A/N: Hey. It's me. With your last chapter. Yep, I give. I don't know what to make of this. There will be an epilogue (eventually) but as it is I'm leaving things at this. I'm sorry if it seems rushed (it was). I can't finish stories well it seems, so I apologize again. (Gripe more, Tweek, noooo one cares.)
Enjoy. (I hope.)
Valentines day always gives me a sense of nostalgia - always. This year it's accompanied by an underlying feeling of regret.
I'm pretty sure you can guess why.
Guess, but you'd be wrong, because the last place I expected to be was arm in arm with Butters in a night club, far out of South Park and in the heart of Denver.
The place is called Church - totally ironic from my perspective, considering I'm Jewish and the venue itself is actually a legitimate Church. Butters, in some kind of crazy drag attire that could put most girls to shame, just smiles and walks in with me like no-one's business, the bass pounding with couples bumping and grinding like no tomorrow.
"Just lighten up a bit, Kyle. Golly, it's been like, two months. At least you're talking again, right?"
"Yeah, I guess so." I don't confide in good old Marjorine that Stan and my talks are brief and awkward, but the bottle of sunshine is at least right in that aspect - we are talking, and that's a major plus.
"Cheer up, Ducky. Don't get yourself all worked up and just have a spot of fun." Pip pipes up from alongside Butters and I give him a faint smile, wondering if I perhaps should have just stayed home. Some other tall girl is also in our company but I can't remember her name and I don't really care, either, because she's pretty obnoxious.
I'm so irritable. I feel like a loser, but next to the no-one I have at the moment with Kenny off doing God knows what for the evening, these three are all I've got.
Some offbeat remix of a Lady Gaga song starts to play and I slide my face against my palms, settling for going to pick up a diet Coke from the bar and leaving my company to bump hips together in the crowd. Hearing Cartman wail a sad impression of this woman's voice has turned me off of her completely. I just want silence.
"A teepeekal misfortune on ze day of sheet, oui?"
The guy beside me glances me over and I stare. He's gruff looking - actually, he's so out of place looking that it almost has me sceptical. Rough good looks (in my opinion) with unkept short-cropped brown hair and bags under the eyes. He's got a cigarette behind his ear and combat boots with cargo pants and a t-shirt with an oil stain. I realize I'm staring and nod slightly.
"Are, uh... why're you here?"
He looks at me, raising a fingerless-gloved hand and pinching his cigarette from behind his ear. "Why eez anyone 'ere?"
There's something about this cycle that's familiar already. I stick my tongue to the corner of my mouth in thought and then my eyebrows shoot up.
"About time." He sucks his teeth and mutters something in French that I don't understand. "Zeez music eez earsplitting. Zeez job eez not wairz zeez torture."
What the fuck is he saying? I nod, choosing not to ask. You don't fuck with Ze Mole.
"What are you doing back in America? I haven't seen you since that one time."
Christophe glances at me again and then takes some obscure drink off of the counter and sips it. I'm not even sure if it's his, but again, no questions asked.
"Work. As always." He licks his lips free of the beverage he just sampled before setting it back down on the counter and leaving it to its own abandon. A girl saunters up soon after, some pretty blond looking to be some kind of rising celebrity, possibly. I don't keep track of that stuff, but she hangs off of the mercenary with batting eyelashes that almost makes me wonder how anyone tolerates girls at all.
"Chris, come dance with me. You're my escort, you have to stay close!" The blatant flirting has me kind of miffed, but Christophe wiggles his eyebrows at me and lets her drag him off. Even the god damn mercenary is getting more than me. Fuck Valentine's Day.
My time being a miserable single moves on. I'm not even feeling like doing anything. Dancing has never been my thing - not publicly. And not because Jews don't have rhythm, I just have some dignity.
"Hey cutie, what're you offering?"
"Well I can give you whatever you want..."
"Happy Valentines dayyy..."
Voices bounce through the bar as I slowly vampire at my diet Cola. Pip waves at me from his spot on the dance floor and I wiggle my fingers back just to be polite.
"I dunno, how old are you?"
"Who cares. It's not much, and it's worth it, I promise."
My eyes scan around for something. Anything.
"You're a pretty little thing, ain't'cha?"
"Yeah, I know. So are you down?"
My eyes finally turn to judge the occupants of the bar counter that I'm sitting at. A man in a suit is wooing the waitress - or trying, as she smiles and nods, used to drunken advances. Another guy has a pretty blond in his lap and is caressing their side, kissing their neck. Some taller man has taken Christophe's spot on the stool beside me and is slamming back shots like no one's business. My eyes flicker back to the couple a few seats down.
"I can do anything."
I cast my eyes away after a moment, feeling invasive. Blondie's hair's up in clips straddling the guy and I'm wondering if I should leave before things get too public for me.
"You could even kill me if you wanted to. But that'll cost you extra."
I stiffen and stand up, feeling nauseous - whether it's because of the realization setting in, what's going on, or that I'm here to witness it, I'm not sure. I slide my hands down my face, willing myself to walk away, but feeling myself frozen in place. I can't do this. This isn't real. This can't be fucking real. I got slipped some date rape and I'm passed out on the bar counter.
I glance up at the smacking of lips and find myself staring into Kenny's face, acknowledging his horrified expression as the man kisses his neck and shoulders. I can feel my distress shining through, fuck, there's no hiding it now. Before I know it my hand's around his wrist, pulling him toward me and out of this bozo's arms, clocking the guy in the face without holding back.
The guy turns on me and I seethe at him. "You fucking sick freak." The guy stares and then glares, looking between me and my best friend. Before he can blame Kenny, I grab the blond's face a bit roughly and shake him as I lie through my teeth. "He's obviously not sober. Go burn in hell."
And I'm dragging him through bodies. I feel like I'm swimming. The music is just background noise by this point and I don't look to see Kenny's expression as I drag him out into one of the solitary halls of the Church, only letting him go when we're alone.
Things are slowly sinking in, logic bringing recent happenings together. I turn and stare at him, and he looked terrified. Good, he should be.
"Kenny... Kenny, are you fucking nuts?"
He stares at me still with those deer eyes, and I cup my cheeks, starting to pace. I can hear him shifting uncomfortably against his wall, nervous.
"Kyle, look. Kyle, I can explain."
"Kenny, there's nothing to fucking explain! You've been fucking selling yourself on the streets?"
He falls silent. I don't even know how to feel, shaking my head. "Kenny, I know you have no conscience for yourself because you die and come back all of the time but this is sick! What the fuck are ... I can't even..." I shake my head more as he grabs my hands.
"Kyle just listen. My brother's out, you know that. He left. My sister has to eat and my dad's booze money doesn't cover that, alright? I've been trying to get a real job - I really have - but I'm running low on resumes and no one seems to want me. I need to print more off at your house actually, but... please, Kyle, don't be mad."
I stare at him and take a breath, shaking my head. "This is why you got raped, isn't it?"
A dead silence falls from him in shock and I know I've hit a nerve. I can feel my expression hardening and I shake my head. "You knew. You knew this whole time who it was."
He shakes his head tightly, and my stomach starts to sink as his grip loosens. "I still don't know who it was. He knocked me out and left. But you're right. This is why."
He slides down into a ball against the wall on the floor. I feel terrible. Trying to calm down, I stare up and down the hall for wanderers, the bass something low in the background. We probably aren't even supposed to be out here. For once, I don't care.
I can feel my fists loosening as he starts to cry and I'm feeling slowly more and more terrible as he shakes his head. "You think I asked for this? What the fuck, Kyle! If I had any other choices I'd take it! You guys think every little irrational thing I do is because I don't care! For highest grade average you're pretty fucking retarded!"
It stings, it really does, and as he cries in front of me for the second time within the last three months, I can feel a hole forming as I realize how much I take for granted.
"Jobs are dry in our town and I don't have the money to travel every day to something solid out of town. This is my on and off alternative because it pays a lot in short amounts of time. If you've got a better idea, please, share it with me!" He stares up a me from his spot on the floor and I take a step back, throat tight. I don't think I've ever seen him so angry. "Well? Share it!"
I search the air for answers and nothing comes to me. I don't know how to deal with this. I was brought up with a perfect well-off family. I'm not any better than a shit-faced smalltown celebrity at my present status, except that my friend circle is slowly shrinking and the person I'm presently closest to is suffering beyond personal repair. My parents won't do anything. I don't know what to do. Kenny's family has been useless from the beginning.
I open my mouth to apologize and then close it, hugging myself around the waist. I would more gladly sell myself on the streets than watch my best friend cry because he doesn't have a choice. I look for rationality, which is the only thing I'm good for.
"Kenny, I'm sorry. You're right, and I'm so sorry..." I press my palms to my eyes and take a bigger breath. Social services never did shit to help anybody. I crouch down and pull him into a hug. "Kenny, listen. I know you hate taking shit from people but please, just stop doing this. I swear to god, I'll help you get a real job. You can sleep over anytime like you always have, you can bring your sister and I swear, I'll feed her too, just please. Stop this. I'll even pay for your bus fare."
He shakes his head slowly, out of more thought than rejection, it seems at first, before he shrugs away a little, head shaking with more determination. "Kyle, I can't."
"Kenny." I take him seriously by the shoulders and stare him down. "Kenny, you don't have a fucking choice. I'm sorry that your family is living in poverty. That's not fair. But Kenny, fuck. [i]This[/i]... this isn't the answer! There are offices and things you can go to. Employment offices. All kinds of things. You can come over and we can look online," I say shakily. "Just please, fuck. Don't do this to yourself. I don't ever want you to come running through my window like that one time ever again. Do you know how much you scared me?"
He glances up, and I can tell he's indecisive. I'm wondering how he afforded to get into this club in the first place and look him over, as though for some evidence that he's already made some money that night, but I decide not to ask. Dragging him up off of the floor, I hold his hand tightly and glance him up and down one more time.
"I know you feel imposing but fuck, just stop." I take his other hand and give them both a squeeze as he sighs. "It's nothing to be embarrassed about, it's not your fault. Please, just let me help you. Stop doing this to yourself."
He stares at me and nods slightly, a trace of a smile touching his face as a few tears leak out again. He wipes his cheeks with the backs of his wrists and tries to pull himself together. This is the Kenny I feel that I know. I can still see the traces of uncertainty and guilt in his person but I shake my head slightly, dragging him back to the dance floor. Marjorine glances up half way through grinding some guy and smiles, waving. Kenny glances at me. I shrug to dignify myself as Butters wanders over, waving at Kenny.
"Well gee, hey Kenny! Fancy seeing you here." Kenny smiled kind of tightly. He and Butters have kind of been in a broken-glass standstill of a not-really friendship since he made Butters for the most part blind in one eye when we were kids. This doesn't stop Marjorine though; he's an air of confidence in a dress. Almost a different person. Makes me wonder what would have happened if we hadn't dressed him up that one time in fourth grade. Would he ever have found himself - herself at all?
Pip shows up with no-name girl a moment later and Kenny glances at me, almost looking confused, before shrugging off whatever his floating thought was. My assumption was 'why are you hanging with these guys?'. Not in a standard way of disapproval. Kenny doesn't talk shit about people because he considers himself further down on the social foodchain, being broke; but these are not the social class I would normally hang out with.
I think he's forgetting that my friends are dwindling in numbers right now, if that was even his thought at all.
I should probably update my life's status.
Kyle Broflovski. Age? Seventeen - eighteen in May. Living in the middle of Buttfuck and No Where on a big mountain in a hick town where the teenagers dwell in the most illegal things they can think of because there's absolutely nothing else to do. Has a 1:30am curfew on weekdays to study. No balls when it comes to mom and a frying pan.
Yeah. That's me.
The rest of the night goes well from an outside perspective but I'm still feeling down. I try to push things from my mind but that doesn't help me. I back down at about two to head home. Kenny is naturally at my side.
The bus ride is tiring and we put a newspaper between us to keep us awake.
"You're an Aries, right?"
Kenny nods at me in response and I glance at his long expired horoscope of three days. "On Wednesday, your horoscope was: Thoughtful actions produce positive results. In planning ahead for possible consequences, you help to minimize potential conflicts. Capable of anticipating a next move, you are skillful in games you play and in the contacts you make. You tend to know what you want, and communicating your intentions is easier now; others are clear on where you stand. Stimulated by what is said or what you think, you eagerly seek answers-and find them."
Kenny stares at me and I smile halfly. "You're working hard. You're trying not to cause trouble. You know what you want so talking about it is easier-"
"- And I'm eagerly seeking answers and finding them."
"Yeah, pretty much," I nod, kicking my feet up over the back of the seat in front of us. He captures a pensive look before darting his eyes toward me and trying to sneak a peek over the paper. "What's your's say, Mister Gemini?"
I find my sign on the sheet and sigh. "You like to connect with people today-and to talk about others. With a tendency for teasing, you are playful and interested in playing games. Should others criticize you, however, you may not respond, in order to maintain harmony. Convey your happiness, or unhappiness, and you likely will feel better. Unwanted communications can intrude on your peace and quiet. Too many things to do can mean too many appealing choices."
I adapt his thoughtful look and then he glances at me after re-reading my Wednesday's horoscope on his own. "Dude, I don't even remember what the fuck I did on Wednesday."
We laugh from sleep-deprived stupidity the whole way home.
Afternote: Yep. You heard it. That's it, albeit the epilogue which will be around eventually. I'm sorry this ended so flatly. I don't know what to do with this anymore. Side credit, "The Church" is a real place in Denver, I did some research on it. Also, I nabbed those random horoscopes from a site called evolvingdoor. Thanks for tuning in.