Stan Marsh sipped at his strawberry milkshake; he was nearing the end and trying to make it last. He was failing to do so though, and inadvertently gulped down the better part of what was left. He, Kenny, and Cartman were waiting for Kyle at "Jelly's," the diner that they regularly frequented. It was by the park, not too far from their high school, and cheap without being too nasty, so pretty much everything a group of teenage boys needed in a diner.
It was the end of Winter break and they'd decided to meet up now that they were all back in town. There were only two days until school started, and Stan really wished he were back up in the mountain skiing. Kenny, on the other hand, had had to stay in South Park with hardly any of his friends around, he was more than excited by the prospect of going back to school, if only for the social contact and having something to do other than sit in the park all day watching squirrels and freezing his butt off.
"You don't think they brainwashed Kyle at that Jew Scouts thing, do you?" he asked, bouncing in his seat.
"Ha!" exclaimed Cartman, "They did worse than that! I'll bet it was an undercover concentration camp and we never see him again. At long last, that Jew-rat will be out of my life!"
"Shut the fuck up, Cartman," said Stan, more bored than anything else. He was fed up with waiting for Kyle, he should have been there nearly an hour ago, and Kyle was never usually late.
"Hey guys!" called Kyle's voice from behind Stan.
"Finally," said Stan as he turned around.
He did a double take.
There was Kyle, his best friend, maybe looking a little taller than he had two weeks ago, but that much wasn't out of the ordinary, at 16 they were all hitting various growth spurts from time to time. What surprised Stan was, firstly, the out of breath, down-right rumpled look Kyle had about him. Then there was something he just could not look past: the girl standing next to him. And their joined hands.
The girl smiled at them. It was a casual, comfortable smile with a small hint of shyness to it that could easily have been missed. Her shining blue eyes studied them closely, while still seeming to encompass a greater picture, as if she were trying to take in as much as she could.
"This is Stacy," said Kyle, "Stacy, this is Stan, my best friend; Kenny, another good friend – ignore him if he propositions you – and Cartman, that asshole who's always hanging around with us."
"Damn, girl is fine!"
"Uh, nice to meet you Stacy."
Stacy's smile grew. "Nice to meet you guys too." She had a low, raspy voice. A sexy voice; the masculine tint only increased its sex appeal.
She and Kyle slid into the booth, next to Stan, who scooted along to make room. Kyle slid his arm over Stacy's shoulders.
The waitress Kenny had flirted with earlier spotted the new arrivals and quickly skipped over. "Can I get you anything?"
"Have what you want, Stace, I'm buying," said Kyle, squeezing her shoulder.
"Really? Thanks! I like the look of the milkshake Stan just had."
"OK, then, two strawberry milkshakes," Kyle told the waitress with that easy smile he had that seemed to make any woman adore him. It wasn't the sort of smile you saw on your average awkward and gawky sixteen-year-old, it was the smile of a bright young man, the kind who was going places. That's probably what got to them; Kyle could not only give you the feeling he was going places, but that he'd take you there. His charm seemed particularly effective on bored housewives (which, most unfortunately included Stan's mother more often than not) and certain girls their own age, the smart ones, the ones who had dreams of getting out of some nondescript redneck mountain town. Stan wished he could say he was immune to that smile, but the truth was it had inspired fantasies of going places in him too.
Whatever, all that really mattered right now was that the smile's peculiar qualities meant their milkshakes would come faster.
"So Stacy," said Kenny, leaning forwards, "You wouldn't happen to go for blonds would you?"
Stacy laughed. It wasn't a girlish giggle, she wasn't holding back or trying to sound cute. It was a deep, honest chuckle. Clear as a bell and musical as hell.
"As flattered as I am, Kenny, I've gotta admit I'm way more into redheads." She turned to gaze at Kyle, who immediately locked into her stare. They leaned in and gave each other a quick peck.
"Dude!" cried Stan.
"Dude!" was Stacy's answering cry, as she turned to face him.
"And here are your 'shakes!" called the waitress, interrupting whatever awkward conversation might have started. She glanced Kyle's way, but had her attention diverted by Cartman who wanted more hot wings. Because five plates just isn't enough for a growing boy. "I need food; I'm gonna hit my growth spurt any day now, you gahs, seriouslah."
"So Stan," said Stacy, "Kyle tells me you two have been best friends since, like, kindergarten. I bet you have a whole bunch of embarrassing stories to tell!" Her tone was playful, her smile comfortable, her expression and posture relaxed and easy. Stan found himself warming up to her despite himself.
"Oh, you don't know the half of it," he stage-whispered to her.
"Great, my best friend and girlfriend joining forces against me," said Kyle, rolling his eyes. They could tell he was joking though, and ignored him; he'd always been a little too dramatic for his own good.
Stacy took off her blue beanie hat, shaking her hair free from its "hat hair" state. She had long black hair, like Wendy, except it was nothing like Wendy's. Wendy's hair was thick and full, with luscious waves. Stacy's was straight and layered, making it look kind of spiky. It was probably how Stan's hair would look if it were that long.
She shrugged out of her maroon jacket, in much the same way Stan had the habit of doing. Shrugging then shaking their arms out of it, and letting it fall behind them, scrunched up between their back and their seat.
Underneath, Stacy was wearing a tight, red V-neck sweater. It clung snugly to her body, she didn't have much cleavage, but anyone could appreciate she was hot.
"Tell me, Kyle, did you meet this chick at that faggy Jew camp of yours?"
Kyle rolled his eyes. "Shut up, Cartman. And no, her parents had forced her into going to the Bible Camp across the lake; we both sneaked out practically every night to see each other." This recollection prompted them to once again gaze into each other's eyes for a moment, then lean in to kiss. This time, though, the kiss was longer.
Cartman to loudly clear his throat. "Bitch, if you really insist on trying to catch Judaism, could you at least not do it in front of me?"
"Don't call me a bitch, fat boy." Stacy's response was calm and collected, she wasn't going to let Cartman get to her. She even squeezed Kyle's knee, hoping to calm him, seeing as he looked just about ready to blow up at Cartman. It was better for him to have some one who had a calming effect on him – like Stan or Stacy – around when dealing with Cartman, it avoided quite a lot of blood spill.
"Well, you got a vagina, what else am I supposed to call you? Ho? Cunt? I usually go with "Bitch" for girls I don't completely hate, and I don't know you enough to decide how much I hate you yet."
Stacy ignored him and turned to Kyle. "He's even more fucked up than you said he was."
Kyle nodded sorrowfully. "No description could do justice to that level of insanity."
"Ay! Don't blame me if your feeble little Jew-mind is too small to fully grasp a concept."
"Shut up, Cartman," said Stan and Stacy in unison, with the same bored tone. They looked at each other, both with a confused expression, then smiled. Sure, it was kind of weird, but it had been cool.
"Dude, burn," offered Kenny, slapping Cartman on the back.
Cartman only mumbled something to himself about stupid Jews, and their stupid girlfriends.
Stacy had to leave early. She only lived a thirty minute drive away from South Park, but she had a lot of reading to catch up on for when school started again – she hadn't done much reading in the last week she'd spent with Kyle.
"Isn't she great, you guys?" asked Kyle, as they left the diner and stepped out into the street, his voice was practically soaring from how happy he felt.
"Pssh, dumb bitch is damn annoying." They collectively ignored Cartman.
"I think she's awesome," offered Stan, "Really cool."
Kenny remained silent for a while but then made his signature "hmm" sound that more often than not indicated he was getting into pretty deepthought about omething.
"What is it, Kenny?" asked Kyle. He was a little worried, that "hmm" couldn't be good, and he did sort of care about what the guys thought about Stacy. Except Cartman, Cartman could shove his opinions up his own ass and go to hell for all he cared.
"Well..." started Kenny.
"Yeah?" Kyle was getting more anxious.
"Doesn't she remind you of anyone?"
"Huh?" Nope, Kyle was not getting it.
"You mean you don't see it?"
Kenny ignored him. "What about you, Stan? Do you see the resemblance?"
"Wow," said Kenny. He shook his head and chuckled. He didn't think his friends were dumb, they were just probably to close to the situation to notice.
"What about you Cartman, do you see the resemblance?"
"Look, if you aren't gonna make any sense then you just shut your goddamn poor mouth, you – Oh!" Cartman stopped in his tracks, "Oh, yeah! Yeah, I see it." Cartman smirked evilly. Kyle was really begin to feel unnerved by then.
"Doesn't Stacy remind you of anyone?" asked Kenny again, "Some one we know?"
"No," Kyle just looked puzzled. "Who?"
Kenny laughed. "Dude, if you can't figure it out, I'm not telling you!"
"Then tell me, Kenny," said Stan.
"No way, both of you are going to have to figure this out for yourselves." He and Cartman shared a look, laughed at them, and walked on ahead.
"Sometimes I really don't get those guys," said Stan, falling into step with Kyle.
Kyle sighed. "Neither do I." He slung his arm over Stan's shoulders. It was a casual gesture, and Stan didn't react, because it was something they always did, ever since Kyle's last growth spurt had brought him to the perfect height for it.
And if it was just that little bit too similar to the way Kyle had put his arm over Stacy's shoulders earlier, neither of them noticed.
Stan stretched leisurely as the sun's rays poured over him. The window they'd placed in their slanted ceiling always let the light shine through into the bedroom around mid-morning. It had been Stan's idea; waking up like this in L.A. on a weekend morning was one of the highlights of his immensely enjoyable twenty-eight year old's lifestyle.
He threw his arm over the left side of the bed, surprised to find it empty. After rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, he sat up and smirked as he observed the rumpled sheets. He sure knew what had gone on last night, it was just a shame there would be no repeat performance. He didn't dwell on it though, as the scent of pancakes filled the air. It was all the motivation he needed to get up. He glanced down over the balcony of their mezzanine – also his idea, knocking through that wall had really lit up the lower floor – but the living room was void of life, all he could hear were noises coming from the kitchen. He hastily grabbed a discarded pair of pyjama pants, pulling them on as he clambered down the spiral staircase. Were he more awake, he would probably have run through the short but narrow corridor and around the sharp corner, as he was used to doing. Yet he still burst into the kitchen in less than a minute, thanks to his eagerness.
He was greeted by the vision of Kyle's shirtless back as the latter tended to the pancakes on the stove. He knew Kyle had heard him, even if he wasn't turning around. Hell, the guy probably had a smile on his face, he loved it when Stan did this. Stan moved forwards, with incredible ease for someone who'd just rolled out of bed, and came up behind Kyle. He brought his hands to Kyle's waist and slowly rubbed them up Kyle's torso as he pressed his body into that strong, lean back. Stan let his head fall onto Kyle's shoulder, and tilted it so as to nuzzle into his neck.
"Hey baby, what's cooking?"
Fifteen-year-old Stan Marsh jolted upright in his bed. His old double bed, not the queen size he'd thought he was in earlier. There were no soft rays of sunlight coming in though some huge industrial-looking window with panes that formed crazy patterns; there was Colorado snow on his rickety windowsill. He was in his bedroom, the one that he'd known since he was three; he was not in the mezzanine of some crazily stylish apartment, all angles and designer furniture, colour-coordinated and open-planned. It wasn't even a weekend morning, it was Monday, and the first day of the new semester.
He was, however, wearing pyjama pants (Terrence & Philip ones, but pyjama pants nonetheless.) He wouldn't be for long though. He glanced under the covers and saw the messy results of a wet dream, confirming the sticky sensation he'd felt. God dammit, was he really that full of hormones? It really didn't take much to get him off. His dream had been so tame and non-sexual. What had he been dreaming about? Waking up, sunshine, pancakes and... Oh, right. Kyle. Shirtless Kyle. Himself, also shirtless, pressed up against Shirtless Kyle. Oh. And him enjoying it. Oh.
Stan leaned over the side of his bed as his insides violently spewed out of him. Afterwards he coughed slightly, spat, straightened himself up and wiped the back of his hand across his mouth.
"Guess it's a good time to take a shower," he said to himself, his voice a little raspy. He took great care so as to side-step the unfortunate puddle, leaving it to be cleaned up later (by his mother, most likely.)
"Morning, Stanley!" called his mother as Stan sat down at the kitchen table. This level of morning cheeriness was unnatural, if you asked him. He put his head in his hands, and let his elbows slide out until it hit the table and he was simply sprawled over the table in the style of some sort of human slug. They'd had those once. Ridiculously huge human-slug hybrids, that is (genetic experiment in military research gone wrong, or something along those lines.) All the misunderstood mutants had wanted was to live like humans and have the same access to HBO or some shit; an over-turned salt truck had quickly put an end to their hopes and dreams and saved their little mountain town. Yeah, the poor creatures were misunderstood, but that didn't mean they hadn't been hostile! Those bastards had killed Kenny.
"Here you go, sweetie," Sharon practically sang as she put a plate down in front of him. Stan groggily looked up and came face to face with a plate of pancakes. The scent hit him full on, and he felt the bile burn his throat as it rose... Seconds later, the plate of pancakes was completely ruined and Stan went to school on an empty stomach. Though his mother did stick an apple in
his backpack when he wasn't looking, motherly note and all.
Stan still felt a little shaky once at his locker, dumping off all the books he didn't feel he'd really need. He thought he had spotted an old comic book at the back so he stuck his head right in when he heard someone call out from behind him.
Stan jumped in surprise and banged his head on the top shelf of his locker.
"Dude. Lame." Kyle slapped him on the back and laughed at his friend's misfortune.
"Thanks for the compassionate understanding," muttered Stan rubbing the sore spot forming on his scalp, though he was smiling at his best friend.
"Yeah, I'm awesome like that. Anyway, you will not believe what my mom said this morning! And just because I was holding Ike by his ankles over the stairs..." Kyle recounted his tale as they walked to class, and, as Stan listened, any awkwardness he might have felt completely evaporated. Their friendship was so comfortable, Stan thought to himself -- while Kyle embarked on a tangent rant regarding his mother's minivan – that awkwardness didn't stand a chance of coming between them.
"... and then my dad just gave up and made us waffles for dinner." Kyle finished his story with a hopeless sigh,"I've pretty much given up on them ever functioning like a normal couple."
"But, dude, I thought you didn't like waffles?"
"Yeah, I like pancakes a whole lot better."
Stan felt bile rise in his mouth and stopped in his tracks.
"You OK, dude?" Kyle put his arm around him and rubbed his back comfortingly.
"Yeah," Stan choked out, then gulped cleared his throat and said, "fine," more convincingly.
They were now by the door of Stan's Geometry classroom, Kyle checked his watch. "I'd better hurry if I want to make it to Calc. on time; I'll see you later."
He and Stan exchanged the short version of their special handshake – a mix of viril fist-bumping and slightly more jazzy hand gestures – and then Stan was left to stare after his best friend making is way down the hall, to stare at his retreating back...
Stan quickly turned away and headed into the classroom, not wanting to dwell on that weird dream again.
He took a seat at the back of the room next to Kenny, who was leaning back against the wall in his chair with his arms tucked in behind his head. He opened his eyes as Stan sat down.
"Did Kyle walk you to class?" he asked.
"Hello, and good morning to you too, asshole. And, yeah, he did, why?"
Kenny let his chair fall back onto all four legs and shrugged. "Just asking." But he couldn't hide his smirk.
"You're full of shit, Kenny."
Unexpectedly, Kenny's smirk fell very suddenly. "I know." His voice held a sobriety that was extremely rare for him.
"Dude, I didn't mean it like that, I was just ripping on you."
"Yeah, I know," he repeated, he didn't even sound sad this time, just sort of hopeless.
"Dude, look, I'm sorry."
"It's not you Stan. It's just... I've been thinking. Hear me out, OK?" Stan nodded. "Well, I was thinking about how I'm kind of a selfish asshole."
Kenny held up his hand, "Shh, I said hear me out, yeah?" Stan bit back his response and settled back down. "OK," resumed Kenny, "I know I'm not as bad as Cartman or anything, but think about it, when was the last time I did anything for anyone else? Anyting at all?"
"Shut up, don't try and find no exemple, we'll be here all day. All I do is dick around all dy at school, then get high, dick around some more, get in trouble for stealing booze, get some girl pregnant-"
"Don't sweat it, she got an abortion."
"Kenny... Tht's awful."
"Yeah, that's my point. What kind of asshole just doesn't give a crap about that shit?"
Stan had a passing thought for the way Kyle might say something about that being a "fecal statement" had he been there.
"No, look Stan, it's fine. I've got it ll figured out see I'm going to do some good. Like real Good Samaritan shit. And I'm going to do it for me, beause I want to. Not for Jesus or any of those other damn phonies. They wouldn't think to help an old lady cross the steet if she hd a fucking sign stapled to her ass."
"Uhh, OK," said Stan, partly because the teacher walked in at that moment, partly because he honestly never really knew what to say to Kenny when he got like that. But mostly the second part.
"Yeah, you'll see," said Kenny, more to himself than anyone else. It kind of freaked Stan the fuck out.
"So Kyle, I hear you have a girlfriend," said Bebe conversationally as she sat down next to him at lunch.
"How do you know that?"
She shrugged. "News travels fast. Especially when it has the words "Kyle Broflovski" and "girlfriend" in it."
Kenny, who was sitting opposite them, laughed into his milk. Stan, who was next to him scowled. It was true, Kyle did have a bit of a reputation as a ladies' man. The keyword being "reputation." It was Bebe's fault, actually. Rumour had it they lost their virginity to each other sophomore year. Both refused to either confirm or deny the rumour, which only fed the gossip mill even more, so both of them still had most of the school believing insane stories about their incredible – non-existent – sexual prowess. Last Kyle had heard, he and Bebe had been arrested for having sex with a panda in the county zoo on a Friday night after closing. Kyle really didn't know why the reputation stuck, all he knew was that he was still getting high-fives in the locker rooms and notes in his locker.
It didn't hurt that he wasn't too bad-looking either. He'd lucked out with his growth spurts; shooting up at the beginning of the summers and having a couple of months to work through his gangling limbs and come back in the fall filling his frame properly – and knocking everyone dead with the sight of his transformation when school started again.
Not that Stan was jealous or anything – he certainly didn't have anything to complain about in similar departments! – he was just glad his best friend wasn't stuck looking like a gangly bean sprout the way Kenny was, or an ugly butt-monkey no girl in their right mind would look twice at, like Cartman was.
Wendy – who'd been a few steps behind Bebe with her own lunch tray – set herself down on Kyle's other side, forcing Cartman to scoot over.
As was custom, Wendy ignored him.
"Tell us, Kyle, what's she like?"
"Her name's Stacy, she lives twenty minutes away from South Park, we've been together nearly two weeks."
"Two weeks?" said Bebe in on over the top squeaky voice, "In high school that's almost, like, totally forever!"
Kyle laughed along with her. That's probably why she enjoyed being his friend, he actually understood irony, pretty much any other guy in South Park would have thought she actually was an airhead who thought as much... or just not paying attention to what she had said because he was staring at her boobs.
"So when do we get to meet her?" asked Wendy.
"I don't know, I'm seeing her this weekend, but I think she wanted it to be just the two of us. So maybe the weekend after that if she comes back down to South Park again."
"Damn, I can't believe we have to wait that long!" cried Bebe.
"Who says I'm even going to introduce you?" teased Kyle.
"Like we won't spy on you guys anyway!"
"... I should have guessed as much."
Kyle and Bebe continued to bicker over the course of lunch, with Wendy occasionally joining in. Stan didn't say much, he mostly just stared over at Kyle, thinking over the supposed resemblance Stacy bore to someone. Kenny had kept up with the jokes at Stan's expense all "Seriously, dude, you don't see it?" and "have you figured it out yet? No? Wow." Apparently whatever his "epic pan" was, it wasn't distracting him from ripping on Stan. (Stan wasn't sure what was worse, the crazed mutterings about the pan or the ripping.)
And Stan was really starting to feel fed up with it all. If there's one thing he'd never been able to stand, it was being the outsider to an in-joke. And, yeah, Kyle was out of it too, but what didn't exactly help was the fact that he just didn't seem to care. At all! What was with that? Stan wondered, angrily, it was his girlfriend.
By Friday, Kyle still didn't seem to care. At least he had the distraction of seeing his girlfriend that weekend, Stan thought bitterly. They were going to spend their Friday night together, and Kyle would see Stacy all of Saturday. Stan wasn't sure what they would do, probably hang out at his house and play video games. Kyle usually slept over when they did, except he might need to get home this time, if he had to see Stacy in the morning or something. Stan would have to ask.
Fortunately they were in class and Kyle was sitting next to him. Stan poked him with a pencil.
"Ow! What did you do that for?" Kyle asked, voice hoarse with his whisper.
"Had to get your attention," Stan explained, also whispering. They were in the back and this teacher wasn't too crazy about having absolute silence in his classroom, they'd be fine.
Oh, right, Stan realized he hadn't said anything beyond that. "You're still coming over Friday, right?"
"Duh, where else would I be?" Kyle grinned at his super best friend. Stan grinned back.
"You wanna sleep over?"
"Of course I do! Why are you even asking?"
Stan shrugged. "I don't know I guess because you're going to see Stacy..."
"Marsh! Broflovski! If I could have your attention over here, please?" OK, so their teacher generally wasn't too bothered about a few exchanged comments, they couldn't push the limits that far. Both boys had been leaning in towards one another, so they sat back upright in their respective chairs.
"Sorry," mumbled Stan.
"That's better. Now, as I was saying..." Stan quickly stopped listening and gazed over to his best friend. Kyle was looking back at him. They held each other's gaze for a moment. Then Kyle stuck his tongue out at Stan. Stan laughed silently and pulled his own funny face in return. Kyle bit down on his lip to keep from laughing.
"We'll get in trouble!" he whispered, turning away. Though he sneaked a glance at Stan out of the corner of his eye.
Stan smiled. Kyle was his best friend, his super best friend. There was no way he'd lose him to some girl.
It had started raining quite heavily by the time school let out. All around Stan and Kyle kids were rushing to their cars or to school buses.
Wendy rushed passed them, holding her bag over her head. "Bye guys!" she called out, "Have a nice time with Stacy!" she added to Kyle. They watched her run through the parking lot, splashing her way through the puddles.
"I don't get why everyone minds the rain so much," said Stan, "It's not like it ever hurt anybody."
"I guess not," answered Kyle, "But you end up soaked through." He scowled and wrapped his arms around himself, wrapping his jacket closer to his body.
"So what's the big deal about getting a little wet?" Stan stopped in his tracks, big grin on his face.
"Staaan." Kyle had stopped too, and glanced back at Stan as he whined out his name. "Come on."
"Don't you think it's kind of awesome, in a way?" asked Stan, before suddenly tilting his head back – arching his whole back, even – and letting the rain fall on his face.
Kyle laughed at that. "Come on, Stan, quit it," he said, but he was smiling now and walking back towards Stan.
Stan made the most of that and leaped over to pull Kyle's hat off his head. "Guess who's gonna get all frizzy now?"
"Stan! Give that back!" Kyle was completely letting go now, trying to wrestle his hat back from Stan while laughing with abandon. They were perhaps a little too enthusiastic with their wrestling and ended up stumbling into the principal's car. Stan bounced off of it awkwardly and dropped Kyle ushanka right into a puddle.
"Shit!" he cried, and it seemed even more appropriate considering the car's alarm started to blare out.
"Dude!" cried Kyle grabbing Stan by the wrist and pulling him straight up into a run. Stan only just managed to grab the dripping ushanka before he was pulled into their gettaway. They were both athletic enough to get to Kyle's car fast enough to not get caught and not feel too out of breath either once they each slumped down in their seats to avoid being seen.
"Dude!" Kyle said again.
"I know, right?" answered Stan, trying his best not too laugh. Principal Montgomery rushed out into the rain in just his suit, getting drenched by the rain as he stood there in the parking lot, repeatedly pressing down on his keys, tryng to get his alarm to stop. Stan and Kyle could only just get a glimpse of him out of the side of the rearview mirror, but they could definitely see enough to laugh about. They were both still giggling once the Principal rushed back inside after finally getting his alarm to stop; they both felt ridiculously lucky that he hadn't come to look for whoever was responsible. He had probably discouraged by the rain.
"Well, that was fun," said Kyle, after a while, and turned his head towards Stan. They were both still slumped down in their seats, they'd slid so far down it was almost like lying down – Stan was certainly feeling sleepy.
"Yeah," he agreed, as he too turned to face Kyle, his voice kind of distant and his eyes glazed over.
They stayed that way for a long time, half staring at each other, half staring into nothing, the raindrops hitting the roof and windows the only sound around them. They were only shaken out of it once Kyle phone chimed with a text.
"Oh, shit, I'm supposed to go pick up Ike from his soccer practice. You don't mind if I drop you off quickly and come back around five, do you?"
"Maybe later, it depends on how long Mom wants to lecture me for forgetting Ike."
"Ah, I get you."
"Yeah, things have been weird at home lately, well, with my parents."
Stan raised an eyebrow. "Dude, your parents are always weird."
"Says the guy who's father spent the whole of last week dressed as Spider-man."
"Shut up," said Stan, but he was laughing.
They joked around for the rest of the drive, and when Kyle pulled up to Stan's house it was still raining.
"See you later, dude!"
"Yeah, later," said Stan with a nod. He then rushed through the rain to his front porch, just in time to turn back and watch Kyle drive away.
He stepped inside and had only just tossed his bag aside, chucked his wet shoes and coat off and slumped down on the couch, when an impressive crack of lightening and a roar of thunder startled him into sitting upright.
Dude, that had sounded really close, like, right next to the house. Stan wasn't scared, per se, he just didn't really like the idea of a storm hitting the house he was currently in. That made him sane, not scared, he reasoned. And it wasn't like anyone was around to contradict that when he jumped and squealed like a girl in fright at the sound of a knock on the door moments later.
His parents both still at work, and his sister now a freshman in college, Stan was home alone.
The knock sounded again. A set of three distinct echoing strikes on the front door. Then once more.
With a gulp, Stan got to his feet and walked over to the door.
Stan let fear take a hold over rationality and squeezed his eyes shut as he opened the door. When he peeked through his lashes he came face to face with a dark silhouette in the doorway. Stan screamed as a flash of lightening illuminated the figure from behind.
"Aw, dude! My ears!" cried the stranger as he stepped inside, pushing past Stan. Stan was left dumbstruck. "OK, that was rude of me, sorry," apologized the man, "but these shoes are suede, and the rain's already done enough damage."
In the light of the hallway – and with his fear subdued – Stan could finally get a better look at the stranger. He was a few inches taller than Stan, probably just under six foot. The stranger removed his hood, shaking his hair of a few stray raindrops. His dark hair flipping from side to side. It was the same flat, black hair as Stan's, except this guy wore it in a weird choppy style with varying lengths that Stan probably wouldn't consider for himself. Though he could admit it worked well with this guy's face. It really flattered his thin, high cheekbones; they were like Stan's...
The stranger cleared his throat. Stan had been staring. He centred his gaze and it met with a pair of deep blue eyes, quite similar to his own.
"Who the hell are you and why do you look so much like me?" Stan had meant his tone to be demanding, menacing. It came out squeaky instead.
"How the fuck do you know my name?" Stan shrieked. A strange man who looks like him comes into his house and knows him by name? Yeah, he's allowed a freak out!
"Stanley Randall Marsh." The stranger said his full name slowly, evenly.
Stan looked at him warily, though his alarm was easy to sense. He stepped back. "But... What?... How?... I..." His back hit the wall. He clenched himself against it.
"I'm not going to hurt you!" cried the stranger. It didn't sound reassuring. Not one bit, despite the fact that the guy actually seemed offended that Stan would act in a way that suggested such a thing. "What can I do to make you trust me?"
"I... uh... don't know," Stan answered, his voice still shaky.
The stranger ran a hand through his hair and sighed. "I'm from the future."
Stan just looked at the guy. His expression clearly reading "What the Fuck?" Great, this guy just had to be crazy too.
"I am!" the guy insisted, sensing Stan's disbelief. "Look at me, Stan, just look at me." Stan did and he really wasn't sure how he felt about what he saw.
This stranger, this guy who'd just walked into his house, was standing in front of him, looking uncannily like him, and smiling. Like it was all some big joke that Stan didn't recognize him.
"Are you my cousin from out of town or something ?"
The guy slapped his hand to his forehead.
"Seriously, Stan, don't you get it? I'm you."
"Ha! Nice one!" Stan laughed. Oh, he got it now, all right. "Look, dude, I've figured it out. You're another one of those lame 'Future-Selves' my parents hired to scare me into acting like a good kid."
"Uh, no, I'm really not."
"It's OK, you can drop the act now, go home, do whatever it is you do with your life. I'm sure my parents paid you in advance or something, so there's no point hanging around, dude."
"Stan, listen to me–"
"Dude, what's the point in trying to scare me with how I supposedly turn out in the future if I know you aren't my future."
"But I am!"
"No, dude, you're not. You're just some actor, hired by an agency my parents are paying to scare the crap out of me so I keep on track."
The stranger was contemplatively silent. "And you don't see anything wrong with that approach?"
Stan shrugged. "They've done worse."
"No, I mean, they've already used the Future Self thing on you once, back in Fourth Grade to warn you off drugs. Why would they use the same trick again if you knew the truth about the first time?"
Again, Stan shrugged. "Who knows? I'll bet they've completely forgotten about that first time, I had too, until about a minute ago." He turned his back on the stranger and wandered back through the living room, into the kitchen.
"Do you want anything to drink?" he asked over his shoulder? Stan's mother had managed to drill some manners into him, and, hey, even if the dude was a stranger Stan guessed he was pretty harmless and could probably do with a drink anyway.
Future-Stan sighed in defeat. "Sure, whatever."
Stan poured out two glasses of orange juice, his future self could have done with something stronger but he still chugged it gratefully nonetheless.
"So what is it my parents wanted to steer me away from this time?" asked Stan, sitting on the counter top, legs swinging, "Not drugs again?"
Future-Stan shook his head. "There isn't anything to steer you away from."
"Weird. The last guy started on how pot had ruined his life less than five minutes in."
"I'm not like the last guy. I'm not an actor, I'm the real thing."
"Yeah, yeah, sure you are." Stan studied the man in front of him closely, looking for clues in his appearance that might give Stan some indication regarding what his parents wanted him to avoid in life. Nothing seemed out of place. He was in good shape, had near flawless skin, and certainly carried himself well. The only thing that stuck out were the clothes, especially when you lived somewhere like South Park. The lilac scarf-type-thing would definitely get you beaten up at South Park High, or the local bar (where they "don't take kindly to yer kind 'round here," regardless of what "yer kind" is anyway though.) The white T-shirt with some kind of graphic print of a woman's face on it wasn't exactly the most masculine thing either. It's blue undertones complimented the scarf and went with the plain navy hoodie – though Stan couldn't quite admit to himself that he'd noticed that. The light blue jeans were many shades lighter than any pair Stan owned, and definitely tighter. Apart from the hoodie, the only clothes that looked like anything Stan might have in his wardrobe were the plain white socks, the ones that covered the pair of feet that were nervously scuffing at the floor.
"Dude, are you here to warn me off faggy clothes or something?"
"Hey! I'd appreciate it if you refrained from using that word!"
"Seriously, I have never talked like that, and I never will. You're really doing a crappy job here."
Future-Stan was about to protest when they heard the door open.
"Stan!" called Sharon, "Come help with the groceries will you?"
With one final look at his future self, Stan left to help his mother. Only seconds after he left the room, Sharon entered with the first set of bags.
"Oh!" she cried, upon spotting Future-Stan, "I didn't see you there." She searched his face for anything familiar but couldn't seem to place him. She would have thought him to be her son, but she just crossed Stan's path in the living room, so it couldn't be him...
"Sharon, it's me Brian." It killed Future-Stan to lie to his own mother, but he'd decided beforehand that it would be for the best.
"Oh, of course, Brian! I'm sorry I didn't recognize you straight away, it's been so long. How have you been?"
"Great, I, uh, was passing through the area and thought I might stop by, hopefully that's all right with you...?"
Sharon was suddenly flustered. "Of course it is Brian, of course! You just stay here as long as you like, you're more than welcome to be a part of the family." She smiled and ruffled his hair, remembering the way she'd done it when Brian had been a boy. He'd certainly grown up into quite a handsome young man, though she never remembered him looking quite so much like Stan...
"How's your mother?" she asked.
"She's OK, I guess. To be honest I'm not on the best of terms with her, I haven't even spoken to her in months." Future-Stan knew it was a low blow. Sharon and her sister really didn't get along and hadn't spoken in years, not since their father had died. Future-Stan knew Sharon wouldn't be in contact with her sister any time soon, which would keep his disguise working.
Sharon seemed almost quite pleased to hear he wasn't speaking with his mother. "Really?" she asked.
"Yeah, to be honest, I'm kind of glad to be away from her. I get to catch up with you and your family." OK, so maybe he was laying it on a bit thick, but he knew his mother, and he knew she enjoyed flattery. It seemed to do the trick too, as Sharon's polite smile turned into a full grin.
Just then Stan walked in, balancing several – too many – grocery bags in his arms.
"Stanley! You didn't tell me Brian was here!"
"Yes, Stan, your cousin Brian." Sharon rolled her eyes. "He's going to be staying with us for a while." She punctuated her sentence with an adoring smile in Brian's direction. He was a very handsome, polite-looking young man. If Stan could grow up to be just half that...!
"Huh?" Stan was feeling seriously confused at that point. Why would his mother tell him the actor was his cousin if he was supposed to be posing as Stan's future self? This was really all too fucked up.
"Why don't you and Brian go up to your room, Stan?" suggested Sharon, "I'm sure you'll have lots of things to talk about. Don't worry I'll put away all the groceries." The more time they spent together, the more chances there were of Brian rubbing off on Stan. Sharon could imagine herself making sure they spent a lot of quality time together over the next few days.
"Ugh," the sound Stan made was just typical of a plaintive adolescent. The whole world was against him, obviously. "Fine. Come on, Brian."
Stan said nothing as he led Brian up the stairs, nothing as he led him along the landing, and nothing as he led him into his bedroom. He didn't even say anything as he closed the door behind them. But then –
"What the fuck do you thin you're doing?!" he cried.
"Hey, hey, Stan calm down."
"No! I just don't get what you're trying to do! Other than annoy the hell out of me, I mean."
Future-Stan sighed and sat down on the end of the bed. "I'm from the future."
"You can't be."
"Seriously, Stan, this is not the weirdest thing that's happened to you."
"It's the stupidest."
"You know that's not true either."
Stan crossed his arms and sulked.
Future-Stan ran a hand through his hair. "God, I forgot what a moody teenager I was. Dude, it's like you've got PMS or something." He smirked, that was an insult Stan used all too often (mostly on Kyle) in both the future and present. His younger self seemed to realize the implications and looked disconcerted – if only momentarily.
"Seriously, what do you fucking want?"
"I want you to listen to me. I have something important to say."
Stan rolled his eyes. "OK, fine. Let's say that – just for a minute – I believe you, what is it that's so important you came from the future to tell me about it?"
Future-Stan sighed. "Just... Watch out for Cartman."
"Dude, I knew that. That's, like, basic survival instinct or something."
"No, I mean, really watch out for him, he's going to try something... Look, the reason I came here is to stop him. The Cartman from my time travelled back here to mess with our time line, I followed him."
Stan began to find himself starting to believe the stranger's tale despite himself. "OK, so what did Cartman want to screw up for me?" Future-Stan looked away and stayed silent. "Dude?" prompted Stan. "Duuude?"
Future-Stan turned back to him, looking torn. "It's just... God, I have no idea how to tell you."
"Tell me what?"
"I don't think I can tell you, not without..."
"... Spoilers," said Future-Stan after a long pause.
"Aw, come on!"
"No, way, dude, I could probably mess up my life way more than what Cartman is planning on just by letting you know too much."
"Goddammit, you're taking this seriously."
"It is serious! A lot is a stake here, Stan, I don't think you realize just how much..."
"Of couse I can't realize if you won't tell me! Dude this whole thing is so retarded.
"Tell me about it."
Kyle eyes were fixed on the road in front of him with great focus. The storm was making it rather difficult to drive. Kyle wasn't worried; he was a good driver, but that was probably thanks to his excellent concentration and cautiousness. Though his focus on the road meant that he had no way of anticipating any danger that might come from inside the car.
"Ah!" He cried out and the car swerved into the wrong lane, the tires slipping on the wet road. Kyle quickly regained control and brought them back into the correct lane. Luckily there hadn't been anyone else coming down the opposite way.
"Ike!" he scolded, "What the hell is wrong with you? You can't just punch someone in the arm while they're driving!"
Ike shrugged, apparently unaware of the danger they could have been in. For a genius, the kid really could be dumb sometimes. "I do it all the time and you never complained before."
"Yeah, well, I was never driving through dangerous weather conditions those times."
Ike shrugged again, "Whatever."
"Is this because I was late picking you up?" Kyle risked letting his eyes leave the road for a moment to look over at Ike. Ike didn't answer but his arms were crossed and he had that pre-teen pouting action going on. Yeah, he was pissed.
"Oh, come on, Ike, it was only, like, twenty minutes."
"Twenty minutes in the rain!"
Kyle rolled his eyes. "Like you couldn't have waited inside."
"Well, no, actually, coach locks up as soon as we're all out."
"Give me a break, Ike, I'd already made Stan miss the bus, I couldn't just let him walk home in the rain."
"But you could totally let me wait out in the rain?"
"I didn't think you'd be waiting outside! And anyway, I'm really going to get it bad from Mom as soon as we get home, so could you just lay off? Why did you have to call her anyway?"
Ike shrugged again, "You took so long, I was getting bored."
"Right," snapped Kyle. Since entering middle school Ike had been increasingly getting on Kyle's nerves. He knew it was just the whole teen angst thing starting to kick in, and that he'd probably been the worst little shit at that same age, but, goddammit, it was infuriating.
"Whatever, we're here now," he sad as they pulled up into the driveway "So you can sit on the stairs and listen in on Mom yelling the shit out of me if that'll make you happy."
Ike didn't say anything in return just dashed out of the car and through the rain into the house, leaving the car door open.
"Ungrateful little shit," muttered Kyle under his breath.
He dragged his feet through the puddles as he advanced towards the front door. He was already drenched and all that waited for him inside was an hour-long rant from his mother. He knew the drill now, it would start with how disappointed she was in him, then she would go on to rant about all the things in his life distracting him from his responsibilities, and then she'd go on to generalize all that and turn it into a rant about the awful state of society. By the end, her rant wouldn't concern him at all but he was nonetheless expected to sit through it with the utmost patience and attention. He had already made the mistake of trying to get away before she was done, all it did was bring her attention back to him and cause her to decide to ground him, whereas if he just let her rant herself dry, she would more often than not forget what it was he had done in the first place... or be too busy organizing a protest march to pay attention to him any more.
Kyle took his time taking his water-logged shoes off and peeling off his damp socks. He left them scattered in the hallway. He was already in trouble anyway.
He stepped into the living room, expecting to see his mother standing there -- arms crossed, tapping her foot – but there was only Ike, watching cartoons. That was odd. Sheila never let them turn the TV on until they'd done at least an hour's homework.
"Ike? Where's Mom?"
Frowning, Kyle went into the kitchen. His father was there, reading the back of a waffle mix packet.
"Oh, hi, Kyle," he said looking up.
"Hey, Dad," Kyle answered, "What are you doing?"
"Oh, well, I just thought I'd try a new waffle mix, but I'm not familiar with these instructions."
A moment of silence passed between them. Gerald was apparently content to ignore his son's obvious confusion in favour of studying the waffle mix instructions.
Kyle cleared his throat. "Dad, where's Mom?"
"Your mother just had to pop out for a while, it's nothing." OK, so hi Mom probably wouldn't be home at all that evening.
"Uh huh, so you're making dinner?"
"Yep." Gerald's eyes didn't stray from the waffle mix packet, despite seeming completely unfocused.
"OK, and you're making waffles again?"
This time Gerald did look up, but not at Kyle. His gaze stayed fixed on an undefined spot in front of him. "Well, I do know how to make eggs," he said, his voice just as distant as his gaze, if not more so, "But I haven't done that since college so..." He trailed off, and Kyle waited for him to continue, but he didn't. He didn't even move or blink.
"Uh... OK... Well, I'll probably just grab something to eat at Stan's, so... uh... yeah." Kyle started walking backwards, away from his Dad.
Gerald made a complacent "huh" sound. Kyle wasn't sure whether that was acknowledgement that his father had heard him or not, but there was no way he was sticking around a moment longer. He turned and fled out of the kitchen and up into his room to change and grab a few things for his over-night bag (which was actually just his school backpack he had tossed his notebooks out of.)
When he came back downstairs Ike was still in front of the TV. Kyle popped his head through the kitchen door.
"Well, I'm heading off to Stan's now, I'll be back tomorrow."
Gerald didn't say word, he didn't even move. Kyle didn't think his father had actually heard him, but he left anyway. Gerald had been staring at the instructions on the back of the waffle mix.
Stan wasn't sure if he believed "Brian" had really come from the future, let alone if he was the future version of him. What he did now was that video games were a great way to pass the time.
"What! I can't believe you won that round!"
"Guess you don't have FPS games in the future, huh?"
Future-Stan rolled his eyes. "Of course we do, I'm just out of practice. I sort of grew out of video games."
Stan snorted. "As if that would ever happen to me. You're doing a really shitty job of convincing me we're the same person."
Future-Stan just sighed as Stan set up the game again.
When the doorbell rang, neither moved an inch.
"Stan!" cried Sharon from downstairs, "Kyle's here!"
"Shit! Already?" said Stan, pausing he game. "You have to get out of here," he told his future self.
"What? No way, this is my house!"
"No, it isn't, you future freak!"
"Hey, Stan, what's... uh?"
Stan spun around to see Kyle standing in the doorway, staring at him and his future self.
"Stan?" asked Kyle in a whisper, squinting at Future-Stan.
"Ha, no, over here, dude," said Stan, adding on a fake laugh he couldn't even hold properly.
"But... But that's you," said Kyle to Stan, pointing at Future-Stan. "You are Stan, aren't you?" he asked Future-Stan, who nodded, "How can that be?"
Future-Stan shrugged, "The more I tell you the less you'll believe me."
"Well, that's no excuse!" Kyle turned to Stan, "You didn't let Mephesto clone you again, did you?"
Future-Stan sniffed. "And I'd like to think I'm at least slightly better looking than that sorry excuse for a clone was, thanks."
"Oh, well, you are."
"Kyle!" cried Stan.
"I'm just being nice."
"Well, don't!" Stan pinched the bridge of his nose and groaned. "Goddammit."
"So, who are you?" Kyle asked Future-Stan, ignoring Stan.
"You had it right, I'm Stan."
"But you can't be!" Kyle protested, though it was obvious part of him already knew. "How?"
"I'm from the future."
"Aw, fuck, not this again!" cried Stan, who then threw himself onto his bed, letting his head land headfirst into the pillow, where he left it buried.
"What do you mean?" asked Kyle, once again ignoring Stan's outburst.
"I mean I'm Stan Marsh," he pointed at the younger version of himself sprawled out on the bed, "Ten years down the line."
Kyle stayed silent, staring off in contemplation.
"OK," he finally said, "This wouldn't exactly be the weirdest shit to happen in this town."
"Don't tell me you believe him!" cried Stan, suddenly springing upright.
"I dunno, dude. I know it sounds unbelievable, but I just have this gut feeling..."
Future-Stan beamed. "I should have known you would recognize me, at any age."
"Uh, thanks," answered Kyle, a little unnerved by the way Future-Stan was looking at him.
"Kyle!" cried Stan, standing up and walking over to them, "You can't seriously think this is me. We're nothing alike."
"Actually... " said Kyle, "You kind of are."
"What! No way! Don't tell me I'm going to grow up into... into that."
Future-Stan rolled his eyes. "Call me ugly, why don't you?"
"Not ugly, just... ugh... weird-looking."
"How is that supposed to be any better? At least my zits finally cleared up."
Stan's hand shot up to cover his "zit patch" on the side of hs cheek. "Shut up!"
"Look, guys," interjected Kyle, "This would almost be funny if the whole thing weren't giving me a headache." He turned to Future-Stan. "Now if you re from the future, what the fuck are you doing here?"
"Then uncomplicate it."
Future-Stan smiled distantly. "You're going to have that exact same exchange with me a few years from now, except it'll be a relationship talk." Kyle was once again a little freaked out by the way Future-Stan looked at him as he seemed to be remembering.
"OK..." he cleared his throat. "I still want to know what the fuck you're doing here though."
Future-Stan sighed and ran a hand through his hair as he et himself drop down on Stan's bed. "Fine."
Kyle raised an eyebrow, urging him to go on. Stan sat himself down on the floor an pinched the bridge of his nose. "Goddammit," he whispered.
"OK," said Future-Stan, "The first thing you need to know is that this is all Cartman's fault."
"That fat fuck?"
"Yes, that fat fuck. Look, let's say Kyle and I, Future-Kyle and I," he clarified, "Have some big plans. Like really big."
"What are we talking here?"
Future-Stan bit his lip. "I can't say."
"Aw, come on!"
"Look, all you need to now is that Cartman, for some reason, wants to ruin things for us."
"Why are you even still hanging out with that asshole?" Kyle demanded, fists clenched. He quickly unclenched them when he fet Stan's hand squeeze his shoulder, though.
"We don't! Trust me, we've been trying to hake him loose for years, but he keeps following us."
"Cartmman's certainly resilient, if there's ever been one good thing to say bout him" said Kyle, dryly.
"Yeah," said Furure-Stan with a shrug.
It was then that they heard a wet "smack" against the window. The three of them turned around sharply and saw half a rotten banana stuk against the window pane and slowly sliding down it.
"Aw, gross!" cried Stan.
"I fucking hate bananas," said Kyle cllenching his fists.
"We know," said Future-Stan. He squeezed Kyle's shouder, trying to be comforting, but only freaking him out again.
Stan meanwhile was kneeling down on one side of the window, and very carefully inching himself up in the hopes of getting glimpse of their attacker without being seen. Just as the tip of his head rose above the sill, a second projectile splat across the pane.
"Kiwi? Ugh!" cried Kyle.
"I think I saw Craig!" exlaimed Stan, "Well, his hat anyway."
"I'll fucking bet Cartman is behind this," growled Kyle.
"What? But I just saw Craig-"
"Fuck Craig. It's probably all Cartman's idea."
Stan sighed "Revenge?" he asked, his ack of enthusiasm all too apparent
"Revenge," Kyle confirmed, his own enthusiasm probably enough for the both of them.
"Fine, let' go see what kind of ammo we've got downstairs."
Stan and Kyle made to leave the room, but when Future-Stan started to follow them, Stan snapped at him. "No way, dude! You're staying right here."
"What? Aw, come on! I haven't done this in ages."
"Yeah, 'cause you're old. Come on, Kyle."
They left Future-Stan in the bedroom and made their way to the kitchen.
"Hey, Mom, have we got any leftovers from yesterday's macaronni cheese?" asked Stan as he burst through the door. His mother was sitting at the ounter and looked up from the magazine she'd been flicking thorugh.
"Well there hould be, but why are you asking?"
"Oh, no reason."
"Stanley..." she warned.
"What! It's nothing!"
"Stanley, I swear, if you're planning-"
Her threat was cut short as Randy entered, ever blissfully unaware of any tension.
"Hey, boys," he greeted, "How are you doing?"
"Great, thanks!" answered Kyle. Stan just ignored him.
"And you, Stan? How re you doing, buddy How was your day?" Rndy persisted.
"Fine," said Stan, though it wasmore of a grunt.
"Well, tht's great, Stan!" said Randy with an over the top grin, that definitely didn't reach his eyes. Sharon tssked.
"I'll bet Brian and his father spend a lot of time together,," he said, with a pointed glare in Stan's direction. "Where is he, anyway?"
"Right here, Mo- uh, Sharon," said Future-Stan, entering the kitchen too. Sharon beamed at him.
"Ah, so there you are," said Randy, "Well, you've ertainly grown up."
"Thanks D- Randy," Future-Stan smiled as his father clapped him on the back.
"So last I heard you were graduating from college, what have you been up to?"
"Uh, not much," said Future-Stan as he desperatey tried to recall details from Brian's life. "I'm, uh, kind of between jobs at the moment." He shot nervous glare in his mother's direction, hoping she would save him. An, ure enough, she did.
"Oh, Randy, stop pestering him! Tell me, what would you like for dinner, Brian?"
"Anything you make is fine Sharon, really."
"No, really, Brian, as our guest, I insist you- Stanley Marsh put that maccaronni back in the refridgerator!"
"Aw, come on!"
"No! I'm still too ashamed of you from the lst time when you overed the Stoch's front windows in cookie dough." Stan and Kyle chuckled at the memory. "It's not funny boys! Think of your poor friend Leopold!"
"Butters isn't my friend, Mom."
His mother sighed at the ceiling. "Oh, Stanley."
"Relax, Sharon, they're jut having some fun," said Randy to his wife. he quickly turned to the boys. "So whose house are we doing tonight?"
"Aw, come on, guys! It'll be great!"
"You can't come, Dad, you're not invited."
His fther chose to ignore him, slinging an arm over Stan's shouder instead "We can stay out all night, just us guys. Won't that be fun, Stan? Huh? Huh?"
"Dad, forget it, you're not invited," Stan repeated in monotone, lifting his father's arm from his shouders.
"Randy, leave them alone," said Sharon.
"Well, fine," said Randy, and he left in a sulk.
"Stanley, would it kill you to be a little nicer to your father?"
"What! There's no way I'm hanging out with my dad on Friday night. And he's such an R-tard, anyway."
"I'm not a R-tard." A sullen, muffled voice drifted in from the living room. It was promptly ignored by all.
"Well, nonetheless, there is no way you're going out tonight without a chaperone."
"No, not after last time. You've shown me I can't trust you."
"But, Mrs. Marsh, Stan is totally trust-worthy!"
"That's nice of you to stick up for him Kyle, but I'm worried about you too. I'm not your mother, I now just what you get up to." Kyle's cheeks reddened nd he stepped back, looking at the ground.
Future-Stan cleared his throat. "I could go out with them."
"Oh, that's a great idea!"
"What! Dude, no!" cried Stan, staring incredouly at his Future-self.
"Relax, I won't get in your way, I'll just make sure you stay out of trouble," he said, smirking in his younger slef's direction. "If that's all right by you, of course?" he asked Sharon.
"Of course! The more time you boys spend together, the better! Have fun!"
A few hours later, Future-Stan was driving Sharon's car through the streets of South Park, with the trunk full of thrown out City Wok meals.
"I can't believe we never thought to take whatever the City Wok guy just left outside every night after closing!" said Kyle who was sitting in the passenger seat. "Great idea, Brian!"
"Why are you calling him Brian?" demanded Stan from the back seat.
Kyle shrugged. "It feels confusing to call him Stan."
"So you believe he really is from the future?" Stan's tone was vicious and accusing, o Kyle simply scowled at him.
"Who cares?" he said, "As long as we get our own back on Cartman;
"Speaking of," Future-Stan interjected, "We're only a block away."
"OK, park the car on this street – towards the end – and we'll walk the rest of the way through the backyards," said Kyle, "We don't want him to see us coming."
"OK," whispered Kyle, "When I give the signal, chuck all the City Wok you can. As soon a our cover is blown we make a run for it the way we came, got it?" Both Stans nodded. They were crouching in the bushes to one side of Cartman's backyard. They had gotten there through the neighbours yard. The front of their house was on the next street, where they'd parked Sharon's car.
From their position they could see Cartman and his mother in the living room through their big bay windows. Liane was a nice enough woman, but this was war.
"Let's go," said Kyle, crouching down as he dashed towards the house, topping once he was off to one side of the bay window. Future-Stan went deeper into the yard – where it was darker, then dashed across to the bushes on the other side. Stan stayed put, arms folded and slightly sulking about how well Kyle and his future self where getting along. They'd been driving him insane with their constant jokes and how caught up in the stupid plan they had gotten. It really wasn't that great and tonight was supposed to be just him and Kyle anyway.
From where he as hidden Stan could see Kyle lift the kazoo to his lips, and a split second later he saw Cartman jump to his feet and start shouting at his mother. Stan couldn't hear them properly, but the poor woman looked panicked. Kyle blew into the kazoo again, this time a succession of toots in different pitches. Cartman seemed to blow up. Liane looked as if she were trying to calm him, but he took no heed and pushed her aside. He raced to the sliding door – as fast as he could drag his fat ass over to it – and slid it open.
"Where are you, you little faggots?" he screamed, "I know you're out there!"
Kyle blew into the kazoo again, a series of quick panicked-sounding toots. It was all part of the plan though.
"Ah ha!" cried Cartman, "I knew it! Don't tell me you didn't think I would intercept your little faggy signals. How dumb do you think I am?" He advanced into the yard, "Show yourselves!"
Kyle stood up. "Now!" he shouted. Cartman turned towards him just in time to be hit in the face by an open carton of City Wok noodles. Stan and his future self both hit him in the back with fried rice, making Cartman turn towards them only to be hit by more food.
"Ow!" he cried. "Ow! You guys!" he whined. He had sauce in his eyes from the noodles Kyle had thrown in his face and that was their window of time. They continued to pelt him with all they had, ignoring his pleas for mercy. He even began to cry.
The moment finally came when he sat down – well, let himself slump down, fall cushioned by his fat ass – and cried out, "Mommy!"
"Go!" screeched Kyle. They dropped whatever containers they had left and ran off through the backyard, over the fence and into the night.
With one leg on either side of the fence, Stan looked back and caught a glimpse of Liane rushing out to hug her baby. He shoved any compassion out of his mind and raced after Kyle and his future self.
They ran all the way back to the car, which they jumped into and Future-Stan raced off straight away.
The whole thing couldn't have taken more than ten minutes, and Cartman's beating couldn't have been for more than a single minute, but it felt as if they had left the car hours ago. They were all silent for a while, either catching their breath or contemplating, when Kyle broke the silence.
"Well, that was fun."
Future-Stan burst out laughing. "I hadn't done something so stupid in years!" He turned to Kyle, "I can't believe the kazoo thing worked!"
Kyle smirked. "He was the one convinced there was something called the "Secret Jew Kazoo Code," so Cartman is the one to thank, really."
Future-Stan laughed again. "How does he come up with this shit?"
Kyle shrugged. "Dunno, but at least it worked in our favour. Cartman's usually pretty smart about these pranks, but I was hoping he'd get hysterical enough about the kazoo thing and act too spontaneously." Kyle's smirk had a rather sadistic quality to it that Stan wasn't sure he liked. "... And he did," finished Kyle, "He walked right into our trap, despite it being a rather weak last-minute plan."
Future-Stan shook his head, "I forget how malicious you can be sometimes."
Kyle's eyebrows rose. "Malicious?"
"Only when it comes to Cartman," Future-Stan clarified.
"Oh," said Kyle, slumping down in his seat.
They stayed silent for a while. Just driving through the night. Stan kept his gaze on the lamppost heads, letting the light blind him through his squinting. The black dots appearing in his eyes were a nice distraction from the way Kyle kept glancing over at Future-Stan from the passenger seat.
"Um, Stan...?" asked Kyle. Both Stans turned to him. "Future-Stan, uh, Brian," he clarified. Stan et his head fall back against the seat.
"Yeah?" asked Future-Stan
"Do I... -- in the future – do I..." he sighed, "Do I turn out all right?"
Future-Stan was quiet for a moment, hi eyes distant as they stayed fixed on the road ahead. "Yeah..." he eventually said, a smile forming on his lips. He turned to Kyle, "Yeah, you do. You definitely do."
"Um, OK," answered Kyle, not sure what to make of it, "Thanks."
Stan felt the urge to punch either Kyle or his future self, he wasn't sure which. Maybe both.
An hour and several cups of coffee at Jelly's later, Stan was starting to warm up to his future self. Sort of.
It was him after all. Sort of.
They had all been joking around, and he obviously shared the same sense of humour with himself. Even if his future self's was a little more sophisticated, in appearance, at least. Fart jokes and such had apparently become fair game at some point down the line.
"... So then, when Kenny woke up, we were all just sitting there laughing, waiting for him to realize he had the name "Nigel" tattooed on his ass. And once he finally did see it, he told us he'd never even met anyone called Nigel in his life!" Future-Stan couldn't help but laugh as he recounted the tale
"Dude! That's pretty fucked up right there."
"Yeah," Future-Stan agreed, "but you guys definitely can't tell Kenny, you hear? Or anyone else for that matter. In fact you should pretty much try and forget all these stories, because I really shouldn't have said anything in the first place."
"Fuck the spacetime continium!" said Kyle, "I want to hear more about our future lives!" Stan nodded eagerly.
"No way, dude," said Future-Stan, "I've already said way too much."
"Sorry," he said with a shrug.
The late-shift waitresses at Jelly's had a bit of a reputation for being either hookers or completely terrifying. The one that approached them to ask if they wanted a refill was no exception, and actually seemed to be a combination of both. She wore fishnet tights – or perhaps stockings, no one cared to check – had a face like a bulldog, and they could both see and hear the piece of gum she was chewing on.
When she asked about their refills Kyle instinctively turned to Stan, who checked his watch.
"It's nearly 11:30," he shrugged, "Aw, what the hell, one more cup can't hurt."
The waitress – Brenda, as her name tag informed them – served them their coffee and went on her way, looking slightly drunk as she stumbled round in her purple platform boots.
"Ugh, I hate it when people chew gum with their mouths open," said Kyle with an over the top shiver. Both Stans made "pfft" sound and rolled their eyes. Upon realizing they'd done the exact same thing they looked over at each other and smiled.
"Idiots," mumbled Kyle into his coffee. As he looked over his cup, though, he saw something that now meant he couldn't care less about the two Stans right now. There, right in front of him, having just walked into the diner was his mother, and she wasn't alone. She had a latino pool boy hanging off her arm. Or at least kyle assumed he was a pool boy, because those were the words written in red across the back of his white T-shirt ( a T-shirt? in January! Really? Who did this guy thik he was?) The guy looked to be in his mid-twenties, tops. He was definitely younger than Future-Stan, looked as if he worked out, and, OK, Kyle could admit it, relatively good-looking.
But what on Earth was he doing in diner with Sheila Broflovski? Sheila herself was looking rather different, in the sense that Kyle had never seen his mother in leopard print leggings and a fuzzy pink sweater. It wasn't something he particularly cared to see ever again, or at all, really.
"Dude!" said Stan, as he caught sight of what Kyle was staring at.
"Yeah," said Kyle, though it came out as more of a strangled gargle He cleared his throat. "What the fuck, dude?"
"The hell if I know!" said Stan.
"Oh, I remember this," said Future-Stan. Stan and Kyle gaped at him.
"Tell us!" Kyle demanded.
"No way, dude! I've already interfered enough. Now screw this shit, I need a cigarette."
"I smoke?" asked Stan shocked.
"No!" said Future-Stan, "Not really. Well, only sometimes... I... Aw, fuck. I'll meet you by the car." And with that he left.
"Dude, this is some pretty fucked up shit," Stan remarked.
"Tell me about it," said Kyle, his voice muffled, due to the fact that he was hiding under the table.
"Dude, what the hell? Get out from under there!"
"And let my Mom see me? No way, dude!"
"Dude, come on!"
"If you don't come out, I'll drag you out."
"Fine," grumbled Kyle, as he crawled out and stood up. It was a shame, really, that at the exact moment he stood up, his mother should look his way and that their gazes should lock. No escape now.
"Mom." Kyle couldn't keep the dread out of his voice. His mother advanced towards him regardless. Now that she was closer, Kyle could see her turquoise eye shadow rising all the way to her eyebrows.
"Kyle, what are you doing here?"
"Oh, just hanging out with Stan, we were about to head home. You?" he regretted asking as soon as the question slipped through his lips.
"Me? Oh, well, I'm "hanging out" too, as you say. With a uh... friend of mine." She looked nervously behind her at Javier, who unfortunately took that as a sign to walk over to them and join them.
"Hola, you must be Kyle, si?" he asked in a very strong Spanish accent, reaching out to shake Kyle's hand.
"Uh, si. I mean, yeah."
"Javier is Mexican," Sheila explained.
"Yeah, I guessed a much."
Javier wrapped his arms around Sheila and hugged her as he said "You gorgeous woman, I can't wait to have sex with you!" He kissed her neck, lifted his head up, "Sex!" kissed her again, said "Sex!" whilst looking up at the ceiling once more, and repeated the cycle once more.
"OK, love-monkey, why don't you get our coffees to go, and we'll head back to your place," suggested Sheila. Javier obliged, but not without dropping a big wet kiss on her first.
"Ah, so beautiful!" he sighed as he walked away.
Sheila watched him leave but quickly snapped her head back to where Kyle stood. "Don't judge me," she snarled.
"I didn't say anything!" said Kyle, panicked.
"I know what you were going to say-"
"I wasn't going to say anything!"
"- Well, your father brought it all upon himself. If I hadn't seen him having that slutty secretary of his on his desk with my very own eyes, there's no doubt he'd still be denying it!"
"Wait, what? Dad cheated?"
"Pfft! Of course he did, it's been going on for years! Honestly, at least I let him know about Javier. That's how an open marriage works, your partner has to know these things. And if he wants an open marriage, oh, then I'll give him an open marriage!"
Kyle really couldn't imagine his father wanting an open marriage – he could barely get it up for one woman, the fact that he'd physically managed to cheat was quite a feat on its own, how on Earth could the guy handle more sex? -- But Kyle though it best to keep his mouth shut. Especially because, with all his mother's swaying and spitting during her speech, he was pretty sure he caught a whiff of vodka on her breath.
Javier came up behind her and wrapped an arm around her waist (or as far around as he could.) He balanced their coffee cups in a cardboard take-out tray in the other.
"Come, Sheila," he said, "We are to have muchos sex tonight."
"Oh, Javier! You say the sweetest things," she cooed, as she stared u at him dreamily. She then turned to her son, "Bye, Kyle, have fun with your little friend." And so they turned and walked away, leaving Kyle to stare after him, the newly acquired pieces of information not quite settling in his brain.
He quickly gave up and sat back down opposite Stan.
"Dude," offered Stan, setting down his coffee cup.
"Yeah," agreed Kyle.
"If there's anything..."
"I know, thanks."
There was a moment of odd silence, during which Kyle stared down at his hands on the table, and Stan stared over at him.
Kyle looked up, into Stan's eyes. "Thanks man," he said.
Kyle shrugged, "Being here, I guess."
"It's nothing," Stan assured him. And, before he even knew what he was doing, he reached out and covered Kyle's hands with his own. Fuck,he was even rubbing soothing little circular pattens over them. That was some pretty gay shit right there. Kyle didn't seem to mind though, it even seemed to be helping.
They stayed that way for a while, neither of them saying anything, but both holding eye contact. They only broke it when Brenda the waitress emerged once more.
"Refill?" she asked between chews.
Stan cleared his throat, and the boys dropped each other's hands.
"No thank you, we were just heading out now," said Stan, looking over at Kyle who nodded in confirmation. There was something different in his eyes.
Outside they found Future-Stan leaning against the car, he rose as he saw them approach
"You took your time," he said.
Stan rose an eyebrow. "There was a lot to take in," he replied, settling on the most diplomatic way to put it. He put his hand on Kyle' shoulder, squeezing it in comfort. Kyle looked over at him and smiled. A small, shy smile, but a smile nonetheless.
"Right, then I suggest we get going," said Future-Stan, "There's no way Mom's going to keep thinking of me as a good influence on myself if i get you back too late."
Sharon was curled up on the sofa with a blanket and a book when they got back.
"Oh, there you are," she said, setting the book down on the coffee table next to her camomile tea, "Randy's already gone to bed, I was hoping you wouldn't be much longer."
"Sorry, Sharon, we just didn't see the time go by."
"That's all right," she stood up, folding the blanket carefully. "As long as I- " she yawned, "As long as I can go to bed now. Good night boys."
"Good night," they chorused back at her, as she went upstairs.
"Damn," said Stan, as soon as she was out of earshot, "She's never that cool about me blowing curfew. Thanks," he added, tuning to his future self.
"No problem," Future-Stan smiled, glad his younger self seemed to be past the hostilities towards him.
"Not that this isn't touching and all," said Kyle, shoving his way between the two of them, "But I'm tired as fuck and wouldn't mind going to bed."
Stan climbed into bed, joining Kyle. Yeah, it was probably odd for two sixteen year old boys to be sharing the same bed, but they had been doing it for years, now was definitely not the time to raise the issue.
Future-Stan was sleeping in Shelley's room. As he tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable, Stan realized this was the first time he had been alone with Kyle all evening.
"Hey," he said in whisper. They had already turned out the lights, but he could just make out Kyle's face in the darkness.
"Hey to you too," Kyle whispered back.
Stan felt kind of stupid, just lying on his side and staring over at Kyle, straight into his eyes, but Kyle was doing the exact same thing, so he guessed that was all right. Kyle was the last thing he saw before sleep crept up on him and his eyes fell shut.
Saturday morning found Stan sitting at the kitchen table in his pyjamas, with a bowl of cereal. He was happily munching away, and trying to complete the word search on the back of the packet, when his future self walked in.
"Morning," greeted Future-Stan, stretching as he walked through the room.
"Morning," answered Stan, spraying bits of soggy cereal out of his mouth. Future-Stan just laughed as he began to make himself a cup of coffee.
He sat down next to Stan and poured his own bowl. "So where's Kyle?"
Stan had just taken a huge spoonful of cereal, so his response was an undecipherable grumble.
"Shit, now I get why Kyle is so annoyed when I talk with my mouth full," said Future-Stan.
"Sorry," said Stan, gulping down his food. He tried again, "What I said was that he left already."
"Really? What was the rush?"
"Oh, he has to go meet Stacy for lunch."
"Yeah, don't you remember?"
"No, who's Stacy?"
"Huh, guess they won't be together long if I don't remember her in ten years."
"Stan, this is important, tell me who this Stacy is."
"His girlfriend, dude."
"His girlfriend. Dude, what's the big deal?"
"In my timeline Kyle has never had a girlfriend called Stacy."
"Uh, are you sure you just, like, don't remember, dude? I mean, no offence, but ten years is a long while, especially if they break up next week or something. I've only seen her once so far, too."
Future-Stan shook his head, "No, there's no way I would just forget something like that. There's something wrong with the timeline, it's got to be Cartman's interference."
"Yes. Now quick, get dressed, we've got to go."
"Go? Go where?"
"Well I don't know, you'll have to tell me. We've got to get wherever Kyle and this Stacy girl are."
"Dude, seriously this is stupid."
"No, it is not, Stan. It's important."
Stan rolled his eyes. "Stupid."
Future-Stan sighed. "OK then... What would Brian Boitano do?"
"What would Brian Boitano do?"
"Dude, you can't just use that whenever you like to get people to do stuff they don't want to."
Future-Stan ignored him. "What woulld Brian Boitano do?" he repeated.
"OK, fine! Brian Boitano would help his friends and save the day. Happy now?"
"Yes, now go get dressed."
Stan was amazed his mother let them borrow the car two days in a row. Probably something to do with "Brian's" charm, he thought. He looked over at his future self who was once again the one driving Sharon had just handed him the keys without question. It sort of made sense, Stan guessed, but it still made him feel like a little kid.
"OK, so where do you think they are?" asked Future-Stan.
"Dude, I don't know. You're guess is as good as mine."
"You mean Kyle literally didn't say anything about what he was planning for today? Not even a hint?"
Stan thought back over the last week. "Oh, wait!" he said, "He might have said something to Wendy about ice-skating."
"To Stark's Pond it is!" said Future-Stan, pulling the car into an abrupt turn.
"Dude!" cried Stan, gripping his seat.
Future-Stan didn't acknowledge him. His eyes were fixed on the road with determination, but upon closer inspection, a hint of worry too. Stan stayed silent during the journey, mostly concentrating on not puking due to his future self's hideous urgent driving.
"Dude, that's Kyle's car!" said Stan, pointing as they came up to the pond.
"OK," said Future-Stan, but instead of turning right after exiting the main road – towards Kyle's car – he took a sharp left into the bushes and trees.
"Dude!" cried Stan, "What the fuck?"
"Shh, you'll see." Future-Stan manoeuvred the car so that it was hidden, facing the exit, and gave a good view of Kyle's car through the windows on one side.
"Dude, what are we-"
"Shh!" said Future-Stan, shoving his younger self out of the way. "Look, here they come." Stan glanced in the direction his future self was pointing in and, sure enough, there were Kyle and Stacy. they were walking back to Kyle's car hand in hand, their skates slung over their shoulders.
"Oh!" said Stan, realizing the whole point of it all.
Kyle and Stacy put their skates in the back. Just as Stacy shut the trunk, Kyle grabbed her by the waist, and spun her around and kissed her. Stacy leaned into him. They were up against the car now. Kyle seemed to be pressing into her. Stacy seemed to be standing her ground, but still seemed to be letting him express his desires. Stan felt weird. Not just because he was watching is best friend make-out (rather heavily) with some girl. It was weird because he just couldn't recognize Kyle in his behaviour. Stan had always figured Kyle would be nice with girls. Too nice. To him Kyle seemed like the kind of guy who would take it slow, who wouldn't rush a girl into doing anything, even if it looked like she might want to... Well, that's what Stan had always been like, he just assumed Kyle would be the same. Wrongly, he had assumed wrongly, he told himself. And that realization felt a lot worse than the guilt of being a Peeping Tom.
Luckily Kyle and Stacy had detached themselves from one another during Stan's funk. They were getting into the car now, Kyle was just about to start it.
"OK, get ready," said Future-Stan. He gripped the steering wheel with both hands, his head stooped down and his back arched – like a racing driver.
Kyle turned out onto the main road, and that's when Future-Stan started to move out too. He waited a while before leaving the shelter of the bushes, and then a while more before turning onto the main road. It didn't matter though, they knew which way Kyle had gone, and they could see him in the distance.
"I can't believe we're following Kyle!" said Stan, definitely more than a little shocked.
"Shh!" Future-Stan shushed him again, concentrating on his self-imposed mission.
"No, dude, seriously, I can't do this to my best friend!"
"Oh, shut up, I follow him all the time."
"Dude, that's awful. I don't want to grow up crazy."
"Look, it was only once. It's not all the time. He and that PA were getting way too close, it was totally called for."
"Yes," Future-Stan bit back harshly.
Stan just stared at him for a long moment. "Dude, I know you're me and all, but I really don't like what I'm seeing here."
Future-Stan sighed and smacked his hand against the wheel. "I'm sorry, I'm not usually like this, I swear. It's just..."
"Just?" prompted Stan
Future-Stan hesitated for a second. "Fine. It's just that I've got a really good thing going in the future and I am so ridiculously scared of it getting messed up and then losing everything." He looked over at Stan, he seemed about to cry (you know, if he weren't a guy and way too tough for that shit) "Seriously, he's everything to me."
Stan was about to say something – or was about to try to, at least, the only adequate description of his face at that moment was "flabber-gobbed" -- when a bright yellow SUV came out of nowhere, charged towards them, and swerved at the very last second. Sparks flew as the metal from each car scratched up against the other.
"Dude!" cried Stan. He'd never been so close to a potential crash.
"Fuck," said Future-Stan, as he shifted gear and sped up to tail the SUV. "Dude, what are you doing? Don't fucking follow it!" Stan was panicking slightly.
"Don't worry, I got this."
The SUV just kept getting faster, and Stan knew his Mom's minivan just wouldn't cut it if they had to go any faster, he could already hear the engine groaning. Luckily the SUV was heading off the country track and straight into the busy streets of South Park, maybe they stood a chance after all!
They were in suburban streets now, dodging parked family cars mothers were unloaded their groceries from, or fathers were hauling their kids' bikes into. Future Stan dodged and weaved through them all, and at one point even managed to slide over with a sickening tyre screech to avoid crashing straight into a street hockey game.
"Dude!" cried Stan, "Where do I learn to drive like that?"
"Stunt school," grunted Future-Stan, apparently too concentrated to realize he had blown his cover. Stan just stared at his future self, incredulous. Future-Stan was hunched over the steering wheel and gripping it tightly, his eyes wide open and alert, taking in every movement around them.
The SUV was leading them into downtown South Park; the streets were narrower, the obstacles more frequent and tougher to avoid. Future-Stan knocked over restaurant bins he barely managed not to have a full-on crash into.
The SUV took a sharp left, which Future-Stan mimicked, only not as well. He didn't make his angle wide enough and ended up flattening a fence and getting tangled up in a washing line.
"Fuck!" He started the car up again, and even managed to get going again (though he almost stalled when he ran over an underpants gnome) but it was too late, the SUV was gone.
"Fuck!" Future-Stan swore again, hitting the steering wheel. He regained just enough composure to pull over properly.
"Who was that?" asked Stan, "I thought I could at least get a glimpse but the windows were blacked out."
"I'm almost 100% sure it was Cartman."
"Future-Cartman," Future-Stan clarified.
"How do you know?"
"That asshole as rammed more than one of my cars exactly like that over the past few years, and -- come on – a bright yellow SUV with an "I <3 cheesy poofs" bumper sticker?"
"Yeah, I see your point."
They sat in silence for a moment, parked in an empty street with some housewife's laundry hanging all over the top of the car, and the bloody remains of the gnome on the front left wheel.
"So now what?" asked Stan.
Future-Stan shrugged. "Fuck if I know."
"Jelly's," he agreed, and started the car up again.
They drove on in silence, the journey was uneventful, especially compared to what they had just gone through, when suddenly a cyclist came out of nowhere. Future-Stan couldn't have done a single thing to avoid him, he came completely out of left field, hit the side of the car, sent his bike flying and slid across the bonnet.
"Oh my God, you killed Kenny!" cried Stan.
"You're shitting me." Future-Stan stopped the car, and Stan jumped out and rushed to his friend's side.
"Oh my God, you killed Kenny!" he repeated.
"I'm not dead," Kenny mumbled, it was mostly inaudible due to him being face down in the dirt.
"Oh my God, you bastard!" cried Stan, having not heard Kenny.
"Dude!" said Kenny, he rolled himself over onto his side and coughed out some dirt. "Dude... 'm not dead."
"Yeah, oh. Now help me back on my bike."
"But, dude, you're bleeding."
"I ain't got time for this shit, I'm gonna be late."
"You're bleeding from the side of your head."
Kenny shushed him and stood up – shakily – gripping tightly onto Stan's arm and using him as a crutch. Future-Stan came over to them, wheeling the bike to them.
"The bike should be all right, amazingly. Kenny I am so sorry, I-"
"Dude," said Kenny, turning to Stan, "What the fuck?"
"Oh, um, that's..."
"I mean, that is some seriously insane narcissism fantasy you've got going there."
"What? Kenny! No! It's not like that."
Kenny dismissed him with a little wave. "Whatever. Like I said, I ain't got time for this shit." He climbed onto his bike. "See ya!" he called over hi shoulder, leaving a small trail of droplets of blood behind him.
"I think he might have concussion," said Stan.
"You want to go after him?"
Stan shrugged, "I don't know, it's Kenny, he's usually fine."
They stood there for a moment, in complete silence, Kenny already long gone out of their sight.
"Jelly's?" asked Future-Stan.
"Jelly's," Stan agreed.
As they walked into Jelly's, they spotted Kyle and Stacy sitting in a corner booth, sipping at a milkshake with two straws.
"Wow, who would have thought we'd find them here?" said Stan.
Future-Stan just rolled his eyes. "Come on."
"What? We're going to confront them? I thought you wanted to spy on them."
"They've seen us now. Look, Kyle's waving at you like crazy." And, sure enough, Kyle was waving at them, and frantically gesturing for them to come over. There was no choice, really.
"Hey guys!" said Kyle as they walked over.
"Hey dude," answered Stan, "Hi Stacy."
Stacy didn't respond, she was too busy having a stare-off with Future-Stan. He was being rather aggressive, staring down at her with his arms folded. She met the challenge with a great air of defiance, staring up at him with matching hostility.
Future-Stan unfolded his arms and slammed his hands down on the table, palms open "Who the fuck are you?" he spat into her face.
"Stacy," she answered without a single trace of emotion.
"Fuck that, who are you?"
"Stacy," she repeated in the same monotone.
"OK, then, Stacy who?"
Stacy leaned back and blinked stupidly in rapid succession. "I... uh... Stacy... uh... Stacy Marsh."
Future-Stan raised an eyebrow, he was smirking now. "Stacy Marsh? Really now?"
"Yes, I mean no," her voice remained emotionless but took on a metallic tint, "I mean Stan, Stan Marsh, I am... I am not."
"Your cover is awful," Future-Stan laughed, "What kind of agent are you?"
"Model 3822X... Model 3822X." Her voice now sounded completely robotic and had a sickening metallic echo to boot. Stan and Kyle stared at her bug-eyed. "No," she said, trying to regain her normal voice, the one that really just sounded like a feminine version of Stan's, "I'm Stacy."
"Stacy who?" Future-Stan demanded.
"Stacy..." the robotic echo was back, "Stacy Brofovski."
"What?!" cried both Stan and Kyle.
"No," the robotic tint became stronger, "Stacy... Milkshake.... No, Stacy Jelly... No!"
"Ha," laughed Future-Stan, "Give up, your cover's blown. I've seen droids like you before, whoever programmed you obviously didn't do a very good job."
"St-st-stacy... perfect girlfriend.... Stacy, Stan replacement..." Stacy began to suffer from violent spasms, and the boys could hear odd mechanical noises. "Zzzt! Zzzt! System failuuure..." her robotic voice trailed off and her hed bowed down, falling limply against her chest.
Kyle just stared at his "girlfriend" in shock.
"Well, that shit was weird," said Stan.
"OK," said Future-Stan, "Now we just need to make sure she's properly deactivated and-"
Suddenly Stacy's head shot back up, except now her eye sockets were completely hollowed out with a tiny red spot of laser light in each. Her face was completely devoid of emotion. She turned her head to one side and the movement was completely mechanical without even a hint of fluidity, they even heard the creak of the machinery.
"Model 3822X, mission failed," her voice was completely robotic, very deep and without even a suspicion of humanity, "Resorting to protocol D."
"What's protocol D?" asked Kyle, looking worried. His question had been directed towards the two Stans but the Stacy-bot turned to him – with another sickening creak; someone needed oiling – and answered.
"Protocol D: Destruction." And with that announcement she opened her mouth as far as it would go, then unhinged her jaw (which definitely isn't as sexy once your girlfriend is revealed to be crazy robot.) Kyle could see a ball of white light forming in the back of her throat,,he was just beginning to wonder what the fuck it was when Future-Stan jumped in.
"Look out!" he cried grabbing Kyle's arm and dragging him down. He got himself and Kyle under the table just in time, Stacy-bot released her light beam and it burned right through the part of the booth Kyle had been sitting in only seconds earlier.
"Dude!" cried Stan.
Stacy-bot turned towards him, "DESTROY!"
"Argh!" cried Stan, ducking and taking cover behind the next booth as she concentrated her light beam again. When she released it she destroyed the booth entirely. Stan's hat caught fire, and he screamed again as he took it off and stomped out the flame.
"What is wrong with you?!" he screamed at Stacy-bot.
"DESTROY!" she answered.
"Aw, fuck," he said, looking for a new place to take cover. He was up against a wall though, so things were looking pretty bleak. He felt great rush of relief as he spotted Kyle popping up from under the table with a big round metal serving tray he then hit Stacy-bot around the back of the head with.
Stacy-bot wavered slightly and swallowed down her light beam, but she recovered quickly and began to strangle Kyle in her metallic grip.
"Get off him!" ...is what Stan had been about to shout, but his future self said it first and was trying to wrestle Stacy bot off Kyle. Stan tried to help, but just couldn't get a hold on Stacy-bot. Future-Stan was holding her round her middle, trying to pull her off, so Stan tried to dislodge her hands from Kyle's throat, without much success.
"Fuck!" he cried.
"DESTROY!" said Stacy-bot.
"Glargh!" said Kyle.
And then everything went black.
Stan groggily opened one eye, through his blurred vision he could see ceiling tiles. Lots of ceiling tiles. In lots of colours. He slowly sat up, but fell straight back down due to the harsh dizziness that overtook him. He tried again, more cautiously, slightly rolled over to the side, and finally managed to sit upright.
He was still in Jelly's, but now on the floor surrounded by broken glass, and all the other customers seemed to have left. He was opposite an overturned booth with a laser-burnt hole in it. Between him and the booth was Kyle, just managing to sit up too, and looking equally dizzy.
"My head," he groaned, at least he was OK. To his left Future-Stan looked perfectly fine and was inspecting a seemingly deactivated Stacy-bot. Behind the booth, and a little to the right, they could see the cab of a truck sticking through the hole where the huge window screen had once been. Outside he could see the rest of the truck.
"What... the... fuck?" he managed to gasp out. He realized he had quite a few cuts from the glass on his hands, and reached up to his cheek. Yep, there was blood there too, but none of the cuts felt too deep, as far as he could tell.
Then, the oddest thing happened (well, relatively odd) a tiny wallaby hopped over the truck's cab and into Jelly's. And then another. And another! Soon enough there were about two dozen wallabies in the diner. Stan had to wonder if he was having some kind of fucked up dream when Kenny clambered over the debris and followed the wallabies into the diner.
"Shit, dudes! Are you OK?" he asked rushing over to them.
"I'm fine," said Kyle, standing up shakily, "Just kind of battered up."
Stan cleared his throat, "Uh, I think I'm OK too, mostly."
Kenny let out a sigh of relief, "Phew, because I definitely did not mean for that to happen."
"You caused this?!" asked Kyle.
Kenny sort of hunched over and rubbed t the back of is neck, "Well... Not exactly. I mean, it wasn't my fault."
"Whatever," said Kyle, "I'm just glad we're all alive." He walked over to Stan to help him up, which Stan was seriously grateful for, because he doubted he would have been able to manage alone and hadn't really wanted to go through the embarrassment of having to ask.
"What the hell, Kenny?" he asked once he was up (though he was still leaning on Kyle.)
"OK, so I sort of joined an Animal Rights group."
"Kenny!" said Kyle, in a sort of whine.
"I know, I know! But just hear me out, OK? These wallabies were going to be sold as meat! As turkey meat! How could I let that happen? I mean, just look at these guys," he grabbed the nearest wallaby and held it up for Stan and Kyle to see, "Isn't he cute?" The wallaby promptly bit him, making Kenny drop it. "Christ! You little fucker!" He clamped down on the bite with his other hand. "See if I ever do anything nice for your species ever again you bloody turkey meat!"
"... And we have Kenny back," said Kyle, which made Stan laugh, which kind of hurt.
"Sorry, guys," said Kenny, "But this seriously isn't my fault, not really. I was tailing the truck on my bike, when this yellow SUV showed up-"
"Yellow SUV?" asked Future-Stan, rushing over, "Where did you see it?"
"Uh, out on the street," said Kenny, pointing, "It tried to knock me over then kind of tried to ram the truck, but I guess something went wrong because the driver seemed to lose control of the wheel, he was swerving all over the place. Next thing I know he's out in front of the truck, which then kind of tried to avoid him and just ended up smashing into Jelly's. I was some distance behind, having tried to avoid the SUV from knocking me down, so I wasn't caught up in the crash.
"Wait a minute..." said Stan, "What about the driver?" Everyone turned towards the cab and became rather pale at the thought.
"I'll, uh, take a look," offered Kenny, climbed back over the debris, towards the cab, which had been relatively crushed. He was right by the door and peered inside. They heard him make a gagging noise. He climbed back down, his head bowed.
"Well," he said, "I don't think we're going to have to worry about medical attention. It's kind of too late."
"Oh," said Kyle. Stan grimaced. They didn't mourn for long though, as they heard a distinctively familiar voice call out.
"Ay! Which one of you motherfuckin' assholes released my cocaine kangaroos?" There, in the entrance of the diner, was Cartman, only he looked older and fatter than ever. His skin had an awful greasy sheen to it. It could only be Future-Cartman.
Future-Stan recovered first from the ghastly sight, probably because he was more used to it. "They're wallabies, you idiot, what are you even doing here?"
"What does it look like? I'm here to get my cocaine kangaroos and--" his eyes widened as he spotted Stacy-bot, "What the fuck did you do to mah robot?"
"Your robot?" asked Future-Stan, his anger clear as he stepped forward.
"Goddammit, I knew you'd have to get your goddamn faggy ass involved."
"You're trying to ruin my life! Of course I'm involved!"
"Oh, blah blah blah, whine whine whine. You fags always got to have something to complain about."
"Goddammit, Cartman, I swear I'll fucking kill you!"he began to charge but Stan grabbed onto his sleeve.
"Dude, don't, this is fucked up enough as it is."
Future-Stan sighed "You're right, thanks."
"Aww, the little fag's indulgin' in some self-lovin'! Tell me, does that make it masturbation?"
"You fat fuck!"
"Guys!" interjected Kenny, "I seriously don't get what the fuck is going on." They all turned to look at him.
"I'm seriously not in the mood to explain," said Stan.
"I don't think I'd know where to start," added Kyle.
"I pretty much don't give a shit," said Future-Cartman.
Future-Stan looked at Kenny apologetically, "Have we even gone over who I am?"
"No, but you're like Stan from the future, right?"
"Uh, yeah, actually," said Future-Stan.
"Well, that sure saved some time," said Stan.
"Ay! If you faggy little fags have finished your faggy little tea party, let's get down to business."
"What do you even want, Cartman?" asked Future-Stan.
"Well, seeing as you've destroyed my robot and therefore completely ruined my plan, my calculations would imply that you owe me."
"And you ruined my cocaine-kangaroo side plan!"
"Well I had to occupy my time somehow. I might as well make money off of the stupid-ass past people."
"So you thought you'd just transport cocaine in the pouches of innocent wallabies?" asked Kenny, accusingly. The others turned to stare at him, "What? Can't a guy have a little compassion for his fellow living creatures?"
"You set a dog on fire two weeks ago," Kyle reminded him.
"Ha, oh, yeah, that was sick!" said Kenny, chuckling.
Kyle turned to Future-Cartman, "What exactly was your cocaine-kangaroo side-plan?"
"Kyle! Don't encourage him!" Future-Stan complained.
"What? I'm just curious."
"Curious as to how to make money, are we, my little jew friend?"
"I'm not your friend."
Cartman ignored him and crossed the now empty diner. He grabbed a wallaby that had been sat on the counter, nibbling at an abandoned plate of fried eggs. As he held it by the neck in one hand, he dove his other hand into the pouch, causing the distressed wallaby to struggle against him even more.
"Ah ha!" he cried as he took out a small plastic bag from the pouch and dropped the wallaby (which quickly ran as far away from him as it could possibly get.) He held up the tiny plastic bag for the others to see, it was filled with a white powder.
"Wait... You smuggled cocaine in wallaby pouches?" asked Kyle.
"Yeah!" said Cartman, proudly.
"Amazing?" suggested Cartman, "A stroke of genius?"
"I was going to say low, really low."
"Yeah, well, what do you know you stupid Jew?"
Kyle ignored the insult. "What I want to know," he pressed on, "Is what you meant by Stacy being your robot."
Cartman snorted, "Well, duh, I mean she's my robot. I'm the one who got some geek to program her after I stole her from Pineapple's HQ."
"You stole her from Kyle's company?" cried Future-Stan, clearly outraged.
"I have a company?" asked Kyle.
"Uh, future-you, does..." said Future-Stan, his anger gone, replaced by a sense of Aw, Fuck.
"Awesome! And I make robots?"
"Uh, Kyle, now really isn't the time and I can't tell you anyway."
"What do you mean you can't tell him?" asked Cartman, "What's the point in keeping it a secret how stupid and faggy his stupid faggy tech compny is?"
"Cartman!" warned Future-Stan, but it just spurred him on.
"Or that you're the faggiest actor in Hollywood since Zac Efron?"
"I'm an actor?" asked Stan, completely amazed.
"Thanks a lot, you fat fuck!" Future-Stan spat at Cartman, "And I'm a director now, actually," he added in a mumble.
"Oh, please! One faggy indie movie doesn't make you James Cameron."
"Like you even know what your talking about!"
"Well you obviously don't know what you're doing or you would have let Candii be in your movie!"
"She can't act for shit!"
"Yes, she can!" Cartman screamed, "She is the most beautiful and talented actress in all of Hollywood, in all of the world!"
"She's a porn star!"
"Ay! That's my fiancée you're talking about."
"No, I mean she literally stars in porn."
Cartman stuck his fingers in his ears, "La la la la, I can't hear you."
Future-Stan rubbed the bridge of his nose, "Man, this is pretty fucked up right here."
"You're telling us?" said Stan.
"Oh, right, sorry."
Cartman abruptly turned around and pointed a gun at them.
"Da fuck?" said Kenny, as they all stuck their hands up.
"Don't shoot, you idiot!" cried Kyle.
"Relax, you little bitch, I'm not going to shoot you, I'm going to shoot Stan." Kyle choked on a sob.
"What? Why?" asked Stan.
"No, not you, you little queen, that one," he clarified, gesturing to Future-Stan with the gun. Future-Stan remained silent and stoic, his stare fixed on Cartman.
"Where did he even pull that gun from?" Kenny wondered aloud.
"From one of mah special pockets," answered Cartman, happily.
"He means from between two rolls of fat," said Future-Stan without missing a beat, and without breaking eye contact.
"Ay! Might I kindly remind you I have a gun pointed at you?"
"What? It's true."
"Goddammit, Stanley!" Cartman released the safety an drew his arm higher, really aiming for Future-Stan's face.
"No!" cried Stan, "Why do you even want to kill me? Uh, him?"
"Because you ruined my wedding day you little fucker!" cried Cartman, spit flying everywhere in his rage.
"OK, I officially don't understand anything any more," said Kenny, "I'm going for a smoke."
"Nobody moves!" screamed Cartman, pointing his gun onto Kenny.
"All right! All right! I'll stay here."
"Thank you," said Cartman. His sudden calmness and polite tone were far more creepy than his preceding madness.
"Cartman," said Future-Stan as calmly as possible, "I have not ruined your wedding."
"Yes, you have!" whined Cartman, stomping his foot. "You just had to get married at the same time as me and ruin my life, didn't you?"
"Cartman, I'm gettng married in May, you're getting married in November."
"Yes, but it's the same year!" Cartman was getting hysterical now.
"So what? What does that have to do with anything?" Future-Stan was trying to stay diplomatic on account of the tiny issue of Cartman having a gun aimed at him – though Cartman did tend to wave it around somewhat during his ranting – but Cartman always got a rise out of them, whether he was trying to or not.
"It has to do with everything!" shouted Cartman, "That stupid High School Musical remake you did means you will always be top of People Magazine's lists, including Wedding of the Year. And I need that top spot, I need it."
"Why else do you think I'm marrying Cindii Ca$h? Weddings suck balls. I just need to get into People Magazine."
"I don't follow," said Future-Stan, and it really was sincere.
"Oh, keep up! Me and Cindii are supposed to have the hugest wedding ever to be named Wedding of the Year by People Magazine, then Cheesy Poofs will have to pick me as their spokesperson. That'll teach them to reject me eighteen times n row!"
"Wait a minute," interjected Kyle, "What does any of this have to do with time travel and robots?"
Cartman groaned in aggravation. "God, you're such a dumb shit, Kyle. By manipulating you into dating a robot, I make sure you never date Stan, so you guys never get married, so you never steal my Wedding of the Year title."
Future-Stan slapped his palm to his forehead. "And you've just revealed something I was desperately trying to keep a secret. Fuck you, Cartman, fuck you."
"You're welcome, Stanley," said Cartmn sweetly – in the psycho-saccharine sense – he held his gun up to Future-Stan's face again, "Now say goodbye."
Cartman's creepy grin widened even more, and it was obvious how sweet the thought of pulling the trigger tasted to him. Future-Stan saw him stroke his finger against the trigger just before coming down to pull it.
"DESTROY!" cried Stacy-bot suddenly springing back to life. They all jumped in surprise,including Cartman, who fell backwards and ended up shooting a ceiling tile. It landed on Kenny's head.
"Oh, my God, you killed Kenny!" cried Stan.
"You bastard!" said Kyle.
"Guys," coughed Kenny, "'m not dead." He was curled up on the floor, shaking off bits of plaster. Stan and Kyle took no notice.
"TORNADO MODE, ACTIVATED," announced Stacy-bot. Her body split at the waist and she stuck her arms out. Razor-sharp blades sprang from her forearms. The next thing they new she was spinning around like crazy, destroying everything in her path and coming towards them.
"Run!" cried Kyle.
"Well, duh!" said Future-Stan, as they ran across the diner. Future-Stan, Stan and Kyle jumped over the counter and crouched down beneath it. Kenny joined them seconds later.
"Kenny!" cried Kyle, "You're alive!"
"Of course I am, you dumb fuck!"
"Guys," said Future-Stan, "Now is not the time! Get down!" They all crouched down as low as they could, trying to get as far under the counter's shelves as they could; Stacy-bot was sending ll sorts of debris flying all over the place.
"Yeah! Awesome!" they heard Cartman shout, "Go, robot, go!" Then seconds later, "Wait, what? What do you think you're doing? Don't come towards me, they're over there! No, robot, no, that's a bad robot! No!"
The boys cautiously slid out of their cover to try and see what was going on. Stacy-bot was no longer in "tornado mode," she had her back to them and was slowly advancing towards Cartman. Her arms still had blades poking out of them, but her right arm had now become a laser gun.
"DESTROY!" she roared in her metallic pre-recorded voice. Cartman cowered and sobbed beneath her as she aimed her gun-arm at him. Stacy raised her arm and began concentrating her beam into a ball of light, all set to release it, but before she could, her arm was blown to pieces, sending metal shrapnel flying. Stan even had to dodge one bit.
There, in the entrance of the diner, stood Future-Kyle with his own laser-gun (in his hand, it wasn't part of is arm, obviously)
"Kyle!" cried Future-Stan.
"Stan!" cried Future-Kyle in return. They ran towards each other and hugged tightly.
"Fags!" Future-Cartman coughed out, having stood up properly now that Stacy-bot was just glitching around ("Bzzt... Bzzt... System Failure... Must Repair... Bzzt." ) Future-Kyle didn't say a word, he simply shot his laser-gun at Future-Cartman's feet, making the fat man jump. "Ay!" Kyle shot at his feet again. And then again. He kept doing so, making the fat man dance.
"Stop it!" pleaded Future-Cartman, "Stop it, Kyle!" He was whining now.
Future-Kyle did stop, eventually, "You bastard," he spat out. He turned to Future-Stan, "Are you OK?" He held on to Future-Stan's arm, and Future-Stan leaned into his touch, covering Future-Kyle's hand with his own.
"I've been better," he joked. They stared at each other for the longest time, smiling in an odd, secret way. Neither Stan nor Kyle were too sure what they were seeing (well, actually, it's more that neither had even a clue regarding what to what to think of it all.)
Future-Kyle eventually broke the stare and his gaze fell back onto Stacy-bot. "Hang on," he told them. He walked over to Stacy-bot, who was pretty much in spasms due to severe glitches. He very calmly reached out and held her by the back of the neck, and started fumbling around in her hair with his index finger. "Ah ha!" he said, and suddenly Stacy-bot shut down entirely, falling to the ground like the pile of metal she was. "Her off button is at the back of her head, just beneath where the skull should be," Future-Kyle explained.
Kyle – Teenage-Kyle – stepped forward. "Did you make her?" he asked. For the first time the two Kyles were stood opposite each other. The first thought that crossed Kyle's mind was that at least his future self seemed to be keeping in good shape, and he was glad that at some point in his life he had apparently managed to sort out his hair and get it into a decent style.
"So did you?" he asked his future self, pointing at the deactivated Stacy-bot.
Future-Kyle hesitated. "Yes," he admitted, "But I'm definitely not responsible for the havoc she created here. And I'd like to point out that that dickhead had her reprogrammed." He turned to glare at Future-Cartman, who had made the most of the downtime to sit at a table and finish off the waffles someone had abandoned during the crash. He didn't even notice the attention had shifted to him; he was too bust stuffing his face.
Future-Kyle grunted in disgust. "I'll have to work on a way to keep my products from being reprogrammed."
"What exactly is it you make?" asked Kyle.
Future-Kyle grinned, "Everything." Kyle just stared at him so he clarified. "OK, so maybe not everything, but Pineapple is definitely the most advanced company in consumer tech."
"Think Apple, but better. Like, what if your iPhone was a robot?... One that doesn't pretend to be your girlfriend then try to kill you, that is."
"Kyle!" interjected Future-Stan, "You can't just tell them all this! They already know too much."
"But think about it, we have no memory of any of this, so they probably forget as soon as we leave, right?"
"But what if we're changing the past?"
"If we were changing it that much, we would have noticed by now, wouldn't we? Like when Marty McFly starts disappearing in Back to the Future."
"You can't just base your reasoning on a movie! What if it only takes effect once we travel back and we end up in a completely different future?"
As Future-Stan and Future-Kyle continued debating over time travel theories, Stan turned to Kyle and Kenny. "Dude, this is seriously fucked up right here."
"Only a little more than it was earlier," said Kyle as a wallaby hopped by. They shared a look and just sort of smiled at each other.
"Fuck, you guys," said Kenny, "What are we even doing?" Stan and Kyle seemed to fall back down to earth as Kenny burst their little bubble.
"Umm, I dunno," said Stan, as articulate as ever.
At that moment Future-Stan and Future-Kyle came over to them.
"So, as lovely a this was we're going home now," Future-Stan announced.
"I can open a portal, but it will be the absolute last chance we have," said Future-Kyle, he turned to Future-Cartman and shouted, "Hear that, you fat fuck? Time to go." He turned to Future-Stan, "There no way we can leave him here to muck up our lives."
"Fine, I'm coming you Jew-rag, I need to get back to Candii anyway."
"I can't believe Cartman ever gets a girlfriend," said Kenny, looking a little sick.
"Well, she isn't exactly the sharpest pencil in the box," said Stan with a shrug.
"Come on!" urged Kyle, "We need to get outside for this."
They all stepped out into the street, the diner in ruins behind them.
"Wow, I can't believe we were in that thing," said Kyle. A small group of wallabies had now gathered on the roof (or what was left of it.)
Future-Kyle shoved his hand into his pocket and took out a small device that looked like a remote control.
"I'll just scan the area..." he muttered to himself, holding out the remote control and letting it little beeping sounds guide him. "Ah ha! Here it is!" he declared stopping in the middle of the street. Luckily the road was blocked off by the crashed truck. Future-Kyle began punching away at buttons very busily, leaving the rest of them to twiddle their thumbs and wait (except Future-Cartman, who was complaining loudly, but they all ignored him.)
"OK," Future-Kyle announced, "This should open the portal long enough for us to get back home, I just need to calculate one last coordinate to make sure I get the date right..."
Stan was looking down the street, out towards the horizon when he saw a man running towards them, he was followed by a rather plump woman. She was managing to keep up because he kept slowing down for her. As they got closer he could see that it was Sheila and Javier. Javier was still wearing his pool boy T-shirt, but Sheila had thankfully changed out of her leopard-print legging. She was now wearing shiny black ones, but at least they were the lesser of two evils.
"We made it!" cried Javier.
"Oh, but Javier, I still don't want you to go," Sheila gasped out.
He cupped her face in his hands. "We've talked about this, Sheila. I'm sorry but I must. I'll be back, though, I promise."
"Oh, Javier!" Sheila cried out, hugging him and burying her head into his chest.
He stroked her back soothingly, "Shh, I know, I know."
"What the fuck?" asked Kyle. They had all become an unwilling audience to the odd scene.
"Kyle!" called Sheila, "You'll never guess! Javier is from the future!"
"... That doesn't sound as far-fetched as you might think."
Sheila took no notice of his comment. "And he's not really a pool-boy," she continued, "That's just his cover. He's actually a nurse!" Javier was stood to one side, holding her hand and gazing at her adoringly. "He told me he works in the retirement home I live in in the future, in his time, forty years from now. He told me we fell in love and that he travelled back in time just to be with me, isn't that romantic?"
The boys all looked at each other with a general sense of "What the fuck?"
"Well, that's the next Nicolas Sparks move right there," Kenny eventually said.
"Hang on," said Kyle, "If you're from forty years in the future, why would you want to travel ten years into the future."
"I'm only here by mistake," said Javier, "My time travel permit only allows me to be no more than thirty years away from the original time point, I -- how you say? -- overshot it a bit. I will travel ten years from now and find Sheila again there."
"I'll wait for you," she said and he leaned down and kissed her.
"Ack!" said Kyle, looking away.
"OK, and we're ready!" announced Future-Kyle, "All those travelling to the future, please line up over here."
After a very tearful separation between Sheila and Javier, and lots of grumbling from Future-Cartman the future travellers were all lined up behind Future-Kyle, who set a small metallic disk on the ground in front of him. he then stepped back and pointed the remote control at it, punching out a seemingly random series of combinations on the buttons.
The next thing they knew a huge blue portal opened u from the disk, it was pretty much just a floating spiral of light with a suction effect to it. Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Sheila found themselves struggling not to be pulled in.
"Bye, guys!" shouted Future-Stan as he jumped in after Future-Kyle, pulling Future-Cartman in with them.
"Sheila, I love you, don't forget me!" shouted Javier as he followed suit. Once they were all through te spiral became smaller and smaller, before eventually disappearing entirely and giving off a huge blast of incredible bright light that sent Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Sheila flying, then crashing to the ground. Stan felt his head hit the road with a dull thud.
When Stan opened his eyes, he was in hospital.
His mother gasped. "Oh, honey, you're awake!" She rushed over to hug him, causing him to yelp in pain. "Sorry!"
"They're not sure, honey, they found you knocked out stone cold in the street by Jelly's. Apparently there had been an accident. Something about a truck of wallabies, and the paramedics hadn't been able to get there any sooner due to a marsupial allergy."
"Oh," said Stan, honestly not sure he had even understood what his mother just said. "Where's Kyle?"
"He's just outside, why don't I go get him and give you two some time alone together?"
Stan just grunted in confirmation, not really up to much else. He closed his eyes and only opened them once he felt Kyle climb up onto his bed and sit cross-legged at the end of it.
"'Sup, dude?" he asked, making Stan smile.
"Not much, you?"
Kyle shrugged, "Mild concussion. Mostly fine now."
"What about Kenny?"
"Well, the doctors here have a really sick sense of humour. One of them told me he had died and his corpse had been eaten by rabid wallabies, but I saw him this morning and he's fine."
"Nothing much, just shock. Says she hardly remembers anything from yesterday or the day before."
Stan frowned, his own memory was rather clouded. "Do you remember anything?"
Kyle shrugged, "Yes and no, it's kind of weird, apparently it's normal after head trauma though, so..."
"Right." Stan just couldn't shake the feeling that he was forgetting something important. Something major and life-changing. An answer of sorts. Except now he couldn't even grasp either the answer or the problem, he was just left with a teasing sense of doubt.
Kyle could see his frown deepening so he reached out and took his hand. "Hey," he said, "Relax. Don't worry about it. The doctors said it might take a while to re-situate things." And Stan did relax. He relaxed into Kyle's touch and let himself be soothed by his words. He had had this crazy feeling for a moment that he had everything figured out perfectly, and he couldn't believe he had suddenly lost the answer as quickly as it had come, without even remembering what it was. And it might be crazy, he thought, as he looked over at Kyle – who met his gaze -- but Stan felt like he just knew that answer couldn't be too far off.