Ending Credits: Baptized by Fire – Spinnerette

Five Months Later

Craig doesn't have a ticket – they cost ninety bucks apiece, so fuck that noise – but he does have a suit. Clyde insisted that they rent one for him, too, even if he is only going to be in the group photos before the dance. Originally, Clyde had wanted Craig to come along (and pleaded with him), but in the end he'd lost, on the condition that Craig at least be photographed with the rest of them. Craig has never liked the idea of school dances, let alone prom, which seems merely to be a fancy excuse to fuck somebody.

He checks himself out in the bathroom mirror, and deems that he looks as good as it's going to get. And that Tweek will probably make fun of him for having clean hair.

"Craig, dude?" Clyde knocks on the bathroom door, "Everybody's here. We've got to get going to dinner soon – are you sure that you don't want to come?"

Craig pulls open the door and steps out. He shakes his head and says, "You know I promised Tweek I'd be with him."

"I know," Clyde says, a little forlornly. Clyde wears his tux well. It looks good over his solid body, fitted to perfection with Bebe's help. His tie is aqua colored, Craig assumes to match Millie's dress.

He slips past Clyde into his bedroom, which has become a complete wreck, and slips his hat back onto his head before saluting his guinea pigs with a, "I'll be back later tonight, boys."

"Come on, man, not the hat," Clyde protests.

"Don't test me, Donovan," responds Craig.

Clyde rolls his eyes and shoves Craig, and Craig shoves back. They tromp down the stairs, where a handful of people are waiting – Millie, in a short, bubble-skirted dress that does indeed match Clyde's tie, Kenny, Bebe, and Butters, who do not match at all, and Ike, whose suit makes him look younger instead of older, as was probably intended.

Craig feels a little out of body as they all crunch together, their parents holding up cameras and snapping photographs. There are missing parents, too – Craig's, naturally, since they aren't allowed within twenty feet of Craig or his sister, Kenny's, and Butters', who inadvertently discovered last month that he has a skimpy dress collection hiding in the back of his closet.

Craig is a part of all this, sort of, but then not really, because when they leave, he'll be taking a separate car (illegally, as he's only had his permit for a few weeks), to a separate place. And after prom, and graduation, he won't be going to college, at least not in the next year, like everybody else is. Craig doesn't care to.

He slings his arm over Clyde's wide shoulders. Clyde seems genuinely happy with Millie, at least to the degree that he gets excited when she comes over, and is desperate to share tales of their sexcapades with Craig, who wants to hear none of it. She's smiling back at Clyde now, which makes Craig feel good for his best friend. He's always deserved having somebody as enthusiastic about him as he is about them.

Kenny, Bebe, Butters and Ike break away after a few minutes of rearranging poses. Kenny explains, "We have to be at Stan's for pictures there, too."

Craig extracts himself from the cameras after that, letting Clyde and his girlfriend have their moment. They're so fucking smiley together, the two of them. He thought that it would wear off after the first month, but they've been together for three, and still haven't stopped giggling like schoolchildren about each other.

Craig watches Clyde tie a corsage around Millie's wrist, posing mid-tie so that they can snap a picture of the moment. A few minutes later, he and Millie climb into his car, headed toward City Wok for a cheap pre-prom meal. Craig waves as they go.

Mr. Donovan hands Craig another set of car keys, the one to his own car. He says, "Don't tell Martha I let you take it, okay? And don't crash into a tree or anything, because then we'll both have to explain ourselves."

"I won't," Craig promises, feeling confident on the basis that he's been sneaking out in the Donovans' various vehicles rather frequently, anyway, "Thanks. I owe you one."

The stereo is silent during the drive, nice and quiet, just the way Craig likes it. His suit is making him itch a little, though, and he ends up blasting the air conditioner. It's May, and the weather has been all over the place this month. Today, it's chosen to be sunny as fuck and hotter than hell, making Craig sweat underneath this extra, fancy clothing.

Craig parks Mr. Donovan's car in the back of the Hell's Pass parking lot, away from other vehicles. He wonders how long it will take him to get the hang of parking, and judges that for now, he'll stick with parking crookedly on the outskirts of lots.

He takes the elevator up to a familiar floor – the fifth. Labeled beside the round, glowing button are the words "Psychiatric Ward." When he exits, the nurse at the front desk looks up and grins. He's a familiar nurse on this floor, a guy in his mid-twenties named Jason. As Craig approaches the desk, he says, "Hey, Craig. You look fuckin' fancy. You dress up just to see us?"

They bump fists and Craig replies, "Nah, for the prom I'm not going to. But Tweek'll get a kick out of seeing it. How's he doing today, anyway?"

"Good," nods Jason, chewing on the end of his pen, "Better than last time you saw him."

Jason leads Craig back. He passes Tweek's room and brings him to the little community room at the end of the hallway, where the other mostly-permanent residents of the ward hang around when they're reading or watching television, or doing arts and crafts. Craig recognizes familiar faces of patients that he's never bothered to meet. He always wonders if they're friends with Tweek, but Tweek never really mentions having friends here. He likes to be by himself much better.

Jason claps Craig on the shoulder. It makes Craig flinch, still, though he doesn't think that Jason notices. He points to the far left corner of the room, where Tweek is sitting as far away from the windows as he can manage. He doesn't look up when Craig starts approaching, or even when Craig sits across from him at the same table. He's drawing shakily with stiff hands, something that Craig doesn't often see him do anymore – and so he doesn't care to interrupt. The skin on Tweek's hands is still peeling a little, the tips of his pinkies still black.

His hand seems to seize up, and he makes a line across his drawing. Tweek doesn't make a sound, but he does throw his pencil on the floor and rub his hand over his face.

He finally notices Craig, then.

"What the fuck is with the outfit?" he greets, eyeing Craig as though he's wrapped up in a disguise. And in a way, Craig supposes that he is disguised.

"Prom pictures," Craig shrugs.

"You washed your hair," Tweek remarks, reaching across the table to fluff his hand through the hair sticking out from underneath Craig's hat, "You smell like a douchebag."

"Thanks," Craig says, trying not to smile.

"Why aren't you at prom with everybody else?" asks Tweek. They don't really discuss school that much. Sometimes it can be one of Tweek's triggers. He'll think of school, then expulsion and arrest, and then the way that Craig acted a mere handful of hours later.

Craig takes a piece of paper from the end of the table and steals one of Tweek's crayons, a blue one. He absently makes the shape of a wheel, and then another one. Craig just signed up for a tournament, paid for by his meager Tweak Bros paycheck. He's excited, and also a little terrified, since he hasn't competed on his bike since he was fourteen. He says to Tweek, "Do I really seem like the prom type, dipshit."

Tweek says, "No, you seem like an asshole. You wanna dance with me?"

"Not really, no."

"Not even if I wore a pretty gown?" plies Tweek, though he's wearing a shit-eating grin on his face and his eyes are bright with that slice of happiness he takes from irritating Craig.

"Not even then, Tweek," answers Craig.

"Fuck you. You suck."

"That's weird – you usually don't complain about me sucking," Craig mumbles thoughtfully.

Tweek smiles conspiratorially at that. There's one nurse that sometimes supervises the patients – an older lady named Cynthia – that helps them sneak off for awhile for a little bit of privacy, but only if they swear to use protection, which they always do. Even if Craig doesn't think that they're going to get up to anything, he slips a condom in his pocket just in case. There's one in the breast pocket of his button down now, right where he should have tucked some flowers or something equally as uninteresting to him.

"Cynthia's off today," sighs Tweek.

"Bummer," replies Craig. He likes sitting with Tweek while he tries to draw, though. His hands are better, at least better than they have been. The doctors say that Tweek saved his hands by tucking his arms into his coat. His pinkies might still have to go – they can't say for certain until July, though, when his hands have healed more.

Craig reaches across the table and places one of his hands over Tweek's. Tweek quivers a little, and he stares at Craig as though he expects him to do something more. Craig thumbs at the black part of Tweek's pinkie and queries, "How are you feeling?"

"Okay," Tweek says. He extracts his hand out from under Craig's and passes Craig a pile of papers. The drawings and handwriting are wobbly, but there's no mistaking what it is, especially when Craig sees the title.

Are You Mental? #8

Tweek finally produced the seventh issue last month, after grueling work that probably did Tweek more harm than good. Craig made copies at Kinko's, and he and Bebe put them in the school bathrooms the next day. The school is still looking for who did it, and they've got their eye on Craig, although nothing proves that he's done it beyond the fact that he's dating the mastermind behind the zine. Craig has made plans with Ike (who's asking for a buttload of money for this favor) to keep it up next year, and the zine will be made available at Tweak Bros for free.

Craig takes the papers and sets them down next to him on the bench. Tweek, meanwhile, plucks his pencil up off of the floor and erases the line that the jerk of his hand made. He sketches a little more, and Craig watches. The drawings aren't as seamlessly detailed as they used to be, but they have a new charm, or so he thinks. The imperfection that Tweek's injured fingers creates gives them a newer feeling, something that sinks under Craig's skin even deeper than Tweek's technically beautiful drawings did.

"Hey, Craig?"

"Mm."

"Remember when you told me that you fought your monster?" he asks, still sketching, and not glancing up.

"Yeah," answers Craig, cautiously. They're not supposed to talk about his episode. Not really. He hasn't had episodes as big since, though several smaller incidents have dotted his stay in the hospital, and kept him from release.

Tweek goes on, "You were lying, weren't you? There wasn't a monster. You were the one that said those things."

Craig feels his heart sink down a little. He frowns at Tweek, who still isn't looking at him. Carefully, he responds, "Yeah…but I didn't mean them." They've never talked about this before, about how Craig played along because he wanted to be able to hold Tweek and be close to him without frightening him.

"I know you didn't," replies Tweek, "I just wanted to make sure that I really was the only one that saw monsters."

Maybe he should apologize, but Craig can't find the words to do that. Instead, he says, "Hey. I love you, okay?"

Tweek doesn't respond. He keeps sketching. It's an elementary-looking skeleton, wearing a mustache and drinking out of a tankard filled with eyes. Tweek's brows furrow as he tries to fill in some of the finer details on the eyeballs, but his hand won't move the way he wants. He grunts in frustration, and tries again. A thick, black pencil mark streaks across the entire illustration.

"Fuck!" Tweek shouts, loud enough for everybody to hear. They must be used to it, though, because none of the other patients in the room even look up, and a nurse comes jogging over.

Tweek sweeps his hands across the table, knocking his crayons, artwork, pencils and paper to the floor. He stands and yells, "I can't do anything right anymore!"

The nurse dives into comfort Tweek, but Craig holds out a hand. He slides out of his spot and wraps his arms around Tweek's middle. Tweek is panting and trying not to cry. Craig can hear it. He's heard it many times before, and will probably hear the horrible catch in Tweek's breath many times again. He pets a hand through Tweek's long hair, which is inexplicably combed, and eases Tweek's head onto his shoulder.

"Hey, your art is fine," Craig says.

Tweek wails, "Everything I draw turns into an ugly piece of shit."

"You're being a drama queen," Craig says, "and I'm not indulging you."

"You're a cockhead," complains Tweek.

"I know," Craig answers. He kisses the top of Tweek's head, where it still rests on Craig's shoulder.

A moment later, Tweek must feel guilty for calling Craig a cockhead, because he whispers, "I love you."

And Craig replies, "I know."

The End

o.o.o.o

Thank you to my reviewers: w0rmsign, Yui 88, DahmerEatsRainbows, Kuutamolla, Sunshine-aki, VannaUsagi13, Bubbl3wrapguy, lilykinz200, WizardBeards, XxCandiigrlsxX, Mysterion, Shakuhachi Jade, MailxJeevasxFTW, prettyoddrydonfan, Druekee, KirstenTheDestroyer, BattyCore, KeiMaxwell, KrakenRepellent, RaiineDays, and givemeana.

Thank you all for reading and your continued support! The end of this fic marks the beginning of my break from chapter fic for awhile. I will have some oneshots out, but then I'm taking it easy for a bit.

The best place to go to find out more about what I'm writing is my tumblr, which is also scarlettshazam.