When the Lights Go Down in South Park
CHAPTER THREE - SUMMERwritten by wettermark - illustrated by Bamfcrawler and Mad Tuna
Kenny has been to Hell hundreds of times, but never with a terrified, living person at his side. He's almost tempted to take Kyle's hand as they follow Satan— who's still in Stan's body — toward his lair at the heart of the ninth circle. Kyle is keeping his gaze pointed forward as they walk, staying close to Kenny, his face still very pale.
"Are you okay?" Kenny asks for the fifth or maybe sixth time, wishing he did have a Xanax to offer. Kyle answers in a tight shrug, not looking at Kenny.
"I knew something was wrong," Kyle says, his voice a tiny tremble. "Just, just. I thought maybe he needed to go back on antidepressants. Not that he was. Satanic."
"He's not satanic, this happened against his will. And it's probably my fault."
"What?" Kyle turns to look at Kenny then, fury jumping onto his features. It reminds Kenny of Sheila: it's her precise what, what, what?? look, only with two fewer what's vocalized.
"I've been fucking the son of Satan," Kenny says, sighing. "Because I thought I could prevent him from taking over the world that way. He's already taken over Hell, by ousting his father and throwing him into Stan's body. Damien might have targeted Stan because of me, because we're friends." Saying so, he's surprised, and very glad, that Satan didn't go after Butters instead. Stan will bounce back from this once they get Satan out of his body. Butters has been through enough.
"You've been fucking the son of Satan," Kyle says, dryly, his psycho killer stare still fixed on Stan. "Really."
"Yes, really. I thought I was doing something good, a kind of spiritual espionage via my asshole. But of course I screwed it all up. Of course I'm not a Second Coming of Christ, fuck. I just wanted to be, I guess, instead of whatever creature from the primordial ooze of time itself I actually am. I mean, Jesus is a cool guy. He helps people. Doesn't just get killed over and over and not even remembered. People remember the fuck out of Jesus."
"I can't listen to this," Kyle says, turning away from him. "Stop talking."
Kenny is secretly hoping Kyle will remember this trip to Hell and all of his deaths from now on, though if he had his choice of somebody to remember his deaths, it might not be Kyle, who is not the most sympathetic friend Kenny has.
"Okay," Satan says when they've arrived in his private office, which features giant windows that overlook the ninth circle's nicest lava lake. Satan takes his seat behind a massive desk. Stan's body looks ridiculous in Satan's office throne when he sits there. "Let's talk about what happens next."
"You get out of Stan's body," Kyle says, speaking pretty sharply for someone who is giving the Prince of Hell a command. "Right?" he adds, less confidently.
"Right," Satan says, slowly. "But, um. I kinda don't get why I haven't yet. Returning to Hell usually works. Damien must have done some super dark shit this time, the little fucker."
"He's your son," Kyle says, sharp again. "Why can't you just— Get him back under your thumb?"
"You obviously don't have kids."
"Of course I don't have kids! I'm seventeen years old!"
"Uh, let's see." Satan reaches for a big leather-bound book on his desk, straining when he can barely reach it with Stan's short arms. He has to use both hands to push it open, and he's breathless afterward. "Jesus," he says. "I'm so ready to be out of this body."
As if he's cast a spell by saying so, Stan's body begins to shake all over, like Satan's words have set off an earthquake inside him. Kyle shouts in horror and Kenny slaps his hands over his mouth as they watch Stan's arms and legs grow bigger and longer, his skin taking on a red tint and his eyes turning yellow.
From a distance, Kenny could swear he hears Damien's sick, cruel laughter, but when he turns he can't see the asshole anywhere.
"No!" Kyle shouts. "No, what— Where— Where's Stan?"
Kenny turns back to Satan's desk, afraid of what he'll see. It's Satan, just as Kenny remembers him: huge, red, horns, looking like he's about to give them some very bad news.
"Uhhh," Satan says. "Shit."
"What do you mean, shit?" Kyle is already hysterical, hyperventilating.
"Damien!" Satan says, screaming. "Get the fuck in here! I'm summoning you, officially!"
Nothing happens. Satan sighs.
"Shit. He's grown too powerful," Satan says. "Guys, look at me, look me in the eyes. Don't have kids. They'll fuck up your life."
"Stan!" Kyle screams, vaulting forward as if he's going to kill Satan with his bare hands, or at least shake him until Stan reappears. He draws up short and sobs, falls to his knees. "Stan," he says, weakly now. "Oh— Oh my god, no, I— I never even told him I love him!"
"Okay, wait," Kenny says, his heart pounding because he feels it, too: Stan is gone. Damien made it so that Stan would be destroyed, body and soul, by Satan's return to form. "But why?" Kenny asks aloud, "Why would Damien even want to do this?"
"I'll tell you why, slut."
Kenny turns to glower at Damien, who has appeared according to Satan's summons after all, or maybe at his own pleasure, because he's smiling as if he's enjoying this scene very much: Kyle's panicked weeping, Satan's fist-clenched anger, and Kenny's utter confusion.
"You see, Kenny," Damien says, strolling in and slipping his hands into the pocket of his bespoke leather pants. "I know that you thought you were fooling me. I was always aware that your whole seductive act was just a ploy to get information. Why do think I fucked you with barbs? Because I wanted your scrawny ass? Ha! I was pulling one over on you the whole time, my little cherub. There was no actual information to discover, as you might have eventually noticed if you weren't a complete, unparalleled idiot. I don't want to rule the pathetic Earth. Why would I, when I can do whatever the hell I want down here?"
"You most certainly cannot!" Satan says, pounding the desk with one of his giant fists. "Damien, you will answer for this deception, you have destroyed a soul, that is no light—"
"Shut up, Dad!" Damien shrieks, red in the face. "I'm doing my villain monologue! God! You ruin everything!"
"Damien." Satan sighs and puts his hand over his face. "Just what the fuck is going on?"
"You like Kenny better than me!" Damien says, pointing. "That's what's going on, you pathetic excuse for a dark lord! You always did! Who did you go to when you wanted to talk? Not your immortal son, but this— Whatever the fuck he is! But I have destroyed him, utterly, by destroying the man he loves!" Damien cackles, pretending to be triumphant but actually kind of looking like he might burst into tears. "Take that!" Damien says, pointing his finger at Kenny now. "Angel whore!"
"Um," Kenny says. "What?"
"Which part do you need me to repeat? The part where I double crossed you and fucked you raw while you deluded yourself with the idea that you were taking demon cock for the good of the world? Ha! Or the part where I used my father's previous possession of that pathetic human you lusted after to ensure that, when the time came, he would repossess Stan Marsh and inadvertently destroy him upon return to Hell, body and soul, so that you can't fuck the love of your life even here in Hell?"
"Noo," Kyle says, his head pressed to the floor while he goes on sobbing. "Please, no, it can't be—"
"First of all," Kenny says, teeth grit. "I don't know where the fuck you got the impression that Stan is the love of my life, but he's the love of Kyle's life, idiot! I—" Kenny stops short of saying something about Butters. Damien would go after him next.
"No," Damien says, frowning. "It was Stan— I sensed it. The first time you ever jerked your sad human cock off it was to the thought of Stan Marsh sucking on it."
"Well, yeah, when I was thirteen! Things fucking change, dumb ass, and anyway that was just a sex fantasy! Are you seriously this clueless about the human heart?"
"Wha—" Damien sputters, looking at Kyle. "Oh, shit, are you serious? I destroyed that guy? But I wanted to destroy you! Utterly!" He moans, stomps his foot. "I wanted you to mourn this human soul for all eternity!"
"Damien, goddammit," Satan says. "I hearby banish you to Uncle God's house. You're staying with him until you learn to appreciate all I've given you down here."
Satan says and gestures with his hand. Damien disappears, leaving behind only a puff of sulfuric smoke.
"He's in a better place now," Satan says when Kenny looks at him, as if to comfort himself. "Well, not better, but more suited to the discipline he needs. A couple centuries of charades will do the spoiled little prick good."
"That's all fine and good," Kenny says, glancing at Kyle, who has slumped over onto his side on the floor now, still crying quietly. "But what about Stan?"
"I'm afraid Stan is gone," he says.
Kyle whimpers and curls in on himself. Kenny drops to his knees, defeated. All he's managed to do with this indeed delusional plot to save the world is ruin everything.
"There's got to be some way," Kenny says. "What if I sacrificed myself on an altar or something? So that I could never come back, not here or on Earth?"
"Dude, I have no clue how your powers work," Satan says. "And if you could be killed for good like that, I'm pretty sure Damien would have done it already. No, but—" Satan sighs and glances at Kyle. "Considering the amount of staggering grief this boy is in right now, there may be a way."
"What?" Hearing this, Kyle sits up like a shot has been fired, his wet eyes shooting open. "What way, how? I'll do anything!"
"Hmm." Satan glances at Kenny and fidgets in his chair. Seems suddenly uncomfortable. "Well. There is a way. But it's a mighty sacrifice."
"Anything!" Kyle grabs the front of Satan's desk. "What do you need? My life? Take it! As long as Stan's soul can exist here, and mine alongside his—"
"Oh, Kyle." Satan sighs and flips through the leather-bound book again. "Your willingness to give up your life is touching, but I'm afraid it's a bit more— Intimate than all that. This spell."
"What spell? Tell me, hurry! I can't stand to exist anywhere if Stan's soul is gone, I can't do it—"
"His soul isn't entirely gone," Satan says. "Not just yet. There's still a tiny essence of it lingering in this body that has reformed from what was once Stan."
"Good!" Kyle says, laughing, wild-eyed. "What must I do?"
"I should really be the one to do whatever sacrifice is required," Kenny says, walking forward. "Since this is all your fault."
"Oh, it's not really your fault, Kenny, it's mine. I didn't raise Damien with the real satanic values that would have—"
"Stop talking to Kenny and tell me what to do!" Kyle shrieks, trying and failing to shake Satan's giant desk with his hands.
"Or me," Kenny says. "I mean it, Satan. I'd like to do this for Stan and Kyle. This is still my mess to clean up."
"I'm afraid it can't be you, Kenny. Though I'm not clear on all your powers or where they come from, one thing I know is that you can't give birth to a human soul. It would become twisted if it emerged from your— Body."
"Oh." Kenny frowns and looks at Kyle, who is also frowning. "Wait. What?"
"Look, I'm just gonna spit this out, because time is of the essence. In my next ejaculation, the soul of Stan Marsh will be present. Faint, but present, and it could gestate into a whole human soul again, within the right carrier."
"The right— Carrier?" Kyle says. "Like. Stan's mom?"
"No, I can't leave Hell again to retrieve her, because the sperm that contains Stan's soul would be invalidated if I returned to Earth, and I don't have the to summon people down here remotely if they're not dead, or to remotely kill them—"
"So, what?" Kenny asks. "How?"
"Uh. Well, the carrier has to be a living human, and there's only one of those present in Hell at this time."
They both look at Kyle. He flinches.
"I don't understand," Kyle says. "You're saying you would— Impregnate someone? But I'm a man! I don't have a womb."
"Well," Satan says, slowly. "I do have the power to give you one."
"You— What? Why would you have that power?"
"Look, lots of people have a phobia of pregnancy! It's a legitimate Hell-based method of torture."
"But then what?" Kenny asks as Kyle staggers backward, absorbing that. "Kyle would, like. Give birth? To a baby Stan?"
"That's right. Fortunately, human time moves very fast in Hell, and children grow up quickly here. Damien certainly did." Satan allows himself a wistful sigh before continuing. "So basically, Kyle would be pregnant for the equivalent of like, two human weeks? And then, rough estimate, the newly created Stan, who would possess the soul of the original Stan and would look just like him and all that— He would be back to eighteen years of age in like, hmm. Five months, I'd say."
"So we could return to Earth with Stan in time for college to start!" Kenny says, turning to Kyle, who has gone very white.
There's a long silence. Satan picks up a giant pen on his desk and fidgets with it, looking apologetic.
"Um," Kyle says, his voice quite small. "So. You're saying. I can have Stan back. Like he was. WIth his soul. But I have to let you fuck me and— Get me pregnant. With Stan."
"Oh, no way," Satan says. "Sorry, but, like. I'm not into topping, so. We'd use a turkey baster full of my sperm to get you pregnant. But otherwise yeah, that's what's up."
Kyle sinks to his knees on the floor of Satan's office. Kenny walks to him and kneels behind him, touches his shoulder.
"Dude," Kenny says. "I'm so—"
"Get. The fuck. Away from me. Kenny."
"Sure thing, sorry, yeah."
Kenny backs away slowly. Kyle is breathing heavily, his hands in shaking fists over his bent knees. When he stands, there's a fire in his eyes that would rival Damien's.
"Okay," he says, his voice only shaking a little. "I said I'd do anything. I meant it."
"Great!" Satan writes something in his leather-bound book. "If I could just get your signature here, we'll begin."
Kyle signs. Kenny feels sick, but there's nothing to be done. Satan steps away to find a turkey baster big enough to contain his forthcoming ejaculation.
"I'm here for you, man," Kenny says, keeping his distance. Kyle raises his lip and looks at Kenny out of the corner of his eye.
"I don't want you to be fucking here for me," Kyle says. "If I'm really going to be down here for over five months, giving buh— Recreating Stan, and then, like? Raising him, or—? Anyway, I won't leave Stan down here to grow up alone, even if it's only going to take five months. You need to go back to Earth and tell my parents I'm okay. Tell Stan's, too. Tell them we're having a gay crisis and we ran away together, I don't give a fuck. Say we'll be back in August to finish our final exams and then go to college. Don't let Ike have my car."
"Is Ike even old enough to drive?"
"Fuck you, Kenny! Get the fuck out of here and do as I say! Now!"
Two weeks of pregnancy in Hell has been no picnic, but Kyle is still dreading what comes next when he feels his water break, coursing as hot as Hades over the insides of his thighs and down his legs. He's nude, as usual, because he's too consistently overheated to tolerate clothing, and he knows he should be relieved that the endless torment of attempting to waddle around in his birthing quarters with the giant stomach that contains baby Stan is coming to an end, but part of him wants to deny that this is it: his actual water breaking and not just some other kind of weird side effect having to do with the fact that his body has been re-engineered to allow a baby to emerge from his ass.
"Pip!" he screams, hoping the goddamn doula is in earshot. Despite all the magical interference that's been done to his body, Kyle still has no real powers. "It's happening!"
He hears scrambling out in the house, and scowls at Pip when he pokes his head into Kyle's room and sees him soaked in sweat from head to toe as usual, and now also soaked in— Whatever comes out when your water breaks and you're also a man who is about to give birth. Kyle supposes it's normal amniotic fluid. It's clear, anyway, and doesn't smell as disgusting as it feels.
"Oh, jolly good!" Pip says. "I was hoping it would happen today. Two weeks right on the dot!"
"Fuck you, Pip. Get in here and help me."
Kyle struggles to sit up in bed, waves of abdominal pain beginning to wrack through him as Pip flits about the room preparing things. There's an actual cradle, which implies that soon there will be an actual baby, and Kyle has a hard time wrapping his mind around that, but he's been all in with this plan from the start, because why not? It's not like he can live without Stan anyway, or with the memory of having stood there doing nothing while they watched Stan's body give way to Satan's.
"Is Satan even going to show up for this?" Kyle asks as Pip dabs at his forehead with a towel. "I mean, I don't want him in the room, but if he was around, that might be nice."
"I'm afraid I don't know where the old devil is right now," Pip says. "But surely he'll sense your distress and come at once!"
"I'm not distressed," Kyle says, but soon he's screaming, because yes, of course he is. This is a surreality beyond the normal parameters of South Park. His ass will never be the same, and what's he supposed to tell Stan as he rapidly ages in Hell? I used to be your best friend, then your fuck buddy, then I gave birth to you via my ass and now you're my— Son? Kyle groans at the concept, though Satan has assured him that Stan will have none of Kyle's genetic material when he reemerges. That Kyle is merely his incubator. Great, perfect! Kyle screams again and throws his head back when the pain takes all thoughts from his mind.
"Breathe, now!" Pip says, still dabbing at him with that fucking towel. "Like we practiced!"
"I fucking hate you, Pip!" Kyle shouts when he's able to speak again, his teeth grit. He must look pretty scary right now, because Pip shrinks away as if he's afraid Kyle might bite him.
"Oh, you don't mean that!" Pip says, actually daring to smile again.
"Yes, I do! I do mean it! I want to rip your throat out with my teeth! If you weren't already dead I would have killed you brutally on at least seven separate occasions in the past two weeks!"
"Heh," Pip says, glancing at the door as if he hopes Satan will show up and take over with the midwifery, though Pip is the one who has been ordered to do it. "Well, I'm awfully sorry you feel that way, Kyle, I tried to give you the best care I could—"
"Arrrghh!!!" Kyle writhes and sobs when the pain is worse than ever, rolling through him at a pace that he's not sure his human body can take, magic or not. "Fucking— fuck! I can't do this."
"Sure you can."
That's Kenny, or maybe just a hallucination of Kenny, appearing with a worried look and a bag of what looks like bagels from Kyle's favorite bakery on Earth. Kyle growls Kenny, not caring if he's real or imaginary at the moment, though it would be nice if those bagels were real.
"Oh, thank goodness!" Pip says, apparently seeing Kenny, too. "You came just in time!"
"Pip, get out of here," Kenny says. He deposits the bagels on a side table and rolls up the sleeves on his parka. "I'll handle this."
"Have you delivered a baby before?" Pip asks, fretful. Kenny glowers at him.
"No," Kenny says. "Have you done this before, you French fuck?"
"I'm not French, actually, or anyhow I wasn't—"
"Get him out of here!" Kyle bellows. "Fuck!"
Pip runs. Kenny sighs and stares down at Kyle, his face full of sympathy that makes Kyle want to punt him into the lava lake that his birthing room has decent view of.
"I brought you bagels," Kenny says. "For after."
"Ah— after, right. When my ass is as stretched out as yours was after Damien was through with you."
"Dude, it'll bounce right back, mine did—"
Kyle screams again, in part just to shut Kenny up.
The whole process only takes five minutes, according to Kenny, who tells Kyle this later. To Kyle it feels like approximately five days of brutal pain, and the cries of an infant aren't exactly a relief when it's over, because that is Stan, somehow, and he just came out of Kyle's ass. Kyle rolls onto his side and weeps pitifully while Kenny cleans wailing baby Stan in the bath water Pip had prepared for him.
"Are you gonna have him circumcised?" Kenny asks when the baby has been quieted and swaddled in a blanket, fussing softly in Kenny's arms. "Since you're Jewish?" Kenny asks when Kyle turns to snarl at him hatefully.
"You're joking with me?" Kyle says. "Right now? Really?"
"Sorry. Aw, look, Kyle. It's Stan."
Kyle can't look. He covers his eyes with his hand and sniffles, trying to believe that his ass is going to be okay again someday and wondering if his stomach will always be all stretched out and gross. Satan has made claims that he can fix everything so that Kyle is back to normal after the birth, but he's fucking Satan. Lying is pretty much his main thing.
Nevertheless: the baby that has arrived somehow truly is Stan, just as promised. When Kyle has given himself a sponge bath and recovered enough to halfway think straight, he allows Kenny to help him from the birthing bed and onto a clean reclining sofa, and he only hesitates for a moment when Kenny places baby Stan into his arms.
"Jesus Christ," Kyle says, starting to cry again. He sniffles and looks up at Kenny. "This is some fucked up shit right here, dude."
"Yeah," Kenny says, smiling. "But it's also the miracle of life."
"Fuck you, Kenny. And bring me those bagels."
"It's actually croissants and a donut."
"I don't care if it's a fucking loaf of bread, I'm starving, give me that bag!"
Kyle eats two croissants and the donut while crying and holding Stan with his free arm. Stan is sleeping. Kyle is trying to be grateful that he doesn't have to breastfeed. Satan assures him that babies born in Hell don't need human food of any kind. That they grow up naturally without it. Kyle can't imagine a worse existence, except for his own, at the moment, of course.
"How's my mom doing?" Kyle asks when he's finished eating and feeling close to passing out. Kenny's cagey look in response to this question perks Kyle back up, however. "What?" Kyle asks, frowning. "What's that face you just made? Is my mom okay?"
"Oh, yeah, yeah," Kenny says, too hurriedly. "She's fine."
"Kenny. Don't fucking lie to me."
"You are! Something is wrong. I can tell. Fucking lay it on me, why not? What's more misery heaped onto Kyle Broflovski, first man to give birth to a genuine human child in hell?"
"Uhh." Kenny is seated across from Kyle's reclining sofa, in a rocking chair that he's now nervously rocking back and forth in, his elbows on his knees and his fingertips pressed together. "Hmm. How to phrase this."
"How to phrase what."
Kyle braces himself. After what he just went through, what could possibly even phase him? It's not as if his parents are dead. They would be here to meet their surrogate grandson if so.
"Well," Kenny says slowly, returning his anxious gaze to Kyle's. "As you know, prior to your descent into Hell, Cartman had befriended your father."
"Uh-huh," Kyle says flatly, alarms beginning to sound at the back of his mind.
"Yeah, well. When you disappeared with Stan, when I gave them the note like you told me to and everything, your parents were real distraught, of course. Sheila sought solace in her faith and started going to synagogue a lot. Gerald, um. He took a different route."
"What route?" Kyle asks, biting the words out. "And what's Cartman got to do with this?"
"Cartman moved in with your parents!" Kenny winces after saying so. "He, um. He's living in your old room."
"Oh, Jesus, that's all? I mean, it's disgusting and terrible, sure, but it's not the end of the world. Did Liane throw him out, or lose her house to the bank, or what?"
Kenny takes a deep breath. Still seems to be steeling himself to drop some bigger bombshell.
"Cartman and your dad are together," Kenny says, opening his hands in a gesture that asks for mercy. "Dude, I'm sorry. They're in love. Or so they say. Mutually. And your mom's okay with it. I'm not sure if it's a threesome-type situation, exactly, but—"
Kyle looks down at baby Stan, who is nuzzling at Kyle's bare chest. Stan may not need breast milk, but he does need human affection. Kyle strokes Stan's black hair and tries not to think about what he's just been told. No, that's Earth business. Fuck everyone up there. Kyle's business is here, in his arms.
"You're all I have left in a world gone mad," he says, softly, to Stan.
"Also me," Kenny says.
"Get the hell away from me, Kenny."
"Jesus, don't shoot the messenger! I wasn't even gonna tell you, but you forced me—"
Kenny goes, and Kyle sighs and whispers apologies when Stan wakes up and cries, frightened by the volume of Kyle's voice. Kyle is going to have to be more careful. He's got a lot to learn about infant care.
"At least you won't be raised by a couple of depraved psychopaths," Kyle says to Stan, his eyes growing wet again. "Like I was, apparently."
As promised, Stan grows quickly. By the time another week has passed up on Earth, he's crawling. In another week he's beginning to talk in baby gibberish. His first real word is "ball," maybe because that's his favorite toy, despite the fact Satan has showered Stan with many finer things. As Stan continues to grow, Satan is often around, a little too often for Kyle's liking, and Kyle begins to get the impression that Satan is trying to vicariously relive the days of Damien's childhood through this new black-haired baby.
"You may not," Kyle says, clutching approximately 3-year-old Stan to his chest when Satan shows up to ask if he can take Stan on a fun boat ride through the lava lake.
"Aw— Why not? Look, I'd be able to keep him safe, you know that! I'm Satan, this is Hell! I control everything here!"
"You don't control me," Kyle says, glowering. "And you don't control Stan. Remember, your out of control son got us into this mess in the first place. I know we're at your mercy to some extent, but please. Have some respect for my authority over the child that I had to birth from my very own ass. He didn't come out of your ass, Satan! He came out of mine."
Kyle may be going slightly insane. Though it will present new and increasingly awkward challenges, he's really looking forward to Stan developing into a kid who can actually hold a semi-rational conversation, for the sake of having some real company down here.
"I healed your ass, though," Satan says, mumbling. Kyle raises his lip.
"That doesn't erase the memory of the state it was in prior to your healing," Kyle says. "Or the fact that pretty soon I'll have to explain to my best friend that he came out of my ass."
"Ass?" Stan says, tugging on one of Kyle's curls.
"Shh," Kyle says. He smoothes Stan's hair down. It's so dry down here, and Stan's hair is so thin; it's always full of static, clinging to Kyle's palm now. "You don't want to go on some silly boat ride, do you?" Kyle asks Stan. "Don't you want to stay here with Kyle?"
"Kyle," Stan says in confirmation, clinging to him. "No boat."
"He has spoken," Kyle says coolly to Satan, who is sighing and backing toward the door. "Good day to you, sir."
"I never get anything good," Satan mutters, sounding an awful lot like his son.
It's July 1st in South Park, and Kyle Broflovski has ruined everything.
Cartman has been eighteen years old for five full hours now, and he should be impaled on his lover's dick for at least the third time in so many hours, but Gerald is still all limp and weepy because Kyle ran off to marry Stan in Vegas or whatever, and he hasn't even verbally committed to giving Cartman the birthday present that he's been asking for since April.
"Hey," Cartman says, breathing this into Gerald's ear. They're in Kyle's bed, which is now Cartman's bed, pretty much. Sheila and Ike are still asleep, most likely, because it's five o'clock in the morning. "Mr. B," Cartman says, whispering this in his most seductive voice. "Gerry," he tries, though he hates that nickname, because Sheila uses it sometimes. He pokes Gerald in the ribs and rests his chin on Gerald's shoulder. "Ey, babe," Cartman says when Gerald turns to squint at him. "It's my birthday."
"Oh." Gerald rubs his eyes and sighs, rolls onto his back. He sighs a lot now, and has started playing gambling games on his phone. Cartman is going to tell Sheila on him, maybe, but the thought of getting Gerald in trouble seems backward somehow. "Happy birthday, Eric," Gerald says. He pats Cartman's cheek tiredly.
Cheek pats: That's all Gerald has left for Cartman after Kyle's selfish flight from South Park in pursuit of Marsh's cock. Cartman gives Gerald a hopeful poke in the thigh with his morning wood. Gerald sighs again.
"Eric," he says. "I know you want to lose your virginity today. I'll— Try to get into the right mindset to do that, but you know I'm still depressed. And I'm certainly not doing it in Kyle's bed."
Cartman grunts. Gerald thinks he's a virgin, because Cartman is afraid that disclosing that he's been boned by Kyle like a hundred times would probably lessen Gerald's opinion of him or perhaps just muddy the waters uncomfortably. He kind of hopes Kyle never comes back, so that information will never come out, though possibly it wouldn't even if Kyle did return, because Kyle sure as shit won't want Stan knowing.
"Could I at least blow you?" Cartman asks, annoyed.
Gerald closes his eyes and shakes his head. "It's still difficult for me to get aroused," he says.
"Yeah, no kidding, that's why your wife is stepping out on you with the rabbi!"
"She's not— Really? You think they're having sex? I feel like she'd tell me. And Rabbi Eckstein doesn't really seem like he's in an open marriage—"
"I was being figurative! Do you want me to go down to church and start blowing Jesus instead?"
"You— What now?"
"It was a metaphor," Cartman says, rolling away from him angrily. Fuck Kyle! Cartman always knew that daywalker bitch would ruin his life. He hopes Kyle burns in Hell. "Hey, so, question," Cartman says, reaching back to find Gerald's hand when Gerald spoons up behind him, his sad soft dick resting against the small of Cartman's back. "Would you be willing to bone if I could procure a Viagra for you?"
"I hate the thought of needing Viagra," Gerald says, mumbling. "And the idea of using it to deflower you is incredibly depressing."
"Everything is incredibly depressing to you! Jesus!"
"I'm sorry, Eric. If you have children someday, you'll understand."
"If I— who am I gonna have children with? You think you're going to get me pregnant or something?" Cartman's heart is beating fast. Is Gerald saying this is just a temporary thing to him? Just a stepping stone toward Cartman finding his own weird-ass woman like Sheila to marry him despite his sexual appetite?
"Gay men can adopt now," Gerald says. "It's not so uncommon."
"Don't call me a gay man." Cartman pushes Gerald's hand away and gets out of the bed.
"Why shouldn't I call you that? You're a man now, as of today." Gerald sounds sad about it now, whereas he'd once been looking forward to it with the perennially hard dick of a teenager himself.
"Fucking Kyle!" Cartman says, unable to hold it in anymore. He's standing naked in the middle of Kyle's room, wanting to tear all the posters off the walls and shred them while Gerald watches like a sad sack from the bed. "He's fucked me over for the last time!"
"I wonder if Kyle got wind of what's going on between me and you," Gerald says, covering his face with his head. "Sheila doesn't think so, but I can't help wondering if that's why he ran away from home."
"That's bullshit and you know it! That note Kenny brought said Kyle's having a gay crisis with Stan. Who the fuck even has a gay crisis anymore? It's so fucking nineties of him, typical."
"I wonder if the gay crisis he was referring to is mine," Gerald says. "Oh, god." He pulls the blankets up over his head. "I just want him to come home! Then everything would be fine."
"Yeah," Cartman says, doubtfully. "Except where would I sleep?" He's not sharing the fucking master bedroom with Gerald and Sheila. She's just not his type, and the feeling is mutual, though she's actually been pretty cool about, like, feeding him, and letting him cuddle with her husband in a pre-sexual fashion, and stuff. He still plans to steal Gerald from her, but his method for doing so has been compromised by Kyle.
"Well, you'll all go off to college," Gerald says, speaking from beneath the blankets. "Aren't you going to CSU?"
"Yeah, but I was gonna commute from my mom's house, and now this is my house, so— God, forget it! What does it matter? This is the worst birthday ever."
Gerald starts weeping softly from beneath the blankets. Cartman rolls his eyes. He dresses and storms out of the house, determined to start having great birthday fun before sunrise. Fuck Gerald! Fuck every Broflovski ever, since the dawn of time, fuck Stan Marsh for stealing Kyle away from his family with the siren call of his uncut donkey dick, and fuck Kenny for knowing where they are and not telling anyone because he swore he wouldn't. Cartman offered Kenny three hundred bucks cash to reveal the location of those runaway fucks, then offered to blow him, then offered that Kenny could fuck his ass, and he got turned down every time. Kenny fucking sucks. Being eighteen sucks. Everything sucks.
Cartman climbs into his truck and has a moment where he's pretty sure he's going to burst into tears, but he holds it off until he drives up to the makeout point where he used to park with Gerald, before the Kyle incident. As he watches the sun rise, Cartman starts blubbering, then sobbing, then wailing and wheezing, because he just wants this one fucking thing and his life is so unfair.
Somehow he ends up at a 10:00 AM showing of Zoolander II, even though he didn't like the first Zoolander. Mostly he just wants to shovel popcorn and candy into his face until he's sick, and he glowers at the girl behind the concession stand when she tells him they don't normally have the popcorn machine running this early in the morning. When his jumbo popcorn bucket with extra butter is finally done, the concession stand girl shoves his snack tray at him, collects his $40.00 in cash and hands back a few coins in change. Cartman hurries away, ready to be the encompassing dark of an empty theater while a stupid movie blares down onto him, its soundtrack drowning out the sound of the crunching and chewing that will take place as soon as he tears these five packets of candy open and dumps at least two of them into his popcorn. Probably he'll need a soda refill halfway through. If Gerald were here, he would offer to get it for Cartman so he wouldn't miss the movie. That happened once. Cartman's eyes are wet again as he pushes into the theater.
Due to this, he doesn't notice the other two people in the theater until he's seated. They're sitting in the sixth row, over on the side, as if they don't actually care about the movie at all. It's two blond guys who are whispering together— no, making out passionately during the previews. Goddammit. Cartman can't deal with this shit right now. Not on his fucking birthday. He pitches a Raisinet at them, then another, and on the third try he finally hits one of them square on the head. Kenny sits up and glares at him, Butters still cowering.
"Ha!" Cartman says. "You two? I should have known. What happened to that Mercedes-driving sadist you used to call your Master, eh, Kenny? He dumped you so now you're slumming with bubble butt there?"
"Shut up," Kenny says.
"Ooh, brilliant comeback." This is actually just what Cartman is in the mood for: ragging on some local losers. He's cheering up already. "Butters, I can see you, okay, you can stop hiding."
"Eric," Butters says, his voice pinched when he sits up and peers at Cartman with those watery blue eyes that Cartman once kind of admired, sort of. "Please don't tell anymore."
"Don't tell them what?" Cartman asks. "That you'd go down on Kenny in a theater?"
"He wasn't—" Kenny glowers, as if he thinks he actually looks threatening or something. "Cartman," he says. "If you get Butters in trouble, I will end you."
"Oh yeah? How will you do that, scarecrow? I can't see you holding your own in a fight against me."
"I don't mean physically. I'll— I'll tell your gentleman lover that you used to fuck his son in the band closet."
"Wha— What? How did you— Nuh-uh!"
"Yes huh," Butters says, smiling a little. "I'm the one who saw you. I went in there to get my flute and boy was Kyle giving it to you! And you were making this kind of squealing sound, like— Like you were really enjoying yourself, buddy."
"So what?" Cartman says, feeling his face turning red. "You're gonna make fun of me for taking dick, really? When you're bending over for a disease-riddled McCormick who used to be some maniac's rent boy? Guess you're not turning tricks for pricks in Mercedes Benzes anymore, Kenny, huh? Unless— Ha! Unless Butters is paying for your dick! Or is it the other way around? Butters, are you topping that shit?"
"Cartman," Kenny says. "You sound unhinged. More so than usual. Are you okay?"
"Am I— Am I okay? Kenny, it's ten AM on my birthday and I'm at a fucking Ben Stiller movie, about to eat my weight in candy. How do you think I am? I'm great."
Cartman feels his lip tremble. It's too late— They've seen this tremble, too. He whines a little and pinches his eyes shut, wants to disappear. The first sob that breaks out of him sort of hurts, maybe because his ribs are still aching from all the crying he did in his truck.
"Aw, Eric," Butters says. "Happy birthday. Has nobody else said that to you yet? Did your mom forget to make you a cake?"
Butters isn't making fun of him: he's sincerely asking. Cartman cries harder. He tries to eats a handful of popcorn but can't swallow it. It sort of falls out of his mouth and onto his chest in a disgusting glob, which makes him wail with horrified sorrow.
"Fuck," Kenny says. "Cartman, dude. It's okay."
"It's not okay, Kenny, fuck you! You don't know what it's like! Everyone in town wants to sleep with you! I just wanted one guy, okay. Kyle's fucking dad! Is that too much to ask?"
Cartman gets up, forty dollars worth of popcorn and candy tumbling onto the sticky floor of the theater along with his soda. He screeches in utter agony and runs from the theater as fast as he can, which is not very. When he gets outside he's feeling so crazed and heartsick that he considers running into traffic, but there isn't really on the road adjacent to the theater at the moment, except for one car that's pulling in. Gerald is at the wheel.
"Eric!" Gerald puts his car in park near the theater's front drive, not in a regulation space, and leaves it running as he jogs toward Cartman. "Oh my god. I was driving around, looking for you! Are you okay? Oh— Okay, c'mere."
Cartman can't make his voice work, but Gerald doesn't seem to need an explanation. He hugs Cartman to him right there in the middle of the movie theater parking lot and makes sympathetic noises while Cartman sobs onto his shoulder, clinging to him.
"Okay, Eric, okay," Gerald says, petting his hair while he cries. "I'm sorry this drama with Kyle is affecting your birthday. It's not your fault and it's not fair, you're right. It's your special day."
Cartman whimpers, afraid to try to speak. He's been concerned for some time now that he might accidentally call Gerald ‘Daddy' out loud, though he doesn't really want to do that kind of roleplay shit. This just feels like something he needs, goddammit. Something long overdue to the point of also being a fucked-up sex thing, maybe, but it's also true love.
"I dropped my popcorn," Cartman says when he lifts his face from Gerald's shoulder, sniffling and barely aware of what's coming out of his mouth. He's embarrassed but also so relieved, as if public humiliation has some kind of cleansing affect. He lets Gerald dry his face with his thumbs and considers swooning in for a kiss.
"Well, I'm sorry to hear that about your popcorn," Gerald says. "But Sheila's making you a cake for your birthday, and we're going to order pizza tonight, and you can pick the toppings. You can pick the movie we watch, too, since you're the birthday boy."
"And Ike can't say anything mean to me?" Cartman asks, wanting to add this to the list of things he gets to ask for today. Ike hates him and has threatened to kill him in his sleep. Cartman has made some semi-concrete plans to do the same to Ike. Gerald sighs.
"Well, me and Sheila agreed that Ike is allowed to express his frustration with our open marriage as long as he remains respectful."
"But he doesn't remain respectful! He calls me World's Fattest Sociopath and he accused me of murdering Kyle!"
"Ah— I know, okay, well. Maybe we'll give Ike some money and tell him to go out with his friends. In the meantime, c'mon, get in my car. We can come back for your truck later."
Cartman sniffles and agrees to this. He likes riding in the passenger seat while Gerald drives, likes it when they stop at the bakery on Main Street and Gerald buys him a cinnamon roll and a mini bottle of Simply Orange, and likes it most of all when they park in the spot where Cartman bawled his eyes out earlier. It's almost noon now and there are people on the jogging trail that winds behind this makeout spot, so they don't have sex, and probably won't later, since Gerald's dick doesn't get hard even when Cartman grabs it, but they do kiss, in broad daylight, five times, because Cartman is a goddamn man now and he can do what he wants.
Stan is almost constantly confused, but he's also constantly in the presence of Kyle, so it's hard to really get upset about his confusion.
This is becoming increasingly difficult to reconcile, however, as Stan realizes that his feelings for Kyle involve wanting to do things to him with the erections that keep popping up when they cuddle in bed together.
"You're too young," Kyle says, half-asleep and pushing Stan away again. "And this arrangement is too— Just, stop, Stan. Go touch yourself in the bath if you need, uh. Relief."
"How old am I?" Stan asks.
"I don't know," Kyle says, mumbling. "But not quite eighteen yet. Fifteen? Maybe sixteen. Fuck, please stop doing that."
Despite asking him to, Kyle doesn't push Stan away when he nuzzles at Kyle's cheek again, Stan's tongue darting out in timid little licks, testing to see how far he can get with Kyle today. It's been like this for weeks, and Kyle's ability to resist is definitely weakening as Stan continues to age. Stan has some of his memories of Earth back, but not all of them. He also remembers many nights down here, folding himself into Kyle's arms and feeling so safe, not as if Kyle was an actual parent but as if he was a blanket and a best friend at the same time, physical protection from the screams outside their window and emotional security like none Stan has ever felt before, even with Kyle himself, prior to his experience. Stan still doesn't understand how he came to be de-aged and why they have to remain in Hell until Stan is approximately eighteen years old again, but Kyle says he'll explain it to him someday, when Stan is old enough.
"Don't," Kyle says, sighing when Stan moves down to kiss his neck. "Please, dude, it's too weird."
"But why?" Stan asks. He hovers over Kyle, not touching him. It's easiest to get away with these little caresses and licks when Kyle is very tired like he is now, enough to allow himself to enjoy them. "It doesn't feel weird to me," Stan says, settling his hand over Kyle's hip. "I remember fucking you," he whispers. "I remember how much you liked it, dude."
Kyle's eyes shoot open. He glowers at Stan and shoves him away before rolling over.
"Get out of the bed now," Kyle says, curling in on himself, probably to hide his own arousal. "Go take a bath and don't come back until you've brought yourself off. I can't deal with this, Stan."
Angry at having his aching need to be affectionate with Kyle referred to as something Kyle has to ‘deal with,' Stan kicks away the blankets and goes to the adjoining bathroom. He fills the tub and heats the water to an ideal temperature himself, with his hand. Apparently, being de-aged in Hell has this one benefit: he can control the temperature of water and some other things with his hand. He wonders if it will persist when they return to Earth.
Whatever happens with his power, he knows his feelings for Kyle will persist once they've returned, and he prays daily— to Satan, without thinking, and then to God, just for good measure —that Kyle won't push him away up there, too. Something has changed between them, and for Stan it's purely good: he feels no obstacles at all within himself when it comes to allowing these feelings for Kyle and indulging the need to be close to him. Stan has begged Satan, Kenny and Kyle himself to tell him why Kyle feels this hesitation to allow his own feelings to return. They all say it's just the age thing, but Stan fears it could be something more. Kyle says he was very little after the de-aging, and Stan is afraid Kyle sees him as a kid now, someone to protect, non-sexual and familial.
Though he remembers being small and sheltering in Kyle's arms when Kyle felt so much bigger than him, Stan doesn't have that familial feeling toward Kyle at all. If anything, it's made him lust after Kyle even more: the smell of his skin is not not just exciting but also a pure comfort, like coming home to the other half of his own body. Stan gets into the bath and sides, immediately parting his legs and reaching for his dick. He gets hard all the time now, especially if Kyle is anywhere near. When he closes his eyes and rests his head on the back of the tub he returns to his memoires of fucking Kyle on Earth: ow Kyle had spread his legs and pulled them up against his chest, how he'd shown Stan that he was ready and wanting and willing to take him so hard. Stan groans under his breath, aware that Kyle can probably hear this evidence of his pleasure from the bedroom. Wanting him to.
Stan's hand moves faster on his dick when he thinks about what it would be like to walk out there and find Kyle ready and waiting for him, unable to wait any longer, breathless and spread open, his eyes glistening with embarrassed tears and his hole ready for Stan's dick. Stan groans again, louder now, imagining that Kyle can hear the sound of the water sloshing as Stan brings himself off, too.
"Kyle," Stan says, in a broken whisper, and his eyebrows knit together as his cock goes off in his hand. He cries out and arches, moaning, and as soon as it's over he feels empty in more ways than one. He wants to be kissing Kyle when he comes, always. Wants Kyle's come to be sticky between their stomachs, Kyle's lips fat and puffy when they breathe against each other's mouths. Wants to drip onto Kyle afterward and fall asleep with Kyle's fingertips stroking softly over his face, Kyle's soft voice in his ear telling him that he's safe and that everything is okay.
Stan is in a sour mood when he leaves the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist. Kyle is lying on his back under the blankets, his breath coming a bit hard. Stan is pretty sure he just jerked off and is still recovering.
"Did you think about me?" Stan asks, standing at the end of the bed and giving Kyle a challenging look.
Kyle huffs and frowns at him. "I don't know what you're talking about," he says. "Did you brush your teeth?"
"No. I jerked myself off to the thought of you, just like you told me to."
"I didn't— I didn't say to think of me!"
"Maybe not, but you knew that I would."
Stan gives Kyle a wicked smirk, enjoying the look of annoyance on his face. Another thing Stan can now warm with the palm of his hand is Kyle's skin, not just in the usual way, but until Kyle feels like he's glowing and the heat sinks down to pool in his balls and harden his cock. Stan reaches for Kyle's foot, which is sticking out from under the blankets.
"Don't you do it," Kyle says, pulling his foot back in. There's something a bit amused in his tone, like he's teasing Stan a bit.
"You love it," Stan says, his hand still hovering in the air.
"Who cares what I love? I'm doing this for your sake, Stan."
"Holding back! Being responsible!"
"Why? What's the point?"
"THe point is that you're too young! And—"
"Never mind." Kyle rolls onto his side again and punches his pillow. "Will you leave me alone? I'm tired."
Stan puts on some clothes, wishing he had better ones. Satan only has loincloths with metallic belts, and though Stan is getting kind of built, recently, and looking pretty good in this one, he still feels stupid walking out of their little house wearing only a piece of fabric that covers his dick and ass. At least there's no wind in Hell. He sits on their front stoop and listens to the screams in the distance, wishing Kenny would show up and at least shoot the shit with him for a while.
Instead of Kenny, Satan appears. Stan doesn't mind his company and scoots over on the stoop, leaving just enough room for Satan's giant red ass.
"Hey, dude," Satan says. "How's it hanging?"
"Freely, under a loincloth, as usual."
"Ha!" Satan always laughs at Stan's stupid jokes. It reminds him a little bit of Randy, who he almost kind of misses. "Well," Satan says, sighing and surveying the blood-soaked mountains in the distance. "I guess you and Kyle will be leaving us soon."
"Yeah. Kyle says I'm sixteen already. How can he tell?"
"Oh, he's just guessing, but that seems about right. I'd say you'll be back to your real age in about a week of Earth time."
"Time sure passes slowly down here," Stan says, putting his chin in his hand.
"Yeah, that's true."
They sit in silence for a while, Stan wondering how mad his parents will be when he gets back. Maybe they'll just be relieved. Kenny has been in touch with them and with the Broflovskis, assuring them that Stan and Kyle are safe and sound and just ‘figuring things out' away from home for a while. Stan sure as shit doesn't feel like he's figured much out down here except what he already basically knew: that he belongs with Kyle, wants to be with him forever, and wants to fuck Kyle's ass so bad that he feels like he might die from it before he gets the chance, if the chance ever actually comes again.
"Hey, Satan?" Stan says.
"Since we're only going to be down here for one more week or so, aren't I old enough to know how I got de-aged in the first place? Like, what happened?"
"Ohh, well—" Satan sighs and checks over his shoulder. Stan knows Satan resents Kyle's bond with him sometimes, and that this means he can sometimes get what he wants from Satan when Kyle won't let him have it. Their shared dynamic toward him is sometimes weirdly parental, though Stan doesn't see either of them that way himself. Stan stares up at Satan, giving him a pleading look. "I suppose I might as well tell you," Satan says. "You have a right to know."
"Yeah," Stan agrees. "So? What happened? The last thing I remember is being in my bed and South Park and feeling like I'd been set on fire."
"That was the completion of the cycle of possession," Satan says. "When I took over your body completely. Inadvertently!"
"Yeah, I figured that part out. And I know it wasn't your idea. But then what happened?"
"Hmm," Satan says, tapping his fingers over his huge red knees. "How to put this delicately."
Ten minutes later, Stan walks back into the house. He moves blindly through the rooms, into the bedroom. Kyle is fast asleep. Stan needs a while to think, anyway. About. What was just revealed to him. The startling sense of unshakable truth he felt when he heard it. He sits in the rocking chair across from the bed and watches Kyle sleep.
Kyle wakes hours later: yawning, stretching, rubbing at his face. He flinches and curses when he sees Stan staring at him.
"What are you doing?" Kyle asks, still blinking his eyes open fully. "What's wrong?" he asks when he notices the look on Stan's face. He frowns and sits up. "Stan? What happened? What's the matter?"
"Satan says I came out of your ass."
Kyle stares for a moment, as if he's trying to interpret that as a metaphor. He blinks, groans, and looks away, his shoulders curling inward.
"They told me it was the only way," Kyle says. "To save you."
Stan isn't sure how to respond. He wants to get mad at Kyle for this, but how could he? Kyle did save him, this way. Through ass rebirth.
"Did it hurt?" Stan asks, his eyes filling with tears when he imagines how much it must have. Kyle winces as if in memory, shrugs.
"It was worth it," Kyle says, still mumbling. "Worth the pain. And I guess I knew I'd lose you, but—"
"Lose me?" Stan gets up, the rocking chair tilting wildly behind him. "Dude. I'm right here."
"Right, but. You're not going to want to rub your dick on me and lick my cheeks anymore, now that you know the horrible truth."
"It's not horrible," Stan says. Kyle gives him a look. "I mean, okay, it kind of is, but. I could just not think about it."
"That seems unlikely."
Stan sits in the rocking chair again. He needs a moment. There are a lot of ins and outs here to consider.
"Fuck Satan for telling you," Kyle says, scowling down at the rumpled bedclothes. "I wanted to tell you myself. I would have phrased it better, surely."
"Maybe," Stan says, incredulous. "But, like. How else do you tell someone that they're an ass baby?"
"You're not an ass baby! Jesus!"
Kyle puts his elbows on his knees and his face in his hands. He needs a haircut. His fro has gotten enormous, but he refuses to let Stan cut it. Kyle only ever gets his hair cut at a special salon in Denver. His stylist is a man named Redmond.
"Satan says we can go home soon," Stan says, muttering this glumly.
"Great," Kyle says, equally glum.
Stan continues rocking himself in the chair, trying to feel soothed by it and closing his eyes, attempting to picture what things will be like when they return home. Apparently Cartman has stolen Kyle's bed and is fucking Kyle's dad, possibly also his mom. Stan has already promised that Kyle can move in with the Marshes in lieu of returning to that nightmare. Surely Stan's mom will understand the need for this and allow it. Stan tries to imagine Kyle in his bed at home, and when he does he envisions Kyle sadly pushing him away because Stan once came out of his ass.
He's somewhat optimistic that Kyle will want him again anyway, but it will certainly be weird for Kyle to have Stan in there again. Just hopefully not weird enough to keep Stan out forever.
"Hey," Stan says when Kyle seems to be drifting to sleep in the bed again. Kyle opens one eye and turns to him. "I love you," Stan says, his voice trembling with the weight and the truth of it. Kyle usually says it to Stan, every night, just before they fall asleep together here.
"You love me even though I pushed you out of my ass?" Kyle asks.
"Dude," Stan says. "I love you especially because of that."
Kyle snorts as if this can't be true, but when Stan slides back into the bed Kyle allows Stan to spoon up behind him. Stan tries not to think too much about the fact that doing this usually gives him an erection and that there's no such physical reaction happening now. He knows Kyle is thinking about it, worrying. He kisses Kyle's neck and makes a solemn promise to himself to go to therapy when they return to Earth, so he can work through his many and very complex issues with Kyle's ass. Kyle is worth it. Kyle is everything to him now— Always was, really.