Kyle Broflovski calling him at two in the morning was a common occurrence. In fact, Stan usually expected his best friend to talk to him at least twenty minutes before they fell asleep. And sometimes he was the one to call. It was a system they had since they were ten years old and it just worked for them.
In fact, Stan was fairly certain there was only about a two hour gap in time where neither of them spoke to each other for the entire night. And if they could avoid that at all possible then they would.
But Kyle calling at two in the morning crying was highly unusual. In fact, Stan wasn't quite sure what to say or do when he answered the phone. Sniffles and sobs greeted him, and his vocal chords just slammed shut in response.
He was never the kind of person for good comfort, although he sought it from others quite often. He was more of a â€˜pat your shoulder and say "there, there" in hopes that they would feel better' kind of comforter. Stan tried to just avoid emotions from other people as much as he could. Because he didn't have much of a handle on his own so how could he deal with anyone else's? It wasn't fair. He was the worst kind of comfort.
But he told Kyle to come over anyway. Why? He wasn't quite sure. Maybe to just get him out. Sometimes his mother drove him over the edge. Sometimes his homework stressed him out. Stan had been given no explanation to the reason for his tears. But he would try his best to be the reason they stopped.
Kyle's quiet whimper of, "okay" wasn't like him at all. He never sounded so defeated, so young. It worried Stan, but he couldn't let his own anxiety get the best of him. Not when Kyle needed his help; this couldn't turn into a â€˜let's help Stan with his bullshit emotions once again'. Nah, this wasn't like Kyle. There was something terribly wrong; and he was going to do everything in his power to fix it.
He watched as Kyle walked across the street, arms wrapped around himself, and a grimace pulled at his lips. Stan exited his room and tip-toed down the stairs, avoiding the areas he knew would creak and wake his parents.
The fifteen year old opened the door and Kyle immediately burrowed his head in the crook of his shoulder. Thankfully he had done so, otherwise his wails would have been heard by the other inhabitants of the house.
Stan wrapped his arms around his best friend and gently rubbed his back, unsure of what else to do. He felt Kyle's fingers clutch at his shirt and he tried his best to ignore the sobs that seemed to burn against him. What else was he supposed to do?
"Hey," he whispered finally, his arms still around Kyle, "why don't we just go to my room?"
Kyle nodded and pulled away from him. He rubbed his eyes violently and took a hitched, deep breath before leading the way up the stairs. Stan could see his shoulders shaking and could hear the quiet whimpers and gasps as he tried to compose himself.
Except he had no reason to do so. Stan didn't want him to stop crying; whatever happened he needed to just let it out. There was no sense in keeping it in like Kyle usually did. In fact, usually it was Stan crying to Kyle about something that he could easily just figure out himself. Most of the time it was about his own uncontrollable emotions and how he could just never get a grip.
But Kyle wasn't the type to show much emotion. So seeing him now, a complete wreck on his bed, was slightly frightening. To him, Kyle was always a rock. A ground. And now here he was, helter skelter, breaking down right before him. And he didn't know how to react.
Kyle had curled his legs to his chest and was hugging himself as he rocked back and forth. His kneecaps muffled his weeping, and his torso seemed to convulse with his body-wracking sobs. Whatever happened, whatever caused him to break, was something Stan wasn't sure he would be strong enough to know and help him with.
Because Kyle was always cool and composed. He wasn't stoic and devoid of emotion yet he kept himself in check. He was strictly a logical thinker. Emotions never got the best of him. Except now, apparently.
So Stan waited and sat before him, a hand on his shoulder yet he was unsure of what else he should do right now. Comfort wasn't in his nature, though for as many times as he was comforted he should know the whole routine by now.
Kyle just knew what to say and do to make him feel better. It was as if he had this â€˜what to say to Stan to get him to laugh' script. And it helped, every damn time. But right now his own voice was restricted. He couldn't even bring himself to speak.
God, he was a terrible friend.
"Let me get you some water," he finally mumbled. Kyle nodded and let out a quiet whimper as he stared at the wall, eyes full to the brim with tears he was trying so hard to keep back. They rolled down his cheeks slowly, and he wiped them away.
"Th-thanks," was the redhead's quiet reply.
Stan knew firsthand that after crying that much Kyle would end up with a splitting headache. So water could help that. He returned with Kyle's favorite cup at his house; a plastic cup with the image of Thor on it.
The raven handed it to his best friend, who took it and quickly gulped down the water. His fingernails dug into the plastic now, and he lowered his head as he began to rock once more.
"Do you... do you want to talk about it?" Stan asked nervously.
Sometimes he didn't want to talk about what was going through his head. Mostly because he didn't want to alarm anyone, especially Kyle. But sometimes he just wanted to work it out himself. He was capable of doing so, at least sometimes, and he didn't to feel like a burden to Kyle.
But the redhead gave a slow nod as he balled his fists and rubbed at his eyes.
"I-I got in a fight with my parents."
Stan's eyes widened.
So, this was something more serious than he imagined. Kyle constantly argued with his mom or his dad, mostly because they didn't understand his progressive way of thinking, although his mom was sure a supporter of a whole lot of things that he agreed with. It was hypocritical to say the least.
And Stan himself had figured he was just stressed with his homework. But now there was something else.
"My mom..." he trailed off and shook his head, "I-I'm sorry," he wiped his eyes and took a deep breath once again. Stan took his hand and smiled weakly at his dear friend, who gripped his hand tight and sighed heavily.
It was the little things that counted. That single action was enough to give Kyle the strength to continue.
"My mom read my journal."
Stan burst out laughing.
Kyle's eyes darkened and he retracted away from Stan. The cold recoil shocked the raven, whose hand was now empty. He hadn't expected Kyle to be so upset with him now.
"It's not... it's not funny, Stan!"
"Well... dude, you have a journal." Kyle's hazel eyes glowered at him and he bit his lip nervously. "Sorry...I just. Dude, you have a journal."
"At least I'm not the one who writes poetry, you dick."
"They're songs, Kyle," he defended, causing the redhead to snort.
"Those aren't songs," Kyle quipped, laughing through his tears, "those are borderline emo whinings."
Stan scoffed and laughed a little as well; if he could get Kyle to smile and laugh then at least he was doing something right. So far so good.
"How else would I get out what I need to say?" he finally asked, going back to the topic of his journal.
The raven raised his hand slowly; did Kyle not trust him to, at the very least, listen to what he had to say? Was he actually incapable of helping his best friend? That shouldn't be the case. He should have been the first one he went to.
The redhead smiled sadly and let out a shaky sigh as he looked at Stan.
"It's not like... easy stuff, Stan. It's not equations I don't understand or cynical views of the world. It's... it's real stuff, stuff that you can't just say out loud like it's nothing. Even to your best friend?"
"Why not?" Stan barked in defense.
"Let me get there..." was the response he received. "I found out my mom read my journal. And it wasn't just the first page from a year ago from when we first got high with Kenny." Stan's face fell, "yeah... you're probably going to get a talking to in the morning," the older of the two groaned and lay back on his bed. Kyle leaned against the wall and wrapped his arms around himself again.
He sniffled and lowered his head, then gave a nod.
"But she read more and... and then she found out that I was questioning myself and..."
"Like what? If you want to be a lawyer or a doctor?" Stan teased, hoping Kyle would find it funny. He wore a stern expression on his face however; the joke was not received well, apparently. "Sorry."
"More like if I don't want to have sex with anyone or if I'm gay."
Stan righted himself instantly and stared with wide eyes at Kyle.
This was definitely something they never talked about before.
In fact, the only talk of sexual stuff was from Kenny, who was quite open about his preferences and endeavors. It wasn't reassuring at all. He just always figured Kyle was straight but not interested in anyone in their school.
It was kind of a silent rule he and Kyle had: Don't talk about it.
But now here they were; and Stan couldn't bring himself to say anything. He just stared at his friend in awe and slight shock. He had said it so calmly. As if he was so sure of himself.
"A-and..." Stan trailed off, biting his lip, "have you decided?" Kyle shook his head.
"That's not the point. The point is, my parents have been fighting for hours about me, and finally we had a family meeting, and they're real tolerant about homosexuality, you know. Allies and supportive of all kinds of love. Except when it's their son. Because my happiness isn't as important as other peoples' because they aren't Jewish. They're not a fucking Broflovski."
Stan grimaced and heard Kyle's voice break again. His whimper was muffled and, as he looked back at the redhead, he saw tears rolling down his cheeks. Tiny waterfalls of confusion that Stan was sure he had been wading in for years. They both had.
"Well, when I ended up coming out," Stan continued, "my dad he asked if I wanted to be a pitcher or a catcher..." he trailed off and laughed nervously, "so... I mean, he didn't really care. I-I... I don't know why I said that." Stan stiffened as he heard the barking laugh from Kyle. It wasn't his usual warm laugh. It was almost piercing; it hurt.
But then he figured that was a lot like Kyle right now.
Everyone had been wrapped up with the idea that something was wrong with him for so long now, that they needed to fix him before he got worse. That there was no other concern but him and him getting better. And while everyone was fixated on his need for healing, everyone else was forgotten. Left to deal with their own emotions and problems because Stan wasn't capable of figuring himself out. Or so they thought.
So Kyle was going through an identity crisis. His own best friend, who he knew everything about- or so he thought. His own best friend was too afraid to tell him this because he didn't know how he would react. That's not friendship. That's walking on eggshells. That's fear.
And what was everyone else dealing with? What were Kenny and Wendy going through? He was so wrapped up with himself that he was clueless as to what was going on in his friends' lives.
That was so wrong of him.
Kyle wrote in a fucking journal over talking to him.
A journal, for Christ's sake.
He was that journal. Or, he should have been. After all, his thoughts were inscribed in Kyle's brain by now. It should be the same for him. Stan should be there for him. He should be the pad and paper for his words to finally be heard.
"What if my parents don't accept me, Stan?"
Stan looked at Kyle, looking so young and small. The dim glow from the moon illuminated his skin slightly, letting him see the wet tear stains on his cheeks. His lower lip quivered slightly, and he rubbed at his eyes once more.
"They will, you're their son."
"If I'm gay that doesn't matter, it's against-"
"You know... they accept other people. They're allies, despite the religion that they have. There's got to be like... a shit ton of gay Jewish people. You're not the only one. Or... or asexual, whatever you are. Your parents support them. It would be extremely hypocritical of them to not support you." Kyle shrugged. His arms tightened around himself and he stared out the window, eyes forlorn as his gaze settled on his house.
"Me being gay is not in their vision of my future, Stan, and they don't want that vision to change. I... I'm so scared to go home. To see my mom. What if she hates me?"
"She won't, how could she? You're her son... parents don't..." Stan trailed off; that wasn't necessarily true. Parents kicked out and disowned their children all the time for identifying as a member of the LGBT community, among a multitude of other reasons. But he honestly couldn't see Sheila Broflovski abandoning her son simply because he was gay. Or Gerald. They were too kind and open.
He just had to reassure Kyle somehow. His efforts were feeble; pitiful. Stan didn't understand how comforting someone could be this difficult; and if it was, why did people go through it so often for him? It wasn't fair.
"Stan, I don't even know who I am..." Kyle moaned woefully into his hands.
The raven scooted closer to Kyle and nudged his shoulder. The redhead looked up and caught his eye, unable to break the locked gaze they had on one another.
"I do," Stan responded coolly; he was sure of this. For the first time he felt he could make an impact on Kyle; actually help him instead of flounder in his poor excuse of attempts to stop his tears. "You're Kyle Broflovski."
The younger teen scoffed and pulled away from Stan, who tugged his sleeve and held his wrist. Kyle flickered his eyes up once again; he seemed to have frozen as he waited for Stan to continue speaking; did he even want to hear him?
"You're my best friend... and the smartest kid in class. You are the funniest person I know, and I can't imagine going through a single hour without you. You know, I need you. You're my ground. And..." Stan trailed off; his cheeks flushed slightly as he gazed with gentle eyes at his best friend. "Your parents see this in you. We all do. No matter who you are, no matter who you will ever be, your mom and dad aren't going to kick you out or hate you. And I won't either. I'm going to help you the best I can, and show you that it's okay to just... to be you. Because who you are is really fucking awesome."
The redhead just stared at him, hazel eyes flickering with emotion and filled to the brim with tears he dared not to fall. Stan scooted even closer to him and pulled his lips up into a small grin, then nudged Kyle, who rolled his eyes.
"Thanks, Stan," he mumbled, a small smile stretching on his lips, "I'm just... I'm scared."
"Me too." Kyle took his hand in his.
They both stared out the window, up at the night sky; clouds hid the stars, leaving them gazing into a black abyss. The silence was deafening, and Stan's words still hovered in the room. Kyle's admission lay heavy in the midst; no reaction was necessary. No words were.
Because it just seemed like something they each already knew about each other. No words needed to be said to explain themselves. Just one look, one motion, and everything was explained. They got each other that way; and holding hands was as normal for them as farting and blaming the other.
It seemed inevitable; after all they've been hearing from teachers, classmates, and their own families that people would think they were boyfriends. Being gay, or bi, was expected. Except now that they actually identified that way; what would it mean? Would people be afraid to say anything? Would people insinuate that they made each other that way?
Maybe they had. Maybe their bond had caused them to become attracted to the same sex. Maybe their bond wouldn't allow anyone to compare.
"When did you know?" Kyle finally asked, breaking the silence. Their thoughts seemed to shatter the silence, causing the peace to collide at the sound of his voice.
"When I was twelve... I started to realize I was different." Kyle nodded.
Stan smiled a little and watched his best friend wipe his eyes once more. This conversation should have been difficult. They should be teetering on the edge of awkward before falling into the despairing wreck of coming out moments.
But this was them.
And they weren't uncomfortable with each other.
And finally, finally they could talk about it with someone.
Finally someone understood.
The raven laughed; of course Kyle would understand. He always did. How could he expect him not to? Of course, the one he would be telling this to would be his super best friend of thirteen years.
"How do you know you're gay?" Stan asked him, Kyle shrugged and wrapped his arms around himself.
"The thought of sex doesn't repulse me but doing it with a female does?" Stan chuckled and shrugged, "how do you know you're bi?"
"I don't, I'm just going with it for now. I could be gay. I don't really know. It's more... about closeness with me. I don't know, Wendy and I were really close, even now. I don't think it's about what their plumbing is like, so much as if I feel comfortable with them." Kyle nodded yet said nothing; what could he say?
"Ky?" Stan asked gingerly, the younger boy looked at him with an expression of curiosity on his face, "I'm proud of you. And no matter what, you should be proud of yourself."
As soon as he spoke he had arms wrapped around him, pulling him tight in a hug, and Stan smiled. He draped his arms over Kyle's shoulders and closed his eyes as he held his best friend close. It was comfort, trust, and understanding. It was them.
He tried his best to make Kyle happy; or at the very least to stop crying. And he had at least done the latter. And he felt good about it; knowing Kyle did trust him enough to talk about it when writing it on paper just wasn't enough.
Without saying a word, they had lay down in Stan's bed; and stared at each other. They didn't touch, just looked, and finally, unsure of what else to do, they burst out laughing. It was a given that Kyle would be staying the night; just so he would feel that comfort until he woke up and had to go back home. It was something neither of them really wanted to think about at the moment, so instead they lay laughing as they looked at each other.
And that wasn't near as bad.
But their laughter soon faded and both of them were left once more to just gaze at the other. A small smile rested on Kyle's face, and he finally yawned, before closing his eyes.
Kyle took his hand again.
"Thank you... for calming me down and helping me. I... I don't know what I'd do without you."
The raven just hummed at that, and closed his eyes.
He listened to Kyle's breathing, the silence wasn't so tense now. He felt comfortable and warm. It wasn't often he felt like this, especially at night, but leave it to Kyle to make everything alright.
But he helped him. Kyle trusted him enough to tell him his biggest secret, and despite everyone walking on eggshells around him... he had done some good. In fact, everything seemed okay. Kyle won't have to talk to his parents alone; Stan will be there.
Kyle didn't have to feel alone anymore... and neither did he.
They helped each other. And Kyle would continue to guide and support him, and in return he would do the same. They had each other; they always did.
It's all about feeling comfortable, Stan had said.
And right now he was more comfortable than he had ever been.
His eyes opened as shock settled into his system. He gazed at the auburn-haired boy as a chill settled in his spine. Kyle was sleeping now, breathing deep with his face burrowed into the pillow.
It was always Kyle.
It would always be them.
Kyle was gay.
Kyle was his comfort. And always would be.
Stan's eyes burned as he looked in horror at his best friend, before he squeezed his eyes shut. Tears fell from his eyes and he took a shaky breath as he realized just what this meant. He shook his head and lay down, hand over his mouth as he tried his hardest to not cry.
But why cry when they could be something beautiful?
Why cry when they already were?
The raven felt sick as he opened his eyes once more. Kyle's bleary eyes were focused on him; he woke him up. Stan's hand was pulled from his mouth and he locked his gaze on Kyle's; his hazel eyes glittered with something else as he lay Stan's hand on the bed.
A sob ripped from him and in an instant Kyle had his arms around him, comforting him, lulling him to sleep from the rhythmic beating of his heart against his ear. No words were spoken; silence was their lullaby.
What was to become of them, neither knew. Thoughts of tomorrow and the days to come were forgotten as they slept with their bodies tangled together in a mess of comfort and fear.
They were going to make it. They were going to be okay.
And if they faced the worst case scenario, at least they would have comfort in one another.
At least they would have each other.
If you enjoyed this story, remember to check out the original artwork that inspired it!