Chapter 3: Midnight Minus 1 Day 11 Hourswritten by fallingwthstyle - illustrated by Hausinge and Sifl-senpai
"For Christ's sake! I know what to do with suppositories! Just get them out of here!!" Linda Rogo screamed from the cabin across the hall.
Even if their door had been closed, Stan and Kyle would have heard her; they heard most everything the Rogos fought about. A moment later, they heard her husband's voice, softer and placating: "Aww, hon..."
Kyle burped a sort of laugh, even though he was about to puke his guts up again. He, along with over half the people on the ship, was suffering from motion sickness as the ship was tossed in the rough seas. He was lying on his side on the bed, his head hanging over the mattress with a waste basket below him to catch his vomit; it had already caught a considerable amount. Stan was behind him, spooning him and trying to brace him as the ship pitched violently. Even as Kyle was barely managing not to throw up again, and they were both clinging to the bed against the rocking of the ship, they were laughing at the ridiculous exchange they had just heard from across the hallway. Stan looked up, saw the Rogo's cabin door across the hall open, and said quietly: "I think we're next, dude."
"Oh, thank God," Kyle moaned miserably. He retched and spat up another mouthful of foul tasting liquid. There was a firm knock at the door.
Stan sat up. There was a kindly looking older man standing at the door, appearing harried but clearly in charge and clearly a doctor with a very alert looking nurse beside him carrying a medical bag. "Doctor Caravello," he said crisply, not waiting to be invited in as he stepped over to the bed.
Stan tried to give them as much information as he could as quickly as possible. "We're glad you're here, doctor. He probably has the same sea sickness everyone else does...but you should also know that he's a well-controlled diabetic, and he had a single kidney transplant about fifteen years ago. He's done great with it...at least so far."
The doctor took this in with obvious interest. "Nurse," he said, looking at the woman who was already shaking a thermometer and swooping in to do a thorough exam.
"Can you hold this under your tongue honey, or do you think you need to barf again?" she asked him, kneeling on the floor next to the waste basket, holding the thermometer up to Kyle's face. Kyle nodded and opened his mouth and she slid the thermometer under his tongue, already reaching for his wrist to take his pulse. She slid a blood pressure cuff onto Kyle's arm and pressed a button on the gadget attached to it, and the cuff tightened around his arm with a soft hum. Stan stepped back to let them work, and Kenny and Wendy came into the room to stand next to him. Butters was standing just outside the door, looking both guilty and terrified.
"Pulse is 104, doctor. His blood pressure is..." The nurse waited for the machine to show its readout. "100 over 74."
"Have you checked his blood sugar recently?" the doctor asked Stan.
Stan nodded. "Yes sir, about twenty minutes ago. It was good...105. That's about average for him." He showed the doctor Kyle's meter.
The doctor nodded and knelt down to examine Kyle himself, grasping one of his hands and pinching the skin on the back of it, then squeezing one of his fingertips hard for a moment to see how fast blood flowed back into the nail bed. "You're showing some signs of early dehydration, son," the doctor said, pulling down on Kyle's cheeks to peer into his eyes. The slightest bit of yellowing there would prompt a medical emergency, perhaps requiring Kyle to be transported to a landside hospital; fortunately his eyes, while bloodshot, were free of any signs of jaundice. "Right now I think you're okay...but you're going to need to get some fluids into you and keep them there soon."
"What do we need to do, doc?" Stan asked, stepping forward. The nurse was already reaching into the medical bag and retrieving two small packages. Each one looked like they contained a single miniature Tootsie Roll.
"Well, as you probably heard just now, we're prescribing the usual for this, a Compazine suppository for the nausea, one now and another in eight hours if he's still feeling sick. Your neighbor across the hall is obviously well-versed on how to use it, but just so we're clear, you don't swallow it, you stick it up your ass." Kyle laughed, then retched and vomited again.
The doctor went on, speaking to Stan: "I would usually be less blunt, but I have at least sixty more passengers to see...but I want you to make sure your friend gets some fluids into him." The nurse pulled a Gatorade bottle from the bag, and the doctor said: "Give them two, please." He took the two bottles from her and handed them to Stan. "If he doesn't get at least one of these down and keep it there in the next hour or so, get in touch with me through the switchboard. Wait fifteen minutes after he gets the suppository for some of his nausea to pass before he starts. Small sips only at first, and try to get him to eat something salty afterward, like pretzels or something"
Wendy stepped forward. "Doctor, I'm an ER physician in Park County, Colorado." She was already digging into her wallet for her credentials. "I'd be happy to help with a few of your patients, if I'm allowed to that is, and if it'll help."
The doctor took Wendy's credentials eagerly and studied them. "Doctor... Testaburger? I'd be glad to pass a few of them on to you. If you could take eight or ten of these off my hands, you'd make my day a whole lot better."
"Of course." Wendy took her paperwork back. "Handing out suppositories is first year stuff." The ship rocked again, only this time more violently, heeling over dangerously with an audible groan as its superstructure was pushed to its limits. Everyone instinctively grabbed something to brace themselves against the sudden tilting of the floor beneath their feet. Several things in the room toppled over and crashed to the floor, and from outside the cabin they heard the sounds of breaking glass and several people shouting. For a few moments it seemed like the ship wasn't going to right herself again at all and just keep rolling over, but then she slowly recovered and leaned less precariously the other way with another groan. Stan realized with horror that Kyle had been on the bed alone during that, and had barely managed to keep himself from being thrown to the floor. He sat back down on the bed and put his hand on Kyle's shoulder.
They all looked around at each other, relieved that they were still upright. Wendy broke the nervous silence that had fallen, her voice a shaky laugh: "I'm pretty good with sutures, too."
"Good, but—" Dr. Caravello said, looking around nervously. "Any injuries, or anything besides sea sickness, please just give back to me." He was clearly trying to take charge again. "If you could pass out suppositories to sick people after the quickest physical exam you can manage, that would be a huge help. If you see anything that looks like a stroke or a heart attack, get in touch with me immediately through the switchboard. We'll call them and tell them to give you as much courtesy as they give me." The nurse picked the cabin's bedside phone off the floor where it had just fallen to place the call.
The doctor continued: "If anyone is showing signs of being dehydrated, give them a bottle of Gatorade and tell them to drink it slowly, I gave Mr. Broflovski two bottles because I want his gimp kidney to start getting busy again. And because your cabin has been the best stop I've had all day, and I've seen almost fifty passengers already. It's refreshing not to have to deal with morons." That last was directed at Stan and Wendy. "If anyone gives you a hard time, call the switchboard and hand them back over to me."
"I'll go with her," Kenny said. "No one is going to give her a hard time."
"Good. Let's take this out into the hall so Mr. Broflovski can start getting better." Stan herded everyone out, nodding gratefully at the doctor.
"I hope you feel better soon, Kyle!" Butters called from the door, as he looked at Stan with a worried expression. Stan nodded at him, and then closed the door, locked it, quickly went back to the bed and lay down behind Kyle again. He tore open one of the small packages the nurse had given them where Kyle could see what he was doing, and then reached over Kyle's hip for the buckle on his pants. He unsnapped it, pulled down Kyle's zipper, loosened up everything and gently tugging his pants and underwear down together. Kyle could feel cool air blowing across his ass.
"Really, Stanley?" Kyle whispered. He would be beyond humiliated if it were anyone else doing this for him right now. For some reason, he thought about playing Guitar Hero with Stan years ago, in his living room 5,000 miles away.
"You only call me Stanley under the direst circumstances," Stan said. He gently pressed the waxy capsule against Kyle' anus. "I guess this qualifies, huh?"
Kyle snorted. "God, Stan. How come you always know exactly the right thing to say, no matter how fucked up everything is?"
"Because we're the super best friends, dude," Stan said without hesitation and gently pushed the suppository in. His finger only stayed long enough to ensure it had been delivered, then carefully withdrew. He gently pinched Kyle's ass cheeks together with his fingertips, as if to help push the suppository in further by sheer force of will.
They cuddled for a long time afterward, after Stan had pulled Kyle's clothes somewhat back into place and covered them both with the sheet. The ship was noticeably rocking less. "Kyle...how do you feel now?" Stan checked his watch; it had been almost fifteen minutes.
"Better." It had been awhile since he'd retched or brought anything up. "Thirsty, even. I think I should have some of that Gatorade."
"Just sip a little, okay?" Stan said, sitting up and reaching for one of the bottles. He helped Kyle sit up, letting him lean against him while he unscrewed the lid of the Gatorade bottle and handed it to him, ready to take it back if he gulped it. Kyle took a small sip, then another, and handed the bottle back. He sat up straighter, leaning against the headboard, Stan moving to sit up next to him, happy to see some of the color coming back to Kyle's face.
"Notice that the storm is almost over?" Kyle said. He managed a weak smile "It fucking figures...two minutes after you shove a goddam horse pill up my ass, the weather clears up. The doctor should have made me his first stop."
Stan laughed, at Kyle's joke plus his relief that he really was feeling better. Kyle took the Gatorade back and had a couple more sips. He went on: "This is like that time at the water park when we were kids, when all the water turned into pee. And just because I could hold my breath longer than anyone else, I was elected to swim down and open that valve, and then the army came to rescue everyone, ten seconds after I drank—" He stopped himself and sipped more Gatorade. "You know what, just forget I had that thought."
"I won't ever mention it," Stan replied, already deciding to give him a huge ration of shit about it later, when he was back on his feet and feeling normal again.
Kyle settled back against the headboard. "I'm feeling, like, a million times better already."
Stan rubbed his shoulder. "Good! The doc said you should eat something salty, like pretzels. Why don't I run across the hall and get a couple of bags?" Kyle nodded and Stan stood up. He spent a moment deciding between putting on his slippers, his Nikes, or just wearing his socks and decided on the socks. He opened their cabin door and stepped out into the hall.
The Rogo's cabin door opened a moment later, and Mike Rogo stepped out. He appeared distracted, looking at his feet for a moment, before looking up and noticing Stan. He regarded Stan for a moment with a withering look.
"The doc said she should eat some pretzels," he finally said. He sounded quite angry about this.
"Yeah," Stan said, stepping forward. "I was just going to get some for Kyle."
Mike Rogo seemed lost for words for a moment. He was a big, burly man wearing a white tee shirt, suspenders, and a perpetually angry expression. Stan recalled hearing somewhere (probably during one of their 'conversations') that he used to be a detective on the New York City police force.
"They have stuff like that there?" he asked, looking across the hall at the three vending machines behind the glass wall.
"They have potato chips, pretzels, all kinds of stuff," Stan replied, starting to walk across the hall. Mike fell in behind him, and Stan pulled out his wallet once he was standing in front of the row of vending machines. He saw one of them had Rold Gold Pretzels and put a dollar bill into the machine and pushed the button under them. The pretzel bag dropped to the slot at the bottom, and Stan bought another bag for himself then moved to his right to buy two bottles of water.
"Shit..." Mike said irritably behind him. He pulled a ten dollar bill from his wallet; it was apparently the smallest bill he had, and the machines only took dollar bills.
"Here," Stan said, handing him his last three dollars. "Just pay me back whenever."
Mike took the three bills and stared at them for a moment. "Thanks, kid." He still sounded angry; Stan was beginning to think that was just how he was all the time. Stan began to walk away as Mike made his own purchases. "You know, this is the first vacation we've been on since we got married." He sounded more sad than angry now. "First real chance we've had to get away."
Stan stopped and turned around. Mike was holding two bags of pretzels and regarding them thoughtfully. "Yeah...?"
"I hated seeing her get sick like that. Linda's had a hard life; I just wanted her to have a good time on this cruise." He stood up straighter, as if suddenly realizing he was pouring his heart out to an almost total stranger who had just loaned him three dollars. "She was really sick for a while."
Stan sighed, not sure how to answer. He surprised himself when he replied: "Kyle's diabetic. And he had a kidney transplant when he was a kid. I was pretty worried, too."
Mike's eyes went from his pretzels to meet Stan's. He regarded him coolly. "Is he feeling better now?" They started walking back toward their cabins.
"Yeah, he is. I don't know if it was that...horse pill, or just that the storm ended right after he used it."
"Yeah, I'm probably going to catch hell from Linda for that too," Mike said, and laughed for the first time since Stan had met him. They smiled at each other, seeming to form an uneasy friendship. They arrived at Mike's cabin door. "Wait here a minute.I'll go get your money." He went inside, returning a moment later with three dollars. He offered Stan his hand and they shook. "Thanks again, kid. I'm Mike, by the way."
"Stan Marsh. Um...good night, Mike. I hope Linda feels better."
"Thanks, Stan. Same for Kyle."
Stan crossed the hall to their cabin shaking his head. He tossed the two bags onto the bed and sat down crossed legged next to Kyle. He had almost finished the first bottle of Gatorade and reached eagerly for one of the pretzel bags.
"I just had an interesting conversation," Stan said. He told Kyle about his encounter with their loud neighbor from across the hall. "He's not really that bad of a guy. That constantly being angry thing he's got going on...that's his normal baseline, dude."
Kyle laughed, spraying pretzel crumbs. He wiped his mouth. "Tweek's terrified of both of them. Let's not make dinner plans with them just yet, okay?"
"Sure. Speaking of food, do you think you'll feel up to some lunch soon?"
"More like a nap really." They finished eating their pretzels in silence, and Kyle lay down on the bed facing away from Stan, knowing that he would lay down behind him so they could spoon. Stan did, tracing his fingers through Kyle's curls, smoothing some of his hair from his forehead. He had sweat a lot while he was sick.
Kyle lay still for a moment enjoying the attention, then rolled over, facing Stan and pressing his face against the collar of his shirt. He slid a hand under its hem, running his fingertips through Stan's chest hair and stopping at his right nipple, caressing it lightly. "Hey, Stan?" he whispered, pressing a kiss against Stan's throat beside his Adam's apple. "Thank you."
Stan was taken aback. "You're welcome, Kyle. Um...for...?
"For taking such good care of me," Kyle replied as if it were obvious. "I really thought I was dying for a while there. And I know the doctor was worried about my kidney. When Mrs. Rogo yelled that about suppositories, I kind of pictured going into the bathroom and...having to do that by myself. And I didn't think I'd even be able to stand up." He smiled and kissed Stan's throat again. "You handled that with your usual aplomb ...my mother would be proud of you."
"Aw." Stan laughed. "I love you, Kyle! Of course I'm going to take care of you."
"I love you too." Kyle put his cheek on Stan's chest, still caressing him inside his shirt. "And"—he tapped Stan's chest with his index finger "—because you took care of me, I'm going to take care of you later. Right after midnight? You're going to give me the best ass pounding you've given me all year."
Stan's eyes widened. "Oh, really now?" He suddenly laughed. "Wait—that'll be the only one I've given you all year..."
"Stan...play the cards you're dealt."
"Yes, sir," Stan replied, laughing.
Kyle got up on one elbow and grinned at him. "But first I need to rest up for it." He reached behind Stan and turned off the bedside lamp. Their cabin had no window, so the only light now was the one coming from the bathroom.
Kyle lay back down with his head on Stan's shirt, caressing his chest hair again. He was asleep a minute later, and Stan closed his eyes, listening to him softly snoring.
Two hours later, Kenny and Butters were standing outside Kyle and Stan's cabin. "Do you think we should knock again?" Butters asked nervously. Kenny had rejoined him five minutes ago, Wendy's rounds of the ship finally complete.
Kenny reached for the doorknob. "Stan said if they were fucking, they'd lock their door," he replied, turning the knob and walking into the dimly lit room. He took one look at the two figures huddled under a sheet on the bed and held up his hand. Stan and Kyle were both deeply asleep, Stan's face now pressed against Kyle's back, each snoring softly to their own rhythm.
"Oh, geez," Butters said quietly, smiling. "Kyle must have been exhausted after that."
"I don't have the heart to wake them," Kenny replied, pulling Butters close as they looked at Stan and Kyle sleeping peacefully together. "Why don't we see what kind of mischief we can get into for a couple hours without them, okay?"
Butters grinned at him. "Let's just stay away from our cabin, or I know what kind of mischief we'll get into!"
Kenny snorted laughter and they turned away and quickly walked back out into the hallway, closing the cabin door quietly behind them. Wendy, Dr. Caravello, and the nurse were standing nearby, conferring together. Wendy was scribbling notes in the patients' charts she'd been given and handing them to the nurse.
"I went to ten cabins and handed out a grand total of six suppositories," Wendy said to the doctor as Kenny and Butters joined them. "That storm ended, and everybody started telling me they were feeling better."
"And passengers are cancelling their appointments," the doctor said cheerfully, writing his own notes on his stack of charts. "I think the crisis is over."
Tweek walked up to them, having climbed two flights up the grand staircase from Broadway. He looked winded, and the shirt he was wearing was drenched with sweat. "That was awesome!" he said happily. He mopped sweat from his forehead with a towel and grinned. He'd bought his own mirrored sunglasses three days ago and they were currently perched atop his head in his wild mane of blonde hair. "It was like walking in a giant sauna!"
"We're going up on deck," Butters said. "To see what's left up there after the apocalypse. You coming?"
"I'm going to take a shower first!" Tweek replied. He was happy, and also remarkably calm. Stan had been right: This cruise had done wonders for him. Or at least wearing himself out walking for several hours a day had. "I'll see you guys in a little while!" He went into his cabin, pulling his shirt off his scrawny frame even before he'd closed the door.
Kenny, Butters, and Wendy made their way down the short hallway and outside the ship. The late afternoon sun was sinking toward the ship's wake behind them.
Butters pointed out a small gathering, maybe thirty people in rows of chairs, listening to an outdoor church service. They wandered in that direction, pausing a short distance away to listen. Butters leaned his forearms against a railing, Wendy and Kenny settling on either side of him. The preacher was tall, dark haired, and extremely charismatic; his rhetoric soon drew them in.
"You know," Kenny said after several minutes. "If Father Maxi were half as interesting as this guy, I'd probably go to church more."
Butters nodded at him, and saw over his shoulder Belle and Manny Rosen approaching them, accompanied by Tweek. He had showered, put on fresh clothes, and was escorting Belle by her forearm, her husband on her other side. Kenny and Butters turned to greet them. "This is quite an interesting sermon," Kenny commented. "I've seen him around the ship a few times. I had no idea he was a priest."
"That's Reverend Scott," Belle said fondly. "He is quite something. We gather his church has sent him somewhere on this side of the world to do missionary work."
"I like what he has to say about personal responsibility," Manny took his wife's hand. "About asking God to work with you to solve your problems, not asking him to solve them for you."
"Isn't that right, Robin?" Reverend Scott suddenly said, speaking to his congregation but clearly addressing a ten year old boy in the crowd, who looked up and grinned.
The Reverend continued, leaning over a railing, using it as a pulpit. "So...what resolutions should we make for the new year? Resolve to let God know that you have the guts and the will to do it alone! Resolve to fight for yourselves, and for others, and for those you love."
Butters was fascinated by the sermon. Kenny's attention was elsewhere. "I've been seeing that kid all over this ship too," he said. "He was up here on deck a couple hours ago during that storm, heading toward the bridge."
"So have I!" Tweek laughed. "We've been, ah, trading high scores on that missile command game near our cabins." He explained what he meant.
The service was ending when Kenny said, "Maybe we should go check on Stan and Kyle again."
"Stan and Kyle are fine," Kyle said, joining them with Stan in tow. "Going to church now, Kenny?"
"Just observing from afar," Kenny laughed, happy to see Kyle on his feet again. "While staying spiritually uncommitted."
"Which is Kenny's way of saying he doesn't want to give up part of his Sundays to go to church," Butters said. He squeezed Kenny's hand affectionately. "You're not fooling anyone, mister!"
"Maybe we could discuss our spiritual affiliations in the dining room," Stan said. "Kyle and I are starving. Anyone for an early dinner?"
"I've been walking for three hours!" Tweek replied. "Yeah! I could eat something." Just before he turned away, he looked over at the church crowd and caught 'RES' (he now knew the R stood for Robin) staring at him, and wondered if they would meet again before the cruise ended, or just keep trading high scores on their game separately without ever speaking again.