Stan and Kyle had always been especially close. Closer than best friends, so close they'd had to make up their own separate category (name plagiarized from an obscure local crime fighting unit that went under when Muhammad signed an exclusive deal with Family Guy, Jesus died again, and Seaman went into rehab).
And by virtue of being Super Best Friends, they were not subject to scuffles similar to other friendships. Sure, they had small arguments, like over what to name a man frozen in ice (because this is, clearly, a more divisive issue than sex, religion, and politics all rolled into one), and of course there was the now-infamous week when Stan was "jealous because that whore Wendy was trying to steal my man." (Kyle's words, Stan is quick to comment, and stop telling people that, dude, it's not funny. No, really. It isn't. Stop snickering, asshole.) But those were minor things, really, and they made up in ways that referenced old TV shows and moved on.
They had their first real fight when they were sixteen.
One day while drinking smoothies with Cartman and Kenny in the mall the subject of gaiety came up, though looking back, none of them could have said how. The question was posed: "If you were gay-?", and that's as far as it got before Cartman loudly interrupted.
"Oh, hell no. Nothing good can come from that question."
"It's hypothetical, Cartman, mellow out." Stan said.
"You seem a little defensive, lardass," Kyle taunted, obviously amused.
"Screw you guys - wait, don't screw you guys... ugh. Never mind. I'm not playing your queer game. I'm going home." And he promptly did so.
They snickered and amused themselves with hypothetical scenarios of spice cabinets, matching outfits, and interior decorating nightmares, and were quite enjoying themselves until Kyle made an extremely offhanded comment about being on top.
"Whoa, wait, what? I would be on top! Hypothetically."
"Stan, come on. You are such a hypothetical bottom."
"I'd be pitcher," Stan insisted, "because I AM a pitcher."
"Whoop-de-fucking-do you can throw a baseball. So you don't have limp wrists. You'd still be the bottom. Hypothetically."
"You'd be the bitch - hypothetically - because you have a bitchier attitude!"
"So? Besides," Kyle said smugly, "I'm bigger."
"That is such a lie!"
"It is not!"
"Okay, that's where I draw the line," Kenny said, making a face, "I'm with Cartman on this one, guys. I'm going home."
Stan and Kyle watched Kenny walk off, and then they resumed facing each other, glaring a little.
"You are not bigger. And, anyway, you're short. That's the bottom-kiss-of-death."
"So what if I'm short? You're in drama! You prance around in tights!"
"I did that ONCE! And I had to, I was Oberon-"
"-the king of fairies."
Stan scowled at him. "So! It's Shakespeare! You... you wear tight pants!"
"Because I'm short and I'm a scrawny, diabetic Jew, and loose clothes make me look scrawnier than I already am and I'm tired of people asking if I'm anorexic!"
"Well, you have a nicer ass!"
"While true, that in no way validates your point!"
Stan fumed. "You know, Kyle, if you think I'd be on the bottom, then fuck you!"
"Fuck you!" Kyle barked. They both glowered at each other, and without another word they picked up their smoothies and stomped off to opposite ends of the mall.
And so commenced The Week in Which Stan and Kyle Refused to Speak to One Another. On the first day, anyone walking past the Broflovski residence would find Kyle throwing everything Stan had ever given him out his bedroom window into the snow. On the second day, if one found themselves in the Marsh's backyard, they would find Stan burning everything Kyle had ever given him and drinking generous amounts of coke until he stumbled inside in a caffeinated stupor and passed out on the couch.
It may seem stupid to some - well, okay, all - that two people would fight so bitterly over something that was actually a discussion of a hypothetical situation, but then, implying one took it up the ass was a fairly grievous insult among teenage boys (and, hell, full grown ones as well), and it was for this reason that Stan and Kyle were each acting like the other had set fire to the crops and stolen the family cow.
Cartman stayed out of it, if one counted taunting them both for taking it up the ass and saying "Told you so" at every possible interval as staying out of it.
Stan and Kyle soon resorted to talking through Kenny, which wasn't entirely productive, given the muffling effect of his hood. It reached the peak of 'This is an Annoying Hassle'-ness when the four of them went down to the food court to get some burgers and fries.
"Kenny," Stan said, "would you kindly tell the delusional asshole that some of us might like to have the ketchup sometime this century?"
"Kyle, man," Kenny said, "Pass the ketchup."
"First you can tell the unrivaled prick subject to outlandish misconceptions to stop hogging the salt."
"Stan, dude," Kenny said, "Pass the salt."
"Well you can tell the misinformed jackass that I'm only holding the salt hostage because he's hoarding the napkins. Also, his hat looks like an ass, for he is an asshat, and displays a level of asshattery unrivaled by any-"
"God damn it, that's it!" Kenny cried, slamming his hands down, "I am not going to be in the middle of this gay-"
"Hypothetically!" Stan and Kyle quickly interjected.
"-little fight you two are having anymore!"
"I will!" Cartman said eagerly, "Kyle, Stan says you're a heeb bastard and your hat is ugly."
"That's not what I said, Cartman!" Stan snapped.
"So what, I'm embellishing, shut up." Cartman said.
Kyle scowled. "Well you can tell Stan-"
"Hell no, I'm not delivering messages for you, Jew."
"Fine," Kyle said, "Then would you give Stan something for me?" he asked, and slugged Cartman in the face.
Stan and Kyle's initial anger ebbed and the first week became the second week, or, as some (Kenny) referred to it: The Week in Which Stan and Kyle Sat Around Their Houses Bemoaning Their Own Stupidity (Though They Each Thought They Were Bemoaning The Other's). Cartman felt that was stupidly, unnecessarily long, and he just referred to it as them both acting like the gay pussies they always were.
As Kenny was not the unholy, uncaring asshole that Cartman was, he was worried about them. On the Friday that marked the end of two weeks without speaking to one another, Kenny pulled Cartman off to the side during lunch. Kenny occupied him with a pudding cup so that he would sit still while he proposed they pull Kyle and Stan out of their current slump.
Cartman's response was predictable.
"Hell no, I'm not helping those assholes, I like it when they fight. They're both miserable and I didn't even have to do anything to them to make them that way."
Kenny was prepared for this sort of resistance.
"Cartman, if you don't help, I'm going to post pictures of you in drag all over school."
Cartman snorted. "Go ahead. It's not like nobody's seen that before."
Kenny frowned. "Then I'll post naked pictures-"
"Again, feel free."
"God damn it why do you always have to parade around like a freak?" Kenny swore. "Fine, I'll pay you."
"You don't have any money."
"Cartman, damn it, just do it! We've all been friends for more than ten years - don't you think it's about time you stopped all this immature hostility?"
"Stop?" Cartman repeated, snorting, "I'd always planned to have my immature hostility increase exponentially every year until I'm enough of a twisted asshole to become a senator, at which point I'd start pushing some anti-Stan-and-Kyle legislation... God I hate those guys so much..."
"Ugh," Kenny said, rubbing his forehead, "Look, I'll even take Kyle!"
"That's getting off easy and you know it! Stan's a way bigger pussy about these things."
"Fine, I'll take Stan, and you deal with Kyle-"
"Fuck no, I hate Kyle."
"UGH," Kenny said, "Then take Stan!"
"I hate Stan, too!"
"But you hate Kyle more, right?"
"Of course," Cartman said.
"Well, right now Stan's plenty pissed at Kyle, so think of this as your chance for the two of you to badmouth him together."
"... Hmm," Cartman said, rubbing his chin, "That is a good point..."
"So you'll do it?" Kenny asked.
"Give me another pudding cup and I'll consider it."
Kenny left for Kyle's house early Saturday morning, assuming Cartman was doing the same for Stan's. When he knocked on the Broflovski's door, Sheila answered it with an indignant "What took you so long!" and all but threw him up the stairs. Kenny picked himself off the top step, rubbed his forehead where he'd hit it against the railing, and made his way to Kyle's room contemplating what an entitlement whore Mrs. Broflovski was. As if it was his job to scrap her son out of bed...
"Yo, man!" he said loudly, banging the door open, "Up and at 'em."
The blob of blankets on Kyle's bed just grunted and rolled over. Kenny surveyed the room. The blinds were pulled down, the lights were off, his floor was littered with candy bar wrappers, and his CD player was had Bon Jovi's You Give Love a Bad Name on repeat. Kenny sighed.
"Okay, Kyle, this is an unacceptable level of pathetic. Get out of bed."
Well, at least he was talking, Kenny supposed. He switched the CD player off and yanked the blinds up, throwing the sun directly into Kyle's face. Kyle responded by groaning and cramming his pillow down on his head. "Leave me alone to die," he mumbled into his mattress.
Kenny rolled his eyes. "C'mon, Kyle." Silence. "Kyle, this isn't healthy. Just because Stan is a dumb ass is no reason for you to mope around." More silence. "Kyle, if you don't get out of bed, I'm going to have to drag you out." Defiant silence. Kenny sighed and rolled up his sleeves.
What ensued was an epic battle, the magnificence of which would be compromised if one tried to describe it. Somehow, despite Kenny being stereotypically Irish and Kyle being stereotypically Jewish, Kyle managed to put Kenny in a headlock.
"Oh, GOD!" Kenny gagged, "Your pits stink, man; when was the last time you took a shower?"
Kyle considered this. "A week or so..."
"Over a week? Dude, I'm dirt poor, but at least I take a shower every few days!"
"What's the point. Stan isn't around to smell me," Kyle said morosely.
"What, did he make it a habit to smell you periodically?" Kenny said, making a face and squirming free. "You're taking a shower, dude."
"No, I'm not. I'm kicking you out, then I'm going to go back to bed."
Kenny seized him by the arms and dragged him to the bathroom. As Kyle had already expended all of his stored energy putting Kenny in a headlock, the only resistance he was able to give resembled that of an aggravated kitten. Kenny shoved him inside the bathroom and locked the door, throwing his weight against it as Kyle pounded on it. "Let me the fuck out of here, asshole! I just want to listen to Bon Jovi and silently curse Stan for being so difficult!"
"I'm not letting you out until you take a shower and change your clothes," Kenny called through the door, "And you say Stan's being difficult..."
"Fine," Kyle snapped, "I'll just crawl out through the window."
"You can't fit through the window."
"Correction: you can't fit through the window. I'm a diabetic Jew."
"... Dear Lord he's right," Kenny cursed, turning around and throwing open the door. But instead of seeing Kyle hanging half out of the window as he'd expected, he saw him standing in front of the mirror, holding a toothbrush and giving it a most dejected look.
Kenny leaned against the door frame. "I'm almost afraid to ask," he said with a resigned sigh, "What's wrong with the toothbrush, Kyle?"
"It's Stan's." Kyle sniffled.
"... And why do you have Stan's toothbrush?"
"Well, we spend the night at each other's houses so often we figured it would just be easier if we kept toothbrushes at each other's houses." Kyle explained.
"... God damn you two are so fucking gay."
"HYPOTHETICALLY!" Kyle snapped, chucking the toothbrush at Kenny's head. Kenny ducked, pushed Kyle backwards into the shower, and twisted the knob on while Kyle sputtered.
"Asshole! The water's freezing and I'm still wearing my clothes!"
"Well, if you don't want to shower my way, then shower your way! Just take a God damn shower!"
"Fine!" Kyle said, scowling and crossing his arms as the cold water soaked his clothes. "Then get the hell out, I'm not stripping in front of you."
Kenny got the hell out, returned to the depressing den that was Kyle's room to fetch some clothes for him, then came back to the bathroom. The water was still running, so Kyle had either stopped fighting and was taking a shower, or he'd left the water running to trick him, wiggled out the window, and was currently running around in the snow in wet clothes.
"Hey, man, I'm leaving clean clothes by the door," he called, rapping on the door. He listened intently for a response, hearing an acknowledging grunt. Good. So Kyle wasn't jumping directly into stupid, reckless things just because Stan wasn't around to say, "Maybe running around in the snow when you're wet is a bad idea. Ya'know. Just sayin'."
"Hey, when was the last time you had something to eat?" Kenny said as it occurred to him. "And I mean real food, not candy bars."
"I dunno..." Kyle mumbled.
"Dude, how can you not know?" Kenny demanded. "Christ, you're going to put yourself in the hospital, aren't diabetics supposed to know this stuff? That does it - after your shower I'm taking you down to the food court in the mall."
A real staple of Stan and Kyle's super best friendship had always been that Stan went out of his way to bend over backwards for Kyle. But the one thing that kept Stan from being completely pathetic was that he didn't actually need Kyle. He had a finely honed bullshit detector and more common sense than the rest of South Park put together, so he could function just fine without Kyle. Kyle, on the other hand, was your common, stupid, reckless teenage boy, and he did stupid, reckless things, though they did tend to be uncommon. And if he didn't have Stan, he would have been most assuredly dead a dozen times over.
So Cartman had actually lucked out. Because while Kyle was a quivering mass of unwashed, famished toothbrush angst who just wanted Stan to admit he would hypothetically be on bottom if they were hypothetically boyfriends so they could make up and go back to being super best friends, Stan was sitting at his desk doing his homework when Cartman barged into his room.
Cartman immediately took doing one's school duties as a sign of deep-seated depression and, being the good friend that he was, decided to help Stan by chucking his history book out the window.
"HEY! Cartman! What the hell!" Stan yelped, twisting around in his seat.
"I'm here to cheer you up," Cartman informed him, "Feel better yet?"
"You just threw my history book out the window! Of course I'm not feeling better!"
"All right," Cartman said, picking up his math book and starting toward the window. Stan jumped out of his chair and quickly got into a tug-of-war over the book, until Cartman suddenly released his grip on it and Stan went stumbling backwards into his bed.
"C'mon, man, let's go outside and taunt some hobos with money."
"I'm not leaving my room ever again." Stan growled, picking himself off the bed and crossing his arms.
"Don't be stupid, you'll leave it to shit. Well. Hopefully."
"Cartman, God damn it-"
"Stop sulking up here while doing-" Cartman swiped a paper from his desk and looked at it to see what sort of homework he was doing, arching an eyebrow at what he saw. Stan ripped the page from his hand, fuming, as Cartman gave him a look. "How exactly is writing Kyle's name all over a piece of binder paper and drawing stick figures of you two homework?"
"I WAS doing my homework! I was... just... taking a little break... Oh, fuck you, Cartman!" Stan snarled, turning a little red.
Cartman snorted. "Stan, get over it. The less contact you have with the Jew, the better it'll be for your health. And I'm sure there are plenty of guys out there with Napoleon complexes who'd love to be your super best friend."
"I don't want anyone else." Stan grumbled.
"Look, let's go to the mall. You can tell me what an asshole Kyle is, I promise to lend a sympathetic ear."
"I don't want to talk about Kyle," Stan growled, picking himself off the bed and crossing his arms.
"All right, then you can just listen while I tell you what an asshole Kyle is-"
"I don't even want to think about him, all right? I just want to do my homework!"
"You're worse than I thought," Cartman said, "You want to do homework? The strain of losing your faggy Jew of a friend is making you crack up. Put on your shoes, we're going to the mall."
"I don't want-"
"I wasn't asking, asshole. I am going to cheer you up, God damn it, so put on your shoes before I kick you in the nuts."
They wandered up and down the mall, Stan a step behind Cartman, as Cartman gave him an incredibly long list of reasons as to why Kyle was a Jew bastard, but if he was going to turn into a homework-obsessed head case because of Kyle's absence, then he should just go make up with him.
"Stan, this is a stupid - though incredibly entertaining - fight. I mean, sure, you're about five times the pussy Kyle is, but Kyle's a Jew, and it's illegal for Jews to be on top. Circumcised cock isn't allowed to pound ass. Kyle's too much of a wuss to break the law, so just get over it and-" Cartman broke off, realizing he was alone. He looked to either side of himself, and then he looked behind. Stan was several stores down, pressed up against a window with a heartbroken expression.
Cartman stormed over. Stan had been behaving so far; he should have known it was too good to last. And while Stan didn't fall apart the way Kyle did, his whining more than made up for it.
He scowled at Stan, he scowled inside the window, he scowled up at the store name - Big Bob's Big Store of Russian Hats. "God fucking damn it," he swore. "Who the hell wakes up one morning and decides they want to build an ushanka store?"
"Kyle wears an ushanka," Stan sobbed.
"Wow, really?" Cartman said sarcastically, rolling his eyes. "Thank you for that, I'd never noticed."
"It's green," Stan continued in the same tone.
"Stan, God damn it, your misery is a lot more fun when you aren't subjecting me to it."
"Green like... other green things," he said sadly.
"That's pure poetry, that," Cartman said, still going heavy on the sarcasm as he tried to pry Stan off of the window.
"Curse you, Kyle Broflovski!" Stan cried with sudden dramatic flair, sweeping his arms out on either side of himself and conking Cartman in the head. "I'll never be able to eat green things now without thinking about you! You've ruined green beans for me, jackass!"
"That's it," Cartman growled, massaging his temple, "I need a drink. We're going to the orange smoothie cart."
"I don't want a smoothie. That's where... IT happened."
"Well, too bad, asshole. I don't want you to breathe anymore. We can't all get what we want."
As foreseeable coincidence would have it, Stan and Cartman arrived at the food court at the same time that Kyle and Kenny did. They both froze and stared at each other. The tension in the air was nearly enough to kill Kenny; in fact, he coughed a few times and rubbed his throat. Then Kyle finally burst out, "You would hypothetically be my bitch!"
"You would be my hypothetical slave boy!" Stan snarled.
Then they both stomped in opposite directions, banging shoulders as they went.
"This is so stupid," Cartman said to a nodding Kenny, "Just because Kyle can't admit that he would take it up the ass-"
"What?" Kenny said, making a face at him, "Stan would be the one taking it up the ass."
"Damn it, how many times do I have to say this? White people always top minorities, because white people are better."
"... That has got to be one of the most racist things I have ever heard you say," Kenny said, shaking his head in offended amazement, "And anyway, it's not a guy's appearance that determines how he likes it in the bedroom, it's his personality. Animal lovers want backdoor love. They just do."
"That is such a load of crap!"
"You're a load of crap!"
They glared at each other for a while, until Kenny frowned to himself.
"... Let's not discuss this."
"Good idea." Cartman agreed.
"Let's go to the arcade and play a violent video game, and scope out chicks, and do other manly things while we're not discussing this."
"Great idea." Cartman concurred. "You're buying."
On the following Monday, Stan and Kyle marched up to each other in the halls, scowling.
"I," Kyle said, pointing a very dramatic finger at Stan's chest, "am so fucking tired of putting up with you!"
"Well, I am so God damn sick of your shit!" Stan said, with an equally dramatic arm motion.
"I'll show you that I wouldn't be the one on the bottom!" Kyle snarled.
"I'll show you that I wouldn't be the one getting boned!" Stan shouted.
Kyle seized Stan by the front of his shirt and dragged him to a conveniently located and unoccupied janitor's closet. Stan shoved Kyle inside and locked the door, and they both attacked each other with the sort of passion you can only get when you take a lifelong super best friendship, make them fight over a hypothetical situation, have them snip at each other for a week, mourn each other for another week, then call each other out in front of their classmates, school administrators, and one very traumatized janitor.
They then proceeded to give each other blowjobs, thus resolving nothing but still having some extremely hot angry/make-up sex. And that was really the important part, after all.