Keep Counting

BY : DigitalAlice
Category: +S through Z > South Park > Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 293
Disclaimer: I do not own South Park, nor any characters from it. I do not make any money from this story.

When had it stopped feeling fake?

Tweek reached for his coffee, the loud noise of the cafeteria putting him on edge. The cup was empty. He felt himself beginning to twitch and tried to stop, but the more he willed his body to be still, the more he began to shake.

Craig reached down into his backpack and pulled out a thermos.

‘Here babe,’ he said without looking up, passing it over. ‘I brought extra. You always run out.’

‘Agh! Uh-thanks,’ Tweek squeaked, taking the coffee gratefully.

When had it begun to feel so real?

Maybe it was when Tweek realised Craig was actually keeping count.

They’d been playing video games, taking it in turns and laughing at how much better Craig was because Tweek panicked too damn much.

‘Hey Craig, how long have we been fake dating now?’ he’d asked, suddenly curious.

‘Three weeks, four days,’ Craig replied without any hesitation.

And he sounded so sure.

‘Did you do the math or do you keep count?’

‘I hate math,’ Craig said matter-of-factly, staring at the TV. ‘I keep count.’

Was that the moment?

He watched Craig dip his fries into the ketchup on his plate. They could go an entire lunchtime like this, saying hardly a word to each other. But it was a comfortable silence, the kind of quiet to rival the noise of chatter all around them. It was like Craig made a little comfort bubble around them that protected them from the rest of the world.

Maybe it was when he realised how much he liked that Craig kept count.

That was the night they’d been in Craig’s room, laying out a sleeping bag on the floor for Tweek to sleep in, just like all the nights that he stayed over.

‘H-hey Craig?’ he’d asked once the lights had gone out.

Craig’s voice came to him in the dark from somewhere above him, up from the bed that Tweek had never even sat on.

‘What, babe?’

‘How long have we been pretend dating?’

‘Seven weeks, two days.’

There it was – a warm tingle that resonated in his chest, making his heart flutter. Tweek had barely finished asking the question before Craig was beginning his answer.

It made him so happy that Craig knew.

‘Oh. Cool.’

He hoped Craig would never stop counting.

When had it stopped feeling so pretend?

When Craig first helped Tweek through an anxiety attack, better than anyone had his whole life? Or when Craig had first cried in front of Tweek; that one private moment of insecurity that was still painful to think about?

When had it started hurting him when Craig was hurting?

Craig was still concentrating on his fries, oblivious to Tweek’s careful gaze.

‘Craig?’

‘What is it, sweetie?’

‘How long have we been fake dating now?’ he asked, careful to keep his voice quiet even though they sat alone at the table.

‘Five months, three weeks, three days.’ Craig glanced down at his watch. ‘Seven hours. Give or take.’

When had his heart started to beat this way for him?

‘Why?’

‘J-Just wondering…’

Maybe it was the first time he had been allowed on the bed. They’d had a horrendous fight over something in a movie they were watching, something stupid that they disagreed on… Tweek couldn’t remember what it was even about anymore. Craig had stormed upstairs, and Tweek sat alone in Craig’s kitchen, wondering if that was the end of their ‘just-for-everyone-else’ relationship.

He finally plucked up the courage to venture upstairs, and found Craig lying on his bed with his arms crossed, glaring at the ceiling. Quietly, timidly, Tweek went to lie down next to him. He expected to be shoved off onto the floor, especially when he rested his head on Craig’s chest and felt the taller boy tense up.

They stayed like that in silence for a long time before Craig finally relaxed, the tension fading away. An even longer silence passed before he reached up a hesitant hand to push his fingers through Tweek’s hair, rubbing his head soothingly.

Even in the chaotic buzz of the cafeteria, Tweek’s cheeks flushed warm at the memory.

When? When did this feeling start?

‘You can stare at him all you want; nobody believes you’re actually dating.’

Tweek and Craig both looked up at the voice. Clyde stood in front of their table, frowning down at Tweek.

‘W-what?’

‘Nobody believes you’re dating. You can stop looking at him like a moron.’

Craig turned his attention back to his food.

‘Fuck off, Clyde,’ he said calmly.

‘You’re both posers.’

‘Shut-agh! Shut up, we are not…’ Tweek felt a sting in his chest at the words.

‘You are. You’re both posers, and you’re both freaks, and-’

Shut up!’ Tweek stood up a little too fast, his chair scraping back against the floor.

‘Babe, it’s okay,’ Craig said. He reached out but Tweek pulled his arm away, avoiding the touch.

Clyde pointed at them.

‘You use those pet names and hold hands in public but I’m not stupid, and I’m not falling for it.’

Shit, why was the idea of the truth coming out so terrifying?

The truth. Tweek wasn’t even sure what the truth was anymore.

If Clyde was speaking the truth, then why were these words so painful to hear?

And what if people did find out, and Craig decided there was no point pretending anymore? What if it all ended?

Tweek grabbed the thermos and threw it at Clyde, who put his hands up just in time to protect his face.  The metal clang as it hit the floor drew the eyes of students all around them.

‘Sh-gah! Shut up, you don’t know what you’re talking about!’

He fought back the tears burning in the corners of his eyes. He shouldn’t be upset about it. It wasn’t a real relationship. But he hated Clyde for figuring it out, and saying it like this, trying to humiliate them.

Clyde was taken aback by the violent outburst, glancing nervously at the metal container filled with burning hot coffee.

‘What the hell, dude,’ Clyde said, and Tweek felt everyone staring at them. ‘What if the lid wasn’t on properly?’

‘L-leave us alone…’ Tweek struggled to get the words out without stuttering.

‘Admit you’re a sham!’

‘N-no…’

When had it begun to mean so much?

He couldn’t cry in the cafeteria like this. He spun around and ran, not sure where to go, but just needing to go somewhere.

‘Tweek, wait!’

He ignored Craig, running, pushing through the doors, his throat hurting. Down one hall, then another. There was nowhere quiet to go in this whole damn place. He wouldn’t admit it was sham. He couldn’t. He told himself it was to appease the town and make everyone happy, but it didn’t feel that way. Not back then, and not now. Not ever.

‘I said wait,’ Craig said, snatching his wrist and yanking him to a halt. How had he caught up so fast? Tweek tried to pull away, but the grip was tight, twisting him around to face Craig. They couldn’t do this here. They were in the middle of a hallway - Stan and Kyle and Kenny somewhere just behind him, groups of friends walking past - everyone peering at them, wondering what was happening. They couldn’t do this here.

But anxiety was a monster that knew no mercy and didn’t wait for a quiet moment. Tears spilled down Tweek’s face, his hands trembled, and he sniffled miserably. Craig wrapped his arms around Tweek’s waist, pulling him until their hips bumped together.

‘He said… he said-’ Tweek sobbed, clutching the collar of Craig’s jacket.

‘I know what he said. It doesn’t mean anything.’

‘B-but-’

‘Tweek. Didn’t I tell you in my yard that day that I couldn’t be someone I wasn’t just because that’s what other people wanted me to be?’ Tweek tried to lean away but Craig kept his embrace tight, leaving no gap between them.

‘So?’ Tweek whimpered.

‘So, did it ever occur to you that I’ve never put on a show for anyone, and I’ve always just been me? Just like I said I had to be?’

Tweek clenched the jacket tighter. When had this person in front of him become his entire world, his everything, his-

‘Babe, listen to me. Clyde doesn’t know shit. He doesn’t know that I call you pet names even when we’re alone, and he doesn’t know what you’re thinking when you stare at me. He doesn’t know that all those times I fall asleep in class is because I stayed up late the night before talking to you on the phone. Every panic attack I’ve helped you through, every movie we’ve watched together, every moment, every smile, he doesn’t know about any of it.’

His voice lowered to a whisper.

‘He doesn’t know how much I love to have you near me, or the hours I spend thinking about you when you aren’t around. The hours I spend missing you.’

He always sounded so sure, so calm, so soothing.

He pulled Tweek closer, leaning so that their foreheads were touching.

‘C-Craig… People are looking at us…’

‘I don’t care who is looking,’ Craig murmured. ‘I’m only looking at you.’

Craig kissed him softly, the warmth of his lips making Tweek shiver. This wasn’t a pretend kiss, a show put on for the people around them; this was something else entirely. Craig leaned in to the kiss, pressing his lips against him hungrily and begging for entry, and when Tweek gasped for air Craig seized the opportunity to slip his tongue inside. It was a long, deep, perfect kiss.

He expected to hearing laughing and tittering all around him. But for once, the whole world was quiet except for the thudding of his heart. Every other person just faded away.

When they pulled apart, Craig looked into his eyes fiercely.

‘Anyone who dares to accuse that of being fake,’ he breathed, ‘can go burn in hell.’

It was too much. Tweek thought his own heart would break free from his chest, it was beating so loud. He threw his arms around Craig’s neck and hugged him tightly. The blue jacket was soft against his cheek. His hands weren’t shaking, his body wasn’t twitching, and he felt like he could actually speak without panicking.

When had it become so real?

When had Craig become the only person in the world who could bring him peace, stop the tremors, chase away the fears and anxiety?

‘Craig?’

‘What is it, honey?’

‘H-how long have we been really dating now?’

There was a short pause, and when Craig pulled back, Tweek could see he was smiling.

‘Real dating, not fake dating?’

‘Real dating. How long?’

There was barely a moment’s hesitation before Craig leaned to whisper the words in his ear that completely calmed his heart.

‘Five months, three weeks, three days. And seven hours, give or take.’



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