Recently Kyle's been drinking a lot of tea. He's not sure exactly when it started (it was probably gradual) but nowadays he drinks it like it's coffee and he's Tweek. Well, that's definitely an exaggeration, but on average he gets through at least four or five cups a day.
Actually, he's craving one now, and the first drink of the day is always the best. It's early morning and he's groggy, turning in the warm bed sheets, but even with the grey winter light trying to force its way past his eyelids he isn't quite ready to get up yet. Just a couple more minutes, then he'll turn on the kettle.
There's something endlessly enjoyable about the peace and quiet, and the science involved in making the perfect batch of tea. It's all about minute differences and exact measurements, and no one can do it like he can. He's read up online a lot about the best ways to make it, from strange fruit infusions to very traditional style, and he's narrowed it down to the best possible system.
First, before you start anything, it has to be Yorkshire Tea. No discussion, no compromises. He buys it from a 'world foods' store near his apartment in Chicago, and always gets a second box to send his mom back home in South Park. Secondly, it has to be made in a proper teapot, not just mixed in a mug. Once you have those, boil the water and pre-heat the teapot by pouring in a splash of hot water then emptying it again (more important than it sounds – the little things count!). Next add one teabag and fill the pot with boiling water, then wait. How long you wait is determined by how strong you like your tea; for Kyle, three and a half minutes is perfect. NEVER squeeze the teabag to try to make the brew stronger – the secret is patience, so give it time to infuse. Then just serve in a china mug, with a splash of cream and no sugar. That's the perfect cup.
Kyle generally declines when other people offer him tea – it's just that when they ask him 'how he likes it' he can't exactly give them those instructions, and anything else is a disappointment. He's converted friends and family to his method (Bebe called it 'life-changing'), and even Stan now says tea 'is not too disgusting', which is pretty high praise from someone who almost threw up the first time he tried it. Though in fairness it is Stan, and it doesn't take much to unsettle his stomach…
Actually, how could he forget? He was so busy being wrapped up in his stupid fucking ritual about tea that he forgot Stan is here in bed with him, that he'd driven here last night all the way from Colorado. They'd talked as well, properly, and confessed feelings Kyle hadn't dared hope were mutual after all these years until he heard them coming out of Stan's mouth.
He shifts under the covers, adjusting his aching body in discomfort – they'd fucked, too. Hidden away from the bitter winter chill in his warm apartment, they'd stayed locked in this bedroom for hours. The sheets are still musky, trapping in all the sex sweat and that oh-so Stan smell that he can't define but can't get enough of. He paws at the other side of bed to reach the source, but finds just sheets. His eyes snap open – he's alone in the bed.
Kyle runs a hand through his hair – it's all mussed up and a little greasy. Stan has clearly ditched, his phone isn't on the bedside table anymore and his side of the bed feels cold already. Kyle could kick himself for being so stupid, to actually think he was getting some happy ending, that Stan would just give up his life in Colorado to come here and be with him. He's just slipped away, changed his mind, got cold feet, or maybe was just lying the entire time. Maybe it was something Kyle said, or something he'd done – the sex, or –
"You're awake." Stan is standing in the doorway, smiling, holding a mug in each hand. "I made tea."
…He's still here. A pulse of relief flows through every fibre of Kyle's body, relaxing every muscle and letting his lungs fill up again.
Stan walks over to the bed and hands Kyle a mug. "It won't be anything like yours obviously, but I know you love it so I thought I'd give making it a go."
Kyle just stares dumfounded at the liquid in front of him, steaming and warm, a pale brown color. Stan leans over and pecks him on the cheek.
"I couldn't remember if you liked sugar or not, so I just added a little."
"Thanks." He says eventually. "I thought you'd left." The tea is blotchy-looking, and is way too milky.
"What?" Stan looks at him very seriously for a second. He's wearing jeans but no shirt, and his hair looks just as messy as Kyle's but better, kind of perfect. "Dude, I'm not going anywhere. Not anymore."
Kyle smiles sheepishly, a little embarrassed at seeming so on edge and needy already. In fairness though, everyone (Stan included) has heard by now of what life alone in a big city has done to Kyle – left him nervy and anxious, filling his time with stupid obsessions (tea being maybe top of this list).
"Besides, my clothes are still here, if you hadn't noticed." Stan grins, and Kyle looks down to see Stan's socks, shirt and jacket littering the bedroom floor. He mentally facepalms.
Cautiously, he takes a first sip of the tea. He'd been planning to grimace, swallow it and compliment Stan on the taste (something he might need practice of in general, he thinks, smirking) but as soon as it hits his tongue he spits it out, just like a reflex.
"What's wrong, is it that bad?" Stan asks, looking more amused than crestfallen.
"Try yours dude." Kyle replies, struggling not to snigger. He knows exactly the mistake Stan made.
Stan does, taking a slow but surprisingly brave and large gulp. Then, he spits it out as well, laughing hysterically.
"Salt!" He says, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "It was near the kettle – I assumed it was sugar…"
They both can't stop chuckling at the absurdity of it, and Kyle takes another little sip. After all, this was Stan's first ever attempt at making tea – he wants to remember the exact flavour of this failure.
"I'm such an idiot." Stan declares, staring at his mug with a bemused expression.
"No you're not. You're perfect." Kyle takes another sip, complete with a theatrical display of his enjoyment. Stan just laughs and looks at him like he's insane. But it actually isn't that bad once you get over the shock. Maybe it's just because it's Stan that made it, or because of last night, but he doesn't hate this bizarre drink. Badly made tea is always so drab and boring, like mouldy dishwater heated up – but at least this is interesting. It's so Stan.
Now when people ask him 'how he likes his tea' he'll actually have an answer.
"With a pinch of salt. Like my boyfriend makes it."
Someone made me maybe the worst cup of tea ever at work this week, which inspired me to write this haha. Sorry to any Americans who don't drink tea or found that painfully boring.
So I normally hate my own stories, but I'm actually really proud of this weird bit of fluff. Would love to hear what you think!