Eric Cartman came back to school at the start of 9th grade having dropped quite a few pounds. He had been sent to live with his mom's sister in Vermont to work on the farm and it had changed him; he went by Eric and didn't talk much anymore. Kenny came back rather experienced in the sexual department and was able to get the message to everyone even though he was still pretty unintelligible as far as verbal communication went. Kyle had been taken to Israel with his parents for a brief stint during August—of all the times to go to Israel!—and had not lost his virginity like so many other people who have spent time in Israel without their parents have. He came back relatively unaffected, and was ready to get back to school to break up the monotony he'd fallen into after he'd gotten back. And Stan had done nothing. He sat around the house, jerked off, and walked around town—not necessarily in that order. But, you know, standard teenager stuff.

Needless to say, their group dynamic changed and the extra-curricular requirements forced the group into different directions and Cartman's—Eric's—mother had put him in the band in an effort to keep him in the docile state he'd come back to her in and he quickly got swept up into the chaos that is marching band. Likewise, Kenny picked up soccer to transform his body into a lean, mean fucking machine. Kyle thrust himself headlong into his studies to cope with his friends fading out while Stan spent more and more time with a girl—Sandra—who moved to South Park during 8th grade and started dating Stan in late September of 9th grade. They didn't see each other much except during lunch and an occasional throw back to the old days of sitting around to watch brain-liquefying television or doing stupid shit for no reason. These stunts, however, were decidedly less interesting now that Cartman was Eric.

Beyond adjusting to the new way of life, things really weren't happening in South Park; no crazy politicians trying to save the world from a three-parted deadly animal, no crazy celebrities claiming someone was the reincarnation of their dead religious-leader, and certainly no leprechauns. At that point, what were teenage boys supposed to do? The focus of their lives was slowly turned in on themselves.

Not much before Halloween, Sandra started getting impatient with Stan's lack of putting-out. They were only 14, for chrissakes. She was pretty and all but they were too young and the idea of it was too weird.

"I'm not going to be your play-thing anymore, Stanley!" she spat at him one afternoon up in his bed room while they were supposed to just be watching some TV before his parents got home from work. She had tried to mess around and he'd wound up accidentally throwing her off the bed and onto the floor. It really had been an accident but he failed to see how he was treating her like a play thing. The fact that she considered his unwillingness a front to her was not a good sign—14 years old and gagging for it all the time, no thanks! He quickly saw her out of the house and promptly returned to homework evasion.

Unlike Stan, Kyle immersed himself in homework. What else was an intelligent, lonely Jew to do? His parents had cracked down on him since the beginning of the year. High school shapes your future, Kyle, he could hear in his mother's nasally voice, repeated over and over whenever she thought his performance wasn't good enough. The worst part about it all, though, was that his friends didn't seem to miss him much; they were all splintering off from the group to do their different things and bleeding into different social groups, though they weren't cliquey enough to not eat lunch together every now and then which he was eternally grateful for; he really wasn't seeing any human beings besides Ike and parents outside of school.

"Kyle, we're going to your grandmother's house this weekend. You're welcome to bring one of your little friends if you want to."

"Mom, we're fourteen now. We're not little." Kyle protested, ignoring the rest of her sentence. It would be really nice to have some company, especially dealing with his father's mother but there was also the minor fact that one of his friends might have to be subjected to that woman.

"You know what I mean," she made a face and ruffled his now extremely short hair. He was wearing it as cropped as possible in all attempts to avoid the damnable Jew-fro that was inevitable otherwise.

"All right. I'll consider it." He hunched away from his mother, hoping his body language would convey to her that he wanted her to get the fuck out of his room. She took the hint and made to leave.

"I mean it though. We are going. Your father's mother is turning 80 soon and we don't know how much more time we have with her."

Kyle hated it when his mother talked to him like that, like his was an adult. He was too young to be an adult yet. He shooed her out and she left that time. I guess I can ask Stan…he thought, staring down at his silent phone nestled among the papers of homework all over his desk. We haven't hung out in a long time anyway.

It was a Tuesday, which would give Stan enough time to clear it with his parents if they were leaving Friday afternoon.

I'm going to my grandma's in Denver this weekend. Mom says you can come along if you want.

Kyle sent the message to Stan, feeling a little nervous. What if Stan didn't text back or he sent a text saying he couldn't go along? When he received a text back nearly immediately, his heart skipped a beat.

Hey! Sounds great will ask parents give me a sec

Kyle was amused by Stan's lack of punctuation but didn't begrudge him anything; he was just so happy to have gotten a text back so quickly. With that in mind, he set back into his homework, waiting for Stan to text back.

They said I could go since denver is like an hour away ill have to do alot of chores to make up for it though so ill see you on friday

Well, that was easy, thought Kyle. He shot Stan a quick OK and then got back to studies as before. Weird, but easy.

Friday rolled around and Stan's parents dropped him off at Kyle's house after school. Stan had made himself scarce at school so that was the first time Kyle had talked to Stan since Tuesday. To say it was awkward was a little…understated. But mostly only on Kyle's part; Stan didn't really seem to mind either way. He launched himself on Kyle's bed and stared up at the poster of Starry Night on the ceiling.

"How was your week?" Stan asked.

"Fine," Kyle tried to be nonchalant as he looked at his computer screen; he was 14 and still had a home computer rather than a laptop. He really wasn't doing much on it but opening tabs on the browser, scanning over them, and then closing them. He googled a few random things, pretended to read the Wikipedia page, and checked a few of his emails.

"What are you doing over there?" Stan asked again, not really looking at Kyle or the computer.

"Just routine stuff before I leave it for the weekend."

"Yeah, you really wouldn't want to lug that thing around just for two days. Ha!" Stan seemed to be part of a disjointed conversation; Kyle didn't feel like Stan was talking directly to him.

"Are you hungry? I think we're gonna be leaving soon so maybe you should go grab something to eat before then."

Stan just nodded and hopped off the bed. Kyle went to the bathroom and shortly after that the five of them piled into a car for the hour trip up to Kyle's grandmother's.

Dinner was boring and everyone sat around for a few hours afterward staring at the giant, high def TV that Mrs. Broflovski had set up in her parlor. Kyle's grandmother passed out in her arm chair pretty quickly and Ike got tired and went to bed around ten. Kyle's parents followed about a half hour after that and recruited Kyle to help his dad carry the sleeping, elderly woman into her bed room next to his parent's bed room on the first floor down the hall from the parlor. Stan and Kyle stayed up until past midnight. They could hear Mr. Broflovski snoring down the hall and his wife's heavy breathing next to him.

There were only the two bedrooms down stairs—Kyle's grandmother couldn't really go up stairs anymore so she had one of the downstairs rooms and his dad wanted to be near her in the night just in case—and two upstairs. Ike had one of the upstairs bedrooms so Kyle and Stan were sharing the other room.

"I'm beat," Kyle announced to Stan who was in the kitchen looking for something to drink.

"Kyle, I found something…come over here…"

Kyle followed Stan's voice into the kitchen and saw him standing with a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey in his hand.

"Does your grandmother drink often?"

"No, she's too old really for that."

"Well, somebody ought to drink it or it'll go to waste…"

"Um, I guess you're right. But we probably shouldn't drink all of it."

"Nah. Just enough," Stan winked at Kyle and lead the way, as quietly as he dared, up to their shared bedroom while Kyle wondered if drinking was what Stan had been doing all summer. There was only one bed and Kyle had planned on sleeping on the floor so he went about making the bed out of sheets and comforters before he was too drunk or something to do so.

"What are you doing?" Stan asked, looking at Kyle oddly.

"Making my bed before we get too drunk?" He looked quizzically at Stan.

"No, no, no. We can share the bed. It's not a problem." Kyle just shrugged and accepted it. Generally guys didn't share beds at that age; it was only proper to let your guest have your bed and you sleep on the floor or an alternative bed.

"Come and sit down," Stan was already on the floor, in front of a small television that had a VHS slot in it. He turned it on and Mystery Men was playing at the part with the Waffler. "I love this movie!" Stan said, more to himself than anyone else. Kyle came and sat next to him, his stomach alight with crazy butterflies. He had no clue what this experience was going to turn out to be but he had a feeling it probably wasn't that good.

"Want the first sip, Kyle?" he asked, twisting the lid off and taking a small whiff. Kyle was too nervous to speak so he simply shook his head. Stan shrugged and tilted the bottle back so he got a good mouthful. He nearly spat it out, gulping down too much and the harsh alcohol hitting every inch of his unprepared mouth. He coughed a bit and then passed the bottle on to Kyle.

"God that shit was nasty…Go ahead Kyle. It'll only take a few shots like that and we'll be as drunk as we need to be." At least Stan was realistic about his size and the alcohol content. "Just do it, Kyle. It tastes like shit but it'll be over in like a few minutes. You'll be too drunk to care!"

With those words ringing in his ears for reassurance, Kyle lifted the bottle to his lips and took a gulp like he expected it to taste like sweet tea or something, which it very much did not. It tasted sort of sweet but not in a good way and it hit all the spots in his mouth where he knew he wouldn't be able to wash it away quickly. He gagged on the taste but swallowed the liquid all down. It was horrible and he really didn't want to do it again. But he did. He and Stan both took four more gulps each and then their heads were spinning and their bodies were heavy and they were saying words they really didn't understand.

"Who's the fuckin' man?" Stan had asked.

"You are!" Kyle had affirmed and they both sort of snickered at that.

"I think it's time to crawl into bed," Stan slurred and Kyle agreed, rocking a little bit as he attempted to stand from his cross-legged sitting position. They both stumbled a bit but made it to the bed no problem.

"What about the moooovie?" Kyle said, lurching awkwardly toward the television. He did not fall and successfully managed to get the TV turned off.

"That was awesome!" Stan said, lifting up a hand for a high five. "High five me," he instructed and Kyle obliged. To the surprise of both of them, the high five was nearly perfect. Or, at least that's how they remember it being.

"I need water!" Kyle nearly exclaimed, lurching once again except this time towards the door. There was a bathroom at the end of the hall and Stan followed him to it. They were surprisingly good on their feet despite the spinning in their heads and the uncanny ability of the floor to tilt this way and that. The faucet was turned on and both boys took turns sticking their grateful faces under the stream of restorative substance.

"Hell yes." Stan said, his breath heaving in his chest from drinking so much. Kyle just wiped his mouth and made for the bedroom where they had left the light on.

"Bed time." Kyle said, falling into the bed.

"You said it." Stan fell nearly on top of Kyle, his hand on top of Kyle's chest. They sat there for a few minutes—or maybe just thirty seconds, for all they know—in silence, the back of Stan's hand rubbing lightly against Kyle's chest. Then, it was like the floodgates had opened, for both of them. They turned towards each other and attempted, very amateur and ungraceful, to kiss each other in the midst of their drunken stupor. Neither seemed to remember much after that; they pretty much passed out.

The next day they woke up feeling a bit nauseous and not very willing to move. It felt like that awful tasting whiskey was sloshing around in their stomachs and they kept tasting it over again. It was nearly ten and they would probably be woken up personally if they did not make an appearance soon. They most definitely had already missed breakfast but that didn't matter much seeing as their stomachs probably wouldn't have let them eat anyway.

Before Kyle could really even think about getting up Stan had bolted from the bed and launched himself into a shower. He came out feeling much better though still a bit groggy and not too hungry.

"Kyle, throw up while you're in the shower. It'll make you feel better," Stan said, not looking at Kyle while he rummaged through his overnight bag. Kyle's stomach dropped and he hoped Stan wouldn't be so evasive the rest of the weekend and when they got back to South Park but he probably would; he was a boy after all and they had made out the previous night while drunk. That's awkward as fuck, to be making out with your best friend, even while drunk.

Kyle threw up in the bathtub and it washed away down the drain, making clean up extremely easy—it was the little things that made life better—and he did feel better afterwards as well, though all he really seemed to want was crackers and some cheese.

The rest of the trip went as predicted. Stan was quiet and avoided Kyle, and slept on the floor Saturday night. And he kept his trap shut in the car on the way home. He just barely said goodbye and thanked Kyle's parents when his own parents came to pick him up from the Broflovski's house.

Fucking great, thought Kyle, sitting down to his booting computer. There goes the rest of this year.

It had to have been about a fortnight later, right after school when all the Broflovskis but Kyle were out of the house, when Stan came knocking and burst in through the cracking of the front door. With boys, there really was no room for words; Stan smashed his flat, scrawny chest against Kyle's similarly built one and pulled Kyle's face to his by the base of his skull with one hand so as to force their mouths together. It was frantic and sloppy and not a little disgusting. Stan was working so fast that he was getting a lot of spit all over Kyle and despite how excited and heated he was by the sheer surprise of it all, the Jewish part of him was still a bit disgusted by all the slobber on his face.

He pushed Stan away, and Stan was disappointed that he'd been rejected but he couldn't say he blamed Kyle; he had taken a chance coming over and barging in the way he did. He made to apologize but Kyle wasn't hearing any of it. He wiped his face very plainly for Stan to see and then pulled the other boy back to him as roughly as Stan had first done.

Kyle's whole reaction was really not what Stan had expected. In fact, he really wasn't sure what he expected but the more time his brain had to catch up with his roaming hands and his ever-sloppy mouth the more he started to panic. He pushed Kyle away and ran a nervous hand through his hair; he was breathing heavily and couldn't make eye contact with the other boy.

"Is this really happening?" He asked, more to himself.

Kyle was heaving too. He was so nervous now that he was looking at what he'd done. Could it be real? He didn't want to let it go because it had felt so damn good but it was fucking weird. Stan had been his friend for so long. What if shit went south? His brain was racing through the possibilities when Stan spoke again.

"We don't have too much time." He proclaimed, wiping his mouth again, pushing Kyle up against one of the walls in the foyer, and squatting in front of him while pushing up the other boy's shirt. He tried desperately to get Kyle's pants undone but his hands were shaking like jell-o and nothing felt real. It was really kind of a miracle that the pants came lose at all; honestly, they probably got tired of Stan pawing all over them and just undid themselves.

Stan was only fourteen but he'd been masturbating long enough to sort of know how to navigate a penis when he saw one. The orientation was all backwards and he was squeezing in the wrong places at first but he sort of found himself getting the hang of it while Kyle whimpered and moaned loudly above him. Stan couldn't look Kyle in the face, he had to just concentrate on what was in front of him lest the reality of the moment hit him too hard and cause him to freak the fuck out. He listened carefully for the tell-tale sounds he knew he made when he was getting close and knew when to stroke harder and faster and harder and faster until Kyle spilled his small contribution to the situation on Stan's hand and a drop or two on his shirt. He didn't mind too much and walked pretty immediately to wash away what he could. Kyle followed him and watched in mild fascination from the threshold of the downstairs bathroom.

As Stan left the bathroom and was passing Kyle, he pulled him in for one more intense kiss. And at that point it became a tacit agreement between them that this sort of thing could be allowed to continue whenever time and need permitted.

"See ya later, Stan." Kyle saw Stan out the door, neither of them making eye contact with the other.

"Yeah. Later." Stan replied quietly and left.