad texts me today saying that I owe him two-hundred and twenty-three f*cking dollars for rent. I barely lived with them for a month before they kicked me out! God, I f*cking hate them, I want out!”

Tweek buried his face in his hands, feeding his fingers into the bangs outlining his forehead. He forced himself to absorb the aggression he experienced, sucking in slow, deliberate breaths. Breathing became harder, however, when he felt the drop of a hand on his shoulder.

He lifted his head to find Craig standing before him, gaping fixedly with those warm, brown eyes. His kneecaps were replaced with gelatin as his crush spoke, “I’m sorry, Tweek. That sounds… really convoluted and f*cked up. Life really sucks sometimes, but it will pass.”

Had anyone else said that to him, he was sure he would have found it an irritating sentiment. Instead, he found himself grinning, bobbing his head in agreement. “Thanks… I just don’t know why he hates me so f*cking much. He always has.”

Craig frowned and removed his hand, much to Tweek’s disappointment. He shrugged, “I have no idea how anyone could hate you, let alone your dad. Have you talked to him since everything happened?”

Tweek shook his head, “Radio silence until that text. I’m not surprised, I’m just f*cking pissed.”

The two returned to the task of sorting freight, and Tweek revealed his tragic backstory of his parents exploiting him for free labor his entire life, a few examples of the emotional and verbal abuse he endured, and a full-length synopsis of their altercation that ended with Tweek in need of another place to stay. Craig was an exceptional listener, providing nods and eye rolls to show he was genuinely invested in what was being shared. He also provided the occasional What the f*ck or comic relief to spare Tweek any more bouts of uncontrollable anger.

Tweek felt an immense weight lifted from his shoulders. Usually, he had Token to rant to, which was always helpful, as his friend was level-headed and endlessly supportive, but Craig was an excellent substitute. When they had made it down to the last twenty or so items on their final pallet, Tweek had run out of steam. His eyes were glued to Craig, who had begun fiddling with the large rolls of plastic wrap used to encase the pallets for safe delivery throughout the store. He said, “Thanks for, uh… That. Listening to probably way more than you ever wanted to know about me.”

Craig laughed, peering over for a fleeting moment, “I told you to unload if you wanted to. I like listening to you talk. Plus, it seemed like you really needed to.”

Tweek smiled stupidly, placing an unknown item secured in cardboard onto the cabinets and appliances (or, as he heard his coworkers refer to it, cab-apps) department's pallet. The abrasive, ripping sound of the plastic wrap unfurling interrupted their dialogue exchange, rendering Tweek half-way grateful for the chance to relish in the notion that Craig liked listening to him talk.

Sorting freight ended up occupying nearly the remainder of Tweek’s shift, and he was slightly disappointed to have only twenty minutes left. He had followed Craig out to the paint department to distribute the final collection of merchandise to be unloaded by the morning stockers the following day. Craig let out a deep sigh as he lowered the pallet jack tool and pulled it free. He granted Tweek a grateful smile, “Thanks so much for helping me. I would have been doing that until two easily by myself.”

Tweek returned the expression and traced his steps back toward the receiving area. “It was no problem. Thanks for listening to me bitch the whole time.”

“I definitely got the better end of that deal,” Craig concluded, pushing the pallet jack into place beside the wall. The vacated the receiving department for the final time, both meandering in the direction of the electrical department, chatting and laughing about some ridiculous altercation between two hardware team members that Craig had noticed earlier that morning.

A deep sense of disappointment haunted Tweek when they reached his respective department. Craig had already pulled out his tablet and switched it back on. When their eyes met again, that warm, fuzzy feeling instantly returned. He grinned, “I honestly liked doing that way better than my actual job.”

Craig co*cked an eyebrow at him, “Yeah? You should ask to switch departments, then. Clearly they need help.”

Tweek rolled his eyes, reeling in closer. His heart picked up when he asserted, “I don’t think it was so much the department, but the cute guy I was working with that made me like it so much.”

At first, he was visibly flustered by Tweek’s explicit flirting, but Craig quickly recovered to quip back, “I’m telling your boyfriend, Kenny, you’re hitting on me.”

Tweek snorted, allowing their gazes to linger before taking steps backward. “Please don’t. It’ll probably just turn him on.”

Just as Tweek had turned to make it back to the electrical desk and clock out for the day, Craig’s voice beckoned his attention again, “Hey, uh…” he started, and finished when Tweek’s attention returned to his face, “Would you maybe want to hang out some time? Maybe longer than a lunch break?”

Tweek did not even attempt to dim the bright grin that spread his lips. He nodded, confirming with words to solidify the gesture’s implication, “Definitely. I need to unlock your family drama to even things out.”

The dark-haired man scoffed, “Yeah, I’m sure you want to hear all about my sister and her twenty-nine-year-old, failed musician fiancé.”

Tweek widened his eyes at the unexpected revelation. He nodded again, “Yeah, I actually really do. Text me when you’re free… I never do anything, so…”

“Okay,” Craig replied, wearing a pleased grin to match. “cool.”

With that, the pair reluctantly went their separate ways, Tweek giddily heading toward the electrical desk. His spirit was only slightly dampened by the sight of Stan exchanging words with Kenny. Both appeared somewhat distressed and completely ceased speaking when Tweek slipped behind the desk to swipe out for the day.

“How was your freight date with Tucker?” Kenny inquired, putting on a clearly forced smile.

Tweek avoided eye-contact, very uncomfortable with his obvious intrusion. “It wasn’t too bad.”

“Sure, it wasn’t. Give me all the horny details tomorrow, alright? Gotta take a piss,” Kenny replied, giving him a wave good-bye before sauntering off toward the restroom.

Tweek remained entirely unnerved under Stan’s scrutiny as he gathered his water bottle and car keys. He stashed his name badge beneath the desk and shrugged on his jacket.

“Hey, um…” Stan began, breaking the wildly unpleasant silence. He earned a blazing, impatient glare from the blond before casting his gaze aside to avoid it. “I just wanted to apologize to you. For being a tool. At the fair. I’m sorry.”

Tweek paused, unsure of what to make of this. Stashing his hands into the wool-lined pockets, he sighed, “It’s fine. I get it.”

Stan pinched his dark eyebrows into a curved line of confusion, “What?”

Tweek traced all the way out from behind the desk and twirled his lanyard as he extrapolated, “I get how confusing it can be to have feelings for a close friend. Thanks for apologizing. Just know, I’d rather you be a dick to me than hurt Kenny any day of the week. So, just think about what you’re doing.”

Immediately struck with the fear that he came across too brash, Tweek muttered a good-bye before heading off toward the exit. He pushed the thoughts of his friend’s angst-ridden dilemma with Stan aside, indulging himself in joyous anticipation of spending time with Craig outside of work.

Chapter 13: Catch-22

Notes:

thank u soooo much for reading and commenting!!! i appreciate all the love <33333

Chapter Text

After an entire weekend of keeping himself shut up in his bedroom, Kenny was strangely pleased to be at work. Having days off was absolutely essential for any person’s mental stability and he enjoyed the times where he was not staring at barcodes, bin tags, and lightbulbs; however, he felt particularly useless the past few days, having spent them ignoring any requests from Stan or Kyle to hang out—especially since he fibbed about feeling ill.

In the midst of reorganizing the breaker switches and boxes—which was always an unmitigated disaster after a weekend without his care—he answered a few normal and one incredibly stupid question from guests (“Where are breaker boxes?”). It took a solid hour of his time to get the product in order, which annoyed him, but made him simultaneously grateful for something to keep him occupied. After running out of the palm-sized, rectangular switches to organize, Kenny left the aisle in search of water.

On turning out of the aisle, his strides were interrupted by a presence joining him. Stan slowed down to fall into pace with Kenny, granting him a toothless grin. “Oh, hey. I’ve got something for you.”

He felt a twisting sensation in his tummy at Stan’s arrival, unsure that he was ready to interact with him. Kenny raised an eyebrow and cupped his hands out, accepting two boxes of headphones. After quick consideration, he couldn’t discern their location off the top of his head. The pair made it to the electrical desk and Kenny went to work, pounding his fingers routinely against the keyboard to enter System 5.

Stan lingered before the desk, and Kenny could feel his gaze burning a hole through his skull. He avoided it as he asked, “You feeling any better?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” The blond assured him, noncommittal.

“Are you sure?” Stan pressed, rendered dissatisfied with the assertion. Kenny flicked his stare up to find an accusatory stare.

Kenny stifled a scoff, “Last time I checked.”

Stan sighed, “Okay… It just seems like there’s something wrong.”

“I’m peachy keen, Avril Lavgine.” Kenny lied as that feeling of unease toward interacting with Stan swelled in his chest. Of course, he wanted to talk to his best friend, but he was also exhausted by his unrequited feelings being teased and tested by Stan’s oddly possessive behavior.

Stan inched closer to his friend, his expression doused in sincerity, “Can you please tell me the truth? I feel like you’re pissed at me.”

Kenny allowed his eyes to roll, “Why?”

“That eye roll, first of all,” the other man pointed out, “And the fact that you’ve been dodging me and Kyle all weekend.”

“I was sick, Stanley. I know I look sexy no matter what, but I didn’t think you’d wanna see me snot all over myself.”

“You told Kyle you were throwing up.”

f*ck. Kenny shrugged it off, “I can’t have two ailments at once?”

Stan huffed, making a frustrated gesture, “Can you just talk to me, Ken? I know that actually telling me what I did to piss you off isn’t exactly your style, but—”

“Are you f*ckin’ kidding me?” Kenny interrupted, completely catching Stan off guard with his severe expression.

Bewildered, Stan shot back, “What?!”

Kenny wanted to laugh, though nothing about the situation was humorous to him. Feelings of rage and injustice teamed up to make his stomach continue to churn. “You’re the very last person that should be lecturing anyone about not being upfront about sh*t.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Stan retorted, chest beginning to visibly heave.

Kenny did laugh this time, a sound that qualified as sarcastic and borderline shrill. “I am not having this f*ckin’ conversation right now. Can you just leave me alone?”

Stan took a defensive step closer, “No, tell me what I need to be clearer about! Talk to me, Kenny!”

Shame entered the stream of emotions trickling through Kenny’s veins as he felt the urge to tear up. The words crawled up his throat like acidic bile, daring to expel forcefully from his mouth. He clamped his jaw shut, giving himself the opportunity to reign in these rouge feelings before he said something really stupid.

He was extremely grateful when Tweek came strolling back behind the desk, well inside earshot of their altercation.

Kenny broke his stare away from Stan and turned toward his friend, performing a lazy smile, “How was your freight date with Tucker?”

Tweek gave a small shrug of his shoulders, appearing quite uncomfortable by the thick tension in the air—which made Kenny even more upset for some reason. He said, “It wasn’t too bad.”

Kenny made the mistake of catching Stan’s blazing glare in a side-glance, rendering him completely overwhelmed. He sputtered, eyebrows raised, “Sure, it wasn’t. Give me all the horny details tomorrow, alright? Gotta take a piss,”

After throwing a short wave Tweek’s way, he strutted off toward the restroom. He won the fight against his urge to stalk straight out of the building, and the silent prayer he said that no guests would stop and ask him more dumb questions was answered as he slid into one of two stalls in the men’s room. He let himself growl, burying his face in his hands. He allowed his brain to rehearse all the things he wished he was able to scream at Stan.

Be clear about your f*cking feelings! Tell me why the f*ck you got so pissed at Tweek for flirting with me, why you’re with Gary after having sex with me and why you refuse to talk about what it meant, why you continue to go out of your way to see me any chance you get, why you stare at me the way I stare at you…

Kenny breathed heavily, removing his hands from his face. He took his sweet time composing himself, squishing his cheeks and shutting his eyes. Though his frustration toward Stan was immense, indignation toward himself was far more severe.

Why can’t I just get the f*ck over him?

_

“So, you finally asked him out?” Wendy requested confirmation after dragging bits and pieces of the story behind Tweek and Craig breaking down freight together the day prior. Being friends with him was always like this; some hugely important event would occur, and you would have to peel back layer after layer to find out what really happened. Thankfully, she was intuitive enough to know what something had happened in the first place.

Craig shrugged, barely looking up from the dump bin the pair were teaming up to count. They were the large, square displays that perpetually held cheap, useless trinkets on sale strewn strategically throughout the store. “Not exactly. I asked if he wanted to hang out sometime.”

Wendy nodded, counting beneath her breath before entering the number into her tablet. “And he said he’d like to?”

“Yep. I was thinking of asking him to come to Heidi’s party with me, but he doesn’t really seem like a party guy.” Craig revealed, jabbing his fingers against his own device.

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know,” he began, trying to find the proper phrasing, “He’s anxious.”

“Oh.” Wendy nodded again.

Taking notice to the lack of the moderate enthusiasm that Wendy usually possessed, Craig lifted his gaze to find hers glued to the miscellaneous merchandise before them. It had been a few days now that his friend had seemed off, and he did not truly believe her dismissive I’m fine from when he had asked her what was the matter the day before. He tried again, “What’s going on, Wends? You seem depressed.”

The noirette let out a short sigh through her nose as she reached a hand up to rub her eye, as if making up any excuse to delay her response. “I’m fine.”

There is was again—the lie that almost always meant I’m dying inside. He turned his head down to her, eyebrows arched in concern, “I know you’re upset about something, so why don’t you just cut the bullsh*t and tell me?”

“I’m fine, I just—” Wendy started again, exasperation laced in her tone before it fizzled out. She met her friend’s stare, assured that he would not drop the topic. She was both comforted and annoyed by his persistence. “It’s Bebe…”

Craig softened at the mention of Wendy’s beautiful, blonde crush. He frowned, “What’s going on?”

Wendy cast her large, affected stare back to the task at hand. “Honestly, it really isn’t my place to be telling anyone… but, bottom line is I definitely don’t stand a chance.”

“What, is she hooking up with Clyde now?”

“God, no!” Wendy replied reflexively, then faltered, “Not yet, at least. You know how she is to me, though, it’s sort of the same for him—flirty and sweet and touchy one day, and then completely out of it and uninterested the next… I mean, I know she's got a lot on her plate right now, but I still don’t even know if she’s bi or pan or anything.”

“Clearly, I don’t know for sure, but the way she acts around you sometimes, I feel like she’s probably at least bi… or just really, really nice.”

Wendy scoffed, “Yes, nice girls. My favorite.”

Craig puffed out a short chuckle and reached out to squeeze her forearm comfortingly. “I’m really sorry. But you are definitely the coolest and smartest person I know. If Bebe can’t see that, she isn’t worth your time anyway. Some other super hot girl or guy is going to come along and see how awesome you are.”

“Thanks, Craig. This is why I love you,” Wendy commented with a flattered smile, her shoulders seeming a bit lighter. “I just wish she wasn’t so f*cking hot.”

Unable to ignore his nosiness after a short bout of silence, Craig brought the conversation back around the initial bit of information that Wendy alluded to, “So you like… can’t even tell your best friend what’s going on with Bebe?”

Wendy granted him scolding side-eye. “Nope, unfortunately I can’t even tell Heidi.”

“Wow,” Craig droned, drawing away from Wendy as she giggled and leaned into him. “Rude and stingy with the tea.”

“You’ll find out soon, I promise. It just isn’t my place to say.” She assured him. After shutting off her tablet and peering up at him, she questioned, “You ready to go do hardware?”

“Never,” Craig grumbled, but followed his friend as she headed in the direction of their next dump bin to be counter. As the topic shifted to the latest Gordon vs. Bethany gossip, guilt chewed away at Craig’s insides for being in a blissful flirtationship with his blond love interest while Wendy had been rejected by hers. He wished they could share his experience, and that he could erase the dejected look on his friend’s face.

_

Several rounds into a Mario Kart tournament with Jimmy and Token, Tweek heard the ding of his iPhone beside him. It was only the second lap, but the intrusive thought of learning who was trying to get in touch with him distracted him until the very end of the round, resulting in Toad completely blowing his lead.

“That was puh-pitiful, Tweek,” Jimmy laughed, pleased with being bumped up to second place, only a few more points behind Token.

Token glanced over to find Tweek the way he had been much more often lately—hunched over his phone, smiling. While it was quite nice to see his friend cheering up, it was irritating to play any kind of game with. He snapped amusedly, “Dude, quit texting your boyfriend and play the damn game!”

Tweek jumped at the realization that four eyes were on him, and he widened his own in their direction. “What?! He’s not my boyfriend!”

Jimmy whistled, “Tweek’s got a love interest?”

Token nodded, smirking, “Oh yes. He’s got it real bad for this guy at his work.”

“f*ck off, give me a second.” Tweek muttered, doing his best to hide the thrilled grin that confirm Token’s accusation.

Craig: Hey, are you busy on the 4th of July? Heidi is having a party, and I was wondering if you’d wanna come with me. I’m pretty sure Kenny’s coming too, and some more people from work. No worries if you’re busy, just wondering

t.t. :): I’m pretty sure I’m free!! I’d love to, I’ll let you know asap!! Thanks for the invite :)

Craig: For sure. (:

“So, what’d he say?” Token pressed as he flipped through the options of their next racing location.

Tweek ignored Jimmy’s eyebrow waggles and relayed the message, “Just asked me if I wanted to go to a party with him and his friends on Saturday.”

Jimmy sent an unsure grin his way, “Is that g-g-good news or bad n-news?”

Tweek shrugged. It was great news that Craig truly did want to see him outside of Menards, but it was not great that the setting was a large social gathering. Tweek felt much more comfortable in one-on-one and small settings, as crowds tended to trigger his anxiety. “Catch-22.”

Token smiled sympathetically. “You should totally go, though. At least for a minute, try and get to know him a little better.”

“P-Plus, at holiday parties you can usually get huh-hammered for free.” Jimmy added, grasping controller and averting his attention back to the screen as the next round was set to begin.

Tweek laughed at the remark, tongue poked out the corner of his mouth as he began maneuvering the pixelated motorcycle along the rainbow path. As if to intentionally sabotage him, Token chimed in on the situation again. “I haven’t ever seen you this blushy and giddy over a guy. Even Pete, really.”

Groaning at the mention of his asshole, goth ex-boyfriend, Tweek wanted to push that thought as far away as possible; however, it stuck in his mind like a stubborn glue trap. The butterflies that brushed against the walls of his stomach for Craig were a hybrid breed compared to the one’s Pete had caused back in high school. For a split second, the comparison made some of those feelings return, waves of warmth spreading through his being.

All of a sudden, the warmth turned hot, and the steady waves felt like a tsunami. His eyebrows inadvertently crinkled together, a terrifying thought entering his brain: what if I really fall for this guy just as I leave for school?

Tweek did his best to ignore that potential downward spiral and merely enjoy the presence of his good friends. The trio laughed and played video games until Tweek’s body nearly gave out right where he sat on the couch. When he announced he was going to sleep at 10P.M., he was teased for his work schedule turning him into an old man.

As he situated himself on the air mattress, he connected his phone to the charger in the plug adjacent to where he laid. He reopened his conversation with Craig, which had shifted a few topics passed the Fourth of July party invitation by them. He hovered his digits over the touchscreen keyboard before deciding on a decent reply.

t.t. :): Btw, I can go to Heidi’s party w you if you want :)

Craig: Of course I do. That’s awesome (: Maybe I will actually enjoy it this year.

Tweek cursed those damn, intimidating butterflies before shutting off his phone and doing his best to sleep despite the new concerns circling his mind.

Chapter 14: Life of the Party

Notes:

um so I just wanna warn yall that this chapter is kinda... heterosexual? Like,,, not SUPER straight but its in there so like... idk it is also VERY sad gay...
trigger warning i guess, cause i like the gay sh*t too and there is some mild smut i guess
thank you to my loves tlinrookie, ambercreek95, and thelotusflower for helping me decide on THINGS eheh
thank u for reading and commenting and kudosing! (:

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Despite the foul mood that had been brewing in Kenny’s clouded mind the entire week, he agreed to accompany Kyle of Heidi’s Fourth of July celebration. Had his friend not desperately needed backup given the circ*mstances of him establishing an official relationship with Eric Cartman’s ex-girlfriend and Stan being preoccupied with a Harrison family function, he would have stayed home and felt sorry for himself. Given the fiasco at the fair, Kyle was both parts prematurely enraged and paranoid at the possibility of him crashing and ruining Heidi’s get-together, so he was very adamant that eh was not alone for the gathering.

The entire ten-minute drive from Kyle and Stan’s apartment to the Turner residence was spent with Kenny fantasying about guiltlessly getting black-out drunk in Stan’s absence while his friend did not take one breath while ranting about his infuriating love-triangle scenario. Kenny offered apathetic grunts in agreement when he guessed it was appropriate, but otherwise ignored his friend’s dilemma to wallow in self-pity.

Stan had taken on the act of avoidance, making his own goal to see him as little as possible quite simple. Despite the fact that he did not want to talk to Stan, each day he went with nothing but passing greetings and three-sentence conversations felt like a death sentence. His body and soul grossly betrayed his mind, every part of both yearning to interact with the man who may as well have been Kenny’s personal version of crack.

The pair stood in place before the entrance to the Turner’s house, situated in the largest neighborhood in South Park. The building resembled all the other’s surrounding it, including Kyle and Stan’s childhood homes down the road. He was filled with even more contempt, memories of searing jealousy associated with all of his friends growing up in nice, comfortable houses while he and his family froze and starved half to death on the wrong side of the tracks.

“Hey guys!” Heidi greeted sweetly after swinging the door ajar. She stepped aside to allow the boys to enter, grinning at a peck on the cheek from her curly-headed boyfriend. “Thanks for coming early! I’m almost done, but I could use some help setting up chairs in the backyard!”

Kyle beamed at her, “You got it. Are you parents gone already?”

She nodded in confirmation, “Yeah, they always go to visit friends in North Park.”

The couple continued their struck-up conversation as the three wandered to the backyard. Kenny felt numb as he passed through the immaculately clean, cozy rooms behind them, noting with great interest the decent array of hard liquor, hard seltzers, and wine coolers set out on an American flag adorning side-table.

He returned to that housed the alcohol selection promptly after helping Heidi to finish setting lawn chairs in a circle around the fire pit and to put the final touches on her red, white, and blue decorations. Kyle had placed their combined offering of Gentlemen Jack's beside Heidi’s assortment. After barely any consideration, he grabbed a massive, plastic jug of vodka and twisted off the cap. He filled a red Solo cup with the pure, strong-smelling liquid, earning no questions from Kyle until he was halfway through draining his first glass.

“Dude, are you drinking that straight?!” Kyle exclaimed, his eyes widened at his friend’s bizarre decision.

Kenny smiled lazily, gesturing the bottle’s label that read McCormick, “It was callin’ my name.”

Heidi and Kyle laughed at his lame joke as he threw back the rest of his drink, immediately pouring himself another. While he was well aware of Kenny’s threshold for alcohol consumption, Kyle kept a warry eye on his friend, debating on whether or not to intervene. His consideration to do so was interrupted by the first round of guests appearing at the front door.

The miserable blond was already effectively buzzed as the first wave of people trickled in and wandered around the space, claiming drinks and chatting amongst themselves. Most people he recognized from either high school or Menards, but after his second cup of straight vodka and first beer, everyone began to look quite blurry.

Everything was even blurrier when he found himself dancing around the kitchen to the beat of generic pop music someone had connected to a speaker. The bass kept his intoxicated body on pace as he chugged a wine cooler that he could not taste. He recalled nothing past the brief greeting from Tweek and Craig on their way to the backyard and the two females dancing up on him.

Kenny’s attention was successfully captured by the red-headed girl that had been competing with a blonde for it. He wound his arms around her slim waist as she threw hers around his shoulders, lazily gliding his lips against hers as they leaned against the kitchen’s island counter. He was positive he recalled her name but couldn’t be bothered to pull the information from the impaired archives of his brain, especially when he was focused on making out with her and staying upright.

“C’mon,” she breathed after an undetectable amount of time, encasing his wrist in her hand and leading him down the hallway. Once they reached the more secluded space of the laundry room, the reattached to one another, Kenny claiming dominance and pressing her against the washing machine.

The redhead’s fists found the back of Kenny’s hair, grasping at it as he cupped her ass with both hands. He broke away from her eager lips and trailed wet, sticky kisses down to her neck. He slurred hotly against her ear, “Is it alrigh’ if I touch you?”

“You can do whatever you want,” She assured him, pressing herself firmly against him, wrapping her leg around his.

Kenny recovered from the momentary loss of balance her sensual gesture caused him, pressing his left palm against the washing machine behind them, and allowing his right fist to push past the elastic band of her leggings. Even in his drunken stupor, he was instantly turned on at the lack of underwear and the easy access.

The strawberry blonde whined in his ear as he used two fingers to rub unguided circles against her. Considering his fingertips became instantly saturated, the part of his brain that had done this before told him she was good to go. He enjoyed her lips and tongue nipping and kissing his neck as he kept his thumb pressed against her cl*tor*s and experimentally slipped his middle finger inside of her. After repeated moans of approval, his index joined, and he pumped his fingers while flicking his thumb, kissing her lips sloppily.

“Your turn,” the girl breathed thickly after releasing herself against Kenny’s hand.

Kenny felt far away after she stole another kiss from his reddened lips and dropped to her knees. The adrenaline of the sexual activity rendered him slightly more conscious, and the mouth around his dick escalated the sobering process, though he was still far from fully cognizant.

What truly shifted his mood was the incredibly intrusive thoughts of Stan.

Every turn of her hand and swirl of her tongue felt incredibly amateur when up against his memories of Stan performing the same act. Kenny shut his eyes and clenched his jaw, cupping the back of her head and forcing the thoughts from his mind.

It only took a minute to decide he could in fact not stop thinking about Stan. Stan and his perfect face, perfect hair, perfect smile, perfect laugh, perfect personality—how he was perfect for Kenny. A random hook-up at a friend’s house was abhorrently inferior to a mere moment of Stan’s thigh pressed to his, let alone his perfect lips, hands, and tongue being the ones to work together to undo him.

“Stop,” Kenny uttered, releasing his grasp on the girl’s short, red hair. He took a step backwards and grasped at his belt when she drew away from him, “Sorry, I just can’t,”

When the girl stood up awkwardly, avoiding eye-contact and mumbling, “Did I do something wrong?”

“No, no, you’re f*ckin’ awesome, I just am, y’know,” Kenny let out a strangled chuckle and he struggled to buckle his belt, “f*ckin’ idiot, y’know,”

“Okay… Uh, I guess I’ll leave you alone, then.” The red head concluded, undoubtedly uncomfortable at the obvious tears welling in Kenny’s glossed brown eyes. As she walked away, leaving him feeling hallow and stupid, he swore to god he had seen her somewhere before.

Frustration swiftly rose up within Kenny when he could not easily secure his pants, and when he finally achieved his goal, rage ignited his entirety. Fresh tears teamed up with his remaining inebriation to completely blur his vision. He was suddenly agonized by the desperate need to distance himself from every single person partying the night away just down the hall.

Kenny staggered a few steps toward a door, flinging it ajar and being surprised to find the garage instead of the restroom. He slumped into the non-crowded space and let the heavy, metal door slam shut behind him.

Now in a full-blown sob, Kenny cupped his hands over his face, his skin moistened by the combination of perspiration and saltwater emitting from his tear ducts. A scream of anguish got caught in his throat and he fell back against the door and let himself slide to the cold, concrete ground.

Stan ruined everything.

No, Stan made everything so much better, and it killed him to not be the one to show him all the love he deserved. Kenny wanted so much to forget all the times Stan had stood unmoving and completely empathetic at his side through the hardest and best moments of his life, slowly teaching him how to love as they grew up acting as one another’s missing emotional support systems. He wished it were one of those rare nights where he allowed himself to fall apart in the comfort of his best friend’s presence, face buried in Stan’s neck, breathing in the scent of him that was far more intoxicating than the ridiculous amount of alcohol he forced down his throat.

Anger took another turn pounding against his skull. Stan might not have ruined anything but a blow j*b from a stranger, but he was so selfish to pretend that there was not some small part of him that wanted Kenny back. When they kissed, the world stopped spinning—everything seemed so right. Kenny refused to believe it was one-sided—or he might just die.

Kenny began to carry out an incredibly stupid plan before his single remaining brain cell could urge him to stop. He whipped out his phone and pulled up Stan’s phone number, intent on chewing his ass out. He sniffled loudly and wiped beneath his blood-shot eyes with the sleeve of his grey fishermen’s sweater. He had absolutely no clue what he was going to say to him, but he knew it was going to be something.

His heart clenched even more when there was no answer, which Kenny immediately decided meant Stan hated him. Naturally, the first part of his garbled voicemail to Stan was, “Hey, Stan, I know ya hate me, but I’m just callin’ to tell you—I-I don’t even hate you, I’m just so mad at you,”

Kenny paused to wipe his dripping nose, expounding on his declaration, “I f*ckin’ can’t stand bein’ around you anymore, it makes me want to punch you. You got your nice, cute lil’ blondie boyfriend and he’s so f*ckin’ perfect ‘n so I don’t wanna interfere ‘cause I know he’s a really good guy but I can’ stand that you’re with him. And I hate it when you guys kiss. An’, you know what? I really hate it when you get mad at other people for wantin’ to kiss me. It sucks, Stanley. It really sucks, an’ I also hate it so much when you ask me if I’m mad at you or if I’m alrigh’ or if there’s somethin’ wrong. I’m f*cked up, Stan, and I’m not okay, and I’m so mad at you… but I love you so much. So, yeah. I am goin’ to hang up now because I ran outta things to say.”

Swallowing hard, he pressed the end button. When the call screen disappeared, Stan’s contact information remained. Kenny stared for a moment at the picture he had chosen to represent Stan’s contact, one of him mid-laugh at something stupid Kenny was doing behind the camera. His heart melted at the beautiful sight of him, new tears replacing the old ones as he fell apart all over again, scrolling through pictures of Stan, wishing the real thing was by his side.

_

With a relieved sign, Bebe finally twisted the store key in the lock, closing Menards down for the night. Why she continuously agreed to be the closing General Manager on weekends despite no pay increase or staying until all other departments had vacated was beyond her—despite doing anything to maintain a sense of normalcy.

Normalcy also entailed being accompanied by Clyde, who refused to let her close by herself and hung around to walk her to her car, though he was free to leave an hour earlier. She found herself irritated by his instance on “protection” at first, but soon grew to appreciate it, as it was admittedly extremely unsettling to be alone in a semi-secluded parting lot as a young, attractive female.

“Are you heading over to Heidi’s party?” Clyde inquired as the pair began wondering across the abandoned parking lot and to their vehicles, “She texted me saying Kenny got up on the counted and did a strip tease!”

Bebe snorted humorously and deadpanned, “Oh no, I can’t believe I’m going to miss that.”

Clyde chuckled, burring his hands in the pouch of the maroon hoodie he threw over his uniform. “You’re not going?”

She shook her hair, blond spirals bouncing his with action, “No, I can’t.”

“How come?! Everyone from work is there! Even that Tweek kid,” Clyde bargained, grinning down at her despite being inwardly disappointed at the lost opportunity to talk to her.

“Well, it’s a good thing I see them all here every f*cking day.” Bebe returned, tone harsher than she meant.

Clyde pursed his lips and said nothing right away. He was encouraged to ask when they were almost upon their cars, parked several spots apart, “Are you okay?”

Slightly caught off guard by the inquiry, Bebe turned her head up to address him, “Yeah, why?”

He shrugged, leaving his brown stare glued to her shimmering, sapphire eyes. “You seem really drained and… annoyed. I just… I mean—”

“I’m fine, Clyde. Maybe I just don’t want to spend my Saturday night after a nine-hour shift surrounded by half the people I just worked with twerking on each other! Especially when I can’t even drink!”

Clyde tossed his hands up in mock submission, “That’s fair, I was just—”

“You know I don’t need to take care of me, okay?! I don’t need you constantly coming over and offering to do freight for me or holding my hand through the parking lot, okay?! I’m not drained and I’m not annoyed, okay?! I can do things for my f*cking self!”

Though his eyes widened in surprise at the continued rant, he took it in stride, “I know you can! But you—”

“I can do it without Butters, too! I don’t even need him, it’s just a lot more work! Just because sometimes I have more things to do doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be able to—”

“Bebe,” it was Clyde’s turn to interrupt her, as her sputtering became high-pitch and sniffles interrupted every few words. He reached out and placed two gentle hands on her shoulders, “It’s okay! Nobody thinks you aren’t capable of doing things by yourself! You just don’t have to!”

Bebe couldn’t decide if she was more caught off guard by the tears that welled in her eyes or the genuinely comforting sentiment from the man standing before her, gazing at her with a combination of adoration and concern. Overcome with an unfair wave of hormone-driven emotions, she left a shaky cry escape her mouth. She folded forward and cupped her hands over her face as her shoulders shook with muted sobs.

Heart aching for his crush, Clyde opened his arms and encased her in a gentle embrace. He ignored the way his heart fluttered in his chest and the way her long hair smelled like a luscious waterfall. He whispered, “It’s okay…”

The two stood for a moment while Bebe let out the emotions that had been bubbling up since the moment she showed up for his shift that day; she had been so frustrated and disheartened by the fact that she was forced to work on a holiday, and for the first time in several years, the only gathering she had been invited to did not include the presence of her boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend, she was forced to bitterly remind herself. She supposed you could not accurately call a man who abandoned you your significant other.

When Bebe withdrew, she swiped her index fingers beneath her eyes, grateful that she hadn’t bothered with eye make up that day. She let out a trembling laugh, peering up at Clyde. “I’m sorry you had to see all that…”

Clyde smiled graciously at her, “I don’t mind. I’m always here for you.”

“You really shouldn’t be,” she expelled, surprising herself again at her own words, “You wouldn’t want me.”

Clyde perked his head to the side, “What? I’m sorry, have you not been paying attention the last year and a half?”

Bebe could not stop the giggle that fell from her lips, and she shook her head. She had just realized he held her hands like two delicate birds. Her smile quickly faded, and stumbled on her words momentarily before revealing, “I’m serious… I’m… I’m pregnant.”

If he was being completely honest, he was not entirely shocked by the revelation. There had been signs and clues here and there, and as someone who paid a fair amount of attention to her, he took notice. He was more so pleasantly surprised that she trusted him enough to confirm it. His sweet smile remained, “Nothing could make me not want you, Bebe. This is exciting!”

Once again moved by his encouraging reaction, she let herself smile brightly back at him. She shook her head, feeling a hysterical combination of lightened and panicked, “This is not exciting! It’s f*cking terrifying!”

Clyde jested, “C’mon, what’s so scary about a tiny little baby? You’re gonna be way bigger than them.”

She couldn’t help but laugh again, crossing her arms over her chest. “They might be bigger than me one day.”

Clyde snickered along with her before wondering aloud, “Is the stereotype about pregnant women always being hungry true?”

Yes,” Bebe groaned, feeling grateful for her ability to speak freely of her experience, “I want to be snacking or sleeping and I don’t want to do anything else.”

“Throw in some video games, and that’s all I ever do,” Clyde told her, and pointed a thumb toward his vehicle behind him, “You wanna go get some Taco Bell?”

She frowned at him, “I thought you were going to Heidi’s party.”

Clyde shook his head, “Nah. I’d rather stuff my face and talk to you.”

“Clyde,” she fussed.

“Bebe,” he returned, amused. “I mean it! Besides, I’ve already seen Kenny strip plenty of times.”

She barked a laugh as they headed toward Clyde’s car, both feeling a million pounds lighter before inhaling enough Taco Bell to make them feel quite heavy again.

Notes:

clyde’s bit was inspired by my good, sweet friend lonereedy who is the worlds finest clyde!! ily ❤️❤️

Chapter 15: Shotgun

Chapter Text

It had been at least a year or two since Tweek had attended a party.

There were plenty that he accidently got himself caught in the middle of in his dorm building during college, but he never meant to end up sandwiched between two cackling, drunk sorority sisters or maneuvering through a rave to merely get to his bed. This was the first get-together he had attended intentionally, and the only real reason was Craig would be there.

Tweek had been filled with mixed feelings toward his situation with his attractive coworker. At this point it would be juvenile to ignore their mutual interest, but this also made it much more real and daunting; in less than two months he would always be two hours away. The realization caused anxiety and reluctance to play a much larger role in his interactions with Craig, though his desire to know him and be near him ultimately won.

When planning for the occasion, Tweek nearly bailed on the idea when he learned that Heidi resided in the same neighborhood as his parents. They were not next-door or even down-the-street neighbors, but that would be the closest he had been to his childhood home in a month. Craig roped him back in, offering to drive them (and loan Tweek his ski mask). As soon as they turned into the subdivision, Tweek’s heart began to palpitate.

They parked a few houses away from where the party had already been going off for an hour. The ride there consisted of the pair engaging in blissfully awkward banter and fluent conversation about nostalgic video games. The more Tweek learned of Craig’s past and present interests, the dorkier he became. He found it pretty adorable, though.

Tweek shadowed Craig through the front door of the Turner residence, immediately met with a high school esque atmosphere. Guests formed spread out clusters of people chatting, nearly all cradling red plastic cups in the fists. Assorted pop music could be heard, and thankfully the level was somewhat more appropriately volumed. Patriotic decorations reminded the party goers what was being celebrated as they drank, snacked, talked, and danced.

“You okay?” Craig inquired, tone hushed, but loud enough for Tweek to discern over the noise.

The blond rolled his eyes over and up to meet Craig’s kind gaze. He grinned, nodding, “Yeah, I’m okay… Thanks.”

Craig nodded, pointing a thumb to nowhere in particular. “Do you want to go find Kenny or Kyle?”

“Uh, sure!” Tweek accepted, somewhat caught off guard by the gesture, as he was fully aware of Craig’s slight dislike for both of those people. Choosing not to question it, he again ambled single file behind Craig, feeling a bit like an elementary child trekking behind a teacher.

As soon as they entered the kitchen, Kenny’s presence was detected. Tweek could not help but widen his eyes at the sight of his blond friend standing on the kitchen counter, crouching to avoid the ceiling, and doing a very poor rendition of The Sprinkler dance move.

“And on that note, I need a drink,” Craig deadpanned, and side glanced to Tweek, “do you want anything?”

“Uh, just, whatever you get.” Tweek retorted. The kitchen had clearly been designated as the dancing zone and that rendered Tweek highly uncomfortable. A few people were swaying their hips back and forth against one another to the beat of the music, and a small, blonde girl was giggling at Kenny as he behaved like a frat boy.

Craig co*cked an eyebrow, “You sure you want a beer?”

Distracted by the implication, Tweek tore his worried gaze away from his surroundings and momentarily ceased digging into the corners of his fingernails nervously, “Why wouldn’t I?”

“I don’t know. You just don’t seem like a beer guy.”

Tweek raised his eyebrows, “Why, because I’m gay?”

“What? No, so am I,” Craig shook his head, looking away to find a tactful explanation, “you just seem sort of… I don’t know, soft or innocence or something. You just don’t have beer energy.”

“So, what do I look like I drink, then, wine coolers? Exclusively strawberry daquiris?”

Craig let out a short chuckle at how teasingly worked up Tweek was. He put his hands up in mock submission, “I will get you a beer.”

“Make it two, and I’ll show you how I drink as well as what I drink.” He retorted. While Tweek was not particularly fond in his ability to hold down alcohol immaculately (as it was the only way he got through the parties he attended on purpose with his college friends).

While Craig was squeezing his way through the small congregation to obtain their beverages, Tweek stepped closer to Kenny as he hopped down from the counter. He watched in a combination of shock and discomfort as Kenny slung his arm around the unknown blonde’s neck. Their eyes met and his lazy smile widened, “Hey, electrical buddy.”

“Hey,” Tweek grinned back, blood pressure rising again as he attempted to find something to say that was not centered around who the hell the girl what was that had been all but grabbing his crotch. “Is Stan here?”

Kenny’s face held the same carefree expression as he expelled, “f*ck Stan. I don’t f*ckin’ care where he is.”

Tweek’s eyes went wider as he watched Kenny cackle at his own words, as if it were a joke. The man was clearly heavily inebriated and in pain, but he appeared vaguely hostile and intent of rubbing himself against this random girl. Tweek cleared his throat and nodded, darting away with a lame, “Alright, see ya.”, as soon as Craig came striding back to meet him.

“Do you think he’s okay?” Tweek asked, still slightly horrified by the state his friend was in. He attempted to pick through his brain a single time he had ever seen Kenny drunk—even in high school—and he could not locate any memories.

Craig shrugged as he tugged open the sliding, glass door for Tweek to slip through first. “Looks like he’s very okay to me.”

While Tweek didn’t believe that for a second, he dropped it. Just as Craig was about to step out into the cool breeze of the night with him, he paused in the doorway at a sight from inside. He squinted, muttered, “What the f*ck?”

“What?” The blond wanted to know, stepping in line with Craig and peering into the party scene. A few new faces had shown up to interact with Kenny, one of which he could tell was Karen, and the other a taller, disinterested-looking redhead girl.

“My sister is here.” Craig huffed. He shrugged and continued the descent onto the wooden deck, securing the door shut behind him.

Tweek gave him a puzzled expression as he accepted a can of Bud Light, “You’re not gonna go say ‘hi’ to her?”

“No, I get enough of her sh*t when I visit my parents. And I’m only there once a week to do laundry.” Craig assured him as they took slow steps to the rail of the deck, leaning their elbows against it.

Tweek popped the tab of his beer off and took a long sip, feeling reenergized by the coolness and content of the liquid. He asked as they stared out at the small bonfire going in the center of the yard, “Is it because of the whole, weird fiancé situation?”

Craig nodded. “Yeah, I can’t stand them. He’s a good three years older than me and I just found out he used to date Stan’s older sister.”

Tweek scrunched his nose in distaste, “That’s ugly… Sorry you have to put up with that.”

“It is what it is. At least I have something to talk about with my parents.” Craig chuckled bitterly, draining a sip of his beer.

Tweek nodded sympathetically, “You don’t get along well with your family?”

Craig shrugged, leaning both arms against the rail and fiddling with the tab on his can. “We don’t hate each other.”

The blond snorted, “That’s more than I can say.”

Craig turned to Tweek with a shifted expression, a possibly forced, challenging smile, “You haven’t showed me how you drink yet, by the way.”

Tweek let out a laugh and shook his head. “Yeah, I decided you definitely don’t want to see that side of me. Especially because I’ll probably accidentally get wasted.”

“And?” Craig asked, raising an eyebrow, “Do you work tomorrow?”

With a cheeky grin, Tweek nodded his head toward the party. “You still need to get me a second one.”

“I’m already making two drink runs for you? And we aren’t even dating yet?” Craig clicked his tongue and slumped away to procure more alcohol.

Tweek cursed his cheeks for the heat flaring up against them. He threw back another large gulp as he waited for Craig to return. There were a few people that he did not recognize huddled around the blazing logs, listening to their own music that he could also not discern. The sky was a pale grey color, the moon and stars impeded by clouds and fog. Wind swirled through the air, gently fanning his loose curls, cooling down his face.

When Craig returned with two more cans, he set them down forcefully onto the desk’s rail. Tweek watched with a co*cked eyebrow as Craig lifted the already-opened beverage and swallowed the remaining contents.

Tweek chuckled nervously, “Um, you good?”

“No,” Craig’s strangled reply came, shaking his head, “I just saw Tricia flirting with Kenny.”

“Tricia?”

“My sister,” Craig revealed, scooting another can of beer his way and picking up the next one. “Show me what you got.”

“I—Are you going to… stop it? Isn’t she engaged?!” Tweek questioned, absolutely bewildered by the situation.

Craig sighed, “No, she always does this. Do you want to go closer to the fire? It’s kind of cold.”

Without gaining Tweek’s approval, Craig was trotting down the steps. Tweek traced toward the back door, gazing inside for visual evidence of Craig’s claim. He indeed witnessed the strawberry blonde swaying in time to the music with Kenny, the blonde he had seen earlier attempting to keep herself in the picture. He wondered where the hell Karen had gone and if she would be okay with the situation.

Jogging to catch up with Craig, who was halfway to the firepit, Tweek repeated, “Dude, are you sure we shouldn’t go and say something to her?”

“Trust me, it is always better to leave it.” Craig scoffed, stopping a few yards from the other attendees enjoying the warm blaze.

Upon closer inspection, he realized James Brown’s “Living in America” was emitting from someone’s phone speaker. He rolled his eyes at the cliché music but was admittedly glad it was not “Born in the USA”. He watched Craig grab two plastic lawn chairs and drag them aside, continuing to confuse Tweek.

The pair sat together in their somewhat secluded section of the backyard. Tweek wandered his gaze over to Craig, watching him procure a fifth of Hennessey from the inside pocket of his windbreaker. He sent Tweek a smirk, furthering the blond’s bemusem*nt in his behavior.

“Who the hell are you and what have you done with the grumpy inventory controller?” Tweek laughed as Craig untwisted the cap of the bottle.

Craig laughed, “This is how I am after my naps. What, do you draw the line at beer?”

Tweek scrunched his nose at him, smiling despite himself, “I don’t know why you have such little faith in my alcohol-imbibing abilities. Or why you think I’m innocent.”

The dark-haired man winced after his first swig of the dark alcohol, then offered it to Tweek, who refused for the time being, still nursing his beer. He answered, “I don’t know, it isn’t an insult. You are just… Really sweet. I don’t know.”

“You’re sweet, too, but you just stole a whole bottle of whiskey from your friend’s party.” Tweek reminded him humorously.

“Technically, I stole this from her dad’s stash. Heidi won’t even know.”

Tweek’s jaw dropped, “You just keep getting worse tonight! Won’t her dad notice?”

Craig shook his head from behind another swig. “No, there are, like, eight of these in there.”

They sat in silence for a moment, watching the burning embers from afar, the faint bass of “This is America” rattling through the speaker. Tweek commented, “Did they just make a playlist full of songs about hating America to listen to tonight? If so, I really want it.”

Chuckling, Craig added, “I’m pretty sure I heard ‘I Will Survive’ earlier, so I don’t think that’s the case.”

“Still a good song.”

Nodding in agreement, Craig turned to face Tweek again. For what felt like the thousandth time, a grin played across his lips at the sight of his attractive face, noting the endearing red tinge of his pale skin. As a non-frequent drink who had chugged a beer and essentially taken four shots of whiskey, he began to feel a warm numbness invade his being, and everything seemed a little bit funnier.

“What’s your big trick, then?” Craig asked, followed up by a quiet burp.

Tweek smirked, sensing his tipsiness also, “What do you mean?”

Craig explained, “You promised to show me how you drink. I’d like to see it, since you saw my party-trick of thievery already.”

With a laugh and a shrug, Tweek replied, “It’s probably not a good idea. At least one of us should remain coherent.”

“Says who?” Craig questioned, gesturing for him to go on. “Wendy will find me if I pass out. Show me!”

Tweek felt himself blushing even harder at Craig’s urging as he traced his finger along the cool can. “It’s really stupid, but I got really good at shotgunning a while back. It’s so dumb, I know.”

“You have to show me,” Craig encouraged with a pleased smile and what could only be described as an uncharacteristic giggle. “It’s not stupid, it’s funny!”

Thinking that if this were absolutely anyone else, he would have said no, Tweek exhaled deeply and stood up. He pulled his keyring from the pocket of his jeans and pouted a lip to Craig, “Do I really have to do this?”

“You gotta do it!” His friend encouraged, tipping the bottle up to himself again.

Tweek had expected anything but a bubbly persona from a drunk Craig, but he was definitely not disappointed. He sucked in a few more deep breaths as he pointed his car-key against the side of the can. Bending forward in preparation, Tweek pressed down on the aluminum until it was pierced, then quickly fitted his mouth against the hole. He flipped up the tab and sucked down the swiftly flowing beverage.

“Holy sh*t!” Craig cackled, watching Tweek in awe as he nearly successfully finished the can. With a mere few sips left, Tweek’s throat, mouth, and stomach could no longer take the assault, and he dropped the can to the grass, laughing and gasping for air.

The pair shared a roaring bout of laughter as Tweek settled back into his chair. Feeling a significantly strong buzz going, he decided to feed it with a long sip of alcohol from Craig’s stolen fifth.

Craig announced after a round of goofy snickers and sips of whiskey, “Kenny is gonna be furious that he missed that.”

“I dunno, he seemed pretty happy in there with those two hot girls macking on him. sh*t, sorry, Craig, I forgot one of them is your sister,”

The other boy dismissed it with another light laugh, “I don’t give a sh*t what she does, she’s 20. I think. I don’t remember her age.”

“You don’t know how old your sister is?” Tweek cackled, though inwardly aware that the fact was not that funny.

Craig confirmed it with a nod, happy-drunk tears pricking the corners of his eyes, “No f*cking clue. I know I’m 23 and so she’s a few years younger, so… Maybe she’s 21? I don’t know… Anyways, she cheats on her fiancé all the time, so I’m not surprised.”

Tweek reeled back at the news. “Wait, what? What do you mean?”

“Like, she sleeps with other guys and kisses other guys all the time! Like… I don’t know, at least once a week. Or once a month. I don’t know, I try not to talk to my family. They are all pretty awful.”

“What? Why are they so awful? What do you mean?” Tweek fired off each question in rapid succession, putting back another swig of the then nearly finished bottle. His fingers had become essentially useless at that point, and the splash-back he received from his unstable hold on the bottle went unnoticed.

Craig blinked up at the sky, a far-off smile still stretching his lips. He scratched the stubble on his grin, relaying the information as if it were some cruel joke. “My dad is a huge, like… Yee-haw hom*ophobe, and my mom just doesn’t ever do anything about it… None of us really talk to each other… And then, yeah, Trish being the way she is is really f*cking gross, I hate that she does that. You know what I think, though?”

“What? What do you think?” Tweek urged, although he hardly comprehended the first part of what Craig had said.

“I think she’s gay, too.” He revealed, punctuating his theory by waving his finger and explaining, “I think she had a little girlfriend at one point and my dad found out about it. ‘Cause she was really close with this one friend she had… and then all of a sudden she stopped coming over. Trish never even talked about her again. And not long after that she started throwing herself at dudes… it’s really f*cked.”

“Wait, what? So, your dad, like… She stopped being friends with the girl because she found out she’s gay?” The blond was miserably confused, concentration clouded by the copious quantity of alcohol.

“No, no, I think my dad found out and he made her break it off… I’ll never know, though, ‘cause we don’t talk.”

“You should ask her!” Tweek exclaimed, finally catching up. He twisted his body to face Craig and knit his eyebrows together, attempting to take on a serious connotation, “Dude, you are such a cool person, I’m sure she’d wanna talk to her big, gay brother about being gay! Holy sh*t, dude… it’s really funny that your hom*ophobic dad got two gay kids!”

Craig burst into laughter, throwing his head back and allowing himself to lean into Tweek. “I wanna tell him that so bad. f*ck him.”

“Yeah, f*ck him! I can’t believe an asshole like that made someone so cool and sweet and nice like you!” Tweek continued his inadvertent shower of compliments.

With an even wider smile, Craig rolled his large, glossy brown eyes scan Tweek’s handsome face. He flung his hand into Tweek’s grasp and retorted after a short giggle, “You are so f*cking cute. You’re the cool, sweet, nice one.”

“No, dude, for real… Like you are so f*cking perfect! The first time I saw you I was like woah, holy crap, y’know?” Tweek revealed, inching closer and lacing their fingers together.

Even inebriated, Craig’s heart knew to flutter at the feeling of their skin brushing against one another’s. He licked his lips and felt a lump form in his throat at their decreasing distance. Remaining smiley, he said back, “You think I didn’t say that when I first saw you? I was like… damn. And then I didn’t even stop thinking about you for like… I don’t know, I guess I never stopped thinking about you.”

“Wow, really? What?” Tweek exclaimed, feeling the need to wet his own lips after watching Craig’s tongue dart out, also plagued with a sudden desire to taste it. “Why would you think all about me?”

“Because you’re really f*cking hot,” Craig revealed, breath hitching when their foreheads came together ungracefully. The small pain against his head was easily disregarded when considering their closeness. “You’re seriously the hottest person I’ve ever seen… then I found out how you’re funny and nice…. And gay… I just can’t get you off my mind—”

Tweek cut off the flattering rant with a clumsy kiss against Craig’s lips, using a hand against his cheek as leverage. Chest tightening, he reflexively rose a hand to cup the back of Tweek’s head, heart pumping harder at the feeling of his soft, blond hair between his fingers. Their noses bumped against one another’s awkwardly as their mouths moved languidly together, movements slowed from their intoxication.

Craig deepened the kiss by shifting in his direction, becoming a bit more graceful in the way he held Tweek there, sliding their lips against together. He wished to god he was sober and he was in no danger of forgetting some detail of the indescribable feeling boiling inside of him or the way Tweek’s lips were warm, sweet, and soft simultaneously.

After a few moments, Tweek drew back abruptly, amber eyes wide and glossy, “Was that okay?”

Caught off guard by both the loss of contact and the question itself, Craig nodded assuredly. “Are you kidding me? Of course, do it again.”

“Okay,” Tweek laughed, complying with the request, pressing their mouths together again.

They remained like that, taking occasional breaks to laugh and almost fall out of their chairs. Tweek also begged the universe he would recall everything during his inevitable hangover the next morning.

_

Stan sat on a floral picnic blanket beside Gary in the backyard of the Harrison estate, chatting and sharing a snack. Every year the Harrisons hosted a family gathering, as their property provided an amazing view of the local fireworks display. Having just spent several hours splitting his attention between Gary’s endless immediate and extended family, he was beyond relieved for a chance to have a moment alone with his boyfriend.

Deciding he needed to use the restroom, Stan excused himself and wandered inside. He fielded a few greetings as he passed family members on the way instead before absentmindedly checking his phone. After scrolling past a few Bleacher Report notifications, he was surprised to come across a missed call and voicemail from Ken. He clicked on the message and pressed his phone to his ear as he entered Gary’s family home from the back pouch.

Stan’s heart clenched as Kenny’s slurred voice came through the speaker. His intoxicated state was clearly evident even on the phone, “Hey, Stan, I know ya hate me, but I’m just callin’ to tell you—I-I don’t even hate you, I’m just so mad at you,”

Throat closing up, Stan swiftly pressed ‘pause’ on the message and trekked the rest of the way to the restroom. He shut the door and let Kenny continue to rant at him through the phone. He stared at the floor, feeling his chest heave with every word—and suddenly felt like crying when he heard his best friend’s broken voice declare, “I’mf*cked up, Stan, and I’m not okay, and I’m so mad at you…but I love you so much.”

Stan listened a few more times, each review significantly harder than the last. He felt even worse than usual as he stared at himself in the mirror. Hatred for the person who stared back at him festered inside him like a sore. He was well aware that Kenny was not happy with him, but he had no clue how deeply he was hurt. It made him want to punch his reflection, shatter the glass, and bruise his knuckles.

He composed himself as much as possible and retraced his steps back to the center of the backyard where he left Gary. The handsome blond grinned up at him sweetly, facial features instantly rearranging to accommodate Stan’s sullen expression. “What’s wrong?”

“Uh, nothing, I just… I actually need to go, I’m really sorry,” Stan revealed, leaning down to scoop up his sweatshirt.

By the time he had pulled the garment over his head, Gary was on his feet as well. “What’s going on?”

“It’s Kenny, he’s at a friend’s house and he just really needs me right now.”

Gary’s concern was immediately replaced by annoyance. “Are you serious?”

“Yeah, I’m sorry,” Stan frowned, pointing up to the sky, “but let me know how the show is! I’ll see you tomorrow.”

With that, Stan turned and hustled off toward the gate. He slid out of the backyard with minimal explanation, burying his fists into the pouch of his sweatshirt as he trekked through the grass.

“Hey,” Gary’s voice called him back momentarily.

“Hey—”

“What is your problem?”

Stan furrowed his brown. He blinked a few times, examining Gary’s still, annoyed expression. “Excuse me?”

“Why does Kenny need you?” Gary demanded. After a few moments of Stan’s mouth hanging agape, he pressed on, “Why does Kenny need you to leave a family party with your boyfriend to come and help him?”

“I—Because, Gary, he’s really upset! He’s drunk and he’s—”

“Oh, he’s drunk!” Gary laughed sardonically, tossing his hands up in the air. “That’s awesome! I am totally cool with you going and helping Kenny while he’s drunk. That’s a great idea, thanks for asking.”

Stan scoffed, “Dude, I don’t need your permission to do anything. What the hell is your problem right now?’

“My problem is that you and Kenny clearly have a thing for each other. You are constantly talking about him, choosing him over me, hanging out with him—”

“When do choose him over you?!” Stan exclaimed, rolling his eyes, “And don’t say right now, because I just spent all night with you and your family.”

Gary huffed loudly, voice raising, “You always chose him over me, Stan. You did that all three phases of our relationship, and this is another prime example of how he is just so much more important to you than me. What if I needed you tonight?”

Stan shook his head, “Gary, come on, if you needed me, I would be there for you! You don’t have to—”

“Then stay here.” Gary demanded, crossing his arms over his chest and raised his eyebrows. “I’m upset and I need you. Are you going to stay or are you going to go get Kenny?”

Stan stood silent for a moment, his lips pursed and eyes fixed on Gary’s firm disposition. “C’mon, you know it’s not like that, Gary.”

Gary shook his head in disbelief, stowing his gaze away. He clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth and said, “You know what, Stan, I can’t do this anymore.”

Stan’s stomach felt as if it were full of rocks. He let his mouth fall open again, sputtering, “You’re seriously breaking up with me because my friend needs my help?”

“No,” Gary asserted, taking a step toward him, glaring furiously, “I’m breaking up with you because you don’t even really want to do with me, Stan. I love you, and I care about you, so I’ve been putting up with this for years, hoping one day you’ll figure it out and want to be with me. But that’s never going to happen because you don’t know how to deal with your feelings and experiences like an adult. You can’t stay in a relationship with anyone, and you don’t know who anyone is to you. You’ve got a lot of growing up to do, buddy. Suck my balls.”

With that, Gary let out another exhale and turned away, heading back to the yard. Stan remained frozen in place, dumbfounded by what had just happened. Pure indignation flared inside of him and he stormed over to his car. He slumped inside and slammed the door shut. Burying his hands in his face, he let out a frustrated cry before pressing his head against the seat behind him.

Staring ahead and swiping his tongue against his front row of teeth, Stan fitted the keys into the ignition, switching the car on. While his mind was racing, his concern for Kenny’s well-being remained at the forefront of his thoughts. He put his car into drive and headed toward Heidi’s house, a batch of mixed feelings churning unpleasantly in his stomach.

Chapter 16: Stan Saves the Drunks

Notes:

thank u for all of the comments reads and kudos!! u are all so cute n ilysm !!

Chapter Text

Stan was at the Turners mere minutes after his dramatic break-up, his travel having been impeded only by a short distance and the occasional flock of pedestrians travelling to a decent place to view the fireworks display. Having spent the last few holidays watching the traditional spectacle with Gary, he did not feel sad for the fact that he would more than likely miss it.

He was forced to park several houses away, where he saw Craig’s busted up P.T. Cruiser. The sight of the terrible vehicle caused a sigh of relief to leave him. Kenny had friends with him at least.

Stan trekked down the block until he reached the party house. He stood at the entrance for an awkward moment, wondering if he should knock or not. There were a few occasions that he had been inside the Turner’s, as he had grown up acquaintances with Heidi, but it had been several years since he had just barged into anyone’s house other than his mother’s like they used to. Logic reminded him that the host and all other attendees would more than likely be too occupied (or wasted like Kenny). He spun the knob and let himself inside.

There was only one, small table lamp to illuminate the entire living room, as the sun’s rays had ceased to provide natural light. It alarmed Stan that nobody seemed to notice this and he crept forward, careful not to bump into anything or anyone. He kept his eyes peeled for anyone he knew, hopeful to quickly locate Kenny and get him the hell out of there.

On entering the kitchen, relief washed over Stan to come across the familiar face of his roommate. He strode up to Kyle, who greeted him with a surprised smile. “Hey, man! What are you doing here?”

Stan waved his off, “It’s a long story. Where’s Kenny? Is he okay?”

“Kenny?” Kyle repeated, glancing around the room before dropping his gaze to Heidi, “He was around here last time we saw him, right?”

“Yeah, he is hammered. He was up on this counter doing crazy sh*t for a solid ten minutes!” Heidi laughed, and nodded to Stan, “We were just about to head out and watch the fireworks if you want to come!”

“Thanks, but I need to find Kenny, especially if he’s that drunk…” Stan’s stomach continued to possess a sinking feeling, one that only increased when he realized what he was surrounded by—the same substance that took him two years to recover from an addition to. Stare lingering on the array of half-empty mixed drinks in plastic cups along the counter and two untapped bottles resting on a side-table. Seeming to have also heard the voice in his head telling him to grab all of it and drown his sorrows, Kyle dropped a comforting hand onto his shoulder and assured him, “Why don’t you go home, Stanley?”

Nodding, Stan forced his gape away from his former vice, “I will, I just need to find Ken. He called me, and he’s really upset. You sure you don’t know where I could find him?”

Kyle blew a raspberry and shrugged, “I really don’t, I’m sorry. You could ask Karen, she’s outside. Someone mentioned him going off with one of her friends, but I don’t know where that would have been.”

Stan felt even sicker, asking even though he did not truly want to know the answer, “Go off to do what?”

The redhead raised his eyebrows, “What Kenny always does at parties.”

Heidi crossed her arms over her chest. “I don’t like it at all, but they better not have gone up to my room.”

“Okay, thanks, I’m gonna go talk to Karen.” Stan interjected, speeding off toward the backyard, wanting to throw up despite being completely sober.

Stan scoured the yard filled with intoxicated celebrators for a few minutes, completely unable to locate Kenny’s little sister. He must have sighed to himself twenty times. Disappointment and concern brewed stronger inside of him with each face that did not belong to Karen. After combing through most of the crowd, he came across Tweek and Craig, who were sat off to the side in white, plastic chairs. Their seats were angled toward one another as the pair were locked in a wordless, awkward stare-off, with their faces close together and their hands in their laps.

Stan had so many questions, but the first one had to be, “What the f*ck are you two doing?”

Tweek flinched at the undetected presence beside him before squinting at Stan, “What?! Where did you come from?”

Craig laughed heartily, which came across quite eerily to Stan, who had hardly so much as seen the man smile. His answer came in the form of a bellow, “We’re having a staring contest, duh! Tweek definitely blink, anyway.”

The blond gasped, appearing genuinely offended and confused, “What?! When did I blink?! You blinked! Like, five minutes ago!”

“You blinked when you closed your eyelids, genius, and you definitely did that!” Craig accused again, a giggle chasing each word.

“Guys, hey, listen to me for a second,” Stan urged the bumbling drunkards to focus as much as their muddle minds would allow. “Have you seen Kenny? I really need to find him, do you have any idea where he is?”

“Kenny’s inside dancing!” Craig informed him, pointing a shaky finger over to the door. “It’s just right through that hole in the wall.”

Stan lifted an eyebrow, “The door?”

“Yeah.” Craig confirmed, nodding his head. “You’re so welcome, dude.”

“Holy sh*t, okay,” Stan muttered to himself, realizing conversing with those two was a lost cause—especially when he considered how Tweek had been staring at absolutely nothing, unblinking for a full minute then.

Stan decided to resort to asking the rest of the guests whom he did not know or did not know very well. Nobody seemed to know where Kenny went off to, aside from a short, blonde woman that he did not recognize. She appeared cross at the mention of Kenny and she responded distastefully, “Last place I saw his nasty ass go was the laundry room.”

“Laundry room? Why?” Stan asked, confused.

The blonde rolled her eyes, “To f*ck that redhead bitch.”

Stan’s throat closed up. Suddenly, he wanted to call off the search and drain a bottle of booze even more. He thanked the girl and headed back inside, heart pounding and fingers tingling as he reluctantly searched for the laundry room. Recalling where his childhood home’s washer and dryer hook-up was situated, he took a guess and headed down a narrow hallway that led to the far east side of the building. He found laundry machines, baskets of clothes, and a utility sink, but no Kenny. A selfish sense of relief took a short turn washing over him when he did not walk in on his friend fornicating with a young woman, but the much larger part of him that was terrified for his mental health and safety engulfed his entirety much more effectively.

He puffed out a long breath, formulating a plan to check every room in the house until he located his missing friend. On a whim, he took a few steps to reach the garage door, and puled the heavy, white portal ajar. His tummy sank and heart rose simultaneously when a slumped over Kenny was revealed.

“Ken,” Stan gasped, crossing the threshold. He let the door swing shut behind him as he crouched to the blond’s side, where he was sprawled out on the pair of concrete steps leading to the garage, head resting on a conveniently placed package of paper towels. He grasped Kenny’s limp, sweater-clad arm and gingerly wiggled it, “Hey, Kenny… wake up, man,”

When his friend wouldn’t budge, Stan surged forward, panic causing a stream of bile to dare expel from his mouth. He pressed his head to Kenny’s chest, feeling a bit ridiculous but relieved to hear a steady, slow heartbeat. Tears pricked Stan’s eyes despite the fact that the terrifying thought of Kenny being slumped over dead had already been disproven.

Instead, thoughts of Kenny’s voicemail invaded his brain. Stan soon found himself weeping softly at the reminder that the beautiful boy before him was furious at him. He lifted his arms and gently cupped Kenny’s soft, freckled cheeks in his hands. Stan swiped his thumbs against his flushed, creamy skin, wishing his warm, brown eyes were open for him to get lost in. Maybe then he could apologize repeatedly, until Kenny forgave him and everything was okay. He knew his heart could not unclench until his amazing best friend no longer felt f*cked up and sad and angry.

Staring at his angelic, kind features made Stan’s tears fall even harder. How the hell could he hate him? Why would Kenny even think that? There was not a single fiber in his being that hated Kenny—there was only a desperate, soul-scraping, senseless love that burned within him, head to toe. Every inch of him cried out for Kenny to jolt awake and fall into his arms, smirk and joke in that way that let Stan know he was okay. In that moment more than ever, he wanted to lean down and taste Kenny’s sweet, soft lips again, feel the cold metal of his piercing against his mouth and tongue, drown in his intoxicating scent.

The most he could do was pull the zonked blond into his embrace and hold back the bone-crushing hug he longed to give him. Stan sniffled miserably, slowly finding warmth and calmness with Kenny’s body pressed against his. In the safety and comfort of his best friend’s presence, he finally let himself come undone. After months of uncertainty, self-loathing, sorrow, and confusion, he felt as though he had finally learned the meaning of his own thoughts and feelings—which was completely overwhelming. He muted his cries with Kenny’s shoulder, running his fingers through his wild, sunshine curls.

“Stan?” A groggy version of Kenny’s voice cut through the stillness of the room, aside from Stans’ quiet sobs.

“Yeah,” Stan breathed, then pulled himself upright to view Kenny’s squinting, scrunched up face, “yeah, Ken, it’s me. I’m here.”

For a moment, Kenny held a look in his eyes that rendered Stan positive he was going to receive a punch across his face. He swallowed hard and allowed himself to be glowered—he knew he deserved every bit of it.

The punch never came; instead, Kenny lifted a weak hand to ungracefully swipe the tears from beneath Stan’s eyes before urging, “Come back.”

Stan obliged, replacing his head on Kenny’s shoulder, nose brushing against his neck. His insides did summersaults at the contact, and when he felt Kenny’s fingers curl around the nap of his neck and shakily scratched the back of his skull. The pair remained in the same position for a while, taking turns shedding a few tears and comforting one another. Stan was reminded of the only place that truly felt like home—not his mom’s new house, his dad’s apartment, his own apartment, or Gary’s arms. Only there, encircled in Kenny’s slightly smaller being, did he feel like he actually belonged.

“I’m so sorry, Kenny.” Stan tried, but was immediately cut off with a shush and a head shake from his blond friend.

“Not now. Head pounding. No talkin’.”

“Are you already hung over?”

“I said no talking, dear god, please,” Kenny groaned as the pair separated. He placed a hand over his mouth and forced his eyelids to peel apart. He granted himself a moment before he expressed, “I needa cigarette.”

Stan nodded, standing to his feet and outstretching an arm. Kenny took the support, using absolutely all he could get to stand to his wobbly feet. The blond returned the hand over his lips and peered up at Stan in confusion, “What are you doing here?”

“I came to get you,” Stan informed him, hooking an arm around his waist. “I’m gonna take you home.”

Kenny hummed in agreement as the pair began vacating the garage. He grumbled his next question, “How did you know where I was?”

“I—” Stan interrupted himself, the crippling realization that Kenny most likely did not recall sending him a voicemail hitting him like a ton of bricks. He cleared his throat, panic mode not allowing him to inform him about the message, “I just asked around. I came by to hang out with you guys.”

“Oh… is Gary okay?”

“Yeah,” Stan answered in a blend of a soft chuckle and sigh. “He’ll be fine.”

Kenny chose to ignore the cryptic response, deciding not much of anything made sense just then anyway. He accepted the significant support from Stan to keep himself upright and be led towards the front door of the Turner residence. It took him until halfway across Heidi’s front and the first few puffs of his cigarette to recall where he had been, and shamefully forget any of the details that followed helping her set up for the party.

He decided to also disregard that fact for the time being, as the cross between still drunk, sick, and lethargic made it difficult to walk—he needed all his concentration for it.

“What the f*ck…” Stan muttered under his breath on approaching his vehicle down the street. Kenny reeled as he quickened his pace and spouted (which had the effect of a screech on Kenny’s ears), “What the hell are you two doing?!”

Cackling obtained Kenny’s attention. Slowly lifting his head, he found Tweek and Craig leaning against a car. Craig returned, “We’re going to get ice cream, bro. Do you want some?”

“Did he just call you ‘bro’?” Kenny mumbled, his hazy gaze now directed at the perplexed Stan.

“I don’t—” The only sober member of the congregation sighed deeply, “You’re not driving anywhere, Tucker. Get in my car,”

Tweek’s eyes widened as he slipped and slid against the passenger side of Craig’s vehicle, “That’s stranger danger, Stan.”

Craig laughed far too boisterously at the pseudo-joke, making Kenny’s desire to fall over and let the earth reclaim intensify. He whined, “Can you let me in the car?”

“Yeah, I’ll help you over, babe,” Stan told him, retwisting the supportive arm around his waist.

Kenny’s eyes snapped open at the pet-name directed at him, hating that it caused a soft, warm feeling to rise in his stomach. His stare swiftly reverted to the half-hooded nature he could muster much easier as he let Stan guide him into the passenger’s side of his Corolla. Suddenly, his spirit and body recalled how much they felt for Stan, as the hands and fingertips that provided him aid left warm, tingling impressions on the skin beneath his sweater even after he secured the door shut and went to work wrangling Tweek and Craig into the backseat.

“I could totally make it!” Craig exclaimed and the back doors were pried ajar by Stan and Tweek. The pair slumped down, Tweek maintaining utter confusion, and Craig pouty. He rolled his eyes over to Stan, “You’re overreacting.”

Kenny watched over his shoulder as the annoyed driver squatted beside Craig, demanding, “Count to ten.”

“One, two, three, four… five, six… six, seven? Is it seven? That doesn’t sound right, does it?” Craig turned to Tweek, who shrugged and giggled. Craig joined in laughing then peered back over to Stan, “Dude, I did it, can you let me go?”

Stan stifled his own laugh and stood, slamming the door shut before climbing into the driver’s seat. As soon as the car came to life, a dreadful, loud guitar riff blasted through Stan’s speakers. The noise belonged to one of the deathcore bands the driver listened to and forced the intoxicated majority to plug their ears or shout complaints.

“f*ck off, you’re welcome for not letting any of you die!” Stan exclaimed after switching the input and decreasing the volume. He put the car into drive as Kenny chuckled.

As he drove, Kenny watched all of his motions. Even half-cognizant, he appreciated the way he looked in his grey sweatshirt and Broncos breakaway beanie with a multi-colored puffball on top. Whenever his friend wore it, it reminded him of his red and blue winter hat he clung to throughout childhood, and finally had to dispose of in middle school. Stan had always looked cute with a few strands of his messy black hair dipping out from under the accessory.

“Where are we goin’?” Kenny finally asked as they sped off and away from the neighborhood. He glanced behind him briefly to witness Tweek and Craig leaning into each other, giggling, both looking like they could cry or fall asleep at any moment as well as the happiest he had ever seen them.

“I don’t know where the f*ck either one of them lives, so we’re just going back to my place. I’ll drive them back in the morning.” Stan answered.

Kenny let himself grin, enjoying the idea. Though inwardly he was still extremely displeased with his friend and his behavior, after the night he had had, he was beyond grateful to see his familiar, comforting face. He did not allow himself to consider how long he would have stayed passed out in that freezing garage, or how much more he would have drank when he finally came-to, had it not been for Stan’s coming to the rescue.

“Can you play that one song I like?” Kenny requested, surprised by the gruff quality of his voice. Stan’s Hot Fuss CD has been providing quiet background noise after Stan had spared them the displeasure of his Spotify playlist.

Kenny elaborated when Stan co*cked an eyebrow at him, “The one that’s like, what a beautiful place, I have found in this face,”

Stan simpered at him amusedly, “It’s the other way around, but I’ll definitely play it for you.”

At a stop sign, Kenny watched Stan quickly make the adjustments to the stereo setting and then search for Neutral Milk Hotel on his music app. Soon after, a soothing strum pattern sounded through the speakers, followed by the line Kenny had previously butchered.

The blond shut his eyes and listened to the music, allowing it to bring a grin to his lips. The words were reminiscent of his feelings for the boy to his left, even when he made him want to get black out drunk and cry by himself at a party. Kenny took a leap of faith and reached for Stan’s hand; his heart fluttered pleasantly when the gesture was accepted, and Stan laced their fingers together.

They held hands until they reached the apartment complex, listening to “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” on repeat—which probably would have annoyed Tweek and Craig, had they not passed out in the warmth of one another’s arms.

_

Waking up before anyone else was the single most unsettling experience of Craig’s life.

He pulled a soft, yellow throw blanket up to cover his waist and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. A faint ache plagued him between the ears as he tried to piece together events from the night before. He was surprised to obtain a pretty clear picture of what occurred, though it felt like an out of body experience.

Craig could not contain the happy smile that quirked his lips upward when he recalled kissing Tweek. Maybe there was a God after all—but it more likely had to do with the fact that the feeling was unforgettable.

Craig scanned his surroundings after a brief period of fantasizing about the kiss, recalling that Stan saved him from killing himself and Tweek in a fiery accident. Beside him on Kyle and Stan’s grey, Ikea sofa was a dead-looking Tweek. His mouth had fallen opened wide, and his arm dangling off of the furniture. Smirking to himself, he wished that he had been waking up to this in his own apartment. It was this thought that caused his bloodshot brown eyes to split apart—that was the plan before Stan interrupted it.

They were going to sleep together.

Blowing a raspberry at his racing thoughts, Craig could not decide if he was thankful or utterly disappointed that their escapade was cancelled. He was not entirely keen on the idea of their first time being when they were both piss-drunk, but that is how their first kiss occurred—perhaps that was just their thing.

“Well, good morning,” came a voice from behind Craig. He watched Stan trace passed him, throwing him a smirk over his shoulder, “How’re you feeling?”

“Fine,” Craig retorted. “What time is it?”

“Uh,” Stan hummed, disappearing into what Craig assumed was the kitchen. “Noon.”

“What the f*ck,” Craig groaned. Realizing half of the day was wasted already, he decided to rouse Tweek from his slumber and urge him to join him in leaving. “Hey, Tweek?”

“Stop,” Tweek demanded groggily, swatting away the hand on his arm that shook him. The blond grunted and turned away, curling into himself.

Craig sighed, grinning despite himself at Tweek’s unwillingness to awaken. He remained wishing desperately that he would, as he had rarely been alone with Stan, and this did not seem like an enjoyable time to start.

The threat of this was quickly extinguished by Kenny, however, who came wandering out from the same place Stan had. Instead of veering into the kitchen, Kenny dropped onto the opposite side of the couch from the snoozing Tweek and titled his head back against the cushion behind him, staring up at the ceiling.

After a few moments of silence, Kenny distracted him from his Instagram feed by saying, “So, last night was rough.”

Just as Craig was about to agree, one glance at his friend’s face brought him a flashback of watching his sister approach him, pressing her hand to his chest seductively. Suddenly his headache was much worse.

Stan did not reappear from the kitchen for a while, and rather than ask him what the plan was for leaving, he worked on coaxing Tweek back to consciousness. He placed a gentle hand on his shoulder and jostled him, his unruly blond curls bouncing with each shake. All he earned from doing this was a grumble, jerk away, and eventually, “f*ck off.”

“Tweek, get up,” Kenny tried, nudging his backside with his foot.

Craig threw him a glare, “What the f*ck is poking his ass going to do?”

“I don’t know, stimulate him into consciousness?” Kenny jested, throwing him and even lazier grin than usual.

“You’re weird.” Craig concluded, leaning up on his knees for better access to Tweek’s face. The man was wrinkling his features into an adorable, enraged expression. Most of Craig’s instincts told him to allow him his beauty rest, but the remaining logical portion of his brain urged him to get this kid up so he could no longer be at Stan and Kyle’s apartment on one of his only days off.

After another round of shaking and talking did nothing, Craig craned his neck over Tweek’s body and used a tactic that annoyed the sh*t out of his sister growing up; he blew a long stream of air directly onto Tweek’s face.

“And I’m f*ckin’ weird?” Kenny laughed, which caused Craig to stop and laugh at how admittedly ridiculous it was.

“What the f*ck?” came Tweek’s grouchy response. Craig quickly put himself out of the way as the blond came roaring to life, brow and nose scrunched in disapproval. The venomous glare became quickly directed at Kenny beside him, “What the hell is wrong with you?!”

Kenny placed on palm over his chest and raised his right hand, “On my honor, I would never blow on your face, Tweekers.”

“You wouldn’t get up!” Craig defended, flinching when Tweek whirled around furiously. “Sorry,”

Tweek exhaled deeply through his nose, looking as though he was about to yell. Instead, he dropped his head in his hands and groaned loudly. “My brain is soupy.”

Kenny simpered at him and peered over to the kitchen. “I want to see what Stan is making but I already used all of my energy to come out here.”

“I need to go home and sleep for another twelve hours.” Craig said after moaning in agreement to both of their comments.

As if on cue, Stan came bustling out of the kitchen with plates of hot food. He snickered at the grunts the three were exchanging and offered Tweek and Craig portions of bacon and English muffins. “Eat up.”

The pair accepted the offering, thanking him hesitantly. Craig stared fixedly at the food, unable to decide if he was starving or he never wanted to eat again.

When Stan returned with a third plate for Kenny and only an English muffin for himself, he nodded to them, “This is the best cure for a hangover, trust me. It’s a tried-and-true method.”

Craig co*cked an eyebrow, nibbling at his bacon, “How many hangovers have you had?”

Stan shrugged, “Well, I used to be an alcoholic, so I essentially spent a year hungover.”

“sh*t, sorry,” Craig muttered sheepishly, looking down again. His stomach suddenly felt extremely hallow after swallowing his first bite. He picked up the pace, deciding he was indeed starving.

“It’s cool, I was, like, twelve.”

“Eleven,” Kenny corrected sadly, chewing a bite of muffin. “And thank you.”

Tweek and Craig exchanged shocked expressions, before the blond reiterated, “You were an alcoholic at eleven years old?”

“Yeah,” Stan chuckled, brushing from crumbs from his lap. “I started being a walking disaster pretty early.”

Craig watched Kenny reach out and squeeze his friend’s arm comfortingly. They shared sad simpers as he tried to imagine the deep level of clinical depression Stan must suffer for him to become addicted to alcohol at the same at that Craig had just started puberty. Thankfully, the saddening topic was shifted by Stan when addressing Kenny with a simper, “Sounded like you were the life of the party.”

Kenny snorted, “Yeah, right. Passing out in your friend’s garage is wild sh*t.”

“It definitely seemed like it when we got there,” Tweek agreed with Stan, seeming significantly less grouchy after half of his muffin had been consumed.

The other blond furrowed his brow, “Why, what did I do?” The all shared a laugh and Kenny peered between them, growing slightly frustrated and embarrassed, “What?”

“You were gettin’ it up on Heidi’s counter,” Tweek chuckled, looking to Craig for support, “What was he doing when we first showed up?”

Craig answered amusedly from behind a bite of bacon, “The Sprinkler.”

“And nobody recorded it?” Stan huffed, Kenny rolling his eyes and chuckling along anyway. He added, “Apparently you got a little busy with some redhead, too.”

Craig’s blood went cold at the sentence. He only recalled one redhead at that party.

“Dude, I seriously barely remember any of it,” he groaned. “I have the vaguest possible memory of a redhead dancing up on me and that’s it.”

“Well, some blonde chick told me you two went off to the laundry room to f*ck.” Stan filled him in, tone flat.

Craig dropped his plate to his lap and smacked and hand over his face. He wanted to scream, but instead he begged, “Please shut the f*ck up.”

“Why, what’s wrong?” Kenny questioned, the other two taking turns to ask something similar.

He shook his head, “Please just do not talk about f*cking her. I do not want to know.”

“I don’t even remember kissing her, dude,” Kenny scoffed, then paused a moment, “Wait…”

“Stop, Kenny. I’m f*cking serious.”

“Holy sh*t,” Tweek gasped. Craig screwed his neck to him to find his eyes wide with realization, “Kenny, oh my god…”

“What?! What’s wrong with her? Does she got herpes or some sh*t?” Kenny pressed, seemingly to have acquired some recollection of the interaction, “I’m about 99% sure we did not f*ck. I think I remember fingering her—”

“Oh, my god, shut the f*ck up! You’re talking about my sister!” Craig finally exploded, feeling absolutely horrified on several levels to have heard this.

Stan and Kenny’s stares shot open to match Tweek’s, peering back and forth between one another and Craig. Kenny pursed his lips together tightly, doing everything in his power to stifle the laugh that threatened to fall from his lips.

“Holy sh*t, dude…” Stan mumbled, a hint of a chuckle catching ahold of his final word.

Though Craig wanted nothing more but to slither under the couch and never hear anyone talk again, he couldn’t help but also finding something strangely amusing about the situation as well. When he finally broke, as did everyone. The four were cracking up until Tweek urged everyone to shut up, lest the aggressive “ping ponging” in his skull worsen.

Craig exhaled deeply, “Please never f*cking talk about that again.”

“Scouts Honor, stretch. Though, I gotta say, it’s nice to figure out why she looked so familiar,” Kenny nodded as began working on his bacon. “I must’ve seen her come in the store.”

Craig suddenly regretting occasionally begging her to bring him a sub from his favorite deli up closer to his hometown. It was definitely not worth the fifteen-dollar “tip” he would give her now that he knew Kenny had probably been checking her out. He was irritatingly pulled from his revere when Kenny inquired, “Gotta picture of your mom?”

“f*ck off, McCormick. I’m telling her f*cking fiancé so he comes to Menards and tries to start a rap battle with you.” He threatened, cursing the heat he felt rising against his face.

Stan snorted, “Definitely sounds like something Skyler would do.”

Kenny quirked an eyebrow at Stan, “Skyler?”

“Yeah, you remember Shelley’s super old boyfriend who was in that god-awful band Lords of the Underworld?”

“First of all, she’s f*ckin’ engaged? Second of all, to that guy?!” Kenny exclaimed, appearing somewhat panicked at the information.

“Yep,” Craig confirmed, unenthused tone prevailing, “She is engaged to an unemployed 26-year-old in a 15-year-old band with maybe three fans not including their parents. And she cheats on him all the time. She is truly the worst—”

“Wait, 26? That can’t be right,” Stan interrupted, puzzled, “He was 22 when my sister dated him, and I was, like, 8. So, that was, like…”

“14 years ago,” Tweek chimed in, still looking as though he absolutely hated everything around him. His nest of blond curls was in an eccentric disarray as he peered over at Craig in astonishment, “So, that would make him 36, not 26.”

“Oh my god… he told her she was only six years older than her…” Craig clarified to himself, unable to discern whether his strongest reaction was disbelief or relief for the information that would more than likely bring an end to his sister’s engagement.

“Dude, this is pretty f*cked up right here.” Stan sighed, peaking at him expectantly, “Are you gonna tell her?”

Craig shrugged, “I feel like I definitely have to. I don’t know if she will care or not.”

“God, this world is so f*cked up,” Tweek voice from behind Craig, immediately obtaining everyone’s attention, “can you imagine your mid-life crisis being scamming a 20-year-old girl into marrying you?”

Kenny joked, “Honestly, I think that’s best-case scenario for me. Otherwise, I’m probably dead.”

Despite being absolutely appalled by two separate revelations involving his sister, Craig was surprised to have had a pretty decent time hanging out with Kenny, Stan, and Tweek—especially when Tweek’s headache subsided more and he was not inherently angry. However, he remained on edge and not as willing to interact directly with Craig as usual. He had a crushing fear that this meant Tweek remembered and regretted making out with him the night before.

Craig really hoped this was not the case but did not feel too sure when he granted Tweek a sweet smile and the blond pretended that he did not even see it.

Chapter 17: Hello, Anxiety

Notes:

hello again my precious blueberries! happy holidays if you're celebrating and thank u for reading my dumb sh*t <3

Chapter Text

After an amicable interaction between the four friends while eating their post-party elixir, Kenny became vastly uncomfortable from the rising tension from the others. Tweek had begun the day rather groggy and snippy, and it had transformed into dead silence and a resting bitch face. Unable (or unwilling to try) to coax Tweek from this slump, Craig had also taken to the quiet. Both directed their stares out the window of Stan’s car as he drove them back to near Heidi’s house. Stan had also taken on a less than enthusiastic aura, doing his best to avoid eye contact and contain dialogue exchanges to out of necessity.

All of this rendered Kenny feeling both awkward and jaded, especially since he had begun the day in high spirits with Stan. For the first time in months, he felt at peace with the other man despite all that was going on around them, giving him the hope that their friendship would be mendable. He was incredibly tired of feeling like they were taking only one step forward for every five steps backwards.

“See you tomorrow,” Kenny told Tweek and Craig after they came to a stop in the curbside behind Craig’s hideous vehicle. The pair grunted meek replies on exiting, leaving Stan and Kenny alone. The choice between acknowledging Stan’s behavior and continuing to wallow in uncomfortable silence made Kenny stomach sink.

He decided he would rather talk about absolutely anything than endure more of that, “So… did you have a good time at Gary’s last night?”

Stan glanced at Kenny swiftly, a vague expression across his face, “Not really… we broke up.”

Kenny inadvertently snapped his head in Stan’s direction. The news felt like a dose of fire directly to his face and chest. He knit his eyebrows together, “What?”

“Yeah,” Stan confirmed, a bitter-looking grin stretching his lips, “He broke up with me because you call—I mean, because he just—”

“Wait, what about me?” Kenny interjected, heart crawling up his throat, “What’d I do?”

“I—” Stan started again, interrupting himself. He took his time, stare again unfocused. “You called me last night…”

“What did I say?” Kenny demanded with unintentional intensity laced in his tone.

Stan wetted his lips and sputtered for a few moments, “I mean, you just sounded really drunk, honestly. I had to listen to it, like, three times to even understand what you were—”

“It was a voicemail?!” Kenny interrupted again, shifting to face him, “Give me your phone,”

“Ken, c’mon, it’s not that big of a deal—”

“Give me the phone, or I’ll take it and we’ll crash.” The blond warned.

Unable to determine whether Kenny’s threat was lighthearted, he reached into the front pocket of his jeans to procure the cellular device. He passed it off to his friend, heart racing as he wished he would have deleted the message.

Fingers trembling, Kenny tapped Stan’s password in and opened the green application labeled “Phone”. The knowledge of the voicemail itself caused a stream of hazy memories of the drunken night before to trickle through his mind. A small part of him did not want to know what idiotic nonsense he must have spouted, but the much larger part of him was aware that he needed to be privy to the information—even if it made him want to throw up.

Stan watched out of the corner of his eye as Kenny held the phone up to his ear. He cupped a hand over his lips, gnawing on his lip ring anxiously. With each bumbling phrase, he felt the urge to hurl himself from the car strengthen.

“f*ck, dude…” Kenny grumbled, tossing the iPhone into his lap and covering his face in his hands. “you must think I’m a f*ckin’ idiot.”

“Of course I don’t think that, Ken,” Stan frowned. He wished he wasn’t in the process of driving and could pull him into a comforting embrace. Instead, he reached over and wrapped a gentle hand around Kenny’s left wrist, urging him to uncover his face, “I could never think that about you.”

“Right,” Kenny scoffed, allowing his hands to drop to his sides. He wet his lips and cast his gaze out of the window.

Stan let a pause befall them before he pressed on tenderly, “Why would you ever think I hate you?”

“Because you didn’t answer your phone…” Kenny answered, stifling a laugh. He peered back to Stan with pursed lips.

A chuckle left Stan’s lips when he witnessed his friend withholding his own. “Okay, well, you know that’s absolutely not true, right?”

“Yeah, I f*ckin’ know,” Kenny snorted. The tightness in his chest subsided at Stan’s acceptance of him despite completely embarrassing himself with the memo. The weight that had been lifted off his shoulders due to the death of Stan’s relationship with Gary was finally detectable as well.

“The reason we broke up is because after that I went to go find you…” Stan trailed off. Though the car had come to a temporary halt at a red light, his blue eyes, lightened by the sun, remained trained forward. “Gary said I always chose you over him and he’s tired of it and that there’s clearly something going on between us… And, clearly, he dumped me…”

The load felt even lighter with the clarifying factors of the altercation. Kenny did his best not to smile, as breakups are not celebratory events—even when it’s the love of your life becoming available again. He said, “I’m sorry, Stanley… Especially since it’s because of me.”

Stan exhaled deeply, “It was not, it was ‘cause of me. It’s all been my fault… I’m the one who should be apologizing to you,”

Kenny’s breath hitched, “For what?”

Another red light. This time, Stan turned to face him. Blue and brown locked in a gaze that felt like the answers he had been seeking for so long. Stan spoke softly, “For ever making someone as amazing as you feel so hurt. You don’t deserve for one second to feel the way you said in that message. I’m sorry, Kenny.”

It took Kenny a few moments of reeling and absorbing to response lamely, “Thank you for saying that…”

“I mean it. I’ve been such a tool… I don’t even really understand why, so I’m not going to sit here and try to give you a bunch of excuses or psychoanalyze my f*cked up, dumb brain, but just know that I am so, so sorry you ever had to feel that way because of me. You mean way too much for me to let that happen again.”

“Jesus, layin’ it on a little thick there, aren’t we?” Kenny joked, though deeply pleased and relieved to be hearing this. Knowing Stan was aware of his appreciation, he continued, “No wonder Gary thought there was something goin’ on between us.”

“I mean, sh*t… He’s not wrong, is he?”

Kenny whipped his head around in surprise toward Stan for the second time, this time met with a soft, adoring smile. His soul soared when Stan offered a hand for Kenny’s painted one to hold. He grasped it tentatively, a pleased smirk curling his lips, “I dunno, Marsh. Is he?”

Stan shook his head, no longer attempting to conceal the beam across his handsome face. “Definitely not, McCormick.”

It was not much longer until Stan’s Corolla had veered into the narrow driveway of the house Kenny shared with his mother, Karen, his older brother Kevin and his girlfriend, Leah, and his two-year-old nephew, Peter. Ordinarily the full-house did not faze him, and he rather loved coming home to plenty of people he cared for to converse with—especially when Peter awake and ready to play. However, in that moment, he desperately wished for his own place, and the ability to pull Stan inside and continue the conversation.

Kenny turned to Stan again, their fingers still entwined. He did not even recall who was the one to do this, but he accepted it as a completely natural act. He sighed, “And this is where I leave you.”

Stan frowned, “I won’t see you until Tuesday. I work tomorrow night.”

“Damn,” Kenny pouted a lip and reluctantly withdrew his hand to unbuckle his seatbelt. “I’ll miss ya.”

“I’ll miss you,” Stan promised. There was a look in his eye that Kenny was unfamiliar with, but it sparked a sense of urgency within him.

Suddenly everything was in slow motion. Stan was coming in closer, the look intensifying with the decreasing proximity. He wrapped Kenny in a warm, affectionate hug that was reciprocated with equal intention. The pair remained stuck in time for a moment, breathing in the unique scents of each other that they had neither realized they had missed so dearly in their temporary separation over the past few weeks. Kenny’s heart slammed against his ribcage when he felt fingers slip their way to the back of his hair. The feeling was intoxicating—a reminder of what intimacy with Stan was like.

Stan pulled back just enough for their eyes to meet again. Kenny continued to feel dumbstruck and unable to move; he also felt no desire to ever leave the bubble he had found himself in. The air around him had become water. Stan was floating before him, sliding his hands to either side of his cheeks. Nothing could be more disarming than the soft skin of Stan’s thumbs gliding across the field of freckles beneath his eyes.

The dark-haired man’s lips parted, as if he were about to say something. Kenny remained caught in his tidal wave, and completely drowned in his presence when Stan crashed their mouths together.

Though Kenny could never forget the taste that his lips allowed, the real-time reminder was insurmountably better. A short gasp caught in his throat and his eyelashes fluttered together. Clutching Stan’s elbows in either hand, he titled his head sideways for easier access as he returned the kiss, putting all the passion, pain, lust, and love he had been containing into the gesture.

Stan seemingly received all of this and reciprocated the strong feelings, displayed in the slow, firm movement of his lips against Kenny’s. The drag of his thumbs against Kenny’s rosy cheeks became slower as his attention was overcome by the way their mouths slotted perfectly together. Feelings of adoration and arousal battled for dominance within him, love ultimately winning out, daring him to urge Kenny closer and deepen the kiss.

Kenny held back a moan at the soft tug of Stan’s teeth against his bottom lip. His hands had wandered to the other man’s hips, finding the spot just beneath the hem of his long-sleeved shirt to rest. Stan’s skin was even softer on his belly, and Kenny too experienced the exhilarating desire to extend the make out session.

After allowing himself a few moments longer of the blissful kiss, Kenny drew back from Stan’s face. He let his dilated gaze scan his face before accepting the reality that it really was Stan that he had just earned an unforgettable kiss from. He did not trust his voice to work, as it still felt as though he were underwater and it would merely fade to bubbles, but he tried anyway: “Y’know, I don’t have to go home right now.”

Stan took the hint with a giddy smile and a nod. “Movie night?”

“Hell yeah,” Kenny breathed before those lips he craved were upon his again. They shared a few more desperate kisses before Stan peeled right back out of the driveway and head back to his apartment, where they would spend the rest of the night in the comfort of Stan’s bed, becoming reacquainted with one another during an array of films they ignored.

_

Tweek felt as though he could not shake his hangover until the middle of his shift on Monday morning.

That morning he was forced awake by Token, as he managed to ignore his blaring alarm as part of his dream. He swiftly readied himself and had to settle for purchasing himself a cold brew at work instead of making himself a free, warm, better cup from Token’s six-cup pot. On the bright side, the drink was purchased with his first paycheck from Menards. He was working on getting half of it to Token for rent.

He tried and failed to rest after the quiet ride home from Craig, which he thanked him profusely for despite having spiraled completely into panic mode on top of being plagued with the single worst headache anyone had ever had (he was positive). Recalling how quickly he set things into motion with Craig in his rare form caused nerves to twist up like a knot in the base of his stomach. He was aware that he appeared furious through the entire interaction with his friends, but if he did not concentrate on containing his nerves, he would have been biting and picking the skin on his lips to blood—and he did happen to be slightly cross with himself for kissing and almost sleeping with Craig.

Tweek also found himself frustrated for the fact that this was a potential problem; he was a young, single guy, and perfectly allowed to make out with and have sex with whoever he wanted. He should be feeling proud of himself for scoring such an attractive person to drunkenly kiss in the backyard of a pseudo-acquaintance’s house. Instead, he was filled with dread and nerves at the prospect of interacting with him again, scared to fall into the obligation of a committed relationship, or scared of wanting so badly to do so.

His life felt like a never-ending cycle of universal disappointments.

Despite wanting to avoid Craig, he shot him a text message apologizing for coming across as upset or angry, blaming his hangxiety for his behavior. Craig assured him that it was no problem, and that he understood after Googling what that meant.

It had taken Tweek a bit longer than usual to finish putting away his freight for that morning, especially considering Kenny had fled to wallcovering to help Bebe. Even so, he had a full hour to kill before noon when he was finished. Jimbo had also arrived at that point and sent him into a particularly horrible section of the lightbulb aisle to “face”—or straighten up and move the merchandise forward into an aesthetically pleasing position.

Tweek despised facing the few times he was forced to partake. It was tedious and frustrating. It reminded him both how little people cared about property that was not theirs and the jobs of retail workers to clean up their messes and that he hardly knew what anything was or meant. He could still not identify various properties of a lightbulb just by looking at the top as the other electrical team members were able to.

“Sir, can you tell me how many jigawatts these lightbulbs are?” A gruff voice resounded beside him.

Tweek felt his muscles tense at the presence of a stranger, but he quickly relaxed when a quick glance to his side revealed his roommate. He chuckled lightly and accepted the handshake greeting from Token, “1.21, sir.”

Token grinned and let his light brown eyes wander their surroundings. “So, this is where you disappear to all day.”

Quirking his head to the side as he fitted his hands into the front pockets of his apron, Tweek questioned, “Have you never been in here?”

“Nope,” he answered, shrugged, “but we need a new furnace filter, and I couldn’t find 'em at Wal-Mart.”

Tweek perked up, exclaiming, “Cool, I actually know where those are!”

“You’re way too excited about that, but ‘ight.” Token snorted. He fell into pace with Tweek as he escorted him to the section in plumbing that housed furnace filters. “Is Kenny here today?”

“Yeah, he’s around here somewhere. I’m sure he’d be happy to see you if you wanna go find him. And I would be happy to not have to finish fixing up the stupid light bulb aisle.” Tweek bemoaned.

Token nodded, “Sure, it’s been a minute. I always liked him best out of those four dumbasses.”

“Yeah, not much has changed. But, Kenny’s really cool. Stan and Kyle are okay now. Cartman is still Cartman.”

“Yeah, I don’t need a stroll down that neurotic memory lane.”

They quickly approached their destination, Tweek pointing to the extensive aisle of furnace filter choices. “I hope you know what dimensions we need.”

Token co*cked an eyebrow, “I do know how to read.”

“Me too!” Tweek joked, strolling behind his friend as he scanned the smaller sizes. “Aren’t you glad I gave you an early start this morning so you could come to this fabulous place?”

“Oh, yeah, super thrilled you let your alarm go for five straight minutes,” Token groaned. He carefully removed the light, square item he needed before granting his friend a sympathetic grin. “For real, though, are you good?”

The blond nodded, though his words did not reflect the gesture, “I think I’m still hungover and I’m exhausted even though I laid down all day yesterday, but other than that, I’m good.”

“What about with Craig?” Token inquired as the two continued on, taking a left out of plumbing and toward the paint department.

“Haven’t even seen him, so,” Tweek shrugged nonchalantly, though his stomach had dropped at the mention. He spent the morning trying very hard to put the situation out of his mind until he was absolutely forced to deal with it.

And when they found Kenny, it looked as though that time had come.

Bebe, Clyde, Wendy, Kenny, and Craig were gathered around the paint desk. Tweek inadvertently stopped in his tracks a few sections away, which his friend didn’t miss. Token clicked his tongue, “Is that him?”

“Yes,” Tweek sighed. He figured there was no turning back, however, and continued to lead Token toward the congregation.

All five of his fellow coworkers screwed their eyes up to him and offered mismatched greetings. Kenny’s eyes widened when he witnessed Token’s presence, “Hey, man!”

“What’s up, McCormick?” Token returned as he outstretched a hand for him to shake.

Accepting the gesture, Kenny looked to their coworkers and announced, “This is Tweek’s bestie, Token. Definitely the smartest and coolest guy from South Park. And somehow he got even hotter,”

He accepted the compliment with a gracious smile, “You always did make me feel good about myself, man.”

Kenny shot him a wink as Tweek addressed the non-South Park natives. “Evidence Kenny has always been a hopeless flirt.”

“I don’t blame him on this one.” Wendy spoke up, drawing all eyes to her immediately. She granted Token a sweet smile before letting her gaze fall to her tablet.

Token and Tweek exchanged pleasantly surprised expressions, the blond dropping his voice to a whisper, “She’s awesome.”

Token nodded in appreciation of the discrete green light and kept his gaze on Wendy as she and Craig began to discuss something pertaining to their hand-held devices.

“It’s nice to meet you, man! Thanks for sharing Tweek with us, he’s a super cool dude.” Clyde took his turn greeting, adding a short wave to his statement.

Token patted Tweek’s shoulders, agreeing, “We’re all lucky to have him, aren’t we?”

Tweek snorted, rolling his eyes, “Stop it, you guys. I might start to like myself.”

“You better!” Bebe giggled, then took a pause to listen to a voice coming through her radio. She whined, peering up at Clyde. “Can you help?”

“You know it! Let’s go before we get an earful from Randy about it.”

Bebe signed deeply but granted a kind smile to Token and wiggled her fingers, “Nice to meet you, sweet pea!”

With that, Clyde allowed her to lead him back toward receiving. Tweek did not miss the large hand that found the small of Bebe’s back as they walked. He threw a glance over to Kenny, who was smirking as if he read Tweek’s mind, “Not sure if it’s official or not, but they’re for sure gettin’ acquainted.”

“There’s a lot of romance going on in this place,” Token commented, stare remaining on Wendy, admiring her commanding energy, and long, black ponytail. She would have appeared studious even without the help of her rounded, wire-framed glasses but they added to the effect immaculately. “Maybe I should apply. Though, I don’t think I could stand hearing this dumb jingle all the time.”

Token was referring to the Menards jingle that often interrupted the store’s music to blare through the speakers on a scheduled loop every ten minutes. His first few days, Tweek swore the incessant sound of a full chorus singing Save big money, when you shop Menards! would drive him toward restarting the job search process; however, as Kenny had assured him, he quickly became so used to it blended into the horrendous mixture of pop music, oldies, and terrible covers of both of those genres.

Kenny nodded to him, “You think this is bad, you should hear the holiday jingle. It’s a solid minute longer.”

Tweek grunted, “Not looking forward to that if they let me come back over break.”

“That one you never get used to,” Kenny warned humorously.

The three averted their attention to the pair of noirettes approaching the desk again. Craig caught Tweek’s amber gaze, causing an instant dryness to invade his mouth. He began worrying his bottom lip after flashing a quick smile.

“Well, I won’t be back from counting the mess of the barn for a good four hours, so if you need me… don’t,” Wendy informed primarily Kenny and Craig, who both nodded in understanding. Tweek recalled an hour-long text chain rant about how disastrously disorganized the outdoor lumber storage area was, and how big of a pain it was to take inventory of the wood.

“I’m glad I caught you, then,” Token told her, a charming grin stretching his lips as his eyes flicked from her name badge back to her gorgeous, brown eyes. “Wendy.”

“Me too.” She responded with a flirty smile before spinning around and heading toward the outside section of the store.

Token whistled when she was out of ear shot, then glanced between the three employees, “Please tell me she’s single.”

“Yep.” Craig confirmed.

Kenny frowned, “Clyde officially won the battle for Bebe’s affection. I guess I’m happy for the dude but I was rooting for Wendy. That would’ve been so f*ckin’ hot.”

Craig shot him a bored glare. “Don’t sexualize lesbians, you jag.”

Kenny tittered, “Get over it, Tucker, I sexualize everyone. Including you.”

The darkhaired man stuck up his middle finger to him before Tweek interjected, “Wait, she had a thing for Bebe?”

“She’s gay?” Token added, the start of a frown teetering across his lips.

“She’s bi,” Craig corrected, then addressed Kenny. “And I truly do not even know why or how you know that, but, whatever.”

“Everybody tells me everything. I know everyone’s deepest, darkest secrets. I’m a sexy, three-eyed raven.” Kenny answered, making everyone but Craig laugh.

The darkhaired man rolled his eyes. “Whatever you say. I need to finish this stupid department. I don’t know who the f*ck double-palleted the dog food aisle, but I’m going to strangle them.”

Token felt a combination of amusem*nt and confusion toward Craig. He did not seem like someone Tweek would ordinarily be interested in—monotone, slightly morbid. His voice, appearance, aura, and style did not match up with the phrases and interactions Tweek retold excitedly, detailing how sweet and kind the man was. Token decided it was actually pretty adorable if Tweek was able to softened up his edgy persona.

“Probably her boy-toy. He’s been basically working two departments, and they don’t have to do much overstock over in flooring, so I doubt he knows what he's doing.” Kenny reasoned, which Craig conceded to the accuracy of with a displeased hum.

Craig managed to catch Tweek in a stare again and asked a question he had been dreading. “Hey, can I talk to you real quick?”

“Uh, sure!” Tweek practically squeaked in a miserably failed attempt to seem casual. He dropped his head and allowed himself to be whisked away to an aisle stocked with spray-paint a couple of yards away.

Much as Tweek wished he could stop himself from returning Craig’s pretty gaze boring into his eyes, he could not resist the somewhat close proximity of their persons. There was something addictive and magnetic about the other man, a feeling that intensified after they had crossed a few more physical boundaries the night of the party. It was precisely this innate desire to wrap himself up in the presence of Craig that frightened and discouraged him from continuing their blossoming fling.

“So the other night was…” Craig trailed off, a pleased, bashful smile stretching his enticing lips.

Hearing the man reference their make out session made turned his knees to jelly. He looked away and grinned himself. “Yeah, it was… really nice.”

Seemingly breathing a sigh of relief, Craig continued, “I’m just glad we remember it. We were plastered.”

“I know! God knows the last time I got that drunk,” Tweek whined, shamefully rubbing a hand across his face.

The sound of Craig’s goofy laugh attributed to the swelling, terrifying adoration festering within Tweek. He wished he was just ugly or annoying or something, so his follow-up question rendered his legs even more unreliable: “So, in regards to that, I was wondering if you would want to go on a sober date with me soon… Maybe grab some coffee after I get off work tomorrow?”

On top of the offer being way to perfect to turn down, Tweek’s brain refused to produce a single semblance of an idea or excuse to disappoint him. Likely due to that fact that only a very small part of Tweek actually wanted to say no to sipping at his favorite beverage while spending time with Craig Tucker, he failed to concoct himself an out, and instead sputtered, “I—I, yeah! I cannot think of a single reason not to, so…”

“Uh, alright…” Craig replied, detecting the blond’s hesitation, “we don’t have to if you don’t—”

“No, no I do! I do, I’m sorry, I’m just still a little,”—Tweek let out an awkward, two-toned whistle as he circled a finger beside his head, signifying that he was out of it—“I would really like to.”

“Okay,” Craig accepted with a smile. “So, I can pick you up around 3:30, then?”

“Let me pick you up this time!” Tweek practically shouted, though desperate to be the driver for this interaction and obtain some form of control. The knot of anxiety in his stomach told him he desperately needed to back away from Craig before he began to sweat at how uncomfortably he was behaving.

Craig nodded, beginning to turn to go back to his work, “Alright, thanks. I’ll text you my address.”

“Cool! Can’t wait!” Tweek assured him with a thumbs up as he walked away, granting him a warm smile before he went. When Craig was out of earshot, he slapped both hands to his face and grumbled, “Oh, god.”

He slumped back to the paint desk to rejoin Kenny and Token, who were both stifling amused expressions. Token was the first to reveal the source of the humor, “I’m not gonna lie to you, my man, that was rough.”

Tweek’s eyelids split apart, making him look equally as frantic as he felt. “You heard that?!”

“Yeah, babe, you didn’t go very far,” Kenny pointed out, a hint of sympathy in his tone and features. “Do you not wanna go out with Craig or somethin’?”

Tweek grimaced at the notion of trying to express the rush of baffling, overwhelming emotions coursing through him. He stroked his curls harshly, then snapped his arm to his side in a habitual attempt to stop himself from satisfying his anxious tick of pulling out his hair. It had been years since he would rip patches at a time from his skull, and he was quite proud of his training and how his hair had grown back.

“I’m just a little worried about getting into something with someone right before I go back to school. It’s two hours away, and I don’t know if I’m equipped for long-distance relationships.”

“Well, our relationship is still solid,” Token half-teased in an attempt to console him.

Tweek grinned, and then considered Kenny’s take on the matter: “Don’t stress yourself out about it. Enjoy it while it lasts! Who says everything’s gotta end in marriage?”

While the point was valid, it was almost impossible to consider having extended romantic interactions with Craig and not fall madly in love with him; however, his only option was to try, so he supposed he would have to make do with the idea that they would be nothing more than a brief summer romance.

Chapter 18: Daddy Issues

Notes:

sorry this chapter took 8 f*cking years for me to write i'm just truly a piece of sh*t! idk why but this story is harder for me to write now that i'm literally back at menards.... maybe im just reminded how sh*tty it truly is and want better for my boys
at any rate, thank you so much for reads, kudos and comments!

Chapter Text

Craig prided himself on actually remembering to bring a change of clothes with him to work so that he would not have to sit through his first actual date with Tweek in a sweater polo. The shift went by excruciatingly slowly since he was actually looking forward to something other than just the day being over; although, excitement was not the only emotion swimming around his stream of consciousness.

Tweek had been acting a bit strange toward him ever since the party, over text and in person. While he is pretty sure the outcome of the squirrelly behavior, he cannot help but want to try. Tweek is too extraordinary and adorable a person (and good a kisser) to completely abandon the relationship on the basis that he is potentially disinterested.

He did agree to go on this date, after all.

On trekking out to the parking lot, he instantly spotted Tweek’s car idling off to the side. His date had texted him upon arrival, and he did not start truly feeling nerves bubble up in his chest until he saw his blond head bowed.

Craig strode over to the car and tapped on the passenger’s side window, causing Tweek to flinch at the unexpected noise. Laughing to himself, he tugged the door open and slid in. The lowness of the vehicle served as a bitter reminder of his long, lanky legs.

“You f*cking scared me, man!” Tweek huffed as the passenger strapped himself in.

Craig muttered an apology before sending Tweek an amused smirk. “In my defense, that’s pretty easy to do.”

Tweek sent him a playful scowl before taking off and out of the Menards parking lot. The pair allowed a few moments of vaguely uncomfortable silence befall them before Tweek inquired, “So, how was work?”

Craig sighed. “Annoying. Nobody wants to do their job remotely correctly. Besides, shockingly, your department.”

“Shockingly?” Tweek challenged, eyebrow briefly co*cked.

“Obviously not because of you, you’re amazing,” Craig amended, chuckling when Tweek nodded affirmatively. “I’m referring to the general incompetence of your managers.”

“That’s fair.” Tweek agreed with an amused grin. “Where am I going, by the way?”

“Oh, sorry. There’s this place I wanted to take you. I’ll tell you where it is.”

“Oh, okay.”

The aura between the two is far less uncomfortable than Craig had anticipated. As per usual, they easily fell into conversation between Craig spouting directions to the coffee shop just outside of town. It was small and cozy and had really slow service that was made worth it for a delicious cup of coffee. He had started going recently, and he had been meaning to ask Tweek to join him for a while.

“What made you think of this place?” Tweek asked after whipping into the small plot of asphalt allotted to the establishment. He screwed his amber stare up to read the sign.

Craig followed his stare to read Bee’s in bold, white cursive. He shrugged, “You.”

“Me?” Tweek repeated, bemused.

“Yeah, I don’t know… you like coffee. I just always think about you when I come here.” A small smile stretched Tweek’s lips when his eyes flipped back to Craig’s. The contact gave his heart a flutter, as per usual. He returned the grin and asked, “Ready?”

The pair slipped into the establishment together, instantly met by a wall of inviting smells. It helped to encourage the notion that the pastries and coffee were fresh. Craig asked, “Are you hungry, too? They have some good sh*t.”

“I’m okay. You should eat if you are, though!” Tweek suggested, fiddling with the hem of his oversized sweater.

Fighting the urge to pull the adorable man into his arms, Craig he shifted his inner focus on deciding whether or not to get a muffin. While he knew he should eat, he did not feel nearly as hungry as usual—perhaps due to his stomach being preoccupied with all the nerves and butterflies Tweek granted him.

He settled for just a coffee, and while the two were waiting for the beverages they had ordered, Tweek struck up a conversation. “So, how did Tricia take the news about her fiancé?”

“I haven’t told her yet.” He answered.

Tweek threw him a disbelieving look, like he had found a $100 bill on the sidewalk and walked right passed it. “What?!”

“What?” Craig repeated, co*cking an eyebrow.

“Craig, I should not have to tell you that you need to let your little sister know she is about to marry someone who misrepresented his age by ten years,” Tweek exclaimed, gesturing toward him, “You have to let her know she’s being conned!”

Craig snorted, shaking his head. “That’s a bit dramatic. I mean, honestly, maybe she already knows and she doesn’t care. Who am I to stick my nose in their business?”

“Uh—her brother! If she was my sister, she would have found out the other day! Would you want to be with me still if you found out I’m actually a 33 year-old weirdo?”

Though it was not the point of his analogy, the implication made Craig’s heart flutter. He granted the other man a playful grin. “Maybe. You’re really cute.”

Tweek flushed instantly, fighting a smile as he averted his stare and shook his head. “That’s—thank you, but that’s not the point.”

“Here you are,” the unenthusiastic barista announced on handing them their coffees.

They both offered her a thank you before wandering off to find a table. They chose a small, round one just before a window and slumped down across from one another.

Returning to their previous conversation, Craig said, “I get what you’re saying, but it’s not like she’s innocent. I mean, she cheated on him just the other day. With Kenny. Clearly, she has no morals, either.”

After a sip of coffee and a wince, signifying that the temperature is not yet cool enough to enjoy, Tweek replied, “I’m not going to pretend I’m some kind of high moral authority, but I’m pretty sure lying to an 18 year-old about your age and promptly asking her to marry you is way worse and sketchier than cheating.”

Craig gives a nod in recognition as he blows a cool breath into the lid of his paper to-go cup. Tweek continues, “Besides, she’s your little sister. f*ck Skyler, look out for her. Speaking from experience, I think I would have made it through life a hell of a lot easier if I had an older brother—or anyone in my family—looking out for me. A little bit could go a long way.”

It was not often that Craig found himself truly conceding to another’s point, but Tweek certainly made a strong case. It even made him wonder if the emotionally distant relationships he maintains with his family members lead her down this path in the first place. He pushed that thought away, as it made him feel far too guilty.

He deemed it time to switch the subject outwardly as well. “At least you’ve always had Token, right?”

“Yeah,” Tweek confirmed fondly. “He’s my chosen family.”

“Wendy would not shut up about how cute he was after you guys left.” Craig revealed, rolling his eyes at the memory. She had looked him up on Instagram, finding his account through Tweek’s and forcing Craig to view every single picture. The only ones he did not mind seeing where those that featured Tweek.

Tweek perked up at this. “Really?! We should set them up!”

Craig nodded, “It seems like they’d be pretty good together. They’re both nice and not idiots.”

“Honestly, coming from you, that is really high praise.” Tweek said with a chuckle.

“It is,” Craig agreed, locking eyes with the other boy for a moment. His throat started to feel a bit dry under the scrutiny. He felt pressure, but he released his statement anyway, partially to test the water. “plus, Wendy’s always wanted to go on a double date with me. Maybe that could happen now…”

His heart dropped when he watched Tweek swiftly occupy his mouth with his coffee, taking a few long sips that had to have burnt the roof of his mouth. He was a lot of really great things, but subtle was definitely not one of them. The words that followed contradicted his actions, however: “Token would love that, man. A whole dinner’s worth of embarrassing me in front of a guy? Sign him up.”

Feeling some relief, Craig let himself laugh softly and nod. But it quickly became less comforting when Tweek built upon his response, “I’m not really a serious relationship type of person, so he’d be thrilled at the chance.”

“Oh,” was all Craig could think to dumbly say.

Thankfully Tweek was full of words for the moment, at least. “I mean—I have been in relationships before, it’s not like I wouldn’t, I just, don’t ever really have the time for them, you know? Like, long term relationships are so hard with me being away at college and everyone I really know living far away at certain points…”

He was definitely trying to tell Craig something, and he got the message loud and clear. Tweek is not interested in dating him.

While it was obviously a disappointing thing to hear from a guy you really like, he did not expect it to make him feel absolutely hallowed out. An emptiness swept over him like a deep hole hug out of his soul. On top of that, he felt completely dramatic for feeling so shattered by this, but he could not help it.

He pulled off an Oscar-worthy performance throughout the rest of the date, hating how he still managed to enjoy the conversation and time spent in Tweek’s presence. It was almost that he enjoyed it even more knowing he could not have him in any larger capacity. He was a fling at most—a momentary potential notch in his bedpost that would soon be a mere memory. It felt absurdly difficult, especially when they returned to the Menards parking lot beside his sh*tty car, ready to part ways.

Especially when Tweek leaned in to press a kiss to his cheek.

“Thanks for today, Craig,” the blond’s sweet voice accompanied with the gesture was enough to confuse his heart completely, now jumping for joy in his ribcage.

Tweek remained somewhat near him, and his heart raced as their eyes clicked back and forth between one another’s. Every part of him screamed to stop when he felt himself reeling closer, insisting that he would only hurt himself if he allowed things to escalate, but he really did not care. Or, maybe he did care, too much, but there was just something way too magnetic and forceful about Tweek. He had been craving the taste of his lips since he had the privilege of first experiencing it in his drunken stupor.

When their lips crashed together, he almost forgot all the negative emotions he has been plagued with, replaced by the way Tweek kissed back without hesitation. It was confusing and kind of depressing, but it was a really good kiss. Their lips fit together naturally, knowing just what to do with each other and when. They dragged along slowly in perfect sync for a short period before Craig allowed himself to become carried away.

He pulled straight back and opened his eyes to find Tweek’s still shut. When their eyes met again, Craig forced an awkward grin and spouted, “Okay, see you around.”

With that, he climbed out of Tweek’s vehicle and rushed into his own. He cursed himself out under his breath the entire way, and when Tweek’s silver car rolled away from his, he let his forehead fall against the steering wheel, an ashamed sigh escaping his mouth.

_

After an entire ride home going over the situation in his mind, Tweek decided that his kiss with Craig was weird.

It felt great, and he wanted more, but the way Craig essentially ran away right after was concerning to say the least. He felt guilty and wondered if his uncertainty of the nature of their relationship was transparent enough to freak Craig out.

He is sure he was, but what he was going to do about it was lost on him.

When he reached his apartment complex, spirits already relatively low due to the way he left things with Craig, he came across something immeasurably more disheartening on his cellphone.

Two missed calls and voicemail from his dad.

He immediately sucked in his bottom lip and felt fear erupt inside of him. Realistically, he should have expected some kind of communication from his parents when he failed to pay them in a timely manner. Less than a week was incredibly excessive, however, which pandered to Tweek’s emotions of fury toward his parents, replacing the scared feeling.

Taping on the speaker icon, he rose his phone to his ear and for some reason squinted to hear his father’s voice on a prerecorded message. “Tweek, it’s your father. You need to contact me immediately regarding the money you owe me. I understand you may not have it all right now, but I need to know what your plan is for paying me. If I don’t hear from you soon, I’m going to cancel your phoneline and car payment. If I have to, I am not afraid to press charges. Call me back.”

The level of rage he felt was unmatched. No vein in his body was left untouched by the white, hot feeling that coursed through him. He felt like his brain had shut off. His only hope for maintaining sanity was getting inside to confide in Token.

Shaking, he exited his vehicle and trudged up to the apartment. Upon entry, he found his friend sitting at the kitchen table with his Macbook in front of him. Token scrunched his eyebrows together in concern. “You good, man?”

“No,” Tweek snapped through gritted teeth. He cued up the voicemail to play again and handed Token the phone.

Unsure of what to expect, but assuming it was not good, Token let out a short sigh and pressed the ‘play’ button. Tweek watched the other man’s jaw gradually tighten as the horrific excuse for a parent’s message sank in. When finished, he averted his stare up to Tweek. “Is this guy for real?”

“Yes!” Tweek squawked angrily. The grip his phone tightened as he threw his arms up. “He is f*cking insane!”

“How much money do you owe him?” Token asked, shutting his laptop forcefully and standing up.

Tweek could not recall the exact amount detailed in the equally infuriating text message he received a few days prior, “I don’t know—$200 something.”

Rendered confused when Token wordlessly exited the kitchen, Tweek clamped his jaw shut and forced himself to slow his breathing. It was incredibly hard, considering that rage remaining at the surface, boiling his very blood.

“Alright, let’s take care of this.” The other man declared on returning from his bedroom. He grabbed his jacket from their hall closet and slung it over his shoulders.

Tweek narrowed his bemused gaze, “What are you talking about?”

Token extrapolated, “We’re going to the bank and we’re gonna get you the money to pay back your dad. Then, we’re gonna go into Tweek Bro’s and shove it up his ass and tell him to leave you the f*ck alone. Then we’ll get you on a different cellphone plan.”

“I already pay for my own bill! It’s just on his line—ugh, he makes me so f*cking furious—”

“I know, dude, that’s why we’re ending this,” Token interrupted, pulling the door ajar, expression determined. “Let’s go.”

Chapter 19: The Chapter Where People Get Told Off

Chapter Text

“I don’t know about this, dude…” Tweek said for the 98th time in the span of an hour.

First, Token had to fight for five minutes for Tweek to even get in the car, then the ride to the bank consisted of an argument about whether or not he would let Token use his own money on him (they compromised on allowing Tweek to pay him back in time), and finally had to guide him through a 20-minute bout of angry-anxious crying. It took him several more minutes to compose himself after Token pulled onto the curb outside of his family’s coffee shop, on the side of town he had been adamantly avoiding for weeks.

“I can’t do it—”

“Yes you can, and you will,” Token asserted with a stern but sympathetic look. “I’ll be right there with you, but you have to do this. You need to cut these people out of your life for good.”

Though he essentially already had, it seemed so much more daunting. Despite the fact that he wanted nothing more than to be ride of the primary source of emotional anguish and anxiety throughout his entire life, the finality of the matter was terrifying. Knowing what is best for you and doing what is best for you never seem to be equally simple.

“Okay.” Tweek finally agreed with a shaky breath.

“We’re just gonna go in, give him the money, and tell him to leave you alone. We’ll work out the rest as we go. Okay?”

“Okay.” Tweek repeated. He turned abruptly and popped open the door of the car.

That final push to actually vacate the comfort of Token’s vehicle was all he needed to ignite the fire. Though his legs still felt like jelly as he reached the front door of Tweek Bro’s, he did it. Knowing he had Token to back him up was probably the only reason he had any sort of modicum of confidence, but it still counted for something.

The pair of friends were met with an empty counter when they entered. It was so strange every time he returned to the place where he was essentially raised every time he was away for a while. It felt like a bird sinking back into its cage after knowing what its like to spread its wings.

The familiar scent of burnt cinnamon and sickeningly strong coffee invaded his senses and caused a heavy feeling in the base of his stomach. His eyes search for any sign of his parents before finding Token’s focused stare. Just as he receives a comforting half-smile from him, they hear the door to the backroom swing open.

“Tweek?”

His father’s voice made him feel even sicker. Heart palpitating erratically, he sucked in a deep breath to refresh his strained lungs before replying, “Dad.”

Token always thought the two looked essentially identical aside from age and hair color. They even had the same shade of light brown to their eyes. Instead of warm and kind like Tweek’s, however, Richard’s were devoid of emotion.

“I trust you’ve come here with a purpose,” Richard addressed him again with a questioning gaze.

Before Tweek could reply, Token stepped in with a scoff, “What are you, a 90’s cartoon villain?”

Richard screwed his eyes to Token as he trudged toward him. He outstretched his arm, holding out a bank envelope toward the man, “Here’s $300. Leave Tweek alone.”

Tweek breathed a sigh of relief when Token turned back and gently grasped his arm, “Let’s go.”

Just before the pair exited, Richard’s condescending tone put him in a pause: “It’s nice to know after everything you still can’t fight your own battles, son.”

Every muscle of Tweek’s being tensed up. His clenched jaw and blank stare signified to Token the depths of his anger and frustration. The gentle grip on the blond’s arm tightening, continuing to coax him out the door.

Tweek sighed and continued forward, allowing himself to be led back toward Token’s car. He trusted that it was likely the best course of action. But when it came time to open the passenger’s side door and climb in, he hesitated. He threw a glance over his shoulder to scan the shop again.

“You know what? No.” He partially verbalized his thoughts. Perhaps he would have been more articulate if he could place his feelings.

“Tweek, what are you doing?”

Tweek ignored his friend’s concerned inquiry and barreled his way back into the establishment. Richard was where they left him, folding clean rags. He looked up from his task in somewhat surprise to see his child return to his line of sight, sucking in heavy breaths.

“Token was being a really good friend to me, helping me through this, but I want to show you that, no thanks to you whatsoever, I can fight my own battles,” Tweek began, voice raising as he holds his balled fists down at his side, “I have never, ever been your son! I’ve always been a commodity for you to exploit and torture for the sake of this sh*tty ass coffee shop! Not for one day of my entire, miserable life have you ever done a single f*cking thing for me, and I will never let myself be bullied by you again. Take me off your stupid insurance and phone plans. Take your name off my f*cking birth certificate, with my stupid ass name on it. I don’t want a single goddamn thing to do with you ever again.”

Richard has nothing to offer in the way of a verbal reply, but Tweek did not even give him the chance. Chest still heaving, he stomps back toward the entrance, where he saw Token standing in the doorway, dumbfounded. He gave a small smile to his friend before spinning on his heels to bellow back to his dad, “By the way, your coffee tastes like sh*t!”

With that, he raised two middle fingers to Richard and held them high all the way out the door, which was propped open by his friend.

“Dude!” Token exclaimed with a laugh, addressing the wide eyed Tweek. “That was bad ass!”

“I kinda feel like I’m going to throw up, but—” he interrupted himself with a deep sigh of relief. “Thank you, Token.”

“I gotchu, man. Now let’s get the hell out of here.”

Tweek could not agree more and quickly retreated to the car. He watched his parent’s coffee shop gradually disappear with a smile on his lips, feeling like he could finally close the ugliest, longest chapter of his life.

_

“Kenny!” Stan gasped, twisting away from the person who had just grabbed his ass in the middle of the PVC fittings aisle. He smiled despite himself when his eyes fell upon the cute blond chuckling adorably. “You can’t do that here, dude!”

“C’mon, don’t deny me my right to finally do somethin’ about how unfairly hot you look in these stupid uniforms.” Kenny responded with a teasing frown.

“f*ck off.” Stan laughed, shaking his head and lowering the tablet he was using to log out-of-stocks. “What brings you to my turf?”

“Boredom,” Kenny sighed, crossing his arms over his chest. “I don’t even have a part-timer to help me out at nights and I still have nothing to f*ckin’ do by 7 half the time.”

Stan snorted, “Then please, by all means, come join me and my incompetent part-timer for our billions of closing tasks that haven’t been started yet.”

“Well, I can certainly help. What do you want me to do?”

“Uh… just, keep distracting me for now.” Stan said with a grin.

The two had been seeing a lot more of one another in the past couple of days. Ever since they reconnected, they found it difficult to separate. Stan finally felt like himself again. For the first time in his entire existence, he allowed himself to have what he actually, truly wanted—and for the longest time, it had been Kenny.

As they strolled through the even side of plumbing, Stan barely getting any work done, he felt an increasing surge of that joy their relationship had been bringing him. The fact that he could work alongside his love made him very giddy for whatever reason.

Kenny seemed to take notice of his superb mood. “I love to see you like this.”

“Like what?” Stan questioned.

“I don’t know, just… happier.” Kenny replied with a shrug.

Stan peered down the aisle to ensure there were no spectators and reeling in a bit closer to him. He kept his hands to himself, but picked the shorter man apart with his eyes, admiring every curve of his face and imagining the form of his body beneath the baggy, royal blue Menards polo. “Yeah, well, you make me very happy.”

Grinning widely, Kenny fixed his sweet, honey gaze upon Stan’s eyes. His heart is full, and his stomach is slightly queasy. “I really wish I could make out with you right now.”

“Too bad John Menard is watching our every move.” Stan sighed teasingly.

Kenny chuckled and flicked his eyes up to the multiple cameras above their head.
“I dunno about that, but I bet big bucks Gordon is. He will stop at nothing to prevent low-level thievery.”

“He really will.” Stan agreed with a laugh.

“Speakin’ of people watching us, should we tell Kyle about… this?” Kenny inquires, quirking an eyebrow and refraining from running his fingers through Stan’s soft, dark hair.

Stan scrunched his nose in distaste, “Why did you have to phrase it like that?” Kenny let out a goofy chuckle before he continued, “I guess I can tell him tonight, but he’s gonna be all pissy about it.”

“Why would he be pissy about it?” Kenny wondered aloud.

“He’s just… I don’t know.”

“He’s…?” Kenny questioned, the quizzical expression shifting to something more accusatory.

Stan scratched the back of his head and sputtered, “Well, he’s just, uh… kind of against us?” He really wished he could punch himself. Unsure why everything that came out of his mouth had to be stupid or unnecessary, he attempted to amend, “I mean, he just… doesn’t really think we’d be a great… match. For each other. Romantically.”

“When and why did he say this?”

“Uh… well, a couple of times.”

“When and why, Stanley?”

While he really did not want to offer this information in fear of crushing Kenny, he also did not want to begin lying to him. He wetted his lips and explained, “Kyle just told me that you aren’t really… healthy for me? As someone who kind of needs someone who will be, like, dependable?”

Kenny’s jaw began to clench. “I’m not dependable?”

“I didn’t say this!”

“No, just our best friend.”

“Kenny, come on, it’s not like he thinks you’re a bad person, he just told me to be warry because… I don’t know, you’re kind of, like, loose with your body and you smoke a lot and—”

“I’m loose with my body?” Kenny scoffs, tossing a hand up in the air, “What are you, 70 years old?”

“I just mean—”

“When did he tell you this, Stan?”

Stan huffed, his heart now pounding unpleasantly in his chest, “When we first hooked up, I told him about it and he said it wasn’t a good idea. And then, when I was still dating Gary recently, I talked about how I had feelings for you and he just kind of said the same thing. That I’m just… self-destructing.”

They stood there in a short, horrible moment of silence. Stan’s heart started to separate when Kenny’s eyes became glossy.

Kenny must have sensed the tears coming on, began he tore his gaze away and forced a sardonic chuckle. He turned to walk away, but Stan caught his arm, “Dude, Kenny, come on,”

Kenny jerked away and shot him the angriest, hurt glare Stan had ever seen him produce. “Don’t f*ckin’—just—you do realize what the f*ck you just said about me, right? Or are you f*cking stupid?”

“I didn’t say anything! Kyle was the one—”

“Oh, grow up!” Kenny snapped, effectively shutting Stan up. He took a step closer and ranted, “You have put me through so much goddamn sh*t in our lives, and I have always, always forgiven you, been there for you, comforted you, let you bitch, bitched with you… and all this time, you don’t want to be with me because I’m an unreliable slu*t?”

“I never said—”

“Sure, you never said it, but Kyle did, and you agreed. You agreed so much that you didn’t date me because of it.” Kenny interjected.

Stan swallowed hard, desperately searching Kenny’s face for any sort of softness or forgiveness. He found nothing but a hardened scowl. "I mean, for real, dude, I'm sure Kyle could talk you into investing all your money in f*ckin' boogey boards, you're so convinced he's always right. You never even gave me a f*ckin' chance, you just took his word for it that I'm just an asshole, dumbass, redneck heartbreaker who f*cks everything that moves. I'm glad you both think I'd throw away 15 years of friendship to get in your pants a few times."

"Kenny, stop it, just listen to me!"

“No, I don't want to hear anything else. All I have ever done is love you with all my heart, and all you've ever done is make me feel so f*ckin' unworthy. I’m done with you, man. You and Kyle can go to hell.” Kenny said finally, twisting the dagger deep into Stan’s heart.

“Kenny, please,” Stan pleaded, but the man sped off and away. He thought it best to not follow him, at least not right then, but his chest already burned from his absence.

Stan knew he had to find a way to prove to Kenny that he knew none of what was said was true, and if he ever thought it for a second, he was deeply, deeply sorry. He wasn’t sure how he could go about something that seemed so insurmountable, but he knew he could not live without Kenny being his again.

Chapter 20: Break Up, Make Up

Chapter Text

“Attention Menards team members! Craig Tucker to the security room, please! Craig Tucker to the security room, thank you!”

Craig knit his eyebrows together, instinctively looking over his head as if he could see the words ringing through the air from the speakers above. He had never heard that particular radio announcement before. In fact, in the few years he had been at Menards, he had never even been in the security room.

Nonetheless, Craig traced his way down the main aisle, past the registers and to the room beside the front desk that read Loss Prevention/Security. He tapped his knuckles against the door and waited to be invited in.

A few seconds later, one of the loss prevention (or LP) pulled the door ajar for him. Unsure even how, he knew the dark-haired, permanently scowling man as Damien. Every day the dude looked like had crawled straight out of Hell. The other member of the LP team was the complete and utter polar opposite, a chirpy, blond, British boy called Pip. Together they were extremely useless at stopping shoplifters and Craig rarely ever saw or interacted with them. They often flew under his radar considering they were always dressed in casual clothing so as to blend in (or hiding out in the security room).

“Ah, there you are,” the least popular general manager, Gordon, said, ushering him inside the room. “I need to talk to you, Craig.”

It was then his stomach fell. He followed directions, wandering into the room and catching a glimpse at the wall of screens connected to the myriad of security cameras around the store. He is terrified and positive he is going to get fired, though he still has no idea what he could have done to warrant such actions (beside hideout in the shelving department and the mezzanine and play on his phone).

“What’s up?” Craig greeted, attempting to remain calm and nonchalant.

Gordon sat down with a huff. With a glance over his shoulder, Craig sees that Damien is watching intently. The sight horrified him to his core.

“I’ve gotta show you something,” Gordon said, gesturing toward the screen before him. Craig squinted to the screen, feeling even worse when he notices footage of himself beginning to play.

Together they watch a thirty second clip of him counting drill bits. The sinking feeling in his stomach began to subside when Gordon paused the video and granted him a blank stare. “Do you know what you did wrong?”

Craig widened his eyes, glancing between him and the screen. “Uh… no.”

“Let’s watch it again.” They do. Craig became even more confused. “Did you see it that time?”

“Nope.”

Gordon sighed and pointed to the screen, “When you’re doing counts, you need to be pulling merchandise forward. If you would have faced it would have saved me about two hours yesterday.”

Craig blinked at him a few times before saying, “Okay, sorry.”

“It’s alright. We’re done here, you can leave.” Gordon said, standing up as well.

Damien twisted the door open again to let the two men out. Craig stopped to address him before he went off to finish his tasks. “You know, when you pull somebody into the security room and tell them you need to show them something, they usually think they did something horrible and are going to get fired. So… if you could just tell me normally next time I need to do something better, that would be great.”

With that, Craig walked off and shook his head. He swore he would quit soon—or he would actually go insane.

After officially the most annoying thing to happen to him at 8 in the morning, Craig went back to finishing up his tasks in about an hour, leaving him with five hours to pretend that he is still working.

When he is ten minutes into hiding in the bathroom, a message from Tweek forced him to zone back into reality.

t.t. :): Hey craig! Are you at work today? I haven’t seen you

With a deep exhale, Craig swiped the message away—or at least, tried to. He cursed under his breath when he inadvertently tapped the message, taking him to their direct messages.

It had been a few days since he had spoken to Tweek. He really tried to maintain their friendship with the knowledge that there was no way they would be anything more than a potential fling, but he could not cope with it. He felt guilty about ignoring him, but it was the only way to not put himself in a situation that made his heart ache with yearning. He just needed some time to move on and he would be fine.

He also decided it was definitely best for Tweek to be going away for the semester again.

Craig went about the rest of his day avoiding Gordon and Tweek. He avoided the electrical department at all costs and made himself scarce in his usual hiding spots so as to not be discovered. Unfortunately, one spot he knew of that was out of any cameras range was the electrical desk; since that was not an option, he skirted the perimeter of the garden center and “recounted” pallets of wood in the barn that Wendy had already taken care of.

Craig managed two days in a row like this, successfully dodging Tweek and never providing a response to his Instagram message. He was mildly concerned that Kenny would attempt to interfere with the situation as well, but in avoiding Tweek, he often found himself missing Kenny as well.

The curtains came up when Craig decided to take his 15-minute break at precisely the moment Tweek also decided he needed to rest.

“Hey…” Tweek greeted when he turned the corner into the breakroom, finding Craig reclining on a plastic chair.

Craig jumped at the greeting, snapping his head in Tweek’s direction. He flashed a quick, awkward smile and returned with, “Hi.”

Tweek nodded, blond curls bouncing out of place with the movement. Craig watched in awe as he flipped the hairs back into place and walked past him to the vending machines. Craig rolled his eyes to the ceiling and sucked in a deep breath.

After Tweek had procured his orange Gatorade, he traced back to Craig’s side and asked nervously, “Mind if I sit?”

“It’s all yours.” Craig said, gesturing to the empty spot beside him.

The chair scrapped the floor loudly as Tweek pulled it out for himself. He took the weight off of his feet and opened up his beverage, draining a couple sips before returning his attention to Craig and asking, “How have you been doing?”

With a lazy rise and fall of his shoulders, Craig replied, “Okay… how are you?”

“Uh, I’m mostly fine… I—I yelled at my dad.”

The news was unexpected but definitely, beyond welcomed. Craig perked up, “Really? What happened?”

“The asshole called me and during our date and I’m glad I was busy and didn’t pick up or it would have gone much differently, but he basically told me I need to pay him the money I owe him or he’s going to cut off my phone and car—which I already pay for anyways—and f*cking press charges on me,”

“Dude.” Craig scoffed.

“I know,” Tweek agreed with an eyeroll, “but anyways, Token fronted me some cash to give to him so he’d just leave me alone, and he said some nasty comment and I just… went off!”

Craig nodded, genuinely pleased to examine the pride and relief woven into Tweek’s features. It was a good look for the already incredibly attractive individual. “That’s really awesome, Tweek. You should be really proud. That piece of sh*t deserves anything that’s coming to him.”

“Yeah, he does. I just… I feel like I finally know my worth, and it isn’t measured by my sh*tty dad or work or anything, just… me,” Tweek paused a moment to wet his lips before he lifted his enticing stare to meet Craig’s. He breathes in before continuing, “Craig, why have you been avoiding me? I know we aren’t boyfriends or anything, but it’s… kind of sh*tty that you just started ignoring me all of a sudden.”

While Craig figured this topic would be brought up at some point, he was caught off guard by the forwardness of Tweek’s approach. The generally anxious overthinker Craig was accustomed to would sooner send what he had just spoke in a text message and not reply for an hour. He was unsure how to handle it.

“I…” Craig started, trailing off immediately, feeling exposed under Tweek’s scrutiny and that their roles had unfairly reversed on him. He prattled on anyway, “I just… I know you don’t want to—f*ck, I can we please do this later? I’ll text you or we can just—not talk about this right now.”

Craig stood abruptly, panic in his chest as he felt himself snap right back shut as he usually did. Tweek followed his movement and kept those blazing ambers on him, as if willing him to remain planted like a tree at his side. “What did I do wrong, Craig? Please tell me, it’s killing me to not know.”

“I said we can talk about it later, okay?” Craig retorted with finality, swiping up his water bottle.

Tweek’s nose flared slightly as a stubborn expression crossed his face. “Just tell me what I did, man! You can’t just ignore people! Especially after a pretty nice date!”

“Pft, okay, Tweek. I’ll talk to you later.”

“What?!” Tweek called out challengingly, tossing his hands out. “Was it not a nice time? Do you not like me anymore?”

“Of course I f*cking like you, and that is the problem,” Craig snapped, cracking under the pressure Tweek put on him. “You were talking about how you’re not a serious relationship guy and you don’t want a commitment because of college, and I just—I mean, really, uh—what am I supposed to feel about that?”

Tweek huffed in frustration and crossed his previously flailing arms. “I don’t know, man, but you could have at the very least told me to leave you alone!”

“I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t want to do that.”

The two take a pause, feeling as though they were at a stalemate, but looking in those irresistible eyes seemed to provide him answers. He could not handle merely being friends with the man before him—there was too much he wanted from him. Though he desperately wanted things to be different, he realized he needed to either walk away for good or take Tweek in his arms and never let him leave. He wanted all or nothing.

Craig swallowed hard and cast his gaze down, “I just… I’m sorry, I guess I need you to leave me alone. I… You don’t want a relationship and I respect why, but if we stay friends, you’re asking me to not fall in love with you and there is just no way that I can do that.”

The fight had apparently left Tweek, as he stood before him with parted lips and no words. Craig granted him a final, saddened smile before turning and rushing away, down the stairs and back onto the sales floor. On his way to clock in, he thought he would feel relief at the resolved situation with Tweek; instead, he felt more dread than ever before at the prospect of never speaking to him again.

_

Kenny found himself smoking significantly more in the past few days. Ordinarily he never smokes more than half a pack—ten cigarettes—a day. In his pretty consistent routine of taking smoke breaks and lighting up on his way home, he is careful not to smoke more than one at a time. It always made him feel lightheaded and queasy, even after several years of nicotine addiction.

The night he told Stan he was done with him, he smoked four just on the way home.

Granted, he took the long way, but it was still far too short a trip to be breathing in that much tainted air. He did not even let himself stop to think about the further damage he was inflicting upon himself with the increased inhalation. He just smoked. It helped him at least somewhat get his mind off of the mental agony he endured, yet again having Stan slip through his fingertips.

Kenny was on his second cigarette of his break, allowing himself to enjoy the no-jacket temperature outside despite how sh*tty he felt. The plastic bench outside the garden center he frequented was warm from absorption of the sun’s rays, and it felt strangely really comforting to rest his legs on. It felt strange being out here alone, but for then, very necessary; and thankfully Stan was decent enough to allow him the solitude.

Kyle, on the other hand, was not.

Kenny did not recognize the other man approaching until he was within earshot. He immediately tensed up at the sight of the redhead, shifting into a more guarded position as he took a drag on his cigarette and offered him a humorless expression.

“Hey, dude.” Kyle began in an eerie tone. Kenny could not discern whether or not it sounded sincere. “Can we talk?”

“I would honestly prefer we didn’t, but it’s a free country, I can’t stop ya.” Kenny shot back, turning his head to again face forward as he scooted aside to make room.

Kyle accepted the freed space and let out a small grunt as he hopped up on the bench beside him. Kenny felt eyes on him but refused to meet the gaze—or put out his cigarette as he ordinarily would in respect for Kyle’s disdain of the smell.

“Look, I get why you’re pissed at me, but could you just, please stop taking it out on Stan? He’s absolutely miserable right now because of everything that’s going on, and I think if you just heard him out you would—” Kyle stopped mid-spiel as Kenny began to snicker. He frowned, “What?”

Amusem*nt curled Kenny’s lips at the ridiculous attempt at an apology. He shook his head. “Please f*ck off.”

“Okay, what the hell is your problem, man?” Kyle asserted, standing up to face the angry blond. It was rare to see the generally laid-back individual in such a rigid state.

Not missing a beat, Kenny gestured toward him with the cigarette still burning between his fingers, “You’re my f*ckin’ problem, man. You convinced Stan not to be with me ‘cause I’m some wild, flighty prostitute.”

“I never said you were a prostitute!”

“slu*t, whor*—whatever! You made him think that I wouldn’t be good for him ‘cause I’m not a good person.”

Kyle groaned, “Dude, I never said you weren’t a good person! I never meant it to be anything bad about you! You do sleep around a lot more than me or Stan, but I never said you were a slu*t! Even if you were, that doesn’t make you a bad person! Stan asked for my advice on what to do about his feelings for you, and each time he was either with Gary or he had just broken up with Gary. I thought he was self-sabotaging because he was afraid to have a good thing with Gary. I didn’t know he actually had feelings for you! I didn’t know you had feelings for him!”

The rationale not being as stupid and offensive as he assumed it would be frustrated him further. He grit his teeth and looked away, and replied, “I don’t know why the f*ck you can’t just talk to me about it. You knew I slept with him a while back, and you never even thought to ask me how I felt about it!”

Kyle threw a gesture at him, exasperated, “You have sex with people a lot, Kenny! You have one-night stands and run-ins at parties! I didn’t think anything of it! Why didn’t you just tell me that you love Stan?!”

“Because you’re so damn judgmental! I mean, sh*t, Stan came to you for relationship advice about us and you turned it into a goddamn psych evaluation! Sometimes all you have to say is do what makes you happy, man—you don’t always have to give a f*ckin’ sermon that includes how I’m unreliable because I like to have sex!”

“Well at least you can have sex!” Kyle exploded out of nowhere. When he quickly looked around them to determine that nobody heard him, Kyle detected the beginning of tears in his eyes. His throat suddenly felt dry when his friend expanded upon his statement, “You comfortable with sex, you can just—just do it and be fine, I can’t, Kenny, okay?! So many I’m not judging you, maybe I’m jealous!”

Kenny officially deflated when he saw tears streaming down Kyle’s face. He swiftly wiped the moisture away with the back of his hand and looked away. The blond’s voice was much softer when he posed, “Why do you mean, Ky? You’re just not into it?”

“No, I’m—I mean, yeah, I just… It makes me feel so weird, and—and I tried with Heidi and I just… god, it’s so f*cking embarrassing.”

Kenny winced when his forgotten cigarette burnt down to where the paper met his skin. He tossed it aside and pushed himself upright, approaching the redhead with open arms. Despite his previous determination to completely abandon their relationship and find a new angry mom friend to keep him in check, he felt his love for his friend and desire to help him rush back to him. He wrapped Kyle up in a hug and let the man weep softly against his shoulder.

“It’s okay, Kyle. You don’t have to be embarrassed or do anything you don’t want to do.” Kenny assured him, patting him comfortingly on the back.

“I’m so, so sorry for what I said about you, Kenny,” Kyle choked out to his surprise. The sentiment made him squeeze a bit harder. “I swear I never meant it to sound like I don’t think you’re a good person. You’re the best person I know. I—I wish I was more like you.”

Kenny reeled back to scrutinize Kyle’s state. He looked absolutely disheartened and red. His puffy eyes held a pain that Kenny did not know but intended to find out. He offered him a grin and raised a hand to wipe his cheek. “You don’t need to be like me, Kyle. You’re the best. I think we just… need to talk way more. What do ya think?”

Kyle nodded his head, a small smile dashing across his lips. “Yeah, I think we do.”

They sat together for the remainder of their lunch breaks and promised to reconnect after work. They made dinner plans over text and for the first time in his life, Kenny felt closer to Kyle than anyone—even Stan.

Chapter 21: What a Beautiful Place I Have Found In This Face

Chapter Text

“Hulk smash!”

“AH! Don’t eat me, Hulk!”

“I not eat you—I smash!”

“AH! Don’t smash me, Hulk! I’m gonna fly away!”

“You not fly, you Iron Man!”

Kenny took a moment to break character and explain, “Iron Man flies, buddy. That’s the main reason he’s so powerful.”

His nephew blinked at him a few times before scrunching his eyebrows again, putting on the deep voice he used for Hulk, “Iron Man fly away now!”

“There ya go,” Kenny chuckled, lifting the plastic action figure from the carpet, imitating the wiring sound of the superhero’s take off.

Peter set down his Hulk toy and reached behind him, grabbing a different character by the cape and holding it out for his uncle, “Kenny, play your Batman.”

Kenny co*cked an eyebrow, “Dude, Batman is in a completely different franchise. He would never fight these guys.”

“Um… Play your Batman!” Peter repeated, clearly not comprehending Kenny’s correction.

“Can I be Hulk now?”

“No, you not be Hulk now! You Batman!”

“Ugh—what about Spider-Man?”

“Okay!”

Peter again reached behind him, grabbing Marvel’s most popular hero and handing it to Kenny. The two continued pretending to have senseless interactions before Kenny found himself needing a break from the sound effects and different voices. He said, “Did you know you’re named after Spider-Man?”

Peter peered up at him with large, innocent brown eyes that matched the rest of his family. “Spider-Man is, um… My-ool Morawas.”

Kenny stifled a laugh at the butchered pronunciation of Miles Morales—ironically Peter’s favorite interpretation of Spider-Man—and shook his head. “This red and blue one is Peter Parker! That’s who you were named after ‘cause your daddy is a big ole nerd. Don’t let him lie to you and say we have a Grandpa Peter.”

Kenny winced at a sudden pressure against the back of his head, turning quickly to find his older brother had kicked him. He set him an annoyed smirk and rubbed his skull as he continued to the sofa and addressed his son, “Don’t let your sh*thead uncle lie to you, either. Daddy lost a coin toss and you were named after Pete Davidson ‘cause mommy’s got a crush.”

Peter shrieked with laughter, “Kenny is sh*thead.”

Kenny rolled his eyes up to his bother and tossed an arm up, “Mamaw is not going to like that new phrase her baby boy learned.”

Kevin scoffed, popping a straw into a juice box for Peter, who darted up to claim it when he saw it. “Don’t squeeze.”

“Now, don’t squeeze,” Peter repeated, and Kenny dreaded the outcome of the exchange that was generally a juice-moistened shirt.

It was surprisingly successful, and while Peter was rendered occupied with his beverage, Kenny pulled himself upright. A timer in his brain told him he was almost due for a nicotine fix. He reached into the thigh pocket of his work pants to obtain his nearly finished pack of cigarettes to determine whether or not he should go to the store for more.

“Uh-uh, dude, no more smoking in the house, remember?” Kevin asserted, reaching a leg out to toe the back of Kenny’s head again. This time the younger boy managed to grab the man’s ankle and shot him a playful glare when he dug his fingernails into his skin. Kevin barked a laugh and twisted his leg away from the contact, “Ow, you little sh*t,”

Kenny chuckled and shook his head, “I’m not smoking in here, I’m just seein’ how much I got left in this pack.”

Kevin glanced into the red carton to see only three cigarettes remaining. “Jesus, dude, didn’t you just buy two packs yesterday?”

It was the concerning truth of the situation. Kenny merely nodded in response and flipped the lid closed, deciding to fight off his urge a bit longer. His brother continued, “What are you smokin’ like a freight train for?”

The blond shrugged, “I dunno, I’m just stressed out, I guess.”

“What in the world do you got to be stressed out about? You work at Menards and you live with your mom for $150 a month.”

“You also live with your mom for $150 a month, dickhe*d,” Kenny reminded him, and perked his head toward Peter, “just ‘cause I know how to pull out doesn’t mean I don’t have stressful sh*t going on.”

This earned Kenny a third blow to his head from Kevin’s foot. Kenny laughed despite the abuse and stood up, slinking into the kitchen for a drink or snack to occupy his mouth instead of a cigarette.

Halfway through his peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Karen wondered into the kitchen with a look of bemusem*nt. She pointed a thumb in the direction of where she had come and asked, “Hey, any particular reason Stan is outside your window playing guitar?”

That was the absolute last thing in the entire world he would have guessed she would say (is that your wet towel on the floor of the bathroom was more of what he was expecting). He set his snack down on the counter and wiped the stickiness from the corners of his mouth, “What the hell are you talking about?”

“C’mon,” she urged, turning to lead him back down the hallway.

Kenny’s heart began to thump harshly in his chest as he fell in line behind her. The statement could really only mean one thing; Stan was outside his window playing guitar. The growing sounds of strumming and singing confirmed Karen’s revelation as they turned into Kenny’s bedroom, where he had left the window beside his bed ajar.

“What a curious life they have found here tonight, there is music that sounds from the street,”

Kenny leaned down against his mattress to find the source of the sound. Stan was standing in the side yard, guitar resting on his shoulder as he sang and strummed. He watched a smile spread his lips as he continued to recite the familiar words.

“There are lights in the cloud, Anna’s ghost all around, hear her voice as it’s rolling and ringing—soft and sweet,”

Snapping his head back to Karen, disbelief coating his face, he asked, “How long has he been out here?”

Karen shrugged, leaning against the doorframe. “I just started hearing it from my room a little bit ago. I’m… kind of trying to do homework, so…”

Kenny received the message, but he admittedly had no desire to put an end to the gentle crooning meant for him. He wanted to let rage envelope his being at the sight of his love that had repeatedly stepped on his heart, but as always, he fell victim to his charm.

“Now how I remember you, how I would push my fingers through your mouth to make those muscles move, that made your voice so smooth and sweet,”

While he did not in the slightest understand Neutral Milk Hotel’s words, they made his chest swell with sentimental feelings. Many memories of the two humming along to this song, laughing, hugging or kissing as it sounded in the background of their interactions. He despised how f*cking easy it was for Stan to crawl back under his skin and force a joyous grin across his pierced lips. He even laughed when Stan recited the part of the song Kenny could for some reason never get right just the way he always misspoke it.

“What a beautiful place, I have found in this face, that is circling all ‘round the sun,”

Kenny finally let that smile take over his face as he listened to the remainder of the song. So much was going through his head, but he knew he would be forced outside to address the man solely for the sake of silence for Karen.

“Stay right there.” Kenny told him through the window before pulling it shut. He turned toward his sister, who wore a knowing smile. He rolled his eyes at her as she strolled away back into her bedroom and Kenny searched his space for jacket. Settling on a semi-clean orange hoodie, he threw it on and sped outside to meet Stan around the back. Thankfully his smoking habit made it though his abrupt departure was not questioned.

He rounded the building to find Stan waiting patiently, resting his arms on his guitar. The bright blue of his eyes was exaggerated by a flood light shining directly on him, aided by the turquoise color of his shirt. Maybe if he wasn’t this f*cking beautiful Kenny would have settled for just closing the window.

He would not let him off easy, though. Kenny deserved some good ole fashioned groveling.

“Hey, Ken.” Stan started, relieved at the other mans’ arrival. He drew closer to Kenny and wetted his lips. “Can I… can we talk about everything?”

Pausing to search his face, finding sincerity and determination, Kenny nodded wordlessly. Stan took in a breath and pulled the guitar from his shoulder, setting his down inside the case that was beside him. He took another step forward and did his best to maintain eye contact, though he was visibly nervous.

“Look, I’m not gonna sit here and do what I usually do and just drone on about how f*cking bad I am at being a person and how there’s something bad inside of me that wants to destroy everything, because you already know that,” Stan began, lifting his hands from his sides to lace his fingers together. “the only reason I bring it up now is because I just have to tell you how much of a better person you make me.”

Kenny was somewhat surprised by the introduction, which did part from Stan’s usual style of apology where he essentially laid out all of the reasons why he was so sh*tty until you couldn’t take it anymore.

“Kenny, you are and always have been the best thing to ever happen to me. Without you, I really believe I would be dead. You’ve talked me down from the ledge so many times whether you knew it or not. You always know when I really need someone and what I need, whether it’s just to talk and laugh and get my mind off of it or to talk and cry and feel it. Nobody gets me or cares like you do. Nobody loves like you. You’re… the most unique and amazing kind of lover there is. You just—you give everything to everybody even when you get nothing in return. But that stops now,” Stan spoke the final sentence with finality.

Kenn’s heart sped up again when Stan finally closed the gap between them and carefully grasped his hands. He melted at the gentle swiping of his thumbs against his skin. “I know I don’t deserve another chance with you, but if you give it to me, I swear to god, I will spend every single day of the rest of our lives doing everything I can to remind you how f*cking incredible you are. I would do anything to prove how much I love you. I want us to be together more than anything, and nobody could ever change my mind of that. I am so, so sorry for how I’ve hurt you, and I just… I want to make it up to you every day. I love you so, so much, Kenny.”

“Stan, you know I love you—”

“There’s more,” Stan interrupted, though the continuation made that anxious energy return. “I talked to Kyle, and he’s going back to school in the fall to try and finish that class he kept failing and get his degree. We already renewed our lease, but he said he’s looking into dorms, and I—I really want you to move in with me.”

Kenny’s eyes enlarged, not done being completely surprised by the man’s increasingly bold actions and suggestions. He let Stan keep going, “I know it’s a big step, but I want to take it with you. I need you to know just how serious I am about you and how I need you and love you. I want to be all in with you.”

Kenny’s continued speechlessness after Stan had stopped talking made him a bit antsy. He waited a moment, gazing into Kenny’s eyes to search for a response before beginning again, “I understand if that’s too much for you—”

Stan was cut off by arms around his neck and lips against his. A breath of relief was released through his nose and he wrapped Kenny’s middle in a tight embrace and kissed him back with everything in him.

It felt like a piece of his soul was returned to him, and the weight of his sorrows washed away with every squeeze of Stan’s fingers against him and each slow movement of their lips. It does not make things perfect or change the past, but it feels so good to be back in those comforting arms—it’s all he has ever wanted.

“Y’know, if I move in with you… I guess I really will have found a beautiful place in this face.” Kenny whispered after they withdrew to catch their breath.

Stan’s eyes shot open to grant Kenny an amused smirk. He laughed along with the blond while rubbing the small of his back gently, “I feel like I know what you’re trying to say but it just… doesn’t make sense, baby.”

“Yeah, sure, whatever,” Kenny chuckled into another passionate kiss on the lips. When they pulled away this time, they just held one another in a tight embrace, taking in the relief and joy of being in one another’s presence again. After a few moments, Kenny leaned up to press his lips to the shell of Stan’s each and whispered, “You wanna go back to our apartment and re-consummate this relationship?”

Stan drew away from him again with a wide smile, “You’re gonna move in?”

“Hell yeah,” Kenny assured. “I’m sure Leah and Kevin wouldn’t mind not having a two-year-old sleeping in their room anymore. Plus, of course I wanna live with you—you and Kyle, even. I love you.”

“I love you so much.” Stan sighed happily and stole another kiss on the lip, then roamed Kenny’s face, scattering kisses across his cheeks, nose, and forehead. Kenny chuckled happily at the assault and crinkled his nose. Never had either one of them felt so full and content.

Stan collected his belongings and lead Kenny out to his vehicle. They played their song the whole way to their apartment, singing and laughing and holding hands and wondering why they ever let themselves part from each other.

_

The summer days seemed to drag by longer than ever for Craig. Of course, they were simply longer in length due to the rotation of the sun, but they just took forever to get through, and all the effort he had.

By August, the heat had also reached it’s peak, forcing him to wear shorts to work on days he had to do counts outside so he would not have to walk around with a sweaty ass all day. He felt absolutely ridiculous in them, however, especially inside.

Toward the end of the day, he was scheduled to audit electricals mega racks, which was something he was much less eager to do early in the day. It was a pretty successful tactic in avoiding Tweek, who was always out of work by noon.

Avoiding Tweek sucked, and barely got any easier, but Craig was managing. It wasn’t like he was dating or trying that hard to move on, but there really wasn’t much to move on from. He went on one date with the guy and kissed him a couple of times. That was hardly a relationship—which is exactly what Tweek did not want.

Despite the logic of the situation, if he were being honest with himself, it did feel like a lot to move on from. Nothing was established, but they chatted every day through text and had a lot of really pleasant conversations in person. When they kissed the world stopped turning for them. When they touched Craig felt himself come to life for the first time in his monotonous life. It felt like he had lost the chance to really feel something.

It especially felt this way when he found a message sent to him from Tweek.

t.t. :): Hey, Craig I’m sorry to bother you but I told everyone else this so I just thought id tell you that I’m left for school already and I didn’t get to finish my two week notice at work because the college scheduled our move-in earlier than I thought. Sorry to bother you again I just wanted to say thanks for helping me out at work and being a good friend, I hope I see u again someday :)

Craig read and reread the text, heart falling harder and faster with each reconsideration. Just like that, he was gone. Out of Craig’s life and hours away in college. He might as well have been launched to another planet and secluded from Craig’s orbit for eternity.

“Hey, Craig,” a voice distracted him from his downward spiral. He lifted his head to find Stan, out of uniform and holding two iced coffees. He looked concerned. “Are you okay, dude?”

“I’m—When did Tweek leave?” Craig sputtered, turning toward Stan with the most hurt expression he had ever let his pseudo acquaintance see him wear.

Stan frowned and informed him, “A few days ago, I think. His last day was Monday.”

“f*ck,” Craig huffed, pushing his fingers through his dark hair. Regret and yearning washed over him like a tidal wave, easily overcoming him considering his complete lack of prepare to be so affected.

“I’m sorry, dude. I thought he would have told you…” Stan trailed off.

Craig scoffed and shook his head. “Why would he, I told him to leave me alone.”

Craig returned his attention back to the message just to torture himself a little more. He felt a strong surge of self-hatred move through him as he continued to try and process the outcome of his actions. To his surprise, Stan addressed him again in a tone lowered to avoid being heard by guests. “It’s not really any of my business but… I though you two would have been awesome together. You both just really seemed to bring spark out of each other,” he paused, gauging Craig’s reaction to see if it would be prudent to continue or not, “Take it from a guy who took years to figure things out with Kenny when he was just right in front of me; time is precious, and you won’t ever get a second back. So, make sure what you’re doing is worth it. If you decide it isn’t… it’s also never too late.”

With that Stan grinned and continued on his journey to the electrical desk, where he found his boyfriend. Craig watched from where Stan left him as the two shared a quick, happy kiss and delved right into conversation as Kenny took sips of the beverage Stan had brought him.

Craig smiled faintly, imagining that could be him and Tweek. The surprisingly spot on advice set something off inside of him, and his depressed longing transformed into determination.

He swiped out of his Instagram app and tapped on Google Maps—and then typed in University of Colorado Boulder.

Chapter 22: Something Great

Notes:

wow I cannot f*ckin believe i am done with this fic!! thank you so much for all the comments, reads, kudos, and love this story has gotten, it means the world to me! thanks to all my friends for supporting me through it as well!
Also, this chapter has SMUT just warning yall

Chapter Text

Returning to college felt incredibly different to Tweek this time. Not only did the remembrance that it was of one of his final semesters bring a strange thrill to him whenever he recalled the fact, but he also feltrefreshed—like he had had an actualbreakinstead of killing himself at his parents’ coffee shop (or having to interact with them on a consistent basis).

Ever since he stood up to his father, the subsequent financial responsibilities were annoying (getting on his own cellphone plan was a social anxietynightmare) and the pressure was on to find a higher paying job in Boulder in order to affordanything. But he definitely, without a shadow of a doubt preferred it like this. He was not suffocated by the looming emotional abuse and physical exploitation his parents subject him to growing up and he was undeniably better for it; he was happier and healthier. He even agreed to meet up with some fellow psych majors he interacted with in the classes that pertained to their major. He was awkward and nervous the whole time, but hedidit.

After a walk around campus, he decided to start his eighth viewing ofNew Girlwhile relaxing in his on-campus apartment.He was assigned a roommate, but they had yet to move in despite the deadline for seniors being passed by a few days. They moved the students into housing in waves so as to minimize commotion—which meant he did not have to deal with oddly comfortable freshmen students popping up all over the place just yet.

When he reached episode 3 of his show and Netflix asked if he was still watching, it pulled him out of his stupor. He played the next episode and sat himself upright, reaching out for the phone beneath him that he thought he felt vibrate a few minutes ago.

It had. And the message was from Craig.

spacekid1215: Hey Tweek, whats your dorm called?

His eyes widened. His first thought waswhy, but his insides did not care about the context of the message and instead rejoiced at the acknowledgment from Craig, who he had recently resolved to move on and forget about after being cut off from him. It made him feel empty and sad, but he did not want to put Craig through the trouble of dating him just for him to leave and break up.

Besides, Craig had done more for him than any romantic prospect ever had; showed him he was worthy of being loved. So much so that it was easier to walk away for him.

t.t. :): I live in the apartments behind campus... why?

spacekid1215: Whats your address

t.t. :): Are you going to murder me?

spacekid1215: Well see

Tweek remained pretty confused, but he typed out his address anyway. He watched for a few minutes for a reply from Craig, and guessed that perhaps he wanted to send him something when he did not answer. He felt a bit disappointed with the random non-conversation being his first he heard from the other man in weeks, but did his best to not let it bother him.

He had never been very good at that not dwelling, though.

His heart picked up again when he heard his phone vibrate again. It did so continuously, indicating a phone call. He lifted the device to see Craig’s name, trying to reach him on Instagram.

Vaguely confused by his first Instagram call, he swiped to answer. When he did so, he saw the roof of Craig’s vehicle and his face in a small screen on the side.

“Hey,” Craig’s voice sounded, tinny from the connection. “So, I can’t find your building because I guess I’m... blind or something. Would you mind coming out?”

Tweek’s heart stopped completely at the request. On instinct, he peered out the window and spouted, “What?! You’rehere?”

“Almost.”

“Uh... ye-yeah! I’ll be right down!”

“Thanks, see you in a second.”

With that, the call ended and Tweek’s head was spinning. He let a grin dart across his lips as he flipped off the television, threw a beanie on over his wild hair, and jumped into his shoes.He wracked his brain for a point in time where he invited Craig to visit him at the campus as he vacated the unit and rushed down the stairs. The fearful element of his brain insisted that it was just some dream or practical joke, but if seeing Craig again was a possible outcome, he was willing to take that risk.

When he stepped out into the bright light from the shelter of the complex building, he felt flustered and exposed. He squinted to combat the sun’s assault as he gazed pasted the row of cars before him, searching for an essentially totaled PT Cruiser. He crossed his arms over his chest and traced down the concrete walkway in pursuit. He tried to tame his erratically thumping heart in the meantime.

“Hey,”

Tweek swiftly whirled around at the greeting. Stood a few paces behind him was Craig Tucker, still clad in a light grey collared shirt from work. The sight caused him to officially lose the battle against containing the pounding in his chest.

The dark-haired man approached him slowly, uncertainty woven into his handsome features as he granted Tweek an explanation for his sudden appearance, “I’m sorry if I freaked you out or anything… I had this plan that I was going to drive here and go up to your dorm and knock on the door and be waiting for you outside and it was going to be a lot less weird, but I realized I have no earthly idea where you’re staying, so I had to kind of… kill the moment.”

Tweek had to laugh a little at the revelation as he unconsciously came closer to Craig, as if by a magnetic force. Each step felt like walking on a cloud leading toward something great. He sputtered, “I—I just… what are you doing here?”

It was the only utterance he could conduct under the circ*mstances, and he hoped it did not come across as unappreciative. That did not seem to be the case when Craig spoke again, brown eyes deep and blazing straight through Tweek. “I wanted to show you that I can do this.”

The rush of emotions only intensified when Craig reached out to gently cup Tweek’s hand. Their longing gazes remained connected and Tweek could tell he was equally nervous as he continued, “I know you’re worried about this distance, so I had to show you that you’re so worth the trip. I would come here at the drop of a hat for you. I would drive further if it meant you would give me a chance to keep proving it to you.”

A broad smile overtook Tweek’s face, and his heart clenched even more when Craig mirrored the expression. He attempted to force himself back into a display of neutrality, but he could not contain it, even when putting up a fight against Craig’s offer, “Craig, it’s—it’s two and a half hours away! You say you would, but you can’t always just come here at the drop of a hat. It’s too hard and—and we haven’t even talked in weeks, and we haven’t even known each other that long, and I…”

“If you want me to go away, I’ll leave,” Craig promised in a solemn tone. His face held all the seriousness and kindness of his sentiment as he reeled in closer, hand still clasping Tweek’s embarrassingly sweaty one, “but if there’s any part of you that wants to give us a try… kiss me.”

Tweek could not comprehend how the man made the choice seem so simple. All of the problems and minutia of their dilemma that always seemed so clear in his head dissolved one-by-one as he considered the gesture Craig extended coming all the way to see him, the defiant look in his eye, and the remembrance of the other-worldly feeling he received each time they had kissed. Suddenly the choice was simple.

Though he remained unpracticed at being bold, Tweek took the leap and raised both hands to cup Craig’s cheeks. He leaned in and while guiding Craig downward toward him until their noses bumped and their lips connected, Craig's stubble ticking his skin.

Tweek allowed himself to fall backwards into the bliss and comfort of Craig’s kiss and touch. The sensation was unmatched, even compared to the kisses they had previously shared. This one felt not only passionate, but also rewarding—like it was establishing something. Like they were two stars aligning to their proper position in the sky, fueling one another, and shining brighter because of it.

Craig’s hands resting on Tweek’s biceps made him feel secure, officially erasing his previous uncertainties as their lips parted and glided in sync. He did not even care that a neighbor might see—pushing the thought to the back of his mind and enjoying the defining moment in their confusing, whirlwind romance.

Despite his disregard for the negative possibilities the kiss indicated, it came to a natural end moments later. The pair withdrew to catch their breath, but remained close, breathing into one another. Tweek had never felt more whole, and that grin he tried to ward off won the battle.

“God, you’re so f*cking cute.” Craig commented just before Tweek opened his eyes to witness the blissful smirk curling his soft lips.

The blond felt himself flush and allowed himself to smooth his thumbs against the pink tinge splayed across Craig’s cheekbones. He replied, “You’re perfect.”

The compliment earned him a wider smile and another chaste kiss that felt equally amazing despite their stretched lips. After the second term of endearment, they collapsed against one another in a long, strong hug.

“I’m so glad you came,” Tweek sighed against the Craig’s neck, pressing his lips to the exposed skin.

“Me too…I’m sorry for everything,” Craig whispered, softly rubbing Tweek’s back. “Even when you left me alone, I couldn’t help but fall for you.”

The sentiment warmed Tweek’s insides further as he withdrew from Craig’s embrace. His smile fell a bit when he said, “I’m sorry I wouldn’t let myself fall for you. It’s just… the distance and everything that was going on made it seem impossible for us to be together. But if you’re willing to try, I—I think I’d really like to.”

“You don’t have to apologize, Tweek, but I’m so happy you changed your mind.”

With that they locked lips again before a recollection made Tweek pull back. “Didn’t you come here straight from work?”

Craig nodded in confirmation. “Yeah. It wasn’t that bad of a drive, honestly.”

Tweek frowned, “Aren’t you tired, though?”

“That’s neither here nor there, dude, I’m always tired.” Craig assured with a teasing smile.

Tweek rolled his eyes, grinning anyways, “Well, aren’t you hungry?”

Craig made a face that indicated he was not thinking about it. He nodded, “I guess I could eat.”

“You wanna go somewhere or… do you wanna come inside and order a pizza?”

Either way, the two began backtracking down the pavement toward the entrance to where Tweek was staying to avoid a group of students getting out of a car and heading inside the adjacent building. After considering more time in his car with distaste, Craig posed a qualifying question: “Is your roommate not home?”

Tweek shook his head, “Don’t have one yet.”

“Really?” Craig hummed, then shrugged. “Pizza does sound pretty good.”

“Yeah, he just hasn’t shown up yet. It’s kinda weird, I hope he didn’t get murdered or something… but yeah, that sounds good!”

As Tweek led the way, Craig chuckled, “Why is that where your mind immediately goes?”

While holding the door open for Craig to slip through, the blond sent him an affronted look. “It’s a scary world we live in, man! People die and get kidnapped every day!”

“That doesn’t mean it will happen to everyone around you. Or you.”

“But it could!” Tweek scoffed, ascending the steps before Craig to bring him to the correct unit. “You can never be too careful. And growing up in South Park, you need to be ready for anything.”

“Was it really that bad?” Craig inquired as he stepped through another threshold via Tweek’s invitation.

The apartment was tiny, but clear and well-lit. It was the least expensive floor plan Tweek could find, and he truly hoped that the roommate would show up soon in fear that he would be stuck with the full bill for rent (though it was built into tuition). Thankfully, the place also came furnished, which was astronomically helpful as he did not have to scrounge on eBay and thrift shops for spare, cheap chairs and tables and a bed.

Tweek secured the door and turned toward Craig, still in a state of disbelief at what was happening. Though he had daydreamed here and there about a moment just like it, it was difficult to grasp. But he wanted to make sure he enjoyed every millisecond of it before they were separated by geography and time again.

He sighed, “It was pretty traumatizing.”

Craig let out another soft laugh as he joined Tweek on the couch. Their gazes met again, now shielded from the outside world and free to stay locked as long as they pleased. While there was definitely some reacquainting that needed to occur, they fell quite seamlessly into a groove with one another, almost as if they had never parted. They spent the night catching up on the latest Menards drama and all other topics that made them laugh and angry and confused. To have Craig by his side, able to steal a kiss at any point felt simultaneously natural and exhilarating. Though there are sure to be bumps in the road in terms of their distance, he felt ready to put his trust and love into Craig.

And for the first time, he felt worthy of someone else’s trust and love as well.

_

“For f*ck sake, dude.” Craig grumbled to the massive line of cars impeding his travel that could not hear him. Of course, traffic was particularly horrific the day he had limited time to begin with.

Craig had skipped his thirty-minute break to drive up and spend an hour or so with Tweek before his 6:00P.M. class. He had been extremely busy with midterms, his internship, and work and unable to meet up for two weeks. Craig was craving time with him and promised he would be able to make it before he was off to his night class. With a glance at the clock that read 5:07P.M. with over a half-hour drive to go, it did not look like that was going to happen.

For this reason, he pulled up Tweek’s number and pressed the phone to his ear.

“Hey!” Tweek greeted chirpily. “You here?”

“Not even close. I’m sorry, honey, I’m not going to make it in time.”

Craig could hear Tweek deflating. A frown traced his face as he started to apologize, but his boyfriend beat him to the punch, “No, I’m sorry you came all the way for nothing! Do you want me to skip my class?”

“No, not at all. You said you guys are doing test prep today.”

“I’ll just fail!”

Craig snorted, “Yes, an added stressor like that would do wonders for your anxiety.”

Tweek chuckled softly, finishing the sound with a soft sigh. “I miss you.”

“I miss you. Will you talk to me until you have to leave?”

“Of course I will! I have to tell you about this project, it’s giving me grey hair.”

Craig happily listened to his boyfriend rant for a good 45-minutes as he found an exit to turn around at and headed back to South Park. After the call, he wound a drive thru and inhaled his food, not having eaten since breakfast. As soon as he finally got home, he collapsed against his sofa and let out a loud, dramatic groan. He felt completely drained and disappointed that the entire day was wasted, and he did not even get to see Tweek.

They had been doing this for two months then, and it is definitely as difficult as they say, but it is also worth it. Craig theorized that the distance did not affect them as much since they did not even begin their established relationship until they were apart—but he still absolutely felt the pang of loneliness and longing when they were apart too long.

Craig decided to grab another snack even though it was 9:15P.M., and therefore almost time for him to pass out. After he had put his popcorn in the microwave, a light tapping sounded against his door. He furrowed his eyebrows, unknowing of who could possibly be trying to interact with him unannounced. He traced across the space and leaded down to gaze into the peep hole. His spirits instantly soared when he saw messy, blond hair.

He tugged the door ajar with haste and cast his eyes upon Tweek, who stood before him with a wide smile. “Surprise.”

“Hey,” Craig greeted with a grin, stepping aside for Tweek to enter. When the door clicked shut they fell into one another’s embrace, breathing into each other as Craig’s exhaustion suddenly dissipated. “What are you doing here? I thought your class wasn’t over until 9,”

Tweek answered, “He let us out at 7:30. We were just doing some review stuff and we got done really early. I just dead down right after.”

“You didn’t have to do that,” Craig said with a content sigh, pressing a kiss to the side of Tweek’s curly head as they swayed back and forth, remaining wrapped in one another’s arms.

“Yes I did! I’m having withdrawals,” Tweek exclaimed, pulling himself back slightly to throw Craig a quick glare. “Did you not have your door locked?”

“What?”

“Your door—I didn’t hear the lock click when you opened the door.”

“I… guess I forgot?”

“Craig!” Tweek scolded, “You can’t do that, man! You live in a building full of other people, anyone could just walk—”

With an amused smirk, Craig leaned in and interrupted the rambling with a hard, passionate kiss on the lips. Tweek let out a soft sigh of surprise, but quickly reciprocated with equal enthusiasm. Craig’s hands rose to meet Tweek’s freckled cheeks, and his arms spun around Craig’s middle.

“Thank you for coming all this way.” Craig muttered between increasingly heavy kisses. His heart picked up at contact, and at the way Tweek slipped his hands beneath his t-shirt. He did not even mind that his fingers were freaking; it almost felt soothing against his warm, bare skin.

The blond hummed in acknowledgement of the sentiment before Craig captured him in another opened mouth kiss. A short moan of approval escaped Tweek’s throat when a hand migrated from the side of his face to the nape of his neck, fingers imbedding in his ringlets. His own fingers traced to the small of Craig’s back, the curve of his barely defined muscles causing his stomach to twist with desire.

Craig broke the contact once more to tease, “Was this just a late-night booty call?”

“Shut up,” Tweek scoffed jokingly as Craig chuckled. “This is like the middle of the day for me.”

“Not my fault you’re a vampire. I’m a simple Menardian.”

Tweek snorted and shook his head, reeling in to begin a trail of kisses against Craig’s jawline. He paused when he reached the taller man’s ear and whispered, “Do you not want a booty call?”

“That is not what I said.” Craig assured. He took a step backward and scanned his lust-filled eyes down his body. He took it upon himself to pull the zipper of Tweek’s fleece, flannel jacket down to his waist, and then allowed him to shrug it off and toss it onto the sofa. Tweek’s thin build remained hidden by a baggy t-shirt that looked oddly familiar. He smirked, “Is this mine?”

Tweek shook his head, “It’s ours.”

“Fair enough.” Craig agreed before enjoying another chaste kiss. “Come on,”

Tweek accepted the hand he had held out for him. The two headed across the small space to Craig’s bedroom, where he wished he had picked up the clothes strewn across his bed (he does not feel too bad about himself, though, seeing as Tweek is one of the messiest people he knows). He took a moment to clear off the furniture as Tweek peered around. “You know, this is only, like, the third time I’ve been in here.”

Craig hummed, finding that strange, but true. Once done replacing his clothes onto the grey office chair off to the side, he flopped down onto the mattress and gestured toward the spot beside him with a half-joking smirk, “Let’s make it count, then.”

Tweek rolled his eyes at the unnecessary pageantry of his movement, but agreed nonetheless. He let the bed hold his weight as he curled up beside Craig, receiving a hand on his hip and lips on his mouth.

They quickly returned to hard, fast kisses and increasingly desperate pawing at one another’s bodies. Tweek’s twiddled the drawstrings of Craig’s black sweatpants experimentally and felt encouraged to continue when he scooted closer. He slipped his fingers between Craig’s elastic waistband and his pelvic area, knuckles brushing against his hipbone. The hitch of his boyfriend’s breath brought a sly smile to his lips as he slid his hand the rest of the way down and inside his boxers.

“sh*t,” Craig cursed beneath his breath when a hand wrapped around his length. He returned a hand to the back of Tweek’s head, coaxes him to remain against his lips as he pumped his hand up and down. Pleasure filled his being as he tangled his fingers in smooth, blond waves.

Flutters erupted across Tweek’s chest when Craig's hands fell to his waist, nimble fingers quickly unbuttoning the copper button of his jeans. Soon his own hard dick was exposed to the slightly chilly air of Craig’s bedroom, which initially made him want to shrink into himself; however, he instantly forgot about it when Craig’s warm hand graced his sensitive skin, and his mouth soon joined.

Tweek parted his lips to release quiet, breathless sighs as Craig’s tongue swirled around his head a few times before taking him in. His eyes rolled to the back of his head at the warm, wet feeling forcing his stomach muscles to contract. Craig hollowed his cheeks and bobbed his head up and down, each movement bringing Tweek more and more euphoria.

After a few minutes, Craig withdrew and flicked his eyes up to admire the other man’s beautiful, rosy cheeks and dilated amber stare. He grinned and licked his lips as he reached over to his nightstand, pulling the small knob so the wooden drawer revealed his sex paraphernalia.

He handed Tweek a purple bottle of lubricant, and the blond continued to suck in heavy breathes as he squirted a line of the clear gel against his fingers. Meanwhile, Craig had worked his sweatpants the rest of the way down his legs and disregarded them to the side. He slid back into position, his back against the headboard and wide eyes on Tweek, who asked, “You ready?”

Craig nodded in confirmation, anticipation of the satisfying feeling shutting his eyes. Though this kind of preparation was not exactly necessary, it definitely helped, and they both found it pretty hot. Tweek scooted closer and slowly slipped two moist fingers into the entrance of his boyfriend’s asshole. He watched the other man moan and squirm slightly to guide Tweek’s movements.

“I’m good,” Craig sighed, capturing Tweek’s attention. He reached out to cup his cheek and press his thumb to Tweek’s lips, earning a kiss. “I need you.”

Tweek grinned and pecked his thumb again before extracting his fingers and reaching into the drawer for a small cloth to wipe his hand. Craig’s organization and preparation never ceased to amaze him. Once his hand was cleaned, he picked up a condom and tore it free from the crinkling package.

Soon, he was back inside of Craig, delivering slow, deep thrusts that made the other man’s head roll back in pleasure. The feeling was like no other—better than the very few other experiences he had ever had, and definitely better than his own hand. Not only was Craig really f*cking good in bed, but each experience also came along with heart palpitations and adoration and joy associated with the mans gorgeous face, intoxicating kiss, soft voice, and nice, slender body. He though not only of how good it felt, but of how much he loved to be with Craig, feel Craig, talk to Craig, know more and more details of Craig—just, Craig. He just loved Craig.

He loved Craig.

Realization hit him like a ton of bricks and his eyes widened, seconds before he felt that hot, tingling knot in his stomach. He released himself into the condom and paused for a moment, gasping, and reeling from all the feelings swimming around inside of him.

He pumped his hand along Craig’s dick again, until his hand was once against moist and sticky. They took a moment to bask in the afterglow, staring into one another’s eyes and grinning. Tweek felt that strong, roller-coast-like feeling in his stomach again, confirming his suspicions. He had truly fallen for the man beneath him.

They separate and clean themselves up, dressing again before hopping back on the bed. The sheets are slightly damp from sweat, but neither mind as they settle into one another’s embrace. They enjoy a few moments of silence together before Craig plants a kiss against Tweek’s cheek.

With a wide grin, the blond turned and locked eyes with him again. Now he cannot shake the intense feeling of admiration that burns him inside and out. He wanted to let those three little words fall from his lips, but fear twisted the wording to, “I adore you.”

Craig’s lips quirked upward before they pressed a sweet kiss to his nose. “You are also adorable.”

Tweek puffed out a close-mouthed chuckle and returned his head to Craig’s shoulder. He chewed his lip to bits the rest of the night with Craig, caught between worrying Craig does not love him back and feeling emerged in bliss.

_

Tweek!

The shrill chant was not enough warning before he was captured in a bone-crunching embrace. He winced before letting a grin stretch his lips and he rested his arms around Kenny’s shoulders. “Hey, there.”

“It’s so good to see you, dude,” Kenny sighed as he freed his friend and leaned back against the electrical desk.

It had been three months since he last managed to catch a glimpse of Kenny, and he looked no different aside from like he actually received the proper amount of sleep. He assumed this was due to the comfort of sharing a bed with his partner (and not being woken up at odd hours of the night by a toddler screaming for his binky). Kenny’s text-message updates had indicated that he and Stan were in an awesome place, and both very happy.

“You too! Is your man here today?” Tweek asked, peering down the aisles to the plumbing desk.

“No sirrey. He is, however, taking our doggy to the vet.” Kenny informed with a simper.

Tweek raised his eyebrows, “You guys bought a dog together?!”

“Nah, we found ‘em. He was abandoned in this parking lot, locked up in a cage with a bowl of food and a whole bunch of sh*t in a bag next to him. Like, treats, flea medicine, a leash, nail clippers… it was wild.” Kenny explained before pouting a lip at the memory.

“Dude, what the f*ck?! That’s awful!” Tweek gasped.

“Yeah, humans are the scum of the f*ckin’ earth! But, little Drew is happy now.”

“Drew?” Tweek questioned.

Kenny sighed, “Yeah, I lost the coin toss. It’s after the Broncos quarterback.”

“Pft,” Tweek laughed and shook his head.

Kenny chuckled in agreement as both of their heads turned to the side to address a new presence. Craig and Wendy were strolling up in identical, royal blue shirts. They both granted Tweek smiles.

With a whistle, Kenny remarked, “Well, it ain’t often my department is so full of hotties. Don’t get me going at work, you guys.” Wendy rolled her eyes and Craig gave him the middle finger before pressing a kiss to Tweek’s lips. Kenny spouted, “Dude, what did I just say?”

Tweek shook his head at his friend, smiling despite himself. “I wanted to see if you wanna hang out soon!”

“Hell yeah, dude, just text me. You home for winter break?”

“Yep! I’m staying with Craig.” Tweek informed.

Kenny waggled his eyebrows, opening his mouth to make another inappropriate quip, but Craig sensed such a comment and interjected, “Alright, let’s go, Token’s waiting for us.”

“See you later, Kenny.” Tweek said with a wave, earning a salute in reply.

The trio ambled out to the Menards parking lot together, and across the walkway to Token’s sleek, black vehicle. Tweek and Craig climbed in the back as Wendy hopped into the passenger’s seat. “Hey, you,” she hummed, leaning in to press a kiss to his lips.

Token grinned after she pulled back, “Hey. Everyone ready to go?”

“Yes, please,” Tweek huffed. “I’ve only had one coffee today.”

Craig gasped sarcastically, “Are you okay?!”

“f*ck off.” Tweek laughed, pushing the man away. Craig quickly reeled back in and kissed the side of his head.

The friends enjoyed a inadvertently very long double-date Bee’s before being dropped back off to Craig’s car, which was in a gradually worse state from all the driving back and forth between South Park and Boulder.

When they returned to Craig’s apartment, they settled down onto the couch and ordered themselves dinner. Craig turned on a show on Netflix for them to ignore as they chatted and made out.

“Oh, hey, did I tell you that Trish broke things off with her fiancé?” Craig announced.

Tweek grinned and co*cked an eyebrow, “That’s great! Did you have anything to do with that?”

Craig shrugged, “Well, I just told her he was playing her and a lot older than she thought. She didn’t break up with him immediately or even really act pissed off, but I could tell she was. She came over last week to tell me.”

“She came over?!” Tweek repeated. Craig nodded in confirmation. “Wow, was that the first time she had been here?”

Craig shook his head, “No, she helped me move in.”

Tweek stifled his instinct to tell him that is not the same thing as coming over specifically to hang out with her brother. It was a dramatically improvement from the exchange-less, loveless relationship the siblings seemed to have before Tweek left for college. It softened his insides, “Well, that’s really great, Craig. I’m glad you two are getting along better.”

The dark-haired man nodded. “Yeah, it’s cool. Except she kicked my ass in Mario Kart.”

“Oh, so I assume she is no longer welcome?”

“Exactly.” Craig joked. Tweek chuckled as he continued, “Thanks for… I don’t know, encouraging me to talk to her, I guess. I wouldn’t have without you.”

Tweek softened more at the sentiment and reached out a hand to grasp Craig’s. Their fingers laced together as he said, “I’m really happy it helped. I’m always here for you.”

“I know,” Craig said with a smile as he flicked those deep, pretty brown eyes up to meet his gaze, “that’s why I love you.”

Tweek’s heart slammed on its breaks and his eyes went wide. He instinctually searched the other man’s face for any trace of humor or indication that this was a prank; when he found nothing but sincerity, he let himself breathe and smile back, “I-I love you. Too,”

The two leaned into each other in unison, lips crashing together. Love and passion and happiness washed over Tweek like a tidal wave, allowing him to fall head over heels for Craig Tucker. He felt engulfed in a feeling he never thought he would get to have, growing up in a state of constant anxiety and self-doubt. Though it was hard and sometimes scary, cutting himself off from his parents was the best thing he had ever done. Right beside taking a job at Menards.

Head Over Heels - jewboykahl (2024)
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