Monster in the Mirror

Chapter 17

Ironically, Kenny only walked another ten feet or so before coming to a stop in front of a small building by the name of Tweak Bros. Coffee Shop. Looking inside the cozy little shop, I saw a few customers and a couple people at the register: but no sign of any kids. "Is this the place?" I asked Kenny as he nodded before holding the door for me, like a true gentleman. "Thanks Kenny." I said, smiling at my feminine-dressed friend as we approached the counter, where a man in a dark-purple sweater stood drinking coffee.

"Welcome to Tweak Coffee. Coffee made with ingredients made by local organic suppliers, brewed locally. How can I help you?" he asked as I checked to make sure I still had Tweek's letter from Eric. "We're looking for Tweek, is he here?" I asked as the man smiled before nodding. "He sure is! Hold on a minute kids and I'll call him for you." he said before placing his coffee down on the counter. "Tweek? Tweek!" he called towards a door, probably one that led to the back room. "GAH!" came a startled voice from behind the door. 'That must be Tweek.' I thought as the man continued.

"Have you picked up the fresh local ingredients?" he asked as the sound of multiple things crashing and falling made themselves known. "AH! NOT YET DAD! I'M STILL TRYING TO FINISH ALL MY CHORES!" the panicked voice yelled as the loud sounds increased, as if he were trying to do multiple things at once. "Well hurry up son, the family business is relying on you!" Mr. Tweak said before turning his attention back to us. "Tweeks' in the back if you want to go talk to him, but don't take long: he still has chores to finish." he said as he returned to his work as Kenny and I walked over to the door leading to the back room.

Before I opened the door, I glanced at Kenny, who had a slightly-nervous expression on his face. "Don't worry Kenny, I'm not going to judge you for who you're friends with or how they act." I said, watching as his expression became relieved as he gave me a hug. "That really means a lot, I just hope you really mean that." Kenny said before opening the door, letting us in the back room: where supplies of all sorts were scattered across the floor. Navigating the mess, we came across a boy with wild blonde hair in an olive-green jacket with mismatched buttons erratically sweeping the floor.

Approaching him, I saw that he was constantly vibrating, as if he couldn't stop. "Excuse me." I called softly, as to not startle him: which proved meaningless as he screamed and dropped his broom. "WH-WHAT? WH-WHO'S THAT?" he yelled at the top of his lungs and frantically looked around, as if there was something that was out to get him. Giving Kenny a reassuring look, I carefully walked up to the nervous boy so that he could see me clearly. After my…incident with the military, Alex had acted similar to how this boy does for a while: so I knew how to approach panicky people.

As soon as he saw me, he twitched violently and quickly backed away from me, hiding behind his broom as he did so. Staying where I was, I sent him a kind smile before crouching down on the floor: to physically show him I wasn't a threat. Behind me, I felt Kenny watching me intently: as if he were trying to figure out what I was doing. "It's okay: I'm not going to hurt you. My name is Saphira, are you Tweek?" I asked as he about jumped out of his skin as I spoke to him, but he did lower the broom. "Y-YES I'M TWEEK! It's N-NICE to…nngh!...meet you!" he greeted as he twitched violently again, before setting down to a constant vibrating. Slowly rising from my crouch, I showed Tweek my hands, so he knew I wasn't going to hurt him. "I have a letter for you Tweek, it's from Eric." I said as I carefully handed the letter to him before backing away.

"What's this?! GAH! NOW! The guys need me NOW?! Oh there's no way man! I have WAY too much to do!" he panicked as he suddenly started shaking me with a terrified look in his eyes. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kenny move forward to try to help me: only to have me discreetly hold my hand out to signal him to wait. "HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DO ALL THIS?! Wait-YOU! Could you go get the four o'clock delivery for me?! If you do then I could finish here and then- and then I'll still have time to play!" he shouted as he literally bounced on his feet where he stood.

"Sure Tweek, I'll help you. Where is the delivery?" I asked as he spazzed before digging an envelope out of his pocket. "It's at Kenny's house-like always! Y-You give them THIS- they'll give you the delivery!" he said before he frantically returned to his chores as I slowly backed away and followed Kenny out the door and back outside. "How did you do that? I've never seen Tweek that open with strangers before." Kenny said as I placed the envelope in the pocket of my hoodie so I wouldn't lose it.

"Alex had acted that way for a while, when he was little: he became traumatized and wouldn't let anybody near him. I've learned that you can't really speak to people like that with words, they respond better when you use body language and go slow. Kind of like when you approach a scared animal: if you force yourself on them before they're ready, you'll get bit. But if you move at their pace: you'll have a loyal companion for life." I explained as Kenny once again looked at me with that unidentifiable look in his eyes. It wasn't a bad look, but it made me feel kinda weird and I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not.

As I followed Kenny across several crosswalks and down a couple streets, I noticed that he was acting a bit off: as if he knew something I didn't. 'What is it about Kenny's house that has him so stressed?' I wondered as I pulled on his sleeve to make him stop walking. As he turned to me, I saw he refused to make eye contact with me, instead reached up and pulled the drawstrings of his parka: closing the opening completely. Once he did that, he slumped his shoulders and sat down in a snowbank, ignoring my concerned looks completely.

"What's the matter Kenny?" I asked as I crouched on the ground next to him, ignoring a group of elves challenging us to fight. Instead of responding like I'd hoped, he just curled himself into a ball and didn't even acknowledge the fact that I said anything. "C'mon Kenny, you can tell me what's bothering you: I won't poke fun or judge you, I promise." I said as he gripped his arms as tightly as he could. Looking closer, I noticed his entire form was shaking: and I had a feeling it had nothing to do with the fact that he was practically buried in the snow. "It's-It's my family." he muttered so softly that I wasn't even sure he said anything before hiding his face in his arms. "What about your family?" I asked carefully as he shuddered for a second.

"I don't think you should meet them…that's all." he said with absolutely no emotion as he shook harder than before. "Kenny, are you…ashamed of your family?" I asked with wide eyes as he let out a quiet and obviously held back sob, giving me all the proof I needed. "My family…doesn't live in the best part of town: my parents aren't right in the head either." he sniffed before becoming silent again, and I had a feeling that he wasn't going to say any more than that on the subject. Even though it was nothing to be proud of, I was beyond happy and grateful at the fact that Kenny trusted me enough to open up to the point where he was legitimately crying at my feet. 'So…THAT'S what this is about.' I thought with a small smile as I pulled the feminine-dressed boy into a hug, holding on tight as he tensed up for a minute.

"Don't worry Kenny: I don't care about how much money you have, how your parents are or where you live. I care about you guys and consider you and Mysterion my best friends, you have nothing to be ashamed of: because nothing is going to change that." I said as Kenny suddenly had me in a hug tight enough that I was positive would make me turn blue if I was a normal human. Flipping off the elves as they joked and laughed at our predicament, I stood up and helped Kenny to his feet. Waiting patiently as he adjusted his wig and wiped his eyes, I checked my phone to see that I had a very angry text from Clyde: apparently he blamed me for Eric kicking him out of Kupa Keep, to which I replied that it wasn't my fault that we had been ambushed and overrun.

At Kenny's nudge, I put my phone away and followed him across some railroad tracks and into a more run-down area of town. "Are you SURE you wanna do this?" Kenny asked as he kicked the dirty snow in shame. "Remember what I said Kenny, besides: if Tweek doesn't show up Eric's gonna be pissed. So the sooner we get what he needs, the sooner we can get back." I said as he heaved a large sigh before nodding, leading me over to a sickly-green house. The fact that THIS was Kenny's house came as such a shock to me, that I had actually stopped walking: broken beer bottles covered the snow and lay in the dirt, the fence hardly had any posts on it, and the ones it had were rotting and termite infested. The house itself was hardly even a house: it was more of a shed that was literally falling apart where it stood.

The window was shattered with shredded curtains blowing through the holes, the paint and walls were cracking, and the snow-covered roof had large holes in it. Looking over my shoulder, I saw the road was cracked and broken with dead weeds sticking through. As I took in the garage, I saw the door was bent, and the roof was on the verge of collapsing at any minute. 'So…this is why Kenny didn't want me to see where he lived, poor Kenny.' I thought sadly as I knocked on the door, very aware how Kenny stepped off to the side and pulled the drawstrings of his parka again.

After a minute or two the door opened, revealing a rather dirty red-haired lady that I assumed to be Kenny's mom. She wore a faded and stained green shirt with the words 'I'm with stupid' on the front and well-worn blue jeans. "What?" she questioned in a southern accent that I was quite used to hearing back in Florida. Digging out the envelope Tweek gave me, I handed it to her as she took in Kenny's costume.

"Ah, this isn't for ME: this is for the nice people who are renting the guest house out the back." she said in a nicer tone as she directed me to the garage. 'People are actually LIVING in there?!' I thought, amazed that the garage was standing, let alone HOUSING people. Thanking her, I motioned for Kenny as he followed wordlessly after me. Seeing him depressed as he was, and how he was forced to live got me thinking of an idea, I just hoped it wouldn't turn into an utter failure.



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