written by Labyrinth1n3 - illustrated by Nhaingen and Soltian
Chapter One: New Years Blowout
Kyle didn't expect this night to be as horrible as it was turning out to be. Not only did he hate the fact that his parents dragged him out here on a Saturday night, he specifically detested the Colorado Bar Association's Annual New Years Eve party with a passion that burned like a thousand suns. That was why, this year, he had a trick up his sleeve. This year, his parents' torturous party didn't seem so bad, and sitting amongst the crowd of geriatric egocentric assholes, his mouth twisted in a smirk as he leaned back in his seat to fish his cell phone out of his pocket.
Tilting his head up to make sure his parents were a good distance away from their marked table, Kyle breathed a sigh of relief before texting underneath the surface. /you're still coming over here right?/ Send. Kyle inhaled before sitting up straight again. Arms crossed over the tablecloth, he started tapping the fabric before noticing that he hadn't seen or heard from his brother ever since the dance music started up. Electric slide. Fun. Perhaps his mother had suckered Ike into dancing with one of the older ladies; he remembered the times when he was forced to make some grandmother's night by being their unfortunate dance partner. It was about time Ike paid his dues.
Yet before he even had the chance to investigate the dance floor for a possibly hilarious sight, his pocket started to vibrate. Eagerly getting up out of his seat, he made a bee line for the outside patio before bringing out his phone again. Checking the screen, Kyle gave an affirmative nod once he realized that it was indeed from the person who was supposed to throw a cog in tonight's boring festivities.
Cartman, of course. Throwing cogs into plans was his specialty, /I'm pulling up there as we speak, where the fuck should I park./
Now outside, Kyle glanced around the building to see if he could catch a glimpse of the fatass's car. There was no sign of it anywhere. Good.
/Far away. I don't want anyone seeing you or your car here./
A couple seconds later, with still no car, Kyle received another response. /Do they even know what it looks like?/
Kyle was not about to risk that, even if it meant he would have to wait longer for Cartman to haul his gargantuan ass up the slope to the lodge. /Like I'll take that chance.../ he replied, adjusting his tie as he took another deep breath. He didn't expect to feel so antsy about this whole thing, but then again this was Cartman. If Kyle's mother caught sight of him here she's have both of their heads on a fucking platter and serve them as hor'oderves tonight, so he was pretty sure his apprehension was well founded.
The next text took even less time. Kyle laughed at the screen which read, /Fuck you! That means I have to walk a fucking mile. You come down here Jewface if you're so fucking paranoid/.
At that comment, Kyle surveyed the grounds below to see if he could see any movement whatsoever. If Cartman said "down here" then he was already on his way, which meant Kyle needed to intercept him before anyone else did. Making his way down the patio stairs, Kyle quickly punched his response as he reached the landing, /I'll meet you outside okay? Why don't you bitch more./ He chortled, knowing that comment would set Cartman off.
Approaching the front of the building, Kyle received one more text as he rolled his eyes and, amused, brought his phone up to his face. /I swear to god Kyle if you don't put out tonight I'm going t-
His mother's voice immediately broke his train of thought, and not even finishing the text he shoved his phone back in his pocket to quickly whip his head around.
"Mom? What are you doing out here?" He then realized she could very well ask him the same question, so with a new resolve he met up with her while asking in a concerned voice, "You haven't seen Ike around, have you?"
"What do you think I'm out here for? One second he's chatting it up with the Madison's girl, and the next he's gone!" Sheila threw up her arms in aggravation, moving them down on her hips while her impatient foot tapping caused little dust clouds to emerge from the ground. " I swear to god, I already caught him texting TWICE tonight instead of being social like he promised me he'd be. One night. One night I ask him to leave his electronics at home, and of course he can't even do that for me. His mother of all people, where does he even learn this behavior?"
"I have no idea." Kyle replied quickly, his eyes twitching as he checked for any signs of Cartman. "But if I know Ike, he probably found the best hiding place. Regardless, I know he'll want to be well stocked on sweets if he's trying to hide away for the night. Why don't you check the dessert table and I'll try to give him a call?"
Sheila apparently thought this was a good enough suggestion, so with a little smirk she relaxed a bit before humming in agreement. "Good call. If the brownies are still there I know I haven't caught him yet. Bring him back in if he runs outside, and I don't want you out here for very long either! The Kelly's girl has been asking about you all night!" She informed, throwing him a hinting look before stomping back into the building.
"Yeah, I'll be back in there in a second." Kyle responded, watching her disappear into the hallway before taking a deep breath and texting back. /Get over here quick/.
He proceeded to walk back to the stairs, unwilling to be seen in front of the building now that Cartman was probably fast approaching. Then a new text, /I'm already walking up the god damn hill, where are you./
/In the back by the stairs, try to avoid walking in front of the building./ Kyle instructed, leaning against a wooden post once he got to the back of the building, adding /and get over here its cold as fuck./
The night was still compared to the chattering that was going on inside. Kyle much preferred the serenity of the cold mountainside to the mindless banter that he was subjected to for the hour or so before he concocted this little idea of his. After a couple moments to reflect quietly, however, the unmistakable sound of Cartman's breathing drew close as Kyle's taunting smile returned to him. "Took you long enough, I thought you had forgotten that I even asked you to do this."
Cartman didn't look bad himself. Though Kyle had this dumb ass party to go to, the larger boy didn't really have much of an excuse to look as dressed up as he was - nice jacket, pressed shit, silk tie and leather shoes to boot. The only reason he had to look this good was to impress Kyle, and that gesture did not go unnoticed.
Catching his breath, Cartman balanced himself against the side of the building before shooting Kyle a glare. "How could I forget, you reminded me every day this week to make sure I saved you from this party."
Standing up straight, the brunet smoothed out his jacket before walking up to the redhead. "So what, we're just leaving?"
"No I can't leave," Kyle replied with disdain, but laughed as he got right to the point.
"But, you can distract me," he suggested, suddenly reaching out to yank at Cartman's tie to breathe hotly into his face. "Head. Go."
Cartman's face lit up like a god damned Christmas tree at Kyle's forwardness, not just out of sheer amazement but also intense anger. He was the one who had to make the effort to come out here tonight, so he should be the one getting the fucking payment. "What?! I don't think so, Jew."
He took an additional step so he could loom over the other boy, ensuring his proper place. "I'm the one who came out HERE to relieve you of your boredom; I think a fucking reward is in order."
Yet Kyle wasn't buying into Cartman's machismo at all, and with an unimpressed grimace he eyed the boy once over before huffing, "Yeah: you get to suck my dick. So go for it."
"That is not how this works, you son of a bitch." Cartman started to rant, not moving out from Kyle's face as he pointed an index finger up to accentuate his insistence. "Do you know I missed out on Kenny's New Years Eve Party for this? He invited some bitches from Boulder and there was definitely going to be drunken lesbo make outs."
Kyle scoffed, "Are you kidding me? Are you saying you'd rather see some trashy sorostitutes shove their tongues down each other's throats than have a chance at hooking up with me tonight?"
"Point taken." Cartman backed down, resting his hands on Kyle's hips as he ground forward suggestively. "But I'm still not going down on you first. You're going down on me, end of discussion."
"No." Kyle pushed himself away from Cartman's assault, furrowing his brow once he was situated out of the other boy's reach. "Once a year I have to put up with my parents stupid friends, and every time I feel like I need to shoot myself in the face."
Stepping forward, he shoved his finger into the other boy's chest as he punctuated his demands. "I'm the one having the sucky night, so you're the one who has to do the sucking fatass."
Realizing that he was going to have to pay it forward in order to make Operation: Ball Drop a complete success, Eric exhaled before bracing himself against the other boy. Kyle might be the one getting off now, but Cartman would be the one getting his just desserts once the countdown started up.
"God, I hate you," he muttered, but then with a small smirk he started tugging at Kyle's fly.
"Likewise." Kyle shot back, entirely self-satisfied as he watched Cartman slide down to his knees.
These victories made hooking up with someone as horrible as Eric Cartman worth it in the long run. The stupid asshole thought he was the one in control, but Kyle knew otherwise, and getting him to come out here in the dead of night to service him was definitely one of the highlights of this affair so far. Tilting his head back from the jolts of pleasure shooting up from his groin, Kyle was about to lose it until, to his horror, he heard a familiar voice sound out from the balcony overhead.
"Shit, stop it. STOP." Kyle pulled away, scrambling to redo his pants and calm himself down.
Cartman, who had been waiting to hear his Jew's delirious moans, was disappointed once he felt his face get pushed back. Dismayed, he wiped his lips clean with the cuff of his shirt before calling up to him, "What the fucks going on, you were almos-"
Kyle slapped him upside the head. "Shut up," he hissed, angling his head up in an attempt to see who his brother was talking to.
"So you're still coming?" Ike leaned over the wooden ledge, cell phone clutched in his hand as he listened to the person on the other end of the line. "Yeah. I avoided three definite cheek pinches and a conversation about potentially joining a softball league. Its improbable that I can keep ditching out like this before my mother eventually finds out my method of diversion, so take the car if you can."
Then everything went silent, but just as Kyle was about to say something, Ike perked up again, sounding much more excited this time as he called out into the darkness, "Really. That sounds promising."
"What the fuck is he even talking about?" Cartman asked from beneath Kyle's waistline, finally getting to his feet so that he could listen in as well. "He's got something lined up too? Who does he know that drives a God damn car?"
"Be quiet!" Kyle snapped back, clamping his hand onto Cartman's mouth.
Back on the balcony, Ike was wrapping up his conversation with a couple hurried lines to the mysterious receiver, "I have to go back inside, but it's in the far left corner in the back of the banquet hall. You get the fifty if it hits." The porch went silent again, but then they both heard the boy sigh as he ended the phone call. "Whatever, bye."
Cartman had no clue what to even make of that conversation, growing more confused as he heard Ike scurry from the porch back into the crowded building. Peering down at Kyle, he nudged the other boy's shoulder to see if he caught the one bit which threw him off the most. "If it hits? What's he even talking about?"
"I don't know, hopefully something he won't regret. He's smart enough not to do something rash or stupid." Kyle snapped back, willing himself to believe his own words.
"Alright." Eric responded, happy that this little interruption was well out of the way. "Well you obviously don't want me to finish. So it's your turn, Gingerpuss."
"Gingerpuss?" Kyle furrowed his brow, moving away from Cartman to walk back upstairs. "Shut the fuck up. I'm not even in the mood anymore, I have to get inside before my mom starts looking for me next." He sighed, pausing on the first step as he ran a hand through his hair. "Let alone the fact that I have to make sure Ike doesn't do something to piss her off even more."
"What?! FUCK THAT!" Cartman barked back, stomping towards the redhead before swinging him back around. "He's probably just talking about some fucking computer game or something, who the fuck cares!"
"I fucking care." Kyle batted the larger boy's arm out of the way, ready to fight if not for the worrisome feeling creeping up his spine. "Now that I think of it, that phone call was pretty concerning if he really knows someone who can drive and needs them to hit something. Doesn't that bother you?"
Cartman couldn't help but hold back a laugh. "No! I hit eleven fucking people with a car when I was his age, did that bother me?"
Eyes narrowing, Kyle could feel his patience start to dwindle as he balled his hands in tight fists."No it didn't, and that's why you're going home right now." He stormed up the steps, refusing to look back down at the boy behind him. "You're such an insensitive fucking moron."
"SCREW YOU KYLE. See if I EVER drive to assfuck nowhere for your sorry ass again!" Cartman threatened, half tempted to chase him down. But as he looked up the stairs, his Jew was nowhere to be seen, presumably already inside with all the other uppity douchebags.
Walking back to his car alone, Cartman fumed over his poor luck tonight. He couldn't believe he had his heart set on getting Kyle to suck him off at the stroke of midnight just to have the whole plan crumble. Happy New Year indeed; it was already looking like a complete bust. Not only was Cartman freezing his balls off, but he was frustrated to the point where he was debating whether he should just relieve himself in his fucking car.
Grumbling, Cartman was too focused on feeling humiliated to notice that someone was running up the darkened slope and heading right towards him. Only when he heard the footsteps did he look up in time to see a kid ram directly into his gut.
"Jesus Tittyfucking Christ!" Cartman shouted before stumbling back a bit, watching as the kid literally ricocheted off his stomach then onto the frozen ground. "Watch where you're going, fucker!"
The kid however seemed more upset about the package that dropped to the ground, scrambling to pick it back up before responding, "Sorry, it's not my fault the road is only so big and you nearly take up all of it."
Cartman was taken aback, surprised that this little fucker was actually giving him lip when he was the one who got pushed! The kid looked like a trouble-maker anyway, clearly this puny punk was asking for a fight. He obliged by clenching his hands into prepared fists, "What did you just say to me?"
"Out of my way!" The punk shouted back, ignoring the threat as he whisked past Cartman. "I've got a deadline to catch!"
"Deadline?" Cartman turned around and watched the kid race up the hill before he decided to investigate. He needed a distraction anyway, and figuring out just what was inside that package was good enough for now. "Just who are you and what the fuck are you doing here."
The kid was currently crouched down a good distance away from the building, pulling a cylinder-like object out of the box before setting it on a makeshift stand. "Mind your own business Tubby, I could ask you the same thing."
"Don't even bother." Cartman huffed and rolled his eyes at the same time, suddenly noticing that the cylinder had a pointed nozzle and a fuse attached to it. "Wait is that a rocket?"
The goth kid merely snickered. "No, it's actually my dick, but I get that a lot so it's no problem."
Screwing his brow up in disgust, Cartman was about to kick Emo McGee right in the face before noticing that the the rocket was pointed at the dining hall's window. "Wait wait, hold on. You're not actually aiming for the god damn building are you?"
"No, I'm aiming it for your head but I can't seem to find it."
That about did it for Cartman. "Shut it kid, I'm getting sick of your shit!"
"Like I give a fuck." The goth snapped back, eying up the body of the projectile one more time. Once satisfied with the angle, the kid cracked a mischievous grin before lighting the fuse. "I'd get out of here if I were you though."
Cartman couldn't believe that the kid actually lit the fucking thing, not knowing what the hell he should even do about this situation as he asked, "What the fuck is that rocket even supposed to do?!"
"Cure Cancer! What do you think, dumbass?" Backing up several feet, the kid grabbed a hold of Cartman's coat to yank him away before shoving a switchblade towards his throat."Touch it and you're going to be needing stitches, Fatty."
"Woah, punk." Cartman held his hands up before adding, shakily, "Just let me make a god damn phone call before you blow up the place. I don't care what you do to that fucking building but there's someone I'd like to warn first."
Still keeping the knife aimed at the larger boy's throat, the goth kid proceeded to direct Cartman back down the hill as the sound of people counting down echoed from out behind them. "The place isn't going to blow up, dumbass, but everyone will evacuate."
Just as Cartman was going to bat the stupid fucker's knife away and give him a piece of his mind, he honed in on what the little twerp just said. "They'll what?"
Yet before the kid could answer, the fuse ended and the rocket's tail lit up in a fiery trail, whizzing from its stand straight into the glass window. After the sound of broken glass pierced the relatively silent mountainside, numerous screams started emanating from inside before the fire alarm subsequently went off.
Cartman stood back, completely aghast at what was taking place as he mumbled, "Did you jus... did you just light the fucking place on fire?"
He whipped his head around, expecting to see the kid still next to him, but found himself alone. "Where the fuck did that little shit go?"
Then, just as he was about to question the existence of ghosts, his cell phone vibrated furiously in his pocket. A text from Kyle. /what the hell did you just do/.
Suddenly realizing that he could be the one to blame for this incident, Cartman took one last look at the smoking building before stumbling down the slope. /I swear to god Kyle it wasn't me, meet me by my car on the bottom of the hill. I'll explain everything./
Kyle took all of one minute to race down the hill to give the fatass what was coming to him. A rocket landing in the Tavern's Christmas Tree at the stroke of midnight? Sure sounded like something Cartman would do, and Kyle was prepared to wipe that scumbag's dirty smirk off his face once they met up again.
What Kyle wasn't prepared for was the look of confusion on Cartman's face once he finally reached the parked silver Camry. Cartman looked genuinely perplexed as he watched the firetruck ascend the steep mountainside. Kyle didn't know if Cartman's confusion was because his bullshit plan actually worked or if he really had no idea what was going on. "You better start explaining. It's been practically ten years since I've seen this kind of shit happen around here, I thought I would never have to deal with this again!"
"It was this kid!" Cartman blurted, proceeding to give a totally unbelievable explanation of a mysterious goth kid and a bottle rocket. The whole thing sounded fishy, especially when the larger boy finally took a deep breath and added, "And then the kid just disappeared!"
Kyle wasn't buying it. The convenience of having this all happen the moment they parted was one thing, but having the suspect just "vanish" after all was said and done? Clearly Cartman thought Kyle was the stupidest person on Earth.
"Uh huh. Right." He dismissed while leaning against the car, but then decided to humor him with a smirk. "What did this kid look like."
"Black hair, dark eyes, black clothes, black finger nail polish, around Ike's age and had a bad ass attitude." Cartman rolled off immediately, sneering at that last part.
Though Cartman's could have just described any old hooligan he could pass the blame onto, the mention of Ike reminded Kyle of the phone call they overheard on the balcony. Not only that, but Kyle would often catch glimpses of a kid who matched that exact description hanging around his little brother. That gave Kyle a moment of pause, and he brought his hand up to his mouth to ponder over the possibility of Ike's involvement in this matter.
Cartman noticed Kyle's sudden change, so he stepped closer to the other boy in an attempt to dismiss the whole thing altogether.
"Yeah it was weird, but now you're out of that ungodly party! I think that calls for our own New Years Celebration..." he trailed off, shooting Kyle a suggestive grin before opening the back seat in invitation.
Kyle just laughed, "No thanks, I have to go back up before my parents freak out."
"What!?Fuck them! I thought you wanted to get away from them tonight. You can't still be mad at me..."
"I can too! I don't even know if you're responsible or not, but for some reason I actually believe you." Kyle knew why too, it was that kid he described. The more he thought about it, the more he recalled fleeting images of a little black clothed punk hanging around whenever he picked Ike up from school, but he didn't know that they were actually acquainted. Why would someone as smart as Ike hang around some delinquent?
Instead of dwelling on that mystery, Kyle turned his attention back to Cartman so that he could berate him some more, "Yet it's a little disappointing actually, since it sounds like something you'd do." he huffed. "Risk everyone's lives so I'd get out of there and give you head? Where'd my asshole go?"
Cartman couldn't help but laugh at that, despite the fact that Kyle probably meant it as an insult. He smiled, tugging the redhead closer to rustle up his hair. "Fuck you, he hasn't gone anywhere. If that kid hadn't done it I would have busted you out some other way."
Though Kyle hated it when Cartman treated him like some doll, he certainly loved putting him back in his place. He did so with a parting hip bump, knocking the larger boy off balance causing him to fall back against his car. "Sure you would've." he laughed, "I guess we'll finish what you started after second period, same time same place."
"I'll hold you to it." Cartman snapped back, regaining his balance before getting back into his car to blow this whole scene.
Kyle flipped off Cartman's car on his way out of the driveway, and in turn the fatass honked his horn at him. Shaking his head, he tried incredibly hard to hide the dumb grin plastered across his face. This was no time to be smiling, so he tried to focus on something else before he reached the top of the hill.
That 'something else' came pretty quickly as soon as he spotted two figures moving behind the brush to his left. Not knowing what to expect, Kyle ducked slightly before moving in closer, scrunching his eyes in an attempt to narrow in on the two people.
To his surprise, one of them was Ike. The other he wasn't sure of at first, but on closer inspection, he could make out that the kid had an emo hair flip and was wearing dark clothes.
Kyle was taken aback. He couldn't believe that Cartman was actually telling the truth, for once. Not only that, but now his suspicions were confirmed - he had seen this kid before, and he was sure Ike had something to do with that rocket attack.
He believed it even more once Ike hand something over, probably that fifty dollars since the thing hit.
Whatever they were up to, it didn't last long since the kid scrammed after receiving payment. Then, once Ike started to emerge from the woods, Kyle decided to call him out on this suspicious meeting without even a moment's hesitation. "Who was that?"
Ike was completely caught off guard, almost falling as he stopped in his tracks to face his older brother. "Nobody you need to concern yourself with," he replied immediately. "Just tell me this, are you happy this night ended early?"
"You're welcome." Ike deliberately cut him off, not willing to answer any more questions in fear that Kyle would keep prying. All he knew was that he didn't have to deal with any more cheek pinches or awkward attempts to sign him up for shit tonight, so this was a 'Mission Accomplished' as far as he was concerned.
Kyle, however, wasn't too confident in how this whole night ended, but reluctantly followed his younger brother back up the hill to join his parents. Thankfully, both boys were inside the building when the rocket hit the tree, so the cops skipped over them, leaving the Broflovskis free to go back home.
On their way back, Sheila took total control over the conversation by criticizing both boys on their anti-social behavior tonight... after of course, thanking God that everyone was okay. This left Ike free of any and all questioning from Kyle about what he knew.
Despite Ike's assurances, Kyle wasn't done with this at all. One way or another, he'd find out who that fucking kid was and what the hell was going on with his baby brother.
Chapter Two: Behind the Curtain
Second period was US History, the one class Cartman and Kyle shared before actively avoiding each other for the rest of the school day. Hanging out after school in the privacy of their own rooms was fine, but they both had hang-ups about other people knowing what there was between them.
The problem was that Cartman wasn't about to change his lovable self any time soon, and Kyle didn't want people thinking that he was supporting his behavior by hooking up with him every once in a while. They wouldn't know what the hook-ups meant and there was no way in hell anyone would ever understand why he agreed to do them. Getting Stan to understand had been absolutely unbearable, and sometimes Kyle himself didn't even understand why he allowed this to continue.
So they kept
their affair under the
radar. Cartman didn't want everyone thinking he was gay for Kyle
anyway, but he
still had his problems. He couldn't keep his eyes off him, let alone
The distraction had become such a problem that in September, Cartman got into an argument with Kyle about what they could and could not do at school. Kyle adamantly refused to be caught doing anything with him, but Cartman told him that he could find a place where that wouldn't be a problem, and so had begun their back-of-the-theatre shenanigans.
Being a music student certainly had its perks. Since the only piano in the school was on the stage, the band teacher had given Cartman a key for his senior year so he could access the theatre even when it was closed.
Their favorite place was on the old dusty couch in the corner by the back door. Kyle thought it was disgusting at first, so Cartman mocked him for being a prissy little brat before begrudgingly throwing one of the prop curtains over it. This couch became their dining table of sorts; they convened, talked about their day, argued, fought, but on occasion got along and ate lunch together. Today was a mixed day though, Kyle had a lot on his mind and wasn't putting any attention into what he was doing.
Cartman certainly noticed, zipping up his pants with a huff. "If I had to rate that blow job on a scale of one to ten I'd give it a fucking negative five. I might as well have fucked a slimy vacuum hose."
Using the back of his sleeve to wipe his lips clean, Kyle coughed once before shooting the other boy a look. "That's sick, you're actually using that as a point of comparison? As though you've done it before?"
"Ugh, no! I'm just saying that was a lazy, unmotivated, sloppy performance compared the one I just gave you." Cartman straighted his back up against the cushions, jokingly throwing an arm around the back of the couch as he edged closer to Kyle. "I feel like I should charge you since I had to put up with it."
Kyle wasn't having any of that shit, promptly pushing the larger boy back to the other side with his outstretched leg. "Tough luck fatass, I wasn't even going to give you one today. The last thing on my mind is trying to please you. I'm still pissed off from the other night."
Cartman retaliated by grabbing onto Kyle's shin, pulling him even closer. "I didn't even do anything! You can't still be mad at me, Jesus Christ!"
"You're a douchebag in general, I don't even need a reason to hate your guts." Kyle snapped back before yanking his foot away, glancing towards the empty chairs in the audience as he pondered over what was really plaguing him. "This time it's not really about you though, it's Ike."
The asshole just chortled. "Why? He's a little dumbfuck. Don't waste your time on him, he'll do what he's going to do. He's only eleven anyway, what's the big deal?"
"That's just it, he's only eleven and he's hanging out with someone who'd risk people's lives by setting a room on fire?" Kyle asked vaguely, his brow raised and his fingernails digging into the cheap fabric of the curtain cover. "I've seen that goth kid hanging around him sometimes, but I didn't think anything of it at first since I don't judge people's character based on something as stupid as the color of clothes they wear."
Getting up from the couch, the redhead paced aimlessly around the stage. "I know I shouldn't hover over him or any of that over-protective bullshit, but I feel like I should do something." He peered back at Cartman, thinking that maybe this one time, the fat boy could offer at least a small amount of useful advice. "I don't want something to happen knowing I could have put a stop to it."
"Psh, you can't save everyone, Kyle," the larger boy retorted, pulling out a bag of snacks from nowhere as he went to town on them. Stuffing his mouth with chips, he launched into a lecture. "Ike needs to learn from his own mistakes. He might be book smart, but he's about as socially intelligent as a retarded llama. He needs someone to kick him into shape, and this kid seems hardcore enough for the position."
"Ugh, forget this." Kyle snapped back, stomping back over to the couch. "You obviously have no idea what you're talking about. No one 'needs' to get kicked into shape; that's just cruel."
Cartman didn't understand why Kyle was overreacting, so he shot the other boy a confused look as he swallowed more chips."He'll just resent you for sticking your nose in his business again." he insisted, smirking. "But by all means, continue to make matters worse for yourself!"
Kyle didn't even grace that comment with a response. Why he'd thought it was a good idea to discuss this with Cartman was beyond him. He settled for flipping him off instead, and stormed out of the theatre, the Fatass's cacophonous laughter ringing behind him.
After that argument, the school day seemed to last forever, and the last person Kyle wanted to see afterwards was Cartman. Instead of going over his house like he normally did on Mondays, he decided to hang out with Stan, since it had been a while. Two days, in fact, which was bordering on neglect for them.
They met at the bridge and started throwing rocks at whatever they could find. They never aimed at animals, but the occasional kayaker was always fun. The light chatter, however, soon faded into more serious discussion.
"So then he told me that I shouldn't be worried and whatever I'd say would just piss Ike off. I initially passed it off as Cartman being an idiot, but then I remembered back when I got into Ike's business with the teacher thing. He said I was dead to him." Kyle sighed, exasperated, and leaned over the side of the ledge, picking idly at a piece of cement. He felt helpless. It was his duty as big brother to step in whenever something seemed awry, but the last thing he wanted to do was smother Ike with unnecessary concern.
He hoped Stan would understand.The crime sounded so juvenile and reckless he couldn't believable that Ike would get himself wrapped up in it. Nevertheless, he was convinced that Ike was involved and was troubled that his brother would keep things from him.
Any responsible sibling would feel this way, and thankfully Stan reassured him that he was doing the right thing: "But then he tried to run away with her to Milan. You were clearly correct about intervening back then and you're still justified to think this way now."
Stan broke his own piece off. "What you're not right about is going to fucking Cartman for advice. While we're at it, I think you should stop going to him for anything. Period."
Kyle turned away from Stan in embarrassment. "I'm not talking about Cartman right now, I'm talking about Ike." He exhaled a long breath before returning to the subject. "You really think I should do something about this? You don't think this makes me some paranoid, helicopter older brother?"
"It's up to you, dude," Stan replied, tossing a rock a few yards further than Kyle's had gone. He smirked. "Honestly? I'd be concerned too if someone in my family was involved in something as serious as arson."
Kyle smiled, relieved that Stan was agreeing with him. "Yeah, there's definitely something wrong. I didn't think I'd have to be concerned with Ike getting into the shit we found ourselves in as kids."
"Well luckily the town's been practically dead since middle school." Stan pointed out, turning his back against the bridge to catch the view of the sun slowly disappearing behind the mountains.While their surroundings hadn't changed, South Park had become a different place in the ten years since this place was known as the stomping ground for the supernatural.
Settling back against the wall, Stan turned his head to match Kyle's gaze, sighing heavily. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but I kind of wish something crazy would happen again. I'd like another adventure about now, it's been pretty fucking boring lately."
Staring back at him for a moment or two, Kyle tried not to look too off-put by Stan's odd admittance. The scary thing was that there was an ounce of truth to what he said, but Kyle wasn't ready to accept just how badly he wanted some chaos injected into his life as well. In place of admitting his own grievances about how dull this town had gotten, he joked instead, "Maybe the wormhole that caused all that shit to happen finally closed up!"
Yet after laughing at his own bullshit theory, Kyle's smile suddenly faded before he eventually conceded to his friend's previous comment. "But I guess I get what you mean."
The conversation lulled into awkward silence. Hanging out with Kyle was never usually this depressing, and though the Ike situation was nothing to laugh at, Stan wasn't willing to let reminiscence of their wonder years taint the evening. "Is that why you started hooking up with Cartman? You wanted a thrill?" he asked, teasing.
Kyle snapped out of his self-pitying reverie and playfully shoved the other boy back against the ledge. Thanks to Stan's prying, Kyle didn't have any qualms about actually pushing him over. The distance was short enough, and it would be funny as hell to see him tread his way out.
"That's not it at all!" His attempt to look angry failed miserably when a squeak of laughter bubbled up. "Fuck you, Stan, how many times do we have to go over this?"
"Actually, I'd be more relieved if that's all it was. We can go over this all night! I just wish I brought a recorder so you can hear how ridiculous your explanations are," Stan said, also laughing.
Eying the rushing water below with a mischievous grin, Kyle seriously considered throwing the other boy down to give him his own ‘thrill'. Just as he was about to go for it, he suddenly remembered that it was winter and there was a good chance Stan could freeze to death. Not
wanting his best friend to die, Kyle settled on giving Stan a good shaking. "I'm not talking about this, because guess what? Something crazy /is/ happening right now, and it involves my brother! Mecha celebrities and government espionage I can handle, but I don't even know where to start on this one."
"I know dude. I know." Stan patted the other boy's back, trying to figure out how he could help. There was something Kyle mentioned when he first explained the situation, something about a goth kid. This detail amongst all others stuck out to him the most. "You said that the kid who shot off that rocket was wearing all black? Maybe I know someone who can help."
Inhaling sharply, Kyle loosened his grip on Stan upon hearing that he had a lead. "Really? Who?"
"You don't know her, and I can't make any promises. She usually stays out of shit like this." Stan said with a hint of uncertainty in his voice.
"Anything helps Stan, how soon can you talk to her?"
Stan kicked a can out of his way as he walked down the sidewalk. Tonight was supposed to be filled with playing video games, eating terrible food, and making fun of the idiots in their classes like Kyle said they'd do. The last thing Stan thought he'd be doing was paying Henrietta a visit. Visits to her house were reserved for nights where he felt horrible about himself and needed company from someone who wouldn't give him hell for drinking a beer or smoking a damn cigarette. After the meeting at the bridge, though, meeting up with Hen seemed like the only comforting course of action.
A nasty gust swept through the alley, picking up trash as it rushed by. Shivering into his coat, Stan hurried down the last street before he got to the familiar row-house. She lived further away from the rest of the town on purpose, distancing herself from the townsfolk she had grown to resent. On the nights like this where everything seemed to go wrong, he didn't blame her.
As he walked,
Stan wondered when
This had gotten ridiculous. Stan could light his own fire if he really wanted that kind of cheap thrill, but he wasn't about to do something so thoughtless and stupid. If anything, he probably needed to light something else up that night.
Shivering on the crumbling front steps, Stan stared at the peeling paint of Henrietta's front door, knocking three times before waiting for her to answer. Despite accepting a monthly allowance from her parents for what they considered "an artistic change of atmosphere", she still needed to rent the place out to her friends - namely Ethan and Dylan - in order to keep herself afloat, and didn't have enough left over for basic maintenance. Still, the goths didn't just have a single room to smoke up anymore, they had a whole house.
A thumping sound came from the opposite side of the door. Henrietta wasn't expecting any guests tonight, and like the dumbass Stan was, he hadn't called ahead. Peering through the small glass pane, she recognized the boy on the other side and let him in. "Is the year already starting off this poorly for you? I've got a pot of coffee brewing. Did you bring my books back?"
"No, I'm still reading them." Stan said, taking off his coat and hanging it on the stair's banister. Peering upstairs, he heard several loud footsteps followed by what sounded like a window opening and then shutting close. Glancing outside, he saw a shadow drop down from the second story, probably one of the sob stories Hen picked up off the street.
Paying no mind, he casually returned to their conversation. "This really has nothing to do with me, I actually just had a question."
Henrietta walked back into the kitchen to fetch two cups anyway, her black night gown swaying behind her as she went. "I was going to say... I mean it's only been a week since your last visit. You're usually able to hold off for much longer. Still care for some coffee?"
"I'll take a cup I guess," Stan replied, shrugging dully, rubbing his hands together for warmth. "And actually, do you have a cigarette? I could use one of those too."
As she topped off Stan's cup, Henrietta looked at him curiously. Whenever Stan asked for a smoke, a long talk always seemed to follow. She could tell the boy had needed some coffee as soon as he walked in, but she didn't see the cigarette coming.
"So there is something wrong," Henrietta sat down next to her friend. She set both mugs down on the table, reaching a hand in between the cushions to reveal a box of cigarettes with a lighter tucked inside. "What did you want to ask me?"
the box from her as
though it contained the answer to all his problems. "Kyle's worried
his brother messing with this weird kid. He went as far as describing
"goth looking" and that he was involved in some fire. There aren't
too many goth kids in
Henrietta tried to remember anything she might have heard from Ethan or Dylan about other goth boys or recent fires. Drawing a blank, she picked up her coffee and answered with a regretful sigh, "Doesn't sound familiar, I don't know any younger goth boys in the area. I think the goth fad's gone anyway, thank god." She took a sip, "Everyone wants to be a hipster now, so we're back to where we were. Feels nice."
"Yeah, I didn't think you'd know anything about it." Stan responded quickly, tapping his cigarette into the ashtray.
No amount of coffee or cigarettes could prevent Henrietta from ignoring Stan's obvious plight. She could run away from a lot of things, but Stan wasn't one of them. Setting her coffee down, she tried to think of the best way to approach this without setting him off. Stan could be a stubborn asshole sometimes, but all her friends were.
Taking a deep breath, she plucked the cigarette right out of Stan's fingers to smoke it herself. Her only apology was a teasing smile. "Why do you look so disappointed? This doesn't sound like something that would call for a cigarette."
Stan only allowed himself to smoke one cigarette tonight, but now he was denied even that luxury. He needed something to take this edge away, something that could push all of his frustration and anxiety back into it's respective dark corner of his mind. To his relief, Hen's smile worked better than any amount of cigarettes could, so he paid no mind. "I don't know, I'm just being stupid."
"No, you're just keeping stuff bottled in again." Hen replied, eying Stan's cooling coffee before taking another sip of her own. "You know what that does to you."
"It doesn't matter." Stan stood up, trying to forget about how pointless everything seemed now that the town had returned to normal. "What I'm upset about doesn't even make sense anyway, I might as well just forget about it."
Henrietta watched with a pained expression as her friend got up to leave, frowning. The path of self discovery was just that, the discovery of self. This was something he'd have to figure out on his own, but she still felt the need to point him in the right direction. "Is this still about the whole... 'your life is going nowhere' thing?" She clutched onto her mug. "You don't need to figure out your purpose yet; you're only eighteen. The role of 'Town Protector' isn't necessary anymore."
Throwing his coat over his shoulders, Stan gave Henrietta a half-hearted smile. He knew there was no point in lying to her though, so he nodded dismissively. "I know."
He never touched his coffee.
"You gotta stem the evil tiiiiide, and keep it all on the insiiiiiide."
Cartman sang into the cold and starry night, trying to keep himself in a good mood on his way back home from the store. There was nothing like a catchy song to keep him from throwing a total bitch fit over his mom's forgetfulness. Late night runs for hohos were at least in his top ten most hated things in the world. It was 2012 for god's sake, he was sure they'd have invented a Jetsons-style instant food materializer by now. Or at least a mother fucking flying car.
This whole day just blew: gas went up ten cents this morning, Kyle gave him the worst blow job ever, they served those nasty ass sloppy joes for lunch, he got a D on his math test, Kyle bailed on him a second time, and now his mom sent him out for fucking groceries on the coldest night of the year. He was going to have to look up some fucking serious ass amazing porn when he got home, since Cartman knew his chances of slipping into a certain annoying redhead's window tonight were slim to none. God damn it.
Now he felt like taking the mother fucking bag of groceries and throwing it into a wall. But just as he was about to smash it against the nearest building, he heard someone shouting from the alley to his left.
"GET BACK HERE YOU FUCKING BRAT!"
Cartman spun around and caught sight of a smaller person weaving through the trash cans with an older man in pursuit. Though he wasn't sure what the hell was going on, he found himself chasing after the pair.
Rounding a corner, the older man had the punk cornered, his arms outstretched as he approached his crouching subject. "Alright, now fork it over! You're lucky I didn't call th-"CRASH! The man suddenly went down like a paraplegic with narcolepsy, Cartman looming over him with a proud smirk. The broken beer bottle that did the job was still clutched in his hand.
"Jesus Christ, they don't make glass bottles like they used to." He flexed his biceps, but the result was a lot less impressive than he wanted. Still, they ought to be big enough to impress this scrawny kid. "Or maybe I've gotten stronger, heh."
"Keep dreaming, hero-boy. The bottle was probably defective," the kid drawled, rolling his eyes at Cartman's non-existent muscles.
"Ay! Is that the kind of thanks I get for-" Cartman cut off, grinning wickedly when he recognized the little punk. "Well looky here, if it isn't the goth brat. What are you doing up so late? It's definitely past your bed time."
"Up yours, Porkfucker, I could have handled that myself. No one forgets their run-ins with me. You can't erase a scar across your throat." The kid flicked out a familiar looking knife, expertly flipping it over and pointing it at Cartman's face.
Cartman kept his distance away from the blade, but stared ahead to see if he could pick up on any noticeable features. But to him, all goths looked the same, and this punk was no exception; same black clothes, same hair style, same loser bullshit. "Calm down Edgar Allen, I don't intend on stopping you from whatever the fuck you're doing out here. That said, I do know of know someone who's more than a little curious about your rendezvous with Ike on New Years."
The little fuck smirked knowingly, circling away from him with the blade still in hand. "I'm not stupid, you know, I know you're fucking Kyle and that he's been trying to figure out what his brother's been up to."
"How di-" Cartman choked on his words, staring bewildered at the punk. "Ugh, forget it. How about this, I'll give you twenty bucks if you just forget all about that and tell me why you've been hanging around Ike."
"Sorry, Lardbreath, I'm not giving you something to dangle over Kyle's head. Besides, why should anyone have to provide a reason for hanging out with someone? That exception being you and Kyle of course. That whole thing just makes no sense."
"What the fuck are you even getting at kid? You don't know us, mind your own damn business!" Cartman yelled, glaring.
"Likewise, now stop wasting my time!" the kid snapped, barreling past Cartman as the knife and loot fell to the ground.
"No! You know too much; this isn't stopping here." Cartman tried to block the fucker from escaping, scowling down at them. "Look at you, out here dealing with drunks like this guy at fucking midnight. You're a trashy lowlife who's obviously fucked up big time. Twerps like you are a disease and you're not about to infect anything to do with Ike Broflovski."
"Back off!" The kid darted between Cartman's legs, grabbing the fallen switchblade and drunk guy's stolen wallet on the way. "You don't even care about Ike, all you care about is running back to your enemy-turned-sex-puppet and blabbing everything to get back into his pants again!"
"Now that's just offensive! I wouldn't do that at all!" Cartman snapped back too quickly.
"You're such a miserable excuse for a human being. I'm so done here. I have all the money Ike needs anyway. Ugh too bad I can't even go home. Fucking.. Henrietta and her stupid crush on that... traitor." The kid thumbed through the bills, counting them in a rush while walking out of the alley.
"What are you muttering about now?" Cartman asked.
"Nothing!" The punk hollered back over his shoulder. "Tell Kyle to stop being such a fucking nosy asswipe! If he has a problem with Ike not telling him shit, he should just man up and ask him himself!"
Cartman watched as the kid disappeared. "Hm, you have a point, twerp."
But now he had something to dangle in Kyle's face, so maybe he wouldn't have to spend the night alone after all!
Chapter Three: Behind the Curtain
Going to bed at 2 o'clock in the morning wasn't unusual for Kyle, not anymore. At school, he had to keep up appearances by appealing to his teachers and fellow honor society members who, like him, strove to get ahead in a relatively poor county. If you weren't exceptional, you went unnoticed by the entire school population. Kyle stayed ahead of this selection process by being on the board for several academic clubs and by peer tutoring on a daily basis.
At home, he
had to keep up
appearances by appealing to his parents who held both him and his
extremely high standards. Kyle felt pressured to parade around as the
Jewish boy his mother raised him to be, not a thrill-seeker with a
for risk and conflict. Though his parents supported and benefited from
ability resolve the occasional household tiff, they weren't aware of
desperately Kyle yearned to resume his role as the voice of reason for
The only time Kyle felt like he didn't have to keep up appearances was when he was alone in his room at night. On the Internet, he found himself getting into debates on random threads where he almost always came out victorious. Sometimes his effort resulted in something as simple as a rule getting put up or taken down, but sometimes he'd get private messages from people thanking him for sticking up for them.
Kyle needed more though. There was a time in his life where people used to thank him for saving the whole fucking world. This website monitoring bullshit couldn't compare to that kind of gratification, but those days were long gone. He had to make due with what he could get. Internet Vigilantism was the methodone to his addiction.
"God damn it, these idiots really have no idea how to mod a forum. This was a huge fucking waste of time." Kyle fumed, closing out of all his tabs. But just as he was about to close out of Trillian, an instant message popped up.
whrmachtgbracht: Are you free tonight? We need to talk.
Typical. Kyle hated it when Cartman acted all apologetic after they fought. Every time the fat boy tried to make amends it was laced with bullshit and lies, so there was really no fucking point to letting him try. They both knew he was unable to truly say he was sorry about anything, so Kyle didn't know why he bothered to pretend otherwise. Assuming that message was nothing more than another fake apology, Kyle rolled his eyes and typed out a short response.
smarterthanj00: Save it. I'm about to go to bed, night.
He didn't even wait for Cartman to respond, closing his laptop before setting it on his nightstand. His bed felt the best after a long day of battling his inner demons. Sleep overs with Stan were always enjoyable and even the occasional night with Cartman was fun, but Kyle enjoyed the serenity of being able to stretch out his limbs and fall asleep uninterrupted the most. Only then was he free to dream of the times where he didn't need a user name or control over a psychopath to make himself feel useful.
Upon waking up the next morning, Kyle remembered one of the drawbacks of his late night forum raids was feeling like total shit the next day. School was already a pain in the neck considering the amount of work he put himself through, but on four hours of sleep it was practically unbearable. Not to mention Cartman was particularly difficult to deal with that day.
"So you hardly deserve a ride for being such a dick last night and ignoring me today, but I really think you want to hear this," the fat ass boasted on their way to the car. Cartman was apparently his only available ride today. What fucking luck. "I was almost ready to break into your room to tell you, but I decided to make you suffer in suspense as punishment."
If the buses weren't already lined up and ready to leave, Kyle would have turned around to hop on his. Was it possible to pretend Cartman didn't exist on their way home? Sure it was, but would it help any? No, so Kyle snapped back, "Oh yeah, you sure showed me a lesson. I'll make sure to pay full attention the next time you want to shove a fake apology down my throat..."
"Apologize for what? I didn't do anything wrong!" Cartman defended.
If this is where the conversation was going? This was going to be one miserable ride home. Sure Kyle enjoyed the occasional argument, but he couldn't stand it when Cartman didn't even see the error of his ways... which was 99% of the time. The one percent though? Glorious.
But then Cartman unexpectedly stumbled on the next part of his sentence. "...unless knocking a guy out with an empty beer bottle counts."
Kyle blinked, surprised, and glared skeptically at Cartman. "Wait, what are you talking about."
Cartman returned Kyle's glare with a smugass toothy grin. "It just so happens that I ran into the goth kid again! Apparently Ike's having that punk steal money for him or something. You were right, Jew. Your brother is up to no good. It's that rebellious Canadian blood in him, can't trust him as far as you can throw him."
"Shut your fucking mouth!" Kyle yelled, grabbing Cartman's shirt and shoving him into the nearest car. "Is this your idea of a joke? Stealing money? Where the fuck did you hear this?"
"Get your grubby Jewpaws off of me!" The brunet pretended to take offense, but the faint smile across his lips told another story. "I didn't have to hear it, I saw it for myself during my late night HoHos run last night. The kid was stealing wallets from drunks outside Skeeters bar. One of them caught on to the fucker's little scheme and I knocked the guy out in time to ask the kid questions. Then the little fuck said Ike needed money."
Kyle felt crushed. There was no way that could be true. He hated it when Cartman fed him bullshit to get out of the dog house, and the fact that the asshole was actually using Ike to his own advantage was beyond appalling. Of course, he shouldn't expect any less from Cartman, so instead of feeling angry he just felt like a fool.
"You're lying to my face. I never want to talk to you again." Kyle sneered, turning on his heel to walk back towards the buses.
"Woah woah! Hold up, Kyle!" Cartman called to him, tugging one of his hands back until they were face to face again. "I know you really don't want to believe me this time Jewface, but I can show you the smushed box of HoHos, the alley, and the broken beer bottle if you want proof."
There were those eyes again. That stern but calm expression which read "I'm actually not playing around right now Kyle, this is serious". An unfortunate side effect of hanging out with Cartman for too long was the ability to see through his asshole guise when necessary. At first Kyle didn't see this side effect as unfortunate, in fact he thought it was an extremely useful tool to add to his arsenal. But getting to know the human side of the monster he was accustomed to was unsettling to say the least - especially in this situation.
Though Kyle didn't want to believe a damn thing, he could tell Cartman wasn't lying this time, so he stayed. "I don't... you have to understand why I'm not inclined to believe you."
The larger boy loosened the pressure of his grip, simply holding Kyle's hand now as he explained. "I specifically heard Ike's name and that he needed a certain amount of cash. We can go that alley now, I really don't mind showing you."
"For the love of god." Kyle pulled his hand away, passing by the other boy on his way to the silver Camry. "Stan went to one of his goth friends yesterday and said she didn't know of any goth boys Ike's age that would do this kind of thing. Now you're telling me this kid lives in town?"
Cartman was a couple steps behind, allowing Kyle some fuming-space as they crossed the parking lot together. "Well, I don't know about that. After I heard the Ike thing, there was something about not being able to go home because of a traitor? Look. The whole thing was weird, but I swear on my good looks that it's all true."
Then, of course, he had to change the subject to something even more infuriating. "But wait, Stan still talks to those losers? Hah, that fucking loser."
Kyle stopped in his tracks. If there was one thing he hated most about his affair with Cartman it was this continual fight between him and his best friend. They all couldn't hang out together anymore, Stan and Cartman almost fought more than he and Cartman did! After one particularly bad argument last year which resulted in Stan needing stitches and Cartman needing an X-ray, Kyle decided that neither one of them was allowed to talk about the other in his presence, and Cartman just broke that rule for what seemed like the hundredth time. "Don't talk about Stan like that, asshole! What if his friend did know the kid? We could have gotten to the bottom of this a lot faster!"
"Well it was a dead end anyway." Cartman brushed him off, walking past Kyle on his way to the drivers seat. "Hah. Just like Stan's miserable excuse for an existence."
That did it. Kyle punched him in the gut as hard as he could. That still wasn't satisfying enough,so he wrenched Cartman's arm around with a hasty pull and shoved him against his own god damn car. "Keep it up, lardass! Want a black eye next?"
"God... damn it!" the fat boy cried out in protest. He was completely pinned, and thrashed around, trying to break Kyle's hold. "What the fuck was that for! You know for a fact Stan wants to keep you away from me! Why shouldn't we be pissed off at him? I'm getting sick of the super best friend treaty you have with him or whatever. It's fucking annoying as balls."
"You're fucking annoying as balls!" Kyle grabbed Cartman's hair and smashed his fat face into the cold hard metal. "Stan's got a pretty good case against you if you ask me. There isn't a god damned day that goes by where I don't ask myself why the fuck I'm still putting up with you!"
"Because you want it just as badly as I do, obviously." Cartman managed to smile back at him, intentionally bucking backwards in some perverse gesture. "Remember? It started out a lot like this actually! You shoved me, I punched you, and then-"
"You don't have to remind me!" Kyle's cheeks flushed red, letting go of the larger boy all at once as he swiveled around to the passenger side of the car. Why Cartman thought this was a good time to bring up this shit was beyond him. "I know how it started, I just don't know how to stop it."
"Psh, listen to you. Like you'd actually want to stop the best thing that's ever happened to you." Cartman sounded from the other end, getting into the car the same time as he did. "What else are you doing at the moment, huh? Helping the retards out in basic math? I bet that's invigorating..."
"At least it's less infuriating than dealing with your sorry ass." Kyle bit back, reluctantly buckling himself into the car. Arguing with Cartman could only distract him from the situation so much. He hated that the fat ass got a lead faster than he could, even if it was due to some chance encounter.
Though Kyle couldn't keep himself from wondering, was it selfish for him to feel so enraged? Even if he wasn't the one who got the tip, at least the information got to him eventually, but it had to come through Cartman of all people! Now it felt like the asshole had a distinct advantage. Kyle didn't want him involved in this at all, but it looked like his association with him actually paid off. Would Cartman have so readily forked that tidbit over if he wasn't fucking him? Probably not, so he took that as justification for now. Kyle needed all the excuses he could find when it came to justifying his relationship with the evilest fucking person on the planet.
"What are we even fighting about?" He offered, resting his head back against the back of his seat.
"You didn't believe me when I said I saw that goth kid last night." Cartman continued to stare straight ahead as he drove, only fidgeting once as he sucked in an aggravated breath. "Why would you even be mad at me about that? This just confirms you were right all along. Congratufuckinglations!"
"Ugh, this is something I didn't want to be right about at all." Kyle groaned, "I don't think I have a choice now, I have to talk to him. I did a lot of shit when I was a kid, but I never did something as criminal as getting someone to steal money for me."
"You should have just did that in the first place, idiot." Cartman joked, shifting around for a second before he smoothly slid an arm over the back of Kyle's chair."But you know Kyle, if you're going to go there tonight I think you should settle down first. You're all flustered now, I think you need to take some of that edge off."
"Fuck you, this is not the time for that." Kyle shot down that notion faster than that fatass could go through a KFC Bucket. Nevertheless the asshole had a point; going to Ike now would probably be the worst possible option. He needed to vent a lot of his frustration out first.
That's when Kyle saw it, the victorious sheen in Cartman's eyes. The fucker knew he had him right where he wanted him. The scramble outside the car and the events that followed had ignigted a fire deep inside him that only one thing could quench - and it was all done on purpose. Kyle hated giving Cartman what he wanted, but this didn't have to end in that asshole's favor. Oh no, not today.
"At least wait till we get home first..."
Ike only cleaned his room on two occasions: when his mom told him to and when his dad told him to. There was a method to his madness, and organized to him apparently meant filthy fucking dirty to everyone else.
Admittedly though, he needed to clear up some of the clutter still stacked up from last year. His desk was the first thing that needed to be filtered through, half the folders piled on top of his filing cabinet were tasks he'd completed months ago. He needed to make room for the next one, this would probably be a four or five folder assignment. Dumping some of his smaller cases in his shredder, he realized that he might actually have to reuse the 3 inch ring binder he used for the incident last Halloween. Recycling was necessary since he couldn't keep asking his mom for new school supplies ever week. This wasn't even for class, Ike always finished his homework weeks in advanced. What this was? Was art.
Rummaging through his folders, he pulled out every clean piece of looseleaf he could find. He'd always over estimate how much each assignment needed, but this time, he knew he'd use every last sheet available to him. Printer paper too, anything. Ike needed his resources at hand at all times no matter where he went during a case. To be honest, he should have started gathering information sooner, but he only now received confirmation that this was even happening.
Then, while shredding the Halloween file, a three beeped notification suddenly sounded from his computer, catching his attention as he flew over to inspect what caused the alarm.
It was her. Barrettes-chan.
No one knew her real name, but once in a blue moon she'd show up on 4chan and offer some of the best code he'd ever seen on the internet, publicly at least. Why "Barrates-chan"? That's all they could see of her. When she'd want a laugh, she'd post pictures of herself in some compromising positions for the drooling basement dwellers to oggle at. Ike wasn't interested in that part though, the majority of the /b/tards online didn't even catch the stuff she'd type in next to her pictures. She was mocking them, but Ike was amongst her real target audience - if not the target.
They've known each other for years, before she even did the whole 4chan gig. Though they communicated seldomly, she'd give him a piece of a puzzle now and then. A clue, and it was Ike's job to decipher it. She must have lived in the area, because the clues were always relevant to something big going down at some point in the future. Either she knew where he lived, or she knew who he was. Ike wasn't sure which one it was, but for some reason it didn't bother him that much. He didn't see her as a threat, he saw her as a guide.
Today was different though, the notification he just received was a follow up message involving the case she tipped him off about before New Years. She'd never contacted him twice about a single assignment before, which meant his suspicions were confirmed: this was huge.
Excitedly screenshotting his monitor, Ike cropped the image and got to work printing out what he had already saved. He couldn't stop thinking about all the different things he'd have to do now that the risk levels just went up another notch or two. The case was so engrossing that Ike didn't even notice the tapping at his window. It took an actual pounding for him to turn around and notice someone perched outside.
Rushing over, Ike unlocked it with a simple flick of a switch before hastily sliding it open. Once there was enough room, his friend tumbled inside and promptly shared a couple choice words with him, "Took you long enough. In about a second or two I was about to break in!"
"Calm down, I got to you in a reasonable amount of time - all things considered." Ike shot back, practically ignoring his guest in favor of his computer. The message was still left on the screen, displayed there like a trophy of sorts. He wasn't about to exit out of it just yet, if anything he wished it could be his wallpaper. "She contacted me again, some sort of address. This is the first time she's messaged me twice during an assignment."
"Who, Barrettes-Chan?" The goth replied in annoyance, "How do you know she isn't the one who's setting all this up in the first place?"
"I doubt it." Ike shook his head, waiting for the last page to print before he gathered them together and neatly shuffled them against his desk. "She's been online ever since I started using the Internet back when I was three. She's not much older than me, so there's no way she's been responsible for all that's been going on around here."
But his friend wasn't buying it, flopping into the bed before offering Ike a cheesy grin. "You just have a crush on her! A stupid eCrush, so there's no wayyyy Ms.PerfectHacker could do ANY wrong. This has to be what, the 50th time you made an excuse for her?"
Ike's face went red. That was certainly not what this was, of course not. How could someone have a crush on someone they had never met before? Crushes were meant for brainless adolescents too distracted to care about the real world. Ike had the opposite problem, he was too distracted with the real world to even care about something as petty as an "eCrush'.
Surely that's why he was blushing. Because he was angry, not flustered.
"That's absolutely not true, Georgie." Ike replied a little too quickly, speaking mostly to himself. "The facts are there, there's no refuting them. What gave you the impression that I liked her?"
Georgie smiled back at him as innocently as possible, holding onto one of his pillows as she swayed her boots in the air. "Call it girl's intuition."
"Yes, because that's totally reliable. Ugh." Ike plopped down in his seat with an aggravated huff, spinning it around until he was facing the bed. "So did you get the money?"
"Yeah, was there any doubt in your mind?" She yanked up her patched-up bag off the floor, grabbing something inside and chucking it at her friend. "I pulled off the New Years escape plan okay, how is this any different?"
Ike flinched for a second before awkwardly fumbling with the medium-sized pouch. At least its weight seemed promising.
Shooting Georgie an unamused glare, he quickly got to work counting the money. "I didn't know you'd use a rocket, by the way, you're lucky no one got hurt. But you did get the timing down and the police never caught you, so that's ultimately why I trusted you enough to handle this job."
"I got about 4000 dollars from those drunks, how much do you need?" she asked.
"Around that. And to think it would have been wasted on alcohol." Ike confirmed the amount after flipping through all the bills, and gave her a nod in approval.
Georgie tried to keep her attention directed at Ike, but she was obviously distracted. Her eyes kept going back from his counting, to his computer screen, and then to the notes on his desk. "So what's it going towards?"
Ike wasn't at liberty to say, so he offered her a somewhat polite smile before dismissing, "I can't tell you that yet. Top secret."
That didn't work at all. In fact, that smile probably made matters worse, because in an instant Georgie was up off of his bed and seething in his face. "Hey dickface! I got you that money, I think you at LEAST owe me an explanation."
A trap door would work nicely right about now, or at least that's what Ike wished for once he had a violent, temperamental goth girl glaring down at him. He knew getting more people involved was a bad idea, but he nevertheless maintained his calm, collected disposition. "This information is strictly given out on a "Need to Know" basis. You can trust me when I say anything that's relevant to what you're doing for the case I pass on to you."
"Which so far has been jack shit! I want a bigger role, I'm obviously qualified." Georgie held onto both sides of Ike's chair and flung him around, going faster and faster at every revolution. "More than that hacker girl anyway, she shouldn't even be trusted!"
Ike gripped onto the seat of his chair for dear life, kicking at his friend at every given opportunity he had. "Georgie, you don't even know her! We've been in contact for years, I know she's trustworthy. Now stop acting like a crybaby and lets get focused on where to go from here!"
Then everything came to a screeching halt, but Ike's head was still spinning as he heard a shrill voice from overhead. "I'll show you crybaby!"
Accident at Gym class, fell down the stairs, lost a bet; Kyle had already used up all these excuses whenever he walked home with a new black eye or cut lip. Fortunately for him, Gerald and Sheila would see how smug he looked whenever it got brought up and usually stopped asking about it. If there was a fight, clearly the other guy got it worse. His parents were no advocates for violence, but Sheila on the other hand held a strict philosophy that if someone clocks you? You give it back to them ten times as hard.
Kyle too held this philosophy, and it bewildered him that Cartman hadn't caught on yet. The fucker had to be a glutton for punishment or something.
Judging by his empty driveway, his parents weren't home in time too see his cuts untreated, but Ike was surely home by now. Creeping up his front steps, Kyle glanced inside to make sure the coast was clear before fishing out his keys. No one was in the TV room, so that meant he could duck into the downstairs bathroom to patch up his wounds before his little brother would notice. Doing all this sneaky shit to dodge any accusations was annoying as fuck sometimes, but a part of Kyle still loved the thrill he got from pulling it all off in the end.
Carefully unlocking the door, Kyle bolted inside and immediately went for the bathroom. On the way there, he used his sleeve to dab at his lip, checking if there was still blood. There was nothing there, so already the signs were looking good. Once Kyle shut himself in, he made work searching for any left over bandages or antiseptic to treat the gash near his eye lid. Apparently that one was an accident, or so Cartman said, but the flimsy band aid he offered wasn't cutting it. The asshole got a busted nose for that one.
Luckily, Kyle got a hold of some medical tape and a sterile square of gauze. That was the only thing that was causing him discomfort; Cartman got the worst of it in more ways than one. Nothing felt better than coming home after a good victory over that fat Nazi, and the grin stretched across Kyle's face was quite an indicator of that.
His celebration didn't last for too long however, because as soon as his focus was off his eyebrow it was directed towards the pounding coming from upstairs. Kyle didn't even notice it at first, the only thing he cared about once he stepped into the house was clearing any and all evidence of his scramble with Cartman. Placing everything back in the cabinet, he quietly exited the bathroom and crossed the foyer to make his way up the stairs. There was a second voice coming from Ike's room, clearly someone his age. A girl his age in fact, and she sounded quite irate. What was Ike even up to in there? He was way too young to be a heartbreaker.
Throwing a wrench into Ike's little date today seemed in order. Kyle wasn't one to be a dick older brother, but he was pretty sure Ike deserved it with all this secretive bullcrap going around.
Getting to the door, Kyle pressed his ear to the wood to make sure that both Ike and his little guest were still in the midst of their argument. The key to success here was waiting it out until the moment was perfect, because seeing Ike's face go white with shock would be beyond priceless. Once their voices escalated again, Kyle made a go for it and swung open the door.
But it wasn't Ike's face that went white, it was Kyle's. Either the girl disappeared or the punk ass goth kid staring right at him threw her out the open window. He didn't even have time to ask, because right after he uttered "What the..." the hooligan made a run for it.
"Hey! Get back here you little punk!" Kyle darted into Ike's room, nearly catching the kid's leg over the window sill. Apparently someone else found out about Cartman's stashed away ladder, but by the time Kyle was leaning out of the house, the kid had already scrammed off their lawn.
Kyle was left speechless. He didn't know whether to chase after the kid or to start searching for the girl. Glancing back, Ike's deadpan expression left him no clues as they searched each other for answers. They didn't even know where to start, but Kyle was the one with questions, so with a bewildered scoff he began to rant. "I've been quiet about this shit up to now, but it's starting to get ridiculous."
"I fail to see the problem with having a friend over." Ike almost immediately shot back, seeing a possible digression and going for it. "I lost track of how many times I heard a certain someone climb into your room."
Kyle choked on his retort, ready to fervently deny his brother's accusation before remembering who he was up against. Instead of contesting it, he decided that explaining himself might be more effective when it came to something this outrageous. It worked on Stan... somewhat.
"Listen Ike, I'm able to control Cartman's unpredictable behavior by letting this happen." He started out calm, but progressively got more defensive. "Wanna know the reason why this town isn't up in smoke? Because he's preoccupied now. But as far as your little friend goes? Don't think I didn't see that punk at the New Years Party after the rocket hit."
"You can't prove that, and I know very well why this town hasn't gone up in smoke yet." Ike eyed Kyle once over, grimacing once he caught sight of his brother's new cuts and bruises. "By the way, it has nothing to do with Cartman. So you really don't have to put yourself through that."
It was a curse now. Whenever Kyle tried to stay focused on the point of discussion it would ALWAYS fall back on his thing with Cartman. Whoever he was talking to made him feel like he didn't even have ground to stand on anymore by saying something like, 'You think I shouldn't do this? Well you're fucking Cartman so obviously I shouldn't listen to you.' This is what he was afraid of, but Kyle wasn't about to let his own brother use this against him. "Okay, we're not turning this around on me. I'm aware of my own shit, but we're talking about you now. What's going on Ike? Why am I hearing that you're having this kid run around stealing money for you?"
"To be honest, I didn't know the money would be necessarily stolen. I was only told that today, but I guess it's for a good cause." Ike replied, seemingly ashamed.
The younger boy brushed that off and asked Kyle his own question. "First you tell me how you found out about the money."
But Kyle wasn't in the mood to play games, "You can't hide things from me Ike, I'm your big brother. I'll find out about everything eventually, so you should fess up now to save us some time."
"Nothing I'm doing is worse than the stuff you did when you were my age." Ike said with conviction.
Taken aback, Kyle was genuinely perplexed as to why Ike seemed so reluctant to share this information with him. There was no reason for him to inject that amount of venom in his reply; it's not like he was his brother or anything. Kyle wanted some real answers, so he resorted to kneeling in front of Ike's chair in the hopes of seeing eye to eye with him. "Why do you think I fought so hard back then Ike? I didn't want you to end up having a crappy childhood like I had! I dreamed of the day you could go outside and not have to worry about getting thrown into some car to solve a mystery or waking up to find yourself in the middle of a nuclear holocaust!"
Ike could tell that Kyle was getting desperate, and he hated to see his brother so distraught. There was a time and a place for guessing games, and this was definitely not one of those times. He didn't want to perpetuate additional concern, which meant he needed to give in a little.
"Do you miss it?"
"What?" The older boy reeled his head back, not expecting to be confronted with that sort of question.
"I asked, do you miss it?"
Kyle could feel his hairs stand on end as he got up off the ground. The crazy thing was he didn't even know how to answer! Considering his disappointing vigilante stints and the whole thing with Cartman, Kyle knew there was something obviously wrong with him, but it just couldn't be this.
"Fuck no! You think I miss risking my life on a daily basis while the rest of the world panics to find a solution that's right in front of their eyes? Hell no! It sucks to be only one who makes sense. Especially when everyone else fails to realize it until the LAST fucking second! Sometimes it's exhausting to be the one who's right all the time! Sometimes you just need a break from it all!"
Ike appeared to be pleased with that response, so with a turn of his chair he went back to fiddling with his notes. "Exactly, so take your break Kyle. It's fine."
Kyle actually found himself pacing by the end of his rant. Only when he forced himself to stop did he pause to consider what his brother just implied. "Are... you telling me that there's still somethin-"
"Take your break, Kyle." The younger boy cut off in a rather snippet tone, glancing at the door to indicate this was no longer up for debate.
As tempting as it was to push the issue, Kyle knew that Ike wasn't going to budge. If there was one person more stubborn than he was, it was his little brother. There was just something to this secret that Ike desperately wanted to keep to himself, which made cracking it even more enticing.
Kyle had a sinking feeling that Ike signed up for something he just couldn't handle, at least that would explain why he kept getting pushed away. First he was reluctant to explain the rocket and now he was making excuses for his involvement in the pick pocketing scheme. There was something terribly wrong going on here, and clearly Ike didn't want to own up to his mistakes. All the pieces were finally coming together, and now Kyle was convinced that he'd have to be the one to finish this puzzle.
Now knowing what he must do, the older boy released a loud sigh before making his way out the door. He had to feign resignation for now, otherwise Ike would catch on and there would be no way to save him from his own undoing. Keeping that in mind, Kyle made sure to seal the deal by scowling at him, but then closed the door before eagerly bolting back to his room.
Chapter Four: New Kids on the Block
Cell phone, water, lighter, rope, map, compass - no wait he had an App for that. Collecting things for a mission was a lot easier now that Kyle had a smart phone. Never again would he be caught without a flashlight, map, translator, compass, or notepad. He didn't even know if he needed half of these things tonight, but one thing he learned in his years growing up in this town was that when it came to being prepared? It was better to be safe than sorry.
Sitting on his bed, Kyle changed out of his running shoes into his warmer boots. They could end up anywhere tonight, maybe even up in the mountains or in a cave. The possibilities were endless, and Kyle found himself drifting off into his own head thinking about what could happen to him. Only when heard a couple clanks and muffled curses coming from his window did he snap out of it, seemed like his best friend finally made it over to his window - that or Cartman had picked a terrible night for a romp in the sheets. One look over his windowsill confirmed it; Stan kept his word and got here in record time!
Eagerly sliding open the glass, Kyle extended a hand down to the other boy with an undeniable look of excitement strewn across his face. "This has to be a new record. I literally just called you three minutes ago."
Stan stepped inside and immediately sensed something awry. Kyle's frantic phonecall was more than just a little concerning, but judging by the way his best friend was dressed, he could tell that he was in for one hell of a night. "Well it sounded like you were about to have a heart attack! Why couldn't I just come through the front door?"
"Because I don't want Ike to know you're here." Kyle answered in between shoving his supplies into his backpack.
Well that wasn't something Stan expected to hear. Why would Ike care that he slipped through the window? He did it all the time, unless this was about something else. "Oh, so does that mean you found out more about what he's doing with that goth kid?"
Kyle threw the back pack over his shoulder. "Kind of, and it sounds pretty big."
Now Stan was genuinely perturbed. "Okay, is he in danger?"
a clear-cut way Kyle
could answer this question without sounding completely paranoid. He
believing that there was some kind of conspiracy based on a hunch he
his little brother wasn't the sanest of options that he could take.
There was no doubt in Stan's mind that Kyle could be onto something, but he didn't want either one of them to get ahead of themselves. "You know all this for a fact?"
"Dude, why would I be freaking out this much?" Kyle shot back defensively, trying to sound as collected as possible since he could tell his friend still has his doubts. "He basically told all of this to my face. What am I going to do, tell my parents? What if something big IS happening? If don't know whether I should stop him or help him!"
"Well, what do you think we should do about it?"
Kyle looked out the window, raking his mind for a solution that wouldn't cause even more trouble than this situation was already entailing. Everything he could think of involved something even more dangerous, like baiting themselves or getting a third party involved, so he turned to Stan. "What do you think? I mean, what did we used to do when this kind of shit happened?"
Stan too found himself unable to answer his own question. Any time they found themselves wrapped up in something as kids, the opportunity to solve the whole mess usually presented itself. "We just... kind of stood there. I don't know. The answers were kind of handed to us as we went along."
Well that was a new thought - maybe the way around this was still in front of their faces. Kyle was always one to over analyze things, maybe he just needed to assess what he already knew. "Okay, maybe we've already been given the answers but we just don't know how to piece them together yet." He paused, his brain coming to a complete stop as he just fell back onto his bed. "God it's been so long since we've done something like this."
Stan frowned. Though a part of him vied for the chance to take part in another adventure again, especially if it was to save Ike, this was starting to look like another bust. They've already come across several of them, each one leading to a dead end. "I'm still hesitant to believe it. I mean, how do you know it's not Ike just breaking bad?"
"Stan, remember who we're talking about." Kyle replied flatly, getting up off the bed to argue his case. "Ike wouldn't ‘just break bad'! You should have been here when I had the conversation with him. This is real. We need to get started on cracking this thing now."
The way Kyle said "This is real" sent a shiver up Stan's spine. This Ike situation felt different than their previous failed attempts, and Stan was starting to think that it was because this was no false alarm. He wasn't about to go all out on this case just yet, but if Kyle was already there, he might as well join him. "You're feeling it again, aren't you? You want this to be something big."
Kyle winced. Half of him hated thinking that Ike got pulled into something so terrible that he needed to intervene, but a part of him loved knowing that he was the only person qualified to save him. Facing Stan, he laughed nervously for a second or two before asking, sheepishly, "Don't you?"
Standing in the middle of the room, Stan couldn't help but smile back at his best friend before giving him an reassuring pat on the back. "Yeah. Let's just try to solve this before Ike gets hurt. We should be the ones to handle it, no one else should be burdened."
The night was clear, but their mission wasn't. Kyle only knew of a couple details which he hoped to weave into something more tangible, but they've worked off of less. He needed to connect what happened New Years Night, Cartman's story, and what took place in Ike's room. What he did know, is that there was one element that connected all three of those together. Their first assignment? To find the goth kid.
"So where are we going exactly?"
Kyle bought himself some time by taking in a deep breath. Sure, he could have told Stan back at the house who they were meeting and why this person had the information he did, but Kyle didn't want to start World War Three right off the bat. He needed to pick his battles wisely tonight, and they haven't even gotten into the thicket of it yet.
"We're meeting someone. He might be able to point us in the right direction."
Stan seemed to lighten up, too bad Kyle knew his enthusiasm would only be temporary. "Oh cool! You've already done your own investigating?"
"Um, yeah. Sorta." Kyle shuffled around nervously, approaching the corner he was instructed to turn into.
These back alleys in the center of town weren't the nicest places to visit in South Park. Kyle wouldn't go so far as to call them dangerous, but he always felt an eerie feeling creep up his spine when he'd have to cut through them late at night. Crime wasn't so much an issue in recent years, but he'd seen his fair share of suspicious activity around the area. Especially back here, there was a reason he knew precisely where to find this alley - he and Cartman supplied the suspicious activity once in a while.
They were approaching the end when something suddenly caught the redhead's eye, the top of a broken beer bottle.
Kyle stopped in his tracks and grabbed a hold of Stan's shoulder. "This is-"
"What's he doing here."
Cartman was glaring at Stan, hands in his pockets and feet firmly planted on the ground. To say that he wasn't pleased to see him would be an understatement, they couldn't stand within 20 feet of one another without setting the other off. The last time Kenny tried to bring everyone together again resulted in a broken wrist and a dislocated jaw. After that fight, civil conversations between the two were non-existent. Kyle could already tell he made a huge mistake by bringing them both out here, his best friend has just started sizing Cartman up.
Stan kept his eyes locked in on the fat boy, but directed his speech towards Kyle, "You can't be serious."
A countdown started somewhere in the back of Kyle's head and he knew that when it reached zero, a brawl would break out in this very alley. "Stan, just trust me ok-"
"No, don't you remember anything?" Stan cut off, turning his back to the encroaching brunet to shield him away from their private conversation. "What makes you think Cartman won't double cross us during the middle of this?"
But Cartman heard, and intentionally elbowed Stan out of the way to saddle up next to Kyle. "There won't even BE a 'middle of this' if I don't come along, asshole. Just how have you helped so far?"
Kyle in turn pushed himself away from Cartman, setting himself equidistant between the two. "This isn't a god damn contest, let's just get going."
"Listen to you! Do you not remember everything that asshole pulled when we were kids?" Stan took a step closer, speaking directly to Kyle with a voice as grave as the situation itself. "This is your little brother we're helping here, Kyle. Why would you trust him of all people with something like this?"
"Oh yeah?" Cartman loomed over the redhead into Stan's face. "Do you even know what the fuck's going on? I'm the only one here besides Kyle who's gotten a good look at this kid!"
Ducking his head down, Cartman growled into Kyle ear while keeping his eyes locked in on Stan's. "Honestly? Kenny would have been more useful tonight. Why didn't you go fetch him?"
Kyle shut his eyes in aggravation. "He didn't pick up, but list-"
He couldn't finish in time, Stan has pushed Cartman's face away from his ear and was now standing nose to nose with him. "What are you talking about?! If we're speaking on terms of 'usefulness' then I know for a fact I'm more useful than you, Fatass! Don't think we'll bail your lazy ass out when things get ugly!"
Cartman smirked into Stan's face, "Oh you mean like right now?"
00:00BOOM Stan went ass-first into the nearest trashcan.
"STOP!" Kyle clung onto Cartman's jacket and threw him away from his best friend, desperately trying to get in the middle of them. "Can you guys get through ONE NIGHT without fighting? Jesus Christ! Stop being so selfish!"
Cartman allowed Kyle to toss him away, but once Stan was back on his feet he barreled over to the fucker again. "He fucking st-"CRACK Stan didn't let him get too close, landing a punch in his gut before kicking him to the wall.
Kyle threw his hands up in the air. It was hopeless. The only place they'd get sent to tonight was the police station or the emergency room.This was the kind of action he was subject to now. The explosions weren't made of fire anymore, they were made of juvenile threats and bruised limbs. No more compelling plots or intriguing mysteries. His life had turned into nothing more than a high school drama. He stormed away from the alley to let Cartman and Stan duke it out. There was no way he was going to let their shit get in the way of helping his brother. It would have been nice to have help on this one, but Kyle knew he could do this on his own. In fact, it would probably be preferable to do this on his own. The best revenge would be to solve this by himself and shove it in their busted up faces. He couldn't wait.
The sound of Cartman and Stan's fight began to slowly fade into the background the further Kyle walked away from the alley, but now he was picking up on something else. Pausing, he perked his ears up in an attempt to sense where this new sound was coming from. There were two voices, both males, and it sounded like they were in the middle of a conversation.
Kyle backed up against a wall. He wasn't scared, but he didn't want to be out in the open in case these fuckers wanted to mess with him. The chatting was getting louder anyway, and Kyle could tell that they were coming out from the corner to his right. Bracing himself, he kept his breathing low until he saw two familiar looking guys come out of the adjacent alley. They were dressed head to toe in goth clothing, and they were definitely worth interrogating.
"Hey!" Kyle dared to call out, revealing himself from out of the shadows.
Startled, they two boys jumped back a feet or two and one of them actually dropped his cigarette to the ground. They obviously weren't expecting any confrontation tonight, but once they got a glimpse of where the voice came from, they seemed to be at ease.
The boy with the red highlights spoke out first. "Woah, the last time I saw you back here, you were face first in that fat kid's crotch. What do you want?"
In a normal situation, Kyle would have pummeled that kid headfirst into the nearest brick wall. However, he was more shocked that this guy actually recognized him than the fact that he saw him out here with Cartman. Apparently everyone was catching on anyway, so he decided to stick to the task. In fact, this kid was starting to look a little familiar himself, his friend too. "You're those goth kids, the ones Stan used to hang out with."
"Used to?" The taller one replied, "He still comes around once in awhile, usually bitching about you being with that Porkfucker."
"We're not talking about that God damn it." Kyle screeched, nearly losing his temper and punching this dickface as hard as he could. Taking a deep breath, he ran a hand through his hair before getting back on track. "Okay. Okay, so you know who I am, but do you even know my name?"
"Kyle, right?" the kid with the red fringe asked.
"Yeah," He confirmed, eyeing the goth boy warily. "The reason I'm out here is because Stan and I are looking for this goth kid."
Lighting up a new cigarette, the taller one looked to his friend once before turning his attention back to Kyle. "Uh huh. Why?"
"Because he's getting my brother into a lot of trouble."
"Hm. I wonder if Georgie knows him," the other goth mentioned.
Kyle snapped out of his rage induced daze. "Georgie? Who's that?"
"Oh, you don't know Georgie?" the taller one added, exhaling a line of smoke. "She hangs around your brother all the time."
"That's weird." The other boy commented, flipping his hair out of his face before shooting Kyle an an unimpressed look. "I thought you loved getting yourself wrapped up in other people's business. I thought you'd know her by now."
Gritting his teeth, Kyle ignored the red haired goth and instead turned his attention to the taller one. "You said 'she', so Georgie's a girl? How do you know her?"
"Georgie lives with us, we've known her since Kindergarten." He exhaled a line of smoke, nodding towards the opposite side of town. "Stan should know her too."
Kyle glanced back to the other end of the alley where the fight was still taking place, wondering if his best friend knew something important and didn't even realize it. Directing his attention back to the goths, he took a step closer, letting his guard down enough to get the information he needed out of them. These goths were the best help he had so far. "Where is she? Can I talk to her?" he pleaded.
Both of the goths knew Kyle meant no harm, so after giving one another a confirming glance the taller one informed, "We just dropped her off somewhere, she goes off on her own a lot. We don't ask her questions when it comes to these things."
It turned out Kyle didn't need Stan or Cartman after all. "Where."
After asking a few more questions and receiving a sketchy address, Kyle was on his way to uncovering the first part of this case - who was Georgie and what did she know about the goth kid? One of the things Kyle hated most about these kinds of missions was the chain of people he usually had to sift through before finding the right guy, but he was running out of options and had little to go on in the first place.
First of all, Kyle only recently discovered that Ike hung out with girls. Secondly, there was a good possibility that Georgie was the goth kid. If this was the case, it would explain the girl's voice in Ike's room and why Stan didn't think that he knew her. This entire time, Kyle was thinking this kid was another boy.
But he couldn't jump to conclusions just yet; the worst thing he could do at this point was to get his hopes up and then come to a dead end. The signs were looking good though. There was a sense of urgency in his step which made it difficult for the other two fuckers to catch up.
"Would you stop your groaning and catch up already?" Kyle yelled back to Stan and Cartman, not daring to look at either one of them as he made his way past the center of town. "I don't know why I even bothered bringing you guys along. It's obvious that you'd rather beat the shit out of each other than help me out anyway."
Stan sighed, "Kyle you know it's not like that..."
"Yeah he started it!" Cartman bumped into his shoulder.
That's the last thing Kyle wanted to hear. Before another fight could break out, he whipped his head around and hurled himself into the fat boy's chest, grabbing a hold of his shirt and spitting into this face. "I could care less about who the fuck started it! So shut the fuck up and stay focused!"
Shoving him aside, he gave both Cartman and Stan the most venomous look he could muster before fixing his coat collar. The last person anyone would want to mess with was a pissed off Kyle Broflovski, and while Stan was well aware of this fact, Cartman seemed a little slow on the intake. That was okay though, because Kyle secretly loved reminding him once in awhile.
The night took a turn for the better once Kyle exerted himself. The only sound he could hear was the of treading their own footsteps - no more pointless banter, no more disagreements. Kyle was in no mood for any further interruptions, whether it be from his two friends or anyone else out here tonight. There was only one person he really wanted to talk to and it was this Georgie character.
Finding themselves at the edge of town, Kyle repeated the address to himself before realizing that he knew what this place was all along. All three of them had been here before.
Glancing up at the building, Kyle stood in front of it with a dumbfounded look across his face. Nevertheless, he signalled back to the two other boys and confirmed their arrival, "This is it."
Cartman too seemed off-put by this sudden turn of events. "Carl's Warehouse? I haven't been here in ages, figures some weird goth girl would use a condemned building as her spooky ass hide out."
"This is where those two goth guys said they dropped her off." Kyle shrugged, precariously taking a step closer. The whole place was fenced off now and there were numerous "No Trespassing" and "Keep Out - Building Scheduled for Demolition" tacked onto the wire barbing. Notably, however, was a person-sized hole torn open in between two posts.
"Who off?" Stan asked before Kyle could get a closer look.
"A girl named Georgie," He replied, gazing back at his best friend with a raised brow. "They said you'd know her?"
Stan did a double take. "Georgie? She's involved in this too? I didn't know she had anything to do with this! I hardly see her around as it is!"
Coming up from behind, Cartman eyed Stan accusingly before rushing to Kyle and tugging him in closer. "Wait, so Stan knew the goth kid all along?"
"Don't get ahead of yourself Cartman," Kyle yanked his hand away, gaging the size of the hole in the fence before stepping in. "I don't know if Georgie is this goth kid or not."
The larger boy shot Stan a pointed look, clenching his firsts and staring into him as though he was saying ‘I knew you weren't good for anything'.
But he didn't want to waste any more time or energy on the fucker, so he followed Kyle into the lot. "Yeah. To be honest, I couldn't really tell if the fucker was a boy or girl or what- god damn it this hole is small!"
"Well we're about to find out," Kyle sounded out, reluctantly offering Cartman a hand before the fat boy intentionally fell on top of him.
"Gah! Jesus Cartman, would it kill you to lose 50 pounds?"
"Ugh, sorry Jewface. It's probably due to all my bruises and swelling from the fight and well..." Cartman smirked down, grinding into him once as he wiggled his eyebrows.
Kyle just whacked him upside the face, throwing Stan an apologetic look before squirming out from the larger boy's weight. "Georgie's in here somewhere..." he immediately changed the subject, brushing himself off as he continued toward the rusted entrance. "Something tells me she definitely knows something."
Stan welcomed the digression and shown his flashlight on the door, the lock had already been broken off. "I guess we can start here."
Something shimmered next to the sidewalk. Upon picking it up, Kyle noticed that it was the broken padlock. The loop was cut in half and the judging by the roughness of the grooves, it looked like someone hacked it off in a hurry. "Someone's inside, we better be careful. She might not be alone."
"Psh, guys. Seriously?" Cartman stepped past Stan and Kyle. "We're talking about a little skanky goth girl who stays out late and gets her older boyfriends to drop her off at random places. She's probably here with her preteen friends for a poetry reading or a séance at best, you're acting like this is some high risk thing. What are you afraid of, her casting a spell on you? Sheesh."
Not giving a single fuck, he threw open the doors and watched as they ricocheted off the peeling walls behind, a cloud of dust forming around him as he yelled into the seemingly empty warehouse. "Hey Georgie! Stop sucking on Edgar Allen Poe's ghost dick and get over here!"
"Cartman!" Kyle bolted in, grabbing a hold of the the idiot and swinging him around. "What do you think you're doing!?"
But the larger boy just laughed at Kyle's angered whisper, releasing himself before strolling into the middle of the barren space. "See, I knew you guys were over reacti-" WHAM!!
Something happened. All Kyle heard was a loud metallic pang and a wheezing sound before something or someone landed on the floor. He couldn't see where Cartman went or who or what interrupted him. The warehouse was pitch black, and the light of the moon only cracked through a small portion of the open door.
"Eric?" Kyle called out in terror, anxious to see if the other boy was okay.
"Wait, hold on!" Stan opened the door all the way and ran inside. With the space more illuminated, they could spot Cartman sprawled out on the ground, out like a light.
"Oh my-" Kyle gasped, his hands reaching for his gaping mouth before he attempted to run forward.
"No! Wait her-"
The door slammed closed, and now the both of them were left standing alone in the center of the darkened room.
"What the fuck is going on?" Stan yelled out into the warehouse expecting a reply, his voice echoed off the barren walls instead.
Kyle threw his backpack to the ground and started searching through it. "Stan, here take this." He nervously handed him a flashlight, "Cartman? Are you ok-"
"ERGH!" Stan groaned from overhead, the flashlight falling to the ground as he overheard his friend getting attacked from behind. This was no goth girl. Whoever had a hold of Stan had the strength to not only knock out Cartman, but apparently put up a good fight.
This was all wrong. There wasn't actually supposed to be a real threat to this mission, this was supposed to be some dumb thing that Ike got himself into that they were supposed to solve in one night. The last thing Kyle expected was an actual fucking element of danger. Would they make it home tonight?
"Hey, HEY! Get the fuck off him asshole!" Kyle cried out, springing off the floor and latching himself onto the first person he could find. Thankfully it was Stan, and he pulled as hard as he could to hopefully dislodge his best friend from their assailant. His fists clung onto Stan's arm as he continued to yank him forward, but try as he might, the attacker still had a better hold of him. What was more concerning was that Stan wasn't saying anything, Kyle could only hear muffled screams and curses.
Overtaken by a rush of adrenaline, Kyle realized that the fucker must have been trying to suffocate him with something. Not letting the gravity of the situation slow him down, he pounced forward and now gripped onto the attacker's arm, prying it off Stan's face before he felt an increasing, unmovable weight slump onto him.
Tilting backwards, it wasn't until Kyle hit the ground that he discovered the dead weight was actually Stan.
"Stan, STAN!" Kyle instantly rolled up off the floor, hovering over his best friend and giving him a couple hard shakes. Checking his pulse, Kyle breathed a sigh of relief when he felt a steady rhythm twitching from underneath his fingers.
Suddenly, a flash of orange flickered from up above. To his shock, the assailant was still standing next to them, smoking and glaring down at them with an unpredictable glare.
The cigarette's light only barely outlined some of his features, but Kyle had seen that face before. He could also tell that the boy was hesitant to strike him the same way he did the others, his stance defensive and expression tense.
Shaking his head, Kyle found himself asking "Why?" and fully expected a response. The only thing he could think of doing then was to cradle Stan closer into his chest, only briefly glancing back at Cartman before looking up again.
But the boy wasn't looking at him anymore, he was looking behind him.
A sense of dread overtook Kyle once he realized they weren't alone. But before he could even react, he felt something hit the back of his skull and then everything went black.
"What are you guys even doing out here? Did you have a party and not invite me?"
Kyle flashed his eyes open. The first thing he could see was the night sky, so he obviously wasn't inside the warehouse anymore. Bolting up, he checked his surroundings to see if Stan and Cartman made it out of there as well. To his relief, he found that someone had taken the time to drag all three of them to what appeared to be Starks Pond.
The other two boys appeared to still be unconscious, and judging by how clouded his head felt, Kyle couldn't tell whether he was fully awake either. The voice sounded familiar though, but only when he caught someone standing just another five feet away could he identify the caller.
"Kenny?" Kyle perked up, kneeling on the ground to further investigate his surroundings. "What's going on? Don't tell me /you're/ the one who brought us out here."
"No dude, I just got here. Craig and I are supposed to meet up, but he's not here yet."
Kenny took a seat on the nearest rock, eying the three of them suspiciously before giving off a laugh, "Weird to see the three of you together, did you just come from a fight? Maybe that's why you don't remember. You all got knocked out."
Kyle took a deep breath and started gathering his things, checking to see if anything was taken or left behind. "There was a fight alright, and I have to get home right now!"
"Why? What's going on?"
Once all his belongings were accounted for, Kyle suddenly realized that there was a real and disturbing possibility that those guys back at the warehouse could have traced him back to Ike somehow. With his face going white, he shot up off the ground and started rambling off hysterically, "Make sure Stan and Cartman wake up okay! Ike's in danger, Ken. I have to make sure he's still at home and safe!"
"Woah woah, hold on." Kenny got up off the stump, "Why don't you calm down first and tell me what happened."
Kyle took one hard look at the other boy and decided that like Cartman, he too wanted to know why Kenny didn't come out here to help him tonight. "Didn't you get my message? We were trying to figure out what Ike was getting into and then we were ambushed at Carl's Warehouse!"
"Wait, so you went there willingly?" Kenny asked incredulously, appearing to be more shocked that they actually went in the first place.
"Yes! Just think, what if it was Ike who went?" Kyle argued. "He would have been killed!"
"I don't know dude,but he wasn't there right?" Kenny shrugged his shoulders and then gestured towards Stan and Cartman. "Maybe that's why you guys got attacked, because you shouldn't have been there either."
"That's not what's important now! What's important is making sure Ike stays as far away from this as possible!" Kyle stepped past Kenny on his way off the watershed.
Kenny, on the other hand stayed put, fishing his phone out of his pocket before exhaling loudly. "Alright dude, it's your choice..."
"Kenny, don't even." Kyle whipped his head around, jabbing a pointed finger in the other boy's direction. "I know if Karen was in this situation you'd do the same fucking thing."
Kenny nodded, "Sure thing, you should go check up on him."
"Yeah," Kyle dismissed as he hurried off the field, only looking back once to catch Kenny on his phone as the other boys started to wake up.
The pace at which Kyle ran back to his house seemed to double every time he flashed back to the incident in the warehouse. If they were just curious onlookers, what was Ike about to experience if he was actually involved in this thing? Were those guys already there? Kyle couldn't think about it for too long without tripping over himself in absolute fear for his little brother and maybe even his parents.
He couldn't help but feel angry too. Did Ike even think about the repercussions of his actions? Did he think for a second that he and countless others could suffer from his irresponsible decisions? Now that Kyle thought of it, he didn't even see the goth kid there that night. Did they get to her first? Were those goth guys who gave him directions in on it too?
This was going nowhere. Kyle nearly kicked his mailbox on his way up his driveway in frustration. His fingernails were biting into the palms of his hands, but he was forced to release his fists to open the door. His tightened throat was ready to yell into the quiet house, but Kyle stopped himself the moment he realized that the house in fact seemed empty. Silent even, Kyle's skin started to creep before he heard a quiet voice sound from Ike's room. He wanted to sigh, but this wasn't over yet. As happy as he was that he wasn't alone, he was had a million questions that needed to be answered.
Rushing up the stairs, Kyle reached the landing a little louder than he anticipated due to how upset he was over his brother's carelessness. He wanted Ike to know he was home, and he sure as hell wanted him to know that he wasn't fucking pleased at the moment. But Kyle also wanted to know who the fuck he was talking to, and unfortunately he was shit out of luck about that because at the first creek of the floorboards the voice dropped.
Kyle didn't have time for games, so with a troubled exhale he grabbed a hold of the door handle and threw open the door.
Perched there, facing the door as though he'd been waiting like this all night, Ike stared down his brother with an unmistakable, accusatory scowl of "what did you just do".
"What's that supposed to mean?" Kyle responded, reading his brother like a book. He steadily closed the door behind him, prepared for a long discussion as he stood his ground.
Ike didn't say a word, his firmly set frown was the only response he had to offer as he swiveled around and faced his computer.
Kyle was seconds away from shoving the entire content of Ike's desk onto the floor. How could he dismiss his own brother so carelessly? Especially after what he had been through tonight! Stomping over to the desk, Kyle grabbed a hold of Ike's chair and swung him back again, staring down at him with a scolding look on his face. "Start talking! You obviously know what happened, why were we attacked?!"
Ike didn't look phased in the least. He actually looked like he was holding back a laugh because the answer was apparently so simple. "Because you weren't supposed to be there."
"Who WAS supposed to be there? You?" Kyle snapped, ready to loose it over how nonchalant his little brother was taking this whole ordeal. "Thank GOD you weren't, or else YOU'D be attacked!"
Despite Kyle's elevated stress, Ike still seemed entirely unmoved by his brother's anger as he replied with a level voice. "No I wouldn't of, because I'm the one who arranged that meeting. Unfortunately everything got set back because they had to make sure you guys were out of the way..."
Kyle's eyes widened, realizing that Ike actually knew the identity of the people who ambushed them. "How do you know who 'they' are?"
"Because I hired them."
"To do what?!"
Ike closed his eyes, folding his hands across his lap as replied punctually. "That's classified."
"Fuck that!" Kyle combated with a shout. Apparently The name of the game tonight was to infuriate and confuse him to the point of breaking. "You're only eleven! You shouldn't have to do anything remotely 'classified'!"
"False." Ike immediately replied, staring straight up at his older brother. "You were only nine years old when you dealt with top secret missions like Imaginationland and The Peruvian Epidemic. I don't see why this is any different."
Kyle just shook his head, letting go of the chair as he began to mindlessly pace about the room to get his thoughts straight. "Because you're my little brother and these sorts of things should be left to my friends and I! We're the experts!"
"Not anymore." The younger boy spoke up.
Ike swiveled back around, ignoring Kyle's exasperated expression in favor of nipping this whole thing in the bud. "You've outgrown your position since, as you're aware, this sort of job shouldn't be left to an adult."
Kyle, in contrast, couldn't ignore the absurdity of that statement, especially coming from someone as smart as his little brother. "That's ridiculous! Where do you get that logic from?!
"Did the adults ever help you when you were kids? No." Ike began his explanation, having prepared this speech for quite some time. "They were always too busy fighting over what to do or how to do it. Our parents couldn't come to a decision quick enough because they were too busy fighting amongst themselves, and even the solutions they came up with were flawed. That happened tonight with you and your friends too, it's been obvious for a while now that you're all too busy with your own personal drama to care about the town."
The truth in Ike's statement was enough to give Kyle a considerable amount of pause. What terrified him the most was how right he was. Never before did he consider the fact that the reason nothing seemed to happen anymore was because he wasn't playing close enough attention. After puberty, everything seemed to more focused around his own needs instead of the needs of the town, but Kyle didn't see this as a bad thing. He needed to grow up eventually, but what did growing up mean? Turning selfish? That couldn't be right, but the evidence was laid out right before his eyes. Ike was apparently attentive enough to know exactly why Kyle and his group ultimately failed tonight. "Wait, how did you know we were fighting?"
Ike grinned back, seemingly at peace with himself and the situation as he humbly got out of his chair. Before he could answer his brother's question though, he heard his phone vibrate on his desk and promptly checked to see who it was. Nodding at the message, he pocketed it and directed his attention outside the window. "The town's in good hands Kyle. Now if you'll excuse me, my ride's here."
Kyle was almost dumbstruck enough to let Ike past him, but through a fleeting moment of clarity he realized that it was AM hours on a schoolnight."Ride? It's past midnight? Where in the hell are you even going?"
"Benny's has a late night special on weekdays." Ike responded rather matter-of-factly, slipping past his older brother out the door. "and I'm going to need a sufficient amount of coffee to stay up late and clean up the mess you and your friends made. Cover for me."
"You know, I can help if you'd let me." Kyle pursued Ike down the stairs, keeping his voice to a minimum as he tried to convince him of his usefulness. We should work on this together, I have experience! Things might run more smoothly this way. I don't let my emotions get the best of me like the others do!"
Ike shrugged into his coat, grabbing his hat and scarf before opening the door. "I know you care Kyle, I'm not doing this to piss you off. There's a reason you and your friends shouldn't be involved. Eventually I'll have to pass this responsibility down too."
Both boys peered outside at the black Saturn stalling on the other side of their lawn. Henrietta was waiting in the driver's seat with the goth kid waving to him impatiently from the back.
As downtrodden as he felt, Kyle couldn't help but laugh. "So that's Georgie?"
"Yeah. She's kind of a spaz." Ike threw his scarf around his face to hide his bashful grin.
Kyle just shrugged, holding the door open for him as he fumbled with his hat. "As long as she's capable."
"Definitely capable. I'll see you in the morning, Kyle." And with a passing, reassuring glance, Ike was out the door.
Everything seemed calmer then, as though the last storm of the season just passed and Kyle didn't know whether or not he needed to worry about the next one. He didn't know how he felt about living blissfully unaware of the catastrophes Ike and the kids after him would prevent, but he knew that it wasn't his place to be concerned anymore. With a grown up life came grown up problems, but why did grown up problems seem so... juvenile?
"Mystery solved then?"
Kyle nearly screamed in horror at the unexpected voice, but thankfully he shut himself up because that unexpected voice was Cartman's and his parents would not appreciate seeing him lingering outside with someone like him at 2am. "What the fuck are you doing here?"
"Like I'd just go home after that. I woke up at Starks and you were nowhere to be found. Kenny had to take Stan back to his house. He was awake but completely out of it, but I'm sure he'll call you in the morning." Eric exhaled, rolling his eyes before returning his attention back to Kyle. "So! Are you over being a depressed lump of crap?"
"Fuck you, I was never depressed." Kyle shot back, but then took a deep breath before walking back inside, holding the door open for the other boy. "But I guess I'm less stressed now."
"Sweet." The larger boy replied, shifting around for a second before getting to his point. "Wanna fuck?"
Kyle locked the door and sighed exasperatedly, silently understanding that he'd have to be satisfied by these kinds of thrills from now on. Whatever, as long as he got to keep Cartman under his thumb he guessed worked just as well...
"Not really, but I will."
For those of you interested in my Märchen series, Midwest Arc is going to be edited this summer. I'm fitting it into the current canon which means 200 and 201 will be accounted for. The word count will also be reduced significantly, Weinachtsmarchen will be incorporated into it, and this story will be molded into chapter one of the new sequel! Thanks everyone for reading!
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