Wilted roses twined their stems around a pair of hands, their green teeth nipping, sampling the flavor of O-type blood and heartache contained in skin. "Do we still have to do this," he asked, voice a tremor alive in his mouth. It's a stupid exchange of gifts, flowers for a holiday Tweek could barely remember the name of. Some Saint's day everyone freaked out over every year.
Tweek really didn't see the point of chocolate sacrifice or the exchange of flowers that would just die in minutes or days, depending on how fast you could find them water. He'd rather just ignore that there was a commercial holiday for lovers, even ones as shy as him.
Craig, on the other hand, enjoyed the public display of humiliating him. Hence the roses, the mocha sweets, and that stupid half-way grin stuck to his face.
"Yes, we have to," he insisted, tilting the umbrella more over Tweek's electric mane of hair. No rain dared fall yet, so early in the year, but the snows were coming down as hard as any cats and dogs. South Park shivered under the burden of all the blanketing white.
The umbrella was just an added torture, Tweek thought. There was no romance in keeping away the snowmelt.
However, the scarf Craig had wrapped around his throat earlier held a note of affection in it. It even kept him a few degrees warmer, something cheap chocolates couldn't.
"No, we don't," came Tweek's argument, a few beats late, his mind distracted and fuzzy. He spun the rose in his hands, picking at the thorns with a bitten thumbnail. A deadweight of sweets leaded down his coat pocket. With every step, it bumped against his leg—over and over, the rhythm of irritation. "Next year...don't get me dumb flowers. Or waste your money on candy I'm just going to throw away."
Craig pulled his jacket collar up higher to combat the sudden scream of winter winds. "Fine," he said, sounding still smugly amused. "Next year I won't do a damn thing."
Once at home and away from the protective shelter of Craig's black umbrella, Tweek strode into the kitchen, trailing wet footprints into the beige carpeting. A bread crumb trail formed to the garbage can where he laid his deceased rose and candy coffin to rest ontop the crumpled remains of an origami bouquet of fast food napkins.
An hour later, after mindless fiddling and bitten-lip debates with himself, Tweek once again left the house. Craig's scarf in his hands, a noose around his worried fingers.
He'd forgotten to give it back.
The sky had gone funny while he had delayed his departure outdoors.
The snows had stopped, thankfully, but the clouds still lingered, drinking up the dark reds of the approaching sunset. Tweek regarded them with a grim amusement. Red skies for Valentines. How fittingly unfitting.
Open displays of adoration never sat very well with him. He liked stolen moments behind closed doors more than public examples of how fiercely he could blush and fuck up his words when he attempted to talk after a spur-of-the-minute kiss. A rendezvous beneath the bleachers was fine—welcomed sometimes, given how high his stress or how low his reservoir of caffeine—and even a quick fondle of hands beneath cafeteria tables was a welcomed game. But Craig wanted to steal his breath in crowds, kiss him so fiercely his knees went weak and dumb. He wanted to weave their fingers into baskets, to lead him around on an arm. Craig acted proud of who he fucked around with (as Tweek couldn't dare think of what else it could be; that'd just be ridiculous, fawning over that stupid word as bad as Bebe, who tattooed it on all her notebooks with a gel-pen the color of perfect, pink hearts).
He sighed, knotting up the scarf in his hands, twisting that blue fabric around and around his wrist until his hand throbbed. Thinking about it made him flustered and stupid. His face felt hot, his body uncomfortable as he slowed his walk, concentrating more on pushing down those silly notions and ideas.
Breathing in the sunset, he felt a little better. The world still smelled like icy, February snows. That note of familiarity comforted him, cooled down the heat in his stomach to a static lukewarm.
He resumed his pace, quick little steps that flew him through town, the railroads at his right as a guide. Follow them for twenty minutes and Craig's house would appear beside them. He'd done this ever since he was a kid, follow the tracks, to prevent himself from getting lost. Something that was hard to do in South Park , sure, but Tweek never took any chances.
Not even with something as simple as walking to Craig's house. Not with evening approaching, the night spilling down shadows across the town. The quicker, the better, and the railroad path was a straight-shot to his house, however far it was.
Aside from the red slowly darkening in the sky, the journey there was no odyssey. Tweek amused himself by humming, knotting the scarf in time to his tunes, and unknotting it after with nervous hands to straighten out any wrinkles. No harpies dove down at him. No whirlpools gasped open in the streets. No trains screamed by. Even the snows held back for the time, despite the threatening weight of the fraught clouds that held it back.
Stepping up the three concrete steps to the door, Tweek felt much better than he had. Even though it was Valentines and even though he had to make an unnecessary walk across town.
He knocked on the door—twice—then took a single step back, hurriedly undoing the newest twists in that striped scarf.
A minute passed. Tweek cautiously knocked on the door again, stepping back as he had before, eyeing to door warily.
That time, the door pulled itself open and a bob of red hair poked itself out. A stern face watched him, boyish in appearance. Ruby. Or Millie. Or whatever she was calling herself this week.
"What," she asked, looking at him, unconsciously pulling open the door a little wider when she registered who it was. "Oh. Hey, Tweek."
"Hi..." Tweek bit his lip, glancing over his shoulder. He'd hoped Craig would answer. It'd have made it about sixteen times less awkward if so. "Is Craig here...," he faltered, then jerked his hands out, attempting to pass Ruby the scarf. "Um, never mind. He forgot this. Will you give it to him?"
Ruby took it, cocking a brow at him. Her tiny shoulders bobbed up in a shrug. "He's not here. But, yeah, I'll give it back." At Tweek's look, she continued. "He went out with Kenny a little while ago...I don't know where. I think they're walking the tracks."
Tweek swallowed hard, muttered a thanks, and was gone before Ruby could flip him off and slam the door shut.
Maybe it was stupid to be jealous, rustled up so green at the thought. Maybe it was justified. Maybe not.
He couldn't tell from where he was standing.
Though it looked like they were talking, laughing about something, as old friends might. He was probably just being stupid, stupid, stupid.
But then he saw an exchange familiar to his past: Roses, passed between hands, offerings that Tweek took as solitary affection between the two of them—not anyone else. Not this rough kid from the other side of the tracks.
Watching them, Tweek couldn't help but think that the gift of flowers was merely a prelude to any relationship—at first, they flourish and look so fucking pretty, only to wither and die out, no matter how much care you tended to them.
Now glad he threw his own away, Tweek tugged up his jacket collar, spinning around to leave.
And that would've been that. He would have went home, probably spent hours obsessively cleaning his room, house, whatever, and he would tell Craig to fuck off. Craig and Kenny could walk the world over on those stupid tracks, laughing, doing whatever they did together when Craig wasn't with him.
It would've been that, if the train hadn't come.
There's a law that trains are supposed to blow their whistles whenever they pass through a town, to alert drivers and walkers alike that potential dangers screeched by along those predestined travels, and to get out of the way.
That early evening, the town shook with that whistle.
Tweek stopped, to look back at the tracks, with his heart momentarily in his throat. He watched as Craig leapt from the tracks, skidding down the slight incline that made departure more difficult than about a quarter of a mile back.
Kenny didn't budge.
There was an argument match between them, loud enough to carry sound to Tweek's ears but not the form of words. He had no idea what they were saying, he dared not even creep a little closer than he was already.
Vibrations rattled the tracks, the road, the world. The sky tilted, the clouds lost their bodies and dispersed, showing the alarming color beyond their cover. Tweek twisted his fingers into his jacket; Craig shouted something else.
Kenny tilted back his head to laugh. He threw his arm out, pointing down at Craig, saying something back.
And then Tweek understood: he was playing a game. Craig lost by jumping down so soon, but Kenny wanted to show he was made of tougher stuff. No fucking train was going to have him scramble down some hill, not so quick.
Before he could stop himself, Tweek screamed at him to move. "Get down! You'll get hit!!" He had doubted they'd hear, from where he was, paces and paces away, but when they both looked at him, he knew that his message had been heard.
Only, too late.
He'd remember later and regret uttering a word.
It happened like a bullet would've: quick, noisy, and painted in silver.
Distracted by Tweek being there when he shouldn't've been, Kenny missed his last second chance to leap. He'd tried, both Craig and Tweek had been witness to it. Only the train had been faster.
There really hadn't been any contest.
It soared into him, struck his orange body, and sucked him down beneath the metal cars. Blood splattered against the nose of the train, a display macabre graffiti. The ground remains of fingers, legs, arms, organs spewed out in a spray of gore. The tracks were slick, Craig's face became flecked with tiny kisses of the stuff.
The whistle screamed in terror, the brakes wailed for forgiveness.
Tweek blinked once, saw Craig wipe his face with uncertain hands, and then fell down into an easy, numb darkness.
When he awoke, he screamed at the unfamiliar face looming above him. He pushed away, jerking his body as far as he could. It ached, moving, and he had the sense to wonder why before he remembered.
Bile came rushing up and he vomited to the side, just missing the scuff of a sheriff's boots.
"...You alright there, boy," he asked. The man had an accent as heavy as the red mustache balanced ontop his upper lip. A notepad was in his hand. "We need you to give a statement, if you're up to it."
Tweek didn't say anything. He tried to find Craig in the sudden appearance of blue bodies. Officers were everywhere, taking notes and pictures and talking to the distressed conductor of the train (at least, that's who Tweek assumed it to be, given how white he was).
He found Craig in another ambulance, silver blanket to match his own wrapped around his shoulders. He was talking to another officer, oblivious to Tweek just a few feet away.
"Son, a statement," the sheriff tried again, sounding more impatient this time. "Once you give us one, you're free to go home. Or—" He glanced at a paramedic, who nodded. "Yeah, you can head on home unless you feel like you need to go to the hospital. You took a nasty fall, they tell me. Fainted from the sight of—all that."
He meant the blood, the tiny reminders than Kenny had been once contained in that hunk of hamburger. Tweek swallowed the urge to throw up again, his eyes never leaving Craig. Despite what might've went down, he still waited for Craig to look back and offer some kind of reassurance.
Tweek ended up taking too long again. The sheriff groaned and lifted a thick head to rub at his face. "...Are you still in shock?" To a paramedic: "Is he still in shock?" Then back to him: "What's wrong? Need a few more minutes to take it all in?"
"No..." he muttered, inching his blanket tighter around his shoulders. It crinkled as it moved, annoyingly. "I don't need anything."
"Then will you give us your statement now?"
Craig, finished with talking to his own officer, frowned suddenly and turned his head. He noticed Tweek then, belatedly, and looked back. He seemed to ease up a little, for a moment.
There was no exchange between them, aside from the looks. Tweek almost preferred it that way.
"Happy Valentines," he said.
The sheriff made an irritated noise.
Craig must've read his lips, or heard one, because he rolled his eyes. He mouthed it back, frowning still, and looked away, scowling towards the tracks.
If you enjoyed this story, remember to check out the original artwork that inspired it!