Chapter Track: Valium Knights – Spinnerette
Although it's summer vacation, Tweek's mornings tend to begin early. He doesn't mind, because he doesn't sleep much, anyway. Some combination of his pills and his brain makes him skulk around his house at night or toss and turn in his bed with his eyes wide open until his body has enough and crashes for hours – he doesn't know why. He can't stop it. One day bleeds into another, days that are always the same.
But Tweek doesn't mind that, either. He likes his regular schedule of turning off the television at five o'clock in the morning, preparing himself a coffee cocktail with a dash of hard liquor to swallow down the bouquet of pills he gets from his psychiatrist and from Kenny McCormick, and tromping to Tweak Bros to start a day of work.
Tweek opens the shop at exactly six every morning. The first two hours of the day are always the busiest, when everybody comes to get their coffee before they go to work. Otherwise his days are slow and boring – they're safe. There aren't many people around, and he likes it that way.
Today, after Sharon Marsh gets her usual skinny latte at eight thirty, no more customers come until noon. Bebe and Wendy show up then, catching Tweek in the middle of a riveting scene in his book, a used scifi that he got at the used bookstore in the next town over for a buck fifty. He likes when Bebe and Wendy come in – they're always polite to him and both of them are good tippers, and after they finish their drinks they always make sure to put the cups in the dirty dish bin before they leave the shop.
It's a quiet job, in his quiet town. He can't complain.
It suits him.
When Tweek is around too many people, he feels overwhelmed, no matter how much vodka is in his thermos. This is why, despite all the craziness that this town sees, that he likes South Park. He already knows everybody that lives here. It's small. The town has calmed down in recent years. Beyond the antics of bored teenagers, not much happens. He's been going to school with the same people for his entire life (though hitting high school has been a challenge, as the high school is county-wide and he doesn't know everybody).
This is why he knows that Craig Tucker shouldn't be standing at the counter in front of him in Tweak Bros, because Craig Tucker is supposed to be locked away in juvenile hall.
Craig waves his hand in front of Tweek's face and says, "Hello? Anybody in there?"
He marks his book and sets it down with the rest of his things where he stashes them beside the register, "Um," Tweek manages.
Very eloquent, Tweek.
"What c-can I get you?" he asks quietly. Inside, he groans at the appearance of his stammer. Years of speech classes since elementary school have done away with it for the most part, but when he's nervous or surprised, sometimes he can't help it.
Two years ago there was a big to-do at the Tucker house. The entire neighborhood watched Craig get hauled out in handcuffs, with flashing lights and more than one cop car – the whole nine yards. Tweek hears that he ended up on White Trash and In Trouble, but he never cared to check if it was true. Cartman filmed it and uploaded it onto Youtube.
And nobody really knows what Craig did, but for all that drama? Tweek's bet is on murder.
There is a murderer in his parents' coffee shop.
Craig scratches the hair underneath his blue hat and answers, "Just a bottomless coffee. You guys still do that, right?" He definitely looks different than he did two years ago. Then again, two years ago, they were fourteen and couldn't have been more awkward (Tweek is still awkward and doubts he'll ever grow out of it, but oh well). His dark hair is longer and unkempt, and he's at least half a foot taller, beating Tweek by a solid couple of inches.
He also has a scar on his face.
It's not very long, just about an inch and a half of puckered pink skin.
"Did you get that in a prison knife fight?" Tweek asks, because he can't help himself.
Craig reaches up and touches it. He lifts a brow at Tweek and replies, "Nah. Just from messing around. How about that coffee?"
"Uh, yeah. Sorry," Tweek babbles. He scrambles back and pours Craig black coffee in one of their red mugs, the ones that they use so that they know the customer can have as many refills as they'd like. He passes it to Craig and mumbles, "Um, two dollars and ninety cents, please."
Craig digs in the pocket of his cargo shorts. He dumps a number of things on the counter between them – a blue pen, a half-used up pack of gum, some loose cigarettes, and a pocketknife.
Tweek glances down at it nervously and blurts, "Is this a stick-up?"
Craig blinks at him, "Stick-up? What is this, a spaghetti western? I'm just looking for my money." He dumps a handful of change onto the counter and has Tweek count out the right amount while he replaces his things in his pockets.
Craig picks a table in the back of the shop and dumps his backpack onto one of the seats. He pulls out some papers and a book and sits in the opposite seat. He looks harmless, sort of. Except for the scar. Tweek still bets prison knife fight.
For the next several minutes, Tweek wonders if he should call his parents and ask them to cover for him, mainly because he doesn't want to be in the same building as a suspected murderer – but Craig doesn't seem to be doing anything particularly murderous, really. He screws his headphones into his ears and takes his blue pen out of his pocket, chewing on the end while he concentrates on the papers on his table.
Few customers come after Craig. It's only Thursday, and most people are holed up at work, or out enjoying their summer vacation. Tweek doesn't like being outside in the summer. It's too hot and sunny, and his allergies flare up like nobody's business. Night time is better. This far into the mountains, you can see what seems like every last star in the sky.
To pass the time until cleanup and closing, Tweek slides his laptop out of his bag. He dicks around on the internet for a while the sun sets, but he makes sure to keep an eye on Craig. Craig only moves to get coffee refills and go to the bathroom. Still – who knows what else he could have in his pockets.
Tweek gets involved in reading articles about the impending Mars landing. His mind drifts from planets outside of their solar system, and outside of their galaxy – about the things that might live there, and the technology that they might have.
"What the hell kind of laptop is that?"
Craig is standing at the counter.
"Gah! S-shit, you scared me," Tweek accuses. Craig has his backpack back on, and his table in the back is clear. But he doesn't look like a man about to knife a barista, just – curious.
"It's an Alienware laptop," Tweek replies.
"Never seen one before," remarks Craig, "They expensive? It's kind of cool looking. Hey, you wanna come hang out? This place is boring, we could chill at my place."
"I have to work," Tweek says, and points at his apron.
"So? Just call your parents and tell them that there's nobody here and you're gonna take off," responds Craig.
Tweek shakes his head. No, his parents would not like if he abandoned his responsibilities. They're strict about that stuff. He doesn't put starving him to death past his parents, really, and so he doesn't want to do anything that might piss them off. He says back, "I can't. Tweak Bros stays open until nine o'clock every day except for Sunday, so I have to be here until nine o'clock."
Craig holds up his hands and says, "Okay, whatever."
The bell on the door rings as Craig marches out, and Tweek watches as he makes his way down the block, toward the residential section of South Park.
Nobody else does come that night, and after sweeping and mopping the floors, Tweek closes at exactly nine. He has to walk home, which puts him on edge tonight. What is Craig Tucker doing back in South Park? He's a dangerous convict, at least as far as the rumor mill went. Maybe Tweek shouldn't trust rumors, but isn't it better to be safe than sorry?
When he reaches his house, it's dark and quiet inside. He hears giggling upstairs and rolls his eyes, locking the front door behind him. Tweek ducks into the kitchen and flips on the light, dumping a generous amount of Bailey's into the coffee he poured into his thermos before leaving work, and screws the lid back on. He shakes it up to mix it and swallows some down. It's good. He knows he shouldn't combine alcohol with pills, but it keeps him calm. He's always on edge, and can't seem to come down without a little help.
Tweek heads upstairs and locks his bedroom door behind him. He's learned to tune out his parents, because they obviously don't care what he hears or doesn't hear. He thinks they don't worry about it because Tweek doesn't sleep much anyway.
Most nights, Tweek ends up giving up on tossing and turning in his sheets and wanders downstairs, where he watches old X-Files episodes until it's time for him to open up the coffee shop (if it's one of his days. Most days are his days, though. His parents say that it's "an exercise in responsibility.").
Tonight, he wastes time poking through his own blog while he finishes off his coffee and Bailey's. Nobody new has commented, which is nice, because most people just comment to call him crazy.
Tweek runs a blog called "The Truth: They Are Real" about aliens and UFO sightings all over the world. He only has a handful of people that listen to him, but he's glad that somebody is willing to hear the truth – everybody else is just deluding themselves. Tweek believes that South Park in particular is a magnet for alien activity. They've had too many odd things happen in this town for normalcy.
Hours sail by as he cruises the internet. He takes a short break to try and tackle his summer homework, but can't focus and ends up treading down the stairs in his pajamas to turn on the TV.
What the hell?
Tweek hears a noise. It isn't far, though he doesn't think it's in the neighborhood.
It's some kind of buzzing, a whirring sound that is exactly –
What a UFO should sound like.
Tweek scrambles back up to his bedroom and shoves his feet into sneakers, grabbing his Alien Bag, which contains his camera, pepper spray, and items he thinks would interest beings from another planet, including season four of the reboot of Doctor Who.
He sprints back down the stairs and grabs his bike from where it's chained on the porch. The noise is coming from the highway just outside of town, he thinks. He bikes hard toward it, sweat dribbling down his face and into his pajamas. He doesn't think that aliens would mind sweat much. Maybe they'd even be interested.
South Park is quiet tonight. He sees light coming out of the basement window in Stan's house and bets that they're drinking and playing video games. Tweek sometimes wonders what he would be like if he was still friends with them. Stan and those guys aren't mean to him (except Cartman, but whatever, Cartman's a dick to everybody), but Tweek does miss having friends from time to time. He likes being alone, but he doesn't like being lonely – and he's been lonely lately.
The highway is as empty as the town, but Tweek still hears the whirring. He doesn't see anything yet, but maybe as soon as he gets over the hill he will.
But when Tweek reaches the top of the hill, there are no UFOs, and there are no strange lights. Just a pair of headlights and a car with a coffee can muffler. They're going way too fast for this highway. He doesn't like it, and likes it even less as the headlights approach. The car slows down as it gets close to where Tweek is biking along the side of the road.
And then it stops. The car pulls over onto the side of the road, right in front of Tweek's bike.
"I don't have any money!" exclaims Tweek, when the driver's door opens.
"Tweek? What are you doing out here so late?"
"What are you doing out so late?" Tweek shoots back.
"I asked you first," Craig says. He slams the door closed and leans against the car. He folds his arms and cocks a brow, "Well?"
What if Tweek caught Craig running from the cops?
Or worse, what if Craig was on the way to bury the body of one of his victims?
"You would laugh at me if I told you," Tweek responds. This is how most people tend to react to his enthusiasm about aliens.
Craig reaches into the pocket of his shorts and pulls one of the cigarettes out. He offers it to Tweek and says, "You want?"
"I don't smoke," Tweek replies.
"Suit yourself," responds Craig. He places the cigarette between his lips and lights it, taking a drag before he goes on, "Look, man. I promise I won't laugh at you. I'm just wondering why you're out on the highway biking drunk at three in the morning."
"I'm not drunk," protests Tweek, though he's not certain this is true. He's been drinking steadily all day, because he's depressed and because there's a convict living in South Park again.
"Yeah, okay, sure," Craig replies, "I'm serious, though."
"I thought – um," Tweek blushes, "I thought I heard a UFO. But it was just your car."
For an awful second, Tweek is convinced that Craig is going to laugh. He's smiling a little bit, Tweek thinks, though he can't exactly tell in the dark.
But Craig doesn't laugh. He smokes a little more and answers, "That's cool."
"…why were you out here?" Tweek asks, "You weren't burying a body, were you?"
This time, Craig does laugh. Smoke puffs out of his lungs with each chuckle, and he shakes his head, catching his breath before he speaks, "You are paranoid as fuck, Tweek. You can't tell anybody about this – I'm not supposed to be doing this stuff since they took my license, but I'm getting back into racing and stuff. I couldn't sleep, so I came out to do a practice run with Martha here." Craig pats the hood of the car.
"I won't tell," Tweek solemnly swears.
"Good," Craig answers, "Cause if anybody finds out, my parole officer is going to knife me and bury my body out here."
"I don't think parole officers are allowed to do that," Tweek tells Craig.
Craig smiles a little at that and lifts back off of his car – Martha, he called it. He sits down on the ground next to a patch of wildflowers and then lies back. He exhales a cloud of cigarette smoke and then asks, "So South Park's just the same as I left it, huh?"
"I guess so," Tweek says, "I think Stan and Kyle might be a thing, though." Tweek has always envied their friendship – he never had a best friend like that, and he doubts that he'll ever have a boyfriend like that, either. Tweek is too batshit for romantic relationships. Or any relationships, really. Everybody thinks that's weird, and they're right.
Tweek has long been resigned to a life of masturbation and television by himself. It used to bother him, but not anymore. He likes being by himself. He used to think that being by himself was scary, but now he thinks that other people are worse. At least Tweek knows what's going on in his own mind.
"There's a shocker," Craig says. He rolls his eyes and flicks his cigarette butt out into the field.
"Dude," Tweek scolds, "You can't do that, pretty much the whole state is on fire." He drops his bike and stumbles in the direction of the cigarette butt. He finds it and stomps it, kicking dirt over it until he's satisfied that it won't be setting South Park, or the nearby woods, on fire. Colorado's had a rough summer so far, and Tweek doesn't want to be on the morning news as 'one of the boys that set the South Park fire.'
"Okay, Smokey the Bear," Craig drawls, "You want a ride back to your place? You're kind of drunk, man."
"Are you going to murder me and stash my body?" asks Tweek.
"Oh no, my plans are ruined," Craig responds, sarcastic, "What is with you and murder, dude? Just let me give you a ride home. I'm being gentlemanly."
"If you didn't murder anybody, how come you got arrested? Was it drugs?" Tweek asks.
Craig goes quiet. He sits up and pulls his knees up to his chest. "Honestly," he begins, "It's embarrassing. I'm kind of not going to talk about it."
Tweek frowns but replies, "Okay." He guesses that he wouldn't want Craig to know about his own stupid things. And Tweek does a lot of stupid things. He says, "I think I'll take that ride now."
Tweek helps pull Craig onto his feet, and Craig helps Tweek load his bike onto the rack that he has mounted on the back of Martha.
Martha doesn't have air conditioning, but Craig plays good music as they speed back toward town. It's something that Tweek doesn't recognize but has good guitar, and makes him want to melt back into the seats and fall asleep. The car smells of cigarettes and pine-scented air freshener. It's a combination that Tweek didn't know that he could like, but does. It's odd, but good. Maybe he just feels nice because he's drunk. Whatever the reason, he likes it.
Craig pulls up to Tweek's house, but as Tweek puts his hand on the car door's latch, Craig stops him, saying, "Let me help you with your bike again, okay?"
Craig helps lift the bike off of the back of Martha and chain it back into place on the front porch. He pulls his hat off to run a hand through his messy hair and glances at Tweek. He says, "You probably shouldn't bike drunk. I'm just saying, man."
"I don't think it's really your business," Tweek tells him.
Craig shrugs at that and pushes his hat back into place on his head before he answers, "Can't really argue with that, I guess. I'll see you around."
"Yeah. See you."
Tweek watches Craig cut through their lawn and climb back into his car. He waits on the porch until Craig is all the way down the block, turning to get onto the next street over – the street where he lives. Lived. Or both.
Instead of watching X-Files, Tweek crawls into his bed. He doesn't sleep, just thinks. Things don't happen in South Park anymore – so why does he feel like they're going to start happening again?
Whatever's going on, Tweek hopes that it's aliens.
Yes – this is a new chapter Creek fic. I am still going to finish my Kenbe fic, but I wanted to write this out so I could at least get the idea into words. Thank you all for reading!