Soundtrack: Welcome Home – Radical Face

Title and lyrics from above song

This instance is not even close to the first time that Gary has had to yank Stan out of sweaty crowd of inebriated teenagers, and nor is it likely to be the last – and yet, Gary seems abnormally annoyed with Stan.

That could just be the alcohol talking, of course. Stan is far gone and nothing is making much sense to him at the moment, except that the one friend that he's had in years has seized him by the wrist and is tugging him toward the front door of this house. He's not even sure who the house belongs to, just that it's someplace in the middle of the mountains, forty-five minutes out of South Park. Stan doesn't remember how he got invited to either, just that he always does get invited to these functions.

He doesn't come for the people, no. Usually Gary doesn't even find him mingling. At a typical party, Gary finds Stan upstairs in somebody's little sister's bedroom, alone with a bottle of shitty liquor that he jacked from the veritable buffet of cheap shit laid out at these parties.

Tonight, Gary finds Stan alone with a half-imbibed bottle of Jack, crying quietly while he played with the dollhouse in the room that was in not two minutes ago. Stan doesn't remember why he is crying, just that he is. He's a terrible drunk. Gary doesn't heave a sigh like Kenny would, and nor does he roll his eyes like Kyle would. He just looks at the blubbering mess that is Stan and extracts the Jack Daniel's out of his grip, setting it on the little pink dresser against the wall.

"Fuck you, I wanna stay," Stan tries to shake Gary off of him, but only succeeds in making himself trip over his own feet, falling onto his knees on the carpet.

Gary doesn't respond. His lips are in a flat line, but his face doesn't look irritated, just tired. Kyle always looked angry when he had to pick up Stan after drinking, like Stan was betraying him by knocking back a few beers or shots or whatever he had had on those nights. Gary, on the other hand, looks resigned. He has the same expression on his face that one might wear if their parents asked them to do the dishes right after they'd finished writing an essay for English class.

He coils his arm around Stan's torso and hoists him up. It's not an easy task. Stan isn't a huge guy, but he's heavy and difficult to manage when he's drunk like this. Kyle always needed help. It wasn't that Kyle was weak. He was just skinny and lacked strength in his arms. Gary, too, was skinny – no, more slender, but the bulk of his spare time is spent participating in athletics, Stan knows. He's fit. Fit enough to drag Stan out of parties every weekend, in any case.

Going out every weekend and Stan's preference to be alone should clash. He should hate these parties, and in a way, he does hate them. He hates the people that come to parties are there to have fun, to laugh, to socialize, to get laid. He's here because he just wants to forget that he's unhappy. Stan doesn't even know why he's unhappy, just like a few minutes ago he didn't know why he was crying. But as much as he should hate the parties, he doesn't. He just resents the people that attend them. He knows, however, that some of the people are just as fucked up as he is. He's seen Craig Tucker at these things from time to time, usually occupying a room by himself just like Stan would, except that he likes to nick weed and get high alone.

They sat together, once.

Gary had told Stan that he didn't like it. And for some reason, Stan never sat with Craig again.

Gary unlocks his family's old van – there are too many siblings in his family for Gary to have a vehicle of his own. None of his brothers or sisters had a car bought for them. Not like Stan. Randy had gotten him a used, but nice, car. He drove it into a ditch within a week and a half of having it, and now Stan doesn't even have a license anymore.

He heaves Stan into the passenger's seat. It's an interesting and not-very-easy task, and since Stan is feeling petulant, he doesn't make any attempt to help get himself into the van. Gary is panting slightly when he accomplishes it, and buckles Stan in. It's thoughtful. When Kenny or Kyle or a couple times even Cartman did this for him, they dumped him in the backseat and called it a night. Gary's not like that. He doesn't just do shit, he takes care of things.

Stan doesn't resent his old friends. Not really. He knows that they're just tired of him being so fucking sad all of the time, that they don't know how to help him anymore. Stan himself is tired of being sad all the fucking time, and fuck, if he knew how to help himself, he'd do it. But he is and he doesn't, and so here he is, caught in this hazy, drunken routine. It's better than having to face his life head-on. Stan doesn't think that he has the power to fight against the overwhelming melancholy he feels when he's sober.

"Do you want me to take you home, or do you wanna spend the night at my place?" Gary asks. He always asks.

"Your house," Stan mumbles, only vaguely aware of what's going on. It's just that it's happened so many times, it is routine to him. And he doesn't like coming home trashed – Gary knows that, but asks just in case. Stan doesn't like his mom to see him like this, even though she already knows about the shit that he gets up to. It upsets her, which in turn upsets Stan.

As Gary pulls away from the party and starts rumbling down the dirt road, Stan wonders drunkenly what Gary's parents think of all this. They're always in bed by the time that Gary is dragging Stan upstairs. They've never seen Stan drunk. Just hungover. And those people are so fucking Mormon that Stan doesn't think they know what being hungover looks like. You'd think that adults would recognize that sort of thing, but these ones don't. They were born and raised in their religion, went to BYU in Utah, got married at twenty, had kids by twenty-two…Stan guesses he's grateful for the fact that they don't know how he trashes his body, except that they have coffee at their house because they don't drink coffee or even tea because of the Word of Wisdom or whatever Gary said that it was, and he really wishes that there was coffee around when he wakes up feeling like hell.

Stan is even more grateful that Gary's parents don't know what Gary is up to. Gary and Stan are pretty good about being quiet when going about the whole fucking each other thing – but Stan does find himself wondering from time to time how the Harrisons don't know. Because, really, how do you just not know? Then again, Randy's oblivious to it like he's oblivious to everything. Sharon and Shelly, on the flip side, have their suspicions. Beds don't just creak in that rhythmic way for no reason. Stan's just saying.

There's an Enya CD in the stereo. Gary's sisters are fucking nuts for Enya. Stan doesn't get it, himself. It's actually kind of grating to hear after bass has been ringing in your ears.

"I fucking hate this music," Stan slurs.

Gary turns off the stereo, but doesn't talk. He's like that – silent but obedient. Sometimes it annoys the living shit out of Stan. Sometimes it's nice. Tonight, it's nice. Kyle would have gone off on a tirade for the entire forty-five minutes it takes to return to South Park. He would have lectured about how damaging this is, how Stan needs to get better, how could he do this to himself again, blah blah blah.

Though, in a way, this is worse. Stan knows that seeing Stan the way he is now is Gary's least favorite thing in the world. He tells Stan the same things that Kyle might: That he wants him to try and get better, that he wants Stan to seek help. The difference is that Gary is gentle about telling Stan these things, and he only brings it up enough that the thought sticks in Stan's head and makes him feel guilty.

Ideally, Stan would just have Kenny pick him up when he's drunk, but Kenny doesn't have access to a working mode of transportation most of the time. Kenny is typically silent, too, and if he does happen to speak, and does happen to scold Stan, then Stan can just snap back that Kenny's a hypocrite, because Kenny parties just as much. Except, Kenny's like those people. He does it for fun and to socialize and to get laid. Kenny isn't sad, not like Stan is sad.

Stan falls in and out of sleep, letting the motion of the van rock him back and forth. He's awake when they reach the Harrison house, though, and he's been mollified since leaving the party, with Gary's silence and lack of accusation. Gary still helps him along, though, because Stan can't walk without stumbling.

He's strangely comfortable in Gary's bedroom, and not just because it's where they slept together for the first time. Gary keeps it neat, but not painstakingly neat like Kyle keeps his. It's just off-kilter enough that you can tell the room belongs to somebody with worries on his mind. Gary doesn't talk a lot about those worries, but Stan knows that Gary has them.

Since Stan vomited all over himself back at the party, Gary loans him pajamas. They're Christmas pajamas, with reindeer printed on the flannel bottoms. Gary wears Christmas pajamas all year. It bothers Gary's mother. Stan secretly likes this – both the pajamas themselves and the bothering.

Gary's parents mean well. They do. It's just that they don't want a gay son, which is what they've got. Stan sometimes debates whether or not Gary will ever tell them, and decides that yes, Gary probably will, but when he does he'll be well into his thirties and explaining why he's still unmarried and childless.

Gary still has bunk beds – he used to share the bedroom with his older brother, but Mark lives in Utah now, attending BYU like his parents did. Stan always takes the bottom bunk, even though it's the one that Gary sleeps in. They've both figured that trying to get inebriated Stan up a ladder is a bad idea. Stan likes the lower bunk because it smells like Gary, though. Like masculine shower gel and clean, but worn, laundry.

Stan likes sleeping at the Harrisons, a lot more than he likes sleeping at his own house. The Harrison house is a home, and it has a strange sense of family permeating everything. Stan's own family is shitty and broken. His parents are divorced. His sister left for some out-of-state university and verbally refuses to return home.

He falls asleep contemplating shitty families.


Stan's first order of business upon waking is throwing up in the toilet in the bathroom across the hall, which is thankfully unoccupied (having as many siblings as Gary does, Stan is a little surprised). Gary finds Stan with his head lolling against the toilet seat, silently thanking God that the Harrisons clean their bathrooms every Saturday.

"Would you like some hot chocolate?" Gary asks, indicating to the mug in his hand.

Stan's stomach roils at the thought of consuming any food product, even if that product is just fake chocolate powder and hot water. He says, "Water?"

"Yeah, c'mon," Gary says, inclining his head over his shoulder, "You can't sit here all morning."

"Yes I can," Stan argues, but his voice is a rasp. He doesn't want to move.

Gary just stares, as if to say, 'Really, Stanley?'

"Fine," Stan snaps, "I'm getting up. You don't have to be so pushy."

Gary doesn't bother pointing out to Stan that he didn't even say anything.

Stan shakily gets to his feet, gripping the counter for leverage before flushing his vomit away from sight. For good measure, he spritzes a bit of the air freshener around the room, only to regret it deeply, because it makes his stomach knot up with nausea. Gary catches him when he starts to fall forward.

For a moment they stand together. The house is quiet, and since Gary hasn't let go yet, he assumes that nobody is around.

When Gary at last gingerly pulls himself away from Stan, he says, "Easy does it, dude." Gary picked up 'dude' from Stan sometime in the seventh grade. They used to hang out in secret because Stan was embarrassed that he was friends with the oh-so-perfect blond Mormon kid with ten million brothers and sisters. They've always been friends. Stan has also always felt strange about their friendship, because Gary has always been his background friend, his other friend, the friend he calls when his other friends are busy. Stan also thinks that he has been Gary's best friend, the one that Gary calls first.

And now they're more than friends anyway. Not that they call each other more than friends. That would bother Gary. For being so easygoing about just about everything in the world, he's surprisingly touchy when it comes to the definition of their relationship. That is to say – they don't have a definition. It just is.

Downstairs, Stan sets his forehead against the kitchen table, groaning. Gary sets a glass of water and a pair of Advil in front of him, but stays standing, rubbing Stan's shoulders. Stan washes the pills down and sighs. Gary's good at this – the shoulder rubs, taking care of people. Stan feels a little less tense around him, always has. He doesn't feel like he needs to put on a front of happiness, like he would for Kyle or Kenny or Wendy or his mom or anybody fucking else, really. He can be morose and bitchy and hungover and Gary will still care about him, will still lend Stan his reindeer pajamas and offer him hot cocoa because their family doesn't drink caffeine.

They sit like that for a long while, Gary standing behind him and kneading the knots in his shoulders away. Gary says he's been giving his mom shoulder rubs since he was about nine. She has a bad back. Stan doesn't happen to have a bad back – being only seventeen – but this helps ease him down from his bad mood. Stan tips his head back, resting against Gary's abdomen.

"Feeling better?" Gary asks.

"Mmm," Stan murmurs.

"Good," he replies, and it's the kind of 'good' that has a hint of something else in it. 'Good' as in, 'now that you're feeling better, we can have sex, right?' Stan opens his eyes and studies Gary for moment, making sure that he's heard the right tone of voice. Gary doesn't get in the mood by himself all that often, probably something to do with religious guilt about banging a guy and banging before marriage.

Stan likes that Gary's at that point now, though. It means that he'll be willing to take charge. Stan is still too woozy to actually put in much of an effort. Maybe that isn't very sexy, but it's the truth. He could do with some nice, lazy bunk bed sex, and doesn't object one bit when Gary pulls him up and away from the kitchen table, back upstairs, and into his bedroom. He closes the door behind him, and not a half-second later, Gary's lips are on his. It's not a demanding kiss. Gary's kisses never are. Stan's the one that precipitates their more moody and anxious kisses.

He's too sloth-like for that now. He lets Gary move him like a ragdoll, back toward the bottom buck with its dinosaur sheets and the quilt that his mom made (the latter of which Gary moves to the floor, probably because the idea of having sex on the quilt his mother made for him is gross to him).

While Stan reclines on the pillow, Gary tugs his shirt (the bastard was already dressed for the day, Stan notices. Emphasis on was.) over his head, messing up his perfectly combed-off-to-the-side golden blond hair. Sometimes Stan is irritated by Gary's classically handsome, good-looking-without-trying looks, but then he remembers that he's the one sleeping with Gary, and he becomes more smug. Sure, he and Gary aren't really a 'thing,' but they sort of are. And Stan knows he isn't sharing Gary with anybody else. Gary doesn't have it in him to sleep with more people. He's stressed out enough as it is when it comes to Stan.

Stan peels off his borrowed t-shirt – which smells a little off because of the throwing up and sweating he's done this morning – and balls it up, aiming for Gary's laundry basket but hitting the rim so that the shirt ends up on the carpet, instead. He feels gross in comparison to Gary, not that that's anything new. Stan's got a fairly nice body. It's average. He doesn't do anything to keep it in any particular shape, though, so he's slightly doughy where Gary is just sinewy and trim.

Despite the golden boy look, Gary doesn't have a golden boy attitude to match. He's surprisingly humble – he acknowledges that he's attractive if you badger him into saying it, but he doesn't like that, so Stan refrains. Mostly. When he's in one of his better moods, he likes to tease Gary. That shouldn't make sense, but somehow it does to him.

Gary climbs on top of Stan, boxing in Stan's reindeer-clad legs with his own. He starts kneading Stan's shoulders first, just like he did back in the kitchen, before he leans down. He isn't close enough to kiss Stan, not yet. He ghosts his lips over Stan's for a few moments, causing Stan's lips to tingle with the anticipation and the closeness. Gary runs his tongue over his own lips, wetting them, before he ducks down and draws Stan into another kiss.

He's always so…kind with his kisses. It's a strange word to employ to describe a kiss, but Gary has this natural benevolence to him that intrinsically translates in his lip locks. His tongue, when Stan finally prods open Gary's mouth, tastes like hot cocoa and cereal. He tastes like comforting things.

Stan lifts his arms finally and wraps them around Gary's back as Gary threads his hands through Stan's hair. This makes Stan gasp quietly, and he pulls his mouth down to say hushedly, "Sorry."

"For what?" Gary gives him a confused look.

"I'm gross right now," Stan replies.

Gary's muscles shift underneath Stan's open palms as he draws himself down, pressing their bodies chest to chest, and putting their faces forehead to forehead. Gary murmurs, "Usually I tolerate your morose crap, but you're not gross, Stanley. You're not even close." As if to illustrate, he presses a series of feather light kisses to Stan's scruffy jaw, tracing the bones in Stan's face with the tip of his nose as he kisses each feature. If there's something Stan can say about Gary when it comes to sex, it's that he's thorough. He doesn't forget a single place on Stan's body. He touches all of them.

Soon the pants are off – of both of them – and Stan reflects again on how he's just not quite as put together as this boy, whose legs are strong from running (they often switch who's getting worked over. Today, it's Stan, but when Stan tops those fucking legs can hold him in a vice grip).

Gary doesn't own lube. He doesn't like it, he says, but Stan thinks that he's really just afraid that his parents will find it. Either that, or buying something that actually has to do with sex makes Gary nervous, because Stan thinks it might be that, too. Gary doesn't like condoms. He thinks that they're gross. Stan thinks this odd squeamishness (from a regularly confident person, no less) is because he's grown up being taught that sex is bad. Sex is something that needs to wait. And it's fucking hard to hear that when you're twelve and one day you start waking up with boners for no apparent reason, when it feels fantastic to touch those boners.

Stan likes to think that he's been tearing down Gary's inhibitions one fucking at a time.

He doesn't tell Gary that, of course.

Despite the lack of lube, Gary does keep hand lotion around. It's a pretty innocuous item to have, especially since Stan is certain Gary can't maintain those baby-soft hands on pure fantastic genes. Gary pumps a couple of squirts of lotion onto his fingers, rubbing it around a little, before he urges Stan to turn over onto his stomach.

Oh, good. Stan loves when they do it like this. From behind. It feels more carnal, somehow, and maybe that in itself will loosen Gary the fuck up.

There's always that little moment of hesitation with Gary, as though he is silently considering, am I really putting my fingers there? Stan moans softly and rolls up against Gary's hand, encouraging him.

He slides a finger inside, wriggling it knowingly. Stan bucks back a bit, crying out, because there's nobody that they have to be quiet for right now. Gary takes it as encouragement, thorough in his movement, massaging and working almost like a scientist would, before he slips in a second finger and Stan starts feeling the beginnings of that incredible full feeling. His belly flutters and his cock twitches in anticipation.

As if sensing this, Gary grasps Stan's erection and begins to work him on both sides, making Stan writhe and pant into a helpless mess. Gary hates seeing Stan as his drunken mess self, but loves seeing him as his sexed-out mess self. Once Gary finds Stan's prostate, he doesn't lose it. He keeps on, making Stan wobble and melt.

All of the tension in Stan's world leaks out of his body when they're like this. No words, no inhibitions, no alcohol, no religion – just Stan and Gary. Stan doesn't think of how heavy his heart feels most days, not when he and Gary are naked and in bed together.

When Gary pulls his hands away, Stan thinks he might cry. Even as he hears the sound of the bottle of lotion being pumped, and the squick of it being applied to Gary's erection – thoroughly – as if Gary could even do something half-heartedly.

Stan wraps his fists around the metal bars of the bunk bed when he feels that first push.

Gary thrusts inside him with an un-Gary-like grunt of pleasure. He puts his hands on Stan's shoulders, rubbing when he remembers to through the haze of lust. Stan rocks against him, feeling euphoric and full and nervous and sick and fucked. The metal beast of a bunk bed creaks like hell as they thrust up against each other, humping mindlessly.

Gary moves a hand to wrap around Stan's cocks, smearing precome as he begins to run his hand up and down, up and down. He drives into Stan harder.

Harder than he ever has before, even.

Stan gasps and whines, "Fuck, Gary."

Gary breathes, "Don't curse."

The scolding is useless, however, when Gary slams into Stan's prostate, propels himself so deep into Stan it feels as though their bodies are one body. Stan comes without warning, all over Gary's pillow, for which he'll feel a little more guilty when he's not as high in the haze of sex as he is now.

Gary, ever polite, pulls out and comes on his dinosaur sheets with a strangled, sob-like cry.

They don't cuddle or kiss immediately in the afterglow, mostly because they can't lay down now that the pillow is covered in Stan's come.

"How did you even get it all the way over there?" Gary muses, half-smiling at the come-saturated pillow case, as he pulls his jeans over his hips, buttoning them snugly.

"I don't know, how did you start fucking like that?" Stan asks. He would put on last night's jeans, but Gary reports that his family will return from their grocery shopping expedition and neither of them wants the rest of the Harrison clan to smell the spilled beer and pot smoke on the denim.

So, Stan opts again for the reindeer pants.

"Don't curse," chides Gary, for the fiftieth time, but then he says, unexpectedly, "Have I ever told you that I love it when you wear my clothes?"

Stan shakes his head, and allows Gary to duck down for a heavy kiss.

When they're fully dressed and washed up and neatly put back together, Gary and Stan find themselves in the kitchen again. This time, when Gary offers to make Stan hot cocoa he doesn't decline, even though his hangover is still pounding in the corners of his brain, like the broken edge of a coral reef. Stan silently wishes again that Mormons drank coffee. But they don't, and so he slouches on Gary's sofa with a mug of cocoa instead.

Stan leans his head on Gary's shoulder as they channel surf, relaxed, almost back to normal.

He asks, "Are you afraid that you're going to go to Hell?"

"There is no hell in my religion, Stan," Gary says, "At least, not in the usual way. And you can't get there by being gay, either."

"So you're gay," Stan says.

Gary gives Stan a look that appears close to pity and says, "Did we or did we not just have sex? Or did you miss that? If you haven't noticed, you're a guy."

Stan rolls his eyes and says, "But then – what are you afraid of? You're so uptight about us sometimes."

Gary doesn't answer. He just flips channels. Finally, he replies, and not at all in a snarky manner as Stan would have been inclined to do, "I'm afraid of losing my family."

"Your family?"

"Yeah. They don't really talk about what they think of queer people," Gary says softly, "but I don't think that they like it. I think they might know about me. You know. Subconsciously."

Stan hmms, but doesn't speak. Instead, he places a kiss against Gary's neck, which smells faintly of sex and sweat still.

"What are you afraid of?" asks Gary.

"Me? What do you mean? I'm not Mormon," Stan says, befuddled.

"I mean the alcohol, Stanley," Gary says.

Stan doesn't want to talk about that, but Gary just spilled out one of his secrets, and so it's only fair that Stan share one of his own. Gary's the only person he's been able to trust recently anyhow. Slowly, he responds, "I don't want to be sad."

"There's nothing wrong with being sad."

"I think that all I might be is sad," Stan rewords.

"That's not true," Gary says, and he pauses his channel flipping to tip Stan's chin up with his finger to make him look into Gary's greenish-blue eyes and continues, "You are so many things, Stan."

"A lot of shitty things," Stan mutters.

Gary says exasperatedly, "Don't curse. And you are many wonderful things."

"I don't –" Stan begins to argue, but Gary swallows the retort in a kind kiss.

"We'll work on not being afraid together."

Ships are launching from my chest

Some have names but most do not

If you find one, please let me know what piece I've lost