With a big thank you to Samara for a great picture that really needs some love.
Field trips were a rarity at South Park High, so when one came around that the entire eleventh grade was eligible to go on, the students couldn't throw money at the school fast enough.
There were a few hesitations, naturally. Kyle Broflovski had had to check the availability of insulin in Peru, while Kenny McCormick had had to check how deep the bite into his personal savings - bolstered by a part time job he'd acquired at a fast food outlet by lying about his age - would be. Butters Stotch had had to make sure that going to Peru was not a groundable offence, and perhaps surprisingly it wasn't.
The longest hesitation came from Craig Tucker. There was a boy with some bad memories of Peru. Not bad in as much as he had had some nasty experiences there in the past, just bad as in he would rather not go through all that shit again.
The fact it was a history department trip had put him off. He'd made the deposit payment very tentatively, on the condition that he would be refunded if he decided to not go. He'd almost made that decision when he found out that Machu Picchu was on the list of places they would be going. Inca ruins were a particular bad memory.
It was only after a number of his friends had talked him into it that he had agreed to go, and even then he didn't especially want to.
As nice as the hotel they were being put up in was, and even though the Andes climate wasn't deathly hot, it was just that the purpose of the trip was really boring. History wasn't a subject Craig especially excelled at, he was more of a sciencey person. Which was exactly why he had long since stopped listening to the droning voice of the Peruvian tour guide as she made a huge fucking deal out of what appeared to be a house.
Craig felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He checked it. Text. He opened it up. From Asshole, 8 seconds ago: look behind you Craig felt his eyeballs try to look at the top of their sockets and he heard a very loud sigh escape his mouth before he got around to actually turning behind him. There was a brown gloved hand waving for his attention from behind a chest high wall ruin.
It couldn't get more boring than the tour guide. Craig waited until she had turned back to point at a particularly interesting patch of wall, or so she said it was, and backed up quickly. He clambered over the wall and dropped.
"Hey, Craig," Kenny chirped, grinning at him, automatically holding out a cigarette and a lighter for him. Kenny was already halfway through his own, Craig noticed. That didn't surprise him - it was a vice they shared, besides which Kenny ran off on his own a lot anyway.
"Kenny," he greeted with as much enthusiasm as he might greet the chewing gum he'd just trodden on in his new shoes. He lit up.
Craig didn't know why Kenny had asked him into what he guessed counted as a private area, and he didn't really want to know. He made a point of dragging on the cigarette loudly, just to underline how bored and unimpressed he was.
Kenny shook his head, maintaining what really must have been a painful grin to maintain. "Come on, Craig," he said, "don't you like hanging out with your own roommate?"
"No," came the response. A few seconds passed, and Kenny wasn't rushing to fill the silence. Craig elaborated. "I hung out with you enough last night. And the night before that. You're insufferable and you know it."
If it was within Kenny's capacity to look hurt, Craig hadn't done enough to earn that response. The grin had the decency to go away, though. "Alright, you want to play a game or something?"
Craig did not miss a beat. "I spy with my little eye something beginning with T."
Kenny gave the most half hearted of glances around that he could manage. "Tree?" Craig shook his head. "I don't know then," Kenny gave up with a shrug.
Kenny chuckled and stubbed his cigarette out on the wall behind him, before lifting one leg over Craig to straddle him, and leaned forward so that their foreheads were almost touching. "As fun as that was, that wasn't what I had in mind," he smiled, very quietly.
At that moment, two things were unfortunate for Kenny and his legendary sex drive. Firstly, Craig was a master of controlling himself - he frowned angrily at Kenny, rather than doing what Kenny could only have been hoping he'd do and acquire wood. Craig did get enjoyment out of annoying the little gobshite that was about as close to an actual partner as he'd ever come.
The second thing came in the form of the sun getting blotted out by what looked suspiciously like a red puffball. "Hey, gu- Oh."
Kenny looked up and immediately smiled at his friend, nothing but innocence on his face. "Do me a favour, Stan, don't tell anyone," he chirped, standing up straight like nothing had happened.
"Uh, yeah, sure... Just came to say, we're moving on if you're coming, " Stan informed them. Craig stood up much slower, still sucking on the cigarette. His glare made Stan uncertainly turn around and follow the group.
Kenny vaulted the wall while Craig walked around it. "See you tonight, Craig," the blonde fuck nugget grinned before running off to catch up.
Despite himself, Craig's teeth grit. After a few deep breaths, though, he brought himself to catch up with the boredom. All he had to remember was that boring was better than interesting, and he'd be able to stomach it. Especially around these parts.
The rest of the tour went as boringly as the first half, and Craig kept a healthy distance from Kenny and Stan, who were keeping to their little group. As such, Craig kept to his.
After the tour they returned to their hotel, where rooms where shared between two people and the school had the entire first two floors of the place booked out. Kenny and Craig were on the bottom floor. They didn't have the quietest room, it being right next door to Kyle's room.
Kyle, they'd learned quickly, was sharing with Cartman after Stan had partnered up with Wendy. The arguments that came through the paper thin walls were unbearably loud.
Kenny was the one to strike conversation up, as always. "So everyone else is going to that shitty place from last week to eat," he said. Craig hummed. He knew the place Kenny was talking about. Most meals were provided, but there was a restaurant two blocks away that the school had booked twice. Kenny and Craig had both hated it. "I thought we could stay in."
Craig knew where this was heading. "You aren't having any of my stuff."
Kenny chuckled. "Dude, I'd rather starve than eat your fucking ramen noodles. I've gone hungry before, it's not that bad."
"Doesn't stop you leeching off me at dinner," Craig muttered. All that earned was another chuckle. Craig started preparing his dinner into a bowl, while Kenny jumped on his bed and lay at the end, so his head was bent back over the side, giving him an inverted view of Craig.
"Soooo...." Kenny started after a few minutes of glorious silence. "When you're done with that?"
Craig was eating by this point. "When I'm done with this what?" The thought process that told him that it probably wasn't a good idea to ask that only got through to him after he finished. Kenny rolled off the bed and stepped up in front of Craig, meaning he had to look up ever so slightly to keep eye contact.
Before Kenny could start groping, kissing, or even get his leg between Craig's, Craig was pushing him away with his fork. "Can't you wait five fucking minutes?"
"Maybe I can't, what then?" Kenny had that shit eating grin on his face that Craig hated.
"Then find a rent boy and take it somewhere else. I'm eating." Craig took a mouthful of noodles just to emphasize his point. With his fork occupied, Kenny moved right back in, snaking his arms around Craig's midriff.
Craig's response was entirely rational. He wrapped his own arms around Kenny - one hand still holding the bowl and the other his cutlery - then hooked his chin over Kenny's shoulder and continued eating around the randy orange clad git. He felt Kenny nipping and sucking at his neck, probably leaving marks, but Craig did not react. He just carried on eating and, in the back of his mind, hoped Kenny was getting at least some entertainment out of inconveniencing him.
In fact, just to annoy Kenny back, Craig deliberately slowed down the speed at which he was eating.
In response, Kenny started sliding his hands up Craig's shirt.
It was a two way battle of attrition that did have to end - as much as Craig did want to frustrate Kenny, the stomachability of ramen noodles decreased in direct proportion to the temperature of them. If they got cold, that would then be a waste. Once he put the bowl down, he grabbed Kenny's hips and pushed him back onto the bed then - rather roughly, as ever - pulled his parka off.
"Now I'm not busy," he hissed, before making for the blonde's neck in return.
Kenny grinned at the ceiling while Craig set about disrobing him. "I knew I could get you eventually," he teased.
"Oh, shut up." There was a brief pause while Craig took his own shirt off. Then the excuse came: "I ran out of noodles."
Another day, another ruin. Craig was already bored by the tour guide, who once again was molehill mountaineering about the exact layout of the ruin. Today they were at Machu Picchu, so at least there was a nice view, something Craig was concentrating on a lot harder than the actual ruins, partly because he couldn't look in that general direction at all without Kenny making some kind of suggestive gesture at him. But mostly because they were boring.
He eventually sat down on the ground, with his legs dangling over one of the terraces, and started smoking. He looked out over the mountains. There was a cloud wrapping itself around a peak a kilometre or so away, but otherwise the sky was flawless. The mountains were that shade of greenish brown that never worked out in art projects but nature seemed to have licked.
It was actually pretty nice. After a few minutes, Craig down in the same position, looking up at Cartman.
Craig rolled over and stood up - quickly. He looked down at Cartman. "The fuck do you want?"
"Hey, Craig," Cartman said in that way. Craig knew that way. It was the slightly too friendly way he spoke when he was either hiding something or had prepared a speech that would not be nice to hear. "Just wanted to talk."
"What do you want, fatass?" Craig asked, betraying no emotions at all.
"What'd you think of the meal last night?" Cartman's not contesting use of the word "fatass" combined with his casual tone made Craig guess that he was hiding something.
"I didn't go," he replied shortly. "The place made me sick the first time and I brought ramen with me."
"The poor boy didn't go either," Cartman said. Craig didn't have to know Cartman that well to know that the offhandedness in that statement was a bit too casual.
"I'd assume that the place is a little bit out of his price range. So what?"
"Well, neither did I." Craig's eyes narrowed ever so slightly. "I think we might have similar tastes in food, Craig."
"Or you have a slim wallet as well," Craig shot back.
"I'm not poor, Craig," Cartman said testily.
Craig cocked his head at the shorter boy. The single mother working multiple jobs and net income might beg to differ, but Craig had no interest in goading Cartman on. "Whatever, skip the rest of the run up, I don't like talking to you. What did you come here to talk to me about?"
It was with a level of satisfaction for Craig that Cartman's brow furrowed at that - he'd hit a nerve. "Why do you think I want to talk about anything, Craig?" he asked, half-shouting it in the 'I'm getting pissed off' way that he must have known so well.
"Because I hate you," Craig stated. "You wouldn't come to me for small talk. What the fuck do you want?"
Cartman's teeth grit with a telltale clack, but he pulled a few things out of one pocket. Craig recognised them as polaroid photos.
"Well, I heard some commotion from your room," Cartman explained, cooling down a bit, and even smiling. That was never good. "So I thought, because I'm a good friend of Kenny's-"
"No you're not."
"-that I'd make sure everything was okay. And..." Cartman passed the photos over. Craig looked at them.
The first one was bad enough - it was a very clear shot of himself and Kenny making out while stripping each other down. Nonetheless, Craig was a master of controlling his emotions - he blocked them out and looked at the next one - something he rather wished he hadn't done.
There were seven in all, all along that theme. In the right order they would basically serve as a document of how the previous night had gone. Craig was very proud of himself for managing to keep his face straight as he looked at what were very worryingly explicit photographs of him doing things to Kenny - and Kenny doing things to him - that he'd much rather not be photographed.
"Okay," Craig said, forcing levelness to remain in his tone despite the anger that was rising in him, not just at the gross privacy invasion but also at who the invader was. "So you're a closet pervert. I'd have preferred not to know, but now I do. So what?"
"Weeeeeell..." Cartman said, drawing out the word to sound as forcibly casual as he could. Craig's sense of imminent doom told him he wouldn't like what Cartman was about to say. "I do know a few people who'd be interested in seeing these. I could start with the people here, then your parents... I mean, I wouldn't want to hurt Kenny, but he'd get a kick out of it, wouldn't he?"
That was one point Craig was more than willing to concede. He felt a nice direct approach was in order - he grabbed Cartman by the neck and span around, holding him over the edge of the terrace - there were only a few steps to fall on before it was the edge of a mountain.
"I know what you want. You're going to want money, or favours, or for me to kiss your ass all day." Craig was hissing, that contained anger now spilling out from the pot it had been nicely simmering in. "Let me tell you something, you fat fuck, you might have held world peace to ransom to get Kyle to embarrass himself, but this time you've got nothing. Because if anyone sees those photos, I am going to end you."
Cartman kept a brave face on, even though he was actually touching cloth. "Well, we'll see, won't we Craig?"
"There's nothing to see," Craig responded. He pulled the fat boy back onto the ledge then turned to walk away.
"You know," Cartman called after him, making Craig consider stopping, "you could buy them off me. Just to be sure, you know?"
Craig decided to humour him, even though he had literally just predicted that his was going to happen - as ever, his powers of clairvoyance came as no surprise to him. "And how much might they cost?"
"Ten thousand dollars. Each." Craig turned to give the most condescending look he could to Cartman. "Payable in instalments, of course."
"But nobody's going to see them anyway, so why bother?" The level of threat in Craig's voice was at singularity level. He turned, put his hands in his pockets, and walked away. Specifically towards the patch of orange climbing one of the walls.
"Kenny," he called. Kenny turned.
"What is it?"
Kenny dropped and turned to Craig, not really worried at all. "What is it?" he repeated.
Craig was about to explain, when he remembered something. Kenny had once told him, while they'd been lying together in a sweaty blanket, that at some point he wanted to be caught. Something for the bucket list, on the basis that, quote, 'it would be so fucking hot'.
"Ah, it's nothing, don't worry about it."
"Okay!" Kenny immediately jumped back onto the wall. "Oh, hey, look, it's you!"
Craig glanced up at what Kenny was pointing at. There was a carving of a ten year old version of him in that stupid flute band get-up carrying a spear. He was surrounded by giant guinea pigs, from the look of it. Craig groaned and turned around - that was something he'd resolved to avoid. He looked around and bee-lined towards Tweek. Maybe he could provide some more stimulating conversation.
"Tweek," Craig called. Tweek turned and nodded. "Hi."
"Hey, Craig." Then Tweek turned back to some point on the other side of the ruin.
"What is it?"
"That guy," Tweek said as a quick spasm rocketed down one side of him. Craig followed the line of sight and saw a woman in a black full length dress. Muslim, Craig's guess. "That's a woman, Tweek."
"She's freaking me out," Tweek whispered, like he was scared someone was going to hear. "Why's she in a hooded robe like that?"
The obvious answer was religious reasons. But Craig, having been through similar routines before, knew where this was going. "Tweek. For the last time, Tweek. Night Vale does not exist."
"HOW DO YOU KNOW!?" he screamed, gathering a little too much attention. Craig sighed. "You've never been there!"
"Because it doesn't exist," Craig explained patiently. "Night Vale does not exist. Alright?"
Tweek stared at Craig for a second, still looking frightened, but then nodded through the minor seizure he'd gotten himself into.
"Good. Drink some coffee, alright?" Another nod. "So...besides that, how-"
"Tucker!" The raspy voice was unmistakable. Craig groaned and visibly deflated.
"Excuse me a second, would you?" A third nod. Craig turned around, but Cartman was already there behind him. "What?"
"Just do me a favour, would you, I've left my stuff back over there, could you keep an eye on it?"
"Can't you carry it around with you?"
Craig glared for a second. "Lazy fuck." Nonetheless, he walked over. To be fair, Cartman's bag seemed pretty big. But who was going to miss it?" Craig pulled his phone out. Right at the top of his contacts was Asshole. He sat down next to Cartman's stuff and sent a text off. I'm bored.
Then he looked back out over the mountains. It really was lovely, even Craig would be happy to admit. He felt like if he could just stay there for ever, he'd actually be pretty happy with that. He closed his eyes.
He opened his eyes a few minutes later when he realised his phone hadn't gone off. As he looked at it, it buzzed. From Asshole, just now: you should come here tweek's spazzing out
"Shit!" Craig swore, before running over to where Tweek was having a full on panic attack. "It's coming! Oh, Jesus, it's coming! It's gonna kill us!"
"Tweek!" Craig shouted at the frightened boy. "What is it?"
Tweek looked up and pointed at a spot behind Craig. "Glow cloud!"
Craig turned. The single cloud in the sky did look slightly glowy in the afternoon sun, but that was taking things a bit far. He turned back to Tweek. "Tweek. Not real. Remember?"
"It's right there, man!"
"It's a normal cloud," Craig groaned. Just for a second he caught Cartman's eye, standing behind Tweek. There was something in there. Victory.
Glaring back, Craig shook Tweek. "Listen. Tweek. Go with Clyde and Token. Make sure you drink a lot of coffee. And-" Craig lowered his tone. "Don't listen to a word that fat fuck says."
Clyde and Token promptly whisked Tweek away. Before Cartman could get his snide comment in on how Craig hadn't been there for his best friend while he was having a major seizure, Craig walked in another direction, trying to find somewhere that he could get some damn peace and quiet. Somewhere he could let the anger building inside him dissipate a little.
This time he was on the verge of dropping down onto the terraces, but something clamped onto his shoulder before he could drop. Craig turned around, ready to punch that fat fuck in the face - and so was glad he held back when he saw that the arsehole vying for his attention this time was actually a different one - a blonde one with too much orange in his wardrobe.
"What?" Craig snapped.
"Is everything okay?" Kenny asked. "You said there was a problem, was that it?"
Craig's temper faded. "No. That wasn't it." Kenny raised his eyebrows. "Okay, that was kind of it. Related, I guess."
Kenny sat down, and Craig followed suit. "Fatass?" Kenny inferred, getting inquisitive all of a sudden.
"Mhm." Kenny shook his head.
"Look, I know how he gets. Better than most, I guess. You know how he gets with poor people. It's best you just leave him be."
Craig's gaze reverted to a glare. "Thank you, Kenny. Thank you for your fucking useless advice."
Kenny's chuckle was infuriating, but the good sort that he was used to. "Look, whatever it is, you of all people can deal with it, alright? I mean, you're the only guy on the planet who can get Tweek to calm down like that." Craig hummed. "Okay, look, I'm going to go back to Kyle and fatass, but... As long as everything's okay, yeah?"
"Good." Kenny glanced behind them, then went for a peck on Craig's jaw. He was met with Craig's hand pushing his face away.
"No." Kenny got up and left, finding that to be unreasonably amusing. Once again, Craig was alone. Thank god for that.
It lasted all of fifteen minutes before he felt his phone buzz again. He checked the message. From Fatass, 13 seconds ago: Have you seen Stan anywhere? Go find him for me.
Craig looked towards Cartman, who was looking at him expectantly. While his eyes did narrow some, especially after what had happened with Tweek, Craig didn't see any harm in that. It was Cartman, but looking for someone? Of course, he could let Cartman do his own damn work. On the other hand, if this was all he'd have to do to keep his privacy as intact as it could remain...
Feelings towards Cartman aside, Craig decided to just get it over with as quickly as possible. He got up and jumped up the wall Kenny had been climbing before Tweek's fit - it wasn't entirely difficult to clamber up to the top and it was a nice vantage point. He looked around for the red puffball.
Cartman did have a point - he couldn't see Stan at all. Craig glanced down the other side, then double taked and nearly fell off the wall. "What...the fuck?" he asked before he could remind himself that that wasn't a great idea.
Stan and Wendy were doing their best to defile the ancient Inca monument. He was looking down on them, so had a good idea of what was happening. A very good idea. Stan's hand was down Wendy's tights, and he was pretty sure she was reciprocating.
Or at least, that's how they were for the matter of nanoseconds it took for them to pull away from each other and look up at Craig in abject annoyance and embarrassment and yelp.
"What the fuck?" Stan repeated, somewhat annoyed at the interruption. Craig didn't have an answer. "I told Cartman to keep an eye out for us..." He zipped his jeans up awkwardly.
Craig closed his eyes and exhaled.
Of course he would.
Of course he would put Craig in that situation.
"Craig, could you come down off the wall?" asked the tour guide impatiently. "I know I've set you all loose, but the masonry is very fragile."
Craig looked down in the most sarcastic manner he could and stamped a couple of times. "Seems sturdy to me," he muttered, before easing himself down. He sent a message back to Cartman: You fuck.
Hey, you better be nice to me or someone might see those photos.
Perfect. So Craig had been enlisted as Cartman's personal servant slash court jester.
He felt something at that. Something like fury, but different. A little more primal - it was a familiar feeling too, but last time it had been forced on him. Now he was doing it himself - and that scared him. Craig closed his eyes and exhaled. Control, Craig. Control. It took a few seconds, but it dissipated.
As an afterthought, Craig also blocked Cartman's number. He took enough shit from Kenny, he didn't need it coming from Cartman as well. So, he resolved that he wasn't even going to listen to the fat bastard. If he did get some words through to him, then Craig would just do the exact opposite of what was being asked.
After that incident, a number of glares from Stan, Wendy and Kyle, and finding out that Kenny found the whole thing to be rather hilarious, the next half hour went smoothly - especially when Craig glimpsed the look on Cartman's face when he presumably wasn't responding to instructions.
Then he got a pat on the back. Cartman was coming directly. "Could we talk, please?"
"In private." Cartman walked towards the side of the mountain, lowered himself from a terrace and went out of sight. Craig had no intention of following - he had already turned a full 180 on one heel and was about to walk away when he heard "Come on, Tucker!" fly over the side of the mountain. Cartman sounded impatient.
Keeping his recent resolution, Craig walked away.
It was another half hour before the tour guide finally moved on. Craig deliberately kept his distance from Cartman, keeping Tweek on his left and Clyde on his right to maintain conversation. It was, of course, something of a distraction. Even though they didn't hang out a lot, Craig knew Cartman was a lot more patient than he seemed to be.
So when Cartman acted on his threat, Craig's reaction was mixed with a level of surprise, then self-deprecation as he realised, once again, of course he would.
At the time, the group was looking through one of the cavernous temple things that was carved into a mountain, the likes of which Craig had very pointedly not looked around on his previous visit. On his way in, he'd seen several of those emblems again, the one of the younger version of him carrying a spear.
The tour guide had been waving her arms around the rope bridges and waterfalls, and manically talking about how wonderful the place was. Craig only saw a boring old cave.
The group stopped at a ledge, where some of the more intricate designs were. The centrepiece, Craig noticed, was a grand circle containing an eight pointed star, with him in the middle. He had no idea why he'd thought it would be a good idea to bring his hat inside where someone might notice similarities - but then he did like his hat.
There was a small pedestal, a few inches off the ground, in front of the carving that was currently being used as a podium by the tour guide, just to make sure everyone could take part in the tedium. And occasionally she would turn around and look straight at that emblem. Craig didn't really want her noticing and inferring things, especially since she was making such a huge deal about how nobody knew what it mean, who the boy in the picture was or what his function was.
A voice in the back of his head told him Of course she won't think it's you. The only real similarity between you now and that fucking picture is that you're wearing the hat.
Better safe, though.
His plan had been to keep his head down until they moved on, something he was normally rather good at. On this occasion, the plan was somewhat scuppered when Cartman stepped up onto the makeshift podium and interrupted the tour guide's rabid yammering on. "Uh, excuse me, everyone?"
Everyone's attention was immediately diverted, Craig's and the guide's with some surprise.
"Yeah, I have an announcement to make." Cartman cleared his throat, then grinned at Craig just for a split second before continuing. "I make it a point of sticking up for my principles. My morals."
Craig expected the long speech. He started weaving through the class, making his way to the front of the semi circle that surrounded the patch of wall that until recently had been the centre of attention. "And right now, there are certain individuals here who are not sticking to those morals."
Kyle was the one to interject. "So what? Your morals are fucking retarded."
Cartman gave his award winning smile of condescension. "Not these ones, Kyle. You see, I have proof that-" Then it was Craig's turn to do the interjecting.
Cartman, on mentioning the proof, had pulled those polaroid photos out of one pocket and was about to display them before presumably handing them around for all to see. Craig had moved then. In two strides he was up on the pedestal with Cartman, swiping for the photos. Cartman's response was, of course, to hold them out of reach - something he couldn't easily do with a five inch height difference in Craig's favour.
Craig was feeling that fury again. He knew what was about to happen - it had happened before, after all. "Give them to me, you fat fuck," he hissed through grit teeth.
"You have my terms," Cartman grinned. Craig slugged him in the gut. He was seeing blue crackling around the corners of his vision. Shit.
Cartman doubled over long enough for Craig to swipe the photos, but he wasn't winded and after over a decade of Kyle's company could take a punch. He stood straight and swiped straight back - Craig caught his wrist.
"What's the matter, Craig?" Cartman asked, teasing him like the little gobshite he was. "Don't want to answer for what you did?" Craig said nothing, but the blueness was taking over. "It's not like everyone doesn't know anyway, so why don't I just say it?" Cartman wrenched his arm free and turned to the class. "Craig's been f-"
That was as far as he got before Craig's vision whited out. He knew what to do though - he maintained his glare at Cartman. Behind the raw power that was streaming out of his eyes, he could see the fatass go flying back into the next wall along. He could even just about make out scorch marks from where the...whatever they were were hitting him. He could also here a scream that sounded very much like Cartman had touched a live socket.
For a few seconds, Craig felt a balance. He felt the anger, of course, that was practically fuelling what was happening. That and the statue of some ancient and forgotten god in the corner. But also he felt peaceful. Like this was meant to happen. Like all things had led to this and now he could just let go a little.
Eventually, Craig was able to stop it. He closed his eyes, and the beams stopped. His vision was blurred and weak, but Cartman wasn't in a state to act upon it. Craig looked disdainfully at the photographs in his hand for a second, then he threw them into the air and blasted them all into a black dust that sifted down onto his class. Then he closed his eyes. After a minute or two's breathing steadily and thinking happy thoughts, the blue went away. He opened his eyes and looked at his class.
"Uh..." came a voice. Craig looked to Clyde - the source. "What the fuck was that?"
Craig glanced around. All bar three jaws were dropped - but then, all bar three there had seen that happen before, hadn't they? He shrugged at Clyde. "I don't know," he replied honestly. Well, honestly in a sense. He didn't know what had happened, or why it happened - he'd just expected it to happen.
Craig looked around then. He glanced a warning towards Kyle and Stan. He noticed a few cameras being pointed at him - including Clyde's.
Against better judgement, he wanted to see. As the group slowly unfroze and a few people went to check if Cartman was alright, Craig took Clyde's camera and played back the most recent video - it wasn't hard to find. The still image the camera had picked was of two glowing blue beams of raw energy flying from Craig's face.
He played it back. What he saw didn't surprise him much - laser beams, blue energy going everywhere, his eyes glowing when they weren't busy firing whatever those beams were - so all he could do once playback had ended was emit a quiet sigh.
Cartman was struggling off the floor, helped by about three people who between them could just about take the weight. Craig walked over there and knelt down looking him in the eye.
"Don't you ever fuck with me," he warned the injured boy. He had half a mind to spit in his face or something, but in his current state Cartman didn't even seem worth it. Craig turned on his heel and strode towards the exit, glaring at anyone who looked like they were thinking of trying to stop him.
He got outside, and had to squint at the sudden bright light of the outdoors. He collapsed against the wall and sighed. Out came a cigarette.
He sucked in the sweet cancer and let it swim around his lungs for a few seconds.
"Craig?" Craig looked up. Kenny was there. Craig groaned and looked back out over the hills, waiting for the questions he didn't want to answer. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," he muttered. When no further questions came, he looked up and saw Kenny sitting down next to him. "No more questions?"
"Nope. You don't want to talk about it." Kenny shrugged as he said it. "Can I have a cigarette?"
"You've got your own." But nonetheless, Craig held the packet out. More of the group was filtering out of the cave now. "I think we're moving on."
"Okay," Kenny chirped, standing up. "See you tonight, spaceman."
Craig glared. "See you then, princess." He sneered that last word slightly, something that might have worked better if Kenny didn't think it was a good thing. He heard a laugh come from Kenny as he rejoined his friends.
At that point, Tweek came out, swiftly followed by Token and Clyde. Craig stood up too.
Token approached Craig - a bit apprehensively, Craig noticed. "You feeling alright?" he asked uncertainly.
Craig looked at him. Then he looked at Tweek. He looked at Clyde. He looked at Cartman as he was helped out of the temple by Stan and Butters. Then he looked again over the lowlands of the Andes. They maintained his gaze for just a few seconds, then he turned back to Token.
"I feel fine."
If you enjoyed this story, remember to check out the original artwork that inspired it!