1I was always a terrible procrastinator, and I guess I just thought I had plenty of time. Telling him was something I kept putting on the back burner because, hey, there would always be tomorrow. Or the day after that. Or even the day after that. He wasn't going anywhere and neither was I.
He wasn't supposed to get married.
Married? He never wanted to get married. He dismissed it, as well as the entire female sex, when we were twelve. I was the romantic, he was the geek. A good looking geek, but a geek nonetheless. He liked books and word problems, not girls. Everyone knew that, especially me.
Maybe that's why I hung up the phone when he rang with the news. We'd just seen each other the night before, and he hadn't even implied that he intended to pop the question. I didn't even know he was seeing someone until he, a little drunk, accidentally slipped her name into the conversation. Linda. He spoke her name like it was shackled to his, the way that couldn't have been platonic. I naively assumed it was. The next day I was nursing a hangover when he called. I picked up and heard the joy in his voice; even the sound was smiling.
"I'm getting hitched!"
When he called back moments later I lied and said the line must have gone dead. He accepted that, and chattered endlessly about the whole ordeal. I pretended to listen as I repeated the words in my head..."I'm getting hitched." Fantastic.
I really wanted to hate her. She made it very difficult. I met her a few weeks later at some brunch thing, a kind of meet-and-greet for the whole wedding party (he told me that she insisted I was in the wedding, she wouldn't want it any other way.) The moment I arrived, feeling undeniably awkward in my one nice outfit, he immediately beamed and snatched my by the crook of my elbow.
"You have to meet Linda." He demanded as he dragged me past an open bar that I would have loved to take advantage of. He introduced me to a slim blonde bombshell, someone better than I honestly ever expected him to get. She was stunning, and the second her pink lips parted I prayed that crudeness and an obnoxious accent would uncontrollably spill out. It didn't. Only courtesy and sincerity escaped her smile.
"I'm so glad you could make it." she said as she shook my hand. "Sugar lips here has told me so much about you!" I raised an eyebrow and shot him a look, and he laughed and slung an arm around her slender hips.
"She likes using stupid nicknames." He explained. "I don't think she's ever used my actual name."
"I promise to use it at the alter, pooh-bear."
"I doubt that!"He turned to me again. "She started doing it as a joke, you know? We both thought the whole nickname thing was idiotic, so she would say a bunch and we'd laugh and whatever. Somewhere along the line it stopped being a joke to her. I think she might actually like them."
"Oh, puddin', stop." She lightly pat the spot where her hand rested on his chest, her engagement ring glittering under the florescent lights. My God, that think must have been chipped off of the Hope Diamond itself. It was a monstrous rock, I was surprised that it didn't pull her straight through the hardwood floor. A bell hanging over the entrance chimed and he turned to see who his new guests were. His eyes dulled but remained alert as he straightened his tie.
"My parents are here." He stated simply. "I've gotta go talk to them." He unfastened himself from her side and smoothed down his unruly hair as best he could. "Why don't you two talk? Can't have the most important people in my life hating each other, can I?"
Oh, CAN'T you?
He kissed her. They didn't see me look away.
We sat down after he sped off and she ordered us drinks; apple martini for her, vodka and tonic for me. When I asked her how she knew my poison of choice she giggled cutely and said she'd heard enough about me that she felt like she already knew me. She said he spoke so highly of me, there wasn't a day when she didn't hear my name. I honestly felt guilty that I couldn't return the sentiment.
"So how long have you been friends?" she asked, sipping delicately at her drink. I shrugged.
"Birth, I guess." Her eyes widened, impressed.
"That's wonderful. It must be nice to have such a great friend."
"It's all right."
I'll admit, I was kinda short with her, maybe a little cold. She either didn't notice of didn't get discouraged easily, because she was still friendly and cheerful and continued asking moronic questions that she genuinely wanted the answers to. Nothing about her was false. Not even her nails.
I hated myself for liking her so much.
"Why didn't you tell me about Linda?" We were walking through town, as we often did as kids. The wedding was a few months away. He glanced at me and hiked up his collar, a vain attempt to shield himself from the biting winds.
"I mentioned her."
"Yeah, but you never talked about her seriously." He was quiet for a moment, his eyes on the ground.
"I don't know. I just didn't."
"She knows everything about me. I don't even know her last name." He kicked at a large piece of ice, sending it skidding across the sidewalk.
"You were here. I was at school. You know, it never came up."
"We still talked, bud. You called everyday, mailed letters and shit. You could have said something."
"Well you know what, I'm sorry." He was angry all of a sudden and whirled out in front of me to demand all of my attention. "I'm sorry I never told you I had a girlfriend. I'm sorry I didn't tell you I loved her and was gonna marry her. Ok? It that what you want?"
"Why are you pissed at me?" I spat, piqued. "I should be the one who's pissed. You never told me you wanted to get married. Married! That's huge! We're supposed to be best friends! You're supposed to tell me that kind of shit!"
He scoffed opaque air through his nose and spun around, lethargically continuing the walk. His movements were guarded and caged.
"I never thought I'd actually marry her." He muttered when I caught up. I didn't press him further. We went on in silence.
The summer after high school was the best we ever had. We stupidly thought we could launch bottle rockets and break curfew and get hammered forever. I forgot that he was brilliant, that he'd been accepted to pretty much every Ivy League school on the map. He picked Yale; he'd known what he wanted to do his whole life, and Connecticut was where he was supposed to do it. I still hadn't a clue what I wanted, so I opted for a state college three towns over. We'd never been more than half a block away from each other. You can't make a tin-can telephone from Colorado to Connecticut, no matter how much thread you have.
We were sitting on the swings in the same park we found when we were six. We thought no one else knew about it. The next morning his dad would be driving to the airport with everything he would need until December. I hadn't even packed yet.
We sat on the swings and avoided eye contact, swaying back and forth and occasionally brushing against each other. Neither of us knew what we were supposed to say; we weren't exactly the heart-on-our-sleeves types about our relationship. The moon was high in the starless sky and I was swatting mosquitoes off my bare legs when he said he had to go. I just nodded and we took the long way back through the empty streets swimming in streetlight. I walked him to the door and we looked down at each other's shoes for, memorizing every insignificant detail.
"Well." He said finally with a sigh. "So long."
"Yeah." I replied, not making a move to get off his stoop.
It was quiet for a long time. He broke before I did, which I didn't expect since I tended to be the more emotional one. He captured me in an embrace and kissed my cheek, dropping his chin on my shoulder. It would have been weird and out of place in any other situation, but when he was upset he was illogical, so kissing me made perfect sense.
"I don't wanna go." He whispered. I could feel his hot tears running down the back of my neck. He had only cried in front of me twice, and one of the times was after he got beamed with an aluminum bat. I wound my arms around his waist and buried my face in his neck.
"You're gonna be so great." I rasped, embarrassed by how much my voice and body shook. "You're gonna go out there and be the best fucking thing that happened to that school, you hear me?" He laughed, barely.
"Promise you won't forget me?" I lost myself in his ruby curls and trembled more from my sobs.
"Not even if I tried."
The only thing we could hear were our muffled gasps and childish sniffs. Out of nowhere, I chuckled, and then it turned into a laugh. Without looking at him I knew he was confused.
"You're so gay."
He snickered and started to laugh too, and we stood there laughing and hugging and crying like little girls. I'd almost told him then, but I couldn't word it correctly in my head. It was better off I didn't then, anyway. After what seemed like seconds, he went inside and I went home and stifled my weeping with my pillow.
"Linda was thinking rose for the wedding."
I had, for some unknown reason, agreed to go with him to shop for meaningless girl crap that he needed. I plucked a handful of petals off some exotic plant with a name that could never be pronounced and turned to him.
"You mean like for her bouquet?" He shook his head and paid for the floral arrangement he needed, thanking the cashier when she congratulated him on his engagement.
"I mean like for us. Well, not me, anyway, for you. And the rest of the wedding party. She wants the bridesmaids and the groomsmen to match."
As we left the store I groaned, running my free hand through my hair. "Rose? Oh come on, you couldn't have argued her to blue or something? You know I hate dressing up in the first place, and you're making me wear pink?" He hit the back of my legs with one of the seventy-eight thousand bags he was carrying and laughed.
"Quit your bitching, you get free booze." His glasses slid down the bridge of his nose and he strained to correct them. He needed to get glasses in the sixth grade and, determined not to cement his position as a nerd, got the sleekest, most stylish pair he could get his hands on. When we got to high school he switched to contacts, but then switched again senior year when he was too busy with applications to bother with them. He said the glasses made him look like a dweeb, but I liked them. They suited him really well.
"This better be the best booze I've had in my entire life." I mumbled as I helped him load up the trunk of his car. He said something about it being better and hopped into the drivers seat. The radio was playing, and he drummed out the tune on the steering wheel while I sang. Badly. But we thought it was funny anyway.
"Hey, I have to ask you something." The question was out of my mouth before I had the chance to stop it, and he turned to me before I could take it back.
"All right. Shoot."
I could have just made up something, something unrelated and retarded like 'Can one baby eat another baby?' or some crap like that. But I'd still feel like I was lying. And I couldn't lie to him.
"Linda...you...you love her, right?"
I was grateful we were at a red light because he definitely would have slammed on the breaks and sent me through the windshield if we hadn't already stopped. He whipped his head to see me, his eyes searching and cloudy with disbelief.
"Are you serious?" I poked my finger into the hole in my jeans until I felt my skin.
I thought he'd be more offended, more indignant. He had a famously short temper and the tendency to be a bit of a drama queen when it was lit. Instead, he just seemed like he was caught off guard. And when he told me yes, it sounded more like he was trying to convince himself.
"I wouldn't be marrying her if I didn't, right?"
I breathed a quiet sigh. I knew that was what the answer would be. I just hoped it wouldn't.
"Right. Of course."
"Why do you ask?"
He was still looking at me and the car still wasn't moving, even though the light had long since been green.
"Why did you ask if I loved her? Do you doubt me or something?"
"Um, green light..."
"No, I need to know this." He still didn't sound angry, the way he did when I touched on the Linda subject last time. He just sounded curious.
"Dude, green light..."
"Fuck the green light. Why did you ask? Do you not think I love her?"
I could hear the horns and frustrated yells from mile-long line of cars behind us. He flipped them off and put the car in park. I cringed; we obviously weren't going anywhere until I said something.
I didn't want to lie. I really, really didn't want to lie. But I was running out of options.
"Hey, move it buddy! I've got ice cream in here!" A sweaty fat man screamed from the car behind us. He leaned out the window and turned back to face him.
"Hey, fuck you! We're doing something here!" He sat back in the car surprisingly calm and raised his eyebrows as a prompt for me to speak.
"It's not that I don't think you love her." I drawled, stalling. The shrieks and screeches were started to get to me so I sped up. "I just want you to be happy." There. I didn't have to lie.
I didn't understand why he looked disappointed when I said that. I thought he would be relieved. But I noticed the dying sheen in his eyes, the slight sag of his eyebrows.
"Oh." He said monotonously and he put the car in drive. "That's it?"
Of course that wasn't it, but I wasn't about to say otherwise. "That's it."
He turned away from me and didn't bother looking at me for the rest of the car ride, his glasses perched at the highest point on his nose.
I thought I would be able to handle myself when the time came, but I was wrong. As the dreaded day grew closer, I kept falling into my silent sadness. It got worse everyday. Every moment he was with her was a challenge to stay in the room. I had to have some kind of alcohol in my hand at all times, the buzz numbed me enough.
At the rehearsal that night, the rabbi joked and rushed through the run down of what would happen the next day. I sat with my respective party, sulking but trying not to look like it. The rabbi made another remark and everyone laughed, maybe about Linda being Protestant or something, I wasn't paying attention.
"Ok then." The rabbi said, rubbing his hands together. "Now we get to the good part. You'll say you love her, you'll say you love him, then I'll say, just for kicks, 'If anyone objects to these two tying the knot, speak now or forever hold your peace.'"
ME. I object. I don't want them to do this. I object, damn it!
"But of course no one's gonna say anything, so then you'll be pronounced man and wife, and bada bing! You're married!" I moaned and stared out the expansive window of the synagogue. "Now, I'm sure you kids don't need to practice kissing, but you may as well now, just in case."
He winked and Linda giggled. "Why not, pumpkin? Can't have too much practice!"
I left before I could see them do it.
I sat out on the curb at the end of the driveway, my head in my hands. I couldn't do this. I couldn't even look at them without feeling horrible. I wouldn't last a minute at the ceremony tomorrow. I felt sick at the thought of it...of him in his tux and her in her gown, and me standing beside them trying not to cry...
I heard him shout my name but I didn't look up. He stood over me, I bathed in his long black shadow.
"Are you all right? You just, like, left!"
I tried to say I'd be fine, but my stomach didn't agree and I lurched to the side, coughing and sputtering up everything I had eaten in the past two days. He'd seen me throw up enough, he wasn't even deterred by it anymore. He sat down next to me and brushed my hair out of my face, clipping it back the way he'd mastered after all our years. He knew it didn't do any good, but he still tried to soothe me by talking and being cute. Actually, it did help. A little.
I stopped vomiting but still felt too weak to shift my weight around, so he looped an arm over my shoulders and pulled me in to lean on him. He dabbed at the sweat that formed on my forehead with the sleeve of his shirt.
"Better?" He asked. I nodded, resting my glistening head against his. He made a comment about it being gross but didn't make me move. He wouldn't have even if he wanted to.
I heard the distinct sound of high heels against the pavement and Linda arrived to see what had happened. She must have seen me and the pool of puke splattered next to me because she gasped and asked if I was ok.
"Yeah, we're good." He replied, rubbed my arm affectionately. "This happens a lot." Linda stepped over the puddle (cringing) and cocked her head, looking at me sympathetically.
"If it's any help, I have some antacids in my purse. I can go get them-"
"Don't bother." I said, my voice now gravely and low. "Thank you though, but I'm fine." She folded her hands and rested them at the hem of her skirt.
"Are you sure? I'm a regular pharmacy."
"Lin, I've got this. Everyone's starving, why don't you start directing people to the restaurant for dinner? We'll catch up." She reluctantly agreed and squeezed my shoulder, saying she hoped I would feel better.
After she left I told him she was lovely. He smiled.
I almost threw up again.
It came. The day finally came, and I paced and mumbled to myself and struggled to keep everything down; emotionally or otherwise. I promised myself that I wouldn't let myself see him until I absolutely had to, because I might do something stupid. Instead, I hid in the coat room. It was a much better alternative.
Until he found me. He thought it was a joke and offered to come in with me, but I said no and said something about finding the rest of the party.
"Hold on, I need a favor." Before I could object (hah) he grabbed my arm and pulled me into his dressing room. He got dressed at his house so I wasn't really sure why he had one there, but I didn't bother to question. I entered and sat on an uncomfortable chair as the door clicked shut behind him. My hands were shaking and I stuffed them between my knees so he wouldn't see.
"Isn't it, like, bad luck to see the groom before the wedding?" I prayed he'd have a burst of superstition and force me out, but he giggled and fixed himself in the mirror.
"That's the bride. Now come over here, I have to ask you something." I obeyed, slumping over with my head down and my hair in my eyes. He brushed himself off and whirled to face me, his arms spread as wide as his grin. "How do I look?" I snorted at the question and looked him in the face.
"That's your big important question? I was doing important stuff in that coat room." He shook his head and the crimson spirals fell across his pale forehead.
"Listen, everyone's been telling me I look great just cause it's my wedding day. You're the only person who will tell me I look like shit. So? How do I look?"
I looked him up and down and, despite the ache in my chest, I smiled slightly. He looked fantastic; the tuxedo couldn't have been a better fit, and he had even managed to tame his hair...kinda. I looked him in the eyes, feeling that unbridled happiness reflect back and me.
And my heart shattered.
"You look good." I said, stepping in to sweep some dust off of his shoulders. "Real good." His tie was crooked, and I made fun of him as I unknotted it. "So you got those wedding jitters yet?" I asked as I looped the black string around itself. He shook his head.
"Not yet. I'm just excited, you know? I'm really lucky, I mean, with Linda."
I finished the tie but I didn't move my hands. I wanted to get out because I knew what was coming, but my heart wouldn't listen to the demands my brain was sending.
"No." I whispered, my fingers spreading so they grazed his shoulders. "She's the lucky one."
He felt him tense. This was it. This was the moment I'd been putting off for years. I had really crappy timing, though didn't I? My fingers developed lives of their own and slowly led one of my hands up his neck and into that adorable red jungle on his head. My eyes were still on the tie.
"...What are you doing?" He was nervous and quiet, and though he could have easily stopped me he didn't. I knew I'd never be able to say everything I wanted, and even if I did it would come out over dramatic and cliche.
So I locked eyes with him. And I kissed him.
And then I ran.
I wrote him a note on the back of a napkin that I found in the lobby. I tried to explain the best I could, but it's not an easy thing, especially since I just had to get out and ESPECIALLY because it was a napkin. I gave it to Kenny and told him what to do with it. He was confused, but when he saw how desperate I was he complied and pocketed it. Kenny was a good guy. He didn't ask questions when he knew he shouldn't.
I wound up on Dead Man's Hill, where we used to go sledding in the winter, with a bottle of whiskey I'd obtained somehow. I took another swig to smash down the growing guilt and sadness that was bubbling inside me. That was stupid. That was a really stupid thing to do. He'll probably tell his new wife, the wonderful, impeccable, unhateable Linda, and they'll laugh at my idiocy and sip apple martinis in Rio. Fuck.
I thought about the ceremony, how beautiful it was and how beautiful they were. Maybe someone fleetingly wondered about my absence but it won't matter much. All the focus will be on them as they clasp hands and grin stupidly and say I do. Yay yay yay.
I had another thought; the rabbi will ask Linda if she takes him, and she'll say yes right away. Then he'll turn to him and ask the same thing, but he won't answer. Linda will keep smiling as she gets a little more apprehensive. The rabbi will prompt him again, and when he doesn't respond again Linda will nudge him in the side and ask for his answer. And then he'll say no. And everyone will gasp at the shock and Linda will be too shocked to say anything, and he'll say no again and again, and then he'll start cackling and yelling no no no! And then he'll say he's sorry and he'll explode out of the synagogue and find me and we'll laugh at my idiocy and sip apple martinis in Rio.
That was mean, I don't have anything against Linda. Besides, I doubt he'll ever want to see me again anyway.
"You gonna finish that?"
I almost screamed at the sound, and I almost screamed again when I saw who it came from. He was here? He found me? I was too dumbfounded to say anything else, so I shoved the bottle into his hands and he plopped down in the grass with me. He put the rim to his lips and took a long drink, then he handed it back to me.
"...What are you doing here?" He wouldn't look at me. I don't blame him.
"Why the fuck do you think I'm here?" He hesitated and drank again to eat up more time. When he spoke again it wasn't as course, it was softer, kinder. "How long?" I sighed and wished I brought more to drink.
"Did you get my note?"
"What, from Kenny? Yeah, I got it. It didn't answer shit." I don't even remember what I wrote, but chances are it wasn't a good reflection of my feelings. I groaned and nestled my face in my knees. "So how long?"
"Too long." I answered, my voice obscured by my blocking legs. "Too long to even count."
"Is that why you were bagging on Linda?"
"All right, look, it's not that I hate Linda. I don't, I like her. I just-"
"-Love you. Jackass."
He fell back into the grass with an exhausted noise. I wasn't thinking when I did it. I just did it. I wasn't thinking about Linda, and how betrayed and disgusted she'd feel when she found out. I hadn't thought about our friendship being torn to ribbons. And babies. I didn't even think about babies. He loves babies, he wants to have like fifteen. I can't have babies. Linda can have tons of babies, she'll probably pop one out every year. She has so much to offer him; love, tenderness, a house, a car, nineteen or twenty pitterpatters of perfectly crafted little feet, holding up perfectly crafted little bodies. What did I have to offer?
A broken heart and a bottle of whiskey.
Oh. Tough call.
"I'm sorry." I say and he looks at me for the first time. He doesn't sit up by he turns his head. "I'm so, so sorry for all of this."
I had too much to drink. I had way too much to drink, because I started sobbing hysterically and I wasn't even bothering to hide it.
"I just-I didn't know what to do. I love you, you know? I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I'm such a fuck-tard. Please don't hate me. God, please say you don't-"
He threw his arms around me, pinning mine to my sides, and he hushed me gently as I ruined his jacket with my pathetic sobs.
"I don't hate you." He said when I stopped wailing and just let the tears stream down my face silently. He wiped them off with his demolished sleeve and smiled. "I can't hate you. It's kinda against the law."
"Listen to me, ok? You didn't fuck up. And even if you did, I'd still be here. Cause you can't get rid of me, no matter how much you might want to." I laughed, but it was hollow. "You'll always be my best friend, ok? No matter how much you fuck up."
I leaned into him and smiled, but it was short lived; he let me go and stood up. I stared at the empty bottle and hiccuped.
"You better get back to your wife." I murmured and he scratched the back of his head and hissed.
"Uh, yeah, funny thing about my wife..." I glanced up, confused. "She...kinda doesn't exist."
Now I felt really bad. "Oh God, I didn't-" He held up his palms to stop my apology.
"No, you didn't do anything. I did. I called it off."
He knelt to eye level with me, beaming like a jerk.
"Did you mean it when you said you wanted me to be happy?"
He pushed me over and laughed. Then with the most care, he lay on top of me, nuzzling his heart right over my thudding heart, and laced his fingers with mine.
"This makes me happy."
I couldn't even move. I couldn't even breathe. And it had nothing to do with his weight.
"Yeah. I guess."
"Have you always-"
"I dunno. Close though. I didn't say anything-"
"Cause you were scared?"
There was a lull between us, but it was welcome. I fingered his hair with my other hand, snickering to myself. I felt good. I felt so good, anything bad I'd felt over him was like a hellish nightmare that I'd just woken up from. I tugged at his hair, just enough so he would face me. I kissed him. And this time I didn't run.
When we broke he laughed.
"This has to be a new one." I chimed in, pressing my forehead against his.
"Totally. I mean, how often does the groom ditch his bride for the best man?"
It's supposed to be a big twist, at least when it's not all South Park-i-fied, but EVERYONE KNOWS IT'S STAN AND KYLE EEEEEK.
Ok, so here's what happened; I was trolling along deviantart, checking out all the kick ass SP art, ESPECIALLY the slash, and I was all like, 'Dag, I wish I could do this.' But then I was all like 'WAIT. I CAN ILLUSTRATE WITH WORDS!' And so I stayed up all night crafting this beauty. It's hella long, and I hate the ending, but I like it otherwise. It's my first SP fic, so I'm a little nervous. Tell me if ya like it and I'll write more! If not, I'll just take my insomnia and head back to Xiaolin Showdown where I belong. But MAN OH MAN (haha) do I love Stan and Kyle. They're getting married. It's great. Aw, put poor Linda. She was cute. Maybe Kenny will make out with her for a while. Anyway, please review! Hope you liked it!