Consistent

BY : RandomJaz
Category: +S through Z > South Park
Dragon prints: 7346
Disclaimer: I do not own South Park or any of it's characters, nor do I profit from this fanfiction.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hey, guys! I got a couple of new commenters on the AO3 site, along with my usuals! Love you all! That was super awesome! 😊 Double update, today! *Dances off screen*

xxxxxx

The whole school became a war zone of germs. Kids were getting sick left and right, dropping like flies. I went to school Monday, taking some DayQuil to get me through the day.

The fever had to stay down. If I kept it under control, I could scrape by. Mike went back and forth with me that morning about why I should stay home in bed, not go to school.

I would be miserable at home, or at school. At school, I was saving an absence to be used on a day I couldn't be bothered to go.

"Something is going around real bad, kids." Mr. Stuart took attendance, noting the six empty seats. "Wash your hands really good and don't breathe on each other. There's hand sanitizer on the table with the tissues. Use it."

My paleness was sickly, I was more withdrawn than normal. The wall on the clock ticked and I watched the hand move with each second. I spaced out and I almost missed my name being called.

Mike nudged me.

"Here, Mr. Stuart. Sorry."

Mr. Stuart made eye contact with me from across the classroom, over the clipboard he was taking attendance with. He couldn't for certain tell what was going on with me, at first. I was never the picture of health, or bright in the morning. This was bad, even for me.

"…Pete, do you need the nurse?" He asked, with trepidation, aware that his question could be taken offensively in the scenario he wrongly judged my appearance for being ill. "I can write you a pass."

"I don't need the nurse, Mr. Stuart."

"You're whiter than a ghost, bud. You sure?"

I wasn't anywhere within breathing distance of anyone, except Mike. Everyone, with the exception of Mike, did a little scoot away with their desks, like I had the plague. I'm sure if I sneezed, they would have scattered like mice.

"I want to stay in class."

I needed to save as many absences as I could. I didn't actually want to be here with these wretched people, where I couldn't be coddled and nurtured by the angel on Earth sitting next to me.

Mike making my life suck less, made life in general suck so much more in comparison. Ughhhh! I hate everyone else here. I wanna sleep. They're awful.

"If that's what you want…er, Mike, you may want to move seats." Mr. Stuart warned, looking out for him. "Pete looks like he's coming down with something."

"I'll take my chances, thank you."

Being goth set you up for most people to avoid you, and act as if somehow you were contagious with something that they didn't want to be a part of. It was dehumanizing. Being sick was more justified for people to keep their distance.

Mike sitting at my side while I was both...I felt like a person. One who matters.

I wasn't much of a person today, however. Being in class didn't mean I was present in any respect of the word. I didn't participate, pay attention, or care that I was taking a risk by falling asleep.

Mike kept an eye out for any airborne objects, taking notes for the both of us. Him sitting right there gave me some level of protection. Mike's eyes were on the front board, but I was on his radar. I wasn't totally defenseless.

In fact, if Clyde messed with me today, Mike's entire backpack may have gone across the room. Knock him right out of his seat. Screw the granola bar. Mike preferred I eat it, if I could stay awake long enough for him to offer it to me.

Rip!

Clyde tore a piece of paper out of his notebook. Mike's head shot left, his pencil stopped on a dime. Clyde flinched when he looked right.

He was the quarterback. Mike was bean pole. A sexy bean pole with a nice shape to him, but still a bean pole...This fever was making me think weird shit.

Mike's beautiful face was void of any emotion. All his features were expressionless, and flat. Except for his red eyes. That was new...

He narrowed them slightly, daring Clyde with his gaze to fuck around. This wasn't the taunting, flirtatious retaliation he got, normally. Mike threw daggers at him with just his stare.

That piece of paper wasn't even to pester me with. It was actually for Craig. He forgot his notebook.

"Thanks, Bro." Craig reached over and took it. "Owe you one."

Grimacing when he moved from Mike's challenging stare, to my miserable state of being, Clyde resumed his note-taking. There was plenty more paper at his disposal. It all stayed in his notebook.

I wouldn't be getting shoved in to a locker, or bothered, in the halls. Clyde didn't have an interest in getting sick. My germs were repellent enough to leave me alone.

There might've been some empathy involved there. He could've thrown paper at me without risking infection. Karma would have hit him back in the form of Mike's bag... But, he still could have done it to assert dominance.

It wasn't all Mike's sharp stare that eased him off. Though, he didn't take that lightly.

xxxxxx

Mike couldn't personally watch me, all day. It worried him more than when he left me home to sleep my first sick day. At least, there, he knew that I was in one place, and okay.

At school, I was on the move every hour, or so, to switch classes. It was going to take a lot out of me.

Were the hallways and stair cases always this long? They went on forever. The day went on forever.

With the use of spies, Mike kept tabs on me. Between bells, it was like clockwork. A set of red eyes and dyed hair would pop out from around a corner, or pass me, taking a silent report to send back to the head vampire.

Having so many close friends made it super easy for Mike to keep eyes on me. With all of them around, no one had to go out of their way to find me. Someone was going to pass me, regardless, between classes.

The next time Mike anticipated to see me with his own eyes, was Lunch. I didn't show up to the cafeteria. There would be too much noise and I didn't want to plop my sickly head on the table to nap while everyone ate their food.

I went to the Library. Without forewarning Mike of my absence. It didn't cross my mind. I wanted to find a quiet table far away from everyone else.

Situating myself at a table in the far corner, I put my head down on my arms. Something in me told me I was being watched. I glanced up, almost missing the glimpse of black and purple disappearing behind a bookshelf.

Vlad was always at Lunch. Today, he was stopping in to grab something he needed. He checked out a book and left. I knew who the next report to Mike was coming from.

He was going to sit with Mike, surrounded by a filled room of other people. Me not being one of them rubbed me the wrong way. Was Vlad going to take my spot?

The bell just rang minutes ago. I could still go if I wanted to...There was nothing to stress over. Mike wouldn't be any less mine because I missed some time with him.

But, I felt better when he joined me in the library, unannounced. He came straight to me, with directional help from Vlad, I'm assuming.

Jesus, when did I get so clingy? This insecurity didn't suit me. Stop it, Pete.

"You didn't think you were going to get away with not eating, did you?"

"Pick your battles. I haven't had coffee, or cigarettes, since Friday."

"You must be plenty hungry, then."

I was. All weekend, it felt like all I did was freaking eat and sleep. For two days, I was as close to a literal baby bat as Mike would ever get me.

Nicotine and caffeine withdrawals were overshadowed by my already existing overwhelming malaise, and constant hunger. I had to eat my meals or the hunger pangs, alone, would debilitate me.

Being so hungry was painful. I didn't want to say it was worse than this temporary hiatus from my chemical dependencies, but it was. It really was.

Was I really smoking and drinking coffee THAT much? My stomach had a mind of its own without it, screaming at me for food now that I was forced to hear it. Saturday and Sunday, Mike got three full meals in me, and three calorically-dense snacks. Real food- Not overly processed garbage and empty calories.

My sandwich and fruit for the day were presented to me. Whole wheat bread generously filled with turkey, with a peeled orange. There were also two string-cheese sticks. These meals Mike were giving me were more food in one sitting, than what I'd been eating for whole days before.

"No apple, today?" I opened the plastic baggie my sandwich was in, going for the most filling thing first. "That's different."

"You need the vitamin C."

"It's in the juice too, you know."

I was being an ass for my own amusement. Mike tried all weekend to get me to drink orange juice, to no success. Orange juice was an acquired taste, in my opinion.

It's tangy, sour, and too sweet all at the same time. And, its acidic. Too much going on, there. Ew. I could handle the real fruit. The juice could fuck itself.

"Bratty bat." Mike flicked a napkin at me. "You're lucky I don't funnel the juice down your throat."

"I'll eat the orange. Orange juice sucks, it tastes like ass."

"Oh, so you know what ass tastes like? How interesting."

Now Mike was amusing himself in retaliation to my nonsense. I was embarrassed by what that joke implied.

"No, I don't know what ass tastes like."

"You seemed pretty confident that it tastes like orange juice."

Going back and forth with this guy wasn't an average banter. He could feed me back my own bullshit, and sarcasm, as fast as I spit it out. How entertaining, or frustrating, it was all depended on my mood.

"Who's instigating now?"

"You're the one going around tasting ass."

"Mike, shut the fuck up."

Xxxxx

Working with the flu was not a Mike-approved decision. It led me to an unproductive night. I used a stool to sit at the register, wearing a medical face mask my boss gave me to keep my germs to myself.

No one was available to cover my shift because they were also sick. I was sick, but willing to work. We were too short-staffed, otherwise my boss would have sent me home.

A slow Monday brought in some old people to play a couple of rounds of bowling. They also bought scratch tickets from the machine by the arcade area, while their grandkids played games. Not the worst kids we'd had in the place. They weren't raising hell.

"Yikes." Butters came back from a soda spill clean-up in the arcade. "By the looks of it, you could keel over any second, Pete..."

"I'm going home to sleep as soon as my shift ends."

"I reckon you should...it's a shame I can't be in two places at once or I'd take your shift. This isn't the place to be, all pale and dreary like that. You're not okay, I'd say."

Pale and dreary? Not okay? Hm. Didn't sound new.

Get the flu, and everyone suddenly gives a shit and notices.

"When I have ever not been pale or dreary?"

"You ain't ever looked like this, before. I know you like to hang out with your friends at the old cemetery, but you might give someone a heart attack stalking around looking dead like that."

"Good thing I'm not going to the cemetery. I'm going home. To sleep."

That Butters Stotch guy was pure-hearted, like a little kid. How he kept that innocence was a mystery. The world around us doesn't nurture that personality.

"Hiya, welcome to the bowling alley." Butter greeted someone coming in. "Pete, I'm gonna go refill the ice in the soda machine so you don't have to."

"How can I help you?" I asked before turning around.

Henrietta and her younger blonde brother, Bradley, were there. He brought one of his middle school friends. Sweet, naive kid. Reminded me of Butters. They could have passed as siblings.

"A round for these twerps, Pete."

Bradley and his friend got their bowling shoes. Henrietta slid money across the counter. Her long black nails skeeved me out. They looked like claws.

Mike's coffin-shaped nails were nice. They weren't sharp. And, they felt nice in my hair. Henrietta's nails were that sharp stiletto shape. They could probably hurt you if you pissed her off enough.

"Mom asked where I was going and made me take those tumors with me." Henrietta huffed. "Annoying conformist cunt."

"That sounds like your mom."

"Whatever. She's the one paying for them. Not coming out of my pocket."

She bought one round for them. This visit wouldn't be long.

"I need a favor." She cut to the chase.

That's what this is about. Inconsiderate bitch. I'm standing here with a god damn medical mask! At work! I should be at home IN BED.

"Do I look like I'm in any condition to do you a favor?"

"Don't get your undies in a bunch. It's about Michael."

"I'm not doing you any favors related to Michael. Leave me alone."

Putting her hands together, she brought them to her mouth and held back from giving me her attitude. And, I mean she really held back. She had to deal with her brother, her patience was worn thin already.

This must have been important because she didn't cave to her aggravation. She centered herself and carried on.

"He's driving us off the walls, Pete. There's nothing we can do, Georgie and I can't fix this."

I was right. Michael was getting so bad that Henrietta, and Georgie, were at their wits ends. They were trapped with his fermenting rage. It was choking them.

"Shoes on the other foot. Not my problem."

"I'm not going to pretend Michael can't be a suffocating asshole. You needed space." Henrietta said, actively holding back her true irritation. "I get it, Georgie gets it. Literally everyone with eyes and ears, gets it. The only person who doesn't-"

"Is Michael. Which brings us back to: It's not my problem. Leave. Me. Alone."

Georgie used us as a safe haven from his house. He couldn't have that with me gone, Michael was boiling over. I'm sure Henrietta was letting him come over in secret without Michael around. But, Georgie shouldn't have to deal with that.

I shouldn't have to deal with that. I'm not going to.

"For fucks sake! Pete, I never ask you for anything."

"That just changed, didn't it? Tough break."

"Talk to him. Text him, call him, go see him in person. I don't care, just give him SOMETHING before he gives himself an aneurysm and takes us down with him."

One of the elderly customers began approaching the counter, money in hand, ready to pay for another round amongst her chums. Henrietta stepped aside when I told her to make way. Customers first.

"I'm asking you, as your friend. Help me."

Xxxxx

I could hardly stand at the end of my shift. Henrietta was long gone before that. I could have really used a ride, right about now. I wasn't willing to do her a favor, so I wasn't about to call and ask her for one.

She should have at least offered. "I'm your friend. Help me." goes both ways.

Mike would come get me, but I didn't want him to know I worked. I lied and told him that I wouldn't. Bad move… I need the money, though.

Stan was also an option. He'd jump at the chance to see me. Can't reach out to him, though. Give him ideas or false hope. For a coward, he was ballsy. He'd try something.

Michael used his Dad's old truck when Henrietta wasn't around to drive. When it was just the two of us. Any time he could secure with me, he'd take. Now included.

These choices were getting worse as the list went on. I'll walk, I decided on my way out back to toss the garbage. Throw away the garbage, and today will be over.

"Your new accessory's atrocious."

It didn't shock me to find Michael in the back alley, smoking. Henrietta told him I was working. He showed up while I'm at my worst. Nobody has any consideration.

So much for leaving the ball in my playing field. Not catching a break today. Or, ever, if it were up to these leeches.

"Boss made me wear a medical mask. I have the flu."

"Henrietta said that."

Trying to open the dumpster, I exhausted myself. Michael gave me his cigarette to hold and dealt with the trash, for me. He chucked the two bags in.

"It won't bite." He deadpanned, taking back his cigarette that I held away at arm's length. "What's with you? You act like you've never had a cigarette before."

"I'm struggling to breathe, as is. I haven't smoked in days. It'll set off my asthma."

An asthma attack on top of having the flu…anything but that.

"You must really be sick." With his last drag, Michael dropped the bud and crushed it. "The truck is parked out in the lot. I'll drive you home."

"I can walk."

"Can you?"

Climbing up in to the truck wasn't easy like plopping down in a car. Michael had to stand behind me, hands on my back, to ensure I didn't fall. His boney, unsettling hands, on my lower back. From the outside looking in, we must've looked like two skeletons trying to climb out of a grave.

"You're not going to fall. I'm behind you."

"This is harder than I remember it being…"

Everything was spinning and my arms were weak. I stopped to catch my breath. God, if you're listening, I'll get my flu shot next time.

I can only do that if I make it to the end of this week, alive. Help a guy out.

"Pull yourself up, and I'll push you in." Michael instructed me. "I'll do the work, you just gotta lean in."

Pushing the backs of my thighs, he got me up in to the passenger side. I leaned back in the old leather seat, cursing this vehicle. Michael closed the door and walked around the front of the truck.

He pulled himself up in to the driver's seat with one smooth movement, aided by his height. Meanwhile, I had to climb Mount Everest and almost die on the journey. Day 4 with the flu, make it go away.

"This wasn't how I wanted to see you." Both hands on the steering wheel, Michael pulled out of the lot.

"I'm hard to look at, I know. My immune system is shit."

"I meant I wanted you to come to us. Why haven't you?"

"Are you having memory loss?"

The radio wasn't on. Michael always put something on when he drove. He had a whole album of CD's in the glove compartment.

"You aren't back with that moron. All this free time, what are you doing with it?"

"How would you know if I'm with him, or not? You hounded me over it two days ago."

"The whole football team is still yucking it up how the season went out with a bang. Stan isn't."

Michael scoffed in bitter bewilderment, breaking for a red traffic light.

"He looks lost. It's like fourth grade all over, again. Raven's sulking around in disguise."

"No, he isn't. Stan doesn't know what real pain is. Raven never existed."

I didn't think the words out before I said them. They just tumbled out. I harbored that devastating truth since the day Stan left our group. Raven never existed.

It was the first time I'd ever said it out loud. I admitted it. Michael couldn't ever get me to. Here I was, in the twelfth grade, finally emerging from my denial.

Michael was floored. He turned his head a few degrees to the right. His truck was running, the sound of the motor all you could hear in the eerie pause.

"What did you just say?"

"…Raven never existed." I looked out the window, hiding the water welling up in my eyes. "Stan was never one of us."

I'm on the verge of crying in Michael's truck. Pull yourself together. Now. Being tired and sick isn't an excuse to be a weepy wuss.

I get sick and suddenly I'm sensitive.

"Light's green." I said, because we were still parked in the middle of the road.

I almost croaked the words out. My throat was closing up on me.

A car came up behind us and beeped its horn. Michael didn't give it his signature middle finger. He put the truck back in drive.

His mind must've been racing a mile a minute, or processing agonizingly slow, because kept to himself the rest of the short drive. He came and got me with a mission in mind, and now he couldn't finish it.

Better that way.

"Thanks for the ride." I told him when we rolled up to the curb at my house.

"Pete."

My hand was on the handle. So close.

"Look at me."

"I'm tired, I don't feel well. I'm going to bed."

Michael grasped me by my bicep. It was careful. Oh, so careful. But, firm.

"I said, look at me."

"I told you I'm tired."

We stayed like that. If I dared try to leave again, his forgiving grip would flip. Michael wasn't angry. Seeing me in person was what he wanted. It pacified him.

That could change. A fickle balance. I'm sitting on eggshells.

"Pete."

"Let me go to bed."

"Don't make me say it, again."

My tears were fresh. They never dried up.

"He was never one of us." Michael held unwavering eye contact. "You've always been one of us."

"…"

One finger started pulling down the protective cloth covering my face.

"I'm sick!" I blurted out, pulling as far back as I could with one arm trapped.

"We're all sick."

My mouth and cheeks were exposed. He could see my whole face. Stained with tears, the only hint of color to be seen was the pink beginning to rim my eyes.

I missed my overgrown bangs. I could hide behind them, once upon a time.

"I shouldn't have let him in." Morosely, Michael berated his decision long ago. "I regret it every time I look at you. Look what he's done."

"Him? What he's done?"

Accountability was a resource growing scarce. Stan's went extinct a long time ago. Michael's may be dying out right along with it… that, or I wasn't the delusional one in this equation.

"I've always tried to take care of you."

"Always? Strong choice of words."

The last two months didn't count, evidently.

"We were here first. You've made it impossibly difficult to deal with you, putting that piece of shit before us."

"Before YOU." I corrected him. "So long as I spent time with you, could have cared less if I spent time with Henrietta and Georgie."

"Have you fucking stopped to consider why that is? Before you make me the monster in your sunshine fairytale, give it some damn thought."

In some "perfect" version of his crumbling, dim world, Michael would drop Henrietta and Georgie if it meant we'd be together forever. Down in hell, we'd sit amongst the ash and brimstone, watching the ocean of fire burn one day.

"Drop it, already. Okay? Michael, you don't love me."

"Life isn't a happily ever after!" He snapped. "I love you the only way I know how."

"That isn't love! Whatever the fuck it is you're trying to give me, it isn't love!"

Michael begged to differ.

"I don't have anything else in this useless world that I give a flying fuck for. You don't think that counts for anything?" he challenged me, seething at these countless rejections.

"What if I don't?"

His love was real, by his distorted standards. Too bad for him, my own standards were coming in to focus.

I could see beyond this blackened horizon we'd romanticized for so long. I wanted more than Michael's world. I needed more. His world wasn't equipped to nurture life.

I'm dying here. Give me back the sun.

"I've been here with you longer than anybody else. I saved your life." He was getting angrier with each word. "I can't sleep, Pete. I close my eyes, and I see you hanging there... If I hadn't made it in time, I would have gone with you."

...That...He meant that.

"...I can't spend my life rotting in your shadow. It's hurting me...You're hurting me."

"I'm protecting you! Happiness is an illusion. Do you want to live a lie?"

"I just want to live!"

Shattered, I told him how it is. This was it. The truth comes out.

"Whatever it takes to get me from today, to tomorrow, that's what I want…I just want to live." I choked it out. "I can't do that with you cramming all this negativity down my throat, all the time."

His face was a mix of conflicting emotions. Shock, betrayal, anger...and, guilt.

"...I just want to live. Is that okay with you? Huh, Michael?"

It's always been there, this craving of mine for life. Meaningful life. It wasn't very goth. And that's why Michael never nourished it.

He didn't have the sustenance to nourish it. That recipe never existed in his world. Hope…kindness… gratitude…joy…

Love.

All the misery he fed me…I couldn't stomach it, anymore. I never digested it. It all just sat in my body, churning and bubbling like a putrid pit of tar, poisoning me. Now it was coming back up like vomit.

With the black sleeve of his trench coat, Michael dabbed my face in the wake of my sobs. He reeked like cigarettes, and the sobbing aggravated my breathing. My throat got tighter, and before I knew it, I was fighting to get air in.

I couldn't breathe. My eyes shot open, I wheezed. It was a vile sound.

Michael didn't ask any questions. He yanked my backpack up off the truck floor, knowing exactly where my emergency inhaler was. I kept it in the same pocket for years.

Placing the plastic mouth piece at my lips as gently as he could in his haste, he dispensed the aerosol medication. The plastic hit my front teeth on the way in.

"….I'm sorry I'm not what you need." I clutched at his arm, taking the medicine in to my lungs. "I don't know how to be, Pete."

I never did answer Michael's first question.

I was spending my free time with Mike. I wasn't ashamed of it. But, I couldn't look Michael in the face and tell him I, yet again, chose someone else over him.

It wasn't the time. It was time for me to call it day.

At the bottom of the staircase, I looked up at the ludicrous climb I'd be taking. On my hands and knees, I dragged myself up.

Xxxxx



Review Consistent
Report Story