I take in the beauty of the dusk while I still can. Ahead of us is the road back to town. I can see the glow the city lights on the horizon. Wish You Were Here plays in the background. Cartman takes a big exhale, tapping on the wheel.

"We could just… run away. Right now. Forget about all the bullshit that happened."

I can see the pain and fear in his eyes. Even as he drives back towards that familiar town that we grew up in, he's terrified of it.

"I don't think there's any forgetting it." I say. "We can't just take the easy way out."

Cartman squeezes the steering wheel. He slumps his forehead onto it and groans. "Why can't we, Kyle...? Why can't we just start over..."

Seeing him take his eyes off the road like this makes me a little anxious. But I just keep an eye out. I completely understand why he wants to leave. It's not like it doesn't make sense.

"You have people that you'd leave behind. Same goes for me. I'd leave behind Ike, Mom and Dad…"

"Fuck my family," He says. "And fuck that unborn fetus I don't know."

"You still have family."

"Fuck them,"

"Kenny and Karen." I say, despite him. A brief pause, but he doesn't seem to have anything to say to this. "I know you care about them. Enough to put yourself in danger against his psychotic, violent parents. You didn't have to do that, but you did it anyway."

Cartman lifts his head from the steering wheel. He doesn't look at me. Instead he looks begrudgingly at the road. "...Fucking Kenny."

I smile slightly. "See, you don't wanna run away."

Cartman lets out a laugh. "Yeah I fucking do, what are you fucking crazy?"

"No, you really don't." I say. "You said, 'Why can't we just start over,' as if you wanted me to remind you why you can't. Because the fact is you can't, and you know you can't."

Cartman pauses for a moment, then shoots me a look as if I just said the most annoying thing in the world.

"That's what you said, Cartman. Literally three seconds ago." I say.

"What kind of bullshitty debate technicality bullshit did you just pull on me?"

I can't help but grin. "It comes with the territory."

Cartman smiles, a tired smile, but a smile nonetheless. "Fucking loser," He says.

I let out a light laugh. Even in the face of what's utterly terrifying ahead of us, we're still able to manage a joke or two. That's what I've always liked about Cartman. Making light of the darkest situations. Something I really need every once in a while.

It's a bit surprising, though… I didn't think I'd have this much influence over him. The fact that he asked me to give him a reason for not running away… hell, the fact that he's even still here, is shocking. I guess if I wasn't here for him he would've run off a long time ago.

He's been a big influence on me, no doubt, but… maybe I influenced him just as much. Like we've struck a balance, somewhat. I just have to make sure that his monstrosity doesn't win out over my good intentions. If that happens, we're both fucked.

That's always been our relationship, I guess. Ever since we were kids. ...I wince and think back on all the crazy shit he's pulled. Not only over the years, but recently too. Tormenting the jocks, almost shooting Mr. Tweak, aiming a gun at Stan… god...

What a fucking mess you are, Cartman…

As I look at his tortured face, I know he knows that too. But he's accepted my attempt to reach out to him. He wants my help. So I have to help him. I have to set this whole thing straight. I have to help him redeem himself.

"They probably know the gender by now." Cartman says.

I'm broken out of my thoughts. It takes me a moment or two to remember what he's talking about, but then it comes to me. That child… that unborn fetus that he claims not to care about.

Ha. You knew you weren't fooling me.

"What would you want? Brother or sister?" I say.

"Sister." Cartman says. "I don't want a fucking brother named Eric."

"We could just call him Rick." I say jokingly. Maybe this isn't the time though. "It'd be a lot easier with an Erica, though. Yeah."

Cartman sighs. "It doesn't matter. There's no way I'm gonna be able to see her. Or him."

"First things first, right?" I say. "We have to sort this situation with Buck and Liane out."

Cartman shakes his head. "It's too dangerous to try and get Buck arrested."

"We don't have to get him arrested. We just need to get you out of that house." I say. "There's a legal way to do it, I just need to ask my dad."

"Oh yeah, he's real fond of you right now."

"It's our best shot, dude." I glare a little bit, but he's right. My dad isn't very fond of me right now. But we'llhave to make do. "When Kevin ran away for a year and then came back, I remember my Dad mentioning that he could've just filed for independence and gotten it easily."

"Independence?" Cartman says, glancing at me.

"Yeah. You could move out. Fend for yourself. Maybe even with financial support through court of law, but that part's a long shot." I say.

Cartman purses his lips. He's silent for a long time. I see his hands squeeze the wheel. "It'd still be dangerous for me to work."

"I could move in with you." I say. "We could take the same route to work, work the same schedules. That way anyone out to get you has to deal with both of us."

Cartman is silent.

"And hey, Kenny could live with us too," I say. "Might as well get him out of his shithole while we're at it, right?"

"...Kenny is good support for this stuff." Cartman says finally. "But he'd have to bring Karen with him."

"Yeah," I say, my eyes brightening. "We could get an apartment together and just watch each other's backs. That's completely doable, dude. And Dad's been harping on me for being dependent on him and all that crap. It'd be a rough start but honestly, at this point, I would love get out of that house."

"...So how do we do the independency stuff?" Cartman asks.

"I'm pretty sure we just gotta be approved by a court of law. You just have to prove that you can support yourself." I say. "And all your parents would have to do is agree to it. I don't think they even have to be there."

"They would never agree to it." Cartman says.

"It's our best shot, dude. And they might. If they think it'll get you out of their hair they just might." I say. "No matter how much you hate Buck and he hates you, you have to consider the idea of compromise. I know my dad will jump at the opportunity to get me outta the house."

Cartman stares straight ahead. Taking in a deep breath, he exhales slowly and shuts his eyes for a bit. Christ. It's a good thing there's no traffic here.

"Fine. Let's see."

The rest of the ride is mostly silent. Cartman's body language is tense. I see him tapping his fingers against the steering wheel again. But not with the music anymore. It's anxious and restless. His mind is racing. After a while during the drive, I unbuckle my seatbelt and scoot next to him leaning my head on his shoulder, and stroking his arm.

The thought of living without the support of my parents is definitely worrying, but I'd rather than than Cartman running away or possibly be imprisoned. Or worse, thrown in a mental hospital. Ugh... the very thought of that makes me nauseated.

And if Buck really is a drug lord like Cartman says, I'll be putting myself in danger by living with him. But then again, in that sense, I've been in danger this whole time. It probably helps that my father is a lawyer, though. And hey, he might not like me, but I'm still his son. If something happened to me I'd like to think he'd fight tooth and nail to get me justice. If he wouldn't, my Mom definitely would. In fact, knowing my mom's history, people would probably think twice about messing with my family in general.

I don't know who or what kind of people are against us, or if Cartman's 100 percent sure of the fact that people are after him, but we're decently armed and know how to defend ourselves.

This can work. We just have to play our cards right.

Eventually we pull up into the driveway of my house. I notice that Ike is peering out of his window from the second floor.

Oh boy.

Something's up. I don't know if Cartman noticed, but with how jumpy and observant he is lately, he probably did. We walk into the house and ring the doorbell.

Yeah. There's definitely something foreboding in the air. I hope my Dad isn't planning to kick me out… Though… that would kind of work to our favor. In a sense. Either way we still have to negotiate with him.

My Mother answers the door.

"Kyle, where have you been?"

"Just clearing my head, ma." I say. Which isn't a lie in the slightest.

"You should've texted me." Mom says.

Huh. Her tone is oddly calm. No, that doesn't seem like the right word... It lacks her usual boisterousness.

"Is Dad home?" I ask.

"Yes, he is." Mom's eyes glance towards the hallway. "Come to the kitchen, you two."

Ohhh boy.

Well, here's the moment of truth I guess.

Cartman and I slowly walk towards the kitchen as Mom closes the door behind us. I hope Dad can at least be of some help. But if worse comes to worst, I can take a look at one of his law books and find a work around. I refuse to believe that there isn't always some type of alternative.

We walk into the kitchen, and at the table, I notice two chairs are pulled out for us.

Buck and Liane are sitting on the other side.

I glance at Cartman. The natural pink that's usually sitting in his cheeks has drained away.

"Having a nice evening, you two?" Buck asks. His eyes are cold. Colder than usual. They're zero'd in on Cartman. In the silence that ensues, I take Cartman's hand in mine and squeeze it. Cartman flinches.

Jesus Christ... he's terrified of this guy. I'm so used to his hands being warm, but all of a sudden, they're cold and sweaty.

"Kyle, sweetie," Liane starts, her gentle voice a jarring contrast to Buck's. "Have you liked Eric all this time?"

I look back down at Cartman's hand in mine.

...Oh.

I just completely outed myself to both of our families.

"Yeah." I say. "He's incredibly important to me."

Cartman's incredibly tense. It feels like any second he's gonna take off. God, I hope he doesn't. It's terrifying, but this might turn out for the better.

A soft smile forms on Liane's face. "That's wonderful, dear. I'm so happy for you, Eric."

Cartman gives her no response. His eyes have been completely locked on Buck. In my peripheral I catch my Dad approaching me and my heart leaps.

"Oh- Dad I need to talk to you about something-"

"Oh yeah, you do." He says. He points to Cartman. "He's not allowed to be in this house. And you're in serious trouble."

I turn back to Cartman, who still hasn't really moved or said anything. I stroke his arm to try and calm him down, at least a little. It doesn't seem to affect him. He doesn't even look at me.

"I get not wanting to tell your parents some things, Kyle." Buck says placidly. "But when I tell them that this man struck his own mother, and they act completely surprised, it makes me think that you don't care about their safety."

"I didn't tell them because you're a liar." I say. Buck stares me down. I narrow my eyes at him. I don't give a shit if he is a drug lord. He's a fucking liar and I'll tell him to his face. "Why would I believe a man who kicks someone out of his own house and leaves him to freeze to death in the cold?"

"A liar, huh," Buck says. He reaches in his pocket. Cartman immediately tenses up. I do too. My hand's on my gun. When I see that it's clearly a cellphone, I stop myself.

...Jesus, I immediately went for it… Cartman is looking at me with wide eyes. He slowly turns back to Buck, who places the phone on the table.

"Come here, Kyle." Buck says.

"No."

Buck's hardened eyes remain locked on mine. Fuck him. He's not going to order me around like he thinks he can do to everyone else. I'm not playing into his hand. He says nothing else. Slowly, he tilts the phone upwards so that it's propped up. A video is pulled up on the screen. And I realize… it's a video of Cartman's kitchen. I step closer.

It's positioned the way a hidden camera would be. The overlay of a play button sits on the center, and Buck's thumb hovers over it.

"This is all the proof you need." Buck says.

My heart is locked in my throat.

He plays the video. Immediately, I hear shouting. Shouting so loud it clips the microphone and I can't really make out words, but I know it's Cartman's voice. His voice, completely enveloped in rage, the way he yelled at his Mother when she ran from us. Then I hear Liane's voice. I can't make it out. Her voice is too soft and she's muttering.

...But this is just Cartman yelling. Is he seriously thinking he can take me away from Cartman just by hearing him be pissed off at his Mom? I mean sure, he could go a little easier on her, but…

"Is this fucking funny to you, whore?!" Cartman's voice rings through the video. "Do you think this shit is funny?!"

"I'm not-"

In a pixelated blur, I see Cartman rush in to view, slamming his Mother against the stove. My eyes widen. My heart sinks.

"Wipe that smile off your face!" Cartman screams in a sickening type of growl. He's pinning his Mother to the stove. She starts whimpering and crying. I let go of Cartman's hand, stepping away from him. The video continues. "Fuck you. You did this. This is your fault you sick bitch!"

Don't look away. Don't look away. I need to see this. I need to see this.

This is the truth.

This is the unbiased, untouched truth.

I can't hear what Cartman's saying anymore. His shouting is too loud. His words are too slurred with rage. His Mother isn't trying to speak anymore. She's just cowering under him on the stove. Then I see Cartman raise his hand to his Mom.

Fuck-

I tear my eyes away.

It doesn't matter; I hear it. That terrible sound. The reverberating sound of Cartman slapping his Mother in the face. Not just once, either.

I don't manage to count. My body moves on its own, getting far away from Cartman and going to Buck and Liane's side of the table. The sounds of the video as it plays go on as indistinct garble in my ears.

"Kahl,"

"You did do it," I say. I stare at the phone. The video's stopped. "You actually hit her..." My body suddenly feels numb. "Just like everyone said..."

Cartman's lips part. He has no idea what to say. Of course he fucking doesn't. "No," He says, softly, in almost a whisper. It almost gets me. Almost.

"That's what a schizophrenic episode of his looks like." Buck says. "And you letting him live in your house with your family, and for christ's sake, your little brother, is seriously dangerous."

I stare down at the floor.

"I hope you understand now, Kyle." Buck says. I hear him get up from his seat. A second screech of the chair's wood against the floor tiles tells me Liane stood up too. "We'll take it from here."

"Kahl listen to me, I can explain-"

"No. You can't." Buck says. "Hell, I don't even think you know what you're saying or what's going on half the time."

I look back up to see Cartman trying to shrug off Buck's grasp around his arm. He's got that enraged look in his eyes. Liane goes up to him, placing a gentle hand against his cheek. His focus shifts to her. I immediately feel queasy. After seeing that video, for her to be that close...

"It's okay, Eric." Liane says, "I know you didn't mean to hurt me. We just need to give you your medication, and then you'll be back to normal. Back to being my sweet little poopsiekins."

She gently strokes Cartman's face.

He stares at her silently, his brow pinched. "Why... " He breathes, "Why are you doing this…?"

"Because I love you, Eric. And I want you to be back to normal." Liane says.

Cartman just stares at her. "...Did you ever love me?" He asks. His voice gets shaky. "Is there any part of you that…" He trails off. Then turns his head down and squeezes his eyes shut.

Liane cups Cartman's jaw with both hands. "I always loved you, sweetie. And I always will." She says softly. "Let's just go home, now. We can be a happy family. You and Me, and Buck, and our new baby… and we can go home and you can get some good sleep, and eat your favorite spaghetti-"

Suddenly, Cartman lunges at her. Buck just barely holds him back.

"BITCH! LIAR!" Cartman screams.

"Get back, Liane!" Buck grunts.

"Oh, baby, it's happening again…" Liane says, starting to tear up.

"SHUT UP! STOP LYING! THERE'S NOTHING FUCKING WRONG WITH ME!" Cartman shouts. "It's YOU Mom! It's always been YOU, you STUPID LYING WHORE! That's ALL YOU EVER DO!"

"Who're you calling a liar?"

Cartman turns his eyes to me. To my own surprise, I've walked right up to him. My eyes are burning into his. My fists are shaking.

"After all I did for you…" I growl. "I risked my life. I went into the freezing cold to find you and make sure you were safe." The rage vanishes from Cartman's face. Suddenly he looks like he's about to cry.

You liar.

You manipulative fucking psychopath.

"My life, Cartman! Do you understand that?!" I snap. "I almost died for you, but as long as you got what you wanted, you could just keep on lying. Just keep making yourself look like the victim, telling me all these grandiose stories to get me on your side, just like you always do! "

Cartman stares at me for a long time. He opens his mouth to speak, but nothing comes out. Eventually his gaze drifts to the floor.

"...I can't believe you…" My throat seriously hurts, but I refuse to let my voice break. "I thought you changed."

Cartman looks back up at me. The emotion on his face changes as suddenly as it did before.

But this time it's different.

His eyes look completely dead.

An intense chill goes through my body.

"I'm glad you understand now, Kyle." Buck says. "I'm sorry about everything he did to you."

I can't stop staring at those dead eyes Cartman has. If there's anything that life taught me, it's to be wary of this look. Especially on the face of Eric Cartman. I can't forget that. This is Eric Cartman we're dealing with. Shit, I can see the pulse in his neck. Buck, still holding Cartman, pulls him towards the kitchen door.

"We'll take good care of him."

Will you?

Can you?

My stomach sinks.

"Where are you going to take him?" I ask.

Am I never going to see him again?

My dad takes me by the arm.

"Come on, Kyle. We need to talk."

What's wrong with me? Everything is finally going to be set right. Cartman's finally going to get what he deserves. That's good, right?

"Wait, Dad."

Right?

"Kyle,"

What the hell's going on with me?

"Just wait for a second-"

In that second Cartman swings his body, and Buck, into the wall behind them. I see the back of Buck's head slam against it. He stumbles. Cartman breaks free from his grasp.

What...

He grapples Buck and throws him into the kitchen table. It snaps in half in the middle, landing Buck on the floor. Liane starts screaming. It's not long until Cartman's on top of Buck, bludgeoning Buck's face with his fists.

"Cartman!" I shout. My Dad tries to pull me out of the kitchen. I turn to him, swatting his arm away. "Get out, now!" My Dad is utterly confused for a second. But he listens. I turn back and see Cartman wrap his huge hands around Buck's neck.

"Look at me." Cartman growls through his teeth, staring Buck in the face. "Look at me, you sack of dogshit,"

I can hear my Mom shouting in the background. Liane is shouting too. So's my brother. I hear my Mom and Liane start to argue in the back. A mess of chaotic panic while Cartman strangles Buck on the floor.

Without another thought, I grab the gun from my jacket pocket and fire it into the ceiling.

The harsh booming sound reverberating in the small kitchen is sharp enough to make everyone flinch.

"Cartman!" I shout again.

Cartman looks up at me, hands still around Buck's neck. Buck's face is a swollen mess of flesh and blood.

"Get off of him. Now." I say. My hand is trembling.

Cartman simply stares at me. Completely locked with mine.

Gritting my teeth, I point the gun at him. "Now, Cartman."

That dead expression returns to his eyes, replacing the blank look from the alarm of my gun. My mind flashes back to how quickly he turned on Mr. Tweak for pointing a gun at him. How much of a knee-jerk reaction it was for him to open fire. The hand holding the gun trembles so obviously, but I keep my eyes locked on with his.

You don't scare me, Cartman. You never will.

"Do it, Kyle." Cartman says.

...

I squeeze the gun. "Don't push me, asshole. Get off of him now, or I will shoot you. I know what a monster you are."

Cartman keeps his eyes on me. He slowly gets up off of Buck, who seems to just barely be conscious. Then he walks towards me.

I'm shaking, but I don't move. I don't give him any ground. I stay right where I am. He keeps walking, until his chest presses directly against the barrel of my gun.

"Do it." He says again.

My eyes widen.

...Cartman?

Suddenly the blare of sirens surround us. Before I know it red and blue lights flash through my kitchen windows. Cartman's eyes dart around, and he backs away from me. We hear banging on the door.

"Police! Open up!"

Cartman grabs the silver pistol out of his pocket. I flinch, and put my finger over the trigger again, but he makes a run for the back door before I can even think to press down.

"Cartman!" I shout after him.

I start to chase him, but then I hear those familiar high impact gunshots of his going off. He fires multiple times, no doubt at the officers. I stand at the opened backdoor, the sounds of sirens and screaming and commotion all around me.

I watch Cartman jump fences and disappear into the distance.

And I just stand there.

The biting cold envelops my face.

I hear the police enter our house. Voices muttering, asking my Dad about Buck's condition. Collaborating to take him into an ambulance. I hear Liane and my Mother still bickering. Liane is a sobbing mess. Over and over again, she insists to the police that 'Eric is a good boy.' The cops ask my Mother and Father questions, and they start to recite their side of the story to them. It's all a fuzz of sound, behind me, as I stand in my backyard, staring ahead of me. Where Cartman used to be before he ran away.

I stare at the gun in my hand.

...

A few hours pass.

The Police have confiscated my gun, and my Dad has scolded me endlessly. Hours and hours taken up, of him pacing, ranting and talking. About something. About how terrible a person I am. About how scared I made the family. Something like that. He's taken away my phone for an indefinite amount of time.

...

A couple of days go by.

Dad bolted my windows shut. He took the internal lock off my door, and installed a latch so it can only be locked from the outside. I remember that Ike tried to ask me questions about Cartman. I don't remember what they are, but I don't respond to them.

I just stay in my room, like I'm told.

I do my homework, like I'm told.

When I'm not doing that, I lie in my bed.

I'm tired.

I'm so tired.

...

A week goes past.

Just me in my room. In my bed. The events of my day a fog of mundane events. Homework, rest, food, permission to use the restroom. Ranting from my parents. More rest.

My parents recite to each other what Liane and Buck told them. About Cartman, about his schizophrenia, and how he had been hoarding guns in his house before he came to ours. They talk about how I endangered all of their lives. How I had a gun too. And what they should do with me.

I hear constant arguments about what should be done with me.

Dad wants to try to get me into juvie, but Mom argues that putting me around other bad kids is what caused the problem in the first place.

She's right.

In this past month, I've had several fights, acquired a gun, assaulted more than one person on several occasions, and enjoyed all of it. All because of being around Cartman.

All that, in one month. One month to turn me into a monster, like him.

Time flows like molasses. Yet, I barely remember any of it.

I only know it's been a week because I've stayed in from school on my Mother's request. It's the weekend again. I hear I'll be going back to school soon. But that's only what I hear.

I hear a knock at the door.

I squeeze my covers in my hand.

Another knock comes.

"Kyle?"

That's Stan's voice. I sit up.

"Hey," Stan speaks very softly. He comes in and sits on my bedside. "I… heard about what happened."

"Didn't everyone,"

When I finally speak, Stan looks directly at me. He was avoiding eye contact before. Now, he stares at me, really looks me over. "...Yeah - Jesus dude, you look terrible. Your eyes are so dark."

"I can't sleep." I say with a sigh. "Every time I try to sleep I just…"

I look down, gritting my teeth.

The rest I've been getting is just rest. Not sleep. I mostly just stare at the ceiling. A lot of times that's all I can manage.

Too tired to get good sleep.

I think I'd feel shame, but apparently I'm too tired for that, too.

Stan touches my shoulder. "It's okay, Kyle. He's gone now."

I look up at him. "...Gone?"

"They searched the whole town. Even the alleyways." Stan says. "Looks like he skipped town."

After a few passing moments I pull my knees to my chest. "He was always saying he wanted to run away."

Stan stares down at the floor, then sighs. "I hope so. I wish he just did that to begin with. He didn't have to toy with you first. God, he put you through hell."

I rub my face harshly. I've been doing this a lot lately. My face is so itchy. "Don't say that."

"Kyle. Look at you," Stan says, gesturing to me. "Your hair's a mess, you're getting all this acne, you haven't had any sleep-"

"Maybe I'm just hitting puberty again," I say.

"Dude. This is not the time to joke." Stan says. "You need serious help."

Stan hadn't been able to get into my room for a little while, before today. My parents wouldn't let any of my friends into the house. Especially ones that were close with Cartman, like Stan used to be. But I guess that changed. Stan probably told them that he hates Cartman. I wonder if he knows that Cartman pointed a gun at him. I wonder if Kenny told him.

Kenny… I wonder what he's up to.

After Stan leaves, I drift back into the fog. For what feels like forever.

For all I know, Cartman could be dead.

If I were a sane person, that would bring me relief.

But I'm not.

I don't know what I am.

I'm in a therapist's office now. Stan suggested it to my parents. It took me out of my room for the first time in what feels like forever. My body feels like a house of cards when I walk.

"Just relax and tell me whatever comes to your mind."

I lie on the couch, and sigh. Cool. Another ceiling to stare at. "I want to go to sleep."

"Why do you want to go to sleep, do you think?"

"Because I'm tired." I say.

"What are you tired of?" The therapist asks.

My eyes dull. "...I don't know."

He scribbles notes in a file. "Your parents tell me you're a smart kid."

"Fuck you." I say. The therapist says nothing to that. Just waits for me to speak again.

This fucker. Say something. Who does he think he is? Kenny?

I wait a few more seconds. I feel myself getting more and more angry. "What if I just lied here and said nothing? Huh? What would you do then?"

"You're free to do whatever you want."

"You're supposed to do your job." I say. "If I just refuse to talk to you, you can't do your job. I could just go to sleep right now."

"How does acting this way make you feel, Kyle?"

"How does it make you feel?"

"This session is about you, not me, Kyle." He says. "You have a lot on your mind. Now's your chance to get it out to someone in a safe environment."

"Safe." I scoff. "So you're not gonna judge me? You already decided that I'm innocent? That - that I don't deserve to be judged? What the hell do you know?"

"Do you feel like you need to be judged?" The therapist says.

"Of course I do. Why the fuck do you think I'm here? There's something wrong with me! That's the reason I'm here. That's the only reason I'm being forced to talk to you."

"What do you think is wrong with you?"

I'm silent. I lie on the bed for a long time, thinking about this. There's someone here, asking me questions as if they care. But they really don't.

So in a sense, I'm talking to myself.

He doesn't matter. It's just me in here.

What's wrong with me? Ha… is that even the right question? A better one is, what isn't wrong with me? How do I even sum that up? Do I even know?

"I… I don't know."

What's wrong with me…?

"A lot."

So many things.

I can't even name them all. There's so much wrong.

"I…kind of... let myself... become a monster."

...

I start to recite to him the terrible things I did, ever since Thanksgiving Break ended. About my temper, how I yelled at my mom, how I started continuous fights with Cartman, and how he encouraged me to, how my friendship with Stan deteriorated… how I started to become sadistic. Most of all, how I foolishly fed into a bigger monster's ego. How I enabled him, allowed him to hurt other people, and almost let him kill my best friend.

I must've been talking pretty quickly to get that all out of my system within an hour's time. Clearly, because he says he wants to revisit the things I said little by little, in future sessions.

I walk out of the office feeling an immense amount of sweat on me. Still swaying like before. It feels like things are crawling on my back. I get into the car, my mother greeting me and saying comforting words. I keep my eyes to the floor.

Whenever I look outside the window and see glimpses of people, I keep thinking they're Cartman. I don't want to look outside. My mind's been playing tricks on me for a while now. Ever since I stepped outside. I'm sick of it.

When I get home I rush into the bathroom. I throw off my bag and kick off my shoes and hastily yank the shower door open. I feel so gross.

...Oh. I forgot to take my clothes off.

I step out of the shower and start to take them off. Thankfully I didn't turn the water on yet. For some reason, the feeling of the fabric pulling against my skin is more pronounced than usual. I feel like I'm hypersensitive to every touch. Any sensation on my skin is so… detailed now. I glance up in the bathroom mirror.

My own reflection sickens me. I see a 5'7'' scrawny jewish guy with sunken in eyes and filthy, frizzed out hair. And he looks completely disgusting.

I tear my eyes away and jump into the shower.

It feels like I'm drenched in filth.

I flinch when the sprinkles of water hit my face. The cold, continuous smacking of the droplets against my skin is incredibly unpleasant. I stand there and try to adjust to it. It takes long enough where my fingers start to prune. I try to ignore that when I shampoo my hair, but I feel my disgusting wrinkly finger pads massage suds into my scalp. God, it feels disgusting.

I admitted so much to that therapist. I opened up to him, and I really didn't want to. But he was right. I had to get it out. And I ended opening up to him more than I usually do to people. To admit that I'm ruthless… that I enjoy causing pain to people I decide deserve it… to admit that I'm sadistic...

Most people would judge me severely for that. They would want to stay away from me. They'd overreact and either try to shame me out of thinking like that, or want to stay far away from me and treat me like I'm evil. But it's not like something I want to have. It's something I can control.

It just feels relieving and liberating to acknowledge that that part of me exists. But most people can't handle that kind of honesty. The only other person I could ever admit that to, is… Cartman.

...Cartman…

How could I be... stupid enough to trust him? To let him get into my head, to let him use me like I was his... puppet… Stan was right. The whole time he was trying to warn me, trying to help me, and I just spat in his face. I treated Stan like the bad guy. Because for some god forsaken reason, I wanted to believe there was something to Cartman. Something to everything he was saying. Something that I connected to. Because…

Because...

...Because I love him.

Why the fuck do I love him? It doesn't make any sense.

He's a monster. He always has been. He can't be trusted. He does nothing but lie. He does nothing but think about himself. He lies to me over and over again, takes advantage of my good nature, and bends it into his deranged and corrupted will.

I've always known that about him. I've felt that in the core of my being. At the front and back of my consciousness, there was always a voice, when I smiled at him, when I admired him, when I shared those precious moments with him, it repeated over and over, 'This is Eric Cartman you're dealing with.'

All this time, I heard that. But I ignored it.

Because I wanted this weird, foolish fantasy where Eric Cartman secretly had a heart of gold. Where he considered me special. Where I inspired him to change his ways. In my dumb, pathetic fantasy, he wasn't just using me and feigning emotions and acting likable. He trusted me. He admired me. And me showing him vulnerability would make him show vulnerability to me too.

I fed into that fantasy. I believed it with all of my heart. And for that he betrayed me, gave me anxiety, paranoia and pain and left me a broken mess.

...And I still love him. After all that, I still love him. I still miss him. I still want him, with all of my heart and soul, to come back. And most of all, I want him, that psychopath, that monster, to be okay.

There is something severely wrong with me.