Soundtrack: Sleepy Eyes – Marcy Playground

Clyde found out about Stan Marsh when they were fourteen. It was after school, and Clyde had just gotten back from a football training session alone with the coach – the other guys had all gone, and the locker room was completely deserted, nothing but the smell of sweat and Axe. Clyde kind of liked that smell. He still does, because Stan likes to use Axe and Clyde likes when he can smell it on his skin.

Clyde had been sticky and grass-stained, ready for a long shower and not looking forward to the walk back to his house from the high school. His legs were sore, aching from not only practice and running, but from the growth spurt that he'd been enduring since late summer. He was a whole head taller than Craig, then, and now he's even bigger than that.

It was a miracle that Stan didn't hear him banging around as he tromped in – he did have his headphones in, but Clyde is a loud walker, and had also been belting 'Hey Ya' at the top of his lungs because he'd thought that he was alone.

Clyde shrieked when he found Stan huddled in the corner of one of the showers, headphones in his ears, and porn rag in his hands. He was stroking himself through his jeans and humming. He also shouted when Clyde screamed, sending his iPod flying with a surprised flail of his arms, and the magazine skidding across the tiled floor.

Clyde picked it up. It wasn't the typical Playboy or Hustler, magazines that he saw being traded between boys on a regular basis like contraband, and often courtesy of Kenny McCormick. It was a name that he didn't recognize, and there definitely wasn't a girl in a string bikini on the cover. It was a man – not that Clyde minded. In fact, it made him tingle just a little at the sight. He'd never seen this magazine before, and he wanted to see more of it.

But he made himself hand it back to Stan.

"Here's your…magazine," he said awkwardly, shuffling.

Stan was red in the face, all the way down to his neck, the color disappearing into the collar of his t-shirt. He blurted, "You can't tell anybody!"

Clyde dropped his equipment bag onto the floor of the locker room and fidgeted for a moment before he lowered himself onto the ground. He replied, "It's okay, man. I get it."

"No, you don't," Stan said. He sounded exhausted. Clyde understood the feeling. And in that moment, the way that Stan looked at his best friend suddenly made much more sense. It was more than a super friendship, it was romantic love. The soft eyes and gentle smile and lingering touches fell together like puzzle pieces in Clyde's mind.

Clyde gave him a look and said, "Yeah. I do."

Stan stared at him for a long moment, his lips falling open in surprise. He wet his lips with the tip of his tongue in a way that made Clyde a little hungry, and responded, "You do?"

"Yeah. But like. I'm not out to anybody, so. Don't say anything," Clyde answered to that, and added for good measure, "Or I'll kick your ass."

"I haven't told anybody either," Stan told him, hugging his knees to his chin, "not even Kyle."

"Well, you like him, don't you?" asked Clyde.

Stan's lips turned down into a frown and he answered, "Yeah – I don't – he likes girls, so like. It's impossible. I wish I could get over it already, fuck. I'm so fucking hung up on him and I just want it to go away. This is the worst sometimes."

"I know what you mean," Clyde told him quietly. And he did. For too long, Clyde had had a thing for Craig. It happened right around the time that Clyde hit puberty and never quite waned. Craig was small, but he was attractive and knew how to make Clyde laugh in ways that others couldn't. Clyde went on, "I don't know if Craig is straight, though. He's kind of like his own thing."

"Maybe he's asexual or something," said Stan.

"Maybe," agreed Clyde, "But I think you can be asexual and gay at the same time. He's just like. Sexually attracted to himself, maybe. He told me he jacked off in front of the mirror once. Shit, don't tell him that I told you that." Clyde colored, running a hand through his hair, greasy from sweat still.

Stan laughed and promised that he wouldn't say a thing. Clyde trusted him. Stan Marsh was always true to his word, people knew that.

After their laughter died down, there was a beat of silence, and Clyde queried, "So, uh, why were you jerking off in the boy's locker room?"

Stan rubbed the back of his neck and blushed. He answered, "I didn't think anybody was around anymore. I can't do it at home. My dad's a huge snoop. It drives me fucking crazy. He'd probably catch me right before I came or something. That would suck."

"I've never like, looked at that kind of porn before," confessed Clyde. He'd wanted to for ages, but every time he thought about it, he wondered what would happen if he got caught. As his father's only son, he thought that maybe being gay would be a blow, like some weird loss of manhood. He hated that he felt that way, but he knew that other people thought that – if you loved men, you weren't as much of one. It was stupid. Logically, he knew that, but he couldn't help but feel it nonetheless.

"Dude, seriously?" asked Stan. He held up the magazine, "You want this one? I got it from Kenny – he's the only one I'm out to. You know he doesn't care. He'll get you some more magazines if you pay him."

"Thanks," Clyde said, voice abruptly soft. He felt a little shy about it all, but Stan somehow managed to make him feel better about it.

Knowing that he wasn't alone changed everything.

Instead of crying when he felt like he'd never find somebody, that his dad would be upset, or when he'd just come back from church and felt like he was wrong, he'd call Stan. They talked for hours at a time. They talked about everything.

And then Clyde finally asked, "Do you think that we could hang out sometime."

Stan had paused on the other line, and for a horrifying moment, Clyde thought that he had crossed some invisible line between them. But then he spoke, "Sure, dude. You just wanna come over to my place or something?"

"Yeah," Clyde had agreed.

The first time that they hung out together wasn't remarkable. They ate Hot Pockets and drank beers that Stan nicked from the fridge, sitting on Stan's back porch until it got dark and too cold. They played video games after that, until Clyde's dad texted him to be back home for dinner. The second time wasn't any different, and nor were the third, fourth or fifth times, either. But the sixth time – that's the time that Clyde remembers well.

It began like the other ones did, with microwavable food and cheap beer. But went the sun began to set, instead of Stan leading Clyde to the basement to play Xbox, he looked over his shoulder and asked carefully, "You wanna go up to my room?"

A fluttering feeling exploded in Clyde's stomach. He understood the tone in Stan's voice. Clyde was good at that – reading people. He nodded slowly and replied, "Yeah. I'd like that."

The way that Stan looked at Clyde made him feel like he was going to burn up, burst into flames and cease to exist right there. Nobody had ever looked at him like that – Clyde had looked at people like that, before. He'd looked at Craig like that, maybe too much. He didn't think that Craig had noticed it.

So he smiled at Stan, and Stan smiled back shyly.

Neither of them had ever done anything like it with another boy, kissed and touched and laid next to each other in bed, and all those wonderful things that Clyde felt so desperate to do with another person.

For a couple silent minutes, they'd sat side by side on the edge of Stan's mattress without speaking, neither of them brave enough to make the first move. It was Clyde that finally did, though the move he made was a small one. He slid his hand over and covered Stan's more slender, longer-fingered hand. Stan looked over at him with a boyish half-smile on his lips, something that made Clyde melt a little then and still makes him melt now.

Stan licked his lips before he leaned up to press into Clyde, kissing hesitantly.

Clyde held Stan's cheek in one hand and kissed more deeply, eyes shuttering closed. He tasted good, better than Clyde imagined he could. They fell back onto the mattress, and Stan wrapped his arms around Clyde's back. His arms weren't anything like Clyde's were – Stan was muscled and thin, toned where Clyde was chubbier, softer, less angled. He was a little self-conscious about it, but he didn't think that Stan would mind. Stan was genuinely kind, something that Clyde was learning was a rarer thing than he'd thought.

"You feel nice," Stan whispered into Clyde's neck, almost like he was hiding from him, "You're all soft."

Clyde moaned a little at that. It was a quiet sound, something that he was a little embarrassed about making and made pink spread across his cheeks. They sunk down onto the pillows, shifting awkwardly and laughing nervously each time they made a clumsy move, until they were both wrapped up in each other again, limbs tangled and hair sweaty, breath coming quicker and more labored. Their kisses became harder, longer and hotter.

Clyde could feel himself getting hard in his jeans, and instead of pulling back, he rubbed up closer to Stan.

Stan gasped out, "You're hard?" Like it was a surprise, like he couldn't comprehend another boy finding him attractive.

Clyde nodded. If he hadn't already been blushing, he'd have blushed then. He was already pink up to his ears, confused but enjoying the hell out of it. He'd never experienced something like this before, and he was so afraid that it would end. He still remembers the fear in the back of his head that he shoved back, the worry that Stan would push Clyde off of him and laugh and tell him that it was all an elaborate joke, because who really want to kiss Clyde Donovan?

"I'm hard too," Stan whispered, leaning up against Clyde's ear, and kissing it after, hesitant and sweet.

They started moving against each other, arms twined around each other's necks and lips on lips. The friction made Clyde moan and keen without giving him time to think about the noises. They just came out, but it was okay, because Stan sounded the same.

It was when Stan let out a soft, "Clyde," that Clyde came, harder than he'd ever been able to at his own touch. He stammered out an apology, but Stan just kissed him and told him that it was okay, because he had come too.

When they cleaned themselves up, they didn't touch each other, but they did give each other interested looks. It wasn't as though Clyde had never seen Stan naked before. Locker room encounters had ensured that (especially as Clyde lingered to stare at his more attractive classmates maybe a little too much). But this was the first time that Clyde had seen him up close and personal. He had a runner's body from track and field, and a pretty nice cock that Clyde was trying really hard not to stare at and failing.

"You can borrow some of my sweatpants," Stan said, breaking Clyde out of his trance. He was holding up a pair of green and grey South Park Cows sweatpants and smiling easily, like they hadn't just humped each other to climax in their pants. He added, as Clyde took the pants out of his hand, "I don't think any of my underwear would fit, otherwise I'd loan you some."

"Um, that's okay," Clyde said, pulling the sweatpants on, tomato red in the face again. Clyde thought it was probably the nicest way of saying that he had a fat ass, where Stan's was skinny and nice-looking. That's how Stan was. Saying things the nicest way that they could be said.

"You wanna stay the night or something?" Stan asked, "We could order pizza."

Clyde grinned, feeling a feeling so happy that he couldn't describe the nature of it, beyond that it made him rush forward and grab Stan in a bear hug, the kind of hugs that he typically reserved for his nephews or his sister, or sometimes Craig when he wasn't being a total twat (which was something that he was a great deal of the time).

Stan laughed and hugged back. When Clyde pulled away, he rubbed the back of his neck and said, "Sorry, I just – I just – I dunno, I was worried you didn't like, um, you know. What we did."

"Dude," Stan said, "Of course I liked it. You – did you?"

"Man, are you kidding?" Clyde asked, "That was awesome."

They shared a secret smile, the first of many to come.

Stan's parents didn't question why Clyde was wearing their son's sweatpants when they came downstairs. Sharon just smiled and ordered their pizza for them while they ran down to the basement, Stan swearing to Clyde that he'd kick his ass at Mario Kart, which Clyde argued would happen on a cold day in hell.

They fell asleep that night in a pile of blankets, surrounded by empty soda cans and grease-stained paper plates with Spiderman playing on mute on Stan's television. Stan shifted sometime in the night to rest onto Clyde's chest like a pillow. When they woke up, they kissed some more, and worked up enough courage to reach into each other's pants and stroke each other off. It wasn't graceful, but it felt amazing.

After that, they were addicted.

They couldn't see each other all the time – Stan and Clyde ran in separate circles, of course, circles that rarely mixed despite the lack of people in the town. They had separate lives, separate schedules, separate everything. It was harder to time hand jobs and kisses than Clyde had thought it would be, and sometimes they resorted to sneaking off to the side of the school that was under construction at the time, hiding in a room filled with sawdust to kiss each other and grope through each other's jeans.

There were exceptions, of course. Sometimes Stan fought with Kyle, and instead of calling Kenny, he'd text Clyde to come over.

They never dared to take their relationship beyond harried making out and hand jobs until two entire years later, when Clyde worked up the courage to suck Stan off for his seventeenth birthday. He didn't get Stan alone until past midnight, when the party downstairs started to wind down into drunken grinding. Couples had been slowly vanishing for about an hour at that point, and Clyde would swear that he saw Bebe take both Kenny and Butters upstairs, but he didn't particularly care to investigate that.

Stan was a little drunk, but not drunk enough to forget to lock his bedroom door behind them.

Clyde had kissed Stan. He tasted like beer and a little like something harder, but behind that all he tasted like Stan. Stan was one of Clyde's favorite tastes in the whole world. He was counting on that to apply to Stan's cock as well, but he could never be sure if he didn't test this theory out for himself.

"What are you doing?" asked Stan quietly.

Clyde answered by kissing his neck, and murmured against his skin, "Giving you your birthday present." He unbuckled Stan's belt and undid his fly, letting his jeans puddle onto the floor with a metallic clink. He stroked Stan through his boxers at first, palming him teasingly, before falling to his knees.

"Oh," was the only noise that escaped Stan when Clyde hooked his thumbs underneath the elastic waistband of Stan's boxers, tugging them down. He was ridiculously hard already, all flushed with blood. Clyde's heart started slamming up against his ribcage at the sight. He'd seen it enough times before to fill a photo album, but never in this context.

It made him hungry.

Clyde touched the tip of his tongue to the bead of precome at the tip first, swiping it off and into his mouth. Above him, Stan inhaled sharply, tangling one of his long-fingered hands into Clyde's hair and encouraging him closer. The taste was different, salty. But not bad at all. Clyde liked it.

He sucked the head into his mouth, clutching Stan's narrow hips with his big hands, praying that he would do well. He'd gotten advice from Kenny, but he employed the technique clumsily now that he was actually doing it, forgetting at first to press his tongue down over his bottom teeth. Clyde started to take Stan into his mouth inch by inch, sucking gently, breathing heavily through his noise.

Stan let out a strangled groan and tugged a little at Clyde's hair, making Clyde moan with his mouth around Stan's cock. The sensation make Stan swear, and he thrust himself forward just a little. It was enough for him to hit the back of Clyde's throat, and Clyde swallowed a noise of surprise.

"Sorry," Stan cried out, "Fuck – sorry. You just feel really good."

Clyde's confidence solidified with that. He gripped Stan's hips tighter and started to work, drawing Stan's cock in and out of his mouth with long strokes, sucking and tonguing and humming, using all of the things that Kenny promised would make Stan feel good.

Stan came and Clyde swallowed, though he choked just a little bit, and smiled guiltily up at Stan when he did.

"You got some – uh," Stan had said, and he dropped down onto his knees, too, to wipe a little at the corner of Clyde's mouth.

"Happy birthday," Clyde offered.

Stan kissed him and responded, "It was an amazing birthday. Thanks, Clyde."

From there they seemed to trust each other more than ever before. Stan returned the birthday favor a couple weeks later, when Kyle was gone for a weekend in Jersey with his family, to visit his mother's folks. They laid together in bed afterward, all tangled up and sweaty, smiling goofily at each other.

"You know," Stan said, smoothing a hand over Clyde's brown hair, "I'm glad that you walked in on me, in the locker room that day."

"God, I am too," Clyde said, maybe too enthusiastically – but he'd just gotten a blowjob from Stan Marsh. Who wouldn't be stoked? Stan was probably the best-looking boy in their entire grade, if not the whole of South Park. He was tall, though not quite as tall as Clyde, and built like a Greek statue. He had a nice jaw and a straight nose and big blue eyes that always made Clyde melt a little bit when they were focused on him. Clyde added, "I love hanging out with you."

"Dude, same," Stan agreed. He hooked his leg over Clyde's and pushed a kiss against his jaw, "I dunno, man. I just love this. Being like this, with you. It's nice."

Clyde had bear-hugged Stan at that. People seldom said things as nice as the things that Stan said to him. He never wanted those things to go unappreciated.

The only thing that Stan and Clyde never discussed was Stan's issue with alcoholism. They even discussed Kyle more than they talked about that. Whereas Clyde had overcome his unrequited crush on Craig, Stan's thing for his best friend had never gone away. He still looked at Kyle in a way that he'd never looked at Clyde. It was stupid, but it made Clyde a little jealous. He didn't know why. It wasn't as though Clyde and Stan were boyfriends. They were sex friends. Friends that had sex. Sure, what they did together wasn't sex like most people thought of it. Most people seemed to think that in order to have sex that somebody had to be inside somebody else. Clyde thought that he might like doing that, too, but he still considered what they already did sex.

Stan drank a lot. Clyde watched it happen at too many parties. Clyde would get bored after a couple of beers and move on. Sometimes he'd dance, and sometimes he'd find Craig and Tweek and smoke a bowl. Stan would keep drinking and drinking and drinking until he passed out in a puddle of his own vomit and Kenny or Wendy would call Kyle to pick him up. Like clockwork, Kyle would show up in his pajamas, scowl and glasses on his face, and he'd drag Stan to his car, where he'd buckle him and ship Stan back off home.

Clyde hadn't expected the day to come when Kyle would stop coming.

It was Spring Break, the end of their junior year nearing faster than Clyde imagined was possible. Token always through a huge to-do during this break, because his parents took an annual trip to Europe and left him alone with their house and the liquor cabinet.

Clyde watched Stan carefully – it had become a habit, especially since he let Stan inside him, the first time only a few weeks ago. They'd done it a couple times since, though Stan was scared of hurting Clyde, even when Clyde assured him that with enough lube and enough patience, that he wouldn't.

Stan was on his fifth beer, and Clyde thought that he might have had a couple of shots somewhere in there, but he'd lost track of Stan when he went to go pee and had to herd Wendy and Token out of the bathtub so he could piss in private.

Clyde wanted to dance with Stan, but they had rules against that. No touching in public. No kissing. No dancing. No staring. Nothing that would give them away. Kenny told Clyde once that he and Stan did more harm than help with such an arrangement, but so far nobody had expressed suspicion about the relationship, not even Tweek, who was keenly observant when people gave him the chance to speak.

And so he looked on from a distance, as Stan downed drink after drink. He was far gone, wobbling and shouting across the room at nobody in particular. One moment he was red in the face, and the next he was green, stumbling blindly through the throngs of teenage bodies to find the bathroom.

Clyde waited for Stan to come back, but he didn't. Five minutes passed, then ten. Clyde tried to make himself wait until fifteen minutes had gone by to pursue him, but ended up only making it to thirteen before shoving his way to the downstairs bathroom.

"Holy shit," Clyde said.

Stan had fallen – slipped in his own vomit – and hit his head against the wall. There was blood, and vomit down the front of Stan's t-shirt.

Clyde patted down Stan's pocket and found his phone, quickly finding Kyle in caller ID and ringing him up.

"What." Kyle spat out into the receiver.

"Hey, Kyle, it's Clyde – Stan's like – uh, it's really bad, I think he might need to go –"

"No," Kyle bit out, "I'm not doing this shit anymore. He can take care of his own damn self."

And Kyle hung up.

Clyde felt tears well up in his eyes. He was scared. He didn't know how the fuck to handle this, he only knew that he had to figure out what to do soon. It was a damn good thing that he was strong, because only he could pick up Stan by himself and heave his body up into his arms, stumbling out of the bathroom. He went out the back door to avoid the crowd in Token's living room. Craig was outside, smoking a cigarette, and throwing rocks in Token's pool.

"What's up with him?" he asked, cigarette bobbing in between his lips.

"He's hurt," Clyde hysterically replied, "I think he slipped. I'm gonna take him to the hospital."

"What, all the way to Hell's Pass?" Craig incredulously responded, "Dude, fuck that. Call Broflovski to get his husband or whatever, it's not your problem."

"I tried that!" Clyde barked. Craig actually balked at that, stepping back and Clyde went on, "And Kyle hung up on me, so now it is my problem."

Craig held his hands up in defense and said, "Okay. Whatever, man. Chill out."

Clyde would have flipped Craig off if he didn't have Stan in his arms, so instead he just rolled his eyes and stomped off, out toward Stan's car. He pulled Stan's keys out of his jeans pocket with a little maneuvering and opened the locks, tucking Stan into the passenger's seat with shaking hands and buckling him in.

Clyde drove fast. He never did that. He didn't like speeding – it made him nervous. But he was even more nervous for Stan, and so speed won out. By the time that Clyde burst into the emergency room he was crying like an idiot, because he was a little tipsy and definitely terrified and Stan's head was bleeding all over the Storm Trooper t-shirt that Kevin got him for Christmas.

Clyde babbled at the front desk when he explained what happened. They took Stan away from him, pulling him up onto a gurney. Clyde slumped into a chair in the waiting room, holding his face in his hands until he managed to stop crying. He didn't know how long he sat there for, only that he didn't remember to call Sharon and Randy until a nurse came out to tell him that they'd had to pump Stan's stomach. They said that the head wound was superficial, that head wounds bleed a lot, but that it was the right thing to do for Clyde to bring him in. Clyde hugged the nurse. He didn't know why. He was just relieved that Stan was okay.

They wouldn't let Clyde go to visit Stan's room until Sharon and Randy came, tugging Clyde along with them.

But Stan frowned when he saw Clyde, and he asked, "Where's Kyle?"

Clyde felt a blow deep in his gut, hurting like he'd been kicked over and over. He answered in a whisper, "He isn't here."

"But – who drove me here?" asked Stan.

"I did," Clyde replied, feeling guilt where he'd felt relief only moments before.

Before Stan could answer, Sharon swooped in and hugged him, kissing his forehead and saying, "We were so worried when Clyde called us, honey. Thank God you're okay."

"I'm fine, ma," he said, twisting back out of her grip.

"I texted Kyle to say that you'd be here," Clyde told Stan, which was true. Despite being flamingly angry at Kyle for abandoning Stan in his time of need, he'd still felt the need to text at least 'took stan 2 hospital. got stomach pumped.'

Kyle came at almost four in the morning. He looked like he felt bad, at least. Clyde called a taxi to drive him home when Stan grinned at Kyle's arrival, ducking out of the hospital room and through the front door, sitting on the curb until it arrived.

And that's how he got here. He hasn't spoken to Stan in two whole weeks, and it makes him itch all over with too many different kinds of need. Stan has tried to corner Clyde at school, but Clyde is good at evading people when he wants. He's had to do it to his football coach and multiple teachers, and also Craig.

And it's been working well – until –

Right now.

Clyde has been using the back stairways to get to his classes, but it looks as though Stan has caught onto that. He's waiting for Clyde at the bottom of the steps, frowning. His arms are folded over his chest, and his eyes are wide with question.

"Dude, why have you been avoiding me?" asks Stan.

Clyde doesn't like confrontation. He says, "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Don't give me that," Stan responds, blocking Clyde when he tries to sidestep him.

"I need to go to class," Clyde stiffly says.

"Clyde, what the fuck? Why can't you just tell me what's going on? We're friends," Stan steps forward. He makes a move to touch Clyde, but Clyde flinches back from his touch.

"I – you – it's that you – you don't care, okay? I was so worried for you, but all you cared about was Kyle," Clyde confesses this all to his shoes, "He's straight, but you don't care. You're so fucking hung up on him. I wish you liked me like that."

"What the hell are you on about?" demands Stan, "I'm not hung up on Kyle."

"Yeah, you are," Clyde says.

"Fuck you, then!" Stan snaps, "All we are is sex, anyway. I thought you got that. We weren't ever like, feelings or anything. We were just friends."

"I know," Clyde says, and his voice breaks. He swipes at his eyes and shoves past Stan, using his body strength to his advantage.

He doesn't go to class. Instead, Clyde sits in the bathroom and cries quietly for a little while. He sits there silently for the entire class period, only getting up when the bell rings. He ducks into the nurse's office and says that he threw up. His dad comes for him an hour later. Clyde looks sick enough – hell, he feels sick enough, even though he should be just fine. It was just sex. That was all it was, and he knew that.

But it still hurt to hear it said out loud.

"Are you okay, Clyde?" asks his dad.

Clyde forces a smile and says, "Fine, Dad. I just need to sleep it off or something."

Clyde goes straight to his bedroom after they've arrived back at home. He falls onto his bed with his clothes and shoes still on, giving a morose hello to his goldfish, who looks unconcerned at Clyde's dismal state. He pulls the blanket all the way up over his head and snuggles into the pillows, wishing that he could just vanish.

And in a way, he does. Clyde fakes sick again the next day, and the one after that.

On Friday morning, he must look like a wreck, because his dad takes one look at him before saying that he'll call him in again, shaking his head before he closes Clyde's bedroom door. Clyde sleeps until noon. When he wakes, he shoves his feet into his bunny slippers and trudges downstairs. He pulls a pint of ice cream out of the fridge and plops onto the couch. He watches several reruns of Spongebob silently.

At two o'clock, the doorbell rings.

Clyde answers it with the ice cream still in his hand.

Stan is on his doorstep. He looks like a kicked puppy.

He thrusts out his hand at Clyde. In his fist, there is a wilting handful of wildflowers, the last ones before it gets too cold for them to grow. He starts talking before Clyde can even react to him, "Look, before you close the door, hear me out, okay? I brought you some flowers."

Clyde takes them dumbly. The stems are a little sweaty and they smell strongly of earth, but Clyde appreciates the sentiment. Stan goes on, "I thought about what you said. A lot. And then you weren't at school. Are you okay? Token said you're sick."

Heartsick, maybe.

"I'm faking it," Clyde says softly.


"I'm avoiding you," Clyde replies honestly.

"Oh," Stan frowns, "Um. Well. I feel…weird. Without you there. These past couple of weeks – they've felt like, empty, dude. I mean, you matter to me. I don't know what it is between us or anything, but maybe it is more than just friends? I like kissing you, and I like sleeping with you, and I like when we just like, cuddle and drink beer and watch superhero movies together. Sometimes it's like…that's my favorite part of my entire week, when we do that. It's confusing, but I care about you."

Clyde glances from the crumpled flowers in his hands and asks, "Did you pick these on your way here?"

Stan kicks the edge of the welcome mat on the doorstep and mutters, "I thought it was a nice touch."

"It was," Clyde says, "I mean, it is. It's sweet. Let me – get some water for them. You wanna come in?"

Stan brightens and exclaims, "Yeah! I mean, yeah." Clyde closes the front door behind him and Stan pulls off his slip-ons, nudging them beside the rest of the shoes at the door.

Clyde pulls a glass out of one of the cabinets. He fills it with water and carefully arranges the wildflowers in it. They float a little awkwardly, but it looks nice, so he sets it in the center of the kitchen table. He wipes his palm, now a little damp and green, on the side of his pajamas. Stan is staring at him, shuffling near the door in his socks.

"I'm sorry," Clyde says, "for ignoring you. I know it was immature, I just needed a breather or something."

"Um," Stan says, "This might be like, a weird request, but – can you hug me?"

Clyde smiles and envelops Stan in his arms, hugging him tightly, and lifting him up off of the ground, swinging him back and forth a couple times, until they're both laughing, before he sets Stan back on the ground. Stan grins, knowing that he's been forgiven, and tells Clyde, "You give the best fucking hugs, dude. I mean, like, nobody can lift me up. Only you can."

"I had to carry you that night," Clyde says quietly, "when I took you to the hospital."

"You carried me all the way to Hell's Pass?" Stan's brows lift up high on his forehead.

"No, I mean, out to your car," Clyde clarifies, "I was so scared. I cried in the waiting room."

Stan's face falls back into a frown. He steps forward and strokes his thumb over Clyde's cheek. He leans up and kisses him. He says against Clyde's lips, "I'm sorry that I did that to you." He tastes like spearmint gum, and smells like it, too. Stan rubs his temple and says, "Look, I. I don't really – I guess everybody thinks I have a drinking problem? I don't know that I do, but my parents have me enrolled in some 'Teen Alcohol Abuse' thing or whatever."

"You have two DUIs," Clyde says pointedly.

"I – fuck. Whatever. Just. It's being taken care of supposedly, is all," Stan shrugs.

Clyde tucks a lock of Stan's dark hair behind his ear and pushes his lips against Stan's forehead. He says, "I don't think anything is going to change if you don't believe that there's a problem. You wanna come watch Spongebob with me?"

"Sure," Stan says.

They curl up on the couch together, Clyde spooning Stan with his stomach curled against Stan's spine. They watch cartoons until they fall asleep coiled together underneath a quilt that Clyde's grandma made for his parents when they got married.

They don't wake until Clyde's dad comes home, briefcase in hand and shadows under his eyes. His brows raise when he sees them mashed together on the couch, but he greets calmly, "Hello, Stan. Haven't seen you around recently."

Clyde's dad has a vague idea that Clyde is gay. He got the hint when he asked Clyde about having a girlfriend, and Clyde accidentally replied without thinking, that he'd probably never have a girlfriend, and that that was perfectly fine by him.

"You want me to make some pasta or something, Dad?" asks Clyde, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

"Don't worry about it," he responds, "I'm just gonna head to bed. Long day."

"Kay," Clyde replies, "Goodnight. Sleep well and stuff."

"I will give it my best," answers his dad.

Stan and Clyde listen without speaking as Clyde's dad dumps his briefcase onto the kitchen table, sparing a glance at the glass of crumpled wildflowers before he traipses upstairs. They wait until they hear the sound of his bedroom door closing to glance at each other. Clyde is hard underneath the covers. It makes him blush, because Stan is giving him their secret smile. He tips his head back to kiss Clyde before rolling over, straddling Clyde's hips.

He jerks his head up in the direction of the second floor and asks, "Your dad know?"

Clyde shrugs, "He's got an idea. Maybe more of one, the way he found us."

"Is that a bad thing?" asks Stan, rolling his hips forward so that his erection brushes Clyde's through their clothing.

Clyde hums and holds Stan's waist, thrusting up to meet each movement, and says, "I used to think it might be bad if he found out. But I don't think my dad would make a big deal out of sexuality, when I think about it. Like, he was hit pretty hard when my mom died. I think he like, understands more about how short life is, and how even if he might have been worried about that kind of thing before, that it's not something to be concerned about now. Something like that."

"He might mind if we have sex on the couch, though," Stan teases.

Clyde laughs, leaning up to kiss him, before he answers, "What he doesn't know won't hurt him."

Stan kisses back and says, "We'll have to be quiet. You're not very good at being quiet."

"I am if my dad might catch me," Clyde retorts. Stan laughs. He pushes the blanket back off of them and sets it on the armchair beside the couch. Clyde told him of its significance once – Stan never forgot, and has been respectful of the quilt ever since. He pulls Clyde's shirt up over his head, casting it onto the carpet beside them. He ducks down to lick and kiss along Clyde's collarbone, and run his thumbs over Clyde's nipples. Clyde gasps but reins in the moan that wants to come out, holding his hands in Stan's hair and pressing his mouth closer into his skin.

"You always make me feel so good," Clyde tells Stan, nipping at his ear.

"That's good," Stan responds with a boyish half-smile, "because I love making you feel good."

Clyde whines a little at that, and Stan presses into him again, riding him gently through their clothing. Clyde holds onto Stan's t-shirt, smiling back. He likes this, when they can be sweet and comfortable together, like nothing outside of the two of them exists, just for a little while. There's no Kyle, no father upstairs, no drinking problems and courses for teen alcohol abuse.

"I want this off," Clyde says, tugging at the hem of Stan's t-shirt. Stan pauses his movement for a moment to yank it up over his head. Underneath he looks wonderful as always, all Clyde's and ready to kiss everywhere. That's exactly what Clyde does – he pulls himself up so that he can kiss Stan's neck and his shoulders, down to his nipples, stroking his fingertips over the soft lines of his abs.

"You're so gorgeous," Clyde remarks absently, something that he's told Stan before, but never gets tired of saying.

Stan responds, "You're even more gorgeous, you know that, right?" This is also something that has been said before, and Clyde never gets tired of hearing it. He knows that Stan means it when he says it, that he loves every part of Clyde, with his soft body and fat ass and thick cock and brown eyes. Clyde feels warm everywhere. He pulls Stan down for a thorough kiss, long and tender and perfect as they grind together.

Stan draws back from Clyde to remove his pajama pants, rubbing Clyde's erection through his briefs before he pulls those off, too. He smiles one of those genuine, hazy smiles that a person can't help but wear when they see something that turns them on more than they thought that something could. Clyde loves when Stan looks at him like that. It makes him hard and hot all over, a blush creeping over his cheeks even though they've done this plenty of times before.

"Lube still in the same place?" asks Stan.

Clyde nods and sighs, wiggling his toes in anticipation. Stan digs in between the cushions on the armchair, extracting the bottle. They've already used a lot of it, though maybe that's because Stan gets so nervous about hurting him, and so he uses more than strictly necessary.

"You wanna turn over?" Stan asks, ducking to nip at Clyde's earlobe.

"Mm," Clyde responds, and he heaves himself up, turning onto his stomach and clutching a pillow to his chest, placing his chin on top of it. He wiggles back when he feels Stan's weight behind him. Stan laughs. He doesn't touch Clyde right away. Stan begins by kissing the back of Clyde's neck, working his way down to his shoulder blades, where he lingers long enough to scrape his teeth over Clyde's skin. A shudder goes through Clyde's body. He feels Stan's lips curve into a smile against his back.

The pop of the lube cap sounds behind Clyde, making him all tingly with anticipation. He feels Stan brace himself with one warm hand on Clyde's side. Stan presses a wet kiss to the small of Clyde's back before he starts pushing a single finger inside of him. Clyde huffs into the pillow, wanting to be loud but determined to keep quiet. He pushes back against Stan's hand, earning him a chuckle.

"You excited or something?" Stan asks, voice only a whisper.

"Mm," Clyde says back, pushing back against Stan's hand again, begging.

Stan begins a slow rhythm, massaging inside of Clyde until he finds that spot. Clyde has to bury his head into the pillow to muffle the ungodly noise that he makes, jerking back against Stan's touch.

"God, you're sexy," Stan says, petting Clyde's back with his free hand. When he strokes back inside Clyde, he's using another finger, stretching delicately. Clyde conceals his sounds in the arm of the couch and clutches his pillow close to him. Stan has learned quickly how to strum Clyde as well as he strums his guitar, hitting that note perfectly with each shift of his fingers.

Clyde's cock is aching underneath him. He gasps out, "Touch me, please."

Stan obliges, reaching around to hold Clyde in a loose fist and working in slow, torturous movements.

And then he vanishes. Clyde whines too loudly and looks behind him. Stan is stripping off his jeans, letting them fall to ground, quickly joined by his boxer shorts. He pulls the jeans up off of the floor briefly, to pull out a foil package.

"You came prepared," Clyde comments dryly, but his tone comes out a little desperate.

"I came hopeful," corrects Stan. He gives himself a rub before he opens the package, methodically rolling the condom on over his erection.

When he returns to Clyde, he kisses him on the lips and rubs a hand through Clyde's brown hair, a distraction from the heat of his body, how he's pushing into Clyde.

Stan thrusts inside him in one movement. Clyde cries out into the couch.

"I told you that you couldn't keep quiet," Stan says.

Clyde turns back to stick his tongue out at Stan and replies, "You just feel so good."

The playful smirk falls off of Stan's face, replaced by an open-mouthed expression of pleasure. He pulls back and thrusts back forward. He starts with a slow, tantalizing beat that makes Clyde feel desperate and hot and wonderful everywhere. His hand moves from Clyde's cock to stroke the skin on his stomach instead, a tease. Stan rains kisses over Clyde's back as they move together in sync.

Clyde angles his body as Stan's thrusts get harder, jerkier inside him. He starts hitting that sweet spot that makes Clyde buck up mindlessly, hugging the pillow and crying out into it, praying that his dad is fast asleep and dead to the world.

It's when Clyde becomes lost that Stan coils his fingers around Clyde's cock again, trying to work him in tune with the push and pull of their bodies, but failing. Clyde comes within a few seconds of being touched like this, releasing a strangled cry into the pillow below him. Stan follows him a few minutes after, slumping down on top of Clyde, pushing his hair away from the back of his neck to kiss him. His kisses are sated and tender, Clyde's favorite kind of kisses.

They lie like that for a long, long time before Stan peels himself off of Clyde. Clyde whines at the empty feeling he gets when Stan pulls out of him, quietly padding into the kitchen to throw away the condom. Clyde watches, amused, as Stan rearranges a bit of the trash on top to cover the evidence.

"We can't fall asleep here, dude," Stan says, crouching next to the couch and petting Clyde's hair.

"But I want naked cuddles," Clyde complains into the arm of the couch.

Stan chuckles and pecks a kiss to Clyde's cheek. He says, "We can cuddle naked in your room. With the door locked."

"Fine, fine," Clyde says. He cleans up their mess first, thanking God for leather couches before he stumbles after Stan, trying to be quiet and failing as he lumbers up the stairs. He collapses face first onto his mattress. Stan laughs again and crawls up to sit beside him. He cradles Clyde for a moment, kissing his shoulder before he pulls away to draw Clyde's blanket up over them.

As Stan settles in, curling his body around Clyde's, Clyde thinks that they may not know what it is that they have, but he's glad that they have it, anyway.

Happy Birthday Stanley!