Author's Notes: This one has kind of a weird format. I wanted to do something set in the past, but the word-generating gods haven't given me anything to work with. So I decided to get creative. (And we all know how well that always works out.) The first part of this is the first time Kyle even entertains the thought of Cartman as anything but the lowest form of humanity (I want to say age 15). And the second half takes place in the time period established by the previous seven chapters. You're all quite smart, so I don't know why I feel the need to explain this to you... Maybe I'm explaining it more to myself. Also, thank you for the reviews. You're glorious, all of you.

Sitting on top of someone you hate, pinning his arms to the carpet and screaming in his face is, contrary to popular belief, very therapeutic. Of course, so is squeezing one of those stress balls. But it's only half as satisfying.

"For the last time, Cartman, shut up! I'm so fucking sick of you ragging on my family! Shut your mouth, or I'll fucking shut it for you!"

I throw all my weight down onto his abdomen (maybe I can crush the one kidney he has left), doing my best to keep him from shoving me off. Over on the couch, Stan rolls his eyes and helps himself to my abandoned bowl of Pringles.

"You know Kyle," Cartman says, drawing out my name untill it sounds like a purr, "it's this kind of behavior that makes everybody hate Jews. You're so fucking butthurt all the time." His shoulders shift under my hands, and he's got that lazy gleam in his eyes, just stringing me along. "Lose six million people and all of a sudden everyone's out to get you."

I can see Stan wince. "Dude, weak."

Cartman lays back on the Marsh's living room carpet and grins at me. "Quit bitching."

My mouth is hanging open, and I'm sure my fingernails are leaving marks on his arms. All I can think about is how far it is to the knife drawer in Stan's kitchen. I hate it when this happens. He'll say something so damn insane that I can't think of anything to throw back. Shit.

And that's when he moves up against me. Nothing big, just a shift of the hips, but for some reason it's enough to send blood rushing to all the wrong places.

I roll off him with a choked sort of gasp, eyes wide. Cartman raises an eyebrow as I take off up the stairs two at a time, one hand slapped across my mouth.

"What'd you do to him?" Stan's voice asks faintly.

My breath's coming too fast for me to hear Cartman's excuse, and I barely make it to the bathroom before I throw up.

Give Craig Tucker two minutes with a hairpin and he can open any padlock devised by man. It's pretty much common knowledge. But, being the contrary bastard that he is, he's taken at least five to jimmy open the back window of his dad's office. Kenny punches him on the shoulder as Stan, Token, Cartman, Clyde and I all finally climb through, trying to keep our voices down. The "Greatest Game of All Time" had been initiated by Stan earlier that week, when he decided that hide-and-seek deserved to graduate to the status of an all-terrain sport. Craig had volunteered the cubicles of the local newspaper, and we were set.

Token scratches the back of his neck and looks around at the maze of desks. "Sweet. Not a bad idea, Stan."

"Dude, I don't have bad ideas," Stan laughs, unlacing his sneakers and dumping them in a corner. "But I'll be It first." He leans on a nearby copier, and buries his head in his arms.


Everyone scatters, leaping over desks, dodging around plastic plants. Clyde ducks into a side office, and crawls under the huge leather chair. There's a metallic clang from across the room; I look over just in time to see Kenny squeezing his narrow form into a ventilation shaft. If he suffocates, this place is going to stink for days.


I squint through the dim light, a little disoriented. I'm god-awful at this game. The guys are all invisible, and Stan hasn't even reached twenty yet.


Oh. Nevermind. I sidle around the edge of a cubicle, and then make a break for a nearby supply closet. Not exactly the most brilliant of hiding places, but I can always hit Stan with a broom or something. I close the door gently behind me, willing it not to make a sound, and back into the darkness.

"No way, Anne Frank. Hide your skinny ass somewhere else."

I spin around, bumping into someone in the tiny confines of the closet. Cartman. It has to be. He's been using that same cologne since we were fifteen.

"What are you doing in here, fatass?"

"Well, Kyle," he stage-whispers, "I thought I was hiding from your faggy boyfriend. And if I'm going to, it'll be without you. Jews tend to get caught." I feel his hand in the small of my back, nudging me towards the door. "Thanks for dropping by."

"Cartman, get off!" I twist away and stumble into a bunch of mops, somehow managing to get my foot stuck in a bucket full of water. Joy. I can barely see him, even with my eyes adjusting to the dark, so all I have is the vague sense that he's taken a step towards me.

"This, right here, is a perfect example of why I fucking hate you." He's mocking me, but there's something in his tone I can't define.

"Back at you, assho-" I flinch as he puts a hand flat against my chest and pushes me back against the mops. Everything's too close all of a sudden. Too close, too hot, too tight.

"Shut your mouth, Jew."

And before I can take another breath, his mouth is on mine. It's rough and it's messy, and I don't stop him. I don't even try. Nope, I just stand there like the idiot I am, and then kiss him back as hard as I possibly can. I don't know who bites first, but I swear I can taste blood.

It's like Invasion of the Bodysnatchers or something, because the Kyle I know would never do this. Ever. Goddamit, I'm losing my mind.

Because there's no reason for me to be breathing in harsh pants as Cartman starts on my neck. There's no reason for letting my head fall back to give him better access. There's no reason for grabbing him through the front of his jeans.

There are no reasons for anything I do with Cartman. Only excuses.

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