Categories > Cartoons > South Park > Learning to Swim - A Creek (Craig x Tweek) Fanfic

Chapter Sixteen - Muddying the Waters

by CrimsonCrowCreek 0 reviews

Over the course of several years, our faves Tweek and Craig support each other as friends and as lovers, from grade school to college, Colorado to California, to go through a lot of challenges that...

Category: South Park - Rating: R - Genres: Angst,Drama,Romance - Warnings: [V] [X] [R] [Y] - Published: 2022-04-27 - 4968 words - Complete

Muddying the Waters (to make a situation more confusing)
California, December 2014, Winter
Tweek showered as soon as he got home, trying as hard as he could to be quiet and not wake Craig. Craig shifted slightly in his sleep, dimly waking from a dream about living in his freezing trailer. The air was cool as he stirred, slowly registering the soft thrum of the shower.
Sam had been so much rougher with Tweek than Craig would ever dream of being. Tweek had cried slightly towards the end as it was happening, trying his best to force any comparison with Craig, or any thoughts or feelings, out of his brain. He kept his back to Sam throughout, not letting him see him crack.
As he silently cried again in the shower, his head down in shame, he noticed in the dim light that he was bleeding for the first time since he had lost his virginity to Craig when they were sixteen. He sniffed quietly and grabbed a towel. He started drying off his aching body carefully, but quickly devolved into roughly rubbing the towel against his skin. He moved in a way he shouldn’t have and winced as he felt himself being pulled where Sam had been.
He left the door to the bathroom slightly cracked so he didn’t have to make more noise closing it behind him. Nevertheless, he found Craig sitting up in bed with the little bedside lamp turned on, looking concerned in the dim light. Despite his weight loss he wanted Craig’s eyes on his body even less than he had before and quickly pulled the towel up to cover himself, wincing in pain as he did.
Craig cocked his head as he spoke, his voice gentle, soft, loving in a way that made Tweek have to fight down the sobs that threatening to split him open again.
“Tweek? Baby? Are you ok, honey bee?” He grabbed the covers on Tweek’s side of the bed and flicked them open, an invitation.
Tweek nodded as he slowly looked down at his pink legs. “Could you switch the light off please?”
Craig looked confused but nodded. “Of course.”
“Thank you.”
Tweek left his damp towel hanging in the bathroom and took another to lay on his pillow and stop from getting the bed wet. He climbed into bed, screwing his face up in the dark, and rolled over to face away from Craig, but felt a soft hand gently placed between his shoulder blades. He winced at the touch, though he knew it was from someone who would never hurt him like that.
Suddenly that horrible little voice in his head shouted at him, far more viciously than it ever had before.
This would never have happened if you hadn’t been such a pathetic, weak, terrible little cunt.
Instinctively, Tweek felt himself shuffling away from Craig. He couldn’t see Craig’s face as he did so, but he could instinctively feel his hurt as Craig gently withdrew his hand from Tweek’s back. Tweek shoved his head down into the damp pillow, screwing his eyes shut and trying to block out the flashbacks of Sam that assaulted his psyche. He felt rather than heard Craig shift slightly next to him.
“Honey? Are you -”
“I’m ok. I just felt dirty. Long night.” Tweek mumbled, his voice muffled by the pillow.
‘Ok, honey bee. Let’s get you off to sleep.’
Tweek nodded. He hadn’t cut his hair in a few months and it had reached his collar. He felt grubby as the damp, sharp tips of his hair brushed against the back of his neck, rough like kelp swirling in the silty salt water under the rusty pier they used to drive to near Playa Del Rey beach, an unnamed area that was comparatively rundown but where you could enjoy the quiet away from the tourists and the crowds.
Sam had grunted that he liked Tweek’s hair long. He wanted something to grab hold of. In the shower, Tweek had felt that Sam had pulled out more than the one chunk from the back of his head that he had deludedly hoped for.
He dimly registered that Craig was talking again.
“ - time tomorrow you’ll be all done for the term! You can have a big relax, you’ve so earned it. I don’t know how you’ve been working so hard all the time. You must be exhausted, my poor baby.”
Tweek forced a laugh. It came out even more hollow than he expected. “Yeah. I don’t know either.”
You lying fuck.
“You’d be amazed at how many of my colleagues are super jealous when I say I’m just spending Christmas with my boyfriend and my sister, chilling at our flat and watching trash TV. Everyone’s super stressed with their kids and annoying family members and -’
“Yeah. Silver linings, huh?” Tweek pulled as far away from Craig as he could and drew his knees to his chest, pulling himself into the foetal position, ignoring the burning pain. He sensed Craig deflating slightly as Tweek pulled away from him.
“Yeah. Silver linings. Tweek, are you sure you’re -”
“I’m fine, Craig. I’m just tired.”
As always, his words came out far more harshly than he would ever want them to. He felt tears prick the corners of his exhausted dry eyes as he forced himself to speak more kindly to Craig as he stared at the wall in the dark.
“Good night, honey. I love you.”
“I love you too, Tweek.”
Before long Tweek heard Craig’s soft breathing become slow, heavy, and regular.
He lay there with his eyes open, staring into the darkness all night until the first rays of sunshine began to filter through the window.
As he felt a particularly painful twinge, he suddenly remembered waking up like this one morning years ago, right before Thomas Tucker would open the door to Craig’s childhood bedroom and change the course of both their lives irrevocably.
He carefully turned to look down at Craig lying next to him on the pillow, his sleeping face sweet, serene.
He’s safe. He’s ok. You’re going to do ok. You’re going to be ok.
Even though you let some other guy fuck you last night?
I didn’t exactly let him –
So what? If you weren’t so stupid to get involved in this meth bullshit, you never would have gotten to that situation.
But he –
Either way, you had the audacity to get mad at Craig when that Blake guy was so pushy. Craig’s obviously a way better person than you, but there’s some kind of gross irony here, isn’t there? You can’t expect him to be ok with it after you lost it like that.
Anyway. Haul your fat lazy disgusting ass up and go and do that exam. That’s what this is all for, right? So you better at least make it worth your fucking time.
Tweek very carefully untangled himself from the sheets and slipped out of the bed. The room spun as he stumbled to the bathroom, slipping through the door and pulling it closed behind him.
He stared at himself in the mirror, interrogating the appearance of his reflection. Despite the disarmingly childlike youthfulness of his face, he looked utterly haggard, utterly gaunt. His skin was sallow and marked, dull and waxy. Only his eyes looked alive, unnaturally bright. His pupils were so dilated that his eyes looked black.
Ugh. How could I look so similar after last night?
Not exactly similar. You look even worse than normal.
He ran a hand through his still damp hair, finding it tangled, matted from his sleepless night.
Sam loved holding onto it.
He loves your hair.
You filthy little whore.
Before he consciously registered what he was doing, Tweek was pulling the hair clippers out of their bag under the sink. He watched his dry hands with their broken nails plug the clippers into the wall
What are you doing?
What the fuck are you doing??
Tweek softly, silently started to cry as he roughly, aggressively ran the clippers all over his head, with no direction, cutting into his scalp when he pushed too hard and nicked his skin, watching his hair fall, his eyes locked on his expression in the mirror. Within seconds he was done.
He gathered up the fallen strands of deep golden hair that had fallen into the sink and dropped them into the little trash can with the foot pedal.
He straightened up and washed his hands, looking at himself in the mirror. His eyes somehow looked even bigger and darker than they had before. The wound on the back of his head where Sam had ripped out his hair the previous night was reopened, bleeding freely.
Jesus, you look like a meth head more than you already did.
How fitting.
It’s a real shame. I mean, you’re always going to be ugly, but at least your hair was nice. It drew attention away from your face, and the rest of you.
He picked up a cotton pad from the counter and ran it under the cold tap. He dapped it at the back of his heads, wincing at the sharp stinging.
Just hope that doesn’t get infected, I guess.
He cast around for an antibacterial agent, and saw the bleach that they used to clean the bathroom.
For a moment he wanted to pour it onto his wounds and revel in the catharsis of the tangible pain.
For a longer moment he wanted to upend the bottle and drink it until there was nothing left.
He shook his head.
Don’t be stupid. Go and sit your goddamn fucking exam.
Fuck. I’ve gotta get out before Craig wakes up and sees me.
As quietly as he could, Tweek stole back into the bedroom and pulled some clothes out of the clean washing basket. Tersely he dressed, pulling on his jeans and sneakers and jacket that he had left on the floor the following night. It already felt like a lifetime ago, yet simultaneously only a matter of microseconds, had lapsed since he was in the tutor’s office with Sam.
He saw something blue sticking out from behind the dresser, something that had fallen there and been forgotten months ago, maybe even years.
Gently he pulled it out, almost letting out a little laugh when he realised it was the electric blue chullo style hat Craig had worn as a teenager in their perpetually snowy hometown. It was far too hot to wear it in California, but Craig had kept it anyway.
He felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise as he looked out at the bleary December morning. His shorn head and exposed ears and neck would be so cold. He carefully tucked the hat into his jacket pocket.
He picked up his bag. Maybe he should have hidden it better, but he still trusted Craig not to go through his things.
Do you? Or do you want him to find out and make you stop, since you’re too weak to stop yourself?
Or is it that you’re a bit smarter than you look and act, and you realise he’s got better shit to do than worry about you being a fuckwit? He’s probably already started to stop caring.
Jesus Christ. I’m exhausted.
Can’t afford to be tired. If you fuck up this exam that’s your scholarship, gone.
He pulled the little packet of pills left and glanced back at Craig, softly snoring in the bed. Tweek silently stepped back into the bathroom.
He hesitated for a moment, his heart thumping wildly in his bruised chest as he tried to steel himself into it.
He popped three pills out and crammed them into his mouth, swallowing before he could change his mind. He gulped down lukewarm, bitter tasting water from the chipped tap.
You should eat something.
No. I’m not hungry.
He pulled Craig’s hat onto his head, so gentle with it, the opposite to how he had handled the clippers and his own body. Then he grabbed his bag and silently slipped through the flat, carefully closing the front door behind him and starting the mile long trek to campus on foot. He could already feel the meth starting to buzz in the back of his skull. He had never taken three pills at once before.
Instinctively he knew something in his brain had shifted. This wasn’t his typical incidental lack of hunger due to the meth he was taking. That had been replaced by a complete inability to stomach a thing.
In the exam he could feel Sam’s eyes on the back of his head, no doubt looking at the wound where he had pulled out Tweek’s hair mere hours before. But the high from the much higher quantity of meth he had taken made him feel untouchable, even by Sam. He concentrated on the exam questions with a laser like precision he had never experienced before.
As soon as his exam was over, he knew he had done well. And he was proven right when his results came out a few weeks later. Instantly he knew he would be easily keeping his scholarship.
After his exam he came home, changed, and then ran ten miles. He threw up on the side of the road as he slogged home, his lungs burning in his chest. He abruptly dodged dinner with Craig and went straight to bed, where he slept dreamlessly for days.
He sleepwalked through the Christmas break, carefully rationing the meth pills he had left over, taking enough to make him functional so he could spend time with Craig and Tricia but taking them slowly enough that he wouldn’t have to ask Sam for more. Mostly, however, he told Craig he was exhausted and suggested Craig drive out to see Tricia and her friends, insisting he wouldn’t be any fun anyway and just wanted to chill. Craig was reluctant to leave him alone, but he insisted he just needed to recharge after working so hard all term. As soon as Craig was gone, he would leave the house and run until he was sure his lungs would give out.
In the depths of his heart, he felt utterly rotted inside, the kind of dead, diseased earth that nothing good could ever grow in again.

California, February 2015, Winter
Craig unlocked the front door and trudged inside to find the apartment silent. He let out a heavy sigh.
“Tweek?” he called. “Are you home?”
There was no response.
Craig sighed again as he walked through the empty home. Winter was slowly bleeding to a conclusion, and he had thought that when Tweek’s last term finished before Christmas he would start spending more time at home. It made sense. But Craig had been wrong. Despite being told he would be keeping his scholarship after his exceptional results, Tweek had seemingly been spurred on to work even harder. Craig was proud that Tweek had managed to achieve so much and was pleased to see his drive seemed to have returned after losing it to his foggy, lethargic depression after his parents’ death over a year ago. But Tweek was somehow spending even less time at home now than he had been during the previous term.
His heart heavy, Craig walked into their bedroom and undressed, leaving his work clothes strewn across the floor. Grabbing a towel, he padded into the bathroom and turned on the shower. Craig soaped himself with the lemon-scented shower gel that Tweek had bought, his face twitching as he breathed it in. He sighed yet again as he used it to wash the engine grease out of his hair. Craig had been sighing far too frequently for his own liking in recent months.
It wasn’t just Tweek’s physical absence from their home that was getting to Craig. It was that he barely touched Craig anymore. It was that they hadn’t slept together in months, and when they had it had felt mechanical. It was that he wouldn’t meet Craig’s eyes. Craig felt lonely, with a cold ache that seemed to bleed down to his bones no matter how the inconsistent water flow scalded him. And, more pressingly, he was increasingly worried about Tweek. It was really hard for Tweek to lose weight after his years of adolescent anorexia slowing his metabolism to a crawl. But despite that, he had steadily become thinner and thinner over the past few months. Craig had noticed the few times they were awake in bed at the same time. But even Tweek coming home to sleep, or to shower were becoming rarer. There were a couple of beds for staff along with showering facilities at the Faculty of Physics. More often than not at this point, he would just stay the night there, sometimes for days at a time.
Craig knew he needed to do something. He needed to intervene and help Tweek. But he had no idea what he could do, and he felt paralysed by his fear that he would make it worse. He felt so helpless.
Craig turned off the shower, water from his hair dripping into his eyes. He rubbed it roughly with the towel before wrapping the towel around his waist and walking into the bedroom.
He’d been trying to rationalise that Tweek was just struggling to cope with the events of the past year and the immense pressure of trying to keep his scholarship. Despite Tweek’s distant behaviour, after all they had been through together Craig still trusted Tweek with his life.
This is just something I have to wait out. He’ll come back to me eventually. He’s tough, way tougher than he looks. You know that.
Don’t be stupid. Get off your ass and help him. Stop putting this in the too hard basket.
Literally, what the fuck can I do?
He had spent countless hours looking into eating disorder treatment. California had a lot of clinics where you could check in for months. It looked like a spa for rich white women. And the price tag was tens of thousands of dollars. Craig had almost laughed at how wrong it was for them. Instead, he had permitted himself to cry, just for a little while.
He had scrolled through hundreds of therapists online. But none of them took insurance. He had rung dozens of them to double check, but their receptionists had been very cold with him as soon as it was clear that he didn’t have much money.
Those that did take insurance were poorly rated. He called their insurance company to find out what would be covered, and it was very limited. He worried that it would do more harm than good at this point for a questionable therapist to carelessly crack Tweek’s mind open and then for him to be cut off after one session.
He had tried to ring their regular GP but been put off as soon as he said it was for Tweek. Despite providing documentation that they had lived together for more than two years, he still wasn’t recognised as family. While he had checked the laws and found that you needed to have lived together for three years to be considered in a domestic partnership with someone, he also knew the local clinic had some practical discretion in recognising family and suspected it might have been somewhat different if one of them were a woman. He rang back on a different day, pretending it was for him, and was told there was no subsidy available.
He had tried to ring the Caltech Student Health centre but been told they couldn’t do anything if he wasn’t a student.
Desperate, he had guiltily raised it with Tricia, feeling terrible for talking about Tweek with anyone else but overwhelmed and terrified. Despite seeing Tweek even less than Craig, she was concerned too. His weight loss was even more pronounced when you only saw him once or twice a month rather than once or twice a week. Beyond what Craig had already tried, she had no idea what they could do.
He had repeatedly tried to broach it with Tweek when he saw him. But Tweek had politely yet very clearly refused. He could feel Tweek shutting him out a little more every time he tried to tell him he was worried.
The evening sun streamed onto their bed, the sheets crumpled and unmade. Craig discarded his towel and lay down on Tweek’s side of the bed. He watched the last dregs of sunlight fall on his skin, making it steam very slightly in the cooler air of their bedroom. His breath caught in his throat as the scent of Tweek filled his lungs.
He thought about calling Tweek. But he knew that it was fruitless. Tweek was notorious for losing his phone, and these days he never had it switched on anyway.
It was Friday night. Craig thought briefly about heading out, maybe to see Tricia or something, but dismissed the idea. He knew it was pathetic, but he wanted to be here when Tweek got back. Maybe he could get a conversation out of him tonight.
A crease forming between his eyes, Craig took his phone from his work overalls and dialled Tweek’s number. It started ringing. That was a good start.
Craig was surprised when Tweek answered, and for a couple of seconds he didn’t know what to say to him. That realisation hit him like a physical blow.
“Hey, Craig. You alright?”
“Yeah, I’m alright.”
“Okay, well, that’s good then.”
The silence stretched between them. Craig cringed, hating the stilted conversation.
“I miss you.” The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them.
Tweek sighed.
“I miss you too, Craig.”
Spurred by this, Craig pushed on.
“Will you be home soon? It just - it feels so empty here, Tweek. I hate it.”
“I – yeah, I’ll be home by ten. Ok?”
Craig glanced at the clock on their bedside table. It was almost seven.

He didn’t know what to do with himself. In the end he forced himself to throw on some clothes and go for a walk. He loved Tweek, but he knew in his heart that he couldn’t spend his life waiting for him to come home, like a neglected puppy.
Strengthened by the warm summer breeze that Craig still appreciated after two years of living in California, he decided to walk to Tweek’s campus. It was a little after 9pm. He’d wait there for Tweek, and then they could head home together. He imagined Tweek by his side as he moved through the streets.
He brightened at the sight of Tweek leaning against the Faculty of Physics building, nonchalantly leaning against the wall, silently smoking cigarettes with a redheaded young man Craig didn’t recognise. The first thing he noticed as he got close enough to really see them was how uncomfortable, how unhappy Tweek looked. Craig coughed gently to get their attention as he approached.
Tweek looked surprised as he looked up. He stared back at Craig, and for a few seconds they were silent. Tweek’s cheeks were flushed as he spoke first, sounding irritated.
“Craig? What are you doing here?”
“I – I came here to wait for you, Tweek. Sorry. I didn’t mean to bug you. I’m just – I guess I’m just sick of being alone in that house. I wasn’t going to try and see you before you were done. I was just going to hang out in the library and message you before ten. I thought we could walk home together. It’s a nice evening.”
The unknown young man who smoked beside Tweek watched Craig with a cold sort of amusement. Craig could feel the silent scrutiny of the stranger sizing him up. He had the inextricable air of being confident, being self-assured, almost certainly having come from money, from security. He automatically made Craig feel uncomfortable. The vibe was all wrong.
He turned to speak to Tweek as if Craig wasn’t there, speaking softly but with a tone of interrogation.
“Is this your boyfriend? Is this the mechanic? Is this Craig?”
Tweek nodded, looking at his feet. Craig broke the silence, feeling a sudden urge to protect Tweek from this man. “Yeah, man. I’m Craig. Really good to meet you.” Craig stepped forward and held out his hand. His eyes were on the man’s sharp features, but he registered Tweek withdrawing on instinct at the sudden movement towards him. He knew he did that himself, having grown up with a dad who regularly beat him, but it was an alarming new development for Tweek.
The man ignored Craig’s outstretched hand as he answered, snapping Craig’s attention away from Tweek. “What do you mean by that, Craig? Do you know who I am?”
Craig forced an awkward little laugh, frowning slightly. “Well, no, but -”
“Then how could it be good to meet me?”
Craig didn’t know how to respond to this. Tweek mumbled an explanation, still staring at his shoes, speaking between quick-fire drags of his cigarette.
“Craig, this is Sam. He’s one of the other tutors. We study together in the office sometimes.”
“Yes. We study together in the office sometimes.”
Tweek’s suddenly looked up. His eyed bored into Craig’s, the dark shadows scored beneath them emphasised by the harsh light of the campus’ streetlights. Craig couldn’t see him blinking. Somehow, he registered a cry for help.
“Are you ready to go home, Tweek?” Craig asked, ignoring Sam to hold Tweek’s gaze. He felt the previously casual tone he had held automatically slipping into the gentle, encouraging tone he had used when they were children.
Tweek surveyed Craig for a moment, then turned back to look up at Sam. Sam shrugged, dropping his cigarette on the concrete and standing on it. Tweek looked back at Craig.
“Yes. Can you just – can you give me a minute, Craig? I’ll go grab my stuff.”
“Should I come up and give you a hand?”
Tweek raised his head as if to nod and started to speak, but Sam cut him off. “You’re not allowed to, Craig. Not unless you’re Faculty staff. Are you Faculty staff?” Sam raised his thin eyebrows, smirking, daring Craig to argue.
He didn’t say as much, but Craig had been into the tutor’s office with Tweek a few times over the past couple of years. Occasionally there would be other tutors there, but they’d casually greet Tweek and Craig before turning back to their work. Technically it wasn’t meant to be done, but everyone did it and no one cared.
Tweek looked at Craig, his mouth closed in a tight line, concern all over his face. Craig gave a half smile and shrugged as if it was no big deal. “Fair enough. I’ll just wait here, babe. See ya, Sam.”
Sam’s eyes were on Tweek as he softly addressed Craig, turning back as he walked towards the doors of the building. “I’ll be five minutes, honey. Ten, tops.”
Craig smiled at Tweek and nodded. He walked over to the wall where Tweek and Sam had been smoking and leaned on it, slowly sliding his back down until he sat on the cool concrete.
Nearly twenty minutes had passed before Tweek emerged, clutching his bag to his shoulder, his knuckles white. He looked even more upset than he had with Sam earlier.
Craig had no idea what to think. He already knew he didn’t like Sam, but who was he to judge who Tweek hung out with at work? Or, who Tweek hung out with at all?
It was more than that though. Tweek seemed deeply uncomfortable around Sam, and Craig couldn’t figure out why. He didn’t think trying to broach the subject with Tweek would help in any way.
Am I jealous?
Yes. And that’s not ok.
But, am I also concerned?
Craig forced himself to keep his sigh inside.
Just let it go. Focus on the fact he’s not eating. Who cares if one of the other tutors is a dickhead? Tweek can hang out with who he likes. And he can look after himself. He’s just stressed with his workload.
Tweek suddenly offered his hand to Craig, as if to pull him up. Craig took it gratefully, despite the cold of Tweek’s hand even in the warm California evening. He was surprised at Tweek’s wiry strength as Tweek abruptly pulled Craig to his feet.
Craig leaned in to give Tweek a kiss, but Tweek shook his head. He lit another cigarette and took a drag. Craig wanted to ask him about it, because Tweek had been so proud a few months ago when he had weaned himself back off nicotine, but he didn’t.
Pick your battles, Craig. You aren’t making things any better for him.
They left the campus and wordlessly walked home together.
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