In the parking lot we found Craig resting with his chair reclined, arms over his face to block out the dimming light. I wanted to ponder on how nice he looked with his torso stretched out like it was, but I couldn't manage to formulate any sensible thoughts because all I could stare at was the elongated expanse of his bare chest. He was wearing a flannel, but it wasn't buttoned, and the way he had his arms raised caused the sides of his shirt to slip away from his flesh.

His ribcage was prominent when he inhaled, and his skin was so pale in the dusty light that his happy trail had collected shadows, standing out stark. Staring enraptured, I couldn't understand how that had been what my own had pressed against the other night. I felt like I'd been cheated because those stupid lights had been off the entire time. This was what my eyes had missed. Fuck.

From behind me came, "Someone's looking fuckable today, aren't they?"

Jolting, a shriek flew from my mouth, cut off unexpectedly as I threw my hand across my lips and elbowed Kenny in the ribs with the other. Even as he keeled over, he was laughing. In his car, Craig spread his elbows to glance through them and out the window. Thomas waved sweetly and I wanted to bite his fingers off.

Sitting up, Craig rolled his window down just a touch and requested his smoothie through the slot. Glaring at his antic, I slid it through and asked Kenny, "How the h-hell did you get down here so fast, dude?"

"I was over at Scoot's house," he explained, collecting me against his chest where he attacked my hair with fingers. "It's literally just down the street." I tried to swat him away but he was insistent, knocking my head around between his hands like it was the most entertaining thing in the world.

"Your drug dealer?" Craig asked, having rolled his window down the rest of the way.

So Kenny was on drugs. That explained everything. "Yes sir," he answered, smiling against the back of my head. "Gunna party soon and you're all invited."

"You might not want to extend that privilege to Tweek," Thomas warned. I rolled my eyes as though he were exaggerating the circumstance, but it was true.

"Why's that?" Craig asked, smirking. I was positive he'd formulated a multitude of reasons in his head. All of them must've been ridiculously enthusing for his eyes were glinting like sparkling, frothy lakes. I wondered if he was pondering the right one.

"Tweek's a belligerent drunk," Kenny answered.

Quickly cutting in, I said, "I'm not belligerent."

But Thomas was in agreement with Kenny. Craig's smile was a mixture of surprise and disbelief.

The farthest I got in my attempt to redeem my drunken self was "I don't—"

Kenny cut me off with: "He has an array of emotional responses too. One time he cried all night and passed out holding my bed post. Another time he got so angry we had to lock him in the bathroom where he talked to himself all night and cleaned the shit out of my bathtub. And then the next morning he remembered absolutely nothing."

"D-Don't forget how fun I am!" They were only mentioning the embarrassing parts. I didn't want Craig to think I couldn't be a belligerently fun drunk. "Like that t-time I got everyone to play that card game where you s-stick it to your forehead. Everybody loved that game!"

Thomas and Kenny told Craig to ignore me and he did just so, slurping his smoothie amusedly. "Okay, then." Pushing and ducking out of Kenny's embrace, I said, "Looks like it's time to go."

Saying bye to Thomas had been the hardest, because while he was whispering vulgar things about Craig into my ear, I was trying so hard not to let him see the variety of emotions I couldn't manage to rein in on my face. All at the same time I wanted to cover my best friend's eyes, jump that ridiculously good-looking man in his car, punch him for teasing me purposefully, punch him again for unconsciously encouraging Thomas, and I couldn't seem to control myself so I quickly stowed away into Craig's car, refusing to watch as Thomas made him get out so that they could hug.

I returned Craig's smoothie when he got back in, and as he started slurping, he spoke around the straw and a mouthful of purple. "What's going on between you and Thomas?"

If I told you, then I don't know what would happen. You might switch me out for him. "I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to talk about him." Leaning toward Craig, I reached out and daintily plucked open the neck of his flannel. As the hickey was revealed, I said, "I might've t-told Thomas that Red gave you that."

"She did," Craig admitted with a wink. "That scandalous whore."

My smile was appreciative. Perhaps the worst wasn't about to happen.


Craig spent the entire ride back to his house trying to scare me by speeding through yellow lights, making random U turns, nearly getting us lost, and even succeeded in fucking with Stan and Kyle at the Burger King drive-through. At one point he tried to get me to agree to let him run a red light so he could make a stupid face when the camera got him.

He got angry when I wouldn't let him.

When we arrived at his house, he warned, "Ruby has a couple of her friends over. They've been hoarding in the living room and kitchen. I'm not sure if we'll make it up to my room." Getting out in unison, we made it around the front of his car where he added, "I had to tear one of their heads off as I left. There might still be blood on the floor."

"You're a nerd. You know that, right?" I snorted, following him up the steps toward the front door. It was strange how familiar his house was to me. I could show up and open the door without having to knock now, not that I ever did.

"Your friend is going to get fucked. You know that, right?" We slipped inside to which I was ashamed to admit that I looked on the floor just in case there was literally some blood.

Nodding, I said, "That's his plan."

"Does he have sex with Kenny often?" Craig asked, looking over his shoulder before we reached the kitchen. I nodded my head a second time. "And you just never felt up for a round with him? Or Thomas?" That first question was reasonable, something that I could accept just fine. It was the second that caught me off guard and had me staring incredulously at the the niorette as he opened the freezer to retrieve a half empty bottle of vodka. "Can't trust my sister," he explained in short.

"And I suppose you're going to tell me that you and Clyde frequent each other's beds, also?" A joke. That's all I meant it as, but the way Craig smirked. . . I just—what?

He started off toward the stairs leading to his room, calling out something about the rest is yours. "W-Wait!" I called, hurrying after him, practically chomping down on his heels and completely missing the group of ease dropping girls loitering around the living room. Their eyes followed us but I didn't even notice. "What was that smirk supposed to mean, dude?"

There was no answer until we got inside his room, and by then, my impatience was unbelievably thin. Twisting off the lid, he said, "Clyde and I have had some pretty close encounters. That's all." He started laughing at my hanging jaw, bringing the bottle to his lips as he did so. I imagined the vile taste of the alcohol and internally winced when he swallowed without a chaser.

"Close encounters?" I repeated, expecting an explanation. He offered me a sip; I shook my head.

"Yeah, dude. Sometimes when we're drunk or on drugs it just happens. For being 'straight', Clyde's—" My eyes bulged and I quickly covered my ears, screaming to effectively block out whatever Craig was about to spill. His laughter turned into an obnoxious torrent. "Jealous?" He asked when my hands eventually dropped.

"God, no." It was impossible for me to ever be jealous of Clyde or Token. They had their place with Craig and that was that. "I'm. . ." A word wasn't coming fast enough. Brushing my hair from my forehead I said, "I have no idea. This is so weird." I had to spin around in an attempt to even myself out, and by then, Craig had found a seat on his bed. "I would never touch Thomas. Kissing him would be one thing but—what did you say? For being straight, Clyde's what?"

He grinned at me. "Are you sure you're ready to hear this?" My pointed stare only inspired his stubbornness. By that point I wished I'd just listened the first time. "I don't want to scare you off or anything." Dropping the bag in my hand for emphasis to reassure him that I wasn't going anywhere, I motioned for him to get on with it. After another healthy swig of vodka, he said to me, "His mouth. Clyde's good with his mouth."

"No way!" I cried, throwing myself onto his bed as dramatic as I felt. "He gave you a blow job?"

"Multiple times," Craig confessed, speaking as though he were dismayed. Well I had some fucking news for him. I was dismayed. This was the strangest news of a lifetime.

"I c-can't believe this."

Craig shrugged, much too nonchalant. "I think he was just trying to practice that way he'd be able to impress Stoley."

"But you let him."

"I did," he agreed. "I'd let anyone, really. Kenny has. Red did before we attempted sex. It's just a matter of whether you're attractive or not." I was staring at him over the arm I had covering my face, utterly unsure of where I was supposed to go with my reaction. Another chug later and he was grinning at me. "Even you."

Shaking my head, I rolled my eyes and looked away, but there was a feverish blush coating my cheeks giving everything away. "I've never had anyone's dick anywhere near my mouth."

With a wink, Craig offered a short, "How about you start with mine?"

"Are you drunk?" I asked him. Because this wasn't funny. It was making me nervous and perhaps I should've taken that shot of vodka when I'd had the chance.

"Not yet," he laughed, but his tone was ringing and he was leaning back on his arm, letting his head loll back and his hair fall. If this was Craig when he was what? Tipsy? Buzzed? Then how would this escalate when he was drunk? "Why? Do you want me to be?"

"I'm curious," I admitted, watching as he lifted the bottle to his mouth again. He brought it back down, angling it toward my butt as thought my ass were a cup coaster.

"I'm not belligerent, I can tell you that."

Deciding not to play into his game, I asked instead, "Do you always randomly grab the vodka and start drinking?"

"Pretty much," he fibbed. "Ruby and her friends are throwing a little party, so I gave them the beer and took this" —he held up the alcohol only to take another sip from it— "that way nobody'll be throwing up all over the place. Nobody wants to drink it with me, though." Pouting, Craig dropped against the bed. He turned his head toward me so I could see his entire mask of sadness.

"Yeah, and it's going to stay that way." The corners of his shapely lips plunged lower. "I don't want you to see me belligerent." I hadn't thought of myself as a terrible drunk, but if the stories were true, then that was the last state of mind I wanted Craig to see me in. Actually—second to last. The very last would be me during an episode.

"I told you that my wiener's been in Clyde's mouth. At least take one sip." My brows rose in consideration. "One sip for every secret."

"Nope." Secrets of Craig's were tempting, but not at my expense. He was never going to see me intoxicated. I feared that if the occasion arose, the next mouth his wiener was going into would be mine.

"Alright." His mouth turned into a scowl. "It's cool. I've got a ton of juicy secrets but I guess you just don't care enough to listen."

I burrowed my head into his pillows, smelling Craig and nothing more. He shuffled around a bit, clearly leaving the bed where his presence was absent for a few suspicious minutes. Just when I wasn't about to wait any longer, a soft noise began to pilfer throughout the room.

We'd only listened to his record player a few times, usually when Craig was feeling particularly somber. I caught onto the song quite quickly, recognizing it as one of the more popular female artists of that era. Stevie Nicks was probably the equivalent of a drunken pleasure to him.

He came back then, rolling over me to get to the other side of his bed where there was more space for him to sprawl out. His shirt had twisted around his body to make it look like his flannel was cropped. I tried not to be obvious when I stared at his waist, but it was hard with his hipbones jutting out, his jeans sagging. As though he were agitated, he shifted around a bit. His back didn't do it for him, but neither did sitting up; he flopped back down and rolled over, half laying on top of me, but that was okay because his weight was steady and comfortable. Our foreheads were tucked close together and I could smell the corrupted stench of alcohol on his breath.

"Where did your smoothie go?" I asked, seeing as I paid five dollars for it. One of my hands squirmed around until it could reach the niorette's face. My fingers traced his jawline, missing the stubble that would be there every now and then. He shrugged, eyes closed, lashes kissing the apples of his cheeks. Gingerly, I ran my thumb across his skin, the skin that I've never seen blush. A hum simmered from between his lips and, encouraged, my hand sidled into his thick mane of dark hair. As my digits began to knead his scalp in the way I knew he liked, his eyes blinked open to look into mine but an inch away. They always managed to retain a startling variation of translucent blues. I adored them for their intensity even though they made me nervous.

A smile worked its way onto my face, reaching my eyes where I felt them begin to glisten. This was just awesome. Like, laying with Craig for no reason—I liked it so much. His eyes dropped toward my mouth, and it was kind of embarrassing how I was just grinning like a huge dork, but I had no ability to stop it and it wouldn't go away. For a moment his lips twitched upward. "Did I ever say thank you for getting it for me?" He asked, inclining his chin to brush our lips together. My smile faltered, giving me enough leeway to return his kiss before springing back into place.

Distracted by his mouth, I murmured "I don't think so," and let my hand slide down to rest against his throat. I was pretty much humiliated when I noticed that his pulse was evened out, beating regularly against my fingertips, while mine was speeding up in steady increments the closer Craig's lips got to my own. He was mumbling his thanks as he reconnected our mouths, gently molding them together.

We laid like that for a while. Not kissing, but resting. Or maybe he was just resting and I was observing. Sometimes he took these irregularly deep breaths that I thought of as bear sighs. When he let them out, his breath fanned out against my face and pushed my hair back. His nose liked to crinkle, and every time it did, I'd wiggle my own against the tip of his. I don't think he understood what I was doing because whenever it happened, he'd knit his brows together or push air between his lips to make this odd semblance of a noise. His vision then began to dance across my features, seemingly looking at anything and everything.

That was when he started to get goofy. He had one hand poised at the back of my head where he twirled locks of my hair around his fingers, practically grooming in tangles. Small chuckles would escape his mouth, and every time I asked what was funny, he'd kiss my forehead and say to me, "You should've taken me up on my offer. These secrets of mine are hilarious." I'd continue to ask just so I could get the kiss. At one point he even put a section of my hair into his mouth so he could tie a wet knot with it, explaining that it was payback for tying that cherry stem with my tongue.

I was disgusted.

"Craig—" He took my mouth in his, swallowing my dissent with plush lips and an impatient tongue.

After living through another moment with him and Thomas interacting, I felt the need to reenforce my status with him. My mouth encompassed his wet appendage and I hoped my best friend had fun fucking Kenny while I laid in Craig's room touching tongues.

Pulling back a sparse inch, he recollected, voice thick, "So you came in with a bag."

My pulse jogged and the same excited mischievousness I'd felt when admitting my crush to him harnessed me once again. "I did."

"And..." Craig murmured, inclining his chin to rub out lips together. "Did you get some new jeans?"

"Yes," I said, heart thudding so deeply it echoed throughout my chest.

A flash sizzled through his eyes, drawing me in. "Are you going to show me?"

Biting my tongue, a blush on my cheeks, I shrugged my shoulders as best I could laying down while curled up next to him. "It's not like they're t-that great," I fibbed.

"Put them on and I'll tell you whether they are or not," he instructed, speaking smoothly. I wondered if he was catching onto my anxiety and attempting to quell it.

What I wanted to do was object. I wanted to go home and take my medication and forget I ever bought a stupid pair of jeans that I thought Craig would like. But then I thought about Thomas and his excessive amount of self-confidence. I thought about how he'd talked about Craig today and how he still believed he was getting somewhere. I thought about his jealousy and my jealousy and decided that it was time for some of the envy stemming from me to change.

So with a vigorous nod, I removed myself from his bed and tried to appear as nonchalant as possible when I grabbed the bag by the door and locked myself away in the bathroom. It was there that my nerves unleashed themselves, part unconquerable fear part incomprehensible excitement. I quickly did away with my jeans and, after the fastest yet most important deliberation of my life, decided to go commando. You need to do better than Thomas. You need to do better than Thomas. That was the only thing going through my head as I zipped and buttoned my new jeans.

As though I'd wasted time and had to exit as quickly as possible to make up for lost seconds, my hand shot toward the doorknob only to freeze just before reaching it. My reflection had caught my attention again and a string of curses sounded throughout my mind. Before I could change my mind, I grabbed the hem of my shirt and tossed the article over my head. Craig would like seeing my marred shoulder. Maybe if these jeans were actually a huge failure, the hickeys would take his attention away. I would've folded my shirt and placed it on the counter, but I thought leaving it inside-out and haphazard on the floor helped whatever persona I was trying to go for. Leaving it like that—it was pitiful, but it made me feel a little more wild. It made exiting the bathroom a little easier.

At the sound of the door, Craig rolled around and sat up. Our eyes connected, and the look in them said to me that he wasn't completely there. He was drunk and his gaze was lowering. I could practically feel it slide over me as though it had a physical substance, a pressure of sorts that made my nerve endings fidget. My breath was shallow, nearly heaving when somewhere behind the blue intensity of his eyes they began to spark like flint struck by steel. I had no recollection of a time where he'd come to life like this before, but it made me antsy in the most enticing way. And when this imaginary presence of his scanned my legs—oh, I did not want to feel the pressure of it below my waist.

"Turn around," he suggested, or maybe it was an order. You need to do better than Thomas. Either way, my skin prickled and I did as he said, so in tune to him that I knew when he'd left the bed without even having to look. His chest brushed against my back, the textures of both his skin and shirt tickling me for a brief moment before growing firm when he drew me against him, hands on my hips. He was warm as though the alcohol in his body had started a fire. "Do you want to know what I think?" His question was fanned out across my shoulder, the one that I'd done a good job of showing off.

Before his lips could touch me, he spun me around. It happened so fast that I wondered if I'd had my back to him at all. Looking up, I saw that his vision was flickering, cast toward the hickies. I didn't think I'd be able to procure a noise, so I nodded instead. At the movement of my head, Craig's eyes drifted toward mine. In unison, his hands coiled around my back where they lowered, sliding steadily down to my rear. My own made to grasp his biceps. "You did," the niorette mused, clenching his fingers so unabashedly that I had to stifle a gasp with my tongue, "a fabulous job."

That asshole said the word "fabulous" with a lisp.