– Pregame –
Stan Marsh did not enjoy drama. He never had.
As a little kid he loathed being the center of attention, though that was often where he found himself anyway. Not of his own accord, of course. Everyone in South Park experienced all manner of over-the-top bullshit back then. But even as he grew up, Stan still somehow landed himself in several drama piles – most of them involving school sports or animal rights. (He never would live down that whole veal thing, or saving the whales and dolphins from the Japanese. He still coached the pewee hockey team, for fuck's sake.)
But when he could, Stan preferred to avoid loud situations, and for the most part he'd been able to do just that throughout his teenage years.
It was a rather typical midday at South Park High School when Stan's virtually-drama-free life took an unexpected turn. Once the lunch bell rang, he and Kyle were practically always the first ones to make it to the line, and Kenny hung back in order to save them a table near the window, as per usual.
"Have you decided if you're going to the homecoming dance yet?" Kyle asked as the line slowly inched forward and they made their way through with their trays.
Stan shook his head. "Nah, dude. You know I'm not really interested in that kind of stuff..."
"Yeah, but you'll probably get homecoming king. The star football player almost always does. So you should go."
Stan sighed. This wasn't a new conversation for them. Kyle had been pestering him about going to this dance for a month now – even before Stan became an obvious favorite choice among the senior nominees. Winning homecoming king would just be another excuse for Kyle to try to get him to go.
"Even if I do win, I'm not gonna guarantee that I'll go to this dance, Kyle. It's just not my thing, okay?"
Kyle's emotions were always painted boldly on his face, and Stan could read them like an open book; his friend was sulking, and trying desperately not to show it. "Yeah, yeah. It's cool, dude. I know how much you hate social activities..." The redhead lifted one hand subconsciously to tug at the corner of his hat – a gesture that meant Kyle was disappointed. Now his green hat was crooked on his head, and Stan felt awful. Again, this wasn't unusual. He was plenty used to Kyle trying to guilt trip him into doing things he normally wouldn't do.
"Right," Stan said softly, secretly hoping Kyle would drop the subject. He didn't – he kept rambling all the way across the cafeteria – but Stan just tuned him out until they had a chance to sit down.
As they made their way to the table Kenny had saved for them, Stan immediately noticed something odd. Craig Tucker and Token Black were sitting there, taking up the two chairs that were generally occupied by Cartman and Butters. Kenny was talking to them in a hushed manner and grinning wildly like he'd just been told a secret that was too good to be kept.
"Hey dudes," Stan said, taking a seat next to Kenny and Kyle next to him. "What's going on?"
"Nothing," Craig said in his nasally flat voice. Kenny sniggered like Craig had made a joke, but Stan didn't see what was so funny.
"We were just talking about homecoming is all," Token said.
Craig didn't say anything else, but by the way he looked directly at Kenny and then at Token, Stan still wasn't convinced they weren't planning something.
Kyle chimed in, "Oh yeah, are you guys going to the dance?"
A curious expression crossed Token's features, but Craig rolled his eyes to the ceiling and said, "Do I look like a girl, Broflovski? Fuck no, I'm not going to that stupid dance."
"What, can't you get a date?" Kyle asked snidely.
"A date's got nothing to do with it," Craig replied. He tried to keep his eyes off of Kenny, but Stan happened to catch them wandering.
They were definitely planning something. They had to be; the only time Craig ever even spoke to Kenny, or vice versa, was if one of them had come up with some Grade A scheme. They made a surprisingly dynamic duo when it came to pranks. But that still didn't explain why Token was tagging along, or what the hell it had to do with homecoming...
"What then?" Stan asked, picking at his corn with a plastic fork to try not to seem too interested.
Craig glared at Stan. "None of your business."
"It's my business if it involves my friends, right Kenny?" Stan said confidently. Kenny lifted his hands in surrender.
"I plead the fifth, man."
Stan sighed, suddenly frustrated with another one of his friends for the second time in five minutes – a new record, likely. "Fine. I didn't really care anyway." He reached up and tugged Kyle's hat back into its proper position, causing the redhead to blink in confusion at first, but then grin sheepishly once he remembered he'd off-centered it.
"Thanks," Kyle said before he too started munching on his lunch.
Token tugged on Craig's blue hoodie and then whispered something to him, too softly for Stan to hear. Craig nodded and they both got up without another word, briskly making their way out of the lunchroom. Stan instantly felt the need to round on Kenny again, now that they were alone. "Seriously, dude, what the fuck was that just now?"
"Hey, don't forget my rights!" Kenny muttered. "Are you gonna eat that pizza...?"
"No, take it. And I'm not a cop and you're not in trouble, so I'm ignoring your right to remain silent. I know you're up to something."
"Aren't I always?" The blond boy grinned a million dollar smile as he snatched up Stan's slice of pepperoni pizza.
Stan smiled right back in picture perfect sarcasm. "Yeah, and you almost always tell me what you're up to, just in case you need backup. Those were your own words, Kenny!"
Kyle finally spoke up after swallowing a mouthful of pears. "I thought you said you didn't care, Stan?"
"I don't." And suddenly Stan found himself in a staring contest with Kyle for the next three minutes. "Really, I don't." Four minutes. ...Five...six... "I'm dropping it right now, see?" Kyle may not have been very good at hiding his emotions, but he was damn good at making Stan show his. After eight minutes of nothing but stink-eye staring, Stan caved and said, "All right, all right – I really wanna know. Okay? Jesus Christ, dude..."
Kyle smiled, clearly happy about this triumph. Stan had to resist pinching the bridge of his nose. "There. Kenny, thanks to Kyle, you now know that I was curious all along. Congratu-fucking-lations."
Kenny laughed at Stan's sarcasm and said, "Craig's gonna kill me if I tell you, though."
"What? Why?" Stan tried not to look shocked.
" 'Cause he specifically told me not to. And 'cause this is his baby."
Stan bit his tongue and let Kyle say what he tactfully decided not to: "Craig is a...father?"
"Yeah, dude. His cousin Red is his baby momma. Haven't you heard?" Kenny couldn't even get through all of that one before he was laughing so hard he couldn't breathe. Kyle tried to give Kenny a no-nonsense look, but the darkening blush on his cheeks took away every bit of the effect.
Stan cleared his throat to get back on topic. "What is his baby, Kenny?"
After the blond boy's laughter dissipated, he leaned in close to Stan, looking like he was finally ready to reveal this big secret. "His idea."
Stan waited for him to go on, but when he didn't Stan said, "Idea...?"
To say Kenny looked excited would be an understatement. The boy looked downright thrilled.
"For our senior prank, dude. It's fucking brilliant!"
– First Quarter –
"You told them?"
Craig didn't exactly sound angry when Kenny showed up on the night of their planned meeting with Stan and Kyle in tow. There was definitely more annoyance in his tone than anger.
In response to his question, Kenny just shrugged and made himself right at home by going inside and heading straight for Craig's fridge, leaving Stan and Kyle to stand there awkwardly on Craig's doorstep, wondering whether or not they'd be invited in. What an evening this was turning out to be already.
Craig eventually jerked his head to one side in a motion meant to say "come on in" but that read more like "idgaf what you do, peasants." Stan and Kyle briefly looked at each other for reassurance before they both followed Craig into his house.
Token was already in the living room, as was Kenny at this point – going to town on a huge piece of chocolate cherry cake. Craig waited until Stan and Kyle were also seated on his sofa before launching directly into the speech he'd prepared for tonight.
"So I was thinking we use Kenny's dad's truck to transport—"
"Uhhh, Craig...?" Kyle said. Craig did not verbally respond; he just raised his eyebrows at Kyle. His demeanor was every bit as cold as Colorado was in January. "Kenny never told us what the prank actually is."
This time Craig lowered one brow so that he could turn a flawless "wtf" gaze on Kenny.
"What? I kept my word, dude. Honor and shit."
What an evening. Craig sighed. "Okay. That might put a damper on our meeting then..."
"And why is that?" Stan asked.
"Mostly just because of you, Marsh," Craig said flatly, "but a little bit because of the subject matter."
"Augh!" uttered Stan. "Will someone please tell me what the subject matter is then?"
Craig waited a beat or two before holding Stan's blazing blue gaze in his own icy grey one. He waited another beat before finally speaking up. "We're going to put a cow on the roof of the school for homecoming day."
The shock on Kyle's face was very satisfying, but Craig had been hoping for a bigger reaction out of Stan. Instead the quarterback just sat there looking stupid like he always did. Since neither new member of the posse seemed to have any questions, Craig continued: "So, yeah, Kenny's truck can totally transport a cow, right? I was thinking we could get a large, thick piece of plywood to use as a ramp in order to get her in there, and then just drive kinda slow until we make it back to the high school. What do you two think?"
"I think you're fucking crazy!" Kyle screeched. (Craig had referred to Token and Kenny as 'you two,' but he was willing to hear out Kyle's and Stan's opinions. Once. ...Maybe.)
"And why is that, Broflovski?"
Stan finally spoke up, "Because of how obviously impossible that is to do. For one thing, you don't have a cow, the last time I checked."
"We're going to 'borrow' one from Rancher Bob, dumbass."
"Oh, right, and Mr. Denkin is just going to let you borrow one of his livestock so you can potentially injure and or kill it by trying to force it onto a rooftop. Sure."
Craig managed to hide his grin. Now that was more like the reaction he'd been hoping to get out of Stan. "Well, by 'borrow' I more or less meant steal... You gonna cry if I accidentally hurt the poor little cow, Stan?"
"No. I'm not gonna fucking let you hurt it in the first place. This is a stupid idea, dude! You can't do it!" Stan actually stood up, crossing his arms over his chest for emphasis. Kyle followed suit and even added his own little agreements with Stan's point. They both looked so morally righteous it made Craig roll his eyes completely across the room. How very archetypal of them.
"Okay, look – the cow probably won't get hurt. We can be careful about it." Craig subtly crossed his fingers behind his back. "We can even fess up after the prank is over and turn ourselves in. Bob gets his cow back, we go down in history for being the best seniors ever, and everybody is happy. It's a win-win." Craig then made his way right up to Stan so he could emphasize his own point up close and personal. "And I don't give a fuck what you say. I'm going to do this regardless, with or without your help."
Stan narrowed his eyes, thoughts moving quickly back and forth behind them. Craig thought for sure he'd back out. This was the moment he'd crack and "do the right thing," for sure.
But it wasn't. Stan said, "Fine," in that strangely strong-but-soft way of his and sat back down. Kyle looked confused, but followed his friend's lead once again by mirroring his actions. "I guess we're in, then. Let's iron out the details."
Craig glanced at Token, who'd been quiet this entire time. "Token? What do you think?"
Token shrugged, his shoulders rolling nonchalantly. "I just want a senior prank, man. I don't care what it is, and I don't care who's in on it. All I want is some excitement for this otherwise pathetic excuse for a senior year."
All of a sudden Kenny made a delighted sound as he finished off his last bite of cake, so he wasn't of much help at the moment, being so distracted. Craig didn't ponder the decision very long though. As much as he wanted to pull off this prank – come on, a live version of their school mascot on the roof for everyone to see and hear on the morning of homecoming? It was truly a stroke of genius – nevertheless he wouldn't pass up on a chance to piss off Stan Marsh and Kyle Broflovski. He'd been doing it since he was a kid, and he'd keep doing it until they were at last out of his hair for the rest of his life.
"So yeah, Kenny's dad's truck will probably work, then. I want this all to go down smoothly, so we'll have to get the cow onto the roof the night before. It's a quick job; get in, get the cow, get out. We'll go straight to the school and use our plywood ramp whenever we have to in order to get her up there. None of you can tell anyone about any of this. Is all of that pretty clear?"
"Clear as mud, dude," Stan said. Kyle chuckled, and Craig wanted to punch him. But it was perfect in the fact that not only did they have an interesting prank now; they'd have an interesting time pulling it off, too.
– Second Quarter –
The night of the prank was upon them, and Stan yet felt every bit as nervous about it as he had when Craig first told them what it was. His stomach was empty but still somehow churning unpleasantly, which was probably due to his own secret plans for tonight – plans that he wholly banished from his mind until he needed to act on them. He and Kyle, ever together, were meeting up at Kenny's house first thing, but then they would pick up Craig and Token at Craig's house and proceed with the game plan from there. Getting the cow and getting her on the roof would be the hardest parts. The blond boy was already out in his dad's red pickup, grinning from ear to ear like he'd won the lottery, when Stan and Kyle walked up to his house.
"Sup, guys?" he greeted quietly as Stan and Kyle went ahead and filed into the truck. "Beautiful night for a senior prank, isn't it?"
Stan didn't respond so Kyle mumbled, "Sure it is, dude. Let's just get on with it as quickly as possible. It's already almost midnight, and I don't want anything to go wrong."
"I guess we're off to pick up the masterminds, then."
Stan jumped when Kenny started the truck, causing Kyle to give him a concerned look. "You okay, dude?"
"Yeah," Stan said, waving Kyle off. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just a little nervous." He wasn't really sure how he meant that... The idle rumbling had put him a bit off guard.
The rest of the drive was relatively uneventful, though, and so was picking up Token and Craig other than the fact that Token was carrying a video camera. "What's that for?" Stan asked.
Token and Craig hopped into the truck bed and opened the middle window so they could still talk to the boys in the cab. "To permanently document this astounding event, of course," Token voiced excitedly. Stan tried to smile, but it came out more like a grimace, so he quickly turned back around to watch the road go by. What really only took about twenty minutes seemed like hours to Stan. His nerves were very much at their peak.
Kenny pulled into Mr. Denkin's driveway gradually so as not to alert the farmer of their presence. He parked near the gate and let the truck idle until Craig had time to hop out and let them through. Kyle whispered, "I can't believe we're really doing this. We're stealing a cow...to get it...on the roof of our school." He sounded more stunned than excited.
"Yeah dude!" Kenny whispered back enthusiastically. "This is it – our big night. One of these lucky cows is about to become a movie star!"
And become a movie star she did. Once Craig pulled the ramp down on an angle from the tailgate, secured it into the mud, and whistled softly for Kenny to get her into the truck bed, Token started filming the entire ordeal. It wasn't easy. Cows were stubborn as fuck – something they all knew from having been around and played with them since they were little kids – and this cow was no different. She was brown with darker brown spots, and it took Stan, Kenny, Craig, and Kyle surrounding her to finally prod her up the ramp.
After that was finished, they started their long journey back to the high school. In reality, it was only about ten miles from Farmer Bob's ranch, but Kenny had to drive so slowly in order to keep the cow safe (mostly at Stan's insistence) that it took over half an hour to get there. They passed multiple cars on the main road, but thankfully none of them stopped... Craig was silently fuming by the time they eventually reached the school's front doors.
"All right, let's get this fucking show on the road, guys," he ordered quietly. Everyone got back out of the truck and helped get the cow – who Stan had nicknamed Cocoa – off the ramp once again, save for Token who was filming. Kenny had cleverly thought to grab a handful of hay from a stray bale back at the ranch which he used to lead Cocoa up the handicap walkway. She trudged right through the halls of the building like she belonged there, with Kenny's hay beckoning her onward. She even plodded right onto the elevator, which was a bit cramped with everyone, but still the fastest way to get the cow as close as possible to the roof without any fuss.
"I dunno why I didn't think of this before," Kenny chuckled, "But what the hay, it's working!"
Kyle and Stan stared at him flatly. "What?!" he asked with the nerve to act offended.
"That was a terrible pun, dude," Kyle said, but he was grinning a little bit. Kenny shrugged and had to quickly dodge Cocoa's wandering nose; she tried multiple times to actually eat the hay before they made it to the top. Then he started his 'follow the carrot' technique again, and Cocoa lumbered along willingly.
"Shit," Craig cursed, "We left our plywood ramp down at the truck. We have to have that in order to get her up these last few stairs to the roof..."
Stan said, "Don't worry, I got it," and dashed over to the stairs before anyone else had the chance to suggest otherwise. He needed a minute to himself anyway.
In fact, he barely paid any attention to what he was doing as he descended the stairs and stumbled back outside to obtain the large piece of plywood. What was he supposed to do about this prank though? His heart and his gut were both telling him to demand a halt to it immediately so that Cocoa wouldn't end up getting spooked or injured. But the rest of the guys – maybe even Kyle too? – all seemed to want to execute the prank no matter the consequences.
He knew he must have wasted too much time spacing out near the truck because Kyle eventually showed up to check on him.
– Halftime –
"Dude...dude! Snap out of it, Stan! What's wrong with you?"
Stan's heart was pounding so loud in his ears he almost couldn't hear Kyle fiercely whispering to him. But it was at this pivotal moment that Stan realized what he was going to do. In a way, he'd known all along what he would do when the time came – find a way to sabotage Craig's precious prank and save the cow from getting hurt.
"Nothing, Kyle. Uhh, can you help me with this? It's heavier than I thought..." Stan motioned towards the plywood ramp.
Judging by his expression, Kyle did not appear to accept 'nothing' as a valid answer to his question, but he didn't push Stan any further on the matter either. Together, they hoisted the plywood over their heads and made their way back upstairs.
They were greeted with Kenny's sheepish grin and Craig looking quite peeved, arms crossed over his chest. Token was still filming away, even laughing a bit, no doubt because of what had just transpired. "What can I say? She really wanted that hay, man," Kenny joked.
Stan and Kyle positioned the ramp onto the stairs while Kenny and Craig went back to their original method of pushing and prodding Cocoa to go where they wanted her to. Once they were busy with the cow and Token was filming away, Stan pulled Kyle off to the side for a second. A new look of purpose shone through in his expression.
"Kyle," he whispered, "I need to ask you to bail." He was dead serious about this.
Kyle's eyes widened. "Really? I mean, I know I'm not doing much good as it is, but I—"
"I'll be right behind you, okay? I just have to convince Craig and Kenny to get the cow back onto the elevator so we can all get out of this before anything seriously bad happens."
"But what if you can't convince them? You tried once already when we first planned all this out, remember?"
"Yeah, I know. But just look at them!" Stan gestured to Kenny putting his full weight against Cocoa's ass and Craig with his arms around her neck trying to pull her up the ramp. She wasn't budging an inch, though. And their friends looked ridiculous. "This isn't going to work, just like I tried to tell them all along. Go get the truck ready to load the cow up again. I swear we'll all be right down in just a bit."
Kyle stared at Stan, weighing his own options just as Stan had on this very same subject mere moments ago. If he helped Stan, he risked making enemies out of Craig, Kenny, and Token. But the bright side of helping Stan out was that they might all still get out of this quietly, which meant a shiny, spotless record for Kyle. And it was Stan, his best friend since forever. There really wasn't any question as to what Kyle would do.
"Will you come with me to the dance if I do?" Kyle finally asked, his voice low and just as serious as Stan's.
"What?! Dude, I've told you a hundred times that—"
"Then I guess I'm helping them."
Okay, so maybe there was a bit of a question as to what Kyle would do...
Stunned from shock, Stan watched as his best friend marched confidently over to the cow and started helping Kenny push. He supposed their super best friendship pact only held true if they were both getting something out of it... As much as he didn't want to, Stan pulled Kyle away again by his jacket sleeve, back to the secluded stairwell once more. "All right," he hissed, "I'll go to the damn dance, okay? Now hurry up, we don't have much time!"
Stan pulling Kyle off to one side had caught Kenny's attention, though not for long since he was the one doing the brunt of the work getting the cow up the ramp. He didn't say anything about it, keeping his thoughts to himself as he went back to pushing.
Stan actually went over to help Kenny as a distraction from the fact that Kyle was now making his way downstairs yet again. Token appeared to be focusing his filming on Craig. Good, Stan thought, maybe he didn't notice Kyle leaving. Maybe I can actually pull this off...
– Third Quarter –
After another half an hour of pushing and pulling, grunting and sweating and sighing in frustration, Craig heard Stan finally speak up. He'd been expecting him to a long time ago. "Guys, this isn't working. We need to get this cow back where she belongs before we hurt her."
"Marsh, I swear to God I almost didn't let you in on this operation." Craig stepped away from his mooing movie star for a moment, wiping his forehead off with the sleeve of his hoodie. "I figured you'd pussy out on us from the start. Are you really gonna prove me right, right now, after we've already come this far?"
"Shut the hell up, Craig, I'm not proving anything except what a horrible person you are for trying to do this in the first place! Look at her – she's clearly uncomfortable, but you just won't stop. You're obsessed with this prank, and you shouldn't be. It's not even that great of one to begin with."
"Hah! Not that great?! It's fucking genius, dipshit. The fact that a cow is our mascot is just the icing on the cake here. See it's— Ugh, no. Never mind. You wouldn't know a good prank if one smacked you in the face."
Kenny stepped back from the cow as well, motioning for Token to stop filming. Token didn't, so Kenny sighed and said, "Guys, we can't be fighting about this right now. It's too late to go back." He gave Stan a disappointed face. "I really thought you were in, dude..?" Craig rolled his eyes. How 'touching'; they were having a 'moment.'
"I don't care if he's in or out now – Kenny's right regardless. It has to be done." Craig threw his hands up for emphasis and spoke directly to Stan, "We're right here at the roof, Marsh! Get a grip on your pussy ass feelings and help us push already." Then he went back to doing just that, and Token trained the camera on him yet again. Morning was fast approaching; it had to already be three or four a.m. If they wasted much more time jabbering and bickering, they wouldn't be able to get the cow up in time.
As he shifted positions to help push this time, Craig noticed something strange. "Where the hell is Broflovski?" he mumbled.
And just as soon as the words left his lips, Stan got a text message, his ringtone sounding too-loud in the otherwise silent room. Craig narrowed his eyes in Stan's direction, immediately sensing that that text had everything to do with the person he had just mentioned and his supposed whereabouts. Stan stared at Craig in confusion, but Craig kept staring sternly right back, not swayed in the slightest. That fucker couldn't fool him.
"Read it." Craig demanded.
Stan looked like he was going to argue, but his curiosity must have gotten the better of him because he pulled out his phone anyway to see what the message said. The expression on Stan's face as he read it made Craig's stomach drop down to his feet. "What is—" Craig started to say, but Stan interrupted him.
"Shit. We have to leave. Now."
Kenny chimed in, "Nah, dude, calm down. We still got this."
But Stan insisted, "No, Kenny, I'm fucking serious! We have to get the hell out of here right now!"
"Why?" Craig asked softly.
Stan didn't have the chance to answer. All three of them could hear the distant wail of a police siren approaching the school.
No one said anything. There was a single beat of silence and stillness save for the siren, but then all four of them hastily made a mad dash for the stairs, leaving the cow just standing there at the base of the ramp on the top floor. Fuck it, though. Things were suddenly beyond any of their control.
Stan was in the lead for a while, with Kenny right behind him, and Token and Craig side-by-side at the rear. They could see the flashing blue lights coming around a corner as they burst out the main doors and scrambled for Kenny's truck, which was still parked out front – and running, too, just like Stan had asked of Kyle. No one hesitated about getting in. They did so like their lives depended on it. Kenny also didn't hesitate about speeding off like the redneck motherfucker he was. The pickup's tires squealed against the blacktop, but they carried the boys safely forward through the night, away from those terrifying blue lights.
No one asked Kenny where he was going. No one said a word for the entire drive, although Craig was positive there were many questions going through everyone's minds. He was saving his own for the fallout –that drawn-out, tense moment when all of them could finally breathe normally and think coherently again. What a fucking mess. Craig's perfect prank had somehow escalated into the ultimate disaster. A total fucking mess. And how?
Kenny slowed the truck as he pulled into Token's driveway. South Park was just as lifeless and silent as it was on any other weekday morning. Nothing stirred while the four of them climbed out of the truck; it was still too early. Token dragged his feet as he led the way up to the front door and nervously let everyone inside. He was clutching his digital camera tightly against his chest like a shield.
They gathered in the living room at first, but Craig couldn't stand still. He paced back and forth restlessly until he finally couldn't take the awkward silence any longer and excused himself from the room, storming through the halls of Token's house.
Stan followed him all the way to the room that led out onto the back patio. Craig was in no mood to talk right now because he was angry at the world, but that asshole of a quarterback apparently didn't mind because he spoke up as soon as Craig was within earshot. Kenny and Token hesitantly filed into the room as well, looking like they'd both rather be back at the high school with the police than anywhere near the argument that was about to happen.
"Craig, let's... Let's just talk this out, dude."
Snide, soft laughter cut out the last part of Stan's sentence. "Funny. I thought we already talked it out. Two nights ago, remember? You said you were in."
Stan kept his distance from Craig for the moment and instead circled around the room, around Craig. "You knew I had my doubts about this plan from the start though," Stan said. Craig stood motionless at the center of the room like a bomb just waiting to go off.
"And against my better judgment, I let you tag along. Do you happen to know where Kyle ran off to? I have this nagging suspicion that you do."
Stan stopped walking and stood a few feet from Craig's right shoulder. "I told him to bail," he said, his voice barely above a whisper. He held Craig's gaze, though.
"I fucking knew it!" Craig said, rounding on him immediately. "I knew that asshole would rat us out! He can't resist tattling. Hell, I knew you would too."
"Dude, fuck off!! I just told him to go wait by the truck until I could convince you guys to quit while we were still ahead! I never told him to call the goddamn authorities!"
"Where the hell is he now then?"
"I don't fucking know! The only thing the text said was to 'abort the mission'. Jesus..."
So. Fucking. Typical. The super-best-fucks, primed and ready to "save the day" like they always do. Their bro behavior only served as more fuel for Craig's fire. He was yelling at this point, and he didn't give two shits if he woke up Token's parents or not. He didn't care if he woke up the whole damn neighborhood! "Then he obviously called the cops and is probably back there ratting us all out at this very moment, because that's what he does. Good going, Marsh. Good fucking going! You and Broflovski successfully fucked over the greatest senior prank in South Park history!!"
– Final Inning –
"It was a stupid idea!" Stan shouted, "From the very beginning, it was always a stupid idea, but you wouldn't listen to me!" His posture stiffened, as though he was trying to hold back from doing what he really wanted to – which was obviously punch Craig square in the face.
Craig stiffened as well, but he did a noticeably worse job of keeping himself in check by taking three long strides toward Stan, fist already gripped in violent determination. "No, Marsh. It was a fantastic idea that only failed because your little butt buddy snitched us out. We're all going to get expelled now because of him, and because of you!"
"How is any of this my fault?!"
"If you'd just had a little faith in what we were doing—"
"That cow was going to get hurt because of what we were doing!"
Craig snorted dismissively. "Oh, yeah – right. The cow. Always worried about the goddamn animals, huh, Marsh?"
By this point both boys were nearly face to face and clearly poised for a fight. Kenny laughed light-heartedly in an attempt to curb his friends' animosity, but it didn't appear to do much good. "C'mon guys, nothing's happened yet. There's no need for any fighting. Just...chill out, yeah?"
"I agree," said Token, making his way over to Craig where he placed a caring hand onto the other boy's shoulder, "I could just as easily take the blame for allowing Stan and Kyle to come along in the first place; you did ask my opinion, Craig, so I might have swayed your decision. Fighting at this point is clearly detrimental. We still have a chance to make this right—"
But Craig shirked away from Token. "NO! Are you fucking kidding me? We're completely screwed! If we don't get thrown in jail or sued for property theft we're at least getting expelled, and that means we won't graduate, and that means I have to spend the rest of my fucking life in this god forsaken place!"
"I don't think I've ever seen you get this pissed off before, dude," Kenny said, talking to Craig but stepping up towards Stan because the football captain still didn't appear to be backing down or moving away. The last thing they needed was a brawl right now.
"Me either," Stan mumbled, glancing at Kenny but keeping his main focus trained on Craig. "Usually you're so indifferent, Tucker. Why the fuck do you care if you get an education or not? It's not like you were going to college anyway. Your grades are shit!"
Token muttered, "Shut the fuck up, dude, you're not helping!" He had to quickly grip Craig's arm in order to keep him from physically attacking Stan. Craig still viciously tried to break free, too, even after Token's messy restraint.
"You don't fucking know me, Marsh!" he hissed, "Get over here and say that to my face!"
"Oh, I really don't think you want to go there, Tucker. Your face might not like my fist too well."
Just as things were starting to get out of hand – Kenny had had to restrain Stan as well and nearly got thrown down in the process – a knocking at Token's back door alerted everyone to Kyle's unexpected presence. The tense, silent mood from earlier came back with a vengeance. No one moved or made so much as a peep as the redhead gently pushed one sliding glass door open, and then turned around to motion for whoever he had with him to follow him inside. Not a moment later, a police officer followed Kyle into the house.
But not just any police officer; it was Officer Barbrady.
– Touchdown? –
Stan Marsh still hated drama. He pretty much hated Craig Tucker, too, by this point. But all-in-all, the senior prank event turned out so much better than he ever would have expected.
Officer Barbrady was luckily the only police officer Kyle wound up speaking to that night. Stan's sharp friend had somehow managed to convince the officer to actually help with the prank instead of hinder it, like his job title said he was supposed to. Token, Craig, and Kenny were all three driven back to the school in a cop cab, where they were just able to finish filming the cow on the roof before students began arriving for school.
Stan and Kyle had caught the bus, in spite of how tired they were, but it was very much worth it. They both laughed upon seeing everyone watch in stunned fascination as Barbrady carefully helped escort the cow back off the roof, down the ramp, over to the elevator, and across the handicap walkway out front. He told the main boys he would take care of getting the cow back where she belonged, and also answer any questions Farmer Bob might have about why his cow had been missing. "You guys really have nothing to worry about. Promise." (He even winked when he said it...) Kenny later told Stan that Craig had literally stood there whispering his thanks to Cthulhu and whatever other gods were listening because of how relieved he was in that moment. Their teachers and the principal were all standing around scrutinizing the entire scene as it played out, shaking their heads in disbelief.
Naturally Craig, Token, and Kenny were the prime highlight of homecoming gossip that day. The news of what had happened spread like wildfire, and so did the rumor that Craig and Token would explain everything at the homecoming dance later that night after the football game.
Stan skipped the pregame practice in favor of a much-needed nap, but he brought his A game to the field and totally dominated the North Park Bears, 49-14. He also won homecoming king. (Big shocker, there.) One quick shower later and the quarterback had on his best blue button-up with some black slacks and a black tie for the stupid dance he actually wasn't dreading all that much after all. Not only did he want to keep his promise to Kyle for aiding them all in getting out of that disaster, but he was also wondering what the other guys had planned for tonight.
"Hey, dude," Stan said cheerfully as he finally caught up with Kyle, who was wearing a classy looking white button-up, green tie, and pressed khakis. His friend gave him a genuine smile in return, showing off dimples that were usually too small to see.
"Hi Stan. Great game, man. You kicked ass."
"Thanks. It was probably just luck, though. I was pretty damn tired, as you well know." He laughed softly and placed his hand on Kyle's shoulder, giving it a firm grip to reaffirm his jubilant mood. They stood there beaming at each other for another minute or two before Stan finally asked, "So do you have any idea what Craig is up to?"
"I have a strong hunch," Kyle replied, a knowing look in his green eyes. He tugged on Stan's shirt sleeve and led the way into the gymnasium where the dance was being held.
Kenny noticed them first and meandered his way through the crowd, strutting his finest in the only black suit he owned – a hand-me-down from his older brother which was a size too big. Kenny wore it nicely, though, in spite of its flaws. "Heeeeeyyyy, what's up, guys? You ready for the show?"
"Knew it," Kyle smirked. "In my head I totally called that." Kenny chuckled and pointed to the projection screen set up in front of a large, open section of bleachers. Many of their fellow seniors had already gathered there, interested in what would be shown.
"It's all set up and ready for the feature presentation," Kenny said.
"Token's video?" Stan asked, still smiling. He couldn't help but smile; this was really all too good to be true.
"Hell yeah, dude! He skipped the football game and spent the entire evening getting the footage ready for tonight. Just wait 'til you see it. You're gonna laugh your balls off!"
And while Stan didn't quite laugh his balls off, he certainly laughed until his stomach hurt, along with everyone else in the gymnasium – including their faculty chaperones. Not an empty seat was left in those bleachers when Token's video started. The footage of the four of them attempting to move the cow so many times looked hilarious in the aftermath of having actually done it. And the scene with Officer Barbrady calmly talking – yes talking – Cocoa right back out of the building was priceless! Students and teachers alike were still rolling with laughter long after the credits had come to an end.
And while Stan still hated being involved in drama, he couldn't deny that Craig's prank was exactly what their graduating class had needed most of all: something to spice up an otherwise boring senior year.
If you enjoyed this story, remember to check out the original artwork that inspired it!