For Gentlemen Only
Chapter One: Call the Police
Stan Marsh is ready for a change. He just doesn't know what it is yet. Craig really – and he means really – doesn't care about all of this high school drama bullshit.
It wasn't a rainy day, Sunday, some stupid ass holiday, or Randomly-Inspirational-Guest-Speaker-in-Psychology Day. No school sponsored social events coming up, football wasn't particularly hard or easy at the moment, and even the usual craziness in South Park wasn't interfering. The point is it was a Thursday morning in November when Stan Marsh found himself leaning up against his locker watching Wendy Testaburger approaching him in what he dubbed as her Catholic School Girl Face.
He took a deep breath and gave her only the slightest of smiles to which she naturally beamed right back at him. Immaculately pressed pleated skirt, polo, and a pair of Mary Janes – check. She only wore this outfit when it was time to break up. If Stan had even bothered to keep up with the count after the Spring Fling of freshman year… yeah, he had no idea how many times this had happened. As randomly as their break-ups appeared to happen Stan wasn't ignorant to the fact that a pattern established itself long ago. Once it was over with Wendy there would be a couple of weeks with Red. Red would then get infuriatingly annoying and Millie would come along until a month later when Stan got bored and decided to mix it up with either Holly or Annie.
It never came to sex, no matter how long the cycle went on or the innuendo his teammates took it upon themselves to insinuate. He knew it was kind of a dick move to not make any effort to set them straight, which had actually caused a few break-ups in the past. Frankly, he didn't care and it was very obvious deep inside his gut as Wendy finally got to his locker and placed a hand on his shoulder that this was the start of a much deeper issue.
"Hey, Stan," she chimed and avoided direct eye contact. "We need to talk."
"Yeah," he mentally laughed to himself. You aren't fooling anyone.
"We've been trying to make it work again and," she blinked and tucked some of her hair behind her ears, "it just isn't working out. You know?"
Glancing over her shoulder, Stan spied Red peeking at them from behind her locker door. Passing her in the hall, Millie and Annie eyed the scene surveying the redundant cues that their turn was coming up. Stan sighed yet still managed to keep his smile on his face, impressing even himself. "I know."
"Great," Wendy finally looked him in the eye. We're just going round and round. "I'm glad you understand."
"I've always understood," he found himself saying before he could stop himself. "In fact, this is so expected it's almost enough to make me laugh."
She furrowed her brows at the same time traffic came to a complete halt around them. "What was that, Stanley?"
"Did you know that we 'try again' every five months?"
She let out a short laugh and looked around nervously. "Oh?"
"Yeah, and frankly I'm getting a little sick of it."
She had the nerve to look genuinely taken aback which momentarily made Stan feel like the biggest jack ass in the history of ever.
"Listen," he stood away from his locker and dropped his smile. "You're great, the girl after you is great, and the one after her is too. Don't – " he raised a finger before she could start some indignant protest " – start trying to deny you didn't know I went with others after you. What I'm trying to say is that I'm sick of the routine."
Wendy looked around to the other equally baffled girls. They all wore identical looks of hurtful surprise.
"What are you trying to say, Stan?"
He calmly looked at each one of the girls before returning to Wendy.
"I'm trying to say that this break up is the last one," he looked across at all the other girls now crowding nearby Red's locker. "And I won't be going to anyone else. At least not for a while."
He let the hissing wave of murmurs and groups of gossiping girls roll off his shoulders as he collected his books for his first couple of class periods. When he had shut his locker door Wendy came in real close.
"If you aren't going to keep up your multitude of girls you shack up with," she hissed, "what other option do you have?"
Stan smiled at her and tucked his pencil behind his right ear.
"I'm going to try being on my own for a while. See what happens."
Wendy huffed and crossed her arms as he began to walk away. "Like that'll last, Stan. You're no different from all the other jocks at this shithole of a school."
"Maybe its time to be a bit of an innovator," he shrugged before turning on his heels and heading towards his first class of the day. The halls were filled with conversations about his and Wendy's break up and Stan really wished that the students of Park County High School had something better to talk about.
"Dude," Kyle appeared in front of him just before he got to the math hall. His hair was wind whipped looking like he just hauled ass from the student parking lot to intercept Stan before class.
"Okay," Stan was genuinely frustrated at this point. "How the hell did it spread to the parking lot already? We fucking broke up less than five minutes ago."
Kyle waved his hand dismissively in Stan's direction. "That's not it. What's this about you saying the entire female population at this school isn't good enough for you?"
Stan squint his eyes and laughed in disbelief. "What the hell? I didn't say that exactly."
"But in so many words?" Kyle raised an eyebrow.
"Since when did you start caring about social protocols?"
"Let's see," he mockingly tapped his lips in thought, "since my super best friend, the super best football athlete, just ousted himself as a whore?"
"Who uses the word 'oust' anymore?"
"Focus, Stan," Kyle sighed in exasperation. "Listen, is there anything I can do?"
"Do? Like what?"
Kyle shrugged. "Like talking to Wendy. You know, help with some damage control."
Stan was starting to feel annoyed. "Okay, I know I'm not super smart like you Mr. First-in-Class but what exactly is this damage that needs to be controlled?"
Kyle glared at him. "You're telling me you don't care that all the girls are passing us by, right now as we speak, glaring daggers at you and calling you a trashy woman hater?"
Stan laughed loudly. "Trashy. A woman hater. Nice."
"Stan," Kyle hissed.
"Right, right," Stan held up his free hand in defense. "I don't care what they call me, Kyle. It's fine. I'm just tired of dating a girl, breaking up with her, then going for another one, then another."
"You're a teenager and there are slim pickings here," Kyle blinked.
"Right, but I keep going in a pattern. Haven't you noticed?"
Kyle nodded. "Of course, I'm not stupid. But is it okay? Really okay to… abstain?"
Stan laughed again. "Yes, Kyle. I just want to take some time to focus on other stuff. Mom and Dad keep hinting that it's time to get ready for college. Coach wants me to step up in football. There are other things going on. I don't need a girlfriend."
Kyle nodded along as Stan listed his reasons until the last part. He screwed up his face and shook his head.
"You don't need a girlfriend? Are you sure you aren't sick?"
Stan sighed and waited for the shock on Kyle's face to fade.
"Is it really so bad of an idea, Kyle? Aren't you always teasing me to focus on school instead of skirts?"
"Whose skirts are we focusing on," Kenny jumped on Stan's back almost causing him to topple over face first. "Frankly, I am loving the one Bebe is wearing today. Fucking hot mini skirt."
"She'll get called to the office for being out of dress code, just you watch it," Kyle crossed his arms.
"Oh, I'll be watching," Kenny made some rude noises and wriggled around obscenely on Stan's back causing him to be unceremoniously dropped on the linoleum floor. "Ouch, someone's being a bitch today. And for a bitch hater that's something else."
Stan groaned in frustration, looking to Kyle for support only to get one of his super best friend's Adult Faces. Stan was starting to hate all these faces.
"Look, I'm done with the cycle so I'm going stag for a while. That's not a bad thing," Stan looked meaningfully at Kyle. "Now if you'll excuse me I have class."
Stan looked back at Kyle and Kenny as he made his way into his math class. Only a few students were in the classroom at this hour and he quickly made his way to his seat right in front of Craig Tucker. They nodded to each other as Stan sat down and settled in for an hour and a half of equations. The bell wasn't even scheduled to ring for another ten minutes but Stan didn't think he could stand there in the middle of the hall and defend himself to his friends.
They were his friends; he shouldn't have to defend himself. The frustrating part was that Kyle didn't even ask him why. He only wanted to know if it was okay for him to behave like this. If Kyle had asked him why, did Stan really have an answer? He was tired of the circus, sure. That was pretty obvious. But maybe it was a little more than that. He noticed that it was only the same few girls he kept dating. He wasn't interested in any of the few others there were floating around that he still hadn't asked out. He had a policy of not asking out Bebe mostly because of her reputation, but they had made out at a few parties in the past.
Why did he even do that? He was beginning to think it was peer pressure. He just asked a girl out when his father, mother, or friend asked "You seeing anyone lately?" He flipped open his notebook to the back and sketched a quick chart.
Wendy. Why did he keep going to Wendy? She was friendly. She almost always did his homework when he didn't care or was too wrapped up in practice. But she was also clingy, constantly wanting him to input his opinions in conversations that he didn't really care about, and the past few times had become physically aggressive. He had heard rumors about her and Token and it was looking like it was true about them hooking up after South Park's Fourth of July festivities.
Red. Why did he go to Red? She usually lasted only two weeks and most of that was making out on her parents' couch, in the parking lot, or between breaks at games. When she began insisting he meet her parents that was usually the cue to end things.
Millie just liked being paraded around school on his arm. She was kind of a prude in public and private unless they were at a party then she had the second loosest set of lips in the entire school (Bebe was first.) That was usually what disgusted him so badly about her and caused him to break it off.
Holly was all right. She was more of a locker-sharer, sit at their own table during lunch, and borrow the parents' car to drive out to Denver for shopping. Stan more often than not found himself incredibly bored with her and broke it up pretty quickly unless his mother started up the "She's such a nice girl" routine.
Annie was a bit different. She wanted Stan to just be around her and no one else. She would call at the worst possible moments, random times during the night, and sob uncontrollably when he stopped ignoring her. He kind of thought of her as a stalker but she was perfect for keeping other girls at bay. Annie tended to try to scratch other girls' eyes out when they were together.
The table was getting a little out of hand as he filled out a list of attributes he liked and didn't about each girl he had dated until he realized something was missing.
"None of them are attractive," he murmured under his breath.
"What was that, Mr. Marsh?"
Stan looked up, startled to see that class had already begun and apparently some time ago. Half the class and their teacher were all looking at him, the chalkboard full of math problems.
"Oh, I… sorry for interrupting." He looked down at his notebook without really seeing what he had written. For the rest of the class period he pondered over his realization while only half listening to the lesson.
He didn't find a single one of the girls in his grade or school attractive and Stan was a little baffled over what that meant.
A man's worth can be measured in the amount of friends he has. Craig Tucker has a lot of these so called friends, but lately they all had been hanging out together more often which made Craig feel slightly suffocated. As soon as he got to school he headed to his locker to empty the contents of his messenger bag and pull out the books he needed for the first couple of periods. Clyde, Token, and Tweek were approaching from one side and Kevin the other.
Great, Craig thought, I'm surrounded.
"Hey, Craig," Clyde grinned. "You just missed the recent Testaburger-Marsh break up."
"So today's Thursday," Craig mumbled aloud and reached for his Trig book.
Token, Clyde, and Kevin laughed thinking Craig was making a joke. Tweek fidgeted with the straps of his backpack. "Oh man, it went differently this time. I was freaking out!"
"Right," Clyde snapped his fingers, "usually she wears that one outfit with the skirt and polo to break up with him then Red swoops in and the next thing you know its PDA city for two and a half weeks. But this time he basically tells the whole female student population to fuck off."
Craig stuffed his things back into his messenger bag and closed his locker door. "Oh."
Kevin laughed, taking Craig's none-too-subtle tone to fuck off as passing interest in the latest gossip. "Right, so now all the girls are grouping up and grumbling because Stan Marsh wants to go stag for a while. Ridiculous, huh?" Kevin shook his head.
Craig hung his bag around his shoulder and shrugged before heading off to his first period Trig class. The others filed in a cluster around him talking about the news and laughing with other students passing by asking "Did you hear?" Craig really didn't give a fuck one way or another. His friends all broke off when he reached his first class with a "See you later" as he entered the room.
More of the hallway buzz bounced around the room as students grouped together. They kept stealing glances at Stan Marsh standing just outside in the hallway with his friends and whispering behind their hands. Craig mentally sighed and steadily made his way to his seat. I swear to God, if one person even thinks of getting me to pass a note today I'll break their neck. Detention be damned, he thought as he took his seat. He had just gotten his notebook and book out when Stan Marsh walked into the room and made a beeline for his seat directly in front of him. The football player nodded in greeting which Craig reciprocated.
They had always been like that since middle school. Craig did his best to keep to himself and out of the focus of his fellow students. It was extremely difficult when you had friends like Clyde Donovan and Token Black, however. Clyde was on the football team with Stan and a surprisingly good player too. Clyde was also a natural crowd pleaser and somewhere along the way to high school he and Token had established themselves in the same light Stan and Kyle Broflovski did. Kevin was involved in various activities and Tweek has always been infamous for his quirkiness.
Craig wasn't sure if his friends really knew it or not but he just did not give a fuck about who was dating who, who got busted at the last party for underage drinking, or what horrible betrayal was inflicted between two friends. Usually it was over a girl. Usually it was stupid, old, and a cliché. Craig was sick of it. He still managed to exclude himself from pep rallies, games, and dances. He also got out of most parties. The only times he attended was to give Clyde or Kevin a ride. The only reason he did even that was because they paid for his gas in cash upfront.
Looking around the class room just as the bell rang; he noticed one of the Goth kids from North Park staring dreamily at him again. He turned his gaze back to the chalk board and dutifully opened his notebook, impassive expression permanently etched on his face. It was going to be a long day, he could already tell. The lesson wasn't all that hard, he had actually developed this habit over the past few months of working ahead through all his textbooks using homework as an excuse to see less and less of his friends. He was just ready to get the fuck out of South Park and on with the rest of his life.
Craig felt his gaze focusing less on the board and more on the back of Stan Marsh's head. Why was he always the hot topic of conversation when he and one of his stupid on-again-off-again girlfriends broke up? He wasn't jealous, just annoyed that any little thing the guy did was seen as some great gesture or original move. That Stan Marsh is so cool, they'd say when sharing stories about a weekend kegger or the game last week. Stan had been a pretty level headed kid when they were younger and didn't seem to have changed too much.
Until today, that is. Craig thought it was ridiculous how the girls were reacting. What did it matter that he didn't want any of them hanging around him all the time? The girls at their school were all ridiculously annoying to Craig. He had no idea how it was Stan could stand to be with them back to back. What did he see in them? Was their clinginess appealing? Did he like how they shared stories about their experiences with him, completely shameless of the fact he had been with them all?
"None of them are attractive," he heard Stan murmur under his breath. Craig almost feared he had asked his question out loud. It wasn't possible that he had spoken himself but he knew Stan had been thinking about the same things he was.
"What was that, Mr. Marsh?"
Stan looked startled as he addressed their teacher. "Oh, I… sorry for interrupting." He looked back down and the teacher gave him a stern look before resuming class. Craig studied the set of Stan's shoulders and felt stupid. Here he was mentally berating the student population and his friends' obsessive interest in Stan Marsh while doing his own analysis of his actions.
Fuck it, he thought. It has not a damn thing to do with me.
When the bell finally rang for dismissal Craig collected his things. His eyes almost instinctively followed as Stan walked out of the classroom. He placed both palms on the top of his desk and looked down.
It isn't any of my business, he thought. I have nothing to do with it and won't.
Craig let out a shaky breath and got up from his seat, nearly bumping into the Goth kid from North Park as he did.
"Hey," the kid said gloomily but Craig could tell he was making an effort at it.
Craig mentally groaned. Some time during freshman year the Goth kids had made him into something like their hero. He knew why but it still annoyed the shit out of him. Especially since it only got worse each year.
"Yeah," Craig responded and immediately regretted it as this came across as encouragement to speak for the kid.
"Wow, um. Whatever, we were wondering," he nodded to a few other Goth kids waiting in the hallway, looking as anxious as Goth kids could while trying to maintain their reputation. "We were wondering if we could help out or, you know, whatever on your Photography project."
Photography. That was the one thing about Park County High School that did not suck so much. Craig got to handle some serious film and photography equipment. To save on money, the Photography students shared space and funding with the Newspaper and Yearbook groups. This meant that while Craig could really explore new things through the lens, he also had to capture moments of student life for the periodicals. The teacher in charge of them understood Craig was more of a loner, so he only asked that Craig capture day to day moments of student life. It was easy for Craig, just show up once every six weeks with his camera and students just flocked to him to get their photo taken. Those days were the longest of his life, but he made a passing grade and still got to experiment with his video equipment.
"Pass," he blinked.
The kid and his friends visibly deflated.
"Thanks, though," Craig lamely added. This seemed to have softened his rejection. The Goth kids nodded or gave small smiles before waving and leaving. Craig leaned against his desk for a moment. Sometimes he surprised even himself.
"Craig, dude," Token stuck his head though the doorframe. "You coming to English?"
"Yeah," he sighed and put on his bag before heading out the door.
"Man, you should have heard Heidi in Chemistry this morning," Token laughed as they made their way towards their next class. "She and Wendy are leading some anti-Marsh coalition now or something."
Honestly, Craig thought irritably as he gazed disinterestedly ahead, I don't give a fuck.
A/N: This story has been getting worked on for a few months now. I wanted to get several chapters done first before posting and I'm there! This story is going to be a bit drawn out and take its time but I hope it'll be worth it in the end. I don't really know whether to call this a StanxCraig or CraigxStan, but frankly that doesn't matter. Anyway, hope you enjoyed!