To the Count of Twenty

:feels sick: So... uh... here's a chapter of TtCoT. O.o For the first time in... almost a year... :barfs everywhere:

This is incredibly short and incredibly dumb, and guys, I HATE this story, but people keep sending me reviews going "OMG UPDATE PLZ!" and I feel like a horrible person for just leaving the story like I did... who leaves for a year on a cliffhanger? Really.

So... um... I hope you are moderately appeased. But please don't judge my writing skills on this story. It's like, two years old, and I wasn't thrilled with it then. n.n;; I plan to finish it because people want me to... but it kills me a little inside every time I update. XD

chapter eighteen

Stan registered vaguely as he kissed Kyle with his eyes clamped shut in fear that his hold on Kyle's collar was probably choking him... but he couldn't let go. His entire body felt weak but he couldn't release that grip because it was all he had in the world... he'd thrown everything he had into this moment and couldn't let go of it now, not now that he'd finally made this jump.

And... he was glad. Because now that he was here it didn't seem so scary... the muscles in his face relaxed. It wasn't bad... at all. He'd wondered what it would be like, kissing his best friend, agonized over the thought that it could be anything less than perfect, but fuck, it felt perfect right now... Stan thought he might cry it was so perfect...

But then... then Kyle was pulling away, and it was all wrong because he wasn't supposed to. He couldn't just pull away from a kiss like that... he was supposed to kiss back, supposed to love back, supposed to reward his friend's bravery with a dime book affair, but he was wiping the kiss off on his sleeve and looking terrified. Stan's face went chalk white. "Wh... what are you doing?" he whispered, choking on air and his own suffocating fear because this thing that wasn't supposed to be happening was what he'd been afraid of all along.

Kyle looked as though he ought to be the one asking this question. "Wh... is this what you wanted to tell me?" His eyes shot around the room like a caged animal, making sure there was an escape in case this all went horribly wrong. Worse than it as now, anyway. "I... I like girls, Stan!" he pleaded in a shaky voice.

"Y-yeah, I —"

"I thought you did too! I thought you liked Wendy! I thought – of all of us – you – do you really feel this was about...? I thought you liked Wendy!"

Stan wasn't sure when this became an interrogation, and he wasn't sure how to respond. "Well, I... I do, but..."

"Then what the fuck are you kissing me for!" No, no, no, it was all wrong! Stan's nose started stinging, and the fact that he was about to cry in front of the boy he hoped was still his best friend only made him feel worse. "You've been Wendy's lapdog since I can remember... you were fucking in love with her... Jesus Christ, Stan, you were practically suicidal during the breaks in your relationship..."

"I... I know, but..."

"But what?" Why was Kyle looking at Stan like he owed him an explanation? He was the one who was messing this up!

"But we've been spending all this time together... alone... working through all this... this stuff, y'know... because of you I've been able to conquer so much... a-and when you said... s-said that..." He started to stutter as he fought harder against tears. "When you m-mentioned... caring a-about m-me... m-more that... m-more than girls..."

"In a platonic way! I don't – I don't like guys, Stan!" Kyle cried, exasperated, feeling guilty for shouting when he was clearly breaking his best friend's heart, but feeling all the while that his personal boundaries had been crossed and that he had every reason to be confused and repulsed.

"Well how the fuck should I know!" Stan hissed. "You're don't date, and you talk about girls like they're objects. You're horrible with girls! In fact, you're horrible with everyone! You may be calm and rational more than the rest of us, but the truth is that you really don't give a shit about anyone! The only person you ever seemed to care about at all was me! You're supposed to like me!"

Kyle opened his mouth wordlessly, Stan's accusations scorching his ego like fire. His expression was indiscernible as he said quietly, "Look... if I told you I did... wouldn't that be just as bad? Wouldn't I just be leading you on? Stan, I don't date because I don't care enough about girls to treat them the way they expected to be treated. You're the one who called me on that. I..." He swallowed what looked like a wave of nausea and continued in a quieter voice, "If we... if I... went out with you... it would be... just the same." He swallowed again. "Aren't you the one who got all bent out of shape over that?" Stan chanced a look up at Kyle and felt something hot trickle down his cheek; he didn't realize until a few seconds later that he was crying.

"I was just... it w-was all... bull sh-shit... I-I didn't know how I felt about you and I-I... I d-didn't want to admit that I was j-jealous of Bebe..."

Kyle looked like he might be sick, but he mustered up all his maturity to continue the conversation that was going downhill rapidly. "But... you were right, Stan. You... look, you're... you're my best friend, and I don't want to hurt—"

"I don't care!" Stan sobbed, his knees giving way as he fell hard to the ground. Oh god, he was pathetic... no wonder Kyle didn't want to be with him. "I don't c-care if you hurt me... I don't c-care if you l-lead me on... r-really! I don't!"

"I care!"

"Please!" Stan begged, and the sight of his best friend crumpled up on the ground in complete anguish made Kyle want to break down, too. "P-please, just... j-just b-be with me... l-lie to me if you h-have to... M-more than W-Wendy... m-more than a-anything... I've n-never wanted something s-so b-bad in m-my l-life..."

Kyle bit his lip, fighting the impulse to squat down and comfort his friend, because he knew that would give him the wrong idea. "I... I'm really sorry, Stan... I like you as a friend... and... nothing else. I'm sorry," he said again. "I... I think I'm gonna go now..."

Kyle turned and left the room quietly. When Stan heard the door close behind him he fell forward onto the floor and let out a low howl, clutching the carpeting between his fingers and wanting very much to melt into it. He heard the jingle of the front door open and shut and his sobs intensified. Oh god... why the fuck was he so stupid

"Y-you... s-said you... w-wouldn't h-hate me..."


Kenny's parents didn't seem to mind. Kyle guessed that when you lived a life like theirs it took more than a sobbing fifteen-year-old boy asking to see their dead son to faze them. Eric Cartman called about an hour ago, they'd said. He usually turns up around midnight. You'll have to wait awhile.

And he did. Kevin offered him a drink but there was just no way he could hold it down. He went straight to Kenny's room and fell asleep on the reeking bed almost immediately. Normally the itchy sheets and protruding springs wouldn't have allowed for such a thing, but after so much crying his body could have fallen asleep on a pile of bayonets. When he finally woke up the entire left side of his face was crusty with dried tears and the sun had set completely below the horizon. The only light in the room came from the open door. Kenny grinned when Kyle glanced wearily up at him.

"Mind telling me what the fuck you're doing in my bed on a school night?"

Kyle was on him so quickly that Kenny didn't even see it coming. By the time he realized that Kyle had gotten up he was already being crushed in a suffocating embrace. "Oh god, Kenny..." Kenny smirked awkwardly.

"Jesus, Kyle, if you're this horny why didn't you just go to Stan? He's more likely than I am to —"

Well, that got Kyle started. Kenny didn't know what he'd said, but suddenly the redhead latching on to him had burst into noisy tears and was clutching him so tightly he really was in danger of being strangled. He sounded like he was trying to say something, but any attempts of explanation were lost in the breast of Kenny's jacket.

"Er... Kyle?"

Kyle at last pulled away and looked up at Kenny with shiny eyes that were leaking tears all down his bloated cheeks. He looked terrible. Something bad must have happened. "Kenny..."

"Kyle..." Kenny put one arm around Kyle and stroked his hat (didn't he ever take the damn thing off?) with his free hand. "What happened?"

Kyle swallowed hard, his fingernails digging into the skin of Kenny's neck. "Stan... oh god, Kenny... Stan kissed me." Kenny's hand came to an abrupt stop as his eyes went wide as saucers. Kyle's face flooded with horror. "Oh, oh no, Kenny! Oh please don't tell anyone! Please, I couldn't stand it!" Kenny grinned weakly and put a shaking hand on Kyle's shoulder.

"No... no, I won't tell anyone... Christ." He shook his head as if he were shaking off water. "I think we both need to sit down for this one."