Title: Nothing Compares

Author: Cszemis

Rating: T

Summary: His fingers traced over the shadow of Stan. "When we are dead and gone nobody will care about these pictures. No one will remember how happy we were. How much it all meant." How much he meant to me…

Well, I'm not happy. Not really. I didn't post this one shot for so long because IndianaBeachBum did the unthinkable in Fighting The Truth while I was writing this so many months ago. And now since I'm still kind of in the middle of this depression I thought I might as well post this since I won't be updating any fics for a while. Not that it matters.

If soul mates do exist, your humble author asks why it must be the case that there must be some form of romance involved. Why is this so? Why must the heart flutter, why kisses? Surely a soul mate is something beyond flesh and attraction. Surely it is something on a higher level of existence, two souls connected like identical twins. A soul mate knows your heart but does not need to expect anything from it. A soul mate finishes your sentences because they know exactly what you are thinking, and further more their line of thinking is exactly the same. You do not need to agree on petty little material things, but you agree on everything else, the best memories, and your favourite hang-outs, why it is necessary for the other to keep breathing.

You are crazy about one another.

You can call them late in night if you cannot sleep and your soul mate will listen with practised patience and a certain fondness as you express all your woes. They always make things seem better; always bring a smile to your face. They know the right thing to say. They are there in an instant if you become distressed. They are the only person in your life that drops everything to get to your side. They drop their jobs, their loves, their addictions, even the world to be with you. And when they appear the burden of life becomes so much lighter. They steady you and put you back on your path, one shoulder taking half of your burdens.

And yet so many are unaware that such a person exists in their life.

Too many look for a soul mate in romance. But more often than not the soul mate does not exist there. The soul mate is the sister who baby sits your kids at a moments notice or the father that always asks for your opinion even if it is not your place to give it. It is the neighbour that restocks your fridge if you do not have the time to do it yourself.

It is your best friend.

When they are not thinking about themselves your best friend thinks of you. Perhaps it is almost a psychic connection. How else would you explain why the phone rings moments before you were going to call that person? They know you.

They know you. Heart, mind and soul. And you are not aware of it but you know them too. You always get the birthday present that they really wanted and they always laugh the hardest at your jokes.

And despite Eric Cartman's wishes his oh-so-special person was not Kyle or Stan or even Kenny. But this story is not about Cartman's soul mate. This story is about Kyle and his special person. Stan and Kyle. Best Friends Forever. It is about Stan Marsh and the hole he leaves in the world after he is gone.

Most people hope to spend their whole life with their soul mate. Stan and Kyle had only thirteen years.

"I don't want to talk."

"Kyle, please," Gerald Broflovski stood nervously in the doorway of his son's room," Come downstairs. Eat something."

"I'm not hungry."

"Kyle you have to eat something," Sheila said in as soothing a tone as she could make without sounding horribly fake.

Kyle was sitting on the floor beside his bed, facing towards the door. His room was pitch black and had been for days. The light pouring in from the hall illuminated his sneakers and the frayed bottom of his jeans. The rest of his torso was still in darkness but his eyes were lit up like a cat's, squinting against the light.

"Shut the door," his voice was cold and it grated against his mother's heart," or I'll shut it for you."

"Kyle!" Gerald began to get a little cross, putting a hand on his wife's shoulder. "Stan would not have wanted this. For you to sit moping in your room, not eating, being disrespectful to your mother."

Leaning against the bed with one hand Kyle pulled himself slowly to his feet, the light playing against his wavy red hair that fell about his face. Sheila was about to breathe a sigh of relief when Kyle took two steps towards the door and slammed it in his parents faces. Mrs Broflovski let out a little sob in the back of her throat as Gerald began to pound the wood with his fists.

"Kyle Broflovski! You open this door right this instant mister!" his father tried to push the errant door open but his errant son had his shoulder and his whole weight disobeying his command.

Sheila backed off a little, tears in her eyes, her hands wringing against one another as she fled downstairs.

"Kyle! Open this goddamn door!"

"LEAVE ME ALONE!" was the reply.


"FUCKING LEAVE ME ALONE! DO YOU HEAR ME? I SAID FUCKING LEAVE ME ALONE!" Kyle screeched, his screams shaking the whole house.

Little Ike, eleven years old, sat on the sofa downstairs, listening to the awful screams. With tearful eyes he watched his mother escape into the safety of the kitchen but he remained on the sofa, as quiet as a mouse and as undetectable. You could not even hear him breathing in case it set someone off. His funeral clothes were still perfectly neat, the wind had not messed his hair. The only imperfection in him was the occasional shiver as Kyle raved upstairs.

"Fuck off! Leave me alone!" Kyle shuddered, still leaning against his door, his throat and eyes burning with grief. His father had stopped hitting the door but Kyle still pushed against it with all that he had, trying to keep the whole world out.

Eventually his strength began to wear out and he broke into anguished sobs, sliding down the side of the door.

"Leave me alone," he gasped in between sobs.

He could no longer hear anything from outside. He put his back against the door and pulled his knees into his chest. Chanting that he wanted to be left alone, he banged the back of his head repeatedly against the door. He did not know if he could see anything because of his tears or because the room was so dark.

After his head began to throb painfully he placed it in between his raised knees, his pants quickly becoming soaked with his tears. After the funeral he could not bear to wear his suit and had changed into jeans and one of Stan's old t-shirts that he had left once and never picked up.

After a few moments he heard his father head down the stairs. He had forgotten that he was there and for a moment was ashamed that his father had heard him cry.

His father did not understand. No one did. Kyle felt like he had been torn to shreds, each a memory of him and Stan, each infinitely happier than he was now.

Stan's smile. Stan's laugh. The way his cheeks went he was embarrassed. The way he panicked and threw up over Wendy. The roll of his eyes. The way he rocked out to his favourite music. Stan and Kyle just sitting chatting about everything and nothing. Sitting in silence because they did not necessarily need to talk. The way he argued. Studying together. The way he was everything. The way he was Kyle's best friend.

No one knew how much it hurt to be torn like this. He would not heal. There was no way he could. He did not have the heart or the strength to do so.

In the early hours of the morning he called Wendy. He knew she'd still be awake. Neither of them would be able to sleep for a while.

"Hey K-Kyle," she sniffled down the phone.

"You doing alright?"

"As well as I can be really," sniff sniff, "why you calling me for?"

"I wanted to say thanks for the nice stuff you said at the funeral. Your poem was really beautiful. It meant an awful lot to me."

Wendy warmed a little bit. "Ah well of course I would say something nice. I thought your speech was brilliant. You were so right. Everyone did like Stan. Who couldn't?"

Kyle fidgeted a little with the phone.

"You getting hassle from your parents?"

"No, why should I?" Wendy asked.

"No reason," Kyle muttered, feeling a surge of hatred for her and not really understanding why. So, her parents did not try to force feed her. That did not make her a bad person.

Stan and Wendy were one of those typical off-and-on-again couples that dated through high school. You knew it probably would never have worked out. Wendy was too dominating to be Stan Marsh's wife. But in every yearbook you saw their picture together, her arm around Stan's waist, Kyle on the other side. Cartman next and then Kenny. They were the most important people in Stan's life. Cartman and Kenny were not entirely counted as being the closest to Stan. Wendy was of course but Kyle always thought of himself as being closest to him, the most important person in Stan's little group of friends. Maybe it was because the guys did not particularly care for Wendy and bitched about her that she appeared lower in Kyle's ladder of importance than he was. But she had still mattered an awful lot to Stan.

So Kyle told her so.

Wendy burst into tears when she heard that Stan did love her an awful lot. She did not know that Kyle thought that Stan loved him more but it meant the world to her to hear how much she was valued.

"I loved him too," she sobbed," I loved him so much."

"I'm sorry Wendy. I'm truly sorry."

"It wasn't your fault Kyle. It was an accident. They happen. He was a hero."

"I could have saved him."

Wendy did not reply. All Kyle could hear was her sobs before she clicked off the connection. He lay there blankly on his covers just listening to the dial tone.

Eventually a little recorded voice interrupted that sad dial tone.

"I'm sorry but the line has been disconnected. Please try again later…"

Ike had wanted to go skating.

Kyle and Ike usually went ice skating every Sunday. It had become a routine. Stan, Kenny and Cartman would be at Mass and Kyle and Ike would head down to Stark's Pond to skate, theirs the only blades slicing through the ice. Ike never admitted it but it was one of his favourite times of the week. He rarely got his older brother's complete attention and that morning he was rather furious that his older brother had slept in.

Once the others were finished at Mass, Kyle's attention would once again be directed towards Stan and the others. Stan was like an older brother to him as well but perhaps it was selfishness that had Ike almost throw a tantrum, literally tearing Kyle out of the bed. When Kyle yelled back and threw Ike out of his room, the young boy went in a mood, slamming doors and stamping up and down the stairs. Kyle had stayed up late the previous evening doing an essay. He usually drew the line at writing essays on a Saturday night but the essay was worth twenty percent of his English grade and he knew that he would get some peace and quiet once his friends went out to a movie. Sheila Broflovski finally got fed up of Ike's mood and forced Kyle to get up.

Half asleep- bags under his eyes- Kyle threw on a pair of baggy jeans and a green shirt. When he finally stumbled down the stairs Ike was waiting at the bottom, sitting on the steps, holding the ice skates. He gave his older brother an apologetic smile, half ashamed of how he had behaved and half pleased that once again he was going to get to spend time with Kyle.

"Could you at least let me get a coffee Ike?" Kyle muttered at his adopted little brother, pushing past him on the stairs.

Ike sighed, clutching the skates a little tighter to his chest. His eyes lifted towards the clock on the hall, the long hands signalling that Mass was nearly over and soon Kyle's troupe of friends would be there to take him away again. He silently raged against the unfairness of it all. Sunday belonged to him and Kyle. No one else.

Kyle had two cups of coffee. Not just one. And he had a banana, sitting stubbornly at the kitchen table, irritated by the fact that his little brother always got his way. He only left when his mother called in from the living room.

"Aren't you away yet Kyle?"

"I'm heading out the door right now, Ma."

"Well ok, you boys have fun. And make sure Ike stays wrapped up and warm."

Kyle mimicked his mother's nagging where she could not see him but Ike saw, narrowing his eyes at his big brother. Kyle threw on his thick green parka, tying an orange scarf around his neck. It clashed but he did not particularly care.

"We're going to get Stan," Kyle told Ike as they headed out the door.

"What? Why?!" Ike exclaimed.

"Because you've been a pain in the ass this morning and I need someone to make sure I don't push you under the ice."

"You're not being very nice today. Why are you being such a son of a bitch Kyle?"

"Well unlike you I spent most of last night doing an essay, as you bloody well knew. I wanted to sleep in but I couldn't because of my immature little brother's whining. And I'm going to tell Mom that you called her a bitch."

"You are not!"

"Am too!"

The brothers were still bickering when they reached the Marsh home. The car was in the driveway, the tyre tracks were fresh. They obviously had just got home from the church. Stan was inside playing with his dog Sparky. The dog was very old and almost blind but he was like a puppy with Stan, jumping after the tennis ball that he threw. Kyle could hear Stan's mom yelling at him not to throw balls in the house. But Sparky was perfectly content with his master, trying to jump up on the sofa beside him before Stan threw the ball. Kyle and Ike watched for a moment at the window then Kyle lightly rapped on the glass.

Stan looked up from Sparky, about to throw the ball again but when he saw Kyle his face lit up and he ran over to the window. Sparky followed, annoyed that his game was over. Stan opened the window

"Hey dude, me and the midget are going ice skating, you wanna come with?"

"Yeah sure, just let me get my skates," Stan nudged Sparky away from the window.

Stan disappeared and he ran upstairs to get his ice skates. Two seconds later he was racing back down, making one hell of a racket.

"Stanley! Do you want a hammer?" Randy did not look up from his newspaper.

Stan did not answer. He bundled himself up from the cold and was outside before anyone could open their mouth to stop him. Sparky started whining pitifully, his paws scratching against the door. When Stan did not come back he started to howl. The boys could hear Sparky howling half way down the street. The mournful sound made Stan hesitate and look back towards the house.

"Maybe I should bring him with us."

"Nah dude, dogs can't ice skate. It'd be too dangerous with his eyesight."

"Yeah you're right Kyle," Stan stood just looking towards his home, "I wouldn't want anything to happen to him."

It did not take them long to get to Stark's Pond. Kyle wandered out onto the ice when he was the first to finish putting on his skates. He tested his weight on the frozen water.

"Hey guys, I wouldn't go so far out today. Doesn't feel right."

"Ice thin dude?"

"Kinda," Kyle edged slowly back towards the edges of the pond, "Ike, don't go far out or you'll be in big trouble."

"Stop telling me what to do Kyle!" the eleven year old frowned at his brother.

"Yeah Kyle," Stan smirked and knocked off Ike's hat playfully, "Leave the midget alone."

Stan was next to make his way out onto the ice. The two friends began racing each other around the edge of the pond while Ike struggled with his straps on his skates.

Stan began to beat Kyle, soaring out in front of his friend. His hat flew off as he went faster and faster. Kyle moved slower and kept stopping every time he felt the ice shift a little under his weight. Eventually Ike too made his way out onto the ice, his skates half done up.

"Kyle, there's a knot in my laces. I can't do them up."

"Oh for the love of Moses," Kyle slid to a stop, "Do I have to do everything for you Ike?"

"But there's a big knot!"

"Ike! Why do you keep pissing me off today?"

"You're the one being an asshole!" Ike stopped on the ice and bent over to try and undo the big knot.

"Guys quit fighting," Stan said as he skirted along the edges of the ice, whizzing past Kyle and Ike and around again.

"He's been a big baby all day," Kyle took off after his best friend.

Ike struggled with his lace and tried to sit down on the ice.

Inwardly he raged at how unfair Kyle was being. It took him several minutes to undo the knot. He ended up having to take off his gloves and the cold nipped at his fingers. There were tears stinging his eyes when he finally managed to do up his laces. He wiped them away with one of his gloves.

"Damn you Kyle."

Ike pulled himself back onto his feet, sighing with satisfaction that his skates were finally on tight.

Then he fell.

One of his skates moved against his will and his arms scissored through the air as he tried to keep his balance. His other skate started to slide against the surface of the ice and Ike found himself falling backwards. He expected to hit the ice with a hard thump on the ass. His heart almost stopped when the ice gave way under the impact and his body plunged into the icy water.

Kyle's heart too almost stopped when he heard Ike let out an awful shriek, and he turned around just in time to see his little form disappearing under the ice.

"IKE!" Kyle screamed.

The older boys flew across the ice faster than a speeding bullet but to Kyle it took forever to reach the hole in the ice. Kyle lay down on the cracking ice beside the hole and tried to grab a hold of Ike. Ike let out a horrible scream every time he surfaced, the icy water stabbing him all over his body. He kicked and screamed against the attack. Kyle struggled to keep a hold of Ike's jacket.

"Ike, come on buddy, Kyle's here."

Ike surfaced again and for a moment his features seemed blue. When he dropped below the water again Ike's coat was stripped from his body and Kyle lost his hold on his little brother.

"Ike!" Kyle reached into the dark water, feeling for his brother. Looking down he saw his little brother's fingers try to grip the ice below him. Ike was now under the ice.

"Holy shit! Holy shit!"

Stan's skates only had clasps holding the foot in place and within moments his skates were off. Stan looked into the water and then at Kyle. Kyle was not thinking clear enough for this but Stan was. Looking back into the depths he knew what he had to do.

"Stan!" Kyle's heart struggled to beat in his chest. But before Kyle could do anything, Stan had slipped into the dark water. Kyle's best friend disappeared into the blackness.

You would have thought that Kyle and Cartman were destined to be enemies, forever throwing insults back and forth in some battle for supremacy, but looking through all the pictures it turned out that the hatred was merely accidental.

You would never have imagined that they were raised to be best friends. Liane Cartman and Sheila Broflovski were friends for whatever reason they had and it was an odd friendship between a complete whore and over dominating, temperamental woman. But friends they were and many happy hours were spent discussing their infant sons over coffee.

Perhaps Kyle and Cartman simply spent too much time with each other and were sick of the sight of each other. Nearly everyday Liane Cartman pushed little Eric proudly in his buggie over to the Broflovski home after Sheila's husband, Gerald had left for work. She would pull his little form out of his restraints and place him on the carpet next to little Kyle who would grin toothlessly at the new arrivals.

For hours they would play with blocks and other stuffed toys. Cartman was particularly attached to his teddies and for his third birthday, Sheila gave him a little green frog which the toddler loved instantly. He carried Clyde Frog with him everywhere as the two learned to talk and walk within days of each other.

The boys had a problem pronouncing each others names, Eric calling for his "Kahl" to always wait for him and his little friend barking at "Ric" to hurry up. Sheila would tell Kyle off for running ahead of Eric and would fuss about whether Liane was giving her son too much food.

"He won't eat his mushed carrots, Sheila. He's so fussy; my little poopsiekins will only eat his Crème Caramel."

Occasionally, Cartman would protest against visiting his friend "Kahl's" house as the mom there always wanted him to eat yucky stuff. Liane would sneak some of her own food over to the house and would tempt her son with chocolate. She explained that Clyde Frog wanted to visit Kyle and Clyde Frog simply could not go on his own. Then with Clyde Frog held tightly in his arms, little Cartman began to walk with his mother over to the Broflovski home, recognising all the houses and individual gardens like famous landmarks. Even to this day, Cartman probably knew the way to Kyle's house better than the way to his own.

Sheila had collected all of the boys' crayon drawings and had stored them in chronological order, boasting about how their talents were becoming clearer over the months, how Kyle discovered new colours and Cartman discovered staying inside the lines. Sometimes the women did compare the two, perhaps unfairly as both boys had tempers and often had tantrums. But both boys were also very intelligent and Sheila campaigned for them to be accepted early into preschool. The boys however had to wait till they should have naturally entered pre-school because for all their intelligence Cartman had a short attention span and Kyle was simply too shy and quiet.

You might have thought that perhaps the discovery of religion might have set them on the path to hatred but that simply was not the case. The first time anything God-related happened was when Cartman questioned Gerald about his Jewish cap.

It was about Christmas time and Liane invited the Broflovski's over for dinner in return for being invited to celebrate some of Hanukkah with them. Liane caught on tape little Eric asking about the cap, what a Jew was and why Kyle was one too. He didn't quite understand it but he ran up to his mother and looked up into the lens.

"Am I a Jew, Mommy?"

Liane had stiffened and her voice was maybe a little harder than it should have been.

"No. You are a Christian sweetie."

Over time the boys learned about their separate religions and discussed how boring they were. They learned about Rabbi's and Father's and how boring they were talking forever and ever about stuff that did not make sense. Cartman told Kyle he should come to church so they could have fun and Kyle said that there should be a place where everyone should go to for God stuff, not being separated. If such a thing existed then the boys would have got into trouble often for playing in the pews instead of listening to the holy man.

What was the catalyst for all this hatred was the arrival of a new family in South Park. The father, Randy Marsh, was looking to escape his past; the fame of being in a faggy boy band did not simply go away. He was hoping to escape his former fans by moving to a town full of hicks that knew nothing.

Sharon Marsh visited the Cartman's in order to introduce herself and after hearing that Liane had a son the same age she brought little Stanley with her. Stan was the height of nonsense, quite small and seemingly shy. He half hid behind his mother's leg when he was introduced to Eric and Kyle.

It was actually one of Kyle's earliest memories, lying on the floor on his stomach to draw and looking up from his crayons to meet the shy blue eyes. If love could exist from first sight, it was surely feasible for friendship to exist from a mere glance. The boys grinned at each other in a way that Eric did not quite like and from then on his behaviour became more temperamental than before.

Sharon had brought Stan to meet Eric, not Kyle and yet within minutes the two were side by side on the carpet, Kyle sharing his crayons and paper with his new friend. Eric shared too, but as he did so after Kyle it was hardly noticed. Eric was filled with an anger he could not quite understand and sometimes even lashed out when the other two accidentally left him out of games or ran ahead of him. When Kyle was not there however, Eric tried his best to be friends with Stan as well but he felt extremely lonely and angry now that Kyle seemed only to have eyes for Stan.

And it was true that in some ways Stan was the better friend than Eric. Kyle was very particular about his toys and while Cartman was prone to throw things and break them, Stan tended to the toys ever so carefully. Stan never broke any of Kyle's things and always put them back where he found them. It was the highest form of politics for a four year old, the agreement about what toys could be shared and why. Stan got whatever he wanted from Kyle's toy box, Cartman however was limited.

Cartman often boasted that he had no need for friends; that he was perfectly happy playing with himself. But such an existence is incredibly lonely and young Eric was perhaps the loneliest child on the face of the earth. His best friend had left him for another.

When the boys reached pre-school, the troupe of four was finally realised when Stan introduced the other two boys to Kenny, a poor blonde boy whose clothes were scruffy and unkempt. Many parents gave Kenny sympathetic glances and little sweeties if they saw him when they picked up their own children from pre-school. Cartman realised that Kenny was therefore a source of free chocolates and other treats and began to hang around the fragile little boy. Missing his old friendship with Kyle terribly, Cartman persuaded, cajoled, pressured Kenny into believing that they were friends too. Kenny did not necessarily mind because it was always nice to have new friends. Kenny did not really have toys to play with and Liane Cartman was always providing her son with new toys so Kenny similarly realised that Eric was a suitable play mate as well.

I'm very sad to say that our soul mates were not particularly nice to Eric Cartman. If you call a spade a spade it is always and forever a spade. Call someone a fat ass and an asshole and they are always and forever the fat ass or the asshole. Eric cried the first time that the boys teased him because he did not understand why they would pick on him. Kyle was sick of Eric always leeching on to him and Stan and Stan did not find any of Cartman's jokes funny. Deep down, they also possessed that tragic human flaw that feared and despised anyone that seemed different from themselves. Cartman was fat even for a child just out of the toddler age and he was angrier than anyone else they had known. So sometimes they tried to keep their distance, just wanting to be Stan and Kyle, just to have each other's company. But Cartman was always nearby, dragging little Kenny with him…

Kyle left the house without saying a word.

He left his glasses on his bedside table and his jacket on its peg. He did not look at his mother nor did he glance at Ike who watched him go. It was below freezing outside but Kyle Broflovski walked down the street with only a t-shirt to keep his arms warm. He did not feel the cold. He could not feel anything.

His eyes were deadened with pain and all those that passed him were stuck more by the cold resignation in his eyes rather than the fact he had nothing to keep himself warm.

But the most frightening thing about Kyle Broflovski at that moment in time was not the danger of hypothermia or his cold exterior. It was the gun that was tucked in to the side of his jeans. He had no holster so he kept it still by holding it in place with the waistband of his pants, the cold metal pressing into his skin. Every couple of steps a hand would reach to ensure it was still there.

He was tracing the distance to Eric Cartman's house; once a friend and now a rival and an enemy. The houses were not far apart. You never had more than a five minute walk in South Park. It was one of the wonderful things about South Park. It was like a gift. Only five minutes in the cold and you would be at your destination; everything was so close together. But Kyle did not care if it was five minutes or fifty. It felt more like fifty, pressing onward through the snow, everything around the edges of his vision was blurry and unfocused. Cartman's house was crystal clear and he stood for a few minutes just studying his home.

The fat ass was probably inside scoffing cheesy poofs and watching television. Cartman never cared if the world had been shaken around him. It seemed the only constant in his life was the re-run of old television programmes and the food that he forever shovelled into his gaping mouth. He was going to be pissed off when Kyle knocked on his door to disturb him. But pissed off was perfect. Pissed off was how Kyle wanted him.

He was fingering the cool metal of the gun when Cartman answered the door. He stood there looking rather grave and almost bewildered to find Kyle standing there.

"What are you doing here Broflovski?" he asked softly.

"I need you to do something for me," Kyle spoke in monotone.

"Sure," Cartman let Kyle through the door, taking note of Kyle's pink and goosepimply arms. Kyle took note that the television was in fact off but he had been right about one thing; sticky crumbs covered Eric's fingers.

"What are you doing here Kyle?" Cartman watched Kyle walk about his front room, stopping occasionally to look at photographs adorning the wall. He paced from one side of the room as if he was trying to figure out something.

"Don't you think that photographs are the most horrible thing?" Kyle asked him, eventually stopping at a picture of the four boys at Ike's age, pulling faces and half fighting one another. "They're so empty."

Cartman thought for a moment, "Do you need to talk Kyle? About Stan?"

Kyle glared at him. Why was Cartman not being an asshole? Why was he not pissed off? He had counted on Cartman getting all up in his face and tormenting him, that's what he had wanted. He had not even considered that Cartman would be remotely caring.

Cartman did not close the distance between them both but he did actually care. He understood that things were different now. When Kenny died he always came back. Stan was never going to come back. The partnership of Stan and Kyle was no more. The endless scolding and the fat ass comments were going to stop now but deep in Cartman's heart he would have gladly felt the brunt of a million fat ass comments than to stand here with Kyle looking so defeated.

"Why are photographs so empty then Kyle?"

"We were pulling faces. A happy incident amongst a million billion incidents in the world that have been caught on camera. These people are not real. They are shadows," Kyle whispered, his fingers tracing over the shadow of Stan. "When we are dead and gone nobody will care about these pictures. They will mean nothing to anyone. No one will remember how happy we were. How much it all meant."

How much he meant to me, Kyle's chest burned and he had to close his eyes to stop from crying.

"Photographs are nothing but little pieces of paper than can be thrown away. They don't mean anything."

"My Mom loves photographs," Eric explained with a shrug. He was about to head into the kitchen when he thought of Kyle walking in the snow. "You want a hot drink or something?"

"No it's alright. I'm alright."

Sure you are, Cartman sighed more to himself.

"You want anything to eat? We have some snacky smores if you're, you know, hungry?"

"No. Thank you."

Well what the hell do you want then Kyle? Take the bloody photographs if you want them. Cartman stayed silent for a few moments more. When his door bell had rang he had been shovelling food into his mouth, tears running down his cheeks, hating himself for being fat and hating himself for actually caring that Stan was gone. He had hidden his used handkerchiefs down the side of the sofa where Kyle could not see them.

Now he was standing there with his eyes burning, almost ready to break down again. But something inside him simply refused to break down in front of someone like Kyle. Cartman never showed weakness to him if he could help it. He did not want Kyle to realise that Stan had meant something to him too.

"Why are you here?" he had to get Kyle to leave. He could not break down. He just couldn't.

"Let's go into your garden."


"I don't want your house to get messed up," Kyle went and opened the door to Eric's garden before Cartman realised what he was doing.

"Kyle! It's below freezing outside!" Kyle did not listen to Cartman and disappeared out of the door. He grabbed his jacket and shoved it on before following the young man. "What do you mean you don't want to mess up my house?"

Kyle did not answer. When Cartman stepped over the threshold, Kyle was standing in the middle of the garden, his hands in his pockets. Stan always used to do that and for a moment Kyle's silhouette and the memory of Stan blended into one in Cartman's mind. Kyle's face was pointed towards the sky. It was snowing and you could not see the stars in the usually clear South Park sky. You should be always able see the stars in the night sky over South Park because there was no light pollution, nothing to steal their glow. Fleeting snowflakes fell from the dark sky instead but they were no consolation for the loss of the stars.

"Kyle, you're going to get sick if you stay out here," Cartman was disinclined to head out any further into the snow, standing only a metre or so away from the door.

"In a few moments that's not going to matter anymore," Kyle's voice was without hope. "I've written a letter explaining everything. I let them know that it was what I wanted. You won't be punished Eric."

It was always a bad thing when Kyle used Cartman's real name. It always meant he was beyond being serious. Cartman never wanted Kyle to call him Eric ever again. It was just wrong.

"Punished for what?" Cartman inwardly groaned and took two steps out into the snow.

"For this." Kyle turned to face him, removing the gun from his waistband, pointing it at Eric. The metal glinted in the weak light from the windows of the house.

Cartman nearly screamed and fell back in the snow. In the dark it had appeared that Kyle had pointed the barrel of the gun at him. He was still shaking with fright when he realised that it was not the end of the gun pointed in his face; but the handle.

"What the hell are you doing Kyle?" his voice was hoarse and it could not cover up his fear. He really had thought for a moment that Kyle was going to kill him.

"I'm giving you what you've always wanted Eric," he held out the weapon to him.

Cartman could not talk. He could only make a few horrified grunts.

"You've always threatened to kill me. Well here we both are. I'm giving you that chance Eric. I won't stop you. I won't fight. Just kill me and it can all be over with."

"You want me to kill you?" Cartman screamed when he finally found his voice, "Are you fucking crazy dude?"

"A little," Kyle admitted, "but everything seems so much clearer now. I know this is what needs to be done."

"I'm not going to shoot you Kyle!"

"Why the hell not?" Kyle lowered his hand a little bit so he could see Eric better.

"It's not what Stan would have wanted you stupid bastard!"

"Don't be so selfish Eric."

"Selfish?" Cartman had picked himself up out of the snow, "You come to my house, with a gun, ask me to shoot you and I'm being selfish?"

"I can't stay here dude. I can't. I can't breathe Cartman. When I think of him dead there's so much pain. I can't eat. I can't sleep. I just see him and I can't take it anymore!"

Kyle had no such reservations about appearing weak in front of Cartman. Tears were running down his cheeks as he held the weapon out to Cartman, mentally pleading with him to take it and put him out of his misery.

"You know what you're asking of me Kyle?" Cartman was almost bellowing, "You are asking me to help you commit suicide. You're asking me commit murder!"

"So what? You've killed before."

"That was different. That wasn't you! I didn't kill you!" Cartman gripped Kyle by both shoulders, his fingers digging into Kyle's skin, bruising him.

"You hate me! This should be so easy for you!" Kyle could not understand it.

"You know what Kyle?" Cartman looked into Kyle's hopeless face, "if I killed you, you would never see Stan again. This is suicide."

"We would be together again!"

"No you wouldn't!" Cartman shook Kyle a little. The Jewish young man had pressed the gun against Cartman's chest and the pressure of it there infuriated Eric. "God hates suicide. It's like a crime against him and his creation. You'd go to hell Kyle. You'd go to hell for taking your own life."

"Oh spare me your fucking sermon!" Kyle pulled himself away. "To fuck with Christianity!"

"To fuck with Judaism!" Eric retorted and both men stood glaring at each other in the darkness.

"Why do you hate me Eric?" Kyle asked him, holding the gun down at his side. "What did I ever do to you? Why do you make fun of me and my family for being Jewish? Why do you enjoy seeing me suffer? What did I do?"

Cartman had no idea what Kyle had done. He would have been too young to remember why Kyle rejected him even though he still carried the anger and the hurt of it deep inside.

"WHAT DID I DO TO YOU CARTMAN?!" Kyle screamed and jumping forward he pressed the barrel of the gun into Eric's temple.

Cartman did not dare move for fear that Kyle might actually pull the trigger. His knees did shiver and his teeth did chatter but he did not pull away. His breath came in quick, short gasps but he kept still, looking up into Kyle's eyes. They were so utterly desperate and so utterly hopeless.

"Please don't kill me Kyle. My mother…."

"What about Stan's mother?"

"What about yours? How would she feel knowing that her son was here with a gun?"

"Shut the fuck up!" Kyle pressed harder but his hand was shaking. Cartman had never been in so much danger in his whole life and he had never been so terrified in his whole life either.

"Why do you want to kill yourself?" he asked Kyle, barely able to get the sentence out, "You're only going to make people hurt more."

Kyle did not seem to comprehend that. All he could feel was forever the burning and the hollowness inside his chest. He felt like he was dead already.

"Eric. You know this is what you've always wanted. To see me hurt. Just take the gun and do it," he pulled the gun away from Eric's head and pressed it into his hand. He forced Cartman's fingers around the trigger. "There's no one to stop you."

"Kyle… don't make me…" the gun was so cold that it hurt Cartman's hand just to hold it.

"Please," Kyle took two steps back from Cartman. Looking into his face he got onto his knees, the snow came halfway up his thigh. "I won't fight. I won't make a sound, I promise."

Cartman groaned with frustration, running his free hand through his hair as if he was trying to figure out exactly how this situation had gotten out of control and how he could fix it.

"Just… just give me a second alright? I just need to take a breath," he told the waiting Kyle and turned his back.

Mentally bitching to himself he began to examine the weapon. He dropped it open to see if it was loaded and to his dismay it was. Inside one of the cartridges was a nice and shiny new bullet. He groaned and snapped the barrel back into place. What game was Kyle trying to play? Some stupid ass game of Russian roulette?

Well there was no way Kyle was going to win his game. Cartman opened the gun up again to ensure that the bullet would be the next one to be fired. He mentally thanked God that there would only be one shot of this. For some reason Kyle had only wanted one shot. A shot to the head and everything done. Perhaps he had thought that Cartman would get too trigger happy and pump him full of bullets and Kyle did not want his mother to have to see his body like that. A shot to head was ok. Lots of shots were a big no-no.

"This is seriously fucked up right here," Cartman muttered.

"If you're going to do it then just do it!" Kyle told him angrily, still on his knees in the snow.

"Alright, alright," Cartman turned around to face him again, pointing the gun at his enemy, his rival, his friend.

Kyle let out a small gasp that he could not control when he saw the gun pointed straight at him. Unfortunately Cartman heard it.

"You're sure? You sure you want me to do this?"

"Y-yes," Kyle shivered and closed his eyes," Please, for the love of God, make it go away."

"I'm so going to hell for this," Cartman looked at Kyle's closed eyes and took aim. He had a good shot from here. It could be over in a matter of moments.

He pulled back the safety catch and adjusted his aim just a little bit.

"Thank you Eric," Kyle whispered when he heard the crack of the gun becoming live.

"Thank me later Kyle," Cartman whispered.

His fingers gently pressed down on the trigger.

He fired.

There was a puff of smoke from the end of the barrel and the sound echoed again and again off of the side of the house and all round the neighbourhood.

Kyle's heart caught in his throat. He felt nothing.

He felt no pain. He did not fly back from the impact.

It was around about the second echo that Kyle realised he could still feel the snow around his knees. He opened one eye. Cartman was still pointing the gun at him. It had been fired.

But not at him.

The shot had missed him completely.

Eric had aimed to the right and above Kyle's head. The bullet was gone and Kyle was still alive.

"W-what…what did you do?"

"I told you I wasn't going to kill you Kyle," Eric threw away the weapon and it disappeared into a snow drift.

Kyle stood up trembling.

"You didn't kill me," he tried to figure it out in his mind. He had been ready for death. He had welcomed it.

Cartman put his hands on his hips, "Let's go back inside. Have ourselves some cheesy poofs and snacky smores. I think we deserve them."

No! This wasn't right. He was supposed to have died. He was supposed to be lying here in a puddle of his own blood and Cartman was talking about cheesy poofs?

"You stupid… you evil…" Kyle felt the rage begin to burst inside him.

"I'm sure with time you'll forgive me."

"I hate you! I FUCKING HATE YOU CARTMAN!" Kyle screamed, his fists balled. "YOU HEARTLESS! YOU EVIL, FAT FUCK! HOW COULD YOU?"

Kyle launched himself at Eric, his fists flying. He managed to get one on Cartman's left cheek before the overweight man caught a hold of his wrists.

"YOU EVIL BASTARD!" Kyle sobbed uncontrollably, struggling in Cartman's grip.

Cartman did not say a word. Feeling a little uncomfortable, he wrapped his arms around Kyle and just held him as he sobbed.

"You cruel…how could you?" Kyle wept, shaking against Cartman.

"Let's go into the house," Cartman held him, guiding him back into the warmth.

"How could you Cartman?"

They stepped over the threshold together. Cartman was now in tears as well but Kyle could not see them.

"How could you?"

Cartman wept.

"I don't know."

Like anything worth writing, it came inexplicably and without method. Same with the ending. Now thats an angst fic dammit