Disclaimer: I don't own South Park or its characters, I wrote this story just for fun and am not making any money out of it.
Author's Note I: Hanukkah fic, even though it starts on Sunday. A bit weird, I think, some OOCness maybe…
Author's Note II: Sorry for spelling or grammar mistakes, or incorrect usage of words and phrases. English is my second language.
Stan was their first guest. Ike wasn't surprised at all, really. The black-haired teenager had stumbled into their house with his red eyes, pale face and messy hair. He looked around then, confused somewhat, not really sure what to do. When Stan spotted him sitting on the brown couch, Ike looked away, embarrassed, confused himself. "I'm-" Stan started, but then lost his voice and looked down at his feet. "God…" he whispered, then held his face, hiding it from view. His shoulders started to shake, and Ike knew he was crying.
"Come sit with us, Stanley," his father told him, then moved to the left, a little closer to his wife, making their biological son's best friend some room. Stan obeyed without much protest and sat down, allowing the father of the family to put a comforting hand on his shaking shoulder. "I-I'm so s-sorry," Stan sobbed, leaning to the left, closer to the bearded man, looking for some kind of comfort.
"It's okay, son," Gerald answered, and Ike could see him cringing inwardly. "We know."
Ike watched them, crying or tearing up, and tried to find his own tears, but he failed to do so and instead averted his gaze to his mother. She sat next to his father, her facial features much like her son's best friend. Her hands rested on her thighs and she scratched them slowly, not sure what to do with her fidgeting fingers. Every few minutes she sighed heavily, then her eyes teared up and she wiped them hurriedly, not wanting anyone to see.
"He should h-have stayed at m-my place!" Stan mumbled from behind his palms. "Then this… th-then…"
Ike cringed a little at this. What if his brother had stayed at Stan's, really? Would they have done what he saw them doing a few days before? Would Stan hold his brother so tightly like he had then? Would his brother be kissing Stan fervently like Ike saw him doing when he opened that unlocked door? Would Stan be obliging? Would low moans be heard? Ike frowned. No, he didn't really like to remember that…
His mother looked away. Ike wondered if she thought about that too.
Stan came as soon as he could and sat next to Gerald again, this time merely staring ahead, eyes still red, but hair less messy. His face was less pale, but Ike didn't know if this was due to some crying, or had he really felt better. A few came a few hours later and hugged his mother and his father, muttering some words of condolence. His aunt took some latkes from the coffee table and looked at his mother. "You didn't have to, Sheila," she said and sat next to the fat woman, barely managing to fit in the vacant spot.
"He never really liked Hanukkah," his mother replied, then sighed heavily. "Ike does, though, I'd hate to disappoint him…"
Ike wanted to protest. He opened his mouth, but again couldn't find his voice, failed to spot that feeling from within, and closed his eyes in despair. His cousin sat next to him, fixed the glasses on his nose and spoke with that screeching voice of his. "It really is a shame," he said. "I heard he had a chance of being accepted into one of the Ivy League universities." Ike gritted his teeth and clenched his fists. Was that really all that mattered? "Maybe to Yale, like me," his cousin continued. "Then they would have really had us confused." Luckily, his cousin stood up before Ike had the chance to punch him.
His grandparents came a few minutes before sunset, carrying a small suitcase. "Oh, Sheila!" His grandmother sobbed and held his mother. "I'm so sorry for your loss!"
His mother hugged her back, and Ike stared at them, cocking his head slightly to the side, not understanding. The only connection he and his brother had with their grandmother was a phone-call on birthdays and money on Hanukkah and Passover. His grandfather stood at the doorstep, then looked to the side and spotted Stan, whose only movement during that day was to the bathroom.
"Kid," he said, and Stan stared up at him oddly when he realized he was being addressed to. "Are you a part of the family?"
"I-" Stan started, but Gerald cut him off.
"Yes, he is," his father said. "He's Kyle's best friend."
His grandfather nodded and sat next to him. "And how have you been holding up, Ike?" Ike shrugged, his grandfather nodded. "I've got a little something for you," he said and handed him a white envelope. "Can't say I forgot!" he said quietly, as to not to disturb the heaviness. "There's a little something for yesterday, too…"
This time Stan came with Kenny and Cartman. His grandparents were still sleeping when Ike opened the front door in order to let them in. Kenny and Cartman looked uncomfortable and they exchanged worried glances as their third counterpart sat in the regular position he had adopted for himself.
"So…" the blond kid started, shifting his weight from foot to foot, hands buried deep in his jacket's pockets. Then his eyed lit up as his fingers seemed to collide with something, and he pulled out a dreidel. "Uh, yeah, I brought you this… you know, the holiday and all…"
Ike opened his mouth to speak, but then his mother came from behind him and replied instead. "You didn't have to," she said. "Though we appreciate your concern. I don't think…"
Kenny dismissed it. "Oh, don't worry about it. Here, I'll just put it over here…"
His mother stared at Cartman, her eyes narrowing slightly. "I'm sure you're delighted," she sneered. "It's what you've wanted all along."
"I'm not really…" the fat teen replied, "I don't…"
Sure he didn't, Ike told himself quietly, pretending to think he never saw all those fist-fights, the exchanging of curses, and that one time when Cartman couldn't hold himself back and nearly kissed his brother when he found out he was already taken. If it was in spite or an act of desperation, Ike could not tell.
"Your shirt…" he heard a voice from behind him, and turned around to see Stan staring at his mother's pale-blue shirt. "Ike's too…"
"A custom, Stanley," his mother replied courtly. "It has to stay that way until Tuesday.
"A week?" Kenny asked from his place next to the staircase.
Stan nodded. "Of mourning…" he mumbled, "yes, I should do that too." He said, held his collar and tore it, then returned to sitting. "I should be mourning like you," he said.
Ike knew he should be, as well.
His grandparents left a few hours before, and Ike stood in the kitchen and watched his mother frying latkes. "I'm really sorry for this, Ike. Next year I'll make sure to make it up to you with 12 presents."
I don't need them he wanted to say, to scream, but then again failed to spot the source, and chose to remain silent. She turned off the stove and looked at him. "Cousin Jake left something for you when he came to pick up grandma and grandpa, though. Have you opened his present?" Ike nodded. "I see. Ah, there's someone at the door…"
It was some of Kyle's other classmates. They shook hand with him and his mother, then closed in a circle around Stan and whispered among themselves.
"Stan, what happened to your shirt?" Wendy asked him, touching the fabric.
Stan smacked her hand away. "Mourning."
"Dude, you stopped shaving?"
"I'll leave it like that for a month."
"You're not Jewish…"
"You don't have to."
Yet he did. Ike wondered, was there something wrong with himself then?
On the fifth day, Kenny came again, supporting a still broken Stan. "Hey Ike," he greeted. Listen, is there somewhere he can crash? He spent the entire night at my house, crying… look, he can barely stand…"
"I'm alright," Stan replied sniffling.
"Do you want to use Kyle's room?" Kenny whispered in his ear and Stan stiffened, then shook his head vehemently.
"Not there, anywhere but there…"
"You can't sleep here, the guests are still coming… Ike, can he use your room?"
Ike nodded slowly and Kenny smiled in gratitude, taking Stan's hand and leading him upstairs.
Just when Ike was about to return to sitting on the couch, the rabbi came. He spotted him and smiled sadly. "I would have brought you something, child, but I don't think it's appropriate…"
"Rabbi," his father called from the kitchen, "please, have a sit. I'll make some tea."
"Oh, thank you Gerald," the rabbi replied, patted Ike on the shoulder, and went to converse with the adults.
Kenny came down then and noticed that none of his classmates were present. "Hey, Ike," he said quietly, as to not to disturb the adults. "I'm gonna come back later, 'k?"
Ike nodded, Kenny smiled slightly and then left, allowing the heaviness to remain inside.
At sunset, Ike went to his room to check up on Stan. He wanted to lie down and rest himself, tired from the week. Stan wasn't in his room when he entered, and Ike frowned, confused. A thought occurred to him and he went to his brother's room, opened the door slowly and sighed heavily as indeed he spotted Stanley Marsh lying on his brother's bed, clutching one of his shirts as if his life depended on it.
Ike envied that commitment and wondered what it was that he was lacking.
For some reason, Eric Cartman appeared on their doorstep. He greeted no one, entered in perfect silence and sat on an armchair. All conversation in the room died down and all eyes turned to the fat boy, suspicious.
"Weren't you the Hitler kid?" a guest asked. Cartman made no reply.
"Yes he was," Gerlad said. "But we won't deny mourning of anyone."
"Are you sure he's not gloating?" a second guest asked.
"Yes I am."
Cartman looked to the side, his brown eyes meeting with Ike's black ones. "Ah, brat, I have something for you," he said. "Maybe it'll ease it up. You know, not having Christmas…" he handed him a pack of Oreos. "Double-stuffed," he finished.
"Isn't that nice, Ike?" Someone of Kyle's classmates said. "You should thank him."
Yet Ike was sure it was wrong in so many ways, so he simply smiled kindly and left to his room, bored.
All of the family members left, and only Stan remained sitting on their couch next to Gerald. Kenny came some time later, and crouched next to his distressed friend. "You look better," he commented. "I'm sure Kyle would be glad to hear that."
"I'm going to see him tomorrow. Will you join me?"
I'll go too, Ike wanted to say, but only managed to emit what sounded like a low grunt, blushed, and went to hide in the kitchen, wondering if he was heard.
Stan followed him. "Ike, what's wrong?" he asked. "Why did you run away like that?" Ike looked away. "I know it's hard on you… I mean, it's hard on everyone, just look at me…" After a short pause he continued with a slightly different tone. "Hey… wasn't that… Kyle's shirt?" Ike nodded. "Yeah, I remember that," his voice started to crack. "He wore it when we first…" then he trailed off and fell silent, a set of sniffles following suit. "You have no idea how I loved him. He was the closest person to me, I don't… I don't know…"
Neither do I.
"I'm sorry, I feel so pathetic. Crying like a girl when you, a few years younger then me, you take it like a real man… I wonder which is the best way, though?"
I don't know.
"You can cry, you know…that's what they told me. Then I just couldn't stop my tears, so I should tell that to you, too. You know it's okay to cry, don't you?"
That anger was bubbling inside of him again, that unfathomable rage, and he bit his lip until it bled, holding himself back.
"They ruined your holiday… I bought him a present, you know? Eight of them, actually… he… he'll never get them now…" Stan couldn't speak after that and returned to sob in the living room, leaving a thankful and shaking Ike behind him.
"There you go, Ike," his mother said, handing him a bag with eight presents. "I couldn't give them to you until now. Hopefully, next year would be happier…"
He smiled in gratitude and took the colorful bag.
"I know this past week must have been hard on you. It's been hard on all of us, but we must stay strong, as one family. Like we always were."
There it was. Right there, next to his kidney. That raw anger and painful sorrow. There it was, right there, and he nearly caught it, but he choked on his words and coughed violently into his hand, tears welling up in his eyes. "That's right, Ike," his mother whispered. "Let it all out…"
So Ike screamed. Voice hoarse at first, but then he got that hang of it and screamed louder, all the while still searching for that feeling he lost eight days ago. He threw the bag with the presents aside and covered his face, shameful, regretful, feeling his mother's fat arms engulfing him into a tight hug. "That's okay," she whispered. "I know."
He wished he could grow a beard. He'd be able not to shave it then and let everyone know that he was Jewish and that it doesn't matter if he hadn't found it, that it doesn't matter if Stan had, or if Cartman had, because neither did they shared that blood.
That Jewish blood he was lacking.
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