A Note From Ben and P2: This will most likely be the last collaboration between the two of us, and almost certainly the last time we're seen in the South Park fandom. We have both moved on to other things, namely Harry Potter. Phoenix already has a chapter and a half of his new story done and Ben is hard at work on one of his own. If you'd like to continue to follow us, you can do so individually in other fandoms.

As a parting gift to all of you, we composed this little gem of a holiday story. We really hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed writing it, and with much thanks and gratitude we say our farewells to all of you. You were wonderful and made all the years we did this truly unforgettable.

May you all have a wonderful holiday season.

You're Wonderful, Stan!
by Southern Sunshine

Three beings sat in the main chamber, somewhere in the afterlife. They weren't sure why they'd been summoned, but the message had been marked "EXTREMELY URGENT! CODE RED!" and that was never good. Usually, it meant someone was in trouble somewhere, and in the worst possible way. Murders, suicides, and irrevocable life-changing decisions were all CODE RED events.

"Anybody want to hazard a guess as to what's going on?" the smallest one asked.

"I don't see how that would be helpful," the fat one replied. "You know how the higher ups frown upon speculation regarding their important business."

"I didn't mean any harm," the first replied. "It just seems like...I dunno...seems like we've been here awhile, and none of us have any clue why."

"Someone's in trouble," the third being, an elderly looking man, responded. "That's what's really important."

"Of course someone's in trouble, but I want to know why they think it's going to take three of us to deal with it. Is the Pope threatening to throw himself off the Basilica?" the small one replied to both. "Even for a Code Red, usually it only takes one..."

The other two considered his point, and he did have a point. Before they could answer, though a door slid open to admit Joseph, Gabriel, and Peter.

"Thank you for your patience," Joseph said. "As you all know, on the Lower Planes, it's the holiday season. Hannukah started several days ago, Christmas is tomorrow, and for the five people who celebrate it, Kwanzaa is in two days. Tonight's Code Red is an American named Stan Marsh. Born, raised, and living in South Park, Colorado, Stanley is considering terminating his life. Obviously, God would rather not have another suicide at the holidays, mainly because it kills the Old Man's celebratory spirit. That's why you three are here. The plan of action is to confront him at this point in time and do whatever is necessary, within protocol, to turn him from this course of action."

"Question, sir," the small one asked. "What's driving him to self-destruction?"

"Girl trouble," Joseph said with a disgruntled roll of his eyes. "She's been on the naughty list for seven years; sleeps around, verbally abuses him, and finally just decided to give it up and threw him out. He, of course, is hopelessly devoted to her and feels that his life is over."

"Moron," Fat One scoffed. "No wonder there's been an increase in gay sex over the last three decades. Men are so much easier to deal with than women." Everyone else in the room stared at him with raised eyebrows.

"Anyway. Funny that you should mention that...through his utter devotion to the Damned woman, he's ignored the romantic interests of another, one that the Cupid Bureau agrees is a better match than her. If possible, your secondary objective is to get him to realize this."

"Yes sir," all three replied.

"You'll be translocated in three minutes. Don't mess this up, you three," Gabriel announced. "Or you don't get any of Jesus' cake!"

The Fat One grumbled, glaring at the other two promising retribution should he be denied cake.

Stan Marsh no longer believed in Christmas miracles. He had reached the conclusion that all the garbage that the TV fed the public during this time of year about love and warmth and amazing holiday miracles was all hogwash. All he knew this year was stabbing, unimaginable pain. It had started in the area where his heart had once been, right about the time that Wendy, his on again-off again girlfriend of seven years, finally declared that their relationship was doomed to failure and that it was "over for good". The pain had accelerated in the twenty-four hours since that point until it felt like his entire body was aching all over.

Pain like this isn't supposed to exist at this time of year.

It was Christmas Eve, though you definitely couldn't tell by looking at him. Any Christmas spirit that he'd once had had been completely sucked out of him, and all that showed on his face was a perpetual frown that spoke of his intense desire to die. Even those who really didn't know Stan all that well (and there weren't many considering the size of the town he lived in) could tell that he was a man contemplating throwing himself off of the nearest bridge. Some even considered stopping to ask if he was okay, but decided that Christmas would provide it's own miracle, just like it did for George Bailey. With so many seasonal miracles in the air, why was it necessary for them to pause in the middle of their last minute shopping to poke into another's business? It wouldn't serve a purpose and they could miss out on some really great deals.

He walked by a group of carolers singing God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen and stopped for a moment to listen. There was a Salvation Army Santa standing there next to them, though it looked to Stan like he'd much rather be doing something else. His face was slack and his eyes were clouded over and his arm was moving purely on autopilot. Every now and then he droned out a lifeless "Help the needy" or "Merry Christmas" that would have sounded more authentic coming from Microsoft Sam. He was obviously lost in some daydream, probably on a beach in Maui with a naked Samoan girl.

"Here, man," Stan said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a dollar bill as well as a handfull of pennies and nickels.

"Thank you," the Santa said, not even taking the time to look at Stan. "Merry Christmas."

"Yeah, sure," Stan replied, shoving his hands into his coat pockets and turning to walk off. "Merry Christmas."

He wasn't sure why he did it. The thought in his mind at the time was that karma sometimes needs a helping hand. Hey, maybe he'd please some god somewhere and Wendy would suddenly have a change of her cold black heart and take him back, though he doubted it. Christmas miracles were bullshit. God helped those who helped themselves.

He pulled his jacket closer to his body to fight the bitter cold wind and walked on.


The black-haired boy hadn't noticed Fat One standing beside the carolers, or perhaps he simply hadn't cared. Whatever the case, as Shorty and Oldie joined him, he did not look pleased at all for being there.

"I'd forgotten how much I hated winter," he groused, blowing warm air into his hands. "That's our guy, in the tan windbreaker."

"OK, so now we corner him and start our spiel?" Shorty asked. He was the most junior of the three, and hadn't done a lot of field work.

"No, we wait for him to get back home. The dossier Peter gave us told us he's already bought what he's going to use to off himself, and we're not allowed to intervene until just before he does it. Didn't you ever watch It's A Wonderful Life, kid?" Oldie asked. He'd "appropriated" a winter coat and hat from a store down the block.

"Of course I watched that stupid movie. Who hasn't?"

"Then you remember Clarence didn't intervene until George was about to jump off the bridge, right?" Fat One asked.

"Yeah. Oh, I see what you're getting at," Shorty said. "Well then, shouldn't we follow him?"

"We already know where he's going. Burger Hut, for a cheeseburger, no pickles, and then home to kill himself. Really horrible timing, choosing to die the day before Christmas. What the hell do you expect people to do with your presents?" Fat One asked, waddling away from the street choir in the general direction Stan Marsh had gone off in. Shorty and Oldie followed, wondering just who'd put Fat One in charge. Oldie was the Senior Field Agent, and while Fat One had an excellent track record in talk-downs, Oldie had been doing this since before he'd even been born.

"Where are you going?" Shorty called, running to catch up.

"His house. And that asshole'd better not have had his heat turned off, I'm freezing my dead balls off."

Shorty and Oldie both let out exasperated sighs that showed up as large puffs of smoke in the cold Colorado air before heading in the direction of Burger Hut. It wouldn't look good for any of their records if their target threw himself in front of a car on their watch. They'd be considered lucky to draw Africa duty if a high-profile case like this went awry.


Stan sat down at his favorite booth and pulled up the top bun of his burger. He'd asked for no pickles, but of course the nasty green spheres were on there anyway, just as he knew they would be. He peeled them off with disgust and put them aside. He was tempted to go complain and possibly get a coupon for free grub on a future visit, but there really weren't going to be any future visits for him, and he didn't think making someone else's day miserable as his last act on Earth was really a good way to go out. He was already having enough troubles ignoring that small part of him that seemed to want to continually remind him of Father Maxi's words: all suicides get a one-way, irrevocable ticket straight to hell.

"Maybe they make exceptions," he mumbled to himself. "Maybe they're more understanding up there than people like Maxi say they are."

He certainly hoped so. He really didn't relish the idea of sharing a room in hell with Eric Cartman for all of eternity, though Kenny did say that Satan gave one hell of a luau.

"Least I've got something to look forward to, no matter what happens."

He put his sandwich back together and was just about to start eating when he noticed two guys, one very short and one very old, sitting across the restaurant staring at him. They were trying to look inconspicuous about it, and the old guy was definitely ordering the short one to quit looking over his shoulder. God, what if they were a gay couple or something? What if they approached him wanting him to be in their twisted orgy? That kind of crap he definitely didn't need on his last day. He started eating his meal, pretending like he didn't see them.

He turned his attention to the window and looked out at the gently falling snow. God, if there was one thing he'd never gotten sick of, it was snow. He'd always loved it. He and his friends used to run outside after school in their elementary days and try to catch the flakes on their tongues. His best friend Kyle sometimes caught grief for doing so, considering he was a Jew and, in their preteen opinions, it was illegal for Jews to eat Christmas snow.

God, what a simpler time that was. Why do things get so damn complicated when you grow up?

He thought about Kyle then. Kyle was such a kind and understanding soul. Kyle had always been there to catch him whenever he fell. Anytime things went wrong, Stan knew he could count on his best friend to help pick up the pieces. During this last ordeal, after Wendy had declared them "hopeless" and told him that he needed something she could never provide, Kyle had held him for over an hour while he cried.

"Why does she do this?" Stan asked him through his sobs.

"Because she's a cold-hearted bitch, Stan," Kyle replied. "She's done this to you countless times over the years. She's flirted with other guys in front of your face, dumped you for others, and generally treated you like garbage. Only a true bitch could do something so heartless."

"It hurts so bad," Stan cried into his chest.

"I know," Kyle replied. "I know it hurts, but everything's going to be okay, I promise. You'll get through this."

It made Stan happy and sad all at the same time to think about Kyle. He didn't deserve a friend like him. He was so smart and talented and giving, and Stan was...well, in his opinion he was unworthy.


At least he'd managed to get Shorty to quit staring. Oldie was inclined to give his younger colleague a break, since he'd barely passed Surveillance, but the subject had noticed, and that was simply unacceptable. Instead, he'd sent the short agent off to get a burger while he surveilled Stan Marsh himself. He watched while he turned his attention to the gently-falling snow, Christmas snow, and he'd noticed the far-away look in the young man's eyes indicating he was deep in thought about something or other.

"This may not be so difficult after all," he mused to Shorty as he brought back the burgers. "As long as we can get him to come out to himself, there should be no problem convincing him to remain alive."

"Come out to himself?" Shorty questioned, and Oldie pulled out the old-fashioned file-folder containing the dossier on their subject.

"This best friend of his, Kyle Broflovski - Polish-descended Jew, but that's not our concern - has had a hard-on for Mr. Marsh for at least nine years," Oldie told Shorty, pointing out the appropriate section.

"Is he who Joseph was talking about, that Marsh is more compatible with?" Shorty asked, and Oldie nodded. "Yeah but, this guy's Catholic."

"And yet he's seriously considering suicide. Obviously his faith is somewhat more malleable than a fundamentalist's would be. If he can step away from Catholicism long enough to kick away the chair, or swallow the pills, or move the knife, or whatever he's planning, why can't he step away from it long enough to admit to himself maybe getting on his knees or bending over for Mr. Broflovski wouldn't be so bad?"

"Whatever you say, Oldie," Shorty said. He was from the Bronx, Italian descent. Homosexuality would be a touchy subject with him, and Oldie made the decision then and there that Shorty wouldn't be handling the parts of the approach that would deal with convincing Mr. Marsh of his innermost desires.

"So, what do you say to you heading over to his place and making sure Fatso hasn't trashed the place? I'll stay here and tail him."

"Sure thing, sir," Shorty said. "I'll see if he's found the tool yet, too. There's a map included in that thing, right?" he asked. Oldie nodded, and was unimpressed with Shorty pulling out a PDA and pulling up a digital version of the map.

"See you in twenty, boss," Shorty said, sketching off a salute and heading out of the Burger Hut.

"Damn rookie," Oldie mumbled.


Fat One was raiding the refrigerator when Shorty came in the front door. Fat One turned in surprise, thinking that maybe one of the mortals had come home early and busted him. He sighed in relief to see his co-agent, then scowled at him and went back to making his sandwich.

"You realize we aren't here to eat, right?" Shorty asked.

"You realize you look like a greaser, right?" Fat One shot back in response.

"I thought you were here to scout the place for whatever he's planning to use to off himself!"

Fat One breezed past him and settled his oversized ass into one of the kitchen chairs without so much as a word.

"How the hell did you get into heaven anyway?"

"How did you?"

Shorty was losing his patience. They didn't have time for this.

"Look, I'm gonna go look upstairs for some instrument of self-destruction, like needles or rope or something like that. If I do that, do you think you can keep a lookout down here and not let anybody catch me?"

"I could do that," Fat One said, "but it would be pointless. I already found his death toy. A straight razor, and a damn nice one too. Looks like it could cut through cement. I bet he spent over a hundred dollars on that thing."

To emphasize the point, he pulled it out of his pocket and threw it onto the table. It's blade gave off a sinister glow in the light, and Shorty had to agree that it looked like it cost a pretty penny. Whatever reasons Stan had in his head to justify his suicide, he obviously wanted to do it with style. No disposable Bic razor for him. This one was a Sweeney Todd all the way.

"Are we supposed to move crucial items like that?"

"Technically, we're not supposed to do a lot of things, but when you go through enough of these Code Reds, you realize that sometimes you have to do what needs to be done."

"Oldie isn't going to like it."

As if on cue, Oldie walked in the door at that exact moment and stopped dead in his tracks at the sight of them.

"What the hell is going on here?" he demanded. "Why are you stuffing your face, and is that the suicide device?!"

"Maybe," Fat One mumbled over his sandwich.


"I tried to tell him, boss," Shorty explained.

"Put it back, for God's sake! Put. It. Back! Marsh is coming home, and he'll be here in about three minutes. If he can't find that razor, or if he catches any of us, our mission is completely compromised."

Fat One rolled his eyes and got slowly to his feet. He stomped up the stairs, mumbling something ugly about old people not being any easier to handle after they're dead than when they're alive. Oldie grabbed Shorty and they ducked into a nearby closet just as the front door opened again and Stan came in.


Stan was by no means an idiot. He knew when there were things where they didn't belong, when things had been moved, and when there were things sitting in places where there had been no things before. The fact that there was all of a sudden a full Dagwood sandwich sitting on a plate on his kitchen table, a scrap of clothing sticking out of one of his closets, and a trail of crumbs leading up his stairs.

"Oh this is fucking fantastic. I come home to kill myself and I find myself in the middle of an amateur burglary. Jesus Christ," he muttered to himself, leaving the sandwich on the kitchen table and walking upstairs. "Maybe the jackass'll have a weapon and just kill me, so I can go to Heaven, wear my robe and play my harp."

Even so, he cautiously looked both ways at the upstairs hallway. None of the doors upstairs were any different from the way he'd left them, which meant that the burglar was hiding behind one of them. So long as he wasn't hiding in the bathroom, Stan was perfectly alright with it. He wasn't going to need any of his stuff in a few minutes anyway, he mused darkly as he walked into the bathroom and plucked the straight razor out of its spot in the medicine cabinet.

He'd written the note on his burger wrapper and left it in his pocket. When the cops or paramedics inventoried his belongings, they would find it and class it as a suicide, assuming the were dumb enough to think that a murderer would slash his wrists open. Turning on the tap, to prevent the blood from staning the sink too badly and damaging the resale value, he held the razor to his left wrist and hesitated as the bathroom door creaked open behind him.

"I really wouldn't do that, if I were you," a voice said, and Stan looked up to his mirror to see an tall, old man, a short greaser, and a tub of lard that Stan couldn't help but compare to Cartman standing in the doorway.

"You guys are really shitty burglars, you know that?" Stan asked in reply. "If you're just looking to avoid getting pegged for my murder on top of burglary charges for whatever you're gonna steal, don't worry, I've got a suicide note in my pocket..."

"We're not burglars, douchebag," the fat one said, earning him a sharp elbow to the space in-between his mantits by the old one's sharp elbow. He reached into his coat pocket and held out a wallet, opening it up to show a golden badge.

"SPU, Mr. Marsh. We'd like to talk to you." This piqued Stan's interest. He set down the razor and turned off the tap, turning around to face the three of them.

"SPU?" He didn't know of any group or agency with that acronym. "Did I hear that right?"

"Yes. SPU, not SVU, you didn't walk into a taping of Law and Order," the greaser said.

"Hey, wait a minute. I saw you two," Stan said, pointing to the old man and the greaser, "in Burger Hut."

"We'll explain it all downstairs," the elderly man, clearly the senior amongst them in more ways than one. "If you don't mind?"

Stan stepped out into the hall with them. "Sure. Why not?"


Oldie looked down at Stan, sitting apprehensively on the couch. He kept casting his eyes about from Fat One, to Shorty, to him, and back to Fat One. Over and over again he did this, giving away the fact that he was more than a little scared, though Oldie couldn't figure out why. What did he have to fear from them? Surely if Stan Marsh was as determined to end his life as he liked to believe he was, then nothing the three of them could do to him could really be all that bad? The worst they could do (as far as Stan knew) was kill him.

"I'm gonna go out on a limb here," Stan said dryly, looking at Fat One, "and say that you're the one who left the ridiculously large sandwich on my table, and the crumbs on my stairs?"

Fat One sniffed indignantly and kept silent.

"This isn't the time to make fun, Mr. Marsh," Oldie said. "We're here on very important business."

"Who are you three?" Stan asked, trying to look bold and failing miserably. "My first guess would be the Three Stooges, but they're all dead."

"So are we," Shorty said, handing Stan his badge. Stan took it cautiously, as though it might explode in his hand. Written on the glossy surface, in letters that seemed to glow with a light all their own, was the following description:



Stan looked at it several times, then busted out laughing as though he'd never laughed before. The three looked at each other in confusion.

"Ey! What's so damn funny?" Fat One asked.

"'Trained in the art of divine intervention'?" Stan cried around his laughter. "Oh, you guys are too much. What is this, Punk'd? Where's Ashton Kutcher?"

Oldie was not amused.

"This isn't funny, Mr. Marsh," he said. "We're really here to keep you from killing yourself. We were sent here by Gabriel and the apostle Peter..."

"Peter?" Stan scoffed. "Tell me, is it really possible to rob Peter without paying Paul?"

Even Fat One laughed at this one, which earned him a black look from Oldie. There would be hell to pay for this later. Oldie might even see if he could get Fat One's badge taken away after the way he'd behaved on this mission.

"It's true!" Shorty cried. "We've got it all here in your file!"

He went to hand the manilla folder to Stan, but Oldie quickly snatched it from his hand.

"No!" Oldie cried. "Mortals are not allowed to see their files. Those are classified!"

"You know," Stan said, rising to his feet, "I've really seen enough. If you three morons are really supposed to be some kind of divine intervention sent on my behalf, I'll be sure to let them know how lousy you guys are at it when I get to the afterlife in about five minutes or so. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a date with a straight razor. Take whatever you like. You know where the door is."

With that, he turned and walked back toward the stairs, leaving the three bumbling SPU agents by themselves.


"You two stay here, and don't move," Oldie growled at the two younger Agents, rising from the couch and chasing after Stan.

"Oh fuck, just let me die, will you?" Stan asked, exasperated. Oldie knew that protocol demanded that he not touch the suicide device. But damnit, he wasn't going to let this mission fail just because he'd been assigned to work with two junior agents that had the teamwork skills of oil and water. He walked purposefully into the bathroom, pinned Stan to the sink, and ripped the straight razor from his hand, turning around and throwing it with such force that it stuck fast into the plaster of Stan's hallway.

"What the Hell are you doing you old coot?" Stan asked, shocked. And a little revolted, because Oldie smelled like a nursing home.

"Look, Mr. Marsh. You may not believe what my colleagues and I were sent here to do, but I don't appreciate being laughed out of a room. I've been an SPU Agent since before your parents first drew breath, and I've never been treated so rudely as I have by you so far."

Stan rolled his eyes. He was quite used to being castigated by old people.

"I apologize sincerely for my colleagues. The Fat One is a good negotiator, but a bad habit of piling up violations of the rules we swear to abide by when we accept postings as Agents. I honestly think I can get him removed after this assignment. And the short one, well, what can I say, he's new. But believe me when I say that we were dispatched from SPU, in force, on direct request from God. You've met the Big Guy a couple times before, as I saw in your file, and I think you know His nature well enough to know that He doesn't look too kindly upon Suicides during the holidays."

"It's not like He gives a shit about me," Stan replied. "I mean, if God cared about my wants and needs, why did Wendy break up with me, and cheat on me, and ruin my life?"

"She's been marked as Hellbound for the last five years. You're absolutely right that you don't deserve the treatment you recieved from her, but she will get her just desserts. Unfortunately, since the Romans and Jews killed Jesus, He's kind of ... well, sworn off direct celestial intervention. He doesn't really get involved with Mortal affairs anymore. That's why SPU was founded, to act as Agents of God's Will in these matters."

"So...you want me to believe you're like ... God's FBI?"

"Well, HRT," Oldie said. "Except the hostage is the soul, not others, and I don't have assault rifles and body armor."

"And I'm assuming you typically work alone?"

"Sometimes with a partner, but the last time I had a solid partner was...oh, ten, twenty years ago. He transferred to the Cupid Bureau, spends his days matchmaking. But I think sending three agents to try and talk down someone is unprecendented. At least, outside of trying to talk down the Pope."

"You've had to prevent Popes from killing themselves?"

"A couple. Well, not me personally, but SPU as an agency, yes. It's a very stressful job, the papacy," Oldie said.

"I'm getting an It's A Wonderful Life vibe," Stan said. "A guy attempting suicide on Christmas Eve, with celestial beings coming down to try and stop him..."

"The similarity isn't lost on me," Oldie said. "My SPU instructor was actually the inspiration for Clarence. And Joseph...well, he's real. He's one of the ones who assigned us. Along with St. Peter and Archangel Gabriel. I know it may be hard for you to accept, but... well, honestly, do you think I'd be hanging around those two jokers if I weren't telling the truth?"

"So what happens now?" Stan asked. He wasn't sure he really believed any of this yet, but the old man seemed sincere enough, and he figured if he played along, it would all be over a lot sooner.

"That depends on you, Stan."

"What do you mean?" Stan responded. "Isn't this the part where you show me what my life would be like if I'd never been born?"

"I don't do schtick," Oldie said.


Downstairs, Fat One and Shorty were sitting silently in the front room. They hadn't spoken a word, either to each other or otherwise, since Oldie had followed Stan upstairs. They knew they'd fucked up pretty bad. Shorty was new, and wasn't sure exactly how severely such incompetence would be punished. He envisioned himself being punished by being forced shovel out all of the heavenly stables. Considering how many horses they had up there, he'd be shoveling shit long after Stan Marsh's great-grandchildren were rotting away in nursing homes.

Fat One, on the other hand, wasn't worried at all. He had pull with the higher ups and wasn't really worried about being stripped of his badge. He was more focused on devouring the sandwich he'd assembled earlier. He knew the other two wouldn't like it, seeing as that "wasn't what they were there to do", but he figured wasting food was considered a great enough sin that he needed to do his part to prevent it. He knew Stan certainly wouldn't eat the big Dagwood. He'd just throw it in the garbage or feed it to his geriatric dog Sparky. Fat One figured that as an licensed agent of God, he needed to do his part to prevent such things from happening.

"Gluttony is a sin," Shorty said.

"So is being a greaseball," Fat One replied.

"You know, I---"

A sudden knock on the door caused them both to freeze. Fat One's sandwich fell from his hands and scattered all over the floor, but for once he barely noticed.

"What the hell is going on?" he asked. "The file didn't say anything about a visitor."

"I guess this is the person who would have found Stan if we hadn't intervened."

"Do we answer?"

"How the hell do I know?"

"Maybe we should lock the door?"

"Oh like they wouldn't notice that!"

They looked at each other, their eyes wide as saucers. Neither of them could remember what protocol said about stuff like this, or even if it said anything at all.


Oldie heard the knock from downstairs and swore under his breath.

"We haven't got time!" he groaned. "Just take my hand. We'll have to do this the Dickens way."

"I thought you didn't do schtick?" Stan replied, reaching out slowly.

"I don't when I have a fucking choice."

IV, V, and VI will be up on Christmas Eve.