I should probably clarify a few things up here first (plus I'd really like to, because I'm obsessive like that). The number one thing is that this story contains both slash and het pairings, so, uh, ye have been warned or something like that. No bitching against me for that, okay? Okay. Nothing of any graphic nature though, I'm not into that kind of stuff, kthx.

That being said! This is my first South Park fanfiction, as well as my first fanfiction involving actual pairings – hooray! I know things are starting off really slow here, but with all the stuff I've managed to think up for this thing, and with the lack of filler I've managed to think up, it should really, really pick up pace. Well, I hope it does. That would add to the angst and anybody who knows me knows that I'm an angst fanatic. Also, to anybody who doesn't know me in the fanfiction area yet, my past two attempts at multi-chapter fics FAILED due to slacking which was followed by lack of interest, so, just saying, my updates won't necessarily be speedy, and I may never even finish this and the whole thing might get deleted. I'm hoping that's not the case but hey, you never know. Fair warning.

Established a few things in this chapter (I guess it's also more of an introduction to the time where I've set it up to), like the ages and the whole hat thing. Picked the age because a) it's around my age group, b) it's when hormones really start to have a good time fucking around with you, and c) it's an age where you're still partially defenseless, I think I mentioned that somewhere down there. As for the hat thing, well, yeah, felt the need to stick that in when originally writing this and couldn't think of a way to successfully remove it (besides, every time I've read a South Park fanfiction, I've pictured Stan and Kyle with their hats on. I just have a hard time picturing them without them, and I'm trying to stay close to some canon aspects of the show). Also, some of the best friend relations are loosely based on relations with my own best friend. Figured that deserved a mentioning.

One last thing, as if you can't already tell from this introduction already – I. RAMBLE. This is my first time writing from a first person view point, therefore, the chances of the character rambling are FREAKIN' HIGH. Yup. …Enjoy!

You know those feelings you sometimes get, when your stomach clenches up on you and it gets harder to breathe and it's like you want and need to puke but you can't because there's no opening? When you get all of this perspiration clinging all over your body and you just squeeze your eyes tight and beg for another mouthful of air, just one more mouthful at the least? When you can't feel anything and everything fades out and you just go all rigid and stiff?

I don't, and I hope I never do, although at this point it feels like I'm about to find out.

It's sorta like a flashback; I think I'm unconscious right now. It'd be more like a flashback if I could actually see or depict anything clearly, but I can't. Maybe my mind is purposefully trying to suppress this but this memory just wants to rear its ugly head and force itself down my throat. Great. Memory in my throat but no air, that's just what I need.

God damn, this is pretty realistic for a flashback. I think this is a flashback. I sure hope it is. In my mind's eye it's dark out and in my mind's senses it's cold. It's not terribly cold, though. I mean, I've lived in South Park all my life and we typically only get one snow-free month a year so I'm used to it, but still, I guess it's cold. And snowy. I think it's December… yeah, December.

And then I collapse and it's colder. Oh, it's snow. In my mind I'm lying face down in the snow and—paralyzed! That's it! That's a better description of that feeling. With fear I'm assuming considering the breathing difficulties. It would make sense, really, especially if I've been injured in some way. I mean you don't tend to just collapse and not move yet know very well where you are if you're not hurt. At least I think so. Wait…

I faintly hear a hissing noise above me and footsteps trudging through the snow. Judging by the sound of it all I'm assuming it's some adult male, but I don't really care right now. What I do care about it why does my left arm suddenly feel warm? And sticky? Why do I feel something sticky?

Goddamnit, flashback, the least you could do give me all or nothing. I don't like this mid-way shit.

I feel myself slowly fade back to the real world and open my eyes slowly. It's dark in here, but there are some machines emitting a soft glow. One of them is beeping. It's a slow, steady, consistent beeping that's annoying the hell out of me. I want to smash it but I feel too woozy to do anything right now but try to get a sense of where I am.

After waiting there for a few minutes, staring up at the ceiling with blank eyes, I try to prop myself up so I can get a better look around, but my left arm is refusing to move without causing me some sort of pain. My right arm is working fine, though, so I use that one. It's not a great view but it's better than simply lying down on that bed. The first thing I notice is that my hat's not on my head, and after looking around a bit, I see it on a nightstand next to me. The hell? Why's it off? I grab it and put it back on my head before continuing to look around. I still feel pretty groggy.

This thing is probably, like, ten years old by now, but it's still in good condition. I don't really care what anybody says: I like my hat, I hate my hair, I wear my hat to hide my hair. It's less afro-y now but I still hate it. I'm fourteen and I still wear this thing, but nobody really makes a comment on it, and even if anybody did, I wouldn't really care. Stan still wears his more often than not. Cartman wears his on occasion. Kenny never really had an actual hat, so he doesn't count.

Out of the four of us I've grown the least, so it still fits me perfectly, anyway, albeit a bit more snug than when I was eight or nine. Stan is right behind me when it comes to not growing so much so he's got pretty much the same deal. Besides, we barely took them off when we were kids. Why now? Everything else is still basically the same, except Kenny's understandable now and you can see more than his eyes and he doesn't die so often, so why not keep hold to the past when it's there? We're still kids, I guess. I mean, fourteen-fifteen isn't really that old. I know I'm not on top of the world and I know I'm not invincible and I know that I'm still pretty darn young. I know that I'm still a kid and that tons of things are bound to happen and I'll be powerless to stop any of it. Maybe that's why I'm here now? Ehh, who knows.

The next thing I notice is that this isn't my room, and I'm wearing a light blue hospital gown. …Hospital gown. Well, that explains the machines and that irritating beeping. But fuck, the hospital? I despise Hell's Pass and I hate hospitals in general. I've been in here tons of times, most of them for myself, and only occasionally for one of my friends. I kept contracting these sicknesses and illnesses when I was younger. You'd think that by now they'd have given me my own permanent room; I've been in here enough. Nobody really cares when I'm in here anymore; it's just another regular occurrence. "Oh. Kyle's in the hospital? What is it for this time?" Everybody treats it like that.

Now that I know where I am, there's really nothing else to inspect. For the love of god, though, I wish that machine would shut the fuck up. And I want a clock. I wanna know what time it is. It's still dark outside so it must be night or early, early morning. I'm not really quite sure which and I don't really care, fact is, I'm wide awake now so I won't be going back to sleep anytime soon.

I wonder how long I've been unconscious? And what happened to land me in here this time? Common sense is telling me that it has something to do with my left arm but it's too dark to really see anything.

There's a bit of light that I can see from the crack under my door. Well, I've got nothing else to do, I might as well stare at it and wait for it to open, and when that happens, I can find out what's going on. I could probably get up and switch the light on in here to take a look, but I don't feel like it. It's like when you know you're wide awake but just don't feel like getting out of bed because you really see no point. Besides, I think it'd be best if I didn't, anyway. I mean I never know what could be wrong with me this time so it's safer.

I'm not quite sure how long it's been, but suddenly it starts to creak open. It takes me a couple of seconds to register this. I've probably been half-asleep, or something—but holy shit dude! Don't… don't just suddenly open up like that, gah! (Man, I sorta feel like Tweek now.) It's still dark out. Who's coming in here? A nurse, or the doctor, finally? Oh christ, my heart is pounding. I wish I'd calm down. Craaap…

Well, no sense in worrying needlessly. I peer over the bed at the figure entering – it's Stan. Stan? Oh, okay, now I can calm down. Stan's nothing to worry about.

"Kyle? Kyle, are you in here? Are you awake?" he calls out, keeping his voice low. I have no idea why. Common sense once again jumps in to tell me that it's still dark out and people are probably trying to sleep.

"Yeah. Yeah, I'm here, Stan," I answer. "Hey, do you know what time it is?"

He looks down at the ground in thought. "Uh, I think it's, like 5:30 in the morning. It's Monday. Kyle, what happened to you this time?"

I sigh. Typical way to phrase the question, but I guess I'm used to it by now. "I actually don't know; I just kinda woke up in here after this weird dream thing. Monday morning—Stan, what the hell are you doing up?"

"Couldn't sleep," he replies, shrugging. I can accept that answer, sort of – since the two of us are best friends and so close, it's been typical of us that whenever one of us can't sleep, we just go to the other's house, sneak into their room, wake them up and just sorta talk or sit there or whatever it's like. We're good enough friends that we're perfectly comfortable with just sitting there together if need be, enjoying the other's company. It's been going on long enough that it's no longer surprising when your sleep is suddenly disturbed and you look up to see your best friend's face, or even vice versa, but nobody has ever really found out yet that we've been doing this.

"Okay, but then how did you know to—"

"Let me finish," he says, holding up his hand. I close my mouth. He continues, "I was just about at your house, coming around the back way, when I heard your front door open. Peaked around the corner and your parents and Ike were getting out and into their car. Ike – he's really loud, by the way – was asking, 'Kyle's in the hospital? I didn't know he was sick,' and your mom looked pretty worried and pissed at the same time, and then they drove off, so that's how I knew to come here."


"Yeah. You know I had to sneak in here? Your parents were getting briefed, your brother was asleep, and the hospital still enforces the rule of only family members being allowed to visit until a certain time period."

I sigh. "I know. I hate that rule so much. I'd much rather take seeing my friends over my family first. Hey, could you turn on the light? I wanna see what's up with my arm."

Stan obliges and I pull the covers off to take a look. He joins me. It's definitely not a pretty sight. It's really bloody and I think I can see some stitches running along there—holy shit. That is a long one wound. It runs from about halfway between my shoulder and elbow to my wrist. Stan voices my thoughts out loud, and adds a redundant, "Eww. It's all dried up and caked around your arm. Sick, dude." Now is about the time that I'm thankful he doesn't have as weak of a stomach anymore.

"I know! Arg, what the fuck? How the hell did this happen?"

"Where the hell were you? What were you doing?" my best friend demands.

"I don't know!" I cry, pressing my fingers to my temples. "Look, dude, I feel dizzy and weak and just like crap in general, I'm in a goddamned hospital, and I just had the creepiest scene ever in my head not too long ago, I can't remember anything. Did you hear anything from that 'briefing' shit?" I mean, come on, all I know so far is that my arm is a bloody mess. If Stan at least heard something then maybe I can make more of the situation.

He bites his lower lip in pause, probably to think. "Uh, uh…" he struggles about, trying to recall anything, I'm assuming, "Uh… I think I just heard something about a 'great deal of blood loss.'"

I flop back and emit a soft groan. "Whoopee. Now I can totally piece this whole thing together."

"Err… sorry?" he 'apologizes,' but I think it's more of a confused tone, like when you have no clue what the hell you're supposed to say so you just say what seems to be the most appropriate to the current situation. And then cue awkward silence.

I wave my hand off, dismissing the apology. "Nah… nah, ignore me, I'm just venting." His mouth takes on an 'o' shape but other than that, nothing. After that it falls quiet and it's kinda like there's this silent tension between the two of us. It's not the calm, peaceful… well, sappy silences that we sometimes share just because we're best friends and all. It's like there's some hesitation on both of our ends, although I can't figure out how or why.

Stan walks over to one of the chairs that are conveniently placed to the side of the room (he turns the light back off on the way) and sits down, crossing one leg over the other and folding his arms across his chest. I'm still feeling kind of drained so my eyes merely flit over in his general direction; I can't be bothered to lift my head up from the pillow.

He looks like he's just staring off into space, like, his eyes look unfocused. If I didn't know him as well as I do then I'd have thought he was glaring at the wall opposite, but that's not the kind of expression he glares with. That's Stan's thoughtful expression. Eyes focused and looking slightly downwards, lower lip jutting out a bit in some sort of mini-pout, brows a bit furrowed. I wonder what he's thinking about right now. Usually I'm the one who just lapses off and begins to ponder the most random thing; Stan does it just about as much as Cartman does, and knowing the fatass, that's next to never. Then again I guess that this is my probably the closest thing to a near-death experience that I've had for a few years now.

I don't like this silence. How long does it take to brief a family, anyway? Is whatever happened to me really that horrible? Crap. I want a conversation.

"Hey, Stan?"

He jerks forward at the sound of my voice, and I can't help but feel bad that I ruined his reverie. A few moments pass before he answers back with a breathless, "Yeah?"

I feel a light blush come across my face and try to form out a calm, cool, and collected sentence, but only succeed in, "Oh… uh… It… it's Monday, right? Don't we—you—uhh, oh, you know… have school today?"

The fifteen-year-old boy to the left of me glances up at the roof for a brief moment. "Oh, uh, yeah. I guess so."

"Are you going to tell Cartman and Kenny what happened?"

"As much as I know."

"…You're not going to tell anybody else, are you?" I don't know. I just don't want rumours to get started and spread around. Being a freshman already sucks enough, but I don't really need any more troubles to go along with it. Exams are supposed to be coming up, anyway. That's enough for me, thanks.

Stan blinks in confusion. "Err… no… why? Do you want me to?"

"No!" I cry out, and then, realizing that it's still fairly early in the morning, fix that with a, "No, no, don't bother. It's fine."


And the awkward silence comes back. Goddamnit. My mind is blank right now, which is usually a rarity for me. I mean, I'm supposed to be the smart, always thinking kid, the one who over-analyzes every subject and can never just seem to get to the point and look at the basic message. I guess that comes in handy sometimes, but most of the time, it's a really bothersome trait.

I look back over and see that Stan doesn't have his thoughtful expression anymore, but more of an empty, blank one. I think it's pretty safe to say that he isn't a morning person, but I definitely am. It's just about as annoying as my over-analyzing thing, since nobody else I know seems to be able to get up at the crack of dawn and stay completely awake. Sometimes I'm grateful for this, since it gives me a nice, peaceful time where I can just go and over-think things and not be bothered. You know, things like life, relationships, family, death… Death, that's not an uncommon thing for me to think about. I'm not depressed or anything, it's just with all my hospital time that I can't help but wonder. I should talk with Kenny about the subject sometime. But there are times like this when I hate it, particularly with my best friend sitting right fucking next to me and him being half-asleep, just because it's the morning.

I glance over at the window to my right. The sky is still pretty dark, which is good, since the sun really only starts to rise about half an hour before school starts, and that would mean Stan would have to get the hell out of here right now. I'm thankful he doesn't, despite the quietness. The window's bottom right corner – the one closest to me – is sparkling a bit. It actually looks really pretty. Did it snow last night? …Oh, hell, why am I finding joy in the simple things of life?

I continue to stare at the window's corner, moving my head back and forth occasionally in order to make it glitter and shine to my eyes. Hey, at least it's something.

"…Kyle?" I hear a softly spoken voice come from one of the chairs lined up against the wall. Oh, right, Stan's here. I guess I got kinda distracted.


He gives a light cough. "It's, uh, 6:30 now." Holy crap, it's been an hour already? "I should probably be heading back…"

I notice that his voice trails off uncertainly, but decide not to question it. "Yeah… yeah, okay. Bye then," I say. God, I feel so unfocused.

Stan stands up and gives another light cough. "Err… you sure you don't know how that happened to your arm? I mean, you can tell me anything, you know?"

I raise my eyebrow in confusion. "…Huh? Stan, what are you talking about? I don't know what happened; I thought we already established that fact."

"I know, I know," he replies, "It's just… you didn't do that to yourself, right?"

This snaps me right out of it. "Wait, wait, WHAT?" So, hold on a second… my best friend thinks that I might have… oh, god…

Stan seems really uncomfortable now, and he damn well should be. Why would he think that I'd harm myself? Then again, it's not like I can really recall anything from before waking up in here, so he may be right… oh, fuck, now I don't even know. That can't be good.

"I just… err, I'm just thinking it could be a possibility. You know? I mean, uh… but you wouldn't do something like that, right?"

Great, now I feel bad for making him fidget. "Oh, um, uh, no, no, I wouldn't… you're the one who's gone goth before, remember? If there would be anyone to worry about, it'd be you."

Oh, shit, I probably shouldn't have said that. He and Wendy may have gotten back together two years ago, but still, back when they were originally together, it was puppy love, and that's just what keeps the innocence of it – destroying it breaks a part of your childish innocence, I think. There's another awkward silence, but I think he knows that I would never hurt myself like that. As long as he knows that then I'm good.

The only problem here is that I don't even know that. I can't recall much, if anything. Maybe that flashback thingy from before was just some kind of front or excuse my mind made up?

I look up when I hear another light cough. Propping myself up, I ask him, "Hey, Stan, are you okay?"

He waves it off. "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine." Pause. "Well, I should probably be going now, right? Eheh," he gives a nervous, half-hearted laugh, but turns serious on me rather quickly. "Kyle, just… just don't die on me, okay?"

Now it's my turn to give a pathetic laugh. "I'll try not to," I grin weakly. Wow. I think this situation just turned a lot more serious than I originally thought it would be.

My best friend returns my weak smile and turns to open the door. That's when I hear footsteps approaching my room, and I think Stan hears them, too, judging by the way he just stood upright suddenly. The footsteps stop and the two of us stay stock-still, breathing lightly, eyes glued to the door. I can hear voices muffled behind from behind it. One of them is unmistakably my mother's – how can you miss that one? – and the other is Dr. Doctor's, I think. They're probably going to come in. And Stan is still here. Crap. He's not supposed to be in here. He's not allowed to be in here.

"Stan—Stan, you've gotta get out of here!" I hiss. He turns back to look at me. He looks calm.

"No, it's okay, it's fine. I can get in trouble, it's not big deal."

"But I don't want you to get in trouble!" I shoot back. "What if you're not allowed to come back to visit me?"

He pinches the bridge of his nose. I guess that's a sign that I'm being a total pussy right now. "Dude, it's okay, really. You're not going to be in here long. You don't have a disease and you're already stitched up."

"How do you know?" I argue, knowing that this argument is costing us time. "Maybe I am diseased! And what about the next time I end up in here, huh?"

"Well stop getting sick, then!"

"I can't control that!" I cry out. "Please, Stan, just… go out the window or something! I don't want you to get in trouble on my behalf, I really don't."

"Kyle, I already told you – it doesn't matter," he replies, sounding exasperated.

"It does to me!" Yup, I'm a goody two shoes alright. I just don't like seeing myself, or my friends, get into trouble. I've usually been reluctant to get into the stuff that I know could turn nasty. "Just—please, Stan?"

There's still talking going on on the other side of the door, I note.

Stan sighs. "Alright, fine, Kyle," he answers, and moves across the room. That's when I notice that the doorknob is jiggling around now… oh, fuck, that means they're coming in!

"Stan, Stan!" I hiss, and he glances over at me, a 'Now what?' expression on his face. I point over at the doorknob, thus losing my prop and falling back down onto the bed. "No time. Hide!"

He looks around quickly before diving under the bed, just as the door starts to open. My parents are still talking with the doctor, and I don't see Ike anywhere, but I'm not really paying attention to what they're saying. I'm too busy being thankful that a small stature means you're able to fit under a hospital bed, and that means Stan won't be found.

"Kyle!" my mother cries, and I groan. I'm not in the mood to deal with her right now. I'm in a hospital, I don't know what's wrong this time, I hate hospitals and I hate doctors, and I have a feeling that I probably was hating my parents before I ended up in here. I had a weird and confusing dream, I don't know if I really am depressed and emo, I'm feeling kind of woozy and dizzy again, and my best friend is hiding under my bed and is stuck there because I'm such a wimp. What a beautiful situation.