Close Enough to Burn
Pairing: Kyle/Stan (Style)
Disclaimer: All character and series credit to the geniuses that are Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
Warnings: Angst, sap, gayness.
Author's note: Apparently, I will write fanfiction until I die. Every year I think I'm done for good, I go and write something else.
I've wanted to write another South Park story ever since I started my sophomore year of college last August. Being an engineering major doesn't give one much room to do any creative writing, and I've really missed it.
This will probably be 3-5 chapters. Enjoy, and please never hesitate to leave comments or criticism.
"Ugh. This early in the morning, Stan? Really?"
Grey-blue eyes rolled in their owner's head. Cursing, the boy in the orange parka tied a final loop in his bootstrings and hopped out of the window, shutting it behind him and shivering violently as the usual winter air whistled past through the half-darkness. Kenny looked down at the big wrapped box under his friend's arm, cheeks pink.
"That had better be worth it. I was having an awesome dream! Chicks everywhere!"
Stan ignored the telling grin and stepped back, boots crunching over the snow. "Trust me, dude. You know how early Kyle gets to school. We've got to beat him there." They had made the decision days in advance. Since the redhead was always in class at least fifteen minutes before it started, surprising him would take forsaking the luxury of sleeping in.
"It'll be worth it. C'mon." The two boys made their way up the hill and towards the rising sun, taking a straight course towards the musty yellow building that was South Park High. Stan couldn't hold his smile as he jogged to the red metal doors and yanked one open, scooting in beside his friend and heading for Room 12.
"I can't believe you never told me what you got him!" Kenny exclaimed as they strode up to the classroom door, opening it and stepping inside. As expected, the lights were on but every one of the desks was empty. "He's turning eighteen, man! I could've pitched in."
As Stan sat down in his usual seat at the back of the class, he turned and sent his friend an appreciative look. Kenny had always been the least fortunate of them, and he hadn't felt right asking him to pitch in for that kind of present. He had wanted to get his best friend something really big, but the equally big price-tag had made him hesitant in asking for financial help.
"It's okay, dude, really," he reassured and reached out, patting his friend on the back. "It's still from both of us. I put your name on it, see?" Reaching to the side, he held the box up into Kenny's line of vision, pointing out the permanent marker scrawled on the front of the red and green wrapping paper:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY KYLE
From Kenny and Stan
Kenny grinned for a moment, only to send a wide-eyed look that left Stan momentarily confused.
"What about fatass?"
"Cartman?" Stan checked the clock. 7:33. Kyle would probably be there in less than ten minutes. He couldn't wait to see his expression. "What about him?" he asked as he tucked the box underneath his desk, planning only to get it out when it was time for the surprise. He had to admit, he was a little jealous. His friend was older than him by a couple of months, so he would get to turn eighteen first.
"Well, you know Cartman," Kenny replied and sat back, propping his legs up on the desk and pulling his hood down to expose his nest of hair that evidenced his rolling out of bed earlier. "He's gotta know its Kyle's birthday, too. What if he tries to fuck it up for him?"
A frown settled over Stan's face. "Then we aren't letting him," he replied cleanly, peeling his mittens off and tossing them into his backpack. He glanced at the clock again. 7:35. Kyle was going to be so freaking happy.
"What could he really do, anyway? We're gonna give Kyle his gift as soon as he walks in. Cartman probably won't even be here until the bell. He won't have time to do anything." He grinned. "I don't even think we should stick around." The look in Kenny's eye's confirmed that they were on the same page.
"You wanna ditch after lunch?"
"You know it!"
Stan leaned back, smile still on his face. They might as well go back to his place and try the gift out. He had a feeling it would be difficult to get Kyle to skip school, but the present might just be enough to change his mind...
Suddenly, he was surrounded. The black-haired boy looked around in surprise, eyes flicking across the many rows of seats, startled to see them filled. He had to have zoned out. He checked the clock again and stared in disbelief. 8:01. Brow twitching, he looked around the room to every occupied desk, slowly turning his head and locking eyes with Kenny as both looked to the single empty place between them.
"Dude?" he asked quietly. He wasn't here yet? Kyle was always early! Had he missed the bus? No, none of them took the bus anymore. South Park High was close enough for them to walk...
He shrugged at his friend and glanced back to the front of the classroom, watching stilly as Garrison (seriously, he was still teaching them classes in high school?) approached his desk.
Okay...He's officially late. Stan lightly kicked the box under his desk with his foot. Maybe something had kept Kyle home late that day? Perhaps Mrs. Broflovski had made him a special birthday breakfast, or something. He doubted that Kyle would be hanging out with other friends. The strength of their bond had remained surprisingly solid over the years. They would have to give him his birthday present after class.
"Today we're going to continue with our discussion of the eighth and final season of Desperate Housewives. Now, as we explained last time, Gabrielle was still reeling from her stepfather's death..."
8:03. Shifting uncomfortably in his desk, he glanced back over to his blond friend, receiving a shrug in return. It was very unlike Kyle to be late to anything, especially school. First period was always a bunch of bullcrap, what with having to listen to Garrison prattle on about his favorite TV shows under the façade of it being a 'Modern Studies' class, but Kyle still always managed to show up promptly, which was less than could be said for Stan or Kenny. The redhead even faked taking notes sometimes, as ridiculous as they all thought the class was. Stan knew that his friend took his grades pretty seriously.
That's why he needs to come get his stupid gift... he thought sourly, annoyed at whatever was taking Kyle so long to get there. It had to be someone's fault. Even when sick, his friend usually made it to class.
Suddenly, the click of a door latch jolted him from his thoughts and Stan looked over. What he saw sent him leaning back in his seat, pushing his black bangs out of his eyes to get a clearer view.
"Sorry, Mister Garrison." In stepped an exhausted-looking Kyle with dark bags under his hazel-green eyes, hat noticeably lopsided and exposing a few of his messy auburn curls. His posture was slumped and leaning slightly to his left, his slightly tattered backpack hanging over his shoulder on the same side. One of his shoes was noticeably untied, the laces tangled in themselves and laying on the floor.
"That's all right, Kyle. Take a seat."
Quietly, the newcomer made his way between the rows of desks, reached his seat between his two friends and, without giving either of them a second glance, slid into his desk and did the unthinkable. Stan just watched as the birthday boy sank down and buried his head in his arms, breathing turning slow and measured.
Predictably, Garrison continued with the lecture, appearing to have written Kyle's lateness off as normal teenage behavior. Stan, however, was at a loss for words as he watched his friend seemingly sleep straight through the talk, looking up at Kenny, who was having a similar reaction. He couldn't remember the last time he had seen Kyle looking so...drained. What the hell was wrong with him? He immediately glanced over and saw a familiar brunet sitting a few seats away, also looking over. Suddenly suspicious, Stan narrowed his eyes and turned, ignoring Cartman.
I swear, if he has anything to do with this... Stan did his best to look interested in the lecture as it dragged on, frequently sending concerned looks to both his blond friend and the snoozing redhead. When the bell to end class rang, he heard the squeak of desk feet on the floor and turned. Kyle had seemingly just woken up and was sitting stiffly, staring at the front of the room and then glancing in the direction of the clock. Before either of the boys at his sides could think, he got up and listlessly dragged himself into the hallway, beating the rest of his classmates out.
"...Dude, we have to go talk to him." Stan stood up and hoisted his shoulder bag up with one arm. He snatched the wrapped gift under the other and headed for the door, turning to see that Kenny was flanking him closely.
"I can't right now," the blond replied guiltily. Stan stopped.
"What? Why not?!"
"I have to meet with Miss Hernandez," Kenny admitted with a sigh, one foot out in the opposite direction.
"...You're going to go flirt with her?" the black-haired teen asked in surprise, brow furrowing in annoyance. "You saw Kyle, right? Something's wrong!"
"Nuh-uh. About my grades. I have a meeting." Kenny stepped back, obviously afraid to be late. "She told me to go see her at nine sharp. I'm really scared to piss her off. She might fail me." Another step in the opposite direction, followed by a quick wave. "I'll see you guys in math, okay? Tell Kyle I'm sorry. Don't let him open his present without me there."
Understanding, Stan nodded and watched his friend barrel off. Realizing suddenly that he didn't know which direction Kyle had gone, he turned and strode along the hall with the heavy box still in tow, shoulder aching slightly from carrying it all the way from home, to Kenny's, and finally to school. Where would he go?
The lockers? Stan turned the corner and glanced, not seeing Kyle in the hall anywhere. He wondered what could be wrong with him. Was he sick? Had he gone somewhere to puke?
The bathroom! Turning the corner, he headed to the blue door next to the drinking fountain and pushed his way in, using the extra weight of his bookbag and the wrapped box to shove inside more easily. He took a first look. Nothing. Nobody there. Sighing, he turned to leave when the sound of heavy breathing echoed over the tiled walls, stopping him in his tracks. He paused. It sounded the same as it had in the classroom...
Deciding to take a chance, he slowly followed the noise to the last stall on the left. What if it was someone else? He listened to the breaths for a few more moments, suddenly certain of his suspicions. He knew what his friend sounded like.
"Kyle?" The noise stopped. Stan stared at the stall door. A few seconds later, he heard a soft cough.
"Is Cartman with you?"
Relieved to finally hear his friend say something, he shook his head. "Nah. It's just me."
The door to the stall creaked open a few inches. Stan quickly reached out and pushed it completely aside, staring at the scene that greeted him. Kyle was leaning against the side of the stall, hat off and in his hand. The bags under his eyes were still present and dark. It startled the boy to see them so up-close.
"Dude...what's wrong with you?" he asked incredulously, reaching back and shutting the stall behind them lest someone else enter the bathroom. Upon seeing his friend the redhead seemed to relax a little, continuing to look up before his eyes drifted downwards. Stan followed the gaze, realizing he was looking at the package.
"Uh, happy eighteenth, man," he said with a concerned smile, raising the box up so he could see it. "Me and Kenny got you something. He wants to be here when you open it, though."
Kyle smiled slowly, relaxing Stan a little. "Thanks, Stan." For a moment, however, the greenish eyes fluttered and the Jew readjusted his position against the wall of the stall, agitating Stan's confusion.
"You look like shit," he blurted out and took a step forward, observing the grey visage. "Are you sick? Maybe you should get home and..." His friend tensed visibly and he trailed off.
"...I'm not gonna go home, Stan," Kyle refused outright. He straightened his position a little and, looking down as if to check for the presence of feet outside the stall, glanced back up at Stan with a glimmer of secrecy in his eyes, one that Stan recognized.
A breath. "My parents are getting divorced."
Stan stepped back immediately. He looked at Kyle in shock, too startled to comment. Had he just heard that?!
"I heard them talking about it last night. I didn't get any sleep," the redhead revealed, collapsing into a yawn and slowly returning to his slightly pitiful stare. "They said they're going to get...the papers today. They don't know I know. I couldn't get...I was up all night," he admitted softly. Stan just stared back. Now that he looked, his friend didn't seem ill. He seemed exhausted. It made sense, but-
"Seriously?!" Realizing he had almost shouted, he quickly dropped the volume back down, not wanting to inform the entire school about what was obviously supposed to be kept between them. How could that be? Mr. and Mrs. Broflovski had always seemed to get along! At least, they had when he was around. A pang went through his chest as he watched Kyle yawn again, noting the tired look in his face. Stan remembered when he had turned ten, and his own parents had divorced. He recalled the confusion of it all, living with his mom in the crappy apartment for awhile, not getting to see his dad for weeks on end and just feeling...lost. Granted, he had been younger then, but he was sure he would feel pretty much the same if it were to happen now. They were back together, but he knew that was a rare occurrence. He hadn't been happy about that at the time, but looking back...he was glad they hadn't stayed apart.
Kyle nodded at him in affirmation. Stan gulped, adam's-apple flexing visibly in his throat.
"I don't really know," his friend admitted quietly, rubbing an eye. "They've been fighting sometimes. I think they just...aren't working out anymore. They yell at each other about stupid stuff a lot. I guess they just don't want to live in the same house." There was an uncomfortable pause. "I don't want to go home today. I don't want...for them to tell me."
For a moment, they just looked at each other. Stan had to keep swallowing the lump in his throat. When he looked at Kyle, he saw the same expression he remembered seeing in the mirror all those years back. It had been a long time since he had seen it, but it was still familiar. He wouldn't ever wish it on his best friend.
"Dude...I...I'm really sorry." Stan stepped forward awkwardly, not sure how to express his sympathies. What could he say? The thought of Kyle sitting up in bed all night listening to his parents argue under the floorboards was making his chest ache. His friend knew he was there for him, didn't he? He knew he could come over to his house if he ever needed some time away, right?
"Can I have my present now?"
He blinked. Kyle was smiling, however pained it looked. Heart immediately feeling a little lighter, the taller boy handed the box over, watching his friend stagger with the unexpected weight.
"This is heavy!"
"Yeah. You can't open it, though. Kenny wants to be here for that." Stan purposely left out the fact that Kenny wanted to see what it was, that he didn't already know. He wanted it to be a gift from the both of them.
"Aw man, really?" Sighing, the hatless teen reached out and pulled the stall door open quietly, carrying his gift into the main part of the bathroom and turning, affixing his friend with a soft look.
Stan returned the glance, knowing he wasn't just talking about the gift. He could tell that Kyle was still feeling down, but seeing him genuinely happy about his birthday present was a start. They could talk more about it later, if Kyle decided he wanted to. Right now, Stan just wanted to focus on making his best friend feel happy. You only turned eighteen once, after all. It was probably best to distract him from the sad stuff.
"It's okay, Kyle. Kenny was talking about skipping after lunch. Do you want to come to my house and open your present?" He didn't want to mention playing with it. That would give Kyle a hint as to what it was.
Floored, he took a step back. Had Kyle just- The twinkle in the other's eyes confirmed it. Kyle was going to ditch!
The bell rang, the sound reverberating off the tiles in the bathroom.
"C'mon, let's get to math and get it over with."
Stan followed him out.
"...Okama GameSphere Two?!"
Kyle was knelt among the shreds of wrapping paper, eyes swollen up to a comical size. Stan had just enough time to grin and nudge Kenny's side with his elbow when he found himself suddenly bowled over, back to the carpet with an arm around his neck. He glanced over to Kenny in surprise, seeing his other friend in the same position as Kyle practically strangled them both with the tightness of his grip.
"DUDES! That thing costs...l-like three hundred dollars!" he cried into the carpet happily, embracing his friends with startling strength before sitting up and gazing at them both, obviously shocked. Stan just looked back happily, lips turning into a smirk.
"Yeah, well...I guess my best friend's the only one who's really worth it, then."
"..." The look on Kyle's face was priceless. Suddenly in a headlock, Stan twisted and glanced up at the blue eyes that were staring down at him, feeling a fist messing up the hair on the top of his head.
"Don't look at me, Kyle. Stan's the one that bought it," Kenny said honestly. Embarrassed to be singled out, Stan shrunk in a little bit and shoved Kenny off, reaching up to rub away evidence of the noogie.
"Don't worry about it, Kyle."
"Stan..." Kyle was clutching the box to his chest now, and the happiness in his grin had spread to his whole face. The addressed felt his own mouth turn up into a smile. After the earlier news, it was really good to see Kyle so excited. Hopefully he would be able to forget about his problems at home, at least for the day.
"Hey, you're eighteen now!" Kenny exclaimed as he reached out and patted Kyle hard on the back, face flashing with a sparkly grin with which anyone who knew Kenny was familiar. "You know what that means! STRIP CLUB!"
Stan snorted. "You aren't even eighteen yet, Kenny. That doesn't stop you." Kenny had numerous fake IDs. He had tried to get some for the rest of them on several occasions. For some reason, Kyle hadn't ever really expressed any interest in going to those kinds of places, and Stan hadn't really wanted to go alone with Kenny, so he had ended up refusing, too. Not to mention that he had still been dating Wendy at the time the blond had been making a big fuss about them having a "boys night out". Stan had had a feeling that Wendy wouldn't be too happy to hear he had been out doing things like that.
"No way, dude! I wanna play GameSphere!"
Glad his sentiments were returned, Stan scooted closer and helped Kyle dig through the box, taking the bundled cords from the plastic wrapping and setting them to the side. Hearing footsteps, however, he turned and glanced back over his shoulder. Through the door separating the living room from the hall, he watched the familiar figure stride aggressively down the stairs, blinking.
"That's it, Sharon! All you do is bitch! I'm SICK of it!"
Startled, Stan froze and watched as his mother, in her white robe, rushed down the stairs in hot pursuit, stepping up close to the other figure.
"Maybe I wouldn't have to bitch if you would take some responsibility, Randy!"
Stan was suddenly aware that the rustling had stopped, meaning his friends were listening also. Uncomfortable, he gulped and continued listening.
"I'm not responsible, huh? I'm the one who puts the food on the table, Sharon! I'm entitled to spend some of my money!"
"Your money?!" His mother's voice was even louder now. "I work too, Randy! It's our money! We need to pay off Stan's dentist bill! Do you even realize how expensive that was?!"
"Just stop! Stop it!" Stan's hands went cold as he watched his father storm up the stairs, his mother staying at the bottom.
"Fine! Sleep in the guestroom!"
The angry footsteps died down a few moments later and Sharon slumped noticeably, turning and making her way into the kitchen, seemingly oblivious to the presence of the three boys in the next room over. Startled by the goings-on, Stan scooted back awkwardly and put his hands on either side of him, fingers digging into the carpet. His parents fought once in awhile, but it was rare, and usually wasn't quite that aggressive. He kind of wished his friends hadn't been there to see it. At least he knew for a fact that he wasn't the only one whose parents had problems sometimes. Kenny's parents fought a lot, and Kyle's...
Shit. What if Kyle had heard that and felt-
"Dude, I got it working."
He swiveled around, catching Kyle's eye briefly before his friend looked back to the TV. Stan turned his head, indeed seeing the start-up screen blaring a pleasant neon green back at him. Almost robotically, he picked up the second controller and clicked to start Two-Player Mode on the game Kyle had chosen from his collection in the cupboard under the TV.
Stan was grateful that the GameSphere One games he owned worked in the GameSphere Two. For the next few hours they took turns playing one another one-on-one, doing their best to keep score among them with every win or loss. Since most of the games limited them to two players at a time, the third usually resorted to hunting for snacks in Stan's kitchen while the other two were busy. When Kenny was the one on the sidelines, the blond had taken to stuffing chips and dingdongs into Kyle's and Stan's faces to distract them, cackling in amusement when they got shot or their cars flipped.
"Stan, stay there. I'm gonna check on the other side for enemy tanks," Kyle advised, approaching the chunk of in-game rubble and preparing to leap over.
"Huh? No, wait! I've got more ammo. I'll do it," Stan replied, eyes fixated on the screen, making sure Kyle's character was still in hiding. "If they shoot at me, I'll have a better chance." Tongue pressed into the corner of his lips in concentration, he took a breath and pressed UP to jump, all the muscles in his body tightening when he suddenly felt fingers enclosing in between his legs-
"AH!" He jolted and let go of the controller promptly, gunshots ringing out loudly from the TV speakers. Shaken, he twisted and shut his legs swiftly, greeted with the sight of his friend practically rolling in his hilarity.
"Hahahaha!" Kenny sprawled out on his back and grinned sassily, pointing at Stan as he looked at him upside down and winking as his body shook with laughter.
"What the hell?!" Huffing, Stan narrowed his eyes and glared, looking down at his empty hands and realizing he'd let go of the controller completely. Before he could speak, a loud series of gunshots and a "GAME OVER" boomed from the speakers, adding to his irritation.
"You made us lose!"
"Worth it!" Kenny dodged the punch to his shoulder by rolling out of the way, still seemingly struggling to breathe. Sighing, Stan turned back to look at Kyle, who, to his simultaneous joy and annoyance, seemed to be holding in some chuckles of his own.
"Look, man, don't you do that to enough people?" He sighed, leaning backwards on the arm of the couch. Maybe he didn't. Kenny's sex drive was relatively legendary in South Park, particularly among those his own age, who knew the kinds of things he did. Stan still couldn't quite get used to just how comfortable he was with teasing him and Kyle (and even Cartman once in awhile), though he usually went for people who he didn't know quite as well.
"You're no fun," the blond insisted and sat up, licking his lips. "You guys need to learn to let your hair down! 'Specially you, Stanley." He poked him in the cheek. Kyle was still snickering.
Rolling his eyes and smiling, Stan shook his head and glanced up at the clock on the wall, surprised. 1:05. "We...should probably get to bed," he realized, glancing back to his guests. He was starting to get a little tired, that was true, but mostly he was worried about his best friend. He couldn't let him get no sleep two nights in a row.
"Aw, man! It was just starting to be a party. I didn't even get to feel up Kyle!"
"That's okay with me," Kyle replied seemingly to both of them, dropping his game controller and flicking the OFF button on the TV. The room plunged into darkness and he stood up. Stan saw his friend watching him and looked back, realizing he hadn't yet made the offer.
"You can stay here tonight if you want, guys," he told both of them and moved the controllers aside, his tendency towards neatness showing briefly. Kenny quickly rushed to the sofa and began pulling cushions off.
"Dibs on the sofa bed!" Stan had forgotten that Kenny liked the sofa bed. He himself usually shared with Kyle, since Cartman never seemed to want anything to do with sleeping in Stan's bed and Kenny relished the idea of a full-sized, clean bed all to himself. The host opened the chest next to the couch and pulled out an extra blanket, tossing it at Kenny.
"Don't do anything gross in there," he muttered, smiling at his friend and turning to Kyle. Waving at Kenny's suggestive brow-wiggle, he made his way quietly up the stairs as he had done so many times before, Kyle tiptoeing up behind him, obviously trying not to make any noises that would wake Stan's parents. He opened the door to his bedroom and shut it lightly once they were both inside, glancing over at the sound of a yawn and watching his guest stretch, both arms in the air.
Kyle was obviously exhausted. Hopefully, he would be able to sleep through the night without interruption.
"Here." Stan pulled a grey shirt from the top drawer of his dresser and tossed it onto the bed. Understanding, the redhead wriggled out of his sweater and shirt, stripping down to his boxers and pulling the offered article over his head. Donning a shirt himself, Stan crawled immediately underneath the covers, the chill from the snowy night outside trying to settle in through the walls.
Kyle slipped in beside him and laid on his back. The image of his friend staring at the ceiling all night flashed in Stan's head again and made him nervous. Noticing that Kyle had yet to close his eyes, he shifted awkwardly and turned his head on the pillow.
Kyle turned over onto his side, locking eyes with him. Stan noticed that he was smiling, which was a relief, but the darkness on the pale skin under his eyes had yet to fade.
"Yeah," the other breathed in response. His lips twitched, and Stan found himself wondering if he was faking the happiness. He looked so tired.
"That was a...really awesome gift, Stan. Thanks."
"Oh. Uh, no problem," Stan replied with a dry coat, coughing into his first slightly and smiling back. He paused awkwardly. Kyle didn't look uncomfortable, but Stan felt like he should at least mention-
"I'm really sorry about my parents, dude," he admitted quietly, wincing a bit with guilt. "I don't know what they were fighting about. They usually don't do that." Wait, would that make Kyle feel even worse?!
Kyle looked surprised. He stared for a moment before breaking into a soft smile again. His curls scratched on the pillow as he shook his head in response, the relieved expression relaxing Stan's anxiety slightly.
"That's okay, don't worry about it." He paused to yawn again, the darkness under his eyes more noticeable now. Stan bit his lip.
"You should try to sleep."
The black-haired teen watched his friend turn over onto his other side, and stared as he took a few deep breaths and finally stilled. Staying on his back, he waited for the slow, telling huffs of breath that meant his friend was asleep. After what felt like an hour, Kyle's breaths still seemed shallow, superficial and quick. Too quick to be evidence of sleep.
Kyle was still awake.
Sighing, Stan turned quietly onto his side. What a thing for his best friend to have to deal with on his eighteenth birthday. At least Kyle seemed to have had some fun earlier, when they had been playing on the GameSphere. That's not enough...
Stan knew that had to do something for Kyle. Kyle had always been there for him. He wasn't sure how hard the divorce would end up being for his friend, but he was sure that it wasn't going to be easy. He needed to do something to help get his mind off of it, something where he could just relax and have fun. Something a little more exciting than game night with snacks at his house.
A birthday party... That was it! He could throw him a big party! He could invite lots of people from school. All the ones that Kyle liked, anyways. He could get lots of pizza and junk to eat, and his Uncle Jimbo would probably give him lots of beer with no questions asked. Stan smiled slightly. He couldn't help but wonder what a trashed Kyle would be like. They had only gotten mildly drunk before, and never with a lot of other people around.
He'd have to talk to Kenny about it in the morning. If anything was going to help get Kyle's mind off of his predicament, that was the best idea Stan could think of.
"Happy Birthday, Kyle," he muttered and rolled over, shutting his eyes.
Thank you for reading! More to come shortly.