I know it's probably not what you had in mind, but I hope you like it!
"That stuff stinks." It was the first thought to cross Stan's mind - and his lips - as Kyle began blithely smearing it into Stan's dark hair.
"You've had to deal with Cartman's farts for years, dude. This is nothing."
Stan shuddered a little inside at that comparison but Kyle did have a point. Even with the totally weird odor of the stuff, it could never beat out the stench when Cartman really ripped one.
Speak of the devil...
"'ey!" That was distinctly Cartman's voice, the sound of a hand slapping down on the wooden table. Stan didn't need to be facing to see what was happening. His mind's eye provided the image well enough, Wendy surging to her feet.
"What do you want, Eric?" Her voice rose, the tone of it standing out above the smaller murmurs from around the gym. Stan could picture the look on her face. He wouldn't have wanted to see it aimed at himself.
"What's this?" Cartman demanded, as if the banner above the table didn't make it obvious enough.
Memories of Wendy's speech about inclusion and standards of beauty popped into Stan's mind though admittedly some of it had flown right over his head when she'd been explaining it. He still wasn't sure what this all was supposed to accomplish, exactly.
"Ow!" Stan grimaced a little, losing track of the argument going on behind him as Kyle's fingers twisted another metal rod into his hair. "I'm still not sure why I let you talk me into this." The smell was pricking at Stan's nostrils, and he could only hope that Kyle was being careful enough to not get this all over his shirt. He could still hear the sound of bickering behind him but it was somewhat muted in his water-and-smelly-gunk-clogged ears.
If it was sympathy he was hoping for, he was to be disappointed. "Because you're my best friend, Stan, and you want to show solidarity." Stan wasn't sure how Kyle could utter those words with such a straight face when he knew the redhead had to be enjoying this. "And it was your idea, anyway."
"That's right. Point out the flaw in my argument. I thought we were friends." Stan turned his head just enough that he could see Kyle behind him and was rewarded with another tug at his hair to make him face forward again. His attempt had afforded him just enough of a glimpse at Kyle for him to know that his best friend was enjoying this far too much. Asshole.
"Oh we are." Kyle's voice was smooth and clipped in that way he used when he knew he was right. It was a lot more aggravating when it was aimed at him, whodathunkit.
Still, Kyle did have a point, as much as he hated to admit it. He had asked for this. ...kind of...
"So, this curls thing-" Stan drew the words out, trying his best not to sound like he was about to ask Kyle something in particular about the subject at hand. He'd waited until Kyle was preoccupied before bringing it up - namely when the two of them were sitting playing video games together. His own score was suffering but it wouldn't be as bad as dealing with the scathing looks he was bound to get otherwise.
"No." Kyle kept his word short, to the point, much like the way his character was currently punching Stan's fighter in the nads.
"But Kyle-" Block. Kick. Kick.
"No." Kyle's fingers were flying over the controls and the red on Stan's bar was mounting rapidly.
"But Wendy-" The protest was weak, even to his own ears, his fingers fumbling across the direction pad, leaving his fighter open.
The redhead's fingers mashed at the buttons, too fast to see. On the screen, his fighter did an uppercut that tore Stan's head off. "NO."
There was a beep from the TV screen, the announcement of "Victory" going unnoticed in all the rest of the fuss. Stan held his controller tight, looking at Kyle with brows furrowed and wondering why he'd agreed to ask Kyle in the first place... why he'd ever thought it would be a good idea.
I told her, he reminded himself, I told her he wouldn't want to help out.
This knowledge didn't make him feel any satisfaction. It just made him wish he'd said 'No' to Wendy the way Kyle just had to him. "Well... why not?" His voice was a little sullen, even to his own ears.
Kyle reached up, pinching at the bridge of his nose, letting out a breath in the way he did most frequently when in the company of what he termed Complete Idiots. It was a category that didn't usually include Stan. "Look. I"m not saying it's a bad idea..." his voice trailed off for a moment, lips curling a little. "Well, okay, I do think it's a bad idea. That's the big thing.
"I mean... What is the point of this? Are we saying people with curls are unattractive and need to be promoted? Some kind of pity thing? Or is Wendy trying to say that curls are really attractive? I mean does she have a curl fetish or somethi-" He shut up partway through that word, a hint of red creeping onto his cheeks, as if he was remembering something. He cleared his throat. "Bebe helped come up with this didn't she?"
"I wouldn't know." Stan lied through his teeth. But who could blame him, this was the most progress he'd made so far. "And wouldn't it be better if it was to promote the attractiveness of... curly haired people."
Narrowed hazel eyes were focused on him. "Either way, it's just... it's stupid Stan. And I hate going around with this-" he reached up with one hand, yanking the hat from his head. His jewfro immediately puffed out to fill three times the amount of space it had previously.
"It's not so bad." Stan wasn't even lying. Maybe Kyle didn't like it, but that mass of red curls had an odd allure. If he wasn't so certain he'd receive a punch to the gut for trying, he would have buried his hands in it and played with it. "I like it. It's cute. Like a cloud or a poodle." He got the feeling he should have shut up a few words earlier to avoid the much feared wrath-of-Jew, but to his surprise, the corners of Kyle's mouth twitched upward in a smile that seemed half amused and half exasperated.
"Sweet talking isn't going to help your cause."
Maybe. But Stan had sensed he finally had an in and he grinned a little at Kyle. "C'mon. It's just for a couple of hours. We can take shifts."
"... your hair's not curly, Stan."
"I can curl it." He gave a slight shrug. It wasn't like people didn't curl their hair all the time. And there was the - very remote - possibility that Kyle might forget about the offer if given other things to distract him.
That hope became more faint the moment Kyle's controller hit the floor, the Jewish teen somehow having cleared the slight distance between them. There was intrigue in his eyes. "You'd really curl your hair?" His gaze was almost predatory and Stan had to wonder for a few terrifying seconds if this was really the best idea.
That sharp animal glint in Kyle's eyes was more pronounced. "You'll let me help out, of course."
"O-of course." Stan had the sudden fear that he was talking himself right into a trap. For Wendy... You're not even going out, dumbass!
"And all I have to do is go man the booth with you for two hours?" This came out as a purr, a sound almost scarier than one of Kyle's growls.
"And no hat." At Stan's nod of assent, Kyle clarified. "Not for you either."
Oh dear lord... that sent up all the red flags, especially with Kyle's offer to 'help' him curl his hair. But he was already committed. "Yeah. No hats."
"Deal!" Kyle leaned back against the couch, a distinct aura of victory around him as he scooped up his controller. He tossed Stan's over and Stan caught it automatically. His brain was still attempting to process whatever it was that he'd agreed to, enough so that it took a smack to the back of his head with one of the couch cushions to get his attention. "C'mon. We've got two more rounds."
Another bang from behind him indicated that a chair had fallen over, but it was Kenny's voice that somehow came through loud and clear - maybe because the blonde wasn't wearing anything to muffle it, for once. "So wait... this isn't a kissing booth?"
There was a long moment of silence, punctuated by the wet squish of Kyle's hands moving through Stan's hair. Another rod was fastened in place and Stan could only hope it was the last because it felt like they'd been doing this for hours.
"You can turn your head now." Kyle's voice was pitched low, probably so they didn't draw attention to themselves. Stan had the sudden sinking feeling that it hadn't worked - perhaps because Kyle's voice was like a fatass magnet.
"What are you doing over here, Jew?" Cartman was distracted from whatever argument he was having with Wendy, homing in on a new target. On the plus side, it meant that Wendy wasn't going to have to beat Eric over the head with a chair in the final culmination of their disagreement. On the minus side... "What the fuck, Stan?" The shock was followed by a braying laugh. "Oh my god. Are you two playing hairdresser over here? That is so gay!"
Cartman was laughing so hard it was a surprise he wasn't shitting himself and Stan was doing his best turtle impression. Kyle was staring at Cartman steadily, his fingers still resting atop Stan's head.
"W-well Eric, isn't it okay to be gay?"
"Shut up, Butters!" The laughter stopped before it got to the painful wheezing state. "That's not what I meant!"
"Then what did you mean?" That was Nicole, and Stan was more than a little surprised that she was stepping in. He raised his head enough that he could look at her from the corner of her eye. She had her head cocked and her hands on her hips and despite the amount of bulk Cartman had on her, Stan wouldn't have wanted to be in his place. Maybe it was just because of a lingering crush on Kyle - and they were pretty good friends, so it could have been that too - but the calm of her voice was as fierce as Wendy's anger.
"What?" Cartman was clearly taken aback by this, especially as Wendy made her way around the table, planting herself next to Nichole.
"Yeah. What did you mean?"
There was something going on, some paradigm shift that Stan couldn't quite figure out, except that Bebe was rounding on Cartman from the other side with Annie hovering just behind her.
"Are you saying that being a hairdresser is bad?" Bebe raised one hand, letting her fingers run through the waves of her hair. No sane man would have dared answer 'yes' to that question.
"Are you saying being gay is bad?" Wendy took a step forward and Cartman took one back. Then another. He was slowly being herded toward the tables.
"What?" Eric had a note of unease to his voice. He must have known he was treading dangerous waters now. His head cranked around so he could look at the other boys. "You guys! Help me out here, you assholes!"
Kenny kept a wise distance, just watching with a faintly amused expression. Craig's answer was immediate and completely expected as he flipped Cartman the bird. Token's shoulders rose in a shrug, his expression wry. "Not disagreeing with my girlfriend. Sorry, Eric."
"Look." Nicole was the one who closed the gap, leaning in to look Cartman right in the eye. "Just because Kyle's not into you doesn't mean you get to harass him. He and Stan can be as gay as they want. It's not your business anymore."
The heat was rising on Stan's cheeks but Kyle seemed unaffected, even vaguely amused, as he watched the girls schooling Cartman on his manners.
"Leave them alone, Eric." Wendy's voice had a finality to it and Cartman caved.
"Whatever. I didn't want to be around a bunch of bitches and a Jew anyway." He growled, trying to appear more in-control of the situation than he was. He almost overturned the table in his haste to squeeze past the line of girls, earning a few snickers from the guys who'd been watching the entire time.
After Cartman had made his unceremonious exit, Wendy shook her head. "Did he just call us all bitches?"
Nicole's arm slid around her shoulder. "Don't sweat it. It's a badge of honour, girl."
Bebe grinned, holding out one hand for a playful fist bump. "No finer bitches in the world, am I right?"
Stan blinked a couple of times, looking up at Kyle. "So wait... if you're the Jew and Cartman didn't mention anyone else, does that make me a-"
"Not even close, Stan." Kyle smirked down at him.
"You're getting there!" One of the girls called to him in encouragement and Stan groaned.
He waited until they were all back around the table to look up at Kyle again, a somewhat dubious look on his face. His brows furrowed a little. "Hey Kyle?"
"Yeah, Stan?" Kyle's fingers were fiddling in his hair again, checking to see if there were any strands unaccounted for in the curling process.
"Do we seem... gay?"
Kyle's brows arched a little, the corner of his lip quirking again. "I'm not going to answer that question, Stan." He stepped back a little, wiping his hands off onto a towel. "So that's gotta sit for an hour or two."
"...what?" Stan wasn't sure he'd heard right.
"It's gotta sit for an hour or two. To set." Kyle repeated patiently.
"But the booth will be closed by then!"
"Yeah. we probably should have done this before coming here."
"It's nearly over. Stop wiggling." Kyle's bathroom was a lot cleaner than Stan's. It was an odd thing to notice.
"I'm not wiggling." Stan insisted. The goo in his hair was also on the back of his neck and he had the uncanny feeling that it was eating into his skin. He clenched his fists and breathed through his nose. "Look, I just want to get this over with, okay." He kept his voice remarkably steady, he thought.
Stan wished he could have had the same bravado when Kyle had him bent over the sink, tugging the pieces of rolled foil out of his hair. The stench was stronger now and his neck had a kink in it and - oh God, just be over already! There was a faint thump as each of the rods was tugged loose and tossed onto the counter. Stan pulled the collar of his damp shirt up to cover his nose.
"Don't be such a baby, Stan. It's almost done." Kyle sounded far too upbeat, especially after the events of earlier. It sounded like he was enjoying this. Stan could cheerfully have throttled him.
"I hate you so much."
Kyle's fingers hooked in the back of Stan's shirt and tugged him over to the tub. "Just be glad we didn't have to do this in the school bathroom like we initially planned." The only thing worse than this bizarre brand of torture would have been having other people see it too. So that was one thing to be grateful for.
Cold water hit the back of Stan's head and he realised he should have taken his shirt off. It was too late now, with Kyle's fingers worming expertly into his soaked and smelly locks and scrubbing away the goo.
It took maybe three or four minutes. It felt like an eternity.
Then the faucet creaked as Kyle turned it off and a towel was dropped onto his soaking head. Stan had no time to protest further as Kyle vigorously toweled off his hair. Stan's eyes had been shut so tight throughout this that everything was a bit blurry as he finally was able to open them up and see Kyle's grinning face only a few inches in front of him.
"I was wrong, Stan." Kyle did not seem in the least repentant about any of it. "You look pretty good with curls." He ushered Stan in front of the bathroom mirror, standing beside him with a smug twist to his lips as Stan surveyed himself.
He looked... weird. Maybe not bad, but definitely not anything like himself. "I think I'll leave the curly-haired look to you."
"After the perm wears off." Kyle tossed in, far too casual. Alarms went off in Stan's mind.
"Well, it lasts for months, usually."
Why had he not been informed of this?
Kyle had a shit-eating grin on his face and Stan found himself wondering again why he'd ever let himself be talked into this. By Wendy. By Kyle. He had a sudden uncanny suspicion that this had been the plan all along.
"I'm never asking you for a favour again!" He vowed, the words loud and ringing in the small space. "Never! This is the last time."
"Sure it is, Stan." Kyle smiled, not at all chastised.
"I mean it this time!"
"I know you do."
Stan wasn't so sure. Not about his own resolution or about Kyle's easy agreement. That would have to be seen later.
One thing was sure though. He was never getting another perm again.
If you enjoyed this story, remember to check out the original artwork that inspired it!