Craig Tucker had never been an imaginative child.
He had never spurred on innocent gibberish of a made-up world to his parents, or come up with elaborate inventive games or even drawn pictures with arbitrary colours. He was the kid who spoke rarely, who would play with his toys in the correct manner and who when in need to draw, drew what he saw and knew.
At first, his parents had liked to believe that their boy simply had a guarded personality and actually dissimulated the dreams and hopes of a true child; but as time went by they could no longer deny that their son had been put into this world with the unproductive imagination of someone who had already lived their life.
Lacking the charm of a normal child, both his parents would often let him be, slightly put off by the serious look he would always give them. They let him go as he pleased, even though he was only five, for they knew he could not put himself into a dangerous situation with his evident lack of initiative. Of course they loved him very much, but their love had already evolved into the one you would bear for a child who was already in his thirties; the small boy acted and was treated like an adult.
His family failed at identifying any of his interests, but this did not mean that he did not have any. Actually, he had always been fascinated by animals and preferred their lack of speech to the incessant ever-flowing questions his human entourage would often ask him.
This is why the young boy had decided to spend his day sitting in the dried out grass near Stark's Pond. The summer was already at its zenith, even though it had merely been a week since the snow had started melting. His oversized kid eyes had spotted movement in the grass that morning in his front yard. Craig Tucker discovered the small jumping insects referred to as grasshoppers. He had spent his whole day hunting as many as he could, catching them and releasing them just as soon. His search had led him to the small pond and he had lounged in the sun, sprawled out in the grass, carefully observing the grass for any movement. Other kids would have climbed the surrounding trees or dived into the sparkling water, but he did not enjoy those sorts of activities. He was highly content to monitor the insects' behaviour and holding them softly in his petite hands until they jumped away.
He had been so satisfied with his hunting of insects he had not noticed the sun setting or the drop in the air's temperature. It was only when he heard a silent cry that he raised his head to the full-blown night sky, but that did not interest him, what did on the other hand was the triangular formation of pure white birds flying gracefully in that sky.
His five-year old vocabulary only permitted him to identify them as geese, but they were actually swans and therefore he did not entirely grasp how uncommon it was for them to show up in the usually snowy mountain town.
Classing them as an interesting occurrence and not as a majestic one he concealed himself behind a tree, hoping the swans would land in the pond and that he could observe them quietly.
Surely enough, they landed on the water's surface, quite awkwardly, which would have pointed to any animal expert that they really were swans and not geese, but the boy only deemed the landing as bizarre. His eyes were bright and his lips only slightly upturned as he peacefully watched the family of swans make their way to the shore. He noticed the smallest one of the birds and decided, with limited imagination, that it must be a family; father, mother and kid; quite similarly to his own family, except for the lack of a younger sibling.
Then what happened next shook the young boy to his core. Had he been like the other children of his neighbourhood, he would have rushed back home and babbled to his parents nonsense on what had arrived and then his parents would have assured him that it wasn't real. But he was Craig Tucker, he did not go around searching for reassurance, and if he thought up something, it was necessarily something that existed and not something ridiculous. Therefore, he was quite smitten with the absurdity of the situation; the swans had seemed to shed their feathered skin and all that was left… Were three humans.
As he had hypothesized, it was a family and they were all doted of a bemusing elegance as they bathed in the clear water, laughing and playing together. He did not notice the adults as much as the kid, who roughly seemed his age, his hair was a shocking blond and seemed as unruly as the feathers that previously covered his body, but what intrigued Craig most was his lack of speech as the family bathed joyfully in the moonlit pond. The young black-haired boy thought that perhaps he could finally find a friend in the bird made boy; he had secretly wished for a friend this past week of summer, someone he could pass quiet moments with.
Clenching his jaw in concentration he thought of the eventuality of the boy and his family flying away and him missing his only chance to make a friend. Crawling his way to the opposite side of the pond, he made as little noise as possible. Panting in an effort to be stealthy, he arrived to the bushes where they had seemed to transform and to his surprise he found robes made out of feathers. Contemplating this, he assumed if the little boy couldn't go back to being a bird, he would not fly away. He picked up the smallest robe and in fear of being caught, he fled. Thinking he would return the following morning and greet the blond boy-bird.
It had been a good plan, except the elegant boy was not at the pond the next day or the day after that day, or any day of that summer. As he started school in autumn, he considered the possibility that he might have made it up or dreamed of it. But he did not imagine things, because he was him. And the cloak made out of delicate ivory coloured feathers he slept with was proof of a little swan that had turned into a boy.
In the eleven years that had followed he kept a look-out for anything unusual and kept clear of it. He did not want to feel the way he had felt the day he believed his only chance at making friends had passed. Eventually he did make friends, but tried to keep them at bay as well, afraid to hope for a long-lasting friendship. Every night he slept with the soft robe clutched against his chest and dreamed of flying swans.
Tweek Tweak was an unusual teenager.
Most blamed it on his caffeine addiction. Few noticed that his body never did accustom to the serious intakes of coffee and none pondered why all his cups of coffee had the same effect as the first he had ever had.
Everyone who cared blamed his inability to hold objects properly, his weird and interesting diet, the noises that escaped his throat without consent and the strange way he would walk with his head held up as high as he could on that caffeine addiction.
Of course that was logical; it actually was the only logical explanation. He should have accepted it as a fact, but he never could.
It must have been the way his parents always avoided him when he asked questions concerning his early childhood, the way he felt whenever he tried to eat meat his friends claimed as tasty and the way birds avoided his angry stance that kept him from believing things were that simple.
Mostly it was because of distant memories. The sort of memories you aren't sure if you made up or if you actually went through anymore. The logical thing to think once again was that he did not used to fly as a kid and that his parents were definitely not great white birds. He shouldn't hold on to the feeling that he was actually meant to be a swan.
He tried to live his life without keeping such a ridiculous thing in mind, but it was difficult. He made friends, went to school and was happy more often than not. But in the back of his head, he always kept a lookout for anything unusual. Anything to set him back on the right path, to answer his existential questions.
He remembered that once when he was younger he had hung out with a group that had always the knack to find unusual activity, but sadly he found it exhausting and not helpful at all. This had led him to the other kid of his class that found great distaste in the absurd and that was the moment he became part of Craig's gang. So from the sidelines he continued monitoring suspicious happenings, ready to pounce at the mention of anything that would irk his memory. But it never did happen.
Ironically, he did not know that the boy that could answer most of his questions was next to him day after day. What had brought them together was their identical reaction to the same event; keeping a close eye on craziness from afar. What would risk bringing them apart were those answers that Tweek was desperately searching for.
I do not own South park or the tale of Swan Maidens (which this is based on) :3