A/N: This chapter is set when the boys' parents were in high school. In case it wasn't clear in our summary, the chapters will switch back and forth between present-day Kenny and Kyle and past Stuart and Gerald.
We don't own the characters. Thank you for reading!
Alternate A/N: This is Dawn, and Beth is my English angel.
It wasn't that Gerald wasn't accustomed to notes hitting him in the back of the head in the middle of class. Because he definitely was. His friendship with Randy Marsh just seemed to be naturally accompanied by being pelted by random objects, especially notes in class, folded up in a million different shapes and sizes. They could be sitting at the lunch table - directly across from each other - and Gerald would still occasionally find paper footballs smacking him in the nose, some ridiculous greeting scrawled across the front in Randy's chicken scratch handwriting.
So, when a crumpled-up ball of notebook paper hit him in the ear during Math class, it wasn't the fact things were being thrown at him that threw him off. It was that it was Stuart McCormick staring at him expectantly as he opened it, not Randy.
"What?" he mouthed incredulously at the dirty blonde boy, covering his ear with his hand.
Stuart, who was lounging with his feet kicked up on his desk and his trademark baseball cap turned around backwards, just raised an eyebrow at him and gestured toward the note, miming an unfolding motion with his hands. Gerald frowned down at the crumpled bit of paper that was pressed between his thumb and forefinger. It was rare for Stuart to send notes, especially in math (his designated napping period.) In fact, Stuart was normally the one telling Randy and Gerald that they were "girls" or "gay" for sending notes at all.
"Gerry," came a fervent whisper from over his shoulder. Gerald rolled his eyes, but turned around to see Randy a row back with his hands cupped around his mouth.
With a glance back at the teacher to make sure she was still facing the board, Gerald whispered back, "What, Randy?"
The mousy haired girl next to Randy turned to glare at both of them, despite the fact that she didn't have a notebook open in front of her either. "Would the two of you please shut up for once?" she snapped.
"God, Sharon, why are you always interrupting my conversations with Gerald, huh?" Randy said, turning all his attention, as usual, toward Sharon Fisher. Gerald sighed and rubbed the side of his face, tired of watching this train wreck happen every day of the week.
"Is it 'cause you're hot for me?" Randy continued, wagging his eyebrows in his ridiculous, but unfortunately usual way.
Sharon just glared at him before turning back to the board. "You're disgusting."
"I love you," Randy whispered in return, eyes wide. Sharon didn't turn around again.
"Randy, what did you want?" Gerald pressed, trying to remain conscious of the teacher's continuing lecture. Randy Marsh might have been a moron most of the time, but that moron was Gerald's best friend and he wasn't going to watch him continue to humiliate himself in front of the girl of his dreams for the rest of class.
Randy looked at Gerald as if he had forgotten the other boy existed. "What? Oh. Yeah." He turned around a little to face Gerald. "What's the note say?"
Gerald gaped at him, suddenly regretting distracting his sorry ass from certain humiliation. "I haven't even opened it yet!" he hissed.
"Well, open it and then tell me!"
"It's my note!"
Randy's face fell. "But. I want to know what you guys are talking about."
"Mr. Broflovski!" came a shriek from behind him. Gerald winced and slowly turned around to meet his teacher's very unamused face. She arched a bushy eyebrow at him before asking, "Would you care to tell the class what you and Mr. Marsh find so much more interesting than my lecture?"
Gerald quickly stuffed the note under his thigh. He didn't know what it read, but he was assuming it probably wouldn't make for the best oral presentation.
"Or would you rather tell me in an after school detention?"
"We... we weren't doing anything, Miss Gagsoncok. Randy was just confused, I was helping him."
She gave him a disbelieving look, her lips pressed in a thin irritated line. "Just continue with your work, Mr. Brovloski, and try not to disturb my lecture again." She started ranting again, and Gerald's fingers tightened around the note. The interruption had only heightened his curiosity, so much so that he was practically dying to get just a quick look at the note.
Gerald toyed with the tattered paper in his hand before unfolding it, taking his time, almost savouring the moment. Stuart rarely sent notes and when he did they were either hilariously funny or asking Gerald to do something that made him feel older than his sixteen years. He couldn't help the excitement that swelled in his stomach.
In Stuart's surprisingly neat writing were the words: "gerry - how's about we fuck after school?" There was nothing more, the rest of the page blank. The tiny black letters, written with what looked like a Sharpie pen, seemed to jump off the page in contrast to the white void around them.
Gerald's lips parted slightly in surprise, his eyes bugging in an almost cartoon-ish way. He couldn't tell if the note was a joke or if it was serious; when it came to Stuart and sex, he never could. Swallowing the lump that had formed in his throat, he turned the paper over and clicked the lid off his pen.
He wrote back with, "What? Are you high again, Stuart?", his handwriting significantly messier than usual. His hand was shaking- but he wasn't sure why. Nerves, maybe? Confusion? Anticipation? Chewing on the inside of his cheek, he threw the note back in Stuart's general direction.
"Hey. Hey, Gerry. Psst."
"Randy, shut up, okay?" Gerald whispered over his shoulder. Now that he knew the contents of the note his nerves felt raw and exposed. He was suddenly very conscious of his teacher glancing back at him suspiciously every few minutes. It was one thing to stand up in front of the class and read whatever nonsense Randy had decided to send him that day. It would probably be quite another time to do a dramatic reading of Stuart's request for sex.
"Gerry!" Randy whined, throwing a balled up piece of paper at him. "Don't be a dick."
Gerald's fingers curled around his pencil. His already somewhat short temper had frayed from the nerves and the apprehension that had come along with Stuart's note and Randy's persistent whining wasn't making it any better. He glanced over at Stuart to see that he was still lounging, looking completely relaxed as he scrawled a response across the note. Gerald found himself wondering if Stuart had seen his hand shaking when he'd been writing and crossed his arms self-consciously.
'He was probably just joking,' Gerald told himself, staring hard at his desk. 'Yeah, I'm not freaking out because it was definitely a joke. Because I would freak out if it wasn't a joke. I would definitely just... freak the fuck out.'
The teacher continued to drone on at the front. The dull, monotonous tone to her voice was only causing Gerald's anxieties to worsen.
There was a cough from his left and then the note was landing at his feet. The feet of his desk scraped against the floor as he frantically moved to get it, and he just managed to grab it and shove it under his thigh again before the teacher whirled around to stare at him suspiciously. He swallowed and returned her stare, offering her an uncomfortable smile.
"Mr. Broflovski," she said slowly, eying him carefully as if she could read his mind. Gerald had a horrifying moment where he wondered if she could.
"Miss Gagsoncok," he replied, quelling his instinct to give her a thumbs up or something equally awkward and inappropriate.
She narrowed her eyes at him before turning back around with her chalk, her writing becoming a little more violent. Gerald let out the breath he'd been holding, his fingers automatically going for the note. He kept his eyes firmly on the desk in front of him, on the note, away from Stuart's obvious gaze. He wasn't sure that he could take whatever look Stuart would be throwing him. Gerald told himself his hands weren't shaking as he, once again, hastily unfolded the paper under his desk.
"dude, i'm serious. we just built a shack. let's shack up."
Both an alarming need to throw up and a sense of disbelief at Stuart's words hit Gerald at the same time, and he had to blink a couple of times to refocus his eyes. The note was cheesy- border-line pathetic- but it was so Stuart that Gerald couldn't help the smile that curved at his lips.
"Mr. Marsh!" Miss Gagsoncok finally exploded, slamming her chalk done onto her desk. She leaned heavily on her hands, which were curling around the papers littered across her desk. The look in her eyes was enough to make every student in the room turn away from their chosen distractions and stare back in shock. "Would you please tell me what is so pressing that it couldn't wait until after my lecture to be discussed?"
Randy looked caught between completely shocked and guilty, his lips parted and his eyes wide. Gerald would have laughed if it had been any other time, but unfortunately he was distracted.
"Principal's office," their teacher snapped, pointing towards the door.
Randy continued to gape at her. "But-"
"I don't care where you go! Just get out of my classroom!"
Randy's mouth opened and closed a couple of times- much like a fish out of water- before he eventually pressed his lips into a thin line. "Fine," he said, glancing at Sharon who was staring blankly past him. "I will go. I will take my punishment like the man that I am!"
Gerald groaned to himself as Randy stormed out, his papers flying and his pencils rolling onto the floor. All eyes were on Randy except for Sharon's, and Gerald almost found himself feeling sorry for the poor, love-sick guy. Almost.
Miss Gagsoncok stared at the wreckage surrounding Randy's desk, her lips so tightly pursed and her eyes so freakishly wide that Gerald was afraid she might have an aneurysm right there in the front of the classroom. Without another word, she inhaled sharply through her nose and turned on her heel, her shoes clicking menacingly against the linoleum as she stomped out, her nose held high. The door slammed closed behind her and the students were left staring at the entrance, and then each other.
"Dude," one of the junkies at the back drawled. "Does this mean... free period?"
"It sure fucking does," someone else called out. Gerald turned around to see Thomas Tucker hopping over his desk and pulling out a lighter. "Hey, dude, give me a smoke."
"Get your own, asshole!"
Gerald smiled when Sharon met his gaze and rolled her eyes before heading to the back to grab a cigarette for herself. When he turned around and looked up, Stuart was directly in front of him, casually leaning against his desk. Looking up at the lanky teenager, Gerald was suddenly and distinctly aware of his own lack of sex appeal. He tugged his yarmulke down further onto his head- almost self-consciously, hiding a little more of his dull hair from Stuart's somewhat intense stare.
"You didn't send me a note back," Stuart said, blunt and fast. Gerald blinked up at him and swallowed down the nervous lump that had formed in his throat.
"Dude, Randy and Miss Gagsoncok just had an epic battle," he pointed out, resisting the urge to reach for his hair once again. "I was a little distracted."
Stuart raised an eyebrow in disbelief. "Explain to me why you kept on glancing at my note, then, Einstein."
"Explain to me," Gerald countered, surprising himself with his ability to articulate in such a situation. "Why you're asking your male best friend for... sex. I guess."
"I'm curious," Stuart said, as if it should have been obvious.
Gerald tried to tell himself that that particular sentence wasn't the last thing he wanted to hear. He couldn't say he knew what he was hoping to hear instead. He'd definitely wanted something more particular, more precise. Stuart's vague, almost empty answer had left him wanting something more. Something bigger. With a strong sense of determination and a slightly shaking hand he gripped onto the front of Stuart's jacket and pulled him down to his eye level.
"Explain to me properly."
Stuart just grinned at him and shrugged. "I think it'd be cool." He pulled himself away from Gerald's firm grip. "'Sides, your ass is better than nearly everyone else's in this lame town."
"My... my ass?" Gerald blinked at him and curled his fingers back up and into his lap.
"We're friends, dude, but I'm not exactly after you for your brain."
"Dude! I'm not even gay."
That word seemed to trigger something is Stuart, and suddenly the flirtatious smile fell from his face, his nose wrinkling in distaste. "What? Christ, dude, neither am I!" His eyes darted around the room, his expression a mixture of disgust and horror, and suddenly Gerald was feeling lower than the dirt that seemed permanently smudged across Stuart's surprisingly high cheekbone.
"But I thought you wanted-"
Stuart cut him off with a stern look. "Come on, Gerry, it'd just be, like... experimenting or some shit. We're not fags."
With both his heart and nerves twisted into knots, Gerald lowered his eyes to the table. He had no idea on how he was supposed to respond, what he was supposed to do, how he was supposed to react. He was lost and he doubted anyone would offer to help him. Especially Stuart.
"So," Stuart said impatiently. He looked much less friendly than he did when he first walked over, which didn't do anything to assuage Gerald's anxiety. He barely recognized the deep scowl on his friend's face, having a hard time connecting it to the boy he'd spent the past three weeks building a fort with.
Stuart grumbled a little and fell back away from Gerald. "Look, are you alright man? You look pale and shit."
Gerald looked up into Stuart's dark blue eyes, but he didn't see any real concern, just impatience and a little bit of boredom. Taking a steadying breath, Gerald nodded and straightened his shoulders a bit, almost as if he was trying to make himself appear bigger than he really was.
"Yeah, okay," Gerald said, managing to keep his voice steady even as his gut twisted uncomfortably, and suddenly he felt like the little boy who'd once been peer pressured to eat a worm on the playground. Only it was Stuart that stuck up for him back then. "The experimenting, I mean. Sounds... cool."
Gerald hadn't even noticed how tense Stuart's posture was until he saw his shoulders drop, the deep line between his brows disappearing. In fact, he looked quite relaxed, the lopsided smile that Gerald was so familiar with suddenly reappearing. Rubbing his palms over his pant legs, Gerald smiled nervously back, letting himself relax back, too.
"Yeah, well, come over tonight. Ma' left me a bottle of Jack and I'm pretty sure everyone is gonna be out."
Gerald didn't know whether he was more depressed or relieved that alcohol would be involved. He was caught in a state halfway between nerves and disappointment, though the disappointment confused him. But Stuart was still standing there and still staring at him and Gerald forced the smile to stay on his face as he nodded.
"Yeah, sure thing."
Stuart nodded once and pulled his hat back away from his eyes. "Don't skip out on me this time, Gerry. You kept me waitin' for hours last time."
"Yeah... yeah, I promise I'll come. Just give me a couple hours, 'kay?"
"Why, so you can make yourself all pretty for me?" His teasing smirk was back, and Gerald forced a smile in return, clenching his fists around the table legs. That was actually what he'd been planning on doing; having a shower, shaving, maybe even combing his hair. Once again Stuart had managed to make him feel stupid, but that was okay. It was part of their friendship. He was almost certain that he made Stuart feel stupid sometimes, too, with his talk about test scores and his future, the things Stuart didn't care about it. The stuff Stuart was too scared to care about, although he'd never admit it. Gerald wondered if, just maybe, this was Stuart's way of regaining some balance in their relationship. Gerald certainly felt a little scared now.
He looked away, all too aware of Stuart's heavy gaze. "Make myself pretty for you? Yeah dude, sure. Like I do everyday." He smiled weakly. "You'd better do the same for me, though."
"Hey, you're the one taking it up the ass," Stuart quipped casually, still grinning. Gerald's breath stilled in his chest because, not only was it a little degrading, it was also new information.
"Do you..." He hesitated, licking his lips and angling his face up a little to look straight into his best friend's eyes. "Do you even know how to do that?"
"Sure," Stuart assured him, although Gerald couldn't say he felt especially assured by the cocky look on his friend's face. "How much different could it be?"
"Pretty different?" He guessed, though he honestly had no idea either. "Uh, a lady's vagina is self-lubricating." His cheeks burned. "Do you think my ass is, too?"
"Dude, yeah, sure. Look, I'll wrap it up, stick it in and that's that. It's simple. Don't get your little Jew-brain into a tizzy over it."
"You make it sound so blunt."
Stuart shrugged. "That's because it is. Why make it all complicated and shit? Blunt and simple, just the way I like it."
Gerald just nodded, resigning himself to the fact that his first time wasn't going to be very special at all. At least it would be with someone he trusted; someone he knew wouldn't hurt him. Even if it didn't go perfectly, he'd still be able to look Stuart in the eye the next day. And maybe, he told himself, that it would be better this way. It would be good to have some experience when he really did fall in love with someone.
Although, how much help this particular lesson would be with the ladies, he couldn't really say. It would probably help more if he were the one to fuck Stuart, but he doubted his best friend would ever let him do that. Stuart was too proud for that, too much of a man, too into the ladies.
And Gerald wasn't? He felt more confused than ever.
"What do we tell Randy?" Gerald finally asked, looking in the direction the other boy had stormed off in. Randy was sensitive, especially after being yelled at by someone. He also didn't take being left out of things very well, and seemed especially perceptive when it came to Gerald and Stuart having secrets. When he'd discovered they were building their little shed, he'd whined about it for days but neither Gerald nor Stuart had let him join them. Randy generally wasn't much help when it came to projects, or anything, really. And Gerald had enjoyed getting closer to Stuart, getting to know him a little better and strengthening their friendship without Randy there to facilitate discussions centered around booze, pot, and chicks.
He wasn't expecting their friendship to get this strong, though. In fact, in the back of his mind, he was a little concerned that it might not be.
"We don't tell Randy shit," Stuart said, rolling his eyes. "That's, like, rule numero uno of life."
"He'll bitch and moan the second he knows something's up."
"So we'll take a page out of Sharon Fisher's book," Stuart said, already grinning. "And completely ignore him."
He rolled his eyes, grinning. "He's hopeless when it comes to her."
"He's hopeless when it comes to most things."
Stuart perched himself on the edge of Gerald's desk and they sat in a somewhat comfortable silence for a couple of minutes. People had started to trickle out of the classroom, some staying but most leaving at the promise of a free period.
"You should go," Gerald said, his smile still forced and in place. "Go start on your homework, okay?"
Stuart smirked. "Yeah, I gotta go, but not to do homework."
"Whatever." He rolled his eyes, used to Stuart's lack of caring towards homework. "Just get out of here."
Stuart grabbed his ratty bag from the floor and gave Gerald a quick salute. Gerald returned the gesture, smiling at his best friend as he walked out, his long pants trailing along the dirty ground.
Gerald kept smiling at Stuart's back until the other boy was safely out of the classroom. When the door clicked behind him, he finally sighed, leaning back in his desk and staring at the ceiling. He loved plans. He could be almost manic with his need to schedule and keep things written down and organized. Even so, he'd never expected sex - his first time having it, for that matter - to feel so arranged and clinical. Maybe the spontaneity was supposed to make it less terrifying. He realized with a chill that he'd have to spend the next two or three hours thinking about it.
He looked down at the folded up piece of paper in his hands, uncurling his fingers and holding it flat in his palm. He smoothed it out with his thumb and stared at it, trying to search for a deeper meaning that just wasn't there. The thing only had three lines written on it, and yet it had affected Gerald's entire day. Probably his entire year, as well, though he wouldn't know that until later, when Stuart either stayed his friend or awkwardly began avoiding him.
It would be another three hours of this kind of thinking.
The bell shocked him from his internal struggles, and he looked up at the clock in surprise. Instinctively reaching for his backpack, he stood up from his desk, realizing quickly that he was the only student who had stayed the entire length of the class period. He was struck by how quiet it was, how very alone he was suddenly feeling. He didn't waste any time heading for the door. Maybe he could find Randy and grab some dinner at the diner before he had to go to Stuart's.
Or maybe he really would go wash his hair.
He stopped at the door of the classroom, reflexively going to throw out the note he still held in his hand. He found himself pausing, though, staring at it and turning it over in his hand. Without allowing himself to think about it too much, he stuffed the piece of paper into his back pocket, wincing and letting out a self-deprecating sigh as he did so. Resigned to keeping the note, to losing his virginity tonight, to losing his virginity to Stuart McCormick, he walked out of the empty classroom into an equally empty hallway.
Alternate ending: And then Dawn crashed from her heavy caffeine intake and passed out. And Beth held her. The end.