Disclaimer: South Park and all characters in it are copyright Matt Stone and Trey Parker, not me.
Author Notes at the end, please don't skip them!
Author: Zoshi the Confused
Rating: Ranging, mostly PG-PG13
Category: South Park
Genre: Angst/eventual tragedy
May contain: Shounen-Ai/Boy Love, Violence, Adult Situations, Swearing
The sidewalk was gritty with salt of both the pet-safe and non-pet-safe varieties. Half the melted snow had already refrozen as pools of nearly invisible ice. My walk had stretched on for longer than I had thought it would; I'd circled this block far too many times. The oak tree in front of me was huge, branches splayed and ungainly against the sky. Snow spilled out of the split in its middle like a fungus.
I followed the lines of its trunk to where it split into two large branches. The crack ran through the middle of them, right at the joint. Above, each arm split into more and more branches, each smaller than the last, each with a soft covering of white and crystal. I kicked at the base of the trunk. A light dusting of snow sifted to the ground.
I gripped at the edge of the crack with one gloved hand, pulled, only to have a piece of bark come away in my hand. Sighing, I glanced over the crack again. Gripping a spot higher up, I pulled on it experimentally. It held, and soon I was hauling myself up along the snow covered sides of the crack. Finding myself a good foothold, I climbed a little way up onto one of the branch splits. It wasn't that wide, a foot, foot and a half maybe. Steadying myself with my hands, I carefully turned over and lay down against the branch, feet braced against the other branch in front of me. The cold of the snow on the branch started to seep through the back of my jacket almost instantly. I shuddered, shifting on the branch, and gripped it tighter to keep from falling off.
Above me the smaller branches stretched like black fingers across the sky. The clouds were a grayish-white and bottom heavy, bloated with their snowy payload. Birds flew low overhead, dark, their wing edges jagged. I watched them glide across the street, dropping to the dark branches of a tree on the other side. They sat still, and after a moment I couldn't distinguish them from the dark lines of the branches they sat on. I stared at them for a long moment; the black began to run into the gray-white behind it, became unfocused and distant.
There was something strange about knowing. Something strange about knowledge itself. Something strange how the same sort of knowing affects people so differently. There's too many unknowns in the world, too many what-if's. Too many people who think they know the answer.
I thought I was okay not having the answer. I thought I was just fine not knowing everything there is to know. I didn't get frightened by the unknown, by the never-known.
It didn't seem to be a problem; or, at least it wasn't a problem often enough to become a problem.
I wasn't sure there was any middle ground for that. Most people were either scared by what exists beyond the limits of their vision or they could care less about it. I probably fell into that second category; I didn't need to know more than I have in front of me. If the time came that I needed to know it, I'd know it. Until then…
The birds had taken off. They scattered across the sky, the four of them flying in different directions.
"W-what the hell are you d-d-doing?"
I jumped, just slightly, and nearly lost my hold on the branch. Even so, my feet slid slightly down the edge of the crack, and a small avalanche of snow tumbled down the side of the tree. I looked over the curve of my knee towards the ground. Kyle stood below, his dark brown jacket open at the neck, hands in his pockets. He didn't look cold at all.
I considered answers for a moment.
"Just hanging," I grinned down at him. He scowled darkly, eyes narrowing.
"Hardy-f-fucking-har-har," He continued staring up at me, his scowl slowly falling into a thoughtful frown.
"Wanna join me?" I asked, nodding towards the other branch formed from the split. For a moment I thought he would decline the offer; his eyes grew a little darker and the frown deepened. Then he was shrugging, and walking over to the trunk. I moved back a bit, giving him room to climb up. He climbed better than I had; found foot- and hand-holds much easier. He'd reached the top of the crack with only about a foot left to pull himself up along when I saw the fingers of his left hand twitch. Thinking fast, I braced my feet against the opposite edge of the split and leaned over to grab his right arm just as his left hand slid nerveless from the hand-hold he'd found.
I could feel his weight pull at me, but he was already scrambling for a better hold, and he found one at last, his left hand gripping at another spot of the rough bark. He looked up at me, and our eyes met. There was a glint in the gray of his eyes, and something unreadable in his face, and whatever sparked the air between was raw, and it was real, and familiar.
It was ten years ago, and it was summer, and it was the abandoned clubhouse in the elm by the school, and we were laughing.
Slowly, weighted by memories, I helped him climb the rest of the way up the tree. With something akin to amiable silence we settled back on our respective branches, eyes on the sky above, our legs crossing where we had set our feet firmly against the tree bark.
For a moment the cold was there again, and I was alone.
Then he shifted, and his leg touched mine, and he existed then, in that pressure.
Kyle pushed open the front door and walked inside, leaving a trail of slush at each step. I sighed inwardly and tapped my boots on the doorstep before I followed.
"Hey fags, wait up!"
The suddenness of Cartman's voice appearing out of nowhere caught me off guard. Kyle growled, pulling his jacket off, and I turned to see Cartman puffing as he jogged up the driveway.
"C-close it on t-the f-f-fucker…" Kyle spat, and I heard him move onwards into the living room. I grabbed the door handle, tempted to slam the door shut in Cartman's face. Very tempted.
"Go ahead, Stan, you pusseh," Cartman was smirking in the kind of self-satisfied way that never boded well for anyone on the receiving end. I glared at him but took my hand off of the doorknob.
"Hurry up," I stepped back, unzipping my jacket and pulling it off. Cartman made it inside finally, slamming the door closed behind him. I grimaced, hung up my jacket in the side closet as Cartman headed on down the short hall.
"Kahl, where's Kenneh?" I heard him ask, and I walked in to find him hovering at the edge of the couch, Kyle already sprawled across one half. The TV was tuned into some talk show, and Kyle was focusing on it a bit more than he should have been. Vegetable gardens just weren't that interesting.
I slid between Cartman and the coffee table and sat down on the couch myself. Our hefty friend was showing no sign of joining us, which was strange in and of itself. He should have been trying to monopolize couch space, or TV channels at the moment. While staring at Kyle as if he was trying to read his mind, with that strange mix of confusion and revulsion, was exactly a Cartman-like thing to do, it just seemed a little out of context.
"Goddammit, Jew, where the hell is Kenneh?" Cartman asked again, with more than a hint of anger in his voice. Kyle shot him a heated glare, and I leaned back against the back of the couch to avoid getting caught in its trajectory.
"F-fuck if I kn-know," Kyle turned back to the TV and started flipping channels rabidly. Cartman let out an almost larger-than-life sigh. I tried to ignore him. Cartman was just not a person I wanted to deal with at the moment. Actually, I'd be fine right then if I found out I'd never have to deal with him again.
"Why d-don't' you j-just call him?" Kyle asked after a moment, exasperated.
"I'm not an idiot, Kahl," Cartman retorted, and now he was the one glaring. "I called Kenneh, but he's not answering."
Kyle snorted, apparently amused.
"What do you need him for, anyway?" I asked, sighing. I looked up at Cartman, and he glared down at me.
"Kenneh left me a voicemail, said he wanted to talk about some letter or some stupid shit like that," Cartman said moving towards the couch. I scooted towards Kyle's half hurriedly as he settled his weight next to me.
"What letter?" I asked, looked at Cartman, but he shrugged, looking annoyed.
"I don't know, Stan," He said, with utter patience. "That is why I'm trying to find Kenneh."
I looked at Kyle, hoping he might have an answer to the situation. He was frowning at the TV, which was now showing fluffy puppies running around on a green field.
"A l-l-letter?" Kyle asked. Cartman heaved a sigh again.
"Yes Kahl, a let-ter. Something you write, and then put into a mail box to send to someone. Remember?" Cartman shot a nasty look over at the other end of the couch. "Or d-do you w-want m-m-me to repeat t-that in s-s-stutter so y-you unders-s-stand?"
Kyle shot up to his feet, eyes blazing. I jumped up just in time to plant my hands on his chest and keep him from launching himself at Cartman.
"Boys? What's going on in here?"
Kyle's mom appeared quite suddenly in the doorway to the kitchen. She still had her coat on, and was giving all of us suspicious looks.
"Why hello there, Mrs. Broflovski," Cartman's voice was so sweet it very nearly made me sick right there. I heard him stand up behind me. "I was just talking to Kahl and Stan about that letter Kenneh said he received…"
"Oh, the letter!" Mrs. B brightened suddenly, "Did Kenny tell you about it then?"
"W-what let-t-ter?!" Kyle shouted, spinning around to glare at his mom, and I grabbed his shoulder with one hand. Just in case.
"Why, the letter he got from Kevin," Mrs. B looked a little bemused. "I was sure he'd told you about it."
"What?" I stared at her, not exactly comprehending. I heard Cartman echo me, a little quieter, more to himself than to anyone else. Beneath my fingers I could feel the muscles of Kyle's shoulder tense.
"He… he didn't tell you?" Mrs. B asked, and this time her voice had grown a little softer, and her eyes had drifted towards Kyle. I turned to look at Cartman, but he didn't seem to be paying attention. I turned back around.
My hand was empty.
I blinked, lost for a moment, and looked towards the main hallway in time to catch Kyle taking the steps upstairs two at a time. Hopping over the coffee table I followed him, Cartman's heavy steps and cursing close behind. The stairs seemed to be taller than I had remembered; halfway up I was hit by vertigo. Grabbing desperately at the banister, I nearly fell over as Cartman practically collided with me.
"What the hell Stan?" His voice was breathless. I pushed off from the banister.
"Shut up," I took the last steps in a few bounds, dashed down the hallway so fast I nearly ran by their room entirely. I paused at the entrance; Kyle was standing in the middle of the room, his back to the door. I took a step inside.
"Kyle?" I took another step towards him, but he didn't respond. Something was… off.
My eyes traveled over their room. Kenny's bed was made. The desk they shared looked less cluttered than the last time I had seen it. The closet door was closed.
Cartman's voice resounded sharply in the silent room. I jumped, and Kyle jerked around towards us. Something dropped out of his hand, fell to the floor with a clatter. His eyes looked unfocused, distant.
"Kyle, what's wrong?" I moved closer to him. A second, and as if someone had hit a switch, his eyes sharpened, hardened. I held out a hand, but he brushed past me, pushed past Cartman and into the hallway and down it.
"What the fuck is going on?" Cartman glared after Kyle, and then turned his glare on me. I stared at him for a moment, frowning, then turned back around.
A foot from my feet lay two keys on a key ring and a keychain with the words "Due to budget cuts, the light at the end of the tunnel is out of service."
I looked up at the window. The blinds were up, and in the distance, against the white-gray backdrop of snow clouds, a single black bird winged its way towards infinity.
I was standing on what seemed to be the threshold of the rest of my life. Figuratively, of course. Literally I was standing in the ankle deep snow of my backyard. I looked up.
The sky above was dark with something more than just the night, but the stars still shone like distant beacons. The chill in the air was cutting, but I ignored it, tried to find a constellation I could name among the stars hanging above me.
I couldn't remember winter ever being this bitter before.
I shook my head, breathed deeply and watched my breath cloud in front of me like dragon smoke. I felt the urge to roar. I managed to keep myself from acting on it…
Hell, what's the point of being young and crazy if you're not allowed to act it sometimes?
Deep breath, open your mouth –
For a blissful ten seconds it was just me, the starry night sky, and my craziness bouncing off the buildings around me. Barking started up two doors down, then howling the next block over, and by the time my voice had faded a chorus of dogs had picked up the tune. A light turned on in the house a few houses up from mine. Voices were calling and shouting and cursing.
One in the morning probably wasn't a good time to go around roaring at the night sky, but I couldn't find it in myself to care at the moment.
I looked back up at the sky. The stars were still shining.
Next week started winter break, and then? Then spring, and spring break. And summer.
Fall later, and college.
I took a deep breath, felt the cold fill me, energize my senses, overpower my mind.
Life. The Future. Everything.
Once you got down to it, it was all pretty simple, wasn't it?
The best of a book is not the thought which it contains,
but the thought which it suggests;
just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones
but in the echoes of our hearts.
~ John Greenleaf Whittier
Thank you to to all my reviewers of this story!
Hot Monkey Brain * Wishmaster Kami * Thequillofdestiny * Fancee * Lilzenium * Shanello Kusege-Chan * Dar * Red Shiloh * Andatariel.x * Pointof-passion * The Brat Prince * Gaarainapie
The anonymous reviewers
There you have it friends, the ambiguous end to an ambiguous story. I know I've left you with more questions than answers, and that right now it seems that just about nothing at all connects with each other anymore.
Don't worry, everything comes together! Keep an eye out for Baptize Me In, which will continue with our story. It will still be Stan's point of view, and it will take place just around two, two and a half years in the future. If you enjoyed Pink, be sure to come back for BMI!
Now, to be honest, I never thought Pink would amount to much of anything. It's a story about a pairing that isn't all that popular, that doesn't have that much written of it, and I never expected to have much of a readership develop. As I've said so often before, this story was entirely experimental; I've written things the way I thought I would enjoy writing them, and enjoy reading them. Dramatic angst, of course, seems to be a staple of my stories, but there is more than that here, much more. The more the story progressed, the more tainted Stan's view of the world had become, I'm sure you've noticed. I've avoided many things in my writing, I don't like throwing anyone into a fast-forward of emotions or situations. There are moments that I didn't write in this story, because I didn't feel they added anything to it, other than a word count. There are moments that I added that might have seemed entirely unneeded at the time, and still might seem so. Not everything is important, but everything that has been put in was put in for a reason.
I don't know if any of you are interested in my views of the characters here in Pink, but I'll tell you all the same, just for fun.
Stan is a Renaissance painting; he's ideal in everything except reality.
Red is a tribal man in front of a camera; his soul's been caught, and he's not quite sure where to look for it.
Kenny is an exercise in the surreal; he is a realist with his head in the clouds.
Kyle is thirteen years old and never a day older; he is rash, and bold, and violently lost.
Cartman is a clockwork mechanism; he's an intricate bundle of cogs and gears so obscured by its case that its secrets are secret even to itself.
If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask them in the reviews, or in a mail. If I can answer them without compromising the BMI storyline, I will.
Once again, thank you so much for reading Pink! I appreciate it greatly!
Remember to check my twitter (link on my profile page) for story updates!
PS: I almost forgot, here is a song list for the chapter titles:
"Faction" ~ Less than Jake
"Bughouse" ~Naked Raygun
"In Vein" ~Alkaline Trio
"Prayers for Rain" ~The Cure
"Trouble Breathing" ~Alkaline Trio
"Fatally Yours" ~Alkaline Trio
"Bring Me Back A Dog" ~IAMX