Hey guys! So we're here at the last chapter. It's pretty short, but I feel like it's a good ending note. I want to thank everyone for sticking around this long and offering their support. It really does mean the world to me. You are all officially awesome (I decree it), even my lurkers ;).
Despite the fact that Kyle had absolutely no desire to go into law, he'd interned at a few law firms in his life, just for shits and giggles (and to get everyone off of his back—he tried it, didn't like it, time to move on). He didn't want to be a lawyer, no, but that didn't mean jack shit to his dickbag friends, apparently, who liked to call him up at fucking midnight for legal advice and shit.
He was going to start charging if this was how it was gonna go. He'd be the Miss fucking Cleo of legal advice.
"Someone better be fucking dead," he groaned as he patted around for his phone. Stan grunted beside him, hugging his pillow to his chest and begging Kyle to "just fucking answer the phone already". Kyle bit back some sarcastic remark or another—he couldn't tell, he was tired—but finally found it and answered before Stan could reply, threatening death in place of a greeting to whoever was on the other end.
"Hey, Kyle," came Bebe's voice.
"Oh," Kyle sat up and ran a hand over his face. "Hey. What's up?"
"I have a legal question to ask," she said. "What do you know about abdicating parental rights?"
"Enough," Kyle replied, looking over at where Stan was squirming, trying to settle back into sleep.
"And adoption?" Bebe asked.
"Look," Kyle said, running his fingers over the strip of exposed skin between Stan's pajama bottoms and shirt. "Let's cut the bullshit. I can do whatever the fuck you need, okay? Tell me what you want and I'll fucking take care of it. Just let me go back to sleep."
She wanted to give her parental rights to Butters. Fantastic. He told her he'd call them tomorrow with more details and hung up, flopping back onto the bed and tangling his fingers in Stan's hair.
"What's up?" Stan muttered into his pillow, leaning into Kyle's touch.
"I never want kids," Kyle yawned. It was a half-hearted threat, because he was twenty-two and actually knew dick-all about what he wanted, but it'd be enough to get Stan's attention.
"I'll put my IUD back in tomorrow," Stan shot back. Kyle laughed and pulled Stan over to him, nosing at the fine hairs on his temple and kissing him on the cheek. Stan hummed happily and turned his head so that he could kiss the smile right off of Kyle's face. They'd fucked a few hours ago, but after a nap Kyle was ready to convince Stan that he was ready to go again. Stan pulled away before he could say anything, though, and rested his head back on Kyle's shoulder.
"No kids ever?" he asked.
"Can your Catholic sensibilities handle that?" Kyle snorted as he ran his fingers up and down Stan's side.
"I'll manage," Stan muttered in false sincerity, a small smile still on his face as he drifted back off. Kyle figured Stan would make a good dad, and Kyle reserved the right to change his mind if it came down to it, but between his best friend and his little brother, he wasn't about to go and fuck himself over with a kid right now.
Quite frankly, Kyle thought everyone was a little crazy, having babies left and right like they were doing nothing more than adopting cats or buying shoes or something.
But Kyle was also of the mind that people were free to do what they wanted with their lives, stupid as he may have thought they were, as long as they were safe and happy and weren't doing anything to harm others. He loved Kenny and Ike, so he'd do whatever for them… and for their kids, he decided, because he supposes by association he should love them too.
Kyle fell asleep with his nose in Stan's hair and that funny feeling he usually got in his chest when he was about to do something nice for someone.
It was a few days before Kyle could get the papers together that he needed, mostly because he needed to be covert and make everything look official (and also because Stan kept trying to distract him with hand jobs and other things that definitely shouldn't have been happening in his dad's office). By the time he had everything together, Bebe was still up in Loveland and sorting through her grandma's stuff, and Kenny was doing inventory at the store. That meant Kyle was explaining to Butters everything that they needed to sign.
That meant talking to Butters for an extended period of time.
It wasn't that Kyle didn't like Butters initially. He hadn't really had an opinion about him until he'd gotten involved with Kenny. At first he was happy that he'd made Kenny so happy, because Butters was the kind of guy who wouldn't hurt anyone, who'd take care of you and make you feel wanted and loved, and if Kenny needed anything it was a loving partner.
Kyle could pinpoint the exact moment he'd started hating Butters. He'd endured Butters' general moping when Kenny had disappeared, and yeah he'd kind of felt bad for him, but he'd still remained ambivalent until Kenny had come back.
Late September, four years ago. Kyle had come home from a calculus lecture to Kenny sitting outside his dorm room, looking unwanted, distant, and alone. Kyle had spared him the questions, knowing he wouldn't be there if something hadn't been wrong, and sat down beside him. They'd looked at each other for a few moments before Kenny had cracked—he'd busted up into tears right in front of Kyle for the first time in a very long time.
Kenny had loved Butters. It was weird to think, but Kyle supposed anything was possible. Kenny wasn't used to loving the people he fucked—Kyle knew that—and if he was going to be emotional about it he'd figured it'd at least be a girl to make him feel feelings. Girls were emotional, right? And Kenny, no matter what he said, could definitely be emotional too. Fuck, unemotional people didn't travel by bus to the cold recesses of the north to visit a friend at college, only to break down and cry on his doorstep.
Kenny had been broken. Butters had, intentionally or not, utterly annihilated him, and Kyle hated him for it. Kenny was a resilient fuck; he didn't let a lot of people get to him (he couldn't, being from the family he was from or being talked about in the way people talked about him). Kyle hated that someone like Butters, of all the fucking people, hurt him enough to make him break down like a rusty old car. He didn't like seeing Kenny looking like he was lost in a shambles—he didn't like that he'd had to hold him out in the open, with judgmental fucks walking by and giving them funny looks, and wait until he'd stopped crying; he didn't like hearing about what Kenny had done in Brazil, about how utterly fucking desperate he'd been (for money, for drugs, for a way to forget what he was feeling), or about how much he fucking hated himself for doing what he'd done.
Butters had done that—all of that—and Kyle would never fucking understand why anyone would pick things up with someone when they fucking-well knew that they had that power over them.
Kyle supposed Stan could break him like that, but that wasn't the issue right now. Right now he had a stack of papers under his arm and a few fucking things to straighten out before he let anyone do anything.
It was Karen who came to the door instead of Butters, still in her pajamas and still pregnant, and looking about as bright and smiley as ever Kyle gave her a smile in return, because like it or not she was carrying his niece or nephew, and there were definitely worse women Ike could've chosen to reproduce with.
"Are those the papers to sign?" she asked as she stepped aside and let Kyle inside.
"Yeah," Kyle said and went to sit on the armrest of the couch. "How're you doing?"
"Fine," Karen smiled and tucked a chunk of hair behind her ear. Kenny had facilitated her unofficial move into his house a few days ago, insisting that she be in a less-stressful environment until she and Ike could pool together enough for a place of their own. Kyle didn't have the heart to tell them that that probably wouldn't be happening anytime soon.
"I actually have to talk to Butters about these," he said, realizing that it'd been silent for much too long. Karen just gives him a smile and points at the stairs. He smiled back and, after giving her belly a little wave goodbye (which was awkward as all holy hell), tromped up the stairs. He found Butters in the guest room with Patrick, looking at one of those big cardboard books and being a generally decent human being.
"Hey," he knocked on the doorjamb and gave Butters an obligatory curve of his lips when he looked up and smiled at him.
"Hey there, Kyle," he greeted and stood. He looked at the envelope in Kyle's hand and stilled. "That's them, then?" he asked. Kyle nodded and put them behind his back when Butters made to reach for them. He tried not to feel too satisfied with himself when Butters gave a little pout, but he did herd him over to the bed and have him sit down.
"Before I give these to you," he said. "I wanna talk to you."
"A-about what?" Butters asked, eyebrows knit together in confusion as he started fiddling with his fingers. Kyle backed off at that—he forgot that he could actually be intimidating sometimes. He'd taken after his mother way too much for his own liking in that respect.
"Personally?" he began. "I think you're all fucking high off of your asses, doing this. We're young, we're stupid, and you guys are retarded for thinking you're the exception."
"Gee, Kyle, I—"
"I'm not fucking finished," Kyle cut him off. "I know you didn't mean to or whatever, but you really hurt him, okay? Not even hurt him—you fucking destroyed him. You have a power that not many people have, all right? He fucking loves you, dude, which is also way more than most of the people in his life can say. You. Cannot. Fuck with him."
"I wouldn't!" Butters insisted, eyebrows high on his forehead now as he shook his head rather emphatically. "Kyle, you gotta believe me that I-I love him just as much as he loves me. I don't wanna hurt him again a-an' I hate that I ever did. Now, I'm happy you're so protective of him an' everything, but… he's my boyfriend."
"I know that," Kyle scowled and pulled the papers out from behind his back. He stared at the envelope for a few moments, knowing he had something else he wanted to say without knowing exactly how to say it.
"What?" Butters asked, anticipating this perhaps.
"It's stupid," Kyle finally concluded, tossing the envelope onto Butters' lap. "It's just paper. I've seen you guys, and it doesn't change anything. Paper's one thing, but… you guys are a family anyway."
It was one thing Kyle actually hated and why he didn't really want to go into law in the first place. The world only recognized Ike as his brother by law—if there hadn't been a piece of paper dictating that they were a family, people wouldn't think it was legitimate. They were a family regardless, and it actually made him really angry that people believed making something "official" made it real.
It was probably why he'd never get married. He could spend the rest of his life with the right person, but objected to official institutions. It was also probably why he'd flat out rejected Judaism, as well as religion in all its forms. "Official" didn't mean dick, in Kyle's opinion, and that was why he'd never ever be able to be a lawyer.
Butters just looked at him, a little confused again, before he fiddled with the corner of the envelope and cleared his throat.
"Th-thanks, Kyle," he said. Kyle nodded and scratched at the back of his head.
"So, uh," he began. "I flagged where you guys have to sign and everything. No particular rush getting 'em back and everything, but—" he was cut off by Butters leaping off of the bed and pulling him into a hug. "Oh… okay."
"You're a good friend, Kyle," Butters said, tightening his grip on the word 'friend'. Kyle kind of wanted to kill himself now, but whatever.
"No… no problem, dude," he said. "I still say you guys are stupid as fuck."
"Well, you're a nice guy helpin' us anyway," Butters beamed and drew back. He opened up the envelope, just to make sure everything was there and in order, only to stop when he came to a certain page. Kyle looked over the top of the paper to see just what made him pause.
"Steven's his middle name?" Butters asked.
"Oh, yeah," Kyle shook his head, like it was too stupid to even explain. "Bebe didn't want Patrick to have her name, so Kenny just made Steven his middle name."
"Stephen's my middle name," Butters said softly. This took a moment to soak into Kyle's brain before it registers that this is a perfect time to roll his eyes and cross his arms over his chest.
"Well, how do you like that," he said. "Yet another sordid indication that he was never really fucking over you. Fantastic."
"Hey, wait!" Butters called as Kyle left the room. He poked his head out of the door and gave Kyle a smile. "You comin' to his birthday party?"
Kyle exhaled through his nose. Kenny and Butters were officially the stupidest people he knew, but fuck if they weren't committed and loving dads. Kyle stuffed his hands in his pockets and gave Butters a reserved smile.
"Yeah, what's he want?" he asked. Butters' smile brightened considerably as he replied with the words "College fund". Kyle snorted and gave him a little wave goodbye. He passed Karen downstairs, who was eating ice cream out of a carton (clearly marked with the words 'Karen McCormick—Keep your FUCKING hands off, Kenny') and gave her a wave too.
He walked back out to the car, convinced that he and Stan really were the only sane people left in South Park. Only, Stan was an emotionally depressive borderline alcoholic, so maybe he and Kyle weren't exactly the authorities on sanity. They were happy, though—at least together, and Kyle supposes that if it was good enough for him and Stan that it was good enough for Kenny and Butters. They were there for each other, and they always would be.
Butters will be there for Kenny in a few months when Karen has her baby, just like Stan will be there for Kyle when Ike's daughter is born and they get to be uncles together; Kenny will be there for Butters in a few years when his dad has a heart attack, just like Kyle will be there for Stan when his parents finally call it quits and have an ugly, permanent separation; Stan and Kyle will be there for each other years down the line when they decide they want kids of their own, just like Ike and Karen will be there for one another when they have another kid, just like Butters and Kenny will be there for each other when Patrick finds out whose blood he's got.
That's what a family was, though, Kyle concluded—it's not blood, or paper, or anything like that. A family is, when everything is said and done, the people who are always there for you.