Holy shit, well it was brought to my attention that I've reached my one year anniversary for this story—surpassed it, in fact! I didn't even realize it )': xenoaddict is such a kind soul. I am forever in debt for I would have never noticed otherwise. I'm quite disappointed in myself, actually. Hahaha. I appreciate, so much, everyone who has reached this point with me. It's difficult to understand what happened to this last year because I honestly feel as though I'm still writing chapter one. Hahaha.
I am in repair. I am not together, but I am getting there.
—John Mayer, In Repair
Tweek's point of view:
Sleeping next to Craig in my own bed was remarkable to me. It signified how much change has taken place, and embodied the progress I've made with him.
For eight years I hadn't even been able to put a dent in it.
How could a stagnancy like that advance and develop and transform so drastically and so suddenly?
That's how I'd fallen asleep, wondering where I'd gone right and what I'd done to achieve this. This man and his arm and the way it was wrapped around my body. This smell coming from his skin like vanilla, mint, and cigarettes soaked in fresh water. This tightness in my chest that I loved having to breathe through.
My own goddamn bed felt privileged. It was absorbing Craig's warmth and scent, and even though I didn't want him to ever go, I couldn't wait to lay in his vacated spot and text him random nonsense about absolutely nothing. I'd never gotten to the point where conversation became mindless chatter with anyone before. I've always cared too much about how I would be perceived, not comfortable enough to say whatever came to mind whether it was stupid or made little sense.
Lately Craig's been equally unreserved, and I didn't think it was because he was the same way that I was. There wasn't a self-conscious bone in his body. He just hadn't wanted to scare me off at first. But now that he was aware that he was my cock-block crush, there was no holding back. He knew I would like him no matter how weird he got. That's why he'd started saying the most irrelevant things and talking about the strangest stuff.
What if I suddenly became androgynous but it was a really shitty androgynous and so I liked to wear these really skimpy shorts that revealed my entire genitalia? Or, Would it be okay if I was into erotic asphyxiation? Like, if I asked you to choke me until I passed out every time we got it in, would you do it? But then he'd realize his mistake and text: Whoops. Totally meant get it ON. Not in. Although I'm sure you'd love that. Am I right or am I right?
Craig could be so endearing sometimes.
But not when I woke up and he wasn't there.
I sat up quickly and immediately honed in on the slight seam between my door and the frame.
Scrabbling out of bed, my feet hit the floor awkwardly, and I stumbled my way out of my room almost thankful that Craig wasn't there. And because he wasn't, that meant that he was somewhere in my house, possibly with my parents. One of them had to be at the coffeehouse and I prayed that it was my mother.
From the second floor, I peered around and searched for my missing crush. The living room was empty, and as far as I could see, the kitchen was too. There were no voices or noises of any kind indicating the presence of anybody. I moved down the stairs cautiously, half hoping that Craig had left even though I knew he hadn't because his keys were on my desk and his shirt was on my floor.
It occurred to me that he was walking around shirtless, causing my steps to falter momentarily before resuming in their hasty search. I fumbled around the house and checked my parents' room, cursing when I saw my mom's shoes but not my dad's. It was denial that told me maybe he was outback smoking or something, not picking the rocks out of the garden or watering the plants. My mom would undoubtedly work him and I became terrified to see that both were absent from the backyard.
They weren't in the basement which was odd. That was my mom's favorite place to take my friends so that she could have them reorganize our storage for her. She'd always have Kenny, Stan, or Kyle down there. Gritting my teeth, I wondered if somehow my dad had persuaded him to go down to the coffeehouse with him.
Just as I turned to head back inside to get my phone—I was going to call the coffeehouse directly and see who answered; if they were making him work, I was going to be pissed—I heard a muted thud come from the front of the house.
"No fucking way." My voice was shrill as I urgently made for the gate, ignorant to the ground when the grass became rocks. I threw it open and hissed at the sharp points beneath my feet until I reached the smooth pavement of the driveway. There, my suspicions were immediately confirmed.
The hood of my mom's puny car was up, and hunched over the grisly engine was Craig. I was distracted by him for all of a few seconds where I couldn't seem to cease my ogling. He was tinkering with a gadget that I had no name for, tools laid out by his feet. I cringed at the grease on his fingers and the grime smeared across his chest and shoulders where he must've scratched an itch. Some was on his face, probably in his hair.
His body was what stunted my advance and how low his jeans were sagging. For as drooped as they were, no boxer-brief waistband had been encountered, and I swallowed hard when I asked myself whether or not he was wearing any at all. My eyes were caught by the stretch of his rib cage and narrowed hips. The elongated expanse of his already long torso and pale, milky skin kept attracting me.
My mom who standing just a few feet away from him was what snapped me out of my stupor. She was watching him from beneath the shade of the house with a glass of Seltzer. Waving at me. I almost hated her as much as I hated her carbonated water because of course she hadn't asked him to rearrange the boxes in the basement or to water her flower bushes—my flower bushes. She'd just asked him to fix our goddamn car.
"What the fuck are you doing?" I asked as though I needed confirmation. There was still some hope left in me that his own car had broken down on his way home and he was just borrowing parts from ours. Anything would be better than having to hear that my mom had been having him do chores all day.
If this was punishment for last night, for opposing her when she had suggested that Craig sleep on the couch, and if I found out he'd done anything else for her, I was going to rip all of my hair out and eat it.
He wasn't shocked by my abrasive behavior, didn't even raise his concentrated eyes from what he was doing. "Fixing your car," he said.
I stomped toward my mom and grabbed her by the arm. She made a noise of surprise as I lugged her toward the front door. We were basically the same height so I was able to effectively make sure sure saw my scowl. "Why is he d-doing your shit for you?" It wasn't often that I cursed around either of my parents, but when I was upset, I became reckless.
They never chastised me for my language since outbursts of this kind were so seldom. I guess they understood that it was a form of venting, that I could put the impact of my emotions into derogatory words and get rid of my negative energy faster.
"The car's been making a strange noise for a while, sweetheart. You know that." She pat me on the head and irrelevantly offered me some of her drink, unaware that I thought bubbly water was disgusting even though I always told her that it was. "He's a boy. He's good with cars."
"Then get dad to do it for you," I spat.
"Oh, Tweek." My eye twitched at her odd little giggle that just sounded downright off. "Your father knows coffee, not cars."
We stared at each other for a moment. It was when she blinked that I said, "Just go inside."
After making sure to watch her leave, I went back to Craig and stood beside the open hood. He was still working diligently, toying with tubes and wires that had an incomprehensible use to me. The chill in the air kept him from breaking a sweat, but there was dirt clotting beneath his nails. It was looking at me and I didn't like it.
I'd have to make him take a shower and then he'd have be naked in my bathroom. I'd have to clean his nails for him. I'd have to make sure he brushed his teeth. I knew that he didn't want me to, but I was going to ask Stan to bring over some of Kenny's clothes. I'd have to wash his own.
"You should go apologize," Craig said, reaching for something in the engine.
"W-what?" I was startled that he'd spoken at all.
"Are you not aware of how much attitude you've been giving her?" My stomach dropped nauseatingly. "Like just now and last night."
Had I offended him? Sweet Jesus, what if he finds me unattractive now? "I..." He glanced up at me and I flushed angrily, worries dispersed. "I'm not apologizing."
"Why wouldn't you?" He asked, retrieving an empty hand. He must've put something away instead of taking anything out.
"I don't know," I grunted, unhappy with our conversation. "Why would I?"
Craig looked at me, inspecting my features for something before returning his gaze to the engine. "Because she's your mom."
"And I'm her twenty-year-old son. She doesn't get to decide to who s-sleeps on the couch. She doesn't get to make you do shit for her."
Again, he raised his eyes to glance at me. "She's your mom," he repeated. Yeah, she's my fucking mom. My forgetful, naive mom. My growing fury must've been apparent because the next thing Craig said was, "All I'm saying is that she's acting like a mom usually does. She's got her quirks but she's got the same basic instincts that all the others do."
This wasn't something we were going to agree on. I could tell already. It was clear in the way that I saw her "basic instincts" as those needed for a teenage boy. "I highly doubt your mom would make me sleep on the couch. Your mom would let us go to your room and shut the door. Your mom isn't a s-surveillance camera."
"My mom doesn't care in the same way yours does."
"She pat me on the f-fucking head before she went inside, Craig."
"She's always treating me like this," I interjected. He didn't know where I was coming from but he needed to understand. "I tried to grow up one time! They wouldn't let me. My dad hasn't even realized it's been years since I turned eleven! I got Little Bear toothpaste for my birthday last year!"
He shook his head and laughed like I was the one who didn't understand, kept screwing around with the stupid engine with his dirty fingers. "Dude, my mom used to beat me with clothes hangers when I got into trouble. If I ever get a girl pregnant, my dad will rip the unborn fetus from her uterus."
Body tense with frustration, I gestured wildly and screamed, "She wanted you to sleep on the fucking couch!"
For first time, Craig rolled his eyes. It didn't feel good being the one to make him do it. "Is that what you're upset about?" His impassive tone made me flinch and the part of him that never went into dramatics made me feel childish. "I wouldn't have minded, Tweek. I would've slept on the couch."
You would've slept on the floor and wouldn't have cared, I wanted to say. What came out in its place was: "But I didn't want you to. I wanted you to sleep with me."
"And that's where the problem is. You're not seeing this from your mom's perspective " he explained. "You're her son. You're always going to be her baby. That means she's going to be unfair sometimes because she's trying to protect you."
"I know!" I snapped, thrusting a hand through my hair. Of course that's what she wanted to do. Mothers were like that. I knew that.
"No, you don't. You're not getting it, dude. Am I being too vague or something? You're gay and you like me. We came over with hickeys on our necks and she saw them." Heat rose to the surface of my skin, prickling down my arms and the back of my neck painfully. I hadn't even thought about the hickeys. "She does not want me sleeping in the same bed as you, Tweek."
His point might've made sense and I might've just been stubborn to argue with him, but there were details he didn't know and things my parents hadn't noticed. The fact that I've been waiting for this—for him—for eight years was just the start of my reasoning. It was within reach. I could obtain it and I wanted it. Obstacles weren't an option.
It was obvious that he was right, even more so when I had no valid argument and tried to ignore his justification of my mom's behavior. "So she had you come out here and work for what? To warn you or something?"
"Oh my God, Tweek." Craig raised his arms and ran his hands through his hair, completely indifferent toward the grease on his fingers. I was distracted by the clenching muscles of his stomach and biceps, forgetful for a few seconds that we were even having a debate. "When I woke up this morning, I offered to help."
My brows knit together in confusion. He hadn't needed to do that. Why had he wanted to do that?
The anger whooshed out of me, creating a nonexistence puddle around my feet. It leaked into the asphalt and ran along the concrete of the sidewalk like rain during the wet seasons. There was a helpless look on my face that I couldn't control and I said, "But I...I can't do anything for you back. Y-you're doing this" —I motioned weakly toward the car— "for n-no reason."
Craig cocked his head to the side and laced his fingers behind his neck, evaluating my deflated state. "I don't want you to do anything." But that wasn't what I wanted to hear and he knew that. That's why he sighed and said, "I did this for you. Your mom doesn't want me to take you away, but I am, so I'm bonding to make up for it."
My heart's never pounded so hard. I could feel my pulse thrumming through my body. That was undeniably the sweetest thing I had ever heard. "That—you..." I couldn't accept this. He wasn't allowed to be so nice and get this version of me in return. "I want to do something for you, too!"
There were plenty of tasks he could've given me. He could've told me to give him a blow job. I could've been guilted into giving Kenny a blow job. It would've been funny, something to split the tense mood encompassing us.
"You can give the dogs a bath," he suggested in humor's place, taking care to soften the tone of his voice for me.
"The dogs?" What if I drowned them? I'd only ever washed myself and Craig's hair before.
"Yeah." He was serious. He trusted me with something like that. "You can help Clyde's woman out the next time she cleans them."
I felt my mouth twitch in the beginnings of a smile. Tentatively, I looked up at him through my lashes, seeking forgiveness as my cheeks blushed furiously. "The first time you took me to your apartment, P-Pretty Lady was giving Julibee a bath."
"She was," he recollected, lips curled into a smirk. "I took in two dogs that day, I think."
So that was what he thought of me as? One of the dogs?
Easing forward, I reached up and slowly unwound his arms from his neck to put them around my own, mindful of the grease and dirt. His skin was warm from working. "I went home eventually, though."
He nodded, looking down at me with his remarkably vibrant eyes.
And then he said, "If circumstances were different, I'd say you wouldn't have had to."