If you are not mature enough to handle things like sex, strong and vulgar language, or cheating partners than this story is not for you. Things get pretty intense as the story goes on. You should probably turn back and read something else in that case.

Also, this will be a very long and detailed story.


Craig's song of the day: Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism


Some Boys are Monsters
Prologue; Part One

I think everyone has it in their heads that I'm not too good at keeping secrets. They act like if I keep things hidden or bottled up it'll eat me up inside until I finally burst under the pressure. That's what it all comes down to: my issue with pressure. I can't really handle delicate situations very well, and to me really any situation classifies as delicate. Maybe that's why I tend to get left out when it comes to my little group of close-knit friends and all the things they hide from everyone else but share with each other.

I'm sure that's why.

Sometimes I can hear them mumbling among themselves, just quiet enough that I won't be able to hear. It goes on between Clyde and Token pretty often, but every now and then Craig will lean his ear into Clyde's cupped hand to receive a message. This sort of secret sharing is something I've always been excluded from. It used to bother me so bad that I would have mini panic attacks every time I heard them whispering. I mean, for all I knew they were talking about me, or something really serious was going on that they wouldn't include me in. Over the course of time, however, I've just learned to tune them out and avoid asking what's going on. I figure that they wouldn't tell me even if I did.

My most personal friends hide those kind of hush-hush things from me because they think that I don't have what it takes to keep a secret. They think I'll bend and fold under any sort of pressure, so I can't be trusted with such things. They're wrong.

I have a secret of my own, and I've been keeping it for a very long time.

My secret is six foot ten with a pierced lip and a split tongue. His hair is an inky black, and his eyes are a color blue that I've only ever seen in the sky. I'm talking about my best friend, and my secret isn't him so much as the tight knot in my chest when he's around.

I have feelings for Craig Tucker.

He's the guy who just happens to be sitting in the desk next to mine. We're in Government class and every second I spend staring at the side of his face the more my chest wants to implode. Craig's bottom half is pushed back in his seat, his top half is leaning over his desk, and his face looks just as relaxed as it always does. However, he looks intensely focused rather than wearing his usual blank face. He's tapping at his desk with the calloused tips of his fingers because his nails are too short to clink against the wood. That's something he does on purpose so teachers won't hear it and make him stop. They're following some sort of rhythm as he slowly bobs his head and moves his lips soundlessly. He's been doing that all class period, and it took me until just now to realize he's been picking up his pen and jotting down things in his note pad.

He must be writing a song.

He's good at making music. So good, in fact, that Token, Clyde and I all have some of his songs recorded on our phones so we can listen to them again when he isn't there to play them.

I tend to put them on repeat.

He adjusts himself in his seat while squinting through the faint lighting to see his paper, then he finally gives up and heaves out a sigh. Our seventh slide of notes is glowing on a projector in the front of our dimmed classroom, but he hasn't written down a single highlighted bullet all period; not that I have any room to talk. He doesn't look too concerned about our notes, though. He just looks irritated because the absence of light is making it hard for him to see his lyrics. He tilts his head to glance over at me, like he's making sure I'm still there. He does that at lot. It's almost as if he thinks I'll run off and get lost if he doesn't keep an eye on me. That's when he notices I'm staring.

His face is barely lit by the glow of our teacher's projector, but it's just enough light to reflect off of a few of his piercings. A little grin tugs at the corners of his lips that's so faint I just barely see it, and it lasts for a mere second before he goes back to the paper in front of him. I'm one of the lucky few he takes the time to smile at, even though it's usually hardly noticeable.

That thought makes a pressure bubble up into my chest again, so I sink low into my chair and cover the sides of my face with my forearms.

These aren't the same feelings a dude is supposed to have for his best guy friend, I'm sure. They're the feelings that I'm supposed to have for a girlfriend or the prettiest girl in class. It's always confused me, and it's always been there. Yet, those feelings have been growing more rapidly within the last year or so. They're so strong that they've been the cause of many sleepless nights, keeping me up far past three in the morning as I sit in the dark trying to glue my heart back together. I know it's because Craig confessed that he has feelings for someone, too.

They aren't for me.

Craig is a normal guy (I'm using normal pretty loosely) who isn't messed up in the head like I am, so his feelings are for a girl like they should be. I found out last year when he finally kicked his stoic attitude in the ass and told Bebe Stevens that he's had a crush on her since sophomore year. I didn't even know he liked her until he asked her out right in front of me, yet another side effect of my friends not trusting me with secrets.

I can still remember that moment at her locker so clearly. It was only the first week of our junior year, and my brain was already on the fritz because I was still adjusting to the crowds of people. We were with Token and Clyde, as usual, walking to breakfast just like every day before when Craig suddenly steered off course and strayed away from our group. I, being the clingy little parasite I am, trailed behind him by instinct. I really wish I stayed with the guys. What I was about to see would strip me of any chance I ever had at getting a good nights sleep, not that I ever really had one before.

She was just one of the many students shifting through their lockers. Her face was barely familiar. Her name was one I'd only heard mentioned in stranger's conversations. She had nothing to do with us. At least until Craig came to a slow stop beside her. He was playing with his hands in his nervousness, and swaying from side to side as if he couldn't keep his balance. All of that made me bite my lip anxiously. I had never seen him act so bashful before. It threw me off. Craig doesn't get nervous, he doesn't play with his fingers, and he doesn't give a flying fuck what some pretty, peppy, girl thinks of him.

He did that day, though, and every day since.

She was too busy gathering up a pile of materials from the bottom of her locker to notice the blushing giant standing beside her until she pushed up from the floor.

"Oh! Hi, Craig," she greeted in her surprise, a small smile budding on her lightly glossed lips as she looked up at him. My stomach lurched up into my chest at the shy look she had on her face. I was beyond baffled at how she even knew his name, let alone why she seemed so happy to see him.

I didn't like it.

"Hi," he nearly whispered. The look he had in his eyes only made me press my lips together in confusion.

I stood behind Craig during the entire exchange, and when my brain finally caught up with what was going on I reached out and latched onto his thumb. It was a small gesture that I used to do every day as a way to calm my nerves, but that day it became a silent and desperate plea to break whatever spell her deep green eyes had cast upon him.

I don't think I ever shook that bad before and stayed completely silent, but no words would come out of my mouth no matter how badly I wanted to scream. He kept going though, as if he couldn't even feel my trembling grasp on his thumb.

"I was wondering if you'd want to go to the movies." Craig's nasally voice sounded bored and detached from what he was suggesting, but she looked delighted nonetheless.

She twirled one of her long blond curls in between her fingers and bit her bottom lip to try and hide a smile.

I slipped my hand in between Craig's fingers and bit my tongue to try to hide my anguish.

"I'm free Friday," was the last thing I heard before my very core went numb.

She smiled.

I cringed.

That was a year ago, and it still makes my chest hurt when I think about it. I hide it surprisingly well, but having to share him with somebody else all the time only helps to rattle my cage. Not just because I like him so much, but also because I never had someone take up such huge amounts of his time before. I've been best friends with Craig since fourth grade, and before she came along we nearly spent every minute of every day together. I was with him so often everyone joked that we might as well have been the same person. He still makes time for me, but things just aren't quite the same.

I wish I could find a flaw in her.

I wish I could find some sort of crack in her beautifully dolled up face, but you can't crack something that isn't porcelain. She's just as pretty on the inside as she is on the outside. That's why I could never compete with her. My outsides are ugly, but my insides are uglier. She knows that, I'm sure, considering how childish and frustrated I tend to become in her presence. Still, she's even friends with me. Ironically, she has been since she started dating Craig.

When our little group gathers at the breakfast table she likes to give me a hello hug and ask how I'm doing, which is really nice because her softly spoken words and shampoo that smells like morning time help me feel relaxed.

It isn't too bad, though. Craig still cares about me. He invites me over to his house, takes me to the mall, spends the night with me, and likes to carry me around like I'm a rag doll just like he did before. It just doesn't happen quite as often.

The bell suddenly goes off, making me jerk in my seat as the students around me jump from their chairs and head for the door. I'm almost always the last person to leave the classroom because I have so many things to pack up.

I don't trust the school lockers. I don't care what my teachers tell me. It doesn't take a genius to break into those cheap piece of shit locks, and Tweek Tweak is not one to let his stuff go unprotected. That's why I carry all of my school things in a messenger bag. It's something I've always done, but this year a lot of my classes require textbooks. My bag's real heavy and hard to pack back up. I shove my Government book underneath the others as I grumble to myself in frustration.

Craig hasn't moved from his desk.

We're only a month into our senior year and I've already lost about all my wits. The crowds of people, loud noises, and sudden change in daily ritual make me so nervous and panicked. Just the thought makes my hands shake, and the more they shake the harder it is to zip my damn bag.

Craig's still at his desk, watching me struggle.

He doesn't make a move to help me because he doesn't give a fuck. Either that, or he knows I'll bite off his fingers if he tries to insinuate I can't do it by myself. I hate when people think I can't do things on my own. I'm small and have a lot of fears, but I'm not a child.

I give up and hoist the big ugly thing over my shoulder only partially zipped. It has to be half of my weight, but I know I can carry it.

Craig stands up from his seat when I do. He follows me out of the classroom and into the hall just like every other day.

Kids bustle by us in a hurry. One bumps into me on accident, but doesn't stop to apologize. Craig only manages a disgruntled glare in their direction before grabbing me by the back of my shirt and reeling me in closer to his side.

I notice how weird we must look walking down the hall together. A pierced monster like Craig trailing alongside someone as little and plain as me has probably always looked off, especially with my tendency to latch onto him in my anxiety. They're either used to it or too intimidated by the ogre beside me to say anything about it.

"You should use your locker." Craig's deep voice floats down from high above me. I notice the only thing he's carrying is his lyric notebook. He didn't even bring his folder to class, although it doesn't surprise me.

"Mnh, no. You know how shitty those things are. What if someone steals my books or my phone?" I murmur in protest while clinging to the strap of my bag. It's so tight that's it's digging painfully into my shoulder, and my back has been killing me since school started. Still, I will not leave my stuff unattended.

"At least let me carry it for you, you're going to hurt yourself," he insists without the underlining concern he feels coming through in his tone.

I bunch up my eyebrows in confusion.

He hasn't offered to carry my bag since he got together with Bebe.

I watch him reach out to slip a finger under my strap. He's determined to be a persistent asshole who thinks I can't carry my own things.

"I can do it myself!" I shout, swinging my bag to the side so that it will escape his grasp. All I manage to do, though, is knock myself off balance and slam painfully hard against a locker. It nearly knocks all the wind out of me.

Craig raises a brow down in my direction.

I hand over my bag in shame.

...

"Hey! Craig and Teacup are finally here!" our friend, Clyde, chimes from across the band room.

Teacup. I can't believe that silly nickname has held up over all these years.

He's flailing his arms like he's trying to get our attention, even though we're staring right at him.

He's a dork like that.

Craig gives a quick nod of his head in recognition before dropping my bag to the floor with a thud. I glare up at him for treating my precious belongings with such disrespect, but it's about as effective as a magikarp's splash.

"We would have been here sooner if Tweek didn't carry that damned bag everywhere," Craig grumbles under his breath before shooting a similar look my way. I fold my arms across my chest and pretend I don't hear him. I'm still pissed that he just threw my bag down like it was anything less than sacred.

The only class I have with all my friends is this study hall, and, for a class that we're supposed to spend doing homework, it's pretty fun. It's in the band room. That's probably because our high school is small and pretty poor. None of us mind, though, because our teacher is really laid back and lets us do pretty much whatever we want.

I like this room. It's so big and open. The ceiling is way high up and there are no desks or book shelves to clutter up space and make me feel claustrophobic. The carpets are a really pretty speckled blue color, along with the walls, and the trimming is all white. It's a relaxing environment filled with people I enjoy, and it helps knowing that it's the last class of the day.

I don't even mind Bebe until she starts laying all over Craig.

Everyone's lounging around in the little concrete bleachers that are built into the room and stretch across the wall in a kind of half-circle. I'm not sure if there's some sort of special name for them, but that's where the band and choir stand when they play and practice, so every step is pretty wide, and at its highest it's only five feet off the ground. The mini-bleachers are covered with padding and blue carpet, of course, so for being made of concrete it's pretty comfortable to lay on. Me and my friends use it for everything but what it was intended for.

We sleep on it, crawl up it, tumble down it, eat on it, wrestle on it, jump off it, grope at it, and even hump it.

That last part is all on Kenny McCormick, though.

The closest we ever come to using it for what it was made for is when Kenny and Craig pull out their guitars and have jam sessions. Sometimes Token even gets out his violin and plays along with them, and everyone in the room lays all over the bleachers close enough so that they can hear.

I love all these people.

"Where's Bebe?" he asks, noticing our small class is down one member.

"She went with Mrs. Crawson to help put up decorations or something," Clyde replies, still across the room from us. "We're in here by ourselves until they come back."

Craig lets out air as if he is deflating, probably because he's disappointed his girlfriend isn't here, and then makes his way across the blue carpet to where Clyde is beckoning us. I trail close behind. I'm entranced with the way he moves. He's so fucking gigantic that he stalks across the room, towering so high above me that I can just barely touch his chin. His walk is so damn masculine with heavy footed steps, and his hands are tucked into the pockets of his thick, black jacket. He likes to wear hooded shirts with it and let the hood come up over the back. Today it's blue. It looks nice because it matches his earflap hat.

My brain needs to stop with this unhealthy obsessive thinking is what needs to happen.

I jump out of my thoughts and my skin when I hear someone slam onto a guitar so suddenly and loudly it stops even Craig in his tracks. I yelp like a Chihuahua that just got stepped on, making Craig jump and jerk around in my direction.

"Why hello, Godzilla," Kenny greets the tallest of us joyfully as he leans back against a concrete stair in the mini-bleachers. He's fingering his guitar strings, leaving no doubt that he's the one that left me nearly shitting my pants. His long blond hair looks just as greasy as ever, and he's sporting the same dirty old orange parka that he's worn since god knows when. I still really like him even though he's usually really filthy.

He looks like a hobo.

"Fuck off, McCormick," Craig snaps back without missing a beat, middle finger quickly extended as he grabs a hold of the back of my shirt. He better not storm away and start dragging me across the floor.

It wouldn't be the first time he's manhandled me like that.

"Aww, I love you, too," he sounds genuinely flattered, oblivious to Craig's annoyed gaze as a smile spreads across his face. Kenny isn't being mean, at least I don't think he is. He just likes poking Craig through a cage with a stick to get a rise out of him. It drives him fucking crazy, especially since Kenny is immune to sharp glares and intimidating features. I think the only reason Craig tolerates his quirky attitude is because of the guitar in his lap.

He likes having someone else around who can play.

Craig does little else but roll his eyes at Kenny before letting go of my shirt and plopping down on the edge of the bleachers with Clyde. Token is stretched out above them, doing his homework as he relaxes with one earphone in. I quickly take the seat next to Craig and scoot just close enough so that Bebe can't squeeze in between us when she gets back. I've learned over time that he won't make me move if I sit down before she has the chance, so I'm always quick to take the opportunity.

I sort of have an undeclared war raging with Bebe, even though she's oblivious to it. It's not just about getting to sit next to him. It's about which house he goes to after school, who gets him for the weekend, and so on and so forth. It's all about sharing fairly, which I don't think I'm very good at.

Especially when it comes to sharing Craig, no matter how much I like Bebe.

"Dude, I can't believe they make heels like these," Kenny comments from across the room. He's kneeling down beside the door while examining something in front of him, but I'm more puzzled by how he got all the way over there so fast. "They must be Bebe's. Hot."

"If you start drooling over my girlfriend, I'll bust in your face," Craig warns.

The only emotion Craig knows how to show openly is fury, but I would rather him show no emotion at all.

Craig's scary when he's mad.

Hearing the sudden anger in Craig's voice, Token quickly jumps in to tone down our friend's disgruntled threat.

"I think you should keep your hands off of things that don't belong to you," he says firmly before averting his nose back to his textbook.

"Oh come on you guys. You know what I think? I think Tweek would look hot in these," Kenny says before grinning from ear to ear, making every part of me vibrate in embarrassment as he glides back to our little group with stilettos in hand. I'm sure he's just doing this to avert everyone's attention. Yet, the suggestion makes Craig's face change from pissed off to bewildered immediately, and both Clyde and Token are laughing at the thought.

"What? Jesus Christ, no!" I shout in protest through the blush on my face. "Why would you even think something like that?"

"What? Are you chicken?" Kenny teases as I eye the red heels in his hands. Bebe must have taken them off when she went to help the teacher, leaving them here for Kenny to torture me with. I don't know how she gets in those things. The heels have to be more than four inches high.

Craig watches me from the corner of his eye. I don't have any fucking idea why he suddenly looks so okay with this, and I have rarely ever seen this weird look he's got going on.

It's concerning.

"Oh come on, Teacup! It'll be funny!" Clyde begs, suddenly picking up on Kenny's idea while all Token can do is chuckle to himself as he scribbles down answers on his homework.

"I am not getting in those things just so you can laugh at me!" I argue angrily, trying to defend what small shreds of masculinity I have left. When you're four foot eleven and have a pet name like Teacup masculinity is something that's hard to come by. If I put on those heels I'm giving up the only scraps I've got left.

Kenny flaps his arms like wings and makes chicken clucks in my direction.

"That's the cheapest form of peer pressure I've ever seen," I hear Craig mutter from his spot beside me. Finally, someone who doesn't want to witness me forfeiting what's left of my manhood for a cheap laugh.

"If you're going to convince him you have to do better than that."

Or so I thought.

I gasp, genuinely shocked and confused. "What? Not you, too!"

"You'd be taller," he replies as he shrugs his shoulders. Craig is obviously trying to sway me although his voice box is permanently broken, never allowing so much as a pitch change to come through in his words.

Kenny and Clyde both nod in agreement as they scoot in closer. They seem to be confident that they'll get me into those heels, at least that's what it seems like since they're so eager for front row seats.

"But what if I fall down? I could hurt myself you assholes!" I scream. The pressure is weighing down on me now that even Craig is trying to get me into those damn things.

"You won't get hurt. I'll catch you."

The reply slips past his lips just as everything else does, bored and drawl, but it still manages to leave me trying to contain a blush. I don't know why everything he says gets muddled in my brain until it sounds like he's meaning more than he's saying, but I don't like it one bit.

It figures he'd be the one I humiliate myself to entertain.

"Jesus Christ! Fine! If you'll leave me alone I'll wear the damn shoes, but I won't be happy about it!" I shout. I'm not sold on the idea, but I'm done arguing.

Clyde lets out a "Woohoo!" in victory, Token shakes his head in amusement, and a devilish grin spreads across Kenny's face like butter. I'm too nervous to look at what Craig's doing.

I snatch the glossy red stilettos from Kenny and examine the very complicated straps. I don't even want to count how many buckles and frills these things have on them, and I'm overwhelmed before I even slip off my sneakers.

All of my friends are watching me intensely from the front row seats on the mini-bleachers as I sit on my ass in the middle of the floor. I'm sure it's pretty amusing for them to see me get both feet into the ruby red shoes and begin the delicate procedure of tightening and buckling all the straps and laces that apparently go past my freaking ankles. The tip of my tongue is sticking out, a bad habit that I have when I'm really focused. My hands are small so I should be able to do this, but I'm not doing a very good job.

"Do you need help?"

God, Craig, you're awfully eager to please today.

"GAH! If you think you can do better then do it!" I spit out, pretending not to be delighted with the idea as I extend both my legs straight out in the air in my frustration. I lean back on the balls of my palms to keep my balance as Craig immediately stands up from his seat between Kenny and Clyde. He kneels down before me on the floor. Once he rolls up the legs of my jeans he takes a careful hold onto my trembling left foot and goes to work.

I'm amazed with how skilled he seems to be at lacing up these things, at least until I realize he probably does this for Bebe all the time. He starts at the very back of the shoe, and my thigh twitches when I feel his rough fingertips brushing against the exposed skin on my Achilles tendon. I'm baffled with how nimble his hands are with all those little complicated straps considering the tiny size of the buckles and the massive size of his hands. I guarantee he can wrap his fingers all the way around my ankle and then some if he wanted to.

Maybe my masculinity isn't so important after all.

"You don't think Bebe will care if we do this with her shoes?" I ask nervously as he moves onto the next heel. It makes sparks shoot up through my skin when I feel his hands working their way up my leg to get all the little buckles.

Stop it, brain, just stop it.

"No," he mumbles incoherently, but I can tell what he really means is: I don't know and I don't give a fuck.

It's weird how he wanted to bite off Kenny's head just for touching them, but he's so eager to have me try them on. I guess I'm better off just to not question the weird way his brain works.

With one last click he finishes with the buckles, but he lets his thumb rest on top of one as if he's in deep thought. I interrupt whatever it is he's doing when I pull my feet away from his grasp to examine the shimmer on the shoes.

My feet are smaller than Bebe's.

I'm not sure if I should feel horrified or accomplished by that.

He takes my hand in his, which causes me to stiffen up until I realize he's only trying to help me to my feet. I want to jerk away because I know I don't need his help just to stand up, but I also know he won't let go even if I try to pull away. He's stubborn like that. Besides, I would be lying if I said I didn't like accepting a little help from him every now and then.

I raise off the ground with my hand in his, determined not to make more of a fool out of myself than I already am by just having the things on. I'm wobbling and unsteady, my bow legged stance not helping keep my balance in the slightest. I can hear someone whistling at me as Clyde laughs in his amusement. I'll bet it was Kenny.

I'm still not so sure if I'm really okay with this, or if I'm just doing it for Craig's attention. Either way I'm already in the damn things now, and they're going to be hell to get back off. I might as well have fun.

Craig gives me space so that I can try to walk, although I'm not doing too good a job of it. I'm nervous and shaky because everyone's looking at me. When I try to walk I take tiny baby steps that don't quite make it off the floor, leaving me scooting across the carpet like I'm mentally challenged. All the sliding gives me an idea though. I, being the complete loser I am, tap the heels of my red stilettos together and announce just loud enough for all to hear, "There's no place like home. There's no place like home."

Clyde is laughing obnoxiously loud, giving out the occasional snort as Kenny lets out a small chuckle. Token is trying his best not to join in, so he just shakes his head as if we're all insane.

"Craig should be the heartless tin man," Clyde suggests, still laughing to himself as he nudges Token in an attempt to distract him from his relentless studying.

"Clyde should be the brainless scarecrow," Craig retorts in an unfeeling manor. "Cowardly lion works, too."

"Well, sir, that was just cold," Clyde gasps like a scandalized teenage girl.

"You guys are hopeless," I grumble to myself, amazed at how simple it is to amuse them as I try to gain the massive amount of bravery it requires to attempt a manly strut in ruby red stilettos. However, the unusually high, thin, heel of Bebe's shoe doesn't quite land right. My foot slips out from under me and I flail my arms during a midair panic attack. I'm sure I'm about to bust my face on the side of our teachers piano, but Craig slings his arm under my belly and scoops me up before I can hit the instrument.

Just like he promised.

The guys go into a giggle fit once they're sure I'm okay, but I'm not sure if it's because of my failed strut or because I wildly flailed my arms in fear. Probably both.

Craig's holding me up off the floor. I would kick and thrash to make him put me down, but that's not the best idea considering what I'm wearing on my feet. I could easily kill a man with these things.

I should make a mental note to never cross Bebe.

He brings me over to the bleachers, probably because he doesn't trust me with walking there, before letting me slip out of his grasp and safely to my feet. I'm standing only an inch or so away from him, so I glance up in amazement.

"Mm, I can probably touch your face," I murmur, wrapping my arms around my torso and hugging myself as I look up at him.

His sharp features immediately soften as I watch his downcast face, "Probably."

I've forgotten that everyone else in the room exists as I unfold my arms and stretch them upwards, curious how high I can reach. With Craig looking down at me I press my fingers, then my palms, against the skin of his cheeks. It's surprisingly soft, and his face fits perfectly in my hands.

I beam up at him.

He smiles.

His lips part just barely before he whispers, "You look good in heels."

My face goes a red hot color in my embarrassment, but I can't tell if he's being serious or if he's only teasing me.

I open my mouth to reply, but someone beats me to it.

"Just kiss already," Kenny hollers towards us before letting out an obnoxious whistle.

However red my face was, it's surely much worse now. I pull my hands away from Craig's face as if his skin had burned me, and then fold my arms back around myself.

Thankfully, everyone's attention is averted towards the door as a beautiful woman with long, flowing, blond curls suddenly glides into the room. A red blouse is buttoned around her torso, and a beige skirt hangs from around her trim waist. She's missing her matching shoes. Our teacher comes in behind her as they laugh amongst themselves. Craig leaves me standing by myself on the other side of the mini-bleachers as he walks with that manly stride of his across the room to greet his girlfriend.

He stretches his arms out, and she runs to him.

I'm not blushing anymore.

Bebe peeks at me from around Craig's black clad arm. She looks confused at first, probably because she's realized I'm in her heels, but after a moment of thought she declares, "Lookin' good, Tweek!"

...

"We should all go do something when the bell rings," Token suggests suddenly. "It's been a while since we all just hung out."

"Ah! That sounds awesome! I've got money on me, we could totally stop by Taco Bell!"

Leave it to Clyde to bring up Taco Bell.

"Maybe the movies," Craig chips in. Bebe is still hanging on his arm, just like she does every day in study hall. I returned her shoes to her after me and the guys had our fun. She looks so happy and contented as she sits in what should be my spot, basking in him and his aloof attitude. I would be sitting next to him too if Clyde wasn't between us.

"Yeah the movies sounds nice. Maybe Taco Bell, too," Token agrees, sitting up straight behind us as he flips through cash in his leather wallet. "I can pay for Bebe too, if she wants to come."

I hate to be this way, but I really don't want to go if she's tagging along. The last thing I want to endure is an entire afternoon with them together. It's not like they're really lovey or anything, at least not in public, it's just unnerving to be around them so much with this damn weight in my chest.

"Oh, sure! That sounds like fun!"

Wonderful.

Token invites Kenny along too, but he tells us that he's got a previous engagement with his own group of friends tonight, so after the bell rings we walk down the hall without him.

Clyde's carrying my bag for me this time, and I feel a bit better being surrounded by my friends as we walk through the crowded halls. This is usually my favorite time of day. The moment I step outside of the school I feel like a massive weight is lifted off of my chest, and my anxiety with the crowded building immediately disappears. I also like it because Token tends to drop Craig off with me after school, and we'll spend the rest of the afternoon raiding my fridge and watching television until we pass out on my mom's big, cushy couch.

We like our afternoons comfortable and boring, simple as that. I wish today was one of our lazy days, because I'm so damn tried and a nap with Craig sounds like exactly what I need. Instead, I'm bearing through self-pity as we all file out of the school building and into the drizzling rain. Brown, orange, and yellow leaves crunch and rustle under our feet as we walk down the sidewalk, all the product of my favorite season. The air is thick but clean as it filters through my lungs, and the drizzle smells fantastic.

Nobody brought umbrellas, so Craig lets Bebe use his black jacket to cover her head like any good gentleman would.

It was supposed to be sunny today.

I guess the sky is just feeling gloomy, too.

We all climb into Token's car. Craig rides in the front seat every morning and afternoon when Token drives us to and from school, and Clyde and I usually huddle up together in the back. Bebe's in the car today, though, so the hierarchy of seating gets all fucked up. Clyde called front seat the moment his foot hit the sidewalk, leaving me stranded in the back with Craig and Bebe.

The rain that was once just drizzling has picked up speed since we've been driving. Everyone's already dialed their parents and settled in, although it's really not that far of a drive to the theater. I'm focusing on the noise of the rain on the roof of the car as I rock back and forth, a nervous habit that's pledged me since I was a baby. I'm trying to just relax and have a good time. It's hard though, so much harder than I ever imagined now that a pretty blond girl is buckled in between Craig and me.

They're talking quietly among one another so that nobody else can hear.

I keep twitching. The grotesque sound of their whispering is drowning out the relaxing pitter-patter that's been keeping me calm. This is way too much pressure. I feel like there's so much tension in my chest that my rib cage could give any second and just burst open. Oh god, I hope that isn't possible.

I close my eyes tighter. I would cover my ears with my hands if that wouldn't draw attention to myself.

Craig mumbles something, and Bebe giggles quietly. I look over at them for the first time since we first sat down in the car. She's laying up against him, and he's got an arm wrapped loosely around her shoulder. Shadows cast in from the raindrops sliding down the glass of his window. They leave his face reflecting their patterns, and he looks so relaxed and content with her up against him.

A horrible aching pain is consuming me.

I just can't help but feel like this isn't fair. Sure she's been dating him for a year now, but she was never close with him until he asked her out. I've been with him his whole life, and I've had feelings for him long before she ever even gave him a second glance.

Tweek, Craig isn't going to like you. He likes girls. Even if he didn't, there's no way he would stoop so low as to want a freak like you.

I can't take another second of this. Seeing her laying on him is destroying my faltering heart, and there wasn't much left of it to begin with. I pull on my handle as Token rolls to a stop at a deserted intersection. I feel like the confined space of the back seat is closing in on me, and Bebe's heels keep bumping against my sneakers. I'd absolutely hate myself if I caused some sort of anxiety ridden scene and ruin everyone's good time, so I try to play this off as cool as possible.

"I'm sorry," I say, trying with everything that I've got to sound like myself, "but I think I'm going to walk home."

"What?" Clyde asks from the seat in front of me. "Don't you wanna see a movie?"

"Well... not really."

"We can probably do something else if you want," Bebe says kindly, looking at me from her spot on Craig's chest with a concern that makes me want to bash my head against a wall.

"No. I just want to go home." I'm speaking so calmly I'm starting to scare myself.

I feel like my insides are just a second away from exploding, but my face and my voice are so detached from the horrible, heart wrenching twisting in my gut that I think I seriously may have broken myself. The link from my emotion and my actions has miraculously been severed.

"I can drop you off," Token offers, confusion racking through his voice.

"No, it's okay. You guys have places to be. I'll leave my stuff in your car." Craig gives me a weird look when he hears me say this, but I don't really care.

I don't say anything else, just ignore everyone's protests as I swing open my door. I'm standing in the middle of the road in the pouring rain. I slam the door behind me, then speed walk across the street, refusing to look back at their faces through the wet car windows. We're in a pleasant little suburb, the same place where we were all raised together, but the dark clouds collecting overhead makes everything look so much drearier than usual. The moment I step into someone's yard and pass a bush I start running as fast as I can. Wet grass squishes under my feet as my legs pump underneath me, desperate to get away from everything that hurts. I can feel water welling up in my eyes, but I can't tell if it's really tears or just the rain.

I can't believe how foolish, weak, and helpless I've become. There's more to life than Craig, and there's more I could be doing with my time other than obsessing and crying over him. This isn't just some petty crush, though. Craig is the only constant thing I've had in my life that I can depend on. My parents are never around and my other friends tend to fade in and out of my life, but Craig is the one thing that's just always been around. I don't know how to change that.

I don't want to change that.

He's my best friend.

The grass stops, and pavement begins. My feet are still going strong as the bottoms of my shoes thump against the ground. They carry me onward until I see the playground come into view. My house is just a block away, but I'm wet, cold, and tired. Besides, I really don't want to walk through the front door soaking wet just to see the faces of my oblivious and disconnected parents, if they're even home.

I reach the playground equipment. I used to play here with Clyde, Token, and Craig when we were growing up. Hours of playtime and irreplaceable memories were fostered here.

There are all kinds of playthings scattered about. Monkey bars stand just a few feet away from me. The same swings I enjoyed so much as a child swing back and forth across the yard, helpless to go any other way as the wind and rain pull them along. Token used to push us on that rusted old merry-go-round, and Craig and I were glued to that seesaw. We had picnics here with our parents, and I can't even remember how many times Clyde busted his ass trying to climb that giant oak tree right in the center of the park. I trail along with the wind, just as helpless as my childhood swing set.

I see something coming into view far off in the distance. The red tip of a rocket ship made of metal and pipes reaches high up to the dreary mountains in the distance. I know that thing inside and out without even taking a second glance. I was so scared of it when I was little, my naive mind convinced that it would take off and we'd get stranded in space because Craig told me it was a real rocket ship. It was his favorite structure on the playground, and it took him a lot of convincing to get me to board his ship and fly out past the atmosphere with him.

Now that I look back on it, it was really cute how hard he tried to get me on that thing. When I finally did, though, I never wanted to get back off. Craig was an imaginative spaceman, not that anyone would know by looking at him now. He always invented these wild adventures for us to go on, most of which involved undiscovered planets, grotesque monsters, and epic battles. Our spaceman escapades were so long that we had to stop where we were and pick up where we left off the next day. I had no childlike ability to create and imagine things in my own mind, so I held fast to every wondrous new thing Craig made up for me. His words were so vivid and detailed that he could really make me believe that we were traveling the galaxy, and I loved nothing more than to climb up in Spaceman Craig's ship.

As a child I was convinced that Craig was one of the coolest people on earth and in space, and, despite how he's hardened, I still do.

In all reality, he gave me a childhood worth remembering.

Things were so much simpler back then. The most complicated problems any of us had were trying to find a way to fit all four of us on the seesaw at once or if we wanted the crust on our sandwiches. That innocent bliss didn't last for too long, though. We all started growing up pretty fast after Clyde's mom died. Then, as time went on, more and more bad things happened until we were all stripped of our childlike wonder.

Craig was the one who took real life really hard. I still remember the day he told me he didn't want to play spaceman anymore. No more days playing in the sunshine, blowing on dandelions to make wishes come true, or playing hide and seek in freshly washed sheets hanging from the line. It happens to everyone eventually, but I didn't want to grow up.

I still don't.

I'm lonely and confused as water falls out of the sky and soaks my already damp clothes. I can feel the chill of the air in my bones. All I want to do is curl up somewhere dry.

I begin to pass the wooden toys. A playhouse, a train, and a submarine stand only feet away from each other. These weren't here when me and my friends were kids. They were added in just a couple years ago. I've never paid too much mind to them because they don't give me any nostalgic memories like the rest of the playground.

I bet they're dry inside, though.

I come to the submarine. There's a hole at the mouth of the wooden toy that's just barely big enough for me to squeeze into. I crawl in carefully as not to hurt myself. There's a fake steering wheel at the other side, along with a pretend scope that takes up a lot of space. Still, nothing matters besides the fact that it's dry and big enough for me to seek refuge in. I crawl deeper inside on my hands and knees. I'm shaking and quivering because of how cold I am, but I still prefer this over being at the movies with Craig and Bebe.

God, what is wrong with me?

I yank my phone out of my pocket and set it down on the chilly wood beside me. I hope that the water didn't do any damage, but I have an amazingly protective case to help combat my clumsiness. This phone has been inside a toilet, several cups of coffee, a freezer, and dropped off of a roof onto a sidewalk. If it still works after all that I'm not scared of a little rain.

I curl up into a tight little ball, unable to contain my convulsions as I sniffle.

I don't want to think about Craig anymore.

Sometimes I want to forget that he ever existed so that I can stop being in so much pain all the time, but the pain is a small price to pay for all the other things he makes me feel.

In an attempt to clear my restless mind I close my eyes, relax my muscles, and listen to the rain.

...

My whole body is stiff. When I try to stretch out my aching legs they don't make it very far. They hit the side of something hard. I can hear a very distinct pattern of noise that's fuzzy and static sounding, and as my brain adjusts it starts to sound more and more like rain. Realizing I'm not in bed I jolt awake, shaking and confused.

I look around for a moment before I remember where I am, and heave out a disgusting hacking cough. I have no idea how long I've been out here, but the weather outside is just as it was before I drifted off. I reach out for my phone to check the time, ignoring messages as I do so.

Well fuck, no wonder I'm feeling sick. I've been laying out here in my wet clothes for nearly an hour. I run my fingers through my hair as I heave out another cough. My body is stiff and pruned. I can still feel water squishing between my toes and my socks.

I'm just about ready to crawl out and run home, but I hear a knock on the other side of the wood that startles me.

After a moment's pause I call out, "Um, hello?"

Someone moves in front of the hole, blocking light as they peer inside.

"Tweek?"

Craig.

Of course.

I'm curious how he found me, but far too warn down to ask.

"What the fuck are you doing in there?" he asks, although he doesn't sound as mad as he does relieved.

I shrug, my clothes squishing as I move. His eyebrows scrunch together, and he tilts his head slightly to the side. I can see him clearly through the mouth of the wooden sub, rain still pouring down on him relentlessly although he doesn't seem to notice or care. His short bangs and the blue cloth of his ear flaps are sticking to his face as he eyes me firmly, and I just wish he would leave me alone.

"You look really sick." I can tell he's trying his best to display concern, but the emotionless tone of his voice doesn't show it very well. "Come out."

"No. Go away," I demand like a spoiled child. My voice is horse and cracking horribly, but I have no fucks left to give.

Suddenly his face changes, and he grips at the mouth with either hand to see if it's possible for him to come in after me. He's way too big to fit.

"Don't be stubborn," he pleads with me. A waver of emotion finally comes through now that he realizes he can't just reach in and pull me out. He doesn't like it when I'm too far away for him to grab onto.

I lean back against the fake steering wheel and curl my legs up against my chest in rebellion.

"Tweek." His voice is low and threatening, but all that does is fuel my childish behavior.

"Just leave me alone!" I plead, my voice wavering and cracking as I try again to keep myself from crying.

"No." He is firm on the fact that he isn't going anywhere until he's got me out of this submarine.

I can't believe he's doing this, crouched outside my little wooden refuge, suffering the heavy, frigid rain that's pounding down on him so hard now that he keeps wiping streams of water out of his eyes.

These are the sort of moments that make up for all the pain.

I stick my tongue out at him. He does it back, showing off his ridiculous body modification as he wiggles both halves of his split tongue in opposite directions.

"That's gross," I comment.

"Yup," he replies loud enough so that I can hear. A little smile unfolds on his face as he remains crouched outside in the horrid weather.

"You're going to get a cold," I mumble.

"Yup."

We're both sitting here, soaked through completely and probably getting horribly sick. Yet, even with our health on the line, I continue this immature game.

"I'm not coming out, Craig," I declare as a warning, pretending I want him leave even though I know he won't.

"That's okay," is all he utters.

We sit there as minutes tick by, and the longer he's out in the rain the worse I feel. I shift uncomfortably. My ass is finally going numb from sitting on this hard floor for so long. Still, he's just squatting there, unfazed by mother nature's angry wrath as he waits patiently for me to come out. It seems he's so strong not even the forces of nature can shake him.

As time continues to tick away I start coughing violently. I guess hearing me in distress triggers the protective side of him, because he moves forward and extends his arm like he wants to pull me out. I press myself against the steering wheel, determined not to let him snatch me up as he reaches inside. He doesn't make a grab for me, though. He just gives me his hand as a wordless offer for help. I finally give up and crawl towards him. He helps me as I squeeze my way out head first by hooking his fingers under my armpits so that he can pull me out.

I expect him to set me down once he knows I'm okay, but he ends up hoisting me up against his chest instead. He clings to my tiny frame as I latch onto him, wrapping my legs around his belly and locking my arms around his neck. I bury my face deep into his damp shoulder as he holds me high up above the ground. Suddenly, I feel so relieved that he's here.

He's leaning his head over me as if it can protect me from the rain showering us relentlessly. I can feel that we're moving, but I don't know where he's taking me. I don't really care either, because I'm at ease knowing that this huge, powerful man has every intention of defending me with all he has despite his usual hateful and destructive nature. It's one of the reasons I can't help but latch onto him. There's a downside, though, because the more kindness and concern he shows the more it hurts.

The more I want to tell him.

Suddenly I can't feel the water anymore, and when I look up I realize we're under the beams of a wooden roof. I can feel the damp cloth of his favorite hat against my cheek. I bring my hand to the back of his head so that I can feel it with my fingers, unsure if the sensation is just some illusion or dream because of how surreal I feel inside.

He leans over and sits me down on a little bench. I pry my arms and legs away against their will before he shakes himself off. I watch the nasty weather outside of the play house window as I continue to shake. It's so fucking cold out here, and it doesn't help that I'm soaked to the bone. Craig is staring at me, his unshakable gaze piercing right through me.

I can't believe he can stand up in here, considering his status as a skyscraper.

"Take off your shirt," he demands.

I'm baffled by the order at first, at least until I realize it's probably because it's wet. I shakily undo all the little green buttons and slip the soggy thing off before tossing it to the wooden floor.

I hear him sit beside me. Cloth rubs against cloth and a zipper unzips, but I don't think too much about it until I feel something heavy drape around my shoulders. My eyes widen in surprise as he nudges me, waiting for my arms to slip into the sleeves of his huge jacket.

I'm amazed by how dry and warm it is on the inside. Slowly, I humor him by putting my arms in the fabric. It's much too big for me. Once I've finished, he takes a hold of my thin hips. I jump, but he's just shifting my position so that I'm facing him.

He's being so slow and careful I don't really know what to make of it. He's always been pretty touchy with me, but never quite like this.

He pulls the cloth together at the bottom so that he can latch the zipper together, and a blush forms on my cheeks as he zips it all the way up to my chin.

The jacket is so big I'm practically swimming in it. I'm sure it would go down past my hips if I were to stand up. Still, it's so damn warm inside I feel like I could just curl up in it and go back to sleep, all the while whiffing in the scent that is purely Craig. His hands are still on me. They're lingering on my chest as he tries to smooth out the wrinkles in his jacket, which is only making my blush a deeper red.

He's looking at me.

He's looking at me the same way he looks at Bebe when she cries. It's making my chest bubble up again, and there's nothing I can do to make it stop.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" he grumbles.

"W-what?" I blurt out in my confusion, tripping over my words as I do so. My voice is shaking tremendously. I'm not sure if it's because I'm cold or if it's because it's Craig who's warming me up.

"Why the fuck would you ditch us like that?" He doesn't sound mad, but he doesn't sound very happy either.

"I was worried about you."

The confession falls gently and delicately from his lips, gracing my awestruck ears as I freeze in my skin. If anyone else said that it would have been nothing more than a phrase, something repeated so many times it no longer held any real value. This is Craig, though.

My face flushes, and all I want to do is curl back up against him and apologize profusely.

"I'm sorry," I choke out on the very verge of tears. I'm sniffling and whimpering like a sick dog as I tighten the cloth of his jacket around me. It's not nearly as dry on the outside. "I can't tell you."

He raises a brow at me, suddenly intrigued now that he knows I'm hiding something. "Why not?"

"GAH! Because it's a secret! Gosh, Craig, don't pester me!" I ramble defensively.

He smiles to himself, but that's really about all he does before he takes his hands off me and averts his piercing gaze out the window. Just being in his presence is so calming and reassuring. A bluish glow created from the thick overcast and downpour is seeping in through the windows of the little playhouse as I listen to Craig's paced breathing through the sounds of the rain. Everything inside these speckled, wooden walls seems tranquil and at peace despite the massive storm raging outside.

In here with Craig I don't have anything to worry about.

My chest starts thumping as he pulls his gaze back to my face, and for quite some time we just sit there staring at one another. I can feel something thick in the air between us as I soak up the image of his bold features, but his narrow eyes, long nose, thin lips, and defined jaw line have already been burned into my head a long time ago. I don't want to just look anymore; I want to know what they would feel like under my fingertips.

I want to scoot closer and feel his arms around me.

Like Bebe does.

"I like you more than I'm supposed to," I suddenly confess in a faint whisper, no longer able to keep the secret that I once held onto with white knuckles. I feel the water in my eyes welling up again, waiting for the look of confusion or disapproval that's sure to soon be plastered on his face. Everything inside of me is vibrating as tears finally overflow and stain my cheeks.

God he must think I'm pathetic.

The apple in his throat bobs, and his eyebrows pinch together as his brilliant blue eyes lock with my dull green ones. He looks conflicted, which is definitely not something I was anticipating. He brings his hand to my face, making every muscle in my body stiffen up as he uses the rough pad of his thumb to wipe away the mixture of rain and tears that's gathered on my cheek. He licks his dry lips with both halves of his split tongue, more in thought than anything else as he tries to collect himself and speak. He has something to say, but Craig, being the way he is, can't quite get the words to come out.

I whisper his name.

All I wanted was to snap him out of his stupor, but I only added to the tension between us when his name fell out of my mouth as a breathy plea.

In response he slowly leans over in a calculated movement. It throws me so off guard all I can do in my confusion is lean away until the solid wall keeps me from going any further. A hand moves stiffly from my shoulder to my hip as he pins me against his upper half and the wall. His face is hovering dangerously close as the warmth of his hand chases away the cold in my cheek.

I'm so confused all I can do is stare with wide eyes as he leans into me. His face is so close to mine that I can feel his breath, which puts my overworked heart in shock.

I'm sure it's stopped beating.

I can feel his lips gently brush against mine. It's not quite a kiss, but so close it makes a little gasp escape from my throat.

He stops.

My heart suddenly bursts back to life when my brain catches up to what's happening. It's all so wrong, I know that it is although I can't really remember why right now. The look in his eyes is hypnotizing me. It says that he wants this, but the hesitation of his lips says that he knows so much better. He doesn't move away, though. No matter how wrong this is he just can't pull away.

Adrenaline is pumping through my veins at high speeds. It makes my heart pound violently in anticipation as my brain goes completely numb. I really can't believe this is happening. I can't believe that these are really Craig's hands lingering all over me, that it's really Craig's lips barely grazing my own. I can smell his overwhelming scent. It's not cologne or detergent, it's just Craig. A smell no one in the world could ever manufacture or duplicate.

He presses me against the wall, wrapping me up in him as he suddenly works his pierced lips against mine. I can feel the metal of his piercings press against my mouth. Every part of my body tingles and vibrates down to the very core, unable to handle everything that I'm feeling at once as I'm engulfed in his presence. I throw away every shred of moral fiber I ever possessed when I hesitantly bring my tiny hands to his face and allow my lips to press back. I feel his hands on me as the cloth of his jacket rubs against my otherwise unclothed sides.

I feel like my chest cavity is home to a supernova, expanding and brightening as a catastrophic explosion racks through my body and sets all of my nerves aflame. It's only a kiss, my plump and delicate skin brushing against his rough, chapped lips. Yet, it's so much more.

He gravitates slowly backwards, pulling his lips away from mine. His heavy eyes are watching me carefully as he idles just a few inches away. Our hot puffs of breath collide and mingle, and my entire body is on the verge of convulsing.

He's still leaned over me, as hard and unmoving as a statue while he waits for me to react. There's a hint of something on his face, something so unsure and unsettled as he retracts his hands from my quivering body.

Bebe.

Fuck. I was so caught up in my bliss that I completely forgot she even existed, let alone that she and Craig were just embracing and whispering like all happy couples do just an hour ago.

I'm feeling sort of dizzy, overwhelmed by my realization as I begin an explosive and panicked rant. I scream at first, pretty much incoherent babble as I ask him what the fuck he was thinking, leaning down and kissing me like that while he already has a girlfriend. This is too much pressure, and I have no problem telling him that as my tangent continues. He waits patiently, offering me nothing but a blank stare as I slowly run out of steam.

Then, when I finally go quiet, he replies. His face is just as emotionless as ever as he quietly states, "You kissed back."

His tone isn't accusatory, just gentle.

Sadly, he's right. I'm just as at fault as he is, but when I felt him so close to me my mind became so clouded I probably wouldn't have even known my own name. My heart was fluttering, engulfed completely in the gorgeous realization that Craig wasn't apologizing or turning away from me.

He was embracing me.

He was kissing me.

That was what I had always wanted, but always knew better than to hope for. Yet, here he is, soaked through to the bone out in this chilly weather, all because he was worried about me. He's trying his best to expose his feelings through his actions rather than words.

All of this is an unfaltering confession of his own.

"But, what about Bebe?" I ask breathlessly.

He leans back against the wall behind him. His eyes look far off in some distant place as he tries to answer my question. I can still hear all the noises from outside. The distant sound of rolling thunder sinks down from the sky and the steady rain beats on the roof.

"Don't worry, this is just between us."

I look over at him, my watering eyes wide at what he's insinuating. As a strong, reasonable human being I should know better than to agree to something like this. I should stop this before it starts, choosing to stay with him this way would only make me a monster.

Timidly, I scoot closer to him. He opens his arm, inviting me in and holding my scared little frame against his side. I've never been a very good person, but I can be a little uglier inside if Craig wants me to be.

I can be a monster.