Part One:
Before We Met

It was in the first day of sophomore year that Craig came to school wearing the black mask.

He was always an apathetic one, the loner, that crazy bastard who never really said anything and flipped people off at the slightest thing. He wasn't much of anything.

The mask changed things.

It was one of those black half ones, the kind that covered only your mouth, with the design of a wide, creepy smile, a tooth-baring grin more like, that stretched across his face. School always started early, when the morning was dark, and in that dark, he caused quite a commotion when people first took sight of him. They winced, they flinched at first sight. Then when the day lightened, people started to question and whisper, and one made the mistake of not asking, but insulting it.

The people who happened to hear and watch told the story. Of how Craig stared at him silently, then his eyes changed, crinkling in the way they do when people smiled, and the mask stretched with it, twisting up, curling, becoming his own grin. Then how Craig beat the offender so bad, he ended up in the hospital and Craig was suspended for a week.

And since then, Craig never took it off. It became his dangerous smile, his fangs, and he was a wild figure in the halls, that demonic grin warning you to back away and look down for fear of retribution. He never spoke about what caused the change and his friends abandoned the demented raven, leaving only the tales of what he had been before.

And Craig remained silent, watchful, and dangerous.

Tweek slunk along the silent, dark, outside halls of the high school, looking for a safe place to hide. He always hated going to school early but he had to; his father went to work super early and he hated the crowded bus more than he hated an empty school.

But the darkness always creeped him out, and the shadows taunted him, whispering words of murderers and psychos waiting to ambush him, and on those days when he's watched something scary, of hordes of zombies running to attack him. Tweek shook and twitched, spilling little drops of coffee from the rim of his cup. He spotted a little dark corner where two buildings met and after looking from afar to see if anyone was in it, darted toward it, planning to spend the rest of his forty minutes waiting for first bell to ring. He sighed in relief, turning to face the open space so he could see if anyone sneaked up on him. Tweek trembled and took a step back, then shrieked when he hit something that moved.

He whirled around, then whimpered in absolute terror as a grinning demon lifted its head from what he had taken to be just deeper shadow, instead a deep midnight blue hoodie. It stood, looming over him and Tweek couldn't breathe, eyes wide as he wheezed, cup shaking erratically in his hands.

Then it turned away, cutting across the grass as it walked off, disappearing around a corner.

It was a couple of petrified minutes later that Tweek realized it had only been Craig Tucker.

The teacher's voice droned on and Tweek scribbled his notes hastily in his own shorthand, so no lazy cheaters could copy them. Another slurp of coffee and the bell rang, the teacher rattled off their homework and he was off, sticking close to the lockers to avoid the stampede of humans. He entered his final class early and sat down in the back, where he always sat.

Class started after a couple of minutes and the teacher assigned a pop quiz, guaranteed to last the entire period. The entire class groaned and Tweek bit his lip anxiously. Oh God, what if he failed? He hadn't studied at all, what was the test even about?

Just another random quiz day, brought to you by the paranoia of Tweek Tweek.

The blond received his test and started, then quickly realized it was only a very long review quiz, on the chapter they had just finished. He knew all of this. The very thought relaxed him and he started to scribble his answers, finishing before even half of the period was over. Sometimes, having an overactive brain and rapid reading skills came in handy. After he was done he turned it in, and then was faced with the fact that he had nothing to do for the remainder of the period.

Tweek was never an active person. Besides his twitching and shuddering, he didn't like to move much. The more he moved then the more chance that people would look at him and he'd embarrass himself or do something horribly stupid and they would all laugh at him or get angry and beat him up. Tweek had a lot of fears, most of them centering around what people might do to him. What could he do with the remainder or his period that wouldn't cause something horrible?

The more he thought, the more he twitched, and soon he was almost vibrating in his seat, fingers twitching and contorting into fists and back again.

Finally, thankfully, he decided to go to sleep.

He lay his head on his arms, a small worried frown on his face. He was never one to go to sleep easily; he more often stayed awake at nights than he did asleep. He was plagued with insomnia, and the caffeine never helped any. But this was his fourth day without any sleep, maybe he could manage to force a quick nap out of himself. Unless he slept for far too long and missed his next class, or worse, all of the school day. He tried not to shudder. Surely someone would wake him up; it wouldn't come to that, he hoped.

Tweek tried to close his eyes, whimpering silently as he tried to relax enough to go to sleep. He had always hated being so weird. Sleep was one of the most basic functions of a human being, and he couldn't even do that right.

He buried his head farther into his arms, and almost squeaked in joy as he felt his conscious mind slow, grow heavier, and start to leave.

He was swimming in a lightless, black ocean, unable to breathe, fighting and fighting to go up and up but he couldn't. There was something holding him back, clutching at him and as he fought a creeping coldness started in his legs, freezing them as it moved up into his body, into his heart and he screamed wordlessly, knowing he was being dragged down and in one last desperate attempt to see, he looked down. And all that stared back at him was a pale-faced midnight blue demon, grinning like death back at him.

"ARGHHHH!" Tweek shot up, smacked his knees into the desk, and fell to the side, landing squirming on the floor. He lay there panting for a moment, then froze, looking up. Faces appeared in his vision, staring at him with expressions of mixed surprise and disgust. Tweek quailed, then shakily stood up, casting scared eyes around the classroom. Both students and teacher alike stared at him, none of them hiding their contempt, and Tweek shamefacedly sank into his seat as someone started laughing.

He tried to ignore the derisive mutters that went around him, all directed at him and his freak nature, his thoughts in turmoil after his nightmare. Now he remembered why he never really wanted to sleep anyway. His nightmares were always there, lurking, standing in hidden shadow until he made the mistake of falling asleep before attacking. His mind was never at rest.

Tweek blew out a shaky breath, turning his thoughts to the vision he'd seen holding him down in that black ocean of horror.

He'd never dreamed of Craig before, and certainly never in such a terrifying context. In all honesty, he'd never actually thought of him at all. Even before he'd started to wear that mask of his last year, Tweek hadn't been much of a friend to him. They hung out in the same group but had never had much reason to talk a lot. And after the mask...well, forget about the possibility. Tweek was more scared of the mask than of Craig himself, but it was just the thought of staring at such a creepy wide grin that kept him away.

Tweek shuddered, tangling shaking hands into much-abused hair. God, he wasn't going to sleep tonight.

Maybe not ever.

The bell rang and Tweek could finally gather up his stuff and slink out of the classroom, ashamed and dearly wishing he never had this class again. But this was a practically normal occurrence; if it wasn't for his nightmare, he would have done something else embarrassing or stupid or awkward. He couldn't avoid it, it was almost a curse and all his nature.

People bustled to and fro and Tweek stayed to the sides, getting knocked about by the people who clearly weren't watching where they were going or those who just didn't care who they bumped into. He bore it all with a slightly panicked look; he hated crowds. There was just so much danger there. Finally he was out and he could breathe in relative safety, darting out of the school gate and starting his walk to his dad's coffee shop. He worked there on the afternoons.

Cars rushed by and Tweek winced at every one, imagining horrible scenes in which tires popped and cars swerved toward him, or exploded and pelted him with dangerously sharp shrapnel, or simply just tried to run him over for no reason. He knew that none of those were very probable, but he feared all the same. All his fear were products of his imagination and the force at which they tore at him was never gentle.

He was so engrossed in his own thoughts that he almost didn't notice when he finally arrived at the coffee shop, actually smacking into the door of the establishment and bouncing back. He rubbed at his nose, worried he might have broken it or made it bleed, but it was fine, and he stepped inside, rushing toward the back to drop off his stuff before putting on the latte brown apron that was his uniform and going over to where his father waited behind the counter.

His father greeted him jovially, asking him how his school day had been. Tweek smiled weakly.

"I-it was fine...hung out with m-my -ngh- friends a-and stuff."

A complete lie; he didn't have friends, but how could he tell his father that?

His father beamed, holding a coffee cup of his own as he stared off into the distance, the curls of warm steam giving him the air of someone refined. "Ah yes, the tender years of own were like a well-brewed cup of french-vanilla coffee, light and sweet to the taste, with a creaminess to it that just left you feeling warm inside."

His dad must have been reading Mansfield Park again, his metaphors actually had some rhetoric to them today. Tweek just smiled and nodded, and his dad wandered off with a dreamy look on his face, probably to go sit by the corner window and talk to random customers in strange, poetic litanies.

Tweek took his place behind the counter, nervously awaiting the first customer to come to him. He was good at this, the coffee business, God knows he had studied it long enough and finally something was paying off. The one thing he was good at besides being a spaz: taking and serving coffee orders.

He was well into the first ten minutes of being there, when the door opened and some familiar faces stepped through, arguing. Clyde and Butters were bickering in hushed voices, pushing something back and forth between them. Tweek had already served someone before them, he felt the small bit of confidence from an order gone successfully and waited anxiously for them to approach.

Butters greeted him first. "Heya, Tweek. I'ah'll have the mocha cappuccino, extra whipped cream on top please."

Clyde pushed a heavy folder into Butters' unsuspecting arms, turning to the twitchy blond. "Regular coffee, no sugar."

Tweek nodded obediently, grateful to have something to do and not converse with them. He didn't really know these people, they were practical strangers to him, and he was nervous with everybody. Even Clyde, who had run with the same group as him in their younger years, couldn't be called Tweek's friend, they never talked at all. They were different people in the same class, and Tweek regretted the fact he couldn't even talk to him anymore. The Clyde he remembered was a whiny, eager kid who's only loves were tacos and astronauts; who knew if that was the same now.

Butters was just an enigma to him.

He finished and put their orders on the countertop, uttering, "T-that'll be $6.72, pl-please."

Butters and Clyde looked at each other, the brunet with a puppy-dog look on his face and the other sighed, pulling out his wallet. Okay, so maybe Clyde hadn't changed too much. Butters paid and they removed themselves to a nearby table, continuing their argument. Tweek wondered what it could possibly be about, but decided not to interfere. They might get angry at him and go after his life or something.

However, he didn't have to interfere, they did it for him. Five minutes later Clyde perked up his head, catching Tweek's eye and waving him over.

"Tweek, come over here!"

The twittery employee hesitated, then carefully approached them, going from behind the counter and shuffling over to their table. Instantly Clyde's arm wrapped around him, drawing him forward to lean over with them; Tweek stifled a terrified shriek, eyes panicked. Oh God, what did they plan to do with him?

"You're my friend, right Tweek? We've been friends for a while, right?" The brunet looked at him expectantly, and Tweek quivered fearfully, wishing he would let him go. Physical contact had always freaked him out.

"U-uh, I-I guess..." Was he, really? When was the last time they had exchanged conversation?

"Great!" Now Butters looked at him, a clear hopeful look in his eyes. "See, Tweek, we were wonderin' if you could do somethin' for us. A favor, like. Please, for friends?"

Tweek bit back a whimper, looking with wide eyes at the both of them. "Ngh..."

Butters reached over to gently touch his hand; Tweek almost wet himself. "Please, Tweek, we need your help."

The coffee-addict hesitated, trembled, and finally gave a tiny nod. Clyde beamed, slapping him on the back, and Tweek almost fell flat on the small table. "Awesome, man, I knew we could count on you!"

Butters pushed a big black binder toward Tweek, the thing that they had been arguing about before, he supposed. "See, a, uh...certain someone left this in our las' class, and th' teach wanted us t'bring it to him, but we're kinda..." He searched for the right word, blushing as he struggled.

"Busy!" Clyde supplied, and Butters jumped on it. "Yeah, busy! Could ya bring it to 'im, Tweek? Please?"

Tweek twisted his jerking hands in his apron, freaked out beyond all comprehension. Oh great, what had he gotten himself into? What if it was a mob member, an alien, or some kind of horrible serial killer who would sooner murder him than thank him? He tried to calm himself down. This town was strange, but he didn't think they would allow aliens or mob members in the school, and a psychopathic killer would have already been noticed and caught, right? He took a whimpering breath. It couldn't be anybody too bad, right? No, of course not.

"W-who is it?"

Butters and Clyde exchanged another look, this time hesitant and in Butters' case, more than a little scared. Clyde turned back to the Tweek he still held, giving him a sheepish smile.

"Uh, it's actually C—"

"Oh my God, look at th' time!" Butters shot up, face blushing and nervous. "Come on, Clyde, we gotta get t' the'...thing, right?" He looked to Tweek. "Y'can just look inside, his name is right there." He pulled at Clyde and the brunet instantly responded.

"Um, yeah, Tweek! You can just look inside! Well, gotta go, see you later!"

And with that they were gone, taking their cups with them and leaving the binder. The blond stared after them, his apprehension rising as he looked down at the black binder, laying innocently on the table. He glanced up at the closed door and around at the quietly murmuring customers at their tables, then nervously picked it up, taking it with him into the safety of the back room. There, alone after he shut the door behind him, he opened the cover of the heavy binder, finding himself staring at messy papers stuffed in random order within, scrawling handwriting covering it in formulas and other bits of writing. Tweek's eyes wandered over the first page, searching for a name. On the top left corner, he saw one, scrawled in close-set, sharp black ink.

Tweek screamed, flinging the thing away from him, sending half of its contents scattering across the floor.

No, no, he wouldn't do it, he couldn't do it! There was no way he was going to deliver this, none at all!

Not to Craig Tucker.

Tweek whimpered in panic, grabbing thick handfuls of his yellow hair. Oh Jesus Christ, what had he gotten himself into? He couldn't deliver that, not to him, not to that petrifying mask of his! He moaned, twitching uncontrollably, his usual willpower to hold it in check gone by the fear running through his system.

Damn, how could he have agreed to their stupid favor? This was why you couldn't trust anybody, because they just used you and threw your fears in your face! Tweek thought the thought both angrily and horrified, staring at the object of his misery. What could he do? He couldn't go to Craig's house, but what would happen if he didn't? Sweet Jesus, if he didn't get his stuff back, he'd get mad, right? And then he'd go after Clyde or Butters and then they'd surely tell him and then he'd get even more pissed and go after Tweek himself and KILL HIM IN BRUTAL WAYS!

Tweek moaned and squirmed, staring at the binder like it was a demon staring him down across the floor. Maybe it was. He couldn't decide right now what to do with it, how could he? He squirmed some more, then slid to the floor, almost crawling away from the thing and back out of the room's door, coming into the space behind the counter. He picked himself up shakily, biting his lip. He would decide later what to do with it, yeah, he didn't have to decide anything right now, of course not. He would just wait until his shift was over, and then think about it. Sure.

No big deal.

Of course, when the time came to close up shop, he was once again faced with the decision of what to do with the cursed thing. He twitched erratically, once again in the back room as he stared at the thing with big, wide hazel eyes, biting his nails anxiously. Jesus, what should he do, what should he do? Tweek looked around, hesitating, waiting vainly for something to come along and decide for him. Obviously, nothing came and Tweek reached up to tug on his hair, sending one tiny prayer up to God before quickly dashing forward and picking it up, holding it tightly to his chest. It was too late now to deliver it, he'd just bring it home for safekeeping or something. At least then, if Craig came after him for blood, he'd still have it in his possession as some sort of bargaining tool. Yes, good idea.

And so Tweek locked up—his dad had gone home a while ago—and ran home, eyes wide and fearful as he scanned the surrounding bushes, wary of the possibility that Craig himself might know by now that he had the binder and jump out at him from the leafy depths.

He didn't sleep that night.

Tweek twitched anxiously in his first period class, his mind far away from the trig rules of triangles that were the subject of his teacher's lesson.

He'd left the binder at home. All night he had been staring at it, horrible images of torture at the hands of the vengeful masked Craig running through his mind, destroying even the slightest possibility to even think about falling asleep. Tweek couldn't bear the thought of handing it to him, of searching him out and looking him in the face.

Seriously, that mask freaked him out. Badly. He got even worse shivers just picturing it. He couldn't explain it, because he knew it was really only a mask. But in his mind's eye it expanded, twisted that deep grin it wore and then opened, teeth gnashing and tearing as Craig hosted it on his mouth. The raven was carrying some kind of demon with him, taking possession of his mouth and if Tweek got close enough, he'd open those terrible jaws of his and rip him to pieces. Tweek whimpered, tugging on his hair and sipping loudly at his coffee cup. A couple of people shh-ed him but he was beyond caring at this point.

His eyes stuck to the clock and he nibbled his lips, looping a lock of his flyaway hair around a shaky finger, over and over again. Craig had to know by now that his binder was missing, that he'd left it someplace. How long before he tracked down Clyde and Butters? And then him? Or had he already forced a confession from the fearful minds of the other two? Did he know now that Tweek had it? Oh God, was he coming for him right now? The twitchy blond's head hit his desk as he screwed his eyes shut, barely holding back a sob.

Sweet Jesus, he was so screwed...

The bell rang, interrupting his morbid thoughts and Tweek looked up, startled as around him the unsightly sounds of chairs scraping back and rushing feet rang loud in the enclosed space. He tugged once more on his hair, picked up his stuff and shuffled out, miserably contemplating how much it'd cost for a quick call to hire a lawyer so he could arrange his last will and testament.

He wanted orchids at his funeral. And none of that stupid funeral music either, he hated that. And like hell any of the gnomes were invited.

By lunch however, he was having slightly more cheerful thoughts about his existence. The office secretary had probably saved him about a couple hundred dollars when she refused to let him use the phone, even when he had very urgently explained that he need to call a lawyer, seeing as nothing had happened to him so far. He hadn't even seen Craig Tucker around the halls. They never ran into each other anyway, what were the chances that the raven knew where to find him? Ha, he was creepy, not psychic, right? Of course. Tweek consoled himself with that happy thought as he trooped like an obedient student to the lunchroom, thinking about the coffee cake he had stored in his backpack today. Lunch room food sucked, and Tweek never ate much at any given time anyway.

Sitting down at a solitary table near the back of the room, by the short stage sometimes used by the dance teams to perform for the students during this time, he pulled out the little treat, carefully opening the package to prevent any flying away and nibbling on it slowly, dipping some in his coffee every once in a while. He would enjoy himself, eat his lunch in peace, and then focus later on the problem of—

Tweek's eye wandered across the crowded room, and he froze, his throat convulsing in shock and causing him to silently choke on his food. The black mask of Craig Tucker stared back at him across the lunch room and Tweek pounded on his chest frantically as thoughts of death by asphyxiation ran through his mind, finally spitting out little pieces of the now not-so-delicious treat. It wasn't that the raven was staring at him, and he sent up a quivering prayer of thanks to whatever God was looking after him at this moment, but he was there, far away across the room, and Tweek felt that now slightly familiar fear as he saw the wide, toothy grin of the black cloth.

He shivered at the proximity between them. Oh God, Craig had to know by now, right? He did, there was no way he didn't...what if he felt his presence or something? Sweet Jesus, what if he felt Tweek's fear and came after him here? Oh sweet, merciful God, he didn't want to die in a stinky school cafeteria!

But seconds passed and nothing happened, Craig didn't look up to meet his scared gaze, and Tweek slowly calmed down, sipping at his coffee warily, his coffee cake forgotten. It didn't seem like Craig was too busy searching anybody fact, it didn't see like he was too busy doing much of anything, to be exact.

Craig Tucker was just sitting there, head slightly bent as he stared into the fake wooden surface of the cafeteria table in which he sat alone. He didn't have any food in front of him, which was strange, because no matter how disgusting the food was in here, everyone still either ate it or brought in something of their own, seeing as school days made everyone hungry. Of course, now that Tweek thought about it, having that mask on would make it a little hard to eat or drink anything, but you could just take it off and be fine...or did he really not want to take it off? Was he really that attached to the mask, creepy as it was?

Tweek slurped some more at his coffee, his fear of previously alluded-to mask fading in light of his curiosity. His curiosity was always a monster in matter what he was afraid of, he was certain it would have gotten him killed had he been in a horror movie. But anyway...Tweek felt the slightest bit of pity as he stared at the solitary raven. He was alone too, but that didn't really matter; he had always been more of a loner type, hindered by his inability to trust very deeply and it had never bothered him much. It was for the best, after all, with no attachments, there was no possibility of getting betrayed to the CIA or anything...his paranoia kept him too busy to be lonely anyway. But Craig had always had friends, before he got that mask at least, and it seemed a little bad that no one sat next to him now.

A vague memory stirred in the depths of Tweek's memory and he frowned, trying to pull it up. Craig himself wasn't a bad person, he knew this from experience...right?

Yeah...Craig had let him borrow money once, when they were in...fifth grade? Tweek tapped his head with his finger, willing himself to remember. Fifth grade...and he'd wanted one of those new Venti-sized gingerbread and cinnamon-flavored mochaccinos from Starbucks, 'cuz they were a Christmas special and his father's coffee shop hadn't had anything close to it. But...he remembered that he hadn't had any money for it; he'd spent it all the day before on a shiny green thermos with a metallic silver leaf pattern on it. In fact, it was the one he still had...but he'd been sad, and too embarrassed to ask anybody for money...

How had Craig given him money again? The blond suddenly remembered. The sadness had affected him that day, he hadn't been drinking coffee as much. And Craig had somehow noticed and asked him why during lunch; he'd been too distracted to accurately wonder at the randomness of such an occurrence. Tweek had reluctantly admitted to his dilemma and the raven had handed him all the money he'd had in his pockets, which came out to a total of $10.64.

He thought he could still remember what he'd shrieked out in response.

"Nnahh! I can't take it, i-it's your money! What if it's counterfeit? Sweet Jesus!"

Craig had just stared at him. "Don't be such a spaz. Take it."

Tweek could have hugged him at that point, counterfeit money or not. He remembered buying two of the things, then later a small coffee from his dad's shop.

The memory made him wince uncomfortably. He had all but forgotten his fear of the mask by now, and his thoughts roiled curiously. It was the only time Craig had done something nice for absolutely no reason. Other than that, he couldn't remember any other interactions of the kind. Just tiny conversations whose details faded from his mind.

But Craig himself couldn't be bad, right? Well, he certainly could have changed in the past years, or perhaps kidnapped by aliens and brainwashed in pure evilness, but those weren't very viable ideas, even if they were tempting to think and obsess about.

Tweek slurped coffee slowly, his thoughts turning back to the black binder. He didn't think Craig would hurt him if he returned it...Tweek suddenly remembered he'd left it at home and winced again. Ah...hmmm, he'd return it tomorrow then. He still wasn't going over to the other guy's house, no matter how his opinions changed. People got kidnapped and raped that way!

The hell if that was gonna happen to him.

Tweek went back to class calmer than before now that he didn't think Craig was after his meager life, and a little bit proud that he'd done away with a bit of his fear, no matter how small it was. After school he went to his father's coffee shop again, tolerating the metaphors and random rhetoric about life and the drink he himself was so addicted to.

"My day's been like a white chocolate frappuccino, light and frothy, sipped through a sugar straw and and sweet on my tongue."

"Uh...ngh, y-yeah..." Tweek nodded, a little bit disturbed but unsure why, casting wary looks at his father as he tottered away. Putting on his apron, he wondered if he should have gone home instead; he shivered thinking about the homework waiting for him...

The small tinkle of the door bells ringing caught his attention, and he looked up to see Butters walking through the threshold. He looked scared, not like he was about to buy a calming cup of coffee in Tweek's opinion, and that opinion was soon confirmed into fact as Butters' eyes latched onto Tweek, and the other quickly veered toward him.

"Hey, y'doin'?"

"Um...g-good." Tweek twitched, then hesitantly offered as he looked at the other blond. "D-do you want -ngh a-a coffee? O-on the don't -hnn- l-look too good."

"No thanks." Butters leaned across the counter, his mind clearly on another subject. "I'ah'm sorry f'r pullin' that on ya yesterday, but...have y'given Craig his stuff back yet?"

"I...I forgot it at home." Tweek lied, unwilling to share his earlier fear. Butters' eyes widened, and he looked shocked.

"Ooh, Tweek..." Butters bit his lip nervously, big blue eyes worried. "Y'should go give it t'him soon..."

"Why?" Tweek felt a stuttering in his heart, his fear peeking back up again. "D-did he say anything? Ngh!"

Butters paled and he drew back from the counter a bit, tapping his knuckles in a frantic beat as he recalled the event. "Oh God, Tweek, he came up t'me today...he said if I had it I should give it t'him right then and there..." he shivered. "It was like th' devil himself was talkin' to me. An' then Clyde told me he got to 'im too! He's gonna come after ya Tweek..." Butters shook his head, pushing back blond locks. "I'ah'm serious."

Tweek struggled to control his thoughts, he remembered how he still had that one memory of Craig being nice. Anyone who gave him money for coffee couldn't be purely evil. "Um, I-I'm certain he won' anything. I'll just -ngh- give i-it back tomorrow."

Butters looked at him in what almost could have been admiration. "Gosh, Tweek...I'ah didn't know you were so brave..."

Tweek blushed, fiddling with his apron strings. "N-no, I-I'm not...I just don't think C-Craig is so mean."

The other reached over to pat his arm. "Y'got a big heart, Tweek, tha's f'r sure." Butters drew back, glancing around. "Well, I'ah just came t'ask if you'd given Craig his stuff...but I'ah guess y'can give it t'him tomorrow, like y'say; if you're not worried, then...I'ah'll see ya later, 'kay?"

"Y-yeah..." Tweek tried for a smile, and barely managed it; Butters returned it with much less enthusiasm—if that was possible—and exited the shop, leaving Tweek full of conflicting emotions.

What if Craig really did hunt him down? Oh God...Tweek shivered, his twitching speeding up. No, no, he had already gone through this during lunch and all of the school day. Craig wouldn't do anything. He was okay. He had given him money for coffee. Sure, it was a long time ago, but the sentiment had remained!


Tweek nibbled anxiously on his nails and returned to concentrating on his job, rubbing the counter to absolute clean perfectionism in his repeating worry.

The day was still light when Tweek returned home, letting his dad take the rest of the day shift and shuffling back along the dirty roads to go do his homework in the calmness of his safe sanctuary: his room. Tweek sighed in relaxation just thinking about his room. Mmm, decorated tastefully—almost literally—in warm coffee colors, with his own little coffeemaker in it and his pretty red laptop that he so loved...Tweek remained in his stupor of tranquility until he reached the house, opening the door and stepping inside. His mother was inside in the kitchen, grinding down coffee beans and mixing strange new flavors to taste.

"H-hey, mom." Tweek gave a tiny wave, already knowing what the answer would be.

"Hi, honey...I'm a little busy right now, I've nearly got the perfect combo of vanilla and raspberry mocha! Go play with your toys, okay? I'll make dinner in a little bit."

Tweek looked down. "Okay..." His mother had some sort of thing with her, she never really noticed Tweek growing up, or paid much attention to him. She still talked to him as if he was some little kid. Tweek shambled up the stairs, examining patterns in the fabric of the carpet. Home was alright, he guessed, it wasn't like it was dangerous or scary like the outside world, but he still felt more than a little bit uncomfortable here. He supposed he was being paranoid again. Home was where the heart is, but the only thing he really loved was coffee.

Two hours and some homework later, Tweek was lying facedown on his bedspread, papers scattered around him as his brain fried silently.

Sweet Jesus, homework was hard.

It wasn't that he didn't know, he knew every freaking thing on every single paper! ...He just couldn't concentrate. Tweek tugged at his hair, thinking once more on whether or not Craig was really nice. If he was wrong, he risked painful death and horrible dismemberment! But if he was right...then it was one less thing to be afraid of. Tweek rolled around on his covers, eyes screwed shut as he pondered whether or not he trusted his brain enough to let it risk his very precious life. Sometimes he wondered what might happen to him if he just went away from it all. Certainly, he didn't have the worst life. Unless,of course, you had his brain. Tweek wouldn't wish his brain on anyone. So many nightmares and fears! He shivered thinking of them all.

But if he could calm down enough, maybe then he'd be normal. Tweek pondered the idea for a second then tossed it away. Nah, he'd never achieve that. Tweek yawned,and glanced at his clock. 8:59 p.m. Not too late. Not like he was going to sleep or anything. Tweek giggled at the thought of more coffee through the night.

A noise prickled at the edges of his hearing and Tweek gave a giant twitch, recognizing it as the doorbell to the house. He heard the sound of the water running in the upstairs bathroom and knew his mother was taking a bath. It was probably his dad coming home, and he'd just lost his keys again. His dad had a habit of losing his keys. It was a wonder the gnomes hadn't robbed them blind after this!

Tweek sighed and rolled off his bed, going downstairs to open the door for his dad. Should he talk to him about his worries? He didn't think he was going to get much of a straight answer, but it would help just talking, right? Yeah, Tweek would unburden himself of these worries, and then his fear of Craig and his mask would go away.

With that happy thought in mind, he opened the door.

And stared into the mask of DEATH, grinning evilly at him, teeth bared in a disgusting grimace, where above eyes as dark and blue as a raging sea bore into him with all the intensity of an iceberg. Raven hair as black as night whispered at him and Craig Tucker loomed above him, dangerous and evil.

Tweek screamed and slammed the door shut, tearing back into his room.

Huddled deep in his covers, Tweek trembled madly, his mind in a blaze of panic.

Oh God, he really had come, with his black grinning mask and teeth bared and eyes blazing with DEATH. Tweek squealed, terrified, wrapping the covers so tightly around himself he could barely breathe. What if Craig had gotten mad that he had slammed the door in his face? He had, hadn't he! Sweet Jesus, he was really in for it now...

By now Craig would be super pissed, kicking open the front door in a deadly rage, stomping up the stairs, fists clenched, mask-teeth bared...freakin' Christ, he could hear the stomps, the footsteps coming up the stairs, closer and closer, now at the door...Tweek froze, breath hitching in wheezing gasps as he heard the doorknob rattle, pushed forward and turned so that Crag would come and kill him in a bloody massa—

Tweek screamed shrilly, flailing in his cocoon of covers and choking in breathlessness, falling to the ground in a loud, painful 'thunk' as he squirmed in fear. He panted harshly, clutching the wrapped covers tightly to his chest, eyes wide as he waited for Craig to appear around the side of the bed.

Nothing happened.

He huffed lightly, breath puffing in and out as he shivered madly, finally gaining the courage to peek around the side, half-expecting Craig to jump out at him and scare him literally to death. Softly teared eyes peeked around anxiously, looking toward the door. His mind received a shock.

The door was closed. There was no evidence that it had been opened, kicked down in Craig's furious anger and knocked apart...the sounds and fear had all been in his head; Craig was probably long gone by now and had never set foot in his house. Tweek blushed as he realized how delusional he'd been. He'd deluded himself into an almost panic attack. How idiotic. How very clearly Tweekish.

The blond buried his head in the suffocating sheets around him, his heart still thumping. He was still terrified; all of the nice ideas he had entertained about Craig during lunch having completely fled his mind. Tweek could still see the demonic smile, the razor-sharp blue eyes and nightmare-black hair hiding most of his face. It creeped him out though, that he couldn't see him! He whimpered, fingers tensing as he wondered if he could brave the length of his room to get at his thermos and its soothing drink.

Tweek felt more than a little guilty now. He had said himself that he didn't think Craig was bad or anything, and here he was hiding, scared half to death!

He just really hated that mask. It was too scary, too creepy for his overactive mind, it was just too much for him! He couldn't help it, he just couldn't...and now Craig was probably really angry, not only because Tweek had slammed the door in his face, but because he also hadn't gotten his folder back yet! Tweek looked toward the bedside table, where he saw the offending object lying innocently on the surface.

He had to bring it back...he couldn't keep it, obviously...Tweek gulped visibly, quivering like a rabid rabbit. He shook at what it all meant: he would have to face him, go to his house and face him after what he had just done. He'd have to stare at that mask full on.

Instantly, protests and fearful mutters attacked his hyperactive mind. No way, he couldn't do that! It was dark already, it was dangerous out there, and besides, who even knew where Craig lived now? He could vaguely remember where Craig's house was, but that had been way back in elementary school; who knew if he still lived there now? Tweek flailed in the wrappings of sheets, wriggling his way to where his thermos was to take a few gulps. Now curled up safely on the floor with the thermos and his covers, Tweek tugged anxiously on his hair.

Could he get away with just trying to forget about it? No, he couldn't fake ignorance, besides Craig already knew from Butters and Clyde that he had it. And Craig would get more mad and just keep on hunting for him at his house!

Tweek squeaked, jolting up. No! No more Craig going to his house and scaring the crap outta him! It was this thought that decided him, and the blond struggled to free himself of the tight embrace his sheets had on him, grabbing his shoes and jacket. He fell trying to put the former on, and thrashed around the floor on his back like a overturned turtle, agitatedly struggling to put on his shoes. Thankfully they were the Velcro kind, not laced. His thermos was quickly scooped up and he gathered the black binder into his arms, fighting not to drop both in his trembling fit.

A moment later he was creeping down the stairs and past the kitchen, where his father and mother were doing stuff he'd rather not see, and tiptoed out the front door, peeking around carefully. The cold, bitter air of the night had no effect on him now, after all, he'd lived in South Park for all of his life. His watchful eyes scanned the surrounding area as he closed the door behind himself, looking out for any creepy perverts hiding in the bushes. You never could tell.

He shivered, biting his lip anxiously. Not only did the darkness hide any lurking perverts, but which way was Craig's house? And he'd thought he'd had an idea before...He danced on his toes, mumbling shiveringly to himself.

"Sweet Jesus, w-which way...that way, n-no -ngh- argh, I can't remember!" Finally he gave up, reluctantly peeking back into his house. He didn't want to, but... "M-mom? Dad?"

There was a giggle and a 'hush' from the kitchen, and his mother's voice floated toward him. "Yes, honey?"

"Where's -erk- C-Craig's house?"


Tweek hesitated nervously. "C-Craig Tucker. Um, h-he wears a blue hat a-and he's really tall..."

"Oh, him! Just go to your right down the street and it's the one right before the street ends. It's yellow."

"Thanks..." Tweek closed the door again and dashed down to the sidewalk, peering around. Okay, just go and then...well, he'd think about what to do when he got there. The blond jogged in the direction of Craig's house, thinking now that the path did seem a bit familiar. His thermos bounced in his hand and Tweek wondered in worry if he should have strapped it to his waist or something. God only knew with what, but maybe he should look into that. It seemed like a potentially good idea, and besides, no more falling coffee! Yippee!

Tweek's eyes saw the yellow house right before the end of the street and almost sighed. Good, this little trip was almost over. Then he froze, terrified. Oh great, he still had to knock on the door and everything!

Tripping feet slowly ascended the front steps and Tweek hesitated in front of the closed front door, wondering if he should knock. There was only a small chance that Craig would be the one to answer, but the chance was still there! What if he really did answer? Sweet Lord, what if he slammed the door in Tweek's face like Tweek had done to him and then accidentally broke his nose and left him to drown in a pool of bloody blood?

Tweek let loose a string of anxious squeaks, fear making his voice go too high for anyone to clearly register the "Oh God oh God oh God oh God..." that the squeaks had actually been.

He peered down at the binder in his hands, thinking frantically. Then he saw the floor. An idea hit him. He could just leave the bonder there, ring the doorbell, and run like hell! Then he wouldn't have to face Craig at all! Yeah! Dear Lord, he was a genius! Tweek beamed happily and bent down to sit on his haunches, sweeping away stray dirt and leaves from where he planned to leave the binder. No sense in making the binder dirty or anything. He carefully placed the binder down, patted it once and stood up, quickly pushing the doorbell. Then he turned to run like hell—

and bumped into a wall of deep midnight blue. Tweek shrieked as he came into contact, bouncing back and looking up...straight into the face of Craig Tucker. Again.

A million thoughts ran through his head at that point, but the main one being, 'He knows! He followed me, sweet Jesus, he's gonna kill me! He's gonna chop me up into little tiny pieces and feed them to his guinea pig so no one knows what happened to me and I'll DIE!'

"ARRGH!" Tweek instinctively punched Craig in the face and ran screaming home.

Tweek wandered the dark grounds of school before the first bell, ridiculously early again. Peering anxiously around the shadows, he wondered miserably if he should just take the bus. The stinging fluttering of his heart in the thick crowd of the vehicle had to be better than the hurting, thumping pain his chest felt as he wandered around in desperate fear. Not that it even mattered.

He didn't even want to go to school today.

The blond had already bidden his most beloved things goodbye in the morning: he'd kissed his laptop, burst into tears over his coffeemaker, and told both of his parents he loved them. Not that they—his parents—knew the real reason he'd said it and simply accepted it with smiles and hugs and assurances that they loved him too, but it made Tweek feel better to do it. He walked around in resignation, despairing of the fact that he was going to die today.

He couldn't even afford a lawyer! He'd checked too, and that was way over his price range...Tweek sniffled miserably, wiping away a lonely tear. He'd wanted to do so many things in his life...invent twenty new coffee flavors, go to a Justin Beiber concert, participate in a cross-country car race, go to space and see the moon peek over the Earth! Okay, well, not really, he didn't really have much planned for his life, but it wasn't like he wanted to die or anything!

Tweek peered inside of his thermos and sipped at his coffee, pondering over his decision. With Craig surely coming to kill him now, he wondered about everything. Should he have come to school? What if he had just stayed home? Then he'd be comfortable when Craig came to kill him for punching him in the face. But he couldn't do that, because then his parents would get involved and then they'd die too, and besides, if he went to school, then there would be witnesses and it'd be a lot harder for Craig to come kill him horribly. It was a delusional way to try to survive, but Tweek wasn't a fan of pain and death, much less of anything to come kill his parents, so he dealt with the fear of the lonely school in the morning...

A thought struck him and he froze.

Hadn't he seen Craig here in the morning? Three days ago, when he'd almost tripped over him? Didn't that mean Craig came super early too?


Tweek paled, almost dropping his coffee as the realization hit him. Craig was on these very grounds, hungering for Tweek's blood, and here he was alone, with no one around. Sweet God, he'd just made it easier for Craig to come and KILL HIM!

Tweek screamed, running off in a random direction, unsure of where he wanted to go, but knowing it had to be away from the spot he was just in, because surely Craig had been watching him now as he thought the very thoughts he was thinking. After a tiring moment, he slowed and stopped, finding himself in the middle of the very dark and lonely portables, where the only thing he could hear was the chirp of crickets. He sighed, wiping the sweat from his forehead as his feet plodded along, too accustomed to the ingrained reflex of moving to avoid vulnerable stillness to stop. Tweek peeked up curiously at a portable and the steps leading up to the door that hovered four feet off the ground.

These things seemed lonely enough. He could stay here and not come across anyone until the first bell rang. Hmmm, this wouldn't be such a bad place to claim the steps to one and make them his own little spot. It wasn't like anyone would complain. And besides, Tweek reasoned slightly happier now, there wasn't any chance that Craig could find him here, in the loneliness that reigned here. There absolutely no wa—

He rounded the corner, and a squeak froze in his throat.

Craig Tucker was sitting on the steps to one such lonely portable, seemingly sleeping, but his head raised as Tweek's footsteps shuffled to a terrified stop on the dewy grass, and their eyes met.

Tweek's breathing stopped completely, and Craig just stared at him; from here it looked like his eyes were completely black. And was Tweek's imagination, or was he grinning? Was that mask stretching tighter, more crookedly, teeth growing sharper?

Was he waiting to pounce?

Tweek didn't wait to find out, he turned and ran, scampering away as fast as his trembling legs could take him. His lungs seized in shortened burst, depriving him of air as he ran from his fear. Tweek wanted to cry; he'd never been so afraid for his life before.

Finally he stopped and looked back, and it amazed him that Craig wasn't following him, right on his heels to snap up his soul or something. Tweek clenched his hands, bringing up his thermos to take a grateful sip he wasn't dead and...came up with nothing. His thermos was gone. Tweek shrieked in shock, the sound going unheard in the emptiness as he turned around frantically, searching the ground around him for the missing gourd of life. There was nothing, he had lost it.

Tweek yanked at his hair in terrified silence, too shocked to say anything. What happened to it, where had it gone? Instantly Tweek flashed back to his terrifying meet with Craig and the color was leeched from his face as he hit upon the realization.

He had dropped it. He had dropped it back there and now Craig had it.

The blond went over to the nearest wall and sank down to the ground, starting to cry, because now he had no coffee, no pretty silver-green thermos, and he was certain Craig wasn't gonna give it back.

Tweek thought his heart was breaking.

A twittery blond stared at the clock of his third period class, his heart fluttering weakly in his chest as his fingers tangled in circles in his hair.

He was lonely.

Tweek never knew how lonely he could get without his thermos, after all, it was only a thermos. But it seemed he had been more attached to it than he had known, and now his felt a pang in his heart as he thought about where it was at. He buried his head in his arms, feeling tears prickle his eyes again. He wanted his thermos had coffee in it and it was his precious green and silver leaf one...he had made memories with that one!

Sadness clung to his every bone, and all Tweek wanted to do was go home and sleep, or at the very least curl up somewhere and cry again. He didn't care now that Craig was most likely coming to kill him, what did it matter? It felt like his best friend was gone.

He'd never felt so lethargic before in his entire life...Tweek wondered if even this should be affecting him this much but tossed it out of his mind. Of course he should feel this way, he was lonely! He gave a tiny sniffle in the circle of his arms and swallowed, feeling the dryness in his throat. He hadn't had coffee in so long...this was the longest he'd gone without coffee in about four years and he missed the hot feeling, the sweet taste of the drink he so loved.

His heart fluttered again and Tweek felt so tired, just purely lonely and miserable. He didn't think he could wait enough to get home and get one of his back-up thermoses, and besides, how could he ever replace his favorite one?

The bell rang for next class and Tweek reluctantly got up, feeling even weaker than before. His movements seemed so much slower to himself as he picked up his things and started to walk toward the door, missing the safe and comforting feeling of his thermos in his hands.

He was just within reach of the door amongst the others of his class, when the debilitating feeling got worse and his vision swam in black, and he was unconscious before he even hit the floor.

A warm, soothing scent prickled his nose and Tweek moaned, curling up tighter in his sheets. He could smell coffee, all nice and reassuring, right beyond his reach and his eyes fluttered open as his hands clenched in anticipation of the delicious treat.

The warm tones of his room met his half-blurred eyes and Tweek yawned, feeling both well-rested and weak as he sat up. A dizzy feeling struck him and he gripped the bed for support, looking over. A gently steaming cup of coffee lay on his bedside table and he gratefully picked it up, breathing in the delicious fumes before taking a quick sip. It had to be one of his parents who had done this kind gesture for him, and he wondered vaguely why they hadn't given it to him in his thermos.

Another curious sip and suddenly a tremendous feeling hit Tweek in the head: both realization and memories hit him at once, and he shrieked, jolting in his bed. A warmth spread over his lap and Tweek realized he'd spilled about half of the precious coffee on his covers; he whimpered at the unnecessary loss before gulping down the rest.

He remembered the aching feeling of loss, the debilitating tiredness, and the fact that he still didn't have his thermos. And although he still felt sad, he felt nowhere close to that lonely weakness he had felt in class. Truth hit him and Tweek felt like slapping himself. Had he really drunk so much coffee over the years that he'd forgotten what a caffeine crash felt like?

Tweek got up, legs still slightly shaky as he waited for the caffeine to pick him up to his normal levels. Wobbling over to his coffeemaker, he turned it on, measuring coffee grounds and water from the jug he kept by it, then waiting the necessary minutes for the coffee to come into being, pouring himself another cup and fixing it with sugar and creamy milk, just like he liked it.

He sipped at it, moving to open the door and go downstairs. How long had he been asleep? Was it still the same day? He froze in his tracks. Had Craig killed his parents yet? He rushed downstairs, risking life and limb to skip steps as he almost crashed to the ground, stumbling and luckily regaining his balance. His parents peeked out from the living room, and his mother rushed forward.

"Oh, my baby's all awake now! How're you feeling sweetie?" She hugged him lightly and Tweek ventured a smile. They were okay.

"O-okay, I guess..." His dad came forward and loomed over him, a stern expression on his face.

"Tweek, what have I told you about going without coffee? Crashes are dangerous, you worried your mother and I!"

Tweek blinked in surprise. His dad must have been really worried; he wasn't even speaking in metaphors today. He lowered his head, feeling slightly ashamed. "Sorry..."

His father patted his head, smoothing over the soft ends of his yellow spikes. "It's alright."

The blond's heart stuttered wonderfully, and Tweek basked in the feeling of his parent's concern. They were strange and definitely abnormal, that was for sure, but it was really good to know they were there for him if he was ever in trouble. Suddenly his father spoke up.

"Say, where's your thermos, Tweek? We couldn't find it when we went to pick you up."

Tweek froze, remembering where it was, and hesitated, venturing out a lie. "Um, I-I must have -ngh- l-left it...i-in the classroom..." He prayed they accepted it.

"Ah, okay. Just make sure you pick it up as soon as you can, okay?"

"Okay." Tweek nodded obediently and then retreated back to his room, sipping coffee from his cup.

What was he going to do now? His thermos was being kept hostage by someone he had no inclination to see ever again! Tweek tugged anxiously on his hair, at a loss about what to do next. He wasn't going to go to Craig's house again, there was no way he'd suffer through that again. But he couldn't just abandon his beloved thermos to the hands of that person, no matter what. It was his friend, after all, as sad as it might seem to someone else. He had to rescue it!

Tweek's scalp gave a twinge as he tugged on his hair again, very close to a panic attack. Was there any chance that Craig would return it himself? Would he drop it off at Tweek's house or search him out and hand it to him in the early hours of the school day? He gnawed on his cup anxiously. Maybe if Tweek hadn't freaked out when he'd returned the binder, if he hadn't punched Craig, then maybe he could have thought that Craig would have returned it easily, but not now. He would be lucky if Craig didn't explode it into a million pieces or something. Tweek paled. Oh God, what if he did explode it into a million pieces? No!

He slurped up the remainder of his coffee, his mind buzzing in worry. He really wanted it back though...looking at his clock and the date it announced, he discovered it was still the same day, although now eight at night. It was dark outside...he really wasn't going to venture out to Craig's house now, he valued his innocent chastity too much to brave the old man perverts that were surely lurking out there.

Damn perverts...

He glanced at the clock, then nervously at his window. He wasn't going to get it back tonight, that was for sure. Sighing, he resigned himself to bring out a temporary replacement from his closet until he found a way to get his favorite one back.

Tweek hurried to his next class, slurping coffee as he went. He hated the feeling of a new thermos rim, it didn't feel right. He missed his old one. But he couldn't think about that right now, he had to get to class.

Once there, Tweek sat down in his seat in the back, playing absently with his thermos, a shiny scarlet orange one that was his second favorite. But it wasn't his favorite favorite. Tweek had wandered the school grounds fearfully in the morning, this time actually looking for Craig, so maybe he could plead and get his thermos back by some miracle of chance. But somehow this time he never found him, even when he checked in the most lonely corners of the school he could find.

What if he never got his thermos back? Tweek nibbled his fingertips, wondering if Craig felt this desperate when Tweek had his binder. No, of course not, that guy never got fazed by anything. Unlike Tweek of course, who was now freaking out over a single thermos, even when he had multiple others waiting for use in his closet.

What could he do now? He didn't know where any of Craig's classes were, or where he hung out, or anything! Even though he didn't want to meet with him, there was no choice. He would face his fear, if only for his thermos, and it would be today. Because he really didn't want to go to his house all alone.

Tweek had a hard time keeping with his resolution, though, seeing as he had no flippin' idea where in the world Craig was. The class ended with no new solutions, and Tweek was left to wander down to the cafeteria for lunch, sad and depressed over the loss of his pretty thermos. He sat in his usual table, pulling out the slice of Hersey's chocolate cheesecake he'd grabbed from his dad's store and sighed, taking a bite moodily. He could feel tears prickling in his eyes again...

He had a few peaceful moments eating before he started to get an itchy feeling, like a prickling at the edges of his consciousness. He squirmed, unsure of what it was, then looked up, staring out into the masses of people talking and eating their food. Then his eyes met the one solitary, dark, dark pair that stared at him like razors from the crowd and he froze, feeling very much like a deer in the proverbial headlights.

Craig Tucker was staring at him from across the cafeteria.

Tweek didn't know what to do, he felt himself tremble violently as he stared back, feeling as if his very eyes were being held by some invisible force and made to meet Craig's. He clutched his thermos tighter, quailing within himself. What did he want? Tweek shivered at the thought that maybe he still wanted to kill him and leave him mangled and bloody on the metaphorical valley of death, which would really be anywhere that he chose to kill him. But really? Would he do that? In front of so many witnesses?

Would anyone care? Or try to stop him?

The blond felt his breath stay stuck in his lungs, unable to breathe as his fingers tightened more and more on his thermos, feeling quite dizzy with fear. Then all of a sudden his fingers slipped and his thermos popped from his hands, tipping over and spilling most of his coffee on the table surface. He leapt up, squealing as he broke eye contact and scrambling to right his thermos, finally stopping the last bits from dripping out. He felt a chill run down his spine and he looked up, terrified and feeling very much that when he focused, Craig would be right in front of him, like one of those creepy horror movies.

Craig wasn't there like he feared, but he was getting up from his solitary table, and as Tweek watched, walked calmly away and out of one of the double doors of the cafeteria. Tweek was left there, stunned and wondering what had just happened.

Then a thought struck him. Sweet Jesus, what if Craig had decided to bomb the entire building? And here he was, sitting like an idiot. Tweek shrieked loud enough to shatter lightbulbs and definitely turn heads, but he didn't care, he was already running through the aisles and out of the side doors into the empty courtyard. Glancing around in a circle with wide, freaked-out eyes, he searched for any sign of the terrorist bomber, Craig, then turned to run away from the impending explosion...

and predictably, ran into a wall of deep midnight blue.

He had whirled around so fast he actually lost his balance at this sudden contact, falling on his ass to the hard concrete below. He shrieked for a split second before he realized who it was that he had run into. He looked up to the looming form of Craig Tucker. And all the color ran from his face like watercolors off a plastic dish. The deadly raven bent down and Tweek reacted, flinching away and holding the replacement thermos in front of him like some shining silver shield that would protect him, hiding his head on the other side as his eyes screwed shut.

Tweek held his breath as he trembled, waiting for the moment his life would end and he squeaked as a strong hand pulled the thermos from his hand, leaving him clutching empty air. His heart stuttered in fear and he trembled even further, mind racing. Craig had just stolen another thermos! he wanted to leave him bereft of any comfort whatsoever before death, and at the thought Tweek felt tears prickle his eyes, crossing his arms in front of him as a last protection.

All of a sudden he felt something touch his right hand and he cringed, waiting for a knife cut, gunshot, something to kill him, but got nothing in return. And there was still the slight pressure on his hand. After a tense moment, Tweek shuddered and plucked up enough courage to peek up, hoping beyond all hope he wouldn't be staring into the barrel of a gun or something.

Instead he saw metallic green, and a light pattern of silver leaves peering right back at him. It took a moment for Tweek to realize what he was seeing, but then it hit him and he reached out a shaking hand, fearfully grasping his most favorite thermos. It was real, it was there, and he took it away from Craig's hand carefully, and the raven let him. Tweek held it close and registered the familiar empty weight, the light scent of coffee that it held to itself, no matter how many times you washed it. A shuffled sound caught his attention and Tweek looked up to see Craig handing him the other orange thermos, letting him have it as easily as the other one.

He stared up at Craig and his mask, then down at both of his precious thermoses, here in his hands, and suddenly he felt this overflowing feeling hit him, like he had just rediscovered a long lost friend or a beloved brother that had been missing. Tweek burst out in tears, bawling like some small child as he held them close to his chest, still sitting on the dirty ground. He cried for a little while, feeling happier than he had in a long time and then finally got control of himself, realizing with a start that Craig had just seen him cry. He blushed; how embarrassing.

Tweek looked up, his face still red, and then gave a start, looking around in surprise.

Craig Tucker was gone.

The bed had never felt so warm and safe as the moment in which he lay in it now, and Tweek cuddled into it gratefully, holding his green and silver thermos to his chest. It was late at night and he was curled up in his own little corner of quiet, a.k.a. his room, and Tweek was feeling like his chi was at harmony with the world...he really didn't know if the world had any chi, but whatever. He was feeling good.

The clock hit 3:33 and suddenly Tweek heard his door creak open in the darkness, then the patter of little feet and shit-eating giggles. He waited until they came closer then struck, lunging up with a war cry and throwing his pillow in the direction of the sounds.

A muffled curse and a couple of 'ow's came, and Tweek threw another pillow, this time loaded with his extra thermoses. This one made a dent and there were squeals and more curses, and a mushroom hit Tweek in the head. He squeaked and fell back, but it was over, the gnomes were retreating; he heard their calls and running feet and they were gone again, the door closed and it was silent again.

Tweek got up to switch on his lights and picked up his pillows, feeling very satisfied with himself. Ever since he had given up on sleep a while back, he was finding himself more than a match for those stupid gnomes. He shook his fist at the door.

"Ha! T-take that!"

And with that satisfying line he went back to his bed, cuddling his thermos again. He just couldn't get enough of it, it was so pretty and just his absolute favorite. It was actually literally his best friend. He didn't talk to it or anything insane like that but it held this feeling of comfort to it that he loved beyond all measure.

It was a wonder Craig hadn't used it for blackmail or anything.

Tweek rolled onto his back, taking a thoughtful sip from his thermos as he thought further on this. He was still surprised. He had relinquished the precious object so easily, so carelessly back into Tweek's possession, and the blond felt a prickling of shame as he thought about how hard it was for him in contrast to have given the binder back to its rightful owner.

He bit his lip hesitantly, staring at his thermos. Now he knew Craig wasn't bad, he very clearly wasn't. What kind of an evil person would give him his things back so easily? Not unless he had some ulterior plan to win over his trust and then drug him and STEAL HIS ORGANS, but he didn't think that was very likely. At least, he hoped not.

But Craig couldn't be too evil. Tweek shook his head resolutely, accepting the sure fact. The mask was nothing more than that, a mask, and Tweek had let the fear blind him to the fact that Craig was an okay guy. Of course, he was still scared of the damned black thing, because it was creepy and scary and he didn't like it, but now that fear would be tempered by the fact that he knew better about the person who wore it. Who knew what reason Craig wore that terrifying thing, but! He would be scared no longer.

Tweek slurped some more coffee and huggled his thermos again. If he could, he'd tell Craig thank you for returning it so quickly.

Another dark morning, another early walk around campus and Tweek warily peered around corners and shadows, his senses on high alert. He found a quiet little dark corner and rushed toward it, sitting down with his back to the wall and hurriedly slurping his hot drink.

It had been two weeks since Craig had returned his precious friend, and Tweek hadn't seen him since. Not in the mornings, although he hadn't made much of an effort to seek him out, seeing as he was still wary of the sight of that demonic grin, or even in the cafeteria. They had discovered rats in there—as if that had taken anyone by surprise—and now they were all forced to take their lunch outside in the courtyard, as well as bring in their own to feed themselves. Tweek hadn't much minded, and he'd quickly scouted out a corner for himself to sit down away from the crowds and partake in his small lunches.

So he hadn't had much of a chance to see Craig. And by now, Tweek had fallen back into his old pattern of merely living day by day; he didn't really think back on the raven too much. He slurped his coffee, thinking about whether or not he had passed that test from yesterday in his English class. He was certain he had, he had studied the passage it was on for a long time before responding to the questions.

He was just thinking about pulling out his little LED light and a book to read from his backpack when something caught his eye, making him look up.

Craig Tucker, the now nice guy in his opinion, was walking down the little sidewalk between buildings, about twelve feet in front of Tweek. The blond was startled, and all of a sudden he remembered the happenings of two weeks ago. He debated as to whether or not to call out to him, because after all, Tweek might like him better, but that didn't mean Craig thought he was his friend or anything, and what if he got him mad and he went after his life again? Tweek squeaked at the thought but brought himself quickly under control, reaching up to tug at his blond locks. Before he could think better of it, he called out nervously.

"H-hey, Craig!"

The raven stopped and looked around, quickly spotting the half-hidden Tweek. The blond repressed a shiver as he saw the toothy grin and sharp eyes that bore into his very soul, but shyly raised a hand, giving Craig a hesitant little wave. Craig stared back for a moment then raised a hand in acknowledgment, turning and continuing on his way.

Tweek gave himself a tiny smile and an imaginary pat on the back for a job well done. At least now, he could say he hadn't run away.

Quick, crowded, shuffled feet, lots of noises and the sickly smell of ill-made food surrounded Tweek; just another lunch time in the cafeteria. He was thinking about this morning, how he'd said 'hi' to Craig and the other had said 'hi' back, in his own silent way. Maybe he could stick close to Craig in the mornings. If he had someone to hang out with in the mornings, then there'd be less of a chance he'd be attacked by wandering perverts, or psycho serial killers who jumped from shadowy corners. And if zombies came, then certainly Craig wouldn't just let him die; he was a good guy, right? Right, he had proof now, through his own experience!

Tweek nibbled his double-fudge brownie, wondering how to go about such a thing. How could he hang out with Craig in the morning without the other getting pissed off and beating the crap outta him? Hmm, such a puzzling dilemma...

As he was pondering this, he became aware of a commotion going on at the far end of the courtyard, and he perked his head up, staring curiously at the huge crowd that had formed about thirty feet in front of him.

All of a sudden people scattered, and Tweek could see a figure on the ground where the people had been at, and...was that Craig standing over that fallen figure? He thought it was and now administrators swooped down on what surely had been a fight—or more of an ass-whooping now that he saw the clearly unconscious poor bastard lying on the ground—and grab Craig harshly, leading him away. Others helped the other person up and led him in the direction of the clinic. Guess this killed his plan to hang out with Craig in the morning. What had caused the argument anyway?

Tweek looked around now and saw that the courtyard was empty; everyone had scattered to go back to class early. Then the deputy caught sight of him and in no kind terms told him to scram.

Tweek scampered off.

Craig had been suspended for four days, seeing as this time, the other person was still well enough to walk and go to school. Tweek saw him once. It was a senior, someone a full year older than Craig and Tweek, but still sporting a black eye and a face that looked like it'd run into a meat grinder. He could only imagine what he looked like under his jacket.

Tweek passed the following days contemplating if it was still safe for him to try out his friendship plan with Craig. Maybe he would get his ass kicked as well, he didn't know. His body twinged and ached every time he thought about it happening. Craig was a nice guy, but even he had his limits. As could be testified by that senior's face. But maybe if he played dead after a couple of hits Craig would leave him alone or something. But what if he broke a bone or smashed his face in and left him to drown in his own blood?

He shuddered at the very thought, then drank more coffee.

It was a Friday when Craig came back, and Tweek had decided to give his plan a try, risking both life, limb and face to put it into action. He slunk along the dark outside of the school, quivering as he examined the darkness for any lurking ravens. There wasn't any certainty he would find him this morning, or even at all; maybe Craig had just decided that going to school just before the weekend began was a pointless waste of his time and he'd stayed home.

It still didn't hurt to try to look for him anyway...Tweek tiptoed around, slurping coffee out of one thermos and trying to juggle the other in his grip without drinking from it accidentally. Yes, he had two thermoses with him now, but it was for a reason. He planned to offer the second one, his second favorite scarlet orange one, to Craig as a sort of peace offering, and in the hopeful attempt that it would deter the raven from beating him up and leaving him to die. Otherwise he would have to play dead, and he didn't think he was quite good at that yet, even though he had practiced at it all though the last four days.

After about twenty minutes Tweek gave up, sighing and looking around for a relatively safe corner to hide in and drink coffee that was meant for two people, not one. He sat down in the first corner he saw and stayed there quietly, feeling all the miserable-ness of a failed plan. He had just resigned himself to drinking his coffee alone, when a sight caught his eye and he looked up.

And lo behold, there was Craig Tucker himself, walking carelessly with a sort of aloof confidence down the darkness of the outside, as if he didn't fear cannibals or CIA agents jumping out at him. He probably didn't; that was just Tweek and his overactive mind. But anyway, there he was!

Tweek called out to him quickly, before he left.


The raven's eyes instantly found him, and again Tweek felt the twinge of uncomfortableness as he looked at the bared fake teeth. He found himself more than a little shy now—he'd never asked anyone to sit with him and drink coffee before—and he raised a timid hand, waving shyly.

Craig looked at him and again raised his hand in a silent gesture, then turned to leave. Tweek felt the flutter of disappointment in his chest and he hurriedly called out again, unwillingly to see him leave so easily.


The raven stopped, and Tweek could see the expectant look in his eyes, his face being hidden by his hair and mask. Tweek hesitated, then meekly lifted the orange thermos for the raven to see, giving him a shaky, timid smile.

", w-would you -nhhh- l-like some coffee?"

Craig stared at him for a second, and Tweek was afraid that he'd just plain out refuse or get angry for reason because he actually HATED coffee or something...but none of that happened. Instead, the raven looked at him for another moment, then walked toward him, sitting down next to him and stretching out his hand for the coffee-filled thermos.

Tweek had to repress a shiver as he stared at the mask full on, and he looked down as he handed Craig his designated thermos, keeping his eyes down on the ground as he sipped at his coffee nervously.

He had never had someone sit so close to him before, much less anyone this nice and silent and dangerous. Tweek could feel Craig there, right by his side, and he sipped more at his coffee, anxious and shy in the silence. He couldn't believe he was actually doing this. He couldn't believe he was sitting next to Craig Tucker.

After a moment of silence, Tweek noticed something. Craig wasn't drinking the coffee. He paled, wondering if he had accidentally made that one taste horribly. He squeaked, catching Craig's attention.

"Jesus! You're n-not drinking it! Gah, d-does it taste bad? Is it horrible?" Tweek grabbed Craig by the shoulders, shaking him. "Do you hate coffee?" Then he caught sight of that horrible, frightful mask and was suddenly reminded of that one day in the cafeteria that he'd seen him, sitting all alone and not eating anything. Was it the mask? Did he really not want to take it off? "Oh! W-wait, ngh, I-I know!" He lunged around in the other direction, scrabbling inside of his backpack for a second before finding what he was searching for. Tweek held it up proudly: a bendy straw. He shoved it in Craig's face, happy that he'd found a solution. "H-here!"

Craig stared at him, face blank, and Tweek felt a tremor of fear run through him. Did he manage to piss off Craig Tucker? The guy who could quite possibly be the most dangerous in the entire school? Was he going to be murdered in HORRIBLE, BLOODY WAYS? Tweek cringed, holding the straw like a shield—a sucky shield—praying to God he wouldn't die. "Please d-don't hurt me."

The raven made a noise that almost sounded like a scoff, reaching forward and plucking the straw delicately from Tweek's trembling fingers. Then he popped it in the thermos and slid the bendy part underneath the mask, and soon Tweek heard a slight 'shhlrt, shhlrt' sucking sound come from the straw.

Tweek was relieved, not only that he wasn't going to be murdered brutally in the middle of a dark and lonely school, but also because he hadn't managed to piss off Craig Tucker. He sat there, feeling slightly calmer, and thought that he had chosen the right thing when he had decided to try to befriend Craig.

After a few moments of silent slurping, Tweek found his curiosity perking its poisonous little head up. It planted a tiny little seed in his rampaging head that never shut up, and soon Tweek was bursting at the seams with questions he wanted to ask. Why had he gotten into that fight? Was he lonely at lunch? Why did he come so early in the mornings? Why hadn't he killed Tweek when he had the binder? And why oh why, did he wear that scary mask? He squirmed for a while, casting diffident, surreptitious glances over at the raven while sipping at his coffee, and then he couldn't help it anymore, he opened his mouth to try to ask something and—

Craig turned to look at him, his eyes cool and warning. Tweek flushed and looked down again, swallowing his questions with another sip of liquid. His courage failed him, shriveling into a tiny little nub that hid inside him and didn't want to come out. He could ask later. Yeah, besides, he didn't want to put Craig off with too many questions. No, that would be bad...

"Thanks." Tweek looked up in surprise at the strange voice and an empty thermos fell into his lap at the same time Craig stood up and dusted himself off, taking a few steps away from the blond. Tweek's surprise faded into a sort of letdown; had he done enough to assure that Craig was at least somewhat of an acquaintance now? He wasn't sure, but he couldn't just leave it, so he stood up, clutching his thermos nervously.

"Um, C-Craig?"

The other turned to look at him and Tweek asked him hesitantly, " -ngh- w-wanna drink c-c-coffee tomorrow?"

From what Tweek could see of Craig's face, he looked slightly surprised. Then he responded with a shrug and a "Sure" before he was off on his own path again.

Tweek was left alone to ponder what kind of coffee flavor he should bring tomorrow, and over the strangeness of hearing Craig's voice again after years of not hearing it properly and just about forgetting it. How strange for him, to hear it now. There wasn't much special about it, but he had at some point lost that nasal tilt to it, and instead gained a sort of deepness to it that hit guys after puberty—but skimped on horribly when it came to Tweek, sadly—and it fit Tweek's image of the badass Craig Tucker perfectly.

So he congratulated himself for a job well done and sat down again to finished his coffee in peace.

A/N: So this website is messing up all my centering and exclamation points on my previous works...I swear Tension isn't as good now as it was...IT SUCKS! But anyway, this is just something that popped into my head a couple days ago, so I decided to try it out xDDDDD. Don't worry, I'm not abandoning Steal My Heart, for those of your who're reading it...

And I had such a hard time making up a title for this...*sobs* I'll write more and upload HUGE chapters xDDD yay for you, not so much for me. Tell me what you think, plz! Reviews are love!