The farthest I got in third hour was to the door when Clyde ground out dude between his teeth and pushed himself out of his seat. I could see the contortion of his features from the front of the class. His eyes were blazing, auburn color flickering savagely. There was an enraged downward curl to his lips. With this, I could tell that him and his team had most definitely had a productive conversation regarding Tweek. They'd shared in the offense they took to his slander and had decided how to redeem themselves. He waited for me to reach him before shoving me in the chest. It was a warning, nothing with enough force to actually make me budge. "Learn to control gay fucking friend," he seethed.
I clamped down on his shoulder and thrust him back down into his seat. As I took my own, I said, "Tell me that you have control over your team and I'll do what I can."
"Do you even know what he did?" I nodded my head. "Did he tell you the truth?" I shrugged my shoulders. "Well, I can tell you right now he's not getting through the day without getting the shit beat out of him," Clyde spat.
"So what makes your version so special?" Leaning back in my chair, I stuck my legs out and crossed them at the ankle. "What did Tweek keep from me?"
"How do you even put up with him?" Of course I would be entirely ignored. Once my best friend got going, he could never figure out how to stop. "That kid is crazy. One day he's going to snap and use a knife or a gun or something. You won't be so indifferent when that happens."
His argument was pointless. "Tweek's too scared to use a plastic knife."
Clyde ran a hand through his rich cocoa colored hair, frazzled by my nonchalance. "He's psychotic, Craig!"
Those early to class glanced over their shoulders to spectate the small outburst. Our teacher, residing at her desk, stared us down threateningly. She had no tolerance toward distractions, knew how to keep order and a silent classroom. The bell would be ringing, meaning that she would have full rein in the next few minutes. It was clear that she was waiting for that moment to crack down on us. We needed to get out what we could before that happened, because once it did, the only way we'd be able to hold a conversation was on our way to detention.
"And you care too much," I retorted. "You act like Tweek is the only one talking shit. Plenty of people say worse things about you guys all the time. I can guarantee your own team members do. Just like you do them. This is high school, Clyde. You shouldn't expect anything less." The football team was practically one gigantic brother to me for all of the secrets Clyde's had the courtesy of generously sharing.
An airy scoff, one of disbelief, left the confines of Clyde's mouth. "He beat up a girl. The benchwarmer he antagonized? His girlfriend tried to help so he attacked her, too. She's got two black eyes, dude."
"He would've done the same if she'd been a guy." I shrugged my shoulders. "She got in his way. There's really not a difference."
"Not a difference?" The brunette exclaimed, incredulity marring the tone of his voice. "Craig, it was uncalled for! He hit a girl."
The female population needed to learn how to suck it up then. "Tweek's gay. He's practically a girl, too." At Clyde's dubious expression, I asked, "Did she hit him?"
"Uh, yeah. He was jumping her boyfriend."
"That's a great way to avoid conflict," I mock determined. "She shouldn't have gotten in the middle of it. She could've called the cops. She could've gotten help." If a girl was able to put herself in a situation like that, then she was able to handle the repercussions of doing so. Especially when Tweek was involved. He was unbiased like that, treating everyone fairly even toward gender because that was what he wanted in return.
"You can't just—"
The bell rang. A straggler at the door, one foot in the classroom, was told to go to sweep—a designated area in the cafeteria where students were sent for being late to class. During that time, I told Clyde my verdict just as he and the football team had decided theirs. "You can eat lunch with Token. I'm going to be with Tweek today. Have fun getting through me."
Brow furrowing, lip curling, Clyde growled, "Fuck you."
"Language!" Our teacher snapped, tapping her pad of detention slips ominously. She was getting short, I noticed, and would need to restock soon.
My best friend was quiet for the rest of the period, although the glares he sent me throughout class weren't as subtle. I feigned ignorance toward his behavior, rattling him far too easily. He was borderline finger-across-the-neck, I'm-going-to-slit-your-throat threatening me every time I checked on him out of the corner of my eye. I'd started to purposefully glance at him just to see him become instantly alert and feral.
He would've been twice as upset had be known how amusing his little tantrum was, that it effectively passed the time for me. I got the best kick out of his request that he work alone on our newly assigned partner project, something that I'd relish in the future because he'd have no choice but to reconsider and ask for my assistance.
By the time the hour was almost over, I was pretty damn proud of myself for suggesting that Tweek come by before lunch. I imagined him busying himself in the hallway, rocking onto the heels of his boots and raking his fingers through his hair. He'd worry his bottom lip and make sure the time was right, that he wasn't an hour ahead of schedule or accidentally there for fifth period instead of third. Clyde was going to lose control of his bowels when he saw the blonde outside the door. Tweek would, too.
Today was turning out exceptionally well for being a Monday.
Over the intercom, one single note rang shrill, releasing each class to lunch. The agitated brunette shot from his seat, giving me a dead stare on his way to the door.
I followed, hands in my pockets, anticipation in the drum of my fingers against my thighs. He exited the door, and through the rushing of the student body, I saw him take a look down the hallway on either side, from the left and to the right. It was then that his features hardened into steel plates of steaming rage. I watched him as he violated Tweek's personal space, got real close, and spat, "Fuck you." The same treatment I'd received.
Tweek responded to his provocation, recognized it and related to it. A healthy color rose to his cheeks and his eyebrows shot up enthusiastically. "You do that," he answered, eyes bright compared to the withering shade of nervous green they'd previously been.
Clyde and Tweek stared at each other, nearly brushing bodies as they inspected both their invader and challenger. A menacing aura shifted like fog, spinning between their feet, and piquing those around them. There was a zone of sorts encompassing their conjoined space. The blonde was significantly shorter, nose upturned to meet Clyde, but he was unfazed by his own dainty stature.
Slowly, the two separated, easing away toward their respective directions. It was all very primal and ridiculously entertaining. Even more so when Tweek turned around, the sight of me completely obliterating his threatening facade.
I smirked and took an inviting step forward. He returned my expression, biting down on his lip as he entered my bland atmosphere, a stark difference from the engaging one he'd just briefly participated in. We usually hugged and he was always the first to initiate contact, but since our kiss, the blonde was being tentative. It was endearing, this bashfulness he often possessed. It was why I liked him. It was also why I liked to mess with his head.
So I kept my hands to myself and gestured with my chin down the hallway. There was a set of double doors at the end that led to the cafeteria. Tweek would want to go there because they served soup at the salad bar and soup was his favorite.
"Are y-you sure we shouldn't leave campus for lunch?" He asked, walking with me down the designated hallway anyways.
"It's useless hiding from them. I shouldn't even be your bodyguard, but maybe I can talk them down."
"I thought you said you'd t-talk to Clyde!" His tone was accusatory.
"I did." The blonde frowned. "He told me that you're getting beat up. It's inevitable."
His steps faltered as he gawked up at me. "But you'd fight with me, though. Right?"
"If you were getting the shit beat out of you, sure."
"Why didn't you mention that you hit that guy's girlfriend?"
Just as before, Tweek chose not to speak for however long he deemed appropriate. He was very determined about it. We drifted through the hall, mingling with the flow in silence between ourselves. There was incoherent chatter around us like white noise in the back of my head. When he did choose to speak, I had to strain to hear him.
"I-I wasn't sure what your view on hitting girls was. Everyone's u-usually really conservative about it."
"Do I come across as conservative to you?" I asked, brows raised.
He became flustered, cheeks pink. "I didn't want to turn you off! I… God, Craig. I like you." Rubbing at his arm, he repeated himself. "I like you a lot."
I inwardly hummed at his confession, wrapping up his words inside my chest and letting them reside there to give off heat and affection. "Well I think it's pretty cool that you hit a girl and didn't give a shit."
"Really?" The blonde looked up at me with the same awe in his pastel colored eyes as before. The one that had followed with a kiss.
"Yeah, I did. But don't start beating them up just to impress me or anything," I teased, grinning when his blush spread across his nose.
"I wont," he assured me certainly.
We entered the crowded cafeteria, shoulders shoved together in the massive disarray of students. There were reasons why I left campus at lunch and this was a primary cause. That and the noise. All I could hear was a combination of every single conversation taking place and mouths squishing food damp with grease. The fries had no crunch and the taco shells were stale. Administration here favored softer foods so that the cafeteria could hide all of the oil better.
Tweek had little time to gather his surroundings, to compose himself amongst the horde of our classmates before I tugged him behind me. He stumbled against my back, gripping my shirt tightly to keep himself balanced. Through the mob, I'd caught sight of a familiar pack of jersey jackets. They were cutting through the populated lunch tables, a small group consisting of only the most egotistically tender.
They approached us, parting the crowd as they were either given room or made it themselves. The blonde peeked around my body, hands quickly transforming into fists against the small of my back. "Craig," he cautioned. I felt his cheek press against my shoulder blade.
One of the football players pointed at me and thrust his thumb over his shoulder, motioning for me to get the hell out of the way. They knew me, though. I did practice with them when Clyde begged me to keep him company on the field. They knew I wasn't going anywhere.
Another, who I supposed was probably the most offended by Tweek because he was in front, said to me: "Move, Tucker."
Nonverbally, I shook my head. My downplay didn't disinterest the immediate collection of students around us. All were passing curious looks or gathering their friends.
"So the faggot wants to hide?" He mused in order to provoke the blonde, crossing his arms and tilting his head to the side.
Much to his chagrin, "faggot" worked on Tweek the way "talentless" worked on the football team. He poked his head through the space between my torso and my arm; I grabbed the nape of his neck to keep him at my side.
Those in front of us smirked and sneered at his appearance. "Let's go, faggot?"
The blonde's neck strained against my fingers.
I physically warned him to remain motionless by tightening my hold. These guys just wanted to scare him. There wouldn't be any fighting. Football was too important to them. If they started anything, they'd get kicked off the team and they were smarter than that. This wasn't so much about me keeping the football team away from Tweek as it was me keeping Tweek away from the football team, because if he cracked first, then that was when there was going to be a fight. Nobody would be holding back at that point.
Neither of us noticed Cartman standing off to the side, blocked from our peripheral by a layer of accumulated students.
It was in wood shop that he revealed his intentions. The beginning of them, at least.
There was a familiarity to this hour, fifth period. I didn't want to like it. It had a little too much douche bag, stupid fuck, sleazy bastard, and homo in it. Respectively that meant: Stan, Cartman, Kenny, and Kyle.
Classes where I remarkably knew no one—I'd gone to elementary and junior high with so many of them that it was close to impossible getting a class without a good chuck of the same old idiots—were my favorite. Something had to have happened in the system for me to get assigned this load of shit, though.
I would've dropped the class, hands down. But Tweek had been thrown into the same bullshit situation. I'd switched out his study hall request for wood shop when turning in our class application sheets last year, and I guessed everyone else had been smart enough not to ask for it since he and I never got classes together. There must've been room to bunch all of us together because I never got so many dumbasses in one sitting.
"Craig. Tweek." Cartman greeted, chummy in the way he came over to our table and smiled at us. We had been hunched over the blonde's homework from another class—an AP course so he was getting fucked over already. His notes were out and he was listening diligently as I tried to make sense of them where he could not. Our knees were touching, a brush that'd been gingerly implemented, but once registered as Tweek's, had grown firmer.
We raised our eyes at the distraction. Cartman smiled wider once he had our attention. "I saw you gais at lunch. Getting into fights so soon?"
Excusing him, Tweek looked at me and asked, "How did you just do number five?"
Cartman became flustered at being ignored, further irritated when the bell silenced whatever he'd been planning on saying next. A balding man wearing the most unfortunate sweater vest that I was positive Tweek's stomach was roiling over came through the door and commanded that the class take a seat. I watched an enraged Cartman stalk toward a table to share a word with his friends.
Stan and Kyle glanced in our direction while Kenny rolled his eyes and leaned back in his seat. Whatever had been said, he wasn't partial to it. He was too fond of Tweek and I.
There was a grin pulling at the corners of Tweek's mouth. I knocked our shoulders together, subtly rewarding him. He smiled wider at my acknowledgement.
"No screwing around, alright?" Our teacher's voice was authoritative, overpowering the squeak of the dry erase marker against the white board every time he made the stem of a letter like D or L. Once his name was written out for the class, he turned around and surveyed the students he'd been given.
His eyes were inspecting each of us and I could feel it when they focused on me in an attempt to deduce what kind of treatment he'd receive from me this year. I sat there, expression impassive, and wondered if he knew that I wouldn't be difficult not because I was an ass but because my apathy surpassed my motivation to complete schoolwork. It was going to take a lot out of me to do anything in this class and it was going to take a lot out of him as well. I probably wouldn't get anything done until the final weeks were I'd bust out some C grade material just to get by.
"So who are my troublemakers this semester?" Mr. Adler asked once he'd completed his analysis, palms flat against his desk as he leaned forward.
Two names were given to him. One in unison from Stan and Kyle, another from Cartman.
Cartman harshly whispered, "I thought we agreed on Craig, you gais."
They could've been right except that they were the ones always causing trouble. All they ever did were stupid things that got irrelevant others involved. I would know. I've been sucked into their interpretation of "fun" before. It really sucked.
Tweek and I looked at each other. "Yeah, Craig," he giggled. "I think that's pretty agreeable."
Between the slight part of our thighs, I stuck my middle finger out and continued to glance down at it expectantly until the blonde got the gist and followed the line of my sight. He rolled his eyes at my gesture and grabbed onto to my finger to try and force it back into place. "Come on, Tweek," I teased. "You're not even strong enough to move a finger?"
"Asshole," he grumbled beneath his breath, still fussing with my hand futilely. He snuck his fingers beneath my own, probably figuring that if he couldn't put one down that he'd be able to move the rest of them up. I gave him some leeway for being amusing and smirked when it happened to be that his intentions weren't to control my hand at all. He'd just wanted to hold it, weave our fingers together shyly, almost experimentally. His hands were small and I liked that.
A soft pink pigment appeared on his cheeks, contrasting with the bruise along his jawline. He bit his lip where it wasn't cut and glanced up at me tentatively to make sure that this was okay. My pulse was erratic, an addictive thrum that sang through my veins. It was a powerful sensation and Tweek wasn't allowed to take it away. I situated my hold so that it was tighter, more reassuring. He smiled this fleeting thing that lingered on his lips and crowded my head. Repeated images of how pleasant he looked surfaced inside of my brain.
"Are you gais retarded? Craig would totally win!" Cartman boasted, causing my attention to fixate on the argument he was having with Stan and Kyle while a fraction of me was still idly stuck on Tweek.
The blonde was in the same conflicted condition, glancing over his shoulder at the three and then back at me.
"I don't know, dude," Kyle disagreed. "Tweek's a speedy fuck." Said speedy fuck had to ask me if they were talking about the two of us fighting each other. I nodded my head. "What's your argument?"
"That Craig is huge!" Cartman threw his hands in my direction to emphasize his point even though I was hunched over in my seat. "Blonde homos don't stand a chance."
Because of Cartman's comment, I was given a kick from beneath the table.
"Craig's a beast, sure, but he knows how to fight too well," Kyle said.
Stan added, "But Tweek doesn't know how to hold back. He doesn't stop."
The blonde mumbled indignantly like unlimited energy was a bad thing. Stan was voting for him. He always had to find some way to turn everything anyone said into an insult.
Cartman scowled. "I'll bet you Craig will beat his ass."
For a second time, Tweek and I made quick eye contact. "Are w-we going to fight?"
"Bet us what?" Kyle asked, disbelieving Cartman and that he would give away anything worth betting over.
"I won't call you a dirty Jew for a whole week." The redhead called him a liar. "I'll give you fifty bucks." The redhead reminded him that he was broke. "The hell, brah! What do you want from me?"
Kyle grinned and exchanged a look with Stan. "I want you to apologize to Tweek for ever making fun of him because he's going to prove you wrong."
The hand in mine went slightly slack and the specified terms caused Cartman to freeze up. He shot a vehement glare in Tweek's direction before pursing his lips together tightly. It would injure his dignity to meet the redhead's requirements, but he was a sucker for a good fight. I didn't necessarily blame him since the blonde and I were nearly the ideal fighting match.
"Fine," he eventually grunted. "But if you lose, you have to suck Kip Drordy's dick." When his only answer was a humorless stare, he said, "Okay, okay! Just give me seventy-five bucks. Cash," he clarified. Because Kyle paid in gold teeth and silver dollars.
"I'll split the cost if we lose," Stan offered.
"Okay," Kyle agreed. "We're not going to lose, though."
Their bulky douche of a friend scoffed and went as far as to shake on it.
"You two." He pointed at Tweek and I. "Fight. After school. And I suppose I could find it in me to apologize to the gay boy."
"I guess we are fighting," I mused, my hand suffocating inside of the blonde's temperamental grasp.
A/N: I'm unsure as to whether or not I'm going to switch out "gais" with the grammatically correct version :/ Damn you, Eric Cartman.